Advice

Need Advice?

Below are answers to previous questions we have received. If you have a question, please use the form to the right.

I’m hearing the term mindfulness being used a lot lately. I sometimes feel funny when contemplating meditating. Is there a way of being practicing mindfulness without meditating?

Mindfulness and meditation overlap in some ways that compliment each other. Meditation involves a variety of techniques that attempts to help one in reaching ultimate consciousness and concentration. When meditating, you are purposely setting time aside to do something good to yourself, usually in a controlled environment.

Mindfulness, in turn, is a form of meditation where you bring full attention to the present moment. You are just being aware of what is happening in the present moment with out judgment. You are participating with awareness. This can be practiced formally and informally.
For instance, formal mindfulness practice may be sitting on a park bench, feeling the warm breeze blow on your face, see the reach details of the trees. You may turn your attention inward on how you may feel connected to this universe around you.

Informal mindfulness, may be doing any activity with awareness . Take driving. All drivers have driven mindlessly. Have you ever missed a turn to a destination very familiar to you? Mindfully driving may entail turning that radio off and devoting extra attention to noticing what is happening inside and outside of you. Do you detect tension in your stomach? Are your hands clenched tightly on the steering wheel? Are you cursing silently at the slow driver ahead of you? Driving mindfully is being aware of thoughts, sensations and feelings you are experiencing in that moment. You can be aware of your surroundings and just being a casual observer of your emotions. Just notice your irritation toward the driver ahead of you without judging yourself or the other driver.

I am the parent of a 16 year old daughter, and lately she has been acting extremely different. She has been staying in her room all the time, ignoring most of us in the house, and when I try to talk to her, she will just snap at me and we end up arguing. I try to make her get out and do things, and tell her she has no reason to be so angry because she has such a great family and life. I don’t know why she’s acting like this, and I have no idea how to help her. What should I do?

It can be very challenging and frustrating at times to be the parent of a teenager. They are usually struggling with multiple concerns, such as highly evolving emotions, relationships with friends, schoolwork, and self-esteem. As adults, problems that teenagers have may not seem like a big deal, but to the teen, these issues can feel incredibly overwhelming. When a teen is struggling, it is common for them to shut down and become defensive and irritable, especially with family. They likely think that others don’t understand what they are feeling, and when every conversation leads to a fight, that just reaffirms their belief. It could be helpful to approach your daughter by acknowledging your concern and asking her how she is feeling. In this situation, it is important to not make judgmental comments, tell her that her feelings are wrong, or say her problems “aren’t that bad.”

Instead, try to provide an understanding and empathetic listening ear. Most of the time, when a teen feels like they are being heard without criticism, they will begin to be more open. Offer your time and attention, and if she says no, remind her that she can come to you at any time. Rather than demanding she leaves her room, invite and encourage her to spend time with the family, and ask her if there is anything she’d like to do. You can still be a parent by continuing to have established rules and expectations for your daughter, but being more gentle in your approach may encourage her to open up. It’s likely she may shut you down at first, but continue to make efforts to engage her and let her know you care and are there for her. If your worries grow stronger, and despite your efforts nothing is changing, seek out additional support from trusted teachers, counselors, or family members to determine the best route for helping your daughter. No matter what, unconditional love and support is what she needs most right now.

My husband doesn’t let me know about our financial situation. I’ve asked and asked, but he keeps dodging me and giving me evasive answers. How do I change this?

Michelle, I’m glad that you’re interested in the family’s financial situation. Each partner should have equal knowledge and access to the family’s finances. The underlying issue is a fairly common one and it is control. My guess would be that this is not the only area in the relationship where your husband exercises control and you don’t feel like an equal in the relationship. These other areas can be subversive and varied, so think this question: Do you find that you have to ask permission from him to do things you suspect others do not?

Maybe he knows he is doing this and maybe he doesn’t. Control issues are connected to societal norms that weren’t necessary before and certainly aren’t now. Each partner should be equal and that equality will lead to greater connectedness and relational intimacy. My suggestion is to use clear, direct, and assertive speech with him, letting him know how this control is affecting you. This is called “I language”, and a simple Google search can show you how to use it.

If this issue persists, I would suggest researching a qualified behavioral health counselor in your area.