life transitions

Friend, this is how to Support me During a Break-up

 Photo by Court Prather on Unsplash

Photo by Court Prather on Unsplash

Yes, it sucks and it hurts

First of all, if you’re going through a break-up, my heart aches with you. This absolutely sucks and it can feel like the pain never ends. If you haven’t already, I want you to watch this video. Psychologist Guy Winch talks about what it takes a to mend a broken heart:

I might add that while it’s important for your friends to show you compassion and patience, it’s even more important to be compassionate and patient towards yourself as you recover. The time it takes for you to heal might not be proportional to the length of the relationship. 

Close to home 

As a relative, a friend, a therapist, I’ve witnessed many heartbreaks. Take Tammy, for example, my playmate. We go way back. We have so many inside jokes and recall the silliest stories. We share embarrassing selfies and we’ve seen each other at our best and at our worst. And worse it was when she went through a tumultuous divorce a few years ago. Is her ex coming back? Is he gone for good? There was so much back and forth and “fun” is not the word I’d use to describe this rollercoaster ride.

The thing is, there’s never a good time to break up. Even if it’s for the better, it always sucks. Sometimes it’s easier for the relationship to keep dragging on than it is to be honest about parting ways. Regardless of how your relationship ended, when your friends don’t know what to say, they can say the most insensitive things. Have you ever stopped opening up to a friend because of something they’ve said? You probably didn’t bother correcting them because you’re just trying to stop hemorrhaging.

So what shouldn’t your friends do? Let’s see if this resonates with you. 

What not to do when helping me get through my break-up 

1.    Bad mouth my ex – When I call my ex every name in the book, you want to support me and jump on the bandwagon. I know you mean well because you don’t like seeing me this way. But when I hear those colorful words flying out of your mouth, I’m silently wishing that you’d tone it down. Not only am I managing my own emotional response; I’m also cued into yours. I don’t have the bandwidth for that.

2.    Argue with me when I defend my ex – So there’s a reason why we got together. However long or short it has been, there was something there. If they’re all that terrible, what does that say about me that I chose to be in a relationship with them? This back and forth is a part of the process. Please let me be.

3.    Remind me why we should’ve never gotten together in the first place – This stings. I might already realize this and have mustered up all the courage to break up with that person, let alone tell you. The last thing I’d need to hear is, “Remember when I told you...”

4.    Tell me I’ll find someone better – I’m not saying that’s not true, but not now. I’m still aching over this relationship and I’m not ready for another one. Please; I really can’t think about someone else right now.

5.    Hurry me along – I don’t know why but I feel like I’m never going to get over this person. Every playlist, place, car ride remind me of them. I don’t know how long this is going to take. The last thing I need is for you to get irritated at me because it has been five months and I’m still down and out. Please let me be me when I’m with you.

So, let’s take a break here. Rather than simply telling your friends what they shouldn’t do during your break up, what would you rather they do instead? Would the following help?

What to do when helping me get through my break-up

1.    Listen – I know I’m rambling. I just want to pour my heart out and get things off my chest. You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t even have to side with me. Just give me your best ear and don’t judge me.

2.    Offer a place to stay – Sometimes I just want to get out of my element and have a change of scenery. I wouldn’t mind crashing on your couch for a few nights. Just offer.

3.    Take a break from talking about my ex – That’s all I think about. Perhaps it seems like that’s all I want to talk about. But really, help set some limits around that. Let me go on for an hour and then let’s move onto something else. I need a break from this too.

4.    Keep inviting me out – I still want a life. Whether I’m in a relationship or not doesn’t change that. Yes, it might be hard to see people in pairs but I’m still human. Being in good company helps me heal.

5.    Give me space – I know I sound like I’m contradicting myself, but I’m really not. Sometimes, I don’t want to go out and I just need space to think and process what the hell just happened. If I’m not in the mood, you can probe a little but then check back later if I insist on being alone.

I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list but I really hope this can be a conversation starter. Share this post and add your own pointers. You’re uniquely you and your friends who have never seen you this way simply don’t know how best to support you.

For your recovery, for their understanding, for your friendship, given them somethin’. 

Finally, let us know if the counselors at People Bloom can support you in more ways than 10. We’re not your friends and we can’t thank you enough for them, but as therapists, we have other tools to help you get back on your feet. You know where to find us.


People-Bloom-Counseling-Redmond-Ada Pang.png

 Ada Pang is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond psychotherapy practice in WA. She helps unhappy couples and families living with cancer. Her clinician Bob Russell specializes in teens and young professionals. Whatever your challenges, let us know if we can help you!

There Is Such a Thing as Too Much Self Help

People-Bloom-Counseling-Redmond-Too-Much-Self-Help.png

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Self-help? No thanks!

The year I turned 30, the life path I thought I was on took a sharp turn and derailed. The end of a six-year relationship left me broken. I was diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune disease.  A nice Welcome to your 30s! combo set.

At the same time, my friend Emma was going through her own massive life upheaval. She carried me through my post-break-up identity crisis and I offered her support through a messy divorce. Emma suggested I read Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie. There was a time I would have scoffed at those cheesy self-help books. I never would have considered that codependence could be my problem. But desperation set in and I flung open to page one. Here's the short version: opening that book opened my heart to the wisdom of strangers, and it saved my life.

As it turns out, Beattie knew my soul.

I then jumped on the self-help bandwagon. I read all the self-care guides, journaled daily, and was determined to heal - emotionally and physically. The guidance of experts in health and wellness became my enlightenment. If I hadn’t faced some truths about myself, I might still be living in those dark days. My Before Self Help Era (BSH).                   

...

Putting down the books

Fast forward four years. As I sat with Emma at a coffee shop recently, I realized we were doing it again. Swapping our latest self-help tips, divulging our deepest flaws and sharing the new tool we learned for coping with whatever challenge we were facing at that moment.

I couldn’t remember the last time I hung out with Emma without psychoanalyzing and dissecting our behaviors and motivations. As we grew and changed together, and as life continued to throw curve balls at us, it was like we’d become each other’s therapists. Our quest for healing had become our common ground and set the tone for our friendship.

Now don't get me wrong, it’s great to help each other when we're struggling! And it’s also easy to dwell on our problems when we catch up - our problems become a topic we know so well! But it’s not our job to treat each other’s emotional pain, especially without proper training.  I trust Emma with my struggles because she is a great listener and gives the best advice. I try to do the same for her. But after all these years, I don’t know if my advice has been helpful, no matter how good my intentions.  A trained therapist would know best how to handle our respective baggage. It was time to stop letting the quest for self-improvement and healing consume us. 

As much as Emma and I thrived on each other's support, we were both feeling the burden of playing counselor. 

Finding middle ground

I missed just being. Emma and I have been friends for 15 years. There was a time when we didn’t analyze our every thought or decision (long before BSH). We were care-free and spontaneous. I know we can’t bring back our free and breezy 20’s. Or, let’s be honest, the days of drunken shenanigans. But, we can try to remember who we were then, and channel that feeling - before obligations, heartbreaks, and mortgages took their toll. We don’t have to constantly obsess and worry about whether we’re doing life right. Self-doubt is at the root of many of our quests for self-improvement.

For a moment over coffee, I can stop trying to fix myself and others. 

So I experimented: I decided to hang out with Emma and do things that bring us joy. We ordered pie to go with our coffee (guilt-free!) and reminisced about things that make us laugh. We walked to the park and played on the swings, like a couple of kids. I think our friendship needed that jump-start. Nothing was broken at that moment, and nothing needed fixing. 

Going against my nature and trusting my instincts

I tend to delve deep when I get into a one-on-one conversation. Keeping things light-hearted is out of character for me, so just having fun is a much needed reprieve. Whenever the conversation over coffee got heavy, I suggested to Emma that she discuss the issue with her therapist. We no longer dwell or talk in circles like we used to.

Granted, I’m still on this journey and have much more to learn. But during that coffee break I gave myself a break from self-improvement, from healing and processing. To exist, free of worry or a need for order and perfection. Ironically, it's self-improvement books that have taught me to be more present and live in the moment.   Maybe I'm finally learning to trust my own instincts - not rely so completely on the guidance of others. Could it be, I'm actually applying what I have learned in my search for wisdom and wellness?

What's your nature?

If you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing you are open to self-improvement and to learning tools to cope with life’s challenges. Doing the work to better yourself can be life-changing. It takes guts to face yourself, flaws and all, and it’s noble work to aim to be the best version of you.

But, if you’ve been bogged down by too much processing, give yourself permission to take a break from overthinking. It’s okay to put down the books, for as long as you need. They’ll be there when you want to jump back in. But for the time being, do the thing that brings you joy. I’m off to play in clay and to see if I can still throw a mug or two. Maybe Emma and I can use it at our next coffee date. If my mug doesn't come out perfectly from the kiln, well, it'll have my fingerprints all over it.

Taking care of you and your Emma

Do you have an Emma in your life?  The next time the two of you end up going down the psychoanalysis rabbit hole, save your own issues for your session with your therapist. If your Emma doesn’t have a therapist and she's open to seeing someone, you can suggest that too. It’s ok to lean on friends for support, but having fun and letting go of it all sometimes can be just as therapeutic as the best self-help book. It can also do wonders for friendships.


 Karen Lenz  Executive Assistant

Karen Lenz
Executive Assistant

Hi, I want to introduce myself as People Bloom's Executive Assistant. I know you look to Ada’s  blogs for helpful messages and tips to get through life’s challenges. But running a small business is non-stop work, which means the blog sometimes gets pushed to the back burner. I mentioned to Ada that I like to write, and she kindly offered for me to contribute blogs during those busy times. I was thrilled!
I’m in the office business - not a therapist. I’ll share my experiences as a human navigating this world, a client sitting across from a therapist, much like you. Thank you for letting me share a part of myself. Maybe my journey will resonate with you, and we’ll get through this messy life together.

When Misery Rejects Company

Warning: this post is mostly pictures

A late start

Last month, husband and I were able to take two weeks off and do a road trip to UT. We stayed up past midnight packing and we even loaded our camping gear into the trunk. In the middle of the night, I woke up briefly with a sore throat. By the morning, I’ve developed a fever. Things were not going as planned.

I told my husband we could leave after a day when really, I wasn’t well. We ended up staying home for an additional two days. In the meantime, husband rerouted our whole trip given less time on the road and varying weather. He also wanted to make sure we put more difficult hikes at the end to give me time to recover. By the time we hit the road, I was fever-less but sick nonetheless.

As you can imagine, I didn’t want to burden my husband with my illness, let alone shorten our trip any further. Not wanting him to join me in my misery, I was fighting to get better.

It doesn’t end here.

Rocks everywhere!

 Bryce

Bryce

I’ve never been to UT and the geology was ah-mazing! My friend from Seattle warned me that it would be jaw-dropping for the first few days, then we’d crave Washington’s greenery. This was NOT the case. We loved every moment of it!

 Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef

Our first stop was Bryce Canyon National Park and it was unbelievable! The crimson-colored hoodoos are magnificent! My iPhone doesn’t do it justice.

Capitol Reef was a beautiful surprise. We didn’t know what to expect. The ranger talk was most memorable as we learned about the rock formations.

 

At The Arches, it was SO windy I thought I was going to get blown over the cliff! It was of course gorgeous and we saw much of the park.

By now, I’ve suffered some coughing episodes in high elevation but am otherwise 85% well. Zion was our last stop and we had dinner at Oscar’s Cafe. There, I noticed an interesting phenomenon.

Limping patrons

Over the course of my portobello avocado salad, I saw two patrons who were limping in and out of the restaurant at different times. I told my husband my observations and he found it hard to believe. Little did we know we’d talk about this the next day.

The Narrows

We hiked the famous Narrows, a slot canyon which involved wading through water up to waist deep. It was magnificent! From the “bottom up,” we took a detour to the Veiled Falls and went a little past the Floating Rock.

We fell into the water a few times and took a ton of pictures. I said to my husband, “Why can’t all hikes be like this?!” By the time we were done, and we spent a whole day there, we were, no pun intended, spent. As we got off the shuttle, I noticed something.

Limping husband

“Husband, what’s going on? Are you okay?!”

“I think I might have sprained my foot!”

Then we were reminded of the limping patrons outside of Oscar’s and we laughed our way back to the car. For the rest of the trip, husband didn’t want to hold my hand when we were walking, which was unusual. He was uncomfortable holding onto me when he was struggling. When I did have his hand, I could feel his limp more and I felt bad that he wasn’t well.

We were glad to end our trip with this last hike.

Are you “limping”?

Sometimes we go through life limping along, thinking we need to will ourselves to be well. Or, we push our partners away as to not burden them. Could it be that your partner WANTS to be there for you, but it’s hard to let them feel your pain? In a close relationship, your partner WILL feel your pain and you theirs.

What if you can go through an illness, a sprained foot and other stressors TOGETHER, rather than alone? Your partner is already affected and wants in. Will you let them hold your hand?!

If you need help navigating through life stressors as a couple, I'll be here


Ada Pang is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond psychotherapy practice in WA. She helps unhappy couples find safety and connection in their relationship. She also helps cancer thrivers and their caregivers integrate cancer into their life stories. Today, no kidding, she happens to be limping because she’s breaking into some new dress shoes. She bought those shoes with her husband. She wonders what he has to say about that and whether he’ll hold her hand.

Two Approaches to Dealing with your Fears

 gretalarosa/stock.adobe.com

gretalarosa/stock.adobe.com

I was born a little skittish. I get startled easily when I see and hear something I don’t expect. I had to tell my husband early on in our marriage to make noises as he enters the room. Otherwise, I’d scream bloody murder, which would freak him out. Oh, and I don’t like scary movies. Husband got into a kick recently and watched the three original Alien movies while I was out-of-town. Good, cuz it ain’t happening when I’m home.

The thing is, we’re all wired a certain way, along the continuum of higher versus lower threshold for fear. It’s not a right or wrong, good or bad. It just is. But, what’s the point of fear? Is it even necessary? Ever wondered where fear came from?

The origin of fear

Too many million years ago during the age of saber-tooth tigers, wonderful men hunted and awesome women gathered. Whether they were out in the fields or back at the shelter, they had to be on hyper alert for wildlife. They were either going to have lunch or be lunch. With that hard-wired alert for danger, those who were careful and watchful procreated and lived on. Those who had a low radar for fear and lived a carefree life did not.

What does this mean for us in 2017?

Real threats

Though we’re no longer living amongst saber-tooth tigers, some threats in our lives are very real. It could be a life threatening illness, an accident, any other traumatic events or threats to our dignity as people. During these moments, our fears make sense and fit the facts of the situation. These threats ought to make us have the automatic reactions of fight, flight or freeze. When our fears are justified, we should take action to effect change where we can. This is for our survival and the survival of people we care deeply about.

Perceived threats

There are real threats and then there are perceived threats. Perceived threats are when you’re no longer in the car accident, in the abusive relationship, in the situation that made you feel so threatened and yet, you live as though you’re still in that life-threatening event. Or, your fears are not tied to something that has happened, but a fear that something might happen. You then avoid places, people and activities that might remind you of your fears, examples being you do less because you fear failing or embarrassing yourself in public. When checking the facts of the situation, you realize the probability of something bad happening is very low, or your fears may be unpleasant, but they’re not life-threatening. What are you to do?

Facing perceived threats one of two ways

When your fears are not justified, it is important that you learn to face your fears. I share two approaches here:

  1. Whatever you’re afraid of doing, do it over and over again.* Not kidding you. When there is little evidence for why you should be afraid of something that has occurred in the past or might occur in the future, the way to overcome that fear is to face it head on. Do the very things you want to avoid with consistency. Is it public speaking? Getting behind the steering wheel? Watching certain shows that might be triggering? Take baby steps to overcome your fears by approaching, rather than withdrawing. Overtime, you’ll feel more in control over your fears.
  2. Harry Potter shows us another way to face our fears during a boggart lesson:

We can have a different relationship with our fears.** Put in its original context, Ron’s afraid of spiders, Harry Dementors, and Professor Lupin a full moon. When they cast the spell Riddikulus and envision something humorous, the shape-shifting boggart assumes a comical form. Followed by outright laughter, they had the power to make the boggart disappear!

While we don’t have this power at our disposal during current times, Professor Lupin’s lesson is for all of us. Can we see our fears differently, and therefore, relate with them differently? What if a natural disaster turned into a ribbon twirling performance, social humiliation took the form of people high fiving you, and the car accident transformed into a scene from Fantasia?

Facing your fears together

Don’t let the fears of your fears hold you back! If you need help facing your fears or otherwise make them ridiculous, well, you know where to find me.

* Borrowed from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy
** Borrowed from Acceptance Commitment Therapy


Ada Pang is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond psychotherapy practice in WA. She mostly helps unhappy couples and breast cancer patients. She also loves helping people address fears that hold them back in life. Her favorite Harry Potter films are the Order of the Phoenix and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Her worse fears are, well, she can identify with Ron. 

Marriage Problems after Baby? 11+1 Tips to Stay Connected to your Partner

 Drew Hays/unsplash.com

Drew Hays/unsplash.com

Cover your eyes if you don't want to read this: It's not looking good after kids

Are you having marriage problems now that your baby is born? You're not alone. My husband recently shared with me the CNN article about the steep decline in marital satisfaction following parenthood. I remember reading such research back in grad school, so it was definitely old news. However, it got me thinking whether the decline has to be this drastic.

Ready for your marriage to go down the toilet?

True, parenting is a major life transition, and this complicated by the fact that you don't know who's coming out on the other side and how their temperament might fit with yours, or not. Sleepless nights, little time to yourself, and a disruption to everything you've ever known. Is there still time and energy to connect with your partner?

I want to say yes!

Here are 11+1 tips to stay connected to your partner after baby:

  1. Use humor – if this is your first child, in all likelihood, a lot of things ring true in Brian Gordon's comic about parenthood. Laugh at yourself and with each other. Is it an interesting finding in baby poop that wasn't well digested? Your mismatched socks? Your partner's overgrown beard? Take time to laugh. Don't take yourselves too seriously.
  2. Admire your partner as a co-parent – this will be your first time witnessing your partner as a father/mother. How are they different with the baby? The same? Can you take a moment to watch the two interact from a distance? How does this make you appreciate your partner all the more?
  3. Make use of every moment – is it the first few minutes of your partner walking through the door or when you pass by each other in the hall? Share a touch, a kiss, a something that lets each other know you're still there. These brief moments of connection can go a long way.
  4. Do the little things – aside from sharing a moment in between feedings, what were the little things you used to do for each other, to show that the other mattered? Is it a quick text with Emoticons, picking up his preferred brand of toothpaste, or making coffee in the morning? When you're tired and your patience is thin, knowing that you're remembered keeps you going.
  5. Hire a sitter – take a break, go out, or do nothing. Time away from your kid and chores makes you a better parent, a better partner. If you must use this time to run errands, remember to grab yourself a little treat.
  6. Set up date nights early on – while it can no longer be every Friday, unless you have a plan, months can go by without the comfort and familiarity of time together. Go out for a movie, a nice dinner, a stroll in your neighborhood. While it may seem like you have left someone important at home, taking the time to connect with your partner can make co-parenting more enjoyable.
  7. Focus on each other during date nights – if you're not careful, topics around your kid's music lessons, her playdate with Sally or even how you've organized the baby's drawers can quickly seep into your date night. Set a rule to minimize business talk during your night out. How is the other person doing? What's happening at work? What did you used to talk about before the baby came along? Revisit that.
  8. Take turns baby sitting - “me time” and time with friends are still important, even though you're pooped and your priorities have shifted. Put it on the calendar that the 2nd Tuesday is your coffee night and the 4th Thursday is bball with his buddies. When you encourage personal interests outside of the home as new parents, you're cognizant of each others' needs as individuals. That's another way of giving to each other.
  9. Keep the conversation going – parenting brings out the worse in all of us. Things that work one day no longer works the next because the kid changes on you. Keep talking about expectations around roles, chores, and responsibilities. Be willing to adapt to the needs and preferences of the kid, and each other.
  10. Visit each other at work with the child – you don't have to wait until Bring Your Kids to Work Day. Set an intention that the visit is as much about seeing your kid and showing him around as it is about meeting with your partner midday.
  11. Involve your child – there are ways to be mindful of your partner while you're with your child. You can talk to them early on about mom's favorite food, dad's favorite color, and let the child pick up something at the store for the other parent. That's hopefully sending the message, “I love you and I'm teaching our child ways to love you too.”

And here's a bonus and my all time favorite:

  1. Use terms of endearment – it often pains me to hear partners be called, “mommy” or “daddy” following the birth of a child. What happened to “Babe,” “Honey,” “Wifey” or “Apple Streusel”? Okay, maybe not “Apple Streusel,” but you get the idea. As much as possible, call your partner the names they were once known for. It's a reminder that you were partners before you were parents.

Another bonus: if this is not your first rodeo, here's an earlier post about connecting with your child around bringing home a second baby.

Mitigating the loss

While I won't argue against 30 years of studies that show time and time again a decline in relationship satisfaction following children, I do believe there are ways to soften the blow. Let me know how I can help!


Ada Pang, MS, LMFT is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond counseling practice in WA. She loves helping individuals and couples grow through life transitions, parenthood being one of them. She's usually overjoyed when her husband brings home the occasional dinner. She's a firm believer that we tend to remember the sweet little things.

How Standup Paddle Boarding Informs my Life and Counseling Practice

I'm out and about, living my life and I see stories that tie into how I practice counseling. Here is an example of such.

SUP

I first tried SUP in O'ahu. I took a lesson with my husband, mother-in-law, and brother-in-law and we were in very calm waters inside a canal. I was the only one who didn't fall in. I used to be proud of that, except when I look back, I knew it was because I was the only non-swimmer and was tensed the whole time. I really didn't enjoy the lesson as much as everyone else. They were laughing and splashing around and I was, just scared.

Is it possible that falling into the water is a part of the SUP experience?

SUP + falling

Now a few years later, I've grown less afraid of water and have been out on many more SUP adventures. I've decided that falling in is inevitable: a friend can threaten to tackle me, I can collide into my husband, the currents might be too strong... When I fall in, it is an opportunity for me to work on my chicken, airplane, solider stroke. And while there really isn't a graceful way to fall, it is still preferred to fall directly into the water rather than to hit the board first.

SUP + waves

It's not always calm like the canal. Boats and jet skis pass by, it's breezy, or the water is just choppy. I've learned that if we waited until it's calm, we might never head out.

It's tempting to sit down when the waves come. Sometimes I sit too long before I get back up. And I've tried avoiding the waves, only to have them catch up with me. It seems counter-intuitive, but the most effective way to go through the waves is to face them head on. When I point the nose of my board perpendicular to the waves, while I still feel the motion, I'm actually more stable.

Now I'm not saying there isn't a time and a place to sit and ride out the waves, or even take a break ashore. My husband and I were in Maui and the white caps barely missed us. It wasn't wise to stay out, especially not with a sea-sick husband. But, it's important that that experience did not keep us in the rest of our trip.

SUP + joy

So, what's all the rave about SUP? Why bother? SUP takes us places we couldn't otherwise go. Today, we started out at Madison Park and explored the Arboretum. It was a gorgeous day in Seattle. We got to watch the clouds change patterns, feel the warmth of the sun on our backs, say hello to kayakers and canoers, and explore beneath the 520-bridge. The waters gave a beautiful reflection of the sky and the motion of swaying side-to-side soothed and comforted us.

SUP + life

What parallels am I drawing here? There are times when life is calm. Enjoy those moments. And when it gets rough, know that's also a part of being alive. Falling is inevitable, and getting back up can take a while. After getting back up, it's tempting to stay put so you don't fall again. But when you're sitting down, it's also hard to go very far.

What if feeling the currents of life and feeling off balance at times is a part of living? There's no way around that. And when you try to run away from problems you need to face, they will catch up with you. Like in my previous blog post quoting Robert Frost, it helps to keep going.

That begs the questions, “Where are you heading? What do you want life to be about? Have you let the current of life swept you in another direction? Or, are you distracted by where others are going? Can you pause to orient yourself to where you want to go and keep heading in that direction, even though you can't see very far?”

Focus on what's near you. You can make immediate choices and overcome challenges that will get you closer to where you want to go. Then, remember to zoom out and look ahead. Don't lose sight of where you're heading. You can always change direction based on what you value and the goals you set.

Sure, have your me-time, but know that life is not meant to be journeyed alone. It helps to have someone share with you the joys and the trials. This could be a partner, and it could also be family and friends. In a recent blog post, I talked about why relationships are important.

SUP + psychotherapy

What about my counseling practice? How does this apply? I believe you want your life to matter for something. I want to help you get there, one moment at a time. Try swiping your paddle in the water this way, what happens? If you went back to the gym only 1x/week, what would happen? What if you reached lower with your paddle, how does that affect your speed? If you were to practice this defusion exercise I give you, would you let me know how that worked for you?

Ultimately, you don't HAVE to do anything I ask you to do. After all, I want your life to be about wanting to, rather than having to. However, I'm guessing you want your life to be different, and I would want that for you too. Would you join me in braving the waves, the falling in, while learning ways to face your problems as you live a value-driven life? I'm ready when you are.

Note: while I love being on a SUP, I want to clarify that I don't practice psychotherapy on one. 


Ada Pang, MS, LMFT is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond counseling practice in WA. She has a vision to help people flourish and live vital lives. One thing she loves about SUP is the little waves she creates when she goes perpendicular to the current. It makes her feel like she's chartering a small boat.

 

The Guest House

 Dragan/stock.adobe.com

Dragan/stock.adobe.com

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

- Rumi
 

Break Up Haircut

Relationship ended? Making some drastic changes, to include a hairstyle change? I recently contributed materials to Simplemost as to why women cut their hair after a break up. I have some additional thoughts...

 Alex Holyoake/unsplash.com

Alex Holyoake/unsplash.com

A break up, whether planned or a shock, cordial or full of conflict, is a significant event. It's not uncommon for men and women to make radical changes following a heartbreak. For some women, they cut their hair. Why?

Here are my speculations: 

1) Stereotypically, men like women with long hair. If there's a desire to dissociate yourself from your ex and his preferences, chopping off your hair will make the statement, both to him and yourself.

2) Perhaps you've always wanted a new look but it wasn't preferred by your partner. Now you get to make the decision for yourself. 

3) Look at yourself in the mirror. Short of changing out your wardrobe, your hair is an easy thing you can doing something about. A new hairstyle is not going to solve all of your problems, but it does give you some very visible control over your circumstances.

4) I'm often amazed at how fast my hair grows without me realizing. While that's not always the case for everyone, seeing new growth is also a reminder of the life possible after a break-up. Your hair will grow back, so your heart will also mend. If you keep the same style, growth is less noticeable.

If a new look is not enough to help you move on, let me know!

Bringing (Another) Baby Home

 arekmalang/stock.adobe.com

arekmalang/stock.adobe.com

I was recently asked to comment on how to prepare your child for the arrival of another sib. If it's true that nothing changes the lifestyle of a couple more than the addition of a first baby, then the birth of a sibling must be just as radical for the once-upon-a-time only child. You hear stories of jealousy and parents feeling guilty about not being able to spend as much time with the older child. Know that those moments will naturally happen, and there are also things you can do to make the transition smoother.

  • Keep them in the know: using language that your child would understand, let them know that mommy is prego and the family is expecting another wonderful kiddo!
  • The 9-month period is a process: in the same way you'd go for your ultrasound, go through body changes, and perhaps experience morning sickness, cravings, etc, let your child know that you went through similar and/or different things when pregnant the first time. Talk about your first pregnancy and what that was like.
  • Use other families as examples: talk about uncle Billy or family friend Susie and how there are x number of kids in the home and that makes them siblings.
  • Refer to books: there are a ton of helpful books for children about bringing a baby home. Examples include Babies Don't Eat Pizza, I am a Big Brother, I am a Big Sister, I'm a Big BrotherMy New Baby, and the classic The Berenstain Bears' New Baby
  • Talk about feelings: what is it like for your child to think about having another sibling? Use different mediums to express those feelings, be it drawing, storytelling, acting, etc. Validate all feelings, especially the ones that are hard. Share your own feelings about growing the family.
  • Increase involvement: how would your child like to help decorate the baby's room? What is one or more toy(s) your child would like to put in there? Come feel the baby moving inside mommy's tummy!
  • Anticipate challenges: explain that parents will be busy, sleep deprived and probably crankier, grandma will be over more, and your child won't get as much time with parents, etc. Nonetheless, it doesn't change how much your child is loved.
  • Propose a tentative new routine: bedtime story might be with different adults, 1:1 time to spend with your child might vary depending on the day, etc. Talk about the non-negotiables: your child will still get fed, need to brush their teeth, go to bed...
  • Go over coping skills: in non-urgent situations, and your child wants the attention of pre-occupied adults, what to do instead, for a moment? Color, build Legos, draw, play house...

Enjoy the journey, knowing that the chaos will only be for a while, until you establish a new normal...

Need more support? I love helping people through life transitions! Contact me!