What do you choose, “Love or Fear”?

Love has inspired more songs, poems and stories than any other feeling, yet it is one of the most complex emotions to understand. In fact, it’s so complex that at least once in our lives we all have asked to ourselves this question: What is Love?

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From a pure biological point of view, we could say that love is a survival mechanism of the species, in which dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin, oxytocin and many other hormones and neurotransmitters, play a role in bonding.

From a psychological point of view, it is the balance between intimacy, passion and compromise – according to the Triangular Theory of Love by Sternberg.

Our brain reacts according to its past experiences, the environmental circumstances of the moment, and its own chemistry, leading to an infinity of ways to love, however… what happens when fear takes place in our lives when we try to love and to be loved by someone?

First of all, it is necessary to clarify that no feeling is a bad feeling; fear is not a negative thing, it actually is a defense mechanism that helps us to prevent accidents, such as being burnt by a candle for example. Fear is necessary; therefore what we need to do is to control it.

The limbic system is the one in charge of regulating emotions, avoidance of pain and in general, all functions of conservation of the individual and species. It’s the one in charge of fear and love, altogether.

Being afraid is natural, fearing a little bit is ok; the problem lays when fear is constant in a relationship, altering not just our environment, but also our health since it is a direct impact to our limbic system and it affects not just our emotions or our relationship, it affects our bodies too. Fearing your husband may be having an affair because he came half an hour late, fearing your wife will ask for divorce because you don’t feel attractive enough, fearing your boyfriend may leave you after you decide to take that job is nothing but a lack of trust and it blocks you from your natural state of feeling love.

NEAT.jpg  People tend to have a utopian point of view when it comes to love thanks to the media constantly sending wrong ideas of what love truly is to our brain. These wrong ideas lead to insecurities and false idealizations that make us fear, while in reality there is nothing to be afraid of. Maybe your husband came late because there was a lot of traffic, maybe your wife likes your belly, and maybe your boyfriend will find a way to stay in touch with you no matter the distance. In the end, not every time we fear something means that there is a problem, and if there is a problem there probably is a solution; also, if there is no solution to the problem, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, it could be the beginning of a brand new adventure.

Relationships are always going to have ups and downs since no relationship is perfect and this is something we must understand. Perfection is not a synonym of happiness as well as imperfection is not a synonym of sadness.

Fear stops you from loving entirely, from enjoying your food, your favorite TV show; in fact, it stops you from enjoying life itself. Human beings are rational. To overcome your fears in the relationship it’s necessary to talk. If you feel there is a problem, if you feel insecure or if you just feel something isn’t right, talk about it with your partner in a calm manner when the two of you can talk about the issue alone.

Always keep in mind that you and your partner are an entire person each, and that you deserve to be entirely loved, that includes your flaws also; try to understand his/her concerns and insecurities, since your partner must have them too.

Don’t let fear take over your relationship or your life, be assertive and find ways to clarify things and keep alive the flame of love. Overcoming fears and problems could make your bond stronger and deeper, making you experience love in a healthier way.h_1478853182_5895853_d41d8cd98f.png

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.

Daddy Issues and their Impact on Relationships

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Wondering what this possibly means?  Well, read on for the actual truth and other shocking revelations on daddy issues and how it impacts relationships……

Daddy issues is a general term that describes a woman’s self-destructive behaviour often typified by a desperate ache for male attention. Now, that much suffices the definition of this whole aspect.

Women in this condition let themselves be misused by men. Unfortunately, some of us are or have been these kind of women. If not, then we probably know of friends who very well fit in the above descriptions. This problem is real and needs to be fixed sooner than later, lest it spill over into relationships and ruin everything.

May be you still don’t get the details of it. Or maybe this whole narrative on daddy issues doesn’t seem to hold much sense to you. Well, then these leading questions may just be all you need to drive the point home:

  • Do you find yourself attracted to older men, either married or unmarried?
  • In terms of emotional support, would you say your father was always there for you or you felt abandoned by him at some point in your tender ages?
  • Can you single-out instances of abuse by your father? It could be emotional, physical or even sexual.
  • Are you attracted to emotionally unavailable men and often wonder why?

If you said yes to any of the above, you are not alone. This article will help you identify unconscious patterns and conditioning with “daddy issues” thereby helping you create a happier and healthier relationship for you and your partner.

Let’s take a more in depth look at some of the concerns surrounding individual women caught-up in daddy issues.

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  1. Abandonment

Abandonment is very deep rooted with attachment and detachment issues. Your father is the first male figure in your life. If you were emotionally abandoned by your father or he was emotionally unavailable for you during your younger days, this may cause a deep need to feel loved and cherished in your adult life. You will continuously look for this in other men to substitute the love you did not get from your father. Unfortunately our relationships cannot provide that deep fatherly affection enough to fill this void. Until we are aware of this, we cannot work to understand ourselves better and give ourselves the love we need.

Older men, as I always refer to them because they are often older then the women they are dating, are in most cases more confident and financially stable. They always appear very much in control of the relationship since as always is the case, it is not their first rodeo at dating or romancing a woman. It is little wonder then that younger women fall for such men exhibiting high levels of confidence and poise.

Older men, or men in general, instinctively notice if their partner is troubled by daddy issues in the relationship. This often happen naturally. So the men do not put in much effort in noticing this helplessness. This power imbalance marked by the woman’s vulnerability often lets the man run the show. He can make her feel adored, protected and safe; all the things her father could not provide to satisfy her emotions.

A woman in this state of mind may crave all the love and affection she had been starved of as a little girl. Her new found love is all she might require to fill up that father-daughter relationship gap. This way she might feel her needs are being met and in some way his as well.

  1. Engaging in risky sexual behavior

This is one other significant and definitive feature for women with daddy issues. They crave lots of sex. In most relationships such women associate love and confidence to the number of times they are laid by the men they are supposedly in love with.

Recent studies and surveys have shown that in most women, having sex often tricks the subconscious mind into thinking they are loved and adored. This is terribly wrong and is but a false sense of security. It will only end up ruining your relationship in the longer term. True love exudes intimacy that is founded on companionship and mutual respect.

  1. Fear of being alone

Any lady who’s been through this murky side of relationships will certainly conquer that it is very scary to be single. She’d rather be in a dysfunctional relationship all her life than be alone.

Daddy issues can make one unstable in relationships. Such individuals rush into engagements without sparing time to check out for compatibility aspect in the whole deal. In so doing, they scare away the real men of their dreams. This way, they throw all their respect and dignity down the drain. Such women lack in everything that defines identity and healthy self-esteem.

  1. Nagging reassurance of affection and love

A sense of insecurity defines women with daddy issues. They are always comparing themselves to their supposedly “ideal women”. In doing this, they often worry on whether they are still their partner’s “one and only”. Well, this is often very exhausting to their partners. That very needy aspect exhibited in a woman often pushes men out of relationships. It’s is very counterproductive in the long run and only serves to confirm your greatest fear; you are not lovable.

How to go about resolving this nightmare

The first proactive step in tackling this problem is to understand and acknowledge that daddy issues are real. Denying this fact is ignorant and only sinks one deeper into the abyss of frustration in relationships. You certainly don’t want to continue down the path of rebound dating and relationships, do you?

In the event that this has been an ongoing problem, it is advisable that you seek advice from a qualified therapist or relationship counsellor. These experts have just about all it takes to provide you the right support, advice and encouragement on matters relationship whenever needed.

The bottom line

It is impossible to change your past, but you have a future. Keep your thoughts positive and pick on the right path for your future. This will guarantee you a relationship full of real romance and of course not much troubles related to daddy issues and guess what? You will also be able to attract the right men in your life, a real dream come true in your love life.

Why Keeping Score Doesn’t Work In Relationships

Keeping score is detrimental to relationships, and it will often end up killing them completely. But why do people keep score in the first place?

Well, it is often because it is a learned behaviour. Our parents are often our very first role models for relationships, and how they functioned together can say a lot about how our future relationships play out. If your parents kept score, chances are you will as well. Keeping score in your relationships will not only end in heartache, but it is a completely exhausting and unnecessary practice. It is also modeled in a lot of other dysfunctional relationships that we can find ourselves in (friendships, professional relationships, and other family relationships).

It is true that you should be getting back what you put into a relationship, but the meaning behind this is oftentimes misunderstood. This does not mean that you should be spending as much money as your partner, or doing nice things in equal amounts. It means that you and your partner should be doing things for each other and working towards the common goal of happiness and fulfillment in relationship (not working against each other). When things are truly even in a relationship, there is no need to keep score.

Here are some things to keep in mind, and to help you to break the habit of keeping score in your relationship:

Love is not a competition. Being in love with someone and having a relationship is not a “you vs. them” situation. Relationships are a partnership, and keeping score makes it a competition. It is important to recognize that you are not playing for opposing teams, but for the same team. Working together is how we overcome the challenges and struggles in a relationship.

Keeping score builds resentments. If one partner feels that they are putting far more into it then they are getting back out, resentment will start to build. Resentments can start out small, but they will morph into a general dislike towards your partner. Functioning in a relationship where love and mutual happiness is no longer the main goal is nearly impossible.

People need to give and take different amounts at different times during a relationship.Relationships cannot always be perfectly balanced. One partner may need a bit extra emotional support from their partner at one point, and these positions will switch back and forth throughout the course of the relationship. The important thing is that overall you will be getting back as much as you put in, it may just be at a different time or in a different situation.

Scoring is different for everyone. What you hold in high value, may be something totally different for your partner. You and your partner may value different things, making it impossible to keep an accurate “score”. This will just cause more problems than it solves and it is not something that can be changed, as values are a part of your core being.

The best thing that you can do for your relationship is to stop taking inventory of what you are doing for each other, and take a good hard look at what you and your partner want for each other. If the end goal is not mutual happiness and fulfillment, it is certainly time to re-evaluate just how invested the two of you are in the relationship. Don’t keep score, instead, live each day working towards a happy and healthy relationship.

Social Media

So many of us are attached to our social media accounts. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram, many people are either checking or posting throughout the day. Photos, milestones, and our thoughts are the marks we leave on social media, but what kind of mark does it leave on us?facebook-addiction-590x202

Social media has a huge impact on many of our everyday interactions. Nowadays, it is hard to find someone who doesn’t engage with their friends and loved ones via some form of social media. It has become the go-to forum for expressing opinions, and sharing our lives with those around us. What we share sends a message to the world about who we are and what we are all about, defining us through our posts. This is why it is so important to be careful about what you share and who you share it with. It is helpful to take a second and think before posting. What would a future employer say about what he/she sees on your Facebook? What would a future partner say about you tweets? We don’t always consider the consequences of our actions on the internet, but it is much more important than it might initially seem.

Too often we see breakups and drama brought to the forefront of forums like Facebook and Twitter. Hurtful messages spewed out for the entire world to see. The unfortunate part is that often times the things that are being said would have never been said if it was a face-to-face conversation. It is hard for people to hold back from behind the keyboard, and it makes many people forget that there is a real person on the other iStock_000016401115XSmallend. There have been so many cases of destroyed relationships because of what has been said online, and much of it could have been prevented.

And what about the younger generations? They are growing up with social media as a central part of their lives. What impact is this going to have on the way that they interact with their peers? We are seeing younger and younger children logging onto places like Facebook, choosing to spend their time socializing with their friends via the internet rather than face-to-face. This also opens up the field to bullies and tormentors alike. Adolescence is such a trying time for any child, and it can be made harder by social media. We hear more and more about adolescents viciously attacking each other on social media, spreading rumours and hateful comments. Educating the younger generations about responsibly using social media is a great way to work on issues like bullying.

Facebook addictionSocial media is a very useful tool when used properly. It is great for networking and keeping in touch with those that may not be as close to us. But it is also a very powerful tool. It can make or break us in many important situations. We need to think about being respectful and sharing appropriately. It takes not more than a few moments to consider how our words could hurt someone on the other side. Remembering to treat those around us with love, respect and understanding, is an easy way to make social media more enjoyable for everyone.  

Exploring BDSM

images-50 Whips. Chains. Restraint. Control. Just a few of the several words that lead us to think of BDSM. BDSM is not new by any means, but it is something that is becoming increasingly more socially acceptable to talk about, in part due to the release of 50 Shades of Grey. So in hopes to open up more discussion about this type of intimate play, we are going to take an intimate look at BDSM.

images-51The easiest place to begin is to define what BDSM encompasses. BDSM is a combination of role-play, restraint, and interpersonal dynamics that vary from person to person within the subculture. BDSM itself stands for Bondage and Discipline (BD), Domination and Submission (DS), as well as Sadism and Masochism (SM). It also has to be taken into account that there are those who refer to themselves as Hedonists (maximizes pleasure instead of pain) or just plain Kinksters (those into practicing a combination of BDSM activities). A couple of other important terms to know are people who refer to themselves as vanilla (not necessarily interested in engaging in BDSM/kink images-49play) and Lifestylers (those who live the BDSM lifestyle 24/7. Usually means they are a Dom/Sub/Switch with BDSM deeply engrained into their everyday activities.) Within each of these subcategories, the degree to which someone is a participant varies greatly. People have their hard limits, things that they will by no means participate in (or try if they haven’t already). There are just some fetishes that most people are just not into.

Let’s take a look at some of the fetishes that are fairly popular in the BDSM community. Rope play is something that is extremely popular. It encompasses using ropes to harness, restraint, and suspend during play. It is a series of intricate knots and tying techniques that allows the rigger (person tying the rope) to control their subject and put them on display. Bondage in general is a very popular among those interested in BDSM. Bondage allows the rigger to restrict their partner’s movement, making them vulnerable to the rigger’s every whim. It is an interesting take on power exchange, and something that is a large part of 50 Shades of Grey.

With the release of 50 Shades of Grey, there has been a growth of interest in what BDSM is all about. It went from being a fringe subculture, to something everyone was talking about nearly overnight. Without revealing too much, 50 Shades of Grey is the account of Christian Grey (successful businessman) seducing a young female student and showing her the ropes of light BDSM. It brought to light a type of intimacy that not many people were comfortable talking about, and it encouraged many more people to explore the more “wild side” of sex. The BDSM scene is seeing more and more beginners joining in and getting their feet wet, thanks to Mr.Grey. Lifestylers and vanillas alike are flocking to new events, opening up the scene to the public. On the other hand, there are also those that say 50 Shades of Grey is insulting to BDSM subculture, prettying up how things play out. The truth of the matter is that BDSM dynamics are much more complicated and in depth images-53than any book could ever possibly cover.

BDSM, despite being more socially accepted, is still something that is often kept in the closet. There are many Lifestylers who are extremely proud of the fact that they participate, but they still receive a lot of criticism for their choices. Because BDSM is not accepted as a “norm”, many are shamed into thinking that what they enjoy is wrong and immoral. BDSM can be an extremely healthy way for some to explore their sexuality and come to terms with themselves. It can increase the amount of self-awareness, boost self-esteem, and create a sense of wholeness that may not be experienced otherwise. Keeping an open mind, and an open heart towards those in the BDSM community may just lead you on some adventures that you may not have had otherwise.