By: Rubin Khoddam Ph.D. | January 23, 2022
"Are you looking for some new techniques to strengthen your relationship? If you’re interested in integrative behavioral couples therapy (IBCT) but don’t seem to be able to fit it into your busy schedule, many couples are utilizing teletherapy as a simpler way to make time for their relationship. Scheduling a teletherapy session with an experienced therapist is convenient and can help you work through relationship issues, but why wait? Here are five tips to get started today.
1. Express Appreciation
Understanding what makes your partner feel the most appreciated is a step in the right direction. Over time, we may stop expressing appreciation in our relationships because what was once novel has become routine. Maybe resentments have built up over the years, or we assume our significant other already knows how we feel about them. But when we notice and appreciate the little things, people often go out of their way to be even more thoughtful. This doesn’t require big gestures, although it can. Often, simply acknowledging what other people do for us is enough to make any relationship warmer. In fact, I often encourage couples to end the day by listing at least three things they are grateful for from that day about their partner or even about the day itself. Knowing that you will have to express your appreciation for things at the end of the night will make you more mindful of things to appreciate during the day.
2. Practice Reflective Listening
Practice might not ever make perfect, but it sure helps. It’s common for people to mistakenly believe that if they withhold approval or affection, their partner will change in the ways they want them to. While this might cause your partner to change, it probably won’t be in ways you like. Practicing reflective listening is one of the best techniques to improve communication in your relationship. So what does it mean?
This is something that a skilled couples therapist can walk you through during your session, but essentially it means that you listen to what your partner says and then repeat it back to them in your own words. You can try a simple reflection where you basically repeat back what’s been said, perhaps paraphrasing a little or you can try a complex reflection where you might infer a feeling or an experience based on what was said. This accomplishes two things. It validates what they’ve said because they know they’ve really been heard and it also clarifies any confusion. Instead of waiting for our turn to speak, we’re actively listening to what is being said and trying to understand what they’re telling us.
3. Schedule Important Conversations
On a related topic, there are some conversations that are tough to have no matter how skilled we are at communicating. So, when it comes to sensitive issues, it can be helpful to set aside time to discuss them. I call these “relationship business meetings.” For example, maybe your partner wants to have a baby but you’re not sure if it’s a good time for you to start a family, or if you even want children. This is a situation that could quickly escalate into an argument, particularly if the topic comes up in a moment when you already feel stressed out about work or money or any number of other things.
Instead, consider setting aside a weekly meeting for an hour to explore the idea or any other hot-topic relationship issues. Choose a time when you both have the mental and emotional bandwidth to be fully present, and keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to find an answer at this time. The intent is to simply get the conversation started when you’re both in a calm and receptive state of mind—maybe even over brunch. You can always schedule a follow-up for later on, which will give you time to consider things in more depth.
By setting aside a weekly time to meet, you consolidate arguments into a single episode rather than have them bleed into the relationship throughout the week. It also allows time and space for each partner to reflect on their experience and opinions, and to come to the conversation more thoughtful and respectful of their needs and their partner's.
If you’re still finding it difficult to find your way through an issue, bring it to your teletherapy session. Your couples therapist will be able to offer you a fresh perspective and some useful insights into your current dynamic."
By: Abigail Brenner M.D. | January 16, 2022
"You may be on the same page with your partner for most things, but there will inevitably come a time when you don’t see eye to eye. You have some choices: You can ignore your differences and just circumvent the issue, or you can keep on trying to persuade your partner to see it your way, or you can get increasingly angry and eventually let your partner have it.
It’s probably a better idea to try to tackle your differences, the areas where you disagree, and attempt to iron out the problem in a way that allows both of you to express your opinions and beliefs, with the goal of finding some common ground, some area of compromise.
How do you do that when you feel strongly about an issue or problem, but so does your partner? Surely, you want to please yourself but you want your partner to feel satisfied as well. However, most of us are not taught how to have a constructive discussion. We model what we see around us. We may have seen people angry to the point where they stop talking to each other, or try to intimidate each other through insults and threats. We’ve perhaps seen situations where the conversation ends when one person declares their point of view the “winner.”
Here are some tips to help you navigate disagreements constructively and respectfully.
Be present and focused. Clear away all distractions—no emails, texts, or phone calls. Leave aside all other issues and things you need to do. Put everything else on hold. Pay close attention. Your only job is to listen carefully and to try to understand, not only what’s being said, but the emotions being expressed. Give your partner all the time they need to explain their side of the argument, discussion.
Don’t lecture. You probably have done this already but making time to constructively work on your differences is a completely different kind of exercise. It’s meant to be a give-and-take, back-and-forth discussion to help clarify your different points of view and to reach some kind of reasonable agreement about how to move forward. Your ideas and beliefs are just that—you’re ideas and beliefs. No more or less valid than your partner’s ideas and beliefs. Don’t lecture, or worse, pontificate from a superior position. This exercise is meant to level the field."
By: Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. | January 18, 2022
"Many of our everyday choices require making tradeoffs between the present and the future. These choices tend to have delayed consequences. In general, we want things now rather than later. This tendency is known as present bias. Present bias occurs when individuals place extra weight on more immediate rewards than future rewards. The more we disregard our longer-term interests in favor of immediate gratification, the more likely we will have an overspending problem.
The present bias is partially attributed to judgments of connectedness between the present and future self (Hershfield, 2018). We tend to think about our future selves as if they are someone else, wholly different from who we are today. If we view our distant self as another person who is more of a stranger to us, then the future selves’ well-being is none of our concern.
Feeling psychologically close to one’s distant self motivates more farsighted decisions that could lead to better outcomes in the future, such as having more money, better health, and fewer regrets. So how do we learn to relate to our future selves?
1. Psychological continuity
Psychological continuity refers to the perceived connectedness between the current self and the future self. To feel connected to our future selves means the continuation of our core identities such as values, life goals between the present and future self. When individuals feel similar to their future self, they are more likely to delay present gratification and make plans for the long run. Research has shown that higher levels of self-continuity to be positively correlated with better academic performance and less procrastination.
The inability to imagine a realistic future self fully and vividly is another reason for poor choices over time. Having a vivid view of the future ahead is a sign of social maturity for young adults. Education is shown to enlighten the person about the value of deferred versus current consumption. We might also spend time with older generations (our parents or grandparents) to remind ourselves of what our lives might be like 20 years from now. Vivid examples are often processed more emotionally, and this can affect motivation. For example, people who viewed age-progressed images of themselves expressed increased intentions to save for retirement.
3. Small steps
Another strategy is to frame sacrifices felt by the present self as being less burdensome. The key to reaching long-term goals often starts with small acts. A study demonstrated higher response rates for an automatic savings program when contributions were framed in daily terms, which feel less painful to the current self. For example, $5 a day in savings versus $150 a month."
By: Judith Orloff, M.D. | December 16, 2014
"A survival guide for empaths to stay grounded and centered."
"Sensitive people or empaths have an ability to be emotional sponges that can heighten when they are at a social event, around co-workers, or in crowds. If empaths are around peace and love, their bodies assimilate these and flourish. Negativity, though, often feels assaultive or exhausting.
For empaths to fully enjoy being around others, they must learn to protect their sensitivity and find balance. Since I’m an empath, I want to help them cultivate this capacity and be comfortable with it.
I’ve always been hyper-attuned to other people’s moods, good and bad. Before I learned to protect my energy, I felt them lodge in my body. After being in crowds I would leave feeling anxious, depressed, or tired. When I got home, I’d just crawl into bed, yearning for peace and quiet.
Here are six strategies to help you manage your sensitivity more effectively and stay centered without absorbing negative energy.
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