064 Marriage/Personal Growth: Psychology of Love

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SHOW NOTES

Have you fell for Hollywood’s (lie or lies)?

I (Vincent) was about nine years old. I wanted look cool. I wanted a girl to “go with me” – (that’s what we called it. We didn’t actually go anywhere – at most couples held hands. It was really more of a title to show that we were wanted by the opposite sex.) Nevertheless, I wanted someone to “go with me” so that I would be “kool”.

So what did any well-intentioned fourth grader do? We went to the Dart store – a local clothing store that specialized in trendy clothing or fads. Yes, I got me a pair of “parachute pants”. Michael Jackson had just come our with the Thriller album. If you were a kid then, that was “in”, then you had a pair of parachute pants. I bought the lie. I bought the lie at a young age.

So what are Hollywood’s lies?

The first lie. We are to make ourselves as attractive as possible to get the right mate. We are to make our bodies look good – work out, loose weight, get a tan, build our muscles, get the right hair cut, etc. We are to attain the right things – a new car, clothes that are in style, big house, etc. We are to achieve in work, school, sports, social status, etc. If we possess all of these outward qualities, then we will attract our perfect partner.

The second lie. Our feelings confirm our love. We get a rush of adrenaline when we are with that special person – “It must be love!” We talk with them on the phone, and we feel so good. Just being with them lifts our spirits. We can’t wait to be with them.

The third lie. Similarly, when we don’t have those euphoric feelings around our mate, then we must not be in love anymore. We reason that the “right person for me” should continue to give us those good feelings when we are around them.

The fourth lie. That special person will fulfill me and meet all my hopes and dreams. We have this false hope that when we meet that “perfect partner”, we will be happy. In the movie Jerry MacGuire, Tom Cruise’s character has an affair with his secretary. When he is about to lose her, he tells her “You complete me.” He feels like she will fulfill all of his desires of love and having a family.

Theories of Romantic Love

Well okay, I’m giving Hollywood a bad rap or at least too much credit. Many of these lies didn’t begin with motion pictures. Motion pictures was just a medium that was able to promote these ideas at a veracious pace.

The idea of romantic love began in the 12th century in southern France. Around this time, the nobles and knights had left their castles for Holy Lands to fight in the Crusades. Their wives are left at home. For entertainment, musicians or poets called troubadours would come to the court. The troubadour provided love songs, and the noblewoman provided room and board. Thus the term “courtly love” was created. The troubadours would not dare have a hint of physical consummation, or they would put their lives in jeopardy. But this undertone of attraction would develop between the singer and the listener.

The foundation of this Hollywood idea of romantic love consist of these four theories of love: eros, biology or chemistry, imago, and projection.

Eros Theory

The greek word “eros” means passionate love. It includes the sexual and sensual desires between a man and a woman. Physical attraction, or even lust are other common terms to describe it. 

In classical Greek, “Love at first sight” described eros. A person had these immediate desires upon seeing their “loved one”. When the person of their affection did not reciprocate or was away from them, then they would get “lovesick”. 

Freud describes “eros” as our life instincts or life force which included reproduction, hunger, and self preservation. He did not view “eros” as primarily our libido although it was a part of it.

Biology or Chemistry Theory

The chemistry theory supposes that their is a chemical force that pulls two people together like two hydrogens to one oxygen in water. This theory that something chemical attracts humans together has discussed since the 1800s.

In 1809, Johann Goethe published Elective Affinities which described human relationships in terms of chemical reactions. Reared as a Lutheran, he was an adamant “non-Christian” who was trying to come to terms with bonding and love through a non-subjective, chemical viewpoint.

In 1959, biochemist Adolf Butenandt discovered a hormone that travelled from a female to a male silkworm prior to mating. Subsequently, the word “pheromone” was coined, meaning a hormone that is transported outside the body to another organism. This lead to the idea that humans secrete pheromones to attract the opposite sex. But to this date, no known human pheromones have been discovered.

In 1976, researchers Candace Pert and Nancy Ostrowski found that endorphins were released during intercourse. This led to the hormone theory of love.

In 1992, neuroscientist Thomas Insel completed a study on two types of voles: prairie voles and mountain voles. He compared their mating habits and their oxytocin levels. Prairie voles who tend to be monogamous had high levels of oxytocin. Mountain voles who were promiscuous had lower levels of oxytocin.

Later research showed that oxytocin was a bonding hormone that correlated with being with a loved one. Within male/female relationships, oxytocin levels rise during kissing, hugging, and intercourse. It also stimulates the bond between a mother and her child.

Imago Theory

In the book Getting the Love You Want, Harville Hendrix describes the imago theory. Imago is latin for image. According to Imago theory, we are unconsciously attracted to a person that reflects the positive and negative traits of our parents or caretakers. 

According to the theory, our brains have a drive to achievement health and wholeness. We have unresolved conflicts from childhood. We recreate these same patterns that we had with our parents with our spouse. Unconsciously, we try to repair or fix what was broken in childhood.

Projection Theory

Projection theory is based on the idea that men and women both have masculine and feminine qualities. According to theory, women project their “undeveloped” masculine side onto the men to whom they are attracted. Conversely, men project their “undeveloped” feminine side onto their mates.

Men may want their women to be overly nurturing – the feminine aspect that they may lack. Women may want their men to be the hero and fix everything – the masculine “take charge” attitude that they may not have developed.

We fall in love with a projection, not reality. We put all these unrealistic expectations onto our partner. We do not develop these appropriate feminine and masculine aspects in ourselves. We look outside of ourselves to find completion.

What Is the Truth?

Each of these theories contain elements of truth that have fed the lie that “romantic love” is the only true love. I (Vincent) have had clients that have adamantly defended romantic love. They say, “I don’t want them to do this or that because they are forced. I don’t want them to do it out of obligation. I want them to naturally do it. I want them to do it because they feel like it.” 

They believe love is motivated by “true feelings” which are outside of their control. They do not see any part of love as a choice or a decision.

Romantic love has elements of both feelings and logical reasoning. Healthy romantic love contains both of these elements (emotions and objective decisions) in a balance.

063 Personal Growth: Coping Skills Part 10 – Helping

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SHOW NOTES

Think back to a time where you were sincerely grateful for someone’s help. How did you feel? Try to remember the relief that soothed you. What do you think it would feel like if you could provide that kind of feeling to someone else?

If this is your first time joining us, WELCOME!  We’re so glad you found us! Vincent and I are the Relationship Helpers.  We are Christian therapists who help people find the change they need in their lives. In today’s episode, we are going to talk about how helping others can help to ameliorate depression and anxiety symptoms. 

About the Series

But before we discuss how helping helps depression, we want to give a brief re-cap on the previous episodes of this series.  Today’s episode marks the final episode in a ten-part series on “101 Activities You Can Do to Improve Your Mood.”  Be sure to check out our episodes on God, exercise, slowing down, fun, animals and nature, socializing, aesthetics, creating and learning, and touch and smell. 

Each of these episodes is a theme for over one hundred activities we have compiled.  With each theme we provide interesting studies and research on why these activities are beneficial to our health and well-being. 

Each week we have looked at these activities from the perspective of Philippians 4:8 (think on whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report.)  Today’s activities fall under all of those things!

In Galatians 6: 2, we are told to carry one another’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ.  If you have been isolating yourself lately due to poor motivation and negative thinking, helping people can be a wonderful way to get your mind in a more productive state.  If you are lost on how to get started, today’s list provides all sorts of creative ways to get started. 

“Helping” Activities

18.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Volunteering provides you with opportunities to serve someone else. You get your mind off of YOU – when we are too focused on ourselves, we become anxious and maybe depressed. Volunteering at a soup kitchen allows you to focus on others’ needs and in return you benefit. Larry Crabb says, “The more that you learn to love like God, the more your joy increases.” Here are some tips when you go. 

27. Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant anonymously.  Being kind elevates self-esteem and can lower the effects of psychological disorders.

30. Teach a child how to read.  Reading with children improves parent-child communication, raises self-esteem, lowers anxiety/stress and increases empathy.

37. Visit shut-ins at the nursing home. By visiting a shut-in, you not only minister to them, but they minister to you as well. You learn to slow down, focus on someone else, and give love.

61. Volunteer with the Boy (or Girl) Scouts. Studies have shown that volunteering has been linked to lower blood pressure and less symptoms of depression. Volunteering not only helps you, but also helps the ones you are working with.

More Activities

65. Pick up trash on a local road. This is a great way to be a part of the community and meet new people. Along with meeting other civic-minded people, you get some good exercise as well.

75. Make a baby laugh.  Children laugh more than adults.  Adults have a tendency to be more serious.  By intentionally making a child laugh, you are engaging in a social activity that is light-hearted and has many health and mental health benefits. You will be more likely to laugh if you make a baby laugh. Laughter strengthens resilience, which is an important strength in coping.  It is a great stress-reliever and can lessen the symptoms of anxiety.  

77. Buy a loved one flowers.  Performing random acts of kindness can improve our emotional wellbeing.

100. Compliment someone on their appearance.  Studies indicate that people with social anxiety are less likely to give compliments.  Learning to give compliments helps begin conversations, builds connections with others, and lowers anxiety.

Conclusion

You were probably surprised at our list, weren’t you?! Hopefully there were things on it you had never considered, but find worth doing! We hope that you enjoyed today’s episode, and this ten-part series. It has been great fun learning about so many activities we can do to improve our moods.  We’ve learned a lot through the process, and hope you have too!

Be sure to check out our resources page by clicking on the link below. We have downloadable and printable PDFs of each episode, the categories, and the full list.

062 Personal Growth: Coping Skills Part 9 – Touch and Smell

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SHOW NOTES

When was the last was the last time you stopped and smelled the roses?  Literally?  I’m not joking!  The phrase is tossed about often, but it is at the risk of diminishing the importance of appreciating the small things. Sometimes we get so caught up in the challenges of life that we forget the joy of the simpler things.

If you are new to our podcast, HI! Vincent and I (Laura) are the Relationship Helpers.  Our podcast is created for anyone seeking advice on growing their relationships, this includes our relationships with ourselves. 

About the Series

Today’s episode is the next to the last episode in a ten-part series on “101 Activities You Can Do to Improve Your Mood.  Our focus has been to encourage those suffering from the overwhelm of depression and anxiety to see that although depression can lower your motivation, it’s hard to say that you cannot do at least one out of over one hundred activities. 

If we have peaked your interest, our other episodes are about God, exercise, slowing down, fun, animals and nature, socializing, aesthetics and next week will be helping. Visit relationshiphelpers.net to listen to these episodes.

Each week we have a bit of a memory verse…actually we’re encouraging you to remember Philippians 4: 8 each week.  It’s the “whatever” verse.  I like to call it that.  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 

I think you’ll find that several of these activities fall into these whatevers. God has gifted us with so many things to be grateful for, and these activities should stoke that gratitude. 

10 Touch and Smell Activities

7.  Take a bubble bath. A warm, bubble bath is a good way to unwind and relax. Coach Amber McAuley shares how the warmth, the aromas, and the encompassing water soothes her like a big hug.

20. Visit a flower garden and smell the roses. The aromas of a therapy garden provide a powerful stimulus that connects you with nature and calms your body. The beautiful colors illicit admiration of its beauty – your mind is taken away from everyday stresses.

31. Hold your baby.   Researchers have found that when mothers hold their babies there is a marked decrease in stress levels. More skin-to-skin time improves mothers’ wellbeing.

38. Bake some cookies. A 2017 study has shown that baking can help with the grieving process. Another study revealed that adolescents with cooking skills had a greater mental health well-being.

58. Go get a massage. A massage can lower cortisol, the hormone produced by stress, and increase serotonin, a hormone that reduces pain and anxiety in the body.

More Activities

80. Smell the rain. If it is not raining, then smell freshly cut grass or some vanilla.  Aromatherapy makes a great compliment to traditional treatments and other therapies for depression.  It is relaxing and can bring a person into the present moment, which with depression and anxiety, the sufferer is not typically “in the moment.” 

86. Eat some candy.  Chewing gum can lower nervous tension and increase serotonin levels. Peppermint improves concentration. Chocolate has a few compounds that are mood-boosting!

95. Ride a rollercoaster.  Finishing a roller coaster ride helps individuals to step outside of their comfort zones and develop a greater sense of self-confidence.  Riding a roller coaster is a type of “controlled danger”. A sense of peace washes over the rider after the ride is over due to the noradrenaline that is released to return the body to its pre-ride state.

99. Find a unique dive to eat at. Trying new things knocks you out of hum-drum routine.  It helps you learn more about yourself. Experiencing a new eatery is a good “baby step” into getting outside of your comfort zone, as it may not be considered as threatening as trying other new things.

51. Plant some flowers or vegetables. Gardening can be very relaxing and therapeutic. It is so effective that there are professional specialists called horticultural therapists. Gardening provides purposeful and meaningful activity while offering restoration and respite from mental stress.

Conclusion

God has given us such a wonderful variety of interests and things to find genuine pleasure in.  We hope that you enjoyed today’s suggestions. 

Maybe you have decided to do something that you haven’t done in a really long time, or you’ve decided to try something you’ve never done. Thank you for spending time with us today!

061 Personal Growth: Coping Skills Part 8 – Creating and Learning

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SHOW NOTES

About the Series

We hope you had a “beautiful” week, after listening to our episode on aesthetics last week!  If you are new to us, HI! We are Vincent and Laura Ketchie, a husband and wife therapist team and we are Relationship Helpers.  Our podcast aims to give you tips to help you improve relationships, as well as help you to grow personally.

This week marks our seventh part in a ten part series on “101 Activities That You Can Do To Improve Your Mood.”  We have been taking a look at how depression can cause overwhelm, which leads many people to feel powerless in overcoming their poor mood.

We have divided the over one hundred activities into ten different themes.  Each week we feature a different theme.  Last week we took a look at what makes life beautiful and how you can be a part of that. Be sure to give it a listen.

Today we will discuss creating and learning.  Many of these activities are related to last week’s episode, except that in last week’s episode we talked about being the spectator of them, this time, you are actually creating the lovely sound or artwork!

Make a Joyful Noise!

As with each week before, remember Philippians 4: 8. Think on things true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report. It is hard to be negative when your mind is focusing on these things.  Some of today’s activities can even be considered as worship. (Remember that if you question your singing voice or ability to carry a tune!)

28. Paint in watercolor.  Watercolor painting is inexpensive and can be done quickly. Studies have found that painting can lower stress hormone levels.

41. Take a sculpting class. Sculpting can be a good way to reduce stress and get in touch with your feelings. You may even want to make a family sculpture to better understand your role in your family.

45. Learn some magic tricks. Learning magic tricks is not only fun, but it can help you feel more confident. It can be a great ice-breaker in social settings. Learning magic can help you build many other skills like good hand-eye coordination.

52. Learn to play an instrument.  Learning to play an instrument develops self-confidence, especially when you learn to play a piece that is difficult or that you have heard a professional play before.  Studies show that it helps to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol. 

55. Cook a new and different meal. Cooking provides many mental health benefits like stress relief, relief from boredom, improved memory, attention and focus, increased sensory awareness, and a sense of accomplishment.

More Activities in Creating and Learning

63. Learn a new language. Depression oftentimes limits your thinking. By expanding your knowledge, you expand your world. You have many more opportunities.

71. Take a class at the local community college.  Never stop learning! Learning beyond school-age years can improve our mental wellbeing.  It can give us a sense of purpose, improve self-confidence and self-esteem.

85. Read a biography.  Journalist Shane Snow calls reading biographies “self-help in disguise.”  By the time the person’s book is written, we get to read how that person overcame obstacles in their life and how they succeeded in life.  Reading biographies can be motivating.

88. Start a hobby that is inexpensive.  Performing a hobby can lower blood pressure. Finding purpose in your hobby can make what you do more successful.  Regularly participating in a hobby lowers depression. 

89. Knit a shawl. Studies have shown that knitting is soothing, calming the heart rate and is therapeutic for conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and post traumatic stress disorder.

Conclusion

Your depression may have told you the lie “you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” Regardless if you take up knitting and you make a beautiful scarf or a ratty one, the point is not what you produce but the process. In fact, continuing your knitting will only improve your skills and coordination and the end products will improve with time. 

Of course, this analogy applies to any of the above listed activities. Don’t let depression discourage you from trying something new based on the premise that you are not “good” at something.  If you are struggling with this mentality, I would encourage you to face the new activity like a child. No expectations.

060 Personal Growth: Coping Skills Part 7 – Aesthetics

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SHOW NOTES

About the Series

Have you felt overwhelmed lately?  Maybe a little depressed, too?  If so, Relationship Helpers is here to help. 

If you are joining us for the first time, WELCOME! Today’s podcast episode is the seventh in a ten-part series on one hundred and one activities you can do to improve your mood. We have divided the activities into ten different categories:  (activities) involving God, exercise, slowing down, fun, animals and nature, socializing, aesthetics, creating and learning, touch and smell, and helping.  

If you are feeling depressed, please reference episode 53 “How Discouragement Leads to Depression”.  In that episode we go into detail about how depression is diagnosed. We discuss the difference between dysthymia and potentially life-threatening Major Depression. 

A Major Depressive Episode is a serious matter and should be treated by a medical/mental health professional.  Today’s tips work to supplement any ongoing treatment, but do not serve as a “cure-all.”

Aesthetics (Appreciating Beauty)

We will focus today on what makes life beautiful—aesthetics.  When we are in a funk or a bad mood, it seems like we miss the good that is right in front of us. We hope today’s episode serves as a reminder of some things you can enjoy that God has created. 

In Psalm 65: 5-8, David paints a picture about God with words describing His creation. “By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea; 6Who establishes the mountains by His strength, Being girded with might; Who stills the roaring of the seas, The roaring of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples.They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.” 

I don’t know about you, but when I read that, I feel like I can “see” that. When you see a beautiful sunset, do you think of God? Where does your mind go? 

Each week we have been examining our activities through the lens of Philippians 4: 8, thinking on things true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report. 

Whatever is…Lovely

Which of these activities would you like to try first?

13.  Listen to your favorite music. When you listen to music you enjoy, your body reacts. Your blood flow increases, stress-related hormones like cortisol decrease and your pain eases. A 2016 study showed that both music and meditation improved the mood of older adults suffering from mental decline.

14.  Go to a play or musical. Going to the theatre gives you the opportunity to explore your feelings in a different way. Some shows deal with deep sensitive issues while others help you to laugh and relax you. When you are enjoying a play or musical, you are not enjoying it alone and in the complete dark, but you are enjoying it with a crowd of other people. This sharing of an experience helps to enhance your well-being.

16.  Get up early and watch a sunrise. Taking the time to relax and watch a sunrise can really is a good way to reset your mind. You can take your mind off of all the busy things and focus on the natural aesthetics of nature. When you appreciate beauty, your spirits are lifted.

21. Read a classic novel. Reading can help you get perspective. Your mind is activated more and you learn more about your state of mind. As you learn more about how you think, then you can learn to change your behavior as well.

62. Listen to a concert. A study from the Royal College of Music in London has shown that live concerts can actually reduce stress and anxiety.

More Activities That Include Aesthetics

73. Photograph nature or some interesting cityscape or people. Photography motivates you to get outside and interact with people or nature. It is a way of expressing yourself without using words.

98. Visit an art museum.   Art museums provide positive distractions, have a calming-effect, decreases anxiety, increases optimism, and leads to a reduced sense of social isolation.

23. Go on a train ride. A 2013 study shows that travel prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, especially in retirees. On a train, you have time to admire the beauty of the landscape. Taking a vacation, even a short one, brings many health benefits.

42. Visit a car museum. A 2011 study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology shows that visiting museums can lower the risk of anxiety and depression in men. Museums reduce stress and have a greater impact on well-being as playing sports do.

Conclusion:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19: 1 describes finding God in what we can see.  He is so creative.  He gave us our senses to be able to experience His creations in many different ways. 

We hope today you will feel encouraged to seek out some of these healthy, beneficial ways to engage your senses, to calm your mind and to see God’s handiwork.