therapy

Swoon Podcast BONUS EPISODE: listener Questions Answered

swoon-podcast-1

Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.


BONUS EPISODE

We’ve truly enjoyed sharing what we think everyone should know about sex and intimacy in relationships- but now it’s time to hear from some of you. Julie and Gina gathered questions on instagram and their erbsides from the hundreds of listeners who’ve already tuned in to create this bonus episode answering three listener questions.

Listen here:


Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

Join us and leave your review on any of your favorite podcast channels:

Swoon Podcast: Let's Get It On: Keeping Desire Alive in Long-term Relationships

swoon-podcast-1

Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.


This week: LET’S GET IT ON: Lasting Desire in Long-Term Relationships

Most long-term couples experience something called desire fatigue (the slow decline of sexual connection and/or activity the longer you’re together) but most couples don’t want to accept low desire as an inevitability.

In today’s podcast Gina and Julie explore the common contributors to desire fatigue in relationships and the understanding you need to overcome this very common issue.

This episode covers:

  • How to create lasting desire in long term relationship

  • What happens when passion seems to fade in your relationship?

  • While it's very common for desire to shift over time, there are things you can do to keep the desire and passion alive in your relationship

  • How desire, fascination and autonomy can go hand in hand

  • The ways we shift as we cohabitate or spend more time together

  • The importance of being really clear about your expectations for time spent together

Memorable quotes in the podcast

On being in a relationship:

“In the beginning you'll stay up all night long having sex even though you have to work in the morning and then go to work without taking a shower and smelling like sex because you don't care. And then over time you say, “Are you kidding me? It's 9:00, I have to go to bed! I have to work in the morning.”

“The emotional intimacy can parallel the sexual intimacy. I know some folks who will stay up all night talking - “Oh you love broccoli, I love broccoli! We have so much in common. This is so exciting!” And then a few years down the road, broccoli isn't as exciting any more”

“Earlier in a relationship we are more invested in our individuality...we are more autonomous and that both fuels me personally, makes me feel confident and alive...and over the course of a relationship I might start stripping away some of those things to spend more time with my partner.”

On the honeymoon stage:

“In the beginning there are also the chemicals going off in our body, which are hard to replicate. The brain scan of someone on heroin can look the same as the brain scan of someone who is in love. Love is a drug for a lot of people. And if you know anything about drugs, you need more of a substance to get the same high. How do I get more of you? Eventually, I'm not going to feel as high. And that's a bummer for a lot of folks.”

On the ways desire fades:

“Comfort and stability are very good things for a relationship and many of the practices that build those up, also eat away at the heat portion of the relationship – the mystery, fascination, intrigue.”

“Think about the other areas of your life – your dream job or dream home or dream city or a shiny new car or new toy or cell phone, something that you've been pining for - and you get it and it's awesome, but it's not as awesome for the rest of your life. Part of our nature does that. Something is shiny and new and exciting and over time, it's not that we don't value it any more, we just aren't as lit up by it any more. Those chemicals aren't going off.”

“Some of it is the newness and uncertainty and some of it is that new phone has started wearing sweatpants and watching Netflix every night. Part of it is that we also put more energy into showing up and being present for each other in the beginning.”

On relationships taking work:

“Life requires energy. Anything that I want to have in my life long term requires energy and intention.”

“We have this idea that relationships should be easy without work, that causes a lot of us to think we can not invest much energy there, which can then lead to our partner feeling neglected”

Resources Shared in This Episode

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

Esther Perel TED Talk - The secret to desire in a long-term relationship

Reminisce about one your favorite erotic shared experiences.

Set up a time you can be fully present. And share a story about a time you felt connected and erotic.It doesn’t have to be about sex. Paint a picture with your words. Share the details. What did it feel, smell, sound, look or taste like? This can remind you of a time there was a lot of heat and desire. And it can give you ideas about things you can reinvigorate or bring back from earlier times in your relationship. Take turns. And as the listener, hear your partner with warmth and engagement.

About Your Swoon Hosts

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sexuality counselor and communication consultant specializing in healthy boundaries, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity. She supports non-traditional couples all over the world as a retreat leader and certified relationship coach.
Connect with Gina

Julie Jeske, LPC is a sex and relationship counselor. She has a private practice where she helps clients increase intimacy, ignite passion and deepen their connection to themselves and others. Julie especially loves to help women discover who they are sexually. Through counseling, online classes, or in-person retreats; her clients learn how to talk about their sexual and relationship desires, and explore ways to make them a reality.
Connect with Julie


Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

Join us and leave your review on any of your favorite podcast channels:

Swoon Podcast: Tell Me Somethin' Good

swoon-podcast-1

Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.


This week: TELL ME SOMETHIN"‘ GOOD": Sexual Communication for COuples

"We can't keep talking about sex without talking about how we talk about sex." Join Gina and JUlie this week as they break down everything you need to know about sexual communication in relationships.

This episode covers:

  • Most people struggle to talk about sex without conflict in relationships

  • How to ask for what you want

  • When, where and how to talk about sex in a way that works best for connection

  • How to flip the story you're telling about sex in your relationship from "this is hard" to "we still got it"

  • What's the best way to start a conversation about sex that doesn't leave you feeling rejected

Memorable quotes in the podcast

On why we don't talk about sex:

"Very few people get great sex ed in the first place... very limited info on the facts of how bodies work... and then how to communicate what you like or don't like- that kind of vulnerability - very few of us have any skills training in."

"The vulnerability of asking for something that is meaningful to me is vulnerable. And the more meaningful it is the riskier it feels to ask."

"Often people don't come at the first sign of challenge. By the time they come to me, talking about sex is a problem. Every time they talk about it it's a fight... The only time they talk about it is when they fight and what happens then, in order to avoid a fight is people don't talk about it anymore."

One baseline recommendation from the podcast:

"Everybody needs to talk more about sex. And talk more with better boundaries. Like where or when is the best time to bring this up?"

On reading each other's minds:

"There's a romanticizing that happens around being able to read each other's minds and someone just knowing what we want without even saying it. That seems to be the gold standard. And that is why we don't have sexual communication."

On trust and sexual communication:

"There are very few things in a relationship more reinforcing of trust than me being vulnerable and it being received with warmth."

Resources Shared in This Episode

Action Steps from the Podcast

Create a before, during, and after communication practice for your sexual connection.

First try integrating conversations about your dreams, desires, fantasies, and positive sexual memories with your partner, without making an immediate request.

Then work on talking during your sexual activity by asking lots of questions requesting permission and consent so you get input on what works for your partner- and to heighten the experience of connection and intimacy for you.

Try to incorporate a yes-and approach to help sexual energy keep flowing between you and your partner. Instead of just saying no, try to re-direct the energy to what you want more of.

Finally, start practicing sharing a "highlights reel" with your partner soon after you are sexual or have sex where you share the things you liked that you just shared. The more specific, the better.

Your Swoon hosts

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC is a sexuality counselor and communication consultant specializing in healthy boundaries, passionate relationships, jealousy, and infidelity. She supports non-traditional couples all over the world as a retreat leader and certified relationship coach.
Connect with Gina

Julie Jeske, LPC is a sex and relationship counselor. She has a private practice where she helps clients increase intimacy, ignite passion and deepen their connection to themselves and others. Julie especially loves to help women discover who they are sexually. Through counseling, online classes, or in-person retreats; her clients learn how to talk about their sexual and relationship desires, and explore ways to make them a reality.
Connect with Julie


Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

Join us and leave your review on any of your favorite podcast channels:

Swoon Podcast: I Would Do Anything For Love, But I Won't Do That

swoon-podcast-1

Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.


This week: Low Desire Partners in Relationships

Join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, two Portland, Oregon-based sexperts in a conversation about the most common sexual issue couples face: mismatched sexual desire.

Learn why couples face different levels of desire and take home a tool to help you connect, even when it’s not easy.

This Episode Covers

  • The ways “lower desire” can affect an individual and a relationship

  • Many of the factors that can influence how much desire someone experiences

  • The difference between spontaneous desire and responsive desire 

  • Information about the Human Sexual Response Cycle and a new way to look at arousal and desire

  • How “practicing willingness” instead of “waiting for desire” can change your sexual experience

  • Practical tools you can use in your relationship or with yourself to explore willingness, pleasure and desire

Memorable Quotes From This Episode:

On low desire - 

“It's easy to go to that place of 'I have low desire and something is wrong with me', rather than 'my life is super full and complicated right now and I'm not able to access my desire because so much is going on.'” 

“Our whole culture reinforces this - if one of us has lower desire that means I'm broken, you're broken or we're broken – that's just not really true, there are so many factors that affect our desire”

On spontaneous desire - 

“Spontaneous desire is how most of the people I talk to expect desire to show up – it's typically what we experience in the beginning of relationships or see in the movies.”

On responsive desire -

“One of the questions I'll often ask folks is, “If you do have a sexual experience together – what happens afterwards?” The person who identifies as having lower desire will often say, 'That was so much fun, remind me how much I love that!'”

“Responsive desire is when our bodies or brains are feeling something that feels good, desire kicks in in response to that.”

On exploring willingness - 

“Sometimes if you can really show up and not be stressed about what it is supposed to look like or what is going to happen next and just engage and tune into your body and your pleasure and the present moment it will potentially lead to something else because the arousal has kicked in, your body is starting to warm up, your brain is starting to warm up, you're feeling really connected and then that desire kicks and you want more – not all the time, but often, that's what happens for folks.”

“It's important for us to know our “nos” so we can truly know our “yeses”.”

Resources Shared in This Episode

Nothing is Wrong with your Sex Drive

Basson Model

Action Steps

Make Out!

First define what counts as making out so you and your partner have similar expectations.

Set a timer and make out for 5 minutes every night – if kissing for 5 minutes is a struggle, find a way to connect for the remainder of the 5 minutes.

This exercise helps cultivate a willingness to show up and be affectionate.

You can also have a solo practice for exploring willingness.

Touch yourself in a way that doesn't focus on orgasm. If you typically focus on your genitals what's it like to focus on other parts of your body? Can you experience new pathways of pleasure that don't involved the parts of your body you typically focus on?

If you have a vagina and would like more ideas about how you might explore your body, OMGYes is a good resource.


Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

Join us and leave your review on any of your favorite podcast channels:

Swoon Podcast: Don't You Want Me Baby?

swoon-podcast-1

Are you ready for a life and relationship that makes you swoon?

Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire.

Whether you want fresh and honest information about sex and relationships or tools to create more fulfilling intimacy and pleasure, this podcast is going to help you connect meaningfully with yourself and your lovers.


This week: Desire Mismatch in Couples

Join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, two Portland, Oregon-based sexperts in a conversation about the most common sexual issue couples face: mismatched sexual desire.

Learn why couples face different levels of desire and take home a tool to help you connect, even when it’s not easy.

This episode covers:

  • The most common issue folks come to couples counseling to discuss: mismatched desire.

  • How common is it to have a different libido from your partner?

  • How desire fluctuates and changes over time and in different contexts.

  • How to navigate the brakes and gas pedals with your lover to have a more fulfilling sex life.

  • How to be more turned on by life and lit up from the inside.

  • Two excellent resources to learn more about relationships with unequal desires.

  • One tool to connect with your partner even if you have different desires.


Memorable quotes in the podcast

Julie on the way it feels to have mismatched desires in a relationship:

“This comes up in all kinds of ways, and typically somebody feels bad about where their level of desire is. Sometimes it’s the person who wants to try a bunch of things, they might feel shame around it- ‘Why can’t I just accept what I already have?’ and sometimes if someone is experiencing a lower level of desire in terms of frequency or wanting any sex in general they feel bad like there’s something wrong with them.”

 

Gina on the impact of mismatched desire in relationships:

“Either we take it personally, either the low or higher desire partner or both take it personally, ‘I’m broken’ or there’s something ‘broken’ about us or our relationship because our whole cultural narrative about shared desire tells us over and over that if your relationship is healthy you should intuitively read your partner wants without speaking out loud and naturally flow into a bedroom and want the exact things and the exact same time, climax together and desire it again at the same frequency on a regular basis. 

And if not, our whole culture tells us there’s something wrong with your relationship. But the truth is mismatched desire is actually much more the norm.“

“The quality of your relationship can’t be judged on the levels of desire you share.“

 

On the goals of sex therapy for couples with mismatched desire:

“ 'Sex is easy. Sex is natural. It should be spontaneous. I don’t want to talk about it, that ruins the vibe.' There are all these ideas in our brains about what we think it’s supposed to be and then we try to measure our actual experience to a fantasy and then we feel horrible.”

“Sex is easy, sex is natural is the goal of every couple who comes into couples work. The truth is it doesn’t align all that often for folks BUT it can be easier, we can make talking about it feel much more natural. And as much as we’re saying it’s very very common to have it not line up with your partner every time, there are lots of things we can do to make it feel easier and more natural with your partner.”

 

Resources Shared in This Episode

Emily Nagoski, TED Talk: The Keys to a Happier, Healthier Sex Life

Emily Nagoski, Come As You Are (Book, Kindle, and Audiobook)


This Episode’s Action Step

Create a Desire Diary


Track the things you desire. Not only strong or big desire, also hints of desire or the moments when you feel a little piqued interest or craving.
Track the moments when you feel sexy and confident or embodied.
What do you notice?
Do you see any patterns?
Be curious about your desire.


Every Monday, join Julie Jeske and Gina Senarighi, sex therapists, pleasure specialists, and relationship coaches, as they break down what everyone needs to know about sex, relationships, intimacy, love and desire. 

Join us and leave your review on any of your favorite podcast channels:

Seven Principles for Making Your Relationship Work

Hi!  I found a great summary of one of my all-time favorite relationship books, so I wanted to be sure to share it with you. 

Seven Principles of Making Your Marriage Work by John Gottman is excellent even if you're a couple who plans never to marry.  His 40+ years researching couples in everyday environments has build a critical foundation for understanding what makes love last. 

Check it out:

 

I'd love to hear what you think after watching or reading.  Pop over to my facebook page and leave a comment, or call me for a consultation to learn how to apply these principles in your own relationship.

 

Four Powerful Relationship Tips from Esther Perel's SXSW Keynote

"The quality of your relationships is what determines the quality of your life."

- Esther Perel, SXSW 2018

 

As you know I hold a deep love and respect for the work of Esther Perel.  So I was very excited to hear she was speaking at this year's South by Southwest event. 

As usual, her talk was provocative and incredibly informative.  I'm outlining a few of my favorite takeaways for you below.  I'd love to talk with you more about it if you're interested give me a call.

 

Conversations are the heart of relationships.

But most of us are shying away from direct communication, complex conversations, and fully present connections.  We text instead of call, we back out instead of showing up, and we dive into distraction every chance we get.

If we want to combat the epidemic of loneliness our culture is facing we need to start showing up more courageously in meaningful conversations.

 

The tension between change and stability is key to relationship success

Thriving relationships can reconcile these two fundamentally different needs (security and safety vs exploration and adventure).  Some of us emerge from families needing more autonomy and some needing more safety.  Which leads to one of us more afraid of losing the other and the other more afraid of losing themselves.

The more we can name and work through this tension together, the closer we become.  Couples and partnerships who can hold this tension and carefully balance it (not too much of either end of the spectrum of autonomy vs connection) build more fulfilling relationships.

 

"Soulmate" is a new concept

How do I know I have found the one?  My one and only.  We want one person to meet the needs that a whole village used to provide.  Soulmate used to be god, and many of us have replaced religion with expectations on a partner.  

 

When we listen deeply to the experiences of another we end up standing in front of a mirror.

And we get inspiration for the kinds of courage we need to have in our own lives. Prioritize relationship work, intimacy, and repair in order to combat loneliness.

We need complex and nuanced conversations to transform the nature of relationships.  To modernize relationship structures as we have outgrown the old paradigms of binary gender. Shifting the roles of men and supporting their complex emotional experiences will create opportunities for wholeness in relationships.

And in order to change the future of intimacy and connection in our society, we all need to courageously tend and show up in more of our relationships.

 

Watch the full talk below:

Please participate with the blindfold activity by closing your eyes.  


Gina Senarighi | Couples Retreats | Communication Workshop | Relationship Coach

Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.  

Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease.  She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow. 

Call for a consultation to see how she can help you deepen connection, communicate effectively, and passionately reignite your relationship.

What to Read When You're Going Through Tough Times

We all face hard times and it can be especially difficult to find connection when things are the worst.  These are my four favorite books to read in hard times.

The Impossible Will Take a Little While

If you need a reminder of possibility amid sadness that feels global this book could be the help you need.  Paul Loeb collected essays from world leaders on how to create change, dig deep, and deal with the really hard stuff.  It could help you find hope- or at least peace.

Hyperbole and a Half

I have never seen a better description of the feeling of deep depression than the images shared by Allie Brosch.  If you want to know you're not alone in feeling deeply sad, numb, and overwhelmed (and you're also open to a little humor) read this book.  

Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide

Kate Bornstein write this treasure a while back for all the "teens, freaks, and other outlaws" who might be pushed to their limits.  The book lists  lots of ways to distract yourself, practice self-care, reach out, or just do anything other than kill yourself.  

With humor and charm and a multi-level rating system this book could help you in the darkest of times.

Tiny Beautiful Things

Cheryl Strayed wrote an advice column as Dear Sugar for a few years and compiled her best in this book.  The whole thing made me cry happy, sad, shameful, and compassionate tears.  Read it when you need the voice of that best friend who really sees you as whole and imperfect.


couples retreat | couples coach | relationship coach | relationship retreat

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC has helped thousands of couples review their growth together, and renew their connection moving forward. 

For nearly 15 years she's specialized in strengths-focused, positive psychology-based relationship advice and coaching to nurture lasting joy and and resilience in her client's relationships.  

She will help you:

  • develop a shared vision and goals- and create actionable steps to move in that direction

  • overcome outdated patterns and establish new intentional, healthy ones

  • strengthen trust or repair it after infidelity or dishonesty

  • connect in meaningful ways during and well after life transitions

  • design rituals of connection that will keep you close for many years

  • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns and learn new skills

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

 

Solution Focused Therapy Might Be For You...

What is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?

(SFBT) is an evidence-based approach to psychotherapy, which has been studied since the early 1980s.  In fact, it is one of the few approaches in psychotherapy that began as “evidence-based,” vs.  being “theory-driven” as most other models were. 

Its developers, Steve de Shazer and Insoo Berg and their team would observe sessions and noted what the therapist did that helped the client move in the direction of their goal, and then had the therapist to do more of that.

Over the next ten years, a clinical style emerged that could best be described as collegial, collaborative, and focused on solution descriptions — as opposed to more analytic or confrontative, and focused on problem description.

This approach, rather than the more common deductive one that led to most other therapies, became the standard practice of SFBT. 

 

What does the research say about Solution-Focused Therapy?

SFBT has had a large number of empirical studies, in fact enough to have been examined in two recent meta-analyses and to be officially supported as evidenced-based by numerous federal and state agencies and institutions, such as SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs & Practices (NREPP). 

The over-all conclusion of the most recent scholarly work on SFBT, is that Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is an effective approach to the treatment of psychological problems, with effect sizes similar to other evidenced-based approaches, such as CBT and IPT, but that these effects are found in fewer average sessions, and using an approach style that is more benign.

That is, the more collegial and collaborative approach of SFBT does not involve confrontation or interpretation, nor does it even require the acceptance of the underlying tenets, as do most other models of psychotherapy.  Given its equivalent effectiveness, shorter duration, and more benign approach, SFBT is considered to be an excellent first-choice evidenced-based psychotherapy approach for most psychological, behavioral, and relational problems.

Read more about Solution Focused Brief Therapy here. 


couples retreat | couples coach | relationship coach | relationship retreat

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC has helped thousands of couples review their growth together, and renew their connection moving forward. 

For nearly 15 years she's specialized in strengths-focused, positive psychology-based relationship advice and coaching to nurture lasting joy and and resilience in her client's relationships.  

She will help you:

  • develop a shared vision and goals- and create actionable steps to move in that direction
  • overcome outdated patterns and establish new intentional, healthy ones
  • strengthen trust or repair it after infidelity or dishonesty
  • connect in meaningful ways during and well after life transitions
  • design rituals of connection that will keep you close for many years
  • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns and learn new skills 

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Tragedy Far Away: How to Deal With the Orlando Shooting

I've been speaking with clients and friends all day about the sensitive emotions we're feeling in LGBTQ community after the Orlando Pulse incident.  

So many people feeling intense sadness, fear, and anger about the shootings and so many lovely people asking me "What's wrong with me?" and  "Do I have a right to feel anything even so far away from the tragedy?"

I wanted to write this across the sky for my queer family today, so I thought I would write it here to start.  I wanted to begin by addressing the second question "Do I have a right to feel anything?"

Yes, you have every right to feel intense emotions after an intense incident. 

Yes, you have every right to feel scared after seeing someone experience something scary. 

Yes, you have every right to feel shock and disbelief at something so completely disturbing.

Yes, you have every right to feel anger when witnessing such incredible injustice.

Yes, you have every right to feel your feelings.

 

Your suffering may not be the same as those more closely related to the victims at the Pulse, but your suffering is real and valid.  An attack on any one part of our LGBTQ community is an attack on all of us.

You are feeling powerful feelings because this event was like no other.

Your feelings, your empathy, comes from the deep sweet part of you most able to connect with others.  When we lose touch with our ability to empathize we lose power as a community.  

But being empathetically connected to others during a tragedy is heartbreaking.  It is totally normal to feel many different things.  Here are some common reactions:

Shock

Shock is like extreme surprise and is a person's emotional protection from being too overwhelmed by the actual event. You may be stunned, numb, or in disbelief.  You might not know what to say or think.  You might not feel anything at all. 

There is nothing wrong with experiencing shock.  

Sadness

The most common feeling found following traumatic events like this. It may become quite intense and be experienced as emptiness or despair.  

This most recent incident is especially personal to LGBTQ communities and can bring up all kinds of sadness about safety, acceptance, and belonging.  Give your sadness space.  

Anger

Anger is a common response to feeling powerless, frustrated, or even abandoned.  You might notice it when reading your facebook feed or it might show up in traffic.  

It's not uncommon for couples to bicker more after a tragedy.  Anger is a perfectly valid reaction, but notice if irritability is showing up for you before it impacts your relationship.

Anxiety

Anxiety ranges from basic insecurity to full-blown panic attacks.You might notice yourself start feeling overly cautious about leaving the house, attending Pride, or going to other events.  You might worry about friends or family.  You might start to fear coming out at all. 

Fear and anxiety can be the most paralyzing after an event like the Orlando murders.  And there can be added pressure to attend vigils or go out to demonstrate solidarity.  

Finding supportive community can be especially healing- but remember, you get to choose when and where feels safe for you.  Start small if you need to when overcoming fear and anxiety.

Here's some more information on "normal" responses to tragedy.

Some things you might want to do to help get through the tragedy:

  • Keep busy. Focus on your projects and classroom assignments. Research indicates keeping focused on day to day required tasks or routines helps mitigate the effects of stress.
  • Seek out people who care. Share your reactions, thoughts and how the experience impacted you.  Listen, ask for hugs, and connect with people who love you.
  • Know that the reactions to trauma listed here are normal responses to a very abnormal experience. They occur in varying degrees of severity and type for each person.  There's no one right way to react.
  • Prioritize self-care: eat well, get your sleep, drink lots of water, go for a walk.  Do all the most nurturing things.
  • Express your feelings with art.  When we write, Draw, paint it can help to manage the feelings related to trauma.  Consider writing a journal of your experience or feelings.
  • Spend time with quiet.  Use meditation, reading, spiritual reflection, yoga to help you stay healthy and spiritually connected.
  • Find a way to help.  Helping others is often the healthiest way to manage our own feelings of powerlessness.  Donate blood, money, food or send messages to people most impacted by the incident.  

Talking about it can help

Seek counseling if your reactions stick around a long time or significantly impact your day-to-day life.  If you can't make it to work, stop checking facebook, keep worrying endlessly, are afraid to leave the house, or stop taking good care of yourself these might be signs you could use someone to talk with.

If the feelings don't go away

It’s normal to feel sad, numb, or angry following something this upsetting- even if you don't know anyone in Orlando.  As time passes, these emotions will become less intense as you start to move forward.

But if you aren’t feeling better over time, or your grief is getting worse, it may be a sign that your grief is growing- and again, it's a good time to reach out for help.  


couples retreat | couples coach | relationship coach | online couples counseling 

Gina Senarighi, MS, MA, CPC has helped thousands of couples review their growth together, and renew their connection moving forward. 

For nearly 15 years she's specialized in strengths-focused, positive psychology-based relationship advice and coaching to nurture lasting joy and and resilience in her client's relationships.  

She will help you:

  • develop a shared vision and goals- and create actionable steps to move in that direction
  • overcome outdated patterns and establish new intentional, healthy ones
  • strengthen trust or repair it after infidelity or dishonesty
  • connect in meaningful ways during and well after life transitions
  • design rituals of connection that will keep you close for many years
  • break stale or unhealthy communication patterns and learn new skills 

Contact her for a free consultation to see if working with her is right for you.

Five Tips to Overcome Social Anxiety

Everyone experiences a little social anxiety from time to time, but every once in a while it can be overwhelming.  Social anxiety can show up when you meet with other people, on a first date, at a networking event, hosting a family gathering, and even in online forums.  It can leave you feeling nervous, shy, and awkward.  It can causes unnecessary stress and can leave us cut off from the great experiences that bring fulfillment and joy in life.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to decrease social anxiety   Here are five easy tips to ease social anxiety and have a great time when you head out into busy social spaces.

1.  Prepare yourself

Take a minute to prepare yourself before you head out.  Make sure you read the full invitation for the event so you don't miss any preparation details (when does it start and do you need a costume).  Plan plenty of time to get there (traffic and parking may only increase stress), and check the guest list to see if there is anyone you know attending.

Not only do you want to prepare for the event logistics  but you want to prepare yourself for small talk.  Practice your elevator speech in your head (where are you from, what interests you, what do you hope to do with your life) so you are prepared to give a clear impression.

You will also want to talk about something other than yourself.  In the days before the event listen to your favorite podcast, read the news, or catch up on a few favorite blog posts.  This way when conversation dims you can bring up something interesting you recently read which both tells your new friends a little about your passions, and stokes the conversation fires.

Plan out a few unobtrusive questions to ask others in polite conversation.  Most people enjoy talking about themselves and if you have a few questions at the ready (and are prepared to listen) you can make new friends just by being open and curious.  Ask where people came from, how they know the host, what drew them to this event, what they think of the artwork/music/performance/cake.

2.  Set the stage

Get specific and realistic about your expectations before you go.  Ask what you hope will happen.  Do you want to meet a professional collaborator?  Are you hoping to give out three sets of business cards?  Do you want to get laid?  Check to ensure your expectations are realistic and keep the in mind as you set out for your event.

Then imagine yourself as the calm and confident party-goer you have always dreamed of being.  Envision yourself meeting your expectation.  Think about what you look like, feel like, talk like in that space.  Imagine it with detail.  Keep this image handy and picture it just before entering your event and throughout the night when you slip away for quiet.

3.  Case the joint

Arrive early.  Even if you are the first to arrive, go early and gather a little information: where are the bathrooms and exits?  Where are the refreshments?  Get to know the lay of the land.  You can always leave and come back.

Introduce yourself to the event host as early as possible.  This is key and will be helpful for both of you!  Even the most experienced event managers can use assistance from time to time, ask them how you can help, or better yet  offer to help with a specific task.   Maybe you can take coats, pour drinks, or hang decorations.  Having a role can help you focus nervous energy and will guarantee you interaction with others as they arrive.  Plus the host is likely to introduce you around later.

4.  Have an exit strategy

Before you leave for the event have some idea what you will do afterward and what time you would like to leave.  It can be helpful to have an escape plan just in case you do feel too uncomfortable and need to leave.  If you experience a lot of social anxiety it can be especially important to have an after-care plan in place including how you will wind-down from the event.

It's also helpful to have a few segues in mind to help you out of tricky situations.  When you get cornered by someone who blabs on and on without clarity you can politely say "Excuse me, I need to refresh my drink." or "I really need to step outside for some air." to help you leave the moment with grace.

5.  Follow up

Try to thank your host before you leave for the night and make sure you follow-up with them after the event with gratitude for the invitation.  Don't forget to send a quick message to the other people you meet, or collect business cards from.   These follow-up messages may lead to greater collaboration in business, additional events, or deeper friendships later on.

Finally, follow-up with yourself.  Remember those expectations you set early on?  What went well tonight?   What were your successes?  It's so very important to recharge our brains with positive energy after attending something stressful.  You did it!  You went there, you met someone, and that was a step in the right direction!

These simple steps have helped so many of my clients, I hope they will make meeting new people easier for you too!  Leave a comment below and let me know how these work for you!

Revenge to Compassion: Six Steps to Repair Hurt Hearts

One of the best books on forgiveness and reconciliation is Laura Davis's "I Thought We'd Never Speak Again"  I have read it and recommended it so many times to clients and readers in difficult places.   Although the book focuses on the experience of abuse survivors and their families, there are really amazing lessons on compassion for all of us regardless of our survived traumas.   It has helped my clients with break-ups, moves, family relationships and bad bosses.

I am not suggesting reconciliation is always the answer (neither does this author), only that it is very important to move from pain toward compassion over time .  More and more scientific research is showing that carrying pain and resentment has real effects on our health and well-being.  It is critical to our ability to create new partnerships, friendships, and lead in organizations.

So how do you move toward compassion when you're in a place of hurt?  Pause and reflect on these six steps in a conflict in your own life and then move with warmth and openness (I can't emphasize this part enough)  in each step when you are ready:

1.  Speak out.

Shame often comes to visit either or both party after a disagreement and can work to isolate us further.  The greatest antidote to shame is to reach out to another for support, or to offer a genuine apology.  It can be helpful to acknowledge how hard it is to reach out, and share that you still really want the connection even though its hard.  The more transparent and consistent you can be the better.   Even if time and shame have kept you apart reaching out (with warmth and openness) directly can help to repair broken bonds.

2. Humanize each other.

Remember that everyone carries some hurt and often conflict comes out of misunderstood pain.  Listen authentically to the story of  other party (with warmth and openness).  Demonstrate your listening by offering to paraphrase back what you hear to be sure you are really getting it and don't rush.  Some hurts can take a bit to surface clearly so be patient.  Remember the sweetness, good humor, and shared values that brought you together in the first place.

3. Consider the ways you have demonstrated behavior similar to your "enemy."

It's not easy to do, but we must remember that in certain circumstances we all have the capacity to do the wrong thing.  We have all made mistakes in friendships and relationships.  Remembering this and forgiving ourselves for past similar wrong doing  helps us move forward.

4. Connect with sadness.

You cannot bandage a wound without looking at it and you cannot repair a relationship without looking at the sadness that happens when someone is hurt.  It is important for both parties to acknowledge and really connect with their sadness (no matter how small it may seem) in order to move forward with confidence.

5. Honor your memories.

Honor the greatness that you have in the past with care.  Some couples do this informally over conversation, some partners have shared memory books, one set of roommates I worked with painted memories on the walls of their co-op before moving on to a new place after much strife.  Whether formal or informal, honor your shared history before moving on to your next chapter.

6. Commit to future acts of service and/or creation.

Planning to make something beautiful or invest in others together can be a great way to heal together and individually.  These can be acts of service and creation within the relationship (planting a garden together, planning a trip) and acts directed towards your external community (hosting a dinner party, volunteering for a cause you care about .  Setting future positive plans together will change the nature of your time together fundamentally.

These steps can be taken on your own or in relationship.  It can be very helpful to build compassion on your own even if you never decide to connect with the other person.  Sharing your story with an empathetic ear, humanizing your "enemy," honoring grief and memories, and taking part in service and creative acts will help your heart heal on its own and will help free you from the weight of contempt that builds without compassion.

These steps will work differently for each and every reader who visits my post.  Let me know how they apply for you below.

Tame Your Self-Critic: Stop Should-ing All Over Yourself

I received the best advice of my life when I was in Coaching School in 2007.  I was overwhelmed, had just left a dreary job, was in the middle of one I didn't know how to manage, was leaving my sweet six-year dream relationship, and had just started another round of graduate school.  I used a string of "shoulds" while explaining a missed assignment when my instructor cut me off.

"What would your life be like if you stopped should-ing all over yourself?"  She asked.  It was all I needed to ignite serious change in my life.  I began to notice how often I did things not because I wanted to, but because I thought I should.  It became clear how often I thought the word or acted on shoulds without even saying them out loud.

She was right, it was time for a change.

I am not saying it got easier that moment.  I had to do a lot of work to realign my life to my values and vision.  But that one question helped me loosen up my relationship with my strong self critic and be a little more gentle with myself.

Instead of making decisions because I felt obligated (the kinds of decisions that build resentment), or to avoid something, I was making decisions because I wanted to, and because they fulfilled one of my core values.  At every cross roads I would ask myself if this decision would lead to greater integrity or health.  if I couldn't answer absolute yes, I would make myself say no.

So now I ask clients, How would your life be different without all the shoulds?  What values would you like to move towards?   How can I help you stop shoulding all over yourself?

Boost Your Resilience: Four Ways to Get Through Tough Times

Every one of us goes through difficult times now and again.  Some of us are more resilient and weather the storm with grace.   I have been reading about resilience thinking about my own life and the lives of the amazing clients I get to work with.  Five key themes emerged:

1.  Resilient people are resourceful and have good problem solving skills.

A large part of my work with clients focuses on getting people out of a rut and on a different track.  This can be very difficult to do on your own.  If you don't want to hire a consultant like me, sit down with a friend and host an improvement brainstorm.  Write or draw the issue in the middle of a large piece of paper and brainstorm every possible solution- even list the ones you have already tried, those you have already considered (and possibly ruled out), and those that seem completely ridiculous or impossible.  Draw or list as many as you can (take a snack break if you need to) and then walk away for a day.  Let these great ideas marinate.  Just by putting them down on paper and sharing them with a friend you are helping change your pattern by doing something different.  New possibilities will arise!

2.  Resilient people ask for help.

One of the hardest things to do is ask for help.  I am reading Brene' Brown's book, The Gifts of Imperfection about shame, vulnerability, and resilience and in it she says "You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs."  We all go through difficult times, and  often feel great shame about our struggles.  We think we should have it all together.  The truth is, no one has it all together.  Shame isolates us when we need the kindness of others most (see #4).  The only cure for this kind of shame is to do exactly what seems most scary: share it with someone else.  Find someone safe and supportive, authentic and grounded and tell them whats going on for you right now.  Then ask them for specific help.  Maybe you need help brainstorming solutions, with childcare, cooking dinners, or maybe you just need an empathetic ear.  Get clear about the help you need and be brave enough to ask for it.

3.  People with greater resilience believe they can cope.

No matter what you are going through remember: THIS IS TEMPORARY.  You will get through it.  You really will, the question is how do you want to get there?  What do you want to see on the other side of this issue?  A year from now how will you want to remember moving through it?  Envision yourself persevering with grace and build belief that you will get there.

4.  Resilient people have built support networks.

Facing something difficult is bad enough- why do it alone?  All too often I work with clients who let shame, numbing, and pain create isolation in addition to the issue that brought them into my office in the first place.  It's important to build and maintain a strong support network of family and friends every day and it will sustain you through trying times.  One way my clients and I have fortified our networks is through daily gratitude practice.  Pick a format that works well for you (my partner does drawings, I write postcards, a colleague sends emails) and write or say one genuine thank you each day to the people in your support network, who inspire you.  This helps recognize the people around you for their great friendship, and helps you remember all the people who love you when you need it most.

I hope this helps you build stronger resilience to get through difficulties.   Of course it's not easy.  I don't want you to go through difficult times alone, and am here to help.  If you'd like to schedule a free consultation to boost your resilience set it up here.

If you have had successes facing challenges in the past please share with us.  Post a comment below and tell us: how have you boosted your resilience?

Three Books to Help Heal Your Heartache

A good friend of mine wrote the other day asking for suggested reading after her recent break up from her sweetheart of years.  Breakups can be so painful, and it can help to have reliable words to lean on when you are going through difficult times.  Here are the books I recommended she read.  I hope they might help you through difficult times.

These first three are best for you if you just need to heal your heart and move on.  They can help, but the best remedy is a combination of time, friendship, good self care, and coaching (call me if you want help with that last one).

Comfortable with Uncertainty- Pema Chodron

One of the more troubling parts of a break up is the loss of an imagines future you planned to share with your loved one.  You may have felt very sure things were heading in one direction only to be surprised that they are headed down a very different path.  This fantastic book can help you work through

Happiness - Thich Nhat Hanh

One of the hardest things to get through is grief and loss surrounding a break up.  This book will guide you through daily actions you can take to re-orient yourself toward happiness without avoiding the emotions connected to your loss.

The Happiness Advantage- Shawn Achor

Its not easy to think about happiness after a big heartache.  Give yourself some time, and know that when you are ready to start rebuilding this book has some simple actions you can take to help get you there.

Remember to give it time, and focus on your feelings first.  As one of my great mentors used to say, you can't force anything good.  If you find you are trying to force yourself to move on too quickly stop, slow down, and spend a little time just being gentle with yourself.

You'll get there, I promise.