Peter’s couple therapy blog

What holds us back from getting help

We take almost all the decisive steps in our lives as a result of slight inner adjustments of which we are barely conscious. Sebold

Early in the development of relationships problems, fear and shame hold us back from seeking help. The more connected we are to our loved ones, the less likely fear will swallow our endeavours. A deep sense of belonging tames fear. Attachment is evolution’s buffer against trauma and loss. Secure attachment is the basis of resilience.

Our brains are shaped to emphasize the negative and prioritize fear. Most brains keep a map of memories skewed to losses rather than gains. Our physiological responses to threats and unpleasantness are faster, stronger and harder to inhibit than responses to opportunity and pleasure. Haidt

Furthermore, we predict the future from the vividness and emotional impact of past events rather than on the probability of a recurrence. Many people suffer from avoiding or accounting for risks that are vanishingly small whilst not attending to obvious widespread, high risk behaviours. The difficulty is that when afraid or upset we’re less able to judge risk, including the risk of unhappiness.

The art of happiness thus requires out-foxing our fears and placing the pursuit of happiness to one side, obliquely, and observing our thinking/feeling process rather than identifying with it.

So how do I get my partner to seek help? Stop criticising the failure to do so – that will take out your part in the shaming, and it may diminish the fear of failure that could underlie the fears in seeking help. Start thinking about the times and places where you and your partner really connect. DO more of that.

Communication follows connection not the other way around. Start being curious about the fear and the memories that are skewed to losses rather than gains.

Spend a session interviewing Tamar and I to work out if we are a good fit for you and your partner.

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