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Monthly Archives: November 2016
A mother of three recently confessed to me in private, “I just don’t have it in me to work on my relationship or give to my husband. I feel so depleted and spent. My heart is shut down. I go from work to taking care of our kids and back to work again. I am over the top done. I swear, if he asks me for one more thing, I am going to scream.”
We women are typically the caregivers, the homemakers, the child caretakers, and sometimes the money managers and breadwinners too. In our nuclear family or single homes, there is often much more to do than we have time for.
When our lives are full at work and at home, we have a tendency to put other people’s concerns ahead of our own. We are so busy responding to the needs of our kids and clients and spouse or dates, that we often don’t even know how we feel, much less what we desire. We don’t know what to do that would be nourishing for our heart and soul.
We aren’t aware that we haven’t been paying attention to our own needs until we burst into tears or scream at someone we love.
Without realizing it, we get so caught in the logistics of life, that we forget to cry and laugh with the people closest to us. We begin to feel lost, disconnected and alone, and we begin to make up that there is something wrong with us because we have all the trappings of a good life but we still feel so lonely inside. We forget that we are beautiful and powerful and lovable, that our lives have a larger purpose, and that we are not victims, but rather master creators of our own lives.
That was true of Laura. She was so disconnected from her beauty and power and humor that she withdrew into protectiveness around other people. At the last retreat, she was so supported, loved and celebrated, that she is now taking acting classes, feels more open and comfortable meeting and interacting with people she meets, and recently had to adjust the mirrors in both her cars because she is sitting taller in herself!
If you would like to be reminded of the perfection of your life, including the messy parts, and if you would like to reconnect with your power and purpose and beauty, and if you would like to devote some nourishing time to yourself just because you deserve it, you are invited to attend Love’s Secret, a retreat for women who want more.
In this intimate retreat, limited to 16 women, you will get to sink down into safe space and connect with yourself like you haven’t in a very long time, perhaps ever.
You will actually get to “feel” your feelings, talk and be heard, and be supported to expand into your power. You will be fed nourishing organic meals, receive a massage if you wish, take long walks, and be supported by a group of supportive sisters to rediscover your unique specialness.
This retreat is so empowering and nourishing, that some women attend every time it is offered! Vicky, who is about to attend for the third time, said, “This retreat changed my life. It totally transformed my relationship with my husband and my children. I changed so much that even my daughter commented on how much happier I am!”
If you are longing to nourish your soul, your mind and your body, please join us for a retreat that promises to rejuvenate you from the inside out.
Eva, a woman who attended our Give Yourself to Love weekend, said after the first day, “I made love with God last night. The only difference with the man in my bed, was me!”
Another woman on the verge of divorce said, “After the first four hours this weekend, I got everything I wanted. We are back in love with each other. It’s like night and day. He hasn’t been affectionate with me for 8 years. He couldn’t keep his hands off of me this weekend. Something really opened up in him and healed him this weekend.”
When we fall in love, our lover becomes like a god or goddess in our love-struck eyes. As one person described it, “I remember the first day I ever looked into your eyes and felt my whole world flip.”
In that glorious honeymoon stage, we highlight the best of our partner in our mind’s eye. We uplift them with our words of appreciation and whispers of adoration. We go out of our way to generously give to them – touch, love notes, meals, flowers, gifts. We hang on to their every word, our hearts bursting at the seams with love!
When we meet our newborn child, we are likewise overcome with profound deep love. And it only grows over time. The bubbling delight of a child experiencing the magic of a butterfly for the first time delights us. We applaud their efforts at crawling or walking or later learning to ride a bike. We treasure their art creations with crayons and colored paper. We want to hold them and kiss them and squeeze their little cheeks. We express our love for our children in a thousand different ways.
Same thing when we see someone help a blind woman cross the street or a person with disabilities win a hard-earned race or a bubbly new puppy or kitten play with a ball – we are overcome with love and good feeling.
In each of these instances, we are seeing through the lens of love. We are seeing the best in someone – their innocence, positivity, and possibility.
Contrast that to when we are annoyed, angry or upset. At these times, we are seeing the worst in someone. We highlight what we don’t like, what we don’t want, or what we wish wasn’t there. We justify our bad feelings with recalls of past behaviors where they fell short. We circle around in negative thinking and lash out with hurtful or harsh words until our upsets take on a life of their own.
When we look through the lens of judgment, we cut ourselves off from love.
To feel love again, we need to shift our perception.
As Marcel Proust says, “Discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes.”
To create for ourselves a new experience, we need to turn our attention away from what we don’t want and put it on what we appreciate. We need to return to highlighting virtues rather than weaknesses. And we need to consciously amplify our experience by deliberately choosing to think about and express what we love.
This practice of shifting what you look for and how you see has been shown to be powerfully effective.
For example, we encouraged a couple to take on an experiment with their teenage son. He was about 17 years of age, wore a beanie hat with long hair that covered his eyes, smoked pot, got bad grades, and barely conversed with his parents. His parents were judgmental about his choices, and angry about his lack of connection and conversation. They had already tried everything they could think of to alter their relationship with him, but to no avail.
For one week, they decided to see their son at his best, to see him through the lens of love in their mind’s eye. Every morning for five minutes, they both imagined their son being powerful, loving, vibrant, smart, communicative and happy. It wasn’t easy at first, but they finally found a positive track and stuck with it. Before the week was over, they were both stunned when their son joined them downstairs for dinner with his hat off for some real conversation!
This couple changed their view of their son, and he in turn, changed in response.
Another woman we worked with who had been estranged from her sister for over twelve years took on this same experiment. Within a week, her sister called out of the blue, and they were able to successfully heal an age-old wound.
Mark and Lana moved back in with each other, more in love than ever, after being separated for almost a year, just from seeing each other with “fresh eyes”.
And last week, a couple in tears whispered in my ear their gratitude to us for saving their marriage, simply by recommending that they quit complaining, and instead appreciate each other every night before bed.
When we see the world through the eyes of love, our whole perspective changes. We see opportunities instead of challenges; we see the possibilities and potential in people and situations, instead of their limitations.
When we see the best in someone, we unchain them from the prison we’ve crafted with our judgmental word and thoughts. We free them to realize their full potential.
Not only do you change when I see you at your best, but I change too. I become a higher version of myself when I see you at your best. When I see your courage, I see my own. When I see your power, I connect with my own capabilities and competencies. When I focus on your generosity, I see my own giving heart. When I appreciate your efforts to do your best no matter what, I find compassion for my own shortcomings. When I see the depth of your love and care, I connect with my own loving nature.
Love is the only lens through which all things are possible.
It is in this magical place where we are empowered and supported to call forth the best of ourselves and each other. Love brings healing and forgiveness. It transforms hurt, fear, and conflict into harmony and love. Seeing through the eyes of love catapults us into a space of possibility where miracles and dreams have their best shot at being realized.
Are you up for an experiment?
Bring to mind someone with whom it would benefit you to see through the eyes of love. Begin by saying to yourself, “I am willing to see this person through the eyes of love.” Then, see them at their best. Focus on something you love about this person and amplify it with your attention. Meditate on their Full Potential. Let this vision be your prayer.
And then follow up your practice with action. Appreciate them this holiday. Give thanks for some quality, skill or virtue they possess. Write a letter, a poem, a song, or a text, or make a phone call to express your appreciation and grateful heart.
There is truly no greater gift that you can give to anyone (or yourself) than the gift of seeing through the eyes of love.
And honestly, there is no gift more greatly remembered.
After the last blog post I put out, Chris sent me this email about his girlfriend:
“I am afraid of her anger. I avoid confrontational things and I get silent and shut down when she gets angry. I don’t feel safe to express my wants and feelings if I think it is not what she wants. Then, I get even more distant because I am resentful.”
Chris is highlighting some of the biggest signs of what it means to “lose your power with women”:
– Have trouble saying No
– Afraid of her anger
– Avoid confrontation
– Shut down and get quiet
– Feel angry and resentful
Do any of these ring true for you? Do you recognize them from your own relationships?
The urge to avoid an intense outburst or a “prolonged session of processing”, as one man called it, is easily understandable.
But avoiding an outburst today fuels ten outbursts tomorrow. It’s like pissing your pants on a cold winter day to get warm: extremely short-lived benefit, followed by freezing misery.
In other words, it’s detrimental to relationship.
In Chris’ example, his girlfriend probably thinks he doesn’t care about her and doesn’t have the guts or ability to see a conflict through to resolution.
Plus, in seeing him turn away from her, she’s likely to conclude that something is wrong with her.
Then there’s the impact on Chris himself.
By not expressing his feelings and wants because they might not be what SHE wants, he is dis-empowering himself. In essence, he’s telling himself, “My wants and needs are not important – they might even be bad and make her mad.”
One of the central aspects of being powerful, of being in your power, is to be able to guide yourself from the inside out. In other words, to have your “emotional center of gravity” inside yourself.
This in stark contrast to Chris’ experience of trying to guide his actions based on what he thinks SHE wants. That is, to have his center of gravity outside himself.
For any of us to be powerful men and have powerful relationships, we need to be solidly rooted in our own wants, desires, and values, while at the same time being attuned to our partner.
Here are a couple of actions you could take …
- Look at yourself: Where do guide yourself by what you think other people want?
- Take a risk: Say what you really feel and want, even if it’s not popular.
- Check out the Men’s Retreat I’m offering in January. It’s all about finding your power as a man. (It was sold out last week, but I managed to get the lodge to open up another 4 spots). Click here for more info …
Last week, I sent out a video about men losing power with women (here ).
Definitely struck a nerve. The day after, Brian sent me this email …
It’s a scary spot to go with my partner. Feels like if I go there she will use that against me in some way that will hurt me or the relationship. It will get out that I’m really not a man; I’m a puss that can’t even stand up to his woman!”
Boy, could I relate to that! For the larger part of my life, I did not show a shred of vulnerability to my woman partners, for exactly the reasons Brian stated.
I thought it would make me look like a wuss! That I’d lose all my power and be totally humiliated.
This was probably the biggest reason I crashed and burned relationship after relationship.
Now, I know you might be thinking …
Isn’t that just because Brian (or me) are old-fashioned and haven’t caught up to the new Times of Equality? I mean, c’mon, men today know about feelings and being vulnerable and embracing their feminine side.
Yes, many men are certainly a lot more comfortable with emotions, vulnerability, and sharing openly than our fathers or grandfathers ever were, no question.
But I have a theory – based on work with hundreds of men around these issues – that even though we are in “new times” where men can be sensitive and feminine, as well as powerful and strong …
That deep in our psyches, there is still a strong voice that says to not get too open, too vulnerable, too feminine, with our partners, or with anyone.
I think we men have an in-built, ancient, protective mechanism that has us either clam up or get pissed when feeling questioned, threatened, or unappreciated in our intimate relationships.
Now, I’m well aware that lots of men are highly conscious and engage in diligent self-discovery, shadow work, relationship work, you name it. I happen to know that Brian is such a man. I’d like to think I am, too.
Men like that are in the historically ironic situation that it’s easier for them to be real and open with other men, for example in their men’s groups, than it is with their woman at home.
Which sounds kinda crazy. According to stereotype, she should be able to be empathetic and understanding of our fears and vulnerabilities, right?
Those same stereotypes would suggest it should be way more risky and difficult to be vulnerable in a group of men than with a woman we’re intimate with.
Brian even said as much: “Crazy thinking for sure but then again sometimes I’m not too far from that craziness!:)”
In other words, he knows it’s crazy, but finds himself doing it anyway.
So back to the question about losing power with women …
If you or me or Brian, or any man, is afraid to show his vulnerability and feelings to his woman, and thinks to himself: She will use that against me. It will get out that I’m really not a man; I’m a puss that can’t even stand up to his woman!”
What impact do you think that would have on his relationship with his wife/girlfriend/partner?
Well, for one, he would have to protect himself from his own partner. NOT a good situation, to say the least.
And even more importantly, what impact would it have on himself? On his sense of worth? On his ability to be a powerful, whole man?
You bet. Detrimental. Self-sabotaging. Painful. Fucking “ouch”, man!
Food for thought, I hope …
And if you’re interested in a deep-dive into your own power as a man, check out the retreat, Where Is Your Power And Heart, Man?
When we fight or are stressed in relationship, we engage in a variety of protective postures and activities. We scream, pout, run away, shut down, cry, plead, deny, analyze, etc. Each of these moves are designed to reduce the discomfort we feel. However, there are many things we do or say when hurt, angry or afraid that actually make matters worse in the heat of an argument. Here are just a few of the most common mistakes people make when upset or triggered that escalate fights.
Generalizing or Bringing Up the Past: When upset about something, we tend to remember all of the other times we felt similarly. This tendency causes us to generalize our thoughts and feelings out beyond what we are experiencing now. We tend to think in terms of “always” and “never” when we are angry or hurt. “I never get what I want in this relationship.” “You always criticize me!” “You are never happy with what I do.” Generalizations like these only make whatever you are experiencing bigger. They also can overwhelm both you and your partner with a feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness. And they can inspire defensiveness in your partner, as they will want to argue with your generalized assertions.
Bringing up the past is another common mistake couples make. When you bring up the last time you felt hurt like you do now, and the time before that, and the time before that, old wounds get re-stimulated. While people use the past to add evidence to their claim that things are not getting any better, and to justify their hurt and anger, they also cloud the issue by bringing in too many incidents and unresolved feelings to the table. Generalizing and bringing up the past is confusing and prevents couples from focusing on and resolving the presenting complaint. With ten issues on the table, for example, it is challenging to know where to start for tackling a problem or addressing a concern.
A good practice when upset is to avoid generalizations and avoid bringing up the past. In particular, avoid using the words “never” and “always” altogether. Instead, keep your focus on this moment, on what you are experiencing right now. Instead of saying, “You always criticize me”, say “I am feeling criticized right now.” Instead of saying “you are always late”, say “I am angry you were late today.”
Breaking up in the middle of a fight: This generalizing tendency, along with a strong desire for immediate relief from pain, results in some couples breaking up, or threatening to break up, every time they fight. Breaking up in fights, while intending to stop pain in the moment, actually only escalates fear and anger. Breaking up adds uncertainty of the relationship and future to the mix of whatever breakdown is at hand and makes the problem even bigger and more overwhelming.
As with generalizations, breaking up makes it difficult to focus on and resolve the issue at hand. You can’t express your anger about your partner being late nor can you creatively explore solutions, for example, if she/he is packing their bags to move out.
A good practice is to avoid talking about splitting up in the middle of upset. Take time outs instead, and re-group once you have calmed down and can think clearly again. If you still want to consider the possibility of separation or divorce once the heat of the moment has passed, that is the time to discuss it.
“You” statements: It is always easier for us to point the finger in blame when we are upset, and to see what the other person said or did to contribute to the breakdown or upset. And we are usually are all too willing and eager to point those out in the heat of upset. “You never help around the house!” “You never listen!” You statements like these will invariably put your partner on the defensive and can easily escalate your fight. You statements also have the unfortunate side effect of inspiring the other person to hurl you statements right back.
As tempting as it is, steer away from talking about the other person. Instead, talk about yourself – what you are feeling and thinking. It can be useful to know, that the closer you are to telling the truth about your own experience in this moment, the less arguable it is. For example, instead of saying, “You never listen!”, say “I am not feeling heard right now.” Your partner cannot argue with your experience of not feeling heard. This shift in focus will significantly shift your experience in the midst of upset, and is unlikely to add fuel to the fire.
Talking about the problem:
We have a tendency when we are upset to go on and on about our complaint. We really believe if the other person knew how dissatisfied we are, they would change and “fix” our complaint. However, unbeknownst to all of us, the more we focus on the problem, the bigger and worse it becomes. More often than not, talking about the problem IS the problem. Instead, share your complaints as requests. For example, instead of saying, “You are so critical”, say, “Would you be willing to say something you appreciate about me?” Move towards solving your complaint or breakdown and offer suggestions for how things might be better.
These are just some of the common mistakes couples make in arguments. Be gentle with yourself as you learn to embody these new practices. Remember, practice makes perfect, so play with practicing what works!
And finally, here’s a very common question we get …
A Common Question from Couples
What do I do when my partner and I are disconnected?
The tendency when we feel disconnected is to assume it is the other person who is the source of the distance. We blame, we wait or we resign ourselves to accepting distance as the “way it is”.
When disconnected, ask yourself what you are not saying? Where are you holding back? What are you not asking for? How are you contributing to the lack of intimacy? Love is what is present when there is nothing in the way. Look for what you might be holding in the way of your love for your partner. Many doors will open when you look at yourself as the Source of your experience.
Intimacy = Into Me You See. If you want to be closer to someone, reveal more about yourself to the person you want to be intimate with. Be as honest, real and vulnerable as you are able. Make “I” statements. Talk about you – avoid talking about them. Authenticity builds trust and increases intimacy.
Be what you want. You want closeness. Be close. Reach out. Touch. You want intimacy. Reveal yourself. Make eye contact.
Ask what your partner needs to feel safe to be intimate with you. Listen with your heart. Expect them to meet you. Assume that they too want to be intimate. Or they wouldn’t have chosen to be with you….