One thing I often hear about partners, spouses, and coworkers–indeed, even bosses, is that the person feels they “Should just know what I need” because the person with this particular narrative has been with them for umpteen days, months, or years. But have you said this to them? Ever? “Well, no, but they should just know!” In other words, you expect them to get out their crystal ball and engage in a bit of fortune telling.
I am so fascinated by why emotions have such a low value in our culture. People are simply not aware of the power their emotions exert over their behavior. They do not investigate them. They are not curious about emotion. And Brené Brown’s research has shown that people who do investigate their emotions have learned to do so in one of three ways. How I wish they were as curious as this little boy staring at his fish!
Do you ever wonder why your arguments with your partner seem so circular? Like “Arrrggghhhh! We have had this discussion 10,000 times and it never turns out any different!” Would you like to learn how to open the door to peaceful resolution? It takes work to be present when you are angry or hurt, but wouldn’t you rather begin a conversation that opens communication rather than shutting it down with criticism?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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