Learning How to Sustain Ourselves Ecologically (Costa Rica 2)

In my last blog article “Pura Vida”, I mentioned to you how much my trip to Costa Rica has moved and inspired me. Our outreach day, during which we visited the San Francisco Micro Farm and Sustainable School near Fortuna, was especially moving.

I wonder if you would agree with me that the future of our planet depends on everybody learning how to respect nature and live ecologically? If so, you will love this school project. The children in this school are not only taught academics but they are taught how to sustain themselves through ecological farming.

Here are some of the amazing things that they are doing in this school which will change the world if more schools take on this concept:

  1. The school serves lunch, using 80% of the food the children grow themselves.
  2. The garden is used to learn health. A path leads through the garden which illustrates the digestive system from ingestion to elimination. Along the path the herbs which assist with each part of digestion are planted.
  3. They learn geometry in their garden.
  4. They learn about ecological sustainability.
  5. They have a “Leave No Trace Behind” policy.  No garbage comes into the school, and no garbage goes out!
  6. What is left over after they are fed, they learn to market and sell.
  7. They have incorporated disabled kids into their program long before it became mandatory by law.

Bird’s Eye Video of the San Francisco School & Farm

Although the government is studying this public school as a model for the rest of the country, they don’t officially recognize or financially support it. The school is privately funded, and often struggles financially to pay the farm hands, and other workers and educators.

The great news is that it only takes US$ 400 / month to sustain the key farm-hand, and keep operations rolling smoothly. So that means by raising US$ 5,000, we can sustain them for another year!

So today, I have a special love-based request of you. If you feel inspired by reading about this school, seeing the photos and watching the videos, please consider donating to this 501-C3 Non-Profit organization to reach the goal of helping the school run for another year. You will be donating to a tax-deductible, non-profit organization that really is set up to change how we teach our children all across this planet.

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Our team has set up a GoFundMe page here. You can donate directly on the go fund me page (my preferred option), or give me the donation during your next session, and I will contribute for you.

To show you my own commitment, I will give everybody who donates $50 or more $15 off your next session with me during the months of November and December. Even a $25 donation already adds up and helps. In gratitude for your support and open heart.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

 

I Don’t Trust You – PART THREE – How to Heal the Trust

Listen to all three parts of the article as an extended version on my podcast, or read part three below!

When we have been betrayed, we might think that we have discovered the truth about the other person, that they have shown their true colours, but all we have done is discovered one truth about them. We are all people with admirable qualities and people who also act from their so called shadow sides. We all act from conscious parts in us but also from fears and suppressed unconscious energies that we have learned to disown. When somebody has betrayed us they have hardly ever set out to do this on purpose but usually they have acted from their own needs, wants and desires without considering their impact on others.

Healing the trust means figuring out together what led to the betrayal and to making changes in the relationship in a way that makes another betrayal less likely. You want to have problem-identifying and problem-solving conversations. This is not about finding fault with either partner but about understanding the unconscious dynamics in our relationships.

Let’s be very clear. A betrayal is like a mugging. Just as it is not your fault that you were mugged, it is not your fault that your partner broke your trust. However, once things have calmed down emotionally, you can examine how each of you has contributed to a situation that led to broken trust. Some problems will be issues your partner needs to deal with, others, you might need to take responsibility for. You can both make changes that will make a future betrayal less likely.

Kirshenbaum shares that many years ago, her husband had an emotional affair. She analyzes, “I had in fact made it far too easy for him to go off and have an emotional affair… I was very busy. I was very impatient. I was very critical of him. I was very unsupportive when my husband was going through a difficult time himself. Somehow I had withdrawn from him… My husband’s part in the problem was that he didn’t know how to get my attention and let me know what he needed and how we were going off the rails. My part in the problem was that I ignored his needs and sent us off the rails.” (Kirshenbaum, 168/169)

The inability of one or both partners to express their needs creates huge problems in our relationships. We usually grow up believing that as adults we shouldn’t be needy. Fact is, people are only as needy as their unmet needs. Living a healthy relationship means finding out what your needs are, believing that you deserve to have your needs met, and expressing them appropriately to your partner. Some needs we have are independent needs, others are dependent needs. The first ones we can meet ourselves, for example “I need to exercise every day”; the latter ones we can only meet with the cooperation of the other person, for example “I need to connect with my partner every day”. Some needs are negotiable for us for example, “I am willing to skip a day of exercise here or there”. Other needs are non-negotiable due to our values, for example, “I need my partner to be monogamous” could be a non-negotiable need for you.

The key to problem solving is to not get defensive. Refuse to hear blame and do your best to hear the underlying unmet needs. It is not up to you to judge your partner’s needs, nor do you need to justify whether you have tried to meet those needs. Strive to hear the need and find out how you can actually meet it, if it is one that involves you, or give your partner time and space to meet their own need.

Kirshenbaum names six top solutions that help rebuild the trust:

  1. Learn to listen

Instead of really truly listening until the other person feels understood, we tend to jump to conclusions, assume, explain, defend, interrupt, criticize, minimize and blame or feel blamed. Listening means hearing. You show you have heard and understood by reflecting back what you have heard, for example, “Did I get this right, you feel…”

  1. Make each other feel the other matters

Listening is one way of making each other feel important. Another way is making time for each other, or reaching out to your partner to connect.

  1. Be fair

When one of you feels resentment because something does not seem fair, the other person needs to hear this and at least try their best to make things more balanced or more fair.

  1. Learn how to make decisions together

If you are struggling to find compromises in regards to what you want, you can use the numbers from 1 to 10 to determine how important something is to you. 1 means you don’t care much, 10 means it is extremely important to you. The partner with the highest number gets to make the choice. If it is equally important to you, take turns making decisions.

Also talk about why something is important to you, what it means to you. That way your partner can understand your experience.

  1. Don’t belittle

Treat each other with respect, no matter what you think about the other person’s thoughts, needs, fears or feelings. Nobody likes to be treated as if they are stupid, crazy or unimportant.

  1. Don’t be controlling

Our needs can be experienced by the other person as control. And the more they feel controlled, the more likely it is that they will do everything to escape the control. If your partner experiences your needs as you trying to control him or her, it does not mean that you have to throw your needs overboard. It means that you have to have a conversation and make sure you explain your feelings and needs. You also need to express your needs as requests not demands.

Rather than insisting on needing to check up on the other person, the betrayed partner could try to come from a vulnerable place and for example say, “I still feel scared and vulnerable, and it would help me to feel safe if you were more open and shared more with me. I’ll do my best not to get upset but to make you glad you shared.”

In the aftermath of a betrayal, the temptation to be controlling is great. However, can you actually control what you are trying to control? If your partner chooses to do what you do not want them to do, he or she will find a way to have secrets. And if it is something you can actually control, it might make you feel safer in the short term but not help you trust your partner in the long run. If you don’t try to control them, it is a win/win. Either he or she shows that they are trustworthy, or they show that they cannot be trusted. In the latter case it is better, to know sooner rather than later.

If you are thinking that you need to control them because they won’t respect your requests and be honest, you are saying that this person has radically different values than you but that you want them in your life anyway. In that case, you are not honouring your own values and needs. For the sake of our soul and our personal growth, the decision whether to continue with the relationship or not, needs to be one of self-love and self-respect. Are you in integrity with your own values staying in this relationship, or not?

If our values overlap enough and we are able to work through a betrayal together with our partner, we can rebuild the trust as a team. In that case, the relationship usually ends up being stronger than before.

PART ONE of this series explored how mistrust entered into the relationship. Click here to read part one.

PART TWO of this series was about how to decide whether to stay in a relationship and rebuild the trust, or not. Click here to read part two.

If you would like to work through a betrayal by yourself or with your partner, contact me for a free phone consultation.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

How Do I Ask My Partner to Attend a Coaching Session with Me?

Do you feel that your long-term relationship could benefit from couples coaching but you are concerned that your partner is not open to the idea of seeing a coach? I am often asked, “how do I get my partner to come with me to do couples work”?

In my workshops and one-on-one sessions, I teach individuals and couples how to express their feelings and needs using the non-violent communication model by Marshall Rosenberg. The four step process ends with making a request—not a demand—to have your need met.

Couple’s therapist Ellyn Bader also has an interesting perspective on expressing needs to our partner. She points out that a lot depends on the wording we use. To translate that into NVC wording, we can express our need for something, but the request has to be a true request, not “I want you to”, not “I need you to”, and certainly not “You need to”.

Bader feels that saying “I need you to go to couples coaching with me”, will most likely result in your partner feeling he or she has no choice. They might feel cornered, resistant and get defensive, as there is no room to move. Fears or shame can be triggered for them around seeing a coach or sharing your private conflicts and challenges. They might not even feel they can express their feelings when approached this way. The more autocratic we show up when we express a need, the less likely it is that our partner will want to be open and cooperative.

Here is a better way of approaching the topic. “I really want to go to coaching. I hope you will join me. Here is why I want to go: I realize when you and I get into conflict I don’t handle it the best way possible. I want to learn to understand you better so we can create a better relationship. I want to become a better version of myself and connect at a deeper level with you.”

Notice that all of these are I-statements. You avoid blame or finger pointing. You simply take responsibility for yourself and the change you want to make. You give your partner a free choice to change or stay the same. Ellyn Bader even advises not to use the word “need” at all. Approaching your partner from a softer place allows them to give generously from an open heart and to express their own concerns or hesitations.

It can also help if you highlight the personal gain for your partner when going to couples coaching. You probably have specific topics you want to work on. Let your partner know that you are willing to also work on what they want to change in your partnership. For example, you want your partner to acknowledge your feelings more, and your partner wants to improve your sex life. Knowing they have a potential gain by agreeing to sessions gives them a motivation to come other than the fact that you want them to.

If despite making a request rather than a demand, your partner is not willing to come for sessions, you have the choice to make an appointment for an individual session to do your own relationship work. Even when only one person changes, the relationship itself changes. All relationships are a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves. Others reflect to us what we believe, think and how much we love ourselves. Our partner always reflects our core wounds from childhood.

Some potential questions to examine in individual sessions could be:

– How has my partner disappointed or hurt me in ways similar to how I was disappointed or hurt as a child?

e.g. My father discounted my feelings and fears and my partner does the same.

– How might I have disappointed or hurt my partner in ways similar to how he or she was disappointed or hurt as a child?

e.g. My partner had a mother who was controlling and demanding. Each time I become controlling or demanding, I remind him of his mother. As a child he felt not good enough and guilty. When I let him know that he is not acknowledging my feelings, he is triggered into not being good enough again. He feels guilty.

– How do I let myself down in ways that are similar to how I feel let down by my partner?

e.g. I don’t take good care of my own feelings.

– Where am I expecting my partner to take care of me in ways I am refusing to take care of myself?

e.g. I expect him to acknowledge my feelings when I am not willing to sit and work through my own feelings.

– What am I making these disappointments mean?

e.g. My feelings, needs and fears don’t matter and will never be acknowledged in a relationship.

– What am I making our challenges mean about the possibilities I have for happiness in romantic partnerships?

e.g. I can’t be myself in a romantic partnership. I have to suppress my feelings and fears. I will never feel safe or accepted to be me.

– What is my limiting story around love and relationships based on my childhood wounds?

e.g. Men are not capable of acknowledging feelings and fears. Women need to make sure they don’t show up as “too needy”, or they lose their partner.

– How do I set my partner up to respond in a way that perpetuates my childhood experience?

e.g. I don’t express my feelings and fears calmly, and instead, I get very stressed and anxious. I express myself loudly and anxiously, using control to manage the anxiety. That triggers my partner into feeling the same way he felt when he was a boy.

 

Contact me for a free phone consultation on either individual sessions or couple’s coaching. I also offer packages for couples.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

The Blind Passenger

I had been contemplating this year’s Thanksgiving blog, when I came across this beautiful story by an unknown author on Spiritual-Short-Stories.com. It is perfect the way it is written, so allow me to just share…

The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She paid the driver, and using her hands to feel the location of the seats, walked down the aisle and found the seat he’d told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg. It had been a year since Susan, thirty-four, became blind. Due to a medical misdiagnosis she had been rendered sightless, and she was suddenly thrown into a world of darkness, anger, frustration and self-pity.

Once a fiercely independent woman, Susan now felt condemned by this terrible twist of fate to become a powerless, helpless burden on everyone around her. “How could this have happened to me?” she would plead, her heart knotted with anger. But no matter how much she cried or ranted or prayed, she knew the painful truth: her sight was never going to return. A cloud of depression hung over Susan’s once optimistic spirit. Just getting through each day was an exercise in frustration and exhaustion.

 And all she had to cling to was her husband Mark. Mark was an Air Force officer and he loved Susan with all his heart. When she first lost her sight, he watched her sink into despair and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again. Mark’s military background had trained him well to deal with sensitive situations, and yet he knew this was the most difficult battle he would ever face. 

bus-city

Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to get around the city by herself. Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city. At first, this comforted Susan and fulfilled Mark’s need to protect his sightless wife who was so insecure about performing the slightest task. 

Soon, however, Mark realized that this arrangement wasn’t working – it was hectic, and costly. Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again, he admitted to himself. But just the thought of mentioning it to her made him cringe. She was still so fragile, so angry. How would she react? 

Just as Mark predicted, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. “I’m blind!” she responded bitterly. “How am I supposed to know where I’m going? I feel like you’re abandoning me.” Mark’s heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened. For two solid weeks, Mark, military uniform and all, accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses especially her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment. 

He helped her befriend the bus drivers who could watch out for her and save her a seat. He made her laugh, even on those not-so-good days when she would trip exiting the bus, or drop her briefcase. Each morning they made the journey together, and Mark would take a cab back to his office. Although this routine was even more costly and exhausting than the previous one, Mark knew it was only a matter of time before Susan would be able to ride the bus on her own. He believed in her, in the Susan he used to know before she’d lost her sight, who wasn’t afraid of any challenge and who would never, ever quit. 

Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. She said goodbye, and for the first time, they went their separate ways. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself! 

Blind-Passenger-silouette

On Friday morning, Susan took the bus as usual. As she was paying for her fare to exit the bus, the driver said, “Boy, I sure envy you.” Susan wasn’t sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live the past year? Curious she asked the driver, “Why do you say that you envy me?” The driver responded, “It must feel so good to be taken care of and protected like you are.” Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about, and asked again, “What do you mean?” 

The driver answered, “You know, every morning for the past week, a fine looking gentleman in a military uniform has been standing across the corner watching you when you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely and he watches you until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss, and gives you a little salute and walks away. You are one lucky lady.”

Tears of happiness poured down Susan’s cheeks. For although she couldn’t physically see him, she had always felt Mark’s presence. She was lucky, so lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift she didn’t need to see to believe – the gift of love that can bring light where there had been darkness.

This touching story has me wondering if we aren’t sometimes all like this blind woman? We feel alone, struggling to go about our life, meanwhile we are watched over, protected and held without being aware of it. We are, in fact, safe and abundant beyond our wildest imagination. There is an abundance of love and support—if we could just see it. What if we opened our hearts and looked around to notice the fullness and abundance in our life with gratitude.

Thanksgiving - Happy Thanksgiving 3

If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog.

All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field on the left side of the bar. Thank you for your support!

Angelika,

905-286-9466,

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

“Good night, John Boy!” – What is Family?

Do you remember the television show “The Waltons”? I know it’s a rather old show, which launched in 1972. It was one of the few TV shows I was allowed to watch as a child. I loved the family support the characters extended to each other and it really touched my heart how each episode ended. You saw their house in the dark, the Walton family with their seven kids and two grandparents went to bed, one light after the next was turned off, and they all said “Good night” to each other. “Good night, Mama,” “Good night, Daddy,” Good night, children!” “Good night, John Boy!”

Over the last six weeks, I have been contemplating the question of what “family” really means. What constitutes family and how do families cope with things?

Waltons 1

There is, of course, the ideal of the “picture book perfect family,” like the Waltons. We probably all carry that family archetype around in our mind. But let’s get real. It is 2017, not the 1930’s, and the reality is that there are more and more blended families. We are faced with more complicated family dynamics, other challenges, and different conflicts than the Waltons would have ever dreamed of. In today’s world, family set-ups change constantly. Separations and divorces occur and new unions, for example second or third marriages, are formed. Custody arrangements change, or children get older and move out. With each stage in life, energetic dynamics are transformed. Families even change temporarily, as we have experienced this summer.

For the last six weeks, my 16-year-old daughter has been living and working in Quebec. Meanwhile, we had a 17-year-old exchange student from Quebec staying with us. Just like our daughter in Quebec, he had to adapt to a completely new environment, a different language, his summer job in English, and many new impressions and events each day. They both impressed us tremendously with their openness and courage.

We also had to adapt as a family and understand cultural differences and differences in communication styles. Within the first weekend, our “exchange son” had captured both our hearts with his awareness and sensitivity. A bass guitar major for the last six years, he brought music into our house and many interesting conversations. He wanted to get to know both of us and made the effort to connect right from the start. Very observant and mature in his communication skills—despite the language challenges—we felt from the first moment on that we “lucked out” with this amazing summer guest.

Sounds like the “honeymoon”? It was. Ten days into his stay, the first challenges naturally arose which we had to work through together. Just as in a blended family, there were different values, other rituals and new ways of doing things. From home, he was used to coming and going spontaneously, unaware that over here in his host family, everybody else had adjusted their schedule to his to spend some quality time together. He was not used to communicating when plans that he had made were changing, or accustomed to keeping each other informed by text. The curfew put in place by the exchange program was initially looked upon by him and other French students as a suggestion, and the concept that parents might worry until the young people are back home safely did not occur to the students.

Having grown up in an all-girls household and having only parented girls, I was expecting that familiar communication of sharing your experiences and feelings, and expressing appreciation for each other on a daily basis. I read one syllable answers to questions and his lack of planning as a lack of consideration and lack of appreciation. He read our questions, responses to his behaviour and different rules as overprotection and judgement. The more he felt “not good enough” and “wrong,” the less he wanted to communicate. When we feel blamed, we sometimes just want to run and avoid an unpleasant talk. That is a human response. It took a change in approach—a “tough love” tone—for him to wake up.

Good Night, John Boy 0

We are so extremely proud of this young man for taking responsibility for his side of the misunderstandings and for being open to hear our explanations and apologies where we had made him feel judged as “wrong”. After this talk, we gained a tremendous understanding for each other. Our communication improved greatly, and we were able to see each other’s dissimilarity as just different instead of wrong or rude. We were able to focus on the similarities and the efforts made by everybody and express more appreciation towards each other.

Now, almost at the end of his stay, we are truly sad to see him go. There is no question in our minds and hearts that we will stay in touch with him, just as my daughter will continue the connection with her loving and truly amazing host family.

This exchange experience had me contemplating the question, “What is family”? What is it that the Waltons have that can be still found—or be missing—today in our modern families?

For me, it boils down to the wisdom that as a family you are stronger. What is good for one member of the family is good for all. You don’t give up on each other, but you talk through challenges and you grow from sharing your feelings and thoughts. You learn about the feelings, experiences and triggers the other family members have. From that place of greater understanding, you take responsibility for your part in a regretful interaction and create compromises together. Or, as a friend of mine said a few weeks ago when we spoke about issues with her step-son, “Shit happens in families, but as a family you work through this shit together!”

Good night, John Boy 1

Unfortunately, in her case, the mother of my friend’s teenage step-son is sheltering him from having to take responsibility for a big screw-up. She is depriving the father and his family from having the opportunity to work through things together as a family unit. Instead of trusting her son that he is old enough at 17 to work through a conflict to which he contributed, she is doing him a disservice by letting him hide behind her apron. Wanting to be the more beloved parent can leave us very short-sighted in terms of what beliefs and coping strategies we teach our children.

A family unit can only function if our feelings and needs are not swept under the carpet but rather are processed. Without the willingness to be vulnerable and discover what is going on underneath the feelings of irritation or anger we might be experiencing, we can’t move out of a stuck state. By not working through things as a family, we are making a choice to carry anger, resentment and blame with us. Sometimes it is the parent generation who is not willing to communicate openly and honestly, at other times it’s the young generation feeling unable to express themselves. Often the unsuccessful communication goes both ways. However, only when we take responsibility for our feelings, words and actions, can we grow as individuals as well as families.

Good night, John Boy 2

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika, Belief Change & Relationship Coach

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

One way of working on your relationships is the Relationship Energetics Workshop coming up this fall.  For more course information please click here.

The Four Pillars of Shared Meaning in Our Marriage or Partnership

Is our love relationship or marriage just about raising kids, splitting chores, and making love, or is there more? What about the spiritual dimension of creating an inner life or inner culture together?

Usually, we think of culture in terms of large ethnic groups or even countries. Within those macro-cultures, each couple and each family creates their own mirco-culture. These smaller units also have their customs, rituals and stories or myths about what it means to be part of their group.

In order to create shared meaning, Drs John and Julie Gottman name four pillars to build a solid relationship on. These four pillars allow the couple a shared sense of meaning. With this shared culture, conflict is much less intense and perpetual problems are less likely to lead to gridlock.

pillar_sky_one

PILLAR ONE: Rituals of Connection

Powerful antidotes to disconnection are rituals with your spouse and children—together and separately. A ritual is a structured event or routine that you enjoy together. Such rituals include

  • rituals of communication like talking over dinner or the stress reducing conversation
  • celebration rituals, like birthdays, holidays or anniversaries
  • rituals around recreation like repeating weekend or seasonal activities, and vacation times together
  • sexual rituals, like initiating lovemaking
  • rituals around everyday living, like start-of-day rituals, end-of-day reunions, bedtime routines or dealing with illness

 

PILLAR TWO: Support for Each Other’s Roles

We all play different roles. We are not just partners, but also parents, children to our own parents, siblings, friends, and of course we take on professional roles as well. Our perspective on our own roles, and our partner’s view of them, can either add to the meaningfulness or create tension and disharmony.

Dissimilar perspectives on what the role of the husband/wife is, different views on parenting, and which kind of interactions with parents, siblings and friends are appropriate, can all contribute to conflict. Our views and our partner’s views on what it means to work and the significance we attach to our own work can either deepen our sense of connection or create tension.

It is important to speak about and understand what the different roles mean to each partner. Even if we do not agree with each other 100%, we can reach a consensus if we know what is significant to the other.

heart-sky-door-cropped

 

PILLAR THREE: Shared Goals

Part of what makes life meaningful is the goals we work towards. No relationship stands on solid ground without shared goals of some kind. These are some useful questions to pursue.

  • Do we value each other’s accomplishments and honour each other’s personal goals unrelated to our relationship?
  • Do we share the same goals for our children, our life in general, our financial future and our old age?
  • Are our life dreams similar or compatible? If they are not identical, do we find ways to honour them?

 

Gottman-quote

 

PILLAR FOUR: Shared Values and Symbols

Values and beliefs form the final pillar of shared meaning. They are sometimes represented by symbols. Such shared philosophies are around

  • love and trust
  • the importance of family
  • spiritual beliefs
  • the role of sex in the relationship
  • the importance and meaning of money and possessions
  • the importance of education
  • similar dreams about retirement and old age
  • the role of fun, play, adventure and connection with nature
  • similar values around personal freedom, autonomy and interdependence
  • sharing power in the relationship.

 

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika, Belief Change and Relationship Coach

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Hello, Old Pal Anxiety!

Listen to this blog as a podcast here, or read it below!

Ingrid has colitis and other health challenges; the unpredictability of her physical issues gives her anxiety. Margaret has a fear of flying which has gotten progressively worse; due to her anxiety she has not stepped foot on a plane in years. Peter is a widower and single dad with three daughters; the oldest one has anorexia and he is experiencing great anxiety regarding her well-being, as well as her sister’s. The two teenagers are both plagued by anxiety as well.

Anxiety is a more and more prevailing challenge for many people. One in five Canadians has a mild to severe mood or anxiety disorder. Anxiety is especially on the rise among children and teens. It is a continuously growing concern at any age. What is happening in our brains and how can we address this issue?

To understand how our brains function, we need to remember that for our ancestors, negative experiences had more impact for their survival than positive ones. They needed to remember their painful or dangerous experiences so they would not repeat them, in order to survive. Our brain is still wired that way. Our brains evolved with a “negativity bias” (Rick Hansen). In general, we remember negative experiences more easily, unless we really focus on the positive ones and take them in deeply. That is like a “learning disability” and traps us in conflict. So, it does not help at all to tell somebody who is worrying or has anxiety to think positively.

Anxiety - time

The experience of uncertainty which creates anxiety comes from the fact that we can make representations of time. We structure our experiences into past, present and future. The ability to analyze the past and think ahead to the future is part of the human survival kit. We are supposed to learn from the past, be very awake and alert in the present and make sure we are safe in the future. Unfortunately, our ability to evaluate future risks is only based on a few facts and our left brain fills the gaps between those facts in with a story. Depending on which subconscious beliefs we have about ourselves and the world, this story our left brain makes up is either a supportive one or a limiting and fear-inducing one. In the case of anxiety, our left brain has created a fear narrative.

Mark Twain says it humorously:Anxiety - Mark Twain

Most thoughts that makes us anxious are thoughts about the future, a future that generally never happens like we imagine. That is why mindfulness and staying in the present moment helps to train the brain to stay focused on the here and now. The present is all that is real. Therefore, mindfulness alone can already help with anxiety.

We have also been trained to avoid unpleasant emotions, to push them down and not feel them. So naturally, we don’t want to feel anxiety. However, our attempt to push unpleasant feelings down, keeps the anxiety going. The attempt to make anxiety go away is what traps us in it, not the anxiety itself. Instead of putting all our energy towards avoiding the anxiety and trying to get rid of it, we can learn to be with it and ride it out.

It is an ancient Buddhist practice to stay with the feeling that arises. So when fear or dread arises, we can welcome it into our heart and stay with it until it has moved through us. Greet the anxiety like an old friend, “Hello, my friend. I know you. You are my old pal fear. Welcome back.” Then keep breathing all the way into your belly, long deep and complete breaths, letting your belly expand on the inhale, and become smaller on the exhale. Simply being with the fear allows it to come and go like all other mental content.

meditation-monk

Of course, mindfulness and being with the feeling requires practice, like everything else in life. When we say, “I have tried that mindfulness thing, it doesn’t work” it’s like saying “I have tried playing the piano, it does not work”.

Often we believe uncertainty is the problem to be solved. “If I could just control my physical body”, or “If I could just have the guarantee that there will be no turbulence”, or “If I just knew whether I will pass my exam or not”, or “If I just knew that my child will be alright in the future”.

Uncertainty is not a problem to solve. A much more useful approach is to rest in the uncertainty and experience it as a sanctuary of possibilities. When we are emotionally in a place to create a positive influence or make choices, we end up being more comfortable with the uncertainty of a situation and, in the end, are more in control.

A situation of suffering and uncertainty can challenge our whole identity. Being sick might challenge my identity to be a productive and capable human. A fear or phobia might challenge my identity as a rational adult or spiritual person. A crisis with my child might challenge my identity as a good parent.

We first of all need to remember that we still are who we always were. In fact, we are everything. We are capable and rational and spiritual and a good parent. We are just having the experience of a hugely challenging situation. Because it is unpleasant to feel the pain, disappointment, shame, anger, fear or other emotion, we seek control. If we instead acknowledge the painful feelings, we can shift into a place of self-compassion. We can then move from attempting to gain control to choice.

We can always ask “What can I choose? What can I bring to this situation? Courage? Trust? Love? Who do I want to be in this situation? And how do I want to feel?” The answer might be “I want to feel less alone and therefore I reach out for support to address this health crisis” or “I want to be present and calm on the airplane and trust that I am safe in the Universe” or “I want to be compassionate and loving with my struggling child”.

Anxiety - choices

 

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Angelika, Belief Change Coach

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

You can also join me on this meditation to ask ourselves

what we can choose in a current anxiety provoking situation:

Your Mother’s Story

I was flipping through the birthday calendar which my girls made for me last year for Mother’s day and which is filled with quotes about mothers, when my eye got caught on a particular quote:

Mother's Story - There is a story

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begins.”

Mitch Albom

 

I have been reading a fascinating book by Bryan Sykes called “The Seven Daughters of Eve”. In his book, Sykes, who is a leading DNA scientist, gives a report of his research into a specific gene, which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line. After examining thousands of DNA sequences from all over the world, Sykes found that almost everyone of native European descent, wherever they may live throughout the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, seven “clan mother’s” who he calls the Seven Daughters of Eve.

His book is written almost like a mystery novel, but what really intrigued me was this idea itself: As Caucasians, we can all trace our history back to the woman who was our ancestor and lived 10,000 to 45,000 years ago.

Usually, we barely think back two or three generations. What is your mother’s story? And what is the story of your mother’s mother? Do you know it?

Mother's Story - book

My mother’s story is one of courage and new beginnings. She grew up during World War II, which pretty much robbed her of any care-free childhood. When she was 21, her mother died and soon after, she packed her suitcase to move to Spain. She learned Spanish and made Barcelona her new home. As a woman in the fifties, coming from a working class background, she never had the privilege of a higher education, yet she made her way in life, working in a bank and later on as a secretary. If she wanted something, she set her mind to it and made it happen. When she was in her early thirties, she set out for yet another adventure, accepting a job in Liberia, Africa where she met my father. Getting married and having children was another new start. And ten years later, she moved to Africa again with her husband and her daughters, this time Nigeria.

My mother’s story is also one of a lot of suppressed pain, grief and other painful emotions. She lost her own mother when she was young and never processed that loss. I hardly know anything about my grandmother’s story because my mother couldn’t speak about her without breaking down in tears. So I stopped asking. Due to all the unprocessed experiences, my mom struggled with addictions, with anorexia and alcohol. She had a hard time with getting older and with life slowing down. She didn’t do “calm” very well. Staying still and being present was “torture” for her. It must have scared her a lot to stop. She loved activity, like talking, laughing, dancing, exercising, playing sports and travelling. The ancestral healing process which Dhebi DeWitz describes in her book “The Messenger Within” is one way of bringing healing to previous generations.

Ruth Monrovia

My story begins when my mother was 37 years old. Back in the sixties, that was old to be a first time mother. She stayed active though, and always looked younger than she was. She was at times a bit overprotective, but she was present, taking on the unfamiliar role of the homemaker, and made the best out of what she felt was expected of her. She encouraged education and understood the longing to discover other horizons. When I moved to Malaysia in my late twenties, and to Canada in my early thirties, she was sad, but at the same time, completely supportive. She understood all about new beginnings.

For me, one way to honour my mom’s story is to encourage my own girls to embrace life to the fullest, to travel, to seize opportunities that come along, to be a master of their own destiny. That for me is a huge part of their grandmother’s legacy. I also believe another part of her legacy is for me and them to learn from her errors. My mom never had the opportunity to process her grief or learn how to address her emotions in a healthy way, to heal her pain. She searched for relief in distractions. Her granddaughters, on the other hand, have all the tools to live life more consciously and I am very grateful to say that they do.

Mother's Day card

 

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

If you are interested in grief recovery work, shadow work, belief changes or relationship coaching contact

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

Do not ask me not to feel!

Last week, I had the pleasure of seeing one of my daughters on stage as Marianne Dashwood in the play “Sense and Sensibility”, based on Jane Austin’s novel. It was an amazing performance, drawing you in with laughter and tears, and transporting you back to England in 1792.

The confining atmosphere of society gossip and the desperation of many of the female characters to need to make a good match leaves you with an eerie feeling. The necessity of marrying well is one of the central themes of the story. In Austen’s era, a woman’s survival depended on her ability to acquire a husband, if possible, an affluent one. The more manipulative and cunning women were often the ones who ended up winning this game for the wealthy spouses. Yet, the two main female characters, Elinor and Marianne, end up finding true love and happiness without manipulation.

Sense and Sensibility, sisters and beaus

Performance and photography by Cawthra Park Secondary School

I could muse on the Universal theme of being rejected in love, or the patriarchal society and how patriarchal beliefs still affect us at a subconscious level today. However, what fascinates me most is the relationship of the two eldest Dashwood sisters. In the development of the story, the friendships of the sisters and what they learn from each other is at least as important as their relationships with their love interests.

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are complete opposites. Every female reader or audience member can identify with either the older one or the younger one. They are a perfect example for how siblings carry each others shadow traits. Elinor is all “sense” and reason, while Marianne represents “sensibility” and feelings. Elinor makes cautious decisions based on rational considerations, on what is prudent and proper, while Marianne lives life impulsively and on an emotional roller coaster of extreme highs and lows, being guided by her feelings alone.

Sense and Sensibility, Elinor

Neither one of them is “whole”, as they have disowned the opposite energy represented by their sister. Just as Marianne needs to learn to adopt some of Elinor’s restraint and not to wear all her feelings on her sleeve, Elinor can learn to express her deeper emotions, warmth and spontaneity more.

We all have different primary personality parts and other more disowned parts or sub-personalities. As we witness Marianne’s impulsiveness which throws all caution or restraint to the wind, we recognize that part in all of us. We might anticipate and fear disaster for her as the story unfolds. We feel disappointment and sorrow when her love relationship with John Willoughby does not unfold as she anticipated.

Sense and Sensibility, Marianne

Marianne’s sorrow is frightening to Elinor, who just wants her sister to stop sobbing and to compose herself. But Marianne cannot help but live life from her primary self of passion. She exclaims, “Leave me, hate me, forget me, but do not ask me not to feel!” After almost dying from a serious fever and her “broken heart”, Marianne eventually learns to appreciate the value of a quieter and less glamorous admirer in the older Colonel Brandon. She begins to embrace the more level-headed energy which Elinor has been mirroring for her. She also has to forgive John Willoughby for breaking her heart and let go of the past to move forward with the Colonel, the better man.

Sense and Sensibility, Marianne sick

The story invites us to examine where in our lives we are out of balance between our rational and emotional sides, between caution and impulsiveness, between wearing a mask of civility and being our spontaneous and honest self. The plot calls us to consider how we show up in our relationships: passive or active, reluctant or forward-moving, polite or authentic. We are also encouraged to examine if we are stuck in the past and if we need to forgive somebody and let go, in order to move forward in our relationships.

We all grow up identifying with certain traits or parts in us and rejecting others. Jane Austin’s tale invites us to discover what we have disowned which might be useful to us. Accepting the ambivalence and moving beyond dualistic thinking of right and wrong, black and white, involves re-conceptualizing who we think we are and opening up to greater wholeness of our deeper selves.

What traits do you identify with and which opposite traits or shadows have you perhaps disowned? Do you feel judgment towards people who display what you have rejected for yourself? How does this affect you in your life or hold you back in your relationships?

Shadow work is one of the techniques I use as a Life Coach. If you are curious to find out more, contact me for a FREE phone consultation.

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

You can also check the “Upcoming Workshops” schedule for the next four-day Shadow Energetics training or contact me for individual sessions.

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

An Unusual Anniversary

Today is an unusual anniversary for me. A year ago today, I fractured both ankles. For six weeks following, both my legs were in casts. I was first bound to my bed and then to a wheelchair until I had learned to walk again. It was one of those experiences that give you a completely different perspective on life, on yourself and on others.

IMG_4327

A year later, I hope I have discovered all the messages this incident had for me. I have written and shared many of the insights. There were lessons around being caught in love and caring when we fall , living in the now, vulnerability versus autonomy, gratitude and heart coherence, empowerment, and taking care of one’s needs. So-called accidents are not coincidences. Their timing and exact details happen for a reason. We have to ask, what does the injury or illness prevent us from doing; what does it allow us to do? In what way is our body speaking our mind? Which of our needs have we not been taking care of?

The end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 was a time of many changes for me. My oldest daughter was moving out, which shifted the family dynamics. There was also a lot of disruption and emotional upheaval stirred up in our core family through our extended family.  On top of that, some professional changes were unfolding. I had moments of confusion about where I was going and how to meet everybody’s needs. “What ifs…” came up and the question of “Who am I in the different roles that I am playing?”

The accident happened just a few weeks after I taught the Shadow Energetics workshop, created by my friend Darryl, for the first time on my own. I originally felt that I had to fill big shoes, as Darryl is a powerful teacher with a catching laugh and fabulous sense of humour. I have meanwhile taught the four-day workshop—or part of it—several times and have learned not to fill his shoes but my own. As much as the processes I am teaching have remained the same, the class is filled with my stories, my own sense of humour, and completely new media to present everything differently.

With some of the other lessons, I took my sweet time to learn them fully, for example the lesson of noticing when we over-function for others and thus end up feeling unappreciated. A clear reminder of that came up for me around Christmas. We can’t please everybody. In fact, there are people who never can be pleased because they feel so deeply unlovable that there is nothing anybody else can say or do to change this. They are insistent on telling their victim stories, which give them attention and are oblivious of how they affect others. All we can do is send them love from a distance and allow our own life to be in balance.

Balance is something

Other lessons—like fully living in the present and enjoying each moment—I am certain will come back time and again. Life is this wonderful balance of looking ahead to the future and co-creating our tomorrow but still living right now free of cares, just connecting to our true essence.

When I come across somebody in a wheelchair or a walker, I make an extra effort to connect. Being physically disabled can be a life of looking in from the fringe and can feel quite lonely. Even with a temporary disability, I was treated differently; people avoided looking at me and even spoke to the person pushing the wheelchair rather than me. I can only imagine how challenging this must be for others in a more extended situation than mine. Every person, who smiled at me or talked to me while I was out and about in the wheelchair made my day.

What remains for me a year later is a deep sense of gratitude for my amazing family, for my body which carries me so well through life and a huge joy at being able to enjoy this spring time outside. I watch each flower blooming, each bud sprouting on the trees with true delight. Here is another spring, another round to learn and grow and be present with each glorious moment that unfolds.

IMG_7743

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

Once Upon a Time There Was An Evil Queen

“I’m still what’s inside of you. I’m all you’ll ever be,” says the Evil Queen, smirking at the woman in front of her.

Regina, the modern counterpart of the Evil Queen, is facing her darkness, about to kill her. Characteristic for this popular TV series, she ties the Queen up with a magic spell, reaches into the chest of the evil woman and rips out her heart.

“I hate you,” snarls the Evil Queen.

Regina is looking down at the black heart beating in her hand. She is about to kill her dark shadow side by squashing the heart, but then she hesitates.

She replies, “But I don’t. Not anymore… I am going to choose love over hate.”

She pulls out her own heart and melts the two for a moment. When she pulls them apart again, the dark heart has become lighter, and the light one now has traces of darkness. She puts both hearts back in their chests.

“I gave you some of my love… in return I am taking back some of your darkness, our darkness”, she explains.

The Evil queen looks stunned. “Why?” she inquires.

Regina answers calmly, “You are part of me and I am part of you.—And now I love myself!”

“Once Upon a Time” is a TV series about fairy tale characters who end up in our modern world and travel between realms, different magical realms and the contemporary world. One of the main characters is the Evil Queen from the fairy tale Snow White. At the beginning of this series, this Evil Queen, Regina, cast a curse which traps all the fairy tale characters, frozen in time, and brings them into our modern world. Different interactions between good and evil unfold throughout the six seasons.

Remarkable about this series is that no evil character is purely evil. Everybody demonstrates good and bad sides and even the antagonists change and develop. The viewer gets insights into how and why they have became so dark in the first place. There usually is some pain, hurt and lack of love behind their darkness.

Regina develops into a loving person in the contemporary world, yet her original character from fairy tale land remains dark. In the sixth season, it comes to the above described showdown between the modern Regina and her dark counterpart, the Queen. This showdown scene is the perfect example of how we are all facing our shadow selves and how we often hate that shadow. Instead of killing it and trying to get rid of everything that we have learned to believe is bad or wrong about us, we can embrace those shadow traits and end up actually loving ourselves the way we truly are.

Originally, the Evil Queen, who experienced a lot of personal pain and loss, trapped everybody in time to prevent all the fairly tale characters, especially Snow White, from getting their “happily ever after”. In the end, her modern counterpart, Regina, helps her to find her happy ending in Fairy Tale Land. The message being that everybody deserves to love him or herself and find that intimate connection with others.

IMG_7467

When we embrace our shadows we work towards a similar “happily ever after” in all our relationships. Integrating our shadows moves us into wholeness, into unconditional love of ourselves. We separate from the Inner Critic, the voice inside us that says there is something wrong with us for having a certain trait or behaving in a certain way. The more we separate from that judgemental voice, the easier it is to look into the mirror and say “I love myself.” By finding separation from the voice inside of us that says we need to hate our flaws and hide the way we truly are, we become gentle with ourselves and we can reconnect with our Inner Child. When we connect with that vulnerable part inside, we find our joy, our childlike wonder, our magic, our curiosity, our imagination, our creativity, our playfulness, and our intimacy.

As we accept all traits inside us, we can accept them in others. We release our judgments and projections. We develop a natural compassion towards others. We can accept other people more and more the way they are. When others feel our love and acceptance, it gives them permission to be their authentic selves. They feel safe because they will not be found wrong by us. Their protective walls come down and their masks come off. The result is the mutual ability to live loving and authentic relationships with each other.

couple, bike, love

Check the Upcoming Workshops schedule for the next four-day Shadow Energetics training or contact me for individual sessions.

Angelika, 905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

If you are enjoying my articles, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

 

Constructive Disagreements in Relationships – PART ONE And Baby Makes Three

We all know that life changing events like death, divorce, retirement, a job loss or major health issues cause stress. These major life changing events go hand in hand with loss and grief. What we often forget is that positive life changing events like getting married and having a baby can also bring on a crisis. According to a study by E.E. LeMasters in the 1950’s, 83% of couples go through a moderate to severe crisis when they become parents for the first time. Other studies in the 1980s have confirmed his findings.

Both parents go through major changes in their identities, which can be challenging and overwhelming. New fears might come up and our values and goals in life can change. Many parents want to be better at parenting in some way or another than their own parents. Mothers often become very involved with their babies. The energy which used to be solely directed towards their partner is now redirected towards the child. The dad can feel left out and depending on his own childhood experiences and wounds, feel unimportant, rejected and abandoned. Often both parents end up feeling unappreciated. Having a new baby brings lots of changes and challenges. When we are so busy, we forget to say “thank you” and “I am so proud of you”, and we forget to ask “How was your day?”

gottman-saying-thank-you

When we are sleep deprived for a long time, we feel stressed and can also get mildly depressed. Sleep deprivation also makes our daily hassles seem more intense. New parents tend to feel more emotional and more irritable. The frequency and intensity of relationship conflicts and fights increase.

The greatest gift parents can give their baby is a happy and strong relationship between the two of them. What the child needs most of all, is for their parents to feel supported by each other and safe in their relationship. It makes the child feel safe in return. The blood pressure of babies rises when they witness their parents fighting and signs of depression in parents also have effects on the babies. “In the first three years of life, fundamental neural processes are being laid down that have to do with the infant’s ability to self-soothe, focus attention, trust in love and nurturance of his parents, and emotionally attach to his mother and father.” (Gottman, And Baby Makes Three)

Keep your fights constructive and respectful. Be gentle with each other and take responsibility for your part without being defensive. Listen and acknowledge your partner’s view. Children need to learn how to communicate their needs and feelings successfully and that their emotions matter to others. When you work on how you communicate, you can model successful interactions for your child. Your child will then develop the neural network for school achievement, healthy relationships and a future happy life.

If you have been struggling with constructive disagreements so far, don’t blame yourself. Let the past go and focus on the now. It is never too late to shift and change and thus show your child how we can all interact differently.

 

  1. Softer Start Ups

The start up is how we bring up an issue with our partner. 96% of the time, the start-up of a conversation determines how a conflict conversation develops. When we introduce an issue with a harsh start up—for example with blame or criticism—the likelihood that the other partner gets defensive right away is much higher. We need to be aware of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stone-walling. They destroy our relationships. A complaint, on the other hand, starts with neutrally describing the situation, how we feel about it, what need we have, and ideally, it includes a request.

gottman-harsh-start-up-2

 

Here are some examples based on those by Julie Schwartz Gottman and John Gottman.

Harsh Start-Up: You don’t care about me (blame). You only care about yourself (criticism). You are just wrapped up in your own little world, with your face stuck in that newspaper (contempt and criticism).

Softened Start-Up: When you read the newspaper at dinner and you are not talking to me, I feel pretty upset. I miss talking to you and connecting with you. Can you ask me how my day was or tell me how yours was?

Harsh Start-Up: You think I’m ugly, don’t you? You want someone skinny, like the girl you were eyeing yesterday (blame and criticism). I know I am heavy, but so what? I just had a baby.

Softened Start-Up: I am worried that I am not sexy enough for you now that my body has changed. We are going to this party and I have put on this fancy dress and it is way too tight. I feel insecure and I would really like some compliments from you right now.

 

  1. Accept Your Partners Influence

In any argument, there is no objective truth. There are always two subjective realities, ours and our partner’s. When we insist that our perception is the only one that’s right and our partner’s perception is wrong, we end up in a power struggle in which we both lose. Instead of focusing on persuading your partner that you are right, acknowledge that there are two sides to every fight and strive to understand his or her point of view. Open-ended questions invite your partner to share more, for example “What makes this so important to you?” Step into your partner’s shoes for a moment and view the issue from your partner’s eyes to see why it makes some sense to have those feelings. Restate your partner’s point of view and validate it. When we accept our partner’s influence, we are honouring our partner as someone who is intelligent and well intentioned.

Gottman - understanding partner's position.jpg

 

  1. Calm Your Conflicts

When one or both partners get flooded and go into a state of DPA (diffuse physiological arousal), also known as “fight or flight”, it is time for a break. When we are in DPA, our hearing is compromised. Surges of adrenaline give us “tunnel vision”. We are not able to be compassionate or to be creative and problem solve. We see danger lurking and our partner feels like an enemy.

We need to request to halt the talk. When we tell our partner how long the break is going to last and when we intend to come back and resume talking, they will be more receptive. A break should last at least 25-30 minutes to give us adequate time for our heartbeat to slow down and for the adrenaline and cortisol levels in the body to decrease. At the very most, a break should last one day or otherwise it can feel to our partner as if we are avoiding the talk or are trying to passive-aggressively punish them.

gottman-30-min-break

 

During the break, anything that helps us physically soothe ourselves is a good idea: going for a walk, meditating, playing the piano, petting the dog, reading a book or anything else that is personally comforting to us. Ideally, you can combine deep breathing with a progressive muscle relaxation and with guided imagery. To learn how to do this, contact me.

 

  1. Compromise

When we are relaxed and able to express our feelings and needs, we can communicate successfully about problems. Part of successful problem solving is working out compromises. First, define the most minimal core area of need which each of you cannot give up on. What is your core need? Then define areas of greater flexibility, for example in regards to when and how you each get what you need. Third, come up with a temporary compromise.

 

Gottman - repair attempts.jpg

 

  1. Make Repairs

For a relationship to thrive the partners need to make and accept each other’s repair attempts. There is no right or wrong way to make a repair but it has to be made by one partner and heard by the other partner. Repairs can be words of apology, smiles, a joke or even a goofy face. Some examples of possible repair statements are:

  • I am sorry. I overreacted.
  • I might be wrong here.
  • I really blew this one.
  • Can we “rewind”? Let’s start over.
  • Let me try again.
  • I apologize. I got really triggered.
  • That must have really hurt your feelings.
  • I need to calm down. Can we please take a break and continue talking in 30 minutes?
  • That hurt my feelings.
  • Tell me you love me.
  • Can I have a kiss?
  • I am feeling unappreciated / sad / misunderstood.
  • I feel defensive. Can you perhaps rephrase that?
  • Please don’t withdraw.
  • I know this isn’t your fault.
  • Let’s compromise here.
  • I love you. Let’s work on this.

 

If you don’t want to miss part two of this article about perpetual problems in relationships, you can follow Greendoor to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to click the “follow” button in the right-hand corner of your screen.

Angelika

Relationship Coaching and Belief Changes

905-286-9466, greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca