Feeling socially isolated? The only difference between illness and wellness is the words I and “we”. Just to let you know that at Counselling Relationships “we” are still connecting with clients through online counselling instead of face to face.
This term referred to in Dr Stan Tatkin’s relationship work relates to memory, perception and communication. Misunderstandings in communication, lead to escalation in arguments. However did you know that your working memory and perception are actually influenced by your mood and current state of mind including lack of sleep or financial stress etc? This stress response is lightening fast and signals the brain to be on guard. In other words our threat response is up and ready to respond to perceived threat or a bias to what is “negative”. That discussion you are having with your loved one can become a disastrous reality, really quickly! Because we all have different perspectives based on different past experiences. Interestingly Stan liken’s the effects of the Troublesome Triad with those theme park fun house mirrors (you know those ones where your refection becomes all weird and contorted) where we can not see each other or ourselves clearly. No matter what misunderstandings or distortions regarding what “IS” reality you are experiencing between you, I want you to know we are all vulnerable to this.
Nothing takes away the raw need for what I refer to as In 2 Me C. Science now confirms that this “IS” a primal need. This primal need to be seen, known, heard and felt by our close others is where we meet in love and we really need exceptional communication skills to achieve this. Understanding how your brain works in communication can really help you navigate your way through complex Theme Park distorted mirrors especially the Troublesome Triad
Here are two exercises I share with couples.
Love - this exercise requires you to say out loud to your partner three times a day something about your partner you love or feel grateful for, even if you have to draw on your memory banks, just do it. This practice opens the neural pathways in your brain to receive and give more love and counteracts the negativity bias we can so easily slip into when our relationship is challenging us.
Safe Space - this exercise is about creating a safe space between you both. A safe space in relationship has to do with feeling physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritual safe, however it's more than that, it has to do with feeling like you can come home to yourself with your partner. I understand you may not feel this at times. Therefore it may be useful to ask yourself and your partner, What is a safe space for you???
Happy New Year- To start your relationships off in a positive direction in the new year, here are 3 seemingly simple questions that you may want to ask yourself:
How well do I love?
How well do I communicate?
How well do I make repair attempts after an argument?
The reason I ask these questions is because most people discuss these topics when they come to relationship counselling. This is where we often get stuck, feel blocked, misunderstood or hurt. The tricky thing is that the answers will be somewhat similar yet unique for each individual. It may be useful to share your answers with a loved one and to perhaps hear their answers too. You may learn something new about yourself or the other person you are relating to. I have found that it is important to take the time to sit down with your loved ones and talk about the things that are really close to your heart and that matter to you. Remember timing is important so pick a time where you both have the space to relate to each other.
Better communication skills is a request I get everyday. Firstly, put some time aside to talk about what is really important to you. We need to see each other as well a hear each other and this cannot be done by text. Discuss how you feel and what you need without blaming the other and really listen too. If you are feeling really uptight, take a break, it takes about 20 mins to calm down then come back to the conversation. After conflict discuss what you can do to create better outcomes for each other next time.
We can get defensive in our personal relationships as well as critical and shut down. When this becomes a repeated negative cycle of interaction within marriages or couple relationships our brain goes into "survival mode" and is programmed to be on the look out for "more trouble". Which basically means we become stressed, anxious or avoidant towards the people we used to turn to for love and support. This survival mode will trump positive feelings if not understood and worked through . So when you feel shut down or wanting to run away from the relationship or anxious and desperate to get your partners attention you are probably in a nervous system survival response. This can be difficult to understand or get out of when both of you are operating from survival overdrive. Counselling is all about enabling you to have the insight and skills to understand and de-escalate these negative cycles of interaction. You are then able to feel an increase in connection.
Consider for a moment that we are relational beings and now consider that on average most people will have about 9% quality time with their loved ones in a day. Interactions with our loved ones can feel unsatisfactory as we are often distracted, multitasking or just not attuned to our partners needs perhaps not even our own. Personal differences are normal and we are going to get into disagreements and feel misunderstood yet what is imperative is how we repair. In repair we learn how to attune to and understand each others needs and feelings and as a result feel even more attuned, connected and responsive to each other. Repair is part of the skillset we learn in counselling.
It's been nearly four years since I last blogged so I thought I would begin with the exciting news that I am now working full time from my own office in Southport. I currently have a special opening deal which includes three sessions for the price of two. I have found that most people gain significant results after three sessions. I am looking forward to recommencing my occasional blogs. Please feel free to give me a call so we can chat and see what I can offer you.
As a Mental Health Social Worker I now also offer Medicare Rebates for GP referred clients
To love and be loved is the true joy of every human heart. There is no higher happiness than this. Alas, in any human drama there are also wounds and disappointments, mistakes and betrayals, pain, heartache and broken dreams. Even so, love comes to our rescue. Love offers us a solution which is a process called forgiveness. Forgiveness is an angel that comes to us when we sleep and wakes us up from the hypnosis. It is the ground of love that supports you when you are falling, breaking apart and coming undone. Forgiveness undoes the blocks to love's awareness. It shows you that the universe of love doesn't ever stop even when all you can see is pain. Love always loves you, even when you can't or won't love yourself. [Robert Holden, Loveability]
Relationships like most living things will not survive without nourishment, care and commitment. Another word to explain this kind of reciprocal relationship is attachment.
Attachments lie at the heart of intimate relationships therefore unhealthy attachment patterns can inflame insecurity and dysfunction. Learnt attachment from previous relationships will trigger certain scripts of what to expect from intimacy and attachment. Negative relationship scripts can be based on boundaries that are too rigid or too blurred. Couples under stress destabilise their connection by becoming either the “emotional pursuer” of intimacy or overly withdrawn as the “emotional avoider”. Communication is likely to become anxiety ridden or shut down entirely.
To begin rebuilding healthy attachment I recommend five stages of communication (Devito, 2004):
1. Receiving: hearing the other, avoid interrupting
2. Understanding: learning the meaning of what the other has said, paraphrase
3. Remembering: recalling and retaining
4. Evaluating: awareness of personal judgments and criticism
5. Responding: answering and giving feedback
Communication and self-disclosure in therapy can provide a safe base to allow a person to feel heard, to realise someone is concerned about them and has them in mind. This is crucial for effective counseling therapy with individuals and couples…www.counsellingrelationships.com.au
I write occasional blog posts to inspire others to stay connected to their authentic selves and the capacity for love and healing within personal relationships.