Tag Archives: arguments

Nobody Really Wants Intimacy

The other day a few colleagues of mine were discussing intimacy on a lunch break.  The one had his own therapy group that was focused on the topic of intimacy and he was expressing his distress in how often people sign up for the groups on topics like “anxiety”, “depression” and “grief” but few wanted to sign up for the intimacy group.

“People don’t want to be intimate anymore”, one of my colleagues said in response to his distress, “We’re living in a separate individualistic culture”.

“Yeah, a lot of people are just focused on their phones and technology now,” said another, “Nobody really wants intimacy”.

Up until this point in the discussion I was merely an observer, like a bird looking in through the window, but I felt an urge to say something to add my own two cents.  “Well, I think the problem is that people don’t like conflict,” I said, “and you need to be able to work through conflict in order to be more intimate”. 

Now, of course, when I say this I don’t mean that we need to have conflict in order to be intimate.  There are plenty of relationships out there that are full of conflict and the intimacy is severely lacking.  However, what I do mean is that by avoiding conflict, we are also avoiding more intimacy.

Contrary to what some may think, intimacy is far more than just sex.  Sex is just a mere expression of physical intimacy.  But there’s also intimacy on an emotional level.

When we’re emotionally intimate with someone, we are then able to share someone our true emotions.  Our sadness.  Our fears.  Our worries.  And even our anger.

By becoming emotionally intimate, we allow ourselves to slowly and gradually be more and more seen by another person. It creates more love and deepens the relationship.  The other person is better able to know us for who we truly are and we are then better able to know the other person.

This process isn’t easy. In fact, it’s terrifying because it requires us to be incredibly vulnerable.  To be intimate requires us to take down our defenses and expose ourselves with another person with the hope that this other person is going to react with acceptance and love.

And for most of us we haven’t had that reflected to us in our childhood.  We’re used to being judged and shamed.  We’re used to feeling guilty.  We’re used to not being accepted.

We’re not used to other people giving us a safe and loving space for us to express our emotions and to simply say something like, “I know that’s tough.  I’m here for you and I love you no matter what”.

I think this is where dealing with conflict makes things tough.  Because while we want to be accepted and loved by another person, conflict can feel like the exact opposite of that.

Depending on how we were raised, conflict can feel very rejecting.  We may have come to believe that conflict means separation or that fighting leads to the ending of the relationship.

However, the reality is that — and some people have grown up knowing this already — is that conflict is simply a discussion of differences and that it’s naturally a part of being in a relationship.

The reality is that through conflict, if we can communicate in a way where both people take responsibility for themselves and both are able to share their own genuine internal experience, we can actually become much more intimate.

Through conflict we have the opportunity to see another persons’s deep inner wounds, so we can better understand what makes them who they are.  We then have the opportunity to give them assurance that all is okay and that they are loved and accepted no matter what regardless.

ConflictWounds

Click to Tweet: Through conflict we can see a persons’s deep inner wounds, which can allow love to deepen. @jenilyn8705 

So how can we better deal with conflict so that we can become more intimate?  Here’s a few tips:

#1 – Be aware of your own relationship to conflict

Are you one who avoids conflict at all cost?  Do you tend to believe that a happy relationship means no arguing?  Do you have difficulty holding the idea that a debate can be healthy and free of anger and resentment?

#2 – Track yourself

When a discussion starts to turn a bit sour, be sure to check in with yourself.  How are you feeling?  Are you angry or anxious?  Are you tense?

When we’re triggered and become angry, anxious, tense, or upset, this is when we are unable to think clearly.  We literally can’t process information the way we can otherwise because our nervous system is outside of our normal window of tolerance.  So it’s important to stop, breath and recognize that you’re triggered.

#3 – Recognize where the other person is and focus on the discussion

Does the other person appear tense and angry?  Are they saying things like “you always” or “you never”?  If so, then it’s likely that they’re triggered.

Remember how I said we can’t process information clearly when we’re outside our window of tolerance?  Well, when you can’t then the other person can’t either.  So its important to recognize that and know when to walk away and cool off. 

When both are cooled off, then a real discussion can happen.

#4 – Be mindful about language

If you want to be loved and respected then know that the other person deserves to be loved and respected as well.  So be mindful about your language by avoiding saying things like “childish” or “selfish”.  Avoid saying things that may imply trying to place all the blame on the other person because, realistically, it takes two to tango anyway.

So, do I really think people don’t want intimacy?  No, not at all.  I think deep down in our core we really truly do want intimacy it’s just that our own wounds and fear get in the way.

How do some of your wounds block you from intimacy?  What’s your relationship with conflict?  Share in the comments below!

The Hidden Reason Why Your Relationship May Be Struggling

Maybe you’ve been arguing a bit more than usual or you’ve noticed your partner, family member, or friend has been a bit more on the “grumpy” side.

Because things had been going so well, you’re a bit puzzled as to what has brought all this on.  Maybe you’ve tried to talk with them about it but what they have said doesn’t really give the answers and insight you were looking for.  There explanations seem a bit vague and they haven’t really told you directly what they want from you.

When we find ourselves in moments like this it can be quite frustrating.  We want to help the other person, but the information we have been given doesn’t really help us do that.

In these moments, we can begin to really question things.  We may feel trapped and powerless over improving anything.

Fortunately, there is something that you can do even in these situations where the person doesn’t really tell you how you can help them.  It is one of these hidden reasons that we may not always think of or realize unless we choose to really sit back and focus on the big picture.

The reason?

It may have to do with what you are bringing into the relationship.

So what do I mean by this?  What I mean is the kind of energy are you bringing into your interactions with this person.  Are you coming home from work and venting every day to them about a specific co-worker?  Are you calling them in the evenings and complaining about this “stupid” thing that your roommate did?

I don’t even mean that you necessarily have to be doing it all the time but are you doing it at all?  If you realize that you do have moments where you are really venting to your partner, friend, family member, or whoever, sit back and ask yourself: How do they react to your moments of “venting”? Does their energy change in some way?  Do they seem to remain peaceful and calm or do they seem to “tense up” and get stressed by your venting?

We are all constantly being affected by one another’s energy.

If one person is having a bad day, then their energy can negatively impact us so that we are now suddenly in a bad mood.  We can then direct that energy to others around us as well.  The trouble is that many of us don’t know this is happening because we don’t stop, sit back, and reflect enough to notice.

So here’s one example:  You wake up in the morning in a great mood.  It’s a Saturday, so you’ve had the day off to do whatever you’ve wanted: catch up on chores, do some yoga, take the dog for a walk through the park, and so on.  You’re day has been a day of utter bliss and peacefulness.

However, you come home to your roommate complaining about some issue with her family.  This stressful energy within her then turns into her complaining to you and your other roommate about something with the apartment.  This then causes you to feel all distressed and angry.

You meet up with your boyfriend shortly after and, upon meeting up, you begin express all the frustration that you have towards your roommate at your boyfriend.  You to say things like, “This is totally ridiculous”, “This is so unfair”, or “I just can’t stand her”.

Although you were probably hoping that expressing all of these frustrations would cause you so relief, instead you and your boyfriend begin to fight about random little things.  You find the two of you arguing over things like where to park or where to eat for dinner.  This then leaves you going to bed that night feeling upset and frustrated.

You see what I mean?  In this example, this negative and stressful energy originated with the roommate and her family and the energy from that trickled into this romantic relationship.

These kind of things are happening all the time.  The problem is that we don’t notice that it is happening and, as a result, we don’t stop this energy when it comes to us.  Instead, we can bring it on to the next person we cross paths with, only to then make others feel all stressed out, angry, and upset as well.

So how can we stop doing this?  Here are some steps:

#1 – Make the effort to try to be aware.

Check in with your energy levels throughout the day.  Notice what events and people “trigger” you can cause a charged emotional reaction in you.

#2 – Take time to get yourself centered.

When we are triggered by someone else, we can tend to experience a bit of a antsy, flustered, or “scattered” feeling our bodies.  Taking the time to do some kind of meditation, breath-work, or mindfulness activity to center yourself and quiet the mind can be beneficial to calm down this natural body response.

#3 – Be mindful about what you say and how you say it.

Whenever you have noticed that you are triggered and about ready to interact with someone, be mindful over how you share what happened with this person.  Rather than to go off venting and “let it all out”, express it in a calm, collected, and balanced way.  Really think about the words you use and the energy that you are giving out behind those words.  Be mindful over how you may be affecting others.

EnergyRelationships

Click to Tweet: We are constantly being affected by one another’s energy…so what energy are you bringing to your relationships? via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

Think of a time where you have negatively impacted another person because of something bad that happened to you.  How did you react?  How could you have responded differently to create a better outcome?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

4 Steps to Diffuse an Argument Before it Even Starts

A few weeks ago on a Friday evening I wasn’t feeling the greatest.  I was really busy, stressed, and, to top all that off, sick with a head cold.

That evening, my boyfriend and I had gone out to get some takeout.  During the trip I began sharing some of my recent thoughts and frustrations.  One thing led to another and pretty soon I found him getting angry and us nearly getting into a full-fledged argument.

The key here is that I said nearly got into an argument.  It was weird because we didn’t really end up actually arguing.  Him getting a bit angry was as far as things went.  In fact, things diffused so quickly that by the time we got home we were hugging and exchanging “I love yous”.

How did I do it?  Well here are steps to follow to help you diffuse any argument before it actually starts:

Step 1:  Remain calm.

Whenever the conversation starts to get a bit heated and different views and opinions are conflicting, we tend to get very angry.  As a result, we can end up saying things that we didn’t really want to say or saying things that we later regret. When this happens, we are caught up in our ego (aka our fear-based mind) rather than our true love-based selves.

When in this ego-driven mode of being, we can tend to really hurt other people and, most importantly, ourselves.  So one way to get out of our fixation on our ego is to get calm.  Bring your focus back to your body and to your breath.  Take deep breaths and check-in on how your feel in your body and overall being — both physically and emotionally.

Simply making the effort to get and be calm alone can be an incredibly powerful tool, as it prevents us from saying anything that we don’t really mean or anything that we will regret later on.

Step 2: Let go of need to be “right” or heard.

The second thing that we often do when we find ourselves getting into an argument is that we experience this strong need to be heard and to be “right”.  This need to be “right” is also an ego-driven response.

Though seems completely contradictory, the reality is that when we let go of the desire to be “right”, it gives us more strength and power.

So let go of any drive or desire to be heard or right in the argument and allow things to simply be as it is.  To simply let it be, is to choose love rather than fear.

Step 3: Listen.

Whenever there is some kind of conflict or problem, many of us start feeling like we need to say something in order to make things better.  However, I must say that the older and older I get the more I realize that the opposite is true.

Let me be clear: We don’t always need to verbally talk about things to “clear the air” and make things better.  Many times, all that needs to happen is for someone to really truly listen.  When someone is really truly heard and another person really truly listens, this is where true healing can actually take place.

ListeningTrueHealing

But Jen, whenever I do that I feel like a doormat! Oh trust me — I totally feel you there!  That was like the story of my life for several years, but here’s the thing: We will only feel like a doormat when our underlying motivation is fear rather than love.  We will never feel like a doormat whenever we are in a place of inner strength and love.

So if you ever do feel like a “doormat” then sit back and ask yourself: Am I calm?  Have I fully let go of a need to be “right”?  If not, then take the time to do so.

It is when we truly wish to serve that we come from a place of absolute inner strength and love.  It is in those moments when we have truly disengaged from our ego and have chosen love instead.

Step 4: Wait patiently.

Once you have made the conscious decision for yourself in the previous steps to choose love over fear, now the only thing left to do is wait.  Simply allow things to be and allow the other person to process whatever they need to process.

During this time continue to hold this space of love and strength for yourself.  Also, if you did happen to say some words that you regret in anyway, then you may feel that now is a good time to apologize.

Remember to be open and receptive.  Don’t necessarily expect an apology or a reconciliation right away, as that will take you out of a place of love and back into ego.  But simply remember to be open and ready to receive so that if it does happen naturally then you are ready to receive it.

Take action now!

Think of an argument that you have been in recently.  How have these steps may have changed the outcome?  Is there any step that you feel may be more difficult for you to do rather than the others?  How will you handle your next potential argument?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!