Communication Tip # 4: Understanding the differences between Extroverts and Introverts
A common communication problem arises when an unaware extrovert talks to an unaware introvert. Neuro-science has revealed that there are organic differences in the way information is processed in the brain which can result in communication problems and misunderstandings. (See illustration above.)
For example, when an extrovert, who typically not only loves to talk but also learns through conversation, talks to an introvert, who does not like to talk and learns by mulling things over in his/her mind privately, s/he can flood the introvert with too much information. The person who is being overstimulated can come across as disinterested or not paying attention or even irritated when, in fact, his/her circuits are simply overloaded.
Fortunately, there are some simple tips to overcome this processing mismatch which help avoid confusion and conflicts.
1) Be aware of differences. Not everyone thinks or processes like you do.
2) Know what you are. Are you more Extroverted or Introverted ?
3) If you are an Extrovert and are having problems with someone who may be introverted --
Be considerate and think or write about what you want to say before actually saying it. If the communication is important you may want to send a written summary of your thoughts to the other person in advance so that they may have time to process and digest the message.
4) If you are an Introvert -
Be aware of becoming overwhelmed before you reach your limit and let the other person know that you need a break to think things over before continuing.
With a little practice, assertiveness and consideration, you will find that folks with whom you used to have difficulty communicating are no longer a problem. Knowing your own information-processing style and respecting folks whose style is different than yours can go along way to improving the way we talk with one another and get along.
Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC , Fellow A.A.P.C. 2 21 2017
Aristophanes’ Myth of Androgyne and the Soulful Meanings of Love
As Valentine’s Day approaches, our thoughts turn to love. Of course there are many kinds of love : The love of a parent for a child or a child for a parent; the love between brothers and sisters ; the love for family and friends. Romantic love, however, is the most mysterious of all. It is complex and made up of many parts.
The Greeks understood love (eros) as a passionate feeling and sensational impulse for sexual union. Christians spoke of a selfless love for others (agape) While we often think of love in terms of positive or passionate feelings, there is another kind of love which goes beyond the altruistic or sensual realms. Aristotle likened this transcendent dimension to one soul which inhabits two bodies. Aristophanes tells a story of androgyne in Plato’s Symposium which explains the soul’s deep longing for union. http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/sym.htm
According to Aristophanes, originally there were three kinds of people: men women and men-women. (androgyne). The shape of the androgynous people (Pictured above) was curious. Each person had two faces, four arms and four legs and two sets of genitals. As the story goes, as punishment for their rebellion, Zeus ordered that the androgynous people be split in two. As a result, the soul of androgynous person experienced a terrible loss and sought to reunite with his lost half to become whole again. This longing for a missing part and to be whole again expresses the deep longing of romantic love.
The notion of a primal separation is central to our understanding of human nature in the Judeo- Christian and Islamic thinking. Specifically, the metaphor is about humans being separated from God’s love. This dilemma is conveyed in the Garden of Eden myth. Adam and Eve being driven from the garden and away from God’s grace provides the context for Christian redemption which is the healing of the rift between human kind and God. God’s love makes this reunion possible. Much like Aristophanes’ understanding, the Biblical notion of love is not a sexual feeling or passion but a force for primordial reunion.
While modern culture is pretty much bereft of either Greek mythology or even Old Testament notions of estrangement, we still find vestiges of these ancient myths. Although we still use the word androgyny, it has nothing to do Aristophanes’ third sex. It has come to mean an appearance which combines both male and female characteristics or is gender ambiguous. Nonetheless, we hear echoes from the past in romantic clichés such as “you complete me” or when one spouse refers to the other as his/her “other half”.
Likewise, the Valentine’s Day heart, is much more than a catchy logo. The universal symbol for love expresses emotion. Love is not a rational experience. It is not a thing of logical deduction. Love is a feeling which transcends thought and as springs from the depths of one’s soul.
While it is not popular, to think of oneself as incomplete or as needing another person to be fulfilled, there is, nonetheless, a primal loneliness which overshadows our defiant attempts to assert our individual independence and autonomy. At some deeper level, we celebrate Valentine’s Day as both an affirmation of our need for love and the overwhelming joy finding it brings. I hope for your Valentines’ Day to be a celebration of the gift of love.
Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC, Fellow, A.A.P.C. 2 3 2017
The Myth of "Holding on to" the Past
It's the new year and many of you would like to leave the old year behind. Some may be frustrated that it is hard to "let go". One common cliche that I'm sure that you've seen or heard before is the one posted above. And it's true that you can't move on in life until are freed from the weight of the past. However, the idea that progress is restrained or blocked because we "hold on to" the past is not only misleading but is also fundamentally mistaken about the psychology of grieving and loss. A better way to understand our stuckness is that the grief we experience after a loss has a hold on us. Or, even better, that the light, the hope, which lets us see and believe in the positive things in our life has gone out.
Recent developments in neuro-science have helped us to better understand how it is we become trapped in the darkness of the past and unable to see our way forward. Serious loss, whether it comes in the form of a death of a relationship, a job or physical health, to name but a few kinds of bereavement , is traumatic to our brain. It temporarily causes the connection between our perceptions and our neo-cortex (the human part of our brain) to be disrupted and leaves us to navigate life with pre-human part of our brain called the amygdale.
While the neo-cortex is able to evaluate incoming perceptional data and put it into a reasonable context, the amygdale operates within a panic mode which is only able to determine if one should attack or run away. Life lived under the control of the amygdale is terror-filled and hopeless. Gradually (and the time needed varies dramatically from individual to individual) the connection to the neo-cortex is reestablished and the ability to reason and experience hope and purpose are restored.
Remaining physically active, journaling , psychotherapy, medication are some of the ways that speed recovery but, again, it is very important for the grieving person to have the support of understanding and accepting friends and family who realize that it is not the person's fault or the lack of desire which is responsible for the delay of recovery to happen. Grieving in most cases is a very slow process and is frustrating not only to the person who is going through it but also for those who care about and love the individual.
Patience is the primary virtue to exhibit with someone who is grieving. Being around someone who is stuck in the pain of loss is difficult but it is important for us to deal with and process our frustrations apart from the griever. Blaming or suggesting that the person in grief should just "get over it" as the radio host Dr. Laura used to do is not only insensitive but is essentially counter-productive.
When a person can accept that emotional losses take time to heal just as physical injuries do, and when they cannot be weighed down by self-criticism that they "don't want" to move on, the process of regaining the experience of hope is accelerated and time needed to get back to normal is shortened.
Rev. Michael Heath, LMHC, Fellow A.A.P.C. 1 15 2017
Being Reasonable about New Year's Resolutions:
Understanding your Reluctance to Change.
Happy New Year !
As we start the new year, many will feel the pressure to make and keep resolutions. While wanting to make changes and make improvements is a good thing, it can become a source of stress if change is not approached realistically.
The crucial factor in keeping and following through on commitments to change is whether the change is wanted or not. Promising to do something that you feel you must do but don't want to lowers you statistical odds of succeeding.
For example, if you doctor tells you that you must lose weight but you really aren't ready to give up on the sweets or the high carbs in your diet or you hate to exercise, then the likely hood of you being able to motivate yourself sufficiently to do what is needed is low.
Even when "most" of you wants to make to change, the parts that are resistant to doing it can cause big trouble. Rather than trying to push throuhg or ignore the relutance, it is best to try to understand why part of you doesn't want to make the effort and keep your resolution.
Here is the secret that many folks don't understand: We don't give up on resolutions because we are lazy or stupid. We fail to succeed because important obstacles or problems caused by the proposed changes have not been resolved. It is important to remember that your objections to change are legitimate and need to be adequately addressed.
For example, if you eat or smoke when you are nervous and you want to go on a diet or quit smoking , the the problem of what you will do to reduce your anxiety remains. Successful weight loss and smoking cessation, for example, usually happen when alternative stress relieving strategies are found and mastered.
Improving yourself is good but being kind to yourself is important as well. Before you make or agree to a new year's resoution, hve a plan , think about and try out the new measures that will replace what you are giving up . Good Luck !
Rev. Michael Heath , LMHC, Fellow A.A.P.C. 1 2 2017