Posts

craving certainty

Do you find yourself craving certainty? If this happens on a regular basis for you, here is one thing I know for sure. Craving certainty is a surefire recipe for anxiety. Craving certainty is the very definition of anxiety. Craving certainty creates the anxiety habit. And yes, it is a habit.

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anxiety is a paradox

Perhaps you have learned that no matter how hard you try, your anxious unwanted intrusive thoughts are not going away. That is because anxiety is a paradox, meaning the harder you try, the more persistent the thoughts become. You no doubt have heard the phrase “What you resist persists.”

That is how OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) thoughts operate.

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can't think clearly

Hello everyone! This post is a Part II to last week’s, which you can read here if you missed it.

What happens when you are fighting with your lover and you get either so hurt, or so angry, that you can’t think clearly?

Research by Jaak Panksepp of Washington State University demonstrates that mammals develop a special pathway in the amygdala that lights up when they perceive their mate is unavailable. Panksepp is convinced this special pathway exists in all mammals. So what happens when you feel, most likely without even realizing it, that your connection with your partner is under threat? You are plunged into what he terms “primal panic.” The primal part is due to the absolute need,  a primal need, for connection to others–especially our significant others.

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Anxiety and love

Anxiety and love are connected. Logic, as we think of it in the Western sense, is often prized above love, when love is thought of as an emotion that lacks intellect. Yet love, which is comprised of all six innate identified emotions (recognized and verified via social science the world over): fear, anger, happiness, sadness, surprise, and shame, is exquisite in its logic of self protection. We are designed by evolution to seek connection for survival and much research on attachment theory has verified this. So what happens when our sense of attachment with our partner feels threatened and we start to feel anxious?

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gentle start ups

Perpetual issues permeate every relationship. A perpetual issue is essentially an unresolvable problem, kind of like having a bad back when you age. We learn to live with chronic conditions like this and to make the best of things in spite of them. BTW, did you realize that marriage allows you to have the special privilege of annoying one person in particular for the rest of your life? Uhmmm…and the other way around as well?  By definition, when you enter a relationship, you have chosen a set of problems that you will deal with for the duration of that relationship. Here’s an example of what I mean by a perpetual issue, and a technique for managing it called a gentle start up.

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gratitude

Appreciate the boring, the routine, the mundane, the ubiquitous features of your daily life. If they were removed, you would grieve for the normalcy lost. This is in fact a thread in some of the testimonies recorded by Holocaust survivors in the memory foundation created by Stephen Spielberg as a part of living history. His USC Shoah Foundation has filmed about 52,000 two-hour eyewitness accounts in 34 languages and in 58 countries. What most struck me in some of the recordings is their gratitude for mundanity, the “everydayness” of the lives that were stolen from them. This Thanksgiving I see these testimonies as urging us to appreciate what we have.

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stuck

Why do couples get stuck? And how do they move through the most pervasive issue that keeps them there? What is that issue? I will answer that question, but please keep reading first.

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anger and intimacy

Have you ever met anyone who is habitually angry? Someone who is perpetually prickly? Or how about the person who remains in a constant level of reactivity? As if they were stuck in that gear? Or maybe there is a person in your life who seems to overreact to situations, and you are left scratching your head wondering what just happened.

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conflict management

What is flooding? What do I mean by a simple approach to ease flooding? And of course I am not talking about Katrina-type flooding, although the feeling is just as overwhelming as it was to the residents of New Orleans.

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conflict management

One thing that bothers me about therapy and self-help books is their focus on nice, tidy stories and methods that neatly tie up experiences and outcomes. Cue music! Cue lights! It is as if the authors are saying, if you follow my step by step program, you will be cured! They might as well put a cherry on top.

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