Happy New Year! Erin A. Alexander, LPC

new year

 

Today is a day of reflection…deeper reflection than my usual goal-setting, solution-focused reflecting. I feel pretty confident that whatever goals I set, they will be accomplished. I don’t get angry with myself anymore, or feel guilty when I don’t complete a goal completely. I know that I at least had the good intentions and drive to get the goals accomplished. I made the honest effort.

 

Today’s reflections are more about being appreciative for all of the wonderful things that have taken place over the year. I do believe that when you have a goal-oriented, solution-focused attitude, you are aligning yourself with blessings. In other words, you are putting yourself in the position for good things to happen when you show by your actions that you want something. This year, the primary accomplishment was going outside of my introverted comfort zone, and making myself more “public”. By taking the initiative with facilitating presentations all over San Antonio, and by engaging in more networking events, I have helped my career. I have also had the privilege of meeting some genuinely kind, down-to-earth people. I am very grateful that these individuals are now part of my life.

 

I am also grateful that I have been able to use my more creative talents more this year, like cooking and writing. I am grateful that I am healthy mentally and physically. I appreciate all of the friend/family support and encouragement.

 

As 2014 approaches, there are new challenges and goals, new things for which I will want to express gratitude. I look forward to them!  May you all have a continued pleasant holiday and a wonderful, safe, productive New Year! Erin

Transition to the Holiday Week

Greetings to everyone:

Today is the last day I will be in the office and/or available to respond to any work-related emails/messages. I have clients scheduled from 1pm to 6pm then I am done for the week. My auto-reply will go on early tomorrow morning. (erin.brighterfuture4u@gmail.com)

Please note that our address will change by the time you return for your next appointment. We will be in the same complex, just in building III, suite 200. Phone numbers are the same.

Also note that I can do video counseling. I have been qualified by Breakthrough Behavioral Health so that it is H.I.P.A.A. compliant. Go to their site to schedule an appointment. They handle all of the scheduling and billing with your insurance company.

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday! I will reply to messages for the rest of today, then again on Monday. Take care, Erin

Erin A. Alexander, LPC-S

Brighter Future E-Counseling

Mailing/Billing address: 7113 San Pedro Ave. #266, San Antonio, TX 78216

NEW Physical address: 5825 Callaghan Rd. #200 Summit III bldg San Antonio, TX 78228
Phone 210-521-4833 Fax (210)521-8561

https://healthyrelationships2013.wordpress.com

http://lpcsupervision.wordpress.com/

My profile: http://alexander.breakthrough.com (I can do VIDEO counseling here)

10 Signs You’re In A Healthy Relationship, by Scott Christ

Healthy couples naturally spend a lot of time together. But they also recognize the importance of doing things separately. Personal space is important in any relationship. We all need time to explore, reflect, and express ourselves individually.

Relationships are tricky. And there are no shortage of unhealthy ones out there. Check out the cover of any gossip magazine if you want proof of that.

All relationships, however, are filled with ups, downs, and in-betweens. So how do you know you’re in a healthy relationship? Find out here.

1. You give each other personal space.

Healthy couples naturally spend a lot of time together. But they also recognize the importance of doing things separately. Personal space is important in any relationship. We all need time to explore, reflect, and express ourselves individually.

2. You trust each other.

Great relationships are built on a foundation of trust. Think about a bad relationship you or a friend has been in. Chances are, there were trust issues. Trusting your partner is vital, and it takes time to build. And this just happen to coincide with our next sign you’re in a healthy relationship:

3. You don’t rush milestones.

Couples in healthy relationships recognize that the best things in life are worth waiting for. That’s why they don’t rush important life milestones. They savor every moment of building a life together and take the time to celebrate the important occasions in life.

4. You can talk about anything.

Healthy couples tell each other everything. Speaking your mind can be incredibly difficult at times, but people in healthy relationships don’t hold back–even when the truth hurts.

5. You inspire each other to be better.

Healthy relationships are also built on mutual motivation and inspiration. Your partner should inspire you to be your best self, to face difficult challenges, and to change the world. Those in unhealthy relationships are content with mediocrity.

6. You appreciate the little things.

Life’s most beautiful moments often sneak up on us and catch us off-guard. Healthy couples recognize and appreciate these moments when they occur. They know the small, seemingly insignificant moments are what makes life worth sharing.

7. You accept each other for who you are.

People in healthy relationships accept each other, flaws and all. This doesn’t mean you should encourage your significant other to accept mediocrity. It does, however, mean you should accept who your partner chooses to be. Remember, there are cracks in everything, but that’s how the light gets in.

8. You hold each other up during tough times.

Life will throw you lemons every now and then. It’s inevitable. A tell-tale sign of a healthy relationship is how you support each other during these trying times. Don’t be afraid to cry together and experience pain and suffering. Tragic events often take our breath away and make us feel like the world around us is caving in. But the fact that you’re still here means you have a 100 percent success rate with overcoming tough times.

9. You’re able to let go of the past.

People in healthy relationships know that failure and mistakes are nothing but pathways to attainment. They don’t let past stumbles dictate their current relationship. We can be hurtful creatures at times. But as long as we use these moments to grow and learn, our relationships can become stronger. This leads into our final sign you’re in a healthy relationship:

10. Your relationshiphas gotten stronger over time.

The ultimate sign of a relationship that’s sustainable for the long-term is that it slowly builds, developing deeper roots with each passing year. There are lots of things that help make this happen (see above). I think most importantly, people in healthy relationships take the time to say (and mean) the following words often:
1.I love you.
2.Thank you.
3.I’m sorry.

I’ll leave you to ponder this quote from the late, great David Foster Wallace.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

Carolyn Hax: A single woman wants to keep the nosy questions at bay during weddings

I was at a wedding recently where family members kept coming up to me and asking me why I wasn’t married and if I had a boyfriend. I’m a 34-year-old single woman and these relatives hadn’t seen me in a few years. I was really uncomfortable with the incessant questioning.

What is a good response when people ask intrusive questions regarding your relationship status? I am really still angry at how rude and insensitive the relatives were and I don’t really plan to go to another family wedding because of this. Am I being too sensitive/overreacting? I see no excuse — I have never gone up to a married couple and asked them why they didn’t have children or something similar, so I don’t see how this behavior is excusable and why I should have to put up with it.

Single at a Wedding

It isn’t excusable and you shouldn’t put up with it, but I hope you won’t keep yourself from occasions you might otherwise enjoy because of it. These people exist whether you stay home or not; think carefully before you hand them any controls over your life.

The truth gives you a range of options when you’re faced with intrusive questions. Take advantage of that from now on whenever people start prying: “You’re the 14th person to ask me that today,” for example, is an important non-answer that gives people a glimpse of the cumulative effect of what they assume is a cute or innocent query. An incredulous, “People still ask that?” gets to the truth of how dated this whole line of questioning is. “I was quizzed so mercilessly on my romantic life at the last wedding that I almost didn’t come to this one” is another truth in need of airing. Then there’s always the Miss Manners staple, “Why do you ask?”

You are under no obligation to be the one who tells any of these truths, and staying home is your prerogative. However, even if staying home is exactly what you want and choose to do, the question will still probably find you anyway, so I suggest being prepared.

Your outrage is completely justified. Since it’s clearly no fun for you to continue harboring it, though, I think you will feel better if you prepare yourself to neutralize future interrogations. That sense of mastery can be the little bit of good that comes from this frustrating experience.

Re: Single:

About the Miss Manners staple, “Why do you ask?”: Lamentably, pushy folks don’t allow themselves to be shut up with gentle responses, and keep on pressing. How do you recommend people deal with those who won’t take the hint to let things go?

Anonymous

“Aren’t you . . .” sweet/funny/curious/determined/[your not-unkind word here], with a smile, and an “Excuse me, I need to rescue a friend.” They don’t have to know that, in this instance, you’re your own friend.

In other words, deflect and exit. You really truly absolutely don’t need to stand there and take it.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at http://bit.ly/haxpost.

The Best Way to Tell if Your Relationship Will Last, by Casey Gueren

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Getting cold feet before your wedding is usually just brushed off as nerves, but new research suggests it might be a really bad sign. When it comes to newlyweds, gut feelings predict future relationship happiness better than self-reported feelings, according to a new study published in the journal Science.

Researchers from Florida State University recruited 135 couples who had been married for less than six months, then surveyed them twice a year for four years. First, they asked the individuals to report on their relationship satisfaction and any problems they were having. Then, they measured their gut-level feelings about their bond by flashing a photo of their spouse on a computer screen, followed by a positive or negative word (like “awesome” or “terrible”). The researchers measured their reaction time as they pressed a button indicating whether the word they saw was positive or negative.

So what does all that button pressing have do with your bond? Previous research has found that our gut-level attitudes make it easier to identify similar gut feelings—for instance, when you’re already anxious, you’re quick to respond to other stressful cues. In this task, if you have good vibes about your spouse, seeing their picture will make you identify the positive words faster. But if you have negative feelings toward them, you’ll be better equipped to identify the negative words quickly.

Here’s where it gets interesting: When they followed up with the couples down the line, their self-reported attitudes as newlyweds were totally unrelated to any changes in marital satisfaction. But the people who showed negative or meh gut feelings during the lab test reported the most marital dissatisfaction four years later.

So can a computer task really tell you if you’re headed for happily ever after? Who knows for sure. But the research suggests that you should tune in to your gut when it comes to your relationships—that big ball of stress in your belly may be trying to tell you something about your bond.

A counselor’s perspective on what a healthy relationship feels like

A counselor’s perspective on what a healthy relationship feels like

 

Many unhappy clients I have met had no real understanding of how a healthy relationship should make them feel. It’s almost like learning how to create a painting without having a clear idea of what the finished painting should look like, and this, of course, doesn’t work very well!

I write about relationships; but I am not writing only about heterosexual married couples. GLBT couples, monogamous couples, polyamorous triads, and even open relationship arrangements can all be perfectly healthy for everyone involved.  All of these relationships will have key ingredients in common.

  1. Healthy relationships are composed of healthy individuals. Each person has a clear idea of his/her values, ambitions, and has a clear idea of the life he or she wants to lead.  A healthy individual takes time to take care of Self…via hobbies, exercise, nutrition, spiritual traditions, etc. He or she also takes responsibility for all facets of his or her life.
  2. At the very core, a healthy relationship is a pact between two healthy people to travel through life together, to confront challenges together, and to encourage each individual to grow to full self-actualization.  These couples understand that the other person will change over time, and will find joy in discovering change and growth in each other.
  3. Every interaction is based on trust and respect, and positive regard for oneself and the other person. Such a relationship will not experience paranoia or jealousy.  The privacy of each person is valued; secretly searching through emails, cell phones, or Facebook accounts shows fear, insecurity, or codependence.
  4. Your partner is your best friend and closest confidant. The bulk of your emotional support should come from your partner. If issues come up, deal with it with your partner. Infidelity happens when one partner replaces emotional support from his or her spouse to the emotional support of someone else (and sex usually follows).  Notice, however, that I stated that most of your emotional support comes from your partner; not all of it. A healthy relationship also leaves plenty of room for family and friends and awesome coworkers and whoever else you encounter.
  5. Guard the authenticity of your relationship every day. Do not let weeks go by without some form of quality time or connection. If there is an unspoken uneasiness between you, you must be brave enough to discuss it. Many unhealthy relationships I have encountered simply wallow for years in miserable apathy. I suppose that staying with the miserable known can seem preferable to facing the scary unknown, but trust me….being a happy single person is FAR preferable to being miserably together. And who knows…you may find you prefer being single!

 

 

So to sum it up, a healthy relationship feels SECURE. There is no second-guessing. Neither partner feels like he or she must perform or somehow earn the other person’s love (This is a major red flag….get thee to counseling). Spending time with your partner emotionally rejuvenates you, refreshes you. You can talk about anything under the sun and explore controversial topics together (most of your conversations should not center on household issues like bills or chores. That’s how the “roommate” feeling is created).

There is lots of laughter, peaceful silences, a balance of closeness and independent space, and each person is free to express his or her thoughts, desires, joys, and fears without fear of rejection or judgment. There are lots of sexual and nonsexual touches. Your home together is warm, inviting, and reflects both of your personalities. You talk about the future and plan it together.  You have adventures together, and can laugh about past mistakes.

 

Why the Holidays are Hazardous to Your Love Life, by Emily Shore

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Tis the season for bad relationship decisions, says a new survey from the dating site PlentyOfFish. Holidays are not only a time for good cheer and gift-giving, it’s also the time for hooking up with old flames and contemplating making out with your boss under the mistletoe.

A survey of 9,000 users ages 20 to 40 revealed that December is not the best month for creating stable, healthy relationships. Apparently, Santa’s sleigh travels down roads that are never, ever meant to be revisited. Amongst the most common poor choices, 26 percent say they have slept with exes over the holidays, and 40 percent say they would like to hook up with their high school sweetheart.

It’s not the combination of copious fruitcake and hearing Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” on loop that impairs people’s decision-making skills (though, let’s be honest, they probably do).

Sarah Gooding, who helped conduct the survey, hypothesizes these behaviors come from a desire for comfort during the holidays. She believes that the holiday season is “designed for people in relationships,” which can make singles feel worse, while also adding “a lot of pressure to feel happy.” Therefore, during the holiday season, it’s not uncommon for people “to revert to things that are comfortable.” For some, that’s eating an entire Yule log. For others, it’s making out with the guy who you de-tagged from all of your Facebook photos six months earlier.

There’s also the not-so-subtle nudges from family members. There are only so many times you can hear Aunt Estelle try to set you up with the grandsons of her Canasta buddies before you’re willing to hook up with your homecoming date who still lives in his parents’ basement.

By the way, singles aren’t the only ones whose loneliness (or fear of it) drive them to harmful relationship behavior. There’s a strong correlation between being willing to stay in bad relationships and a fear of loneliness, and this holds extra true around the holidays. Eighty-nine percent of respondents said that if they were in a bad relationship, they would have to time a break up either before December or stick it out until after New Year’s Eve.

Other than the forced sense of happiness that reminds you of your own flailing relationships or sense of deathly loneliness, the holidays are also a time for over-indulgence. “We’re overspending. We’re overeating,” says Gooding, and, of course, “it’s time with a lot of drinking.”

So often this overindulgence is with coworkers, which is a toxic cocktail for office embarrassment, especially for dudes. Thirty percent of men surveyed say they would hook up with their boss at a holiday party, and 25 percent think the best time to reveal secret romantic feelings to a coworker is at a holiday party.

Of course, the correct response to these acts is hell no! When everyone’s getting drunk fast on a well-drinks-only two-hour open bar, do not attempt to realize your Jim and Pam fantasy.

And while singles are more willing to engage in risky business over the holidays, couples just get more paranoid. Forty-six percent say when they’re away from the people they’re dating over the holidays, they monitor them by checking their Facebook profiles. Many others stalk their Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn profiles, the latter of which seems completely ineffective unless they’re sleeping with a headhunter.

But while our end-of-the-year antics may sour our relationships, reopen old romantic wounds, and ruin work relationships, people seem to always bounce back the following year. Not for nothing does Gooding report a 20 percent spike in membership come January.

This article originally appeared in The Week.

Erin A. Alexander, LPC Posted from WordPress for Android

7 Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship, by Rebecca Lammersen

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I’ve collected a lot of data over the years.

Am I scientist? Nope, I’m just a girl who’s experienced quite a few relationships, talked with a lot of people in and out of relationships, and learned lessons from them all.

My research has spanned over two decades, and recently I’ve come to a conclusion — actually it’s more like a recipe — I like to call HICCUPS. It has seven main ingredients when mixed together, create a healthy, happy long-lasting relationship.

Here are the ingredients:

1. Honesty Love is honest, brutally honest. A relationship built on the foundation of honesty has an indestructible framework of trust.

Honesty and trust breed respect. Respecting your partner is critical. Without respect, love can’t last. Be honest, no matter what. If you are honest and the relationship ends, it is meant to end. If a relationship is meant, nothing you say (if you are speaking truthfully) will cause it to cease. Have faith in the truth.

2. Intellectual Compatibility Two people must be friends in mind, not necessarily like-minded, but equal-minded. The smarty/bimbo combo has a shelf life, a short one.

If you are on the same intellectual wave length, you will always have something to talk and laugh about. In turn, you will never bore of each other — which is vital if you plan to last after your nest empties and erectile dysfunction sets in.

The ability to give each other a mind-gasm is more explosive and longevous than a physical one — it will keep you cumming for a lifetime.

3. Communication “We never argue or fight.” That’s not something to brag about. It’s a red flag.

If a couple doesn’t argue, it is a sign of distrust. One or both members of the relationship are avoiding confrontation, and dismissing their own thoughts and feelings to please their partner in order to escape the discomfort of discourse. These relationships will not last because there is an absence of trust and an overwhelming presence of fear.

Examine your relationship and ask these questions:

Do each of us have the ability to listen and sift through the words, the tears or the yells to see the heart of what our partner is trying to communicate to us?

Are we willing to step outside of our desires to be right and validate each other’s feelings?

For those who are afraid of confrontation, focus on the solution, because it’s not about the argument, it’s the resolution that matters. Healthy relationships allow space for discomfort, because they know their partner is equally as committed to finding a solution. What destroys a relationship is the need to win. What strengthens a relationship is the ability to listen. An argument will dissolve when the people having the argument feel heard.

When each person feels heard, there is peace. When there is peace, there is perspective. With perspective comes an apology. Giving an apology is important, but the acceptance of the apology is more important.

How does the recipient accept the apology? Does he or she accept the apology and release the residue that can lead to a terminal grudge and resentment? If he or she doesn’t accept the apology, contempt will seep into the relationship. Once contempt is present, the relationship is over.

Fighting fairly and honorably is an art. It is a lifelong practice. When partners are committed to the relationship, they will devote to communicating well and approach their disagreements as an opportunity to improve their partnership.

4. Compromise A relationship is only as happy as the least happiest person in it, and the relationship is happiest in the middle of the two people in it. Mature participants of a relationship know sometimes one person has to travel a little farther to the center than the other. They are willing to make the trek, because they trust that the other will do the same when it is their turn.

When compromise is necessary ask yourself, “What matters more to me, my want to get my way or my need for peace? What do I need to do to create harmony right now?”

When you think and act in favor of the well being of your relationship, you will always air in favor of compromise; even if that means you travel a little farther than your partner because you know, if your partner is miserable, you will be, too, and so will your relationship.

5. Understanding You may know your partner now, but you weren’t born into his or her family. You didn’t experience his or her life firsthand. Everyone is formed and conditioned by their circumstance. We are taught how to communicate and function (whether directly or indirectly) by our parents.

You and your partner come to your relationship with different needs and ways of communicating. As his or her partner, it’s imperative you are understanding and accepting of your differences. Instead of expecting them to communicate how you do, study them like a foreign language and learn their language with the same passion you show your favorite hobby. This will keep you from entering the gates of judgment and frustration, as you learn to “speak their language” and love them the way they need to be loved.

6. Patience No one belongs to you. You can’t control anyone either. Despite how hard you try to persuade or manipulate another to respond and react in the way you want, they won’t and they don’t. Everyone thinks, feels and acts in their own way, on their own time.

If you try to rush someone’s process or push them to do something they don’t want to do, they will feel pressured. When a person feels pressured, they feel unsafe, unloved and unable to give love. They will no longer be themselves, and when someone is not themselves, they are not honest. Without honesty, love dies, as will the relationship.

The most important thing you can do for the person you love is give them space. When a person has space, they feel free — free to feel and think, do what they love and be who they are in their own way, on their own time and they will want to share themselves with you. Remember, love is not in a rush, it has all the time in the world.

7. Sex I use the word “sex” to describe the seventh ingredient, but it’s more than just intercourse. It’s affection, touch, attention, warmth and kindness. The ingredient of sex is comprised of reciprocity (an equality of service to one another) and the desire to show your partner he or she is special and wanted by you. When a person feels wanted, they feel safe, loved and free (there’s that freedom part again).

Sex and all its components disappear because the individuals in the relationship stop feeling special, wanted and acknowledged by the other. The feelings of love develop effortlessly, but if you want to keep love alive, you have to maintain it — you must work at it. Relationships demand effort by both people, equally at the same time.

Daily effort applied to a relationship by its partners will lead to a lifetime of love. It can be a simple effort — a gentle touch, a sweet kiss, an arm wrapped around her belly as she washes dishes, or sitting by his side as he reads a book or watches his favorite show. All of these actions are a reminder to your partner –I see you, I acknowledge you, I choose you, I’m trying because I love you and I want to keep loving you.

I’ve been alive for 34.5 years, and I have concluded that love is undefinable. Although I do know one thing I am absolutely sure of, and that is love is a choice.

Loving another person is a moment-by-moment choice. “I choose to love this person with everything I have right now.” If you are in a relationship, I hope you commit to loving your partner with an honest heart, a fully present mind, transparency in feeling and thought, a willingness to compromise (because you understand who they are and what they need to feel loved).

I hope you choose to be patient with their process and you always find the time to express your love with a hug and a kiss, as if this moment is the last time you will ever hold them in your arms. Oh, one last thing, never forget to say I love you — we can never say it too much.

Erin A. Alexander, LPC Posted from WordPress for Android

Thankful for Those in my Life

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I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! We have traditionally viewed Thanksgiving as a time of the year when we remember how much we appreciate who and what we have in our lives.

I spent Thanksgiving day with Rhonda and her family. Rhonda is like a sister to me…we graduated together. I feel so blessed to have her in my life. As I went on my meditative hike today, I thought about all of the wonderful people in my life, and even people who may not be so wonderful, but they have contributed to my being the strong person that I am today. I don’t think I would change the course of things if I could.

I often see quotes about how to essentially “weed” people out of your life when they are not inspirational, or if they are not otherwise contributing to your overall happiness. This is hard to do sometimes, but really necessary if you are to be a whole healthy person. These people still played an important role, because they helped teach you lessons and helped you make better decisions.

So, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned from people who crossed your path?

Erin A. Alexander, LPC Posted from WordPress for Android