Climate Change: How to Change Your Personal Atmosphere

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Is there a dark cloud of negativity covering your relationships? Are your thoughts about the important people in your life generally anxious? Are even the “good times” in your life seen as temporary because you feel something bad will eventually happen? Then according to research Psychologist John Gottman, you are in Negative Sentiment Override. This is a state where we see our lives through a filter of negativity brought on by negative past events. In other words, we see the worse possible outcome in most situations and relationships. Left unchecked, this condition sabotages relationships and creates severe anxiety which and can lead to crippling depression.

It is caused by allowing our minds to get stuck in a perpetual cycle of negativity which inevitably produces negative outcomes which then produces more toxic beliefs.

Here’s the progression

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  1. An event happens. It could be something someone has said or did that has the potential of being seen in different ways. For example, Your spouse is late for a dinner.

  2. You give a negative interpretation to that event. You might say something like; “They’re disrespecting me and are completely unreliable”

  3. This causes hurt, anger, and resentment which is a result of your negative interpretation.

  4. This leads to an unhealthy confrontation that sounds something like; “I can’t believe you were so thoughtless and inconsiderate, you don’t care about me!” Negative Sentiment Override becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in that we create the environment that we expect.

  5. This negative interaction puts the other person in a “no win” position by either agreeing that they are thoughtless and inconsiderate and that they indeed don’t care about you or they defend against your negative interpretation by trying to justify their actions. This interaction reinforces your belief because, in your mind, there is absolutely no justification for such thoughtless and inconsiderate behavior.

    And now we wait for another situation to “prove” our negative belief about them, therefore, repeating the cycle and putting the relationship into a toxic downward spiral where one or both partners can no longer see any positive aspects of their relationship.


I was speaking to a client who was currently in Negative Sentiment Override and she was describing her husband. She said, in a tone of disgust, “When he gets up in the morning the first thing he does is make his bed!” Instead of seeing that is a positive, or even as a neutral event she sees it as some kind of character flaw. I understand that there is a lot more going on in that relationship that has caused this unreasonable negativity but this is how irrational we become when we see our partners through the lens of negativity.

The most insidious aspect of Negative Sentiment Override is that when we are in it we don’t know it. This is because we think we’re being “realistic” or “sensible” and the other person is the one who is creating the problem. We have ceased to put their lives in any positive context and have become myopically obsessed with attributing the worse possible interpretation to their character, actions, and motives. This is where relationships hit that tipping point and the belief that life would be better without the other person becomes an ever-increasing option.

Negative Sentiment Override is not merely confined to relationships, it can become a pervasive way of thinking as represented by “Murphy’s Law”. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong – or as some modern-day Merphyites have quipped “Murphy was an optimist”. This is not just a “glass half empty” mentality but an inability to see the good and a concentration on the bad that puts a dark shadow over our lives and relationships. If this condition persists our brains develop neurological pathways that default to the negative which then makes it increasingly more difficult to escape anxiety and fear based thinking. It is as if the events in our lives trigger a negative response which then deepens our propensity to cast our life in a negative light.

And when we are in Negative Sentiment Override we often come across as …

What do I do to escape

Negative Sentiment Override?

Recognize you are in it and take personal responsibility

The very first step is to step back and objectively look at your response to the various things in your life. Is your negative focus obscuring the good and beautiful things in your life? If you are regularly experiencing anxiety, regret and resentment then chances are in Negative Sentiment Override. This is not about ignoring the “challenges” in your life or avoiding confronting problems in your relationship. It is about recognizing that you have a choice as to what you focus on. You can choose to look up or look down, believe the best or believe the worse invest in hope or despair. When we have been in negative default mode for a while it may seem like we don’t have a choice but we do and it starts by becoming responsible for our own feelings. No one MAKES you feel anything – you CHOOSE to feel what you feel.


Create a new positive neuro network

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
— Thornton Wilder

Yes, you can actually change your brain. It begins by refusing to allow your mind to ruminate on anything toxic and to meditate on health, uplifting, and healing thoughts. This all starts with developing an attitude of gratitude. It is clinically proven that those who cultivate gratitude in their lives live longer and have healthier and more satisfying relationships. Start with developing positive affirmations and increasing your daily dose of uplifting music and conversations. Turn off the news and media sources that are only about crime, conflict, and destruction. Limit regular exposure to anything toxic whether they be people, places or things. If you are finding yourself in Negative Sentiment Override it took you a long time to get there and you are not going to turn your brain around overnight – but you can change!

Create relational understanding

If I thought the way you think, I would feel the way you feel

Begin to seek to understand and create empathy for the reality of others. Here’s a statement that I have found very helpful. “If I thought the way you think, I would feel the way you feel. This sentence is a way of bridging the gap between our reality and the other’s reality. When we become willing to truly understand others we shed our prejudice and open up to understanding and connection. We still may have sincere disagreements but they are not tainted with criticism, bias, and resentment.


Turning our thinking around is never easy but very worth the effort. It may be helpful to look at your past and see if there are any negative messages that may be creating unhealthy thinking. These messages are insidious since we often don’t know they are there because they feel normal to us. Messages like, “you can’t trust anyone” or “you aren’t loved” cause us to distort our perceptions. If this is the case it may be helpful for you to get counseling to surface these toxic beliefs.


Our passion is to help you live the most successful life possible so If we can be of any assistance, please reach out to us.

How To Boost Your Self Confidence

Training Your Brain To Be More Confident is Possible

We are on a mission to help our clients become more self-aware, more confident, and find balance in their lives.  Although our clients come to us for a variety of reasons,  we find that over 85%  are dealing with challenges within clarity of identity,  self esteem,  and/or  self confidence.  In addition to recently publishing an eBook  (see below free offer) to you  understand and improve self confidence, we also want to share any quality articles or science based findings to help you with your journey.   

Today I read an excellent article written by Bruna Martinuzzi for American Express that  is worth sharing:   

JULY 30, 2018 To succeed in business today, whether as a leader, manager or business owner, knowing how to boost your self-confidence is paramount. A lack of confidence may prevent you from pursuing opportunities or taking risks to help you grow.

Confidence is a strong sense of self. When you have self-confidence, you signal to others that you believe in yourself and your ability to deliver results. As a leader, confidence enables you to lead powerfully. When you approach others with confidence, you increase your chances to engender trust and respect.

If you're looking to improve your self-confidence, it's important to note that this is not something you can achieve overnight. However, there are some actionable steps that you can take.

 Pursue excellence, not perfection.

The definition of perfectionism is "the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness." Pursuing perfection can lower your ability to boost your self-confidence because you would be judging yourself against impossible standards.

By contrast, consider pursuing excellence in everything you do. Aiming for excellence means setting and meeting the highest standards that are reachable. Knowing that what you're doing matches the highest standards boosts your self-confidence. Chasing perfection, on the other hand, lowers your confidence because it creates doubt and anxiety as you try to reach unrealistic standards.

Do you have a tendency toward perfectionism? Consider these three tips:

  • Create a list of the services you provide to internal or external customers.
  • Consider what's required to be outstanding in each of these services.
  • Now create a plan to tackle each of these areas in a way that surpasses ordinary standards.
  •  Invest in your competence.

The adage "fake it till you make it" can lead to feeling like a fake rather than feeling genuinely self-confident.

Instead, you can boost your self-confidence by focusing on increasing your competence in the central areas of your work. Become good at what you do. It's one of the most direct ways to boost your self-confidence.

Moreover, once you reach a certain level of competence, consider raising the bar on yourself. Raising the bar leads to continuous improvement over time.

How else can you invest in your competence?

  • Be honest with yourself about what you don't know. Create a personal competency framework and spend time increasing your knowledge or skill in the areas that need attention.
  • Research your area of expertise to learn new trends and new ways of doing things. The world is dynamic and changing. Falling behind can erode your confidence.
  • Sharpen the saw by attending some online courses which are now available in almost any subject.
  • Read as much as you can—not only in your area of expertise, but for general business knowledge as well. Even if you're very busy, you can subscribe to a book summary service to improve your professional skills and boost your self-confidence are just a few of the services available.

Learn from your own experience.

  • After a significant event, such as delivering a major presentation or doing a sales call with an important client, reflect on the experience.
  • Take a sheet of paper, label it "lessons learned" and capture everything you've gained from the event. For example:
  • What part of your performance went well? That's what you don't want to forget so that you can repeat it the next time.
  • What didn't go as well? What do you need to avoid doing the next time?
  • What do you need to do differently or better to take yourself to the next level?
  • What do you need to abandon altogether?
  • Not taking the time to reflect and capture the lessons may limit your ability to learn from your own experience. Self-confidence is a quality we gain above all from repeated successful experiences.

 Stop the self-harassment.

Self-harassment is when we persistently berate ourselves for any failures, whether real or perceived. Instead of severe self-criticism, consider practicing self-acceptance which can help boost your self-confidence. How can you do this?

  • Start by raising your self-awareness so that you can exercise self-control. Just how many times in a week do you belittle your efforts, blame yourself for events, or speak harshly to yourself? Self-criticism becomes habitual, and we hardly notice it. Catch yourself in the act. Self-awareness precedes self-management.
  • Develop an accurate assessment of who you are. What do you do well? What do you do not so well? Notwithstanding this knowledge, accept yourself unconditionally. To achieve this, set an intention to appreciate yourself for who you are.

  • Remind yourself that you're in control of your self-development. Work on ironing out any rough edges or doing whatever it takes to improve what needs to be improved.

Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Preparation is a key to boosting your self-confidence. When you're prepared, you tend to feel less pressure. Preparation gives you a feeling of being in control. It can give you a head start so that you can think and act your best.

Let's take the example of going to a meeting. Meetings are often events that can put a dent in self-confidence because you're observed and possibly judged by your lack of contribution.

To build your confidence in a meeting:

  • Never go into a meeting unprepared. Be prepared to contribute to the discussion even if you're not scheduled to speak.

  • Try to find out the meeting topics in advance, if possible. What are your ideas about the meeting topics?

  • Prepare a question or two that you might ask. Leaving a meeting with a feeling that you've contributed to the discussion can be a big confidence booster.

Beware of the comparison trap.

When you measure yourself against others, you may rob yourself of the confidence that comes from believing in your abilities. Cultivate an inner trust based on doing the right things for yourself, your staff and your business. If you look to the success of others, do it to learn rather than to measure yourself.

When it comes to comparing ourselves, self-comparison is essential. Are you better today than you were yesterday? Compare your progress with where you were when you started. By focusing on even small improvements that you've made in your skills and abilities from day to day, you may start to see your self-confidence surge.

Learn from the best to help boost your self-confidence.

  • Find out who are the best people in your line of business and study what they do. Think about them, read articles about them and watch their performances. Follow them on social media and research everything about them that you can.
  • What can you learn from these people that can help you reach the same level of success in your field? Once you've determined what they do, consider how you can even surpass them.

Even the most confident people can sometimes find themselves in situations where they doubt themselves. Everyone needs some tools in their toolkit to boost their self-confidence. Self-confidence is key to having the mental edge that helps you success.

Read original article at: American Express / Small Business

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Making Sense Out of Your Partners Nonsense

Learn to Decode Your Partner's "Reality"
 

Ever had this happen – Your partner gets upset about something that seems to you like a trifle. So you downplay it or ignore it and then all hell breaks loose. When you pick yourself up off the floor you are left scratching your head wondering, “What just happened here? All I did was …” Your partner wasn’t logical, reasonable or even slightly made a bit of sense so how do you respond? If you’re like most of us you do one of the following.

  • Close your eyes to the illogic and move on
  • Try to engage in a rational, reasonable manner
  • Put your foot down and assert your right to common sense

But none of these options really work, do they? Because –

  • If you close your eyes to it you end up bumping into it over and over again
  • If you try to engage, you end up going down the black hole and lose your way
  • When you put your foot down it just makes the gap between you larger by filling it with resentment.

So what are you to do when there seems like there are no viable options?

When you encounter the irrational remember this – It’s rational in that person’s world, you just need to better understand their world.

Yes, you heard me right. You are dealing with someone who has a different reality than yours so there will be times when their rationale will also be different. If you ever want to communicate – much less have an intimate relationship, you will need to be able to understand their reality.

But you say, “I didn’t sign up to be a part of someone else’s reality!” You did when you entered into the relationship, for every time we enter into a relationship we are choosing to interact with another person’s reality. Think of it like traveling abroad. When you step off the plane you are now entering into a country with a different set of laws and customs. Yes, there will be a lot of similarities to home but there will be a lot of things you don’t understand and may seem illogical.

Okay, now I’m going to throw you a curveball – sometimes your partner won’t even understand their own reality! Yes, that’s right, we all do things, feel things and say things and we are clueless why. That’s because we humans are great at ignoring our emotions and not tending to our hearts. We think we can just push through childhood trauma or ignore our emotional wounds. But they end up coming back to bite us through our feelings and thoughts that often sabotage our lives. We experience “irrational” fears when we attempt to move forward in our career or feelings of shame when we try to engage in close relationships.

“Okay, now I’m really confused. You’re telling me to try to understand the reality behind my partner’s irrational actions and now you’re telling me they may not even know why they are feeling the way they’re feeling? I give up!”

Real relationships are not for wimps! We all need to roll up our sleeves and try to understand our partner’s world as well as help them try to understand their own world. Believe me, there is logic in there somewhere. Here are a couple of examples of illogical logic.

  • A person who continually blows up every relationship that gets too deep even those they desperately desire to intimacy? Irrational right? Wrong! In their world, if you get too close you will find out who they truly are and reject them. They are protecting themselves from that pain.
  • A person who never accepts the promotion at work even though it would mean more money, more opportunity, and much more satisfying work. Irrational right? Wrong! In their world, they are certain that they are incompetent and the promotion would only reveal that fact.

How do you live with illogical logic?

You say to yourself, “This makes sense in their universe, I just need to understand it and maybe help them understand it”

You slow down the conversation and begin to ask clarification questions. For example:

  • “So what is your greatest fear about this?”
  • “Have you felt this way before about other situations?”
  • “What was it like in your family when this happened?”
  • “Help me understand what you need?”

Believe me, I am not saying this is easy. But if you are willing to choose to discover rather than judge there are great rewards for those who want to enter into this level of real relationships.

  

As always, if you are needing any help or I can be of any service just reach out via email at connect@totalwellnesscenter.net.

Why Pulling Away From Relationships Doesn’t Work

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We have all been there. Something someone said touched a nerve and we react with a combination of anger and repulsion so we pull away like we’ve touched a hot stove.

I recently saw a video that loudly extolled the virtue of getting our own “house in order” before we attempt to be in a relationship. The example was used that if you have a virus it is a crazy idea to infect another person with the expectation you will get healed. Agreed, unhealthy people do not make healthy relationships but neither does isolation and “focusing on yourself”. Relationships are where be become broken and relationships are also where we get healed. To expect to get better at relationships by turning inward and isolating is like trying to be a better cook by eating at MacDonalds.

There is a place for working on ourselves and developing a healthy self-image. At some point, we need to make sure that we are secure enough with ourselves to be in strong relationships. But this is not an either/or proposition, it is actually a both/and proposition. We need to be both developing our own personal identity and refining that identity in relationships with others.

When I was a teenager I enjoyed making radio controlled airplanes. I would work for hours constructing them to the exact specifications in the instructions. They were beautiful on my shelf, but that is not what they were created for. They were meant for the sky and the only true test of my work was to take them out and fly them. The same is true in our quest to have a healthy self-image. The true test of our character is to be in a relationship that challenges us. This means that we need to engage when we’re hurt, triggered or fearful. We need to because that pain is directing us to where we are damaged. Relationships reveal our wounds and therefore are invaluable to the healing process.

If you want to be at greater peace with yourself

learn how to be at peace with others.

I have never met a person who is able to build healthy relationships who does not have a healthy relationship with themselves. Likewise, I have never met someone who has a unhealthy relationship with themselves that is not in unhealthy relationships with others.

But I can hear you say … “ it’s not everyone that I have a problem with, it’s just that one special person”. Invariably that one special person is triggering you in a relational wound that has not healed. So use the pain for gain. If not, you are dooming yourself to shallow relationships and stunted personal growth. I know this is hard – every fiber of your being is telling you to flee, but if you can resist the urge to run and find a way to understanding why you are being triggered there is incredible healing awaiting you.

Relationships are a window into our soul.

I am not advocating tolerating an abusive or destructive relationship, only a sick people with a poor self-images would accept that. But troubled relationships are a gold mind if you’re willing to stay in there and dig.

As always if you need any help or we can be of service don’t hesitate to reach out to us. If you’d like to receive regular updates on our blogs, articles, and postings just sign up for our newsletter below. 

Alone – In a Relationship

How Did I Get Here?

When we find ourselves in a difficult relationship one of the questions we tend to ask is; “how did I get here?”

Nobody starts a relationship with the expectation that, somewhere down the road, we’re going to end up feeling isolated, unloved and alone. So if that was not our intention how did it happen? Let me give you a few of the detours we take that lead down the road to an unfulfilling relationship.

It all centers around the fact we are reproducing the only kind of relationship we know.

I tell my clients that we will only deal with the past when the past gets in the way of our future. Unfortunately this is almost always the case. We learn our relationship skills from those who modeled relationships to us. How our parents resolved conflict, created a safe and secure environment and met our emotional, physical and spiritual needs will become the model we think of as “normal”.

I can hear some of you saying; “Wait a minute! I hated the way I grew up and I am doing everything I can to do it differently”. I acknowledge your efforts and support your intentions but changing the dysfunctional relational patterns of the past requires more than just recognizing what did not work; it requires the ability to put new healthy patterns in place. In order for true change to happen we must implement lifestyle changes that will feel awkward, totally unnatural and difficult to consistently apply. Here are some of the areas that we often struggle in:

How was conflict managed in your home?

Were criticism, contempt, defensiveness or stonewalling used when disagreements arose? Was there a “win at all cost” mentality? Or were you like many of us never privy to the arguments that happened behind closed doors. Few of us learned how to express anger or our complaints in a healthy way so naturally we find it difficult to do it in our relationships.

How was love and comfort expressed?

Did you feel loved and cherished in your home or did you feel like you were on the outside looking in? Conversely, were you smothered and used as an emotional support system for one or both of your parents. Not experiencing healthy love and comfort in our home leaves us with a deficit that is extremely hard to fill, especially by an unaware spouse.

How was communication handled?

Was information communicated directly or did it come through channels. If someone was angry or upset did you hear it from them or did it come at you via third parties. If we or our partner is unused to direct communication then we may feel threatened or frightened by their frankness and it may be difficult for us feel connected.  

What were the expectations for each family member?

What was expected of each member in your home? These expectation are often transferred to your new relationships without even a conscious thought that your spouse may have a different set of expectations. 

If you and your spouse are not in agreement in these areas then you are bound to feel misunderstood and alone. We create such strong and deeply held beliefs that when our partner shares a contrary view we can’t accept it, much less understand it. If we are ever going to have healthy, satisfying relationships we need to understand what those relationships look like.

After all, a sure way to become utterly lost is to redouble your effort after you have lost sight of your goal.  And that is what a lot of us do when we’re in unhappy relationships. We try desperately to make changes in ways that are just as dysfunctional as what we are trying to change. The real change needs to happen in us before we can hope to see a significant change in our relationship.

I have often had clients recount to me a litany of failed and dysfunctional relationships as if there was some grand conspiracy to make sure that they would never find happiness. I always listen patiently. (Okay, sometimes I get a wee bit impatient) But I do understand that there is deep pain and sadness when we feel disconnected, alone and hopeless. Eventually we get around to the inevitable question. What do all these relationships have in common? At this point my client has a very hard time answering that question but eventually (with some prodding) the light comes on and they say – it’s me. Yes, I say in my wisest and most compassionate tone, it is you. So what do you want to do about that?

We are at the center of our lives for good or for bad so if we’re ever going to experience something different we’re going to need to see what we are doing in order to create something new. And that my friends is why we look at the past and ask the above questions.

If you are having difficulty with knowing what healthy relationships look like I have a suggestion. Read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3-10 and 1 Corinthians 13) and especially study the life of Jesus Christ. For in his example we find the highest, truest, and most worthy example of how we are to interact with one another. Or as the Apostle Paul said so well:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
— Philippians 2:5-11 NIV

As always if ever we can help you on your journey to find joy we're here to help.

Keeping Marriage Fresh and Exciting

Let’s face it when we've been with someone more than (you fill in this blank) we come to a place where we think we pretty much know everything we’re going to know about our partner. And there is some truth to that, we know what they like to eat, we know if they’re a morning person and we even know if they are a dog or cat person. (That’s important information!) All this “knowledge” can lead to what I call an “assumptive relationship”. That means we begin to treat our spouse like we treat our drive home from work.

Do you remember your drive home from work today? If you’ve been working at that location long you may have done that drive hundreds if not thousands of times. When we get in our car after a long day at work and start for home we pretty much put it in autopilot. In other words, we don’t observe the scenery, people or situations that we pass along the way. We miss them because we’re not looking any more, we've seen it so many times that we assume everything is the same. But it isn't ... there is something new there waiting for us to discover every day. We can even lose the ability to notice the beauty around us even when it is spectacular. My drive home from the office is probably one of the most extraordinary, sumptuous, eye pleasing sights in the world. Cheri and I are constantly commenting on how we just can't believe we live here. I tell myself that I must never take this sight for granted but just the other day I caught myself not noticing this beauty. My mind was distracted with the day's activities and I was missing the absolute gorgeous beauty all around me!

My back yard!

Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA 

The key to keeping a relationship fresh and exciting is not assuming you know your spouse and committing to learning something new about them every single day.

And so it is with our spouse, we lose the desire to discover new things about them so that most of the time we could “phone in” our marriage.  Do we really want our closest relationship on earth to become like that? Remember when you first met your spouse? Remember how fascinated you were with them and how you couldn’t wait to see them again so you could learn more about their likes and dislikes, loves and losses? I’m going to make a bold statement. If you’ve developed an assumptive relationship with your spouse then … YOU DON’T REALLY KNOW THEM. That’s right, you’re like a person who is looking at an iceberg and sees only the 10% that is visible above the surface. Why can I say this? Because whatever you thought you knew about your spouse is old news, there are new thoughts, feelings and experiences happening to them every day. How do I know this? Because the same is true of you … you are not the same person you were a month ago and if I assume you are then I don’t really know you. The key to keeping a relationship fresh and exciting is not assuming you know your spouse and committing to learning something new about them every single day. You may say; “that sounds hard, I don’t know how to do that”. Let me give you some hints that will help.

Learn to ask questions: And I don’t mean the yes or no type. Ask open ended questions that will require your spouse to share something deeper and reveal their inner world. Here’s an example:

Bad question: "Did you have a good day at work today"?

Good question: "What new and exciting things happened at work today"?

Warning: If you haven’t been exploring the inner world of your spouse for a while then your questions may be greeted with suspicion and resistance. They may wonder why you’re suddenly interviewing them. You may need to preface your questions with explaining your new commitment to know them better.

Recognize and stop your assumptions: Question your assumptions about your spouse’s likes, dislikes, interests and dreams. Even if you think you’ve got these nailed just the process of asking about them could stimulate your spouse’s thinking and help them out of self-imposed ruts. Wouldn’t a wonderful consequence of getting to know your spouse be that they become more in touch with their own inner world? That’s when marriage is really hitting on all cylinders!

Become an observer: Just like your drive home is filled with new experiences that you miss so your spouse’s life is filled with many new and interesting clues into their inner world. Look for them. 

If we at Total Wellness Resource Center can be of any encouragement to you on how to "Live the Live you were Created to Live" we are eager help! Just comment in the section below or email us at connect@totalwellnesscenter.net

 

Huh … What’d you say? How to Predict a Failed Relationship

There are a few iron clad predictors of lasting relationships according to John Gottman’s forty years of research and one of those predictors is what he calls “turning to” rather than “turning away” from your spouse. Let me explain.

I’m sitting on the couch very quietly minding my own business reading the latest news of those incredible Cubs and how I’m sure they are finally going to break the 108 year old world championship drought … but I digress. So while I’m reading, my sweet, beautiful and extremely talented wife chooses to ask me a question about the menu for the week. Let me say upfront that I am not one of those discriminating fussy eaters. There is almost no food that I do not enjoy and especially anything that Cheri would prepare. So I almost never have any opinion about her meal planning and what’s more, I think she should know this after numerous times of her asking and me responding with; “duh … I dun know”. So do I choose to enter once more into this dead end conversation or do I ignore her question and remain engrossed in fantasying about the Cubs? If I choose to be silent then I am heading right into one of the leading predictors of relational trauma. It is so easy to do and obviously (at least to me) so justifiable. Why respond when I know exactly what the outcome of the conversation will be? Am I not entitled to pick and choose which conversations I engage in and which I leave to parish from neglect?

Marriage can be a beautiful dance of give and take, call and response that binds the two together into an intimate friendship.
— James Tillman

If I am committed to loving my wife and being the husband that I believe God wants me to be then I am also committing to communication even when it is inconvenient, seemingly unnecessary or uninteresting. Yes, I am committing to connecting with my wife whenever and wherever the opportunity arises. Please understand that I am saying there won’t be times when we ask not to be interrupted or we may respond by asking for time since we are in the middle of something. What I am saying is healthy marriages are about a hundred little moments throughout the day when couples share their thoughts, feelings or observations with each other. Marriage can be a beautiful dance of give and take, call and response that binds the two together into an intimate friendship. But let me give you some whys. When we turn toward rather than away from our partner it …

  • Defeats propensity toward selfishness
  • Opens up opportunities for shared encounters
  • Shows respect
  • Improves communication
  • Breaks down barriers
  • Demonstrates loving kindness
  • Sets a great example to our children

If it is such an important part of a healthy marriage why don’t we do it? The bottom line is that we cease making our relationship a priority by making it less important than our comfort, convenience or a particular interest of the moment. That article about the Cubs will still be there in a few minutes but the chance to connect with my wife over something that interests her will not. It doesn’t even need to be a long dialogue. Turning to your partner can be as simple as acknowledging them with a grunt, a laugh or a quick statement of agreement. However, if you want to supersize your “turning to” skills then go out of your way to acknowledge your partners statement with your own thoughts, feelings or observations. For me that would go something like …

Cheri: So baby what would you like for diner this week?

Me: (looking up from my beloved Cubs article) Diner? Let me think. You know I’m not picky, I like everything you make. What would be fun for you to cook this week?

Okay, I’m not that good but you get the message. Turn to not away when your spouse is speaking to you and you will find a friend, companion and someone who you are blessed to share your life with.

We at Total Wellness Resource Center are committed to you becoming all that you were created to be. If ever you need support or encouragement please let us know. You can contact us a connect@totalwellnesscenter.net.