Dating

Why Polar thinking is a gift

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I can feel it coming with my clients and myself. When clarity begins to emerge from pain, suddenly energy will begin to cycle. This is inevitably when thoughts race around and around in circles and can’t quite take an alternative path forward through the next threshold of awakening – or aha moment. As pain subsides, polar thoughts and emotions emerge regarding the meaning of the experiences.

As painful as this stagnate process is for clients, it is an indication a the proximity of their next big forward leap in healing or growth. Often their are some very limiting behaviors that are reactions to this stickiness. Once the polarization is resolved, poof, limitations are history!

I look for these polarities in sessions with clients. We identify and name them and then explore them. Our brains struggle to allow two polar thoughts or emotions to coexist in our meaning making categorizations of events. When you can allow for both polars to exist – co-exist, then you can move on. Hold them together, love them both, they are both truth. Give yourself the gift of polarized meaning and you will notice limitations begin to release.

One the clearest examples of polar thinking is around fault and blame. I should premise this example by saying that releasing the concept of fault and blame altogether is important to emotional and relational health. Our example will be a woman who would like to be free of obsessions around a recent break-up in a relationship. Her partner was not very nice to her, called her names and blamed her for the issues in the relationship. He was unwilling to get help to resolve the issues as he felt she was manipulative and she needed to be more secure in herself in order for their relationship to succeed. She would become emotional and reactive when he was not willing to work out conflicts. She would cry for his attention to their ailing relationship.

She is stuck following the break-up. She wonders, “was I right, did he lack empathy and interest in an equal relationship, or was he right, am I insecure and manipulative?” She fluctuates between these polars constantly, trying to pick one as the truth. She needs meaning in order to move on and feel sure she is not repeating the same mistakes. And her brain cannot accept both of these at the same time as they are opposite truths. She earnestly pleas with her friends to get an objective view of the fault in the relationship and friends and family are defensive of her, condemning him for his behavior. She is left feeling lost and confused, her sense of reality and truth is shaken.

What then if she holds these polars together, he cares though is limited (for whatever reasons) empathetically and emotionally, AND she can improve her sense of security and self-esteem to keep from caring to control those she is in relationship with. Often when a partner is not responding to an emotional need, the individual will begin to use passive aggressive approaches to try to get the need met in another fashion, unconsciously attempting to manipulate the partner into meeting that need. These patterns are established much earlier in our lives with our caretakers and are repeated unconsciously because they are familiar relational dynamics – they feel like the norm and we know what to do with the norm. When the truth is clear around both polars being truth, she can begin to see that she cannot and will no longer try to control a relationship with someone that is not fully invested in the relationship’s growth – an unavailable partner. She can than be free to focus on her own well-being and accept relationships only with those that can show her emotional respect through their actions.

Voila! – she softens into truth and the energy is free flowing once again. Thank you polar thinking!

To polar thinking,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, EMDR, or sensorimotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows how to guide you through polar thinking 

in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

Fantasy, Dreams, and Falling in Love with Yourself

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Artwork by Kim Ottinger 2013

 

Recently an article in the NY Times has been circulating, “WHY YOU WILL MARRY THE WRONG PERSON.” Check it out and let’s delve a little deeper.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/opinion/sunday/why-you-will-marry-the-wrong-person.html?_r=0

Major kudos to the writer Alain de Botton for having the bravery to write such a vulnerable and powerful piece. It has raised eyebrows in the DC area for sure! I am grateful to resonate with many of his points, one of which is the role of the FAIRY TALE in our concept of romantic relationships and marriages.

As children, us millennials grew up on movies about princesses and princes, knights in shining armor, damsels in distress and fantasy.  Our template for relationships is: the man and the woman fall in love and live a fairy tale life, happily ever after.

Shortly after I was separated from my first husband, I came to the realization that romantic relationships and life is not, in fact, a fairy tale. For quite some time I was angry and felt foolish for believing what I was taught as a little girl, that I too was a princess who would meet the one and live happily ever after. With the end of my marriage, I began to question my worthiness and self-respect. What had I done to deserve something different? Was my life always going to be a series of people hurting me and disappointing me? Why was I going through this and what did I need to change in order to deserve a second try at a fairy tale? Was this my path, that I was doomed to experience over and over forever? I spent all of my energy trying to figure out how to set up my next relationship to be my true fairy tale. I dated, I went to therapy, I talked my friends’ ears off trying to find a solution. Finally the truth hit me square in the face.

The truth: Life is not really a fairy tale. Duh, right? I know this logically. AND yet there is the little girl inside of me that insists that it is. She and I had it out, we spent months fighting about how to perceive love and what beliefs to live by. The battle went on until I stopped and began to embrace her pain. The little girl in me had been hurt and disappointed by the misinformation she was fed as a young girl, that life is all unicorns, rainbows, and happily ever afters. Once I grieved this loss, the loss of the fairy tale, I began to heal. I began to learn what living is really about, enjoying the process of ups and downs in relationships and life. Life-force returned to my body and mind as I opened up to new possibilities. I needed a place for fantasy, dreaming, escape and play that was not solely my romantic life. I stopped dating and began to explore other areas of my life where I could experience creativity and dreams. I started to dream about my hobbies and career. Suddenly space opened for me to give energy and love to my career, friendships, self, and recreational activities. For the first time in my life, I fell in love with myself.

If we idealize our romantic relationships, they will likely end in disappointment. Relying solely on romantic relationships for our dreams and fantasy also diminishes the opportunity for us to fall in love with ourselves and other domains of our lives. We can create more space for romance with ourselves and our other life arenas by releasing the energy focused on idealization in our relationships. We can then allow more focus in our relationships to be around realistic experience of present connections in our relationships. We can then work to communicate openly, be vulnerable, be brave, and respect our partners. We can enjoy the messiness and mistakes and even the repairs in relationships, not expecting perfection or romance to be the sole experience of love. We can love fully while clearly communicating the boundaries of our own needs. Romantic partnerships are more about compassion, compromise, and communication. As a friend called it, a never ending conversation.

So I am proposing we consider a more balanced use of play, fantasy, and escape in our lives, not solely focused on idealizing romantic relationships. Rather than idealizing any one domain of life, spreading the dreaming and visioning equally throughout.

Humans need to take time to escape, to dream, to vision, and to play. Fantasy and escape are an important opportunity to turn off anxiety and connect with our souls on a deep level. This is where growth happens, through creative process which enlighten us to new possibilities. It is where the light peaks in and illuminates and opens up more space. We can connect with new possibilities for a personal fairy tale beyond just romance by taking time to create, participating in rituals, imagining, playing, envisioning, and connecting to something spiritually. Meditation is a great way to dream and it can even be done through playful and creative means like art making, walking, dancing, and music. Let’s fall in love with ourselves.

To FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF,

Kim Ottinger

To schedule a free 20 minute phone consult with Kim for art therapy, talk therapy, or sensorimotor therapy or to work with a therapist who knows what is like to fall in love with yourself in Washington, DC, email her at kim@yoursoultherapy.com

Why Badass Women Come to Therapy

In our private practice, we see some of the brightest and most ambitious women in Washington. They are well read, highly accomplished, and typically have checked off most items on their bucket lists. Outside of a deep wanderlust, what is missing in the lives of these women who know how to fully live? If you’re their friend, colleague, acquaintance, it looks like they have it all. These women would agree that most of the time, their lives feel amazing.

One might wonder why are badass women coming to therapy? Relationships.

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Whether they are single, dating, partnered, or divorced, these women don’t feel like themselves in intimate relationships.   They feel anything but badass.

Exhausted, Frustrated, and at times Heartbroken by a Never Ending Dating Process

Many single women have no problem dating, but they have not found the one despite many dates or relationships. A number of these women date the same partner twice, for 3 weeks, or things end by month 4.

Each time they meet a new someone, they continue to walk on what feels like the tight rope of dating. Should I be excited on the first date even though it probably won’t lead to anything? Maybe I should take a break from dating because it all feels like too much? They have no idea why they continue to get the same results.

They can’t understand why so many women around them are happily dating or partnered. They feel that something is innately wrong with them.

Women Dating Unavailable People

This often starts with dating the most charming, passionate, or promise-you-everything man or woman. The initial dating process is mind-blowing on many levels.

Then a shift happens. The women see that their man or woman is unavailable in one or more ways. The partners live in different countries and won’t move or meet in the middle. They may be workaholics and prioritize work over the relationship.   They may be in the pull me close, push me away dance with touch, play, interest, and intimacy on many levels.

Where there previously was all passion, spark, and play, there can be equal amounts of disappearing, confusion, passive aggressiveness, or anger. These women find that most of their partners are not just emotionally unavailable but are not wanting to make any promises or commitments.

They don’t understand why the continually find themselves with the same unavailable partners and burned at the end of the short lived relationships. When they dig deeper, parts of them don’t feel that they know how to be close to a healthy partner.

Women Who Struggle to Believe that Their Partners Love Them

For many partnered women in our practice, they cannot believe that their partner could love them as much as they do. Their partners continually show up, believe in them, and love them even in some of the most challenging situations.

These clients struggle with receiving love from their partners.

No matter what they read or how hard they try, they don’t know how to let love in. They don’t know how to feel the love that their partners are consistently giving them.   They are blocked for many reasons from trusting themselves and the person that wants to be close to them.   Fear, longing, anger, and grief along with chatter laced everyday worthlessness can be some things that take these women down emotionally.

 

Partnered Women: Who Want More

These women are in relationships that aren’t working anymore. Often the relationship was what they needed for months, years or even decades.

In recent months or years, these women have experienced a deeper sense of self awareness about their needs and desires or may have even had a spiritual awakening. Their partners have struggled to pace with them or grow in their own ways.

These women are wanting more for themselves, their relationships, and lives. It is often complex because families, friends and even children are intertwined. Some of the women are torn between taking care of someone who isn’t fully able to emotionally care for themselves. The dance of overfunctioning and underfunctioning resentment is released with forgiveness and compassion with the work.

Other women are able to finally take a stand for themselves. They have learned that taking up space in a relationship is a brave and healthy decision.

Moving from the Fight to Being ALL IN

None of the decisions or paths is easy, but these women have walked through the one or more dark nights of the soul in their relationships and dating experiences. In our work together, they learn the meaning and purpose of suffering. They connect with themselves as not to recreate that path or dance as means of waking themselves into consciousness. They have taken their learning and stepped into deeper connection with life, themselves and the people they care most. This process of transformation is radical and subtle at the same time. Badass women might fight this quest at the beginning, but are all in by the end.

If you are wanting to be ALL IN in your relationships, connect with Kim@yoursoultherapy.com or Amy@yoursoultherapy.com