Dr. Julie's Blog

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Handling Holiday Stress 💥 If You Are A People Pleaser

Holidays are a magical time of year AND an incredibly stressful time of year. Many of us look forward to our family traditions, holiday parties, decorating, and gift giving. But, in order to do all these things, we feel like we have to squeeze them into our normally hectic, busy schedules AND get it all done with ease and grace. Except, ease and grace are often forgotten in the hustle, leaving us to wonder “Where is all the magic I’m supposed to be feeling?”

This is especially true if you are a people-pleaser and over-giver. You know what I’m talking about. You try so hard to get everything perfect so other people feel at ease and have a good time and you’re left with a few moments of fun and a big mess to clean up.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can have more ease and grace in your holidays so they feel magical today and in the years to come. It just takes a little planning.

Acknowledge your tendency for high expectations. If you are a...

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Could being curious help your relationship?

Child’s play is something anyone can do, and yet usually, only children do it. We equate child’s play with something simple and easy. Wouldn’t it be awesome if hard things in life were more like “child’s play?” 

What if child’s play could make something like your relationship easier? Wouldn’t THAT be awesome? Initially, your relationship probably felt like child’s play, but over time maybe that stopped being the case. Let’s spice it up again with something children do well that adults usually don’t. 

Let’s get curious.

Curiosity is something we are all born with and use a lot as children, but as we become adults, it fades away. It is that wonderful state of being open to learning something new, approaching a situation without assumptions or preconceived ideas of how it will go. It is child’s play at its core. There is little fear, no ideas or expectations about how something works or what will...

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Women of the Mayflower

March 1st marks the beginning of Women’s History Month. It also prompted me to think about the history of women in the founding of this country. Specifically, the women and families that came over on the Mayflower. I’ve done a little reading on this part of US history and ran across some amazing stories.

The background

Plymouth Colony, founded by the families of the Mayflower, was the first colony to include women and children. It was founded to provide a group of families a place to worship in a manner of their choosing. [Jamestown, the first colony established by the English, initially only included men because it was founded as a profit-making venture. Here’s a little history on Jamestown: https://www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/jamestown.]

 

The Mayflower

The Mayflower was not a big ship. There were 102 passengers and probably about 30 crew. The living space on the ship was 50 x 25 feet with a 5-foot ceiling. (That’s less than 10 sq feet per...

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Two Easy Suggestions for Making Valentine’s Day Special

Many people dismiss Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday. But, let’s think about this for a minute. It’s a lot more than just a money-making scheme for a big corporation. Valentine's day has been around since before the Middle Ages. If it has been celebrated in some way for the last several hundred years, don’t you think there might be something to it? 

A little history

Pope Gelasius declared February 14th to be St. Valentine’s Day in 498 (yes, over 1500 years ago). The oldest surviving Valentine’s Day poem was written in 1415. In the 18th century, it became popular to exchange small tokens of affection and handwritten notes. Pre-made cards became popular about 1900. Today Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, following Christmas. This is probably why it is thought of as a Hallmark holiday, but as you can see, it pre-dates Hallmark, by a lot.

Valentine’s Day has remained important because it gets...

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28-Day Rekindle Your Relationship Challenge

Once the honeymoon phase is over and familiarity begins to dominate your relationship, it can start to feel stale and boring. Relationships take work but sometimes you just don’t know what to do. All you see is that things don’t feel right and you’re at a loss as to what to do about it. When this happens, it can feel like you’ve hit a roadblock.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There is plenty you can do to rekindle the spark that brought the two of you together in the first place. 

To help you out with this, I’ve put together a 28-day Rekindle Your Relationship Challenge designed to give you simple activities to rekindle the spark in your relationship. The challenge activities are fun and designed to reconnect you to your lover. 

In the challenge, you will receive a daily email with your challenge action of the day and a short explanation of why it works or is important for your relationship.

There’s no obligation and if you miss a...

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Lying and Truth Telling for Effective Communication Guide

What lying is and how to tell the truth

Connie could tell something was wrong. Her boyfriend of 5 years seemed more distant but denied anything was going on. When she asked what was wrong, he said everything was fine. Then one day she found a stack of papers he had left out on the counter. The papers were a new rental agreement he had just signed for an apartment in another city. He had not mentioned he was planning to move out and he wasn’t moving to their dream city, Chicago. Why would he rent an apartment, especially without telling her? 

When Connie confronted him, he said he rented the apartment to be closer to work. But as Connie told me more details of their recent interactions and his behaviors it became clear to both of us that he was leaving the relationship. At one point during my conversation with Connie she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I just wish he’d tell me the truth.”

The truth. What is the truth of the situation? It...

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Does He* Know He’s Hurting Me?

I hear this question a lot from clients and on social media and my answer is not what you’d expect. Here’s how I think about it.

The questioner is in a relationship with someone who repeatedly violates boundaries and treats her in highly disrespectful ways. Treatment could be anything from name-calling to hitting, blaming to criticizing, threatening to trivializing. Whatever the behavior, it is repeated and it hurts the questioner. 

Invariably the questioner has told the partner that the behavior is hurtful and not okay. 

The question, “Does he know he’s hurting me” is a reasonable question if one assumes that people who love each other don’t intentionally hurt each other. 

So, what is going on?

Reasoning through this we will see something like this:

Assumption: 

People who love each other don’t intentionally hurt each other.

Facts: 

He tells me he loves me.

I love him.

He’s hurting me.  

I’ve...

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One Thing That Makes it Hard to Avoid Toxic Relationships

Everyone I’ve worked with who finds themselves in a toxic relationship has problems with setting and maintaining healthy boundaries. It’s one of the reasons people end up in toxic relationships and then have a hard time leaving.

What is a toxic relationship?

It’s a relationship where one person violates the other person’s boundaries, values, and identity on a regular basis. These relationships are verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive.

When I talk with people who are in toxic relationships common themes emerge.

  • They believe they are responsible for how their partner treats them
  • They try to anticipate their partner’s response to situations to avoid fights
  • They rearrange their social time to avoid upsetting their partner
  • They lose contact with friends and family because their partner doesn’t like them
  • They feel confused as to why their partner gets upset with them when they are trying so hard to be loving and give their partner...
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The Process of Improving Self-Worth and Confidence + *Free* Building Self-Worth Worksheet

Have you noticed that when you feel disconnected from a primary partnership it naturally generates questions of your value? It’s common to wonder if you matter or what’s wrong with you.

As children, we don’t naturally know who we are or what we are capable of. We learn who we are through conversations with adults who tell us about ourselves. These adults, our parents, teachers, relatives, and strangers, make statements such as “Look at how smart you are!” or “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” or “How hard is it to clean your room?”

If you think honestly about how you regard yourself, it is probably an outgrowth of how the adults in your life regarded you as a child. Feelings like “others don’t appreciate me” or “it’s hard to find love so I might as well put up with what I have” come from a sense of not being valued.

At the same time, it’s easy to imagine how feeling better...

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The one thing that can break the ice after a fight

Have you ever been arguing with your partner or family member and realized you didn’t want to be fighting? You wanted to stop but you didn’t know how to get your point across without continuing the fight?

We’ve all be there and it feels like being caught in quicksand. The more you talk, the worse it gets.

Instead of talking, find the right moment and give your partner or family member a hug.*

 First, find the right moment.

This is important because if the argument is currently happening, your partner isn’t going to be receptive to a hug. But later, after things have cooled off, go up to your partner and ask for a hug. No reference to the early disagreement, no explanation. Just ask for a hug.

As a matter of fact, I recommend hugging your partner (and other family members) multiple times per day.

The magic of a hug lies in the neurochemistry that happens when you hug someone. Both people in a hug release oxytocin, a neurochemical responsible for bonding....

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