Holding Time – Part 3

Holding Time for Vacillators

Since a vacillator longs for connection you might think they would be excited about holding time. Since Vacillators want connection without being vulnerable it can feel like a risky proposition. What if I like it and my spouse never offers again? What if I feel too exposed? Asking directly for what they want or need is very difficult for the Vacillator. Some Vacillators may be too mad at their spouse to offer or accept a holding time.

We find Vacillators often express anger and are unaware of the anxiety and more vulnerable feelings under the anger. Vacillators must learn to find soul words on the feelings words list and ask for a holding time before the anger erupts. Often the anxiety is about something the Vacillator is ruminating on so be aware of preoccupied states and ask for help with the anxiety. This is a key to the Vacillator’s growth.

Vacillators like to feel needed and if they are not angry at their spouse they can hold their spouse quite comfortably. The Vacillator’s tendency to be in an “all good” or “all bad” mood or state of mind can make the Vacillator unpredictable in their willingness to give to their spouse. Vacillators can find more middle ground if they are willing to give or receive a holding time, when they aren’t “in the mood”.

Holding time for Controllers and Victims

Chaotic attachment and childhood trauma go hand in hand. This group usually had lots of difficult experiences and little to no comfort when they were kids. Tenderness can bring buried pain to the surface so these folks may unconsciously avoid comfort. Gentle, empathetic touch and kindness may make the Controller or Victim very uncomfortable. Their tears are deeply buried and holding time can bring them to the surface. It’s difficult to look back at painful memories but buried trauma is carried in the body and it takes a lot of effort to hold inside. Grief and comfort help heal these painful memories and free the body to be fully alive and relaxed in the present moment.

For women or men who were trapped as kids or sexually abused, holding can sometimes be a trigger. It’s important to discuss any negative feelings that arise during a holding time as these reactions can be reminders of childhood trauma.

It takes a level of safety to engage in holding and if there is physical or emotional abuse in the current relationship, it isn’t safe. Holding is a vulnerable giving of oneself into the arms of another. In some cases the regulation of emotions and the ability to have a calm conversation needs to be the first goal.

In the next few weeks we will give you some specific ideas for holding times. Write to us and let us know if you try these exercises. We would love your feedback.

Special Announcement
We are pleased to announce that the audio version of the How We Love book is now available at christianaudio.com!

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

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!

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

New Love Style Audio Lectures Now Available!

We are excited to announce that the New Updated 2013 Love Style Audio Lectures are now available in both CD and audio download format.

Hear Milan and Kay discuss each Love Style in depth as well as how each style presents in relationships. Milan and Kay also go over growth goals and strategies for each love style to move toward being more securely connected.

For a limited time these CDs and downloads are available on howwelove.com for a reduced price. Don’t miss out!!

We thank you for your support and continue to pray for all of you on your journey toward healthy relationships.

Blessings!

Tips for 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.

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

Tips to Survive Holiday Struggles!

Hi,

We have decided to do something new an different for these last two weeks leading up to Christmas. Starting next Monday 12/17, we will send out a daily Tweet giving one of the Love Styles a practical tip to help with the relational struggles that can be associated with the Holidays.  SO… if you want to get these practical tips you will need to follow us on Twitter.  Our Twitter User ID is @MilanandKay.  You can also view all of the tips on our Facebook page How We Love. Let us know if these tips help you to navigate the Holidays in a more securely connected way!

Monday – Avoiders

Tuesday – Pleasers

Wednesday – Vacillators

Thursday – Victims

Friday – Controllers

We are also excited to announce that our Focus on the Family Broadcast, “Deepening the Connection with your Spouse” made the best of 2012 series.  Therefore, it will be reairing on Focus on the Family on December 17 & 18th.  Live streaming audio will be available on FocusontheFamily.com/radio on those dates.

 

 

Traits of a Secure Connector

Traits of a Secure Connector:

I am not afraid of conflict because I have skills to discuss, compromise and most often resolve conflict.

What was conflict like in your home growing up?  Loud?  Chaotic? A free-for-all?  Non-existent?   Did you observe repairs after something went wrong?  Conflict is a part of life and the Bible is full of many examples of relational struggles.  Conflict is not scary for someone who grew up in a home where conflict was acknowledged, talked through and most often resolved.  What skills do we need to resolve conflict?

Honesty:  Milan and I spent the first 15 years avoiding conflict and we had to be less than truthful to do this.  Avoiders don’t like the messy emotions that come with conflict and pleasers are afraid of anger and separation so often in these homes conflict is minimized, ignored or spiritualized away. (I’ll just forgive; turn the other cheek, etc.)    The bible says speak the truth in love.  (Eph. 4)  Sometimes the truth hurts.  At times it’s frightening to be honest.   It’s a risk.  But nothing will change and growth will be at a stalemate in our most important relationships if we are not honest.

Control over Reactivity

We can’t listen if we are reactive.  Reactivity means we are quick to respond to stress with fight, flight or freeze and in any of these states our ability to manage our emotions is compromised.  How does reactivity block our ability to handle conflict?  Reactivity blocks reason!!  When you are reactive, you cannot listen.  You cannot separate the past from the present.  You cannot say things in a loving way.  You cannot entertain another’s point of view or differing perspective.  To resolve conflict we must learn to respond, not react.   Let’s look at the common things that make each of the love styles over react.

Avoiders:

Avoiders get reactive when someone is emotional and needy. They flee.   Crying kids, a weeping spouse, or emotional upheavals cause avoiders to react. A person who is “needy” and asks for “too much” also irritates avoiders.  Introverted avoiders may withdraw and detach while extroverted avoiders may use anger and annoyance to make emotions stop.  Somewhere in their past avoiders learned it was not safe to feel and need so they learned to be independent and self-sufficient.  They don’t know what to do with emotions, so they overreact.  Avoiders stop overreacting when they allow themselves to feel and need once again. Handling conflict means learning to be comfortable with  and manage difficult emotions.

Pleasers:

Pleasers are good news junkies.  Conflict is to be avoided.  Anger makes the pleaser freeze. They overreact to bad news, negative feelings and stressful circumstances with alarm….make it stop!  Pleasers don’t look on the surface like they are overreacting, but if we could see all that goes on under the surface it would be obvious.  When pleasers cannot make it all OK they get anxious, frantic and uneasy.  They go into hyper drive to find a solution so they can calm down. Somewhere in their past, pleasers learned that anger and criticism were too painful to endure and must be avoided.  Or, they absorbed the fear of their parent and feel life is scary and they must protect those they love from anything negative.   Pleasers stop overreacting when they deal with the fear and anxiety that drives their lives.  Learning to tolerate anger, ask hard questions, and process difficult feelings helps them respond rather than react.

Vacillators:

Vacillators overreact (fight response to stress) when they are disappointed, have to wait, or feel abandoned or invisible.  Since they are looking for the consistent connection they missed as kids, when they don’t get it they feel unloved and marginalized.  This anxiety around abandonment is so miserable anger and blame stop the anxiety and shame of wanting and not having.

A vacillator’s overreaction is easy to see.  They get angry and are not afraid to let you know how they feel.  Introverted vacillators may be quiet and sulk, but everyone in the family knows they are mad and upset. Let’s not give the vacillator the bad rap.  The avoiders fleeing and the pleasers freezing may look “nicer” but in reality they are just as destructive to honest, calm, communication.

Vacillators stop overreacting when they learn to accept the good and the bad together instead of idealizing and then devaluing.  Overreactions happen at the point where shame shifts to anger and the devaluing then justifies the anger.  Learning to take this private experience of shame and anxiety into relationship rather than move to anger and devaluation helps stop the cycle.      Asking directly for what they want, rather than hoping others mind read, also helps.  Learning to manage this cycle opens the vacillator to be able to listen and share without getting derailed.

Controllers:

Controllers overreact to just about everything because they convert every vulnerable feeling into anger.  They control so they don’t have to feel the painful vulnerable emotions of childhood….terror, shame, humiliation, inadequacy, powerlessness, hopelessness and confusion to name a few.  As long as they keep control of people and circumstances, these painful feelings can be kept at arm’s length.   Facing their childhood pain and learning to accept comfort takes away the need for so much anger and control.  Less anger….less reactivity. Less reactivity gives the ability to listen and resolve.

Victims:

Victims overreact to anger and intimidation.  It’s easy for them to feel the frozen terror they felt as kids.  It’s difficult to remain an adult if one is paralyzed by fear and terror. The victims freezing can move beyond the pleasers panic to dissociation.  It appears that a victim under reacts, but it’s important to remember that victims learned to tolerate the intolerable as kids.  It’s hard to recognize, as an adult, what is normal and what is not normal. Victims have to learn the importance of safety to blossom and grow.  They need to discover the importance of boundaries and exercise their “no” muscle so they have a voice.  Victims can also overreact and dump all the stored up anger onto kids when the scary partner is not home.  Unresolved grief and anger is the fuel for these overreactions.  Facing the past and working though unresolved trauma is so important for both victims and controllers.

Working on recognizing our harmful love style and growing toward a secure connector means we are learning to control our knee jerk reaction to fight, flee or freeze.  When conflict is really resolved we experience a moment of intimacy.  We listened.  We were listened too.  Connection is restored.

Thanks for listening!

The Secure Connector: #14 in a series.

Trait:  I have experienced the connection and closeness that results when a conflict is resolved.

I was at a wedding recently when a mom approached me with her 4 year old in tow. “Jenni, this is Mr. Milan and he is the one who taught daddy and me about rupture and repair.” Jenni’s mouth fell open as she looked up at me and smiled.  As she began to speak, amidst giggles and wide eyes, her chewing gum fell out of her mouth.  She caught it just before it hit the ground and as she stuck it back into her mouth, she said, “I just had a rupture and repair with my gum.  It fell out and put it back in!”

Conflicts and ruptures in relationships are inevitable.  What most people don’t do well however, is repair the ruptures.   With unresolved conflicts, resentment accumulates like debits in a checking account.   Without positive deposits, the account runs dry.  This pattern, carried over time causes a slow relational erosion and bonding decreases until two people eventually become distrusting strangers.

None of the broken attachment styles are able to successfully do repairs after ruptures:

  • Avoiders avoid all negative feelings and emotions in themselves and others and when pressed, they become angry and push people away.
  • Pleasers are so happy to see everyone smiling again, they won’t risk bring up the problem.
  • Vacillators will vent, explode and go all bad.   They will warm back up in a few days after they have sufficiently punished everyone and obsessed over their hurts.   Friends and family are so happy there is a thaw, they wouldn’t even think about bringing up the things that created the rupture.
  • Controllers explode and there is no hope of repair.  They are just happy with compliance from those around them.
  • Victims are just happy the storm is over.

Evidently, observing Jenni’s positive reaction toward me, repair is a good thing.  She looked happy.  Secure connection and closeness is not achieved by finding a soul mate with whom we never have conflict.  Rather, security is achieved when we do the hard work of the “comfort circle” (How We Love, 2006).  Not only can a mom and dad learn it, they become better parents in the process and provide day to day resolution for their children.  Honest confrontation about the ruptures when accompanied by successful resolution creates an ever growing connection and closeness which makes us all giggle, smile and maybe even loose our chewing gum.

Announcements:

  1. If you know anyone who needs a job, I highly recommend Get Noticed And Get Hired by Steve Matter.  You can order his book at Amazon.com and you can also find further information at his web site: www.getnoticedandgethired.com
  2. Call for silent auction items:   Our non-profit organization is having our annual fundraiser on November 3rd to raise funds to help pastors and Christian leaders receive marital counseling who would otherwise be unable to pay for counseling.  Items desired, golf packages, weekend retreats, spa packages, vacation time shares and other items that would be attractive to a guest at the banquet. If you would like to know more about our 501 (C ) 3 corporation, you can visit www.relationship180.com.  Thanks for considering my request.
  3. If you would like to sponsor and host a table at the event for $900.00 or become a corporate or individual sponsor @ $1,000 – $5,000, please let me know.

 

Thanks for listening.

Love you,

Milan