Everyone wants a healthy body. But what is supremely desirable and necessary for optimal health and contentment are daily feelings of peace and rewarding emotions. In this area, the foundation of a fulfilling, intimate relationship rests on you and your companion feeling satisfied and happy about how you relate to each other.
Previously I have written about creating better relationships. Focusing on what I truly want and letting go of the false idea that there’s only one correct way to do things in a relationship has already improved my life. Each person in an intimate relationship must maintain positive feelings. This is at the root of intimacy in companionship.
Men And Stress
Men usually don’t like to talk about their feelings of worry or sadness — not even with wife and family. At an early age, a man’s self-esteem becomes tied to his accomplishments in life. And, later, his self-esteem becomes dependent on his ability to provide for himself and his family.
Consequently, when a man loses his job or can’t get work, it detracts from his mood and self-esteem. Added to the approximately 6 million American men who are diagnosed with depression each year, many times more men suffer silently with mild depression and lack of enthusiasm. They also lack sexual passion.
I have observed that when a man becomes somewhat numb to his own feelings and the feelings of others he becomes less loving and more unattractive. If you pay attention to his non-verbal behavior (facial expressions and body language), you can see subtle demonstrations of stress, worry, unhappiness or discontent written all over his face — despite his attempts at occasional forced, socially acceptable smiles.
I have also found that a man will report feelings of despair, worry or discontent in his marriage to a trusted male friend but not to his wife. These feelings are also often expressed in symptoms like stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, chronic back and joint pain or lack of sexual desire. No one can remain in a state of negative emotions for too long and stay in good physical health.
Woman Reaching Out
Women generally react differently to distress. They often have a lot to tell but no one to listen. However, they eventually find an audience to hear them out about their emotional pain. Talks with parents, family or girlfriends usually offer an outlet for feelings to flow. Husbands who truly know how to listen are best, but such men are rare. Most men just have not developed the art of listening to women.
And while men favor quick answers, women don’t want their pain to be minimized by a rapid resolution. They want emotional validation. Given time to work through their feelings, they eventually are receptive to solutions.
The most important underlying contributor to depression or reduced passion for women consists of perceptions of not feeling fully accepted and unconditionally loved by their significant others. Supportive statements by companions can build confidence. Insulting observations can destroy it.
Ongoing verbal, physical or sexual abuse can often lead to clinical depression. Statistics from the Cleveland Clinic show that 10 times more women than men are diagnosed with depression. This stems from the fact that women are much more willing to verbalize their emotions and seek out help from licensed professionals.
For most women, relationships are crucial to feelings of self-worth. (For most men, self-identity depends primarily on accomplishments). Women usually maintain relationships with all the people in their lives as well as with their homes, cars, kitchens and even the clothes they purchase. So when relationships become unhealthy, then they are not truly healthy. Over time, this eventually shows up as physical illness — weight gain, headaches, fibromyalgia, arthritis or other chronic pain, digestive illness, insomnia, excessive sleeping or fatigue.
Your self-destructive thoughts, which crystallize as beliefs over time, are the root causes for unhappiness. It is very important that you don’t give in to them. They are true for you only if you accept them.
When a sour feeling arises out of a particular thought, then you should recognize that this thought is out of alignment with your truth. Negative feelings grow out of the dissonance or contrast between what is true for your happiness, and a current thought that triggers a negative emotion. For example, think about what happens when you worry about what the future may or may not hold for you. You become more worried. Not only do you experience the initial level of worrying, you also attract more of what you are worrying about.
Feeling frustration with a problem is OK for a moment, but you mustn’t let the frustration linger. Otherwise, frustrating thoughts can spiral you into a cascade of increasingly troubling thoughts, leading to overwhelming uneasiness. It’s easier and more productive to weigh many different solutions to your situation rather than staying focused on the frustration. You also need to remember that there is always something to learn from these types of situations.
Keep in mind that the thoughts that trigger negative feelings are the cause of the problem, not the negative feelings themselves. The negative feelings are your innate guidance system telling you something has gone wrong with your thoughts in that moment.
If you really take a look at this, you’ll discover a grand key to happiness: You can choose to cling to only the thoughts that bring you good feelings and dismiss all the ones that trigger emotional pain for you.
For example, the thought (and eventually the belief) that a loved one is angry with you brings negative emotions. If you focus on this thought, notice the feelings it creates. Now shift to thinking that this loved one is in fact happy with you, but is struggling with something else and that the situation will work out satisfactorily. Observe the good feeling this alternative perspective produces.
This innate system of feelings is your key to remaining happy and your guide in your companionship. Let your feelings be the feedback to your thoughts. Do not let your thoughts continue to keep you in a state of emotional suffering.
To your happiest thoughts and companionship ever,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
Author, Easy Health Options