I hope you’re snuggled up on a couch somewhere, or maybe still in bed with a cup of steaming coffee (I’m a tea girl myself). This is my third post with Psych Central and I hope to get your neurons firing and thoughts buzzing, I’ve decided to post on one of my favourite topics.
Does that make me boring? Probably. However, when I start seeing a client the first thing I do is gauge how likely they are to commit to the goals they set in therapy. Why? Because therapy is not a passive activity, it’s an active one that takes work, dedication and commitment. There’s a common saying that anything worth having, takes work, and boy do I believe it!
Think of a time in the past when you had a goal set, you were working towards it and then it seemed to become less important and before long it faded into the background behind all the other things in life. One day you realize that you failed to achieve the goal you set and you berate yourself for not being more dedicated.
You begin to make conclusions about yourself and have thoughts such as:
‘I don’t’ have what it takes.’
‘I can’t do this.’
‘I’m a failure.’
‘I’m hopeless at sticking with a goal.’
You might even look at the people around you who were succeeding in their goal setting and you wondered why you didn’t have that secret formula. It’s true that some people are more motivated, ambitious and conscientious, but that doesn’t mean that they use some magic formula to achieve their goals, it just means they have traits that are more conducive to achieving them.
And trust me, if they don’t plan to achieve their goals, they won’t achieve them either.
Luckily, I can give you the formula that those magically gifted people are most likely using.
Your goals need to be SMART.
Why the capitalization? Because SMART is an acronym for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. The criteria for ensuring that any goal set is achieved.
Using SMART goals means that you’ll avoid traps such as; …
Believe it or not, men tend to feel responsible for a lot, and until you probe the depths of their minds (good luck), you’re probably unaware of it. The topics that guys don’t want to talk about are usually the topics that need discussion. And once again, I’m not trying to say all men, just a vast majority.
When a woman brings up ‘the talk’, which usually means going into an in-depth discussion about feelings and relationship processes, guys seem to cower. I mean literally; you can see them squirming in their seats sometimes. Or, if you’ve got something to complain about, depending on the type of man you’re with, they may become defensive, yell at you and try to turn the conversation back on you. Or you’ll get the nod-and-apologize response. Both ways aren’t helpful and leave the women thinking, “Did they really understand what I just said?”
A guy might say, “Yeah, he gets it, look at him nodding.” But hearing and listening are two very different things. The guy needs to listen by repeating back to her what she’s said, by showing her he understands how she arrived at feeling the way she does, and then, if a guy is lucky, she’ll be ready to move onto problem solving.
Whether defensive or overly apologetic (feeling guilty), both of these reactions are unhelpful. Often a woman isn’t intending to lay blame, she just wants to talk about what’s wrong. And guys, if she sees your behaviour as a key player in that, it’s probably just coincidence.
It’s interesting, because this is the time when women need those problem-solving skills from their men. This is the time for guys to engage the woman in finding a solution. She’ll tell you what’s wrong, what you could do better and how that will lead to better outcomes in the relationship (I hope women out there are doing this and not just complaining). But it doesn’t seem like that’s what the man hears. It seems what he hears is:
“You’ve made me upset. You aren’t doing this right. You …
My female clients often complain to me that their husband/boyfriend doesn’t understand their needs. And to be honest, I’ve experienced similar things in my own past relationships. In order to address that though, I would sit my partner down and explain to them what it is I needed from them.
Sometimes this was met with understanding and receptivity, thank goodness, and sometimes it wasn’t (those ones probably didn’t last long).
Regardless of how your man responds, ladies, you’ve got to make it clear to him what it is that you want. See a therapist. If he doesn’t know what you need and then you get upset when your man doesn’t make you happy, it’s hardly his fault then, is it?
How to solve life’s problems is not always obvious. In fact, we often get “stuck” in life, mired down by our past, our experiences, and how we’ve always done things. While most of that works for most of us most of the time, it stops working when our life stops moving forward and instead goes into neutral, wheels spinning.
That’s where counseling and psychotherapy come in. They can often help a person get un-stuck in life, or offer solutions to problems in a way we just hadn’t considered before. A therapist or counselor can’t provide a person with the answers to their problems. But they can provide the tools necessary for a person to find their own answers.
I’m pleased to introduce, A Counselor’s Observations, a blog to help people better understand the solutions and coping skills available to them. This blog will seek to take concepts described in psychology and give real life examples of how these would work, and what you can do to manage them. It will also cover problem-solving, but based on more ‘text-book’ psychological research, not just some individual’s opinion.
Kylie Coulter, B.Psyc (Hons), Dip. Prof. Couns. has been an online therapist for 6 years. She has a Diploma in Professional Counselling and a Honours degree in Psychological Science in Australia. She keeps a regular blog at www.shrinkthink.net and she’s been writing a column on psychology for a magazine called Tweaking Madd.
Please provide a warm Psych Central welcome to Kylie!