Archive for October, 2011
Have you ever been the target ofa rude driver? Humiliated by a tactless boss who yells at youin front of your colleagues? Afraidof going to school and facing the mean kids that constantly poke fun at you? You are not alone. But then again, at some point, intentionally or not, you too might have behaved arrogantly, acted offensively or spoken rudely to a close friend, work colleague or stranger on the streets.
Ridicule, satire, rudeness, humiliation… they happen everywhere – inside our homes; in the workplace; and even on television where several shows make use of jokes to expose a public figure or get a point across.
Insults are not a recent phenomenon. Neither is an insult restricted to any geographical region or race.
So what makes a person want to insult someone? When is an insult justified? What are the intrinsic reasons people insult others? Is the intent always to hurt? The psychology of insults is vast, spanning cultural subtexts and primary human emotion.
Is there any difference between ridicule, satire and humiliation and blunt, straight-forward insults? According to Yiannis Gabriel, Professor of Organisational Theory at the University of Bath, “there are overlaps, but what distinguishes insults is [the aspect of] ‘big effect with little effort’ since they take advantage ofa weak point of the target.”
Gabriel explains that “insults involve two parties, a perpetrator and a target, and possibly an audience. There can be no insult withouta perpetrator or an insulted party. A remark or action intended as an insult but not registered or experienced as one by its target, can hardly be said to constitute an insult, even if an audience recognised the intention.”
But why are some people so compelled to find that weakness and inflict harm on others? Hate? Well, as the German-Swiss poet, novelist and painter Hermann Hesse once said: “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”
A few psychologists believe we all havea side of our personality that we don’t like to expose or speak of. This is where we hide away the qualities we think of as undesirable and negative, and all of the physical, verbal and emotional abuse we might have once suffered.
According to Eva Jajonie, a clinical psychotherapist from the American Center for Psychiatry and Neurology in Abu Dhabi, “When suppressed concerns and feelings, such as lack of self-esteem; self-defeating thoughts and behaviours; guilt; and anger, for example, are not treated or dealt with, the person uses insults to unleash anger, to escape dealingwith the pain or trauma experienced or asa way to exert control [over another person] and feel powerful.”
People also insult because they simply do not know any better. They repeat the common patterns present in the environments they are exposed to – home, school and work – and where insulting becomes a habit to function or deal with problems.
Jajonie says: “Even the media plays a major role today. Some cartoons, movies and video games, for example, teach insults and violence, affecting children.”
A person may also hurl an insult at another simply because of “the pecking order and the undoubted primary aggression that characterises us as humans”, notes Gabriel.
In his paper, An Introduction to the social psychology of insults in organizations, available from the free online collection of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations (ISPSO), Gabriel suggests that “jokes are a good place to begin an investigation of insults. Like jokes, insults depend on timing and must touch a vital nerve. Like jokes, insults play on hidden desires and vulnerabilities. Like jokes, they can be highly imaginative and ingenious… The main difference between insults and jokes would seem to lie in their emotional content. Jokes release mirth, whereas insults unleash anger.”
It is no surprise that there is an array of ways to degrade, offend, humiliate and unleash that anger in people. According to Gabriel, “insults can be verbal, consisting of mocking invective, cutting remarks, negative stereotypes, rudeness or straight swearing.”
Dealing with difficult people
Hellen Meyerhof, a Brazilian flight attendant based in Abu Dhabi, knows exactly what this feels like: “In my previous job, I had to deal with a very difficult customer. One day, he stormed in and started to complain about almost everything about my company. He shouted at me in front of other customers and colleagues. I felt stressed and terrible; all I really wanted to do was run far away and scream out to release the stress. But I took a deep breath and listened attentively and respectfully without interruption. After I took responsibility for the problem on behalf of my organisation, the customer calmed down, came to his senses and ended apologising for his behaviour.”
The Australian DJ/Event Promoter, Jonathon Bradford, based in Dubai, says he sometimes feels insulted by the harsh criticism he receives for the music he chooses to play. “Most people are really nice, but sometimes there are a few partygoers who seem to be bent on ruining the evening. Usually I get defensive. My first thought is to turn around, remind them that I’m working, and ask [how they would feel] if I sat through their office meetings making comments all through. But then I remind myself to diffuse the situation by taking the comment lightly and making polite conversation…”
Broad spectrum of jibes
According to Gabriel, “Insults can also be performed in deed, as when valued objects are defamed, symbols desecrated, gifts returned or invitations refused.” Alternatively, says Gabriel, insults can “be brutal, unambiguous and direct, as in cases of indecent gestures or racist and sexual harassment… they can also be subtle, residing in innuendo or facial expression, leaving room for a face-saving retreat or an affected disregard by the aggrieved party.”
A good example of this is the classic scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian (played so well by Julia Roberts) steps into a designer store in Beverly Hills to buy a dress. The sales lady does not hurl any pointed insults. She simply looks Vivian from head to toe and says things like, “It’s very expensive”, “I don’t think we have anything for you” and “You are obviously in the wrong place”.
Gabriel reminds us of several other types of insults based on exclusion. For instance, when invitations highlight the division between those on the guest list and those who are not.
Even if no slight is intended it is easy fora person left out to feel offended. “Or failing to acknowledge or honour an important detail in a person’s identity or ego… The use of the wrong form of address, such as ‘Dr’ instead of ‘Professor’, though rarely intentional, can be read as insulting.”
Is an insult ever justified? No, says Gabriel. No insult is morally justified.
Another feature of insults is that some of them are very subjective. For instance, let’s say you are with a friend in a restaurant. You are both starving so you order almost half the things on the menu. Just as you are placing your order, a stranger who perhaps overhead the order you were placing, walks past saying: “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”. You find it funny and burst into laughter but your friend breaks down in tears. Why such disparate reactions?
Well, the answer might just be inside the part of our personality that we don’t like to expose or think about. After all, that’s where some of our qualities, as well emotions related to physical and verbal traumas lie.
While you and your friend are trim and fit now, she might have been overweight during her school/college days and may have been made fun of for it. That may be the reason she found the stranger’s comment insulting while you did not.
Words and behaviours are also interpreted differently by individuals, depending on their values and cultures. After all, it’s a person’s culture that shapes his or her attitudes and how he or she functions. Our internalised values, related to region, country, gender and so on will play a significant role in how we understand what is said and done to us.
For instance, it was during a flight from Baghdad to Abu Dhabi that Peter Colussy, an American based in Abu Dhabi, understood how insults can be generated due to lack of cultural knowledge: “During boarding, I noticed a woman who was having difficulty walking down the aisle. I offered my hand to help steady her,” he says. However the woman sternly refused the offer. “I was so taken aback,” he recalls. “Now I try harder to understandcultural differences.”
Insults strike directly at a person’s feelings, self-esteem, pride, identity and ego. So, no matter why an insult happens or how it happens or when it happens, the truth of the matter is it will leave a scar.
As Jajonie explains, “insults or any verbal or emotional abuse tears at a person’s self-esteem and can greatly impair psychological development and social interaction. Children who experience traumatic emotional orverbal abuse, insults or bullying can suffera deficit in attention, intelligence, memory and in the ability to feel and express emotions appropriately. Insults and emotional abuse can be manifested, in both children and adults, through depression, isolation, social withdrawal, severe anxiety, fearfulness, self-defeating thoughts and behaviours, physical complaints and even substance abuse.”
The good news, as Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, brilliantly puts it is that “out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.”
Although you have no control over what other people think or do, you can have complete power over your reactions if you get in touch with your feelings and stay focused.
Jajonie agrees. “Keep in mind that insults will affect you, but cannot enter your mind and generate certain reactions unless you allow them to,” she says. “You are the only person who owns your thoughts and behaviours. Bea peaceful warrior. You will win the fight by not fighting at all.”
How to deal with insults
Insults affect people in many different ways and trigger a series of singular emotions and feelings. Therefore, each individual will deal with an offensive situation differently. You could keep your cool. Ignore it. Walk away. Turn the other cheek. Take the high road. Laugh at it. Scream. Run away. Cry. Top it.
Jajonie says: “There is no right or wrong here. The way a person reacts to an insult depends on the event, the person, the environment, the stakes involved… People who are assertive and learn to be in control, get in touch with their feelings, assess the situation and consequences, remove themselves from the situation and deal with it calmly. On the other hand, people who are reactive and resentful tend to refrain from their emotions and drastically lose their sense of logic to resolve the situation.”
Although there are no easy recipes, Jajonie has a few practical tips on how to react tothe situation:
Make eye contact and pause instantly
Assertively say “stop!”. Face the insulter without losing power. Remember that your strength scares the insulter away and makes him feel like a coward.
Take charge of the situation
Do not allow the insulter to manipulate you or take charge of your feelings. Remember that when you react you allow your insulter to control you emotionally – and this is exactly the target of the insult.
Take a deep breath and say: “I just want to get this straight. Did you just say [repeat the insult]?” Then you look at the insulter straight in the face and wait for an answer. Remember that, most of the time, the insulter will back down and won’t be able to face you if you challenge him.
If the insulter repeats the insult or is plain aggressive, simply walk away. Beware, the insulter may not want you to walk away as he or she may want to keep manipulating you and may say things like: “Sorry you are so sensitive. I am not used to people like you who take everything personally.” Remember that walking away means the dynamic of the game is over.
Keep communication minimal
Make sure your communication is simple and to the point. Don’t give more ammunition to your insulter. Remember that insulters will probably not acknowledge a mistake in writing. So, if possible, use emails or other methods of communication.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Intimacy is a human need and involves physical and sexual intimacy, as well and intellectual and emotional closeness. Some people will feel the need for intimacy shortly after reaching sexual maturity, while others will hold out for someone they love, or for marriage if they come from a religious background. There is no right or wrong time to have sex, since every individual has their own personal values.
Only you can answer this question, since you will be taking on the responsibility that goes with establishing a sexual relationship. If you have sexual concerns, waiting awhile may be the best approach. Taking some time to get to know your partner, can put you at ease and lessen performance anxiety. You also have the opportunity to establish trust and open communication the longer you know each other. This camaraderie encourages a sexually supportive and safe environment.
Think it through. Is sex something you want now or are you feeling pressured by a partner for sex? When it comes to sex, you need to make wise choices and act in your own best interests. Can you have sex just for the sexual pleasure or do you need the reassurance of a relationship? Only you know the answer.
Sex requires emotional readiness from both participants. If a person is overwhelmed with guilt, has a fear of intimacy or is unduly nervous, having sex early in the relationship would not seem to be a good decision. Sex does not resolve doubts or eliminate difficulties, it just adds more complication (and pleasure). This is not to say that two people have be in love before sex can happen. What matters is that both partners understand what the other wants and that there is some trust established.
If you are seeking a casual encounter, be aware that sex has a way of changing friendships and affecting you on a personal level. You may think that you can handle sex with someone you don’t really care for, and then find yourself attracted to them after the affair. What if that person is unavailable? Can you live with that? Evaluate your real feelings before sex occurs so that you don’t feel regret afterwards.
Be honest with yourself and decide if you are just looking for a fling or if you really desire someone special. Love is a positive feeling which is created from emotions and thoughts first learned in childhood from family members. Friendship, unselfishness, and trust are qualities associated with genuine love. Physical and even emotional attraction can be deceptive, so be careful that you are not attributing qualities to your partner that might not really be there.
Beyond emotional commitment, it is a very important that you be physically ready to engage in sex. Yes, emotional abandonment can be hard to live with, but sex can be fatal if you don’t take physical precautions. If you are planning on having sex with a new friend and don’t really know about his or her past, wearing a condom could save your life. Condoms prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, some of which may be minor skin irritations, but others like AIDS could cost you your life. There are some people who are not above lying about their STDs just to hop into bed.
Protecting against unwanted pregnancy is another issue to consider, long before you think about having sex. While condoms are made to prevent insemination, be aware that they have a much lower success rate in preventing pregnancy than they do STDs. If you have a regular sex partner, then look into birth control pills, patches, diaphragms or IUD’s as a more effective forms of birth control.
Great Expectations And Backing Out
Many people have unrealistic expectations about sex. They may feel that doing it will make them popular, lovable or worthwhile. Some people are influenced because their friends are engaging in sex. It may seem cool and mature. Others may feel that they can manipulate a partner into staying with them if they have sex. Sex is just sex–you get no gold medals. Loving sex requires intimate communication, practice and patience. It is a skill, a talent, you must learn with your partner.
No matter the circumstances, no matter your age, it is always acceptable to say no to sex at any point in time. Sex is a very personal thing and all lovers have the right to protect their body and their heart if they feel the time isn’t right. Use your own judgment and listen to your inner-voice, which knows when something is wrong.
Can I Say No To Sex Without Feeling Inadequate?
Men are expected to want to have sex. Whether it’s an evolutionary theory of propagating the species or a woman’s personal experience with some two-timing ladies’ man, men are expected to always say yes because they’re all the same, they’re only interested in one thing, every five seconds, etc. But like many other sexual generalities, this is not always the case. There are many reasons why a man would not want to have sex.
What Would A Man Not Want Sex?
Why would a man say no? The same reason a woman would say no–based on the criteria of circumstances. Maybe the man does not find the woman attractive. Maybe the man feels closer to the woman as a friend, not a lover. Maybe the woman’s personal history or mutual friendships would disinterest him in a sexual relationship. Maybe the man is religious or is a virgin and is uncomfortable losing his virginity under the circumstances.
Beyond these obvious reasons, there are also some more complex issues that could be taking place in committed relationships that would cause a man to say no more often. If a man is on antidepressants then a decreased sex drive could be a side effect. A lack of sleep or just tiredness from a hard day’s work could be a contributing factor. A low level of testosterone could be the hormonal cause of a low libido. If a man is stressed or is suffering from depression, then this can impact his sex life. Obviously any relationship problems would be a major turn off for men as well as women, since intimacy and trust are usually at the center of sexual relationships.
More likely causes of the word “” would include over-masturbation, which has become more satisfying or at least less stressful than a real sexual relationship, a fear of intimacy, and any sexual dysfunction that would otherwise prevent the man from enjoying sex or performing well.
How Can I Say No?
A man doesn’t need to have a reason to refuse sex. No one, man or woman, should ever feel forced to have sex against their will, whether by another person or by the expectation of society. Perhaps you are a man that has been approached by a woman to whom you are not physically attracted. Or perhaps you are in a committed relationship and your spouse wants sex from you at an inconvenient time. In either case, you have the right to say no.
If you are not seriously interested in another person, never feel that you should pursue a relationship for any reason other than you desire the person. You are not obligated to be sexual with someone you don’t desire. You are not expected to sleep with as many women as possible to prove your virility or to gain sexual experience. You don’t need to feel that you will be letting someone down by saying no. Even if you do hurt a woman’s feelings by declining a sexual offer, it’s better to be honest than to force yourself into an unappealing situation.
What About Sexual Inadequacy?
Sexual experience is about quality not quantity. The same sexual know-how that you could gain from sleeping with a hundred different lovers, you could gain by experimenting with just one special woman that you really love. Since sex education is easily available these days, you have the capacity to be as great a lover as Don Juan, if you apply yourself and find a partner willing to practice with you.
Feelings of sexual inadequacy can also affect men who are coping with sexual dysfunction. You may feel ashamed if you have to turn someone down for sex, or for refusing to take part in a sexual practice that your partner suggests but you don’t wish to do. In instances like this it is important to keep your self-respect high, and brush off any feelings of insecurity. Sex should be a pleasurable activity and if doing something robs you of enjoyment, or makes you feel uncomfortable, then why do it? Why worry about it? Your manhood, your sexiness, is not in question. When it comes to sex, everyone has the right to say yes or no.
How To Say No
“No” can be hard to say. Your partner may want to know why you are refusing, or even changing your mind. Answer truthfully and explain exactly why you cannot continue. Don’t make up stories or avoid the issue–be forthright and don’t be intimidated.
Sex is voluntarily (yes, even for men)! Like women, men have the option of saying no under any circumstance, even if they have been physically close with the person in the past. Any previous behavior does not mean that a man is obligated to do “go all the way” or do something else he is uncomfortable doing, whether due to a dysfunction or his own personal preference. It has nothing to do with sexual inadequacy–it has to do with a man enjoying sex on his own terms, in a comfortable setting.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
“I like you. But as a friend.”
How many times have you heard this line? To a man, loosely translated, that means “You are not physically attractive. I would never in a million years have sex with you. I find you nice in a brotherly, never-going-to-happen sort of way.”
Every man at some time will encounter a woman who wants to define their relationship as “friends.” However, if you find that you are always the friend and never the lover, there is a problem in the level of masculinity that you are projecting. Some men who are apprehensive about relationships, submerge their sexual energy to unconsciously avoid the prospect of engaging in a real relationship.
Others feel that they don’t want to be perceived as a sexual aggressor like other men. They have heard that women do not like aggressive men. Perhaps they grew up in a predominantly female household and heard their sisters refer to men as “pigs.” Other men don’t want to feel that they are intruding on a woman and making her uncomfortable with sexual advances. They take no action at all. This is usually in an effort to avoid rejection.
So ultimately what happens is nothing. The woman feels no sexual energy radiating from the man and then sees him as asexual, like a good buddy or empathetic friend. The man is secretly longing for an intimate relationship and doesn’t know what he is doing wrong.
What Makes A Man Friendly And Not Sexy?
Why does a woman say no to the possibility of a romantic relationship? The woman may not feel attracted to you physically. Therein lies the problem. Unless a woman feels sexually attracted to a man, she will never think of him as a potential lover, but more like a brother, a friend or even a friendly acquaintance.
Why wouldn’t a woman feel sexually attracted to a man, especially if he is reasonably good looking? First of all, most women are attracted to men on an emotional level, not by appearances alone. When it comes to attraction on an intellectual level, usually the emotional attraction still wins out. Therefore, women can be good friends with a man they don’t desire.
In addition, a woman may pick up on “”unsexy qualities in a man such as social awkwardness, shyness caused by inexperience or a fear of rejection, poor conversational skills and a lack of self-confidence. But what if a man is confident and conversational, but still seems to have the buddy syndrome working against him?
Creating Sexual Tension
The problem in is that the man has done such a good job of presenting himself as a friend that a woman forgets that he is a sexual being. Men will often mask their sexual feelings with female friends as it’s usually inappropriate in a traditional friendship. Men who are used to hiding their sexual feelings will not easily be able to flirt, to maintain romantic eye-contact and to create the “pheromones” that ordinarily start sexual relationships.
Men also have a tendency to please their female friends and avoid conflict. This works well in friendships but can work against a man in dating. Women usually aren’t emotionally attracted to a man who is afraid to be assertive. Is it true what they say, that nice guys finish last? No…what is true, is that if you allow women to walk all over you, some will. Along with self-confidence, the quality of assertiveness is important to learn in establishing romantic relationships. Being assertive and honest earns respect from people in all avenues of life.
If you wish to turn a friend into a lover, then you must try and get to know your friend on an intimate level, not a friendly one. If you have been a woman’s friend for a long period of time, this new behavior may catch her off guard. Yes, it’s possible you may be rejected. But taking a chance in the name of love sure beats suffering in silence! Re-educate yourself on how to flirt, how to build intimacy and how to unleash your romantic side.
If you have had problems attracting women, or suffer from the buddy syndrome, then why not let a therapist help you? Therapy is not only about treating dysfunction but is also about learning important dating skills and how to better deal with women. A therapist can give you one-on-one counseling on how to improve your romantic life and find the partner you really want.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Rejection–it’s what causes so many negative emotions from shyness, to depression, to anger and even despair. Rejection is never easy to accept. In matters of romance, rejection can do even more damage. When you are rejected by someone you deeply want, it can make you feel worthless, unwanted and insecure. It can rob an otherwise friendly and happy person of their self-confidence. And yes, the truth is that some men and women do simply enjoy rejecting others and causing those hurt feelings
What’s important to remember is that your happiness is at stake here, not the opinions of others. It is natural that you want to be liked and would take steps to reach out and form relationships with others. Taking the initiative to talk to others and eventually getting to know them on a romantic level is a positive step in the right direction. Handling rejection is a challenge, but one you must learn to deal with if you are ever to find happiness.
Rejection happens at various points in a person’s life. Rejection can be taught to children. There is rejection when you are searching for a mate and trying to make the first connection. There is the possibility of rejection during dating, and even after an established relationship there is always the possibility of your partner leaving you. Regardless of where the rejection is coming from, it can be a heavy blow.
How To Handle Rejection
In handling rejection, its helpful to look at the big picture and adjust your perception accordingly. The old saying “count your blessings” applies here. While you may have been rejected by one person, is the situation really as hopeless as it feels in those first few moments? Are you still capable of conversing, living, and loving someone else? Is it really likely that out of over three billion people on earth, you will never meet anyone else as attractive as person who rejected you?
If you are newly dating and have only been stung by a few rejections from strangers, then be glad that the pain is short-lived and was not a heavy emotional investment. Take it as a sign that if the person was that difficult to deal with in the beginning, the potential relationship would only get worse from there. Fretting over the rejection of strangers–who have very likely judged you prematurely based only on appearances and random circumstances–is certainly missing the “big picture.” A pretty face can be found everywhere you look, so it’s very unlikely that you will ever run out of opportunities.
Recovering from a personal rejection, after you have been romantically close to a person, can be more difficult. After establishing trust, and then seeing that trust broken, a person who has been rejected will often second-guess every minute detail of the relationship. They will try to assign blame first to him or herself. Whose fault was it? Was it something small, like a physical or emotional quirk, or was it some big misunderstanding? Did the other person reject you because they were afraid or because they needed to feel superior in some way? The truth of the matter is complex, just as the emotional makeup and background of each person can be.
Moving On With Your Life
Many people have difficulty moving on with their life after a major rejection or after many quick rejections. If you are starting to feel self-conscious, then there’s certainly nothing wrong with examining your flaws and working to improve yourself. There is also something to be said about working on your self-confidence and narrowing your search down to people who will like you for who you are. More self confidence will allow you to cope with rejection. Learn to love yourself before you spread the love around!
Sometimes rejection can be a good thing. It lets people reflect on who they really are and offers a new perspective on life. However, if rejection has hit you very hard and you do not feel capable of finding happiness, then you should seek help. Strong feelings of rejection can lead to depression and other emotional problems. Sex therapy and counseling can help you learn to cope with rejection and teach you how to move on in life with self-confidence and enthusiasm.
Putting Romance Into The Date
What is the secret to having a great date? There’s no official definition for a “great date”, but its usually associated with romance, connection and this-is-the-one excitement. But with so many random people getting together, there is sure to be some mismatches. What is the science of a good date?
Great dates happen when couples that have a lot in common get together. They may have similar outlooks, experiences and tastes–and so when they finally meet sparks fly! On the other hand, people who have less in common, usually end up having much less enjoyable dates, bad dates or “dates from hell.” If you’re really looking for a great date as opposed to just any date, then the answer is to be more selective about choosing someone with whom you are truly compatible.
Finding Mr. & Ms. Right
After eliminating the dysfunctional dates, and narrowing the rest of the crowd down by compatibility, it’s time for romance. Even a perfectly compatible couple needs a little bit of romance in the early stage to get the relationship moving. What if you feel that you aren’t very romantic? Then it’s probably a case of shyness or inhibition. Being romantic is simply expressing sincere feelings of the love or “like” that you feel for another person. If you constantly hold back what you really feel, then you may convince yourself that you don’t have a romantic side. But anyone who is capable of falling in love, and who wants to enter a relationship, has the ability to be romantic. Loving gestures can be very dramatic or very small. Consider some tips on how to get in touch with your inner romantic:
Don’t leave it up to your potential partner to discover the romantic side of you. If you know your own character then you will know what romance is and how to communicate your feelings to another person.
Maintain Eye Contact
Don’t forget to maintain eye contact with your perfect date. If you’re shy (or even easily bored) then you may be tempted to look away. But maintaining loving eye contact, especially when your date is talking, is a small romantic gesture.
Sex And Romance Are Related
Tough guys may say they only want to get laid, but sex is a very romantic gesture. While confidence can be sexy most women do desire romance instead of machismo, especially when the dating games end and it’s time to get intimate.
Romance Is About Them, Not You
The key to being a good lover, and a true romantic at heart, is to focus on pleasing the other person. Romance is about giving unselfishly to your partner, not receiving your kinkiest fantasy.
You should be spontaneous, long after the first date and the relationship is established. Be spontaneous about expressing your love in subtle and outright ways. Small spontaneous niceties are just as effective as grand romantic gestures.
Learn Your Partner
After a while, you will start to learn your partner–what turns them on, what they want out of life, what they need around the house and what kind of atmosphere they find romantic. Remember to use that information if you really want to impress them.
The closer you become in early dating, the closer you must keep each other as the relationship ages. Total honesty is what makes romance happen. Partners can usually sense if you are holding back expressing your real feelings. Relationships initially built on trust and openness are easily threatened by a lack of communication.
Just once in a while. Though sex is important, simply touching each other, hugging or kissing without the thought of sex is very romantic and shows your partner that you never take them for granted.
Talking & Laughing
Never take for granted the little joys in life. Continue to laugh with your partner and chatter away about anything and everything that comes to mind. Romance is built not just on gestures, but on dependable friendship.
Learn To Compromise
Never yielding to someone else may make you a tough negotiator, but it won’t win you any points in romance. Presenting yourself as an uncompromising type of personality early in dating is a risk. By the time you’re in a serious relationship, the ability to compromise and make someone happy will be the most romantic gesture of all.
Need Help In Your Dating Life?
If you are noticing problems in your dating life then therapy may be just what you need to make a positive change. A therapist could help you understand more about yourself and what you’re looking for in a relationship. Do you find yourself entering into dysfunctional relationships and attracting the wrong kind of person? Do you have a problem with romance or with expressing yourself to potential partners?
Therapy can help you in areas beyond the bedroom. A therapist can teach you how to improve your social skills and how to find the right partner. He or she can give you advice on dating and relationships so that you never have to endure another bad date.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
There is nothing unhealthy or sinful about self-love or “solo sex.” It is a normal form of sexual expression that is a great release for stress and erotic feelings. And it’s available to you anytime.
The practice offers an alternative to sexual intercourse, if a man is not ready for relationships, protecting himself from STDs, dealing with unwanted pregnancies or lacks a partner.
There is a difference between healthy masturbation and excessive masturbation. Excessive masturbation is usually a smoke screen for psychological problems. Like sexual addiction, it is an extreme activity which typically masks difficult emotions like depression, self-loathing, anger, fear, guilt and shame.
Some have said that excessive masturbation can lead to lower back pain, stress and anxiety, thinning hair, groin pain and pelvic cramps. There are even claims that excessive masturbation can effect the delicate neurotransmitters which influence brain chemistry.
These claims are not true. What is true is that excessive masturbation may cause some physical health problems and certainly psychological harm if a person is also suffering from sexual addiction.
Consequences Of Excessive Masturbation
Any natural and pleasurable function can be abused by a person–particularly if they have an addictive personality. Many people have a tendency to over-eat and over-drink alcoholic beverages, which can be physically harmful. What are the physical results of excessive masturbation? Obviously some chaffing could occur and some cramps might result if muscles have been overworked. Some skin conditions could develop, perhaps even broken blood vessels, though this would probably only result from unusually rough sessions.
If a man masturbates to the point where it hurts, or irritates the skin, and he cannot stop, there is a problem. Such behavior requires professional help and depends in large part on the person being able to acknowledge the problem.
What’s important to consider in this situation is if the excessive masturbation is something fairly recent, and if some sort of psychological issue could be the cause. While normal masturbation would not qualify as a sexual addiction, if a person is experimenting with dangerous sexual techniques or is tempted to masturbate in public, this would be a telling sign of sexual addiction. When it comes to sexual dysfunction then it is possible that excessive masturbation could have negative effects on a person’s sex life. If a man masturbates quickly and focuses exclusively on his own pleasure for many years, he may find it difficult to sexually satisfy a partner. This could cause premature ejaculation or even delayed ejaculation, if the one individual was exceptionally rough with his own body.
What To Do If You Have A Problem
If you choose to masturbate then take care of your body. If your skin starts to chaff stop the sexual activity for a while. Use lubricant and try not to be any rougher with your own body than you would if you were having gentle sex with a partner. As long as you are not straining, then the only concern would be if masturbation were starting to affect other areas of your life. If you are concerned that excessive masturbation will cause sexual dysfunction later on, work on trying to improve your sexual performance. Rather than masturbating 10 times a day as quickly as possible, try to prolong the session and focus on building your sexual stamina.
However, if excessive masturbation points to a sexual addiction, then it is important that you receive professional counseling from a therapist. A therapist could help to treat the addiction so that you can return sexual activity to its proper place, and not endanger your life or other relationships.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
A problem that can arise when two people, who are in a committed relationship,start to feel mismatched in their sexual desire. One may have a low appetite for sex and desire it occasionally, while the other partner may want sex more frequently. This is known as desire discrepancy or a libido imbalance.
What Does It Happen?
Desire discrepancy is one of the most common problems among couples. The imbalance can go towards either gender. Some women may lose interest in sex, leaving their man frustrated, or some men may become unresponsive leaving the woman unsatisfied. An imbalance has nothing to do with erectile dysfunction or even inhibition. It’s not a physical dysfunction as much as it is a general psychological issue. Both partners might even be at their sexual peak. However, one may simply have a greater sexual desire than the other.
What seems to be typical is that when two future lovers first meet the less sexually active partner masks his or her sexual responsiveness for a time. What one partner might perceive as a great desire for sexual intimacy in the other, might actually be just polite acquiescence. Also, the excitement of a new sexual relationship could cause both partners to desire sex more than what would be their normal routine. After sexual activity starts occurring on a regular basis, the novelty of lust wears off. Even while love between partners may remain strong, the initial hot passion tends to subside. This is when desire discrepancy is discovered.
What To Do
The first thing to realize is that desire discrepancy is nobody’s fault. It is not the fault of the man or the woman–it’s simply a frustrating problem that two libidos are unevenly matched. Both lovers must realize that the discrepancy is not personal, and that getting angry and confrontational about it does not help matters. A committed relationship should be about love and selflessly trying to please not one’s self, but the other partner. If one partner is sexually frustrated then it is a problem that both partners need to address. This type of problem will not go away by itself, nor is it fair to suggest that the other partner’s desire is a flaw.
Sex therapists who treat this problem often find that a lack of communication and a lack of empathy for the other partner is what causes the discrepancy. The first point to remember is that nobody is at fault and everybody in the room wants to work the problem out. Personal attacks only escalate the situation. Consider these tips that will improve communication and help with desire discrepancy.
Masturbate To Prove Your Love
The attitude that masturbation in a relationship is offensive or insulting to the other partner is childish. Masturbation can equalize a large imbalance between partners. If one partner has a high sex drive and the other partner has already met him half way there, then masturbation may be what is needed to balance things out. Sex can be an act of love or it can be for physical gratification. You should not have to live without sex or force it on anyone. Make love to yourself and give your partner the night off–it’s the kind thing to do.
Adjust Your Volume
Another ways an imbalance can be worked out is by having both partners adjust their libido for the other one. If one partner desires more sex, and isn’t satisfied with masturbation, then it would be wise to stop stimulating excessive desire, such as indulging in pornography or hot romance novels. On the other hand, if one partner with a lower sex drive is trying to please their partner, then they might try boosting their libido through viewing sexual entertainment, fantasizing or touching themselves in anticipation of the encounter.
In addition, there is the need for compromise and maturity. Sometimes pleasing your partner can be just as rewarding as fulfilling your own needs. Sex is not always about lust and sensation; in committed relationships it has more to do with giving. If you are empathetic to your partner’s needs then you will want to compromise. Compromising might involve taking turns on different nights–doing what the high-libido partner wants one night, and then the next night doing what the lower libido partner wants. (Which may be nothing) It could also involve one partner bringing the other to orgasm without any full-blown intercourse happening. Learning to compromise will improve your sex life, even the desire discrepancy and actually help strengthen your relationship.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Raising sexually healthy children in our culture requires courage, knowledge and most importantly a proactive parenting style. Just as parents take an active role in helping their children develop healthy habits around nutrition, sleep, and exercise, they can be proactive in helping their children develop a healthy sense of sexuality. Why is it important? Because much of our culture encourages children, and adults, to adopt a sense of sexuality that’s built on a foundation of fear and anxiety. To balance these messages parents need to be active in educating their children about their sexual lives. Sexuality’s a lifelong developmental part of everyone’s personality and includes things like gender roles, physical changes (puberty, menopause, etc.), emotional attractions, and our physical bodies. Very young children start to explore their bodies before they even have the words to describe what they’re doing. But parents have those words
and more: we have values to guide them, resources to educate them, encouragement to supportthem, and ears to listen to them as they struggle to develop as sexual beings. Following are four important ways parents can help their children grow up sexually healthy.
Increase Your Ability to Talk About Sexuality
“Sexuality” is different than “Sexual Intercourse.” Research indicates that most parents talk to their teenage kids on some level about sexual intercourse, but have you had a conversation with your 3 year old about him/her touching his/her genitals? Have you had a conversation with your 5 year old about the “doctor game” kids sometimes play? Have you had a conversation with your 11 year old about kissing and other sexual contact? These are developmentally common behaviors. They’re also great opportunities to help your child develop sexual values and decision making skills in a context that’s relevant to her/him. Just as you educate yourself about your child’s biological and educational milestones, you can educate yourself about your children’s sexual milestones as well, so that you can be prepared for their needs.
Here are a few communication tips:
1) Avoid “The Birds and the Bees” talk. This event usually ends up feeling like a lecture, and is nerve-racking for both the parent and the child. Instead, try having lots of little talks every week or so. This will show that you’re a parent who can be approached anytime about sexuality.
2) Enjoy one of the many sexuality education books made for parents and kids to read together.
3) Turn on the radio, TV, or DVD player. Our culture is overflowing with opportunities to talk about sexuality, especially if you expand the definition to include relationships, gender roles, etc. Unfortunately only two types of sexuality are prominent in the media: erotic sexuality and examples of how people use sex to hurt others. But these are good springboards to discussing many other aspects of your children’s sexual lives.
4) Have a conversation with your partner within earshot of your child that embraces sexuality.
5) Ask about your kid’s relationships. What are his/her classmates doing? Is she/he thinking about boys or girls yet? How does he/she make decisions about relationships that honor self/others? When these conversations begin before kindergarten, they’re easier to have in middle and high school when the stakes are higher.
6) Be an askable parent. Make sure your kids know that they can come to you with any question they might have about sexuality, THEN, make sure you never make them sorry they asked. This is an important tool for raising sexually healthy children but not enough by itself; some parents wait forever for their children to approach them while their kids sexually develop by trial and error.
Teach Them Their Sexuality is a Great Thing
Children begin to associate feelings with their sexuality from a very early age. For example, a child whose parents are relaxed and comfortable when their child may see them naked learns that a naked body is an OK thing. If the same child’s parents became anxious or condemning of the child’s curiosity, the child is more likely to assume that her/his naked body is something to be anxious about. If you adopt the attitude in your home that sexuality is a wonderful thing, you’ll be bucking a powerful myth: Sexuality is Dangerous. We don’t say that money or food are inherently dangerous, and yet both can be used to harm ourselves or manipulate others. The same is true with sexuality. The fact that some people use it in ways that are not caring to themselves or others doesn’t make it any more inherently dangerous than money. In fact if we want our children to be responsible with their sexuality, the way to encourage carefulness is to teach them how wonderful it is. Children who understand this intuitively don’t tolerate when sexual expression feels manipulative, uncaring, painful, or dangerous.
Teach Them Sexual Decision Making Skills
Parents are the most important sexuality educators of their children. Research overwhelmingly suggests that abstinence focused sexuality education does not result in delayed sexual contact. In fact, the very opposite may be true. This is because, while abstinence is a crucial part of any comprehensive educational plan about sexuality, focusing exclusively on abstinence denies the opportunity to address sexual decision making. If the answer is always supposed to be no, what is there to decide? On at least one occasion the answer for over 60% of high school seniors has been yes, and 100% of children have had to make a decision about their sexual expression. When, with whom, and how to express sexuality are questions that children struggle with on a continual basis. Teaching them decision making skills will help them figure out how to live their sexual lives in ways that closely reflect their values.
It’s Never Too Late
Parents can start preparing their children for healthy sexual lives in the first couple years of life, but if you’ve missed that opportunity you can still be very helpful when they’re teenagers. Research suggests that teenagers consider their parents the most important source of sexuality education, even when they consistently tell their parents they don’t want to talk. Parents who start this education when their kids are teenagers may face unique challenges, however, including children who are too embarrassed or withdrawn to make themselves accessible. Would you give up discussing your child’s nutritional health if they protested? How about their wellbeing in school? Of course not; you’d probably tell them that you’d like to understand why this is such a difficult subject for them, but that ignoring it simply isn’t an option. The same can be true with respect to their sexuality. They’ll probably loosen up when they realize that you’re not going to drop it, but if not, you can bet they’ll be listening if you just talk.
Many children in our community grow up without guidance regarding their sexuality. All too often this results in a struggle to manage this area of their lives in ways that are caring to both themselves and to others. Fortunately, parents are the most important asset a child has in their efforts to grow to be healthy sexual people. By acknowledging their sexuality, teaching them it’s a beautiful thing, and helping them develop values and decision making skills, parents can help their children grow to be sexually healthy adults.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
A common concern I hear from my female clients involves difficulty in reaching orgasm. Here are some hints that I have found to be helpful:
1) Anticipate the Sexual Encounter–Many women find that if they spend some time fantasizing about an upcoming sexual encounter, they can use their minds (imagination) to “turn themselves on” physically, as well as emotionally. It also helps for women to learn to identify what turns them on in their environment (i.e., romantic or erotic stories, love songs, videos, etc.) and use this material in anticipation of a sexual encounter. This process of “starting on warm” can help to make reaching “the end” easier.
2) Get Relaxed--Most women require a transition or “down time” in order to be opened-up to receiving sexual pleasure. This is because emotional tension negatively interferes with sexual response. So, listen to music, take a hot bath, read a book, do “whatever works” to get relaxed. Being in a relaxed mode is very helpful to achieving orgasm.
3) Eliminate Distractions--Women frequently find that their minds are cluttered with distractions such as “to do” lists, worries about privacy, too much light in the room, too much noise, pets in the room, etc. Identifying one’s distractions and then eliminating them before sex can help a woman to focus on her body and her good feelings so that orgasm is easier to achieve. Distractions of any kind usually sabotage the sexual focus needed for most women to reach orgasm.
4) Eliminate Anger--It is hard to make love to a porcupine—and that is how many women feel when they are angry at their partner. Anger distances people. It is necessary for most women to work on eliminating angry and hurt feelings so that they can feel intimately connected with their partner. Most women require connection at the heart before they can truly connect with their genitals.
5) Get Comfortable with Your Body and Its Imperfections–Learning to appreciate and accept one’s body is key to good sexual responsiveness. Obsessing over body imperfections–how it looks, feels, smells, or tastes, etc., may sabotage sexual response and certainly can interfere with orgasm. Such obsessing interferes with sexual arousal. In other words, the mind gets in the way of the body’s response. It is good to remember that most men get more turned on by an interested and interesting partner rather than by a perfect body.
6) Get Into an Erotic Focus During Sex--This requires putting the mind in an erotic mode so that the mind can boost physical arousal. This can be done by following in “the mind’s eye” what one’s partner is doing (to you) physically. It may require imagery of an erotic or romantic scene or fantasy that is a turn on. Perhaps, best of all is being turned on by watching one’s partner and/or looking into each other’s eyes. But this might not be possible because many women need closed eyes to focus in order to reach orgasm.
7) Concentrate–As arousal builds, most women need to concentrate on their pleasurable feelings (especially those in the clitoris and/or vagina), and on their growing excitement. Concentration, which usually excludes verbal responses, is part of the erotic focus necessary for many women to reach orgasm.
8) Get Out of The “Real Way” Trap–Many people of both genders mistakenly believe that “the real way” to orgasm is only through vaginal intercourse. Other ways of achieving orgasm, such as by clitoral stimulation (manually or orally), do not count to these people because these orgasms are deemed inferior to a “vaginal orgasms.” This false belief (which originated with Sigmund Freud) still causes many modern women to think they are broken, abnormal or inferior because they can not orgasm “the real way.” Please remember: The majority of women orgasm most effectively with clitoral stimulation or vaginal stimulation assisted by clitoral stimulation, not by vaginal stimulation alone, and that is okay and fine! Many women will never orgasm just by vaginal stimulation alone. All orgasms are valid no matter how they happen to occur. Trying to orgasm the “real way” can trap people into worrying about sexual performance and can certainly inhibit orgasm.
9) Make Time For Play–People frequently leave lovemaking for very late hours, when bodies just need sleep. If people would “make time for play” (not necessarily foreplay), protect that time and not wait for spontaneous encounters, they would be more assured of good sex. This is especially meaningful for women because it is easier to reach orgasm when feeling energized rather than tired and weary.
1) Become an Expert On Your Own Body–Learning about your body and its responses is essential for most women to reach orgasm reliably. The idea is to take control of your body and personally get in touch with your responses, then teach your partner what kind of touch is most pleasurable. Remember, he is not the expert only on his body! Your are! Women who haven’t learned about their bodies are not able to know what they like sexually. These women are often not orgasmic because they haven’t learned what works for them.
2) Communicate Openly–Open communication is essential for sexual satisfaction because people are not mind readers. Spoken communication is clearest, but guiding your partner’s hand or prearranged cues may work as well. Open communication about sex takes honesty, trust, respect and the ability to take risks.
3) Be Sure Your Partner is “On the Mark”– If your partner is off target when stimulating your body, you won’t ever reach orgasm. So, make sure you convey where you need to be touched as well as what you like best.
4) Exaggerate Sexual Tension--With physical arousal it is natural for one’s muscles to tense up as orgasm approaches. This happens in both sexes, but is more noticeable in women. Exaggerating this muscle tension may help to trigger an orgasm.
5) Squeeze those Muscles–Contracting the muscles around the vagina (called PC muscles) helps to bring blood to the genitals and thus builds arousal. These are also the muscles that contract with orgasm. Squeezing the PC muscles (called Kegel Exercises) may help to trigger orgasm and may make orgasm more intense.
6) Hang Your Head--Hanging your head over the side of the bed may trigger orgasm. In some women this may heighten arousal and sexual tension. If nothing else, this position will be a distraction from “trying too hard” and hence may lead to orgasm.
7) Breathe Differently–Varying breathing patterns may also add to sexual arousal and can trigger orgasm.
8) Be a Tease–Teasing yourself or allowing your partner to tease you by touching your “pleasure spots,” then withdrawing the touch over and over again, is a very effective way to build arousal and heighten orgasm.
9) Practice Letting Go–Orgasm rehearsal (in private) is often helpful for women who have trouble relinquishing control. Practicing orgasms, including making noises and “funny” faces, may help to gain comfort and reduce anxiety about having orgasms. This may help in the process of learning to orgasm.
10) Be superior–For women who want to “work on” their orgasms with intercourse, the female superior position (on top) generally works best. This position allows a woman to take control of intercourse, thus allowing maximum stimulation. In this way, she can control the tempo of intercourse, the depth of penile thrusting (or sliding movements), and the clitoral stimulation. The female superior position is especially good for women who have personal issues that require the need to feel in total control sexually.
11) Use Toys If You Like–If you are comfortable with the use of sex toys, vibrators can be a fun way to help “get there” reliably and easily. They take “the work” out of trying to orgasm and can also take pressure off your partner because your pleasure then becomes your own responsibility. Vibrators work best when you hold it on yourself. Vibrators can be used (held on the clitoris) for sexual play or during sexual intercourse to facilitate the path to orgasm.
It’s hard for us as individuals to take a truly objective view of problematic anger and its causes. Anger and fear are primary, inborn emotions. We take them granted, as a fish takes water for granted. We have been swimming in these feelings all our lives.
Anger, aggression, and violence have plagued humanity throughout history. Philosophers, psychologists and legislators have struggled with the perplexing issue of anger from their various perspectives. Recent advances in neuropsychology, cognitive science, and evolutionary psychology have enhanced our understanding of the cause of anger issues. Clinical psychology has developed new strategies and techniques for the treatment of anger problems.
I would like to help you understand the natural as well as the psychological causes of anger from the modern perspective of psychological science. Accordingly, I will discuss the natural basis of rage and aggression in terms of the fight or flight response. We will list a number of significant etiological factors which have been observed by clinical psychologists and counselors working with anger management issues. Finally, we will outline neurological, cognitive behavioral, and psychodynamic process contributing to the development of an anger disorder.
Evolutionary psychologists inform us that anger and rage are behavioral tools of human survival. The fight-or-flight reaction is hardwired into the brain to help us protect ourselves and those who matter to us. Physiological psychologists have learned that when it is triggered, it causes us to be propelled into a highly focused, energized state.
The upside of anger and rage is that they enable us to better defend ourselves or to frighten off an aggressor. This automatic, protective reaction works well in nature or in war. It is appropriate and useful when there is an actual threat and something worth fighting for.
There is a very unfortunate downside of anger, however. Anger and rage reactions can create enormous problems, especially when we fail to realize when threats are merely psychological and the stakes are not worth fighting about. Here is an example.
James spots his wife, Sarah, just as two criminals are about to knock her down and rob her. She is clearly terrified, like a deer in the headlights.
James is immediately frightened for her safety. He is not a particularly impulsive, angry, or aggressive man. He is not large or athletic. However, in the briefest instant, he becomes completely enraged. He finds himself charging at them, his face red and ugly, roaring profanities, arms flying out to grab them. He scares them off. Sarah feels relieved and grateful.
Later that day, James has just calmed down, but Sarah is still agitated. She had never seen him so angry, and she is taken aback. He does not notice that she is still distressed. She senses this and feels alone in her lingering upset. She suddenly snaps at him and accuses him of foolishly exposing them to assault.
James is stunned. He feels rejected, hurt and criticized. He is like a deer in the headlights and can’t speak. Her reproach baffles and then angers him. He curtly dismisses her point of view. Now Sarah feels disregarded and unfairly attacked as well.
They quarrel in an escalating manner, talking past each other. They both feel resentful and misunderstood. James starts to feel helpless and flooded with emotion. He gets up to leave. Sarah feels like he is running away and rejecting her. She jumps up and blocks the way, refusing to let him go.
Now, James feels helpless, flooded and, trapped. Something in him snaps, and he erupts into righteous anger and rage. Sarah becomes terrified and tearful, and James instantly calms down. He is filled with remorse but blames her for his outburst.
When James was rescuing Sarah, he was in a frightening rage… and acted like a hero. An instinctive rage reaction provided the energy and courage he needed to protect his wife from an actual threat. However, a similar anger reaction, when directed at her, was clearly inappropriate and abusive.
This second incident has the potential to be as traumatizing as the earlier one. How can James have acted so aggressively towards the woman he loves?
Both of them were emotionally vulnerable: on edge and physiologically aroused. When Sarah reproached him, he felt disrespected and his sense of self worth plummeted. His emotional pain triggered the same rage response as a real life or death situation. He experienced her as a threat and reacted with anger.
In many cases like this, we mistakenly react out of a psychological hurt or a threat. Psychological triggers include fear of abandonment, rejection or humiliation. Subjective threats to our sense of self worth, pride, or emotional security can mistakenly spark the fight or flight response and cause anger, rage and harmful, aggressive actions.
Anger management psychologists identify a variety of key factors in the development of dysfunctional anger reactions.
- Negative attitudes towards our self, or negative expectations of others, can increase our sense of vulnerability.
- Fear of asserting oneself can cause resentment to build into passive-aggressive hostility or rage reactions.
- Under-developed emotional regulation (ER) skills (e.g., impulsivity) make it harder to contain mounting anger.
- A psychological history of being unloved, rejected, abandoned, or dominated can prime us for anger responses.
- A traumatic history of witnessing abuse or being abused can produce an automatic panic or rage reaction.
- Family or peer role models may teach us to use anger inappropriately: for control, power, payback, or status purposes.
- The failure of loved ones and friends to provide immediate feedback and appropriate consequences enables patterns of abuse to take root.
In general, any psychological state, physiological condition, or situation which increases stress or reduces self control can indirectly contribute to angry behavior or an actual anger management problem. Examples include alcohol and substance abuse, insomnia, illness, fatigue, emotional overload, overwork, or over-stimulation (flooding), unemployment, underemployment, and burn-out. Chronic pain and anger, depression, and a feeling of self-pity or helplessness tend to go with anger.
What is the developmental process by which we go from coping with occasional anger to suffering from an anger control problem or an anger disorder?
Anger management problems develop more easily when we live in a state of anxiety, tension, or depression. These emotions prime us to feel vulnerable. They get us ready to perceive a threat whether actual danger is there or not.
Anger produces a self defeating cycle of harm. For example, it most often starts when our pride is wounded, or we feel emotionally threatened or hurt by people who matter to us. We may react (or retaliate) with anger and inflict harm upon them in turn. This typically results in a negative reaction from others and an inner sense of guilt or shame.
Sometimes we try to justify ourselves by blaming others or circumstances for our behavior. This leads to further harm to our relationships and our self esteem. We feel worse and become angrier. This negative feedback process continues and escalates. From this point forward, hostility, rage, or violence can destroy relationships, marriages, families, and careers.
Why would anyone persist in such painful, self-defeating behavior? The psychology of developing an anger disorder seems convoluted and counter-intuitive. Isn’t it a rule of human behavior that we seek pleasure and avoid pain? True, but behavior that is driven by survival instincts appear to be the major exception to the rule.
I doubt that many species ever died off through being too careful, anxious, or aggressive. In the interest of survival, nature has biased us prey species towards fearfulness and caution. That is, when we are triggered, we tend to look too keenly for harm, and we tend to over react to signs of danger.
In discussing the psychology of rage reactions, we have seen how a false, subjective or psychological threat can trigger the fight response. So we can misread the significance of a possible threat, react impulsively and without considered judgment, and not recognize it at the time. Adrenaline is flowing and we are primed to run or do something aggressive, if only to scream. This is what can happen when we have a horrible fight with a spouse. Fear and/or anger hijack the brain, impairing our judgment, and skewing perception and memory.
We tend to have an impaired recall of what really happened because our cerebral cortex was briefly offline at the time. In the case of a rage reaction, we may not be able to recall details unrelated to our fear or anger. That makes it easy to deny or rationalize inappropriate and harmful things we may have said or done. Afterward, our anxiety, shame, pride or resentment may make it difficult for us to hear another person’s version of the event. So, we under-estimate and fail to appreciate the negative impact of our angry or aggressive behavior on others.
When we are upset, in emotional or physical pain, or feel frustrated or threatened, we are in a state of acute stress. When we are stressed like this, anger can temporarily make us feel somewhat better.
When we express anger, it lets us shift from feeling helpless, afraid, depressed, tired, or hurt, if only for a little while. We may immediately experience a sense of energy, relief, focus, or empowerment. This relatively good feeling reinforces the habit of anger.
Each additional instance of angry or aggressive behavior reinforces a mindless fight response. With each repetition of rage, anger reduces the likelihood that we will respond more thoughtfully next time. Self-pity, a form of self-nurturance gone wrong, gradually replaces self-reflection and self-worth. Thus, we make things worse for ourselves and get more and more dependent upon anger for coping with upset feelings.
At times, we may feel low, down on ourselves, or helpless. We may get bored, lazy, or passive. Some people need to get angry in order to get things done. For some individuals, anger can act like a stimulant drug that gets us energized, distracted or jazzed.
Anger can become a habit, but can we properly speak of an anger addition? From a functional point of view, definitely. Like a chemical addiction, addiction to anger:
- is accompanied by emotional release or relief
- is compulsive and hard to resist
- makes one feel better for a little while but worse latter
- weakens coping skills and self-esteem
- harms health, relationships, family, and career
- perpetuates itself through self-pity and denial
- is hard to give up
Drug dependency and addiction to anger both produce chemical and neurological changes in the brain and get people stuck.
Denial of an anger problem is evident when we refuse to acknowledge what is obvious to people who know us and even to unbiased observers.
We can’t solve a problem if we refuse to recognize it. Why do we tend to resist the demand for necessary change? The prospect makes us feel uncomfortable or helpless. For example, we may feel unequipped for the change, or we may be afraid to give up something and try something new.
We may resist facing reality due to a misplaced sense of pride. That is, we don’t want to admit that we are “wrong” or have failed ourselves or others in some way. Some people half-way admit to having problems with controlling angry feelings or aggressive behaviors. However, they may try to justify their actions and lay the blame elsewhere. Blaming puts the solution to a problem beyond our power to solve or heal.
We actually may resent legitimate demands that we change, even when it is in our interest to do so. Misguided self justification keeps our sense of injury in focus. Unfortunately, this self-defeating cycle eventually leads to rejection by others. This can lead to self-pity and a victim mentality which further fuels our anger.
Anger management counseling can provide the concepts and tools to replace denial, blame, and victimization with real solutions.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Do you find yourself so full of worries throughout the day that you can’t concentrate? Do you always fear that something bad will happen to someone you love? Do you consider yourself a “worrier”?
If your life is full of anxiety, your sex life will suffer mightily too. And you probably do not recognize the connection between your level of daily anxiety and your disinterest in sex.
Ask yourself, are you anxious, worried, or panicky. If so, take the time to make plans to get treatment for anxiety disorders which are ruining the quality of your life. There are many different anxiety disorders, and there are excellent sites on the internet which can help you decide if you have one.
GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) is characterized by long periods chronic anxiety and worry, which you can’t control. Sometimes, the anxiety has specific focuses, such as work, relationships, finances, looming deadlines, or potential problems in your life or the lives of others. Other times, you will feel anxious, but not be able to figure out what you are actually anxious about.
Generalized anxiety disorder affects four to five million Americans and research shows that it affects about two women for every one man (Brawman-Mintzer O, Lydiard RB, 1996), with the median age of onset occurring during the early 20s.
(Rickels K, Schweitzer, E., 1990.)
One of the little recognized side effects of GAD is the chilling effect it has on a woman’s sexuality. Typically, women with GAD do not even recognize that they have a psychological problem. They just think of themselves as “worriers.” They tend to come from families of “worriers” as well, so they tend to believe that their emotional lifestyle and their thinking patterns are normal.
In more than 30 years in clinical practice, I have never met a woman in a stable, long term relationship who has untreated GAD and who is able to enjoy sex! Generalized anxiety disorder is poison for women’s sexual pleasure.
There are several reasons why this is so. They are all related to the GAD- woman’s inability to control her own thoughts and to focus her positive energy toward her sexual self for a sustained period of time. Being a sexual person is not just a natural process. Many times it is a learning process, and it takes focus. Let’s take a look at how sexual relationships unfold for women without GAD and compare it to the process when a woman does have GAD.
In the beginning, the experience of being in love is the same for all of us, male and female, GAD-sufferers or not.
Many of us have had the experience of falling in love. In the early stages of being in love, men and women have basically become deluded. One of my friends used to say that people in love are in a psychotic state. We believe, insanely, that we have just found the PERFECT person, the person we were meant to be with.
We believe that IF we are united with that person for good, the rest of our life will be just as we wanted it to be. We feel we are destined to be with that person and with no one else. We are desperate when we are separated from them, and devour them greedily when we meet up again. We lose our appetite for food. Our appetite for sex with them is insatiable. We often can’t wait to touch them. We don’t know if they love us as much as we love them. We’re obsessed with the idea of being with them.
When we are first in love, powerful chemicals are released in our body, which make us crave our beloved’s touch and inflame sexual desire. (Fisher, 1992) This desire needs no coaxing—it just “is.” The process is so powerful it eclipses the worry process of GAD. Sex is great.
But eventually, for all of us, GAD sufferers or not, if we do wind up with the person with whom we were so besotted, we get used to them! Their newness wears off, chemically. Their newness wears off psychologically, too, and we see their little quirks and faults. At this stage, the phenomenon of unremitting sexual desire changes too, particularly for women.
As men and women know, or are learning, women’s sexuality is not exactly the same as men’s sexuality. In fact, it is quite different, especially in long-term relationships. Many men, especially young men, continue to have a sexual drive that has a mind of it’s own. Desire comes unbidden, sometimes in the midst of a flurry of other necessary activity (like getting ready for a vacation, or doing your taxes….), or in the middle of a time of little or no emotional connection between the two of you.
Past the falling in love stage, most women report that even if they love their partner madly, there may be less of an experience of intense, out-of-the-blue “lust” for their partners that pulls them out of their daily lives and demands to be satiated. At times, it is more as if desire appears on little cat feet, a soft feeling of psychological and physical anticipation of sharing pleasure with a loved partner. That desire and arousal needs to be nurtured psychologically, and it needs to be nurtured physically.
You might wonder what I mean when I say that desire “”needs to be nurtured physically.”
For many women, past the falling-in-love stage, arousal depends on a long period of non-genital touch. While men tend to like to have their genitals touched early in the lovemaking process, women often like to have other parts of their bodies caressed to have their arousal build. For instance, many women love to have their necks kissed, or have their hair played with.
Most women have non-genital areas of their body which they feel good about, which vary from woman to woman, but which hold a lot of potential for pleasure. Many women love the sensations they get from kissing and petting.
I have talked about touch (1998) as one of the primary “Milestones of Sexual Development.” Learning to enjoy sex is something we originally learn, if we are lucky enough to learn it, in our families of origin. Not by being sexual with our parents or siblings, of course, but by learning to associate safe, non-genital, affectionate touch with feelings of safety, relaxation, pleasure, trust and love (SexSmart, A.Zoldbrod l998).
Some of you readers did not learn to enjoy affectionate touch in their families, and you need to take steps to learn what kind of touch you like. (Zoldbrod, 1998; Heiman and Lo Piccolo, 1988). It takes time and being able to focus on yourself to learn what kind of touch you enjoy. Some women with GAD may be surprised to discover, in reading this, that they aren’t sure of what kinds of touch they like, because they can’t relax enough to touch themselves, or to enjoy exploring touch through massage.
Without an enjoyment of non-genital touch, the vast majority of women in ongoing, loving relationships will not be able to become aroused enough to orgasm. Genital touch alone doesn’t give we women the whole-body charge we need to really enjoy sex.
The tricky thing is, sex isn’t that simple. To have good sex with an ongoing, beloved partner, you have to be able to teach your partner where you like to be touched, and you, yourself, have to learn to relax, let go of control, and focus on the pleasurable sensations.
In Sex Smart, I call this process “floating,” because it is such a pleasant, altered, hypnotic sensation.
In order to build excitement, a woman needs to float and feel safe in her body and let go of control— to focus deep inside her body, to concentrate on sensation, and to let her partners’ touch build up feelings of physical and sensual pleasure.
Unfortunately, GAD women are too anxious to give up control. And the GAD prevents the sense of floating, because unbidden thoughts intrude and do not allow the focus on pleasurable sensations. Relentless thoughts such as: “ Did I lock the door?” “What is that pile of laundry doing on the floor?” “Do I look fat from this angle?” prevent a focus on building up pleasurable sensation.
In other words, all women have to learn to let themselves shut out the world and “float” to have sexual pleasure and intense sexual arousal. GAD prevents women from ever being able to get to the “floating” state to begin with.
All women are distractible sexually and GAD women can’t focus at all. In Sex Talk (2002), I talk about the fact that all women tend to be distractible sexually, and what to do about it. Even women without GAD who do know how to “float” can be distracted during lovemaking. It takes focus to stay in the floating state and build up a good sexual charge.
“Men and women are different sexually in some very important ways. One of them is that once aroused, men have what is called “the point of ejaculatory inevitability. “ That means that at a certain point in a man’s arousal, he will orgasm, pretty much no matter what else comes into his head. He could have a fleeting thought about his taxes being due, what a pain his boss is, his son needing lessons on how to drive a car, or his need for a fresh haircut, but these thoughts would not be enough to prevent him from ejaculating. This accounts for why more men than women consider sex to be “relaxing”. No matter how stressed men are, once the point of ejaculatory inevitability is reached, their physical release is assured.
“Women, on the other hand, are much more distractible. It can sometimes be more work for women than men to become aroused in the first place, and it is certainly more difficult for women to stay aroused. There is no point of inevitable orgasm for women. Instead, women can get distracted and lose their arousal at any point in the sexual encounter.
“Once arousal is lost, women need to start to build their arousal all over again from the beginning. This is why (I) always encourage women to think of pursuing their own arousal and orgasm as if they were “Taking a Great Dane for a Walk.”
“If orgasm is a woman’s goal, she has to take control of her sexuality and her thoughts and not let her unconscious wander. Just imagine that you are becoming very aroused and then visualize yourself stopping yourself from getting caught up in (….other thoughts…) You need to be talking sex to yourself and nothing else. You need to grab that Great Dane and yank it back on the path to sexual pleasure.”(pages 92-93, SexTalk).
By definition, women with GAD cannot control their fleeting thoughts of worry, distraction, and doom. Their minds always are full of a to-do list, and a “to-worry-about” list, that keeps them from even being able to get that Great Dane on a leash!
Because GAD women can’t “float” or focus on sexual thoughts or sensations, they never feel all that aroused sexually. Being with a loved partner might feel good in a psychological kind of way, or mildly pleasurable, like getting a massage, but it never feels electric or exciting. This is why typically, GAD women aren’t all that interested in sex. Without the true pleasure of high arousal and orgasm, the sexual experience might not be any more enticing than a nice day of gardening!
Perhaps you feel, in reading this, that getting over your GAD and learning to enjoy sex sounds like quite a lot of work. You believe that other people just “naturally” feel good about their sexual selves, that their ability to feel sexual pleasure just arose naturally. They didn’t have to “try” to be sexual, so why should you? Well, the big secret about sexuality is that it does take some work, and it does need to be learned. There isn’t a woman on the planet who likes sex who didn’t put time and effort into her own self exploration. And GAD is quite treatable. So why not put yourself at the top of your agenda and do something which will improve the quality of your life?
GAD responds very well to cognitive behavioral therapy, a very specific, dynamic psychotherapy which involves more than simply talking about the symptoms. Psychologists, most notably David Barlow PhD, have researched and developed specific treatment programs to help people with GAD learn to change the way they assess the world and change their anxiety-causing thoughts.
Treatment is an active process. As the patient, you must be fully committed to doing a series of exercises and to keeping journals of your thoughts for three or four months. If you are motivated, the CBT treatment is usually successful in that time period.
Sometimes medication if helpful for people with GAD, but for many people it isn’t necessary.
When shopping for a therapist, however, make sure that the professional has had specific training in cognitive behavioral training therapy for generalized anxiety disorder.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
« Previous Entries Next Entries »