Relationship School

1348 Relax and Succeed - Relationship School

This fall I will be starting the latest round of my course, The Principles of Healthy Relationships. I won’t pretend to know who or what is right or wrong for someone else. But I do know that by learning how to clear our heads and change our perspectives, we can learn to more clearly see what defines a healthy relationship for us.

Each of us comes to our relationships with unique histories, unique circumstances and a unique personality. Those factors in turn lead us to date in unique ways and to create unique relationships. We even have unique breakups. And yet within us there is a certain consistency that we see emerge as patterns.

The differences between us derive from small differences in how we weight our values and our preferences, and our patterns emerge because those rarely change. But what is helpful is that we all share a set of helpful principles that we process our values and preferences with, and we can become conscious of that process.

We all know it’s possible for us to be attracted to certain kinds of unhealthy situations, and we often have the same conflicts with multiple partners, both of which are indications of the invisible set of rules we have been using in our relationships. Yet, we cannot function wisely within them if we’re not even sure what those rules and boundaries are, where they came from, or if they’re helpful.

It is possible for us to be more conscious of what we bring to a relationship, both in terms of how we foster them in healthy ways and how we unwittingly undermine them. Because we not only need to know how to find joy, we also need good strategies for how to manage our particular brands of trouble.

Every good relationship runs into problems –even serious ones. But the healthiest relationships succeed precisely because they have calmly thought out good strategies for dealing effectively with the patterns we create with our lives.

If we understand our Selves and how we truly operate, we are then able to tell the difference between when our ego is over-reacting, and when we have an issue that truly needs a healthy resolution.

By slowing our dating, relationship and breakup processes down, and by seeing them in new and insightful ways, it is much easier for us to find healthy new routes into better quality relationships.

1348 Relax and Succeed - Being single dating being in a relationship

If we’re single we can benefit from gaining a better understanding of the differences between solitude and loneliness. That way we can avoid both hiding from relationships, as well as being pushed into unhealthy ones. (It’s no surprise that we often make better choices when we’re feeling healthy and not under stress.)

If we’re dating, that’s often through websites which match qualities and interests, and yet people in good relationships will sometimes share those and other times not, so clearly those are not the secret. Qualities and interests are important, but in the end what we are with in a relationship is someone’s true character. Knowing how to recognize it early helps us to figure out much sooner if someone is destined to cross one of our relationship limits.

And if we’re in a relationship, or if we’re thinking about leaving one, we gain by establishing much more clearly what our personal needs really are, and why we are with the person we are with. This can can facilitate very helpful dialogue and can just as often lead to a beautiful relationship renewal as it can lead to a compassionate and healthy break-up.

Whether we avoid someone, unite with someone, sacrifice to stay with someone or decide leave someone, in any case our actions should be motivated by the same underlying principle: because that choice will lead to a greater quality of life.

We can share our lives with others and we do not have to surrender ourselves completely to do it. At least not all the time. But we do need to know where our own balance points are, and how those correspond to our partners or potential partners. Without that we can easily see things tumble.

No one is ever wrong or right for everyone, but finding who we’re right for is certainly much easier when we have a clearer and more principled idea of what it is we’re really looking for.

peace. s

Modern Dating

1346 Relax and Succeed - Modern dating

Who can blame people for being confused by modern dating? It’s been complicated by changes in both technology and in how human beings react to one another, and on top of all of that we have #metoo. Regardless of what gender we are or who we want to share our lives with, it’s a minefield of uncertainty out there.

Women have to figure out how to balance newly discovered strengths with their sensual femininity, men have to figure out how #metoo and 50 Shades of Grey can be popular at the same time. And before we complain about having to navigate that, just imagine how much more complex dating is for transsexuals, bisexuals, or the polyamorous.

I’ve recently written about the timing of a breakup, the notion of being successfully single, and today it’s dating, but these are all really the same subject: how do we balance our desire to share our lives with our desire to fulfill our personal destinies? How much sacrifice enriches us and how much is too much?

Those in relationships need some basis to make stay-or-go decisions on, otherwise the fear of being alone can force us into unhealthy situations we wouldn’t otherwise entertain. But leaving also means being single.

If we move in that direction, are there really ways to enjoy singledom and not feel like something is missing? And if we do want a new relationship, how do we tell who is right for us after a series of choices that lead to disappointment?

How do we work around the fact that apps have turned dating into a process akin to picking Chinese food? Because it’s easy to just keep ordering different dishes (qualities) in different combinations in the hopes that we can find a consistent order that meets all of our needs.

At the same time, our needs change day by day, so what defines a good match? Some things that we don’t like are good for us, yet whenever we run into relationship challenges it can feel easier to re-order than to learn to cook.

1346 Relax and Succeed - We can bring love into focus

In the end we cannot order a good relationship in. Good food or a good relationship will always be dependent on what we put into them. What works for one will not for another, and yet we do all share a set of underlying principles that people rarely even notice, let alone consider –hence the coming course.

There is no universal key to a good relationship either with another person or with ourselves, but there are ways to view ourselves and our partners that can be extremely helpful when it comes to helping us determine whether or not a relationship adaptation is valid or a deal breaker.

What people need are tools of the mind. We all need ways to think about ourselves and our situations that help us all recognize when we’re asking for too much, when we’re accepting too little, and what factors define what will make our lives rewarding.

These things can be done, but they require us to step back from our relationships and our pursuit of them. We must take time to philosophically consider what our perspective truly is. What are our priorities and why do we have them? In what ways would we benefit by making sacrifices to adapt our lives to that of another person?

People needn’t feel hopeless. There are answers to all of those questions, but we don’t get them just by wanting them. We must be prepared to sit down to take the time to truly sort them out.

Once we have reached our conclusions, we then have the wisdom necessary for navigating the decisions around dating, relationships, marriage and divorce, and they all become less tangled and more comprehensible. And whether we are together or alone, living with that kind of clarity is a truly beautiful thing.

peace. s

Dealing With Mom

1326 Relax and Succeed - Dealing With Mom

Hi,

I hope you’re doing good. I’m sorry for letting you down.

It hurts when I think that you might want to lean on me and can’t so I’ll be honest –I try not to think about that. Even when I do, I wouldn’t have a clue of what to say anyway.

Like everyone with a mouth I throw a lot of opinions around, but the longer I live the less I believe that anyone knows what to say for big stuff. There’s things when we’re young that we have to figure out to be adults. And a lot of times it just plain hurts to learn it.

That’s the hardest thing about being a dad, you know. Watching your kid hurt and knowing that you can’t stop that. That there’s nothing you can do –it’s awful. You feel like you failed but it’s just normal life, but your kid doesn’t know that yet so you guys get mad at us when we already feel awful. It’s all super confusing.

So, here’s the good news. If you’re confused, then that’s good. You must be on the right track then, because that’s what happened to me and everyone I ever met or heard of. Even famous super successful people.

They say the divorce rate is supposedly 50%. That’s a lot of daughters –and sons– growing up without their Dad’s around I guess. Or around much. And that’s if you even get to meet him, right?

Some Dad’s miss their daughters like crazy. Other guys find the whole thing so painful that they try not to think about it at all. Some climb into a bottle. There’s other guys who know their daughters are better off without them so use the disappearing act, or the kid gets the Old Yeller version of love, where they try to make their kids hate them so the kid won’t blame themselves when their Dad leaves.

There’s even guys that wish they’d never been born at all; so they couldn’t even have a daughter whose life they could screw up. And there’s everything in between. All of us Dad’s are a mixture of those tactics. There is no ‘right’ thing to do.

Look, it doesn’t really matter how it all got to where it is because it just is. No one means to get divorced. However it happened, that leaves you and your mom stuck alone. That’s not an easy thing for either of you. I want you to know that I know that. A lot of people know how hard that is. Even your mom had a mom. And bills are bills. Here is something I know for sure: you’ll hate those too.

Why I’m writing is that my friend’s daughter –she’s so angry. I don’t want you to be like that. Her anger’s just eating her up and she’s an amazing girl. I don’t want you turning your anger against yourself like that.

I want you to use your amazingness like the gift to the world it is. So I’m gonna try to explain the little bit I know in case it helps you. I’m sorry I can’t be there in person to do this.

1326 Relax and Succeed - We cannot avoid all strife

First thing: you gotta remember that your mother’s a person. She’s not just your mom. She’s a lot of people to lots of us. But she’s a person. Remember that. If she seems mean or tough or even really super sad –this divorce stuff, and dating. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And all my female friends –they all tell me it’s super hard for them too. Be compassionate, okay?

Some of them feel pathetic after they break-up. Some kind of panic and try too hard. From what I hear from some moms, they even can end up competing with their daughters. That’s men’s fault.

Men can be pretty judgmental so being older probably seems pretty scary to a lot of ladies. I never even noticed my female friend’s necks but they seem to think they’ll never get married because of them. If your mom starts wearing beads it might be because she’s scared.

Sometimes moms are cold or angry or whatever, because someone betrayed them. People like that don’t trust love anymore. Not even with their kids. That’s how much it hurts. I have a friend who is so scared to love her daughter because she’s afraid of what will happen to her if the kid ever rejects her. She’s already lost everyone in her life so this thing with her daughter –she’s terrified.

There’s also moms where sometimes the mom just never got any love given to her so she had no one to show her how to give hers away. If this is all making life seem too complicated and not worth it –it is complicated. Way more complicated than you can know. But it’s totally worth it. It’s why I’m writing. If you don’t see your own value you can waste your life not living it. And that’s bad because life is great even with all the crap.

Don’t forget, a lot of problems moms have, got caused by their husbands. And even if they didn’t, if she’s in pain she’s in pain. Don’t expect her to show that because she has to be strong for you. So her pain’s gonna come out as anger. Remember that. Your mom gets mad when she’s hurting.

A friend of mine went to see Oprah talk. She was shooting a movie –Oprah I mean, not my friend. And the director had to teach Oprah how to tuck-in the girl playing ‘her daughter.’ She didn’t know how because she had never had that happen. Her mom had a hard life and was cold and her grandma was mean. And mom’s –or anybody– can’t give away what they’ve never been offered.

What matters is, Oprah’s life turned out great. So a girl can have the worst mom in the world and still have a great life. And your mom’s a long way from the worst. Your mom’s so good I had you with her. She loves you it’s just –you’ll see. Being an adult is not parades and parks and ponies the whole way I’ll tell you that. She’s doing better than you think.

You deserve the love. You do. You are perfect exactly the way you are, pain and scars included. Never forget: just because people can have trouble showing it doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It already hurts us when we can’t show it, so you being mad just makes it worse.

If a kid asks for love we should give it to them. We should. But sometimes we just won’t be able to. You probably have stuff now that you wish you could stop doing –or start doing– and those things are probably easy too. I’m not sure why we can’t do that stuff, but your mom’s got stuff like that just like you and me do.

When she feels unlovable, every time you push her to get love she’s going to find a way to protect herself. It freaks anyone out when someone asks another person to do things that scare them. Moms are people. Dads too. We screw up and get stuff wrong. But none of that means you’re not loved.

Don’t spend your life angry. You’re loaded with so much potential you wouldn’t even believe it. But I’ve seen people waste that on anger or on being sad. Even if they have reasons to be, it doesn’t do any good!!

We have to make something of our life because it feels better when we do. We have to be selfish about that. I guess it’s like grandpa used to tell me. He used to always say, ‘life is its own reward.’ Huh. Now I’m him. See how that happens? (Some day you’ll have a daughter that will be mad at you.)

I hope you and your mom find a way to connect better and not fight so much. If that happens I’m glad. And if not, well, remember: Oprah turned a mean mom into a great life. Yours isn’t even mean. 🙂

So do what Oprah did with your dumb, absent Dad. But your mom is there. And what she’s doing is hard. She’s making way more sacrifices than you’d think. So just try to remember that her anger is pain. And remember she loves you. Because she really does. So don’t forget to love her back.

Now go be awesome.

Love, Dad

The Right Time

957 Relax and Succeed - Some pursue happinessWhen considering financial decisions, jobs, education, relationships, hobbies, friends, etc. etc., if you have a lot invested, when do you bail on something? When do you surrender, give up, change direction or grab something new? Your mind can whirl for aeons on a question like that and get nowhere because you don’t solve a thinking problem with more thinking.

Do you see how your rational ego searches for a rational solution? You want a pro and con column to add up to a negative number so you can tell yourself a story later about how careful you were before you made the decision. You want to be sure. You want to be confident. You’re a good person and you don’t want to do the wrong thing. Your problem is that confidence does not come from knowing you’re right and the idea of being wrong lives only within your thinking.

Confidence is a natural state. A little kid will swing a bat or kick a ball or any other thing quite poorly and yet still feel confident because that just means that they’re doing what they’re doing without self-talk interference. Insecurity is a thought-induced state. Confident people aren’t saying anything to themselves. They’re just being in the moment. I can assure you, we’re not internally going, “Oh yeah, I know what I’m doing, I’ve got this. I am totally good enough to pull this off easily,” Those are the words of someone insecure trying to bolster themselves with words. Confident people aren’t certain about success, they’re just ready to proceed.

957 Relax and Succeed - Only the truth that is your ownRight and wrong are also value judgments. If a little kid does something and a parent notices the difference between how the kid did it and how a pro would do it, then they’ll teach them the language of wrongness and that’s how they’ll talk to themselves in their heads even after their parents are long gone. They’ll always notice what’s missing.

A parent that notices what the kid did well, or if they just show enthusiasm without specifics, then that child can develop securely, certain that the parent’s support isn’t connected to external achievements but rather to the actual child. You shouldn’t love what your kid does, you should love your kid.

So how’s this help with decisions? Do we really think humans never made a decision prior to language? We needed language to turn right or left on a path? No, you could just have a sense of knowing and then go. We do it all the time but we never give it value because we can’t turn it into words and share it with others. It is an entirely personal, internal experience. So it absolutely is possible to know things without being able to explain how. Explain how you love seafood. Explain your love for your pet. Explain red.

957 Relax and Succeed - Don't cling to a mistakeJust live. Trust yourself. When it’s time for you to stay or go, trust me you’ll know. Because all the words do is define a range of time. You’re thinking about leaving your job for a year and then suddenly you leave. It’s not like you finished thinking. It’s not like you came to a conclusion to some calculation and then told them immediately. You still had to feel the time was right. So why do all the thinking if you’re just going to get that feeling and act on that anyway?

Even if we later feel we left early or late, that’s just another person’s judgment in another time. That’s literally the person that benefited from the wisdom of the decision looking back and wondering why the person who didn’t have that wisdom didn’t make that decision. It’s crazy. You weren’t that person yet. The decision is what created that person. So that decision wasn’t right or wrong, it was just appropriate for who you were at the time.

If you want to hold on to something too long or let it go too soon, just overthink it. That’s the only way to screw that up. Because right and wrong, good and bad and should or shouldn’t all live in thought but not in reality. Reality has actions and consequences and that’s it. You’re always fine. The rest is just a story you tell about yourself, to yourself.

957 Relax and Succeed - Your journey has molded youGo quieter. Look less for answers and instead wait for spontaneous insights. You get them all the time, but the thinking of science has convinced you that spontaneous insights have no current scientific explanation, so they–you–must not be trusted. Better to trust an abstract scale outside of yourself that is not built for you, but for your entire society. You are you. You will know what’s right for you personally if you just stay quiet inside and wait.

The issue is, we’re not good at being internally quiet and waiting. And so people think. And they get impatient for answers. And so the suffering goes. In the end you’re still not lost. At any time you can reconnect to your wisdom and access that higher knowing, and those connections will come from simply being quiet enough for long enough that you’ll actually be able to hear the voice coming from the confident soul you always were as a very little kid.

peace. 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.

Other Perspectives #90

811 OP Relax and Succeed - Mom what is marriageThis is funny. In my experience thus far, the vast majority of men get left for the same reason every time. Same with the ladies. The guys tend to be emotionally inattentive and they keep calling their decisions the couple’s decisions. The ladies get it wrong when they do what this quote suggests: when they assume that their way of doing things is the correct way and that their spouse’s way is stupid, as opposed to just being another way of approaching something. Both the inattentiveness of the men and the certainty of the women lead to them usually being completely blindsided when their spouses leave them. Speak respectfully of those you love. Because you could flip this quote around to read, Dad, what is marriage? It’s a fancy word for having to put up with a bossy arrogant person who will constantly try to treat you like a child. Doesn’t sound nice, does it? Respect. If you’re going to be in a relationship with someone then make sure your commitment to love them is a verb that you practice daily and not just something you claim out of obligation or habit. Because whether they’re talking to other people or talking to their spouse, healthy people in healthy marriages talk about their partner’s qualities a lot more than the challenges they present.

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 #84

780 FD Relax and Succeed - Alexandr MilovToday we’ll focus on relationships. We’ll start with a discussion of art and the wisdom of children, then shift to a detailed conversation on how to communicate without judgment, and we’ll end with some profound relationship advice from a child.

First off is a discussion at Collective Evolution about one of this year’s most popular Burning Man art pieces, by Ukrainian artist Alexandr Milov. Seen above, the piece manages to say so much with so little. I have tremendous respect for such artists. Here’s a link to more information on Alexandr:

Collective Evolution: Alexandr Milov

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Next we’ll look into improving your relationships through mindful, nonjudgmental Buddhist communication thanks to Cynthia Kane at The Washington Post. It’s a good article and quite clear, so without further ado:

Cynthia Kane’s: How to Communicate like a Buddhist

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And finally we’ll end on some very clear wisdom on how lowering the intensity of our emotions can result in a much more peaceful and loving life:

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

peace. s

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

00 Relax and Succeed - Friday Dose Footer

Leaving a Cheater

They had moved their lives and their family halfway around the world together. They were a team. They had been married for 15 years. Most people thought they had a great marriage and he did too. And then he found out his wife had been lying to him. There was a boyfriend. Heather didn’t mean for him to find out but it came out in something she said. She didn’t notice that she had accidentally given something away. And Nigel didn’t say anything for the first while. He used that time to gather information.

777 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes good things fall apartAnd gather it he did. Once he started looking he noticed that the clues were all over the place. Unfortunately, as jealous people prove–you can develop quite a list of clues that turn out to be false if you’re looking for them. So even 90% of his clues weren’t actually clues at all, but he did find a half-dozen actual things.

So Nigel would think about those six real things plus the 5o or so he imagined and he could tell himself story after painful story–which he did. Over and over, and he was more and more hurt, and that made him angrier and angrier. And while his anger was masked it still came out pretty clearly if you weren’t Nigel. Heather certainly noticed. He was eating away at her. He was criticising her body. He wanted her to feel insecure. If she was going to be naked with someone else he wanted her to waste it being worried.

He thought about moving back to Britain but he couldn’t do that to the kids. As angry as he was he wasn’t crazy–this was about his relationship with her, not hers and the kids. That was a separate issue and he knew full well he wanted her guidance and influence in the kids lives and that they loved her. But this hurt and hurt people hurt people. So they both suffered.

777 Relax and Succeed - Love is what we are born withHe never did define what he was waiting for, but eventually those silent resentments built up and Nigel exploded in a totally uncharacteristic way. He stormed around, threw things, called a rental company and was loading a truck all in the same day. It was extremely dramatic. And when he was gone he was totally gone.

The kids were obviously completely broken up about the breakup and it made perfect sense that at their age and the way they would be able to understand things–it would almost inevitably lead to them blaming their mother, which in turn meant them choosing to live with their father. In another city.

So there he is. Away from someone that up until a short time ago he loved. She was also his main support even though he’d barely noticed that part. Not that she had noticed that he was doing likewise for her either. Now it’s two years later, the kids have mostly forgiven their mom and they’re better for it. And he’s realized he had been somewhat inattentive to his wife prior to her affair which ended anyway. Now she’s single and he’s still alone too–too scared to get hurt like that again. And he’s still trying to find a way to forgive her so he can do what he calls moving on. That’s how he described it to the ancient Chinese guy who taught his Tai Chi class.

777 Relax and Succeed - Forgiveness is not something we do for other people“I am sorry. I do not understand.” The accent was Chinese but this guy went to a British-style English upper class school in Hong Kong. The serenity about him was undeniable. “What do you mean by overcoming? And moving on?”

“You know, that moment where how you feel about something–about someone–changes…? Then you can forgive the person because you see what happened differently so you can move on.”

The Tai Chi teacher seemed confused and it was obvious. “I see.”

“I just have to wait until I can see this–thing–in this certain way and then I can get back to living my life.”

The old man laughed. “1980. John Lennon. Double Fantasy. Beautiful Boy. The song is four minutes twelve seconds. ‘Life is just what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

777 Relax and Succeed - Too many people go through life“That’s my problem, I can’t make any plans until I put this behind me.”

“Then you have plans to put that behind you, and until you succeed at your plan you refuse to move forward.”

“Not refuse. Can’t.”

“Mr. Nigel. You are a very good student. You learn Tai Chi well but you are very mechanical. Your motions are individual. You must learn to flow.”

“I’m not sure I….” 

The old man just looked at him for a good long while. “I’ve have been alive a very long time Mr. Nigel. My own life does not include the moment you have told me about. And I know if I never needed such a moment, and most of the people I know never needed one, then neither do you.”

“But then what do I do?”

777 Relax and Succeed - We are not held back“If there is nothing left to do with your past then you are free to make a plan and begin taking the steps of your future.”

Nigel slumped. He felt weak. The old man put his hand on Nigel’s back. “But how do I get over what happened and feel better?”

“You leave it in the past. You don’t bring old opponents into today’s battles. You fill your mind with other things. I remember when I met you you told me about an old car you wanted to restore?”

“I haven’t felt good enough to do it.”

“You have not felt good because you’ve been thinking about the worst events of your life. May I suggest you may have been happier working on the car. Our life is our own responsibility Mr. Nigel. No one gives us a good life. We each must fight our own opponents and win our own battles. But between the battles is the time for living.”

777 Relax and Succeed - Life is too shortAnd Nigel got it. He really did. He’d misunderstood. He was waiting for a lightning bolt of insight. A stroke of wisdom that allowed him to understand. Understand what happened. But the stroke of insight wasn’t about the events from years ago. Of course that would always be what it was. The insight was that he misunderstood literally how to live. He was trying to figure out how to have it always be okay and instead he realized he was just supposed to respond wisely to it not being okay.

And from that day forward Nigel responded to feeling badly by doing more of the things he enjoyed. He was not only a lot happier, but it resulted in more women finding him attractive and him eventually finding a new partner that easily kept his mind off his problems–and on top of that, on weekends they got to drive around Nigel’s sunflower yellow 1948 Ford Coupe.

Now go build your life’s a hot rod. 😉

peace. s

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

Relationship Issues

Winner: 2015’s Blog of the Year #7

Are you a couple with issues? Not violence or psychological torture, just some serious issues. Do you see the same problems coming up over and over and over? Do you want them settled once and for all? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to want someone to understand and appreciate your view of something and then respond to it does it? So what do you do?

752 Relax and Succeed - To find signs we are lovedI actually have super-good news for you. As I’ve been able to demonstrate with lots of other couples, this problem can in fact disappear in no time flat. But they can also reappear just as quickly and easily. The fortunate part is–that’s all up to you.

Think of your consciousness as a jar of water. When it’s clear you can see in every direction clearly. But every single jar on this Earth has a bit of sediment at the bottom left over from its creation–from its childhood. These are things that interfere with the clear functioning of our consciousness.

The inevitable occurrence of challenging circumstances will jostle our little jar and cause some of that busy thinking to float up into our consciousness. But we must remain calm and understand it belongs there as an aspect of the jar and it will naturally settle again if left alone.

If we battle against these reactions, if we want and desire and otherwise agitate our consciousness in an attempt to shake it out of us, we only serve to further decrease our clarity and further block our view of the outside world. At the same time, to the outside world we only look darker, more chaotic and less inviting.

752 Relax and Succeed - PatienceA relationship is two jars sitting touching each other. When things are good and calm it’s easy for each jar to capture the light travelling through the other jar. This is the light of the very universe itself and we see it filtered through a person we love clearly. Our vision of that light is at the heart of our feelings of love.

If we develop an egocentric personal sense of events around us then we begin to think that our partner’s sediment is our sediment. We then begin to shake ourselves in order to shake them in the vain hope that this new-to-us sediment will go away. We start to think the agitated sediment shouldn’t be there, rather than the truth; which is that we must accept that it is there and understand our role in agitating it into something we now have to deal with, just as our partner must contend with the messy details of our childhood.

In relationships the sediment gets called a problem. And rather than accepting what is, we all want to fix the problem. But there is no fix for the sediment there is only acceptance. Because every time you try and make it go away you’ll only serve to agitate it further. It’s like trying to pat down water waves to make them go away. It just makes them worse.

752 Relax and Succeed - Spending today complianingThe best example I know of this is when a couple argues over something that happened the previous day. Okay, so it’s already happened. You can’t go back in time and unmake it happen. But people will often wake up the next morning, see the sediment from the previous day lying there inert, and instead of leaving it alone they’ll shake the other jar, activate the sediment and then blame the partner! There is nothing to fix. Nothing to sort out. Nothing to be understood. It’s crazy. It would have just laid and done zero damage if the person wouldn’t have shaken it.

There are no actual problems in relationships. There are only current agitations of thought created by the desire to live within a different reality. But until that thought-based cloudy thinking settles, our own light and the light of our partner will be obscured. The more we shake it to be different the darker everything will get.

Accept that your partner has sediments just like you do, and accept that those get agitated occasionally by life. That’s not something being wrong, that’s being alive. You don’t fix that. You calmly know that by doing nothing things will naturally settle and that the light you see in your partner will always return. Because after all, that light isn’t actually them. When it’s unconditional love what you’re seeing is the undisturbed light that’s at the heart of the very universe itself.

Have a wonderful day.

peace. s

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

Other Perspectives #77

741 OP Relax and Succeed - The best gift a manRomance can get confusing and before you come to an understanding of how things work a lot of wisdom can seem like paradox. So I didn’t X this quote out because I only do that with the ones I feel are strongly misleading. This one’s more subtle. Yes, I’ll note that we shouldn’t be surprised if things go poorly when we demonstrate our love in a way that our partner has trouble absorbing, but that doesn’t actually conflict with this statement. Stealing from The Five Love Languages, if your partner likes Quality Time but you keep presenting them with either Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service or Touch then the struggles you’ll have will make a kind of sense. But if you’ll notice, if both people are spiritually and psychologically healthy then this quote does actually include all five languages. The Gift is the presence itself. And while it may not initially be perceived as a gift, it would be over time. After that it clearly lists the Time which is used for Attention which is just another word for Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service or even Touch. And if you ask most women why they left their marriages it wasn’t because of some big emotional reason like cheating—it’s usually just a slow, simple lack of attention. Men get so busy managing life and work that they sometimes forget that their partner needs more attention than they do. If you don’t think to give your spouse regular compliments then you’re not really noticing your spouse, because if they were good enough to marry then they’re certainly worthy of regular recognition.

peace. s

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The Foundation

738 Relax and Succeed - I am practicing being kindWe realize it when we’re older: when we’re young we’re more interested in what someone has or does than in what they are. We want our partners to be attractive and sexy and successful and smart. That really seems like a great list.

Later, after a lot of hard-fought experience we want someone kind. Someone who will be gentle with us when we’re struggling. Someone who will genuinely see our problems as theirs just as they also want to share in our successes.

That’s the value of dating and breaking up. It feels like we’re failing; like maybe we’re lost or unworthy or we’ve chosen some other narrative to explain our repeated periods of being single. The longer it goes the harsher we get with ourselves because we presume that something’s going wrong. Meanwhile, more experienced people easily recognize that we’re just living life.

Yes there are childhood sweethearts that fall in love and stay married. But there will be challenges in that marriage just like any other. But the far more popular route is to date five to ten people before finding someone that we feel really comfortable with. As long as we’re okay with the waiting it works out fine.

Each relationship brings us something and it costs something. We’re just looking for the good fit between comfort and price. As callous as it might seem, togetherness is less like romance and far more like clothes that fit well. And sometimes we have to put a few things on before we really know how to respect the differences.

We all think our cultures haven’t brainwashed us. We always think that’s the other person. But it’s us. We want beauty and youth and sexiness and wealth. Of course those are things we can see but we don’t really experience anyone’s beauty as anything more than a visual experience. But things like kindness and compassion and patience are experiences we feel.

738 Relax and Succeed - Kindness is not an act

As we age, overall we care less about how things look and more about how they feel, and that’s largely because we come to realize that even the relationships that looked good from the outside were actually experiencing serious challenges on the inside.

These challenges can come as big events. It’s very hard for couples to survive the death of a child. Financial trials and infidelity can test people’s idea of for better or for worse. But the challenges can also come like a death of a thousand cuts.

It’s a slower death for those who simply feel disregarded or dismissed or taken for granted. After all, the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference. Over time, people can start to quietly think resentful thoughts that lead to them to be indifferent to their partner’s suffering, and that can be a death knell for a relationship. When connection and compassion are gone everything changes.

Maybe we’re always messy and our partner has learned to live that way out of love for us. Maybe we’re always late and our partner has learned to live that way out of love for us. Maybe we’ve got a shorter temper, or maybe we get off the plan for the kids more often, but our partners have learned to live with those things out of love for us.

Maybe it’s us that’s very rigid and it’s our partner that must make significant concessions to simply be with us. Maybe we regularly lose our temper or pout or cause some other price to be paid. In good couples the forgiveness and gratitude flow both ways.

738 Relax and Succeed - GratefulBottom line, none of us are perfect. So if we want to know how much our partner loves us we should simply look to our own weaknesses. Because our partners will most certainly have had to accommodate for them. And as we mature we realize that is the sign we are loved; we are loved without conditions.

We also become grateful as we gain experience because we realize that while we were busy trying to get other people to be other ways that satisfied us, some of the ways we were being may not have been very reasonable to others. When we see that form of forgiveness is when we begin to take stock of the more invisible contributions our partners make.

If we share living space with another human being then we have a large impact on their life and they have one on ours. Rather than telling them how they could make ours better, it might be an idea to actually get a clear understanding of how much they give to us already.

No matter who we are, it’s an easy guarantee to point out that virtually all of us are getting a lot more from those around us than we’re taking into account. Learning to recognize those contributions can not only make a big difference in our lives, it can affect everyone we share relationships with as well.

peace. s