Counseling as an Individual Safe Place

There are any number of reasons as to why a person seek out counseling. Whether they decided to attend on their own accord, were referred by a friend, or opted to talk with an unbiased third party, folks have been finding help with counselors for decades. But even almost as unique as the reason for attending in the first place comes the experience in and of itself. Because each person goes into counseling with a specific set of circumstances, the conversations they have while there are just as equally unique and specific.

Which is why, no matter the situation, counseling has long since been seen as a safe haven of sorts. Talking with a counselor means getting advice and help to your most personal events, and it’s important to feel safe while doing so. While going to a friend might come with biased advice or opinions, a counselor can provide an outside view that are relative to the situation. They are also highly trained to help walk through any issue in a safe judgement-free environment.

However, despite this haven-like atmosphere, some still feel uncomfortable when heading into a counseling session. Especially if they have never attended before. If nervous or uneasy about the situation, remember that counselors are there to help and provide a safe sounding board. Not one that will provide backlash or unwanted advice. After all, it’s this safe environment that has allowed so many to work through their feelings in a nurturing place, not one that decreases personal progress.

If you’re considering counseling, get in touch today and learn more about the safe, helping nature that Marriage Counselor Austin has to offer.

Marriage Communication Skills Coaching and Marriage Conflict Skills

If you fight a lot, join us at any of our upcoming workshops or give us a call to schedule an intitial session. 512.653.4316
Speak up; the alternative is grief.

I heard this from a friend recently: “Why is it like pulling teeth to get others to open up and say, ‘I really don’t like it when you…’”
On the same day another friend lamented, “I have so many people in my life who stew, steam, get so mad at someone, and tell everyone except that person.” Both of these people were understandably frustrated at others’ unwillingness or inability to speak their minds. Whether you have problems expressing yourself or you’re frustrated with people in your own life who don’t express themselves, the following suggestions can help you change or understand their experience.

Do you have a difficult time being assertive?
Do you avoid confrontation? Is making decisions a struggle for you? You aren’t alone; many people deal with these challenges. Often we learn to be passive and fearful as a result of childhood relationships in which parents and other adults hold all the power. From the vantage point of a child, the feeling of helpless makes sense. You may have learned to cope by giving in or backing off, rather than “arguing,” or remaining steadfast. You may have been raised by controlling or abusive parents and never learned confidence. Whatever your experience, it’s simple to see that we become what we practice. For you, authority and intimate relationships include both love and danger. The decision to protect yourself by “going along and getting along,” while necessary as a child, is kicking your butt as an adult. Regardless, you can still learn confidence and assertiveness.

Woman with Hands on EyesBeing assertive means speaking up for yourself and confronting difficult situations.
The reason this is difficult for you is that it’s more familiar to you to sulk or pretend “it isn’t such a big deal.” You likely bottle up your emotions, stew until you can’t stand it any longer, and then lash out. That’s your roller-coaster. You probably have what you imagine are good reasons for your behavior. Still, you’re unhappy; you know you have a problem; and you’re afraid to tackle it. Your complaints aren’t doing you any good because the world isn’t going to change for you. It’s time for you to take action, unless you’d rather remain frustrated, indecisive, and scared. What’s your choice? If you’ve truly decided to do something about this, I encourage you to follow this simple recipe.

1. Begin to address simple decisions with authority.
You’ll make mistakes, but the consequences of holding back from these simple choices are much more painful. Make a choice and move on, don’t dwell on “what ifs.”

2. Speak with someone you trust and can confide in; share with her how you’ve been afraid and lacked assertiveness.
Let her know you intend to change this about yourself. Ask if you can begin by being forthcoming about something that’s bothered you in your relationship with her. Hard as this may seem, it’s a small and important stepping stone on a new path.

WomanStrongWeb23. Be on the lookout for similar situations with other friends, family and co-workers.
You’ll find opportunities to express discomfort or frustration – speak up! If you miss a chance and become aware after the fact, prepare yourself mentally for a more assertive response. Do it soon; the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be.

4. You’re likely to find yourself at a loss for words sometimes.
This is to be expected. Think about it or ask a friend for advice about what you could have said. Situations when others are hostile can be especially hard to deal with. This is why you’ve begun with more manageable relationships. “Baby steps” are helpful in building self-confidence for those more challenging encounters.

5. When dealing with a combative person do not justify your actions,
become defensive, validate your view, explain the situation, or deny your behavior. Each of these responses is natural, but will only fuel his anger. Instead, acknowledge facts, verbally recognize his emotion, take responsibility for your choices, and ask what he would like to happen.

6. Assertiveness is not aggressiveness, but it may feel like it.
You’ll feel uncomfortable, maybe even sick, being firm. The discomfort is temporary and a normal response to change. You’re feeling this because you’re being different and stepping out of your comfort zone. Don’t let this stop you.

7. Be respectful in your communication.
Assertiveness isn’t an excuse to be inconsiderate or cruel. However, the pendulum often swings in the other direction; look for balance. Work on being both forthright and kind. This takes practice, and I’m sure you can do it.

David Cantu
Marriage Counselor Austin, Texas
The Art of Communication: Speak Assertively, Kindly, and Effectively – Article © 2009

Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination, Stop Procrastinating Today!

Sometimes things can be tiring, but putting them off is exhausting!

Man SleepingOf all challenges for people, I suspect procrastination is the most common of common denominators.
Think about it, how many people do you know who never struggle with putting things off? How about yourself? Is it a problem for you? In my own life, I’ve dealt with many of my own shortcomings; but until this year the one thing I’ve put off was, you’ve got it, procrastination.

I’ve heard avoidance called many things
, including lack of discipline, putting things off till the last minute, and the thief of time. It’s all of these things, but the definitions don’t solve the problem for us. The one thing I haven’t heard it called is a lack of consciousness. We certainly appear to be conscious when we ignore something, but I think we instead are pushing the thing out of consciousness. By avoiding something, most often we’re trying not to think of it. Instead of accomplishing the task, we see it and then sweep it under the rug – the rug is our consciousness. Following is a simple solution; I encourage you to try it.

HourglassWhen we put things off, we have the feeling that something lurks within us
and keeps us from accomplishing those jobs. This assessment is correct; that “something” is an unwillingness to do what we feel we should do. My solution began innocently a couple years ago. My refrigerator broke down and I didn’t want to fix it. I did things to make me feel that I was working on it, like getting advice from a friend about the problem and buying the broken part and the tools necessary for the repair job. Even though I was taking action, I was still procrastinating. When all was ready, about three days later, I handled the problem differently than usual. Every day for the next nine days I left the repair items in plain sight. Each time I would see them I made a conscious decision: I would say to myself, “I am not going to repair the refrigerator today.” On the surface it may appear that I was still procrastinating, but the difference was that I was now making it a conscious choice. As a result, I didn’t have the nagging feeling that I was putting off something important. On the tenth day I remember looking at my work area and saying, “I’m going to get this thing fixed!” That day I repaired my refrigerator.

Fork in the RoadThe next time you find yourself tempted to put something off, stop
and ask yourself whether you want to do it or not. Voice your decision out loud to yourself or to a friend – don’t just think the choice. The power of this is that by bringing consciousness to your actions, you’re accepting full responsibility for the consequences. You will be much less likely to give yourself grief after you decide not to do something. Self-punishment creates a vicious cycle that burdens you more and more. Consciousness helps break that cycle. You’ll more often find yourself choosing to get things done. A final caution: Don’t expect yourself to change overnight. Be patient.
David Cantu
Marriage Counselor Austin, Texas
It’s Time to Put Off Procrastination! – Article © 2009

Embrace Change, Change Yourself to Change Your Relationship

What is the one indispensable tool for more love, wealth, and happiness? Change yourself – It’s where the action is.

High FiveIs anything as compelling as the keys to a happy life?
We all seek the holy grail of happiness and certainly we’ve each found any number of useful rules, tools, and directions in our search. I’ve identified a few necessary ingredients which are surely familiar to you. “Be true to yourself,” “love and be loved,” “let your light shine,” and “be fearless and bold” are all commands that guide us well on the path to joy. Each one is at once powerful and alluring. “Embrace change” doesn’t sound nearly as enticing; it isn’t a favorite device in my personal quest for happiness; but I find it indispensable.

We make the same crazy mistakes in life because change isn’t fun,
glamorous, or easy; change is hard. Have you ever heard anyone say, “The one thing l love most in life is to change myself?” Fall Canopy Of TreesNot likely, because we all want the easy path. Come on, face it; we want everyone else to change; we want the rest of the world to be different, to bow to our personal whims and desires. Deep in our hearts we believe: “If only people would do what I want, everything would be great!” Ah, but life doesn’t work that way. People are stubborn; they want to live life their way, not ours. We understand this at an intellectual level, but at a practical level we still want them to be different.

So, how to do it? How can you embrace what you don’t want?
Most likely, you won’t – unless you make it fun and interesting. Make change a “want to” rather than a “have to.” It’s all in your head, really. Several years ago I was convinced I couldn’t come up with $700 to take a weekend workshop, so I borrowed the money. After the class, I was so motivated by what I learned that three months later I come up with $11,000 to take the training to teach the class, I didn’t borrow any of it; I earned and raised every penny. Man LeapingWhat was different? I really wanted it. You’re going to find it extremely difficult to change your life and create the happiness you want if you focus on the difficulties and obstacles. The moment you set your sights on the possibilities rather than the challenges, the impossible will begin to become probable.

Stop thinking of change as something that happens “out there,”
and begin to see it as what happens “in here.” Rather than waiting for life to give you something, make yourself into the life you want. Do you want love, wealth, happiness, and health? Great! Be the change to make it happen. Embrace change. You deserve it.
David Cantu
Marriage Counselor Austin, Texas
Embrace Change – Article © 2009

Getting to Know Yourself Better Questions

You cannot be yourself or accomplish your desires without first knowing yourself. ~ David Cantu

1. What’s your greatest aspiration?

2. What can you do to nourish it today?
3. What can you do today to live your passion?
4. At the rate you’re going, what will you accomplish in your lifetime?
5. Doing the same things and expecting different results is insane; what can you do to get out of your comfort zone andQuestion Mark create the results you really want?
6. Think about the times you say no. How would it benefit you to say yes?
7. We fret about, fight over and crave more of it. What’s your relationship with money?
8. You may enjoy getting angry, but it’s not really doing you any good. What do you want when you get angry that you’re not getting?
9. Be real. What can you do instead of worry?
10. You repeat things in your mind. What might you do to end this crippling habit?
11. What do your friends or family complain about you?
12. You don’t need all that stuff you have. Why not get rid of it?
13. What one thing are you willing to improve in your diet or physical regimen?
14. How do the people in your life want to be loved?
15. Hearing is not listening. At least once today, will you practice listening?
16. What can you do to be more accepting and less critical of others?
17. Giving yourself grief is not good. How can you better love yourself?
18. How are you unique?
19. What do your emotions say about you?
20. For what do you pray?

We are each a pebble
Water Dropthrown into a vast ocean. And like the pebble, every one of our actions creates endless waves rippling around the world. Use these questions as a blueprint to change yourself and create awesome ripples in your life. Show your answers to someone who will give you honest feedback. Have a great day!

David Cantu

Marriage Counselor Austin Texas

Get to Know Yourself, Ask Some Questions (Article) © 2003

 

Luke 17:21

For behold, the kingdom of heaven is within you.

X