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Dr. Eleanor's Blogs

70 is the New 50  

Do you remember as a child anticipating your upcoming birthday and being impatient for it to arrive? Do you feel the same way now that you are older?

As we age we become increasingly aware of our mortality, and with age we experience more apparent signs that we are aging, such as graying hair or lines around our eyes. We move toward degeneration rather than toward generative growth.

Fortunately, we live in a time when aging can remain an adventurous journey toward life quality and joy, since we can be healthy and productive well into our 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

When I was a child, I remember watching my 60-year-old grandmother, gray haired and a bit stooped over, looking like a very old shrunken woman. She was often grouchy which, I know, retrospectively, came from her frail state of health.

I watched my Mother age when she was in her late 60’s with various ailments like arthritis, loss of hearing, and then with progressive loss of memory when she turned 80.

When my husband turned 60, he began to think about retiring and talked as if we were getting old. I quickly stepped in and admonished him for his dismissing his dreams and aspirations stretching into the future. I told him that when I reflected on my own future, I could not imaging giving up the work I love, the activities I so enjoy, and the life we have. I realized that I continue to envision a future in many of the same ways I did when I was in college. I love learning and exploring; I always push my own goals and success points, and I hone them until I feel that I have reached a high level of competence and have internalized the skill. I continue to look forward toward the future and continued health.

Why is 70 the new 50? It is because we now have health technology and procedures that facilitate healthy life styles well into the 80’s and 90’s. Procedures like knee and hip replacements, stem cell regeneration procedures, face lifts using minimally invasive techniques, hair dyes that are safe, and knowledge about eating, supplements, and exercise all go a long way to assuring that health is maintained and optimal for anyone who takes the time and energy to spend time in daily self-care.

One of the most beneficial anti-aging practices is meditation. In the early 1960’s Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought Transcendental Meditation to the West and popularized it. The explosion of meditation and the spread and popularization of yoga and healthy diets initiated a new awareness of the mind/body interaction and this energy spread to become part of mainstream medical and psychological practices.

If you want to remain young in spirit, begin a program of daily self care today. Eat a healthy diet, maintain a low body weight (one of the major markers for longevity), meditate daily, exercise, and most importantly look toward a healthy future filled with new dreams and aspirations. You are able to live a healthy life happy life well into old age feeling internally youthful and resilient. If you need help achieving this goal, email or call me today. ([email protected] or (310) 403-4347).

Assessing Your Core Values: Recognizing Values and Needs

Have you ever considered what makes you consistently yourself?

Values generally remain fairly stable over time. They are quite difficult to change and usually arouse strong feelings not easily amenable to situational fluctuation or change. Most likely, despite changes in you and the conditions of your life, your values have remained fairly stable over time. At times you may have noticed that your feelings have changed about certain issues or about certain people; it is likely that these changes in your feelings were triggered by the behaviors of the other individuals involved, or by the circumstances about which you were concerned, were in conflict with or that deviated from their original position. Your values have probably, thus, been responsible for changing your feelings.

There are numerous ways of assessing values and of illustrating how widely individuals vary in their perceptions of situations and of other people based on their values. Values may be classified broadly into aesthetic, political, economic, social, religious, theoretical.  As you think about yourself and your life in terms of these six classifications, you may be somewhat surprised to note that the values that stand out may be contrary to what you originally and impulsively would have predicted. Often when you examine the important underpinnings and motivating forces in your life, you’ll find that you have been acting in ways that do not direct you toward your goals most efficiently.

In addition, you might be surprised to learn that although you may appear to be behaving in the same way as someone else, you may be doing so based on different values. An example will illustrate: Chad works long hours as president of his own company. He gets to his office at about 8 o’clock in the morning and often stays until 9 or 10 o’clock in the evening working on reports or meeting with clients. He works hard and in talking to him one senses that Chad wants his company to be the top company in its field. He wants to make a success and to be a multimillionaire when he retires. For him, work is a game; it is the most important part of his life and he would work round-the-clock if he could earn more money for his company.

Don, on the other hand, is also president of his own company, and he also works from 8 o’clock in the morning until 9 or 10 o’clock in the evening. Don works hard and wants his company to be successful; his success is motivated by his desire to be involved in the contacts and political power that he can gain by the success of his business. He has been working hard because he wants to be active politically and to use his reputation so he can gain political power. Don sees his work as a means to an end in terms of achieving power rather than money.

These two men both work hard and probably live in similar ways; they are both high-powered, highly motivated, highly successful men. But their values are different and consequently their actions are based on different considerations and on different alternatives.

In assessing yourself, it is important for you to determine the underlying motivations of your behaviors. If you respond based on your needs, you are responding differently than if you respond based on your values. Because of differences involved in needs and values, it is essential that you understand your own values so you can deal with your partner in terms that are acceptable to both of you.

In a relationship where value differences exist, the partners often respond to their differences in ways that indicate that they have not accurately assessed their underlying conflict. Consequently, they attempt to change the other person and when they encounter resistance, as they undoubtedly will, they respond quite negatively and in ways that are hurtful to the other person. Such responses hurt the relationship as well.

A crucial assumption to make in maintaining healthy and well-functioning relationships is that the participants will, at times, have different values and different feelings about things. Part of the foundation of any relationship includes the other person’s right to be unique and to maintain their individual point of view. This acceptance of the other’s individuality is, in fact, acceptance of their right to function autonomously in the world apart from the relationship. To attempt to change the position of this individual, at times, is to impinge on their right to be themselves.

Many years ago, Dr. Thomas Gordon identified a method of differentiating between need and value conflicts. His work remains valid and valuable. According to Dr. Gordon, a need conflict carries with it a concrete and tangible effect on the other person. Thus, if in assessing a situation, you are able to tell the other person how their behavior has a tangible and concrete effect on you, then you are describing how their behavior relates to your getting your needs met. If, on the other hand, the other person’s behavior does not have a tangible and concrete effect on you, then your needs are not affected but you have a conflict of values.

Checking for a concrete and tangible effect on the other person is very simple litmus test that works very well in differentiating values from needs. This assessment and evaluation of values vs. needs is critical in awareness of how you might best proceed in your relationship.

In relating this understanding to your own situation, it might be helpful to you to list the major issues that confront you in your relationship. Then, identify the behavior of the other person to which you react, determine your feelings in response to that behavior, and consider the effects of that behavior on you. If the effects are tangible and concrete you can let your partner know how you feel; if the effects are not tangible or concrete you will know something about your differences in values and can also let your partner know.  However, defining whether the conflict has to do with needs or values will enable you to have realistic expectations of the kinds of change you can anticipate your partner to make.

It is hard to get another person to change their values when feelings are equally important to both of you. Understanding and accepting this fact is essential for a healthy relationship. It can reduce the friction that builds when non-acceptance of the other person is based existing values.

Note: This document was first published in Marriage in Trouble: A Time of Decision (Haspel, 1976).

References
Haspel-Portner, Eleanor. (1976). Marriage in trouble: a time of decision. Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall.

Gordon, Thomas. (1970, 1975) P.E.T. Parent effectiveness training: the tested new way to raise responsible children. New York, NY: Peter H. Wyden, Inc.

The Rule of Three for Conscious Living: How to Meet New Friends 

three ducks flyingMeeting new friends is often a bit anxiety provoking - you find someone attractive but how do you break the ice? Here is a tried and true method to meet new people with a minimum of risk so the process becomes understandable and natural. Try it - you'll see. Three is a magic number.

Fairy tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Wise Men, The Three Musketeers, The Three Stooges, The Three Little Pigs, the Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, and The Three Blind Mice probably bring a smile to your face.

Three is a magical number. It takes three occurrences for the human brain to recognize a pattern. That is why so many quotes have three ideas like: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, “Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit,” “Faith, Hope, and Charity,” – the rule of three makes things stick.

In relationships, three is a charm.

The Rule of Three for Conscious Living says, “When meeting someone you find attractive, it takes at least three contacts to determine mutual interest and comfort to proceed further.”

In the real world of meeting new people or in dating, the most anxiety-producing situations occur when you notice someone you find attractive and you would like to get to know them better.

How do you maximize the “connection” you perceive while minimizing the risk that you have misjudged or that you will lose the current opportunity/opening you have to connect?

The Rule of Three works wonders for initiating Conscious Relationships of all kinds.

Try the Rule of Three for Conscious Relating and Dating

An Example

Contact # 1
Let’s say you are attracted to the teller at the bank. You could flirt, deliver your best pick-up line, and ask what time he or she gets off from work, but you anticipate (correctly) that a person with any class would be uncomfortable with that approach.

What you do for all initial contacts:

  • Smile while making eye contact
  • Introduce yourself so you can ask their name
  • Make small talk, i.e., pay a compliment, be friendly as you would be with anyone in any setting.

Contact # 1 works best as a light, subtle approach. The purpose of this first contact is to walk away having left a positive impression.

Contact # 2
Return to the bank within 24-48 hours. You are on a first name basis with your new contact so you can start with some small talk and add a little personal sharing about something important to you (related to your values, i.e., a requirement in a relationship). For example, talk about your work and perhaps something that happened at work that day, what you do for fun, children, etc., as you would with anyone with whom you might expect to have an in-depth easy conversation. Note the person’s reaction – positive, negative, or neutral. Having revealed something specific about yourself, you then ask him/her about the topic you just brought up, e.g. “How have things been going at the bank for you today?” or “Do you have kids?”

You are seeking to do three things at this step:

  • Discover whether you have anything in common, i.e., do some of your important requirements mesh?
  • Confirm your attraction and interest after discovering something real about this person.
  • Leave another positive impression, this time based upon something real about you.

Contact # 3
Return to bank within 24-48 hours.

  • Imagine that you are meeting an old friend.
  • Talk a bit further about what you have in common.
  • Toward the end of your transaction say, “I really enjoy talking with you, and it seems like we have a lot in common. Would you be interested and available to meet for coffee sometime?”

Notice the above is a clear statement about you, and asks about their interest and availability. Asking in this way is typically construed as friendly, non-threatening, and respectful. You are giving him/her lots of room to decline easily and gracefully.

Most people approached in this way find themselves feeling flattered and positive; don’t worry about the people who take you the wrong way, they simply screen themselves out. You are being authentic, benign, and innocently friendly.

It is very helpful for you and for them that you are not attached to the outcome – they can accept your invitation or not, and you will both be fine either way.

Alternative # 1
If asking this directly is not your preference, offer your business card and say, “I really enjoy talking with you, and it seems that we have a lot in common. Here’s my card. I would love for you to call or e-mail if you are interested and available to meet for coffee sometime.”

Alternative # 2
You can repeat Contact # 2 as many times as you like to build more comfort and learn more about each other before you decide to try # 3.

The Rule of Three for Conscious Relating and Dating can be applied to any social setting, such as a party. In other settings use intervals of 15-30 minutes instead of hours or days. Also use it in public settings like a grocery store!

The level of shared information might be much less in a public setting, but it works very well. Public settings are great places for practicing social and dating skills. If your interest is not reciprocated, it is not a big deal. After all, you’ll probably never see that person again so you have nothing to lose. Set your goal on getting lots of practice. The more you practice any skill, the more proficient you become.

Conclusion
Remember that three is a magic number. It takes at least three contacts to determine mutual interest and comfort before you and the other person decide fully to proceed in relating. The “rule of three” may occur in a short or long period of time, but by recognizing its importance you gain an edge of awareness that can serve you well in reassuring and reducing your anxiety when you find someone you imagine you would like to get to know better.

Try this rule out at the grocery store, the coffee shop, and even on the telephone with strangers. You never know where and how your next valuable and meaningful friendship/relationship will enter your life. And when you use this rule of three and find it valuable, please let me know. I love hearing your success stories!

 

 

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