Lauren Thomas Hale

7 Ways A Healthy Relationship with Yourself Makes Life Better

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By Lauren Thomas Hale, MA

The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you’ll ever have in your life. It sets the standard for all others. Even so, it’s often the most overlooked relationship.

Having a healthy relationship with yourself can make your life better in a multitude of ways. The greatest thing about establishing this relationship is that it’s all up to you!

If you’re curious about the value of this unique relationship, here are seven benefits just for starters.

1. Establishes Your Core Values

We all have things in life that we value more than anything else. For some, continual learning is important while others place more value on building financial wealth.

Everyone is different. Yet, when you make the effort to get to know yourself, your life makes a shift to align with your core values. As a result, you find more fulfillment and joy in life altogether.

2. You Feel Empowered

Having a healthy relationship with yourself is a lot like learning a new hobby in that it naturally builds your confidence.

Like learning a new language, getting to know yourself can be confusing and downright challenging at times. Still, you continue to practice, and every day you understand just a little bit more.

When your persistence pays off and you realize how “fluent” you have become with yourself, it can feel incredibly empowering, boosting your confidence miles high.

3. Positive Affirmations Boost Self-Esteem

No longer will you think to yourself, “I’m not good enough.”

Having a healthy relationship with yourself means getting to know yourself, respecting and loving the person you are. As a result, the self-doubt inside will begin to feel more like a squeaky mouse in the corner rather than a roaring lion in your face.

Many people start building this healthy relationship by repeating positive affirmations in the mirror. Sound silly? Keep in mind that your body hears and remembers what you say to it. The emotional energy you release matters.

4. It’s Easy to Be Grateful

When you have a better relationship with yourself, you naturally evolve into a more mindful person. You notice more and can tap into more gratitude.

For example, you might have the confidence that you can overcome an obstacle such as the car breaking down. When you do successfully get through the situation, you tend to be more aware of, and grateful for, having a functioning vehicle.

It sounds simple but those in an unhealthy relationship with themselves often overlook the lemonade in life’s lemons.

5. Mental Struggles Decrease

Having a healthy relationship with yourself leaves less room for mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

In fact, when anxiety creeps up or depression attempts to take hold, you are able to recognize it. Furthermore, you are more likely to know what to do to safeguard yourself from mental health concerns. Your regard for yourself and your own needs affords you the ability to seek out time and space to recover should you experience a rotten period in your life or relationships.

6. You Prioritize Self-Care

As you may have guessed, having a healthy relationship with yourself involves taking care of yourself. This means you have the knowledge to develop a customized self-care regime that ensures that you feel your best and live your best life.

Consequently, you’re happier, healthier, and not as likely to fall for the “selfish trap,” thinking that self-care is self-indulgent. Knowing exactly what your mind, body, and spirit needs, you confidently provide yourself with adequate self-preserving activity and solitude.

7. Encourages Meaningful Relationships

As mentioned before, the relationship you have with yourself sets the standard for all others.

With that said, having a healthy relationship with yourself encourages other meaningful relationships in all areas of your life.

There’s a unique personal depth you tap into when you establish a healthy relationship with yourself. This authentically reverberates throughout your entire life, drawing people to you and allowing you to better perceive which relationships are best for you.

Developing a healthy relationship with yourself clearly has its benefits. It is important to be aware that developing it can also uncover present hurts or past wounds. If you need help managing these difficult topics, talk to trusted friends, family, or a mental health counselor.

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For support in navigating your personal story, needs, and goals, please contact Lauren Thomas Hale, MA, LPC Intern, at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. You can call her at (512) 270-4883, ext. 114, or request an appointment through the RCC Austin Scheduling page. We hope to hear from you.

 

Benefits of Premarital Counseling - Training and Tools to Do Your Best in Love

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By Lauren Thomas Hale, MA

Many people cringe when they think about going to couples counseling. There’s a myth that you only go to couples therapy if something is wrong.

Nothing is further from the truth!

Premarital counseling can be an especially helpful tool for preventing problems in your relationship. Why wait until there’s an issue when you can keep issues small and manageable with therapy?

Premarital counseling provides couples with the tools to build a strong foundation for a healthy relationship.

Marriage changes things in your relationship. It can bring up a lot of issues that you may not have dealt with before as a couple. In premarital counseling, you can anticipate, predict, and plan for those issues before you get married. By doing so, you’ll have a realistic sense of what to expect from your marriage. More importantly, you will learn the skills to work through problems while things are still positive in the relationship.

Premarital Counseling for Current Issues

Just because you’re planning to get married soon doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have relationship issues that can be addressed now. Many couples find themselves struggling during the time prior to marriage. The pressure of planning a wedding alone can create stress in the relationship. Therefore, you might first address immediate issues in premarital counseling.

For example, what disagreements do you have about the wedding? Do you both wholeheartedly want to move ahead or do one (or both) of you have some ambivalence? Maybe there is just one nagging thing that is holding you back from setting a date. Premarital counseling can help you address these common concerns.

Plan to Prevent Problems in the Future

Getting married is about blending two lives into one. Each of you has individual hopes, dreams, and goals for the future. Ideally, you both want the same basic things. However, there will always be some areas of disagreement. Premarital counseling provides the perfect place to start working through those potential problems. Some of the things that you might discuss include hopes, expectations, and beliefs about:

  • Managing finances and making financial decisions

  • Issues around having and raising children

  • Gender roles in your home

  • How to celebrate holidays

  • Religious traditions

  • The importance of travel, work, and friendships

  • What your relationship with your in-laws and extended family will be

You may already be aware of potential issues. Counseling gives you tools to work through them. Additionally, a therapist specializing in premarital counseling can help you think about things that you might not yet realize could be a problem in your relationship.

Building Communication Skills in Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling isn’t just about identifying a problem and fixing it. Instead, it’s about learning how to be in a healthy relationship with one another. This begins with communication. If you can learn to communicate about difficult topics, then you are well on your way to handling the many stressors that will arise in your marriage over the years. Learning to do this now, before the two of you have established too many negative communication patterns, can make those issues much easier to navigate.

One thing you might practice in premarital counseling sessions is putting your marriage first. You can learn how to view problems as enemies of the relationship. In other words, arguments won’t be about who “wins” but rather about how to find a solution or compromise that is best for the relationship.

You can learn this and other skills in premarital counseling where you might be encouraged to practice:

  • Accepting and celebrating your differences

  • Authentic sharing of your emotions using “I statements”

  • Listening to your partner with openness and non-judgment

  • Noticing signs that a conversation is going awry so you can take a break

  • Respecting one another despite differences

  • Sharing routines, traditions, and rituals that strengthen the relationship

Premarital counseling is an investment in your relationship now and in the years to come. Attending sessions with your partner indicates how much you value your relationship and want to start your married life together with skills and tools to be sure your marriage remains strong through the years ahead.

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Lauren Thomas Hale, MA, LPC Intern, works with premarital couples at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin as they prepare for their upcoming wedding. Lauren guides couples by giving them any communication and conflict-resolution tools they may need as they embark on the next leg of their relationship journey. If you and your partner want to prepare to tackle any hurdles married life may throw your way, call Lauren at (512) 270-4883, ext. 114, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Reducing Family Arguments, Conflict, and Debate: 5 Tips to Keep Friction to a Minimum

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By Lauren Thomas Hale, MA

A family is a complicated thing.  Gathered around a holiday meal or celebrating a mutual milestone, your family may experience a host of highs and lows as you navigate a myriad of emotions and perspectives about each other’s respective lives.

Family members are usually the people who love us, support us, and encourage us. However, they can also be the people with whom we fight the most.

Why are family arguments often more stressful than other arguments? To start with, it can feel terrible to fight with the people who know us the best. Moreover, your conflicts may be rooted in long-standing, unresolved issues that can bubble to the surface during family gatherings and sudden close, daily interaction.

Even if you aren’t actually discussing those old issues, they can play a role in how you feel about each other. Most of us don’t want to feel resentful or angry with those closest to us. Therefore, it is beneficial to learn how to keep friction to a minimum. Here are five helpful tips for the holidays and beyond:

1. Simply Don’t Engage

It takes two people to argue. If you refuse to participate in the argument, it can’t go anywhere. By not responding or reacting, you diffuse the situation.

Of course, this is much easier said than done. Your family members know exactly how to get under your skin. If they are used to arguing with you in a certain way, then they will be uncomfortable when you don’t engage. Therefore, they may try even harder to pull you into the argument.

If at all possible, disengage. Options include:

  • Taking slow, deep breaths until you can respond calmly

  • Counting backward from ten (or one hundred!)

  • Doing a body scan to notice tension and release it

  • Telling your family member that you need time to think about what they’ve said

  • Respectfully stating that you don’t want to have a disagreement, and calmly walking away

2. Ask Questions

Arguments happen because both people believe they are right. You are each locked into your own positions. Moreover, you are trying to change the other person’s mind. Instead, try becoming curious about the other person’s position. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can work to understand them without trying to change their opinion. As you soften your position by getting to know theirs, they may do the same for you.

3. Use “I” Statements

Speak from a place of your own truth. State what you think, feel, and believe. However, make it clear that you know that this is just your experience. Express an interest in sharing your experience without blaming, shaming, or arguing. Use the following framework:

  • I feel (blank)

  • When (blank happens)

  • This makes me want to (blank)

  • I’d like to do (blank) instead

For example, “I feel anxious when people start raising their voices. This makes me want to run away. I’d like to be able to have a quiet conversation instead.” This is more effective than, “You are so mean, and if you yell at me again, I’m leaving.”

4. Use “Yes, and” Statements

Another effective way to reduce family arguments is to agree with everyone. Acknowledge that they have a valid point of view. Use, “yes, and” statements to convey that you are on their side. At the same time, these statements allow you to speak your truth.

For example, let’s say that your brother-in-law calls you selfish. You can argue until your blue in the face about how unselfish you are. However, he will probably not agree. Instead, try saying, “yes, sometimes I can be a little bit selfish, and I do that because I am scared that if I don’t stand up for myself, then no one else will.”

5. Open Up Communication Slowly and Steadily

The midst of an argument is not the time to resolve big family issues. It takes time and hard work to solve family arguments. Therefore, start slowly. Begin by just opening up to your family members in small ways. Share more of yourself. Over time, it will become easier for everyone to calmly share their truths.

There are many underlying issues that lead to family arguments. Therapy can help you identify the issues, work toward resolution and understanding, and learn how to make family gatherings the joy you know they can be.

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Lauren Thomas Hale, MA, LPC Intern, works with couples and individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Lauren’s use of mindfulness practices in her therapeutic approach helps her clients enter a state of mind which is calm, receptive, and balanced. To schedule your appointment with Lauren, you can reach her at (512) 270-4883, ext. 114, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

Burned Out? Stressed Out? On the Edge of a Blowout? How to Stay Calm at Work

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By Lauren Thomas Hale, MA

Whether you love your job or wish you clocked in elsewhere, burnout happens. “Content” and “calm” are not words that most of us would readily identify with when we are on the clock.

Between busy schedules and demanding projects, it’s easy to feel weighed down by the stresses of the workplace. Unfortunately, many of us don’t handle the pressure well.

Fatigue, exhaustion, extra stress, and even depression are not uncommon among the working population. Furthermore, we often won’t take time to recover. Bottling up stress can lead to reactionary irritation and angry blowouts.

If this pattern continues for too long, you may find that your productivity, work relationships, and career advancement decline quite negatively.

After all, you can’t hold in your feelings forever.

Let’s look at how you can avoid angry blowouts by controlling frustration and promoting relaxation.

Think About Why You’re Angry

Maybe someone’s personality is rubbing you the wrong way. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you wanted. Whatever the case, before you blow up at someone, really think about why you’re angry.

When you take the time to process your anger, you’ll have a better chance of controlling it. More often than not, getting angry isn’t the right solution for your problem. It’s okay to feel frustrated or disappointed, but there are other outlets to manage those feelings.

Control Your Response to Support Calm at Work

Try choosing a positive way to control your response, especially your physical response.

A quick remedy is to immediately start doing something, try taking a walk, counting to ten, or even taking a deep breath. Though simple, these acts will often give you the small bit of space and clarity needed to control your reaction.

However, controlling your responses long-term is easier when you are healthy and taking care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well. Do whatever you need to do to get back to a healthier state, physically and mentally.

Let Go of Situations That Are Out of Your Control

There are some situations in the workplace you can control, and some you can’t.

It’s important to recognize that forfeiting feeling calm at work and getting angry over things you can’t control will never leave you feeling satisfied or better about the situation. Really, it’s a waste of your valuable energy.

Take a look at the situation that is making you angry. If you can’t do anything to resolve it, the best thing you can do is let it go.

If something is in your control and you can resolve it, it’s still best to avoid doing that with anger. Try to look at it from a constructive standpoint, and figure out what you can do to solve the problem.

Talk to Your Employer

Sharing your feelings with your employer can make a big difference.

Talking to your boss or human resources department can foster understanding about your out-of-character behavior. You may both determine that you need some time off or fewer responsibilities.

Many times, employers are willing to work with employees to ensure they’re happy, healthy, and calm at work. Don’t be afraid to approach your boss or supervisor about your fatigue. Chances are, you’ll both come up with tactics that provide you with a measure of contentment and relaxation.

Restoring calm and avoiding anger blowouts at work is, admittedly, easier said than done. Especially if you’re already feeling you’ve reached the end of your line. However, if you take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, you’ll be less likely to experience those pent-up feelings of anger in an ongoing way.

The tools provided by a therapist can help you find calm at work and support well-being wherever you are. Let’s meet for a consultation to help you begin seeking your peace now rather than later.

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Lauren Thomas Hale, MA, LPC Intern, works with adults at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin to help cultivate positive, personal growth and access the inner wisdom that resides in each of us. Lauren’s calm approach to counseling is influenced by her mindfulness practices and her ability to help clients integrate mind and body as they explore their past emotional experiences. To schedule an appointment with Lauren, you can reach her at (512) 270-4883, ext, 114, or request an appointment with her on the RCC Austin Scheduling Page.

Enjoy Every Moment of Life! 3 Keys to Finding Your Path to Personal Growth

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By Lauren Thomas Hale, MA

There are so many articles around about personal growth and living for the moment. Life would be so much easier if we could just follow their advice and—presto!—suddenly be on the right path. Unfortunately, reality just doesn’t work that way.

So how do you find clarity?

Consider all of the things you do in your life. Are they geared towards your enjoyment, fulfillment, or personal growth?

Take a step back and really reflect on this question. Then, try using these three keys to finding your path to personal growth.

1. Locate Where You Are Now

First, take a moment to reflect on where you are now, at this moment.

If you took a snapshot of your life and sent it to your younger self, what would they say?

We all make choices in our lives and those choices affect the paths that we take. Have your choices allowed you to be on the path you want? Or, have things taken a different turn?

Remember that if you are not where you thought you would be, that isn’t bad. In fact, life has a way of revealing new paths to personal growth that you didn’t expect when you first started on this journey.

However, what if you are still unsure of what your path should be?

2. Identify Your Passions

Next, identify what you are passionate about. What is it that really excites you in life?

When pursuing your passion, does time seem to slow down? Do you feel more present and centered in your life?

Remember that your passions can change over time too. When you were much younger maybe you were passionate about watching Saturday-morning cartoons. Now, though, you prefer playing the guitar and building things in your workshop. That’s okay!

Understand what your passions are right now, in this moment, and work from there.

3. Pursue Those Passions

Once you know what your passions are, find ways to pursue them.

It could be that you take a course or class to improve upon a skill. Or, schedule a weekend or even a vacation to go more in-depth with your beloved hobby. This could be anything from scuba diving to line dancing to cheese tasting!

If your passion is your work, consider how to do it better. Perhaps the next step is that you open your own business or expand and grow your existing business. When you think about all the options that are available, the sky really is the limit!

Find Balance with Your Passions

It’s entirely possible that you have passions that are both related to work and recreation. That’s great because it allows you to enjoy more moments in life.

Think about it, you can love what you do for work and still be passionate about your family too.

Finding a balance between work and home allows you to get more enjoyment out of your time and feel more passionate about life as well.

A Word of Advice - Never Settle

We’ll leave you with this word of advice: never to get too complacent with your passions. Remember, there is always room to pursue growth or try something new.

For example, an athlete will love their sport but will also constantly push to achieve a higher level of performance.

Personal growth occurs in much the same way. You can’t grow unless you are challenged. That can mean refining your skills in your current passions or trying something completely new.

When it comes to your personal growth and finding enjoyment in life, the most important factor is identifying and pursuing that which you love to do. Finding your passion will make life enjoyable; maintaining that passion means to constantly be pushing yourself toward new challenges.

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Lauren Thomas Hale, MA, is a licensed professional counselor intern at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. For help identifying your passions and finding your own path to personal growth, request an appointment with Lauren by calling (512) 270-4883, ext.114, or online at the RCC Austin Scheduling page.