Therapist Notes Blog

Emotional Health Minute: Be aware of how the news media is impacting you.

Posted by on Oct 16th, 2014 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

There has been a spike in stressful news being covered by the media.  Whether it’s ISIS, Ebola or Enterovirus-D68, there are worrisome issues at hand in ourEmotional Health Minute world and own country.  This would be enough to be concerning for anyone but if you have a tendency for generalized anxiety about “bad things happening,” you might find yourself particularly anxious.

What you can do:

  • Take in the good.  Commit to a daily practice of noticing what’s right, beautiful, inspiring and positive going on in the world and around you.
  • Avoid obsessive media consumption.  If it’s important for you to stay aware of the goings on, pick one time in the day to check in with the news, preferable not before bedtime.
  • Do what feels good.  Do one thing a day that feels good or is relaxing.  Take a bath, a walk, a run, cook, spend time with a pet, your child or whatever resonates with you.
  • Be present.  Spend a few minutes a day sitting in a quiet place with closed eyes and noticing your breath fill and empty your lungs.  For the most satisfying breath, try to bring it all the way into your belly.  Notice your thoughts float by like clouds.  Let them pass with no judgment.

Life can be hard sometimes.  It can be painful, disturbing and hard to believe.  No one is immune to fear and worry at times.  Will we be ok?  Will those who we love be ok?  And these times are pushing some boundaries for many.  But excessive fear and anxiety can be a disservice to us.

If you make an effort to practice the above without much relief in your worry, considering getting additional support.

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Relationship Minute: Your mistakes don’t need to mean the end of your relationship.

Posted by on Sep 3rd, 2014 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

If you’ve messed up, the relationship is worth saving and your partner is open to allowing for positive change, you’re off to a good start.  But you have some work toRelationship Minute:  Your mistakes don't need to mean the end of your relationship. do.

To begin with, you and your partner should hone your communication skills to allow for the kind of dialogue that will be necessary to facilitate repair and change.  Your job is to fully own your part in what’s happened.  Your partner needs to feel validated in their feelings and that you are remorseful for your role in this.  Apologizing can be tough for some people as it’s a very vulnerable place to be!  But it’s important for you to go there in order to set the stage for your opportunity to be different moving forward.

Do some personal reflection on why you’ve behaved in a damaging way.  For the most part, people are not inherently mean but more likely driven by defense mechanisms and old wounds from the past.  Seek to understand yourself and what your history has to do with how you function in relationships.  If there is something there that needs resolution, do the work.  It can pay off big time in the long run.

Creating long term positive change can be hard work and the likelihood of falling off track again is high.  As long as you own it and repair it when it happens, you can chalk it up to being human but you must continue to try to do things differently.  Sometimes old conditioning and habits are tricky to change but give yourself a break.  Hopefully your partner will give you a break too and allow the opportunity to continue ahead.

Sometimes making change requires a helping hand.  I help couples interested in repairing hurts move ahead, alter their dynamics and find emotional safety together.

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Emotional Health Minute: Don’t sabotage your growth.

Posted by on Jul 2nd, 2014 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

If you are like most people, you’d prefer happiness over unhappiness.  Being human comes with challenges, failures, adversity as well as joy, peace and life Emotional Health Minute:  Don't Sabotage Your Growthsatisfaction. Consider yourself a work in progress when it comes to your emotional health.

So if your intentions are good but something still isn’t working, consider the possibility you might be sabotaging your own growth.  Consider a few ways you might be doing that:

  • You aren’t living authentically. There is a lack of alignment between how you feel about yourself and how you present to the world.
  • You have unresolved baggage.  Old wounds have a way of serving as blockades to your sense of self and relationships.
  • You put too much pressure on yourself to change as quickly as possible.  You want things to be different NOW and get down on yourself easily rather than accepting that there is an ebb and flow to growth.

What you can do:

Take an honest look at yourself and ways you might inadvertently be bringing yourself down.  This also means considering that there is a reason you are sabotaging yourself.  This can get a little sticky and tricky to figure out and if you struggle to get traction, consider getting assistance.

I help people learn about what blocks their growth and how to get themselves
unstuck.

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Skype sessions also available in some cases (CA residents).

 

Relationship Minute: How is the balance in your relationship?

Posted by on Mar 20th, 2014 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

There are many ways people do relationships.  At the end of the day, I subscribe to the notion “whatever works.”  But I find that a distress point for many couples Relationship Minute:  How is your relationship balance?in my practice is relationship balance.  Relationship balance is the “you, me and we” parts of the relationship.  Imagine two overlapping circles with the overlapping parts representing the “we” and the side parts representing the the individuals.

The trick is that people have different ideas of what relationships are supposed to be in time spent nurturing those parts.  Perhaps you believe that the circles should be almost entirely overlapping, where the bulk of the energy and time is on each other.  Or maybe a heavy focus on seeking satisfaction individually within the dynamic resonates more.  There are many reasons behind why people settle in the places they do on this.

How is the balance in your relationship?

Sometimes couples can benefit from looking at how they see the circles overlapping and then talking about how they would like to see the circles overlapping.  A reset might be needed.  If you wish your partner didn’t seek solo activities so much – or that your partner would give you some breathing room – consider having a discussion about your balance.  This is one way to avoid the potential for resentment build-up.

I help couples get clear on what their dynamic looks like, understand the reasons behind each of their personal comfort zones and find compromise to better meet each other’s needs.

The “you, me and we” are all vital components of emotional and relationship health.

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Emotional Health Minute: Your worry is not you.

Posted by on Dec 13th, 2013 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

When overwhelmed with worry it’s easy to feel like it permeates your very being.  It’s hard to separate the feeling from your very core.  That’s because it can be Emotional Health Minutepowerful, especially if the narrative that runs beneath you (your story) is negative:

“Something bad is going to happen.”

“They won’t like me.”

“If I don’t keep control, I will fall apart.”

Worry can actually help keep you safe in facilitating an appropriate reaction when things are dangerous – or can nudge you to do well in a well-balanced and realistic way (not perfectionism and/or over-achievement). But it’s not helpful when it becomes a permeating and constant drive that stems from a place of fear.

“If I don’t do ___, then something bad is going to happen.”

If you are organized around preventing the “something bad” then it can keep you from enjoying life and others in the way you were meant to.

What you can do:

Remember that your worry is not you. Work with the worry by externalizing it. When it shows up and sits down next to you, say “hello” and ask it what it needs.  When you put it outside of yourself, it’s less likely to feel so encompassing and rather a visitor that you can be curious about.

I help people understand the root of their worry and how to develop a different relationship with it so it no longer holds you captive.

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Skype sessions also available in some cases (CA residents).

 

Announcing LoveAndLifeToolbox.com: Tools for emotional and relationship health.

Posted by on Nov 14th, 2013 in News | 0 comments

You may or may not know that along with my therapy practice and this site, MarinTherapyAndCounseling.com, I have maintained another emotional and relationship health resources site with articles by me and other therapy and counseling related professionals.  Until recently, it was called The Toolbox at LisaKiftTherapy.com.  A few weeks ago, I relaunched a new site based on the old called:

LoveAndLifeToolbox.comLove and Life Toolbox

I am pleased to say that the response has been wonderful to my new site, even getting a recent “shout-out” by John Grohol, PhD of PsychCentral.com, who is a trail-blazer in online resources such as this.

I invite you to look around in the areas that interest you.  Here are a few options:

Marriage and Relationship Tools

Emotional Health Tools

Therapy Tools

If you could use a little more help individually or in your relationship than a website can provide, please contact me about the possibility of scheduling an appointment.

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Relationship Minute: What are you doing with your choice points?

Posted by on Oct 17th, 2013 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

Considering your relationship, think about the countless choice points there are in a single day.  We all have those moments where we can choose to act in one way orRelationship Minute another, choose to say one thing vs another…

What are you doing with your choice points?  Do they support or degrade your relationship?  Or perhaps they are neutral.  The important thing to keep in mind that those moments take you down one of those three roads.

What are you doing with your choice points?

Couples can get in cycles where they don’t choose very wisely or perhaps they are so activated that their emotions drive the direction.  When there is resentment or unexpressed frustration it can be challenging to behave in a relationship enhancing way when you’d rather say:

“Screw you!”

I help couples remember that they are responsible for how they act with each other.  If there is a lot of conflict, sometimes getting really clear on what that’s about (often not what it appears to be) is a good first step, followed by communicating in a way that encourages the other in rather than push them away.  At the end of the day, we all want to feel emotionally safe with each other.

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Relationship Minute: You are not your partner.

Posted by on Sep 25th, 2013 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

Because we all look at the world through our own pair of unique eyes, it’s not uncommon to have totally different experiences and perceptions of life.  This is a result of manyRelationship Minute:  You are not your partner. things but particularly the totality of our prior experiences.  We learn and assign meaning to things as we go.  The meaning might serve us well and sometimes it might not.

In your relationship, it’s important to remember that your partner is not you.  People can have expectations that the other should view life in the same way they do and often get frustrated if they don’t.

“How could he think like that??”

“How could she not have prioritized that?  Isn’t it clear??”

Those who have worked with me before have heard me say, “Let each other BE.”  Partially what I mean is to allow room and compassion for the way you each see the world.  In my couples therapy practice, I help couples make space for each other in this way.  In some cases, it’s very difficult for people to really let that sink in.  But it’s an important lesson in the health of your relationship.

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Emotional Health Minute: Are your automatic thoughts friend or foe?

Posted by on Sep 5th, 2013 in Emotional Health Minute | 0 comments

We all have an inner voice that chimes in, chirps, directs and processes experiences.  An often times damaging aspect of our inner voice are the automatic thoughts Emotional Health Minute(thought+assessment+emotional reaction) that can race by without us being completely aware of them (or their consequences).  The problem is, for those who struggle with excessive worry or poor self concept, these thoughts can be toxic and perpetuate unproductive ways of thinking.  Keep in mind how often your emotional reaction comes on the heels of a thought.

Here are some examples of these types of automatic thoughts and how they can ding you:

  • “I forgot my purse, I’m such an idiot.” (reinforce poor self concept)
  • “She is late, something bad must have happened to her.”  (reinforce general worry/fear)

Automatic thinking is usually shaped by core belief systems and narratives about self, others and the world.  It tends to reinforce the story.  But what if the story is inaccurate?  What if the experiences you had in your family of origin (trauma, quality of parent attachment, criticism, neglect, etc) led to a misunderstanding by your child brain about what it all meant?

In my therapy practice, I help people unpack their pasts to help talk back to and shift unhelpful automatic thinking patterns.  Neuroscience has shown us that just because you were “wired” to react in the way you were, doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.  I teach clients how to do just that.

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Skype sessions also available in some cases (CA residents).

 

Relationship Minute: Trust is the single most important element in your relationship.

Posted by on Aug 1st, 2013 in Relationship Minute | 0 comments

Consider how much the presence of absence of trust can impact your relationship?  It’s a critical element of what I often refer to as “emotional safety,” that which ideallyRelationship Minute
allows for a safe haven in each other.  John Gottman, PhD recently completed another in a long line of books about the research behind what makes or breaks couples.  It’s called, What Makes Love Last?  How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal in which he speaks to the importance of attunement in building trust.

How is attunement broken down into behaviors?  Here is one helpful acronym:

ATTUNE

Awareness of your partner’s emotion

Turning towards the emotion

Tolerance of two different viewpoints

Trying to understand your partner

Non-defensive responses to your partner

and responding with Empathy

Obviously there is more to trust than attunement.  For example, if the trust has been broken in your relationship (infidelity, hiding behaviors, failure to support on important areas, etc) then work needs to be done to repair this.  Without trust, what do you really have?

In my couples therapy practice I help couples find ways to reconnect after trust violations and behave in a more “attuned” way towards each other moving forward.

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