Five Things We Can Do for Ourselves That Also Make Us Better Partners

One of the cornerstone theories I coach by is: If we focus on being our best, our relationships automatically benefit.

Most relationship issues stem from one or both individuals having a personal struggle that then strains the relationship. This stress compromises communication, and can throw us into crisis mode. When we're amidst our fight-or-flight response, everything that doesn't help us either fight or run away is physically suppressed.  This limited resource state can be the opposite of what we need to constructively problem solve, and shift into action to resolve the issue at hand.

While this may vary for everyone, what I personally strive for is to participate in a relationship dynamic wherein we can trust each other to handle  our own stuff, and we also know we can count on each other to tackle life's challenges together. I think of it as a flow between making decisions collaboratively and independently. Some couples like to make all their decisions together, and others focus on sharing the important ones...what matters most is what's best for you, and your relationship.

While the art of navigating relationships involves weaving between interdependence and autonomy, much of what helps us create successful relationships is connected to the ever evolving relationship we cultivate with ourselves. 

Here are five areas where what we do for ourselves also benefits our relationships:

  1. Personal hygiene - I'm beginning here because physical affection reflects extraordinary love.  When hygiene and pheromones are just right...the way your partner smells to you is intoxicating (in a good way). No reason to jeopardize that by letting yourself slide in the self-care department. Personal hygiene is indicative of one's self-esteem, so assess whether your daily habits reflect you at your best. If being close to someone is something you want, being the self-respecting person who takes pride in taking care of him/herself is a great way to honor yourself and your relationship.
  2. Your state of mind regarding your career - Yes, there are elements of our jobs that we simply don't like, but they come with the territory. So, we either do them, or hire them out; the choice is ours. Our job satisfaction can vary greatly on the perspective we bring to the work we do. If you're in a job you do not like, it may be time for an accept/reject conversation. The accept segment involves recognizing that there are reasons why you are doing what you're doing, and there's an acceptance that lies in acknowledging your reasons. The reject segment pertains to the things you refuse to accept, and decide to change. That would include beginning to look for another job, or committing to creating supplemental areas of income, so you begin to step into the possibilities available to you. Complaining about work, and bringing that home every day is not only taxing on you and your soul, but it can also damper your relationship. Also, if we're complaining and hyper-focused on the negative, we are often negating or neglecting other positive elements in our lives. So if we need a reminder, remember there's this person you care about who has chosen to spend their days with you; what do you want your influence on your time together to be?
  3. Fun (Yay!) - Are you having enough fun? You most likely knew the answer to that before you even finished reading the question :)  If you're a YES, you're a rock star, proceed to #4. If you're a no, you have plans to make! What can you do to bring more fun into your life? In what ways can you have more FUN together?
  4. Kindness towards ourselves - We tend to be our own toughest critic, so it can take a concerted effort to give ourselves some grace. Being kind to ourselves generates good energy, which then radiates to those we're around. Can you think of how it feels different when we're around someone who's in a positive state of mind versus someone who's in a negative energetic state? Which would you rather spend more time with? The person we spend all of our time with is ourselves, so pick your roommate accordingly ;)
  5. Knowledge of our passions - You know when you do something that excites you and you feel an amazing rush? What are a few of the things you do that engage you with your passion? Not only do our passions bring a richness to our lives, but they also amp up our personal magnetism. We are naturally drawn to passionate people. There is a distinct vibrancy to them and how they live their lives. It doesn't have to be all the time, but we do need to make time for the things we're excited about. Have you had a moment when you fell a little bit more in love with someone by seeing them do what they love? That's the feeling we create as we engage in our passions and share them with the world.

Now I'd like to hear from you! What other things have you noticed that make you feel good, and also enhance your relationships? Please share your experience in the comments below.

To the art of interdependence and independence xx


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When Love Hurts

When a couple breaks up, there’s always a lot of accompanying pain. It’s essential for both partners to give into the pain. Some people try to avoid the pain through accusations or laying blame. Who’s to blame? Am I to blame? Is he or she to blame? Behind such accusations or attempts to assign the guilt lies a fantasy that it could’ve been other than it was. Or even, perhaps, that it could be turned around. Life flows forward, not backward.
— Bert Hellinger

A dear friend of mine recently recommended that I listen to Lea Thau's "Love Hurts" podcast series. I had a mini-roadtrip, so I played all 6 episodes (there's a 4-part series, then an anniversary episode, and a follow-up) along the drive from LA to San Diego last weekend. Through interviewing men she had dated, Lea was able to gain an additional sense of closure. From my perspective, this journey allowed her to lay parts of the past to rest, and heal some residual pain and heartache, which then allowed her to open her heart up again, in a different way, for love.

There's something humbling and empowering about realizing something you may have taken very personally, really had little to do with you. While there are plenty of things that can turn us off to a person, if someone breaks up with you, they're most likely doing you a favor. I say this because, at the end of the day, fighting for someone who's decided they can't or do not want to be with you, typically only leads to more heartbreak.

Not to reveal too many spoilers, but to share some of Lea's story...her last significant relationship was with her fiancé who left her when she was 8 months pregnant. As you can imagine, that would be quite a traumatic experience to come back from. She was single for 4 years after that, and then decided to create a series to investigate why she was still single. So naturally, she decided to interview her exes and ask them. Throughout the process, she asks some tough questions, and in my opinion, is able to realize that someone not wanting to date her wasn't necessarily because something was wrong with her. Most of the time, it came down to timing, location, and intensity of emotions, or lack thereof. I'd also argue that there's an intangible chemistry that may or may not have a reason for existing, but we want, or even need, it to be there in order to feel excited about someone. 

The older I get, and the more experience I have coaching individuals and couples, I continue to gain appreciation for the complexity beneath why we do what we do. Then, there's why we THINK we do what we do. It's part of the magic...there's always more to discover.

From a professional perspective, there are two points I'd like to address when love hurts:

  • What is my pain trying to tell me?
  • Where do I go when I'm in pain?

Pain is one of the strongest emotions we experience as human beings. It varies in severity, of course, and can also serve as in indicator of something we need to pay attention to. The difference between pain being an informant and motivator OR the beginning of our demise is whether we decide to grow from our pain, or empower it to cripple us.

I met a gentleman earlier this week who shared with me his experience handling his divorce. When he moved out of their family home, he established himself in his new place, and gave himself 90 days to acknowledge, sit in, and be in the grieving process. He made a promise to himself that he could be where ever he needed to for the next three months, but on the 15th of X month, he would be finished, and lay his grief to rest.

I asked him what made him decide to do that, to which he mentioned how he saw other guys he knew who, post divorce, would get wrapped up in constant partying, and destructive patterns. He saw a possible outcome, and knew he didn't want that to happen to him.

This man acknowledged and listened to his pain, and allowed a space for it to exist. He saw the detriment of other guys who avoided and attempted to numb out the pain, which unfortunately, is momentarily effective, at best, and devastating, at worse. It will feel nearly impossible at the time, and there will be days when you may question your ability to survive, but many have come before you with broken hearts, shattered lives, and have too, picked up the pieces, and perhaps have even become better because of it. How do you listen to your pain, and how do you let it define you?

Our pain also can allow us to receive great insight into who we are and how we feel about ourselves, others, and the world. If you're seeking a different experience, then looking at these beliefs will be crucial to doing so. It doesn't have to be some dramatic epiphany, but one way or another, it's part of the process. How long it takes, however, is greatly up to you.

I find transformational coaching can be particularly effective in moving through heartbreak because it focuses on taking a look at the meaning we derive from experiences we have. I've worked with enough clients to know that we can be in the same room, same family, same relationship; however, the same experience or context can mean very different things for each observer or participant. The good news is, with understanding and curiosity, we can shape we meaning we give something, and that gives us power to craft who we are, and the way we live our lives.

One of the fundamental frameworks of transformational coaching is to shift from “Why did this happen?” to “What happened, and what did I make it mean?”

Sometimes it's hard to do on our own, so that's one of the reasons the transformational coaching process can be uniquely effective in supporting individuals in healthy relationships. If we can learn and understand rather than repeatedly experience communication breakdown during conflict, we can begin to trust our ability to safeguard the quality of our connection, and health of our relationship.

When you look back (or maybe you're in it right now), is it possible to see that your pain has been a catalyst for creating something in your life that you value now, but may not have experienced otherwise? How has it prompted you to look at something, or someone differently, perhaps with more compassion, or for the better?

Remember this - there's always a choice, and the choice is yours:

Will I allow this to shut down or expand my capacity for love?

I'd love to hear from you. How have you overcome heartbreak? What served as your light at the end of the tunnel? Head over to our Facebook page, and share your story. 

If you'd like to check out the Strangers' "Love Hurts" series, you can listen to the episodes here:

We Hire People Too Easily + Fire Them Too Slow

Earlier today, I saw this post by Matthew Hussey:

Who can relate? Lol

Posted by Matthew Hussey on Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It reminded me of this quote I heard from Perry Marshall at Entrepreneurship Magazine's GrowthCon in Long Beach, CA yesterday. 

When he said this, I knew I had to apply it to the dating world: 

We hire people too easily, and fire them too slow!
— Perry Marshall

It immediately made me think about how quickly we can like and fall for  someone, and yet in comparison, we often delay, avoid, or deny ending a relationship that in our heart we know is over.

Life has many layers, and the complexity of our love lives runs deep. What I'll leave you with is this: When getting to know someone new, step into a place of I'm curious who you are. See how they treat you, how they talk about others, what's important to them, and discover the things that make them who they are. 

And if you're "firing too slow," I would invite you to ask, Is this relationship worthy of my future time? Everything up to the present moment has already happened and is accounted for, but each moment beyond it lies opportunity for choice, potential, and possibility.

What potential are you tapping into, and which possibilities are you allowing the room to be actualized?

If you're not sure, take a look what you spend your time doing, the people with whom you spend it, and the thoughts and emotions you experience throughout the day. Then, see if those things match up and align with the part of yourself who knows when things are in alignment, and you feel right and at home with who you really are.

If we're dedicating time to the people who take us away from where we want to be, it's time lost with those who bring us closer to it. Where would you rather spend your time and live your life?

If it's up to me, I choose to stand and honor the extraordinary.



The Dating Yips

My brother is a golfer, and has introduced me to a term I'll never forget: the yips. It's common knowledge in the golfing world, but until now, it was a completely foreign concept to me. Earlier today, as we were discussing coaching practices together (he's a certified Newfield Network Coach, and I'm completing my Transformational Coaching Method certification), he coined the term, "the dating yips." I told him I had to write about this.

You may be wondering...what is a yip? It's is an involuntary muscle movement or spasm that affects the ability to carry out a smooth hand/wrist movement. In golf, it's typically seen in putting. Instead of a smooth movement through a swing, a player decels as a yip interferes with executing a smooth putting motion. It has nothing to do with skill level, and has affected masterful golfers during their professional careers.

What I find the most fascinating is that the yips are accompanied with a loss of previously demonstrated level of skill. More to come on this in Part II...

The yip represents a psychological, often sub- or unconscious barrier that comes up involuntarily. It's like a hidden trigger that's pushed without your conscious awareness. This is where a dating yip comes in. I would argue that the dating process is where we're inherently vulnerable to coming up against mental and emotional barriers that show up (usually at inopportune times), and totally throw us off our game.

I would say dating yips are the things that come up and get in the way of us being who we want to be, especially when it comes to our love lives.

What are a few examples of a dating yip?

-When you decide you like someone, and all the sudden you act completely different around them

-When what you know you want is out of accordance with what you're accepting (ie. texting an ex when you know you no longer want to be with them)

-You really like someone, and you get scared and run away

-You really like someone, and you come on way too strong

-Almost any time feelings and emotions aren't aligning with our behavior

So, how do you get rid of the yips? The Dating Yips - Part II will focus precisely on how.

For right now, I'll leave you with this to think about:

Scientists at the Technical University of Munich argue that the yips can be counteracted by first making a fist with the left hand "as the left-hand side of the body is wired to the right hemisphere of the brain – the side that controls automated rather than conscious behaviour."

We can work with what we're aware of, but we have to explore ourselves in a deeper way to discover the undercurrents that are at work on a subconscious and unconscious level. The benefits in doing so include: less yips (yay!), less self-sabotage (ie. you have consistent motion towards experiencing what you really want), and tapping into a sense of personal empowerment because you can trust yourself and how you participate in your life.

Yips may be part of the process, but we can decide how long it takes to learn from them, and move forward. After all, yips only happen when we're in a stagnant state, so as we stay in motion and maintain momentum, we're less likely to be affected by unexpected bumps in the road.

Here's to consistent and intended movement - and learning from our yips.

Love + light,



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