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Licensed Psychologist

Trust

Researchers have found that the capacity to develop intimate relationships is highly influenced by the kind of relationships the child had early in life. The ability to trust is basic to any relationship. Trust comes more easily for some people than for others depending upon their past experiences. A child who successfully develops trust will feel safe and secure in his world. Those who are unable to develop trust are more likely to view their world as inconsistent and unpredictable.

Learning to trust begins at birth. Eric Erikson describes this as the most fundamental stage in a person's psychological development. Babies are born completely helpless and dependent upon their caregivers for food, shelter, comfort and love. When a baby's cries are responded to in a loving, attentive, and consistent manner, he will feel safe and learn to trust his environment. This kind of positive parent-child relationship teaches him that he can communicate in order to get his needs met. If instead, his parents are inconsistent, rejecting or emotionally unavailable, he is more likely to feel mistrust and may carry a sense of shame and inadequacy into his adult relationships.

Trust is the cornerstone of a meaningful and lasting relationship. When you trust someone, you believe that he will be honest, loyal, and faithful and will not abandon you. You believe that she will forgive you and accept you unconditionally. You think of your partner as your ally, not your foe. Only when you feel safe with your partner will you be willing to be authentic and vulnerable.

Previous hurts and losses can interfere with a person's ability to trust and be honest in a relationship. The adult whose childhood relationships were painful will be more likely to view situations that others would perceive as innocuous through a lens of mistrust. The wounds of an adult who has been betrayed by someone she loved, admired and trusted will take time to heal. It is not easy, but regardless of the past, people do have the capacity to recover and trust again. Sometimes while recovering from a hurtful relationship, a person will develop greater personal strength, self awareness and the capacity for more fulfilling relationships.

Childhood and Society, Erik Erikson

Emotional Connections

Couples in distress may disagree about sexual issues, romance, money, or infidelity. They criticize and blame each other, and often cannot let go of painful incidents or arguments from years past. They are quick to bring up grievances with their partner but are unable to listen and truly hear what their partner has to say. What is going on? Drs. Sue Johnson, Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt, believe that the root of the problem is that the partners do not have an adequate emotional connection. They state that the need for a safe emotional connection is basic to all relationships. When that connection is present, partners feel safe with each other, and can risk emotional vulnerability as they listen and speak to each other openly about their feelings and needs. When safe connections are lost, partners seek to protect themselves and avoid hurt. They may blame each other, or even get aggressive in an effort to get a response. Alternately, they may shut down and try not to care. If the reconnection does not occur, their struggle intensifies, continues, and becomes more painful. Think about the messages that you have received from important people in your life about closeness and trust. What did your past relationships teach you? Did you see loved ones as reliable or untrustworthy? Was your voice heard and listen to, or were you told to be "seen and not heard?" Did you learn to distance yourself, or not need others because depending on others was dangerous? Were you taught that it is weak to need closeness, or support? What strategies did you use in past relationships when things went wrong? When you felt alone or disconnected in your present relationship did you become very emotional and demanding, or were you more likely to shut down? How well do these patterns work for you in your relationships? Relationships are never easy but as you become aware of your dysfunctional behavior patterns, you have the power to change them. You can make your relationships more meaningful by learning a new way of relating to one another. As you develop healthy communication patterns you will be building trust and allowing rewarding emotional connections. Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson Making Marriage Simple, Harville Hendrix, PhD and Helen Hunt, PhD

Perfectionism

Most of us would consider having high standards a good thing. It reflects ambition and a desire for success. The perfectionist, however, sets unrealistically high standards that often cannot be met, can rob him of personal satisfaction, and can actually interfere with success. Most perfectionists learned early in life that they were valued by how much they achieved. For them, life was an endless report card. Instead of developing their own inner self worth, they learned to value themselves on the basis of other people's approval.

The truth is that no one succeeds at becoming "just right," free of flaws and failings. Growth is a lifelong process and criticizing ourselves just slows it down and keeps us unhappy. Balancing honest appraisal with self acceptance each day can open up possibilities for change without shame and negativity.

I would like to share some interesting quotations on this subject.

"Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order."
Anne Wilson Schaef

"It is failure that guides evolution; perfection provides no incentive for improvement, and nothing is perfect."
Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist

"When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are."
Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

"Perfection is not a destination; it's a never-ending process...Enjoy!"
Jim Bouchard, Think Like a Black Belt

"Stop waiting for the perfect day or the perfect moment... Take THIS day, THIS moment and lead it to perfection."
Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

The Smile

In this fast paced world, we often drive ourselves too hard, forget to take time out for ourselves and can become depressed. Did you know that the simple act of smiling can actually help lift feelings of depression. As a test, try standing in front of a mirror and smiling at yourself for 8 minutes. The effect will surprise you. Scientific evidence demonstrates that the facial changes involved in smiling have direct effects on chemical changes in the left frontal cortex of the brain associated with happiness. Researchers found that even when people mimicked a smile, or were not aware that they were smiling, endorphins were released that slowed down the heart rate and reduced stress. In addition, they discovered that people who smile have a real positive effect on others. In this case, mirror neurons fire in the brain and evoke a similar neural response as if the observer was smiling himself. So take time out to relax, and smile. Let this mind-body connection nourish you and the people around you.

Welcome

From time-to-time I come upon interesting and inspirational information that can nourish your mind, body and spirit. I would like to share them with those of you who are like-minded and will be posting on a regular basis. If you would like to be added to my emailing list, please fill out the form you can find on the right side of the About or Contact pages. I believe you will find my Insights meaningful. I hope you will chose to share them with your friends and invite them to also join my Mind - Body - Spirit Insights mailing list.
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