Tag: self-care

A Therapist's Advice for Your Break Up, Separation, or Divorce

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By:  Alexis Pardo, LCSW

Separation is a time that can feel like someone dropped us off in the middle of the ocean and said “swim to shore!” And then we think: Where the eff is the shore? How the eff did I get here? Do I get a float or even a compass? But no one is there to answer your questions. You feel so alone and scared and you have no idea how far away from land you are. 

It’s earth shattering to learn that your partner of X amount of time is not all-in anymore. Often you’ll experience absurd amounts of self-loathing, difficulty sleeping and eating, uncertainty, and  fear. You’re looking at this article because you’re scouring the internet trying to figure out what to do. How do you solve this? Well there are definitely a few tips that might save you some of your sanity in this situation. 

  1. Don’t look up relationship advice.
    Stop looking up how to fix relationships or relationship advice in general! You feel really out of control and this is normal. You did not agree to this so it’s very natural that you want to find a way to take back a little control. This is not going to help you and will only encourage you to take all the blame for the relationship falling apart. It takes two to tango and the responsibility is shared between the both of you. Yes, in general it would be great if you could XYZ in future relationships but if the other person isn’t reciprocating and saying “yes, let’s work on this” then there is no relationship advice that is going to fix this. If they eventually say they want to work on the relationship, then this would be the next step but until then drop it. 

  2. Have compassion.
    Hold your pain with compassion. No, you should not be over this yet. Your partner just left you. That hurts and acknowledging that pain is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. 

  3. Find support.
    Surround yourself with the support of your friends and family. No, you are not a burden - anytime you think you are, express gratitude instead. Everyone needs a little support sometimes. 

  4. Give yourself lots of time.
    Understand that this takes time. You are grieving not only the loss of the relationship but the loss of the future with this person. You will go through the stages of grief. Sometimes you might feel stuck in sadness/depression for a day and the next day you can experience all the stages in one hour. You might feel like you are going crazy but you’re not! Your psyche is trying to make sense of this abrupt loss.

  5. Don’t talk to the kids about it.
    If you have children, I feel for you because you have to be even stronger on days that you feel horrible. Remember to keep them out of this. It does not matter what your partner did, this is an adult matter only. If your children end up being your sounding board, they won’t learn how to process their own feelings. Whether this is their parent or not (i.e., step parent) they also need this time to adjust to these drastic changes. Don’t let them overhear you talking about your partner either. This kind of sharing is damaging and not appropriate. 

  6. Focus on what is within your control.
    Focus on the certainties in your life (work, health, friendships, family, hobbies, your strengths, etc). If things are kind of in the air, it can be scarier so recognizing what’s within your control will really help. You can write a list to keep on you so that when you go down the rabbit hole of despair you can reference this list. You won’t feel 100% better but any percentage improvement is better than the way you feel in that moment. 

  7. Therapy?
    If you need more support, seek a therapist. They can hold that space for you to experience the pain you are experiencing and support you through this. 
  8. You got this!
    Remember that you are worthy of love! This one person doesn’t determine your worth. 

It’s okay to not be okay! This is what it is and what it feels like right now but it will change. I wish you the best with whatever outcome unfolds. 


Alexis Pardo is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Agape Therapy Institute. To learn more about Alexis or to book an appointment with her, visit her page on our website by clicking here or call us at (407) 900-8633 to speak with a Patient Care Coordinator.


Photo Credit:  Pixabay

Tags:

  • anxiety
  • codependency
  • couples therapy
  • depression
  • healing
  • mental health
  • mindfulness
  • psychotherapy
  • relationships
  • self-care
  • stress

Codependency (Part Two): Personal Boundaries

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Codependency (Part Two): Personal Boundaries

by Alexis Pardo, LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Agape Therapy Institute in Downtown Orlando

In codependent relationships personal boundaries can be blurred and the people in the relationships often feel like they are always doing so much for the other person with little return. 

I frequently hear my clients say “I’m ALWAYS doing EVERYTHING for them and they do NOTHING.” With some probing, I frequently hear my clients say that they don’t speak up because they don’t want to make the other person feel bad. In the meantime my client is left feeling taken advantage of because they continue to do things that they don’t want to do but never communicate that with the other person clearly. 

It’s important to remember that it is our job to recognize how much we are willing to do for someone without feeling over extended. It is also our job to communicate what we expect in return. Without doing this, we are engaging in a cognitive distortion called Mind Reading where we expect the other person to inherently know what we think, feel, want and need. 

In these relationships there are often a lot of unsaid expectations, which can result in resentment. My client’s describe this resentment like feeling chronically angry. 

What are personal boundaries?

Boundaries are what we use to set the stage for how we expect to be treated. 

The scariest part about boundaries is that it requires us to be confident enough to walk away or provide consequences if our boundaries are not respected. Boundaries without consequences are just suggestions. 

People with healthy boundaries feel comfortable saying “no” without having to explain themselves. They understand that “No.” is a complete sentence.

Tips for setting boundaries

Practice and plan ahead what you are going to say. This gives us time to rehearse something, especially if it is a new skill you’re developing. It can also make it easier to say out loud when the time comes.

Use ownership language by using the word “I” and not using the word “You”.  For example, “I wont be able to go to the party because of my schedule” vs “You scheduled the party too early, so I can’t make it.”  Blaming others for having to set boundaries is not helpful and can damage your relationship. 

It’s important to think about why setting this boundary is important to you. How does it connect with your values? How are your honoring yourself when you set this boundary?

Be respectful of the other person by avoiding yelling or putting the other person down. Use confident body language but remember that confidence is not the same as aggressive. 

3 Examples:

  1. Respecting Privacy
    Your coworker asks for more details about why you called out sick from work but you don’t want to share every detail about how sick you were. You can say something like “I really appreciate your concern, but I don’t want to talk about it.
  2. Doing things you don’t want to do
    You are invited or asked to do something that you don’t want to do. I have client’s that say yes before they even think about it. In these cases you should practice saying, “Let me think about it,” “Let me check my schedule first” or simply “Maybe.”  This will give you some time and space to really consider if you are able to fit this in and whether or not you actually want to do it. It also gives you the opportunity to figure out if you will need to add any conditions like needing to be done by a certain time. 
  3. Friend asks you for money
    In this situation, I encourage you to remind yourself that “No” is a complete sentence. It is your money and you have no obligation to give it away.  After all, you worked for it. If you are inclined to let someone borrow money, you can clearly state what you expect in return and that the consequence will be no borrowing money in the future. 

Warning: Shameless Plug!

Obviously, I am going to recommend that you seek the help of a therapist. Can you learn to do this on your own? Absolutely, but you got here through years and possibly decades of learned behavior. You will not be able to undo everything you have learned in one day and that goes for therapy as well. 

This is a process of learning how to care for yourself, finding confidence, challenging your limiting beliefs, and learning how to communicate clearly. I do think that you can learn how to set boundaries on your own, but where most people get stuck is on untangling how they got there in the first place. I believe that this is where a therapist can help. Once you learn why you do something, you will be able to make changes from a deeper understanding of yourself. 

Resources

Below are a few books that can help you on your journey to building healthier boundaries: 

Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
The Codependency Recovery Plan by Krystal Mazzola, M.Ed, LMFT
Where to Draw the Line by Anne Katherine

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Alexis Pardo, LCSW is a therapist at Agape Therapy Institute, a not-for-profit outpatient mental health counseling center in Downtown Orlando.  To learn more about Alexis and to book an appointment with her, visit her page on our website by clicking here


Cover photo credit:  Tatiana

Tags:

  • codependency
  • communication
  • counseling
  • couples therapy
  • healing
  • mental health
  • mindfulness
  • psychotherapy
  • self-care

Codependency (Part One)

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Codependency (Part One)

by Alexis Pardo, LCSW

Over the next two posts I’m going to cover codependency and how to start moving towards peace. 

At my office, I see it often: a client who is making up excuses for (fill in the blank: mom, dad, sibling, partner). My clients simultaneously have a strong desire to care for this person, but also find themselves feeling disappointed, frustrated and hurt by this person’s behaviors. They’re left feeling empty, sad, anxious, with low self-esteem, and often questioning themselves and every decision they make. 

Below I detail what codependency is, how to identify codependency in your own life, and how to know when to get help. 

What is codependency? 

Codependency is a learned behavior within dysfunctional families. These people often come from families where their feelings were ignored making it difficult to develop their individuality and healthy ways of expressing themselves. Often this could look like a parent making a child feel responsible for their own feelings. This causes children to be fearful of expressing their needs or feelings for fear that it may upset mom or dad. 

Signs of codependency

  • You feel responsible for other people’s emotions, actions, and life events. 
  • You have difficulty making decisions on your own.
  • You have difficulty saying “no”. 
  • You need approval and recognition.
  • You have difficulty identifying your own feelings. 
  • You fear that expressing your feelings will hurt someone else. 
  • You fear being alone. 
  • You fear rejection if you set boundaries. 
  • You think that setting boundaries is “selfish”. 

Codependency is reversible

It is absolutely possible to reverse these learned behaviors. It takes practice and time. You didn’t become like this overnight, so you have to be patient with yourself. Reading books about codependency, taking actionable steps towards increasing your self-esteem, and possibly seeking the help of a professional (i.e., a therapist) will be necessary. 

Therapists can help by assisting clients in developing self-esteem, undo the limiting beliefs that continue to set them back, and by developing boundaries. 

In part two, I will cover one of the best safeguards against codependency:  Boundaries!

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Alexis Pardo, LCSW is a therapist at Agape Therapy Institute, a not-for-profit outpatient mental health counseling center in Downtown Orlando.  To learn more about Alexis and to book an appointment with her, visit her page on our website by clicking here


Cover photo credit:  Tatiana

Tags:

  • anxiety
  • codependency
  • communication
  • counseling
  • mental health
  • mindfulness
  • psychotherapy
  • self-care
  • trauma
  • trauma

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