Category: Relationships

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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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.

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.

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.

To Be Single or Not to Be Single

This story is about a girl named Mary.  Mary is my friend.  Mary is currently single, but going on dates.  Now Mary and I have known one another for over two decades.  She and I have traveled to the depths of the dating world together and been single to sulk our relationship losses.  We’ve watched every chic flick on how to be good at being a strong but super cool, chill girl.  (Come, on!)  Every woman in the world is trying to be a good wife, partner, girlfriend, dating person, or single chic.  And being “good” is so subjective.

Then we are given dating advice in Cosmopolitan, or told to be rude by outlandish books;  Why Men Love Bitches.  All the information becomes conflicting and overwhelming.   We are inundated with friends opinions and strangers judgements.  We are overthinking, over-trying, and overdoing.

So, lets get back to Mary’s story.  She had been single before and in other relationships before.  Ones that worked and ones that didn’t.  Ones that ended cordially with a hand shake and ones that ended tragically with cheating.  She has played the field, given up dating to pursue a career and come back around again.  Before she began dating again she saw a counselor.  She worked on some fears, then after another year, she got back out there.  She was not active in pursuing men, but she was attracting good and decent men who wanted to take her out.  She was confident, happy, and fun. She had her contagious energy back that she had before her heartbreak.  But it took Mary time to get there.  Before that she laid on the couch with me and cried, she asked for hugs and she figured out what she wanted.  She rediscovered who she was.

Then something happened.  Mary met someone.  She met someone she really liked.   She was overwhelmed by trying to remember the rules to dating because she actually liked this guy.  She thought about texting in 3 days instead of hours; how to keep him interested; when to introduce him to her friends; when he should meet her family; was she actually ready for a real relationship; what if he rejected her; what if she needed to have multiple people to date at the same time while not making him jealous, while keeping him interested, while trying to stand on her head while sitting in a chair and juggling 4 balls in the air while playing guitar and making dinner for 12 people…….. Mary was having overwhelming feelings and emotions of doubt.  She just had to remember, it’s going to be ok.  She had to remember what she wanted and not digress to the conflicting information.  She had to calm her fears, anxieties, and doubt.

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She had to go back and remember what she had learned.  She learned that just because she grew from an experience that she could not control future situations and that there was no promise she wouldn’t be hurt again. She had to let go of her need to control and she had to be vulnerable.  My point is……we ebb and flow in all stages of dating and relationships.  Relax. Breath. Stop trying to figure it out and enjoy the journey.

Why does it all have to be so complicated?  We get so much conflicting information from so many avenues and it keeps us from developing our genuine selves.  It prolongs the confusion and chaos.   Mary has no idea how to be single.  She has no idea how to date or how to be in a relationship.  Not the “right way”, at least, whatever that means.  But who does?  We are all sort of the blind leading the blind.  This is messy stuff.  This is complicated stuff.  We have to give ourselves room to breath and grow.  We are making it up as we go, learning from the past, and taking notes for the future.  There is no right way to date or right way to be single.  The best you can hope for is good and supportive friends that hang in there with you along the way.  My point is……Relax. Breath. Stop trying to figure it out and enjoy the journey, single or not.

The Customer is Not Always Right

This article begins with a story about a man named Jerry.   Jerry is an Uber driver. He  picked me up today to take me to the airport.  Jerry had moved from a neighborhood near Chicago called Arlington Heights to Orange County, California is the 70’s.  He has four kids, nine grandkids and a dog.  Jerry was friendly and helpful. We chatted about climate change and other miscellaneous topics .  Jerry closed out the ride by telling me, “Well you got 5 stars.”  I giggled a bit and asked if he was kidding. He explained to me that Uber had begun asking drivers to rate their customers.  He explained that when people are just flat-out nasty or inconsiderate of human standards he has the option of giving them fewer stars.  The customer is now being judged.  Consumers have previously been about to rate the drivers on a 1-5 star scale on this taxi app.  Now, they too have the ability to rate the customers. This reminded me of Airbnb, a company that allows hosts to rent out their home or rooms to customers traveling to their location.   House hosts and renters alike can be rated on the site. It helps with accountability on the end of the host and the consumer.
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Before becoming a counselor, I worked in customer service for 15 years. I’ve had over a decade being the customer and the consumer.  I’ve had over a decade dealing with difficult customers over the years or with poor customer service as the consumer. Sometimes we are quick to yell at the waitress or to be short-tempered to the attendant.   Most of the time the temper had probably been building prior to our interaction, but now we get to take it out on someone.  There was an imbalance and that imbalance is being acknowledged.  Workers and staff have always been the only ones held accountable to serve with respect. We incorrectly assume that service is the action that must be taken seriously and in high regard for customer satisfaction. The saying, “the customer is always right” makes us believe that it is okay to yield power over the worker and thankfully times are changing.   In a world where some people just feel “owed” respect the inequality can take a much stronger meaning then that of the shop owner being faithful to the consumer.
Business is about relationships.  Relationships are about a balance and exchanges of understanding.  This article in no way negates the power of good customer service, but it’s an interaction between two individuals and not a right of power for the consumer.  We must hold every person, customer and worker alike to the standards of politeness, respect and service.  The customer isn’t always right anymore.  Every person is held to the human standards of decency. Interactions with people and places take place frequently.  We are all being measured.  The scoff, the smile, and our tones will all be judged.  It wouldn’t hurt us to all have accountability to be polite anyways.  Kindness is contagious.

Compromise vs. Collaboration in a Relationship

What is the difference between compromise and collaboration in a relationship?  Is one better than the other?  Is there something we can do to make sure that we are not giving more than the other person in our relationship?

Thank you to Dr. Kyle Weir for sparking my interest on this subject.  The word compromise is heard over and over again when we are talking about couples learning how to cope with each other’s differences.  (I have also used it several times myself.)  It was a concept that not only made sense, but had something that it could be measured against: sacrifice.  But is sacrifice really something that we want to do in a relationship?  The dictionary definition states that each side is making a concession.  That sounds easy.  Except for when you have two people inside of a relationship that are unwilling to budge on a matter and just want the other side to give in.

Humans are passionate when it comes to opinions.  Two people working towards a life together are going to come across a lot of them.  Compromise is something that is needed, but it is also something that assumes one partner will give in.  Collaboration on the other hand is working together towards a common goal.  Collaboration supposes that you already have the same goal in mind.  In a relationship, you should have similar or same goals in mind.  These goals include: what the future looks like and what passions you both have as individuals that you can work together towards in the relationship. In this journey, one partner may make compromises for the other, and then when the time comes the positions need to flip-flop.  You should never be the only person to compromise in the relationship.  During these times of compromise you should be collaborating towards the goal.

For example: if you have been offered a new job, your partner may have to compromise to move with you to keep the relationship going.  However, you will both have to collaborate about what this means for the other partners’ job or schooling.  A compromise can not take place unless you have discussed what that looks like.

At the beginning of a relationship, a couple tends to be directed towards either compromise or collaboration.  Too much of one person giving in at the beginning of the relationship can be a red flag that collaboration will not be part of the relationship.  A collaborative person will be present to work towards the relationship and making sure it is successful and happy.  These are items that we can asses early on in a relationship to understand our partner’s and our own investment in the relationship.

A relationship build on compromise (even though we have to make them at times) will not last, but a relationship build on collaboration will be able to stand difficulties and trials.