This past week I volunteered at a conference for psychotherapists learning the model of couples therapy I practice called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT). I attended this same 4 day conference approximately 2 years ago when I was learning the model for the first time, and it drastically changed (for the better!) the way I understand couples relationships, as well as how I understand myself and my relationship with my husband. It was really nice to be a volunteer at the conference because it allowed me to attend the teaching portions again (for free!) and to be able to review the material.
Hearing the material again as someone who has been practicing the model for a few years, new things stuck out to me that I did not notice as much the first time around. One of the things that struck me the most was watching couples who had courageously agreed to allow their sessions to be viewed by the conference attendees for teaching purposes; and one particularly courageous couple who came in for a live demonstration session for us. What stood out to me in each of these couples was just how much the two of them clearly meant to each other, and how blocked each of the partners were in accepting and taking in the love that was there between them.
One of the humanistic principles of EFT is that we each learn strategies from a young age to keep ourselves emotionally safe – strategies that come from past experiences, often from experiences of being hurt in early relationships; strategies that keep us from further pain, but that in adulthood, in our romantic relationships, end up keeping us from truly showing who we are and connecting with the person or people that we love. It’s such a difficult reality of the human experience that we are simultaneously wired for love, and wired to avoid threat – and that closeness (love) with others inherently includes the threat of pain, rejection and abandonment. For this reason, it takes courage and conviction to love another and allow yourself to be loved! It reminds me of this quote from the 13th century Persian poet, Rumi:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi
Where are your barriers to allowing yourself to be seen? What are the parts of yourself that you fear showing to others? Where does it get hard for you to take in love and affection from others?
These are all good questions to continuously ask yourself – across situations and relationships! Often we are trying to find love when it is already there for us to simply drink in!
Thanks for reading!
As always, your questions and comments are welcomed!
If you are interested in learning more about EFT, click here: http://www.iceeft.com/
If you are in the Chicagoland area and are looking for an EFT Provider, click here: http://chicagoeft.com/for-clients/chicago-eft-providers/
Last, but not least, for more in depth exploration of human attachment, I strongly recommend Sue Johnson’s new book, Love Sense! http://drsuejohnson.com/books/