Relationship Resource Center
RELATIONSHIP REFLECTIONS

RRC and Integral Consciousness: Bringing New Life and Energy to the Practice of Psychotherapy

The coming together of Integral consciousness and psychotherapy in many ways is a “marriage born in heaven.” The four of us, Mary, John, Roz and Howie, are very experienced psychotherapists practicing successfully for many years. We realize we had been moving toward this integral identity long before we had a name for it! Rather than attach to one approach to psychotherapy, we have always chosen to integrate the best of different schools into our work with individuals and couples. Not so much being eclectic as studying and practicing different approaches in depth. Sometimes we would do this over many years until we acquired mastery or at least expertise in a particular area, thus continuing to expand and deepen in our lives and work. We embrace the awesome reality of evolution in consciousness and culture, as well as in the physical world as part and parcel of our integral understanding and development.

RRC and Integral Consciousness: Bringing New Life and Energy to the Practice of PsychotherapyOne of the most significant outcomes of practicing psychotherapy in an integral context is the growth in consciousness in the psychotherapist. As the psychotherapist is able to hold more integrally informed perspectives, their internal experience of the moments of psychotherapy deepens and expands. The “holding environment” with individuals and couples gradually becomes more loving and whole. Transformation (changes in levels or stages of development) as well as translation (expanded understanding and change in presenting situations or issues) becomes possible sooner. The therapist is able to see more of reality and help clients to do so as well.

At the Center for Integral Psychotherapy in Denver as part of the Relationship Resource Center, while we have been around forever, we also continue to evolve. As we embrace evolution in consciousness and culture, we both transcend and include older as well as current ways of viewing psychotherapy in our world. We are deeply grounded in many approaches to psychotherapy, benefiting greatly from our many years of experience and practice. To this we introduce the novelty of a new stage of development. This Integral stage, which is emerging out of modern and post modern consciousness, is beginning to bring new life and energy to the practice of psychotherapy. We are already experiencing this vital energy in our lives and our work and want to continue to share this with all of you.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Signs of Elderhood

Here are seven signs that you have reached Elderhood:

  1. Signs of ElderhoodYou recognize a profound and possibly prolonged shift out of adulthood. There is a change in consciousness internally where you recognize that you are not an adult any more in the way you were before. You are transcending and including adulthood. You are entering Elderhood.
  2. You care more about the “youngers” of this world than you do about yourself. This is not masochism or self hatred. It is an expansion of your ability to love others as well as yourself, especially the younger people coming up who are the future you will not live to see. As an Elder, you are future-oriented more than past or even present-oriented. Most older people tend to be more oriented to the past. As adults we tend to be more oriented to the present. Elders are more oriented to the future.
  3. You are deeply grateful for all you have been given and giving back is your work now.
  4. With great humility, you realize that you are now a Caretaker of this world and of all that are in this world. You are a lover of the generations coming up and a lover of the future. You appreciate your work and the love of others in the past that has helped you arrive at where you are now.
  5. You realize that there is now a path to Elderhood that you and others can follow. It is not a clear path yet, and there are lots of sand traps along the way, but it not reserved for the very few or for saints who are beyond us. It wasn’t as visible for our parents and grandparents for whom basic survival was usually more of the order of the day. The path is clearer now if you choose to walk it.
  6. You realize that part of your work now is to make the way clearer. You have embarked on the journeys of Growing Up, Cleaning Up and Waking Up in adulthood and have entered Elderhood able to Show Up clearer than ever before. You live as best you can for the good of this world.
  7. You are very aware of the challenges of aging even as you embrace the growth into this emerging stage of development.You are willing to live the miracle of your own ongoing evolution in the face of your individual undeniable entropy!

Welcome to Elderhood!

An Evolutionary Correction

With Trump’s inauguration, we are witnessing what Ken Wilber has called “an evolutionary correction.” In the months ahead, we will be exploring what this correction means in its hopeful as well as its frightening aspects. We will primarily be looking at what we can feel positive about and be FOR as we go forward.

2016 was rough. But check out the shockingly hopeful truth about the world in 2017. #AvaazHope

Hope placeholder video

We invite you to Like us on Facebook so you can check for new postings between ezines.

We want keep all our spirits up in these uncertain times.

One way to feel empowered about what’s happening is to remember that the very long (13.8 billion year!) arc of evolution is bending toward ever greater Truth, Beauty and Goodness. So, any time you:

  • Speak your Truth with love and strength
  • Appreciate or create Beauty or
  • Share Goodness in any way – even just a smile or a kind thought

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You are moving Evolution forward!

Keep on Evolving!

Relationship Tip: How Do You Show Your Love?

We never outgrow our need to feel loved by the people with whom we are in a relationship. The best way to grow a committed loving relationship is by working to help your partner feel loved by you. Love is the grease that allows the wheel of life to rotate smoothly.

How Do You Show Your Love?Being a loving partner takes intention and skill. Intention involves the internal commitment to yourself to be kind, considerate and respectful in all of your actions and communication. Skill means that you have been willing to break old self-defeating habits and have learned some new ways to demonstrate the loving side of your nature.

Here are some skills you can practice:

1. Give your partner a verbal appreciation every day! Remind yourself of your partner’s best traits and behaviors and tell your partner how much you appreciate that aspect of his/her personhood. Be explicit and be concrete. “You are a good Mom” is a nice start. “I really admire the way you took the time to calm Jimmy down before you put him in that time out” is more concrete, specific and personal. If you want to learn how to make your appreciations even more powerful, practice telling your partner how you interpreted his/her excellent behaviors. For example, “I really admire the way you took the time to calm Jimmy down before you put him in that time out. When I saw you do that I realized how you are teaching him self-soothing skills even as you are giving him a consequence for his bad behavior. What a great move!”

2. Give your gifts from your heart. Gifts that have strings attached are likely to blow up in your face. When your partner senses that you are being nice because you want something in return, an alarm goes off in your partner’s survival brain that says, “Danger! Danger!” Instead of closeness, you get distance and wariness. And you wonder, “What did I do wrong?” Gifts, (i.e. both verbal appreciations and material presents) must be given freely with loving kindness and without expectations.

3. Use the Platinum Rule. The Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This is an excellent principal for treating others with consideration and respect. It is often referred to as the ethic of reciprocity. However, it can backfire in relationships. If you use your behavior in the relationship to attempt to signal to your partner what you secretly want given back to you, miscommunication often results. Take, for example, the anniversary where the husband (who wants more touching in the relationship) gives his wife a fancy electric massage machine. At the same time, the wife (who privately wishes they would spend intimate time reading aloud to each other) gives her husband a book of love poems. They pretend to appreciate what they received from the partner, but secretly feel disappointed and misunderstood.

In place of the Golden Rule, we suggest an updated version for love relationships. Harville Hendrix has called this the Platinum Rule. The Platinum Rule says, “Do unto your partner as your partner would have you do unto them.” Take the time to learn and to remember what your partner likes to receive. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, can help you and your partner understand each other’s primary and secondary love receptors. To become the best lover you can be, you need to give your partner what they most long for, not what you think they ought to appreciate.

Happy Holidays

We are sharing this with a holiday wish that our divided country can find a way through our culture wars.

We Are Still Evolving: “May You Live in Interesting Times!”

Well, folks, evolution has just taken an interesting turn! Interesting in the sense of the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times!” Many of our clients, and we ourselves, are experiencing deep grief about what seems about to happen to our country and to our world. While we must allow ourselves, and each other, to feel all the intense emotions that come with grief – shock and denial, sadness, anger, fear, depression (despair?) – we also must look for ways to move gradually toward acceptance and going forward with love and strength.

We must remember, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the arc of evolution is long – and it bends toward beauty, truth and goodness. We also can remind ourselves that periods of devolution are intrinsic to evolution. Cynthia Bourgeault, an Anglican priest and evolutionary teacher, tells us, “Events which, viewed at the wrong scale (i.e. too close up), look like devastating upheavals may actually prove to be relatively minor systemic adjustments.” There is a story about Henry Kissinger asking Chou En Lai what he thought of the French Revolution. His reply was, “Too soon to tell!”

Nonetheless, people can hardly be faulted if, at this time, they view this election as something akin to Armageddon! We want to share with you some perspectives that have been helpful to us in finding some balance and hope in this time.

First, we offer you a brief video with the possibly shocking title: “Why I Am Happy Trump Won!” We hope you find it as enlightening and encouraging as we have.

In addition, we want to suggest to you some thoughts as to how we might respond to this election from the perspective of Evolutionary Spirituality.
Cultural Evolution – Evolutionary Spirituality

Over the next months, as we discover more resources for finding balance and hope, we will post them on our blog. Check it out!

Balanced life

For those who are wondering, “But what can I DO right now?” we recommend the ideas for contributing to the evolution of our world that we shared in our last issue.

We also invite you to join our monthly Salon meetings where we will focus on how an evolutionary perspective on current affairs can help us meet the challenges of these difficult times.

In conclusion, we offer this from Rev. Bourgeault:
“… it is our calling to use our heads and hearts … to look at what is needed now and how we might collaborate (in) creating new possibilities in our world … Let us go forward. There is work to be done: prayer, joy, courage, and strength are deeply needed. And we do know the way there. This is Wisdom’s hour.”

Relationship Tip: Learning to Value Yourself

Learn the art of loving yourself at no one else’s expense. This skill is not as easy as it might sound. It means that you hold yourself in warm regard without feeling that you are better than others. And, that you can acknowledge your faults and imperfections without feeling that you are less than others.

One of the most destructive things to self-esteem (and relationships) is the subconscious belief that your personal worth is negotiable or that some people have more intrinsic worth than others. While it is true that people have different levels of wealth, ability, intelligence, motivation, beauty, and so on, you need to avoid the trap of believing that these surface differences determine your core value as a human being.

No matter how much money, ability or friends you have or don’t have, your spiritual value remains the same. All of the surface characteristics can change. Who you are remains the same and that is your value.

Our culture, unfortunately, teaches us that everything is comparative and competitive, including the intrinsic worth of persons. Those with more ability, wealth, achievements, beauty, etc. are looked up to as superior human beings. It tells us that, if you are born a member of a privileged group, you are entitled to more respect than those in less favored groups.

This cultural myth is toxic to everyone’s well-being. Those who, by some accident of birth, have less of the attributes considered valuable, or are members of a less valued group, most often struggle to feel worthy. Those who are born with more tend to base their sense of their worth on these things that are not intrinsic to their humanity and often lose touch with the things that give humans their core value.

Learn to Love YourselfIf you really want to build your sense of your own intrinsic value you can do this by focusing on developing the qualities that make us truly human.

Love. Take time daily to contact the love you feel for others.
Appreciate beauty. Pause frequently to appreciate scenes of natural, and/or humanly created beauty…. i.e. things that awe and inspire you.
Connect with the spiritual. Regularly bring to mind whatever it is that connects you the spiritual in life.
Cultivate compassion. Take time to reflect with compassion on all those who are suffering or struggling in their lives.
Practice kindness. Regularly make a point of doing small acts of kindness.
Value relationships. Work on improving all your relationships by following the suggestions in this booklet.

These qualities or activities are what are unique to us as human beings. They make us most human. And only we are in control of whether we possess them. We can forget them or lose connection with them but no one can take them away from us.

“To err is human.” We all make mistakes. However our personalities are programmed by our early life experiences so be overly critical and harsh on ourselves. You must learn, as an adult, to practice forgiveness and compassion within yourself. When you fail or behave badly, you practice self-esteem by holding yourself in warm regard while acknowledging what you have done that didn’t work well. When you realize that you have hurt someone, you regret your behavior and decide what you will do differently in the future. You refrain from beating yourself up and indulging in feeling like a loser.

Develop and use a personal mantra to remind yourself of your essential value as a human being. Repeat it in your thoughts throughout the day until it becomes a basic stone in the foundation of your thinking. You might read a book on affirmations to explore how to create a personal version that is individually constructed for your life at this moment in time.

Some examples of personal uplifting sayings other people have used are: “I am a blessed child of God!” “I am no better or worse than anyone else!” “I deserve love and happiness.” “I’m enough and I matter.” Repeat your personal message to yourself twelve to twenty times a day. When you do this you are actually building new neural pathways in your brain. You are re-programing your inner mind to believe in those parts of you that are human, decent, compassionate, humble and virtuous.

We Are Still Evolving – Welcome to your place in history!

Ken Wilber is probably the best known and most prolific writer about the Integral/Evolutionary Worldview. In his latest book, he talks about how we can, in small but powerful ways, contribute to the process of evolution. We found the thoughts below quite inspiring and hope you will also.

heart-pulse

… every time your pulse quickens with the thought of a more beautiful, more truthful, more ethical world tomorrow;

globecircleofpeople

… every time you dream the dream of a more inclusive tomorrow, the dream of a more harmonious future, the dream of a more balanced and cherished Earth;

heartingreeninsky

… every time you reach out for a future that is even just a little more Whole than the one today;

baby

… every time you look into the eyes of a young child, perhaps even your own, and wish for them a future of greater love and compassion and concern, and see them smile in the radiant halo of that embracing tomorrow;

worldandicons

… every time you make a choice that is in favor of the betterment of humankind and all living beings in their entirety;

Every time, every single time, you do anything like any of those, you are yourself directly, immediately, and irrevocably … helping to develop a new, more expanded level of consciousness (what we call the Integral or Evolutionary Worldview) and contributing to the further evolution of the Universe.

Relationship Tip: Turn Towards Your Partner

You begin the journey to a better relationship by learning to TURN TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER.

This is not as easy as it sounds. You have learned to protect yourself in times of strife with a variety of healthy psychological defenses. These are your basic survival mechanisms. In the animal kingdom, this is often referred to as “fight or flight.”

In the relationship world, it is called “the distancer-pursuer dance.”

Turning towards your partner involves the creation of different behavioral steps depending on whether you are a pursuer (i.e. emotional, excitable, easily hurt, moving into your partner’s personal space to pursue an argument, etc.) or a distancer (i.e. pulling back, saying very little, shutting down, feeling overwhelmed, etc.)

To understand the differences, look at the following diagrams:
(Two diagrams: Pursuer/Distancer on left and Two Healthy Adults on the right)

relationship tip 2 Turn Towards Your Partner

This drawing indicates that there is an imaginary line or boundary between you and your partner. Honoring this boundary is a very important thing to learn to do. As a pursuer, you have a pattern of barging across this line when you are upset as if to say, “I am angry, and we are going to talk about this right now.”

Withdrawers tend to respond to that behavior as creating a feeling of danger; therefore, as a withdrawer, you pull back a great distance and say, “We can talk about this when you have calmed down, and we can both be civil.” Unfortunately, both of these behaviors are misinterpreted by the partners, and your behavior elicits the exact opposite of what you really want. The distancing inflames the pursuer into more forward action, and the forward action scares the distancer deeper into his/her personal space.

Understanding this dynamic with hopefully allow you to meet in the middle. That meeting constitutes the first step. The pursuer must move up to, but not over, the boundary line and must modulate his/her voice, tone and posture. The distancer must move forward, up to the boundary line, and show his/her partner through eye contact, voice and posture that you are available for a discussion and not going to run away.

The reason this works to calm the situation down is that your new behavior is speaking to the underlying fear of your partner. The modulated pursuer is saying, “I do not want to overwhelm you with my emotions and energy.” At the same time, the emotionally available distancer is communicating, “I do not want you to feel abandoned by me.”

This is the beginning of the joint creation of SAFETY in the relationship. When you change your behavior while your partner is changing his/her behavior, a deeper sense of comfort and connection will begin to grow. Both of you will benefit from the renewed intimacy that follows.

Click to read Relationship Tip: Presume Sanity

We Are Still Evolving

Over the past few years, we have become very interested in the field of Integral Philosophy. Integral thought explores what we can learn by understanding more deeply the process of evolution, especially the evolution of consciousness and culture. This way of thinking about the world has expanded and deepened our work with individuals and couples. It has also given us a fresh and hopeful way to view what’s going on in our complex, and sometimes frightening world.

Many people we talk with say they find the TV news depressing and even offensive. In the interview below, Jeff Salzman, an Integral thinker from right here in Colorado, offers a more hopeful view. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

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