It's the holiday season, and I know you are probably feeling a little stressed. So, I wanted to share with you a light-hearted way to grow your validation muscles. This might be a strategy you could even take with you to your holiday functions and family events coming up.
Or, on a more serious note, it might even help you to be able to dive deep into an important topic with a loved one (instead of shutting down the conversation prematurely and not getting very far which is very common!). But first, holiday hours.
Holiday Business Hours:
I was inspired to do today's blog after listening to a recent podcast episode by Dr. Loretta Breuning; specifically the one called Endorphin = Laughter = Improv (1). She is someone I have highlighted in a past blog, because she has the coolest videos that explain your brain's happy chemicals in an engaging and fun way. I also like them since she gives so many practical and simple strategies you can use to boost your happy brain chemicals. See my past post here: Great Resource Alert! Ever Wanted To Understand Your Brain's Happy Chemicals Better? (2). Or, you can go straight to her website to check out her videos here (3).
In Dr. Breuning's recent podcast she explored the topic of improv with her guest on the show. The guest explained the "yes and" principle of improv. This isn't the first time I have heard about this principle, but I thought it would be fun to explore it a little bit in the context of relationships, communication, and validation. Have you heard of it before? Second City has a brief description here about it (4).
There is also a very interesting Tedx Talk on applying "yes and" to your life to increase creative problem-solving and innovation (and the speaker is pretty funny too!) (5):
Just to comment on the above video and apply the info to counseling, I find that when people come into counseling they often feel very stuck in their problems. People frequently spend a huge amount of focus (and time) describing their problems, but often not an equivalent amount of time exploring creative solutions and ideas (usually not even close).
What's your ratio? How much time do you spend learning, cultivating a curious mindset, trying new things, and exploring outside the box ideas? Are you happy with that ratio? Do you feel that there is room for improvement? Or do you feel pretty good about your ratio?
That's why it's so helpful to be open to trying exercises that help you to get unstuck and to deepen dialogue. We ALL need innovative thinking whether it's at work or in our personal lives, because it's a fact of life that we all have daily problems to solve!
Check out this brief video explanation and demonstration of doing a "yes and" improv exercise. See below (6):
Essentially, with "yes and" as an exercise, you go along with what the other person is saying, and then you add to the story to move the same story one step further. If you are doing it in an improv game, it's well... entertaining and funny! It also keeps the laugh lines and story going instead of shutting down the interactions (which would get boring quick). If you say "no" and go off on a different topic, everything would grind to a halt. Essentially, the same thing can happen in our everyday conversations too!
Now, if you are working "yes and" into your conversations (as a general strategy) to improve empathy, validation, and creativity in your communication, you might think about the following:
"Yes and" as a general communication mindset, or when used as an improv exercise, is a fun way to improve your validation, empathy, and creative problem solving skills. Whatever you do, have fun with it! We can all make improvements on expanding and deepening conversations instead of shutting down ideas and dialogue at the gate.
So... Any takers on trying out the "yes and" improv exercise at a holiday event? Have you personally done improv and are familiar with "yes and?" If so, any comments or lessons learned? Please share below! I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for joining me today. Happy holidays!! I wish you loads of love, laughter, joy, and fun. No blog or newsletter over the next couple weeks with the holidays. Talk to you in a few weeks.
All the best,
PS-Can I send you an email about once a week? The email will have a link to my latest blog post in case there is a topic you are interested in. As the business grows and I add more products and services, I will mention in the email what has been added.
References and Links
Does your strength or strong personality attribute have a dark side? Try this exercise to grow your emotional intelligence and improve your relationships.
Discuss, print, enjoy, and share the love.
Hello my brave community of Lega-Leaders (Relationship Legacy Leaders) who are changing the world, and the legacies handed to them, for the better right where they are! For more information about Relationship Legacy Leaders, please read my past blog posts: 5 easy ways to start being a relationship legacy leader right now (1), what is a relationship legacy leader (2), or the deeper meaning behind the name MoxiePsychology Legacy (3).
In today's blog, I have an exercise that will help grow your self-awareness, shine some light on a potential blind spot of yours, and improve your relationships. I want to get you thinking about your biggest strength, and what the dark side of that strength might be. You just might have a glaring blind spot!!
The truth is, we all have blind spots (me included). If you cannot admit to having blind spots, then you might need to work on your self-awareness and your ability to grow and accept feedback. Did you know that in our training as therapists we are encouraged to continuously work on and be aware of our blind spots? This is so we do not accidentally significantly harm others through our blindness. I think this is important and beneficial for everyone to work on (not just therapists)!
The reason I want to get you thinking about this, is that rarely are things cut and dry or black and white. In my experience as a relationship therapist I see and read about examples of this every day. I think that having an extreme strength is an example where it is mostly beneficial (and extremely helpful) for one’s life; however, there is often a significant downside that needs to be acknowledged and explored (especially when it comes to relationships and in leadership positions) in order to prevent accidental harm to others from our blind spots.
A personality trait or strength may be extremely beneficial in one context, but an extreme detriment in another. Often in our romantic relationships, our partner knows exactly what that detriment is, because he or she sees us at our best and at our worst. Same goes for any close relationships we may have (family, friends, work relationships, etc.).
Although, there is a difference for work relationships... They they usually get our highest performing selves while our family sees us at the end of the work day when we are physically and emotionally depleted. As you can imagine, this can create some problems if we are not aware of or sensitive to this dynamic! Our weaknesses and negative aspects of our personality can be more likely to come out after a long day.
Many times when we are dating, we are attracted to a certain strong quality (or qualities) about someone, and it may even be a quality that is the exact polar opposite of our own! Initially, this can lead to fireworks, romance, and passion, but as the relationship matures and grows, these differences must be worked through in a way that feels good to both parties. Furthermore, as time goes on these differences may even now be the source of significant frustration and hurt. What once was a quality that was so attractive is now the quality that bothers you the most (or maybe drives you crazy)! Every couple has to find a way to navigate these difference in order to be happy and satisfied over the long run.
I think that if you are in a marriage and you want to grow in your personal self-awareness, as well as in the strength of your relationship overall, it’s helpful to have an understanding and acceptance of who you each are. Actually, I believe it’s vital to the success of your marriage or relationship.
Why? One, so you both can avoid getting to the place where your differences tear you apart until you break up or divorce. Two, to help you approach one another with understanding and good listening skills, and to not try to expect something that the other person just cannot give or do well. Three, to create meaningful dialogue that supports win-win scenarios that involves capitalizing on each other’s strengths to solve problems successfully.
Especially in regards to extreme strengths or strong aspects of our personality (for example, introvert versus an extrovert), these are things that themselves cannot be changed much (if at all). What can be discussed, explored, and changed is HOW you discuss them, and how you work with each other’s natural tendencies to find better solutions.
You need to find ways to roll with each others differences instead of rolling OVER each other with your one way of doing things.
Ready to grow and discuss what you have learned? Feel brave enough to shine a light on a potential blind spot? Don’t be scared! Lega-Leaders let’s do this!
Name one of your biggest strengths or strongest beneficial personality attributes.
List out why you believe this strength or helpful personality attribute really stands out. What is the evidence, and what are the facts supporting this belief?
How has this significantly benefited YOU in your life in general? If you are doing this exercise to understand yourself better as a leader, you should also list out how your example has helped you personally in leading at work, in a group you are in charge of, or as a parent (parents are leaders!). If you are doing this in the context of a romantic relationship, you would want to list out how this has benefited you in your relationship.
How has_________________(your answer from step 1) significantly benefited others in your life?
Are there any extreme tendencies or personality attributes that you demonstrate that go along with your strength? (For example, you have a strength that you are a very hard worker and always make sure to get the job done, no matter what. Even if the job takes 12 hours, you will get it done in one day which has led to career growth and financial stability.)
What do you see as the dark side (or potential drawbacks) to your strength or personality attribute?
If you are having a hard time with this, you might think of your strength in terms of it’s opposite… Maybe you are extremely creative, innovative, and dislike structure, and this has greatly benefited your career and relationships. However, you find that you let people down when you need to follow a certain path or procrastinate when you need to follow the rules (following rules and structure is the opposite of your strength).
What feedback or constructive criticism have you received about the downside of your strength or personality attribute? Have you ever received any?
Sometimes when you are in a position of power people may be hesitant to give you honest feedback, unless honest and respectful feedback has been developed as part of that system (work, school, home, etc.) from the beginning. Something to note and be aware of…
How has___________________(your answer from step 1) negatively impacted those around you in the past? Can you think of any specific examples? Any present problems currently?
How might___________________ (your answer from step 1) potentially negatively impact future circumstances or relationships?
Given your answers above, in a few sentences, summarize a blind spot that you have that springs from a huge strength of yours or a strong personality attribute:
Now that you have awareness of the dark side of your strength or personality attribute, how can you use this to develop better win-win scenarios with others in your life moving forward? List out all the ideas you can think of!
Being honest and acknowledging your tendencies is a good place to start!
Given your greater awareness of the downsides of your strengths or personality attributes, how can this help you to grow your empathy and understanding for people who are different than you (who have different personalities and strengths)?
It can often be easier to be more understanding of our own weaknesses than other people’s, which is why I am picking your brain for ideas on how you can be more empathetic.
How can you use your increased self-awareness on the dark side of your strongest strengths or personality attributes to now find ways to mitigate (or lessen) the harmful effects of that dark side? How can you lessen the blow so to speak...?
Do you have someone you could share these answers with? Who? Would he or she be willing to give you some constructive and respectful feedback on the topic?
I hope this exercise was enlightening for you! I also hope that you pair this exercise with a huge dose of love, and overflowing understanding for yourself and others. This exercise can be a practice in fully embracing yourself and all the complexities that make you who you are. You are not good or bad, you are whole as you are!
There is no shame in being you. This often includes having a strength in one area that makes us not as good in something else. That’s okay. That’s life, and we are all in the same boat! And life in that boat would be BORING if we were all the same. We are often drawn to others exactly because they are different than us, and other people are attracted to us because we are different than them.
People love you exactly for who you are—so be you! Just like you love people for who they are (even with their warts).
This world needs more Lega-Leaders like you who are daily finding ways to celebrate each other’s strengths, and who are driven to find ways to collaborate even though we are different and not perfect.
Lega-Leaders, what do you have to say about this topic?
Thanks for joining me today. As a lega-leader, what blind spots have you discovered? Are you in a long-term romantic relationship, family relationship, or friendship where you both have completely opposite strengths or personalities (introvert vs. extrovert, loud vs. quiet, organized and logical vs. messy and creative, etc.)? Any opposite attributes that drive you a little crazy? What do you believe are good ways to develop win-win scenarios that elevate everyone’s positive attributes and strengths (instead of being driven bonkers by them)? I would love to hear your ideas! Please share, because your ideas and solutions may help someone else!
All the best,
PS- Can I send you an email about once a week? The email will have a link to my latest blog post in case there is a topic you are interested in. As the business grows and I add more products and services, I will mention in the email what has been added.
References and Links
Discuss, print, enjoy, and share the love.
Do you value psychological health and thriving relationships? If you do, then read on. Today I will discuss 5 easy (and impactful) ways to start being a relationship legacy leader right now (1). You might be someone who values strong relationships, but you would love some inspirational ideas where to start. Or maybe you are a manager or CEO who is looking for ways to connect with your employees. You might even be a parent looking for some tips for nurturing a healthy family.
To review or if you are new (welcome!), a relationship legacy leader is:
Someone who is committed to healthy relationships and emotional health for themselves, and also for the people around them. These progressive leaders deeply value thriving and resilient relationships, but are also keenly aware of the relational and emotional impact they have on other people: their partner or spouse, friends, relatives, co-workers, people in their community, kids, etc. These leaders know that in order to collaborate effectively, achieve the greatest growth, and to experience meaning and satisfaction out of life it takes growing our relationship and emotional skills. They intentionally seek out where they can make a difference, and make a conscious choice to do something positive. Whether the impact is on a few people or many, they know it all matters.
Seriously, whether your impact is mainly with your close family members or you are a CEO of a large company, it’s all important. What you do matters. The small steps and changes you make are significant, and can completely change your life and the lives of those around you. For example, can you think back to something that someone did or said that completely changed your life in a positive way? Was there a close friend, a coach, a mentor, or a teacher that had a positive impact on you? What did they say or do? That person made a personal choice to say or do what they did; it wasn’t an accident. You can make choices like that too.
5 easy ways to start being a relationship legacy leader right now:
1. Learn how to recognize and label different emotions within yourself. How many can you name?
2. Learn how to recognize and label when you are HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, and tired).
3. Be curious. Curiosity goes hand in hand with empathy, understanding, and eventually better choices and decisions.
4. Use the phrase “I’m glad you told me."
5. Fess up when you mess up—every time (for the rest of your life).
I hope the five ways to start being a relationship legacy leader inspired some ideas for you. I truly hope you can visualize where you can start making some simple changes. The ideas above are simple, but powerful when implemented.
There are so many reasons why I think being a relationship legacy leader is important, and why each of us doing our part is important. Today I will just mention one—as a way to change the culture of mass shootings and school shootings we are seeing in our country and across the world.
To me, as a therapist, I see these shootings as another reason why it’s important for all of us to take care of our mental health, to destigmatize mental health care, to destigmatize discussing feelings, and to encourage teaching our young kids about emotions (especially boys—they have been hurt for too long by shaming them for having feelings besides anger).
I don’t know about you, but when I see the news of another school shooting or a mass shooting, I feel heartbroken and devastated. Sometimes I even cry. I cried when I heard the news of the shootings at the two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
This week there was a school shooting at the University of North Carolina Charlotte (6). There are likely some important legal changes that need to be made, but what can we do right now (no matter where we fall on the political spectrum)? I believe that each of us, in whatever corner of the world we are in, can start to make a difference now—even on a topic as big as school and mass shootings. How? By being a relationship legacy leader in whatever corner of the world we are in.
Psychology is all around us. Our psychological and relationship health matters. Psychology is not a "soft science;" it's a vital science for the success of the human race. Viewing psychology as a "soft science" has been a massive blind spot for us, and has led to the denial of the importance of mental health and relationship health. The good news is, we can all do something, starting right now.
In summary, you can be a relationship legacy leader by:
1. Learning how to recognize and label different emotions within yourself.
2. Learning how to recognize and label when you are HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired).
3. Being curious.
4. Using the phrase "I'm glad you told me."
5. Fessing up when you mess up—every time (for the rest of your life).
So, think about what we explored today. Have a discussion with people you trust about being a relationship legacy leader. Print out the article as a guide if that's helpful. Who do you want to start impacting positively? What is one small thing you can do right now? Do it. It matters. Remember that the people who positively impacted you made a personal choice to do so.
Please share if you are thinking of implementing one of these 5 ideas or if today's blog inspired you to make some changes. Looking forward to reading your comments.
Thank you for joining me today! If this post was helpful, please hit the Facebook Like button below or share the blog on Twitter.
Talk to you next week.
All the best,
Holly L. Harrison
References and Links
(4)Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work. Tough conversations. Whole hearts [Kindle SDK 6.0.1 version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.
(5)Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work. Tough conversations. Whole hearts [Kindle SDK 6.0.1 version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com.
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The information on this website and the blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. I am not guaranteeing any results.
Please note that the information on this website is not intended to replace or be a substitute for any professional financial, medical, mental health, legal, or other advice.
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MoxiePsychology Legacy is an outpatient mental health clinic and not equipped for emergency services. If you are in need of emergency mental or medical services, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Holly L. Harrison, MA, LMFT