Archive for the 'Overfunctioning' Category

Why We Overfunction for Love and How Change GETS You Love

I recently re-read Harriet Lerner’s book The Dance of Intimacy, and got her personal permission to give you some of the passages I found to be incredibly powerful for us.

Here, Harriet is talking about overfunctioning, and she’s used several real-life situations women with their families and with the men in their relationships.

This passage starts with the heading:

“Why Change?”

From where, then, does the overfunctioner find the will to change?… change can be a profoundly difficult and anxiety-arousing business. As frequently as not, the motivation is just not there or it runs out after the initial push. And understandably so. Where will we get the courage, to say nothing of the motivation, to begin to modify our overfunctioning ways?

Why change if we are sitting at the top of the emotional seesaw, if we can avoid the full impact of our own unfinished business by focusing on the other, if we can derive that secret feeling of self-righteousness from diagnosing others and being “right,” or if we are the “insider” that the family More…

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Why Playing “Small” Pushes Your Man Away, And Allowing Him To See Your “Weakness” Brings Him Closer

And, of course, we women have all been taught the exact OPPOSITE!

I was taught that if you dream big, if you laugh loud, if you want success in all areas of your life – and you’re a WOMAN – you’ll scare a man away.

And that playing “small” and “girly” would make him want you.

It would make him feel like a big man if we made sure we didn’t “show him up” with our confidence and power.

But men LOVE confidence. They love powerfulness in women. They’re excited and turned on by a woman who’s not afraid to be herself.

So – that’s the key – a woman who’s not afraid to be herself.

And, of course – that’s the thing we’re MOST afraid of – that he’ll see who we really are.

So – we’ve talked about what it’s like to feel and play “small.” Now, what does it feel and look like to be “weak”?

Let’s clarify an important point here – the way we FEEL and the way we ACT are completely different and separate things. We can either feel one way and act another, or we can act according to how we feel. Very often, we feel hurt, and so we act angry. Or we feel scared, so we act strong and take charge. Or we feel love, and so we pretend we don’t. The very smartest, best, and most fabulous thing we can do for ourselves is to find a way not to just ACT – because often that’s just a pattern we always tend to act out when we’re feeling strong feelings – but to EXPRESS how we feel.

That could look like: “I’m feeling really bad right now about the way my work is going, and so everything between us makes me feel angry” instead of what we usually do – take it out on him.

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How To Say What You Feel & Stop The “Intensity” That Pushes Men Away

I know the whole idea of “saying what you feel” sounds wrong.

Men are supposed to HATE feelings, aren’t they?

A man gets really uncomfortable around “drama” and the kind of emotional intensity we’ve been talking about in this series of posts – where your energy is all bound up in a kind of “push-pull” tension inside you – but he LOVES “feelings.”

He loves to see you “uncovered.” As though you’re a transparent woman and he can see everything that’s going on inside you. Yes, even the “yucky” stuff.

What we’re talking about here is vulnerability, and vulnerability is a RARE thing.

“Fragility” is common, where a man feels you could easily break apart or fly into a rage or into tears at the drop of a hat. And he’s always on the lookout for that. But vulnerability requires inner strength, bravery, and a belief in yourself. In order to let someone see who you are inside – especially a man you love – you have to be “okay” with yourself. Liking yourself is even better. And loving yourself gets you the prize!

Because if what a man sees when he looks at you is that you love yourself – then he feels compelled to love you, too. He can’t help it.

So saying what you feel is a necessary part of being vulnerable. It doesn’t mean you have to say everything you feel ALL the time. (And most of the time we’re actually speaking about what we THINK, and what we think doesn’t count at all for vulnerability – we’ll talk more about that in future posts.) And it doesn’t mean you spew your feelings out in just any old way.

What being vulnerable and saying what you feel means – is that there’s a way to talk about what you feel that works, that’s soft and vulnerable, and there’s a way to talk about what you feel that’s dramatic, “intense” and makes him think you’re fragile and difficult.

In the next posts we’ll get to the exact ways to do it. If you’d like to quickly get my “Basics,” like Feeling Messages, down – try out my ebook, Have The Relationship You Want

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How To Turn Sadness Around In Seconds

Have you ever felt like your heart was just – lumpy, heavy, small? Not depressed, not angry, not “down,” just more like an “ache”?

When that happens to me, it’s like all I’m sewed up – like an embroidery or needlepoint. It feels like everything’s tight, nothing’s loose, and there’s an edge to every thought. And – what I really notice is I can’t put my finger on the reason for it.

I’ve figured out a way to make this work FOR me, so try it and let me know if it works for you:

I started noticing when this feeling comes on that I’ve gotten triggered by something. I might be driving home from an appointment in a neighborhood that holds lots of memories for me – good ones and some weird old ones, or I might have met someone who looks like someone I once knew – doesn’t even have to be someone who once hurt me – all that has to happen is that that person brings back the TIME, long ago, when I felt bad.

Then I noticed, when I used my Tools and started relaxing parts of my body – shoulders first – a burst of sadness would come through me. You’d think the sadness would feel worse – but it doesn’t – try it yourself. The sadness feels BETTER. It’s like a relief. It’s like you can RECOGNIZE the feeling, even if you don’t know why you’re feeling it.

And then – here’s the really cool part – instead of going back to that time, or trying to figure out what’s bothering me in my HEAD, I DELIBERATELY continue to TRIGGER MYSELF. That’s right – I make it worse.

So – if it’s the neighborhood, I’ll drive around, I’ll actually LOOK for triggers, looking to BRING OUT the feelings. I keep letting go of my shoulders and then there’s more sadness. And then I see it’s a bit gray outside…more sadness….

NOW, I’ll start talking to myself. Try it: Ask questions. Ask, “Okay, what’s going on here?” Perhaps you can put your finger on some things: “I feel nostalgic for an old time, and I’m starting to feel fear, as though I’m running backwards over my life because there’s a wall in front of me and my life’s about to end. I feel a doomsday feeling, where I don’t want to move another minute ahead in time – I just want to go back somewhere safe. Or – I’m thinking about HIM – a man who hurt me.”

Try to keep it all about FEELINGs, about sensations in your body. Really try to tune into your body instead of trying to THINK it through with your brain. You can get some great help here from my Body Dialogues in my Heart Connection Toolkit – for now just focus in on the physical and the emotional, and steer your thoughts away as you just continually “drop into” your body and your heart.

Try this today, let me know how this feels to you, and we’ll go further in the next posts…


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Why Ignoring Your Man Can Open Him Up

My husband once seemed like a mystery I couldn’t solve, like a puzzle with missing pieces, and with a brick wall where his heart should be. He seemed impossible to get to know – and more important – impossible for me to show my real, true self to.

A minute ago, he walked by me with an air that reeked of “cold” to me. My first instinct is to anger – “How dare you!” I want to scream. “If you want to talk to me, come to me – don’t make me follow you around!” And then I got it…

What I “got” was that my husband going “cold” is either:

  1. He’s angry and upset with me, and doesn’t know how to say it; or,
  2. He’s angry and upset with something that has NOTHING to do with me.

So – the “old” me would jump right in imagining that this is all about ME. I’d go over everything that happened with us in the last 24 hours, and try to fix it by thinking up something nice to do for him – like suggesting something fun to do, or initiating affection or sex, or just plain chatting to “lighten” the mood. I’d go into “Overfunctioning” mode, which would just push him away more. (As I explain and help you with in my Have the Relationship You Want ebook, “Overfunctioning” is one of the biggest ways we push our men away).

Or – I’d get angry right back. “What right does he have to get all ‘moody’ with me?” I’d ask myself.

Sound familiar? I’d jump right into “defensive thinking.”

Now (and I’ve been able to do this since I turned my marriage around nearly 15 years ago), I just go do something for myself that feels GREAT. I breathe, I use my Tools to regain my sense of Power and get back into my body, my heart and my life.

Usually, within an hour, my husband chases ME down and starts a conversation.

Do these 5 things when you find yourself in this same situation:

  1. Catch yourself wherever you are, whatever you’re thinking or feeling that’s a reaction to what your man is doing – for example: either feeling angry, defensive, frightened that he’s losing interest, or starting to “Overfunction” (offering him something like food, or a massage, or asking him how he’s feeling, or picking up after him…)
  2. Stop. Just absolutely STOP.
  3. Breathe
  4. Stand totally still and Find Your Feelings – for now just see if you can find a feeling or a sensation in your body. It will help you feel more grounded, and stop you from following your normal pattern of reacting to him in ways that don’t work.
  5. Turn around. Find something to do for YOU.

If you’re feeling uncomfortable and strange when you do this – GREAT! It means you’re on your way to shifting your relationship. Let me know how it feels for you to “ignore” your man, and I’d love to know what he does, so be sure to comment here.

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