Survival Tips for the Holiday Season

Did you know that 65% of people with mental health issues report that the holidays worsen them? Even if you are not struggling with significant depression or crippling anxiety, you may feel the stress and overwhelm that come during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. It is two months of overwhelm and possible re-traumatization. 

This can be due to increased loneliness, financial pressures, memories of past trauma, physical exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, and having to engage with challenging people. All these things turn the time of comfort and joy into the holiday blues.

You could take a pass for the holiday season, go on your own vacation, or pretend it is just another day but if you do choose to try and carry out the traditional activities, here are a few ideas to help you survive them: 

Manage your time and take on a manageable amount of things. Prioritize your day-to-day schedule so there is a fair amount of to-do’s each day. Plan ahead and try to avoid cramming everything into the day before. If you can do shopping ahead of time or order things online versus fighting crowds in the stores, do it! You can order complete meals from restaurants or grocery stores. If you can afford that luxury, divide the tasks among friends and family members, so you need to do more. 

Set boundaries that you are comfortable with and help you feel safe and secure. If you or someone in your family struggles with alcohol, set a limit that doesn’t allow it at the holiday party or dinner. Start your festivities early enough so people can go home at a decent time to keep up your rest, enabling you to wind down after. 

Be realistic about your time and energy. You may only be able to visit some friends’ and relatives’ homes during the holidays. It is hard to say no, but you may have to spend one holiday function on one side of the family this year and with the other next year, or Thanksgiving at one home and Christmas at the other. You don’t have to spend the actual holiday date with someone. You can pick the weekend prior or after to celebrate. Financially you may have to do a zoom Christmas with some who live far away and can’t travel during the holidays. We all hated this arrangement during COVID, but it has its benefits. It is better than no contact.

Give yourself the gift of self-care. Take time to relax, plan evenings alone, meditate and pray, exercise and eat well, and get as much sleep as possible. Keep a schedule for personal grooming, warm baths, massages, play with your kids, a book, and your favorite treat. 

Stay connected to positive, healthy people. It is tempting to stop attending church or support groups or cancel therapy appointments. Now is the time you need it more than ever. Your positive connections will help you manage the stressors of all the negative encounters and pressures. 

Keep up or create traditions and rituals. Many families already have specific practices during the holidays. We always cook the turkey a particular way, share about things we are thankful for around the table, do a Christmas puzzle, open stockings the night before, read specific devotions and journals, and attend a Christmas eve service or mass. Setting traditions and rituals provides structure, stability, and positive feelings. If you still need one, create one or add a new one to your holiday activities. Let it remind you of the reason for the season (hint, it isn’t about the presents). 

If you want help managing the stress of the holidays or experience challenging feelings of depression, anxiety, or trauma, let Ron Huxley help you. Schedule a session with him today! 

Oppositional Defiance in Teens

How do you deal with defiance in teenagers? All teens can be defiant some of the time. It can be a sign of healthy development as teens work to assert their own identity, but what happens when it is the daily pattern?

For oppositional behavior to be a true mental health diagnosis, a child must show a pattern of symptoms of angry/irritable, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness for at least six months. Children and adolescents with ODD may have trouble controlling their temper and are disobedient and defy authority figures. Teenagers who present with these symptoms often have a history of depression or anxiety that coincides with this disorder. Treatment and medication that addresses these issues can reduce disruptive behavior as well.

As you can imagine, individuals with oppositional defiance also have problems making or keeping friends, performing in school, and can’t hold on to a job. Big problems with their own emotional regulation create chaos in relationships inside and outside the home.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Parents can learn new skills to manage their child’s disruptive moods and behaviors. Modeling how to collaboratively solve problems and using natural consequences decreases arguments and fights.

Using harsh discipline or aggressive behavior toward teenagers causes the situation to be worse. Authoritarian styles of parenting make get some control of teen behavior in the short term but create more problems over the long term and may ruin relationships with teens as they grow into adulthood. It may push teens into social conduct problems that result in them having trouble with law enforcement and being removed by social services.

Professionals use a “Child Behavior Checklist” to screen for criteria that meet the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders definition of Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Other comorbid disorders may include ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Depressive or Bipolar Disorder, Intellectual Disability, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Language and Expressive Disorders, Social Phobia, and Anxiety.

Individual and group therapy for teenagers can be helpful. Parents can also learn new skills for managing oppositional behaviors. Learning about attachment styles and generational patterns of trauma can also be beneficial. Reading books on normal teen development is also recommended.

If you need more help with your teen or want to learn how to better parent, contact Ron Huxley today and schedule a session.

Top Tips for Resolving Conflicts in Your Relationships

No matter how much you like the other person, at some point, conflict is likely to happen. While most conflicts are fairly small (like trying to decide where to go out for dinner), left untended a conflict can fester and grow. That’s why it’s so important to resolve conflicts in your relationships before they have a chance to take on a life of their own.

How do you go about doing that?

1. Start by listening. But don’t just listen to the spoken words, but the feelings behind them. It’s the emotions that drive the conversation after all! By listening actively, meaning pausing to ask questions, clarify, and to reiterate what you think the other person is saying, you tell the other person that what they have to say matters. But more importantly, you’re letting them know that they’re being heard.

2. Look for the resolution over being right. Giving up the notion that you have to ‘win’ is where you start seeing the solutions. Conflict is not a competition.

3. Stay in the moment. Instead of focusing on what happened that brought you into this conflict, pay attention to what’s going on right now. Now isn’t the time for blame. Rather look for solutions.

4. Decide what’s important right now. That is called ‘picking your battles’ and is important in determining whether a thing is worth fighting over. Ask yourself if this is just an issue over a minor annoyance that will be easily forgotten, or if you have something deeper going on that maybe needs to be addressed.

5. Know how and when to disengage. That means being able to do what it takes to walk away. It might be forgiveness is in order. It might be that you’re just going to need to agree to disagree. Worst case scenario? It might be time just to let the matter go entirely. Whatever the case, there’s nothing to be gained by staying in the conflict. 

Resolving conflicts isn’t a hard skill to learn. By following these tips, you will discover how better to deal with conflict in every kind of relationship – whether business or personal. So take heart – a misunderstanding doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. Instead look at your conflict as a step toward better understanding that will, in turn, lead to better relationships in the long run.

Let Ron Huxley help you resolve conflict in your life by scheduling a session today or take a free course at FamilyHealer.tv

7 Steps in Co-Parenting Negotiation

Co-parenting is a post-divorce parenting arrangement in which both parents agree to participate in their children’s upbringing. The keyword here is “agreement” about what is in the child’s best interest where there are significant hurts, personalities, and values between those parents. Raising children requires a lot, and I mean a lot, of interactions despite getting divorced. 

Because of this challenge, many parents end up parallel parenting vs. co-parenting. Co-parenting is short for cooperative parenting. Sadly, this is often not the case. Parallel parents are both working to raise their children, but they agree that they don’t agree on much. Each home will have its own set of routines, entertainment values, discipline practices, and cultural influences. This agreement to a no agreement lifestyle is a disagreeable way to parent, but parents and children often have no control over it.

Learning how to negotiate becomes an important skill when this is the case. Here are seven steps to better negotiation in co-parenting relationships: 

  1. Name the problem using an “I” statement as in “I feel…when you…and I would like to discuss how…” This format reduces defensiveness and retains a sense of power for the speaker. 
  2. Use reflective listening to convey what is understood. A divorce may involve the decision not to share the intimate connection, but it still requires understanding and validation to maintain mutual respect. Say: “So, what you are saying or asking for is…” 
  3. Brainstorm for solutions that will work for all parties. It may involve creative thinking about alternative solutions. There may be compromise from the original need. 
  4. Choose a solution to try, even if it is not your solution or your first choice.
  5. Review who does what by putting it into writing or communicating before, during, and after the solution. 
  6. Put the solution into action and try it out to see how it works. Stay objective and open-minded. If it doesn’t work, negotiate a new solution. 
  7. Re-evaluate what is working overall, and be honest about what didn’t work and what needs to be changed. Keep the perspective that the other person is not the problem. The problem is the problem. 

To complete these seven steps, parents will have to be self-aware and motivated to keep the children’s needs first. This is hard work and may involve humility that wasn’t present in the relationship before the divorce. Just because people were “terrible” partners in marriage doesn’t mean they cannot grow and be great co-parents after marriage. 

Let Ron Huxley help you negotiate through your difficult situations. Schedule a session today! 

4 Ways to Get Clear on Why You Care So Much 

Caring is an important quality in one’s life. What would the world be like if we didn’t have caring people? Too much caring can create problems, however. Overcaring can cause fatigue, burnout, or secondary trauma, enabling addictive behaviors, preventing healthy child independence, rejection and estrangement from loved ones, and so much more. Finding a healthy balance is essential to living a healthier, happier life. The first step in this process is learning WHY you care so much so that you can find that balance.

Here are four ways to help you get clear on why you care so much that you can use:

Reading

Sounds too simple, right? The truth is that it is that simple…mostly! There are a lot of books and devotionals for people who care too much. Melodie Beattie is one of my favorite authors. She wrote the books Codepency No More, The Language of Letting Go, and Codepence Guilt to the 12 steps. Another classic is Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. I regularly recommend this book to families. Of course, there are other great reads, such as Women Who Do Too Much, Raising Empowered Children, Keeping Your Love On, Caregivers Survival Guide, The Heart of the Caregiver, and so many more.

In addition to books, there are YouTube videos and online courses that you can take to learn healthier caregiving lifestyles. Try one now at FamilyHealer.tv

Journaling 

You can use your computer, buy a specialized journal, or you can simply use a notebook you have created to journal. It’s up to you what type of system you use and whether it’s modern or analog. 

The important part is that you try to use your journal to express your thoughts, emotions, and stream of consciousness about a problem you’re trying to solve or a feeling you’re trying to explore without judgment or censoring. 

Write in your journal every day when you’re trying to understand why you care so much. You may end up discovering your life purpose or a new reason for getting up each day that you had not realized before. 

Become a Patron Sponsor of FamilyHealer.tv and get free journals and many more tools for living a happier life at FamilyHealer.tv

Meditation 

Before you use your journal, it can help to clear your mind using meditation. Meditation practice is all about not thinking and not judging your thoughts or feelings even as they still happen during the meditation. 

Each time you meditate, you can have a purpose of self-discovery or have a goal to clear your mind and relax. To practice this type of meditation, you’ll want to find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lay down. Then concentrate on your goals for the meditation, close your eyes, and start focusing on your breathing. 

Think about the situation you’re trying to understand for a moment, then clear your mind. If any intrusive thoughts come in, brush them aside by refocusing on your breathing. You mustn’t allow any outside information or sensation to distract you during this time. 

Try using an app, like Headspace, Calm, 10% Happier, Stop Breath Think, or Abide.

Therapy 

These days you’re so fortunate because you can get psychological therapy from the comfort of your home using your computer or smartphone. Numerous companies offer this service and varying price points, but you can expect to pay $60 or more per hour to get therapy. In addition, many insurance companies include several sessions as part of your benefits.

If you seek therapy, make sure you find someone experienced working with you on overcoming people-pleasing and putting yourself last in life. Remember, your wants and needs matter too. Most therapists can guide you through the self-discovery process to finally know what you want and feel good about it regardless of the reactions from other people. 

Any or all three of these methods help you become crystal clear regarding your motivations to seek approval from others and even help you stop doing it. Remember, what you want from life is important too, and following someone else’s dreams will never get you what you want and need to feel successful and, more importantly, satisfied and content in your life. 

Let Ron Huxley help you today by scheduling a therapy session online. Just click here to start!

Considering a Life Coach?

Have you ever thought about working with a coach before? If you are serious about achieving your biggest goals, you should seriously consider it. Working with a coach is a great way to boost your results in almost any area of life. Having someone to teach you the ropes, or build more accountability into your life, is a beautiful way to ensure you achieve more. If you wonder if working with a coach could help you, please consider these nine benefits.

2022 Life Coaching on parenting, anxiety, trauma, divorce, reconciliation…
  1. Helps You Define Your Goals
    Many of us have goals, but often they are loosely (or not at all) defined. A coach can help take the hopes and dreams out of your head to create concrete goals. Instead of just wanting something, you start taking tangible steps towards it.
  2. Adds More Accountability to Your Life
    It’s funny, but we have a much easier time letting ourselves down than we do letting others down. Having a coach means one more person in your life you don’t want to let down. You will feel more accountable and be more likely to achieve your goals when you know someone will ask you about your progress.
  3. Encourages You to Define Your Values
    Do you know what you stand for? Maybe a better question is, do you know your core values? Regardless of the question, if you struggle with the answer, a coach can help you. A coach can’t tell you your values, but they can ask you questions that will help you define them yourself.
  4. Helps You See Yourself More Clearly
    A good coach will help you become more self-aware. This self-awareness will allow you to be more honest with yourself. You will know what you are good at and what you aren’t so good at doing. Self-awareness will enable you to double down on your strengths while figuring out how to deal with your weaknesses.
  5. Assists Skill Building and Development
    The most obvious benefit of a coach is their ability to help us build specific skills. For example, if you are interested in becoming a better business person, it makes sense to work with a business coach who has been there and done that. You get to learn from both their experiences and their mistakes.
  6. Offers a Safe Space to Talk About Sensitive Issues
    Whether you find the current world too sensitive or not, it’s a fact that we need to watch the things we say. Having a coach gives you a safe space to talk about more sensitive issues. This doesn’t mean you have a place to barf out all your emotions, but you can at least vent a bit more freely.
  7. Encourages You To Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
    The comfort zone got its name from being comfortable. Once you are in it, you don’t want to get out. A good coach will coax and challenge you to step out of it. Stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while will make it easier to create positive change in your life.
  8. Offers a Different Viewpoint
    When you have a coach, you have someone else to bounce ideas off. It is so easy to get caught up in your tunnel vision that you might not even consider differing opinions. A coach forces you to consider different viewpoints and opinions. It will help you become a more well-rounded individual.
  9. Helps You Make Tough Decisions
    Sometimes it feels like life is nothing but a series of difficult decisions. While this isn’t always true, it has a basis in reality. How much would you like to have someone else talk to about these decisions? A good coach provides that kind of assistance.

Coaching Action Steps:

  1. Take some time to think about different areas of your life that could use a boost. Write these down in a list.
  2. Carefully consider the list from the last step to figure out if a coach, mentor, or teacher could help you in any of these areas.
  3. Choose the area of your life that could most use a coach, and start researching coaching options. If you find a fit right for you, take a chance and reach out.

Let Ron Huxley coach you on parenting, anxiety, and trauma-informed care. With 30 years of experience, Ron can guide you to a more stable, productive life…Click here now to schedule an appointment.

6 Tips for Better Relationships Today!

There are some things we can do in all our relationships to build and maintain strong bonds. This is true because underneath all our differences, likes, dislikes, and biases, we are all human beings who desire social connections. The tips below should be used in all your relationships to form bonds that will stand the test of time.

  1. Be appreciative

This might mean different things in different relationships, but the overarching sentiment is the same. When they do something kind for you or take the time to support you when you need it, be appreciative – acknowledge their care and concern.

2. Spend time together

It can be hard to find time to get together when we are all so busy, but it’s important for all relationships. If necessary, set up a standing appointment so that it just automatically happens. This makes sure it happens because you will get used to scheduling other things around it. 

3. Communicate honestly

Sometimes you may be tempted to bend the truth to avoid conflict, but your relationships will be much healthier overall if honesty is held in high regard. It’s possible, to be honest without being brutal. Choose your words carefully and be as diplomatic as possible, while still sharing your feelings openly and honestly.

4. Forgive faults

Forgive them for their eccentricities and annoying habits, and also forgive yourself for any mistakes you make. We all have faults and shortcomings that we bring with us into any relationship. Sometimes to keep the relationship strong, we need to just come to the conclusion that their presence in our lives is more important than the little habits that drive us crazy.

5. Support them

Intermingled between all the good times, there will surely be times when the other person could use a helping hand. Whether it’s helping them move, taking them dinner when a loved one has passed or being a sounding board for a difficult decision, any relationship worth having requires some TLC. And the other person deserves it, just as you do when you need it from them.

6. Do unto others

It’s just a good idea to always live by the Golden Rule, but it’s especially true in relationships that are important to us. If you wonder if something you might do is likely to upset them, chances are it’s better to talk to them about it first. Wouldn’t you want them to do the same for you? It’s better to err on the side of caution.

Get deeper relational repair with Ron Huxley. Schedule an online appointment today: Click here now!

Conflictual coparenting is under an illusion

conflictual divorce and coparenting

Conflictual coparenting acts like it is a form of competition but that is an illusion. High levels of conflict has no winners, only losers! Parents fight to one up each other or get revenge for past hurts and this includes the children.

Most mediators, myself included, want parents to put the “best interests of the child” first but this is difficult for parents to do when consumed by anger and resentments. The costs are high, and not just financially with on-going court costs. The emotional costs are high for everyone. Research is clear that children who go through long-term, conflictual divorce, are negatively impacted. There is the risk that children will have severe mental health issues into adulthood.

The legal definition of the “best interests of the child” is about who the child belongs to…the psychological definition of the “best interests of the child” is who belongs to the child. There is a big difference between these two definitions but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive of each other. Setting boundaries, using strength-based language, and keeping the needs of the child paramount will help a true cooperative parenting process.

The best way for parents to reduce conflict is to learn to manage themselves. Keeping the focus on personal healing and not on how the other parent should act or be. Managing ourselves is the only guarantee that we can have of making the coparenting relationship healthy.

Get more support and help with your coparenting conflict with a session with Ron Huxley today.

Parental Alienation in Modern-Day Divorce

Parental alienation is a controversial diagnosis but a common concern in modern-day divorce. Psychology and legal professions disagree on using the term Parental Alienation. Still, both fields recognize the harm that parents can do to one another and their children in a high-conflict divorce.

What is parental alienation, and why is it so controversial? According to Wikipedia, parental alienation “describes a process through which a child becomes estranged from a parent due to the psychological manipulation of another parent. The child’s estrangement may manifest itself as fear, disrespect, or hostility toward the distant parent and may extend to additional relatives or parties.”

The controversy involves whether this action is a form of child abuse, family violence, or a criminal act. It should not be used as a formal diagnosis and may not be allowable in a legal court battle. However, it is useful to know the behavioral characteristics of a parent or child to navigate this painful reality of modern-day divorce.

“The theory of parental alienation has been asserted within legal proceedings as a basis for awarding custody to a parent who alleges estrangement, or to modify custody in favor of that parent. Courts have generally rejected parental alienation as a valid scientific theory. Still, some courts have allowed the concept to be argued as relevant to determining the child’s best interest when making a custody determination. Legal professionals recognize that alienating behaviors are common in child custody cases, but are cautious about accepting the concept of parental alienation.” (Wikipedia)

Parental alienation places the child in a “loyalty bind” where they must choose between parents. To resolve this inner conflict, they will start to prefer one parent over the other. They may refuse to go with the non-preferred parents when it is their time for custody, and they may make false claims or accusations against the non-preferred parent.

One reason for alienation and loyalty binds is to view what is in the “best interest” from a legal vs. a psychological perspective. From a legal view, child custody is determined by “who the child belongs to” vs. a psychological view of “who belongs to the child.”

This is not merely semantics. Many people could belong to the child’s emotional security. The legal viewpoint is rigid and creates one winner and multiple losers in the custody situation.

In high-conflict divorce situations where alienation may occur, all family members can engage professional support and guidance. Family therapists and mediators can be essential to reduce estrangement and manipulation and set a straightforward course of behaviors to prevent harm to children and their parents.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_alienation#:~:text=Parental%20alienation%20describes%20a%20process,to%20additional%20relatives%20or%20parties.

The NonTraditional Family Toolbox (Free Report)

You can find your balance of Love and Limits in your family…not matter what type of family you are.

Balancing love and limits in discipline is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting. Love and limits refer to different styles of parenting with love representative of a “permissive” or child-centered style of parenting and limits representative of “authoritative” or parent-centered style. Each style is based on a set of beliefs, in the parent, about what it means to be a good parent. No one wants to be a bad parent. They adopt a style that they feel best meets the goal of parenting to raise children that are able to manage themselves and function productively in the world.

Finding this balance can be challenging for nontraditional family. This is particularly true when parenting partners’ do not agree on how to discipline. One parent may advocate a stricter approach in contrast to the other partners more permissive approach. Children will use this split to divide and conquer the family. Given that many nontraditional families are already dealing with losses, confusing parenting roles will only add to the grief. Learning to co-parent will help heal the heart and the home.

Download the NonTraditional Family Toolbox report by clicking here!