Karuna Counseling’s Newsletter Articles

February 19, 2005

Dealing with Weddings: When You’re Not Allowed To Have One

by Andrea Schrage, MA, LAPC

It seems to be that time of year again when the proposals are increasing as well as more dates are being set for weddings.
At the same time more legislature is being pushed through to stop same sex marriages and to deny these couples the same legal, financial, and health benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. Many are still reeling from the election and the acceptance of amendment 2 and the pain is still fresh. This article is not intended to argue political, religious, or moral viewpoints, but rather to address how people interact with each other and their emotions in a way that feels productive and healthy.

Many feelings are normal upon getting the announcement that friends are getting married; excitement, fear for your friend/family
member, fear of having less time with that person, envy, joy, and what happens if you don’t like the person that they are going to marry? What if you don’t believe in marriage? These are all common feelings, and now add the truth that marriage has become a privilege that is not available to everyone. How do you deal with someone you love getting married and balance the range of emotions felt? This is a very exciting time in the couples life and it is hard for many to acknowledge their personal pain for fear that they will detract
from the good news. This is a lot to juggle, so lets start with a few guidelines, remembering that every situation is different due to the individuals involved.

Venting

Spend some time talking about your emotions with a therapist or friend. It would be best to choose a person that you feel relatively safe with when sharing your feelings. Someone who is not as invested
in the wedding so much that they would have to keep any secretes. It is always wise to be conscious that any advice you get may come with some biases and what is most important is giving your self a chance to be honest about the emotions that have come up for you.

Staying with Emotion

As stronger emotions come up, allow your self room to have them, be with them, and move them. Moving them may be a new concept for some; it simply means expressing them in a way that they don’t end up buried inside of you. This may be something that feels more comfortable to do without others around, either way the following may be some ideas to try.

  • Write down your feelings and emotions without editing the content
  • Transfer the emotions on to paper through drawing. This is a time to let go of creating a masterpiece; the object is to use your intuition to guide your colors and your design.
  • See if you can locate a body sensation that feels related to the emotions and bring your attention to the physical sensation. Watch to see if it shifts when you bring your attention to it. Describe it to your self in detail or simply breathe with it.

Move with the emotion; try using music. See what impulses come with it, this can be done through exercise, yoga, or just by single motions that may range from punching to curling up with a blanket.

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November 1, 2004

Handling the Holidays..in a New Way

By Molly Keeton, Ph.D.& Andrea Schrage, MA, LAPC,CMT

The time is coming..food, festivities, and family. This can be a combination for fun or it can be a recipe for the blues. The following is a few ideas for shifting the holiday “shoulds”.

We tend to follow the same traditions every year because, in theory, it gives us some comfort and connection. This year take some time before hand to evaluate which traditions are truly enjoyable for you. This includes who you spend the holidays with, what traditions you participate in, how much time you spend with others and how much time you spend alone. What would your ideal holiday look like? Be creative. Does it include friends, volunteering, staying at home with relatives? If you do spend time with family, how much time is enough time before you find your self needing some space? Forcing yourself into too much togetherness can create resentment that may go outward or turn inward Either way you are not helping yourself or those around you.

When making plans to change holiday traditions, be prepared for responses that you are likely to receive. Does your family use guilt or coercion to keep things at status quo? Anticipating the tactics that might be utilized can help you to plan in advance how to respond without getting caught up in old patterns. It might be helpful to discuss this with your therapist and to use role-play to get feedback on your approach. Talking to your family about your plans in advance is
preferable to discussing it during the holidays when the emotions are high.

It is important to remember that we are adults now and get to make our holidays what we want them to be. Keep in mind that when interacting with our families, it is easy to revert back to childlike ways of coping. Though these patterns kept us safe when we were younger, they currently keep us engaged in the dysfunctional system. Chances are you are in a space in your life in which you don’t solely rely on your parents for food, shelter, support, and love. Therefore you have more opportunity to make your own choices without threat of losing your foundation.

Making changes can cause temporary stress even though the long-term gains are helpful. To soothe your discomfort, try some of the following: take a hot bath, call a friend, treat yourself to a massage, write in your journal, allow yourself a day off from your to-do list, wrap yourself in a warm blanket, or make yourself a nourishing meal.

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