Sunday, 5 November 2017

Rekindling Love And Partnership In Your Relationship Step-5



 
Introduction

Thank you for being here again and if this is your first time then welcome. This is Step 5 of my Relationship Course. Steps 1 to 4 are all still available on this blog. I recommend that you read and action them starting from Step 1. It is critical that, if this is your first encounter with the course, you start with Step 1. Subsequent readings can be approached differently but you won't get the full benefit of the course if Step 1 is skipped. 

Please get in touch if you require any further information about what I can offer to you and your partner. Sessions can be conducted via Skype or other platforms from a distance. I have clients in many other countries. Some of my sessions have also been carried out successfully via the phone. Don’t let distance or technology stop you! 

Step 5
Why are relationships often so complicated? In 2011, it was estimated that 42% of all marriages ended in divorce. That’s a lot of heartache and upset and that’s just the people who actually go through the process of divorce not the people who separate without divorcing. I’m sure that we all have our opinions about why relationships can be so difficult but it doesn’t make much difference in having them work! Actually it’s how we are in a relationship that has us experience relationships as difficult, relationships in themselves are not difficult.To give us some possibly new understanding into our relationships I want here to look at how physiologically our bodies respond in an intimate relationship. The reason I am introducing this inquiry at this point is twofold. Firstly my commitment is that we understand how our bodies respond to being in a relationship so that we can experience some freedom in dealing with emotions and sensations that arise by understanding that these feelings are experienced by pretty much everyone on planet earth and most of them are just automatic. Secondly, I have introduced this step at a later stage because it can be a diversion from us getting in action and shifting what hasn’t been working. You will after this Step 5 have the opportunity of going back through the previous steps with a new understanding of what is happening between you and your partner. A caveat here, I am not a neuroscientist and my explanations of how the brain responds comes from a basic knowledge of the brain and I will therefore be using more general descriptions so that we don’t get lost in detail.

Imagine that you are sitting next to your partner and you have just had an argument. You are both angry and both know without a doubt that you are right. In this moment the physiological response is identical to the response you would have if you were being physically threatened.The reaction that you have to anger is identical to the reaction to fear.  A threat is perceived by and processed by the amygdala. The amygdala is part of a very complex area of the brain called the Limbic System which broadly deals with our emotional life and the formation of memories. The amygdala is a small but massively powerful almond shaped nuclei which picks up the threat of danger in being made wrong and kicks in with a response that releases Epinephrine, a chemical that is produced by the adrenal gland. This then raises your blood pressure and heart rate, sending an increased blood flow to your brain and muscles, you will at this point probably also start sweating. There are other chemicals released into your body but let’s not concern ourselves with them now. You will then be triggered into fight or flight mode. Some of us will want to escape from the confrontation and others will want to dig in and fight our corner. Some of us will also freeze and our minds become a total blank. As the chemicals start to take effect you will probably start to talk louder and faster changing your facial expressions to give out a warning that something bad is happening. When in the grip of this response it is incredibly difficult to calm the nervous system. When our bodies sense danger, parts of our cognitive rational brain are shut down or dampened and the saved energy is sent via our autonomic system to parts of the body that will increase its effectiveness in protecting us from this perceived threat. 

So why is an argument with our partner, someone we may love and cherish, perceived as a threat which then can trigger anger and fear? Our bodies are incredible organisms that have become hugely effective over millennium in detecting danger. We are constantly predicting the near and far future to scan for danger. As we go through our day, our unconscious, autonomic system is responsible for 95% of our brain activity. How we predict the future is from our past experiences and understanding. If something in the past has impacted us, then in the future there will be an automatic response if that event happens again. However it may not be an rationally recognisable incident but could be a smell or a sensation or something someone says that is a subconscious reminder of some past incident. If in the past you have made a decision that people are cruel from an incident that may have happened, then when your partner says something you now also perceive as cruel, the same sensations will be experienced and your body will automatically take over, the amygdala will kick in and you will be consumed by the chemicals released for your protection. In Luke Reinhart’s ‘Book Of Est’ an account of being in the incredible EST training, he writes that the leader said that people would sooner their bodies die than their beliefs. That’s why people will give their life to save someone else or give their life for a cause rather than having their beliefs die. This is what you are dealing with! The hold that our beliefs and opinions have over us is incredibly powerful. The subconscious mind is always going to initially triumph.Paul Hedderman in his talks about non duality says that the subconscious is always the fastest draw. It’s always going to react first. The only way that we can triumph over it is to see it arising, get that it’s just our humanity, that it’s is our bodies way of protecting us, not make it wrong and then take action to divert it rather that let it control us and trash our relationship! So how is this even possible to control? I want to get into that a little later but for the moment I want you to understand that this is how we are functioning physiologically and start to see how you get reactivated. What are the triggers and then what are the emotions and sensations you experience when in the grip of your bodies reaction to a threat.

What has assisted me in my relationship and life generally is relating to myself as an organism that has been input with data. This then helps me by taking some of the negative significance out of my experience of life and particularly in my communications. If I can relate to my responses as just dealing with the stored data then it’s a whole lot better than when I read into my response some significant meaning.  When you think about it, what choice have we really had regarding who we are? If we were born to different parents in a different culture our personalities would be completely different than they are now. We would probably have different tastes in food, music, culture, different beliefs and a different moral code. We would be completely unrecognisable to who we are now. But how we relate to our beliefs and opinions is that they are ours and they are right. A construct has been assembled and then we relate to it as ‘I’, I am this and I am that, I like this and I don’t like that, then we have strategies to repel all borders. That’s how we are functioning in our relationships and that is why so many relationships fail! You don’t have to like everything about your partner, you can have very dissimilar likes and dislikes as long as you don’t relate to their likes and dislikes as a threat or somehow see them as disrespectful to our own beliefs, likes and opinions. Two of my dearest friends are in a long term loving marriage, the epitome of a successful relationship. She is staunchly religious, doesn’t swear and doesn’t drink, he is very much an atheist and is very fond of drinking and can be a bit of a potty mouth. He has been a committed vegetarian for the majority of his life whilst she eats almost nothing but meat and potatoes and hates almost all vegetables. They have two wonderful children who are now very well adjusted adults. Their relationship works because they don’t relate to each other’s contrary views on life and tastes as a threat! They respect each other’s opinions and love and care for each other.

So here I want to look at the physiological response individuals have when embarking on a new relationship and then look at the pitfalls that can arise as the relationship progresses. Love is a wonderful thing! Setting our hearts to flutter and rendering our rational brain impotent. It can be an excilerating and scary feeling, lovely when it happens and often very said as if it disappears. It can also wreak havoc on a relationship! Studies by Helen Fisher at Rutgers University, New Jersey proposed that there were three stages to a relationships development. The initial phase is Lust. Men’s bodies at this point release testosterone and women Estrogen. This is followed by the phase of Attraction which gives rise to specific chemicals or hormones, these are, Dopamin which gives you drive to peruse your partner and is responsible for goal directed behaviour, Norepinerphrine, which puts your body in an alert state with a surge of energy and speeds up your heart rate. Serotonin can also be released at this stage but this is more likely for women and it can actually decrease for men. Serotonin can divert the mind to think about your partner. The third stage or phase can occur after about 4 years by which time Dopamin decreases and attraction decreases with it. This phase is called Attachment. With attachment the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin are released having us create the desire to bond and nurture your partner. Oxytocin is also released when achieving orgasm and also during childbirth and breastfeeding and is thought to be responsible for bringing couples closer together but can also make you experience being needy and jealous. Vasopressin is released after sex and stimulates protective behaviour, it can also stimulate less negative communication, relationship maintenance, attachment security, support for your partner and more. This is what is generally occurring during the course of a relationship. The phases of lust, attraction and attachment can vary in length and can occur for shorter periods of time at any time during a relationship but generally they occur in this order and these hormones are released and effect all of us in similar ways. 

This could all be perceived as not a very romantic and spontaneous reaction to another human being but for me knowing that my body is responding in this way helps me not give negative meaning to these sensations when they arise and gives me an opportunity to play and create situations that will stimulate these hormones. Our cognitive mind can be incredibly powerful and we can use it to in a sense fool our unconscious mind. It has been shown for instance that when we smile as a reaction to stimulus it can have a beneficial effect on our physiology but we also know that generating smiling when we don’t even feel like smiling can also have a beneficial effect. Smiling uses facial muscles and when these muscles are used our limbic system is fooled into thinking ‘hey there’s a party going on up there’ and goes into action releasing the feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. We can use the same sort of tricks with our relationship by bringing romance to the forefront,listening attentively, by saying ‘I love you’ more often, by acts of kindness and love, by generating passion etc. We don’t have to be dictated to by our hormonal response or lack of response. There is much information out there that has views-some scientifically gleaned, about how to choose the perfect mate and what specific circumstances need to arise for us to have lasting relationships, how wealth or lack of can effect our relationships, how in-laws can be detrimental, how the birth of children can effect a relationship. Most of this information is presented as factual. It’s not its just a particular view as is mine! We can have any relationship that we choose! We don’t have to be dictated to by our circumstances, we don’t have to be a victim of our circumstances! Don’t wait for your relationship to work out but make it to work out. Get into action. Go back over the steps when there is something in the way of you both experiencing it as working. Stop listening to those negative thoughts. How do you do that? Well what you do is literally stop listening to your endless internal thoughts. If you don’t interact with them then they won’t grow, their hold on you will become weaker and you will experience more joy and freedom in your relationship and generally in your life. 


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Rekindling Love And Partnership In Your Relationship-Step 4






Click To Visit The Daya Coaching For Life Website

Step 1, 2 and 3 are available in the blog archive to the right




Introduction

If you have been following Steps 1 to 3 then things will probably be looking different in your relationship. What will be required for this to be sustainable is for you both to be present to your communications and to re visit the different steps when difficulties arise. Don’t just sit and stew pointing the finger at your partner! It’s up to you to make it work. You are not a victim! The next step will only have real impact if you have followed the previous three steps and if you have been rigorous in completing these then you will often find that the issues I address in the next step will have arisen already.

Below are some ideas/techniques that I know have worked for couples I have worked with and have worked in my relationship with my wife. No written material can replace what I can offer with personal coaching but if you and your partner are prepared to draw a line and say ‘enough’ to how it has been between you and you are now willing to embrace a new approach then I am confident that this material will make a huge difference to your relationship, whether you feel that the relationship has hit the rocks or you just want to bring some joy and excitement back into it. There will be more steps to follow. 

Step 4

This step is about romance,inspiration and fun! 

So Valentine’s Day. What’s that all about? One day a year where we agree that we should be romantic. It’s even for some of us expected. As though not participating in it might be seen as some negative statement about the status of our relationship. You can also look at it as a lovely day when we get to acknowledge our love for our partner. Your choice really. However what it does I think demonstrate is an acknowledgment that romance is important to us even if just for one day. So I just want us to explore romance for a moment.

The romance I want to address- as this course is all about our relationships, is the romance created by two people to connect and bring a closeness to their relationship. Romance however doesn’t have to be about or for another. People talk about the romance of Paris or Rome for instance. So romance can be about a place and it can also be about a way of being. People can be romantic in their approach to life or in their speaking and their tastes. One persons view of romance can also of course be diametrically opposed to another’s. The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of romance is  ‘a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love’ This quote from Virginia Wolfe I find very romantic “Just in case you ever foolishly forget; I’m never not thinking of you”. But to some it may occur as too understated or too obvious and lacking mystery and in fact romance. So romance within a relationship has to connect with the other persons feelings, their likes and dislikes, their tastes really, to land as romantic. A romantic gesture can be as simple as a meal cooked for another. The requirement however would have to be that this was something out of the ordinary and not something the other person did day in and day out. The romance of Paris I’m sure would fade if one was living there for a prolonged period of time. So the unexpected surprise of a gesture or word that ignites a feeling of love or a feeling of desire, would be one useful way of defining romance. So when was the last time that you ignited these feelings in your partner? What is it that would ignite these feelings in your partner? 

I’m clear that some relationships have survived for many years without any romance being present. But at what cost to that full and complete experience of connectedness with each other? I know what romance provides for my relationship with my wife. It means that our love for each other instead of diminishing over time has grown. It also has our life together be exciting and fun. Now the problem for most of us humans is that we don’t wake up into a romantic world. Life can often show up as rather prosaic and dull. So romance needs to be created. Your going to need to use your noggin to get connected to how you could generate romance in your relationship! Really give it some thought. It’s also going to require you to give up any resigned thoughts about how your partner is going to respond or that it’s really too late for all of this or putting time considerations in the way or tiredness or any other justification. Maybe for you it will be that tit for tat response of “well they are never romantic so why should I be” or “they just aren’t built that way” or maybe for you it's " they will think I'm foolish". Actually discussing that romance is missing in your relationship and that you now want to create more romance would probably occur for your partner as romantic. You of course don't even need to call it romance. It could be talked about as having more fun, excitement and passion in your relationship.

Pretty much everyone will respond to romance it’s just that you have to get it from their perspective to see what action or words will connect with them. I’m tempted to give a list of suggestions here but it really isn’t about that. It’s whatever is going to work for you and your partner. It could be as simple as telling them that you love them if that is something that you rarely do or it could be a surprise holiday to some exotic location. However this isn’t just a once only action but something that you can be doing regularly to bring that va va voom back into your relationship. To some people just listening and really understanding what they are dealing with can be romantic and even if you don’t think that it is then take it on board as it definitely won’t do any harm to your relationship! Being romantic doesn't always mean that you need to be taking actions that you see as romantic. It can be how your are consistantly  being in the relationship.

A complaint that generally arises (no pun intended) when relationships are not working or have become predictable and boring is that the couple have ceased to have sex together or rarely do. It’s obvious if you are not communicating with each other then this is going to impact your sex life but also if romance is missing from life then that generally has an impact. If this is the case for you then I suggest that you go through the different steps starting from step one and be in communication about this. It can be an issue that brings up all sorts insecurities and concerns. Sex can become a very serious, painful issue loaded with meaning. However it’s just sex and has no intrinsic meaning and like most other things in life you can have fun with it and be creative. Remember how it probably was for you both when you first started out together? Well it can be that way again if you are willing to bring some creativity and excitement back into it. Maybe if you haven’t had intercourse for a while then agree with each other that you are going to just touch, talk and explore for a period of time without going all of the way. Light some candles, play some music, bathe together, massage each other with oil. I don’t know! Whatever does it for you really but get in action and stop being right about your point of view because it’s not working! The damage generally caused in our relationship arises out of us not being in communication and being resigned about what is achievable. Get in communication and do it in a nurturing and respectful way. If you are worried or scared to do this then really look at the impact of not being in communication. Can you be with that? Remember how it may have been between you both at one time and rekindle that.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Rekindling Love And Partnership In Your Relationship - Step 3






Click To Visit The Daya Coaching For Life Website

Step 1 and 2 are available in the blog archive to the right


Introduction

If you are coming to this program for the first time and want to start engaging with it, then I strongly advise you to complete Step 1 and Step 2 before moving on to Step 3. Step 2 and Step 3 are interchangeable to a degree but you won’t have sustainable results if you skip Step 1. If you have already read and used Step 1 and 2 previously then thank you for engaging with it and thank you for continuing with the program. Step 3 is all about how the results that you have probably started to experience from the two previous steps can be integrated into your life in a sustainable way. As I have said previously these steps are not to be completed just once but are there to be used in your life ongoingly. You will experience over time that this new approach to communicating with your partner will become easier with use and after a while it will alter the way you live your lives together and this new way of communicating will just become normal and an effortless everyday experience . The steps can be approached after using them for the first time in a none linear way. You won’t need to go back to Step 1 again and start going through all of the steps if some difficulty arises in your lives. This approach will become clearer as you start using the Steps. Please remember that there is no magic happening here, any results caused will be a function of you using the program and integrating it into your lives.

Step 3

If you have been using Step 1 and 2 then the fog of confusion and frustration that you may have been experiencing in your relationship will have started to lift and a new partnership will be forming. This Step looks at how to sustain any results that you have had and how to integrate it into your everyday life.

For those of you that are married or have a civil partnership, do you remember what you promised in your vows? You may have used the traditional vows of love, honour and obey but you will more than likely have written your own. What can happen and I’m sure generally does is that those vows are given some serious thought prior to the wedding but from the wedding day onwards we generally aren’t present to our vows save for the occasional use of them in attempting to get one up in an argument. I’ve been with my partner for 20 years now and we were married 17 years ago. I have no idea what we promised to each other when we were married and can’t say that I’ve given them a moments thought since that wonderful day. I know that at the time I was so connected to my commitment to love and nurture my wife that the vows didn’t seem important. They were just words. But how long is that promise really alive for us? 

Vows aren’t generally made within the context that they were created. A vow is an agreement between people or a promise or pledge but certainly how my wife and I saw our vows was more of an acknowledgement of each other that created a lovely feeling and brought us closer, not a binding agreement. When was the last time that you asked your partner how the vows were going for them or even asked how the relationship was going? 

What I have witnessed is missing from relationships where communication has broken down is a stated commitment to each other. Literally a context for the relationship inside of which all conversations and actions take place. So what do I mean by this? Below is a great quote and although he is talking here about companies I think relevant to relationships.

“There’s a difference between a brand promise and a brand commitment. It’s easy to promise. It’s hard to commit.” – Greg Cordell, Chief Inspiration Officer, Brains on Fire

What I think Greg Cordell is getting at here is that it’s easy to make a promise and to break that promise, ‘I promise to give up smoking’ is a common one that we have all heard and seen flounder or ‘I promise that I will never do that again’ A commitment however is a call to action. The promise to give up smoking is much more powerful a statement and ultimately more sustainable inside of a commitment. If you state ‘I am committed to a long fit and healthy life’ then smoking can’t really exist inside of this commitment. Not that someone’s smoking habit is going to magically disappear by stating this commitment but if it is linked to this bigger context for a healthy life then it will have a greater chance of success. So what has this got to do with relationships? Let me give you an example from my life.

What really worked for my relationship is that my wife and I would schedule in time away from the family to talk about our relationship. We don’t need to do that so often now as we have these conversations ongoingly. We would go out together for a drink or a meal or just out walking together and if you had been a witness to our conversations you would probably have thought that we were on the verge of breaking up because we would speak openly with no holds bard. How the conversation used to go is that we would check in with each other how it was all going. Literally I would ask or she would ask the question ‘how is the marriage going’ then one of us would outpour about everything that was working and wasn’t working about our partnership. We had already agreed how to manage these conversations and the structure that we thought would best work and they were completed because of our love for each other and our commitment to our marriage working for both of us. We were then inspired to restate or state anew our commitment to each other. So let’s say that we made a commitment to have a fun, safe, joyful and loving family home. Living inside of that commitment every conversation and action can be assessed. I know that I can’t be rude and uncaring if I am living from that commitment and likewise for my partner. If a conversation isn’t coming from that commitment then it will show up starkly and then it can be dealt with.

So how do we make this commitment and have it present in our lives? The first thing to do-remembering that here you have already completed step 1 and 2 of the program- is to talk together and get creative. Really get in touch with what inspires both of you in your life together. Don’t be too concerned about how to make it happen at the moment but be free to dream of the life that you both would love. If what comes up is resistance from either of you to this process, maybe some bitterness about ‘how can we possibly have this’ because of past behaviour then go back to step 1 and make sure that it’s complete for both of you. Remember here that you’re not looking at the actions that may be required but just creating a commitment to each other. Don’t make it too complicated! It can be created with a few words, love, joy, fun, nurture. The pull will be to come up with something that is created from the restrictions of how the relationship has gone in the past. This will limit how you will see the future. This is now new, so as far as you can, create without a concern for what has happened in the relationship previously. The predictable state of a human being is to be resigned saying ‘it can’t possibly work because ……’  or  ‘you don’t know my partner, they will never stick to anything’ or ‘we are just too busy and exhausted to make time for this' or some version of these. If you want to keep the relationship the way it currently is then go ahead and be resigned, if you want something different, something inspiring, a relationship that you never dreamed was possible then what is required is for you to give up your resistance and CREATE something new!

Now write it down as it will disappear from memory quicker than you created it. Put it somewhere visible so that you keep present to it daily. After a while you won’t need to write It down to remind yourself because it will become simply the way you live your lives together. In my relationship with my wife if one of us was being an arse for more than a moment or two it would occur like the film Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers where an alien presence has taken one of us over!

You may be asking at this point ‘how is it going to be possible to sustain this’ Well again there is no magic that is suddenly going to change your relationship. It will require you being present to all of your communications and how you and your partner are acting and reacting in the relationship. You will make mistakes, you will probably get angry, it will probably occur like the relationship is worse at first because those communications and behaviours that before were just the way you communicated will now be highly visible. Stick with it as the rewards are immense. It’s going to require both of you to stop scoring points with tit for tat ‘I was right, you were wrong’ position taking. Not easy but so possible. If you notice that you have ‘fallen off the wagon’ then clean up the mess with each other and re commit to your future. Everything can be resolved by openly and lovingly talking and listening.

What really works to keep the commitment alive is to schedule in time to sit and talk to each other about what is working and what’s not working. Don’t just think that a five minute chat over breakfast or meeting each other by the front door conversation will sustain it. It almost certainly won’t. What will work is weekly or two weekly scheduled dates were you can sit down in a relaxed atmosphere and talk. Put agreements in place were you both decide the structure of these sessions. Agreements like no raised voices, no rude interruptions, no point scoring, being civil at all times etc. Think about how the interactions may go wrong, what would trigger both of you and put in some agreement that will help with that situation. The mistake that I’ve seen happen with some couples is that they schedule the first month and get some benefit from it but then they let it slip and it can become forgotten. This part of the program is vital! Schedule in dates as far in advance as possible.  You can always re schedule those dates if some other commitment comes up but put the dates in your diary immediately!

The actions to take are:
a) Complete Steps 1 and 2 of the program.
b) Schedule an initial session to create your future together.
c) Be inventive without a concern for how this will work
d) Schedule in time for future dates as far in advance as possible. 

Step 4 will be looking at how to rekindle love, romance and fun in your relationship.





Saturday, 23 September 2017

Rekindling Love And Partnership In Your Relationship-Step 2




https://stevelovellcoach.com/

Click To Visit The Daya Coaching For Life Website

Step 1 is available in the blog archive to the right

Introduction To Step 2




Below is step 2 of the Rekindling Love And Partnership In Your Relationship program. If you haven’t yet completed step 1 of the program then I strongly advise that you to do so before going into action with step 2. The reason for this is that until you have both been honest with each other regarding your past behavior and interactions, any progress will be limited and almost certainly unsustainable. Remember the pool analogy from step 1? If step 1 has been completed and you are now ongoingly in communication about what hasn’t worked in your relationship then like the leaf dropping into a clean pool, what doesn’t work, either in the area of conversations or actions, will show up clearly and can then be dealt with. Remember though that step one or in fact any of the different steps that will be presented are not a ‘do it once only and tick the box’ exercises but are to be used and integrated into how you communicate for the rest of your time together. Step 2 is about creating real communication and ways of you really understanding what is being communicated by your partner.

Step 2 


I’m sure that we have all experienced times when what we have said has been misconstrued and we have been baffled as to why that is ‘surely they couldn’t have got that from what I said, they just can’t have been listening’. Those times when you have made it absolutely clear that you have ‘really appreciated’ a meal that they have cooked or the present that they have bought you or their new clothes etc or you have demonstrated that you love them over and over again and ‘they just don’t get it!’ 

Instead of us acknowledging that what we have communicated is at odds with how our partner has received our communication, what we generally jump to as human beings is that there is a problem over there with them and not here with me. Consider this ,what you communicate comes directly from how you perceive your ‘reality’ and your partner receives your communication from how they perceive their ‘reality’. There is no ‘reality’ as such but just how you both perceive the world around you. You 'hear the other' through one's own projected belief of what the other person is saying. This can then be a wildly inaccurate interpretation ( we could go into the science of this distortion here and delve deeply into parataxic distortion but that’s not going to help in your relationship!)

So now you have a problem! Your speaking is shaped by your interpretation of how the conversation will be perceived by your partner and formed by who your interpretation of your partner is which is created by your past relationships and experience and your partner is hearing you through their projected beliefs given by their past experience. This is how misunderstanding, mistrust and resentment is created in a relationship! It’s rather like your communications have been put through a random word generator and spat out. 

The above can occur as a bit conceptual which will not assist you in moving forward, so what I request that you do is to really look at how this relates to you and your partner. Think of an incident where in your opinion what you had said didn’t land with your partner and there was then some confusion created. It doesn’t have to be a significant incident but just one that demonstrates this misunderstanding. 

I can think of a fairly trivial example from my life that happened recently. My wife and I were traveling home in the car and talking about what to prepare for lunch. I suggested that because we had left over sweet tamarind sauce from last nights meal that we could have some soba noodles which I could prepare and she could prepare some miso soup. When we got home I noticed that she was putting noodles into a pan of water instead of what I thought we had agreed which was her preparing the miso soup and me preparing the noodles. What we then realised was that she had thought that what I had suggested was that we have noodles with a miso broth and sweet sauce and that we prepare that dish together. Ok so far this is all,as I said, rather trivial, however let’s look at it inside of the communication distortion I am talking about. My communication regarding lunch came from a) a desire to eat quickly because I was hungry b) to organise and get into action because I’m a natural leader and that’s just what I do and if I don’t communicate the actions clearly then they will be misunderstood. 

When my wife seemingly started to do her own thing then I immediately jumped to ‘I’m not being listened to here’ mixed with ‘here she goes again just doing her own thing without any regard for my plans’  Both of these thoughts and the subsequent communications were a result of my past which was then projected onto my wife’s actions and communications . I can see clearly how my view of life and having to be the strong organiser was created and then how my not being understood was forged in early life. The way my wife heard the conversation was from a belief that she had to get it right because she thinks that she gets things wrong. This was then projected into the way she heard what I said which was forged from her past. The result was that we weren’t listening to each other at all but just interpreting the conversation from our own concerns. We could go deeper into this misunderstanding because there will be many more distorted strands but do you get the point? And this was just about lunch!

So where does this apply to your relationship? A radical suggestion here is that you could actually have some fun looking at these miscommunications. I’m not suggesting that you trivialise the big stuff that has really impacted your life together but looking at more trivial misunderstandings and getting to the source of why they happened can take the heat and significance out and you can then begin practicing being in each other’s 'reality'. 

So how we are communicating is not from how the conversation will be received by our partner but how we think that it should be received ‘they really should know that I care for them and it’s totally crazy that they don’t because I’ve said it a thousand times!’ It’s going to take some shift in your position here as we humans love to be right and not take responsibility but the rewards are huge! The place to start is by you firstly both acknowledging that there has been a problem with your communication and then both of you taking on being fully responsible for how future conversations go and taking full responsibility for your relationship. Now maybe your partner isn’t prepared to take full responsibility at this point and that may leave you with feeling that it’s impossible to move forward but it will still be extremely effective if you alone declare yourself responsible. I know that with my marriage I have declared full responsibility for how it goes no matter what, even if I think that I’m right and that she is wrong then it’s my responsibility to get it sorted. It’s great that my wife has also declared this but even if she hadn’t been prepared to then it wouldn’t alter my commitment to the relationship. I just can't be the victim if I take this position.

The next thing to do is to start practicing with your communication, noticing how it is landing with them and noticing the triggers for you getting annoyed or frustrated and what triggers their adverse reaction from your communication. Try taking the should out of your opinion.There is no magic that will have this automatically happen. What is required is practice. We wouldn’t expect to go and run a marathon without training for it and likewise it would be totally unrealistic to expect to suddenly change the way we communicate after a lifetime of it being another way. I’m asking you to be sensitive to how you communicate and how you listen to your partner. You don’t have to suddenly make everything you are saying wrong (see that it works to be that there is no right or wrong here just what works and what doesn’t) and you don’t need to step over saying anything that needs to be said but just be more aware of the impact of your words and the impact in the way you hear what is being said.

I may be in danger of over egging the pudding here so I apologies but I am really committed that you not just understand this but get it in your bones. Let me give you a fictional example to demonstrate how people often communicate that doesn’t work for either of them. Let’s call our couple Peter and Liz. Peter works in banking and describes his job as ‘high powered, high pressure work in the city’ He also loves playing tennis which helps him relax and he does this twice a week. Liz and Peter have three children who are aged between 2 and 10 years old. Liz is a full time mother and left her job in the financial sector when their first child was born. Peter leaves their home for work early at 7am and returns home at 7pm but this can often be much later. He is in time to put the eldest child to bed when he arrives home but the other two children are already asleep. Liz’s constant complaint is that she is exhausted from looking after the kids, cooking cleaning and generally running the home, she feels unappreciated and unsupported. She also feels that Peter doesn't really value her contribution and that he relates to the money he earns as his and puts no value on the work she does in looking after the children etc. Peter’s complaint is that he works hard, brings in the money, is exhausted and comes home to a chaotic house and a disgruntled wife. They very rarely go out socially together and in fact they rarely ever talk much about anything together.

The way they generally communicate is with disgruntled jibes about the state of the house, the exhaustion that they both experience and how unfair it all is. They love each other but can’t seem to make any difference to a relationship that clearly isn’t working. Peter thinks that his wife should see how hard he works to provide for the family and can’t understand when Liz says that he takes advantage of her and under appreciates her when 'she has it so good not having to do the long commute and relentless hours and I come home and i'm as attentive and loving as I can be considering what I have to deal with'. Liz can’t understand why he doesn’t see how difficult it is for her and why he reacts every time she brings up the fact that she is exhausted. All her friends can see how 'unfair he is being with his not helping out and he has an escape in his tennis and it’s just not fair!' He really should be more attentive and appreciative. 

And who is right here? You can see that they are both stuck with their opinions of each other and their lives together. If Peter could see how it must be for Liz and Liz see how it must be for Peter then they could have open and meaningful conversations and in the process get some practical solutions for what they are dealing with. Instead they are stuck with a big should blocking the way in all of their interactions rather than with the question ‘why’ or’ how must it be’ for each other. What stops them is that they aren’t looking into each other’s possible experience but just centered on what they are personally dealing with. If they can take out the should and blame then we have a fighting chance! 

It’s all pretty obvious and simple isn’t it but we make it all very complicated so that we don’t actually have to do much about it!

Actions to take:

a) Complete Step 1 if you haven’t already.
b) Revisit Step 1 to see if there are any more undelivered/unresolved communications. There will be!
c) Acknowledge to each other if you haven’t already, that the way you have been communicating hasn’t worked for your partner. Remember to take a gift which is you taking responsibility and not pointing a finger at them!
d) Have a conversation where you remove the should and really get into their world no matter how crazy and illogical you think that world is! Remember that it’s not the way it shows up for you that’s important here but the way it shows up for them. Be generous! Really speak from how it will land for them and get how it must have been in the past when they were misunderstood.
e) Now look to see if there has been any progress. You will know because you will have the experience of it all being lighter and less significant and see that it will be the same for your partner. It may all be a little turbulent to begin with so don’t be concerned as its usually this way when approaching something new especially when you have had a lifetime of generally not being in another persons world.
f) Do the above over and over. It will then become just the way you communicate.
g) Get it all wrong and don’t worry just try again!
h) If new complaints about past communication or incidents are uncovered then go and get them sorted by using step 1 again.



In Step 3 we will be looking at a structure for keeping all communication and interactions present in your relationship.





Sunday, 17 September 2017

Rekindling Love And Partnership In Your Relationship

 

 
https://stevelovellcoach.com/

Click To Visit The Daya Coaching For Life Website

Introduction:


Most of us remember our first experience of love for our partner. For most of us those early days of a relationship are the most exciting life affirming, crazy times of our lives,  where we have feelings and sensations that occur to us as out of our control and exhilarating. They connect us to our primal nature and take us back to our younger days when life was for living not for analysing, worrying and ruminating over. That’s when we see the person that we love as a near perfect being and our days are consumed by thoughts of them. 

So this is how a relationship often unfolds and if this isn’t exactly how it went or goes for you then perhaps you can see that you have experienced a version of this. After some time that quirky cute behaviour exhibited by them, that at first occurred as endearing, may now grate like finger nails scraped down a blackboard and those declarations of undying love and lofty plans for the future are long forgotten in the daily humdrum of life. Ok maybe this is a little overstated for some but we are often aware that the fun and joy and sometimes love for our partner has dwindled or sometimes completely disappeared. In that first period of love and connection the way we communicate which was originally  from love and commitment may now have eroded into reactionary point scoring. The problem often is that how we were being with our partner and how they were with us is now lost and as much as we may try we fail to reconnect and get the relationship we had dreamed of back. They just don’t seem to be the person that they were.

Below are some ideas/techniques that I know have worked for couples I have worked with and have worked in my relationship with my wife. No written material can replace what I can offer with personal coaching but if you and your partner are prepared to draw a line and say ‘enough’ to how it has been between you and you are now willing to embrace a new approach then I am confident that this material will make a huge difference to your relationship, whether you feel that the relationship has hit the rocks or you just want to bring some joy and excitement back into it. I will be releasing step 2 soon with many more to follow. There is an order to the different steps presented here, however there is no advantage to be had from sticking slavishly to the order that I release them. You may need to jump backwards or forwards through the steps depending on your assessment of how it’s going. For instance if you hit a wall or are struggling with one area of your relationship then you will almost certainly find that one of the steps has not been fully completed or that maybe it just needs re visiting to give a boost to that area. I request however that step 1 is always completed first. The reason for this will become apparent. 

The most effective way of having this material positively impact your relationship is for you and your partner to work together. However it is possible and not advisable to make a difference to the relationship if just you take responsibility for having it work. I know that this may occur to you as counter intuitive as you may be thinking ‘the problem is with them not me’ or ‘well it takes two to tango’ -and I will address this in later material but for now just trust me when I say that you alone can cause a massively positive impact on your relationship even if your partner is reluctant to do so. 



Step 1


So by the fact that you are reading this, I know that you are looking to make a difference in your relationship or your understanding of how relationships work. Congratulations! You have taken the first step in your commitment to your partner and yourself and almost certainly the people in your family and in your life. No matter how long you have been together there will be a lot of conversations or interactions with your partner that haven’t gone the way you would have liked. There will be things about the relationship that don’t work for either of you and haven’t worked for some time and you have maybe wanted to address but have been stopped. So what stops us from communicating openly with our partner. Well it’s generally one of the below:

a) we are resigned about the difference that it will make, we have the thought ‘well it’s pointless saying it again because she/he just doesn’t listen to me’. Or ‘it’s gone too far now to make any difference’
b) ‘they always take offense no matter what I say or how I put it.’
c) ‘I just don’t know where to start or when to say it.’
d) ‘I’m scared of their reaction. Maybe they will think that I don’t love them anymore.’
e) ‘why should it be me who is always clearing up the mess!’
f) ‘why do I need to say it? It’s so obvious that what they are doing is plain wrong! If they don’t get that then there is no hope for us.’
g) or maybe you are just one of the nice ones who say ‘who am I to be saying anything about them and us’ but then you go about your day busily complaining about your partner to yourself and probably anyone else who will listen.
h) you say ‘well we’re not doing that bad,I know of couples who are doing a lot worse and anyway it can never be perfect’

Where we once communicated so openly or at least thought that we did, we are now shut down and resentful of our partner. The other danger is that our communication and commitment to each other slips away so gradually that we barely notice it. We start out the relationship having open meaningful conversations, let’s generously call that 100% communication then things happen in the relationship that aren’t addressed or you have arguments that aren’t resolved and the communication slips to an 80% but we think that it’s still at 100% and then it’s slips to let’s say 60%. We know at this stage that it’s not going well but we still think that we are probably at 80%. After a while the way we communicate with each other has slipped so far but it just occurs as normal. The way we are with each other is intolerant, righteous, dominating, uncaring and we aren’t even present to it! It’s just become the way that we communicate and if we had talked to each other in this way at the beginning of the relationship then it wouldn't have even lasted a week!

If you can see this at all for yourself then you must get how dysfunctional it has all become when there are two of you operating like this. 

How then do we start to move forward? It is essential that before anything new can be generated we need to be in communication where we haven’t been in communication previously. I’ll use an analogy here to demonstrate. Imagine an outdoor swimming pool that has gathered leaves over the Autumn. If another leaf drops in then it’s no big deal. It will go unnoticed as it will be almost impossible to see amongst all of the other leaves. That’s how it’s probably been going in your relationship. As I said before it’s just become normal to speak like that, so normal that most of the time you just can’t see it, just another leaf dropping into the pool. So what needs to happen is for that pool to be cleaned out. To do this you will need to have those conversations that you have never had before, each of you being totally open about things that haven’t worked or upsets that you have had and never addressed. This is of critical importance and without this the way forward will be blocked by these unspoken issues. Nothing can be built. Do not pass go, do not collect £100! When you have cleaned up the past- and this will be ongoing during your relationship not just a once only you’ve ticked the box exercise- then any conversations or incidents that arise that don’t work for you or you partner will show up so much more clearly. As an example, if there is a communication or cross word that doesn’t work for my wife or my family delivered by any of us then it’s as though a bomb has exploded in our house. When this happens it now shows up as so intolerably stark and obvious that we just have to deal with it immediately. Therefore there is never any drama or upset. We have trained ourselves to be vigilant and not step over things that don’t work. Does this mean that we are not self expressed and tread on eggshells around each other in case we cause upset? Well no actually the opposite is true. Anyone can speak about anything at anytime without fear of it being badly received or fear of rocking the boat. I promise you that it is a glorious way of living and totally possible for you. How I know that it’s possible is that we created it like this so you can!

How do we start to have these conversations? Firstly as a couple and for ourselves we need to get clear on the impact of living our lives like this. We then need to see how intolerable and deviceive it would be if it carried on this way. You can begin to do this by sitting down with your partner and sharing from your heart how you would like things to change. However there is a danger here. A human tendency is to go to blame whenever there is a problem. You may be saying ‘well I don’t do that’ but trust me you do. It’s just a defense mechanism that can work to defend us from the world but causes havoc in our lives. Here’s a great way to overcome this natural tendency. Go to your partner with a gift. This gift is you being honest about your part in the relationship. If you are following this as a couple then take it in turns to be honest about your individual responsibility. Don’t point a finger in their direction but look at how you have been. This will open up a conversation instead of what often happens which is the blame being leveled at you/them has to be reacted to. You are then both stuck in being right and reacting to each other verses having a fruitful valuable conversation. Here are the steps I suggest that you use to being in communication with a commitment to your relationship and being honest with each other:

a) sit down somewhere private where you won’t be disturbed.
b) switch off your phones
c) don’t do anything else when you are having this conversation. Give yourself totally to it. Ok I’ll allow a cup of tea or something stronger but not too strong and don't be eating a meal.
d) make an agreement that you will both be civil and respectful in your communication. No raised voices or finger pointing. 
e) one of you will go first and the agreement is that whoever is speaking is allowed to speak without interruption. The person speaking also agrees not to dominate the conversation by speaking for too long (you can make a rule for how long) and that they agree to bring up only one area at a time.
f) now this next step may seem a little strange but I promise you that it’s essential for clear and open communication. When the person who is speaking has completed that particular conversation then the person listening repeats back exactly what the person has said without adding or subtracting anything. This can be a summary of what they have just heard- you don’t have to remember every word said but it must contain all of the points. The person who is listening must then say ‘is that it?’ or ‘is there anything that I haven’t said or understood?’ Or words that you are comfortable with but convey that you have been listening and that you now want to know if what you have heard was correct. I will expand on why this is so important in further material. 
g) It may take several sessions to get everything aired but be patient.

Ok so all of the above may take something. You probably have never spoken to each other so openly and it will require both of you to be alert to the others experience. It’s not easy to hear someone leveling criticism at you and even harder if it’s your partner. So it’s going to take something but what’s harder, living a life time of frustration, guilt and dysfunction or spending a bit of time being honest with each other? I know which I would prefare. You are going to need to stop being right about your partner and about yourself if you really want a new more open and honest relationship. Now this may go a bit wrong to begin with as this is new and you may experience an adverse reaction to the process but stick with it and I promise you that you will reap the rewards. 

In step 2 we will be looking at news ways to communicate.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

What The Baboons Can Teach Us

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4UMyTnlaMY&feature=share

This amazing short film demonstrates that it is possible to transform how we interact with each other within cultures. So move over testosterone filled alpha males your time is over! We can have a more joyful, nurturing and compassionate society. If the baboons can do it then it's completely possible for us. I'm not advocating killing off the dominate males but transforming their behaviour.