Divorce is a time of crisis: “a dangerous opportunity”. It is an opportunity to find out that you’re stronger than you think you are. Though individual circumstances vary greatly from one divorce situation to another, you have a choice in how you respond to divorce. As with all difficult and painful life transitions, this familiar adage applies to divorce “You can become bitter or you can become better.”
Finding Strength Through A Divorce:
Going through a divorce requires redefinition of yourself, your family, your relationships, your life. It’s a time for honest self-reflection: a time to look inside of yourself and shift your views to accommodate the many life changes you’re going through.
Who am I without the marriage and the role of “wife”?
What were my contributions to the demise of the marriage?
What can I learn from this experience that will make me a stronger person?
Divorce is a time to take inventory of what matters most to you. If you’re children have become less of a priority during the stress of the divorce process, recommit to investing more in your relationship with them. If you’ve given up a hobby or interest during your marriage, pick it up again. If spirituality is important to you, recommit to investing in your connection with God.
What aspects of life are most important to me?
What areas of life do I want to focus on now?
Am I investing my time and energy into who and what I value most?
The end of a relationship that one or both of you didn’t want will free up energy to invest in other parts of your life. Though it’s scary to explore the uncharted territory of life as a single person, try actively taking risks to get out or your comfort zone. A former therapy client decided to go back to school and get her MBA after she divorced, a dream that she’d put on hold when she married.
Who do I want to become?
What am I most passionate about?
What are some activities that will get me out of my comfort zone and expose me to new people and experiences?
How do you find strength through difficult times? Feel free to post your comment below.
When you hear the word “strength” you likely think of traits or characteristics that are easily visible to others. But you also have “quiet” strengths that are demonstrated in your relationships interactions, and in who you are. These quiet strengths might be empathy, being a good listener, making others feel important, spirituality, and more.I’m continually inspired by the inner strengths of many women that I meet with in my counseling practice, and in workshops, who are dealing with difficult life situations: the loss of a child, marital distress, debilitating depression, chronic illness, and more. They face difficult life situations with courage and strive to move beyond their current situation.One of my own quiet strengths is the ability to reflect on my inner life and on my relationships and express my experience through songs. I gain much inspiration for themes and lyrics from my important relationships and life experiences.Three women in particular have inspired me with their quiet strengths of self- acceptance, emotional depth, and consistent support.
I have known Sara White for over 15 years and have been inspired by her strength of self-acceptance. Now well into her 90’s, Sara continues to enjoy her family and friends and exudes an inner beauty that is evident to all who know her. Through difficult life experiences Sara has grown in beauty and grace. The years have been a friend to her.
(lyric excerpt, written by Julie de Azevedo)
These lines are signs of many lessons learned
Carved out through time
Smiles that warm and tears that burn
And unexpected turns
Time has been my friend it seems
So let Him write on meYou can call me flawed
You can call it character
But I choose to call these changes
God’s signatureMaybe it’s part of His design
That our landscape shifts with time
And youth is just a blur
Maybe it’s part of His design
And letting go of pride
It’s proof that we’re aliveâ€¦
Melodie Williams, a long-time friend and mentor has inspired me with her unique emotional depth and thoughtfulness about life. Always an optimist, Melodie has encouraged me to seek continual growth in my emotional and spiritual life while maintaining a hopeful outlook. As a professional painter, her depth is expressed beautifully in her artwork. To learn more about Melodie’s art visit www.melodiewilliamsart.com.
(lyric excerpt, written by Julie de Azevedo)
Dive deep into this ocean
Brave uncharted sea
You’ll never own me
If you want to hold me
Dive deep into this ocean
Cradle any jewel
Swim with the lover
Dance with the mother
Kiss the wife
And laugh with the girl
My mother, Linda de Azevedo , dedicated her life to raising nine children. It wasn’t until I became a mother that my appreciation for her deepened as I realized the impact of her constant support throughout my life. I wrote this song “Angels” as a tribute to her life. Still, she continues to be a source of support to me and my family generously offering praise, encouragement, and practical help whenever possible. Soon after this segment airs, she will be the first to call or send a text cheering me on.
(lyrics excerpt, written by Julie de Azevedo)
She was a girl just a young girl at nineteen
When she left behind her the life she had known
Got all dressed up in white
Oh to be a new bride
And set out to make a house a home
When she found herself she was drowning in laundry
Up all the night and driving all day
And every few years she would come up for air
In between lessons, carpool, and PTABut the angels they carried her
Through the fire and the rain
And the angels they carried her
From the end of her rope to the end of her day
And the angels, they sang to her
So she know someone was there
She had wings and prayers
Looking back it’s clear
She was touching heaven all those yearsâ€¦
My new CD “Masterpiece: The Best of Julie de Azevedo” is available at Deseret Book.
The light of springtime often inspires the cleaning out of clutter in your home and yard, and exposes the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have been collecting during the winter months. It’s also a good time to consider cleaning out your emotional space: your thoughts and feelings. Just as it feels good to walk into an organized closet or enjoy a sparkling hardwood floor, emotional spring cleaning can provide a boost and a sense of relief and accomplishment. So, put down your mop and storage bins because I’ve got a different kind of spring cleaning for you. Here’sÂ an emotional spring cleaning checklist to help you get started!
Emotional Spring Cleaning Checklist:
1. Cultivate quiet time
Ask yourself: Do I take time to reflect on my internal world? Am I able to identify how I am feeling and what I am thinking? What can I clear out of my internal home that will allow me to become a calmer, more centered person?
Plan some alone time to take an internal inventory and identify what has been cluttering your heart and mind. Meditation, prayer, hiking, and yoga are excellent examples of external acts that promote internal reflection. Spend time visualizing how you want to feel in your life and in your relationships.
2. Jot it in a journal
Ask yourself: What am I feeling and thinking? Is there anything that has been bothering me or weighing me down?
Putting pen to paper and identifying your thoughts and emotions helps clear out your emotional space, make emotions seem more manageable, and gives you a different perspective. You may not realize how cluttered your insides have become until you start articulating them. Emotions (E-motions) are “energy in motion” and they are designed to move through you, not to stay stuck in your body. Next time you feel emotionally burdened write it down. In my therapy practice, I keep a stack of small notebooks to give away to clients as “homework” assignments in which they can practice identifying and expressing thoughts and feelings.
3. Give up a grudge
Ask yourself: Am I holding on to past hurt that I’d be willing to let go of? Why am I still holding on to this resentment?
Releasing your grip on a gripe can free up emotional energy that you can then invest in other, more positive, areas of your life. I’ve heard it said that holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. While having a range of emotions is normal, including anger and hurt, letting those feelings take up permanent residence in your heart ultimately hurts you. A recent couple I worked with realized the power of giving up a grudge. The wife kept bringing up how angry she was when her husband was quiet and how he “froze” when she was upset. She was resentful and hopeless until she realized her husband’s silence stemmed from his fear of making things worse, not because he didn’t care about her.
4. Offer an apology
Ask yourself – Is there someone in my life that, when I see them, stirs up feelings or regret or awkwardness about something I’ve said or done? Do I know that I’ve made a mistake that has hurt someone that I haven’t “clean up”?
If you feel unsettled about something you’ve said or done to another person, offer a sincere apology to clear the air. Even if it was unintentional on your part, a generous and heartfelt apology can remove unnecessary discomfort inside of you and repair damaged connections with others. I can attest to the relief that comes from taking ownership of a mistake or misstep. A few months ago I spoke with a friend about a lingering misunderstanding between us and owned up to my insensitivity. Though it was a fairly minor incident, I didn’t realize until it was resolved how much space it was taking in my internal life.
5. Forgive your faults
Ask yourself: Is there something that I’ve said or done, or a trait that I don’t like about myself that seems to clutter my mind?
Often, it is easier to overlook other’s faults than it is to let go of your own shortcomings. Over time it’s easy to collect evidence for negative self-evaluations like, “I am never good enough” or “I’m always putting my foot in my mouth” or “See! I’m not good at relationships”. Dwelling on your past mistakes or clutters the present and leads to self-critical thoughts and feelings. Humans aren’t inspired to do better by criticism, and this applies to self-criticism. How freeing it is to acknowledge that you will make mistakes and have weaknesses as a human, but that it is possible to learn from personal experiences and still maintain a sense of self-acceptance. When my therapy clients are able to achieve this self-acceptance in spite of their own weakness, I call this becoming an “emotional grown-up”.
6. Tell the truth
Ask yourself: When someone asks me how I’m doing, do I say that “I’m fine” even when I’m not?
A willingness to be emotionally honest with those we love can deepen our connections and allow our loved ones to offer support and encouragement to us. Recently, a young adult therapy client discovered when she “told the truth” to her parents she not only felt relieved but it also improved her relationships with them. If you are afraid that being more emotionally honest in your relationships will hurt them, think again. Not sharing your truth for long periods of time leads to emotional build up that eventually erupts, causing further breakdowns in communication and relationship break-ups.Â The emotional eruption does far more damage to relationships than speaking your truth all along the way.
Self & Relationship Expert Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW, founder and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, LLC specializes in women’s mental health therapy, marriage counseling and family therapy. Visit http://www.drjuliehanks.comfor more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!
May 2-8, 2010 is National Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week. Wasatch Family Therapy therapists are offering FREE screenings by appointment. Visit http://www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com or call (801) 944-4555 to schedule your screening.
The Sibling Shuffle: Solutions for parenting more than one child
As one of nine children in my family of origin, and as the mother of four in my current family, I know all about the pain and the joys of sibling relationships and of the parenting challenges that come along with raising children. Here are some common complaints and dilemmas, and tips for parenting more than one child.
Common Complaints From Children To Parents
â€¢ That’s not fair!
â€¢ You like him/her better!
â€¢ How come you let him/her do _____________?
â€¢ Why do you baby him/her?
â€¢ How come you’re harder on me than the other kids?
Common Parenting Dilemmas
Here are some common family situations that may leave parents wondering how to manage their children’s varying needs:
â€¢ One child is dedicated to and involved in a sport, artistic, or academic area that is very time consuming and expensive.
â€¢ A child has an illness or disability and requires extra parental attention.
â€¢ Many years separate the ages of siblings so they are in different developmental stages.
â€¢ Your personality just “clicks” with one child over the others.
Solutions for Parenting More Than One Child:
1 -Focus on meeting needs instead of on fairness
No matter how hard you try to be “fair” among siblings there is really no way to achieve equality. There will be times when parent’s attention will shift slightly toward one child or another depending on each child’s needs. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but an opportunity for the other children to learn life lessons, like empathy and patience. Rather than trying to be fair, focus on meeting each child’s needs at each stage of development.
A wise friend and mother of four, Cori Connors, shared this helpful idea when it comes to parenting many children, “I always told my children they were soup…some need an onion, some need more bullion, some need more salt or a little pepper. If I didn’t taste and adjust according to what was needed it would be yucky soup. You can’t just presume that fine cuisine follows one recipe.”
2-Celebrate each child’s unique qualities
Each child has different talents and strengths that can and should be celebrated. For example, if your family is big on sports and one child is more gifted in art than athletics, be sure to attend his or her art shows and encourage siblings to show their support. If you have a child that is more challenging for you to understand or celebrate, it’s even more important to actively find strengths to celebrate. Be careful not to compare children to their siblings.
3-Avoid labeling your children
While it’s natural for parents to categorize (i.e. the baby, the quiet one, the smart one, the dumb one, the helpful one, the pretty one, the loud one) but keep in mind that labels, even when positive, can hinder your child’s self-expression and development especially when they are rigid and enduring. It may be more helpful to acknowledge each child’s efforts instead of using a general label. For example, instead of saying, “You’re so smart” try, “You work hard and really seem to care about doing well in school.”
4-Listen to each child’s underlying emotions & desires
Underscoring children’s complaints to parents about unfair treatment are often requests for their needs to be met and for their underlying emotions to be heard. As the parent, you have the honor of helping your child learn to identify their deeper emotions and to help them say what they want and need from you. For example, if a child says, “You love him more than me!” he may be trying to say “Mom, I’m sad that I’m not spending more time with you.” Put your own defensiveness on hold and try to hear the meaning behind the complaint.
5-Encourage cooperation instead of competition
Since most siblings seem to be competitive by nature, it’s easy as a parent to use this competition to motivate our children to do what we want them to do. Instead, Use phrases that encourage win-win situations and helping each other. Instead of saying, “Let’s see who can get their teeth brushed first” try “Let’s all get teeth brushed and read a book together.”
Ninety percent of couples improve with Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy! That’s an unparalleled success rate and last year I had the privilege of interviewingÂ Scott Wooley, PhD, one of the worldwide EFT trainers.Â Since then I have been training in EFT so I can more effectively help couples! To find an EFT therapist in your area visit ICEEFT.com
I recently surveyed more than 600 Utah women and found that 60 percent say they take on more commitments than they can handle, and 68 percent reported they don’t say “no” when asked to do something they don’t want to do. There are so many demands on your time and energy that saying “no” is crucial to your emotional well-being.
Why is it hard to say “no”?
In my therapy office and in my workshops I often hear women they don’t say “no” because:
“I don’t want to disappoint others.”
“I should be able to do it all.”
“I want to help.”
“If I say ‘no’ I feel guilty.”
“I want to please others.”
“I feel pressured by others.”
“No” is an important boundary -It shows that you are a separate person with your own thoughts, feelings and desires. Saying “no” acknowledges that you are different from others and that your voice does matter.
“No” prevents burnout – Saying “no” and setting limits allows you to prevent feeling overwhelmed and becoming overcommitted. We have to pick and choose where to invest our time, energy and other resources. A wise workshop participant commented, “When I say ‘no’ I’m saying ‘yes’ to something more important.”
“No” helps you get what you want – It is an expression of your sense of self. If you know what you don’t want to do, you can identify what you do want.
Tips For Saying “No”
1) Accept that you have limitations
Everyone has limits to what they want to and can accomplish. It’s simply part of being human. Many women feel bad about having limitations of time, energy and prior commitments, just to name a few.2) “No” is an honorable response
Saying “no” means telling your truth. If you allow yourself to say “no” when you mean it, others will trust that when you say “yes” you also mean it and will follow through.3) You owe no one an explanation
If you give your week’s schedule, or the reasons why you are saying “no”, you open up the door for others to rearrange your schedule to accommodate their request, or to discount or argue with your reasoning. While I find it difficult to simply say “no” followed by an awkward silence, I really like the phrase “No, that’s just not going to work for me” because it softens the “no” without actually giving an explanation.
Click HERE to read more about why “no” is important and for tips to help you say “no”
(I’m reposting this one because I FINALLY go the video clip added)
Studio 5 Contributor and Self & Family Expert Julie Hanks, LCSW shares ways to continue your personal growth and rediscover your passion without leaving your life to travel the world.
Eat, Pray, Love…at Home
Taking a year out of your life and traveling the world to rediscover yourself, like Elizabeth Gilbert in her best-selling memoir turned blockbuster movie Eat Pray Love, is hardly realistic for me and for most women I know. Yet, there is something about Liz’s quest to reconnect with herself and to rediscover her passion for life that resonates with millions of moviegoers. I believe its possible to continue the journey of personal development while remaining committed to family relationships, and without traveling to exotic destinations.
Tips to Eat Pray Love…at Home:
1-Venture out of your comfort zone
Liz: â€œI used to have this appetite for life and itâ€™s just gone!â€ â€œI want to go someplace where I can marvel at something!â€ (Eat Love Pray, 2010).
If you feel numb, shut down, or on emotional “autopilot” try stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new, uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Try a new restaurant or a new sport. Extend yourself to someone outside of your circle of friends. If you like to read fiction, read non-fiction. You don’t have to travel to an exotic destination to get a new perspective on life.
From a man’s perspective…Steven Kapp Perry, radio host & father of 4 got out of his comfort zone by “climbing King’s Peak with my boys (twice) and I’m afraid of heights. I could go on. I think everything good about my life has come from venturing out of whatever my comfort zone used to be. It’s a lot bigger place these days.”
2-Savor your senses
Liz: â€œIâ€™m having a relationship with my pizzaâ€. This is my no Carb left behind experiment.â€ (Eat Love Pray, 2010).
Are you trapped in a routine of checking off tasks and making schedules? If so, try tuning into your senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. The ability to savor your own experience, no matter how small, adds dimension and increases positive feelings of pleasure. Focus on how it feels to be in your body, the wonderful smell of your favorite pizza, the warm touch of a friend’s hand on your shoulder, the beautiful sunset…
In my psychotherapy practice with women, many clients express that they have lost the enjoyment in physical intimacy. I think this is in part because they have become so good at tuning into their loved ones needs and emotions that it becomes difficult to â€œswitch gearsâ€ and focus on their own senses; a requirement for fulfilling sexual experiences.
Liz: â€œOk, Simply empty your mind. Youâ€™re going to sit here for an hour of your life and youâ€™re not moving, why is this so hard…â€ (Eat Love Pray, 2010) .
Focus attention solely on the present moment and acknowledge your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Take a few minutes each day to quiet your mind and see what comes up. Relaxation, meditation, yoga, prayer, and many other spiritual practices provide health and mental health benefits, and have even been shown to improve your relationships.
Jennie M., wife and mother of three boys advises: “Take time to focus on things that matter most to us and try to have a good balance. For me it is running. My husband supports me and watches our 3 boys while I go run 30 – 60 minutes. It’s my time to get out think, pray, re-focus, and have time to myself.”
4-Listen to your inner voice
Liz: â€œI need to change. Since I was fifteen Iâ€™ve either been with a guy or breaking up with a guyâ€Â (Eat Love Pray, 2010).
It’s easy to let the voices, needs, opinions, and expectations of others drown out your own voice, just as Liz experienced in Eat Pray Love. If your gut says you need a break, or need more time with friends, or need to rest, listen and ask for your needs to be met. Longings, dreams, thoughts and feelings are clues to what you need in order to continue your personal growth.
Jennie G., wife and stay-at-home mother of five says: “Learn to trust that inner voice. If it tells you that you really need a night out with a friend, do it! If you need to start a new book, buy one. If you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself, go serve someone else. If you want to learn something new, sign up for a class. I think each of us know what we need, we’re just too scared or not used to listening to that inner voice that will guide you to exactly what it is you need. The trick is to listen, and know that you are worth listening to!”
Women often complain about their husband’s lack of help or enthusiasm for the holiday preparations. Husband’s are often puzzled about why wives get so stressed out about shopping, decorating, and baking. Here’s why women get stressed and solutions to get your man to help with the festivities.
1-Women feel responsible for the “intangibles” of family life (e.g. maintaining relationships, fulfilling family expectations, setting mood & tone, giving meaning to family traditions, a sense that they are adding value)
Get your man to help by…Sharing what your holiday traditions mean to you. (“It’s important to me to keep in touch with friends and family through sending yearly Christmas cards.” “Baking cookies reminds me of holidays with my grandmother and helps me feel connected to her.”)
Â 2-Women want to fulfill their own & other’s expectations
Get your man to help byâ€¦ listening to your husband’s feedback that challenges your assumptions about the way things “should be”. Allow your spouse to help you find more realistic expectations. (“Maybe we don’t need to send out Christmas cards every year. Maybe every other year would be fine.” “Do we really have to make homemade gifts for the entire neighborhood?”)
3-Women feel like they should be able to “do it all” & have difficulty asking for help
Get your man to help byâ€¦ Ask for help directly, specifically, & with a time frame. ( “Will you help put labels on the Christmas cards by the end of the weekend?” “Will you be in charge of buying gifts for Brooke & Darin this year?” )