Posts tagged ‘relationships’

Conscious Communication Matters ll By Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Communication Matters
By Dorothy Wallis

Your life is happening right now.  Will you take the opportunity to connect with those you love and care about?  Being able to communicate your thoughts and feelings is an extraordinarily high form of specialized functionality in human consciousness.  Skill is involved and many articles and books will outline all of the techniques of communication.  Yet, at the heart of worthwhile communication is the desire and willingness to connect with honesty, kindness, well meaning and love.  That can actually be a tall order.

When I ask couples “what is the biggest challenge with your partner?” the most frequent answers are, “my partner does not understand me,” “she/he doesn’t listen to what I am saying,” “I don’t know how to talk to him/her,” “I can’t get through to him/her” or just “we don’t communicate at all.”  Communication may seem like the simplest of skills and yet misunderstandings are common and can easily escalate from annoyance and frustration into fights.  Without compassionate conscious communication relationships fall apart.

Conscious Communication is not just for couples.  It is important for everyone. We are taught how to read and write however, we have not learned the basics of clear communication that expresses not only your thoughts but also the meaning and intention behind the words.  It is a skill and an art to cultivate.  If you want healthy relationships with family, friends and colleagues, it pays to be a conscious communicator.  Conflict and drama lessen.  You experience more understanding, sharing and intimacy with those you care about.  Constructive communication skills will give you confidence to express yourself clearly and give you an advantage in business or work environment.  You will attract friends and have happier long lasting relationships.

Consciously Communicate with Presence

What does it mean to Consciously Communicate?  Being Conscious is a purposeful act.  It means you are aware and present with the other person in an intentional way.  The ones you care most about are the people that you are likely to ignore or take for granted and they most likely do the same with you.  How can communication take place when there is a disconnect?

Communication is a two-way Connection.

There is always a speaker sending a message and a listener receiving it.   For a smooth dialogue to take place each person must be conscious of their part and be able to switch between roles.  It takes effort and concentration.  Think of it as a circuit that you are completing.  Both people need to actively and consciously participate.

Your Role as a Conscious Speaker 

Think about Why You are Communicating 

Are you communicating to express an idea, to relay important information, to express a thought or emotion, to share an experience, or to deepen your connection?  Are you speaking to solve a problem?

Communicate with the Intention of Connecting 

Be aware of the person in front of you.  If this is your partner or someone you care about remember your love for them.  If this is a friend or colleague, speak with kindness no matter what you are asking, talking about or discussing.  Always speak with integrity, honesty and respect.  Do you care about the impact of your words and how your words will be received?

Speak to Make things Better

When an issue arises between you and another person be honest about your true intention and purpose in speaking.  Are you speaking to clarify, to resolve the issue or dilemma, and to create a harmonious meaningful connection or are you retaliating and attacking?  Being contentious, demanding, resentful, abusive, or manipulative will alienate, disengage and create separation or worse amplify into a battle.  Is your ego involved?  Do you need to win?

Speak so People Will Understand

Great speakers are interested in the recipient and want to help them understand.  Speak the listener’s language.  It is the role of the speaker to convey the message in the clearest most concise form for the listener.  Doing otherwise would be talking just to hear yourself speak and not getting your message across.  Delivery matters.  Keep it simple.  If you go on and on you will lose the listener’s attention.

Relate Your Emotions as Well as Your Thoughts

Whether you realize it or not, your feelings are detected by those in your presence.  Allow yourself to speak the truth about what you are feeling.  Thoughts and ideas are important, yet your emotions reveal your interior dimensions in a way that thoughts cannot.  Sharing your emotions with those closest to you creates intimacy.

Notice the Sound of Your Voice

Pay attention to the tone and volume of your voice. Your personality is reflected in the tone, inflection, volume, and pace of your words and reveals your attitude as well as your mood.  Is your voice even, calm, nurturing, expressive, charismatic, persuasive, and easily understood?  Is your intention clearly expressed?  Shrill, whiny, loud, yelling, pleading, caustic, and piercing words will drive people away.  Contempt, resentment, and anger will distance others and undermine any attempts to persuade, resolve problems or create harmony.

Notice Body Language

The way a message is expressed helps the listener to receive.  Are you relaxed and engaged?  Is your body position cuing the listener that you are equal to them and not dominating them nor shrinking from them?

Pay attention to the listener.  Be present with them.  If possible, look into their eyes and notice their body language.  How are your words being received?  What does their body language say?  Are they bored?  Have they stopped listening?  Are they irritated?  Do their eyes roll as you speak?  Do you sense interest or curiosity about what you are saying?  If you are aware, you can adjust your words to help the person understand or you can stop and inquire about what is happening for them.

Your Role as a Conscious Listener

Listen with Presence

The role of the listener is just as important as that of the speaker.  Be fully attentive and curious about the speaker’s perspective.  Listen carefully to their words, take in the details and watch for subtle messages in their tone and body language.  Receive them as a fellow being with ideas, experiences, as well as struggles.

Listen without interrupting

Are you actively listening to the person speaking or are you waiting for your turn to share?  Hold onto your questions and assumptions.  Give them “the floor” and don’t interrupt.  Their perspective may differ from yours.  Difference can be exciting and sometimes turns to a sense of threat.  When you drop your ideas, open and receive their truth and honestly listen to another’s perspective, you don’t become “different.”  Antagonism drops away and a realization of the fundamental “sameness” can enter.  Their struggles don’t look different than your own.  You will reap the benefit as conscious listening soothes your nervous system.

Watch the Speaker’s Body Language

Watching the speaker’s body language will tell you a lot.  It will reveal information beyond what the words alone are saying.  Are they sharing a joyful experience?  Do their words match what their body is telling you?  A person’s words may describe being “fine” while their arms are crossed, their body slumped and their eyes gaze downward.  You sense something is off.  If you pay attention, you will notice the incongruence.  Is there more not being said?  Sense the emotions of the speaker with interest and compassion.

Listen to Understand

Be curious about their perspective instead of making judgments.  When it is your turn to speak, inquire or ask questions for clarity and to help both of you reach deeper into knowing the other. Be open to alternate ideas and viewpoints.

When someone has an Issue or Complaint Listen without Defending 

When issues or problems are brought up let go of defensiveness.  When you are defensive you are not listening to the experience or perspective of the other person.  Long explanations of your intentions give the impression that you are not paying attention to the other’s complaint or request and are only concerned with yourself.  It can sound like an excuse or that you are deflecting or invalidating the other’s experience.

Magical Tips to Improve all Relationships

Be Compassionate 

Sense what the other person is experiencing.  Have empathy and be supportive.  Help them to feel heard and safe.  If your friend or partner is hurting, they will not be at their best.  Receive their struggle and offer what you can.

Validate Other’s Emotions and Experiences 

When someone has an emotion, it is what he or she is experiencing.  It is the truth.  Whenever you tell a person not to feel or that they should not be having that feeling, you are invalidating their experience.  It is painful and causes people to question their reality.  It is dismissive and they may react with resentment, anger, and frustration.  They do not feel seen, heard or cared about.

Let go of Criticism, Blame and Retaliation 

Focus on your own issues and growth rather than on the other person’s.  Attacks, diminishment, digs, debasement, passive aggression, condemnation and threats are hurtful, harmful and mean.  It does not cause people to change.  Are you retaliating to punish them?  Resentment is destructive and creates contempt.  If you are hurt and want to understand, you can ask for clarity.  Listen with an open heart rather than assuming the worst.  You will learn more by honest inquiry than with blame.    

Give up Your Compulsion to Be Right

What is the point in being right?  Will your version of what is “right” change their truth?  Are you attempting to dominate or belittle someone with your opinion of what is right?  If you continue to batter someone with your point of view, what happens?  Are they happy that you corrected them?  Notice what it does to your relationship.  It is actually a form of violence.  Realize that there are as many differing worldviews and opinions as there are people on the planet.  Does it really matter that you went to dinner at 6:00pm on Saturday night or Friday night?  Let go of the little things.  Do you have a photographic memory of every word of a conversation?  Better to find out another’s perspective rather than berate them for what you believe is the “truth” about what they meant.  Be flexible and adaptable.  You can disagree without assaulting someone.  A difference of opinion does not make you or them less.  In fact, truly listening to different perspectives opens you up to a wider understanding of the other person.

Acceptance and Kindness create Harmony and Understanding

The more you are able to accept differences in others with kindness, the more harmony will enter your life.  The key to understanding is to relate to others as kin rather than enemies.  Everyone makes mistakes.  You will make mistakes and your loved ones will too.  Everyone has struggles, problems, times when they are up and times when they are down.  Compassion begets compassion.

Have Appreciation and Gratitude for the People in Your Life

Relationships are the most profound experiences in life.  The people that enter your world offer you a mirror into the innermost depths of you.  In the end your intimate connections with others is what you will cherish.

As you relate to others, you learn more about yourself and humanity.  Treat people as the gift that they are.  As you appreciate them with gratitude, you give yourself the gift of love.


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Conscious Relationship and the Three Dimensions of Caring || Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Relationship and the Three Dimensions of Caring

By: Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Companionship

As the consciousness of humanity evolves and changes so has the structure of marriage, partnership and relationships.  We are in a transitional stage of relationship moving away from the concept of two independent autonomous people cohabiting together and attempting to get their individual needs met in a hierarchical structure with fixed roles.  A companionship model of conscious partnership consisting of mutual interdependence, interpersonal relating, intimacy, equity and commitment to placing the relationship first while aligning with what is best for each other is arising.  The focus away from a singular insular preoccupation with self and my needs to what are the needs of the relationship is a step towards greater love, compatibility, understanding, intimacy, and surprisingly getting more of your needs met.

Intuitively you know that you are not an island.  As much as you were taught that independence and self-sufficiency were the mark of maturity, what you discover is that it is simply a phase on the way to a deeper level of learning about yourself and how to love.  An important phase for sure, but development does not end with self-interest.  No matter how self-sufficient you create your life to be, you are always dependent on other people for more than mere survival.  As your basic needs are met your need for intimacy, connection and sharing take the forefront.  You seek relationship with others.  You seek a greater depth of love.
 
Falling in love is a magical experience.  It directs your attention to another; you begin to care about someone other than yourself.  You open up and share your thoughts, feelings, and interests.  Caring and sharing with mutual reliance on each other seems easy at this stage.  Keeping this level of interest and caring is often challenging. 
 
What happened to us?  The Zing, the Romance, the Pizzazz is gone!
It makes sense that the first blush of all encompassing love must end.  No one can keep that level of exclusive attention.  It wouldn’t serve you or your relationship.  What does not need to be forgotten is your level of Caring for your partner.  Once the courtship is over, your zeal to find meaning, purpose, and promote your individual needs and desires focuses your attention back on the self.  Career, children and the usual demands of everyday life may find you leading an independent and parallel existence without much connection to your partner.  You end up feeling bereft of intimacy and caring.

 

“Participating in Caring behaviors with Attuned Presence and Concern is a vital component to Sustain a Conscious Growing Relationship”

 

Participation and Presence
Relationships get into trouble when there is a lack of caring.  Studies of couples in therapy revealed a disquieting commonality; dissatisfied couples expressed the belief that their partner loved them while at the same time not feeling deeply cared about.  Without the feeling of being cared about discontentment increases with the likelihood of conflict, resentment, distance and separation.  In this day and age relationship requires participation and presence. 
 
Caring Relationships Heal Childhood Wounds 
Caring is the act of displaying kindness and concern for another.  Caring presence accords a special focus of attention on your partner that expresses they are of primary importance to you.  When you have someone you can rely upon, who understands you, accepts you just as you are, supports your highest aspirations while demonstrating affection and nurturing, you are able to move into the world securely.  Being nurtured opens up neural pathways and heals toxic emotional childhood wounds.  A caring relationship is the soothing tonic that restores secure attachment.
 
Three Dimensions of Caring:  Putting the Zing back into Your Relationship
In their research, Paul and Evelyn Moschetta identified three dimensions of caring that are vitally important to maintain a healthy, growing, mutually satisfying and loving relationshipThose dimensions are Sustenance Caring, Intentional Caring, and Reverential Caring.

Sustenance Caring

“The kind of caring that supplies the emotional necessities of life; nurturing, supporting and strengthening the other.  Sustenance caring cannot be known on an intellectual level only; it must be a felt experience as well. Study subjects said that receiving sustenance caring left them feeling loved, “warm” inside, happy, sexually responsive, stable, secure, trusting, capable of facing problems, capable of reaching out to others.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Being present, attentive to the needs of your partner, and displaying affection feeds and nurtures their emotional well-being.  Sustenance caring requires action and empathic attunement creating a foundation of safety and trust.  Your relationship is the blending into One.  Treating your relationship as a sacred form keeps it alive and growing.  It creates a safe, secure container for each of you to be free to explore your full potential.  And…who reaps the greatest benefit from giving your partner tender loving Care?  You do!  People in secure connected relationships are healthier, have less stress, are happier and feel more fulfilled. 
 
Helpful Actions to give Sustenance Caring to Your Partner:

  • Be present and attentive to the needs of your partner
  • Be generous with your time; your partner comes first over others
  • Be available in times of need
  • Give frequent displays of affection both physically and verbally; give hugs and gentle touch
  • Be aware and attuned to your partner’s moods
  • Demonstrate trust, generosity and unselfish concern for your partner
  • Be genuinely interested and involved in your partner’s life
  • Be an expert on your partner; learn what soothes and pleases them

Behaviors and actions that undermine Sustenance Caring:

  • Not sharing your deeper feelings and thoughts
  • Shutting out your partner by withdrawing, ignoring them or neglecting their thoughts, feelings, and presence
  • Not showing physical or verbal affection
  • Lack of attunement to their moods and emotional needs
  • A big No…Flirting and emotional intimacy with someone other than your partner (rule of thumb: any conversation or behavior that may hurt your partner if they heard or saw you…is off the table)
  • Hiding or keeping secrets that have an impact on the relationship: health, finances, affairs, travel arrangements, purchases etc.

Intentional Caring:

“Takes the form of actions purposefully undertaken to help one’s partner grow.  It is the expression of a commitment to foster growth, and conveys a deep interest in the other’s full use of talents, capabilities, and potentials.  Study subjects reported that receiving Intentional caring left them feeling courageous, unafraid, more adequate, liberated, more adult, able to invest oneself, capable of doing a great deal, capable of fulfilling potentials.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Helpful actions to give Intentional Caring to Your Partner:

  • Be interested in your partner’s ideas and pursuits
  • Be your partner’s advocate, promote and champion their direction of growth and interests
  • Appreciate their talents, capabilities and potential
  • Encourage and assist your partner when challenges arise  
  • Be cooperative and flexible
  • Be willing to share responsibilities
  • Maximize growth opportunities for your partner
  • Be willing to let them know when they are going in a direction that is potentially harmful to them: health, financial, with other people etc.

 
Behaviors and actions that undermine Intentional Caring:

  • Undermining your partner’s confidence
  • Lecturing and parenting your partner
  • Sabotaging or subverting your partner’s dreams
  • Enabling and co-dependent behaviors
  • Controlling your partner
  • Blaming your partner rather than listening and finding solutions or requesting amends

 
Reverential Caring:

“Means valuing the other’s individuality, holding them in high esteem and making them a top priority.  It means having intense interest and admiration for the other.  Reverential caring conveys an acceptance of one’s partner as he or she actually is without illusions, or preconceived or accumulated images.  Study subjects reported that receiving reverential caring left them feeling important, valued, wanted, worthwhile, free to be oneself, capable of seeing one’s shortcomings, accepting of oneself, proud, grateful, fortunate.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Helpful actions to give Reverential Caring to Your Partner:

  • Always make your partner Number 1 in your eyes; say and do things to remind your partner that they are tops with you
  • Establish each other as your primary ‘Go to Person’
  • Treat your partner as an equal, neither below you or above you
  • Accept your partner just the way they are with all of their foibles and idiosyncrasies
  • Value and freely appreciate your partner’s abilities
  • Have your partner’s back especially in the company of others; this means supporting your partner even if you do not agree (express your opinion in private)  

Behaviors and actions that undermine Reverential Caring:

  • Criticizing your partner
  • Demanding perfection
  • Ridiculing, berating, belittling or shaming your partner (if joking means making fun of your partner, it is demeaning and will cause hurt and resentment)
  • Embarrassing your partner with your words or actions
  • Disrespecting or diminishing the worth of your partner
  • Dominating your partner

Caring is a day-to-day and moment-by-moment opportunity to create a long-lasting intimate and joy filled relationship.  Loving energy directed toward your relationship is life enhancing and brings the greatest reward, which is learning how to give and receive love.  

Getting to Know Your “Stand Up” Guardian, Anger || Dorothy Wallis

Getting to Know Your “Stand Up” Guardian, Anger

By Dorothy Wallis

anger

I have never been comfortable with anger.  It is disquieting, to say the least.  I prefer smooth, harmonious relationships, with no conflict; where everyone gets along and is accepting, even when they don’t agree.  Anger disrupts my inner peace.  It is a brash, bold, incorrigible bully with such power and intensity that it cannot be ignored. 

 

When harsh words, criticism, or overt anger is directed at me, it feels like a hot behemoth of fire blasting and scorching me with blistering speed…knocking me flat.  I am speechless and bewildered.  My thoughts disintegrate and vaporize residue from the attack of condemnation.  The result of my flattened affect is a look of stunned perplexity.  This has often caused others to ignite even more of their vitriol in my direction.  Not a good outcome.  Once in awhile, I am awake and safe enough for my defensive fight response to zing back in crass disagreement.  As you can imagine, this only heightens anger and now we are all engulfed in a swirling firestorm.

Anger takes its time to flare up from inside of me.  It smolders and burns like Hawaiian pahoehoe lava, a slowly moving flow submerged under the surface.  It twists my stomach, turns and aches as my skin heats up.  I notice the burning in my chest and the movement up into my throat.  My breath becomes hot.  Like a bull ready to charge, my nostrils flare, my eyes becomes focused and intense, and fiery energy fills my body.  Even though my body is prepared for action, my first instinct is to try to shut it down.  It takes time for me to recognize that my silence, avoidance and distancing are a sign of anger.  It may be the next day, before I realize what I wanted to speak in the moment of a confrontation.  

I had learned to control anger by suppressing it.  As a result the churning in my stomach would turn into pain, nausea and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.  At one point in my life, I kept a bottle of Mylanta on my desk at work and would regularly swallow large gulps of it to get through the day. 

It has been a lengthy, compelling journey of getting to know this formidable energy that can so suddenly dominate my being.  What I have learned is that anger demands attention and some kind of response.  It is asking for something to change.  It wants immediate action.  Stifling or quelling anger never works.  It dislikes being controlled and patronized.  This goes for the anger erupting inside of you as well as what comes at you from others.  People have attempted to contain and trap their anger for centuries, but it still lives inside. 

Held anger seethes and foments into resentment, contempt, rage and even depression. 

Projecting anger explosively outward isn’t any better.  Besides destroying relationships, it also diminishes your immune system.  It heightens the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and testosterone, increasing your blood pressure, risk of heart disease and heart attacks if you habitually express your anger in this way.  Both suppression and projection of anger manifest in your body with detrimental health issues ranging from insomnia, depression, headaches, stomach issues, ulcers, arthritis and skin problems to high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.

You have a “Stand Up Guardian” in Anger

It seems this culprit causes nothing but problems.  So why do we have this emotion of anger?  Think about when it arises.  It is present, along with fear, when you are in danger and need to protect yourself.  Anger speaks loudest when you have been violated.  It arises when your values have been confronted or abused.  Anger defends your ethics and morality.  If by your standards and perspective you are treated unfairly, exploited, or your self-respect and esteem have been injured, anger will come forth to defend your honor.  Anger is the “Stand-Up Righteous Guardian” that validates your beliefs and vindicates your self-worth.  It keeps you from passively giving up and being helpless.  Anger offers an internal validation that you and your values are worthy of upholding.  It nurtures an inner sense of strength to hold and preserve your dignity increasing your responsiveness and self-empowerment.  It can bring you out of grief, despair and depression.  Its forceful energy creates heat and expansive movement throughout every cell of your body stimulating your verve for life.  You may be inspired to take action to right injustices or to make a healthy change in your life.   

What are your expectations, beliefs, values, desires, needs, wants, and what attracts you?  Anger will help you find out.  If something doesn’t turn out how you think it should or when you want something and cannot obtain it, what happens?  Anger will shout, “I lost the game because they cheated; my partner betrayed me; that reckless#### driver is going to cause an accident; she took the last piece of pie and I wanted it; I hate waiting in line.” Anger can be very self-serving and self-protective of resources and desires.  It can show you when you are being self-righteous and conversely when you are magnanimously protecting and serving others.  With inner reflection it will show you what deserves to be upheld. 

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know all about You

Figuring out how it shows up for you is part of the task of meeting and getting to know anger.  For some, its appearance is so bold and disruptive that there is no doubt that anger has surfaced.  For others, the slow burn of apathy, criticism and bitter cynicism can disguise its signature bluster.  It is good to know your own temperament.  How often do you recognize yourself experiencing anger?  If you yell, scream, shout, and rage, you know anger is there.  Anger is also present when you are irritated, annoyed, resentful, bitter, insulting, cross, contemptuous or offensive. 

What is your Current Relationship with Anger? 

Do you find it beneficial, are you unaware of it, or is it causing you or others harm?  Is it affecting your relationships? 

Your Anger Style

How do you respond when anger is present?  Do you generally suppress or project?  Do you react quickly or slowly?  Are you more passive or aggressive?  Are you assertive and reasonable?  The passive aggressive and purely aggressive reactions may help you in the short term, yet in the long run these are always destructive to healthy relationship. Your anger style is a learned response.  No matter how strong the habit you have developed, it is not fixed in stone.  You have the power of choice.  

Knowing your prevalent style enhances your ability to choose a healthier response that is beneficial for you and others. 

Passive Aggressive:

Silencing, withdrawing, being cold, manipulating, being contemptuous or resentful, having righteous indignation, holding a grudge, gossiping, being mean, taking revenge 

Aggressive:

Nagging, relentless verbal expression, obnoxiousness, insulting, intimidating, baiting, bullying, controlling, yelling, screaming, fighting, raging, hitting and causing physical harm

What to do When Anger Surfaces; Slowing down the Reaction

Breathe…always…breathe:  This allows your reasoning mind to come on board and begin to calm the intensity of the anger. 

Be Aware of the Physical Sensations

Notice the actual physical sensations in your body and where the anger originates.  Where is it located in your body? Does it move? What is the temperature?  Scan your body.  What do you sense in your stomach, your chest, your throat, your arms, you’re your head?  Do your muscles tense?  Does your face flush or teeth grind?  Are you more alert?  Does your energy expand or contract or is there a mixture with some parts of you tightening or contracting and some of the energy expanding?  Do you have an urge to confront, attack or fight? 

Be Aware of your Impulse to React

This is the moment of choice.  Pushing down anger by ignoring it or acting out anger has its consequences.  Be aware of your first impulse and choose a better response.

What is Anger Upholding?

Before responding consider what anger is defending, endorsing, supporting or vindicating.  What is motivating the anger?

Value: Is this a moral or ethical value that is important to you?  Is there an injustice occurring?  Have you been violated or abused?  What is at stake if you do or do not uphold this value?

Need: Is my need necessary for survival?  Is it giving me the energy to move out of sadness, grief, depression or a dangerous situation?  Perhaps it is inspiring you take on a challenge.

Self Esteem & Identity: When you are judged or when you judge yourself as being unacceptable, anger offers you the impetus to value and esteem yourself.  There are healthy ways to stand up for yourself.  Try to refrain from criticizing, taking revenge or attacking. 

Wants and Desires: Is my desire in line with my highest good?  Does it respect the needs, values and desires of others?  Am I being self-serving or in service to all of life?

Expectations: Do I experience anger when I do not meet an expectation of myself?  Do I react with resentment when I believe others have failed to do or act in the way I expected?  Am I angry if I do not get my way?  Can I accept and forgive when expectations are not met?

Self Righteousness: Anger is used to uphold a false sense of being better than others.  False pride feels empowering but it actually diminishes your authentic self worth.  Do I believe I am ‘the one’ with the correct knowledge and rules or that my values are the only right ones without considering others viewpoints, ethics or values? 

Past Hurt and Guilt:  Anger can be triggered when an unresolved painful situation or trauma from the past is similar to something happening in the present.  Anger attempts to bring forth resolution for our past hurts and failures.  Am I locked in the past and taking my stored fury out on the present circumstance?

 

Rather than backing away from anger, I have found that it can be a resource pointing me in the direction of what is truly ailing me.  Finding resolution occurs when there is deep reflection on the source, the consequences of reacting, and identifying what is truly important.  Conflict is still not my favorite cup of tea, and anger often is contentious, but my comfort level has increased.  Knowing that I primarily contain my anger has helped me to find it, welcome it and look it in the eye.  An honest assessment of what is motivating the underlying root of anger has enabled me to discern how to respond in ways that sustain communication and relationships.  

 

Before changing your dynamic of anger with others, you must first develop a relationship with anger realizing it is the Guardian of your most cherished values.  It is a helpful companion that offers a moral compass.  When you use this energy to inquire into the true source of what it is upholding, you can resolve much of the inner pain.  Your “Stand Up” Guardian will give you the emotional courage and strength to uphold your life, and to strengthen values and esteem, without destructive consequences.

____________________________________________________________________

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice as an Individual and Couples Psychotherapist for over five years as well as an International Spiritual Teacher.  At the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years, she is grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

She is a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit.  Her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  

When Friends and Family Disapprove || Dorothy Wallis

What Happens to You when Your Family or Friends Disapprove
By Dorothy Wallis

disapprove

 

Conflict is difficult for me.
Life has taught me that my desire for everyone to get along and be in harmony is an almost impossible expectation. I especially struggle when family members show disappointment and criticize my choice to do something, be with someone or be somewhere that goes against what they desire or want. It feels as though I am being torn apart and made to decide between my life and the people I love. No matter what choice I make someone will be hurt. In the past, guilt would tear at my heart and eat me up. The pain would muddle my thoughts and hold my energy hostage. I could not be fully present to my own needs. It created a “No-Win” situation for my family, my friends and me.

Does this dynamic sound familiar? Have you ever struggled with family or friends competing for your time or not approving of your choices, beliefs or ideas? It may be your choice of activities, career, friends, relationships, or the lifestyle you desire that does not meet the approval of what others want or expect for you. How do you navigate the demands of family, friendships and your own desires? We often underestimate how much we value the acceptance and approval of our family, friends and peers. Disapproval can leave you feeling confused or guilty about your choice of whom you love or whom you spend your time with. It can undermine your ability to trust your decisions and even affect your self-esteem.

Frenzied Fracturing
Reactions of those close to you may range from criticism, resentment, anger and condemnation to the “silent treatment” and withdrawal when you make a choice that differs from theirs. Some may gossip to others about how they cannot understand your actions or choices, how irresponsible you are or berate you for not following what is expected.

The backlash stems from their attempts to assuage their own hurt and fear and reel you back into what helps them feel safe and right.

Of course these reactions feel controlling and manipulative because they are. Humans have an instinctual impulse to belong to ensure safety, security and connection for survival and emotional well-being. When you move into unknown realms or make choices that do not include the beliefs or desires of your family and friends, it often disturbs their sense of attachment and security. Emotional pleas, manipulation and outbursts to change your mind or direction are attempted in order to reconnect and bring you back into the fold.

The concern of your relatives and friends may seem like an expression of love and care and in fact, they may love you deeply and want the best for you. Yet, when your choices, decisions and ideas are disparaged and unheard, it certainly is not a loving response; it is experienced as disrespect, an attack and often as abuse.

“Their disapproval buried me in disappointment and condemnation diminishing and devouring my sense of self. Voiceless, I shrank in confusion. Guilt crept in and I questioned my judgment. At the same time, another energy arose to push back; I felt anger.”

Your reflex to protect and defend your self-respect and autonomy arises and it is difficult not to become defensive or react with anger. To keep the peace, you may fall silent, withdraw and seethe inside with hurt. After awhile, you realize that you are caught in a reactionary dynamic that is not getting anyone back into harmony.

Time to Look Inward
The first step in finding harmony with others is to discover what is going on inside of you. The deeper truth is that your need for connection and relationship is bumping up against your need for autonomy and self-determination. You are gripped in internal conflict and confusion because these two are both primary needs. The desire for approval is linked to your need to belong. There would be no conflict if you did not care.

“Personal autonomy is the desire to determine our values and live the life we choose without control by others.”

When caught in this conundrum begin by recognizing what each of these needs is saying to you. Find the Emotional Truth by asking yourself: “What are my emotions expressing?

What is your “knee-jerk” reaction when emotions arise?
Do you react with anger, blame, feelings of guilt or shame? These first reactions are telltale signs that something deeper is going on inside of you. None of these reactions will resolve your differences with others.
• Do I fight back, get angry, run away, become stubborn, pout, shut down, go along to get along or please others, withdraw, silence, sulk, criticize, blame, get mean or retaliate?

How much of the following emotions relate to your need to belong and to be loved? How do they relate to your need for autonomy and self-direction?

Do emotions of guilt or shame arise?
• Am I afraid of the consequences of choosing, believing or thinking something different?
• Am I afraid of not being liked or accepted?
• Do I believe there is something wrong with me or that others will reject me in some way?
• Am I afraid that I am making the “wrong” decision?

Does anger arise? Anger speaks to the need for protection.
• Do you feel emotionally or verbally attacked? Have your boundaries been violated?
• Do you feel obligated to go along with others even though you disagree? What are the consequences and benefits of going along?
• Do you feel manipulated or controlled?
• Are your values being attacked or not acknowledged or considered?
• Look underneath the anger; do you feel hurt?

If you feel hurt, what is underlying the hurt?
• Do I want to be understood?
• Do I want approval or support for my choices, beliefs, ideas and decisions?
• Do I want to be accepted for who I am?
• Do I want to belong and am concerned that I will be left out, rejected or abandoned if I don’t go along with what others want or think?
• Do I feel invisible or unheard?
• Do I want to be respected and loved?

Embodying your Emotional Truth brings Freedom
When you have clarity about the Emotional Truth of the situation, you are able to see what is causing your internal struggle and ease the pain. You are able to weigh your desire for acceptance and belonging with your need to be true to your inner guidance and discern what really matters to you. With the knowledge of your real feelings and desires, you can take appropriate action in healthier ways to remain connected. There is a greater chance for harmony and resolution when you are centered in your authentic purpose.

And…you know what, more often than not, I have found that when I have reconciled my own struggle for my need to love and belong with my need to follow my heart’s direction, the conflict does melt away. I am able to reach out from a place of compassionate caring, respecting my own emotional needs and boundaries with a willingness to listen and respect other’s viewpoints. I may be uncomfortable when those I care about are hurt, disappointed or react. What I recognize is their fear of losing connection and control and their need for love and understanding. Remarkably, when I allow others the freedom to decide what is important for them without the need to change them, I gain greater respect for myself and the strength to move in the direction of my truth.

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www.TheDorWay.com
www.Heartfulnesspath.com

A Look at Codependency || Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

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As inherently social creatures, relationships are an integral aspect of our daily lives. From various relationships, we gain information about our surrounding environments, receive support as well as validation in our personal experiences and can even find a sense of purpose in our engagements with others. It is true that some of this should come from an internal sense of self; however, relational experiences greatly influence our self-perceptions and emotional experiences. When relational experiences aren’t positive or helpful, we are more susceptible to negative self-perceptions, which in some instances may contribute to mental illness. Those that experience isolation and a lack of connection often struggle with feelings of loneliness and depression. If this need isn’t met, we might look to unhealthy or addictive behaviors as a means of coping with the associated difficult feelings. Similar to a hunger pain, loneliness is a signal that something crucial to our survival is absent. It has been thought that our large brains, language skills and emotional intelligence are all tailored to navigate complex interpersonal relationships.

After all, what is the point of having group relationships if we are unable to share ideas, support one another and problem solve together.

As a species, we have evolved to survive by functioning as a group, making interpersonal connections is crucial to our happiness and ability to thrive. Many social psychologists would agree that relationships are our greatest source of happiness, while they may also be our greater source of stress when those relationships are absent or in distress. Despite our knowledge of the importance of relationships, we often stigmatize our innate need and genuine care for others. In a culture that places a high priority on independence, the term codependency gets a bad rap, all despite a universal and inherent need for interpersonal relationship.

The truth becomes that we are all codependent and that this can actually be a healthy aspect of the ways in which we strive to meet our needs.

Think of your family and closest friends, most of us have emotional reactions to their struggles and consequently possess a desire to offer care, as well as support during these times. Similarly, when we experience pain in our own lives, we often turn to our closest allies for support, advice, or consolation. As we can see, some degree of interdependence is necessary, healthy, and often helpful to our ability to survive and thrive. Despite this, there are times when codependency can become problematic. The true question becomes, when is codependency problematic?

The term codependency has become somewhat of a buzzword. It was originally brought into focus in regards to partners in relationship with alcoholics or addicts. The role of the codependent in these relationships relates to the ways in which they might enable the alcoholic to avoid the negative implications of their addiction. For example, the enabling partner might call the workplace of the alcoholic claiming he/she is sick. Or, the enabling partner may stay in the relationship despite the alcoholic’s inability to contribute emotionally or financially. The enabling partner strives to maintain the relationship despite their own suffering as a result of the alcoholic’s inability to be accountable to their behaviors and responsibilities.

Codependency becomes a point for concern when an enabling dynamic further facilitates the problematic behaviors of an involved party.

Additionally, issues with codependency arise when this dynamic fosters the suffering of another, or prevents involved parties from being capable of meeting their individual needs due to overextending themselves for others. Another indication that relationship dynamics may be unhealthy relates to a lack of mutual, genuine and empathic care. If you find yourself consistently overextending yourself for your partner, you may benefit from more closely examining these relationship dynamics. Signs and symptoms of unhealthy codependency: 

-You’re constantly playing the role of caregiver. 

-You consistently require approval, recognition and validation from others. 

-You fear abandonment and loneliness. 

-You feel guilty when advocating for yourself.

-You stay in relationships with hurtful/unhealthy people.

You might be wondering why would someone remain in such an unhealthy relationship. The reason for this often lies within the individuals’ sense of self. Often, unhealthy codependent relationships stem from the enabling individuals negative self image. They may feel that if they do not overextend themselves in the relationship, that they will become lonely, or that they aren’t worthy of a healthier relationship.

The broken sense of self derives validation from the dysfunctional relationship.

Codependency becomes unhealthy when it prevents the individual from advocating for themselves in the relationship. This relates to a certain fear of losing the relationship simply because they also have needs. In this way, the unhealthy codependent continues to find themselves in unsatisfying relationships where their needs for connection and genuine care are not met. These maladaptive relationship strategies perpetuate the core belief that the individual is not worthy of a healthy and satisfying relationship. Generally, these unhealthy codependent relationships impair personal growth and elicit a great deal of emotional, as well as psychological pain.

We all possess a need for social connection and support, with this, we are all to some extent naturally codependent. However, certain unhealthy relational dynamics greatly contribute to interpersonal distress and emotional suffering. You may have heard the old adage- if it hurts, don’t do it. These words of wisdom most definitely apply to our relationships. If you find yourself continually in a relationship that leaves you feeling used, hurt, and taken advantage of, then it may be beneficial to take a close look at a possible unhealthy codependent situation.

It’s important to remember that you deserve a healthy, balanced and supportive relationship.

Why you ask? Well, because… you are enough just the way you are! We are all entitled to our own happiness, with happiness and relationships so closely related we all deserve healthy, supportive relationships. If you find yourself in an unhealthy codependent relationship, although it may take a great deal of courage, there is a way out and that first step can most definitely lead to a more satisfying interpersonal situation. It is possible to limit enabling behaviors, advocate for your needs, set clear boundaries, find healthier relationships and regain a positive sense of self.

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Finally, if you feel that you would benefit from some support in improving your relationship dynamics, a qualified psychotherapist may be the key to more satisfying relational situation. Most importantly, never forget that you are enough and you deserve happy, healthy relationships.

 


About the Author: Craig is one of the many exceptional interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 4 years of experience as a Mental Health Counselor working in residential, crisis and hospital settings, Craig is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Craig is a gentle, compassionate and genuine person who works to tailor his therapeutic approach to the specific needs of each and every individual. He enjoys working with a wide variety of individuals with various life experiences and personal interests. For more information or to contact Craig, please see his therapist bio.

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