Healthy relationships are so important; love and belonging are critical for resilience and recovery. The folks at the Gottman Institute are amazing at helping people be their best relationships. Check out this summary of harsh vs. soft arguments.
I stumbled upon this the other day…
Stanford researcher Leon Festinger developed a line of research in social comparison theory. He noted that in different situations we will tend to compare ourselves with people either above or below us, depending on which ladder we’re talking about.
For instance, on morality, we tend to compare ourselves with people we think are below us: mass murderers, drug dealers. On the topic of money, we compare ourselves to people above us, those who have more than we do.
Research shows that a tendency for upward financial comparisons generates increasing amounts of greed and decreasing amounts of compassion.
That reminds me of Richard Cory…
In honour of Valentines Day, I want to share a CS Lewis quote. I find this insight to be a good reminder of why love is worth risking.
I hope you are able to extend and receive love this week.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything & your heart will certainly be wrung & possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one…but in that casket it will change. It will become unbreakable, irredeemable.”
A friend pointed me towards an article concerning modesty. It shifted my thinking and I want to recommend it as a must read, particularly for Christians.
Here are some highlights but please click the link and read the whole thing:
“No one really knows what “immodest” means. It puts the responsibility for a man’s lust and fantasies squarely on the shoulders of women.”
“Many conferences and books have even gone so far as to name women the “gatekeepers” of sexuality. He will go as far as you let him, the narrative goes. Wow! This a staggeringly unhealthy narrative to promote to our children about the way sexuality works, and plays directly into the hands of a rape culture such as the one in which we live: if you are a female and ever get catcalled, abused, molested, raped, or any number of other sexual advances, you are probably at least partially to blame. What were you wearing? What did you say to him? Did you bend over to pick something up? Was your perfume too sensual?”
Putting modesty/immodesty on women and saying they are gatekeepers of men’s behaviour “…grants men and boys amnesty from the responsibility of their own sexual choices.
“Not only does Jesus say nothing about female culpability in a man’s fantasies, he absolutely destroys any excuses a man might make about his inability to control his own urges. No, Jesus says, a man’s culpability begins and ends with his own dang eyes and right hand.”
Wow. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Lately, I have been on a journey to learn as much as I can about trauma. I recently went through a series on trauma presented by the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. It was mind-blowing – and often beyond my brain power – but fantastic nonetheless.
Another topic that interests me is nurturing healthy relationships. Love and belonging are critical to our wholeheartedness – our capacity to deal with the junk that smashes into us on a regular basis.
Anyway, here’s how those two come together. Those who had childhood trauma typically struggle more than others in their romantic relationships. That’s not big news as most of us are aware how our past affects our present. But the key question is why – why does trauma create these difficulties?
Apparently, childhood trauma produces a great deal of self-criticism and it’s the self-criticism that hurts the relationship. To be clear, the studies that have noted this weren’t saying it’s a definitive cause and effect. I’m sure there is more to this story and many subtle differences between people. It’s just a link we need to be aware of.
The good news is, there is help, hope and healing. We can reduce self-criticism and improve our relationships. Talk with a counsellor, check out online resources, pick up a book or two (Dr. Guy Winch’s book “Emotional First Aid” covers this topic fairly well I think.) Explore the options and find what works for you.
Are you overly self-critical? If so, can you see how it’s negatively impacting your relationships? What do you do to reduce self-criticism?
I like to talk about relationships. I’ve done pre-marriage counselling, I’ve done a multi-part workshop on developing a marvellous marriage, and sadly, I’ve sat with a friend having a breakdown because her husband cheated on her. As such, I keep my eyes open for perspectives on helping relationships be stronger.
“The Conversations We Should Really Be Having With Our Partners If We Want Our Relationships To Last” is an article I believe can be really helpful if you want to have a deeper, stronger, relationship with your partner. Here are some highlights, I recommend you check out the whole article.
Conversations you and your partner need to have (consider the following to be quotes from the article):
I want you to tell me what to do because I can’t read your mind – If I truly love my partner, I want to pay attention to their needs. In order for me to do that, I need to know what those needs are. There is a faulty belief that occurs, and we’re all guilty of it: No one can read your mind. If you need something, it’s on you to ask for it.
I want you to tell me how to love you because I take that responsibility seriously – a lot of us are existing in relationships where we feel unloved, neglected, or unimportant. We can make small changes that can create a huge, positive ripple effect.
I want you to tell me how you feel because it helps me understand who you are – What if we give the other person the space and time to open up, and know that we want them to because we want to know what they are feeling and why.
I want you to tell me how to talk to you because communication will make or break us – if you’re having trouble communicating, try focusing on listening rather than trying to get your point across. Ask more questions.
I want you to tell me what you want to do to me because I want to be the one you share your erotic self with – it’s scary to communicate what we want for fear of judgment, criticism, or rejection. Intimate desires, just like emotions, can be really difficult for people to express.
I want you to tell me how to touch you because I care about our intimate connection – when we show interest in meeting our partner’s intimate needs, it’s a way of communicating that they are important.
I want to know what makes you happy. I can’t do it for you, but I can support your journey – the only person responsible for your happiness is YOU. However, we can absolutely support our significant other in trying to achieve, accomplish, or realize anything they identify that might make them happy.
What do you think about these conversations? Could you have them with your partner?
I recently discovered the folks over at Time to Change. They have some excellent videos and resources on mental health. Here’s a few highlights from one of their articles, 5 Simple Ways to Support a Mate with a Mental Health Problem.
Meet for Coffee – “The amazing thing about meeting for a coffee or asking someone if they’d like to drop in for a cup of tea is that you can do it almost anywhere, anytime.” Just being present with a friend who is struggling provides comfort, empathy, and courage to face the world. Remember that it’s important to listen without judgment.
Asking how they are – slowing down long enough to ask how’s it going and then patiently listening opens the door for your mate to open up to you.
Find safe places to talk – “Walking together or sitting driving are both amazing, because the experience of talking to someone whilst you’re side by side can be so much more freeing and less daunting than face to face.”
Post power – If you can’t connect in person, send a letter or a little parcel if you can. It’s retro which is why it’s also meaningful.
Little gestures – you don’t have to be extravagant (I am and it’s a blessing and a curse) but little things can communicate your care and support for your mate.
Check out the whole article for the full story but it all comes down to being mindful of your mates, slowing down to really listen, and just bring present in their life.
How do you support your mates?
I like good news. Somebody I want to meet up with actually commits to a plan. A surprise cheque (or check for my American friends) that arrives in the mail. Final grades above 90%… or above 65% if I was in trouble and that’s what it took to pass the class.
What’s the last good news you received?
What about good advice? You should… You need to… Why don’t you do… You have to… Good advice can be helpful but it also can be annoying, worse if it’s unsolicited.
I’ve got some good news for you. It’s a bit technical but that’s what makes it so good.
When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Christian church in Rome – we’re talking first century AD – he noted the problem we all face:
“…all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God,”
Now you might not buy into the idea of sin* or even God but just hang on for moment. Paul is saying, we’ve all got a past we’re not proud of and even now, as best as we can do, isn’t good enough; it’s all tainted. Even if you only count the last six of the commandments. we’ve all missed the mark at least once if not several times. (Note that the problem runs very deep – the commandment to not kill includes contempt and the one about adultery includes even lusting after (objectifying) another person.) This sin stuff, it’s messy. It unleashes death, killing us slowly from the inside out. Anyway, the point is, this is our continuous state.
But wait, didn’t I say something about good news? That’s not very good news at all. Well, Paul was simply stating the problem so he could tell us about the solution:
as a gift by His grace
through the redemption
which is in Christ Jesus…”
That phrase, being justified, is a Present Passive Participle. The what? This is the technical part. Being justified is a continuous expression related to the verb just before it – have sinned and fall short.
Being justified takes care of the past, the present and the future, too.
But what does it mean to be justified?
It’s a legal phrase. It’s one of the metaphors for talking about how God has done everything to reconcile us to his heart. The key is it’s not just simply forgiveness, although that’s included, it’s not a not guilty declaration, or an acquittal.
Because of what Christ Jesus has done, justification means that you and I, despite our past, our regrets, our shame, it’s as we never did the deed.
So that you can know, without a sliver of doubt, that you have the full love and acceptance of your heavenly Father who created you.
That’s good news.
* Sin has to do with alienation from God, from creation, and from one another. It breaks our relationships, hinders our fellowship, and ruins our stewardship of the earth.