Requirements, Walls or Just Being Controlling?

Some of the deepest work I do with clients is helping them, whether they are single or already coupled, get crystal clear on what their “requirements” are in their most intimate relationships. When we have personal values that we live our lives by, sharing our journey with someone who does not honor the same values can not only cause tons of friction, it can hurt our hearts and soul.  At the same time, being with someone who has a true respect for you and similar values can create a magical, growth filled bond.

This goes for any relationship that we engage in, whether it’s a deep love connection or a close friendship.  Being anchored in similar values is imperative for it to thrive, even as you do your own personal growth work to honor the many differences between us all. 

And there’s the rub, right? If you’re finally ready to stop tolerating poor or hurtful behavior, leave behind draining, drama filled encounters and uplevel your own personal standards, you’ve got to figure out a few things:

  • Am I internally strong enough to accept that I do, indeed, have true “requirements” of others for us to be in any kind of relationship?
  • Are the “non-negotiables” I’m considering sharing actually just walls of protection, in an attempt to keep from being hurt.
  • Is my list one that actually reflects “controlling” behavior on my part, not actual requirements that honor my values and who I am at the core?

Let’s look at an example of each so that you can get a feel for this work and maybe begin making your own, empowered list of healthy “deal-breakers!”

EXAMPLE SCENARIO

Heathy Requirement: 

“I require that people I am in relationship with have the willingness and ability to speak to me respectfully, even when they are upset, frustrated or we don’t agree on something.”

A Wall of Protection:

“I require a person prove to me unequivocally that they will never say or do anything that makes me feel bad or hurts me.”

Controlling Behavior:

“People must listen to me and honor what I say my needs are.”

Can you hear the difference between these three? We have no control over anyone but ourselves. People get to act anyway they want to act, do what they want and will perceive things through their own filters, just like we do. It’s our job to make sure we are showing up with integrity, that we understand what we “require” for us to have rich, engaging connections with others and to take a stand for those things.

Leading with strong requirements will not only begin to draw to you people you resonate with and respect, it will swiftly begin to dissolve connections that fall under the heading of entanglements, connections based on unhealthy dynamics and the ones you hang on to because you fear their judgment if you speak up for yourself.

How strong is your Personal Foundation? Are you ready to begin a “requirements” list and see where you can begin practicing in your life?

And as you’re doing this fun exercise, brace yourself, because guess what? When your list is done, the next step is to go through it and see how well YOU honor these requirements that you say you cherish, when you’re with others! It’s a fantastic way to determine your next area of growth.

Want ALL of your relationships to be meaningful connections that bring you ALIVE!?  I want that for you, too. Grab your journal, start your list and see where you need to personally grow. I’m here if you need help or support. 

Let’s add to the consciousness of our world by starting right where we are. 

Big love to you all~

Barb

Are You Worth It?

I was asked a fascinating question last night.

A colleague and I had been talking about all the different reasons clients hire me, what kind of referrals I get, and if there was a common “issue” that had an individual pull the trigger on hiring me for the next 6-12 months as their personal Coach.

She asked, “If the majority of us have never learned what it truly takes to have a successful relationship and are in some kind of pain, why do certain individuals hire you immediately and why do others wait or walk away?”

Why indeed?

As we continued the conversation, we shared stories about where, in the past, we had both avoided taking action in our lives around relationship challenges and what the catalyst was for us eventually laying down cold hard cash for help.

My colleague said she had been a horrible dater and finally found a guy who was “better than any of the others.”  This was the same mentality when she decided they ought to go ahead and get married. Needless to say she didn’t have any real solid relationship skills, the thing started to “tank” within the first 2 years and then she spent…….ready for it?.........12 more years wondering if she should “stay or go.” She didn’t know what to do different, how to fix things or whether the problem was him or actually her.

And funny thing? She had more than one opportunity to hire an experienced Coach during this time and kept avoiding the investment. She continued to spend money on everything else – her car, a gym membership, new spring clothes, travel and a zillion self-help books, but not on getting out of relationship pain.

Her reasons at the time?

*She kept telling herself she should be able to figure it out

*She would start imagining a different life, then remember how much she had hated dating

 *It seemed kind of silly to financially invest in someone helping her figure out her marriage (read number 1!)

 *Taking such a powerful first step would mean she had to look at herself and be ready for real change and that scared her

For me? It was a bit more black and white than that. 

My early life had been filled with chaos, turmoil, confusion and unpredictability.  Every decision I made was in “reaction” to something.  I had been taught to “keep quiet”, “figure it out” and that getting help or support was showing the worst kind of “weakness.” This made it simple for me – shut up, assess what needs to happen to stay safe, on top of things and “right” and don’t let them see you sweat.

No intentional change can come from this kind of mindset, so it took a rock bottom and landing in therapy to open up that wonderous door. And once it was opened, I can honestly say that as a “growth minded” person, it’s been easy for me to hire whoever I need to hire in ANY area of my life so that I don’t struggle needlessly!

Are you are a “fixed mindset” kind of person or a “growth mindset” one?

Do you go through life believing for the most part that you are who you are, that your intelligence and talents are fixed and avoid challenge and failure? Or do you fall in the category of what is called a “growth mindset”, where you see yourself as a work in progress and believe in growth, change and opportunity?

How does investing in a Coaching partnership that could help you make positive, lasting change in your life feel, when you think about it?  Exciting or like a waste of money?

As a relationship expert, I’m curious whether you are staying stuck, allowing your dating/loving/marriage to become stagnant, confusing and painful in any of these ways right now?

*Are you tolerating behaviors in your long term relationship that suck the life out of you regularly?

*Do you entertain on a regular basis whether you should stay or go?

*Are you losing inspiration and motivation at work, in regards to your social life or just in general as a result of the constant energy drain with your partner?

*How often do you feel a tinge of excitement around the possibility of meeting someone new, then freeze and stay stuck at the thought of dating with no real new skills?

What would it be worth to you, to not be in this same place by the end of the year? Are you at the point where you are beginning to see that the financial investment could change your whole life for the better?  Do you know how many thousands of dollars you’ll end up spending on a divorce?  Can you imagine how much more creative, productive and attractive you’d be to all that is trying to come into your life, if you weren’t blocking it by staying stuck?

This is not a sales pitch. 

It’s a heart call. 

There are a few of you out there that need to hear this and stop wasting precious time, so that you get into action now.  I learned how important it was to get great support from experts in my 30’s.  If I could have understood that sooner, it would have changed so many things back then. I would love to help you take what feels like a risk and catapult you into a brilliant new life where you feel ease and freedom and a sense of true inner peace.

I’m here if you’re ready. If not, I’ll hold sacred space for you until you are. This is one big beautiful life and my desire is that you enjoy every single minute of it to the fullest!

You’re worth the investment!

Big love to you all~

Barb

 

 

 

 

Ways to Consciously Mature Your Love

years of love have been forgot.jpg

One of the things most couples will assure you of, in any long term committed relationship or marriage, is that there will be ups and downs. Times where it’s nothing but smooth sailing and times when you wake up, look at the person lying next to you and think, “I don’t even like you, let alone feel love.”

While you’ve heard me speak endlessly on how imperative it is to keep the emotional connection strong for a relationship to flourish, there are certainly other things that easily add to a solid bond and being a team or hurt it immensely.

In Poe’s quote, “Years of love have been forgot, in the hatred of a minute”, I’m reminded of countless individuals I’ve talked to over the years who went from having a deep satisfaction and love for their partner, to being ready to throw in the towel over a comment, situation or event.  And no, I’m not kidding.

There’s something about us human beings that has us not only remember the slights, hurts or transgressions caused by a partner, but leaves us putting much more weight to them, then a list a mile long of all the loving, caring, wild expressions of devotion and love that have taken place over the years.

While I understand that our egos love to protect us, believing it is helping keep us safe by “remembering” what could happen to us again, the sad truth is that we honestly don’t need this kind of protection that our reptilian brains tell us we need.  Holding on to wounding so that we forget all the good that takes place every day works against the strong, loving connection needed to sustain a long term relationship!

So, what’s worth letting go of and what’s worth taking seriously enough that you keep the topic at the forefront, working toward resolution or new agreements?

Lovingly Let Go of:

  • The snarky comment about your best friend being kind of a “lush”
  • The Xmas vacuum you received while you watched your sister-in-law open that sexy nightie from her hubster
  • The comment, thrown out in anger about how selfish you can be sometimes
  • The fact that you found out your partner did, indeed, have one last goodbye conversation with his/her ex when he/she said they didn’t
  • The realization that your partner is never going to consider moving to California when he/she said they would love to, the first year of your marriage

Bravely Address Head-on:

  • If you see that your partner / spouse has been sexting or texting intimate things to another person
  • When there are signs of sneak drinking or consistent alcohol / substance abuse, even when they say “It’s no big deal, I’m fine!”
  • Any consistent lies, even small “white” ones that begin tearing at the fabric of trust in your relationship
  • Derogatory, mean-spirited, hurtful attacks or accusations
  • An affair that has been found out or taken place, regardless of whether your partner/spouse says “We don’t need to talk about it, it’s over.”
  • Consistent disengagement in the relationship, whether it’s with the necessary day to day activities,  with the kids, socially, or by withdrawing sexually

Our quote, “Years of love have been forgot, in the hatred of a minute”, asks us to look hard at all the good created in a love relationship and set aside anger that rises up in reaction to something dumb being said or done.  We’re human, we make mistakes and we will end up hurting each other at times.  A sign of real maturity is when we are able and willing to let things go quickly and move on, holding tightly to all that is “right” between you.

Another sign of maturity, though, is having the confidence to address head on anything that feels out of alignment with a healthy, loving connection. Being in a love relationship requires the ability to speak up when it’s necessary, not stick your head in the sand and committing to addressing issues of importance as close to the moment as possible - regardless of whether those conversations are welcomed at the time or not.

This is mature love. This is how we continue with our own personal work of “waking up” and this, my friends, is one of the ways we transform our mediocre relationships into rich, vibrant heart connections!

Big love to you all~

Barb

Travel Poems to Inspire You!

I hope these well-known travel poems inspire you to get out into our big, wondrous world and do some exploring. 

I’m a firm believer that travel changes us in profound ways.  The excitement and life experiences that happen when we travel are unlike anything else. Getting out into the world broadens our perspective, helps us practice “rolling” with things and being in the present moment.  It’s also one of the quickest ways to shift from valuing “things” to appreciating meaningful connection and our oneness with others.

I’d love to read your own travel poems, if you’d be willing to share them here!  We are all journeying here together -  may your travels, whether around your neighborhood or across the ocean remind you to grab a hand and a heart every chance you get, everywhere you land.

Enjoy!

Big love to you all,

Barb

Song of Myself (46, lines 1210-1214)

Not I, not anyone else can travel that road for you,

You must travel it for yourself.

It is not far, it is within reach,

Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,

Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

 

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

 

The Farewell (from The Prophet)

We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way,

begin no day where we have ended

another day; and no sunrise finds us where

sunset left us.

Even while the earth sleeps we travel.

We are the seeds of the tenacious plant,

and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of

heart that we are given to the wind and are

scattered.

Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Lucy, You Got Some ‘Spaining to Do!”

desi and lucy.jpg

Most of us have laughed until our sides hurt at the old reruns of the “I Love Lucy” show. Besides the famous candy factory episode, one of the classic lines we all remember was Desi shouting out “Lucy, you got some ‘spaining to do!” whenever things went haywire!

A couple of years ago I threw all my things in storage and hung out Coaching in New Mexico for half of the year with my BFF.  She and I got in the habit of randomly shouting that line at each other from another room just to see if we could get the other to start laughing uncontrollably.  Yes, we’re dorks.

Which made me think this last week, after 3 separate Coaching conversations had me suggesting “say No easily and explain less”, how deeply ingrained it is in our society to explain, explain, explain.

We explain and explain and explain why we made the decision we did.

We explain and explain and explain, once again, why we just CAN’T do this thing we’re being asked to do.

We explain and over and over what we are thinking / considering / pondering.

In my experience, all this “over explaining” usually comes from two things;   either a person doesn’t feel confident about their decision making skills and so repeats themselves over and over in the hopes of feeling like it was a good decision, or they are very attached to the approval of others and are explaining themselves to death in the hopes that the person on the receiving end will understand, see it the same way and agree.  (meaning, be happy with them and their choice)

Maturity requires that we finally get comfortable with both of those things – trusting ourselves to make good decisions that are in our own best interest and letting go of the opinion of others.  And yes, this is usually a pretty uncomfortable journey and takes some practice! 

It begins with making a commitment to begin setting boundaries, in general,  and then moves to being able to set them with more ease, confidence and fewer words.

Shall we have some fun and practice a bit?

Here goes:

Q – “Can you host the big family reunion in the park this year?  You’re SO good at that kind of thing and I’m not.”

A – with ‘spaining – “Oh, gosh……I really don’t even like most of these people and each time someone has ended up getting in a fighting with all the drinking.  I promised myself I’d not attend these any more. I guess everyone would be upset if we just didn’t do it, right?  I’m so busy that I don’t know how I’d fit it in.  My husband would kill me if I took this on, too.  What would happen if we didn’t have it this year?  If I did do it, you’d have to really, really promise to  help me.  There was this one game I thought would be fun for everyone but it would require a ton of prep work.  Ugh.  I hate even considering this but I guess I’d better look at a date now.”

-OR-

A – “I haven’t enjoyed any of these events and am not willing to put it on my calendar this year.  We’ve got some fun things planned that I’m truly looking forward to this summer.”

Q – “I need you to take on a new project this quarter because you’re the one the client want’s on it and we agreed.”

A – with ‘spaining – “Well, uh, I’m so busy right now with my own work and this additional project I agreed to last month, but……don’t you think the client would be Ok with Mike?  I mean, I really appreciate that they want to work with me and everything.  And I also appreciate that you think I’m the one to do the job.  I’m just so busy.  I’ve been working until almost 10pm every night since I took on this other project, too.  I’m mean, I’m not saying I won’t, but is there someone else they might also be willing to work with?  I guess I could do it.  Could Betty maybe help me, too?  Oh she’s crazy busy, also. Well, Ok.  I need to get this report out by tonight but maybe we could stay late tomorrow and you could give me everything I need to get started?”

-OR-

A – “That kind of additional project won’t fit with my current schedule as I also agreed to add in _____ this quarter.  Would you like some help brainstorming who might be a good fit for this?”

Q – “I’m so angry that I do the majority of the work for the guests we have over and you just act like it’s so easy to entertain! I’m always exhausted and you seem to enjoy yourself!”

A – with ‘spaining – “OMG.  Are you kidding me?  You never ask me about having people over, then you spring it on me and assume I’ll be available to spend any time necessary doing all this prep work, just to see friends!  They’re our friends – they don’t care that you made that sauce from scratch or that it took you 2 hours to put the centerpiece together.  Why can’t it ever be easy?  I’d love to throw something on the BBQ, make a salad and call it good.  It would be fine.  What are you trying to prove?  I know our friends aren’t impressed when you’re so stressed that you can’t enjoy their company or they come in and see us fighting.”

-OR-

A – “Honey, I love having our friends over and don’t mind helping with an elaborate party once or twice a year.  But I’m not willing to spend my days off getting ready for guests all the time.  I’m happy to work together to have simple get-togethers, but if you want to go overboard, you’ll need to take that on yourself.”  

Get it?  Saying “no” easily and being willing to do it with more confidence and less explaining.  Not only is this good for you, its fabulous modeling for everyone around you. 

Just remember – setting boundaries, even with a calm voice and direct approach will not necessarily be received the first few times around with joy and excitement!  We teach people how to treat us and you’ll need to “unteach” people for a while, by sticking to your guns and still being kind.

You can do it.  There’s great freedom on the other side!

Big love to all of you~!

Barb

 

My Personal Screw-up List for the Viewing

One of the delights of my Coaching practice is currently having 3 clients who are under the age of 24. It is mind boggling to witness these bright, talented young men and women begin to build such a strong personal foundation in their lives, that they can hold to a personal honor code and already push past fear and set strong boundaries when needed.

Almost every client of mine over 40 remarks at some point during our work, “What would my life have been like, had I known these things at a young age? These life skills and intimacy tools would have changed everything.”

I know. 

I know because I screwed it up for so long myself, all the way into my 30’s, until I landed in therapy and started on a long, uphill journey toward healing and waking up.

My new client asked me yesterday at the end of our call, “Did you make any of these stupid mistakes I’ve been making when you were my age, Barb?”

How much time do you have?

We all do.

Including me. And your parents. Your teachers. Also the person you idolize. Your mentor. That authority figure you look up to. Your minister. The million dollar Life Coach who’s speaking to you in a group of hundreds.

We’re human beings who “do better” when we “know better.” 

My list? Let me throw out a few that quickly come to mind including some little mistakes and a couple of horrible, life changing ones:

  • Lying constantly from an early age to not upset “the alcoholic”, but continuing that into my 20’s so I could do whatever I wanted to do.
  • Trying to hold an image up and impress everyone in my life – my boss, my husband, my friends, my parents and even my therapist when I first landed in her office.

  • Stealing things up until I was in my early 20’s. This is really hard to share. Supposedly there’s a link to the abuse I endured but I still feel the threads of embarrassment, to this day.

  • Saying “Yes” to almost everything that I actually wanted to say “No” to, so that people wouldn’t be upset with me.

  • Having an affair. You think #3 is hard to admit? This one changed my life. Thank God it landed me at rock bottom and threw me into therapy, which opened doors to a whole new way of living life. But it caused another person excruciating pain.

  • Dating the wrong people for the wrong reasons, marrying when I had no real skills or tools and participating in needless dramas over and over as a result.

Even today, after all this time, it feels incredibly vulnerable to share these things. I thought twice about deleting this and writing something less personal. My client’s innocent question reminded me that it’s so easy to look at people who are successful and making a difference in the world and believe that they’ve always had their #$@% together or that it’s been “smooth sailing” all the time.

My point in sharing? 

Every person has a story. Any individual who’s out living life is going to be making tons of mistakes, doing dumb things and causing themselves and others pain.  What matters is whether you’ve hit the point in your life that you’re open to real change, doing things different and can commit to the important “course correcting” necessary to begin creating a life that adds more healing, kindness and meaningful connection into our world.

The reason I’m an “expert”, kickass Relationship Coach and can take you swiftly through these challenges to a place of higher ground?

Because I screwed it up so badly in the past.

I’m reaching back to help pull you forward.  It’s an honor and my passion. Take my hand, or anyone else’s who’s stretching it out toward you with love and an open heart.

You can do this. 

Big tender love to you all~ 

Barb

 

 

 

 

Scenes From The Bedroom

Let’s have a little fun this week and dive into the hot topic of “sex”, shall we?

One of the biggest complaints I hear from individuals in any kind of long term, committed relationship is that they are having issues around their sex life.  It can be any number of things, but seems to center mainly around both the “quantity” and “quality” of it!  It can sound like this:

“Everything is great in our relationship except for the fact we can’t find time for sex anymore.”
 “Things are really stressful in our relationship and the first thing that flew out the window was sex.”
“Our sex life is waning and honestly, because it’s gotten so boring, I’m just not interested.”
“I’m not willing to have sex when we seem to have no other connection right now.”

Then, there’s this being said also, by SO many women:

“I love him, but I could care less about ever having a sexual relationship with him again.”
“Now that I’m going through menopause (before/after/hormones) I have ZERO interest in having sex.”
“I can’t stand going through the motions anymore.  It’s the same old thing over and over and I’m just not interested!”
“Why can’t my partner understand that I need to feel “turned on” before I want to have sex!?

If you and your partner are in the throes of this, you know how frustrating it can be for both of you.  If not, odds are that you will come up against one of these challenges if you remain in the relationship for any length of time.

Why? Because remaining intrigued, sexually excited, fascinated with your partner and full of lusty thoughts naturally calms down and can easy dissolve completely as the heat of passion fizzles and everyday life takes over.

If you’re cringing or thinking “that will never happen to us”,  just consider how “newness” brings an initial intensity to everything in our lives. The new internship, the new car, the new hobby, the new date………..part of the thrill is that our brain is firing in a different way and we are amped up by feelings of intrigue, the unknown and even an excitement at taking “risks” that actually turn us on.  So, if this is inevitable and you are wondering if there is any good news here, I can assure you there is!

Sex does not equal true intimacy.  Sex is an act and does not necessarily come with love or connection. True intimacy is:  In – To – Me – See and requires a commitment to vulnerability.

If you plan to be in a beautiful, long term relationship the goal has to be that of moving toward a deep, solid, intimate connection in which safety and trust are established.  When this becomes the focus and a commitment is made to grow those areas and keep them strong, guess what also remains strong? 

The emotional connection.

And guess what happens when the emotional connection remains strong? In other words, that sense of being “bonded”, “a team”, the feeling that “I have your back and you have mine?”

Yep. The warm, delightful emotional connection spills right over into physical desire. When we feel bonded in love and safety and trust with our partner, our whole body leans in to that person. We want to give as much as receive. We listen better, which opens doors to creating a richer, more interesting sex life if boredom has begun to set in!  We want happiness for our partner, so we easily look for ways to meet their needs, in addition to our own.

And most important, we are reminded when emotionally connected, that this “Yes!” that was shouted quite a while ago was to the “whole” thing……..to the adventure and excitement and to the personal responsibility involved in sharing your life with this person you love.  

A whole, beautiful loving relationship includes and requires remaining connected in every area – emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. When we rise to the occasion and bring our best self to each of those areas, again and again, our most intimate relationships become a sweet dance of depth, maturity and real, lasting Love.

May this be so for each of you~ 

Big love, Barb