Understanding the Capability of Intimacy

There are times when we struggle to understand someone’s inability to be intimate; in their levels of affection, in their daily investment in the relationship, in their level of being attuned to our needs. As everything exists on a continuum, as does intimacy. Our ability to be intimate with others, to be vulnerable and open correlates directly with our level of feeling safe. If we don’t feel safe in that position, we will maneuver, avoid, step around, shut down.

The level of safety that someone has for intimacy has been formed by many factors – temperament, experiences from childhood and repeated relationship patterns all can play a role. Traumatic experiences, even in adulthood can also greatly affect our level of intimacy. When in relationship with someone it is important to remember that not everyone can be at the same level at the same time. If there is too much of a difference, or the two people become stuck, it may be time to take space, seek professional help or move on from the relationship, depending on who and what that person represents to you.

And other times, it is acceptance we strive for – knowing that the person is giving us the best of themselves, even though it might not always feel like enough. In either case, we are best served to remember that our ability to be intimate directly correlates to what feels safe. This can help soften and support the process of growth.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Archie Fantom on Unsplash

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Three Questions to Ask Yourself When Facing Adversity

I recently attended a workshop where the guest speaker was lecturing about the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. One of her slides touched briefly on facing adversity and I jotted them down and thought I would expand on them here. It was noted that the sourced website was: https://www.6seconds.org/

When facing adversity, challenges or circumstances beyond our control we can ask ourselves three questions:

  1. Is this permanent?  Very often what feels permanent, is in fact temporary. Sometimes we can have an experience that does come with finality (loss of job, break up), however we can be assured that with time and process, our feelings surrounding that experience will lesson with intensity.
  2. Is this pervasive? How much of this adversity is consuming our life? Are we able to function within it? There are times when the challenge will be all consuming; it is then that we must lean into “one day at a time” thinking as a way to focus on staying the course until things feel balanced again.
  3. Is it taking too much power? And there are times when the power the challenge holds is unbalanced. Very often, it is our all consuming emotions about the adversity that help to contribute to that feeling . Re-shifting our focus can often help in reestablishing the power differential. Making decisions, creating a plan or moving in a new direction can create the same shift.

Very often, our challenges have the ability to overwhelm us. They begin to feel all consuming as the mix of heightened emotions will move us out of our comfort system. Asking ourselves these three questions can help in processing our feelings; allowing us to take the wheel – despite the veer off course.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

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It Doesn’t Stop at Marriage

Healthy relationships are about investment. In the article “23 Damn Good Pieces of Marriage Advice All Couples Need to Read” by Fatherly, we read the advice given by therapists and relationship experts as to how to keep a marriage healthy. Here are five that resonated with me:

  • “Remember your commitment. When there is a foundation of caring and love, then you can trust at all times that you will get through whatever difficulties you are facing.” -Janet Zinn, LCSW
  • “Be flexible. Unexpected events, expenses, and situations come up in relationships. If we are too rigid, we resist facing the unexpected. A couple’s ability to ‘go with the flow’ – especially when it’s dramatically different from what they expected – gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and, more importantly, get to know each other in ways they might never have known before.” – Janet Zinn, LCSW
  • “Go on date nights. It’s so important to have evenings where you don’t worry about diaper-changes, spilled popcorn, or public tantrums. Go have unencumbered fun.” – Andrea Amour (dating coach)
  • “Stay in tune with self-care. Successful couples know that they need to take actions of self-care. This affirms that it’s important to work on the relationship you have with yourself.” – Thomas Gagliano, author of ‘The Problem Was Me.’
  • “Pay attention to the little things. Small gestures carry a lot of weight, and for couples who have mutual respect, those small gestures are second-nature. A simple love note, a slightly longer hug or kiss goodbye can make your partner feel validated and appreciated.” -Dr. Fran Walfish, family psychotherapist.

When we invest in the health of the relationship by purposefully being intentional, we have created the foundation of a good marriage. It is far less about saying “I do” than it is about committing to that both in attitude and action.

To read the full article (full of great advice!): https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/damn-good-marriage-advice/

Photo credit:http://Photo by Andrew Itaga on Unsplash

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The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

Author of 46 children’s books, Dr. Seuss left behind his spirited personality in his poetry and playful use of words. Here are five of my favourite quotes:

  • “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” – Dr. Suess
  • “Think! You can think any Think that you wish!” – Dr. Seuss
  • “It’s opener there in the wide open air.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss gave us permission to just be – to be ourselves, to enjoy life and laughter and adventure. We can always use a little bit of Dr. Seuss in our day 🙂

Photo credit:http://Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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Finding Your Comfort Zone When Coming Out

I had the richest of conversations with a young woman who had recently come out to her family. Although telling her parents and siblings she was gay went fairly smoothly, she spoke about an experience shortly afterwards that occurred  to which she was unsure of how to respond. She noted that she had been at a social gathering at her parents home and an acquaintance of her parents, in the process of small talk, asked her if she had a boyfriend. Although she answered truthfully that she didn’t, she stated that it made her feel uncomfortable and felt some internal dissonance – she wanted to be true to herself, but was not sure what to say in that moment, and how to say it.

In exploring all the ins and outs of her recent experience, we were able to come up with some thoughts about finding your comfort zone when coming out:

  1. Give yourself permission to have a private life. We all have a level in which we feel open to sharing. Regardless of where you sit on that continuum, it is okay to honour your sense of privacy when sharing with others details of your private life, including your sexual orientation.
  2. Think about who it is that’s asking. Is this person part of your support circle? Just making small talk? Are they being nosy? How important is it for the young woman, in that moment, to share that she is gay? If it doesn’t feel right, perhaps the context is wrong, or her comfort level is not lining up with full disclosure. Understand that it is okay to wait until it does feel right.
  3. Find avenues to share that fits your comfort zone. Not everyone you tell is going to be supportive and loving (although you would certainly hope so). In order to protect yourself from someone’s immediate reaction, think about sharing in ways that provide some space for absorption, such as an email, or asking someone in your support circle to share on your behalf. This is perfectly acceptable as a way for you to find your comfort zone in telling others that you are gay.
  4. Remind yourself that other people’s reactions are not yours to carry. It may take some for people in your life to process their feelings – and that is okay. At the end of the day, they need to love you for who you are; not for their expectations of who you are.
  5. Remember that being true to yourself is one of the pillars of self-actualization and growth. I felt proud of this young woman who had navigated this important process with confidence, despite some understandable nervousness.

Coming out can be a fearful process- you are potentially putting a lot on the line. Finding your comfort zone will help you to feel grounded and safe; as your experiences of sharing grows, so will your confidence in being true to yourself.

Photo credit: Me! This image was created in Canva.

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How to Deal with Difficult Emotions: Post 2

Building from yesterday’s post in which we looked at some key steps to managing difficult emotions, today we look at the “0 to 60” response. Very often, people will remark that they can’t control their emotions- that when they feel something, their need to act on it is immediate. That might be anger by means of a quick or short temper, fear – which can produce a panic attack or immediate tears when triggered to something sad or overwhelming. As we touched on yesterday, every feeling that we have is meant to be there. Feelings produce action urges, and it is often the follow through on those action urges that can get us into trouble. In order to temper the “0 to 60” response, we can begin by:

  1. Understanding that it doesn’t have to be that way. Question why you have that type of response. What are your triggers? Is this a learned behaviour? Was it something that you used in childhood that protected you but now doesn’t work for you as well? It is important to begin to understand that just because something has been one way for a long time, doesn’t mean it can’t change.
  2. Take a deep breath. Or maybe two, or three. We know that shallow breathing quickens the response part of our body to react. We also know that a deep breath resets that….taking that moment will remind us “Hey, it’s okay to slow this down. It’s okay to think about how I want to react.” Deep breathing inhibits anxiety, anger and impulsiveness.
  3. Sleep on it. Hard to imagine not reacting? Just try it the next time you are feeling especially overwhelmed by your emotions. Give yourself permission to slow it down long enough to say “How do I want to react to this? Do I need to act right away?” Sometimes giving ourselves time allows our rational brain to contribute it’s two cents worth, tempering the emotion and need to act.

It is not always easy to manage difficult emotions but it is possible. It will take some practice and patience – be compassionate with yourself for your efforts. 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🇬🇧 on Unsplash

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How To Deal with Difficult Emotions: Post 1

We all have them – difficult emotions. Sometimes the struggle is with anger, sometimes it is with fear, or shame, or deep sadness. The difficulty is often in what feels uncontrollable; a reaction that feels out of our grasp and all-consuming. But we can learn to help control and contain difficult emotions.

  1. The first step is to simply begin to be aware of your emotions. It is to understand that it is not the feeling that gets you into trouble. Every feeling that you have is meant to be there. It is either instinctual, you learned it, or through experience, associations to feelings were formed. And so, the first step is simply to begin to notice how we are feeling. Simply observe and describe – no judgement. “Hearing that makes me feel sad.” “I am so angry right now.” “Everything feels tight.” “I can feel the calmness inside.”
  2. Understand that feelings are impermanent. They come and go. They have the ability to pass. When we focus on simply observing our emotions (without having to act on them right away), we begin to understand the impermanence of emotion.
  3. Move towards acceptance. The feelings that you have are meant to be there. This doesn’t give us permission to give in to the action urge of the feeling, but it does give us the important understanding that our feelings do actually work for us.

Tomorrow’s post will look at the “0 to 60” reaction that often accompanies difficult emotions and the steps we can take to slow that down.

Photo credit:http://Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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Self-Reflection Question 3

In our ongoing series on self-reflection, we come to question number three:

“What do I want to be known for?”

This is an interesting question as it really probes at our self-identity. Will we choose to be known for a role that defines us such as who we are as a parent or the type of work we do? Or will we lean into qualities and characteristics that we aim to be in our every day life? Will we be known for our interests outside of work? For the type of friend that we are?

I would most likely suggest that what we want to be known for will encompass many facets of who we are. It will include some of the more tangible things such what we do for a living, but it will progress to some of our greater qualities as well. When clients are sometimes struggling with self-identity issues, one of the activities I suggest is that they go to the people in their life who know them the best and ask them “What are my three best qualities?” They are often surprised to see the same qualities repeated and this helps cement for them a sense of who they are.

Perhaps when pondering this question, we can also ask ourselves “Do I live with intention?” For it is often in the act of building and designing our lives, that we discover within ourselves what we most bring to the table. For at the end of the day:

“The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.” — Bruce Lee

Photo credit: http://Photo by Garidy Sanders on Unsplash

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An Interesting Perspective On Healing

This meme came to my attention:

An unhealed person can find offense in pretty much anything someone does.

A healed person understands that the actions of others has absolutely nothing to do with them.

Each day you get to decide which one you will be. – Jay Shetty

To me, there is two levels of truth to these words. The first, is about security. When we feel secure in ourselves, we are able to recognize not only the role we play in interactions, situations and experiences, but also the role that others occupy in those same interactions. Healing brings about security; it allows us to be more flexible in our thinking and more open to being empathetic to those around us, forming a more objective view of the experience.

The second piece of truth in Jay Shetty’s words come from our ability to choose. When we are in the process of healing, of being self-aware, we also are more open to making choices that best reflect that process. That choice might be an apology we owe to someone if we realize that we’ve stepped out of line, or it may be choosing to take some space from someone who is causing grief in the relationship and unable to take responsibility for it.

In either case, we can recognize that the process of healing and the ability to make choices brings peace and a sense of feeling grounded.

Jay Shetty is a host, storyteller, viral content creator and experiment maker, who lived for three years as a monk. Here is his website: https://jayshetty.me/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

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The “Poor Me” Cycle

There are times when we get into a “poor me” or “why me” train of thinking. Sometimes it comes from a lot of stress that we are under, chronic pain can bring it on, or our life circumstances are feeling particularly challenging for whatever reason. And although it is perfectly okay to recognize and accept that this is the way we are feeling, we must be cautious not to stay there. Defeatist thinking tends to create a cycle that can lead to feeling stuck, and if we give the “poor me’s” too much care and attention, we can begin to live in the “poor me cycle.”

Characterized by thoughts such as “Why does this always happen to me? How come I can’t get ahead? What is wrong with me? How come I can’t catch a break?,” we begin to lean into helpless thinking. And when we begin to feel helpless and hopeless, we have moved into identifying as a victim; someone who moves in a place of complacency and eventual apathy; about their situation, their experiences, and sometimes their life in general. As cycles like to build on each layer, the apathy feeds both lethargy and procrastination which equals, feeling stuck.

We are much better served to give the “poor me’s” only a tad bit of attention. To acknowledge that, yes, I am feeling a bit down on myself, but then to push away from those thoughts and to lean into ones such as “One day at a time. I can make decisions that affect and move my life forward. No matter what, I’ll be okay. I can do this; I can make choices that are support me moving forward.”

By leaning into a more healthy way of thinking, we stay out of the poor me cycle, moving towards the type of change that facilitates growth and a feeling of pride and accomplishment.

Photo credit: http://Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

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