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NL: Hi, everyone. My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is The Inspiration Show. Today on the show, we are going to be talking about a very interesting subject. I have the author of a new book that is called, “If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?”, and we're going to be talking about how to build intimate relationships with someone who may be un-emotionally available in your life. I'm sure a lot of people want to hear the information on that. But before I introduce my special guest today, I just want to make sure that if you are watching this on YouTube, don't forget to click the link underneath here after you finish watching the shows so you can take my 30-second quiz to figure out what's blocking you from success. So my special guest today is Dr. Holly Parker. Hi Holly! How are you today?
HP: Well, Natalie. It’s such a pleasure to be here. I’m doing very well. How are you?
NL: Fabulous, fabulous. Now I am going to get you to talk a little bit about your story and how you got into writing this book, because I think that the subject of this book is something that many people that are watching the show can actually relate to. So how did you get the inspiration to write this book?
HP: You're absolutely right. It’s something that affects many people and many people can relate to, and that's actually what led me to write it because relationships - don’t even get me started talking about relationships! Well actually you are going to get me talking about relationships! I love it. I'm so passionate about relationships because relationships are arguably the foundation of a life well lived. When you think about the moments in people’s lives, when you hear people tell their stories about the most uplifting moments in their lives, the most meaningful moments in their lives, the times when they felt the safest, the most loved, it involved relationships. And when you think about the times when people share those moments, when they felt down, when they felt despair or when they felt needed; oftentimes, that also involves relationships. And so relationships are an important part of connection. And it's wonderful when they're working well, when people are connected, and when they have that connection, they really have a foundation that they can build a lifetime of happiness and connection and enjoyment upon. But when it's not there, it is so painful, it's something that can leave people feeling very alone, very disconnected, and it's an immense source of stress. And so I wanted to address the topic of disconnection.
NL: Yeah, well I mean I have a lot of personal experience with this myself. My husband and I separated about 3 1/2 years ago, but I would say that I was the one that was emotionally detached or emotionally unavailable. And through the work that I did, as a result of that, I realized that that was a coping mechanism that I had adopted from an experience that happened - my biological mother left when I was 3, and so I went, ‘okay I have to be strong’, and so I would close down emotionally so I wouldn't feel that. So I was the one that was unemotional. So if we're looking at a relationship, how does someone if they're in a relationship with someone who does seem to be closed off... what can they do to help open them up or is that even possible?
HP: It is possible. I wish that I could provide a guarantee, that I had a magic wand that I could guarantee that it would happen. Right? You know what I really invite people to think about is when they think about their relationships, to think about them like a system; it's like a bicycle with its gears and chains. If you change one part of the system, you change the other. And in a relationship, we are 50% of the system. It also happens to be that we’re the only 50% of the system we can’t control. So we can’t literally guarantee that everything that we do - we can try to reach out to someone, we can try to build connections as much as possible - we can't guarantee that they're going to move closer. But when we think about the idea of a relationship as a system, something really neat happens. It helps us to feel more empowered and we realize, okay when it's about me, when I'm not waiting on my partner to come closer but i say to myself, okay what can I do? What part of the system can I change? Then we're able to not control whether our partner moves closer, but we can dramatically influence the odds that our partner will move closer. We can create a greater sense of safety and connection and try to move the relationship in that direction. So in terms of things that we can actually do, I always think that a relationship happens at two levels. It happens between two people; there are things that we can do in terms of how we behave toward our partner. And it also happens in here (points to head); there are things that depending upon how we think about our partner, how we think about the relationship, and how we think about ourselves actually, we can affect how we feel in the relationship, and we can affect how we act toward our partner in these really subtle ways. So some examples of things that we can do with our partner - one that winds up getting overlooked a lot, but that's immensely powerful - is our body language. We say a lot with the things that we don't say. And it's a big, big part of the message that even the most well-intentioned people can lose sight of. An example I’d like to think about is, if people are tired at the end of the day and they walk into their house and they see their partner and go, oh hey how are you? It can seem like indifference, even if they don't mean it that way. It is very different when we conscientiously use our face, our voice and our body language to show our partner how much we care. So it's the difference between – “Oh hey, how are you?” and “Hey! How are you!? Give me a hug!” and kind of reach in and embrace the partner. It becomes more of a celebration and that affects how our partner’s likely to feel, our partner’s more apt to feel appreciated, that affects
how they feel, and then that sets more of a connected chain in motion. Other examples of body language we can use include: keeping an open posture, leaning forward, looking at our partner. I can't tell you how many times I've seen couples - again well-intentioned couples - look down on their smartphone, right, and they're not making eye contact. And the other thing that we can do - and this is a big builder of trust - is even when we're talking about difficult topics, we can still talk about them and not glare at our partner even if we’re upset, not scowl and not do actually, one of the biggest signifiers of contempt - the eye roll. So we can really stay connected with our partner, build trust by using our body language and keeping it sincere and authentic and more positive and calm. The second thing that we can do is show our partner we are committed with expressions of love and commitment. And this is something that is actually a lot of fun that you could only get creative with. Thinking about different ways to give your partner a secure foundation to let them know that they’re loved. It can include texting your partner in the middle of the day and saying, “Hey I'm thinking about you,” Something as simple as that. Letting your partner know that you're really excited to be with him or her. Giving them a hug, giving them a back massage, talking about the future and referencing that person – “In a few years, I'd love to go to this place.” When people talk like that, when people do little things for their partners that are kind, when they’re affectionate with their partner, when they talk about the future - that's a sign to your partner that you're not going anywhere, and it sets off this wonderful chain in motion where when people feel that their partner is more committed to them, they become more committed and ensure more commitment in return. Another thing that people can do is to be more physically affectionate - holding hands, snuggling - that releases oxytocin, which is a feel-good bonding hormone.
NL: Yeah, I think too how they like love to be shown for them. You know, there’s this classic book that was written like 20 years ago or something called “The 5 Love Languages” and I remember towards the end - for those new to the Mind Movies community, Glen and I are still business partners, we’re still great friends, we’re just not meant to be married anymore - but together, as we were unfolding everything after we separated, I kind of realized that Glen's love language was that he likes words of affirmation, and so towards the end, he’s like, “You never tell me I've done a good job.” And I’m like, “But I've never told you that, why are you all needy all of a sudden!?” But I didn't recognize that that's how he sees love, that's how he loves to to receive love. And so even going that far and to even do that, I think is really important.
HP: Absolutely, that’s a great point. And in terms of the other channel, in how we can really heighten connection, is how we think about our partner. So things like gratitude; thinking about what we love about our partner. Even taking moments to savor those times with our partner, whether we're watching TV, taking a walk, just thinking, “I am so lucky to be with this person.” And what's pretty amazing is when we do that, it actually forecasts - beyond our own happiness in the relationship - but just thinking about how much we value our partner predicts our partner’s happiness in a relationship. A couple of other ways would be having approached goals vs. avoidance goals. Approached goals is like the carrot dangling out before us in a relationship. When we think about: Okay so how can I be a better partner today? What can I do to amuse my partner? To make my partner laugh? To help my partner feel loved? What can I do? That's different than more of an avoidance goal, which is like trying to avoid potholes. How can I try to steer away from a problem? So approach goals are how we try to make the relationship better, and avoidance goal mindset is how we try to prevent relationships from getting worse. And actually, when we fall into that avoidance goal mindset, connection is more likely to deteriorate. So those were a couple mental ways that we can build connection too.
NL: Yeah. You've given us a lot of very practical information that we can apply. So I’m assuming that once we sort of open up the channels by doing these things, which it's not a lot of effort. And when you truly love someone, it's easy for you to include them in your gratitudes. So you know what, I actually recommend this to people in our community as well, and it is insane the amount of or the huge difference they see reflected in their partner because of the energy and how they’re showing up for them, and how it makes a huge difference. I’m assuming that once we get to this level then that's the time to open up deeper communication?
HP: You know, it's definitely that the first stage would really be building trust especially when people have fear. Fear can be something that is based in reality, but it might not be. And that's something that can be hard, but if we're ready for connection with people, why aren’t you showing up? What is there to be afraid of? I'm not going to hurt you, but the other person may not know that. And so it can take time to build on - to build that foundation of trust, to build more good will, especially for couples where there's been a lot of resentment and a lot of disconnection and a lot of animosity and hurt. For those couples, it can be really hard to come together, but it definitely is possible. So I think, there's definitely a ground floor for couples where they have more distance and more animosity to take that time to build trust and to build goodwill, and then to start…as we change our part of the system and we begin to open up, we increase more positivity in the relationship, we take steps to decrease the negativity. So even when we are having difficult conversations that it feels safer for our partner... then absolutely, that would be the time to start having those conversations, to start moving in more deeply, and at the same time, continuing to increase the positive energy in the relationship and that connectedness.
NL: I'm loving the sound of this new book. So I'm assuming with the book, you've got a lot of these steps that are in there, and exercises that people can apply, a lot of practical information, which is fantastic because your background, you’re a psychologist right?
HP: Yes, I am. That’s correct. I'm so lucky to love what I do. I wear a few different hats. So I am a therapist, I do individuals, couples and group therapy, and I also teach about relationships at the university level. And I train the next generation of clinical psychologists and I also write for the public. So you know, it's a wonderful gift. People's lives mean a great deal to me and I know they do for you as well.
NL: Yeah, so “If We’re Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?” I love the title of the book as well. So if people want to connect with you or get their hands on the book, where can we send them to do that?
HP: You can send them to my website at doctorhollyparker.com. I'd be delighted to hear from them.
NL: Beautiful. So guys if you're watching this online you just have to click the banner to the side. If you watching on the app, just click the banner underneath. So thank you so much, Holly for joining me today. It’s been an exceptionally informative show. I really appreciate your time.
HP: Oh, thank you for the honor. I hope you have a beautiful day and I hope your viewers do as well. I wish you all out there who are watching the best of luck with all of your relationships.
NL: Wonderful. So guys I encourage you to share this video and you can do that by clicking the Facebook and Twitter share buttons on this page. Make sure that if you're watching this on YouTube you click that link underneath so we can figure out what's blocking you from success. And if you're watching this online just leave your email so we can send you the Manifesting With The Masters e-course. So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously, and love without limits. We’ll see you soon.