Category Archives: Couples

Judgments In Your Relationship

Do you hate feeling judged in your relationship? Or you are you perhaps the one judging your partner? Either way, you and pretty much everyone else.

The judgments we have of one another comes out of our mouths as complaints, criticisms, and accusations. We say things like, OMG, “You’re so stubborn. Why do you always have to micro-manage me? You are totally self-absorbed! Why do you have to be so judgmental?!

When we talk to each other like that, we infuse our communication with irritation, anger, and hurt, and not only do we not get what we want in terms of listening, understanding, and harmony; it also sours the mood in our house; it feels bad.

On the other hand, theres’ no denying that as humans, we make up judgments. On one hand, that’s a good thing, right? We use our sound and positive judgment to navigate the world, to determine what activities are safe and what we should avoid, and to make judgments about what we value and what we don’t. So try as we might to be non-judgmental, these brains of ours are judgment machines.

But what are good ways to use our judgments, to build connection and understanding instead of distance and irrigation.

Try this quick experiment … think of a judgment you have about your partner or someone else? Do it now …

Ok, now ask yourself … “How am I just like that?”

The judgments we make about others are a reflection of aspects of ourselves that we don’t see or honor. For example, I have often judged other people – partners, friends, co-workers, politicians, you name it – for being judgmental and narrow-minded. How am I just like that? Well, in the same moment I judge someone else for being judgmental, I’m obviously doing the same thing.

But I’m judgmental in so many ways … I make up judgments about people who aren’t willing to work; or people who buy ten times more toilet paper than they need, and leave nothing for the next customer … at home, I judge Sonika for being too fuzzy with our cat, or for not using the chef’s knife correctly.

When I ask myself, How am I just like that?, I even the playing field. I stop making myself superior to you. Cuz that’s what happens when I judge you … I effectively say, I am better than you. When I judge you for being stubborn, I’m implying that I’m not; when I judge you for being selfish, I’m implying that I’m not … I’m basically declaring that I’m better than you. Most of the time, that’s rubbish. We both make up judgments about ourselves and each other. We both get irritated when we see behaviors we don’t like. At times, we both think we are superior to the other person, cuz we don’t do “that thing”.

Most of the time we are blind to how we are just like those we judge. Just yesterday I was coaching a man who is having a hard time being direct with his client who is always changing appointments on him last minute. He judges her as not being strong enough and direct enough with her employees who are requesting she cancel these appointments to accommodate their needs. He can’t see how he is just like her.

We worked with a couple last week who are on the brink of divorce. She is pissed off at how angry her husband is all the time (see it? She’s angry that he’s angry!) A woman who came to see us is emotionally shut down because her husband isn’t open to intimacy and connection. And a man quit talking to his partner because she isn’t available to physically connect with him as often as he wants. Each of these people are a match to those they are judging.

When we can slow things down to explore how we are just like the people we are judging in these specific ways, we open ourselves to seeing shadowed aspects of ourselves we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. When I can see how I am just like you, it helps me to drop my arrogance, step into humility, and find compassion.

Not only that, but exploring “How am I just like that?” is a great equalizer … I’m just like you, at least in some ways. From that place, we can meet as equals, and if we still want to talk about changing our behaviors, interactions or patterns, we can do it with compassion and humility.

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Safety vs. Adventure In Relationship (And How To Change When You Don’t “Feel Like It”)

As individuals, and in relationship, we have two conflicting needs. One is for stability, familiarity, intimacy, and safety. The other is for newness, adventure, risk, danger, and feeling alive.

[watch a short video version of this article on our YouTube Channel …]

When we get too much or little of one or the other, problems arise. When we feel totally comfortable, familiar and safe with each other, we often get bored and we begin to take our relationship for granted.

Couples will often unconsciously create fights or upsets, just to “shake things up” and create some aliveness. Unfortunately, that has unpleasant side-effects. If you’re familiar with Ester Perel’s work, you might have heard her talk about how infidelity often happens as an attempt to infuse adventure, risk, and excitement into a relationship that feels too familiar and routinized.

On the other hand, if we have loads of risk, adventure, and excitement, but with very little safety and familiarity, we get scared and can’t relax, and from there, might act in overly controlling, anxious, and jealous ways.

To change what you do and the results you produce in your relationships, you might have to stretch a bit, take some actions that will support you to feel better. You might not want to, but do it anyway. Make choices that keep the energy moving. Don’t wait until you “feel like” doing something before you do it. Just do it!! It always seems impossible until it is done!

“I don’t feel like it” is the great enemy of positive change. “I don’t feel like it” is the soundtrack of status quo. It’s tricky, because you are often trained and encouraged to listen to your feelings and follow your feelings. Heck, if you don’t “listen to your feelings” enough, you might even get criticized for it. However, in this context, waiting to take action until you “feel like it” results in stagnation.

Don’t use your feelings and body (depression, boredom, tired, etc.) as an excuse to remain disengaged in life. Instead of saying, “I am too tired to go out with you”, own your choice, “I am choosing to not go out with you.” This will help your body not have to get sick for you to express your feelings and desires. Or push past tired and depressed, and get yourself up and out anyway!

Instead of letting your feelings lead, let your vision of who you want to be and how you want to feel lead. This will more than likely help you feel way better than staying home watching TV or sleeping an extra hour or two anyway. This is true in relationship as well as in the rest of your life. If you keep waiting till “you feel like it”, how often would you go to the gym, eat a Buddha bowl instead of donuts, stay on top of your finances, take out your trash, or make sure you have quality time with your beloved?

To help yourself take new actions and risks, you might visualize doing them ahead of time in your mind. Abraham-Hicks calls it “pre-paving” the path ahead. Keep your eye on what good comes out of your new actions. What do you get out of setting time aside for intimacy? How good do you feel after working out? Lead yourself with what your new action provides.

A couple who participated in our Mastery Program had a big breakthrough in their sex and intimacy. Having cleared up a bunch of old hurts and misunderstandings, they did exactly what we’re talking about here, and set aside a few hours on every Saturday or Sunday morning as time just for them to snuggle, sleep in, make love, or just talk. They now reserve that time whether they “feel like it” or not.

You can also find an accountability partner. Tell someone about the risk you will take. Make a promise. Make a plan to do it with someone else. Support yourself to do what you know will benefit you by enrolling outside support.

Your vitality and the vitality of your relationship are too important to be guided by what you “feel like” in any given moment.

Posted in Conflicts, Couples, Fear, Relationship | Comments Off on Safety vs. Adventure In Relationship (And How To Change When You Don’t “Feel Like It”)

Loneliness Is Deadly (But 2020 Is a New Year)

Will this year be your year for love? Will you put relationship at the top of your priority list? Will improving relationship be one of your primary 2020 New Year’s resolutions?

Over the holiday break, we received many calls from singles feeling alone at this time of year, and from couples in crisis. Needless to say, they did not have a great holiday experience.

Perhaps it’s not so surprising. Both research and direct experience show that the quality of your life is directly tied to the quality of your relationships. Some studies reveal that loneliness, a rising social epidemic in this age of technology, has disturbing negative health consequences.

“Single Life Is Deadly. Be sure to find someone to live with. Or move into a co-housing situation or some other form of dwelling where there are other people you can be around. Whatever you do, avoid moving into an apartment by yourself, where you only meet other people when you pass them in the hallways. If you do, it could cost you your life.”

That’s the dramatic beginning of an article (translated from the original Danish article in the Berlingske newspaper. The article describes a large Danish research study which documents a 36% increased risk of dying from coronary or other life threatening diseases if you live alone. The study followed 3,300 men for 32 years, and is being published in the European Heart Journal here.

Granted, this study followed only single men, but even if you’re not a man living alone, you are not immune from loneliness and its effects. We all live in a world affected by the use of technology and changing demographic patterns, such as the consistently increasing number of people living alone.

In one study documenting the negative effects of social media use on interpersonal relationships, the author writes, “The top three responses for negative effects of social media use on interpersonal relationships were distraction, irritation, and decreased quality time with their significant other in offline settings”.

From our vantage point as relationship coaches for both men and women, singles and co-habitating couples, loneliness and disconnection are a manifestation of a deeper problem that can befall anyone.

When we add a bunch of extra expectations, as happens during the holiday season, to our loneliness and disconnection, we get even more relationship breakdown!

In the big US holiday season, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we received phone call after phone call from distressed couples who were suffering under the real and imagined increased pressure of the various extra activities and expectations surrounding the holidays. Couples told us they couldn’t take it anymore, that the stress of the season was turning into shouting matches, disconnection, and short fuses all around.

On a coaching call I did with a man in the throes of separation, he expressed how painful it is for him that his partner is no longer giving him affection, touch, love, and appreciation. He no longer felt loved and cared for.

On first look, it might seem that men living alone, couples preparing for the holidays, and a guy separating from his wife are such different groups of people that they couldn’t possible have the same problems.

So what is this thing that afflicts us, this loneliness that is so severe the authors of the above mentioned study stated that, “We have to look at loneliness as a separate risk factor that is destroying people’s quality of life and increasing mortality”? According to this study, loneliness is as dangerous as smoking and alcoholism!

For some, like the men in the study who live alone, we might say it’s just because they’re never around other people. They’re alone as well as lonely. For couples, it’s certainly not because they are alone; most of the couples we talk to still live together, often with children in the house.

When my client was sharing his agony over not being loved by his wife anymore, I offered that perhaps it was not just because he wasn’t receiving the love and affection he wanted, but just as much that he had no one to give his own love and affection to.

We believe that we are loving beings, and that we thrive by giving love, care and interest to others. If we have no one to give our love to, it’s as if our love gets stuck in our hearts, and we get mad or depressed when we don’t get to give.

The loneliness so many feel is a combination of not feeling seen and acknowledged by others; not getting to share our own love with others; and finally, not having the opportunity for meaningful contribution.

In the absence of those three essential human needs, we feel lonely, empty, and without worth, no matter how many people we are around. Everyone knows you can’t fix loneliness by simply going to the nearest Starbucks and sitting among 40 strangers. Heck, sitting in a crowd by yourself can magnify your loneliness instead of cure it.

Theoretically, it’s easier than ever to find someone to hang out with or date. Just grab your phone, launch Tinder and in seconds you can check out dozens of potential dates and set up a meeting with someone. But that doesn’t seem to have cured our societal loneliness.

Why? Because the three human needs I mentioned don’t get satisfied just by getting together with someone. What we need is a certain quality of “being together”.

If you know about our work you’ll know we offer in-person workshops. We do that not just because it’s a highly efficient way to learn and practice new skills, but because in that setting, participants get to fulfill some of those human needs, right there on the spot. They get to connect with other human beings in meaningful ways. They get to both receive and give love, interest, and appreciation.

In any one of our workshops, you can find single people waking up their hearts after years of feeling unseen and “un-given” (to borrow a poignant term from David Deida). Couples reconnect in ways they didn’t even think were possible anymore because they get to share their love and appreciation with each other in a safe and focused manner.

There’s no replacement for getting to connect deeply and meaningfully with another human being. There is no substitute for giving and receiving love and appreciation. Seeing other people’s lives on a screen cannot replace your own need for being seen as a good person with something to offer.

In the 2004 movie, Shall We Dance, Susan Sarandon’s character is reflecting on her troubled marriage. She says to Richard Jenkin’s character, a PI she hired to spy on her husband): “Why do you think we get married?”

Jenkins says confidently, “Passion!” To which Sarandon replies, “No. It’s because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion (sic) people on the planet, what does one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything, the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things. All of it. You’re saying, ‘Your life will not go unnoticed, because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed, because I will be your witness.”

So when you’re feeling the stress levels rise; when you find yourself snapping at your partner; when you’re feeling lonely because no one is there to witness you; or when you have no one to share your love and affection with … instead of getting mad or depressed or lonely, ask yourself some simple questions, such as:

  • Who can I reach out to?
  • Who can I give to?
  • Who can I ask for a minute or two of their time?
  • To whom, or where, can I offer appreciation, interest or a helping hand?

And then take action according to your answers.

In today’s world, for the first time in history, it is possible to work, shop, date, and talk to other people without ever leaving our homes, or without ever being physically in front of another person. That’s amazing! And sad, too!

Because nothing replaces physical, in-person interactions, where we can see, feel, hear, and touch another human being.

Remember, research and direct experience show that the quality of your life is directly tied to the quality of your relationships.

\When your relationships are humming harmoniously, when you are having great sex and quality intimate conversations, when laughter and play are a regular part of your days, life feels sublimely rich and satisfying.

One couple who came to work with us declared that this was “The Year of Us”. In previous years, they had focused all their attention on their kids, on their respective careers, their home, and a myriad other things. But they’d never given any real attention to their relationship, and it showed. So they came up with The Year of Us.

They devoted an entire year to attending as many workshops and weekly support calls as they could, for the benefit of themselves as individuals, for their marriage, and for their young children. During that year, they told us, “It made all the difference. We are far happier and closer now.”

What kind of year is 2020 going to be for you? Is this your year to make love and relationship and real connection a priority?

If this is the time for you to put yourself in our loving workshop space, check out the next dates here …

Wishing you a connected, meaningful 2020.
❤️Sonika & Christian

 

 

 

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Afraid To Share Your Feelings?

A comment we receive a lot in our relationship coaching sessions is this: “I don’t want to say anything to him about how I feel because I don’t want him to feel bad or wrong.

For women, it’s easy to put another’s needs ahead of our own. We are biologically wired to put relationship concerns ahead of our own personal needs. It is how we ensure the kids are taken care of and our husbands are nurtured, so they will love us, take care of us and go “hunt” food for us again day after day.

There is a real fear in the background of our animal brain that if we say or do the wrong thing, he might not love us or hunt for us anymore. From men, we consistently hear that you censor yourself because experience has taught you that emotional uproars are likely to occur when you try to share what’s on your mind. Many men have a deep fear of their partners getting mad at or disappointed with them, so it seems easier to just not say anything.

But there is a very real cost to not saying what we feel and need.

Imagine that you and your partner are looking into each other’s eyes, melting into this beautiful place of oneness, and there is nothing blocking the incredible flow of love between you.

Now imagine that there is something you want to say that you don’t say, and let’s symbolize this something as a brick that is now placed between you. At some point, there is another thing you don’t say, and so another brick is laid. Pretty soon there is another, and another. Everything you don’t say is another brick in the wall being built between you and your lover, obscuring your vision and flow of love.

Before long, there is so much that isn’t said between you, that you can barely see each other at all. Instead of having a relationship with your partner, you are now in relationship with all of the things you are not saying.

Needless to say, the love you feel gets more and more obscured as well.

Our relationship advice is this: Say it! Don’t hold back! Take the risk to speak your heart. And of course, say it in a way that optimizes your chances of being heard.

One of the best relationship tips we can give is to be transparent, withhold nothing, to say it all. When we share ourselves completely, that is when our light shines brightest. It is when we are real, vulnerable and open that we are the most attractive.

As mentioned above, the reason we tell ourselves for not sharing something, is most often a variation of “I don’t want to hurt my partner”, or “I don’t want to cause a stir”.

In our experience, what this really means is, “I’m scared of what’s going to happen if I say this. I could get in trouble”. It’s often our own fear, more than our concern for our partner, that makes us choose silence. Or perhaps you’ve tried sharing yourself in the past, and based on those experiences, you’re pretty sure your partner is going to feel offended, triggered, or hurt; or that you’re going to end up arguing about something.

We suggest that you don’t take this as evidence that you shouldn’t say something, but instead as evidence that you and your partner need to learn a new way of sharing and listening, or get some qualified help to facilitate the conversation.

Despite the risks you might feel when sharing something that’s on your mind or heart, it is your openness that will call your mate to meet you with openness and presence in return. We’d even say that you must find a way to share yourself, because if you don’t, the wall built between you will eventually negate to your love and connection altogether. So there’s really no other good choice!

Now, there are ways to share and ways to not share. Here are ten tips for sharing:

  1. Set your partner up to listen. Ask him or her to listen without interruption or without trying to fix anything.
  2. Give your partner a time limit. Men in particular will be more present with your sharing if they know it will end in a certain time, say 15 or 20 minutes. Men are not as comfortable with and don’t enjoy long-winded sharing sessions that go on for hours as much as women tend to do.
  3. Let your partner know you want to share something with them. Reassure them that it is not because they did anything wrong. Promise you will not turn your share into a dumping or complaining session. This will help them to relax and hear you better.
  4. Be as vulnerable and real as possible. Share your feelings of anger, hurt, sadness and fear. The more vulnerable you are, the more likely your partner is to meet you with compassion and empathy.
  5. Use I-statements. Avoid You-statements. “I feel scared when you leave the room.” Or “I miss feeling close to you.” Owning your own feelings will minimize defense and inspire listening and interest. (Note, “I feel like you’re an immature jerk” does not qualify as an I-statement:)
  6. Tell the microscopic, unarguable If you say, “You don’t love me”, your partner is going to argue with you about that. But if you say, “I feel scared. I notice that there is a knot in my stomach. I am thinking that you might not love me”, there’s nothing to argue about; it’s simply your internal experience.
  7. Ask directly for what you want. Say, “Would you be willing to ______?” as this engages your partner’s will and inspires a specific response to your question.
  8. Say what you DO want and why you like it, not what you don’t like. “I really like it when ________” is much more useful than, “I hate it when you ________”.
  9. When you’re done with your share, thank your partner for listening. Remember, your partner wants you to be happy and to feel heard, and they want the same for themselves. The more you acknowledge them for listening, the more they will want to listen to you again later.
  10. Get help from a professional if your sharing leads to distance and defense, or if it is too scary to get started. There are many ways in which a coach or therapist can help to create a safe space for sharing difficult things.

The most important thing is to keep practicing sharing your innermost feelings and thoughts every time, and as they arise! The love that flows from regularly and steadily removing bricks is reward enough and will soon raise the bar on the value of sharing everything in your relationship.

And remember, practice makes perfect. It does get easier over time! Listen to an expanded version of this article on our latest podcast episode here …

 

 

 

 

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Is Love On Your List?

When Christian and I went to Denmark recently, we spoke to woman who’s a mother of four and whose husband travels for work a great deal. I asked her if his travel was good for their relationship, if it kept their romance and appreciation for each other alive. My thought was along the lines of “distance makes the heart grow fonder”.

But she said, “Quite the contrary! We are feeling very distant from one another. When he comes home from his trips, he prioritizes work and I prioritize the children. We fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. We don’t make much time for each other.”

During the same trip, we listened to an audio book about a woman in a coma. In the story, her father came to visit his unresponsive daughter in the hospital and said to her passive face, “If I had known this was going to happen to you, I never would have said those last words I said to you. I am so sorry.”

A friend of ours was surprised by his wife’s confessions of an affair and a desire for divorce. He told us, “I knew our marriage wasn’t perfect. I knew we needed help. But I thought we had time – I figured we would work on our problems someday. But now it’s too late. I had no idea she was THAT unhappy!”

These three stories are all examples of how easy it is to put kids, work, and house projects at the top of our priority list, while relegating relationship, communication, and sex to the bottom of our list. Actually, all too often, relationship, play, and intimacy don’t even make the list at all!

Unfortunately, like our friend above who got divorced, or the father of a comatose daughter, what it takes to wake up to the importance of love and relationships is often news of illness, death, separation, or divorce.

You’ve probably heard it said a million times, that on your death bed you’re not going to be lamenting that you couldn’t work another hour, or make another buck. What you’ll really miss is another moment with your loved ones.

I believe we all know that to be true, but we don’t always live like relationship is the most important.

There are studies upon studies that confirm the number one factor having a truly happy and satisfying life is good relationships, not money, fame, health, or accomplishments. (See for example this great TED Talk by the director of the 70-year long Harvard Study, Robert Waldinger, who says directly that based on their enormous amounts of data, they conclude that the key to a good life is “Relationships, relationships, relationships”).

And yet, despite all our personal experience to the contrary, despite all the scientific support, it still seems that we drift into making work, kids, chores, money, and everything else more important than our intimate relationships.

What if we didn’t need to be presented with a threat of death or divorce before we took action in the love and relationship department? What if we could use the inevitability of loss and impermanence to inspire us to put relationship first on our list (or at least in the top three)?

The truth is, of course, that all relationships end – one way or another. We’re all going to die eventually. And some of us get old and sick and lose important mental and physical faculties, which take us away from relationship long before we die. Then there’s the infamous divorce statistics that tell us some 50% of first-time marriages end in divorce, and it’s even worse for second and third timers (some estimates say up to 73%!).

What if we used this knowledge to remind us to make love and connection in relationship more important than anything else?

Christian and I do just that, and for those very reasons. Perhaps it’s because our relationship started as a very-long-distance relationship, which was highly unlikely to succeed. After our very first meeting, we were sure we’d never see each other again. So when we did, it made us really appreciate the time we got to spend together.

Subsequently, while living in two different countries in very different time zones, we valued intensely any opportunity we had to talk by phone or visit in person. We have extended that same gratitude and mindful appreciation of each other to our marriage, even now that we live and work together and have for 14 years.

We are long past the “honeymoon phase”, but we still say goodbye with presence and love even if we’re just running a quick errand to the store. We greet each other with enthusiasm after being apart for a day or two. We say yes to lovemaking almost any time one of us initiates. We stop and talk and hug and playfully chase each other around the house. We appreciate each other every night before bed, expressing our gratitude for each other and our life.

I am reminded of the Meghan Trainor song that goes. “I’m going to love you, like I’m going to lose you. I’m going to hold you, like I’m saying goodbye.” That is great relationship advice to live by.

If you knew you only had a short time, how would you express your love to those around you?

If you put relationship to the top of your list today, what would you say to your partner, child, or friend?

Move relationship to the top of your list. Express your love and appreciation for the people you care about. Spend more money on experiences and less money on things. Create positive memories with family and friends. Live a life of no regret when it comes to love and relationship. Your happiness depends on it.

Blessings on your new year!
Sonika & Christian

PS. One way to put your love and relationship higher on your list is attend one our Give Yourself To Love weekend workshops. More here …

 

 

 

 

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From Wanting To Having Love And Happiness

Most of us spend more time than we might like to admit wishing for something to be different in our relationships. We want more engagement, less fighting, more sex, less distance, more intimacy, less time watching TV, more appreciation, less criticism, more dates, fewer nights at home alone, more communication, less silence, etc.

We don’t just want our relationships to be different. We want our lives to be different, too. We want a bigger house, a faster computer, more money, more clothes, more vacations, a skinnier healthier body, a younger look, and lots of better, newer stuff.

We are so accustomed to wishing and longing for more and different – whether in our relationship, work, money, kids, body, etc. – that we don’t even recognize that we are spending our precious lives in a state of constant wanting. This wanting manifests in our experience as unhappiness, dissatisfaction, boredom or loneliness. We feel like we are missing or lacking something important.

There is something I realized a long time ago that has proven to be pivotal for living a fulfilling and happy life:

Wanting and having cannot exist in the same space at the same time.

I think of life as a house with two rooms, the Wanting Room and the Having Room. The Having Room is the room in which we are engaged in life and love.

Just like in a real house, you are either in one room or the other; you cannot be in two rooms at the same time.

Unfortunately, when we want our lives to be different and the people we love to change, we are in the Wanting Room.

When we are in the Wanting Room, we inevitably produce unhappiness for ourselves. Our focus on lack and what is missing keeps us from noticing and appreciating what we have. It throws us into a state of resistance to our current reality and has us believe we are powerless victims stuck in unwanted situations, unable to powerfully create what we want.

Think about it. You only want stuff you don’t have, right? The mere wanting of anything is a declaration that you don’t have it. So when you reside in the Wanting Room, you’re likely to have internal conversations like, Why can’t I make my relationship work? Where are all the good men? My husband never talks to me. I wish I looked younger. Just to mention a few examples.

The Having Room, on the other hand, is where you get to enjoy experiences, where you harvest and partake in the fruits of your labor, where you appreciate what you have and count your blessings. It’s the difference between wishing you had an apple, and actually biting into an apple and enjoying the blast of taste and sensation as you do it.

Life is just better when you occupy the Having Room. So how can you do that? We’ll give some ideas here, and share a few real-life examples.

One way to shift from Wanting to Having is to take notice of and express your gratitude and appreciation for what you do have, even if you have very little. What is working in your relationship? What do you adore about your partner? What would you miss about your spouse if he or she suddenly vanished? What do you take for granted that you are grateful for? And tell them.

Another way to shift from Wanting to Having is to ask the question, “If I already had what I wanted, what would I do or say right now?” This question tricks your mind into imagining that you already have what you want, and enables you to bring to mind actions that you can take right now that are consistent with what you want to create for yourself. When you take those actions, you step into having the experience that you were longing for in the Wanting Room.

For example, if you are struggling with intimacy in your relationship and you want more connection with your partner, you can ask yourself, “If I were connected and intimate with my partner, what would I do or say right now?” Trust me, an answer will pop up in your mind. This question will move you towards creating more intimacy with your partner and thrust you into the Having Room.

At our last workshop, a woman was angry with her husband for something he said that triggered her. She was missing the close connection they were sharing before he said it and was now in the Wanting Room feeling disconnected from her man. When we asked her what she would do if she felt close and connected like before, she said she would go over to him and put her head on his shoulder and her hand on his knee. So we encouraged her to do that. As soon as she sat down next to him, her face lit up like a light bulb and a smile spread across her face. She was back in the Having Room (and you can imagine how he responded to that gesture:-).

A single woman called me for coaching, very distraught and lonely after her last relationship ended. She had a hard time getting out of bed and she was scared she’d never find love again. She was solidly anchored in the Wanting Room. During our conversation, I asked her, “If you knew you were going to be fine, and you would definitely find love again with a wonderful man, what might you do right now?” Her first response was, “I’d get out of bed and go to the gym!”

Just like that, back in the Having Room (And sure, this does not fix or deal with her entire situation, but it’s definitely a vast improvement over being in bed, depressed).

Just to be clear, wanting isn’t bad. That is where the best of our creative ideas show up! Wanting is the start of any improvement in life. You just don’t want to get stuck in wanting! Be there long enough to uncover what you want to create! Use your wanting to connect you to your desires and dreams. Then use that discovery to spark and move you into having, into action.

Everything you want – all of the connection, love, peace, fulfillment and joy you desire – lives in the Having Room.

If you find yourself stuck in wanting your relationship to be different, check out our Give Yourself to Love live relationship training. We will teach you how to step into having the life and relationship you long for and deserve. Click here for more info …

 

 

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You Love Me — Real Or Not Real?

A woman came into our office, we’ll call her Karen, very upset and jealous that her husband was “attracted to other women”. She had come across a picture of a woman he had liked on his Instagram account, which set off her jealousy. In fact, she got so mad at him, she accused him of being unfaithful and threatened to divorce him.

A man I coached, let’s call him Timothy, was enraged with his girlfriend, because she was always talking about how great her car was. Every time they’d go driving, she’d say, “I love this car, it makes me so happy driving it!” When he heard her say that, he’d feel a wave of anger arising inside him, and he’d clench his jaws in hopes of not saying something nasty. But sometimes he just couldn’t help himself and berated her for going on and on about her “stupid car”.

What do these two examples have in common?

First, both people got really angry over their partner’s behavior. Secondly, both of them reacted out of anger in ways they afterwards felt bad about, and which created a significant fall-out. Karen ended up with a serious breakdown after her outburst and accusations, and Timothy ended up having to apologize and backpedal after letting his girlfriend have it, but even after apologizing, he still felt mad and she felt hurt and kept her distance.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, both Karen and Timothy shared a very common predicament: They both made sketchy conclusions based on sketchy evidence.

Did you ever read or see the Hunger Games series? In case you haven’t, our young protagonists Catniss and Peeta go through all manner of harassment and awfulness at the hands of the “evil empire”, called The Capitol. Peeta is tortured and brainwashed to the point where he believes his beloved Catniss is his mortal enemy. The bad guys messed with his head so badly he can’t tell friend from foe, love from hate, fantasy from reality.

When they get reunited, Catniss and Peeta make up a game, a test of sorts, to help Peeta regain his sanity. Peeta says what he thinks, then asks Catniss, “Real or not real?”

In the final scene, they’re snuggled up in bed, and Peeta says, “You love me. Real or not real?” You might guess what her answer is:-).

Why is that relevant here?

Because both Karen and Timothy, although dealing with seemingly very different situations, are in a similar situation to Peeta in the Hunger Games. They don’t know what’s real or not real, true or not true, accurate or false. They don’t know what is fantasy and what is reality.

Karen sees an image on her husband’s Instagram account and quickly makes several conclusions.

She concludes that …

  • He’s attracted to this woman
  • He’s attracted to many other women, too
  • He’s not attracted to her (Karen)
  • She’s not attractive, period
  • He’s unfaithful
  • He’s lying
  • He’s deliberately keeping secrets from her

Real or not real?

Timothy, in his situation, when he hears his girlfriend talking about how much she loves her car, makes several conclusions, too.

He concludes that …

  • She loves her car more than she loves him
  • She thinks her car is better than his car
  • She thinks he’s a loser because his car is a piece of junk
  • She thinks he’s not successful in life
  • He really isn’t as successful as he should be
  • Other guys are way more successful than he is
  • She’s deliberately mocking his car and him

Real or not real?

When we talk more in depth with Karen and Timothy, it quickly becomes clear that they don’t really know if any of these conclusions are real or not real. What IS real is that they themselves made up these conclusions based on the “evidence” at hand, which in each case was very skimpy evidence for such heavy conclusions.

What IS real is that Karen saw an image of a woman on her husband’s Instagram. And what IS real that Timothy’s girlfriend said, “I really love my car”.

Beyond those simple facts, everything else is a made-up conclusion that may or may not have any real basis.

How do you tell the difference between reality and fantasy?

One way is to simply ask yourself, like Peeta did, “Real or not real?” and sometimes it’ll be evident. For example, when Timothy realized he was concluding that his girlfriend was deliberately mocking him, he immediately said, “Not real, she’d never do that, that’s ridiculous”. (As you might know already, sometimes the stuff we conclude is flat-out ridiculous when examined).

Secondly, you ask the other person(s) involved. In Karen’s instance, she wasn’t sure if her conclusions were real or not real, so we would recommend she ask her husband about it.

A word of caution. When you ask your partner, or someone, if your conclusions or assumptions are real or not, try saying it this way.

“Because I saw a picture of so-and-so on your Instagram, I’m making up that you’re attracted to her and you’re not attracted to me. Is there any grain of truth to that?” (“Is there any grain of truth to that” is another way to say, “real or not real?”

DO NOT say, “You always have these skanks show up on your profile! Are you sleeping with them, too!?” You can imagine how well that would turn out. Don’t accuse before you know.

By including the words, “I’m making up that …”, you acknowledge that what you’re making up could be just that, purely made-up conclusions with no grounding in reality.

When you ask directly, you might sometimes discover that some of your made-up conclusions do indeed have a solid basis. Sometimes your partner might say, “Yeah, there is a bit of truth to that”, which could open up some really juicy conversations, if you’re willing to go there.

The main point we want to make here is that we all suffer from the predicament of making up sketchy conclusions based on skinny evidence. Often, our conclusions are detrimental to our own wellbeing and to the health of our relationships.

When Timothy makes up that his girlfriend is telling him he’s not successful enough, it’s more a reflection of his own lifelong fear that he’s not successful enough, than it is her putting him down. In this case, she just loves her car, plain and simple. That’s it. The rest came straight from his “mind factory”.

Don’t believe your own conclusions too readily. Especially the ones that make you feel like crap!

The wonderful Byron Katie asks of her own thoughts: Is it true? Can I be absolutely certain it is true?

Questioning your own conclusions might just set you free from the occasional madness of your own mind, and open up more space for love in your relationships.

Real or not real?

PS. We just launched our new podcast, Dare To Love. Check it out here …

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Angry At Your Partner

The other day while we were driving in the car, Christian was angry.

Not at me. He was frustrated that his back wasn’t healed enough yet for him to be able to drive himself long distances. So I did what any loving wife would do. I got mad at him for being mad.

You may have heard the saying, “You become like who you are around.” Mostly what the saying means, is that if you hang out with people who are not successful and playing big, chances are YOU will not be successful or play big.

There is another way this dynamic plays out in relationship. When Christian gets mad about something, I get mad at him for being mad. I become like him. Which doesn’t help, by the way, it just accelerates his anger, because he now adds “being mad at me for being mad at him” to the mix. When he withdraws, I withdraw too. When he judges, I judge him for judging. Christian does the same with me. And we both do it with our kids.

This plays out so fast that we barely notice how we “become just like who we are around.”

Now, it is NOT my intention for us to both be pissed, withdrawn and judgmental. And it is not Christian’s intention either. Even though that is what gets produced.

We know it is the same for you – that when you “match” your partner’s moods or thoughts, you don’t want a miserable experience either!

Our unconscious positive intention in matching our partner’s emotion is for the bad feelings to go away and the good ones to return. Some part of me actually believes that if I get mad at him for being mad, he will quit being mad!

Crazy, eh?

So how do you change this dynamic?

First thing is to notice it. Become aware that you are doing exactly the behavior or emotion you are resisting.

Next, is to realize that you want something sweet and good underneath your bad feeling. For instance, in the car, I noticed that I really wanted Christian to feel good and happy and for us to have a fun sweet time together. That was the reason for my wanting him to not be mad.

As I saw that in myself, I was able to see that in Christian too. He just wanted to feel good, happy and in his power too.

Seeing that he wanted something sweet and good underneath his anger softened my heart. It took me out of mad, back into love.

When we connect with the positive intent underneath bad feelings, annoyance gets replaced with compassion, and separation gets replaced with connection. “We are the same. We feel the same. We both want something good.”

Once we understand that a pure innocent desire for love, connection and all things good is underneath our anger, we can reach out in love from that new place.

As a result, instead of meeting Christian’s anger with more anger, I was able to meet his anger with love, and give him a chance to “become like who he was around.” I complimented him for his desire to feel good and appreciated his aspiration to drive the car. We ended up stopping for food, enjoying delicious sandwiches together, and he successfully drove the next half hour to our destination.

Soon after, we were playing, giggling and in the end, enjoyed a wonderful evening together.

Next time you notice yourself “matching” your partner’s mood, slow things down.

Look for the positive reason you are mad or sad or upset underneath, and instead of both of you spiraling down into a crummy experience, lead both of you to an upward spiral of deeper love, connection and joy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Opening To Love

My husband Christian and I have been busy of late. Distracted. More in our heads than our hearts. We felt a bit flat and off. I was definitely not in my feminine receptive loving flow – more in my masculine “doingness.”

When it came time for dropping back into our hearts and bodies with each other in lovemaking, I surprisingly felt a bit of dread about the whole thing. My body was so closed that mostly I felt like I didn’t want to open.

I could watch my mind wanting to rush out to the kitchen to eat something, to watch something on TV, to check my phone or email for messages – anything to avoid sinking and melting. I put on a shirt as a sign of sorts of my guarded, un-open heart. I dared to tell the truth about my resistance to opening.

Now, thank God, I am with a man who knows my deeper yearning: to melt into love and God through our bodies and hearts in sex. To let go of resistance and be fully present. To love and be fully open in my heart.

So he doesn’t pay much attention to my words, because he is listening to what is underneath my words: “Take me.” “Make me open.” “Melt my closed heart with your love.” He meets my resistance with his strong, yet gentle, persistent presence. I feel the strength of his hands and body as he wraps his arms around me and holds me close.

I push him away, but he stays with me. He kisses my face and neck and keeps holding me. He kisses me and senses my closed lips. He tries to tease me out. But I turn away from his eyes and lips and try to hide in his chest.

He stops for just a second to see if I am serious, to check if he really should back off. I love that about him — his heightened awareness and sensitivity to my body language and non-verbal communication. His checking in, enables me to feel safe, to trust him. I know if I really wanted him to back off that he would.

But deep inside myself, underneath this closed heart and body, is a desire to truly open and surrender to love, to melt. So I encourage him to stay, to continue to love me in spite of my “shut down.” He needs that reassurance to proceed. It helps him stay present, helps him know he is doing the right thing.

He keeps being there with me, relentless with his kisses and eyes and touch. He knows I will eventually open, that I won’t be able to keep resisting his love, his presence… And he is right.

Within minutes, I start to cry. Then sob. My whole body releases the build-up of tension and resistance in my cells through my unstoppable tears. I can feel my body relax more and more through my crying, and my heart begins to soften. He just keeps holding me, telling me it is good that I am crying. He knows that my tears are essential to my opening.

The tears eventually stop, and then I am laughing and looking at him and touching him and opening my mouth and heart and yoni to him, and he meets me there. In this sweet soft open loving powerful presence place.

And in the end we are melted and soft, a puddle of love, lying in each other’s arms.
We appreciate God and each other, for this delightful place of love and softness and strength and presence where all is well and good and right….

It never ceases to amaze me how I need to cry to soften myself out of masculine and back into my flowing easy open feminine heart. If he didn’t stay with me—if he took my resistance personally and stopped and turned away—I would never get to drop down into my tears and melt. We would never get to wash away all of the “disconnect” and “re-set” ourselves back to LOVE.

How grateful I am for the transformational power of Presence. And for having a man in my life who can funnel that presence through his eyes and body and call forth the deepest parts of my love.

Blessed be.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Quality Of Your Life Is The Quality Of Your Relationships

We have worked with several men and women the last few weeks – couples feeling distant and lonely, fighting over stupid stuff, desperate to find their way back to each other – many considering divorce; and singles feeling hopeless and lost. They all shared how they felt depressed, bored and uninspired in life as a result of their unhappy relationships.

Within a short time of working with us, couples are looking at each other like they haven’t in years, sharing their deepest feelings in safe space, and feeling connected, hopeful and in love again.

Singles are feeling loved, seen, safe, powerful and beautiful, full of hope and possibility.

I know this might sound like “too good to be true” stuff, but it happens all the time, I assure you.

A man at our last workshop came up to me and said, “When I came on Saturday, I was feeling so angry with my partner and unsure about whether or not I even wanted to stay in this relationship. After this weekend, everything has changed and I am leaving feeling re-committed and in love.”

A woman said, “Wow. We haven’t felt this close to each other for years.”

And a single man said, “I got to have the experience I have wanted my whole life this weekend. Now I know that I can create that anywhere.”

I could list hundreds of examples.

The thing is, resolving conflicts and getting back to love is easy when you know what to do. Easy.

But humans are funny. For some reason we would rather struggle on our own for years and years rather than invest in a few weekends to learn skills that will save so much heartache and misery down the road. Most don’t even think to get help until someone walks out the door.

Not just in your romantic relationships, but in every relationship.
That’s right. We help anyone improve any relationship.

We’re like a one-stop shop for all your relationship needs.

Jeremy is a more effective restaurant manager.
Charlene, Kay, Greg and Cari are all better doctors.
Desiree is a better school psychologist.
Jerry is a better lawyer.
Amy is a better nurse.
Maria is a better therapist.
Vicky is a more loving and happier mother.
Jeff is now on good terms with his ex.
Mike and Jean created a breakthrough with their teenage son.
Mark, Mary, Machen, Laura and countless others have saved their marriages.
Paige, Andy, Samantha, Kate, Jessica, Diego, Grace, Jeremy, Naomi and many others have found the love of their lives after years of being single.
Beth, Kate, Molly and Jennifer all started families after resolving their relationship struggles.

You can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.

Marriage, sex, dating and parenting do not get better by themselves. In fact, all professional experience, and lots of statistics, will tell you that you are headed towards divorce, separation, loneliness and dissatisfaction without some sort of effective intervention or education.

But with the right support and tools, any relationship can be improved!

For example, one couple came to us as a last ditch effort after he had an affair with another woman. They were both pretty sure that divorce was the only solution for their problems and past hurts. They have since forgiven each other and themselves and are enjoying the most sensational second honeymoon!

And Laurette was feeling so wounded she wasn’t sure she ever wanted to be in a relationship again. Now she is enjoying a wonderful new man!

Our workshops and programs offer a safe radical innovative approach to relationship that allow you to create what you REALLY WANT: connection, fulfillment, freedom, love, peace, aliveness, and bliss. We help you realize your Full Potential in your relationship world, teach you how to use the problems and challenges in life as stepping-stones towards your dreams rather than obstacles on your path.

To incentivize you to take the risk to jump in on a program that will catapult your relationships to new heights, we are offering a 2-for-1 spring deal for our upcoming two-day relationship training, Give Yourself to Love: Creating Relationships that Call You to Rise. May 5-6 in Auburn, CA, 9-7 PM both days.

Don’t suffer any longer. Seriously. Improve your relationships. Improve your life!

And do it now for the reduced investment of just $397 for any two people, May 5-6 in Auburn, CA!

Watch the video and get the details here: www.loveworksforyou.com/gytl

See you there!
🙂 Sonika & Christian

 
 
 
 
 
 

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