Couples, Your Tone May be Ruining Your Communication! Tips to Stop the Confusion!

You know how people say, “It’s not what you say, it’s HOW YOU SAY IT?” I’m here to tell you, it’s a real thing and if it keeps coming up in your relationship, I am here to offer some insight and tools!

As a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in New York City, I have seen hundreds of couples in my private practice alone, not to mention the countless families I have worked with throughout NYC and Westchester County. All socioeconomic groups, and I do mean, ALL. Different cultures, ages, sexual orientations, etc. and I can tell you one of the most profound observations I have made during my career and lifetime is that at the end of the day, people are people, meaning mostly everyone wants to feel seen and be spoken to with respect.

Fellow human being, we are more the same than we are different.

As a culture, as well as in my field, we talk a lot about how to have effective communication. I have written blogs specifically around, Validation Do’s and Don’ts, How to Create Emotional Safety in Your Relationship, and Couples Start Arguing Less by Putting Ego to Rest because I am dedicated and passionate around giving couples tools to support their relationships. My goal is to help couples thrive and support the individuals within those relationships with existing authentically while also enjoying their relationship! Today, I want to give center stage to the voice and an important factor that may impact how your message is received:

TONE

I believe this has been a miss on my part in terms of giving it the spotlight, its very own blog. I talk about it DAILY. There is not a day of sessions that goes by that this does not come up. TONE. My hope, is that by the end of this blog, you will go into conversations with your loved one’s reminding yourself that although you may be using thoughtful words and mean those words wholeheartedly, if they lack warmth and passion in tone, they just might be a miss. In fact, your message will probably be diluted, by tone alone.

Sweet words with contradictory tone and body language send mixed signals which can lead to mistrust.

This is unfortunate because more often than not, partner’s mean what they say. There can be many reasons why a person is coming across as cold, disconnected, and detached. I am not here to judge, simply to support your message being delivered and you being heard in a way that accurately conveys your true feelings and intent.

The Research? Let’s go deeper

The numbers, the research, the controversy!

The past research “proved” that 93% of communication was non-verbal and 7% verbal (the words we choose). Those numbers come from two studies done in 1967, that were run by Psychologist Albert Mehrabian. Many current experts in the field of communication have shared that those numbers are untrue, that the sample was too small, that the research is outdated, and that Mehrabian himself stated that he never meant for those numbers to apply to ALL communication! Well, there you have it!

Have what exactly?

Well, now you know that those numbers may not be exact and that the conversation around the exact percentages is controversial. However, what the current research tells us is that it ALL matters. Your words do matter. Your tone does matter. Your behavior does matter. IT ALL MATTERS!

According to Edward G. Wertheim, Ph.D. in his article, The Importance of Effective Communication (I will leave the link below). Dr. Wertheim identified 5 Roles non-verbal cues can play in communication (I will expand on the cues a bit):

5 ROLES NON-VERBAL CUES PLAY

  • Repetition: Non-verbal cues serve as matching/repeating the message you are conveying verbally. Meaning that your non-verbal cues are matching your words. When all forms of communication match, it leads the listener to feeling safer, and the communicator is therefore more believable and seems more trustworthy.
  • Contradiction: It is this particular cue that causes the most damage during communication. Your non-verbal cues can send the opposite message of what your words are sending/saying. Your tone, body language, and gestures may not match, be incongruent, and/or contradict your words. When your non-verbal cues do not match your words, it usually leads to mistrust and confusion.
  • Substitution:  A non-verbal cue may substitute a verbal message. This can be a look in your eyes (some say the eyes are the windows to our soul) that conveys your message more vividly than words ever could.
  • Complementing: Think of this as the cherry on top. It is a non-verbal cue that complements your words or adds to the message your words are trying to convey. An example would be if your verbally expressed that you are excited for your partner’s promotion and then reached in and gave them a hug while sharing you are proud of them with your words.
  • Accenting: This non-verbal cue is like putting your words in bold, all caps, and underlining. According to Dr. Wertheim, “it may accent or underline a verbal message. Pounding the table, for example, can underline the importance of your message.”

TYPES OF NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION (Special Focus on Voice):

Voice is highlighted below, I also make mention of 6 other non-verbal cues below for your reference:

1. VOICE – What makes this a non-verbal form of communication is that it is considered paralinguistic (part of communication that does not involve words, such as intonation, volume, pitch, timbre, and speed) in which the inflection or sound is what is sending a particular message. I am starting with voice because it is the cue we are honing in on in this blog and it is usually the form of non-verbal communication that comes up most in session. It often leaves both the communicator and the receiver of the message frustrated and confused .

When it comes to the session room (and even sometimes in my personal life), I frequently run across the same issue: One partner shares something verbally and when doing so is completely unaware of what their tone and inflection sound like. I usually hear the receiver tell the communicator:

You sound like a robot”

You sound like you are talking to a stranger”

I heard no emotion at all in your voice, do you even care?”

You’re using the right words but you sound inauthentic!”

Now, think about the other partner, the communicator. Can you imagine how they feel? Have you ever been told similar words? Have you used them? Put yourself in the shoes of the communicator. They had a long day, they have things on their mind. They are really trying to show up for their partner and they are being 100% authentic. In fact, they are quite proud of themselves for getting to a point in their own self development where they are able to hold a safe space and say validating statements.

EXAMPLE: Taken from a recent session (true story):

Communicator:I love you babe, I know we will work this out, we have the tools so we will get through this.”

I am wondering how you, the reader, just read that statement made by the communicator. Did the voice in your head read it in a warm or passionate tone? or did you read the words with no tone at all? The tendency of most people is to attach a warm tone to words and phrases like the one’s the communicator used in the example above. I mean come on, let’s admit it, those words are great! There’s the reinforcement of love and commitment, along with a term of endearment. Who wouldn’t be happy to hear those words?

I know someone who was not happy with that message? Can you guess who it was? It was the partner on the receiving end! Although the words are thoughtful, what you are not privy to is how it was said, the good ol’ “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” at play. It was shared in a monotone pitch, low and slow paced, the facial expression was also expressionless. The tone used made it impossible for the receiver to know how the communicator felt because the tone was flat. Hmmm, what message do you think that sent? A contradiction, maybe? How do you think the receiver felt? I can tell you, they felt hurt, confused, and mistrusting. They shared,

Receiver:

Don’t sound so enthusiastic!”(said sarcastically).

I am here pouring out my heart, trying to share my feelings and you are yessing me.”

“I feel like you are trying to pacify me and as if you find this conversation boring!”

“If you don’t mean it, please don’t share it.”

You are either disinterested in me, this relationship, or both.” “Talk about low energy!”

How do you think the communicator felt? I can tell you that as well. They too felt hurt, confused and frustrated. Why? because:

Communicator:

“I don’t understand what’s wrong, I said I love you, I said we’ve got this and you are getting on me for tone…really? I can’t win…” (btw – “I can’t win” is a common response when a partner shares any type of unfavorable feedback).

You ask me to validate and use team language, I do that and I am still wrong?”

“I really feel like you just want to fight and have a problem when there doesn’t need to be one.”

You know I had a long day, can you consider how tired I am and not take it personally?”

I can talk for days and days about how this couple can get out of this conflict with the tools of Validation, not making assumptions, not taking things personally, etc. please see my validation blog for more info. However, once again, the purpose of this blog is to HIGHLIGHT TONE.

If only the communicator would have shared with their partner those same exact comforting words with warmth or passion in their tone and would have been fully present, everything would have been different. The entire interaction would have gone a different way. The words were spot on, the delivery was not only lack luster (unbeknownst to the communicator), it was also distancing and contradictory. Tone is used to clarify meaning and if is is contradictory, it is extremely confusing.

I was able to intervene and support the couple with understanding how their dance could have looked differently. I asked what each of them could have done differently. The parts of the sequence I highlighted were, the noble intent behind the Communicators message, the Receiver being able to give the benefit of the doubt while sharing how they experienced the communicator and why. I then had the Communicator slow down, take a few deep breathes, get fully present, and try again.

I specifically asked, “If you could not rely on only your words to convey this message, how would you get it across to your partner?” How can you show them warmth/passion? How can you let them know you care? How will they know you are 100% present in this moment with them?

If you were texting, what emoji would you use? We use emoji’s in text so the receiver understands the emotion behind the words. Are you being expressive (using non-verbal cues) of the emotions behind your words?

The Communicator tried again and needless to say they nailed it! So much so that they elaborated on what they originally said and shared it with a warm tone, as well as deep, focused eye contact. The Receiver was so touched, they cried and thanked their partner. They shared they both felt closer and seen after the exercise. See what awareness, intension, accountability, and slowing down can do!

Brief description of the other types of non-verbal communications:

2. Facial expressions – The human face is extremely expressive and many facial expressions are the same across cultures.

3. Body movement and posture –  The way you sit, walk, hold your head, as well as your posture and movements you make both overt and subtle communicates a lot to those around you.

4. Gestures – Such as a thumbs up, waving and pointing, as well as using your hands when speaking and during conflict.

5. Eye contact – HUGE! Eye contact communicates a world of thoughts and emotions. It can show hostility, affection, attraction, fear, etc. It also supports conversation flow and helps communicate interest.

6. Touch – The act of touch can be a major communicator from a big hug, to a touch on the knee, a caress of your face, a high five, pat on the back, are all examples of sending a message without words.

7. Space – We all need physical space and the amount you have can communicate intimacy and affection and can also be indicative of dominance.

HELPFUL TIPS FOR BOTH THE RECEIVER AND THE COMMUNICATOR

Sidenote re: Contradiction – It is the most confusing cue. It leads to the most arguments. Remember that the way you can get through it as a couple is to stay curious about it.

STAY CURIOUS when either yours or your partner’s words and cues do not align, don’t judge it and don’t take it personally! If they do not match, if it is a mixed message, rather than get defensive, use the tool of compassionately asking

HOW COME?

Example of times this happens:

  • A partner is furious/extremely triggered and they use a harsh tone and say, “I AM FINE, I LOVE YOU, I JUST NEED A MINUTE!” You may say to yourself, “that was not warm and fuzzy, they’re saying they are fine but they don’t seem fine.” Your partner may be trying to keep you emotionally safe or keep themselves calm or avoid an argument…there can be many reasons. Remember, STAY CURIOUS and ask HOW COME YOUR TONE DOES NOT MATCH YOUR WORDS?

Both the Communicator and the Receiver deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt. They both deserve to be given an opportunity to be heard and validated. They both have unique challenges and are in the interaction together. You are both on the same team. Set yourselves and your conversation up for success by ensuring you are individually ready to have the conversation. Taking at least 5 -10 minutes before having a tough conversation gives you time to take some deep breaths/mindful breathing, remind yourself that you are on the same team, that your partner deserves to be validated, and that your message gets to be heard. Ask yourself, “How can I get my message across in a respectful manner that is also authentic to how I am feeling right now and ensure my partner still feels cared for and safe?”

Tips for the Receiver – Try to not take their tone personally. If your partner’s tone is a contradiction, take a deep breath and let them know/bring it to their awareness. Give them the benefit of the doubt/grace and stay curious about what is happening on their end. Remember, when you share how you are hearing them, say it with warmth and love. Do not blame. Do not shame. Your teammate needs you to show up!

Tips for the Communicator – Take a deep breath before communicating. Remind yourself that you are speaking to someone you care about. Remind yourself that you are on the same team. Think about the message you would like to convey and how you would like to be heard. Then ensure that you are conveying that message, with your words and tone. If the Receiver shares that your tone is triggering them or that your tone seems incongruent/contradictory to what you are saying, take another deep breath and do not take it personally. Stay curious, ask them more about how they are hearing you. Validate them, and then try again. Your message gets to be heard!

BOTTOM LINE: SPEAK WITH LOVE (in words and with non-verbal cues), DON’T TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY, AND STAY CURIOUS!

Wishing you and your relationship the very best always!

With love, Tamara

Resource: Edward G. Wertheim, Ph.D. in his article, The Importance of Effective Communication

Click to access effectivecommunication5.pdf

Couples Accountability Check – Why You Need to Own Your Role!

Life is essentially all about relationships. The relationship we have with ourselves, our partner, family, friends, and essentially all things! I became an LMFT in order to support people with creating and sustaining happy, healthy, ever evolving relationships while living authentically. I have come to understand that when reflecting on my own relationships, there is of course that one common denominator, ME! When there are themes I find less than appealing in my relationship, although it would be great to be able to put all the blame on my partner, I get to ask myself, “what have YOU done to co-create this relationship dynamic?”

The same with you my friend. YOU are the common denominator in your relationships. I have some questions for you, how do you feel about the current state of your romantic relationship? Is it passionate? Does it excite you? Does it lack depth? Are you too busy to maintain it? Do you even want to? Now the big question…

WHAT HAS YOUR CONTRIBUTION BEEN TO THE CURRENT STATE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP?

While the tendency for most is to blame the other person when the relationship is stressed/strained, there still does exist the partner that takes on too much ownership and ends up feeling like they are always apologizing. I have had countless clients over the years share that they are consistently taking the one down, validating, and apologizing to their partner when they believe they have done nothing wrong. Clients share that they get tired of feeling like they are doing most of the work during conflict and either end up apologizing for all of it (over accountability) or they decide to stop validating all together and take no accountability or shut down (which usually leads to more conflict). Do you fall in either one of the two extremes? If so, which one?

Over accountability – You are owning too much (your role and theirs). Apologizing for the entire miscommunication and invalidating your own feelings. You may be bought into an old narrative that it is always your fault. Sometimes people will refer to an “empath” as a person who can over identify with the other person and absorb a disproportionate amount of the blame. Taking too much responsibility can also be a sign of a person who has fear of being alone (abandonment) and/or fear of conflict (conflict avoidant).

Under accountability – You are not owning your role (you are placing a majority of the blame on your partner). You point the finger at them, you blame them, and you are bought into a story that it is usually their fault. Sometimes people who do not own their role are considered selfish, they may lack self awareness, sometimes you can find that characteristic in a person who has narcissistic personality disorder, and they may use tactics such as gaslighting to make their partner feel like they have done something wrong. (Side note, just because someone struggles with owning their role does not automatically mean that they are a narcissist)

Just good ol’ Accountability – Both partners get to take accountability for their role in the conflict. We ALL get to accept responsibility for our actions and acknowledge how our actions impact the people we love. Emotional maturity means being able to be less ruled by emotions and having the ability to own our role without placing blame on others. It is much easier to blame, finger pointing is something that comes naturally for most. However, two people continuing to blame and point the finger of shame at one another are equally contributing to an unsafe/hostile environment. Instead of pointing your finger, use that hand to pick up a mirror and SEE YOURSELF!

WHAT IF WE AS INDIVIDUALS DID OUR WORK?

Work? Work meaning, what if we mean what we say and say what we mean? What if we stopped making assumptions about what our partners are thinking and what if we stopped assuming that we know how they feel? What if we stopped making everything about us as if they are out to get us and what if we STOP TAKING THINGS PERSONALLY? What if we were to show up as the best version of ourselves (highest selves) for each interaction and every conversation? What would that mean?

The book “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miquel Ruiz, addresses these topics directly. The book was recommended to me by a loved one when I first started my private practice and I recommend it to everyone. The Four Agreements being 1) Be Impeccable with your word 2) Don’t make assumptions 3) Don’t take anything personally 4) Always do your best. What if we were to “work” on focusing on those 4 things? What would happen is…

We would have more connecting relationships.

We would have less conflict.

We would live consciously.

We would engage in less negative self talk.

We would ask more questions.

We would no longer spiral with anxious thoughts and rumination would cease.

We would be more compassionate towards others.

We would be more compassionate towards self.

We would trust ourselves and other’s would be more likely to trust us.

We would be the best versions of ourselves/our highest selves.

We would be open and curious and attract more abundance.

We would be able to hold space for the people we love as well as humanity.

WE WOULD LEAD MORE AUTHENTIC LIVES, CREATE MORE FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS, AND PROBABLY BE A HECK OF A LOT HAPPIER!

The fact of the matter is, that the longer I practice individual and couples therapy, the clearer and clearer it becomes that the two people in the relationship need to do their individual work in order for the relationship to reach its full potential. Self-awareness is necessary. HOWEVER, CHANGE HAPPENS VIA ACTION. Action steps are necessary.

ACTION STEPS: SLOW DOWN, OWN YOUR ROLE, REGULATE YOUR EMOTIONS and VALIDATE YOUR PARTNER!

Slow down during the conversation, take a time out if necessary (length of time predetermined, usually 30 minutes, try to keep it to the same day) until you are ready to resume the conversation leading with a STATEMENT OF ACCOUNTABILITY. What is a statement of accountability? When the two of you come back together to resolve the conflict, you both resume prepared to share what you identified as something YOU could have done differently to experience/contribute to a more positive outcome.

Example:

Partner 1: “I am sorry I did not call you when I realized I was going to be late. I know that makes you feel disrespected and taken for granted. I recognize that you probably would not have started yelling when I came home if I would have called you and kept you in the loop. Regardless of what the circumstances were around my inability to call, the fact of the matter is that I didn’t call and that upset you.”

Partner 2: “I really appreciate you saying that. I didn’t realize you understood what was happening for me and your apology matters. I also recognize that you have a lot going on at work and forgot to call. I know that you not calling is not indicative of you taking me for granted and at the time I took it personally. The fact that I was triggered is still no excuse for raising my voice and cursing. I apologize because you do not deserve to be spoken to that way and I could have handled that better. I take accountability for my role and triggering you. I apologize for my role in our conversation turning into an argument.

STOP BLAMING..START OWNING!

When two people enter in to a conversation taking accountability/owning their role and validating the other person’s emotions, it creates a safe environment for both of them. Emotional safety is necessary for transparent and vulnerable conversations to take place. You have to be willing to do your part and not get sucked into engaging in an unhealthy or maladaptive dynamic. “My partner made me do it,” means someone is struggling with seeing their part in an interaction.

When we begin to accept that we do things because WE DECIDE TO DO THEM, we can feel motivated and empowered to learn to respond to our triggers differently. You hold the key!

When we get triggered we tend to say things to hurt the other person, or we say things to protect ourselves. The bottom line is that we say things that may not be our truth. If YOU are reactive, that’s a YOU THING! We do not get to blame the other person for our choice of reaction and inability to self-soothe/regulate our emotions . We can respond differently, we can respond respectfully, and we can respond from a place of love once we learn how to manage our responses. You get to learn how to hold yourself accountable in your relationship!

I want to be clear that this does not mean that you do not show up for/support one another. I do believe that if you decide to be in a committed relationship, you get to both be clear around what you need/want support to look like for your unique relationship. Also, under no circumstances should a person stay in a relationship that is abusive. If you believe you are in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, I encourage you to get immediate support. A client of mine has the mantra, “I can conquer anything with communication” – DF. You can indeed conquer anything with communication, just be sure to speak your truth with warmth and own your role when you do! When we come from a non-judgmental place, when we own our role, and when we lead with love, there is nothing we can not discuss. The goal is to be able to create an emotionally safe and authentic relationship. It starts with self. Remember, inner peace can not come from your partner, it comes from within and is the determinant of creating peace within your relationship!

Wishing you and your relationship love and peace always,

Tamara

Remember, “Me?” A Question for the Most Important Person in Your Life!

Naked in the mirror, I see an image reflected back to me, familiar, yet unfamiliar, I seek clarity. I look intensely for understanding, as deep as my eyes can see but that vision is skewed by what I decipher mentally. The truth is my soul has the sight I seek, I look in the mirror, and speak out compassionately, Remember me?

How can we remember someone we do not know? Many of us know ourselves in the context of others and the roles we play in our lives.

Many moons ago, when you were a child, you were told and taught who you were and got cast in a role that supported you around creating a persona, “a mask.” You were shown how to show up in the world and you have probably been following suit ever since. You get to challenge what you have been told about who you are!

What was your role? Were you the smart one? The professional one? The Comedian/class clown? Maybe your caregivers told you that you would run the world, that you were a “heartbreaker,” that you would be “successful,” that you were “selfless,” or that you were “selfish.”

Whatever the narrative/script was in your family of origin, it absolutely impacted you…How can I make such a strong declaration? Because our family of origin/childhood impacts all of us!

We all come out of childhood with wounds and a role. Our wounds and roles get reinforced throughout our lives because we create filters and begin to only extract information that supports our belief around who we are and how others will treat us. How aware are you of your role? of your wounds? How is that showing up in your life today? Do you want to continue operating out of them or do you chose to heal them, find yourself, and live the fullest life possible?

(Disclosure: As most children, I loved to draw as a child, and one day after making a creation I thought was spectacular, I was told, “an artist you’ll never be” and that stayed with me for the rest of my life. It turned something I did for fun into something I was not good at. A comment made by a parent in innocence can be a wound that stays for a lifetime)

What if we no longer decided to play our role? What if the part you have been playing your entire life no longer works for you? What if you are tired of being the responsible one that everyone turns to for money? or the strong one that everyone dumps their emotional wounds on? or if you are the single one that gets to be the babysitter for everyone else’s children and should be readily available for anything? You may have been the one that people did not believe in and now lack self confidence because you learned not to believe in yourself. Are you the one that always takes care of everyone else and has been taught (and learned well) how to put your needs and feelings on the back burner to take care of everyone else’s needs first and now struggles to use your voice?

You can rewrite the script. How? Check in with yourself, get to know yourself, and then live in your truth. YOUR TRUTH, not someone else’s truth about who you are.

You can be taught new language and acquire new boundary setting tools that support you with creating and existing in a world that works for you. Not in a selfish, narcissistic way, but more so in a way that you are considering others while ALSO CONSIDERING YOURSELF! Self consideration sounds simple enough, yet so many of us struggle with it!

When we are getting to know someone new, what do we do?

  • Spend time with them
  • Create a space where they feel safe to share (non-judgmental and supportive)
  • Ask them a TON of questions
  • Watch how they interact with others
  • Watch how they take care of themselves

We get to know and learn about ourselves in the same way. Curiosity, empathy, openness, and honesty. Forget all you have been told about who you are and continue on your journey of self exploration….

REMEMBER, ME? 4 STEPS TO GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF

  • SPEND TIME ALONE (go off the grid aka no electronics!!!): I encourage you to spend time alone with yourself, not judging, just observing. Take a full day to spend time by yourself and engage in an activity that you enjoy. Being in nature greatly supports this process, however doing anything that brings you peace works (painting, writing, walking, singing, dancing, baking, people watching,) Let your loved ones know that you will be taking some “me” aka “self-care” time to relax and reflect so that you can give yourself permission to go off the grid comfortably.
  • ASK YOURSELF QUESTIONS COMPASSIONATELY: (create a safe space for yourself by not engaging in negative self-talk and showing yourself compassion) ask yourself questions such as: When are you happiest? When are you most proud of yourself? (how come? who told you that was important?) What is your passion? What makes you, you? Who are you closest to in your family?(how come? since when?), What do you do when you need help? (do you ask for help or do you figure out a way to do it alone, and how come? when did you learn that behavior? for how long have you handled needing help in this way?), What are your fears? (how come they are your fears?, what have you tried to overcome your fears?) What are your strengths? (how do you know? what makes them your stengths) What do you like most about yourself? (how come?)
  • ASSESS RELATIONSHIPS (your role): Take a close look at your relationships, how are you showing up for and around the people closest to you? Are you holding yourself accountable for your role in interactions? (do you validate the other person, are you blaming someone else for your inability to self-soothe and/or for your unhappiness? are you name calling? are you being condescending?) Are you enjoying your relationships with others? (if not, what are you doing about it?), What type of relationships do you want? How are you showing those you care about that you care about them? Are your actions aligned with what you say you want? If not, start taking the actions needed to create the relationships you want. You are responsible for how you show up!
  • PRACTICE SELF-CARE and EMBRACE SELF LOVE: Observe how you take care of yourself, aka self-care. How do you speak to yourself?(do you beat yourself up with your words or do you speak to yourself with love and compassion? how come? how did the people you loved talk to you? how would you like to be spoken to?) How do you handle situations in which you feel you have been treated unfairly? (do you use your voice or do you retreat/hide and if so, why?) What do you do for yourself that fills your soul/tank? How do you decompress after a tough day? (long bath, write, exercise, help others, paint, spend time in nature, cook, etc). Create a plan to do at least one of the things you identified as filling your tank every week and label it self-care. You will be sending a message to self and to others that you matter!

I once lived life thinking I had to do what others expected of me based on limitations they imposed and that became my truth. I began to buy into the limits, reinforce the limits, and eventually unknowingly limit myself. BUT, then I woke up, I did “the work,” and realized that I can be free, and that most limits are self-imposed and rooted in fear and insecurity. You are your greatest love, I encourage you to make your life and relationship with self the most beautiful love story ever!

Yes, I was told, “an artist you will never be,” and one day I looked in the mirror and remembered myself and how peaceful I felt when I was creating art, and now I paint to paint and draw to draw. It may have taken some time but I could not be happier with the new narrative I have created for myself. Every piece I create would not exist had I continued to be bought into the narrative that someone else created for me.

EXERCISE: (BE PRESENT, no electronics) Take a 20 – 40 minute bath/shower, preferably with a calming scent/bath gel such as lavender or vanilla, allow yourself to be immersed in the experience as you observe the water touching and cascading over your body. Allow all thoughts to drift as you allow yourself to be in peace (visualize the ocean, or laying in the grass, or listen to calming music with no words just melodies or nature sounds that soothe your soul). After you dry off, look at yourself in the mirror and take 5 deep breathes, while looking deeply into your beautiful eyes, ask yourself out loud, Remember me? take one last deep breathe. Find a quiet place and create a three page journal entry about the experience.

This reflection and exercise are meant to support your process around self-actualization/awareness and living a fulfilling life that you feel connected to. If you need additional support, please reach out to a therapist, or other health care professional. You came to this blog for a reason, perhaps it is time to roll up your sleeves and get to know the most important person in your life! I am excited for you and the new narrative you will create around who you are and what you want. Wishing you the very best, with love.

TRIGGERED! The Unhealed Wound: Couples Only Survive when Individuals Do Their Work! 7 Steps to Help…

blog - emotional trigger

Do you sometimes feel as if your partner’s main objective in life is to piss you off? Do you find that the harder you try to get along, the more you find yourself getting triggered? Do you think about ending the relationship once and for all  just because you are so frustrated and feel as if you can not take it anymore?

The trigger conversation comes up often in couples work and the question of “why is my partner always triggering me?” has a simple, yet layered answer. There are many who wonder why the partner they love more than anything is the one that hurts them the most. Conflict usually arises when one partner is triggered and reacts/responds with their default coping strategy/defense mechanism (by the way and for the record, that default coping mechanism is usually not your truth). It is often a way to protect yourself that you discovered/created in early childhood or adolescence for survival and although once useful, has probably run its course and is no longer healthy or appropriate.

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So your partner has triggered you, now what? The tendency is to turn to our partner and blame them for hurting us, for bringing up uncomfortable feelings, for our increased anxiety, and/or our inability to move forward. We blame them for our insecurities, the fact that we won’t go to the gym, the fact that our career is not where we want it to be, the fact that we are unhappy. Sometimes we react with a counter punch to shut them down and shut them up or we may become withholding, close off, and turn away, depending on what our coping strategy/defense mechanisms are. We then point the finger and become the innocent victims of our partners cruelty, usually failing to take accountability for our role or how we blew up or shut down once we were triggered. Sharing stories with our friends, family, co-workers, and therapist around how our partner pushes all of the right buttons that cause us to react and act out of character. It is clearly their fault!

Being triggered hurts more from some people than others for a reason, usually because we have higher expectations and hopes of the people we open our hearts to and when those people say or do things that hurt our feelings (even when it is unintentional),the harder the fall…the deeper the wound. Although the wound may be deepening, it is not new and even though they might have said something hurtful, the wound of origin was not caused by them.

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The current trigger activates an old wound and not just any wound, a wound we have not fully healed from and may not be aware of. The wound of origin. That first wound that made you feel alone, abandoned, unworthy, unsafe, etc. Sometimes, our partners unintentionally trigger us, yet we make them wrong and leave no room for explanation, we tell ourselves the same narrative that we have carried around for years. When we are bought into our own negative thought patterns, we learn to extract all the information we feel will support our negative narrative, the one where our partner does not love us, is inconsiderate, is selfish and end up struggling to see all of the positive attributes our partners possess, all the ways they show love, and all the things they are presently doing “right.”

7 Things to do when your Partner Triggers you:

  1. So you have been hurt, something that your partner has done (or didn’t do), said (or didn’t say) has brought about an uncomfortable emotion. As soon as you recognize that you have been triggered, STOP (visualizing a Stop sign may help).
  2. Remind yourself that you are working towards having more self-awareness. Your goal is to respond, not react. You are working towards gaining emotional maturity.
  3. Turn towards your partner and share that you have been triggered, let them know what triggered you and the thoughts and feelings coming up for you around that trigger. If you are unsure of what you are feeling (go to step 5), ask for a few minutes to process what is coming up for you.
  4. Give your partner an opportunity to show up for you and the relationship. Give them a chance to validate your feelings and in turn, thank and validate them.
  5. Take a time out. Give yourself a few minutes to process what just happened. Usually the conversation escalates quickly after the trigger, slow down. Sit with yourself and identify what emotion is coming up for you and think back to your earliest memory of experiencing that emotion. Think about the thoughts that came up for you. What did that experience tell you about the world around you? and who you are in this world?
  6. Share with your partner what you learned about yourself and together you can work towards finding ways to work through the trigger when it arises. Discuss what they did or said that had a negative impact on you and share how it relates/links to a past wound.
  7. Acknowledge for yourself that you did it! You did something different, you just had a “win” because you handled being triggered differently! You are on the road to putting the pieces together, having an increased level of self awareness, and becoming less reactive when you are triggered by your partner.

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Everyone gets triggered it’s what you do in those moments that matter. The awareness and understanding of what is happening for you in the moment and why, will decrease reactivity. Return to the wound of origin, nurture your inner child, provide the support for yourself you wish you would have received at that time, the support you need now. HEAL. Only you have the ability to heal your heart, to provide the safety, compassion, and acceptance to all the parts of yourself. If you look to your partner to do it for you, they will fail.

If you truly want to connect with your partner and move past difficult conversations, you have to do your work. 

The trigger is an opportunity, it is a road-map to the place in your heart that is wounded.

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New Response – When triggered, rather than getting lost in the anger, practice appreciation for the fact that you now have information that will support you with finding, healing and releasing the wound of origin. If you do not do this work, you will continue to be triggered, you will continue to blame your partner, you will continue to have conflict, you will continue to be guarded, you will continue to be fearful, you will continue to be stuck and what causes the most danger to a relationship, is having unfair and unrealistic expectations around your partner’s role/responsibility in “making” you happy. 

Each of us has been wounded, no one comes out of childhood unscarred. The “work” is about knowing what those wounds are and how they are showing up in your life right now, present day, in this moment. You have the ability to create a more fulfilling life and a more fulfilling relationship. Yes, in a partnership you get to love and support one another however you can not do all the work for another person and they can not do all the work for you. It is impossible to grow together if one partner is stuck. Once you become emotionally mature you can make clear/rational decisions about your relationship. 

Avoidance, fear and denial will attempt to keep you stuck and blaming others. Awareness, acceptance, self-compassion and courage will provide the positive energy, clarity, and light that will set you free! Turn inward, identify, process, release, heal and share your journey with your partner every step of the way.  The key to a couple growing together is the acceptance that during the couple journey, there will be times in which you have to travel part of the way on your own and trusting that once you do, you will come back to one another with an increased awareness of self and more connected to one another.

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Wishing you effective conversations, peaceful resolutions, and the ability to take ownership of your emotions. All couples disagree at times, learning how to move past the disagreement and come out stronger is the best gift you can give to one another and to yourself. You’ve got this!

  • If you feel you may be in an abusive (mentally, physically, or emotionally) relationship, do not blame yourself, seek the help of a licensed professional who can support you with determining if you are a victim of abuse. 

Talk to Me! 6 Ways to Create Emotional Safety in your Relationship

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“Why didn’t you tell me?” “You never share with me!” “How come you are so quiet when I try to talk to you?” “Answer me!” “You’re so secretive!” “You never talk!” “Why don’t you ever tell me how you’re feeling?”

Have you said those things to your partner? Has your partner said any of the above to you?

How about when you do decide to share and the other person reacts defensively (yells, cries, criticizes) leaving you to make comments such as:

“That’s why I don’t tell you anything!”
“I can’t talk to you!”
“That’s not what I meant”
“I should’ve just kept my mouth shut!”

If the comments above sound familiar, if you’ve heard them or said them, chances are…at least one of you, probably both of you, do not feel safe in your relationship.

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When working with a new couple, one of the standard questions I ask is, “do you feel safe in your relationship?”

When talking about safety in a relationship, physical safety is what licensed professionals are trained to screen for during an initial couples session, however physical safety is not the only form of safety needed in a healthy relationship. When I ask if each partner in the couple relationship feels safe, I am also referring to emotional safety which include some of the following:

*Safe to express themselves fully and authentically
*Safe to share dissatisfaction about something their partner did
*Safe to share sexual desires, displeasure, and fantasies
*Safe to share their personal insecurities and fears
*Safe to have a conversation without it escalating to a full blown argument

Safe to share meaning that they can say any of the above without being met with yelling, name calling, blaming, shaming, exit language, and/or rejection.

According to the merriam-webster dictionary the definition of safety is “freedom from harm or danger : the state of being safe. : the state of not being dangerous or harmful. : a place that is free from harm or danger : a safe place.”

A safe place requires that you do not feel as if you are at risk of harm or danger and with emotional safety it means knowing that you will not be criticized, blamed, rejected, invalidated or dismissed by your partner.

Maslow believed that people’s behaviors are motivated through different stages of five needs. The second stage of the hierarchy of needs being safety and security (emotional safety included), the third love and belonging, and the forth being esteem (accepted and valued by others).

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As you move through stage 2 through stage 4, there is a strong connection to feeling emotionally safe, loved and connected, and valued by others. If we think about that in the context of our romantic relationships, it seems reasonable to believe that if we are not having those needs met, it will show up in our behavior in a negative or maladaptive way. If those needs are being met, the behavior will probably be more loving, trusting, and positive.

If your partner does not share with you, if your partner shuts down, if your partner finds it easier to talk to other people than to talk to you, instead of engaging in name calling and blaming and saying things such as “you’re secretive,” “you don’t know how to express yourself,” “you never talk,” “you’re such a coward,” “you don’t respect me,” etc, Turn inward and ask yourself:

  • What am I doing or not doing that is causing my partner to not feel comfortable sharing with me?
  • What can I do to show my partner that I am interested in what they want to share and I am committed to holding a safe space for them to express themselves fully?
While we can not take full ownership of another person’s feelings, what we can do is acknowledge and hold ourselves accountable for how we are showing up in the relationship. What are you doing to create safety for yourself and for your partner?
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6 WAYS TO CREATE EMOTIONAL SAFETY IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP

1Listen non-defensively – listen to understand the emotions and feelings coming up for your partner and validate them. Having empathy is important, however even if you are struggling with feeling empathy you can still practice validation. Usually, when people do not share it is rooted in fear of being misunderstood or dismissed. Vulnerability is nakedness, and most people do not feel comfortable being vulnerable with someone they feel is a potential threat. If you want your partner to open up, create a space in which they will be able to do so.

Damage is done when you: get defensive, tell your partner not to feel the way they do, name call and/or blame, dismiss what they are feeling/sharing, change the subject, do not acknowledge or speak to their feelings, make overall invalidating comments.

Safety is created when youvalidate their feelings, when you empathize with what they are sharing, when you listen non-judgmentally, when you do not internalize and make it about you, focus on trying to understand your partners feelings.

 
2) Let go of toxic thoughts about your partner
. Rather than holding them to old labels you may have for your partner (overly sensitive, stubborn, combative, weak), open yourself to seeing them differently. Extend a tabula rasa aka clean slate. Challenge your old thought patterns and narratives about your partner and about the relationship, and instead of thinking “She feels like this because she is overly sensitive” practice not labeling who she is or her emotions. If you hear your husband share his feelings, try not to jump to “of course he’s feeling this way, he never sees anyone else’s point of view” challenge yourself to ask questions rooted in what feelings are coming up for him. As soon as you realize you are labeling your partner, identify it as a toxic thought, and make the decision to change it!

Damage is done when you: hold your partner to old negative labels of who they are, are bought into the belief that they will never change, struggle to give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

Safety is created when you: give your partner an opportunity to show you something different, shift any negative/toxic thoughts to positive and loving thoughts, enter into the conversation open to experiencing them in a more positive light, practice trust.

 
3) Body language and Touch matter
. Body language matters a great deal in creating a safe space. Research shows that over 55% of communication is non-verbal. While there is some controversy around the actual percentage, current research tells us that it’s anywhere between 55% – 90%, in other words, it is pretty important. While words matter, body language matters just as much, if not more.

Damage is done when you: turn your back, roll your eyes, walk away, fold your arms, stand/sit at a distance, have a tense facial expression, sigh, etc

Safety is created when you: turn towards your partner, give them eye contact, make facial expressions that show them they have your attention, sit/stand in close proximity, touch their hand. In other words, join them where they are.

4) Emphasize and Reinforce your commitment. The most damaging reactions a partner can have is using exit language (I want out of this relationship, maybe we should break up, I think you should move out, I want a divorce), or shutting down/withdrawing emotionally. These two behaviors are extremely damaging as they lead the partner to feel unsafe, insecure, and may trigger old wounds/fear of abandonment. If you want to create a safe space, reminding yourself and your partner that you are in this together and committed to figuring things out is imperative to creating a safe space. Statements such as “we really need to figure this out” “we are better than this” “we’ve got this” “I’m not going anywhere” “I may be feeling hurt right now, but that doesn’t mean we are breaking up” all support reinforcing the fact that you are committed to your partner.

Damage is done when you: use exit language (break up, divorce, moving out, etc.), withdraw/shut down emotionally, and/or give your attention to other people.

Safety is created when you: make “we” statements around resolutions, talk about future hopes and goals for the relationship, speak to the commitment such as “we will get through this,” and comments/statements to let your partner know that you are committed to figuring things out and continuing to work on the relationship.

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5) Thank Them – whenever your partner shares with you, regardless of the content and how it made you feel, thank your partner for opening up. Thank them for trusting you, thank them for being vulnerable in front of you, let them know that you appreciate learning more about them. It does not matter if you do not see eye to eye, what matters is that you trust one another enough to have the conversation.

Damage is done when you: do not acknowledge when your partner is vulnerable and has the courage to share something with you that may have been difficult to share and/or you make negative/dismissive comments about what they share.

Safety is created when you: acknowledge that being vulnerable is not easy, thank them for trusting you enough to share their feelings, validate what they have shared with you, and encourage them to continue to open up and know that they will be met with love and understanding.

6) Be Consistent – with your words and actions. Consistency builds trust, because you know what to expect, words and actions are aligned, you learn you can count on your partner. Be consistent with your partner, if you say you are going to do something, do it. If your behaviors and your words are not consistent with one another, it will be hard for your partner to trust you. If you are consistently inconsistent, you are ultimately sending a message to your partner that you can not be trusted.

Damage is done when you: make promises that you do not keep, treat your partner lovingly and shower them with attention one day, and then have limited interaction with them the next day for what feels to them like no reason, you tell your partner that they can call you anytime and you will be there for them and when they call you are not available/do not pick up. Damage is done when you commit to do something and do not follow through. Inconsistency and unpredictability cause people to be constantly on guard which is a major cause of anxiety and stress, making it nearly impossible for someone to feel safe.

Safety is created when you: follow through on what you say you are going to do, keep your word, establish trust by being consistent. Be yourself at all times and if you put your best foot forward in the beginning of the relationship, then put your best foot forward throughout your relationship. Consistency sends a message to others that you can be trusted.

Remember, you are part of a couple relationship and if either you or your partner does not feel safe in any capacity, then you both play a part in what has been created. When emotional safety is created, conversations are smoother, trust is established, connection feels stronger, and sex is better! The great news is that at any point, the two of you can make a decision to create safety in your relationship, as long as you are both committed to the process and take ownership of your individual roles.

 

As always, best of luck creating the relationship you desire!

Validation Do’s and Don’ts for Couples: An Essential Component to Finally Feeling Understood!

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“Listen to me, indulge me, allow yourself to be immersed into our process and together we will come to understand the power of “we.” TF

Ever feel like screaming “Validate me!!!!!!?”

It probably sounds more like, “You just don’t get it,” “you don’t understand me,” “I give up trying to make you understand.” “Can you just listen to what I am saying.”

How many times have you and your partner had the same argument?  Many disagreements have occurred so often that individuals can predict their partner’s responses, as if the argument were scripted.

So many couples get stuck in what feels like Groundhog’s day, that same old argument and it can be about the same or different topics, the issue is the process, not the content. In other words, it is not about what you are disagreeing about, it is about how you communicate with one another.

The same old same yields the same results, yet so many of us continue doing what we are accustomed to doing. There is one sure-fire way to change the conversation, one sure fire way to feel heard and understood, one sure fire way to feel like your partner finally gets it. That sure fire way is validation!

It shows up in the therapy room quite frequently, at least 8 out of 10 couples are struggling to validate one another.

Top reasons why people find it difficult to validate their partner:

  • They do not feel as though their partner understands their point and they are not going to validate them, until they are validated.
  • They believe that they must agree with their partner to validate them and usually they do not agree. In fact, some people feel as though the other person is completely wrong and if so, can refuse to validate their feelings
  • They do not believe their partner should be experiencing the feelings that are coming up for them and try to convince their partner how come they should feel differently

Usually when someone shares something that they are experiencing strong emotions around, they do not want advice, they do not want someone to come up with solutions, they do not want to feel judged/as if they did something wrong, and they do not want someone to tell them not to feel that way. If the person would like advice, they will usually ask. Providing unsolicited advice without validating first and empathizing can leave a person feeling misunderstood, dismissed, and/or invalidated. Most non-validating responses are said with noble intent, however, to the person on the receiving end, they can still feel frustrated and misunderstood.

 Common Non-Validating Responses:

“Well, let me tell you about how bad my day was and then you’ll see that yours wasn’t so bad”

“How many of your friends wish they had a provider like me, so I missed our anniversary, I have a lot on my plate”

“Well you work hard for us, you’re supposed to work hard, you’re the provider”

“You’re too sensitive”

“You should have handled it differently, next time try to do it like this”

“Sleep on it, tomorrow is another day, let’s not talk about this now”

“I can’t believe you are that angry about something that doesn’t matter”

Some of the above are well intended attempts to “make” the person feel better, other responses sound dismissive, mean, and blaming. They are all equally non-validating. Have you said any of the above? Have people in your life responded to you this way? If so, how did that make you feel?

Then there are the attempts at validation such as:

“I get it, but…”

“I hear you, and….”

“I understand what you’re saying, so….”

The above ARE NOT validating statements, they come across as, “I hear you, and let me tell you why you shouldn’t feel that way.” Step one, slow down.

What Validation is and How to Validate Your Partner:

  • For starters remember, you are validating feelings and EVERYONE’S FEELINGS ARE VALID. The reason why they feel the way they do is not as important as addressing the feelings that they are expressing to you. Once you are able to let go of the content (which you may not agree with) and focus on how they are feeling (which is always valid), you will be able to support them.
  • Validation is the affirmation, recognition, and acceptance that another person’s internal experience aka FEELINGS are valid. 

 

What can I do? What can I say?

1. Listen, listen, listen. Listen to understand how they are feeling, do not internalize and make it about you, do not get defensive, do not try to solve. Again, listen to understand and be there for them. Simply being present and patient. You will have to let your guards down to be able to listen unfiltered. It is a practice, practice listening to your partner. You will have your opportunity for them to validate you later.

2. Empathy goes a long way. Again you may not agree with the content, however, you can empathize with the emotions they are feeling.

  • “It can be difficult to focus on the children, when you are feeling so hurt by what I said”
  • “I understand that our arguments drain you, it really bothers me when we argue as well.”

3. Repeat what they share in their own words or rephrase their words to show them that you are paying attention and that you understand. Ask questions about their feelings, to show genuine interest and gain a better understanding.

  • “So when I told you I was tired and wanted to go to sleep, you felt as though I was bored of your company”
  • “I am so sorry that when I did not pick up my phone when you called it brought up feelings of anxiety for you”
  • “I did not realize that when I walk away when we are arguing it brings up feelings of abandonment and makes you feel angry, I can see why that would upset you and I am sorry those feelings come up for you”

4. Normalize their feelings by sharing that most people would feel the way that they do if they were in a similar situation. Share with them that their feelings are “normal” given the circumstances.

  • “Anyone would probably feel hurt if their partner forgot their anniversary”
  • “It makes sense that you feel lonely, anyone who has a partner that travels as much as I do would”

5. See it through their eyes. Try to see the situation from your partner’s perspective and think about other times similar feelings have come up for them, or other times they shared their feelings with you and you might have missed them.

  • “This reminds me of last year when I forgot our Anniversary and you felt as if I do not share your values, I am sorry for forgetting something that is important to you”

6. Touch them. Physical touch is one of the 5 love languages. Sometimes a simple, gentle gesture such as taking their hand, rubbing their back, stroking their hair, or giving them a hug can be all your partner needs. During conflict, this may not be the best time to get physical, however if you are discussing the situation calmly, it can be an opportunity to connect.

7. Use your Body Lean in, make facial expressions that match theirs (if they look down, you look down, if they shake their head, you shake yours). Do not stand with your arms crossed; do not look away when you do not agree. Stay open to your partner and they will be more inclined to stay open with you.

When couples do not see eye to eye, it can be challenging to validate. It is important to remember that both partners, regardless of their stance, deserve to have their feelings validated. It is a reciprocal process, which can turn that same old argument into a brand new effective way to communicate! Validation creates a feeling of safety and trust. Validation allows defenses to go down. You both deserve to feel heard, loved, and understood. The tools above will support that process. Find a method or methods that you feel most comfortable with and feels authentic to you, and then put it/them to practice!

Wishing you the best in creating the relationship you deserve and desire!

 

Your Authentic Vision (Board) Manifested! What’s Your Unique Vision?…

It’s that time of the year again. Clients, family members, and friends…it’s that time when we reflect on the year, assess where we are, and create goals around where we would like the new year to take us! I recognize that there are no guarantees. It was just two years ago when I was supporting clients with creating goals and vision boards for what their 2020 was going to look like. How could we have imagined that we would be faced with a global pandemic that would create a paradigm shift for how we do business, think, live, and love?

We never know what the future has in store. We can however, do our best to exist in a way that is most authentic to who we are and practice gratitude everyday, even the days when it can be challenging. I believe we are all in need of healing, self-care, hope, and humanity-care. There is so much information about creating vision boards, manifesting our desires, living in abundance, etc. I am thankful that this information exists, positivity breeds positivity!

The purpose of this post is to share one way to approach creating a vision board that not only encompasses what we want to bring into our lives, it is also conducive to artistic expression & healing!

There are all types of Vision Board parties, events, experiences and workshops. There is not one type of experience that is “better” than others, just different, and finding one that you feel is a match for what you want to experience is important. The approach to a vision board experience that I explain below is the one I personally use and share with family, friends, and clients. I structured it in a way that encourages gratitude, acknowledges what gets to be released in order to make way for future goals, embraces authenticity, and then supports envisioning a clear picture of what you want to create. You can tweak this method anyway you believe would most support you. Again, there is no one way to approach the creation of YOUR VISION board. What matters most is your authentic vision!

YOUR INTENTIONAL, ARTISTIC, & AUTHENTIC VISION (Board) MANIFESTED!

What the title means: Your intentional vision manifested! It will be created artistically and it will be authentic to who you are. You will visualize yourself doing what you intend to do in all of your authenticity, and place words and images that represent your vision, on a board. The items you select for your board will represent all you are already in gratitude of as well as what you would like to create in the year ahead. The goal is for your vision board to not only be authentic, the hope is that when you look at it, it will evoke the feelings you want to feel when you achieve your goal. It will be a reminder and an inspiration to support you with staying on track. Vision board group experiences can be a lot of fun and a connecting experience. You can also create your vision board from your own home. You can make it an individual experience, or ask your loved one’s to join you. It can absolutely be a fun and connecting experience for couples to do together! Remember, you get to decide what works best for you.

Now, LET’S GET CREATIVE:

  1. The Intention: Set your intention for what you want to get out of the process of creating a vision board. Examples: “I set my intention to be open and positive,” “I set my intention to be honest with myself and embrace my authenticity,” “I set my intention to ask for what I want to receive.” etc.
  2. The Release: Reflect on the past year and identify things you would like to let go of/what you want to release. It can be thought patterns, clothing you can donate, relationships that drain you/hurt you, etc. Write down all of the things you are releasing. Close your eyes and envision yourself releasing them. When you open your eyes, read your list out loud. Examples: “I am letting go of the belief that I am not good enough,” “I release the need for external validation/approval,” “I let go of the items I barely use to give them to people in need.” “I release judgment.” Once you speak your complete list out loud, rip up the paper as small as you can and discard it. You have let it go.
  3. The Gratitude: Create a list of all the things you have gratitude for. Start your sentences with statements of gratitude. Examples: “I am filled with gratitude for the abundance that already exists in my life.” “I am grateful for my warm bed, hot water, my children, my best friend, my eyesight, my job, the Ocean, my health, the fact that I always have food to eat, being here in this moment,” etc. Close your eyes and visualize existing in what you are grateful for. The people, the items, yourself, all of it. Allow yourself to be present and sit in appreciation for what already exists. Open you eyes and read your statements out loud.
  4. The Authenticity: Who are you? When are you most joyful, most yourself? What are you doing and who are you with? When are you most inspired? Give yourself a few minutes to think about these questions. Write down, 4 sentences about who you are. Example: “I am a genuine person. I am happiest when I am swimming in the Ocean and also when I surrounded by loved one’s. I express myself most authentically through creation, especially painting. My desire is to live a life of purpose and I do it by working in a healing profession.” Write as if you were going to have to share who you are in 4 sentences with a group of people who did not know you. Who are you AUTHENTICALLY!
  5. THE CREATION: What are your goals for the year ahead? What type of life do you want to live/create? Where would you like to place most of your attention? What do you aspire to do? How do you want to show up in the World? Where will you be while achieving your goal? How will you look? Who will be around you? Sit comfortably or lay down. Close your eyes. Take at least 3 deep breathes, getting present in your body, and then the magic happens…VISUALIZE YOURSELF LIVING THE LIFE YOU ARE TRYING TO CREATE. Imagine yourself achieving your goal. Envision yourself in that moment, take a look around and watch how people respond to you, how do you feel in that moment? How does it feel to achieve that goal? What are you wearing? Are you sitting, walking, or standing? What is your facial expression? Are you smiling? Allow yourself to bask in the thoughts and feelings that come up for you once you attain what you set out to achieve with intention and authenticity. Do not rush this step. Allow yourself to experience the joy and peace that comes with attaining the goal.

Visualizations, just like positive affirmations create new neural pathways that support us with being able to view ourselves differently and stop us from engaging in self-limiting beliefs. Once we believe we can do something, it greatly increases the likelihood that we will achieve it. Self imposed limitations are what keep most people from achieving their goals.

Items needed: Heavyweight paper such as Oaktag, magazines, scissors, double sided tape or glue, pictures, quotes, paper to rip up, a notebook, and a pen. You may also include other items that you appreciate and can adhere to the heavyweight paper, such as coins, ribbons, stickers, etc.

THE EXPERIENCECome Join Me!:

I have so much gratitude for being able to facilitate and hold space for 25 people this year for an intimate Vision board experience in a modern, split level, Bohemian style loft located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NYC. I will be incorporating everything mentioned in this post and so much more. It will be an opportunity for 25 people to come together in an intimate setting and have an intentional, artistic, and authentic experience. Everyone in attendance will leave with their FRAMED vision board and reusable giftbag which will include wellness items and a notebook I hand painted. ALL items needed will be provided. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on this page, or you can email: ourperfectus@gmail.com

*COVID-19 PROOF OF FULL VACCINATION REQUIRED. TEMPERATURE WILL BE TAKEN AT THE DOOR.

One of many items, a handpainted notepad!

TODAY, The Art of Being Present…

Today.

Today is the day we are in. It may be obvious. However, the reminder necessary.

Why?

The thoughts of yesterday keep us stuck. Reflecting and acknowledging how we have grown supports us. However, rumination leads to stagnation and at times self deprecation. Negative self-talk is fed by our filters. Narratives amplified by what we choose to extract. Consciously? Subconsciously? Unconsciously? Who knows? Let me think about that.

Let. Me. Think. About. THAT.

OVERTHINKING. Analyzing the steps taken on roads already traveled, hoping reflection will bring us closer to our desired destination.

Perhaps it’s closure we are seeking, believing closure exists in the rehashing of our narratives. Rehashing? Perhaps visual reenactments. Is it rooted in healing and progressing? Do you sit with it, and stay with it, get bought in to it, and stay stuck in it? Fighting to find the reframe…searching for that reframe. Where are you going? Can you look ahead and back at the same time?

Take the experience. Learn from the past. Integrate those discoveries into your present moment. This present moment. Acknowledge, don’t dwell. Notice, don’t get stuck. Thank you yesterday, I appreciate you, good-bye.

Today.

Today is the day we are in. It may be obvious. However, the reminder necessary.

How come?

Thoughts of tomorrow cloud my vision, intrusive whispers, they betray my peace, disassemble my meditation piece by piece, intrusive whispers turn to roars, once a clouded vision now a thunder storm, and I fear it will become my norm. Do I talk about it? Maybe I should…I’m torn. It feels all encompassing when anxiety takes this form. Can I exist in something different or was I born to exist in the storm? I’m catastrophizing.

Today.

Today is the day we are in. How do you feel right now? Breathe.

Take another breath.

Take one more.

Let your breath be the reminder.

This feeling is Universal.

Today.

Today is the day we are in. It may be obvious but the reminder necessary.

Today, I feel compelled to tell you. Today, I feel the desire to share. The knowingness of the obvious will not stop my reiteration, it is a necessary reminder for me. Today I write this message with urgency…I share it with you and I wrote it for humanity. We all have moments where we get to stop and breathe, consciously.

We all have moments when we look ahead and are not sure what the next steps are, either busy looking back, or creating a thunder storm in our minds that blinds us. Windshield wipers don’t work in a downpour. When we struggle to see, and we struggle to hear, when we struggle to know, there is one thing we can do. We can breathe. Today. Now. Breathe and in that mindful breath, remember your light. Remember the feeling of the sun on your face. Remember that you have that warmth within. The key is to remember that where there is dark there is light. YOU ARE THE LIGHT. My wish for you, is that you love openly & live authentically, today.

We are all living this human experience.

TODAY IS THE DAY WE ARE ALL LIVING IN, TOGETHER.

TOGETHER.

IT MAY NOT BE OBVIOUS, SO THE REMINDER IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.