I’m not sure I’ve been more ecstatic than I’m feeling this morning. Life just seems to get better and better and better.
Is this a midlife crisis
or the result of a successful one?
I’ve had A LOT of happy mornings like this one where I get out of bed and think, sometimes say outloud: I love my life! I’m so happy! Life. Is. Good.
Just last night, another mid-lifer and I were discussing how successfully navigating the midlife psychosocial crisis absolutely sets us up for “the best of life for the rest of life.”
(It has become one of the transformation projections I make with my clients. because I’ve seen it happen so many times! Maybe you’ve heard it as a tag line on my podcast.)
An eavesdropping listener asked if I’ve had a midlife crisis. I answered, “yes! Of course. We all have one; some of us just notice it more than others.
The midlife crisis gets a bad rap
for all the examples we first imagine:
a man growing out his hair and mustache, buying a motorcycle, and leaving his wife and children for a young babe.
OR a mom turning into a micro-skirt-wearing cougar and dating her daughter’s boyfriend or leaving the family. Ouch!
Sure, sometimes people do freak out in similar fashion, hence the clichéd stereotype. But like all stereotypes, applying them to everyone or thinking, ah, so that’s a midlife crisis, is just, well, a narrow definition. Not helpful. And not realistic.
Did you know we all have one?
A midlife psychosocial crisis, that is, not the stereotypical one.
We are all programmed to transition from one stage of life: our active, prime adult stage where we have been focused on work, procreating, pair-bonding- do you like those terms for adulting- to the next stage, which has been so expertly named “midlife.” And guess what, the stage can last 15 -25 years by some delineations. (It better, I say. I’m not declaring myself an “elder adult” until I’m 75 at least. But I digress.)
Of course, not everyone has children. Not everyone gets married. But financial survival, decisions and responsibilities regarding work and parenting children as well as navigating intimate relationships…these all occur in the active adult stage.
Then mid-life hits.
We become aware we are literally half way (or more) through our life on the planet and it inspires reflection. (And sometimes panic, sometimes intense panic.)
For some it’s a quick look back. For others that glance is filled with regret. For some, it’s filled with so much unpleasantness, they avoid doing it…for as long as possible.
The psychosocial crisis involves navigating between stagnation (and a fixed mindset) or regeneration (that state of renewal, re-focus, and movement) which will guide the rest of life.
Sometimes people’s unwillingness to process the past and their life so far actually lands them in the stagnation camp. They live out the rest of their days resisting reflection, personal responsibility, and growth forward.
Sometimes people get stuck in the past, fixated on its wounds without processing them and they can’t move forward (and that lands them in the stagnation camp.)
Most people long to go toward health.
That is why they will move toward regeneration: a contemplation of all that has gone on before, a renewal and reconsideration of values, and readjustment based on what one now knows.
After all, we DO know so much more at 50 than we knew at 30. By age 30, most of us had made significant decisions regarding what we would do for work, whether we would parent, who we would love. Then we proceeded to spend the next 15-20 years doing those things. After that amount of time, we realize -in a big way- that we are not going to be on the planet forever so we might want to make the most of the rest of our time here.
We might freak out a little over all the ways we’ve spent our time and energy up to this point. We might have regrets. Or grief.
Or something like that.
Midlife contemplation is inevitable.
All the fallout from a messy midlife contemplation is not inevitable though.
Whether you are the one floating in these rough waters or a loved one who affects you and your life is grappling with it, focused attention to all the aspects of this time of life can be much smoother with a counselor or coach.
But ya gotta find one who knows what she’s doing. 😉
I’m not the only one out there, but of course I’m recommending myself. Call or text me. Send and email. Just connect and let’s get started.
Keep reading to find out what researchers have determined is truly attractive, and what YOU can easily DO NOW to get more of the kind of love, connection, and goodness you really want in love, at work, and in life.
TOO MANY WORDS? Go ahead and skim. But get your key and follow along when we get to the list, smartie!
Here’s how to get the most from this post:
1. Keep reading. I’ll give you information about what is truly attractive (based on years of cross-referenced research, not opinion.)
2. You assess honestly and decide where you want to increase your attractiveness. Don’t shy away from the hardest things. We’re going to DO something about this. (When you get the Attraction Key, you’ll have a chance to specifically measure yourself in each of the ten areas.)
3. Go get your FREE Attraction Key and start unlocking your natural attractiveness. I’ll give you real wisdom on HOW to increase your attraction level by taking practical action one little thing at a time. You get to choose what to use.
4. Get to work trying out the simple adjustments in those areas, one at a time, for just three days at a time and observe what happens! You will get results. It will change things. It’s going to make your life a whole lot better. It just will.
What will happen: Real Attraction makes a Real Difference
You will feel measurably better. Your mood will lift. Your perspective will change. You’ll be more optimistic.
You’ll actually notice (without doing anything to consciously make it happen) that you are getting more done. Things will go more smoothly and when you face a challenge, it won’t seem as big.
You’ll notice others responding to you more positively. You’ll get more connection and attention where you want it and not where you don’t.
Life will BE better. You will be happier. You’ll experience more joy.
You’ll HAVE more of what you want and less of what you don’t.
If you’re not attracting what you want, figuring out how to STOP attracting what you don’t want and START attracting what you really want is KEY.
Grab your KEY now and use it as we go through the list. Or just keep reading to explore the top 10 things great men your age find attractive.
1-5. The top five Attraction Factors to a Great Guy
Men and women the world over reported these two qualities as the top two: kindness and intelligence. I bet that makes perfect sense to you. Don’t worry; intelligence IS something you can enhance. Being the smartest is not necessary. Being aware, interested, and willing to learn are all part of being intelligent.
Men list next playfulness, youthfulness, and being good-looking. That’s whatever he considers to be good-looking. Trust me, the range in that description is a lot wider than you might be thinking. Suffice it to say, it’s best if a woman takes good care of her appearance. This does NOT mean you need to alter your appearance or frame or style. Just take good care of what you’ve got. Grooming. Hygiene. Take the time to make an effort. It matters. (Don’t worry, ladies, we want men to do this too.)
As far as being playful and youthful, these two elements have to do with openness and warmth. Of course, men find this attractive! If you can truly play, it means you feel safe in the world, (or at least you feel safe in the moment) and it’s really attractive. Being youthful is not about looking like a 25-year old. Honestly, it’s not. That youthful approach to life is all about vitality and liveliness; it’s about sparkle and optimism. Think of this as being able to be carefree and light…at least sometimes!
6. Let him know you like him
On top of that, men want a partner who is actually interested in them. Some women have a hard time actually giving men this signal. Inside relationship, they think they shouldn’t have to do it! And when looking for a mate, lots of women think it makes them look desperate. But believe me, there’s a lovely difference. Here’s a tip: men are not good at taking hints. They don’t get subtleties. No one can read minds. Letting him know you’re interested can be just the thing he needs to draw closer to you.
Still, you can be a little subtle about this. You’re not going to give him the vibe you’d be interested in just anyone. It’s a bit of an art. Call it one of the womanly ones.;-)
That’s the top six. Then there’s…
7. The Less Tangible Things…like Confidence
…and those other seemingly less measurable qualities that show up as essential. These fall under the category of emotional maturity and both men and women expect this from other grown ups.
Both men and women find confidence irresistible. Some people think there’s a shortcut to this, but it really can’t be faked. You can read a lot of tips for “faking it until you make it,” yet go that route and sooner or later, the foundation will crumble. The tips in the Attraction Key are all about making this adjustment real and permanent.
In essence, the best guarantee of exuding confidence is a solid, healthy self-esteem, which, simply put, is a position and opinion about oneself that is not superior, not inferior, but balanced. Some people (like me) might call this a healthy self-love. People who truly love and accept themselves, human frailties and all, just ooze confidence.
8. Emotional Responsibility
Men really appreciate it when women take responsibility for their emotions. This doesn’t mean he gets to be callous or disregard your feelings. It simply means you don’t let your emotions get the best of you. You don’t make him responsible for them. Men appreciate it when their mate takes personal responsibility and not just after the fact.
If you find yourself needing to apologize, then doing so without excuses is the way to go. I wish I had time to get into the specifics of a Clean, Non-Blaming Apology (TM). More on that in a future post!
Healthy adults do not find fits of temper or jealous rage attractive. They don’t favor manipulative or controlling behavior. Grown-ups all expect some degree of emotional stability. They also expect personal responsibility. Real admission of real responsibility is so sexy. Let. Me. Tell. YOU! Swoon-worthy for some. Stabilizing and safe for others. Attractive for all.
If you have trouble because your feelings are so big and tough for you to manage, don’t worry, stick with me. I help people in this area all the time. I know it’s an absolutely legitimate challenge. There are reasons you feel the way you do. The key to handling them is NOT about stuffing them or hiding them or being more logical or acting more like a man. Not at all. But more on that will have to wait for another time.
Men say another element of confidence gets expressed when women know what they want in life, what they want out of relationships, and are not afraid of talking about it. We’ll get to communication in a minute, but you can’t skip the internal job of knowing yourself and what you will accept and not accept in life and in relationship.
Think of this as the flip-side to us wanting men to have a passion and purpose in their lives. That’s super hunky and attractive to us, right?
Men really don’t want a doormat, or someone who gives up her identity, passions, interests, and life to become a female counterpart to him. He’s not wanting you to wait around trying to figure out what will please him most. You knowing what you want, who you are, where you’re going, and what kind of life you want to enjoy (including what kind of relationships you want) is super attractive!
If you’ve ever done it, don’t ever give yourself away like that again! You don’t have to and it’s not attractive anyway. It always backfires.
Communication is key! The caveat is that women must express themselves without demanding or blaming someone else, especially the man in front of you. If demand or blame enters, the communication is no longer conveying confidence; it’s shouting insecurity and desperation. (We already talked about how unattractive that is.)
This doesn’t mean that we aren’t human, subject to a flash of insecurity or vulnerability. In fact, that softness and vulnerability is one of the beautiful places where real connection between humans happens!
But communication should NOT be a minefield to navigate on a regular basis. That just gets supremely exhausting for everyone and it will corrode a relationship (and its participants) in a big, fat hurry. No one wants to live like that!
If you don’t know how to communicate without demanding or blaming in those moments when you feel most vulnerable, start with this post all about Communication. It gets into some specifics of how to do that. It’s such an important skill to have!
There you have it. The top ten qualities good men find absolutely irresistible in a woman.
An Inside Job
You can’t change anything outside yourself. You can’t change another person. Don’t even fantasize about changing male sexuality or female emotions. Or anything else for that matter.
You can’t make anyone else do anything.
It’s just not possible to change someone’s feelings or thoughts or behaviors.
You know that, right? Do you really accept it and operate from that knowing and acceptance? Or do you sometimes still try to change and control and influence?
Honestly, I think people continue to try because it seems so much easier to exert all that external energy than to do the inside job.
But the inside job is required when it comes to healthy relationship and long term happiness and well-being. And the inside job is required for authentic attractiveness. The nice thing is…
The Inside Job works and it’s enough.
You can’t fake this stuff. But you can do something about each thing on the list of attractive traits and characteristics.
Kindness is a thing you can practice. You might not be able to be taller or totally drop-dead, movie-star gorgeous (Dang, I was hoping that was suddenly going to change when I turned 50!) but you CAN take good care of yourself and give attention to your appearance and grooming.
You might not be able to change your native IQ, but you can always learn more. It doesn’t have to be book learning either. It can be DOing learning. 😉 You can take care of yourself and play when it’s safe. You can experience more moments of youthful lightness.
Plus, you can definitely raise your Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). Confidence, knowing yourself, and communication, are all qualities and skills you can foster, if you’re willing to do the growing. Get a practical start right now.
More than anything, investing in the Inside Job creates attraction naturally. It’s the kind of attraction that stays with you for life. It’s also the kind of investment in yourself that starts paying off right away.
Let me know how it goes. Whether you grab your Attraction Key or decide to go it alone, leave a comment below and let me know what is one small change YOU are going to make TODAY to raise your attraction level. I love hearing from you!
How do you survive after infidelity? Can relationships really be saved? Can they really come back better than ever? People present these questions to me all the time. Call me crazy, but
I love working with infidelity as a specialty.
I love it because it’s excruciatingly painful stuff, it’s devastating, it busts people and their lives wide open… but I know how to help individuals and couples heal after it. Seeing that healing happen and watching people enjoy greater health than they’ve ever known is beyond satisfying.
Let’s face it; infidelity is the worst.
Yet, we all know that infidelity happens.
A local training brochure that went out to psychotherapists here in Ohio claims 50% of committed relationships include infidelity. Yikes! I think that percentage has to be high. I just don’t want to believe that statistic. I bet you don’t either! Still, for some of us, knowing it’s a common issue can have the effect of making people who are experiencing it feel not so alone, not completely crazy, maybe even hopeful.
After all, if others live through it and heal after it, you can too, right?
We don’t lack science and research on infidelity.
People publish a ton of stuff on the reasons people cheat, the why behind it, the psychology of betrayal and studies on monogamy. Theories abound. Most can be twisted and contorted to support most any end-perspective.
Have you heard anyone say “we’re just not wired for monogamy” or “sure, that was easy back when life expectancy was 45?”
Some people believe “once a cheater, always a cheater.”
Others think “it always takes two.”
Still others think there is no more vile creature on the planet than “the adulterer.” Once marked, he or she is marked with the scarlet A forever.
What’s your perspective on infidelity?
Does it match one of the above? If it does, I’d venture to guess you’ve been wounded by it at some point. I’m also going to say that none of those perspectives are truly helpful.
Oh sure, those adages help us survive, to assimilate the knowledge of the betrayal, they help us “make sense” of a bewildering human phenomenon. But they don’t help us truly heal.
Sometimes we think healing after a broken heart just never really happens. We might think we’re wounded for life. Of perhaps maybe we think “time heals all wounds.” Actually, neither one of those extremes is very true.
Healing needs to be intentional. If it isn’t, time can pass without much real living taking place.You don’t have to sit in the wounding of betrayal for years, decades, the rest of life. You really don’t.
You don’t have to endlessly carry the weight of your infidelity either.
See what I suggested there? Infidelity is painful, painful, painful for both the betrayed and for the offender. If you could see what I see, you’d know the truth of this.
Infidelity changes people forever,
no matter what side of the equation they’re on. And many, many offenders avoid getting help from a professional because they sense they’ll be judged…by people who are supposed to be trained to actually help. The unfortunate thing is that often they are judged by those people. Or professionals are ill-equipped to address the complexity of the situation.
And that never truly helps. In fact, sometimes it can make things a whole lot worse. I don’t want that to happen to you. I’m on a mission to provide effective and easily accessible intervention for you… even when one or both of you are not “naturally inclined” toward therapy. Even if you’ve never sought help for anything before.
No matter how you’re made…
You deserve to thrive again after infidelity.
That’s exactly our aim when we work together. And it does not matter if you are coming in alone, as a couple, or if you are trying to resolve issues from an affair that’s current, newly terminated, or that happened a long time ago. It doesn’t even matter if no one else knows about it. If there’s healing needed, we’ll go after it for you- and in a way that makes sense to you.
Maybe you’re not ready to work with a therapist or coach one-on-one. That’s okay too.
Resources to serve you:
Check out the book:After the Affair: Healing for the Offender. If you’re the Betrayed or the Offender, this guidebook provides the truth behind why this thing happened and, even more importantly, gives you an effective guide through and beyond it. For some people, the book will be enough. For some, it’ll just be a start. It will be helpful for everyone involved.
Sign up for the FREE Coaching Club
To sign up, find the big, blue box and arrow top right or down below (depending on what device you’re on.) You’ll become part of a group of Friends I send Love Letters to about once a week. I’ll share things I don’t share anywhere else and I’ll reference helpful resources, give you inside tips, videos, and articles. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about events you can attend, groups and classes forming online and in person, and any new resources coming out. If there’s an extra-valuable added freebie, you’re one of the insiders and you get it first!
Free Reading and Listening
Keep reading the blog! Search topics for old articles too. And check out the podcast episodes. There’s one titled “After Infidelity” but even topics exploring the basics of attraction and how real love works are going to give you lots of great information too.
Keep in Touch
Let me know if I can help in any way. Call or email me. Let me know what’s up for you. Ask questions. Ask ALL your questions! No matter what you wonder, it’s very likely something that others are asking too. And who knows, it might spur a wider conversation here or in the Coaching Club and help tons of people.
No matter what side of infidelity you’re living on, we’ll make sense of this together, get the healing you need and want and get back to a life you recognize and love.
No one should go through life’s most painful things alone. You don’t have to. Let me know how I can help.
Here we go. The holidays again. If you’re in a relationship, it can feel like major testing time.
And for those of you alone for the holidays, I know that’s its own separate challenge. Don’t skip this article because if you have tension with ANYONE in your life over the holidays, the process I describe below will help!
Maybe you’ve been on this ride so many times you almost sleep-walk through them. Or about mid-October you start dreading them and adopt “survival mode.” You want to hibernate and wake up after January 2nd.
Perhaps you just love this time of year and you’re consumed with projects and plans and parties and people. It’s all so yummy for you, it’s one big winter fun fest.
Of course, those are two extremes and you might fall somewhere in the middle. Whatever your take on this time of year, it’s a deal. And it affects everyone. For some relationships, (honestly, this can apply to a love relationship, a child, a sibling relationship) this is a prime time when the same conflicts come up again and again. You could almost script them verbatim.
People make meaning of Holidays
even if the holiday itself means nothing to them. They’re a hot-button of expectation and personal, historical significance. When you and your mate have a sizeable gap in your Bah-humbug score, holidays can feel like a landmine of disappointments and endless, fruitless negotiation and “compromise.”
Do you and your mate have a long-standing seasonal conflict? What are your normal conflict conversations? Is there a recurrent fight? What bugs you about your partner that you just know is going to happen again this year?
And hey, if you’re in a new-ish relationship is there a conflict you’re hoping to AVOID as you head into the season?
Maybe someone else in the family is on your naughty list or you rarely see them and now you’re dreading having to deal with them. Grrrrrrr.
It might seem redundant or superfluous or just painful to actually think about the looming conflicts. But what if preparing for them could help you avoid them all together? Skeptical? Read on.
A new Holiday list
This year, instead of making a wish list or a gift list, indulge me and create a sh*t list. (I can’t think of a better thing to call it! Call it cr*p if you don’t like the word sh*t. Or if you think of something else, leave a comment and let me know!)
Yes, I mean, sit down and actually write the major areas of contention. What do you already know is likely to come up or happen?
Is it that you want him to go help pick out the tree and every year it’s like pulling teeth? Is it that she gets moody before going to spend time with your family? Is it that she zones out and whirls into DO mode while she harps on the kids to get everything in shipshape before guests arrive? Does he always shop at the last minute…like on Christmas Eve day and it just makes you frantic?
Does she expect you to be happy when you show up for yet another boring office party? Does he really expect you to talk to the ridiculous office mates you have nothing in common with? Do you set a budget for spending and then at the last minute, she goes over it or he pastes a hundred dollar bill in cards on the tree for EACH one of the kids?!
Write it all down
It might surprise you that you feel a little resistant to actually doing this. After all, if you write it down does that mean it’s more likely to happen?
Um, no. Writing it down gets it out of your head and out of worry zone where you can actually take a look at it and DO something constructive with it.
You write it down so you can acknowledge that you’re carrying worry and tension around inside you because of the impending doom associated with any areas of contention.
(And I know some of you have things to write down like “hibernate until January 2 while (s)he pressures me to do everything, eat too much, watch Uncle Harry drink like a fish, drop into my winter coma, put on ten pounds, get a cold I can’t shake, try desperately to avoid the same conversation with my mom about my life going nowhere and when am I ever going to…)
It’s not funny.
But when you write it all down and LOOK at it, you might think it’s a little funny, or pathetic, or absurd, or terrible. I don’t know what you’ll think of your own list. This much I do know: you will see patterns emerge.
I’m interested in those patterns. You can get interested in them too. Note them. Is there an underlying drive for control? Do you sincerely think everyone else should just stop their complaining and enjoy it. (“We’re having a family photo taken and you are going to like it!”)
What else do you notice? Are you trying to correct your holiday experience from childhood? Are you trying to recreate it? What else can you learn by seeing your pattern?
Then you can decide what to DO with each reality on the list. And those things are reality if they’ve happened…even once! But if they’ve happened several times, they are a pattern, not just for you but for the other people involved as well.
We’re secretly hoping something will be different this time around. We hope and hope and hope and then DO the same things in our approach and it never changes. Try something new this year.
Allow, Enjoy, Plan for the holidays
For each item on the list, make a decision about it. Your choices are to Allow, Enjoy, or Plan it.
Notice that your options are NOT Avoid, Fix, or Plot your new approach. (Allowing, Enjoying, and Planning for “that thing” to happen are your new approach, by the way.) Read through the examples below:
Allow the holidays
So let’s say your mate goes over budget every single year. Is it really the end of the world that he pastes hundreds into a card for each kid at the last minute? I mean it. Literally, has the world ended because of that? No. Allow it.
You know it’s going to happen again. You know the kids love it. You know it has nothing to do with you; it has to do with your mate. And the kids might also love that there is no tension and no daggers thrown because of something that’s pretty cool for them. This is a thing you can’t control anyway, and all your efforts to do so help you feel powerless, right? But allowing this thing to happen takes the power out of the thing (the area of contention) and it actually gives you power.
You are NOT at the mercy of someone else’s behavior even when it’s patterned behavior. It’s not your job to control it anyway, so you can just allow it or, maybe, sit back and…
Enjoy the holidays
Crazy as it may sound, enjoying Uncle Harry’s over-drinking is possible. I know for some of you that feels like a dangerous stretch for all kinds of reasons associated with substance abuse and expectations in those relationships. But expectations in relationship with Uncle Harry when you know he’s going to drink himself into a near-coma are, well, a waste of energy.
Honestly, I learned this one from my youngest son. He has an uncanny ability to enjoy whatever is happening. And if Uncle Harry is overdrinking, my son is able to sit back and find amusement in the sad, pathetic fact that this happens every year, Uncle Harry says stupid stuff to offend people every year, and Grandma predictably gets her feathers in a dither.
It may be an annual event fit for a sit com or movie, and if it is, I say, why not make plans to enjoy the show? Which brings me to the next option:
Plan the holidays
I don’t mean plan a way to avoid it or fix it or make something else happen. I mean plan for the thing that’s going to happen. Is it that you and your mate are going to bicker over whose fault it is that the gifts are not wrapped and it’s time to open them? Okay. Plan for it.
Is it that Christmas morning he is going to want to sleep in and the kids come to your side of the bed eager to wake you up and it spurs a battle that turns snippy all through your first cup of coffee and until the kids have opened their gifts and have the play Dough and remote control helicopter flying through the family room and then escalate into an argument over what time the car needs to get packed for Grandma’s in order to be there on time? Okay. Plan for it.
Planning for the unpleasant things takes the sting out of them. Then when they happen, you won’t be surprised. In fact, you’ll shift your expectation away from the thing that’s NOT happening. And it will put you in a lovely position to “allow” and ENJOY what does happen.
You might even be able to observe, with a sense of humor… “see, right on time. I knew that was coming.”
How will you Allow, Enjoy, and Plan for your Holidays this year?
Take a minute to comment here and let me know what you are doing to enter into the season? Anything about what I’ve said seem hard or particularly challenging? Leave a comment here or on Facebook and let me know.
I always want to hear how it’s going for you.
And if this was helpful in anyway to you, please share it with a friend…or all your friends. It feels really good to help! Let’s do it together.
Communication. It’s key. People coming to me for help in their relationships (alone or together) tell me all the time that they
“just need to improve their communication skills.”
Most people strive really hard to do just that.
They work on being kinder and having a softer approach. They work really hard on analyzing correctly so they can get their point across clearly and “be heard.” They gather evidence and examples. They keep an historical record, sometimes verbatim. They submit the hypothetical to their partner “how would you like it if…?” They make appointments to have big talks and get to the bottom of things. Sometimes they even use “date nights” as a time for those big talks. They work really hard to hold it together even when things get tense.
Even people who specialize in relationship and couples work often don’t help effectively. They teach people to “attend to listening” or “pay attention” when it’s their partner’s turn to talk. Eye contact. Body language. Turning toward, not away. Leaning in. (No eye-rolling, sighs, or other displays of impatience.) They teach “reflective listening” and hope each person can “issue an empathy statement.”
It’s good stuff… if you can do it successfully.
But sometimes it’s so much work.
Especially when, as a listener, you are seething and you already know the next thing your partner is going to say because she’s said it a hundred times and you are being forced to override every cell screaming to get away from this confrontation.You are, after all, in the counselor’s office and you are paying to do this conversation in front of a professional!
Or maybe the words coming out of your man’s mouth feel scathing and you just want to break down and cry but you’re being forced to “hold it together” long enough to be seen as “rational and logical.”
That kind of communication doesn’t truly work.
And by “work” I mean it does not get you what you want: connection, feeling understood, feeling like a team, solution and resolution. That’s why I regularly tell people to stop talking.
Now I don’t mean literally to stop talking entirely. I mean STOP TALKING so much. Stop talking like that. Do something entirely different.
I teach people to use my Clean, Non-blaming Communication (CNBC)™ framework.
It’s nifty. It diffuses huge issues. It’s simple. But not necessarily easy. And it’s usable and useful in so many situations and with all kinds of relationships. I mean that. With kids, bosses, underlings, acquaintances, potential dates, friends, siblings… you name it! Of course, it’s productive and helpful inside relationship!
I love it and I talk about it all the time. That’s because it has changed my life and the lives of so many clients. It grew out of years and years of my own experience, pain, hard work, broken heart, study, research, investigation, trial and error, and finally, complete transformation!
If you’ve signed up for my FREE Coaching Club, you already have a PDF copy of the framework.
Use it. Keep the framework handy because, of course it will feel strange and unnatural at first. It’s very different from what you’ve been doing! You will slip back into the pattern of the The Usual Subtext ™. That’s what’s natural. We’ve been conditioned to use that way of communication and try harder and harder, believing that our efforts have to yield results!
Or, worse, that there is just something wrong with the other person. They’re a bad mate, (we chose the wrong one!) or a bad employee, or bad sales clerk, or aggravating, troubled, difficult son (or daughter.)
We try and try and try and yet, all our efforts fail to get us what we want: cooperation, compliance, respect, connection, empathy, RESULTS!
If you want to learn more about the specifics of how Clean, Non-blaming Communication works, do one of three things:
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It can be really hard to do your work in relationship when you’re so bothered by someone else NOT doing theirs.
My mother used to say
“you are one hundred percent responsible for your actions and reactions.”
Gosh, I hated my mother sometimes. I rolled my eyes and knew she was right even as a young rascally little girl (with ten siblings!) intent on getting her own way at least some of the time.
It felt unjust to me. I got punished for “acting or reacting.” I got punished for “provoking.” The gist: I got punished.
The weight of being one hundred percent responsible as a child felt scary. Impossible. So burdensome. Too much.
And in fact, it is. There seemed no way to win except to somehow NOT FEEL.
I needed to know a healthy thing to do with my feelings.
Without acknowledgement for the very real thing I was experiencing (aka that feeling I didn’t like) I had no idea what to do with it except stuff it. We were told children should be seen and not heard, unless performing, which I was allowed to do for guests from time to time.
I needed someone in my life to reflect that the thing I was experiencing was real, valid, understandable, human. In short, I needed empathy. I didn’t need anyone to agree that I should feel that way or that I was right to feel that way or that my ensuing desire, hope, or fantasy about how someone else might fix my feeling was justified.
I needed to know I was not wrong or bad or crazy to feel the way I felt.
Instead I got the message not to feel.
It wasn’t common, respected, important, or expedient in my family to have feelings, much less act on them. It was okay to think stuff and do stuff, but talking about feelings… not so much. Displaying a feeling?! Good heavens! Moving an emotion from the rumble of our bodies to actually acting on it with movement or words?! Uh, that’s just not nice. That was punishable by OTHER activity (like running around the barn 20 times) or extra chores. From time to time, the assignment was to “go to your room and THINK about what you’ve done.”
So, we were allowed to “appropriately sublimate” our anger or rage or hurt. We were allowed to think our feelings or run them out or work them out. And occasionally we were allowed to think our feelings.
Makes for some pretty intense resistance to being one hundred percent responsible…
for my own actions and reactions. I think this approach was very well-intended but what I learned was this: I should just get over it. And if that was hard for me I was being “too sensitive.”
Could have been part of the stoic German/Scandanavian culture and mindset so solidly part of my childhood. Could be that additional German/Protestant work ethic.
Of course, I would be doing my own work! Work is what we do.
And that meant all my own emotional and psychic work as well.
I’ve spent my life DOING just that very thing. And leading others into it as well. So, obviously, I agreed with and wrestled with this mandate in big ways.
Sometimes it meant I did TOO MUCH work in relationship.
I carried too much responsibility for the thing that needed fixing. I picked up other people’s work and tried to do their stuff too or, even better, I tried to do their work instead.
That’s a lovely recipe for disastrous results for everyone.
Maybe you can relate.
Now, I don’t know what are your cultural or family-of-origin contributions to this whole puzzle but they MATTER. They make a difference in how you approach this and how comfortable you are with “feeling your feelings, thinking your thoughts, and doing stuff” versus what you might do as a default: think your feelings, be your thoughts, and act out.
Those early influences also matter in relation to how well you can distinguish your real responsibilities for growth from someone else’s work in relationship.
You might have similar hurdles to mine. Maybe not.
What we know for sure:
We know relationships are healthiest when people are separate and whole individuals deliberately choosing connection.
We know each individual person has human challenges, pretty unique to the way (s)he is made. Lots of these challenges are made worse by the seemingly most-possibly-aggravating pairing of mates in love relationships.
And when that happens, it’s either an invitation to quit or a challenge to rise to the occasion.
Just be sure it’s the right occasion and not just a repeat of familiar, old patterns.
You can’t fix someone else.
And you can’t get someone else or a relationship to fix you. No one else can do your work for you.
Let me say one more thing about this. So often I see people trying to fill the void in their own lives with their primary love relationship. I see people going from relationship to relationship looking for the right person who is going to treat them the way they deserve.
This is a mighty tricky concept because there is a difference between having standards for healthy treatment within a relationship and having expectations that someone else will behave in a way that keeps you comfortable.
News flash: even among quite healthy individuals, you each have your own growth to attend to. You’re not going to get everything you want. And that other person is not going to make you happy, keep you happy, or secure your happiness once and for all.
Life is not a fairytale.
Life is good and love can be good. And you’ve heard me say before that love is not hard, it’s not a lot of work. And I stand by that. But there is no happily ever after. There’s just now.
Love is not a lot of work.
But doing your own work can feel mighty hard and it is still your responsibility. And sometimes doing that work is the most challenging piece of all. Most of us can’t do it all by ourselves. That’s partly because it’s tough to see our way around those common blind spots.
It’s also because it takes real courage to face ourselves, to be vulnerable, to tell the truth and see the truth and then do something truly constructive with the information.
Relationship is good.
We need it. Could be the best relationship you can have with anyone right now is the one with a therapist or coach who has been down the road ahead of you and knows how to gently illuminate the path for you to choose. One thing is sure: that relationship you have with yourself will be stronger for all the work you do that is truly your work to do.
I guarantee that.
And the relationships you have with others will get healthier and healthier the more you can see what is truly your work to do. Fun thing in the whole deal? You’ll be able to stop working so hard at the wrong things and get on with the work that actually makes life better.
It’s not so scary.
Give me a call if you want to talk about how I can support you in the work that matters.
The fox says, “tame me” in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s famous children’s tale titled The Little Prince.
If you haven’t read it, you must. It’s full of those not-really-just-for-children moments when it so gracefully teaches us how to live as adults. I’ve never gotten through it without a lump in my throat, outright anguish sometimes. Tears? Why yes, of course. (Because I am that kind of reader. Not everyone is or needs to be to get the benefit. Don’t judge my soft heart.)
You’ll find the fox and his system of taming in the final third of the book, just when the Little Prince is ready to understand the utter value of his one true love, a rose he’s cared for on his little home planet. On his travels all throughout the book, he misses his rose. He worries about her. He ruffles at the thought of her vanity, her ego. He struggles to understand her.
Enter the fox. He shyly invites the Little Prince into a process of “taming.” That process and their relationship become a rich metaphor for us to understand both the great value in loving and the great risk of loss inherent in the process. It emphasizes the necessity of taming, returning at an anticipated time, getting a little closer each time, maintaining a safe experience for both, and celebrating together.
Given my sensibilities, I cry every time when the two- after sweet taming, connection, sharing, play, and joy – must “lose” one another. Yet, it’s still my favorite part. Is it any wonder I work in the specialties of Love and Loss?
You can’t have one without the other, try as we might. No matter what.
The acknowledgement that love and loss are married seems a prerequisite to ALL willingness toward taming. And what is taming, after all, if not those tender steps forward and back which we all experience in our lives and in every type of relationship? Even so, some of us want to skip the process. We want to know. We want a guarantee. We want security. We want to insulate ourselves against the inevitable. We want, essentially, to avoid the loss.
And that’s just not possible.
In fact, it’s not even good or healthy.
Know what is healthy? Realizing that life is both beautiful and short. Plus realizing that, while life is short, love is not. The Little Prince comes to realize he is carrying his love for his rose with him and that he will carry it forever even though she will not last forever. Though she is unique in all the world, she’s a rose, after all. And she’s special to him because he loves her and he has taken the time to tame her even though he did not understand what he was doing. It took his experience with that sly, lovely fox to teach him all about taming and love and loss. It’s a beautiful story.
I suppose I’ve ruined all the embedded themes, but trust me, the book is still a beautiful read.
It can make us brave in our quest to step out and venture into the process of taming.
And it is that process, not its result, that serves us. If we are willing to engage it.
So, for all of you scared to connect, wondering about how you’ll guard yourself against future loss, those of you who want a secure relationship, to not risk heartache, or betrayal, or hurt feelings, or risk losing an intimate relationship again… you are not alone. For those of you hoping to skip ahead, wanting to launch suddenly into an instant relationship or puzzled that the person you thought was just right for you turned out not to be the one you’re going to ride off into the sunset and old age with… hold on.
As long as there is life, there is time for love, for taming, for this moment, for connection, for goodness.
Don’t let fear of loss keep you from truly living and loving.
Most of us fear the loss because we don’t understand out own natural capacity to withstand it. Or, for some of us, we’ve done a very poor job of it in the past so that fear intensifies. Some of us were forced to handle loss at such an early age without much wise guidance in making sense of it that we forged unhealthy ways of processing our own pain.
I know the fear is real and the fear comes from somewhere and it has a different flavor for each one of us. That’s okay. We’ve kept it around for very good reasons.
Want help managing that or learning more about it?
We can make it work for you instead of against you. And we can explore together the ways you naturally move through loss and figure out if it’s helping or getting in your way.