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Family Therapy

Do You Know What You Need?

Do You Know What You Need?

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If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. - Lewis Carroll.

I had been working with a young bloke, (let's call him Alex), for several months, when he mentioned that he had been having difficulty making a decision about a promotion that he had been offered. Alex described that he'd been successful throughout most of his career and that the company that he was working for was extremely supportive. Furthermore, he was highly respected by his boss and his peers. He felt like he had everything going for him, however, he was troubled by his lack of ‘mojo' when he thought about this new opportunity.

 So, I asked him. "Alex, can I ask? What is it that you need?

Alex: "What is it that I need?".

After a long pause…

Alex: "Damn, I don't know, Honestly, I really don't know. I've never asked myself that… you know… I've just done what I thought I wanted at the time or did what I thought I should out of obligation or loyalty… but what I need… that's a tough one".

We spent the rest of the conversation exploring Alex's needs. We took the time to separate his needs as opposed to his wants and unpacked the meaning and association of each need that he had identified. Eventually, we ended up identifying a couple of very significant needs for himself. A week later Alex stated that he had a very clear understanding of his preferred path forward. As a result, he was able to make a very deliberate and authentic decision. Alex reclaimed his mojo.

The quote above by Lewis Carroll highlights that when we haven't taken the time to explore what our needs are and what they mean to us, we might just find ourselves on a path that contradicts who we really are.

Identifying our needs is the first important step to creating meaningful relationships, rich experiences, and purpose in our pursuits.

Our needs are unique to who we are as individuals. Needs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes (see the list below) and that they constantly evolve throughout our lives. Needs range from basic existence needs (physiological and safety needs) to relational needs (intimate and social relationships and external esteem) to more complex personal growth needs (Internal esteem and self-actualization).

"A human need, or, more accurately, the object of a human need is something which a human being must have to live a recognizably human life." An important consideration is a difference between a need and want. "A want, or more accurately, the object of a want, is something which one desires to have, or the notion of preference" (Garett, 2004).

For example, an employer states "I ‘need' my employees to respect me and tell me when they need my help". This is an example of a want or a preference rather than a need. What is more aligned to the concept of a need is: "Being a trusted, efficient and relevant leader is an important need of mine".

When we are aware of our needs, it becomes easier to move towards their fulfillment. We learn to align our cognitions, emotions, and behaviors to effectively achieve them. Communicating our needs in an honest, open manner is critical. Recognizing an unfulfilled need is surprisingly relatively simple task – if we're being honest with ourselves we experience harmony with ourselves and positive connection with others. When we experience impasses or conflicts within our relationships or experience heightened emotions such as anxiety, anger or fear - it is typically an indicator that a need is not being satisfied.

Because of the heightened emotions that are connected to unfulfilled needs, it can be difficult to convey them to the people who we feel matter to us the most. We often fear what may (or may not) occur if we expressed our needs. While it does take courage to express our needs, it is also our responsibility to ourselves and to others to try.

So, how do we fulfill our needs?

  1. Recognize that having needs is not selfish, weak or dependent. It takes strength, to be honest, and attuned to our needs.
  2. Create space to explore, acknowledge and celebrate your needs. It takes time to connect with what's important to us. Give yourself permission to dig deep and when you find what you're looking for, honor yourself.
  3. Communicate your needs to yourself and to others. Convey your needs in a respectful, empathic manner that recognizes that others have needs too. Acknowledge similarities in needs and celebrate differences. Offer to help others fulfill theirs.
  4. Nurture and evolve your needs. Think of this as a life long journey. Attend to your needs as they develop.

To help explore your needs, take a few moments to reflect on the list below. This list is not all-inclusive, but it offers some ideas to get the creative ‘needs' flowing. 

If you struggle with fulfilling your needs or have difficulty communicating your needs with those in your life, then let's start a conversation. Click on the link below and schedule a free 20 min consultation. Who knows where it might lead you.

Cheers, Simon

References:

Carroll, L (No Date). Retrieved from Brainy Quotes: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/lewiscarro165865.html

Garrett, J. (2004) Needs, Wants, Interests, Motives. Retrieved from: http://people.wku.edu/jan.garrett/ethics/needs.htm

McClelland, D. (1961) The achieving society. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need_theory

NEEDS

Appreciation

  • Acknowledgement
  • To be seen
  • To be known
  • To be heard

Honesty

  • Integrity
  • Authenticity
  • Wholeness
  • Fairness

Connections/Relations

  • Belonging
  • Friendship
  • Companionship
  • Respect
  • Support
  • Trust
  • Cooperation
  • Mutuality

Purpose

  • Competence
  • Contribution
  • Meaning
  • Growth
  • Learning
  • Challenge
  • Work
  • Discovery
  • Order/Structure
  • Efficiency

Play

  • Expression
  • Passion
  • Sexuality
  • Creativity

Mental

  • Clarity
  • Information
  • Stimulation
  • Awareness
  • Focus

Autonomy

  • Freedom
  • Choice
  • Independence

Empathy

  • Consideration
  • Compassion
  • Connection
  • Communication
  • Reassurance
  • Love
  • Warmth
  • Intimacy
  • Companionship
  • Acceptance

Nurturing

  • Touch
  • Affection
  • Caring
  • Preservation of life
  • Bonding
  • Comfort

Sustenance

  • Security
  • Safety
  • Food/Water/Shelter
  • Health
  • Rest/Sleep

Celebration

  • Honor
  • Aliveness
  • Spontaneity
  • Mourning
  • Humor

Union

  • Connection with something greater
  • Ritual
  • Healing
  • Harmony
  • Inspiration
  • Peace
  • Faith
  • Joy
  • Balance
  • Grounding
  • Serenity
  • Hope

The Changing Landscape of Fatherhood.

The Changing Landscape of Fatherhood.

Image by   白士     李   on Flickr

Image by 白士  on Flickr

With Father’s Day upon us, there’s always a flurry of commentary about the ever changing role of fathers and what it means to be a Dad in this day and age. If you can ignore for a brief moment the consumer emphasis of this ‘hallmark’ day, it offers the opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the special bond that exists between a father and his children.

As part of this celebration, it’s time to start a dialog about the ever changing landscape of what it means to be a father.

The men that I work with in therapy describe a tremendous range of parenting and relationship challenges and experiences. With the increase of solo parenting, blended and extended, same-sex and non-married families, not to mention transformations in our commercial and cultural, political and immigration, technology and legal world, it’s honestly no surprise that the role that fathers play in the lives of his children has never been so diverse; or equally bewildering.

The widely oscillating story between nurturer and provider that occurs in contemporary society has the potential to create a tremendous amount of stress for fathers. While there is an increasing movement for fathers to provide greater levels of emotional support and connectivity for their children, some fathers battle to find the right balance between intimacy and fun and traditional roles of being the breadwinner or disciplinarian. This combination can cause confusion for children and tremendous discord between spouses.

Finding the right balance between traditional and contemporary fatherhood roles is a challenge for many fathers who are trying to create their own authentic parenting style. Some fathers describe that the foundation of their role has become slowly eroded or diluted. Others state the opposite, describing their roles as increasingly fulfilling and empowering. These different perspectives may be due to the way fathers are valued (or potentially devalued) in society and the accompanying cultural environment. It may also be as a result of the legacies left for them by their own fathers.

So, let’s not wait until the third week of June each year to have this crucial conversation.

Father’s are ready to openly explore unchartered territory about their relationships with their children right now. They are becoming parenting advocates, they are working closely with other fathers, they are educating themselves and they are even seeking professional help far more readily than any generation that came before them. Fathers recognize that fatherhood is a challenging job and they are willing to acknowledge and take accountability for any mistakes they may have may along the way. They are also willing to savor the love and connectivity with their children when things go well.

Let’s continue and support this conversation beyond this weekend.

So to all the dad’s, fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, foster dads, and any other dad-like figures that play a role in the life of a child, I take my hat off to you. Fatherhood, regardless of what shape, form or flavor you can imagine, can be for some, one of the most rewarding and fulfilling roles that men can ever experience. It’s bloody tough, and fatherhood should be celebrated each and every day.

If you are preparing for fatherhood, exploring what fatherhood means to you or would like to enhance your relationship with your children but find that you sometimes struggle, then let’s talk. Call me on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

Arohanui, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships. 

Call Simon on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

CLICK HERE TO EMAIL

 

Come On Dad, Read Me Another Story...

Come On Dad, Read Me Another Story...

Image: Kelly Sikkema on  Flickr

Image: Kelly Sikkema on Flickr

Reading with your kids; encouraging life long learning, curiosity and socialization in your children.

As a Dad, one of my most delightful memories was reading to my boys. Naturally there were the old favorites that had to be re-told for the fifty millionth time. I’m pretty sure I can quote the ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ off by heart even after all these years. Sometimes, I used to make stories up on the fly. The lads would give me the intro and I would go from there. No two stories were the same. That was always a great way to stretch theirs and my imagination.

As the boys got older, we encouraged reading by giving them ‘book pocket money’ which allowed them buy as many books as they could within their budget once a month. Not only did they become very selective with their purchases, they also became very good at understanding the value of their allowance.

I loved that they often bought books that came in a series, so that they ended up creating a collection. Many of those books still sit on our bookshelf. Now its university text books, not ‘Zac Powers, 24 hours to save the world. Before bedtime, I would have them read to me. Just one or two pages, until it was handed back to over to me to continue the story.

What was really important to me was that they learnt to love reading and that it created a shared experience. As we read together, my kids would ask questions. In that moment, we were really connected.

According to Simon Kuiper, the good old bedtime story and self-managed reading is vital in childhood learning and social development. Evidently, that time of evening when we as parents are about to collapse, is according to neuroscientists, the peak learning moment of the day for children.

“Pretty much the best way to form your child’s brain is to talk and read to them. He/she needs to hear words and imagine stories. He/she also needs to learn the patience to sit on your lap for ten minutes [or lay quietly in bed] and just listen - the perfect preparation for school (minus the lap). Seeing you read will make them want to read, too. Your child wants to be like you.”

As the boys got older they would often carry around a book with them where ever we would go. This was great when we went out for dinner and the final morsels of their dessert had been gobbled down and we adults were still eating.

Books were their entertainment and an incredible source of conversation. As a parent, you were truly kept on your toes when your child asks you, “did you know Dad?” - when referencing ‘100 Amazing Facts about Pirates, Dinosaurs, or Ancient Egypt. I loved when they were little and we would curl up and read together. I’m blessed that I had the chance to feed their growing brains in such a wonderful, enchanting way.

Being a Dad is damn tough and the kids will eat you alive if you’re not feeling 100% equipped and ready. All Dad’s can use a little help and support on occasions. 

If you are preparing for fatherhood, exploring what fatherhood means to you or would like to enhance your relationship with your children but find that you sometimes struggle, then let’s talk. Call me on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

Arohanui, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships. 

Call Simon on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

CLICK HERE TO EMAIL

Simon Niblock, Couples & Family Therapy

Reference: Kuiper, S. (2015). Reading to your kids. Retrieved from: http://www.askmen.com/dating/single_fathers/reading-to-your-kids.html

 

What is Masculinity? Curiosity, A Man’s Mind and His Body.

What is Masculinity? Curiosity, A Man’s Mind and His Body.

Image by   kimdokhac  on Flickr

Image by  kimdokhac on Flickr

What is Masculinity? Curiosity, A Man's Mind and His Body.

"The continued exploration of real men, real yoga, an inquiry into what it means to be a man through the lens of yoga, ancestry and expectation.”Yes, sadly this is the last post in the series inspired by the men’s yoga group that I have participated in for the past eight weeks. This week, our class starts with a discussion about the importance of remaining curious throughout our lives. From my own experience, this theme is extremely relevant as it forms the foundation of how I practice as a couples and family therapist. So, I’m really not surprised that I find myself listening to a similar message conveyed in this yoga practice.

Mark, our yoga guru invites us to continue our journey into what it means to be a man, by remaining curious in all aspects of our lives. He mentioned that through the practice of yoga or meditative inspired exercise we create a bridge between our mind and our body and that it’s important to try to listen to both parts of ourselves. When we take time to scan our bodies in yoga, we acknowledge parts of our bodies that might be feeling tight or sore. This acknowledgement allows us to respect and respond accordingly.

The same goes for our mind. When we recognize that the monkey chatter is too loud or all consuming, we need to take the time to quiet things down. It’s vital that men regularly take a few moments to create a valley or space between these thoughts, otherwise they begin to consume us. We need to actively pursue ways to find positive channels to wash away the cobwebs and recharge ourselves, otherwise we are of no use to ourselves or to those who matter to us most.

As I may have described in one of my earlier entries in this series, the men in this group are as diverse as you could possibly imagine. Each joined the group with a vast array of experiences, thoughts, expectations, hopes and dreams. The amazing thing about this program, was each man was acknowledged and respected regardless of who he was or where he came from. There was no judgment at all and each man shaped what they wanted to put into their practice and what they wanted out of it. Many of us learnt a few things about ourselves, by connecting and learning from others.

The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of the mystery every day. The important thing is not to stop questioning; never lose a holy curiosity. Albert Einstein. 

Throughout the past eight weeks, we’ve explored a wide range of themes that relate to the crazy contemporary world that men find themselves living in these days. Themes such as vulnerability and the strength that it takes to connect and be open to new experiences. I’ve learned the importance of being able to place aside our egos to connect with others and the role of non-judgment and forgiveness. We’ve explored the influence of ancestry and sense that mortality can have on us and what it takes to rewrite our personal narrative so that we can live authentically and create a legacy that benefits generations to come. When I look back on all the topics that we’ve dived into, I realize that this has been much more than a simple exercise program.

However, I do have to say the exercise has been amazing. I recall starting this program complaining about lower back pain. I’m so happy to say that after all this bending and flexing, I feel incredible. It’s a rare day that I feel stiff as much as I used to. Even if I hadn’t experienced the Zen-like serenity after each class and the chilled state that sometimes continues for days, I would have to say that it’s been worth it just to be able to strut about with a little bit more flexibility. Trust me, as you get a little older, being able to maintain your strut is bloody important.

In this final class, I leave feeling honored to have been a part of it. It’s humbling to learn that my mental and physical needs have changed as I have matured. I’m no longer the indestructible twenty-five year- old that I recall and my needs and expectations have clearly changed. I accept that without any issues now. I also leave this evening having made a few new friends and a greater appreciation for experiences of others and acknowledgment that it’s important, no, actually it’s vital to stay curious and continue the exploration throughout our life.

On a final note, I would like to offer Mark Herron, Co-owner & Yogi @ Sukha Yoga an enormous thank you for the inspiration for this series on masculinity. As an advocate for men’s health and incorporating yoga as part of their daily practice, Mark hosts these programs on a regular basis and has created an amazing local Austin community promoting both physical and mental well-being. Visit the Sukha website on www.sukhayogaaustin.com for upcoming events.

Arohanui, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping couples and their families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships. 

Contact Simon on 512-470-6976 to start a conversation.

CLICK HERE TO CONNECT

Zen and the Art of Profanity

Zen and the Art of Profanity

The use of profanity in therapy?????

Could this be the future of therapeutic coping? Can incorporating 'expletives' into our mindfulness practices help reduce stress and create a state of calm? I've always quietly relished the used of the occasionally well placed ‘sentence enhancer’ in my vocabulary, but there’s a grassroots movement slowly developing that promotes the use of therapeutic profanity. Now that’s caught my attention!

According to Alison Birrane (2015) in a recent BBC published article 'Can Swearing Make You More Relaxed?' there may be some merit behind dropping the odd swear word into your conversation. "While [traditional] yoga and meditation are associated with peace and Zen, some find that it works better with shouting and expletives". Subsequently, some contemporary mindfulness practitioners are taking yoga and therapy to the next step by creating group programs that allow clients to adopt colorful language in a safe and non threatening environments that allow individuals to blow off steam.

Not surprisingly, these concepts have been supported by a lot of social research conducted into the benefits of incorporating expletives into our vocabulary. One New Zealand research study that Birrane references titled; ‘The Language in the Workplace Project’ (why am I not surprised??), explored the benefits of using expletive language to create workplace bonding and improvement of emotional regulation. http://www.seth-smith.org.uk/images/laughter/expletives.pdf

Are the merits of using profanity warranted? It’s bloody hard to say. Will this lead to more colorful displays of expression in session? Possibly!! Maybe we should all tentatively slip in an occasional 'sentence enhancer' into our conversation today and see what happens. Just food for thought.

~ Simon

Image acknowledgement: BBC.com