Tag: express yourself

Happy couple looking out at the water

Relationships: Hard Work or Adventure?

Successful relationships are a Work in Progress

Has your relationship become stale or filled with constant conflict? It’s probably because it’s stopped growing.

Do you even look at your partner anymore? Or if you do is it only when you’re mad? Relationships stop growing when we think we know everything there is to know about ourselves and our partner. If you’re feeling bored, lonely or frustrated in your relationship then it’s an indication that growth and progress has stopped.

Let’s change the word ‘work’ to Adventure and Curiousity.

The truth is, you don’t know everything about yourself, so how could you know everything about your partner. They probably don’t understand themselves fully either. Few people do. And when you’re truly okay with that it can become exciting and an adventure to find out more.

Why would I want to? I can hear you thinking….

Because thinking you know everything feels safe..Yes safe can be good… except that to make a relationship safe you have to make it fit into a box. It’s safe from change but it’s also limited from growth. Feeling safe is enticing until it becomes boring, suffocating and lonely.

Being Curious means actively learning to understand yourself and that is called Differentiation.

Differentiation in simple terms means being okay to be different and letting others/your partner be different as well.

Here’s an interview with a couples therapist Ellyn Bader talking about Differentiation in Relationships.

I think a lot of partners have the misperception that they’ll lose their relationship if they differentiate. There is a fear of really showing yourself as deeply, as broadly and as expansively as you might.

Defining Differentiation in Couple Relationships

I define differentiation as the active ongoing process of a person being able to define their thoughts, their feelings, their wishes and their desires to one another and to be able to tolerate the partner doing the same thing.
When people are afraid of differentiating, they are afraid if they show their authentic self and the other one doesn’t like it or doesn’t agree with it, that they’re going to end up in a big fight or they’re going to end up with the other person leaving. When that’s true, they don’t show themselves very well to each other.

Why Relationships Fail

When you look at why relationships fail over the course of time, one of the core reasons that relationships fail is due to a lack of differentiation. Without differentiation, relationships get stale. Interactions become repetitive and partners end up bored or lonely. They end up bored because the relationship isn’t growing and it isn’t changing, or they end up just competing with each other and being really angry and really nasty to each other. That’s one of the reasons that relationships fail.
Another reason is the re-triggering of old trauma. Partners over time trigger and re-stimulate either old trauma in each other or also they do hurtful things in the here and now to each other that can be very traumatic. Either way, with the lack of differentiation or with trauma, people need skills and capacities in order to manage themselves well in a primary relationship.

The most stuck relationships are those where each person wants to keep the other unchanging. They remember how they were when they met and they want that to last forever.
Then they don’t explore or push each other to grow. They don’t take risks or try new things. It becomes a very, very narrow way of living in the world.

Differentiation is the route to aliveness and expansiveness, to authenticity and vulnerability, and resolving conflicts and handling not liking each other at times.

Most of us have learned to define ourselves in terms of what we do and spend little time understanding our inner workings.

If you’d like more aliveness in your life whether you’re in a relationship or not find a way to challenge your norms. Start questioning your default behaviour and try doing something different. Look at your partner with different eyes as if you’ve never seen them before.

If you have any questions I’d be happy to help. Or check out some of my other blogs with tips and suggestions.

Excerpt taken from The Couples Institute Blog Differentiation Blog by Ellyn Bader

Calm Anxiety And Boost Confidence with Body Language

Have you been looking in the wrong places to calm anxiety and boost confidence? You’re not alone.

Our feelings and thoughts are constantly being communicated whether we’re aware of it or not because most of what we’re saying is expressed through our body language not just our words.

Your body speaks, mainly, in these ways.

1) Internally through emotions and feelings.

2)Externally to the world through your body language and postures.

3)Outwardly through spoken words.

Out of those, 80% of what others are receiving is through our body language. That’s a lot!! Only a small portion is words and tone of voice, the rest is appearance, movements, gestures and facial expressions. Meaning people take in more with their eyes than with their ears.

It contradicts what we’ve believed  for so long that words are the most powerful tool. People often come to counselling looking to learn new words to use when it’s really their emotions and thoughts that are doing most of the communicating.

No matter what you’re job or situation is, communicating effectively is important. To maintain the message you want to get across you need awareness of your body’s emotions and signs. So much time is spent in our heads thinking, worrying and figuring out life that we don’t pay attention to our bodies. Give your brain a break…for your health and happiness’ sake.

Try these exercises anytime to Raise energy, Boost confidence and Calm Anxiety:

RAISE your energy level and your mood.

Before you reach for another coffee to stimulate you try this. Stand up and do five or six jumping jacks, jog on the spot or swing your arms around for 2 minutes. Do something to get your blood flowing. How does that feel? Is your heart beating faster, breathing deeper, is your body warmer with a flow of energy? Your mood will often change as well as you bring oxygen into your brain and body.

CALM your stress and anxiety

. When you’re tense before an important meeting or interview do this quick check in to calm you down.

Close your eyes and let all the air out of your lungs. Take a deep breath into your belly feeling your belly then your chest expand. Hold the breath for 4 counts then exhale and hold the exhale for 4 counts. Repeat this 5 times. Return to your regular breathing pattern. With your eyes closed give your body a quick scan. Feel your feet on the ground, notice your legs and back touching the seat. Move up and around your body with your inner eyes. Are your shoulders tense? How is your chest feeling.. open? tight? move into your belly and feel around like it’s a container. Use your awareness and inner eyes to move over the sides of the container. Notice any pain, tension or lightness anywhere in your body. Breath into whatever you experience. Take one more deep breath and open your eyes.                                   If you were able to relax then you should be feeling calm and grounded. The bonus to this breathing exercise is it increases your insight, clarity and health as well.

BOOST confidence. Another exercise to do before a big meeting or interview is to stand in what social psychologist Amy Cuddy calls the high power pose for 2 minutes. Research proved that by doing this your testosterone level goes up which effects your ability to handle stress and feel assertive, confident and comfortable. Watch her full TED talk here

Your body is speaking are you paying attention?

Like just changing the words you use helps only in the short term if you have a persistent pattern or behaviour in your life contact me for a consultation to see how counselling can help.

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