by Stephanie McCrackenOctober 1, 2014 counseling, couples therapy, personal growth, psychotherapy0 comments
Of all of the things that we share on social media and otherwise, our successes, “I am so relieved! I finally graduated!” Our location “Strike, checking in at Hollywood lanes bowling alley come on down!” How inspiring to be virtually plugged, the possibility for connection in ways which can be meaningful and significant. The opportunity to influence, to brighten, reviving optimism and care. Of all of these things, there is one that I know to be true, a mystical mechanism which influences both the receivers and givers unequivocally. Sharing Love. As a psychotherapist working with individuals or married/dating couples, it is visible that how we share our love is often the deeper question veiled under anxiety, depression, communication trouble “I want to be better at giving and receiving love.”
Love is a mysterious and compelling source of both eternal vitality and confusion, in many ways it is humanities greatest quest since our earliest days of arboreal ascent in the vast tree limbs. The feeling of connection elicited when we share a bit of love with a long-time friend, our mother, or our lover. Love is for many a “raison de etre” and a stalwartly reason at that. Even when we are not in the midst of experiencing one of those loving moments we may be listening to, or writing a song, or perhaps creating a painting or other miraculous expression of our relationship to this divine sensation. There are so many places to see the manifestation of our hearts longing when we take the time to be present and perceive. Right there, do you see it? The elderly couple walking down the street gnarled and aching hands arthritically frozen into one pillar of hope. The mother poised with a sparkly eyed child on the park bench, it’s the man with a sole tear drop rolling from his cheek contemplating someone with aching heart. When we look to the world how much love can we see?
Reviving Minds Therapy would like to invite you to participate in our month long photo sharing campaign which we are calling “Revive Your Love.” We are asking participants to photograph and post an original photo which captures Love In Action to the “Revive Your Mind” Facebook or Twitter, use the hashtag “#reviveyourlove, we encourage contestants and our followers to vote by “liking” the photo that they feel most encapsulates their vision of love. All winners must have liked and followed the Revive Your Mind facebook or twitter page to be eligible for prizes. We ask that you post no more than one original photo per day, at the end of one month, the contestants photo with the most “likes” will receive 50$ Visa gift card, there will also be a 2nd place of 25$ Gift card and third place of 15$. Remember that everyone is a winner when we gaze into the world with that aim of seeing and sharing love. As always thank you for your readership and participation!
In warmth and love,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC & Nicole Monteleone MS LPC, NCC,
1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
Reviving Minds Therapy, Offering Individual Psychotherapy and Couples Therapy
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 24, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, personal growth, psychotherapy, sexuality1 comment
For those of us who are a part of a long term relationship, partnership, or marriage, there are endless competing demands, changing circumstances, ever evolving human structures, that constant flux of exchanging our time, attention, affection for the expectation that our partner will to attenuate towards meeting our needs for attention, affection, sexual and emotional satisfaction, understanding etc. Often though, circumstances change and things like long work hours leading to exhaustion, or even the mounting heap of unresolved conflicts may create a pattern accidental neglect or even purposeful withholding within the relationship. In the majority of contexts this people pleasing, asking for little, passive communication structure, the needing to be needed, more often belongs to the feminine among us, yet there too are men who are indeed comprised of these trappings. The person who may remain in the shadow holding our silent or not so silent candlelight vigil buoyed by the hope that we will be seen, heard, understood by our significant other yet our very hopeful approach may be causing ourselves and our relationship to suffer.
The problem may come in to play when we remain silent, in the hopes that our spouse, children, parents or friends will pick up on our subtle cues that we are in need. All too often, this doesn’t happen and in turn we may retreat into brooding, passive aggressive communication including sarcasm and coldness, depression, loss of faith in the relationship, anger or a number of other maladaptive patterns. We can become so frozen in our non-direct approach to having our needs for power, choice, child rearing, financial distribution, household chores, pepperoni on the pizza, that we can no longer imagine what it would look like if we said “no thank you, I’m not in the mood for sex tonight” or “I could really use some help with getting the house ready for the 4th of July party.” Instead we may simply plod along, share our bodies with our partners when we don’t really want to so as to not disrupt any ego, we take on more chores than we have time to do because we don’t want to ask or even because we don’t think that we are worthy of help or that we should be able to do it all.
With all of the aforementioned examples there is an exorbitant cost, the psychological burden of betraying your kernel of authentic impulse. That tiny bud of truth which remains above and beyond the compulsion to fulfill duty of what you erroneously declare that you “should” do. For purposes of this consideration, you may want to contemplate upon that authentic impulse to not take on more than you logically and happily can, the healthy and whole part of you which states, enough is enough for today, the essential you which wants to draw boundaries and ask for your fair share of help! Just for today, maybe you will consider expounding upon the naysayer, and the demanding inner part of you. In recognizing that that part of you may be buried beneath layers of reasons, memories of relationships which may have encouraged or fostered you to build retaining walls, the enclosures which separate us from our true essence and the kind of soulful engagement which our highest self can compel, yet just for today and just perhaps you can channel that inner warrior and recognize that a whole voice doesn’t always sing the most pleasing of melodies.
In health and wholeness,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy/and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenFebruary 4, 2014 couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, personal growth, psychotherapy, Uncategorized0 comments
Why Searching for a Soul Mate is Damning to Love
Soul mates, the stuff of fantasies, dreams come true, love at first sight and also quite likely among the reasons you may find yourself hurling towards disappointment when encountering real life love! A soul mate is a notion born from Christianity, the story is simple; at one time all souls frolicked in their natural and divine state of male female merger, we were celestial and reflecting wholeness. Then our souls were ripped apart and cast down to the earth leaving us with a longing which can only be subsided by the reunion of ourselves with our one “other half”. An interesting fact is that the western world nations practicing Christianity and love marriages suffer from exorbitantly high divorce rates compared to nations which may have practiced arranged marriages where the emphasis becomes working towards harmony.
A soul mate unintentionally dismisses the actual and expansive realities of true love by instead distracting a would-be lover with damaging beliefs such as “love at first sight.” In the soul mate version of love, emptiness and longing are the implications of living without ones eternal mate and the only remedy appears as the divine salve upon having found ones soul mate. When pirouetting from life’s various stages, including romantic encounters one may easily fall susceptible to the guise that wholeness has been reached, sustaining the faulty belief that the soul has become whole in those first throes of ecstatic merger. I assure you that any relationship which is built upon the understanding that perfection will be reached by the merging of two halfs, falsely acting upon the understanding that wholeness is only sustained by consolidating two empty jars; any such union will erode and suffer from disappointment and ensuing bitter resentment among a host of other maladies. Do not despair for this is no argument against love, this is a cautionary semblance meant to yield the reader towards a more mature and viable assembly of the hearts potential melodic chord!
I do not want to execute your love but I do want to help you to develop realistic expectations for romance and loving feelings. Love is not a magical act whereby to opposites attract or two fateful spirits find their missing piece. The act of loving is a skill set, to love is a verb implying that there is some action, exertion of effort, a labor of love indeed. Thus far we have established that love takes work and love requires two whole parts. A loving union offers many challenges but its rewards are tenfold. How does one find the harmonious chord when bringing together two humans with their own unique set of wants, needs, values, manners of loving and being? The answer is carefully, mindfully, and with intention.
Ways to move beyond the notion of soul mate and develop strong and healthy relationships
Approach from wholeness Feeling sad, lonely, inadequate? These are not places from which a healthy relationship can be born, a “soul mate” meant to complete your empty parts is a set up for failure. Equally for all of the white knights and Florence Nightingales, it may somehow speak to your fractured psyche to purchase a fixer upper but saving someone else or teaching them art of living skills will inevitably be dehumanizing and resentment building for both parties. The best we can ever do is to hone our own self-worth, know our ever evolving abilities and work to create some confidence in them so that we can enjoy sharing those attributes with others who can extend the very same!
Love takes work One must be willing to exert effort in the creation of a smooth and solid relationship. This will require you to leave behind the infantile suggestion of perfect mergers manifested by the divine, the stuff of this world requires honing interpersonal skills, speaking and being authentically, embodying compassion, trust, care, believe, compromise, caress, challenge. The list could go on forever indeed but I am sure most of you are already aware of that!
Know thy self, Socrates may have been the first to mention, the unexamined life is not worth living! Get to know yourself and develop a strong loving relationship with you! If you are hiding a ton of shame or uncertainties about the car you drive, your job, your interests and you want to create a relationship with someone able to “show you the way” then I assure you that even if you do meet a potential love match you will be starting the relationship off on shaky ground. Have respect for your unique being and as you become better equipped to share your presence authentically you will be far more likely to create similar relationships, the kind based on mutual likes, passions, values, and respect.
Don’t expect too much but never settle Sometimes settling may mean allowing the relationship or the self to fall into deterioration during the course of long term togetherness. Nurturing love requires one to constantly grow, maintain physical, emotional, spiritual growth. That which remains stagnant and rigid is bound to break but that which eternally renews shall remain strong and vital like the river flowing.
Forget about finding the perfect fairy tale lover, evolve into the best “YOU” Often in relationships men and women tirelessly search for that other who will allow the harmony and happiness to flow into their life. Yet beyond creating love based upon compatible personality, values, and interests that which prohibits the loving union is often to be found within our very own selves. As Rumi so profoundly proffers “Seek not for love but to remove all of the barriers within oneself which prevent it.”
I leave you with this contemplation, what part of you can be removed so that you my friends and readers are best able to share a love?
With a warm heart and lots of love,
Stephanie M McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling