Completing Ourselves

completemeI used to see no truth in “You complete me.”

Of course, I’ve had many moments of completion with people. Moments where I felt no fear, no pain, where my anxiety ceased, where the presence of something internal or external seemed to make everything all right and even have me experience myself as perfect how I am and how I may not be. In the movie, I read the phrase as final. As if now, in this moment, all is right now and will be right forever because of you.

Fairy tale. Just thinking about that movie and that scene used to make me abdominally uncomfortable. And maybe that’s because I got it wrong.

Perhaps in the light of recent events, of instance after instance of violence, of unimaginable pain inflicted on each other, the cost of incompletion has struck me so starkly and had me see the value of being complete, whether it is for a moment or a lifetime as a powerful message for us instead of just stopping at what I saw as the fallacy of the moment in the film.

It’s hard for me to look at school shootings, terrorism, premeditated violence, fundamentalism or beliefs of any sort that marginalize other human beings – as coming from someplace other than incompletion. A sense of disconnection, of being unreachable and temporarily or terminally less than whole. That they and/or we seem ungettable, distant, lost, worthless, sources of pain and ultimately expendable.

This isn’t meant to excuse anything anyone does from suffering in an incomplete state. I just mean to share how profound, how essential and how extraordinary completion has begun to occur to me. Perhaps it really saves lives.

We do have the power to draw completion from each other, to feel heard, known and to have the energy drawn to us that calms us, that relaxes the fear and has us return to ourselves again. It can happen through stories, symbols, songs, touch, substances, short-term sexual relationships, the sharing of ideas, a familiar meal and some things I care not to mention. Some of these solutions are extraordinarily temporary and even harmful, others can be expansive and healing. Conscious completion is an experiment in sustainability, but we crave completion so much that we take on all kinds of things to try to get there.

Whatever we utilize, it needs to be surrendered to for it to work or be so powerful that we are defenseless against it. We need to get ourselves past our own protection to allow completion. We wind up waiting to validate these entry points until they overwhelm us with their beauty, intoxicating qualities, convincing logic, whatever it is that helps us raise the bar of the tollbooth and allow it in, that force that we let come inside our fragile selves, before completion can occur.

Of course a kind, lovely, impressive, ever-expanding and new relationship can complete us for a moment or a stretch of time. It can make a fantastic case, but if we knew how valuable completion was, we’d lower the bar to entry and prioritize how essential it is to return to being ourselves again and again and again.

I also think we’d wind up being less susceptible to the empty promises of our fellow disaffected human beings and their invitations to the more unhealthy solutions they promote i.e. anything that looks like more separation and the villainization of other human beings. We might even get clear on what it takes to stay there and teach it to each other from an early age. That sounds like real empowerment to me and a source for greater peace, acceptance, love, happiness and cooperation amongst us.

What gets you complete? What might it mean to you if you prioritized getting complete and were successful at it?

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Maybe Marriage Takes a Village, Too

community
Maybe it takes a village to support a marriage, too.

The things couples go through, successes, failures, money issues, grief, aging, health, changing as human beings, being hit with reality all the time and realizing how much we don’t yet know.

The more years I’m married and the more years I support my loved ones, friends and clients in theirs, I realize our marriages themselves benefit so much from being loved collectively.

It’s great to have people that love us individually, but when we have people that love our marriage, in a nurturing way, beyond judgment, people that can relate to our challenges and us as human beings who are trying our best and learning, we can make so much out of it. We can create a culture around marriage as an incomparable learning opportunity that benefits from collective wisdom and support. We can take it easier on ourselves and lean on each other. No couple has it all covered on their own.

It takes a willingness, too. Admitting challenges in our marriages can be embarrassing, because we publicly declared our love for our spouse, because we don’t want to admit that we don’t know what to do, because we can bristle against receiving help because we want to hold up a pretty picture.

We need to let go of the fairy tale as a marketing tactic for selling marriage. A wedding, sure, but not a marriage. Perhaps a more apt definition of marriage is a lovingly entered joint commitment to  evolution. We use shared goals and the experiences along the way as we share our lives to help spark this evolution, to shape it.

I think the best part about my marriage 14 years in, is the growth, the learning and giving it to each other as a gift, finding ourselves in new places as new people because we needed to evolve and used the commitment to each other to hold the process. I’ve needed to learn so much about myself in trying to become a truly worthy partner and there’s much more to go.

I think of all of the forgiveness I ask for when I learn what I needed to learn. Humbling. Some of that learning is truly challenging, but I couldn’t be any more grateful for earning it, for who I realized I can be, for the commitment and for the woman in my life who gives me the reason and the person to share it with.

I thank those who were willing to speak to me, to be my teachers, to be my friend and to sometimes just listen for helping me get here and who I know I can count on for what’s yet to come.

Are You Really Welcome Here?

armsfoldedREALLY wanting someone to understand something, especially when you think it’s for their own benefit, has nothing to do with them getting it. In the end, how much you want them to get it is what may impact them the most and usually puts our (work, family, friend, romantic) partners in defense, reaction and protection.

The willingness of your conversation partner is the most valuable currency there is in relating to each other. Cultivate it wisely and know when it hasn’t been offered to you.

Sometimes there is no in door. Knowing how to love and take care of ourselves when the door we want to be open is closed can be the most valuable currency for our own well-being and finally takes the pressure off the other person to take care of you by letting you in.

Brian Williams and Accountability

BWillCoach Talk – Accountability

Stop moaning about Brian Williams’ suspension. He lied and he is appropriately being held accountable so he can come back stronger. It will be his choice whether he takes that opportunity and makes the most out of the learning available here.

I was watching the #1 college basketball team in the country last night, the now 24-0 Kentucky Wildcats when another moment of accountability showed up. A star freshmen player, Karl-Anthony Towns, was called for a technical foul for doing a chin up on the rim in a tight, conference game on the road. Coach Calipari took him out of the game and made it very clear how much of an offense this is to the team and the mission and the potential costs. If you were watching at home, the way the coach addressed the situation might make you cringe and think that’s too much for an 18 year old kid on a big stage. That he just made an honest and understandable mistake.

CalTownsLike clockwork, LSU scored 16 straight points and Kentucky was losing, late, its perfect record in serious jeopardy.

Towns didn’t pout, he learned. He went back into the game and made some absolutely key plays on the way to Kentucky winning. After the game, he showed his youth, by photobombing his coach during the post-game interview, but he also showed his maturity when he was being interviewed himself. He was asked about the run-in with his coach and Towns said something like “that’s coach Cal, he only wants all of us to get better.”

NBC wants Brian Williams to get better and he needs to. Let him sit on the bench and learn and come back stronger, too. Hopefully, he has as much support as Coach Cal provides and as much maturity as 18 year old Karl-Anthony Towns.

Last Night at The Relationship Circle​

relcirclePeople were funny, committed, vulnerable, supportive, honest, open, kind and brilliant while we created a temporary community of 12 people and took our own lives on.  We were willing to see the inner workings of how we operate and the possible futures we may not be prioritizing for the sake of somewhat satisfying and seductive habits that lead to predictable results in our lives.

We created uncommon experiences, powerful conversations and commitments for people to choose a path that leads us out of our comfort zones, a commitment to courage for the sake of the lives we want to live, the growth we want to see in ourselves.  That’s a great context in which to get to know people.  I really LOVED how so many people played the game last night.

Leading a transformational group for three years has been so helpful to me, too.  Working towards being who I want to be for the people that show up has been a great incentive for my own growth.  It really struck me that last night my emotions really stayed out of the conversation, at least the ones that would normally keep me from having the kind of perspective that actually can serve people.

Last month at my Advanced Circle, I called myself out there for holding a judgment about someone’s participation (I got stuck relating to her as uncooperative).  An embarrassing experience for a facilitator, but making the decision to own my reaction helped me show up way more open and loving and able last night.  So grateful to have this space.

Obedience Can Be Dangerous

reprimand

I was at a potluck dinner for the parents of kids in Marcus’ class this Friday night. I met the father of this very intelligent girl who is a bit of a chatterbox and doesn’t sit still well, but who is so lovely, so curious, so wonderful, so clearly well-equipped to succeed as well. Her father mainly wanted to talk about how disobedient she was, how her teachers in language school kept telling him how disobedient she was. He seemed shameful and wasn’t too interested in how great I thought she was. I was sure to give her a big smile Monday morning, happy to see her and now seeing the growing impact on her of being told she was wrong more clearly, the confusion building in her. She’s in kindergarten.

When the desire for obedience crosses with another person’e true expression of themselves, you’ve got trouble. This is where darkness occurs.

A facebook friend of mine and fellow coach, Mike Hrostoski recently shared a letter he wrote when he was a teenager that was truly saddening. A young man writing about suicide. The conflict between who he was and who his community wanted him to be was so clear. He then detailed his drug use, his confusion and his pain that lasted for years. He posted it here – http://hrostoski.com/2014/11/everybody-hates-you-and-you-want-to-die/ (his site is currently down, maybe find it on his FB page)

No one could want Mike to go through this, to even have a memory of this and what’s even more gut wrenching is how many people we know are right where he was when he wrote that letter, who have gone through that, who are still wrestling with it and unfortunately, who may never truly try to free themselves, who get eaten alive by the ways they try to cope – power games, passive aggressiveness, controlling behavior, numbing out, withdrawal, acting like everything is ok.

Living in a society, a family, a culture is hard. These entities condition you. They ultimately mean well, but that doesn’t mean they are well-suited for the human condition. We need to teach each other how to cross the street without getting hit by cars. We don’t need to teach each other how to forsake our own self-expression, our lives. The results are heartbreaking and they lead us to transformation or unfortunate ends or both. As a father, this really hits home for me.

Mike is transforming his life with a fervor. Sometimes I can resonate with where he’s at, what he’s wrestling with today, sometimes not, but what I can always relate to is how vital his freedom is to him, how painful it is to be at the moments where it feels like life is in total disagreement with you. How desperate we are to get out.

Go on, Mike. Get OUT.

Me, too. You, too. We all have some of this in us.

Love,
Gregg

Let’s CREATE Our Relationships!

For most relationships outside of child/parent, there is absolutely nothing inherent about these relationships. We fall into norms of society, sure, but relationships are full of assumptions and expectations that do us no good.

This is why it’s incumbent upon us to CREATE our relationships, to decide what they are and what they are not and I believe this is the new and very exciting frontier in relationships. This goes for all areas of relationships, from what our shared goals are to fidelity to sexuality, to whom we will be for each other.

We’ve outgrown our roles, we live in a new world of gender equality (it’s here, even if it’s not complete by a long shot), of sexual relations being completely chosen by the participants, of all kinds of alternatives to what used to be that are increasingly out and in the open every day.

Empower yourself to create your relationships. Do not settle for old roles, old assumptions. We’re not built for them any longer. What we’re built for is exploration, finding what we truly want, respecting each others’ journey, growing and being grateful that we are living in this time of great opportunity.