R U OK? Day is a national day of action which aims to reduce suicide by encouraging people to connect with each other & ask: "R U OK?". Since 2009 the second Thursday in September has been dedicated to asking people this simple question - but more importantly getting people to stop to hear the answer - getting people to take some time to really connect with one another.
So often it is the person you sleep in the same bed with that you feel the least connected to. Or what if you just can't speak your kids language anymore? What then?
Connection to others is good for our health and well being. Open and honest communication - having someone there that you can truly show your most vulnerable self to and knowing you will be accepted just for being you provides an amazing sense of well being and feeling that we really do belong to one another.
Some simple steps you can take right now to build better connection with someone...
Remember when Gwenyth Paltrow coined the term "conscious uncoupling" for her divorce from Chris Martin?
Looking at marriage in Australia (and very similar in other OECD countries) over the past 20 years according to the ABS:
Things that haven’t changed:
Spring is still the most popular season to tie the knot
75-80% of us live together before marriage
Around 40% divorce rate
Of the marriages that end in divorce, 50% end in separation by the 8th year of marriage
Around 50% of all divorces involve children under 18 years
Things that have:
We are 3 years older at first marriage than we were 20 years ago (27 to 30 for men and 25 to 28 for women)
20 years ago you were more likely to be married by a minister of religion (56%) now 74% of marriages are done by a civil celebrant
We take a year longer to move from separation to divorce from 3 years to 4 years now.
The reality is that as you enter marriage today in Australia, you will be a little older than those...
Some time ago my local radio station polled listeners on the question of who comes first: self, partner or children? A spread of men and women answered and while a couple of people said self, the majority said children and no one that I heard said partner!
So what is the answer to that question? A simple answer for me would be self, partner and then children. But it is not that simple - it is really a case of trying to pick the first among equals. Day to day, in the moment, those with the highest needs tend to get prioritised so it makes sense that most people would say children – they demand our focus and rightly so. It is our job as parents to meet those needs and then teach and empower our children to meet them for themselves so they can grow up. But there are consequences to not also prioritising ourselves and our partner in all of this.
So my rationale for my simple answer is this. Self first is on the basis that if you...
Recently I came across this quote from Oprah Winfrey: "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never have enough." The more gratitude and appreciation we can bring into our lives the happier we become. That extends to being grateful for the people we have in our lives. I see gratefulness and appreciation as a habit - something you need to consciously practice every day to become good at it and make it part of the way that you see your life.
To help you develop the gratitude and appreciation habit, I am going to share with you an exercise in Gratitude and Appreciation I have adapted from a book by Joyce and Barry Vissel called The Heart's Wisdom. Joyce and Barry have a beautiful and loving perspective on relationships that shines through in their work and the many books they have written about their own successes and at times struggles in creating a loving...
We develop defences to protect ourselves from all kinds of real and imagined pain that we have experienced over our lives. How impenetrable they are will be related to just how much we have had to defend ourselves in the past. Part of the attraction in the early stages of romantic love is that “falling in love” makes us feel like we don’t need our defences anymore. We feel we have finally found someone with whom we can be totally ourselves and our defences come down. As the relationship moves on, inevitably reality creeps in and our partners reveal themselves to be human after all and with being human comes the capacity to disappoint and cause pain. And the defences come back out again.
Defensiveness is one of John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. The others are criticism, contempt and stonewalling. These Four Horsemen, if present in a relationship are the strongest predictors of relationship demise.
Defensiveness looks different for...
In my last blog I talked about what happens when you flood and how damaging it can be to your relationship when the dinosaur roars! So what can you do to calm the flood?
While it can take up to 20 minutes for the adrenalin and cortisol that is dumped in your body to prepare you for the fight, flight or freeze response, to leave your body, you can actually calm down much faster than that with practice.
Here I have some ideas for you to draw from – what works for one person may not work for others so you need to develop your own list. Doing some of these every day can help keep the dinosaur at bay!
Relaxation techniques - there are many mp3’s or apps available to guide you through meditation and relaxation exercises that can assist the process. Some useful ones you can try yourself include.
Amygdala hijacking is a funny sounding term that is actually far from funny!! It can make a normally sane and steady person into a roaring dinosaur faster than you can say dinosaur!!!
Magical wikipedia (I think it is magic because when I was a student I had to ride my bike to the library to look up the encyclopedia!!) describes the origins of "amygdala hijack" as a term coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Drawing on the work of Joseph E. LeDoux, Goleman uses the term to describe emotional responses from people which are immediate and overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat.
In every situation we are observing with all of our senses. This information goes directly to the amygdala, situated deep in the emotional part of the brain and at the same time to the neocortex, the thinking part of...
Self care is so important for relationships. You cannot GROW the LOVE in your relationship if you have nothing left in the tank to give. So each and every day, taking the time to do something that is just for you is essential.
"I don’t have time to do that", I hear you say: "I’m a mother of small children", or "I have a business to run", or "my schedule has no spare space" or all of the above! Well think about it this way - it is as optional as putting fuel in your car – you just cannot run without it. When we make things a priority (or not optional) we work out a way to make it happen.
But I must confess I was really bad at this when my kids were small, so I had to make some changes. The easiest way to make a change is to start small and basic and grow from there. If you also attach it to something you are already doing it can help as well. So I started shutting the bathroom door so I could shower in peace – a lovely 5 minutes...
One of my favourite scientific advances in the last 20 years is the ability to take pictures of the brain and its circuitry in action, and what this continues to teach us about how we are wired and therefore why we do what we do.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher is a leader in this area and has extensively studied what happens in the brain as it relates to love. She has differentiated 3 types of love, that each have their own areas of the brain that light up:
1. Sexual attraction or lust – Fisher describes as more like an actual “drive” like hunger, and just like hunger is required for your survival (if you don’t eat you will die). Sexual attraction or lust, (driven by estrogen and testosterone) is required for the survival of the human race. You can have a number of people who you are sexually attracted to but in humans we usually put it together with at least one of the other types of love.
It never ceases to amaze me how busy people are these days (me included). Catch phrases like “time poor” have become part of our language. When you add it all up in a relationship where both partner’s work, or work and care for children, grandchildren or others and then add in all the other things you have to do to take care of yourself (like shower and sleep) and anything else, there really are very few hours left unallocated.
Relationships with our partner (and others) thrive on time spent taking an interest in and being a part of the other person’s day to day. How do we do fit it all in? There are two secrets to this that I share with you now: firstly, you have to make the moments count and secondly: schedule, schedule, schedule!
Small things often – it is the little things that add up but each one may only take a moment. That quick sms between meetings to let your partner know you are thinking of them or the...