The Amazing Strength of Love and Commitment

Dr. Larry Cohen (856) 352-5428

Last week I had introductory coaching sessions with two separate couples who while in our meetings behaved in similar ways. Both couples displayed overt anger and disrespect toward one another. they all seemed to be 'demonstrating’ how much disrespect and anger existed within their relationships. couples don’t often present for couples coaching so close to what I assessed as the end of the line. Couples come to me with disagreements and dysfunctional ways of communicating, but since they are presenting for couples coaching together, the assumption is that both partners have an interest in continuing the relationship. I doubted this was the case with either of these couples.

The first couple appeared to be in serious trouble. The man was somewhat quiet, and I got the feeling he did not understand why he was in my office. His fiancé, however, was angry throughout the session and was disrespectful toward him repeatedly. Her need, which appeared to be directly related to her screaming, was for him to change. She wanted him to share more with her, and not stay quiet as much as he does. I learned that she had been mandated attend anger management counseling 2 separate times in her life, which at face value, I could understand. Throughout, the man didn’t quite understand what changes she wanted him to make, and the more she screamed, the more humiliated he became. During the session, very little was accomplished, and I was convinced that I would not see them again.

The second couple behaved better than the first during their session, but not by much. Newly married after a 10-year relationship, they were now arguing much of the time, and the woman expressed feeling disrespected by her spouse. He stated that he wasn’t sure how he was going to continue in the relationship, that she constantly blamed him for things he either didn’t understand or were out of his control.

I scheduled return appointments for each couple – one right after the other - that took place tonight.

The woman from couple two called me this morning stating that she was not going to attend the session, that she was so mad at her spouse she didn’t see the point of coming.

I didn’t really expect couple one, who I had scheduled for 8 pm, to show up for their appointment at all. Surprisingly, couple one attended their 8 pm appointment, and the female from couple two attended the appointment she said she was not going to attend.

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This week, it was couple two who behaved badly; they ripped into each other, blamed each other, threatened divorce (both at some point). We did make progress, and they agreed to work hard on not picking at each other or spitting venom at each other. They also agreed that threatening divorce would no longer be aloud unless they were serious and ready to move forward. They walked in hating each other and left committed to using a few tools aimed at saving their marriage.

Since couple one behaved so poorly during our first session, I met with each party privately for 10 minutes at the beginning of the meeting. I needed to ask a question: given how badly they behaved and treated one another during our first meeting, were they committed to working on the relationship, or was their relationship over? Both parties strongly stated that they loved the other and that they were both absolutely committed to the relationship.

I was surprised both times. I learned that love, like Kelp, survives even when it seems impossible. Who knew that love and commitment possessed such resiliency?

To successfully repair and rebuild any relationship, I only need to know that each partner is committed to the other and that both parties are committed to making it work. Other than that, I seem to know very little about the incredible strength and resiliency of love and commitment.

Larry Cohen
Stop 'Mind Reading' and Discover the Truth

Dr. Larry Cohen  (856) 352-5428

Follow Your True Path

Do you see your reality as it truly is? Or do you see reality as it is not, believing what you see and understand to be true when it may not be. How we see and understand the world, those around us, and ourselves, can be skewed, and may not be reality as it is. Your reality is just that – not true reality, but reality as uniquely seen and understood through our own eyes. We all see the world through our own pair of ‘rose colored glasses’. How we see and believe reality to be is often skewed because the things that we believe – that we know to be true – may never have been based on facts. We tend to mind read – believing that we know for certain how things are – when the facts don’t support our beliefs. We fill in the blanks. We make assumptions about how people feel and think about us, and our assumptions become confused with fact.

Sometimes, we believe things about ourselves and our relationships without truly possessing enough evidence to support the belief. Each day I work with ‘mind readers’, people who assume they know why specific life events occurred, or how another person thinks about or feels about them, or what someone’s motives are, when the facts don’t support their conclusions. Take a moment to consider what it’s like to live a life based on false reality. How do you know which life direction to follow if you don’t see reality as it truly is?  

Many times, ‘mind reading’ leads to negative thoughts and negative emotions. What you believe to be true may not be. Is there enough evidence to support your belief or is your belief unsupported and based on ‘mind reading’ and assumption; you fill in the blanks where evidence is lacking, and live your life based on a false reality. Mind reading is simple to understand – ask yourself, do you really know how another person thinks and feels?

Last week one of my clients was fired from his job. His boss did not give him a reason why and he didn’t ask. He began ‘mind reading’, blaming himself, convinced that he must have done something wrong. Soon, negative beliefs (self-hatred, shame, failure) lead to deep feelings of depression and hopelessness. He started to believe that he was a failure, unable to hold a job, and unable to care for himself. I asked him, “Where is the evidence that you are basing these beliefs on? There is none.” In this case, ‘mind reading’ lead to real harm and despair, leading him to believe and feel the way he did.

Let’s go back to the beginning of this example. “Last week one of my clients was fired from his job. His boss did not give him a reason why and he didn’t ask.” Let’s take a different path. Instead of ‘mind reading’, think carefully about what has occurred, and instead of ‘mind reading’, consider some plausible, alternative realities. “I don’t know why I was fired. Maybe I wasn’t doing a good job. But, I just don’t have the evidence I need to believe this to be true. There are many explanations as to why I was fired. Maybe I was fired because 1) my employer could no longer afford to keep me on and is planning to hire someone with less experience at a reduced salary; 2) there was nothing wrong with my work – in fact, it was better than most. I always volunteered to take on extra responsibilities as well. Perhaps I was fired because my supervisor was threatened by my ambition and talent, and wanted to get rid of me; 3) a co-worker - for whatever reason – who did not get along with me or like me, might have told the boss (who she is friendly with) that I was not right for the job, that I was a trouble-maker, and that I should be fired.

‘Mind reading’ convinced my client that he was fired because of personal inadequacy, that getting fired was his fault. But any of the alternatives above may have been the real reason. Don’t assume that when something goes wrong it must be your own fault.  

Challenge yourself to see reality as it is, and not what you assume it to be. Think through and analyze situations in which ‘mind reading’ has lead you to believe things which may not be true. Look at the evidence and see reality for what it is, not what you think it is. Evidence rarely lies, while ‘mind reading’ often does. Seeing the world, others, and yourself with clarity and truth will allow you to make positive life changes. You must know who you are, your true self, to grow and create positive change. ‘Mind reading’ leads you astray. It makes you believe things that aren’t true. It can lead you into darkness, and in the dark, most of us end up lost.

 

 

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Larry Cohen