Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in healing, Uncategorized | Posted on 01-06-2017
Tags: love, new years resoluitons, relationships, sex, valentines day
Recently I watched a hilarious episode of Inside Amy Schumer that had a bunch of highly educated women with PhD’s, standing up on the stage and alternating between apologizing for some pretty ridiculous things. It was a crazy-funny exaggeration of what women – myself included – do all the time, but also a sad reminder of the less-than-empowering socialization of females that still exists in this country.
Generations of women, whose only access to money was through their father and later their husband, have left us with remnants of programming directed at getting and keeping a prosperous man to marry. This training, however, does very little to validate females.
What are Girls Taught?
Socialization of girls starts at a very young age, as they begin getting messages about their role and place in the world, and how they should behave as people. This is generally good information, since it includes rules about not lying, stealing, committing murder, etc. But part of the mix is some gender specific expectations that can keep a woman from achieving her fullest potential.
Some of these unenlightened messages are:
- Your value is based on what you do for others.
- Your appearance is the most important thing you have. It’s necessary to look good, keep your weight down, and pay close attention to your grooming.
- It is absolutely imperative that others like you, so be sure to be “nice” and agreeable all the time.
- The person who makes the money in the household (or more money than the others) is the most important member, and they have the most power and status.
- As a wife, it’s your job to take care of your husband and the rest of the family, because this will bring you satisfaction and happiness.
How the Lessons Hurt Us
In the mind of a child, the above messages are often translated into very limiting unconscious beliefs that become almost hardwired into their thinking. Among these beliefs are the following:
- My needs aren’t important, and I am selfish if I ask for things.
- It doesn’t matter how accomplished I am if I am unattractive and or can’t control my weight.
- It is not okay for me to speak up, and no one wants to hear what I have to say.
- I am “less than.”
Based on these ideas, it would be pretty easy to conclude that you’re taking up space, not as important as your male partner, and that your life priority should be making sure his needs are met, instead of the two of you working as a team.
We talk a lot about how women make less money than men. In my practice, I hear complaints about this from my female clients all the time. However, when I ask them if they’ve actually asked for the fair and equal pay they deserve, I find out few have done this! I believe this is the result of the same self-deprecating programming that contributes to women staying in bad relationships, always doing way more than their share of housework, and not asking for things.
On a day-to-day basis, these outdated attitudes are played out as women apologize for taking too much time at the checkout line, or dipping into “household money” for something not completely practical. Then, of course, there are the infinite ways we take on more responsibility than we can handle comfortably…
Changing our Beliefs about Ourselves
Try substituting some of the following more positive ideas for those old, shameful lessons from your past:
- You have the right to be here, to take up space, and to consume.
- You are the equal of everyone else in the world (except for politicians…in this case, you’re actually superior).
- You have the right to speak up and ask for what you need, what you want, and even some things that might just be nice!
- You always have the right to say “no” to any request, and you don’t need to give a reason.
- You have the right to feel and be safe, and if you ever feel threatened, you have the right to make an incredible scene, and scream and yell for all the world to hear, even if it turns out you weren’t really in that much danger.
- You have the right to live a life very different from the one your parents had envisioned for you.
Remember that no matter what messages you were given as a child, you are very important to the world. As such, expect respectful treatment from others and equality under the law. Stop apologizing and start living with the dignity you deserve as a worthy, loving, and lovable person!
Oh, and one last thing—it’s absolutely okay to take the last cookie from the plate or tissue from the box…and not feel bad about it.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024
A lot of my clients are men and women who come to me for help in trying to cope with the green-eyed monster, jealousy. Intense fear, anxiety, and other troubling feelings take hold as they suspect that their partner is cheating on them, compelling them to do things like check their partner’s phone, hack into their email account, and constantly “check up” on them. These behaviors bother the other person to the point of breakup, or cause serious and material damage to the relationships that do survive. Making things even worse, if their significant other is actually cheating, they often find themselves choosing another cheater in their next relationship!
I had a brush with this myself when a former boyfriend hacked into my email and appeared to be deleting messages from other friends inviting me to social events. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but when I did, I changed all my computer passwords, had new locks installed in my home, and called the police (who weren’t able to do anything, by the way). Needless to say, that relationship ended abruptly. When I confronted the boyfriend, he apologized profusely and admitted he felt compelled to do it out of his fear that I was cheating.
Having worked with both the victims and the perpetrators of these “investigative” activities, I understand the reasons behind it much better. Constantly doubting and checking up on someone else has elements of obsessive-compulsive behavior, and it comes from a place of deep pain. For this reason, it’s not as easy to resolve as you might think. Nearly all my clients with this problem have either been cheated on or been cheaters themselves. Frequently it’s both.
Truth is, the root of their pain is rarely about actually being cheated on—that’s just a symptom. The core issues include believing they are “less than,” not getting their needs met, and frequently feeling abandoned. Even if you could get yourself to stop checking your significant other’s phone, you would still need to get to the deeper causes of the behavior and work on healing your inner pain.
Whether you actually act it out on not, if you find yourself feeling compelled to check phones, look at emails, and/or stalk your partner, your relationship and all the ones that come after it are in serious trouble without some professional help.
How do you know the difference between obsessive checking and an intuitive feeling that your partner is actually cheating?
It can be difficult, to say the least, telling the difference between a compulsive urge and an intuition. It helps, though, if you stay in touch with your emotions and motivations. As I have said before, real, intuitive messages tend to feel more neutral, like a quiet voice in your head, a picture in your mind, or a gut feeling that something is off. An intuition to look at your partner’s phone is generally not normal behavior for you, not premeditated, and most of all, not something you feel like doing every 10 minutes! A number of clients who caught their partner cheating have told me that for “some reason,” they picked up the other person’s phone when it rang, having never done that before, and discovered the infidelity.
When our less rational, more obsessive side is involved, we are usually feeling unsettled, scared, or angry. Our thinking is directed to one thing, and one thing only—getting to the information about our partner that we absolutely MUST have.
Ultimately, if a man is actually cheating, he will always get caught eventually. Guys—with the possible exception of Don Draper from Mad Men—are just not that good at covering their tracks! Women are more careful, so checking their phone doesn’t usually provide any clues. The point is, since cheating will become evident at one point or another, there’s no need to check anyone’s phone on a regular basis.
If obsessive worry and/or jealousy regarding your partner is a common issue for you, it’s time to take a deeper look and work to heal the inner wound fueling that obsession. Start by asking yourself a couple key questions:
“Am I getting what I need from this relationship?”
If not, maybe you need to look at that. Ironically, people who really are getting their needs met often miss obvious cheating because they are happy. But if you are NOT happy, take a look inside yourself, apart from your relationship, to find out why.
“Do I have hurts from the past I haven’t dealt with?”
I can already tell you the answer is “yes,” because we all do. But if buried pain is causing you to feel excessively anxious and jealous, and to obsessively scrutinize your mate’s social contacts, you must resolve these old wounds if you ever want to create a happy, loving, and satisfying relationship with a good match.
Having said all this, sometimes it’s the sad truth that our significant other is really cheating, seemingly justifying our constant anxiety. Trust me on this, though…if your partner is cheating, it will never stay a secret for very long, so you don’t need to waste energy worrying about it. Shift your focus instead to making yourself happy. Then no matter what happens in life or with others, you’ll be able to handle it, and HANDLE IT WELL.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024
Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 11-17-2016
In my many years of working with clients on both emotional eating and emotional spending, I have observed that the two issues are very much the same. I’ve discussed emotional eating quite a bit already, so I’d like to talk about buying binges. Similar to dieting, which doesn’t address emotional eating, budgeting won’t help you with emotional spending. To be more financially responsible, you have to change both your mindset about money and your relationship with it.
Of course, the first step in confronting any issue is to recognize it. Let’s face it—much of our spending is emotional. There are few things we actually “need,” with many purchases being a mixture of want and need. For example, you might truly require a new purse, but choose a more attractive, expensive one rather than something basic that would fill your practical needs.
The key to shifting your behavior is to make spending a conscious activity. Take your time in deciding to make a purchase, rather than being driven by feelings, which shift and change all the time. Buying something can give you a short-lived “high,” which is quickly forgotten as you move on to the next thing. Have you ever purchased something on Amazon, only to have it arrive a few days later, at which point you barely even remember ordering it? Obviously, you didn’t really need that item, and the money would have been better deposited in your 401K. But saving isn’t sexy, and it doesn’t give you that fun little “kick” that shopping does, so it’s hard to make yourself do it. It works better to have the money you wish to save drawn automatically from your account each month, so it never really feels like it’s yours.
To increase your spending awareness before making a non-essential purchase (basically anything other than toiletries, fuel, or basic groceries), ask yourself the following questions:
- What purpose will this serve in my life? If the item is clothing, what will I wear it with? If it’s furniture, where will it go? What will I do with this item
- Would something else be better? Do your research; make sure this is the best version of what you are considering. There might be one that fits your needs better but costs more, and you might choose to delay your purchase and save up for that, rather than get something less useful today.
- Can I afford it NOW? Be honest about where you are financially, and whether you can afford the prospective purchase in your present circumstances. If not, buy it later when you have more money. The “now or never” idea is frequently just a lie we tell ourselves to justify overspending.
- Am I comfortable with the amount of my earnings/work time this item will cost me? Look at your after-tax hourly rate of earnings, and ask yourself how you feel about having to work that number of hours to pay for a thing you want. Considering the number of actual hours you’d have to work to earn the money to pay for something may make you pause before spending!
- Do I really want this, or I am just afraid of missing out? Again, just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you “should” buy it. Trust me…there are always future buying opportunities, so wait for the right time.
- Do I feel good about this purchase? Does the world need another one of these? If you happen to be an environmentalist like me, think about the fact that almost anything you buy won’t biodegrade during your lifetime. Do you think the planet needs another new CD, or could a used one or MP3 fill the bill just as well? Check in with your feelings and intuition to guide your decision to buy something or not.
If you have particular trouble with emotional spending, call me to schedule my “prosperity session.” Through it, I’ve helped many clients with financial issues, and everyone seems to love this special, focused process.
Love yourself enough to do the work of change—you heal much more than your bank account when you attend to the most important thing: your relationship with yourself.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024
Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 11-03-2016
Diets don’t work. By now, it’s likely this is not news to you…you’ve heard it before or learned it from your own experience. In fact, if you’re an “average American woman,” you’ve learned it many, many times! Probably no one has told you why, though. Well, there are lots of reasons, but here are a few of the big ones:
1. Humans do not like the word “no”. If you told your inner child right now that you could never have cookies again, that news would likely be met with cookies being the only thing you think about until you lose your mind and give in. It goes against our nature to tell ourselves that this thing we love—this highly addictive thing, by the way—is now in the “no/never, ever” category, especially if the consequences of eating it are not immediate and painful. You can’t trick your mind by calling something “poison,” when it knows a cookie won’t kill you, at least not right away.
2. When you think about reducing your food intake, the innate fear of feeling hungry is triggered. Have you noticed that when you even simply contemplate going on a diet, you find yourself binging? Hunger is a terrible feeling, one that people have and do kill over, literally. Our natural survival instinct makes the feeling of hunger very unpleasant. And it works! Don’t fight nature…if you are hungry, eat (but wisely).
3. Almost all eating is emotional. Most people have no idea how much of their eating is emotional. Technically, a human could survive on a good, plant-based protein shake and maybe some vitamin/mineral supplements, but that is just not fun. We would rather have hearty soup, warm tea, and crunchy popcorn. The reason is not so much because those things are good for us, as some are, but because we associate them with beautiful memories. Remember having tea with our mothers, or that delectable soup grandma used to make, or hot, buttered popcorn with a good movie? Even if we aren’t conscious of these associations, the memories are still there. If you crave happiness or feeling loved, your need is easily redirected to foods that have been tied to this emotion in the past, which often includes candy, cake, and alcohol!
4. Dieting goes against the basic habit model. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has done a lot of research on the issue of habits, coming up with a model of how they are formed. This model, which seems pretty accurate, describes the following:
The Habit: For the sake of this discussion, we’ll use eating/overeating.
Trigger: What causes or brings on the behavior. For eating, it could be difficult emotions, or physical pain, or simply seeing your favorite food on the table in your employer’s break room.
Reward: Release from care, that “warm, fuzzy feeling” or pleasurable oblivion.
For example, a typical trigger might be your boss yelling at you and making you feel bad. You go to your drug of choice—food—to feel better, and for about five minutes you are off in the oblivion of food gratification. Almost instantly, however, you are remorseful about eating that Snickers bar.
If Diets Don’t Work, What Does?
New mindset. We have to change our attitude toward eating healthily, making it a “lifestyle” and not a diet. We must learn to make better choices not so much to lose weight as because this is part of who we are.
Substitution. We also know from AA that expecting to get rid of all triggers is a losing battle. To switch to a healthier behavior, though, we need some level of immediate payoff from the new habit. As far as eating, your best bet is to replace the unhealthy comfort foods with more nutritious options. I tell people to take all the “fun” foods they love, and come up with a healthy alternative, e.g. raisins instead of M&M’s, a fruit bowl rather than ice cream, and baby carrots instead of chips.
Work on your body intuition. Practice listening to your body more, e.g. when it is hungry and what it seems to be craving. When you start paying closer attention, your body will tell you what it does and does not want to be fed.
Be nice to your inner child. Lastly, allow yourself what I call “breaks” from your normal healthy eating routine—let yourself have the donuts you are craving, or treat yourself to a weekly dinner at your favorite restaurant. Think about it…you wouldn’t drive from Los Angeles to New York without a break, so why expect yourself to never enjoy something yummy that you know isn’t good for you, but is fun?
To succeed in eating better, work with your natural ways of doing things instead of against them. Changing and healing involve work, and shifting bad habits is not always easy, but the rewards of increased love and self-respect that come from a healthier lifestyle are worth every ounce of effort you put in.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
– Henry David Thoreau
As a practicing hypnotherapist, I am constantly seeing new clients, many of whom have never been hypnotized before. Often I’m asked, “Do you ever turn anyone away?” The answer to that is most definitely “yes.” In fact, I tell all prospective clients to try one session first before committing to a treatment series. That way, we can make sure we work well together so the client will get the most benefit from therapy.
One time, a gentleman called to schedule an appointment, but pretty quickly let me know that he had already been to another hypnotherapist, and never wanted to go back because “all she wanted to talk about was what happened to me when I was six!” I asked him what he was coming to me for help with, and he replied, “Confidence and weight loss.”
Of course, my next question was what had happened when he was six, and he told me he had been raped. Wow! That is a big deal, and it would certainly cause major issues, including those he was seeking help with.
“I am not the slightest bit interested in talking about any of my past,” he went on to say. “I am a sales rep, but I am not reaching my goal numbers. All I want to talk about is the future—why I keep sabotaging my success, and why I can’t lose weight.” It was very apparent to me that the reason for his problems was related to what had happened to him at age six, and I mentally commended his previous hypnotherapist for bringing it up.
However, I realized from his words that this person was not ready to look at what was almost certainly the root cause of LOTS of problems in his life besides his sales numbers…among other things, this likely included all his relationships. Unfortunately, I also knew he wasn’t my client because, as I told him, “I, too, would want to do some emotional clearing work on your childhood trauma, and I suggest working with a psychotherapist instead of just masking the symptoms of your root issue by getting affirmations from me to increase your sales success. You and I working together may not be a match.” Then I referred him to a good psychotherapist I know.
Traumas cause scars, and their roots can be deep. When you do the much harder work of looking at those real issues, you heal problems you might not have even known existed. When I first tried hypnotherapy myself, it was to resolve my fear of dogs, which I thought had been caused by a dog bite incident when I was a kid. I went through the somewhat emotional process of remembering what had happened when I was bitten, in detail. It turned out I had forgotten part of it: while still bleeding from the bite, I had been slapped across the face and knocked to the ground by my dad because I had been told not to go near the dog and had disobeyed. I left that hypnotherapist’s office no longer scared of dogs, but later in the day something strange happened. My dad called, and I discovered that I didn’t have that anxious, fearful feeling in my stomach I usually experienced when I heard his voice. I hadn’t noticed I was afraid of my dad until those feelings were no longer there—only then could I see it! My mind had lumped my fear of dogs and fear of my dad together, so healing one healed the other.
Since then, I have been able to create a happy, loving relationship with my father for the first time in my life, and this is a direct result of working on the ROOT of my fear of dogs rather than staying on the surface.
One of my techniques is regressive hypnotherapy, which involves looking at the core causes of your issues to promote healing from the inside out. Sometimes, although not always, this kind of work can be emotional, as well as more difficult and time-intensive. It pays off, though, in infinitely more powerful healing than what is achieved through only addressing the apparent symptoms. This hugely more satisfying result is what I wish for all of you.
Once you’re willing to hack away at the root causes of your issues, you will be amazed at how many branches grew from it. This is the point where healing starts to feel like a true miracle, transforming you and your life.
Knowing this, do you love yourself enough to uncover the deeper reasons for your pain, and start the amazing journey to your truest and healthiest self?
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024
Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 10-06-2016
Among the personal growth community, conventional wisdom used to be that “fear of failure” holds people back from growing. Later, the collective thinking shifted to “fear of success.” But my mentor Michele Meiche has another thought: “It’s actually fear of stepping beyond the family norms and becoming an outsider…that’s what really gets you!” My vote goes to Michele’s theory on this…
Over the years in my practice, I have seen the same scenario played out a hundred different ways with just as many clients. When people stray outside the social, religious, or financial family belief system—and particularly for women, reject typical female roles such as wife and homemaker in favor of doing something “crazy” like start a business—fear and doubt scare many away from pursuing their unique goals.
Anxiety about family disapproval even comes up with my weight loss clients. Imagine how uncomfortable you might feel being the only healthy person in a family whose lifestyle is built around overeating? Who would support you in eating to live rather than living to eat? Or how about being the first one in the family who aspires to go off to college? If no one else in the house has done this, there’s no one to show you how to get the process started and what to expect. Sadly, jealousy from your relatives may even result in their discouraging you to move forward.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a client who was the first in her family to go to college. She told me this probably wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for her best friend’s mom persuading her to go with her daughter to all those SAT prep classes, and helping her fill out the applications and scholarship forms right alongside her own daughter. “There was no one in my family pushing me to do that because they had no idea how the process worked,” my client revealed. “They just kept complaining about the money and it being a waste of time. My best friend’s mom expected her to go to college…it wasn’t an option. In my family, no one expected much from me, so I had no support from them.” In this young woman’s case, open hostility even surfaced when she was told, “A high school education was good enough for your father, and it’s good enough for you!”
When we go against the expectations of our family, we risk one of the worst kinds of rejection—ostracism from the people we may rely upon, or to whom we feel the closest and most connected. This is a deep and terrifying pain, and many avoid it by holding themselves back so they won’t upset the family or “make dad mad at me.” This core issue is so significant that even clients I’ve worked with who were given up for adoption, feel rejected by the parents they never knew. They still cling to this attitude, even when they are aware their birth parent gave them up in a sprit of love, wanting them to have a better life than they themselves could provide. The conflict we experience when we make choices that challenge our family’s values is especially difficult to overcome because these feelings often lurk in the unconscious mind, and we may not even be aware of them.
Nevertheless, living your life fully is your birthright! Find a mentor, as you will likely need one, do your own research, and know that following your dream will be one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, things you will ever do. Trust the process, ride out the resistance and self-doubt, but don’t let your “mom’s hurt feelings” block you from reaching for the most amazing life possible. Don’t forget, too, that you will find new friends who will encourage you along the way as you pursue your heart’s desire.
Love and believe in yourself enough to make your own choices, even if that means risking disapproval from those closest to you.
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
187 Calle Magdalena #209
Encinitas, CA 92024
Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 08-02-2016
I remember once being so angry at a boyfriend for something he’d done that I wanted to skip the break-up and get right down to taking him off the planet! My friend Jackleen, a very intuitive person and the voice of reason in my life, commented, “You know, what David did really wasn’t that bad. I’ll bet this is about something that happened a long time ago, involving a different person.” After stewing a bit, I realized she was probably right. I reluctantly drew in my claws. The problem was, now I had to take a deeper look at why I was so mad, and more importantly, WHO it was that had triggered my anger. David had been a jerk, too, but even though it looked like he was to blame, he really only deserved about 5% of the fury and pain I wanted to fling at him.
That’s how the anger beast works most of the time. When you are really mad to the point of raging (you know what I am talking about!), and it’s clear the target of your feelings didn’t do anything to deserve that level of reaction, you can figure this is about someone or something else that hurt you in a similar way in the past. Since that person or situation is long gone, however, you explode at the one in front of you now.
This is not to say that the person you’re dealing with now didn’t do anything wrong, so don’t make the mistake of dismissing your feelings and letting the other completely off the hook for unacceptable actions. Some women, with excessive guilt about overreacting, apologize for getting upset about completely out-of-line actions on another person’s part, or worse, completely discount that they had any reason to be upset! Obviously, this isn’t a healthy way to handle conflict either, and the answer lies somewhere between inflicting corporal punishment on someone and being a doormat.
So…what should you do when the monster jumps out?
Experiencing that intense, terrible, fury – the type that makes you feel a bit out of control – is your first clue that something else is being triggered. There are few in-the-present things people do to you that warrant such extreme rage, so chances are that some older hurt is being activated.
Next, force yourself to do the nearly impossible…WALK AWAY!! Actually, walk away quickly, and if you are armed in any way, run—before you do irreparable damage to the relationship. I know how hard this is, but you have to do it.
Go and take a few moments, hours, or even days if necessary, to get calm. Nothing needs to be handled immediately, and you won’t lose anything by taking a breather. Always handle your instinctual emotional response first.
There are a couple effective ways you can become more cool, calm, and collected. While in a quiet state (or as quiet as you can get), ask yourself when this situation, or something similar, has happened in your past. Then, look at the initial event—what occurred, who was involved, and how it was similar to what is happening now. After this, journal like crazy about how you felt at the time.
Once you’ve done this bit of work and you are capable of having a composed and rational conversation, i.e., one that does not involve the f-word, go and talk about it with the person involved or with some other, trusted confidante.
I once had a client come to me after discovering that her husband had been cheating. She hadn’t confronted him yet because she was afraid she would explode. I told her to journal about her feelings. She came back two weeks later with a journal completely filled with one phrase: “F*** you, John.” No joke, she must have written this over 100,000 times! I wouldn’t have believed it was possible if I hadn’t seen it myself. Once my client did this, though, she said she felt a lot better, and she and her husband were able to have a calm talk before scheduling an appointment for marriage counseling for the two of them, as well as one with her lawyer just for her.
If you don’t like to journal, bring the anger to your conscious awareness, and then purposefully direct that energy to some form of exercise, like running or weight training.
Remember, “E-motion” is just energy in motion. Don’t make the mistake of stuffing it down, because this simply doesn’t work and will actually make things worse. The forceful energy of anger needs to be channeled in a healthy direction, or it will default to an unhealthy one.
In the case of my own fury with that old boyfriend David, I spent an afternoon throwing rocks in the ocean until I wore myself out. I couldn’t move my arm the next day, but I did feel much better and ended the relationship without too much drama by saying, “I’m sorry, but that behavior just doesn’t work for me, so this is where we will have to part ways. I wish you the best.” This was a long way from where I had been just 24 hours before!
I know dealing with anger effectively is hard, and it does take practice. Trust me, you will likely fail at this a few times before you get it right, but working on it until it’s a habit is the best thing you can do for your relationships. All of them.
Don’t let the next person who hurts you take the fall for historic injuries you haven’t put to rest. This is unfair to them and multiplies your pain. Put in the effort to heal from past anger beasts so that your relationships are more loving, workable, and based in the present—after all, right now is our only true reality.
Jill Thomas CCHT
Healthy Habits Hypnosis
Posted by healthyhabi | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-21-2016
As some of you know, I’ve been a certified, practicing hypnotherapist for about ten years now. In that span of time—after talking to hundreds of clients about issues in their personal relationships—I feel a bit more qualified than most to share some general observations about human behavior in this area. Many of these common threads among my clients have surprised me, and maybe you, too. Or not. Anyway, here they are:
1. DIVORCE – Among couples who have divorced, a great number of men expressed regret. Quite a few times, I’ve heard things like, “My next marriage was so much worse than my first one!” “I should have worked harder on that first marriage,” or “The grass is definitely not always greener.”
By contrast, a lot of divorced women have said they wished they had gotten divorced much sooner than they did, and from them I hear things such as, “I can’t believe I waited so long for the freedom and fun I am having now!” and “We should have broken up a long time ago.”
As far as the children of divorced couples, nobody is happy about their parents getting divorced. However, I hear far more adults express shock and perplexity about why their parents “who clearly hate each other” are still together, than tell me they wish their parents hadn’t gotten a divorce. This last comment is actually quite rare.
2. CHEATING – From what my clients have confided, it appears that women cheat just as much as men, but are better at covering their tracks. The men almost always get caught, whereas the women seem to get away with it more often.
I can’t say why, but the ugliest cheating stories I’ve ever heard have come from exceptionally attractive women. Many former models have told me awful stories of men cheating “all over town” with their friends, sisters, and even prostitutes. At the same time, many plain-looking women tell me they are in happy relationships with devoted partners.
Even though we have been programmed to think that women who look better, keep their weight down, and get “enhancement” surgeries have happier lives, this is apparently not the case. Perhaps what women can take from this is that instead of worrying so much about those few extra pounds, focus more on choosing a better match.
3. MONEY – It is much more common – about four times as often, actually – that people tell me they’re staying in an unhappy relationship for money, as opposed to staying for the sake of the children. I hear both of these reasons fairly often, though.
4. BLAMING – Sadly, men come in complaining about having the same exact relationship issues with the last five women they’ve been with, and yet they still place the blame on the ex-partner: “There just aren’t any women out there who don’t have this problem!” They fail to realize that the one common factor in all those failed relationships is—them. By contrast, a woman is more likely to come in after several relationship failures and say, “It’s all my problem! Can you help fix me so I don’t choose this same kind of guy again?” This attitude shows more self-responsibility, but it’s likely that both men and women who repeatedly have unsuccessful relationships need to do some family-of-origin (issues with mom and dad) healing work.
5. ALTERNATIVE SEXUAL PRACTICES – I had always thought people with alternative sexual lifestyles – like swingers, polyamorists, or sex club participants – must have a lot of intense relationship problems that cause this behavior or result from it. Some do, I am sure, but after working with many of these people over the years, they seem to have the same frequency of relationship problems as everyone else, and actually tend to be more comfortable talking about the conflicts. In fact, from what I’ve observed, besides their sex lives, they are basically pretty ordinary people with normal occupations and the same issues as everyone else, just brought up in a sometimes different context.
With the exception of military personnel, I almost never hear a man admit to hiring a prostitute. When I have, it’s usually been described as an interaction similar to buying a hamburger at Wendy’s—a business exchange only. Also, the women with the men who’d hired prostitutes expressed more upset about this than the women whose partners had had an affair with a coworker. I found this odd, because to me, the coworker affair seems like a worse violation.
6. WHAT WE WANT – Men universally express a desire for more sex in their relationships. In spite of the legions of women (not that I am complaining about the business!) who want me to help them lose weight so that their husbands will find them more attractive, I almost never hear a guy say he wishes his partner would slim down.
Women tell me over and over again that they want their men to put more effort into planning the time they spend together. A woman wants her date to say, “I’m picking you up at 7 – wear something dressy,” rather than, “Where do you want to go tonight?”
Okay…hopefully, now you’re ready and armed with some new information to tackle the relationship game. Because let’s face it, any advantage in this area is more than welcome!