One thing I notice in relationships is the influence of power and control. The misuse of power and control in relationships is what makes them abusive in nature. Someone attempting and even succeeding at violating thee boundaries of their significant other through force or manipulation is an example of an extremely dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship. Power and control can also show up in other ways. I’ve also encountered it in the therapy room when I’ve worked with clients who are resistant. The whole thought behind power and control in this context is that people want to be in control of something. When their values or beliefs are challenged they immediately put up their guard and even subconsciously seek to manipulate the situation so that they remain in control at all times and they never have to change their faulty belief patterns. It’s the avoidance being honest with oneself and being in a vulnerable place. It’s almost like playing a game because as a therapist I’m trying to challenge them in a way that won’t make them defensive but will also be effective in helping them make necessary changes. Recently, I found myself in an unfamiliar environment where power and control dynamics came into play. I’m the type of person who likes to be in control at all times. Not necessarily in charge of what happens to me because I know that’s impossible, but I like being in my right mind (to a reasonable degree) without being impaired by various substances. I want the ability to exercise self control so that I don’t have to face the unpleasant consequences of a stupid and impulsive decision later on. That being said, this environment was very unfamiliar and out of my comfort zone. On paper it was a great opportunity to experience something new. However, it required a level of trust that I did not feel was warranted. So I did what any human who feels threatened in some way would do or would at least attempt–took power and control of the situation. While it was definitely an overreaction, I preferred it (at the time) to giving up power and control. It was a learning experience to be on the other side of a power and control dynamic where I was in a similar position to that of some of my clients and had to take action to remain in control. Interesting.
There should be a mandatory recovery time after a vacation that has lasted a week or longer. I use the word “vacation” loosely because the entire time I was away was not a vacation. One thing I deliberately did was to leave my computer at home during one of my two trips. The point of this was to take a break to enjoy the scenery and the experience of being in a different country. Other than the quality time spent with cousins I rarely see, the BEST part of the trip going to the beach. I’ve never been to the Pacific Ocean before and while it’s not as breathtakingly beautiful as the Mediterranean Ocean, it was still nice. I don’t know why, but for some reason sitting on a beach and thinking gives me the most clarity. I can process my thoughts and feelings and then make appropriate decisions without the distraction of familiar surroundings. It sounds weird but it works for me. That’s one of the reasons why I love the beach–I can actually think. I don’t have my laptop with me and my phone is typically turned off. No one is calling me asking for something and the sound of the waves crashing on the sand relaxes me. This time I had the opportunity to make a plan for the new year and to finalize some goals I want to accomplish this year. It was quite a productive hour or so. Definitely a reminder that I need to focus so that my efforts won’t be in vain and I won’t be working harder than I need to.
I’m the type of person who believes that one shouldn’t count their eggs before they hatch. I’ve seen too many people have to eat their words because they announced that they were doing something or that they were going to get something and it never happened. I also know individuals who continually post and write “updates” on their progress achieving their dreams and yet there are no results despite years of posting about what they are doing. Regardless of all that, I like discussing things after the fact. Not too long ago I decided that I needed to quit my job (again). For some people a decision like that is pretty hard to make. It means uncertainty and additional stress as they have to once again enter the job market. You’ll never hear me talk about how much I love being single and doing my own thing but I must say that career decisions are easier to make when you don’t have to think about how it will affect your husband and children. My decisions primarily affect me solely. That being said, I realized that I needed a job that was more in line with my personality. One thing I’ve talked about at some point is how much I hate the Monday through Friday 9-5 traditional work week. Mondays are hell on earth and at 5pm on Fridays it feels like someone gave you a new lease on life (at least for the next two days). I didn’t want to live my life like that. The last time I decided that I needed a new job I put in my notice without having any idea of what I was going to do next. While doing this is not advised, I didn’t care and I had a strong feeling that I’d just get another job and I did. The same thing happened recently when I got a new job. I say all this to say that sometimes you have to rock your own boat. So many times things happen to us that are out of our control and we forget that there are some things we CAN control–like our jobs. It can be so easy to get into a rut and not move from it. This new year, I’m making some changes. My plan again is to travel more and I’ve already made progress on that goal. School once again is going to take priority over some other stuff so I’m reorganizing and evaluating my participation and presence in things that do not contribute to that goal. It’s a simple thing to say but harder to implement.