Why Do People Cheat? 9 Reasons For Infidelity That Have Nothing To Do With Sex

This can be helpful for the partner, to see a mirad of reasons that their partner strayed.

Rory


Source: Why Do People Cheat? 9 Reasons For Infidelity That Have Nothing To Do With Sex

When you think about the reasons why people cheat, what immediately springs to mind? For me, it’s sex. If a person is going to go behind their partner’s back and hook up with someone else, it stands to reason that there’s some form of physical attraction, or thrill of doing the deed with somebody new.

But experts say that’s not really why people have affairs. In fact, according to Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, a clinical psychologist, cheating is almost always more about emotions than sex. “What drives the person to engage in the betrayal is the real reason for cheating,” he tells Bustle.

For example, someone might have an affair if they aren’t feeling connected to, or getting validation from their partner. Should a friend or coworker come along who is willing to listen, it makes sense why that extra attention would seem appealing — and why the attraction could quickly escalate into an affair.

While that isn’t necessarily a comfort for folks who have been cheated on, it is important to look at situations like these from all angles, in order to create a stronger relationship. Here, women share why they cheated, and what the experience taught them — and experts delve into the multiple reasons why people cheat.

1
They’re Avoiding Conflict

Sometimes, when a relationship is riddled with conflict — or even when things aren’t 100% easy for a short period of time — it can cause a person to panic and run into the arms of another.

The affair isn’t so much about sex at that point, as much as it is a way of avoiding problems. “Cheating allows them to escape,” Klapow says. “They can be with a person where problems and conflicts don’t exist, where they get respite, support, and validation.”

This was the case for Deonne, 40, who saw red flags in her relationship, but wasn’t ready to face them. She says it felt like the best and easiest option, and that being with someone else “filled a void.”

2
They Have Weak Boundaries

As Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, a marriage counselor and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle, if someone has “weak boundaries,” the chances of cheating go way up. He gives the example of a person getting too close to coworker, and how an affair could quickly unfold from there.

“It is natural for us to want to connect with those around us, and it’s natural to want to take that to the next level — a romantic one — when emotional intimacy is growing,” Bilek says. And yet, while friendships are obviously always OK, people with weak boundaries can’t help but go overboard.

It’s why it’s so important for couples to discuss the “rules” of their relationship, including what is and isn’t OK, as well as what counts as cheating. “Keeping firm boundaries at work and in social situations is critical for maintaining fidelity in a relationship,” he says.

3
They Want To Save The Relationship

While it sounds weird, some people use cheating as “a cry for help to save the relationship before they give up on it entirely,” Bethany Ricciardi, a sex and relationship expertf tells Bustle.

Yes, the cheater may go out and have sex. But that wasn’t technically their main goal or interest, she says. Instead, the affair may be the cheating partner’s (unhealthy) way of telling their significant other that they’ve been unhappy, and want to get a conversation started.

Again, this isn’t the best way to approach a partner about where a relationship is headed, or what it needs to succeed. And yet it often works: Some couples do find that they’re stronger after cheating, because the betrayal inspired them to communicate more, and work out their issues.

4
They Want To End The Relationship

On the flip side, some folks turn to cheating as a way of breaking up with their partner. “Rather than come out and say that they want to end the relationship, the person cheats hoping that their partner will find out and break up with them,” Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, a mental health expert, tells Bustle.

They may secretly hope their partner sees illicit texts popping up on their phone, or starts to wonder why they’re staying out so late at night and eventually asks what’s up. It’s obviously so much healthier (and kinder) to end things outright. But for those who struggle with direct communication, they might find themselves taking the cheating route, instead.

5
They Had An Abusive Past

Raina, 44, says the reason she cheated stemmed from an abusive childhood, which landed her in an abusive first marriage, and then in an unloving second marriage. Both times she cheated on her husband, first as a way of getting out of a toxic situation, and second as a way to continue on a path of self improvement.

“I had spent two years in therapy trying to get over past abuse,” she tells Bustle. But her second husband wasn’t listening to her needs, or helping her along the way. In fact, he was even encouraging her to stop taking helpful medication.

Frustrated, when another man came along, she couldn’t help but start an affair with him. “He gave me space, but also support,” she says, which helped her feel confident enough to continue working through what she’d been through in her past, and to seek out what she wanted for her future.

“Today, I am independent and strong. I don’t feel the need to depend on a man. While I do regret hurting people, I can’t regret either of my affairs. One gave me my children and the other gave me myself.”

6
They Want To Boost Their Self-Esteem

Not everyone who lacks confidence will have an affair in order to feel better. But experts say this is yet another reason why someone might sneak around behind their partner’s back.

“When someone is feeling down about [themselves] the thrill of sex with a new/forbidden person provides a temporary feeling of self-worth,” Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, a couples therapist, tells Bustle. “For example if things aren’t going well at work and [they] feel uncertain about [their] value, an outside lover can temporarily address that feeling.”

Nothing’s better than positive attention, flirty texts, and the excitement of being wanted. So when someone is feeling bad about themselves, cheating becomes all the more tempting.

7
They’re Lonely

“The majority of people who cheat are not fulfilled emotionally,” Ellen Bolin, a certified professional relationship coach, tells Bustle, which explains why so many people turn to emotional affairs — which often lead to physical affairs — as a way of curing a sense of loneliness within a relationship.

This is, of course, not the best way to solve the issue. Painful affairs can be avoided if couples speak up and let one another know when/if they’ve feeling neglected, unheard, or lonely.

8
They’re Bored

If someone is bored with their relationship, it makes sense why they might turn to cheating as a way of spicing things up for themselves. But experts say, more often than not, cheating is a choice made by those who are bored with their own life in general, and that has little to do with their partner.

“It’s a way to feel alive, special, seen by someone else,” Ross says. “[And] the sneaking around is often more exciting than the sex itself.” In other words, having something to hide, and something that adds a bit of danger to their life, can give them the exciting story they’re looking for.

These reasons all make sense. But, as Deonne says, it’s important to remember that “cheating is a temporary fix to a deeper issue.”

9
They’re Seeking Revenge

Cheating may also be an act of revenge, which can stem from anger — for any number of reasons. “The person may be frustrated in their relationship, or feel like their partner doesn’t care, doesn’t listen, doesn’t support them,” Klapow says. “In an act of defiance — but also avoidance of the problem at hand — the person cheats. So instead of directly confronting the problem, they avoid it and act out by cheating.” And that’s not cool.

Knowing an affair isn’t always all about sex won’t make it any less painful for the person being cheated on, but it may help both members of a relationship understand why it happened in the first place. By talking about problems before they get out of hand — and making sure you’re both fulfilled — an affair doesn’t have to happen.

Experts:

Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist

Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, marriage counselor

Bethany Ricciardi, sex and relationship expert

Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, mental health expert

Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, couples therapist

Ellen Bolin, certified professional relationship coach

My Fantasy Online Courtship Went From Charming To Creepy Once We Met

https://ravishly.com/online-courtship-creepy-once-we-met

We texted day and night over weeks about novels, poems, single parenting, farming, teaching, and writing — proof positive of an extending courtship,

We texted day and night over weeks about novels, poems, single parenting, farming, teaching, and writing — proof positive of an extending courtship,

Recently, Kristen Roupenian’s “Cat Person,” a story about a faux-intimate, emoji-dependent, sad-in-the-sack relationship, went viral and millions of readers took to social media defending its genius or damning its drivel. While “Cat Person” speaks to our depressing State of Toxic Disunion and the difficulties negotiating sex, power, and consent via texts, sexts, and SociopathMatch.Com, it actually leaves us mired in misogyny’s muck. At the end of the story, Margot is rendered a passive pussy as Robert, her erstwhile Prince Charmless, gets the last text: “Whore.”

Fuck that.

It is now a truth universally acknowledged if you are a single woman in possession of a good cellphone and in want of a man, the odds are that you will, at some point, find yourself ensnared in a texting-sexting-dating cock-up, as I have, admittedly more than once.

But not again.

This is how I flipped the script from passive pussy to power pussy.

I was waiting outside airport baggage claim in the cold when Farmer Dick (real profession, fake name) pulled up in his dirty white delivery van, Heart and Soil Farm emblazoned on the side.

“Where do I pick you up?” he’d asked the night before.

It was years since he’d been to an airport, and his question suggested naïve bewilderment over how electricity, roads, and airplanes connected the great expanses between farms and cities — or how the internet highway connected singles, not-so-singles, polys, pans, earnest hopefuls, and predatory sociopaths.

He apologized for the rustic transport.

“Only kale and lettuce and cabbage go in the back,” he said. “No kidnap victims.”

“My friend has your cell, address, and the Airbnb link,” I said.

Airbnb first night — “Urban Duck Farm” — and if all went well, the rest of the weekend at his house.

“Ahh,” my girlfriend said, “more like Urban Fuck Farm.” Indeed, the likely activity after wandering the art museum.

“Let’s make love and paint faux Rothkos on my walls,” he’d suggested.

Perhaps you think this weekend was an ill-advised, ready-made disaster from the start. However, by the time I bought the tickets, Farmer Dick and I had spent dozens of hours in conversation, more than people spend for casual hookups, more than some before marriage. Enough hours that such a risk’s payoff might have been love.

Weeks of tremblings started with his profile pics: Gentleman Farmer in a rumpled blazer and jaunty beret with a scruffy beard; a hand held between nose and mouth, cupping soil. Ahhh, terroir! Another pic: Shirtless, riverside, a black dog curled up under his arm, like Coleridge’s “enamored rustic” lazing on the banks of the Thames.

Oh yes, I’d go with him to Xanadu’s pleasure dome.

We texted day and night over weeks about novels, poems, single parenting, farming, teaching, and writing — proof positive of an extending courtship,

Him: I feel you these miles apart.

Me: Energy travels fast and furious through the universe.

Skype proved he was not a Nigerian Prince Bot in need of my bank account. And bonus! At his suggestion (be still my writer’s heart), old-fashioned letters arrived in my mailbox in his homemade envelopes. In his first letter, Farmer Dick wrote, “In a sane and just world, you could fly to me in a few weeks — we could briefly winnow out all our insecurities, crash at an Airbnb — come back to my place, walk those quiet wooded places, make meals, make love, make words for our mealmaking and lovesharing.”

Even with a failed marriage and enough online dating disaster stories for 1001 nights, I felt soft and tingly, ignoring red flags. For instance: a message that ended, “I love you. Fuck me.” Fucked for loving me? Who claims love before meeting? Two nights before our rendezvous, he sent me a message: “Long business dinner. Feeling checked out. Please feel secure in any silence from me. Much love! 😉 heart heart heart.”

At the museum, we held hands — all erotic, anticipatory impatience — while strolling past Cezannes, Renoirs, and Rothkos. His hand moved to the back of my neck, and my thumb stroked his knuckles in incremental intimacy.

“I love making love with you,” Farmer Dick said later that night after we’d been having sex on and off for hours, and, as if marveling at his own piece de resistance, said, “I came three times! That hasn’t happened in years!”

Ahh, hubris.

Farmer Dick’s last message, sent days after our rendezvous: “How are you? It’d be pretty raw if we couldn’t have a conversation about how you felt — feel. I would appreciate the autopsy of the weekend from your p.o.v.”

Post-mortem vivisection? Okay.

Friday: Damn good, though Urban Duck Farm’s location, in a neighborhood of burned-out homes, made me wonder if he chose a hipster hostel for the bottom line?

Saturday: Farmer Dick earns his pseudonym. Not one casual touch or intimate kindness. At a coffee shop (so he could use the free WiFi), he read Slavoj Žižek quotes from Goodreads: “Love feels like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all small pleasures.” Žižek is generally regarded as a racist, misogynist, pseudo-intellectual, but I pretended to listen because, please please please don’t let Farmer Dick be just another asshole because assholes don’t write long letters and send them in homemade envelopes, do they?

He chattered about green burials on his farm (“I could sell plots for ten thousand!”) which drifted to talk about the dark web and ethical cannibalism: human bodies as haute cuisine. I blinked and sipped the coffee that I paid for.

Back at his house, as we inspected the walls and traced out the color blocks for the faux Rothkos, he pointed to knee-high, red specks along the walls. “Blood,” he said. “My dog had fleas. She got a sore behind her ear from scratching, and every time she shook her head…” He no longer had the dog.

I started painting a green square on the wall. He disappeared upstairs. When he returned, he said, “I took MDMA, and when I do, I’m not usually down for sex.”

However, he was down for a two hour, egomaniacal, run-on sentence regarding all the women he’d ever fucked and all the women who loved him. He went on and on about how two nights before — the night he sent me the text about feeling “checked out” — his ex-girlfriend stopped by. While they didn’t “fuck-fuck,” he said, “we sort of fucked, but I didn’t want to tell you because then you might not have come, but you say that you believe in truth and transparency, so I’m telling you now, and speaking of now…that the excitement of meeting is over, you’re cool if we don’t really text as much?”

I sat next to him on the couch, focusing first on his pupils — wide, dark saucers — and then on the drippy color blotches.

Fucker, I thought. You motherfucker. You won’t touch my insides anymore.

He jumped up and attacked the walls like a toddler with finger paints. I group texted girlfriends:

Me: He’s reading Neruda love poems. And strumming guitar.

GF’s: Humor him. Take notes for an essay.

Me: He’s claiming his Rothkos are more authentic than Rothkos.

GF’s: Is he a moron?

Me: He wants to tuck me in and read Žižek. I wonder if he knows how full of shit he is.

Sunday: That morning in bed, his hand found mine, fingers stroking my arm, then belly, then thigh. Feigned tenderness or a more likely last chance grab? Will you think me a fool or worse, think me a whore à la Cat Person, if I say that despite his epically awful behavior, I got wet and throbby, climbed on top of him, and with efficiency, achieved clinical solo success.

In short: I fucked him.

Don’t imagine I felt any pity as his twitching erect penis sagged in disappointment against his thigh.

“Sorry,” I said, flashing a bland smile, “have to get going. Got a text. New flight time. Hours earlier.”

An easy lie.

While Farmer Dick was warming up the van and shucking ice from the windshield for our airport drive, I found my stack of letters to him on the dining room windowsill and crammed them in my bag.

Those letters, delivered to the wrong address, were meant for a different man.

I was five hours early for my flight, but as I cleared security, another flight to my destination was announced: final boarding. I ran to the gate.

“Please,” I said to the agent, “I’ve had the worst date weekend ever. I just want to get home.” Did he see my wobbly, sad shame through the steel door?

The agent smiled.

“Ma’am, usually a $200 change fee, but for you? Free. Get home safe and sound.”

Safe and sound. Perhaps you think this weekend was an ill-advised, ready-made disaster from the start. However, by the time I bought the tickets, Farmer Dick and I had spent dozens of hours in conversation, more than people spend for casual hookups, more than some before marriage. Enough hours that such a risk’s payoff might have been love. Maybe when I arrived, no longer just abstract words but full-bodied, I wasn’t what he expected or wanted. Fine. No harm, no foul. U-turn on the next flight.

But he didn’t get the last word or last text: “You ask ‘Are you okay?’ Something you failed to ask me all weekend. But, in answer, I am perfectly fine. Minimal wounds. Healing fast.”


Separation and Divorce: Child Custody, Division of Property, & Common Law Marriage

 

Separation and Divorce: Child Custody, Access, and Parenting Plans  

 When parents separate, they need to arrange how they will share the parenting of their children. If they cannot agree, they may have to go to court. The court must decide based on what is best for the child. In family law, this is called the “best interests” of the child . . .

 

 

When you and your partner separate, you will have to divide your property. Property means anything you own, such as your homes, cars, personal and household items, pensions, bank accounts and any other investments. Property also includes debts. Property rights are totally different for people who are legally married and those who live common law. If you are living common law, you do not have the same property rights as women who are married . . .

 Common Law Marriage             Canadian Divorce Laws     

People living in a common law marriage are not considered married under Canadian law. However, when their relationship ends, many of their rights are the same as for people in a regular marriage. There are also many important differences.

To be considered a common law marriage, the couple must live together a certain period of time. The amount of time varies from province to province, as this is covered by provincial legislation, but is generally two to three years.For instance, in Ontario and New Brunswick, the period is three years. In British Columbia and Nova Scotia, the period is two years. To complicate matters further, Federal legislation often specifies a different period for a relationship to be considered a common law marriage for federal law purposes – normally only one year. Some provinces, such as Ontario, also consider a couple to be in a common law marriage if they have a child together and are living together, regardless of the length of time that they have lived together . . .

Types of Childhood Abuse

Reposted from the blog of Darlene Barriere.

http://www.child-abuse-effects.com/types-of-emotional-abuse.html

There are six types of emotional abuse:

    »  rejecting
    »  isolating
    »  ignoring
    »  corrupting
    »  exploiting
    »  terrorizing

One type of emotional abuse that warrants a section of its own is witnessing family violence. Due to the ever-increasing statistics of family violence, I’ve treated this topic separately. You’ll find it below underterrorizing.

  Types of emotional abuse #1: Rejecting

Putting down a child or youth’s worth or putting down their needs.

    »  constant criticism
    »  name-calling
    »  telling child he/she is ugly
    »  yelling or swearing at the child
    »  frequent belittling-use of labels such as “stupid”, “idiot”
    »  constant demeaning jokes
    »  verbal humiliation
    »  constant teasing about child’s body type and/or weight
    »  expressing regret the child wasn’t born the opposite sex
    »  refusing hugs and loving gestures
    »  physical abandonment
    »  excluding child from family activities
    »  treating an adolescent like she/he is a child
    »  expelling child from family
    »  not allowing youth to make own reasonable choices

  Types of emotional abuse #2: Isolating

Keeping a child away from family and friends.

    »  leaving child in room unattended for long periods
    »  keeping child away from family
    »  not allowing child to have friends
    »  not permitting child interaction with other children
    »  keeping child away from other caregiver if separated
    »  rewarding child for withdrawing from social contact
    »  ensuring child looks and acts differently than peers
    »  isolating child in closet
    »  insisting on excessive studying and/or chores
    »  preventing youth participating in activities outside the home
    »  punishing youth for engaging in normal social experiences

FACT:  Isolated emotional child abuse has had the lowest rate of substantiation of any of the types of emotional abuse (Kairys, 20022).

  Types of emotional abuse #3: Ignoring

Failing to give any response to or interact with a child or youth at all.

    »  no response to infant’s spontaneous social behaviours
    »  not accepting the child as an offspring
    »  denying required health care
    »  denying required dental care
    »  failure to engage child in day to day activities
    »  failure to protect child
    »  not paying attention to significant events in child’s life
    »  lack of attention to schooling, etc.
    »  refusing to discuss youth’s activities and interests
    »  planning activities/vacations without adolescent

  Types of emotional abuse #4: Corrupting

Encouraging a child or youth to do things that are illegal or harmful to themselves.

    »  rewarding child for bullying and harassing behaviour
    »  teaching racism and ethnic biases
    »  encouraging violence in sporting activities
    »  inappropriate reinforcement of sexual activity
    »  rewarding child for lying and stealing
    »  rewarding child for substance abuse and sexual activity
    »  supplying child with drugs, alcohol and other illegal substances
    »  promoting illegal activities such as selling drugs
    »  teaching and promoting prostitution

  Types of emotional abuse #5: Exploiting

Giving a child or youth responsibilities that are far greater than a child/youth that age can handle. It is also using a child for profit.

    »  infants expected not to cry
    »  anger when infant fails to meet a developmental stage
    »  child expected to be ‘caregiver’ to the parent
    »  young child expected to take care of younger siblings
    »  blaming child or youth for misbehaviour of siblings
    »  unreasonable responsibilities for jobs around the house
    »  expecting youth to support family financially
    »  encouraging participation in pornography
    »  sexually abusing child or youth
    »  requiring child or youth to participate in sexual exploitation

  Types of emotional abuse #6: Terrorizing

Causing a child or youth to be terrified by the constant use of threats and/or intimidating behaviour. This includes witnessing, which is when a child or youth observes violence, hears violence, or knows that violence is taking place in the home.

    »  with infants and children, excessive teasing
    »  yelling and scaring
    »  unpredictable and extreme responses to child’s behaviour
    »  extreme verbal threats
    »  raging, alternating with periods of artificial warmth
    »  threatening abandonment
    »  beating family members in front of or in ear range of child
    »  threatening to destroy a favourite object
    »  threatening to harm a beloved pet
    »  forcing child to watch inhumane acts against animals
    »  inconsistent demands on the child
    »  displaying inconsistent emotions
    »  changing the ‘rules of the game’
    »  threatening that the child is adopted and doesn’t belong
    »  ridiculing youth in public
    »  threats to reveal intensely embarrassing traits to peers
    »  threatening to kick adolescent out of the house

FACT:  Children and youth who witness family violence experience all sixtypes of emotional abuse.

FACT:  A 1995 telephone survey identifying types of emotional abuse suggested that by the time a child was 2 years old, 90% of families had used one or more forms of psychological aggression in the previous 12 months (Straus, 20003).

Many people including parents, members of the law enforcement community and journalists, think that infants and young children who witness violence are too young to know what happened. They don’t take it in. “They won’t remember.” In fact, infants and young children can be overwhelmed by their exposure to violence, especially–as it is likely to be the case with very young children–when both victims and perpetrators are well known and emotionally important to the child and the violence occurs in or near the child’s own home.

Osofsky, 1996

Mindfulness: Attention and Attunement

Joe Loizzo, M.D., Ph.D.: Reliable Methods: The Future of Self-Transcendence.

The three decades since mindfulness meditation was first found to help with anxiety, chronic pain and depression have seen the reversal of a trend that goes back over a century. When Freud founded psychotherapy as “a middle way between philosophy and medicine,” he took pains to keep it on the scientific side of the modern gulf between science and religion. He did this in part by basing his insights on evolutionary neurobiology, and in part by distancing his psychology from its sources in the spiritual philosophy of Romanticism.

Sadly, in cutting his “new science” away from its spiritual roots, he felt a need to jettison not just myth and ritual but contemplative states and practices too. Though spiritually minded analysts like Carl Jung warned this was throwing the baby out with the bathwater, Freud’s rejection of all things spiritual came to earmark mainstream psychotherapy. Jung’s dream was that psychotherapy would not only work as a clinical art to heal mental suffering but also as a spiritual science to help build the best in our nature. The recent film, “A Dangerous Method,” dramatizes with telling accuracy Freud’s break with Jung and the rift this caused in modern psychology. 

Fast forward to the present. The more mindfulness has been proven to enhance attention, empathic attunement and neuroplasticity, the more it has found its way into traditional psychotherapy and new cognitive therapies. As this simple technique has made waves in psychotherapy, it has raised a groundswell of interest among researchers and clinicians in contemplative methods in general and Buddhist psychology in particular. 

Of course, mindfulness did not turn the anti-contemplative tide of mainstream therapy all by itself. It helped catalyze a complex reaction fueled by new findings in evolutionary biology, the neuroscience of plasticity and emotion, developmental psychology and positive psychology, all of which have converged in a new view of human nature as far more malleable and sociable than we thought. Buttressed by a growing body of research on meditation and yoga, this new consensus has begun to bridge the gulf between science and spirituality. Where the split faces of modern culture are starting to reunite is in two emerging fields for the scientific study and clinical application of humanity’s ancient contemplative traditions: contemplative neuroscience and contemplative psychotherapy. 

As clients and therapists have grown more curious about the traditional practice behind mindfulness, they’ve learned that it comes embedded in a complex psychology all its own, including integrated disciplines of cognitive self-analysis, emotional self-healing and behavioral life-change. This second wave of influence has brought mounting awareness of the scientific tradition of classical Buddhist psychology and its core disciplines. With this, the tide has shifted away from simply grafting mindfulness into conventional therapies, toward a fuller confluence of Buddhist and Western psychology.

A vibrant new field blending meditative insights and tools with current neuroscience, contemplative psychotherapy represents a turning of the modern tide away from contemplative methods. And as Buddhist contemplative science has been a catalyst in this turn thus far, it seems likely to play a more influential role in years to come. This is no accident, but reflects Buddhism’s unique bent as a religion which seeks to awaken the human spirit less by myth and ritual than by therapeutic philosophy and contemplative psychology.

Fortunately, the rise of contemplative psychotherapy also comes at a watershed moment in the history of the West’s encounter with Asian Buddhism. As neuroscientists and psychotherapists turn toward contemplative science and practice, Western and Asian scholars of Buddhism for the first time are giving us access to the long isolated Buddhism of Tibet. This most recent confluence seems likely to give rise to a third wave in the convergence of Buddhist and Western psychology, for several reasons. 

First, Tibetan civilization preserves in its final form the ancient Buddhist tradition that was most concerned with bringing contemplative tools to lay people in everyday life. This was the socially engaged tradition linked with the rise of the world’s first university at Nalanda, a world-class institution which became India’s beacon of liberative education and a think-tank for contemplative civilization throughout Asia. The second reason is that the Nalanda tradition was and is both scientifically rigorous and psychologically minded. Its core curriculum assumes that success in secular and religious life both require mastery of scientific knowledge and empirical methods, especially the insights and methods of psychology. The third reason is that this tradition is not just universal but comprehensive, enhancing mindfulness and loving kindness with a whole range of industrial-strength tools for building compassion, altruism and inspired leadership in a stress-driven world. 

Unfortunately, there’s a rub. Because it forged the religious practice of Indian yoga into a human science of spirituality, the Nalanda legacy is not only the most modern and scientific of Buddhist traditions, but ironically also the one that seems most religious! The challenge contemplative therapists face in integrating its rich archetypal imagery and transformational arts is reminiscent of those faced by analysts like Jung.

Can powerful, mind-altering contemplative states and methods be harnessed to the therapeutic work of building confident, caring and inspired new selves, while staying grounded in objective science and reproducible methods? 

Fortunately for us all, this challenge is far simpler in our day than it was only decades ago. Brain science has progressed so dramatically that we now understand how empathy and altruism, archetypal imagery and transmuting affects like joy and bliss work. And direct access to the living masters of the Nalanda tradition offers the time-tested perspective and methodology we need to make the work of reinventing ourselves for interdependence eminently safe, reliable and reproducible. Given the fast-shifting tides of science and civilization, contemplative psychotherapy seems ideally poised now to realize Jung’s dream, with a rigor that would have satisfied even Freud.

The Powerful Influence of Parents

by Jerry Lopper, Personal Growth Coach  on June 13, 2011 »

Image By Colin Brough

The influence of our parents is on my mind right now. Even as we become fully functioning adults and parents ourselves, it’s intriguing to consider how much of who we are is directly attributable to beliefs and experiences we encountered as children of our parents.

I’m reminded of this in reading Into My Father’s Wake, by journalist and author Eric Best. Best leaves his job, buys a sailboat, and sails solo from San Francisco to Hawaii and return in an attempt to resolve his relationship with his parents, especially his father.

A respected journalist, Best’s marriage is failing, he feels dead-ended in his job, and he struggles with alcohol and anger. The 50 day, 5,000 mile solo journey is his attempt to find himself and correct the path of his life.

Adult Children of Abusive Parents

Interspersed with fascinating descriptions of his sailing adventures, Best shares pleasant childhood memories of long sailing voyages with his father and disturbing memories of brutal beatings with a rubber hose at his father’s hands. He recalls his mother’s silent support of her husbands discipline, and struggles to come to terms with both parents’ treatments.

Most children are raised without the abusive behaviors demonstrated in Best’s book, yet don’t we all grow up carrying mixed images of our parents’ behaviors?

Psychologists offer an explanation that makes sense. Carl Pickhardt Ph.D. is a psychologist in private counseling practice who has authored several parenting books exploring the various phases of parent/child relationships as a child moves from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.

Pickhardt explains that the child idolizes and worships her parents, the adolescent criticizes and blames her parents as she begins the process of independence, and the adult rationalizes parental behaviors as she begins to understand the complexities of parental behavior.

Parental Behaviors

The children of abusive parents experience conflicting and inconsistent adult behavior, at times nurturing and caring, at other times abusive and hurtful. Given the child’s total dependence and natural tendency to look up to her parents, the abused child is confused, ceases to trust, and may even assume she’s part of the problem. Best demonstrates how these conflicts carry into adulthood.

Children of non-abusive parents also experience conflicts. We see behaviors that are loving and caring as well as darker behaviors such as anger. We see our parents’ faults, tend to focus on those in adolescence, and may even carry their faults into adulthood as the reasons for our own failures.

Life Purpose and Our Parents

Looking at more pThe Celestine Prophecyositive aspects of parental influence, in The Celestine Prophecy, author James Redfield suggests that each person’s life purpose evolves from and extends the life purpose of their parents. Intrigued by this, I followed the suggested process of examining what each of my parents stood for (their strong beliefs and values) and where they fell short (weaknesses and limitations).

Sure enough, I could clearly see how my own life extended what each of my parent’s stood for and how I’ve developed interests and strengths which they lacked.

Since this analysis was valuable and informational to me, I added the process to my Purpose in Life Workshop content, expecting that others would also find valuable insights.

I was surprised by the responses of workshop participants. Though some found the process positive and helpful, a majority reacted strongly against the hypothesis, even resisting my encouragement to keep an open mind and explore the possibilities. It seemed a large number of people attribute their life’s problems directly to their parents.

Coming to Terms with Parents

What does this all mean? To me it simply means that parents are human beings, with the full range of human strengths and weaknesses. Parenting is tough work. Our parents made some mistakes along the way, as we have in our parenting roles.

On the road to adulthood, we’re exposed to many examples of behaviors, including the very influential examples of our parents. Whether they were outstanding parents or lacking in many ways, as adults our behaviors are ours alone. We can chose whether to copy behaviors of our parents or discard them. We can chose whether to cherish their parental talents or denounce them.

Personal growth involves insightful—sometimes painful—self-reflection. Personal growthInto My Father's Wake also involves accepting the accountability and responsibility of personal choice for our behaviors.

Eric Best reaches this conclusion near the end of his solitary 50 day voyage, deciding to cherish the love and care his father displayed in teaching him to sail, while forgiving his brutal discipline as a terrible weakness of his father’s own personal struggles.

Into My Father’s Wake is a good story of a man’s journey of self-discovery. Those without sailing knowledge may struggle a bit with the sailor’s terminology, but all will appreciate the vivid imagery Best conveys as he describes the beauty and danger of solo-oceanic travel. I found that sharing Best’s struggles with the human frailties of his parents stimulated useful self-reflection on the influence of my own parents on my adult life.

Why It’s So Hard to Find Your Life’s Purpose

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-labier/life-purpose_b_862192.html

Every being is intended to be on earth for a certain purpose.”
— Sa’di, 12th Century Persian poet

I’m often asked, “Why can’t I find the purpose of my life?” Over the decades I’ve heard many men and women — whether they’re psychotherapy patients working to build healthier lives or business executive trying to create healthier leadership — say at some point that they don’t know what they’re really here, for, on this planet. They’re not necessarily religious or spiritually inclined, but they feel a longing for that “certain something” that defines and integrates their lives.

Many turn to the various books and programs purport to identify their life’s purpose, but most come away dissatisfied. No closer than they were before, they identify with Bono’s plaintive cry in the U2’s song, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

And yet, many do find and live in harmony with their life’s purpose. Here are some of my observations about why many don’t, and how they differ from those who do.

First, I think everyone feels a pull towards some defining purpose to his or her life, no matter how much it may have become shrouded over along the way. In fact, you can say that all forms of life, all natural phenomena, have some purpose. There’s always movement or evolution towards some kind of outcome or fulfillment — whether it’s a tree that produces fruit or clouds that form to produce rain. But we humans become so enraptured by our daily activity, engagements, goals and so forth, that our awareness of our own unique life purpose is easily dimmed.

And there are consequences to not knowing or finding your purpose. I often see men
and women who’ve become successful in their work or relationships — their outer lives — and yet they feel hollow, empty, unfulfilled. They describe feeling “off-track” in some way, or incomplete, despite a conventionally successful life. Sometimes they wonder if they’ve been on the “wrong” path all along — chosen the wrong career, or the wrong life partner. Or that perhaps they haven’t realized that their chosen path could be more meaningful or purposeful to them, if they let it. Moreover, they wonder how you can tell the difference?

One thing is clear: The consequences of not finding your purpose include chronic, lingering dissatisfaction; an absence of inner peace and a sense of not being fully in sync with your inner self. That’s because your true inner self knows that your life purpose is out of sync with your outer life. The latter is often a false self, but you’ve identified with it because it’s been so rewarding to your ego.

I think most people retain at least a glimmer of awareness of their life’s purpose within their inner being. It often feels like a leaning, an inclination, that continues to pull at you. Sometimes is right in front of your eyes but you don’t allow yourself to see it, like when you’re hunting for your missing keys and then discover that they’ve been right in front of you the whole time. For example, an investment advisor found himself doing more and more work with charity organizations. He finally realized that what he felt most in sync with was hands-on work helping people. That was the part he enjoyed about his work, not the money managing per se. Helping people was his true calling, and it was staring him in the face the whole time.

Those who experience a clear inclination but don’t pursue or fulfill it remain incomplete and dissatisfied. But it’s important not to confuse seeking happiness with finding your purpose. Happiness is what you experience in the daily flow of life — the highs and lows that are situational. They will fluctuate. But purpose is deeper. It’s more of an underlying sense of peace and fulfillment overall, a sense of integration and continuous unfoldment of your being. It transcends everyday ups and downs, the disappointments or successes, even. When you’re living in accordance with your life’s purpose, you view all of the above as part of what you encounter along the road. They don’t distract you from that larger vision, your ideal, which is like a magnet steadily pulling you towards it.

Themes Of People Who Find Their Purpose

There are commonalities among those who find their true purpose for being. One major theme is that they aren’t very preoccupied with self-interest, in their ego-investments in what they do. That can sound contradictory. How can you find your life purpose if you’re not focused on yourself? The fact is, when you’re highly focused on yourself, with getting your goals or needs met — whether in your work or relationships — your purpose becomes obscured. Your ego covers it, like clouds blocking the sun. Self-interest, or ego in this sense, is part of being human, of course. It’s something that requires effort and consciousness to move through and let go of, so you don’t become transfixed by it, as the Sirens sought to do to Ulysses.

Letting go of self-interest opens the door to recognizing your true self, more clearly, so you can see whether it’s joined with your outer life and creates a sense of purpose — or clashes with it. Knowing who you are inside — your true values, secret desires, imagination; your capacity for love, empathy, generosity — all relate to and inform your life purpose.

A second theme of those who discover their life purpose is that they use their mental and creative energies to serve something larger than themselves. That is, they’re like the lover who simply gives love for its own sake, without regard for getting something in return, without asking to be loved back or viewing his actions as a transaction or investment. That can be hard to imagine in our mercantile society, but giving your mental, emotional and creative energy from the heart comes naturally when you serve something larger than your self-interest. It beckons you; it calls forth your spirit.

This theme of service to something larger than your ego, larger than “winning” the fruits of what you’re aiming for, takes many forms in people. For some, their service and sense of purpose is embodied in the work that they do every day. That is, what they do reflects the paradox of not directly aiming to achieve something, because doing so only fuels the ego. This theme is described by John Kay, former Director of Oxford’s Business School, in “Obliquity.” There, he shows examples of achieving business or career goals by pursuing them indirectly; by deliberately not pursuing them. That is, too much self-interest tends to undermine success. It’s the difference between passion in the service of creating a new product, rather than trying to capture a big market share from the product.

Service towards something beyond ego is always visible in those who’ve found their purpose, whether younger and older. Sometimes it’s by conscious intent. For example, letting go of a previous path when they awaken to it’s not being in sync with their inner self. Sometimes it’s triggered by unanticipated events that answers an inner yearning

One example is a 20-something woman who, disenchanted with college, returned home and happen to join up with some other musician and artist friends. That led, in turn, to creating a nonprofit organization, the GoodMakers Street Team, a group of passionate young adults who are bringing positive change to communities. Older people are also discovering a newly-found life purpose. For example, the rise of “encore careers” and projects or engagements that they discover are more in sync with their inner selves; and perhaps have lingered in the background of their lives for years.

Sometimes one’s purpose is awakened by a tragedy one learns about, such as person who become moved by victims of torture and discovered his life’s purpose in helping them. Or, a tragedy one experiences, like John Walsh, whose nationally-known work in criminal justice was spurred by the murder of his young son.

Some Guidelines

If you work towards weakening the stranglehold of self-interest, you can take an important step towards discovering your life’s purpose: Learning from your choices and way of life. That is, they can give you important feedback about the path you’ve been on, in relation to your deeper life purpose.

    1. Begin by examining what you’re currently doing in your choices, way of life, and commitments, looking from “outside” yourself. Try to discern what the outcomes — whether successes or failures — reveal to you about your inner self. Look for where there seems to be resonance or not. That is, don’t try to “find” your purpose by tweaking or fine-tuning what you’ve been doing in your work, relationships or anything else. Instead, let all of that teach you what it can. That is, look at what it tells you about your longings, your inner vision and predilections that you might be trying to express through your outer life, even if the latter may be an incorrect vehicle.
    1. When you do feel a pull towards some purpose, activity or goal that you feel reflects your inner self, then pursue it fully and vigorously, and with great intent. Keep looking for the feedback your actions give you along the way. It doesn’t matter if your purpose is something more concrete or more spiritual. If you pursue it with minimal self-interest, with “obliquity,” you will learn from what happens if it’s the true path for you or not.
  1. Infuse all of your actions with a spirit of giving, of service; in effect, with love for what you’re engaging with. That includes all the people you interact with, as well. The more you consciously infuse your thoughts, emotions and behavior with positive, life-affirming energy – kindness, compassion, generosity, justice – you’re keeping your ego at bay and you’re able to see your true purpose with greater clarity.

Of course, this is hard, and you might encounter opposition from cultural pressures or others who have their own interests at stake. Keep in mind, here, something Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.

The Sufi spiritual leader Hazrat Inayat Khan, who brought his teachings to the U.S. and Western Europe in the early 1900s, described the pull of your purpose in an interesting way. He wrote that one

…may suddenly think during the night, “I must go to the north,” and in the morning, he sets out on his journey. He does not know why, he does not know what he is to accomplish there, he only knows that he must go. By going there, he finds something that he has to do and sees that it was the hand of destiny pushing him towards the accomplishment of that purpose which inspired him to go to the north.

I find that men and women who set out to “go north” and awaken to their life purpose radiate a calm inner strength, inspiration, power and success in whatever they do with their lives. It radiates to all around them.

* * * * *Douglas LaBier, Ph.D., a business psychologist and psychotherapist, is Director of the Center for Progressive Development in Washington, D.C. You may email him at dlabier@CenterProgressive.org

YouTube Movie – How Will We Love?

YouTube – How Will We Love?.

 

From the Emmy nominated series, Song of Songs, comes the feature film “How Will We Love?”. This documentary explores romantic love, relationships, and the challenges and rewards of long term commitment.

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From the Emmy nominated series, Song of Songs, comes the feature film “How Will We Love?”. This documentary explores romantic love, relationships, and the challenges and rewards of long term commitment.