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

--

Don't forget to join our monthly mastermind! Take a moment to register here. 

5 Ways We Unknowingly Sabotage Relationships

I've been fascinated with relationships since I was 5 years old. Seriously. I remember playing tag in the kindergarten playground, and being curious why nothing happened when I was tagged by a boy, and nothing happened. Wait, to my intrigue/disappointment, "coodies" were not real.

In kindergarten, we're guided by imaginary germs, things we've been told, and what we've made them mean. As adults, what imaginary things are we afraid of? The stories change, but the premise remains...we create the world we live in.

If I create my world, why don't I have the relationship I want?

What if you do?

Sometimes we sabotage the exactly thing we want for unknown, or unconscious reasons. Usually, they're "survival notes" our unconscious has made along the way. Our thoughts and behavior give us insight to what our notes contain. The unconscious mind responds to questions, which is one of the reasons self-inquiry offers us greater insight into who we are. I've come up with a few signs to look for that may indicate that we're unconsciously sabotaging our relationships. Are you ready? Here they are:

  1. We're not fully available. If you are playing games and ignoring the other person for fun, that's your choice; but know that you're not fully available. Let's distinguish between time availability and emotional availability because they're both important. If you're busy, and getting back to someone as you can, it's different from intentionally being unavailable. Yes, your time and energy should go towards what's most important to you, which most likely doesn't include a coffee date with someone from Bumble; however, if you truly want to find someone t build a relationship with, you're going to have to set some time aside. As for emotional availability, if you're not in a place to connect with someone, take the time for yourself to do the personal work  you need to do. In the big picture, you'll be happy you did. I'll use myself as an example. I want an incredible person to build a life and lasting relationship with...that means that I'm going to have to put myself out there, and be willing to do the work, and set time aside to meet new people, and invest in myself and my life, so I sync up with the vision I hold. 
  2. We're not present with the other person. If we're distracted by our thoughts (ie. I need to get my car washed, and pick up my dry cleaning, etc.), it will take us out of the moment. Make a list of what you need to get done, and do it when you can. If a thought comes up, ask, "Is there anything I can do about it now? Do I need to do something about it now?" If both answers are no, then set it aside and re-engage with the lovely person who decided they wanted to spend this hour with you. If you are constantly checking your phone while sitting across the table from someone, you're (perhaps unknowingly) indicating that you'd rather be somewhere else. I'm not saying to never look at your phone, but checking it incessantly is an indicator that you may benefit from putting the phone away, and being more present with the person right in front of you. Other ways to be present is to make eye contact, ask questions, and genuinely connect in the moment.
  3. We make up a story that isn't true. We decide that them leaving the toilet seat up or down is passive aggressive. Sometimes, it's easier to make a list that separates the actions ("What happened?") and the meaning that was applied ("To me, it meant..."). When we can separate the two, we can see the situation more clearly, and see what we brought to the situation. 
  4. We're scared of what we want. This is a major one. "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough" territory. The thing is our dreams should scare us...it's because we don't know them yet, and on a primal level anything unknown feels like a death threat. Consciously, we know that our dreams won't kill us, but we're hard-wired to survive, and our survival instinct only knows that we can survive what we have already experienced. That doesn't mean that we can't experience something new...rather we just need to know that that is where our fear is coming from, and we can choose whether or not to let that steer our actions or not. 
  5. We make someone else responsible. The moment you blame your partner on a regular basis, it's time to take a step back. You are choosing to be with them after all. Keep that in mind. What is their behavior provoking in me? Of course, it's easy to say s/he "made me" do it. But that's never actually true. You DID it. They DID it. But you didn't make them do anything, and visa versa. As long as you make someone else is responsible, you remain in a place where they have power over you. Take back your power, and step into the space of, "I trust myself. What would I like to do?"

The first step to breaking unconscious patterns is to become aware of them. Congrats! You've begun the process simply by being here. If you're wanting to create a different dynamic, you'll continue to step #2: Track the pattern back to where you first learned it. How old were you? What was going on at the time? How was this thought of belief intended to serve or protect you at the time? By appreciating where it came from, and the positive intention behind it, you've now acknowledged that it's been at work behind the scenes, and you now have the choice to expand the belief. Ask yourself, "How do I now choose to expand my beliefs? Who do I become, and who am I as I embody this expanded belief system?" *I will say that this taps into a process that can take several months to unfold, however, we can dive into this process of personal introspection at any time we choose, so I offer a few suggestions here, in case that's something you'd like to do. 

Now that we've discussed 5 major ways we tend to sabotage our relationships, and how to begin the process of understanding ourselves more, I'd like to close on this note: People are who they are, not who we want them to be. The same is true for us: Do you want to be who you are, or who others want you to be?

Just as we want the freedom to be ourselves (and loved and accepted for it!), so does the person next to you. It's a part of our humanity. So, give yourself some grace, realize we're all doing the best we can, and see what happens when you show up with the intention to be present with yourself, and those whom you're with.

If you experience is anything like mine, it'll change how you see the world. 

One more thing :) I would like to mention letting go of the past as honorary #6 for this list. Accept your past for what it is, and that it got you here. Every present moment is finite, and living in the past takes away from the possibility of the present. Allow yourself to move on, be it from from a relationship, a hurtful fight, whatever may weigh you down. Thank the other person, or the experience for being in your life. Approach the lessons you've learned, and the time you've shared with reverence. Know you'll always have that. Just because you choose to walk away to move forward (or someone else does), it doesn't erase all the memories. Be grateful for them. Take them with you how you'd like, and step forward as the brilliant, refined, evolving person you are.

Go get 'em xx

Our Wives Hate Us - Part II - Resolving Relationship Conflict

I'd like to elaborate on an entry I wrote ("Our Wives Hate Us") last week, and go further by exploring how to resolve conflict when it comes up in our relationships. The context of the aforementioned article was marriages struggling with infidelity, so I will talk about what this looks like when we encounter possible deal breakers, and how it's different, yet can still be applied with daily, or smaller issues that come up.

I'll begin by saying that often the things we think are deal breaker, can look or feel completely different once we're in them. You may never tolerate someone being unfaithful -- that is your choice. I've found that in many situations in life, that which we automatically thought we'd do is not what we decide once we are actually faced with the situation. That's ok. Part of our work as human beings having the opportunity to be alive includes the need to figure shit out. Sometimes it's something we don't want to do, and sometimes it's in situations we never thought we'd find ourselves in...nonetheless, we have to do something, so we might as well respond to the best of our abilities.

These questions will help you take a step back, gain greater perspective, and guide you through how to align with your highest priorities. Here we go...

  • What is at stake? Take an inventory of where you are. If I'm six weeks into a relationship, I may look at infidelity differently than if I were married with three kids. This is because I'm willing to cut my losses at six weeks of my life, and treat such behavior as a red flag for which to do so. The more that is at stake, the more difficult this decision becomes, but it makes it simpler at the same time: there's a lot on the line, what's most important to you?
  • What do I need? If I know that I'm heartbroken, but I don't know what I need...I can get stuck in the emotional upheaval. The most wonderful thing about this question is when we pause to ask ourselves it, we will always receive an answer. You'll have a thought or idea, your subconscious will make something known to you. Use this circumstance as a reason to get to know yourself more intimately, to feel what you need feel, and to acknowledge what you need. 
  • What does my partner need? If we can have the wherewithal to ask what need is driving my partner's actions, we will get much further in understanding the underpinnings of our current dynamic. If we haven't been intimate for months, and have been feeling disconnected, there's a part of him/her who gave up on getting their physical and/or emotional needs met within the relationship. If we know and communicate our needs to one another, and desire to meet them for each other, we are much more likely to be able to resolve a potential issue within the relationship before it escalates to the extent of infidelity. On a lighter note, being in a mindset of, how can I make my partner feel good, what does him/her need, and what do I want to do for them to make that happen?, will improve the quality of your relationship ten-fold. We all too often give others what we need because we assume they want the same things...don't make this assumption, learn the needs of your partner, as well as know what your needs are too.
  • Are we sorry? Nothing can resolve an issue as quickly, or delay a resolution so long as the offering, or absence, of a genuine, heartfelt apology. If you feel bad, apologize. Apologize for what you feel badly about, and be specific (I'm sorry for...). It's ok to ask for an apology too. They don't have to give you one, but they may not have thought of it, but either way, you'll learn a bit about how this person operates. Ask yourself, "Is this conflict worth keeping alive because I'm too stubborn to apologize, or more dedicated to being right?"
  • Are we willing to change? If we're willing to change, then we decide together what that looks like, how it's going to happen, and how we are going to stay accountable. It may take professional help, so be willing to find the solutions that best support your success. If you're not willing to change, then that needs to be acknowledged too. What is then more important in this situation? What needs to be accepted as is? What am I unwilling to compromise on? Is this realistic? If your expectation sets the other person up for failure, then this will breed even deeper conflict. Lastly, ask yourself, "What am I so hung up on? What am I so unwilling to do?"
  • Are we willing to forgive? If I refuse to forgive you, our relationship is over. It's that simple. Furthermore, if I'm going to forgive, I have to mean it with my entire being. What happened is over. It is in the past. Do you want to keep inviting it into the present? The emotional residue (pain, distrust, anger, grief, resentment, etc.) will keep it alive. So understanding your emotions, and processing them is crucial. The same goes for behavior...doing the same things that created the issue in the first place  will recreate it again. Have amends been made? How does it feel to let go of the pain, and surrendering it to the past?
  • Do I still love you? If you no longer love each other, or one person no longer feels love for the other, you're treading on dangerous terrain. If I still love you, I am much more likely to want to work through difficult times. Once the love is gone, the quality of the relationship that remains will continue to decline unless major changes occur.
  • How do we rebuild trust and respect? If you've gotten this far, and have both committed to rebuilding trust and respect, then you must decide together what that looks like, and what the terms are. Deeming this as the start of greater transparency and honesty between you, and seeing this as a something you didn't allow to destroy you, will slowly begin fortifying the foundation of your relationship.
  • Do we want to rebuild? It's one thing to know what needs to be done, yet it's quite another to want to do the work. Are you committed to healing the past and moving forward? Are you both willing to do what it takes? Do you know in your heart that this is what you want more than anything? That's how badly you have to want it...anything less may not be strong enough.

If we look at these questions, and treat them as a self-discovery process, we will also become better partners along the way. If we genuinely want to know, understand, and love each other, our love, commitment, and resilience has to be stronger than the forces against them. Our fractures have to be reinforced and healed, and not broken the same way again and again. As long as we show up to create the strongest love we can share together, the causes that fractured it will teach us, and bring us closer rather than tear us apart. How will we allow the experiences we have to define us? What are the experiences we seek to co-create? Who are we when we come from a place of creating the best relationships we can?

The Makings of Extraordinary Love

I started this blog with the intention of sharing stories about real-life relationships that shared the love most of us dream about, crave, and hope exists.

As I started researching and interviewing people, I realized I was learning a lot more about things that compromise love in relationships rather than the love that's shared. So, this will be the first in a two-part entry that discusses the elements that allow extraordinary love to be possible, and then those that often lead to its detriment.

When I was sixteen, I believed that I, too, would someday fall madly in love with the love of my life. Twelve years later, there's a part of me that is still holding out for that. My notions of what love is have also evolved and expanded quite a bit.

Extraordinary love, to me, is two people strongly committed to creating the most loving relationship they possibly can. Furthermore, it's the conscious effort to make each other feel special, to meet each other’s needs, and to truly want to be better together.

The last article I wrote was about infidelity and animosity in marriages. I'd argue that both are symptoms of the breakdown of love in the relationship. That is to say they love each other, but stopped feeling loving and loved somewhere along the way. It's a glorious oversimplification, but it's most likely true.

These are some of the elements that enhance, and are characteristic of extraordinary love within a relationship:

  • The way you look at each other; you know the “look”
  • Being conscientious; do you anticipate and seek to meet each other’s needs?
  • Affection, physical connection
  • Laughter; do you enjoy each other? At the end of the day, can you let things go and enjoy silly moments together?
  • Spontaneity; do you still surprise each other?
  • Deeply knowing one another, and seeking to continuously know more
  • Giving and receiving; do you give freely? Do you receive and thank your partner for what they give to you? 
  • Support of each other’s dreams and endeavors; do you believe in them?
  • Shared dreams; do you have a vision you've co-created for your life together?
  • Respect; do you protect each other’s integrity?
  • Trust; can you trust that you'll be there for each other? Do you mean what you say? Do your actions follow suit?
  • Making agreements; do you discuss decisions together? Do you establish to hear each other out and be respectful of each other’s opinions? Have you resolved to figure things out together?
  • Compliments; do you notice and share what you like about each other?
  • Acceptance; do you criticize each other or recognize your frustration, and lovingly accept that we’re imperfect human beings?
  • Forgiveness; do you choose to apologize, forgive, and move forward? 
  • Intentions; do you trust each other's intentions? 
  • Willingness to re-evaluate; are you willing to be wrong?  Are you willing to admit it, and seek resolution?
  • Loyalty; would you fight for your partner? Do you know you have each other's back? 
  • Daily collaboration; how do you work together? Do you regularly handle situations as a team?
  • Graciousness; do you truly want to do things for each other?
  • Appreciation; do you recognize the ways in which you appreciate each other?
  • Love and like; do you love each other? Do you like each other? Do your actions towards one another reflect that you do?

As you reflect on these 22 elements, which do you feel strong in? Which would you like to improve?

Anything you'd add? Let me know by mentioning it in the comments below.

Extraordinary love begins with the desire to be better. To decide to notice more. To be more conscious of how you show up in your relationship. The fact that you're here shows that it's something you're willing to create, and the sooner the better, so go make extraordinary love.

Xx-

Meg

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:



Fighting Fair

In a relationship, there are few things that feel as low as waking up the morning after a blowout fight. What's the aftermath? What happened? Where are we at? How did we get here? Why did I say that? Did I mean what I said? Did he mean what he said? How do I feel about it now? Where do we go from here?

Do I want to work through this?

Furthermore, if drinking was involved...it was likely more emotional, dramatic, illogical, and blurred than had the subject been discussed otherwise.

However, regardless of the circumstances, it most likely hit an unconscious trigger point. Even more so if drinking was involved...seeing that it suppresses the conscious mind, which prompts the sub/unconscious to take over. We can discuss that in a future post. So for now, let's focus on what you know triggers you. Or, if you're not exactly sure, start with taking inventory...when was the last time you felt emotionally triggered? Is there a pattern you recognize over time?

Unfortunately, it wasn't until after my last relationship ended that I learned about the unconscious drama (or dance...depending on the day) that creates the underlying dynamics between a couple.

Getting into a relationship with someone brings up all our stuff. There's no better way to get in touch with our deeper thoughts and feelings than embarking on the process of getting to know someone new, becoming close, learning about them, sharing about ourselves, and here's the big one...seeing what comes up when we feel vulnerable with someone...especially in a romantic context.

Let's also add that falling in love chemically mirrors a drug high that has potential to form an addiction. Oh, the beauty of neuroscience. Not only are we experiencing all these things, but the other person is going through a similar process with all their own thoughts, beliefs, and triggers too. (Yay!) This is where things can get convoluted. Is this me, or is it them?

In the past, had I known what was happening as it happened, high stakes conversations would have gone quite differently. Now that I know what to look for (clues such as heightened emotions, reactive behavior, etc.), my mission is to work with as many individuals and couples as possible who want to incorporate higher levels of awareness into their lives, and therefore consciously create more fulfilling, meaningful relationships. If you're like me, you'd prefer to understand what's going on, and learn how to do something differently next time to make it better. Let me share a few things I've learned, and how I've opted to approach these conversations moving forward.

What I Wish I Would Have Done Differently:

  • I would have asked, "What happened?" rather than "Why did you do that?" The first question seeks to understand, while the second assumes judgement or blame. If someone feels judged or blamed, they're much more likely to feel attacked, and shift into defensive mode...no bueno.
  • I would have held more space for my emotions. I didn't think anything good could come from voicing my doubts or concerns in the relationship, so I simply didn't share them. My bad. What we avoid gets harder to ignore until we decide to take it on, and deal with it. The sooner we take it on, the less intense it is, and the less time it takes to work through it. If I would have shared my concerns earlier, they wouldn't have been accompanied with resentment, and so emotionally charged, once I finally did share them.
  • I would have asked, "What I am to learn here?" every damn day. It shifts me out of being annoyed about things that are happening, and allows me to recognize that I can choose to believe that things are happening for me, not to me.

What I Do Now Instead:

  • I seek to understand rather than to jump to conclusions.
  • I understand the difference between honesty with an intention to connect and honesty with disregard. The first can foster trust and connection, while being honest without consideration of the other person can be hurtful and damaging. The second part of this equation is to be able to listen and acknowledge the other person's thoughts and what's true for them, without taking it personally.
  • I share how I feel. Not super effective: "You're an asshole." Rather: "I felt disrespected when I was waiting for you, and I hadn't heard from you." This goes back to phrasing something in a way that expresses your truth without throwing someone into defense mode.
  • I approach a conversation with the intent of finding a way to do it differently: "What can we do instead next time?"
  • I recognize the difference between who my partner is, and what it is he does. Taking one action and blowing it up to signify who he is, isn't playing fair.
  • I always ask myself, "How significant is this?" I've come to live by the belief that life is a gift and spending it negatively for any longer than necessary isn't worth it to me. If it's not that significant in the big picture, let's address it, and move on. If it's life-altering, give it the time and consideration it deserves.
  • When in doubt, I take a EDM dance break. Physical movement shifts our energy. Jumping up and down, getting into a rhythm, being silly, and having fun never fails. If you're somewhere that isn't conducive for 5-minute dance break, take a walk, and listen to a song (or two) that makes you feel good. I feel like being in a heavy or low energy state for too long can become a downward spiral. The only way out is to spiral upward instead, so get to know the things that are upward catalysts for you.

As we start becoming more curious about who we are and what we do, we pay more attention, make more observations, and consequently, expand our personal awareness. As our awareness expands, we begin to realize that things can be different, and if things can be different, we now have choices we didn't see before. Do you tend to feel more motivated when you feel like you don't have a choice, or when you do have one? I've found that the feeling of not having a choice can be quite a motivator to find another way. However, feeling like there are no other options can lead us to feel stuck and paralyzed. What's most important is to find what works best for you.

Take a few moments today to take inventory of what works well for you, and where you'd like to redirect your energy. If you're curious about what comes up for you when it comes to relationship dynamics and would like to work with me, check out my private programs, and schedule a consultation with me here.

Love + light,

Meg

What's Really Important

I recently watched an episode of "Suits" on USA. As one of the partners is convincing his client to accept the terms they negotiated for her divorce, she asked him for a reason why. He mentions how the divorce itself can cause people to lose sight of what's really important, like the well-being of the children involved. These three words: What's really important made me think of them in the context of a life philosophy. My parent's separated when I was 8. I wasn't upset with the divorce itself...I was upset with behavior that it triggered. Granted, I am grateful that my parents handled it the way they did. I recognize how much messier it could have been, and how much longer it could have dragged on, and more damaging it could have been. For the most part, they kept my brother and me in mind, and wanted to honor what we wanted. However, I remember the instances where behavior was triggered by pain that overrode the priority of protecting us from the fallout. I understand how it's almost always an impossible situation to navigate, both for the adults and children involved. The resiliency of the human spirit never fails to amaze me.

Maybe these early experiences led to me to often ask myself, "When this is over, what will I remember?" I've come to learn that undue damage is something I try to avoid at all costs. In the context of ending a relationship, I try to focus on the fact that breaking up doesn't negate all the love and good things that were shared. We may be over, but I want to honor us and the role we played in each other's lives. This outlook has transformed the way I process a break up. It took a few breakups for me to know that on some level a break up is better than staying in the wrong relationship, and if one of the parties wants out, it's probably not right. Learning this has been a huge lesson in letting go of the past in order to feel present. Pain from the past plagued my present for much too long, and I decided I didn't want to live that way for the rest of my life.

What if things didn't happen to us, but happened for us?

Do I want to go deeper into this mess, or grieve, clean up the broken pieces, and choose to be stronger for it?

How can I make the best of this?

Who am I as the person I want to be?

I did an informal poll amongst people I know and asked them what they'd say were the greatest moments of their life. Despite being all different ages, and from all different places, almost everyone included the following moments: when they met/fell in love with/married their partner, the birth of their child, overcoming health scares (personally and their loved ones), family trips and quality time, professional/educational accomplishments, and world travel.

Will this matter in the big picture? 

When it comes to my personal method of decision-making, I often ask myself, "How can I make as many memorable, significant experiences as often as possible?" Then I consult my intuition...does this feel right? Is this a yes? Is this a no? As I've learned to trust my gut more, and follow it more often, I have much less hesitation in doing so. I used to need a reason, and now, I don't need to know why. Knowing what I feel, and trusting that...trusting myself is enough for me. It's harder for me to let go of the things I did that I didn't feel completely right about, or recognized in retrospect that I felt hesitancy as I moved forward. Now I know it's ok to follow a gut feeling that something's not right. In my opinion, few things are better than following your gut, and feeling right as things work out.

The point of all this is to recognize that we're all here to experience different paths. All we can do is our best to discover who we are when we are living most authentically, and to respect, love, and share with each other as we embark on these experiences of life. We're human. Mistakes will be made. And just as easily, we can make beautiful, significant moments.

When I feel stuck, or need a way to reset my perspective, I've always found these questions to help: "How will I make today extraordinary? What's really important?" Then, I get to making it a reality. There's always something to do. Pick the best, most exhilarating way to go...if it's not the time of your life, it's practice. Practice as much good stuff as you can. In the end, all we want is as many moments of love, joy, exhilaration, and feeling so completely alive that it takes our breath away. Seek those things, and expect them...they're waiting to be called on and experienced.