Together

We have often heard the question asked, “so what is being married like?” or “how is marriage treating you?”. Depending on who you speak with, you hear varied replies in varied tones.

Marriage, like love, a curious “thingy”, or rather, curious ties/relationship.

There is one reply that catches my attention, “better together”.

Marriage is sometimes perceived as a destination. However, it is more like the start of a different part of a journey with the other person. It is both a statement of “we have decided and arrived at this next part of our journey together” and a statement that “we are doing this next part together”. Some couples stop working together on their relationship after marriage.

Marriage as “better together” does not just happen. I know this seems evident. However, if we were to take a closer look at how we are approaching our marriages at times, some of us do hold the expectation that we will experience “better together” simply because “we are married” and not realise that this “better together” reality requires the efforts of both parties towards the marital relationship to make it come true. And yes, working at the marriage consistently and as best as we can.

There are 3 basic principles that I find helpful and practical towards cherishing and growing the marital relationship (marriage):

  1. Seek to listen to know and understand the situation and your spouse first

Some of us can perhaps attest to experiences like this experience of, “wow, I didn’t know this about you!” and learn new things about ourselves and our spouses, even after years of marriage. I think that is also what makes marriage an ongoing adventure and a journey for two. It is easy to think we already know or jump to conclusions about the situation or our spouse, especially if we have already spent years together. Hold our horses.

Listen to know and understand first, not about getting our points across or to get ourselves ready for our turn and rebuttals. Because we are not really listening when we are busy preparing for our turn.

This helps to save many misunderstandings and correct misconceptions.

2. Adopt the “we-us” position and mindset and speak the language 

To experience the reality of “better together”, first practice the reality of “together”. That we and our spouse are a team, one. So when we think, discuss, evaluate and make decisions, we are considering “us”. It is not “I” versus “You”, or vying to see who wins ultimately. Because in a marriage, when one loses, the other loses too. It is always joint. You are in this together. So, consider “We”.

3. Choose love as often as you can

We always get to choose our responses and attitude though we do not have ultimate or final control over situations and people. Choose the loving way to respond as often as you can towards your spouse. Yes, even when he or she is at fault. Choosing the loving way does not mean we are condoning the wrongs. It simply means we are choosing to respond in a loving way. To build us and the marriage up.

Guess when do we need love the most? It is often when we are at the lowest, darkest, ugliest or loneliest.

And, you know what, love always wins. At least at the end of the day, we can be glad that we have chosen the way of love, though it is not necessarily easier nor “fair”.

Copyright © 2014-2017 Life Pivot Counselling

Disclaimer: This blog and its posts are not treatment recommendations nor claim to represent clinical point of view. The contents of this blog do not replace formal consultation with a mental health or medical professional.

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The Be-ing of Living

Yesterday was “World Suicide Prevention Day”, and I think of the increasing incidents of suicide amongst children and adolescents in Singapore (Read also: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/teen-suicides-highest-in-15-years-but-overall-rate-falls).

Children and adolescents are not “mini adults”. Their cognitive, emotional, moral and social development are ongoing and maturing over time, depending on their individual developmental processes and experiences. In addition, their environment also plays a role in the developmental process.

What has been the predominant focus in our interactions with the young at a micro-level and macro-level? My suspicion is that in some cases performance, abilities and achievements have been the core themes, and expressed in “all-or-nothing” or catastrophic terms, with good intentions and hoping that will motivate them.

The emotional needs of the young are what we need to pay attention to, and arguably, one of the most basic aspects that we need to attend to and nurture. Ask about their feelings, help them identify and understand their emotions and needs, teach them how to express and regulate their feelings appropriately, and how to meet their emotional needs. This will help them in their developmental processes and help them manage and navigate challenges and demands.

We can start the change. We don’t have to have it all together. We can learn.

We show what we care about through the repetitive messages we convey. Let it be evident that we care more about the “being” of the person than the “doing”. When the “being” is taken care of, the “doing” will follow.

Learning with all in this ongoing journey, called life.

 

Copyright © 2014-2017 Life Pivot Counselling

Disclaimer: This blog and its posts are not treatment recommendations nor claim to represent clinical point of view. The contents of this blog do not replace formal consultation with a mental health or medical professional.

Will You Stand?

I have felt judged before. I think most of us have experienced being judged and at some point in time, some of us have been afraid of that. Sometimes, the fear of being judged is so overwhelming that we avoid groups or people altogether. The sting of being judged…

How to respond when we have been judged?

Ask.

Ask yourself: Do you agree? Is that true and accurate of me in this context? What is there to support that judgment? What is there to contradict that judgment?

Feel.

Feel your feelings. How am I feeling? Sad? Angry? Afraid? Confused?

Realize.

Realize that you are still you despite having been judged. Realize you are still here despite being judged. It is okay to feel what you feel from that.

However, how will you want to respond so that it builds you? (And what if the judgment is true?)

Admit.

Admit that you are not perfect. We all aren’t. Admit when we have made mistakes, fallen short or shown our ugliness.

Realize.

Realize that is not the end and all of you. Because right there at that point of “defeat” or “failure” lies the potential for change and growth. And that starts with recognizing where we have fallen.

Choose.

Choose to stand and love yourself, despite, nonetheless. And go through the learning and growing process. Stand by you like you will stand by your close ones even when they have “failed”. Because, in the bad, there is the good mixed in too. And because, we hope. We carry faith.

Be.

Be courageous and know that even when you feel weak, being open to considering standing for and by yourself is a good enough place to start.

Step out of that circle of fear of being judged. Be not the judge either.

Copyright © 2014-2017 Life Pivot Counselling

Disclaimer: This blog and its posts are not treatment recommendations nor claim to represent clinical point of view. The contents of this blog do not replace formal consultation with a mental health or medical professional.

 

Soul Tapestry

“Soul tapestry”.

This title and its theme have been ringing in my head for the past weeks. It is time to attempt articulating that which I would like to express…oh but, like any “soul” experiences, often they are more than words can describe. They are beyond words. Words are not enough. I shall attempt, nonetheless.

It is my belief that we are more than our brain, body, DNA, chemicals, mind, thoughts and emotions. We each have a soul, and there is where that aching for life to be more than it is stems from. Perhaps we can call it “existential restlessness”. It is not easy to be attuned to our souls, when we are caught up mostly in the daily grind of reasoning, logic, thoughts, chatter, activities, tasks, routine, social engagements and busyness etc.

Some experiences I can think of that might resemble “soul” experiences are when we see and touch snow for the very first time, the awe we experienced when we first caught sight of the Grand Canyon, when one awakes after being pronounced brain-dead, when one has an epiphany and life changes thereafter and when a piece of music brings us to tears, to a part of us that we call “deeper”. The “soul” experiences are spiritual in nature. And being spiritual does not necessarily mean religious. There are religious practices void of spirituality. The “soul” experiences are also relational.

I believe in integrating spirituality because at the heart of each of our being lies the soul. By this, I mean paying attention to our souls and having our souls fed too.

There is the weaver, there are the threads through life and there is soul tapestry.

Copyright © 2014-2017 Life Pivot Counselling

Disclaimer: This blog and its posts are not treatment recommendations nor claim to represent clinical point of view. The contents of this blog do not replace formal consultation with a mental health or medical professional.

 

 

 

Profoundly Beautiful

It happened during one Chinese New Year, and I carry the impacts of that experience till today.

It was like any other Chinese New Year of the past years but I was different that year. It was unplanned. I sat in that chair, settling down, and I observed. I was totally tuned in. I tuned in to the conversations happening around me then. I tuned in to what my eyes were taking in…the creases on so-and-so’s forehead, the weakened frame of so-and-so, the changes in people that took place so quietly but appeared so loudly when we met once in a long while, when I tuned in this time round.

One of the greatest gifts that we can receive and give to one another as fellow human beings is the gift of being fully present, the gift of presence. This is when we avail ourselves as fully as we can in the present to the person before us, and we tuned in to that person. Not thinking about what our next reply should be or what we need to get across…but just let the conversation and observation between us unfold naturally. And when that is reciprocated, “magic” happens between and within both parties. And when that is not reciprocated, guess what, you leave with that sense of beauty or goodness that come with the experience of being present.

Having people or a person who is present with us is essential no matter which stage of life we are in or what age we are of. Everyone of us needs this and deserves this.

This world needs more “magic” and more “leaping hearts” (yes, today is 29 February 2016!!)

Wishing you all a magical leap year 2016!

 

Copyright © 2014-2017 Life Pivot Counselling

Disclaimer: This blog and its posts are not treatment recommendations nor claim to represent clinical point of view. The contents of this blog do not replace formal consultation with a mental health or medical professional.

Gifts in Life

The post for December 2015 was delayed but is now ready for the start of a new year. It is timely.

December and a new year are often filled with celebrations whether in our lives or around us. We celebrate the end of a year of hard work, we celebrate union of couples, we celebrate new births, we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate success and the list continues. In the midst of these, we also face and experience losses, disappointments, setbacks, challenges and uncertainties. And at the cusp of a new year, we hope, we wish. We find it easier to celebrate and embrace the “ups” and the “successes”.

To embrace the “downs” and the “failures” can be counter-intuitive to most of us.

What if we were to celebrate and embrace the process of life that each of us get to live each day and the process of becoming the person we come to be each day? The process of life includes the experience of the “mundane”, the “mistakes”, the “failures”, the waiting, the struggle, the process of becoming and the process of coming to know. What if we do not judge ourselves, others and our experiences? But instead observe, come to know and accept our humanity.

As humans, we know in parts and try to gather pieces together. But for life, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Will you celebrate and embrace your process of living through life and your process of becoming who you have come to be in this new year, knowing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in life?

Copyright © 2014-2017 Life Pivot Counselling

Disclaimer: This blog and its posts are not treatment recommendations nor claim to represent clinical point of view. The contents of this blog do not replace formal consultation with a mental health or medical professional.

Because We Are All Precious

I brought the little one for a jab recently. I placed her on the scale to have her weight and height taken. She struggled when she was laid down on the scale. Then, she looked me in the eyes. She was searching for assurance of safety from me whilst she was lying on the scale.

This was a precious profound experience.

I placed my hand on her chest and stroke her, with my eyes meeting hers, I said, “it is okay, it is okay…”

She relaxed.

The importance of having a sense of safety or security never leave us. No matter how old we get and how much we have experienced in life.  However, the foundation we have is crucial, and the foundation of security is built from infancy. Bringing up and helping a child be established in security is of paramount importance to the child’s future development into adulthood.

When a child feels safe, he or she will explore, play, learn and grow.

Infants and very young children look to their caregivers for assurances of safety, and they gain a sense of security from the bonds they form with their main caregivers.

Children look to their caregivers and observe significant people around them. They learn how to evaluate “threats”, handle fears and gain a sense of safety in their environment from their caregivers and the significant people around. They also learn ways of coping in the process.

Parents and caregivers have been given this important and privileged role of helping our precious ones experience safety and security from young. This does not mean that we have to start being overprotective.

What can be helpful is to provide consistent nurturing relationship with your children, right from infancy. Providing assurance of safety when they need it and modeling healthy ways of working through “threats” and fears.

Bringing up a child is challenging yet also rewarding. We may not be perfect parents or caregivers but we can be better attuned and responsive parents or caregivers.

For those of us who are not parents, we also have a “child” within whom we may not be aware of. The interesting thing is whilst we grow to become adults, we always carry “the child in us”.  For some of us, we may have a child within us who has yet to feel secure and safe.

If so, what do we do?

Tend to your inner child, like a loving parent would, and help to reassure.

We feel safe and secure when there is love, and I mean consistent genuine love, as best as we can.

When we feel scared, sometimes, what we need to hear is, “it is okay..it is okay..”

And, sometimes, we need help, support or inputs. Reach out…whether we are parents of our children or the child within.

Copyright © 2014-2017 Life Pivot Counselling

Disclaimer: This blog and its posts are not treatment recommendations nor claim to represent clinical point of view. The contents of this blog do not replace formal consultation with a mental health or medical professional.