Lead with Love

So many reasons in this world that we forget to be kind, to be thoughtful, to be considerate.

      • Most people, when given the choice would prefer to be appreciated, valued, and respected.

    Change is likely if you both want it and are both willing to work for it.- Dr. Rick Weinberg

    Below is an abbreviated summary of a recent training utilizing Positive Psychology and Neurobiology. We can apply and integrate recent findings from neurobiology to assist couples and families in developing more satisfying connections and patterns. We share our takeaways from trainings like this in hopes that someone reading this may better understand the science and strategies behind the techniques we offer during session. If you’re curious about how therapy can benefit you or your relationships, please feel free to reach out with any questions or to schedule an appointment. Whether the relationship is between a child and their parents or between partners, everyone can benefit from the following material.

    Dr. Rick Weinberg, Ph.D., ABPPis aClinical Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at University of South Florida.

    You can find out more about Dr. Weinberg here. https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/cfs/faculty-staff/weinberg-r.aspx


    Ask Yourself These Important Questions

        • Do you love your partner/child?

        • Do you want your relationships to be more satisfying and happier?

        • Are you willing to make changes that will make your relationships stronger and healthier?


      Rewiring Your Brain

      Important Brain Connections and the Science Behind Our Emotions:

      Prefrontal Cortex (PFC), reward center (VTA, striatum, nucleus accumbens) & hippocampus

      • An interaction occurs, evokes pleasure (dopamin-ergic) response.

      • When attended to (i.e., savored), the memory is encoded in hippocampus in “positive” gift wrap.

      • When recalled the memory re-evokes the positive memory

      • When done so repeatedly it strengthens this network and facilitates evoking happiness

      Rewiring Your Brain Homework:

          • Positivity dinner (gratitude, compliments, affection and conversation with curiosity)

          • Savoring – Strengthening the neural connection between the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and reward centers (striatum, nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area (VTA)).

        The increase of positive emotion, i.e., generating, prolonging and intensifying enjoyment of pleasant experiences or situations like joy, happiness, pride, calmness, good fortune, by intentionally focusing on them.

        Three time frames in which to savor:

            • Savoring through anticipation (future-focused) “I’m so excited to see everyone at the party later. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks.”

            • Savoring the moment (present-focused) “ I love being here with my family and friends and enjoying these moments.”

            • Savoring through reminiscing (past-focused) “Today was wonderful and felt so nice to be surrounded with people I love”.


          Recommended Reading:















          Approach Motivation

          Motivation energizes behavior and change by directing toward desirable activities, processes, and outcomes– i.e., a more beneficial goal. It encourages new behavior by focusing attention on rewardingoutcomes of this new approach, rather than focusing on avoiding or minimizing the negativeaspects of the existing situation. It promotes DOING something, rather than STOPPING something.



          Wife:  I can’t believe how inconsiderate you were when we were out with my parents tonight?

          Husband: When she talks to me like that it makes me want to ignore her and get away from her.

          PAUSE and THINK: If your wife would like to engage you in a constructive conversation about dinner, how could she communicate with you in a way that would not only be more likely to get through to you, but that you would find pleasant and engaging?

          Could you look kindly at her and express that idea to her right now in a way that you believe she would find pleasant and inviting?” Go ahead and try it.


          The focus is on the relationship patterns not the individual:

              • Focus is on problem resolution not on determining who/what is the problem (How does your anger show?)

              • Time frame is more present and future focused than past.

              • Relational skill-building, emphasizing conflict management and deep conversations (vulnerability compassion). Consider what can each partner do to elicit desired behavior from the other partner. Pause and Think-What would you prefer? And what can you do to make it more likely to happen?


            Conflict Management: Stop the Bickering

            Some questions you can ask to interrupt the arguing:

            What emotions am I feeling? How can I label and express them in an OK way.

            Is this in line with our goals?

            Does this help us get more connected?

            “Just think! You have choices right now. Please try to reflect on and consider your options here– you can either continue with raised voices, not paying attention to what the other is saying, and readying your next comment, or you can put your relationship ahead of your individual need to prevail right now, and choose to think more deeply about what you can do to discover some common ground amidst what you’re fighting about. Then you can consider whether a compromise could work.”

            “Please think about which would make you happier right now; which would make your partner happier; which would make your relationship stronger. Which choice is more consistent with both your goals- you love each other deeply and are willing to work hard to change your reactions to make your relationship healthier.” -Dr. Rick Weinberg


            Vulnerability and Compassion Increase Trust and Intimacy

            When individuals are vulnerable with each other we can have understanding and compassion for others’ choices and behavior. With more compassion comes a safe environment to be more vulnerable.  Vulnerability and compassion have a wonderful and cyclical relationship which lead to more trust and intimacy within a relationship.


            Some Positivity-Based Homework Assignments to Increase Intimacy

                • Daily walks with no sarcasm, criticism, blaming, complaining, or any negativity                                whatsoever.

                • Nightly dinners, again carefully guarding against any negativity.

                • Date night (when you were dating what were some of your favorite activities?)

                • Bike ride around neighborhood together noticing pretty landscaping or wildlife.

                • Watching TV together after dinner, sitting on the couch holding hands or snuggling.

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