Tuesday, April 4, 2017

SUPPORT THE WORK


If you love my work and want to support it, now you can. Click here

For now, most of the posts will remain. However, if you follow this blog and receive insight from it, I invite you to consider becoming a patron and reading my articles on Patreon. My goal is to have way more time to spend writing this stuff for you, and eventually retire this blog and do everything over there. 

THANK YOU! :) 

https://www.patreon.com/amymiller

Monday, April 3, 2017

Advice for the day

If you are hurt by someone, or you don't understand why a person is behaving how they are, or what made them say the thing they said how they said it, etc, ASK THEM WITH WORDS. Be curious, not accusatory. Inquire sincerely about the thing that is troubling you. 
Say, "That hurt my feelings. Can you tell me what made you say that?" 
Or
"This behavior is unlike you and it's kind of freaking me out. Can you tell me what's bothering you?"
Or
"I sense that things are off between us. Can you tell me what I've done to upset you?" 
Or 
"I don't really understand what you meant by that. Can you say it a different way so I can make sure to get it right?" 
Or 
"I would really like to talk about what's been going on in with our relationship. It hasn't felt good to me lately. Can you tell me how it feels to you?" 
DO NOT just let hurt feelings and misunderstandings go unattended. That is how relationships fall apart; when tiny unhealed wounds are allowed to fester, they eventually become necrotic. Think about how this idea works in the body, as it is fairly analogous to the spirit of relationship. 
I would also invite you to remember that most people do not intend to be hurtful even when they are. Most people are just out here doing their best to protect **themselves** from being hurt. Applying intention and value to the behavior and words of others without inquiry is unwise, as most people are honestly not putting very much care and thought into how they are affecting others. 
When it is brought to their attention how they are impacting others, however, they have a choice to address the issues, or not. You are likely to receive much more accurate information via people's response to your hurt, rather than from the thing that caused the hurt. That is usually a function of misunderstanding, carelessness, and often just having no idea how they are being received. It's when you say "Can you tell me more about this" that they have the opportunity to recognize their impact, adjust their behavior or words, and have a more positive impact moving forward. 
OR NOT. 
Sometimes people will be unable to hear how they were harmful, and will become defensive. They might lash out. They might doubledown on the hurtful thing or behavior and insist that it is exactly what they meant to do or say. They might gaslight you and make you feel like you don't have a right to your feelings. They might tell you all the things you did to *make* them do or say harmful things. 
This response is not about you, so I would invite you to simply receive the information and move on. Don't take it personally. Understand that this person you care about may not be in a place where they can have a constructive conversation about their behavior. Perhaps they are not used to being approached with kindness and curiosity, and they believe they have to protect themselves from what feels like criticism. Perhaps they are simply in the habit of defensiveness and don't see a better way to resolve conflict. 
The best thing you can do is model the behavior you want to see in others. Treat the people you love with unconditional positive regard, such that when they (usually unintentionally) cause you harm, you don't have to take it personally or react harshly. Practice using words to ask clarifying questions and approach conflict from a place of "how can we resolve this?" vs. "how can I hurt you back?" or worse, just giving up on the relationship and not giving people a chance to learn how to do it better.

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Saturday, March 25, 2017

INFP mantra for the day...

I invite everyone, but **ESPECIALLY my INFP people** to always try and remember the following mantras: 
  • mistakes do not equate to failure
  • there is no such thing as perfection
  • feelings are not facts
  • you are enough 
  • you are worthy 
  • you are valued

....repeat, ad infinitum



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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring Clean Your Emotional House




Spring Special for Newsletter Subscribers!
(Must be STL local; these specials don't apply to distance coaching) 

(If you're not a newsletter subscriber, click here to add your email to our mailing list. You may unsubscribe at any time.)

When talking about improving relationships, it is important to accept that we can only change ourselves. As much as we may wish it were otherwise, other people's behavior is entirely out of our control. And often we are contributing to whatever behavior they are displaying, as we continually trigger and influence people around us. So our best bet is to take inventory of what our contribution is to every interaction, and figure out how we can do it better each time. Basically, I say this a lot: "You've got to make sure your house is clean before you can invite anybody to move in."

I do this work because I truly believe that incredible changes can happen by doing some deep, courageous self-reflection AND learning new skills to communicate more effectively. These efforts, in tandem, will always lead to significant improvement in all areas of life.

That said, I know that finances can be tight sometimes and we may set our own needs aside for other things. Many of you have expressed interest in the workshops we offer or in doing individual (or couples) work with me, but have found the costs prohibitive.

As such, for the first time ever I'm offering a discounted package. Consider it "Spring Cleaning for your Emotional House". Between now and April 30, subscribers to MCC's mailing list can receive:

three (3) individual sessions (normally $270)
+
two (2) workshops of your choice (normally $110)

= $380 


for $325, a savings of $55 (so basically it's like receiving a free class)

Fine print: The only catch is you must pay in full to initiate discount, and you must use the individual sessions within 90 days (assuming we can find mutually agreeable times). However, the class credits never expire, since I know scheduling can be difficult with our busy lives. I offer each class approximately quarterly, and the current schedule is linked here.

Just a little present for you guys to show how much I appreciate you! Hope you all are well.
~amy~



Monday, March 6, 2017

INFJ/ENFP relationship

INFJ and ENFP are basically the perfect pairing for friendship and/or romance, and here's why: 
They both lead with information-gathering (iNtuition) so they are both, first and foremost, curious about ideas, concepts, issues, and understanding what motivates other people's behavior. But their intuition goes in opposite directions, so each sees what the other misses, which sparks rich dialogue. 
Both are also NF types, so they share genuine care and concern for others as well, but it's secondary. So neither is *overly* emotional, and in most cases, a neutral "oh that's interesting" or "let me see if I understand" is (eventually) going to override "that hurts my feelings" or "I want to hurt you back" in any conflict situation. They also share a desire to exchange ideas and to explore intellectual possibilities (even as they relate to emotion) *more* than they desire to talk about feelings purely for their own sake. Any conflict that arises, once both have moved through the initial reflex of feelings, is going to end up in a rather clinical analysis of "what just happened" and "how do we not do that again" and "what improvements can we make for next time".

Both types report a difficulty with feeling understood and a desire to be "seen" and so the other person's sincere desire and effort to see and understand them is a key element to the ease of this relationship. In terms of the cognitive functions, between the two types, all EIGHT functions are represented. What this means, functionally, is that each has what the other is missing.




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INFP/INFJ relationship

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Friday, March 3, 2017

SPRING 2017 CLASS SCHEDULE

Updated Class Schedule: Spring 2017

Personality Types 101: 
Saturday, April 8
1-3 p.m. 
This classes serves as an introduction to Myers-Briggs Personality Type and Jungian temperament theory. It includes working toward a basic understanding of cognitive functions, which is useful when learning how to type yourself and others accurately, why it’s useful, and its limitations. We also review all of the 16 archetypes briefly

Communication for New & Expectant Parents: 
Saturday, April 15 
1-3 p.m. 

This class will focus on navigating common communication difficulties (in general), as well as specific issues that may arise during pregnancy, and early babyhood. We will also discuss strategies for maintaining intimate connection between partners during the turmoil of this period.  


INFJ: How to Make Yourself Known:
Saturday, April 29
1-3 p.m. 

Boundaries:
Saturday, May 6
1-3 p.m. 
This class focuses on defining boundaries, and discussing what can happen when we fail (or overachieve) in setting boundaries. We will discuss boundaries from the perspective of our personal and professional lives, including how to shift codependent relationships into healthier interdependent ones. 


Communication INTENSIVE: 
Saturday, May 13th 
12-4 p.m. 

The first half of this class will be "Use Your Words" aka "Say What The F*** You Mean" (focusing on passive-aggressive behavior, apologies, identifying how you feel and how to express it, etc).

The second half of this class will be "How to Do Conflict Well"  aka "Don't Be An A**hole" (focusing on practical strategies for having difficult conversations, how to fight fairly, how to communicate clearly and concisely in a way that is respectful).

We will offer these classes on the same day. Please note: you may attend one or both, as there will be a short break between the sections. There is a discounted rate for attending the entire workshop. 

**Rates for these workshops vary. Email amy@millercounseling.org or text 314.502.9275 for more information, or to register.** 

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We are also now offering a bi-weekly drop-in "therapy" group for iNtuitive Feeler types; it's organic and open to anyone identifying as an NF. Intended to be a safe space for like-minded people to process their feelings, talk about issues, etc. Email me for more information. 

******************************************************
FINE PRINT: All of these workshops are informal and interactive, but only to the extent that you wish to participate. If you're very shy or introverted and would like to come and merely observe and learn, you are welcome to do that. Also, I provide candy. 

You must register and pay in advance in order to hold your spot. We accept payment via cash, check, PayPal, Venmo, Square Cash, or credit/debit card. If you're a current client of MCC, we can just bill your card on file. There are no refunds offered, but if you need to cancel at the last minute, you can use the credit anytime for another class. Its value never expires. 

We reserve the right to reschedule if enrollment is low 24-48 hours before the class is to be held, but we will do our  best to reschedule it at a time that is convenient for you as a preregistered participant. 



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Don't be a jerk...But if you are already being one, stop.

I wrote this as a comment a few years ago on someone else's page, (where the blog was shared with the comment "this woman is awful," which for the record, I can totally appreciate as one interpretation!) but figured y'all might appreciate it: 
I'm a counselor who works with a lot of couples, and I would like to offer an alternate interpretation of this blog post. I am SUPER IMPRESSED with this woman's revelation and the effort she's putting into shifting it. There are so many couples stuck in cycles like this, where they're failing to notice and appreciate the things they love about each other, and just consistently focused on all the irritations in their different ways of being. I repeat: there are SO MANY COUPLES LIKE THIS. Yes, she's behaving in a terrible way, but I could give any number of reasons why she might be acting that way. Not to excuse it, but to contextualize how people go from being decent human beings that are in love with their partner, to this. 
They are actually probably a great fit, as it's always preferable for there to be one person in a couple that is chill and laid back and not easily activated or anxious (in this case the man). She is the more high-strung one who probably makes sure the details of the house run smoothly, and there is a clear need for that person in a balanced relationship, too. The problem was that she was *so* focused on the minutiae that she stopped appreciating the fact that it was actually great that her husband didn't give a shit about that stuff. Too, my guess is he actually probably didn't care that much when she bitched about things (men generally are better at just letting people be who they are and not trying to change them) except to the extent that it's tiresome and annoying to be criticized all the time. 
In my experience, the part where he begins to avoid dealing with her is the point at which the relationship is definitely in crisis and the point at which he will be most likely to cheat on her if he's going to. Which many, many people in relationships like this do. Not because he's a terrible person, but because he's not getting any positive feedback or appreciation at home, and so if he finds that elsewhere he's likely to eat it up like a starving man. Then they have a whole new set of problems and issues. Even if no one cheats, this is the breaking point of a relationship, where it is just easier to avoid each other than do the same old thing for the millionth time that makes neither person feel good. 
So the fact that she realized she was being awful to him, and she shifted, is great. It's exactly what I would tell her to do if they came to me for couples' counseling. I would be like, "nobody wants to come home to that". And to him, I'd be like, "maybe put a little more effort into taking note of details, because it really means a lot to her when you do." I'd talk to them about love languages and appreciation and taking the time to reconnect with each other and remember why they're together in the first place. Having kids can be a huge strain on the healthiest relationships. 
But it sounds like she's been able to get there on her own, and I think that's great. Most people never manage *or bother* to see themselves clearly. She not only saw herself clearly, but called herself out on it, and offered a blueprint for others to do the same. I don't see how this is negative.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sensing v. Intuiting

IF YOU HAVE A HARD TIME COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR PARTNER, READ THIS AND THEN SEND ME MONEY FOR SAVING YOUR MARRIAGE: 
While I fundamentally believe that any two people can *make* a relationship *work*, the words "make" and "work" suggest effort, and there are definitely certain combinations that are going to require less of that than others. 
Understanding personality types is one of the most useful tools in my arsenal for working with couples, particularly when they struggle with communication. My personal theory is that the biggest predictable difficulty in a relationship stems from one person in the partnership being an S ("Sensing") type and the other being an N ("iNtuitive" type). Sensing and Intuition refer to the methods by which we prefer to gather information, which then informs how we communicate and how we understand the world (and other people). 

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Visit www.millercounseling.org, read more of my blog for other random pieces of relationship advice, or email me at amy@millercounseling.org to make an appointment IRL or over the phone. :) 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"Sister" types

Here's another reason MBTI (the test) is bullshit: the closest relative of each type is often not super similar according to the dichotomies of F/T and N/S. 
We often see the 16 types grouped into 4 "teams", either NF/NT/SJ/SP or NF/SF/NT/ST, depending on your perspective. Let's call those "families". We could also group them by "sister" types, which are paired based on what each type does the most of/does most easily. These are actually the types *most similar* to each other insofar as they do about 80-90% of the same things. This is a way to think about the "Cognitive Functions" in a simple way. 
You can ignore all of that if it's confusing. Think instead that these are the two types that are MOST SIMILAR to each other, so if you are accurately typed, you would actually be closer to this other type than other types, even if this type isn't in your "family". Noted with each pair is the nickname of the thing they do the most of. 
Those would be grouped by: 
ENFP/ENTP: Breadth (sometimes called "Exploration")
INFJ/INTJ: Depth (sometimes called "Perspectives")
ENFJ/ESFJ: Harmony
INFP/ISFP: Authenticity
ENTJ/ESTJ: Efficiency
ISTP/INTP: Accuracy
ESFP/ESTP: Sensation
ISFJ/ISTJ: Tradition (sometimes called "Memory")

If you're wondering if you're accurately typed, schedule a call with me and I can help you. Details on the post re: distance coaching. Email me at amy@millercounseling.org 

Monday, February 27, 2017

The difference between INFJ and INFP

The reason INFJ and INFP are not actually similar and so you can't be "sometimes one and sometimes the other" is because of this:

.......

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Differentiating between the NF types 101

All the iNtuitive Feeler types have a strong idealistic streak and a desire to make the world a better place. They are all, to varying degrees, empathetic, caring, curious about people, and interested in deep connection with others. They tend to be progressive and socially liberal, as they are able to understand, care for, and worry about people they don't personally know, and they are also able to hold conflicting ideas in mind at once. They enjoy meaningful conversation, understand abstract concepts and "possibilities", frequently employ the use of metaphor, and tend to approach the world from a humanist perspective. That is to say, having and understanding relationships are of paramount importance in their lives, whether intimately or generally. They tend to approach the world from the angle of we are all one "human family". 
That being said, I have a 95% success rate at determining which of the NF types a person is based on a few key words/phrases/concepts and by paying attention to what the person seems most concerned about or interested in. (Seriously- almost every new client I have gets an email from me later saying "Does this sound like you?" with a link to one of my blog posts and almost always the response back is OMG HOW DID YOU DO THAT. I've also typed many of you simply based on your statuses and how you interact on FB). Here's some shorthand: 
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SO- here's a shameless marketing plug: I do distance coaching now, and can do specific MBTI convos to help you figure out what type you are. Email me: amy@Millercounseling.org to schedule a call. :) :) :) 

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Gentle Reminder

I hate to come at people with "shoulds" but I think this one is important for us all to be reminded of on occasion: 
**Healthy relationships should be relatively easy.** 
It should not feel like a ton of work all of the time. It should not be like pulling teeth to effectively communicate. You should not have to fight to be heard. There will probably be rough patches, but the overarching nature of the relationship should be that it is your soft place to land at the end of a hard day. It should not be the hard part.




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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Advice for Online Dating

I have a lot of clients who are, with varying degrees of effort and success, attempting to find relationships via online dating resources. They're on Match, OK Cupid, PoF, Tinder, Bumble (to name a few). 

In full disclosure, I did online dating off and on for several years and found it both frustrating and fruitful, depending on my attitude at the time. I did, however, pretty consistently have what one might call "success" at it, and so from that perspective I'm happy to offer suggestions. I made a lot of friends, as well, and as such had many fascinating conversations about online dating and what people's different experiences of it were. There were some pretty consistent themes that arose, and so I feel confident that this could, if nothing else, give people new perspective. Take or leave these tips based on what feels authentic to you, because that is my #1 piece of advice. 


So without further ado: 


1) Be YOU. Make sure that your photos, bio, quotes, etc all reflect an authentic version of yourself. You don't have to disclose everything up front, of course, but if what you're interested in is connecting with another human on a meaningful level, you have to present yourself accurately from day one. Few things feel more uncomfortable in the online dating world than to discover upon meeting someone in person that they are not at all who/how they presented themselves. To me, the greatest compliment one can give or receive in these endeavors is "You are exactly the same in person." I heard this a lot from men, in a surprised and appreciative way. This leads me to believe many others people are not presenting themselves super accurately. So...be YOU, always. The right person is going to like you for exactly who you are. Also, remember that keeping up a facade is a LOT of work. Ain't nobody got time for that in 2017. 


2) To that end, put recent photos up only, unless you indicate in the caption what is different now or what year the photo was taken. Most of us do not look how we looked ten years ago, for better or worse, and so to present yourself as a younger or thinner or more fashionable version of yourself is false advertising, which we want to always avoid. 


3) Ladies, you need to know that men see it as a huge red flag if all of your photos are just of your face (especially if it's a heavily made-up face). For better or worse, they assume it means your body is ______ (something you don't want to show). Make sure you have full body photos on your page. They don't have to be sexy or in any way specifically intended to show off your body, just make sure there is a photo that shows accurately what you look like. This may seem shallow, but remember that we are all going off our first impressions, and we generally have to find the way someone looks appealing on some level in order to be attracted to them. Don't be mad that men want to know what your body looks like. Many of them have felt tricked into going out with women they normally wouldn't be interested in, so they are understandably wary if their experience suggests they might be duped again.  


4) Similarly, men, you need to know that if all your photos are selfies, that's a red flag. That suggests (to me, at least) that you don't have any friends to hang out with or to ask to take a picture of you at least. Put a group shot up if the people in it are comfortable with it (if that's all you have) or have a pal take a normal-looking photo of you that isn't in the gym or bathroom mirror. One or two of those is fine but not a whole series of them. We get it, you work out. We get it, you have abs. We get it, you use the bathroom. Whatever. We don't care as much as you think we do about your body. We care more about knowing you have friends/family who love you and spend time with you. Or that you've been interesting places or done things besides taken photos of yourself in mirrors. 


5) Write about yourself in your profile. Don't just talk about what you want or don't want in another person. Give the people reading your profile information about YOU. What do you do for fun, for sport, for entertainment? Where do you like to go? What are some interesting quirky facts about you? What are your favorite things? Think of it more as a resume' and less as a help wanted ad. Say who you are, and a person who is looking for someone with your qualities is going to express interest. 


6) On that note, please do not write your whole profile bashing all the men/women you've encountered so far. Talking about catfishing and whatnot or making threats like "You have to do ____" in order for me to even talk to you. Don't litter it with endless "don't be _____" and "don't bother messaging me if _____" and "no games" and negative/defensive garbage like that. That just makes you sound bitter and as if you've been on these sites for a million years and you're all weary about it. It also can make you sound impossible to please and little fun to be around. I would always suggest you make effort to sound like you're actually excited to meet new people. That's why you're on the sites in the first place, so be open to it actually happening instead of constantly poised to defend against imposters or expecting to be lied to or manipulated. For the record, I went out with a fairly large number of men over the years, and every single person was who they said they were. Most of them looked like their photos. It's not as common as you might think to be fake out by people in real life. 


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Monday, January 23, 2017

UPDATES ON NEW PHONE COACHING

So, I tried it, and it didn't suck. I have had four distance coaching sessions since I posted the update a couple of weeks ago, and each one went really well. It helped that they were all NF types, so communication wasn't a struggle. 

What I realized today on my call was that what I can probably best offer is merely objective problem-solving assistance. Like, if you have an issue or problem and you just want an extra set of eyes on it, you schedule a phone call with me. You tell me the problem, I give you advice, and we may or may not ever speak again, but we both feel good about it. 

I can also do ongoing coaching, but I wanted to add and encourage the option of just being that random long-distance friendly voice you call when you need some advice. I can also do a consult on personality types or relationships. 

Email me if you want to know more or schedule a call. Again, it's $75 for a 45 minute call, and you PayPal me when we schedule the call to hold the slot, and then you call me at that designated time. If you've ever done actual therapy with a bad therapist at up to $250 an hour for weeks/months/years, you know that $75 is a steal if you actually feel like it helped you!!!!!!! I hope to always leave you feeling that way. :) 

Be well, y'all. Things are good in my world. I know I haven't updated here a lot, but I'll try to get better now that the baby is a little older and less constantly-needful.