Intimate Relationships

In our closest relationships, we long to be heard, understood, and seen for who we really are.

In real life, it doesn’t always happen that way.

Sadly, over time, our most heartfelt relationships may also bring the most painful disappointments. Our cultural myths don’t help. Finish this Disney sentence: “They got married, and they lived…”.

For most people, “happily ever after” comes to mind automatically. We don’t equate the ups, downs, hard work and disappointments of marriage with “happily ever after.” Thus, we have other more cynical sayings, like “Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye opener,” or “A lot of marriages made in heaven are going through hell here on earth.”

We jump from dreams to despair, but the work of creating a marriage happens in the middle.
We all know that “happily ever after” isn’t real, but when we’re falling in love, it can seem like the impossible dream is coming true. Some parts of our brains grow and change much slower than others. Leaving us likely to believe the things we were taught as children.

The difference between what we want and what we get is just painful sometimes.

When both people in a relationship are bruised, each gets hurt and feels threatened. Feeling threatened, each becomes judgmental and defensive – or attacking – our worst selves.

Then everything is harder as both partners forget they’re on the same team, and everyone gets reactive or shuts down.

Neurologically, being overrun by your own feelings is called being “flooded.” This is almost literally a state of losing your mind, which is the opposite of mindfulness. In this state, you try to win the battle so hard that you lose your world.

A lot of where you end up depends on where you begin.
Getting to a calmer, clearer state of mind is our first task.

In an argument, it’s amazing how we take for granted that we heard what someone said. After “listening”, we quickly move on to our next point. I’ll teach you how to slow everything down.

The goal is not to hear the logical points. It’s to have a different feeling, a shared understanding.

Words can be weapons and shields, or words can be bridges. I’ll guide you to build your bridges out of words, eye contact and listening.

The heart of a relationship is trust. The heart of an individual is desire.

We don’t see each other’s hearts. We only see behavior which we interpret based on our experiences. Of course, our experiences are always different than our partner’s, so we tend to attribute our meanings to their behavior (projection).

Projection is the obvious problem. However, a deeper problem is where we are putting our attention. We’re focused on the “problem” as our partner’s behavior that didn’t meet our needs. Paradoxically, in so doing, we’re neglecting our own needs.

When we’re flooded, we automatically search outside ourselves for the problem. In so doing, we create a more fundamental problem. Namely, we’re ignoring our deep inner states.

Needs are on the inside and strategies to meet them are on the outside. When we over-focus on the strategy, we’re no longer grounded in ourselves. We’re not in touch with our needs anymore, so the strategy no longer matters. 

The sacred communion of a relationship is heart to heart, beyond all the strategies to openness and connection. Our world can be so focused on the outside, we miss our needs and the needs of our partner.

Work Relationships

Ever have work relationships bring up deep feelings that have no place at work?

Ever said, “You made me angry!” to a co-worker?

When you blame someone else for your experience, you give them your power and judge them at the same time.

People don’t like being judged, so you’ve just given power to someone and at the same time they’re not likely to be an ally.

Probably everyone does the blame game at some point, and it’s always the same. It doesn’t help things get better.

Real professional relating starts from the essential awareness of one’s own responsibility for one’s situation, feelings and behaviors.

I help stressed professionals move from burnout to feeling alive again, better able to contribute, communicate and lead in the workplace.