Bill, a software company head with blond hair and bright blue eyes, came to see me for the first time at age 35 years old. He was married to Anne, a pretty brunette who was a full-time mother of their three-year-old son, Cody. After living with Anne for five years, Bill had lost touch with the good feelings he once felt, and he was getting tired of the same old routine in their relationship.
On the one hand, Anne no longer seemed interested in Bill's attempts at romance. When he wanted to make love, she always seemed to have five household projects that had to be done. Although there was a time when everyone dropped everything to be sexual, those days were gone.
Bill brought back flowers after work to surprise Anne, but she scolded him, saying that they could not afford to spend that kind of money while raising their son. Basically, Bill felt hurt and angry because he was trying to do the little things that Anne liked. However, like millions of guys, he did not really know what he felt was anything other than a general feeling. When he felt this discomfort with Anne, he manipulated him by making sarcastic impulsive comments. At other times, he was spending hours at the computer, something that he knew she hated, just to get revenge on her.
Building a brick wall
Gradually between them two, and their love was buried. As the wall rose, Bill began to have fantasies of being with other women. He started going to lunch with a friendly colleague who made Bill believe that he was attractive, important and appreciated.
Bill secretly began looking for an apartment, thinking that he might want a separation. He was tired of chronic fights with his wife, but whenever he was looking at an apartment, he could not help wondering if that was what he really wanted. Just thinking about leaving Cody, his heart was pounding as he remembered his own education in a broken house too well. Bill did not want Cody to grow up with a dad he'd only seen on the weekends. He wanted to give him the stability that his father had never given him, but Bill did not want to sacrifice his own happiness. He felt confused and confused.
When Bill felt lonely, he ate more junk food, or he drank alcohol (drinking alcohol with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated). He was spending more money on fast food while he was reducing his workouts at the gym. After Cody was put to bed, Bill would go out drinking with his friends or stay awake late surfing the web. While her wedding was taking place in the corridors, chatting with girls on online dating sites was her favorite pastime. That, at least, brought a bit of excitement into his life.
The World of Instant Gratification
The media do superior work promoting instant gratification, and that was a problem for Anne and Bill, as for a significant percentage of couples. Delayed gratification involves being able to contain and manage your feelings while listening to your partner, and many people do not want to tolerate this embarrassment. Most people prefer instant gratification over deferred gratification, and this causes too many marriages to result in divorce. Many of these weddings could become exceptional if people learned to listen to their partners, ask good questions, keep their feelings on hold, and delay the gratification. During difficult discussions with Anne, Bill was impatient and found himself running around in circles, so he was having fun with alcohol, junk food and surfing the Internet instead of taking up the challenge of developing a strong marriage. , far too many marriages and partnerships collapse because people:
1. I do not know what they feel,
2. distract themselves when they feel uncomfortable, instead of getting closer to their true feelings,
3. become very defensive and responsive during conflict, and
4. stop expressing to their partners
The result over time is the construction of resentment, and love is buried. By getting to know Bill, you will learn how he had problems with all four. Bill's most serious problem was self-medication of his pain with alcohol, which put him and others at risk. From a physiological point of view, Bill was thinking about seeing a relationship therapist, but he kept putting it off
Bill made an appointment to see me few time after a police officer stopped him for driving under the influence. He knew that he was heading in the wrong direction and did not want to jeopardize his work. Bill was honest about what was going on in his marriage and had the emotional health of seeing that he was partly responsible for his relationship problems.
He confessed to having a rebellious side, which came out in his sarcastic comments to Anne. and his desire to return to her. He confessed to having intentionally left open the dating site window in the hope that Anne would be jealous. The thought of telling him that he felt hurt and wanted revenge was something that never crossed his mind. He never crossed his mind because he was only vaguely aware of these feelings, and slowly, brick by brick, he pushed back the person he really loved.
Consciousness of a deep depression that he traced back to growing up with an alcoholic father. As a young boy, Bill remembered being scared and hiding under his bed when his father was drunk and screaming. In many ways, Bill felt like he had lost his father to the bottle when Bill was only a preschooler. Without sound support from his parents, Bill has never heard of such basic feelings as sadness, anger, fear, frustration, excitement, and love / joy . When Bill tried to talk to his mother, she seemed absorbed in her own world, worried about her husband. Bill still remembered that grieved expression on his face every time he tried to reach out.
He never learned to differentiate himself, development process that involves learning skills and refined sub-sets. Since Bill never learned to identify his basic feelings, it was difficult to express what he wanted. This stifled the positive reactions of others that could eventually help Bill uncover his true identity. The only way Bill could get the support and appreciation was to meet the needs of his parents, and so he learned to put his feelings aside and restrain himself. Over time, this reserve drained a lot of energy that he could have used for valuable learning.
Bill started struggling with anxiety when he was about 12 years old – he threw and turned the night and sometimes just could not fall asleep. Sometimes he felt like he wanted to run away. He also felt boredom and a slight sense of depression that gradually progressed through his teenage years. During those years, he wanted his father to be there and support him, but instead he felt lonely and in need. That would have been the perfect time for Bill to do some relationship work.
It was clear to me that Bill was going to have a hard time stopping drinking and knowing his feelings because of his childhood stuffed pain. He admitted that he was not able to stop drinking completely, but he rationalized that the reduction would be the answer. Bill had suppressed many feelings for years, but there was a wonderful opportunity to work on his feelings in individual therapy and finally, in couple therapy.
In the section below you will learn some of Bill's experiments. individual therapy and some of the skills he needed to learn. To orient himself towards an exceptional relationship, Bill had first to develop a positive relationship with himself. This involved developing an awareness of his thoughts and feelings, from which he could make decisions about what actions he wanted to take. He also had to learn to express his feelings in a way that Anne could accept, if he were to save his marriage. Ultimately, it was important for Bill to realize that his alcohol consumption was self-defeating and that he had to make the decision to quit smoking.
Learning from the Past
It did not take long to understand more deeply why Bill had a hard time knowing what he was feeling. Not only was his father drunk, but he also had a family history of mood disorders. He thought his father was suffering from bipolar disorder even though he had never been diagnosed. Bill reported problems early in school – his teachers said that he was often out of his seat and was disrupting the class, and eventually his family doctor diagnosed the hyperactivity.
Apparently, some type of hyperactivity continued into adulthood; I learned that there were times when Bill made irrational decisions about spending, like buying a new car on a whim or planning a last minute trip, without consulting his wife. Clearly, his impulsiveness had a negative impact on his life – when he returned home with flowers, it only reminded Anne of these earlier episodes, and she immediately became critical
Anne and Bill seldom took the time to hear and were stuck in a cycle of defending their own positions. There was little understanding, so neither one nor the other could find a way to negotiate and return to harmony and health in their relationship. Their differences led to the destruction rather than the amazing relationship that Bill and Anne secretly wanted.
Given his symptoms of impulsive spending, the need to slow down sleep and slow down difficulties, I sent Bill back to a psychiatric examination. Evaluation. Dr. Filbert made a provisional diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder and Anxiety. Bipolar II is a mood disorder characterized by periods of depression, normal moods and symptoms of hypomania. The hypomania includes symptoms such as agitation, pressure and speed of speech, endless energy but needing 3 hours of sleep, participation in many activities, behavior silly and irritability. The doctor prescribed an antidepressant and a Lamictal, a mood stabilizer that helped Bill slow down and connect more deeply with his feelings. Since he could better identify what he was feeling inside, the drug really helped Bill to progress into therapy.
His homework in the early months of therapy was to identify whether he felt sad, insane, frightened, excited and / or in love. Bill kept a diary of his feelings and thoughts, and gradually he became more connected to his emotional side. He was finally able to talk to Anne about her pain and, fortunately, she understood. He still had a lot of work to do because he needed to learn self-appeasing techniques for agitation that was part of his bipolar II condition, and he also continued to bear a lot of repressed pains about his father.
Bill shared with me that his parents were divorced when he was 15 years old. He felt guilty during this time because he believed, on some level, that he was the cause of their divorce. His father left at a time when Bill needed his advice, and Bill felt responsible for taking care of his grieving mother. These conditions made it almost impossible for Bill to develop good relationships with his feelings. In addition, he had never learned to tolerate uncomfortable feelings or talk about problems in the context of a meaningful relationship. Essentially, Bill lacked models for healthy adult intimacy
Like Bill, there are people of all ages who try, at all costs, to avoid their feelings. Addictions of all kinds such as drugs, gambling, sex, alcohol and even food are all known to self-medicate emotional states that people think they can not tolerate. Conflict avoidance is another serious problem in relationships where adults lack effective listening skills and are disconnected from the depth of their feelings. The bottom line is that people can tolerate much more than they think, and these skills can dramatically improve communication and intimacy.
Developing strong bonds with feelings and being able to both contain and express these feelings are essential for mastering the challenges of life and developing exceptional relationships. Most people want to achieve important goals in their lives, but many do not succeed because they have not learned how to identify their feelings, tolerate the discomfort of negative emotions and stick to a plan to achieve an important goal.
Learning to Identify One's Feelings
Healthy people know what they feel and what to do. It was hard for Bill to understand because of his long history of burial of his feelings. With a little work in therapy, Bill gradually learned to identify more fully with the range of his feelings. He learned to go out with his uncomfortable feelings long enough to know what he was feeling, and then he could act on the feeling. But how are you going to learn this important skill?
Learning to identify and contain your feelings will take time, but it's worth every minute. Here are the five main stages of the process:
1. Plan calm to be with yourself.
2. Focus on an event of your day where you had an emotional reaction and take notes on how you felt and thought. Remember the basic feelings – do you feel sad, crazy, scared, excited, frustrated or in love / joy?
3. Stay with your feelings long enough to understand what you think and feel.
4. Leave a journal on everything that comes to your mind so you can deepen your emotions and generate options from that connection.
5. When you feel confused, stay with the process until you arrive somewhere.
Journaling is a great way to connect with your feelings, and I'm going to share a sample of Bill's journaling below. This will help you understand his inner struggle and see how journaling can help you connect with your feelings. In this section of the diary, from the beginning of his therapy, Bill was primarily struggling with his feelings towards Anne (the content was changed for confidentiality):
What is it? that I have in mind? Most of the time, I am connected to negative thoughts about Anne. She is a controlling monster, and all that interests her is to keep the house in perfect order. She prefers to clean the kitchen rather than make love. I am sick of her, and I feel bad that I want to move on. In fact, I am really mad at her, and I would like to make her pay for the way she abuses me. And how am I going to tell him all this?
Also, my life seems boring and such a routine. It's the same every day. The only bright star of my life is Cody. I feel stuck and I know this place. I feel stagnant, compressed and my energy is stuck in cream cheese. So what are my options? My therapist says "knowledge of options is power". So what are my options?
- I can tell Anne the truth about these feelings.
- I can continue on the path where I have been, filling my feelings.
- I can just move and find a new place to live.
- I could suggest tips for both of us.
- I could have an affair.
- I can talk about these feelings with my therapist.
It is hard to tell Anne the truth that I feel lonely, hurt and depressed, and she will probably tell me that I need to A therapist, as if something was not going to my home. I already feel that something is wrong with me – sometimes I feel like such a failure. I think it's best to talk to my therapist. Yes, this seems to be the best choice, so I'm going to trust that feeling.
From his journal, Bill and I were able to recognize that he felt angry and rebellious but beneath this layer of feeling he felt sad and lonely. He realized that he was really hurt when Anne did not want to make love.
I was also able to identify that Bill was struggling with bipolar depression and, sometimes, agitation. We instituted a weekly exercise plan, and he was better placed to go ahead. He took the track and the surf, and he quickly felt invigorated and better able to handle stress. With his commitment to identifying his thoughts and feelings, Bill was able to connect with his feelings, communicate more effectively and gradually work through the pain of his childhood. He expressed his rage on the way his father treated him, but found that under this feeling there was a deep sadness.
Bill later decided that he wanted to bring Anne into therapy, and in their third session he gathered to share his true thoughts and feelings. Naturally, he searched a little, but he was generally efficient in his communication. He used what is called "I" as "I feel very discouraged by our marriage, I feel angry at you and sometimes I say I want to leave the marriage."
[19459001ItiseasytoseethatthistypeofmessagetoldAnnemoreaboutwhatBill felt rather than what Anne did . Her communication prompted Anne to share that she felt hurt because of Bill's sarcastic comments. Anne confessed that she was moving away from Bill to take revenge on him. In fact, everyone was trying to get revenge on each other
Healthy disagreements and constructive communication were almost impossible when Anne and Bill could not share their true feelings. When Bill was in touch with a sense of defiance, his goal was to get rid of it quickly. Anne channeled her anger against Bill with a chronic cleanse because she had never learned the aggressive behavior of her mother. She needed to make a real effort to express her anger as soon as she became aware of it.
Anne and Bill both agreed to talk about what they wanted and work individually to keep notes to develop a stronger connection. to their thoughts and feelings. Gradually, each partner was able to connect with the full range of feelings, and although it took almost a year, they were able to revive their love and intimacy. Cody is now sixteen, and Bill and Anne have developed a set of skills that will serve them for years to come.
If you are one of the many people who are disconnected from their feelings, there is hope, there is help, and that is just a phone call away.
Source by Patrice Wolters, Ph.D.