Healing Conversations — AFTER the Election

Today is election day.  A new president will be elected.  And no matter who wins, Wednesday morning will come.  Some of us will be jubilant and others will be distressed.

Whether our candidate won or lost we still have the ability to positively or negatively impact our community with our small bit.  I’d like to challenge each of us to do our best to elevate conversations as we go about our days.

How to elevate conversations

Make a list of at least 5 intentions – write them down and read them every morning or evening.  Here are a few ideas…

  • I intend to treat others the way I want to be treated.
  • I intend to encourage others and to seek to understand rather than attempt to make my point.
  • I intend to step back from anger, hatred and fear and step into compassion, connectedness and peace.
  • I intend to refrain from judgment, from criticism and attempts to change anyone other than myself.
  • I intend to do my part to be respectful in all conversation especially when in disagreement.
  • I intend to choose words wisely and to eliminate harshness from my communications, including my self-talk.
  • I intend to keep in mind my desire to leave others feeling valued when we have concluded our time together whether it be a minute or longer.

Join me in creating a more peaceful, respectful community.  Our children really are watching.

The Radio: How Asking for and Listening to the Story Can Change You

I love quiet.  My life is full and there are times, literally, when I can’t hear myself think.  I’ve learned that it is imperative for me to find places I can go to be still, to be quiet, to reflect and to listen to my inner voice.

When my husband and I were married, I quickly learned that quiet is not his forte!  He likes the radio, TV, and cds on, in my opinion, at a decibel close to 10 (okay, maybe 8).  Of course I knew this about him when we dated, just hadn’t realized how frequently he enjoyed noise.

In the honeymoon phase of our relationship, we were polite about asking each other for what we needed and were pretty good about sharing space in our home for quiet or noise.  As our relationship seasoned, I must admit there were times we became a little testy with each other regarding space and whose turn it was for what. Through many discussions, some quiet, some not so quiet, we learned more about each other and developed compromises.  He blasts sound devices when I’m not home (he works from home so has lots of time for this) and turns it down or off when I am home.

One final aha occurred for me one night as we were drifting to sleep.  He had his headphones on listening to who knows what and I realized I was feeling left out and well, if I’m honest, a little pouty.  My self-talk was something like this:  I hate when he listens to the radio when we’re in bed.  I feel like he’s paying attention to someone else when I’d like to fall asleep with him, etc.  I was working myself into a good snit when it occurred to me to ask him how long he’d been listening to the radio at night.  His story made such an impact on me, I have not begrudged him his radio a single day since.

My husband grew up in a chaotic, alcoholic home.  He’s the oldest of 7 and was contributing to the family income by the time he was 14.  He shared a room with a few of his brothers.  He learned at an early age to escape some of the chaos at night by listening to sports games or to radio stations from across the country.  He was fascinated by just how far away he could receive a signal and would fall asleep dreaming of these places.

His story endeared him to me even more.  His childhood creativity in finding a solution to relieve some of the stress, at least at night, of living in this environment warmed me.  To this day, I marvel at how a few minutes of listening changed me when initially I was pretty sure he was the one who needed to change.

Perhaps if each of us would turn to our partner a little more often and really listen to their story behind a behavior, we’d be less inclined to try to change them and a little more inclined to love.

About The Author

Patti Bitter, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker, and owner of Tapestry Counseling, LLC, in St. Louis, MO.  Ms. Bitter provides individual and couples and marriage counseling in the St. Louis area.  To learn more about her practice, visit her website at www.tapestrycounseling.com.

Paddle Your Own Canoe

As one goes through life, one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.
–Katharine Hepburn

Most of us manage to grow up with less than perfect parenting and we manage ok.  We accept that our parents really did do the best they could with what they knew and with the parenting they had received from their parents.  As we experience life problems, we even may recognize some patterns of behaviors we use for coping that we learned from them.  Perhaps some of them work for us, and some of them don’t.  What we do with the ones that don’t work for us can make the difference between feeling stuck and sorry for ourselves, and happy and satisfied in our lives.

  • Do you occasionally take time out to reflect on how your beliefs, attitudes and behaviors are serving you in life?
  • When you recognize a pattern of behavior that does not serve you well do you attempt to change it?
  •  When you attempt a change and are successful do you note what you did that made the change doable?
  • When you attempt a change and are unsuccessful do you give up?

If you feel stuck, seek help.  Sometimes we don’t paddle our canoe because we don’t realize it’s our paddling or lack of paddling that is the problem!  Sometimes we don’t paddle because, well, no one ever taught us how!  And sometimes we don’t paddle because we are afraid of the unknown.

Don’t stay stuck!!  We each have been given a life to live and enjoy not just to survive.  If you are stuck, care enough about yourself to reach out for help whether it be to a good friend, a trusted mentor, a pastor, a trained coach or a therapist, a support group.  There is a myriad of ways to become unstuck if you want.

Reach out, take control of your canoe, go places you never imagined you could.  You’ll be so glad you did.


Patti Bitter, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist in St. Louis, MO.  You can read more about her practice @ www.tapestrycounseling.com

Holidays and Alzheimer’s: 10 Steps to Less Stress and More Peace

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness month and the beginning of the holiday season, a time when expectations are heightened, stress increased and sadness intensified.

There is no denying the terrible devastating impact Alzheimer’s or dementia has on families.  In spite of this, some families are able to make the best of the holiday season and truly enjoy this time of year.  How do they do it?  Here are a few guidelines to help simplify and lighten your holidays, even with Alzheimer’s. Read more

5 Ways to Cope with Grief During the Holidays

This time of year we are inundated with messages to be happy, be of good cheer, and to be grateful.  What happens if you don’t feel cheerful or happy or grateful?   What if you’ve lost a loved one, or a dear friend or family member either through death, estrangement or chronic illness and this time of year only highlights your loss?

Sometimes the best we can do to cope with grief during the holidays is to persevere.  This is a word not often used in our culture of quick fixes and easy solutions.  The dictionary defines persevere “to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counter-influences, opposition, or discouragement.”

So what would happen if you gave yourself permission to be sad during this time of year?  To take time away from the festivities and be quiet?  To be alone with your grief?  To simply put one foot in front of the other, get up, and do only what needs to be done each day?

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