Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Feeling Love

Feeling love makes it possible to love someone else. This is something we often tend to forget when others do not feel the love we have for them. Without being able to feel love it is difficult to induce this feeling in someone else, even if you love this person with all your heart and all your soul. It is therefore important to love yourself first, before you can make someone else feel loved. You cannot turn off love because this would endanger your happiness, your progress, and even life on earth as we know it. But once you learn more about the wonder of love, you can make it a force and a partner in the things you do. And once you can feel it and learn more about it, you can make other people feel it as well.

Many other emotions work in a similar way. You need to feel an emotion before you can make someone else feel it. Neurobiologically this makes sense. The other person receives your verbal and nonverbal communication. It s then decoded in the brain and activates brain centers that specialize in certain emotions, such as anger or love/attachment. Thus if you interact with someone and feel something strongly they will notice it, even if they do not become aware of it. If you remember a time where you were feeling in a particular way, and thereby trigger an emotion, that works as well. So to make someone feel happy you can think of a situation when you were feeling happy yourself, and this feeling then is communicated with the words you say and the gestures you make. It is automatic and you do not even have to be aware of it. But one requirement is that you must feel or have felt genuine happiness to make someone feel happy. It works the same with love. If you feel loved when talking to someone, it is probably because that person is feeling love as well. Or, if you feel angry when listening to someone, the anger could just be about something that upsets you, but it might as well be the other person's anger which is communicated to. Distinguishing among the latter ones depends on how well you know yourself.

In my work I often observed that when people enable themselves to tap into their emotional experiences, communication about their experiences became easier. A good test for you as the listener is to ask yourself whether you are beginning to feel an emotion that is congruent with what the other person is talking about. Do you feel happiness as the other is telling you a happy story? If you can feel that the emotion you are feeling matches the story the other person is telling, it indicates the other person is connecting healthily with his or her emotions and inner feelings. Communication as a whole, whether verbal or nonverbal, is congruent. If they do not match, this could point to an internal conflict, which I have seen again and again in people who were also suffering from anxieties, depression, burn out, and a number of other psychological health problems. If there is an inner conflict, it could mean that people deny the emotions they feel, at least subconsciously, at the moment and which they induce in you. Realizing that the other person is experiencing an inner conflict and learning about yourself can help you sort out what you are really feeling towards this person. Since it is difficult to change someone else, you should start with learning more about yourself. Opening up yourself to this learning process is facilitated by loving yourself.

If you are the person speaking about your feelings, observe if and which emotions you are eliciting in the other person. Even when you talk about a seemingly different topic, the emotions you feel when you interact with someone else are usually communicated as well. So the other person can also mirror you how you really feel. Professionals are quite good at providing this sort of feedback to clients because they are experienced in separating feelings that are unrelated to the client from those which are actually coming from the client. In other instances, you have to develop a sense for which reaction in the other person is a reaction to something you communicated and did and which is a reaction to the other person's own life experiences and memories. Holding them apart takes practice and training.

Opening up oneself can be scary, and I have seen many people who were afraid to let someone else see how they feel inside. The route to letting go of this fear is learning more about yourself. Some may fear that they could be rejected or hurt, or even become dependent on the person they open up to, but this is actually not true if it is really a 'opening up'. Opening up means that you are doing something for yourself without expecting anything else in return except to gain a better understanding of how you feel and interact with the world. Mostly the other person will open up as well, or, in a professional setting, try to help you with the process of opening up.

A person may leave you, but this only has a devastating effect if instead of opening up to the world you only opened up to this one person and no one else. To avoid this from happening, grant your emotions some freedom and do not think in terms of how you must feel, just feel how you really feel about them. The more you know about yourself the more you realize that what you love in them is something you also have inside you. Once you see what you have inside you and at the same time love yourself, you can really love others, and do so from the strength of freedom.

Humans are afraid of emotions in a world that seems so rational. We like to put our emotions in little boxes and attach them firmly to people and events so as to categorize them and create an illusion of control which is really not more than a wish for something that interferes more with one's life than that it helps. Maybe one of the things we are most scared of are the emotions that float freely without being fixated anywhere which could move us to do things that could lead us to losing our finely tuned balance in the world. But movement is really what emotions are all about, a motion without (the 'e' in e-motion). The problem begins when we are afraid of our own emotions. A panic attack, for example, in which someone has the feeling of dying is really a fear of one's own fears. It is not a fear of death, since usually there is no real risk of death, but a fear of a fear of death. Our emotions become fearful when we do not trust them. If you feel love you want to listen into yourself to make sure it is love and not dependence or fear in disguise. But once you did that, grant it the freedom it deserves. Other emotions can also often be dealt quite well with, when you learn to identify and communicate them constructively in interactions with other people and return them to their freedom.

If someone left us why do we continue feeling love? The reason is that love, feeling interpersonal bonds and attachment in a truly magnificent way, is what links us both to ourselves and the world around us. It is the glue in the communication web we live in, and which we need for our survival and happiness. And if, for whatever reason, if one does not feel the power to make someone else feel in a certain way anymore, this can be disturbing. Often people do not have an explanation for it, and begin to look for one, which leads them even further down in a spiral of self-doubts. Don't! The best way to avoid this altogether is to learn about yourself and to love yourself, then you will quickly find someone else again to create mutual feelings of love with. It begins with understanding yourself, because this is far easier to understand someone else, which I can tell you with many years of experience listening to people who tried to crystal gaze someone else. Even the other person may not know what he or she feels, or why, so how could you?

Understanding one's emotions is to tap into an enormous source of power, which can help you persist and continue on your way in situations that are far from ideal. Learning about love is to use one of the greatest forces there is because it is so central to the social networks we live in, and which everything that lives in this world relies on. It means becoming better at decoding the information you receive from your senses and from within your own body because love is the emotion of attachment and bonding. As you are moving closer to those who are sending you messages you become better at interpreting and understanding those messages. When you love your customers or clients, you almost overnight become more successful because you understand them better. What about being your own client?

Many people do not listen anymore. They have become detached from their own bodies and minds. I have worked with many people who learned, sometimes for the first time, how to interpret and understand the signals from their own bodies. A good number of people feel fear, when underneath it there is really excitement. Misinterpreting excitement as fear is something you often see in people suffering from anxieties and panic attacks. Just helping them feel and understand themselves better allowed them to eclipse their fears within a short time. It is the same with love. Many people think they feel love when what they really feel may be a fear of loneliness or anger at their family, or some other dependency generating emotion, which is light years away from love in the real sense. When you really feel love, there is nothing that can hurt you but a force that can make you stronger in personal life or business. You do not have to attach it to anything, but if you truly love those connected to a goal or vision you will not believe the difference it can make in your life.

Loving yourself and then extending it to others may really feel like stepping up to an entirely new level of existence. One problem is that our society applauds those who acquire positive knowledge and then rationally apply it, but we need more of those who can use their experiences to come up with creative and innovative solutions and communicate their experiences as humans in novel forms. Love is always novel and communicates our human experience on this planet better than much else. It lets us build those networks of relationships that let us do awe-inspiring things. Love has a ripple effect. If I feel your love, I can pass on even more, and this is how much of the relationship building happens in the world. A hushed emotion on one side of the world can bring about much needed motivation on the other. It simply starts with tapping into that endless reservoir inside.

We are more likely to give those things which we have experienced ourselves. It is like a writer who can tell a more vivid and believable story if she is writing from her own experiences. Feeling love means not only means opening up yourself to yourself and a significant other, but to the whole world. It strengthens because feeling a deficit inside weakens. Loving yourself is an important first step towards loving others. In order to feel more love one has to open up the communication channels to others. Opening up means integrating oneself into the web of life.
Interesting books on communication by this and other authors:
Suggestions for further exploration: &
© 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction and/or dissemination prohibited. Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Always consult a professional if the situation and/or the risks warrant it. Thank you for your interest in my work. This means very much to me. Trademarks belong to their respective owners. If this article is marked as a work of fiction all references to persons, living or deceased, or organizations, including former ones, are coincidental. I know that this is reiterating the obvious, but thanks for bearing with me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Love Yourself

The commandment of neighborly love form the Christian bible is well known, "love thy neighbor as you love yourself". As humans we still seem to be far away from this goal, which becomes obvious anytime you turn on the TV or hear people talk about their relationships or workplaces. But there is a part of this biblical message which often goes overlooked, that of self-love.
Loving oneself does not mean narcissistic self-love, which is not really love but overcompensated insecurity in disguise. It also does not mean ego-centrism which means seeing oneself as the center of the universe. We know this cannot be true for any world with more than one person in it.
But self-love is important because if we do not love ourselves how can we love any other person if we are to love the other the same as ourselves? It is the starting point for self-confidence and success.
Many people find it hard to love themselves and replace self-love with the narcissistic love mentioned above. But in the long-run it is unfulfilling to pretend one is desirable because deep down most people can see through it. Many of us are in a rat race for the goals they halfheartedly believe in, often for a little piece of love and attention they thirst for. If they were loving themselves they simply would not have to do that. So, the question becomes how to love oneself.
Absent self-love is often a result of not thinking oneself as worthy of love. I have heard many people tell me about the parts of themselves are somehow 'damaged' or 'soiled' and they would like to get rid of. Out of this feeling of deficit comes an idea that is even more destructive. Love is something one can and has to work for. This concept is at the root of the problem why we engage in self-destructive behavior. We believe we have to work for something that cannot be earned, and so our efforts and the limits we are willing to transgress spiral upwards. However, the moment you realize that love cannot be earned and that you can actually give it yourself all this becomes unnecessary. A person who loves herself or himself becomes infinitely attractive to the world, and the best part of it is that it does not require anything. You already do it but cannot believe that you do it.
There is one person you can always love, and should love, and that is yourself. Since everything you do, including loving someone else, has to be through you, you need to love yourself to be able to love someone else. And loving really worth it, because it truly makes you feel better when you can give something many times over that you value highly yourself. My observation over the years have been that many people can trust others and a more positive about the world than it seems, even if they had a difficult past, but they first have to learn to trust and love themselves. Even if you sacrifice yourself for someone else, this can only be out of love if you love yourself, which makes much martyrdom and self-sacrifice not acts of love but a psychological problem.
So what to do if you find it difficult to love yourself. The first step is to realize that you may have to change how you see yourself. Often the problem stems from unpleasant and negative experiences in the past. A twisted magical belief sets in that shedding one's self will also dispose of the negative experiences one had to endure. However, the more mature solution is to accept that the past has happened and as a compensation be especially good to oneself. We can embrace and console others, but what about our own self that had to endure difficult times? Many professionals have experience with helping one work through this. And you will see, that once you are there for yourself you can be there for others who are struggling through difficult times themselves.
Loving oneself not only helps deal with psychological reactions to negative experiences, but it also means more happiness and greater success. The reason for the last point is that people who can experience a healthy self-love come across as more authentic and genuine. You are more likely to have confidence in those who have confidence in themselves.

Interesting books on communication by this and other authors:
If you want to find out more about communication and how it can help you: &
© 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction and/or dissemination prohibited. Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it. Thank you for your interest in my work. This means very much to me. Trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Mantra of Internet Dating

Should I do internet dating, you may be thinking if you are reading this article. This is something I cannot tell you, but I know one thing, it is getting more common by the minute, and not just locally but also globally. People do it in China as they do in America and Germany. Does it work? Yes and No. Some knowledge can help you succeed, while lack of it often leads to failure. Here are some ideas to keep in mind if you want to follow this path:
  1. Don’t set your expectations too high, or too low. It works quite similar to regular dating. Some will repel you, with others you click instantaneously. Give those who don’t look like psychopaths a limited chance. You might actually make a number of new friends.
  2. Don’t endanger yourself. That should actually go without saying, but it never fails to amaze me what people are willing to do to meet people they have never seen in person. Why do for a stranger you have met in a chat group what you would not do for a friend? Don’t meet someone in the remote barn by the fifth ditch on the left, or any place which could provide the backdrop for a horror film. People holding cinematic props should make you run, or better drive, for the next hamlet.
  3. Consider taking the ‘psychological tests’ offered by the sites. No, I am serious. As someone who knows a little about these things I actually have to say the ones on the more serious sites are sometimes quite cleverly engineered. A lot of thinking went into them. Ever took the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory? If not, this might be your last and only chance to take it for free. The results should be taken with a grain of salt though, and sometimes even be buried under a massive rock, but remember if the test is as skewed when analyzing your next partner, the match could still be, well, perfect.
  4. Decide on a favorite site. If you want to do it well you will spend most of your time on the site that clicks with you. Any other site would be a waste of time. If you like this one best, your matching future partner should like it too.
  5. Pay. Yes, on the worthwhile sites you don’t get anything of value for free. They are in the business of making money and if they provide superior tools the ads don’t seem to pay enough or look out of place. I haven’t seen a serious service yet where you could actually meet people for free. This is one reason to focus on one or two top sites. Use the other in their free mode for casual acquaintances, new friends, etcetera, but on your top site, if you want to find someone for real, don’t be too stingy. It’s still far cheaper than doing it the old way since you don’t have to pay for dinner at an expensive restaurant. Once you reach that point, your dinner guests will be preselected and you don’t have to pay for the glutton who only cares about the food on the table.
  6. Get to know them physically. Take a quick look at point two again, it is very relevant in these crazy (but oh so exciting) times. Don’t lead an entire relationship on the internet as a substitute for getting kicked out of second life. Don’t laugh. I have known more than one person who ended up with a virtual relationship. If the birthplace in your passport is real you won’t be entirely satisfied with virtual love.
  7. Write and talk about your experiences. Especially successful internet daters treat their meeting place in the virtual world as a dirty secret. You might start telling two different stories about that romantic place where you met. Don’t. There are so many lonely people out there and they deserve a chance to meet on a dating site, or a word of caution, as well. Break the silence and you will help others.

Books on communication by this and other authors:
If you want to find out more about communication and how it can help you: &
(c) 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction and/or dissemination prohibited. Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it. Thank you for your interest in my work. This means very much to me. Trademarks belong to their respective owners.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Deadly Secret: Silence in Relationships

Many people believe that conflict means the end of a relationship, and so they try to avoid it at any cost. My experience as a counselor having worked frequently with couples taught me something else. The one thing to avoid in building and maintaining a relationship is silence!
Silence suffocates a relationship because communication, including the partner's small everyday gestures we fall in love with, keeps a relationship alive and active. Heated discussions or an emotional argument can actually be a part of a relationship's repertoire of communication rituals, so long as no one gets hurt emotionally or, God forbid, physically. The purpose of any form of communication, verbal, non-verbal, reasoned or highly emotional, is to send meaning from one partner to the other. Every time we send a meaningful message, which we may even be unaware of, we effect a change in the other, and that is what keeps relationships alive. A relationship is a  never ending dance in which partners bring about beautiful small changes in each other, regardless of their current situation, age or other external factors.
However, whenever in couple sessions partners did not speak with each other, which not infrequently became all too apparent when they turned their bodies to face away from each other, then my colleagues and I knew this relationship was at an existential crisis point. If the partners had stopped talking with each other gradually over an extended stretch of time, seemingly over nothing, then getting them to talk with each other again often went a long way to save the relationship.
How to get the ball going again in your relationship depends on your situation and each partner's personality and communication style. Attempts at communication should not erect hurdles that are too high for either partner to make it across. Often just talking about talking can help. Small steps in this area usually drive the larger successes. An early life sign of a relationship in couple's work is that the partners begin to talk, not seldom for the very first time, about the way they communicate with each other and how they both share meaning. Outside help, from common friend to counselor, can be a valuable help to make it through this phase successfully. It needs to be mentioned that there are situations where attempts at communication may not be the first concern or could even be counterproductive, such as in abusive or highly dysfunctional relationships, and where professional outside help should be sought quickly. But in most cases I have seen how communication really worked miracles and brought relationships and each partner's happiness to an entirely new level.

Books on communication by this and other authors:
If you want to find out more about communication and how it can help you: &

(c) 2013 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction and/or dissemination prohibited. Please note that no professional advice of any sort can be given in this blog. Always consult a professional if the situation warrants it. Thank you for your interest in my work. This means very much to me. Trademarks belong to their respective owners.