THE MANTRA OF ME

                         You are your most precious commodity.

There are two types of people in this world. Resistant and receptive. This applies all across the board, from corporations to couples. The resistant person is a dominant personality: narcissistic, arrogant, immovable. The receptive person is a flexible personality: agreeable, open-minded, committed to cooperation for the greater good.

After decades of working with the predictable contrast of these two personalities, I’ve learned this. Receptive people have dropped the ball. Yes, I’m critiquing the sweet ones amongst you. Why? You have a dirty little secret. You don’t like to get in trouble. You don’t want to feel that queasy feeling in your stomach that comes with confrontation. You’ve mastered the art of dodging emotional bullets.

Why am I treating this as an all or nothing issue? Because dealing with a dominating personality feels like an all or nothing proposal. It’s a dead end before it’s even begun. There’s no hint of compromise, flexibility, or consideration – only push back, over-blown ego, and stonewalling.  It’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to confront your Nemesis. Yes, I mean Nemesis.

Simply put, your gut instinct is correct. Confronting a strong-willed personality who’s personal agenda is foremost on his or her list is a daunting endeavor. Is this enough reason to withdraw your vote, your preference, or your inherent wisdom? Let me read your mind.

“It’s not worth fighting about. It’s not that important. I can give in this time. I won’t win the argument anyway, so why try?  She/he will never change; it’s just the way things are. “

Stop and think about this. By remaining passive, you’re living a lie. You’re hurting yourself and your relationship. Not only are you robbing your beloved the opportunity to open his or her heart to the gift of generosity, you’re hurting yourself by being  a “Yes, dear,” a martyr, an eager gossiper, a wuss, and/or a cynic in love. Unless or until you choose to officially take the vows of selfless devotion, you are a free citizen, entitled to the rights of your preferences. Do you dare think of yourself as entitled? Do you dare expose your true self to the person you love?  If “Yes,” here is your coaching assignment.

The Mantra of Me:                                                                                                               Every morning, upon waking, (if you are alone) lie quietly in bed, eyes closed. With calm and caring conviction, for one full minute  – slowly, clearly repeat aloud:                                                                                                                                   “Me….                      Me….                       Me….                       Me…”                                                                                                                                                                      Put 3 seconds between each “Me.” Finish with two deep inhales &          exhales.  Remain quiet and still for 2 minutes as the mantra sets in.                                                                                                                                                                       *If you aren’t alone, set a private moment & place, early in the day.

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT LOVE FROM A SIDEWALK

For weeks I’ve been noticing small markings of blue spray paint on my neighborhood sidewalks. Wherever the concrete was cracked, there was a precisely placed curve of blue spray paint.  A few weeks later, blue nylon tape wound around wooden sticks appeared at each marked concrete square.

Anticipating a cement pouring project, I looked for signs of progress. Voila! One day the cracked sidewalk squares were now bare dirt with 3 inch high wood supports on the perimeter of all four sides. I was disappointed I missed the day they poured the new cement. Here’s what I learned about love from a sidewalk.

Most people in love put off addressing the smaller issues. In time, tiny cracks appear between them which grow unattended. Life moves fast. The bigger issues of work, health, money, friends, fun, and family take precedence. And the core love relationship deteriorates very very slowly, very imperceptibly. Then out of (seemingly) no where, one person announces, “I’m leaving you.”

It’s a shock at first, but in hindsight, each person can rewind the movie and identify what was going wrong.  The second shock is that one of the two people in love is done – that means DONE. No energy or desire to revisit or repair what’s broken. Too late. Heart stone cold.

Don’t let this happen to you. Step up and learn from the cracked sidewalks. Agree to keep your eyes and hearts open to any patterns of distress, disappointment, dejection, or rejection. Stay alert, notice your emotions of being taken for granted, being critiqued, of a lack of affection, sex, or romance. Take good care of your relationship the way you do your body, your job, your clients, your friends, your cat, your dog. Pay attention to how love & life works.

100% ORGANIC PURELY YOU

TILICHO LAKE
 
 
In this high place
it is as simple as this,
leave everything you know behind.
 
Step toward the cold surface,
say the prayer of rough love
and open both arms.
 
Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished,
there, in the cold light
reflecting pure snow
the true shape of your own face.
                                                      David Whyte
                 
                                                  from the book: Where Many Rivers Meet
 
 
 
 

Bambi and The Bully

                “Bullies are cowards at heart and may be credited                         with a pretty safe instinct in scenting their prey.”     Anna Julia Cooper

Why are love relationships so challenging? Because more often than not, opposites do attract.  Dominant seeks submissive and vis versa.    I know too many people in love who have  slowly and imperceptibly lost connection with their true self.

Is this what love is ultimately meant for? Where is it mandated that we dilute or surrender our uniqueness – our personalized form of creativity, humor, affection, intelligence, instinct, and quirkiness in         exchange for a Certified Romantic Relationship?  If extinguishing our 100% original core self is the goal, then I’m calling it out as a sin.

Ironically, the Bully is not the only perpetraitor here. (my spelling) Uninitiated Bambi’s tend to sacrifice their preferences, delights, urges, wisdom, daydreams, and instincts, in exchange for peace. An uninitiated Bambi’s “peace” is code for the following Bambi Rules:

CONFRONTATION NOT ALLOWED: Bambi’s will  not initiate nor participate in spontaneous arguing, disagreement, fighting, or anger. No raised voice, no aggressive facial expression, no walking out of the room in a huff, no drama, no overt moodiness.

What are some of Bambi’s methods of censoring, nay, neutering, their authentic core self?  They pledge to deny the majority of their organic instincts, urges, opinions, distinct offerings, creativity, crazy ideas,         affectionate impulses, intelligence, sense of adventure, wisdom, joi de vivre. You get the picture.

What is Bambi’s short term payoff? Avoiding, with the goal of eliminating, that queasy-stomach, scared, conscious or unconscious, threat of confrontation, judgement, or abandonment. It’s that basic, it’s that simple, it’s that powerful.

Modernization notwithstanding, we humans are still fragile, even the bullys. This makes the case that bullies may be scared to death of their own fragility. Frankly, I don’t give a damn what a bully’s reason is for his or her bad behavior.

I care that you, the Bambi’s of this world, free yourself from hiding.         I ask you to take a brave step into your willingness to allow fearful emotions. Queasiness is not a curse, it’s a signal. It’s a signal that something scary is at hand. Before you leave this earth,  face your fears and open the doors wide to your 100% organic one-of-a-kind self. Ultimately, you will discover that YOU are amazing, wise, quirky, brilliant, creative. Fulfill your destiny. There are unknown people who will be inspired, enlivened, healed, and educated by YOU.

FINDING FAITH WHEN YOU’RE FEELING LOST

The Journey
 
   Above the mountains
     the geese turn into
the light again
 
                                                                painting their
  black silhouettes
  on an open sky.
 
        Sometimes everything
                                                                   has to be
     enscribed across
                                                                      the heavens
 
                                                                 so you can find
                                                                   the one line
                                                                     already written
                                                                      inside you.
 
                                                                 Sometimes it takes
                                                                    a great sky
                                                                      to find that
 
                                                                  first, bright
                                                                    and indescribable
                                                                      wedge of freedom
                                                                        in your own heart.
 
                                                                  Sometimes with
                                                                    the bones of the black
                                                                      sticks when the fire
                                                                        has gone out
 
                                                                  someone has written
                                                                    something new
                                                                      in the ashes
                                                                       of your life.
 
                                                                 You are not leaving
                                                                    you are arriving.
 
 
                                                                   David Whyte
                                                        The House of Belonging
 
 
 

THE DARK SIDE OF “NICE”

I love you not only for what you are,
but for what I am when I am with you. 
                                                                Mary Carolyn Davies
                   
After years of listening to good guys and nice girls struggling for happiness in love, the results are in. When consistently used as the default mode, nice doesn’t get us what we want. It actually backfires. Nice is being co-opted, applied as a manipulation tool.   
 
To avoid the sticky tricky terrain of conflict, fainthearted people fake nice and easygoing. Uber-nice people can appear submissive, weak, even fragile. Ironically, it takes enormous strength to resist the natural instinct that signals ME. “Yes, I want this.” or “No, that doesn’t work for me.” or “Not now.” Consciously or unconsciously, it matters not. Uber-nice people do nothing short of make a deal with the devil: “I refuse to feel that queasy feeling when I think of confronting him/her. I won’t fight. I won’t win anyway.” Herein begins the betrayal.
 
Uber-nice people betray not only their own instincts, but in the process, they unwittingly damage their relationship’s integrity. The irony? Uber-nice people are often resentful. Uber-nice people often lie about their authentic emotions. And ultimately, this means Uber-nice people may be untrustworthy in love. 
                                                                                                              Look, some people are just more stong-willed than others. This doesn’t mean bullies should rule the world or nice people should shut up. We’re here to learn how to get along. This means two people contribute to the relationship’s destiny. 
 
From birth, we’re designed with our very own particular brand of preferences, wisdom, desires, and dislikes. And we’re endowed with all of the emotional equipment we need to promote our contribution, to yield, or to defend our position. 
 
The point of a love relationship is to combine and integrate our differences for the greater good of the relationship. For both the pleasurable and the practical aspects. So I appeal to you Uber-nice humans-in-love to come out of hiding, stop lying, and bring all that you are to your beloved, to your relationship, and to this world.

YOUR HAPPILY EVER AFTER: 5 PREDICTORS

“When we met, it was magic. After we married, it was tragic.”
                                                                         -a disillusioned couple
 
Yes. You can have your happily ever after. The first step? Accept that being in love has zero to do with your happily ever after. Most people fight this reality, even as they look around and see they’re not alone. Too many couples in love end up disappointed and mystified. “We love each other. Why are we fighting, arguing, and feeling so disconnected?” Here’s why.
 
A love relationship is crazy confusing. Each of you has a vision and a version of how you see a partnership. Until both of your visions are examined, articulated, and brought to common ground or at least to agreements, you most likely will clash either openly or secretly. Snap out of your romantic haze. Open your eyes. Together, roll up your sleeves and commit to building a working partnership for your happlily ever after.
 
Here are the predictors for your happily ever after in love. Only when both of you are engaged wholeheartedly and consistently in these actions and attitudes, will you be able to appreciate each other and luxuriate in your love:
 
1. Receptivity:  “I’m listening with an open-mind. I really do care.   I’m willing to concede.”
 
2. Expressiveness: Compliments/ Loving Gestures/ Small Gifts Giving neck rubs, hugs, holding hands in private and public. Being fully present. *Consistency is the key. Sparse or sporadic does not count. Rushing through it does not count. * 3 gestures, 3 x a day.
 
3. Flexibility: “It’s my pleasure to adapt when it’s helpful and when reasonable.” *If it’s not your pleasure, keep it to yourself.  Be quiet, gracious, and seamless in your sacrifice.
           
4. Respect: “I honor your instinct, your logic, your emotion, your opinion.”  *We do not have to agree. We do need to compromise.
 
5. Partnership: “Together, we discuss decisions that affect both of us. We are creative, open-minded, patient while we find a middle ground, and we compromise in equal measures.”  
~French: Old French: parcon  <Vulgar Latin *partio- from Latin partition, a sharing; from partire: to divide.
    
 
 
,
 
 
 

LETTING GO & MOVING ON: Step #1

The first human impulse, when our heart is breaking,                     is to focus on one question, “How can this be happening?”
 
Humans are a hardy stock. We don’t give up easily. Whether it’s, “No, you can’t have that dog,” or “No, you can’t keep the love of your life,” our knee jerk reaction is to resist and revolt. We have desires, we care, and most difficult of all…when it comes to love, we set down roots, we attach deeply. 
 
For 5 years I taught a co-ed class called Letting Go & Moving On.  I listened to and I identified with people’s painful break-up stories. But rather than helping my student’s hearts with their grief, I was being challenged by their brains.  
 
Without exception, everyone was obsessed, not with the heart, but with the head. “Why didn’t she give it more of a try? Why didn’t he speak up? Why won’t she see that we can work this out? Why did he leave me if he loved me?” There are a hundred questions the heartbroken ask about the “Whys?” 
 
Are you serious about wanting to move forward with your life? Then shut your mind off. By ruminating on the questions, the “what ifs,” the wracking of your brain – you’re attempting to make a deal with the devil. “I think and re-think all the options, the possibilities, the potential of what could be, the ways s/he or we could change…”
 
Your first step towards letting go? Be quiet. Be present with your pain. Distracting yourself with dream scenarios or questions ad nauseam is no longer an option. Acknowledging that it’s over is the only path to moving forward. Be gentle, be kind with yourself. Look straight into your eyes in the mirror, and slowly, clearly, and softly declare, “It’s over. I’m sorry to say. It’s over.” 
 
Now, give in and let yourself feel the weight of this truth. That’s it. Do not dilute your heartache with any revenge fantasies or curses. Remain in your body. Let your heart have its way with you. Cry, weep, wail for as long as it takes. Don’t be surprised if this goes on for days, weeks, even months. The heart uses every opportunity to grieve accumulated pent-up pain from the past.                                    
Then one day, without any warning, you will look into the mirror, and you will be surprised to see your soul has returned, peace has returned, and grace has restored itself into your soul.
 
 
 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

SWEET DARKNESS
 
When your eyes are tired  
the world is tired also.
 
When your vision has gone 
no part of the world can find you.
 
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes 
to recognize its own.
 
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
 
The dark will be your womb
tonight.
 
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
 
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
 
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
 
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet 
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
 
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
 
 
                                            David Whyte
 
 

FORGIVE ME, FORGIVE ME NOT

          Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function                                   regardless of the temperature of the heart.                                 Corey Ten Boom
 
How do you see betrayal? I’m talking the range of being lied to by the person you love, to cheating, to violence. Do you go soft oncrimes of the heart? Or are you hard-headed? Here is where I seepeople faltering. Too many people have surrendered expecting anapology. Too many people forgive no matter what, just to quash
the tension and eliminate that queasy feeling in their stomach.
                                                                   ~
Without expecting remorse and restitution, you the suckers, you
the softies, and you the saviors are doing nothing short of closing your eyes to emotional crimes. Be it rudeness or raged at by your
loved one, both require remorse and restitution. Step up. Speak
up. On behalf of your heart, your goodness, your self-respect.
                                                                     ~
Has the time come? Are you ready to stop resenting and start
taking care of yourself? Then here’s your fist step.
 
 “Whether you deliberately hurt me or unknowingly hurting me,  tell me sincerely that you’re sorry… and I’m mush. Then tell me,
in detail, what you learned about yourself from your mistake.”
No apology? No humility. No growth? No way. 
As Heidi Klum says, “You’re out.”