What you think is what you create!
After a Summer and Fall hiatus, I wanted to leave you with a last blog for 2018. As we leave another year behind, many of us take stock of what we’ve accomplished in the past year or start to make resolutions for the New Year. I’m not big on New Year resolutions. I prefer to focus on following a well-laid path to continuous personal growth. I’m a firm believer of what we think about is what we create. Which made me think that a different approach to New Year resolutions may be to reset the mindset. In my profession, I often discuss being in the right mindset with my clients. I think it’s relevant to dating and relationships as well.
Have you ever had a day when all seem to go to hell in a handbasket? You feel shitty; you think you’ll never be in a loving relationship, you’ll never find the one? Every New Year, some people say: “this is the year I find my life partner,” but they continue with the same old habits that keep them with the same results.
Be honest with yourself. How important is it to you to be in a conscious relationship? Do you want to be in a relationship so you are not alone, or do you want to share life with someone, collaborate, discover things, grow as individuals, and grow the relationship? Until you answer that question, you’ll find yourself doing the “same ole same ole,” getting the same results, and being frustrated with those results. Sound familiar? We have all been there.
In other words, what do you think is worth struggling for? I saw a play recently (Brave Girl), and the message that stood out for me was when one of the characters explained what her dad said to her. I am paraphrasing here: “Dad extended his left arm and with his right index he pointed to the inside of his extended arm at the elbow. Then, he said "this is Point A and then pointed to his left wrist and said this is Point B. My job is to get you to go from Point A to Point B, then, one by one, he extended the fingers from his left hand and said after that, you could choose any path you want. For now, I have to keep you on the straight and narrow”. I loved that analogy because, to me, it represents everything in life. As I reflected on the mission and goals of A Conscious Partner, it reminded me that we just give you the skills; actually, we help surface the skills you need to get you from Point A to Point B (awareness and communication skills for every relationship). The path you choose to take to build the relationship is up to you. It made me think of the importance of the right mindset. So as we are sharing information with you, today, I’d like to share an activity that may help you reset your mindset about dating and relationships and start next year in a new frame of mind.
You’ll start with two pages. One will be called “My old dating habits” the other one “My new dating practices.” Now, on the old dating habits page, I want you to make two columns, on the left side you will write down all the pleasure and benefits you gain from maintaining your old dating habits. Be honest; this is for you. For example, it could be “I don’t have to spend Saturday night alone” or “it makes me feel wanted.” You can also do this if you are in a relationship, simply substitute relationship for dating.
Did you write it all out? Okay, now, on the right side, I want you to write down all the pain and costs to your life that your old dating or relationship habits have caused. For example, it could be: “I feel anxious; it seems no matter how many dates I go on, I’ll never find the right person for me.” It could also be, for those in a relationship, “I don’t like the way we argue about little things.” Again, be really honest, exhaust this list as much as possible.
Now that you’ve taken care of the OLD habits move on to the next page, your NEW practices. For the New Practices page, on the left side think of all the pleasure your best conscious relationship could bring you, think of the joy, the sense of cooperation between you and your partner, the personal growth. So, it might be things like the feeling that you can be authentic and transparent with your partner without feeling judged. You may feel like things are easy, you share the same core values, you know how to fight fairly and use a collaborative approach when dealing with disagreements…Write down everything on the left side.
It’s time for the right side. Write out the pain and cost to your life that not changing would cause. It could be missing out on a great conscious relationship, or not knowing what it’s like to have someone have your back, for example.
This might seem simple, but that’s the beauty of it. By the way, part of you might want to skip this exercise, but I promise you this is a perfect first step in taking back control of your personal growth, your dating habits, and your relationship. You could decide not to do this exercise but remember that your mindset is at the foundation of your decisions, and introspection is one skill that can help you reset your mindset. It’s all part of letting go of the past (stuck-in-the-past.html) and developing the skills that will help you take the right path this upcoming year. Let’s stop walking blindly through life repeating the same things and expecting new results. Let’s reset our mindset to focus on what we want in life. Now, it takes practice. You will be continuously resetting your mindset to stay on track. Remember the analogy of the extended arm. If you fall off the edge, you won’t get to Point B; if you don’t get to Point B, how can you get to choose the right path for you? In other words, you need to develop the necessary skills that will take you to where you want to be.
The walk from Point A to Point B is your mindset. Focusing on what you wrote down on your New Practices page will keep you in the right mindset. If you are in the right mindset, taking the steps necessary to achieve what you want will seem natural and easy. We are here with you, every step of the way.
I wish you joy, a sense of purpose, inner peace, and self-love!
The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can
Carl R. Rogers
It is so easy to tell others what to do while not doing it ourselves. If you cannot take yourself outside of the situation and be an observer, you will not solve the problem. Every problem has a solution. You just have to find it. It may not be what you would like, but the solution is there. Stop wasting time agonizing over things that you cannot control. If it is not what you are doing that causes the issue than the burden is not on you. Right? Easier said than done!
I have found myself in situations where I knew the logical solution but didn’t heed my own advice (afraid to offend, listening to others, fearful of feeling hurt, or plainly hoping). Because with hope comes the feeling and desire that what we want can happen. Hope can also give a sense of direction. It can activate a determination to work on what needs to be done to achieve the goals we want. So, if your goal is eventually to be in a long-term relationship, put your oxygen mask on first. Do the work that needs to be done. It’s not enough to know who we are. Once we have done the work (which by the way never ends) to be conscious and aware of who we are, we have to “practice” being that person. So, show them your true colors chemistry-compatibility-and-true-colors.html
Psychologists have shown that it is hard to know who we are unless others let us know how we affect them. Yet, we want others to see us the way we see ourselves. How do you see you? Is it the best version of you? Is that version of you making others feel uncomfortable? Although you are not responsible for how others feel, it would be wise to ponder on why you make them feel uncomfortable. So, put your oxygen mask on first. Do what you need to do to be the best version of yourself. See how that version affects others. Take in what they are telling you without judgment; knowing that they have their own issues to deal with, and they should be doing the same. However, you are not responsible for how they choose to work on themselves.
There is a good reason why flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before you attend to anyone who might need assistance. If you are incapacitated by the lack of oxygen, how are you going to be able to assist others? Same with relationships. If some aspects of your situation are triggering you, how are you able to work towards a conscious relationship if you are not managing those triggers and taking care of yourself? As well, are you the eternal caregiver, listener, counselor? Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing like being there for others. However, when you are contemplating dating, dating, or just getting to know someone, be careful that you do not fall into the trap of stopping your growth and losing who you are because you are trying to help or trying to fit in. Put your oxygen mask on first. Take care of your personal growth.
Everyone comes to the table with baggage. Once you open that suitcase, inevitably stuff will fall out of it. Some of us pack lightly, and some of us sat on that suitcase to shut it close. So, the minute we open it a little bit, things start falling out.
Don’t expect the person you’re interested in or dating to pick up the pieces for you. You can unpack and put each piece where they belong or leave the stuff on the floor, scattered around the suitcase, trip over it…Is it fair to ask the other person to stand in the doorway and watch you take your time to unpack or go through the pile as you hesitate whether or not you should throw this piece out, put it where it belongs or put it back in the suitcase? You could be there all night. They can’t help you make the decision; it’s your stuff. Clean it up! Is it fair to be upset at them if they ask: “would you like me to leave while you take care of this, I don’t want to be in the way?.” They might not even ask, they might just say they’re leaving. They might also stand there, uncomfortable. Be observant, see the signs for what they are.
We’ve all heard of the saying “if one door closes, another one opens.” I prefer “if the door doesn’t open, it wasn’t your door.” Not to say the door could not open later. As I said before, there is always hope. But for now, put your oxygen mask on first. Deal with your baggage. Be kind to yourself and never stop your personal growth. You are worth it!
I love looking in the mirror and feeling good about what I see
These past few weeks, I’ve been pondering about the meaning of love. It seems everyone is chasing this elusive emotion like a dangled carrot. Some of us realize that it takes vulnerability (which is not a sign of weakness, by the way). Others, on their online profile - especially those who’ve been burned before - speak of getting back in the saddle, getting a second chance, or doing it right this time around. People profess to want to feel a spark, a connection at a deeper level. Yet, they send messages filled with platitudes like “how are you?” or full of desperation like “I have to meet you, I hope you respond, I’ll move for you.” Anything, to start a conversation that may go nowhere.
Some profess to be in search of the person who will complete them, complement their life, or who will consciously grow aside them, a life partner. Yet, my observations are that often actions and words do not match. Why the dissonance?
Is it that we truly believe what we wrote on our profile or did we write what we think others want to hear? Is it that we are projecting who we would like to be? Or do we genuinely believe we’ve done the work, we've dealt with our past and are ready to move on? Could it be that we are searching for something outside of ourselves, but we haven’t found it inside of us first? Are we so in love with the chase for love that we let real opportunities pass us by? Is it that, deep down inside, we are terrified and prefer the proverbial devil we know?... and we wonder why we have not yet met “the one”?
I don't have the answers. Everyone is different! However, I’d like to suggest that we need to accept ourselves as we are, change what does not serve us well, and more important, give ourselves the love and approval we seek from others. Perhaps then, when we least suspect it, love will find us.
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
A man who attended our last Conscious Conversation meeting on conflict wrote to me the day after the meeting. He shared that he appreciated the conversations and the work we put into making the evening interactive. He also reflected on his observations. He said: “people in the room seem to come from a place where they had failed to connect 100% in the past, have learned what they had to learn and now are ready to move forward toward meaningful connections”. He is right. It is all about connecting with others in a meaningful, conscious way. But to connect consciously, you have to be yourself or else the relationship will not last.
The thing is, often we focus on only one connection. The first one is usually the chemistry connection; the emotion you experience. Your heart races, your blood pressure rises, you MUST see the person again. It’s often linked to the physical attraction you have for the person and them for you. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to sustain us…, it fades, and then we start peeling the onion…, and little by little each layer makes us realize that the person seating across the table from us does not know us. How could they? In our attempt to extend the fog-like state, the pheromones-link euphoria, we presented an image of someone who is not our true self.
We need a stronger foundation for the relationship to last.
Like my friend Bruce explained in his blog “The coffee date, the birth of the 4-month relationship”, the coffee date gets us into a relationship long before we should, with someone we don’t know, preying on our desire not to be alone and our need for companionship. If you have not read his blog yet, do so. It's worth it!
We have to understand that Chemistry is not Compatibility.
The illusion or the perception of who we thought our partner was is not real. It’s not our partner’s fault. The image that they have of us is also not real because we have not let them see who we are and perhaps, the times that we have shown each other our true colors, we chose to ignore them because we are afraid to rock the boat.
Like Maya Angelou said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
We all know that we cannot change people, we can only change who we are. So why do we keep hoping they will change? Why do we keep pushing them to conform to the mold we created? A mold that has been shaped by our past (upbringing, former relationships, societal norms, attachment style, etc.). How is that fair?
We must connect on more than that one level to be successful in a relationship. It’s not just about having great holidays together (time on the beach is not real life), or the fact that they make you laugh. It’s also about can you stand the way they chew gum? Do you feel like you can talk to them without being judged? How do they budget their expenses? Do they know what your needs are? Do you know each other’s love languages and how to respond to them? And much more…
Find out on what level you connect with your partner or potential partner; don’t be afraid to discuss the 8 Conscious Connections one by one and see where you click. You can even make a date out of it. It does not need to be serious and complicated. However, never forget to BE YOURSELF!
“The possibilities are numerous
once we decide to act and not re-act.”
George Bernard Shaw
Do you think you’re ready for a new relationship or ready to embark on dating because you’ve been divorced for a couple of years or you’ve been separated for two or three years? The paperwork has been filed, an agreement has been signed. You’re just waiting for that certificate that says you are divorced. You think “yeah, I’m good,” then you realize that you ARE NOT.
I thought I was ready. I wanted to make new, fun memories. I wanted to meet new people. What happens is that you think you have a handle on your past life, and it will have no negative bearing on your new life. After all, the new people you’ll meet will be very different from your past. You think you’re going to move forward and not make the same mistakes. You’re wrong! Well, I can say, I was wrong. Even though you can intellectualize the fact that you should be acting differently, years of acting a certain way becomes engrained in you. So, I reverted to reacting. It’s like learning to drive standard when you’ve been driving automatic all your life. You know you have to put your foot on the clutch, you know you have to shift gears; however, your reflexes are those of someone who has been driving automatic. The switch is not easy. It takes practice.
To paraphrase Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, between stimulus and response there is a space, and, in that space, we have the ability to choose our responses and, in those responses, lie our success and happiness.
Sometimes, we must recognize that those responses are on automatic pilot and we revert to what we know. It’s not right or wrong, it just is. However, we must be aware of it. One of the 6 Conscious Principles is Recognition. We have to recognize our patterns; the behaviors that are based on our past pain and struggles. I may not have recognized certain patterns of behaviors as quickly as I did, had it not been for the person I met. He had more experience in the world of post-divorce dating and was able to show me that I had a pattern. But more importantly, I was open to receive that feedback. I saw it as a gift, not as a criticism. If we are not open to having those in-depth discussions, we are not going to grow; we are not going to move forward. Life is about growing. As they say, if we don’t grow, we die. So, think about that for a moment. Are you reacting to your new life in the way you reacted to your old life? Are you subconsciously stuck in your past?
Guilt is a rope that wears thin
Your stomach is in knots; you feel anxious, you feel shame either for something you did, something you think you did, or something you didn’t do but are thinking of doing. You might even have felt guilty because you think you could have helped someone more than you actually did or because you think you are better off than others. You may not even know which of the five reasons mentioned above is making you feel guilty, but you do know that knot in your stomach is making you uncomfortable.
At one point or another, most of us have felt guilt in our relationship. Has it happened to you? Were you able to relieve the guilt by offering a sincere, appropriate apology? (now, that’s a topic for another blog…). If you did, great! But, what about when it becomes chronic, and you constantly feel guilty? Perhaps you no longer want to be in your relationship and don’t know how to approach your partner, or you feel the relationship is going too fast and you feel trapped. It could be as simple as you not wanting to participate in an activity you partner loves. You feel bad for letting them down, but you just can’t force yourself to go to one more monster truck show or painting class.
Identifying what type of guilt you’re feeling and where it’s coming from is crucial. Otherwise, it can paralyze you or harm your ability to be authentic, try new things and, in the long run, sabotage your relationship. Now, it doesn’t mean you have to try things you do not want to do if they make you uncomfortable. You know what you like and what you don’t like. As a conscious partner committed to growth, you would have discussed these things with your partner, and they would have done the same and agreed to allow you space, to a certain extent.
You do not need to feel guilty for being who you are. Because guilt is an emotion (a negative one) and emotions are created by thoughts…change the thought, change the emotion. I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. This is the thing; your brain loves guilt! You might be surprised to know that guilt can be ADDICTIVE. Neuroscientist Alex Korb’s research showed that in the short term, guilt makes us feel good. Without going too much into the neuroscience of things, you should know that when you feel guilty, the reward centres of your brain are activated. Feeling guilty can make you feel good! No wonder, sometimes, we wallow in feeling guilty. For example, if we know something we do hurts our partner, we feel guilty about it; why do we keep doing it? Wouldn’t it make sense to stop? Or if we really want to continue doing it, and we are honest with ourselves and our partners, why do we still feel guilty?
What can you do about it?
Try to narrow down from where those negative feelings are coming. Once you realize why you feel uncomfortable and guilty, in certain situations, you will be better able to act. Korb also suggests shifting the focus to rewire your brain because the stem portion of your brain is activated by feelings of gratitude and releases the neurotransmitter dopamine (affectionately known as the feel-good hormone). The good thing about this is that you don’t even have to have something for which to be grateful. The mere fact that you are thinking/searching for something to be grateful will activate your brain. So, don't let guilt sabotage your relationship. Change your thoughts and seek gratitude!