A New Language

by Julie Davis Tuesday, September 30, 2014

At the dinner table, we said, “Hey, pass the stew,” and “Give me the gravy when you’re done.”  We didn’t say “Please” and we didn’t say “Thank you.”  We talked over each other and cut each other off.  Conversations were loud and there was a lot of joking and making fun of each other. 

My first dinner date with my future husband was almost the last (I found out years later…).

At his dinner table, they said, “Please, when you can, pass the stew.  Thank you.  Are you sure you are done?” and “Would you like more? Can I get you anything?  I’m fine.  Thank you.  Please take the last roll.”  They talked in turn and listened patiently.  Conversations were soft and light – usually about something outside of the room. 

My language was interpreted initially as rude and crude.  His language was boring and superficial to me.  It’s amazing we had a second date!

But we took the time to ask questions and discovered that the language was different but the intention the same.  We both wanted to be heard and understood and were interested in hearing and understanding each other.  So we created our own language.  He became bolder in expressing raw thoughts and feelings and I became softer and added “Please” and “Thank you” to my vocabulary.

What language is comfortable for you?  If you feel “in conflict” with someone (child, boss, spouse, employee, friend, etc) take a moment to consider:

This person isn’t purposefully rude/avoidant/loud/dismissive/disrespectful; he/she just speaks a different language.  Underneath this language is someone wanting to be heard and understood and accepted. 

If this person is interested (it takes two to communicate and grow closer) then initiate a discussion on how YOU can learn his/her language:

What do I say that makes you feel closer to/more distant from me?

What can I say that would make you feel closer to me?

Listen to the answers. Say “Thank-you.” Work together. Create a new language that works for both of you.

Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keep people stuck (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com).  She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.juliedavismft.com).  Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service.  Send “subscribe” in subject line to: julie@juliedavismft.com.  Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California; New York), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com).  704-807-1101.

Tags:

Couples | Intimacy | marriage | Marriage and Family Therapy | Self-Awareness | Social Work | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy

Black and White Thinking

by Julie Davis Sunday, September 21, 2014

Believing “black and white” (always/never/all/nothing) thoughts about yourself and others can trigger feelings and actions that harm health, relationships, productivity, and emotional stability: 

Belief

Feeling

Action

I always screw up

Ashamed, angry, hopeless, defeated

Beat self up, medicate,   screw up more, quit,       isolate

He never helps around the house

Angry, resentful, helpless, victim,

Nag, control, complain,       fix, explain, defend, manipulate, fight

All the good jobs are taken

Hopeless, scared, angry

Give up, settle,         medicate, complain

There’s nothing I can do about it

Powerless, afraid, angry

Give in, quit, seethe,        hide,

Over time, black and white thinking can lead to depression, obsessions, addiction, panic, rage, and trauma.  Thus, it is important to “hold every thought captive!” This week, I invite you to catch your black/white thinking and reframe it in a way that leaves you feeling calm, open, flexible:

Absolute

Reframe

Feeling

Action

I always screw up

Sometimes I blow it. 

Humble, interested, motivated

Improve skills,     try again.

He never helps around the house

Sometimes he forgets/puts things off. 

Curious, collaborative

Ask for clarity; discuss and       set  boundaries.

All the good jobs are taken

Many good jobs are taken.   

Disappointed yet determined, creative

Keep looking.     Ask for help.

There’s nothing I can do about it

There is something I can do. 

Curious, creative, collaborative

Get wise advice. Ask for help. 

Julie Davis uncovers and clears up deeply embedded beliefs and unresolved emotions that keep people stuck (www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com).  She also coaches people how to stay clear, calm and strategic in everyday life with healthy ways of thinking, feeling and behaving (www.juliedavismft.com).  Get free weekly insight and guidance by joining Julie’s Tuesday Email service.  Send “subscribe” in subject line to: julie@juliedavismft.com.  Julie is a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (North Carolina, California; New York – pending), Board Certified Hypnotherapist, and New Life Network Christian Counselor (www.newlife.com).  704-807-1101.

 

Trauma, Betrayal & Intimacy

by Gil Shepard Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Most people crave intimacy. Many wars have been fought to get it. 

But traumatic events can create confusion about whether intimacy is even desirable. It is true that all of us have a natural urge to be close, to share and to be able to trust another person. This is even true in the animal kingdom. I watch turkey chicks follow their mother in a row. I have seen many UTube videos of unlikely animals joining each other; natural enemies, like a cat and a parakeet, an elephant and a dog, or a lion and a baby gazelle become inseparable companions when these animals have lost a parent.

The trauma of betrayal by a loved one or spouse often undermines the very ability to trust. This is even more devastating if the betrayer was a parent and the betrayed is an infant or a little child who is sexually abused, beaten or neglected. This is betrayal because a child's natural trust in his parents is betrayed. The parent does not protect the child but instead hurts the child. This is deep betrayal.

On top of that the infant is helpless and knows it. She can’t fix burning from wet diapers or pain from gas. She knows she is helpless and needs others to help her. That desperate cry that pierces our ears says she is in serious distress. This is very different from loud or angry crying, which says "I need help and I have a right to it." That is the sign of a healthy child.

The piercing cry says “I am in a panic and fear abandonment and death. I need help. NOW!”  If help does not come for a long time the infant may become silent. This may mean the pain is so great he dissociates or leaves his body. This is a natural way to avoid pain. This pain can come from not having loving contact it needs. Babies died in the Second World War when they were well fed but not emotionally nourished.

A dear friend of mine I’ll call Sue, told me that she remembered looking at her mother’s eyes when she was an infant, and no one was in there! Sue said, “My whole being shattered.” Her mother had a lot of trauma in her life and was “seriously spaced out.” Sue eventually did get the help she needed in her 60's and then blossomed wonderfully. 

When an infant repeatedly experiences abandonment or betrayal such as from being molested it learns not to trust. Without trust there cannot be intimacy. How can you be close to someone you cannot trust? We are born with the ability to trust. That does not have to be learned. Notice the loving flow between child and parent when children trust their parents. The children are totally natural and obviously feel safe. That is natural.

But we can learn not to trust. This can happen when an over wrought mother yells at a baby for crying, or worse hits and yells at her, “You are bad! Stop crying!” It happens from incest when the infant is overloaded with sensations it cannot handle. And it happens when parents do not protect their child from being molested by relatives and strangers, especially of that child fears telling her parents of the abuse.

The message the infant gets is “I am bad. I am not worth being cared for.” Sometimes an angry parent tells the baby just that! The impact of the parent's rage tells the child it can’t be itself or it may lose whatever caring the parent does give; food, shelter, clothing. The stakes are very high: Physical and emotional survival.  A rageful parent does not provide desperately needed nurturing nor is he or she likely to help a baby who hurts. The baby learns that it is bad in its being, otherwise why would the parent be angry? This is called shame.

Shame is feeling bad, no good, unworthy in the core of one’s being. A child who is shamed learns it cannot ask for help. It grows up learning not to let anyone know that it needs anything because to ask is likely to be further abused and rejected. He has learned he has no value.

 If you were such a child you would have learned to be independent, keeping your pain secretly deep inside. Eventually you became so used to this it became normal and you dis-associated from it.

But in a healthy relationship people feel pleasure in responding to each other’s needs. If you have dissociated from your needs how friends can help you? This is again the result of shame. You feel you are not worth receiving anything, that you have no needs and so you remain lonely.

Many clients have told me that their spouses or lovers should know what they want and what they are thinking. This is a residue from growing up shamed. “Love,” was only obtained if you could guess what your parents wanted and provided it for them. You have value only to serve your parents. If you don't you are shamed and may receive other forms of abuse. You need to be psychic in such a family just to survive! And you cannot need anything!

There is no parenting for a child in such a family. Needing to read people's minds seems normal for those brought up in such a family. But to anyone else this is obviously absurd and unhealthy.

In such a family it is shameful to ask for help or even to need help. If you are raised this way and meet someone who wants to help you then you may be so full of shame you cannot even admit you even have a need. That includes even the need to have a friend and not be lonely.

My friend Sue, after she healed, told me of one day when she was out with friends who were trying to decide where they wanted to eat for lunch. She spontaneously said, “I want to eat at such and such a place.” She shocked herself when she said this for she had never said such a thing before. She had never even known what she wanted before and suddenly she simply said it in a natural healthy way! Her trauma had been healed. And they all ate where she suggested!

Here is the dilemma in a nutshell: If you don’t ask, you are left empty, feeling abandoned as you were when you were a shamed child. You may not actually get rejected if you don’t ask, but you will feel abandoned and isolated. You can make yourself like a rock, but that is lonely and no fun. On the other hand if you acknowledge that you need love you feel like you are admitting you are worth-less, shame-full and without value. After all, that is what you were taught as a child. If people really loved you they should know you want their love and save you the humiliation of letting them know.

This painful knot can be resolved in therapy. Of course you may not trust your therapist very much at first either. Being able to trust is the root of the problem you may be seeking help for.  You simply need someone who can be with you as you struggle to overcome the shame that was laid on you in your childhood, WITHOUT FURTHER SHAMING YOU. Certain methods such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) may make this faster and easier. 

Essentially you need a therapist whom you can trust enough to begin this adventure of discovering who you really are and shed the shame you have felt all your life. Such a therapist needs to help you feel safe and show you acceptance and understanding so that you will not be re-shamed. Then your journey to wholeness can begin.

Gil Shepard MFT has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 35 years and has an office in Walnut Creek, California. He has helped many people who have been traumatized, shamed, molested and violated by parents and even groups of perpetrators. He is specially trained in treating people suffering from Trauma, PTSD and Dissociation, and is skilled in the use of both EMDR and EFT. You can reach him at 925-937-3337 or gilshep@pacbell.net.

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The Therapeutic Relationship and You

by Shelley Quinones Monday, September 8, 2014

The kids tell me what bugs them about each other, repeatedly. My spouse complains about work. Friends share about their current boyfriend. I listen to it all. But who listens, really listens to me? I try to speak up, but they talk over me, interrupt, or suddenly have to go do something.

What if there was someone who would give me undivided attention, be non-judgmental, and be on my side? Man that only exists in fairy tales.

No. That kind of relationship exists in real life. There are people, gifted people, trained to be therapists and counselors who are happy to come along side you and help you identify solutions to problems.

The therapeutic relationship is special, one based on teamwork where you share valuable memories and situations and the therapist provides wisdom and guidance. The relationship starts slow as you get to know each other then as you learn to trust your teammate, you share deeper and receive deeper insights. Before you know it, you feel better and are making choices to improve your life.

This relationship might seem one sided but you deserve to make an investment in yourself that will lead to an improved sense of value and contentment with your life.

Therapy doesn’t have to be forever. You can use it as a tool to help you over a difficult bump in the road or to spur you on to greatness. You can take the time you need to process your thoughts and feelings in a safe environment. It also doesn’t have to be murky and dark. Some therapists infuse lightness and humor to help get through weighty topics while still offering respect and kindness.

Therapy is an important and valuable opportunity to gain healing and define your life in new ways. Your therapist is waiting to hear from you.

Shelley Quinones is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is a Christian Therapist and has been in the helping field for over 23 years and Licensed for 11 of those. She has helped many people sort through depression, anxiety, and traumatic situations to find a renewed sense of peace and joy.

Tags:

Healing | Intimacy | Mental Health | Mood | Mood Booster | relationships, friendships | Self-Awareness | Social Work | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy

Adam and Eve

by Gilbert Bliss Wednesday, September 3, 2014

In my work with couples, I see how outside influences affect their perceptions of each other.  During the initial intense period of romance, these influences do not manifest themselves as they do later.  When couples give each other the permission to share a bed, many former parental admonitions are set aside.  In the freedom found in sexual and romantic expression, there is a delight in mutual personal discovery.

This energy is bound to ease and change over time, although some couples maintain it more readily than others.  Gradually, many couples start to view each other as someone who can help them solve some long-standing problem or maintain a "life position", which can take many forms, such as "You and me against the world", or to be the parent that they wished they had in their family of origin.  Such positions are a toxic recipe for misunderstanding, resentment or hostility, straining the relationship and sometimes breaking it up.  Sometimes there is the decision to have children to solve a problem by providing a different emphasis for the couple's attention.  This is unfair to children brought into such conditions and makes important decisions more difficult.

One of the most important conversations I have with couples is to invite them to think of themselves as Adam and Eve, with the opportunity to define themselves for themselves, without outside influence.  This is especially important as couples grapple with the expectations of family and friends as to what is truly important for their relationship.  Some couples are lucky to survive a wedding that was a showcase for the in-laws and the demands for grandchildren that follow. 

Aside from time coming to know yourself and what you want from life, a loving relationship can be an effective springboard to realize each other's dreams, both individual and mutual.  This can hardly be known if each member of the couple is trying to represent some ideal or expectation that has nothing to do with what they want for themselves and what they truly want for and from each other.  The concept of Adam and Eve applies to all kinds of partnerships, heterosexual or otherwise.

There are important conversations that must be brought forward, with nothing left unspoken.  That is the setting for psychotherapy, which should provide the open, accepting space where the noise from the "outside" is ratcheted down or eliminated.  There is no loneliness more intense than being part of a relationship that has lost its way.  The goal of psychotherapy in this case is clarity, a solid understanding that each member has of the other.  Through this process, a couple can reestablish that warm feeling they used to know when the other is in their presence and take control of their lives.

Gilbert Bliss is a Psychotherapist in private practice in Towson, Maryland.  His experience includes work with individuals, couples and families, and with children in bereavement.  His web site can be found at  www.gblisscounselor.com.    

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