Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maintain Emotional Boundaries with this Gift

This, right here, is my 50th Honest and Gentle post. I'm feeling pretty excited about that. :) To celebrate, I'd like to offer you a gift, a small token of my appreciation for the time that you take to read these posts; something that I feel is particularly useful for folks who care about feelings and empathy (folks like you!). Here's the back story:

A few years ago, I developed a workshop for an organization who's employees were experiencing low morale. Their jobs involved supporting others through difficult times in life and, to put it mildly, it was emotionally draining. They were sometimes treated disrespectfully by the people they were serving. They were told how useless they were, when many of them felt this work was their calling. Even when they weren't taking on direct criticism, they felt bogged down by the emotional struggles of the folks they were serving and they were frustrated by the limitations of what they could do to help.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Respond to Your Pregnant Partner's Emotions

I've shared this before, but it's worth repeating that my pregnancies have been emotional roller coasters, fraught with emotional outbursts. They were rough experiences for me as well as those around me, and especially those closest to me. So, especially difficult on my partner, Jason. During one outburst last year, when he was trying to be helpful, I actually yelled at him, "You're not being helpful at all!"

When he asked what he could do to be helpful, it just frustrated me further. I was so upset that I couldn't think straight and I certainly couldn't feed him the right lines. I eventually calmed down enough to express that thought and to tell him that he was going to have to be resourceful and figure it out on his own. I encouraged him to talk to his friends or google some resources.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Saved by the Poop

The other day I was talking to my mom on the phone and our conversation became heated. We were arguing over the message of a particular news story and, suffice to say, we had two completely different perspectives. It may be helpful to explain that, while my mom and I have a LOT in common, political views are not one of the commonalities.

I was becoming so frustrated that I was close to saying something that would just be hurtful or to hanging up the phone. Exactly one moment before it came to that, Laurel had a big, loud poop. I was sure that it was a blow-out, and I was saved!

Monday, March 24, 2014

He Said, She Said, and Google Glass Recorded

When Jason and I argue, we tend to get caught up in disagreement over the "facts" of our conflict. We remember the order of events differently or we don't remember something we supposedly promised. I feel infuriated when Jason denies saying or doing something that I can remember with perfect clarity and I am equally infuriated when I'm accused of something I can't remember doing or saying. And I don't even notice how hilariously hypocritical that is when I'm in the moment!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cry It Out

I learned a lot about coping with emotional stress during my last pregnancy. I can't say that it was the most stressful period of life I had experienced, but it was up there with the rest of them. And it was certainly the most stressful period when I also had to mother a toddler. I think I was more concerned, during this period than in the past, with working on coping so that I could remain present and protect my sweet daughter from my inner crazies. In any case, I often found myself working through all of my coping tools and eagerly seeking the counsel of anyone who would add to my tool box.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Forgive and Let Go through Empathy

I experienced a good deal of stress the Fall I completed my Master's degree.Thesis deadlines loomed and I often felt panicked, wondering if I could actually complete all the work to be done while also passing as a half-way decent wife and mother. I wasn't sleeping well and when I did sleep, I was having a lot of anxiety dreams. They weren't the kind where you suddenly realize you're naked in a public place or where you show up to an exam and realize you have never been to the class. Instead, I would dream about people from my past. More specifically, they were people with whom I had been very close, but our relationship had ended with some degree of conflict. Dreaming about them was not pleasant and I woke feeling pretty lousy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Do Toddlers and Pregnant Women Have Anything in Common?

Our most recent snowfall, although it did not live up to the hype, was reminding me of Snowmageddon. I was newly pregnant with Cadence during that event and had started to notice some odd effects. For example, while out shoveling snow, I yelled at a guy who didn't clean up after his dog after the dog did its business in front of our house. At first I was friendly and offered to run inside for a plastic bag, but when the guy ignored me and kept walking, I quickly became filled with rage and called the guy an asshole. Loudly - as if I had suddenly lost my internal filter. Then I cried.

I came to think of these outbursts as my "pregnancy rage," which I've written about briefly.

When I was pregnant with Laurel, something occurred to me. I was doing a lot of reading about toddlers, seeking to understand how best to support Cadence as she dealt with her own powerful emotions. I came to understand how toddlers are largely ruled by their limbic systems while higher, executive functions of the brain, like impulse control, develop more slowly. I saw how my own, sweet toddler would be smiling one minute and completely melting into a ball of raw emotion the next and I would think, "Man, that's how I feel." I wondered if our brains looked anything alike at those moments.