Ghosts (Harold’s response)
Joanne, being an excellent therapist herself, is insightful as she assesses the stance of Rob and Celia's therapist Carolyn. There is someone or something (the ghost) behind Celia that is influencing her behavior. And, it is in everyone's best interest to try to make this subconscious influence more conscious. Good therapists like Joanne (and Carolyn) know the behavioral and emotional markers to look for in spotting these ghosts. But, how can those ghosts be spotted in everyday situations when Joanne and Carolyn aren't around? Here are four "signs" to clue you in when a ghost is present in your intimate relationship:
(1) As Joanne pointed out, look for a disproportionate emotional response. If your partner is giving you verbal or non-verbal feedback that seems overblown relative to the situation, there is probably a ghost present.
(2) There are certain land mine topics that explode every time you touch it--so you may have learned to stay away from these topics.
(3) There are topics about which your partner does not or refuses to talk about--so you may not know much information about certain incidences or periods in his/her life
(4) Your partner behaves differently (maybe more withdrawn, silent, sensitive) when around particular people
Although these tips may give you more insight into when these ghosts are at work, it still remains difficult to resolve them-often because they are associated with deep-seated emotions. Professionals such as Joanne are helpful to get underneath these. But, one of the best things you can do on your own when you recognize a ghost may be present is to be patient and reassure your partner that you are there for them. Don't try to force everything on the table in one or two discussions. Give it time.
I have given four signs that ghosts may be present. But, I'm sure there are others. What can you add to this list from your experience?
This may be a part of (1) or (4), but it is what I call - “getting busy”. It’s avoidance to the extreme, disguised as productivity. I’ve done it and so have my partners, yet the problem always remains, shoved aside by “life”.
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