What brings back the love in a relationship?

by Nathan Chua

As I join couples and families in their efforts to improve their lives together, I am beginning to see the wisdom in employing an old marketing slogan from a popular sports brand, “Just do it.” Much of the struggles that couples experience is not that they don’t love each other anymore, but they seem to have lost the ability to feel loved, or be loving.
There are many instances wherein couples think that they have to feel something, to do something. How can I be loving if I don’t feel like it? Unfortunately, the more a couple waits for the feelings to come, the more time is spent on waiting for something that needs acting upon.
This is probably one of the instances when acting or behaving a certain way, comes before the feelings of love. One only needs to go back to the courtship days, when each wants to outdo the other in expressing love. Even if you didn’t like to do certain things, you would do it to win the affections of the other. We do it to bring feelings of love.
So what should couples do to make them fall in love again? Just do it even if you don’t feel like it. No matter how wasteful you think buying those flowers is for your partner, just do it. No matter how much you don’t like expressing words of appreciation or tenderness, just do it.
Another common objection to this idea, is that people often feel it’s faking it to be someone you thought you have not been for so long. “It would feel fake if I were to change into a kinder, more appreciative and transparent person,” as many would say. Well, we can turn this statement around by saying that what you or others have considered to be your personality or style of relating, maybe just you faking it. The real you, is the one who wants to be more expressive, and who wants to act more consistently with how you feel inside. That self has been in hiding because of being hurt or shamed in the past, by the people you entrusted those genuine feelings and desires to.
Just remember you’re doing it because you want to keep the feelings of love. And if the law of averages applies, you will most likely receive the same loving acts in return. Furthermore, just do it because this may be the real you, who has been hidden from sight for so long…for that real you may turn out to be the better, more likable you.

The Extended Family – Vlog

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Is mindfulness the answer to emptiness?

by Nathan Chua

All of us have had that feeling of being sad, despairing, lonely or empty. These are moments when we don’t seem to have any purpose and meaning to go on with our brief experience of being alive. It can be frustrating, making us feel that we are left alone in our “quiet desperation,” as Thoreau had described. We have always longed and searched for that one key to lasting happiness that will take us to an elevated sense of being. It is something we seem to always just see in others, but not in ourselves.

I for one, am no exception. It has been a lifelong search. Until I stumbled upon what has now become somewhat of a craze: mindfulness. Ronald Siegel is an expert on mindfulness. It was wonderful to hear him point out one big reason for our feelings of emptiness. He used the metaphor of the sine wave to drive his point.

Most of our struggles stem from keeping the low points of the sine wave up. Like other experts that have found the reasons for our neuroses, it is not just the feeling bad that gives us trouble, but it is feeling bad about feeling bad. Siegel explains that like the sine wave, it is when we fight the lows that our highs become lower. The wave turns flatter; hence we experience that feeling of being flat or empty. Mindfulness tells us to fully accept those emotions as our friend, who tells us there’s indeed something to be concerned about. It helps us acknowledge the emotions and experience them in parts of our body. We resist the temptation to interpret these emotions with irrational statements. Thoughts like, we are failures for feeling sad, or that we should always be liked by everyone, every time, or that we should be happy all the time.

Here’s how one source defines what mindfulness is:

“[Mindfulness] changes your stance from being actively involved in the drama to being an impartial observer. It encourages you to become a witness to the unfolding of your thoughts and emotions – less critical, more accepting.”

I have a couple of instances in my life that I am fond of relating to my clients. One experience was when I was forced to stop work for three weeks by a former employer, right at Christmas time. Since it was a contractual arrangement, it meant no income for three weeks, just when everyone was celebrating for the holidays. I stopped making interpretations to my feelings, and just started to stay with them, and see in which parts of my body is this sad and worried emotion manifesting. Slowly, like a leaf coming down the river, the emotion goes away. I also used my feelings of sadness and hurt to reach out to friends and seek company.

The second and perhaps one of my favorite things to do, happens when I come home. I have two small potted shrubs in front of my house that bloom what probably are some of the most fragrant flowers I have ever smelled in my life. These blooms do not last very long and appear just a few times a year. You can say I stay in the moment, to stop and smell the flowers. This is probably what Marilyn Peterson referred to when she wrote, “Spirituality has nothing to do with organized religion. Instead, I view it as our reverence for life and our activities in behalf of all that is life affirming.”

Yes, mindfulness has taught me to affirm life, both in its worst and best moments. The key to leaving that emptiness is in living, laughing and crying each moment with acceptance and affirmation. Life is short, stay mindful of each moment, and witness the real colors of living.

What makes counseling different from other ways of learning? – Video

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