Probably the majority of people who come to me for professional help are motivated by a relationship in some stage of breaking down. I’ve heard more often than I can count about how wonderful things were in the beginning, but how, over time, problems arose. The consequences of these negative evolutions run the gamut from constant bickering to outside affairs to calls to divorce attorneys – and sometimes to physical violence.
I decided it’s time to dedicate a blog post to relationships, why they don’t last and what it takes to assure that they do. In the process, we’ll look at how many of the long-term problems in relationships are caused by unhealthy short-term decisions.
According to the American Psychological Association: Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. However, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.
Both in my experience and by these figures, an unfortunately high number of people, aren’t getting relationships right – and as a result, are missing out on the benefits of mature, healthy, generous love. Keep those words ‘mature, healthy, generous love’ in mind, because that’s the goal. Let’s look at what it takes to get there.
Think back to a time when you were falling in love. Falling in love – the earliest phase of a romantic relationship — is about pleasure: the pleasure we feel at an intense mutual attraction to another – physical and emotional. We happily anticipate the potential of the connection to give us a feeling of belonging to something bigger than our individual selves and the possibility of feeling safe in the relationship. We tend to open ourselves up to the loved one and allow ourselves to become vulnerable.
Falling in love can happen quickly and it seems effortless. We think of it as something that happens to us and that we should be able to navigate automatically. Rarely do we think that we may have to do some significant preparation to succeed at love. The fact that so many of us don’t do the foundational work that can assure success in selecting the right partner and nurturing the relationship long-term is at the root of the dismal stats cited earlier.
That work has to do with getting our relationships with ourselves on a solid footing. More about what that takes in a bit. But let’s look at what often happens when the ‘falling in love’ phase collides with longer-term reality.
Eventually, and inevitably, we’ll experience a situation with our loved one that is definitively not pleasurable, in fact is shockingly painful. Whatever the cause – something said, some sin of omission, something mis-heard, a surprising difference of opinion on a matter large or small – our instinct is to immediately protect ourselves from the pain. We may shut down and respond with the ‘silent treatment’. We may lash out and shout in anger. These are defensive measures, and they are not the stuff that ‘mature, healthy, generous love’ is made of.
But if defensive reactions are instinctual, how do we keep from behaving defensively in the painful moments in our relationships? The answers, which I’ll share soon, sound simple. They’re not. Being able to get beyond or avoid defensive reactions takes maturity that many of us have not yet attained. So, what we must do is that work on ourselves to become mature men and women capable of enduring love. We do the work so that we begin relationships with others from the solid foundation of an enduring love of ourselves.
Going back to the American Psychological Association quote: Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems.
Unfortunately, many, many, many of us grow up in families where the parents do not have the emotional skills and wherewithal to model ‘mature, healthy, generous’ love for us or to love us unconditionally. This has consequences. Also unfortunate is that we become emotionally wounded in emotionally negative childhood environments in ways that cause issues that we may not even be aware of on a conscious level.
Remember that defensiveness when we have bad moments with our lovers and how instinctual it is. It’s instinctual in adulthood because it was instinctual in childhood. We defend ourselves from the hurts our parents inflict on us – often unknowingly because they’ve never learned to have a healthy loving relationship with themselves. You can see how emotional problems can flow down the generations unless someone decides to stem the flow.
We adopt behaviors to cope with our childhood wounds. But if we don’t address the wounds, themselves, the pain they represent bubbles or even boils up when situations remind us of them. The emotional wounds we don’t deal with keep us feeling not ok about ourselves. They remind us of how unworthy or unloved or scared we felt as children.
So, what do we need to do after the falling in love phase is over when we have to figure out how to make decisions in the short-term in our relationship that will assure, support and protect long-term love? How do we behave in those painful moments when we are apt to become defensive?
Feel the pain but do not act out defensively. Learn to pause before reacting to consider whether the reality of the moment is as you’re perceiving it is the result of being reminded of a painful experience early in life. As you pause and consider your response, think about what you want to happen in the next moment, year, decade or life-long.
Listen to your partner. Consider the possibility you may have misinterpreted something you heard.
In that painful moment, ask, ‘What am I responsible for?’ You may need to process the situation for a while to decide. But when you figure it out, own it and express it.
These are all loving and giving actions. They’re generous and they’re respectful to both yourself and your partner. If your partner is capable of healthy, mature, generous love, they will appreciate your loving approach to a problem and will respond in kind.
Now of course, it’s possible that once the falling in love is over and you spend some time living life together you may learn that the one you’ve chosen is not willing or capable of healthy, mature, generous love. They have no ability or are not courageous enough to look at what they must understand about themselves in order to love themselves and another.
If that becomes crystal clear, then the loving thing to do for oneself is to end the relationship and move on alone, while your loving relationship with yourself is intact. You owe it to your self to give yourself the opportunity to connect with someone capable of giving love to you as you give it to them.
Earlier I said that the answers to successfully navigating relationship issues may seem simple, but they are not. From my experience, most people who have relationship problems are not capable of traveling the path to love of self on their own. It’s a long and arduous journey that requires a talented and experienced guide. But the rewards of reaching the goal of enduring mature, healthy, generous love are so rich that you’ll be glad you sought, found and worked with a skilled professional to get you there.
As a final note, I’ll once again quote my own enduring truth and the cornerstone of my every belief about relationship success: We are here to love, and to love is to give.
By Jeff Levine|2022-11-04T15:48:51+00:00September 17, 2018|
In my recent article “Turning the Page on Sexual Misconduct”, I only focused on a most egregious and abhorrent form such behavior takes – when someone with a great deal of public power and influence uses it to manipulate, control and take sexual advantage of someone who for a variety of possible reasons in that moment does not stand up to the abuse.
My thoughts about this remain unchanged. I spoke about the character flaws in those who operate intentionally, maliciously, disrespectfully toward others with little to no sense that their behavior is damaging and totally unacceptable. They operate from a pompous, arrogant sense of entitlement and lack of conscience.
A number of responses to the article from women lead me to further the discussion and broaden it a bit. Some of the women, while appreciating what I said, also pointed out that the kind of abuse I wrote about has never happened to them. Their basic sentiment was that many of the women now in the forefront of the #metoo movement in fact wanted
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something from the men they’re accusing (examples: a movie role, a job promotion), got it (regardless that the cost may have been unwanted sexual contact) and now are claiming abuse.
Further, they pointed to cases where they met with the same man alone again in such isolated and sexually charged places like a hotel room or hot tub. They asserted that they had never nor would ever do the same and that somehow these women were complicit in what happened.
As a foundation for further discussion of this topic, consider the fact that human relationships, beginning first with the one we have with ourselves, require respect, dignity and trust to qualify as healthy, mature and responsible. Our self relationship forms the basis for how we relate to and treat others.
In some cases women who lack a healthy relationship with self may contribute to being subject to abuse. However, the topic of sexuality, personal choices and interpersonal relationships is far too complex to look at from any one vantage point — the one I wrote about or those of the respondents.
There is no one size that fits all when it is about relationships!
We cannot paint with one broad brush stroke, all the men who have been publically confronted and sanctioned, as if they are identical. Some are seriously deranged – others are not! Neither are all the women involved in these stories and their experiences the same.
Human sexual instinct begins at birth. It evolves and manifests in a myriad of ways throughout life. Immature experimentation is common and normal in childhood development and beyond.
Situations occur in which two people begin playing consensually in a sexual manner; one wants unlimited and uninhibited sex and the other while not ready for that, for one reason or another lacks the assertiveness or adequate personal boundaries to clearly say “NO” refuse to continue, but lacks the fortitude to leave the situation.
“NO” when it is about personal boundaries, physical or emotional, means “STOP!” Yet absent a clear “NO”, sexual behavior of the person who wants it may continue because the passion has not been clearly interrupted by the one who wants to stop.
There are many possible reasons for this; too many to comprehensively list here. All males or females who continue sexual behavior toward someone who wants to stop, even if the object of this behavior is unable to make it forcefully clear, are behaving unacceptably.
Learning about healthy – or unhealthy — relationships begins in childhood when personalities are forming. As stated in the title of an anonymous poem framed on my office wall, “Children Learn What They Live!”
Bullying behaviors are learned in childhood, the result of any or all experiences of fear, disrespect, boundary violations and abuse. These experiences produces low self-esteem and the sense that one is “Not Good Enough.” Without the willingness to change this deeply ingrained belief through appropriately focused work on personal growth, that wound can last a lifetime and result in many behaviors by which such people go about altering their essential, negative sense of themselves.
Mood altering through addictive behaviors is one way. Creating situations where they may control others physically or emotionally is another.
In addition to sexual misconduct, we are also hearing from women about more brutal physical abuse. Notably, White House staffer Rob Porter resigned after his two former wives revealed their experiences of abuse at his hands as part of his FBI security clearance process.
Porter’s first wife wrote a revealing opinion piece in the Washington Post about subtle seduction and courtship by a charming man that, three years into the relationship and post-marriage, turned into emotional and physical control. While their may have been red flags along the way, they’re often very difficult to recognize given the well-honed ability of abusers to manipulate others and obscure their true natures.
This woman made the point that, while women who find themselves in abusive relationships and who may even remain in them for considerable time, exhibit enormous personal strength and courage to leave and grow beyond these situations. I agree.
The highest level personal relationships can achieve is sharing great love! That requires far more than basic respect. Getting there is not easy for most people. If it were, everyone would do it! A number of other articles available in Things To Think About, the blog page on my website address various other aspects of good relationships especially Love, which is at the heart of it all. “To Love Is To Give!”
We’re all aware of the parade of powerful, public figures from Today Show host Matt Lauer to hotel and casino mogul Steve Wynn to White House staffers who have fallen in the #MeToo movement. It has gained momentum as women are deciding that, “We won’t take it any more.” Mass revelations of sexual misconduct and abuse perpetrated by a who’s who of show business, industry and political titans are making headlines almost daily.
This is certainly a positive development for our society, shocking and sad as it is to recognize how pervasive this ‘bad behavior’ – as many have termed it – seems to be. The fact that even the most powerful exploiters are being toppled is a sign of maturing attitudes.
However, the sheer frequency of allegations of misconduct is beginning to create some backlash. If we are to continue making progress beyond the present moment, we must understand what’s behind these episodes. Why do so many people behave this way and what can be done to affect pervasive change in what we’re willing to accept as ok?
The answers are not simple, yet in a few words, I feel compelled to distill down the problem and solutions from the psychotherapeutic perspective.
First, while it is common knowledge that men – and in some cases, women – at all levels of society have been engaging in sexual misconduct in the workplace and elsewhere forever, it has never been ok! This bears repeating: Sexual intimidation – for that’s what it is – has never, is not, and will never be ok!!
Why does it happen and why have we accepted it for so long? It’s about psychological dysfunction and it’s about power – or lack thereof.
Why would people who have attained great success, including reaching the pinnacles of their chosen fields, risk it all by engaging in sexual intimidation? Take Matt Lauer who was beloved by audiences and co-workers who were shocked to learn about this aspect of his personality. Also others from Steve Wynn to Harvey Weinstein who were revered or feared? Why? Why do they put it all on the line?
It’s tied to character disorders that underlie and have the ability to undermine the positive results of native talent and drive.
It’s perhaps easier to understand such dysfunction by first reviewing how emotionally healthy human beings behave. They respect themselves and, therefore, in their relationships whether professional or personal, they respect others. Respect is the underpinning of trust, positive regard and authentic love.
If you dig behind the facades of abusers, you will discover lack of genuine self respect – for any number of reasons based on their life experiences. When these individuals nonetheless achieve success, their personalities often become grandiose, which is a cover-up for unaddressed insecurities. That insecurity – a lack of a sense of genuine power – frequently results in a lack of empathy for others.
This is especially true when connected to sexuality – a drive tied to our very survival. For these individuals, fantasies can become distorted and lead to abuse of those deemed to be weak, vulnerable or subject to control. The impetus for this behavior – a form of bullying – is on a subconscious level.
The difficulty is that abusers often have no capacity for the self-awareness required to change and can continue their aberrant behaviors for decades or a lifetime without remorse.
Should we feel sorry for these individuals? Perhaps on some level. However, we are all responsible for our own lives and the choices we make. It is extremely difficult for some of these abusers to take responsibility as they see their actions as an entitlement. However, it’s not impossible.
If abusers cannot or will not recognize their own deviance and find the courage to get help to address the inevitably painful experiences that led to their behavior, then I believe it’s a positive outcome that society is taking them down. Perhaps when confronted with severe rejection of their actions and a healthier, alternate world view, they will finally recognize that they must take steps to better understand themselves, so that they can change.
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By Jeff Levine|2018-02-16T15:22:47+00:00February 16, 2018|
As we move quickly toward the season of New Year’s resolutions, I’m moved to write about commitment.
In my last very personal post, I shared my recent experience with open heart surgery as a metaphor for how, at certain points in our lives, we find opportunities to hit “reset” on various aspects of our lives, to create new beginnings. These change moments can be inspiring and feel incredibly positive. However, without commitment, new beginnings can fizzle out fast.
I also noted in the last post that pain – physical or emotional – is often the driver of tough decisions and change. However, once we decide to change something, it doesn’t mean it will be easy from that point on. In fact, often the decision to change is comparatively easy when actual, permanent change requires unwavering commitment over time – throughout the course of a lifetime!
It’s easier to commit to change long term if you recognize it as a choice! Our choices – large and small — are under our control. Then, it is our willingness to be clear, self-aware and responsible about our choices that leads to the sustainable change we want.
So, when you make your resolutions this year, consider that they are purposeful choices. Understand what they will mean to your life. Say what you mean, mean what you say, keep these promises that you make to yourself. The quality of Your life depends on it.
If you want to lose weight, if you are ready to stop killing yourself with cigarettes, if you want to be more physically fit, get training for some skill, earn an educational degree, play an instrument, improve an important relationship with a significant person in your life or any other goal, you need to make a conscious, committed choice to pursue that objective.
If you get scrupulously clear about what you really want, you’ll be positioned to make a solemn commitment. Then, find the resources or guide you need and reaffirm your choice one day at a time, one moment at a time when necessary — especially when fear, pain, frustration or laziness creep in! Everyone can do that when it’s easy, but real change happens when you keep moving ahead through the tough parts!
I’m extending my own new beginning by committing to lose the weight I gained when angina kept me inactive. I will get truly lean again – commitment has me nearly there and I’ve resumed an active lifestyle that includes exercising regularly – forever. Is it easy? Hell no! Especially in this season of endless food and drink temptations. But each day that I see the scale move down or my physical strength increase, I’m able to renew my commitment and continue pursuing my goal of a permanent healthy lifestyle change.
So can you. Keep in mind that when you commit to your choices over and over, you’re giving yourself a gift that keeps on giving back to you!!!
Happy New Year!
By Jeff Levine|2016-12-19T18:16:33+00:00December 19, 2016|
Saturday morning Ellie and I went for a long walk along the Hudson River. We used to enjoy these morning excursions as a regular part of our weekends. The operative phrase here is ‘used to’, which I’ll explain in a bit.
Later in the day we went into Manhattan and walked from 83rd St. and Madison Avenue all the way down to 64th Street and, after a heathy and delicious Nicoise salad at a delightful French bistro, walked all the way back to 83rd Street. This included some uphill stretches. Our day of walking made both of us quite happy!!
So, what’s the big deal about Ellie and me enjoying long walks? Until this past Saturday, our walks had become a thing of the past. How did that happen considering the pleasure it brought us? I’ll tell you now:
Some time ago, I began to suffer occasional angina – chest pain — during physical exertion. Over time it became chronic and had me avoiding a variety of physical activities that had been a source of pleasure. A few months ago, the pain in my heart and the impact it was having on my life became intolerable!
How did I let it get that far? There were distractions and rationalizations that made it possible to put off dealing with what was obviously a serious health issue. For a while I put it off because I had elderly, ill parents who required a great deal of my time, attention and care. Even after the deaths of both my parents, there was always another event, circumstance or responsibility for me to focus on.
Once we humans – even trained psychotherapists — begin to avoid something, we create a “comfort zone” around the problem, comfortable because it is familiar – a known – something we have learned to tolerate even when it causes pain and suffering! Easier to deal with emotionally, than the “unknown” with all its perceived risks.
Yes, I allowed distractions and denial to get in the way of taking proper care of my physical wellbeing. But at last, the physical pain, limitations and restrictions on my life, and the fear it caused Ellie, demanded proper attention!
I realized I could no longer postpone getting a thorough evaluation of my cardiac condition and recognized the scary truth that I might very well need bypass surgery. I finally accepted the undeniable fact that treatment was required and whatever that meant, it had to be done now!!!
Once I took control of the situation, I was careful to select a hospital that specializes in heart and lung surgery. However, once that choice was made, I also had to accept the risks involved and trust my life to the character and skill of those who would treat me.
As it turned out, my condition did require open heart surgery. I was most fortunate that my surgeon was highly trained and experienced and is the hospital’s Chief of Surgery. On September 28th, he performed a quintuple bypass and an aortic valve replacement!!!
The reality of that procedure was that my surgeon cut my breast bone, spread it apart and literally had my heart in his hands. As accepting as I was of my choice to undergo the procedure and as trusting as I was of my medical professionals, it is by its nature a traumatic intervention.
As my breastbone and my body have healed and strengthened over the past couple of months, I have been reflecting deeply on the experience. I’ve concluded that there is an unmistakable metaphor between the underlying physical pain and suffering that had restricted my life and led to surgery, and the emotional pain that restricts the lives of those I treat through psychotherapy.
While I don’t literally take the hearts of those who seek my help into my hands, I most certainly do figuratively. I understand – even more viscerally now – the avoidance of seeking help that continues until a marriage is breaking up, or a child is acting out dangerously, or someone has turned to substance abuse to quell their pain – or a decades long acceptance of misery has finally become too much.
Just as a heart patient like me must face the pain and risk of a surgical procedure, those people suffering from emotional pain and dysfunction have to reach a place on their path where the known pain and suffering gets to a point where the unknown pain and risk of correcting the problem becomes preferable.
Then it’s a question of making some new choices. Finding a skilled therapist to help you change your journey to a more life-enhancing direction and then staying the course and doing whatever it takes to maintain health.
I’m in the process of doing so with my physical health. I’ve changed my diet, shed more than 20 pounds so far with another 12 or so to go to reach my goal. I’ve already resumed physical exercise as you know. These must be life-long choices if I and my restored heart are to remain healthy.
Same is true for psychotherapy. As we make changes that will ensure happier lives and better relationships, we must find ways to make them permanent.
Sure, there will be pain as part of the process. I’ll never forget the horrific few seconds when one of the surgeons removed the chest tubes that had been placed during surgery to assure that fluids didn’t build up around my heart. Would I trade my choice to undergo surgery to avoid that excruciating moment? No way!
If you who are reading this – or anyone you care about – are avoiding getting help for your emotional wounds, please consider the consequences of not pursuing help. Going back to my metaphor, if I had not sought help, the alternative would have likely been death from a massive heart attack and probably in the not-too-distant future. Failing to address emotional dysfunction may not be tantamount to physical death, but in reality, it is a failure to live life to its fullest.
This includes the opportunity to experience unconditional love and to become your authentic, lovable self. You just must be ready to change whatever needs changing and willing to accept the help you need. Then your life, like mine, can have “A New Beginning!” It’s worth it.
By Jeff Levine|2016-11-22T15:57:33+00:00November 22, 2016|
Yesterday – in light of millions taking to the highways for Memorial Day weekend – CBS Sunday Morning mirrored my concern about road rage as a symptom of mental dysfunction. CBS does not share links to its full segments. Here’s a link to the page where you can read a transcript and access component video.
May is “Mental Health Awareness Month.” I’m glad that mental health awareness has a month, but I believe that it’s critical to keep the awareness going year round. An article in the New York Times earlier this week reminded me of something that most of us experience on a daily basis that will keep the need for better mental health in our society top of mind.
The article, by Matt Richtel, appeared in the science section and addressed behavior on the roads – specifically with regard to what we commonly refer to as ‘accidents’. The story began, “Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers. Just don’t call them accidents anymore.”
The article stated that this is the position now taken by a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. Richtel described their campaign to change a long standing mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error.
According to Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like ‘God made it happen!’”
No. People make it happen. Every time I get into the car I expect that I’ll be subject to tailgating, horn blowing, carelessness, aggressive lane changing, speeding and other dangerous behaviors from drivers around me. These drivers are of all ages, ethnicities, genders and socio-economic backgrounds. It’s not an exclusive club.
I’ll bet that I’m not alone in this experience and that you are also aware of being put at frequent risk. This post is intended to create awareness of how these behaviors connect to mental health – or a lack of it.
Back to the article. Mark Rosekind went on to point out something that I say in my office multiple times a week: We define our experience of everything by the language – the words – we attach to the experience!
Everyone does this and that is how we arrive at our perceptions, interpretations, attitude and conclusions! But what if thinking, emotions, attitudes and negative over-reactions are based in unhealthy thinking and ways of relating to others?
None of us is perfect! We all make mistakes and, on occasion, act in ways that we later regret such as angry words directed at someone we say we love or care about. That’s not what concerns me.
The road behaviors described above that often lead to crashes are very mentally unhealthy. They are the result of emotional immaturity, fear, anger and other negative emotions. These are at the root of defensive, toxic ways of relating to and treating others — with total disrespect and disregard!
Behaving aggressively behind the wheel provides some degree of cover. It’s anonymous; unless, of course, it leads to a collision and causes property damage and personal injury or death. Then it becomes personal real fast. Regardless, such behavior and its underlying causes never leads to anything good and it makes personal dignity and self-respect impossible.
Consider this. If someone is behaving that way with strangers, it is surely present in their close relationships, which means that in the marriages and parent/child relationships such people have, no one feels safe, no one feels truly loved. Everyone involved, especially the one acting out, is left feeling emotionally isolated and lonely.
This is often an ingredient of addiction. And that’s a particularly good reason to steer clear of aggressive drivers as much as possible. It’s highly likely that their practices are fueled by alcohol or drugs.
I know most of my readers are to some degree self-aware and take responsibility for their behavior. But if you know someone — or are someone — who exhibits these tell-tale driving behaviors you and everyone else will benefit from raising your mental health awareness.
Please share this post with anyone who you think could benefit. You never know when you may be able to plant a seed that will take root and grow.
Have a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend. There will be many, many cars on the road!
I don’t know about you, but with months left before the election it feels like we’re being bombarded by media drama that makes it hard to cut through to the facts. How do we make sense of this to decide which candidates we’ll support?
Politics aside, from a psychotherapist’s perspective, I look at character. What does that mean – character? Mature character includes a collection of the qualities that demonstrate sound mental health. Some of these are:
• Kindness and compassion
• Empathy for others
• The ability to forgive
• A loving personality
Recently a friend asked me to watch the video of a speech by a political figure of a party other than my own and to give him my opinion. Although I did not agree with some of the man’s political ideas, I could report to my friend, that he seemed to be a person of good character according to the list above.
Why is this important? Because it takes people of character to work together to solve the complicated problems we face today. It takes people whose political mission is driven by a true desire to do something good for others, rather than someone whose plans are a cognitive and emotional manifestation of dysfunctional and immature personality traits:
This post – our first “How To’s and Tips” in 2016 – is appropriately about New Year’s Resolutions. It was inspired by a recent conversation with a dear friend. After reflecting about the year that was coming to an end, he said I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I’m going to “try” to lose some weight!
I looked in his eyes and said, “If you want to be successful you need to loose that word ‘try’! It’s what people say to excuse – in advance – yet another projected failure related to a familiar problem.” My friend is very bright, honest and responsible, so recognizing the implication of my comment we shared a good laugh together.
Can you remember times when you have said you were going to “try” to do something – anything? Ask yourself what you meant by that word. We don’t “try” to do anything that we actually succeed at. We “do it”!
Have you made any resolutions for 2016 that are about something you want? This “How To’s and Tips” may help you succeed.
First, as illustrated by the conversation with my friend, pay close attention to the meaning of the words you attach to your resolutions. The words we attach to our thinking, feelings and intentions have much power over what we will actually do! This is never more important than when we are talking about changes we intend to make in ourselves!!
Do the things you tell yourself or others actually constitute a promise you keep?
They should, or consider this: “If you always do, what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten!” Said differently, “Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result is the definition of ‘crazy’!
If you have made a new year’s resolution and want this one to be successful, ask yourself, “What do I really want – and – will I do whatever it takes to make it happen?”
Here are a couple of common new year’s resolutions and the essential changes you must make to succeed!
1. “I will try to lose weight!” This is the most common New Year’s resolution. To succeed, you must make permanent changes in your eating habits. Of course, regular exercise helps. It’s also necessary that you change the way you think about food, recognizing the emotional connection you have with what you eat and drink. For many, food becomes their drug of choice, consumed to quell emotional pain. To achieve permanent weight loss, return food to its actual purpose – healthy nutrition, needed to live. Your food choices may continue to include food that is delicious. But social connections with food and drink, as well as the portions you consume will surely need to be adjusted with daily attention to calories, carbohydrates, sugar and fat intake. This is nothing short of a lifestyle change. And if the weight loss is to be permanent, the lifestyle change will need to be a permanent commitment! If it isn’t, you are likely to yo-yo up and down. You will need to identify all the triggers — boredom, loneliness etc. – that send you to the refrigerator and learn how to make healthier and more responsible choices at such times. What you put in your mouth will need to become something you remain conscious about, eating for physical health and not emotional comfort or social ease.
Resolving true food addiction is the stuff of therapy, but hopefully the information here will get you thinking about weight loss in a more effective way.
2. “I will try to be a better husband/wife, parent, friend!” If you are sincere about this and not merely reacting to the expectation or demand of others, you can succeed in this, too. It will require you to look at who and how you are through the eyes and experiences of another! Of course it will need to be someone you respect and are able to believe has your best interests at heart. Your ego will get in the way of your recognizing those things that are not easy to see. If you refuse to listen because making yourself vulnerable is too scary, you are not alone. Nevertheless, you’ll need to learn how to listen in such moments, despite your fear. The fact is that what you want is on the other side of the experience of learning something about how you present yourself to the world that you may not have been aware of. That’s the first step in pursuing positive change and growth, if that’s what’s required to improve the relationship. If you listen respectfully to understand what the other person is experiencing and what they want in the relationship you share, chances are they’ll be more willing to do the same for you.
As you keep your resolutions this year, you’ll also gain a new and greater feeling of self-respect!
Happy New Year and Happy New You in 2016!!
By Jeff Levine|2016-01-01T15:24:46+00:00January 1, 2016|