Here’s today’s relationship column in the July 2010 issue of Wasatch Woman Magazine, now available as an insert in the Deseret News & Salt Lake Tribune! I’m thrilled about the opportunity to inspire even more women with my column. Here’s today’s article. Enjoy.
INITIATIVE SEEKS WOMEN TO WORK OUT FINANCES PUBLICLY
Amanda Dixon interviewed me for a story about KSL’s campaign to help women become more financially empowered.Â You can apply for a “financial makeover” at imagineahappieryou.com for the next 2 days! Here’s today’s news segment…
Do you wish that you had more energy? I do. I often look at my three year old who jumps out of bed with boundless energy, excited to face the adventure of the day, with envy. Unlike my three-year-old daughter, who has relatively few worries and concerns, I have many potential concerns that can drain emotional energy. Life transitions, grief and loss, mental or physical illness, stress, and relationship distress can all take a toll on emotional energy.
Energy is defined as a usable power source. “E”motions are “energy in motion”, propelling us to move in certain directions. More than mere physical energy; emotions provide a deeper, internal energy source. We’re talking today about how to use emotional energy as a power source and how to boost our emotional energy. According to therapist and researcher Mira Kirshenbaum, emotional energy is, “an aliveness of the mind, a happiness of the heart, and a spirit filled with hope.”
Tips for boosting your emotional energy:
Pursue your passions
What gets you excited about life? What do you look forward to? What emotionally energizes you? Dream big! Passion is a life compass, pointing you to your unique strengths and life purpose. Being involved in your passions refuels your emotional energy. When my sister Rachel Coleman’s daughter was born profoundly deaf, Rachel, along with our sister Emilie Brown, started producing Signing Time! DVDs designed to improve the communication of all children by teaching American Sign Language. Their passion is infectious and has inspired many families throughout the world.
Live on purpose
What is your life about? What is your greater purpose? How are you making a difference for others? Having a purpose greater than your own life is energizing and can even transcend physical health problems and chronic illness. A wonderful example of this purpose is the well-known actor Christopher Reeves. After being thrown off of a horse, he became quadriplegic and he dedicated the remainder of his life to advocating for research and life enhancement for individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Just say “no”
Do I want to do this? Does this feel emotionally energizing or emotionally draining? What you want matters. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. If you find yourself doing things just to please others, to avoid guilt, or because you think you “should”, you may be unnecessarily draining your emotional reserves. Resentment is a helpful clue that you need to put “no” back into your vocabulary, and start being more selective about what you commit to. Distance from draining people
Guard your emotional reserves by being selective about who you spend time with and who you listen to. Just as joy can be contagious, negativity of others can seep into your emotional space and drain you. If you notice any of these chronic patterns, consider taking a step back and reflecting on your relationship. Complaining, blaming, belittling, gossiping, demanding, rigid rules, and excessive neediness are a few examples of draining relationship patterns.
Invest in important relationships
We are all born to connect with others. It’s necessary for our very survival. Close relationships can emotionally energize you like nothing else in the world. Prioritize the relationships that feed your soul, and take care of your intimate family relationships above all others. Take time to connect with your loved ones, and to let them know on a regular basis how much you value them.
Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. ~Swedish Proverb
It is in the shelter of each other that people live ~ Irish Proverb
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 www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com to learn more about counseling services, workshops, & classes. Visit www.drjuliehanks.com for more inspiration on how to let your best self shine!
What do YOU do to boost your emotional energy? Comment below (your email will not be made public) 🙂
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.
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.
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”