Joining Conversations and the Desire for Connection
– George Faller discusses the tendency to jump into conversations out of anxiety and a desire to feel connected.
– The impact of joining conversations on shifting focus and causing confusion or redirection.
– Different ways individuals engage when joining conversations, such as making jokes, focusing on the positive, or redirecting the conversation.
Reflections on Conversations in Israel
– George Faller shares a personal experience attending a class on sex and attachment in Israel.
– Excitement about meeting sex therapists from the Israeli community of EFTers.
– Realization about getting caught up in irrelevant details and missing the point in conversations.
Relationship Dynamics and Communication
– Discussion about a falling out with an intellectually stimulating person in the community.
– Acknowledging responsibility for going too hard too fast in the relationship.
– Desire to mend the relationship and willingness to put oneself in the other person’s shoes.
– Appreciation of how married couples, like their son and his wife, prioritize meaningful conversations and set aside time for difficult topics.
Importance of Reading and Defensive Responses
– Speaker initiates a comment emphasizing the importance of reading a book.
– Listener responds defensively, citing lack of time and children.
– Speaker’s disappointment and shame for not reading a book suggested by their partner/husband.
– Importance of understanding partner’s sexuality and excitements, and the purpose of the recommended book.
Intent vs. Impact in Communication
– Distinction between intent and impact in communication.
– Encouragement for conscious communicators to consider the impact of their contributions.
– Acknowledgment of the listener’s positive intent to engage by asking for more details.
– Caution about too much focus on irrelevant details sidetracking the conversation.
Unconscious Emotional Regulation and Defensive Responses
– Discussion on people unconsciously regulating their emotions by avoiding intense emotions.
– Common defensive responses instead of listening and being open in relationships.
– Emphasis on focusing on the partner during a conversation, rather than oneself.
Communicating and Repairing in Relationships
– Goal of increasing engagement and communication success in relationships.
– Highlighting the tendency to make conversations about oneself even in relationships.
– Importance of understanding and seeing the partner’s perspective when issues are raised.
– Challenges of trying to make the other person understand one’s perspective without addressing their feelings.
Bridging Exercises and Curiosity in Conversations
– Introduction of the book “What Great Lovers Know” and its relevance to the conversation.
– Invitation to couples to engage in a bridging exercise to understand each other’s perspective and create a safe space.
– Lack of engagement in this type of work by most couples.
– Emphasis on curiosity in conversations to keep the brain in an open and non-threatening state.
George Faller [00:00:01]:
I’m Dr. Kate Belistrari, a psychologist and certified sex therapist based in Beverly Hills. Join me on my new podcast, get Naked with Dr. Kate for direct and bold conversations about sex, relationships, mental health and tangible how tos listen to Get Naked with Dr. Kate wherever you get your podcasts.
Joe Davis – Announcer [00:00:19]:
The following content is not suitable for children.
George Faller [00:00:22]:
Timing is everything. Let’s be more intentional about our comments, our feedback, our interruptions, when we are going to input something into the conversation. What is the timing of that? Why does it work? Why does it not work? What do you think, Lori?
George Faller [00:00:42]:
I think this is a great topic. Welcome to foreplay radio couples in sex therapy. I’m Lori Watson, your sex therapist.
George Faller [00:00:53]:
And I’m George Faller, your couples therapist.
George Faller [00:00:56]:
And we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.
George Faller [00:01:02]:
Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body. It’s a great day to have some new conversations.
George Faller [00:01:15]:
Yes. So, speaking of conversations, I think what I talked to you about, G, was when you and I and Derek and Kathy were in Israel, and first of all, we had a great time. We went to a lot, and we were in a car forever with each other. And I survived George’s driving. Oh, my gosh, this man is amazing.
George Faller [00:01:35]:
I drive too slow. People are honking at me all the.
George Faller [00:01:41]:
Just he’s a maniac most of the time. My husband drove and I was a little more relaxed, but then George wanted to relieve him and terrify me.
George Faller [00:01:51]:
Yes. Got to have what fun in life.
George Faller [00:01:53]:
You can when you terrify your passengers. So, anyway, we had a conversation and many conversations. We had many conversations, and it was so much fun. But George was telling me about this class that he did when we were in Israel, and I attended on sex and EFT and sex and attachment, which, by the way, we just want to say hello to the Israeli community of efters. It was a joy to meet many of you, and it was really exciting to see how many of them were sex therapists already, and so open and so caring about the sexual part of the relationship. So that was beautiful. Hello, everybody. But when George was telling me about it, I don’t remember the content, G, but you were saying something that you found exciting that day and that this woman had said something to you. And I’m like, okay, which one was she? What did she look like? And I wanted to place myself there. I think you had said, you know her, you met her. And I wanted to place myself there, which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But you kind of gave up on me and said such a question. I can’t even go there. It’s going to take too many words. And it did not hurt my feelings, but I kind of listened to it. It was like, I do that a lot. I want to know details a lot, and I have good reasons to do that. I want to be in the experience. But the thing is, you were trying to share something exciting with me that you were feeling about it, and I sidetracked you, and then you didn’t ever get to the point. And that, to me, was meaningful. It’s like because I wanted to hear your excitement about it. I wanted to hear your point. That was the most important thing to me. And I realize in many conversations I do that, and I see my people do that all the time with each other. It’s like one person’s talking and the other wants to throw in a detail. Well, no, it was at 07:00, and it’s like, who cares? It’s like you’re missing the moment of what your partner is trying to share.
George Faller [00:04:03]:
It’s such a beautiful side of you that wants to always reflect and to take in feedback and to grow. And I think it’s what makes you the person you are, and you have so much wisdom to give people.
George Faller [00:04:15]:
Thank you. Gee.
George Faller [00:04:17]:
I always like to differentiate between the intent and the impact. And I think more conscious communicators are always trying to do both. They’re trying to become clear on what they’re looking for when they add something or contribute something, and they’re also open to the impact of what that might be. So again, I think in this example, you wanted to be part of it. Your intent was beautiful. You wanted more details. That’s usually what looking for details is trying to do. You’re trying to engage more. If the impact of you trying to engage more is you sidetrack it or you bring the conversation in a different direction. If the person who’s sharing, who the mission is the person who’s sharing, I got something that I really am initiating this conversation because it’s important. And now this pull towards what feels irrelevant in the moment details, it’s like want warrant to the conversation, to the person who’s sharing.
George Faller [00:05:11]:
George Faller [00:05:11]:
All do this, but most of us are just not aware of when we do this again.
George Faller [00:05:18]:
And I saw it. It was funny the way you said it to me, but it’s like, I really got it that that timing was off for you. And I will say, as a therapist, many times couples are talking and I want to know details. And I discipline myself to ask inside, is this really something that I need to know? Or will it detract from the primary message that the person is trying to get across to me and to their partner? I also ask myself that for you therapists that are listening, whenever I want to make a comment, like, maybe it spurs something in my brain, oh, I want to just add to the conversation. And I ask myself is this helpful? Does it really add a point that is necessary or is it just my chatter?
George Faller [00:06:08]:
Yes. I love your measuring stick. Does this add to the conversation or does this detract from the conversation? That’s why it’s so helpful for therapists who watch the videotapes. Right. You can just pause it when you ask a question. Don’t take this stuff personal. We trust your intent was good. The results are going to be in. What happens if your question deepens the process? It was an attuned response. If it didn’t and it took it to a different direction, it’s going to be misattuned. It’s just the flexibility to move with the conversation that I think is so critical.
George Faller [00:06:42]:
Yeah, exactly. And I mean, people say, I just want to talk. I don’t want to do all this work and figure that out. I just want to have relaxed conversation. It’s like, okay, but do you want to have intimate relationships? Do you want to have connection? Do you want to have attunement? Do you want your partner to feel attuned? Do you want your friends to feel attuned? To me there’s a greater good. And so, yeah, I’m willing to curtail some of what I say and how I listen because I have a greater goal not just as a therapist but as a friend and as a partner and all of that.
George Faller [00:07:21]:
It’s helpful for me to remind myself all the time on what is the mission, who’s the person who’s sharing. And the focus should be on them because they’re sharing and right so. If you’re going to say, hey, George, I want to talk about whatever you want to talk about, you’re bringing it up for a reason. Can I keep my focus and my curiosity open to that?
George Faller [00:07:44]:
George Faller [00:07:44]:
Because a lot of times when we do add something, we’re trying to make it about us. Right. And this happens with couples all the know. If we’re in relationship and you say, hey, George, I want to talk about know when you came home late last know, it hurt my feelings. Like you’re bringing that up because you want something from me. You want me to see you, you want me to understand you. And if my next response is, well, you know, I have to work. We have to pay the make. What I add is about me. I’m asking your brain to shift from trying to talk about you to see my perspective. Good luck with that one. And I try to get couples to see this all the time. The choices that they wind up making mathematically will not work if your brain wants me to get you in someplace you’re hurt and instead I try to pull your brain to see my perspective. You can’t do two missions at the same time emotionally. We just don’t have the bandwidth to be able to do that.
George Faller [00:08:44]:
So true. So true. Recently, I had to have a repair conversation. I hurt somebody. I’ve been trying to get back with them to have this conversation. And the first part of the conversation, my commitment, I don’t care what they say, I’m going to take it in, I’m going to hear their hurt. And it did come out with some thorns, but I was committed. It was like I could see how those thorns had some validity and I knew pulling the person toward my perspective of what I had intended, the impact was pretty terrible. I had really hurt this person or I had been misattuned for darn sure.
George Faller [00:09:33]:
So can we just pause there for a second? Because this is a good opportunity for our listeners.
George Faller [00:09:39]:
George Faller [00:09:39]:
I often invite couples partners to do a bridging exercise, right, where what you’re doing is you’re preparing yourself to kind of cross over and see this person’s perspective. You are trying to ground yourself to say, like, this person deserves this. I want to know this. Make myself safe, put myself in a safe place where it’s not about me. I don’t have to defend myself. So I’ll actually help couples do this where they could imagine being at the beach or in a ski hill or the mountains. Don’t make it about you for five minutes. When you feel like your brain is great and you’re safe, you’re going to cross over the bridge, you’re going to walk in the other person’s. And even when you prepare yourself for that, it’s hard to do. Most couples are not doing any of this work. It’s like, hey, I want to talk. They do want to hear. And that person says one sentence that they don’t like and their brain is like, what are you talking about? That’s not how I see it at all. And it’s like, boom. They’re trying to have two conversations, two missions, and that’s what sets it up for failure. So I love the intentionality that you went into that conversation that said, I’m going to take these first couple of minutes to just be open, to just be curious. Curiosity is the driving emotion of a green brain. That’s what I’m looking for in a conversation. When you’re not curious, when you’re jumping in because your body say, well, I don’t agree with that, or I’m protesting this, your brain is no longer in a threat response. It’s not in that open place.
George Faller [00:11:05]:
Exactly. And this was not a close friend. This was a community person. But their aliveness in the conversation was so exciting to me. I’m like, I want that back. I want to mend this. I need this person in my life. They were kind of an exciting person intellectually to me. And we got messed up and it was me that messed it up. I went too hard too fast. And it was like, yeah, I think I did set myself up. No matter what my intention is to mend this, I wasn’t going to say, yeah, I did all that stuff, but I was going to say, okay, yeah. Oh, gosh. That’s how it sounded. That’s how it heard. And really try to put myself in their boots. So you’re right. I think as a couple, when we invite our partner into any kind of conversation that is meaningful, we have to be prepared and they have to be in this space. That’s why I like what my kids do. My married son and his wife, they set aside time every week, and there’s intention. This is a space we’re going to bring up things that are difficult, so they both are preparing themselves to hear and to talk about difficulties.
George Faller [00:12:25]:
George Faller [00:12:26]:
George Faller [00:12:31]:
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George Faller [00:13:23]:
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George Faller [00:15:01]:
So we’re inviting our listeners to just reflect a little bit more around when they jump into a conversation, when they try to add something to the conversation. What’s the impact of that? We trust you have good reasons for it. But a lot of times the timing is just not right, that it’s taking the conversation in a new direction. And oftentimes that’s a pursuer because anxiety causes us to want to jump in, want to be part of it, want to feel connected. Again, a beautiful intent. But the impact is it shifts the focus and it leads to some confusion or people, which ours do the same thing, they just do it in different ways. A lot of times if we want them to engage and they’re going to use some of these moves like they’ll make a joke or their focus on the positive or they’re do things that are just trying to take the conversation in a different direction. So imagine you’re the pursuit and you’re like, George, I think we’ve had a tough week and I really want to talk about it.
George Faller [00:16:05]:
Wait, I have to just imagine this? Yeah, okay, go ahead.
George Faller [00:16:10]:
Or you could role play. Go for it. I like that.
George Faller [00:16:13]:
No, I mean as if I’m not more pursuing and you more withdrawing. Just a little bit.
George Faller [00:16:18]:
George Faller [00:16:20]:
George Faller [00:16:21]:
But again, if you’re initiating the conversation, a lot of times the pursuers are going to jump their with a withdrawal. They’re not going to take the invitation, which is just another form of misattunement. Right. Your heart wants to talk. You say, hey, George, I want to talk about something. I think we’ve had a tough week. You’re giving the mission. Let’s talk about the tough week. My brain wants to go. Well, you know what? Friday night we had a great dinner. Was that not the best eggplant parmesan you’ve never ever had before? I am trying to bring you somewhere else, which is just my way of trying to regulate emotion because I don’t want to go down that road of hard week because it turns into a fight and bad things. But I’m not meeting you where you’re at. I’m trying to get you to go somewhere else.
George Faller [00:17:09]:
It’s another distraction. It’s a different destruction that is intended to keep the heat low, right. To cool things off.
George Faller [00:17:18]:
Yes. And unfortunately for most people, it’s not even conscious. They do these things because they’ve gotten so used to regulating emotion. They just want to get away from intense emotion that it just does it for them. Right. And they don’t even realize they’re doing that. That’s why we’re trying to invite couples. Start just pause for a second. What is your first response to your partner? Just stop for a second and just see. What do you try to get with that response? What you’re going to see a lot of the time is your response is defensive. It’s not open. Your partner is trying to have a conversation. They want to be heard and instead of keeping the focus and the mission on your partner. You make it about yourself and protecting yourself, and you try to go in a different direction. And that’s just not good math for a successful conversation. We all do it. We’re not trying to turn you all into robots and to be perfect communicators, but if we can increase those rates of engagement, we’re going to have more success.
George Faller [00:18:16]:
Yeah. And I think one of the things I see withdrawing people frequently is they want to get done with the conversation quickly so they have fewer words. It does seem like pursuers have a lot of words. And I know this isn’t across the board, but often when I’m working with a withdrawal, they’ll have just so few words. Their partner will say, I was so hurt because of this, that, and the other. And they’re like, yeah, you were hurt, versus being able to really lean in and put themselves in their shoes and validate and all of the steps that make somebody feel listened to. That just feels overwhelming to them to say all that stuff.
George Faller [00:19:02]:
Exactly. And they’re choosing their own protection in that moment over keeping their focus on their partner. And the good news is, if, you know you do that, you could actually learn the most effective strategy is actually to focus on your partner. Your partner will calm down a lot faster than you trying to not engage with them and get them to go to a different place.
George Faller [00:19:26]:
Okay, so if I’m a sexual withdrawer and my partner has said something, say something, be a sexual pursuer for a.
George Faller [00:19:35]:
Minute, I really wish you would read that book that I asked you about that’s just trying to explore how to be better lovers.
George Faller [00:19:44]:
Yeah. So I have a million choices here. The things that come up in me, I’m just talking narrating.
George Faller [00:19:51]:
Well, go in the wrong direction. Go in a way that tries to bring it somewhere else.
George Faller [00:19:56]:
Well, yeah, if I had any energy left after the children and cleaning up dinner and putting them to bed, maybe, yes, I would take some time to read the book that you have left out. One of the many books.
George Faller [00:20:11]:
Good. So, again, I hope you see with that response, I initiated that comment because I’m really hoping she’s going to engage around seeing the importance of reading the book right. And her not reading it yet and saying, hey, I need to get to like, that’s what I’m looking for. That’s the longing in the criticism in the comment, laurie, when you take it in a defensive way and talk about, well, you don’t have the time because the kids my brain’s like, you’re not meeting me where I want now I’m going to get more angry at you. We’re now in a fight, so let’s do take two and let’s see how could Lori again, what she’s saying is important. Please don’t hear everything that we add is important. It’s just the timing of it. Lori needs to talk about the kids and not having energy, and if she wants to initiate a conversation about that, I’m going to need to focus on her because that is going to be the mission. But if the mission is, I want you to get me, and then you say, yeah, but I want you to get me, neither one of us are going to get gotten. We’re dead in the water. So let’s see if you can respond. Keeping your focus on me. So I really just checking in because I want to see if you read that book that I gave you on what great lovers do.
George Faller [00:21:27]:
Have. I read the book, honey, I haven’t read the book. And how does it feel? I haven’t read the book. I know that’s going to hurt you. I even just hate telling you that. What do you feel about I know you want me to read the book.
George Faller [00:21:49]:
I love seeing how you struggle it here with the withdrawal AC. You didn’t have a lot of words. All of a sudden, it’s not so easy being these withdrawals. It’s not it’s not so easy. Gosh right. And again, how do you not make it about your fears, your anxiety, your failure, and stay curious on why I brought it up to you.
George Faller [00:22:13]:
Okay, again, because I didn’t do it.
George Faller [00:22:18]:
Well, hoping our couples listening are trying all these little role plays. We try, we don’t even know what we’re doing. We’re just wigging this stuff, right. And a lot of times we become clearer in the role plays around what works and what doesn’t work. That’s why we do this.
George Faller [00:22:31]:
I really do.
George Faller [00:22:32]:
We’re not trying to be perfect here. Both of us make mistakes all the time, and we learn from that. So I’m just checking in. Did you read that book on great lovers that I sent you?
George Faller [00:22:45]:
Yeah. Honey, I did not read the book. I know you wanted me to, and I know you bring a lot of great energy and creativity and stuff to our bedroom. And now, as I say that, I guess I’m wondering how you feel about hearing, I didn’t do it.
George Faller [00:23:07]:
Okay, so what? I found myself pausing again, wanting you to ask me about what I liked in that book. What do you want me to get out of that book if I read it? Because again, that’s what’s driving it. That’s the longing in it.
George Faller [00:23:22]:
There’s something about the book that there’s something about.
George Faller [00:23:25]:
I want you to read it. I want to see your interest, because if you would read the book, you would probably find that thing, too, and we’d have something in common. That’s really what I’m looking for.
George Faller [00:23:34]:
I love that you said that, but I want you to hear. You didn’t tell me that you asked about the book, and I’m just a concrete withdrawer who’s like, crap. I didn’t read the book.
George Faller [00:23:45]:
And a lot of I’m in trouble. A lot of pursuers are not going to know really what they’re looking for. Right. Which is why we want to keep practicing to get clearer. The clearer the message, the easier it is the message to be responded to. So, yes, if I could share that, I give the withdrawal the best chance, but if I don’t, how does the withdraw keep open and curious to what do you think is driving that question? So let’s try it again.
George Faller [00:24:16]:
I think what’s driving that question is he wants me to be an info. That’s what I think. And I’m going to be sad. Disappointment is what I’m feeling as a.
George Faller [00:24:25]:
Withdrawal, which again, so many withdrawers get triggered and feeling like a failure, and then they defend from that place of feeling like a failure and that becomes the miss right out of the gate. And that’s going to happen. And that place of a failure is so important, the withdrawal has to learn to talk about it. If they don’t get help in that place, nothing is going to change. So again, we’re recognizing we’ve done so many episodes on withdrawals and trying to get them to engage. This is going to be hard for a lot of withdrawals. If your brain gets threatened by the response, you’re going to go to those old moves, but maybe afterwards you could come back and this is how you would repair to just say, hey, I’m sorry, I got a bit triggered there and I got a bit defensive, but I hear you. This is important to you. I want to know what’s important about that. Can you tell me more about that? Put the focus back on the other. Right. Which is so often what doesn’t happen in these misses. So, Lori, I’m just checking, hoping, you know, I want to see if you read that book, What Great Lovers Know.
George Faller [00:25:26]:
I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I was wondering, would you like me to start a particular place? Was there a chapter that was really meaningful to you or could you just tell me a little bit about kind of what is in the book that you’re hoping I will relate to or learn from?
George Faller [00:25:45]:
Yeah, no, I mean, I think it’d be good probably to read the whole thing, but the section on.
George Faller [00:25:54]:
I love you’re pushing energy here, G. Yeah, okay, go ahead.
George Faller [00:25:59]:
But again, I felt myself like you were meeting me there, like you were asking for my engagement, what was going on with me. It felt like an invitation to have more of a conversation, which is what I was looking okay. And I hope our listeners can see how different again, the outcome is so much more likely to be successful when the person who’s sharing has the person listen and responding back in a way that’s keeping the focus on the person who’s sharing. Right. And if you don’t, if you make it about you for really good reasons and we all do this, it’s less likely to be successful. That’s why we’re just talking about the timing.
George Faller [00:26:36]:
Yeah, the timing is I have to put aside my feelings of that I’m a disappointment, that I feel ashamed I didn’t get to this thing. My partner, my husband wants me to read, and all of that is super emotional inside. As I listen, even as I just acted out, I feel emotional about it. And so disciplining yourself to stay focused on the person who starts the conversation. The mission is, what is he trying to get across? What is important? What is meaningful here? He’s not calling me up short here. He probably knows I didn’t open the book because he’s seen it there, and there’s not a crack in the spine, so he knows I didn’t even look. He already knows that. But the book is meaningful, and there’s something in it that I have to understand him and his sexuality and what’s exciting to him, and that’s kind of the whole damn point of the book.
George Faller [00:27:33]:
Right. And your feeling of failure we have to get to eventually. That’s just the next conversation. Right. And I love couples that make it so explicit. Basically, I say, hey, I want to talk about something. Can you keep the focus on me? The other person goes, well, you know what? No, I can’t, because with the way you said it brought up something in me, and I want to talk about that, too. Then the other person says, I don’t like that you want to talk about that because you’re not listening to me, so I’m not going to listen to you. Then the other person says, fine, if you don’t want to listen to me, I’m not going to listen to you. So let’s have another conversation for an hour with each other. Neither one of us listen to each other. That’s what most couples are doing.
George Faller [00:28:09]:
You just said my family of origin. That was exactly what we did.
George Faller [00:28:16]:
Well, let’s chase some of those families of origin for the future generations so they can have more success.
George Faller [00:28:21]:
Okay, good. Okay, well, thanks for listening to us.
George Faller [00:28:25]:
Keep it hot, y’all.
George Faller [00:28:27]:
Okay, so tell us about your cutting edge training that you’re doing on success and vulnerability.
George Faller [00:28:33]:
Laurie we just keep pushing it. Coming up with a new module on the playbook of a pursuer, playbook of a withdrawal. Really practical, moment by moment moves of what a therapist can use. We’re so focused on what’s happening in session enough, there’s talk about theories and these global things I think most therapists are looking for, what do I do in this moment? Give me a tool. George so that’s what we’re trying to do.
George Faller [00:28:59]:
That’s awesome. I am so glad you guys are doing this work. I think it helps us be organized to see you do it. You do demos, you do explanations, teaching. It really is interactive, and I think that so many. Trainings that we sit through don’t give us an opportunity for that. So what you’re doing is really important.
George Faller [00:29:18]:
No, we try to emphasize, to teach it, show it, do it model of learning. You need to have some ideas, so we try to teach those and then we try to show what it looks like implementing those ideas. But most importantly, you now got to practice it. That’s how they become yours. And that’s what we want our listeners and watchers to do, is become their own moves.
George Faller [00:29:37]:
Find George and his email@example.com.
Joe Davis – Announcer [00:29:42]:
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