Other Perspectives #67

681 OP Relax and Succeed - I don't understand

There’s a lot of hormones raging in any teenager so it’s not surprising the boys are prone to cheating and the girls are prone to drama. But there is no direct relationship between your care for someone else and their care for you. It’s not like a bank machine where you put your care in and then later you withdraw it. You each come with your own upbringings and your own tendencies in terms of how you were taught to deliver love (gifts, time, touch, talking, assistance etc.). It would be incredibly unlikely if both parties gave equally or in the same ways. For instance, if a guy had a distant, non-demonstrative father who never gave gifts then the guy is likely to be the sort of person who never buys a birthday card or gives a massage or barely says I love you. She can think he doesn’t love her but then the same guy can be solid and enduring during chemotherapy or with a very sick child. Likewise a woman who doesn’t show much affection or offer much attention to her partner can still be a remarkable partner to have during the death of a family member or for the most trusted of duties. You should be with people because of how they are in the world, not because they tick off a bunch of boxes in some magazine or off some list created by your friends. Your partner is not in a movie performing a romantic role for you. Your partner is a person with their own drives, interests and values and personality. The differences between you can coincide and be very compatible and helpful to both people. But you’ll still both routinely fail to meet each others expectations. But that’s not them failing. That’s you expecting. That’s not their problem, that’s yours. Lose the expectations and you’ll lose the pain too. Let people be who they are, don’t tell them what to do, but be fully yourself and that will make you an enjoyable person to be with. After that the rest will take care of itself.

peace. s

Increasing Intimacy

Winner: 2015’s Blog of the Year #9

I used to do a very popular couples group that some people asked me to get going again. It was a fun weekend of lively, positive discussion where I would guide the attendees through a conversation that would inevitably provoke various insights about their partner, themselves and their relationship. Sometimes those insights were actually gentle, even comfortable realizations that maybe the relationship should actually end. However in the vast majority of cases the reaction to the sessions was a particularly tender re-connection.

672 Relax and Succeed - If you love a personTo teach someone how to behave in a relationship would be like teaching a dog to shake your hand. Yeah the dog is making the motion of shaking your hand but because they don’t get the real meaning behind that motion it’s useless. It’s faux. It’s not like them licking you. It’s not a real connection. I can’t create a set of rules for a good relationship. I have to wake people up to what the happy couples are paying attention to and what they do not pay attention to.

What you pay attention to—that is your life. I mean that completely literally. As Aristotle said, “To be conscious of what we are perceiving, or thinking, is to be conscious of our own existence.” That’s why I can’t reignite relationships by giving advice or lists of things to do. But the insights I provoke do lead to an increased awareness of each other and of the relationship. And that increased awareness very naturally leads to the same sorts of warmer and more romantic expressions that were evident when people first met. They are reminded of the core qualities that attracted them in the first place. Qualities that are easy to take for granted.

That blush of emotion we feel when we first meet cannot be sustained of course, because without being juxtaposed to something else we would never even know we were experiencing that bliss. But it can be regularly resurrected in any reasonably healthy relationship. That’s what relationships do. They undulate like that. They’re like sailing.

672 Relax and Succeed - It's not about giving up on the fairy taleA relationship is like two sailboats. They can start off from vastly different harbours and they can be different sizes and types of sailboats. People can be from very different places and backgrounds and can have very different experiences throughout their life. Sometimes the differences are the cultures you grew up in. Or disparities like extreme fame or wealth or ability. If two boats come from vastly different places they will often meet at very perpendicular angles. That might result in an awesome crash together, but after that you’re often left picking up the pieces in an ocean of doubt. And yes, if someone’s super famous or rich or powerful and their partner is not, that can make sailing together more difficult too. But you know what? It doesn’t matter who you are or what it is, problems like that are just barnacles.

Yeah, they’re always hidden below the water line but everyone’s got barnacles on their hull. Everyone pushes through life with the weight of these past experiences that just seem to cling to our individual psyches. In fact our only escape is to not have an individual psyche. And you can start by trading just yours for one that includes you and your partner. That is to say, the point of me  generating the insights is to try to get each partner to consider each other’s position and personality more completely before reacting to any given words or behaviour. Essentially they learn to listen better.

So while it may be true that two boats from very different places are less likely to sail together, and that different shaped boats make for different sailing experiences, it is nevertheless true that any boat can choose to sail next to any other boat. (Yes, even if the two boats are both shes.) So boats are people and our course represents who will be in our key relationships, because no one can truly sail beside us unless they are genuinely going the same way.

672 Relax and Succeed - We've got this gift of loveAt its best these two boats are rubbing gently against their soft bumpers as they nuzzle together in some safe harbour. This level of calm and warmth allows the two souls on board to intermingle, treating their separate worlds as one vessel. At their worst one or both boats are taking on water and are tacking for the wind using different strategies, leaving them both floundering and alone. Nevertheless this is all sailing.

You can sit on the shore and not live life at all, but if you’re going to go out to sea and venture forth into life and into a relationship then you absolutely have to be prepared for very rough seas. In fact your relationship is only as good as your performance through those challenging times,. And you can rest assured that even the greatest relationships included those periods of terrible sailing, be that from being knocked around by storms or being tortured by the boredom of a dead calm.

It is also possible for other variables to impact one boat or both. Maybe you strike an obstacle. A death in family, some serious financial crises, cheating, a health issue. This kind of experience can require an immediate restart from scratch in a whole new direction. Or, maybe one person is doing particularly well and they’re leaving their partner to struggle behind them. This increases the distance between the boats and the only way to fix it is to either wait for the wind to change, or for one of the two boats to tack a new direction. Even then, this is still all just sailing. Every relationship that’s made it 20 years would have faced these kinds of rough seas at one point or another.

672 Relax and Succeed - A happy marriage is the unionThere are no relationships where the boats rubbed up against each other in perfect seas with the wind at their back from coast to coast. And we don’t even want the boats that are so distant they are meaningless, nor do we want ones filled with too much conflict. The boats rubbing, yes. The boats smashing, no. So a good partner is still their own boat. They are choosing to sail alongside you because it’s worth it. It’s that simple. And pretty much everyone is worth it if they’re with a reasonably matched person. In the sessions all I had to do was make sure that each person knew how to see the value in their partner.

So remember, if you’re ever feeling lost and you’re wondering if there’s even a point of staying together, keep in mind that you may just have had to tack for a very good reason and that your fundamental course is still true and together.

I suspect I will do those couples courses again. As I’ve thought about them to write this I remembered how much laughing we used to do and how wonderful and warm the insights were. It was very easy and enjoyable to witness people reconnecting. In the end I just acted like a lighthouse. I simply shone a light on who people truly were and that was enough to bring them back on course and sailing again side by side.

May the boats in your life have the wind at their back.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

The Friday Dose #63

660 FD Relax and Succeed - You are beautiful

Let’s start with a young woman who starts to question the concept of beauty she has been sold after she starts asking individual men what they think is beautiful. She’s surprised by the responses:

100 Men’s View of Physical Beauty

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Next we’ll tackle the question, is ADHD a disease or is it merely the unintended consequence of modern habits?

ADHD and the relentless internet—is there a connection?

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Which door would you walk through? This was a brilliant idea for an experiment:

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And finally, do you have a Fear of Missing Out? Then you won’t want to miss this:

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I trust you found something useful, expansive or enjoyable in this “collection of stuff that Scott found interesting.” Have yourself a spectacular weekend!

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a fascinating, informative, funny collection of mind-changing links, pictures, videos or audio clips. If you are currently mentally or emotionally suffering then use these to distract yourself from the painful courses of thought that are generating that suffering. Or, you could just enjoy being fascinated. 🙂

Other Perspectives #50

596 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - Never give up

It’s important to note that this message of empowerment also blindly encourages fighting, as though no circumstances warrant voluntary surrender. This is likely because the context that it was created in was a case where some uncharacteristic effort might have made a big and positive difference in someone’s life. And sometimes the hard work of life is what gets us where we’re going. But far more things were achieved by people trying to love their way closer rather than fighting to maintain or achieve something. There’s people who’ve fought for years to save their marriages and it didn’t work out. That doesn’t make it wasted time, but it shows that a fight is not always the best answer. There’s no fight required if relationships are based on both people being earnestly invested in each others overall well-being. You should be like praying hands. Whether one person’s weak and your hands are to the left, or the other person’s weak and your hands are to the right, either way the hands are still pushing towards each other. Fighting in the context of a relationship is often more like trying to bind two people together with a good argument rather than having them naturally moving toward each other by choice. Good relationships are easy to have because both people want to be in them. So make sure your fights aren’t just selfish arguments for getting your own way. True love wants everyone to feel exalted.

peace. s

Note: Everyone who posts or shares a quote does so with the very best of intentions. That said, I have created the series of Other Perspectives blog posts in an effort to prevent some of these ideas from entering into people’s consciousness unchallenged. These quotes range from silly to dangerous and—while I intend no offense to their creators—I do use these rebuttals to help define and delineate the larger message I’m attempting to convey in my own work. I do hope you find them helpful in your pursuit of both psychological and spiritual health.

The Slow-Motion Divorce

Whether it’s the woman leaving the man or the man leaving the woman, the deciding-to-get-divorced process happens over months, years, or even decades. We’re all human and we all largely process the world using the same basic societal patterns. This means that, while there are certainly many exceptions, most breakups are entirely predictable.

513 Relax and Succeed - The best thing you can doBoth genders have their own dominant patterns that each stem from the common source of ego. So a man tries to build his ego with achievements, or success or external markers of his advancement relative to other men. The ego believes everything is about it, so the men can get so focused on their personal/financial success that they will sacrifice the success of the relationship.

Women on the other hand are seeking connection, and sharing and support. So they’ll get focused on their needs and the needs of the family and they will often forget that their partner has needs that are just as valid that also need addressing. They’ll tend to scold any behaviour they see as not in alignment with their personal goals for the family, relationship or household.

Some men are left because they’re not active enough, some of the men get left because they’re too busy worrying about building businesses, or advancing careers, or paying off houses. Either way, their selfish focus causes them to fail to notice that they might be leaving too much of the household management to their spouse. They also forget to approach her as a woman with physical needs, and when they do engage it’s usually as a fixer and less as a listener or supporter.

Most of the women get left because they’ve pre-imagined the relationship in such a way that anything the partner does that’s outside of that invisible plan is seen as misbehaving. They are subsequently scolded in much the same way kids are, and they eventually leave over being belittled right out of the relationship.

513 Relax and Succeed - No reason to stayOf course there are many exceptions and there’s also violence and addictions and differing life directions etc. etc., but a large percentage of the people that come to see me because their marriages are in those first two groups. Neglecters and Scolders.

So how is this information useful to you? Well, neither of those primary reasons to split are really reasons to split. Again if there’s violence or addictions or other serious challenges, or even just a clear indication that you’re going in two different directions, then those are good reasons to divorce and reorient your life. But if you just aren’t paying enough attention to your actions, then that’s divorce by lack of awareness.

If you want to avoid the pain and expense and the huge and somewhat complex start-over that divorce entails, then stop telling your spouse how to improve your life or relationship and start focusing on becoming self-aware. Then you can actually contribute to the relationship improving rather than just itemizing how your partner could do that. Two people repeatedly passing the same to-do lists back and forth is hardly a recipe for a happy relationship.

513 Relax and Succeed - Love has come to ruleAnd should you do this to save the relationship? No. The relationship exists in your head. You should do it because you feel loving feelings for your partner and you truly want to make their life better. Be nice to them, note their qualities, and compliment them. It’s not hard. It’s what you want too. Stop asking for it with words and start asking for it with loving deeds, whether that’s helping out with something you know they find difficult, or something like excusing some behaviour you might otherwise negatively comment on. Bottom line, you don’t create great relationships by changing your partners into someone great, you create realise a great relationship by noting on a day to day basis that your partner is already great.

If your relationship is truly dangerous or unhealthy then end it as soon as possible or make firm arrangements to do so. And if it isn’t bad enough to end, then it’s good enough for you to invest yourself in sincerely. So rather than asking for love, give some instead. Because it doesn’t matter who puts the love in, both parties benefit equally.

Here’s to a great life. Enjoy.

peace and hugs. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Staying Together

Winner: Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2014 #2

Leaving domestic violence or terror out of the equation, the vast majority of marriages that go from happy to unhappy are all making the same simple mistake. One (or far more likely both), parties have slowly changed their approach to the relationship. Despite the fact that it’s almost always both people, everyone will only tend to notice the change in their partner but almost no one notices it in themselves. This actually compounds the problem because then 511 Relax and Succeed - A successful marriage requires fallingpeople earnestly and innocently think the issues are due to the partner and not do to the action both they and their partner are engaged in. The good news in all of this is that you only have to adjust what you’re doing, and it’s not that hard to do.

In the dreamiest state of a relationship all you do is spend hours and hours fantasizing about your life with that person. You living out ideals in your imagination. And because you feel what you think, you’re living it and you get all the joyous experiences that go with thoughts like that. For about the first seven months you do nothing but focus on the person’s strengths and that’s all you’ll talk about to your family and friends. In fact, if they express a different or cautionary view—unless you’ve had some previous experience that leads you to being suspicious—you will generally strongly prefer defending your fantasy partner over listening to cognitively dissonant unfavourable ideas about them.

The timing varies, but seven or eight months in one or  both of the people do things that genuinely upset the other person in a much more serious way. And with that single event they will generally quickly unravel their ideal, even though it has much more evidence supporting it than this one instance.

This is all made worse if the person on the receiving end has had enough bad experiences, they can take someone from hero to zero in one jump. And because we tend to date in patterns, that’s a high-low-love-heartbreak perpetual motion machine if we don’t become conscious. No matter what any person actually does, what’s changed is fundamental: their partner now feels cause to think less than ideal stories about their life together. And they make that worse by comparing what’s happening to their imaginationed ideas of what they expected their futures would be. And that thinking is what creates what we call distance.

511 Relax and Succeed - Most relationships failAs lives get busy with children, work, other responsibilities or life circumstances, etc. etc., people begin to think more about those practical things than they do about the basic human needs of their spouse. And if and when they do think of their spouse, it’s usually something to do with how the spouse is impeding our ability to accomplish something useful with the kids or work or some other responsibility.

Unchecked, this thought roll eventually becomes a dark cloud over both people and whenever they get into contact it’s like a thunderstorm starts. There’s so many resentful ideas floating in their consciousness that as soon as they get close to each other these pre-loaded ideas start arcing and sparking.

You can’t expect to have a healthy relationship if you primarily sit around all day thinking of your partner’s shortcomings or failings or past mistakes. There is no way to build a happy life from a lot of negative thinking even if you can argue that your thinking is logical. You can have your logic if it only leads to unhappiness. Life is short. We should enjoy it. And our youthful selves were often wiser than we realize.

I would suggest starting with this —start thinking more charitable thoughts of your partner. If they left you for another person, what would the other person have fallen in love with in your spouse? What would have attracted them? What part of them aren’t you seeing anymore?

511 Relax and Succeed - A true love storyIn most of the cases I see, two fine people fell in love and intertwined their lives, and then through the subtle forces of modern life, they learned to live as two people; one being a punished and the other being neglected. I have seen that pattern countless times. Those sensations are misleading and they in turn lead to more and more thinking until a tornado of thought forms and sucks the whole relationship into its dark heart. Even the household will get ripped apart. That’s how the nature of this goes. But it can just as easily turn around into something beautiful. Because it can be rebuilt by the same mechanism by which it was destroyed.

The moment you begin thinking appreciative thoughts about your partner is the moment you start feeling better. And in a remarkable number of cases, you can transform the relationship into—not your ideal—but something wonderful and rewarding and yes, challenging too. But creating a better relationship isn’t about your partner changing to suit the way you want to live. It’s up to you to look at them in a loving way and find ways to live together. The great part about that is, both the process and the result are highly enjoyable.

Be in love by being appreciative. Have a wonderful day. And thank you for your time.

peace. s

How To Fall In Love 2

If you really want a relationship to work, you’ve got to fall in love with the same person over and over. Fortunately that’s pretty easy if you’re doing it right.

While I take a week off you get to read some of my favourite blogs. This one includes a detailed description of what happens when a relationship goes well, and what happens when it doesn’t, and most importantly it shows you how to turn one into the other. Enjoy: