face
home contact us site map Links Guestbook About Dr. Frisch Psych Services Order Books

SELF-HELP COLUMN

Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.


How to Lower the Walls You Place Between You and Your Partner
by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

You want to feel closer to your partner but you don’t know how to lower the walls that you place between you and your partner. As much as those walls keep you cut off from your partner, they keep you out of harms way as well. A tough trade-off—intimacy for safety, but one, perhaps, you no longer are willing to continue making.

Feeling connected or feeling safe—it’s a no brainer—you’ll go for safety every time. So how can you transform your desire to feel closer to your partner into reality? How can you reduce your fear to the point that you can be in your relationship without the protection afforded you by the walls that you place between you and your partner?

Fear manifests itself in your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and body. For the sake of this article, let me teach you how to control your fears of emotional intimacy as it manifests itself physically in your body. Just remember the following premise of what I’m about to teach you. You can’t be anxious and relaxed at the same time. If you learn how to relax your body, you won’t experience fear. If you don’t experience fear, you won’t have to activate avoidance and defensive behaviors. By rehearsing in your mind the experience of feeling emotionally connected to your partner, you will better be able to control your fear when you experience it manifest itself in your body. As you decrease the fear that manifests itself in your body by learning how to relax yourself and by rehearsing in your mind the experience of feeling emotionally connected to your partner, you will begin to notice your level of discomfort decrease and your level of emotional connection increase.

You may find it helpful to make an audio tape of the following exercise and play it as you perform the exercise.
 
1.) Close your eyes and breathe through your nose. Notice the air flow through your nostrils as you inhale and exhale through your nose. Allow your mind to attend only to the experience of the air passing through your nose as you inhale and exhale.

2.) Now switch your attention to the top of your head. Notice the sensations that you experience on the top of your head. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

3.) Now switch your attention from the top of your head to your forehead. Again, just notice the sensations in your forehead. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

4.) Now switch your focus from your forehead to your cheeks, nose, and mouth. Notice the sensations in your cheeks, nose, and mouth. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.


5.) Now switch your focus to your neck. Notice the sensations around your neck. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

6.) Now switch to your upper back and chest. Notice the sensations in your upper back and chest. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

7.) Now switch your attention to your heart area—in the middle of your back, and chest. Notice the sensations you experience in those areas. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

8.) Now switch your focus to your stomach and lower back. Notice the sensations that you experience in your stomach and lower back. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

9.) Now switch your attention to your thighs. Notice the sensations in your thighs. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

10.) Now switch your focus down through your legs and, eventually to your feet. Notice the sensations down through your legs and into your feet. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

11.) Now switch your attention upward from the bottom of your feet. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

12.) Now focus your attention upward from the bottom of your feet back to the top of your head by following the next 5 steps. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

13.) Now focus upward from the bottom of your feet and up through your ankles. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

14.) Now focus on your legs, pelvis, lower back, and stomach. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

15.) Now focus your attention on the middle of your body through your chest and back. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

16.) Now focus on your mouth, nose, and cheeks. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

17.) Now focus your attention slowly up through your forehead and back to the top of your head. Continue to focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath.

19.) Now move your attention from the top of your head down through all the parts of your body to the bottom of your feet. Sweep your attention up and down through your body. As you continue to focus on your inhale and exhale, focus your thoughts on the following words: Allow your body to be relaxed while breathing. You may become aware of how you react physically when you allow your partner to get close to you. Experience how your body feels when you imagine allowing your partner getting close to you. Where fear manifests itself in your body, notice the fear, acknowledge the fear, and then replace the fear with a sense of calm. This is a major step for you to learn how to control yourself. After listening to this exercise, continue to focus on your breathing and engage in one last step:

20.) Close your eyes. Create a mental picture of you and your partner holding hands. Visualize you and your partner talking to each other while sitting in a relaxed setting. Notice how it feels to connect with your partner in this visualization. Notice all the feelings that you experience. Notice how your body experiences the mental imagery of connecting with your partner. Notice what feelings manifest themselves and where they manifest themselves in your body. There’s nothing to do about what feelings are stimulated—only notice and acknowledge their presence. Stop this visualization after five minutes.

Please be aware that this exercise is very powerful. Its power lies in presenting you with the opportunity to learn how to control the physical manifestation of your fears by: 1.) Relaxing your body, 2.)   Managing the physical manifestation of your fears, 3.) Learning how to manifest calm in place of fear. It should be practiced, at least once a day, preferably in the morning. Doing this more than once a day, in the morning, afternoon, and evening, will create benefits more rapidly.

Use the visualization in step 20 as an opportunity to rehearse experiencing a close emotional connection with your partner. You’ll be amazed at how this visualization will begin to lower your resistance to getting close to your partner.

Bridge Builder’s Checklist
1.) Commit to creating a stronger emotional connection with your partner.
2.) Commit to identifying the walls that you erect between you and your partner.
3.) Commit to identifying what fears you have about getting close to your partner.
4.) Commit to identifying the behaviors you use to avoid getting close to your partner.
5.) Commit to identifying how your fear of getting close to your partner manifests itself in your thoughts, emotions, and body.
6.) Commit to discussing with your partner the fears you have about getting close.
7.) Commit to discussing the behavioral choices you make in order to not get close to your partner.
8.) Commit to acknowledging to your partner how your avoidance behaviors impact your partner.
9.) Commit to doing the relaxation and visualization technique described above.

For more information about how to create an emotionally intimate relationship with your partner, read Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. free online books, Building Better Bridges: Creating Great Relationships With the People Who Matter Most and Making Molehills Out of Mountains.

G.B.U.

Steve



To return to the top of the page
CLICK HERE

Bridges_Cover-Thumb.jpg (14473 bytes) FREE ONLINE BOOKS!

Enrich Recovery
Resolve Conflict
Reclaim Your Life
Stop Self-Sabotage
Love and Be Loved
Mountains Cover-Thumb.jpg (11877 bytes)
FREE ONLINE BOOKS!

Enrich Recovery
Reclaim Your Life
Liberate Your Soul
Stop Self-Sabotage
Develop Your Spirit