Honorable Closure: Dealing With Grief and Loss

The themes of grief, loss, and mourning have been coming up a lot lately for me personally and in my practice.  I’m remembering something from Linda A. Curtis that I want to share with you about Honorable Closure.  She has a four step process for saying goodbye and moving on that  can be applied to many different areas of our lives.

The first step has to do with Gratitude (a favorite of mine!): Tell the Old Story in a New Way.

The second step is about Willingness: Resolve any​ Regrets

Forgiveness is the third step: Let go and Let it be

Reclaiming Joy (experiencing joy is sooo important!!!) is the fourth step: Invent the Next Story

Allow these concepts to percolate and see what comes up.  Be patient with yourself and what you are feeling.  It won’t last forever but it is here right now so pay attention to what needs to be done.

Peace, Megan

Divorce Proofing Your Marriage: Fondness and Admiration

Nurture Your Fondness and Admiration for One Another – Something brought you together initially.  Can you remember what it was?  Be in that memory for a few moments. Doesn’t it feel good to remember that excitement and newness? Marriage has a lot of ups and downs but the more you can focus on the positives and weather the down times well, you’ll be in good shape.

Fondness and Admiration are antidotes for Contempt (remember those Four Horsemen?!). When you start to get sarcastic, cynical, roll your eyes, use hostile humor, or feel an aggressive (or passive-aggressive) anger you are using Contempt. Notice this and let it go.  Don’t judge it or get angry at yourself for falling into it (again?!).  Just move on and focus on the things you admire about your partner and your relationship together.

Focus on those things in your relationship that FEEL GOOD!

Divorce Proofing Your Marriage: Love Maps

We’ve talked a lot the last few weeks about what not to do in your marriage, now let’s turn the tables and look at what strengthens marriage. builds healthy relationships.  Over the next ten weeks we’ll look at the research Drs. John and Julie Gottman have found that build healthy marriages. This week let’s focus on Love Maps.

Enhancing your Love Map – Do you know what makes your partner tick? Do you know your partner’s history?  Have you shared yours?  This requires some emotional availability on your part.  This week, share your love map – your worries, dreams, hopes, joys – and ask him to share his.

Non-Verbal Communication as a Predictor of Divorce

The last few weeks we’ve focused on some predictors of divorce that Drs. John and Julie Gottman have diligently researched over the last 20 years. Whether separate, or together, the presence of The Four Horsemen, Harsh Startups, and Failed Repair Attempts can predict divorce 82 – 90+% of the time.  I have a theory about why these are such predominant factors in predicting divorce.

70 % of what we communicate is Non-Verbal Communication. Seventy Percent. 70!  Seventy percent of the time HOW we say something is more important that WHAT we say.  The tone and volume of our voices, our facial expressions, rolling of the eyes, smirking of the lips, body postures, hand gestures… These all communicate way more than our words.  In fact, we can remain silent and our body language can speak volumes alone.

I like to use babies as an example.  Before they are even able to speak words they communicate to us all day long.  They cry, they whine, they laugh, they grunt, they look away, they look in our eyes, they wiggle, they grab, they smile… and we understand (or learn to) what they are “saying.”

Oftentimes in our marriage, and other close relationships, we use non-verbal communication subconsciously to communicate things that might be too vulnerable to say out loud. An eye roll and arms crossed in front of our chest might communicate that we are hurt by something the other did or said and we are trying to protect ourselves from not getting hurt again.

So what if instead we maintain gentle eye contact, put our arms to our side and softly say, “I love you and I don’t like the way I talk to you.  I feel hurt. I don’t know what to do with this hurt that I feel and it has been coming out in my eye rolling and arms folded across my body.”  Whoa!  That might get someone’s attention!  Keep in mind that starting something new – a new behavior, a new way of communicating, etc. – can be difficult at first and takes some getting used to (for the sender and the receiver) but if you are consistent for at least a month, it will start to get easier.

So the next time you are in a conversation with your loved one, notice your non-verbal communication. Ask yourself, “What am I really trying to communicate? Is it working?  How might I communicate it differently?”​

Predictors of Divorce – Harsh Startups and Failed Repair Attempts

While there are several predictors of divorce that Drs. John and Julie Gottman have researched, there are a few that are more significant than others in their high predictability of divorce.  In a previous post we covered The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. Now let’s talk about two more elements of relationships that raise divorce predictions from 82% with just The Four Horsemen present to 90% plus.

These elements are: Harsh Startups and Failed Repair Attempts.

Harsh Startups happen when there is criticism and or sarcasm (a form of contempt) present at the beginning of a conversation.  Research shows that 96% of the time the outcome of a conversation can be predicted within the first 3 minutes of a 15 minute conversation. If Harsh Startups are present during those first 3 minutes it is difficult for the conversation to go well.

Failed Repair Attempts happen when one or both people are trying to repair a previous conversation and they can’t prevent negativity from escalating out of control.  Failed Repair Attempts is a primary factor for unhappy relationships.  Every relationship has had some criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling at times but if you can’t repair the times that they happen not only does your unhappiness with the relationship increase but the likelihood of divorce increases as well.

Enough about Predictors of Divorce! Stay tuned for upcoming posts about Divorce-Proofing Your Marriage. Hooray!

Predictors of Divorce – The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

I recently had the opportunity to talk with some veteran officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department.  One of the things we talked about were predictors of divorce.

Drs. John & Julie Gottman  have done some fantastic research on this topic.  They have named the major predictors of divorce, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

Criticism – adding negative words about your partner’s character to a complaint implying, “What’s wrong with you?!”

Contempt – sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor

Defensiveness – blaming your partner conveying the message, “The problem isn’t me, it’s you.”

Stonewalling – a harsh start to a conversation with criticism and contempt leading to defensiveness, leading to more contempt and defensiveness until one partner tunes out

All relationships have these four elements from time to time but the important piece is how well your repair attempts go when these things pop up. Failed repair attempts are another predictor of divorce (look for more about failed repair attempts in upcoming posts…). With just the presence of these things on a consistent, long-term basis, Gottman’s research shows an 82% prediction of divorce. When you add failed repair attempts, that number climbs.​

Treating Depression Without Medication

I came across an interesting article recently about treating depression without medication.  Here is the full article:

10 Ways To Treat Depression Without Antidepressants​

Here is a summary of the 10 things they suggest you can try according and my two cents about them:

  1. Practice Mindfulness – Knowing what you have control over and what you don’t have control over is priceless. Know that you get to choose in each new moment what you want to believe and what you don’t want to believe.
  2. Laugh – Watch a funny movie or television show. This raises endorphins and works with the muscle memory in your facial muscles to subconsciously remember other times you laughed and were happy.
  3. Don’t Isolate Yourself
  4. Cut Toxic People Out Of Your Life – Sometimes you can do this, and sometimes you can’t. It’s more about your perception of those toxic people and the influence you allow them to have in your life.
  5. Try Alternative Drugs – I’m not sure I would recommend this one as they state it. I might recommend trying supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, etc.
  6. Eat The Right Foods
  7. Consider Acupuncture – I highly recommend this one. Look for a “community acupuncture” clinic in your city for affordability!
  8. Get Up And About – Even if you don’t feel like it. Movement helps!
  9. Grow A Garden
  10. Volunteer For A Cause You Believe In​

​Let me know what you thought of the article by leaving me a comment below.

With Gratitude,
Megan

Meditation Opportunity February 28, 2015 Louisville, KY

​I saw this posted at Heine Bros. Coffee. Looks pretty cool! Saturday, February 28, 2015 1-4pm at the Center for Integrative Health.

$75.

Reserve your spot!

Call Rory at (502) 558-7041 or email roryoga@att.net. Enjoy!

Gr-Attitude

Living from a place of gratitude is priceless in so many ways but there is something else that must happen first. I must be WILLING TO LET GO OF THE NEED for my current way of being.

For example, getting annoyed by my spouse and continually complaining about my marriage SERVES A PURPOSE.  Maybe I see aspects of myself in my spouse that I don’t like about myself and wish were different. Maybe being annoyed and complaining keeps a distance between us that makes being in an intimate relationship “safer” or less intense. Maybe I don’t believe I deserve to be in a “good” or happy marriage so I sabotage it.

Is there something in your life in which you are consistently negative? What purpose does it serve you to hold on to this negativity? Are you ready to let go of it and live life with a new gr-attitude?

Focus on Gratitude and Leave the Negativity Behind

I was reminded recently about how powerful and magical it is to live life from a place of gratitude. Gratitude shifts our focus from negative to positive.  If I focus on all the reasons why my marriage is difficult I am emerseing myself in negativity.  If I can shift my focus from all the negative things about my marriage to all the positive things (and keep reminding myself of them daily) things might not be as bad as I originally thought. Also, it takes 21-30 days of gratitude and focusing on the positive to really feel and see a difference so stick with it!