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Money! Money! Where’s the Money Honey?

July 25th, 2013

If we go back 50 years or so, we find a “normal” couple with the husband going off to work, while the wife stayed home working around the house and taking care of the kids. Typically, the husband brought home all the money. When he brought his pay check home on Friday, he either gave the money to his wife to manage the finances, while taking a weekly allowance for his expenses, or he managed all the finances giving his wife a weekly allowance her expenses. That’s the way it was. It all worked pretty well, since there was an agreed understanding on how the money was to be handled.

Then the world changed! Today, in most families, both partners are working and bringing home separate pay checks. What to do? How can couples lovingly deal with money in 2013?

I usually see couples using two different systems. In one system, a couple deposits all of their money into one account and the money belongs to everybody. “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine.” This often creates resentment, because, “Maybe you put in more money than me, and you don’t feel it’s fair that I just bought this new pair of $450.00 shoes. You’re upset because I didn’t ask you first. And besides, you have been depriving yourself of that new belt you have been eyeing because it cost $75.00. I feel insulted because I’m an adult and I don’t feel I need to ask for permission to buy a new pair of shoes. Who are you to say I can’t buy them? I work!” We fight and fight, and ugh. This system doesn’t seem to create intimacy. It doesn’t work too well.

In the second system, both partners have their own accounts and they don’t mix their money at all. “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours.” The good news is each person takes care of their own bills and as long as they fulfill their financial commitment to the relationship, they can buy whatever they want. They often split the expenses. One pays the mortgage or rent, while the other buys the food and pays for the utilities. This system also seems to create resentment. “You never turn off the lights! I pay for them!” “You always buy too much food and it goes bad in the refrigerator. If you’re not going to eat it don’t buy it, and no, we’re not buying lobster again this week!” Or, the other partner feels there’s an imbalance in what they pay for the mortgage or rent verses the cost of food and utilities. Beside the resentment factor, this system does not create a sense of bonding that we’re in this together working as a team toward a common goal.” The sense of couple or family tends to get lost.

When I look at a couple I see three entities. I see each partner as individuals and I see the relationship. Each one of these entities needs it’s own space, time and money. It’s not exactly 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. There is what I call a “flexible balance.” What I mean by this is that sometimes the relationship itself is the center of focus and it gets 55% of the space, time and money. At other times, when maybe one of the partners is sick or has a serious deadline at work, that partner would get 60% of the space, time and money. There is an understanding that things change depending on what’s going on in the moment. And, there’s also an attempt to create a balance with the three entities. When a couple creates this type of system, resentment and hurt often diminish, while intimacy and loving increases.

If a couple uses this type of system with their money, then some wonderful things can happen. Let’s say a couple’s monthly expenses are $1,500.00 a month. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) I know it’s more than that, but for simplicity sake let’s just use that number. When I think of monthly expenses I’m thinking of the rent or mortgage, utilities, phone, food, insurance, entertainment, and any other monthly expense the couple or family experiences. This number is usually pretty constant although it can change a bit. The number doesn’t have to be exact. You can always raise or lower it after a month or two. Sitting down and coming up with this number can be a scary process for some couples. It can also be a very intimate and exciting time where a couple can realistically look at where they are financially and where they want to go together.

After the couple knows what their monthly expenses are, how do they split them up? If they basically make the same, then it’s very simple. They both put $750.00 a month into the kitty. If one partner makes twice what the other makes, then one partner puts in $500.00 and the other puts in $1,000.00. They each pay the appropriate percentage based on their income. This means they are both contributing toward the common goals of the relationship, and they both have their own money to use however they wish to use it. No one needs to ask permission to buy an item. If one partner wants to treat the other to breakfast, a movie, or to buy a gift, it’s a romantic gesture. Using this system, the couple, as well as, each of the partners are taken into consideration. Intimacy and loving are created. This system also works with families where children are involved. It just needs a bit of modifying to account for all of the members in the family.

There is another aspect to money that I would like to address. Some people can get very petty when it comes to keeping track of money. They want to balance it out to the penny. This is important to know. Some people want to ignore this and that’s when they get into trouble. The question in my mind is: “How do we use this information to create more loving and intimacy in the relationship?” I would suggest that you have fun with it. There is a part of us that I call the “Basic Self” and it’s that part that keeps track of the money. The Basic Self’s job is to keep us alive and money – being energy or a source of energy – is important if we are to survive on this planet. Therefore, from the Basic Self’s point of view, tracking money is just its way of making sure no one dies. So, if a couple embraces the tracking of money as a way of supporting each others survival, the idea of counting dollars becomes a powerful way to say “I love you” to each other. They can feel like they are working together so they can not only survive, but thrive – together!

So, please count your money together. When you do you are saying to each other: “I love you. I care about you. I want to create a space where we can share our lives together.” Joy is present and all aspects of you, even your Basic Self, will be smiling.

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What Are These Thoughts in My Head and Where Do They Come From?

June 4th, 2013

“I always seem to have these voices going on in my head. One says I should do this. Another says I should do something else, and then a third voice comes out of no where saying I should do something entirely different. What do I do? I often feel confused and distracted. I feel like I’m being pulled in a dozen directions all the time. I feel like I’m going crazy.”

Does this sound familiar to you? If you are like the rest of us humans you probably relate to this person’s dilemma. First off, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone. We all hear different and often conflicting voices in our head.

From my perspective we are multi-dimensional beings. There are many ways to understand this concept. The easiest is to recognize that our 1-year-old self is still alive and well inside of us, as well as our 13-year-old, our 27-year-old and every other year old you want to put there. All of our parts are present. Those parts have not gone anywhere. It’s also important to note that we made decisions about our self and about life at those different ages. And those decisions are still in place unless we have consciously gone back and re-educated those parts of our self with new updated, mature information.

That’s why we often hear different ideas or voices inside our head. Let’s say I’m thinking about doing something like sky diving. My 16-year-old says, “Yeah!! That would be cool. I want to jump out of a plane and fly!” My 33-year-old then says, “I don’t know. That’s pretty expensive. I need to save some money for a house or something important.” Then my 6 year old comes in and says, “NO! That’s scary! Don’t make me do it!” And then my 42-year-old starts to think about what the air speed would be as I hit the ground and wonders if I need to do some exercises or some special stretching so I don’t stirrup that old football injury.” What to do? How do I make a decision with all of these conflicting voices? Shakespeare said, “To thyne own self be true.” Great concept, but which “self?” Which voice do I listen to?

The first step is to realize that we have these different voices offering up their advice. They’re all sharing their truth from their perspective. They all want things to be done their way. The challenge is to get this “committee” to come together in a consensus so we can make a decision that’s for the highest good for all of our parts.

One way to do this is to do what I call “dialogue writing.” That involves taking out a piece of paper and a pen, and giving each “self” a voice by writing down its truth, its opinion, its concerns, its fears, and its ultimate intention. The goal here is to find a way where all parts of you can be heard and have its ultimate intention be fulfilled.

If we look at the example above, there are several intentions being stated. The 16-year-old wants adventure, the 33-year-old wants to be financially responsible, while the 6-year-old and the 42-year-old both want to be safe.

Often, just by taking the time to write down all of the various concerns each part of us has, a resolution shows up. In the sky diving case, three intentions are being requested. Is there a way to have an adventure that’s affordable, while still being safe? Is there a way to create a sky diving experience that fulfills these three intentions?

In order to come to a resolution we might need to bring in another part of our self I call the “neutral observer.” The “neutral observer” is the wise one inside. It knows how to set healthy boundaries. It knows how to communicate and create consensus. It provides protection and nurturing so the vulnerable child can avoid shame and/or pain. And, it can inspire and encourage all parts of us to the higher goal or the higher good. You might be saying, “I don’t know if I have a ‘neutral observer’ inside of me.” I would encourage you to play with this technique a bit and I have a feeling that you will find a very wise one deep inside that has been waiting for you to invite it to share its wisdom.

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Qualities of an Ideal Parent

March 20th, 2013

If you were to create an ideal parent – what qualities would s/he have? What would they look like? What would they say or do?

I’ve been thinking about this question for quite some time. In many ways I find the topic a bit daunting, so I’d like to open up the conversation. I’d like to ask you to join me by adding your thoughts, feedback and comments. While I make some suggestions of the things that I think are important, I invite you to respond with your agreements, disagreements and/or added suggestions. I feel this is a community issue that honestly deserves input from a variety of sources. So, please feel free to add your vice to the discussion.

I think “loving” is the most important characteristic that an ideal parent needs to demonstrate. When we are loving, we are consciously sharing our thoughts and feelings; we are tenderly touching and holding our child with care. We are playful and joyful in our actions and in our guidance. We take time to listen and to explain things to our child so they are able to understand. We always answer the child’s questions. We create quality time where we can look into the child’s eyes and connect with their “Soul.” We create an environment that is safe from any emotional, mental or physical harm.

Another major characteristic that an ideal parent demonstrates is being a positive role model. A positive role model demonstrates and presents a healthy lifestyle that involves exercise, nature, art and self-expression. A positive role model prepares food that nourishes the eyes, the mouth and the body. They are wise in their words and actions. They strive to express their wants in a positive manner. They have hindsight, now-sight and foresight. They are not afraid to say they made a mistake and they are open to feedback on how they can do things better. They don’t blame others, nor do they portray themselves as a victim. They teach the concept of acceptance by using everything for their upliftment, advancement and growth. They demonstrate the concept of patience by being present – enjoying what is going on in the moment – no matter what. They consciously present the concept of cause and effect so the child can learn through its experiences what is effective, and what is not effective. Since they know they are more than just a mother or a father, they take time to nurture and care for themselves so they can give from their overflow.

Ideal parents demonstrate moral and spiritual responsibility. They believe in hope. They hold a space for their child to develop into who s/he truly is – verses trying to make the child into something “they” want. They consistently demonstrate good boundaries and give their child permission to say “yes” and “no” when it’s appropriate. They encourage the child to dream, to be more, and to think “outside the box.” They teach the child to regularly look into the mirror and say, “I’m loving you.”

Ideal parents create a social environment where the concept of “family” extends out into the community and expands to all our brothers and sisters on the planet. Friends are welcomed and play is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to communicate, and to share. Formal education is embraced and the development of the intellect is valued and praised. Discipline and consistent daily routines, that support the family and the community, are demonstrated and reinforced. The child knows that they can count on their parent to hold, to comfort, to listen, to understand, and to love them.

An ideal parent strives toward their ideal, however, s/he knows it’s not reasonable or realistic to expect or demand that they always are ideal. An ideal parent extends forgiveness to him/herself when they miss the mark. An ideal parent knows parenting is an ongoing learning process. Oh boy, more fun!

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Revenge – The Act of Getting Even

October 8th, 2012

“Payback’s a Bitch!”  I remember hearing an alcohol/drug counselor saying this to a group of teenage boys many years ago.  At the time, I thought, “What does that mean – payback’s a bitch?”  I remember the boys looking back at him with blank eyes, silently saying, “You’re wrong!  You don’t understand.  I need to pay them back for hurting me.    They need to be punished for what they did to me.  It’s my right and my duty to balance an injustice.”

Our society also punishes people for doing the wrong thing.  It’s in the Bible, “an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth” (cf. Exodus 21:24).  We hear and see it all the time in the media and our judicial system is based on it.  So, what makes seeking revenge an ineffective process?

The Process of Revenge

If we look at the process of revenge, we find two limiting paradigms at the foundation:

  1. “I’m right and you’re wrong,” and you’ve victimized me.  In the “I’m right and you’re wrong” paradigm, I get to “get even” with you because, from my point of view, you did something wrong to me.  Thus, I get to take revenge against you.
  2. In the victim paradigm, you did something to me that I had no control over.  You spoke mean or hurtful to me, you took advantage of me, therefore I’m honor bound to give back to you what you deserve.  A challenging question shows up in both these situations:  what’s the right punishment and how much is enough?

What often happens is:  you hurt me, then I hurt you back with a little more force (to prove my point or to teach you a lesson), then you hurt me back with a greater force, to save your honor, then once again I intensify my actions and I hurt you even more, and now we are in a cycle that goes on and on.  We never seem to get to the point where everyone feels justified.  The situation never gets to a point of being even or balanced.  It’s the old traditional “blood feud” between two warring tribes.  On the global level, revenge seeking has been going on for centuries.

If Not Revenge, Then What?

If we don’t seek revenge, then what do we do?

There’s another quote in the Bible that gives us a direction.  “Do not seek revenge . . . love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

Wow!  That’s tough.  That means I’m supposed to accept you and me.  I am not supposed to judge you or me.  I’m actually supposed to “love” you and me!

The Chinese philosopher Confucius, states: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”  He’s suggesting that the desire for revenge hurts you as much as the person you inflict the revenge on.  The person seeking revenge often becomes what he wishes to destroy.

When concepts like revenge show up in the Bible, or any other ancient texts, it suggests to me that we are dealing with a deep human condition that our forefathers have dealt with and have processed through on some level.  Our job is to listen to what they said and apply their solutions to our current way of thinking.

So what do I do with this terrible thing you just said or did to me?  I’m angry.  I’m hurt.  I am judging you for what you just said or did.  If I can make you wrong, if I can see you as less than me, then I am justified in wanting to do terrible things to you because you “deserved it.”

Breaking an Ancient Pattern

The first thing to do is to accept that you got caught in an old pattern of being “right” or being a “victim,” and you want to strike out, you want revenge.  You are human, and as strange as it might sound, this pattern is a normal human reactive pattern.  It requires wisdom to be aware of this pattern.  There’s another old saying that addresses this process:  “Forestall vengeance until wisdom can reassert itself.”

So you’re now aware that you’re in your old pattern.  This is a time to love and accept yourself, not to judge or beat yourself up.  It’s a time to express your hurt and anger in a healthy manner.  Expressing your hurt and anger is a special process in itself.

So, I’m going give a quick way for you to express your hurt and anger in a way where you don’t hurt yourself or others.  Take out a piece of paper and for the next 5 minutes write, as fast as you can how you feel you have been hurt or wronged.  Go for it.  Use a lot of four letter words.  Don’t read what you write.  Now tear it up or burn it.  If you still feel angry or hurt, do another 5 minutes.  At some point, you will feel you have sufficiently expressed your angry or hurtful feelings.

Certain Questions Can Create a Learning Moment

After you have expressed your feelings, you can start to look at the situation as a learning opportunity.  What did you learn about yourself, what did you learn about them, what could you have done differently to get a different outcome?  These types of questions will help you regain your center and to claim a point of wisdom.  It becomes an awakening moment.  At this point, you can move into a process of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a process where we forget or let go of the hurt, but remember the wisdom or the lesson we were to learn.  It allows us to understand what happened.

There are two old sayings I often tell myself in these situations.  “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)  I believe if people truly knew the consequences of their actions, then they would not do hurtful things against others.  The second saying is:  “If they knew better, they would do better.”  We can only do what we have been taught.  If we knew a better way to create loving and peace in our lives, we would do those things.  When people know a better way, they usually choose that method.  As with everything, I’m sure there are exceptions.  When we are confronted with people who refuse to honor us, as well as our boundaries, we have permission to walk away.  We don’t have to stay and receive their abuse, we don’t have to teach them, and we don’t have to balance the action by seeking revenge.

Challenge To Respond Like a Master

My challenge to you is to be aware of the revenge process.  When you get caught in the pattern, express your emotions in a healthy way, regain your center, claim your wisdom, forgive them and your self and move on in peace, loving, and joy.

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September 7th, 2012

There are two ways to keep a butterfly in your hand:  you can hold onto it real tight so it won’t fly away, which is a contraction that usually kills the butterfly.  Or, you can lovingly intoxicate it by putting some sweet honey in the palm of your hand.   This approach is an expansion and the butterfly flourishes.

Energetically, jealousy is a contraction.  The self-talk with jealousy is:  “I’m not good enough.  You’re going to leave me for someone who is better than me.”  The opposite of jealousy is a consciousness of self-confidence.  When we express self-confidence, energetically we’re expanding.  The self-talk with self-confidence is:  “I’m the best because I’m strong and healthy.  If you leave, you lose, because I’m wonderful.”

We can’t control anything or anyone outside of ourselves.  We can only control how we react or how we respond to what is going on outside of ourselves.  So when something happens, we can either contract or expand.  It’s a choice.  You might not be aware that there’s a choice, but if you are watchful you can catch yourself choosing to expand or contract.  If you’re contracting, your jaw will get tense, you’ll bite down on your teeth, you’ll start holding your breath, your pupils will dilate, and your mind will start racing.  You’ll feel stressed.  You’ll feel anxious and jealous.  On the other hand, if you choose to expand, your heart rate slows down, your breath smoothes out; your mind relaxes and expands.  You’ll feel confident.  You’ll feel peaceful and loving.

The key here is to be aware of your self-talk and be aware of the pictures you are holding onto in your mind’s eye.  By learning to expand at the moment of contraction you can begin to take control of how you’re feeling.  You move away from being a victim, where terrible things happen to you and your partners leave you, to being a person who is choosing to know your own value as a loving human being.

I’m not suggesting that this is an easy process, if it was it would be rare to find someone experiencing or living with jealousy.  However, if we can choose to be free from jealousy, then we can also choose to be self-confident.  My challenge to you is to be watchful.  Notice when you’re contracting.  Notice your self-talk and what you’re saying to yourself.  Notice the pictures you’re holding onto in your mind’s eye.  Notice the solutions or the lack of solutions that seem to be present.  At that moment of awareness, take a deep breath and expand.  Spread your arms out and breathe deeply.  Don’t think.  Just breathe.  Keep taking deep breaths until you relax.  Once you start to relax, allow yourself to expand.  Allow yourself to stay in this expanded state until you are feeling confident in who you are as a human being.  Be aware of what you are saying to yourself.  Are you saying positive things?  Are you celebrating all of your wonderful qualities?  What pictures are you seeing in your mind’s eye?  Are you seeing your partner lovingly holding you, sharing loving words?

Expand at the moment of contraction.  Joy will be there waiting for you.

There is also another part of the jealousy pattern that is interesting.  If you are feeling jealous, there is very little I can do to change your feelings, because I can’t change your self-talk.  You are the only one who can do that.  An old adage goes like this:  “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind’s made up.”  If you think I’m cheating on you, eventually you will get to be right, at least in your own mind.  On the other hand, if I’m feeling self-confident, there are things you can do to make me feel insecure.  Therefore, one of our jobs in a relationship is to do and say the things that produce security and feelings of love in our partner.  Not in an unhealthy co-dependant way, but rather in a loving caring way.  It’s important to speak kind words, to lovingly touch and hold our partner, to do things we know our partner likes, to offer gifts, to take time to look into our partner’s eyes and to listen to their concerns.  Behavior that demonstrates that we are there for our partner creates an environment where love can flourish.

You might be saying all of this is nice, but what if my partner is seeing someone else, or is saying and doing things that are inappropriate?  What do I do then?

If your partner is not treating you the way you feel you deserve to be treated or is having an affair, you have some decisions to make.  When I work with a couple, my first direction is to see if the issues in the relationship can be worked out.  That often involves setting healthy boundaries, learning how to communicate clearly, and discovering how to create a loving, healthy, long-term relationship.  If everyone is willing to do the work, change occurs and the relationship goes through a transformational process.  If however, everyone involved doesn’t have a willingness to create a change in the relationship, then ending the relationship, hopefully in a conscious manner, is often the solution.

Jealousy is like holding a butterfly really tight.  It can kill any relationship.  Find ways to bring more honey into your relationship.  If you are giving and receiving the attention, appreciation, loving and nurturing we all desire, your relationship will flourish.

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Am I to Blame for His/Her Affair?

August 3rd, 2012

A powerful question that most people ask if their partner has been involved in an affair.  This is one of those situations where an old adage comes into play.  “Next to every truth stands a lie.”   In order to answer this question, we have to walk on a razor’s edge.  It’s easy to fall off on either side.  It would be easy to say, “Yes, you were to blame.”  And it would be just as easy to say, “No, it wasn’t your fault.  You’re not to be blamed.”  If you’re feeling confused and a little upset right about now, then you’re in the right place.  You’re on the razor’s edge.

Create, Promote or Allow

To gain some clarity here, and to get on more secure ground, I would like to define three words:  Create, Promote and Allow.  From my point of view, we create, promote and/or allow everything that happens to us.  So what does that mean?  Let’s say we’re in a restaurant, having a good time, and I turn to a guy at the table next to us and I say, “Hey Dude, you’re really ugly!”  He hears this and smashes me in the face.  Ouch!  It’s clear that I “created” that fight.  We’re in that restaurant again, enjoying our meal, and I say to you in a loud voice, “That guy next to us is really ugly!”  He hears me and smashes me in the face.  Now I could say, “It wasn’t my fault.  I was just talking to my friend.”  However, I did “promote” that fight.  We’re back in that same restaurant, and I’m being really good.  I’m not talking bad about any one.  We’re laughing and just enjoying the evening.  All of a sudden two guys get in a fight.  I stay and watch.  Pretty soon a chair flies through the air and hits me in the head.  I’m innocent.  I was being good.  It wasn’t my fault.  I “allowed” myself to get hurt in this situation.  Because I know when people get in fights, people get hurt and by my choosing to stay and watch, I put myself in a situation where hurt could occur.

Just to be clear.  Whenever we’re in an intimate relationship with someone outside of ourselves, we’re putting our selves into a situation where human behavior can occur.  Some human behavior can be all-inspiring, while some human behavior can be very hurtful.  By the very nature of being in a relationship we’re allowing ourselves to be hurt, we’re allowing someone to have an affair.

So, we could say, “You created, promoted or allowed this affair to occur.”  There, I said it.

Now what are you going to do with that?  Are you going to beat yourself up?  Are you going to obsess over the past to figure out what you did wrong?  I hope not.  Are you going to learn and grow from your experience?  I hope so.

A Learning Opportunity

Relationships are like classrooms.  We enter into a class to learn something.  When we learn what we need to learn then we get to graduate.  Sometimes we get to repeat the same class over and over.  We all make mistakes in our relationships.  It’s okay.  They didn’t teach us how to have a healthy, loving, long-term relationship in high school.  Most of us learn how to have a loving relationship through the process of trail and error.  We learn from our pain.

Did you do anything “wrong” in your relationship?

I avoid seeing things in “right/wrong” terms.  Seeing things as “right/wrong” is not an effective way to create positive change or transformation.  “The right/wrong” game is only good for creating guilt and shame.  I prefer to view behavior in terms of “effective/ineffective.”  Does this behavior create more loving and intimacy in my relationship?  If it does, and if that’s what I want, then I’m going to do more of that behavior.  If the behavior creates fear, resentment, anger, hurt and separation, then I’m going to do less of that behavior.

Effectively Creating Intimacy

If you knew how to effectively create more intimacy and loving in your relationship you would be doing it.  It’s been said, “If you knew better, you would do better.”  As I ask around, I have never found anyone say, “I’m going to do this behavior because I know it’s the wrong thing to do.”  Everyone I have asked has told me that they did what they did because it was what they thought would give them the results they wanted.  They yelled at their partner, hoping they would “knock” some sense into them, so they would be more loving.  I know that sounds crazy – I’m yelling at you because I want you to get close to me – but that’s what most of us do.

You know yelling doesn’t create intimacy and loving, but I know you’ve done it.  Me too!  That’s what we were taught.  That’s what we saw.  That’s what we heard in all those love songs.  Don’t do that.  Don’t yell at your partner.  Talk to him/her.  Listen to their words, their wants, their boundaries, their dreams, their fears, and their confusion.  Hold them.  Create a space where they feel safe and secure.  Create time to explore each other’s thoughts.

Ask them what they want more of in the relationship.  If they say they want more touching, or talking, or playing and you feel you have been doing a lot of touching, talking and playing, don’t defend your position.  Ask them what more touching, talking and playing would look like.  There are certain things we always seem to want more of.  It doesn’t mean you’re not doing it, it just means your partner wants more.

Ask them what they want less of in the relationship.  If they want less nagging, or less sports, or less drinking, or less mess, then do less of those things.

We Don’t Have Any Control Over Others

You might be saying, I did all of that.  I asked, we talked, we touched, we laughed, we played, and we dreamed together.  And, he/she still had an affair.  Why wasn’t I effective in creating a healthy, loving relationship?  How did I create, promote or allow that?

One thing I keep learning over and over is:  I can’t control anyone or anything outside of myself.  All I can do is control how I react to those things that happen outside of myself.

For some people, having affairs is an addictive pattern, like drugs or alcohol.  If you’re in a relationship with a person who has this addictive pattern, then what you do in the relationship has little to no affect on your partner’s behavior.  If this is the situation you feel you’re in, then I would strongly recommend you attend some 12-step program like Alanon or Coda to help you deal with your partner’s addictive pattern.

So, are you to blame for your partner having an affair?  No.  Blaming puts us in the “right/wrong” paradigm and that’s a “loss/loss” situation.  Are there things you did in the relationship that created, promoted or allowed the affair?  Yes.  If you can learn from the experience, then a blessing of change and transformation can emerge.  When we use everything for our upliftment, advancement and growth, then joy, peace and loving will be our companions.

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Are You Enjoying the Chaos Yet?

July 24th, 2012

You have probably noticed that it seems a little crazy out there in the world these days.  I hope you’re enjoying the chaos.  Worrying and stressing about all the issues that we are faced with during these times doesn’t seem to be helping.  So, we might as well enjoy the process.  This might seem like a bizarre point of view, but why not.  If it’s true that we can’t control anything outside ourselves and that we can only control how we react to things, then we might as well have fun with the chaos.

Years ago, I thought I would arrive at a time in my life when everything was going to be smooth sailing.  You know, like riding off into the sunset on a white horse.  However, I kept thinking that I was doing something wrong, because I kept running into walls or falling into ditches.  I would cut my hand here, my tires would go flat, and I had to buy more groceries.  My clothes got dirty.  In fact, that new white shirt I wore for the first time, I dropped some food on it just before that important meeting.  Stocks crashed and I lost all that money.  People I cared about got sick.  Some died.   I wanted to be in a relationship, but no one I wanted – wanted me.  I wanted to get out of a relationship, but I was scared.  “How do I do get out of this?” I asked.  I finally found someone and she wanted to end the relationship.  “How do I keep her?” I pleaded.  She left me.  Oh my God, so much pain!  I ate some food at a nice restaurant and I had an intense intestinal clearing.  My sock on my left foot had a hole in it.  I lost my glasses.  I couldn’t find a parking space, and I was late.  Stuff just keeps showing up.  An earthquake wakes me up and stuff breaks.  There is so much rain, it floods.  Mud’s everywhere.  People die.  Lightning strikes and a wild fire destroy acres of land and people’s homes.  War is not declared, but people are shooting at each other.  Terrible stuff is going on all around – all the time!  And, I’m worried about what will happen next.  When do I get to relax?  Smooth sailing is not showing up.

I have now come to realize that adversity and chaos are an inevitable aspect of life.  When I really accepted this, I was able to prepare for the unknown.  Not in a paranoid, fearful, terrified kind of way, but a way that could be fun.  I know stuff is going to happen.  I just don’t know what or when.  “This is exciting!”  I tell myself.  I wonder how I will grow from the coming adversity.  What will I learn?  How will I share it with those around me?  Who will be affected?  Transformation and expansion is the goal here.  Can I expand big enough to handle those things that come my way?  Can I transform the next experience into a stepping-stone, into a learning process?  Will I be able to use my creativity to resolve the issue?  My brother once told me, “There is always a resolution.”  Can I hold that affirmation in my consciousness long enough to discover the resolution?  Can I use my misfortune as a bridge to greater achievements?  What doors are opening?  What doors are closing?  What do I need to let go of?

If it’s true that chaos and adversity are a part of life, then I want to use it for my growth, upliftment, and learning.  I want to enjoy the process of life.  I want to gain inner strength so I can deal with anything life brings me.  As I walk down the dusty road of life, I want to keep my eyes on the loving, on the peace, and on the joy.  That splinter in my eye keeps me humble.  I’m a human, having a human experience.  This human experience is teaching me to say two powerful affirmations:  “Oh boy, more fun!”  And, “I love this!”

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How to Confront A Cheating Spouse

June 6th, 2012

As tears of rage, shame and disbelieve gush out of your eyes, you feel as if your heart is being ripped out of your chest, while your stomach is heaving with waves of convulsive pain. You just read an email, you discovered a charge for a hotel room on your partner’s credit card bill, or you received a phone call from a friend telling you what they believe they just saw.  You feel the distance between the two of you has grown so vast that you feel spacey, abandoned and lost.

You think your partner is having an affair.

What to do?  Do you wake him/her up and throw your evidence in their face?  Do you keep silent and set up some trap, so you’ll know for sure?  Do you tell your best friend?  Do you call a psychic?  Do you hire a private investigator?

It would be nice if there were some nice written rule on how to handle this type of crisis situation. Unfortunately, none exist.  However, one thing’s for sure, you want to know the answers to all of your questions.  As painful as it might be, you want to know for sure, and you want the details.  You don’t want lies or half-truths.  You want it all, and you want it now.  What you’ll do with all of the information, you don’t know and you really don’t care.  Blind rage and intense focus on gathering information is all that matters right now.

When I am presented with this situation, I am aware of all the emotions the person is going through.  My first thought is:  “How can I help this person get grounded?”  They are in a state of shock.  Their world has just been turned upside down and their sense of reality has been changed.  In order to get back into reality, they need to express all the emotions that are flooding through them.  I compassionately listen.  Advice or direction at this point is inappropriate and useless.  They just need to express what they are going through.  When the flooding recedes I suggest and explain a writing exercise for them to do at home.  I know all the emotions will resurface again and again, so they need a way to process this crisis situation in a way where they don’t hurt themselves or anyone else.

How to Express your Feelings

I ask them to write everything they are thinking and feeling.  I ask them to write as fast as possible, using a lot of four letter words . . . scribbling and raging and crying and hating.  I want them to get all these emotions and thoughts out.  I ask them not to read what they are writing.  I then direct them to tear or burn these pages.  Knowing that no one will read what is being written allows them to release things they normally would hold onto, fearing others might judge them for being so vile. Then I ask them to hold onto their belly and say, out loud or silently about 25 times, “(Their name), I am loving you.  I am loving you (their name).”  This begins the process of self-nurturing.

Once their emotions have been expressed, I ask the question, “What do you want?”  This is not an easy question to answer.  Other questions pop up.  “Do you want to stay and heal the relationship?”  “Do you want to end the relationship?”  If children are involved, do you tell them? How? When? How do you sort out the finances?  Who moves?  Confusion and overwhelm replaces rage and shock.

What do you want?

It’s important to get clarity so you’ll know what action to take.  When this question is clear, how and when to approach your partner becomes easier.  You might say, “I have to talk to him/her in order to get clarity.  I don’t know what I want.”  If this is the case, then what you want is to gather information so you can decide what you want to do.

The cleanest way to do this is to set up some time when you can sit and talk.  You want a time when you are rested, you have your questions written out, your partner is willing to talk, all phones are off, the children are taken care of, and you are in a safe place.  It’s important to set a beginning time and an ending time.  I would suggest no more than two hours.  People get weary, exhausted and hungry if you go too long and things can escalate and become extremely ugly.  You will probably want to have several meetings.  You probably won’t come to a complete resolution in one setting.  This is a big deal and you will be processing it for a while, so be gentle with your partner and yourself.

Questions to ask:  What happened?  How did this situation come into your relationship?  How long has this been going on?  What went wrong with us?

There are basically four situations why people have affairs.  (1) A person has a sex addiction.  Are they willing to go to a 12-step program to deal with their addiction?  (2) A person gets caught in a slippery situation, is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and they do something they never thought they would do.  They usually have great remorse for what happened and vow never to put themselves in that type of situation again.  (3) A person seeks revenge or pay back because their partner had an affair.  (4) A person is hungry for attention or nurturing, so they connect with someone outside the relationship to fulfill their needs.

You Are in Shock

No matter what the reason, pain and loss is the end result for everyone involved.  Everyone is hurting, and everyone goes through the 5 stages of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  We can’t believe this is happening to us.  We are angry at our partner, ourselves, the guy or woman in the car next to us, and at life itself.  We fantasize what we could have done differently, so this would not have happened.  We drop into depression and we can’t move.  We just seem to stare into space. And, finally, we accept that this has happened to us and we move on.  It would be nice if we only had to go through these five stages of grief just once. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  We get to go through these five stages over and over again, until at some point in time we feel complete.  There is no time line for this process.  The grieving process can go on for years.  The fastest way to go through grief is to give yourself permission to experience and to express whatever you’re going through at the time.  The writing exercise described above is extremely helpful during this time.

Acceptance is a Process
No matter what resolution you decide, to repair the relationship or to end the relationship, at some point in time the acceptance process comes into play.  How can you accept that your life has been turned upside down?

The process of moving you to acceptance is easy to describe and to understand. However, it can be a challenge to experience acceptance.  In order to experience acceptance we need to change our attitude.  In order to change our attitude we need to change our altitude.

Moving out of judgment to acceptance requires an attitude of gratitude. If you can be grateful that something has occurred, then it’s easy to accept the event. If you have an attitude of resistance, judgment, or resentment, it can be very difficult to move to a position of acceptance. “That’s great,” you say. “But how do I move to an attitude of gratitude when I’m so angry and I don’t like what’s happening? I’m not grateful. I’m resentful. I’m angry at him/her for what happened.  What happened is wrong. It hurt me.  It’s terrible. Be grateful? You’ve got to be kidding.”

Changing our attitude requires us to change our altitude.  We have to look at the event from a different perspective and a different point of view. This step is by far the most challenging step to take. It is the place where most of us get stuck. Hopefully, I can give you some keys on how to break free so you can change your attitude, and move from judgment to acceptance.

To help make my point, let me share a story.  I’m walking on a trail up a mountain path. I’m having a wonderful time. The birds are singing, there is a breeze in the air, and I’m admiring the beautiful cloud formations. Ouch! I trip and fall and I sprain my ankle. What a curse! My day is ruined. I’m angry at myself for being so clumsy and twisting my ankle. So, how do I move to a position of acceptance? Step one: change my attitude to being grateful that I twisted my ankle, which is swelling up as we speak. Great! Have an attitude of gratitude? How the heck do I do that? Move to step two: change my altitude or my viewing point. How? OK, so here I am, looking at that mountain path from the point of view of an eagle flying overhead. As I’m sailing on the wind, I look down and see a huge rattlesnake just around the bend, right in the middle of the path. If I had continued at the same pace, I see that I would have walked right into the rattlesnake, and it would have bitten me and I could have died from its poisonous venom. Whew! I’m now so glad that I twisted my ankle. This was a gift from God. I’m now in a position of acceptance, and I can deal with my situation in a more effective and powerful manner. I am no longer judging myself. I feel grateful for twisting my ankle.

“But how do you know if that snake was really around the bend? Aren’t you lying to yourself and pretending you know something that I don’t?” Yes, possibly I am pretending to know something that I don’t really know. I sense we all pretend we know a lot about things we really don’t know. The difference here is you are making a very conscious effort to affect a change inside yourself, a change that will give you more freedom and inner peace—qualities we experience when we are in acceptance.

A Life Changing Event

You might say, “OK, I got it, but that’s a simple story. What about the really hard things that happen to us in life; like my partner having an affair?”

Challenging things happen to all of us. It’s nice to know that you are not alone.  Some events are life changing, and it is these life-changing events that require the most work. Life-changing events are just that … life changing. Remember, it’s not the issue that’s the issue; its how we deal with the issue that’s the issue. I am encouraging you to look at how to deal with this issue in an uplifting manner so that no matter what happens, you can be more accepting of the experience. We are all in the process of learning how to use everything for our upliftment, advancement, and growth. I am not suggesting or saying this is an easy process. That would be a lie. It is a challenge. However, the two primary rewards for working through the process are freedom and joy.

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Patience is Painful

April 11th, 2012

“You just have to have patience.”

“Patience?  What are you talking about?  I don’t have time for patience!  I want what I want, and I want it now!  In fact, I don’t want it now.  I need it now!”

Sound familiar?  Stuff to do just seems to keep piling up and yet, time just keeps moving.  There’s not enough time to do everything we want to do, the car in front of us is moving too slow, the store clerk is nowhere to be found, we’re on hold waiting for an operator, the check is in the mail, we’re not old enough yet, we don’t have enough money to get that item, it’s not the weekend yet, the baby isn’t here yet, the car isn’t ready, and some day I’ll have all the things I want.

What is it about being “patience” that’s so hard?  Well, if you look it up in a dictionary, you’ll discover that the word “patience” comes from a Latin word which means to suffer.  So, if you are asking me to be patient, you are asking me to suffer.  Ugh!  I don’t want to suffer.  I want to be fulfilled, now!  I don’t like suffering.  To be patient is to suffer.  I have to defer my gratification until some time later?  That’s painful.  That’s suffering.

So, what’s the way out of this suffering?  Am I supposed to enjoy suffering?  If I can enjoy suffering then I can be patient.  But I don’t want to teach myself to enjoy suffering.  That seems rather silly.

The way out of this patience or suffering dilemma is just to be “present.”  Don’t ask me to be patient, ask me to be present.

If I’m truly present, then I’m experiencing the bliss of the moment.  There isn’t any anywhere to go, but this very moment.  There’s nothing to wait for.  It’s in this moment that I can take action steps toward my goal, and if I’m present in this moment, each action step can be filled with joy and peace.  I don’t have to delay my gratification, because I’m enjoying the process of moving through time toward my goal.  Accomplishing the goal is nice, however as strange as it may seem, getting the end result is not the experience I’m looking for.  The bliss of each moment is what I’m looking for.  Patience is not part of the process.  Suffering is not required.  Being present is the key.

I don’t need to teach myself or my children to be patient.  Teaching myself and my children to be present in the moment is one of the keys to having a joy-filled life.

How can we discover the present moment?  The simplest answer is to contact your five senses.  What are you hearing?  What smells can you pick up?  Describe in detail what you’re seeing.  Notice what you are tasting.   What are you feeling?  Is the air cool as you inhale and warm as you are exhaling?  Touch your heart with your hand and feel your heart beat.  Focus on small details and the present moment will show up.  The magic of the world will begin to reveal itself.  Joy and peace are present.  You are present.  It’s all here now.

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Hindsight, Now Sight and Foresight

February 14th, 2012

When I was a little guy, my mom was always asking me, “What did you learn from that?”  I would look at her and my mind would be blank.  What did I learn?  What do you mean what did I learn?  I thought I could jump across the stream and I didn’t make it.  My new shoes were full of water and my Sunday pants had splats of mud on them.  I learned that I couldn’t jump as far as I thought.  I think that’s what I learned.

I would say I was a slow learner, because I heard my mom ask me that question more times than I can remember.  What did I learn?  What did I learn?  I learned that eating cookies before dinner got me into trouble.  I learned that lying had serious consequences.  I learned that sleeping in class made my teacher mad.  I learned that if I didn’t tie my shoelaces that I would trip and fall.  I learned that frogs don’t stay in my pockets, and I learned that the ground is hard when you fall out of a tree.

My mom was trying to teach me “hindsight.”  It’s the old cause and effect concept in reverse.  Here’s the “effect” – what “caused” it.  I was slow, at first; however I began to catch on.  That question she asked became a habit.  What did I learn?  I learned that if I want different results in my life, then I would have to do different things.  I was beginning to get it.  I was in my 20’s, and I had a few scares to remind me of some of my past “learnings.”

About this time I had a friend ask me, “What’s happening?”  I thought nothing’s happening.  I’m sitting here watching T.V.  I’m sleeping till noon.  I’m late for work.  I just got a speeding ticket.  My car just ran out of gas.  Nothing’s happening except all that stuff.  “It ain’t fair,” I’d think.  “Why does all this stuff always happen to me?”  I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on in my life.  I was dreaming about tomorrow or that cute girl I saw at the dance last Friday night.  My life was passing me by.  I was floating.  Being present was far from my consciousness.

The first time I was aware that I was breathing was when I took a yoga class and the instructor said, “Breath in.  Feel the cool air as you inhale.  Exhale.  Feel the warm air coming out.”  I thought, “Warm air out?  Cool air in?  What’s she talking about?”  She then said, “Be present.  Get into the now.  Be aware that what you are doing now is creating your future.  Breathe.  This is the moment you have been waiting for.  Enjoy the bliss and the magic of the moment.”

Wow!  The world suddenly changed for me.  I began to understand what it meant to have “now sight.”  Magic happened.  I stopped stubbing my toe at the foot of the bed.  I was aware of where I was walking.  I saw my thoughts jumping around and I slowly, ever so slowly, began to be able to hold a focus.  At first it was just the “cool in and warm out’ process of breathing, and then it expanded to seeing the speed limit signs.  I began to obey the rules of the road.  I realized the value of being on time, and the power of keeping my commitments with myself and others.  I was living in the now.  I didn’t know where I was going, but I was present.  Life was good.  I liked breathing.  I liked being.  I liked living.  Positive things were occurring regularly.

However, in spite of all this wonderful stuff, I still felt depressed.  I wasn’t sure why.  I knew something was missing.  Then this guy came along and asked, “What are you doing with your life?  Where are you going?  What do you want to do by the time you’re 65.  Who do you want to be?”  I looked at him.  I said, “I ask myself what I’m learning all the time and I get great answers.  I’ve learned to breathe and to be in the now.  I can focus on stuff.  I’m good.  I’m cool.”  He looked at me and replied, “That’s nice, but where are you going?  You need to learn “foresight.”

“Foresight?” I said, “What’s that?”  He smiled.

Wow!  I have gone around the sun many times since then.  I now know where I am going.  I keep my eyes on my North Star.  No matter what I’m doing, that’s where I’m going.  That’s my intention.  How I get there is my method.  I know my method keeps changing as I go through time, but my intention remains constant.  I know it’s an inner process and an outer process.  I know it’s good to have “hind sight” and learn from the past.  I still ask the question, “What did I learn?  I know that being present and having “now sight” is where you’ll find the bliss.  I’m still breathing in the cool and exhaling the warm.  I can stay focused in the “now-ness” of life.  I have also discovered the value of “foresight,” keeping my eyes on a distant future.  I now know if I want to get there that I have to do the things that keep me on course, and I can’t do the things that take me off course.  Life is expanding.  My vision is expanding.  I know how to get there – one step at a time.

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