When a couple seeks help with their marriage, what they want most is to feel better about how they get along Maybe they want better communication — they don’t enjoy walking away from an interaction with each other feeling bad about it. They don’t want to feel critical, they want to feel loving. They don’t want to reject, they want to accept. They don’t want to argue, they want to discuss or explore.
Basically, couples ask me how to have more happiness and ease in their relationship. They are looking for ways to feel less negative emotion and more positive emotion.
In every session, we begin with where they are, by validating where they stand. Initially, many people find this somewhat counter-intuitive, meaning that they don’t like where they stand, so why in the world should they feel self-approval for what seems to be causing them all sorts of trouble? They believe they should push away from where they stand as fast as possible, not embrace it. But in the session, we embrace it, because there is a gift in where they stand.
For starters, where any couple stands is a perfectly legitimate place to be or they wouldn’t be there. There are very good reasons to be thinking what they are thinking, or feeling what they are feeling, and together, we find them. Unless we embrace where we are, we drag the past along into a new situation without meaning to, and can’t figure out why a problem follows us. It’s the idea that what we resist persists.
So a beginning point in every session is learning to welcome where we are, and welcome the gift of being there. One of those gifts usually involves welcoming negative emotion and seeing its value.
While anger, sadness or blame don’t feel heavenly, these negative emotions are actually helpful. Negative emotion is a signal that we’ve just disagreed with how our Higher Self thinks. Negative emotion is a clue from our all-knowing Self that what we’re thinking isn’t going to help us get where we say we want to go. It’s not going to help us receive what we say we prefer. Negative emotion is a flag.
Let’s say you want a loving relationship with your husband. You’ve decided this. The two of you are pretty good at getting along, but every couple can use help here and there, and you’re no exception. You love being together and both of you are open to upgrades to your “couple-ness.”
And here you are, moving about your day, and things are going quite swimmingly — until the two of you go suddenly sideways! He just said something that makes you irrationally and instantly upset and now you’ve gone and slammed a door. You’re in a huff. To make your point (and maybe give it extra clout) you’re walking out the door. You’re done talking. He’s wrong. You’re right. This is a moment where being right is clearly more important than being in love.
Are you with me? Have you done this?
Ah, probably. We’re human, and we humans have emotional wounds — we have ouchy places. You may have noticed that when someone pokes your ouchy place, it can cause an emotional ruckus.
So the question is not whether somebody’s ever going to poke our wounds. Someone will
The question is, then what? Then what will we do?
I have a suggestion for a starting place: Begin very simply.
Notice what’s happening and how you’re feeling and say it aloud if possible. You can also say it silently to yourself, if that’s more appropriate to the situation.
“Wow, I notice I’m really upset about this!” or “Whoa. I notice I’m really amped up about this.” or “I notice I am totally, completely, 100% pissed off.”
Saying “I notice…” does a brilliant thing for you: It puts you outside the reaction just enough to no longer be IN the reaction, or be (so much) at the mercy of the reaction.
You become the reporter. You’re the Observer, and this is where all good and worthwhile change can begin.
Notice your body.
What’s going on? Do you feel tense? Where? How’s your breathing? Your heart? Again, this puts you in Observe Mode. You’re outside, looking in. You’re not stuck as the doer of the action, you’re watching yourself.
For now, practice this step. No need to change anything, just notice. Next time, we’ll talk about change.
Are your panties in a wad about something?
Knickers in a twist?
Uncomfortable? Things not going too well today? Something threw you off the happy merry-go-round?
Ahhhh, yes — happens to all of us.
Yep, there are good days, and there are days we’d rather forget about.
WHAT WAS I THINKING?
I had an experience recently that taught me really good things by “throwing myself over the cliff” if you know what I mean. Here’s the thing. My suffering was self-induced. It was unnecessary. The thing that triggered it was unimportant. The situation “snuck up” on me. By the time I realized how bent out of shape I was, it was too late.
The lesson began by watching a live-stream-webinar-thingy, and it went on for a while. i tried to do other things (multi-task) and just have it running in the background until something I really wanted to hear came on.
But I’m just curious enough about how other people conduct their business that I kept watching. The interesting thing is that the longer I watched, the more uncomfortable I became.
Except I didn’t really notice.
I ignored my feelings, because there was a particular person I wanted to see — a guest on the show. It took a couple hours for me to fall down and go boom. I couldn’t believe it took so long.
So why not just stop watching? Yep. That would have been the logical solution. Just stop already.
But I didn’t do that, because there was that big carrot hanging out there that I was trying to get.
It took waaaaaaaaaaay too long, and the longer it went on, the worse I felt.
It’s like taking a bite of something and thinking, “Well, that doesn’t taste so great.” So I take another bite, hoping it will get better somehow! The first bite is disbelief. “It just can’t be that bad.” Or it’s curiosity — “What’s wrong with that? — Really! Why does that taste icky?” And then I try to figure it out.
Or I take that bite of salad, it’s not thrilling, but I figure (hope?) the main meal will be better. Silly me. If a restaurant can’t make a good first course or appetizer, well, then… you get the idea. It’s called a clue.
The good news? There was at least one benefit of all of this. The long-drawn-out-live-stream-webinar-marathon lesson clarified something important for me about my business — in particular, my style. At the end of the whole mess I was crystal clear about what’s important to me about my relationship with my clients.
I’m thankful that some lessons are pretty easy — no big drama, no crashing emotions, just “yeah, that went sideways.” And that’s it. And other lessons (bless them!) cause me to get my undies in a bundle before I find the gold.
This one was pretty big and had some punch. My underwear got all in a bundle, but the worst part was how I didn’t notice it until it was way too late. Funny how that works.
But I know at least two things about having one’s underwear in a bundle:
What’s the difference between a tragedy and a comedy? A tragedy is when something not so great happens to you, and a comedy is when it happens to someone else. Ha! So I can pretend I’m the person observing, instead of the person to whom it’s happening. I mean, why not! I have a great imagination. I can do that. It works. It makes it pass by with a smile.
If it’s something I could possibly laugh about in 6 months (Or a few days or hours), why not start now? I can do that, too. I can get over it enough to laugh.
And I’m here to tell ya (not too much later), I’m feeling entertained by what happened.
Really, it’s all because I bought myself a pair of these.
Now I skate through anything! Woo Hoo!
You’re broken down and tired Of living life on a merry go round And you can’t find the fighter But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out And move mountains We gonna walk it out And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again And I’ll rise up High like the waves I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
When the silence isn’t quiet And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe And I know you feel like dying But I promise we’ll take the world to its feet And move mountains Bring it to its feet And move mountains
And I’ll rise up I’ll rise like the day I’ll rise up I’ll rise unafraid I’ll rise up And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you For you For you For you
All we need, all we need is hope And for that we have each other And for that we have each other And we will rise We will rise We’ll rise, oh, oh We’ll rise
I’ll rise up Rise like the day I’ll rise up In spite of the ache I will rise a thousand times again And we’ll rise up High like the waves We’ll rise up In spite of the ache We’ll rise up And we’ll do it a thousand times again
During this strange time in history, I noticed y’all were tackling all sorts of interesting projects. I decided I needed one, too—something positive to remember the pandemic of 2020 by.
I decided to pay attention to something I had abandoned…
Nope, I’m not cleaning my garage. I am not organizing one single thing. I’m not planting a garden or cleaning up my yard.
Instead, I decided to take care of myself better. This, folks, has made all the difference for me.
With relatively little time and effort on my part, I feel so much better than I did a month ago.
On March 30, I got on the exercise bike and the yoga mat for the first time in a long time, and did 30 minutes each. I liked it so much that I decided to do it every day. But I fell short of that, and changed my commitment to every other day, which felt more manageable, reasonable, and doable.
I also get off the bike after every song, take a couple of sips of water, shake out my legs and arms for a few seconds, and get back on. This makes the bike project a reasonable proposition, too.
Daily walks of any length—by myself, or with my little guy, Jackson—are a fresh air bonus.
My recumbent exercise bike has pulleys to work my upper body while I pedal, which gets my heart rate up fast, and also helps my whole-body strength. It feels good to get up from writing, or doing a consulting session with a client, to do something physically challenging while listening to good music.
After only a month, I feel a sheet of muscles on the front of me I haven’t felt for a very, very long time. Goodness gracious. Who knew they were there. I’ll be posting rippling ab photos soon, I’m sure.
I have no idea what the scales have to say about my bike/yoga project—I don’t care. Paying attention to scales tends to send me sideways, and therefore, I’m ignoring them completely.
But—I LOVE the way I feel! Hang in there, everyone.
Sometimes we ask intimate partners to do for us what is actually ours to do.
We ask our partner to give us the reassurance, love or appreciation we feel is missing in ourselves, with the hope that they will give us what we’re asking for—and then we’ll feel better. They’ll take care of our problem.
But when they do give us what we’re asking for, it can never be enough, because we have insufficient context for what they’ve given. We haven’t build the inner foundation to receive it, hear it, welcome it, believe it. They try to help, but their love for us falls into our void, our black hole, our love bucket with no bottom.
As always, there’s hope. Check out the video below.