Set Yourself Free From Needless Stress

SDo you find yourself arguing with your family about so many things; your partner is unorganized, your teen procrastinates, your extended family is all about drama? Why do we continually engage in these conflicts over and over when nothing changes?

I think that we assume that if we continue to engage in the interaction and we try to correct their behavior that they will eventually see the wisdom of our ideas and they will change. But this takes a lot of energy and is it really the best use of our time? We think that life would be easier if we could just change these people and they would do things our way. I think we need to re-evaluate, decide where we can best use our energy. 

Let me give you an example. If you are dealing with someone who is a procrastinator, this could be your child, your spouse or a friend. They do everything at the last minute, you can see the disaster approaching, and when it does they might turn to you for help or they complain to you about their situation. So in the past you try to avoid this by warning them continually along the way and then when they don’t listen we step in at the last minute and help them. This takes a lot of our energy and it is frustrating. Why don’t they just listen in the first place?

This is not your problem to solve, so don’t make it your problem. That is the key, we take on problems that we don’t need to. The better strategy is to give your advice once and then let the scenario unfold. Let them experience the consequences and you step away. Focus your energy on something else. 

This applies to many things. Why do we let ourselves get sucked into other peoples drama? Why do we try to change someones way of doing things? There are many ways to do something so unless it effects you then don’t get involved. I understand that some people want to suck you into the interaction because they benefit from your involvement but this is where you have to set a boundary and let them know that you are no longer going to play that role. It causes you stress and is not a good use of your energy. 

When we step away and we set a boundary we get freedom from that stress. We can now focus our energy on something that will bring us joy. Instead of focusing on the thing that your partner or child does that stresses you, focus on something that is positive. Plan something fun you can do together. The other person will eventually benefit too because they no longer have to deal with your stress inducing involvement in their behavior. 

So as we move into a new year, let’s re-evaluate what we want to put our energy into. Minimize the stress that you take on and you will be a more pleasant person for your family and friends. They will have to adjust to the change but in the long run you each will be happier. 

It is not easy to change patterns of behavior. If you need help and support, give us a call at 562-537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong

Is your relationship experiencing the holiday stress?

Is the holiday stress starting to crowd in on you and your spouse? I know that this time of the year brings some unique challenges. So what is so different about this month of December? Here are a few possibilities of what might be causing stress in your home.

  • You are not in agreement over how much should be spent on the holiday.
  • There are still the usual demands at work but now your schedule is extra busy with holiday festivities at school, church or with friends and family. Shopping takes time too. How do you fit it all in?
  • Pressure from family and friends. How can we make everyone happy including the in-laws, extended family, grandparents, kids and friends. Who do we celebrate with?
  • Different expectations, each of you were raised with unique holiday traditions. What do you do now?

These are just a few challenges that come up at this time. When you see your partner starting to stress out, what can you do? Well being quick to give advice is not the answer. According to Dr. Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,

“The cardinal rule when helping your partner de-stress is that understanding must precede advice. You have to let your partner know that you fully understand and empathize with the dilemma before you suggest a solution,”

Usually the responsibility of juggling gift giving and parties falls on the wife. I know this is a stereotype but let’s just go with it for discussion sake. If the husband starts with the advice then it can put the wife on the defense. She needs to know that he understands and agrees with her view before he can tell her what to do. This means being supportive. Give statements that show you get it.

Wives are not the only ones under stress, each of you need to be open to the other when they want to share what is stressing them out. If you see signs of your partners stress then come along side them, show support instead of judgement and let them know that you are a team together. The feeling of being alone in the stress is often what makes it worse.

Also you may need to discuss holiday expectations. Each of you should think about what is important to you. You can write down a few things that are at the top of your list for the holiday season. I don’t mean gifts but what makes the holiday special to you? Do you like to go as a family and pick out a live tree? Do you remember baking cookies or having a special meal? Do you have a family movie night or give gifts to children in need? Once you both share your ideas then work together to decide which you can make happen.

I want you to have the best holiday possible so make your relationship the priority and care for each other. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support or have questions for us!  We are always here to help. Give us a call at (562) 537-2947.

Written by Lisa Strong