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Intimacy Creation - A Love Skill

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson covers intimacy ignorance; the two major kinds of intimacy; sexual intimacy; emotional intimacy; the cultural complications of intimacy; and then gives you a dozen ways to work toward creating and enhancing emotional intimacy in your own, personal life.

Intimacy Ignorance

Can you say “My most intimate experiences are among the very best experiences of my life!”?  Can you say “The intimacy I share with those I love most provides me with my most valued, special feelings!”?  Can you say “Intimacy with a loved one has been a supreme and sublime, love experience like no other!!”?  Can you say “I know very well how to go about creating intimacy and intimacy experiences with those I love!”?

“She told me we just were not intimate enough, often enough.  At first I thought she meant sex but that turned out to be quite wrong.  So what does she mean?  How in the world do I go about whatever this intimacy thing is?”

Often I hear this sort of question when I’m doing relationship counseling or coaching with men.  However, there are related statements I get from females. Their statements often are something like “Isn’t he just supposed to know how to be intimate if he loves me?  If he hasn’t learned how to be intimate by now doesn’t that mean something’s wrong with him and our relationship can’t work?  If I have to tell him how to be intimate won’t that spoil it? ”

Sometimes I get a female’s statement like this: “I don’t know how to tell him what I mean by intimacy.  He is willing to learn but I only know it when I feel it, but I can’t explain how to get there.  Of course, there are females who make statements more like the males and males who make statements more like the females, so it’s not strictly a gender thing.

Another kind of statement I sometimes get in counseling concerning intimacy goes like this: “Our sex just isn’t very intimate.” Or sometimes, “ When we feel really intimate with each other it just never turns into anything sexual, and I want it to be sexual at least sometimes but we don’t know how to make that happen.”.

Two Kinds of Intimacy

I like to suggest that the first thing to get clear about is that there are two main types of intimacy – emotional and sexual.  They go well together but also they can be confused with one another.  When this confusion occurs people frequently end up having difficult problems with each other.  It also is quite important to understand that people can have sex without emotional intimacy just as easily as they can have emotional intimacy without sex.

Sexual Intimacy

Sexual intimacy can be said to occur when people closely and personally experience each other’s activated and shared sexuality.  This can occur via sight, sound, touch, scent, taste and kinetics.  It also can occur via shared sexual thoughts and feelings, well shown and expressed physically and emotionally.

Sexual Intimacy often involves disclosing one’s sexual self to another, accompanied by close and extensive body exploration, and the sharing and showing of erotic responses to erotic stimuli.  Sexual Intimacy may or may not involve sexual intercourse and orgasm but it often does.  Some people do not seem to be able to do sexual intimacy without emotional intimacy, while others do so rather easily.

Still others mix and separate the two, at will, depending on who is involved and their own, individual, love situation.  Sometimes the words intimacy or sexual intimacy are used to merely mean sexual intercourse or that some other form of sexual action has occurred.  This, I suggest, is a misuse and more misleading way of using these words.

Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy for most people is a little harder to identify and define.  Emotional intimacy can be said to occur when someone feels an emotional, close, personal contact and connection with another.  This usually is accompanied with feelings of warm, private affection and positive regard, and not infrequently with very strong, personal love of one type or another.

Emotional intimacy can be marked by a depth and breadth of knowledge of another, and a sense of emotional interweaving with the inner core or essential nature of another’s innermost, true self.  It is most likely to occur when strong emotions are felt and shared.  It can come with close, physical, mental, social and emotional association.

Occasionally it brings on a sense of two or more beings, at least temporarily, having a fusion of their core spirits and real personalities.  Emotional intimacy frequently leads to increased love bonding, sometimes accompanied by a sense of awe and of being spiritually understood and connected.  Recent evidence suggests that when emotional intimacy occurs there are strong, healthful and perhaps fairly rare neurochemical processes occurring in the limbic system of the brain.

Cultural Complications

In the larger, Western world, growing, mega-culture it seems like not a lot of people learn what emotional intimacy is, let alone how to create it.  Even fewer appear to learn how to maintain and grow intimacy in ongoing relationships.  In our more ‘macho’ societies emotional intimacy often is regarded by males as feminine and, thereafter, disregarded, ignored and avoided.

It’s interesting that in some societal spheres things seen as feminine are put on an ‘idealized pedestal’ in principle but devalued and psychologically trashed in actuality.  Then there are those people who fake intimacy as just a way to gain something on their hidden agenda list like money, sex, marriage, etc.

After attainment of the hidden motive, the intimacy actions disappear.  This seems to occur particularly often in cultures and societal groups oriented primarily to commercialism, consumerism, power, status attainment, etc. rather than love, cooperation, mutuality and having a deeper quality of life.

However, all over the world there are people longing and striving for intimate love connections, intimate romance, emotionally intimate sex, and relationships filled with intimate emotional intercourse.  All over the world there is the question “How do you go about being emotionally intimate?”.  It would seem most people have very few, clear answers.  The good news is you can learn how to enhance and grow your intimacy-making skills and, thereby, strengthen and improve your love relationships.

A Dozen Ways to Work Toward Creating and Enhancing Emotional Intimacy

1.    Get Close  As you relate to someone slowly get physically closer and closer to them if the relating seems to be going well.  The closer you get physically the more likely you are to be able to be emotionally intimate.  When close make lots of eye contact.

2.    Talk Quietly  Intimate, personal talk is low-voiced, quiet talk, at least at first.  Shouting with shared exuberance may come later but until it does almost whispering does best.

3.    Talk Emotions  Learn and use the many terms for emotions.  Identify emotional feelings, ask about emotional feelings, share emotional feelings, and never leave emotional feelings out.

4.    Listen Well  Always be able to repeat back, nearly verbatim, what a loved one or an important other says to you.  Always be able to label, describe, or ask about the emotions involved in what you heard.

5.    Touch Carefully  First, softly touch the hard parts like shoulders, elbows, wrists, etc.  And later softer parts. At first, hug gently but then firmly and strongly.

6.    Reveal Private Feelings  Going ‘psychologically naked’, more and more, is essential for intimacy development.  Revealing the emotions you have and sometimes the physical feelings, along with behaviors and thoughts, history, hopes, etc. is required.

7.    Respect and Accept Revelations and Sharings  Usually with kindness and without shock judgment or criticism receive what others intimately share and reveal.

8.    Expressionally Communicate Lots  Facial expression, tonal expression, gestural expression, and postural expression often are more important than verbal expressions.

9.    Show Care  Have real care for what another is experiencing and show it, be it happiness, or agony, or the most mundane of things.

10.    Adventure Together Emotionally  Create and seek out experiences you can jointly experience together that are likely to engender emotions be they strong, delicate, tender, inspiring, surprising, reassuring, intense, serene, ecstatic, moving or anything else.

11.    Take and Make Time  Make and take the time it takes to have emotional intimacy and don’t rush it.

12.    Empathize Frequently  Emotional intimacy takes joining with another by empathetically and sometimes passionately sharing their pains, and pleasures and also their mediocre times.  Avoid becoming emotionally distant, distracted, absent or frequently attitudinally against those you would love and be emotionally intimate with.

Hopefully these 12 points will help you grow your intimacy-making love skills. Of course, there’s lots more to learn so probably you will need to venture into this topic more.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Can you fantasize and then analyze what would be a wonderfully, emotionally, intimate experience for you and your most beloved?

Friendship Love’s New Significance

Mini-Love-Lesson  #235

Synopsis: Good and better friendship and its new importance for how you identify yourself, feel about yourself, attain better happiness, health and longevity, along with the love guidance of your own answers to important questions are intriguingly presented here.

What You Do and Personal Importance?

Who are you and what do you do?  Isn’t that what everybody asks about when they first meet someone new?  Well, not everyone but those are the questions many people try to answer first just about everywhere in the modern. middle class, Western world.  This is especially true for males and for those whose occupation is their primary identity.  It is a bit less true for those who hold lesser status jobs and those who travel in old wealth circles.  For many millions their occupation is there foremost identifying factor.  Usually tied to that is a sense of their identity, personal worth, societal value and peer group importance.

So, if your occupation is abolished and that work is accomplished using algorithms and creating machines to do your job, who are you and what will you become?  Will you have importance, purpose, worth and significance or will you be and feel useless and without value?  This actually is what is beginning to happen to more and more people as high-tech improvements continue to replace people in all kinds of work.  With a sense of uselessness often comes anxiety, depression, addictions, suicide and other forms of life failure.

However, this does not happen to everyone who loses their work life identity.  Some have been raised to feel important and of worth because of being born into or married into a higher status family, class, caste, race or otherwise more advantaged group.  Then there are a good number who feel good about themselves so long as enough people feel good about them, but if their popularity wanes they may crash.  In the modern Western world, some few others are lucky enough to have been raised in families that understood and taught having a sense of intrinsic worth and healthy self-love (or they learned this on their own through reading, attending courses or being around people who project a love of self and love of others).  Those who have intrinsic self worth have little need of external self valuing factors to feel good about themselves.  Unfortunately, they are a minority.  Some cultures do better at helping people develop a sense of self worth and self love, as do some therapists and counselors.

In many parts of the modern world, the majority of people seem to need an external way of sufficiently feeling good about themselves.  Vast numbers primarily have accomplished this via their work identity.  Take that away and what’s left?

Will Occupational Identity and Its Personal Significance Fade?

Some studies in behavioral economics predict that about 47% of all current occupations are expected to become human free by mid century.

This could grow to 92% by the end of the century according to some experts.  Humans already are increasingly being replaced by smart machines, algorithms, high-tech advances and the like.

So, if this happens to you what is going to happen to your sense of significance, self-esteem, and most importantly how will it affect your healthy self-love (see “Self-Love and 12 Reasons to Develop It”)?  A future looking historian pessimistically warns we are going to have a lot of occupationally useless people around and a great many social and political problems occurring because of that.  So, what is to be done?

Significance Through Love

Can you guess who the people are who suffer least when their occupational or professional identity and its personal validation importance goes away?  The research shows it is the people who have healthy, strong and deep love relationships.  Mainly that means strong, ongoing friendships where healthy, real, sibling-like love exists.  Healthy, loving families and love mates count too.  Perhaps that is because their ways of doing love are very similar to the ways of real, friendship love (see “Understanding Friendship: From Mild Geniality to Profound Love”).  Note: If somebody says “My spouse is my best friend” a healthful mix of love-mate love and friendship love may be occurring. 

Now, let us suppose you met someone new and asked them what they did?  Further suppose that the answer you got was something like this.  “I’m a really good friend and that’s my chief significance”.  Even further suppose that this sort of answer became common and it indicated a primary way to feel good about your own purpose and significance in life.  Suppose also that it became common knowledge that having deep, real, love friendships lengthens life, reduces susceptibility to illness, magnifies general happiness and improves quality living just about every way one can measure it.  All of which is true.  Most of all suppose that nearly everybody’s primary sense of self worth was largely linked to how well they did love relationships and especially friendship love.  Suspect that more friendship love in the world might lead to more altruistic love, family love, healthy self-love and, of course, mate-love along with all the other healthful forms of love (see “Friendship Love and Its Extraordinary Importance”).

What to Do with This?

With the above ideas in mind, let’s look at some very important wide-ranging questions.  If your occupation was abolished and you were replaced by a machine, would your self-concept and self-esteem suffer?  What about your sense of life purpose?  Do you work at improving your friendship skills?  Are you doing things to improve the friendships you have?  How much could pride of being good at friendship love skills help you with your sense of being a person of worth and significance?  By way of healthy self-love, do you give yourself the gift of good friendships?  Do you need to learn more about the how to’s of good friendship and friendship love?  Do you think it might be good for you to make your sense of self worth less work-dependent?  Are you aware that having a few high-quality friends is much more important and healthful than having a high number of acquaintance-level friends?  Are you someone’s good friend?  If so, are you positive about yourself for being a good friend?  Are you in fact your own really good friend?  In healthy self-love could you be your own better friend?

With each of those questions, think of the answers you gave yourself and turn them into guidance messages.  Then, of course, seriously consider following the guidance you presenting to yourself.

One More Little Thing

How about talking all this over with a friend, or potential friend.  If you do that, please mention this website and our free subscription service.  By doing so, you will do us and them a friendly, good turn.  Thanks.

As always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: Who loves you best – a friend that tells you what you want to hear, one who tells you what you don’t want to hear but need to, one who tells you both or one who tells you little but very lovingly really listens to you?

Self-Love and 12 Reasons to Develop It

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson covers what self-love means and does not mean; a list of 12 of the many things healthy self-love helps us do; and how to work and grow using this list.

What Self-Love Means

Healthy, real self-love means you highly value, honor and enjoying the unique bundle of miracles that you are, and that you have been since birth.

Self-love means because you highly honor your own essence and your individual shaping by life, you treat yourself well respecting the one-of-a-kind self you are.  Therefore, you are prone to act to safeguard and develop your gifts and appreciate your unique nature.  Self-love also can mean that you powerfully strive to thrive, live with vitality, delight in your natural self, and that you can be in awe of your own, miraculous, natural processes.

Self-love can mean you actively desire and work for your own well-being and strive to be your best self, not only for yourself but for those you love and care about.  You do that partially because the well-being of others, in a sense, selfishly means a great deal to you.  Self-love also can mean that you take healthful pleasure in the many ways you are built to experience pleasure and share pleasure.  Self-love also can mean that you work against the anti-self-love teachings, programming, and influences that come into your life that would rob you of your strengths, restrict use of your talents, and deprive you of becoming the best self you can become.  Self-love also means that you act toward yourself, feel toward yourself and think about yourself in the ways that are in accord with the definition of love offered at this site.

What Healthy Self-Love Does Not Mean

Healthy self-love does not mean becoming uncaring, ungenerous, mean, stingy, greedy, egotistical, covetous, uncharitable, miserly, narcissistic, hedonistic, sociopathic or self-absorbed.  In fact it means quite the opposite of those things.  That’s because healthy self-love leads to more and better love of others.

You see, when you love yourself healthfully you have the selfish desire to see your loved ones do well, and that leads you to act for their benefit.  Their benefit is your benefit.  It is those who are poor in self-love that go ‘out of balance’ and become stingy, destructively selfish, mean-spirited, etc.  Healthy self-love helps you live by the ancient wisdom which says “Love Others As You Love Yourself”.

What Healthy Self-Love Helps You To:

1.    Believe that the love you have to offer others is good and, therefore, you offer it more

2.    Have a self generating source of energy and power to get through hard times when no one else is giving you their love

3.    Have greater self-confidence and, therefore, accomplish more

4.    Have greater self-reliance and, therefore, be less dependent

5.    Develop more adult maturity so you can emotionally take care of yourself rather than be like a ‘needy child’ who must be taken care of

6.    Be free to ‘want love’ instead of living in a state of ‘need love’ like a weak and needy person more susceptible to false love addiction

7.    Become more ‘inner self-directed’ than ‘outer other-directed’ and, therefore, live more true to yourself, rather than betraying yourself for the approval and acceptance of others, or rather than becoming dutifully or slavishly conformist

8.    Enjoy the praise, thanks and compliments that come from others, rather than automatically discounting them, or being suspicious of them, or becoming addicted to them

9.    Become motivated to take care of yourself so that you have more to offer both to yourself and others, instead of needlessly sacrificing and wasting yourself

10.    Be careful that the love that’s coming to you is of good quality, instead of taking       anything you can get (which includes phony love, contaminated love and love substitutes)

11.    Open yourself up to love chances, opportunities and adventures, instead of being overly protective or defensive about the love you have and, thereby, letting lots more love in

12.    Love life, love others and all that can be loved much more freely because you keep enough of your heart full through healthy self-loving to be able to give a lot

Working and Growing with This List

As a sort of homework to help grow your healthy self-love, you might consider doing these things.  Go back over the 12 items seeing which ones ‘grab’ your attention the most.  It is rather likely that those are the ones that it would be really good for you to examine closely and see if they point to areas you might want to make improvements in.  Are there any of the above items that cause you any level of discomfort or disturbance?  If so, that may represent some area you perhaps are vulnerable in and which needs some strengthening.

Are any of the above items more puzzling, confusing, confounding or curiosity generating?  Those, in particular, may (with study) yield clues pointing to areas you might want to and need to explore further.  When working on healthy self-love many people make really good gains by journaling about their learning and growing healthy self-love, and you might want to do the same.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Do you know the difference between when you are being healthfully self loving and when you are being destructively selfish, arrogant, conceited, haughty, contemptuous, scornful etc.?

Entropy Killing Love in Your Life?

Mini-Love-Lesson  #234

Synopsis: First comes how entropy sneaks up and blocks vital needs for love’s thriving and surviving.  Entropy then leads to relational stagnation, then deterioration and destruction.  Next comes ways to counter entropy using nature’s sigmoid curve pattern of near universal improvement.  Jonas Salk’s works on this are then recommended.

Entropy And Love Life

ALERT! ALERT! Describing their couple’s problems Mike and Michelle used two of the main warning terms that can alert a couple’s counselor that their underling problem may involve – entropy.  Entropy may derail the love actions that  keep every love relationship healthy and alive.  The terms Mike and Michelle used were “growing colder” and “falling apart”.  That is what entropy causes wherever it invades – a growing colder and a falling apart.

The word entropy has widespread usage in the sciences.  This is because entropy is seen as a prevailing process in nature, discovered as occurring in a great many fields as far ranging as thermodynamics, where it was first discovered, in biology and social psychology.

In love relationships, entropy refers to social animals (including humans) in bonded relationship with each other experiencing a neuro/emotional cooling-off toward each other and a falling apart, or disorganizing deterioration of their relationship functioning.  Intriguingly, there are some indications that relational entropy may be accompanied by a biological temperature cooling and some neural network disorganization in parts of the brain associated with love relating.  However, those are just surface symptoms in the entropy process.  Relational entropy involves several deeper and much more important dynamic components.

Love Entropy in Your Life

The form of entropy that may affect love in your life is thought to work like this.  In all romantic relationships, you get attracted and then involved and a love or love-like relationship starts taking off.  At some point, this acceleration begins to level off in intensity.  Then, it may take a crash and burn dive and be over (see “Startup Love Is Never Enough !” and “What Makes Love Last?”). If the relationship continues, it goes on into a Plateau stage and this is where entropy comes into play.   Sooner or later, the Plateau phase reaches a critical juncture whereby one of two directions is taken – a slow entropic decline or accelerated improvement.

In the first half of the entropic dynamic, a slow, subtle, usually unnoticed decline starts occurring.  There seemingly safe sameness, comfort and habit start to block-out important relationship, nourishing changes which are increasingly needed.  Those blocked-out, healthy, positive changes contain the very things that keep an ongoing love relationship repeatedly revitalizing itself.  These blocks maintain sameness but result in not opening to fresh inputs, not looking for and perceiving better options, not exploring innovative improvements, not discovering refreshing life variations and not engaging in sufficient, enlivening, love-action diversity.  If some change does occur, there still may be a longing for and attempting to recapture past ways, even when the changes are beneficial.  That is the first half of the dynamic of love relational entropy.

The second half goes like this.  The above entropic process leads to relationship stagnation.  Stagnation inevitably leads to deterioration and deterioration results in eventual relational destruction.  In this entropic process, the behaviors that convey love tend to be increasingly taken for granted.  Then they reduce in frequency and potency.  This reduction in love-conveying actions starves the relationship of love interactions and their relational life-giving and sustaining function.  Without actions giving and receiving love, the love relationship does not thrive and eventually may not survive even though love feelings can still exist.

Preventing and Curing Love Entropy

In family functioning studies, long ago it was discovered that the healthiest families and couples look the most different from year to year compared to mid-range-functioning and more dysfunctioning families and couples.  Together, the high functioning loving families and couples learn new things, go new places, do new things, interact with new people, make new friends have new adventures, engage in new ways to enjoy life including sexuality, and express their love in new as well as old ways.  They also continuously work together to improve, sophisticate and mature their ways of interacting with each other.  Most of this work is done in an enjoyable fashion though it still may be pretty bumpy during various problematic times (Timberlawn Successful Families Research Studies).

Higher functioning love relationships do tend to level off into Plateau phases but when they begin to decline a bit it is more likely to be noticed and worked on jointly.  This team work leads to a new phase of improvement acceleration where refreshing and re-invigorating change occurs.

New higher plateaus are reached and the process repeats itself in an upward, stair climbing sort of pattern of love relationship revitalization.  Crises and other problems occasionally lead to a downward spikes in relationship functioning.  With work, they usually recover and the highest plateau of functioning can be returned to.  Depending on the type and degree of difficulty, recovery may take some time.  This acceleration, leveling off on a new higher Plateau, followed by new acceleration achieving an even higher new Plateau process is what prevents and cures relational love entropy.  As couples age, the upward steps do tend to get smaller but often easier to achieve as long as health and general welfare are maintained.

Throughout the anti-entropy process, whenever emotional cooling is detected, participants jointly engage in fresh warming up love behaviors.  Whenever decline or threats to love functioning happen, more serious love relationship repair actions are taken.  Whenever signs of stagnation are revealed, conjoint plans are carried out for having new, positive experiences.

Frequently old, positive, love and life behaviors continue or occasionally are returned to but usually with a new twist or variation that helps them be both old and new at the same time.

Following the Sigmoid Curves of Life and Love Improvement

The acceleration upward, leveling off and accelerating again to a higher level pattern has been found to be an improvement pattern that exists in many things including many areas of human life and love.  It has a name.  It is called the Sigmoid Curve.  That curve has a sort of flattened out, S-shaped configuration.  It follows the pattern that airplanes taking off often follow.  They begin going down the runway faster and faster, then take off and try to travel on a steep incline upward, then level off for the long haul.  This is being looked at as perhaps a universal, natural pattern of improvement in bio-psycho-social dynamics.  This pattern of improvement can be sabotaged by the dynamics of entropy.   It is suspected that when people work with natural patterns things tend to go synchronistically better.

Together Mike and Michelle took to heart the knowledge you have just read, and went to work learning about and practicing the how-to’s of giving, getting and doing healthy, real love in new and better ways (see “Learning about Love – Together”).  They also learned to spot the beginning symptoms of entropy and to work toward upward, accelerated improvement instead of letting the destructive forces of entropy ruin their relationship.  They closely followed what they learned about using the Sigmoid Curve for love and life improvement.  If you happen to want to learn more about all this, you might want to start by reading A New Reality, Human Evolution and a Sustainable Future by Jonas and Jonathan Salk (of polio vaccine fame).  Courses and Workshops sometimes are available on the Sigmoid Curve and avoiding entropy which are applicable to just about every aspect of life via the Salk Institute.

One More Thing. Talking to others about what you just read can turn out to be exciting, stimulating, enlightening and quite fun.  So, if you do that, please mention this site as a source of knowledge about healthy, real love.  Thanks.

As always –Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Quotable Question: If we only do the same old thing and don’t at least occasionally experiment with the new and different, can we become renewed, refreshed, re-enlivened or love renewed?

Listening With Love and IN and OUT Brain Functions

Synopsis: This mini-love-lesson presents a super common, communication, love problem; and then goes on to explain how the OUT part of the process works; vent assistance and interference; how the IN part works; and some of what to do and not to do.

A Super Common, Communication, Love Problem

See if you can figure out what these common questions have to do with each other.  “Why do I feel shut down when my lover wants to fix my problem instead of listening to me?”  “How come it helps me more to vent to a person who shows care than to just vent and blow off steam when I’m alone?”  “Since venting, even with someone who shows love, doesn’t really change anything or solve any problems why do so many people want to do it?”  “How is it that just about every time I try to advise or analyze my lover’s problems it starts an argument and we both end up feeling bad?”

Couples, parents with upset children, family members, friends and others in love relationships of one type or another very frequently get into dysfunctionality in ways that lead to these types of questions.  Often worsening feelings, emotional distancing, estrangement and even breakups occur because people don’t understand the In and Out brain process involved.  With that understanding all this trouble usually can be avoided.

How the “Out” Part of the Process Works

One person starts talking about a difficulty or bad experience they’ve had, and as they do they begin to vent their bad feelings.  The bad or negative emotions they have experienced are, in essence, stored up inside them causing increased muscular tension, strained ligaments and tendons, digestive fluid imbalance, blood pressure difficulty, stress hormone production and a number of brain chemistry imbalances, along with various unhealthy malfunctions, all of which they are not consciously aware of.

Several forms of toxicity are occurring in several biological systems, and will continue unless a venting process is engaged in.  Expulsive and cathartic talking with a fair amount of well demonstrated, unhappy emotions being expressed through tone of voice, facial expression, posture and movements, along with certain kinds of verbiage like complaining, cussing, blaming, griping and generally bemoaning, etc. start and facilitate the venting process.

The venting process then releases, relaxes, relieves, reverses and re-balances the neurochemical and biological, unhealthy processes mentioned above.  When that occurs we feel better, or at least much less bad, because we are neurobiologically better after venting than before venting.  So long as nothing destructive occurs while venting, it is a healthful process.

It is the limbic system of our brain that primarily processes our emotions.  Venting is an appropriate word neurobiologically.  That’s because it is thought that our limbic system operates in a way to trigger the removal of the toxicity and harmful hormones which occur with bad feelings, and assists sending them on to our waste removal system when we are venting.  As we get clear of the toxicity and harmful neurochemistry our brain chemistry re-balances and begins to function better.
Consequently, we feel better and after some recovery we think better.

Vent Assistance and Interference

My very Irish uncle once said, this is what the elves taught him.  “Presenting your concepts to someone having a crying jag or temper fit is like serving a meal to a vomiting man.  Both will give you results no one wants”.  I think he was right.  Trying to teach, advise, reason, analyze or do anything very cognitive with a strongly venting person usually can be experienced by that person as selfish, inappropriate interference.  Until that person’s neurochemical system has had cathartic release, then cleared, followed by recovery and re-balancing their cognition system may not be ready to operate well.  Thus, their thinking about what you’re trying to tell them just won’t happen, or won’t happen very well.

When someone you love needs to vent it’s usually best to let them vent!  You might say things like, “Go ahead, let it all out”, “Tell me all about it”, “I want to hear all your feelings”, and “My heart and gut are right here with you”.  Things usually not very good to say are, “Don’t cry”, “Stop being mad”,”You’re making too much of this, be reasonable”, “If you would just stop and think it wouldn’t seem so bad”, “I told you that wouldn’t work” or any ‘fix-it’ talk, unless the person venting specifically and maybe repeatedly asks for help with their problem.

Caring statements said in soft, loving tones may do some good, but it’s the tones not the words that usually bring about the benefit.  None of the above ‘fix it’ or ‘teaching’ statements emotionally join with a person, or assist them in venting, and though they may have some immediate benefit to you their longer-range benefits are not so likely.

How The “In” Part Works

If, as a loved one vents their bad feelings, you look at them with caring eyes, you speak to them with loving tones, your facial expression shows earnest caring love, your gestures are open to them, and your posture leans toward them in a friendly manner, then you are helping to pour your healing love into them, replacing the emotional poison pouring out of them.

If you do not contaminate their outpouring by feeding them too many words or concepts, but just show care in these or similar ways you may see your efforts bring about healing and facilitate recovery from what was a toxic event for them.  Adding a few words showing emotional understanding also may help.

In ‘brain functioning terms’ this pretty much is what happens.  Your looks and sounds of love, perhaps coupled with loving touch triggers the wounded loved one’s brain to start making healing, neurochemical compounds that then are carried to many parts of the brain and throughout the body.  Everywhere they go, healing and re-balancing occurs.  Your loved one then may report that your loving listening has made them feel so much better.  You see, emotional poison or toxicity is pouring out and being replaced by healthful neurochemistry which results from receiving behaviors that convey love.

Some of What To Do and Not To Do

If your loved one is hurting, angry, afraid or experiencing any other strong, ‘bad’ feeling, those feelings are being processed in their brain’s limbic system.  To help them you must do things that stimulate the limbic system, more than the prefrontal cortex, cognition (thinking) system.  Loving facial expressions, tones of voice, gestures, friendly posture changes and loving touch can stimulate a person’s limbic system into doing healthful things.  Logic, reason, facts, analysis, etc. will more likely only do good after the limbic system has processed emotions sufficiently.

Softly saying things like “I care” with a loving look usually does far more good than an intellectually, brilliant solution to your loved one’s problem, which might better be said after their emotions are sufficiently and thoroughly expressed.  The emotional wounds first must be in greater repair before that brilliant solution is offered.

Sufficient venting and healing has to occur before your loved one can hear and maybe use a cognitively helpful idea.  Therefore, do love actions first and lots and then if needed do the thinking together.  Know that sometimes the loving listening is enough and the person who was venting will feel like you filled-up their heart’s gas tank, and they will run on that and do the solution part on their own.  Remember, we all must work with our brain’s way of functioning, not against it.

As always – Go and Grow with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
How good are you at giving active, silent love to a hurting and venting loved one?