Sure I teach wicked communication skills that can slice through the hardest of conflicts. Yeah, I think coming up with strategies and plans is helpful to streamline the most complicated of lives. I absolutely have a lot of tips and tricks up my sleeve to help you find the most happiness in your marriage, with your family, and in your career.
A lot of what I do, though...isn't tangible. It can't be bullet-pointed, put into a worksheet, or made into an 8-week do-it-yourself e-course.
And to the untrained eye it might not seem like a big deal, or like I'm doing anything at all....because you can't put it down on paper. And we like to SEE results....and feeling them doesn't seem to mean as much.
A hugely powerful thing that I do is give people permission to be happy.
It seems like many of us have gotten really good at deciphering what other people need to be happy, what other people's expectations are, and what other people want.
But we're really freakin' unclear about what it is that we want....and if it's ok to want it.
We have a really hard time owning our needs.
Just recently I met with a couple. She seemed amazed by the ways she heard her husband speak while he was in our session. With some really basic skills and some detachment I was able to get him to articulate things in a way she had never heard before. She felt like she understood him more and she felt more understood by him.
It was the validation she had been wanting. It was paving the way for the emotional intimacy that she needed.
Validation and emotional intimacy didn't seem to be on the top of his needs priority list. So when she asked if he was coming to the next session he declined. Which is totally his right. He thought that they were, "so much better," but had no idea why. He hadn't changed anything...
She seemed disappointed when we next met.
I asked if our couple session had helped her. She said yes. I asked if it felt good. She said yes. I asked if she would like to continue therapy as a couple. She said yes. I said, "It sounds like it felt good for you and you found it helpful. If it's helpful for you, it has the potential to be helpful for your husband in the long run. I think you have every right to ask him to join you."
She said, "So, I'll tell him you think it's a good idea for us to come together."
I said, "But I didn't say that...You have the right to have wants and needs." I gave her permission to own it and say it out-loud to him: "Going to therapy together was helpful for me. I want you to come with me next time."
This is information I don't think he had before declining the appointment.
If you're not clear and confident about what you want and need no one else will be either.
It seemed easier and more comfortable for her to focus on my and his expectations, wants and needs than it was for her to focus on her own.
And I do this giving permission thing ALL. THE. TIME.
I recently gave someone permission to go on a vacation with his girlfriend.
Do you want to go?
Does your heart go up when you think about going?
Yes [he couldn't keep from smiling here], but my buddy says it's too soon.
It sounds like it feels good for you to go; like it would be fun and exciting. SO GO!!
It really looks like I'm giving him permission to go on vacation with his girlfriend, but I was giving him permission to honor himself and his feelings.
But I do this with myself TOO! I'm always asking myself what would make me feel better now, and now, and now, and now. And it's EASY to forget this! It's been especially easy to forget this since having kids.
There have been times in our marriage that it's been easy to forget to honor me because I made less money than my husband.
There have been times in my life that it's been easy for me to not honor myself because I don't like the numbers on the scale.
But nothing on the outside has anything to do with my worth and value. We all have the right to ask for what we want and need. We all have the right to feel good and be happy.
Stop waiting for your permission slip...