Money, recognition and what comes along with them are nice, (Hello Prada) but they won’t help you live longer and be happier. It’s having meaningful and safe relationships that cause longer lives and happiness. “…social connections are good for us and loneliness kills” Says Robert Waldinger a Harvard psychiatrist who directs a groundbreaking 75 year study on adult human development and happiness. It’s not whether you are married or how many friends you have but the QUALITY of those relationships that matters he continues to say. They found people that were the most satisfied in their relationships in their 50s were the healthiest in their 80s.
Why is blame so seductive and trapping? Brene Brown explains why.
Is finding fault part of your fights? If so what discomfort and pain might you be avoiding?
But it’s still good. There are several gems of good relationship indicators in this video.
I particularly love the line, “I look at him and see myself”. And also how they describe the love that behind all their communications. Imagine if palpable love was the backdrop to your difficult conversations.
Sometimes you share with her and it helps and sometimes it…well makes it worse. This can often come down to empathy versus sympathy. Empathy is a word that comes up a lot in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy. But the actual meaning of empathy can be vague. Here it is explained in cartoon form and narrated by Brene Brown.
I’m a fan of sweet talk, maybe because the south runs through half my family. I don’t mean sweet fake though, but sweet genuine. What if we did more acts of kindness like Shea Glover did in her video?
Sweet complements are generous and can really switch your brain’s state. Doing hard work in your relationship? Find one thing you can really appreciate about your partner and let them know. Or if that’s too much just hold it in your heart and think it when you are around her. Are you and overachiever? Then spend 5 minutes appreciating your partner out loud.
Ok, at least start with two… Don’t meditate, meditate on your relationship, and start feeling better right away says Thich Nhat Hanh in a conversation with Oprah. Side note: Do those two names really belong in the same sentence?!
Think of one of your most challenging relationships, you know THAT one. For a week try saying two of these mantras when you think of him/her.
Darling I’m here for you.
Darling I know you’re there.
Darling I know you suffer that’s why I’m here for you.
Darling I suffer, I’m doing my best to practice, please help me.
One of the most common things clients will say to me after an emotional session is: “This must be so hard for you, how do you do this all day?” As everyone does, I do of course have bad days and confusing moments; but what I do is more often than not very engaging and doesn’t feel like work at all. The difficulties aren’t the intense sessions or even the ones with lots of conflict. It’s when I see a couple parting ways when from my point of view the situation is very workout-able AND I see change right around the corner if only they could stick with it for awhile longer. Sometimes it is right for a couple to separate, but that’s a different conversation for another time.
Want to know how Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy works? Not up to reading a book on it? Do you like learning via you tube videos? Well this one if for you!
Change takes repetition. A recent study conducted by Phillippa Lally, health psychology researcher at University College London and published in the European Journal of Social Psychology has found that on AVERAGE a new behavior takes about 66 repetitions before it becomes automatic. That means IN REALITY it can take anywhere between 18-254 repetitions before you can form a better habit. Patience works; and like Lally’s research shows it doesn’t matter if you back track, just that you keep trying something besides the hamster wheel. You know that new way of talking you’ve just learned about? I’d like each of you to feel it’s a success at least 66 times.
Ever notice your fights have patterns? Here’s an example of one: “He just clams up when we talk about hard stuff. It drives me crazy! I get so mad and end up slamming the door to the bedroom and stewing until he apologizes.” Most couples fall into some kind of pattern no matter what they happen to be fighting about (from toothpaste to an affair). Each of you likely has an underlying fear when conflict arises. That fear triggers the brain’s emergency response leading to a fight, flight, freeze or fright behavior. Think of a recent fight with your partner; how do you handle the conflict?
Fight? Attack with anger and aggression in order to subdue. “I was just trying to get my point across!”
Freeze? Get alert, stop look listen to what’s around you. “I just shut off.”
Flight? You move away from threat. “I need my space!”
Fright? Surrender and placate to open up escape for later. “Yes, honey.”
Now, go back and do the same exercise and speculate on what your partner does. Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy helps create more safety to help process these emotions and behaviors. And, with or without therapy, awareness is key.