The Key To Finding Lasting Love

By David Steele   Discover how your thoughts and feelings are your keys to living happily ever after. When singles become couples, each partner has different hopes and dreams, wants and needs, attitudes and experiences. These differences too often result in relationship failure and disappointment when one or both partners attempt to mold the relationship and their partner to fit what they want, rather than accepting and embracing what is. While we must have a vision and requirements and choose a partner and relationship aligned with what we want, we can't be so rigid that we reject reality. How do we let go of needing perfection without settling for less than what we really want? One strategy I recommend for Conscious Dating is to "experience your experience." WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "EXPERIENCE YOUR EXPERIENCE?" Your "experience" is what happens inside of you. It happens automatically. It's the thoughts that pop into your head, the sensations you have in your body; what you see, hear, feel, touch and taste. It's what you are feeling emotionally. Your experience just happens. You go to a movie and you love the movie and you feel tingly and warm, that is your experience of the movie; you have a positive experience of it. You go to a movie and it scares you, turns you off, you hate it and it repulses you; you have a negative experience of the movie. Your experience is involuntary. It just happens and it always happens in the now, so you must be present in the now to experience your experience; you can't be in the past, thinking about what was, and you can't be in the future, thinking about what will be. Relationships only happen in the present. Connection can only happen in the present. To be in touch with what is real for us and to have a fulfilling relationship we must be able to experience our experience. So "experience your experience" means to be present, be in the now, experiencing what is going on for you right now, and what's real for you right now, instead of your fantasies about what will be and your associations about what was in the past. Experiencing your experience is important because too often we bring our past baggage into a relationship; we don't see the person and the relationship for what it is, we are too busy coloring it with the past, or we are absorbed in fantasy about the future, about what it might be and could be and will be. EXPERIENCE HAPPENS FIRST Your experience is what's real for you, and you get to decide what it means. If you went to a movie and it repulsed you, then you might make up a story, an interpretation of your experience, that the movie was horrible, it was the worst movie ever made. That's because of your experience. Your experience results in your stories or your interpretations and meanings, and then what you [...]

2018-01-10T13:56:09+00:00 By |

What Not to Say in an Argument

YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU Of all the words not to say when a discussion is turning heated, ‘you’ triggers a myriad of emotions: anger, resistance, shame, distrust, or guilt. When faced with, ‘You are crazy,’ ‘You should be ashamed,’ ‘You’re wrong,’ ‘You could do better,’ or ‘You can't,’ your response is doubt, insecurity, or fear. Not exactly a great way to get to a resolution! At the beginning of a relationship, we attend to the other person because we want to get to know them. We listen to their likes and dislikes, history, family dynamics, dreams and fears.  We spend hours in conversation, discovering each other. No fact too small, no story too long. The building of the relationship has newness and surprises. Then comes married life. Work pressure, money issues, no time to connect, parenting tensions, and aging parents become our ever-present companions. More and more conversations have morphed into an argument or confrontation. How did we get here? Whatever happened to the way we used to communicate? Though the relationship may be deepening by virtue of shared experiences, it is becoming undermined by an invisible change in communication. So what can you do?  Become aware of several behaviors that get in the way of having clear communication. Using trigger words that you know will put the other on the defensive. Using emotionally-laden words that attack dignity, such as thoughtless, stubborn, inflexible, bossy, or impulsive. Using absolute words such as ‘always,’ ‘never,’ ‘no one,’ ‘everyone,’ and ‘all’ Allowing the need to win overcome the value the relationship Raising your voice. It may indicate your passion about the issue, but it is perceived as a way of gaining power, as well as not listening When you don’t deal with the issue at hand, it will fester inside you, and your partner will be mystified by the silence and psychological isolation that occurs. The silent treatment is a form of emotional isolation that no one deserves nor should tolerate. The first three behaviors center around word choice.  Trigger words are ones that come from a person’s history, and their reaction to them is comes from the emotional part of the brain. Absolute words and emotionally–laden words that attack dignity or self-esteem are perceived by the receiver as unfair and believing, that in your eyes, there is no room for growth.  How can you work on word choice behavior? Sit down and write a list of your trigger, absolute, and emotionally–laden words and why they trigger or make you defensive. Next to each word, write why it is a trouble word, and at what age and under what circumstances it became one Share your list with your beloved. There will be two outcomes. First, you will reach a new level of understanding in your relationship. Second, your awareness of the off-limit words will result in thinking more before you speak to ensure that you use words from the critical thinking instead of [...]

2018-01-02T16:14:44+00:00 By |

Love == Blame it on the brain

Have you ever looked up LOVE in the dictionary? I did tonight. How interesting one 4 letter word can have so many meanings.  There are at least 9 different definitions of LOVE. My favorite being a score in tennis, by the way.  I also find it interesting that it’s firstly, a noun, when often it feels like a verb or an adjective. It can be considered all of the above, which seems sort of fitting for this particular word, don’t you think. Such a powerful word, love, yet we throw it around like a football on Thanksgiving. I love that sweater, I love sushi, I love you. It’s used for so many things it seems to me to have lost all it’s power. It’s so easily purrs from our lips, “I looooovvvve youuu”. It’s so easily posted in our Facebook status.  I’m starting to notice that there is a direct correlation to the number of times a husband or wife posts about their love for their companion in their Facebook status and divorce, I’m not kidding. This week alone I’ve seen three supposedly perfect (well according to Facebook anyway) marriages dropping like hot cakes. And really, that sweater, if you love it so much why don’t you marry it. (As my 7 year old would say, come on we’re all 7 still aren’t we!) Sometimes I wonder if I should have just married my sweater. But then I remember how I felt when I uttered those words that day I got married. I truly meant it.  I felt love with every ounce of my being. It felt powerful to say. So I guess the question becomes is love permanent? Can we love something forever? I am guilty of uttering the words “I will love you forever,” and when I did I truly believed I would. But the truth is that kind of love wasn’t sustainable. I truly felt love, in the moment, years even! And the chemicals in my body released made me feel as if I would “love forever.”  But as with every chemical high our body gives us, eventually we reach a point where gravity takes over. For every high there is a low, for every beginning there is an end. There are certainly many types of love. I know I will always have love for my children (maternal love). I can see how maternal love is ever lasting, the chemicals released and the part of the brain that lights up is completely different then friendship and romantic love. Love for friends and romantic love, hmmm those two are tied to so many things.  So many expectations and attachments to the past. There are at least a dozen specific parts of the brain that are activated when we feel romantic love, which leads to a release of all sorts of good juices! (Peptides) These yummy juices influence certain behaviors ranging from pleasure to sadness. I guess that depends on if the love you [...]

2018-01-02T04:50:26+00:00 By |

Loosening the Grip of Toxic Words

In fourth grade, a fellow classmate told me I was ugly. At the age of nine I had no way of understanding jealousy, rivalries, or peer pressure. I just took what she told me as the truth. I lived with that ‘truth’ until the age of 27 when three wonderful friends worked with me to eliminate that thinking. Before I began doing my listening and communication work, when someone used the word “ugly,” my mind chatter would go through a 30-seconds of “Don’t they know “ugly” is on the inside not the outside” or “Gosh, use the words ‘homely’ or ‘plain.’ Don’t use ‘ugly.’” Once I realized that “ugly” was one of the negative words that was stopping my listening, I worked on minimizing the amount of time I was obsessing on the word, and getting back to the conversation. Today, I am now able to push aside this mind-chatter within a second or two. Why am I telling this story?  We all have an incident when a particular word or phrase became toxic for us. Unfortunately, the reasons for the toxicity fade into the background of our personal history, and we never do the work need to release that word’s hold on us. As a result, when that word is innocently used by someone, we drift into mind chatter, stop listening, and essentially become the age we were when that word or phrase became toxic.  Becoming age nine, 14, or even 21 at work, may not be so good for your career path. Becoming the age of your teenage kids at home may not be good for your marriage. Let’s see what you can do to increase your awareness of these words. The best way to have words, situations, or perceptions no longer block our listening is to identify what our emotional triggers are and to understand why they evoke these emotions in us. Here is a general, overall view of the three types of emotional barrier that can confront us. Types of Barriers Situational triggers – They consist of difficult episodes in our life that have become unforgettable. This can be anything from breaking a violin string during a grade school performance, to missing the winning basket in a varsity basketball game, to losing a job. Forbidden topics – They consist of matters we will not talk about. There is nothing wrong with having topics forbidden as long as we know why. Being a responsible listener also means being responsible for our emotional needs. If a topic is out of bounds for us, we can make our apologies and leave the conversation. We do not have to sit still and take it. Negative - Positive Words –They consist of specific words coming from our child, teen, and adult experiences that trigger a response in us. We hear these words in face-to-face conversation, as well as on radio and television, considered “acceptable.” No matter where we hear them, they can stop our listening. Creating [...]

2018-01-07T18:57:06+00:00 By |

Divorce: Life Goes On and It Can Be Awesome!

Since my divorce, I’ve met a lot of divorced people. It’s funny that when I was married, I knew mostly married people. I guess that’s what we humans do, we gravitate towards our kind, and now my kind is divorced with kids, and I’m surprised to say I’m happy about that. I’m also well into my forties and, guess what, I’m happy about that, too. After a year of being sad and scorned and hurt and scared that I’d never find love; I’d never make enough money to support my kids; I’d never have the life I dreamed of as a young girl — something finally clicked. As I watched my divorced friends scurry off to recreate the past, I didn’t. For about a year, I did what I had to do to support my kids, but I knew it wasn’t a forever thing. I didn’t feel the need to plant myself anywhere, to rebuild or to fix, I just sort of floated about and then it hit me. You know what? I actually don’t have to do any of those things. I am completely free to do whatever I want. mean I don’t have to find a husband? I don’t have to stay in the career I was in while I was married? I am completely free to reinvent myself any way I want? That’s awesome. Like really awesome. Lucky for me (and for all of us), we live in a time where we don’t have to follow the program; we can create our own, and that’s exactly what I did. I decided I probably wasn’t interested in getting married again, and I certainly wasn’t having anymore kids (I have two amazing kids already). I decided what I really wanted to be was a writer, a story teller — not too far off from what I did before, but new enough that I was both frightened and exhilarated at the thought of attempting to support myself and my kids on such a lofty, artsy endeavor. I found faith in myself. I looked back on my marriage and I saw a resourceful, creative, fun loving being who may no longer have all the accepted labels of a woman my age (Married with children, awesome husband, house, car and a designer wardrobe to boot), that even though my marriage had ended, I was still alive and growing! I saw for the first time the freedom to explore life and trust that I am capable of raising my kids and living fully at the same time. Divorce after 40 doesn’t have to be the end of your life; it can also be the beginning of your new one. I look back on my marriage as a chapter in my book, and the next pages are mine to write on and no one else’s. I don’t have to follow a script, I don’t have to play by the rules, I am free to do and be anything [...]

2018-01-02T04:32:07+00:00 By |

Compatibility is Overrated

In my work with singles and couples, the subject of commonalities comes up often. Singles have a list of things they are looking for in a partner. Couples argue because they do not see eye- to- eye. Some people believe that in order to be compatible you have to have a lot in common. Others believe that opposites attract and that makes a good relationship. Personally, I do not believe that compatibility is all that important in a relationship. Yes, you do need to have the important things in common. Similar life goals, values, and mutual respect are the building blocks of a good relationship and are essential. Where people get in trouble, I believe, is thinking they need to have a certain amount in common for the relationship work. I have had the opposite experience in my relationships. My husband and I are different in many ways! We have different interests and ways of doing things. We also have different personalities; but we get along very well. I also do not believe our success is based on our differences. I think we get along because we have the same basic relationship goals and values. We respect each other’s differences and enjoy finding things to do together. Some of the online dating sites base their suggested matches on commonalities. My personal belief is that you are better off looking beyond those commonalities. There is little evidence that sharing interests with someone makes for a better relationship. Differences can spice up, add excitement to, or add balance in a relationship. At some point, you and your partner will disagree. You will have different viewpoints, ideas, and ways of doing things. What is important is to feel loved and to love each other. As long as you connect on enough levels and can accept each other’s differences, you have the basis for a great relationship. Focus more on the ways you are compatible, appreciate each other, support each other, and stay committed to the relationship. We are each unique individuals and need to be responsible for our own happiness. When you have a life you love, then you are able to share that with your partner. You might share a lot of things or a few special ones. Each couple should create a bond that is right for their relationship.

2018-01-02T04:29:28+00:00 By |

10 things to give up to improve your relationship!

Relationships can be challenging. We take two different people with different beliefs, thoughts, and personalities. We put them together and expect them to create a happy life together. Add to the fact that there are so many differences between men and women, and it is a wonder we get together at all. Let’s face it, relationships take work. They are easier to navigate when we know how to do so successfully. Most of us learn a lot of things in school but how to create a long- term loving, healthy relationship is usually not one of them. In today’s blog, instead of telling you what to do, I am going to talk about ten things I want you to give up in order to have a better relationship. Stop comparing your relationship to your friends or the ones you see on TV. TV is not reality, yet we can get caught up in the fairytale of how relationships “should” be. If you compare your partner to your friend’s, you can set yourself up for disappointment. Remember, you do not live their life, and you are probably only getting part of the story. Find the good in your relationship and move forward from there. Stop trying to control your partner. We are unique individuals and have different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and ways of doing things. In many situations, there is no right or wrong way, just a different way. Learning to love and accept our partner for who they are, including their differences, creates stronger relationships. Stop blaming your partner for the problems in your relationship. This also means not waiting for them to change to improve your relationship. This takes away your power to positively impact your life and your relationship. When you become the best partner you can be, you elicit the best from your partner as well. In my coaching practice, I will frequently work with just one partner helping them to successfully improve their relationship. Give up negative talk. This includes what you say to your partner, others and yourself. The thoughts and words you use are powerful! Becoming aware of your words and changing them can be a first step in improving any area of your life. Get rid of limiting beliefs. Once you look at your words and thoughts, go one step further and look for limiting beliefs that are contributing to those thoughts. What beliefs do you have about relationships that are negative? You might have learned them from your family or your past experiences. It is time to let go of them and replace them with positive beliefs. You cannot make positive changes with negative beliefs. Stop complaining about all the small things. Then realize that most things are small things. Instead of complaining, make a list of all the things you like about your partner. Once you get into the habit, it is just as easy to focus on what you like. Now take it one step further [...]

2018-01-02T04:24:51+00:00 By |

5 Steps to Detox from Divorce

Healing from a break up takes time and patience.  Two things I never seem to have, but am learning, thanks to, well, a break up! A little over a year ago my marriage ended. After the shock wore off, which for me lasted about 3 weeks, I did what I usually do- research. I like instructions. I like to do lists. I like to have a plan and I didn’t seem to have any of those for dealing with the hurt and betrayal caused by my divorce.  I wasn’t surprised that I got divorced. I think I saw that coming. But even so, it didn’t hurt any less. There were plenty of books and I read a couple, but who has time to read every book! I felt overwhelmed by all the information and advice coming my way. I was angry with God, I was angry at anything “spiritual”. I didn’t want to hear another person tell me to mediate on it. I just wanted someone to take my hand and lead me out of the tunnel of darkness I found myself in. When everyone around you thinks you’re the leader, it’s hard to find someone to follow. It’s especially hard to follow when YOU THINK you’re the leader. During my research, I came across an article written by a couple of therapists who had a program called Divorce Detox. Well right off the bat, I liked the name.  It had a sense of humor and it was pretty right on. I mean we detox from toxins in our body right- why notdetox the emotions. So I checked it out.  Amazing how the universe seems to deliver right what you need when you need it. They had a session starting right away and I jumped at the chance to join. It wasn’t until after jumping that I realized I was going to have to sit in a room with a bunch of people I didn’t know and spill the beans on my life, my marriage and ME! I had never done that with my friends- let alone a bunch of strangers. Vulnerability was not my strong point. I almost backed out, out of fear of being exposed as the horrible person I felt I was. I was amazed, instead, to find a room full of loving people who understood my pain, my hurt, my anger and who loved me, even if they didn’t “know” me. Well they sure got to know me, and I still talk to them today, a year later. They gave me the greatest gift I have ever received (except for my children). They gave me their ears and their hearts. For the first time I sat in room and didn’t feel judged, I didn’t have to impress or be smart or funny. I could just be me, and begin to find me again. I found someone to lead me, or I should say a group to lead me.  I found a to do [...]

2018-01-02T04:21:43+00:00 By |

3 Common Relationship Myths

Relationships are the cornerstone of our lives and our happiness. Unfortunately, they are also responsible for much or our unhappiness. We go to school for 12 years at least, yet we do not learn much about relationships. With the divorce rate of over 50%, it is obvious that we are not learning what we need to have healthy, happy relationships. We do not learn how to choose a partner or how to keep romantic relationships alive long term. Not only are we not learning what we need to know, we are learning relationship myths that can actually keep us from being happy. What are some of these myths, and how can we learn to spot them so they do not ruin our chances for long-term happiness? Myth #1 Relationships are hard work. You might have heard this from your parents or you might be saying this yourself over coffee with your girlfriends. I hear these kind of statements frequently at social gatherings. If the person is single, they may be using this as an excuse to stay single, “Relationships are too much work. I am glad I am single.” I believe that very few people would prefer to remain single. This belief that relationships are too much work can stop them from trying. For married couples, this might be a reason for not trying to make the relationship better. It can keep people stuck and not motivated to make improvements. Relationships do take effort, but the key to making it last is learning how to make it work. Relationships take attention, commitment, and the right attitude. Part of the problem is that we do not know what to do to make our relationships successful. We might be putting forth a great deal of effort and not getting results, which causes frustration. We need to learn how to communicate and how to give time to our relationships so that our efforts are successful. Myth #2 My partner should know how to make me happy. They should know what I need. I should not have to tell them. This is a very dangerous myth. We are all individuals, and what we want and need in a relationship can be very different. We all have a picture in our minds of what a good relationship looks like. This picture comes from our family of origin, our past experiences and our personality. No picture is right or wrong, they are just different. The key is to find someone whose picture of a relationship matches your own. If you and your partner have two very different ideas of how a relationship works, it will be nearly impossible to have a happy, healthy, long-term relationship. Even if you have similar pictures or similar values, men and women are still very different. What they want and need in relationships are as different as the sexes. This again is something we are not taught. We are usually taught that if my partner loves [...]

2018-01-02T04:12:18+00:00 By |