This was actually a homework assignment I gave to one of the lovely ladies that attended our May Sip and Chat. However, I realized that this is actually something that everyone can benefit from. The assignment is this:
Institute Toast it Up Tuesday!
Toast it Up Tuesday- This exercise is designed to occur once a week (on Tuesday). You are to pour you a glass of your favorite drink (it can be tea, coffee, juice, wine, etc.) and you have to "toast" all of your accomplishments that week. You can have no less than 5 and as many as you can name until you finish your drink. There are no accomplishments too small, the only stipulation is that it must have occurred during that week. This is to ensure that you are constantly focused on your present wins and aren't celebrating wins from months (or even years) ago. Remember to raise your glass and toast (even if you are by yourself) and say your accomplishment out loud! There is power in hearing you talk highly about yourself.
The "Why?" I realize that too many of us are going through life expending an extreme amount of energy on our failures, but simply brush over or discredit our accomplishments (our "wins"). In order to have a clear view of ourselves, we must keep accurate score. In order to boost our confidence and self-esteem, we must be able to celebrate ourselves. In order to have a healthy relationship we must learn to love ourselves first. Learning how to celebrate yourself is a great skill that will eventually help you in your relationship. We need to learn how to celebrate our accomplishments and speak highly of ourselves. This assignment is to be followed every week so that we can practice this skill. This will also help us to take time and focus on the positive. When we are able to celebrate the positive in ourselves we are able to do the same for others. I find that some of my clients have beaten themselves down with "shoulds" and other forms of obligation, they don't see their accomplishments because they are always focused on what they "should" have or be doing. There are many who are depressed simply because they are beating themselves up for not achieving some goal, never taking a moment to celebrate who they are and what they have overcome and accomplished to get where they are. If you don't have the confidence that you want, it may not be because you are not worthy of that confidence, it may be that you are just taking score wrong. You are overemphasizing your losses (failures) and not acknowledging your wins (accomplishments).
How does this help? This exercise is scheduled to happen every week so that you cultivate this as a normal practice in your life. Setting time to practice noticing, speaking out loud, and celebrating your accomplishments once a week helps you to develop these skills. It's like developing a muscle, you have to work it out to build it up.
Get Your Spouse Involved. My husband and I have decided to adopt this practice and to do it together. We each pour a glass of wine and toast to one another's accomplishments. This is beneficial to keeping your marriage healthy because this is nice way to "sneak in" a little date night! You are not only getting time to check in on your spouse but you are actually coming together as a unit to celebrate the good that you are each accomplishing individually. Developing this skill together is highly beneficial as it will sow into your marriage the practice of looking for, noticing, acknowledging and celebrating the positive! This is also a way to ensure that your spouse feels appreciated, celebrated, and supported by you and vice versa.
Be sure to add this to your calendar and raise your glass on Toast it Up Tuesdays!
Wishing you happy and healthy relationships,
One great thing about this new age, is that more and more therapeutic techniques and practices are getting mainstream. With more people being open to going to therapy people are more aware of the tactics that are taught within the therapeutic relationship. One of those tactics for example, is the use of "I" statements. This is a great practice because it prevents people from using inflammatory statements like "you always" or "you never". Statements like these often are often made by one partner with the intention to express how they feel, but the other partner hears it only as an attack on them. They often don't gain clarity from statements like these, but instead find themselves getting defensive and offended- never a good thing; so insert - "I" statements.
While it takes some practice to really get this practice down, I highly encourage people to use this tactic. I have even encouraged couples I have worked with to use this practice because it helps facilitate conversation and keep the attacks at bay. However, in my past work, I have also seen how sometimes when not used properly these "I" statements can still be inflammatory. Below are a few ways I have seen "I" statements turn into aggressive (or passive aggressive) statements:
Now that we talked about how "I" statements could go wrong. You know I won't leave you hanging, I gotta give you some tips to help you out. Below are a healthier way of communicating the four statements above.
CORRECTED "I" Statements
Wishing you happy and healthy relationships,
We each have a little kid inside of us. It's the part of us that is still trying to understand the world, the part of us that is still trying to get their needs met, and the part of us that can be hurt easily (whether we show this outwardly or not). This is the part of us that gets hurt and uses immature methods to convey that reality (i.e. lashing out, pettiness, arguing, or passive aggressive revenge). It is not wise to ignore our inner child. It is not wise for us to ignore the existence of our spouse's inner child. We need to acknowledge, accept and care for that inner child, both in ourselves and our spouse.
Sometimes what keeps couples from hurting one another is their ability to see each other's frailties. When you are able to look at your spouse and see that their behavior (which may annoy/hurt you) does not come from a place of malice, but from a broken place it changes the way you engage with your spouse. If you are able to see the inner child in your spouse it helps to soften your heart like nothing else. Just as you can feel yourself melt when you see a small adorable baby, there is a tenderness that comes when you are able to see this vulnerable side of your spouse. Note: This is why intimacy (vulnerable interaction) is important, it helps your spouse feel more connected to you and softens their heart toward you. It is important to see your spouse in this light because when there is a certain level of vulnerability present in the relationship, it increases the level of compassion. Compassion keeps bitterness, pettiness, and revenge away. Compassion keeps you from harming your spouse with your words and your actions.
Tip: Do things with your spouse that will make your inner child excited.
I remember a time that my husband and I were playing around and I started laughing. I must have caught the giggles, because I was laughing so joyfully, so freely, and so purely. Side note: I laugh and joke a lot so I'm always laughing, what made this stand out was the sound of the laughter, it did not sound like my normal laugh. It sounded like the laughter of a little kid. It made my husband stop and look at me and start chuckling himself.
I remember talking with my husband after that and discussing how it shocked both of us to hear that laugh. He thought, as I did, that it sounded like a little kid. It was then that I realized that in that moment, I was as free as I was when I was younger. My inner child was allowed to fully enjoy that moment. My husband responded with "awwwww" and "come here". I responded by rolling my eyes and letting him hug me.
It's important to do things that remove the stress and strain of "being an adult". It is a great stress reliever, but also it bonds the two of you. Try things like:
Note: You can choose the first activity, but be sure that you ask your spouse what they use to do as a child and plan that activity as the next. The goal is to get you both to experience the freedom of your inner child as well be able to see each other as you really are... a couple of big kids!
The wedding day shouldn't be your best memory. While marriage is fun, it can also a source of great happiness. This section is for those who wish to invest in their marriage.