This is an excerpt from Susan Bratton’s dialog with Michael Gelbart a clinical social worker, therapist and leader of “Men’s Groups” in Oakland California. Michael’s organization is Shift In Perspective and he’s a featured author on PsychologyToday.com. This dialog is an excerpt from the Revive Her Drive Mastery Coaching module in month #10.
Because our customers frequently ask Susan’s advice about how to “give her your presence” and “be vulnerable” this conversation with Michael, delves into what “being present” is really like and why it’s such a valuable communication tool in bringing your woman closer and being more intimate with you.
Susan’s questions are italicized. Michael Gelbart’s answers are in plain text.
Describing the Sensations in His Body
Give a very specific example of when you ask a man to describe his present experience and his sensations in his body. What are some of the things that men say? What are other men’s experiences in their body when they’re present and vulnerable? Describe that.
I just had a session this morning with a couple, and I did exactly this with the couple, and he had been triggered by a couple of complaints that his wife had brought up. I had them slow down the conversation and get mindful, each of them, and asked him what was going on inside him. He immediately started going into interpretation, some assumptions, some opinions, and I just slowed him down. I said, “What’s actually happening physically?” He starts to describe how he feels crushed inside of his chest. That’s very visceral. Like there’s an elephant on top of his chest. He starts to describe the turbulence like he’s on an airplane and the airplane turbulence is shaking. There are oceans; it feels like the waters in us flood and it’s an overwhelming feeling of sensations that’s arising inside of each of our bodies, men and women. We need to be able to swim inside of those waters is the metaphor that I think of. It’s being able to swim.
That’s the description is a flood of feelings or a crushing pressure, turbulence. I’ll have them go into their bodies, different parts of their bodies that they may be feeling, neck and shoulder tension, so they’re really aware of all that holding that’s going on.
I want to get to how we hold ourselves, but let’s start with the first of the three, and that’s self-regulation. Why don’t you describe a little bit more about what that means and how a man can become aware of self-regulation, what you see the most common “gotcha’s” of guys behavior is when they’re not cognizant of their self-regulation. What are some quick things that guys can do to become aware of and begin to understand that part of their world?
I joke that you can earn an “MPA,” a Master of Physiological Arousal. We need to learn that physiology – arousal isn’t just sexual. When we think of arousal, we think of sexual arousal. Well it’s that, yes. That can be a very pleasant sensation of course, and a very strong sensation. Arousal takes many different forms, so it’s physical arousal, there’s excitement. There’s a high level of excitement. There’s feeling very energized. There’s feeling nervousness. There’s certainly feeling anxiety. There’s feeling agitation. We’re feeling anxiety and agitation that tends to be on the higher end of the continuum, kind of a hyper arousal. You know what I say to guys then, “Drink some water. Hydrate.” The simplest kind of remedy. When we’re in hyper arousal, we’re not going to be able to probably have a very good conversation.
Change your posture. Literally get up, move away from the situation you’re in. Change the rooms that you’re in. Take a walk. Take a break. I encourage couples to take a timeout. Take a 15-minute timeout, half hour timeout. But you don’t get to just say, “Okay, timeout, I’m done.” You don’t get to hit and run. You said, “You know what, I really recognize that my system right now is just jacked up. I’m so fired up. I feel so much tension, so much pressure,” if we can articulate that, which it’s hard to articulate when we’re in the high arousal states.
Then it really is a matter of taking time out and being sure that we call time back in, so we’re not just running away and avoiding the tough issues, but we’re stepping out of the kitchen, out of the heat of the kitchen when we need to cool ourselves down, wash our faces with some water, take a walk, something that really shifts what we’re doing in that moment so we can reset our nervous system. That’s for hyper arousal.
The other edge is the under arousal. It’s the lack of energy. It’s the depressive state. And guys recognize when we’re in a depressive collapsed state, it’s tiredness, it’s fatigue, it’s irritability, it’s defeatist kind of thoughts, it’s negative thinking, it’s vicitimish kind of thinking. It’s really important to recognize what are the signs and indicators for you of when you’re under activated or when you’re over activated. When you’re under activated, a cup of coffee may help. There are stimulants, of course better and worse stimulants. I certainly don’t recommend one guy comes in; he’s drinking six cups of coffee a day. I’m like, “You might want to reduce the amount of caffeine you’re putting into your system.” So it’s really important to watch what we’re eating, our exercise patters so that we’re really taking care of our rest; we’re really taking care of our exercise. Movement for me is one of the ways I most regulate myself is physical movement. For some it might be singing or toning or playing a musical instrument or going into the shop and doing some woodwork. It’s whatever really works for you. Hands on physical kinds of activity can help, but it’s oftentimes taking a break from if it’s a conflict with your partner, it can mean taking a break for at least ten minutes for your physiology to calm down.
To get going, it also helps to take some risks. If we’re depressive, take some risks. Walk your edges. Share a little bit more. Take some risks in telling someone something you hadn’t shared with them. Reveal a secret. We need to add some stimulus in sometimes if we’re under activated, and subtract something out when we’re over activated. Take something off of our list. So that’s how I talk about thinking in terms of energizing and recognizing hyper drive. Yeah, Susan for you, what do you recommend to guys that are in terms of channeling the energy if they’ve got too much energy or too little energy? What do you see there?
The Depressive State
Most men suffer from depression and lack of self-confidence when intimacy is withheld in their primary relationship. They get very upset and often their wife or girlfriend won’t talk to them about the problem. She doesn’t want to address the situation — that he wants more sex than he’s getting. He doesn’t know what to do with that. That’s very upsetting for him. I do think that when I actually talk to couples where there’s a disconnect, most couples believe they know what their partner is thinking, and yet they don’t have any idea what their partner is actually thinking. They just make something up that makes sense to them based on the small amount of information they think they heard from their partner. They just create this set of beliefs that are conjectures and guesses and little clues that have been dropped by their partner that they stitch into an entirely different story than the reality. And yet they’re in this stuck place where their partner won’t really engage in conversation with them.
What I liked about what you said was if you’re depressed, take some risks, bring some things up, but bring up how you’re feeling right in your body rather than what you guess or think or believe is what your partner has going on in their mind. I think if you can, as you call it, pushing an edge, taking a risk, to actually explain how you really physically feel, the physical sensations of your body to your body, there isn’t a lot that your partner’s going to do to shut that conversation down. That to me is an entry point that I don’t think a lot of men have necessarily tried because this idea of describing sensation, there are different words for it.
I call it, “Transparency and self-disclosure.”
And it’s somatic. The transparency is based on reporting what’s happening in your body. Similar to my article on “Reporting In From Your Animal.” We can’t control the feelings and sensations in our body that come from our emotional reactions. We can only report what we are feeling.
I also think that for a lot of women, the reason they’re shut down around their sexuality is because they’ve had some somatic episode – some sex they didn’t like, maybe they’re having difficulty orgasming, maybe their weight is a problem. There could be any number of things that are very body based and talking about your beliefs and their beliefs and all of these conjectures isn’t going to change anything, but getting down to that body based discussion can often create a breakthrough. It’s that vulnerability. It creates empathy. It puts them in an understanding of what’s actually physically happening within you, and I think that’s a good set point for conversation for a number of reasons.
Note: In addition to the core “turn around program,” customers get access to all the Revive Her Drive Mastery Modules including:
“Trust, Honesty and Listening” A Dialog with Otto Collins
How to talk to her about your needs while protecting yourself from drama, stonewalling or anger.
“Identifying and Changing Her Limiting Beliefs About Sex” with Morty Lefkoe
Learn how you can help your woman overcome negative family programming, societal guilt, religious shame and other limiting beliefs about sex.
“3 Steps To Help Your Wife Access And Express Her Sexuality” with Calle Zorro.
Turn the tables and watch as your wife magically begins to pursue YOU with these simple techniques that leverage natural human behavior.
“How You Can Support Her In Fixing Sexual Health Issues That Prevent Intimacy” with Dr. Deborah Metzger
Dr. Deb reveals all the cures and gives guys hope that it’s possible to overcome these body-based issues and get to fabulous lovemaking.
“Cultivating Desire In A Relationship” with Deborah Anapol, PhD
Deborah explains what desire is, where it comes from and how you can cultivate more desire in yourself and in your partner.
“Awakening The Sensual Goddess Within Your Woman” with Ariel White
Specific, actionable steps you can take to awaken your woman’s sensuality.
“Advanced Intercourse Techniques That Allow Her To More Fully Enjoy Lovemaking”with Billy Sunday Mars and Dr. Patricia Taylor
In order not to fall back into the groove that wasn’t working for you when you started your journey of revival – and to make sure she really enjoys herself when you make love to her – I’ve enlisted the aid of two of my most trusted resources specifically on the subject of coitus. Complete game plans and insider’s secrets Patti and Billy seldom share from their own repertoire of advanced skills.
“Soulful Communication Is The Path To Perpetual Passion” with Taber Shadburne
By the seventh month of escalating your lady from romance to sensuality, you are likely coming up against some challenges because you are not yet being completely truthful about your needs. Get honest with each other. And your
Real Intimacy: Why Truth Telling Is Sexy with Dr. Susan Campbell
Understand how to navigate when your buttons get pushed. Discover the art of asking for feedback. Learn how to become a truly active listener. The hottest, most passionate relationships are those where everything is on the table for discussion.
Transforming Your Beliefs: Unleashing Your Magnificence with Lion Goodman
Get deeper into transforming your limiting beliefs and learn a hug you can give your lady that will deepen your intimacy, perhaps more than anything you’ve ever done to her. It’s all about getting that nurturing security we all desperately crave and need.
The 3 Biggest Undeveloped or Immature Areas of Your Life as a Modern Man with Michael Gelbart
Begin maturing key areas that, if not addressed, deepen ones sense of isolation and “alone-ness.” The three areas are 1) Connected Intimacy; 2) Transparency and Vulnerability and 3) Intentional Presence. Listen now to learn how you can create more security for yourself and then for the women with whom you are intimate.