Though the words "I need space" are dreaded by lovers everywhere and can leave you feeling confused, panicked and rejected, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can actually be an opportunity to bring you closer together. Our expert explains how.
I need to rant. Just a little. You see, I know how much time women spend searching for the answers to their problems. BUT, and here's the rant, the answers are not 'out there.' One of my favorite quotes of all time is, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Gandhi was a pretty smart guy. If you want your life to improve, then you need to improve.
Even though the media storm from Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal has passed, what happens to the women involved? A recent article in The New York Times reminds us of the humiliation and "sl*t-shaming" that women from political scandals endure long after the headlines have stopped running. Personally, I believe he suffers from a sexual addiction. Our society underestimates the danger and the cost of this kind of addiction — and often blames the victim as a way to avoid taking responsibility for the pain it causes, just like the addict does.
One of the most common problems that I see when working with couples is the game of assumptions. This is when people infer based on previous behavior what the other is thinking and feeling. No space is left for something new. The assumer feels defensive and self-protective and the “assumee” feels shut out and not seen. The more rooted a couple becomes in assumptions, the more predictable the interactions. Scripts replace spontaneity.
I have been interested in meditation for years, but it was only until fairly recently that I completed a Vedic meditation training here in NYC and committed to a regular practice. In the Vedic tradition, a mantra is used to anchor the meditation. One of the biggest benefits of meditation, as far as I am concerned, is that it is a consciousness and practice of training the mind. I didn’t realize the full extent to which my mind was a wild animal until I began the practice of taming it. Jack Kornfield compares the mind in meditation to a puppy.
Children need to be listened to. Do not assume that you know what they are feeling. The fact that they may not have words for their feelings makes it easier to dismiss them, and when they start crying inconsolably it can be equally challenging as a parent to be supportive, because a crying child moves many things inside the parents from our own childhoods. We often reflexively react to our children the way we were reacted to by our own parents.
I watched a documentary on stress by biologist/professor and author of Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky. He provides some fascinating information on stress based primarily on his longitudinal research in Africa with a single baboon troop. Here are some of the findings that stuck with me:
I run a therapy group on Thursday evenings with a focus on relationships. A couple of weeks ago we had an interesting discussion about distinguishing between thoughts and feelings and emotions. We decided that it’s useful to distinguish between feelings and emotions by defining emotions as the reflexive reactions that rise and fall outside of our control. Feelings are created when we attach to emotions, usually via our thoughts. For example, imagine you are sitting at home on the couch and you suddenly feel a wave of sadness (emotion).
Here is an interesting little exercise: Take your hand and hide it behind something and spread your fingers and slowly lift your fingers up so only your fingers can be seen and not the palm of your hand. If you did not know that this was a hand, you would assume that the five fingers that you see are separate individual entities. As you slowly lift the hand up, you see that they are all connected and part of the same organism.
Most of us have critical or punitive voices inside our heads. In schema therapy, the punitive voice is a mode that can get triggered in any situation where one finds fault with oneself. For example, Marla has a tendency to binge on sweets at night. She’s overweight and wants to lose weight and is much more disciplined during the day. After she binges, she usually feels sick and starts to beat up on herself saying things like: “You’re pathetic. You’re fat. You’re weak”.