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love | The Naked Divorce
Fight Right!

Do you know how to fight right in your relationship?

Learn how to fight the right way and avoid conflict with a new partner

Guess what? International Pillow Fight Day takes place this month (yes, there really is a day for everything, folks!).

And, while it might sound daft, there’s nothing like a light hearted playfight with your other half to let off steam, behave like big kids and descend into giggles together, whether that’s fighting with pillows, chasing each other with dishcloths or racing each other down the street.

In fact, in the early stages of a relationship, when the physical stuff is just getting going and you’re giddy and nervous around each other’s bodies, something as silly and harmless as a pillow fight often helps channel sexual tension and build intimacy.

Testing each other…

But while teasing each other and laughing about it will bring you closer together, not all fighting is good for your budding relationship. In fact, if you don’t figure out how to fight right early on, things can turn toxic.

That’s partly because, as research by psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg suggests, the neurobiological and psychological processes we go through when we experience love are worryingly close to those that spur on aggression.

To have a healthy relationship, you must learn to navigate between the two – to work out when your combative impulses are valid, and when they’re caused by fear or the strain of becoming emotionally vulnerable around someone new.

Because it’s okay to feel flushes of attraction, neediness, jealousy, possessiveness or the fear that someone could wound us – all of which very often come with falling in love.

But if you don’t handle these feelings properly, interrogating them fully and recognising when you’re repeating self-destructive behaviour from past relationship battles, you could wind up hurting your new love and yourself.

How not to fight

Ever found yourself in this situation? You’re on a date, things are going well, when you start talking about something a little more serious, or personal, maybe even political. Your date says something you don’t agree with and you question it, or express a different opinion. Immediately the atmosphere sours. They get angry or sink into a sulk. You struggle to pull the conversation back. Everything seems ruined.

Or maybe you’ve been chatting away quite comfortably – perhaps about something you’re a little raw about – and they say something insensitive or challenge you, out of the blue. You feel hurt, under attack, or insulted. Perhaps YOU get angry or upset. Perhaps YOU sulk.

The other person is bewildered. They don’t know what they’ve done. But you’re seething. Clearly, this wasn’t meant to be, right?

Take a deep breath

In either these situations, can you be sure either of you really did or said anything wrong?

Or did one of you just express yourself the wrong way?

Equally likely, is one of you still hurting, still stuck in the rut of your old relationship – ready to fly off the handle at a perceived slight because you can’t help but hear their words in your ex’s voice?

No one ever leaves a relationship unscathed. It takes work to heal and, until you have, you carry the scars. Perhaps you’ve ignored them so long you can’t even see or feel them anymore, but as soon as someone else says something that reminds you of the wound – even by accident – you can’t help picking at the scabs.

And suddenly, there you are, bleeding all over again. And you blame them for making the pain rush to the surface, even if they have no idea what they’ve done

Listen to your feelings –

But listen to where they’re coming from, too

Okay, you feel stung. Perhaps the other person really did step out of line, but perhaps they touched a nerve without meaning to.

Step away for a breather. Say you need to pop to the bathroom. Take a moment to pinpoint exactly what they said that hurt you. Ask yourself, reasonably, whether they could have known that it would have this effect.

Then, if you still feel unsettled, go back and calmly explain, rationally and without blame, what upset you and why.

Be gentle with each other

Its fine to explain things from your point of view, or to use personal anecdotes, to explain why you think the way you do. But don’t launch a personal attack on the other person’s character, personality, anxieties or perceived weaknesses to score a few points.

When you’re having a conversation about something like, say, politics, it’s essential to clarify that you aren’t criticizing the other person, you’re discussing something separate to both of you and that you care about understanding their point of view, even if you don’t agree with it.

Challenging someone’s behaviour

Even if you ARE challenging someone’s behaviour, stay on track. Emphasize that you are uncomfortable with a certain thing they did or said, and explain why. Don’t exaggerate or emotionally blackmail them, just calmly state your point of view. If they respect you, they should hear you and be willing to talk it through.

And if you can see someone getting upset and emotional, ask yourself whether you need to win this battle, right now, and whether you really want to injure them and potentially destroy your relationship in the process. What do you gain by tearing them to shreds?

Yes, this could be an issue that’s so important to you that you need to come back to the conversation another time. If so, wait until you’re both calm.

But perhaps you don’t need to push them so hard. Perhaps there’s a reason this subject has such a profound effect on them – one that you need to tease out in time, as trust develops.

Avoid escalation – and stay-on-track

As relationship counsellor Zach Brittle says:

Conflict discussion can go one of two directions. Generally when the discussion escalates, it ends badly and neither partner has gained any ground. When the conversation de-escalates, it creates room for dialogue. In order to prevent escalation, don’t find fault, don’t bring up the past and don’t keep going once the conversation is off the rails. Master couples have an ability to repair a conflict discussion early and often in order to keep it from escalating and becoming unproductive.

In other words, when an argument starts to get nasty, don’t fuel the fire. Recognise that, when thing get heated, it no longer matters who is wrong or right, because once you’re both angry, all you’ll care about is standing your ground.

Instead, take steps to diffuse it. Try to find the parts of what they’re saying that you DO agree with, and build from there, explaining where you feel slightly differently, and why.

And whatever you do, don’t let the argument shift into being about something else. If they try to move to goalposts, say something like: “Ok, I’m happy to talk about that too, but right now can we just stay on this one topic,” or even: “I’m not sure what we’re arguing about anymore. Shall we come back to this another time when we’re less het up?”

Be prepared to say sorry

Never underestimate the power of an apology.

If you know you said things that were harsh and cruel, you became aggressive, the other person was visibly upset, or there was anything about the way you behaved that now, in the cold light of day, seems unnecessary: SAY SORRY.

You don’t have to tell them they were right. You don’t have to back down from your stance or opinion. But DO apologise for the way you made them feel.

Be kind when you’re not fighting

Usually when disagreements explode into full-blown war, it’s because one or both of you already resentments or relationship anxieties bubbling away.

Going out of your way to show your partner that you see them, hear them, and support them during “peacetime” helps make them feel safer emotionally.

That means listening – really listening – to each other, celebrating each other’s successes, remembering to drop them a note or give them a call to check in when you know they’re worried, in need of a pep talk or outlet (for instance, before and after an interview, exam, presentation or dreaded doctor’s appointment). It also means simple, thoughtful things, like bringing them a cup of tea in the morning or running them a bath when they’re exhausted.

The point is, the more “cared for” someone feels, the less likely they are to let the claws ping out the second they feel threatened by a disagreement.

Oh, and when you start to annoy each other… maybe just have a pillow fight to ease the tension instead.

 

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I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments section below.

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Divorced – and shit at it

“Divorced – and shit at it”

I launched my Naked Divorce business on the back of my first book ‘Naked Divorce for women’ written over five years ago

Since then the business has grown and grown, and I’m delighted, and blessed to have been able to touch so many people’s lives as they wrestle with the chaos, despair and trauma of divorce. The transformations that take place in our programmes are truly stunning.

Sometimes I feel like I have been put on this planet to help people through their life traumas. I really do have the best job in the world – For example just earlier today one of my Relationship Counselling couples told me that not only was their relationship saved (they were on the brink of divorce just a few months ago), but they have just discovered to their delight that they are pregnant!

There were lot’s of tears of joy. And when I was told that would never have happened had it not been for me helping them – well let’s just say I was in lot’s of tears too.

Like I say, I really do have the best job. Honestly though, it’s not me, it’s the process. It just works. Sometimes my clients need me, or our Angels to assist them through the process – but ultimately it’s the process – what can I tell you, it’s the bomb-digidy!

OriginalBookLaunch
Adele’s original book launch at the largest Waterstone’s in London

 

Book Announcement

So I’m delighted to announce today for the first time, the launch of my new book for women (men you’re gonna have to wait a little longer – but it is coming). This revisedenhancedupdated book builds on the first book I wrote which was an Amazon Best Seller. Over the years the process has been tweaked, and refined to deliver ever more powerful results – so it was great to get that fine-tuning into this new book, and give it a make-over at the same time. The new book is called ‘DIVORCED – and shit at it‘. Because we are. We’re taught to ‘get on with things‘, to ‘feel happy‘, to ‘get on with our lives‘, to just ‘get over him‘, that ‘time will heal‘ – well it’s all BS. Quite frankly most of the advice out there is not only unhelpful – it actually makes things worse. So no wonder we are ‘Shit’ at getting over divorce – we’re being fed bad info. Friends and family may mean well – but they really don’t have a clue how to help. Ok – rant over.

Launch Offer

We have cunningly decided to launch the book officially on March 8 – International Womens Day! With the help of my team we’ve put a whole bunch of Bonuses together to help celebrate both International Womens Day – and the launch of ‘DIVORCED’. I should point-out this launch is for the digital version only – the printed version will be a little later. For more info on the book, the Special Bonuses that will be made availalbe only on MARCH 8 – click here >>> http://nakedrecoveryonline.com/product-book-divorced-women-2017-comingsoon/

Extract

You can download an Extract of the book for Free now >>>     Many thanks Adele

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NakedDivorce Adele Theron blog broken

Valentines Day Downer?

Is Valentine’s getting you down?

Well stop it. It’s just a game, and here’s how to remember how to enjoy it.

Around this time of year being lonely drives some people into total anxiety about finding the one. The thing is, finding a life partner isn’t about being all anxious and desperate. It’s about being chilled, and playing the game flat out with no attachment to the outcome.

But people who hate being lonely and hating the process don’t approach the dating game as a game. Especially around silly days of organized public affection like the 14th – when everyone else seems to be madly in love.

Lonely and anxious

Feeling lonely and anxious starts a downward spiral unless you stop it. For those who hate feeling lonely, each rejection becomes a failure that they are single and they become driven anxiously to eliminate the issue.

The important thing to realize about anxiety is that we feel anxious when we make connections between unrelated events – that’s the real driver to this spreading feeling.

We had a bad date, someone didn’t call back, our boss shouted at work, our daughter is failing school, traffic was bad, the next date cancelled, you reached out to someone on Facebook and they didn’t answer you back and the TV blew up.

Interrelated

They all start to seem interrelated. People suffering from anxiety link these random events together and feel the weight of all of these issues all at once. It’s like when you throw a stone in a pool of water and the ripples go out across the whole pool – anxious people allow the stones of life to disrupt their entire pool of equilibrium.

Stop making shite up

Wake up, and stop linking things up. The root of solving anxiety is being aware that you are needlessly, illogically linking all of these events together, and seeing them as part of a massive, interconnected task that seem impossible to overcome.

The key is not to merge and bring things together and see everything as one big problem.

Things are not connected.

The stone has nothing to do with the pool of equilibrium. Your daughter failing school or your date cancelling is not personal.

It just happened.

So here’s your challenge – a powerful route to breaking this pattern and getting peace of mind once more;

The 6 steps to release your anxiety:

  1. Write down everything that makes you anxious in circles on a piece of paper.
  2. Draw links between the circles to illustrate how you have linked these events together in your mind.
  3. Now imagine an alien from another planet is sitting next to you. Explain to the alien how these events are interlinked and how all these connected events make your life a disaster.
  4. Now answer these questions:
    1. Does the alien understand what on earth you are talking about?
    2. Does the alien agree that these events are linked?
    3. What is the alien saying to you?
  5. NOW in the drawing break the links between these events by drawing the break.
  6. Now explain to the alien that these events are not linked:
    1. Does the alien understand what on earth you are talking about?
    2. Does the alien agree that these events are not linked?
    3. What is the alien saying to you?
  7. Write down what you observed in this exercise.

 

Go ahead, do it now!

It’s a very effective exercise, and it might even just make you smile this Valentine’s Day…

And the last step, tell us what you think!

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Cling On – or let go? Pt3

Cling On – or let go? Pt3

Okay, we’ve now talked about how your relationship dynamic affects your basic needs to feel safe and secure Part One and your psychological need to feel loved and valued Part Two. But what about the top of the pyramid: self-fulfilment?

 

Self-fulfilment

In the grand scheme of things, at least for people from most walks of life, the chance to feel ‘fulfilled’ is a pretty new idea. In the past, a lot of couples would largely have settled for security, fidelity and companionship.

But in the last 50 years or so, all that has gone out of the window. It’s just not enough anymore. We all want and expect to feel fulfilled: in our jobs, in our relationships, in our lives as a whole. We want to reach our full potential and to feel as if we’re achieving something genuinely meaningful.

 

Self-actualisation

Here’s the thing, though. Self-actualisation is hard.

It takes a lot of work to be the best you can be. A hell of a lot of work. Work that only you can do, by yourself.

It takes a lot of work to be the best you can be. A hell of a lot of work. Work that only you can do by yourself. And while it’s totally reasonable that you’d want your partner to be supportive, encouraging and willing to help you along the way, expecting too much from them can destroy a relationship.

Eli Finkel, the American psychologist, puts it pretty well when he says that modern couples increasingly expect each other to guide them their journey and “grow as individuals.”

“People are looking to their spouses to help them discover who they are, and to achieve the best version of themselves,” he says. “You are really hoping that your partner can help you on a voyage of discovery and personal growth, but your partner cannot do that unless he or she really knows who you are, and really understands your core essence. That requires much greater investment of time and psychological resources.”

Being someone’s on-call Jiminy Cricket is a full-time job, and no one has the boundless time, energy and insight to guide their partner through every step of the way.

In other words, being someone’s on-call Jiminy Cricket is a full-time job, and no one has the boundless time, energy and insight to guide their partner through every step of the way. Besides, that level of emotional investment would mean neglecting your own goals, dreams and journey towards being the best you can be.

 

Ruthlessly pursue your own path

Does that mean that you should ruthlessly pursue your own path and leave your partner to their own devices? Of course not.

Really loving someone often means being willing to drop everything when they genuinely need your help, or sacrificing some of your own pleasures/temporarily overlooking your own needs if it means they’ll achieve something that’s really important to them.

But that doesn’t mean that they have the right to demand that they take priority all the time. Nor should you feel that your purpose is to elevate their needs above your own – that your role is to make sure they succeed at the expense of your own ambitions.

Your partner can help you stay on the right path, but they can’t carve it out or walk it for you.

Only you are in a position to do the things that will fulfil your potential. Before you ask anyone else to give you an extra push, you need to have the self-motivation, self-belief and the right attitude to push yourself – and you need an idea of what it is you want and how you’re going to achieve it. Your partner can help you stay on the right path, but they can’t carve it out or walk it for you.

 

Ask and expect

Trying to put all of that onto your other half is suffocating, and it’s unfair. By all means, ask and expect them to be in your corner, and don’t accept someone deliberately blocking the way of things that really matter to you. But don’t expect them to be your life coach – or your doormat.

Really listening to each other, giving encouragement, pep talks and constructive criticism, bouncing ideas around and suggesting solutions to problems, reassuring each other when you’re having a crisis of confidence, making sure you’re sharing the burden of day-to-day finances, household chores, childcare… all of these things help to create an environment that will facilitate fulfilling your potential.

Equally, giving each other space to pursue the things they want to succeed in, and trying not to become jealous or resentful when they (genuinely) need to put in the extra hours to make it a success, is vital.

 

How does your partner respond

One of the biggest indicators of whether a relationship will succeed, after all, is how they respond to each other’s positive news.

As UCLA researchers found in 2006: “When close relationship partners, specifically romantic partners, regularly respond to positive event disclosures in a supportive manner, disclosers report feeling closer, more intimate, and generally more satisfied with their relationships than those whose partners typically respond in a nonsupportive manner”

Being enthusiastic and excited about their achievement, promotion, great feedback from the boss etc. is absolutely essential – failure to be emotive in your response will undercut their good mood and make them feel hurt and rejected.

Even if do you have reservations, don’t make it all about you by leading with these. Save them until the initial buzz has worn off and you can talk them through together.

 

Congratulate first, talk second

If your spouse tells you they’ve just been given more responsibility at work, for example, don’t respond with “But you already work such long hours! When am I going to see you?” Congratulate them first – and mean it. After that, you can start to delve into the details of what the role involves and how you’re going to make sure you still spend quality time together. Otherwise, they will simply think you are shooting them down because you don’t really care about them reaching their potential – and they’re probably right.

Clinging on too hard too tightly to your other half makes it impossible for them to meet their needs on their own, or to be the best they can be, but being dismissive or indifferent to their efforts will kill your relationship, too.

Clinging on too hard too tightly to your other half makes it impossible for them to meet their needs on their own, or to be the best they can be, but being dismissive or indifferent to their efforts will kill your relationship, too.

 

The key

The key is to make sure that you are not demanding that the other ‘fixes’ you, making them choose between prioritising you and their goals, or turning your relationship into a competition – and that you are showing them that you believe in what they are doing and their ability to achieve it. It’s about both of you giving each other the support that will allow you to grow, and sharing in each other’s successes to bring you closer together.

 

Click Here for More Great Info  Part One | Part Two  

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The perfect relationship

The perfect relationship

Brad, Angelina and the Death of the “Perfect” Relationship

Ever been told “Oh my god, you guys are just SO GOOD together?” even as the doubts are starting to set in?

Or had friends roll their eyes when you mention issues that are starting to bother you because hey, your relationship is great – what are you whining about?

Or worse: broken up with your partner after much painful soul-searching, only to have your parents say: “Are you crazy? They were perfect for you!”

Brad&Ang
The perfect couple, or so many thought

Perfect

The problem with being the “perfect couple” is that you’re never allowed to break the illusion. The daily problems and struggles that every marriage experiences are glossed over, ignored, denied.

Sanitised for other people.

This puts insane, unrealistic pressure on your relationship. It makes you feel like every imperfection or tension is a personal failure. It prevents you approaching problems head on and working through them rationally. It speeds up the demise of your marriage when the cracks start to form.

And eventually, it deprives you of the support you desperately need right when you need it most: after your divorce.

Brangelina

Let’s take a look at the Brangelina breakup for a moment. These are two of the most beautiful, successful people in the world.

Two people that, on the face of it, seem to have the most picture perfect marriage.

They’re wealthy. They’re both top of their profession. They’ve worked together on a ton of successful projects, as well as pursuing independent goals. They’ve raised a beautiful family. They travel all over the world and own houses in far flung, exotic locations.

“It doesn’t matter how rich or beautiful you are, presenting a sanitised version of your relationship is exhausting.”

Performing

But you know what else?

They’re two people who spent their entire ten-year relationship in the public eye. Who have had to perform being happy in love for a press mob that picks apart every word and gesture for a decade.

They’ve had to put a flawless face forward even as they’ve negotiated some of the most stressful and emotionally exhausting events a couple can possibly experience together: the serious health problems and multiple, invasive surgeries, the death of parents, the high profile criticism of professional and personal choices, adopting and raising children, running their own businesses and managing their own creative projects.

Who had to cultivate a façade even for those people they see and speak to and confide in every day, in case their words are sold to a newspaper by a “source close to them”.

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Brad and Angelina in happier times

Exhausting

It doesn’t matter how rich or beautiful you are, presenting a sanitised version of your relationship is exhausting. There’s only so long you can pretend that difficult, hurtful, stressful things aren’t taking their toll on your relationship. And when it falls apart, you absolutely need people who love you to step in, give you a hug, listen to you talk about what you’re going through and really listen.

Now, hopefully no one reading this will ever be in a position where the dirty laundry of their divorce is publicly strung up in the tabloid press, but I’m sure many can relate to the feeling that you’ve been horribly misrepresented by your partner, by your friends and family, by your social circle, or even (if, for example, you’re battling for custody) in a court of law.

If you’ve gone out of your way to present the happiest, shiniest, most perfect version of your marriage until now, it can be particularly hard to counter or handle this. Especially if everyone adores your ex and you’ve never attempted to disabuse them of the notion that this person is just as perfect as you’d always let them believe.

How do you backtrack?

How do you persuade them, after all this time, that actually things weren’t as wonderful as they seemed, behind the scenes? How do you trust someone to really listen and be supportive when you feel that they’re judging you harshly for “throwing it all away”?

Here’s the thing: you’re not going to be able to change a bunch of people’s minds when they’re dead set on siding with your ex. And do you really need to, anyway? What will you gain by it? Is it going to help you to move on?

Of course, if you’ve spent years putting on a show of being the perfect couple, it will most likely cut you deep that you’ve lost control of your “public image” now. You might panic that people no longer see in in the positive way they’ve always seen you in – or even as the cause of your relationship’s breakdown. At this point, it’s tempting to go on the offensive, painting yourself as the victim and telling everyone who will listen about your ex’s every fault.

Won’t help

But this will not help you heal and move on. In fact, it will do exactly the opposite.

Firstly, you will probably end up fighting a proxy war of he-did-this-she-did-this with your ex via your friendship group. That’s bound to get ugly, souring your relationship with your ex even more and leading to stuff coming out about you that you really didn’t want shared.

Secondly, you’ll find yourself becoming a person that you just don’t like. After all these years of fierce loyalty to your partner, striving to show both of you in your best light, here you are bad mouthing or exaggerating their faults to score points. That has to feel a bit grubby. It has to detract from whatever was actually beautiful about the time you shared together.

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Will Brad and Angelina go into battle against each other?

Betray

If you go as far as betraying the trust of that person, unnecessarily disclosing intimate secrets or things that will really hurt or embarrass them, that’s even worse. Mutual friends will most likely think less of you for being so vindictive, your ex will (rightly) be appalled and you will have lost the moral high ground forever. From there, you can only keep clinging your ex’s wrongdoings and your victimhood in an attempt to justify yourself, admit guilt and grovel to your ex / your social circle for forgiveness, or continue along a path of petty revenge. None of these is exactly going to make you feel great about yourself.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should lie, cover up your feelings or sugar coat anything your ex has done that led to this breakup. You’ve done enough of that already, and it probably contributed to your marriage’s demise.

“It’s tempting to go on the offensive, painting yourself as the victim and telling everyone who will listen about your ex’s every fault. But this will not help you to heal and move on. In fact, it will do exactly the opposite.”

Honest

Instead, it’s a case of being honest with a small circle of people you really trust, and being painfully diplomatic with everyone else.

Again, let’s go back to Brangelina. If, like them, you’re splitting up under the media glare, you have to be incredibly careful about what you say and who you tell. After all, they have six kids to protect as well as each other’s feelings, and they certainly don’t want to go feeding the sharks.

Instead, they decline to comment, or release carefully worded statements like this one, from Brad Pitt:

“I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids… I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”

“I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the wellbeing of our kids… I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.” 

Okay, you might not have to worry about hacks quoting you out of context, but you can take a valuable lesson from this. People are people and they will gossip and twist your words. This is even more the case if your relationship always looked perfect from the outside and your breakup came as a shock.

Open and honest

Make sure you sit down the people closest to you and tell them, frankly, that while things weren’t as rosy as you perhaps made them out to be, you are trying hard to keep things civil. Be strong: don’t minimise the things that hurt you or allow them to make you feel these were nothing, but don’t exaggerate them either. Emphasise that you’ve already made your decision and now you need their support, not their judgement.

Ask them to keep what you tell them to yourself. Be open about what you need from them in terms of emotional support. Tell them you’re hurting. Tell them you’re scared.

“If you want to heal, you’ll have to focus on dealing with your own pain and the proactive steps you’re going to take to move on and get your life on track – on your own.”

BradAngelina_PressDivorce
Outside pressure is the last thing you need when going through a divorce

Trash talk…

But apart from the specific concerns and frustrations you need to get off your chest, don’t make it all about trash talking your ex. This will become exhausting very, very fast and will prevent you from moving on.

The same goes for people who will inevitably pry or try to goad you into saying things about your ex you wish you hadn’t. Be gracious about this. Say that you don’t want to speak ill of them or go into detail about what went wrong, but ultimately it didn’t work out and you wish them well. Then change the subject and don’t get drawn in: you will feel better about it, and you will come out looking like the better person.

You have to let them go

Ultimately, the important thing is that you don’t fixate on your ex. After all, you’ve broken up now. They should absolutely not be the central focus of your life. You have to let them go.

If you want to heal, you’ll have to focus on dealing with your own pain and the proactive steps you’re going to move on and get your life on track – on your own. You need to work on treating the wound, not keeping it visibly open to win the support of your friends.

If you’re lucky enough to avoid a divorce as public as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s, embrace the privacy that this gives you to heal. Don’t turn it into a min media circus of your own creation. At the end of the day, it’s you that will get hurt.

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Cling On – or let go? Pt2

Cling On – or let go? Pt2

In the first part of this series, I talked about how all humans have a basic need to feel safe and secure, and how to make sure that you offer that to your partner in ways that are healthy and not controlling or counterproductive.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Or, in Maslovian terms, the base of the pyramid.

To recap, this is Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs:

heirarchyofneeds-e1412171967833

 

Okay, now let’s move on…

 

Psychological needs.

The moment we’re confident that we’re not going to starve and we’re safe from immediate harm, we start fixating on belonging and love. We need to feel part of something, that we’re understood and cared about, that we have mutual trust, affection and intimacy in our lives. And for that, we seek out companionship, friendship and romance.

But often, this is where the cracks start to form.

Especially when:

  1. One of you believes this need should must be met solely by your partner
  2. One of you underestimates how much the other is looking to you to fulfil this need

Let’s start with the first one: fighting too hard to make yourself the only person who meets this need.

At its core, this is jealousy and self-doubt. It’s the fear that if someone else can give your partner any part of the love or belonging that they need, you will become redundant. 

Maybe your other half is excited about a big night out with their friends. Maybe they’re up all night chatting to a sibling after you’ve gone to bed. Maybe they never miss training, no matter what, even though you’d much rather spend Saturday morning together. Whatever it is, it’s something that makes them happy – but that doesn’t include you. And it feels like a threat.

Okay: getting this bit right is a delicate balancing act. It’s the hardest part of any relationship.

Everyone has that friend who disappears the minute they strike up a new romance, never to be seen again until it all goes tits up and they need a shoulder to cry on. Everyone’s had that awful sinking feeling when the first flush of love starts to die down and they realise they’ve let their friendships slide for months, even years.

 

That feeling of loss

Everyone’s had that feeling of loss when they realise an important bond has slipped through their fingers.

The thing is, being with our partner meets our need to belong in different ways to those of our friends/family/teammates/others we care about.

These bonds aren’t mutually exclusive. They complement one another.

And while couples generally look to each other for love and affection, trying to isolate your partner from the friendships they had before they knew you is hugely destructive. Eventually, they will resent you for it.

Trying to isolate your partner from the friendships they had before they knew you is hugely destructive. Eventually, they will resent you for it.

Hopefully you’ll get on well enough with your partner’s friends and family that you’re a big part of each other’s lives and extended groups. Belonging to each other also means belonging to each other’s worlds. But at the same time, you need to appreciate that their closest friendships and family relationships exist without you – and respect that, when they want to spend time with these people alone, this is a legitimate need and does not threaten your bond.

 

Don’t try and replace

The important thing is not to try and replace or limit your partner’s access to other sources of intimacy. It’s making sure that you both strive to assure the person that you love them, so that you are comfortable enough in your relationship to loosen your grip.

That’s where the second part of the equation comes in: underestimating how much the other person needs you to feel loved, and that they belong.

If your partner tells you they feel lonely and neglected when you’re out all the time without them, hear them out. You might not agree, but don’t get defensive or impatient. or try to invalidate their emotions.

Are you taking them for granted? Are they kind of low on your list of priorities? Do you treat them as a fall-back option when other plans fall through? Do you readily cancel on them, or switch work shifts to accommodate other people when you never seem to be able to do the same for them?

Because if, deep down, the answer is “yes”, you need to get real with yourself about why.

Perhaps you had become a bit wrapped up in yourself, in which case, strike compromises that mean you spend more quality time together. But if you no longer enjoy their company and are not willing to work through your problems, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship. Either way, don’t act as if they are being unreasonable, because they have a right to expect love and companionship from their partner.

Even if the answer to these questions is “no”, berating your partner won’t make them feel more loved and less needy. You’ll wind up having the same fights, straining your relationship and exacerbating the problem.

Reassure them that you love them and love spending time with them. Make plans together and be enthusiastic about it. Look for ways to show them they’re on your mind when you’re apart, even if it’s just a text to see how they are. If they rely on you too much because they’ve let other relationships take a backseat, nudge them to spend time with the friends and family they’ve been neglecting.

And lastly, introduce them to your friends.

This isn’t just about making them feel included. It’s also about addressing psychological needs at the next level of the pyramid: Esteem.

Our esteem needs – the need to feel important, capable and valuable, to have a sense of accomplishment – are obviously met by many sources other than our partners; this comes from our careers, academic achievements, hobbies, passions and meeting important goals. But the dynamic we have with our partner can strengthen or undermine all that.

No matter how confident you are, no matter how talented or capable or good at your job, if your partner keeps you at arm’s length from their friends, family or colleagues, this hurts. You begin to think they’re ashamed of you in some way.

 

We all want to feel that our partner is proud of us

We all want to feel that our partner is proud of us, proud to be with us, proud to be seen with us.

It feels good to hear that they speak highly of us when we’re not there. It feels good when they want to show us off to other people in their lives.

The smallest gestures can communicate this. Making sure you let them know you’re impressed or proud of them for hitting that milestone they’ve been agonising about. Telling them they look hot when they’ve made an effort. Thanking them – sincerely – for something they’ve done for you. Complimenting them or bringing up something they’re proud of in front of other people.

 

You need to give each other space to breathe

You can’t do any of this when you’re consumed by jealousy and possessiveness. You need to give each other space to breathe and do your own thing so that you both have things you’re proud of, so that you can take pleasure in each other’s successes. It’s all about letting go, without pushing away.

 

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That takes us up to Part 3, where I’ll talk about making the tough climb to the top of the pyramid together – and how to give each other the chance to feel happy in your own skin. Click here to read it once released.

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Cling On – or let go? Pt1

Cling On – or let go? Pt1

They take no notice of me. They don’t support me or show any interest in my job, or my passions, or my interests. They don’t listen. They seem bored when we’re together. I don’t feel they’re proud to be with me. They don’t call or text to see how I’m doing. They’re always too busy to talk. I feel I’m last on their list of priorities. It’s like we’re not even a couple.

I feel suffocated. They won’t let me breathe

I feel suffocated. They won’t let me breathe. They’re jealous. They want to know where I am all the time. They hate me doing anything that doesn’t involve them. They call constantly while I’m out with friends. They want to know exactly when I’m going to be home. If I have to work late, they sulk about it. They want to do everything together, all the time.

On the face of it, these two sets of problems sound like polar opposites, right?

You might have even heard the same person say these things about two different relationships. Or about the same relationship at different times.

At the deepest level, all of us need to feel both free and autonomous, and safe, needed and claimed.

Perhaps you thought they were being fickle – that they don’t know what they want. Perhaps you heard yourself saying something like:
“What are you complaining about? I wish my girlfriend was that laidback!”
Or:
“Count yourself lucky. At least he cares enough to get jealous!”

But the thing is, at the deepest level, all of us need to feel both free and autonomous, and safe, needed and claimed.

These things are hard to reconcile. But if you don’t strike the right balance, or understand how these needs fit together you will drive the other person away.

A great way of understanding this is through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

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Maslow pictured our physical and psychological needs building on each other like a pyramid. You need each type of need to be met before you can worry about the ones at the next level:

 

Let’s start with the basics.

At the bottom of the pyramid you have the survival stuff. You can’t focus on anything else when you’re scare about going hungry, just as you can’t function properly if you’re sleep deprived. If you’re reading this, you’re probably fortunate enough to have access to resources to tackle these fundamental needs. But to get by, even at the most basic level, we also need to feel safe and secure.

 

Safety and security are complicated

Safety and security are more complicated than they seem at first glance.

You might not be living in a warzone, but if you’re afraid of or intimidated by your partner, you will obviously not feel safe. You might not be in a physically abusive relationship, but if your partner cuts off your financial access, or makes it clear that they will kick you out / threaten your home life if they don’t get your own way, you can’t possibly feel secure.

What’s more, people often try to persuade their partners, outsiders and even ourselves that what we are doing is for their benefit, even when our motivations are actually selfish. When it comes to safety and security, these are easily translated for emotional blackmail.

 

Fine line

This means that there can be a very fine line between one person’s idea of being made to feel “safe and secure” and one person’s idea of feeling precisely the opposite.

These distinctions can be subtle. Sometimes only you and your partner really understand each other’s motivations. Sometimes only you know if you’re really doing something to make the other person feel safe, or to make sure they know you’re in control.

Take my friends Tia and Rob (not their real names).

From the outside, they’re adorable. Tia had a rough time growing up, she’s teeny-tiny, and she’s spent much of her life feeling vulnerable. She desperately needed to be in a relationship that would make her feel safe.

When you see her with Rob, he always has a protective arm around her. He boasts on Facebook about running across town in a thunderstorm to pick her up when she was in a crisis. Her friends joke that they wish their boyfriends sent so many messages saying “I love you” throughout the day. Rob is always looking after Tia, doing little things make her feel safe.

Or so I thought.

What matters is that both of you have your basic needs met. Not that one of you gets to take the high ground. Not that you feel obliged to thank someone for getting to play the hero. That you actually feel safe and secure.

Until I found her crying in the bathroom of a bar and she admitted she was exhausted and wanted to get a cab home, but Rob controls the money and wouldn’t let her leave alone because it was ‘unsafe’ – and he wanted to stay out all night. Until she told me that, when they fight, Rob reminds her he’s the only thing keeping her from the streets. That she feels trapped and depressed, but she can’t really complain, because he’s just like this because he loves her, right? That she should be grateful that he wants her to feel safe and secure, even if it’s having the opposite effect.

Uh-uh. Nope.

 

What matters

What matters is that both of you have your basic needs met.

Not that one of you gets to take the high ground. Not that you feel obliged to thank someone for getting to play the hero. That you actually feel safe and secure.

 

The key

The key is honest communication. It’s listening to each other.

Different people need different things in order to feel safe. If you want your relationship to work, you must be willing to provide those things, not the things that suit you.

Different people need different things in order to feel safe. If you want your relationship to work, you must be willing to provide those things, not the things that suit you.

If your partner’s actions seem possessive rather than protective, explain this to them. If you feel harassed because they keep messaging you while you’re out, set boundaries. If you feel their aggression is targeted at you instead of whatever might hurt you, or that their “concern” makes you worried, stressed or dreading the next fight, you need to make this clear.

And If your partner says this to you, don’t flip out and tell them they’re ungrateful. That you only care about their safety. That you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. After all, if you claim you’re doing something for their benefit and it turns out not to, why keep foisting it on them? Listen to what they actually need from you – and what they don’t.

 

Out of reach

Equally, if you feel your partner is always out of reach when you need them, or you genuinely feel unsafe and unsecure because of their behaviour, tell them. It’s fair to expect someone whose reckless, dangerous or destructive behaviour undermines your peace of mind to tone it down.

Just make sure you’re being honest about which needs are actually being unfulfilled. Don’t claim, for example, that being alone in the house makes you feel unsafe if really you just feel bored or neglected. These are valid feelings too, but it’s a different type of problem, as we’ll discuss in Part 2.

Our basic needs for safety and security are fundamental to everything else in our lives. No matter what else is great between you, if your partner’s behaviour consistently makes you feel less safe and secure, or if they refuse to do simple things that that would help you fulfil this need, your relationship will turn toxic fast.

 

Click Here for More Great Info 

Part 2 is coming soon, once released you’ll be able to access it here.

 

We’ll look at the psychological needs behind clinging on and letting go.

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Why You Should Never, Ever Say: “I’m Doing This Because I Love You”

When Ann was a teenager, her parents went through a terrible divorce.

Her father had always been volatile, but when her mother finally told him they couldn’t stay living in the same house indefinitely after the split, he lost it. He drank a bottle of vodka, smashed every item of furniture in the house, then screamed abuse at her little brother and chased him to a friend’s house, where the poor kid hid while his father raged outside. Then he went back home and beat up Ann’s mother until the police arrived.

Ann, her mother and her brother were in shock.

They had always been a little afraid of her father, but they never thought he was capable of behaviour this violent and extreme. Ann wasn’t sure she would ever forgive him. She wondered what he could possibly say, once he had sobered up (and once the restraining order had lifted), to make amends. Obviously he couldn’t defend his actions. Could he even live with himself, after what he done?

Months passed. Eventually Ann and her brother received a letter from their father.

It said:

“I’m sorry if I hurt you or scared you. I want you to know that everything I’ve ever done was because I love you.”

Ann was speechless. Her brother didn’t speak to his father again for years. Her mother, who had tried hard to stop the kids from hating their father and was convinced he would be ashamed and repentant, was heartbroken.

“It was worse than him just trying to excuse himself or even minimise what he’d done, which would have been bad enough,” says Ann. “It felt like he was shifting the burden onto us, his kids. Like, you need to pity me or even be grateful to me for how much I love you, and I’m allowed to express my ‘love’ however I want, even if it’s by physically and emotionally harming you.

“If he’d said ‘I did this in spite of how much I love you’ that would have been easier to bear, but to say that beating up my mother was somehow an act of love to me – that was beyond the pale.”

For years after this happened, Ann found it hard to trust a partner.

The merest hint of violence or aggression from a partner would give her panic attacks and flashbacks. She was sabotaging more than one relationship because she felt unsafe, to the consternation of boyfriends who insisted they would never hurt her.

Eventually she began a long term relationship with a man she always thought of as gentle and caring and protective. Sure, he screwed up in other ways. He could be irresponsible, selfish, insensitive or oblivious to her needs. But he never, ever made her feel physically threatened.

… Until they broke up.

In the aftermath of the breakup, Ann’s ex was, to her, unrecognisable.

He drank and called her obsessively. He ignored all her requests for him to respect her boundaries and leave her alone. When, in desperation, she blocking his means of contacting her, he continually called her friends to find out where she was, urging them to get her to speak to him.

She felt helpless and hunted.

Then, one night, Ann’s ex broke into her flat, drunk out of his mind, smashed her things, grabbed hold of her and wouldn’t let go, despite her pleas for him to leave.

“You’re turning into my father!” she screamed. “I need you to get out of my house, right now.”

“How dare you compare me to your father?” he screamed back. “Don’t you understand that I’m doing this because I love you?”

Of course, I don’t need to tell you that this is wrong, and controlling, and unacceptable.

But these are also actions at the extreme end of the scale.

Someone attacks you or your loved ones because they love you? They break into your flat and terrorise you because they love you? They claim that making your life a misery is an act of love? Of course that’s absurd. Of course that’s manipulative.

But what about the insidious examples? The times when people do everyday things that hurt us and we accept the excuse that they are acting out of love?

“When I look back I realise that ‘I’m doing this because I love you’ was something my ex had been saying for years, and I didn’t even notice,” says Ann. “Every time he didn’t want to take responsibility for something he’d done or the way he was handling something that scared him, even though it was me who was hurt by it.”

For example, explains Ann, when her ex had lied to her about some serious financial problems, his excuse had been, “I love you so much and I didn’t want to worry you”.

When she was sexually threatened by a stranger, he shouted at her for “putting herself in a risky situation.”

When she came home late and was sexually threatened by a stranger, he shouted at her for ‘putting herself in a risky situation’ instead of comforting her – then said he’d reacted like that because he loved her.

When she started working on a project that meant she’d have to travel to a dangerous country, he tried to convince her she wasn’t up to the job and should quit before she failed – and again, when she called him out for his lack of support, told her it was “because he loved her”.

Every time he’d excused himself like this, she had been annoyed, but she’d accepted it.

Okay, his behaviour wasn’t ideal but – fair enough – it came from a loving place.

What’s more, friends and family would also shrug this off as reasonable.

They’d even be touched by it. There’s something about attributing your actions to love, especially as a man, that instantly wins the sympathies of others. 

“Oh,” they say, “but he doesn’t know how to express himself any other way!” Or: “But it’s coming from a good place!” Or even: “You’re lucky that he loves you enough to care that much!”

But here’s the thing.

By constantly accepting “It’s because I love you” as an excuse for behaviours that upset her, Ann had given her ex free rein to romanticise his own bad behaviour.

Instead of forcing him to take on board why behaviour like lying or victim-blaming or trying to make her think she was too stupid to take professional risks was emotionally damaging, she allowed him to shift responsibility to her.

It had stopped being a conversation about the kind of support she needed from him.

She’d stopped asking him to try and control his intuitive reactions and empathise with her needs instead. Instead, he had been allowed to put his emotions on a pedestal, above any scrutiny. So long as it was because he loved her, his actions were above criticism.

But here’s the thing.

Ann’s ex did love her. Just as her father loved her.

But he didn’t lie to her because he loved her. 

He lied to her because he was scared of how she would react when she found out what he’d done.

He didn’t shout at her for her brush with sexual assault because he loved her. 

He shouted at her because he was angry he hadn’t been there to protect her.

He didn’t try to make her feel too inadequate for her job because he loved her. 

He tried to make her feel inadequate to stop her from going on a trip that made him nervous.

Yes, love might have been a driver in these actions. But in each case, Ann’s ex was thinking about what he wanted right then. What his fears were. What his needs were.

He could equally have said “I wanted to be honest with you because I love you” or “I’m going to comfort you because I love you” or “I’m going to support you in your plans, even though it’s hard for me to see you go somewhere dangerous, because I love you”.

Because we choose how we handle our emotions. Even an overwhelming emotion, like love. 

And you are never, ever responsible for how someone else translates their feelings into action. You are not responsible for the love they say they feel, or for what they choose to do as a result of those feelings.

Equally you are responsible for how you choose to express your own love and emotions.

So please – take “I’m doing this because I love you” out of your vocabulary.

Even with your kids. Especially with your kids.

I’m serious.

If you want to help your children steel themselves against emotional blackmail and manipulation, they need to be able to distinguish between emotion and action. They need to understand that your impulses do not overrule your responsibilities to those you love.

So if you panic and smack your child because they’re about to run across the road, don’t convince yourself and them that you did it because you love them. Admit that you smacked them because you lost self-control.

If your teenager comes to you in tears because your partner is putting too much pressure on them to do well at school, don’t say “well, she’s doing it because she loves you!” You can tell them you’re trying to make sure they do their best, or to teach them discipline, or stop them getting complacent – whatever. You might reassure them that you love them and are proud of them despite the pressure you’re putting on them to succeed.

But don’t teach them that behaviours that hurt them are automatically above criticism because they are driven by love.

As a culture, we’re obsessed with the notion of all-consuming love.

Every other song or film or book is about the crazy things that love “makes us do”. The narrative, again and again, is that actions inspired by love are somehow beyond our control.

But when we accept this notion that love strips away responsibility, we start to forgive – even romanticise – the most heinous things. 

Take Italy, for example. Did you know that, until 1981, Italian law stated:

He who causes the death of a spouse, daughter, or sister upon discovering her in illegitimate carnal relations and in the heat of passion caused by the offence to his honour or that of his family will be sentenced to three to seven years. The same sentence shall apply to whom, in the above circumstances, causes the death of the person involved in illegitimate carnal relations with his spouse, daughter, or sister.

That’s right. Just three to seven years for murdering your wife, your daughter or your sister (and/or their lover) because it was a “crime of passion”!

… Oh, you were worked up. You couldn’t help it. You did it because you loved her. And that makes it okay.

And even though the law has changed, attitudes have barely shifted.

The idea that a man cannot be expected to control his actions when they are motivated by passion persists.

The result? An ongoing “femicide pandemic” and a domestic violence culture that is so entrenched – and so much worse than the rest of Europe – that the government has had to take urgent measures to crack down on the issue.

So why are these “crimes of passion” more common in Italy than the rest of Europe? Are Italian men biologically less capable of controlling their tempers?

Of course they’re not. They simply live in a society that gave them free rein to use “I did it because I loved her” as an excuse for far too long.

I’m not saying that someone who dismisses their behaviour as “driven by love” will necessarily become violent. But it stands to reason that, if you’re allowed to push the boundaries so long as you use the “L” word to excuse this, you’ll soon stop taking responsibility for your actions. And that can only be bad news.

So I’ll leave you with this:

You are the arbiter of your emotions. Your ex is the arbiter of his or her emotions.

Yes, love is a force to reckon with. But ultimately, we decide how it makes us behave.

Never forget that.

Adele

 

Do you know someone who has let “I did it because I love you” rule them for too long? Share this post with them!

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5 Simple Steps That Will Make You Happier Today

Everyone’s looking for that one big secret to happiness.

We’re all after that magical thing that will transform our lives, our outlook and allow us to feel peaceful and content. But I’m going to let you in to a secret of my own: reality is much more mundane than that.

There is no magical happiness formula. There is only learning to manage your feelings and take simple, practical steps to nurture your emotional health.

If that sounds disappointing, it shouldn’t be. In fact, it’s empowering.

You don’t have to keep searching for some external source of happiness that may or may not fall out of the sky and fix your life on your behalf. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you’ve had the tools you need to lift your mood in your possession all along. You just need to learn how to use them.

1) Give That Shitty Feeling a Name

You’re not happy, you know that much. But what are you feeling? Be precise. Are you angry? Sad? Disappointed? Frustrated? Wounded? Resentful? Frightened? Anxious? Don’t just stop with a definition: use descriptive and metaphorical language to express the experience. For example: “I feel trapped”, “I feel like I’m moving through fog”, etc. Know your enemy!

Pinpointing and describing an emotion will help you to prevent it from overwhelming you.

It diffuses that helpless, blind panic that a powerful emotion can trigger. Why? Because these emotions are controlled by the limbic system, which operates instinctively. Trying to suppress an emotion means fighting against your limbic system – a battle you’re doomed to lose.

However, using language to conceptualise your emotions is an intellectual activity, not an instinctive one. It activates your prefrontal cortex, naturally shifting activity away from the limbic system and reducing arousal in that area.

Next time you feel yourself getting dragged into a downward spiral of negative emotions, take a moment to write down exactly how you feel. You’ll be amazed at how much calmer and in control you feel when you can put your emotions into words.

2) Practice Being Grateful

Gratitude does crazy things to the brain… in a good way. Identifying and noting down what you’re most grateful for every day releases dopamine and raises levels of serotonin, the happy-hormone. I mean, people take party drugs to get a hit of this stuff, but you can get a burst of it without the downsides, just by saying thank you to the universe. How’s that for a bonus?

Take a few minutes every day to list the things you’re grateful for.

Avoid vague, general things like “my family” or “my friends”, but actual, specific things, like “The card my 5-year-old made for me at school today” or, “The good luck text my friend sent before my presentation.” Counting your blessings is a great way to pull yourself out of a pit of misery.

3) Do Nice Things for Other People

Like gratitude, selflessness gives you a chemical buzz. Little acts of generosity, an un-asked-for favour, a kind word or compliment, even a cup of tea… making another person unexpectedly happy will reflect right back at you, cheering you up and putting a tiny little spring in your step. Plus, when you’re totally wrapped up in your own head and problems, shifting your focus to someone else’s happiness for a moment can be a genuine relief.

4) Hug the People You Love

Did you know that we’re so excruciatingly sensitive to perceptions of social exclusion that we experience rejection as physical pain?

Physical affection has a profound effect on our emotional health. Physical and social isolation go hand in hand, as far as our brain is concerned, and the best way to counteract that is to incorporate physical intimacy as much as is appropriate.

With family, partners and close friends this should be easy enough – a hug, a kiss, a stroke of the hair or holding hands can help raise your happiness levels no end. But even with those less close to us, simple interactions like shaking hands, patting on the shoulder or exchanging a kiss on the cheek at greeting helps to establish a sense of intimacy that keeps us chemically buoyant and staves off a sense of isolation.

5) Make a Decision

Nothing will make you miserable like indecision. As Dan Gilbert explains in his excellent TED Talk on the science of happiness, we all think we want more choices, but leaving the door open to too many possibilities doesn’t make us happier at all. In fact, it makes us deeply dissatisfied.

I get that you want to avoid mistakes, but very often, it’s better to just make a decision – even an imperfect one – than to um and ah indefinitely over a choice and make yourself miserable in the process. Sometimes, you need to go for “good enough” instead of torturing yourself over whether it’s “the best” or (the non-existent) “perfect”.

Making a decision and moving on keeps you active and energetic. 

It can feel like a physical load has been lifted from your shoulders. Sick of deliberating? Force yourself to make a decision fast. Today. Make your choice and make that the end of it. 

Now take a deep breath, and smile. 

Adele

 

What daily rituals do you follow that raise your spirits? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice in the comments section below.

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