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Healthy, happy couple - April Wright Therapy

The Four Taboos of Communication – Rule #2 — No Demanding

Research has come a long way since the 1960’s when the book The Mirages of Marriage by Don Jackson and William Lederer expressed that distressed marriages lacked a contract based on rewards and positive feelings.  It was suggested that partners negotiate a contract based out of self-interest to arrive at the best deal. Therapy approaches also recommended couples to designate a day of thoughtful exchanges.

Couples therapists now recommend couples work together with mutual trust and with shared meaning and purpose. Psychologists suggest partners act nice to each other not out of self-interest but out of mutual interest.  Furthermore, professionals advise spouses to express emotions in a committed safe haven of trust, curiosity, and validation.

The ingredients for not only loving but being in love with your partner resides with good conflict-resolution skills and daily emotional connection where calmly talking, listening, cuddling and saying, “I love you” and meaning it occurs.  Cuddling is important because it secretes oxytocin, the chemical that creates bonding and a great sex life.

The components to creating a healthy, happy relationship may sound overwhelming. It’s really quite simple.  It starts with some basic communication rules.  The guidelines include staying away from the four taboos of communication.

  1.    Criticism
  2.    Demanding
  3.    Defensiveness
  4.    Angry outburst

I discussed the menaces of criticism and how it leads to a hostile environment causing distance, distrust, and defensiveness.  The second communication pitfall to avoid is making a demand.

What is a demand?

A demand is a forceful request based on self-interest.  The act of a demand is being domineering, controlling, and forceful.  Similar to criticism, demanding something of your spouse is not constructive and does not have the mutual interest of the relationship in mind.

Demanding actions of your significant other commonly results in a passive-aggressive partner.  Passive-aggressive behavior is a defense mechanism to punish you for your demands.  Relationships that resort to demanding and retorting passive-aggressive behavior turn into a vicious cycle of retaliation, intense anger, and distance.

The solution is to pause before speaking when a demand enters your mind.  You may ask for a time-out and express that you can reconvene in an hour or whatever particular timeframe you need to speak calmly and express what triggered the demand.   Give yourself plenty of nurturing time to think and assess what soft spot was hit that brought forth this demand.

When you are ready, ask respectfully to your partner when is a good time to talk.  When a time is set, make sure the setting is comfortable with no distractions.  Share your perception and feelings of the event and what feelings about yourself and the relationship come forward.  The more you express your inner world in a committed safe haven of curiosity, understanding, and empathy, the closer you become.

If your communication is falling into traps of demands and passive-aggressiveness, call me at (424) 258-5416 or email me at april@aprilwrighttherapy.com and let’s begin a course of action so that you may build trust and understanding again.

Criticism destroys communication between couples

The Four Communication Pitfalls in a Relationship

Communication is the key to unlocking a growing, adaptable relationship with trust, closeness, and intimacy. When communication goes array, at least one of the four taboos of interaction has taken place. The relationship becomes stuck in a rut and trust and affection is broken. He runs away and avoids conflict and she latches on with more force and power. The relationship is headed into a cat and mouse chase with possible separation, disconnection, and affair(s).

The four dangers in interaction include:

  1. Criticism
  2. Demanding
  3. Defensiveness
  4. Angry outburst

Couples counseling can clearly define the four communication pitfalls and the relationship can become close and intimate again. This article will explain the menaces of criticism and will be followed with three other editorials describing demanding, defensiveness, and vented anger.

What is criticism?

Criticism is unconsciously belittling another. It is assessing, blaming, and disapproving of your partner. Without awareness, you feel superior and your spouse feels condemned.

Sure, criticism can be rationalized as helpful advice or constructive feedback. No matter how you look at it, criticism is the perception of trying to improve another based on your agenda to change and need to be right.

Whatever the rational, criticism is analyzing and disapproving of your partner. This act leads to a hostile environment causing distance, distrust, and defensiveness. The relationship is on a downward spiral into the pitfalls of condemnation.

Criticism is enmeshment. In other words, you are in an entangled mess with your spouse. Criticism is difficult to give up because retracting your position can feel like you have to swallow a portion of yourself, which can feel all consuming, dominating, and threatening.

The solution is differentiation. Couples counseling can help untangle an enmeshed relationship. During the process, helpful skills are taught to couples. You learn how to describe what you are feeling, explain your feelings about the event and how that affects how you feel about the relationship and about yourself.

If your communication is falling into the trap of criticism, call me at (424) 528-5416 or email me at april@aprilwrighttherapy.com and let’s begin a course of action so that you may build trust and understanding again.

Giving thanks - april wright therapy

Gratitude a Fulfilling Year-Round Process

Family quarrels, busy friends, negative media focus, and critical co-workers and supervisors can leave you feeling depressed, anxious, and alone. The negativity of the world doesn’t have to effect your inner world. Gratitude is your key to unlocking happiness.

Gratitude is being aware of and appreciating good things that happen and taking the time to express thanks. Here are just a few positive outcomes of expressing gratitude:

  • Less burnout
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Motivates pro-social behavior
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Affect perception of the workplace
  • Positive bias in remembering life events
  • Promotes effective coping skills

There are many ways to express gratitude. One suggestion is keeping a daily journal in which you list as many things you feel appreciative of in a ten-minute time span. You may desire to focus on dispositional and situational gratitude. Focusing on different aspects of well-being brings is another way to bring more gratitude into your life. Thus if you are more grateful for social aspects of your life but not your work environment, you may benefit by focusing your appreciation on workplace issues.

To ensure consistency consider choosing a convenient, consistent time and location. With repetition, a healthy habit is formed, and you’ll start noticing the benefits. To increase the likelihood that you will follow through on maintaining a gratitude journal consider:

  • Timing
  • Frequency
  • Place
  • Environment

Things to consider:

Time span

Daily journaling is the most effective. Regardless, research shows entries made daily, over a short period (two weeks) or longer; weekly over a longer period (ten weeks) had a positive impact.

Focus

Professional. Intimacy. Family. Social. Personal. Recreation. Spiritual. Career. You may choose to pay attention to a different aspect of your life each day of the week or to center on only one facet over a particular time span. It is your choice.

Method

Use pencil and paper, audio recording, word processing, or a smartphone or tablet computer application. Does one approach differ in effectiveness versus another? Choose the one that enables you to maintain consistency.

Letter writing

Write a letter expressing your gratitude to a particular person, supervisor, colleague, friend, or loved one could impact the recipients’ attitudes and behavior in the workplace, home environment, or social settings. It can also help you cope more efficiently with conflict even if the letter remains sealed.

I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who have supported me and been a friend and confidant.  Your caring nature and support have been invaluable in my development.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I know that the holidays can be a tough time for many, so I offer my support.
If there is someone you know who may need help, please have them reach out to me at (424) 258-5416.

Día de Muertos: Mexican Calaveras, skulls pattern, Mexico City culture

Day of the Dead

PEEK AT FESTIVALS AROUND THE GLOBE THAT CELEBRATE THE DEAD 

Halloween lies on the last day of October in the United States where candy, costumes and haunted houses come to life. Modern Halloween is more about fearing spirits and dressing-up as a character for the day.

Many other cultures instead of fearing spirits honor the dead and commensurate their spirits.

Today is not only a new moon; it is the day of the dead. I thought a fresh look at festivals around the globe that celebrate the deceased would be eye opening.

  1. DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICO

Possibly the most famous celebration of the deceased, Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead festival, traces to the pre-Columbian era and spans from October 28 until November 2. The Day of the Dead is about remembering loved ones and honoring family members who have passed away.

The country’s most vibrant celebrations take place in Mexico City and Oaxaca, where cemeteries and homes display altars adorned with yellow marigold and red terciopelo flowers, intricate sugar skulls, and papel picado, a colorful perforated paper engraved with skeleton designs.

  1. FIESTA DE LAS ÑATITAS, BOLIVIA

 Bolivia’s Fiesta de las Ñatitas (Festival of the Skulls) is an ancient ritual among the indigenous Aymara people, honoring the special bond between the living and the deceased.

Ñatitas are exhumed human skulls that some Bolivians believe protect them from evil, help them achieve goals, and even work miracles. The skulls spend most of their time indoors, but are paraded in La Paz’s main public cemetery every year in early November, where they are decorated with flowers and pampered with cigarettes, coca leaves, and other treats.

  1. HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL, CHINA

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist commemoration, celebrated in China on the seventh month in the Chinese calendar. It is believed that spirits are able to roam the Earth throughout this month, and on the 15th night specifically, these spirits have the chance to visit their living descendants.

Throughout “Ghost Month,” gifts are made to the deceased, traditional theater is performed, and people set places at tables for dead members of their family. After the festival, people light lanterns and float them in bodies of water to help lead spirits back to the underworld.

  1. FÊTE GEDE, HAITI

This annual voodoo festival in Haiti takes place throughout November, but the majority of celebrations occur during the beginning of the month. Voodoo believers converge on Port-au-Prince’s main cemetery to honor the Gede (a family of spirits with the powers of death and fertility), laying out gifts such as homemade beeswax candles, flowers and—to warm the Gede’s bones—bottles of rum stuffed with chile peppers.

Dances, rituals, and costumes play a large part in this unique festival celebrating the dead.

  1. OBON FESTIVAL, JAPAN

The Obon festival is a Japanese Buddhist holiday celebrated July 13-15 or August 13-15 (depending on the region in Japan), honoring the return of the spirits of deceased ancestors. People revisit their hometowns to tend their relatives’ graves, which are cleaned and decorated with flowers.

There are Obon festivals all over Japan that combine traditional dances and celebrations. On the last night of Obon, people light candles and have bonfires to mark the departure of the ancestral spirits.

  1. CHUSEOK, SOUTH KOREA

Chuseok is one of the largest and most widely celebrated holidays in South Korea. The primary reason for Chuseok, held on the fall equinox, is to honor ancestors and deceased relatives. However, the holiday is considered a general time for families to congregate, reconnect, and enjoy fantastic feasts. Traditionally, Chuseok has also allowed South Koreans to celebrate the autumn harvest after a season of hard work.

Chuseok is largely centered on the culture and history of South Korea. To honor the traditions that connect them to their roots, many families will visit their ancestors’ villages, perform rituals and ceremonies, and visit graves while wearing traditional garb.

  1. GAI JATRA, NEPAL

Gai Jatra, also called the Festival of the Cows, is celebrated in August and September in Nepal. During the celebration, a procession of cows is marched through the streets of Kathmandu, led by family members who have lost a loved one within the last year. Cows, which are considered holy in Hinduism, are thought to be able to guide the recently deceased to the afterlife. Following the cow procession, participants dress in costume and dance in the city center.

Gai Jatra is regarded as a celebration, meant to help people accept death as a reality of life and to help ease the passing of those who have died.

Do you have a ritual or particular way to help ease loved ones who have passed? I’d love to hear how you have dealt with death in your life. If you need help with the grieving process or want to explore your spiritual growth, please feel free to contact me at april@aprilwrigththerapy.com.

New Moon

November 1 2016 – New Moon

Today marks the New Moon.  New moons provide a special time to swathe into your real self, your soul.

Some say that we rest between lives.  Thus in the physical realm, the New Moon provides a time to rest, before the next cycle.

The fresh phase of the new moon is a symbolic opening for new beginnings and merging with a spiritual source.  And similar to the Sun’s “New Moon” at Winter Solstice, it’s a time to remember who you are and receive guidance on the trail ahead.

New Moons offer a grand occasion to set intentions. Create a list or a ritual of actions, phrases, or visualizations of things you’d like to develop, cultivate, and make manifest. Many ways exist to initiate this communion with the Universe from lighting a candle to well-adorned rituals.

The most important aspect is that you commit to your vision and become open to receiving direction, healing, and support from Spirit.

When tuning into the Moon’s phases, it’s reassuring to know that there are many chances during the year to tap into lunar energy. Like the tides, the Moon ebbs and flows, a feminine energy and rhythm that is intuitive fro women. New Moons create a blank slate to voice your dreams.  Full Moons present an opportunity for taking action and celebrating the fruit of your labors.

In the chaotic and left-brain, thinking world, looking for something greater than yourself that is also part of yourself can fill you with awe and help you feel spiritually connected to everything.  Whatever path you may be on, opening yourself up and working with planetary energies links you to the power of the supernatural elements of the world.

Intentions

The new moon is here so reflect upon exactly what you want to draw into your life.  Be clear about your intentions and make them known either in a journal, to a close friend, or in a collage. Your intention can be a quality you’d like to cultivate like love, peace, forgiveness, courage — or it could be a specific request like a new place to live or a promotion at work.

Rituals

Ritual is a sacred ceremony. It is a performed series of acts with conscious intent to a clear goal or purpose. Ritual is a transformative experience that connects us to our creative imagination.  Spiritual connection and growth is facilitated through a personally designed ritual.

Design your personal ritual using your personal tastes.  Access your current pace of life and the time you have to devote to a particular routine. You can spend as little time simply lighting a candle or gathering objects and pictures that symbolize your goal.

You can write your intentions or create a collage. Each provides a visual reminder of your dreams that you can view daily. You can also meditate on your goals with the lighting of a candle.  Many avenues instill a creative pathway for a ritual.  Use your imagination and manifest your own creative, purposeful outlet.

Stop Anger from controlling you -- april wright therapy

Learn How to Control Anger Before it Controls You

We’ve all experienced anger whether it is felt as a mild irritation or as an intense rage. Anger is a normal and natural emotion. Anger is also an essential survival mechanism to run from danger or fight when being attacked.

Nonetheless, when it turns out of control and destructive, it can lead to difficulties. Biological and physiological changes occur such as a racing heart rate, a rise in blood pressure and an increase in the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Consistent outrage and resentment with a particular supervisor or coworker can lead to troubles at work. Constant worry or menacing about personal problems can prime problems with your personal relationships. Memories of infuriating events or traumas whether big or small can also trigger angry feelings.

Your overall happiness diminishes, and your quality of life depreciates. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. This article is to help you learn how to understand and nurture your anger.

If anger is ruling your world, it is time to give it the proper attention it deserves.  The overpowering emotion is a valuable sign that something is out of balance.  Instead of blaming others, take a few moments to look within.  Underneath anger may reside pain, fear, guilt, and shame.  Relief and peace is near with adequate understanding of the emotions that trigger your intense feelings of anger.

Holding anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to dieWhen you approach the underlying feelings of anger with love and care, you can then express your thoughts calmly. The dialogue provides an opportunity to grow closer not only to others but also to self-awareness and insight.  You can then  assertively communicate your desires and convey what you need to have them met.

To dive even deeper, relay how that particular person or event not only triggered certain emotions but also negative beliefs about you. Whenever your current reaction is over-the-top for the present situation, it means there is historical data to look into. Sit quietly and focus internally to allow the past to surface. Valuable information waits ahead.

As you reflect inward, feelings about yourself like “I don’t matter” I’m not good enough” may arise. Try to go deeper and remember how you formulated that false belief. Scan your memory and body for signals of specific persons/events –look for colors, snippets of scenes, smells, whatever comes to mind.

Next you can begin to nurture that hurt child. It could be the sad infant/toddler or defiant teenager.  They are both speaking to you telling you what they need.  You have the power to give them the love, compassion, and understanding now that wasn’t given to you when you needed it as a youngster.

As you show compassion and love to your pain, shame, guilt, or fear, empathetic and careful thought allows the hurt to diminish. Insight and self-awareness brings relief and healing. These false beliefs were passed down to you from your parents and circulated from their parents.  You don’t  have to continue the cycle of pain.

Anger is a gift. It has helped us survive danger and defend from attack. When given empathic care and understanding, anger can remind us to focus inward, and to examine how the person/event triggered hurt feelings. We all have the wisdom to provide what we need. That wisdom is a treasure chest of information that can provide internal healing. Sit quietly and focus inward to access the love, faith, hope and kindness you deserve.

 

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