On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast therapist and author Dr. Mark Borg talks about his new book, “Don’t Be a Dick,” and shares his advice for how to stay calm and compassionate. (Even when other people are being jerks.)
The Power Of Connection
You Were Built To Bond
So many of us, around this time of year, are working on achieving important personal goals. Many times, our hopes are to rid ourselves of bad habits, unhealthy attachments, and to cultivate positive, energizing new practices, relationships, and lifestyle changes. All to the good… but, as you know if you’ve ever tried, easier said than done.
People can get very upset with themselves when they “fail” to quickly and easily break their bonds to unhelpful behaviors and habits. They shame themselves, feel bad about themselves and can start to feel very discouraged. This is not only not helpful, it’s also based on entirely incorrect assumptions: That making a decision to change, to stop doing something, or start doing another should easily and effortlessly lead to change itself.
One of the key ideas that can completely transform the way you think about changing anything is to consider unhelpful habits or non-ideal practices as things that are currently serving an important purpose in your life — whether you like it or not. Everything we do is, on some level, in service of our core needs.
For example, You have legitimate needs for comfort, for safety, for soothing, and for connection. If you have a bad habit that you’re finding hard to shake, it’s very likely that habit is fulfilling a basic need. Understanding that everything, even behaviors and habits that seem on the surface to be unhelpful or even unhealthy are serving an important purpose for you can open the door to a new, compassionate way of understanding why you do what you do… as well as point the way towards a different, more effective path of growth and change.
Consider this idea: What emerging research into neuroscience is pointing to is the fact that human beings are hardwired to BOND. Ideally, we bond to healthy people and have satisfying relationships. But we can also bond to other things, like gratifying behaviors, substances of abuse, and unhealthy relationships. Your brain is actually built that way! It can be diabolically easy to become bonded to something that’s basically a placeholder for what you really need: safety, security, soothing, love, and connection. (Looking at you, emotional eating!)
By understanding your authentic, deep needs for comfort, emotional safety and connection, you can begin to release unhelpful bonds to behaviors that — while they may meet your needs — are doing so in a “non ideal way.” From this place of enlightenment, self-awareness, and empowerment you can then intentionally create healthy new bonds to things, behaviors and people who energize and nourish you.
The Power of Connection
A leading expert in these new ideas is Jennifer Nicholaisen. Jennifer is the executive director of an addiction treatment center called Seek Healing. She and her colleagues view these emerging ideas about human connection, the power of bonding, and the basic need for emotional safety as THE healing force behind substance abuse recovery. They view the process of addiction recovery as one of breaking unhealthy old bonds (to substances), and establishing healthy new ones to emotionally safe people. Participants in her compassionate program learn how to create healthy connections with other people — connections that feel so powerful that their previous bonds to substances are able to be released.
It’s powerful stuff. And today, Jennifer is with me on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to share her insights with YOU about how you, too, can intentionally cultivate healthy bonds and use the power of connection to create healing and health in your own life.
I hope you listen to this very special episode, and that it provides you with a helpful new perspective for understanding yourself and others.
All the best,
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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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