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wants, desiresNobody does anything in this life without starting with expectations about how it should work. From the moment that we get up in the morning until we go to bed, we are constantly having expectations about our day.

We expect that we can get to work without having an accident, we have expectations about traffic conditions, expectations about how much work we can get done in the day and so on. Despite having expectations, most of the time we don’t consciously think about them. Even if we do consciously think about our expectations, they are usually not well defined.

Many people have expectations along the lines of I expect to have more money. Unfortunately, without clearly defining what that looks like, it is more like a wish than an expectation and represents the tip of the expectation iceberg with the bulk of it undefined.

When our expectations are not met, even if they are not well defined, we quickly lose our happiness and look for someone to blame. To look at the money example again, even though I do not have a clearly defined idea about what more money means, I get upset because I haven’t got enough money and I can’t afford things. Often we hear the disappointment of broken expectations in the statement “I expected so much more”.

Expectations hold immense power. If we can clearly define them and work towards them, then they have the power to drive us to achieve and create. If they are not clearly defined, then we cannot work towards them, causing great discontent with our situation. This discontent has the potential to drive us to walk away from things and to walk away from people.

Understanding and being clear about your expectations is paramount to success in your relationship.

Most of the time our expectations in relationships are unspoken, or we are not fully clear about what they are. Unmet expectations quickly give rise to feelings of incompatibility in a relationship. For instance, a common expectation in a relationship is “If I need the support of my partner because I’m going through difficult times then I expect that they will listen to me, try to understand and support me”. Many times, however, this doesn’t happen. We try to get support from our partners but they don’t listen, listen and don’t understand and don’t try to understand, or they shut us down. As a result of this unmet expectation, resentment starts to creep into the relationship. Repeat this a few times and add in some other unmet expectations, and quickly the feeling of incompatibility and resentment rises.

On the other hand, if you take the time to examine what your expectations in a relationship, take the time to sit with your partner and share those and gain an understanding of what is important to each of you, then those expectations will help you to strengthen the relationship. Shared expectations allow each partner to be clear on what the other is wanting. When each partner meets the expectations of their partner, it shows commitment, empathy and understanding. These are building blocks in a relationship.

Take the time to work out clearly what your expectations are in your relationship. Try to write down at least five of them. Don’t just stop with generic things like I want to be happy. Take the time to define what makes you happy. Now share these expectations with your partner. What of these expectations are achievable easily and what may require some compromise? Have the discussion.

If you take the time to put an effort into your relationship, then the improvement in the relationship will come back to you as a reward. It’s a boomerang effect.

Defining expectations is a fundamental part of the work that I do in restoring and enhancing relationships. If you want to know how I can help you in your situation, call me on 07 3458 1725.

© Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2019

What creates changeThere are three phases to time as we know it.

There is the past, the present and the future.

The past is what has happened, it is set in stone and you can’t change it. The present moment is the very moment that we are in now and then there is the future which basically hasn’t happened yet.

In the present, we can choose to make changes. We can’t change the future because it hasn’t happened yet and we can’t change the past because it’s set in stone so our power only exists in the present.

If you’re not happy with where you are in the present then you have to make a change in something to get a different result. You can look at the past and use the past as a lesson and determine what you had in the past is not what I want now. If you use your negative experiences to determine what you do want, you will be able to see what you need to do to effect change. This is a common approach to change. Some people, however, will look at the future and design how they want the future to look. This, in turn, shows them what needs to be done in the present to get that outcome. Either approach will work.

Using the past to motivate change is an act of moving away from pain. Using the future to motivate change is an act of moving towards pleasure. Moving away from pain or moving towards pleasure are the two great motivators for human beings.

The barrier to this working with any degree of success lies in our tendency to look back at the past and want to blame people have done things to us for our current situation or blame the Universe or God for whatever for what’s happened to us. By dwelling on this we get stuck back in the past where we cannot make any changes.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t feel pain about things that have happened to you and shouldn’t be really upset about things that happened to you because everyone’s got those things in their lives. What I am saying is if we allow ourselves to be bound back in the area of time in which we have no power because no changes can happen there, we become stuck. We must focus on the changes that we can make in the present in order to move forward.

As easy as this might sound, let’s be honest, it is not easy to make the decision that you are going to live from this point forward in order to see the change that you want. It takes effort not to focus back on the past, and this effort is easier when you have the support of others.

© Tracey Janke StartPoint Counselling 2019
07 3458 1725
Supporting Your Change
www.startpointcounselling.com.au

Surviving Christmas and the New YearChristmas and New Year seems like a demanding time of year. There are presents to buy, food to organise, the house to prepare for visitors or travel to be with family and so on. There are so many things that you must focus on. With this, all comes the feeling of overwhelm, exhaustion and the inevitable change in your mood.

The key thing to understand at these times is that we are the most powerful when we focus on the least number of things simultaneously. We are most powerful and most productive when we focus on a single task. When we focus on multiple things in a short space of time, we spread our power and risk the feeling of overwhelm and powerlessness.

At various times in our lives, the necessity to focus on multiple things is unavoidable. However, to reduce the overwhelm we need to make sure that we don’t lose focus on ourselves. It is so easy at this time of year to focus on the needs of others, wanting to please everyone else and to for everyone else to have a good time. Unfortunately, when the last piece of energy drains out of us because we haven’t focused on ourselves, we eventually run dry, and that is when the real overwhelm and tiredness sets it.

If you want to survive Christmas and New Year, remember that while focusing on others may be necessary and even beneficial, take the time to also focus on yourself and what you need.

(c) 2018 StartPoint Counselling

CommunicationIt is very difficult to arrive at a destination if you don’t know where you are going. If I gave you a box and asked you to deliver it to a town out west, you wouldn’t simply accept that. You would want to know more details including the name of the town, the street, the street number and to whom you were delivering.

However, when it comes to the things that we want in our relationships, we tend to use very vague or generic terms. Since these terms are not clearly defined we have no idea how to get there.

We are famous for such vague statements as “I want more money” without defining how much money. So if I give someone who says this five cents, then they have got more money. While they now have more money it certainly won’t be what they want.

Usually when I ask couples “what do you want in your relationship?” I get vague responses such as “I want to be happy”. What exactly does happy mean? What is happiness for one person is not happiness for another person. We need to have a clear vision of what makes up this happiness. We need to define what happiness means for us. Defining things takes effort to do, and that’s why most people shy away from it and settle for continuing to use vague terms. Unfortunately, without clearly defining what happiness is we are never going to move towards it nor achieve it.

Because many people struggle with answering this question in a clear and defined way, I use a technique with my clients called the miracle question. The Miracle question goes like this “if you went to sleep tonight and a miracle occurred overnight, and the next day you woke up, and your relationship is how you would like it to be, describe what you see which is different to what you’ve had in the past?” In other words, if you can imagine that everything is how you want it, what does it look like.

Exercise
The miracle question can start to give you an idea of what you want in a relationship. Once you get a general idea, it is time to get specific.

Make a list of at least five things that you want in your relationship. It could look like this list.

For him to take the time to listen to me when I am upset and to be there for me without telling me to get over it
For us both to share household responsibilities at home
For us to spend time together talking each day without interruptions from mobile phones, kids and TVs.
For us both to have our own hobbies as well as joint hobbies
For us to plan activities that we will both enjoy
Now compare your list with your partner’s list. What do you have in common and what do you have that is different?

Plan to implement first those things that you have in common and then plan to implement those things that are important only to one of you. If it is important to one of you, then having that happen within the relationship will result in a happier relationship.

Deciding what you want is an important first step in making beneficial changes in your relationship. The next step is to be able to communicate your feelings and ideas around what you want. We’ll cover that in another tip.

© Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2018

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The Importance of Self-Care

If you can’t take care of yourself first, then you will have nothing left to give to others or to put it another way, if you don’t have it, you can’t give it.

Self-Care, Cars and Fuel

We go to the petrol station and put petrol in our car then it goes fine until the tank runs empty. When it does, our car has got nothing left to give and stops. To make sure that it doesn’t stop we need to make sure that we keep the car’s tank with some fuel in it. Seems so obvious when you talk about cars and petrol but human beings seem to think that there is some spiritual force which will allow them to break what is a natural law and continue to give without filling their tank.

Difference between Self-Care and Selfish

Self-care is nurturing ourselves, validating ourselves and taking care of the emotional side of ourselves. However, it is common for people to say if you do that then you are selfish because you should be focused on everyone else and not yourself. But selfishness is really about being self-absorbed to the point where everything is about you and is never about anyone else while self-care as a way of topping up out tank is about looking after ourselves so that we can help and focus on other people as well. There is a significant difference.
Another way to look at self-care is that it is an internal emotional tune-up that helps us to function better much like a car runs better after having its electronic/mechanical tune-up.

Self-care sounds great but who the heck’s got time to do it?

We are way too busy, there are way too many demands and seemingly way too little time. So how can we self-care when our time is limited.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of self-care first, just so that we can see how important it is.

• When you give yourself a few minutes per day, you get to know yourself better. Ever want to be authentic then you need to know who you are first
• You can’t take care of others unless you do self-care. If your body is not healthy, your brains had enough, and you feel spent, used up, and burned out, then there is no chance of you helping others
• Want to go from simply existing and feel like you’re living? A little bit of self-care is a difference that you’re looking for
• Ever wonder why you’re here? A little bit of self-care, and getting to know yourself is a great way to start to find out what your purpose in life is
• Want to be empowered? The only person who knows the real you is your inner self, and the only way to connect with the inner self is to take time out for self-care
• Want to get motivated? There is nothing less motivating than being run down and drained. Self-care builds you up, empowers you, refreshes you, and tops up that tank so you can go the distance
• Want to feel validated? Taking the time to focus on yourself and exercise some self-care is the greatest way of saying you matter.

So now you know the importance of self-care let’s now discuss how you can fit self-care into what is for everyone these days is a busy day.

1. Set a specific time-slot in which you were going to do something that you want to do. Now, this doesn’t mean it has to be for an hour or more. It could be 15 minutes; it could be half an hour, it could be longer. It could be as simple as a 30-minute bath.
2. Get some exercise. It does not have to be strenuous. Start by making sure that you walk a little bit more than usual during the day.
3. Make sure you get enough sleep. When we are asleep our brain detoxifies itself.
4. Keep a journal. When I say a journal, I’m talking about on in a brief dot point format. Record what you do during the day I think you’ll be surprised what you do and I think it will boost how you feel about yourself. Keep a journal allows you to see when changes will bring benefits to your life.
5. Make sure you talk to friends and family. Make sure those you choose to talk to are supportive of you. Networking with other people is a great booster.
6. Read a fictional book. Fictional books require us to use our brain to be creative as we imagine the characters and the storylines as we read the book. Great escapism and a great way to exercise your creativity. Reading on a regular basis helps to keep your mind sharp.
7. Listen to a podcast on something with is of interest. It exercises the brain and expands your world.
8. Listen to some music that makes you feel great. Research indicates that listening to music enhances already positive emotions and is a great booster for your mood.
9. Go for a walk outside even if it’s only for a few minutes
10. Reduce stress by being realistic about what is stressing you. There is some research that says stress may be contagious and the more stressed we think we are, the worse it is for us
11. Make sure that you are focusing on the present and not the past and the future. Focusing on the present brings us back to focusing on where we are now and what we are experiencing now. Not spreading your energy over three time frames (past, present, and future) empowers us.
12. Try to be happy. There is research that suggests that feeling happy may affect our health for the better. Apparently, there is a simple way to feel more uplifted, and that is to crack a smile.
13. Try some meditation. Most people say I don’t have time for mediation but click on this link, and you’ll find ten ways to easily and time effectively include meditation into your day-to-day life.
14. Focus on eating better. Fruit and vegetables actively enhance health
15. Look at something cute. Looking at pictures of baby animals is usually an instant mood booster and can boost your productivity.
16. Try decluttering. Clutter can stress us out.
17. Pamper yourself with a massage.
18. Cuddle. Cuddling is good because physical contact reduces stress and releases a hormone that enhances happiness
19. Take a vacation however short.
20. Be assertive. Assertive means standing up for yourself by being tactful, rather than aggressive. Being diplomatic is a good description of assertive. If you’re not assertive, then you risk being passive and risk ending up resentful.
21. Wear clothes that make you feel good
22. Make sure you drink enough water as this hydrates the skin, makes you look better and feel better and flushes toxins out of your body

Summary

• Self-care is essential if you want to have the capacity to give to others
• Self-care and selfish are two very different things
• Self-care has huge benefits
• Self-care can be fit into a busy day (22 ways are listed in this article)

Need help with anything in this article.

Call Tracey on 07 34581725.

© Tracey Janke, StartPoint Counselling 2018
07 3458 1725 / 0409 272 115