Many people come to our office expecting advice and crystal ball insight about how to change their life, better their relationships, and kick unhealthy habits. As apart of our jobs, we are not allowed to give advice specifically, but we do offer guidance and insight into problems our clients cannot seem to work around. Sometimes though, we desperately wish we could give you specific words of wisdom when we notice blatantly unhealthy relationships, bad decision making, and more. So here below is a list of some of the words of wisdom broken down into sections we'd like to impart for whoever might need to hear it as we prepare to leave 2019 in the dust!
-If your family has treated you like dirt from the time you were young into adulthood it will likely take more than a hope and prayer that they will change and be better for you. True change is an all around party effort and requires consistency in mindset and behavior.
-Abusive family members can change and become better people for you, themselves, and for others. This does not mean you have to remain close to them no matter what other family members or friends may say. Your emotional health should always come first.
-Don't just write off family forever due to single instances of misunderstanding. Leave some room for restorative communication and healing if both or all parties are open to this.
-For teens: Many parents (not all) really are trying their best to understand you and be the best they can for you. It's hard to see past what's happening in your life as friends and social connections are what's important right now. Try and step back from time to time and take in all they are providing for you.
- You and your partner will change over time. There's no way around that. How you both manage that change is up to you two.
-Some arguments will continue to come up no matter what you both try to do to resolve it. Instead of trying to 'fix' or 'get rid' of the issue altogether, work on better ways of communicating about it. You cannot change how you feel, however you can choose to react angrily or in understanding and compromising ways.
-Cheating is tough from a therapeutic perspective. For some couples it is relationship ending with nothing to resolve and no further conversation. For others it can be overcome, however your relationship will not ever be the same. This does not mean a new and healthy relationship cannot be rebuilt with stronger pillars of communication and emotional understanding.
-It is not just your partner that's the problem. You are contributing to the issues you both are facing, even if one of you has greater areas of improvement to address.
Sex and Intimacy
-There are a lot of kinks, sexual interests, and desires out there. You are not inherently bad, shameful, or wrong for your sexual interests-so long as those interests genuinely are within legal limits and everyone involved is consenting to the activity.
-Even if you are in a committed, long term and happy relationship it's ok to find others attractive. What you do with those feelings is up to you and the boundaries of your existing relationship.
-Opening up your relationship or marriage to other people can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time! If you're new to the concept do your research before venturing out. Also know that you can prepare emotionally and mentally until the cows come home for an open relationship, but expect the unexpected to occur and recognize that others you bring in are people with hopes, dreams, and feelings just like you.
-You and your partner may experience differences in libidos from time to time or for long stretches of time. Practice patience with one another and expand your horizons on what you're currently comfortable with in and outside of the bedroom. Intimacy isn't just about sex, it's also about your emotional bond and other ways you can strength your connection.
-Transition/gender affirmation isn't a shiny beacon of hope that will take away all of life's problems. For many it can bring about more issues. Go into this journey recognizing that it might take time to find that sense of balance and comfort in life.
-Gender related privilege is real. Take some time to reflect on why transition/affirmation is challenging for you from the perspective of your biological gender and racial identity. What are you gaining and/or losing in your transition? Is some of your fear or anxiety stemming from moving into a space of marginalization that you've never experienced before?
-For those feeling too afraid to even make a move towards your transition/affirmation, my heart goes out to you. Many others have been where you are at, whether it be about gender, race, religion, culture, etc. We all collectively feel the longing pain of wanting to be ourselves in a safe world. No matter how much nudging and positive reinforcement someone can give you, ultimately it's up to you to decide what feels safe and best for you. Know that sometimes we need to challenge that safety net we've built around ourselves to find that silver lining on the other side. There are almost always others waiting for you on that other side to take your hand and walk with you down that scary unknown path.
Overall Mental Health
-Everyone experiences depression and anxiety in life. For many people these emotions are experienced situationally. For others it may be chronic or longer lasting, and symptoms vary in appearance and severity from person to person. You are not broken for feeling something other than happiness.
-Severe mental health symptoms can be debilitating and leave you feeling ostracized from others. Sometimes these symptoms may be pattern driven, and sometimes they may only crop up from time to time. Understanding your emotional and physical needs during those times can help others better provide you with support.
-Trauma of any kind can feel very isolating and damming on a person's emotional health. If you are in the beginning stages of addressing your trauma, know that the journey may be long and arduous before healing can begin. Be patient with yourself and listen to your bodily and emotional needs along this path.
-Substance abuse is in part the individual's responsibility and recognition that that person is also powerless over the addiction. If you are a family member or friend of someone who is suffering from substance addiction know that it is not your fault. If you are the individual suffering, know that there are ways out, but it is up to you to open that door and rebuild a new life. Fortunately, you won't be alone when you decide to venture through that door, so trust in those who are actively trying to offer you a hand of encouragement and support.
If you are in need of therapy for mental health counseling, need a safe LGBTQ+ space, or are seeking gender affirmation processes in Colorado, contact us today to get started!
Devin Pinkston is a local mental health counselor and Gender Therapist in Grand Junction Colorado. Call to schedule a free consultation today at 970-644-2392.