Why You Find Yourself Saying What You Don’t Mean

Why You Find Yourself Saying What You Don’t Mean

Do you ever find yourself saying what you don’t mean?

 

Have you ever noticed that when we are most afraid of getting emotionally hurt, our natural instinct is to behave in ways that actually make things worse, not better? 

When we feel we are being blamed, our instinct is to blame the other and often this involves saying what you don’t mean.

  • When our feelings are hurt, our instinct is to hurt the other’s feelings
  • When we feel rejected, our instinct is to reject the other
  • When we are feeling ignored, our instinct is to ignore the other
  • When anything makes us uncomfortably vulnerable, our instinct is to protect ourselves


So much for “two wrongs don’t make a right.” 

Saying what you don't mean
Saying what you don’t mean happens for a reason, and there is actually an explanation for how we can KNOW one thing (I know I don’t want to leave her.) and say or do another (tell her I’m over this, we are done.)? We actually have two different kinds of “knowing” that we experience. 

  • LOGICAL/CONSCIOUS KNOWING – One part of knowing occurs in our conscious mind, also called our cerebral cortex. This part of our brain is logical, conscious, and the problem-solving part of our brain. We hold conversations with ourselves here (it’s our inside voice).

 

  • INSTINCTIVE/UNCONSCIOUS KNOWING – The second kind of knowledge comes from our reptilian brain. This part of our brain is unconscious. There is no inside voice here. The unconscious mind is responsible for our instinctive reactions. This is like a massive network of shortcuts that our brain has been programmed with to ensure our ability to respond quickly in a crisis.


The unconscious reptilian brain is reactive and acts quickly without consulting our logical mind. This part of our brain is famous for it’s limited, but the speedy-fast selection of coping responses that include: fight, flight, freeze, play dead or submit.

For example, some unconscious programming may look like this:

  • touch hot stove > move hand away quickly
  • car driving toward you > leap out of the way
  • baseball flying toward your face > put your hand up to protect face or dodge the ball
  • someone is yelling at you > *depends on early programming
  • you fear rejection > * depends on early programming
  • your feelings are hurt > *depends on early programming

* When it comes to perceived threats such as someone using a raised voice with you, how you respond is based on how you learned to respond to this behavior as a child. Everyone’s experiences shape their responses according to what you learned was most effective with the people around you. The opposite of this is an open and curious mind. (Do you have an open and curious mind? Read more here.)

Your early life experiences taught you through trial and error how to negotiate different moods, behaviors, personalities, etc. to get what you wanted or needed to feel emotionally or physically safe. Once our brain identifies the best response (the one that results in what we want or need to survive), we will use this response repeatedly and without thinking about it, when we are in a similar future situation. We will continue using this response until we realize with BOTH parts of our brain (logical and instinctive) that this response is no longer working. 

Our logical mind and our automatic brain each have their own version of “knowing.” The cerebral cortex knows what it is taught, and this knowledge is cognitive, intellectual, and conceptual. Our reptilian brain, which is unconscious, knows what has worked in the past to keep us alive. This knowing is intuitive, felt, sensed, also learned, and automatic. Sometimes what we learn logically does not match what our unconscious brain learned instinctively a long, long time ago. 

For example, imagine that growing up you frequently heard your parents have loud conflicts. You felt your heart rate pounding in your chest, and you felt sick to your stomach with fear about what might happen. Eventually, one of them would then leave the house for an unexpected length of time after these fights. As a child, upon your parent’s return, you expressed your disapproval, hurt and feelings of abandonment by not engaging with the parent who left; by shutting them out. 

Eventually, either your parent would respond in a way that helped calm your system (come to you, apologize and reassure you that everything is okay) or the silence was useful in creating enough distance from the source of your pain that you could calm your system and you could eventually reenter a connection with that parent. The successful resolution of your pain by being silent sent your brain the message that this was a good strategy. Now your brain is wired with the shortcut: raised voices > silence.

Fast forward to adulthood. Imagine that your partner raises their voice. Your system is alerted to danger. When this happens, your body quickly releases a chemical cocktail designed to protect you. Your body is suddenly sweating, your heart is racing, and you feel sick to your stomach (look for a future message about this chemical process, and how affects you). Your logical brain may be telling you that your partner isn’t mad at you, she’s just trying to share her feelings with you. But soon your instinct is to shut down, to be silent. So you do, and you stay quiet until your system feels safe again.  

It doesn’t matter to you if you are saying what you don’t mean, even if you know that you are making things worse for your relationship. At this moment, your system is more concerned about surviving this PERCEIVED EMOTIONAL THREAT than it is concerned with responding to the issues being communicated with a raised voice.  

What’s important about this information is:

• We are all operating with two parts of our brain at the same time: one conscious, one unconscious, and both are designed to help keep us alive and feeling emotionally safe.

• When we become activated or feel unsafe, we are at risk of responding with the same skills we learned at age 6 or 12 or 15, etc. when our automatic responses were first programmed

• Our failed efforts to protect ourselves from hurt are a clue that we are allowing our unconscious brain to lead the show. What we learned as a child to keep us safe now needs to be updated because it’s no longer useful.

• Being sensitive to, and patient with ourselves and our partner will improve our ability to grow into new and improved responses to our pain. Believe them when they say they didn’t mean what they said… it’s likely true.

• Though you can not communicate directly with your reptilian/ unconscious brain, you can observe your body’s reactions/sensation and notice when you are responding with behaviors that don’t seem to work. For example, my heart rate increased when her voice got louder, and I had an overwhelming urge to disengage and be silent.

• With these observations, you can ask yourself this simple question, “When have I felt this way before?” The answers will give you insight into what kind of programming is filed in your unconscious brain.

• Once you get clarity about the trigger (raised voice), and you notice how you respond (silence), you can be more CONSCIOUS (that’s the key) of this dance you engage in and begin practicing new responses to see what will work better now that you are an adult and have access to more coping response options.

Do you know what your imago is and how it can help your relationship?

Imago Therapy and my Imago Match

Because I am certified to provide imago therapy, and I help couples unravel how they become an imago match when a couple comes to me for help with their relationship, one of the first things I ask is, “What did you have for dinner last night?” It is amazing how much I can learn from this question, unearthing volumes of information about the couple without their even realizing it.

Uh, you know I’m not being serious, right?

While my obsession with relationships stems as far back as I can remember, my desire for couples-counseling-super-powers started when I read this book: Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix. This book changed everything. It was just one of those moments where I knew. I knew exactly who I was, who I was to become, and the path I needed to walk. I was immediately fascinated by the power of understanding our imago match, and how imago therapy can help improve relationships.

That’s the thing about therapy – it’s easy to believe that anything a therapist says. I tend to be that way with mechanics, plumbers, electricians, and web designers. I generally assume that if this is their specialty, they know what they are talking about. Sometimes, however, like the time I had my transmission “fixed,” specialists are not so special after all.

What you want to be sure of is that your therapist has some additional training (beyond their counseling degree), that is specifically focused on relationship counseling. This is a specialty in itself. Certifications to look for are – Imago Certified Therapist, Gottman Certified Therapists, and EFT Certified Therapists. I happen to be Certified in Imago therapy and Gottman trained with partial EFT training that I plan to continue pursuing (because if I long to have couples-counseling-super-powers). I am also a Discernment Counselor, but that’s for couples who don’t want couples counseling; instead, they want to “discern” whether or not they want to make their relationship work before actually committing to couples counseling.

I returned to the School of Social Work for my MSW, and for nearly two decades now, I am still as passionate about the Imago theory, and about working with couples – maybe even more so!

The Imago theory is explained in the book, Getting the Love You Want, and the more you understand the theory, the more you realize how easy it is to answer the following four questions:

  • With what type of person am I most likely to create a passionate relationship?
  • With what type of person am I most likely to feel safe in a relationship?’
  • What do I most want to experience in my relationships that my partner has the most trouble helping me experience?
  • How do I participate in NOT getting the love that I want

See if this Imago formula will help you begin to find answers to these questions. I’d love to hear your feedback!

The Gottman Method

John Gottman's method of couples therapy draws from over two decades of relationship research in Gottman's Love Labs. This theory relies on an extensive relationship assessment designed to identify and eliminate toxic behaviors. Once replaced with new skills, focus turns to developing a shared meaning and closer friendship among the couple.

Emotionally Focused Therapy

 Dr. Sue Johnson is the author of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). Key books that expand on her theory include: Hold Me Tight, and Love Sense. The goal in EFT is to help couples become conscious of your secondary emotions by examining and interrupting your negative communication and interaction cycles.

Imago Relationship Therapy

In Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt, introduced Imago Therapy in the late 1990s. With an emphasis on fail-proof communication, this theory leans into the importance of understanding and addressing the influence our separate life histories have on how we related to our partner or spouse today.

Got Questions?

5 + 9 =

Lesbian Couples Workshop – September 23-24

Lesbian Couples Workshop – September 23-24


lesbian couples workshop

September 23-24, 2017 (SAT 1:00pm-6:00pm, SUN 9:00am – 5:30pm)

 

What is the Lesbian Couples Workshop?

As a Certified Imago Therapist, Michele O’Mara has created a unique blend of all that is amazing about the Getting the Love You Want Imago Therapy weekend, with specific skills, resources, information and exercises designed specially for same-sex couples.  The Lesbian Couples Workshop is an incredible opportunity for same-sex couples from across the United States to spend a weekend intentionally focused on creating (or improving) an OUTstanding relationship! The weekend is a unique blend of education (concrete skills, and information about improving your relationship), processing (discussion of the new skills and information shared), and exercises (done privately with your own partner – not in front of the group).

REGISTER HERE

REGISTER at least 30 days prior to the weekend to save $100

 

 

 

What Can I expect to gain from the Lesbian Couples Workshop?

  • Learn the 10 essential ingredients of an OUTstandingrelationship and how to apply them to your relationship
  • Learn new skills to improve your communication and connection with your partner
  • Participate in your own in-depth relationship review
  • Create a personalized relationship improvement plan
  • A fun weekend spent with other same-sex couples in a comfortable setti

Will we have to talk about our personal issues in front of other couples?

There will be opportunities for couples to volunteer to role-play a skill, but your level of disclosure about your relationship is entirely up to you. You do not have to share anything about your relationship with the other couples that you do not want to.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that your benefit directly correlates to your sharing, howwwwwever, the choice remains yours.

lesbian couples, lesbian relationship workshop

What kind of couples will be there?

The Lesbian Couples Workshop is open to gay and lesbian couples. This is a great resource for any couple. You may already have a strong relationship and use The Weekend as a way to tune-in to and tune-up your relationship, or you may be struggling to find your way back to each other. There will be a mixture of couples – some functioning better than others, but all with a desire to improve their relationship!

REGISTER HERE

 

Can you describe what The Weekend will be like once we are there?

We will convene in a meeting room around a large table that is casual, intimate and functional. There will be breaks to stretch and snack (beverages/snacks provided).

There will be a blend of education (lectures), process (discussion about what we are learning as it applies to your relationship), and exercises. All exercises are done privately with your partner, separate from the group. Michele O’Mara will observe each couple doing their exercises and be available to guide and support your individual work.

 

What makes this such a good financial investment in our relationship?

This is less than half the cost of the equivalent amount of couple’s counseling! Payment plans are available if necessary, and we do accept Visa and Mastercard as payment options.

 

REGISTER HERE

 

How does The Weekend compare to couple’s counseling?

The Weekend is about building OUTstanding relationships. The emphasis is on strengthening relationships, creating a hopeful, forward-moving momentum on which you can continue building and strengthening your relationship. Though this is not counseling, and in many ways it is more like an intensive class on relationships, The Weekend does offer you all of the benefits of counseling and more. The Weekend is designed to bring out the best in both you and your partner, for the good of your relationship.

 

Other than the fact this sounds like exactly what we need, are there other compelling reasons to do this workshop?

  • Receive 75% more for your investment than you would in couples counseling – and gain more immediately useful information to put into action right now. For the same cost as 2.5 couple’s counseling sessions, you can receive 12 hours of tools, education, counseling and a rare opportunity for peer-couples support and inclusion in a community of health-oriented couples!  12 hours of couple’s counseling = $1560 or 12 hours of couple’s weekend = $550 ($275 each), if you register 15 days in advance, or $650 ($325 each) if  you register less than 15 days prior to the workshop.
  • Expedite your healing, insight, and relationship growth.  Receive three months worth of counseling in one weekend by attending The Couples Workshop!!
  • Enjoy the benefit of learning from other couples, their experiences, and gain insight and support from other couples that you can not get anywhere else!
  • It is actually not only beneficial to your relationship, it is an enjoyable experience, and you are sure to laugh and meet new friends.

 

If we are traveling from out of town, do you have any tips about where to stay?

 

Because my office is 15 minutes from the Indianapolis International Airport, there are many hotels in the area.  If you search my office address online, you can look for nearby hotels that way (2680 E Main Street, Plainfield, IN 46168).  Also, if you are wanting to be downtown Indianapolis, that is only roughly 20 minutes away.

While I’ve never been inside, there is a motel within walking distance to my office and it was renovated in 2014.   A call to them informed me that one-bed room is $59/night and two-bed room is roughly $65/night.

Whitehouse Motel 
2688 E Main St, Plainfield, IN 46168

What do other couples who have done the Lesbian Couples Workshop have to say about it?

  • “I learned a huge, vulnerable spot for [my partner] and saw how it plays out in our relationship. Also, I identified a big hole in my past that affects how I connect with her.”
  • “Michele was funny, entertaining, and so wise with wonderful words of wisdom, compassion and understanding.”
  • “You must be willing to explore your inner depths. If you are willing, you will be rewarded many times over.”
  • “I have learned many things about my partner and myself that I didn’t have a clue this is why I sometimes act the way we do. The communication style is going to be helpful for us!”
  • “This experience was life changing!!!”
  • “It was phenomenal.”
Gottman Relationship Checkup:  Assess Your Relationship Health in Detail

Gottman Relationship Checkup: Assess Your Relationship Health in Detail

The Gottman Relationship Checkup

This relationship checkup is a cutting edge tool available to all couples who are interested in a detailed assessment of strengths and weaknesses, along with specific strategies for improvement. (For more detailed information about the Checkup, VISIT HERE)

 

HOW IT WORKS

 

1.  Register and Pay

Complete the registration form below (OR HERE) to initiate your purchase.

2.  Accept your invitation

You will receive an email invitation from Michele O’Mara, PhD to take the Gottman Relationship Checkup.

3.  Create a profile

You and your partner will be asked to create a private profile that will only be accessible to you and Michele, and not each other.

4.  Complete the checkup questionnaire

Each of you will need to complete the questionnaire before receiving the results.

5.  Receive Checkup Results with detailed information

 

WHAT YOU GET

Once the questions have been answered and submitted, each of you will received two reports.

1) You will both receive an overview of your relationship strengths and challenges. 

This report will summarize the overall findings about the current state of your relationship as it relates to the following categories:

  • friendship and intimacy
  • trust and commitment
  • conflict areas
  • shared meaning
  • individual concerns

You will also be offered specified information and strategies for how to begin improving areas of concern.

2) You will each receive a separate, private report with details about areas of concern for your individual work.

This will include specific suggestions and strategies to address areas in need of improvement.

 

Strategy 25: Nice Things to Say to People Helps Marriage Romance

Strategy 25: Nice Things to Say to People Helps Marriage Romance

Compliments are nice things to say to people, and by “people,” I am including your partner – especially if you want to keep relationship / marriage romance alive!  

Are you more likely to thank a waiter for bringing you a glass of water, or your partner?  If your answer is, I am more likely to thank them both, and I do so regularly, then you might already be off to a good start with strategy # 25.  When you have nice things to say to people, otherwise known as compliments, you are developing a habit that will pay off in your marriage romance department (or pre-marriage for that matter).  Just be sure you have nice things to say to your partner, too!

Do you ever tire of hearing, “You look great, baby,” or, “Good job, I’m so proud of you!” and, “What a great dinner – thanks for cooking,” and, “I couldn’t have picked a better partner in the entire world.” I know I don’t about you, but I don’t tire of hearing these sorts of things.  Ironically, the more we say nice things to people, the more nice things we hear.  Guess it’s true, what goes around, comes around.

Do you know the two most important ingredients to sustaining a long-lasting romance, according to researcher John Gottman?

Fondness and admiration.

When you say nice things to your partner, you are making one of the most powerful feel-good contributions you can make to your relationship on an every-day basis to create a strong foundation of fondness and admiration.  When you find multiple ways to express your fondness for your partner, and you are able to communicate your admiration, you will benefit from her feeling desired.  To keep the home fires burning, both partners need to continue feeling good about themselves.  Random, authentic, compliments to one another is a great way to fan the flames of marriage romance.  You are likely already thinking many things, the key is to start saying them OUT LOUD.

What are other nice things to say to your partner to improve your marriage romance?

  • Time with you is my favorite.
  • I always enjoy your company.
  • There is no one I would rather spend time with than you.
  • Thank you for being so good to me.
  • I love how you love me.
  • You make me laugh.
  • I have so much fun with you.
  • There’s no one I’d rather wake up to every morning than you.
  • I can’t help but smile when I see you.
  • I am a better person because of you.
  • You are so talented, I love how you…
  • I admire your ability to…
  • I am so proud to be your girl.

You can say nice things to people about their appearance, abilities, personality, behaviors, style, humor, values, what they do, how they move in the world, ways they make you feel, etc.  The list of compliments is really endless.  What nice things to say to people are you comfortable with?  (Share in comments section if you want).

Also, when you make it a habit to have nice things to say to people, it becomes second nature.   Clearly, you will not say to your friends, family and coworkers the same romantic sentiments you share with your partner, but the more you practice giving compliments to people, the easier it is to do with everyone.

Share at least one compliment a day with your partner. A compliment a day keeps the therapist away.

Healthy Relationship Goals Examples and Checklist

Five Key Areas of Relationship Success and Healthy Relationship Goals Examples

 

The Gottman Relationship Checkup is a 480 question, online assessment created by Dr’s John and Julie Gottman.  With 40+ years of extensive scientific research on what makes relationships succeed, the Gottman’s have created a Relationship Checkup tool to examine in detail the five key areas of relationship success, and under each category are related relationship goals examples.

 

The major categories of importance for a healthy relationship according to scientific Gottman-based research.  (Also, relationship goals examples)

 

Section 1: How strong is your friendship and intimacy?

  • We feel satisfied with our relationship.
  • We feel secure in our commitment to one another, without the fear of abandonment or being left.
  • We feel equally known by one another.
  • We share a mutual fondness and admiration for one another.
  • We show interest in one another and enjoy one another’s company.
  • We enjoy a satisfying and romantic connection.
  • We have satisfying sex and enjoy connecting sexually.
  • We connect sexually at a frequency that works well for both of us.
  • We feel a part of a team, united and do not suffer from loneliness.

Section 2: How does it feel to be in your relationship?

  • We know what to predict from one another and we feel safe in our relationship.
  • We share a mutual trust for one another and believe the other has our back.
  • We are equally committed to our relationship.
  • We are comfortable with one another’s emotions and have a shared desire to be a supportive comfort when one of us is not feeling emotionally or physically well.

Section 3: How well do you manage conflict?

  • Our conflict is something we do not fear because we know we have the skills to manage whatever disagreements arise.
  • We are capable of delaying conflicts interactions until we are in a safe and appropriate setting to properly address the concerns at hand.
  • We feel respected and heard when we experience a disagreement.  Neither of us feels overwhelmed or frozen with fear or the inability to think and speak, during a disagreement.
  • We value one another’s opinions and believe that we are heard by one another.
  • We are willing to compromise.
  • We manage our negative emotions and protect our relationship from negativity toward ourselves and one another.
  • When we experience a conflict, we find ways to understand one another and make peace with our differences of opinion.  We are able to repair our connection and let the conflict go for good.
  • We feel emotionally connected.
  • We accept that stress is a part of life, and we support one another by seeking to make life easier for each other.
  • We maintain healthy boundaries between our relationship and the relationships we share with friends, extended family, work and other relationships.
  • We appreciate the importance of our mutual independence, and we do not place limits on one another that stems from insecurity.
  • We are faithful and honest.
  • We share basic values and goals.
  • We are equitable with household chores and child responsibilities.
  • We are in agreement with our financial decisions.
  • We experience joy, laughter, and fun together.
  • Our spirituality, religion and ethics are in alignment.
  • We agree on issues related to parenthood.
  • We manage distressing events as a team, supporting one another rather than turning against one another.
  • We resolve issues rather than keeping them alive.  We accept that some differences will remain, and we allow this rather than continue working to “change,” the other.

Section 4:  Are you headed in the same direction?

  • We have rituals that help us stay connected.
  • We respect one another’s personal and life goals and desire to assist one another in reaching them, while also nurturing our shared goals.

Section 5: Individual Areas of Concern

  • Neither of us abuse drugs or alcohol
  • We are emotionally stable and free of any self-harming thoughts.
  • We are safe with one another, both physically and emotionally.
  • We feel a sense of personal freedom without the threat of emotional or physical threat or harm.
  • We feel supported and encouraged, not degraded or criticized.
  • Sex is a positive thing in our relationship.
  • We do not experience any property damage when we disagree.
  • We are physically healthy and free of chronic health concerns.
  • We experience positive thoughts and feelings about one another and our relationship.
  • We are confident in ourselves and secure that we are viewed positively and well by others.
  • We are emotionally stable and at peace in our skin.
  • We are free of anxiety, depression, and anger.
  • We do not experience disabling fears or phobias.
  • Fears and Phobias
  • Do You Worry about What Others Think?
  • Our thoughts are clear and helpful.
  • We have normal appetites, neither over or under-eating.
  • We fall asleep easily, sleep well, and awake easily in the morning.
  • We are not focused on death or dying.
  • We are free of guilt

 

How do you rate with these relationship goals examples and checklist? To do the thorough Relationship Checkup and receive a detailed report with suggestions about how to improve the health of your relationship go here.

 

Order Your Relationship Checkup

The names and email addresses provided here will be used to send you your confidential invitation link to begin the Relationship Checkup. BE SURE YOU ENTER YOUR EMAIL ADDRESSES ACCURATELY.

Marketing by

Get Your Relationship Checkup