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Green Hills with Blue Sky


Agree to Disagree:
Respectfully Holding Differing Views
There’s no shortage of controversial issues in our world. Politics, religion, social issues, and even personal tastes in music and art can fuel conflict in our interactions with others. But what happens when you disagree about certain topics with a romantic partner, family member, or close friend? Can you maintain your views without sabotaging your relationship? Yes! Here are 5 strategies for disagreeing with a loved one while maintaining a strong connection:
Last month I wrote about finding healthy space in your relationship. But what if the very thought of letting go of your partner, even a little, is a one-way ticket on the A train (that’s A for anxiety) straight to Clingsville?

If you have a history of abandonment or unfaithful partners, it might send you into a tailspin when your beloved asks for a little friend time or alone time. Your fear or jealousy my be fueled by unhealed emotional wounds that you look to your partner to fix, or an emptiness you hope s/he will fill.

What you’re faced with is a challenge of differentiation. Renowned relationship expert and couples therapist David Schnarch PhD writes extensively on this delicate balance between individuality and connection. He points out that our task as adults is to learn to hold on to ourselves in the face of such anxiety—to calm ourselves down and give our partner room to be who s/he is.

Easier said than done, to be sure.
Movies and pop culture often portray two people in love as inseparable and completely enamored with one another. Some struggle when they realize that the experience of real life can be quite different. The truth is that almost everyone in a relationship needs a little personal space and even time away. But how can you get a breather while still maintaining your relationship? Here are some reasons why space is important and also ways to create boundaries and still keep your connection strong:

If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path
by Charlotte Kasl

Spiritual, yes. Stuffy? Not one bit. If your “chooser” is broken, this could be your go-to guide for finding love. Kasl offers a Buddhist perspective on discerning potential partners who might actually be good for you!

Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart
by John Welwood

Bitter, party of one? Or maybe you’re chronically dissatisfied with your relationships. Welwood might say you’re stuck in a state of grievance. His deceptively simple treatise offers powerful practices/exercises anyone can perform to move beyond grievance to connect with the essential force of the universe (yup, it’s Love). Do try this at home.
Trauma and Its Aftermath

Part IV: Healing
Can you really heal from the terror of a traumatic experience? What about the chronic trauma of childhood physical or sexual abuse? Over and over, my client-survivors have taught me the answer is yes. The lingering sense of helplessness and horror can soften and, with hard work, resolve, allowing these individuals to move on with their lives.

Psychotherapists use many methods to help survivors heal—EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are just a few. Whatever the treatment method, there are common tasks that every survivor must tackle in order to resolve trauma:
Trauma and Its Aftermath

Part III: Fight, Flight or Freeze: What Difference Does it Make?
A child huddled on the roof of her home, pelted by rain while floodwaters rise around her…

A Gulf War soldier stunned and powerless as a convoy of his comrades is blownapart by an IED…

A woman cowering as she is punched and kicked, yet again, by her raginghusband, while their terrified children look on.

Each of these individuals is experiencing the threat and horror of a traumaticevent. Woven into each experience is something perhaps more devastating: a sense of paralysis or helplessness in the face of great danger.
Trauma and Its Aftermath

Part II: The Trauma Response: Fleeting or Enduring?
According to the U.S Dept. of Veterans Affairs, 50-60 percent of us will experience some trauma in our lives, but only 4-10 percent of the overall population develops PTSD. Why does one person’s trauma resolve quickly, while another’s suffering endures for years? The answers lies in a complex interaction of personal variables (age, gender, psychological stability) and external factors (the type and duration of the trauma, the response of loved ones).
Trauma and Its Aftermath

Part I: You’re Not Crazy—But You Might Have PTSD
Susan* came to me in turmoil. For the past month, the 42-year-old attorney had been having terrifying nightmares about being chased down by men in hoods. Nagging, inexplicable anxiety drove her to check her locks repeatedly, and to look over her shoulder constantly, even when walking through her law office or her safe suburban neighborhood. At times the anxiety escalated into full blown panic attacks. Despite her strong stand on gun control, she confided that she was thinking of getting a hand gun for protection.

“I can’t believe I’m even considering a gun. I think I’m going crazy.”

As it turned out, Susan was not psychotic; she was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Making Friends with Food in the New Year
As the holiday season ends and the new year begins, media messages about weight loss seem to be everywhere. I’m struck by the shaming tone these often take. Rich foods are framed as “guilty pleasures” or “temptations”— as if enjoyment is a sin. Gaining a few pounds becomes an occasion for self recrimination. And everywhere we are surrounded by numbers: calories/fats/carbs consumed, inches and pounds gained or lost, BMI (body mass index) figures to let you know if your weight (and your character?) are in the “normal” range.
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