What is your relationship a partnership for?

Is it explicit? Is it agreed upon? Do you talk about its progress?

Wanting to be accepted and loved is great, but most relationships wind up becoming a partnership for certain things, both empowering and disempowering.

All relationships wind up being a partnership for working out our stuff in life, the problem with that is that it’s usually not agreed upon specifically.

Getting clear on this can make a huge difference, including giving us a chance to work on our stuff OUTSIDE the relationship, FOR the relationship.

Then you can partner for the lives you truly want.

My 5 Year Old Has it Right

After my son Marcus told me I hated him when I told him he needed to stop playing video games this morning, I asked him if I loved him, what would I be doing differently.

He said I would be racing him and playing soccer and games with him.

I get it.

Love lives in a world of full agreement, or a lack of dwelling on the disconnect of disagreement.

When we’re young, before the disappointment of human beings disagreeing with our idea of Eden, our hearts don’t even fathom the possibility of disagreement with our own consciousness. It comes as a shock and HURTS. It feels like love is gone when we encounter disagreement. I still remember feeling like that when I was his age.

The thing is that this is a grave and understandable error and the correction of this error, that disagreement threatens love, is our life’s opportunity. Not just to get it intellectually, but to transcend through it. To really get it. This is our cross to bear, to do the work to return to love, as Marianne Williamson puts it.

Marcus is at the beginning. The unfortunate period where the disagreement rocks us, where it informs our personalities and unconscious beliefs about life. I empathize with him deeply.

And he’s getting the return, too. When he asked me to pick him up in my arms at drop off and gave me 17 kisses and told me he knows I love him, he took courageous action. He inspired me.

The idea that disagreement threatens love (threatens us, really, as we are made of love) – from loved ones dying too soon to not getting the job to not feeling heard to being rejected romantically or even abused – is false, but it hurts.

Love is always here, waiting for you. Getting back to it is the work of our lives. Be courageous.

Obedience Can Be Dangerous


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.


There is no 3D printer for Relationships


As a life coach, very often people come to me looking for solutions, step by step instructions so they can handle difficult situations. They want to stay the same and just do something specific that’s different or better to enhance their lives.

Understandable, right?

The thing is, relationships aren’t like plastic for instance, where we know it’s properties, what it can do and can’t do, what the strenghts and limitations of the material are, so we can’t be given a set of instructions that will reliably work to shape them into the desired form. Doesn’t exist.

Some people don’t want to forgive you, sometimes it’s not what you do but who you’re being that is sabotaging perfectly good instructions, sometimes we are “ungettable” and will put everything in the way of being heard or understood. The list of complications, which are constantly shape-changing and adapting to the present situation, make the material unworkable for a simple set of instructions.

The best tip I can give you is twofold.  First, that IT’S ABOUT YOU. What happens always has something to do with you. If you put your energy into understanding yourself, undoing patterns that get in your way, perceptions you make from fear and the past, counterproductive actions you seem to consistently take, you’ll become a relationship dynamo and STILL not connect every time, still have work to do, still need to learn to understand the shape-changing going on in this incredibly dynamic arena.

Second, if you want it any other way, you’ll have to exclude yourself from being in relationships, period. This is what it’s like to make things work with other human beings and it’s never simple outside of being in very specific, finite and limited relationships (getting coffee from your barista, paying the toll on the highway, riding in an elevator and you know how fraught with variance even those interactions are!).

Can you hang with that? Are you willing to drop your need for iron-clad solutions and start the journey of realizing what the raw material called YOU is all about that has things go they way they do? You’ll never be done, it’ll never be over, but not taking it on brings consequences we’re all very familiar with and rarely satisfied having to endure. We can be straight about this. Just being in love, just having the same mission in mind, just asking him how his day was or buying her chocolates ain’t gonna cut it.

Looking deeply, with humility, being willing to question yourself and see that some behaviors and persistent thoughts do not serve you and owning your stuff gives you the best chance to grow into someone who can make their relationships work. The best part, it’s also the path to your own freedom.

I’m happy to be your partner in that journey as your private coach. Just be in touch.

I’d also love if you’d like to continue this conversation. Leave your comments below.


Why Hire a Relationship Coach?

If you are doing good work but not moving up the ladder at the office, it is about your relationships.
If you are not selling at the rate you need and want to be selling, it is about your relationships.
If you are not making choices that truly make you happy, it is about your relationships.
If you are not satisfied at the end of each day and fulfilled by what you are doing, it is about your relationships.
If you don’t feel comfortable with yourself, it is about your relationships.
If you are not getting what you want, it is about your relationships.

I’ll show you.

How we relate to others, to ourselves, to everything in our lives, creates our experience of life.  In relationship coaching, we create new perspectives and let go of old ones, conditioned ones, default ones that do not serve us.  All of this freshens up our lives and we become free in so many ways. Free to take action, free to decide who we really want to be, free to love ourselves again, free to stop pushing ourselves towards inauthentic lives.  Free to succeed on our own terms.

That’s why relationship coaching makes such a difference in my clients’ lives.  I’ll show you, just be in touch.

Selfie Nation

Why we don’t solve problems in the United States:

A man commits a heinous act of violence against his fiance and our energy is focused almost exclusively on blame, of the man and the institutions that have clearly failed. We want heads on sticks and it basically ends there.

We ignore that we have a societal illness, where we take little to no responsibility for all of the ingredients and circumstances that foster widespread dehumanization of women and men who cannot control themselves, their urges and their emotions.

The same for racism.
The same for xenophobia.
The same for misuse of our planet and her resources.
The same for our animosity towards each other and lack of empathy for those less fortunate.
And on and on…

Looking for villains is a spectator sport, nothing more. Whether you like sports or not, too many of us are metaphorically just watching football.

Things like this do not happen out of the blue, they exist in an environment that fosters them. We are all a part of it and we can put an end to it, too.

Counterintuitively, it starts with empathy and understanding, slowly helping each other undo the impact of living in a very violent and oppositional world and prioritizing understanding ourselves and why we are the way we are. Not just some of us, the ones who are examples after committing terrible acts, but every single one of us. We must look more deeply.

Last Night’s Relationship Circle – 7/22/14 Arlington, VA


We had a fun and social evening at Piola. It was great to see some regulars and a bunch of new people. I keep forgetting, people want to meet people!

When we got to talking about reactions we have to each other’s behavior on dates (applicable to all situations), it got lively and very interesting. We looked at interpretations and frustrations that are very common and get in the way. But when we started looking at ways we can dissolve the effects of these reactions, by asking questions and finding out if we upset each other, by taking responsibility for the upset (which does not mean we were “wrong”), we create a safe and vulnerable environment for acceptance and for really allowing each other to get to know the real us behind the interpretation they (and we) may have created.

As human beings, we’re going to be challenging to figure out, to understand each other’s reactions and interpretations and if we can’t help but make a big deal out of them when they show up, be ready for some emotions and feelings that might make the person seem unsafe to us, or might make us feel like we messed up the experience or that we won’t get along. If we allow each other to just be human, perfectly imperfect, fashioned from a unique set of experiences and how we related to them, we see that just about everything we do makes sense.

Speaking of trying to make sense of things. A new member, Sam (our Buddha of the evening last night), suggested that we talk about expectations in relationships. First, I think it’s awesome that Sam took the initiative to suggest the meetup on the page and emailed me personally about it (YOU can do that, too)! Secondly, this is a great topic and I’m looking forward to the session. Right now, Sam and I are working out a date that works for him, but if you RSVP early, before we even have a date and time, it will indicate interest in the topic and of course I hope the date will eventually work for you, too.

RSVP HERE: http://www.meetup.com/The-Relationship-Circle/events/196592672/

Lastly, I just want to say thank you for becoming a part of a growing community of people interested in creating extraordinary relationships and learning about ourselves and growing in the process.


Thoughts on Acceptance

Acceptance is not a tool for you to get run over again and again and to continually feel bad and suck it up. Even I got caught in that trap. Kept. Sucking.

Acceptance can make you incredibly resilient. It raises the ceiling on what can get you down, what stops you, what creates breakdowns in life. Training yourself to satisfyingly allow the emotions you consistently resist is power! Our objections with what is happening in our lives is more about not wanting to FEEL the emotions of it, not that we can’t handle the actual circumstances.

And still, after gaining some mastery with acceptance, there may be things in life you choose to change. What acceptance gives you is the ability to go about these new courses without the baggage of what’s wrong coloring your delivery and approach.

When we go about creating change and we are carrying the impact of what’s wrong along with us, the normal response from people is to push back, to get wrapped up in the emotional transfer, which then makes them feel the yuck that you are throwing at them. That leads to derailment of YOUR intentions, unless all your intention was was to piss someone else off and create distance or violence between you. Then, you will have accomplished your mission brilliantly!

To sum up, acceptance gives you a less stressful life and makes you much more effective for creating progressive results with other people.

Respect Relationships

holdinghandsMarriage and intimate relationships are extraordinarily challenging.
We are given few tools, if any.
We have few extraordinary examples of success.
We have almost no culture of feedback, evaluation and improvement like most institutions have.
We have love, we have attraction, we have expectations and we have hope and that’s about 5% of what you need to be successful.
Forgive yourself.
Forgive them.
Respect the nature of this endeavor.
You can give yourself and others the understanding that you have a lot to learn, that we’ve barely scratched the surface, whether we’ve been practicing for a year or 20.
You deserve a lot of credit for even trying.