Things have really shifted since last week’s announcement of the fist cases of COVID-19 here in the US. Schools have closed, restaurants are only allowed to offer take-out and delivery and many businesses have shifted to online platforms to create continuity for workers and consumers whenever possible.
I have also made the switch to working remotely and am utilizing telehealth platforms to continue to see clients.
I’ll be honest here and say that frankly, I was dreading having to do this. However, I have been pleasantly surprised to say that telehealth works and is quite like the “real thing” of being in the office!
I have gotten similar feedback from clients as they have expressed feeling that our sessions are equally as productive as in-office sessions. Telehealth for the win!
I am using Doxy.me, Zoom (when necessary) and phone sessions (when internet is unavailable).
Looking these definitions for confrontation, particularly that first one, it is easy to see why so many of us “avoid confrontation at all costs,” a quote I hear regularly from my clients.
What is toxic communication?
Toxic communication includes being sarcastic or snide or using critical or demeaning language. Denying another person’s experience as the truth is also toxic. There is a special term for this called gaslighting. Being loud, using invasive body language to intimidate, or closed off body language to avoid absorbing new information are also unhealthy ways to express yourself or deny someone else the ability to share.
Another form of toxic communication is passive aggression. This is sometimes thought of as “The Silent Treatment.” Not saying what is on your mind in an effort to take control of a situation or outcome is also toxic. Withholding hurts and offenses until a specific moment in time when you feel threatened and then unleashing your pent-up feelings in an effort to absolve yourself of any wrongdoing is not only destructive, but often confusing.
It takes courage to talk about feelings, and not everyone has the skill or awareness to honor that vulnerability. Choose your audiences wisely.
Is being assertive the same thing as being aggressive?
No. Being assertive means knowing what you feel and think and communicating those thoughts and feelings in a calm, clear-headed manner while considering the well-being of the person that is listening. It allows both parties to maintain a sense of wholeness and humanness while communicating. No one person is all “right” or all “wrong.”
Sometimes, when there is a lot of emotion around the idea that we have to convey, and we are out of practice with speaking the truth in our hearts, we may struggle with being calm, per se. The first time you say something that has been weighing heavy on your heart it can be incredibly challenging to just get the words out through the emotion. Often these thoughts have been taking up space in your psyche for years. As the quote goes, “your voice may shake” and tears may fall when you begin to express what’s true.
As you practice saying what is true you will find that over time it gets easier.
Being aggressive is an entirely different animal. Aggressive communication lacks awareness, understanding and compassion for your listener’s experience. Aggressive communication can be an effort to vent anger, control another person, or establish superiority.
Being assertive is not the same thing as being aggressive or confrontative. It is a conscious way of connecting with others through conveying ideas that are important and meaningful for you. Assertiveness is the key to Healthy Adult Communication and Healthy Adult Relationships.
You can speak your truth without hostility. Some would even say that in order to enjoy emotionally satisfying relationships you must.
According to Schema Therapy, all of the psychological problems we encounter as adults have their roots in childhood and adolescent experiences. Specifically, there are 5 Core Emotional Needs that all children have, and when those needs are not met, what results is any of a number of different long-standing beliefs and patterns of relating to others aka schemas, technically termed Early Maladaptive Schemas.
Schemas are thoughts, feelings, sensations, core beliefs, images and memories that serve as organizing principles to interpret information and solve problems. They create the condition that we go through life encountering the same types of relationships, or we repeat the same crappy scenarios again and again. Sound familiar? We’ve all got them. As is often discovered with some pain in adulthood, these schemas are dysfunctional and self-defeating.
Schema Therapy aims to increase psychological awareness, increase conscious control over the schemas, and reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of schema-triggers.
I’ll be sharing more about specific schemas including what they look like and how they work. In this post, I am sharing those 5 crucial childhood emotional needs.
The work of getting to know oneself is some of the most important work that we can do. A big part of this process is getting to know your own needs. We are in a time in our culture when we have grown accustomed to deferring to family, friends or the media to tell us what we need (think advertising, tv, radio, the internet, magazines, etc.). This tendency has completely alienated us from ourselves and our true needs.
So often when I ask the question of my clients “what are you needing?” their knee-jerk reaction is one of confusion or surprise. “Am I supposed to know that?” is the implied response.
The process of getting to know our needs serves us, largely, because once we can get clear about what we need, we can employ our natural creativity to begin to find ways to get those needs met. When we have what we need, we feel and exude a sense of peace, wellness and wholeness.
If you have no idea what you need, start with this list. Look at each category of needs and see what resonates for you. What are you longing for in your life?
This list was inspired by the work I do with my brave and beautiful clients in my psychotherapy practice. If you are interested in doing the work of self-exploration and think we would be a good fit for therapeutic work together, you can reach out to me here.
I am excited to announce that Whole Self Therapy will soon be offering therapeutic and psycho-educational groups in addition to one-on-one counseling!
Starting in May, when I will be joining colleague Laura Torres, LPC, RYT, to co-facilitate a group focused on cultivating intuition through guided imagery. This will be a small group held in my office over a four week period on Tuesday evenings. The group will include both a didactic/instructional component as well as an experiential imagery piece and will include some expressive art as well.
If you have an interest in connecting to your own internal wisdom, we hope that you will join us! You can email me here for more information or to sign up.
Anger and sadness are an important part of life, and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment.