Archive for February, 2010

Gimme a Double Shot

February 23, 2010

Did you know there are two brain chemicals any relationship can’t be without? One is Oxytocin – the cuddle chemical, which is the feeling we get when we are safely held or think about our beloveds. The other is dopamine, the natural high, that we get from a good belly laugh, vigorous exercise or being pleasantly surprised.

Both of these hormones move to shut down the stress hormone cortisol. What does this mean and how does it relate to my relationship? Let’s talk about oxytocin here.

Not only does touch stimulate production of oxytocin, but oxytocin promotes a desire to touch and be touched: it’s a feedback loop that can have wonderful results. Oxytocin makes us feel good about the person who causes the oxytocin to be released, and it causes a bonding between the two people. Nursing a baby produces oxytocin in both mother and child, and this is a major part of what initially bonds the mother and her baby. Even thinking of someone we love can stimulate this hormone; when women in good relationships were asked to think about their partners, the level of oxytocin in their blood rose quickly.

Every time you get a shot of oxytocin, you will feel calmer and more content. You will feel a sense of love and happiness. Love is like oxygen for humans. We are all looking for love and we really crave feeling it as much as possible. This is because finding a secure attachment bond is encoded in our brains when we are infants, and we are wired to search for it in an adult love partner. When we feel safe and loved, our worlds are expansive. When we feel scared and hurt in our relationships our world narrows. We actually feel these sensations in our bodies. We are attachment addicts and we are always looking for a fix. The brain is a powerful thing.

Unconsciously it is as if we are asking the eternal questions:

Are you there for me?

Do I matter to you?

Can I depend on you?

Am I really important to you?

These are questions that those of us in relationships feel but are usually afraid to ask. This is where the oxytocin part comes in.

The more oxytocin we have flowing through our bodies the easier it is to answer yes to all of the above questions. The better we feel. Monogamy and long term love make sense.

You might wonder how you can get a shot of Love Potion #9….

Reach and out and touch your Partner!

Hold hands!

Give a shoulder massage or a foot rub!

Sit close while watching TV!

Orgasm (that’s always a good one)

Look at a photograph of your sweetie.

So, pull out your favorite pic of your lover, just look at it and let the feelings wash over your body…feeling it yet?

Feels good doesn’t it?

Dare ya –

Do one thing this week that non-verbally expresses to your partner that they really matter to you. Tack that special picture up on the wall where you can see it. Now look, really look, and smile back.

Yours really truly,

T & M

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Valentines Day…..Again

February 14, 2010

geishaboy500 / Flickr

Well folks here it is again, the day of…well, what is it to you?

This is what people tell me, and I must confess, I have thought all of these myself:

A capitalist plot. A day filled with love and gratitude. A big letdown day highlighted by unfulfilled needs and yearnings. An excuse to receive and eat chocolate.  An important day to deeply share in connection with your partner. A day in which there is some focus on romance and a good dinner out. A day a little more special than most.  The one day a year you are likely to feel really disappointed.  A day to just try to ignore.

All of these can be true depending on where your relationship is at in the present moment. It is a complex day because many people assign such significance to it and are sadly let down. Why?

I think it’s expectations.

C’mon, admit it. Don’t we all just wanna be that special someone to our partner and when our hopes and needs aren’t met just the way we want, we come crashing down, feeling hurt and rejected.

So…

Sister72 / Flickr

Here’s what I propose: DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO GO THERE. Do not, and I repeat DO NOT, have a set of unrealistic expectations you want your partner to meet (especially if you don’t even tell them what they are) and then feel terrible because they haven’t been met. And then do not, and I repeat DO NOT, go off and have a temper tantrum (quiet or loud) because once again you feel let down and just plain crappy about your love life.

Save yourself the heartache and instead try….

  • Focusing on the GIVING. Put your energy into giving something to your partner you know he or she will appreciate. Make it small and meaningful.
  • Do not let any money exchange hands to gift this.
  • Make it an unconditional gift and experience how it feels to do this in a mature way!

Get the picture? If you need some ideas here they are:

  • A massage.
  • A card you have made with a message from you about what you are grateful for about your partner.
  • A note you have made with a sweet poem you have found in a book or on the internet.
  • Sitting them down and telling them 6 things you really appreciate about them.
  • If you have kids, allow your partner to sleep in. Make breakfast for the family.
  • Try a new recipe for dinner and remember the candles on the table.
  • Ask to go for a walk and have fun: do not bring up a complaint!

Send me other ideas and we’ll add them to the list.

Keep it simple and keep it real!

Dare ya –

Work with yourself to stretch and grow-up a little more. Mentally prepare yourself to GIVE unconditionally and notice how this feels. In order to do this it takes real emotional preparation because you will be using your big brain. Your limbic system will not like it one little bit. Be curious and relax. I know you can do it!!!!!

Dali Lama Style

February 8, 2010

arjuna_zbycho / Flickr

Have you ever wondered where the word compassion originates?

It’s a Greek word which means “to suffer with”.

T learned that at a forum on compassion held in Vancouver in the Fall of 2009 in which his Holiness, the Dali Lama, was in conversation with Nobel Laureates.

How does this relate to my relationship you might wonder? Is it just us or do many of us forget the compassion when it comes to their beloved? Why is it such a challenge for most of us? Compassion seems so simple. That may be true it just isn’t easy!

We believe this is the reality for most of us. It’s really hard to let our partner’s experience just be. Instead we usually slip into judging our partner. Yet we can often show deep compassion for other people in our lives. We are sometimes more compassionate to strangers and even animals than to the person we love and commit to most.

What’s up with that?

Consider this.

Most of us think we have the right to judge our partners. We tell them what to think. How to think. What they think. What they should do. What they should not do. We even tell our partners who they are.

So to “suffer with” my partner, to show compassion, really means I have to experience and accept my partner for who they actually are. Wow, that means I have to accept that they are really different from me.

What’s hard about this is that we think to feel close and connected to our partners means we have to be more the same than different. But often this is not the case. We are actually very different. What happens next? This brings up insecurity and fear for most of us. When we feel insecure we start to judge our partner and blame them. Oh yeah, don’t forget my (T) personal favorite…disapproval and trying to change them.

My story: For me (T) I came to realize that to show real compassion meant I had to find a place in my heart where I could accept Sarah for who she is even when I do not like how she is being. Believe me there are many moments when this is more difficult than childbirth. Yet when I can really let go and not give into the energy and anxiety of my reactions, I really let go and I am free.

On a great day I can feel acceptance for Sarah, real compassion for her, and know deep inside we are two, not one. Breathing helps.

Dare ya –

Close your eyes and visualize your partner in your mind. Their smile, their eyes, their laugh, all of their sweetness. Notice how you feel in your body when you do this. Remember how safe you can feel in the presence of your partner when you allow yourself. Breathe in compassion. Compassion for their life story and all of who they are. Give yourself permission to let your partner be exactly who they are. Allow the feeling of compassion for who they are to flow through your body. Do this every day at least 1 time per day for 2 weeks. We promise, it will start to feel really good.

Yours really truly,

T

Dynamic Attack!!!!!!

February 1, 2010

How’s it been going since you left the workshop?

Whether you have been dialoguing or not, keep reading…..

Let’s start with a few important reminders:

  1. Your relationship will take time and energy.
  2. Sometimes, and more than we’d like, our limbic brain’s control our behaviours and we react in ways we wished we hadn’t.
  3. Whatever you are going through, no matter where you are at, it is ALL NORMAL.
  4. We all just want to be loved.

Okay so what’s the point?

After our first workshop we left in a much better place than when we came in. Guess what? Sometime later something big or small happened and bam, we were back in an old place again.

But were we?

Yes and No.

Yes  because it is all old stuff, that never really changes. Remember, our dance is our dance. Both of us create it and we do it over and over…

That’s  the bad news.

So what’s the good news?

We really can do it differently, even if it seems the same. We do have some new skills, even if we forget to use them. Do not despair, instead have a dialogue – it will save your relationship.

But why does it keep happening? Same old fight, same old issue, same old same old…..

Talk to your brain, it’s your brain’s fault. That old limbic system keeps hijacking you to respond in old protective ways that keep circling around and getting you stuck in a negative response cycle. By now you know this has a lot to do with you and your growing-up years and less to do with your partner.

Every relationship has its own very unique response cycle. Sometimes this is referred to as a dance. Tamara and Sarah coined their own version of this tem some years ago. They call it “the dynamic attack”

Here’s how it went down….

Imagine this… Shopping at a grocery store…. in the cereal department fighting over what kind to buy…. when Sarah called it. Out of her mouth came the words  ”Dynamic attack, dynamic attack”. Tamara began laughing hysterically because it was completely stupid to be fighting about cereal and we all know it wasn’t about cereal anyway. It was about control and who would be the one; the one to pick, to be listened to and to feel important. Cereal had very little to do with it.

Years later when they start up, about anything, whoever calls it first says, ”dynamic attack”. A little humour can go a long way when the – – – – is hitting the fan!

Dare ya –

Tell your partner our idea of coming up with a code word to “call it” when it’s happening and commit to take a time out if you need to (refer to the Time Out Protocol handout we gave out at the workshop). Then use the word at least 2 times this week. Remember to calm your brain, you can do it!

Yours really truly,

T