Archive for the 'Air' Category

Listening Better

Friday, April 11th, 2014

lyingtogether“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” -Karl Menninger

 

We don’t listen well in general and maybe that’s because we were all trained from an early age to listen with the intent to respond, rather than listen with the intent to understand. I am guilty of this relationship infraction on most days. In part it is because on many days, I still have a deep need to be heard. Like many people, I often learn what I think as I say it to someone who cares about me, which is not surprising because it is in this safe holding of our thoughts and feelings that we often feel most loved. This is not a shameful thing, although I have often felt ashamed that I am not better at reciprocating in this way. Knowing something is true and being good at it are not one in the same.

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Rethinking Communication Boundaries

Friday, March 21st, 2014

technology1resized“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” -Brian Tracy

 

I witness the generation gap widening at home every day, regardless of my relentless efforts to get my teenagers to communicate. They still mostly pick up the phone when I call, because that was the agreement we made years ago when I said I would pay the bill, but they are short now and often miss my call, only to shoot me a short text of their whereabouts and time of arrival.  They are part of a new generation of communicators and even though I have full text capability, I cannot keep up with their lightening speed on their keyboard and for me, when we text, there is always more that I want to know, to hear from them. I suppose this is precisely why they text. In part, I grew up with the phone as my lifeline. I have vivid memories of the stretched out curly cord, wrapped around the dining room entrance to have some privacy in my teen years. I remember waiting by the phone for it to ring. I remember the sadness of not getting the call, the frustration of busy signals, and the relief of finally hearing my friend or boyfriend’s voice on the other end.

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Resolving to Feel

Friday, January 10th, 2014

thinkinggirl2resized“Often we cling to our feelings as if they were signs from God- signs of either anointment or of being sent from the Garden. This superstitious relationship is the cause of many kinds of suffering.” -Gangagi

 

Many of us simply never learned the language and truth of our feeling self. We misinterpret our feelings as absolute signs of right and wrong, good and bad rather than the passing experience of discomfort or happiness they might bring. Coming into a more true relationship to our feeling self and building the confidence to embody the full range of our emotions is a resolution worth considering. Our feelings provide us the most real and grounded information about our experience we can get. Our resistance to the discomfort that feelings can and do generate creates the erroneous belief that feelings are a solid reality rather than the most ethereal aspect of what it is to be human.

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In the Bullring of Feelings

Friday, November 1st, 2013

bullfightmorgue“It is not the same thing to talk of bulls as to be in the bullring.” -Spanish Proverb

 

The gap between the genuine visceral experience of feeling and the more common mental masturbating we do to distance ourselves from our feelings is everything when it comes to healing and growing up. We know our feelings most clearly in the mess of them. Their expression creates indelible memories, whether the breakdown belongs to us or someone else, which explains why I have so much empathy for any mother dealing with a screaming child in a grocery store. We know our raw emotions in the mess of the moments they flow through and out of us. Sobbing, laughing, even vomiting our emotional highs and lows are the true visceral markers that leave us cleansed and emptied of the power and intensity of feeling.

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Two Basic Skills to Make You Sexier

Friday, September 27th, 2013

sweetcouplecloseupresized“Experiencing one’s self in a conscious manner–that is, gaining self-knowledge–is an integral part of learning.” -Karen Stone McCown

 

People who are emotionally intelligent are seriously sexy. Fluency with one’s emotional life defines our ability to master most other life experiences. Being constantly caught between fight or flight is not flattering, and sadly our sex appeal bears its weight. Although many of us are not well trained in emotional cognition, our own or someone else’s, there are two basic skill sets that are both easily accessible and developmental, which means you can get better at them. The first skill is developing the capacity and the curiosity to feel a wide range of emotions, the second is increasing our emotional language to identify and express what we feel.

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Offering Neutrality

Friday, February 15th, 2013

“When in doubt who will win, be neutral.” –Swiss Proverb

 

One of my husband’s most reliable responses to my often high level of emotionality is: “Can you just be neutral?” He is a psychiatrist, so he has a lot more practice at finding a neutral objective view.  Yet, even before we each chose our respective professions, he would often find his way back to center with more ease than I. Over the years, as I have learned to lean towards this middle space of witnessing reality without the storm of emotions that literally cloud my view, I have witnessed how my relationship has grown up to not only withstand conflicts, but has given each of us the room to really listen to opposing points of view.  Actively seeking a neutral perspective moves relating beyond the knee jerk reactions of right and wrong and adds real time to the challenging exchanges that make or break a relationship.

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Language of Gratitude

Friday, November 11th, 2011

“When something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren’t grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence or an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”  -Cynthia Ozick

Our communication is the currency of our relationships, literally the energetic equivalent and the substance that drives us towards or away from the people in our lives.  Couple that with the fundamental and universal needs we all share for being seen and valued and you get a glimpse of the powerful alteration that happens in the world when you express gratitude. Unleashing the energy of gratitude in your life is all about re-focusing our attention and perfecting the art of appreciation.

What we focus on multiplies. To the degree that we keep our focus on what is wrong, we often entirely overlook what is right. In this same vein, our shared fixation on the how of getting things done, often overlooks the much more crucial question of why. Allowing the why of our lives and our relationships more focus, is a place of gratitude and clear intention. Focusing our attention on the why of what we love or the why we persist with a problem that won’t quite resolve opens you up to receiving, which is at once the prerequisite and the reward of feeling gratitude.

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The Strength in Real Communication

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Relationship Bootcamp: Week 3

 

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said.” -Anonymous

 

The strength and endurance training in any and all relationships starts and ends with the capacity for communication. I have often called our communication skills the currency of a relationship, because it is literally the air that lives between people that makes their relationship vital or suffocating. It is perhaps the most complex set of skills that healthy relationships require because it is close to impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood. This is not only because our spoken words make up only a small fraction of the myriad ways we communicate. We also communicate through our tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.

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Tentative Hearts

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there  is of you.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

It has been just over two months since I spent a  couple of nights with my son in the hospital, wondering if life would ever be the same.  It was a miracle, and remains one- even now 60 days later that life could be so much back to normal.  For all outward appearances, except  for a significant scab on the back of his head,  my son is pretty much back to life as usual. But when I watch him compete at his favorite sport now,  I witness  a tentativeness in him that wasn’t there before.  He recognizes it too, and knows that playing scared is not really playing at all.   ”This is normal,” I tell him as he boils with frustration.  “Recovery is a path.”

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Dangling Conversations

Friday, November 5th, 2010

“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.” -Arnold Bennett

I married into a family whose primary operating principle was “If something is wrong, don’t talk about it.” Even as a young woman in my early twenties, I knew instinctively that silence in the face of difficult emotions is a mistake. In the years of therapy that I undertook during adolescence to deal with my own family’s dysfunction whose version was “If something is wrong -scream about it,” I learned the power of giving language to emotions.

Talking about feelings requires learning the nuances of first identifying them. Many children grow up not knowing the difference between basic emotions like fear, sadness and anger. Anger is the easiest emotion for most people to express, whether inward or outward, and many grow up without the emotional support to experience these other more vulnerable and painful emotions.

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