Linlea Schwarz

Confidentiality in Relationships: Some Questions Worth Talking About

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By Linlea Schwarz, MA

There are many benefits to being one-half of a couple. Sharing the ups and downs of life with a trusted partner is special and precious.

As couples combine and intertwine their lives, many face the challenge of blurred lines regarding individual privacy.

This sometimes makes it difficult to have big, important conversations with our partners.

Couples and Confidentiality

Every person brings their own set of baggage, problems, concerns, potential secrets, and shame into a relationship. When they become part of a couple, they are working to align their own interests and ideals with those of their partner.

Because communication is an essential foundation for any successful relationship, it is difficult for total individual privacy and personal confidentiality to exist side-by-side. A healthier approach is to have conversations about all aspects of your life with your partner, no matter how challenging. 

Behind each thriving couple are two individual people working together to communicate and openly discuss their lives. Discussing their pasts, fears, dreams, concerns, joys, hopes, ideals, and frustrations leaves little room for secrecy or withholding trust in thriving relationships.  

Asking Hard Questions

If you and your partner are struggling to communicate openly and share all aspects of your lives (past, present, and future), consider the following introductory list of helpful questions. Every one of these topics is important to a healthy relationship, and each one is worthy of discussion:

“Where are we going?” 

Before you can discuss nearly anything else about your future as a couple, it is important to know you are both on the same page about there being a future. You must establish that the two of you are working toward the same goal for your relationship, whether you are dating, engaged, or even married.

“What are your feelings toward finances?”

One of the most dreaded topics of conversation among many couples is finances. Money is often cited as a top reason couples have conflict and even divorce. While it may not be fun and exciting to discuss, it is crucial for you to understand how your partner feels about earning and spending money, carrying debt, sharing expenses, combining finances or keeping them separate or a combination of both, paying bills, large purchases, and saving for the future.

“What makes you feel loved and appreciated?”

One of the best ways you can care for your partner is to learn early in the relationship what makes them feel loved and understood. People give and receive love differently—so you should know the things that validate and comfort your significant other, and communicate to your partner what makes you feel loved.

“What are your ambitions and hopes for your life?”

Although life rarely goes according to our plans, it is still important to have plans. We are often attracted to people who share our dreams and ideals. Therefore, you should know what your partner hopes to get out of life, how to support them in the journey, and be able to express your ambitions and dreams to your partner and receive reciprocal support. 

“How do your values shape the kind of life you want to live?”

A person’s values and moral compass tend to largely define their identity. Your partner’s values will undoubtedly impact your life as well. It is crucial that you discuss topics such as your families of origin, children, faith and spirituality, political views, and what a committed partnership or marriage means to each of you. We often carry our backgrounds and upbringings into our adult relationships, so we must understand our partner’s history and identity.

Opening up to someone else completely and letting go of our own privacy and confidentiality is difficult for many people. Often, the transformation is successful only through years of practice. The important part is to keep trying and to keep speaking honestly with your partner.

If you are struggling with communication, simply try to discuss one question each day until the process becomes easier. If you need help, seek support and guidance in couples counseling. With time, you will develop greater trust in your partner and learn to value the sometimes difficult conversations that bring you closer together in an emotionally intimate bond.


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Linlea Schwarz, MA, LPC Intern, works with couples at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin who may be struggling to have these big conversations with one another. In couples counseling, Linlea helps her clients learn how to communicate effectively, establish trust, and express desires/needs in the relationship. For more help in “asking the hard questions,” schedule an appointment with Linlea by calling her at (512) 270-4883, ext. 118, or request an appointment online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

 

7 Ways A Healthy Relationship with Yourself Makes Life Better

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By Linlea Schwarz, 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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Linlea Schwarz, MA, LPC Intern, works with both couples and individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin. Linlea works with clients to develop a stronger sense of self and find personal empowerment in their lives, which carries over to help strengthen their personal relationships. To schedule an appointment with Linlea, call her at 512-270-4883, ext. 118, or request an appointment online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page.

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

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By Linlea Schwarz, 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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Linlea Schwarz, MA, LPC Intern, works with individuals at the Relationship Counseling Center of Austin who are on their path to personal growth. Whether going through a “quarter life crisis,” a life transition, or just looking for a more fulfulling future, Linlea can help. To schedule an appointment, call her at 512-270-4883, ext. 118, or request an appointment online through the RCC Austin Scheduling page. We hope to hear from you.