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Angelika Matthias
Therapist for Expat Couples and Individuals in The Hague, NL
Therapist for Expat Couples and Individuals in The Hague, NL

Why should we pay more attention to our feelings and emotions?

Through society and our education, we are often obliged to only follow our rational minds and not to allow ourselves to be distracted by our emotions. “Emotions and feelings can overwhelm you, only the mind can help you”, is a sentence that rings in many heads. Use your brain, only the weak follow their heart. And of course, no one wants to be overwhelmed by their feelings and emotions.
But the feelings and emotions are there anyways! They make us human beings. They allow us to empathize with others and care for each other. But also bad feelings and emotions have their meaning. They tell us what's not good for us. They signal us when we need to change something. That is why it’s called “a gut feeling”, which sits in the stomach or the intuition that sits in the chest area. These are other sources of information that we should not leave unused.
If we now ignore the bad feelings and emotions because we think we must not feel them, it will be difficult. It can take a lot of energy to suppress these feelings and emotions. It has been described as, - it´s like trying to push a ball under water -. But some of us are really good at it. However, if the force decreases, the feelings and emotions come up again and this time with much greater force and quite uncontrolled (just like the ball that was under water, pops up). This is the moment when our environment only sees our anger, rage, aggression or pure violence. You fight uncontrollably and may hurt your fellow people. Or we can go on suppressing the feelings and emotions until the body doesn't know how to help itself and gets sick.
Therefore, it is important to get access to your feelings and emotions and learn how to read them correctly. Because they give us important information about what is right and important to us. We can learn to accept the situation that makes us frustrated or angry, either with a peaceful feeling or if that does not work then try to make some changes. It's the inner struggle that costs so much energy and makes you sick.

The "social media" and their influence on our interpersonal relationships

Recently, there has been a growing awareness that the "new" media can also have a negative impact on our social interaction with each other. Partners complain about each other because of the constant presence on social media and the absence during e.g. meals, parents complain about their children and vice versa. The article "Cyber Babies and the Threat to the Development of Secure Attachment Relationships", by, Janet A. Courtney, PhD, discusses how dangerous it might be for our future social development if we don't even take care of our youngest fellow humans with direct eye contact. Of course, there are always the arguments that in the past not everything was perfect, which is surely true. However, the new media does not only have a positive influence on us.
The new technology has become so important that it is now an integral part of our everyday life. It is not a question of demonizing the new media in general. However, it is naïve to assume that mishandling the situation will not affect our social interactions. Our need for information is so high and our concern to miss important information is often very present. A small ping on our mobile phone alone can cause us to leave everything else standing, even endanger us and our fellow men on the road. The worries of not receiving and reading an "important" message at once are driving our actions even on the road which sometimes leads us down dangerous paths and in turn lead to more accidents. Hardly anyone, with whom we are physically surrounded, can provoke such a fast response in us. That alone should give us food for thought.
By pretending to be present everywhere and always live at the push of a button, we get the feeling of interacting with other people and it may even replace social interpersonal interactions. Our reward system in the brain seems to be so easily satisfied. The real-world interactions with other people can sometimes be very complicated and can present us with real challenges.
In a conversation, where we have eye contact, we are able to take in much more information from our counterpart than just the written or spoken words. Gesture, facial expressions and tone of voice give us additional information about our relationship with our conversational partner. A world without this interpersonal interaction is a poorer world. Poorer already in information.
If we have the possibility to interact with all our senses correctly, we have much more chances to clarify misunderstandings and wrong communication. In socially difficult situations where you feel overwhelmed, it can be an attractive and easy way to escape from the situation through distanced communication via e-mail, WhatsApp, SMS. The new media offer many a welcome escape from the situation.

Additionally, it is also tempting to find comfort on the internet.
A striking development in recent years is the increasing dependence on internet pornography. There are an increasing number of cases, in psychotherapeutic practices, where clients complain more and more about potency problems. In this case, too, the media plays a role and fuels expectations that have little to do with the reality of a fulfilled sex life in a partnership. Therefore, a pressure to perform can develop, which can have a negative effect on the erotic interaction in the partnership.
The romantic partners complain about a lack of erotic closeness. This can lead to jealousy towards pornography. These accusations are often dismissed, with - that's not so bad, I'm not having an affair.- However, such an intimate connection with the screen, very well has all the characteristics of an affair. The user of pornography may be more likely to turn to the screen than his or her partner.
Through the constant use of the media, we can get more and more into emotionally isolated, which destroys us mentally. There are more and more people suffering from depressions and anxiety or loneliness.
According to Sue Johnson (Therapist/Research Professor/Presenter in the field of couple relationships), we are very concerned about the destruction of our ecological environment, but equally as frightening is, that we are moving further and further away from our key stakeholders and are becoming more and more emotionally isolated. This emotional isolation makes us sick. We can no longer deal with people around us because we have forgotten how to do it, or have never really learned it. And with a lack of active communication, we will not be able to pass it on to our children properly. We should not only worry about destroying our ecological environment, since we will probably destroy each other emotionally first. We should put a greater focus on cultivating good working relationships. We humans need each other, we are social creatures. Only the cooperation with each other has helped us in our development. Positive interaction and interpersonal recognition is important in order for all of us to survive.
It is sad that we ignore the fact that we are social beings for whom social coexistence is vital for survival.
We are so vulnerable in our interpersonal relationships. However, these relationships are also the greatest source of our personal development and opportunity to grow beyond ourselves.
That is why it is so important that we pay more attention to each other.
As a couple therapist I work mainly with international and multicultural couples. One might think that with different mother tongues, different cultures and religions, it is hardly possible to communicate in a proper way. However, I experience again and again how beautiful it is when these couples have found a way to really respond to each other, to listen to each other, to really understand each other and to accept each other in his or her otherness. This is the love that we all so desperately long for and it even crosses borders.

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Expat life during the holiday

November and December are the two months of the year in which expatriates are most confronted with the cultural differences between their country of origin and their host country. These two months are filled with many different holidays and rituals in many cultures. Regardless of where you were born and raised in the world and what religious background you bring with you. Especially when you live in The Hague or the Netherlands as a foreigner, you are confronted with cultural differences.
In The Hague, for example, Sinterklaas arrives with his helpers, the Pieten in mid-November with a ship from Spain. For the Dutch schoolchildren this is the beginning of a very exciting time, with the most important day being December 5th. The rest of the country also celebrates December 5th with friends and family, more than in any other culture. You can find special Sinterklaas decorations, like chocolate letters and cookies. TV shows tell the story of Sinterklaas and his Pieten and you can customise your poems for the Sinterklaas presents everywhere. Christmas itself does not carry as much of an importance as it does in other cultures.
On the other hand, some people, far from their homeland, miss the own tradition, which have accompanied them for so long. For example, Thanksgiving, Martinssingen, Advent, Hanukkah, the Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Ramadan, and many other traditions, which make the long evenings more comfortable and special. There is a difference between celebrating these holidays with the whole society around you, or trying to keep your home country's traditions alive when you are abroad. It may feel strange when you want to celebrate your own holiday, and outside the door, life goes on like nothing happens. Then you will be confronted again with the fact that you live abroad! This may make you feel like you somehow never quite fit into the new culture.
The following questions can arise; how long do I want to be here? Does it still make sense to cultivate my home culture? What is my own identity? To what extent do I want to integrate and give up parts of my own culture? All these questions can be quite confronting.
Therefore, it may be more important to find an individual path for yourself and your family. Sometimes it can also be liberating not to be subject to the norms and rules and the control of the local culture. No one will judge you when not everything is perfect. Maybe you will find new friends and acquaintances who want to celebrate these days with you and are interested in how these celebrations take place. Perhaps you can also discover the freedom to combine your own traditions and the traditions of the host country and enjoy wonderful holidays with even less stress than you thought.

And this viewpoint might also be extended to many other areas of an expatriate's life, but it is most obvious in the months of November and December.
Personally, sometimes I find it liberating to live in a culture other than my own.


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Mein Supervisor Paul Greenman spricht über EFT für Paare.

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Hier ein schöner Beitrag von meinen deutschen Kollegen, der erklärt warum Emotionsfokussiert Paartherapie hilfreich sein kann.

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We finally need to understand that self-love is not enough for us as human beings. We need the close connection to our important relationships to be mentally in balance.

Self-Love: Why I'm Over It
Self-Love: Why I'm Over It

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Authenticity helps you to become closer to your most important people.

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My website has a new design since yesterday! Please have a look.

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If you work with adolescences and or families this might be very helpful for you. However for parents and adolescences themselves it is advisable to now more over Dr. Dan Siegels approach and his work with the young generation. We can learn so much about each other, which would help all of us to live a more integrated and satisfied life.

Why it is not enough to be self sufficient

We as individuals sometimes struggle a lot with our own identity and our close relationships.
There are deadlines to meet, the train is not waiting, the biological clock is ticking, the house is almost on fire all the time. We have to rush and be efficient, well organized, try to be on track all the time. Run, run, … but where? … and then? … What is the next goal? .... The only unreliable resource in this game is the human being!
We are soft, slow, stubborn, fearful, too weak, too young, too old, too lazy, too ambitious, we get tired, get hungry, get sick, get thirsty. We get bored or talk too much and sometimes without thinking. We struggle.
We want to have security, loyalty, we want to trust. However, it is so difficult to judge human beings. There are all these people in our way and therefore we cannot give our best, get stuck, get stressed and frustrated. We always have to wait for others! They are always keeping us from being perfect. Everything would be so good, if there would only be me. I would meet the deadline, I would catch the bus, I would be on time, I would not get stressed, I would be well organized, I could use all my money for myself. Moreover, I would be the nicest, the richest, the smartest and prettiest on earth. Everything would just be wonderful! … Really? … Of course there are moments where the biggest gift is our privacy. And of course people can be annoying, demanding and stressful.
But the truth is, the human species needs each other to survive. A little baby would not survive without any help from others. Cooperation was always our strength and brought us forward. We would wither without love and care. We all need loving connections to people until we die. We
Why it is Why it is Why it is Why it is not enough not enough not enough to be self to be self to be self sufficient sufficient sufficient
are social creatures, who need to talk, need to get feedback, need to learn from each other and
need to feel loved. That makes us strong! Therefore, it makes sense to invest in healthy and
strong relationships. Healthy relationships help to get the best out of us. They make us feel
good, help us grow and they make us happy!

Angelika Matthias, Therapist for couples and individuals in The Hague
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