Couples Counseling Articles

Love

Blame is Contagious

We may love someone but the way we talk to them (or about them) isn’t always loving.

Sometimes, we talk to people we love in ways that are largely inconsistent.

Maybe it has something to do with our limited perception.

It’s tempting to blame and believe the stories we tell.

Blame makes us feel better.

Blame allows us to zoom past our own emotions and discount accountability.

It’s so much easier to point a finger and hold the other person responsible.

Blame discharges anger quickly and doesn’t require any effort to figure out what’s really going on.

These blaming conversations are contagious. 

They’re also the fastest way to embed painful narratives in our relationships.

Space and Relationships

When I saw the NASA Webb images last month, I felt a deep sense of humility.

This new chapter of scientific exploration takes my breath away and some things came into focus….things I probably should have understood but didn’t.

Not really.

Here’s what became clear for me:

  • In the scheme of things, Earth is remarkably insignificant. (But it’s all we’ve got.)
  • In our own lives, we typically think of empty time and space as unproductive – something to be used or filled as quicky as possible.
  • By filling time and space to capacity, we lose sight of ourselves.
  • We’re on autopilot, busy and distracted.
  • On the rare occasion when we pause, we find it uncomfortable rather than delicious.

In fact, it can be unnerving and can affect our relationships deeply.

We search for something to say….something to do. Anything to avoid the emptiness.

What if, instead, we viewed empty time and space as a cauldron of creative potential…. something that deserves our attention.

Devotion.

Once we understand even the tiniest speck of emptiness contains pure potentiality…pure creativity… we could start to build a framework of value around emptiness.

It’s everywhere.

Emptiness allows us to make sense of words.

For example, there’s empty space between certain letters on the screen and….as we read, that emptiness gives birth to meaning.

Likewise, the space between musical notes and the pause between beautiful phrases allows us to enjoy a symphony or a love song.

The pure potential of empty time and space shows up in our relationships too.

Stillness reveals what’s inside us.

Sometimes, it’s spontaneous joy.

Other times unwelcome emotions and unspeakable thoughts bubble up. They launch us into behaviors we later regret.

Perhaps it’s equally important to explore our inner space.

Because when we turn away from emptiness, we turn away from co-creating our future.

Relationship Tools May Seem Important

Relationship tools seem important….

Yet, the essence of relating lies in non-judgmental curiosity.

This is a new idea for most of us and it’s simple but not easy.

It points to heart-centered listening.

When we learn to practice this approach with a heart-centered attitude, our relationship takes care of itself.

This clear concept can be written down in a few sentences and covers a lifetime.

It’s the seed for empathy, compassion and connection.

Relating is not so much about using tools to figure things out, rather it’s in how you approach the relationship itself.

When you show up curious and willing to observe with an open mind, things start to shift.

You show up moment by moment ensuring that you are not trying to change or control anyone or anything.

A little clumsy at first, you start to refine your approach and your attitude.

You withhold judgment and criticism (even the kind you consider constructive).

You observe yourself and stay present.

There will be challenges every day and some days will be easier than others.

You will have disagreeable conversations and have to work through them.

But over time, relating to your partner with curiosity becomes the new normal.

Together you explore, create new experiences, get comfortable and your relationship starts to change.

It’s Worth Considering

In a safe, intimate partnership, there is nothing more important than approaching each other with an open mind and a vulnerable heart.

The moment we seed our interactions with defenses and demands, we are no longer relating.

It’s subtle, yet over time, we can see how easily and often we project images and comparisons onto our relationships.

When we show up open, without labels or expectations, things start to shift.

The approach is simply to allow; to relax and show up as if you’ve never done it before.

You genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen.

You’re showing up as your unique and original self… willing to relate… not knowing what is going to happen in this moment… or the next.

Your mind is open and your heart is available.

You’re naturally curious and able to experience your partner.

Letting go of all those thoughts of what your relationship should be, is a radical idea.

One worth considering.

Tis the Season: Love, Resentment and Happiness

We all have decisions to make around careers, love, and partnerships.

And making good decisions makes us happy.

It’s a simple concept, but not easy.

Because when life is stressful, it’s hard to know where to begin. Good decisions can seem out of reach.

We might doubt ourselves or think of others as the source of our confusion and unhappiness.

Take a closer look and we can see why.

We are social creatures who are hard-wired to connect, and our happiness depends largely on our relationship with others.

Without love, friends, and community, it’s hard to be happy.

Continue Reading Tis the Season: Love, Resentment and Happiness

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.

Working From Bed

After binge watching The Crown a while back, I read that Winston Churchill frequently ran Britain from bed.

He’d stay there till 1pm with his typewriter and Scotch, reading and firing off memos to his ministers.

I’ve always loved that idea and considering where we are these days…..I can tell you…..it’s …awesome!

It’s also luxurious and feels REALLY GOOD. (Minus the Scotch – ONLY because I can’t consume alcohol and work at the same time!)

Where is she going with this?…. you ask.

Well…..I want to remind you, that love and connection feel REALLY GOOD too!

If that feel-good sensation is missing in your relationship, consider this…..

It’s always confusing when partners experience emotional pain AND profess to love each other.

Look a little closer and you’ll notice a sense of unsafe-ness or lack of trust. It happens when we feel

  • Judged
  • Invisible
  • Unappreciated
  • Unheard
  • Rejected
  • Overwhelmed
  • Not-good enough or
  • Shamed.

It’s also there when we feel

  • Hurt
  • Abandoned
  • Unimportant
  • Unwanted
  • Isolated
  • Alone
  • Disconnected or
  • Desperate.

ALL of these emotions are real and reflect a lack of emotional safety and trust.

This is when our hearts hurt, our brains light up like Christmas trees and our central nervous system goes into overdrive.

This is a UNIVERSAL human experience….and happens automatically when we feel unsafe.

Our bodies (and our brains) respond with the Fight, Flight or Freeze response.

No matter who we are, what we do for a living or where we come from…. our brains and hearts ALWAYS want to know:

  • Are you there for me?
  • Am I safe with you?
  • How are we doing?
  • What’s next? and
  • Where do we go from here?

If the answer to any of these questions is ambiguous or a flat out ’No’…… bad things start to happen….from the inside out.

This year, more than any other, our emotions and reactions have been on steroids.

So give yourself – and those around you – a break.

Do whatever you need to do and make mental Wellness YOUR top priority for 2021.

That means committing to self-care by…

  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Eating clean food.
  • Hydrating often.
  • Moving your body.
  • Tapping into wisdom.
  • Having a spiritual connection and…. above all else
  • Cultivating relationships.

If you can’t do them all – then simply pick ONE and start.

This crazy, crisis-filled year has been a challenge for everyone – including the entire Wellness Team!

  • We’ve learned a lot and Self-Care is one of the things we’re keenly aware of – now more than ever.
  • That’s why I want to share a few important details with you before taking my own, personal long-awaited and well-deserved time off.

Our offices will have very limited coverage beginning Monday December 21 thru Friday, January 1 inclusive. We will be back at our desks Monday January 4. We will check email and return calls during that time – but on a very limited basis.

Because what we do is so important to our clients and their families, it’s a priority for the Wellness team to take some solid time to rest and celebrate with our own families.

Please plan accordingly.

We appreciate YOU more than words can say and want only the BEST for you.

We wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and encourage you to take good care of your (PRECIOUS) self and the people you care about!

Stay safe and stay healthy!

Only For You

The story you tell yourself is true, but only for you.

We see and hear everything through our own eyes and ears.

Our brain compares what we see and hear to what we expect. Then, our brain creates stories around every interaction we have.

We form an opinion, make judgments and the story we tell ourself becomes our truth. It’s our understanding of the world. Those stories become our belief… about a person, place or situation. It’s how we make sense of things.

Continue Reading Only For You

Hold Me Tight® Workshop for Couples – Charlotte, NC – September 28 & 29

How do you want to feel in your relationship?

Safe? Warm? Respected? Understood? Cherished?

Whatever it is for YOU…. if you’re trying hard to make things better – you’re not alone.

We’re all pretty good about attending to our children, homes and careers. Yet when it comes to our primary relationship, most of us wing it and hope for the best. STOP!

What YOU want for your relationship is more important today than ever before.

It’s time to dig deep and think about the ONE thing that’s likely to make everything better.

You know what I’m talking about….connection.

It creates the kind of closeness you experience when you have important conversations…. without slipping into that dreaded negative spin.

Connection is a must-have for 21st century relationships and exactly what you’ll experience in our couples workshops.

Hold Me Tight® Workshop for Couples

2 Days – 7 Conversations

Join us on September 28 and 29!

The Wellness Center Counseling Hold Me Tight workshop

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Continue Reading Hold Me Tight® Workshop for Couples – Charlotte, NC – September 28 & 29

We Got The Wrong Message!

Somehow, we got the message that love is mystical and magical. That it appears, then disappears. Motivates us. Confuses us. And, of course, we have no control over it.

Not true!

Over the past 10 years or so we’ve learned a lot about love. Brain science has completely changed our understanding of what’s possible when it comes to shaping a loving relationship.

So much so that our whole culture is shifting and personal expectations are growing. Have you noticed? While we used to settle for good enough, today we want connection.

We want to be cherished, accepted, respected and understood. We want more from our partners and while it doesn’t have to be perfect… we believe we deserve better.

Continue Reading We Got The Wrong Message!