Love is often unequal. Many people I’ve talked to have expressed hesitation over getting involved with someone, because that person “likes them too much.” They worry that if they got involved with this person, their own feelings wouldn’t evolve, and the other person would wind up getting hurt or feeling rejected. The truth is that love is often imbalanced, with one person feeling more or less from moment to moment. Our feelings toward someone are an ever-changing force. In a matter of seconds, we can feel anger, irritation or even hate for a person we love. Worrying over how we will feel keeps us from seeing where our feelings would naturally go. It’s better to be open to how our feelings develop over time. Allowing worry or guilt over how we may or may not feel keeps us from getting to know someone who is expressing interest in us and may prevent us from forming a relationship that could really make us happy. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201401/7-reasons-most-people-are-afraid-love Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at http://www.psychalive.org/author/dr-lisa-firestone/
I feel it take over,
It knocks out my wind,
The feeling then lowers,
And it hits me again,
I feel like I’m falling,
This time it’s for real?
Or am I logically stalling?
Afraid to feel.
From “Time To Be Bold” by Dennis
Real love makes us feel vulnerable. A new relationship is uncharted territory, and most of us have natural fears of the unknown. Letting ourselves fall in love means taking a real risk. We are placing a great amount of trust in another person, allowing them to affect us, which makes us feel exposed and vulnerable. Our core defenses are challenged. Any habits we’ve long had that allow us to feel self-focused or self-contained start to fall by the wayside. We tend to believe that the more we care, the more we can get hurt. When we enter into a relationship, we are rarely fully aware of how we’ve been impacted by our history. The ways we were hurt in previous relationships, starting from our childhood, have a strong influence on how we perceive the people we get close to as well as how we act in our romantic relationships. Old, negative dynamics may make us wary of opening ourselves up to someone new. We may steer away from intimacy, because it stirs up old feelings of hurt, loss, anger or rejection. As Dr. Pat Love said in an interview with PsychAlive, “when you long for something, like love, it becomes associated with pain,” the pain you felt at not having it in the past. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201401/7-reasons-most-people-are-afraid-love Read more from Dr. Lisa Firestone at http://www.psychalive.org/author/dr-lisa-firestone/
Love takes off masks
that we fear we
cannot live without
and know we cannot
James Arthur Baldwin
The relationships between the events in your life and your feelings are going to be less clear if you have difficulty identifying what you are feeling. Naturally, there are times when you are unable to precisely name what you feel. Identifying your feelings may require you to take time to focus on yourself and your feelings. If you find it difficult to notice or name what you are feeling, it may require that you pay attention to your body. Most feelings are experienced in the body. For example, fear may show up as a knot in your stomach or a tightness in your throat. Our bodies are all different, so you will have to pay attention to your body and not just rely on others experiences. Feelings are also connected to your behavior. If you aren’t sure how you feel, but you realize that you are acting in a way that sends a clear message to others, you may be able to infer what you are feeling from your behavior. For example, if you have an angry facial expression or tone of voice when you are talking with a particular friend, it may be that you are angry or frustrated with that person without recognizing it. Making the connection between life’s events and your feelings is very useful. Continuing with this same example, once you recognize your feelings, you may then more clearly understand and articulate your concerns with your friend. Often your feelings are related to your interpretations of events more than to the events themselves. While it is natural to think that you are responding only to the events of your life, in fact you make interpretations or judgments of these events, and these interpretations play a key role in your emotional responses. When you stop to think about it, each event could yield a variety of emotional responses; your interpretation of the event helps link a particular emotional response to that event. http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/self-help-brochures/self-awarenessself-care/experiencing-and-expressing-emotions/
We cannot tell what may happen
to us in the strange medley of life.
But we can decide what happens in us;
how we can take it, what we do with it;
and that is what really counts in the end.
Joseph Fort Newton
Spiritual intimacy during sex ultimately depends on that desire to be united with your spouse. And that desire is fed throughout the day–by concentrating on what you love about him, by thinking about him, by flirting and playing with him, by saying positive things about him to others. It isn’t something that “just happens”. It’s something that is the culmination of a relationship that you already have. I truly believe that for many couples this is THE major roadblock to sex being everything it can be. Many of us push sex out of the way because it seems like a chore, but what we’re really doing, then, is denying ourselves one of the most powerful tools we have to feel truly connected and accepted by another individual. Concentrate on what you love about each other. Pray together. Memorize each others’ bodies. Say I love you. Look into each others’ eyes. Truly be joined. There really is nothing else like it. From a post at http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2012/02/29-days-to-great-sex-day-27-experiencing-spiritual-intimacy-while-you-make-love/
We waste time
looking for the perfect lover,
instead of creating the perfect love.
To experience spiritual intimacy, take time being naked. I don’t just mean taking your clothes off to make love. I mean actually be naked together. Hold each other. Take a bath together. Even pray naked together! Redo that exercise where you just take time touching each others’ bodies. Really feel as if you completely know the other person. It’s actually more vulnerable to be naked while someone touches you than just to be naked while you “have sex”. And so take that time to explore! Take time to be spiritually naked. This may sound weird, but trust me on it: pray before sex. When we unite together spiritually first, it’s as if our souls are drawn together. And when our souls are drawn together, we want to draw together in a deeper way. If you’re uncomfortable with free-form prayer, buy a book of prayers… The words don’t matter; the heart does. When you mean it, and you bow before God together, you really are drawn towards each other in a much more intense way. Look into each others’ eyes. The eyes are windows, and yet how often do we close our eyes, as if we’re trying to shut the other person out, and concentrate on ourselves? I know sometimes you have to close your eyes to feel everything, but sometimes open up and look into his eyes. To actually see him–and to let him see into you–is very intimate, especially at the height of passion. Say “I love you”. It’s such a little thing, but while you’re making love–or even when you orgasm, say “I love you”. Make sex about not just feeling good, but expressing love. http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2012/02/29-days-to-great-sex-day-27-experiencing-spiritual-intimacy-while-you-make-love/
There are only two
guidelines in good sex.
Don’t do anything
you don’t really enjoy
and find out what
are your partner needs
and don’t balk them
if you can help it.
Insight without action only gets you so far. In order to grow, self-awareness and self-acceptance must be accompanied by new behavior. This involves taking risks and venturing outside your comfort one. It may involve speaking up, trying something new, going somewhere alone, or setting a boundary. It also means setting internal boundaries by keeping commitments to yourself, or saying “no” to your Critic or other old habits you want to change. Instead of expecting others to meet all your needs and make you happy, you learn to take actions to meet them, and do things that give you fulfillment and satisfaction in your life.Each time you try out new behavior or take a risk, you learn something new about yourself and your feelings and needs. You’re creating a stronger sense of yourself, as well as self-confidence and self-esteem. This builds upon itself in a positive feedback loop vs. the downward spiral of codependency, which creates more fear, depression, and low self-esteem. Words are actions. They have power and reflect your self-esteem. Becoming assertive is a learning process and is perhaps the most powerful tool in recovery. Assertiveness requires that you know yourself and risk making that public. It entails setting limits. This is respecting and honoring yourself. You get to be the author of your life – what you’ll do and not do and how people will treat you. Taken from an article By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT http://psychcentral.com/lib/recovery-from-codependency/00014956
It’s like everyone tells a story
about themselves inside their own head.
Always. All the time.
That story makes you what you are.
We build ourselves out of that story.
We don’t always fall for someone simply because their positive qualities complement our own but also because their negative traits fit ours so well. Therefore, the first thing to do when entering into a relationship (or improving one, for that matter) is to take a look at yourself and at the history of your relationships. What are the qualities that you typically look for in a partner? Are there certain negative qualities that always seem to show up and eventually drive you crazy? Do you have a pattern of choosing a person with specific traits, only to end up dissatisfied with them? Do your relationships seem to always break up for the same reasons? Once you recognize a pattern, you have something that you can work with. By figuring out how you go about ending up with the same objectionable partner in every relationship, you will know what to do to break this cycle. With each choice you make and action you take in a relationship, it’s important to have a good sense of what is operating within you that’s motivating your behavior. When it comes to love, it is advisable to not only go into it with your heart; but to go into it with your head. That way, instead of automatically selecting the same type of person for the same negative traits, you can try selecting a partner who is entirely different. For instance, if you grew up feeling invisible or ignored, you may avoid someone who shows a real interest in you. Instead, you may feel more attracted to someone who is distant or withholding of affection. You can consciously decide to be open to the possibility of being with someone who is different from the people you typically choose, for example, someone who expresses a strong attraction to you. This change will most likely cause you to feel somewhat ambivalent. However, because you have identified your pattern, you can be aware of the negative factors influencing your decision. Perhaps your disinterest in this person may be largely motivated by the very interest that he/she is showing in you. When you consciously choose to break a pattern, you can establish a better relationship with a better, albeit unfamiliar, outcome. If you hang in there, and give this out-of-the-ordinary person a chance, you can become accustomed to this out-of-the-ordinary relationship. Yours could be one of those stories of friends who fall in love or unlikely seeming couples who live happily together. From an article by Lisa Firestone http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/wrong-relationship-choices_b_830989.html
Perhaps we can recognize
our way out of patterns
rather than repeating
our way out of them.
Marriage therapists are much more likely to see a couple after the marriage reaches the breaking point, rather than early in the process of breaking down. Both partners at this distressing juncture will often be experiencing despair, and they’ll ask the therapist’s opinion about whether they should “just end it.” The real feelings lurking behind such a question actually sound more like this, “We’re so tired of trying the same old things and getting nowhere in our relationship. Can’t you give us something new to try?” The answer is yes, if you’re willing to work hard at it, and learn the signs of marital trouble. Divorce remains at historic highs compared with the 1950s. According to the U.S. Census, one-half of the first marriages of baby boomer couples will end in divorce or separation. Both men and women experience marital disaffection or the dying-out of love between two spouses. The process is painful for everyone; sometimes as agonizing for one or both partners as the death of a loved one. What’s also true is that many married men and women come to the conclusion that their marriage is over prematurely. That is, they give up from exhaustion and despair when there are still things that can be done to save the marriage. When a relationship begins to turn sour, inevitably people blame their partner. Being right and making the other wrong starts to hold more value to each spouse than the goal of maintaining love, peace, and harmony in the relationship. Underlying whatever the couple is arguing about, be it housekeeping, an affair, or one partner’s long hours at the office, there are deep unacknowledged hurts and disappointments. A woman often feels unappreciated or unloved. A man feels nagged or neglected. The danger is that the couple never goes below the surface of the antagonisms reigning in the present, never knows what they’re actually fighting about, and each blames the other for the standoff that results. In this scenario of battling spouses, the ego reigns supreme and love begins to die. When harsh words, physical distance, and immature behaviors such as irrational spending have replaced the gestures of love, it’s sometimes difficult to understand what’s actually going on in your marriage. It appears to have fallen completely apart and you can’t recall why you ever “fell in love” with this person in the first place. From an article by Stephen Martin, MFT, and Victoria Costello http://www.netplaces.com/happy-marriage/danger-signs-in-a-marriage/dont-give-up-too-soon.htm
It is not a
lack of love,
but a lack
Fear and shame result from messages that men are not doing the job – in the work place, or at home. And the job is increasingly difficult to accomplish today, because the man as sole bread-winner is unrealistic in this economy. In a sense, life was much easier for men in the past, when they were simply hunters and warriors. A complicating factor is the male tendency to fear any “feminine” aspect of their personality, behavior or feelings. Men, who are raised predominately by women, are afraid that certain emotions, and their need for nurturance, means they are not masculine. If they are emotionally vulnerable, sensitive, or dependent on others, they feel ashamed and out of control. A man who is shamed by childhood abuse or enmeshment with an overprotective mother may become emotionally hypersensitive and subject to narcissistic injury (any perceived insult, complaints, criticism, or unmet entitlement needs lead to excessively hurt, angry feelings). There are many challenges for boys learning to be men today, particularly in families where effective male role models are not fully available. In too many families, distressed parents are angry, rejecting, or even abusive. The male brain often adapts to these circumstances, and can result in defensive role rigidity, anger and rage. Boys learn during childhood to suppress emotion – for boys becoming men, feelings and their expression can be considered shameful. To complicate this situation, boys are not generally socialized or taught to connect, bond, or develop meaningful, emotionally supportive relationships – especially with other boys and men. Boys are physiologically and neurologically oriented toward action, tasks, and playing with objects – not toward relating interpersonally. Raised primarily by women, boys get most or all of their emotional needs met by women without any required reciprocity on their part. This results in emotional, narcissistic injuries as adults when their needs and expectations are not met. Anger develops as a coping mechanism. William Pollack (1995) says that anger is their “way of weeping” – the way they express their emotional pain. From article by Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, PA http://www.goodtherapy.org/therapy-for-men.html
Children have never been very good
at listening to their elders,
but they have never
failed to imitate them.
Addiction is a complex disorder characterized by compulsive drug use. While each drug produces different physical effects, all abused substances share one thing in common: repeated use can alter the way the brain looks and functions. Taking a recreational drug causes a surge in levels of dopamine in your brain, which trigger feelings of pleasure. Your brain remembers these feelings and wants them repeated. If you become addicted, the substance takes on the same significance as other survival behaviors, such as eating and drinking. Changes in your brain interfere with your ability to think clearly, exercise good judgment, control your behavior, and feel normal without drugs. Whether you’re addicted to inhalants, heroin, Xanax, speed, or Vicodin, the uncontrollable craving to use grows more important than anything else, including family, friends, career, and even your own health and happiness. The urge to use is so strong that your mind finds many ways to deny or rationalize the addiction. You may drastically underestimate the quantity of drugs you’re taking, how much it impacts your life, and the level of control you have over your drug use. People who experiment with drugs continue to use them because the substance either makes them feel good, or stops them from feeling bad. In many cases, however, there is a fine line between regular use and drug abuse and addiction. Very few addicts are able to recognize when they have crossed that line. by Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Joanna Saisan, M.S.W. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/drug_substance_abuse_addiction_signs_effects_treatment.htm
Here I am trying to live,
or rather, I am trying to
teach the death within
me how to live.