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Dear, just listen to me! Darling, just stop fighting with me!

Posted by on 3:38 am in Compassionate Couples | 4 comments

Dear, just listen to me! Darling, just stop fighting with me!

We long for connection We are born to be with people who lovingly bond with us. We know that the health of newborn and young children depends on how attentive care providers respond to fearful screams as well as joyful coos. We have learned that people in emotionally safe and responsive relationships fair better physically and emotionally. Recently, we learned in the experiment, Soothing the Threatened Brain, that closeness of a partner, one who is securely connected in relationship, decreases the negative experience of pain. All of this supports what we already know instinctively. We find shelter and comfort in loving, dependable, supportive relationships. While we know how important relationship is, there are still many couples that find themselves so unhappy that it would be easier to leave than to stay in misery. How do we get from head-over-heal in love, to an unbearable cycle of ugly fights and long silences? In my personal life and my counseling practice, I have found that it is not the conflict that rips apart relationships. Conflict can be endured, even beneficial in resilient partnerships that nurture safety during vulnerable conversations. It is when the fear of loss of connection distresses the relationship that conflict can turn into rigid cycles of demanding to gain connection and withdrawing to gain safety. Yet we get stuck in the conflict dance In the demand-withdraw cycle, which Dr. Sue Johnson calls the Protest Polka, one partner demands, trying to pursue closeness while the other partner withdraws, trying to avoid a fight. Partner one seeks responsive connections longing to experience validation. Partner two seeks safe connections longing to experience success. Both are in hopes of finding a connected, intimate bond with his/her partner, and both probably blaming each other for their disconnection. Imagine the unsettling music of this punishing polka shouting back and forth: “Dear, just listen to me!” “Darling, just stop fighting.” “Dear, I wouldn’t fight if you would talk to me!” “Darling, we never talk, we just fight!” “You are never there for me!” “You are too demanding!” In this dance, racing furiously across the floor, partner one is really asking, “Do you love me?” and partner two is really asking, “Am I good enough for you?” So how do we get unstuck? The demand-withdraw cycle may lead to such disillusionment that neither partner knows how to stop the rigid cycle of conflict, or may no longer desire to reconnect. You can disengage from cycles of conflict, create safe conversations and nurture ways of being with your partner that builds the bond of connection you long for. Some suggested steps to stop the demand-withdraw cycle are: 1) Breath. Slow down and notice when you are triggered. Consider the cause of the trigger without blaming or judgment. Simply notice what happened from your perspective. What did you do/say? What did your partner do/say? This step allows you to notice your part of the cycle versus jumping into it. 2) Notice your emotional and physical sensations. Quietly name the emotion you are experiencing and where you feel that emotion in your body. What might you need at this time perhaps from yourself or from your partner? This step allows you to slow your reactions and create choice. 3) If you can, after giving yourself empathy, consider what your partner might be experiencing from his/her perspective. What do you think he/she saw? Did he/she...

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Mindfully Addressing Anxiety

Posted by on 7:20 pm in Therapy and Counseling | 0 comments

Mindfully Addressing Anxiety

It takes mindful consideration to realize the purposes of anxiety and find helpful ways to address it. Anxiety is our mind and body’s way of letting us know to pay attention. Worry allows us to come up with potential problems and possible solutions. While anxiety can cause us to become stuck in fearfulness, mindfully paying attention to our anxiety can help us address the underlying needs and emotions in ways that create curiosity and choice.

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Being Genuine, Your Essential Self

Posted by on 9:00 am in Therapy and Counseling | 0 comments

Being Genuine, Your Essential Self

There is an essential being, a genuineness, that is you. You are caring, driven to connect in relationships that are meaningful to you. You are talented, driven to gain successes that are meaningful to you. You are compassionate, driven to contribute in ways that are meaningful to you. You are driven to survive and live with purpose and in health.

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