Ask yourself these questions before you post online

15 years ago, we didn’t know Facebook from Twitter (in fact, Twitter wasn’t even ‘born’ yet), and the concept of sharing every detail of our lives with strangers seemed a bit…weird. Yet today, 1.94 billion of us are on Facebook, and between this and our profiles on Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram, the world knows a lot about us—what we had for dinner, the name of our pet, and how we felt the moment our best friend got married.

Despite our constant use of social media, it snuck up on many of us who signed up believing we’d only use it ‘sometimes’. That means we don’t have a rulebook or guide on what to do—and what not to do, in cyber space. Often, this results in awkward status updates, over-sharing and sometimes, ruined relationships over miscommunication because we used the wrong emoji.

Do these consequences sound familiar to you? By asking yourself these questions before you post online, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and pain.

  1. Would I say this to someone in real life?

If you’re sharing something online that you’d never broach with a close friend, your spouse or a colleague, don’t post it. When you do so, you not only allow the world to invade your privacy, but you’re inadvertently telling the people you love that they are not worthy of your time or trust. If you need to discuss something but fear doing so, talk to a counsellor about developing strategies to do this.

  1. Will this hurt anyone?

Another great phrase for this one is, “Am I being passive-aggressive or ignorant with my post?” Anything that indirectly (or directly) points the finger at someone you know, contains prejudiced language or images, or uses triggering words needs to be edited or not posted at all. You may not set out to hurt anyone, but by simply posting in the public sphere you have great influence over people’s emotions. Be smart and post with clarity and a clear head.

  1. Am I doing this to feel important?

Are you posting selfies everyday? Do you receive a boost when people like your post or gives you a thumbs up? I know I do, which I why I have to constantly ask myself WHY I’m posting content online.

If you’re looking for affirmation and feel deflated when you don’t receive the response you were hoping for, consider stepping back from social media for a while. This habit can also be a symptom for feelings of deep inadequacy, so consider seeing a counsellor or talking about it with people you trust to begin healing.

  1. Does anyone care?

This isn’t an excuse to avoid activism (that’s an entirely different topic); rather it’s about the significance of your content. Do people online really care what you ate for dinner? Do they want to know you went for a walk, worked out or that you had a falling-out with a colleague?

There’s room for superfluous posts—a snap of dinner every once in a while or a work out isn’t going to do any harm, and sharing details is useful if you are actively looking for support and want to keep friends up-to-date. But posting stuff simply to keep yourself busy isn’t healthy. Join a community or catch up with a friend instead. Doing life together (mundane details and all) is much more meaningful in real life.

  1. Am I being too honest?

Social media and blogging are brilliant, because they allow people to be honest about their stories. Countless people have been inspired by what they’ve read on the Internet, and people find healing by telling their story. But there is a fine line between sharing and over-sharing.

Over-sharing often happens when we feel disconnected, afraid and unheard. Sometimes we’re angry, and occasionally we want pity or praise.

When you’re tempted to post something from this negative headspace, write it down on paper instead and show it to a close friend or your counsellor. Alternatively, you could type it out. But instead of posting it immediately, save it to your phone or computer, and re-read it again in 24 hours. Give yourself the chance to reconsider why you’re sharing it. You deserve to be heard and validated, but this doesn’t happen on the Internet, it happens in relationship, so tread carefully.

  1. Does this leave myself, or anyone I know, vulnerable to attack?

Another consequence of over-sharing is the risk of being hurt by people’s responses. If you are in a fragile emotional space or know that you or the people you love may be trolled or harmed due to what you’ve posted, seriously consider why you’re posting it.

We can’t take responsibility for the actions of other people, but we can prepare ourselves for this and even avoid it. Whether it’s a tweet, a blog post or a photo, if you know posting it could unintentionally hurt anyone, talk about it with someone first. Weigh up the pros and cons, and if you post, make sure you have people surrounding you to help with any fall out.

Do you feel anxious or stressed about your online relationships? Would you like to develop strategies to create healthier relationships and care for yourself? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

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The secret to communicating with your kids

The-secret-to-communicating-with-your-kids

How many of these phrases sound familiar?

“I heard you the first time!”

“Alright, alright. Keep your hair on…”

“Okay, okay—I said I'm coming!”

“Wait a minute!”

“But mum…”

*Enormous tantrum*

When do you hear these phrases the most? When you're trying to get the kids out the door to school? When you've asked the kids to clean up their room? When you want them to put down their device ready for dinner?

These moments can be enormously frustrating and stressful. It's like our children work on their own time schedule—a schedule that works exactly 13 minutes and 34 seconds slower than ours. Of course, their schedules switch to working 3 hours ahead of ours when it comes to taking them out for a treat or putting on an anime DVD!

I've got to tell you, there are some days when I get so sick and tired of my children just not doing what I ask them when I ask them to do.

But let's flip the tables for a moment.

What do you say when you are happily pottering around the house, baggy track-pants and crazy hair and your partner tells you that he needs a to be dropped at the train station—NOW!

Or what about when you are the in the middle of typing a delicate work email and one of your kids start to nag you about making pancakes for their morning tea?

It's not always easy to be calm and courteous is it?

If only my partner had given me a thirty minute warning that they would need a lift.

If only my child had known how stressed I was about getting that email right.

Believe it or not, kids feel like this all the time.

“If only my mum knew that this TV show would be finished in two minutes,” they think.
“If only my dad knew that I didn't hear him when he said we would be going out soon,”
“If only my parents knew that I feel really tired and don't have the energy to clean my room tonight.”

However, our children don't articulate themselves in the way we would like—or perhaps we don't always listen when they try to tell us how they are feeling. So, we end up getting angry responses like “Okay, okay!” “I told you I'm coming” and *enormous tantrum*.

Our households could be much calmer, peaceful places if we just got alongside our kids and let them know what we need them to do ahead of time. What if we tried:

“At the end of your TV show, could you please go and clean up your room?”
“Just to let you know, later this morning we are going to be going out to the shops, so you need to start finishing up your game, okay?”
“I really want you to be on time for school today. Do you think you could go and get your shoes on? Then you can play your game in the car on the way to school.”

Maybe one of the reasons our children are becoming angry and frustrated with us is because we keep on asking them to do things without giving them warning. We like to be given warning when we are expected to do something, so why don't we afford our kids the same courtesy?

We need to think about what we want our children to do ahead of time so that we can give them time to finish up what they are doing and prepare themselves for what we want them to do.

Why not try an experiment this week. Give your child a friendly 5 minute warning before you need them to:

  • Get in the car
  • Wash their hands for dinner
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Leave the playground
  • Get in the bath
  • Clear their room

I wonder if the number of angry outbursts begins to go down with the more 5 minute warnings they get?

Louise Griffiths is the founder of Exploring All Options, an educational consultancy and tutoring service that provides alternative ways to teach young people in a way that works best for them. Visit her website here.

Do you struggle to communicate with your children? Does your household experience more tantrums than peaceful discussions? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

A Couple Case study: “From terminal to serenity”

From-terminal-to-serenity

Couples will enter the counselling room at all stages of their relationship. Recently, Colleen sat down with a couple that have been married for 29 years. After journeying with Mark and Kate for some time, this was their twelfth and final session. They took the opportunity to reflect on their relationship, and how therapy has helped them.

“Our son pushed us to be here,” shares Mark, about why they began couples counselling, “I was ready to say that our relationship was done, but he insisted we try therapy.” Talking about what sanctioned change for them, Kate opens up, “Having someone [like Colleen] who had no idea of who we were or what we were about. Someone who just listened neutrally.”

Mark also mentions what they brought to the therapist-client relationship that allowed them to grow. “The strength of the will, determination to make it work, and the love that did exist in the relationship to want it to work.”

Bringing these two elements together allowed them to find Colleen, and ultimately begin the journey to growth and healing in their marriage relationship. “[Colleen was] the right therapist to steer us in the right direction,” shares Kate.

Early on, Kate and Mark found their old techniques of dealing with conflict only added to their troubles. “I talked to family members, however they were too emotionally involved so I stopped,” explains Kate. “It wasn’t helpful.”

“We were both very arrogant and stubborn about the situation,” says Mark. “Colleen helped us find the tools to reach a good point in understanding and communicating with each other.”

Holding regular sessions where the couple could openly talk about their feelings, as well as the exploration of their genograms (family history) and personality traits, enabled them to find the skills they needed to build a healthy and happy relationship. “[Colleen used] the tools of listening, respect and communicating,” says Mark. “Our defensiveness was like walls of guilt and competition. Colleen helped us see that we were creators of our own walls.”

“The emphasis of the sessions was ‘how do we move forward?’ Colleen didn’t allow us to brood, so we talked about the issues in terms of the process,” explains Kate.  “We both really wanted our relationship to work.”

Finding a couples’ counsellor who both parties trust and respect is invaluable, and this was the case as Mark and Kate met with Colleen. “Colleen was fair,” shares Kate. “She contained our negative emotions and ticked us off in a nice, calm way. It got through and made a difference to our listening. After each session, we would go into our own space to process information.”

Learning how to maintain their privacy and work out conflict with each other was also imperative in their success. “We kept it between ourselves. It is our journey, a private journey. Rather than talking to others outside the session, we were respectful of each other,” says Kate. “If we left feeling heightened emotions like anger, we didn’t take it out of the room together, we went separate ways to process alone. We knew that the negative emotions had to come out, that it was part of the process.”

“Our history of past hurts, misunderstandings and disappointments were still defining our relationship in a negative way. By visiting it briefly, we were able to acknowledge it and let go of it. It no longer had to have power over us.”

Knowing that Colleen was available to affirm and validate how she was feeling also settled Kate. “Early in the process, when I felt like I had lost control, I was able to ring Colleen, who validated how I felt and that it was okay.”

Having another person to safely share your couple journey with enables you to move from a state of survival to a relationship that thrives, and this is what made all the difference for the couple. “I am more understanding and accepting of my faults. I give the good energy and a good vibe now,” shares Mark. For Kate, the fact she is more energised changes everything, “I am not exhausted anymore.”

After finishing their twelfth session with Colleen, Mark and Kate are in a position to more effectively communicate, listen to and understand each other. “We got lost, but we found ourselves,” says Mark. “When you are listening with respect and understanding, everything just flows…we went from terminal to serenity.”

Used with permission of interviewees. Names changes to protect privacy.

Do you want your relationship to thrive? Would you like to discuss how therapy could help your couple relationship?  Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.