This Blog Is About

This blog is about---You! Each and every post is about you. Use it to challenge your usual patterns, as a tool for self-discovery, to stimulate your thinking, to learn about yourself and to answer your questions about others.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Rings Your Bell

Hitting the mark or falling short, in attempts to love and be loved

You send her flowers and she says thanks but that's the end of it.  You sneak into his apartment while he's away and clean it 'till it's immaculate and he barely notices.  
Why are you doing these things?  You are trying to make your loved one feel loved.  But, somehow it didn't work.
 How about you?  You hear lots of declarations of love and that's nice 'n' all but it doesn't make you glow inside. 

Here's a true short story of success in this kind of effort.  The grandmother of my daughter's friend worked in a department store with a big parking lot.  While she was at work, her boyfriend came and put all new tires on her car, unbeknownst to her.  I don't know what happened when she came out from work and found that surprise but, I do know that everyone heard about it more than once!  It became a story we all remembered.
Another one:  An employee had a nice looking handbag.  I asked if she had bought it at a discount store we all frequent.  She said, proudly, as she lifted it up for display:  "Oh no, this is a Louis Vuitton.  My fiance got this for me!"  The pleasure and pride in her voice were a dead giveaway.  This guy had hit the mark!
So why do you sometimes feel so delighted and loved by others' efforts to make you happy and other times the effort just seems nice but falls short of a home run?  We each have our own language of love (there is a book by this title, Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, which discusses these ideas in detail).  
You may just jump for joy and have a big smile on your face when you receive a gift.  And, yet, when you thoughtfully try to please your mate with a surprise gift, it gets a bland, "Oh, thanks honey, nice of you." 
~For each of us, there is the one thing that really rings our bell.  If you pay attention to your own reactions, you know what that is.~

 Some, like the lady with the new tires really feel cared for when their partner does something for them, a favor, a helpful chore,  works to solve a problem they have or even, just thoughtfully brings them a cup of tea.  Some, like the woman who was so on-goingly happy with her designer purse, just have a big response to gifts.  

A gift doesn't have to be an object, by the way, it can be tickets to the game, or treating your significant other to a night on the town.  Some people find gifts to be a loving act and some see them as a perfunctory ritual.  
There are people who react very positively to hearing the words, "I love you." or "You mean a lot to me." or "You being there with me meant the world."  I have had 2 clients who were actually in a not so good relationship all because the partner called them sweet names ("Honey",  "Babe", "Gorgeous")  And, again, others will nod politely but not necessarily feel loved by verbal statements. 

Maybe, instead, they really feel cared for when they receive affection. 
So, here you have four very common actions meant to convey love:  Gifts, helpful efforts or doing for the other, affection, expressing love verbally, and what else?  Can you add some other typical acts intended to express love?  
~The important point here is not only to figure out what works for you but also to pay attention!  Notice what makes your partner glow.  Try one of these or, another  that I haven't listed here, or each of them, and notice when your partner lights up, as a result.~
 As you learn about the language of love-your own, your partner's and, even, others who are in your life, you will be happier and your relationships will benefit.

Did you experiment?  Please share what happened. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Request

My requests for feedback are a wish to include you in the formation of the blog

Some bloggers are just sounding off or, dumping or, writing a diary to a public audience.  That's not this blogger.  I am creating something here that I want to be a resource for anyone who cares to make use of it.  It is a better resource for you, the more feedback you give me.  
There is a new poll:  It's located to the right.  
The results may affect the configuration of the landing page-to make it more convenient for how you are actually using it.  It will also tell me how I can most effectively provide you with access to the many wonderful posts and interesting comments that are waiting to be enjoyed.
Please answer the poll.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Friends and Lovers

Joy in relationships

"One of the deepest pleasures is being truly seen, and loved anyway. 
And being seen in a false way---what could be lonelier?"
Author unknown

We all have  a  persona, (a Jungian term for how we present ourselves to the world).  We need this.  We can't go around exposed all the time to anyone and everyone. 
But with some people, those who are in your inner circle, , it is worth revealing your real self.  Why?  Because this opens the door to emotional intimacy.  This is an experience in life that is both exciting and peaceful at the same time.  It contains the feeling of true acceptance by the other as well as deep empathy on your own part.  
Actions such as those below, offered to a loved one, can put us on this path:  
  • authenticity
  • transparency
  • sincerity
  • openness
  • respect
  • warmth
  • prizing
  • concern 
  • liking
  • understanding  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Both intensity and great comfort can be found in an emotionally intimate relationship.  The moment of emotional intimacy can be just that, a moment, or it can be a long exchange or, it can happen even in a time of no words, a time of only being in each other's presence.  It can be fun, funny or profoundly serious.                 
If you want to grow in this way, that is, in how close you are in your primary relationship or how deep your friendships are, you can begin considering taking off your mask with certain people.  Take note---we must be selective about whom we share with in this way.  Try to choose the people you open up to, carefully.  You want to share your inner self with others who will honor that, who will see it as a privilege, and who will also be honest with you. 

Have you felt either of these---popular for a false self or, conversely, loved for your true inner self?   I invite you to share your experience in the comment section.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What It Takes

Primary requirement for a solid relationship

For a couple to feel satisfied and secure, for a marriage to be firm and enduring, there is, in my opinion, an essential requirement.  That condition is that both people are fully there.  Neither are reluctantly there.  Neither are only partly in it.  There is no sense of, "I'm here unless something better comes along"; there's no scanning the horizon for the greener grass on the other side of the fence, no roving eyes.  
Evaluation time is over; there's no longer any score keeping nor tallying of who has the better deal.

This position is deeper than commitment.  Somehow that word sometimes implies a discipline.  At this level, the decision has been made and is no longer pending.  It is experienced as a profound knowing of the one about the other and about oneself.
It can become a state that is beyond confidence and that imparts a sense of safety.  Doubts are rare.
If questions surface, they can be checked with the other, openly and honestly, simply and immediately and answered in the same manner.
This is a part of the foundation for a true partnership.  It usually takes time and experience to reach this state.  It is one of the blessings of consistent effort on individual, personal growth and  thoughtful, conscious attention, to the relationship
All in.

Are you in an all in relationship?  Will you write a little here about how that is?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Your Request

 Response to Poll

There was a request from one of our readers re. the poll, expressing an interest in posts on several topics.  One was for posts about the patient-therapist relationship.  While I am holding that in mind for future writing, I just want to mention that many of the posts here do say a little about this; here are 2 examples.

 A Healing Relationship

  The Imperfect Therapist

For now, I will offer this:  My patients mean a lot to me.  I learn so much about their personal lives and their own interior experience in the course of therapy.  As I mentioned in one post, paying the level of attention that I do to a patient leads to involvement which leads to caring.  At the same time, I must maintain certain constraints.  A professional demeanor is expected and deserved by a client who comes for therapy.  The frame of the therapy provides a sense of safety and a certain predictability which allows the therapy patient to freely express themselves.  Do I think about them outside of the therapy sessions?  Of course!  Do I worry sometimes?  Yes.  Does their new learning, their insights, their making some movement toward resolution, their accessing a deeper understanding of their concerns  matter to me?  It does.  Am I happy when a client of mine reports an achievement?  I am.  If a client has to move away in the middle of treatment, do I miss them?  Yes, I do. 
 When they complete a satisfying therapy for themselves and conclude their treatment, however, I may feel a moment of sadness but mostly I am gratified; I am prepared for this and am working the whole time to help them feel more actualized in their own life and to take, eventually, a happy leave from me.  So I don't mourn a client leaving under this circumstance, I see it as a success.

I am one therapist.  This is how I feel.  Each therapist is different as discussed in the posts about selecting your therapist.  Some may feel as I do or, similarly.  Some may take a different view.  I know that some therapists read this blog---maybe they will comment on this part of being a therapist.

What else would you like to know when you wonder about the client therapy relationship?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our Growing Membership

Each new member enhances the blog
Welcome Jack, to my blog and to what I have begun to call our blog family.  I guess I assume that new members have decided to join because they have been reading the blog and found it interesting or helpful.  So, I hope that you will continue to enjoy it!

My sense lately is that there has developed a spirited interest in the blog.  I feel that and it inspires me to write more, to make it better, and to grow the blog!  I feel as if I am caught up in the flow.   Some of you who have been reading for awhile will know what I mean.
As more participation takes place, the blog is becoming more of a joint project-something we are creating together.  The enthusiasm I sense coming in from visitors tells me that this blog is needed in the world.
If we all keep doing what we are doing, this resource will become better and better and of more and more benefit to the users, as well as more widely used.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Defensiveness, Part II

High level defenses

             As mentioned in the 1st post on this subject ( the so-called "defenses" can be highly adaptive.  They represent optimal coping with stressors.  So, while like the other lower defenses, they do protect one from anxiety, they are more a way for a therapist to consider the coping style of a particular patient than they are a problem.  
Some of you reading this may find it enlightening in looking at your own patterns and bringing them into more conscious awareness.  It could, potentially, also be a way to grow, i.e., you could try to emphasize these, if they are already in use or develop them if they are not.
Some, such as anticipation and altruism are commonly known and recommended.  Think of how often you have heard someone say, "I can get through this (difficult thing) if I have something to look forward to."?  And, often that person will set up a reward for themselves at the end of whatever trial they have to endure.  Altruism is also frequently recommended, usually by volunteer workers.  It isn't unusual to hear someone engaged in this activity to say, "It helps me more than it helps them." or "I get more out of this than the people I am helping."  There are many avenues to altruism so knowing that such an effort can enhance your functioning makes it something to seek.
One that women are often known for, affiliation and another that men are usually credited with implementing more easily, self-assertion are, nonetheless, available to both genders, used by both men and women, and are highly adaptive defense mechanisms.
You may be surprised to know that humor is counted by the American Psychiatric Association as a defense.  Not always, of course.  But, here's an example from my own recent experience that will make it clear.  A friend had a symptom that led his doctor to order a stress test.  He did very well on the test and when the cardiologist was reading the results, she said:  "You did very well for an obese male."  He told me this as a joke.  It was immediately obvious to me that this would not feel very good when it was happening.  I could have said that-I could have cut through his defenses and sympathized with the possibility that this was hurtful.  I decided not to challenge his coping choice and joked back:  "Did he say, old obese male?" (not an elderly person but, at the older end of middle age).  We both laughed a little and he got to report the incident and remain intact.  
Another place where humor can be used beautifully is with couples.  Partners who can joke with each other about their own foibles and their less than optimal patterns with each other, benefit!  It's one sign of a healthy couple.

Self-observation, counted as a defense, can be used to mediate and bring thoughtful awareness to emotional conflicts. A post devoted to this topic is, Seeing Your Self.
The final 2 of the APA's list of the highest defense levels are sublimation and suppression.  Suppression is when we purposefully say, "I am not going to think about that."  It means excluding a thought or feeling, by various measures such as distracting oneself. 
Sublimation is the diverting of an impulse or emotion into a more productive or socially acceptable avenue than would be if it were expressed in it's original form.  The most common example is when a person declares that they are going to " their anger."  So, instead of beating up the drunk driver who messed up your car, you volunteer for MADD or make a donation to this or any institution working to curb drunk driving.
These defenses are understood to promote balance, gratification and awareness.  They can be evaluative functions and  can ease conflicts. 

Did you find something of interest here?