Spring into Summer Stress

It is that time of year again. The time that you have been looking forward to, but also dreading…..Finals. Finals signal the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, but that time of the year puts a lot of pressure on students and on their parents.  It is during this time of the year that projects that have been known about all year are finally due. Students often feel burnout at this point and are scrambling to get all of their major projects done as well as studying for their final exams.

Its during this stressful time for students, that parents also feel overwhelmed. Parents want to be there for their child and encourage them to do their best even though they may feel stressed. It is difficult for parents to handle their stressed child. Their children may snap at them or their siblings randomly. It is important that parents take charge and understand why their child is behaving that way.

Stress happens to everyone both young and old. It is important to learn coping skills in order to deal with stressful situations in a healthy way. Going to counseling can provide an opportunity to learn coping skills for stress as well as teach parents how to work with their children who are feeling stressed. Visit http://www.starpointcounselingtampa.com/ to learn more about our counseling services or call 813-244-1251 to schedule an appointment with one of our many great therapists today!

It All Begins With Clear Communication

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Many people will agree that communication is KEY to any relationship. Whether it is with your significant other, family members, or very close friends, you want to have clear and open dialogue. Are experiencing communication blockage in your relationship? You might not be using clean communication. Follow these basic guidelines for cleaner communication:

  1. Avoid using judgmental words.  Avoid using words that convey to your partner that he/she is flawed. Examples: “childish, uncooperative, thoughtless.” These words do not belong in a caring relationship.
  2. Avoid using global labels.  A global label is a generalized disapproval of your partner’s identity. Examples: he or she is “stupid, selfish, lazy, useless.” These labels attack your partner’s person instead of his/her behavior. They convey that your partner is “always” bad. Use of these labels results in a loss of trust and a loss of closeness.
  3. Avoid “you” messages of blame and accusation.  Examples: “You always make us late; you never ask what I want; you never offer to help with chores.” The true meaning behind these “you” messages is: “I’m in pain, and you did it to me.” They also convey the message: “You were bad and wrong for doing this to me.” Instead use “I” messages which show no direct accusation or blaming of your partner. For example: “I feel sad about missing the evening with you when you come home late; I feel tired and irritated when I put the groceries away alone.”
  4. Avoid bringing up the past.  When communicating with your partner, especially while angry, try to stay in the present moment and deal with the current issue. Bringing up past events tends to build up a case against your partner compiling evidence to prove his/her faults. Example: “You did the same thing to me last week, and the week before.” This statement sends the message: “You’ve always had this flaw, and it’s not getting any better.”
  5. Avoid using negative comparisons.  Clean communication is about helping, not hurting your partner. It is meant to resolve conflict by not rejecting your partner. Negative comparisons only seek to punish and attack your partner.
  6. Avoid using threats.  Example: “If you leave this house right now, don’t expect me to be here when you get back.” This sends the message that your partner is bad and you are going to punish him/her. The deliberate intention to hurt is tremendously destructive to your relationship.
  7. Describe your  feelings rather than attack with them.  Using clarifying words to describe your feelings will help your partner to hear and understand you. Statements like: “I am sad, or I am feeling hurt,” are clear ways to express your feelings to your partner. Be mindful of your tone of voice when describing your feelings. Using sarcasm, threatening, or raising your voice can be perceived as an attack on your partner.
  8. Keep your body language open and receptive.  Believe it or not your body language can actually depict whether or not you are open and willing to communicate. Crossing your arms, pinched lips or a tight jaw, or looking away in a disgusted manner are all signs that you do not want to communicate. To portray openness, keep good eye contact, nod or acknowledge while listening, relax your face, uncross your arms, and if you are sitting lean slightly forward.
  9. Use whole messages.  Whole messages consist of observations, thoughts, feelings, and needs or wants. “You’re spending too much time at work” is not an appropriate way to express thoughts in a whole message, because it turns your opinion into  an absolute truth. “I am sensing that the balance is off; I think you need to spend more time at home.” This statement shows that the speaker takes responsibility for his/her own opinion and does not try to make it absolute.
  10. Use clear messages.  A woman who sarcastically says to her partner at the dinner table, “You’re talkative as usual,” may pretend her statement is a simple observation, but the observation is contaminated with judging thoughts, feelings, and needs. A more accurate statement would be clear and whole: “I notice you’re pretty quiet tonight (observation). It makes me think you’re not interested in me (thought), and I feel hurt and a little angry (feeling). I’d really like you to talk with me more (need).”

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Are you using clean communication with those around you and/or with your partner? Call Star point today to set up an appointment with one of our counselors. They can help guide you and your partner (or family members) down the road to cleaner and clearer communication.

McKay, M., Fanning, P. & Paleg, K. (2006). Couple skills: Making your relationship work. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Visit our website to learn more about how a counselor can help: http://www.starpointcounselingbrandon.com, or http://www.starpointcounselingtampa.com

Can we forgive and forget?

When difficult situations arise a common piece of advise people hear is to forgive and forget. What people fail to remember is how difficult it is to forgive someone who has hurt you, especially if they have hurt you more than once. Some people forgive others cheaply, meaning they forgive the offender without any real processing of the emotion or the injury. There are three types of people who usually forgive cheaply: conflict avoiders, passive-agressors, and the self-sacrificers.

So what does the hurt person have to do in order to accept someone’s forgiveness genuinely? The victim must look at their own assumptions about forgiveness and how those assumptions stop them from granting forgiveness. They also need to go through the acceptance process. The person that is to forgive the offender should create opportunities for the offender to make good and help the victim heal.

It is possible to forgive, but it can be difficult. A counselor can help with the forgiveness process. Go to http://www.starpointcounselingtampa.com/ to learn about our services. Call 813-244-1251 for any questions or to schedule an appointment with one of our great counselors today!