Breaking The Cycle Of Relationship Failure

People nearing the end of life will often name their greatest joys and greatest sorrows in terms of relationships.  Regrets, for example may be about time not spent with loved ones, or about not having forgiven some past transgression.  Regrets are seldom about anything to do with the material world.  With this in mind, my professional “mission” is to help people who want to be in an intimate and meaningful relationship to achieve that goal.  Weather you want to “attract” a healthy relationship or to repair, strengthen, and revitalize the one you are currently in, I am committed to helping you. Together we will look thoughtfully at the  patterns you are repeating  in relationships that are not working for you.  This insight will then be the key to fixing the relationship you are in, or finding and keeping the exact right relationship for you.  I urge you to read the blogs that follow to get a sense of what I believe, and how I work…..Leslie Kays




 curious Good advice for the female brain

Just…Be Curious

Good Advice For The Female Brain

I’m not gonna lie….I have occasional bouts with anxiety.  It comes and goes according to its own agenda depending on the circumstances of my life, but it manefests usually as “anticipatory anxiety”.  That is to say, I am a victim of “What If” thinking…The catastrophic world of my imagination is far worse than anything that has ever actually happened. When the “bad” stuff happens,  its never what I expect or when I expect it.  Talk about being your own worst enemy!

What I have learned recently from Dr. Daniel Amen, who is a well  known neuropsychologist, is that the female brain is actually wired to encode anticipatory anxiety at a neurological level.  This can be seen in brain scans done on adult females and then comparing them to male brain scans.  Statistically speaking, the female brain “lights up” much more than the male brain in the area of emotional arousal, and emotional memory.  Female brains are actually much more active than male brains, but not necessarily in an adaptive way.  Perhaps, evolutionarily speaking, it was once an advantage for female tribe members to be acutely sensitive to legitimate threat to the tribe. She had to protect her babies.  Now, however, acute “hypervigalence” can get in the way as modern women react to “perceived threat”.  Now the threat  exists inside of us.  It has become “internalized” and our feelings of panic are easily triggered as our emotional memory “brings back up” all previous memories of times we have felt “like this”.  The neural pathways then become reinforced, and we are easily set off again.  The problem is that this type of sustained anxiety floods the body with adrenaline and cortisol and these stress hormones are harmful to our overall physical and mental health.

So, what can we do?  To answer this question I draw upon the wise words of Dr. Harville Hendrix, a theologian and psychologist, who has been working with couples for 35 years and has written the books.  “Getting The Love You Want”, and “Keeping The Love You Get”.  Dr. Hendrix suggests that we women should become curious explorers of our own psyche when we are triggered by events and find ourselves in that place of extreme emotional reactivity. When the female brain is “Lit Up”, to use Dr. Amen’s language, the part of the brain that is fired up is located in the “limbic” system, which is where emotions are created, stored, and retrieved.  Our emotional memories can be lovely memories of a time when we were happy, contented, and loved.  Emotional memories can also create great suffering, and help us stay in some very dark places. Dr. Hendrix suggests that we can interrupt the emotional suffering by simply stepping away for a moment to become curious about ourselves.  We need only ask the question:  “I wonder why I am having such a reaction as this right now?” The asking of the question moves the brain from the limbic system to the neo cortex, where thinking and problem solving take place.  We can become calm and begin to explore ourselves more dispassionately. This is much like becoming your own best friend, or therapist.  Save yourself some cash!

So, try it if you like…..Im going to

Think Of It As An Experiment!

Think Of It As An Experiment

A couple of nights ago I dreamt that I had lost my Ginnea Pig.  I was very upset and looked everywhere for it.  I don’t have a Ginnea Pig, nor am I drawn to Ginnea Pigs in any way, so I know my dream animal is symbolic.  A quick inventory of associations to “Ginnea Pigs in my culture reveals that they represent the idea of an “experiment”. We use the word ginea pig in a loose way to mean a “test” subject…some entity on whom we try something out.  We may “test” a particular hypothesis.

So, now I ask myself  “How have I lost my own inner Ginnea pig?”..In what way(s) do I live a life that does not “test out” new ideas, adventures, identities, friends…fill in the blank?.  The answer to this question is obvious.  Like many people, I live my life mostly by habit.  I repeat activities, thoughts, and ideas over and over.  New things often intimidate me, threaten me, or challenge core assumptions I live my life by, so I shy away.  All of this happens quite unconsciously for the most part.

I believe my dream last night was a message from a deeper place within me.  It is a place that dares to challenge the status quo of my very self.  Deep within me, in a place that I could call my “authentic” self….or my “transcendent” self…my inner ginnea pig is alive and well.  Usually it is hidden from view, like the toolbar on my mac that I inadvertently hid and then rediscovered.  Voila!…..It lives!!

Unfortunately, as much as that inner dream voice tries to assert itself  (if I take time to listen), there is an equally strong force within me that does not like UNPREDICTABILITY…and unpredictability goes along with experimentation.  “No, no”, says this voice. “keep things within your little locus of  control”  Really Leslie, how arrogant…as if that were even possible.  Who do you think you are?


What I want instead is to welcome in the ginnea pig of my dream.  What if I could have the attitude, each day, that this day is just another opportunity to experiment?  I like to picture myself as the mad scientist of my life, wildly putting ingrediants together in new ways.  Would I sometimes create an explosion of unintended consequences? Of course.  Would I “miss the mark” of expectation and fail miserably.  Absolutely.  But, I believe that if my intention was always to “do no harm” to others and in fact be a force for good…I would have to move forward.  Movement always leaves opportunity for course correction, but no movement means no course to correct.

So tonight as I drift into sleep I’m going to invite that little Ginnea Pig back into my dreams.  I’m gonna find that critter and see what else he has to say.  I invite you to do the same.  Think of it as an Experiment!

The Art Of A Graceful ending

‘The Art Of A Graceful Ending

We don’t do endings well in this culture.  Life proceeds ahead for us in distinct “chapters”, such as childhood, adolescence, parenthood, old age, ect.   And so, we are constantly in a state of transition from one chapter to the next.  Yet, we often do not take note of when one stage has ended, and another has begun.  Sometimes we do take note of the beginning of a new stage of life—marriage for example, or graduation.  We celebrate these events because we like it when new things begin. It seems to me, though, that we don’t so much like it when things end.  Paradoxically, something must always end in order for a new thing to begin, but we don’t focus so much on this.  Note, for example that Graduations are called “Commencements”.  Even though a graduation marks the ending of something, we focus instead on the beginning of something else.  Isn’t this odd?

It seems to me that “Endings”, in our culture are frequently cast in a dark light….the end of innocence…the end of childhood…the end of a marriage…the end of an era…the end of life.  Emphasis is placed on “moving on”, and/or “getting over it”.  Maybe this is just another manifestation of our “youth” culture.  We like things that are “young”, “fresh’’ and “shiny new”.  We often think that when things end, it must mean that there has been a “failure” of some sort. What “wrong” thing has happened to make it so that this thing must now end?  A job ends. A marriage ends.  Who or what is to blame for this “failure”? This “mindset” takes over even when we know that “all things  must end”

I submit that endings do not have to “play out” in this dark and negative way.  An ending can be a beautiful, honorable, and graceful thing.  A graceful ending paves the way for a new beginning to emerge without the “baggage” of a “bad” ending.  Case in point was my sister Nancy’s passing from pancreatic cancer several years ago.  The fact that she had to die was enormously painful for my sisters, my father, and her children…but the way she died was nothing short of beautiful. What I noticed is that all family members came together at the end.  We were there for her and we were there for each other.  We honored and celebrated her constantly, and we openly grieved with her and each other.  We said goodbye.  Nancys memorial service was “A Celebration” of her life in which her essence was evoked.  Nancy’s final gift to me was in showing me that we can do endings well…thank you Nancy.

In contrast to this I think of the way marriages often end, at least many of the marriages I have known.  One partner wants to move on, and generally wants to move on fairly quickly.  The other partner may be “dumped” with very little explanation, and  without any attempt to honor the years of marriage, the family which has been built, the experiences shared. Even when marriages end by more mutual agreement, they still seem to end with very little fanfare. Is this not the “mother” of all bad endings in our culture?…leaving behind as it does a veritable wreakage of bad feeling and trauma.  Why can’t the ending of a marriage be the same as the ending of a life… as I experienced it with my sister?  Doesn’t this ending deserve the same careful attention to all parties involved, and some attempt to understand what this theoretically “sacred” relationship was all about?…Why not have a “Celebration of the Marriage” event?  Why not have a period of “mourning” after the end of a marriage as we do with a death?..

So, that’s how I would change things.  We would have designated periods of celebration and/or mourning after all major endings in life…some kind of ritual at least…something!  What do you think?? It’s at least a start towards necessary healing…and the beginning of paving a healthy foundation upon which to write the next chapter