We are all hardwired for connection. No exceptions. It is in all of us no matter your history, trauma or the story you are telling yourself. I call it our birthright. When it feels safe to reach out and open your heart to connection with another, there is a feeling of calm, confidence, compassion and contentment. But when there is an obstacle to this natural inclination to reach out and take in connection, there is fertile ground for loneliness, depression and anxiety, not to mention the toll it has on cardiovascular health. Simply put, we need each other for our wellbeing.
Loneliness is at historic levels. And the pandemic has not helped matters. I have been really curious in the last two years as to why some of us can get our connection needs met and some of us are having a really hard time. Why is this? Well, I would say that it comes down to unaddressed childhood trauma.
If as a child it was unsafe to reach out for connection and comfort,...more
I get this question a lot from clients who come to see me. They'll ask, "why bother with the past? Why can't I just bury it in the ground and forget about it?" And I respond with, "it's not so easy." I wish I could give them a pill or have them do a series of exercises. I wish there were an easy bypass, but there isn't. The way out is through.
If someone is coming to me with anxiety and panic or bouts of depression, it is because they have things from the past that have not been worked through. They still live in beliefs about themselves or the world that were formed at an early age and that still rule their lives.
For me, it isn't the adverse things from childhood that are the hardest part. Really, the hardest part is the meaning and beliefs we make from these experiences that we carry forward. Yes, of course, the abuse and neglect were horrible and undeserving. We were only innocent and helpless children after all. I do recognize the pain and hurt. And I have a watchful eye on the...more
Spending Way Too Much Time Together: A Relationship Survival (and Thriving) Guide In The Time Of Corona
Dean Janeff, LMFT
Spending more time than ever with your partner? Stuck at home, feeling like you are on top of each other? Not having that special time to reunite at the end of the day and checking in on the day’s events? Noticing a surge in defensiveness, withdrawal and criticism? Well, you’re not alone. Stress and anxiety are peaking and with it comes relationship strain. Here are seven tips for surviving (and even thriving) in your relationship during quarantine. Here are seven ways to help each other get to calm!
- Ask for what you need
- I’m going to start with this one. It is just so vital especially when we are breathing down each other’s necks. I wish we were mind readers, but we are not. If you need space, ASK for it. If you need connection or reassurance, ASK for it. It also helps to mention how you are feeling. Getting in touch with your sadness, fear or anger often leads to what you need: “Honey, I am feeling frustrated and need some space.”
by Dean Janeff
Wow. This certainly feels like a time of uncertainty. It also feels like a time of distance and disconnection. It is a double whammy. We feel isolated in uncertainty. You see, we as humans are all hardwired for connection. And when we don't have a sense of belonging or a felt sense of another, we notice an uptick in anxiety and feeling unsafe. As we live in these times of Corona, we are faced with feelings of hopelessness, stress and fear. Here are seven ways to be present in our pain but not get stuck in it. Here are seven ways to get to calm in uncertain times:
1. Find a routine.
This is super important when trying to manage uncertainty and anxiety. Experiencing control in our tasks can bring ease and guard against disabling feelings. Focus on the small moments of your life with presence and attention. Move from job to job with open awareness and open heartedness.
2. Know your news threshold.
Watch or read enough to stay informed and be careful not to overdo it. The news can feel addicting and anxiety...more
At a training in Minneapolis these past four days, I learned a lot about the inner child and inner adult we all carry inside of us. And I learned how incredibly healing it can be if we can find a way of nurturing and making the environment safe for our inner child. For some of us we still carry the hurt and pain of our childhood in a part of ourselves as adults.
It made me realize how much we may listening to our wounded child instead of the responsible and calm adult part of us. So what if we were to find a way to soothe and comfort our child part that was criticized and abused as a 5-year old or as a 16-year old? How much joy and fulfillment could we really experience in ourselves and in our relationships when we lead with our adult self and not our child parts?
Well, I say there is an immense opportunity for growth and transformation by doing so. Take for example the husband who approaches his wife after looking at the latest Visa bill: “What is this! How many times have we talked about keeping our spending in line? We can’t afford this!” So who is...more
EMDR Therapy: Five Ways You May Be Surprised by Its Benefits
A friend asked me one day about some challenges she was going through. She told me how difficult it was for her to concentrate and how easily she became startled. She mentioned her sleep disturbances and how easy it was for her to get angry. As we talked more, I discovered that she had traumatic experiences in the past. I asked her if she thought she might have post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
“How can this be,” she said. “I thought PTSD was for war veterans.” I explained that PTSD goes well beyond traumas like combat exposure and sexual trauma to traumas like the experience of an emotionally abusive family member or the experience of a series of painful relationship breakups. And I explained that her poor concentration, anger outbursts and sleep disturbances were probably the result of traumatic events from her past being re-experienced in present day like flashbacks. This was a real eye-opener for her.
I told her that was the bad news. But the good...more
The holidays are in full swing. Christmas music is playing in department stores, markets, and coffee shops. People are out shopping, co-workers are talking about their holiday plans and neighbors are decorating their houses. It’s hard to escape. So how do you move through this time when you are actively grieving the loss of a loved one? You don’t feel cheerful or celebratory at times. What do you do to manage the hubbub of the holidays and the strong emotions you are feeling inside? Frankly, it’s hard. After all, you have many fond memories of someone who has been so close. And now family is coming back together, but this time without someone you miss dearly. The holidays for many are the hardest part of the grieving process.
So here are seven tips and strategies to help you find some relief and solace through the rest of December.
Acknowledge your lost sibling, spouse, parent or child during holiday get-togethers. Light a candle and ask friends and family to share a memory or a prayer. These moments can be bonding. The...
If you think about it, wars are often waged as a way of proving that each side is right. So what’s the point of being right? Is it the satisfaction of getting one’s way? Or is it the satisfaction of seeing the other party lose? In the world of intimate relationships WAR leads to emotional disconnection which can be a death nail for any relationship. Over and over, romantic partners are faced with a choice: Try to be right or return to love. Many run-away problems result from partners looking out for their best interest and not looking out for the interest of the partnership itself. Unfortunately, for many of us we find it is easier or more comfortable to be right and harder to understand our partner in times of strife and stress. Here are six ways of looking out for the best interest of the relationship and laying down the need to be right:
Physical attunement: The body doesn’t lie. Our partners may tell us one thing, but the body may be telling us what is really going on. In conflict, learn to track your partner’s physical nuances...
I have heard for a quite a while about the connection between our guts and the health of our brain. But it was not until I read Dr. David Perlmutter's book, Brain Maker, that I realized how profound this connection really is. Dr. Perlmutter offers some easy dietary changes we can make to help minimize our risk of Parkinson's, Alzheimers, dementia and even mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
More probiotics, kefir, yogurt and kimchi in your diet can help fortify your gut which in turn can benefit mental wellness. I am hearing more and more of people contracting early onset dementia and Alzheimer's and hearing the increasing prevalence of depression and anxiety. Could some of that be a result of our diets?
I think so and the research though relatively new appears back this up. We are living much longer lives. Good eating habits established early can help ensure that we live the latter phases of our lives in good health.more
A successful partnership is not one in which a couple has found a way to avoid fights. Fighting actually if done well is actually a sign of a strong relationship. We can’t always agree on everything and it is healthy for partners to face and work through contentious issues. Here are ten ways for you and your partner to fight well:
Use a familiar term of endearment like a smile, a well-placed touch or reassuring voice even during the heat of battle. It allows each partner know that they can make it through this even after the end of the fight.
Speak less especially when you feel activated. More words can create misunderstanding or anger when a few words of reassurance was all that was needed.
Take a deep breath to calm your nervous system. It allows for a better judgment, patience, and a better chance of hearing and understanding your partner.
Build a secure relationship so that when you fight you know that there are no losers. Know that the relationship is not on the line when you fight. You are in...