Recap of this week’s Relationship Circle – Let’s ARGUE

We argue. We have different opinions, beliefs, ways of seeing things, different tolerances and sometimes we argue over these things. The difference between an argument and a disagreement is the emotion and the behavior. Most of us notice patterns in how we argue, what we argue over and how they end up. Few of us truly enjoy being in arguments and many of us leave arguments creating judgments, making decisions about each other and holding things on each other. Relationships end from this, some never get off the ground and life-long resentments and discomfort between people can be formed.

What we were playing for last night was a big game, getting to the point where we can use arguments as access to getting “the real me” out in the world and discarding old reactions that are meant to protect us but in the end limit the possibilities of our lives.

So, last night, about 18 of us got together to talk about arguing. Here are some of the things we saw:

Our tolerance, more accurately lack of, is what starts an argument. Because we react to something, either our partner’s behavior or opinion or their tone. Once we see the trigger that we are waiting for, we are in an emotional mode, where we have a goal in mind (usually escape or neutralization/dominance) and we relate to our partner as an enemy, consciously or not.

We can create agreements with partners where we both understand that what happens in arguments are not representations of the best of us, that they can be wild and that they just may need to come out. If you make an agreement like this, you’ll be practicing handling extreme situations, which will help you in all parts of life. More about that further down the page. Other agreements we can make can include stopping conversations when we know we are about to get emotional. This is great practice at not making our emotions right, we can start to relate to them as

    just happening

. They may be happening, but that doesn’t mean they are right (or wrong, for that matter). Getting someone to go along with this rule can be rocky, because you will be “taking away” your partner’s (and you own) opportunity to get his/her needs met. Being angry, reactive, etc. is ultimately selfish. We are taking care of ourselves at the expense of another, as long as they are not in agreement with us to allow us to get our needs met in that way.

We can actually increase our tolerance and in the process, present no pushback to our partner, which diffuses arguments and contributes to our partner feeling heard. Life calms down.

Feeling heard is a powerful diffuser.

    Telling someone you hear them is not hearing them

. When you truly understand or hear someone, the partner feels heard. This what you’re going for. It’s a higher bar and requires zero opposition coming from you. Hearing someone does not mean you have to agree with them, but here is the important part, you have no longer related to your partner’s belief or opinion as threatening to you. They are entitled to their point of view, to how the world occurs to them and that their belief exists no longer does anything to us and from there, we are no longer threatening to them. Understanding someone never puts you at risk. It is completely different from being passive or not doing anything about something you want to change.

When we argue, the emotional memories of past arguments shows up in the moment. They show up in strong feelings, like wanting to cry or dominate or hide or injure. They show up in body sensations, like tightness in the chest or an ache in the stomach or tension in our temples (or however it shows up for you). We’re dealing with A LOT of internal stimulus when we’re in arguments. What we normally say or think is that our partner is doing something to us. This is not true. Everything that is happening is generated by

    your body

. Knowing that this is happening to us and to the person we are in an argument with can create a lot of empathy. When we recognize this, we can get outside of the argument and the emotions showing up make much more sense and appear much less personal and threatening. What is happening is being created by our past, our hormones and our nervous system. It’s a big show! Once we can start seeing that, we can learn to not identify with the experience and start to simply have it, we can willfully get on the ride with our body. It’s like the 4th of July in there!

Being with what’s so, loving what is (as Byron Katie says it) is a key to fundamentally transform relationships and ourselves. When we can be with what’s so, we can see what our partner is up to without reacting to it, we can understand what is happening to ourselves without getting caught up in it and losing control, we can start to see the gold in what people say or want beneath their tone, their own reactivity. When you can see deeply enough, you can see the beauty in another human being, especially when their highly reactive.

What we are not talking about is suppressing. Suppressing is another word for suffering. When we suppress, we are left unsatisfied. When we experience, we eventually see a powerful opening while allowing feelings and body sensations wash over us or even while acting out. But even if you are acting out, some awareness can develop, where we start to see the separation between our behavior and ourselves. If you’d like to practice this, when you are in a reactive mode, ask yourself, “am I still here?” You’ll begin to feel a separation between your reaction that is happening and yourself, which is calm, powerful and at peace even within the reaction that is occurring. The more you practice, the more the volume on our reaction quiets down and the more the volume increases on who you really are and that’s what we’re REALLY up to here, getting the real you out there, living in the world having given up on hiding away behind our reactions that are designed to protect us.

In the end, the work I share is meant to TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE, not just give you a few tips on how to more effectively handle situations. This is no easy game. The approach requires a willingness to become a master, like you are training in the martial arts or translating your soul through art. This is no temporary cure, it’s a process and a way of life.

Thank you! Practice and share with me (and everyone if you’d like!) how your practice is going. I’d love to hear from you.


This Week’s Relationship Circle – Starting Over

Do we ever really start over, after a fight with our partner, after a break-up, after getting our feelings hurt?

We think we do, but how much of that last incident and all other incidents that have happened to us in our relationships (mommy, daddy, authority figures, past loves) are we carrying around with us? Is there ever a true reset, where we give ourselves cleanly and openly to the next person who comes into our lives?

We want to, but most of us don’t see how much of the disempowering parts of our past that we are “gifting” to the next boss, the next romantic partner. We relate to ourselves as formerly hurt, as the victim, and unconsciously look for someone to heal us, to “complete” us. Like the line in Jerry Maguire, the idea of another completing us can be romantic, it can feel euphoric, like the right person will take all our hurt away, but this is not the case.

Our natural state is on guard, leery of the next person to resemble the threats of our past and we are looking out for anything that carries even a whiff of resemblance. Eventually, we will find what we are looking for. From then forward, our relationship partner is moving closer and closer to threat status. This can take so much life out of our relationships, so much time and energy and when we fill the space of our relationships with fear based energy, love seems to get scarce.

We’re normally reacting to this pattern in our partners, so they’re reacting o the pattern in us, and on and on.

OK, enough of the gloom and doom, because in actuality this blog post is about getting more out of and freely contributing more to our relationships than ever before. At the last circle, I asked what the experience of our relationships would be if we didn’t have to be on our guard any more, if we were living beyond our former threats to love, relationship and our feelings. The response was that we would feel like a child. Bingo!

Beyond our past hurts lies our freedom, our chance at providing unconditional love, our life beyond feeling like we need to have such a heightened concern for our own emotional well-being. In other words, freedom, and resiliency without even trying. If someone gave you this gift, if this is who your partner was being with you, what would that bring to the relationship?

This is my suggestion,that you be the gift, that you take responsibility for learning how to live beyond your past hurts. Once you give this gift, you will be training your partner, your boss to let go of their own, over time, and a spaciousness, where joy, love, camaraderie, partnership and intimacy can truly grow. This is the true source material for starting over.

And as I know people love to sit in the “how” department of Target, I’ll put a few items on the shelves.

This is my favorite article on understanding the physiology of our own reactions in relationships. I’ve shared it with everyone I know:

Second, practice acknowledging all of your reactions. Get in the habit of knowing when they are happening and get out of the habit of making them right. By all means, get out of the way of oncoming buses, but when you notice an emotion when your mother’s number flashes on your caller ID, just admire the reaction, acknowledge the powerful body sensations and the thoughts that race through your mind and start practicing dis-identification with the reaction. These thoughts ARE HAPPENING, these feelings ARE PRESENT, and they are not YOU. Over time, you won’t take your own reactions so seriously and personally. It will cease to be his or her fault for making you feel a certain way. The engine is inside of YOU, you created how it feels right now and you can also allow it to pass. When it does, you’ll have more of your heart, intellect, compassion and love available for yourself and everyone else.

Next, try just walking away. Sometimes our reactions are so strong, we just can’t help but say or do some pretty ill-advised things. I learned this one from my mother. When I was a kid, my mom would get upset at some of the frustrating things I would do and she just took herself away until she could give me the version of her that she really wanted for our relationship. This was a gift because she explained it and took responsibility. She said she was doing that for me, not because of me.

Another suggestion is completion work. Completion is a process you undertake with ontological coaches who are specially trained for the work. The goal of completion is to leave the client with no energy that disempowers him/her in an area of life. It’s a process because completion is basically infinite. As we take our completion deeper and deeper, more of the essence of who we are comes out and our fears and automatic ways of being (fight, withdraw, injure, avoid, looking for sympathy and agreement as an unconscious need, etc.) start to disappear. We can handle life more powerfully.

Feel free to contact me about completion work and any other questions you have as you live and learn in your relationships.

This Week’s Relationship Circle – Getting Related

Review of this week’s Relationship Circle (names withheld):

I love you people. All of you, ______ the superstar, Gregg the sensei, ________ with the great smile, _________ with the heart like a forest, everybody there, individually and collectively you guys are awesome. I felt this the very first time I came to this meetup, I felt deep love for all of you, and I want to thank each of you for taking the time to open up and allow people to get to know you for the two or three hours we’re at Café Asia! WE ARE FREAKING AWESOME.

Mission Accomplished, huh?

Getting related is not as simple as you might think. First of all, it’s infinite. You can be infinitely related to another human being, so there’s no end to the layers of separation that can be peeled off. And what’s the payoff of peeling off these layers? Freedom, from fear, from the endless work of protecting ourselves, the possibility of deep surrender to unity, to share ourselves fully, to be known, to feel loved.

For most of us, giving someone the experience of being related to, or instructing someone else how to give you an experience of being related to is more accessible. The instructions are easy to remember and can be somewhat challenging to execute. Listen without judgment. Be with the person, as present as possible, while letting them be exactly as they are. When you apply this generously, people transform. They calm down and feel safe enough to look at themselves, because you are no longer a threat. Your point of view and getting related rarely can coexist in the same space powerfully.

Trained coaches and some other helping professionals can pierce through a person’s protection and get related right to another person’s heart. This can be a shocking and powerful experience. It’s like emotional open heart surgery, but the possibility it creates, the opportunity available for relating beyond fear can source powerful breakthroughs. Fear is the reason we are not related and love can scare (get right to our vulnerable spot) while being more powerful than fear.

Don’t try this at home, kids, because our upset or disappointment with another, which is often the impetus for wanting to break through someone’s protection, will wind up giving them a better reason to fortify that protection.

Keep practicing relating and getting related to others. You’ll see the benefits.