Holding Times – Part 2

Why Holding is Difficult for Avoiders and Pleasers?

Avoiders find holding time awkward as they most often grew up with parents who showed minimal to no affection and offered little comfort. If coached, they may be willing to try and hold their spouse, but certainly would not ask for a holding in return. One avoider husband I know held his wife as she shared some painful memories. She cried a lot and all those emotions were a bit overwhelming for him, but he is trying to grow and he did a good job. When she later asked to hold him he said, “I don’t dwell on pain, I just move on.” Now being an avoider myself, I understand this thinking. We worked hard to not feel pain, so why dig it up? There are three compelling reasons.

First, if we are going to be transformed into the image of Christ, we need to be able to feel. (See last week’s blog).
Second, holding gives an opportunity to receive what was missed as a kid. Nurture. Comfort. Being heard. Being known. Avoiders have no idea that nurturing can relieve stress. They have to experience comfort in order to value it. Third, avoiders end up resentful because they are always being asked to give something, but need little to nothing in return. I cannot tell you how often I hear from the spouses of avoiders, “He or she does not need me.” Avoiders need to learn to receive. There is no better way than to allow your spouse to hold you.

Holding Time for Pleasers:

Pleasers are givers not receivers. Of all the types, they have to give to soothe their own anxiety about others being unhappy or distressed. They are hyper attuned to the needs of others; a skill they learned in childhood. By the time marriage occurs, they have had years of practice in the giving, caretaking role. As a result, they never ask for much and are absolutely terrible receivers. They are so unaware of their own feelings and needs that it does not occur to them to ask for comfort when they are stressed.

Now most of you know that Milan is a pleaser and I am an avoider. So, how easy do you think it was for us to learn to do holding times? The answer should be obvious. It was difficult.
Neither of us wanted to be vulnerable, but we knew it was an important skill we were missing in our marriage and parenting.
So, we kept at it. Over time it got easier, safer and we felt more competent.

What did we do when strong emotions of grief emerged during a holding? We agreed that holding time was not a time to fix or problem solve. The goal was to learn to be together, listen, validate and comfort. If your spouse feels an emotion, say what you see. “I see this makes you tearful and sad.” “I see your eyes welling up with tears.” Give permission: “I’m glad you are sharing those feelings with me.” “This is a safe place for you to feel.” “It makes me feel needed and special when you are vulnerable with me.”

I wish we could describe the results and the blessings of giving one another comfort. It has been more than worth every awkward moment. As we get older, we find life brings more loss. We have a safe place to feel the sadness and process the grief. We have healed many of our childhood wounds as we have comforted one another through painful memories.

Next week we will look at Vacillators and Chaotic love styles and holding time. So, how’s it going for you? Have you tried it? Let us know how it goes. You have to make yourself uncomfortable in order to grow.

Blessings!

Common Problems for Each of the Love Styles in Therapy

Common Problems for Each of the Love Styles in Therapy

Each of the love style responds in predictable ways to therapy. Here are some of the issues we see over and over. Therapists need to understand and be able to navigate these common issues.

Avoiders: Avoiders don’t see any problem with their past. They often have vague memories and say, “It was fine.” They may be annoyed when asked to identify feelings. When asked to explore emotions or try something uncomfortable, avoiders do better if given logical explanations as to the goals and methods for making progress and are reminded of the big picture routinely. Avoiders hate feeling inadequate (which they will feel a lot in therapy) and need reminders of what they missed as kids and how that is related to their current struggles.

Pleasers: Try to be the best client ever and have difficulty disagreeing with the therapist. Pleasers need to work on boundaries and speaking their mind, even with their therapist. As with everyone, pleasers want to make their therapist happy. They often keep an eye on their mate and monitor their reaction to anything they are saying to make sure they aren’t going to be in trouble with their spouse when the session is over. Speaking the truth and being honest even if it makes someone mad is an important step of growth.

Vacillators: Vacillators tend to idealize a therapist at first believing they are the answer to their problems. Their agenda is, “Fix my spouse, they are the problem.” Vacillators easily feel misunderstood and want to tell the therapist detailed stories to prove their point. This can take up the full hour. If the therapist doesn’t direct the session, the vacillator will! Vacillators feel deeply rejected and misunderstood when confronted by the therapist about their part in relational struggles. When challenged, vacillators quickly feel “all bad” and are filled with shame. This is a miserable feeling that makes them feel flawed and unwanted. They get rid of this feeling by getting angry and making others “all bad”. Accepting feedback and sticking with the process is important for the vacillator. Over time the vacillator often makes the therapist “all bad” when the counselor doesn’t see things the vacillator’s way. They tend to leave therapy in a huff and may try to find another therapist who will see only their point of view.

Controllers: Controllers often challenge the therapist authority feeling threatened by giving anyone else any kind of power. They may intimidate and test the therapist boundaries. I connect with controllers by helping them understand how the painful childhood experiences are at the root of the current anger they feel. Getting to the grief will be the most important challenge for the controller. Both men and women who are controllers are some of the most sensitive people under all that anger and intimidation. This trait just got obliterated in their childhood as it was not safe to be sensitive.

Victims: Victims are so use to living without hope they don’t often expect much from therapy. They need lots of encouragement that small changes can make a big difference. Of course, safety is the first concern. If the couple is a controller victim duo, the therapist should meet privately with the victim to check for physical or emotional abuse. The victim needs to learn to stand up to the controller, but may be in danger doing so. Safely is of foremost importance when working with a victim.

We will be in Pittsburgh this weekend! Hope to see some of you there!

Blessings,
Kay

“It’s OK to not be OK.” – #3

“It’s OK to not be OK.”

As we continue in our journey of learning to be OK when others are not OK, let’s take a closer look at Sandy. Specifically, why she became so reactive and what she and
Bill can do differently next time so there is less relational damage.

While Sandy may have never connected the dots in her own mind, the reactivity she exhibited at Bill’s withdrawal had been a reactive pattern in her life for a long time. It is likely that this panicky response is all she’s never known… so to her it’s normal. Remember the book title from some time ago; “Normal” is a setting on your dryer!” Her reaction, while common, is not within an acceptable range that promotes healthy relationships.

Simply stated, Sandy became triggered as Bill “separated” from her. Separation sensitivity is common to Pleasers and Vacillators who are proximity seekers. With abandonment or intermittent connection in their early childhoods, they long for adult relationships to be consistently, close and predictable. Here they feel safe. If a primary attachment figure like Bill drifts away, averts their gaze or fails to give the proper attention, old fears rush to the surface and their brains become flooded with a hail storm of unpleasant emotions. When this happens, the left brain shuts down resulting in a loss of logic, lucidity and language. At this moment a frightened little child is driving the bus and a collision is inevitable.

With the right education, Sandy can begin to learn more about herself and her negative reactivity patterns which repeat themselves over and over again. When triggered, Sandy needs to become aware of what is happening within her mind, tell herself, and Bill, she is getting triggered by his withdrawal and ask him for help to regulate the impending stampede. If she is unsuccessful and displays anger (which is common when we are learning something new) Bill should say, “You look agitated and alarmed! Something must have triggered you. What do you think happened?”

When couples learn their triggers and how to manage them more healthfully, any couple can learn to be less reactive thus making it possible to be OK when others are not OK.

More next week.
Thanks for listening,
Milan

Holiday Tips

Here is a great reminder from a blog Kay wrote last year on how to handle the Holidays!

Here is a good rule when you are going to be around difficult relatives. Predict what will happen. You know them well. Talk with your spouse or kids (if they are old enough) about what you predict. Then have a sense of humor when it happens. Give someone in your family a thumbs up….”see, there it was…my prediction just came true. The goal? You know you are an adult around your family and relatives if when you leave you are not disappointed, angry, or hurt. After all what did you expect?

Avoider: Learn to feel…black and white to color. Jesus came to earth because he feels love and desire. Ask Him to wake you up this holiday season to the importance of relationships. That’s what the coming of our savior was all about; winning our hearts and meeting our deepest need. It wasn’t about tasks as much as expressing love. Frozen, tundra heart of the avoider waits to be unthawed. It stings to unthaw a frost bit hand. Ask Jesus to melts the ice until you are free to live in the color of emotion and accept your needs as important and worth meeting.

Pleaser: Pleaser season giving giving, giving. Stop. Quiet. Look .listen. What can you receive? Ask for help. Sit with people and talk instead of cleaning or doing dishes. The holidays mean we are around relatives who might hurt us with insensitive words. Maybe someone in our own family won’t appreciate all the work and effort you have made. Jesus proved hurt and rejection aren’t deadly. Glorious birth, then rejection. Death before resurrection. No fear. Rejection can be transformed into resurrection.

Vacillator: No idyllic Christmas. Just real. Jesus birth was messy not ideal. Let the season be good and bad. It won’t be as good as you hope and something will go wrong. So when it does, don’t over react , go all bad and suffer. Let it roll off. Let good and bad live close together in the days ahead. Jesus came into our world a broken place and still He accepts us as broken. Learn to let yourself and those around you be imperfect and messy. It’s a part of life.

Controller: Holidays can be reminders of painful childhood times. Think about your feelings about Christmas. Are they overly idealized to make up for all you suffered as a child? Or do you just barely tolerate the holidays because of how miserable they were growing up? It’s time of a reality based redo. Try to make this Christmas something “little you” can enjoy. Remember your anger is a cover for tender feelings. Something will probably upset you so when it does, look for the vulnerable feeling when you feel angry.

Victim: Jesus tolerated the intolerable on the cross. He understands your pain. Find solace in His love. Find Jesus in the days ahead in His gift of creation. Look, see, hear, touch the wonder. You are His wonder too. He came to this earth for you because you are loveable, worthy and He rejoices when you become His child. He is a good parent and he desires you. Dwell on Romans 8.

Milan and Kay have welcomed two new grandchildren into the family in the past couple of weeks. Busy times full of love and gratitude!

We would love to have you join us in January for a local How We Love our Kids event at Grace Fellowship church. Please click on the events tab to find the event and see all of the details.

We have just introduced a new Secure Connector CD and audio download. Last year, Milan and Kay wrote a whole blog series on all of the traits of the Secure Connector and we received great feedback. They have recorded many of the thoughts and tips from that series on this new CD. All of the Love Style Lectures are on sale this month! This includes all of the individual Love Style CDs and downloads! Great stocking stuffers!!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to growing more with you in the New Year!

Pleaser-Pleaser Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change.
The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser

Pleaser-Pleaser Core Pattern

This pair takes the risk free route as much as possible and has difficulty making decisions. They may be overcommitted to activities as both have difficulty saying “No,” or including self-care as a part of their routine. Since both spouses lack boundaries, minimize problems and avoid conflict, things seem to go along quite smoothly until a crisis hits that forces the acknowledgment of painful realities. Neither is skilled at dealing with difficult emotions, or comforting, rather than reassuring. A strong, feisty child can throw this duo into a tailspin, as neither would be good at holding boundaries, and each has an aversion to dealing with strong emotions or protests from a spirited child. Teen years can be difficult on parents who are both Pleasers for the same reasons.
When there is finally a situation or event that forces difficult feelings to surface, often one spouse is ready to face reality, while the other wants to stay in the Pleaser mode. At this point, resentment can build as one person deals with more than their share of the family’s problems.

Next week will be the last week that all of the Attachment Core Pattern Therapy Packages will be on sale. Beginning in December, they will return to regular price.

Blessings!

Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change.
The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser
For the next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief description and overview of each of these Core Patterns. – See more at: www.howwelove.com

Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern

As the imprints collide, the Pleaser cannot keep up with the idealized expectation of the Vacillator. As they make mistakes, and feel irritability from the Vacillator, their anxiety returns and they become concerned with avoiding conflict. Initially, they try harder to make it work, wanting to again feel the Vacillator’s pleasure and praise. Vacillators confront and Pleasers attempt to avoid confrontation which sets up a chase scene.

The Vacillator becomes disillusioned when the initial passion begins to wane. They want their spouse to understand and want them, not just please them. The Pleaser’s anxious scurrying around makes them feel placated, rather than known and valued. This isn’t what they expected and over time the Pleaser’s efforts become annoying. The Vacillator becomes more agitated and upset, and they don’t realize Pleasers don’t know how to connect in a reciprocal way because they don’t know how to receive. Since Pleasers did not learn to have soul words growing up, and no one was asking about their heart, they cannot relate on this level.

The Pleaser tries to fix any negative emotions by doing nice things, so their spouse is happy. Moving towards the difficult feelings of others (or their own), makes them anxious because they don’t know what to do. Since the Vacillator doesn’t understand these deeper dynamics, they feel more and more unloved, and more and more disillusioned and angry.

The Pleaser keeps trying. After all, they have been pleasing for their whole life. Over time, resentment begins to build but Pleasers rarely express anger openly so it may be expressed in passive ways. They feel they are walking on eggshells and while their efforts may make the Vacillator happy for a while, it won’t be peaceful for long. If the pattern continues long enough, the Pleaser’s resentment may build to the point that they give up trying or leave their spouse. If the couple remains in this pattern for years, their marriage is often filled with bitterness and resentment.

Blessings!

Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change.
The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser

For the next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief description and overview of each of these Core Patterns. – See more at: www.howwelove.com

Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern

Over time, the Pleaser begins to feel rejected by the Avoider’s independent, self-sufficient relational style. The Avoider’s tendency to disengage and detach makes the Pleaser feel anxious about the relationship wondering, “What is wrong?” “Am I making my spouse happy?” As the Pleaser feels cut off, they pursue to close the gap and lower their own anxiety. They wonder why the Avoider doesn’t seem to want or need them as much as they used to.

The Avoider becomes annoyed when the Pleaser interprets their need for space as a personal rejection. This is baffling to the Avoider who has always been independent and self-sufficient. They began to see the Pleaser as smothering and too needy so they distance and continue to be self-sufficient as they have always been.

The irritation of the Avoider increases the Pleaser’s anxiety. Why isn’t their spouse happier? Why don’t they want to be closer? The Pleaser increases their efforts to win approval and begins to resent the fact that they give more in the relationship. This irritates the Avoider, because they were not asking for anything in the first place. And so, the dance continues. Since both the Pleaser and Avoider are adverse to conflict and difficult emotions, most problems are minimized and not addressed. Honest difficult conversations are rare in this pair.

Blessings!

Attachment Core Pattern Therapy™ CDs

Hello every one! Perhaps you’ve been wondering why there has been less blog activity over the last few months? It’s because we’ve been writing and recording new material since last winter which I am excited to introduce to you today!

When two differing attachment styles come together in a romantic relationship, things can be wonderful at first. But eventually when our emotions settle back down to reality, a destructive Core Pattern of emotional reactivity begins to develop which inhibits communication and bonding. In our book: How We Love (WaterBrook 2006), we title this section “Duets That Damage!”

Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Kay and I have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of it. Additionally, each CD includes a PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as an extensive written description and interventions for change.

The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Pleaser Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider Avoider and Pleaser Pleaser

Over the next few weeks you will be exposed to a description of each of the new products as well as their release date on our web site www.howwelove.com.

Love and thanks for your continued interest and support.

Milan

Similarities and Differences between Pleasers and Victims

Relationship 180 is pleased to announce our upcoming Professionals seminar
“Working With Couples Using Attachment Theory” with Milan and Kay Yerkovich.

Saturday, August 10, 2013 9 AM to 4 PM
Mount of Olives Lutheran Church in Mission Viejo, CA

New material and therapist resources will be presented at the conference.

Please go to our website at www.relationship180.com for details, registration and payment.

Similarities and Differences between the Pleaser and the Victims

As kids, both Pleasers and victims try to “be good” to not stress their parents. Perhaps a parent had outbursts of anger or there was a sibling that was out of control. Perhaps one or both parents were like kids themselves and someone had to take charge. Pleasers and victims are both afraid of conflict and will go out of their way to appease, fix and calm down an agitated person. Both styles lack boundaries and have a difficult time standing up for themselves.

What’s the difference? We might think of a pleaser as a classic co- dependent. They learned to “care take” of others as kids and they stay in the care-taking role as adults. Pleasers have a difficult time giving an accurate report of their childhood experiences as they would not want to say anything bad about their parents. They see the past in an idealized way and often don’t recognize they lost parts of themselves by constantly focusing on others.

Victims on the other hand have a lot of unresolved trauma. They learned to tolerate the intolerable as kids. The parent that was supposed to protect them and comfort them was more often a source of fear or even terror. When a victim tries to describe their childhood their narrative will often be chaotic, disorganized, choppy and hard to follow. It’s as though their story is as perplexing and confusing as their childhood. It doesn’t make sense. (Researchers Ainsworth, Hesse, Main)

While both pleasers and victims have a lot of anxiety, victims endured more trauma as kids and often learned to cope by disconnecting, freezing and dissociating during fearful events. This method of coping may continue into adulthood. Numbing out is a way to forget trauma and move on (and there is a lot of pain to forget). Victims are not really feeling much about the abuse they often face as adults. A chaotic environment or abuse from an intimidating controller feels “normal” and is to be expected. As a result the cycle of abuse often continues.

Pleasers, having endured fewer traumas as kids, tend to stay more present and anxiously try to fix an agitated person. While they look at the bright side and minimizes problems pleasers would have more ability to escape from an abusive situation.

Thanks for listening – Kay

Similarities and Differences between the Avoider and Pleaser

Special announcement!

The How We Love workbook is once again available as a separate book. If you prefer to have a workbook that has room to write your answers and thoughts as you go, this may be for you. The workbook is also still available in the back of the paperback version of How We Love.

You can get the workbook at the following sites:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=how+we+love+workbook

Also, we will be in Everett, WA on 5/17-5/18-2-13

On Friday night we will present a training for leaders and counselors who are familiar with the How We Love material and are interested in learning more about leading a How We Love group. The training will be from 6-9pm at New Life Foursquare church.

On Saturday, May 18 we will present a How We Love workshop from 9-4 at New Life Foursquare church. For more details and registration information, please visit: www.newlifecenter.org/howwelove or check under our “Events” tab.

Similarities and Differences between the Avoider and Pleaser

Are you an Avoider or Pleaser?
What are the similarities between the avoider and the pleaser? Neither style likes to deal with negative messy emotions. Pleasers don’t like conflict so they avoid difficult feelings. Avoiders have no training from childhood in how to enter into emotions and deal with feelings. To the avoider, feelings are a foreign language they don’t speak. If an avoider and pleaser marry they will likely report that they rarely fight. This is because each avoids problems as problems involve difficult emotions. Pleasers and avoiders both minimize bad news as they don’t have the skills to deal with challenging emotions.
How are these two styles different? Pleasers are more empathetic than avoiders and will try and indirectly “fix” and make things better. They want to alleviate suffering and make it go away by excusing, distracting, minimizing, and looking at the “bright side.” To the pleaser love equals rescuing others from having to experience difficult emotions or consequences. This style is the classic co-dependent who needs to be needed. Pleasers view consequences as unpleasant and will have difficultly letting a family member experience the negative consequences of their actions and choices. Rather than letting others learn from mistakes, pleasers rescue people from consequences.
Unlike pleasers, avoiders lack empathy and think every mistake should have a consequence because they put such high value on responsibility. While pleasers can be too soft, avoiders can be too harsh. Having received little grace and tenderness as kids, these are foreign concepts to avoiders. Avoiders show love by being responsible and doing tasks. While pleasers “fix” difficult emotions, avoiders dismiss difficult emotions by saying things like, “Settle down,” “Stop crying, it won’t change anything,” “Forget it and move forward.”
Both of these styles need to learn to identify feelings and explain their internal experiences. Pleasers need to develop boundaries and the emotion of anger. Avoiders need to learn to take their stress to people and learn to receive empathy so they can understand the value of comfort and the relief it can bring. The avoider has difficulty understanding or valuing comfort until they allow themselves to need.
Happy Mother’s Day