“I love you” is better than “I’m falling in love with you”

It’s vital for mindful acts of emotional and spiritual intimacy to steadily develop as a daily practice for healthy sex. To that end, Center for Healthy Sex has created daily meditations to help you reach your sexual and relational potential. (You can subscribe for free here.)

Even momentarily concentrating on healthy solutions rewires psychological patterns to receive and share healthy sexual love in the present. Here are three meditations with the themes of sentimentality, dependability, and confrontation for you to ponder and practice this week.

Meditation 1: Sentimentality

“Love, love, love — all the wretched can’t of it, masking egotism, lust, masochism, fantasy under a mythology of sentimental postures.” — Germaine Greer

Originally, the term sentimentality simply referred to feelings about a subject. But when the concept became the catch-word of the Romantic Movement in the late 1700s, a rationalist backlash against excessive emotional expression gave the term negative connotations that still survive. Although sentimentality means something different to everyone — nostalgic memories, overdone affection, or irrational attachment to beloved objects — today the term usually describes superficial or regressive emotionality.

In Jungian thought, sentimentality masks savagery much the way psychological inflation (“I’m the greatest”) stems from and leads to deflation (“I’m the worst”) in a pendulum swing of egoistic delusional states. It’s the same consciousness that gushes over the adorability of a little child in one moment, but finds it a little monster in the next. That is, sentimentality objectifies people and experiences, making ourselves the sole, and inconstant, arbitrators of their worth. This objectification must be false, since it inheres in our shifting moods rather than in the other’s or object’s true value. Thus it enters us into a false, imagined relationship with life. There’s a world of difference between affection and affectation.

When we shackle our sentiments to preconceived ideas about feeling, it’s often the result of programmed messages and coerced transference in childhood. The child who finds solace in the pretend companionship of a teddy bear to escape the pain of isolation develops a sentimental feeling that’s often encouraged as a substitute for cognizant emotional processes. And the emotional power of others’ sentimentality can challenge our autonomy by making our refusing to share someone’s supercharged sentiments seem — however unjustifiably — indifferent, uncaring, or contrary. At its worst, sentimentality assumes that someone’s private, perhaps random feelings must be universal. That assumption blocks other individuals’ mindful empathy and genuine acceptance, and gives real feeling a bad name.

Daily healthy sex acts

  • Do you know the difference between sentimentality and appreciation?Consider your most treasured belongings, favorite activities, highly valued hotspots, and prized perceptions of people. If you have sentimental feelings for any of them, you will feel easily threatened, and perhaps angry, whenever others fail to share your opinion. This is the pendulum stroke between sentimentality and savagery.
  • While the negativity associated with sentimentality might signal a discomfort with emotion, settling for affected, manipulative or superficial feelings might signal a greater fear of real emotion. Today, take deeper breaths and allow your positive sentiments to bring you to your larger unconditional love.

Meditation 2: Dependability

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” — Oprah Winfrey

Having people to depend on gives us a metaphorical backbone, a feeling that we’re never alone. For some, growing up with unreliable, immature parents created hyper-responsibility because their very lives depended on self-sufficiency. Others became helpless, accepting their deprivation and remaining self-neglectful well into adulthood. Dependability is a basic need for children and not too much to ask for in adulthood. When we ask for our dependency needs to be met, we allow people closest to us to care for us. The knowledge that we can call a trusted other and know that he or she will be there at a moment’s notice, no questions asked, telegraphs to us that we have value. And just as dependability signals true friendship, it’s one of the primary qualities in a love relationship because it makes us feel safe, loved, and cared for.

It’s easy to be dependable when the requests made of us cost little effort or gain us pleasure. Following through on plans to vacation with someone is a form of dependability but has the dual purpose of satisfying our own desire. But the call to be dependable can be inconvenient when it doesn’t serve mutually — even little chores like picking up our partner’s dry-cleaning or taking her or his pet to the vet. Being of service when our lover is sick or challenged by a death in the family is where the rubber meets the road. Life is unpredictable. When we’re called to participate in painful events it can feel scary or burdensome to suspend our lives and go to a loved one’s side. Every day we expect dependability from our cars, co-workers, and computers. So we should hold ourselves to the same standard of dependability we expect from associates and machines when beloved hearts are at stake.

Daily healthy sex acts

  • When was the last time you asked someone to do something for you? Did he or she come through? How did that feel?
  • Who in your life has been undependable? How did their lack of reliability affect you?
  • How dependable are you where your relationships are concerned? Today, practice dependability by offering someone close to you a service that may inconvenience you.

Meditation 3: Confrontation

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin

For some of us, our only model for confrontation comes from our formative teenage years when parental control crushed our needs and desires. In adulthood, confrontation can still feel frightening — so much so that we avoid it at all costs for fear of psychic annihilation. We’ve learned it’s easier and safer to avoid or sneak around a frustrating situation, hoping that if we ignore it, it will go away. But situations rarely go away. In fact, the longer something festers, the worse it gets. Facing up to and dealing with a problem is the only way to rectify it. And that fact in itself challenges us to grow.

Similarly, being confronted by someone can feel unsettling or threatening. It’s painful to be met with an argumentative defense or hostile words. However, if we can turn towards any intense energy in life and face it boldly, we experience a feeling of satisfaction and confidence afterward. This practice discovers and strengthens our true self.

We usually equate confrontation with facing adversity, but facing love can create an equal amount of disequilibrium. Without a doubt, falling in love is one of the most amazingly beautiful experiences in life. But the will to withstand the confrontation of love — the heat radiating from the blast of neurochemistry designed to create a sustainable attachment — requires fortitude. Telling your boyfriend or girlfriend that you’re falling in love can actually feel confrontational, even when adversity doesn’t lurk around the edges of your love. Saying “I love you” for the first time while face to face with your lover means that you’re dealing with the truth and willing to withstand the excitement of confronting your unknown future together.

Daily healthy sex acts

  • How well do you handle direct confrontation?
  • The next time someone says something you don’t like, make an effort to stand up for yourself by telling him or her that you don’t agree with what’s being said. Notice how you feel.
  • Are you withholding speaking the truth to someone in your life? If so, to whom, and why? Make this the day you’ll be honest with that person about your feelings, whether negative or positive.

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© Copyright 2014 Alexandra Katehakis, MFT, CSAT, CST, All rights Reserved.
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Alex Katehakis is a licensed Marriage, Family Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist in Los Angeles. She has extensive experience in working with a full spectrum of sexuality from sexual addiction to sex therapy, and problems of sexual desire and sexual dysfunction for individuals and couples. Alex has successfully facilitated the recovery of many sexually addicted individuals and assisted couples in revitalizing their sex lives. Ms. Katehakis is the Founder and Clinical Director of the Center for Healthy Sex in West Los Angeles, CA. She has lectured for the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society, Psychotherapy Networker Annual Conference, U.S. Journal Training Conference series, The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, Rocky Mountain Association of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, LA-California Association of Marriage Family Therapists, Women’s Association of Addiction Treatment, Mt. Sinai Medical School, AIDS Project LA, Phillips Graduate Institute and Pepperdine University. Additionally, Alex has been a guest on national radio programs and appeared on Voice America and WebMD, both live on-line Internet programs, as a sexual addiction expert. Alex teaches workshops on healthy sexuality in retreat settings and has been published in the Journal of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. Her first book, Erotic Intelligence – Igniting Hot Healthy Sex after Recovery From Sex Addiction is available on Amazon.com. Professional affiliations include certification as a sex addiction therapist (CSAT) from the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP), Senior Fellow at The Meadows addiction treatment center, membership in the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), certification/membership American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), membership American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT), and membership California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT). MFC 36902 Ms. Katehakis is dedicated to continuous improvement of her knowledge base and clinical skills and is a member of the Alan Schore study group and other peer consultation groups. Most recently, Ms. Katehakis is the 2012 recipient of the Carnes Award, a prestigious acknowledgement for her significant contributions to the field of sex addiction.