Expectations… we all have them, we all feel the weight of them. In my sessions with clients the theme I see again and again is frustration and pain around unmet expectations. This can be true with our romantic partner, kids, job, friends, the list goes on. We cannot escape having expectations or having them thrust upon us. So why are we so bad at communicating them?
First let’s break down what it means to have expectations. Expectations is defined as ‘the strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.’ Every situation we enter we have a predetermined idea of how we think things are going to go or how we want them to pan out. For example, I have a friend who was excited about going to a pumpkin patch around Halloween with her husband and two children. In her mind they would head out in the morning and have this lovely fall day among the pumpkins, maybe sipping apple cider and eating some of those yummy doughnuts those places always seem to have. They’d take adorable pictures of their small children in the patch and selecting their perfect pumpkins before heading home for nap time. The kids would go down and she and her husband could relax on the couch maybe cuddle a little and talk about what a fun morning they had.
Communication is one of the most important aspects in a romantic relationship; it is also one of the most common reasons couples seek out therapy. Communication isn’t just expressing our needs, but also involves how we hear our partner when they express theirs. As a relationship goes on we much constantly evaluate how we communicate with our partner. The absence of meaningful communication within a relationship can lead to miscommunication, fights, and resentment.
How many times have you thought about your partner “they just don’t get it”? The answer may not actually be that simple. It may be that you are not communicating in a way they can easily understand, or they need some help with their listening skills to really grasp what you are trying to get across. Successful communication takes practice and does not come easy to many. Couples need to be willing to put in the hard work that it takes for most to reach a point of positive and healthy communication on a regular basis.
Issues with a child’s behavior is one of the most common reasons families seek out therapy. When one child begins to act out is can affect the family as a whole. Concerning behaviors can include things like disrespect towards others, lying, isolating oneself, and aggression. If you are concerned about your child for any reason big or small, it may be time to address these issues in family therapy. As a family therapist myself, it is my role to help families identify and understand the reasons that a child might be acting out.
There are many reasons why a child may begin to behave in a way that is less than ideal. Many reasons lead us back to the parents and looking at how their own interactions with each other and with their children are truly affecting the children. Lack of discipline or boundaries, spoiling, and neglect are a few examples of parental behavior towards their children that can lead to issues with one or multiple children. Parental interactions with each other can also cause a child to behave differently. If parents are often fighting children may begin to act in a way that focuses the attention on them almost as though to bring their parents together as a team to help figure out the child’s problem.
One of the most common things we see in our practice is individuals seeking therapy because they are feeling, for lack of a better word, lost. Have you ever had that feeling that something in your life is off but you can’t put your finger on it? The wonderful thing about coming in to see a therapist on your own is that it’s just you and your sounding board/guide. The attention is 100% on you, which may be a little nerve racking for some, but it is a good thing.
It is important for us to know ourselves and be able to address our own issues head on. It can be easy to shy away from looking at ourselves in a realistic light and taking the steps needed to change for the better. The therapy room is a safe place to begin that difficult process with the guidance of a trained professional. Many people talk to their friends and family about issues within their lives and just as many keep those thoughts and feelings bottled up and unshared. Getting involved in therapy is a great option for either type of person. People already skilled at sharing will enjoy the ease of talking to an impartial person who can help them take their thinking and understanding about themselves to a deeper level. On the flip side of that, individuals who find it difficult or uncomfortable to open up to others about their emotions can begin to build the skills needed to be able to share safely with others.
At this time of year we often think about going through our closets, basements, drawers, shelves, anything and everything where belongings may have overstayed their welcome. Out with the old and in with the new. Reorganize and re-prioritize our physical space. A cluttered home only contributes further to a cluttered mind, so lets’ get back to basics, practice a little self care, and get rid of all the extra noise we surround ourselves with. I myself face the task of organizing our basement which seems to have no real purpose other than a holding place for furniture and boxes of items we cannot use in our daily life right now. There are likely lots of things down there that we can part with for good. I like the idea of taking this one step further though, and while we purge the physical items that are no longer doing us good, let’s do the same for the mental items that are no longer (or never were) helpful to us.
Spring cleaning, both physical and mental, can feel like a daunting task. It is one meant to bring relief from clutter but the mere idea of beginning the process can feel even heavier than the baggage we’re carrying around. This is why many people choose to just leave things as is and not venture down this road. The question becomes then, how can we make spring cleaning feel less like a burden and more like the act of self-care it truly is? The truth is, there’s no easy answer to this. We all work and think differently and the mental constraints that may hold some people back from successfully cleaning house are likely not the same for everyone. The key is to find the tricks that work for you… and follow some general guidelines that are sure to assist anyone in this process.