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Bursting Popular Myths about Love
I don't mean to pop anyone's balloon but ... with Valentines Day coming up, there are a lot of myths out there about love and romance that need bursting. Here is one of the most common misconceptions about our most important experience :
Love is natural and "just happens" .
Maybe a neurochemical response to phenylethylamine (PEA) just happens but that's not love - it's sexual attraction. There is nothing wrong with sex but ... PEA wears off on its own and that kind of "love" will fade unless it is protected and nurtured.
Love, on the other hand, takes intentional effort and consideration for the other person. Caring for someone else is in fact is quite unnatural. Love is what lifts us out of our own natural selfishness and allows us to think about the welfare of someone other than our selves. It's not easy and we aren't perfect but love (not sex) is what motivates us to express our better selves.
I'll be back soon with the 411 on other love myths as we countdown to Valentine's Day .
Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC, Fellow A.A.P.C. 2 6 2016
How to Make a Worry List: The Importance of Emotional Triage
We all know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed. Whether you suffer from a diagnosable anxiety disorder or you just have normal worries, life can sometimes be too much, Luckily there is a simple technique to help you better manage your stress and reduce your uneasiness. It’s called the Worry List.
Even though we sometimes think that we can multi-task, research shows that that is really an illusion. In fact, one of the most stressful experiences of everyday life is when we feel overloaded, i.e. that sense that what has to be done is more than what can be done.
Fortunately our emotions are often distorted and exaggerated. Things are rarely as bad as they seem. Emotional triage is helpful a way to rationally examine our fears and reasonably address problems and obligations we face.
The key to reducing our anxiety and feeling more in control is to:
- Realize that we can’t do everything at once and, thus,
2) We must prioritize the relative significance of each obligation.
3) Address each item in the order of its importance.
If you have ever been to an emergency room, then you know that triage is the first step to being seen. Hospitals know that emergencies are not all the same and that some must be treated as soon as possible while others can wait. For example, someone who is having trouble breathing or whose heart is in distress or who is bleeding gets priority over someone with a broken arm.
The same logic applies to dealing with our emotional stress only in stead of going to an ER, all we need to do is to get a pencil and paper to write out a “worry list”. Making a worry list is easy and very satisfying.
- You start by taking an inventory of all the things that bother you. Just write them down in no particular order.
- Then, go through each item on the list and ask yourself just how urgent it really is. You may want to divide your worries into categories such as urgent , semi-urgent or non-urgent to further organize tghings.
- Finally, go through each category and assign a number or what is literally #1, #2 , #3 on your list and so on. This number will then be the order in which you address each issue. It’s just like in a bakery, you deal with each item when its number comes up.
It is amazing how powerful this simple exercise is and how quickly it reduces the feelings of stress and being out of control. Organizing and sequencing a large number of things to do gives us a needed sense of having control.
Again, the important two things to remember is that our initial belief that everything had to be done all at once was false and that it’s impossible to everything all at once anyway, so stop trying. It is calming to realize that everything will be taken care of but, that each issue must wait its turn.
Patience is a learned virtue for ourselves and others. With a little practice you will soon develop confidence and experience the relief that comes from employing the worry list. It is wonderful to discover that everything that you thought was a crisis and needed immediate attention, wasn’t and didn’t. Good Luck !
Rev. Michael Heath 1 25 2016
Want More Intimacy In Your Relationship? Try Sharing Your Dreams
Many couples express a longing for greater closeness and intimacy in their, marriage or relationship. One very helpful way, which is unfortunately often overlooked, is to share their dreams with one another.
Dreams can be conscious and intentional goals or aspirations like getting a better job or losing weight but they can also be those bizarre and confusing things that we only have glimmers of when we awake from sleep. While the former often express our conscious desires to improve and make positive changes in our lives, the latter commonly reveal unconscious struggles and conflicts about things that bother or threaten us.
It is important to remember that intimacy in a relationship is more than desire or affection. It is also a deep knowledge and trust of the other person. True intimacy is achieved when both partners are able to feel safe enough with each other to expose and share vulnerable and unresolved anxieties. Sharing and talking about bits of mysterious dreams is a wonderful way not only to share those parts of yourself which are not fully understood but it’s also a good way for both partners to learn together and increase both self-awareness and knowledge of the other.
Although this might sound like psychotherapy, it's important to know that you don't need a psychiatrist to learn from your dreams. All you need is a curiosity about yourself and your partner and a willingness to talk and see where your conversations take you. It is amazing what connections from your past and present life that you can make. The remnant images and feelings of dreams, no matter how bizarre or nonsensical can provide openings for dialog and personal discovery on many levels.
Personally, I believe that dreams are like postcards from our unconscious , that is that part of our awareness which is beyond our conscious or intentional perception, i.e. the stuff our brain knows but is just outside our immediate awareness. Talking about the bits sometimes opens up our vision and creates a new perspective. It allows us to connect the heretofore unconnected dots and see important patterns of meaning.
The content of the post cards often express different and sometimes conflicted parts of our experience and convey worry and anger as well as excitement and joy. They are, in other words, another path to discover our what is ultimately important to use - our fears and hopes and joys, the very stuff intimate sharing is made of.
Seeing the patterns and becoming more aware of our unfinished issues, whether they are from old emotional wounds or from present challenges is not only important for our own emotional health but also for the health of our relationships. Being able to mutually talk about and share puzzling elements of our dreams is not only a non-threatening way to learn more about one another but is also an excellent way to build trust and intimacy.
Rev. Michael Heath LMHC, Fellow A.A.P.C. 1 12 2016