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Cheating SpouseJackie stared at the cell phone statement. It showed the calls her husband, Martin, had made to Sarah, one of his co-workers. He had averaged five phone calls and 25 text messages a day.

In shock at this evidence of her husband’s cheating, Jackie didn’t know how to respond. Her initial reaction was to explain it away. Surely the calls must be about work projects or something else that was perfectly innocent. After talking with a friend, however, she became convinced that she needed to confront Martin about his behavior.

Infidelity is a difficult issue to contend with in any type of relationship. It creates many feelings of anger, rage, resentment, betrayal, fear, uncertainty, confusion, loneliness, abandonment, guilt, shame, sadness, helplessness, and many times even hopelessness. The trust that was once in the relationship has been destroyed, and the crucial question to be answered is whether that trust can ever be restored.

The betrayal creates grief for the loss of the relationship as it was prior to the infidelity. Since grief is part of the process in dealing with a cheating spouse, it is helpful to understand the stages of grief and how they might play out in rebuilding trust and safety in the relationship. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is known for her five stages of grief, and others have added to and modified her list.

Seven stages of grief that a person might go through with a cheating spouse are:

  1. Shock and Denial
  2. Hurt and Betrayal
  3. Anger and Blaming Others
  4. Bargaining, Guilt, and Shame
  5. Loneliness and Abandonment
  6. Depression and Blaming Oneself
  7. Processing Feelings to Acceptance

In the next few posts, I will talk about the importance of working through these stages before deciding whether the relationship can be saved or if it is time for the relationship to end.

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Moose_Kiss

I find vacations important, fun and exciting. This summer Liz and I decided to go to Alaska to visit our son and his girlfriend who live up there. We had a great time appreciating the beauty and vastness that Alaska has to offer. We saw three bears when we were there—all in our son’s yard.

But though we hunted high and low, we saw no moose. In desperation to see a moose, we visited a wonderful reindeer farm that had one. Since Liz and I enjoy trying new and different things, we both volunteered when we were offered the opportunity to kiss the moose. With the end of the moose’s nose as large as my head, it was a little intimidating even though the process was set up in a way to be safe.

We were invited to stick a carrot in our mouth and go up to the fence where the moose would come and eat the carrot out of our mouth. Both Liz and I were successful. We found it rather enjoyable, other than the face full of slobber from the moose. His nose was soft and gentle. Both Liz and I were touched and connected with the moose in a special way that we will remember.

I hope some day you might have the opportunity to kiss your safe moose as well.

Enjoy.

Emotional Freedom

Finding Emotional FreedomThis past summer I went to visit my parents for the first time since the publication of my book, Finding Emotional Freedom. I had actually forgotten, at the time of the visit, that I had shared with my parents and many of my siblings that I had written the book. I was surprised and saddened by the welcome I received from my mother.

When Liz and I arrived, my mother proceeded to share how angry she was about the book. She told me if I were to do a book signing, that “it would be over.” She went on to say how much of a liar I am and that I need to get the story straight. What is interesting is that nothing she talked about was in the book.

I share this story to demonstrate what most of us might call a no-win scenario. As I have reflected on this interaction with my mother, I’ve seen that almost any interaction would have, in her mind, justified her position and validated her anger. I asked a few friends for thoughts about how they might have responded, and listening to their thoughts clarified just how few options there are in such a scenario to respond in ways that honor ourselves.

Arguing. To argue with Mom would be engaging at her level, which would allow her to validate that her anger and position were justified.

Apologizing. This would likewise have justified her position, because an apology would imply that I had done something wrong. If I did no wrong, there was no need to apologize.

Attempting to explain or justify my position. This would also be an invitation for Mom to justify in her mind that she was correct. If I had no need to defend myself, why do it?

Say nothing. In this case, with such a strong conviction that I was wrong and she was right, silence would once again validate her position. In her mind, if I had nothing to say for myself and could not stand up for myself, I must be wrong.

When Mom was finished sharing her thoughts and her sideways anger, my response was “that’s an interesting perspective.”

Later that day I learned that she shared with a nephew that she “might have been a little hard on me.” This response told me that I had responded appropriately.

As you read and reflect on this blog, I invite you to consider this question: “How do I respond to someone who is communicating in a fashion that has no perceived positive outcome?”

Emotional Freedom

It was 15 years ago at a Valentines dance that I first saw and met Liz, my wife. For this reason Valentine’s Day is special for us. As the years pass, the question is how do we keep the love and spark alive in our relationship with each other.

Early in a relationship, it’s easy to create a romantic spark. As the years go by, creating the spark can be more difficult. Doing the same thing all the time takes the spark out, so how do we come up with new ideas of showing our partners how important they are to us?

While big ideas can be great, small things can be even more important. Ideas that seem to create the greatest spark in a relationship are ones that involve thinking about and investing in that thought so the other person feels special and loved.

Some romantic ideas to consider may include:

  • Coming home with a rose in your mouth as a way to kiss and give the rose
  • Hiding favorite chocolates in unexpected places that are easily found
  • Cleaning the house
  • Making a candlelight dinner for two
  • Create Shania Twain’s “Party for Two”
  • Make a special dinner together
  • Have a dance party for two
  • Call and leave a message of a kiss only
  • Listen without comments, criticism or attempts to fix
  • Write a poem or love letter
  • Create an adventure together
  • Create time to share all the wonderful qualities you recognize in the other person
  • Set a date to do things your partner enjoys doing and than another date to do what you like to do
  • Make a special visit to the place you met, proposed, honeymooned or some other special spots
  • Search the Internet for other romantic ideas

Hopefully Valentine’s Day will be special for you and your sweetheart. To help make it special, if you have any romantic ideas, please add them by responding to this blog.

Emotional Freedom

ChileWith the cold weather we have had this winter, Liz and I appreciated having an opportunity to go to Chile so I could co-facilitate a workshop with a colleague and friend. The season is summer down there so we were able to bask in 80 – 90 degree weather.

One of the things I greatly appreciate about traveling and working in other countries is the opportunity to experience different cultures, perspectives and ways of doing things. The people were very friendly and helpful. The food we enjoyed the most was at my friend’s home, where his house nanny made authentic Chilean and Peruvian food. One of the areas I struggled with is the concept of time. I was tired at the end of the day, and being told that dinner typically starts around 9:00 pm was not exciting for me. It did afford more time to connect with others, though.

While there are many differences with other cultures, I was appreciative and validated to see that body language is universal. It was the part that helped communication be successful. I look forward to the opportunity to visit my friend and Chile again, as well as other countries, because of the opportunities traveling affords me to learn and grow.

Emotional Freedom

One of the first words a child learns is “No.” This word is powerful. Its impact creates a pattern for some people that prevents them from doing anything. For others, it creates a situation where they do everything because they are unable to say “No.” In either case we learn not to matter enough to do what we might actually want to do. Instead, we remain stuck or do projects we had no intention of doing.

At one time I fit in the group that could not say “No” and was very busy. Today Liz gets concerned that I could easily go down that path again, so she helps me discern the pros and cons of saying “Yes” or “No.” While I tend to keep a full schedule, I am not overwhelmed as I was when I could not say “No.”

“No” is a complete sentence and can be very helpful and healthy to use in this busy world. “No” sets limits and creates needed and necessary space to take care of ourselves. I hope you can say a healthy “No” this week.

Emotional Freedom

We hear in many ways the need to be positive. Yet it seems to lack meaning and purpose when we repeat positive messages over and over again with no positive results. If being positive is so important, why is it so difficult to be positive? And how do we create positive energy in our lives?

When we are taught to hide our feelings, we learn we do not matter and we learn to hide our true selves.  Our true selves are always positive, loving and caring, yet why do we not connect with ourselves this way?  In hiding our true selves, we focus on more negative energy as a way to cope in our environment. This negative energy keeps us stuck and trapped.

For many of us, attempting to focus on the positive is difficult because it is unfamiliar. It is also scary to do something that is emotionally unfamiliar. When we are able to face the fear of the unfamiliar and feel the natural positive energy that is within us, the negative energy starts to decrease. A natural power starts to well up within that helps us realize we do matter in ways we were unaware of.

Focusing on our emotional truth—our true, straight feelings—is the first step in connecting with our positive energy.

Featured

The Daily Helpline is a new advice show being aired on Fox-owned television stations across the country. One of the segments, which focused on a guest’s financial difficulties, included a strong endorsement of financial therapy and Dave’s work. You can see the segment here.

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TransferenceConversations can be frustrating and disappointing many times when all we want is to be heard and validated, yet we receive advice, judgment, control and criticism.

In the counseling profession there is a term called transference, in which one person subconsciously transfers what he or she is feeling to another person. For example, if I am feeling angry and am not consciously aware of my anger, I may assume you are angry. Countertransference is the same type of emotional transferring of feelings, this time from the second person back onto the person that did the transference.

I find that the potential of transference/countertransference exists, not just in therapy sessions, but in all conversations. I recently had a transference/countertransference experience that was a good reminder for me to be ever aware of the potential.

I wanted and needed to do something that required working with another professional. In order to do so, I needed to get approval from another colleague. What seemed to be a simple request turned out to be a big headache.

The colleague initially denied my request and presented a number of reasons that were inconsistent and incongruent. I began to feel controlled and manipulated. As I continued to negotiate, it became clear that their responses were not about me.

With the help of some feedback from others, I realized the inconsistency and incongruence of the responses indicated that some form of transference was occurring. I found it helpful to realize how easy and subtle it is for transference to occur. It prevented some of the people involved from hearing what I was actually requesting. Others, who did hear me, were able to help me explore deeper into my underlying motivation for this request.

This was a good reminder to be more aware of the possibility of transference. One way to reduce that possibility is to mirror back what I hear with the words and body language of the other person, with no interpretations of my own.

Featured

We hear in many ways the need to be positive and yet it seems to lack meaning and purpose when we repeat positive messages over and over again with no positive results. If being positive is so important why is it so difficult to to be positive and how do I create positive energy in my life.

When we live in negative energy, we do not matter and are taught to hide our true self. Our true self is always positive, loving and caring, yet why do we not connect with our selves this way? When we are taught to hide our feelings we are taught we do not matter and we learn to hide our true selves. In hiding our true selves, we focus on more negative energy as a way to cope in our environment. This negative energy keeps us stuck and trapped.

For many of us, attempting to focus on the positive is difficult because it is unfamiliar. It is also scary to do something that is emotionally unfamiliar. When we are able to face the fear of the unfamiliar and feel the natural positive energy that is within us, the negative energy starts to decrease and a natural power starts to well up within that helps us realize we do matter in ways we were unaware of.

Focusing on our emotional truth (true straight feelings) is the first step in connecting with our positive energy.