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Archive for October, 2017

Couple relationships go through growing stages, and although this is a normal and healthy development, it can be painful to experience and  can sometimes make couples question if they should remain together. This is often why couples often come into therapy as they move through the stages, especially when one person is moving into a different stage than their partner is in.
Let’s look at stages of growth of all couples.

Stage 1 is called Symbiosis:  This is also known as  “The Honeymoon Period” – both people are swept up in  the excitement of their romance. “He (or she) has so much in common with me!” “Everything seems perfect”  and “We are so much alike!” Both are ecstatic with the  mutuality and perfection of the other, “How could anything go wrong?” It’s important to have some  time like this to establish your coupledom.

Stage 2 is called  Differentiating: After a while things happen  that show you are really two different people. Maybe you don’t really like watching  football, and that he has no interest in riding horses. She thinks you are “too” left leaning and liberal and you’ve been proud of that. It’s disappointing and hard to take for the one who wants to feel exactly alike and perfectly suited ( the one that is still symbiotic). It may feel liberating and factual for the differentiating  partner. Here indeed is trouble in paradise. As it happens, one partner  starts feeling restless or smothered. It seems like hanging out with old friends would be so nice.  Doing that sport, hobby (or whatever) that’s been neglected in spending so much of your time together – starts to look appealing.  This is a time when couples often show up in a therapist’s office.

Stage 3 is called Practicing: This is when the couple are both “trying out” being their separate selves while still being connected as a couple. They spend time apart doing separate things. They take the risk to  say they disagree and speak their differing opinions. At this time they are often dealing  with the risks and struggles of dealing with each other’s different needs and preferences , and it is a time of immense personal growth.

Stage 4 is called Rapprochement: This is when the couple is comfortable going back and forth, going away and coming together, returning to each other with ease and intimacy.  They come back to each other refreshed and happy to be connected deeply again.  Their trust is  secure in the other. The each are supporting the other’s self esteem.

Being able to see what stage your relationship is in can be reassuring and useful. Often one person is a little ahead of the other, and pulling their partner to come along with them.  When going  through these stages gets rough, couple therapy is often what is needed.

Good luck with each other! Love is a wonderful thing to cultivate at all it’s stages, and much too precious to neglect or loose.

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The most exciting thing about learning how to have an Ongoing Relationship with Your Inner Child is that, done correctly, you will be accessing your unconscious mind. By doing that you will get clues about what needs your attention and what is the next step of your personal growth.  Here’s how you do it.

Start out sitting in a room by yourself. Take a few breaths, and focus on long, slow exhalations to relax.  Set the intention in your mind that you want to meet your Inner Child for the purpose of helping yourself grow into your full potential.

Imagine your Inner Child has been called into  this room where you are sitting, and watch who comes  through the door in your mind’s eye. This is the first step of the tricky part, of allowing access to your unconscious.  It is easy to make up a particular image ….perhaps an image of a happy, robust child without a care in the world. That is, very likely, an example of  deciding what you want to happen and picturing that.  That’s not what this is about.  This exercise is about letting go of control and allowing something to happen in your imagination,  not making it happen.  To do that,  set your intention, and perhaps look over at the  door to this room, and wait. Wait to “see” who comes in. The key word here is “wait” and “see” what happens of its’ own accord.

This is  the beginning of getting information from your unconscious. If your inner child is bruised, that may tell you something you didn’t even know. If your child is extremely shy, that may be tell you to think about how your parents treated you about friendships.

In session with me, all ages and descriptions of children show up:  A toddler – bewildered and scared, a 7 year old – untrusting but curious. Some Inner Children accept the invitation from their adult self to come over and sit next to them, or on their lap, quite readily.  Soom refuse in a variety of ways: they look down or shake their head, or sit in a corner with their back to the adult.

One you see your Child, you need to look a see what age your child is, the expression on their face, what they say, if they speak to you, and their general demeanor. Begin to develop a rapport and relationship with your Inner Child. Your job is to be the best parent ever and be supportive and giving of all things you didn’t get when you were little.

What you learn about your feelings from your Inner Child who shows up in your room with you speaks to what needs attention in your life today.  If your Child lacks confidence at age 11, you may indeed find that same sort of insecurity in yourself now, and  now is  the  time to address  this.  If he/she was neglected you may feel hungry for attention, or easily feel abandoned in your relationships today.  Probably it’s time to attend to this in your relationships. That’s why your unconscious brought this to your attention in the exercise.

This is where your abilities as a nurturing parent  show up. Your “job” is to explain to your Child of the past that you, as an adult, are here to help them in any way they might need you. You may have to work at getting  your child to feel comfortable enough to listen to you ( go sit on the  floor with them, or, tell them it’s OK to sit separately for a while if that suits the Child’s needs best).  Some people’s  Child takes a long time and much interaction to get comfortable. Others are over on the couch (or  chair) lickity split –  snuggled in with you (their helpful adult)  and eager to find out what’s going to happen next. Most are somewhere in between.

Another, and powerful, way to do this is to see yourself coming into your own bedroom as you remember it when you were a kid.  First step – look for the Child. Is she/he sitting on top of a made bed playing with something and looking up to see you with interest?  Some people find  their Inner Child hiding under  the bed, scared to come out. How is that like you today? Others find that there is no child in the room – an interesting statement of how much self awareness  they have of their feeling self.  That adult might search the house of their childhood to find their Child.

Build a rapport with your Inner Child.  Get into the habit of checking in to see what they are doing and where they are ( physically) in relationship to you.  I’ve had clients  go sit on the bed of their childhood at night and talk over the Child’s  problems of the day, soothing and comforting and explaining. One woman who was an artist found pictures her child had drawn for her all over the bedroom floor. Another client checked in with her Inner Child every morning; the child was about 8 months old.   The adult self was troubled with depression at this time, and when she tried to cajole her Inner Child to look at her, the Child slumped away, dull and unresponsive. She kept the Inner Child with her during the day, imaging dancing with her slowly or sitting with her in a swing. One morning when she woke up  the Inner Baby was on her chest with it’s little arms around her neck, her face borrowed into the adult self’s neck. That day the depression lifted.  Having a conscious relationship with yourself is a healing in itself.

Some people don’t have much of a nurturing adult within themselves, don’t know how to be nurturing since they didn’t get much, or any, of it themselves. They may want to go into therapy to discover what they did experience as a child, overcome the results that show up in their life now, and learn to be kind to themselves.

People who have had abuse in their childhood may find this exercise too difficult to do alone. It’s too frightening to see your Inner Child in great need, and if you were emotionally or physically hurt as a  child, consider a getting a therapist to help you. No one should deal with an abusive childhood all alone.

 

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