Wise parents understand the importance of giving their children both roots and wings. Children must learn to stand on their own two feet, to trust their own judgment, to pick up the pieces when they make mistakes and to chart the life course that makes sense to them. However, experience in my own life and my practice along with recent research says that living alone can actually cause depression. Couples: Will Living Together Ruin Your Relationship?
Sally, who was 37 years old, has been living alone since she finished college. "My college roommates drove me crazy with their messiness, eating habits and the rest. I could not wait to finally be able to afford my own space," she explained in our first interview. But she continued, "I am now so lonely. I do not think I ever learned to get along with others and I feel left out of everything," "What have I done wrong?" she asked.
The art of living with others is one that many fortunate people learn in their families. Rooms, food, time and caring is shared. Frustrations with another's habits that may seem to drive one crazy are dealt with. Patience and acceptance is learned. Or in Sally's words, "I see now that I would have been so lucky to learn to just accept others as they are and not expect everything to be my way all of the time. Are Your Partner's Social Skills Embarrassing?
Norma visited me after her closest friend screamed at her in the middle of a 28th birthday celebration for their mutual friend with five others present. When the cake arrived, the group began to sing to the celebrant but Norma lashed out at her closest friend who led the group in song. "You embarrass me with your bad taste in a public restaurant. Why are you making a spectacle of yourself?" Her friend asked Norma where she learned to be so mean and judgmental and refused to speak to her for the rest of the afternoon. Norma consulted me two weeks later, heartsick about this rift with her dearest friend, when none of her calls had been returned. Why You Should Try Marriage Education
Here, I explain why the reasons for Sally and Norma's inflexibility and communication difficulties were different but had the same inflexible result:
Sally was raised by a very stiff and formal mother who insisted that her rules about absolutely everything in life, from making a bed, to organizing the frig, to acceptable dress, be followed at all times. Sally just hadn't given herself a chance to learn any other way of living. By the end of our seven months of work together, Sally had fallen in love with a man who was as flexible as she was disciplined. "We are great for and with each other, helping the other to expand and think in new ways," she explained happily. "All I had to do was give myself a chance to see that there is not just one way to do or see anything." 6 Life Lessons For Finding Fulfillment
As an only child, Norma grew up living for parental approval, never getting it and becoming bitterly lonely as a result. Norma's parents were each harsh disciplinarians who expected their daughter to be seen but not heard. Norma's parents had died within two years of each other, when she was in her early twenties. But, in her words, "Even though neither one is here, I hear their voices and just cannot change the behaviors that cause me to sit on myself, rather than let go, make friends, believe in who I am and have fun.
Our work together has helped her to loosen up a great deal. She gave herself assignments involving spending time with others who lived very differently than she and learning that their ways of setting a table, cooking, cleaning, sewing, exercising and the like worked well for them and had their plusses. She also practiced sentences that she could use with others to open conversations and show them that she was interested in them. 7 Ways To Survive The Spring Holiday Season
Norma, after just a few sessions, realized that the parental demand that she never raise her voice in song, enjoy spontaneity, or as she called it, "color outside of the lines" caused her to be terrified of creative expression. She apologized to her friend for what she realized had been her rudeness.
The next time a birthday celebration came along, although not comfortable, she sang along as long as the music went on. Her new boyfriend was also a beneficiary of who Norma described as "the new me." Each were delighted that not only could she now enjoy breakfast in bed but also lovemaking amidst the crumbs.
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