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How can I change what I’m not aware of?

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Some people are really practiced at noticing what's going on inside themselves, how they really feel, what they really want, owning how they behave and being able to explain why. For the rest of us, there's therapy. Whether it's couples or individual therapy a big part of the process is recognising and accepting that quite a lot of what we do is outside our conscious awareness. Our mind is like an iceberg where the bit that we can see above the water (the bit we are conscious of) is only a fraction of all that is going on for us. Conscious thought consists of anything we can notice if we direct our attention towards it. We may not be aware of, say, a memory or a feeling until we focus…
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Selfishness and Self-sacrifice by Nic Beets

Selfishness and Self-sacrifice by Nic Beets

Communication, Relationships, self-awareness
Lots of couples have one person who is more self-centred and one who is more self-sacrificing. It can be very hard to acknowledge the unhelpfulness of these tendancies as there is a lot of judgment about these ways of being.   Further more we have usually learned these ways of operating as a self-protection in our formative years and, as a result, just think these ways of being are “normal” and that being “selfish” or “selfless” must be more extreme than what I’m doing.  To make matters even harder, if this is a long standing way of protecting yourself, it can be hard for us to imagine what the alternative is.  Typically we fear that we will become like our partner (whose behaviour hurts and frustrates us).  We fear that "If I’m not self-sacrificing then I’m…
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Love is a collaborative work of art…  by Paula Dennan

Love is a collaborative work of art… by Paula Dennan

Communication, Intimacy, Relationships
Intimacy is a word that is used widely and often as a way to describe sexuality. However it involves much more than how we experience our sexuality. Intimacy includes the sharing of tasks and interests, being emotionally in tune with each other and non-sexual forms of touching and closeness. It requires the capacity to work together and to connect with each other. It involves the deepest possible sharing of ourselves with our partner, mind, body and soul. This can grow in collaboration or stagnate over time. Intimacy can be uniquely constructed together and as such is a team creation. One way develop intimacy is to consider the various domains of intimacy. These domains offer a guide on areas that you can use to help you grow your connection. Any area…
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Fitness For Intimacy by Verity Thom

Fitness For Intimacy by Verity Thom

Communication, Intimacy, Relationships
Having a strong relationship requires both people to be able to keep themselves in a strong and resilient state.  If you are burnt-out, overworking, neglecting your self-care either emotionally or physically, dealing with your stress in unwholesome ways like using a lot of alcohol and drugs, food, social media etc, then the chances are you aren’t in a fit state to offer your partner or relationship very much. If you are not looking after yourself then you are more likely to behave in a stressed, grumpy, irritable or depressed way.  You are likely to have a shorter fuse or be shut down and withdrawn. So often the first step for couples wanting to improve their relationship with each other is to improve their relationship with themselves.  Often people need to…
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Why “I need you” is a deeply unsexy sentiment by Nic Beets

Why “I need you” is a deeply unsexy sentiment by Nic Beets

Communication, Intimacy, Relationships
As human beings and social animals we are wired to relate.  Whether you are in a committed relationship or single, we all exist in a web of relationships with family, friends, lovers, workmates and communities.  Given this, it is no wonder that we find it ourselves thinking or talking about relationships a lot of the time. In talking about relationships, have you ever noticed people describing their partner (or themselves) as “needy” or demanding?  They complain about pressure for (or a lack of) affection, sex, attention, talk etc. Yet our culture idealises the notion of needing your partner. “I need you” is generally offered up in a movie or book as the ultimate declaration of love, the height of romance.  We are encouraged to give ourselves up or surrender to our…
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Deepening Intimacy through developing the levels of your discussions by Nic Beets

Deepening Intimacy through developing the levels of your discussions by Nic Beets

Communication, Intimacy, Relationships
Sometimes it can be really helpful to think about what “level” or “depth” your relationship discussions are at in order to avoid confusion and have the kind of connection your want.  We tend to talk about three levels or types of conversation The first level is the most simple, straightforward kind of talk – where the focus is on the topic, is often called the CONTENT level.  For example, we are having a discussion about whether we should try and take a vacation this winter OR how strict we need to be about our child’s bedtime.  A useful way to share information and ideas. 2. If this discussion isn’t going well or we want to deepen connection then we can shift to talking about HOW we talk.  This is called…
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Aim for Intimacy not Closeness by Nic Beets

Aim for Intimacy not Closeness by Nic Beets

Communication, Intimacy, Relationships
A lot of people, including therapists, use the words “closeness” and “intimacy” as if they were interchangeable.  It’s useful to separate their meanings out. "Closeness" is all warm and easy and comfortable and friendly. It’s the payoff for being in relationship – the fun stuff.   In contrast, "intimacy" (“into-me-see”) is about knowing and being known “warts and all” – this is frequently the hard work part of relationship. Why is intimacy so often hard work?  Well, you can’t have intimacy without vulnerability.  So intimacy depends on interactions that are challenging, revealing, effortful and even scary.  Closeness is about keeping things sweet so we can easily be in the same space.  Intimacy needs to include learning about oneself growing and struggling with the less than ideal aspects of oneself and sharing…
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