Couples Counseling Articles

EFT

Stories That Connect Us

When we’re in a relationship, it’s easy to get stuck on the stories we tell ourselves.

When these stories are based in frustration and fear, they live inside us and are rarely spoken out loud.

We lose ourselves in them and the moment we do, we shut out the people we care about most.

Actually, we shut out everyone because once we get caught up in the story, we’re no longer present with people and the world around us.

We become overwhelmed or distracted and it’s hard to function optimally.

When these internal conversations get big enough, we can’t hold them anymore and we might feel compelled to share them with others (aka venting or gossiping).

When a relationship is in high distress, the storylines we tell ourselves are often disparaging and untrue. Because we’ve told them so many times, it’s hard to believe they could be otherwise.

Sometimes we resort to telling stories about our partner that include name-calling.

It’s a downward spiral and our brain finds it almost impossible to step out of that kind of thinking.

As long as we stay in this limited state, we miss out on authentic relationships with people…especially the ones we care about most.

It keeps us trapped and small. Of course, we can be polite, but there’s little room for the expansiveness of Love.

Recognizing and speaking our storylines out loud along with

the meaning behind them and

the emotions that fuel them

morphs into compassion, presence, and connection.

Young happy couple

Communication, Creativity and Contradictions

Reading any news headline makes me think deeply about the source of turmoil.

We can pretend things will get back to normal soon.

We can tell ourselves that our lives and the world are not forever changed. 

We can continue the exhausting human habit of resisting pain and bracing ourselves for (mostly) imaginary disaster.

We can even continue to relate to each other as before; tiptoeing around the under-currents of anger and tension. 

We have a choice; we can hold back or we can speak up. 

What keeps us from speaking up at home AND in the world, I believe, is fear. 

It also prevents us from loving well.

The moment we recognize our emotions as the organizing principle of truth and we’re willing to speak them out loud…..

We’re inclined to take more risks and make a ruckus.

That’s when our relationships are transformed.

Spoiler alert – speaking our emotions is not the same as venting, blaming, criticizing or acting out.

Rather, it’s a courageous and messy process brimming with creativity, communication and contradiction. 

One way or another, it seems we’re all headed in the direction of more truth-telling.

Either we embrace the shift or we keep doing things the old way.

Isn’t it good to know we have a choice?

Love, Loneliness and Connection

My attorney married his college sweetheart after she finished medical school.

They were married only a short time, which he describes as the loneliest three years of his life.

To this day, he has never remarried.

In 2018, loneliness emerged as a silent epidemic in North America.

In today’s almost-post-quarantine-world, we have a national health crisis on our hands.

Oddly, loneliness is not defined by our surroundings nor does it have a direct relationship to distance or geography.

We can feel lonely and emotionally alone even in beautiful space with people we love.

It’s an internal sense or comfort level and is distinct from solitude.

Solitude is an opportunity for rest and rejuvenation. It’s voluntary and tends to enhance our personal growth, creativity and well-being. It brings up emotions…but in a good way.

Loneliness feels heavy and is burdened with shame. Stigma surrounds it and creates an unconscious desire to escape. The brain says, “Anywhere but here.”

In research circles, there is an evolution in thinking about loneliness and its link to depression, anxiety and addiction.

Meanwhile, most people have become experts at suppressing loneliness with magical thinking and….let’s admit it….our over use of electronic devices.

When that doesn’t work, we withdraw, stay busy or self-medicate with something or someone.

As unrelenting as the state of loneliness may seem, it is reversible.

First, we can lift the burden of shame by recognizing and acknowledging that we all need human connection as much as we need food and water.

Then we can de-stigmatize loneliness by talking about our experiences and understanding it for what it is:

a near-universal human condition we can do something about.

New Normals Will Come and Go

Just for today, I’m unwilling to listen to noise about the new normal.

In normal times, most of us forget we’re even there.

We’re on autopilot and rarely give normal a second thought until a new normal wants to take over.

First, we protest. Then we problem-solve and adjust….over and over again.

That’s what we do and humans are really, really good at it.

We are natural-born problem solvers. And you could say, we take normal for granted until it’s gone.

Taking things for granted may seem like a harsh term…. especially at a time when people are searching for security and stability.

But step-by-step we know how to connect, share, problem solve and make change happen.

It takes focus and energy. And sometimes…. it takes an intervention.

Still, it seems important to remind ourselves.

Because it’s easy to forget the miracles and the smallest normals that make our lives extraordinary.

For example,

You swallow about 2,000 times a day or once every 30 seconds on average….

Blink about 14,000 times per day and touch your face 16 times per hour, on average.

All virtually invisible to us….

until we try not to blink, swallow….

or touch our face.

The Moment I Knew…

I had mine at 42 and have had several since.

Almost everyone has a moment. It’s when you know or understand something that was previously a source of confusion. Somehow out of reach.

This moment of clarity can be filled with relief…or terror.

Maybe it’s been germinating in the background for years. But when a ‘moment of knowing’ shows up, it feels sudden…and it’s packed with lessons that teach us how to listen and trust ourselves.

If we listen, life starts moving in a new direction.

Here are some examples of such moments……

  • I’m going to marry him/her.
  • We’re pregnant.
  • My life isn’t working anymore.
  • Something’s got to change.
  • I’m going to start a business.
  • I need to go back to school.
  • I want a new job.
  • I’m going to leave him/her.
  • S/he is going to divorce me.
  • We need an intervention.
  • I’ve been betrayed.
  • I must do that ONE thing I’m afraid to do…or at least try!

Typically, these are intimate landmark moments of knowing. They’re about ordinary things….that end up creating memorable, life-altering experiences.

These game-changing moments do not like being neglected.

When ignored, they don’t disappear.

Instead, they wait patiently…for years, sometimes decades…until the next opportunity arises.

And, when it taps you on the shoulder, that’s when you know. This is the moment.

I’m Betting on The Future

My team and I built this Word Cloud to recognize the New Year and start fresh in a changing world.

We used words that best embody who we are and the work we do. We trust they’ll guide us as well.

I share them with you because….I’m betting on the future.

2020 gave us a history-accelerating crisis, dysfunctional politics, ineffective governance, amplified inequality, explosive social tension, isolation and an unspeakable sense of helplessness.

It also gave us businesses that shuttered as cardboard boxes, with smiles on them, landed on our doorstep….one after another.

2020 shined a spotlight on our unshakable ideal; that ‘more’ and ‘bigger’ are better.

It left some of us wondering how we’ve changed…..how some of us absorbed the trauma of lockdowns and others revolted….

While others still risk their lives every day, working harder than ever, supporting themselves and their families….helping those who need it most.

We get weary of bad news. I know. Sometimes it’s just too much so we look for distractions.

Anything to help avoid the unfathomable tragedy and enormous loss of life….fellow Americans….over 350,000 to date and more to come.

I think we have to distract ourselves…..not because we don’t care…..but because it’s too big.

No one really knows how to access that level of compassion and empathy.

Yet, here we are, in the New Year….each of us, doing our best to maintain equilibrium.

I believe we will come out of this crisis remade both individually and as a culture…. and no one knows what that will look like.

Still…I’m betting on the future.

There will be so much NEW to get used to; how we live, work, heal, communicate and learn.

The differences may not be obvious at first.

What’s likely to become obvious….pretty quickly….is how much we need each other.

We’ll witness a sped-up version of the world we knew and, most of us will try to keep up.

This will amplify our fatigue, frustrations, our vulnerability and…our fears.

If we cover our eyes as the pace accelerates…..and pretend like it’s not happening….even our denial could get bigger.

All of this might make you want to hit the snooze button!

But you won’t.

Instead, consider this your wakeup call and an opportunity to transform…..to tap into the transformative stuff you are made of.

It’s an opportunity to choose…..to be creative and harness some of the forces that have been unleashed…..and help move this accelerating world toward a more compassionate and more appealing destination.

Here are some of the things we’re doing and YOU can do too:

  • Slow down before speeding up.
  • Identify your most deeply held values and beliefs.
  • Prioritize.
  • Focus on what’s important; leave the rest.
  • Identify your genius…your superpower.
  • Approach with new commitment.
  • Be trustable.
  • Speak truth.
  • Love more.
  • Commit to do creative work every day that connects people and builds peace.

This is our commitment and why I’m betting on the future.

Truth be told….I’m betting on you too and I would love, love, love to hear from you!