To Have and To Hold

I recently attended the wedding of a great friend.  This beautiful event was supported by a spectacular venue, decorations, and charming dresses.  And most importantly, loving people.  As the event began, the pastor took her spot under an elegant wood arch aligned with flowers.  She opened with a speech to remind the audience, friends and family of our role in this matrimony.  As we listened, we became confidants.  As we watched the couple exchange vows, we became advocates for their happiness.  We were not just gathered here to witness, but to become collaborators in the entirety of this marriage journey.

We are called to provide support, to help in times of struggle, heal in times of pain and celebrate in times of joy to those of our friends who include us in their special day.  We have a part in this union and this family throughout the many years they remain married.

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This, of course, got me thinking.  I thought about all the people seated in the chairs beside me and standing near the couple.  I thought about their journey and the importance of the role I was about to play in the lives of others.

Marriage is a time for happiness and celebration.  But Marriage is most importantly a time when our selfish ways are put aside and we grow in love.  Relationships that support the marriage are essential for that growth to happen.

As I continue to read books from leaders, mentors, and professional athletes, I learn that people need direction from different avenues and various people.  We are all shaped by our families, our communities, our teachers, and our peers.  We are all snapped by our relationships.

I have been to numerous weddings throughout the past 10 years, and I had to ask myself how have I continued to support those individuals and families?

When we put on suits and ties, pretty dresses and dazzling shoes, we are not just attending one event for that relationship, but we are asked to continue to provide support and understanding for the marriage journey and each of its partners.

I was moved by the pastor engaging the attendies in the discussion to support marriage in it’s longevity.  Community is an intricate part of supporting marriages.  We can not do this alone.

 

My name is Laurie Kjelstrom, M.A.  I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern who is passionate about helping Marriages sustain happiness and helping families live healthy lives.  

If you are in California, please call me today for a consultation: 714-747-4393

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You are Stronger than You Think

Sometimes we question a part of our life. We wonder.  It may be a relationship, a job, or a habit.

We might be in a relationship with a partner who has actions we don’t agree with.  We try to find a reason our partner would have such rude behavior.  We excuse the inexcusable because we don’t want to let go of that person or that relationship.  We  defend that person to our friends and family.  We build a case for justice, only to have it fall apart over and over again.

If we question a job, we wonder if our talents and education will yield us more opportunity, but we stay with the same employer.  We try to talk ourselves in to happiness.  We try to find hope in a job that feels hopeless.  We lose morale, we lose motivation, and we lose passion.

If we question a habit, we have thought about quitting before but we tell ourselves that now is not the right time.  We find a reason to keep up our habit out of fear.  We let our fear drive us and our addiction become us.

You need to know that whether it is a relationship, a job, or a habit, excuses will just continue the cycle.  We have to live healthy and happy.  But the real question is….

What are we actually searching for?

We are blindly reaching for a way to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling of moving to a new unknown place.  We stay with someone who hurt us because it is familiar.  We stay in a job that does not make us happy because it is comfortable.  We keep up with the same habit, because we don’t know who we are without it.

Getting to a place where you are at peace with leaving an unpleasant relationship is powerful. Getting to a place where you can reconcile a job move is amazing.  Getting to a place where you come to terms with giving up a bad habit is incredible.  However, in order to get to that place of accord, we have to be willing to walk through the trenches of discomfort.  We have to accept temporary pain for lasting growth.

We are stronger than we think.  We are worth fighting for.   Accept that things will get better.  Accept help.

My name is Laurie Kjelstrom and I am a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern.  My passion is helping people get through the difficult times in life; walk with them through the darkness to get back to the light.  If you or a loved one needs counseling in the state of California, please call me today.  714-747-4393

Banter and Buzz Kill

“In the absence of information, we fill in the blanks with our imagination.”  -Dave

Let me tell you the story of my best friend, Dave.  I met Dave at a Denny ‘s on Walnut street in Bloomington, Indiana.  I was a doe-eyed freshman in college and he was approaching his sophomore year.  Winter time had just begun and my gray Crown Victoria was still covered with piles of snow as I drove the large beast into the parking lot.  I made my way through the swinging doors of the restaurant and asked for an application. Dave was a server there.  It was thanks to Dave that I got that job, secured him as my roommate months later, and made my way towards the cynical adulthood I would come to know in college.

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Dave remembered everything by year.  He would say, “Back in 1999 when the such and such album came out and the kids were drinking apple pucker and staying out too late.” Dave was in his 30’s but his references solidified the eras.  He would reminisce about decades of good tv shows that later generations would never know.  At any given time you can find him in a simple white-tee or a thrown-on button up with old jeans; electronic device in one hand, coffee in the other.  Dave and I were friends during some of the most influential years of our lives; making the most out of college between small venue concerts and house parties, sliding into classes hung over, and getting food from the dorm cafeterias.  We were living a micro-version of what we thought to be an adult life.  Dave and I were a staple in what was so cleverly referred to as “The Oregon Trail Generation.” Not only did we grow up playing outside, but we were on the cusp of the end of “the dream.”  We remained hopeful through philosophy classes, inspired through businesses classes, and moved by the hustle of the University setting.

Years later, Bachelor Degrees in hand with hopeful smiles and bright-eyed wonder we  walked through the doors of corporate America.   Corporate America giggled at us as we were escorted to our cubicles under horrible florescent lighting and our dreams of big money and managing were crushed. Welcome to entry-level.

We realized that we’d have student loans we could barely pay in shitty corporate jobs we never really wanted.  We’d spend the next three years being cynical and bitter.  We would write emails from corporate America and stay friends for what is going on 13 years now.  We see the millennials go through the same buzz-kill only they don’t seem to be able to manage not having gotten their way.

To this day we bantered on and he inserts one liners to make sense out of the world.  We discussed how graffiti in the bathroom had approached an all time low due to updated Facebook status and Instagram photos.

Dave still discusses life in years and we aren’t as cynical as we once were.  We are often searching for meaning in life through banter.  Looking back I now understand that the important part was the friendship.  The important parts, the really important ones in life are relationships.  They always have been and always will be.

Losing Hope, Winning Grace

Today, I am going to share a personal story.  It feels like an important personal story.   About five months ago I began struggling with depression.  Five months ago, I began struggling with depression, again.  These feelings and symptoms were not new to me; lack of motivation, low energy, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, tearfulness, and lack of feeling joy.

After my education to become a therapist, I realized that since I was about 12 years old, I had been struggling on and off with depression.  My depression also paired with anxiety.   I later learned that it is common for these conditions to be co-morbid.  These labels seemed dooming to carry and wrong to tell others about.  I worked in mental health but the social stigma was still around.

I want to share this story because it is important for everyone.  You or someone you know may be struggling with depression or anxiety.  It is not something to be ashamed of.  It is crucial to begin the conversations about mental health.

Talking to my friends, coworkers, and family was helpful.  I researched different ways to deal with depression including medication, talk-therapy, exercise, diet, and mindfulness.  I began seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist.  The best thing for me was to know that I was not alone, and to find resources to help me get better.  My depression and anxiety has gradually gotten better.  I am beginning to feel happy again, able to get out of bed and revived with motivation.  I am feeling like myself again.  I am aware of my biological predispositions and of current environmental factors.

May is Mental Health Month. There is hope about educating the public to be aware about the mental health problems that they or people they know may be struggling with.

Lets Look at Statistics and Facts about Depression and Anxiety:

  • Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States.
  • As many as 2 out of 100 young children and 8 out of 100 teens may have serious depression.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about 1/3 of those suffering receive treatment.
  • It is not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression.

(statistics gathered from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

When it comes to anxiety and depression we have to give ourselves grace that these difficult mental health issues take time to get better.  It is important to know that we can learn ways to cope with the symptoms.  It is important that we don’t lose hope.  What is important is that we ask for help.

 

 

Adapting for the Millennial Workforce

How do we prepare for millennials in the workforce?  What are we missing when it comes to understanding this generation?  Why do we want it to be similar to generations before it?

Some people see the millennials as an entitled generation; that they expect things  they didn’t earn.  A generation that is used to instant gratification.  After all, they never had to press rewind on a cassette player and wait 5 minutes for it to rewind.  The millennials are used to anything they want at the touch of a screen.  They are different. They are very different.

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There is a new status quo.  The millennials want quicker, faster and easier.  I mean, can we blame them?  We might see it as collaborative social anxiety and an embellished sense of self.  However, what if we change the way we see it?  How can we begin to adapt for the millennial workforce?

What if we said, they have an ability to collaborate and a high sense of pride for their work to resemble self.

As psychology heads towards positive affirming, we should establish more hope for the future.  Previous generations need to update our attitude while the millennials update their status.  The millennials want consistent feedback and less aggressive micromanaging.

Preparing for the millennial workforce takes a different approach:

  1. Encourage Collaboration – Millennials are encouraged by competition.  They are competing for “likes” and not just on their Instagram, but in the workforce.
  2. Learn from their Tech Savvy– Learn something from your younger counterparts.  They are tech savvy and they have been using iPads since elementary school.
  3. Give them Independence– Independence is important to the millennials.  Micromanaging this generation will cause nothing but headache for you and quitting for them.
  4. Welcome Change – As a hiring manager or business owner you will have to accept where this new generation is.  Change is here and it happens faster than it used to.  This generation embraces change. You need to as well.
  5. Cultivate Inspiration– Cut the coddling, but keep up with the Kardashians.  Millennials are inspired by realities that past generations may not understand.  They are influenced by social excitement and energized by new ideas.
  6. Recognize their Values– Money isn’t enough.  They use plastic or scan apps to pay for things.  They don’t place value on money.  They have barely even seen it.  They want to take a selfie at Machu Picchu instead of buying that new BMW.  The monetary value doesn’t override the freedom.

We are not impressing upon the indulgent.  We are not acting like overprotective parents.  We are building a new workforce that appreciates positive feedback and collective collaboration.  So how do we prepare for the millennials to take over the workforce?  We encourage, we connect, and we inspire.

Lessons of a Mindful Life

When you stop comparing or expecting you begin to see the world for its beauty.  You walk more slowly and you love more fully.  You learn that we are humans and that we need one another.  You learn that fear is really what drives all your worries and that hope is what drives your purpose.  You gain insight with intention.  You listen more than talk and give more than receive.

You learn about yourself.  You understand that in order to be the best partner, you need to love you.  This means leaving behind the years of trying to figure yourself out and enjoying the person you are each and every day.  Be unapologetic in the way you treat yourself.  Take care of your mind, body, and soul.  Do yoga.  Get massages. Read books. Engage in conversations. Be open-minded.  Build a firm foundation in yourself.  Always be willing to give yourself second chances.  Don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t be a victim.  Take risks and chances, but protect your heart.  Learn to sit and breath without the distraction of another person in the room.  Be willing to take yourself to dinner and announce “just one.”  Don’t be ashamed to cry.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.  Leave your bad attitude as quickly as you can.

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You learn to laugh.  You learn to let go.  You learn to have fun.  Then you stop comparing yourself to others.  You learn that telling yourself you are beautiful isn’t vain.  And that shame and guilt are heavy shoes and walking in them for too long is tiring.

You learn about work.  You learn that working isn’t an option.  You learn that loving your job is a huge step towards a happy life. You learn that having great co-workers is as important as having great friends.  You learn that someone else bad day doesn’t have to ruin yours.  You learn to have an attitude of teamwork.  Suggestions and criticisms become constructive and not offensive.  You engage in the team effort.  You learn that you can’t micromanage and you let go of perfection.  You know that always having to be right is exhausting.

You learn about friends.  You keep the friends around who are genuine.  The rest float on.  You learn that having a small number of true friends is better than thousands of Facebook likes.  To be a good friend, you have to be giving.  You have to reach out to your friends, spend time laughing about the past, enjoying the present, and not worrying about the future.  You learn that being single around your coupled friends is humbling and not feeling lonely is rewarding.  You learn that feeling sorry for yourself is a waste of time and reaching your hand out to others alleviates the discontent with yourself.  You learn not to gossip.  You learn that communication doesn’t have to be constant.  That like-minded people make you feel alive.

Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers.  Say hi to someone in the grocery line.  Give a high-five to a kid walking by.  You learn to stop staring down at your smart phone and look up.  Don’t be afraid to smile even when you don’t feel like it.  Act as if.  Act as if you care, love, and have compassion for every person you meet.

The Power of Positive

“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.  The power of language and our thoughts will influence our feelings and actions.  Think about it. Three things often go together; our actions, our feelings, and our thoughts.  What you say or do has the power to dictate how you feel or think about something.  Our mindset can influence our emotions.  How cool is that?  We can influence our emotions.

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One of the greatest lessons I have learned and now teach, is that have influence in how we feel about things.  That puts us in a better mindset for coping with struggles or maintaining successes.

Here are some quick tips to enlisting this new positive standard into your language.

1. Say goodbye to words like can’t, don’t, and shouldn’t

2. Be cautious with always, never, all and none (extreme words make us feel defeated).

3. Use Self-Affirmations (I am good the way I am, I am happy, I am successful).

4. Eliminate self-loathing.  Try to give yourself grace. When we feel poorly or have poor feelings about ourselves it leaks into other aspects of our lives.  Notice what is going on with yourself but try not to judge it.  I often tell people to use the word, just.  This is just a setback.  I am just working through something.  When you take away the power of words, you take away the power they have over you, your thoughts, and your feelings.

5. Take non-judgmental stances.  The more we critics others, the harder it is to have positive words.  When we take negative stances on things, ideas, or people it rises our emotions for worse.  Criticism is for worse.  When we take a positive or neutral stance it is for better.  Inspire and encourage others, listening and be non-judgemental.

6. Reconnect with yourself.  We live in a busy, beautiful world.  It is important to find clarity in your heart and mind to practice a positive mindset and incorporate them as a part of your life.

Gandhi was a wise man, and he was also a practicing man.  You have to practice and incorporate ways to be mindful in your every day life.  The power of positive takes practice and patience.  You have the power to inspire and influence.