How does Marijuana affect your Relationship?

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How Marijuana Can Affect Relationships

The impact marijuana can have on relationships remains to be a very controversial topic. Some hold the view that the two can never go hand in hand. Instead, they mix as well as dynamite and match; very explosive with widespread and far-reaching effects. While others believe that marijuana has no negative effects on relationships. In their view, it spices things up. This article, though not intended to hit at any side in favor of another, has captured nothing but the truth on how marijuana affects relationships from both schools of thought.

Success in any relationship calls for love, trust and compromise. In addition, it also requires the couple to be free of substance abuse and addiction in all of its forms.  In this context we are discussing marijuana ABUSE. I invite you to be open minded in this topic and not stay in the category of black and white thinking. Not everyone who smokes pot will abuse it or become addicted to it.

Pot smoking, like any substance, may seem innocent, harmless and even fun for some at the very outset. Though the habit initially kicks off as a way of establishing identity or possibly freedom of expression, it can eventually lead users down the path to ruin and destruction in any love relationship. It can set one’s life in a downward spiral that ultimately robs them of everything they value as far as love and relationship are concerned. Unfortunately, marijuana has become widely accepted and debatably legalized in many modern societies.

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How does marijuana affect your love life?

Having counseled many couples on relationship matters over the years, I hold as true the opinion that the abuse of pot can actually minimize progress and growth in relationships. Marijuana abuse can directly impact:

  • Personal life and friendship
  • Intimacy and commitments
  • family life and responsibilities
  • emotions

Personal life and friendship

If pot smoking ultimately turns habitual and addictive, the victim ceases to be himself or herself. The drug moves in and completely takes over such an unsuspecting soul. In no time, such an individual becomes consumed by social anxiety and paranoia.

At this stage, the pot addict is more likely to be introverted and neglected, even by close friends and confidants. Of course being high kind of redefines their brand of friends; they associate more with a clique of other addicts trapped in the same habit of pot smoking. These are the kind of friends that only sink them deeper in their abyss of frustrations. Essentially, the addict loses touch with reality and reason.

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Intimacy and commitments

In love life, intimacy is very critical. In fact, according to some studies, it is the glue that holds the relationship together longer. By its very nature, intimacy is about partners being able to see into each other. Precisely, intimacy guarantees a clear perception of an individual’s feelings as well as their partner’s.

Marijuana in a relationship acts contrary to this feeling. Though critics suggest it heightens intimacy, this substance is in fact insidious and dangerous in your relationship. The “sacred herb,” as some erroneously call it, is a mood-killer when abused and only detaches you from your own as well as your partner’s feelings. Besides, weed shortens memory and makes honoring commitments in a relationship quite the nightmare.

Family life and responsibilities

Whenever a recreational drug like marijuana turns addictive, cravings for the same makes one forget everything else but the pot. Abdication of duties and responsibilities in the family typically sets in at this stage. Real addicts are never worried about the welfare of their children or spouse. Not in the slightest. They live in denial, isolation and over time becomes overtly defensive of their actions. It is no surprise that such individuals resort to verbal attacks if questioned about any of their unbecoming behaviors.

The drug-free partner in a relationship that is bedeviled by marijuana suffers more psychological traumas than the addict. Such partners may at times feel betrayed, tricked or even short changed in the relationship. This often develops into self-blame; taking unnecessary responsibility for the addicted partner’s way of life. This might then degenerate into jealousy, rage and self judgement, the real ingredients of depression.

Ironically, if asked if they still love their spouse in the relationship, the addict is often quick to respond in the affirmative. Their continued use of pot is evidence to the contrary though.

Marijuana and emotions

Emotionally, pot smokers are not themselves. Research findings indicate that as one uses drugs time and again, likely the case with marijuana addicts, their emotional tone plummets lower and lower. Unless they are high, such individuals know not much happiness and pleasures in life. Such a twisted perspective ends up draining life in any relationship. In some cases the couple may call it quits and part ways, just like that. In some rare cases though, the pot-free partner may have the nerve and patience to wait and just hope for the best – a day when the love of their life will finally stop the bad habit. Success rate for such cases is often very slim because the addiction often turns chronic over time. Most of the patient pot-free partners end-up depressed and frustrated without the intervention of specialists like psychotherapists and psychologists.

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How to recover from marijuana addiction

Clearly, marijuana and relationships are immiscible. The good news however is that marijuana addiction as a condition can be reversed. Various effective recovery programs are in place for the same. These programs remake the addict anew so that they once again come into the light. With well-thought-out alternatives, these programs helps clients regain a brighter outlook on life as a whole, integrity and self-respect. This way, they can once again love and be loved back.

To the drug free partner in the relationship, patience is of the essence. Give your partner time to shed off the bad habit. If the addict remains defiant and unappreciative of your patience then consider exploring other options like:

  • seeking help from a psychotherapist
  • divorce

The second option should come last; only upon exploring all available options and all concerted efforts rendered futile. Though this therapy is known to shock drug users into reality, it is likely to impact negatively on kids, if there are any. So, settle for divorce only if your partner’s marijuana addiction condition deteriorates and becomes so much over the top or is clearly on the brink of spinning out of control.

Communication Breakdown: Why do we listen to reply and not listen to understand?

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Why We Tend to Listen to Reply and not Listen to Understand

As a skill, listening is very critical in communication. It is the best way to pass across information and, more importantly, knowledge between individuals. Even so, studies suggest that over the years, our listening ability has only deteriorated. We no longer listen to understand. Instead, we listen to reply.

Studies show that we spend close to 60 per cent of everyday listening to others, but only retain a quarter of what we hear. Part of the reason for this could be that the world around us has become louder over time. A careful scrutiny and analysis of issues reveal the real suspects in play; a delicate combination of a pair of aspects within the human brain. These aspects include:

  • The lag time concept
  • The confirmation bias aspect

The lag time concept

Charles Gross, in his study at Princeton University in 2010, discovered what he called lag time in communication. It is the time duration between what you hear and what you understand. Now, according to Gross, lag time is in the range of a few seconds up to a minute. Of course this varies among individuals.

According to Charles Gross, lag time is the reason people listen more to reply than to understand. In fact, this is where real trouble begins. During lag time we shift attention to ourselves. We stop listening to the others. Instead, we listen to ourselves, a perfect recipe for communication breakdown. During the same phase, we tend to figure out a quick response rather than let the message sink in. The whole conversation then ends up into a fierce contest.

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What causes lag time in communication?

The exact cause of lag time is still unclear, though psychotherapists and psychologists believe human emotions holds a center stage and are very critical to it. Thoughts, beliefs, values, perceptions and opinions are also other very vital ingredients of an individual’s lag time.

The confirmation bias aspect

In the words of Grand Eklund, “You are only listening to what you want to hear.” I can’t agree with Eklund more. In all most every communication setting, people tend to pick out facts and other figures they deem fit; what affirms their pre-existing perspectives, values and beliefs. In so doing, they listen with more intent to reply than to understand – a real communication disaster. That is in fact how the confirmation bias concept operates.

Healthy conversation should involve listening to every detail of what is spoken. Confirmation bias however contradicts this. It makes it quite the challenge to listen and acquire knowledge.

How does confirmation bias come about?

Psychologists hint that confirmation bias has some level of connection and link with how slow individuals speaks in comparison to how fast they listen. Studies show that the human brain has the ability to process words at an optimum rate of between 600 and 1000 words per minute. When we speak, individuals communicate roughly 175 to 200 words a minute. Clearly, we aren’t utilizing our brain’s full capacity, especially when listening. Because of this underutilization of potential, the human brain tends to drift off into other aspects that would make up for that deficit; the onset of competitive listening.

Competitive listening is best explained using George Miller’s Law. In order to understand what someone else is saying, one has to first assume that the other person’s position is true and then try to find out what is actually true in it. A negation of Miller’s concept bears what is known as competitive listening; hearing something then reacting negatively to it, in part because of a belief that the other person’s position is false. In this spirit, listening grinds to a halt and communication breaks down.

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Way forward to effective listening

Many years of exploring listening as an art points me in a common direction; that effectiveness in listening can only be achieved through awareness and concentration. Yes, simply allowing yourself to listen better without coercion.

In order to “listen to understand and not just to reply”, we need to concentrate more voluntarily. This way, we acquire more knowledge and also make our conversations more effective.

The Power of Affirmations

beliefs-and-affirmations-IIIt can be quite difficult sometimes to think of something positive about ourselves. At times, we are our own harshest critics. It is easier to point out our own flaws, than recognize the positive things about ourselves. It is so important that we can find the positive things about ourselves, developing our self-love.

shutterstock_132820748Self-love is something that many people struggle with, finding it hard to love and accept themselves for who they are. This can be because of a lifetime of being told that they aren’t good enough, trying to live up to impossible standards, and feeling like they have let people down when they don’t. There can be a lot of shame and guilt associated with insignificant failures, and they can be carried for years beyond the memory of the failure itself. These situations can take a serious toll on your well-being, namely your self-esteem and confidence, components that are essential to self-love.

Affirmations are a great way to boost self-esteem, confidence, and help you regain a sense of self-love. They are simple, easy to remember sayings that are meant to promote positive self-talk and remind you of just how great you really are. Affirmations are an easy way to remind yourself each and every day that there are so many great things about you. Affirmations can also be used to learn acceptance and move past some of the mistakes we might have made. Below are just a few examples.

I am worthwhile and intelligent. My contributions matter.daily_affirmations_giveaway_02

I am beautiful/handsome.

I love myself.

I forgive myself for the mistakes I have made.

I trust myself.

I can see the wonderful things that others see in me.

Coming up with your own affirmations will help making them more specific to yourself. Think about what you struggle to believe about yourself, and turn it into an affirmation. There is no reason for you to feel any less amazing than you are, and by taking a moment each day to remind yourself, you are building a path to a happier and healthier you.

Affirmations help remind us just how unique, capable, and special each and every one of us is. They lead us towards developing a better sense of self-love, contributing to a higher self-esteem and confidence level. Affirmations are extremely powerful and can help you change your outlook on yourself as well as your life. Next time you are feeling sad, scared, alone, or insignificant, remember just how amazing you are.

Aaron’s Apple

lovehopefaith A child in pain is something that no one ever wants to witness. Parents of children living with chronic illness watch their children struggle with some of the simplest things. Chronic illness shouldn’t take away a child’s opportunity to be a child. The foundation Aaron’s Apple helps to ensure just that.

Aaron’s Apple is an organization that helps families with chronically ill children. Their mission is to provide direct funding for medications and treatments that some families cannot afford for their children. They strive to make sure that children do not have to suffer with the pain that can come from chronic illness.

Aaron’s Apple is hosting a charity event on March 6th, 2014. This event is a night of education and inspiration to those living with chronic illness, IBD and other autoimmune diseases. I am absolutely honoured to be speaking at this event.

My topic is “Living with a chronic illness is not a life sentence”. There are so many ways in which chronic illness can be better understood and conquered. Simple things like encouraging strength, hope, being supportive, and having faith can completely change the outlook of those suffering. Reaching out is one of the most important things that you can do for those living with a chronic illness. Being that shoulder to rest on, that uplifting kind word at the end of a rough day, can mean the world to someone in pain.

Transform. Motivate. Awaken. Change your outlook, and watch those around you change theirs.

How Will A Sexually Transmitted Disease Effect You?

images-4Sexual relationships are tricky, no matter what your situation. It can be a delicate balancing act of physical attraction and emotional interest in your partner. But what if your partner has a sexually transmitted disease? Would you still sleep with them? Would you be concerned about becoming infected yourself? How does it change the dynamic of your sexual relationship with this person? Having an active sex life while having a sexually transmitted disease can be a hot button issue between sexual partners, but how should it be handled?

Having an STD can drastically change your sex life. There is a large amount of shame that comes from having a sexually transmitted disease. Shame in the fact you have a disease and shame that you could pass it on to others and drastically change their lives. Society puts a label on those that have an STD, one that defines them as unclean, promiscuous, unprepared, and undesirable. The truth of the matter is that some people contract STDs from those that they love and trust. Yes, your chances for contracting an STD go up with the number of partners you have, but there are many people who have slept with very few people and contracted an STD from a long term partner. The tried and true “don’t judge a book by its cover”, applies here just as it does to other situations. It may be disheartening to many people that you have something you could pass on to them. The risk for transmission can be very high for diseases, even higher when you engage in unprotected sex. Unsuspecting partners are much less likely to protect themselves, than those who know they are sleeping with someone who has an STD. It is extremely difficult to tell someone that you are interested in that you have a disease of this nature, but there are responsibilities on both sides of the table.images-2 (1)

For the person that is living with the disease, responsibility is important. Owning up to the fact that you are infected is so important. You have a responsibility to inform your partners and make sure that you are doing everything you can to protect them as well as yourself from contracting further infections and diseases. You are not your disease. It is important to remember that you have value and can contribute more than just sexually. You will be rejected by some people, and others will have questions. It is important that you prepare yourself for these situations by owning your disease and having responsible practices when it comes to sex.

For the person that is considering sleeping with someone with a sexually transmitted disease, it is important to remember that it is completely your choice. It is your choice to engage or not engage in sexual activity with someone who has a sexually transmitted disease, but you need to know the facts. The best way to protect yourself is to be informed. Know what you are getting into 110%. The internet may be a good resource but a medical professional is the best. Talking to someone first hand will allow you to ask the important questions. And don’t be afraid to ask your potential partner the questions that you have.

images (1)So where can you get support and information about sexually transmitted diseases? One place to start is your GP, gynecologist, or medical doctor. They will be able to provide you with the information that you will need or at least point you in the right direction of that information. There are also resources in the community that can assist you with your sexual health. In Toronto, there is the Bay Centre for Birth Control. It is centered around women’s health and can help you with examinations, information, counselling, and referrals. (Links provided below)

Having a sexually transmitted disease does not have to stop your sex life. As long as you are responsible and respectful, there are many options for those wishing to have intercourse with someone who is/isn’t infected. There are many couples that have successful and fulfilling relationships when one or both partners is infected. It is important to remain hopeful and look towards total wellness; mind, body, and spirit.

Links:

http://www.womenscollegehospital.ca/programs-and-services/family-planning-fertility-care-sexual-health/bay-centre-for-birth-control460/

http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=30865e67bbee0410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextfmt=default

Drug Abuse in Affluent Teens

Money can do very strange things to people. It can cause some to completely lose their sense of self, which in turn causes them to seek out a new sense of self. Often times with kids and teens that are raised in a wealthy environment this can be the case because they are looking for a sense of purpose. They struggle to make an identity for themselves, separate from their family name. Their parents are often high achievers, Unknown (1)choosing to work and earn rather than spend time with their families. Being a high achiever comes with high standards, standards that teenagers may often fail to meet. These expectations can be overwhelming for a child. Children in wealthy families also often have a lot more spare time on their hands than other children would. Often times they lack responsibilities such as chores and jobs, leaving them with unstructured and unfilled time. So what do these children and teens choose to fill their time with? Well they often have the means to participate in anything that they would like to, but there are some that will choose to do something extreme to make an identity of their own. This is where experimentation and the abuse of substances comes in.

Prescription medications, illicit substances, and alcohol are more readily available to more affluent teenagers. Whether they are purchasing from peers, or taking them from home, wealthier teenagers seem to have access to a wider variety of substances early on and the means to acquire anything they might have in mind. It is pretty much a given that there will be substances present at a high school party, and it should come as no images-3 (1)surprise that there is a large variety to choose from. More and more teenagers are choosing to experiment during parties with their friends, and it is a breeding ground for future addiction and substance abuse. Often trying these drugs once is more than enough to get hooked, and the consequences aren’t always the first thought with teens and peer pressure.

One question that often can come about is how is it possible for kids to get a hold of these substances? Often the home medicine cabinet is more than enough. Coupled with an accessible liquor cabinet, the home can be just as diverse in the types of things kids are trying to get their hands on. This begs the question, what can be done about preventing overdose and addiction?

Well the first step is education about the consequences of using drugs. Now this isn’t exclusive to educating about illicit substances like cocaine and heroin, but also the dangers of using alcohol, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications imagesas well as marijuana. Often times parents will use scare tactics in an attempt to discourage their children from using drugs, but this doesn’t work. Just the facts are often enough. This education needs to be paired with encouragement to make good choices and an understanding that there is an open line of communication at all times. Structure is also very important for teens. It is important that they learn responsibility and earning what they have. Teaching teenagers these values early on is a great way to set them up to be a contributing adult.  Having dinner as a family can be the most crucial time you have with your kids and teens in educating them, creating communication, spending time with them and bonding with them daily. images-1 (1)

Adolescence is a crucial period in a child’s life. Their bodies, minds, and spirits are changing at a rapid rate, and with these changes comes big responsibility. It is so important that children and teens are educated about drugs and alcohol in order to make informed decisions. Mistakes will be made, boundaries will be pushed, but the important things is that the teens stay safe, happy and healthy.

How Can You Spot A Narcissist?

images-6They are like human magnets, drawing in those around them. They can be downright captivating, but within them lies ulterior motives. Narcissists thrive on being admired by those that surround them, and find it difficult to be told that they are not beautiful or brilliant. Like the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, they are cursed because they love no one but themselves. They are destined to waste away, alone with their vanity and need for acknowledgement. The truth of the matter is that we all have a narcissistic streak, as it is a trait that varies in degree from person to person. There are some aspects of narcissism that are healthy and adaptive, like confidence and self-sufficiency. But when taken to the extreme, they become classified as narcissistic personality disorder. So what are the characteristics of a true narcissist?

High levels of self-esteem, grandiosity, self-focus, and self-importance are common amongst narcissists. Narcissists think that they are more attractive and intelligent that everyone else and have no problem telling those around them. They carry themselves with the utmost confidence, ensuring that those around them take notice. At first narcissists may just seem arrogant and full of themselves, but there are clear Unknown-1differences between a narcissist and someone who is self-centered. Narcissists are vain to an extreme degree, feel entitled, and use different manipulation techniques to ensure that everyone around them admires them.

Big, anonymous cities are where narcissists will thrive, often finding careers in entertainment-related fields. Narcissists are quick to accept positions where they will be leaders, allowing them to dominate and impress others without the negative impact of a bad reputation (which is often achieved through their promiscuity and socially unacceptable behaviour). This need to lead is not necessarily to manipulate others, but to receive more recognition and positive reinforcement from others.

This allows for a narcissist to be comfortable maintaining distant ties with those they surround themselves with. The way that narcissists interact with others is especially interesting. While they engage in less desirable communication techniques (yelling, cursing, arguing, etc.), they still engage those around them. This is all to maintain power in an interaction. They tend to not reciprocate conversation very well, “glazing over” while others are speaking. Narcissists are not interested when the attention is not on them.

images-2Another important characteristic to consider about narcissists is their sexual habits. Men and women who score high on narcissism tests express more interest in short-term physical relationships, rather than long-term relationships. In order to engage those they desire, women will often times dress more provocatively, while men will engage more in bragging and using their wit. Promiscuity is the direct result of their search for the best deal for themselves. They use this as another way to control their environment, and even when in a committed relationship they are much more likely to be unfaithful. Unknown-2

Narcissists have a very Jekyll and Hyde personality. When the charm and dazzle wears off, and those around them start to become disenchanted, narcissists transform. They become angry, hostile, and will punish anyone who does not support their grandiose vision of themselves. Rejection is not something a narcissist will ever come to accept until they can come to terms with their warped sense of self.

Narcissism is a complicated and serious disorder. While we are all a little bit narcissistic, the degree to which it comes out depends greatly on our underlying beliefs about ourselves. Narcissism is handy in reminding us how important we are, helping to build confidence and self-esteem. But it can be a very lonely disorder. Despite having all the followers they could possibly want, narcissist are left standing alone, the only ones truly able to fill up the hole they are constantly trying to fill with admiration. Hope, faith, love, and understanding can guide a narcissist away from the fate of Narcissus, the namesake of the disorder. With a little support and a lot of hard work/reflection, narcissism is something that can be conquered.