Carlene Lehmann

I Hate My Life! I'm Always Alone! How Do I Make A Change?

Hate My Life Make a Change with attribution.jpg

Creating and maintaining a social life can be difficult. Most of us have lost friends over the years, made new ones, and lost some again. We’re busy with work and adulthood, but we still crave the social interaction that friendships provide. During transitional periods of life, it’s common to feel alone or a lack in your social life. In fact, a recent study showed that 72% (almost three quarters!) of Americans experience loneliness. The good thing about loneliness, however, is that there’s a solution to it. Make a change in your social life by trying the following five tips:

Find a cause you care about

Think about what makes your heart hurt – what in this world makes you the most upset? Maybe it’s homeless veterans, maybe it’s children of incarcerated parents, or maybe it’s the suicide rate amongst teens. Find the cause that you’re most passionate about and join an organization that seeks to make a change. You will not only feel more fulfilled by volunteering and truly making a difference, you’ll also meet other people who share this same passion. You’ll associate yourself with people who have a heart for the same things, and you’ll automatically share a deeper connection.

Stop glamorizing social media

Although social media is intended to keep people connected, it ironically leaves most of us feeling even more disconnected. When we log onto Facebook or Instagram, we’re bombarded with our “friends” highlight reels – pictures they’ve posted on their very best days. These pictures aren’t indicators of their day-to-day life, but what they want the social media world to believe their day-to-day looks like. These false perceptions can leave us feeling left out or questioning why our lives don’t look like this as well. Try taking a step back from social media. See it for what it truly is – don’t let these outlets fuel your feelings of loneliness.

Try something new

Exploring a new hobby or rediscovering an old one can help you pursue your interests. Take that art class, sign up for that tennis lesson, or join that book club you’ve had your eye on. Like finding a cause you’re passionate about, when you find a hobby you enjoy, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people. Use technology to your advantage and download a community meet up app to look for local group opportunities.

Take initiative

It’s great to get out and try something new with new people, but how about taking it a step further? Making the first move in any kind of relationship (friendships included!) can feel intimidating, but you’ll never know until you try. Fostering friendships with people who share your interests is rewarding, so ask a new friend to grab lunch after your meetup or coffee before your next class. Extend an olive branch and you may be surprised by how well it’s reciprocated.

Change the way you think

Oftentimes the source of our loneliness stems from the way we think about ourselves, or the way we assume others think of us. For example, we’ve all reached out to somebody to make plans, only to be turned down. But after this happens, what do you take from it? Instead of believing that they already had plans, do you just assume they made it up, so they don’t have to spend time with you? Far too many people get into a rut of loneliness by assuming and ruminating on unproductive thoughts along these lines. Instead of overthinking and worrying that people don’t like you – take their response at face value and try again.

If you’re constantly feeling alone, you can make a change to turn things around. If you don’t know where to begin or need some support in the journey, schedule some time with a counselor or therapist. In the safety of a therapeutic relationship, you can hone your communication skills. Therapy can also help you glean some personal insight that can shore up your self-esteem. When you step outside of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised by how far small, intentional steps can take you.
----------

Contact the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. if making a change in your life is something you want to explore. Call 512-270-4883 to schedule an appointment, or complete the form on the RCC Austin Scheduling page, and someone will contact you for scheduling..

5 Ways Premarital Counseling Can Have A Positive Impact On Your Relationship

Premarital Counseling with attribution.jpg

By Mirela Bitkowski, MA

An engagement is one of the biggest and most exciting steps any relationship can make. But oftentimes people get so wrapped up in the wedding planning, they forget about the marriage planning.

Your wedding is a major event, but it’s also only one day in the life of your relationship; marriage is an event that will take place every day for the rest of your lives. Premarital counseling is one of the best things you can do for the success of your marriage. Read these five ways premarital counseling can positively impact your relationship:

1. Premarital counseling prevents problems before they begin

Many people are hesitant to begin premarital counseling because they don’t have any serious relationship issues at the time. If that’s the case, that’s great! But there are bound to be bumps along the road as your marriage grows. Unless you have specific problems that you and your fiancé want to address, the focus of premarital counseling won’t be on current issues. Instead, attention and awareness will be directed at potential choices, challenges, and problems that might arise down the line. You and your counselor will discuss a wide range of topics, not just your stereotypical counseling subjects. In premarital counseling, many couples find themselves discussing things they never realized could turn into potential challenges in their relationship.

2. Premarital counseling allows you to grow closer

In counseling, the conversation centers on the topics you probably don’t discuss on a day-to-day basis. You will dig deeper and talk about the more serious aspects of sustaining a marriage. Premarital counseling allows you to become more vulnerable and open. You’ll become comfortable sharing things in a monitored setting with a neutral person involved. When you practice openness here, you’ll be more inclined to do so at home, as well. This will strengthen the bond you have and open the dynamic of your marriage moving forward.

3. Premarital counseling can help you plan your future together

Embarking on a marriage journey together is probably new territory for the both of you. Even if you’ve been married before, premarital counseling can help. You and your partner needn’t navigate these waters alone. It’s very common to feel some fear or anxiety amidst the excitement of your wedding day and marriage. These nervous feelings don’t diminish your eagerness to spend the rest of your life together. In premarital counseling, you and your partner will discuss plans for your future so that you aren’t thrown into your marriage unprepared. You will likely discuss things as big as raising children or blending families, dealing with in-laws, and you’re your philosophies for managing joint finances. Or, topics that are seemingly small, incorporating little tips that are proven ways to keep a marriage happy and healthy.

4. In premarital counseling you can seek wisdom

Talking to someone who’s spent time helping couples is a great way to prepare you for your future.  Seeking a counselor who specializes in therapy to help couples before and after marriage is an important step. A counseling professional who specializes in working with couples has the professional education, skills, and experience to be aware of potential challenges that may arise in your relationship. A couples counseling specialist is trained to help you be aware of patterns of interaction with your partner, help you to understand ways of talking to each other that are healthy and positive, those ways of discussion or conflict that can be harmful to your relationship, and the research proven traits of couples who are “masters” at a happy union. Every couple is different, and premarital counseling is not a one-size fit all approach. Together, you and your counselor will come up with a game plan and tailor an approach that’s best for you.

5. Premarital counseling strengthens your relationship skills

Of course, love is important, but love isn’t always enough to sustain a relationship. There are many relational skills you may need to acquire to maintain a healthy marriage. You have probably built some of these skills in the natural course of your relationship, but there may be others that need to be further developed.

In premarital counseling, you will spend time discussing communication within your relationship – what’s working for you, what isn’t, etc. Proper communication is essential for the success of any relationship; by strengthening this skill, you’re less likely to run into problems down the road.

Give yourself, your partner, and your relationship the gift of a few premarital counseling sessions. You will be glad you did!
----------

Mirela+Bitkowski.jpg

Mirela Bitkowski, MA, LPC Intern, works with premarital couples at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. For guidance in preparing for your marriage, contact Mirela at (512) 270-4883, ext. 103, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

PTSD and Trauma: How to Support Someone You Love

Crying Man PTSD Trauma with attribution.jpg

Having a family member or close friend with PTSD and trauma can be hard. More than anything, you want to support and comfort a loved one who is suffering from post-traumatic stress or struggling to recover from a traumatic event. But you don’t know what to do. The usual ways of relating don’t work. You feel almost as hopeless and out of control as you imagine your loved one must be feeling.

What can you do?

Learn

One of the best things you can do is to learn everything you can about PTSD and trauma. You can’t truly know what your loved one is suffering, but being as informed as possible will help you make better choices. Encourage your loved one to get professional help. Facilitate his finding and participating in a support group. Offer to accompany your loved one to the doctor’s office or to support him by keeping track of medicine and appointments.

Listen

Though your instinct may be to take charge or give advice, it’s best to step back and let your loved one indicate how you can help. Your patient willingness to listen without judgment is more valuable than your words of wisdom. Let her know that she can trust you to be there for her.

Beware of Triggers

When you talk, talk positively. Be available when your loved one wants to talk, but don’t push him to talk about the trauma. That may trigger a flashback. Learn what triggers flashbacks so you can help avoid them.

Help with Sociability

PTSD and trauma make socializing difficult. Plan things to do together. Encourage contact with close friends. Family activities like going to dinner or a movie may help to keep things more normal and less stressful. Exercise together: walk, go for a bike ride. Exercise is good for both of you.

Give Space

Don’t try to force your loved one to communicate or to join in activities. He may not want your help or your opinion. Withdrawing is a symptom of PTSD and trauma. He may not feel like talking. Group activities and being around other people may increase his anxiety. But be sure to let him know that you are there to help when he is ready.

Respect

Respect your loved one. Don’t minimize her feelings and symptoms. Don’t belittle what she is going through. Avoid remarks like telling her to “get over it.” This is hurtful and will only make things worse.

Recognize your loved one’s strengths and encourage self-esteem. She is not stupid or weak, she has a medical condition that interferes with her ability to cope the way she could before the trauma happened. Be patient with your loved one’s mistakes. Let her know you care by noticing when things are not going well.

Anger Management

Anger is often a cover for other emotions: grief, helplessness, guilt. If your loved one is having trouble coping with feelings of anger, know that the physical and emotional stress he or she is living with can lead to overreacting to ordinary stressful events.

Watch for the signs of anger: clenched fists, agitation, loud voice. When you see these signs, take steps to defuse the situation. Remain calm yourself. Give your loved one space. Don’t crowd or grab. Ask “What can I do to help you right now?” Suggest a timeout. And put safety first. If you can’t get your loved one to calm down, leave, lock yourself in a room, or call 911 if you fear he may hurt himself or others.

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, remember that you can’t care for someone else if you haven’t dealt with your own health and emotions. Find your own support system. Eat healthy food, get enough sleep. Get others involved in your loved one’s care. Set boundaries.

Believe in your loved one’s ability to recover. Believe in yourself.
----------

Counselors at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin are trained to treat PTSD and trauma. If you are looking for a counselor to walk with you on your journey to recovery from traumatic life events. Contact us for scheduling at 512-270-4883, or complete the form on the RCC Austin Scheduling page and you will be contacted for scheduling.