Friday, June 24, 2011

Playing isn't just for kids....

Remember when you were young and everything was some kind of a game? As adults we tend to focus on work and responsibilities. We feel like we don’t have time to play. It seems to be a waste of time as we face the long list of things that we must do. When we do have a free moment we would rather just rest of zone out in front of the TV.

Working with children, I get to see the value of play everyday. Children work through their challenges with play. They learn social skills and how to navigate the world, all of this while having a great time. We could learn a few lessons from our children.

Play may look different with adults. It may be a hobby, goofing off with friends, or playing sports. These may sound like things we do if we have the time, but they should be things we make time to do. Play for adults has numerous benefits. It relieves stress (and we all know the negative consequences of stress) and connects us with others (it is a great way to keep relationships fresh and exciting). Play is also important to our physical and mental well-being. It may get us to exercise, which in turn will help us feel good, stay in shape, and sleep better. Much like with children play can help us work better with others, improve our social skills, and foster creativity and learning.

So the next time you feel tired and depleted try playing. The benefits are worth it!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Something to think about....

I went to a daylong lecture a few weeks ago which was lead by Kenneth Hardy, PhD. This workshop was fascinating. I could go on for pages about all the interesting points and insights that came up during this workshop, but what but what I really wanted to share was a relatively simple concept that came up over and over again: Validation.

Whether we feel devalued because of our skin color, our preference for the same sex, being born into poverty, or because of our country of origin, it doesn’t matter. As you can imagine feeling as though you don’t have value can lead to various difficulties and challenges in life. It impacts us all, and is a critical component in how we think, feel, and behave. We are all human with our own struggles and we all want to feel heard and more importantly validated. As Dr Hardy shared, the cure for feeling devalued is to be validated.

I wanted to take a few minutes to encourage us all to look at the ways in which we contribute to making other’s feel devalued. We devalue others all the time without thinking about it. When we make fun of someone else’s culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc. When our child has a bad day at school and we reprimand rather than listen. When we pass judgment on someone based on the way they look. When we are having a disagreement and find ourselves fighting to be right without ever trying to really hear and understand where the other person is coming from.

Validation doesn’t mean you condone poor behavior, it just means you understand where it comes from. Validation doesn’t mean you agree with someone. It simply means that you can see where they are coming from and that they have a different belief or experience than you do. My hope is that we all become more aware of how we devalue others, and at times even ourselves. Whether it is that you pass less judgment on a stranger based on their appearance or you validate your child’s thoughts and feelings more today than you did yesterday. Maybe during a heated discussion with your partner you validate their experience and feelings instead of focusing on winning the fight. Maybe we take a few minutes to understand someone’s anger instead of becoming angry ourselves.

In the end, we all have the same need to be heard and feel that we have value.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Which Came First. . .

So this is an obvious departure from some of the themes we have explored together thus far, but a worthy one, nonetheless. Let's talk about sex.

Sexual health is an important part of one's overall wellbeing. It directly correlates with emotional health as well as physical health.

Now don't freak out. This blog isn't about to turn X rated. Rather, I want us to explore together the ideas of sexuality and intimacy in a very curious, honest, and respectful way. I invite your participation and feedback, as always!

The first thought I want to explore with you is "which comes first?" In a romantic partnership, do we start with sexual attraction or do we start with intimacy (aka trust, love, closeness, etc.)? Some camps say that you can't create physical or sexual attraction, that either it's there or it's not, that it's kind of an intuitive thing, and that if it's not present between two people, there is nothing you can do to change that and the relationship is pretty much doomed to failure before it starts. (If that's not a run on sentence, I don't know what is.)

Others say that sexual and physical attraction can be cultivated over time as respect and trust grows between two people. We hear this line of thinking a lot in as it relates to long term, committed relationships like marriage. We often hear how much work it is to keep a long term relationship "alive." Perhaps what is commonly referred to as "work' is the act of creating and cultivating the emotional closeness that naturally lends towards sexual desire and attraction.

Clearly sexual attraction and intimacy don't always go hand in hand. We can certainly have one without the other. But when we have both, as in the case of a romantic relationship, which comes first? Do we start with sexual attraction and cultivate intimacy? Or do we start with intimacy and cultivate sexual attraction? Can both happen? Does this changes based on the stage of the relationship?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The topic of forgiveness came up today in my work with one of my clients. This topic seems to surface alot in my work, and always carries with it a great deal of emotionality.

All of the world's major religions are rampant with messages, some subtle and others more overt, about forgiveness. The Christian religion teaches that we are "sinners," and that we must ask for God in Jesus to forgive us of our sins in order to be "saved" and to go to heaven. Christians pray the Lord's Prayer: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." In the Jewish faith, much time is spent on the Day of Atonement and during Yom Kippur, asking for the forgiveness of those they have wronged and praying for God to forgive them their wrongs. Muslims are taught that their God is "all-forgiving," and spend time daily asking God for forgiveness. Buddhists practice release of suffering and thoughts of wrong-doing through meditation, and focus on the giving of compassion and loving kindness to others. In the Hindu faith, the god Krishna states that forgiveness is "one of the characteristics of one born for a divine state," and contrasts the virture or forgiveness with anger and pride.

For those who identify by their alignment with one of these religions, and for those who do not, it is undeniable that the pressure to forgive is a strong one in our culture. How does that pressure impact you?

Does that pressure make you more or less inclined to forgive?
Is there a part of you that feels guilty when you haven't forgiven, or like you are somehow "bad" because you have not forgiven?
Is there a part of you that resists the mandates to forgive because they feel controlling?
Is there part of you that feels like, if you forgive, you are saying that what someone did to you is okay?
Do you believe that if you forgive someone, you are no longer entitled to feel the effects of their actions?

What messages are you carrying about forgiveness? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

In loving kindness!