Monthly archives: March, 2014

Want To Feel In Love Again?

Start by touching your partner

The simplest act can profoundly change how you feel. Intimacy between couples can wither with time, because we get lost in everyday chores and don’t make time for one another. Look in to each other’s eyes and don’t wait until you feel like doing it. The feelings will follow. Many coupoles often feel, that the intimacy and that initially feeling of being in love, decreases after being together for a while. How can we regain those butterflies in our stomach?

Feelings often follow actions, is part of a growing body of evidence across a range of important human experiences. My Facebook post on the research by Amy Cuddy, offers the thesis that basically two minutes of standing in a more powerful position can alter our brain. Most people tend to think that our personality, attitude or emotions are the driving force behind our addressing issues in a particular way, however, Dr. Cuddy’s offers up a thesis that first we act then we feel.

Arthur Aron did similar research, testing out the idea on feelings of love. He asked couples of men and women to sit down with one another and take turns answering a series of ever more revealing questions (e.g., when did you last cry with someone? and share an embarrassing moment in your life.) Then he instructed them to gaze silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. Amazingly, when they described their experience, many reported feeling “deeply attracted”. So powerful were the effects that one couple fell in love and married. So acting in love led to feeling in love. Building intimacy between couples involves closeness and vulnerability.

Our actions profoundly influence feelings of love and attraction across the life span. Engaging in new activities together, like physically challenging sports, sharing important emotional experiences, such as embarrassing, joyful, or sad childhood memories, taking opportunities to touch one another all seem to inspire loving passionate feelings and bring couples closer to one another.

Many of these actions mimic our behavior when we are falling in love. So, the same way a power pose can build our confidence, intentionally engaging in loving, passionate behaviors appears to spark romantic excitement. New and exciting experiences cause the brain to release dopamine which rewards our brain. All that dopamine makes us want to come back for more and we end up craving our partners.



Willpower Your Way To Happiness

The link between willpower and happiness

Willpower has a strong link to happiness. An experiment by Mischel called the marshmallow test, as seen in the video below, made this link more apparent. This experiment gave children the choice of having one marshmallow immediately or waiting for a period of time and getting two marshmallows. Take a look:

 

Mischel discovered that the children who had been best at delaying gratification at age 4 went on in later life to have the best academic results, to be the most popular, to earn the highest salaries and to have the lowest body mass index BMI compared to their peers in the test. The children with lower self-control tended to be worse off financially, to work in lower paid jobs, to have little money in the bank and to be unlikely to own their own home or to have saved for their retirement.

The evidence is mounting that willpower is a strength worth cultivating. The first step in becoming better at self-control is to set yourself very clear goals and these goals need to be aligned with your values. Here are some steps you can take to start working on your willpower:

  • If you are not clear on your values then take the http://www.viacharacter.org/www/ or http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx survey to discover what your values are.
  • Set yourself some specific goals which are aligned with these values.
  • Decide on one goal to focus on at a time and get ready to take action.

Once you have your new goals the best way to ensure that you are successful at your will power challenges is to:

  1. Get some exercise- Just 15 minutes on a treadmill can reduce cigarette cravings, for example, and a short brisk walk can reduce the urge to eat chocolate – so every little helps.
  2. Get enough sleep- From a willpower perspective sleep is crucial. If we are suffering from sleep deprivation we are much less likely to meet our willpower challenges (particularly when it comes to resisting almonds in my case).
  3. Relax- Taking time for relaxation every day has huge benefits from the point of view of maximizing your willpower. You do not need to become a mindfulness master in order to reap the benefits of relaxation. Even just relaxing for a few minutes can move your body into a reparative and healing state which enhances your immune function and lowers your stress hormones.

The results are amazing. Small steps can show huge results. Try out these exercises and share your results with us? Have you taken a willpower challenge and succeeded?



7 Techniques To Deal With Feelings of Jealousy

Tackle Jealousy & Save Your Relationship

If you or your partner have been experiencing persistent jealous feelings, don’t panic – there are several ways to overcome them.

1. Pay attention to what’s going on in your life. Jealous feelings are often born out of existing insecurities. Has anything happened recently to cause you to feel less than confident? Work stress, family matters and physical illnesses can all contribute to feeling insecure about relationships. It might help to write down everything which is currently causing you stress before you focus in on your relationship as being the cause of your feelings.

2. Pay attention to your feelings. When your feelings of jealousy begin, examine how they are manifesting. Do you feel that the other person is more intelligent, successful, laid-back etc than you feel yourself to be? The characteristics that you attribute to the person you are jealous of are often characteristics you wish you had yourself. If you can recognize this you can begin to work towards attaining the attribute yourself instead of following the jealousy.

3. Think about your relationship. Often, what triggers the feelings of jealousy is the flip side of what was so wonderful about the relationship to start with. For example, if you were attracted to your partner’s free spirit, you may begin to feel threatened should they behave in an erratic or evasive way. So in order to discover the root of the jealousy it can be helpful to think about how your relationship began. While this will not automatically diminish the feelings, understanding where your jealousy trigger comes from is a good starting point.

4. Don’t give in to behavior inspired by jealousy. Remember that the only solution to jealous feelings is open communication. There is no other way to soothe your fears, rational or irrational. Communication is imperative in every relationship, especially in partnership. It is the number one concern I hear in my couples therapy sessions. If you feel the urge to check your partner’s texts or otherwise invade their privacy, try to see this as a sign that you need to talk rather than an impulse you must act upon.

5. Respect your partner. When both partners respect and listen to each other, jealous feelings are not able to thrive. Whether you are experiencing jealous feelings yourself or you are dealing with your partner’s feelings, it’s important to stay calm and to listen carefully.

6. Be kind to yourself. Jealous feelings can be very emotionally draining to deal with and require a lot of energy to face up to. If you condemn how you feel instead of accepting it, you run the risk of not being able to deal with the feelings when they arise. Try to acknowledge that the feelings are happening without judging them – they will pass more quickly than you would expect.

7. Try couples therapy. Sometimes there is nothing better than a trusted third party (i.e. a Los Angeles LMFT) to help you and your partner communicate how you really feel and sort out what’s really going on versus worries and fears about what the other is thinking and feeling. Note that you don’t have to be married to try couples therapy, either!



Parenting With The Best Intentions

Ever since my son was born I have been preparing myself for the type of parent I wanted to be. I had done a great deal of research and have developed a parenting program called Empathy Parenting based on the latest research. The basics of this style of parenting are that the quality and quantity of parental attention is not limited to punishing a child’s bad behavior and rewarding good behavior. Tim-outs, positive re-enforcement, natural consequences and other commonly prescribed parenting techniques are not used. So the idea is not to rely on external motivation like rewards and a punishment which is basically saying to your child your worth is in your actions.   Empathy parenting, on the other hand, assumes the best of the child and tries to address the whole child, not just the unwanted behavior.

I have to constantly ask myself what is my long term goal for my son? Or else it is very easy for me to fall in to the trap of just wanting the easy way out, an obedient child. Remembering that when our children are at their very worst that they need us the most can be helpful.  For instance conventional advice would recommend withdrawing parental attention in case of tantrums.  Empathy Parenting assumes that behaviors are just the outward expression of feelings and thoughts, needs and intentions.  Leaping to punish the “bad” behavior, we are really telling our children that they mean less to us when they act up and we miss an opportunity to address deeper issues.

This is not to say that as a parent you will not struggle with the desire to take the easy route and put an end to whatever is going on at the moment by counting to three or using time outs as a quick way to get your child to behave.  I must admit that this is a daily challenge that if I am not mindful in my daily routine with my son can be overwhelming. As parents we all have room for improvement. It is never too late to start to turn things around.  If you are interested in learning more about Empathy Parenting my next group for parents will be announced soon.  Contact me at info@farahantherapy.com for further information.



Intimacy and Forgiveness

Rewrite your story and maintain you relationships

Most of you have more in common with a Hollywood screen writer than you think.  You have an internal script that is a driving force behind your interaction with others. It is your script for how others should act and react in all areas of life.  You believe your script is the best script, the right script.  It needs no rewrites or editing.  This may work in Hollywood, which I doubt, but it definitely does not work in an intimate relationship. The script makes you unnecessarily demanding and insensitive to the flaws of the people you have chosen to love. Your script leaves you little room for others mistakes and has a poor understanding of forgiveness. What makes an intimate relationship so important and special is that you’re willing to endure their bad qualities too.

Becoming aware of your script and the need for many rewrites, may open the door for your partner’s flaws. It may even allow you to forgive the fact that they had childhoods, which wounded them.

It’s guaranteed that you will be hurt by the people you care about.  It is important to recognize what your deal-breaker is. If it’s not a deal-breaker and you want to maintain the relationship, then you have to use skills that repair, fix, and maintain the relationship.

There is one essential tool for this repair to take place and that is forgiveness.  One way to ward off your script and allow forgiveness even when you are hurt is not let yourself off too easy.  If you wand your loved one, want to work on forgiveness in a group setting, join my Los Angeles couples group therapy. You learn from one another. Research shows that overlooking your mistakes can sometimes reduce your empathy for others and your motivation to make amends.