Dear Therapist: My Heart is on the Line

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Dear Therapist:

I told my special someone that I love her. Dang! She didn’t return the sentiment. I’m all in and she’s not. What do I do now?

Signed, Heart On the Line

How courageous to have acted on how you felt and let your partner know. Sometimes this is the only way to open up dialogue about where the two of you are in relation to one another.

I hear how “out there” you feel given your partner has not returned her love to you. It may be a good idea to take an honest assessment of the situation – were you surprised or not? Do you feel you are on the same page with one another or did you feel that you are more invested in the two of you than your partner?

These types of questions can help you discern how you are feeling both on the surface and underneath as well. If you are in love with someone, it is natural to express it with freedom and truth. That turning toward love is worthy. Now that you know it is not returned to you in the same way, you can decide how you want to proceed with your partner and/or on your own.

This is a crossroads moment in many ways. Are you willing to wait and see if your feelings will be returned? Is it not enough to be the only one feeling the love at this point? How does your partner feel about your love? Is it prompting her to draw closer or further away from you? Notice how you are feeling as you interact and observe what is happening between the two of you.

Yes, your heart is on the line and now, because of your courageous expression of love, your partner’s truth is also on the line. What you notice and observe about yourself, your partner, and the two of you together will be key to the next steps you take.

Dear Therapist: Maintaining Those Resolutions

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How’s It Going With Those Resolutions?

Dear Therapist:

I made a few resolutions this year. It’s the end of January and I feel like I have pretty much stopped doing them all at this point. I know it’s common enough and it’s almost February. Should I let them go or try to recommit to them again?

This is definitely a common feeling right around this point in the New Year. The excited feeling of creating something new for yourself – whether that be better health or a new habit like reading more – 31 days in and we are reminded just how hard it is to change and make something new stick.

Here’s the first thing I suggest. No matter which way you go – either to keep on trying or to let them go – be kind to yourself. In the totality of the journey we are on, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Do not use this decision to beat yourself up or be miserable.

Second, think about it. You mention you made several resolutions. Often, trying to change too many habits at once is too much and we need to enter the zone gradually. Is there one that feels really good continuing to pursue? Alternatively, do you want to keep pursuing them all and simply recognize the lull in changing? Or do you want to just let them all be and go back to your comfortable ways?

Any of these choices are valid and fine. It really has to do with you and what intuitively feels right as to how you will continue on.

Perhaps you are going to carve out a middle ground for yourself — something beyond any of those options.

Let’s say you had resolved to go to the gym five times per week. Perhaps you do not stick with any set number, but notice when you do go to the gym and count it as a time you cared well for yourself and felt good about going without the pressure of the artificial number. Basically, noticing the changes as they are organically happening. You may have more success taking the pressure off yourself.

Tomorrow, February dawns in 2020. Some of us are continuing the resolutions, many of us are not, and some are in-between. Wherever you are, make the decision that feels right for you at this moment, knowing there is space to change.

Dear Therapist: Procrastination Exhaustion

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Procrastination Exhaustion – It’s Real!

Dear Therapist:

I am the worst procrastinator. Ever since I can remember, I have always put off whatever I need to do. It could be anything from work projects to school papers to getting my errands run on any given day. Help! By the time my back is up against a wall and I have to get it done, I am exhausted from all the energy I put in to not having ever started in the first place. Not good. Is this hopeless or are there any ways I can mitigate my procrastination?

Wow! I hear you! I feel you! Procrastination is a bugaboo that hounds many people. Some will say this is actually how they work best, i.e. putting things off until the last minute and then being forced to get it done (and done well) in a limited period of time.

However, if it is causing you to feel exhausted so that when you have to get to the grocery store because there is no food left in the house or the paper is due tomorrow or your big work presentation is here, then it’s not an effective way to actually work and get things done. Rather, it sounds anxiety provoking, exhausting, and overall stressful.

However, if you have been doing this for most of your life, this is not going to be an easy habit to break. So, my first tip is go slow with this and be gentle on yourself as you work to undertake your tasks over the course of time rather than at the last minute.

Second, it is a mental trick, but one that is helpful. Back up any due date by a couple of days to a full week. If you hear that a due date is Wednesday the 10th, in your mind and in your calendars, make the due date Wednesday the 3rd. When you play this time trick, you will be left with anywhere from a few days to a whole week to get the project/paper completed without procrastinating through the actual due date.

Third, in terms of errands, make a “to do” list for any given day and stick with it. Need to pick up the shirt at the drycleaners today for an event tomorrow? Add it to the “to do” list and get it done – so you can cross it off. Never underestimate the utter gleeful feeling of marking off an item on a list like this. If you think it will be impossible, do you have a partner, friend, roommate who is good at getting tasks done like this and would be willing to help you out? Then delegate and ask if the person can help you out. Perhaps you can offer one of your strengths to them to return the favor.

Procrastination is never fun when it leads to anxiety and exhaustion. Finding solutions to help you out of this loop is key, but remember it will take time. One last thing you may want to ask yourself — how did it all begin with anyway? Thinking about the baseline issue of how it started may also help you gain more of an understanding of yourself as you seek to change the behavior.

Here’s to completing things on time every time without stress, anxiety or exhaustion!