How do you find the motivation to change?
What is the secret for making changes in our relationships and lives?
Why does is usually take something "big" to happen to us get us to shift from where we are to something much better?
The answers to these questions may surprise you because...
After learning to become active participants and observers in both our own lives and in the lives of our coaching clients and countless others...
What we've learned is that we and almost everyone we've ever met are slow to change (if we ever do) -- even when it's in our best interest to do so.
Most of us wait until it's almost too late before we make the changes we think or feel we should have made all along.
What we've noticed is that at various times in our lives, each of us is given an opportunity to "wake up" to all the love and joy that is possible--if we take advantage of it.
If you're like most people, that "opportunity" usually comes in the guise of a catastrophe in our lives like divorce, a car wreck, cancer (or any other serious illness) or even the death of a loved one.
Although we certainly don't consciously want these things to happen or consciously create them, most of us need something like that to jolt us out of our patterns that keep us stuck in limiting and self-defeating thoughts and actions.
Take the singer/ songwriter and performer Melissa Etheridge...
We saw Melissa in concert the other evening and she is a beautiful example of this idea.
Even if you have preconceived ideas about her and what she's all about, there's no arguing the fact that after her bout with cancer, she is a changed woman and is now a radiant example of love and connection who wants to do her part to make the world a better place.
She chose to see her illness as an opportunity to begin living her life as if every moment counts and is precious. She chose to begin cherishing her loved ones and connect more deeply with those around her--including her audiences.
We came away from her concert deeply moved and even more appreciative of the love we have in every moment for each other, our family, friends and everything we hold dear.
Cancer was what it took for Melissa Etheridge to awaken to more love and joy in her life.
But here's what's true...
You don't have to go through cancer, any other life-threatening illness or any other catastrophe in your life to come into awareness of what's possible and live it.
You can be your own catalyst and begin choosing what's important to you and how you want to have your relationships to be and what you want for your life.
Here are some ways and new understandings we think you'll find helpful to begin to awaken without the trauma and drama of the catastrophes in our lives...
1. Know that you are worth it. Know that you are "enough" and that you are worth the love that you want. Most of us have experienced and taken to heart criticism that says we aren't good enough in some way or another.
When self-defeating thoughts come into your mind, simply tell yourself that you are good enough to have love and you deserve to have it.
2. Live in the present moment. We probably say this every week but it bears repeating--and repeating--because most of us (including us) have a hard time doing it!
When your body and mind are anchored in the present and with the person in front of you, you become aware of the joy, pleasure, excitement or whatever in that moment.
If you are constantly in the past or future, you can't possibly experience the happiness from what's happening right now.
3. Be on the look out for small expressions of love Start noticing expressions of love from others in your life. So often we're so focused on what we don't have, we miss small ways that we are loved and cared for. Don't miss what's right in front of your nose.
4. Learn to master the "twin forces of pain and pleasure" in your life We recall from many years ago that Tony Robbins said that the key to creating or accomplishing anything in your life is being able to master these two forces called pain and pleasure in your life.
One thing is for sure... we all have had and will continue to have both pain AND pleasure in our lives. One trick to being happy, successful and creating close connected relationships (or anything else) is to learn to associate more pleasure to the things that will take us toward what we really want and to associate more pain to choices we could make that will take us away from what we really want.
4. Be on the look out for ways to love yourself and others
Ask yourself these questions--
"How can I love myself today?"
"How can I love others today?"
Take time today for one or more expressions of love for yourself and for others.
If you do, the joy and love you receive will begin to show in your very being.
You will awaken to who you were truly meant to be.
Sometimes relationship wisdom can come in the most unusual forms and ways.
When you think about brilliant relationship insights, you probably don't think about the late "Flip Wilson" but maybe...just maybe "Flip" was more knowledgable about matters of the heart than anyone previously thought and here's why...
If you aren't familiar with Flip Wilson...
He was a comedian In the 1970's, and was probably most famous for his variety show that ran for several years on NBC television.
On his show, one of the roles he created that was incredibly funny was the character Reverend Leroy, who was the minister of the "Church of What's Happening Now."
Although "parishioners" were wary of coming to the "church" because it was hinted that Reverend Leroy was a con artist, we loved the idea of his "church" and what it can mean to our relationships.
Now we're not being sacrilegious or making fun of anyone's religious or spiritual beliefs when we talk about church and Flip Wilson together in the same sentence.
Usually when we think of a "church," we think of a place that's sacred and important.
Add that to the name Flip gave his invented church--"What's Happening Now"--and you've got a recipe for a great relationship.
Confused? Here's why we believe that...
If we approach life and our relationships with the idea that what's happening now is sacred and important, there's no limit to the love that can be in our lives.
The trouble is that most of us are usually focusing most of our time, effort, energy, and thoughts on what happened in the past or what could happen in the future.
We are usually not living completely in the present moment when we are with the people in our lives and it shows.
We don't listen carefully, we jump to conclusions and we make up a lot of untrue stories about the motivations of others.
We also don't usually treat each moment like it is sacred either, giving it our full attention.
We don't spend quality time with our loved ones because we're so busy running here and there--getting "things" done. We put our important relationships on the "back burner."
What we're suggesting is that you make all aspects of your relationships sacred, important and filled with presence.
When we've talked about this idea in the past, many people have said something like this...
"That all sounds good but my life is too busy. I'm barely able to keep up as it is!"
We can certainly relate to living a busy life but what it comes down to is this...
It comes down to making conscious choices in every moment to be totally present with what is in front of us to do or the person we're with.
Need some ideas about how to do that?
Here are a few ways we practice (and it is something we do practice) being totally with "what's happening now"...
1. Decide that your relationships are sacred and important to you and you want to start practicing being present in every moment, especially with those you love.
There might be some activities that you have been doing that you'd like to stop doing or that you decide aren't as important to you anymore.
You may be able to stop doing those if you examine your motivations for doing them.
Start making more conscious decisions about how you spend your time.
2. Stop multi-tasking. It's tempting to check email when you're on the phone with someone or pick up the clutter in the house while your loved one talks to you.
Take the time to separate the two activities. If you're in the middle of an activity and someone wants to talk with you, either stop what you're doing or explain when you can be fully present with him or her.
3. When your attention wanders to the past or future, gently bring it back to this moment.
Notice we said "when" your attention wanders because drifting into the past or the future certainly is a habit but one you can begin to break.
We've found it helpful to first pull our wandering attention into our hearts, breathe, and then focus on what or who is in front of us.
4. Be open to creating some sacred time with those you love--whether it's your partner, children, relatives or friends--where you just devote your energy and presence to each other.
When Susie got home yesterday after being gone over the weekend, the two of us spent about 30 minutes together reconnecting. We devoted that time to us before going on to other things.
Focusing on what's happening now can be a huge gift for not only the people we are with but ourselves.
Our lives can become richer and more filled with love when we are totally in the moment--or at least bringing ourselves back from wherever we go in our minds.
Even though we may not have founded a fictitious church
like Flip Wilson, we all can be more present and in turn
more loving in our lives and relationships.
Like it or not, everyone (including you, us and everyone else) is selfish.
We'd all like to think we're not selfish but, we are.
In our opinion, being selfish isn't necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, being selfish can actually be a good thing but here's where the problem with being selfish comes in...
Most of us have grown up with the idea that it's not okay to be selfish. We may have been taught that being selfish is wrong and it's more noble or important to put others' needs above our own.
Along these lines, many of us were also taught that "unselfishness" is the greatest expression of love--or the way to be in relationship, as well as all the other aspects of our lives.
While ignoring another person's feelings and desires can certainly drive a wedge between the two of you, so too can acting without considering your own wants, needs or desires.
What you may not understand or realize is that EVERYTHING that you, we and every one else ever does, is done for selfish reasons.
Even the desire to do something for someone else is always done for our own selfish reasons -- because what we do makes us feel good in some way.
This still doesn't mean this is wrong or "bad." It's just that we find it to be very helpful to know our motivations behind the "why" of what we do.
Many of us have been in situations where we really didn't want to do something but felt we had no other choice.
When you go ahead and do something you don't want to do and your inner guidance is telling you not to do it, your heart is just not in it.
When you agree to do something because you are fearful that the other person will be angry with you, be disappointed with you, or make your life difficult if you don't, you are lying to yourself and ignoring what's truly inside you.
And believe it or not, this can be felt by the other person. Even worse, you may feel resentful and like a victim or martyr in those moments.
Whatever so-called self-less gift you were intending to give to the other person is totally undercut by your true feelings--and no true connection is made.
Monica was constantly "doing" for everyone including her kids and her husband--and she was tired. Not only did she have a full-time job but she was a taxi service for her kids after work and helped her husband with his business in the evenings--plus she looked in on her elderly mother several times a week.
As a lot of women, she had grown up with the idea that the role of a woman was to be completely selfless, always putting her family's needs before her needs.
While she loved being a wife and mother, she was beginning to secretly get resentful of always "doing" for others. She began to notice that she was angrier with her loved ones than she used to be and she didn't know what to do about it.
She didn't want to appear to be selfish but she wanted some time for herself to do what she wanted to do.
If you can relate in any way to Monica's situation, here are some ideas to help you create more of what you want in your life, while keeping you connection with your loved ones...
1. Take a moment to breathe before you automatically say yes! Even if you aren't ready to jump on the "selfishness" bandwagon, we encourage you to pause and take a few moments before you say yes to anything else in your life.
2. Notice what's an internal "yes" and an internal "no." Create an internal way of recognizing your "yes" and your "no." Think of a definite "yes" and notice how that feels inside you. Now think of a definite "no" and notice the difference.
Now tune in to what's being asked of you and notice whether it has a "yes" feel to it or a "no" feel.
Do your best to set aside any judgments about what's "right" or "nice" or "helpful" or "expected."
Just notice the feelings you are experiencing right now. Try to remember that there are many ways for this other person to get what he or she needs. You are not the only avenue to what is being asked for.
When Monica's husband asked if she would pick up his shirts at the dry cleaners after work, before she said yes, she paused, turned her attention inside herself and realized that she felt a loud "no."
Her day was already packed with things to do and she couldn't fit another thing into it.
3. Ask yourself what you want. Learning to listen to yourself--to your wants, needs and desires--is the first step in consciously creating your life. Many of us aren't even aware or think we deserve to have what we want so we go around doing what other people want us to do and living their lives--not our own.
When Monica asked herself what she wanted, she realized that she not only wanted some time for herself but also some connecting time just with her husband, without the kids. She and her husband often went to their kids' activities together but they seemed to never have any time alone.
4. Ask yourself what you are willing to do, taking all of your self-judgments, guilt and expectations out of it.
Monica felt that she didn't have time in her day to pick up her husband's shirts for him. Although she didn't want to disappoint or inconvenience him, she realized that if she did this for him, she would not be able to complete her other commitments and she would resent him.
So she decided that she was not willing to say yes to his request to pick them up today but she was willing to pick them up the next day.
5. Express what you are willing and not willing to do from your heart space--not from guilt, anger or resentment.
When Monica talked with her husband, she was clear that what she had already committed to wouldn't allow her to do as he asked but she could pick them up the next day.
She said all of this with love in her heart for herself and for her husband.
He was surprised but listened to her and agreed that he could find time to pick them up himself.
6. Ask for what you want. If you completely ignore what you want, you are not really serving yourself or your relationship. Your relationship can't grow if you hold back on what you want.
When Monica told her husband that she wanted to have some time, maybe that weekend, for just the two of them to be together, he was excited that she had brought it up. He wanted the same thing but knew how busy they both were and hadn't mentioned it.
They both knew that they needed to revitalize their relationship and this was a good beginning.
So just as damaging as it can be to ignore another person's feelings and desires, it is perhaps even more dangerous to ignore your own.
Knowing what you want doesn't mean you have to stomp on another person's wants. In fact, sometimes when you act from what you truly desire, you find that there is room for everyone's needs to be met.
We suggest that you leave all of your previous notions about selfishness behind.
You might even re-think the whole concept. Tune in to your feelings and what you want. Know that you aren't the only one who could do what seems required of you.
When you act from your heart and with an empowered
willingness, not only will you feel better, it is likely
your loved ones will too!
The two of us have been looking at how to create more trust in our lives and in the lives of others for many years but in the last few weeks, we've gotten some true "ah has" that we want to share with you about what trust really is and how to create more of it in your relationships.
Some of these ideas and insights may be pretty far out but stay with us because we think it will all make perfect sense to you.
One of the things we've discovered about relationships is that...
You, we and EVERYONE we've ever known has "rules" for how we want to be in our relationships and live our lives.
In fact, we all have "rules" for everything.
We have "rules" for what's acceptable to us, what we want, what we don't want, how the people in our lives should (and shouldn't) act, how much security we need to feel safe in the world, how often we want to make love, how much money we want or need and everything else in our lives.
Your rules are not necessarily right or wrong. They are the rules you've chosen to act from (usually unconsciously.)
You can learn to consciously choose which rules you want to follow in your life but most of us don't.
With that being said, here are a few of our "ah has" about the part our rules play in building or tearing down trust...
*When a person "trusts" another, he or she has the belief that the other person will act in such a way that is in alignment with his or her "rules" for living.
As long as this other person doesn't violate your "rules" for how you want your relationship or life to be, you say that you "trust" him or her.
*When trust has been broken, what actually has happened is that there has been a rules violation between the two people.
In other words, something either happened or didn't happen that violated one or both peoples' rules for what they want in their relationship and they're upset about it.
"Trust" violations can be small things or they can be much bigger issues that can really damage or destroy a relationship.
For example... failing to pick up the kids early from the baby sitter because of road construction is no where near as big of an issue for most people as it would be if one person was having an extra-marital affair. Infidelity is usually a huge trust and rules violation.
*You can trust in one area but not all areas of your relationship with that person because of something he or she has done or because of your past experiences.
*Creating trust is finding and living in harmony with people who want at least something of what you want, want to live how you want to live and have similar values and "rules" and are willing to live in these ways.
In other words, there is enough of an overlap of the other person's rules that fits with the life you want to create for yourself to create trust between the two of you.
Okay--those are a few of our insights on trust and here are some examples...
**Claire feels strongly about recycling in her home. Her husband and two kids don't feel as strongly about recycling as Claire does (it's not a "rule" for them) but they agree because they see value in doing it--and also Claire has such conviction about it that they want to support her.
Claire trusts that they will recycle but when they slip up every now and then and forget, she doesn't make a big deal of it because she knows it's not their passion but hers--and she sees that they are making a constant, good effort at doing it.
Here's a different example...
When there is conflict between Patty and Bill, they each have different "rules" for how they deal with it. Patty withdraws into silence to let Bill know how much he has hurt her. Bill gets angry and pushes Patty to talk with him.
In this case, Patty is trusting that her silence will communicate her upset to Bill and Bill is trusting that if he just keeps pushing, Patty will open up and talk with him.
They keep doing this over and over again, nothing ever gets resolved and they don't trust each other.
So if creating more trust between two people is finding the overlap in their "rules" for living or changing the rules (only if the changes fit what is wanted for his or her life)...
How do you do that?
Here are a few ideas when there's a trust issue...
1. Take a conscious look at your rules that seem to be in conflict with the other person's rules.
What is the rules violation between the two of you?
In our Bill/Patty example--Bill's rule is that you talk out conflicts until they are resolved and if you don't get cooperation, you push to get it. Patty's silence and withdrawal violates his rule for resolving conflict.
Patty's rule is that Bill should know what he had done and she shows him her upset with her silence and by ignoring him. Bill's pushing her to talk to him violates her rule that he should know what's wrong without her telling him.
2. Find an overlap in your rules, even a small one and build on it.
In our recycling example, there was enough of an overlap in the way the family wanted to live that they could come to an agreement of their rules for living on this topic.
For Patty and Bill, however, they were so stuck that they couldn't see any possible overlap.
3. If there's little or no overlap, take a good hard look at your rules to see if they are serving you--getting you what you want. Change them if those changes are in alignment with how you want to live your life.
Neither Patty nor Bill are getting what they want from their current rules so they each chose to step back and see if maybe another way might work better.
Bill agreed to pull back his energy and not push when there was conflict. Patty recognized that maybe Bill wasn't a mind reader (and didn't need to be one). She agreed that she'd practice opening up and saying what she needed to say to him.
They could adopt and practice different rules for their lives.
4. If neither person is willing to look at making changes in their rules--or they simply don't want to, both people have to evaluate whether they want to continue the relationship the way it is or not.
So this week we suggest that you look at where you have conflict or trust issues (we all have them) and see where there might be a rules violation.
Our loving advice is to be as conscious as possible about
your rules for living and watch how your life and
Have you ever felt hurt or betrayed by anyone, anywhere or anytime in your past?
No matter what age you are, we're guessing that you said "yes" to the above question.
We've certainly had them.
You may not consciously think about them but they are there, coloring your values, beliefs, thoughts, actions and interactions with others-- unless you've done some deep healing.
As you may have already experienced, these past hurts can certainly affect new relationships in harmful ways.
Here are a couple of really good questions about this issue from a person who responded to our latest survey on trust...
"How do you release past hurts and betrayals in order to gain more trust in your relationship? How do you not project those past hurts onto your current partner?"
Here's something that we feel really sure in saying...
Some of the reasons we come together in any relationship are to help each other to heal, to learn and to grow-- and this includes healing past hurts.
The opportunity for healing in a relationship can come in the form of showing us an exaggerated version of the scenario from the past that we're holding on to, a mirror for us, or showing us an alternative way of being.
What we're saying is that if you've buried past hurts, they will come up--but that doesn't mean that they have to ruin your current relationship.
While our tendency as humans is to create similar situations over and over until we learn from them, heal and grow, we can start to make healthy choices that can help us enjoy ourselves a whole lot more in our relationships.
When the two of us first got together, at times Otto felt like there were uncanny resemblances between Susie and his ex wife. These weren't physical similarities but were rather ways that both of them would react to him in certain instances.
At those times, he had to do "a lot of work on himself" (as we're so fond of saying) to remember that this was a different relationship and that Susie was his beloved and wasn't his ex wife.
So what kind of "work" did he have to do on himself?
Here are some ideas that both of us have used to help heal past hurts, create more trust, and deeper love and connection in our relationship...
1. Recognize when you are triggered and carried into the past. Ask yourself if your anger, withdrawal or whatever you happen to do when you are triggered is either magnified by something that happened in your past or maybe even totally from your past.
In other words, can you identify whether you were triggered entirely by what's happening in the present or is your reaction mostly from what happened in your past?
2. Identify your thoughts and fears and question them. You may have heard the saying that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. We suggest that you write your thoughts and fears on paper and then question their truth in your current life.
3. If you aren't sure whether your reactions or fears are about the past or the present, ask your partner for a clarification about whatever triggered you before you react. Ask with curiosity, not blame.
4. Practice discernment. Create ways to differentiate one partner from another when you are triggered--whether your current partner is actually "doing" anything or treating you as someone in your past treated you--or not.
Ask yourself--"How is this person or this experience different from my current partner or situation?" Find evidence that supports this difference.
You might even keep this "evidence" on a note card where you will see it often.
5. Remind yourself that "that was then and this is now." You are not the person you were when you had those previous experiences and although you may feel there are some similarities with your current partner, remind yourself that you can make different choices.
You can make those choices not from fear, but from what you want more of.
You can choose to focus on what you want and not on what you don't want-and look for evidence that it's there.
That's not to say that you close your eyes to harmful patterns that are actually repeating in your life.
But it is to say that you look at what's happening in your present with honesty and curiosity and not stay stuck in past emotions.
Don't allow your past to create your present and
In the USA, it's the week of the 4th of July and that means independence day celebrations, complete with fireworks, cook-outs and get-togethers with friends and family.
It's usually lots of fun and we're looking forward to attending "Red, White and Boom" which is described as one of the biggest fireworks shows in this part of the United States.
As we were thinking about the Independence Day holiday and what we were going to do to celebrate, we couldn't help but think about independence as it relates to our relationships.
Very often, there is a issue around the desire for independence (or dependence) that happens in almost every relationship or marriage that can create some real challenges for you.
It's what we call the juggling act of independence vs. dependence and here's what we mean by this...
In relationships of all kinds, the idea of freedom, independence and inter-dependence (or lack thereof) can be one of the stickiest issues that people and couples have to deal with.
Since we're all so different, each of us has a greater or lesser desire (and need) for freedom and independence--and that's where the "rub" comes in.
If you're "too" independent in relationships, there's little or no connection--no matter what kind of relationship it is. There may be great love but the other person can feel like something is missing in the relationship and that he/she is being held at arm's length.
If you're "too" dependent (and needy), the other person can feel smothered and search for every opportunity to have some freedom.
We see this dynamic a lot in couples who struggle with jealousy but it can happen from time to time in any relationship no matter how long you've been together.
Take Carly and Tom--
Tom finds that he is jealous of the time that Carly spends with their three adult kids, and the time she's away from home doing various activities.
Carly is fed up with Tom's jealousy and wants things to change.
Of course there are many reasons why their relationship is strained but one of the most important is that they aren't in sync with their desires for freedom and inter-dependence--and they don't know how to communicate about
The bottom line is that Tom is more dependant on Carly's companionship than she is of his.
And she has become more independent as the years have gone by.
They also aren't clear or sure about how to reconnect deeper in their relationship with everything that's going on.
You may be like Carly and Tom and be wondering about things like...
How do you cope with varying desires for freedom and inter-dependence--while still creating a close, connected, open, loving relationship?
How do you balance and honor a need for independence as well as keep a strong connection?
How do you talk about this sticky issue?
Here are some of our ideas about how to deal with questions about independence, interdependence and connection in relationships...
1. Listen to yourself and know what you want. We know that we sound like a broken record but in order to connect with another person, you have to learn to connect with yourself.
Don't bury your feelings, thinking that you are being "kind" in acting in a certain way that you think the other person wants or needs--or you shouldn't feel that way.
Not necessarily true.
You can't assume that you know best for the other person. You can only listen to what's inside you and then let the other person know in a way that keeps both of you open.
In our example, Tom really wants to connect more with his wife--just the two of them doing something together every once in awhile. When Carly tunes into herself, she wants peace and also wants the freedom to do what she wants to do.
2. Listen to what the other person wants with an open heart and stay in the present moment. Listening with an open heart means not assuming and jumping to conclusions. It also means staying in the "here and now," without leaping to the future or staying stuck in the past.
All kinds of fears and triggers can come up when you tackle these independence/inter-dependence issues.
One of the best ways to stay in the present moment when you're listening is to remember what it is that you love about this person-- and that you want to find out more about him or her.
Our wants and desires change throughout the years so it's very important to learn how to listen without putting your two cents in and not allowing yourself to get triggered by what is said.
Not always easy but just start practicing and see how you get better at it!
3. Express what you want in a way that opens the door between the two of you and isn't defensive, controlling or demanding.
When you adopt a defensive or "pushy" manner when you are expressing what you want, the other person usually energetically "steps back" and can shut down any connection or line of communication--or can lash out at you.
Be aware of your energy as you express yourself. If you're unclear how you "come off" to others, ask a trusted friend for some honest feedback.
Become aware of your tone of voice, your non-verbal mannerisms and your words. You may be surprised at the feedback that you get when you ask.
Tom can let Carly know how much he loves her and wants a deeper connection with her. He can also suggest that they create a special time each week to do something together even if it's just to watch a movie on the couch without interruption.
Carly can let Tom know that she loves being with their kids and her activities and she can search inside herself whether spending special time each week with him would be something that she wants to make a priority in her life or not--and then tell him.
If she doesn't want to spend that time with him, they need to take a serious look at their marriage.
He can also work on ways to stop his jealousy because it interferes with their connection.
If Tom and Carly are going to continue to be together and create a closer and more connected relationship (whatever that means to them) -- they are going to have to figure out how to solve these issues that are created by their differing wants, needs and desires about independence and interdependence.
Love is all about respecting and honoring each other--and that includes honoring and understanding each other's needs for independence and inter-dependence.
Most people have never put any thought into the question of how much independence or interdependence they or their partner needs to feel safe, secure, happy and connected to their partner and vise-versa.
This idea can create some challenges for you in your relationships.
We've also found that this push/pull dynamic can even be the "juice" that keeps your relationship alive and growing--if you keep the lines of communication wide open and you're clear about what you want and what you need.
As with a lot of things we talk about, this requires a
good deal of soul-searching, introspection and getting clear
about what you want, as well as the commitment and
willingness to share these thoughts, issues and info with
In this series, we're looking at the "Relationship Blocks, Barriers and Blunders" to having the love, connection and relationships you really want.
If you missed the previous articles, you can find them here: http://www.RelationshipGold.com/freearticles/index.htm
As we thought about it, one of the biggest blocks to having the relationships that you want is this...
Whatever it is that's going on in your relationship that's causing challenges or making you feel distance, separation or even a lack of connection between you and your partner (or anyone in your life) may not always be what it seems and the way you think it is.
Here's an example of what we mean and why this is important...
Recently, Susie went on a white water rafting trip with her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, staying along the Youghoigheny River in Pennslyvania.
As they hiked the paths by the river, they saw several large signs warning about poisonous snakes so they were on the look out for any sign of a crawling creature.
As they walked around one of the waterfalls, they saw what they thought was a snake's head sticking up from the rocks--ready to strike--and they all had a moment of fear until they realized it was only a stick.
But in that split second of recognizing the stick as a poisonous snake, there was real fear. The stick actually looked like a real snake!
So it is in our relationships.
Very often, we might see or hear something and make a snap judgment, being sure that it is one way--only to find later that we are wrong.
These snap judgments come from our previous experiences, our beliefs, our repetitive thoughts and even unfounded fears that we've created.
Just like the sign warning about poisonous snakes, our experiences, beliefs, repetitive thoughts and the cellular memory we hold in our bodies "warn" us about danger--whether it's real or imagined.
To the person who has jealousy issues--you may get triggered and become upset, anxious or fearful when your partner runs out to the grocery store or to fill up the car with gas and doesn't tell you "they're leaving" and when they are coming back.
If you're someone who has trouble speaking up and saying what you want or need, it might be possible that you get tricked occasionally into thinking you don't have choice in certain situations when you really do.
The number of ways in which we can think (or believe) something is one way when it's really quite different is staggering.
Take Robert and Polly for example...
They've been married for about 15 years and there's a "pattern" that Polly just told us about that she noticed in their relationship...
This pattern isn't something that is going to threaten her marriage but it can sure create some interesting challenges if she and her husband allow it to...
Here's the example...
Ever now and then when Robert comes home from work, he's distant and not very communicative.
At those times, Polly becomes fearful that he's angry with her for some unknown reason and asks him--
"Is anything wrong? Are you angry with me?"
The truth is that when this happens, Robert is usually tired from work and just wants to be left alone for a little while--and he isn't irritated with Polly until she questions him. Then he becomes irritated and he pulls away from her even more.
What can Polly do?
Here are some ideas to help you if you find that "It's not always what it seems and the way you think it is"...
1. Recognize the pattern. In Polly's case, she can see that this is a pattern or part of their "relationship dance." You have to recognize any pattern before you can change it.
2. Recognize your thought patterns and question them.
Polly can remember what she had been thinking at those times and learn to question her thoughts--because the truth is--she doesn't really know why Robert appears to be distant. Guessing doesn't bring you closer to the truth.
3. Come to an agreement about how you are going to handle future situations. When they are not in the middle of it, Polly can ask Robert what he needs during those times and she can tell him what she needs. It might be that he takes 30 minutes by himself and then they have the agreement to be together in some way later on in the evening.
It's always interesting that sometimes we make up a story that some problem, challenge or upset is about us when this may not be the case at all.
Getting to the "truth" of a situation or a dynamic takes opening your heart to one another and some times that's not easy but always worth doing.
Just remember--it's not always as it seems!
Sometimes it CAN be something totally different.
Last week, we began a series of articles we're calling "Relationship Blocks, Barriers and Blunders" to having the love, connection and relationships you really want.
This newsletter article below is the 3rd article in the series.
If you missed part one you can find it here
Part two can be found here.
As we've been thinking about this topic of relationship blocks, barriers and blunders, we realize that there is no end to the ways we all create blocks and barriers to having what we want in our lives.
We've also been thinking about the fact that if you allow it to, anything (and we do mean anything) can be a barrier to love and connection.
It's been our experience that any "thing" or "person" isn't what creates the barrier. It's our thoughts about the "thing" or "person" that separate us from having what we want.
Here's an example of what we're talking about.
Recently, a man wrote to us and said "One thing I have run across mostly about keeping a relationship or even trying to get one is that I find women are looking for someone who has money or security. I don't have either and it's hard to have a relationship."
He went on to say "A guy has to have money or security to win and keep a relationship. I have found this out 7 times in my life. And now I have not dated in over one and a half years. It just hurts too much to keep trying and know they leave to find someone with money and security."
While money and security might be important to many women, there are certainly many more women out there who have created their own money and security and don't need them from their partners.
There are other women who value companionship, love or any number of things higher than money or security when looking for a mate. There are many men in the world who (if asked) would tell you that they don't have a lot of money but the do have love or a great relationship.
So, just like a lot of people, this man's thoughts and beliefs are (in our opinion) his own worst enemy. He isn't questioning them to determine whether they are true or not. He's allowing his thoughts to keep him from finding and creating the love that he wants.
We're also guessing that low self-esteem could be a big contributor to his problems as well.
No matter what the reason for his relationship challenges we couldn't help but wonder...
What if he changed his belief about women and about the possibilities for his future--both in the love AND money departments?
What if he saw possibilities instead of defeat and took steps to move in the direction he wants?
What we would like to suggest to him or anyone who doesn't have love, relationship or connection you want in your life--change your thoughts and you can remove barriers!
Last night, Susie was with a small group of really vibrant and alive women who were also mothers whose bodies had changed somewhat since their days before having kids. One of the things they talked about was how hard it was to buy a bathing suit these days.
Because they felt like they didn't have the slim bodies they used to have, buying a bathing suit was intimidating to them. They thought that their bodies were too big in various places--compared to magazine models and younger women.
As they talked, they all agreed that body image comes from your thoughts and beliefs. How you carry yourself and how you present yourself to the world depends on these habitual thoughts and beliefs you tell yourself over and over.
How much we love and accept ourselves depends on how much love and connection we can accept from others.
It's not whether you have money, a great body, or anything else that allows you to have the love, passion and connection but it's your thoughts that can open the door to having what you want.
One woman who bought one of our books told us that her negative thoughts had kept her separated from her husband. By keeping a "Relationship journal"--writing down the things that were good about her partner and her relationship, she was able to change how she felt about her relationship.
How about you?
What thoughts are keeping you from the love, passion and connection that you want?
As you go about your day and your week, question your thoughts that create distance and negativity inside you and with others.
Test them and really look at them to make sure the thoughts you're having (and believing) are working for you in creating the relationships and life you want instead of working against you.
Question the blocks that your thinking creates for you.
Open yourself to more love and happiness.
Last week, we began a series of articles we're calling "Relationship Blocks, Barriers and Blunders" to having the love, connection and relationships you really want.
This newsletter article below is the 2nd article in the series. If you missed part one you can find it here
We've been talking a lot lately about barriers to love, connection and closeness in your relationships and...
One thing we've discovered that's important
in creating close, connected relationships is not only how we feel about ourselves but also how we feel about our body.
Think about it...
Do you love yourself?
Do you love your body?
Do you like your physical appearance?
These days, almost everyone we talk to wants to look and feel better about their body and the worst part for most people is they let their body and their appearance be a barrier to the love, connection and intimacy that they really want.
Since we want to help you eliminate ALL barriers to connection and closeness in your relationships, we just HAD to let you know about this...
Our good friend Andrea is a weight loss coach with one of the most fantastic and positive approaches that we've ever heard of... and her client success rate is incredible.
What we like about her is her encouraging, heart-centered approach. She used to be overweight too, so she really "gets it".
It's our belief that no matter what your body size or type, you can have the love, passion and connection you really want.
However, if your weight or appearance is an issue for you and ...you're interested in learning a completely different, but proven way to lose weight in time for summer, we think you will really enjoy the fantastic video that Andrea posted here: www.PassionateHeart.com/Andrea
We know that not everyone who gets our emails is interested in losing weight... but this video is so good, and so right on target, that we felt like we had to pass it along.
If you're not interested in losing weight in a conscious, healthy way, but you know someone who is, you might want to forward it to them.
Yes. It's THAT good.
Don't allow a poor body image to keep you from the love,
passion and connection that you want. Take steps to make a
positive change in your life that will lead you to the love
and relationships that you want.
If there's any part of you that wants more love or a better relationship and are wondering what you might want to do to create it...
You'll be excited to know that this is the first in a series of articles we're going to write on the subject of "blocks, barriers and blunders" that keep us from having all the love, passion, connection and intimacy we want.
So, what are these blocks, barriers and blunders that keep us from having the love passion and connection we want that we're talking about?
There's certainly a whole lot more to it than this but if theres a challenge in ANY area of your life, you can know that it's something in one of these areas...
Everything else is just the details.
You can always trace any challenge back to one of these areas and here's a practical example to illustrate this...
Someone wrote to us recently and asked us...
"How can you stop thinking about the past and only think about the good things you and your partner have now?"
This is an excellent question and one we'll answer in this way...
The person who wrote to us didn't say whether it was 'their' past together or the past before getting together that they couldn't stop thinking negatively about so here are our thoughts...
In this situation, If you can't stop thinking about the past (and it's causing challenges in the relationship) then one of two things is going on...
Either you have quite a few thoughts that you continue to think on an ongoing basis in which you aren't questioning the validity of and these thoughts seem be a trigger for you and are keeping you "stuck"...
...you have unhealed issues from your past or current relationship that need to be identified, looked at squarely and healed before they destroy your relationship or marriage.
If you think about it this person's situation is no different than anything you might be going through now or in the future. It goes back to one of those five issues we described above that need to be solved.
To help you with any relationship challenge, question, issue or concern here are some powerful questions to ask yourself to help you determine where the problem is and how you can release it...
Are the things I'm thinking about this situation actually true or are they things I'm only worried or concerned about that aren't actually true?
What are the beliefs I hold that could be contributing negatively to this situation?
Are these beliefs I hold moving me closer to or further from the love, passion and connection I want?
What attitudes do I have that are contributing to this situation? What beliefs do I have that are contributing to this situation?
Are the things I've done been helpful in this situation or have they taken me further from what I want?
Is there a better or different strategy I could try in this situation to help us work through this situation?
As you know from reading this newsletter, we're huge fans of the power questions in making big changes and shifts in your life.
The questions above are just a few and you're certainly encouraged to come up with your own questions to help you make shifts in your relationships and life.
So, what do all these questions have to do with relationship blocks, barriers and
Most people tend to think (erroneously) that the problems of life are 'out there" instead of "in here" or inside you.
If you are having challenges in your relationships (or any aspect of your life for that matter), asking yourself the right questions and being open to new answers is a powerful strategy to use for making shifts for the better.
Asking yourself the right questions and being open to the answer also requires you take personal responsibility for what you are creating in your relationships and life.
This "taking personal responsibility" is, in our opinion, something that we need much more of in a world where nearly everyone wants to point the finger outward and place blame elsewhere.
We believe that we are ALL the creators in our lives.
Not someone else. It's us.
Please understand that we're NOT saying that there isn't a god, creator or higher power that created all of us and our world. That's not what we're saying at all.
What we are saying is this-- not taking responsibility for what happens in our lives is definitely a barrier to connection with the people in our lives.
What we have discovered is this: When we take
responsibility for our lives and everything in them-- the
problems, issues and challenges we have seem to start
working themselves out.
If you've been getting this newsletter for any length of time, bought one of our courses or worked with us through coaching, you know that we talk a lot about creating conscious agreements and their importance in creating a relationship that's as close and connected as possible.
Recently, one of our readers wrote to us and asked this question...
"Can you give me an example of what a conscious agreement is? How would I go about making one?"
Conscious agreements are funny things. If you don't make them, you can get caught up in some pretty big misunderstandings, assumptions and disagreements.
If you do make them and keep them, the two of you can build trust in each other and in your relationship--and things can go a whole lot smoother in your life.
But both people have to agree without either of you feeling like you've "caved in" to the other.
Here's a very simple example of an agreement...
Yesterday, Otto and his sister were coming back from being with their dad because he was having surgery. Otto's sister told him that since he bought the gasoline and drove, she would buy their dinner last night. They made a conscious agreement.
We create these kinds of agreements all of the time, sometimes without even being aware that we're making them--and we're sure that you do too!
These kinds of agreements seem easy and effortless but others don't.
When there is a sticking point between you and another person--a topic that triggers both of you, making agreements doesn't seem to come so easily.
The reason why you create conscious agreements about these issues is so you'll keep your connection or get it back quickly when they arise again.
When you create conscious agreements in your relationship, you'll also have a much better chance at getting your expectations, wants, needs and desires met.
Here's an example of what we mean...
When we first moved into our new home, Susie's cousins (who are the proclaimed "decorators" in the family) came in from out of town to help us decorate one weekend.
As we drove from store to store, buying items for our home, Susie became more and more agitated. Much to our embarrassment, the two of us became angry and irritated with each other and we didn't know why.
We hadn't realized that the source of our irritation was that we hadn't consciously decided how much we were going to spend during this "decorator" weekend nor how we were going to pay for what we were buying.
Talk about going to sleep!
So when we realized what we had done, we decided to stop spending until we could sit down and figure it all out.
We also agreed that we would make conscious decisions ahead of time before repairs or improvements were made to the house. And we created a "home improvement" fund that we both contribute to.
Now this may not be your issue but we're sure that your life could run a whole lot smoother if you made conscious agreements with someone about something that is a source of contention.
So how do you do that?
Here are some ideas...
1. Recognize that you need an agreement and that it would be helpful for your relationship to have one.
2. Ask for ideas from the other person and listenfrom the standpoint that it's only information. Don't close down because the person may have different thoughts than you have.
3. Give your ideas with the intention that these are just your ideas and something better may surface as the two of you talk.
4. Look for where you agree and start there if you can't seem to get on the same page about everything.
5. It's helpful to have a time frame identified if it's something that is time-sensitive.
6. Make sure that you both want to do what you are agreeing to and that your agreement is clear.
Make sure that you say something like this... "Okay, here's what we're agreeing to... Is this your understanding?"
The two of us have discovered that making clear,
conscious agreements with the people in our lives and with
each other creates more love and connection. We're sure that
they can in your life too.
You could have knocked us over with a feather when we realized this foundational relationship truth!
In fact, we didn't realize it at the time, but the whole soul mate mystique is based on this idea.
Here's what we're talking about and it's a really simple way of understanding relationships (especially ones that work and are successful).
Every single one of us has a "story" about ourselves, our life and our relationships that we think is how we want them to be.
When we are drawn to someone and get into a relationship with them--whether it's for friendship or intimate partnership, we are responding to a similar, familiar story that we see in this person which matches our story.
Occasionally, when we get into a relationship with someone, we might say to ourselves something like... "You're so incredible," "I really like you," "You have a similar work ethic and like the same things I like," "I feel like I've known you forever" or even something like "I feel like I've met my soulmate"
When we say anything like these things, we can know that we have just met someone who matches our "story"--or matches a part of our story.
Of course, there's never a 100% match in stories and when it comes to our relationships... that's where misunderstandings, assumptions and conflicts come in.
That's when you say to yourself, "What happened to the person I married or fell in love with or chose as my friend?"
Here's an example of what we mean...
Melinda and Bill had been married for several years, with two children. When the kids came along, their agreement had been that Melinda would stay at home with them (plus working a few hours from home) and Bill would make most of the money to support them all.
For a couple of years, their "stories" matched pretty well. Bill and Melinda seemed to get what they each wanted.
Increasingly, however, Melinda noticed herself feeling resentful that her childcare responsibilities tended to be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Even when Bill was home, it seemed that if one of their children needed to go somewhere, got hurt, or just wanted a peanut butter sandwich, Melinda was the one everyone assumed would do what needed to be done.
She loved Bill and the children dearly but she just wanted a break from time to time and to not always feel "on the job."
But every time she thought about challenging their "story" and asking Bill to help out more with the kids, Melinda's stomach knotted up and she felt guilty because this had been their agreement. After all, he was doing his part earning the money...
So here's where conflict and disconnection can easily happen.
If Melinda allows her guilt to keep her silent about what she's feeling and she still feels resentful, her feelings will still come out--maybe in cutting, sarcastic remarks and in ways that unknowingly create distance between them.
And Bill doesn't even know that she wants to change their current story and is in the dark as to why she's acting the way she is.
If Melinda complains to Bill that he doesn't help out, he'll become defensive and push her away.
So what could Melinda do?
Here are some ideas for when your "stories" no longer match and how to rewite them so that they do once again...
1. Recognize what you are feeling. In Melinda's case, she sees her resentment, tiredness and guilt and decides she can't ignore it.
2. Get clear about what you want. Melinda wants to share parenting with Bill and when she really thought about it, she would like some time for herself to do something like take a yoga class.
3. Focus on where your "stories" still overlap. Melinda can tell Bill that she still loves staying at home with their kids and is very happy being in love and married to him.
4. Communicate your feelings and your desires without blame or guilt so that the other person stays open to you. Be specific and don't generalize. Melinda can ask for the two of them to talk about how she can have some time for herself and how Bill can also get his needs met. She doesn't say to him "I want more help with the kids" but rather is specific in her request.
5. Listen to how your partner wants your lives together to be--without getting defensive. Bill may even want to have more time with the kids but feels that she has had it all under control.
6. Negotiate how you want your new "story" together to be and how you want to keep your love and connection strong and growing.
So how about you?
Is there someone in your life who has a story that used to match yours but now is a source of irritation and conflict?
We're not suggesting that you say or do anything that's NOT congruent with your values or other commitments at all.
We are suggesting that as your relationships with the people closest to you evolve and change, you may want to explore how the ideas of other people and the ways that they want to live are just as important and just as valid as yours.
Can you see how you may start looking at how you can both open to each other and shift or change your stories to be a better match with each other?
Love starts with similar stories and can change over
time. Don't be afraid to make some changes that will create
more love and connection in your life