Harnessing the Power of Seduction Within

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

Seduction as a skill often gets a bad reputation – some perceive it as manipulative, others as classless, and others as something we use strictly with our intimate partners. In this Ted Talk, Chen Lizra shares why she disagrees with these sentiments about seduction. As you watch the following video, consider your beliefs around seduction and challenge yourself to open your mind to this new perspective.

After watching the video, most people will have a new understanding and appreciation for the art of seduction and how we can use this in our everyday lives. Let’s take a look at some of the keys to successful seduction and how well you embrace these:

  • Desire: How in tune are you with the needs of your partner? How well do you communicate your desires to each other? How often do you pay attention to the triggers that activate desire in your partner?
  • Confidence: What messages did you receive about your body growing up? Are you comfortable and confident in your body? How can you work to challenge the beliefs you have about your appearance and sense of self?
  • Body language: How well do you project confidence in your daily interactions? How well do you tune into and read the body language of others?
  • Arousal: How often do you pay attention to the process of building desire in your partner? How well do you actively seduce your partner by engaging in the process and making adjustments as needed?

Through the use of seduction, we have an enormous power within ourselves to engage with all people, get what we want out of life, and build passion in our intimate relationships. Consider how often and how well you use seduction, and spend time every day working on this skill in your interactions with your partner.

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Making the Mind Body Connection Work For You

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

We often hear about something called the “mind-body connection,” the idea that we can use our body to influence our mind and vice versa. But what does this actually look like in practice? And what can using the “mind-body connection” help us with?

The mind-body connection is the idea that we can engage in certain actions, such as controlling our breathing, to influence how our mind and body react to certain stimuli. Have you ever heard that you should take a few deep breaths when you are feeling overwhelmed? That’s because the technique of deep breathing allows our mind to relax, which in turn relaxes our other bodily functions, including heart rate, blood pressure, and tension.

For more information on how this works, take a look at the following video:

Now that you’ve learned how this connection works, let’s consider some situations where using this knowledge can help us to gain control over how our mind and body reacts to situations:

  • Anxiety: Paced breathing for a few minutes can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, direct contributors to maintaining feelings of increased anxiety.
  • Anger: Paced breathing can help your perception of events to “slow down,” allowing you more time and clarity in making healthy choices in response to anger,
  • Tension: Paced breathing allows your mind the opportunity to relax. When you are feeling tension, try combining paced breathing with specific muscle relaxation over a ten minute period. When you start breathing, spend your first minute clearing your mind and scanning your body for any areas of tension. Over the next eight minutes, focus on relaxing each muscle group for one minute each, moving from your feet to legs, pelvis/hips, abdomen, lower back, hands/arms, upper back/shoulders, and neck/facial muscles. For the last minute, continue paced breathing while holding your relaxed muscles.

By utilizing paced breathing, you can gain control over how your body reacts to different stimuli, decrease stress, and help your body to cope in healthy ways. Try to make a commitment to practicing paced breathing for ten minutes a day for one week – what improvements do you see?

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How Do You Fight For Love?

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

How do you fight for love? The question might put some people off – when you’re in love, aren’t you supposed to get along? But fighting as we often think of it – the hurt feelings, the anger, the pain – doesn’t need to be unproductive. In fact, conflict – the times when we don’t get along well with our partners – is necessary for a partnership to grow and evolve toward long-term, sustained happiness.

In this video, Bruce Muzik from Love At First Fight shares with us the myth that conflict is something to be avoided in our relationships. The truth, we discover, is that conflict is simply a natural power struggle that happens in every relationship. Watch the video below to learn more about how we can shift our perception of conflict and use this experience to strengthen our relationships.

To really embrace the change needed to make conflict a positive experience in your relationship, it requires both partners to take ownership, have insight, and trust that the other partner is “in the fight” with them, not against them. Consider the following questions for yourself and your partner as you reflect on the message of the video:

  • What messages did you and your partner receive about conflict growing up? How was handling conflict modeled for you by the adults in your lives?
  • What are the typical triggers for the conflicts you engage in the most? What are the underlying fears associated with these triggers?
  • What is your fighting style? What is your partner’s? (You can view the pdf hand-out on the fighting styles here)
  • How can you and your partner work together to prevent reactive conflict?
  • Practice having a conscious fight – how is that experience different from a reactive fight? How can you keep these conflicts productive and meaningful?
  • How can you remind each other to focus on the principles of conscious fighting when a reactive fight is happening?

With these keys in mind, couples can work together to ease the pain of conflict and move past the power struggle stage. Use the hand-out from the Love at First Fight page to explore this concept further and practice these principles in your day-to-day interactions. And remember:

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Falling in Love is Easy… Sustaining Love is Hard

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

In 1997, Art Aron and his team of researchers published a study outlining the effects of asking a series of 36 questions to a stranger and having a conversation around each participant’s answers. The goal was to increase feelings of interpersonal closeness, but what researchers found was much more – participants reported falling in love.

Since then, multiple researchers and love experts have examined the 36 questions, seeking how these can be used not just to build trust in new relationships, but to reestablish it for long-term partners, and how the effects of the questions can be sustained long-term.

In this TedTalk, Mandy Catron shares with the audience her experience with the 36 questions and the unanticipated consequences of publicizing this information.

Mandy emphasizes that there isn’t a magic formula that makes these questions so effective – it’s the experience of being forced to open up, be vulnerable, and be heard. No matter how easy it is to fall in love, keeping that love, sustaining that love, isn’t as simple as just learning about and listening to one another. Consider these questions for yourself:

  • How do you decide who deserves your love?
  • How to do stay in love when times get tough?
  • How do you know when to walk away from love when it isn’t healthy?
  • How do you live with the fear and doubt that eventually enters your life when you’ve made the decision to open yourself up to love?

To read more about the 36 questions, take a look at this New York Times article. While you may not be experimenting to create love with a stranger, these are still fantastic questions to build intimacy with your partner.

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Thoughts on the Six Keys to Relationship Success

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

When researchers look at the root of what makes some relationships successful and what causes others to fail, themes around life circumstances, personal qualities, and the nature of the relationship begin to emerge. In a brief video featuring Art Aron, Anatomy of Love has beautifully articulated the six keys to relationship success that research has shown again and again to work. Take a moment to visit their page and watch the video, then come on back for some thoughts on this.

Now that you’ve seen what the six keys are, let’s think about how they can apply in your own relationship. Review the below and answer the questions as honestly as you can:

  1. What levels of stress do you and your partner currently experience? What stress is caused by external forces out of your control, and what is caused by things you CAN control? Do you and your partner take circumstantial stress out on each other? Are you actively working to reduce and cope with your stress in healthy ways?
  2. Who supports your relationship? Who can you turn to for help or guidance when you need it? Are you and your partner actively sustaining friendships and relationships with important people in your lives? If not, how can you make the time and commit to doing this?
  3. Are either you or your partner experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns at any level? If so, how is this being treated? Are you engaged in taking care of yourself and supporting your partner to do the same?
  4. How satisfied are each of you with the others’ communication style? How do you feel when a conflict is resolved? Do you take the time to improve your communication together? If not, what is something you could commit to doing to work on this skill?
  5. Are you capitalizing in your relationship by taking the time to learn about and celebrate the successes of your partner? Do you make the time to be proud of your partner’s achievements?
  6. Do you and your partner make the time to try new things together consistently? What’s the last thing you did together that was a new experience for both of you? When was the last time this happened? How can you make the time to enjoy making new memories more often?

By answering the above, you should have a better sense of your relationship strengths and some areas that may need a little work. Consider next where your relationship is at: Have you achieved “okay”? Are you each ready to move beyond that and thrive?

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Dr. Laura Berman Shares The Three-Step Meditation to Manifesting Love

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

When we think about meditation, we might think about a very individualized activity – something that is intended to ground us as people, to guide our inner workings, and to calm a nervous soul. But meditation can accomplish so much more than that if we stretch our understanding to how it can apply in our relationships.

In this wonderful video, Dr. Laura Berman shares a few simple steps in how you can use the tool of meditation to invite love into your life. As you watch the video, consider how well you allow the following:

  • How often are you granting yourself the time to sit in a quiet space for effective meditation?
  • How comfortable are you with freeing yourself to remember the moments of happiness in your life and to imagine new ones?
  • How willing are you to let go of those feelings, to give yourself the space to create a new reality in your connections to others?

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Learning More About How The Gottman Approach Can Work For You

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

One of the most stressful things about agreeing to participate in couples therapy is a fear of the unknown – being unsure of what to expect, what to say, and how you and the therapist may interact. This is why we love the The Gottman approach to couple’s therapy – it’s a standardized approach that each Gottman-trained counselor adheres to. It is based on over 40 years of research conducted by Dr. John and Julie Gottman, and it has shown time and time again to be extremely successful when both members of a couple are dedicated to improving their relationship.

In this linked article, practitioner Clinton Powers interviews Gottman-trained therapist Lidia Smirnov to share with listeners more about the Gottman approach, including what to expect, how a treatment plan is created, and the kinds of intervention work a couple may expect when participating in this treatment option. If you are considering participating in Gottman-based counseling, take a few minutes to listen and learn about what you’ll be experiencing. It is such an amazing resource to share this information with couples – thank you to Clinton and Lidia for this informational interview!

The Gottman Approach to Couples Therapy: How Does It Help Couples?

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The Art of Listening – Inspiration for Connection From Tara Brach

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

Tara Brach, renowned psychologist and meditation expert, shares with us in the following video the importance of intentional listening and, through humor, understanding, and acceptance, shows how this skill can create an atmosphere of love that improves our bonding and connection to our partners.

She describes listening as “the vehicle to a true connection.” How does this resonate in your own life? For many of us, feeling heard by our partners is one of the keys to a successful relationship. When we are listened to, we feel that our beliefs are validated, that our partner’s have a deeper understanding of where we are coming from, and that our loved ones are more closely connected to who we are as individuals. Listening gives us the space to connect with our partners as well, to hear and validate their feelings just as we wish for them to do for us.

Listening is not the same as hearing – it is an active and cultivated skill. It requires intent and courage. As you listen to the below talk, consider how you apply the following principles of effective listening in your own relationship:

  • Committing to cultivating a presence: Do you make the time to listen without interruptions?
  • Listening without planning a response: Are you listening to the words of the other person, or do you find yourself thinking of how you will respond before they are finished speaking?
  • Listening without judgement: Do you listen with a clear mind, without making assumptions about what is being shared? Or do you find yourself crafting an opinion or theory about what the speaker is saying?
  • Listening with your heart: Do you make active efforts to understand the feelings behind the words you hear? Are you allowing yourself the vulnerability to connect with your loved on a deeper level?

 

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How Empathy Can Improve Bonding and Connection in Your Relationship

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

A couple comes in for marriage counseling to improve their communication and intimacy. After some time, the wife says, “My husband doesn’t appreciate everything I do for our family.” The husband immediately becomes defensive and replies: “She doesn’t understand how hard I work and what I go through.”

There’s an issue here, but not necessarily a lack of appreciation or gratitude. The problem is deeper – the couple’s ability to empathize with one another. Without empathy, the problems of this couple can multiply, leading to long-term consequences for their relationship. In this article, we’ll take a look at the concept of empathy and how you can use this to build up your partnership and increase intimacy, understanding, and togetherness.

Defining Empathy

According to Gottman, empathy is about understanding someone else’s emotions.  It means stepping away from your own perception and embracing the experience of someone else’s life.

When empathy is used effectively, when we truly step into the perspective of another, we reap considerable benefits. A study by Duncan and Jowette found that perceived empathy among 149 couples was positively associated with relationship satisfaction and negatively associated with depression and conflict. It’s something that every couple can use to improve or repair a struggling relationship – but it requires commitment and hard work.

The terms empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. Sympathy is marked by an attempt to recognize the emotions of another, to feel sorry, and to be impacted by those feelings. Empathy is a much deeper action, as it requires one to change their perspective and share another’s experience vicariously, as if they were in their place. Let’s take a deeper look at the differences here:

Components of an Empathetic Relationship

A study by Pristang, Picoiotto and Barker examined 18 couples’ communication of empathy during the transition to parenthood. They concluded that couples showed high empathy levels when:

  • They checked out and explored their partners’ meaning of their concerns: When there is a problem or disagreement, this means taking a moment to rationally discuss the issue at hand without getting defensive or avoidant. What is the disagreement? Do both partners agree to the issue and what it entails? What stance does each partner take and why?
  • They acknowledged their partner’s concerns: Each partner recognizes and validates that there is a disagreement and values the difference of opinions that exist around the issue.
  • They articulated the meaning or summarized the partner’s issues: After listening and hearing the voice of their partner, the other partner is capable of understanding where that person is coming from.
  • They offered solutions: Instead of avoiding or stonewalling, each partner shares mutual solutions that demonstrate an understanding of each’s experience and live in the spirit of compromise and mutual respect.
  • They agreed on a mutual, shared experience: Partners commit to a solution together, continuing to check in with one another about the steps taken and make agreed upon adjustments as needed.

Are You Embracing Empathy in Your Relationship?

imagesDr. Gottman describes empathy as mirroring a partner’s feelings in a way that lets them know that their feelings are understood and shared. He cites it as the key to attunement with your partner, as well as essential to the emotional coaching style of parenting. Take a look at the questions below and consider how often they apply in your own relationship:

  • How often do you and your partner take each others’ perspectives? Even when your partner isn’t willing to, how often do you hear their words and place yourself in their shoes?
  • When having a conversation where your partner is facing an issue, how often do you keep advice, opinions, and consolations out of your words? Instead, how often do you allow yourself to simply “be there” for your partner?
  • When your partner is expressing a concern, how often do you look for the deeper meaning and emotion underlying the problem first, versus attempting to argue or solve the problem?
  • How often do you validate your partner’s feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, or any other feelings they may be experiencing, without telling them that they are wrong to feel that way, getting defensive about your actions, or trying to “cheer them up”?

To truly embrace empathy, both partners in a relationship should answer the above questions with “often” or “frequently.” If these actions rarely or never take place, empathy in the relationship is lacking and the partnership may suffer.

Integrating Empathy Into Your Partnership

So what can we do to use empathy more effectively in our relationships? Couples can try the following techniques to increase their empathetic communication and, thus, their bonding and relationship satisfaction.

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  • Give your partner loving attention every day: Spend treasured moments together, greet one another with happiness, and take the time to share openly about feelings.
  • Pay attention to your partner’s feelings: Especially when couples are first starting out with building empathy, partners may not feel comfortable openly sharing their feelings. You can begin by paying attention to your partner’s moods and ask questions: “You seem to be feeling sad – am I correct or misinterpreting?”
  • Validate your partner’s feelings when they are shared: One of the greatest keys to empathy is this – all feelings are okay. Feelings are simply feelings. While you may not have the same feeling in a similar circumstance, the fact your partner feels a certain way is a result of their own personhood, and nothing about that is wrong. When your partner shares how they are feeling, simply validate: “Thank you for sharing that you are feeling angry – I appreciate your trust in me to tell me that.” Do not try to dissuade, convince, or fix the feeling – be okay sitting with that emotion.
  • Work together to overcome problems: Once a shared respect of feelings is established with empathy, continue to use this tool to come to mutually-derived solutions. “What can I do to help you experience this feeling less in our relationship?” “How can I bring more joy into your life?” “What solution to this issue would cause both of us the most joy?”

Empathy has the power to transform the feelings of togetherness, understanding, and love between partners when used effectively. It brings the friendship back into a partnership, where both partners know they have each others’ back.

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How To Make Love Last In The Age Of Instant Gratification: A Speech by Dr. Sue Johnson

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

“Nothing grows people like love.” – Dr. Sue Johnson

What a remarkable and inspiring presentation by Dr. Sue Johnson, renowned psychologist and expert on love in modern relationships. In this speech, Dr. Johnson presents her theory on the science of love and intimacy. Through decades of research, she has come to the conclusion that love is an evolutionary adaptation, one that gives us enormous strength and resiliency, but also can make us vulnerable to feelings of fear and rejection.

As you watch this speech, consider the following key points and how they might resonate in your own relationship:

  • When a couple fights, it isn’t about a power struggle – it’s an expression of the grief and frustration that comes with feeling a loss of connection with one’s partner.
  • For someone in love, being criticized by their partner feels no different in the brain than feeling tremendous physical pain – both are threats.
  • Healthy couples understand that with love, there are moments of fear. That partners are capable of scaring one another. The couple who thrives acknowledges these moments, steps back, and soothes one another.
  • Healthy couples hold each other tight, give comfort, and are kind to each other.

Consider… is the answer to the question, “ARE you there for me?” a resounding YES in your own partnership?

Is your partner accessible to you?

Will your partner respond to you when you turn to them?

Does your partner give the attention you need and provide you comfort?