Author: Avery

Our parents are our first mirrors. As we grow, we look to our primary caregivers to give us feedback and help guide us through a world unknown. What gets reflected back to us is the basis upon which we form our first self-impressions. Based on these reflections, we begin to develop a self-concept as we identify ourselves more with certain attributes, less with others.

Establishing healthy relationships means establishing healthy boundaries and clear and respectful guidelines for how we want to be treated by others. If you’ve ever been to therapy or read self-help books, you are likely to have come across the term, “setting boundaries”. In the past, I would skim over those words or nod my head in agreement with my therapist without giving this idea much thought. It wasn’t until I found myself exhausted from pouring so much of myself into everyone else, and resentful when I felt mistreated, that I realized I needed to perk up and learn what I could do to set my own boundaries.

Like many couples, Megan and Chris love each other, but they each admit to having communication problems. They recently had a second child and although they are overjoyed with their growing family, they are both handling the stress that accompanies it very differently. Megan describes feeling overwhelmed by taking care of two small children and all of the household responsibilities. She finds that she is increasingly irritable, she cries more easily than before, and often feels like she is failing to meet the growing demands of her family. Megan is hurt and angry that Chris is more distant than he used to be, but every time she asks him what’s wrong, he insists that everything is fine.

Inner child work is something that is typically explored in therapy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Some of the most powerful “soul work” comes from looking at our inner child, or ourselves at various stages in childhood. It is particularly profound when we explore ourselves at a time when we may have experienced trauma of some kind. Trauma evokes such a strong, visceral and emotional reaction within, that it often stays with us for years afterwards and perhaps for an entire lifetime. Trauma doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific event. In fact, a chronic low-grade trauma in childhood such as a neglectful, dismissive or critical parent can yield a similar stress response.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so I thought it was an appropriate time to address the common question as to where to draw the line between problems in a relationship versus abuse. Most people discount the term “abuse” if they have not been physically assaulted. This is unfortunate because many are threatened and intimidated by their partners, but do not realize that it fits an abusive pattern and therefore, they do not seek help. If it feels more comfortable to replace the word “abuse” with “bullying,” go right ahead. What is important is to understand and to digest the information, not the word you choose to use. In addition, I am referring to the abusive partner as “he” and you, the reader, as “she.” However, many men find themselves in abusive relationships and experience difficulty in standing up to their partners, though the reasons for staying in an abusive relationship often differ between the sexes. The behavioral patterns described here can apply to men or to anyone who finds themselves in an abusive dynamic.

“So, how does that make you feel?” This simple question routinely asked by most therapists makes the majority of people cringe. This is because most of us are conditioned to override our feelings and go straight to our thoughts. It’s uncomfortable to talk about feelings because it means being vulnerable, which most of us tend to avoid. This is especially true if we have grown up in families where feelings were not discussed. However, thoughts and feelings are two very different things and it is important to understand the distinction between the two. What is the difference between a thought and a feeling? A thought is an opinion or idea that is produced by thinking. As I type the words on this page, I am thinking about how I want to construct these sentences. A feeling is an emotion, a reaction or our emotional state. As I type the words on this page, I am feeling productive.

I am beginning this blog because I want to share relevant and relatable information on subjects that impact the quality of our lives. My goal is for you to not feel quite so alone in your experiences. I want to provide you with valuable and substantial information, so that you have something to hold on to, especially during difficult times.

Everyone knows that in order for a muscle to get stronger it has to be exercised routinely, not only by incrementally increasing the weight, but also by exercising it in a variety of different ways so that it is consistently challenged.  Our brains are no different. From the second we are born our brains are eagerly engaged, actively absorbing and processing what is going on around us.