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.

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 #60

645 Relax and Succeed - Be kind to everyone

Happy Friday, Happy Spring, and to top it all off today is the #InternationalDayOfHappiness How good can it get? Oh yeah, it’s also the #MarchKindnessChallenge so please be nice to yourself, don’t use your own ability to think to beat yourself up. Not for March. Also, no gossip or running others down in your head or talking negatively to others. And the best part is, give lots of sincere compliments. This feels great to do. I’ve already had so many reports of people who have been experiencing a change in their happiness by participating. Change your life by changing your mind about what things you choose to invest your consciousness in.

Let’s start off with this bit of fantastic news. Tests are beginning for the first anti-cancer nano-robots and the hopes are very high based on animal testing. It’s really quite a simple process once we understood enough. It’s clever and it could literally change the world massively:

DNA Nanorobots Seek and Destroy Cancer Cells

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The reason I went into film and television in the first place was because I had seen it demonstrate the power to move people—I love how it allows people to spend some time inside the perspective of another person they might have otherwise have judged. And I love how, as an art-form, it accomplishes all of that through empathy, connection, compassion and even love. So today I’ll mostly get out of the way and I’ll just let you enjoy these three little films–the three looks at love. The first features how love works with a group:

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Next we’ll see how love faces adversity:

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And we’ll finish with a story about why love lasts over time:

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There’s a lot of wonderful things going on in this lifetime. Spend more more with your attention on those and have a fantastic weekend.

peace. s

The Friday Dose is a collection of cool, interesting and surprising things that are chosen for their potential to distract you away from any painful thought loops that may currently be disrupting your sense of perspective. Save these for when you’re feeling low and you want to change your perspective. They’ll help Enjoy.

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:

Relax and Succeed

A student I’m working with remarked that she felt like a failure being alone for Valentines Day. Many single people in North America will use February 14th as a trigger for sadness. Like her, they think that because card companies advertised Valentines Day into existence, that somehow they’re doing something wrong if they’re alone.

46 Relax and Succeed - A successful marriage requires fallingThey imagine the hearts in relationships aren’t broken hearts. They forget that the two weeks around Valentines are also the most likely time for a break-up. They forget how high the divorce rate is and that a large percentage of spouses are going about their Valentine duties without any sincere motivation. And they forget that many single people are very happy, with full and active social and sex lives.

If you are in a relationship, there’s about a 50/50 chance that you’re happy about that right now. Many of you are contemplating leaving. Maybe your spouse…

View original post 778 more words

Other Perspectives #32

480 Relax and Succeed Rebuttal - It is not only necessary to love

Okay I can go with this quote provided the definition of “say so” is broad enough. As Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages rightfully points out, love can be communicated through words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, gifts, or quality time. You can’t ask your partner to have a different history and to have become a different person just because you’re dating them. That’s fatally immature. Your job in life is simply to appreciate. So rather than tell your partner how to show you love in a way that is unnatural for them, make it a part of your nature to expand to the point where you can come to appreciate the treasures contained in their form of delivering love. Don’t wait in expectation of getting something you fantasized about, instead be aware and anticipate the surprises that will emerge out of their demonstrations of love. Either way, in the end love is love, and we’ll always recognize it if our minds and hearts are open.

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 Listening Man

Winner: 2014’s Blog of the Year #9

How do I get my husband to listen to me? Every time we “talk,” before I’ve even finished my thought he’s interrupting me guessing what I mean (and he’s usually wrong). And then every single time he tells me that the way I feel about something is wrong. I’m tired of being wrong and now I’m finding myself attracted to a guy at work. He’s overweight he’s not very good looking but he listens to me. My co-workers think I’m crazy to be attracted to this other guy because my husband is a very good-looking successful guy but I don’t even feel like my husband even really sees me. Am I crazy? What should I do?

signed,
Unheard

319 Relax and Succeed - A woman can't change a manDear Unheard,

Let’s start off with this: no. You’re not crazy. But you’re also not alone. When it comes to women’s concerns about their marriages this would be one of the top three complaints I hear in my practice. If it makes you feel any better for his prospects for change; I myself was this husband at one time. Here’s hoping yours doesn’t need the divorce I did before he clues in.

I can tell you that he’s not working against you from his perspective. There is an innocence in your husband’s actions, as frustrating as they might be. Men are solvers. We’re task-oriented. We see a challenge, overcome it and move on to the next one. So when a wife brings up a concern, a male ego will interpret this as a request for help—even if you explicitly state it is not.

I’m speaking in generalities here but most men will only listen to the “problem” up until they feel like they understand it and then they do one of two things: in the first they’ll conclude that from their perspective you are wrong and then they’ll think they can debate you out of your feelings. They might actually have some success at that if they were leading you in a good direction, but to be successful at that they would have to listen and since not-listening is why we’re here….

319 Relax and Succeed - Most people do not listenIn the second case the man does agree there’s an issue, but their response will be to immediately begin to apply their own problem-solving techniques to the task. These involve using their skills and working around their dislikes or their fears and the end they seek will be weighed by their values. If you’re married a lot of those things will overlap. But never all of them. And so your feeling of being crushed or having no space is common because you’re not actually in your marriage, your husband is married to himself and you’re a stand-in.

It gets to the point where many women’s views are routinely dismissed to the point where the women are passengers in a relationship bus driven by their partner. His passengers might suggest another route, but he won’t take those suggestions seriously simply because—from his perspective—he’s the driver and he’s on a route. Where to go is obvious and logical from his perspective. That’s why he’s so dismissive of your views. He earnestly doesn’t see them as valid when applied against his logic.

The only part he’s forgetting is that there’s also a logic to your psyche. That his views aren’t right–they’re just his. He’s not aware that we’re all psycho-logical beings with our own set of perspectives, values and insights, so he’s not taking your values into proper account. He’ll believe in an external, objective reality.

319 Relax and Succeed - The art of listeningYour attraction to the man at work is entirely logical. If you’re psychologically crushed by your husbands inability to permit and respect your opinions, then anyone who makes room for them will almost draw you toward them like a vacuum. You have pressure in your relationship and the guy at work is offering space. Space for you to be. Not be a part of what he’s doing. Just room to be yourself. If your opinion is always seen as invalid or wrong you can’t be yourself.

I’m not sure how old you are but there are pretty common patterns of this throughout the western world. Women are taught by advertising and past culture to beg for acceptance and to base that on their appearance and their charm but only recently on their capability. So even strong women will have been raised in an environment which strongly encourages them to be more passive peacemakers. Men on the other hand are taught to take charge, analyze and respond. A good example of this is coaching.

I heard an interview years ago with four Olympic level coaches who also worked in professional sports leagues. All had coached men and women at the highest levels. Two of the coaches were women and two were men. What all four agreed on was that there exists a key difference in male and female dressing rooms.

319 Relax and Succeed - You can lead a manAll of them agreed that for a woman to call another woman out in the dressing room would almost certainly undo the entire team. It would create so many hurt feelings, so much politics, and worse it would create “sides” to the issue which means half the team is actively working against their own team.

In a male dressing room, again all four coaches agreed it was common and expected that players were seen as having direct control over their own play even in a team situation. So if a defenseman feels his winger isn’t checking his man, then he’ll yell at him in the dressing room and tell him to do so. And that generally won’t disrupt the dressing room, it will make it tighter. People will feel that each individual is being held to account and because they see their play as theirs and not the teams, they’re comfortable with that. The problem in your marriage is that your husband is attempting to coach you rather than being on a team with you.

Men are particularly worse for this when they’re young. I remember seeing a younger friend and her boyfriend at a Farmer’s Market. She would gleefully approach a piece of art and want to discuss its qualities and her boyfriend would break her heart by dismissing the entire experience with his opinion as to its dollar value. Obviously curators don’t organize art galleries by price or value-for-dollar but he couldn’t see that. He thought the value is what should be analyzed, not the beauty. And in doing that calculation his girlfriend found him a little less interesting and attractive.

319 Relax and Succeed - I have learned a great dealI wish I had better news for you, but how this usually goes is that you quietly build up resentment-arguments in your head until you start actually imagining yourself being with the guy at work instead. Even if he would end up doing the same male thing, he would at least initially appear better because when he’s courting he needs to listen so he can learn what to do. Once he feels he’s sure of what to do, that’s when things turn bad.

You don’t want to be changing your partner into what you want or you’re just doing the same thing he is. The women that succeed at this are those who are in some way able to communicate the issue to their partner in a profound way. Many times it’s someone like me that gets hired to make this clarification and to communicate the gravitas of it all.

If the man can grasp this subtle difference in perspectives then many are actually quite quick and responsive because they really do love their wives. But he can’t get yelled or cried into that state. Men largely work with logic, so you need a way to communicate the idea so that he can appreciate its value to him personally.

319 Relax and Succeed - Sometimes we need someoneEither you or someone you hire will get this idea across, or you’ll slowly drift toward a listener somewhere in your life, or you will try a separation or go straight to divorce. But until there is some upside or downside that will suitably motivate your husband to look more closely at how his assumptions are crushing his spouse, I’m afraid you shouldn’t expect this situation to change.

I hope he’s not like me and that he doesn’t need to get divorced to learn. But even if you have to do that, it’s not like there’s only one road to happiness in life. My ex wife is now married to the ex of a woman I know and she speaks very highly of him and they apparently have a wonderful family.

For my part, I’m thrilled she found someone who’s behaved more respectfully and that she’s happy. And it’s not like my life’s been bad either—I can’t even find a life I’d trade for I like my own so much. And if it makes you feel any better, I’m truly grateful to my wife for leaving me. I’m so sorry I put her through certain anguish before she had to make that decision, but in the end it lead to better things for both of us and every woman after her benefitted greatly. However it unfolds, I wish you the very same good fortune.

peace and a hug. s

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