- The difference between spirit-led v ego-led relationships
- How can someone who may feel that they are “not enough” in a relationship, view themselves in a non-judgmental way.
- How to determine which way to go to have the best possible relationship
[This article was co-written with my colleague & friend, Julie Michaels]
I want to ask you to stop reading this for a moment, and just sit, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and see if you can remember a time in your life where you felt deeply, truly, unambiguously loved. See the person/people involved, where you were, what was happening, the sounds…feel that feeling of being loved throughout your body, noticing where in your body you most feel it. Stop reading this now and go do that. Come back and finish this article after you’ve done that.
Now, as you come back, still staying connected as best you can be with all those bodily sensations, I’d like you to ask yourself, “How often do I feel this way when I tell my partner, spouse, child, or friend that I love them?” How often are you really authentically feeling what you say when you utter “I love you” to someone dear? Now, ask yourself (and be brutally honest), “Do I feel this in my relationship with my partner more often than not?” Ask yourself, “Do I feel it with myself more often than not?”
Ideally, the answers to those two questions are “yes.” Yet, escalating divorce rates and rising levels of significant behavioral and learning issues with children would seem to indicate that that ideal is not the direction that things are going in with many many people. Our work with couples is bearing this out, as well. So, what’s the problem, really?
A key difficulty is that many of you aren’t really clear on how you truly feel/experience love and being loved. From what we’ve heard from all the couples we’ve worked with over the years, many are also suffering under the notion that how it felt in the beginning of a relationship is exactly how it still ought to be feeling now that the “honeymoon” has worn off. Another big issue is that you’re not likely stopping to newly and periodically think about the idea that the way you specifically feel love and loved is DIFFERENT from what makes anyone else feel loved, including the love partner you may have in your life…contrary to what Hollywood and Hallmark wants you to believe.
Now, imagine what could happen if you KNEW what YOUR way is, in such a way that you could communicate it to your partner they’d really get it (and, vice-versa). And, what if that communication came more from your heart (which, by the way, has more neurological connections than there are in your brain) than your mind? Here’s a way to look at it.
If you have a smartphone of some kind or a tablet, like an iPad, you probably know that what makes them run, just like our computers, is an Operating System. If you’re an Apple fan like us, then you know your iPhone and/or iPad runs on the MacOS (or Mac operating system). Did you know that you have your own unique Love Operating System (LoveOS), and that it’s one of three key foundations of great relating with anyone? That LoveOS is based on a combination of your neurological experiences that have been coded internally, and a lifetime of emotional (and even ancestral) history that tells you when you feel really loved. If you don’t know what our Love OS is, you can spend a lot of the time fumbling around haphazardly trying to get your love quota filled (giving and receiving) and wonder why you’re usually not satisfied, want more and more from your relationships, and are wondering “Is this as good as it gets?”
Two of the other key bedrocks of great relating are being masterful at communicating, and having values (especially relationship values) that are aligned with the values of whoever you’re in any kind of relationship with. If those two aren’t strong, and you’re not clear on what both of your LoveOS’ are, that relationship keeps living as a discrepancy that easily can make you feel that your love for each other is diminishing…which may not really be true. Besides learning how to communicate better (which allows you to even look at how aligned your values are with each other’s or not), you also need to resolve to evolve in your relationships. Wondering what that means?
It means learning – newly – what love means to you, how you feel it the most, and helping your partner know what that is. It means doing the same with them. It means experimenting with doing what works for the other person, even if it’s different from what you like, in the spirit of learning a new language. It means COMMUNICATING, even when it’s challenging to do so. Mature human love evolves from puppy love, to crushes, to falling in love, to deep attraction, and deeper intimacy that continues to grow if you nurture it. Love is an experience and feeling to be tendered and fed…which we easily forget to do in our day-to-day lives. Knowing YOUR LoveOS, and your partner’s (or potential partner’s), makes all the difference in the world. If you can combine that with values that align with each other, you CAN create a rock-solid, long-lasting relationship like the one we both have been enjoying with our partners for years.
So, today, begin to look at “How do I know when I’m loved?” Begin to be familiar with what you feel AS Love. Find out what your Values are in life and love, so you can freshly re-align with those you’re in relationships with in a more harmonious way. There will always be challenges in men and women living and loving together – we have different styles, we have different brains and processing – but when you match someone’s LoveOS, you can hit that sweet spot inside them that says… “Aaahhh” and light them up. Even more importantly, if you’ll commit to consistently feeding Love within you (rather than fitting it in when your busy schedule allows), in your partnerships, and in your relationship with your Spirit and whatever the Divine means to you, then you will not be asking “Is this it?” as much.
You get what you look for, not necessarily what you want. It’s how the filters inside your brain work and how the law of attraction fulfills. Love is everywhere – where are you looking? Where are you being responsible for the Love in your life and how it shows up? Einstein pointed out that we can’t change or fix a problem using the same mind and same elements that created the problem in the first place. So, I invite you to learn what your Love Operating system is, first and foremost. Learn what the other’s is. And be sure to include your Spirit, and your connection to the Divine, in this exploration. Do that, and your life will shift.
If you’d like more information on how to determine your LoveOS, and how to work with it in your partnerships, you can get more info by clicking here.
Can success really just be a function of The K.I.S.S. Principle (Keep It Simple Stupid, for those under 40 who may confuse it with the band)?
Success, and happiness…those two things have been on my mind for most of my adult life (and my childhood, for that matter), whichhas been the problem. They haven’t been in my heart enough.
The mass definition of success seems to have morphed into an obsessive-compulsive focus on getting more, getting bigger, getting better. “Less Is More” has become disturbingly out of fashion.
When someone asks you, “How do you define success?” are your default answers mostly professionally and financially oriented? It’s rare that the “go-to” is Spiritually or personally oriented (unless I’m talking to a devout Buddhist). Identifying yourself as bank balances and a lifestyle seems to have gone alarmingly from being a guy thing to a human thing.
Now, if I had THE answer, I’d gladly provide it. But, like most people I know, I’m feverishly exploring the questions that might best lead me (and my clients) to the inner answers that can point us all towards the wisest direction for our Spirits. What I CAN say is that it’s abundantly clear a big part of any elevated-consciousness definition of success HAS to center on the overall way life is experienced below the neck. We need to shift from Deifying the ego and the mind, and find our way back to Deifying Love.
Sounds easy, right?
After 16 years in the corporate world, my body, heart, and life all felt mostly dead and flat while my income went up. When I finally started giving my true and enlivening gifts of healing, I came alive again. Somewhere along the line, though, even THAT got co-opted by an unconscious, automatic view of success that was inextricably linked to survival…not literally surviving, but surviving in a lifestyle that allowed me to THINK I was a success instead of feeling successful.
The more money I made, the more stressed I got, followed by incessant worrying about keeping that “success.” When I realized that being financially successful could feel identical to being financially unsuccessful, it became clear that a new paradigm of success was going to be needed for me, and the Planet.
So far, near as I can tell, the key to that new paradigm…one that’s sustainable for us and all species…has to rest in, be sourced by, and devoted to love and loving. Our worthy suffering (and, boy, are people suffering in ways, and at levels, that seem unprecedented to me) is based on our no longer being able to deny how we’re disconnected from – and even fending off – the love that is right there for all of us, if we’d only kick the addiction to busy-ness, speed, and GETTING.
It’s time to shift from defining success as a life style, and re-learn how to have and BE a life – like I imaging people did before technology came along – through authentic connecting and relating.
Where to start?
Here’s a success tip for you: start each day, no matter what, getting your keister on the Earth…in your back yard, at a park, on a beach…go to the Earth before your laptop, iPad, iPhone, or CrackBerry. Feel your own heart…and start asking it, daily, what IT needs. Try focusing on really feeling your connection to those you love…you’ll immediately start feeling successful. If you don’t know how to focus on your heart and your feelings…again, get on the Earth, close your eyes, and focus on breathing…if that doesn’t work, give me a call. If it does, then listen to what your heart’s trying to tell you about what success can really look like for you.
These are the last words you’ll ever read from me.
Are they really?
I hope not.
However, that’s one of the fears that came into my mind when my heart told me I needed to write this particular article today. In the past, that fear would have been enough to stop me from writing it, and doing an article that was going to be “safer,” or one I would presume/assume you’d like better. Now, it simply can’t stop me, whether I wish it would or not. So, buckle in…this is going to be a longer article than most, but I believe taking the time to read the whole thing will serve you.
It’s time for me – and I’d suggest for ALL of us – to really get naked (not literally, except with a willing partner, of course). This is not a retro throwback to free love I’m advocating. What I’m doing today is I’m getting emotionally, mentally, and Spiritually naked. If it ends up having you not want to read this eZine anymore, that’s a risk I’m willing to take, because I feel and believe it to be so important for all of us – in some way or another – to get naked in the way I’m about to.
First, though, a little background. When I was first coaching back in 1995, the prevailing wisdom was that you never told your clients anything personal about yourself, and you didn’t reveal any of your own neurosis (at least not blatantly), because you needed to be an expert and authority on whatever you were coaching about and give the impression that you had your s**t together. After all, who would want to get coached by someone who didn’t have aforementioned guano together? Yet, over time, I’ve come to realize two things: 1) most people are dramatically suffering because of thinking and believing that in their daily lives, no matter what they do for a living; and 2) doing that “looking good and together” thing is one of the things causing so much physical, emotional, Spiritual, and environmental damage.
So, if I’m really an authority or expert on how to live and have an authentic, rich, and Spiritually led/driven relationship and life…I better not have all my s**t together, because having that kind of life means having a relationship with your baggage and wounds that takes it all out of the closet and acknowledges that they’re a part of you worth loving, honoring, and appreciating (while not letting them run your life). They’re not parts of you to kill off. And…I better be willing to be totally real and authentic, or I’m a friggin’ hypocrite. So, it’s time to come clean.
If you’re a regular reader, then you’ve seen me write in the past about some of the intricacies of navigating the terrains of your ego-mind (what I call the grandiose part of our ego that’s committed to controlling our lives, your Spirit (your heart and emotional body, if you don’t like the word Spirit), and whatever you may hold as a Higher Power or Consciousness in your life. For the last several months (most of my life, actually, but I’ve only just recently really seen it clearly), I’ve been living a war. It’s a war that all of you are living, one way or another, whether you realize it or not. One of my mentors calls it “The War Within.” It’s the war between my ego-mind, and all its innumerable distortions, and my heart/Spirit that is the clearest, most pure part of me and everyone else (in my opinion). How do you tell the difference between the two? I’ll get really transparent here about how I do, by sharing what each of mine look like.
My heart and Spirit, from the time I was a little boy, has never been anything but joyous, deep, compassionate, extremely tolerant, very empathetic (and empathic), generous, wise, playful, trusting, deeply rooted in the certainty of just about anything being possible, and love personified. That heart, as a child, sat in the body of a boy born with a cleft palate, and hare lip, who – literally – from the first day of Nursery School (yes, I’m that old) until about mid-way through my sophomore year of high school, was in some way ridiculed, teased, rejected, humiliated, and excluded. That was just at school. That was where I got to get away from a broken home with a clinically depressed, alcoholic mother (if not bi-polar), a biological father who literally abandoned me at age five never to be seen again, and – for a few years – a step-father who was an abusive drunk that terrified me (now 40 years sober and one of the loves of my life). I know I’m far from being the only person with painful, traumatic stories…but, I want you to understand that your versions of this kind of hurt, confusion, betrayal, feeling invisible…you name it…they’ve all had some kind of effect on building the constructs of your ego-mind that war with your heart/Spirit on a daily basis. They’ve all been a part of building the debilitating beliefs that you plague and sabotage you right and left…the ego-mind’s favorite tools, you could say.
As all that horrible and painful stuff was happening to me, I grew to become someone who felt horrified to ever have to speak, period…not just in front of people, but I’d get self-conscious about speaking, at all, with anyone other than my family. I had few friends all the way through high school, I tended to be housebound a lot to take care of my Mom when she couldn’t hack life (which was often), and I had no Dad from 6 to 16 that could help me get what it was about to be a boy (and, someday, a man). My need to act like an adult by age 6, combined with all the loneliness and isolation that I thought at the time was my best protection against pain left me feeling ugly, unwanted, unappealing, and that I couldn’t count on anyone or anything other than myself…period. But, I didn’t want anyone seeing any of that.
I covered all that (the beliefs, the feelings) up by being a fabulously co-dependent and seemingly indispensable caretaker of countless people (mostly in my family, originally); cheerleader for everyone other than myself; workaholic; over-achieving, make-it-all-look-good upper management corporate slave; and over-eating, 275-pound walking dead person with the great family, income, and house with two cars and two dogs. Then – as now, lately – my ego-mind would keep feeding me a steady diet of shame, doubt, fear, constant reminders of “nobody can be trusted,” endless worry about how things were going to turn out (especially financially), and rarely letting love in…from myself and those who loved me that I couldn’t believe really could. When I was drinking that Kool-Aid, I never really felt like ME.
I started healing all that, shifted my career from corporate zombiehood to life coach, then relationship coach…and I found a Spiritual Path that really worked for me. But, here’s the thing I really couldn’t grasp. Unlike a lot of people that I feel go onto some kind of Spiritual Path to try to bypass their pain and wounds into some Nirvanic constant feel-good, my path has actually required me to get that being connected with my Spirit requires me to also not shirk, run from, or deny all my remaining layers of current and old pain, my frailties, my fears…in fact, damn it, it requires me to love all those parts and aspects, along with the true nature of my loving, compassionate heart that I’ve been blessed to help so many others do.
But now, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. There are so many planetary, economic, metaphysical, and socio-cultural shifts happening around the world – at a pace more rapid than I’ve ever seen in my 54 years – and people (including me) are fundamentally scared s**tless, and the fear’s only getting intensified by the very distractive way of coping with it that helps create it in the first place! You may not be admitting it, or maybe even aware of it. But, I’m seeing it all around me in the way that people are struggling to hang on to material things and lifestyles that they don’t even see are keeping them more and more disconnected from themselves, from love, and from their loved ones. Making money has become more important than love. We are deifying our ego-minds, and achievements…not that achievement’s bad…but being deified above heart and Spiritual Alignment…that’ll kill ya.
So, I wanted to come clean that I’m scared too. My ego-mind for the last couple of months (not-so-coincidentally, by the way, right as I made an even more serious commitment to living a life dedicated to bringing love to as many as I can reach) has had me waking up many mornings feeling low-to-enormous levels of anxiety and fear, pre-occupation with trying to control my future (particularly with my business) and being scared to death when it seems I can’t, fearing that people are finally going to realize I don’t know a damn thing (even in the face of years of successfully helping clients get themselves truly back to themselves), and being absolutely convinced that I’m only days away from living under an overpass somewhere, even when I’m nowhere near that.
You see, your ego-mind, and mine, tells bald-faced lies, all rooted in an inaccurate sense of self-insufficiency, that defy what’s actually true (or even could be), and continually strives to keep you feeling out of control and in a sense of constant threat of some kind. That way, you’ll work harder to try to control it all, you’ll DO more, and you’ll deify DO-ing and getting – over BE-ing and allowing your Spirit (and the Divine, if you believe in such a consciousness) to guide and get you through everything – good, bad, and ugly – with flying colors.
I KNOW I’m not alone in all this. How I’ve been “fighting the War” lately, to get back to returning to my connection to who I REALLY am and have always been, has been by: 1) letting go of my attachment to not feeling pain; 2) ceasing hiding this part of myself from those I love and trust (including all of you); 3) finding and constantly doing the Spiritual practices (or for the athiests and agnostics out there, practices that connect you with love) that I KNOW work, but my mind tells me I don’t need to do; 4) getting coached from those who’ve lived this War Within longer than I consciously have; 5) building a personal team of trusted loved ones around me that I can vent to who won’t tell me what I want to hear, but what I need to hear; and 6) remembering that my (and, I assert, everyone’s) life mission isn’t much about what I do for a living, but how I will live as an Emissary of Love, no matter WHAT I’m doing…and no matter WHAT.
“You’re not here to get; you’re here to LET…” – Rev. Michael Beckwith
When it comes to both life and relationship happiness, I’ve come to see that one of the greatest sources of what I would deem unnecessary suffering is how focused so many of us are on getting. That’s not an unconsciously incomplete sentence…”getting” is deliberately being used as a verb, because – in so many ways – most of what you DO each day, whether conscious or not, is about getting, isn’t it? Aren’t a lot of your days (one way or the other) about getting ahead, getting caught up, getting the right love partner, getting the right job, getting enough money to not have to worry about survival, getting happier, getting more sex, getting thinner, getting numb, ad nauseum?
The rest of what Rev. Beckwith says in the above quote is that what we’re here to LET is our Soul…that we’re here to let our Soul, and its purpose, emerge. I add to that that it has to follow its natural trajectory of expansion, which happens when it gets as fully expressed internally and externally – as often as possible. More than contemplating your navel and dreaming of Porsches appearing at your curb like The Secret film said you could, this path being deliberately pursued with commitment is much more likely to bring you what you really wish for in your life and in your relationships.
So, easy for me to say, but what makes it so challenging to be on a regular basis? Your relationship to F.E.A.R., the most insidious alphabet soup that you swim in so much of the time, whether you know it or not. F.E.A.R. tweaks everything…how you talk, how you listen, how you choose, how you decide what to choose, and how much of your time you’ll spend trying to get instead of letting your Spirit run, guide, and infuse the show.
There are two versions of this acronym I like a lot that really speak to the point of this article: False Energies Appearing Real and Forgetting That Everything’s All Right. When you’re afraid, your mind desperately wants to get rid of that fear, even though it’s the mind that usually creates that fear. Our lizard brain is so hard-wired to look for the next threat, that it doesn’t really know what to do with itself when things are going well for too long. Then, it wants to create and exert control.
One of the best strategies for which (to the ego-mind) is to try to predict the future and then have you believe you can and MUST make it happen. When you get sucked into that rabbit hole, you are working harder, more focused on whatever it is (including an inner state) that you’re trying to GET to/acquire, your level of presence goes to hell, and you forget that everything just may actually be more than alright. Then, the false energies appearing real kind of thoughts that are telling you “Things are good now, but what happens when…?” ignite even more of the forgetting that everything’s alright kind of thoughts, and off you go into trying to make them all right. See what an exhausting cycle that is? So, what to do instead?
You need to re-connect with what it is you’re here to LET out, to LET emerge. What are the qualities of your essence and core truths that, when not lived and expressed, make you even more miserable than not getting all the other stuff you’re trying and working so hard to get (or NOT get)? What are the aspects of you that are alive and dynamic whether you’ve got money or not? Whether you have enough stuff or not? Make a list of them. For example, for me, my compassion is first and foremost on that list. That is such an integral part of my Soul’s nature that to not be connected to it and give it freely, no matter what, is painful for me. It also makes me feel miserable, particularly when I’m denying myself that compassion (sound familiar?).
Then, once you have the list, see where/how your pursuit of getting is blocking the qualities on your list getting let out. Once you start looking at things that way, you allow your heart a pathway into a different kind of collaboration with your mind…one that can evolve into a partnership, rather than a competition. Pick one thing on your list each day that, before you make your mundane To-Do list (that you never seem to have time to get done anyway) you’ll take on bringing committed focus to letting out. If you don’t know how to do that, then focus on paying attention to where you’re going to do something or prioritize something that’s going to prevent the letting…then, make a different choice.
What do you have to lose that you’re not already losing by focusing on F.E.A.R. and getting?
CAUTION: If you happen to be someone who doesn’t have ANY kind of Spiritual path/philosophy you care about (or don’t believe YOU have a Spirit that guides you in any way), please don’t read any further. Doing so will either confuse you and/or piss you off.
It can’t be a secret to you how volatile life seems to be feeling these days. You’re probably used to gauging how “good” things are by looking at your economic picture first, if you’re like most people I know. If your money’s good, then everything else can be “taken care of.” Yet, there was an article in the Huffington Post recently that spoke of the rising suicide rates in Europe, as they are going through their version of what we’ve been in the midst of for the last several years. Reading it horrified and saddened me, because it made it all the more clear how much we’ve come to see our value, our identity, our worth, and our reason for living to be so fundamentally tied to whether or not we’re ok financially.
I’m not disputing that financial well-being is good; but, as a meaning for life and a main criteria for whether you want to hang around on the planet!?
There’s also the volatility around social change, both in our country and around the world…and it’s only accelerating (much like life, and time, in general). Haven’t you noticed how, in the midst of all the various political hot potatoes happening now, civility, compassion, and respect seem to have gone right out the window? Whether or not you happen to be someone who believes in global warming, there’s no disputing that Mother Earth seems more than a little pissed off, or at least has a lot of heartburn going on.
This all seems to be coupled with levels of personal turmoil, drama, and upheaval I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in the 16 years I’ve been working with people.
So, in the midst of that, how do you possibly stay happy?
At the risk of sounding like a cross between a bad Lifetime Network movie of the week and Scrooge, I believe that the beginning steps are 1) let go of having your life be about being happy all the time (more on that shortly); 2) have love be THE focus of your life; and 3) do everything you can to cultivate mastering being present.
One of the most disturbing and upsetting things I ever heard was when a noted Spiritual Teacher said to an audience years ago that “The secret of having the happiest life is to realize you’re not here to be happy…you’re here to evolve…to have your Soul evolve.” Well, no one was particularly pleased to hear that (certainly not me), and it took me years to finally “get it.” If you can realize you’re here to go through the whole spectrum of experiences (including pain & dissatisfaction), you can stop chasing the 24/7 dream you may say out loud you KNOW isn’t possible, but inside keep wishing/dreaming that you could have someday, if you just figure out the formula. Your ego will likely say, “Hell no!” Your Spirit knows better.
No matter what’s going on in your life – good or bad, happy or sad – love is the only thing, I believe, that will get you – and humanity – through what you’re in the midst of. If you look into so many faces, for example, in New Delhi…a city with massive levels of poverty and squalor…you can see peacefulness and serenity in their eyes, even as they may be sitting in their own waste. In our culture, we seem to need a major disaster to happen to tap into a sense of universal love that inspires us to selfless action.
If you want to be “happy,” you must make it the number one priority of your life to live Love in every waking moment possible. It must start with you, and how you treat yourself, your body, and others in your life. I know…basic stuff, right? But, our current global situation makes it pretty damn clear we’re not handling the basics. If you’re struggling with loving yourself, one rapid way to get to a loving feeling is to love on someone else selflessly. Be of service. Go serve meals in a homeless shelter, and see if you can see Spirit in the eyes of those you’re serving who have nothing left but life itself. It may not make you instantly gratified, but it will bring you and Love into quick communion.
Lastly, do you have any idea how present you are? If you need a long time to answer that question, chances are pretty high that the answer for you is “not very.” Take a moment right now to stop reading this article, and just close your eyes, feel the soles of your feet, and scan how your body literally feels (that is, what are the sensations) right now. Notice how your heart feels, emotionally. If you would do that once an hour, every day…your life would be radically different…and happier. Would you always feel happy? No. But, would you be feeling…at least for that one hourly interlude? You bet. And, love, awareness, and presence all start not in the mind (contrary to what your ego wants you to believe) but in the body.
My Teacher recently equated the struggle that we face individually, and as a Species, as if it’s a battle between the Soul (our own, the Soul of the Earth Herself, and the unified oneness of all beings) and ego for supremacy. If you were to look at Love as one of the purest forms of Light, the more love you allow in and emanate, the more your ego goes into conniptions. Look at it like putting a steak on the grill, and the steak gets grilled and cooked by the Light. If you’re not happy in your life, I suggest that you see if you’d be willing to let your ego identity be put on the grill to be cooked not out of existence, but transformed into the finest quality piece of digestible, loving Essence that forms the focus of all you do and all you be. I know for me…I’m taking my steak well done, thanks. Is it going to be easy or fun all the time? No. But, you don’t have to look very far around you to see how poorly the alternative’s working.
To provide the best practices for living in loving intimacy with partners, From Fizzle to Sizzle is that kind of eye-opening, spectacular experience that offers YOU offer practical, hands-on tools and strategies for relationship repair and reconnection. Enroll here now!
4 Core Values That Foster Good Relationships
In our personal and professional relationships, a set of basic core values serves to guide our relationships, whether parenting, partners, or friends. In the world of relationships, these four values are words of action, not just a mental representation of some nice thing. Since values are abstract to many people, here is the way adults in relationships can make values work with your friends, children, colleagues or lovers. See these values as sequenced strategies to repairing relationships.
Connection – to be linked or bonded to another person or people.
When a child is born, the bonding process involves touch, empathy and positive regard. Empathy is established through eye contact with the baby, which programs the brain to recognize, connect, and feel the parent or caregiver. Empathy and positive regard for the child are also connected through conversation, cuddling, holding, movement (walking and rocking). When a parent treat and speaks to the babe or toddler with kindness, softness, love, tenderness, the child feels valued and develops an emotional foundation for feeling safe, cherished, respected, cared for. Our bodies grow and change, and out human needs for attachment to a loving person and bonding to establish feelings of connection do not change.
Think of the most horrible anguish a child can experience: feeling abandoned, feeling tiny and disrespected through being yelled at, treated like an object, dismissed, hit, screamed at, and threatened. These are emotional memories in the making that will hijack this child as an adult.
Do you think adults feel any different? Each person’s core needs are to be met, and when not met, the pattern for emotional abandonment is triggered. You are hardwired for relationships and feeling connected is a priority for communication and commitment.
Question for Your Review: HOW do you feel connected to those most important relations?
Communication – as a value, communication is more than sending a message or conversing. As a value, this means to be in rapport with someone is to be aligned.
Being aligned in the gut with each other helps you feel safe. Being aligned in the heart with each other helps you feel loved or valued. Being aligned in the head with each other implies no judgment, acceptance and the ability to share, argue, debate, and plan without taking it personally.
To be in rapport means you
- Can disagree without being disagreeable,
- Make an effort to control your emotional hijacking and not dump on another,
- Can move away from the need to be right and shift to listening, being open or reflective
- Can be objective, even while being emotional.
Question for Your Review: HOW high do you rank communication as a core value in your relationships? We suggest you make it number 1 on your values list for one month and cultivate this quality within yourself. See how your relations improve.
Courage – to be brave – to have guts, audacity, valor, going forth or moving ahead despite fear
We believe that relationships absolutely requires guts, especially for you types that love harmony, peace, and not making waves, or you who love to escape pressures of modern relationships. Others need courage to face the world, step into and participate actively in their relationships. And others can be fearless, so you might not believe that you need courage. You might be right in that your achievements speak to bravery, but do you need more courage to be sensitive in your relationships, where you dismiss sensitivity and feelings.
Even if you feel like a total wimp, frightened or like a doormat, list courage as a value. Each morning, repeat your mantra of courage in action.
- I am courage in action.
- I have courage to face…
- I see courage in my eyes.
- My act of courage to day will be…
Question for your review – How are you courageous in facing your fears and moving through any emotional hijacking situations?
Commitment – to pledge or promise to follow through, accepting a responsibility
Some people might take commitment more lightly than their partner or child would like. That is because you might make promises that you can’t keep in a reasonable length if time. Some people get caught up in their actions and visions and planning. Others get overwhelmed and put promises on the backburner. While others shift priorities like the wind and may even forget if you are out of their sight and out of mind.
This happens because all of you have good intentions. You make commitments fully intending to keep them, but…life happens. Those to whom you commit can only assume you have forgotten unless you take some sort of action like communicate, make an action plan or settle on a date for delivery.
When you forget the promise, the person in relation to you can feel disrespected and devalued. If that is not the result that you want in your relationships, then add a timeline to the commitment that you make.
Responsibility, then, is the twin to Commitment and means that you can be counted on, depended upon to follow through, complete the task or commitment, and be accountable for doing so.
Assessment of these core 4 values in your relationships provides a compass for you to be authentic and aware enough to fully enjoy and be fulfilled.
The phrase “What were the odds?” often gets used in conjunction with some disaster or catastrophe. However, it’s a perfect phrase to describe how I feel on this very momentous day in my life.
Today is a VERY important anniversary in my life, and there are some anniversaries that really deserve to be touted and celebrated, so that their meaning can be re-ignited and continually be a source of honoring what really matters. Today is the 30th anniversary of my Beloved Sarah and I becoming a couple. Jeez…30 years! It’s unbelievable to me (and to us) that that many years have gone by. Of course, it’s equally a trip to me to see how utterly fabulous and young we looked in the pic to the left, which was taken a couple months after we became a couple (and how I looked when I had hair)!
This eZine is all about love, Spirit, and relationships, not always necessarily in that order, so I’m banking on the fact that you’ll find it useful to you to know a bit about why this anniversary is so special (besides longevity) and what it may have to offer you with your relationship(s).
“What were the odds?” comes into play here, because when Sarah and I look back on these past 30 years, that question is one of the primary things we both think of. What were the odds that we’d even meet? Pretty slim if you knew the circumstances of our lives at the time. What were the odds we’d evenlike each other, because we were SO different then and wanting very different things? In fact, my late mother (who actually introduced Sarah and I), when I first confessed to her my romantic interest in Sarah, told me, “Don’t even think about it…she’ll NEVER go out with you.” (Note to you if you’re a Mom…you probably don’t ever want to tell a son that about a woman…just about guaranteed to drive him even farther towards her). What were the odds really going to be that we’d fall in love with each other when she was newly divorced, I was much younger than Sarah, and I was just starting in a relationship with another woman? What were the odds that a just-out-of-college 24-year-old was going to fall so madly in love with a woman who had a 9-year old kid who was likely to hate ANY guy coming into his Mom’s life (and did for a few years)?
When it comes to love, the cool thing is that odds can often NOT tell the real story or the truest potential. All I knew, when I really started to get to know this internally and externally gorgeous woman, was that I’d finally met someone that could fit the bill of what I KNEW I wanted in a Partner, the most important qualities of which were integrity and trustworthiness. There was never a doubt in my mind that I could trust Sarah, and that has been more than borne out over these last 30 years.
I recently shared with a friend, who was asking me how I most easily connect to the energy of Spirit, or the Divine. It was a no-brainer to give the answer that immediately came to my heart: I look in Sarah’s eyes. When she’s connected to her love for me, and if I’m smart enough to pay attention, I can look in her eyes and see Spirit gazing at me intently with the most unconditional love I’ve ever experienced. I can barely breathe when she looks at me that way…then, I get to deal with the errant part of my mind that still, after all these years, is simply agog at how much love is coming my way. The fact that that’s been true even in the midst of some of our more trying – or just plain s**tty – times is a Spirit-gifted affirmation, to me, of the true power and potential of love.
It isn’t lost on either of us that we’re one of the few couples either of us know who’ve been together more than 10 years who still truly love each other, like each other, and truly look forward to getting to wake up to the other each day.
I feel blessed by that (and, yes, we’ve worked hard at it), but also quite sad that there aren’t more like us that we know. I’m not saying there aren’t…but, in our sphere of influence, we just don’t see them. When I share that, people ask me, “Well, what’s your secret?” While a great question, I have to confess I think it’s Spirit’s secret that we’ve been blessed to be channels for, in a way. But, there are a few things that I’m happy to share that I think is part of what’s allowed us to last this long, with this much love still GROWING (it doesn’t stay static)…I’ll offer them as a sort of a recipe:
- Allow yourself to be guided to great starting material; in other words, be sure you do what I did: find one of the most lovely, heartful, caring, and loving people you’ve ever met. If they’re caring towards life, themselves, and others, they’re likely to be that way with you.
- Have the good sense to take the time to really get to know each other (out of bed is almost more important at that early stage). I knew within two dates that I was seriously falling for Sarah, but we took the time to really get to know each other before we started really acknowledging that we were a committed partnership (we finally got married 3 years after that).
- Add in a boatload of caring conversation…almost be more interested in your partner than you are in yourself (I said “almost”…you have to tend your own garden first, no matter what…but, you have to genuinely be interested in, and committed to, the other person’s potential being fully realized).
- Stir in a few hundred cups of patience, understanding, and respect…without those, the relationship’s doomed. Part of this is remembering that, if you’re in a committed relationship of ANY nature, it’s a long-haul deal…get over the adolescent urge for continual instant gratification.
- Blend in a TON of respect…if I had to pick just one quality that’s been the single largest contributor (besides love, of course) to our healthy longevity, it’s been the degree to which we both respect each other, and treat each other with as much respect as we can muster in any given moment…especially when we’re pissed off at each other.
- Fold in a LOT of touch, affection (verbal & physical), and great sex…never hurts.
- Sprinkle heavily with large flakes of commitment…when we said “I do” 27 years ago, we meant it…and, there’ve been plenty of times when that’s been the only thing that got us through.
- Lastly, if you have trouble remembering that there are some things that are more important, and valuable, than you two always “being happy,” be sure that you add in some wonderful children (as we did) who will always remind you to occasionally take your attention off yourself and your own needs. It also wouldn’t hurt to throw a healthy devotion and commitment to a Spiritual Path of some sort…a relationship centered around being an expression of the Divine in and through each of you will have a much better shot at lasting.
One of the biggest issues that shows up in the couples and individuals I work with, particularly in regards to their relationships, is where they are so challenged to comprehend what it means to receive. When you dig down even further with the issue, it becomes clear that a LOT of people don’t know how to fathom the notion of receiving without first having earned it and/or without being sure that the right kind of score-keeping is happening to be sure that the balance sheet of worth is properly maintained.
If you’re reading this article, and you’re already noticing a little pull in your tummy, or some internal gasp of recognition, then keep reading.
Dictionary.com offers three definitions of receiving:
- “To take into one’s possession (something offered or delivered); to receive many gifts
- “To have something bestowed or conferred”
- “To have delivered or brought to one”
The word “Receive” comes from the Latin “regain; to take back.” When you look at those definitions and the root from which they come, and then think about what your definition of receiving is – and how you relate to it, what comes up for you?
When you look at the partner you love dearly (or anyone else that fills that bill), do you not have frequent desires to bestow, deliver, and share the gifts you have to offer them…particularly love, compassion, and attention? When you decide to do that, does your partner evade it, minimize it, or just plain seem pretty darn awkward with the whole thing? If that happens, then what happens to you, inside? Maybe you get discouraged, insulted, hurt, or shut down…particularly if this is a frequent dynamic. It wouldn’t be at all unusual if you even start going down the mental highway of believing that your partner/loved one doesn’t even love you anymore. It’s healthy to look at why you have issues with getting that which you so easily share to others.
I want to suggest that, while those kinds of reactions aren’t unusual, to confuse the reaction with the TRUTH is likely a big mistake. For someone – given the origin of “Receive” above – to let in what you’re trying to offer them means they’d have to take themselves back; specifically, whether on a conscious or unconscious level, receiving (particularly loving actions/energies) puts you in the position of getting to take back your worth…to take it in, actually. Your partner wanting to give to you is surely about them loving you and wanting to communicate it in different ways. However, have you ever thought about looking at it as a way – intended or not – for you to see yet another degree of yourself through the reflections that being given to put in front of you? If you could do that, you could deepen your own appreciation for who and how wonderful you are.
Now, to the average bear, you’d think that this would be easy, welcomed, and wanted. Yet, it’s NOT. So many people just can’t grasp why someone would want to give to them, to see them and acknowledge them in any way, shape, or form. If you have that going on, can you see that that’s not really natural? It’s natural to be loved and loving, and it’s natural to both give and receive. So, if neither are natural for you (anymore, if ever), it’s probably time to consider that it might be time for you to look at what scares you about being given to…particularly being loved. Were you to allow it to stay unexamined, you and your relationships will progressively get depleted and uninspiring.
If that’s not what you want, here are some areas to examine inside, to help you with that:
- Notice what the almost automatic thoughts are that come into your head when your partner is spontaneously loving on you. If it’s easy to let in, great. If not, what are you thinking (“Why are they doing this?” or “What do I have to do in return?”) are not uncommon for a lot of people.
- Write down what the costs were to you when you were growing up (yes, it almost always has some roots in how we were brought up) of trusting love and compassionate being shown to you? Was there a lot demanded in return? Was it given so sporadically that you lost touch with what was because of you and what was a manipulation?
- Take an honest, hard look inside to see if your challenges with receiving also have anything to do with things you haven’t communicated to your partner that has now elevated to a level of guilt and/or resentment that receiving from them feels impossible…because you know you’re not coming clean with things and, therefore, don’t deserve to be given to. In other words, does keeping receiving at bay allow you to passive-agressively get back at your partner/friend for slights/hurts that you haven’t acknowledged or cleaned up with them?
- If you’re often the giver, do you often take the time to pause for a second, and really check in with your heart and gut to see why you’re giving in that moment, and if it’s being driven by the sheer joy of giving…or, from an (un)conscious attempt to re-balance the scorecard of what you can trust about being loved based on where the score is? If you feel resentful a lot after you give, there’s a clue for you.
Taking a look at those things will help you be able to really not only get what might be the matter, but will also help you begin identifying where you need to focus your efforts to begin getting back on the track of regaining yourself through the mirror that others’ giving provides you…if you’ll only look.
If you want to get even deeper into the heart of this issue in your relationship, consider clicking on the link at the top of this issue to have a complimentary chat about it.
I would really love to hear what you think and feel about this topic. If you would be willing to share, and would want it to be anonymous, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re willing to have your experiences be of more immediate use and support for others trying to figure all this stuff out too, I invite you to post a comment or a note, to my Living Your Spirit Now Facebook Fan Page.
I was born in 1958, part of a generation where many were raised in accordance with Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book, “Baby And Child Care,” often by parents who didn’t have a similar upbringing to which they could refer for any kind of comparative frame of reference.
In the meantime, the last few generations – in an attempt, I believe, to try to compensate for the “sins” of the Fathers (and Mothers) of years past – have gone towards a parenting philosophy/style that is a hybrid of old and “new.” This seems to show up as a merging of Spock’s notion of babies/children being individuals who should be treated as such with an indigenously based style of immersive parenting that makes the child the 1st priority at all times. This has included – for many – having their children sleep in the “marital bed” for the first few years of their lives (or longer). If you’re a parent, and in a relationship, you might be wondering what this has to do with relationships. If you are, then you may be blind to a significant pitfall that challenges most committed relationships that include children.
There’s a reason why you always hear this ubiquitous quote on every flight you’re on: “In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down automatically, so be sure to secure your own mask before securing your child’s.” If you think about it, how useful are you going to be to your child(ren) if you’re unconscious or dead from hypoxia?
However, I see couples all the time who have, effectively, put their children in charge of their relationship, without even realizing they’ve done it. So, let me ask you a few questions, if you’re a parent with young kids (age 2+) reading this:
- Is your bedtime (and, hence, your sex life) determined by your children’s bedtime, once your kids are beyond three years old?
- Is your child over 18 months old and still sleeping with you both every night (and impacting your sex life)?
- Has it been 6 or more months since you and your partner have gone on a date – or even on a romantic 3-day-weekend getaway?
- Has a seemingly endless (and year-round) series of practices, lessons, classes, etc. for your kids taken the dominant place in your calendar (other than professional commitments) and you both struggle to find a time to plan something just for the two of you?
If you answered yes to any of these (much less all of them), then more likely than not, you and your partner are either already pretty challenged, or it’s only a matter of time before you are. You may be wondering why?
Before answering that question, I want to assure you that I am a huge advocate of healthy parenting and taking great care of your children. However (and here’s where the oxygen mask metaphor comes in), I have come to see that the healthiest, happiest children are coming from families where there are consistent, healthy boundaries; where they have no doubt that they are loved and cherished; and that their parents are in a thriving, healthy relationship with each other. What that means, in my experience, is that Mom and Dad have the following priority scale in place, in terms of how they allocate their self-care time, intention, and attention:
- Themselves as individuals
- Themselves as a couple
- Their children
If you are not tending to your own individual well-being as your first priority, you’re impeding the health of your relationship. If you’re not putting the well-being, safety, and fulfillment of yourselves as a couple right after that, then you won’t have anywhere near the energy and healthy modeling to share with your children that they need. Remember, your relationship is the first one your kids are witnessing – and watching intently – to begin learning how to “do” relationships and relating. If you and your partner are energetically dead, numb, overwhelmed, and/or resigned on any consistent level, don’t think for a moment that your kids won’t feel it. They feel EVERYTHING. There’s one way to begin making a pretty fast impact on having this be the model they learn from:
You are encouraged to put that oxygen mask on yourselves, both individually and jointly, to be sure you’re conscious, awake, healthy, strong, and connected. Putting your energies there will hugely assist your children in getting the kind of childhood – and parents – they truly want and deserve.
I would really love to hear what you think and feel about this topic. If you would be willing to share, and would want it to be anonymous, please email me at email@example.com. If you’re willing to have your experiences be of more immediate use and support for others trying to figure all this stuff out too, I invite you to post a comment or a note, to my Living Your Spirit Now Facebook Fan Page.