Chrysalis Connections, LLC - Family Relationship Blog
Our mission is to help individuals, couples, and families build harmonious relationships through the development of mature leadership within themselves and the communities and larger systems where they live, play, worship and work!
Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? Cinderella loses her slipper but ends up finding her prince charming. Sleeping Beauty is awakened by a kiss from her handsome prince and Snow White triumphs over her evil stepmother’s plan to destroy her by the kiss of…you guessed it…her handsome prince. It’s the classic good trumps evil narrative we all love. The prince gets his princess, the evil doer is vanquished and they all live happily ever after.
The happily ever after template is a common cultural format that emphasizes victory over struggle, conquest over defeat and the promise of a new and glorious future on the other side of pain and anguish. It is a template that gives hope and allows us to believe that a new tomorrow is just on the other side of the horizon.
It’s all good…right?
It’s all good as long as you are the one who gets the fairly tale ending.
Real life, however, doesn’t always play out like a Disney fairy tale. In the real world, relationships end, people lose jobs and life has a tendency to smack us up side the head on a fairly regular basis. In short, real life is often more like a nefarious Grimm fairy tale than a Disney movie.
The assimilation of the fairy tale, happily ever after ending, as a cultural norm, seems to have really taken hold towards the end of the second world war. The hope of a brighter and safer future loomed large in the late 1940’s and with the expansion of the television sitcom in the 1950’s, the happily ever after paradigm grew legs and began to show up as the generally accepted or preferred narrative for movies, television programing and radio broadcasts. The iconic 30 minute presenting problem, conflict and resolution sitcom model helped propel the happiness expectation into overdrive and happiness quickly became a highly sought after and expected commodity or outcome.
Today, the expectation of a happy life is easily identifiable as the new normal to which the majority of the population aspire. We all want to be happy and if we are not happy, we worry that we may not be normal.
As the happiness model or expectation has continued to grow and the cultural expectation of a happy life has solidified as a normative value, a somewhat sinister and countercultural movement of worry and emotional distress has also been gaining momentum. In alarming numbers, people who find themselves unable to achieve or maintain the happiness mandate often become concerned with their perceived lack of happiness and worry they are somehow defective or even ill.
As a result, sadness, loneliness, grief, fear, anger and other forms of emotional distress have increasingly been redefined by the culture as abnormal and maladaptive. In large part, a whole industry of pharmaceutical, medical and psychiatric interventionist have sprung up to identify, treat and medicate the relationally, emotionally, behaviorally and spiritually unhappy. Because after all, if we are unhappy, there must be something wrong.
What tends to get lost in this discussion about happiness and the desire for the fairy tale ending, is the fact that real life is seldom an ever increasing trajectory of pleasure, increase and happiness. Real life contains struggle and sadness and pain and experiencing these aspects of life does not make one abnormal or ill. It simply makes one human.
When we get lost in the fairly tale myth, we lose our perspective on what a normal life looks like and how to deal with inherent difficulties that life brings. If you lose a life partner to death, it is normal to feel sad and lost and angry. Betrayal by a trusted friend can bring feelings of confusion, frustration and fear.
People who experience great trauma may pull into themselves as a way of managing their pain and guard against further emotional damage. For the most part, much of what we label mental and emotional illness is actually a very normal reaction to an abnormal situation.
So is the happily ever after ending nothing more than a child’s fairy tale? Is it possible to be happy even when life serves up difficult and perplexing challenges?
The good news is YES! Life can be full and rich, abundant and HAPPY because happiness is choice.
Yeah right… Now before you tune me out…let me explain.
The inherent problem with the happily ever after model is not the desire to be happy, it is the way happiness is being defined. In the happily ever after model, happiness is defined as the absence of any type of problem or difficulty. Happily ever after conjures up images of blissful, trouble free days where conflict is nonexistent and everything I want is everything I get. Happiness defined in this manner is not obtainable because it is founded on a false assumption…that in order to be happy, life must be free of difficulties.
We all know that life comes with it fair share of difficulties. So if happiness was dependent on the absence of difficulties, happiness would be nothing more than an elusive, fairy tale that only happens to Disney princesses. The good news is that real happiness is not dependent upon circumstances or outcomes. It is an attitude or way of being, we choose.
Happiness, defined through the lens of choice, is a largely a reflection of our fundamental beliefs and our perceptions. It is a state of internal soundness and peace that transcends our external circumstance or position. In many ways, happiness is a byproduct of an internal sense of well-being and contentment that supersedes the situational and often transient events that impact our lives. Thus happiness is an internal event that has very little to do with whether or not life plays out in our favor.
The happily ever after model has unfortunately become a normative, societal paradigm. As individuals, couples and families increasingly strive to live out this fairy tale model in real life, they often become disillusioned by their inability to find or maintain a life free of conflict and difficulties. They worry about their worries and anxiously fear their relational and emotional struggles are evidence of some type of emotional or mental deficiency. Within the context of the current cultural definition of happiness, the ability to find contentment and internal peace in the midst of real life struggles increasingly feels like an elusive and fanciful fairy tale.
The good news is that happiness, true happiness is neither a fairy tale or an unobtainable dream. A truly happy relationally, emotionally, behavioral and spiritualty life is not only possible, it is possible for you!
To learn more about living a truly happy life in the midst of real life difficulties schedule your appointment online or call the main office at 317-760-0604.
Happiness and a rich, abundant and satisfying life is possible! There is hope!
Chrysalis Connections, LLC
Most of us would agree that relationship problems are the source of a considerable amount of the emotional and mental distress we experience. Conflict in our marriages, disconnection with our children, resentments in our families of origin and frustrations in our places of employment can often drive us to distraction. If only there were a way to live in peace with those with whom we relationally interact.
When tension and conflict develop in a relationship it is tempting to first find fault in the other party. If only, they would listen. If only, they cared. If only, they would see the wisdom of doing things my way. If only.
This type of other-centered focus, however, seldom creates space for mutuality or resolution. In our efforts to get the other person to conform to our way of thinking, we lose sight of the futility of attempting to control someone else.
The more we attempt to make our case, the more we seem to drive a wedge between ourselves and the other person. If only there was another way.
The key to living in peace with others is not as elusive as we might first think. It is, however, a bit paradoxical for in order to find peace with others, we must first find peace with ourselves. In other words, the key to developing an extraordinary relationship with others is dependent upon our ability to develop an extraordinary relationship with ourselves.
Attempts to control others and bring them into conformity to our way of thinking are seldom effective. When we attempt to manage another person’s behavior, thinking, reactivity or emotions, we will generally end up triggering the very emotions, reactivity and/or thinking in ourselves that we find so distressing in others. What I identify as problematic in others is generally just a reflection of something I need to manage in my own life.
That didn’t feel good. You mean instead of focusing on how I believe the other person should behave, or act or change, I need to focus on my own behavior, emotions, and actions? Wow…that’s not fun. I agree. But it is effective.
Self Regulation and Emotional Stability
If we are truly interested in reducing the amount of tension, conflict, disconnection and frustration in our interactions with others, we must first be willing to address the true source of these issues, most notably, our intrinsic belief that we can only be happy and content and emotionally stable if we can get everyone and everything around us to behave the way we wish they would behave…or act…or believe. If only.
It can feel a bit ironic to realize that the key to emotionally stable, connectedness and truly intimate relationships with others is housed in our willingness to address our own emotional stability and tendencies for reactivity. Once I address and develop my ability to remain emotionally stable and nonreactive during relational interactions, there are few, if any, situations or events that can knock me off center and escalate into emotional and/or relational distress. From a place of calm, nonreactive stability, disagreements become less distressing and conflict more manageable.
Extraordinary relationships are not as elusive as they might first appear. They do, however, require a shift in perception that redirects our focus back to ourselves and our willingness to develop a healthy, balanced, self regulated and emotionally stable way of internal being. When I first focus on self development, self regulation and emotional maturity, extraordinary relationships become both natural and abundant.
Chrysalis Connections, LLC
Relationship Counseling and Consultation
429 E. Vermont Street, Suite 208
Indianapolis, IN 46202
317-760-0604Schedule OnlineThere is Hope! Relational health and happiness is possible!
Marital finances and/or financial disagreements and problems have long been associated with marital dissatisfaction and discord. Ask any number of couples to identify what they believe are the primary issues that lead to marital arguments and conflict and you will most likely hear finances and communication. And while it may be true that problems related to finances and communication, (and a host of other problems) may be the proverbial “last straw” that got the couple into therapy, these issues are generally more of a symptom than a root cause.
In other words, communication and financial problems are indicators that point to a more central or underlying difficulty or issue that is simply masquerading as a financial or communication issue. Teaching a couple good communication and budgeting skills will seldom alleviate the conflict or disconnection because the financial and/or communication problem is not the real problem.
Marital finances and/or communication issues are, however, great mirrors through which we can explore the dynamics undergirding marital disconnection and discord. Show me a couple that can’t outline a clear and concise financial plan and I will show you a couple that is having problems communicating.
It would be fair to say that the majority of couples who come to therapy because of marital conflict would prefer to talk about communication issues. They are generally less excited about talking about their financial matters. They believe that if they could communicate better, everything else would fall into place. And to some extent there is validity in that perspective. Increased communication skills can enhance a couple’s ability to express and discuss their differences. However, couples are often unaware of how financial interactions, or the lack thereof, mirror or mimic the relational dynamics of the couplehood. In short, financial problems, standoffs, disconnects and conflicts act as a template for the couple’s particular brand of marital conflict.
A close evaluation of the marital financial dynamic can often uncover the attitudes, beliefs, concerns and perceptions that are actually the areas of greater concern and the true precipitating cause of the marital issues.
Types of Couple Financial PatternsThe Yours and Mine Couple
The yours and mine couple are a couple that have not fully committed to the marital relationship. Such a dynamic is indicative of a lack of trust. This couple will generally maintain two separate bank accounts and assign certain financial responsibilities to one partner or the other. It is not unusual for this couple to pay for therapy services on a rotating or alternating basis. There are concerns about what is fair and one partner taking advantage of the other. This couple may assign specific bills to one partner or the other, i.e., I pay the mortgage, you pay the water and electric bill. In the yours and mine couplehood the partners are engaged in a struggle for dominance or control.
The Yours, Mine and Ours Couple
The yours, mine and ours couple have a greater level of trust than the yours and mine couple but there are still concerns about totally committing to the relationship. This couple may have a joint account but will also maintain separate accounts with money that is specifically managed by the owner of that account. This money management template is indicative of a kind of bet hedging. The partners are generally committed to the relationship, unless or until, something stops working or one partner does not live up to the expectations of the other partner. In the your, mine and ours couple the partners demonstrate a desire for mutuality that is being thwarted by anxieties and perceptions about power, control, security and rejection.
The You Without Me Couple
The you without me couple is an unequal yoking in which one partner assumes a more subservient or avoidant stance in the relationship. This couplehood often features a leader partner who assumes a more authoritative position in the relationship and manages virtually all of the marital assets with little to no input or involvement by the placating partner. This marital dynamic is a set up for resentment, passive retaliation, blaming and issues related to contempt and defensiveness. The passive partner in this couple dynamic is generally, however, the true dominate. The you without me couple has established a pattern of control in which the seemingly subservient partner is actually holding the power in the relationship.
The Me Without You Couple
The me without you couple is similar to the you without me couple, but the power dynamic is reversed. In this couple constellation, the true dominate is the authoritarian partner who insists on managing the couple’s finances. The dominate partner may see any attempts by their mate to be involved in financial matters as a threat or a negative critique of their abilities. The less dominate partner is generally less assertive and more willing to allow the dominate partner to manage the couple’s finances in order to avoid or maintain some sibilance of marital integrity and order. The me without you couple is often struggling with co-dependency, assertiveness, insecurity and issues related to self-doubt and/or rejection.
The Me Over You Couple
The me over you couple is a hierarchical dynamic in which one partner genuinely sees the other as unable or incapable of being a part of financial discussions. The lead partner is generally the primary contributor to the marital assets and uses this position as grounds for dominating the partner who contributes less. This dynamic breeds instability in the relationship as the less powerful partner often feels especially vulnerable and at risk. The dominate partner in this relationship may use their financial position as a tool for maintaining control of the relationship and may verbalize their intent to leave or reject the more financially vulnerable partner should they not meet with the approval or directives of the lead partner.
The You Over Me Couple
The you over me couple is a variation of the me over you dynamic in which the partner who contributes less is content and supportive of their partner taking the lead in all financial matters. While it is still a hierarchical dynamic, it is a more imposed rather than asserted positioning. In this dynamic, the hierarchical position is encouraged by the less involved or avoidant partner who happily assumes a less involved and less responsible position under the “leadership” of their partner. Here the partner placed in the hierarchical position may assume the dominate role and manage the couple’s finances but inwardly develops a resentment for the freedom enjoyed by the less involved and less responsible partner. Over time, the managing partner may begin to use their leadership role to pressure the less involved partner to assume responsibility in other areas of the relationship.
The Us Couplehood
The us couplehood is a partnership of equals. In this couplehood both partners assume equal responsibility for financial matters. Regardless of the earning positional of the partners, all earned incomes are placed in a mutual account that is used to provide for the partner’s shared needs. While one partner may assume the role of actually paying the bills, both partners share equally in the planning and distribution of their funds. This couple regularly plans for their future and jointly considered the types of investments they will make. They are able to feel secure in the relationship and seldom experience concerns about dominance, power or hierarchy. This couple seldom argues about money and often celebrate accomplished financial goals.
While these outlined financial patterns are not a complete or exhaustive list of the types of marital conflict couples experience, they do provide insight into the underlying issues that support and facilitate couple discord and disconnection. Such patterns can help couples begin to identify how problems related to trust, control, rejection, co-dependency, dominance, avoidance, passivity, abuse and power manifest in the various aspects of their couplehood.
Helping couples consider the dynamics involved in their financial matters is never about the couple’s actual money. How they mange their money, feel about their money, relate to their money and interact with their money does however, does provide insight into the beliefs, attitudes, perceptions and concerns that form and undergird the couplehood.
In and of itself, money is nothing more than a social construct designed to provide for the exchange of goods and services. After all, both money and Kleenex are simply types of paper. Their value is determined by the significance we assign to both.
What we infer about money is much more important than the actual money itself. As scripture rightly asserts, it is the love of money, not the money itself, that is problematic.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil” ~ 1 Timothy 6:10
Helping couples sort through the dynamics of their financial matters may not seem like an important or appropriate use of the therapy hour. But like most external manifestations or behaviors, the external is often the best measure of the internal. As couples begin to explore their financial patterns, concerns and dynamics, they begin to better understand how their attitudes and beliefs about money mirror their attitudes and beliefs about power, control, acceptance, equality, value and security.
As couple’s explore and work through the underlying issues that play out in their financial matters, they gain not only a more conducive, equal and satisfying marital relationship…they often find themselves enjoying the benefits of a healthier bottom line as well. Healthy couplehood, healthy finances. And that, my friends, is a pretty lucrative return on investment.
Want to learn more about how financial dynamics impact the marital relationship?
On any given day, week, month or year, I sit with a number of couples whose relationships have deteriorated into various states of marital disconnection. For some couples the disconnection has become so pervasive, they are beyond all hope. In fact, by the time they find their way to the therapy couch, they may have already taken preliminary steps to dissolve the relationship through separation or divorce. For other couples, the disconnection has become such a “normal” way of being with one another, they doubt whether or not they ever really had a good relationship to begin with or could ever feel genuinely united.
My experience has taught me that all couples have the capacity to heal, connect and reconcile. If, and this is a pretty big if, they individually and collectively are willing to embrace and follow a few guiding principles about couplehood and reconciliation. On the surface that can sound deceptively simplistic. Just follow these steps and your relationship will transform into the type of couplehood you have always wanted. Yeah right. I said it sounded simple…I didn’t say it was simple.
Marital reconciliation is hard work and is best undertaken by two partners who are both committed to the process. If one partner, or the other, hedges their bets, the probability of reconciliation is greatly reduced if not thwarted. Mutual commitment to the process is an important element of the process.
Seen and Heard
From here, the partners must be willing to allow one another the space to share the story of their couplehood from their unique perception. Preferably, this takes place in the absence of the word “you.” Better know as the use of I-statements. Being seen and heard in the relationship is another important element of the process. But it is still not the key element.
Once each partner has had the opportunity respectfully tell their story, they attempt to offer one another validation. Which by the way doesn’t imply agreement about their partner’s perception. Validation, in this situation, is an acknowledgment of their partner’s feelings and perceptions. It is not an endorsement, it is an acknowledgment i.e., “I understand how you could feel that way.” Validation, however, is still not the key to reconciliation and healing.
At this point, we’ve effectively cleared the air and hopefully allowed both partners to feel seen, heard and validated by their partner which now allows the couple to move into the more “meaty” parts of the process which begins with forgiveness.
Forgiveness can be a prickly subject for couples. Often this is because they think forgiveness is the evoking of a kind of get out of jail free card. They think if they forgive, they will be denying the pain, the harm and emotional damage they have experienced. They may even think that forgiveness implies blindly trusting a partner that may have proved themselves unworthy of trust.
In reality, forgiveness is an act of our will that has very little to do with the other person. Forgiveness is a one person event in which each individual partner decides to offer the gift of forgiveness…not because it is deserved…but because holding on to un-forgiveness is a bit like holding a hot coal in our hands and wondering why the other person is not being burned. When we forgive, we make a conscious decision (with our thinking brain) with which our emotions eventually come into alignment.
Which brings us to the process of reconciliation and the key you’ve been waiting for. In reconciliation, both partners take personal responsibility for their part of the disconnection, derailment, emotional damage, etc. and offer and receive a genuine, authentic apology for faulty and often harmful choices, behaviors, words and actions.
The key to this process, and the larger process of healing the marital relationship however, is an attitude of the heart and mind in which each partner truly sees, acknowledges and experiences a shift in the way they understand their contribution to the marital disconnection. In essence, they have a genuine moment of clarity or coming to one’s self in which they change their heart and change their mind about their contributions to the relationship and chart a new course or direction. We call this element or key repentance.
Repentance is one of those words that often conjures up images of angry people wagging a bony finger in someone’s face as they shout repent! The negative connotations that have been attributed to this word or process are unfortunate for in reality the word or process of repentance is a perfect metaphor for the type of mental and behavioral shift that must take place in order to achieve true relational reconciliation.
Repentance, correctly defined, is a change of mind and change of heart in which the person experiences a form of internal enlightenment, clarity, understanding. A coming to one’s self or senses…as it were. This change of mind, change of heart then results in a change of behavior and the setting of a new direction. It is a turning away from the old and a turning to the new. It is much more than an apology.
Repentance is not only an genuine shift in one’s thinking, it is a shift in one’s belief and perception which translates into a shift in one’s behavior, choices and actions. It is revelation followed by action or tangible, external manifestations of the internal shift.
“Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]” ~ (Matthew 3:8, Amp.)
Repentance: Heart and mind transformation followed by action.
The successful navigation of the repentance stage (a change of mind that results in a change of behavior) is the ultimate determining factor for whether or not couples are able to continue through the reconciliation process and achieve true marital healing and relational reconnection. If the partners are able to jointly share in the mutual sharing of the repentance phase, the odds of marital reconciliation and healing grow exponentially.
However, without the key element of repentance, couples often languish in the muck of an articulated apology that feels neither genuine or sufficient for the rebuilding of trust, which is the final step in true marital healing and reconnection. While apologies can be helpful they are often ineffectual in and of themselves and do little to cerate a sense of safety and trust upon which the couple can build a strong relational future.
Repentance is generally not a concept that brings to mind images of reconnection, healing and true intimacy. Repentance, when defined as a change of heart that results in a change of behavior, is however, the key to creating a lasting, safe, growing environment within which trust can be rebuilt and deep, mutually satisfying marital relationships can be constructed.
What to learn more about healing marital disconnection?
For years, I understood the message of giving and receiving to be predicated upon the idea that in order to receive you must first give. I give out of myself and then I receive back. Reaping and sowing. If I sow good things, I get good things. If I sow not so good things, my harvest is most likely going to be limited or less than I might have hoped. It made sense and so I applied that principle to just about every area of my life.
When I give, it gives me joy. I feel blessed. I feel satisfied and comfortable.
Receiving, however, can be a bit more tricky.
In Acts 20:35, the apostle Paul highlights the dynamic of giving and receiving pointing out that giving is often the part of the equation that “feels” better. ‘It is more blessed [and brings greater joy] to give than to receive.’”
Giving, by nature, simply feels better. It is more comfortable, it is more pleasant, it places us in a more superior position…might I say an even powerful position when we are the giver.
When I give, I am demonstrating that I am willing to sacrifice that which I have in order to supply another. Receiving, on the other hand can be joyous but it can also be very uncomfortable and humbling. It carries an implied level of need or distress. Quite frankly, a good number of people find receiving a very distasteful experience because it can feel as though their lack or need is being emphasized. In short, the blessing of giving carries a more gratuitous orientation.
Have you ever tried to give something to someone who had a very difficult time receiving your generosity? It feels kind of uncomfortable doesn’t it. People who can’t receive can sometimes rob the giver of the joy of giving simply by being unable to receive the gift. Reciprocity is an inherent part of the process. If I give, I experience the joy, gratification and satisfaction of having given, but if I receive, I have to be willing to accept not only the gift but the more dependent and humbling aspects of having my need met by another (kind of the opposite of self-sufficiency).
It’s easy to see how Christians can get the idea that giving and doing for others is the door way through which all good things flow. They come to the conclusion that they must first give and then they will receive. This generally ends up with a lot of effort being directed at the work of doing. Lots and lots of doing. I do so that I can receive.
We even tend to apply that idea to our relationship with God. We think…if I do, God will love me. If I give to others, God will be happy with me. The greater the service, the more pleased God will be with me.
What we tend to miss, however, is that its not the doing, and giving and endless efforts to do all the right things that earns us the love of God. God’s love for us is a gift, it has to be received. God’s love is His gift to us.
We don’t have to earn it, we only have to receive it.
It’s not that loving God, worshiping God, studying the Word, and doing acts of service are not important and valuable parts of the Christian life, its just that we tend to think we have to do these things first in order to be acceptable and loved by God.
What we seem to miss is that when it comes to our relationship with God…we have to first receive, before we can give. You simply can’t give out of an empty cup. Unless we humble ourselves and take the position of the recipient, we can’t truly understand the level of love and unconditional acceptance the Father has for us.
When we receive His unconditional love, when we truly know Him as the giver of life, our sufficiency and the author of all Truth, we just naturally fall even more deeply in love with Him. It is out of that love, out of our abundance and gratitude that we then give out to others. When we receive God’s love, and know unequivocally how much He cares for us, our desire to love others, love ourselves and do good will exponentially grow and expand.
Receiving His love, accepting His love, embracing His unconditional love and coming into abundant relationship with Him, becomes the catalyst for everything else.
God extends his love to us, we receive and then we give it out to others.
If we want to love others well, we must first understand how much we are loved. If we are having trouble loving ourselves or others, its is because we don’t understand how much He loves us. If we are wearing ourselves out trying to be good enough for God…it is because we don’t understand that He already loves us just as we are. His love, forgiveness and provision are always available to us…if we choose to receive it.
Before we can do for God, we must learn to be with God.
We receive and then we give.
When we receive His love we are then able to more fully love Him, love ourselves, love others and do good…in that order. Receive Him, receive His love and then give to others and do good. “We love because He first loved us.” I John 4:19
At Chrysalis Connections we understand that people often need to talk through their spiritual concerns. That is why we provide, to those who request, a spiritually sensitive therapeutic experience designed to help you better understand your spiritual self and your relationship with God.
Call today to find out how you can get started or schedule online at your convenience.
We live in a culture of quick. We expect our food to be delivered in minutes, our needs to be met upon utterance and our expectations to be discerned and dispensed without delay. Is it any wonder that people often walk into the therapy room looking for and expecting to find immediate answers for their long term problems?
It would seem that the Age of Aquarius, with it’s hopes for a better, free-er, less establishment oriented world, is being systematically replaced with the Age of Instant Gratification, perpetual motion, physical exhaustion and frayed emotions.
In a culture of immediate satisfaction, the concept of a depth growth process can seem outdated and arduous. After all, who wants to commit to an in-depth therapy process that ferrets out the deeply ingrained, intergenerational patterns that perpetuate troublesome interactionary habits, when the quick-fix promises resolution and happiness in just a few, short, relatively painless interactions?
Therapies that promise problem resolution in the short term, however, often result in a recurrence of the same issue, in a slightly altered state. Different behavioral presentation but the same problem, none the less.
One of my great loves, besides reading books on theory like they are romance novels, is gardening. There is something very therapeutic, and metaphorical about digging around in the dirt, pulling weeds, fertilizing, and tending to new growth. As my grandmother Maddox taught me, the growth process requires good soil, aggressive weed control, just the right amount of fertilizer and…wait for it…time.
Growth… and change… take time.
There is no quick way to grow a seedling. No matter how great the soil, or how lovingly the fertilizer is applied or aggressive the weed control, the beautiful flowers, full shrub or stately tree I long to see require time.
It takes time to grow roots.
Any farmer worth his salt will tell you that before any type of growth is seen above ground, a considerable amount of time goes into the development of the plant’s root system. Roots before growth. Roots before results.
“A farmer planted seed. …some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly.” Mark 4:5 The Message
Plants with deep, well developed roots, can make it through tough times. No rain? That’s ok…because the plant has a fully developed root system it is able to draw water from deep in the earth. Strong winds? That’s ok, because the plant with a deep root system is securely anchored into the soil and is not easily toppled when the winds beat and batter. Even plants that are shorn off at the surface during a particularly strong storm will come back, if, they have a well developed root system.
“…they are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 7 NLT
The process of depth growth may not always seem like the most appealing option to culturally conditioned people indoctrinated with the philosophy of quick. The promise of instant relief is often enough to draw those in pain to the immediacy promised by short-term, quick-fix therapies. For those, however, interested in breaking the intergenerational patterns that seem to keep surfacing in each succeeding generation, the element of time assures that the therapeutic results they seek will be long-lasting, life altering and restorative.
Being a real Self, in relationship with a real God and real Others, requires moving some dirt, pulling some weeds, lovingly applied fertilizer and above all, time to grow roots.
Self Care and To do lists don’t seem like a natural match. Self Care is a more “being” oriented goal while the To Do list is more of a “doing” oriented goal. But these seemingly oppositional goals don’t have to be on such different ends of the continuum. Find our how adding self care, in the form of rest and relaxation can help bring balance and relational harmony back into your life.
I love making lists.
Grocery lists, Christmas lists, Guest lists, and of course the most important list of all…the “to do” list. I just love the organizational stability and feelings of accomplishment I feel as I check off or complete each item on my list.
Over the years, however, I’ve become much less obsessive about my list habit. I’ve learned to use a list as a guide…not a mandate and I’ve learned to rewrite, and, dare I confess, throw lists away that have become especially burdensome.
After all it’s my schedule, I created it…so I can rewrite and recalculate and even discard it any time I want.
But recently, I have realized there are two “tasks,” that have never graced even one of my lists… and my guess is that many of you have also failed to add these two very important items to your lists either.
Their names? Rest and Relaxation (otherwise known as good self care)
It just never occurred to me to actually plan time for rest and relaxation.
Now that might sound a little odd to some of you, but for those of us who received very strong, and generally overemphasized messages about productivity, performance and self sufficiency…taking time to rest and relax hardly even calculates.
So lately, I’ve been trying a new kind of list. One that includes all of those pesky little personal items that, in the past, never garnered enough value to even make it to a list. For instance, instead of creating a daily list of an impossible number of things to be accomplished, ( I know many of you know what I’m talking about) I limit a daily list to 5 or 6 (do-able) items.
If they don’t get completed…oh well…they just get carried over to the next day.
What I have learned to add to my day, my week and my general existence is the “tasks” of rest and relaxation, err I say fun. Instead of working right up until the moment I head for bed, I have learned to end my day several hours before bedtime and allow myself the pleasure of doing something I truly enjoy. Sometimes, I read, sometimes I watch a television show, sometimes I knit, sometimes I go for a walk and sometimes I just take a nice, long, hot bath.
It’s amazing how much better I sleep.
I also have leaned to intentionally schedule days away from work and limit the times I am willing to stretch my calendar to accommodate unexpected additions. I have added the word NO to my vocabulary and routinely set boundaries, and hold said boundaries…even at the expense of someone being upset with me.
In short, I’ve learned to treat my rest and relaxation time as legitimate and healthy aspects of my life that I am not willing to give up without good reason.
Not everyone has been happy with these changes. There are times when I get a few push-backs. But that’s ok. Everyone has their own journey and this just happens to be where I am at…at the moment.
Learning to live a more relationally, emotionally, behaviorally and spiritually balanced and whole life includes establishing a healthy balance of work and rest, togetherness and autonomy and thinking and feeling.
It is rightly aligning our dependency needs with the God of our Understanding and staying relationally connected with our sense of Self and Others. A life lived in harmony is a life that integrates all aspects of “being” including the importance aspects of rest and relaxation.
If you have found yourself feeling less than balanced and want to find out more about living a relationally, emotionally, behaviorally and spiritually balanced life call the counseling center at:
317.760.0604Balanced living…that includes rest and relaxation is possible!
Busy schedules keep us on the move from early in the morning until we fall into bed late at night. Sometimes those busy schedules continue to spin in our heads long after the light has faded and the darkness of the night has filled our bedrooms.
As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I see people on a regular basis who have succumbed to a culturally based pressure to be involved. They arrive at my office in a state of mental, physical and emotional fatigue and frustration. The problem, they report, is a lack of time, a lack of organization, or a lack of ability.
“If only I could get it together” they lament.
They are unhappy, discontent, worried, anxious and sometimes scared. In their disheveled, emotional state they wonder aloud what is wrong with them.
The insinuation seems to be that if only they were more capable, more organized, and better able to multi-task they would be able to manage their crazy schedule and find the contentment and fulfillment they believe their frantic lives should bring them.
They are usually a bit surprised when I disagree with their attempts to self diagnose. In fact, instead of agreeing that they are somehow lacking in their ability to manage the whirling dervish they call their life, I suggest they are suffering from a disorder of internal distress called FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out.
People struggling with FOMO, have a strong internal drive to be involved in everything.
They fear not being in the know.
They fear being left out.
They fear disconnection and isolation and their frenzied efforts to find connection often lead them to lead lives of frenetic “busyness” and chaotic fragmentation.
People caught in the grip of FOMO mistakenly believe they can quill their internal dis-ease through embracing and participating in as many social, community, organizational and business events as they can cram into their schedule. They unwittingly internalize the social norm of busy as a way to find a sense of purpose and value.
More superficial connection, more involvement and more participation, they believe, will lead to internal contentment and fulfillment. People will notice, they surmise, their commitment and dedication. They imagine this adoration will soothe the secret fear that they will never be good enough, find acceptance or relational wholeness.
And so they arrive in my office, tired, disillusioned, frustrated and sometimes down right mad. Mad at themselves, mad at others and often mad at God.
They have mistakenly fallen victim to a philosophy that tells them that internal contentment is found in an external solution.
Recovery from FOMO, however, requires a shift from the external to the internal.
People caught in the grips of FOMO are quite literally looking for love in all the wrong places. In their attempt to feel “a part of” they end up feeling “a part from.”
Instead of finding real connection and relational wholeness they find themselves caught up in a variety of pseudo or pretend relationships that leave them feeling alone, isolated and disconnected.
The treatment for FOMO is REAL.
Real Relationships, Real Emotions, Real Acceptance and Real love…because REAL always feels better than pretend.
People who experience real relationships, express real emotions, experience real acceptance and real love seldom succumb to the Fear of Missing Out.
Because they are involved in real relationships that foster real emotions, provide authentic acceptance and genuine love, they are internally content and satisfied.
They spend less time chasing the external vestiges of fulfillment because they are already internally complete and satisfied.
If you are suffering from the dis-ease of FOMO, don’t spend another day attempting to meet your relational need for connection, acceptance and love through busyness and over-involvement.
Real connection with your sense of Self, with Others and with God as you understand God is possible and available.
For more information on overcoming FOMO, learning to live in REAL relationships and additional counseling services, call Chrysalis Connections Counseling and Family Leadership Center at:
When you are Ready. We will be here!
another one…and entitle it: Acceptance: The Answer to all of my Problems Today.
Without a doubt, the number one issue I see in my office is the person who consistently links their ability to be happy, content, satisfied and peaceful with the behaviors, actions, belief system or convictions of another person.
In other words, they believe that unless they can bring this outside entity, person, place, thing or event into compliance with their needs, wishes or desires…they cannot be complete, happy or at peace.
Their attention is so heavily focused on an Other…that they cannot look inward and see how they are contributing to the problem or find any type of internal contentment. Consequently, these individuals live in a perpetual state of stress, anxiety and internal discontentment because they cannot grasp the reality that life simply does not afford us the ability to control anything outside of ourselves.
In acceptance we find peace because we are able to separate ourselves (our internal sense of self) from that which is outside of us and over which we have no control.
As the Big Book of AA points out “…and acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” ~ page 417 Big Book of AA
With couples, the inability to find acceptance, generally amounts to each partner attending their first therapy session loaded for bear (apologies to those offended by gun analogies).
They arrive in my office with enough animation to drop a large woodland creature in its tracks.
And, over the course of the therapy session, they proceed to unload their arsenal at their partner convinced that if they could just provide a strong enough case for their partner’s bad behavior they will be exonerated.
This is not to say that the partner, spouse, child, parent or unidentified Other is not indeed participating in some kind of deplorable behavior. It simply means that doubling down on that behavior will only galvanize the issues instead of resolving them. Not to mention that fact, that we simply have no power to make another human being do anything.
Helping people shift from an external locus of control to an internal locus of control isn’t always easy or timely.
Because people have, for the most part, been steeped in the cultural belief that lives change from the outside in…they mistakenly believe that alleviating the external pressures, behaviors and manifestations (of others or themselves) will create internal stability and calm.
And apparently, the human tendency to focus on outward appearances has been a problem for thousands of years. For example, when Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees (who were masters at focusing on external behavior) he admonished them to first clean up the inside of the cup…which is where the real dirt is located, before they worried about cleaning up the outside of the cup…or someone else’s cup.
In their zeal to keep the law…they missed the entire point.
“You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean too.”
~ Matthew 23:25-26
They failed to realize that outward behavior is simply a manifestation of an internal issue. You can’t clean up the inside by simply washing the outside. If, however, we flip that process and first take care of the internal issue…the external behavior will, as the internal place becomes more healthy, dissipate.
Oh…and by the way…cup cleaning is a personal project…not a group lead car wash.
When we learn to acknowledge, embrace or align ourselves with the concept of acceptance we realize that we are powerless to control anything outside of ourselves. We focus less on others and focus on those things that are actually within the scope of our control…me, I, and myself.
When I learn to focus on my Self, my actions, my behaviors and my attitudes, and surrender all Other’s to the care of their Creator…I find internal peace, stability and happiness. My internal happiness is no longer linked to external sources. I can live a life of peace, serenity and calm regardless of what other people say or do.
The quickest way to impact a troubled relationship, for the better, is to turn my focus inward and attend to all of the baggage and rubble I brought to the game… and trust that the God of the identified Other, is big enough to address the issues and problems, that lie within them.
As Jesus put it… we must first take the board out of our own eye before we can see clearly enough to take the splinter out of someone else’s (Matthew 7:5).
Helping people move into a place of personal, internal focus and away from an external obsession on the behaviors and beliefs of others is not easy duty. It requires patience, understanding, guidance and honesty.
But when, individuals, partners, spouses and parents begin to grasp the concept of acceptance, powerlessness and personal responsibility…dare I say differentiation, what beautiful transformations become possible.
If you are troubled by the behaviors, actions or beliefs of Others and are ready to explore how internal peace and serenity can be achieved through acceptance, call the counseling center today at:
We are excited about the changes we’ve made over the past year and we can’t wait to share them with you.
As you browse the web site you will notice that we are now a Mobile Friendly web site, which means that when you access us on your smart phone, iPad, tablet or other devices you should find navigating the web site much easier.
Established clients will notice that all of the offices at Chrysalis Connections have been updated and newly furnished with new couches, loveseats, area rugs and contemporary art. Clients will also notice that the coffee bar will now include an expanded variety of coffees, teas, hot chocolate and snacks.
Other changes include an updated online scheduler, addition services including Domestic Mediation, Conflict Resolution, Parenting Coordination, Systemic Consultation, Clinical Supervision, Professional Development, Our New Residency Program and, most importantly of all, the addition of several New Team Members.
As you can see, our new mobile friendly web site is just the beginning. Look for more changes this fall as we continue to add new services and features to the Chrysalis Connections Counseling and Family Leadership Center.
Let us know what you think.
We always welcome your feedback and want to make sure that the service you pick at Chrysalis Connections is delivered in a kind, supportive and collaborative manner.
As always, should you have any questions or concerns or would simply like to talk to one of our team members, please feel free to call the front desk at:
You can also schedule the service of your choice by clicking on the button below:
Schedule OnlineThank you for visiting our new mobile friendly web site!We are glad you are here.Chrysalis Connections Counseling and Family Leadership Center429 East Vermont Street, Suites 208 & 306Indianapolis, IN 46202317.760.0604 admin@ChrysalisConnections.comMonday thru Friday 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.Saturdays 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Free parking available at both of the Academy building parking lots for clients scheduling after 5:00 p.m on weekdays and all day on Saturday.