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02

The Power of Validation

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Happiness

Validation is a powerful tool that can be implemented in almost every relationship we have. According to Karyn Hall, PhD: “Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable. Self-validation is the recognition and acceptance of your own thoughts, feelings, sensations and behaviors as understandable.”

Why Do We Need Validation?

Validation is important for us to feel accepted by others. As most of us can attest to, feeling like you belong and matter is an important part of  feeling good about yourself. When we validate others, it brings us closer and strengthens the relationship. Additionally, validation helps us to build understanding with others and aids in effective communication. Validation also helps people feel important and cared for. This is especially true for kids who need validation to feel connected to their parents, express emotions and to develop a secure sense of self.

Levels of Validation

Marsha Linehan, PhD, has identified six different levels of validation and some tips on how to implement them.

  1. Being Present: giving your complete attention to the person struggling in a non-judgmental way
  2. Accurate Reflection: Summarize what the person has said, try to really understand and not judge the person’s experience
  3. Reading someone’s behavior and guessing what they may be thinking or feeling: pay attention to the person’s emotional state and label their emotion or infer how they may be feeling. Be sure to check in with the person to make sure your guess is accurate!
  4. Understanding someone’s behavior in terms of their history and biology: think about how someone’s past experiences may be affecting how they are feeling now, in this moment or situation.
  5. Normalizing or recognizing emotional reactions that anyone would have: recognize that many people may feel the way that you or the other person is feeling in a given situation and let them know that it’s okay to feel this way as many people do.
  6. Radical genuineness: this happens when you are able to understand how someone is feeling on a deeper, personal level. Perhaps, you have had a similar experience. Sharing that with the other person can help to validate their feelings and reactions.

Putting Words Into Action

Learning to validate others can be easier said than done. However, being more conscience of how our words affect others and even implementing the first few levels of validation can make a big difference in our relationships and interactions with others. An essential tenant of the therapeutic relationship is validation. It is important to know that we must first be able to validate ourselves before being able to validate others. Therapy can help you to achieve self-validation skills as well as learning skills to validate others. For more information about our clinicians and how they can help, visit: https://www.collaborativemn.com/meet-our-team.

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13
Family and Couple Therapy at Collaborative Counseling

If your partner has betrayed you through cheating or an affair, you may be experiencing flashbacks, excessive worry and memories. Here we will discuss what flashbacks and intrusive memories are and some ideas around how to overcome them.

Following the discovery that your spouse has been cheating, it can be a difficult feat to begin to overcome the thoughts, anger, hurt and feelings associated with this type of betrayal. Some betrayed spouses report flashbacks and memories related to an affair.

Things that can trigger flashbacks include spending time with your partner who cheated, romantic sounds, love stories, not hearing from your partner and sometimes they can just come out of the blue when you least expect it.

Being betrayed by a loved one can often be traumatic. Traumatic experiences can be followed by intrusive thoughts about the event such as images, thoughts and memories. Sometimes even images from the imagination can become intrusive.

If you are struggling to overcome the discovery of an affair, here are some ways you can work to overcome thoughts and memories that are interfering with your daily life:

Be present

Practice simple acts of working to stay in the moment. Be cautious to not escape through food, alcohol, drugs or other avoidance tactics. There are many different ways to practice being mindful and in the moment including yoga, breathing, and meditation. Even working to just do one thing at a time while focusing all of your attention on that task will help you to be present and more mindful.

One simple exercise to get you out of a flashback is to focus on your breathing for 5 breaths. Notice the air coming in and going out, notice how you feel, try to focus just on the act of breathing.

 Journal

Write down things that you are thinking and feeling. Journaling is a very effective tool to help you deal with your negative emotions and to help you to let things go. The act of writing can help people to think of ways to deal with things and can even lead to new perspectives or self understandings.

By taking time to process through your feelings, you will be able to move through them more quickly than if you try to suppress or ignore them. Give yourself permission to write down all of your thoughts and feelings without censoring – this is for you.

 Anticipate triggers

Pay attention to what thins trigger flashbacks for you and try to find ways to initially avoid these triggers. When your healing has progressed more, work to develop coping skills for managing your flashbacks. As with any anxiety-provoking thing, eventually you will want to work to expose yourself to your triggers so you can move forward. It is okay initially to avoid situations or experiences that may trigger your flashbacks.

Ride the wave

Some triggers will be impossible to avoid and some flashbacks will just come out of seemingly nowhere. For these I recommend “riding the wave” to do this you will experience the emotion you are having while imagining it wash over you and away from you like a wave. Sometimes we resist emotions, however by riding the wave you often end up more able to move forward from your emotion and flashback.

Be kind to your self

Forgive yourself for not catching on to it sooner or for any mistakes you are blaming your self for. Try to do things that you enjoy that will help you to get out of your thoughts.

Pay attention to doing the small things that will care for your mind body and soul. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, try to exercise for at least 20 minutes a day, take a class about something you want to learn, read a book, try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, etc… Do things to help you feel good about your self.

Don’t bring others in to it

Sometimes our urge can be to talk with others when we are hurt or struggling. Often it is good to talk with someone about emotions you are struggling to process, however with infidelity there can also be negatives to bringing others in to it.

The cautionary tale here is that if you decide to forgive your partner, your friends and family may not be as quick to do so. Sometimes these can lead to awkward relationships or even the loss of friendships. Be cautious not to bring others in to it, especially if you may stay with your partner.

See a therapist or counselor

If you feel the need to talk to someone, we recommend meeting with a therapist or counselor to process your feelings. Therapists are trained to help people process through difficult things. Sometimes it is best to talk with someone completely outside of your situation. In addition, a counselor will be able to provide you with a safe environment to process your feelings and thoughts without judgment and will be able to help you develop tools to move past it in the best way for you.

You may consider doing individual counseling, couples counseling or both. Either of these formats of counseling can be helpful in processing through an affair. Counseling can help you learn new ways of coping with the betrayal and resulting loss of trust. It can also help you decide if whether you want to continue in the relationship.

In summary it is important during this time that you focus on taking care of yourself and to learn ways to manage your emotions and flashbacks through healthy coping skills. If at any point you find yourself struggling to move past your flashbacks or intrusive thoughts, seek professional help. Knowing when to ask for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. To learn more about our services visit: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/couples-family-therapy

Please note: This article is presented for information only and is not intended to substitute for professional therapeutic advice.

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17

Are You Made of “Solid Gold”?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Two Friends Hiking During the Golden Hour

These days we frequently hear advertisements luring us to sell the “old gold” we having lying around the house. However, how do we know if it’s real? If it’s pure through and through? That got me to thinking about congruence within ourselves. Are we pure gold through and through?

What Does It Mean To Be “Solid Gold”?

It has to do with values. Not WHAT you value, but what DO you value. By this I mean living and behaving according to our values. We all know and admire folks like this. They do what they say and they believe what they do.

In counseling others, I encourage clients to think about this. Are you living and behaving according to your values? When you do, peace will be yours and so will respect. It’s a challenge to really sit back and take our own inventory. It can be much easier to take the inventory of others, however then change doesn’t really occur.

Counseling is a way to gently guide you to your true golden self.

For more information about counseling visit: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/individual-counseling

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09

Waiting for Answers

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
The Collaborative Counseling Can Help

If you’re anything like many of us, you’re all too familiar “dot dot dot” you get while waiting for a response from someone. Often, we see them when we’re finalizing plans, or asking someone how their day went. Other times, we see them in response to a big question, like “Where is our relationship at?” or “Are you mad at me?” That visible pause- in three tiny dots- we see light up our phones puts all of our fears at the forefront of our mind. It can be the most gut wrenching two minutes of your life as you wait for their text to materialize.

What Makes You Pause?

Just think about your life for a minute. Do you feel like you’re on pause, waiting for answers? How many of us have stalled at the “dot dot dot”? We ask ourselves, or our spouses, even our friends, the hard questions like:

-Am I happy in my marriage?

-Am I doing the right thing by taking this new job?

-Should I have another baby?

-Is my son/daughter in need of more help than I can give them?

-Are issues in my prior relationships keeping me from moving on?

-Why can’t I find contentment in my life?

And we don’t have the answer, and neither do they. So we wait for a response, but nothing comes. And we sit, staring at that “dot dot dot” in life, wondering what we do next. How do you know if you’re choosing correctly? Who can you turn to when you don’t have the answers, and people around you can’t help you?

Seek Help

If you are tired of being on pause, waiting for an answer, consider talking to one of our therapists. We are here to listen and help. Our goal is to help you bring more joy, laughter and love into your life. We provide counseling that will help you live your life to the fullest by supporting you through difficult times as well as teaching you skills that will allow you to make changes and progress towards a healthier, happier, more fulfilling life.

Stop waiting for the answers, and let us help you find them. To learn more visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com

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13

Should I Get a Divorce?

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Marriage and Divorce

Making the decision to divorce is often one of the most difficult choices to make for any person or couple considering separation. If you are questioning your decision or are trying to make a decision about whether or not to separate or divorce your spouse, it is important to think things through.

Of course there is no one question or set of questions to help you make this life decision, however there are some important things to consider that may help you sort through your thoughts and feelings related to your relationship.

Questions To Keep In Mind

  • What are the things that you would miss about this relationship?
  • What would ending this relationship lead you to give up? Think hard on this, there are always things you lose with the ending of a relationship.
  • Are there more things you can do to try to make this relationship work?
  • What is your role in this relationship not working? Are there things you could work on to improve this relationship?
  • Have you gotten all the help you could from counseling, your respected family members or others who may be able to support you in finding ways to work things out?
  • Is this a relationship you could see making improvements?
  • Is your spouse open to working on things?
  • Could you see yourself committing to try couples counseling or another form of relationship help to try to make changes?
  • Do you have children or other family members who will be impacted by this?
  • Can you imagine your life without your partner? If so, are there things you could learn to imagine having your partner also be a part of?
  • Is this relationship abusive in any way (emotionally, physically or verbally)? Is this something your or your partner needs to work on?
  • Are the issues you are having now a pattern you have had in other relationships?
  • Have you done everything you could to make things work? If not, what are your reasons for not trying?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Without working on issues you have and patterns from your current and past relationships, it is important to remember that you may just repeat this pattern in your next relationship. Furthermore, to prevent regrets or just avoidance of your own issues, it is important to consider if there is more you could do to save or repair this relationship.

Ultimately, you need to make this choice for what is best for both you and your family. It is a huge decision with lasting impacts. Learn more about the services we offer for couples at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/couples-family-therapy

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22

The Root of Conflict

Posted by Collaborative Counseling
Hands Holding Tree - Symbolizing Root of Conflict

Everyone has conflict in life. It is natural for us to have some conflict and arguments with others. Do you ever find yourself struggling to identify the root of a conflict?

What Causes Conflict?

Angeles Arrien, author of “The Four Fold Way” suggests 3 reasons for conflict:

  1. Not saying what we mean
  2. Not doing what we say
  3. Not saying what is so when it is so

Here are some ideas to consider when working to solve a conflict you may be having.

Not saying what we mean

  • Speak your truth! Get clear on your intention; ask yourself “what is my goal here?” Once you have that figured out work to speak your truth without blame or judgment.

Not doing what we say

  • If you commit to something, honor those commitments or communicate changes that may occur. When you don’t follow through on what you say you do, you damage the relationship. Trust or lack thereof can cause immeasurable damage to any relationship. Be a person of your word.

 Not saying what is so when it is so

  • Don’t hold back truths out of fear. Get clear on your goal/intenet and say what is so with love and care. When we communicate concerns or issues, we cast light on them and without light it can be hard to find the way out of any problem.

The next time you find yourself in a conflict, take the time to reflect on the situation and try to identify the cause of the issue. Then, you can work towards changing the dialogue. In addition, by using the ideas above, you may find yourself having more mindful and honest conversations when future conflicts arise.

For more information on “The Four Fold Way” check out our Relationship and Personal Growth page!

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12

Speak the truth without blame or judgement

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

Do you find it hard to speak the truth or to not blame others? Will you sometimes speak the truth but it comes out harsh and critical? Have you struggled to communicate difficult truths or complaints? Do you avoid situations you believe may involve conflict?

Many people find themselves struggling to find ways to speak the truth with kindness. Often problems and conflicts only become worse when we avoid facing them. Issues also can become worse if we confront issues or concerns in a harsh or accusing way. If people make it personal with blame and judgment, it doesn’t help and it creates more barriers.

How do I speak my truth?

The best way to confront difficult truths is to be clear, kind and honest. Here are some questions to help you in considering how to speak your truths:

  • Ask yourself, “What is my truth?”
  • How can I speak this truth without blame or judgment?
  • What is at the heart of this concern? Why is this important to me?
  • What is my request? (This is critical, you must be clear on what you are asking for and how you want things to be different. Feedback without clear requests often do not lead to future change.)
  • How can I deliver this message with love?

It is important to remember honesty and truth are NOT about bludgeoning someone with the truth. Try to believe the best in the person you need to communicate the difficult truth to and remember most breakdowns are not intentional.

When people start telling the truth to each other, things are illuminated, and it creates a sense of openness. So open up your own heart and begin to speak your truth without blame and without judgment.

We challenge you to practice asking yourself the questions above before delivering difficult truths. You will find yourself having better relationships with others and you will feel lighter, freer and happier!

 

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09

Learning to Let Go

Posted by Collaborative Counseling

One of the hardest obstacles in life at times can be in learning to let go. Often we have ideas about how things should be or how we want things to be. The trick is in knowing when it’s time to let those wants and beliefs about how things could or should be go.

So, how do you know when to let go?

I find that you need to release yourself from those wants when consistently your needs aren’t being met or that hanging on to whatever it may be causes you more unhappiness and pain than vice versa.

Think about the big thing in your life that you are struggling to decide – should I stay or should I go? Yeah, yeah, the song comes to mind for me too! But really, what is it? A job, a relationship, a friendship, an old goal that no longer fuels your passion?

The struggle I often see is setting your expectations for what you want out of whatever it is you struggle to decide to hold on to or to let go of, yet not sticking to those basic needs and desires. Do you need more meaning in your work? Has your relationship become a greater source of unhappiness than happiness? Do you have a friend who has become more of an energy drain than a source of support? Do you have a roommate or spouse who is more of a burden than someone you want to invest time and energy into?

Think of the pros and cons

Life seems to sometimes boil down to weighing out the pros and cons. What are the pros or sticking with it versus not? What are the cons of sticking with it versus letting go?

In the end, no one else can decide your right or wrong. No one else can say let it go or stick with it and give it your all.

I encourage you to take the time to weigh out your list of positive versus negative for both options. Often you already know the answer, however sometimes it’s easier to stay complacent. It is your responsibility to get your needs met. If you are in a situation that ultimately is more of a burden than a source of light, often it is time to let go.

Hold your wants lightly. When you practice that, you too become lighter and more able to actualize your best self.
To learn more about becoming your best self and letting go, visit our website at: https://www.collaborativemn.com/counseling-services/individual-counseling

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