As a relationship blogger I’ve come to realize the masses of material around me. I sit in a coffee shop that I frequent to get a bite to eat before work and most of what I overhear from the wait staff has to do with relationships. One was a blossoming romance that included a child from a previous marriage, and yet another was about who would take the kids for the weekend. I had an unfortunate heavy heart that most of the chatter included breakdowns and break-ups. It included devastation and divorce. I wondered how we could all get back to a place where relationships and partnerships provided us with the sense of support and strength they were meant for. Where we grew together and genuinely appreciated one another, even if we get pissed off from time to time.
Not to offend, but it’s my personal opinion that no one is in the mood to work really hard for anything anymore. When I sit and read about dating and relationships it appears apparent why we have shifted into a culture of divorce rather than long unions. Article after article on what you are doing wrong with your new relationship and tips or “how-tos” on anything from keeping him guessing to 12 ways to have a happy marriage. But is it really that simple? And if it were that simple why are we in an epic fail? We learn Why Men Love Bitches or how to Get Married This Year, 365 Days to I Do or how to Get the Guy, but we forget that this mainstream culture of self-help and fast fixes just sheds light on the problem. These are just outlines to a very long syllabus. Relationships take work, dedication, and lots of commitment through the years.
I am not suggesting that every divorce should be stopped. There are several reasons divorce takes place and the hurt and pain can not be overcome. Sadness or unhappiness can sometimes be a reason to split. However, all I am suggesting is that when you take the vow to commit to someone for the rest of your life, that you remember just how much work, patience, perseverance, work, humor, work, respect, and did I mention- work, that it is going to take. Get angry with me, get really angry with me and explain yourself to death about why your divorce was reasonable. Many times over I am going to disagree with you. You get to choose who you marry. That’s right, it’s a choice. You get to choose who you will be able to run the business of marriage with for the rest of your life.
The percentage of divorce gets higher with the number of divorces you have. So you have a 40-50 percent chance of getting divorced the first time and a 70 percent chance of divorcing again. The common denominator of that statistic is you.
I first heard of conscious uncoupling when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow announced their split, as I am sure, most of us did. Thank goodness the Wall Street Journal took the time to write an article on what was meant by conscious uncoupling. According to the article the term could, “be new language that could frame the end of a marriage or relationship in my positive light.” I was happy to hear that definition because basically what we are saying is that we are going to put a pretty frame on a shitty picture. Break-ups and divorces suck. Make no mistake about it that they leave people jaded and discouraged. Society has become a mecca of pretty frames on all sorts of false pictures (Facebook facades). Now we sit in a society that is ready to approach the hurtful parts of life by being consciously fanciful and politically incorrect. Distorting the truth doesn’t make it any easier. Conscious uncoupling is a sham.
Isn’t dating suppose to be a way for us to test the efficacy of marriage? But if we are a break-up culture, is the desired effect to separate or to sustain the marriage? And we are a break up culture. A culture that wants more, faster and easier. What it took for our grandparents and parents to sustain a marriage, we are just not interested in putting in that kind of effort. A recent article in Shape magazine discussed that treating your relationship like your job could have positive effects on the happiness and teamwork in your relationship. The article simply suggests that if we put in as much effort for our relationships as we do in our jobs, we would be in a better position with a better attitude. I mean when was the last time you neglected your job or just walked in late? You make an attentive effort to be on time, to dress accordingly, to follow the employee handbook. Maybe you can establish a relationship handbook and overcome the complacency and inflexibility you seem to have in regards to your relationship. Sorry Gwen, but remarking on your divorce as conscious uncoupling is bullshit. Talk is cheap. Cheesy wording is even cheaper.
We all remember the year that Britney Spears made the video Hit Me Baby One More Time. We remember because she went from being an innocent singer to a provocative pop princess. She emerged from her young years on The Mickey Mouse Club. It shook our view of young women singers. We remember her because she showed … her midriff and society went crazy for it. Whether it was backlash from angry parents or cheers from supportive fans, there was reaction. And I don’t blame her. It put her on the map. She was popular with the younger crowd and encompassed a genre of fun and fearless; much like Madonna transformed tunes in the 80’s with her breast cones and seductive song and dance.
As Britney grew up she needed to obtain a new crowd’s popularity to keep herself on the map, she had to up the ante. I thought she did it considerably well. Now less is always more, but the marketing was strategic to shift from innocent to dangerous. And you know what, it worked.
Welcome 2014, and Miss Miley Cyrus. Now it’s not her problem that to get the same societal attention that Britney did she had to keep with the times. Midriffs were a thing of the past and in came twerking. She was aging out of Hannah Montana so her choices became leaving stardom and collecting from the Hannah monument or to continue a career. In a society that is saturating itself with bigger, better, stronger, faster…. we are eating ourselves.
Even in the days when Britney and Christina Aguilera were pop queens their lyrics still brought in sexual expression subtly and power to women’s voices in creative ways. Christina was a Genie in a Bottle and you had to rub her the right way. Take it the way you like, but wanting one last chance (hit me baby) and genies in bottles discretely sang messages. Lyrics about popping molly and Lady Gaga‘s Do What You Want with my body scream messages that make me wonder: have we lost (pardon me) our fucking minds. We are spoiling America. We are doing a very specific job of spoiling the women in America. Justin Timberlake emerged from the same early TV show as Britney and Christina. His popularity began in the boy band NSync and still continues today, but when was the last time he had to show his midriff let alone twerk to get our attention? Let me answer that for you, never.
So where did this all come from? I rented the movie Don Jon last evening. I got more than I bargained for but I don’t offend easily. So my intrigue had me watch it. I believe Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s intention when he created the film was to explore sex and porn addiction. 40 days and 40 nights explored the same kind of addiction (although it did it subtly). He created a story line that breaks the main characters porn/sex addiction by reminding him that overindulgence is bad and pornography is not real sex anymore. The character had a better connection with porn then he did having sex with his girlfriend. Step in Julianne Moore‘s character who is an older woman with a sense of humor stemmed from a sad situation. (The movie was all over the place but that is besides the point.) She sets the tone for the change. Which brings up my next point: The problem with pornography. The same thing that happen when shifting from midriff to twerking took place in the porn industry. Missionary sex began with mixing it up with a new position or two. It was scandalous for the mail man to come over to a single woman’s house, enter the house, then enter the woman. Then …. literally all hell breaks loose. In comes the threesome. Because when did having sex with one person at a time not sexually satisfy us? I will tell you why. We live in a fantasy world of expectations that literally don’t exist and they are brought to you by: the media. But we all buy into them because we are an overindulged, unsatisfied, spoiled society. Woman may feel the need to submit to the ridiculous standards.
In a society that is saturating itself with bigger, better, stronger, faster…. we are eating ourselves. I just hope it saturates itself at some point. How are we going to teach our children to be conscious in a society that is so unconscious?
As I approach 30, I can’t help but feel more and more happiness. I am so excited about getting older that when people ask me how old I am, I keep telling them, “I am going to be 30.” (I even realized the other day that I find a way to work in the age conversation just so I can tell people).
So, I thought I would share some of my recent thoughts on this time in my life. Your 20’s are for being clumsy. I call it the 20’s learning curve. But cheers to my cohorts who are leaving that learning curve for what our parents, teachers, relatives, and elders always wanted to train us for…… Life.
What You Just Can’t Know Until Your 30’s:
you should …love then adore
moderate don’t binge
don’t get fixated on the newest fad (feng shui zumba hot (I mean super hot) backwards upside-down yoga)
fall for someone then enjoy security
fight but stay
date then marry
gossip but only in compliments
stop complaining and love: your body, your mind, your spirit, and yourself
listen then talk: no seriously, just listen for a long number of minutes, think, then talk
learn then live
hurt but don’t blame
when the grass looks greener on the other side, just stop looking at the other side
enjoy freedom, but not until you establish discipline
lose and let go
In a world filled with private options, why are we so public? Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea that I can easily see what a good friend is up to miles away in another state. I get to see parts of family members’ lives on a regular basis, and I can keep in touch with old friends. It’s a great way to get behind a cause or to promote a business. I am an advocate for discussing when people have an illness and getting large amounts of support by simply updating a page. So, please do not misunderstand my agenda. But haven’t we gotten a little carried away with Facebook Status Updates?
Our relationships are so public. Why do we feel the need to <3 on our partner’s wall if we can do so in a private message with one extra click or if we can send it over a text? Are we marking our territory by making it public? These are just questions I want you to consider the next time you reach for the smart phone, or laptop. Why are we telling the world what we had for dinner? Let’s start to evaluate in our own lives why we can’t tell a friend something privately and why we have to post it on a wall for their 983 friends to also have an opportunity to see. I tell people all the time that I can not image being in high school now and having a break up. What used to take place in a letter or by a locker in a hallway with 20 people has now moved to a public venue of discussion for the whole school. I can not have imagined what it would have been like to have a break up in high school via Facebook news feed and relationship updates. That is what it is for our kids today.
We have become too dependent on public information. But who is to blame? We make what we choose to make public.
What I learned on my Facebook home page today was: what someone ate for dinner, what someone wanted to cook for dinner, who recently played candy crush, and just how adorable your kid is.
If you look on your personal page and you see that it is common for you to post numerous times a day about how you feel, who you love, what you eat, or what you are doing, I challenge you to stop. Just try a little more privacy. Evaluate why you have to keep everyone posted about what is going on with you. A recent book I read called “Being Peace” said this about our time. “We have millions of ways to lose precious time, we turn on the tv, pick up the phone and start the car and go somewhere. We are not used to being with ourselves, and we act as if we don’t like ourselves and are trying to escape ourselves.” So maybe your constant need to status is just telling everyone that you have difficulty spending time alone.
As you begin the journey of not posting every day, you will understand why I am challenging you to stop. In the moments when you are trying to enjoy a cup a coffee and read, or play with your kid, or hang out with friends at a new restaurant, you will feel it. You will get the urge to tag friends, update where you are and what you are doing, or to take a picture of your coffee mug and say, “Just enjoying coffee and reading.” Honestly, that is great, whatever you are doing is wonderful. So try to just do that one thing and not status update about it. The first few times your initial reaction while doing one of these things will be “Oh, I need to post this.” Why? Why are we so impulsive to post? We are so busy reaching for the phone that we forget to enjoy the moment. This short video shows us just that:
Lenders for homes recently discussed how they might use Facebook pages to get a history of who you are and what you are doing. They can look back and see if you have posted about switching jobs and even make judgements on loans by the number of friends you have. How can this be? When you are searching for a job, employers scope out your page, and it has become a way for people to judge who you are by what you post. But the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree. It is likely that we can tell who someone is by their page. Do they cuss and have vulgar postings? or do they value what they say in public? Are their pictures filled with keg stands and party scenes? Or are their pictures filled with close friends and family?
So once again I ask you to consider: In a world filled with private options, why are we so public?
My morning began with reading “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. Then it brought me, here, to Starbucks where I pulled Daniel Amen’s “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” from the shelf of the accompanying Barnes and Nobel store. I was reading to prepare for a blog about positive psychology and how to overcome melancholy when the strangest thing happen.
A girl, no older than nine, stood in front of me in the Starbucks line with two other girls about the same age. I figured an adult was having the girls stand in line while running to the bathroom or such, but no adult ever showed. We stood in line for about five minutes as I watched the girls pick up three reusable cups from a basket that was market: “limited time $1″. The little blond girl set her reusable cup up on the counter as she ordered: “Grande Carmel Frappuccino”. The Starbucks barista asked a name and she kindly obliged and said “Bridgette- B-R-I-D-G-E-T-T-E.” Bridgette then pulled out a Starbucks gift card from her Hello Kitty clutch to finalize the translation.
All of this got me thinking. Not about dietary restrictions and how kiddos should not have that much caffeine or sugar in one drink (hey you have to watch them later, I don’t), but about life’s innocence and what we teach our kids. In a world where Bridgette probably knows more about my IPad than I do, I shouldn’t be surprised. But where does the line get drawn? At what point in childhood should we actually teach our children to adopt adult tendencies?
We are constant to quickly age our children and I am not against the learning that takes place. However, when you teach a kid to manage money you offer them an opportunity to take on anxieties or moods that come along with that. To be honest, as I watched Bridgette interact with her peers it was clear that she possibly adopted some negative tendencies from adults. She watched as her peer tried to put on the lid and spilled, but instead of offering assistance Bridgette said, “you are so bad at that,” while giggling and waiting for her Grande Carmel Frappuccino. It’s not Bridgette’s fault in a world that honors criticism rather than encouragement. Maybe if adults became more emotionally intelligent we could teach our future generations to lend a hand instead of laugh. I can’t help but be slightly melancholy about the current state of affairs making our children grow up faster than they need to.
In the years to come I might see a 20-year-old Bridgette selling stocks from her smart phone while in that same line, but her emotional intelligence will be in the same place. Her smiles will be curbed by her need to act impulsively and her situational intelligence to order Starbucks will not help her increase her self-control in a world that comes more and more self-absorbed. If I use my IPad to sync my IPhone to my ICloud, I will still live in a world full of I’s. Don’t let Starbucks eat your child. Expand the world for your kids, and do it intentionally, no one else will for you.
The use of technology has become an unavoidable task. We are required to utilize emails for work and blackboards as students; as workers we actively use the internet, programs, and devices for tracking. Socially we can’t get enough of Facebook, Twitter, or other social sites. Texting has become the new phone call. Landlines have come to be a thing of the very distant past. What was once private chatter has now become an appropriate status update.
If we look into how technology developed throughout the years, we can see that the gap of time gets smaller as we shoot into the future.
Television took nearly 84 years to develop into flat screens and HD. Cell phones took about 65 years to become smart phones and have the internet in our fingers. The internet was commercialized in 1995. That is 17 years for the process to become extremely socialized. The history of technology, as we can see, has a way of taking much less time to develop. Human development has not increased, sure our lives are longer, but not any more productive. We actively take longer to head towards adulthood than it took our parents. Some of the very basic social patterns have led humans farther away from development. We know that human development can be prolonged by things such as bad economic conditions. However, what else is adding to these developmental stages taking longer to complete now than they did in the past? Could technology be another catalyst?
In Erickson’s stages of development each stage has a conflict. Erickson was very aware that the cultural and social ideals were going to influence these stages. The stage of identity verses role confusion is when social relationships are beginning to take shape. We are no longer constructed inside of our family, but have a significant influence from the social relationships that we become a part of. We are impacted by the social technology and internet friends that we decide to interact with. We are becoming more and more isolated through technology. So maybe the stage in which we develop through peer social relationships and bring that into early adulthood is melting? Maybe we are socially lacking, and therefore professionally and productively lacking?
What lacks significantly in the technology driven society is listening. The act of listening summons the kind of critical thinking that has brought about some of the great movements and ideas of time. Active listening would require you to put technology down and to engage with another human being. I dare you to try it. I just told my little sister the other day, that I believe for a good 5-8 years I was more concerned with what I would say next than actively listening to anyone. As a therapist, we are taught to listen. Maybe we all need to go back to school of listening and social etiquette . I fear technology is making us anxious and isolated, causing all kinds of our relationships to fail.
1. Exercise. I learned from an intelligent man named Bill Ohanlon that exercise is the best way to increase brain power. That’s right! Physical exercise produces more brain cells and allows the brain to work better. (I secretly want to punch people who are like “I love exercising”, so I totally understand if this seems daunting. I promise it’s a routine that when kept up makes you feel better consistently).
2. Leave Regrets Behind. “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you have trouble leaving things behind get a “regret bank”. Similar to a piggy bank (I use a jar). Write items you have trouble forgetting at the end of the day on a sheet of paper and place in the jar. Sometimes actions help us manipulate the brain to assist in letting something go.
3. Leave Your Smart Phone Behind. I see more of my peers looking down and typing rather than engaging in a public place with another human being. Look at yourself right now, where are you reading this? Put down the cell, walk over to another human being, say hello, share a smile, or simply engage in a few sentences that help pass the time with less isolation. (Being from the Midwest I sometimes say Hi to fellow humans here in Southern Cal and might get shot down. Take the risk. Every dog has his day.. or was that a cat…either way….step out on a limb like the monkey you are.)
4. Stop typing LMAO and do it already. How many times when you type LMAO are you actually doing it? Probably very few. I recall some of the hardest laughs I have had are in the company of other people. They never happen behind a screen. It is possible to make someone yawn if you do it. it is the same with smiling and laughter.
5. Eat Well. First came Atkins, then came paleo. All the while we still had so many other diet fads to keep up with. Overall they mostly say the same thing. Whole wheats, veggies, fruits, and lean protein. Don’t eat sugar, avoid too much dairy, and limit caffeine and alcohol. (consult your physician, I am a mere layman). Moderation and Diversity is my motto. If you don’t vary up what you eat, you are bound to get bored. Plan ahead to make staying on track super easy and to curb the cravings.
6. Love Politely. ” Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with other people who are reckless with yours.” Mary Schmich. The world of psychology has been shifting into the realm of solutions not excuses and positive not negative. The world of life is far better undergone and honored through kindness and love.
7. Contribute Something, Even if it Only Touches One Heart. “Everyone wants to be somebody fancy,” Donald Miller wrote that in Blue Like Jazz. Stop playing candy crush and spinning in that staples office chair. Contribute something, even if that something only touches one person. If you are not sure what it is, write down five things you have always wanted to do in your life. It is through our dreams that contribution comes naturally.
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
Mohandas K. Gandhi
Gandhi was a wise man. This article will focus on the words portion of that quote. Using more hopeful language can help you become positive in many aspects of your life. The power of language and the thoughts behind them influence our feelings and actions. They are influenced through subconscious and conscious means. Understanding why is much less important to me than showing you how new words can change those feelings and actions.
What if I told you that eliminating negative feelings you have about yourself is as easy as changing the way you talk? Reorienting your language can help change your life. Think about the different Facebook status that you come across. Some of the negative status that you read over and over again are by the same people. Their cynical and negative nature comes across in most aspects of their lives. As you read this, you may even decide you are that person. There is no judgement here, but just take note that the people who try to be positive (not overly) and tempered have an overall better outlook on life, that stems from their words, into their thoughts, out in their actions, and across in their Facebook status. They might not be skinnier, smarter, or better. It may just be that the language they use creates groundwork for a more positive outcome; you have to be willing to change your words.
Enlist this new set of standards in your language:
1. Say Goodbye to Can’t, Don’t, and Never
2. Be cautious with Always and All (extreme words make us feel worse and defeated)
3. Use Self-Affirmations (I am good the way I am, I am happy to be me, I can be successful)
4. Eliminate self-judgement (don’t analyze yourself in the mirror)
5. Take non-judgmental stances (the more we critics others, the harder it is to have positive words)
There are a lot of people in my profession and laymen alike that believe looking into the past will not help one to make changes in their future. I should know, I used to be one of them. I was jaded by Freud’s Oedipus complex and a didn’t see that looking into the past didn’t have to be so controversial. It’s about looking into our past to gain insight, not to point blame. It took me years to finally understand that.
When it came to looking at my past I had three reactions; defensive, blaming, then understanding. As a teen when I began therapy my defenses and my ideas about life were often (in my own mind) very precedent and very correct. My world was all or nothing as a teen. My poor mother must have heard, “you have no idea what it’s like” millions of times raising three teen girls all at once. We can now begin to rationalize that she walked in those shoes too. For most of us, no “life lesson” from an adult sits well until we reach the age of 30 and begin to see the world a little more grey. I spent the middle part of my 20’s blaming everyone around me for the outcomes in my life. Then the last couple of years happen and as a therapist in training I began to see that understanding our past is worth the observation; to make connections, then to learn how to change into better selves for our future.
I simply ask you to take a peak at your past and get a baseline of understanding for how it feeds the present. What we learn as children is ingrained in us and we must not blame our parents or caretakers for that. Nelson Mandela said this in his book “Long Walk to Freedom:”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
We can be taught things, but if we need to be “untaught” them later, it is possible. This rings very similar to a book worth mentioning that helped me anticipate options for this article called, “Addicted to Unhappiness.” It discusses the importance of knowing the experiences of your past to see how they influence you today. Without having knowledge of your past, you may not be digging deep enough to the root of your self. Your patterns and behaviors are a result of what you learned as a young child. When you know more about your past through understanding and leave blame behind, you can maintain higher results for resolution in the future.
Pregnancy can be a joy that many people want to experience in life. We family plan and purchase books such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting. We share the moments with our close friends and family when we first see a plus sign on the pregnancy test. However, we are also a society that is more likely to share in the joys than to discuss the complications that pregnancy can have in the first trimester. So what can we expect when we miscarry?
There is a statistic that 30 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. I don’t tell you this to scare you or make you worry. This is shared to let you know that you are not alone if you have experienced a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. There is a misconception that a miscarriage is just the expelling of an unhealthy pregnancy. Although that may hold true for a biological/medical standpoint, that does not make the process of a miscarriage any easier.
Sometimes our bodies tell us things and our heart doesn’t agree. Having a miscarriage can bring many types of grief.
- Personal grief (emotional and physical)
- Relational grief (stress in our marriage or relationship)
- Social grief (anger or confusion directed towards women/families who have conceived)
- Unknown grief (not knowing what to do next in our lives)
A miscarriage is a loss. It is just as much a loss as loosing a loved one. The person experiencing the miscarriage can not be pushed to “get over it.” There is a process that grief takes and needs; it looks different for everyone. No one can know your personal grief, but be assured that it is a process for everyone. Trust in your faith or spirituality and do what feels right to you.
When you have a miscarriage you lose not only an unborn child, but you lose the ideals that you had about a family. You lose the joy of pregnancy. Your body will also experience a physical loss knowing that the termination of the pregnancy was immature. The body, person, and soul all grieve.
It may feel like everyone has a happy life with a baby, but that is not the case. It is normal to feel that way. Grieve as you need to grieve, allow yourself time, and give yourself lots of grace. You are not alone.