Friday, April 10, 2015

A promise to do and give something: PRAISES

By Philip Hemphill, Ph.D., LCSW

When we make a promise to be loyal to someone it requires an attitude of commitment and acceptance which hopefully is transferred into behavior. In 1956 Erich Fromm explained in The Art of Loving,

"Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward an “object” of love. If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism…If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world, I love life. If I can say to somebody else, “I love you,” I must be able to say, I love in you also myself."

This reflects the principles of Love that includes the Love we have for ourselves. Love's first ambitious step is knowing what we think and feel which is followed by the willingness and capacity to communicate it our loved one. Love is grand, idealized, and lasting. It requires us to live in interpersonal harmony with mutual respect. We are expected to have a comfortable balance of individuality and couple hood. When we experience Love both internally and with another, we evolve, mature, and are better able to cope with life's demands. Love becomes a label for the courtship arrangement during which we privately weigh various aspects of the other person. We are trying to determine whether the tenacious bond we have encountered compliment our moral commitment. Love is a force of nature as we grow older and care for each other. Love is a complex array of emotions and includes several illusions. Finally, Love is "because I Love him or her." This phrase is a euphemism for keeping our true experiences private and accepting the spiritual journey that guides our lives. These ten interlocking nouns do not attempt to fully express the complex nature of Love but represent the foundation for an explainable model. Fromm later wrote that Love is so difficult to understand that we can only show acts of it by caring for, knowing, responding, affirming, and enjoying the person.

This explanation provides us with understanding human Love; however spiritual Love is beyond these expressions. First let's consider our life experiences with different attachment figures to fully understand our skill set for Love and relationships. Our early bonds whether secure, unstable, unpredictable, or chaotic ultimately predict our capacity for Romantic Relationships (choice), Relationship Adjustment, Emotional Well-being, Working Models of Ourself/Others, Marital Quality, and Parenting Capacity. I'm reminded of the need to restate the Cartesian dictum of “I think therefore I am” to “He/She [the caregivers] thinks that I am, therefore I am.” These experiences allow us to have a strong commitment to a romantic relationship which is associated with a high degree of cognitive interdependence—signified by tendencies to think about the relationship in a pluralistic (i.e., “we”-focused) manner. This allows us to perceive an overlap between ourself and our partner, and to regard the relationship as a central component of what is significant in our life.

The we-ness includes a powerful Love chemistry of different neurotransmitters: Norepinephrine, Dopamine, Phenylethylamine (PEA), Oxytocin, and Endorphins. This familiarity breeds predictability and leads to greater comfort as our proximity is often reflected in shared interests. Generally, we begin to reveal our concept of human ethics which pertains to matters of RIGHT and WRONG -also referred to as ”good and evil."We openly explore our individual conscience and system of principles while integrating our different cultural, religious, and philosophical beliefs. This produces our Codes of Behavior or Conduct. Therefore, a wonderful way to include our Love for God that is expressed through the Love for an intimate partner is to remember this simply PRAISES intimacy model:

PHYSICAL INTIMACY- Simply means being present for each other; standing together in major and minor tragedies which persist in life; standing up with and to each other, or “fighting” in non-destructive ways; facing and struggling with differences together; ultimately knowing that we are not alone and we must create moments of time together daily; this togetherness is derived from dedication to a common cause, value, and effort.

RECREACTIONAL INTIMACY- Sharing experience of fun, sports, hobbies, recreate your relationship as it develops over time; having ways of refilling the wells of energy and leisure; having a public relationship that mirrors your private relationship; you should commit to doing 15-20 of these activities per week.

AESTHETIC INTIMACY- This is where you are physically attractive to the beauty of each other; sharing experiences of beauty - music, dance, art, theatre, nature, movies, drinking from the common cup of beauty; being creative and helping each other to grow; being co-creators (not “reformers”) of each other and trusting in the beauty of God's Love.

INTELLECTUAL INTIMACY- Sharing the world of ideas; a genuine touching of persons based on mutual respect for each others intellectual capacities (reading, discussing, studying, respectful debating); sharing common tasks; supporting each other in bearing responsibilities; communicating honestly, trusting, truthful, loving; giving constructive feedback; making sure the message you are sending is the message that is being received; and positive confrontation.

SPIRITUAL INTIMACY- Accepting your oneness with God; sharing morals, values, and beliefs with each other; the “we-ness” of sharing any ultimate concerns; sharing the meaning of life, philosophies, and religious experiences; being open to God's Love through your partner; being in the moment but also being committed to the future "Where would you like your relationship to be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years..."

EMOTIONAL INTIMACY- Making sure you have access to all emotions with your partner not just select ones; this depth awareness and sharing of significant meanings and feelings are required; touching of the innermost selves of two human beings; not being responsible for your partner's emotional state; not trying to change their emotional state (i.e., giving each other space.)

SEXUAL INTIMACY- The beauty of sex is expressed in sensual-emotional satisfaction; the experience of sharing and self abandon while physically merging two persons into one is a representation of God's Love for us; the importance of communicating likes and dislikes is critical; be spontaneous and plan for intimate sexual time; commit to agreed upon variety; accept the limitations that sexual behavior has; don’t worry about frequency “standards”; use the five senses to express.

Consider these gifts that God has given us to verbalize this beauty we call Intimacy: Loving, Sensitive, Brave, Intelligent, Thoughtful, Generous, Loyal, Truthful, Strong, Energetic, Sexy, Decisive, Creative, Involved, Expressive, Active, Careful, Reserved, Adventurous, Receptive, Reliable, Responsible, Dependable, Nurturing, Warm, Open... and try PRAISES.

Dr. Hemphill is the Director of the Professional Enhancement Program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. The Professional Enhancement Program (PEP) is a comprehensive continuum of integrated behavioral health treatment services for professionals offered through Pine Grove, one of the nation’s leading treatment facilities. PEP is designed to help professionals with addictions and addictive illnesses, disruptive behavior, boundary violations, personality disorders, interpersonal difficulties, and vocational issues.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.