I was surfing around the web and came across resources for Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. I was pretty impressed and wanted to pass along these resources.
While watching the videos I realized that what I do in relationship counseling is very similar to what Rosenberg does with tribes and warring groups. I help couples and families get to and communicate what is at the heart of the matter. I do this by facilitating the expression of deep human needs within each person that are not being met in the relationship. This often promotes empathy and connection and dissolves anger.
After thinking about how similar Nonviolent Communication was to Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples and Families, my mind moved to its application to current events. It made me think of the Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin tragedy and how differently it all may have gone down if this way of thinking and interacting were promoted in our county. I felt sad knowing our country promotes ideas like "standing your ground " over empathic non-judgmental listening. The videos are long but worth a listen and a reflection. YouTube has tons more as well.
Grandma died yesterday morning. She was 102. She loved life and she loved people, especially her family.
By Evelyn Schmechtig-Cochran 2008
This is Grandma. She is ninety-seven and three-quarters years old (in this picture she is 102). Doesn't she look great? She turns 98 in September of this year. I consider myself very lucky because I inherited her when I married my husband almost 22 years ago. She enjoys good health, an active mind, and a quick wit. As far as I can tell, Grandma has never really been one to spend very much money on herself. I am sure she could but she prefers to spend her money on what she feels is the most important thing in her life. This would be her family.
Almost every two years, during the summer, Grandma hosts her entire extended family for a family reunion. We always stay in very nice upscale places usually near the ocean and on the beach. Those who attend are her children, their spouses, some siblings of spouses, her nieces, and until recently her sister. Did I forget to say that all of her grandchildren, great grandchildren and their spouses attend, too? We are a pretty big bunch. I believe that all together we total 30 people.
Grandma loves these events. She enjoys the good company of family and the always excellent food prepared by her tribe of relatives. We are so lucky to have her around this long. We are blessed by her commitment to family and her generous spirit. She is quite an amazing women having survived two husbands, all of her siblings, and I am sure many other friends and family.
For me, the benefits of inheriting such a loving grandma have been many. What I am really thankful for are these regular events. They have given me a way to get to know my extended family in a way I probably would never have been able to do. This feels like a great support to me. In my heart, I know that these people are my family and that they love me.
Thank you, Grandma. It is because of your big heart that I get to experience this great joy.
According to National Institute of Health, Major Depressive Disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults. This is about 7% of the population age 18 or older. When you add in Dysthymic Disorder or Persistent Depressive Disorder, chronic low grade depression that does not quite fit the bill for major depression, the percentage of sufferers goes up to almost 9%. My guess is that there are many people limping around with chronic low grade depression who don't really even know they are suffering. So maybe the percentage is even a bit higher? I do not know. But it is alarming to me that almost 10% of the United States is struggling with a very painful set of symptoms we call depression. The NIH notes the signs and symptoms as follows:
These symptoms are nothing to take lightly. They can be debilitating and even cause disability. It is not completely clear what causes depression, but it appears when looking at brain scans of a depressed person that they look different from a non-depressed person's. As with many things in life, depression is probably initiated by a combination of interacting factors and systems including genes, biology, environment (stress and trauma), and psychology (inner thoughts and views of self, perception and sense of purpose and meaning). Many illnesses, including thyroid disorders, cause depressive symptoms.
Until recently, nobody really considered the impact our relationships have on our mood and maybe even our brains. This is changing. Researchers such as Jim Coan, Ph.D., Sue Johnson, Ed.D, Wayne Denton, M.D., and others are all looking into this. It appears that relationships and attachments can greatly affect our moods and life, and improving them may help decrease depression. It is exciting to me to know that we have one more option (traditional options are medication and/or individual counseling) to offer people as part of the basic treatment plan for those suffering from depression: family, couple, or relationship counseling.
For more information check out this great article by Russell Collins: Are Relationships the New Prozac?
Good relationships and social support are nature's antidepressants. Who knew? Deep down inside, I think we all did . . . and do.
In every interaction we have with our partner there is the opportunity to heal. I guess that is truly what love is, a dynamic powerful healing agent. We, especially partners, are deeply connected and attached to each other. Science tells us that the way we communicate can impact each other's brains, for good or for ill. I guess we can build each other up or tear one another down. I image just like me, you too desire to do good. In this video, we get some tools for creating and maintaining love and secure attachment.
The 4 Mantras:
1. Darling, I am here for you.
2. Darling, I know you are there.
3. Darling, I know you suffer and that is why I am here for you.
4. Darling, I suffer. I do my best to practice. Please help.
Listen to this great video for a deeper understanding and advice on how to love.
Yahoo posted a nice summary of the research on relationship enhancers: The 10 Ways to Improve your Relationship.
1. Solidify your friendship.
2. Appreciate each other.
3. Concentrate on the present to ensure a future.
4. Don't Distort.
5. Share power.
6. Find common goals.
7. Understand anger.
8. Break negative cycles.
9. Focus on what's fixable.
10. Accept the unsolvable.
As the title of this suggests, most of this is based on John Gottman's research. Any of his books on relationships will give you detailed information on how keep on enhancing your relationship. It is good stuff. Common sense but important to be reminded of as we live our lives in this very busy complicated world. We need our partners now more than ever. But for various reasons, creating and maintaining a safe and secure attachment can get blocked. Use these principles to open up the flow between you and your lover.
Depression is a serious problem affecting many people. Having a supportive and loving spouse, in my opinion can help in recovery. I want to say I think depression is complex and probably caused by many factors. Relationship quality perhaps being one possible factor affecting the sufferer. NPR notes some research around this. Something to reflect upon.
God Works in Mysterious Ways: A Woman's Love for Animals, A Man's love for His wife, and Small Boy's Love of His Dog All Come Together in Perfect Harmony
I was deeply moved by a facebook post and thread I saw that I got permission to post it to my web site blog. Below is the thread verbatim. I am posting it because it reminded me a bit of two things.
The first is how interconnected we all are. When I read it I felt a bit like I was watching the TV show called "Touched" staring Kiefer Sutherland. The show is about an autistic child who does not talk but communicates with his father and the world about important interconnections between people through numbers. The child somehow knows about how things all come together in an interconnected web of relatedness. Throughout the show, we see how random happenings all over the world are not so random at all but are synchronized and connected.
The second thing the post reminded me of is the power of attachment. In simple terms, secure attachment to others and even to our animals causes us to see, feel, and know when they need us. It directs us to take some kind of action toward the loved object, to respond to the call and to sooth the distressed heart.
Here is the unedited thread. It really speaks for itself.
Evelyn Schmechtig Cochran