Ask Dr. Amy features listener questions and a special topic on each episode.
Ask Dr. Amy features listener questions and a special topic on each episode.

The second Ask Dr. Amy Show will be on the air at the Romance Broadcasting Network in the very near future. I taped two of the show segments in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, thanks to the exceptional sound engineering and directing expertise of Bill Mills – the show’s engineer and voice talent extraordinaire (see the link for his hilarious Facebook “Timeline” parody). And then Jean Marie Stine (RBN owner and producer, and publisher at Renaissance eBooks) and I recorded the final segment just a few days ago in Berkeley, as Bill looked on via Skype.

Can I say how much I adore working with these two people? I enjoy every encounter! My life is immeasurably enriched as a result!

The Ask Dr. Amy Show airs now six times a day, AM and PM, at 8:30, 12:30, & 4:30. Check out some of the other great programs too! You’ll hear some great romantic and erotic stories, interviews with authors, and more!

There were two excellent questions to answer – but I won’t give the show away by telling you what they were. However, listeners can find the instructions here for the Emotional Limbic Release exercise that I demonstrated on the air. I learned this valuable exercise in 2006 from the folks who run The Couple’s Institute in Palo Alto. I was attending a conference in San Francisco and took their workshop. Boy, was I glad I did! I’ve shared this exercise with most of my clients ever since! So, I’ve adapted their instructions here, but want to give them full credit for this very helpful stress-busting tool!

A “Mind-Body” Exercise to Clear Emotional Pain from the Limbic System

This exercise can be used to clear some of the historical emotional pain stored in your limbic system, the part of your brain which is the seat of your emotions. This pain is often triggered in a fight or disagreement with your partner. When this happens, you may feel like your “buttons have been pushed” and you may react in ways which seem almost automatic to you. This also triggers pain for your partner, which then becomes stored in your partner’s limbic system. These feelings become deep neurological memories, and become part of the downward spiral that happens so often in human relationships. “Round and round you go” – on a seemingly endless merry-go-round of conflict. However, this simple exercise can help you overcome the historical pain of long ago incidents, and also become part of your repertoire of communication and self-care tools.

Use this technique before you have a heavy discussion with your partner (or anyone, for that matter!) and your real-life conversation will be much less emotionally difficult and more productive of mutual understanding. If you both use this technique prior to and after conflict, that’s even better. If you’ve been having sexual problems, you should do this exercise (and your partner should do it) before you embark on an intimate encounter.

1) Think of a situation where you felt misunderstood, criticized, hurt, discounted, rejected, injured, or embarrassed by someone. Feel the tension in your body.

2) Give your distress a number from 1 – 10, with 10 being the highest distress.

3) Take a deep, relaxing breath. Stretch your arms and legs.

4) Begin to tap both your knees with your thumb or index finger while doing the following steps. Keep tapping throughout the exercise.

5) Imagine beginning to speak with that person who upset you, in that distressing situation. In this silent, imagined dialogue, you can tell, ask, demand, or request anything you want from the offender without fear of negative consequences. You are totally safe and free to express yourself. In this exercise, nothing bad or negative can result from your unfettered, forthright expression.

6) Now imagine the other person responding in an open, vulnerable and receptive way- even if he or she would never act this way in real life. Imagine this person responding to you in a sensitive and exposed manner. He or she “gets it.”

7) Reply back any way you wish. You can still be angry, hurt, frustrated. Say what you need to say (and remember to keep tapping.) Now, imagine the person responding again, still open and receptive to your feelings and concerns. Continue this dialogue until you feel satisfied.

8) Take another relaxing breath. Stretch your arms and legs.

9) Contrast how you feel now with how you felt at the beginning of the exercise. How do you rank your distress level now?

This process not only provides immediate relief, it also reduces the frequency or intensity of getting triggered in the future. It is a good way to strengthen yourself, as well as your relationships. You will find yourself having more confidence and calmness in future difficult situations.