Don’t Try to FIX your Partner’s Emotions

Has this ever happened to you? You call up your man and ask how his day is, he responds with a slew of “nothing is going right” and “I am so stressed from by boss breathing down my neck..” As any loving partner, you respond by listening, trying to give feedback and advice on how to get through this tough work day.

But in your quest to help your partner find relief from his stress – you find yourself feeling irritable that “he’s not taking any of your suggestions… “and if he just would try deep breathing, he would see how helpful it can be to manage his anger…”

Why this is a toxic merry go round:

Empathy VS Sympathy.

Knowing the difference will save you tons of stress and conflict in your relationship!

Brenee Brown said: “what makes something better is not a response, but connection..” This is the essential component of empathy. It’s a very simple concept but so tough to practice! When we know our loved one is in some kind of emotional pain- our gut instinctual reaction is to want to take that away. So, we go into problem solving mode! We say “do this…stop that” and spend much of our time formulating a solution rather than truly listening and validating out partner’s experience in that moment. This can cause our loved one to feel unsupported, misunderstood and invalidated!

Try this:

  1. Reflect what they’re saying to you- without interpreting) stand on their side, even if they are dead wrong!) “You’re boss is really on your case today” or “there’s been a lot of things that haven’t gone as planned for you today”
  2. Put on your therapist hat and validate, validate, validate: “I’m sure it’s really suffocating to have your boss so involved in everything…”
  3. Let them know you’re here if they need anything/ask is there anything I can do?

Remember: It’s not your responsibility, nor is it even possible to change the way your partner is feeling in any given moment. The more you understand this, the easier it will become to provide empathy.

Check out this short clip that will help you learn more!

Val Spiropoulos, LCPC

Let’s Talk About Those Boundaries…

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I have learned that in order to have a healthy and positive self-image, we need to learn how to set personal boundaries. This way, we will be able to tell not only ourselves but others that we have self-respect and self-worth, and will not allow other people to define who we are or what our values are. Being able to have clear personal boundaries is the key to ensure mutually respectful and caring relationships. They allow us to separate ourselves from others, define who we are and allow us to think for ourselves. They help us preserve our integrity and most importantly make us take responsibility for who we are and allow us to execute some aspects of control in our lives.

If you at some point felt uncomfortable by how others were treating you, it may be time to re-examine your boundaries and set new ones. If you think about it, having weaker boundaries will not only make you feel taken for granted, but also may make you feel more vulnerable. Having poor boundaries makes us derive our sense of self from others. No one wants to feel less than, so let’s talk about how to work on resetting your boundaries.

There are many kinds of boundaries, but the main ones I want to mention are: physical, emotional, mental and/or intellectual, energetic, and spiritual.

Physical boundaries define how much space you want between others and you. They help us shape our tolerance for all sorts of touch and affection with others.

Emotional boundaries make us question how we would like others to speak to us and if we can allow others to experience their hurt emotions without having the need to save them. Are we able to allow ourselves to feel sad, angry, hurt or fearful without putting the blame on others?

Mental and/or intellectual boundaries dictate us to respect other people’s beliefs, ideas and preferences even though we may not agree with them. This type of boundary may be challenging if we think we know “best” about something. Remember that your perception may not be someone else’s reality!

Energetic boundaries define what kind of people you want to surround yourself with and what kind of people you want to stay away due to their toxicity. They make us question what sort of situations do you often find yourself in; are they calm, loving and peaceful or chaotic, messy or abusive?

Spiritual boundaries allow us to question our own morale and challenge us to think if we can allow others to have chosen their spiritual life without feeling the need to convince them that they are wrong. They make us think if we can honor our own spiritual or lack of spiritual beliefs and not have to explain or justify ourselves to others.

Now that you have had a chance to examine your boundaries, you may think to yourself: how do I begin to establish healthy personal boundaries in some of the above categories? Here are some of the points I like to focus on when examining boundaries.

  1. One of the most important things is knowing that you not only have the right to have healthy personal boundaries, but you must also take responsibility for how you allow other people to treat you.
  2. Learn how to say “no”. We like to think of ourselves as being nice and wanting to help others and that is okay from time to time. However, if you find yourself trying to accommodate everyone and have been finding yourself being placed at a disadvantage because you have been saying “yes” too many times, you may want to re-examine those situations. I encourage you to start prioritizing your needs and not please others at your own expense.
  3. Trust and believe in yourself. Not only do you know yourself best but you also know what your needs and wants are. With that being said, do not let others make all the decisions for you. Allow yourself to respect your strengths, values, and abilities.
  4. Examine your behaviors and actions and identify those that you find unacceptable. When you feel that your boundaries have been violated, let the other person know that they have crossed the line and made you feel a certain way.

When we experience healthy personal boundaries, not only are we more in touch with ourselves but we also experience increased trust and stability in our relationships. We are able to cope with problems more effectively and can communicate better with others. Healthy personal boundaries help us have a higher self-esteem and self-worth. This means that you can be yourself to a greater extent! It is never too late to work on start working on them!

All my best,

 

Aneta