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Getting In Touch With Our Feelings: Men vs.Women

I have written about how men are often out of touch with their needs, wants and feelings, and how this underlies taking entitled positions as well as other problems they may experience in relationships. Initially in counseling, they may have a great deal of denial about the significance or even the existence of traumatic experiences in their life, especially when they were very young, even infants.

If a man is willing to consider even the possibility of unresolved childhood trauma but can not feel it, he may be willing to hear me when I share with him that I am feeling his pain in a conversation we are having. He may be willing for me to reflect his pain back to him, thereby validating the importance of his getting in touch with his packed away feelings as an opening into his heart.

man and woman embracingWomen often do this unconsciously for men that they love, but since they do it unconsciously, they may not insist that a man then feel his own pain, and instead take his unresolved stuff on as their responsibility to feel and to manage for him. A man may then stay unconscious and continue to act out his painful feelings and early trauma in ways that are destructive to himself and others.

The bottom line here is that we may compassionately feel another’s pain and unconscious feelings, but we can not do their work for them. Paraphrasing something Carl Jung once said: “Enlightenment is not just about basking in the light. It’s about making the dark conscious.”

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The Key Component to a Successful Professional Working Relationship

It has been over forty years now that Mary Simon, Howie Lambert and I have been working together. In 1973, I joined Mary and Howie at Gilpin House, a community mental health center that was an outreach of Denver General Hospital. We formed strong bonds in the ensuing years that would lead to our forming Enrichment Resources and later, with Roz Cantrell, The Relationship Resource Center, a wonderful coming together of therapists and clients.

joined handsI think the core psychotherapists have stayed deeply connected with one another for so long, longer indeed than most marriages, in part because we are committed to telling the truth with love to one another on an ongoing basis. This is the essential condition for evolutionary or integral love to grow. What integral love means is that we work to transcend and include personal love and invite and give feedback to one another to recognize, integrate, and move beyond our ego and personality structures.

This demands that we challenge each other to delve even deeper than what our ongoing commitment to professional growth and development requires. The nearest equivalent I know is the Buddhist “sangha,” although we do not come together in any specifically religious context. Our connection at its deepest level might be called psychospiritual in nature, and we work to support our own evolution, as well as the others that we come in contact with, in our lives and in our practice.

The Relationship Resource Center is an amazing place to live and work. I am deeply grateful for what we have created and delighted to be part of its ongoing evolution. The wonderful and challenging practice of what I am calling integral love demands that we continue to grow and show up more and more in our lives. It is immensely helpful to have a context like RRC that supports this essential development in each of us.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Nurture First, Then Work is Essential

The Protestant Ethic is strong on work before play. Get your work and tasks done first, and then relax if there is any time left.

Much that is useful has come from following this maxim, and there are times when work must precede more pleasurable activities.

Unfortunately the ethic itself is based on the belief that people are inherently lazy, and unless they drive themselves or are driven by someone else, they will succumb to their lower nature or some such gobbledygook. Also, there frequently isn’t any time left when all the work is done.

While it is important to learn how to delay gratification, this works best if it is a conscious process on the part of the individual rather than a rule that is bound up with fear and survival energy.

nurturing environmentMy own experience is that when I am well nurtured in mind, body and spirit, I work at my best. Enough sleep, healthy food, exercise and a meditative or journaling practice seem to be important for my optimal functioning at whatever work I need or choose to do.

If work before play is sometimes necessary, self-nurturing before work is often essential if we are wanting to move beyond a strongly entrenched survival ethic that frequently took a dim view of human nature.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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