The Generous Husband

When considering the greatest acts of love imaginable this is not likely to be on your list. You might think of someone escaping a war-torn country to be with his love, or some woman defying her entire culture to share her life with the man she truly loves, or maybe you’d think of some couple who meets during a disaster and goes on to have a wonderful family. But you won’t think of this.

We think of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia as diseases that impact much older people but by her late 40’s Karen was already showing signs that something was wrong, and soon she couldn’t even set a proper dinner table let alone run her life safely and effectively. By 50 they were making plans to get her into a home where she would be safe and well looked after.

Maybe the doctors and nurses were more prepared for it due to their experience. These brain diseases can attack various regions and often they’ll attack the ones involving our social comprehension. So people will become rude without meaning to, or they’ll say inappropriate things, or sometimes they’ll even do them. And sometimes, they’ll behave in ways that are far more complicated.

The home called. They had caught Bob’s wife in bed with another man. It was clearly sexual. A meeting was called. They trick is, the people involved were young enough that it was difficult to control their every move. More of these instances seemed inevitable. What did Bob and his daughter want to do?

What a thing to be asked. Do? What would someone do in such a situation? Both Bob and his daughter wanted some professional guidance but there is no guidance for a wife becoming extremely uninhibited and sexualised. No one else could consent on her behalf, and yet obviously no one knew if she was capable of consent if she needed it. And worst of all for Bob, his wife didn’t remember Bob or his daughter, and instead she thought she was married to the man she was sleeping with. Who imagines dealing with that at 50? Or is it worse for Bob’s daughter at half his age?

This can seem like an impossible situation unless you’re Bob and you’re in it. But Bob found a way through it. I’m sure it’s not easy, but it’s a route he can have faith in. Because Bob’s basically been told that this love and sexuality is an aspect of his wife’s disease. Even if they move her to another home, it isn’t likely to change. So Bob asked the only intelligent, loving question left. “Is she happy when she’s with him?”

I’m confident it was a very difficult answer to give him because it was overwhelmingly affirmative. Yes, she and the stranger she met in hospital appear to love each other very much and both seem happiest and healthiest when they’re together. Bob’s wife is happier and more alive if she is allowed to experience her love with another man.

Can you imagine the position Bob is in? Can you imagine that you’ve planned your retirement and just as you’re getting close to the point where you hit what you thought would be the easiest period of your lives together, instead you’re not only entirely forgotten about, but moreover you must actually approve of, and even in strange ways pay for, your spouse to have a powerful romantic and sexual relationship with someone else? Wow.

This is the height of love because what has Bob done? He’s put his wife’s needs before his own. He volunteers to suffer so that his wife may have peace and happiness. That’s as generous a love as we can have. Bob wants his wife to be happy, even if that means she’s happiest with someone else.

If Bob can do all this, then I’m sure the rest of us can do better than we’re doing. So let’s all take Bob as an example and, for the rest of this week, do your best to put the needs of your partner ahead of yourself. And while I do feel for Bob, I’m also happy that his spiritual courage has lead him to experience the greatest form of love that anyone can partake in. Because as daunting as it may be, we should all be more like Bob.

peace. s

PS You can follow the link above to hear Bob tell his own story.

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

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.

2014’s Blog of the Year!

588 Relax and Succeed - No suffering befalls the man*

Last year you to chose Fly Like an Eagle as Blog of the Year. It’s uplifting and inspiring—it’s a story about some birds. But this year I give you guys six months to ask questions, and now all of a sudden this year’s winner is about sex! 🙂 I’m kidding. Sex is part of life. There’s no reason it shouldn’t win. The taboo approach to serious conversations about sex mean that any frank discussion of the subject is usually welcome. This post has basically been read every day steadily since the very first day it was posted. And even if you’re not into the specific things it discusses, you still might find it opens your mind a bit regarding whatever it is you are interested in. It’s not dirty, but it’s about sex and it has a video, so I don’t see its popularity waning anytime soon. So without further ado I am pleased to present my readers with your choice for 2014’s Blog of the Year!

CLICK BELOW TO READ:

2014’s Blog of the Year!

peace. s

Life Phases

In 1969 Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote the book, On Death and Dying in which she defined the five stages of death. She was careful to point out that it was not necessarily a comprehensive list, or that it would apply to absolutely everyone, but she was—like I am—more interested in what makes us the same than the few factors that make us different.

560 Relax and Succeed - Denial anger bargaining depression acceptanceKubler-Ross eventually noticed that these stages applied to any powerful personal loss from a job to a relationship, and for each of us the process is much the same. Can you see how, despite the fact that you can feel alone and different and insecure, that you are ultimately just like all of us? That the experiences we traverse throughout our lifetimes have—internally to our consciousness—all been very much the same? When we recognize this fact, empathy rises. We don’t see another person’s situation from our perspective, we’re able to see it from theirs.

Of course there are similarities like this all over the place. That’s all my accident allowed me to notice—was that there was patterns in human behaviour and interaction. Humans can all seem quite messy and illogical when we view it from our ego’s perspective, but if you can detach the ego and look at it all long enough and carefully enough, it always makes logical sense. We’re all just following patterns of behaviour that are the logical results of what’s happening just like plants try to find light and water.

We all want to achieve a conscious sense of belonging and to achieve it we first must develop a sense of being lost separate, and only then can we learn to consciously return to the state of oneness that we all experienced as infants. And even if we never reach that ultimate realization through awareness and meditation, we will still achieve it shortly before death at which time you return to being what you were before you were born.

560 Relax and Succeed - It feels good to be lostTo help make the point clearly, I’ll give you another example. I’ll often have people come to me after their divorce because they’re concerned about their own behaviour, which feels erratic, variously cloying and closed off, and especially the ladies will be concerned about their sex lives. The reason this is a pattern in my practice is because it’s a pattern for all of you. Whether you got left or did the leaving, you’re either shocked at where you are or you just feel you’re away. Away from the bad marriage. But only in those cases where someone left their partner for another partner does the person know for sure that they will be accepted into another relationship. The rest of people suddenly realize that they now have to do the same things they did in high school and university—namely be attractive enough in a variety of ways to appeal to someone that you would actually find appealing.

This all leads to a period of longing. A desire to have your desirability affirmed. A need to be held, to be told we’re beautiful, to feel like we could be accepted again. How this translates is usually pretty slutty. A lot of guilt disappears when someone finds out that having one sexual partner for 25 years and then 15 in one year is actually quite normal—it’s just most people don’t talk about these things in public. At least not about all of them, because you will get pretty needy at times and your radar for partners will start to sweep a lot wider to find someone. And it’s understandable that people would not want to be judged for a “weak moment.”

After slutting around a bit, another phase kicks in that involves reality. There are financial implications to being alone and this is when people usually start to realize that, even if it was them that left, their problems are not over because their marriage is done. They still have bills, and those are even worse as one person. Likewise with child care. And now you have to fit dating and all the stuff your partner used to do for you into your schedule. Life can feel pretty overwhelming at this point, which is usually when I get a call.

560 Relax and Succeed - Do not feel lonelyAgain, this is a phase, so eventually you figure out how to be alone and that’s when people usually start entertaining truly healthy relationships that build on the knowledge they gleaned from their previous relationships. I know I’ve been increasingly better at how to find a good match for me as I’ve matured and, while I wasn’t a super terrible husband, there is no doubt that every girl after my divorce got the treatment my ex-wife actually deserved had I recognized those elements of a marriage back then.

Life is phases. A lot of what I do is contextualize my clients experiences relative to being human. They find real comfort in my acceptance of where they are as perfectly fine, no matter where that is. My job doesn’t care where you start. We all go the same direction using the same awareness, so it’s really a matter of downloading your ideas about what you think is happening and instead making you aware enough that you can see what is truly happening so that you can respond to that instead of an illusion.

You are not alone. The feelings you are feeling have been felt by billions and billions of other people and probably most animals too. Don’t lament these phases any more than you would lament the sad or scary scenes in a good movie. They are all a part of a great story—yours. So live it fully and deeply and with the least amount of second-guessing possible.

Now go have yourself a wonderful day.

peace. s

Parenting vs Exampling

It is extremely common for parents to come to me with what they feel are problem children. They talk about behavioral issues, worrisome friends, disrespect, aloofness, bad grades, or casual sex etc. Certainly there’s almost always at least a few kids in my roster who genuinely need some serious help from me, but I’m happy to report that most don’t need much. In fact, in most cases the kid barely needs me at all. Because the issue actually isn’t with the kid. And it’s not with the parents either. But it is with the parenting.

549 Relax and Succeed - The kids who need the most loveAgain: this isn’t to say the parents are bad. Their dedication isn’t an issue, and all of them are intelligent, successful people in whatever life path they pursued. They bring their kids to me because they love them and want them to do well. They’ve invested time and money and effort and endured all kinds of things before they meet me. And always, the kid in front of me is—despite their issues—impressive in all sorts of ways. So the parents have overwhelmingly succeeded, despite a few lingering concerns. In the end, the problem is really very simple: it’s just that most people don’t parent as consciously as they believe they do, so once I help them become more conscious they certainly don’t need any advice from me.

Parents will believe they’re putting a lot into their parenting by giving a lot of thought to their kid’s development and their “issues.” And they are putting a lot in, in a way. But it’s largely wasted energy because their parenting is choosing and inflating those issues unconsciously as a reflective or reciprocal resp0nse to the parenting they got. So if you feel like your life would have gone better if you paid more attention in school and your parents never pushed you in school, then you will be more urgent about trying to get your children to do well in class. But it’s also logical that if you did well in school and that brought rewards, then you will also urge your child to do really well so they can have those rewards too. Yet at the same time, it makes sense that a kid who is 549 Relax and Succeed - Make the ordinary come alivepushed too hard could crater and drop out from the pressure, even though they’re smart. The point is, you’ll act a lot like your parents, or a lot like the opposite of your parents, and you’ll do this in super subtle ways that you will find largely invisible, except for a few key issues (“Oh my God, I sound like my Mother!!”)

So most parenting is based in fear, and on the act of trying to prevent bad things from happening, and the parents choose the bad things they’re most afraid of based on their own lives and the parenting they got. If your mother’s sister died from drowning then you can bet that you’ll be taught to be extra wary when you’re near water. Or if your dad was never home because he was always working, you will have unconsciously learned to leave work exactly on time for the rest of your life, because you want to get home to your kids. Those are the kinds of motivations that create unconscious parenting.

Can you see how that’s like a crazy chain of misinformation and misunderstanding? You don’t need to manage a kid’s life like you’re their agent. There’s little need to focus on individual areas of a child if they feel fully actualized by parents who are parenting under the automatic assumption that their kid will be a successful human being. Not in an egotistical, materialistic 549 Relax and Succeed - The best security blanketway, but rather they will be confident enough to do as well as they should at whatever they try. So some things they’ll be built for, other things not so much, but they’ll feel secure doing either. We’re all crappy at some things, so if a parent’s focused on their child’s weak points, the child will soon have no self esteem and that is the worst blow of all.

If you really want to have an effect, the most effective form of parenting is exampling. If you and your spouse yell at each other, then you have no business telling your kid not to yell. That’s ridiculous. So they have to live to a higher standard than you? No wonder they’re sassy; you’re a hypocrite. And if you’re constantly focused on their bad classes and wanting them to do great in every subject, then again—they’re doomed. No one is good at everything. 80% of the world believes they are bad a math. For God’s sake, let them be a human. They’re allowed not to be good at things and so are you. Everyone gets that by birth.

School and sports have become like the stock market. They drive people insane. The book publishing industry was historically a 4-6% profit business. But then big international media companies bought all the publishers and because they were publicly traded, they wanted the same 15% a year that all their other businesses are whipped into providing—as though 6% is a failure. But of course, the desire of the market to make 15% does not change the state of the world any more than the existence of schools and classes means that kids should be good at 549 Relax and Succeed - The educational systemevery subject that gets invented. It doesn’t matter if you want 15% or A’s, sometimes 6% and C’s are all that’s available. And it seems cruel to whip a zebra because it’s not a horse.

Most people are much, much smarter than they give themselves credit for. But they limit themselves with narratives that they’re stupid or incapable. And those scripts come from responding to the demands of parents. You don’t want to push a kid into a subject, you want them to be inspired toward it. And for the few things they’ll suck at, you can use those as life lessons about how everyone has things they struggle at and that’s okay.

So the best thing you can do is, if you want your kids to focus, focus yourself. If you want them to speak respectfully, then speak respectfully yourself. If you want them to be kind to others, then be kind to others 549 Relax and Succeed - Behind every great kidyourself. If you want them to get their stuff done, get your stuff done. And if you want them to care about something, don’t demand it. Care about it yourself. Because you don’t build a kid. You nurture one, and they’ll grow toward the light.

Forget talk-parenting. Forget lessons. Take some responsibility for their behaviour. Example what you want to see. Show it to them and they’ll amaze you.

I normally would have stopped at the previous paragraph but I want to take a moment to stress that the example above is common. A lot of my current and past clients read the blog regularly and it’s remarkable to me how often they all constantly believe a blog is about them specifically. It shows how much we’re all the same. These are always amalgamations and re-creations of many experiences. So if you’re insecure about you’re parenting, this truly isn’t about any individual, it’s about you the human being. And I do hope it helps de-stress you so that you and your child can more fully enjoy each other’s company. Because I’m confident you’re doing a better job than you think you are.

with love, s