A Raleigh Therapist's Blog

Thoughts on counseling, healing, and creating the life you want

Are you having an Online Affair?

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about a website that helps married people find other married people with whom to start affairs. Since the good people at wordpress are kind enough to provide me with stats about what folks are looking for when they stumble across my site, I have discovered that most of the people coming through this blog lately are reading that particular article and searching for the term ‘online affair.’

It makes sense that this is one of the most-searched terms on people’s finger tips these days. As the world at our door grows larger and larger via the connections we can make online, humans will continue to do what we’re good at–explore new things. However for some, exploring this new frontier has proved to be anything but harmless fun. Rather, it has allowed them to put themselves into positions that both they and their partners may view as the new gray area of relationship ethics. So how will you know if you’re starting to sail some dangerous waters? Here are a few warning signs:

1) Don’t ask don’t tell: Are parts or all of your online relationship a secret? The best litmus test for knowing if your interactions with an online “friend” are starting to stray into an emotional affair is to ask yourself if you would be afraid or ashamed for your partner to read anything you have exchanged between the two of you. Yes, I know, your online amiga or amigo may be a much better listener, or more sympathetic, or funnier than your real-life spouse. But, that person also doesn’t see you in your dirty underwear or listen to you snore at night. It’s easy to build up intimacy in cyber space. Even if you have known or know your pen pal in real life, that is very different than 24-hour contact. The very fact that you are starting to share personal details of your life is a warning sign. You are building intimacy with every click of your mouse. Emotional infidelity can pave the way towards physical infidelity by creating the illusion that you are meant to be together because you understand one another so well. This is particularly true if you are sharing derogatory information about your partner and recieving support in your frustration with him or her.

2) Take a look at me now: Are you sharing pictures of yourself with your online friend or getting pictures of him or her? It doesn’t matter if these photos are sexual in nature, or a shot of you in front of great grandma’s house. This indicates that it has become important to you or to your friend to “know” one another in an increasingly personal way. Trading pictures is often the first step to initiating other forms of offline contact.

3) Thinking it over: Are you spending increasing amounts of time thinking about when you can next get online to write to, chat with, or web cam your friend? As the thoughts become more intrusive, they not only interfere with your ‘real’ life, but they further enforce the distance that is growing between you and your current partner. As you allow that distance to grow, and focus all your emotional energy into your online relationship, you are creating more of the problems in your primary relationship you may be seeking to escape by engaging with someone else.

There are many reasons why both men and women seek emotional or physical intimacy outside of their primary relationships. If you believe that your actions are starting to put your relationship at risk, or if you think your spouse might be seeking connection outside of your relationship, there is help. Individual and/or couples therapy can help you sort out what to do next, and how to move forward, whatever that means to you, in a healthy way. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here, and I’ll do my best to briefly respond so that the folks who are stumbling across this blog can get some additional, tailored help.

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

If you would like a FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION please feel free to contact me at 407.913.4988 or holly@lotustherapycenter.com

www.lotustherapycenter.com

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Organization 911

All the rain we have had lately has given me a few days to stay indoors and take a look around at the things in my home and office that need my attention. I have been taking the time to do this in a purposeful way so that I can clear out the old clutter (literally and metaphorically) and invite new blessings and opportunities in my life. Though this may be more difficult for some of us than others since the process of letting go can bring up feelings of anxiety or compulsion, even a small step towards organizing your space can have a big impact on your outlook, business, and emotional state.

Here are a few tips for getting started:

1) Find your moment of Zen: Getting organized is not about simply finding a measure of simplicity. It’s about finding a balance and harmony to your life that leaves you free to think about the things on which you would like to focus. These things may be your next novel, spending more quality time with your family, or taking your business to the next level. Before you start, take a moment to visualize how your space will look and feel when you have completed your organizational journey. What will be different? What will be the same? How will you know that you have done enough work for now?

2)Multitasking is your enemy: These days, the ability to do many things at one time is praised as a virtue and a path to greater efficiency. However, it can also reduce the amount of pure, clean energy you have to devote to a task. There are some things in life we should give ourselves permission to do methodically and with focused intention. If you want your newly-organized life to reflect a more single-minded  devotion to harmony, take the time to focus on just that.

3) Learn to Let Go: I have written in my posts before about the pervasive influence that marketers and big companies have on our ideas about consumption and hoarding. What can you delete, repurpose, donate to charity, or give away as a gift. If your cup is already full, how can you hope to receive more?

If you have your own ideas about organizing your life and clearing a path towards the future, I would love to hear them!

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

If you would like a FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION to see if I might be a good fit for your concerns and goals, please contact me at 407-913-4988 or holly@lotustherapycenter.com

www.lotustherapycenter.com

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I want to pump you up–stong parenting for healthy families

I love the fall. Not for all the reasons you’re thinking, though pumpkin pie and fall leaves do rate highly on my list. It’s my favorite time of the year because the fall months seem to bring an sharp uptick in the amount of family therapy I get to do. As I prepare to help the parents and kids who come through my doors, here are a few of the tips I’ll be offering up to clients.

1) Kids need strong parents: It’s not enough to encourage your children to eat their vegetables, work hard, and help those less fortunate than them. You must embody it yourself. If you do not have the self-esteem and vision to make a decent stab at accomplishing those things in your own life, you are diluting the strength of your message and robbing  them of something important. Children view themselves as extensions of you and the family (regardless of what they say to your face) and will emulate the example you set for them. If that example is that smart people with good sense doubt themselves or fail to strive to better themselves they will do as you do not as you say. I realize this is rather strongly-worded, but I say it because I believe in you. Most parents have greater reservoirs of courage, spunk, and sense than they give themselves credit for possessing.

2. You’re going to have to be the bad guy sometimes: The parents I sympathize with the most, and have the most difficulty helping come to the light in therapy, are those who would prefer to be their kids’ “best friend.” I think that friendship with your child in the sense of creating an open-door policy that encourages them to talk with you about whatever may be troubling them is the highest standard of what a parent can create in a family ecosystem. However, this is often confused with a particularly dangerous trait of needing your kids to like your decisions (and by extension, you) all the time. Ironically, the kids who resent their parents least when they have reached adulthood are those who had a sense of structure, healthy boundaries, and clear expectations. Your kids will not thank you down the road for allowing them to experience things that they will later realize they were too young to experience. This includes staying out very late, sex, drugs, alcohol, pornography, and a host of other stuff that your child may think he or she is ready for now, but does not have the maturity to process. If you know you are struggling with falling into the ‘popular parent’ trap, then get help now in the form of a strong support system for yourself. This can be individual or couples counseling, parenting support groups, clergy, or simply good friends with whom you can discuss the ins and outs of parenting.

3) Quantity beats quality many days of the week: I’m not suggesting that you spend all your time with Jr. vegged out on the couch. But, kids who do are higher-functioning have parents who are involved most of the hours that they possibly can be during the day. This means eating together, running errands together, taking walks after dinner together, attending religious services together, washing rover together, etc, etc, etc. Your kids may not love it at the time, but it has been my observation that families who spend more time together raise kids with less promiscuity, better grades, and fewer substance abuse issues.

If you have any tips about keeping your family on the right track, I would love to hear them!

Your partner in Healing,

Holly

If you would like a FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION to see if I might be a good fit for your goals and concerns, please contact me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com or 407-913-4988.

www.lotustherapycenter.com

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Study This: College Students and Good Mental Health

When I first went to undergrad, I had the world’s greatest roommate. Her name was Valerie, and she had more than a few quirks. The strangest of which was her deep belief that my appearance and social comportment would reflect on her as well. Now, Valerie and I hadn’t chosen one another. We were simply assigned by the good people down at student housing. But nonetheless, she did her best to make sure that I passed muster on campus. This included ironing my clothes and teaching me how to dance. If you have ever seen me attempt to dance (attempt being the operative word), you’ll know that Valerie had her work cut out for her.

Anyway, the point of the matter is that attending college is a big deal. Even if you attend school in your hometown and stay right in your parents’ home, you’re still in for some big life changes. That’s OK–this is a really interesting time in your social, intellecutal, and spiritual development. How can you be prepared when it’s time to grab your books and hit the door?

1) Expect the unexpected: Things will inevitably be different then you thought they would both at home and away at school. Classes may be more challenging than high school, and you might need to be prepared to take advantage of those lab tutors. Or, mom and dad could turn your room into their billiard parlor. Whatever the case, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed by all the shiny newness. Just make sure you utilize your support network and blow off steam in constructive ways like exercise, art, or music.

2) Stick to a schedule: Despite common wisdom these days, staying up for three nights straight on a mixture of Red Bull and Twinkies does not mean that you are becoming more flexible in your time utilization. Rather, it is a recipe for social and academic disaster. You owe it to yourself to take calculus on a fresh brain that has been riding around in a body that is well-rested, fed, and exercised.

3) Get Yourself Connected: Everyone knows college is more fun if you have someone with whom to complain about last night’s chemistry lab. If there isn’t anyone in your classes or dorm who strikes your fancy, get out there and join a club or apply for a job on campus. Isolation leads to anxiety and unhappiness.

Got any other tips that have worked for you? I would love to hear them. Remember I offer HALF OFF TO COLLEGE STUDENTS. Happy new school year!

Your Partner in Healing,

Holly

If you would like a FREE 30-MINUTE CONSULTATION to see if I might be a fit for your goals and concerns, please contact me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com or 407-913-4988

www.lotustherapycenter.com

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