Archive for November, 2013

“To Love More, Think Less Of Feeling Love”: Understand This?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

This quote, “To love more think less about feeling love”, caught my attention.  The quote comes from an article written by Steven Stosny, Ph.D.  I was particularly struck by it because in my practice I continually come across people who say that they have “lost that loving feeling” – and, thus, they often want to get out of it. A loving relationship is not just about feeling “in love”.  Much of that early “in love” feeling is just the P.E.A. chemical in your brain going wild.  It is an adrenalin rush that peters out within a few months to a couple of years for most people.  It is the infatuation chemical.  Shallow infatuation junkies move from one relationship to another trying desperately to have that “loving” feeling. A deep committed love between two people is more than that!

Dr. Stosny says feelings “are about temporary variations in comfort, convenience, pleasure, and status.  He endorses power love VALUES over feelings because values “are stable over time and ultimately supported by a sense of character…, they give meaning and purpose to life”. He says that “feelings may forge committed relationships, but values sustain them.

POWER LOVE VALUES: Dr. Stosny’s research says these are the key for long term satisfying relationships:

EQUALITY: Rights, preferences, and responsibilities are more or less equal. Neither has authority over the other.

FAIRNESS: Partners maintain mutually acceptable division of labor and responsibility for the growth and well being of the family.

FRIENDSHIP/SUPPORT: Partners confide in each other and are “there” for each other.

LOVING BEHAVIOR: Partners are compassionate, showing care and desire to help when one is distressed, hurt, or in need of help.  They engage in mutually satisfying physical affection, sexual passion, and meaningful or enjoyable activities.

ATTITUDES THAT SUPPORT POWER LOVE VALUES

GOOD WILL: Partners want the best for each other

COOPERATION:  Partners work together for the best interest of the family.

FLEXIBILITY: Relationships … are cruel to the rigid but generally kind to the flexible.

APPRECIATION and/or ACCECPTANCE OF DIFFERENCES: Partners recognize that they have different temperaments, core vulnerabilities, and emotional histories, which cause them to give different emotional meaning to many events, behaviors, and circumstances.

SKILLS TO MAINTAIN LOVE VALUES:

REGULATING FEELINGS: Being able to do the “right thing” even when you don’t feel like it.

BINOCULAR VISION: The ability to hold your partner’s perspective alongside your own and see yourself through your partner’s eyes.

NEGOTIATION: Seeking cooperation in a solution or task that seems fair to both.

I believe that this Power Love Values approach if understood and practiced by couples would lead to deeper, richer, and longer lasting relationships between two people who have lovingly committed themselves to each other.  If you agree you may want cut out and paste this article on your refrigerator as a reminder of what you are continually creating in your relationship.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Thanksgiving Can Elicit Opportunity and Gratitude!

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

We are a country of rituals and holidays.  It is inherent in human beings to reflect on certain basic realities and celebrate their existence.  As each duly designated holiday passes, I sometimes wonder whether we truly benefit from the holiday beyond the fact that we have a day off from our usual routine.  Has the day added anything to our consciousness?  Are we any better for having participated in the day?

This week we have the holiday of Thanksgiving (or is it Thanks-taking?).  As you think of it, do you consider it as a day of obligation or opportunity?  Obligation might include having to go to someone’s house, stressfully be with family, endure insipid relatives, and overdo the consumption of plentiful food and drink.

Opportunity offers something different.  It invites us to ponder our lives from a positive grateful perspective. Who are the people, what are the circumstances, of our life for which we might give thanks?

May I invite you to use this opportunity to reflect on possible sources of gratitude.  See if you can come up with seven answers to the following questions:

1.  Who have been the people of your past for whom you are grateful?

2. Who are the people currently in your life for whom it is appropriate to give thanks?

3.  What are the events and circumstances in your life today that elicit thanksgiving?

After you have finished, share your list and the reasons for choosing them with a significant person in your life.  A pleasant conversation will result, guaranteed!

If you take some time and seriously reflect on these questions you may well be surprised at what you find.  Some of the negative or hurtful people and events of your life may actually have had, or do have, a positive influence on your personal and professional life.  That difficult teacher, challenging supervisor, idiotic boyfriend, outrageous first wife, being fired, car accident, etc… may in the long run have benefited you greatly.  Oftentimes we learn some basic lessons of life from some tough circumstances and seemingly negative people.

If your focus this Thanksgiving is on gratitude instead of grudge, seeing what is right in your life instead of wrong, it can be an opportunity to truly celebrate the day.  Perhaps the day could include actually expressing your thankfulness to these special people.  After all, they have been the instruments in making you the incredible person that you are!

HAPPY  THANKSGIVING!

Do You Know How To “Change the Channel”? A Valuable Mood Changer!

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

JOHN J. STATHAS, Ph.D., LMFT

Recently I met with a client that I did some counseling with a number of years ago.  He had some issues with anger and often used drugs and alcohol to assuage the pain underneath that anger.  He improved greatly.  The reason for this recent visit was that he had fallen in love with a woman and wanted to be sure that this marriage would work, especially since an earlier one failed.  It failed for a number of reasons, starting with his ex wasn’t a good “fit” for him.

When he came to see me this time he mentioned one of the unique tools that he got from our previous sessions was the ability to “change the channel”.  He said it has helped him immensely to cope with frustrating and hurtful situations.

“Changing the channel” is a method that I use personally and invite my clients to do.  A little information here is necessary.  The brain works like this: a thought comes to mind; the thought elicits an emotion, the emotion is the energy for the consequent behavior. Thus what we think about, focus on, leads us down a path of positive or negative emotions, and then positive or negative behaviors. All of which then leads to positive or negative outcomes and consequences.

So, if your thought is the trigger mechanism that sets forth this chain of events, it, therefore, behooves you to be careful about what you think about.  By becoming more attuned, becoming more conscious of what is going on in your mind, you then can take some control of what you think-feel-do.

“Changing the channel” is about changing the thought that is in your mind.  “Changing the channel” is about getting rid of negative thoughts – past or present.  The neurological pathway of the brain thickens, gets stronger, when you pay attention to a thought.  When you stop paying attention to a thought it weakens, withers.  Thus, the thoughts you focus on move you toward a more positive or negative way of thinking – and then feeling and acting.

An example here might help:

Perhaps a person in your past has hurt you deeply.  When you think about that person, events that caused you pain come to mind.  This then is followed by the negative emotion of fear, hurt, or anger.  These emotions then affect your stress level and ultimately your immune system – weakening you in a number of ways.  When you use the “change the channel” technique, whenever you think about that person or the events that hurt you, you switch your thought to something else.

A wise person seeks out tools and techniques that help that person think positive thoughts, feel good, and “do the next right thing” (positive). I believe this “change the channel technique is a worthy addition to good mental health and creating new brain cells so that you can continue living well and long.  Give it a try I think you will find it freeing and stress reducing!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

Do You Know The “Grandparent Rules”? Practice Them?

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Being Grandparents is special!  Those of you who are know what I mean. Those of you who will be, you have some wonderful times ahead. I am particularly conscious of this reality at the present time because both of our kids have brought wonderful grandchildren into our lives.

Our daughter, Brittany, and her husband David started this grandparent life a little over two years ago by birthing Hailey. Our son, Kris, and his wife Cara last May brought Kyla into the world. And now Brittany and David have recently told us that they are expecting again, next May seems to be the informed opinion.

These “kids” of ours are exceptional parents from every perspective imaginable. So proud of them. Sherry and I are trying to be the best grandparents. I believe most grandparents want to do that. I thought that perhaps a review of the “Grandparent Rules” might be in order, both as a refresher for us and perhaps for you, Respected Reader. These are the “Rules” I have developed based on my clinical experience as well as recommendations from other parenting professionals.

  1. Support your kids raising their kids. The grandkids are not your kids.
  2. Don’t give advice unless asked for by the parents.
  3. Learn how to connect with your grandchild. Be a positive influence in the grandkid’s life, without usurping the authority of the parents.
  4. Be there when needed when possible, but do not impose. Do not be “used” by parents who abdicate their responsibility.
  5. Don’t spoil the kids. Stay within the parameters of behavior/discipline/consequences established by the parents.
  6. Learn when to keep your mouth shut. Certain comments or observations are unnecessary and create bad feelings.
  7. You are not the only grandparents. Sharing and balance are needed with the other grandparents and members of the “extended” family.
  8. Work through and with the parents – not around them.
  9. Be familiar with the parents’ priorities involving safety, health, feeding, discipline, hygiene, etc… and reinforce their desires through our actions.
  10. Love ‘em with all your heart!

How about you? What are your thoughts about being a grandparent?  How good are you in this role? Dare you ask your child how you are perceived? It is a great opportunity to be a positive force in the development of another generation evolving – yours!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Do You Need A Reminder Of Your Dating Behavior? It Worked! Still Is?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

The headline of this article is taken from a current popular song “Remind Me”, sung by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. Some of the lyrics state:

“Do you remember how it felt?                                                                                                                                                                            Remind me, remind me.                                                                                                                                                                                                All the things you used to do                                                                                                                                                                                      that made me fall in love with you.                                                                                                                                                                  Remind me, baby remind me”

Do you remember your early dating times?  What are some of the things that you and your then lover did to help you fall in love and choose to live a life together? You probably thought about that person often.  You tried to come up with ways that would make that person be enamored by you. You were probably charming, fun, and very giving. You were even romantic! And, perhaps quite sensual as you touched hearts and bodies.

Do you remember those times?  Bring a smile to your face?  Do you still have that loving feeling?  Do you still do many or most of the things you did to endear yourself to your partner?  Perhaps you need a reminder.

When a couple commits to a life together, there is a certain expectation that each of you will continue to be the same person that created this love union.  You trusted the other person and made a commitment “for better or worse” that your love would not fall by the wayside.

Some people have been able to maintain such consistency and their love flourishes year after year.  Some people falter for various reasons and the couple’s relationship is temporarily detoured.  A few of these couples seek couples therapy and get back on the road to shared happiness.  Others let the dream     turn into a nightmare. And then there are some who got caught up in the PEA chemical infatuation and should never have married and, thus, divorced – hopefully without first having children or hurting each other any more.

What might serve to “remind” you of the thoughtful loving things you used to do?  What words and behaviors do you need to dust off and bring anew to your partner?   Might you want to look at pictures from your early years together? Perhaps re-visiting certain places that contain special memories?  Certain “oldie” songs may remind you of an era that was special for the two of you.

When I dated Sherry some thirty five years ago I remember saying to myself that I did not want to set up expectations that I would not be able to consistently deliver year after year. Many individuals do “false advertising” in their dating times by saying and doing things to get the other person to the altar – and then over the years discontinue them.  I think I may need to ask my wife to “remind me, baby remind me”. How am I doing?  Do you, too, need an occasional reminder to bring your best self to your life partner?

“The unexamined life is not worth living”                       Socrates