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How to Not Take Things Personally

Do not take things personallyAre you struggling to get past the actions or words of others? 

Do the attitudes of family members seem to be all about you? Do you feel at fault? Maybe you think you’ve done something to trigger their emotions?

Has someone criticized you or your work? Are you having difficulty letting that go? Do you feel you’re internalizing their words?

I’m such a loser. Why can’t I get anything right?

You’re not alone. 

It’s difficult to resist taking the actions of others personally, especially when they lash out at us, or say things about us, or to us, that are less than kind.

Mark Twain once said, “What other people think about me is none of my business.”

We should take that advice a step further. What they think about us is rarely about us; it is simply a reflection of their own internal struggles.

Of course, there is a balance to be struck. We don’t want to stop caring about other people and their feelings. That can easily lead to dehumanizing them. We don’t want to disengage completely from life, as if we don’t care about anything that happens to us, or around us. But we do need to let go of some of the negative emotions.

Here are some ways to take things less personally:

Resist the Shouldn’t

Most of us leap to the following default thought pattern whenever something negative happens. 

That shouldn’t have happened! 

It’s not right! 

It’s unfair! 

They shouldn’t have done that!

You might be right. They probably shouldn’t have treated you wrongly. But they did. It happened. Be aware of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’. They are unhelpful. Don’t should or shouldn’t on yourself, or others. Whatever happened, happened. The question now is simply what are you going to do about it? How will you respond?

Can the Perfect 

This is part of the shoulding we do. 

We think the world should be perfect, that we should be perfect, that others should be perfect. But it isn’t, we aren’t, and they aren’t. Can it, as in toss it in the trash can. If you think you must be perfect, then you will suffer from criticism of all kinds, mostly self-inflicted. Learn to accept that all things, situations, and people are imperfect.

Replay the Past with Extreme Caution 

It can be helpful, in some situations, and especially with a therapist, to replay past scenes, or future scenarios, but only to play out constructive responses, not to fantasize about revenge. 

If you find yourself locked in the negative thought pattern of replaying past scenes, just so you can figure out how to get even with the offender, then you are doing more harm than good. Talk to your therapist about this.

Get Busy and Stay Busy 

One of the best ways to drive out negative thought patterns, of all kinds, is to occupy your mind with something else. If you can focus enough to work, then work. If not, then do something fun: play a game, call a good friend, go for a peaceful walk, or do some other kind of exercise.

Be Curious 

Be an inquisitor of your thoughts. Question them. Don’t just accept them as fact. Emotions aren’t facts!

Why do I think that? 

Is it true? Or am I just projecting my thoughts on to someone else? 

Do I actually know what they think? 

Be aware of these thought patterns and try to interrupt them. Remember: what they think is none of your business.

Resist Your Gut Reactions 

There is great power in refusing to react. Silence and inaction are not passive, however many people think they are. Sometimes the best response is no response. Especially if the offense was trivial. Sometimes it’s best just to ignore negative stuff. 

What’s the Source? 

Who is the offender? Is it a stranger? A coworker you don’t really like to begin with? Or is it someone you trust and love? How often do you find yourself obsessing over negative comments from strangers or passing acquaintances on social media? 

Think about it. Would you ever ask this person for advice, in a normal situation? Never take advice or criticism from someone whose opinion you would never seek. 

Stop Assuming 

Assumptions are usually wrong. We don’t actually know why other people say or do what they do. As we’ve already touched upon, it is rarely about us. They are having a bad day, or life. As a result, they project that outward onto other people, like toxic vomit. 

It is impossible to really know why they do what they do. Resist the urge to assume you do. Of course, if it’s someone we love and respect, we can always ask them. 

Get Clarification

If you know the person, especially if they are close to you, then stop, take a breath—to avoid reacting—and calmly ask them to explain their words or actions, and their reasoning behind them. 

You’ll probably be surprised to discover they weren’t really thinking about you; they were just reacting to some scenario playing out in their own head. Once they’re aware of the effect of their actions, they may well apologize.

Be Assertive 

It is good to set boundaries and enforce them. This is true no matter our relationship with the person. Part of a good relationship is setting and understanding the other person’s boundaries, and their ‘buttons.’ If we understand them, we can avoid pushing them, or trespassing over them. 

To explore more on this topic, consider these articles:

Don’t Take It Personally

How to Stop Taking Things Personally

6 Ways to Not Take Things Personally

Professional Help is A Call Away

As with all aspects of mental health, sometimes you need a professional counselor to help you work through this stuff. 

At RDU Counseling for Change, our counselors and therapists have the tools to help you work through whatever your issue may be. We offer therapy for individuals, couples, or families both in person and via telehealth. 

Contact us today to book an appointment!

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What are the Best Couples Counseling Methods?

Counseling for CouplesAre you and your partner struggling with communication?

Maybe there’s been infidelity?

Do you spend more time arguing than enjoying each other’s company?

Maybe you don’t feel very secure in your relationship?

It’s probably time to try Couples Counseling

Here at RDU Counseling for Change, we have the tools and training to help you through the rough patches. We will work with you and your partner to build a stronger, more loving relationship.

How do we do that?

We offer three different styles of therapies, which our counselors will help you choose and implement.

Here’s a little bit about each, to give you some idea of what to expect.

Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) 

EFT is a popular option. It is founded upon the theory that one’s identity is intertwined with their emotions, and that those same emotions can aid the person in making decisions and individual choices.

Lack of awareness of your emotions, and subsequently trying to avoid them can be harmful, because our emotions can help guide us if we pay attention to them.

A healthy life of meaning can be found by understanding our emotions, not running from them.

What should you expect from an EFT session?

To develop a couple of important skills:

  1. Awareness: To gain awareness of your emotions (what they are and how they arise), and to accept them for what they are, instead of suppressing or avoiding them.
  2. Insight: You’ll learn to use your emotions as a guide to decision making, so you can avoid the negative effects they usually bring.

Each session may include work on the following:

  • Emotional awareness work
  • Acceptance and/or moderation of your emotions 
  • Articulating your emotions more clearly. What are you really feeling?
  • Elevated awareness of the many aspects of your emotions.
  • Being able to pinpoint your emotional reactions.

The therapy then focuses on what to do with your new found emotional awareness:

  • How to evaluate if the emotion you’re feeling is useful or not in a particular situation.
  • How to glean useful information from your emotions.
  • What are the triggers or sources of your unhelpful emotions.
  • How to transform emotions that are less than helpful.
  • Work to find alternative coping mechanisms to deal with those situations which trigger negative emotions.
  • Rewrite your internal dialogue so you can challenge negative emotions and thought patterns.

The Gottman Method

The Gottman Method, also known as the Sound Relationship House Theory, deals directly with relationships between people, especially couples.

In this method, the focus is upon the essential building blocks of a good, loving relationship.

You can expect to work on the following:

Constructing ‘Love Maps’

You’ll learn way more about your partner in this step. Their dreams, their fears, what makes them happy, and what makes them tick. What are they thinking when they aren’t talking?

Expressing Fondness and Admiration

The cure for contempt is respect and admiration. In this step, you’ll work with the counselor to strengthen these aspects of your relationship.

Learn to Turn Towards Your Partner, not Away

Instead of retreating in stressful moments, you’ll learn how to spot your partner’s unspoken cries for connection, so you can face your partner and respond to them.

Taking a Positive Perspective

You’ll learn how to employ a positive mindset to solving problems that might arise.

Managing Conflicts

We’ll delve into the difference between problems that can be solved versus naturally recurring problems which must be ‘managed.’ 

Achieving Life Dreams

You’ll learn how to have honest conversations about yours and your partner’s hopes, dreams, values, and beliefs.

Creating Shared Meaning

Gain insight into the key stories, visions, myths, and metaphors you both hold about your relationship.

Building Trust

One of the key components of every relationship is the belief that your partner is there to support your interests and well-being, not just their own. If trust has been damaged, then it must be repaired.


In order to make a relationship work, in the long term, there must be a solid commitment to working on it, even when things go wrong. You must both commit to seeing the good in each other, and practice gratitude for one another to do this.

Family Systems Therapy

The third system we employ focuses on the family unit as a whole. Hence it is called Family Systems Therapy

The theory behind this is that the behavior of the individual must be understood within the context of the group.

It is important to understand each person’s place in the family system, which can be two people, or multiple.

What can you expect from family system therapy?

  • Each member (both partners, and possibly other family members) will be able to talk about difficult experiences and emotions in a safe space.
  • You’ll work to understand the other’s perspectives, experiences, and beliefs.
  • Strive to appreciate the other’s needs and wants.
  • Learn to build on the positive relationship strengths you already possess. 
  • Make positive changes to your relationship and your lives in general.

Our Counselors Are Here For You

Whether you have trouble communicating or have experienced a breach of trust, our counselors are here to help. 

We know you want to improve your relationship, but it’s often difficult to see a path forward through your pain. 

Because of this, couples often get stuck in their own perspectives and no longer view their partner favorably. 

We seek to shine a light on each partner’s experience so understanding, empathy, and forgiveness can take place. 

If you live in the RDU/Wake County area, set up an appointment today, so you can get started on your journey to a stronger relationship.

We also offer Telehealth Therapy, family therapy, individual counseling, and other mental health counseling.

Contact us today, and let’s get started!

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How Do We Respect Others’ Boundaries When We Don’t Like Them?

Respecting BoundariesIt’s natural to resist boundaries when we experience them, especially when coming from someone close: a spouse, family member, or friend. 

“Why are they rejecting me?”

“What’s wrong with me?”

“Surely their boundary doesn’t apply to me!”

But if we want strong relationships, we have to respect boundaries.


Respecting Boundaries is Crucial

The fact you’re reading this article means you care about your relationships. That’s a very good place to begin, because the first step in building and maintaining relationships is to show care and respect for others’ autonomy as fellow human beings. They have a right to their own feelings and boundaries, same as you. But when you do run into someone’s boundary, you may feel rejected, sad, or even depressed. 

It’s time to pause.

Resist Reaction and Negative Self Talk

It’s natural to feel fear, anxiety, rejection, sadness, even depression in this situation. Emotions are real and valid. You may not understand why all of a sudden they’ve drawn a boundary. 

Be Curious, and Breathe…

It’s important to pause, breathe, and make note of your own feelings and emotions. This is difficult to do when negative emotions arise. But if you don’t pause and take a breath they can quickly spin out of control. They may do so anyway.

It’s never easy to check our emotions. It takes practice to catch them as they arise. The earlier we catch them, the better.

Say to yourself, “Hey! I’m feeling afraid and anxious. What’s that all about?” 

Then take some deep breaths and feel the emotion. Don’t fight it or try to get rid of it, just feel it and accept it as a natural, normal experience. 

Tell yourself, “It’s okay that I feel sad, rejected, or depressed.” 

Don’t Assume Stuff

 Don’t assume you know what the other person is thinking! 

You don’t. 

Assumptions allow negative emotions to run rampant. 

When someone says, “NO,” it’s not about you; it’s about them. 

Tell yourself, “This is about their boundaries, not about me.”

They aren’t rejecting you as a person. It doesn’t mean you are bad or inadequate. It just means they’re experiencing a negative reaction to something you’ve done or said.

Take another breath and ask yourself, “What is this person really trying to tell me about themself?”

Apologize and Ask Questions

If you can let go of your negative emotions, even momentarily, the next step is to apologize for breaching their boundary and ask them to clarify what happened. 

“I’m so sorry. I did not intend to upset you. Clearly I have. You are important to me. Can you explain what I did or said so I won’t do that again?”

Again, don’t assume you already know the answer. Actually listen for it.

Communication Begins with Silence: Listen and Pay Attention

Whatever you do, don’t interrupt. 

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to learn anything while talking. Once you’ve asked them to explain their boundaries, let them! Actually listen to the words they use and observe how they say them. 

Listen Not to Respond, But to Understand 

Let me repeat: listen not to respond, but to understand. You might want to repeat that phrase to yourself, now, a few hundred times. The goal is to remember it when conflicts arise. You want to form a habit of listening. It’s not easy to do. Work on it. 

Forget what you want to say about their boundaries. It doesn’t matter. What is important in this moment is to understand the boundary. 

Pay Attention to Body Language

While you’re listening, also watch for visual clues. This might be in their body language. 

Do they fold their arms in front of them or step back away from you? It might not have been something you said, but something you did without knowing it. You might have accidentally invaded their personal space. You might have interrupted them or used a trigger word. Did they suddenly clam up during a conversation?

Accept Boundaries Without Judgement

If they’re willing to communicate their boundaries to you, accept them outright. DO NOT question the boundary, and do not ask them WHY they have a boundary. It is none of your business.

It’s unlikely to be about you anyway. Even if it is, their boundary is their boundary. If you seek to build and maintain good relationships, you must accept other people’s boundaries without question or judgement.

They may explain why. If they feel like sharing, great. Listen to understand, not to respond. Keep that phrase in your head. It’s magical. But do not expect them to share the why. Do not ask why their boundary exists. 

Their ‘why’ is their business and their struggle. Instead of asking them for their why, ask yourself the same question.

Work on Yourself and Your Own Boundaries

If you’ve read this far, you’re already asking yourself important questions. Awesome! Keep working on your own feelings and emotions. Take note of them. Become more aware when they arise. 

Ask yourself, “Why do I feel this? What do their boundaries mean to me? And why do they cause such a reaction in my own mind?”

Give yourself time to find the answers. It takes time to work on your emotional health. Try not to let your emotions drag you down. If they do, that’s okay. Just give awareness to the experience. 

Say to yourself, “I’m being dragged down by negative emotions. I wonder why?” 

This is how awareness comes: little by little, with curiosity and practice. 

There is no silver bullet to deal with your emotions of fear, abandonment, anxiety, depression, or rejection. It takes time and work. You’ve already begun. You read this article! Keep working on it, but don’t feel you have to do it alone.

Mental Health Counseling Can Help!

We at RDU Counseling for Change have the tools and expertise to help you. We promise to listen to understand, not just to respond. We offer mental health counseling and therapy for individuals, couples, and families. If you live in the Wake County, NC area, come see us. Can’t come into the office? We have Telehealth options, too! 

Contact us by email at or call us at (919) 713-0260.

Do it, now! There’s no better time to begin than now.


If you’d like to read more on boundaries, here are a couple of good articles:

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The COVID Divide

The COVID DivideIt has been two years since COVID emerged on the scene. We have all felt the fear and uncertainty of a global pandemic, as well as the shutdowns that followed. Most of us worked from home for a year, supervised children doing online school, faced supply shortages, and have gotten used to wearing masks in public. But a casualty that has garnered little attention is the divide that has happened among friends and family members regarding the vaccine. 

With 63% of Americans fully vaccinated, studies indicate that this divergence of view is beginning to affect friendships. A new study shows that one in seven people have abandoned friendships due to their opinions on the COVID vaccine. A survey of 1,000 Americans by OnePoll looked at the reasons for friendship breakdowns over the last 18 months. According to the findings, 16% of participants had cut three friends from their lives since the pandemic began — 66% of those who ended a friendship are vaccinated, whereas 17% do not intend to get the vaccination. Fourteen percent of vaccinated individuals report parting ways with non-vaccinated friends. A Canadian study found that of those who have reduced contact with a family or friend in the past year, almost 94 percent said the split was caused by opinions about COVID-19.

We live in a turbulent time when deep divisions affect all of our relationships, including our friendships. If there are significant disparities between you and your friends when it comes to vaccine preferences, there are a few things you should consider before engaging in a conversation, 

How do you communicate with a friend with whom you disagree?

If you have a friend (or friends) with whom you disagree on vaccines and the distance makes you feel anxious, depressed, lonely, and sad, we recommend the following tips:

1. Constructively engage in the conversation.

Instead of listing all the reasons why your friend is misguided and engaging in a heated debate, stick to “I” messages. State your decision and why this is important for you. For example, if you feel uncomfortable being around individuals who feel opposite you, you could say, “I am not comfortable with [whatever you feel uncomfortable with].” Alternatively, if you are feeling judged, you could say, “I understand you did what was right for you, but I would like you to respect my personal decision here as I have for you.”

2. Be open to understanding their experiences.

Encourage productive discourse by asking open-ended questions and eliciting information about their concerns. What was important to you about making this decision? What has your experience been like after making this decision? Have you felt judged or understood by others?

3. Be candid about your own experience.

Share your personal experience and concerns. Resist trying to change someone’s viewpoint and creating a rift in the friendship. There is a delicate balance to be struck, but if you continue to show genuine concern for the other person, you can have a productive conversation.

4. Avoid playing the blame game or passing judgment.

Do not enter the conversation with the need to be “right.” Accept that your friends have the right to their own beliefs. In other words, avoid starting a conversation with the question, “Do you not care about science and facts?” or “Don’t you care about what you are putting inside your body?” Blame and judgment will immediately put your friend on the defense, and the conversation is unlikely to proceed as you intended.

5. Focus only on what you can control.

Bear in mind that we have no control over other people’s opinions, feelings, or emotions about any matter. Therefore, express your viewpoint with your friend and then understand that they are free to make their own choices and have their own opinions. Engage in dialogue, maintain an open line of communication, but accept that they will do as they like.

6. Remind yourself that your friendship may change as you establish boundaries and prioritize your health.

Consider the impact your friends’ beliefs and actions will have on your friendship. Ask yourself if this is an inconvenience or a barrier you are unwilling to overcome. These factors will vary depending on the nature of your friendship and your mutual understanding of each other’s perspective, but be mindful of them nonetheless.

How can you keep your friendships despite your differences?

1. Demonstrate your desire to stay friends.

If you can agree to disagree, make it clear to your friend that you want them in your life. Accept that your friendship may look slightly different, but that does not have to be a bad thing. There are many ways for you to stay connected in a way that works out for both of you.

2. Stick to virtual hangouts.

We have all grown accustomed to virtual hangouts. While you may be over Zoom/FaceTime hangouts at this point, they are an excellent alternative for those who are uncomfortable with in-person meetings. Join a reading group together, listen to the same podcast and discuss it, cook the same dinner over Zoom, take an online yoga class together or participate in a virtual trivia night and compete as a team. Make the most of the technology you have. 

3. Make outdoor plans.

If both of you are comfortable, try outdoor activities that require you to wear masks and maintain social distance. Why not tailgate in a parking lot? Park a few spots apart and share some laughs and good times. Alternatively, if you are comfortable, have a picnic in the park. And, if all else fails, there are always the old-fashioned modes of communication — write them a letter, a long SMS, a quick e-mail, or give them a surprise call! It helps fill the social vacuum while maintaining contact with your friend.

4. Keep going.

Accept that this disagreement will require some adjustment but that the effort will be worth it in the end. Change is hard but stay committed to making the best of the situation. Furthermore, you can always try bringing in new ideas or adjusting the things you used to do together. We recommend staying focused on the activity itself rather than on the fact that it does not feel the same anymore. If vaccination discussions start to seep into the conversation, try to redirect the conversation by saying, “I understand this is not ideal, and it will not last indefinitely. I am grateful that we can still be friends.” You will have to put in more effort first, but if your friendship is important to you, you will eventually adjust to a new normal.

Related Blog: Specialization Series: Adjustment Difficulties 

The Last Word

RDU Counseling for Change counselors often hear our clients express feelings of pressure to subscribe to a particular belief or face alienation/judgment from their friends. If you are having a difficult time navigating sensitive topics and maintaining relationships, our mental health counseling can help you. Our expert counselors are here to provide you with strategies and help you deal with the COVID divide more effectively! 

Call RDU Counseling for Change today at (919) 713-0260 or email at  to book your individual, couples, or family therapy either in person or telehealth session. 

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What is Relationship Security?

Couple sitting on a bed having a difficult discussionIt is not rare for people to feel insecure in their relationships at times. When people come to us for couples therapy, we often identify emotional fear and insecurity as underlying issues that must be addressed. After all, when couples do not feel emotionally safe and comfortable with each other, it creates friction and challenges in many other areas of their relationship. They end up feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, and sad. 

Insecurity is especially common among people in new relationships, although all couples may at some point in their relationship worry about how their partner feels for them. Feeling insecure in your relationship is fairly common, but it can cause problems between partners. According to a 2015 study, feelings of distrust and insecurity can result in jealousy and partner abuse. 

What does it mean to be secure in a relationship?

Being secure in a relationship means you find your partner to be accessible, responsive, and engaged (ARE). The Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) model identified these characteristics as integral for relationship security, regardless of the type of relationship (romantic, friends, parent-child, etc.). So ask yourself, are you and your partner accessible to one another when there is a need? Do you respond to each other’s bids for connection? Are you engaged in your responses instead of being distracted by watching tv or looking at your phone? The good news is the bar is set pretty low to experience relationship security. Researchers say that if we have ARE in 30% of our attempts, then the relationship feels stable. This also means that repair work can take place when there is an injury. 

What is an insecure relationship?

When the needs we discussed are unfulfilled, insecurity can take shape in a relationship. When a partner starts to feel the need to shield themselves within the confines of the relationship, they lose faith that the relationship will provide a safe and secure space for them to meet their needs. They may believe that they can’t resolve issues or receive the attention they so desperately need. Partners often don’t directly communicate their expectations or needs. Therefore, they are disappointed with their partner when these needs are not met consistently or at all.

The connection between trauma and relationships

Trauma — particularly relational trauma — is often seen to have an impact on relationships. Say you have had previous encounters with caregivers, even as far back as childhood, on whom you relied for comfort, affection, advice, or anything else, but your needs were never met. That is your trauma, and it can be the trigger of your relationship insecurities. 

When a partner is “triggered” in a relationship, they are pulled out of the present moment. It can feel as if they are reliving a bad memory from the past. You have probably heard of flashbacks, but reliving can happen in several different ways. When someone is triggered, they are whisked out of the current moment and react from a very primal source, not even aware of the connection to their past.

Acknowledging and supporting the healing of trauma in relationships is possible, and it can help improve a partner’s individual recovery while they work towards feeling more secure in their relationship. 

Related Blog: The Cycle of Emotion and Understanding Your Coping Mechanism 

How can couples build security in their relationship?

Couple sitting in each other's arms smilingTwo things are required to create a recovery or healing culture in a relationship:

For one, it is important for each person to identify the emotions that drive their reactions. What happens when they are triggered. What did their partner say or do that caused them to feel hurt, angry, or frustrated? What do they tell themselves about their partner or self? Then what do they do in response to that trigger? Often times, in arguments, couples resort to blaming, criticizing, defending, or withdrawing when they feel their needs aren’t being met. These actions then block their underlying message from being heard by their partner. For example, if someone starts accusing their partner of being selfish, that isn’t going to open up a dialogue for discussion. Instead, it invites defensiveness or withdrawal. Likewise, if someone withdraws as a way to protest the distress of conflict, it tends to invite pursuit or turning up the volume by the other partner to be heard and not abandoned. 

In addition to knowing what triggers you and how you react, it is important to be able to slow down and communicate your underlying emotions and fears rather than resorting to blaming, criticizing, defending, or withdrawing. If you notice your partner talking to someone else at a party and you get anxious, don’t accuse them of wanting to be someone else. Instead, be vulnerable and express your fear. For example, “when I noticed you talking to another woman, I got nervous and felt my heart sink to my stomach. I started to compare myself to her and told myself that you prefer her over me. It is so scary to think I’m not enough for you and you could decide to leave me.” This is being vulnerable with your partner. Vulnerability tends to draw us closer to one another, while accusations or defensiveness drive us away. However, this is not easy to do. It is scary to recognize our fears, much less state them.  

Sue Johnson, developer of the EFT model, says, “The most functional way to regulate difficult emotions in love relationships is to share them.” When we share these difficult emotions, it helps our partners to hear us more clearly. It also allows us to organize our feelings and make sense of them. As you as a couple learn to do this, you will be able to reach for your partner and experience trust and security in your relationship.  

What kind of help is available for couples fighting insecurities in their relationship?

What we believe is necessary for couples to understand is that being triggered in relationships does not rule out the possibility of recovery. It also does not rule out the possibility of the relationship’s long-term success and stability. Couples must believe that there is hope and help. Counseling can help couples make sense of their emotional experience and reach for their partner in a new and inviting way.

Contact RDU Counselors to Get Your Relationship Back on Track

If you are considering couples therapy, reach out to RDU Counseling for Change. Our counselors can help couples improve their relationship satisfaction and conflict resolution. The ultimate goal for us is to support the development of a healthy and secure relationship and the resolution of any insecurities or challenges that may arise.

To schedule an appointment for couples counseling with expert counselors in Raleigh, NC, please get in touch with RDU Counseling for Change today. We also offer family therapy as well as mental health counseling for individuals. Learn more about our counseling specializations by clicking here. Our Raleigh therapy and counseling sessions have helped countless couples feel safer and more secure in their relationships. To learn more about our online therapy in Raleigh, NC, please contact us by email at or call us at (919) 713-0260.

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The Power of Connection

Group high fiveIn today’s world, we have a plethora of options for expanding our network and keeping in touch with friends and family. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow us to connect with just one click of a button, hearing their voices and seeing their faces, no matter how far away they are.

Ironically, the more choices we have for staying connected to everyone we know, the more disconnected we have become from the outside world. In fact, social media has been associated with increased feelings of isolation and anxiety among young adults. (Source: NPR)

What Stops Us from Building Strong Relationships?

We have certain connections that influence our lives at all levels. With loneliness on the rise, it is all the more critical that we strengthen and nurture these relationships in order to reap reciprocal benefits. However, there are moments when we are unable to communicate, as the thick fog of loneliness overshadows us. Staying in a relationship and putting in the hard work can feel like a burden at times. We may even experience an inexplicable discomfort that pushes us away from others and forces us to retreat into ourselves. There may be several explanations for this feeling.

Human interaction is important for everyone, but the degree and amount of interaction can differ based on one’s personality. Some people are shy and introverted, while others are outspoken and extroverted. Past trauma and relational hurt can affect one’s ability to trust others, which can lead to building fences rather than bridges. It may feel safer to isolate and yet difficult to feel lonely..

Related Read: What is the Difference Between Being Triggered by Trauma and Being Offended by Someone’s Behavior

Utilizing the Power of Connections

Despite all of the barriers that prevent us from connecting, we can safely assume that relationships and connections have a profound effect on us. They can alter our moods as well as boost our creativity, productivity, and vitality. Positive relationships and good connections can propel us to the pinnacle of success.

Positive networking has many advantages of which we might be unaware. It can provide us with access to many more connections, which can further fuel our physical and mental development. For example, our workplace relationships can give rise to a number of new social and professional connections. These can then be helpful in reaching career objectives.

Relationships are also important because they improve our emotional well-being and teach us how to be selfless. They teach us to be considerate and how to be a better version of ourselves. They arouse our awareness of mankind’s needs and encourage us to work for the greater good.

Relationships with others also help us get back up when we fall and give us strength when we feel weak. There can be a shoulder to cry on when we are connected to someone. We can count on them in times of need. We can vent and talk our hearts out to someone with whom we have a deep connection. This relationship helps reduce stress and anxiety while making us feel less depressed. It makes us realize that we have someone to lean on and that we will not have to endure the darkest times alone.

Relationships are not only about receiving but also about imparting; it is a two-way street. Non-toxic relationships are not parasitic, and you are not entitled to all of the rewards. When you connect, you are also contributing to society. You will share your community goals and vision with others connected to you, making a difference in their lives and motivating them to set new goals.

How to Connect?

Connecting with others is not a tough nut to crack. Being a member of the human race, you have experienced that bond with parents, friends, teachers, or your children. In emotionally focused therapy, we define relational security as ARE-- accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement. Being accessible or available to those you care about, especially when they are in need is crucial. It also is important to respond. If someone is in crisis, time is of the essence. Delaying does not indicate the ability for someone to depend on another. Finally, engagement tells others that you care and are invested in the relationship. You are attuned to them and paying attention to what is on their heart.

Furthermore, keep an open mind when it comes to making new connections. Allow others to approach you, support you, and work with you by making room for them to do so. Only keep in mind to communicate with ease and sincerity. At the same time, avoid negative people and only connect with those who have a meaningful impact on your life. In a relationship, celebrate the differences while revealing the less striking parallels.

Reach Out to RDU Counseling for Change

If you feel disconnected, depressed, sad, anxious, and lonely, you can come to us for help. At RDU Counseling for Change, we offer mental health counseling and online therapy in Raleigh, NC. Be it individual, couples, or family therapy, RDU counselors are trained in counseling people from different walks of life. If you have any questions or want to book your Raleigh therapy session, feel free to contact us at (919) 713 0260.

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Why is Forgiveness Important for Well Being?


When you think of forgiveness, you may think of writing someone a blank chat to get away with whatever they did to hurt you. No wonder so many people have such a difficult time finding it in themselves to forgive! 

But forgiveness is not about the other person. Forgiveness aims to give you a more objective understanding of what happened while ridding you of the negative feelings that are a result of the event. The ability to forgive can lead to people feeling happier, less stressed, and more positive about things in their life. 

If you’re wondering how to forgive or why it is important for you, here are a few things you should understand.

It’s About You

Forgiveness is about you and your own mental well-being – not the person who hurt you. When you hold on to the negativity of an experience, you harbor the emotions that are associated with it and can internalize the bitterness, resentment, hurt, and anger that is caused by it. This can be an incredibly unhealthy state of mind to be in. Forgiveness will help you move on from this negativity and focus on a healthier, happier mindset.

Forgiveness Does Not Dismiss What You Experienced

In no way does forgiveness mean what you went through is okay or that you have forgotten the experience. Instead, it means acknowledging and working through the pain and trauma and moving forward without the negative emotions. You can still remember all of it, but forgiveness helps you feel stronger in the aftermath. You are making a choice not to be bound by anger and bitterness.

Forgiveness is One-Sided

While you can always let the other person know you have forgiven them, you don’t have to rely on their acceptance of your forgiveness in order for it to be valid. If the person who hurt you doesn’t care or  acknowledge your choice to forgive them or even admit their role in hurting you, it doesn’t change the fact that you took a step forward in your own healing. By forgiving the one who offended you, you can move forward instead of being bound by the past.

Forgiveness Doesn’t Make You Weaker

Many people might think that forgiving the person or people who hurt you is a sign of weakness. But it’s quite the opposite. It’s easy to stay bitter and angry, bottle it all in and thrive in feelings of negativity. It’s much harder to find it in you to forgive and move on. In this sense, forgiveness can be an incredibly powerful thing to do and it requires a lot of effort.

Forgiveness is Not Black and White

Forgiveness isn’t a switch you can turn on and off at will. It is a process that takes time, energy, and, sometimes even, professional help. It also doesn’t require that you completely forgive someone for everything they did, it simply means moving towards a frame of mind where you could be closer to forgiving them than you were before.

Whether you want to work through the emotions of a traumatic event, improve your relationships, or just find it in you to move past painful experiences and reach a point where you can forgive easily – we at RDU Counseling for Change are here to help. You can schedule an appointment with our counselors today and begin your journey to self healing.

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DEAR MAN: How to Ask for What You Want

DEAR ManIf you often feel sad, depressed, anxious, or lonely, you might want to consider picking up a few interpersonal skills. These skills are helpful for conflict resolution, increased tolerance, improved mindfulness, and emotion regulation. If you have trouble asserting yourself or come across demanding, then DEAR MAN is for you.

This skill provides you with step-by-step instructions on how to ask for what you want or need. DEAR MAN and other interpersonal skills are part of a comprehensive skillset taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Other DBT modules are mindfulness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance.

What Is It Used For?
The DEAR MAN skill is typically employed when you are unable to communicate properly with another person, which may lead to relationship distress. Using DEAR MAN should help with your overall communication so that you can learn to ask for what you want or need in a relationship without caving to or railroading the other person.

What Does It Stand For?
Describe the situation as it is. Stick to the facts and inform the other person to what you are reacting to. In this step, refrain yourself from blaming or judging the other person for what they did. For example: “I was talking to you about something important and you did not engage with me. You answered your phone instead.

Express your feelings. Once you have simply narrated what happened, you can now begin to talk about how a certain situation made you feel. Say what hurt you or why it hurt you as clearly and calmly as possible. For example, “It really hurt my feelings that you answered your phone while I was talking with you.

Assert yourself by asking for exactly what you want or need. Do not assume that the other person can read your mind and know what you want. For example, “I need you to put your phone away and not answer it while we are in the midst of an important conversation. Or I need you to come back and reengage.

Reinforce the other person as to the positive effect they will experience of you getting what you need. For example, “I will feel more respected and important to you. As a result, I will feel closer to you and easier to live with.

Be Mindful by keeping your attention entirely on the topic being discussed, rather than being distracted. It’s also helpful to remember to be a broken record and repeat what it is you are asking for. Also ignore any attacks or threats by the other person. Stay focused on your goal. For example, “I understand you may not intend to hurt me but I would still like you to be engaged.

Appear effective and confident, even if you feel shaky on the inside! Use a confident tone of voice, maintain eye contact, and stay assertive. For example, don’t give up or retreat. Continue to reiterate your point.

Be willing to Negotiate to get what matters to you. It may be necessary for you to ask the other person what they would suggest as far as a solution to the problem. You can even reduce your request some but also be willing to say no. This is important to continue honoring your request even if you need to look for other solutions.

The DEAR MAN skill is highly effective, especially in conflicts between partners, because it allows you to resolve conflicts with greater ease. It does take practice, though, so don’t give up. It also may be helpful to write down what the facts are, your feelings about it, and what you are asking for in advance of talking about an issue with someone. This may help you remember to stay on task and why you are asking for what you need.

At RDU Counseling for Change, we provide expert family and couples therapy. To book an appointment with some of our expert counselors, please contact us on 919-713-0260 or visit our website.

While change is hard, together with our help, you will be able to overcome any relationship issues you may be facing currently!

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Attachment and the Importance of Creating a Secure Bond

A couple walking at the beach at sunset - Creating a secure bond with your partner ‘Can’t you do the dishes for at least one day?’
‘The garbage is rotting. You forgot to take it out again!’
‘You never listen to me.’
‘You don’t have time for me.’

For most couples, it’s common for petty day-to-day issues to escalate into a major fight.

But what’s the underlying cause and how can you avoid it?

According to Dr. Sue Johnson, a renowned researcher, professor, and clinical psychologist in the field of couple therapy and adult attachment, the root cause of the problem is an emotional connection, or rather, the lack thereof.

Dr. Johnson suggests that when couples frequently argue with one another, it is not really about the dishes, garbage, or any other apparent topic at hand itself. Instead, it’s mostly about identifying their negative cycle of interaction, acknowledging their part in it, and understanding their partner’s underlying emotions and attachment needs.

In other words, when arguing, couples are basically asking their partners ‘are you really here for me?’ or ‘do you even understand me?’

The A.R.E. Principle
Dr. Sue Johnson developed A.R.E. to explain the basics of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) that she formulated in 1985. A.R.E. stands for accessibility, responsiveness, and emotional engagement – the three fundamental elements of creating a secure bond with your partner.

Accessibility means that you spend sufficient time alone with your partner and give them your undivided attention when required. It’s not just about being in the same room together – it’s about being available when the other person needs you.

Becoming more approachable for your partner is of no good unless you become more responsive as well. For example, if one partner is overwhelmed or stressed, it is important that the other responds to the other’s need for comfort. This helps us know that we are not alone and that we can rely on our partner.

Similarly, emotional engagement means that you know your partner is invested in you and your relationship. This prioritization of one another over everything else helps to calm the nervous system and reinforces that you have someone you can depend on.

Applying the A.R.E principle in your relationship helps you build a strong connection with your loved one. It develops trust and helps you open up to your partner without feeling unheard or insecure. When you develop a greater appreciation for one another and are able to express yourself and communicate effectively, you can further strengthen the ties of your connection and ensure that your relationship lasts for a lifetime.

RDU Counseling for Change helps couples build a stronger, more meaningful relationship by understanding each other on a deeper emotional level. If you want to learn more about the benefits of emotionally focused couple therapy to bring a positive change in your life, email us at , complete our website contact form, or call us at 919-713-0260.

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What Is Relationship Distress and How to Treat It

A distressed couple sitting on a bench looking in opposite directionsRelationship distress is a common yet highly detrimental problem affecting many couples, and it may arise as a result of emotional disconnection and insecurity. This may occur through imagined or real romantic problems such as an extramarital affair, problems with intimacy, or the stress of parenting.

Relationship distress can be devastating for both partners involved, leading to high levels of stress, worry, and depression. Unless addressed in a timely manner, this can even cause the physical health of the couple to deteriorate. Relationship distress can have a negative impact on not just couples but their children as well. Children raised in households suffering from relationship distress tend to experience emotional difficulties and are more vulnerable to the onset of mental disorders such as chronic depression, psychosis, and PTSD.

Causes of Relationship Distress
As with any issue in the context of social relationships, the triggers for the onset of relationship distress can vary from couple to couple. However, it is more common in cases where the partners suffer from difficulties in communication. Breakdown in communication can, over time, lead to higher insecurity, and heighten cases of arguments, defensiveness, and distrust.

Unless remedied, the couple can get locked into a negative cycle of higher distress that weakens their relationship and intimacy further and further. Signs that a couple is entrenched in a negative cycle is that they continually have the same argument over and over again. They may fight over different issues but the way they fight looks the same. One partner may push the other, which leads them to pull away and withdraw. But when one partner withdraws, the other is left typically feeling abandoned.

Another frequent factor that can contribute to relationship distress could be a highly stressful incident such as a loss of a child, unemployment, or discovery of infidelity that can easily throw the relationship off balance even in well-established couples. Additional causes that can contribute to a relationship include substance abuse, gambling, taking care of children with special needs, lack of financial means, infidelity, infertility, and untreated mental illnesses.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) has been known to help couples suffering from relationship distress to restrengthen the bond between them. The therapy involves a three-stage process-de-escalation, restructuring, and consolidation.

I the first stage, couples are made aware of their self-reinforcing cycle of negative behaviors that bring distress to their relationship. In the second stage, the couples are asked to incorporate new emotional experiences into their relationship to foster a more secure connection. The last stage involves helping couples to use their rebuilt attachment and improved bond to better solve issues in their everyday lives and grow resilience in their relationship.

EFT is a fairly brief therapy and typically takes between 8 to 20 sessions to move couples through the three mentioned stages. This may vary depending on the couple and if there are attachment injuries, like an affair or addiction.

When to Seek Help
No relationship is perfect and any couple is likely to go through ups and downs in their relationship. However, in the case of relationship distress, the downs tend to be chronic and reinforcing with partners constantly feeling dissatisfied with one another and communication between the two suffering heavily.

If you think you and your partner may be suffering from relationship distress, we are here to help. Get in touch with our team of friendly and experienced therapists by calling 919-713-0260 or emailing us at

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How to Co-Parent with a Difficult Ex

 Parents and kids holding handsA divorce or separation between two people who were once in love is truly heartbreaking, but what makes it even more difficult and emotionally challenging is dealing with the shared custody of children.

The worst part is that it’s not the act of couples breaking-up that affects the child, but rather, it’s actually the conflicts, clashes, and differences in opinion between the parents that truly harm the child. The situation greatly worsens when one has to co-parent with a difficult ex. It can often result in the child getting stuck between the two adults, which can lead to anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no denying the fact that change is hard, and dealing with such a distressing predicament can take a toll on any individual, but one has to power through for the sake of their child. Co-parenting should always be about the children rather than your relationship with your former partner. 

Here are some tips on how to raise your children in a healthy manner and protect them from divorce wars alongside a chronically difficult ex. 

Be Your Best Version 
No matter how sad, lonely, or depressed you might feel during the entire co-parenting journey, always remember that you have to be the best version of yourself. If you truly wish to raise healthy and happy children, you must do your best to protect their image of the other parent. Do not slander or vent about your ex to your children. They need to be able to love both parents and not feel as if they have to hide that from the other parent.  

Now, not all marriages or divorces are alike. Some marriages may be riddled with infidelity, addiction, abandonment, or financial problems. While it is still important to help your children have a relationship with the other parent, there may be times when what is in your kids’ best interest is to protect them from your ex. This is such a delicate and difficult line to walk. It often comes with complex emotions for you and your kids. After all, this wasn’t how you ever envisioned your marriage going. If this is your situation, you will most likely need continued legal counsel and a parenting coordinator to help buffer tenuous discussions.

Be on the Same Page
While many couples cite communication as a reason for divorcing, it will be even more important when it comes to coparenting. Now that you are living in different homes and the kids are going between mom and dad, consistency and routine will be essential. Maybe create a google calendar that both parents share with the children’s activities, custody schedule,  vacations, and doctors visits. This will keep both parents in the loop and prevent possible conflict.

If one of the children is having problems at school or is acting out, be a united front. Kids need to know what their parent’s boundaries are. If you and your ex cannot agree on consequences or discipline, then the children will lose out because they may learn that they can pit one parent against the other to get what they want. When you come to conclusions and decisions together, kids will be less likely to push those boundaries.

If you and your ex cannot get on the same page, it may be time to hire a parenting coordinator.  This is typically a lawyer or other professional who will hear both parties’ sides and make difficult decisions for you. A parenting coordinator is non-biased and there to uphold the custody agreement. This is not cheap, but if there is no way of reaching consensus or having a conflict-free conversation, this may be your best bet.

Be Reflective
If things get too difficult, you can always go to individual counseling or counseling with your former partner to help with coparenting. Several trained professionals provide counseling services to help you deal with difficult emotions and better your mental health. This isn’t just for your own benefit, but it will also help you help your children. An expert counselor will be able to guide you and your ex with regard to how to move forward in life and deal with tough situations. They also may help by sitting with the family to address communication, problem-solving, and an ability to cope with the changing family dynamics.

Get In Touch 
If you are dealing with a tough ex and are finding it hard to co-parent with them, feel free to contact RDU Counseling for Change, where expert RDU counselors in Raleigh and  Wake County are here to listen to you and help make your life better.

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Useful Tips on How to Listen to Your Kids

A mom with her kids:  An understanding parent that a child is comfortable talking to is less likely to feel lonely, depressed or anxious. We all hear but listening means so much more. Listening is being able to understand what the other person is saying. Being able to listen to what your kids say is part of good parenting. By being an effective listener, you can improve your bonding and understanding with your kids as well as be better aware of any problem they might be facing. An understanding parent that a child is comfortable talking to is less likely to feel lonely, depressed, or anxious. In this article, we’ll be offering you some useful tips on how to listen to your kids.


Have a Calming Presence
As a social being, humans are highly attuned to the emotions of each other. As we grow, we might learn to become less perceptive of how others feel but universally every child is highly perceptive to how we show our emotions. Try to be relaxed and calm when your kid wants to talk to you. Showcasing a positive emotional state can make you more approachable and your kids will be less nervous when sharing their thoughts with you.

Don’t Interrupt
Not interrupting while someone is talking is considered essential for listening but some individuals take great liberty when it comes to their kids. While what your child may be saying might be relatively unimportant to you, to them the topic might be of great importance. Frequently interrupting them while they speak will make the conversation more stressful for them and they would start communicating less altogether.

Show Empathy to What They are Feeling
A person is far more comfortable talking to someone who can feel what they are feeling. This is especially true for kids. Again, what they may be speaking might be trivial to you but if you sync your facial experience with their emotions, your kids will feel closer to you and love you more.

RDU Counseling for Change is a therapy and mental health counseling clinic in RDU, Wake County with a mission is to provide compassionate and effective care for our clients. To schedule an appointment with our team of expert counselors, please call 919-713-0260.


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What is the Difference Between Being Triggered by Trauma and Being Offended by Someone’s Behavior

 A sad depressed girl in blackGetting hurt by people is a reality of life from which no one can stay safe. Every person, at some point in their life, gets hurt or offended by someone, which can bring immense pain. And sometimes that pain can brew resentment, hatred, and anger toward the offender. While those are completely natural emotions, if left unattended, they can make a person hostile. Therefore, one must learn to channel their negative emotions constructively to move on and stabilize their emotional well-being.

If someone offends you, notice your emotions and what they are trying to tell you. Recognize the hurt and pain as well as what it says about your needs in the relationship. No one should have so much power over us that they control our feelings and emotional stability. And that is another reason why it is beneficial to forgive those who hurt you while also putting up appropriate boundaries. If someone harms you in a physical way, then this has different implications. You may need to consider taking legal action or separating from them.

Channeling routine emotions and dealing with the hurt caused by other people can be challenging and even confusing. Sometimes it is not clear cut, depending on how you respond to the hurt. Do you internalize the messages and blame yourself? Or do you play the victim and think everyone has turned against you? However, learning to tackle harrowing feelings triggered by past trauma cannot be done without counseling from an expert.

If a person has suffered from a painful past experience, then they might be triggered now and then by environmental stimuli and get uncontrollably anxious. In that case, getting triggered and feeling strong emotions is not a regular occurrence that happens with every other person. If a person is triggered by trauma, then they need to come to terms with what happened to them and learn to move on with the help of an expert counselor.

A variety of things may trigger someone with an unsettling past. For instance, if a person was sexually assaulted, then they may be triggered by a specific word that their molester kept repeating at the time. Or they may be triggered by the color of light that was in the room at the time of the assault. To learn to withstand triggers to a past event, one needs to take therapy so that they can move on.

Counseling is vital for people suffering from mental trauma. If you are in Wake County, NC, and you think you need individual, couples, or family therapy, then contact us today. We at RDU Counseling for Change have the most capable counselors, such as Kelly Harrison, who can help you navigate through your psychological troubles. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us; mental health issues are as real as physical health concerns and must be treated immediately.

If you feel anxious, sad, depressed, or lonely constantly, then you might have some underlying psychological burden that must be addressed. Let us help you. We believe that we are the Raleigh therapy experts, and we can help everyone who suffers from trauma. Give us a chance to make you feel better. Contact RDU Counseling for Change, where expert RDU counselors in Raleigh and Wake County are here to listen to you

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Why Is Validation so Important in Relationships?

Why Is Validation so Important in RelationshipsValidation. A simple word yet it holds so much value and strong emotions behind it.

Being human comes with feelings of self-doubt and a slew of insecurities that make us question ourselves. We have a need to be reassured by people connected to us. Gaining their approval in all aspects of life validates your choices and how you feel about yourself.

Since this behavior is a part of human nature, it can’t be completely erased. However, there are some extreme cases where some people need validation more than others.  Some might even go to the extent of letting others dictate their lives.

In these situations, a lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem are the likely culprits. People who experience this typically need some help gaining self-esteem and learning self-validation.

Validation in Relationships

On the other hand, validation in relationships can be a good thing. Within relationships, whether romantic, platonic or otherwise, validation doesn’t just mean approving one another’s choices. Instead, validation in relationships is more like acceptance.

Having somebody that understands and accepts your emotions and feelings for what they are can be very powerful. It makes you feel like you matter without having to get their approval or disapproval.

We have a yearning to be heard and seen by people we love and care for. When somebody we trust notices and acknowledges something most people don’t, we feel an affinity towards them.

We think that they truly understand who we are and what we think and that they “get us.” The validation we get from them helps create a bond. It emboldens us to be ourselves around that person. Often times, having somebody there to understand you may make you feel like you’re not alone in the world.

By acknowledging each other’s feelings, you basically have the tools to build each other up. You can reinforce your relationship by understanding each other’s rationale. You might not necessarily agree with it, but the mutual validation still brings you closer.

You don’t bring the other down by passing judgment.  Nor do you try to change them or what they feel. Be present when they are sharing. Ask questions but don’t stop them in the middle of the conversation.

Empathy is the name of the game when it comes to validating your partner. This might be difficult when the one expressing their feelings is sad or angry, especially when their negative emotions were triggered by you.

Validation and empathy are important, but encouragement to deal with the root cause is also necessary. Or it would be like putting a band-aid on a wound without knowing how it got there. It can make the response feel superficial.

One other factor to keep in mind is that validation can be detrimental to a relationship when you begin relying on it - when what they have to say about your emotions then becomes the final word. This can be harmful to your self-esteem. Also, this may cause your partner to lie and agree with you to not hurt your feelings.

There is a fine line between being validated and being dependent on your partner’s opinion. The latter is not conducive to any relationship. So keep it genuine.

In the end, validation is a tool you can use to build up your relationship and find intimacy with your partner. It should make you want to be a better person and comfort you that you’re not alone.

If you want to learn more about how validation impacts you or if you need relationship help, feel free to contact RDU Counseling for Change at 919-713-0260.

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Our Team of Professionals

  • Kelly Harrison

    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC)
  • Kelley Baughman

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHCA)
  • Whitney Chambers

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHCA)
  • Christy Douglas

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
  • Hugo Izzo

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
  • Bryon Lawrence

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
  • Breanna Linn

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate
  • Sallie Ratcliffe

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate