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We Attract What We Are

11-24-2017

By Jennifer Novak, Social Media and Content Director

When we go through the process of finding a partner, we are bound to have some ideas around the kind of person we would like to be with. Some of these qualities might include the physical attractiveness of the other person, their values, their beliefs, or their interests. Oftentimes, we desire to be with someone who is in sync with ourselves – someone who shares a similar mindset about life that we do.

What’s important to keep in mind is that when we go about trying to find that ideal partner, we need to keep our vision of who they are in mind. This is true for a multitude of reasons – we can lose sight of our ideal partner if we do not envision them clearly; we can find ourselves “settling” out of a fear of loneliness; or, we can find our own values shifting based on being with a person that finds us attractive – we can bend ourselves to the needs of another person.

In the below video, Bob Proctor talks about the importance of mapping your ideal partner in terms of the law of attraction – that is, by envisioning your partner and living life as if they are already in your life, that you will eventually attract that person to you. Take a look below and pay careful attention to the concept of mapping your partner – the act of listing out the qualities that you would want to see in the person with whom you hold a relationship.

Let’s walk through the exercise completed in this video together. Start by drawing your own circle and lines outside of it. While Proctor provides some great ideas for the qualities we would probably want to see in a partner, each of us are unique and place different values on different things. Consider for yourself the qualities that YOU most desire in a partner – what does that person believe? What are their values? How do they choose to spend their time, both with you and on their own? Draw as many lines as you would like and be as specific about these qualities as you can.

Now, let’s take a moment to stop the exercise. We’re going to explore something that came up in the video briefly, but it’s something I think deserves quite a bit more attention. Think about the people who have most recently come into your life – those with whom you’ve had a relationship that ended for one reason or another. What qualities do they share with your ideal person? What qualities differ?

The point here is this: We attract what we are. While we may desire a specific type of partner, ultimately who we will be most attracted to us are those who are innately similar to us. Those qualities in your ideal partner that your past partners don’t share, the things that you do not want to see in the person you end up with in the long-term? That’s the stuff we have to look inward upon – something about those qualities appear in ourselves and attract those who harmonize with them.

This is where we depart from imagining a relationship and we start imagining our ideal self. While this technique is beneficial for bringing a potential partner into our life, it’s also a tool for mapping out the things about ourselves that we will need to address before that ideal person will appear and before we are ready to have a relationship with that person.

Look at the comparison of lists – ideal partner qualities versus past partner qualities – and pick out three that seem to differ the most. Do these negative qualities in past partners shed light on things about yourself that you would like to improve in? Do they indicate a trend in who has been attracted to you? If so, you have a starting point – clear goals for self-improvement that you can implement with dedication and planning.

The work involved will be dependent on what kinds of traits you selected – article topics all on their own. But by having a clearer starting place, and giving yourself permission to reflect and accept the truth that this comparison of partners provides, you are moving through the early stages of a path that can bring you both self-fulfillment and meaningful connection to a future partner.

The Staircase That Is Anxiety

10-11-2017

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

No matter how laid back you are, how accepting of the present moment, or how well you manage stress, everyone knows what it’s like to feel worry or to be anxious. While many of us feel these moments of anxiety for only short periods of time, for some, the feeling of anxiety never quite goes away. If you haven’t lived with chronic anxiety, it can be really hard to understand how debilitating this feeling can be and what impacts it can have on the life of the person suffering from it. In this post, we’ll share how you can support a loved one living through anxiety.

In the following video, we see a great example of what it can feel like to have anxiety, and how, sometimes, this “anxiety staircase” can become a tremendous obstacle for the person living with it:

This video shares some hard truths about anxiety. The first is that the person living with anxiety knows that what they are worried about is often irrational. That they can see what it would feel like to approach life without worry. Regardless of this knowledge, and this is one of the most important points made here, is that it is ALWAYS a struggle for the person with anxiety to get to a point where they do not feel it, where they are operating within the realm of rational thought.

What does this mean for those of us with a loved one who is experiencing anxiety? Take a look at the below tips for supporting someone dealing with this issue:

  • Remember that the staircase is always there, but depending on the day, it might be much larger and steeper than it was before. This means that whatever issue is causing anxiety, some days this might be a small struggle and others an impossible one. It’s important not to tell the person with anxiety to simply get over this issue – they don’t have control over the size of that staircase.
  • The top of the staircase is usually visible… but sometimes it may be clouded. When the person with anxiety seems unable to see the rational “landing,” gently remind them that this exists and that whether or not they reach it that day is okay.
  • There will be days when the person with anxiety cannot climb the staircase. Maybe they’ve already tried and slid back down; maybe it is so overwhelming that they just can’t do it. Share your support with them, but don’t force them to do something they simply don’t have the mental energy to do.
  • Celebrate the successes. When a person with anxiety does something they were previously unable to do (even a task that may seem simple to others), give positive reinforcement. This is the fuel that can encourage those living with anxiety to push themselves a bit further every day.

The Tree Illusion: Individuality is a Myth

9-16-2017

For many of us, one of the biggest myths we are told is that true strength comes from self-reliance. That we as people are most successful when we can show that we achieved success with the help of no one but ourselves. This is something that’s ingrained into our values and beliefs from an early age – we tell children to be self-reliant; we encourage people to value their own success over others.

The problem with this belief is two-fold: First, no one achieves success on their own – we all rely on the systems that surround us and the people who support us on our journeys, even if we still make our own, significant contributions. Secondly, the myth perpetuates the idea that asking for help is a weakness – that by reaching out to others, it is akin to admitting defeat. This creates a huge problem for those experiencing crisis or trouble coping – instead of believing in the power of reaching out, we feel shame in doing so, which perpetuates the other negative feelings we may be experiencing and can result in a much more difficult and painful time than if we felt comfort in seeking guidance and support.

In the following video, we see this comparison made beautifully. Take a look at how our perception of trees as individual systems is just as flawed as believing that we are alone in our own lives:

So if individuality is a myth, if we recognize that we need other people in our lives in order to be our best selves, what can we do to move past our old beliefs and embrace the role of others in supporting us throughout our lives?

  • Map your support network: Our first step should be to figure out who already exists within our support network – those people or systems that we can turn to for help should we need it. These are the people we trust, the people we can call if needed. We may have never or rarely used our support network, but it is there.
  • Identify the gaps: Once we’ve mapped our support network, we need to pay attention to those areas in our life where we don’t have the interconnection we wish for. Our support network should include people from a variety of domains – familial, social, spiritual, intimate. Who exists in your support network for each of these? What steps can you take to start filling the gaps if they exist?
  • Share gratitude: For those who are in our support network, we should prioritize valuing and maintaining those relationships as well. This can be done by simply taking the time to connect with those in our network, thanking them for what they do for us, and being there for them when needed.
  • Accept vulnerability and reach out for help: Finally, when we do experience times in our life where we need to “activate” our support network, we need to accept that it is okay to do so and actually do it. There is a strength in being vulnerable and taking this step, otherwise it would be much easier. This means actively confronting our ingrained beliefs and accepting that our reliance on others isn’t a weakness, but a gift.

Realizing our interconnection and using it to boost ourselves and others is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. By doing so, we can finally shed off the layers that keep us from truly connecting with others and finding the grace that resides in being part of something greater than ourselves.

Louise L. Hay: Thoughts on Living a More Joyous Life

8-22-2017

Louise L. Hay, a self-help author and motivational speaker who helped bring the power of affirmations to a broad audience as early as the 1980’s, has been inspiring people across the world for decades to live a more joyous life through a deeper understanding of their own inner world. In this article, we wanted to share a video collection of footage from a recent film she produced that presents some of the greatest collective work of this individual. Go ahead and take a look at the video below – when you return, we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from this and consider how we can apply them practically in our own journeys of self-growth.

While this video covers several broad subject areas, the key theme here is pretty simple: if we want to to be happy, we need to know that happiness comes from within us. That doesn’t mean that we can be happy by simply willing ourselves to do so – it requires patience, courage, and a dedication to improving our abilities in this over time. But for all of us, it is possible. Let’s consider some of the main points made by Louise L. Hay and how we can incorporate these into our daily experiences:

  • Paying attention to our thoughts: Louise believes that our thoughts aren’t just passing reflections of the world around us – instead, she maintains that our thoughts are the main drivers of our experience of life. As such, we need to prioritize paying attention to them. Although this is pretty simple, most people ignore their thoughts fairly regularly. To start paying attention to yours, try this technique: When you find yourself lost in thought, take a moment to reflect on what those thoughts were. Do they represent what you want in your life? No matter the answer, take note of it. Even better, journal each day about these discoveries and watch for trends over time.
  • Doing affirmations: Tell yourself you love yourself. Speak directly to yourself about the good that will come into your life, every day, more than once. Imagine for yourself what the ideal journey for your life would be and tell yourself that you are capable of this and will succeed.
  • Be gracious: Have gratitude for the things you experience and receive and share that gratitude. Find the positive in everything. Tell people how thankful you are for them on a regular basis. When we send out gratitude, even for small things, we open ourselves up to receive bigger positives in our lives.
  • Know that your beliefs are choices: Louise maintains that for every person, what they believe is a choice. This may not be a choice we remember making, but how we feel about ourselves, others, and the world is something we choose to do – and something we can choose to change. Challenge yourself to think critically about your own beliefs – are these things that bring you closer to what you want in your life? If not, can you choose different beliefs?

By embracing the unknowns in life and understanding that we have the power to shape our future, we not only empower ourselves, but we also push ourselves closer to the path of enlightenment that Louise speaks about. This may seem a bit daunting – do we really need to challenge every thought and belief we hold? Not really. But if we can get into the practice of doing so, even on a small scale at first, we can help shift our thinking to a way that better supports our own happiness, thus bringing greater joy and satisfaction into our lives.

This entry was posted in Self-Growth and Self Improvement by Jennifer Novak.

How to Have a Better Conversation and Connect With Others

When we think about the ways in which we communicate with others on a daily basis, the act of actually speaking and sharing conversation with people may not be as high on the list as it once was. Instead, we find that most of our communication is digital – text, email, liking or commenting on status updates. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with staying connected though technology, it does leave gaps in our human connection – without speaking with someone face to face, how close can we really be to them?

In the below video, Celeste Headlee tackles this issue head on by bringing to light the problems we have directly talking to one another and maintaining non-offensive and worthwhile conversation. Watch below and come back for an exploration of the ten tips she describes for being a better conversationalist – we’ll be exploring these though the lens of how they apply to our most personal relationships.

Now that we’ve heard about these tips, let’s consider how they work in our closest relationships – those with our partners, children, and dearest loved ones.

  1. Don’t multitask – This means that in order to truly connect, we must dedicate ourselves to focusing on the conversation and only that. It can be hard to do, especially when we live busy lives! What we don’t want is for our partners to think that they aren’t a priority – we need to make sure those we care about know that we care enough to invest our time with them.
  2. Don’t pontificate – Meaning holding back opinions that we feel are right, and being open to learning. This may be one of the most important tips in the context of personal relationships, because it allows us the space in a conversation to see potential for compromise and a willingness to hear the opinions of others.
  3. Ask open-ended questions – This is a wonderful tip for bringing out more fruitful conversation with someone whom we are trying to build (or rebuild) a relationship with. By giving someone else the space to think carefully about their responses with who, what, when, where, why, and how questions, and for us to listen to their answers, we dive much more deeply into their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
  4. Go with the flow – Don’t stop listening because you’ve thought of something you’d like to say or ask. Let your loved one talk. If it’s that important, bring it up in a later conversation. Don’t disrupt the flow of speaking to someone else with your own agenda.
  5. Say “I don’t know” – Maintain your credibility with loved ones by being open when you don’t have the answer to something. Better yet, make a commitment to finding answers if possible and working through unknowns together.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs – When a loved one opens up to you about something they are experiencing, they aren’t seeking an understanding of the circumstances – they are seeking an acceptance of their feelings. Focus on the feelings and provide support to those when you feel the urge to compare stories.
  7. Don’t repeat yourself – At best, this can make it seem as though you aren’t paying attention; at worst, that you are being condescending. Trust your loved ones to hear you the first time and only repeat yourself when it’s clear that hasn’t happened.
  8. Stay out of the weeds – Again, when it isn’t needed, avoid oversharing details that someone doesn’t really care about. Focus on the big picture and answer questions about “the weeds” if they arise.
  9. Listen – Pay attention to the person speaking. Carefully think about their words until they are done speaking, and give them time to finish their thoughts without cutting them off. Give your energy to this and avoid “filling in the blanks” with your own thoughts and beliefs.
  10. Be brief – While this may not always be the case, your time with loved ones may be limited – make sure you spend your time in conversation wisely, using it to build deeper connections and help them to feel the support you provide them.

When couples come to therapy, one of the greatest complaints is the feeling of lost connection, often as a result of not taking the time to have conversation. With the above, you can start rebuilding this in your own relationship or prevent lost connection in the future.

When We Blame First: How Do We Let Go of This?

07-16-2017

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

When we experience a negative event in our lives, how many of us find ourselves reacting immediately with placing blame on others? Why do we do this and what are the negative impacts of this on ourselves and our relationships? In this post, we’ll be exploring the blame process and why this reaction comes so easily for people, the detrimental impacts of this, and what we can do to shut this reaction down more readily over time.

To understand why we blame others, let’s take a look at this brief video featuring Brene Brown. Here, she openly shares her own struggles with blaming and provides valuable insight as to why we do this.

From this, we see two important points about why we blame:

1.It is a way that we attempt to find some reason for why something unexpected happens; therefore, we are creating a semblance of control for our minds in uncontrollable circumstances.

2.It is a projection of our anger and pain, a quick way of expressing these emotions without the trouble of holding ourselves or someone else accountable.

There are a few problems with the “quick-to-blame” mentality. First, we aren’t addressing the root of our problem – by first blaming others when something bad happens, we are putting a stopper on reasonable and effective communication. Second, we put others in the position of dealing with the mental hurdles that we’ve navigated to place blame on them, hurdles that may not make sense to anyone but ourselves. When we don’t clearly explain why we are upset about something, and instead point fingers at our loved ones for things seemingly out of their control, we further reinforce the walls we have in our relationships. Both of these things have the potential to contribute to more and more relationship problems, such as stonewalling, anger, and a refusal to hear our partner’s side of things.

If you find yourself jumping to blame first, consider the following strategies to prevent this reaction:

  • Stop and breathe: When something unexpected happens, take a moment to process before saying anything. Analyze your thoughts. Are you already starting to place blame? Is the blame process logical or rooted in a place of anger and frustration?
  • Consider the source: If blame is coming from a place of anger, what caused this anger in the first place? For example, in Brene’s scenario, it wasn’t the spilled coffee – it was that her partner was late to return home. What might be happening in your relationship that’s causing negative feelings that you haven’t shared?
  • Discuss how you feel: While it may not be productive or enjoyable to feel the need to blame, it is a sign that there is something bothering you that you haven’t communicated. When this happens, take the time to engage in self-reflection and figure out what you need to communicate; then, do it without placing blame. Try to hold yourself accountable to holding others accountable in a respectful and empathetic way.

Through the need to blame, we are given the opportunity to peek into the issues facing our relationship – while letting go of blame, let’s commit to working towards more effective ways of communicating out needs and feelings with our partners.

Bringing Home Baby: Easing This Transition for Couples

06-04-2017

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

It’s hard to describe what bringing home a baby means to new parents – until you’ve experienced this transition, it seems impossible to really understand the changes your life undergoes, from long-term plans to the daily routines you’ve had. When parents bring home a baby for the first time, it can be a time of overwhelming joy – but with any new change, stress and feelings of disconnection can also be present. Without understanding what a new baby can do to a relationship, this can be an especially vulnerable time for marital discord. We love this article from Women’s Health Mag – it’s such an honest look at the most common relationship troubles during this transition. Take a look – when you come back, we’ll explore some questions to ask before you bring baby home that can help avoid these issues.

The good news is that these issues can mitigated with some honest and thoughtful conversations with your partner. Ideally these would happen before discussing having a baby (or at least before the baby is born), but if these are things you are struggling with in your own relationship, start the conversation as soon as possible.

  • What role expectations do you both have regarding child-rearing, especially at the newborn phase? How do you expect your partner to support you? How will you communicate when you need more help or when you are feeling overwhelmed? If you are planning on returning to work, how will these roles shift at that time? What additional supports would you consider to help mitigate the stress of working and raising a child?
  • How prepared do you both feel to provide daily care to a newborn? How can you communicate with one another if you are concerned about the care provided by your partner to the baby? What are your expectations for care and are these realistic things to expect from your partner all of the time?
  • Your body will need time to recover after child-birth, regardless of yours or his sex drive. How can you embed intimacy during this time? How will you make time for this even after your body is healed? How would you prefer to communicate about feeling dissatisfied with the amount of intimacy during this time if it becomes an issue?
  • Do you and your partner spend quality time together now? How will you hold yourselves accountable to scheduling this time after the baby comes? What supports do you have that will allow one-on-one time without bringing baby along?
  • What are each of your parenting styles and philosophies? How were each of you raised, and how is that influencing how you intend to parent your child? When baby comes, how will you discuss parenting differences as they arise in a respectful way?

While these are a lot of things to consider before having a baby, they are essential to making this transition successful. Without having a conversation around these issues, problems like resentment, stress, and isolation can arise – things that quickly drive deep wedges in relationships. Above all, remember that effective communication, the willingness to be flexible and insightful, and placing your commitment to your family above all else is what powers couples through the new baby stage.

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