Communication (part 7)

Another blog about communication?    We are communicating about communication for the 7th time.  This must be an important topic or I am an incredibly redundant communicator.

To read the first 6 entries, click on the links below:

crimes between us

listening to you

communication part 2

what’s old can be used in the present

prepositions

communication strategies

Communication can occur in many ways:

    • People can talk about the day; “how was your day?”
    • They can address feelings as part of that day; “I was really angry at my boss today…”
    • They can share more personally;  “The reason I was angry at my boss is he had that smug look on his face like my dad did”.
    • They can share their deepest darkest feelings “that look, that smugness, I wanted to slap it off of him, like how my dad slapped me, how he beat me, how he embarrassed me in front of my friends, all with that look”

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#008000″ class=”” size=””]in order to have intimacy you have to be vulnerable[/pullquote]

To go from superficial to intimate requires a loving, trusting relationship.  It requires that the listener listen and be able to hear what’s being said.  The listener needs to be nonjudgmental and be unconditional. The speaker has to know that what they are saying is safe.  They have to know that it will be heard and not used against them in a future fight.  If he or she is able to take the risk they will have  the intimacy and closeness that is necessary in a good healthy, stable relationship.

This is really risky and it is WAY easier to have superficial, a little off the top relationships.  It is even easier to tell people what they want to hear, and take no risks at all.  In  this video from  Grammy Award winner Tracy Bonham, she tells the mother what she wants to hear:

 

In this conversation between mother and daughter, the daughter gives all of the right answers.  She tells her mom, how great she is doing, how “everything’s fine” . She is able to be authentic and personal with the audience as she tells us all of he pain.  It is only at the end of the song when she says “I miss you  I love you” is she communicating in a genuine way.

We ultimately get to chose the quality of our relationships.  Do we want the mother -daughter relationship in “Mother Mother”  or do we want something else?  If we want something else, then it requires healthy risk taking.  It requires having the communication skills to handle the storms that may occur–the misperceptions, the arguments, the conflicts.  It requires speaking in ways that our partners can hear.  It requires  the hardest skill of all, listening.

If we listen and we trust, our relationships can grow. They can grow deeper, and become more meaningful. Meaningful interpersonal relationships are what we need to be good people, to have a good quality of life, and have inner peace. It starts with the risk.

Change is possible.

 

 

 

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Types of Sexual Abuse

Types of Sexual Abuse

From Visually.

There are some interesting things to note here:

1)It states that people are 26 times more likely to drink and drug and 13 times more likely to become alcohol dependent–If you look at the data on sexual addiction Carnes 1998  cites 81% of sex addicts in treatment were sexually abused.

2) 1 in 7 women report abuse/28% or men were abused–interestingly these numbers are probably UNDER-REPORTED.

3) note the list of symptoms listed for abuse–these are very common presenting issues that people start therapy with.  In addition note that  anxiety/depression diagnoses are 3 times more likely

if you or some one you know fit the descriptions listed on this info graphic, PLEASE GET HELP

although it will be painful and scary, you can improve your life……

change is possible

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Old and New

When we do our spring cleaning, we find things that we forgot that we had. My cleaning was in cyberspace. I found some old blogs that are not on the changeispossible site. These “moldy oldies” were sitting at my first blog site on psych central. They are a little beat up with funky editing strikes in them, but content wise they provide us with some useful thoughts.

There are 3 old blogs to check out:

1) The 2 questions—knowing which questions to ask yourself is a great decision making tool.

The 2 questions

2) Inconvenient not tragic—a seemingly simple phrase that helps us to put our feelings in perspective. We can see the difference between waiting on a long checkout line vs. someone who unexpectantly lost a loved one.

inconvenient-not-tragic

3) I was thinking about you—very useful behavior for couples who want to improve their relationship.

I-was-thinking-of-you

In addition to these old blogs, there will be a few new blogs to expect in the coming months:

These include:

1) The traffic light—think a twilight zone in NJ story with a good self caring message.

2) Another tricky day– a Pete Townsend song that translates to how to handle our trickiest days.

3) A double feature of “Bobby Jean” and “Holding Onto Yesterday”. This music inspired grieving blog helps us to validate our own grief and move on to living in the present.

Finding old nuggets and creating new ones. A new definition of change perhaps.

Change Is Possible!

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Ends of Songs

t’s a random day of commuting. Sirius XM is playing on my radio. Like most other people I have to find the best song to listen to. I switch from one channel to the other—I think “hey that’s a great song, oh it’s over”. I get to another channel I think “wow I haven’t heard that song in a long while, oh it’s over”. I change stations again and again (good thing I have over 200 to choose from!!) and I keep hearing the ends of the songs I start thinking about what a weird commute this is—I’ve heard only the ends of many songs. I have heard no beginnings, no entire songs, only the ends. I start thinking about the significance of this—in our lives we want to hear whole songs– we want the entire relationship, we want the whole job story, we want to experience all lifecycle events. We don’t want the beginnings, and we certainly don’t want the ends.

Our storytelling metaphors are “once upon a time” followed by some middle event, followed by some struggle, followed by “and they lived happily ever after”. We close our books, we walk out of our movie theaters and have the “feel good” moments that we are supposed to have. When someone asks about the book, or the movie, we smile and say it was good. However, great filmmakers knew how to disrupt that pattern. When Psycho arrived in movie theaters, Alfred Hitchcock told viewers “no one will be admitted to the film after it starts”. This message told the audience you must pay attention to the beginning, the middle, and the end. The end of Psycho doesn’t leave us feeling good. It makes us feel disturbed. It makes us feel anxious. We may feel robbed of our traditional happy ending.

The end of life for most people is not a happy ending either. We know this movie–it is the most predictable story. If we ignore, deny, and don’t deal with our loved ones endings, we have all the confusion, anxiety, guilt and regret. We are the ones who are unsatisfied, we are the ones who feel bad. Like all other painful situations, we can go through the feelings or we can go around the feelings. I have worked with many people who mastered the art of going around the feelings. Through addictive behaviors or other non-helpful strategies, they didn’t deal with the pain. They numbed the pain. When the pain came back, they numbed it again and again and again. Their pain was gone, as long as they numbed it. When the time came to deal with the past pain, they had not only had the original pain but had the additional pain from their avoidance. Joe Louis, the famous heavyweight boxing champion of the 1930’s and 1940’s said “You can run but you can’t hide”. This is very true of pain, but it is more true of loss.

Endings provide us with many opportunities for change and growth. They teach us to overcome. They test our inner strength. They force us to look not only at the end, but the beginnings and the middles. If we only look at the end, we have pain, and loss, and sadness. We need to examine the entire relationship, the good the bad and the ugly. When we are able to do this examination, we get acceptance and we get closure. In the song by The Doors “When the Music’s Over” Jim Morrison writes “when the music’s over, turn out the light”. We may turn out the light, but we also get the whole song to sing again and again.

Change is possible.

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Center of Attention–The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson

Center of Attention: The Unreal Life of Derek Sanderson follows Sanderson as he wins two Stanley Cups alongside his friend and teammate Bobby Orr, becomes a nightclub owner and coast-to-coast celebrity, widely known as “The Joe Namath of Hockey,” and signs what was then the richest contract in the history of pro sports, only to lose it all in a haze of booze and drugs.

Sanderson’s addictions almost killed him – but that wasn’t the end of his story. He would emerge from the darkness to undertake a comeback few believed possible.

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The truth shall set you free

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

Billy Joel

Honesty. A vital construct that improves the quality of people’s lives. Seemingly it should be easy for people to acknowledge their wrongdoings and say ” I messed up” However this seems to be harder than I think since famous people (Brian Williams, Lance Armstrong, #13) have the hardest time doing so. (This lying issue has been covered in an earlier blog–go to lies lies and more lies to read more)

Honesty in interpersonal relationships is critical to intimacy, growth and change. It seems to me that many people tell half-truths, white lies, and justify their dishonest behavior. As you would expect, the lies grow, the relationship gets further apart, until the big BOOM occurs. The truth that sets you free causes a boat load of pain to the other person.

Take infidelity. I have never worked with a person who wanted to be unfaithful to their partner. Distance and misery breeds close connections with another. Lack of communication and dishonesty breeds incentive to cheat. At the end, you have an unfaithful partner leading a double life of lies and deceit and an unknowing partner whose life will change dramatically when this affair is discovered. A simple remedy is in order– telling the truth. Saying “I messed up” or those seven difficult letters “I’m sorry” is far simpler than delivering a trauma laden truth bomb destined to crush everyone within a family!

Why don’t we do this? Why is it so hard to say “I messed up” or I’m sorry”. Are our self-centered ego’s so out of whack that we cannot deliver honest bad news and “feel bad” moments? Are we really protecting a softer fragile ego which would make us look bad? Are we so afraid of the shame and guilt that will occur?

Addicted people are aware that in order to have a meaningful recovery, people have to make amends. They have to say “I’m sorry”. They have to say “I messed up” They have to make the relationship better. They need to work on forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of those words that we all think we know about, but we really don’t. In the most recent tragedy in Charleston, Arthur Hurd, the husband of his murdered wife said to the murderer, Dylann Roof ”I forgive you” . He added “I would love to hate you but hate’s not in me. If I hate you I’m no better than you.” In this moment. Mr. Hurd freed himself. Forgiveness is the elixir to pain. It does set you free.

In order to forgive, we have to be ready to do so. We have to be able to let go of bitterness and pain and hurt. It doesn’t excuse the injury; it makes us better because we’ve freed up the resentment and pain. In relationships this works best as a dual process. The offending spouse apologizes, the hurt spouse forgives. They then work on healing together. Forgiveness is very powerful. I can heal my hurts without another. I have to make the decision to forgive. Once I make the decision, I get my power back. I am no longer the victim; I am the victor. Forgiveness is the truth that sets ME free!

Change is possible.

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Strength Benchmarking

We may get knocked down on the outside, but the key to living in victory is to learn how to get up on the inside.”
― Joel Osteen

I had a trainer who periodically decided that the best external indicator of the improvement in my strength was the one rep bench press. This measures the maximum amount of weight that I could lift at one time. For example, if in October I could lift 100 pounds, and in April I could lift 125 pounds, it was clear to him that I was getting stronger. He could take out his excel spreadsheet, look at these two measurements, do some statistical analysis and draw the conclusion that I was indeed stronger.

We use the same statistical measurement in many other areas of life. We can look at the performance of a stock or at the speed of a computer. We can make a determination that the gold standard or benchmark should be this rate of return (stock) or speed (computer). We can then measure other stocks or computers against this benchmark.

Emotions can also have their own benchmarks if we measure them correctly. Our lives are full of tough events that push us into making hard decisions. Our automatic thought is “I can’t handle this, there’s no way I’m going to be able to do this” Some people unfortunately stay in that place and avoid issues–relationship conflicts, financial issues, their own poor self-care etc. The avoidance of the issues only makes them worse and reinforces the “I can’t handle it” approach. This pattern can go on and on and on and on until some crisis occurs. This crisis may mobilize the person’s internal resources in order to deal with the issue. If the crisis is resolved, the person realizes that they can handle stress and crisis and pain. They have just created a benchmark that they can measure other painful events against.

Strength benchmarking can also be used as a challenge to those automatic thoughts. We can ask ourselves “What is the toughest thing that I’ve ever had to deal with?” We can then recollect that situation and the skills and tools that were used to tackle that situation. We then can measure the current situation against the strength benchmark and see how it measures up. Most times, the benchmark will be much greater, giving us confidence that we can handle the new situation. “If I handled losing my job, then paying this bill is much easier”.

Life, however doesn’t always work in positive statistical measures. We may get hit with harder things —a major illness, a significant loss, or infidelity. These issues can be monumental and overwhelming. Strength benchmarking can be helpful in giving us the confidence and tools to handle these difficult issues. “I handled my job loss through exercise, prayer, meditation, and good eating. If I approach this other loss the same way, I know I’ll be working in the right direction”. Positive self-talk, through examination of our past struggles, can give us the confidence that we need to overcome the tough things that life can throw at us.

I no longer have my one rep trainer. His training methods, although statistically significant, produced many trips to physical therapy. I learned in physical therapy about the need to have a balanced core in order to prevent injuries. A balanced core makes you stronger in physical and emotional ways. When you are stronger physically and emotionally, you can handle whatever issues life throws at you. When we are aware our own benchmarks for inner strength, we can handle the weightiest of issues.

Change is possible.

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The Storm and the Sun

The sky is clearing and the night has gone out.
The sun, he come, the world is all full of light.
Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice but to carry on.

Stephen Stills

Recently, I was watching many weather forecasts for a celebratory event that I was attending. There were many conflicting reports, most involving rain. I heard the meteorologist on one channel say ” the nicer the day, the stronger the storms we will have.” I thought “wow that’s an interesting metaphor for life.” We want to have a life filled with beautiful blue skies, sunshine and a slight breeze. However, we will also have times with stormy skies, and days that are dark, rainy, cloudy and cold. It is how we “weather” the storms that lead to how much sunshine we will have.

Many people who come to see me are in the midst of their personal storms. They are unhappy in some way and using whatever coping strategies they possess. Not all of these are the healthiest. Some people may use some “quick fix band aids”– addictions of some kind to numb or escape. In an effort to stuff the pain, the person may become anxious or depressed. These predictably unpredictable storms are counterproductive but ironically get the person to make a therapy appointment. Unfortunately, the weather may get worse as we start to explore the issues and identify the mechanisms of how the storm got created. It’s always hard to know if the problems are recent or long standing. The more recent issues clear up sooner, but the older the issue, the harder it will be for blue skies to appear. (I have written about weather and therapy before. For a more dramatic description go to:http://jeffbrandler.psychcentral.net/2008/02/08/you-cannot-have-a-rainbow-without-a-storm/)

As a therapist who has a website change is possible, you would hope that I’m looking for sunny days. Seeing positive change, and quality of life improvements are the “spring” of my work. I am well aware that positive changes have set- backs. Relapses are often signs that more changes need to be made. When the negative behaviors occur, it is an opportunity for the person to examine their own willingness to change. Some people are done at the first raindrop. They enter the “therapeutic witness protection program” and are never seen or heard from again. Others are willing to examine every facet of their life and understand how and why the negative change occurred. The clients who handle the wind and darkness end up with the beautiful weather days that they want and need.

The event went off without a hitch. The weather forecast of the apocalypse did not occur. We were all grateful that our weather was cloudy with no precipitation. Late in the afternoon, the sun peaked through the clouds. It was an unexpected joy. On this day, like many days in my office, when the sun came out, a tear came to my eye.

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How to pick your next partner

Originally published by Expert Beacon:
https://expertbeacon.com/dating-after-divorce-how-pick-your-next-partner/#.VPb6mC7KMW7

 

 

You found the courage to end your last relationship. Maybe the relationship ended amicably. Maybe it had a dramatic and painful ending, perhaps in divorce. Either way you are finished with the relationship and are looking to begin to date. You may have some fear and apprehension about getting back in the dating game. To find the right person you need a plan. Here are some dos and don’ts for your plan to finding your next partner.

Do

allow time for healing

Ending relationships are hard. It is normal to have feelings of grief and sadness as well as anger and fear. Give yourself the time to heal and process these feelings. If you need additional support, find a good therapist who can help you with loss as well as to look for possible patterns in your relationships.

make the right choice

Most of us don’t make a major purchase impulsively. We research, talk to others, and identify what our needs are. Why wouldn’t you do that for your next partner? Identify what you want in a relationship and don’t settle for someone who doesn’t meet your needs.

pay attention

You started dating again but there is something about this person that bothers you. Pay attention to it. The old adage, “If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right,” is true with people as well.

talk to others

There is no reason to keep your date a secret from family and friends. Let everyone meet him/her. They will have opinions and insights to share. It’s more data to work with in order to make your decision.

feel the chemistry

There is no reason to keep your date a secret from family and friends. Let everyone meet him/her. They will have opinions and insights to share. It’s more data to work with in order to make your decision.

 

 

Don’t

repeat the past

If you are paying attention to your relationship history, you know what types of people you are attracted to. You also know which people didn’t work out the first time. It probably won’t work the second, third or fourth time either!

date everyone

Just because Mary from bookkeeping is single or Bob from shipping is available doesn’t mean that you should date them. Be clear about who you want to be with and stay with that plan. No one has ever died from being lonely. It feels crappy but probably won’t cause death.

ignore the “flags”

You know what flags are: they are the comments that are made, the illogical behaviors that occur, the stories that you question. Communicate about them. Pay attention to them. Don’t excuse them because you really like the person.

listen to everyone

Everyone thinks they know everything about relationships. They are more than happy to share their beliefs, opinions, feelings about who would be best for you. You have an idea about who your ideal partner is — listen to yourself.

think that the relationship will get better
If you are dating someone and there is regular conflict, major areas of disagreement, or addiction/mental health issues, these will not improve by themselves. The relationship will continue to be affected by these issues — they won’t go away. Love will not make them better; only the other person can make them better.

 

Summary

In order to pick your next partner, you need to look inward. You need to pick “the best athlete available” — the one that fits your needs! It’s ok to be afraid and apprehensive. Collect data from both your heart and your head. Don’t be afraid to eliminate people from your search. Pay attention to the “flags”, listen to yourself. You will know when you have found the right person.

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