How does good fathering play into a child’s ability to connect with others later in life?
Good fathering plays a significant role in a child’s ability to connect with others later in life. Positive and nurturing father-child relationships can have a profound impact on a child’s social and emotional development, which, in turn, affects their ability to form healthy connections with peers and romantic partners in adulthood. Here’s how good fathering influences a child’s social and emotional development:
Secure Attachment: A good father provides a secure and nurturing environment, which helps children develop a secure attachment style. Securely attached children tend to be more confident, have higher self-esteem, and are better at forming and maintaining healthy relationships in adulthood.
Emotional Regulation: Fathers who support their children in understanding and managing their emotions help them develop emotional intelligence. This skill is crucial for effective communication and empathy in relationships later in life.
Role Modeling: Fathers are important role models for their children, especially when it comes to how they interact with others. Children often emulate their father’s behaviors, attitudes, and communication styles. A good father who demonstrates respect, kindness, and effective problem-solving will influence their child’s behavior and relationships positively.
Communication Skills: Good fathering involves effective communication with children. Fathers who actively listen, engage in conversations, and encourage open dialogue help children learn how to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs, which is essential in building healthy relationships.
Conflict Resolution: Fathers who teach children how to resolve conflicts in a constructive and non-violent way provide them with essential skills for managing conflicts and maintaining healthy relationships in adulthood.
Trust and Security: A good father creates a foundation of trust and security in the parent-child relationship. This sense of trust can lead to greater trust and emotional safety in relationships later in life.
Empathy and Compassion: A father who models and nurtures empathy and compassion helps a child develop these qualities. Empathetic and compassionate individuals tend to have deeper and more meaningful connections with others.
Gender Role Development: Fathers play a critical role in shaping a child’s understanding of gender roles and relationships. A father who promotes gender equality and respect for all genders can influence their child’s attitudes and behaviors in future relationships.
Resilience and Coping Skills: A good father can teach children how to cope with adversity, setbacks, and stress. Developing resilience and effective coping strategies is valuable for handling the ups and downs of interpersonal relationships in adulthood.
Support for Independence: Fathers who provide support and encouragement for their child’s independence and individuality allow their children to develop a strong sense of self. This self-identity forms the basis for healthy relationships built on mutual respect.
In summary, good fathering has a profound and lasting impact on a child’s ability to connect with others later in life. A nurturing, supportive, and positive father-child relationship fosters emotional intelligence, secure attachment, effective communication, and other critical qualities that contribute to the child’s capacity to form and maintain healthy relationships in adulthood.
Is good fathering releavnt in producing a child with secure attachment?
Diversity of Attachment Figures: Children benefit from forming secure attachments to multiple caregivers, such as both parents. Having secure attachments with both parents allows the child to experience and learn different styles of interaction, communication, and caregiving, which can enrich their emotional development.
Complementary Parenting Styles: Mothers and fathers often bring different parenting styles and approaches to the relationship with their children. These differences can complement each other and provide a well-rounded environment for the child’s development. For example, fathers may focus more on boundary-setting and risk-taking, while mothers may emphasize nurturing and emotional support. Both perspectives are valuable for a child’s growth.
Diverse Relationships: Children are unique, and their needs and preferences in relationships may vary. Having secure attachments to both parents ensures that the child has a diverse range of relationships to turn to for emotional support, guidance, and comfort.
Balanced Roles: In many modern families, both parents share caregiving responsibilities. A child’s attachment to both parents is often a reflection of the emotional availability and responsiveness of each parent, regardless of their gender or role within the family.
Gender Neutrality: Secure attachment is not inherently linked to gender. A child can form secure attachments with individuals who fulfill their emotional needs, irrespective of whether they are a mother or father. What matters most is the caregiver’s ability to provide love, security, and responsiveness to the child’s needs.
Consistency and Stability: Consistency in caregiving is a key factor in developing secure attachment. When both parents provide a stable, loving, and responsive environment, it contributes to the child’s sense of security and trust in their relationships.
In conclusion, good fathering and good mothering are equally important in fostering secure attachment. It’s the quality of caregiving, emotional responsiveness, and the presence of a supportive, nurturing, and consistent environment that matter most in creating secure attachments. Each parent, regardless of their gender, has a unique role to play in supporting the child’s emotional and relational development.
Archetypal theory and Eric Berne’s theory of Transactional Analysis (TA) are two distinct psychological frameworks, but they can be related in terms of understanding human behavior, personality, and relationships. Here’s how they connect:
Understanding the Unconscious Mind:
Archetypal Theory: Archetypal theory, primarily associated with Carl Jung, focuses on the idea that there are universal, recurring symbols, images, and themes in the collective unconscious that influence human behavior and experiences. Archetypes represent fundamental human motivations and experiences, like the Hero, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, etc.
Transactional Analysis: Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis also delves into the unconscious mind, but it does so by analyzing ego states (Parent, Adult, Child) and transactions (interactions) between individuals. TA looks at how past experiences influence our behavior and communication patterns.
Influence on Personality:
Archetypal Theory: Archetypal symbols and themes can be seen as influencing a person’s deeper personality, shaping their values, beliefs, and motivations. Transactional Analysis: TA’s concept of ego states suggests that a person’s personality is divided into three parts: Parent, Adult, and Child. These ego states can be influenced by early life experiences and parental influences.
Archetypal Theory: Archetypal symbols and themes can manifest in communication, affecting how people express themselves and interpret others. Transactional Analysis: TA is particularly focused on communication patterns, analyzing transactions between ego states. It looks at how individuals communicate and respond to each other based on their ego states, which can be influenced by past experiences.
Self-Discovery and Self-Improvement:
Archetypal Theory: Archetypal theory can be used to help individuals explore their deeper motivations and confront their “shadows” for personal growth and self-awareness.
Transactional Analysis: Transactional Analysis is often used for self-help and personal development. It helps individuals recognize unhelpful patterns of communication and behavior, allowing them to make conscious choices for change.
Archetypal Theory: Archetypal concepts are often integrated into various forms of therapy, including Jungian psychotherapy.
Transactional Analysis: TA is a therapeutic approach on its own, used to address issues in communication, relationships, and personal growth. It focuses on helping individuals achieve healthier transactions and ego state integration.
In summary, while Archetypal Theory and Transactional Analysis have distinct origins and emphases, they both offer insights into the complexities of human behavior, personality, and communication. Integrating archetypal concepts with TA could provide a more comprehensive understanding of the unconscious influences on our interactions and personal development.
What are the main masculine archetypes?
“Warrior Magiacian Lover King” is a book by Rod Boothroyd. This book explores the archetypes of mature masculinity and is an influential work in the field of archetypal psychology.
The author discusses four main masculine archetypes:
Represents passion, connection, and vitality. The Lover archetype is about embracing emotions, relationships, and the ability to experience life fully, including sensuality and love.
These archetypes are seen as foundational aspects of the mature masculine psyche and are used to understand and explore various aspects of a man’s development and psychological well-being.
These archetypes provide a framework for understanding and exploring the psychological and emotional dimensions of the male psyche. Here’s some more information on each archetype:
The King archetype symbolizes maturity, wisdom, and a sense of benevolent authority. It is associated with qualities such as leadership, responsibility, and the ability to make fair and just decisions. A man who embodies the King archetype is a wise and compassionate leader, guiding not only himself but also those under his care. He brings order and integrity to his life and the lives of others. The King archetype is about using one’s power for the greater good, making just and moral choices, and offering protection and support to those in his realm.
The Warrior archetype represents strength, courage, and the ability to take decisive action. It embodies the warrior’s spirit, which is about fighting for what is right and just. The Warrior archetype is not limited to physical combat but also includes the determination to confront and overcome life’s challenges, whether they are internal or external. The Warrior is a protector and defender of values, principles, and those who cannot defend themselves. This archetype is about the assertion of willpower and the readiness to face adversity.
The Magician archetype is associated with wisdom, knowledge, and transformation. It represents the ability to access deeper insights and hidden truths. The Magician is a source of healing, creativity, and positive change. This archetype is about the power of understanding, the capacity to transform one’s own life, and the potential to facilitate transformation in others. The Magician archetype encourages self-discovery, intuition, and the exploration of one’s inner world.
The Lover archetype embodies passion, connection, and a deep appreciation of life’s pleasures and sensuality. It represents the capacity to experience and express a wide range of emotions and to embrace intimate relationships. The Lover archetype is about fully engaging with life, celebrating love and sensuality, and nurturing profound connections with others. It encourages men to explore their emotions, connect with their desires, and embrace vulnerability and intimacy. These archetypes can be used as a framework for self-exploration and personal development, helping men connect with different aspects of their psyche and understand the dynamics of their masculinity. While these archetypes are often applied in the context of masculinity, they can be relevant to individuals of any gender as archetypal representations of various psychological and emotional qualities.
Being able to use a relaxation exercise is always useful. You could use it to simply relax at the end of a long day at work so you don’t run around stressed once you are home with your partner (which will probably improve your relationship and love life a lot).
Or you could use it during an argument to calm down, or to fall asleep if you tend to lie awake at night worrying. Or you could use it to sooth your performance anxiety about sex. Whatever the issue, a relaxation exercise can help you with it.
All relaxation exercises work better and better the more you use them. Therefore, practice frequently – at least once a day while you are getting used to it.
There are different methods of relaxation ranging from yoga to visualization techniques. Find one which one suits you best and use it on a continuing basis.
If you feel you don’t have time to learn a relaxation exercise, well, you sure need one! If you are too stressed during the day, practice when you’re in bed, before you fall asleep. If the relaxation exercise means you do fall asleep, that’s a good sign the process is working.
You can also practice at week-ends or in the morning when you wake up. Expect to use it for a full month before you get the greatest benefits of it.
My own favorite relaxation technique is called autogenic training. It’s quite old, but very good and it works like biofeedback, but without the need for equipment.
Autogenic training is a relaxation method which uses auto-hypnosis techniques. At the start, practice in a quiet environment once a day (at least once; more often is better).
Also, while you get started stick with the first block of messages for heaviness until you can feel yourself getting heavy. Then start to add on more messages as you go along. Take your time with it, you don’t have to do it all at once.
Later when your body response to the technique, your body will follow the content of the messages and relax. Use it whenever necessary or desirable (for example after a stressful day at work while sitting on the train home or during your lunch break).
The exercise involves a state of passive awareness and it is important that your attitude towards the exercise is casual, non-striving and relaxed.
Don’t try hard at it, don’t let it become another thing you have to work at.
Just notice your body, and simply accept what happens during the exercise.
Focus your awareness on the sensations in your body.
Should your thoughts drift away, that’s ok too, just come back to your body.
In your thoughts you can wander forever, but your body is still during the exercise, apart from your heart beat and your breathing.
Your body acts like an anchor for calmness and peace. Go through the auto-hypnosis suggestions (see further down, starting off with “my right arm feels heavy”) even if they don’t seem to be working to begin with.
Simply notice how it feels, don’t try and change how relaxed you are actively, just let go into the process and at some point your arm will indeed relax and begin to feel heavy.
But before you start, do a body scan from your head downwards.
Check for any tension in your body, especially your shoulders and jaw, and relax those muscles consciously.
Allow your tongue to lie on the floor of your mouth. Maybe take a deep breath and sigh out.
Allow your mind to relax and listen to your body. You can close your eyes or keep them open as you wish.
Autogenic training works with a sequence of auto-hypnosis messages, which should be used in the order they are described here.
However, you can repeat any suggestion more often to yourself, or you can stay longer with a particular area. At the start, don’t go through the whole sequence, but maybe only the first few parts. As you are getting more comfortable with the method, add the rest of the suggestions slowly.
As with any other relaxation method, autogenic training takes practice. Take time as often as you can at the start, and as long as you want to.
If you feel any tension, emotions or agitation in your body while you’re trying to relax, simply notice it. See if you can relax anyway.
Take time later on to think about it. It might be that what you are experiencing are signs of stress, which will stop as you relax more often.
However, your body might also be sending you signals that an area needs more focused attention, like stretching exercises, Kegel exercises, different foods or a trip to the doctor to get yourself checked.
You might also experience tensions due to unreleased emotions.
Check how you’re feeling during the exercise. If you have a repeated uncomfortable feeling, see whether you can release it by shaking (anxiety), crying (sadness) or hitting cushions (anger). Or, consider psychotherapy.
At the end of the cycle you can, if you want to, include your own personal affirmation. Using affirmations with a relaxation exercise will reinforce the positive messages you’re trying to take in. You can either use existing affirmations, or you can make up your own by following a few simple rules:
1 Keep affirmations short and simple.
2 The statements need to be in the present indicative tense (I am something); never use the future tense (I will be). That only reinforces that you haven’t reached your goal yet.
3 Avoid the use of the word “try” and negatives such as “I am not smoking”. Instead, think, for example, “I am free of my addiction to tobacco and I have no cravings for a cigarette.”
4 Don’t use statements of intentions (e.g. I ought, I should to be more assertive), but rather a statement of real, possible change (I allow myself to be assertive).
5 The phrase must be acceptable to you, not make you feel silly or embarrassed.
Finally, here is the list of auto-hypnosis messages:My right arm is heavy
My left arm is heavy
Both arms are heavy
My right leg is heavy
My left leg is heavy
Both legs are heavy
My neck and shoulders are heavy
I am at peace
My right arm is warm
My left arm is warm
My right let is warm
My left leg is warm
My neck and shoulders are warm
I am at peace
My heart beat is calm and regular
My neck and shoulders are heavy
I am at peace
It breathes me
I am at peace
My solar plexus is warm
I am at peace
My forehead is cool
I am at peace
1: The formula for breathing sounds a bit odd, but it is worded that way to emphasize the passivity of your breathing. Let your breathing just happen. The solar plexus is an autonomic nerve area just below your breast bone above the stomach area. Often people hold a lot of tension there.
2: Once you get the hang of it feel free to experiment. You could combine the messages with visualizations, like the sun shining on your belly for the solar plexus one. You could also play around with different breathing patterns, or how deeply you can breath into your body. Breathing is an essential part of Tantric sexual techniques, which we will write about in another section of this website. You can stay in the relaxed space as long as you wish after having completed the sequence. If you fall asleep, great! If you might do that in places where it could be inconvenient, such as on the train home, don’t close your eyes. When you want to come back, stretch gently and give yourself time to join the outside world again.
The state of relaxation described here is a very powerful one. It is a state of mind used for the visualization of your desired objectives during a process of manifestation. If you’d like to know more about the process of manifestation by using the Law of Attraction, and establish once and for all the fact that you are a creator, then please take advantage of the possibilities….
The Psychology Of Relationships _ Recomended Reading
The idea of this part of our web site is to function like a self-help guide to some basic psychological models which can help you make sense of yourself and your partner.
It sometimes seems hard to understand your own underlying psychological agenda and it gets even harder if your psychological agenda starts interacting with your partner’s.
Not only do you have to manage your own vulnerabilities and defense mechanisms, but you can be sure that in a long term relationship you will trigger each other’s “monsters” at some point in a quite spectacular fashion. In fact, you can rely on it.
The models that follow are intended as a road map for a person’s internal processes.
Don’t forget that they are just models and they can’t describe everything, so sometimes they don’t fit and may not be adequate to describe what’s going on.
Rather than trying to fit your psychological insides into them and thinking, “God this doesn’t fit, I must be really screwed up!” feel free to make up your own theories and test them by talking to other people such as your partner about them.
If something makes sense to them too, it probably describes one aspect of you or your reality in a generally adequate way. But if you find you can’t make head nor tail of what’s going on for you, think about finding a therapist who can help you with this stuff.
1 Hunger for relationship: What is it all about?
2 Ego state model: A way to describe our psychological insides.
3 Relational needs: What are you want from each other.
4 Script: Getting a handle on a life’s worth of patterns.
5 Symbiosis: One not so good way of being in relationship.
6 Games: An even worse way of being in relationship.
7 Time structuring: How the two of you spend time together and what the other options might be.
8 Strokes: How to get the feel good factor going.
9 Discounts: What not to do.
10 Life positions: Once you’re on the right side, life looks a lot better.
The models are mostly taken from Transactional Analysis theory (or TA), which is one of the humanistic branches of psychotherapy. You will be able to find more on this models in other books or web sites on transactional analysis. If you want to read more on TA or psychology, have a look at the following books:
Vann Joines, Ian Stewart (1987) TA Today, Lifespace Publishing. This is a good introduction to the main theories of transactional analysis. However, it describes TA in quite mechanical terms. Even so, you may find some of the exercises interesting or challenging.
Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, Richard Lannon (2000) A General Theory Of Love, Vintage Books, New York. This is a superb book on neuropsychology, attachment and love. If you want to know how love makes your brain sing, this is the one to read. Enjoy!
Oliver James (2003) They F*** You Up: How to survive family life, Bloomsbury. A very good introduction to child development and what sort of personality traits result from what sort of parenting. Fascinating reading, especially some of the case examples James describes.
Alice Miller (1984) The Drama Of The Gifted Child, London, Virago Press. This is quite an old book, which describes how children adapt to their parents out of necessity and may become very defended and cold adults in the process. Miller championed the cause of the child in psychoanalysis and lays down one of the foundations for “working with your inner child.”
Alexander Lowen (1995) Joy, Penguin, Arkana. Lowen was one of the early body psychotherapists, who were interested in how defense mechanisms get laid down in our bodies. He describes how different personality styles restrict their bodies in different ways to curtail impulses or emotions. This obviously causes many problems with sexuality, so if you want to experience sex fully, have a read. It is also a fairly old book, so some of his language seems rather out of date by now.
Let’s face it, relationships are difficult. They take time, effort and dedication and there is no guarantee things will work out in the long run. However, there are some basic principles, which help to keep relationships healthy and energized. The following is an overview, with more information on additional pages.
How to make relationships work!
1 Talk to your partner
Talking to your partner about all sorts of things, especially about how you are doing with each other is essential. There is simply no way around it. If you don’t talk about yourself, your dreams, your gripes, your fears and your hopes for your relationship, how would your partner know about any of these things?
Your understanding of your partner and yourself in the relationship can only grow through communication. Otherwise it is easy to be left with your own worst assumptions, which are often based on difficult past experiences (see ego states).
2 Share power equally
The best relationships are those in which both partners feel powerful and heard. Remember that you are working together with your partner as a team. You are not running a race against each other.
You only win when both of you are happy. If you manage to out-run your partner all the time, so that you win and he or she loses, you will both lose in the end. Relationships only work when both of you win.
To make this happen, both you and your partner need to have an equal say in what happens. Dominating your partner or being dominated may feel safer in the short run, but will create a lot of problems in the future.
3 Be emotionally available
We all want to feel supported and cherished in our relationships. For that to happen we need to allow our partner to make an emotional impact on us. We need to be open to each other, rather than cut off and be distant.
For many people it is difficult to show their emotional sides, their vulnerabilities as well as their joys. If this is so for you, you may want to work on becoming more open to your partner. Being emotionally available means responding to your partner emotionally and practically. There’s more on this under relational needs.
4 Experience good times together
Relationships can get really serious and bogged down in difficulties. When work pressure builds up, children need things constantly, and other duties are pressing, it is easy for a relationship to become a mere work arrangement. Relationships thrive on fun times together.
Being able to laugh and joke together some of the time will build up emotional resources between the two of you for times when things get tough.
Make sure you have some easy, relaxed and playful times together with your partner. They will become memories you will both cherish for a long long time.
5 Invest time in each other
Our lives can be too busy, simply keeping up with work and all the necessary jobs that can take up so much time. Make sure you keep some time just for your relationship.
You will need time with your partner to re-connect and to catch up with all the little things which are happening in his or her life. The time you spend together is precious, even if you end up arguing!
At least the two of you are trying to get closer and to work things out. Having time for your partner is essential!
6 Respect each other’s differences
This is often a tricky one! When we fall in love with another person we may feel like they’re amazingly similar to ourselves. But, as we get to know them and the hard work of the relationship really begins, we find out how totally different they really are.
We may try and change them to make them more like ourselves, but, in the end we have to accept that they are difference. Our partners will always be different to us, think differently, and do things differently – and that needs to be OK with us.
To feel loving and close to someone who is very different involves acceptance. Honoring that difference and even cherishing it will bring respect and love into your relationship.
7 Stay emotionally separate
The above statement may sound strange. However, staying emotionally separate individual is about not merging with your partner, but keeping healthy boundaries.
Ultimately, we are all separate individuals and we all need to be able to manage our emotions separately. Just because your partner is feeling something doesn’t mean you have to feel it or automatically react to him or her.
Staying emotionally separate is the opposite of a co-dependent relationship where both partners need each other to regulate their emotions or self-esteem in some way.
This type of enmeshed relationship is not healthy. Staying emotionally separate means that you take full responsibility for yourself and your emotions. When we do this we are free to connect to our partners, because we want to not because we need to.
8 Be realistic about resources
Many relationships would actually work a lot better if the partners weren’t overstretching themselves.
Running a life together is really hard work. There is your home to look after, cleaning, shopping, organizational tasks, possibly children, work, and so on…and on….. The list is endless.
Remember that it may be an impossible task to do everything you think you have to in the time you have available! In our nuclear families there are only two adults to do all the jobs, which is often simply impossible.
Realizing that you may be asking too much of yourself and your partner may take the anger out of many arguments. Nobody is at fault when things don’t get done around the house if both of you are already doing all that you can! Why not consider getting help with various tasks or scale down your expectations?
9 Negotiate compromises
This goes back to the principle of team work and being able to respect your differences.
Quite often there will be times when you want different things. Instead of needing to have everything, or most things, your way, try and aim for a fair way of arranging compromises.
Both of you need to feel like you are getting some of what you want. If one of you is the one who always feels like he or she needs to give up what he or she wants to achieve a compromise, things will not work long term.
Compromises involve both people giving a little bit and gaining something in return.
10 Be physical time together
We all have an inbuilt biological drive to relate. Additionally, we are designed to experience physical contact as highly pleasurable, reassuring and enjoyable. Spending time physically close together with or without sex is really important for bonding between partners.
This could be any physical contact from holding hands, to hugging, to cuddling up somewhere together or to falling asleep in each others’ arms. Make sure you do spend some time physically close to your partner. Both men and women need physical contact which isn’t about sex as well as some which is.
11 Don’t avoid arguments
Arguments are necessary and can be extremely useful. There is no way you will always agree with your partner on matters of real importance over the next fifty years! It is impossible not to argue at some point if both of you want to be heard.
Arguing can be really productive as it means you both get to know each other and yourselves better. You may need to go over an issue many times till all has been said, but as long as you learn something new about your partner and yourself each time, this is time well spent and will be great work in creating a good relationship together.
12 Be a person in your own right
Even though you’re in a relationship, you’re still an individual. You still need to take full responsibility for your life. It is your job to make your own life satisfying, interesting, and meaningful, not your partner’s!
It is OK for both of you to have separate interests, careers, hobbies and different friends. Relationships are about closeness with another, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a person in your own right. When things get difficult in your relationship, you will need your own resources to support you through the tricky times.
Having a life of your own outside your relationship will give you more stability and satisfaction in the long run.
13 Be honest and open
There is nothing as damaging to relationships as lies and withdrawal. If you do find yourself hiding important issues from your partner, or covering your tracks with stories, please reflect on what is going on.
Your relationship will not flourish long term if you are deceiving your partner or you’re not open and honest about yourself or your reactions to him or her. If you are struggling to show yourself, work at it! If you need to go into psychotherapy to get some help with this, then do so.
Your partner can only attach to and work with what you give him or her. If you give nothing, or you’re not open about what you really think, feel or mean, things cannot grow.
13 Take responsibility for your own emotional baggage
Most of us work at this a whole life time long. And so we should. Whatever emotional baggage we have picked up in our past, including our childhood, is our responsibility to sort out.
Your partner may be able to help you with it, but ultimately we all need to sort it out ourselves. It is not our partner’s responsibility to reassure us or make us feel a particular way. It is our own responsibility. It does take real wisdom to acknowledge your own stuff and to tease it apart from what is going on right now with your partner.
This process will take time, but it must be undertaken! If you do find it difficult, get some help, but don’t keep making excuses.
14 Put your partner first
Your partner is the main attachment figure in your life, maybe with the exception of your children if you have them. Make sure you put him or her first. He or she is your family now, the main person in your life, the one who you have chosen to be with.
That means you need to value him or her in your life and treat him or her accordingly. Sometimes old relationships can intrude on the relationship with your partner, such as old friends or family. Remember though that your partner is your future and you need to invest in your future, even if that means letting go a little bit of your old loyalties to others.
15 Don’t get personal during arguments
Arguments can be extremely distressing and frustrating. We say all kinds of things to each other at these times, and maybe many of these things need to be said.
However, do not attack your partner personally, ever! You may not like what he or she is doing, but that does not give you the right to call him or her names or put him or her down as a person. It is OK to say “I really hate what you are doing …”, or even “I really don’t like you right now…”, but it is no good at all to say “You are an idiot” ands such like comments.
Always respect your partner as a person, however angry you may feel about him or her. Attacking your partner will just make it much harder to resolve the issue you have been arguing about. Remember that only when you work as a team can you win together.
17 It’s OK to apologize
Sometimes apologies are very much what is required and proper. It can put an end to ongoing disputes and ill feelings. I think that all of us will one time or another have done something that we need to apologize to our partner about.
Don’t hold back with it, your partner will often really appreciate your willingness to reflect on what’s happened and take things back. If you are apologizing for things you have done that weren’t quite OK, make sure you don’t do them again. Apologizing needs to be backed up by action to show that you really mean it.
18 Show your love
Last but not least, show your love! If you do not show it in words, emotions and actions, how would your partner know? Wouldn’t it be really tragic to think that you care very deeply for your partner, but he or she couldn’t feel it because you are not communicating it?
It is OK to show your partner how much you appreciate him or her. It will brighten up your days together and strengthen your relationship.
How To Stay Faithful In A Monogamous Relationship!
(And Still Have Great Sex!)
One of the signs of real psychological maturity is being able to accept your partner as they are, regardless of who and what they are.
You can’t fix or change someone else. You can only fix or change yourself, through a process of gradual growth and development.
You can’t make your partner be, or do, who or what you want. You have no right to expect them to meet your needs, either: that isn’t what they’re in the relationship for. If it happens, fantastic. If it doesn’t, so be it.
None of this means that you have to like what’s happening, and none of this means that you can’t explain how you feel about it all.
What it actually means is that by letting our partners be who they are, in every way, and by accepting that, you will experience true intimacy because you’ve let go of the expectations and demands which get in the way of emotional connection when you want somebody to be something they aren’t or don’t want to be. For example, the quickest way to push somebody away may be to demand emotional closeness.
The best sex may or may not be with a soul mate.
Well, it depends what you mean by soul mate. We’ve probably all had good friends of the opposite sex we would never have wanted to get into bed with. However, what seems true is that sex can feel better and more rewarding when you are making love to a man or woman with whom you have a very close emotional relationship.
Maybe you’ve had a friend with whom you have had sex, but afterwards you mutually agreed, perhaps even without mentioning the subject to each other, never to do it again. And the reason for this is that best friends do not generally have sex. Where closeness is important to a person, in particular if they came from a close family, it may be really important to keep sex and friendship separate.
If they get too mixed up, sex may die very quickly (it’s like having sex with a close family member). Actually, many things contribute to good sex, most of them about your personality and your capacity to be intimate with your partner.
You can be selfish during sex!
But if you are not going to be selfish during sex, how will you know when you have achieved the greatest pleasure?
Not being selfish implies focusing on your partner, and by doing that you deprive yourself of the awareness of your own sexual fulfilment.
Not only that, but if you’re a man focusing on your relationship partner rather than yourself you probably also deprive yourself of the awareness of the level of sexual arousal you have reached, which means you deprive yourself of the awareness you need to control your ejaculation.
One answer to this is to focus entirely on your own sexual pleasure for a while; not permanently — just for a while until you establish what it is that you want from sex, and what you actually feel during sex. Only by doing this will you be able to communicate your wishes and needs and desires to your partner.
So why would you not be selfish during sex from time to time? I am not suggesting that grabbing what you want and making off with it (metaphorically speaking) is a good thing: I’m just saying that sometimes it may be helpful to get what you want without thought of your partner’s needs.
However, that is no excuse for not treating premature ejaculation. Neither is an excuse for avoiding sex altogether, whether by means of developing erectile dysfunction, avoiding sex by avoiding any situation which might become sexual with your partner, or by creating arguments within the relationship.
One of the exercises which we cover later allows one partner at a time to be the focus of the whole attention of the other, in other words to selfishly take without having to give.
This exercise is often a revelation to people, because it puts them back in touch with their most basic sexual needs and their own sensuality, teaching them what their body can do during sex to make them feel good.
Paradoxically, it’s only by being selfish that you can be a generous lover, because it’s only by being selfish that you can really establish what sex means you.
You do not have to keep up with a certain standard
Whether that average is the number of times you have sex each week, or the size of your breasts, or the size of your penis, or the amount you ejaculate, or the number of orgasms you have every time you make love.
But the problem is that an average means half the population will be doing it more often, or be bigger, and the other half of the population will be doing it less often, or be smaller. And in some cases they’ll be very much less or more than the average.
So what does it mean if you learn that the average couple is having sex twice a week at age 35?
Suppose you are 35 and your sexual drive means that you want sex once a month? Is it appropriate to be looking at the average and believing that you should keep up with it?
If your sexual life is fulfilling, and you’re doing everything that you want, and you’re having a good time, the answer is clearly no.
Similarly if you want sex twice a day, every day, is it appropriate to look at the average? Of course not. The only average that matters is your average, not what everybody else is doing (or says they’re doing — because actually most people lie about sex and you can’t believe much of what you hear).
In addition, don’t forget that there is inevitably a diminution of sexual interest with age. You cannot expect to have the same sexual responses at 50 that you had at 40, 30 or 20 years of age.
Erectile dysfunction may strike at any age, and its consequences can be devastating, both in terms of the relationship and the sexual elements within it.
Everyone else is having better sex than you are.
This is partly a product of our culture where features in the newspapers, television and magazines offer free, copious advice on how to have mind-blowing sex, pleasure your man/woman, have multiple orgasms every time you have sex, and equally ridiculous and unachievable objectives. Truth is, there’s no point being envious of what you think other people are doing.
For one thing, even if they are doing it, it’s their experience, not yours, and has no relevance to you. Ignoring how satisfying or fulfilling your own relationship / sex life is, by distracting yourself with thoughts of how happy, fulfilled, sexually active, or potent other couples might or might not be is taking the focus off your relationship and making it less likely that you will achieve sexual fulfilment and more intimacy.
These things tend to come from a monogamous long term relationship where two people have achieved real intimacy and emotional understanding.
Affairs “just happen”.
The reality is that many of us have affairs. Estimates vary, but probably up to 50% of men and women within established couples have sex with someone outside the relationship, maybe just once, maybe more often than that.
A high proportion of these people will say, when asked why they did it, “It just happened, I couldn’t help myself.”
But this is dishonest on many levels. There is always a point at which everyone in a committed relationship decides whether or not they would stay faithful if the opportunity to have sex with another person arose.
That’s a decision you’ve probably already made, even if you don’t know it yet. Ask yourself, if a situation arose that offered you the “right” partner in the “right” circumstances (often meaning you were dismayed and unhappy with the way your relationship was going), would you or wouldn’t you have sex with them?
Yes or No? So now you know – you can actually decide to stay faithful or not. It’s good to make that choice, because when the temptation arises you will know what you’re going to do. Idealistic?
Possibly, but it avoids the dishonesty of pretending that an affair “just happened” on the spur of the moment. They never do, even when a person’s under the influence of drink or drugs.
The reason affairs happen is because somebody sees in another person’s some quality or opportunity that they believe they lack in their own long term relationship. It may be emotional intimacy, or it may be sexual experience, or it may even just be the chance to express lustful desire.
But the irony is that all of these qualities can be expressed within a permanent, committed, monogamous relationship if you try hard enough. And there’s the rub!
It isn’t that these things are impossible – it’s just that we don’t know how to do them. We don’t know how to achieve the degree of intimacy that seems attractive with a new partner.
We can’t imagine how to try the sexual experimentation that we so long for when sex and communication seems to have died out in our own relationship. So, rather than turning to a new partner, why not try the program for an exciting sexual life that’s described on this website?
If you try it and you still find that your relationship is going nowhere, you have other choices. I have heard of men (and women) who have said that having an affair has kept their relationship together; and I have heard from men (and women) who have said that having an affair has ended their relationship.
It’s worthwhile pointing out that if somebody ends a relationship and moves to live with their new partner from the affair, more often than not they find themselves back at square one in no time at all — except that there is the additional burden of a broken family, damaged children, disrupted lifestyle, financial distress and who knows what else to cope with.
A woman who wants romance, excitement and the thrill of passion may turn to the heightened sensations of an affair with a man who seems to provide these qualities. Somebody who’s guilty about having sex at home may end up having it outside the house, perhaps with a prostitute or in an affair. And so on.
One thing’s for sure: there is always a reason why affairs happen. It’s exciting to be obsessed with another person, to be consumed by sexual desire and lust.
To enjoy a passionate, possibly illicit, liaison in a hotel or even in the marital bed can be tremendously exciting. But these affairs tend to mix fantasy and reality in a damaging way; the fantasy is often an idealistic fantasy of how things could be or should be or might be, not how they actually turn out to be.
Bear in mind too that having an affair is a definite step away from your relationship. An affair may not end your relationship, but it certainly will change it in some way. After all, relationships – or most of them – have some implicit commitment to sexual faithfulness over the long term.
This is particularly true if you happen to be a person who believes that sex should always be conducted within a committed relationship. No matter how you justify an affair to yourself, if you end up switching relationships, you may well find that nothing much has changed when you’re in the new relationship.
An affair always raises the question of why you got into a relationship with a particular person to start with: whatever those reasons were, are they no longer important to you?
I don’t want to deny the possibility that circumstances change so much that a new relationship is sometimes appropriate; it just seems to me that it’s more honest to end one relationship before you start the next. And to do that, you really need to have come to the final conclusion that your existing relationship cannot be sustained over the long term, even if you have tried everything that seems reasonable to preserve it.
Many people end up in affairs saying something like: “It just seemed natural to move from a friendship to a sexual relationship.” But you need to ask yourself what is driving the force that led you to think the affair would be so much more rewarding than your existing relationship?
As I said above, fantasy often turns out to be nowhere as good as reality. And if you’re thinking of accommodating an affair outside your relationship while still maintaining that original relationship, keep in mind that this will put a tremendous strain on you: it’s not a natural situation, and few people find it easy to sustain the deception.
If you cast your mind back to the discussion on how we turn ourselves off, which is what we seem to do during sex with our regular, committed monogamous partner, you may see how easy it can be (if you want to do so) to turn yourself off to the fantasy of sex with your affair or potential affair. (This is a way of staying faithful: you think negatively about your affair.)
For example, imagine the distress of your children when you leave them, instead of the happiness of the sex with your affair. Imagine the financial consequences instead of peaceful, serene dinners together followed by romantic sex.
Imagine having five more children under the age of eight while supporting your original family on maintenance with visiting rights once a month. No doubt there are many other ways you could turn yourself off to the thought of an affair, but in the end it’s a matter of choice.
It’s also clear to me that a lot of people who spend enormous amounts of time and energy working at an affair, hiding it from their partner, sustaining the interest of the new sexual partner, and so on, could expend that energy on their own existing relationship.
Likewise, the thrills and excitement you may feel with your lover can be put into your existing relationship if you really want to; the passionate sex can be a part of your current relationship; the energy and pride you feel can be transmuted into security, trust and love within your existing relationship.
Archetypes are templates or patterns which shape the way we think, feel, and behave.
Take an example: if I say the word Warrior, you instantly know what I mean. And the same is true if I speak of a Magician, or a King, or a Father. These are all human archetypes, each of which can take many different forms.
Carl Jung was the first person to realise that archetypes are something we all have in common, and he believed they resided in what he called the “collective unconscious”. Nowadays most people see them as stored in the unconscious mind, like permanent programs etched into the memory of a computer chip.
And what do archetypes actually do for us? Perhaps it’s easiest to think of them as genetically determined potentials or possibilities for different aspects of our personality. The exact way in which a particular archetype will be expressed in each of us will be influenced by our individual experience of life and the culture in which we live.
The important point about these archetypes is that they’re common to all humanity. They’re like an internal foundation upon which every man and every woman builds their own particular experience of life. To make the point again, the way in which each archetype finds its expression in an individual man or woman will be shaped by what they learn for themselves, what they learned about life from their parents, and influences from their cultural background.
The archetypes I work with are the Sovereign (the King or Queen), the Warrior, the Magician, and the Lover.
Many writers have adapted those names and come up with words they believe are more representative of the energy in each archetype. For example:
However, for me the original names really sum up the main areas of our personality. Here’s a brief introduction to each of them.
The Sovereign Archetype
The Sovereign archetype within you is either a King or a Queen. This is the part of you responsible for leadership in your life. It has responsibility for finding your vision, giving you a sense of purpose and direction in the world, and running your life in the best possible way. This is the part of you that makes (or at least should make!) the important decisions about how to live your life, what career to follow, where to live, and how to manage your Kingdom, your particular realm.
Your Kingdom might be your family, your business, your circle of friends, your own life, or maybe all of those and more. Whatever it is, your Sovereign is the leader in each area. When his energy is expressed fully, your Sovereign makes you a mature, decisive, powerful and potent leader.
And, just as every Sovereign throughout history has been responsible for “holding” the wounds of his kingdom, and ensuring the safety and protection of the citizens of the realm, so your own internal Sovereign is responsible for holding your emotional wounds and finding ways for you to grow into your full potential.
The work on the human shadow and archetypes is work I’ve done in one form or another with men and women over the past twenty years. It leads me to believe that the most deficient archetype in our world today, certainly the least expressed, is the Sovereign. Here’s a book on shadow and archetypes, including the Sovereign that explains it all. You only need to look at our political system to see how true this is.
The Warrior Archetype
The Warrior is an archetype which is all about taking action in the world and setting boundaries.
To operate at his highest level, a Warrior needs a strong Sovereign to control him and send him out on missions which serve a purpose – to protect people in the kingdom, to defend the boundaries of the kingdom, or simply to get things done.
Warriors can fight from an offensive or defensive position, depending on what’s needed of them. But the world could well do without the warlike quality of the Warrior, which is why I prefer to think of the Warrior in terms of male energy, an energy which is simply about taking action in the world, about getting things done. Some people call this archetypal energy “The Worker”. In either case, warrior energy is all about setting boundaries, accomplishing tasks, and achieving objectives.
The Magician Archetype
Many names have been used for the Magician archetype, including the Sage, the Witch, the Wizard, and a whole lot of other things – Trickster, Wise Woman, Mystic, and so on. They all come down to the same thing: the Magician’s main motivation is problem solving and coming up with solutions, for this is an archetype concerned with thinking in all its forms – rational thinking, creative thinking, logical thinking, and creativity.
This is the archetype which serves the Sovereign as an adviser or counsellor. The Magician finds solutions to problems and creates ways around difficulties; he likes an intellectual challenge. It’s an archetype that’s abundantly present in the world today, particularly in the world of hi-tech industry and technological development.
As we shall see, there are both advantages and disadvantages to the abundance of Magician energy in the world today: in some ways it helps us, but in other ways it can be quite destructive, because Magicians aren’t so much concerned with the emotional consequences of their actions as simply meeting the challenge presented to them.
The Magician is also the part of us which comes up with strategies to keep us safe when we’re children. For kids who are raised in less than perfect environments, or even in downright abusive environments, the part of the Magician we call the Safety Officer or Risk Manager is vital: he creates strategies which keep the child as safe as possible, even in circumstances that can’t really be controlled. One of the challenges we all face in life, though, is that the Risk Manager continues to play out those strategies for the rest of our lives, even when the need for them has long since passed. This can be unhelpful and limiting, as we’ll see when we look at the Magician in more detail later in the book.
You may think of sex and romantic love when we refer to the Lover archetype, but that isn’t really what the Lover is all about. The archetypal energy of the Lover is much more primal than the expression of sexuality: it’s about establishing connection with other human beings. We are social animals, and when we don’t have the opportunity to meet others and connect with them on a social level, we may descend into mental disorder and even madness. You see this in prisoners who are kept in solitary confinement.
The Lover is a primal archetype, probably the first one to appear after birth, because our first and most urgent need as a helpless baby is to bond with mother. Our very survival depends on it. Our Lover archetype helps us to do this: it’s programmed to connect with other people from the moment we appear in the world. In fact, the power of this drive is immense, yet it’s not consciously felt by most people, even though it controls much of what we do, and how we are in the world, as adults.
One of the unavoidable problems with such a powerful urge to bond is that it can never be fully satisfied – it’s impossible for any child to have all of his or her needs met perfectly. That would require a perfect parent, and as far as I’m aware there’s no such thing. So every one of us is inevitably hurt or wounded, at least to some extent, in our Lover archetype. The same is true of our other archetypes too. Here’s some more information about how you can train to work as a shadow facilitator and help others ot heal their emotional wounds.
Unfortunately many children are born into an environment where their needs are barely acknowledged, let alone adequately met, and their lives are subsequently blighted by the pain of connections never made, or made and broken. We’ll see how this can affect a person’s entire life later in the book. Addictions, dependency and neediness are some of the most common outcomes of emotional wounds in this archetype.
The Nature Of Emotional Wounds
Obviously, we do not all have equal amounts of sovereign, magician, lover and warrior energy. This is because what happens to each of us during childhood influences the growth of the archetypes within each of us in a very particular way. There are techniques o rebalance the archetypes. You simply need to find a facilitator who is skilled enough to help you with this work.
In an ideal world, all the archetypal energies would find a fully mature and healthy expression in each of us so we could all achieve our full potential. In reality, we are all emotionally hurt or “wounded” in various ways during childhood, and this wounding can inhibit or transform the way an archetypal energy is expressed later in life.
The good news is our emotional wounds can be a catalyst for change. But until you’ve worked with an experienced facilitator who understands how to access the unbalanced, repressed or shut down energy in your archetypes, and restore balance and full potency to each of your archetypes, it’s hard to imagine how powerful this method of working on yourself can be, in any and every area of life.
Where there are archetypes, there is also shadow. Your shadow is the part of your unconscious where you put all of the energies, emotions, thoughts, feelings and behaviours that for some reason or another were not acceptable when you were a child. Not acceptable, that is, either to you or to the people around you.
Robert Bly wrote about how a child is born into the world with a 360 degree personality – an all-round, complete, whole personality. This, as Alice Miller put it, is the child’s gift to the world: his arrival in the world, “trailing clouds of glory”. Fortunate indeed is the child who discovers a world which welcomes his wholeness and glory, the gift of himself, just as he is.
Many, perhaps most, children do not. Instead, they soon discover their parents do not want the gift they have to offer, at least not in the form on offer. Their parents wanted something different. A boy not a girl, or a girl not a boy. A quiet baby, or a compliant child. A “good” boy or a “feisty” girl. An amenable child, not a defiant, angry one. A placid child, not a needy, demanding one.
Whatever, a child soon learns which parts of himself need to be suppressed for maximum love to be bestowed upon him; and the parts which are not wanted by the world usually get shoved forcibly into the child’s unconscious, into what Robert Bly aptly termed the “Shadow Bag”.
This attempt to suppress those parts of his energy which are not acceptable to the all-powerful adults, siblings, or peers in his world can massively impact every aspect of a child’s later life. So much so that one day he (or she) may well try to find the parts of himself he senses are missing, or wondering why he has such unhelpful patterns in his life.
To take a simple example, children often repress their power, their magnificence, and their glory, all qualities that make them stand out and shine in the world – or at least, qualities that could make them stand out and shine in the world if they were supported emotionally in their growth through life.
There’s a big problem here. What you put into shadow doesn’t lose its energy – far from it. Imagine a child who puts his anger into shadow because his parents don’t like that particular energy in their little boy, or a child who suppresses his tears and pain because Dad doesn’t like his little boy crying; in fact Dad thinks it shows the boy is a sissy, and somehow the boy knows that, even when Dad doesn’t explicitly say it. The message always gets through somehow.
And so, to please his all-powerful parents, on whom the child knows his survival depends, the child may well repress his anger, sadness and weakness – or any other quality which his parents don’t accept or approve of.
But putting these feelings and behaviours out of sight, out of mind, into the unconscious mind, into the shadow bag, doesn’t take their energy away: in fact their energy can intensify. They are a part of who the child is, and they continue to be energetically supported by his psyche.
These shadow energies can make us behave in ways that cause difficulties in relationships. Shadow energies make us do things which cause embarrassment and shame. They often take the form of unmanageable emotions: guilt, depression, shame, rage, jealousy, sadness, and so on. They are irrational. They make us say things we regret and which destroy harmony and goodness in our relationships. We do not understand what comes out of our shadow, and no matter how much we try to control it, nothing ever seems to change.
Video – what is in the shadow?
The point about shadow energies is that they’re out of our awareness (it’s dark in the shadow bag!) and when they emerge into the light, they often do so unexpectedly and unhelpfully. They get in the way of us expressing who we are, getting what we want, telling others what we expect and desire, and expressing our needs. In fact, to put it another way, shadow energies stop us being we truly are!
Our shadow can prevent us from getting into relationships, or ruin existing relationships. It can keep us lost in a cycle of addiction, unable to stop self-defeating behaviours. Shadow makes people compulsively behave in ways which are harmful to them, and seek out things which are destructive to them, and it all happens in a way they can’t understand and which makes no rational sense.
What we do in my highly effective system of “healing the shadow” is to make the unconscious conscious. We take the parts of yourself you stuffed away as a child out of shadow and bring them back into the light, honour them, heal or transform them if necessary, make them a positive and helpful part of you, and finally integrate them into the essence of who you are today.
Some people call this “working with the shadow” or “shadow work”. I call it emotional process work or “healing the shadow”. Whatever you call it, this is all about getting your sabotaging, holding-back, limiting and generally now unhelpful parts out of shadow and giving you control over them so you can access their energy in a helpful form.
In short, together we can make your shadow energy available to you in a healthy, emotionally mature way to use in your life today.
And if that sounds exciting, so it should!
You’ll discover how to step into your power. You’ll become more emotionally mature, stronger, more independent, more balanced, and better able to give and receive love. You’ll be more able to set healthy boundaries, you’ll become a stronger and more powerful leader in your life.
You’ll develop the strength and will to get things done more effectively, think more clearly and stop making harsh judgements about yourself and others. You’ll develop a much easier relationship with love, so you can give and receive genuine love freely. In fact, just about every other problem that you have in your interactions with other human beings will simply melt away over time.
Indeed, there’s plenty of evidence that being in relationship actually helps people live longer and suffer lower levels illness and disease. It would seem that we are actually designed to be social creatures – which is hardly surprising, when you think about our ancestry – all of the great apes are extremely social, depend on relationships in the tribe for successful defense against competing bands of apes, gathering food, and successful raising of offspring.
Video on the benefits of relationship
In this situation, it’s hardly surprising that when a relationship breaks up people experience such high levels of anxiety, depression, worthlessness and fear! These are all common responses to the breakup of a relationship, although its also equally common for people to experience anger and depression.
This in turn explains why its so important to most people to keep a relationship going even when that relationship appears to have gone beyond its sell by date – although, in fact, relationships can almost always be sustained, and there are very good arguments for making sure that you do put the maximum amount of effort into sustaining a relationship even when it appears that divorce or separation is inevitable – particularly if you have children. I’m not trying to proselytise on behalf of lifelong faithfulness, just trying to point out that there are benefits to relationships which affect every aspect of your life, socially, physically, emotionally and probably even spiritually.
(So I do strongly recommend that you seriously consider how you might stay together with your partner rather than how you might breakup.)
If you’re already in the throes of a breakup, then you might want information about reconnecting with your partner, because most people who breakup from a long-term relationship – and some who breakup from a short term relationship – often feel they’ve made the most appalling mistake, and want to get back with their partner as soon as possible.
In general, what we find as relationship therapists is that people breakup because they can’t communicate effectively: that, and the fact that the issues which arose in their childhoods, and which to haunt them to this day, are still uppermost in their minds.
Learn how to reconnect with your ex partner
Remember we’re talking here about a context here in which its people find they have separated and that the separation makes them feel worse in every way, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
There are many clear advantages to be gained from being (or staying) in relationship, and it’s no wonder that people desperately seek out such a situation in life. As social creatures were all programmed to be in relationship, not just for the emotional and physical relief we get from sexual pleasure, but also from the interaction of ideas, from the support and emotional well-being that comes from having a partner to talk to about our difficulties and problems, and also, inevitably, from the fact that we need to communicate to maintain our social status.
In situations like this, breaking up can be very hard to do – indeed, deleterious to health in every way. Advice about staying together can be obtained very easily from all sorts of places on the Internet. For example: read about forming a relationship here..
Where things go wrong, I suspect, is in the blind faith of the people who expect an instant solution without putting the time and effort involved in that is needed to sustain any relationship over a long period of time. This involves meeting, getting to know, and developing a deeper love with your partner.
My own view is that a relationship is much more likely to be successful if you start with the expectation of liking somebody (not loving them).
You see, liking comes from a feeling of closeness and affection derived from a mutual understanding and a degree of empathy.
How easy is it to love a man whole-heartedly?
What’s essential, I think, in any process like this is that you seek to engage with somebody who has essentially the same values, beliefs and attitudes as yourself. Without that, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that (at least in the longer term) a relationship won’t survive.
In the short term, however, likeability and liking a much more tied into particular behaviours: empathising, reflective listening, paying attention, being fully present your partner, and indeed simple things like apologising when somebody’s upset.
You might think it extraordinary, but there is plenty of evidence which demonstrates very clearly indeed that simple apologies, offered to your partner even when you don’t believe you’ve done something wrong, can really make a big difference to a relationship’s chances of survival.
Another thing that’s important is maintaining a positive attitude to your partner. It turns out that when people offer less than five positive affirmations for every negative interaction in a relationship, the prospect of long-term survival of the relationship is really quite low.
What I think I take away from this is that there are simple things that you can do which are very helpful in sustaining a relationship. But in addition, you do need to do the deeper work to get rid of emotional baggage from the past.
And by the way, nowhere is this more true than in the field of sexual problems.
If either the man or the woman in a partnership has some issue with sex or some kind of sexual dysfunction, be it low sex drive, premature ejaculation or whatever, then it’s extremely important to attend to this, to find a therapist who is capable of dealing with it, and to get it sorted out. (A very good way of dealing with the hidden issues which can cause both physical and emotional difficulties in relationships is shadow work. You can read about that here.)
The reason? When a couple are making love successfully in a relationship and in particular when the woman’s having regular orgasms, we know that the relationship will be much more stable and happy outside the bedroom than it will be if the sexual connection between the partners is failing or non-existent.
One of the big issues for all of us in our society is entering into a relationship which makes is happy – and which can be sustained over time.
One of the reasons we seem to have such difficulty with relationships – whether entering into them, staying in them, or leaving them – is that we aren’t taught by anyone, at any time in our lives, the things we need to know to deal with the emotions associated with a relationship effectively.
An obvious fact of life is that we all want to be in a good quality relationship, and we all want to have a partner we can love. No wonder, perhaps, in a society where more than half of all marriages end in divorce! Yet one has to ask oneself whether or not the Internet is the best place to get relationship advice. It’s an unregulated field, naturally, and the people who offer e-books and information on how to have a good quality relationship generally don’t seem to be qualified facilitators in shadow work.
Managing one’s own anxiety is a key task to being a successful adult. Life is full of uncertainties, a fact we have to accept and live with.
To be able to relax, enjoy life and take appropriate risks, it is essential that people are able to tolerate and regulate their own anxiety and fear.
Regulating one’s anxiety levels is a skill humans learn in childhood through developing a secure attachment. However, not all of us are fortunate to learn this skill or learn it well enough when we are children.
Part of the mechanism for having good control over one’s emotions is in developing full emotional maturity.
How does that happen, you may well ask?
The answer may lie in going through those processes for which we have developed natural needs – initiation rituals being chief among them.
Managing one’s own anxiety is an essential task for your relationship. Loving somebody entails taking big risks, trusting someone else, investing in him or her, and letting him or her make their own choices.
This often brings up a lot of anxiety and fear for people. It is important that we take responsibility for our own anxiety and learn to manage it, rather than ask our partners to ‘make it better’ for us, for example by asking for constant reassurance or by trying to control them.
How to manage anxiety
Just to stress the point again: Managing one’s anxiety is a key task of being an adult human being and taking responsibility for oneself. It is also a difficult task and will take effort and practice.
First of all, anxiety will always be part of our lives and we need to develop a certain level of tolerance to feeling anxious.
It is not possible to live life without anxiety. As self-aware beings, who can think about many possible futures and we can always make up scenarios about which we can worry. Also, we need to take appropriate risks in our lives. If we could keep ourselves as safe as possible we would never leave our houses nor live a fulfilling life.
Anxiety is part of our bodies, a natural response, which alerts us to potential danger. Just like physical pain it is uncomfortable, but really necessary to guide us in life. It is OK and natural to feel anxious some of the time.
Part of managing anxiety successfully is to accept that it will be part of your life.
For example, some of the time we may worry about our partner leaving us. This is part of the price we pay for attaching and loving the other in the first place.
Accepting a certain level of anxiety means we don’t let it stop us living life or investing in someone. Also, accepting it means we don’t make things worse by ruminating too much about why we are anxious, or criticizing ourselves for feeling that way.
However, anxiety can grow into fear, or even panic. In that case it can be one of the most stressful and uncomfortable experiences we can have. If anxiety goes beyond levels we can accept and tolerate we need to actively manage and regulate it:
Regulating anxiety involves three levels, which all need to be addressed:
Anxiety can greatly influence our thinking in a way that isn’t rational. We may easily go into catastrophizing, i.e. imagining the worst possible nightmare to become true. However, this is your imagination going wild and often has no basis in real life.
Managing your anxiety on a thinking level involves looking at all the evidence rationally.
Is there any real reason for you to be anxious? For example, do you have any real evidence that your partner doesn’t love you anymore? Would this evidence sound rational and substantial to your best friend or a colleague at work?
It helps to check out our ‘evidence’ with others to see whether we have blown things out of proportion or not.
In terms of transactional analysis theory, we would say we need to make an assessment about your fears from the Adult ego state. Or, in other words: from a rational perspective based on your abilities and knowledge as an adult today, is there anything to be anxious about?
If yes, is there anything practical you can do about the situation?
We’d like to point out that one of the most practical things you can do is to consult with a counselor who may be able to reduce your anxiety with practical interventions.
For example, you may worry about getting cancer because you are smoking. There is plenty of evidence that there is a link between smoking and cancer and it’s reasonable to get worried about it.
The next step then is: will you do something about it? You could stop smoking, take up exercise and eat a healthy diet. In this case your fears are appropriate and can help you to make a change for the better in your life.
However, say you are still anxious about getting cancer even after stopping smoking and living a healthier life style? In this case, ask yourself again: is there anything else that you can do practically to improve the situation?
It is possible that the answer is “no”. You cannot undo the fact that you did smoke in the past, or that people get cancer, whether they have smoked or not.
In this case one has to accept that life involves risks.
We cannot change those existential facts and need to make our peace with them.
We need to manage the residual anxiety, as we cannot change anything about how things are.
At this point you may know in your thinking that you cannot do anything else to minimize risks or uncertainties, but you are still feeling anxious. Anxiety is often irrational.
Therefore, it also needs to be addressed on an emotional and physical level. However, it is important that you hold on to the fact that your anxiety is irrational and that you have thought in depth about the practicalities behind it and come to a well thought through conclusion.
Don’t let the remaining irrational fears seduce you into going over the practical evidence again and again. Hold on to your rational conclusions and move on to managing your anxiety on an emotional and physical level.
Apart from influencing our thinking, anxiety is also an emotional and physical process. On an emotional level we experience ourselves as scared, panicky or terrified when we feel anxious. Within the transactional analysis model we locate irrational fears in the child ego state.
Another way of looking at irrational fears is that they are a memory of how scared we were as children, which we experience in response to hear and now situations as if the fear is about today.
Any anxiety or fear which seems out of proportion to today’s events or which is irrational and out of context will most likely be about the past rather than the present.
Anxiety is often left over from childhood as it has a lot to do with attachment. Building up a secure attachment with your main caregiver as a baby results in feelings of safety, trust in the world, and trust in oneself.
However, if we do not feel securely attached, or our caregivers are at some point absent, depressed, or anxious and stressed themselves, we do not get enough help with managing early anxieties about being in the world.
We then need to practice this skill as adults to learn to manage anxiety better.
Anxiety which is left over from the past may be experienced extremely powerfully in the present.
This is because as children we do not yet have the emotional or physical ability to regulate anxiety successfully. It is as if our brains and minds are not yet ready to manage anxiety and we need an adult to support us with this process.
The child will experience anxiety as all-consuming or unbearable due to the lack of physical and emotional maturity to be able to regulate it.
If we re-experience the same anxiety today as adults, we also tend to experience the level of anxiety as all-consuming or unbearable, although we now have the potential to regulate the anxiety and certainly will survive feeling it.
To regulate anxiety on an emotional level we need to support ourselves in the same way a good and available adult would have done in the past.
We need to soothe ourselves by being kind to ourselves, maybe using positive statements about ourselves, and telling ourselves that we will be OK and that we have done all the practical steps we could take to solve the situation.
Therefore, we need to reassure ourselves, accept that the anxiety will be there, and not panic about it.
If we panic about anxiety, we get even more anxious as we build up anticipatory anxiety: we get anxious about being anxious.
This can become a vicious cycle. At this point simply accept the anxiety that you’re feeling right now and keep your thoughts in the present rather than letting your mind drift to dwell on all sorts of possibilities in the future. Keep reminding yourself that it is normal and natural to feel anxious.
If you have checked out your thinking, you can reassure yourself that your anxiety will be about the past not the present and that the present situation is safe, or as safe as can be given life’s uncertainties. Beyond that there is no point worrying as “whatever will be, will be”.
Keep reminding yourself that you are safe here and now, despite feeling anxiety from the past.
You did survive your past experiences and you can now learn to settle and regulate your anxiety efficiently. Also, because the fear will be about the past, there will only be so much left for you to experience.
It is as if what is left over from the past is only a limited amount. Experiencing it, talking about it, making sense of it and integrating it will mean at some point it will all be gone. Look forward to that point!
It may help you to keep doing practical tasks such as house work or to do exercise. Make sure you get time to switch off by reading a good novel or watching a film.
It is OK to distract yourself for a while. You can also write in a journal or talk to friends about what you are experiencing. Try to avoid drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks and eating sugary foods. Good nutrition will keep your blood sugar levels steady and help you to feel balanced.
Anxiety is probably the most primitive emotion we experience. In evolutionary terms, it belongs to older parts of the brain than our other emotions, as it is concerned with pure survival. Fear and anxiety put our bodies on alert and in extreme cases we go into the fight, flight or freeze mode.
It is important to acknowledge the physiological aspect of anxiety. Even with the most rational thinking and self reassurance techniques we may not able to stop the physical aspects of anxiety: the rapid heart beat, rapid breathing, muscular tension, physical responses of bowel and bladder, and a general state of stress or alarm.
To control the physical symptoms of anxiety we need to put in place physical exercises.
Firstly, a bit more information about the body and our nervous system. The nervous system, which helps us to operate our bodies from the neck downwards, can be divided into two parts, the voluntary motor system and the autonomous nervous system.
The voluntary system is under the control of our will and means we can move muscles, for example as we lift our arms. The autonomous nervous systems is beyond the control of our will.
It functions automatically in our bodies and keeps everything working. It regulates digestion, blood pressure, heart rate, the immune system and so forth.
The autonomous nervous system can be divided into two parts, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. They function antagonistically, this means it is an either-or system.
If one mode is switched on, the other is necessarily switched off and vice versa. It is as if your body has two main modes to operate in: The sympathetic is the ‘on’ switch, and the parasympathetic resembles an ‘off’ mode.
When our bodies are in the sympathetic mode they are switched on to work.
Our heart rate is higher, our breathing is faster, the blood gets routed to the muscles and away from our digestive system. Adrenaline and stress hormones go round our system to keep us on alert, whereas our immune and repair systems are turned down. This means our body is active. We may be exercising, playing, having sex or doing things at work.
Additionally, this is the mode your body is in when you are anxious or stressed.
In extreme circumstances we are on full alert, meaning our bodies are set up for the fight or flight response. We experience this physiological state as stress, anxiety or panic (or, if it has an enjoyable context, as excitement). Our bodies show the signs we associate with stress and anxiety: fast heart beat, fast breathing, high blood pressure, adrenaline, and possibly restlessness and agitation.
On the other hand, if our bodies are in the parasympathetic mode we are in the rest mode. Our heart rate is slow and comfortable, our breathing is deep and slow, our blood pressure is low.
Our blood gets re-routed to the digestive system and internal organs and our immune system gets more active. The body digests and repairs itself.
This is the mode our bodies are in when we feel relaxed and calm, the opposite of anxious.
Managing anxiety needs to involve all three systems: thinking, emotions and the body. If your thinking is rational and you are emotionally reassuring yourself, however, your body is in the alert mode or the sympathetic, you will still feel anxious and agitated!
Fortunately, there is a way of switching from one body mode to the other, which is under our voluntary control: our breathing.
We can take conscious control over our breathing and breath slowly and deeply. This is the switch our bodies need to switch from an ‘on’ mode to ‘off’.
Concentrating on breathing slowly and deeply for 5-10 minutes whilst relaxing your body will mean the physical anxiety response will subside.
This does take some time as your body needs to readjust your heart rate and adrenaline levels.
However, if you keep focusing on your breathing your body will switch off! When you do this, make sure your thinking stays focused on the reality around you, here and now, which is safe. If you let your mind wander to all sorts of scary possibilities in the future your body will not get a chance to switch off.
Many different ancient and modern techniques are based on this principle. Any physical excises, which have a focus on relaxation and breathing will help you with this task, such as meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, Shadow Work, or Autogenic Training. These techniques will work best when used regularly. Their usefulness and effectiveness will improve over time with practice.
If you are struggling to regulate your anxiety, please invest in one of those techniques. They are invaluable tools for your life. It is worthwhile to practice and practice them as they will improve the quality of your life and your relationship tremendously!
Hopefully, by applying all three strategies and by generally looking after yourself you will be able to learn to regulate your anxiety fairly quickly. If you are experiencing ongoing problems, please consult a medical doctor or a psychotherapist.
Medications against anxiety are available. You could also enquire with a psychotherapist into the causes of your anxiety and support your efforts at self regulation that way.
However, practicing the above steps, especially the physical component of regulating your body’s level of alertness, is key in my experience.
As they say, the only true enemy is your own fear. Don’t let it rule your life or your relationship, but face it today so you will experience more peace and calmness in the future. There are shadow work therapists who can help you.