Family Articles

A Gift Guaranteed to Improve Your Love Life — and Brain? Make Your Relationship a Criticism-Free Zone

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

images-888Here’s a gift to add to your list of what to get him/her on that special day, which is guaranteed to boost your brain’s capacity to work for you, and at the same time improve your love relationship. There’s one condition, however: Both of you must give this gift wholeheartedly to one another to experience its life energizing effects.

What is this gift? It’s the gift of making your relationship a criticism-free zone. There’s perhaps nothing as corrosive to your physical health as well as your love relationship than criticism, at least certain types.

To clarify, expressing what you like or don’t like are not criticisms per se. It is healthy to make descriptive observations of a problem, explore what actions or habits work or do not work, make suggestions or requests for something you’d like to see happen or stop occurring, and the like, for example. All of these, potentially, are relationship building actions.

In contrast, criticisms are detrimental to your health and relationship specifically because they are attempts to resolve issues through the use of words that attack or judge or label a partner’s character in derogatory ways. What we’re talking about here are words or phrases, such as shame-, guilt- or fear-inducing statements, which are purposefully designed to get the other to change or stop a certain behavior — in other words, to give you the love you need, etc. They are also widespread because they consist of parenting practices most of us experienced as children.


The Latest on Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships? Three Types of Responses to Bids for Connection, 2 of 2

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Kindness0Advances in neuroscience inform us that our brains are social in nature, and that, as a species, we’re continually affecting one another’s mental and emotional states of mind and body. This is just one of the findings reported by cofounders of brain-based therapy, Drs. John Arden and Lloyd Linfor in the January/February 2010 publication of Psychotherapy Networker. “ In their words,

We write ‘brain’ as a singular, but in a real sense there’s no such thing as one, single brain—only brains and nervous systems in some sort of relationship to one another.

As discussed in Part 1, decades of research by Drs. John and Julie Gottman indicate that the longevity and happiness of a love relationship can be predicted with 97% accuracy, for couples in which both partners practiced habits of generosity and kindness toward the other. For the long haul, it takes two to tango.


The Latest on Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships? Both Partners Cultivate Two Key Traits, 1 of 2

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Kindness1It seems unfair. Of the many couples that get married each year, hoping to find lifelong companionship, lasting joy, friendship and fulfillment, only about 50% will stay married, and of those that do, the vast majority, about 70%, devolve into arrangements that are unsatisfying at best, and dysfunctional or even destructive at worst.

Cheer up, however. These trends are not necessarily bad news, at least not if you think of them as information regarding what works — and doesn’t — to create healthy, vibrant couple relationships! They speak to key elements that relationships need — must have — to stay alive and thrive; and they also point to unrealistic yet prevailing expectations that need to be identified, let go of and replaced. Why? Expectations are life shaping agents. If they form thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that limit the capacity of men and women to nourish and strengthen their love relationship, they are set ups for failure.


Couple Communications: 5 Prerequisites to Unlock Your Imagination (And Get Out of Stuck Places), 2 of 5

Monday, October 13th, 2014

couples comYes, resolving conflict is a worthy goal, and understanding “the problem” is also important. The biggest obstacles in couple communications, however, more often have to do with unlocking the heart and imagination of each partner to want to hear or listen to what the other says, to want to understand where each is coming from, and so on.

As discussed in Part 1, what you “see” subconsciously in your mind when you think of your partner and your relationship, or your “discussions” for that matter, may just be what you get.

There are are at least five prerequisites to unlocking your hearts — and subconscious minds — to break free of images and mindsets that keep each of you locked in reactive patterns, defensive showdowns, and the like.


The Relationship Building Power of Empathy: Seven Actions of Empathic Listeners, 3 of 3

Monday, March 31st, 2014

images-346Empathy empowers grace and harmony in our lives and relationships.

Without empathy, we’re not connected to the otherwise amazing inner resources available to help us restore or keep our connection to built-in capacities to think and feel, and, when necessary, to shift to optimal thoughts and feelings, imagine new possibilities, transform fears, make optimal choices, and ultimately grow wiser learning from our mistakes.

It is in empathic relationships that we learn to feel safe enough to compassionately connect with what is going on inside of us — rather than run away or react aggressively — when we feel triggered or stressed.

Part 1 outlined key intentions underlying empathy, and Part 2 listed three of seven actions that naturally flow from seeking to genuinely connect with another human being at deeper levels. Here are the remaining four:

4. Seek to understand (other) before being understood. 

This allows you to focus your attention on listening to understand the other’s heart with compassion (as you’d likely wish if you were them). In this place, you are present in mind and body, and are seeking what is in the highest interest of both, ultimately, to grow your compassion for your self and the other as human beings.


7 Rules to Protect Your Children from Marital Conflict

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

images-515Healthy parenting nurtures children. A parent’s nurturing presence provides the emotional connection that not only helps strengthen the parent-child relationship, but also teaches the child how to regulate his or her emotions. Since conflict between parents is inevitable, it’s important to note a few rules parents can use to protect their children from marital issues.

If you want your children to be confident, stand up for and respect themselves, they need to learn how to ask to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn to respect themselves, and to do so in the context of the family they grow up in formative years of their lives. Respect here does not mean obedience, it means mutual and unconditional respect for self and other as human beings. In other words, if your children had the cognitive and affective development of an adult (and they won’t until they’re about 25 years of age), and they wrote you a letter, they would say something like the following:


Three Obstacles to Intimate Communication Between You and Your Partner

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Loving KissCreative Commons License Pedro Ribeiro Simões via Compfight

Communication is the life tool with which we may create and strengthen our relationships, and relationships are all about emotional safety and meaningful connections.

Communication is a tool like no other. Whether verbal or nonverbal, it is to your emotional and mental health, and relationships, what food and water are to your body. You may be wondering, if talking is such a “loving” activity why do you experience so much pain in your communications with one of the most important persons in your life, your partner?


How to Argue to Live Authentically (and Strengthen Your Relationship) 1 of 3

Monday, January 20th, 2014

6135_1072891877077_522792_nEver find yourself in the same reactive discussion with your partner again and again?

Okay, the details may be different, but overall do you get into a scripted dialogue in which you can guess what your partner is going to say or do in reaction to something you say?

(Most likely, by the way, your partner likely feels the same way too.)

The stuck feelings seem all too familiar to couples in a relationship. Like others, both of you likely wonder, at times, whether there’s a chance of ever getting the love, understanding, acceptance, appreciation, romance, etc., you want. You know, the feelings you had at the start of your relationship. It seems you’ve tried everything. Is it too much to ask to feel valued, important — and connected — in your relationship?


Your Health, Your Brain & the Power of Gratitude — A Key to Happiness, 1 of 1

Friday, December 27th, 2013

001 GratitudeWhat makes gratitude so powerful?

Gratitude is an emotion we use to express appreciation and thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift. It’s much more, however.

A powerful agent, gratitude can propel us with unstoppable momentum to find ways to express, exclaim and proclaim it to the world, or another person, perhaps shouting from the rooftops!

Words may not suffice to express gratitude, but this cannot stop us from trying.


Five Nurturing “Be’s” for Parents to Add to Their To-Do List, 1 of 2

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

images-461It’s been said before. Relationships are like a baby mobile in that a slight touch on one side causes ripple effects felt throughout the system.

Our early relationships are particularly formative. It is in early years that our brains form structures that, absent a change causing event, subconsciously, serve as reference points for relating to self and others throughout life.

Parents are often provided what-to-do-or-not-do lists to promote healthy child development, less often is the focus on the quality of emotional presence parents can bring, at any given time, to interactions with their children. In this post, we discuss two of five states of being, or “BE’S,” that parents can use as guidelines to nurture healthy relating capacity in children.

Because our mind-body refers to these early structures automatically, how we parent makes a difference. When we were children, for example, our parents’ brains subconsciously set parameters in what emotions we “should’ or “shouldn’t” feel or express, according to their own taboos and belief systems.


 

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