LIES

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There is a common misconception that therapists are lie detectors. Even in grad school, many of us feared not being able to tell when a client is lying, and not knowing how to handle it when they did. We learned a saying: If they bring the lie, you work the lie. Meaning: If the lie is how you want to spend your time, I will follow you down that rabbit hole. It is your time being wasted if that’s what you choose to bring.

Therapists are not specifically trained to distinguish when an eye twitch means lying and when it is allergies, but one thing that we are good at is remembering what you tell us. You get an hour of undivided attention, and it is in my best interest to remember what you tell me so that I can utilize all pertinent information. That means that there are times when stories don’t add up, and my red flag censor is alerted. Depending on what point we are at in therapy, I may ignore it, or I might express my confusion. I’m human too, and I want to be sure that I am remembering correctly, and not making assumptions.

To be fair, overt lies in therapy are rare. None of my clients are forced to see me, and due to the fact that they come of their own volition, I make the assumption that there would be no benefit to them lying to me. It is more likely that I encounter the lie by omission. These make sense to me. I am not in the business of forcing people to do anything, and I believe when people choose not to be truthful with me, it is because they are not ready to be truthful with themselves. When this is the case, I rely on time to do the work for me. Lies become exhausting, and truth will always find its way.

Photo from A Thought and a Half Blog

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Making Time

Making Time

I think it’s fair to say that as we age, the list of responsibilities grows. Growth at work takes priority, as does marriage, children, home ownership, familial obligations, and continued friendships. The tightrope walk we all manage is rarely easy, and at times exhausting. My struggle has always been where to focus my energy when I know I can’t give 100% in every area (sorry, I’m only human). I know if I try to give everything to everyone I burn out quickly and become useless to all, so much of my time is prioritized.

Learning to balance did not come naturally or easily, but it has become more of a habit, so I decided to share what my process looks like:

1. CHECK IN WITH YOU: The first step is being true to myself. Am I feeling tired? Does that project deserve my energy? Am I doing this for me or for someone else? Learn to be authentic with your own needs. They are valid.

2: PRACTICE SAYING NO: As a culture, I think this lesson is becoming more and more important. Opportunities surround us every waking second, and saying yes to it all leaves no room for recovery.

3: PRACTICE SAYING YES: This goes back to knowing yourself. At the end of a long work day, sometimes the thought of meeting up with friends can feel like too much, but it is important to maintain face to face time. See the people you love and know how they are doing. Relationships that exist solely through social media or quick text check-ins do not have the emotional connectedness that fuels us as humans. I cannot emphasize this enough: SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU LOVE.

4: CUT OUT THE JUNK: We all have certain obligations we can’t throw away, but I am talking about the things we do out of a false sense of guilt. The “frienemy” you can’t shake? Stop making time for her. The underwater basket weaving class you thought would be fun but isn’t? Stop going. When there is hardly enough time for things you want to do, eliminate the things you don’t.

5. SCHEDULE “ME” TIME: This may seem impossible for some, but what I have found is the more time I give to myself (whether it be to work out, nap, watch terrible television), the more time I want to give to others.

These are the tools I use to maintain balance. What has been helpful for you? Feel free to share in the comments!

Photo via Flickr

What Happened to Balance?

The other day an article caught my eye that talked about why people lose friends in their twenties. It talked about transitions that occur and priorities that change. I found myself relating to the article in some ways and opposing it in others. If my life is shifting, surely others’ are as well, and it seemed like a lack of understanding was at play in regards to the most common losses. Friends who suddenly enter relationships and stop talking to friends = not a good friend. Not a good friend because she has not yet learned the subtle art of balance. I think the twenties are the perfect opportunity to cultivate this little used practice, because as responsibilities mount, the juggling act of everyday life is only going to get more difficult, and one of the best antidotes to stress is good social support.

            Friendships are not the only facet of life in which balance is difficult. As the global market shifts, there is a higher priority on work, and deciding on a career path. The decisions that are made regarding where to invest time career-wise are increasingly difficult, and often made at the sacrifice to personal time and family time. I have never heard a person openly admit that his or her career is a priority over relationships, but actions speak louder than words, and the choice is made with extra hours, taking home projects, and carrying the weight of stress through the front door. There is little room left for connection in those moments, and what is allowed for can be forced sure to time constraints and hidden resentments.

            I see the anguish in making the decision to find balance. Whether you are a woman being encouraged to “lean in” or a man trying to make it one step further, the choice to prioritize life-work balance can often come at a cost to career longevity or mastery. There can be a lot of fear associated with the strive towards both, but the outside message is always very clearly telling us that career, prosperity, and wealth should be at the top. Judgment is associated with different decisions, and attacks are made towards so-called “lazy” stay at home parents who aren’t “working.” Men who make this decision are praised and emasculated all at once. Somewhere along the way deciding to have enough but not too much became threatening, and the expectation became to all at once have a six-figure salary. No more time to work to the top, but to instantly be at the top, with enough money to vacation in Monaco, but hardly the time to do so.

            In many ways, the presentation of options has created more stress in that we can easily make the wrong choice. Rather than choose one or the other, we are attempting to choose everything, and there is often sacrifice to full commitment. I am sure you’ve heard it said that you can’t give 100% to everything, something will suffer, and I agree with that statement. When you are making decisions, ask yourself what you would like to have suffer, and I encourage you to attempt more balance and to recognize the power of being able to say no.