Empowered Relationship Podcast: Your Relationship Resource And Guide

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Guest: Ani Anderson and Brian Trzaskos Ani Anderson and Brian Trzaskos are a dynamic husband and wife team who help compassionate entrepreneurs create the financial freedom they really want without compromising their integrity. As sought after rehabilitation and energy medicine professionals for over two decades, they have helped thousands of people achieve their desires through employing natural law and sensation-based mindset practices. Together they have created multiple businesses, a teaching institute, blended a family, and love sharing with other couples the secret to their success. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.) Notes from Ani Anderson and Brian Trzaskos: Brian & Ani share their story and how they came into relationship with a deep desire for a more expanded experience in life. They talked about the transformational process of being honest, authentic, and clear about their path to move forward together. “Storms happen in people’s life. Things just come out of nowhere and are completely unexpected, but when we meet them with complete honesty and integrity than everyone through the process has an opportunity to shift and change and come to a higher level of being within themselves also.” – Brian Trzaskos Memory recapitulation process: 3 favorite memories from childhood. 3 favorite personal memories as an adult. 3 favorite professional memories as an adult. Through the sensation-based mindset work, you can identify the top felt quality and sensation from these memories. To discover more about the sensation-based word you identified, you can look up the definition, synonyms and antonyms of the top sensation. The opposite of the felt sensation will be a key part of your experience. Then, you will come up with a statement for the sensation-based word, which then becomes your compass for making decisions. This sentence structure becomes your Soul’s Agenda Statement. In relationship, your partner can support your soul’s agenda, and you can support their soul’s agenda as well. When you know what your partner’s core purpose is, then you can ask very powerful, compassionate reminder questions. For example: What do you need to express? Where are you trapped right now? “Knowing your soul’s agenda and both sides of the coin really allows people to remain conscious and open even in the difficult times, so they can see opportunities and get to the next level.” Ani Anderson MENTIONED: Ani Anderson & Brian Trzaskos’ website Practical Alchemist (website). Free gift: https://www.practicalalchemist.com/empoweredrelationships/ TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 132: How To Work With Your Soul’s Agenda With Ani Anderson and Brian Trzaskos [Transcript] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.  
Last week I talked about How To Gain Self-Confidence In Relationship. I discussed the positive cycle between assertiveness and self-confidence. The more you can assert yourself the more self-confident you will be. Just as the more self-confident you are the more assertive you will be. 5 REASONS WHY WE AVOID BEING ASSERTIVE IN A RELATIONSHIP While we might agree with the concept of being assertive, many of us have no idea HOW to be assertive in a relationship. Here’s a few reasons why: 1. We think assertiveness is synonymous with being aggressive or confrontational and we are afraid of being mean. 2. We are afraid to “rock the boat”. Here is something to consider, the boat is already rocked. There is nothing you can do to hide it or make it go away. The goal here is to be honest and real about what is happening. This will allow you to bring your whole self fully to the relationship. “Through assertiveness we develop contact with ourselves and with others. We become real human beings with real ideas, real differences…and real flaws. And we admit all of these things. We don’t try to become someone else’s mirror. We don’t try to suppress someone else’s uniqueness. We don’t try to pretend that we’re perfect. We become ourselves. We allow ourselves to be there.” ~ Randy Paterson 3. We are concerned about the loss of love, connection, or attention. Everyone fears rejection.  4. Being assertive feels too stressful which can activate your sympathetic nervous system response (i.e. fight, flight or freeze response). 5. We don’t know how to be assertive. We don’t have any good models to emulate. Assertiveness is a skill that takes practice to develop. TIPS FOR HOW TO BE ASSERTIVE IN A RELATIONSHIP Check Your Beliefs Do you believe your thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires are just as important as your partner’s (not more important, but equally important)? Do you believe you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity? Do you think being assertive is critical to your overall well-being, happiness, and potential? Do you think you can get your needs met without sacrificing the needs of your partner? Know You Know your limits and boundaries. Identify your emotions, desires, and preferences. Know what you want. Take Action Confront people who violate your boundaries or rights. Ask for help. Learn to say no. Practice saying “no” for an hour or a day as an experiment to see how it feels.  Practice Respect Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Contribute to win-win conversations. Be honest and tactful with your loved ones.  Watch Your Habits Are you overly apologetic? Do you wait for someone else to recognize your needs? Do you feel responsible for your partner’s needs? Do you strive to please people all the time?   PUT ASSERTIVENESS TO PRACTICE WITH THESE 4 STEPS Start small. Be specific. Be clear and honest. Be respectful. MENTIONED: Be The Best You Can Be In Relationship (podcast) The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships, Randy Paterson (book) Challenge Day (website) If you have a topic you would like me to discuss or a situation you would like me to speak to, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in how to be more assertive in your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.
LISTENER’S QUESTION: Hello Dr. Jessica Higgins, I’m really enjoying your podcast. Thank you very much for all the insight you give us. I am interested in hearing about addiction particularly gambling addiction. My husband has been gambling for probably seven years. I discovered it about three years ago. Gambling just seems to be one of those addictions that people don’t really talk about so much. He’s gambling about $30 a day, so it doesn’t seem like a lot, but at the end of the year it adds up. I’d really like to know how to figure out what to do about this, how I want to proceed in my relationship, and how to assess whether this is a deal breaker for me because I have a lot of issue with it. Any information you can give on the effect of gambling on relationships and how to deal with it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. (These are Show Notes: Be sure to listen to the episode to hear stories, examples, and more tips.) TIPS: 1. Take An Honest Look What is the impact of your partner’s behavior? Emotionally Relationally Financially Etc. 2. Identify Your Boundaries Are you enabling your partner’s behavior? (see article below) Do you feel resentful, overextended, or taken for granted? Identify your boundaries. What is okay with you and what is not okay with you? What would holding a boundary allow you to feel? What are your underlying needs? How would holding a boundary help you? How would holding a boundary help your relationship? 3. Change The Rules Do not participate in old dynamics or habits. Change the way you relate with your partner. Set new limits and standards for yourself. Set boundaries that you can control. 4. Communicate With Your Partner Express concern without blame or shame. Share the impact of your partner’s behavior. Share the serious nature of the concern. Rate your concern on a scale from 1 to 10. Discuss the option of getting help (i.e. therapist, counselor, Gamblers Anonymous, treatment program). Explicitly state your boundary. “Here is what I am going to do moving forward.” 5. Take Action Stick with your plan. It will feel the hardest in the beginning. Be consistent. Let your partner know you are serious. You are changing the family/couple system. Get support (i.e. Gam-Anon, therapist, support group, friends, etc.). Gather new information. How does your partner respond to your new limits? Is your partner willing to get help? Are you and your partner communicating? MENTIONED: Transform Your Life Baja Cruise (cruise details and registration page) Brené Brown talking about Boundaries, Empathy, and Compassion (video) How to avoid enabling a spouse’s gambling addiction (article) Stages of compulsive gambling (article) Gambling Addiction & Recovery Support Group (forum) AAMFT Gambling (resource) Gambling addiction (resource) How Can I Help My Husband Stop Gambling? (article) TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 057- How to Avoid Enabling Your Spouses’ Destructive Behavior. If you have a topic you would like me to discuss or a situation you would like me to speak to, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in learning about improving your love relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.
Our expectations inform how we relate and react to others. Usually, we don’t stop to look at why we have certain expectations and whether or not they serve our relationships.  Even when our expectations go ...
If you have ever felt confused in your relationship, this episode offers a 5 step process to gain more clarity. This process will help if you are feeling confused about a small issue or if you are feeling confused about a bigger concern in your relationship. Over the many years of working with clients with relationship concerns, especially with my individual clients, they often express feeling confused about how to resolve concerns in their relationship and even feel confused about whether they should continue in the relationship. More often than not, clients get stuck in this confused place - going back and forth - for weeks or even sometimes years. Usually, this confusion is an attempt to avoid dealing with the real genuine feelings underlying the concern. Here are 5 steps to consider: 1. Create the Space: Take time and give yourself permission to feel, drop in to your experience. Take an honest heartfelt look at your experience. 2. Feel your Feelings: Allow yourself to feel. Be open and real with yourself. Notice and follow the lead of your emotion. An emotion usually has a beginning, middle, and an end. If you allow the process to flow, you will usually get to a place of understanding, learning, and/or insight. 3. Encourage the Process: Stay with the process. If you identify a feeling, stay curious. Ask yourself, “Is there more?” or “Tell me more.” Have inquiry and wonder about your experience, “What is not working?” and “What am I wanting?” 4. Support: Be gentle with yourself. Set aside the critical voice. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, afraid, and vulnerable. Consider what would be supportive for you (i.e. time in nature, alone time, taking a bath, time with a friend). Trust there will be good that comes from the process. 5. Learning: As mentioned in #2, if you stay with the process, with a curious and present approach, you will probably get to a new awareness, understanding, or perspective. This will offer you a learning of some sort and possibly a next step. You do not have to figure out or be responsible for knowing how to work it all out. The goal is to know more about yourself and your underlying needs or desires. I would love to hear from you. Please let me know if you have any questions. You can leave me a voice message, by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review, if you would be willing to click here. Thank you. ❤
In this episode, you will learn ways to address the difficulty and uncertainty of not knowing if your partner is really “in it” with you and what to do about it. If you missed Part One, you can check it out here. LISTENER’S QUESTIONS: Listener:..“I’m having a few issues in my relationship with my boyfriend. He just can’t seem to stop messaging his exes. He knows I am very uncomfortable with it. We’ve broken up a few times due to this. I’m starting to think maybe I’m the issue and not him, and I don’t know what to do. We just recently got back together again, and he is doing (it) again. Maybe it’s my insecurities, maybe I should break up with him, maybe I should trust him…I’m stuck on ‘does he not care?’ ‘Does he just not love me?’ Should I break up with him?”… Listener:..“However, I didn’t learn about it until several hours later when he ‘suddenly remembered’ and said that that was happening ‘tomorrow night.’ When I asked him why this was the first I heard of it, he said, ‘I didn’t think of it.’ I was mad that this was the first I was hearing about it, when I’ve explained that we need to discuss in advance things that are going to affect ‘us’ or our time together. I was mad that I had just said that I wanted us to do something, and it sounded like he’s planning on going to this ‘going away’ party. I felt like he wasn’t making ‘us’ the priority.He then made it worse by saying that he didn’t choose which he wanted to do yet, somehow thinking by not choosing the party it was okay. When in reality, either way, he wasn’t choosing ‘us’…” (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.) FINAL 4 (OF 8) QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER: Question #5: Do you have explicit agreements? Couples need to understand the importance of crystal-clear agreements. Relationship starts with a sense of flow, harmony, and connection that seems effortless. They experience a heightened state of arousal known as the “romance stage,” which is fueled by neurochemicals and not sustainable. When the honeymoon wears off, it can be confusing. Why are things no longer harmonious and smooth? Why doesn’t your partner get you? Why are there more misunderstandings? Every couple goes through five stages. Learn more about each stage by downloading a free Relationship Map, which describes what the long-term landscape of intimacy entails. Explicit agreements flush out assumptions, expectations, fears, and needs. What’s visible on the surface, isn’t always what’s going on underneath. Slow down and focus on safety, clarity, and vulnerability. Question #6: Do you clear up miscommunications with your significant other? Bringing up an issue is challenging. Especially, if you lack the confidence to address an issue productively and constructively. Do you best to handle matters in a calm way. While anger can give us the fuel to take action, it will often lead us to say and do things we do not mean. CheckoutERP 018: HOW TO DEAL WITH FEELINGS OF ANGER IN RELATIONSHIP.  Feeling angry, frustrated, or irritable indicates something that matters to you. Don’t let it go, and commit to addressing it constructively with your partner. Use the Communication Exercise as a resource. Use a gentle, curious, and relational approach to support a safe and inviting conversation. Develop a deeper level of understanding of your partner. Sometimes there may be more going on (i.e. ADHA, HSP, Anxiety, Depression, Stress, etc.) Question #7: Do you take care of yourself? Do you ignore or suppress feelings of insecurity and pain? There’s meaning and significance in those feelings. Pay attention to and address them. Pain is a part of life. It is important to learn how to deal with our pain. Boundaries are not to control someone, but for your limits in a relationship. Is your boundary reasonable and fair? Generally people will respect you setting boundaries, rather than lowering your standards. Question #8: Do you work toward a win-win? Strive for a win-win, so that the deal works for both people. This can be a paradigm shift to works towards a resolution that works for both people. If the resolution is not a win-win, it will not be sustainable over the long-term. MENTIONED: Relationship Map (opt-in) 7 Ways Relationship Fail (ebook opt-in) Shifting Criticism To Maintain A Healthy Relationship (guide) Shifting Criticism Into Connected Communication (course) ERP 163: What To Do When You Question “Is My Partner Really With Me?” (podcast) Couples’ Seminar with Melissa Orlov – The ADHD Effect In-Depth (course) ERP 051: How To Thrive With ADHD In Your Relationship (podcast) ERP 134: Sensitivity and Intimacy with Candy Crawford (podcast) ERP 160: How To Deal With Anxiety In Relationship (podcast) ERP 161: HOW TO SOOTHE ANXIETY IN RELATIONSHIP (podcast) ERP 057: How To Avoid Enabling Your Partner’s Destructive Behavior (podcast) ERP 074: How To Combat The Damage Of Stress In Your Relationship (podcast) ERP 075: How To Combat The Damage Of Stress In Your Relationship – Part Two ERP 006: Making And Keeping Agreements To Strengthen Your Relationship (podcast) ERP 109: How Being Gentle With Your Partner Can Make A Big Difference (podcast) Communication exercise (article) ERP 018: HOW TO DEAL WITH FEELINGS OF ANGER IN RELATIONSHIP (podcast) ERP 140: How Pain and Suffering Increase & What to Do about It (podcast) ERP 141: How To Decrease Relationship Pain and Suffering (podcast) Photo by Taylor L. Spurgeon on Unsplash TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please reach out to me. Here is my contact information. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. I would really appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you! ❤ If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me.
Donna is one of the Co-founders and facilitators of The Bridge Retreat and has been working with individuals, couples and groups for almost 30 years.  Donna is passionate about the subject of grief and the grieving process which she believes offers the missing link for many in their search for wholeness. This interest stemmed from her own very personal experience of ‘depression’ which she suffered from for many years and now knows to have in fact been unprocessed grief.   In this episode, Donna Lancaster and Dr. Jessica Higgins discuss:    Discomfort, anxiety, and depression may actually be unprocessed pain and grief. Being grateful for our incredible capacity for survival and resilience, but not letting our past difficulties define you.        How we tend to see people through our own lenses of past pain. Heartbreak is inevitable and an essential part of being wonderfully human. The power of recognizing pain as a community, and healing in a community.     "The details of our stories may differ. But the essence of them is the same...we all go through loss, our hearts break, again and again, it’s part of the human condition. But what we're not shown, generally speaking, is how to allow and to embrace all those emotions and let them flow through us (as) they're meant to do, so that we can then really, really return to our wholeness. Not even return, just remember, because we always were home. And that is the power of community." —  Donna Lancaster       Mentioned:    The Bridge Retreat Video The Bridge Retreat website How to Handle Grief & Loss In Relationship podcast) How to Handle Grief & Loss In Relationship - Part Two (podcast) Grief Refuge (grief companioning) Free strategy session with Dr. Jessica Higgins (coaching) Connect with Donna:  Website: https://www.thebridgeretreat.com/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebridgeretreat/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebridgehealing/          Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins:  Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins Twitter: @DrJessHiggins Website: drjessicahiggins.com  Email: jessica@drjessicahiggins.com    If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.  Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship.  Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here.  Thank you!   If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me.     
GUEST: MARTIN UCIK Martin Ucik is a German born entrepreneur who trained with Eckhart Tolle as a Power Of Now group facilitator and founded www.singles2couples.org, an Association for Healthy Relationships. His studies of Ken Wilber’s Integral Model allowed him to integrate his personal experiences as a divorced father and the wisdom from over 200 relationship books into Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men which Ken Wilber calls “a terrific book!” and his new book Sex Purpose Love. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.) LISTENERS’ QUESTIONS: First listener’s question: “I stumbled upon your podcast on Spotify and since then have found great value in it with my current relationship of 1.5 years. If possible I have some questions/topic that I would love to hear you cover. … One relationship question/topic that is a big stressor in my relationship is: My boyfriend is a police officer and in the National Guard. His jobs have really changed him like how he judges people really quickly and so on. Have you ever covered a topic similar to this?” Second listener’s question: “My worry is that I’ve grown and matured in my thinking over the past couple months and that my boyfriend and I won’t be on the same page. I tend to overthink and my boyfriend tries to simplify things, so oftentimes we balance each other out. However there are times when I think I’m maturing a lot faster than him and it sort of creates a mental gap between us. I’m not sure if that’s because we’re not compatible or if there’s a better way to communicate.” INTEGRAL THEORY Lines of development 5 stages of spiritual development 8 stages of consciousness 4 quadrants Personality matrix Developmental Lines for Relationship, based on Martin Ucik’s approach: Emotional availability Consciousness development Sexual development Spiritual development Anima/animus 8 STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT, BY MARTIN UCIK How we see the world and how we communicate. Survival Magical thinking Ego centric Mythic Rational Pluralistic Integral Transpersonal “Experience without theory is blind but theory without experience is mere intellectual play.” by Immanuel Kant How partners meet each other matters. In the past, partners would meet each other in places where they were likely to have similar perspectives, beliefs, and world views, like college, church, and interest based groups. It was more likely that partners would be at similar stages of consciousness. Whereas today, partners are meeting each other online and are more likely to be at different stages of consciousness, which poses great difficulty for couples. How do you determine what stage of development as person is in? Listen to what really matters to them. What do you recommend for a couple that is dealing with being at different stages of development?  Talk about your experience. Look at the stages of consciousness together. Be gentle in your approach with one another. Invite an openness and a willingness to explore. Sometimes, people will not be ready or willing to grow and develop. MENTIONED: Integral Relationships: A Manual for Men (book) Sex Purpose Love: Couples in Integral Relationships Creating a Better World (book) Relationship Map (opt-in) Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help YouFind – and Keep – Love (book) Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life — Second 2nd Edition (book) Integral Theory: Ken Wilber (Wikipedia) Ken Wilber (website) Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus (book) Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition (book) Passionate Marriage (book) Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love (book) The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire (20th Anniversary Edition) (book) Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart (book) Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After (book) Alex Gray (website) ERP 006: Making And Keeping Agreements To Strengthen Your Relationship (podcast) ERP 140: How Pain and Suffering Increase & What to Do about It (podcast) ERP 141: How To Decrease Relationship Pain and Suffering (podcast) ERP 015: Do You Have A “Unity” Or “Journey” Mindset In Relationship? (podcast) TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please reach out to me. Here is my contact information. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Dealing with resentment in relationships help couples move forward positively with their lives and allow couples to have deeper connection. I would really appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here.
Listener’s question: “How to not let your anxiety disorder become a third person in your relationship and the hardest part of how to let your partner in on it and help them understand the anxiety attacks aren’t because of him.” Second Listener’s Question: “I recently came across your podcast and I was really intrigued by your words and style of work.  I was hoping you would possibly be able to help me out with a relationship issue of my own. I would really appreciate your advice.  I’ve been dating my boyfriend for around two years now. I really do love him so much and we have a great relationship. I have a lot of anxiety in general and I’m just always expecting for “the other shoe to drop”.  I have a paranoid fear of being cheated on. For absolutely zero reason. He’s never done anything to make me believe he would do that to me, or that he is even capable of doing it. However, for some reason it plays in my head over and over, that it COULD happen.  I do everything I can to get this thoughts out of my head but they seem to come, basically daily. It’s starting to drive me a little crazy because all I want is to fully enjoy my relationship with him. He’s a wonderful man and I know he loves me too.  What do you suggest I do to stop these intrusive thoughts of being hurt? It seems to be a huge fear of mine that I almost expect to happen in any relationship. “ Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear stories, explanations, and examples. 1. Careful to not hide and cover up. It is painful enough to deal with anxiety symptoms. Attempting to appear okay, when you are not okay will not help your partner understand and be there for you. Don’t blame yourself. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million people have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can occur for a number of reasons: Genetics. Environmental factors. Brain chemistry. Medical factors. Withdrawal from an illicit substance. 2. Educate your partner. What happens when someone experiences anxiety. Symptoms may include: worry, overwhelm, fear, increased heart rate, muscle tension, difficult sleeping, shortness of breath, restlessness etc. Future-based thinking and uncertainty of one’s ability to meet the challenge. Understand anxiety and how your brain creates it. Amygdala (alarm system. threat, fear) Cortex (thinking, logic, awareness, details) Amygdala can turn on the flight/flight/freeze response in milliseconds. The cortex can not control the amygdala through deliberate thought process. Amygdala can override the cortex, can control or influence thoughts and focus. The cortex can initiate the amygdala’s response with fear and worry thoughts. Identifying Anxiety-Igniting Thoughts, by Catherine Pittman, Ph.D.  Download Pdf Cortex-based tendencies are called anxiety igniting thoughts because they have the potential to activate the amygdala, which could be a primary source of your anxiety. Pessimism. Worry. Perfectionism. Guilt & Shame. 3. Help your partner understand your personal experience. What your past experience has been with anxiety. What it looks like for you. What triggers your anxiety. What helps and what does not help. Your attachment style. 4. How to deal with anxiety.  Learn ways to change your brain. Restructure your thoughts. Name it to tame it Thought stopping. Cognitive restructuring. Work to build safety and a secure bond with your partner. Practice mindfulness. Soothe and calm anxiety Relaxation techniques Exercise Adequate sleep Distraction.   MENTIONED: Identifying Anxiety-Igniting Thoughts, by Catherine Pittman, Ph.D. (pdf) ERP 052: How To Save Your Relationship By Understanding Your Attachment Needs (podcast) ERP 142: How To Increase Relationship Satisfaction With Mindfulness (podcast) ERP 143: How To Increase Relationship Satisfaction With Mindfulness – Part Two (podcast) ERP 144: How To Increase Relationship Satisfaction With Mindfulness – Part Three (podcast) Hold Me Tight, by Susan Johnson (book) Love Sense, by Susan Johnson (book) Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic, and Worry (book) The Feeling Good Handbook, by David Burns (book) The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, by Edmund Bourne (book) Attached, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller (book) The Highly Sensitive Person (website) Photo by A. L. on Unsplash   TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please reach out to me. Here is my contact information. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Dealing with resentment in relationships help couples move forward positively with their lives and allow couples to have deeper connection. I would really appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you! ❤ If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me.
Ericka Young is a recognized expert in financial coaching and helps families significantly improve their finances and their future. As founder and president of Tailor-Made Budgets, she teaches debt freedom through her e-newsletters, personal coaching, group programs, and speaking engagements.   In this episode, Ericka Young and Dr. Jessica Higgins discuss:    How most people see debt as “normal,” but it breeds shame and embarrassment. Once you reach your breaking point, getting out of debt requires diligence and persistence. Rather than being restrictive, a budget can be freeing and give you control of your finances.  If you are afraid to look at your debt, then you won’t know what it's going to take to get free. Working together as a couple requires stepping back, looking at the big picture, and working toward a common goal.     "They're so afraid that looking at the number is going to mean that the house is gonna fall down around them. And my take on this is, first of all, you're not alone. This is why I'm here. I've been there. And so I understand that this is difficult. You can do hard things though. And if you don't face it, you can't change it." —  Ericka Young     Mentioned:    Free Mini-Course Naked and Unashamed   Connect with Ericka:  Website: https://www.tailormadebudgets.com/ Facebook: TailorMadeBudgets Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tailormadebudgets/ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erickayoung/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/budgetsbyericka Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins:  Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins Twitter: @DrJessHiggins Website: drjessicahiggins.com  Email: jessica@drjessicahiggins.com    If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.  Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship.  Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here.  Thank you!   If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me. 
Today, we are continuing the conversation about how to cultivate a more loving presence through the Five A's offered by David Richo. The Five A's are Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing. If you missed episode ERP 195: 5 Essential Elements Of Love - Part- One, I encourage you to listen to it before listening to this episode, as it gives context for this conversation as well as discusses the first 2 A's. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.)  In this episode, Dr. Jessica Higgins discusses:  The challenges of not receiving appreciation and how this can affect us both personally and relationally. How offering specific appreciations can increase the positive impact.   Affection refers not just to physical contact, but also to the feeling of being close through conversation, gestures, and presence.  Allowing means letting someone be themselves and giving them the freedom to do things in their own way.  The difference between trying to control your partner and setting limits and boundaries for yourself.  The importance of giving the 5 A's to others AND giving the 5 A's to ourselves.  "Being a fair witness requires a healthy ego, because distance and objectivity are unavailable to someone with poor boundaries, no tolerance of ambiguity, and no sense of a personal center." by David Richo Mentioned:   Podcast: ERP 195: 5 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF LOVE ERP 036: HOW TO OFFER THE GIFT OF LISTENING ERP 089: HOW TO USE LOVE LANGUAGES TO STRENGTHEN CONNECTION ERP 090: HOW TO USE LOVE LANGUAGES TO STRENGTHEN CONNECTION – PART TWO Website: David Richo's website Book: How To Be An Adult In Relationships - Five Keys to Mindful Living, by David Richo   Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins:   Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship  Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins  Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts  Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation  LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins  Twitter: @DrJessHiggins  Website: drjessicahiggins.com   Email: jessica@drjessicahiggins.com   If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.  Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship.  Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here.  Thank you!   If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me.   
All too often we get stuck in disconnect patterns when painful emotions arise in relationship. Most of the time, we don't even know we are hurting because we are only aware of our reactions...anger, frustration, criticism etc. When we lead with our reactions, our partner doesn't see our pain, and does not know how to help. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.)  In this episode, Dr. Jessica Higgins discusses:  What would happen if we freeze framed the moment right before we react to our partner? What would we learn? How we often don't have a road map for how to be with our difficult emotions.    The strategies we develop to cope with painful emotions in relationship.  The purpose of emotion. What happens when we name painful emotions.  The groundwork for empathy in relationship.  "Emotion is actually nature's exquisitely efficient information-processing and signaling system..." by Dr. Susan Johnson Mentioned:   Shifting Criticism into Connected Communication - Free Guide Podcast: ERP 189: HOW BEING “SELFISH” MAY BE THE BEST THING YOU DO FOR YOUR RELATIONSHIP – AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. LAURA DABNEY ERP 194: HOW TO ALCHEMIZE YOUR TRIGGERS INTO INSIGHT – AN INTERVIEW WITH TOBIN ZIVON Book: Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships, by Dr. Susan Johnson   Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins:   Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship  Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins  Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts  Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation  LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins  Twitter: @DrJessHiggins  Website: drjessicahiggins.com   Email: jessica@drjessicahiggins.com   If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.  Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship.  Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here.  Thank you!   If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me.   
About Larry Bilotta: Married over 45 years in an age of divorce, Larry Bilotta is an authority on understanding people, marriage and relationships.   Larry lived 27 years in a marriage made in Hell, but in the 28th year, fell in love…with his wife! As one of the few marriage experts who actually transformed his OWN marriage, today, Larry holds the key to bringing a marriage back from the brink of divorce - even AFTER the papers have been filed.     (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.)     In this episode, Larry Bilotta and Dr. Jessica Higgins discuss:  The hidden danger of becoming your parents.  The conflict couples experience with old programs and the stories we tell ourselves.  The destructive nature of the ego, that little voice inside your head.  The importance of learning from pain rather than running away from it.  Four steps of working with “against energy.”  The importance of becoming the “Leader of Minds.”     "The sloppy start up period is not long if you are clear on your mission." —  Larry Bilotta      Mentioned:   Twitter: @LarryBilotta  Facebook: Larry Bilotta  Website: YouCanSaveThisMarriage.com & ItOnlyTakesOneMan.com & ItOnlyTakesOneWoman.com  YouTube: Larry Bilotta  Chaos to Purpose Scale  Marriage Tornado  How to Experience More Love in your Relationship with Byron Katie        Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins:   Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship  Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins  Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts  Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation  LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins  Twitter: @DrJessHiggins  Website: drjessicahiggins.com   Email: jessica@drjessicahiggins.com      If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.     Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship.     Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here.     Thank you!      If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me. 
TOPIC: STEPS TO REBUILDING TRUST IN A RELATIONSHIP LISTENER’S QUESTION “Thank you for the work you do on your podcast, it has helped me greatly in a hard relationship time. My fiancé and I were supposed to get married on June 28th. Three weeks before the wedding he met me at the courthouse to get our marriage certificate and told me that he couldn’t go through with it. This came as a complete shock as our relationship had been healthy, with some minor disagreements during the planning phase of the wedding, but I had no doubts. We live in Minnesota, where he is from, and my whole family and my friends were scheduled to fly from Washington state to MN, which made this especially painful. We are in counseling now, and seeing if we can work this out, but I’m not sure if I can/want to get over this huge betrayal. Any advice you have on repair/healing relationship trauma of this nature would be so appreciated. He is here and wants to work on things, but I don’t know if I have the strength to get over it, or that I could ever truly trust him again.” Jenny Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear stories, explanations, and examples. Understandably, you are going through heartbreak and loss. I encourage you to check out the episodes on Grief (see links below) to get more support. It sounds like you have many questions you are grappling with…like, what is next? How do you move forward from this? Should you trust him again? Is he the right person? My biggest encouragement to you is to make a commitment to not engage in this dynamic again. As painful as it is, there is learning in this experience. TAKE AN HONEST LOOK Reevaluate and identify what happened. Look at the underlying aspects. What was your part? Recognize your patterns. What is the learning in this and what is being revealed to you? What are your highest priorities and values in relationship? Were you invested in them? Did you have any blind spots or things you didn’t want to acknowledge? Did you and your fiancé build trust together (did you have clear agreements, boundaries, communication, etc)? FIND YOUR GROUND Go slow. Take your time and be gentle with yourself. Focus on building a solid foundation. Affirm your strengths, lovability, and worth. Acknowledge your experience and process. Be with your feelings and be with yourself. Focus on developing a secure connection. Get clear on what you believe in. FOCUS ON YOUR PART You can’t do his work for him. You can’t control him. Let him be responsible for his experience and his part. Accept what is. Ask yourself is this in alignment with what I want? Check out the Forgiveness episodes. BE AVAILABLE FOR SOMETHING GREATER Recognize if things feel similar or if things feel different. Is his approach different? Is his energy different? Don’t engage in the old patterns and old behavior. Be committed to your practice and your work. Be willing to engage differently. Talk honestly about what happened and be willing to learn. TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 153: HOW TO REPAIR A BREACH OF TRUST IN RELATIONSHIP [TRANSCRIPT] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please reach out to me. Here is my contact information. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Learning the steps to rebuilding trust in a relationship takes time and self-evaluation and more patience to go through the process. I would really appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here.
In this episode, Dr. Jessica Higgins and Dr. Scott Woolley discuss:   Understanding the motivating factors of an affair and trusting it won’t happen again.  The internal working models of attachment about who we are, who other people are, and how we relate to them.  The destructive impacts of taking revenge, public shaming, and waiting to make significant decisions.     Key Takeaways:   The three motivating factors for affairs are a reaction to what’s going on or an attempt to change the relationship; protest or revenge; and relationship burnout.  When talking to your partner about their pain and you are expressing genuine remorse over the suffering they are experiencing, you are with them at a fundamental level, and that starts the healing process.  If people want to go through the process to save their relationship, it’s possible, but it will take a lot of dedicated time and work for both partners, but it can be accomplished.       "Don’t give up on healing your relationship; it’s possible that your relationship can be better than it has ever been." - Scott Woolley       If you have a topic you would like me to discuss; please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.  Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!       If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me.      Connect with Dr. Scott Woolley:   Website:   www.drscottwoolley.com     Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins:   Facebook: facebook.com/EmpoweredRelationship  Instagram: instagram.com/drjessicahiggins  Podcast: drjessicahiggins.com/podcasts  Pinterest: pinterest.com/EmpowerRelation  LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/drjessicahiggins  Twitter: @DrJessHiggins  Website: drjessicahiggins.com   Email: jessica@drjessicahiggins.com      Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You're the expert. Your podcast will prove it.     
The demands of modern life keep us busy and pulled in many directions. It is easy to get swept away with schedules and tasks. We hope to be more productive and accomplish more. However, we sometimes expect too much of ourselves and our relationships. To make matters worse, we often fall into the trap of thinking our relationships are self-sustaining. We believe that a good relationship just works and is easy. However, like with most things, relationships do not grow and flourish with little care and attention. Additionally, when we are presented with a difficultly or challenge, we often try to avoid the pain. Yet, there can be tremendous value in learning to turn towards the pain and be with it. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.) In this episode, I am going to give you a little more description of mindfulness. Description of mindfulness: “Mindfulness is a mental state, which is achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while very calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” by Lode Dewulf   Without focus, we are prone to going into autopilot, negative habitual thinking, distraction, and preoccupation. Mindfulness involves redirecting your focus and attention over and over again. At first, it will feel impossible. Jon Kabat Zinn calls it the monkey mind (see below). The goal with mindfulness is to train your mind. Jon Kabat-Zinn says mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment on purpose and without judgment. Mindfulness helps you experience your life more fully as it is happening, in each moment. You become more present, engaged and connected to what is happening. Mindfulness is a skill we can acquire. Mindfulness is always available Mindfulness is a way to calm ourselves down when distressed. Mindfulness increases our awareness of what we are experiencing and the space to decide how we want to act in any given situation. In the next episode, I will share How To Increase Relationship Satisfaction with Mindfulness. Stay tuned MENTIONED: ERP 140: How Pain and Suffering Increase & What to Do about It (podcast) ERP 141: How To Decrease Relationship Pain and Suffering (podcast) The Value in Pain and the Pain in Value, by Lode Dewulf (TED Talk) Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn (video) Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important (book)
Dr. Hendrix is a couple’s therapist with over 40 years experience as an educator, clinical trainer and lecturer whose work has been on Oprah 18 times. In addition to Dr. Hunt’s partnership with her husband in the co-creation of Imago, she is sole author of Faith and Feminism. She was installed in the Women’s Hall of Fame for her leadership in the global women’s movement. Helen and Harville have been married for over 30 years, have six children, and reside in Dallas, Texas. LISTEN TO THE EPISODE TO LEARN ABOUT: Why we fall in love and what happens in the partnering process. What drives us and compels us towards particular people. What is going on in the brain when we partner in a love relationship. How childhood experiences impact our relational needs. “Your unconscious mind is experiencing and connecting with a person in adulthood who is similar to the caretakers you had in childhood, and that activates the hope and possibility that you will get those needs met.” • How couples can shift their relationship dynamics. • When there is conflict how to understand what unconscious patterns might be involved, and a valuable tool to help identify and assist in shifting these unconscious patterns.“The formula embedded in your frustration with your partner is a wish in disguise, in that it is an unexpressed desire.” • How to engage in a dialogue process with your partner to increase understanding, empathy, and connection. • What the term Zero Negativity means. • Why negativity is one of the worst things you can do in relationship.“The primary commitment is to reconnect as quickly as possible so our brains don’t become habituated to a disconnected state.” • Important advice about what is most important to making relationships successful. MENTIONED: • The Space Between: The Point of Connection  (book) • Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition  (book) • Making Marriage Simple: Ten Relationship-Saving Truths  (book) • Harville & Helen (website) • Relationships First (website) • The Gottman Institute (website) • Dr. Sue Johnson (website) • Dr. Dan Siegel (website) • Dr. Stephen Porges (website) TRANSCRIPT:Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 138: The Most Critical Ingredient For Relationship Success, With Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt [TRANSCRIPT] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or doing relationship coaching work with me.
LASER COACHING SESSION In this episode, I offer feedback to a listener who wants to deepen the level of commitment in his relationship, but is worried about coming on too strong and scaring her off. He is also afraid of getting rejected. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear the conversation and examples to describe these points.) TIPS TO CONSIDER: State your desire as openly and honestly as possible. Practice safe vulnerability. Take care of yourself. Look for an opportunity for mutual engagement. Give space for your partner’s authentic experience. Honor your values and relationship goals. Excerpt from The Gottman Institute: “If you suffer a physical injury, would you wait weeks or even years before seeing a doctor? Probably not, because you know that a doctor can assess what’s wrong and treat it before things gets worse. Unfortunately, most couples don’t think of emotional injuries in the same way. The average couple waits six years before seeking help, and by that point it can too late. The good news is that, according to the research, prevention is 3x more effective than intervention.” To get support and invest in the strength and health of your relationship, check out the Connected Couple program. MENTIONED: The Gottman Institute (website) Photo by Gerome Viavant on Unsplash TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 133: How to confront the commitment conversation when you are afraid of rejection [Transcript] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please reach out to me. Here is my contact information. I would really appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.
If you missed part one, you can check it out here ERP 142, where I give you explanations and examples of mindfulness and how you may already be practicing mindfulness in your life. With a better understanding of mindfulness in general, let’s talk about how mindfulness benefits our relationship. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.) HOW MINDFULNESS BENEFITS RELATIONSHIPS. Research is beginning to show us that higher levels of mindfulness contribute to happier, more satisfying relationships. Generally, mindfulness helps us: Keeps Things Fresh: You are less likely to take each other for granted or be caught up in your stories and expectations. You are more likely to recognize the growth and newness in your partner. You are more likely to appreciate and value your partner because you are more in the moment and paying quality attention to them. Soothes Fears and Anxieties: While being in relationship provides love and connection, it can also stimulate anxieties and insecurities. Fears of being hurt will make us more reactive and protective. Unfortunately, these reactive and protective strategies push our partner away, and lead to more pain, conflict, and disconnect. Mindfulness is a valuable tool for dealing with our fears and reactions. Learning to deal with our insecurities is probably one of the most important skills in keeping a relationship healthy and happy. 7 WAYS MINDFULNESS BENEFITS YOU AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP. 1. More Attentive With mindfulness practice, we strengthen the area in our brains associated with attention and focus. When practicing mindfulness, we can recognize when we have spaced out, started thinking about something else and come back to our partner. For partner’s whose primary love language is “quality time,” attention and focus are the ultimate ways of feeling loved and cared about. When a partner is distracted and preoccupied, they may feel as though “You don’t really care. You don’t really love me.” Regardless of your partner’s primary love language, being present and engaged helps create a safe space for your partner to share and express more fully, which it turn cultivates a deeper sense of understanding, intimacy, and connection. 2. Able to respond Rather Than React. When practicing mindfulness, we develop our capacity for increased emotional regulation. In previous podcast episodes, I have talked about how easily our “fight, flight, or freeze” mode can get activated when we feel threatened. When we are in a triggered place, it is very difficult if not impossible to respond in a level and skillful way. Research shows that with mindfulness, we are able to decrease the volume of the amygdala. The switch to our “flight, flight or freeze” response is not as easily flipped. The amygdala has less power to hijack us. Being able to respond rather than react helps partners slow down, take pause and assess the situation before jumping to conclusions. Once we have calmed down, we can communicate more clearly and from the heart, rather than reacting and getting into negative cycles or destructive behavior. 3. More Emotionally Regulated Mindfulness strengthens the prefrontal cortex and improves the connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is responsible for higher level thinking, perceiving other’s emotions, decision-making, moderating our behavior and regulating our own emotional expression. These are all critical brain functions to being able to relate to someone else effectively. One of the primary goals of keeping yourself regulated (calm and collected) is to stay in the prefrontal cortex. As soon as your amygdala is firing away, you are in protection mode. How Mindfulness Can Save Your Relationship By Lisa Firestone “A typical conversation between a couple may involve one partner remarking, “You used to be up for anything. You were so lively when we met.” This may spark a defensive response in the other partner: “What? You’re saying I’m not spontaneous anymore? You think I’m boring? What about you? You never get off the couch!” This type of angry and accusatory response tends to have a snowball effect. “I never said you were boring, and now you’re calling me lazy? I work day and night to make you happy. You’re so ungrateful.” By Lisa Firestone Without mindfulness, one is likely to have a short fuse and respond in defended demeanor (i.e. “What is wrong with you?”). With mindfulness, one is likely to recognize something is going on and be more sensitive. (i.e. “Honey, I see you. Do you want to talk about it?”) Imagine a scenario where your partner has done or said something that you find alarming or challenging. You feel triggered. You feel your emotions rising to the surface. You are at a choice point. You can react or take a few moments to notice your thoughts and emotions. As you stay present to noticing your experience (without getting caught up in your story or emotional reaction), you may begin to gain some perspective and emotional balance. Then, you can address the situation from a more regulated way rather than just reacting in a defensive and protective manner. Stay tuned for the next episode for the next four Ways Mindfulness Can Benefit You and Your Relationship. MENTIONED: ERP 142: How to Increase Relationship Satisfaction with Mindfulness (podcast) ERP 140: How Pain and Suffering Increase & What to Do about It (podcast) ERP 141: How To Decrease Relationship Pain and Suffering (podcast) The Value in Pain and the Pain in Value, by Lode Dewulf (TED Talk) Journal of Human Sciences and Extension  (journal article) Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn (video) Meditation Is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why It Is So Important (book) Photo by Bruno Aguirre on Unsplash TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or doing relationship coaching work with me.
In this episode, you will hear me share a personal story of dealing with continual roadblocks. I also offer 4 tips on how to deal with the experience of things not working out as planned. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear more explanations, stories and examples.) HOW TO DEAL WITH THINGS NOT WORKING OUT 1. Understand that experiencing hardship is a normal part of living. There is nothing wrong with you. 2. Surrender the need to control the process. Accept the reality of what you are going through. The more we resist pain the more suffering we experience. Sometimes we need a breakdown to have a breakthrough. 3. Be present with what you are feeling. This is so hard when things are not going well. You may need time to reflect and connect with what you are feeling. You may need a good cry or an empathic ear from a trusted person. Take time to feel what is real. 4. Listen and be receptive. You may get a new insight or new perspective that feels like an opening to something new. Be open to your intuition, inner wisdom and guidance. “The turning point at the crest is when you reach the most materialistic, extroverted view of life, when materialization is complete and we feel ‘high’ and successful. In physics terms, the wave has become a particle. The most challenging time may be when the wave turns at the trough – when you’re bored, feel things fading, need space, and must release meaning and what’s outmoded in order to return to Being. In studying physics, this is where the particle becomes the wave. Moving from the trough to crest seems like the fun part because it involves enthusiasm, motivation, and achieving goals. But releasing old forms, relaxing, dreaming of multiple imaginary realities, and rejuvenating ourselves are every bit as pleasurable. Chronic resistance to the turning points of wave can cause exaggerated dramatic shifts, such as crises and traumas.” By Penney Peirce MENTIONED: How To Build A Happy, Lasting Love – Webinar (webinar link) What To Do When Nothing Is Working Out By Ruth Lera (article) Frequency: The Power of Personal Vibration By Penney Peirce (book) Agape (website) Mary Morrissey (website) Glenwood Hot Springs (website) TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 102: What Do You Do When NOTHING Is Working Out? [Transcript] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.
In the Empowered Relationship Podcast episode 110: How To Manage Two Majorly Conflicting Needs In Relationship, I talked about we often get caught in the belief that being in relationship requires us to give over of ourselves in an attempt to seek relationship harmony. Yet, when we do this, we can lose touch with ourselves, our passion, and our desires. David Schnarch in Passionate Marriage talks about “Emotionally fused couples.” He explains that they “are controlled by their connection. They have lost their ability to direct themselves and so get swept up in how people around them are feeling. There’s room for only one opinion, one position, differentiation is the ability to stay in connection without being consumed by the other person. Our urge for togetherness and our capacity to care always drive us to seek connection, but true interdependence requires emotionally distinct people.”   In episode 110, I talked about the importance of holding priority for both needs…autonomy and intimacy in relationship. Yet, we typically do not have a model of how to grow ourselves (autonomy) while growing in relationship (intimacy). Intellectually, we may understand that both needs are important…the need for autonomy and the need for intimacy. But in practice, we struggle balancing these two seemly conflictual needs. Though, the struggle is part of our development. The process of growing, maturing, and evolving us. In episode 110, I also talked about two different approaches in the field of couples work. One is to help the individual become more differentiated. “Differentiation is the process by which we become more uniquely ourselves by maintaining ourselves in relationship with those we love.” By David Schnarch in Passionate Marriage. Through the process of self validation “that’s when you don’t expect your partner to validate or accept what you disclose. You validate yourself as you show your partner who you really are.”  By David Schnarch in Passionate Marriage  The other is to help couples create a more secure emotional connection, so that they can feel more trust, care, and safety within their partnership. This safety allows for more vulnerability and authentic sharing, which in turn creates more connection. The main difference between these approaches is the need for safety in the relationship dynamic. One approach focuses on self-soothing and self-validating, so that a partner can express himself/herself more authentically and vulnerability. This in turn cultivates more passion and connection. While the other approach focuses on creating safety between partners to allow for more vulnerable sharing, which in turn creates more intimacy and connection. Through my dissertation research, I speculated that it may be important to first create a solid, safe foundation in relationship to then take more risks of self-expression and self-validating. While these two approaches are different in their focus, they have several similar aspects. Let’s address the desire to feel seen, understood and validated. We all want to feel accepted, loved, and valued for who we truly are. Yet, the path of seeking validation can be fraught with great difficulty. “We’re driven by something that makes us look like we crave intimacy, but in fact we’re after something else: we want someone else to make us feel acceptable and worthwhile….Once we realize that intimacy is not always soothing and often makes us feel insecure, it is clear why we back way from it.”  By David Schnarch in Passionate Marriage It may be important to note there is a subtle difference between the intention to seek intimacy verses to seek validation. Seeking validation is more about approval and okayness. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear more explanations, stories and examples.) IS IT OKAY TO WANT VALIDATION FROM YOUR PARTNER? If you do not know you are worthy and acceptable, it may be incredibly healing to have your partner remind you of your goodness. AND are you continuously relying on your partner’s validation to source your self-esteem? Or are you doing your inner work to grow yourself? To answer the question “Is it okay to want validation from your partner?,” it may be important to look at a few aspects within yourself first. These questions address HOW you are going about seeking validation and seeking intimacy: Are you wanting your partner to be responsible for your experience? (“You didn’t agree with me. I feel small and inadequate. It is your fault that I feel insecure. Can you see how you made me feel low?”) Or are you clear that you are seeking validation? (“I am feeling a lot of self-doubt. Can you help me? Would you be willing to point out some strengths that I might be overlooking about myself or the situation? (ownership) Are you willing to look at your discomfort and pain to have greater understanding of what your issue is about? Asking yourself what gets brought up in you in this situation, may help you see with is going on at the core. If you do not look within, you are likely going to miss a great opportunity to learn something powerful about yourself and you will probably project on your partner. And your partner will not have an opportunity to really be with you and connect with what is real within you. (vulnerability) Are you willing to let your partner really see you fully? Usually, we want our partner to look at what they did wrong to hurt or offend us. It is a much more vulnerable thing to look at why this is a tender spot for you or what insecurity it brings up in you, AND then to share it with your partner. (transparency) “Well-differentiated people can agree without feeling like they’re “losing themselves,” and can disagree without feeling alienated and embittered, They can stay connected with people who disagree with them and still “know who they are.” They don’t have to leave the situation to hold onto their sense of self.” By David Schnarch in Passionate Marriage 4 KEYS TO SEEKING VALIDATION AND INTIMACY: 1. Safety 2. Ownership (Responsibility) 3. Vulnerability (authenticity) “Vulnerability here does not mean the act of being weak or submissive. To the contrary, it implies the courage to be yourself. It involves uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. And that is why it might seem scary.”  By Emma Seppälä in Why Being Vulnerable Is The Key To Intimacy  4. Transparency: “The truth is that when we allow ourselves to be completely open and vulnerable, we benefit, our relationships improve, and we may even become more attractive. “We are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth,” says Brown. “We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect.” Why do we love children so much? Why are we drawn to people who act themselves? Because we feel an intrinsic comfort in the presence of authenticity. Moreover, someone who is real and vulnerable gives us the space and permission to be the same.” By Emma Seppälä in Why Being Vulnerable Is The Key To Intimacy  PRACTICE STEP: How can you would will one of the 4 Keys this week (safety, ownership, vulnerability, transparency? MENTIONED: Passionate Marriage (book) Brené Brown (website) Why Being Vulnerable Is The Key To Intimacy By Emma Seppälä  What Does The Development Of Intimacy Look Like In Relationship? (article) Photo by Zoran Zonde Stojanovski on Unsplash TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 111: Is It Okay To Want Validation From Your Partner? [Transcript] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.
GUEST: LISA FIRESTONE, PHD Lisa Firestone, PhD is Director of Research and Education with the Glendon Association. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters and co-author of Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice and Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion: the Wisdom of Psychotherapy, most recently Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships (APA books) Dr Firestone is a practicing clinical psychologist. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.) Dr. Lisa Firestone wrote In a Relationship with a Narcissist? What You Need to Know About Narcissistic Relationships. I highly recommend reading it, if you have concerns about narcissism in your relationship.   LISTEN TO THE EPISODE TO LEARN ABOUT: Narcissism: Narcissistic traits and tendencies. Types of narcissism. The flip side of narcissism. How narcissism is often taught by a narcissist parent. How attachment plays a role. All or nothing thinking and narcissism. “It is important for the partner with narcissistic traits to begin to recognize, they don’t have to be special to deserve love, attention, and care.” Dr. Lisa Firestone How does narcissism negatively impact relationship: The relationship development and process (the beginning of the relationship versus the more established relationship) What the relationship dynamic typically looks like with a partner with narcissistic traits. The role of projection in relationship. How to work with the inner critical voice, and the importance of a realistic and compassionate voice. How to deal with a narcissistic partner: Identify your needs and wants proactively and specifically. Work with your anger. Recognize when your anger has significant charge, and possibly ask the question “What about this situation activates so much anger in me?” Be willing to address and confront your partner with the intention to develop more understanding and cooperation. “You have a lot of power to change your relationship, but you have zero power to change your partner”. Dr. Lisa Firestone How to improve the relationship dynamic, when narcissism is at play: Recognize problematic relationship dynamics (it may be important to get support from a trained professional to assist in this process). Explore deeper fears, needs, and longings together (it may be important to get support from a trained professional to assist in this process). Promote and develop empathy together (it may be important to get support from a trained professional to assist in this process).   MENTIONED: In a Relationship with a Narcissist? What You Need to Know About Narcissistic Relationships, by Dr. Lisa Firestone PsychAlive (to Dr. Lisa Firestone’s programs and courses) Adult attachment Interview (research article) Self Under Siege (book) Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice (book) Sex And Love In Intimate Relationships (book)   TRANSCRIPT:   Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode:  If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Connected Couple Program or engaging in relationship coaching work with me.
In ERP 125: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love – Part One, I talked about the article, titled “Masters Of Love,” by Emily Esfahani Smith The article talked about the key to lasting relationships comes down to kindness and generosity. Based on the research of Gottman and others, “kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.” (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.) If you are interested in practicing more kindness in your relationship to strengthen your love, download this free pdf. The goal is to choose one kindness action or gesture a day for 25 days.    25 TIPS FOR BUILDING KINDNESS (6-10) 6. CELEBRATE WINS. When you experience success, an accomplishment or something good, who do you share it with? Are you and your partner able to celebrate the joy and excitement of good news together? There is something called the “winner’s effect.” When we experience a win of some sort, we get a release of dopamine and testosterone. Dopamine is one of the feel good neurochemicals. The beginning stages of love, romance, and desire are fueled by dopamine along with other neurochemicals like oxytocin. When we experience a win, positive changes are happening within our chemical makeup and brain structure. We will typically feel more confident, quick witted, and more courageous. Cognitive neuroscientist Ian Robertson explains “Winning increases the dopamine receptors in the brain, which makes you smarter and more bold.” Sharing these pivotal moments are critical for relationship quality and connection and can be very damaging when they are not shared and celebrated together. In a psychological study, Will You Be There For Me When Things Go Right, by Shelly Gable and her colleagues, couples were asked to discuss recent positive events from their lives. The purpose of the study was to observe how partners would respond to each other’s good news. They found that, in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways: passive destructive, active destructive, passive constructive, and active constructive. The most common response is a passive constructive one, like “That’s nice,” or “Congratulations.” Sometimes couples will receive passive destructive responses such as a flat response or being ignored when sharing good news. On rare occasions, a critical, or active destructive response is given. In the article, Why You and Your Partner Need to Celebrate Each Other by Linda and Charlie Bloom, they write “What truly enlivens a relationship, though, is an active constructive response, when the person who hears about our success is sincerely happy for us. An active constructive response shows generosity of spirit and eagerness to hear more about the good news. Celebrating triumphs in life, from small, seemingly trivial ones to those that are more significant, strengthens the bond between two people. Being genuinely enthusiastic in responding to a partner’s good fortune can have a positive impact on them.” “The genuineness and frequency of active positive responses are essential to the development of healthy relationships….When we celebrate each other’s accomplishments, we thrive. We are more likely to be securely bonded to each other, satisfied with our relationship, and enjoy greater love and happiness” by Linda and Charlie Bloom.  7. EXPRESS AFFECTION. A few days ago, I was meeting with a couple I have been working with for a couple of months. Unfortunately, they are working through some pretty big disconnect. One of the areas where they have experienced a divide is in the way they express and receive love. Stylistically, she is more reflective and introspective, and he is more active and energetic. She was describing a longing to feel his embodied touch and presence. He had no idea what she was talking about. When you touch your partner, are you present to the moment? Are you focused on the shared connection or are you touching your partner out of habit and routine? Do you initiate physical contact with your significant other at all? Do you hug, hold hands, kiss? The other day, my husband wasn’t feeling well. Often times, my first attempt to connect with him is verbal. When he doesn’t engage, I will slow down and try to feel with him. In a more embodied way, I gentle rubbed his lower back, and he opened up to me about where he felt pain and discomfort. Kind touch reduces stress and tension, and it conversely facilitates more connection and warmth. We are rarely encouraged to give affection and kind touch. It can be easy to forget. Gently touch your partner to let them know you care. High five to celebrate a win. Embrace after a long day. Give a hand or foot massage. Look at your partner with kind eyes. Smile at them. For some people, being touched with kindness gives them the experience of feeling loved. What ways can you use touch to convey your care and affection to your partner? 8. GIVE YOUR PARTNER THOUGHT. Most of us will focus on and pay attention to what we are experiencing in any given moment. It takes a mental leap to put ourselves in our partner’s perspective and think about what they would enjoy. When someone puts energy and thought into considering what we would like, we feel special and cared about. When people describe meaningful acts of care from their partner, they often talk about the little things. Small acts of kindness are powerful ways to increase the positivity in your relationship. Remembering what your partner has been up to and asking about how it is going. Bringing up a topic that is important to your partner. Doing something extra to help them feel your support and love. If you partner is having a bad day, maybe pick-up something that they will enjoy. Being willing to focus on and give attention to your partner’s interests demonstrates your care and that they matter and are important to you. Demonstrate consideration by doing things that are meaningful to them, like: Being on time. Doing the dishes. Sticking to the budget. Although these small gestures of kindness and thought can seem insignificant, they provide positive signals that your partner is valued and the relationship is important. Heat up the water for tea. Get a blanket. Get bags out for trip. Buy their favorite beverage. Make their favorite dinner. Small gestures over time accumulate to strengthen your love and connection as a couple. 9. TREAT YOUR PARTNER WITH MANNERS. Dr. Fred Luskin, ‘Why is it that we treat others with more civility than we do our partners?” For example, have you ever been in an ugly argument with your significant other, and then in the next moment picked up the phone to answer a call with politeness? In the beginning stages of love, we tend to take extra care with our manners and grooming. We want to be polite and pleasant to be around. Whereas over time, we can get comfortable, perhaps too comfortable, and lose consideration and manners. Eat with your mouth open. Farting. Interrupting. Complaining. Not being thoughtful about what you say. Relating to your partner with good manners expresses care, consideration, and appreciation. Please. Thank you. Excuse me. Often times, couples will get into small arguments because they feel slighted or disrespected. Being considerate as a couple, shows that you maintain respect for each other. In that we do not take each other for granted, and we appreciate and value one another. Would you be willing? What do you think? Would you be okay if..? Finally, treating your partner with good manners promotes good will and positivity. 10. BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. One way to practice kindness is by giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, when it trying to decipher your partner’s intentions. Many times in relationship, we will perceive our partner’s actions and not have enough information to full understand why they did or didn’t do what they did. John Gottman explains from his research that “disasters” see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. Whereas “masters” will anticipate that there is a good reason for their partner’s actions, even if it doesn’t appear to make sense at the time. Yes, it may be difficult to suspend judgment when your partner does something off-putting. However, not jumping to conclusions and not assuming the worst will save a lot of heartache and drama. If you notice that you sometimes think negatively about your partner’s actions, try being generous when speculating about your partner’s intentions. Most likely, if you took the time to understand what was behind their actions or behavior, it would make sense. Most often, your partner means well, even if their delivery is subpar at times. If you are interested in practicing more kindness in your relationship to strengthen your love, download this free pdf. The goal is to choose one kindness action or gesture a day for 25 days.    Stay tuned for the next several tips for building kindness in the upcoming podcast episode. Until then, check out the Connected Couple program to develop happy, lasting love: MENTIONED: ERP 125: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love (podcast) ERP 123: Forgive For Love With Dr. Fred Luskin (podcast) Masters Of Love by Emily Esfahani Smith (article) Why You and Your Partner Need to Celebrate Each Other by Linda and Charlie Bloom (article) Will You Be There For Me When Things Go Right by Gable et al. (research article) TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 128: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love – Part Two [Transcript] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please reach out to me. Here is my contact information. I would really appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.
A long while back I remember this article from The Atlantic circulating on social media, titled “Masters of Love,” by Emily Esfahani Smith. One of the main points of the article is the key to lasting relationships is kindness and generosity. Based on the research of Gottman and others, “kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.” When kindness is expressed in relationship, couples feel more care, consideration, love, and understanding. Kindness contributes to an overall feeling of goodwill and positivity. Partners are inspired and motivated to continue the pattern, which results in a positive cycle of love and generosity. “There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work” by Emily EsfahaniI Smith. As positive emotions increase, so does the relationship satisfaction and fulfillment. This episode will give you some ideas on how to cultivate more kindness and generosity in your relationship. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories and examples.) 5 TIPS FOR BUILDING KINDNESS 1. DO A LOVING KINDNESS MEDITATION. As I talked about last week, if we can set a positive tone, it can dramatically affect our interactions in a beneficial way. By doing a short loving-kindness meditation, it can generate boundless feelings of warmth and tenderness. Excerpt from the Metta Meditation by Metta Institute “To practice loving-kindness meditation, sit in a comfortable and relaxed manner. Take two or three deep breaths with slow, long and complete exhalations. Let go of any concerns or preoccupations. For a few minutes, feel or imagine the breath moving through the center of your chest – in the area of your heart. Metta is first practiced toward oneself, since we often have difficulty loving others without first loving ourselves. Sitting quietly, mentally repeat, slowly and steadily, the following or similar phrases: May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease. After a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, bring to mind a friend or someone in your life who has deeply cared for you. Then slowly repeat phrases of loving-kindness toward them: May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease. As you say these phrases, again sink into their intention or heartfelt meaning. And, if any feelings of loving-kindness arise, connect the feelings with the phrases so that the feelings may become stronger as you repeat the words.” Here are a few additional resources: A Meditation on Lovingkindness by Jack Kornfield (article) Guided Meditation – “Loving Kindness” by Tara Brach (audio) Loving Kindness Meditation, by Great Good In Action (article & audio) 2. BE A PERSON OF INCREASE. Being a person of increase is adding good in some way to the interaction or situation. The idea here is to add positivity and generate a sense of good will. Consider how you and your partner’s life can be improved. Offer affirmation and encouragement. Send a thoughtful or supportive text. “You are doing great. Keep up the great work. I am so proud of the work you are doing.” Let your partner know you are thinking about them (leave them a voice mail, send them an email or a text). Look for a way to help. Contribute in some way. Be of service. Do something nice out of the ordinary. Ask them how how their learning is going. Watch a game of theirs. Ask them to share/show their latest progress. 3. GIVE UNSOLICITED ATTENTION & INTEREST. People feel important when they have your attention and focus. We are all so busy, and most us feel as though time is extremely valuable. When someone feels they are the priority, it can help them feel significant, important, and like they matter. Do you show your partner non-verbally that you are listening, interested, and curious? Open posture, giving good eye contact, and nodding are all signs that show you are deeply listening. Do you get curious about their life and what they experienced during the day? Do you take the time to think about it and deeply listen? Do you give them the space to talk about what they want? Showing that you are available and present without an agenda. When your partner has a complaint, do you take the time to listen? Do ask them to share more, so that you can understand them more fully? Do you spend time with them? To just be? Keep them company with a chore. Go for an errand with them. Simply sit next to them. Do you express interest in something that is important to them? Like a project, hobby or sport. Ask them how their learning is going. Watch a game of theirs. Ask them to share/show their latest progress. 4. SPEAK POSITIVELY ABOUT YOUR PARTNER. Giving your partner a authentic compliment can really brighten their day. On the contrary, let’s say a couple is getting ready to go out on a double date with some friends. The couple finishes getting ready and meets at the front door. They look at each other and say “Are you ready?” Not acknowledging each others efforts to look nice. They make their way to meet their friends at a restaurant. Upon arriving they greet their friends with hellos and hugs. The husband says to the other woman, “You look nice.” The wife hears this and feels a little bad. I have heard this complaint several times before from both genders. In parenting advice, it is recommended to acknowledge your child’s strengths and success when talking to others, when they are listening. Not to brag or say something disingenuous, but to focus on some of their positives. It is how you represent them, what you choose to focus on, and highlight. Imagine, if were young and you had made some great progress with soccer, math, and science. And you overheard your mom talking to the neighbor. In response to the neighbor asking about you, she says “Good, but you could be doing a better job keeping your room more tidy.” You may feel bad, a little misunderstood and as though your positive qualities are not being recognized and given credit. This is one of the most common objections that I get in my sessions with couples and families is how someone unfairly characterises them. We all want to feel loved, appreciated, and valued by others. When someone fairly and accurately acknowledges your efforts, it can feel really nice. You may feel a sense of recognition and that your positive strides count and make a difference. You may feel valued and an increase in self-esteem. Pay attention to how you talk about your partner to others. Do you complain or point out their flaws? When you are with them, do you feel competitive about earning the approval of others? A few weeks ago, we had a couple over for dinner. In the midst of the conversation, my husband spoke very complimentary about my efforts and what I created for a previous event we put together for family and friends. It felt really good to hear his expression of appreciation. I felt a warmth and closeness towards him. 5. BE PLAYFUL. As adults, it is amazing to me how we forget to play, be silly, and have fun. Whether it is a cultural expectation, we have gotten the impression that adults are to be practical, logical, and serious. With responsibilities and goals, we become driven and focused. Play and humor lighten the mood and allow for more joy and connection. When I was working on these show notes, I felt my appreciation for my husbands sense of humor. I love his ability to take me off guard with a clever joke. I love that he will get silly and laugh with me. He has told me in the past, making me laugh brings him a great sense of joy. Some of my favorite times are when my husband and I are laughing and being silly together. Are you available to play? Many, many years ago I took a workshop about the Art of Play. The instructor was amazing. One of the first things she did with us was to get us to think about our “willingness to play.” She brought up the example of when dogs want to play, they communicate it by a certain posture (i.e. front legs low (reading to pounce), tail wagging, looking in anticipation). She asked us to experiment with this quality of engagement. With this mindset shift, it was amazing to me how much more available I was to interact with others in a playful way. With this shift in attitude, you will laugh more easily at your partner’s jokes, and you will be more likely to find joy with them. The desire to play and have fun can also be a great form of flirtation. Stay tuned for the next several tips for building kindness in the upcoming podcast episode. Until then, check out the Connected Couple program to develop happy, lasting love:   MENTIONED: ERP 124: How To Improve The Climate Of Your Relationship (podcast) Masters Of Love by Emily Esfahani Smith (article) Metta Meditation by Metta Institute (article) A Meditation on Lovingkindness by Jack Kornfield (article) Guided Meditation – “Loving Kindness” by Tara Brach (audio) Loving Kindness Meditation, by Great Good In Action (article & audio) Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 125: How Kindness Can Strengthen Your Love [Transcript] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please reach out to me. Here is my contact information. I would really appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you!  If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.
LOVE LANGUAGES To learn more about Love Languages; a description of each Love Language, and how to determine you and your partner’s Love Language, check out the first part of this conversation on ERP 089. (Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear my stories and examples to describe these points.) CAN YOUR LOVE LANGUAGES CHANGE? Depending on your life circumstances, you may become more attracted to a different love language, and your love language may change. For example, let’s say your love language has been “words of affirmation.” Then, you become a new parent, and your desire for “acts of service” grows, thus making your new primary love language “acts of service.” Another example of a love language changing would be a husband looses his job and is feeling a lack of confidence and is feeling insecure. During this time, he may value “words of affirmation” more than his previous love language of “physical touch.” CRITICISMS OF THE LOVE LANGUAGES There are a few criticisms of the Love Language theory. Here are a few: They are too general and vague, and it doesn’t account for the psychology and complexities at play. The love languages are not based in academic or research-based findings. Gary Chapman is a Christian counselor and he brings his theology into the later portions of his book, which may be off-putting for some people. The Love Languages can be used to justify codependent tendencies. For example, you need your partner to provide love in a particular way and you view your partner as your only source of love. Another challenging dynamic is that of keeping tabs; “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine.” In this case, partner’s give with strings attached or with an expectation of reciprocation. The love languages can be a great tool to help you express love and care to your partner. If you truly understand their position and experience, then you will be more likely to want to help and support them to feel loved. HOW LOVE LANGUAGES CAN BE USED TO CREATE A POSITIVE CYCLE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP Giving and receiving love and affection in ways that matter most (ways that resonate deeply and authentically) will help nurture and strengthen your connection with your partner. Love languages can be used to lift each other up, especially when delivered with a positive attitude. Using your partner’s love language will help build a spirit of generosity within your relationship. Within a positive cycle, you and your partner will be more motivated to continuously help each other. You can communicate explicitly. For example, “I am wanting to help you feel cared about and special. Here is one way I am thinking about doing this… Would that work for you?” When you give even just a little in the way of your partner’s love language, it will go a long way for them. HOW LOVE LANGUAGES CONTRIBUTE TO NEGATIVE CYCLES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP When partner’s lack of awareness, understanding or interest in the love languages, it can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings. When love is not communicated (felt or received in a relationship), individuals can feel hurt, angry, and resentful. Love languages can be used to tear someone down (see examples below). Partner’s can unknowingly criticize each other’s love language, which can be even more painful (i.e. gifts are just materialistic). When partner’s experiences a lack of love in their language, or a rejection of their love language, they will often feel unimportant, unworthy, and unloved, Here are some examples: Words of affirmation: Harsh words or tone of voice can be particular painful for someone with this love language. Just as positive words will lift your partner up, negative comments will tear them down. Physical touch: Going long periods of time without physical connection could lead your partner to feeling unloved and discouraged. If you do not make any effort to reach out to touch them, they may feel hurt and unimportant to you. Inappropriate or hurtful touch, like poking, prodding in a antagonizing way will be more upsetting for someone with this love language. Act of Service: Not following through with something you said you were going to do will result to feelings of hurt, disappointment, and upset. They will most likely feel as though you don’t really care when it comes down to it, especially when they hear words and see no action. Quality time: When one partner is frequently distracted or preoccupied, their partner can feel as though they don’t matter. They may have thoughts like “their phone is more important than I am. Or cleaning the house is more of a priority than I am.” In times of distress, ignoring or stonewalling can be immensely painful for someone with this love language. Gifts: Overlooking gifts and thinking they are unimportant will often lead to feelings of hurt, upset, and pain for your partner. They may conclude that you don’t care or that you didn’t consider them. USING LOVE LANGUAGES FOR THE HOLIDAYS Expectations: It is important to have honest conversations about expectations and hopes for the holidays, especially with consideration to love languages. Typically, partners will go to great efforts to show love and affection to their partner and then feel let down when their partner doesn’t appreciate their gift. When dynamics are already strained, this disappointment can lead to resentment, unhappiness, and discouragement. Talking about your expectations can help prevent hurt, tension, and conflict during the holidays. Awareness: Each person is going to come into the relationship with different family traditions. It can be helpful to talk about ahead of time what traditions you want to do together. Which ones do you want to keep, which ones do you want to let go and what new ones do you want to create together? Intention: Many couples are so busy with the additional events and ways of giving that they will lose connection with their normal ways of bonding. In this climate, couples can feel lonely and disconnected. It is important to attend to the priority of your relationship. Can you do more together, rather than doing things separately? Or during a family event, can you take a moment to pay special attention to each other? (Be sure to listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear gift ideas for each love language.) An invitation: Do one thing in your partner’s primary love language. For an added bonus you could try a 7 day challenge. Maybe you make a conscious effort to touch your partner everyday or tell them something you appreciate about them. Or bring them a small gift to let them know you have been thinking about them. Let me know how it goes. MENTIONED: The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman (book) Love Language Quiz (website) The Sex Starved Marriage – TED Talk TRANSCRIPT: Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 090: How To Use Love Languages To Strengthen Connection – Part Two [Transcript] If you have a topic you would like me to discuss, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for your interest in improving your relationship. Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review. Please leave a review by clicking here. Thank you! If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.
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Podcast Details

Started
Feb 5th, 2015
Latest Episode
Mar 25th, 2020
Release Period
Weekly
No. of Episodes
218
Avg. Episode Length
41 minutes
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No

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