Chicago therapist

The Platinum Rule: How to Enrich Your Intimate Relationships

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Platinum is a symbol of true love, purity, rarity, and strength. These qualities of platinum are equivalent to the ideals of eternal true love, something couples strive for in their relationships.

We all want to connect in our intimate relationships, yet most of us have difficulty holding ourselves back when partners voice their frustration. Most people respond either by offering words of reassurance, try to solve the problem, or worst offer constructive criticism.

If you use one of the methods above, you wouldn’t be surprised if I say your partner’s response is not the one you might have been expecting. Your “help” might have not have landed the way you expected or had the effect you intended. Most people respond by feeling more irritable or frustrated than they were before they even shared their concerns.  

Working with numerous couples struggling in their relationships, I’ve learned empathy towards one another works best to build on intimacy and get more out of the relationship. First, I ask couples to commit to empathy before they verbally engage. As a relational therapist I lead with empathy in the room and then ask couples to use the same method and see how the partners respond.

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Not that starting out with words of empathy, understanding and compassion will always work. There are times when nothing can. But particularly in troubling situations where the startup is likely to determine the outcome, there’s no safer way to open a discussion than seeking to genuinely “participate” in your partner’s state of mind. This is most effectively accomplished through accurately identifying with their feelings, whether they’ve been overtly stated or implied by language, facial expression, and tone of voice.

When your partner experiences that you’re sincerely making an effort to grasp where they’re coming from, the odds that they'll be more receptive to where you’re coming from. The strong desire to feel understood and non-judged increases emotional intimacy and connection in the relationship.

Healing  yourself  heals the relationship.

Healing yourself heals the relationship.

Managing Anxiety Through Biofeedback

Managing Anxiety Through Biofeedback

Everyone has anxiety from time to time, but chronic anxiety can interfere with your quality of life. While perhaps most recognized for behavioral changes, anxiety can also have serious consequences on your mental and physical health. Biofeedback focuses on often hidden indicators of prolonged or inordinate stress an anxiety by regulating Autonomic Nervous System and treating anxiety and stress caused by the ongoing activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System .

I Am Anxious and Can’t Get Out of It! What’s Wrong with Me?

Anxiety is a solvable problem, yet you might find it harder to overcome. The reason is that, while you have the ability to overcome it, anxiety “tricks” you into maintaining it rather than removing your fears and symptoms. Most people try to resist anxiety, however most of the anxiety problems come from efforts to resist or remove anxiety.

Most people mean well when they suggest to someone feeling anxious to “calm down!” or advice to “stop worrying about it!” Yet, nothing good comes out of it. If it were that simple people would “calm down” or “stop thinking” about it.

The more you fight your anxiety, the more it grows. It’s like throwing gasoline to the fire. People who struggle with persistent anxiety have tried some type of relief and when it has not worked they might think it is their fault or that there is something wrong with them for not being able to get out of it.  But if it’s really true that the harder you try the worse it gets, you probably need to look at the other strategies. Here are some successful methods I use in session with clients struggling from anxiety noticing results:

1. Psycho-Education: To reduce and overcome anxiety, you must understand the symptoms. If you know that adrenaline is a result of the flight or fight system, you won't be as worried and unsure as to what's happening to your body. If you recognize your symptoms you might find it comforting to know it is anxiety that’s causing you to feel or behave a certain way. Learning how your anxiety works is the first step to healing.

2. Diaphragmatic Breathing – All of us breathe (I’d hope) yet most anxious individuals do not use their lungs in a way that is beneficial for them. Diaphragmatic breathing technique is a technique I use in session to help clients come back to a normal state, slightly reducing anxiety and its physical symptoms. 

3. Biofeedback – Practicing biofeedback can be not only helpful for anxiety but also measurable for the “skeptical”client. Heart Rate Variability is very important for the entire regulation of the complete system. The autonomic Nervous System is the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic and enables humans to adapt very rapidly to the vast potential for changes that occur in their environment. As you can imagine this does wonder for he anxious body and mind.

4. Guided meditation – I work mostly with high functioning anxious individuals that suffer in silence. Most of them are accomplished in life, attended college, have great jobs, yet they deal with lingering anxiety day in and day out. My work includes guided meditations to increase self-compassion. Meditation itself is used in the sessions to create space and bring to surface negative self-talk, feelings of guilt, shame, not worthy etc…and then counteract these feelings with kindness. This approach is challenging for most yet has helped many clients to be easy on themselves, recognize thought patterns of self-destruction and see themselves in a different light.

Overall, it’s important to learn to identify your triggers and responses and find strategies that work for you. If you have difficulty managing anxiety and it impedes your ability to carry out your day to day activities therapy can help.