Relationships

Making Meaningful Decisions

Making Meaningful Decisions

Self-Care Houston, Episode 9: Kathleen Straker joins Jennifer in a conversation about a process of decision making that brings joy to life in a way that aligns with your values. Kathleen works with students from around the globe through her learning strategies workshops and individual academic coaching sessions. She has also coauthored three books for students in the health sciences. You can find Kathleen at Vital Study Skills. Subscribe in iTunes.

 

Making Decisions

Resources from this episode:

 

The Anatomy of Trust

Brene Brown TrustHealthy relationships are built by cultivating trust. But, what does that mean? In her recent talk, “The Anatomy of Trust,” Dr. Brené Brown shares key components that are the hallmarks of trusting relationships with others and with yourself.

In her talk, Brené shares Charles Feltman’s “most beautiful definition of trust:”

“Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.”

Brené continues: “Feltman says the opposite is the essence of distrust: “What I’ve shared with you, that is important to me, is not safe with you.”

Basically, “When we trust, we are braving connection with someone. So what is trust?” Brené gives us the acronym BRAVING, which forms the anatomy of trust:

BOUNDARIES
(“THERE IS NOT TRUST WITHOUT BOUNDARIES.”)

RELIABILITY
(“I CAN ONLY TRUST YOU IF YOU DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU’LL DO” AGAIN AND AGAIN.)

ACCOUNTABILITY
(“I CAN ONLY TRUST YOU IF WHEN YOU MAKE A MISTAKE, YOU’RE WILLING TO OWN IT, APOLOGIZE FOR IT AND MAKE AMENDS. I CAN ONLY TRUST YOU IF WHEN I MAKE A MISTAKE, I AM ALLOWED TO OWN IT, APOLOGIZE AND MAKE AMENDS.”)

VAULT
(KEEPING A CONFIDENCE)

INTEGRITY
(BROWN’S DEFINITION OF INTEGRITY: “CHOOSING COURAGE OVER COMFORT, CHOOSING WHAT’S RIGHT OVER WHAT’S FUN, FAST OR EASY, AND PRACTICING YOUR VALUES NOT JUST PROFESSING YOUR VALUES.”)

NON-JUDGMENT
(YOU AND I BOTH CAN STRUGGLE AND ASK FOR HELP)

GENEROSITY
(“OUR RELATIONSHIP IS ONLY A TRUSTING RELATIONSHIP IF YOU CAN ASSUME THE MOST GENEROUS THING ABOUT MY WORDS, INTENTIONS AND BEHAVIORS. AND THEN CHECK IN WITH ME.”)

Creating Financial Stability

self-care Houston finances

Self-Care Houston, Episode 6: Daniel Scholl joins Jennifer Christian in a conversation about empowering individuals, couples, and families to sustain ongoing financial stability. Daniel also shares how we can overcome obstacles that get in the way of achieving our financial goals. Daniel is the program manager for financial coaching at Family Houston. Subscribe in iTunes.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Self-Care for Caregivers

Virgil Fry Self-Care for Caregivers

Self-Care Houston, Episode 5: Virgil Fry joins Jennifer in a conversation about the needs and challenges of self-care for caregivers. Virgil is the Executive Director at Lifeline Chaplaincy. Subscribe in iTunes.

Resources for Caregivers

Abusive Relationships

trauma counseling

Self-Care Houston, Episode 4: Chau Nguyen joins Jennifer in a conversation about abusive relationships, important resources and self-care. Chau is a social worker and the chief marketing officer at Houston Area Womens Center. Subscribe in iTunes.

Resources from Podcast:

 

Going Through Difficult Times

kim Fredrickson going through difficult times

Self-Care Houston, Episode 3: Kim Fredrickson joins Jennifer in a conversation about being a compassionate friend to yourself when you go through difficult times. Kim is a retired marriage and family therapist and the author of “Give Yourself A Break: Turning Your Inner Critic Into a Compassionate Friend.” Subscribe in iTunes.

Resources Mentioned in Podcast

Anger

Chelsie Sargent Anger

Self-Care Houston, Episode 2: Chelsie Sargent joins Jennifer in a conversation about anger and self-care. Chelsie is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Anger Resolution Therapist, and LPC-Supervisor. Subscribe in iTunes.

Resource

Managing Anger in Relationships

Self-Compassion

Shannon McLain self-compassion

Self-Care Houston, Episode 1: Shannon McLain joins Jennifer in a conversation about the practice of Self-Compassion. Shannon is a  mind-body medicine practitioner and certified health and wellness coach at The Center for Intentional Healing.

Subscribe in iTunes.

Loving Kindness Meditation with Shannon McLain

Bibliography

Kindness in Our Marriage

I am excited to introduce everyone to Waymon and his wife Charla. Waymon is a licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist, a researcher, and an advocate in matters related to social justice. I recently asked Waymon to contribute some thoughts about how kindness impacts the marriage relationship from the perspective of a marriage and family therapist. Waymon blew me away when he and his wife Charla decided to go even further and authentically share how kindness has impacted their own marriage of 47 years. Thank you, Waymon and Charla, for your generous contribution and the gift of your transparency:

Kindness in Our MarriageBy Charla and Waymon Hinson

Kindness in marriage? What is it? How does it get shown? We have wondered about these questions and have enjoyed the discussion and hopefully our marriage will be stronger as a result. Since the earliest of days of our marriage, we have been a highly ritualized couple. We have been intentional about these matters. From the earliest days of our 47 years of marriage to each other, we have created rituals, or patterns, around daily events as well as celebrations that signify to each other that those things matter and that we within the circle of those behaviors matter uniquely to each other.

For me, Waymon, as a theologian, I want to make sense out of relational matters within a framework that fits us both.  That, for me, is related to Shalom (peace). In the garden there was Shalom between the first woman, man, and their God, and within their world as it was created. Once selfishness came in, the opposite of kindness, things got crazy, and here we are.  So, in our day to day lives, I think, we attempt to create Shalom in small ways each day.

Kindness in our marriageA second idea comes from the biblical text in Ephesians 5: “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The words for submission and love, both inferred and made explicit in this lengthy text, can be defined as “being lovingly response to the needs of the other person unconditionally.”  If that is the case, kindness, generosity, love, and loving responses can guide the day and its decisions, in the big things and the smaller things. Sometimes, as we all know, the little things are really the big things. Kindness and love mean taking that first step together.

For me, Charla, I do not give a lot of thought to the theology of things like that. That’s the way he thinks, but not me.  I just want to do well before my Lord and Savior. If God is pleased with things, then so am I.

In our early days now of “retirement,” those patterns with their meaning for us continue with an extra sweetness. While our human frailties certainly come out way too often, generosity of heart and spirit also come out. For us, kindness involves giving each other the freedom to do that which is uniquely our calling.  For us, kindness also involves the reconnection of ourselves at specific planned and random times during the day.  For instance, Charla graces me, Waymon, with time in the morning for reflection, reading, writing, and other creative things.  Words are not exchanged until breakfast time.  Then, we share in the morning meal and ritual. Thankfully, I, Charla, cook, because he is not very good at that. Also, with gratitude, I know that he will make our coffee because he is good at that, and then we’ll pray, eat, read the newspaper, plan the day, and read a section from a spiritually oriented book. That is not Waymon’s choice, but because of his kindness, we do it.

The whole love languages conversation fits here, it seems to us.  Each of us has a preferred way of receiving love. I, Charla, am very action oriented, so a way he shows kindness to me is doing action-oriented things that show his love for me, or that “acts of service” thing.  A kind thing for him to do is to vacuum the floors or take out the trash without being asked. Since words of affirmation are also important to me, using affirming language in meaningful ways, saying words of gratitude, for instance, is another way of showing kindness to me. Words of affirmation after a time with our youngest grandson or after a well-planned out meal are important to me.

Since Waymon’s love language is also about words of affirmation, I, Charla, know to encourage his advocacy efforts or his writing efforts with words of encouragement, and there is another kindness done.  Another of his love languages is time together, so, I know that watching ball games with him or sitting and drinking coffee Saturday mornings is a kindness that I give to him.

These are just a couple of slices in time for us.  We believe that kindness and generosity are interwoven with what we say, do, think, and feel toward each other. Each other with God as our witness is the focus of kind actions, thoughts, and emotions.

Kindness in our marriageOut of kindness, generosity, and mutual respect, we develop a spirit of “us” that guides our decisions and behaviors. “Us-ness” is critically important to us, and with a spirit of kindness and generosity, we are very careful to do those things that encourages that spirit of “us.” Thanks to Terry Hargrave for coaching us on this point.  Kindness says that Waymon likes baseball, so “us” likes baseball. Kindness says that Charla likes fixer upper shows, and so the “us” in the relationship likes those things. Individually we might not like baseball or HGTV, but the “us” in our relationship really likes baseball and HGTV. Kindness also encourages the other to see personal goals and ambitions that only serve to make better the couple relationship. Waymon has his friends and interests.  Charla has her friends and interests.  At the end of the day, we always come together, back to where we started.

This has been a curious exercise for both of us as we have discussed and looked into our marriage and how kindness is a part of who we are and what we do.

Join Our Kindness Community:

Last week, marriage and family therapist, Diana Walla graciously contributed a guest post, The Gift of Uncertainty.

We can all share great ideas about building more positivity into our society. Join the conversation on our public Facebook group, A Word Imagined, to share ideas.

The New Dinner Table

I am thrilled to have another contribution as part of the conversation going on in the Kindness CommunityA Word Imagined, from Dr. Jeff M. Christian about how we can all grow a healthier discourse in our online communities. His thoughts offer some creative ways to cultivate a kinder experience that makes space for a healthier, healing discourse in our society. Thank you, Jeff, for your insights:

Healthy Debate

By Dr. Jeff M. Christian

The New Dinner Table

Only about an hour before company arrives. The smells of onions and garlic are starting to permeate the rest of the house beyond the kitchen, smells that will hit the guests the minute they cross the threshold of the front door. By that time, the food will have magically transformed from separate ingredients into whole courses.

The table is set. You went through the stacks in the cabinet to make sure that you did not bring out one of the chipped plates. The glasses, forks, knives, spoons. The bread in the oven will not finish baking until five minutes after the guests arrive. That is on purpose. Everything is in its right place.

The guests arrive. You shake hands, perhaps a cordial hug shared among those who do not know one another quite well enough to embrace. These are not the kinds of guests like family where you let down your guard. These guests have never seen you on a bad day. They do not know about some of the pain you carry down deep. For now, handshakes and side hugs will do.

A Season of Handshakes and Side Hugs

Healthy Debate
I am wondering these days if a season of handshakes and side hugs might be in order, in some sort of general sense. The tone of voice with one another online, for instance, is more like that of a dysfunctional family forced to eat Thanksgiving dinner together when no one actually wants to be there. Comments sections of online news stories are filled with drunk uncles who yell more and more as the night wears on. Raised voices fly above the table cloth only a few inches above the appropriately placed fall colors and side dishes. Grandma makes a passing comment about the price of her prescription medication and three-sheets-to-the-wind-uncle verbally pounces on her for saying something that may have the potential to undermine all of western democracy.

I know things are strange. In no way do I suggest that we bury our heads in the sand. On the contrary, past civilizations thrived in times of healthy debate. When people think critically together, lights come on where people wind up saying things like, “Well, I never thought of it that way.” Civil discourse is not only necessary; it is good. It is healthy. It is, well, civil.

Pause Button

The only way to resurrect the corpse of civil discourse is to hit the pause button on the entire project and practice some recently forgotten virtues. We need to welcome one another like acquaintances spending time together for the first time, like people who will take the time to actually get to know one another. We need to set our tables assuming the best in others, rather than holding those who might potentially disagree with me in suspicious contempt.

Most of all, we need to listen to one another.

Join Our Kindness Community:

Last week, Kim Fredrickson graciously contributed a guest post, Self-Compassion Fuels Kindness.

We can all share great ideas on how to build more positivity into our society. Join the conversation on our public Facebook group, A Word Imagined, to share ideas.