How Hard Is It To Be In A
One of our newsletter subscribers wrote to us
recently and made a statement about relationships
that we both agree AND disagree with.
Here's what she said...
"Being in love with someone is a job, a job you
have and you must do your best with, every day. It
is not easy, but we're in this life with one
reason--to learn how to do it."
We will certainly agree that part of the reason
we are all on this earth is to learn to
love--ourselves and others.
We cannot agree, however, that "being in love"
or loving others is a job. When something is a
"job," there's an implication of it being hard work
and a task or group of tasks that need to be
performed to reach a goal.
Hopefully your relationships aren't this way,
but for most people (at least in this country),
their job is something they do each day because
they have to (it's a means to an end) and not
because they want to.
Our feeling is that if you approach being in
love or loving others as a job, it makes it somehow
separate from the rest of your life and something
you "do" to get what you want.
We think that being in love and loving others is
not a job or task but rather becomes your entire
being if you allow it. It's also something you want
to do and not something you have to do.
We'll explain what we mean...
Most of us have learned how to love others (and
ourselves) from role models that have not been very
successful in this area of life--or maybe not
successful in the way we want to be.
Mostly unconsciously from these role models,
we've developed habits of "loving" that turn out to
not be so loving and that simply haven't brought us
what we want in our lives.
So in our viewpoint, if there's any "job" that
we have around this topic, it is to let go of old
habits and ways of thinking that have kept us
stuck--that have kept us from being the loving
beings that we truly are.
Being in love and loving others is a choice and
decision that we make in every moment and often we
are making those choices from those old habits.
Here's a story to explain...
Last weekend, Susie attended a 2-day conference
by herself which Otto would normally have attended.
Because it was his weekend to be with his high
school-aged son, Otto chose to honor that
commitment instead of attending the conference.
These past few weeks, Susie has been having some
physical problems that were certainly heightened by
sitting in a hot, crowded ballroom listening to
speaker after speaker at this weekend seminar. In
other words, on Saturday she had a pretty negative
attitude about the experience she was having.
Saturday night, as she was complaining on the
phone to Otto, it dawned on her that she had a
choice as whether to be loving and open the next
day at the seminar or to be stuck in her physical
She decided to attend that day's seminar with
the intention of being open to meeting new people
and enjoying her day. She decided to change the
"habit" of closing herself when she's in physical
discomfort and allow her heart to open to
What happened was that she did have a much
better day on Sunday as a result of her decision
and intention to open to love and connection--no
It wasn't her "job" to open. It was her
attitude, intention and decision to do so.
Is loving easy?
Certainly not always...but here is what we have
It is when you make a decision and choice to
open instead of close, especially when things get
tough, that makes all the difference in your
relationships and life.
We know what opening and closing to love mean to
us and you have to decide what they mean to
Then you have to be courageous enough to
challenge your old habits and beliefs that have
held you back.
Being in love and loving others and life is
never a job. It's our natural birthright. We've
just forgotten how to allow love to flow without
restriction in our lives.
In order to have the depth of love that we know
is possible, "opening" more of the time than
closing is a must.
How Good Can You Stand
If you're like most people, you probably think that
everyone wants an outstanding relationship. If
that's really true, why do so many people sabotage
their chances of having what they really want in
their relationships and their lives.
Here's an example of what we mean...
We were talking with someone recently and shared
with him how much we appreciated his contribution
to a project we'd all been working on.
At first the person accepted the words of
appreciation with gratitude--but when we continued
our praise, he thought we were joking and
insincere. We observed that he could accept some
appreciation but it didn't take long before he
wouldn't allow himself to believe our positive
We were sincere but it appeared that his
internal belief system would only allow just so
many good feelings about himself before he shut
down emotionally and viewed our comments to be
This is what many of us do when it comes to our
relationships. When things start going really well,
we do or say something that sabotages those good
feelings and snaps us back into more familiar and
comfortable roles and feelings.
You may be asking yourself right now--"Why
wouldn't everyone want to feel good all the time?"
and "Why would feeling bad be comfortable?"
There are many possible reasons why someone
would sabotage something that's going well, but one
of the main reasons is the belief that "I don't
deserve the happiness, the praise, the passion, the
good feelings, etc."
Many people are afraid that their relationship
won't last or they feel that he or she will leave
them anyway so somehow either consciously or
unconsciously, they do something to push the other
person away. We've seen that this happens a lot
when jealousy is involved.
We allow fears--such as fear of abandonment
(either physically or emotionally), beliefs such as
"I'm not enough," "I don't deserve happiness" and
so on --to keep us from having the great
relationships that are available to all of us.
If it were not for our fears and our
self-limiting belief systems, we would all have
While we are continually working on this within
our own relationship and lives, we'll offer you a
few suggestions that have helped us.
1. The obvious thing would be to first identify
your beliefs and fears that are holding you back
from having the relationships and life that you
2. Once you've identified these beliefs and
fears, then we would invite you to explore whether
you are willing or not to allow them to keep you
from having the relationships and life that you
3. Make a commitment to allow yourself to feel
good and to have what you want.
4. Understand that chaos and disruption in your
life is normal and you should expect it when you
challenge old ways of being and take on a new
belief system--especially one that is
5. When or if your life feels overwhelming, take
a moment, breathe and center yourself. If you do,
you will find a calmness in your chaos and you'll
be able to move forward from joy and not fear.
As Les Brown, the famous motivational speaker,
said, "You can always better your best." We take
that to mean that you don't have to settle for what
you don't want in your life. You can have what you
In every relationship that you have (even the
one you have with yourself), we urge you to start
being as conscious as possible in all ways.
Consider whether your words and actions will build
the relationship and take it higher or weaken and
possibly destroy it.
Take some time to figure out if and how you
sabotage yourself from having the relationships and
life that you want. If you do, we think your life
will just get better!
Falling in Love with
One of our newsletter subscribers asked us
"How can I tell the difference between falling
in love with a person's 'potential' and falling in
love with someone who I can have a true soul/heart
This is such a good question because whether you
are single, between relationships or are in a
long-term committed marriage or relationship, this
question is one that many people face as they
change, grow and move through their lives.
The typical scenario around this topic goes
something like this...
You may like or love many (or a few) parts of
the relationship with this person and you see
glimpses every now and then of what it "could" be.
But the truth of it is--you never seem to really
feel that full potential realized. Something always
seems to happen to stop or sabotage those good
feelings and your relationship seems to always fall
short of what it might be.
You also keep hanging in there because you just
*know* that he or she can be better or be more than
they are currently showing or giving you.
While every relationship is different, a few
things could be going on...
1. If you are attracting partners who have a lot
of "potential" but never fully come through,
believe it or not, you may be setting yourself up
for relationship failure because it serves your
needs. You may be attracting these types of
partners because that situation gives you an
opportunity to "fix" someone else--and that is a
comfortable role for you even though you may not
2. You may also be attracting someone with a lot
of "potential" to you because deep in your heart,
you don't feel that you deserve to be in a fully
alive, growing relationship that serves your
3. You may have blocks to receiving love.
4. You may have seen this dynamic in action when
you were growing up and you are unconsciously
Well--if you're saying right now, this is all
about me--what about the other person who isn't
fully living up to his/her potential?
Of course, it always takes "two to tango" in
relationships and we recognize this. That's what
relationships are about. But what we know for sure,
nothing will change unless you start dealing with
your part in whatever relationship dance is going
What we've discovered in our own past
relationships and in relationships of our coaching
clients are a couple of things about this
1. Many people don't consciously pay attention
and listen to the clues that they are given of the
other person's true nature and core essence before
they get deeply involved with them. Usually, if we
ask our coaching clients who are in this situation,
they will admit that they heard what they wanted to
hear and didn't accept what the other person was
2. When faced with this issue in a long-term
relationship where one person may have grown and
the other chose not to grow in the same direction,
many people hang on to what "could" be instead of
what both people are actually wanting this
relationship to be. People either hang on for
years, living with feelings of longing for
something better or waiting for the other person to
end the relationship--or they choose to move
3. If you are saying to yourself "If only he'd
be this way.." or any other "if only," it may be a
smoke screen that is diverting your attention away
from looking at your needs, confronting your
situation and moving toward what you want.
In order to create closer, more connected
relationships in your life, we encourage you to
always be consciously moving toward what you
Here are a few suggestions for you to help you
with this type of issue...
1. Step back and honestly assess your situation
from a different perspective--as objectively as
2. Ask yourself what you want in your
relationship and from a partner. Take some time
with this one and be honest with yourself.
3. Begin focusing on what you like, love and
appreciate about this person as you are exploring
both of your needs in the relationship.
Ask yourself some of these questions:
- What do I love about my partner?
- What's great about our relationship?
- What does he/she brings to the relationship
that noone else has done before?
4. Ask what your partner truly wants. If you
don't know, then ask. This can be a positive and
extremely helpful conversation if you take your
ego, preconceived ideas defending and all judgment
out of your listening.
5. Talk about what you are both willing to do so
that both of your needs are met. You'll learn a lot
from this discussion.
6. Feel into your heart if you can have what you
want with this person.
Being loved for who you are is the most
wonderful gift you can receive and also that you
We urge you to love honestly.
Dealing With The Big and
Little Things That Annoy You
Since we're all about helping you experience the
gifts of connection more of the time in your
relationships and lives, here's an interesting
question for you...
What is it that irritates or annoys you?
If you're like most people, there's probably
been some time or another you've found yourself
irritated by the small things that others say or
These could be mannerisms or annoying habits of
loved ones or co-workers that seem to drive you
crazy. For most of us there always seems to be
something that doesn't seem to be such a big deal
to others but is a big deal to us.
For Susie, loud gum "cracking" and "loud" eating
have always been irritating to her. To you, these
may be really small things and may not bother you
but we're sure that you probably have things that
seem to get "under your skin" as well.
When it happens, that annoying or upsetting
behavior seems to be all we can focus on. In short,
we become "nit-picky."
At times, our focus seems to get so intense that
we seem to expect that other person will always act
that way and sure enough--they usually do!
If you find that you are irritated or are being
"nit-picky" with someone in your life, one of
several things may be going on.
It may be that you are actually looking at a
mirror of your own personal challenges or
It may be that by focusing your attention
outwardly, you're choosing not to look at your own
It may also be that expectations, assumptions
and controlling behaviors have gotten the best of
you and you are trying to live someone else's life
instead of your own.
Susie noticed that when she's irritated by loud
gum chewing or eating, it's usually a time when
she's not feeling centered and maybe a bit
overwhelmed. By being "nit-picky," she's choosing
to look at an outer distraction instead of what's
going on inside her. There is probably a little
"controlling" behavior going on there too!
What Susie has learned to do when this happens
is to look at what's going on inside her and pull
her attention away from the so-called "bad"
behavior of the other person. When she is
successful in pulling her attention away from
others and focusing on herself and what's going on
inside her, the whole situation seems to lessen in
intensity for her.
Along with focusing on the emotions that she may
be trying to cover up, she also begins to focus on
the qualities in the other person that she
When she's able to do this, she not only
discovers what is at the bottom of her irritation,
but she also finds that the dynamics between her
and the other person change for the better.
It really is true that what you focus on
persists--so it you focus on what irritates you
about the other person then you will just get more
So, is there an irritation in your life or a
situation that you'd like to change?
Just try for one day to change your attitude
about that person or situation and see what
happens. When your mind begins to mull over minor
irritations or actions that you don't like about
another person, change your attention to yourself
and what you are feeling.
Take a moment to stop what you are doing and
breathe. Pull your attention inside you and just
feel what emotion may be lurking there that you may
not be aware of.
It might be that there's some anger about
something else that really might need to be
addressed or maybe your feelings are pointing to an
attitude that you've been carrying around that you
no longer need.
Whatever you discover about yourself, breathe
into that feeling, acknowledge it and allow it to
"soften". It will if you will allow it and then
you'll be able to see clearly what needs to be
done, if anything.
Next, in your mind's eye, see qualities that you
love or like about the other person. Hold that
image in your mind.
We think if you try this two-step process, your
"irritations" will decrease in your life and you'll
begin to enjoy yourself so much more.
Are You Talking on
As Relationship Coaches and simply observers of all
kinds of relationships--if there's one thing we've
noticed, people do a lot of "talking on
We'll explain what we mean with a story...
Samantha and her sister Karen had their
differences when they were growing up but those
differences have never been so apparent as when
they had to deal with their father's serious
Each sister seemed to say and do things that
would cause the other to feel defensive and to
either lash out or withdraw.
Each sister was afraid to say what was really on
her mind because of what she feared would happen to
their relationship if she did.
They were both stuck in not understanding one
another and reacting in ways that were not healthy
for their relationship.
When they talked, it was as if they were
"talking on eggshells"--talking carefully around
hot-button issues and fearing that one of them
would say something to destroy their relationship
We're pretty sure that you have either had this
type of communication challenge in a relationship
or you have seen it in action.
It's pretty painful to be in the middle of this
type of situation and also painful for loved ones
to watch it happen.
When the two of us first came together, Otto
felt like he was "talking on eggshells" with
During that time, he didn't want to say or do
the "wrong" thing to make Susie's daughter mad
because he knew how Susie valued her relationship
with her daughter.
Otto found himself "talking on eggshells" when
he was with Susie's daughter and was fearful that
he was going to lose something special if he didn't
say the "right" things to her.
Their relationship and communication changed for
the better when they both chose to change their
attitudes toward one another.
Here are some ideas that Otto and Susie's
daughter used to change how they communicate and
also a few suggestions if you are in a similar
situation as in our example of Samantha and
1. Look at your situation realistically, without
making up stories about what the other person is
thinking or meaning when the two of you
communicate. You truly don't know what if anything
is underneath what the other person is saying or
doing. Discover what is accurate from the most
objective viewpoint that you are able to
2. Become emotionally aware of what's inside
you. What feelings come up when you are triggered
by what this person says? Identify those feelings
and just "sit" with them. Are they feelings that
have come up for you in a previous relationship?
Look beneath anger for what is there for you. It
could be feelings of unworthiness or a number of
It could be the feeling that you can never have
what you want.
3. Become aware of what you say when you are
triggered in this situation. Do you retaliate
against the "real" or imagined threat by lashing
out at the other person or withdrawing? Do you get
resentful and "punish" the other person with snide
comments or cruel jokes?
4. Have the courage to look at your situation in
a completely different, new way. Stand back and
look with new eyes on this relationship--and begin
opening your heart to this other person.
5. Have the courage (and it does take courage)
to say what is true for you--in a way that can be
heard. Be sure when you are speaking that you are
telling the other person how you feel and not what
they have done wrong. The other person may not be
aware of how their words and actions affect
Tell the other person how you would like
communication to be between the two of you.
6. Listen to how the other person feels and what
he/she wants in this situation. Listen with an open
heart and from a place of wanting to understand
rather than defending.
7. Commit to changing and healing this
communication challenge. Changing any habit takes
time and takes a moment-by-moment commitment to do
What we've found is that "talking on eggshells"
is a habit that can be changed. If this describes a
challenge in your life, begin now to create a
happier, healthier relationship and life experience
by taking a few steps toward healing.
Are You Listening from
One of the questions that we often ask ourselves,
as well as our coaching clients, is very
fundamental to creating a great relationship.
That question is--"Are you listening from love
or are you listening from your own agenda?"
Listening from love is one of the elements that
we think is important in our relationship. It helps
us feel respected, honored, important and even
And when we don't do it--we feel separation and
distance from each other.
So, what is "listening from love"?
Listening from love is listening with total
attention to someone and with the intention of
creating a deeper connection and to truly
Very often people think that if they truly
listen with the intention to understand someone
that they have agree with them. In our experience,
this is not the case.
You can listen to someone with an open heart,
suspending your opinions, without losing your
identity and who you are. You can ask someone to
clarify what they mean by what they said without
having the need to jump in and defend.
Listen from love is not judging. It's listening
--truly listening to someone and suspending our
fear, doubt, judgement and other defense mechanisms
that prevent us from creating deeper connections of
One common complaint between partners is "you
never listen to me."
This was true for one couple that we know. What
we found is that he was listening but he was too
fearful to say what he was really thinking because
he thought his wife would "flip out" if he did. As
a result, his wife thought he was agreeing with her
all along but in reality he had simply withdrawn
There was no conscious agreement between them
because fear prevented him from revealing his true
feelings. In this case, the real issue was not his
lack of listening but rather his not feeling enough
safety and trust in the relationship to be
In order to "listen from love" more often, here
are some ideas that we use...
1) Whether you're listening to someone on the
phone or in person, give them your undivided
attention. If you don't have time to listen at that
moment, arrange a time when you can truly listen
and be fully present. Listening is a time to forget
2) Stay in the present moment when you are
listening. Don't let your mind drift into thinking
about things that happened in the past or what may
happen in the future--or what you might say or do
next. When you feel yourself mentally "leaving" the
conversation, gently (or not so gently) pull
yourself back into the present. It's helpful to
place your attention in your heart area when you
are doing this.
3) Make agreements with the people who are
closest to you that you will honor each other by
listening when the other speaks. When you make and
keep conscious agreements like this one, a feeling
of safety and trust grows between you.
4) Make a conscious effort to avoid reacting
defensively, even in your mind, if this is your
pattern. When you feel yourself reacting to what's
being said, bring your attention back into your
heart, breathe, and you might ask something like
this--"Tell me more?" When you ask that question
from your heart, very often you hear what is truly
going on for the other person and it may not be
what initially triggered you. Before you react,
explore the situation deeper.
5) When you do speak, take the time and have the
courage to speak your truth.Sometimes that takes a
great deal of courage but if you will suspend
assuming how the other person will react, very
often you will find that it goes better than you
thought it would.
No matter where we are in our lives, we can
always increase the times that we are able to
listen from our hearts. We invite you to practice
this skill this week and see how your relationships
Lifestyle Changes, Kids and Keeping the Love,
Passion and Connection Alive
Here's another great question from our recent
survey that seemed to be on the minds of many when
we brought up the topic of passion.
"How can we work with the changing nature of
passion as it transforms over the course of a
relationship, and with different events occurring,
such as career and lifestyle changes, or having
The typical scenario that many people experience
around this topic of passion that this person is
referring to goes something like this...
You find a person who you just seem to "click"
with and both of you can't wait to be together. You
are able to spend hours just looking at each other,
making love and just having fun together. There
seems to be a deep bond and connection between the
two of you that you may never have felt before.
Then circumstances change. You get married or
move in together, you or your partner take a
demanding job, you have children, you have to deal
with step-parenting, you have to take care of
family members--or any number of other changes that
can happen in your life.
You gradually realize that you have "lost that
loving feeling" as the Righteous Brothers sang many
years ago and you and your mate are simply living
together as roommates and possibly as friends.
So what happened to the passion that was once
there and why did it change?
What we have discovered in our work with
coaching clients and by observing our own lives is
that it's not the passion that changes.
The passion, if it was once there, is available
all of the time. What changes is your focus, your
decisions about your life and your commitments and
You might be saying something like this...
"But I work long hours and I have a lot of
responsibilities in my life now. There simply isn't
time for passion."
We certainly know what that feels like. We also
know what it feels like to not have passion in our
lives and the two of us have made a commitment to
each other that we will keep it alive and growing
throughout our relationship.
From the beginning of our relationship, we made
the commitment to consciously keep our connection
and passion as we go through events instead of
disconnecting from each other.
That might mean different things as we move
through our lives but connection is at the core of
all of it.
You may or may not know this, but we spend a
minimum of an hour each morning connecting with
This "connecting" that we're talking about can
take many forms, including talking, connecting,
laughing, touching, lovemaking and a variety of
other possibilities but an hour a day in the
mornings of connecting with each other is our
conscious intention for our relationship and
So, to go back to the person's question about
how to keep the passion and connection alive when
life becomes too overwhelming, with too many
What do you do to keep that connection and
passion at those times?
An example of how we deal with our relationship
and "life happenings" occurred just a few weeks
As many of you may recall, Susie's mother passed
a few weeks ago and during the last couple of weeks
of her mother's life, Susie spent a great deal of
time with her mother, as well as time spent
traveling to see her.
Even though we weren't able to have our
love-making and connection time each morning during
the time of Susie's mom's passing, we stayed
connected by phone and in our hearts.
We never lost that "loving feeling" for one
another even though we were going through a
We keep that "loving feeling" because it's our
intention and commitment that it's important in our
lives. We keep it because we talk about what we are
feeling and try not to hide. We keep it because we
truly listen to each other without judging.
Are we perfect at it?
Of course not. But we are good enough at it that
we have kept passion and connection alive through
the ebb and flow of our lives.
If reconnecting to the passion that you once
felt is important to you, we invite you to explore
what commitment you are willing to make.
You can start small. One couple decided to
simply begin having breakfast together and talking
together after many years of passing each other in
the hallway as their only way of connecting.
Another couple decided that keeping their
connection was more important than taking the job
promotion that would have required more time
Another couple still yet, simply "made new
rules" for how they wanted to be together and
committed to live by those rules that would bring
Remember, rekindling passion begins with
We invite you to begin connecting today on a
deeper level. We believe your life will be much
richer and more rewarding if you do.
©2006 by Susie
& Otto Collins
and Otto Collins are spiritual and life partners
who are committed to helping others create
outstanding relationships of all kinds. They
regularly write, speak and conduct workshops and
seminars on love, relationships and personal and
spiritual growth to audiences all across the USA.
They are the creators of the "Relationship Toolkit"
which has helped people in over a dozen countries
improve their relationships. It includes a video
Partnerships plus two
and Relationship Success
Relationship Quotes Worth a Million
Dollars! You can also
read more articles like these and subscribe to
their weekly newsletter on love and relationships
by visiting their web site at www.collinspartners.com
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has just been released and is now available
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