Innovation360-Dallas

Marriage Killers: Are You Sabotaging Your Own Marriage?

Throughout the years, my wife and I have counseled many couples who have reported feeling lonely in their marriages, desperate and confused about how to break the vicious cycle of continuing to fight over and over about the same things. Contrary to popular belief on shows like Dr. Phil and various marriage seminars that rob you of your time and money, communication is NOT the key to a healthy marriage. It is a very small piece of a large and messy marriage pie. Unhealthy couples actually communicate very openly (and sometimes loudly) what they want, they just don’t understand how to get to the place they want to be. The following are 5 marriage killers. In other words, five dynamics that we have seen in our practices that spell disaster for all couples. It makes no difference whether or not you are christian or Buddhist, vegetarian or carnivore, republican or democrat. These habits are extremely destructive to relationships. Ask yourself the following questions. And if you are really adventurous, ask the people that know you best how they think you are doing in these areas. I dare you.

1. Are you moving towards your spouse when they ARE NOT around? This is more important than gifts, “love” languages, boundaries, date nights, sweet notes or house work. Ask yourself the following questions: Husbands-where is your heart when your team’s cheerleaders or dancers pop on the screen? Where is your heart when you are alone in front of your computer when no one else is around? Where are your eyes wandering at the gym? Where is your mind as you walk through the magazine section at the store? Wives-do you pollute your minds with images from movies like Magic Mike and books like Fifty Shades of Grey? Do you find yourself dressing in certain ways in certain places to get the attention of men? Are you using conversations with male coworkers or male friends to fulfill some need to feel wanted, pursued and special that you should be looking for from your husband?

All of these subtle instances provide opportunities to move toward your spouse or away from your spouse. Guard your heart and always ask “What need is being fulfilled in this interaction?” or “Is my heart…in this moment…connecting with my spouse’s heart, or is it  disconnecting from my spouse’s heart?” “What are my true intentions?” Emotional affairs, or having your intimate, emotional needs met from others outside of your spouse, don’t happen suddenly overnight. Affairs simmer slowly and they start by allowing your heart to wander when your spouse is not around.

Are you guilty of The Four Horsemen? The Four Horsemen were created by Dr. John Gottman, who can predict with 90% accuracy within 10 minutes whether or not a marriage will end in the next 7 years. The following four high predictors of divorce are common ways in which we unknowingly wound our spouses.

2. Criticism: Unhealthy criticism is communicated by escalating words, or words that escalate the intensity of an argument to a place that is neither productive nor helpful. Escalators include “you,” “always” and “never” phrases like “YOU are so selfish!” “You NEVER take out the trash!” “But you ALWAYS watch the game on Sundays!” Our spouses immediately become defensive when hearing these words. It is a natural response to defend ourselves when we hear these phrases.

Another way we escalate disagreements is by using character assassination. This means attacking the person rather than the action. Instead of saying “I can’t believe you lied to me!” we attack the very core of our spouse’s soul when we say “You are a liar!” Saying “You aren’t acting like yourself. You are acting like a jerk.” is preferable to “You’re a jerk!” Address the action, not the character of your spouse.

3. Contempt: Contempt is any verbal or non verbal action that might communicate that you are utterly annoyed and disgusted by your spouse. Non verbals are just as hurtful as verbals, such as eye rolling, long, heavy sighs, under-the-breath mutterings, head shaking, fist clenching, teeth grinding, and smirking. The scary part is that most of us have no idea that we are doing these things, but our spouses either consciously or unconsciously notice them and internalize that contempt.

Verbal contempt is outright name calling, vicious put downs and, more subtly, making public jabs at your spouse while around others. An example would be, during a cooking conversation with friends, a husband saying, “Cook! Ha! I’ll never see my wife in the kitchen with a pot or pan!” These comments can be said in a joking manner with laughter, but they cut deep.

4. Defensiveness: This is most commonly done by cross complaining. When your spouse expresses a valid complaint against you in a respectful way, saying “You don’t like it when I do that? Well…what about when you do _______!” or “That bothers you! But you do that all the time!” These are attempts at deflecting blame and responsibility.

This also happens by one spouse trying to prove the other spouse wrong or that their feelings are invalid. Rather than defending your actions, sit with your spouse and their feelings. Validate that their feelings feel very real and powerful. There is no need to immediately defend your innocence and clear your name. There are many times when our spouses just need to be heard.

Listen to your spouse and meet them where they are. And then, if you have a problem with something your spouse does, bring it up when it happens, instead of waiting until a disagreement occurs later on to bring out your list of grievances. Defensiveness will discourage your spouse from ever wanting to share their feelings with you and will push you very far apart.

5. Stonewalling: Stonewalling is any way in which you ignore or disengage from your partner when a problem needs to be addressed. In men, we commonly see physical shut down. This means during a disagreement, a husband looking down at the ground with little or no eye contact, not speaking much at all, or simply saying “OK” to everything. Husbands also frequently retreat to another room or say “I can’t talk about this right now.”

In women, we typically see stonewalling manifested by withholding sex when they are upset about something as a punishment. Intentionally withholding intimacy trains husbands to not voice their concerns or feelings for fear they won’t be able to sexually engage. When husbands feel afraid to voice concerns, they feel powerless and commonly turn to pornography, which helps them feel in control and powerful, further distancing them from their wives.

Guilty of any of these? If so, we recommend seeking professional help from a licensed mental health professional to work on new ways of relating to one another and strengthening your marriage.

Written by Doug Chisholm, LPC

Innovation360-Dallas

“Buried Alive: Hoarding gets a New Diagnosis”

Reality TV has brought attention towards the obsessive-compulsive disorder known as hoarding. Often, people find comfort in retaining material possessions…and it takes everything in them to find the strength to throw a belonging away. It’s difficult for them to discard things that the next person wouldn’t think twice about tossing into the trash. Hallways in their home are blocked; every surface is covered. Just like when, with the addict in our family, loved ones often say “why can’t you just stop!?” — when it comes to hoarders, we think “why can’t you just get rid of everything!? Get a big trash can, a dumpster even, and toss it all out!” But when up to 15 million people in the U.S. may struggle with this disorder, we can’t just glance over it.

In the revised, 5th edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that will be published in May, “hoarding disorder” becomes a separate diagnosis, characterized by a “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value” according to this article.  This should lead to more people who struggle with this psychological condition being able to receive appropriate treatment, and possibly medications that would help with this diagnosis.

At Innovation360, we work with families who struggle with hoarding and look forward to a shift in the mindset towards this condition. Just like the alcoholic who struggles with putting the drink down, the hoarder is challenged by their constant desire to save and acquire. They need support, community, and healthy relationships modeled for them, just as those that struggle with depression, anxiety, and substance use issues need that same support and encouragement. Our life development team walks alongside our clients helping them translate insights into behavior and plug back into life in a healthy way, whether that client may struggle with mental health, chemical dependency, emerging adulthood, or compulsive-obsessive behaviors. Change is easier to make when you don’t have to do it alone.

 

Written by Lauren Barnett, Marketing Director

Innovation360-Dallas

Responding to the reality of failure: Part 2

The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well…

– Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee and father of the modern Olympic Games.

I recently had the opportunity to go to London and watch a close friend compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. She was 1 of 10,000 athletes competing. While the honor and most of the media attention is deservedly given to the victors, I could not help but think of the other athletes who left London failing to realize their dream. Only 962 medals were awarded during these games. That means more than 90% of the athletes did not medal. How did this overwhelming majority respond to defeat?

How about the countless others from all over the world who train for years, and some almost their entire lives, yet fail to make their respective countries’ Olympic team? How do they respond to the disappointment?

Here at i360 one of our goals is to help our clients respond to success and failure in a way that leads to vibrant, fulfilling lives. In order to do this, we must each ask ourselves, “How do I respond to failure?” Where do I find the will and determination to move forward in a positive direction?

Here are 6 ideas of how we can face and respond to the reality of failure in our lives in a way that will help us find the fulfillment and joy that we are all seeking:

(For the beginning part of this blog, and the first of the 6 suggestions on how to best respond to failure, please visit our previous blog by clicking here.)

4. Stop “Should-ing” on Yourself When we experience defeat its easy to focus on the negative—what I did wrong, what I should have done differently. The problem with should-ing is that it perpetuates the distorted thoughts about yourself and reality. If you find yourself doing this often, ask yourself, “do I have unrealistic expectations for myself? Do I spend a great deal of time dwelling on what I should have done or what I should be doing? If so, practice identifying the times you do this and replace those distorted thoughts with a more realistic assessment of yourself and the situation, e.g. “Nobody is perfect; it’s ok to make a mistake. I learned something new about myself, and how to improve my performance today. The next opportunity I get, I’ll know exactly what to do.” Take 1 day this week and keep track of your “shoulds.” The more you become aware of it and attack those pesky varmints, the less should-ing you will do.

5. Share Your Dream – Surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who will walk with you through best and worst times, and people who will never give up on you—even when you want to give up on yourself. Prioritize these people in your life. Invest in your relationship with them, and share your journey with them. Then you’ll have a supportive ear to listen after a defeat, or someone to celebrate with after a success.

6. Discover Yourself Daily – What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We are human beings living in a constant state of change. Take time each week to discover something new about yourself.

When top tennis player Novac Djokavic was just 5 years old, tennis coach Jelena Gencic discovered his gift. She knew he would be a star one day. She immediately began coaching and mentoring Djokavic. As part of his training, Gencic insisted he listen to classical music, learn at least 2 foreign languages, and recite poetry. When asked why she did that, Djokavic responded, 
“It was her educational method. And the music served as a form of relaxation after the stress of training. Actually, it still does that today. I like to listen to classical music.”

Even though, Djokavic trained for hours and hours everyday, Gencic required him to discover himself daily. To learn about what he likes, and doesn’t like. What helps calm him down in times of stress, and what doesn’t. This week try listening to a new genre of music and check out a live band. Try that exotic food that you always tell people you hate, but secretly never tried. Try white water rafting, stand up paddle boarding, or a new book. Doing this for yourself will not only be fun, but will also help you find balance in your life.

These are only some ideas. What works for you? We at i360 would love to hear from you about this topic!

Written by Mitch Isle, LPC

Innovation360-Dallas

Responding to the reality of failure: Part 1

“The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well…”

– Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee and father of the modern Olympic Games.

I recently had the opportunity to go to London and watch a close friend compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. She was 1 of 10,000 athletes competing. While the honor and most of the media attention is deservedly given to the victors, I could not help but think of the other athletes who left London failing to realize their dream. Only 962 medals were awarded during these games. That means more than 90% of the athletes did not medal. How did this overwhelming majority respond to defeat?

How about the countless others from all over the world who train for years, and some almost their entire lives, yet fail to make their respective countries’ Olympic team? How do they respond to the disappointment?

Asking these questions led me to think about our lives – the big picture. Let’s face it, as fallible human beings living in a world in which, to a great extent, people, events and things are outside our realm of control, defeat and failure are a part of our reality. Yet, we discover a passion. We set a goal. And then we put all of our effort into striving to reach that goal. Sometimes we are successful, and sometimes we are not.

Here at i360 one of our goals is to help our clients respond to success and failure in a way that leads to vibrant, fulfilling lives. In order to do this, we must each ask ourselves, “How do I respond to failure?” Where do I find the will and determination to move forward in a positive direction?

Here are 6 ideas of how we can face and respond to the reality of failure in our lives in a way that will help us find the fulfillment and joy that we are all seeking:

1. For What it’s Worth – Resilience. It’s the ability to recover readily from adversity. When it comes to responding in a positive way to failure, this is what we need. Would you say you are resilient? Or, do you have a general sense of personal inadequacy, that when triggered by external things, sends you in a downward emotional spiral of depression and worthlessness for extended periods of time? If it is the latter, you may be living as though your self-worth is contingent upon your performance and success, or upon the approval of others. The good news, however, is that it does not have to be that way. The reality is that a person’s worth is not defined by external things or people, but by the inner, core self. That core self is unique, precious and of unconditionalunchanging value. I understand that for some (I’m including myself in this group) this reality is easy to grasp, but very difficult to accept at the core, believe it, and live it out. In this case, I suggest investing some time and resources into your own personal counseling. There are possibly some deep-rooted issues that may be hindering your movement forward in this area of your life. It may be painful to face these hurtful things, but speaking from my own experience in therapy, it will be time, energy, and money well spent, and you will be giving yourself the opportunity to experience a greater sense of self-worth, the resilience to overcome mountains you thought were previously unscalable, and the ability to live a more fulfilling life.

2. Setting Goals – Every goal has smaller steps to achieve in order to get you there. Be intentional. Set short-term, achievable goals for yourself that will help you realize your dream. Achieving these short-term goals along the way will provide encouragement throughout the process.

3. Reframe the Defeat – Ask yourself the question, “How do I view failure? What comes to mind? Do you like your perspective? If not, listen to Michael Jordan’s perspective on failure:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. Never fear failure; fear not trying, fear not giving your best, fear losing focus, but never fear failure. Failure is the path to success. Failure is the sign that you’re headed in the right direction. To succeed twice as fast, fail twice as much. Fail often, fail daily, and soon you will succeed. I’ve never been afraid to fail.”

When you fail, you learn. And when you learn, you grow and mature. So try something different today. Begin to practice taking risks. Of course this does not mean throw caution to the wind and be reckless with your safety or the safety of others. But, instead “try on” Jordan’s perspective. Take ownership of it, and have some fun. When you believe there is a benefit to failing, it makes taking risks easier. And the more you risk, the easier it is to get back up after a defeat.

Click here for the rest of the ideas in a blog entitled PART TWO.

Written by Mitch Isle, LPC

Innovation360-Dallas

The 5 Best Ways to Help Hurting People

Just remember, your words matter much less than your presence. The following are 5 ways to be present with hurting people. Follow them, and you have a great chance at connecting with others and making them feel loved and valued.

1. Say nothing at all. Sitting in silence with someone is incredibly hard. When we see others in pain, it reminds us of our own pain. And when we are reminded of our own pain, we want to get rid of that pain. At this point, we have two options. First, we can throw out a couple of one liners like “God has a plan…” or “Everything will be OK!” Saying “comforting” things like this to hurting people kills two birds with one stone. Not only does it shut your loved ones down and stops them from sharing, but it also stops you from having to face your own brokenness. These prescriptive comments scream, “Hey! You shouldn’t be feeling the way you do right now…or at least not for very long, because everything will be all right eventually and God is doing something you don’t know about!” Both might be true, but not necessarily helpful in the moment.

Another option is to remain silent. By doing so you send the message, “I am here with you and love you enough to absorb your pain and mine at the same time…” And make no mistake…as you silently sit across from someone who is weeping out every last tear in their body in agony, you are absorbing an excruciatingly large amount of pain. You may feel an intense desire to encourage, protect, rescue or to pull them out of the pit they are in. But do something different this time. Climb down into that pit with them and lay down for a while. Get your clothes dirty. Be present. Be silent.

2. Use physical touch. Making physical contact can be extremely powerful, especially with our hurting children. Many times our children experience horrific ridicule and pressure at school. They may act like they don’t want to be loved on and hugged, but deep down…they really do. Hugging, patting, or rubbing an arm sends the message that your child is lovable, acceptable and worthy.

Attention dads with daughters: please know that your little girls desperately want to feel beautiful. They are bombarded by magazines, TV shows and movies that create an illusion of beauty that they will never be able to live up to. If you don’t make them feel beautiful, they will eventually find someone who does.

They will long for male attention and acquire it in any way they can-through seductive dressing, inappropriate pictures on Facebook, or flirtatious behavior at school. And that kind of attention is never good attention. Communicate verbally and through appropriate physical touch that your daughter is a princess and deserves to be treated that way…

3. Get curious. After being present with someone, ask what they might uniquely need from you. Ask for input on how you can help. Often, hurting people won’t know in the moment what they need from you or perhaps won’t want to burden you. Be persistent and keep asking. Be ready to help in any way you can.

4. Be confused. My patients have repeatedly told me that what has been most helpful in our therapy has not been some amazing bit of wisdom or advice that I have shared, but rather the comfort that comes from knowing that I am confused, alone and broken with them. I have cried with some and I have expressed frustration at our confusion with others. When you are confused with someone, they can actually feel less alone. It can be maddening to feel like you are the only one who doesn’t have things figured out. Sometimes it may seem like everyone around you has life figured out except you. Love your hurting friends by being confused with your hurting friends.

5. Random acts of compassion. The movie “50/50” chronicles the journey of a young man named Adam who suddenly discovers he has terminal cancer and will die soon. His goofy and sometimes clueless best friend attempts to walk through the painful treatment process with him. Sadly, just about everyone near Adam leaves him. Near the end, as the cancer begins to take over his body, he becomes painfully convinced his best friend has been using him and cares nothing for him. He makes a surprise visit to his best friend’s apartment to cut ties. Before doing so, he visits his friend’s bathroom and makes a surprising discovery. Adam notices a book that has been read through multiple times, highlighted and worn out. With tears welling in his eyes, Adam notices that the book was about how to care for and love your friends who have been diagnosed with cancer. Adam had been unaware that his best friend had been spending countless hours thinking about Adam and diligently studying how to care for him in the only way he knew how. As the two embraced, it meant the world to Adam to know that his friend had silently suffered with him and invested large amounts of time and care in him.

It’s easy to send a text or an email. It is much more meaningful to put time and effort into a heartfelt gesture. Get creative. Write a poem or a letter. Make a homemade gift or do something that actually takes time to do. Plan a day for you and your loved one. And sometimes…the best gift you can give is the one they never see…

There are no magical phrases that we can say to alleviate others’ pain. But we can be present with them and be broken with them. And being broken with loved ones in pain is the most important part of the healing process.

Written By: Doug Chisholm, LPC

Innovation360-Dallas

Rest vs. Unhealthy Escape

Despite the vast uniqueness of every human being, there are many universal truths about mankind that I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand through my profession as a counselor. One example: people of all backgrounds, genders, and ages seem to share a set of emotional needs such as acceptance, affection, and security. Another example: there are age-old adages that, while prescribed with the best of intentions, our experiences teach us are completely bogus. Oh no, mom and dad, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can hurt the mess out of me.”

Recently, a recurring theme is popping up in more and more of my sessions and, in full- disclosure, in my own life. It is a universal truth that we all recognize at different times. For some of us, this truth is observed when we commit to a life of sobriety. For others, it is acknowledged when they step into the heart of their college career and have six ridiculously specific classes that each sound more difficult than the one before (any other survivors of “Normative Ethical Subjectivism” out there?). For myself, this truth wasn’t known until I began a career of extreme emotional demand. Regardless of when it happens, we each reach a point when we tangibly realize that we need to learn how to rest well.

True rest looks different for every person. The more clients I see and the more I learn to care for myself well, the more aware I become of the stark difference between rest and “unhealthy escape.” Rest empowers us. It enables us to regain our energy, our strength, our confidence, and even our sanity so that we may approach the responsibilities of tomorrow with our full potential. In contrast, “unhealthy escape” provides us with an immediate gratification that, while for a time may bring us happiness, control, or numbness, ultimately brings us to tomorrow feeling less prepared, less capable, and less hopeful.

For some, true rest is found in the company of others. For others, it is found in restorative solitude. For some, it involves physical activity. For others, it involves being still. If you find yourself feeling like you are merely “surviving” life, like the things you used to find joy in seem burdensome, like your soul never truly “catches its breath”, a healthy dose of rest may, at the very least, be a partial remedy.

Much of finding your healthy rest comes in the form of trial and error. As you look back on your times of leisure, ask yourself some questions like the following:

• Did I walk away from that environment feeling recharged?

• Did that activity leave me feeling empowered or ashamed?

• Did my interaction with that group of people leave me feeling alive or depleted?

• Do I feel more or less prepared to take on tomorrow?

We need rest. We may feel superhuman, but we need rest to thrive. Give yourself the permission to take time out of the craziness of life and explore what true rest looks like for you. Taking time to rest can actually be one of the most productive things you do all day.

Innovation360-Dallas

Giving up or Letting Go?

A hurting mother recently said to me, “I have no hope that my son will ever stop doing drugs.  I feel so defeated and tired of this fight.  I give up.”  When I saw the mom a couple of months later, she looked brighter and seemed less burdened.  She told me that she and her husband had started going to Families Anonymous where they met other parents dealing with the same issues with their children.  She told me that she had learned the difference between giving up and letting go.

Surrendering and letting go are very common concepts in the field of addiction and mental health.  Time and time again, addicts and alcoholics tell their story of me finally surrendering and fighting to control their disease, when true miracles occurred in their lives; some instantly and others over time.

I have been asked by clients to help them understand the difference.  I decided to turn to some experts, my Wednesday Women’s Group, to get their feedback the amazing women in this group are recovering from addiction/alcoholism.  Some struggle with other underlying emotional issues such as depression and anxiety.  They have varying degrees of sobriety.  Some have been struggling for this disease for 20 years.  Most are mothers with children ages 2 weeks to 40 years of age.  Here are some of their comments:

“Giving up is darkness, Letting go is light.”

“Letting go /surrendering involves a connection to God.  Giving up doesn’t.”

“Giving up is your will.  Surrender/letting go is God’s will.”

“Letting go involves being okay with the result.”

“There is hope in letting go.  Giving up implies hopelessness.”

“It is releasing as opposed to dropping something of someone”.

“I had to give up before I could let go.  I think I had to walk through the darkness of giving up to get to the light of letting go.  You should not stop in the dark.”

And from The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie:

“Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t care. Letting go doesn’t mean we shut down. Letting go means we stop trying to force outcomes and make people behave. It means we give up resistance to the way things are, for the moment. It means we stop trying to do the impossible–controlling that which we cannot–and instead, focus on what is possible–which usually means taking care of ourselves. And we do this in gentleness, kindness, and love, as much as possible.”

For more information on our Women’s Support Group, contact Pam Newton at 214-284-4080 or newton@i360life.com.

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Why Your Relationships are Shallow

Through my work in individual and marital therapy, I frequently hear many similar complaints from different patients. These complaints include feeling lonely, unexpected bursts of anger, bouts of unexplained sadness, and a general feeling of disconnect. These bothersome feelings puzzle my patients and often leave them drained and frustrated. Sometimes, they understand that their lives are out of balance, but don’t understand exactly how or why. Normally, one or more of the following four idols are present and help cause a relational disorientation or blurriness. These idols cause a shallowness in life. While you might believe that you maintain deep, healthy relationships, I challenge you to read on and reevaluate the way you have structured your life. Have the following idols limited your capacity to truly know others and be known by others?

1. Social Media. NEWS FLASH: 99% of your Facebook and Twitter friends…aren’t really your friends. And don’t believe for a second that Facebook actually helps grow those so called friendships. Looking at someone’s Facebook timeline is like watching a highlight reel of their life. The bad parts are omitted and the good parts are amplified. When’s the last time you saw a status that read, “Acted like a selfish jerk today. Ignored the kids and yelled violently at our family dog. LOL.”

Healthy, face to face interaction with others fulfills a deep need in us-the need to be known and know others. This is doing life with others. By failing to do life with others and allowing them to see all your insecurities and fears, you deprive yourself of something life giving…something deep and sacred. Your highlight reels may entertain and amuse others, but your blooper reels connect and bond you to others.

2. Work. There is nothing more heart wrenching than seeing a man retire, reflect back on his life, and realize that rather than love, support and strengthen those around him, he spent his life slaving away at a career that left him alone to die by himself. His sons and daughters resent him and only visit him sparingly. I’ve seen the dread in men’s eyes as they realize there are few people on the face of the planet who would care if they were rotting in a casket or not. Amassing wealth and power provide many with identity and security, but eventually leave them broken, alone, and hurting.

No one tries to end up this way. It begins by working hard to support a family. Eventually, it turns into disengaging at home by the faint glow of an ipad, ignoring a family that was once treasured. Later nights at the office and working on the weekends follow. It ends by waking up one day and realizing that the career you put so many hours into stole something from you that you can never get back. With terror, you realize the love and companionship you now want most is gone…wasted away…never to return…

3. Your spouse. There are 2 prevailing themes in every romantic Hollywood movie: 1) Love is a feeling. 2) Loving someone will somehow magically and drastically transform your life, your loneliness, and your brokenness. Both are blatant “Bachelor-esque” lies and both create heavy, illusory expectations that couples are crushed by. Just look at our US divorce rate.

Love is a choice…a decision we choose to make day in and day out. It has little to do with a passionate, dramatic kiss in the pouring rain or a magical moment where two soul mates lock eyes and “fall” in love. Finding meaning and contentment has nothing to do with your spouse. That aching need to feel fully accepted and loved will never be filled by your partner. And, the harder you try to place your partner in that role, the more they will resent you and be crushed by the weight of being your “everything.” Jerry Maguire was wrong. You don’t complete me….

4. Your children. While you may never say your child is your god, your actions scream it out loud. When your date nights stop and your weekends are jam packed with sports, recitals, and performances…you send the message to your kids, “You are more important than your mom or dad, and I would rather keep you entertained than develop my own friendships or marriage.”

You do your children a massive disservice by leading them to believe that they are the center of the universe…because no one else outside of your family thinks they are! Children who think they are the center of your world will have trouble forming friendships, yielding to authority, holding a job, and even adapting to marriage. Your children will unsuccessfully spend their entire lives searching for people who think they are as incredibly amazing as you told them they were. They may turn to unhealthy, codependent relationships or live unsatisfied lives full of continual disappointment from never being loved the way they “deserve” to be loved.

Not only does this parenting style alienate your children, but it alienates your spouse. A daughter once asked her wise father, “Daddy, if you were in a raft and me and mommy were drowning, who would you save?” The wise father instantly replied, “Honey, not only would I swim and save your mother first, but I would make sure she was completely dry and comfy before I came back for you.”

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What are the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle?

Having a healthily lifestyle can be a challenge – busy work schedules, large quantitates of processed foods, and little margin in our lives for “down time”.  Making matters worse, we hold onto the myth that our physical health is unrelated to our emotional health.  Our physical health does impact our emotional health and our emotional health impacts our physical health (think about professional athletes that have struggled and why they pay for sports psychologists to help them improve that area of their life).

Research shows that people who exercise are happiersleep better, have better marriages, and have lower rates of taking antidepressants. Data says that exercising is just as beneficial to our mental health condition as it is to the outside physical body. Most people exercise to look good, or lose weight. It does much more than that. This is why its important to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

We try to “practice what we preach” and recently visited Austin and participated in the Gorilla Run. Not only was it a great activity, it was for a wonderful cause as well. Providing meaning and purpose to our lives while supporting the silverback gorillas. No matter what your calling or purpose is, its good to explore different avenues of staying healthy.