“Self, Other, We.” Part 2: The Avoider

“Self, Other, We.”

Part 2: The Avoider

“Can’t you see me struggling? I do all the work of going to Costco, the least you could do is help me get these heavy boxes through the door! Are you blind? You just sit there staring at your phone. Don’t just look at me, say something!”

Carrie sat there motionless… her mind spinning and searching for something to say. All she could think of was how to get off the hot seat. No words came. She just froze and stared.

Finally, she got up and went to the car, filled her arms with groceries and made the first of three round trips. After going back outside to close the car doors, Carrie decided to get busy and wash the car. “Maybe that will make him happy” she thought.

Sound familiar? Of course! We have all encountered emotionally avoidant individuals who seemingly cannot “see” others very well. How does the Avoider love style relate to the concepts of “Self, Other, We?”

Self: Having grown up in a home where they did not experience emotional and relational connection with an attuned parent, they were inadvertently trained to believe they were on their own. Just like the 1099 contractor who operates independently and rarely consults with others, the Avoider’s natural perception of “self” is that they are on their own to figure out life. Operating out of this self- sufficient base, they correspondingly assume others are similar and will eventually figure out how to go it alone just like they do.

Other: Because they were never trained to examine their own emotions, they lack self- awareness and self-reflection skills. As a result, they are unskilled in correlating the link between their indescribable emotional states and the reactions they produce. For when Carrie was emotionally distressed, all she knew to do was to busy herself with the task of washing the car. She had no awareness that emotional stress was animating her behavior. Most importantly, she did not know how to take her stress into relationships for relief. Because of her own deficiencies, her ability to detect distress in her husband was non-existent. Because she could not see into her own soul, she was unable to anticipate the emotional needs of others or have empathy for their struggle.

We: Lastly, the self-sufficient person doesn’t need others. So why would her husband need her help unload the groceries? She had learned from an early age that others were of little practical use, so she’d had grown used to not needing them. So why did her husband need her? “We” is complicated and messy, so “me” is all I need!

After washing the car, Carrie returned to the kitchen and asked, “So what’s for lunch?” It never crossed her mind to talk with her husband about the earlier altercation.

Growth Goals for the emotionally avoidant individual: Should you decide that you’ve experienced the above scenario one too many times and that you are tired of the pain it creates here are some steps you can take every day for the rest of your life that will yield better relational outcomes.
1. Remind yourself daily of your decision to not stay the way your family your shaped you. Back then you were not a voting member, but now you have a choice to transform your life toward a more secure connector which will open new relational vistas.
2. Carry a feelings word list with you wherever you go. When you’re uncomfortable inside, find the word(s) on the list that best describe your emotional state. Write them down in a small pocket journal along with the date.
3. Say the words aloud to yourself several times throughout the day.
4. At the end of the day when you are reunited with loved ones, take a deep breath, and share your emotional words with your family (age appropriate).
5. With the Soul Words list available for others to see, take another deep breath, and ask each family member what emotions they felt throughout the day. Get ready to have a meaningful conversation. Don’t fix anyone, just listen, repeat back what you heard and validate to them how difficult that may have been.
6. Group hug.

Thanks for listening,
Milan & Kay

Next Week: The Pleaser

“Self, Other, We.”

“Self, Other, We.”

When she was two years old, Lindsey had learned that when she was uncomfortable or distressed, she could turn to Mom and Dad for help. There she would find relief and comfort from attentive and attuned parents. Additionally, their soothing touch and voice tones would settle her agitation and she would feel peaceful. Though pre-verbal and unable to comprehend the attachment process that was taking place, powerful lessons were being deposited deep into her soul that would become an imprint that would last a lifetime.

As she graduated from college at twenty-two years of age, she found herself facing a difficult challenge. Stay in her college town and pursue a relationship with her boyfriend whom she deeply loved or accept an offer to attend a graduate program at a university five hundred miles away?

Acceptance letter in hand, her first phone call was to her Mom and Dad who arranged to meet with her and process the pros and cons of the decision as well as the strong emotions accompanying both choices. Though she knew she would have to make the final decision on her own, she found wisdom and emotional comfort from her parents that was reassuring and helpful.

What Lindsey had unconsciously learned at two years of age and then consciously applied in adulthood was a healthy and vibrant dynamic between Self, Other and We. Regarding “Self” Lindsey knew deep down inside that she would be “seen” or acknowledged by “others” and was of sufficient value that Mom and Dad would welcome her request for connection. She instinctively knew that the community of “we” was a valuable commodity, and the notion of an isolated life as a “me” never crossed her mind.

This healthy balance between independence, inter-dependence and dependence is called Secure Connection. It represents the model to which we all aspire as a friend, spouse, or parent. However, the insecure attachment styles of the Avoider, Pleaser, Vacillator, Controller, or Victim each falls short of this balanced model. For the next few weeks, we’ll discuss each of the love styles and the choices they can make to become more securely attached to the people who are of greatest importance.

There is hope for all of us! If we didn’t learn secure attachment in our childhood, then we can earn secure attachment as adults by learning new things and making healthy choices.

Thanks for listening,
Milan & Kay

Upcoming Event!

Hi everyone,

We are reaching out to let you know that Milan and Kay will be doing a How We Love workshop in North Carolina this weekend. For all of the event details, please click here.

We would love to see you there!

Also, we are introducing a new Core Pattern CD to add to existing ones. The Controller-Avoider CD is now available on the website. You can get it here!

We will have new blogs from Milan and Kay coming very soon. We appreciate all of you and your support.

No More Perfect Marriages

Hey everyone…we are excited for our friends, Jill and Mark Savage, who just wrote a book No More Perfect Marriages.

Mark and Jill’s marriage was in a black hole. A separation, an affair and years of a frustrating core pattern they didn’t understand almost destroyed their marriage. They share our hearts, vision and desire to see Christian marriages thrive. Mark and Jill have worked hard to build a marriage that is deep, rich and satisfying when it seemed their marriage was beyond hope. Take the four week challenge and see what you can learn!

Click here to take the challenge!

How We Love Couples’ Retreat with Milan & Kay Yerkovich

How We Love Couples’ Retreat with Milan & Kay Yerkovich
Located at the Beautiful
Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA

January 20, 21, 22, 2017
This event has limited space and will sell out.
$550 per couple
Sign up for yourself or consider gifting this retreat to another couple.

SIGN UP NOW
• Recognize the 5 love styles
• Reveal your own style – and your mate’s
• Reverse your predictable and damaging Core Patterns
• Receive growth goals and tools to end harmful patterns
• Realize your dream of a more passionate love

How We Love
Couples’ Retreat with Milan & Kay Yerkovich

Schedule
Friday, January 20:
7-9PM: Arrival
Workshop Session 1
Dessert & Coffee

Saturday, January 21:
8:30AM: Breakfast
9-11AM: Workshop Session 2
11AM – 6PM: Time on your own with your spouse for workshop content, relax and explore.
6PM: Dinner
7-9PM: Workshop Session 3
Dessert & Coffee

Sunday, January 22:
Check out at your own leisure

What’s Included
Your room for 2 nights
All taxes, fees and service charges
Porterage and gratuities
Overnight valet parking
Friday night coffee and dessert
Saturday morning breakfast
Saturday evening dinner

To sign up contact: lizlusk@relationship180.com
or call 949-830-2846

Exciting News!!

We are so excited to announce:

Our two day Focus on the Family broadcast titled, “Discovering Your Love Style” is scheduled to re-air Monday, December 19, and Tuesday, December 20, 2016 as part of Focus on the Family’s Best of 2016 programs.

On the scheduled airdate, the streaming audio of this broadcast will appear on Their broadcast page – www.focusonthefamily.com/radio – along with a brief description. Their Facebook and Twitter pages will also link to the website on the airdate.

After the airdate, the program will be posted here for 31 days (http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/discovering-your-love-style-pt1 and http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/discovering-your-love-style-pt2). Please note that this specific address might still be ‘under construction’ at this time, but will be complete by the airdate.

Also on the broadcast page, look for the Focus “Station Finder” to find stations that carry the program in your area. In addition, a downloadable podcast will be available on iTunes (just search for Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast).

Psychology or Biblical? – Part 2

Four Lenses of Diagnosing Problems.

General medicine does not make Christians too nervous. If you have a troubling symptom you go the Internist or Specialist and hope for an accurate diagnosis and plan of treatment that will bring you back to health. Many times this may involve a prescription. If we are told we have a thyroid disorder and need Synthroid, we go fill our prescription and take our dose. If we have high blood pressure we may need medication.

Let’s dive into a controversial subject. When it comes to a Psychiatrist and diagnosis of some psychological disorder and a suggestion for medication we often balk as Christians. Milan and I have had to beg, plead and cajole many clients into seeking this kind of help. Sometimes there is a flat refusal. Why is this? Somehow this kind of help is labeled unspiritual. If we had faith, a close walk with God (whatever exactly that means) and read our bible and prayed we should not be depressed, anxious, have mood swings, compulsions etc.

While all these spiritual disciplines and practices certainly help, sometimes they are not enough. Milan and I like to look at all problems; medical, psychological and spiritual though four lenses.

Physical
Emotional
Spiritual
Medical

Most problems we encounter are a mixture of all of these areas. The difficult question is, what’s what? For example, years ago I saw a client who was 53 years old. We will call her Sue. The last of Sue’s four children had just moved out to attend college. She was an empty nester after being a stay at home mom for 25 years. She was not sleeping well. She was tired and unmotivated. She was a devout believer for many years and described her relationship with God as “close and life giving” until recently. Now her prayers seem to be “hitting the ceiling” Upon further questioning, I learned her best friend had died of leukemia the previous year. She described this loss as devastating and felt no one but God understood the degree of sorrow she experienced. Her husband was a high level executive and worked long hours. She loved him and the life style he provided, but longed for more emotional and spiritual intimacy in her marriage.

Let’s take these presenting issues and look briefly through our four lenses:

Physical: She is at a menopausal age. Her hormones are changing. Does she exercise?
How is her eating? Does she pay attention to nutrition?

Emotional: Sue has experienced a great deal of loss. She is in a major life transition
which is equivalent to a man retiring or losing his job. Who can she go to for
comfort? Is her husband willing to come in and learn to grow in his ability to
see and meet her needs for comfort and connection? How are her other
friendships? How has she dealt with this grief? Alone? Can she bring
her vulnerable need for comfort into relationship? What did she learn about
connection growing up? Is she a avoider, pleaser, vacillator, controller or
victim? How is her love style impacting her? Is she anxious? What is her
level of self-awareness? Is she a giver or receiver…can she be in both roles?

Spiritual: Is this a spiritual crisis/transition? Has she ever experienced this downturn in
her prayer life before? What is her church involvement? What is her level of
spiritual maturity? How much has she suffered? How does she integrate
suffering with God’s love? What is her level of vulnerable, real, connection
within her church setting and friendships? Where and how is spiritual opposition
operating? Does she know how to pray against the enemy?
Medical:
Are her sleep problems due to hormonal changes? Is her thyroid low?
When was her last physical? Is she depressed? Are her sleep problems due to
depression? Is there a family history of depression? Anxiety? Panic attacks?
What medications is she on? Are her symptoms a side effect of any
medication?

This is just a quick overview… the point is all areas are important to investigate. Leaving out one section means I may miss important information. In Sue’s case, what we discovered over time is that she was indeed depressed, but was uneducated about the symptoms of depression. In fact, as I explored Sue’s history, she had suffered post-partum depression after the birth of her last child but had never been diagnosed or treated. Her Father had serious alcohol addictions, which may have been his attempt to medicate depression or anxiety.

After three months of treatment addressing all four areas and no alleviation of her symptoms I suggested Sue schedule an appointment with my favorite psychiatrist and be evaluated for anti-depressant medication. (I prefer psychiatrist for this kind of evaluation because this is their area of specialty. Out of 20 or more possible choices of medication, a psychiatrist is trained to distinguish between all these options and select the best possible choice of medicine.)

I explained to Sue that depression can be situational and resolve on its own, or it can be clinical…that is caused by imbalances in brain chemistry. Most any condition for which we take pills or vitamins is an attempt to alter some chemical system in our body for the better. Initially, Sue resisted feeling she should be able to trust God more and that would help her feel better but after another month of sleeplessness, indecision, lethargy, frequent crying and anxiety she agreed to make an appointment.

Sue was astounded at the results. She said what I have heard so many clients say when treatment is successful… “The difference in how I feel amazes me. Overall, I feel I have my feet back on the ground and can manage stress so much better. I’m sleeping again and I can make decisions without agonizing. My head feels clearer and every little thing does not make me cry. I was afraid I would not feel like myself on medicine but it’s just the opposite. I feel like myself again.”

After treating her depression, she was in a much better place to work on her marriage. Her husband learned to understand the depth of her grief and learned to comfort her. This deeper level of vulnerability translated into some of her close friendships. She developed some new hobbies she had never had time to pursue. Spiritually, she felt more able to see suffering as part of the life of every believer and was more accepting of periods of stress.

I have heard a similar speeches countless times. Sometimes psychology (symptoms of depression) and medicine can make all the difference in helping someone regain their emotional health. To ignore this avenue of help can make suffering unnecessarily prolonged.
As Christians, we need to see life through all these lenses as we face trials, temptations, and stresses. God can use any and often uses all of these to help heal, restore and replenish a struggling believer.

Psychological or Biblical?

Psychological or Biblical?

Milan and I encounter this question many times as we teach and speak around the country. Is psychology unbiblical? How can psychology be helpful if it is humanistic and man centered? Just in case you readers are wondering how we integrate all this into our beliefs as Christians, here is what we teach on the subject.

Psychology by definition refers to the study of the human mind and mental states by observations, categorizing and labeling characteristics of human behavior.

Psychology is man’s observation of human behavior and the categorization of these observations into names of illnesses or disorders by lists of symptoms. Medical journals observe and categorize illness in the same way. If you have a certain list of symptoms the Doctor says, “You have a cold or virus.” If your medical symptoms match another list, perhaps you have gall bladder problems. Are medical journals “biblical”? No. Are psychological journals “biblical”? No. Do they contain wisdom to label and diagnoses problems? Yes. Do they give the ultimate solutions on how those problems originated or are solved? (Sin and Salvation) No. Can they be helpful to identify diagnosis and help a person identify exactly how they need to be treated or where they need to grow? Yes.

Yes, No, Yes, No….did you follow that? Think of it this way. If we look at the world from a Biblical perspective, we know the world is broken because of sin. You are broken. I am broken. All of creation is broken. Roman 8:20-22 says, “For the creation was subjected to futility , not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God. All creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now.”

Christ is the solution. “The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life.” Christ’s work on the cross rescues us from sin and brokenness. As we accept the sacrifice of the cross on our behalf as payment for our sin, we are adopted into God’s family and given the Holy Spirit. God then calls us to grow into the likeness of Christ. After salvation, God sees us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Of course our mate has a hard time perceiving us as seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places! (Eph 2:6). Rather, they see us as imperfect and incomplete and lacking in many ways. This is because we are not yet transformed practically into being Christ-like.

How does God show me where I’m not like Him? How does God show me what parts of my being still resemble brokenness rather than holiness? The Bible is certainly the primary source. The more I know God and His character the more I will see the goal; what I am becoming in the process of sanctification. Milan and I see psychology as a secondary source of identifying brokenness.

Milan and I were married for 15 years and very serious about our commitment to Christ and open and willing to grow. We did some changing during those years. We learned a lot about our faith. But we were still very stuck in some tenacious marriage dynamics that were hurtful and no amount of prayer or bible study had changed these frustrating patterns. You might say we were still blind as to what was at the root of some areas of brokenness.

God used my studies in attachment theory (psychology) to pinpoint some injuries (sin done to us) and resulting behaviors (our own sin) that were blocking growth in our marriage. I believe it was an answer to our prayers for wisdom as I read these studies. As I discovered the characteristics of an Avoider and how this imprint occurs I clearly saw my own experience in my family of origin. As I read the adult characteristics of the Avoider, I clearly saw how that brokenness affected my parenting and marriage.

I began to confess. I don’t really know how to bond. I am afraid of my feelings, especially painful feelings. I am too independent. I don’t really know how to need God or others on any deep or vulnerable level. I could go on and on. These confessions turned to prayers. God, help me learn to feel. Help me learn to risk being vulnerable. Help me learn to show my pain to you and others. Help me learn to receive comfort.

There was a giant leap in my growth. God was the source in leading me. God was the source in giving me the Holy Spirit as a guide. God was the source in helping me identify and make these healing changes. He just used a sprinkling of psychology along the way to help my confession and prayers go from vague (help me be the wife and mother you want me to be) to more specific requests I just mentioned above.

Next week, I’m going to talk about one more benefit of psychology and medicine in terms of spiritual growth.

Upcoming Events

Hi,

Here are some upcoming events in California that we wanted to let you know about!

October 1. 2016
How We Love Workshop
The Journey Christian Church
4849 Alton Prky.
Irvine, CA 92604
Saturday: 9:00am – 4:00pm
For more information or to register for this event, please click here.

October 7-8, 2016
How We Love Workshop
Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church
10 Moraga Valley Lane
Moraga, CA 94556
Friday: 7:00pm-9:30pm
Saturday: 1:00pm-5:00pm
For more information or to register for this event, please click here.

We would love to see you at one of these events! Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Therapist Continuing Education Seminar

Therapist Continuing Education Seminar
“Attachment Theory”

Early Registration Pricing Ends July 15, 2016
Please register today!

Hello All,
Kay and I are teaching our six-hour therapist workshop on July 29, 2016 in Mission Viejo, CA and we wanted you to know about it! Here is what it’s all about:
• This course equips Psychologists, MFTs, LCSWs, interns, Pastoral Counselors and others to use attachment theory as a framework for couple’s therapy. Presenting issues that bring couples into therapy can frequently be dissected to reveal how attachment injuries give rise to the presenting symptoms.
• A review of attachment theory and research contrasts five common injurious attachment styles that block intimacy and further an insecure attachment. By teaching participants the interplay of the couples’ attachment styles and the common core pattern of interaction they produce, the therapist is equipped to target root issues rather than focusing on the surface symptoms.
• Specific therapeutic interventions are demonstrated, giving therapists the tools required to achieve treatment goals. This course teaches current peer reviewed research in the field of adult attachment and then goes beyond theory to practical application that creates a structure and map for effective couples’ therapy.
Register at www.relationship180.com on the “events” page. You can also call the offices of Relationship 180 at (949)830-2846 for further information.

Psychologists, therapists and interns will earn 6 C.E. credits that meet the requirements of the American Psychological Association and the California Board of Behavioral Science Examiners.

If you or anyone you know might find this workshop beneficial to their counseling practice or ministry, please pass this information along.

Thanks,
Milan Yerkovich

Date: Friday, July 29, 2016

Hours: 9 AM to 4 PM with a lunch break from 12-1

Location: Mission Hills Church, 24162 Alicia Parkway, Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Cost: Boxed Lunch is included
Early Registration for Licensed Practitioners: $179, After July 15, 2016: $229
Early Registration for Interns and Others: $99, After July 15, 2016: $149