Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Differentiation/Holding On To Yourself

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    8,982

    Default Differentiation/Holding On To Yourself

    I just wanted to share this which I have recently learnt about. It's from the Passionate Marriage book by David Schnarch and it's really helping me grow as a person - you know when you get sick of going around in circles with something that keeps coming up... well I have found this as being a great way to help myself. Its a decent sized book so hopefully this snippet makes sense. It's regarded as THE pioneering book on intimate human relationships and I highly recommend it for those who want real, long term growth.

    Differentiation

    David Schnarch, Ph.D., the author of Passionate Marriage, suggests that in order to grow within an emotionally committed relationship, we must experience the process of “differentiation.” This means holding onto yourself within a relationship, staying true to what you want out of life while sharing your life with a partner. Differentiation allows us to break free from the negative processes that happen between partners in any relationship. It allows us to take a time out from arguments in order to comfort ourselves. It leads to self-control, which means that we can stop trying to control our partners. The differentiated partner is able to soothe him- or herself rather than pressuring the other person to change in order to make the first one feel better. Paradoxically, when partners differentiate, they actually have the ability to achieve more intimacy, while undifferentiated partners can stay locked in their emotional standoff. And when one partner differentiates, it upsets the old equilibrium that had developed so that the other partner is prompted to make changes as well. In short, a healthy relationship is one in which two people, each of whom has a firm sense of self, come together and celebrate both their differences and their similarities.

    Schnarch identifies several activities that happen when a person differentiates.

    Maintaining a clear sense of who you are within the relationship. Your partner was probably originally attracted to you because of the strength of your unique qualities. Both of you knew what you valued and believed in. Over time, because we accommodate ourselves to both our own and our partner’s more immature qualities and unresolved issues, we lose our sense of uniqueness. We compromise ourselves with the goal of smoothing out conflicts and fail to realize that we are losing our sense of self in the process. We may find that we have lost those qualities that were once so attractive to our partner. Differentiation involves looking within, gaining a firm definition of who we are, and celebrating our uniqueness.



    Maintaining a sense of perspective. We need to accept the fact that we all have anxieties and other shortcomings. This is part of the human condition. The mature person, however, understands that these frailties need not determine our behavior. Our limits should neither incapacitate nor drive us. When we honestly accept this fact both in ourselves and in our partners, we can take a more balanced approach in dealing with each other’s limitations. The peaks and valleys of crises can be smoothed out. The blaming can come to an end, replaced by acceptance and love for the other person.

    Committing to a willingness to engage in self-confrontation. Looking within is difficult, but it is a necessary step both in our own life development and in helping our relationships to grow to new levels. Self-confrontation means coming to terms with our own fears, anxieties, and insecurities, a process that may be aided by professional psychotherapy. It may mean accepting the criticisms of our partners as valuable feedback about where our insecurities lie. Self-examination can focus on understanding how and why we manipulate others, undermine our own effectiveness, take a selfish approach at times (or, alternatively, give to others and never to ourselves), and work against our own best interests. We need to understand why we avoid ourselves, and then we need to make an honest commitment to enter into a path of honesty and integrity.

    Acknowledging our projections and distortions of reality that protect us from ourselves. We need to understand why we blame others, especially our emotionally committed partners, rather than acknowledging our own participation in interpersonal conflicts. This involves admitting when we are wrong. We should not expect that our partners will do likewise. Taking an honest approach toward our own lives is a tough, but rewarding, journey into personal integrity. When we embark on the trip, our partners, who are no longer feeling blamed and know that the old emotional standoffs have been eliminated, will often decide to begin their own excursions into self-growth.

    Learning to tolerate the pain involved in self-exploration. Dealing with emotional pain is a talent, which can be learned. In childhood many of us learned unhealthy ways of handling discomfort, often because we lacked supportive role modeling from our parents or other adults that would have taught us how to deal with pain in a healthier way. We may have learned to blame our parents when we faced life’s difficulties, and then we carry this blaming behavior into our committed relationships in adulthood.

    Avoiding pain is the reason many adults indulge in substance abuse or other addictive behaviors such as gambling, inordinate spending, or watching too much television. The healthier option is to make the adult commitment to explore the pain and its sources – and to find ways to make self-growth a friend rather than something to avoid. When we learn to cope with our own pain, we no longer need to manipulate our partners into making us feel better. And when this happens, the magic can re-enter our relationships.

    Learn to Self-Soothe in the Face of Conflict

    We blame our partners when we feel discomfort, and this tends to create distance within an emotionally committed relationship. The distance, then, creates a feeling of further discomfort. The clue to dealing with this dilemma is to learn how to soothe your own emotional pain. This can open the way to more passion and closeness in your relationship. Schnarch offers several suggestions for helping people to learn the art of self-soothing.

    Don’t take your partner’s behavior personally. Even if your partner doesn’t make all the changes that you’ve made, it should not be taken personally. If you and your partner are having a conflict, try some inwardly focused relaxation techniques. Focus on your breathing. Stop talking and try to slow your heart rate. Lower the volume of your speech and work on relaxing your body.

    Put the current conflict into perspective. Think about past instances of the same type of conflict. What resources did you use in the past for dealing with the conflict? Think about how discomfort will surface again in the future - and if you learn now how to deal with it, you will be better off in these future instances.

    Control your behavior, even if you can’t regulate your emotions. While we may have difficulty in controlling our emotions, especially in the face of a conflict, we can have control over our behavior. Prevent yourself from saying and doing things that you will regret later. Tell yourself: “I don’t have to take action on my feelings.”

    Stop the negative thinking. Our thoughts drive our feelings and behavior. When you find yourself engaged in negative thinking, make the change to more positive thoughts. Accept what is happening and then calm down.

    You may have to break contact temporarily with your partner until things cool down. When you are engaged in a conflict, you may need some time to get in touch with your self again. Look on this as a time-out, not a separation. Tell your partner that you need some time alone to calm down and that you can discuss the issue better later, after both of you have had some space from each other.

    Self-soothing does not involve substance abuse, the abuse of food, or emotional regression. You need time to confront yourself and understand what your part in the conflict may be. This does not mean hiding out, sleeping, binge-eating, or the use of drugs or alcohol, which are all ways to avoid self-confrontation.
    Last edited by BellyBelly; January 28th, 2010 at 01:26 PM.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    In 2015 I went Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    soon to be somewhere exotic
    Posts
    1,550

    Default

    I am so going to have to get a copy of this. Saw the post on your fb page as well and have bookmarked his site.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    8,982

    Default

    Its awesome hon. I keep getting hold of brilliant books lately, doing so much growing but also like I mentioned finding it very confronting and stirring up anxiety a great deal... but in a different way. Before you read his other books, this one is best first as he talks about the concepts in subsequent books and we were a bit lost, so this one is the best starter... you'll get so much out of it
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    In 2015 I went Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    On the other side of this screen!!!
    Posts
    11,129

    Default

    Excellent post, thanks Kelly. Differentiation is the reason I kept my maiden name...as a permanent reminder of what to aim for. Saw my mother lose herself within three different relationships (and the conflict and pain that resulted) and decided to never go there. But it's not always easy. I need to work on my self-soothing skills (esp when I'm premenstrual & feeling insecure ).
    Last edited by AnyDream; December 29th, 2009 at 05:54 PM.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Rural NSW
    Posts
    6,975

    Default

    Whilst DH and i don't have the "perfect" relationship I think we have managed to stay differentiated. It's a very important concept. After 16 years we still enjoy each others company... and find each other genuinely interesting. The "self soothing" is sooo very important as well... sadly i see too many couples who seem to have the expectation that it is their loved ones 'job' to make them happy and to constantly soothe them like they are a substitute parent Sure a partner can make you happy... but at the end of the day it's YOUR job to find happiness... not their job to provide it for you on a platter IYKWIM.

    This sounds like a very worthwhile book Kelly, i'll be keeping an eye out for it, thanks for sharing

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    landsborough, qld
    Posts
    2

    Default

    i second that this is a very good book. encourages you to take a very real look at yourself, the games we play and the ways we manipulate. loved it.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, Australia
    Posts
    8,982

    Default

    I love it, I am going through more of his books too. Took a little bit to 'get' it but as time and life goes on, its definitely ingrained and I find myself thinking differently and recalling parts of this book. Such a huge change from who I used to be!
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    In 2015 I went Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •