Relationships: Core Values for Emotional Intelligence
Behind every great man/woman is an even greater woman/man (or man/woman). The cherry blossoms were glorious this weekend in Washington D.C. I was fortunate enough to stroll around the Tidal Basin with my husband, taking in the beauty and scent of it all. It was insanely crowded but it felt strangely quiet. I doubt it was quiet in reality, but in my memory, it was still.
This scene is now in my "core value bank", in its full glory, as perceived by my senses: snippets of people, cherry trees, my daughter's face live on video chat, the scent of blossoms, a quiet stillness, 60 degrees feeling balmy after a long winter, and our hands interlaced.
We were there for Dr. Steven Stosny's Compassion Power Boot Camp and it was personally and professionally transforming. Yes, we truly enjoy going to personal improvement workshops. Every intimate relationship has it's own baggage of low level resentment / anger and like termites, it can insidiously eat away at the foundation of a relationship. Certainly, after 20+ years together, a couple of awesome kids, a house, and 3 careers, it was time for spring cleaning with a thorough pest inspection!
It's never too early or late to start working on yourself if you really want the rewards of meaningful relationships. We LIVE LONGER when we're in healthy relationships. In some studies, social isolation is a risk factor for mortality, at least equal to obesity, physical activity, and substance abuse.
So if you're in a relationship or plan to be in one during your lifetime here's a bit of bad news followed by plenty of good news on how we can train our brains to get better at being in relationships...
Marriage in our time has about 40% risk of failure. Out of the 60% who stay married, a meta-analysis (a study that analyzes many studies) suggests that after the initial honeymoon of increased life satisfaction both life and relationship satisfaction went downhill to baseline or before marriage over time. http://1.usa.gov/1IR6UfI
Within these are the Un-Divorced, the unhappily married, and then of course the practically married (staying together for kids, house, social status, taxes, money, etc).
Dr. Stosny shed light on common marital miscommunications by emphasizing neuroplasticity, biology, and habits: my kind of guy!
There were some eye opening pearls of wisdom that I had never thought of and others that are obvious but too often ignored.
Here are some of my interpretations:
1) People didn't live as long as we now do and thus we can expect marriages to have to last longer than ever! This takes special skills, investment of time, and work!
2) We need to really, I mean really, deeply, appreciate the differences in each other. Strengths and weaknesses can complement for better teamwork.
3) Bad habits tend to form without working at it, but for good habits we really need to pay attention and cultivate them.
4) Our brains, together as a couple, CAN and MUST be retrained on a daily basis to improve our relationships. After all, if we started a company, we wouldn't expect it to flourish without putting in tons of hours of work, effort, heart, and soul.
5) Even if your current or past significant relationship is kaput, even if your partner doesn't want to work at it, even if we were the victims or perpetrators of anger, stonewalling, or resentment (I honestly believe this happens to some degree in every relationship) we must work on our own core values first, otherwise we will drag unhealthy patterns into all of our relationships: children, relatives, future partners, work, friendships.
His fundamental message is to make daily deposits into your core value bank for the rest of your life so you can access it during difficult interactions with your loved ones (or anyone for that matter). This can prevent escalations or low levels of brewing resentment that you will most certainly regret.
What goes into a core value bank? Appreciation of humanity, meaning and purpose, love, spirituality, nature, creativity, community, and compassion.
Why do we need a core value bank? It increases our self-value and strengthens our resolve to act from our deepest values rather than from our superficial and fleeting "physiologic" emotions.
Why is our core value bank so important in intimate relationships? When we are angry or resentful, our core hurt is feeling unloveable or inadequate. If we have plenty of deposits in our core value bank, we can HEAL from that inaccurate feeling of being unloveable or inadequate. We no longer need anger and resentment to defend us from that core hurt! It's never too early or late to start working on yourself if you really want the rewards of compassionate relationships. Studies show that we LIVE LONGER with healthy relationships.
If you can't go live to his boot camp, try HEALS online. I highly recommend Dr. Stosny for anyone who wants to thrive at work and at home.
Wishing you wellness,
Juna Bobby MD