Woody Allen on Relationships or, How to Make Better Tasting Eggs!

“It reminds me of that old joke – you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, hey doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. Then the doc says, why don’t you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs. I guess that’s how I feel about relationships. They’re totally crazy, irrational, and absurd, but we keep going through it because we need the eggs.” ― Woody Allen, Annie Hall

If we’re in it for the eggs, we’ve got no chance, relationships will eat us alive. You probably have bite marks, yourself (and given them)!

It’s what you can make out of the crazy, irrational and absurd that’s the opportunity of relationships. Our reactions to what happens in relationships are a window into our transformational process. I know, it would be so much easier to just have unlimited eggs, but when you take relationships on for the sake of your transformation and all of the success that can come from it in every area of life, relationships become the most powerful tool around.

From here, the eggs get better and better 🙂

Last Night’s Relationship Circle – Roles in Relationships

We gravitate towards roles in relationships – mother, helper, know-er, child, savior. How many relationships are you in just to continue playing a role, because it makes you feel needed? Are you choosing these roles or are they automatic?

How people choose roles that they become victimized by:

1. Roles come from how someone has related to another person from past experiences. For example: I need to be your protector because I know you to put yourself in dangerous situations. The victimization is that the other person winds up resenting you for not understanding who they are today.

2. Roles are chosen to help people mitigate their own fear and discomfort. Because I am scared about my future with you, I choose to fix you. We choose a role that if we follow, it will hopefully make us comfortable. It is ultimately about our life, not the other person. In this role, we (consciously or unconsciously) care about what happens because we feel the other person’s choices effect us. Our discomfort distorts everything we see.

“If my boyfriend would just realize…”
“If my son would just finish law school…”

The victimization here is that we relate to the thing we’re afraid of, not the person and the relationship suffers.

3. Pattern. We find ourselves habitually choosing roles all my life. This is usually born from an incident early in life. We learned how to deal with something scary by choosing this role

The victimization here is that we don’t get our needs met, because we are always being the ________.

The other side is how we react to the roles others choose in relationships with us.

I am tired of my husband trying to be my therapist. My mom won’t leave me alone about getting married. My brother is always correcting me, like he’s some critic I never asked for.

We can all relate to these examples. Here are some tips on how to deal with it.

1. LEAVE THEM ALONE. Let these people play the roles they want to play. In fact,thank them for it. Whatever reactions (thoughts and feelings) are coming up for you are yours. Learn to be with your emotional responses, become masterful.

Your reactions are also a part of the pattern that you and your partner/mom/friend have created together. If you stop bringing the predictable response and take responsibility for your reaction, the pattern will break down over time and the relationship will shift. By taking a role with us, people are NOT controlling us. Whatever reactions we have are ours.

2. Let the person your in a relationship with know the roles you want them to play with you. Not to the exclusion of the roles they want to play, in addition to them. In fact, don’t even mention the roles they seem to play. Only mention what you want more of.

No matter how careful you are with suggestion number two, when you are shifting the normalcy of the roles people play in a relationship, there may be some pushback and upset. Many of us will not want to take on number two, because we are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. There are things we don’t say or do because we make up a future possibility in our mind, like if someone gets upset that it will cause irreparable damage. We don’t think we can have a continued relationship with someone if we say something to them that could be upsetting and then we stay victimized. We need to allow them to have a reaction and continue to forge the relationship we want.

3. Recognize that role dissonance occurs because each person on this planet is living inside a different reality than every other person on the planet. What we try to do is force others to live inside our reality. Life would be so much easier if everyone lived inside of one reality 🙂 Your reality doesn’t have to be my reality. Once you see that, the experience of being controlled will dissipate. Again you don’t need to mention this to the other person, just allow them to continue doing it, it’s your reactions to it that you can make a difference with.

Travis Bailey, thank you so much for helping me collect the notes from The Relationship Circle and sending them to me without me even asking. It was invaluable help in putting this update together.

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.


You Want to be Heard?

There is no responsibility in speaking. Anyone can do it, it requires no special skills other than learning a language. There are a myriad of possible ways things can go once you’ve spoken.

Being heard is an entirely different story. If what you’re committed to is being heard, you want a 100% clean interaction. What you are giving is what has been received and that’s it and it is the speaker’s responsibility if that intention is his or her goal. Again today I did not take responsibility for being heard. I’m working on it, too.

To ensure being heard, we need to get behind the reality (interpretations, based on their own personal experiences) that other people bring to the table. It also takes an understanding of what we are bringing in addition to our intention (imbedded reactions and emotions, mostly), because your listener may get taken out by something other than your intention that is present in your communication, verbally, through body language, tone or way of being.

Here’s what I mean. If you are committed to being heard, if you have chosen that your sole intention is to make a contribution to another or to vent or to share or to brainstorm, unless it is made explicitly clear, the listener could hear it as something completely different. Contributions are often heard as criticism, venting is often heard as blame, sharing is often heard as a request for someone to do something about what has come up and on and on. If you want to have more than one intention met, then separate them for yourself and introduce them separately.

If you want it to come off as how you intend it, consider making it clear at the outset. Let the listener know that you noticed something about them that you wanted to share with them and find out if they are open to hearing it, let them know you just want them to listen to you vent. Even then, it is likely that your intention will be misconstrued, because we hold fast to our reactions and emotional triggers, so if we want to be heard, we can check in, by asking questions like, “How did that occur to you?” and then showing understanding that they could see it that way.

We also frequently bring our upset to other people, we want them to know that we are upset with something they did and we also think we are trying to help them. The thing is, it’s more likely than not that the listener will respond to the upset and get triggered themselves. The value of what you were trying to bring is then lost.

I understand completely that what Im suggesting is hard work, but if you want to be heard, these are some things to consider. People’s listening is what it is. They may reliably look for the threat in other’s words, tone and way of being. We can’t fix or change that unless they see for themselves that it’s getting in the way. As speakers, we take people for where they are and be responsible for our reactions and emotions or we deal with the dissonance and not meeting the goal we set out on by choosing to speak in the first place.

Relationship Mastery

I am offering one free relationship coaching session for you or someone you know this month. We’ll look together at one relationship in your life, business or personal, where you want things to go differently. Jump in.

In relationships, we’re given no manual, we usually follow flawed guides and the sheer amount of desires, interests and concerns we bring into them are so daunting to satisfy, let alone working with our partner on theirs. No wonder we are rarely truly satisfied over the long term.

It’s time to raise our games and take this as the awesome and possibility-filled undertaking it is. If we take on relationship mastery, imagine the benefits. Imagine hearing and accepting others as they truly are and feeling understood, empowered and supported.

Relationship mastery as some ultimate destination is impossible, or course, but it’s the commitment to learning, practicing and deciding that this is an area of life where you choose to always grow and thrive that will reap benefits.

Let’s have our relationships resemble the world we want to live in. All of them. It’s absolutely possible.

If you want to start down this road or know someone that can benefit from it, contact me and let’s get started.