Saturday, June 7, 2014

Getting Jennifer Lopez Unstuck: JLo and the brain

Recently I was asked what I would say to Jennifer Lopez in light of her recent break-up from Casper Smart.  Here is my answer:


1.  The bad news is that your children will be effected by this break-up. While you may have grown tired of Casper Smart, your kids didn't have that luxury.  Young children don't have a clear understanding of why or how someone is here today and gone tomorrow.  So even if he was just a bit player in their lives, his absence from their home will be felt.  If Casper is quickly replaced by the next yokel that switch will further compound their confusion.  I would advise you not to introduce the twins to new boyfriends until June 2015.  And then, only introduce them to men that you have been seeing for more than six months.   

2.  According to the April issue of InStyle Magazine, you have said:

"Look, I don't love being alone. I don't. I can't beat myself up for that. What I have to do is figure out why I don't like it. Why am I not OK being alone? And can I ever be OK facing that?" 

Please do NOT beat yourself up.  Actually, the "why" is not even important. The bottom line is that we are pre-programed not to be alone. Its in our DNA, our brains, and in our nervous systems. Alone meant death to our ancestors. Humans survived for thousands of years by sticking together. And, women survived by having physically strong partners who could protect and feed us (and our young).  My guess is that the idea of "being alone" (uncoupled) triggers an unconscious fight/flight/freeze response in your nervous system.  That reaction puts you in an anxious or dysregulated state that is relieved when you put a man in the picture.  However, this is a vicious cycle since you are picking your men with you reptile brain's survival instincts and your limbic system's hormone wash.  If instead, you were picking men using the reason and logic of your neo-cortex you would make much better choices.   

3.  Want to get unstuck, break the patterns, and become comfortable with the concept of being alone?  (Comfortable with the concept of being alone means knowing that you will be safe even if you are alone. When you feel really safe (without a man) you will be able to use the reasoning and logic of the neo-cortex to pick a man.)  Here's the Action Plan I recommend:

(a) Write down the "stories" of your last five relationships.  You are a choreographer.  Put the choreography of your relationships on paper. Then look through them in order to find the patterns and themes that are common in all (or most) of them.  Where were the red flags?  What were these men asking for that they weren't getting?  What were these men saying that you chose to ignore?  When you are done, you will know a lot more about who you what kind of partner you are, what you bring to the table, and where you want to go.  

(b)  Find a therapist who practices Somatic Experiencing.  (The work of Peter Levine.)  This is not talk therapy as we know it.  Instead of talking, you will be able to explore the physical sensations, as well as the pre-verbal/non-verbal experiences, of being alone.  

If you do what you did, you will get what you got.  Please take some time to change your action plan before the next Mr. Wrong happens along. 

Hasta Luego, xoxo, Elinor

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