Emotion Focused

Shame Resilience

Shame ResilienceShame is an intensely painful experience that impacts our sense of self and our relationships. Shame is the experience that there is something deeply wrong with me and there is no way to fix it.

When triggered, we feel exposed and experience painful emotional and physical symptoms:

  • Increased body temperature – a warm flush or even a “hot flash”
  • Nausea
  • Heaviness in the chest – perhaps to the point of feeling anxious and panicky
  • Poor eye-contact and hesitant speech patterns
  • Body minimizing posture – trying to hide shape of body or look invisible
  • Low energy levels – work hard to excel and feel exhausted most of the time

Shame Resilience researcher, Brené Brown, has studied the impact of shame for more than a decade. In her TED Talks, “The Power of Vulnerability” and “Listening to Shame,” she shares how to create resilience that move us through the experience of shame toward deeper connection and “whole-hearted” living.

In the clip below from “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” Brown says people who have “high levels of shame resilience” — meaning they can acknowledge and move through shame — have a few things in common. We can follow their lead by taking these three steps:

  • Talk to yourself like you talk to someone you love. “I would say to myself, ‘God, you’re so stupid, Brene,’” Brown says. “I would never talk to my kids that way.”
  • Reach out to someone you trust.
  • Tell your story. “Shame cannot survive being spoken,” Brown says.

Check out Brené Brown’s TED Talks by clicking here: Brené Brown’s TED talks

Losing a Loved One to Porn (and What You Can Do About It)

Sue Johnson’s article, “Losing a Loved One to Porn (and What You Can Do About It)” is an excellent resource for couples wondering if porn has hijacked their physical intimacy and emotional connection. In the article Sue offers tools to recognize a porn addiction and steps toward healing.

In the article Sue Johnson lists the signs and symptoms that indicate compulsive porn use:

Signs and Symptoms of Porn Addiction

  • Escalation—increasing amounts of time that a person spends on porn, and/or an increased intensity of the material they view (moving from vanilla porn to hardcore, fetish, or violent porn).
  • Withdrawal—becoming restless, irritable, and discontent when porn is not available.
  • Dishonesty—lying and keeping secrets about porn use (amount of time, content they view, etc.).
  • Disconnection—loss of interest in family, friends, work, and previously enjoyable activities.
  • Sexual Dysfunction—loss of interest in real-world partner sex and/or problems with delayed ejaculation (DE), erectile dysfunction (ED), and/or anorgasmia (inability to reach orgasm)

Click on this link to read more: “Losing a Loved One to Porn (and What You Can Do About It)”


Love In Action

“If one wishes to know love, one must live love, in action.” – Leo Buscaglia

At the dinner table this week, my family had a conversation about satisfying relationships. My teenage daughter wanted to know some things that my husband and I do to help us to keep our love on track. In the moment, I was pretty excited that she was interested in learning from us. As a parent, it is very cool and sometimes rare when teenagers perk up and listen.

So we jumped in and shared an idea: Relationships take daily attention and work from both parties. Not exactly the most romantic notion. But, what kind of work?

I often use a garden analogy when I work with couples. But when I started off with this metaphor, my daughter laughed because she knows that I kill plants. She gave her dad a worried look.

Since our conversation, I read Kate Walker’s recent article, “Make it to Your 50th Wedding Anniversary… Together!” She takes the illustration way beyond gardening:

“To help partners understand this particular kind of work, I ask them to picture a relationship with a plant, a goldfish, a dog, and a human. Plant relationships only need your attention a couple of days a week (and if that’s too much you buy a cactus). Goldfish relationships require a bit more work because you must feed it a couple of times a week and clean the bowl. Dog relationships are more intense because they require daily work: food, training, and entertaining. If you decide to marry (or create) a human relationship, this person is going to need time, attention, physical touch, and words of affirmation every day. This doesn’t make them ‘needy,’ this makes them normal. If that feels like too much work, get a goldfish instead.”

How Do I Work on My Relationship?

In my last blog post, I talked about four ways to build trust in your relationship:

  • Learn to listen
  • Practice gratitude
  • Turn toward each other
  • Create boundaries around the relationship

The following practices explore four more ways you can grow love in your relationship:

  1. Daily Commitment: With Kate Walker’s dog analogy in mind, one important aspect of loving relationships is consistency. The work you put into your relationship should not be based on how you feel at any given moment. If you have a pet, you care for your pet daily, regardless of your own illness, fatigue, stress, or boredom. Likewise, you and your partner need daily reminders that you matter. We all go through challenging times and sometimes do not feel like working on the relationship. But daily commitment is essential for health. We need to keep showing up for each other. As the years pass, moment-by-moment, trial and error, good times and bad, this is how we grow love.
  2. Limit Criticism. Many of us have a couple of things that irritate us about our partner. Seriously, if you are a human being, you will irritate your partner at some point! But a focus on the negative erodes the health of the relationship. Marriage researcher, John Gottman, found that satisfying relationships have five times as many positive interactions as negative interactions. When something needs to be addressed, make sure your partner knows you care about them first and make every effort to let your partner know the ways they matter.
  3. Have Fun: Find things to do together that make you both happy. We hear this all the time, but we are often just too busy to get away. I get it. Through the years, my husband and I have found it difficult to break away for date nights or quick weekend getaways. But time together is essential to stay connected. The most challenging time for marriages is the time directly following the exit or launching of the last child. Careers and children often take center stage and life can become too serious. It is common for couples to wake up after the kids leave home and realize, “We really do not know each other any more.” Make time to have fun together and stay connected. To inspire your next date night, check out these “Fun Dating Ideas.
  4. Seek Help: Do not be afraid to ask for help when you get stuck. Life transitions, such as navigating in-laws, childrearing, geographic moves, etc., are normal and disruptive to any relationship. When you find yourself stuck, marriage seminars can provide a beneficial marriage tune-up. For more challenging issues, a couples counselor is an excellent source of professional support and safety that allows couples to explore and heal wounds in their relationship. A word of caution: be careful whom you choose to confide in. If you receive emotional support from someone outside you relationship make sure the person is a “friend of the marriage.” If you confide in someone who does not support your relationship, you risk building an emotional attachment that threatens the bond between you and your partner.

I am so glad my husband and I had an opportunity to share some of our experience with our daughter. The most important thing I hope she learns is that she does not have to do relationships perfectly. She just needs a commitment to start over and over again every day. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Satisfying relationships are a learning process. When things get challenging… and they will… keep trying. Compassion for yourself and your spouse goes a long way.