Archive for August, 2012

An Invitation to Self Analysis: Want To?

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

     The Socratic axiom “The unexamined life is not worth living” means a lot to me personally and professionally. I like to know, truly know, who I am and who you are at the deepest level of existence. It is a worthwhile quest. Personal knowledge, awareness, is the first step to self improvement.  Periodic self evaluations are constructive to those who want to know themselves and challenge themselves to be the best they can be. Hopefully you are one of those types and, therefore, willing to do further self examination. If not, why not?

     I invite you to go through the following descriptors and give yourself a numerical rating between 0 – 100 with the highest number reflective of the extent that you are flush with that attribute.

INTELLIGENCE         ACHIEVEMENT-ORIENTED             HARDWORKING                  PLEASING

ASSERTIVE               LOVING                   CHARMING           CONFORMING              SENSUAL

METHODICAL          ATHLETIC             ELITIST                  REBELLIOUS                     SPOILED

HUGGER           CRITICAL OF OTHERS           BOSSY         FEMININE                MASCULINE

EASYGOING          DARING            RESPONSIBLE            IDEALISTIC              MATERIALISTIC   

FUN-LOVING                 DEMANDING                      CRITICAL OF SELF                    SOCIABLE

WITHDRAWN             SENSITIVE           SEXY            KIND HEARTED              NEGATIVE

OPTIMISTIC              ADVENTUROUS              FEARFUL       ANGRY               GUILT RIDDEN

     After you have finished these feel free to add other attributes that you feel are important. Perhaps, too, you may want to invite someone who knows you well to evaluate you on these items. And you could reciprocate (get even!).

     In conclusion, what deductions can you make from this exercise as to what kind of person you are? What ratings really feel good and help you realize what a special person you are? What ratings are an invitation to you to improve in certain areas? If you choose to make some changes in a given area, what might help you to do that?

     I compliment you for taking the time to do this.  Many people will glance over the items and move on without any personal reflection or rating. Glad you are on the journey of becoming your best self – a better way to live!

         “The unexamined life is not worth living”         Socrates

Do You Know What a “Conscious” Marriage Is? Want One? Components Are…

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

     On occasion you may be looking at various facets of your life. Your marriage, along with your health and finances, would hopefully be a priority in such an assessment. Are you in the marriage that you desire? How aware are you of the marriage you are in?  Do you think about it often or just block it out and go through the motions day after day?  Are you open to looking at your marriage?  If so, please continue.

     Please read each of the issues below and rate each one on a 1-10 scale. Ten is the highest.

1.  We give each other surprises

2.  We have fun regularly

3.  We support each other

4.  We are comfortable alone or together

5.  We take care of our bodies

6.  We are truthful with each other

7.  We travel well together

8.  We are sexually and emotionally faithful

9.  We have a satisfying and beautiful sex life

10. We touch each other’s body often

11. We are growing together spiritually

12. We parent our children well

13. We express appreciation and praise each other

14. We have secure and happy children

15. We share major family decisions

16. We make each other’s deepest needs a priority

17. We care for our relationship each day

18. We experience passion with each other

19. We communicate our feelings openly

20. We contain each other’s anger

21. We have daily private time

22. We feel safe with each other

23. We are financially secure

24. We exchange ideas and thoughts

25. We are reliable for each other

26. We resolve our differences/conflicts quickly and remain close

27. We support each other’s goals

28. We listen to each other’s feelings

Well, how did you come out?  If you are divorced currently, how do you think you and your ex did with these issues?

     This assessment is from the book GETTTING THE LOVE YOU WANT: A GUIDE FOR COUPLES by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.  Dr. Hendrix is very highly regarded in the relationship development field.  He writes about developing a “Conscious Marriage”. Such a marriage aims to lower one’s defenses and become an ally to one’s partner.  In such a process childhood wounds are healed and an intimate caring relationship is formed.

     It is the goal of the article and the above assessment to encourage you, Respected Reader, to look at the marriage you have and evaluate where improvement might be needed. And then, do something about it!  It is worth the effort.

Anger: Do You Have It Available? Is It an Asset or a Liability?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

     In most people minds anger is perceived as negative, unhealthy – something to be feared and avoided.  If people get angry they are automatically wrong.  Not totally true.

     There is an energy chart of emotions that guide our lives and elicit various behaviors.   The bottom step is fear.  You’ve heard the expression “frozen in fear”.  Fear shuts you down – limited energy is available.  Therefore, limited action of any sort can take place. 

     On the second step up is sadness/depression.  Again, there is limited energy available for effective action.  This person is just coping, surviving not thriving.

      Moving up the energy ladder is anger.  Anger has much more energy.  Anger is an adrenalin surge.  Anger activates.  The angry person does something.  The key here is what is the anger driven behavior?  Is it productive or destructive.

     Popular understanding characterizes anger as the “bad guy”. Anger hurts people. Anger is mean spirited.  True enough.  Anger also defends – oneself and another.  If a person is fearful or hurt anger can come to the rescue.  Anger has a power about itself.

     The key to using anger is that it be controlled and constructive, used for a good purpose. Anger differs from rage, which usually is out of control and destructive.  Rageful people are to be avoided.  They are dangerous.  The rager needs help. It is important for the rager to calm down, assess what has caused this intense emotion, and then shift to righteous anger, if needed, and constructively deal with the provocative issue. An example of this could be for a person to sit down and write why such intense feelings have arisen.  Often the time taken and the writing will calm the person down and elicit a more rational, non rageful, emotional and behavioral response.

     As I have written before, essentially there are two types of people with regard to emotional energy expenditure.  The emotionally retentive tends to have limited access to the emotion of anger. S/he holds most feelings in and then, occasionally, lets off steam with an emotional over reaction.  This type of person is often prone to fear and depression.  Some form of addictive unhealthy behavior usually is a part of this person’s make up. The emotionally expressive person usually has quick access to the emotion of anger. Anger protects the person from the negative debilitating emotions of fear and sadness.  Rarely does a person who has anger access get depressed.  They get there “junk” out, they “let go” of negative feelings.

     The bottom line here is that there is a place for anger in a healthy person’s emotional repertoire. A person who is not capable of anger is a weak and impotent person. Anger is a strength if used constructively. By that I mean to protect, defend and assert. (As an aside: it was anger that fueled Jesus’ behavior as he drove the money changers from the temple. He was protecting this holy place).

     May you have access to your anger and use it beneficially to make your world and those of others a safer, more secure and loving place. Such conditions are necessary prerequisites in allowing love to evolve. The emotional energy of love is the apex of the energy chart. May you enjoy experiencing the emotion of love more than any other lesser energized emotion!

             “The unexamined life is not worth living”    Socrates

Do You Know Your Capacity for Passionate Love? Your Reality Is?

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

     Love exists.   Love is positive and healthy.  Love connects.   Love unites. Love exists in many forms and relationships.  The focus here is on married love.

     Married people in love are happier and healthier than Single people. Married people live longer than Single people. Married people have lower rates of all types of mental illness and suicide. One caveat to the health factor; married people are fatter than Single people.

     Most love relationships begin with some degree of attraction and infatuation. The love is considered to be passionate. The chemical P.E.A.  rushes through the brain giving an adrenalin-like jolt. This intense state of passionate love is exciting. Couples yearn to be with each other. They touch hearts and bodies often.  They do thoughtful and romantic things for each other. This love is exciting!

     Alas, this type of love does not last.  The P.E.A. chemical extinguishes in two to three years usually, sometimes before that. The next state of a couple’s relationship is critical.  If the union continues to be loving and growthful the chemical constellation becomes endorphin driven. The intense passionate love is less present, but still can surface with a heightened intensity on occasion.  It is replaced by a comfortable feel good state.  The couple truly enjoys, cares for, and is still “in love” with each other.  Some writers call this stage a “companionate” love. If however, a couple does not continue to nurture the relationship, continuing to love each other, the relationship starts to fall apart. Dissolution of the relationship, “falling out of love” is painful and unhealthy for both individuals.

     The following behaviors are recommended for those who want to evolve into an intimate “companionate” marriage: Respecting, Trusting, Risking, Honoring, Sharing, Listening, Responding, Validating, Collaborating, Comforting, Supporting, Touching, Holding, Sensually Loving.

     Individuals vary as to the extent that they can be passionately in love with another. An interesting “thermometer” of passionate love has been developed by Hatfield and Sprecher. Would you like to explore your capacity in this regard? First, think of the person you love passionately now or someone you felt that way about in the past. Base your answer on when your feelings were most intense.

For each of the 15 sentences below choose a number from 1 (not at all true) to 9 (definitely true) that most accurately describes your feelings toward the person you love.

  1. I would feel deep despair if ______ left me.                                                                              ________
  2. Sometimes I feel I can’t control my thoughts; they are obsessively about  ______.          ________
  3. I feel happy when I am doing something to make _______ happy.                                      ________
  4. I would rather be with _______ than anyone else.                                                                  ________
  5. I’d get jealous if I thought _______ was falling in love with someone else.                         ________
  6. I yearn to know all about _______.                                                                                              _______
  7. I want _______ physically, emotionally, mentally.                                                                   ________
  8. I have an endless appetite for affection from _______.                                                           _______
  9. For me, _______ is the perfect romantic partner.                                                                     _______
  10. I sense my body responding when _______ touches me.                                                        _______
  11. _______ always seems to be on my mind.                                                                                  _______
  12. I want _______to know me – my thoughts, fears, and hopes.                                                _______
  13. I eagerly look for signs indicating _________’s desire for me.                                                _______
  14. I possess a powerful attraction for _________.                                                                         _______
  15. I get extremely depressed when things don’t go right in my relationship with _____.        ______

 

Add up your score.  It can range from 15 to 135.  The higher your score the more your feelings reflect passionate love. The items for which you picked a particularly high number indicate the components of passionate love you experience most.

 

For those of you who actually did this inventory the result can say a number of things to you about your capacity to love passionately and what your current marriage relationship is in this regard. In what stage is your marriage?  Has your marriage continued to evolve or is it slowly dissolving?

 

     May this article and inventory encourage you to look at yourself relative to being married. To be in love with your mate and be loved in return is a wonderful state of existence. You deserve that and, hopefully, are doing your best to create such a loving union.

 

                  “The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

 

Who or What Do You Blame?

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

     People fail. (insight of the week). You fail. I fail. Some people “own it” and accept responsibility for their failure. Others cop out and blame others. Before you read on, would you mind doing a “gut check”?  Are you inclined to be a blamer?

     For those of you who tend to be blamers, who do you like to blame for what?

1. Parents: They divorced. They did not love each other. They abandoned me.  They abused me.  They were poor role models. They didn’t prepare me for life.

2. Teachers: They didn’t teach me what I needed to learn. They picked on me.

3. Spouse: S/he doesn’t understand me. S/he tries to control me. S/he won’t step up to the plate. S/he doesn’t pay enough attention to me.

4. Boss: S/he doesn’t treat me well. S/he discriminates against me. S/he is a lousy supervisor.

5. Children: They don’t love me. They don’t spend enough time with me. They don’t appreciate all that I have done for them.

    YADA      YADA    YADA

     Did any, perhaps many, of these people let you down?  Perhaps so. Are there others who you can blame for whatever?  Certainly you, or any of us, have not had the perfect life and there have been many disappointments, frustrations, and anger felt because of these shortcomings.

     However, once you recognize your upset feelings, make the transition – get over it, and on with it. Use competent resources that will help you understand what you did not get, your deficits, but also mentor you to heal the wounds, recognize your assets, and determine realistic goals and strategies to reach them.

     One of my favorite quotes is, “Your capacity for joy will be determined by the space that pain has hollowed out in you” (Gibran). If you have suffered greatly so, too, do you have the capacity for greatness. Resilience is a powerful asset to have in your arsenal.

     Blaming, whining, won’t get it. Step up – own it and overcome it.  A current term used among men is to “man up”. I don’t know if there is a similar female version of this; if so please email to me such an expression.

     As a part of this “owning it” process, it may be of benefit to address perceived hurts, abuses and negligences by communicating with those people who have not served you well. A fruitful therapeutic process that I use is to have these “victims” write a letter to the perpetrators.  This can be a painful, but healing and releasing, endeavor.  Not for the faint of heart.

     Some people stay stuck, self pitying and blaming others, while existing in a cesspool of helplessness. They are quitters to life, with every excuse imaginable while not accepting the challenge “to be all you can be”! If these people find a quality therapist who is not a “rent a friend” therapist they will need to understand the message of responsible healing and move through their pain.  However, a few of these people choose not to address it and instead “shoot the messenger”.  Again, someone to blame because they do not want to own it, move forward, be accountable, and thrive!