Lesbian Love – Marry her in fashion: book workshop, post the date, share news

Lesbian Love – Marry her in fashion: book workshop, post the date, share news

Spread the news, you can enrich your lesbian love life with more knowledge than books can teach (no matter what those book reviews say), more intimacy than date nights can provide (no matter how high your fashion) and before you  marry the love of your life,  finish reading this post and do a little happy dance like you’re Ellen, because you have stumbled across something that’s kind of a big deal.  If I say so myself.

 

When I finally “knew” what I wanted to be when I grow up, I never looked back. First, Oprah introduced me to Harville Hendricks and his Imago theory (well, me and millions of other viewers).  Then after hearing incredible book reviews for his book, “Getting the love you want,” by I knew I needed to read it.  What a life-changer for me.  Everything about my own relationships started to make more sense.  Lesbian love.  What a scarcely discussed topic.  In my early 20’s when I was coming out aa s lesbian and looking for love, there was nothing to help with how to date, there was no Ellen to normalize being gay, it was not in fashion what so ever, and a post like this didn’t exist!  If it was in the news it was because of things like “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” and to think of having the option to marry was unheard of!

Times, they are a changing though.  Lesbian love is alive and kicking!  I have built much of my professional life around understanding lesbians and their relationships.  First, I had to get a good understanding of relationships.  Next, I had to see how much of these heterosexual concepts apply to lesbians.  Then I had to figure out what is missing.  After doing all of that, I decided I better just post all of this information together and create a lesbian couples workshop.  So I did. I call it, The Couples Weekend. Clever, right?

  

When are your next couples workshops?

Updated WORKSHOP DATES ARE listed here.

 

 What is the typical schedule for you two-day workshop?

I usually schedule workshops on Saturday and Sunday.  We typically meet from 12pm-5pm Saturday and 9:30am-5 00 pm Sunday. There is a 75-minute lunch break, with lots of nearby options to get your nutrition.

  

Do you have a way to notify people when you schedule your next workshop?

To be notified by email of the next available couple’s weekend, simply email me on my contact form (scroll to the bottom of the page), and I will share the news with you when the next workshop is scheduled.

1000_Black

 

What is The Couple’s Weekend?

As a Certified Imago Therapist, Michele O’Mara has created a unique blend of all that is amazing about the Getting the Love You Want Imago Therapy weekend, with specific skills, resources, information and exercises designed especially for same-sex couples.  To learn more about Imago Theory, you can read this post I wrote. The weekend is an incredible opportunity for same-sex couples from across the United States to spend a weekend intentionally focused on creating (or improving) an OUTstanding relationship!

The weekend is a unique blend of education (concrete skills, and information about improving your relationship), processing (discussion of the new skills and information shared), and exercises (done privately with your own partner – not in front of the group).

REGISTER HERE

REGISTER at least 15 days prior to the weekend to save $100

 

What Can I expect to gain from The Weekend? 

  • Learn the 10 essential ingredients of an outstanding relationship and how to apply them to your relationship

  • Learn new skills to improve your communication and connection with your partner

  • Participate in your own in-depth relationship review

  • Create a personalized relationship improvement plan

    A fun weekend spent with other same-sex couples in a comfortable setting

 

Will we have to talk about our personal issues in front of other couples?

There will be opportunities for couples to volunteer to role-play a skill, but your level of disclosure about your relationship is entirely up to you. Important News Flash:  You do not have to share anything about your relationship with the other couples that you do not want to.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that your benefit directly correlates to your sharing, howwwwwever, the choice remains yours.

 

What kind of couples will be there?

The Weekend is open to gay and lesbian couples. This is a great resource for any couple. You may already have a strong relationship and use The Weekend as a way to tune-in to and tune-up your relationship, or you may be struggling to find your way back to each other. There will be a mixture of couples – some functioning better than others, but all with a desire to improve their relationship!

REGISTER HERE

 Can you describe what The Weekend will be like once we are there?

We will convene in a meeting room around a large table that is casual, intimate and functional. There will be breaks to stretch and snack (beverages/snacks provided).

There will be a blend of education (lectures), process (discussion about what we are learning as it applies to your relationship), and exercises. All exercises are done privately with your partner, separate from the group. Michele O’Mara will observe each couple doing their exercises and be available to guide and support your individual work.

What makes this such a good financial investment in our relationship?

This is less than half the cost of the equivalent amount of couple’s counseling! Payment plans are available if necessary, and we do accept Visa and Mastercard as payment options.

 

REGISTER HERE

 

 How does The Weekend compare to couple’s counseling?

 The Weekend is about building OUTstanding relationships. The emphasis is on strengthening relationships, creating a hopeful, forward-moving momentum on which you can continue building and strengthening your relationship. Though this is not counseling, and in many ways is more like an intensive class on relationships, The Weekend does offer you all of the benefits of counseling and more. The Weekend is designed to bring out the best in both you and your partner, for the good of your relationship.

 

Why should we sign up?

Receive 75% more for your investment. For the same cost as 2.5 couple’s counseling sessions, you can receive 12 hours of tools, education, counseling and a rare opportunity for peer-couples support and inclusion in a community of health-oriented couples!  12 hours of couple’s counseling = $1560 or 12 hours of couple’s weekend = $550 ($275 each), if you register 15 days in advance, or $650 ($325 each) if you register less than 15 days prior to the workshop.

  • Expedite your healing, insight, and relationship growth.  Receive three months worth of counseling in one weekend by attending The Couples Workshop!!

  • Enjoy the benefit of learning from other couples, their experiences, and gain insight and support from other couples – an up-close look at lesbian love that you can not get anywhere else!

 If we are traveling from out of town, where should we stay?

There is a brand new hotel that is literally within walking distance from the workshop, too.  My last call to them informed me that one-bedroom is $59/night and the two-bedroom is roughly $65/night – you will need to see how accurate this is, and I have never been to the actual motel, I only know it’s very new.

Whitehouse Motel 

Address: 2688 E Main St, Plainfield, IN 46168 

Phone:(317) 839-9358

You can also explore hotels near the Indianapolis International Airport. The airport is less than ten minutes from the workshop location (which is 2680 E Main Street, Plainfield, IN 46168).

 

What have other lesbians said about this weekend?

  • lesbian love“I learned a huge, vulnerable spot for [my partner] and saw how it plays out in our relationship. Also, I identified a big hole in my past that affects how I connect with her.”

  • “Michele was funny, entertaining, and so wise with wonderful words of wisdom, compassion, and understanding.”

  • “You must be willing to explore your inner depths. If you are willing, you will be rewarded many times over.”

  • “I have learned many things about my partner and myself that I didn’t have a clue this is why I sometimes act the way we do. The communication style is going to be helpful for us!”

  • “This experience was life changing!!!”

  • “It was phenomenal.”

Tell me when your next workshop is scheduled!

3 + 15 =

Imago Relationship Therapy / Couple Therapy / Imago Therapist / Imago Workshop

Imago Relationship Therapy / Couple Therapy / Imago Therapist / Imago Workshop

Understanding Imago Relationship Therapy

IMAGO THERAPY AND WORKSHOPS WITH A CERTIFIED IMAGO THEARPIST

 

 

What is Imago Relationship Therapy?

Imago relationship therapy (pronounced “ehm – mah – go”) is a type of couple therapy (and also an imago workshop) that is based on the work of Harville Hendrix, which you can read about in his book, Getting the Love You Want.

 

Understanding Imago Relationship Therapy, starts with understanding “IMAGO?”

During our childhood, we develop an imprint of the positive and negative traits of our primary caregivers. This  imprint is a collection of images and experiences that are both conscious and unconscious, and they form  what  is called our “IMAGO.” Imago is simply another word for image. This imprint or “imago” represents what is familiar, which includes both the good experiences as well as the uncomfortable ones. This imago, over time,  develops into an unconscious guiding force in our life. It serves as a map, directing us toward others who fit this image. Similar to a magnet that has the capacity to both attract and repel, our imago is able to do  the same.

Unlike a magnet though, we are generally not aware (we are unconscious) of it when it happens.  The magnetic force in our imago has the ability to magically pull into our lives all of the people, relationships and experiences that we need in order to recreate many of the painful aspects of our childhood. And likewise, the magnetic force of our imago tends to repel those people, experiences, and situations that do not fit with what is familiar.

Why you ask? Imago relationship therapy is based on the theory that once we experience hurts in our childhood, we spend our lives trying to heal them. If we feel unloved, not good enough, invisible, unimportant, not special or any other hurtful feeling as a child, we go to great lengths throughout our lives to reverse these feelings, to heal. Unfortunately, the trap we often fall into is believing that we can outrun these hurts; that we can get out of this relationship and find another, better one that will work.

Over time, and after several relationships, it becomes obvious (well, with the help of couple therapy), that we continue to unconsciously recreate these feelings and situations in each relationship we encounter. And in the unlikely, but possible event, that we attract a partner who does not fit our imago, we may just provoke those behaviors in our partner that do match our imago!  Our imago helps explain why we are mysteriously and often magnetically drawn to one person and not others.

With this theory, it is also suggested that we do not actually “fall” into love, rather we “fall” into infatuation or lust. Love is more of a decision, a choice.  Just as it becomes a choice or decision to not love. The notion of choosing to love is not to be confused with choosing our sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is more likely a function of genetics and other forces beyond our control. Choice in this context infers that once we become infatuated, (to the gender of our inherent sexual orientation) we make a choice to move those feelings further along a continuum, to deepen our commitment. We choose to give ourselves the opportunity to enter a more profound, more deeply felt place of love that comes in time through our contact and commitment to another.

STAGES OF LOVE RELATIONSHIP

According to the theory of Imago relationship therapy, there are several stages of development in a love relationship. The first two stages occur in our unconscious mind. These are the Romantic Love and Power Struggle.

STAGE ONE:  Romantic Love [unconscious]

The first of these, the Romantic Love is the period of attraction that brings two people together, often with passion, intrigue, excitement, and anticipation. Our bodies are flooded with a natural feel-good neurotransmitter called Phenylethylamine (PEA) which is also present in chocolate. This neurotransmitter has the ability to heighten our sense of pleasure. Consider the start of some of your relationships—the initial weeks and months of spending time together.

Can you recall the food you tasted, the music you listened to, the places you spent time, the scent of perfumes/colognes—all of your senses come to life heightening the pleasure you experience in everyday activities? PEA can last anywhere from 3 minutes to one year, but inevitably it fades. The Imago theory of relationships suggests that PEA is nature’s way of bringing (often incompatible!) people together long enough to commit to one another. And once the commitment occurs—whether that is a decision to live together, to share finances, to have a child, to have a commitment event/marriage, or something else, the power struggle begins.

STAGE TWO: Power Struggle [unconscious]

Interestingly, 60 percent of all heterosexual relationships end in divorce.  The rate for gays and lesbians would be nearly impossible to determine as there is no systematic measurement in our society that allows us to measure relationship commitments among same-sex couples. Of the 40 percent of heterosexuals who remain married, about 5 percent actually make it through the power struggle without an intervention such as counseling. While we are in Romantic Love, all we want to focus on is our similarities. However, as time progresses, so too does our understanding of one another, and our differences naturally emerge. When these differences surface, the power struggle is on.

Ironically, we often pick a partner that has a difficult time meeting our needs. If we crave closeness and connection, we are likely to be drawn to the partner who struggles with intimacy and contact. If we need a lot of distance and space, we are likely to find ourselves with someone who desires a lot of closeness, and who is maybe even a little clingy. What one partner most needs, is often what the other partner most needs to learn to give. It is in this exchange, the meeting of one another’s needs, that the healing begins to occur. In the less common case where our partner does not match what is familiar, we will provoke it! And to no surprise, the more energetic the Romantic Love is, the greater the Power Struggle is likely to be. Unfortunately, most couples spend their whole relationships at this stage, never progressing beyond the struggles.

What can imago couple therapy do to move beyond the power struggle?

Often this is where couple therapy with a certified Imago Therapist comes in. To move beyond the power struggle, a couple must become conscious of their thoughts and feelings. This consciousness occurs in four different areas and leads to the ultimate goal of Real Love. The following represent the four areas of conscious work that couples must move through in order to reach Real Love.

Make a commitment [conscious]

This involves making a conscious choice to work on the relationship and to help one another heal. A commitment requires that we close our exits—eliminating people, places, things, and activities that give us an escape from fully being in a relationship. This may include: setting clearer boundaries with our families of origin so that our new partnership is the priority; or dealing with our addictions to food, drugs/alcohol, sex, and work; or ceasing involvement in friendships with people that distract and tempt you from your partner.

Seek Knowledge [conscious]

We must seek support and information. We need to go to a place of curiosity about one another and to be willing to see each other in a fresh new way. We need to let go of old assumptions and open ourselves to the knowledge of who is partner really is and what she or he wants and needs. As we go through life, we learn to associate what being loved means with all of the experiences we have had so far.

Sometimes, we respond to people who care about us as if they are all the same person (our imago) and we make assumptions that “we’ll never be a priority,” or “they’ll always leave me,” or “I’ll never be good enough.” These assumptions come from within us—and we need to be conscious of these so that we do not paste them onto our partners who may or may not fit the description. Gaining this knowledge and learning to know our partner for whom he or she is, frees us to transform ourselves.

Experience a transformation [conscious]

In this phase, there are many changes. This is a period of renovation, where partners have committed to do the work of healing, they have sought the knowledge and resources to assist in their process, and now they are doing the actual work. Partners are re-examining their relationship vision, their romance, their identity, and any outdated beliefs about one another that need to be overhauled. This transformation includes empathy for one another, validating one another’s experiences and beliefs, and stretching who we are to include that which our partner needs us to be. The transformation stage opens up the door to all kinds of possibilities and leaves us feeling hopeful and renewed about the prospect of achieving real love.

Enjoy your awakening [conscious]

In our awakening, we become more aware of our own journey—learning about what it is that we bring to relationships that do not work. We move the focus from ourselves to our relationship with our partner. We use the skills we have acquired to meet our own needs as well as those of our partner—nurturing our relationship by tending to one another’s hurts. We become more aware of the parts of ourselves that we have disowned and that needs healing. And with our partner’s help, we begin to heal. This healing journey then leads us into the final stage of Real Love.

STAGE THREE:  Real love [conscious]

Real love is what we have come to associate with unconditional. This unconditional love, however, includes unconditional giving, receiving, valuing, and it leads to a spiritual intimacy that is deeper and more stable than that of romantic love and romance. This comes from really knowing ourselves, and really knowing our partners. Real Love is a non-defensive way of relating which evolves from feeling safe, and good enough, and healed with our partner. Real Love allows us to live with full aliveness and joy. Real Love involves no expectations in the way we relate. It is a natural connectedness and oneness that respects the individuality of each partner without moving to change one another into clones of oneself. Real Love is spontaneous and free. It’s the greatest gift we have to give one another.

What is an Imago Therapist?

As a Certified Imago Therapist, Michele O’Mara, PhD is specially trained in couple therapy, and offers imago therapy to all couples, as well as her own version of the imago workshop called the lesbian couples retreat, created specifically for lesbian couples.  An Imago trained counselor participates in an intensive two year training program (after completing a minimum of a master’s level counseling program). The Imago therapist training involves a rigorous exploration of how we make our partner selection (the source of our attractions); how relational behaviors are impacted by our characterological growth (including that of the therapist), and how to make conscious the developmental wounds we experience in childhood; how to address difficult couples issues; and how to assist couples in communicating effectively. 

What is the Imago Workshop?lesbian couples retreat, couples therapy, lesbian couples, lesbian, lesbians

The typical Imago Workshop is provided by imago therapists who have taken an advanced training through Imago Relationships International. This workshop is not the same as my Couples Weekend, however, as an imago-trained therapist, I included many key concepts of the Imago theory, including the Intentional Dialogue, the Stages of Relationship Development, the impact of our characterological development on our partner selection, and more.

 

ABOUT CERTIFIED IMAGO THERAPIST, Michele O’Mara, PhD

Certified Imago Therapist

 

Got Questions?

9 + 8 =

ABOUT Michele O’Mara, LCSW, Ph.D.

Relationships are my thing. Some would say, my obsession. While I only scored an 83.75% on my own "How Lesbian Are You" test,  don't let that fool you. Since returning to school in the '90s for my MSW, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: help lesbian couples grow love. 

I am that person who has built her life around one thing: lesbian relationships and women loving women. For fun, I do things like create online quizzes at asklesbians.com, to learn more about real lesbians. Or I write books. like, "Just Ask: 1,000 Questions to Grow Your Relationship," to give couples an easy way to communicate. (www.1000question.app) And, now that our boys are young men, my love, and my wife, Kristen, and I are growing lesbian love through Lesbian Couples Retreats and The Lesbian Roadshow throughout the U.S. in awesome destinations where our motto is, "love out loud" with Adventures in Love.  You can learn more about those at lesbiancouples.co.

Happy Lesbian Couples Strategy 12:  Regular Relationship Check-in

Happy Lesbian Couples Strategy 12: Regular Relationship Check-in

Do you engage in regular and simple relationship check-ins?

I recommend that every couple set aside a minimum of thirty minutes each week to do what I call a regular relationship check-in.  This is an important opportunity to remain mindful and aware of how your relationship is going.  When you allow life to fill up your schedule, and you cease to make time to connect with your partner, it is easy for the months to accumulate and to find yourself so far down the road that you don’t know how you got there.  Routine check-ins will help prevent this from happening.

Though there is no “right” way to do your check-ins, here are some guidelines to help you in the process of your regular relationship check-in.:

  1. Summarize your feelings about how you experienced the previous week. For example, “I feel like we’ve had a great week and I feel really connected to you.”
  2. Share your observations—both the good and the frustrating experiences in your relationship—about how things unfolded. For example, “I noticed that we were both taking more time to talk together and I think that really helped me feel more connected to you.”
  3. Communicate your insights about how you can use this as information to continue improving your relationship. For example, “I think it would be a great idea for us really to commit to spending more time just talking because I really want to feel connected to you on a regular basis.”

Your Partner’s Turn Now. Once you complete steps 1-3, then your partner shares her observations. Discuss any differences in your observations. This is simply a time where you literally observe how you are doing as a couple and what you like about how things are going and what you would like to see be different.  To make this a regular relationship check-in, it is essential to do this regularly, ideally on a monthly basis.

Helpful Guidelines

This time is NOT about:

  1. regular relationship check inproblem solving
  2. being defensive or sensitive
  3. criticizing or attacking

If you find yourself engaged in any of the above, chances are you have not selected the right time to do your regular relationship check-in, or, you have allowed too many issues to accumulate and not enough time to address them until now.  If you can not find a way to engage in a routine check-in, you may want to seek some support to help you over the hump.
This exercise is designed to create a much more conscious relationship by being as aware as possible about the influences on your connection with one another and on your relationship’s happiness.

Happy Lesbian Relationship Strategy 10:  Respond to Your Partner’s Feedback

Happy Lesbian Relationship Strategy 10: Respond to Your Partner’s Feedback

How often do you respond to your partner’s feedback?

Oh how I wish I had a dollar for every partner I have heard say to the other, “You knew I was this way when we got together.” Here’s the deal. Committing to a relationship is not an agreement to stop growing. Happy lesbian couples realize that each partner is expected to continue developing as a human being and improving as a partner.  It’s how we humans are built.  We learn and grow as we experience life.

Securing a relationship is not an invitation to stop growing. In fact, you might find yourself kicked to the curb if you are more attached to remaining the same than you are attached to becoming the best version of yourself possible.

When you fall in love, you fall in love with both the person you see in the here and now, as well as the vision you have for who that person will become. You are making an investment in your future, feeling solid about the person you are committing to today, yet anticipating that your relationship investment will grow.

Two key ingredients affect how you grow in the context of your relationship. The first key to personal growth stems from the personal observations, insights, lessons, experiences you have, and the work that you do to grow yourself. This might occur through intentional efforts such as completing a degree, advancing your career, staying physically fit, learning new hobbies, engaging in personal growth activities such as reading, journaling, or therapy. The choices you have to enhance your life are endless!

The second key to personal growth in the context of your relationship is through the observations, insights, lessons, experiences and the work that your partner invests in herself to grow.

Often, your partner will observe in you characteristics with which you are not comfortable. You may reject her observations and actually accuse her of being mean or insensitive. If you reject your partner’s observations and feedback, you are rejecting one of the most valuable gifts your relationship has to offer you.

Your partner has the capacity to see you in ways that no one else can. And when she communicates her observations, you have the choice to respond to your partner’s feedback and grow.  Because of this front-row view into your life, your partner is able to mirror for you, parts of yourself that you do not always want to see. You may hear complaints such as: “you are too generous,” “you work too much,” “you need to stop drinking so much,” “you are sleeping too much,” but in reality, these observations are invitations to improve your life.  When you respond to your partner’s feedback, you are accepting an invitation to grow.  respond to your partners feedback

These invitations don’t always come in nice envelopes; sometimes they are wrapped in emotions such as anger, frustration, and disappointment. If the delivery of this feedback is insensitive, it can be hurtful. Though the facts usually remain, there are areas of your life that are in dire need of improvement. You can resist out of spite, hurt, or anger; or you can grab a hold of this gift, the gift of honest feedback, and use it to improve your life.

The question I encourage you to ask yourself, when your partner makes a request of you, is this: “Will doing this add to, or take away from my life?” If the answer is “add to” then it seems like a win-win. What do you have to lose?

If you are struggling with the concept of what “taking away” from you means, you can ask yourself this question: “If I honor this request, you are accepting an invitation to grow and work to change in the ways my partner is asking me to, am I compromising a core value that defines who I am and what I am about?” This helps separate the things that you simply don’t want to do—like clean the house or take out the trash—from things that take away from your core values or your core sense of self, such as asking you to change your religion to hers.

Be sure to clarify the difference between something that doesn’t feel good, and something that is not good for you. If you choose to respond to your partner’s feedback, you are accepting an invitation to grow.  changing because it is no fun or you don’t like to do something, then you are likely rejecting an important opportunity to become a better version of yourself!

Find peace when you develop an observing, curious mind

Find peace when you develop an observing, curious mind

Is your mind inclined toward judgment or did you develop an observing, curious mind?

 

Somehow, when I think about an observing, curious mind, I think about my childhood home on a cul-de-sac.  I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, in a large neighborhood, on a cul-de-sac. This was probably akin to today’s vinyl villages; only vinyl wasn’t a thing you built houses with then (even the three pigs knew that). My particular childhood cul-de-sac was a street that led to a stop sign, where you could either turn left or right to leave the neighborhood or continue forward to the other side of the same street, only to find yourself at another cul-de-sac.  So, essentially, you could circle my street as many times as you wanted without ever leaving the neighborhood, just pausing to cross the street that could actually take you somewhere new.

an observing, curious mindBear with me, this does relate to an observing, curious mind.  As a parent, I can appreciate that cul-de-sacs are great for safety.  There is rarely unexpected traffic because unless you live on that street, there is nowhere to go, except back from where you came.  The neighbors who travel down the street can likely predict which houses may have a little fella chasing a ball into the street, or the three little girls speeding in and out of driveways, pretending to be Charlie’s Angels on their bikes (flashback, sorry).  This makes a cul-de-sac much safer than a road that allows for new and unexpected traffic. 

Cul-de-sac THINKING, however, is not so safe. When you have one way of thinking that leads to the same dead end, you will always end up in the same place.  You cannot expand your mind without allowing in new information.  Unfortunately, the illusion of safety that comes with cul-de-sac thinking makes it very tempting to lean into judgment, rather than observation.  Judgment says, “I know.” Observation says, “I’m curious.”  Observation allows us to take in new information, to notice things in new ways, and to consider changing our thinking about our understanding of things.  The key is to develop an observing, curious mind.

Judgment is choosing to go straight at the stop sign, leading you right back to another cul-de-sac.  Judgment, or the stories we make up, keeps us closed to new information.

For many, the pain of what we know feels safer than the illusion of pain that accompanies the unknown.  For example, many people stay stuck in unsatisfying jobs, relationships, friendships, houses, cities, etc… because they fear they will not find something better; or worse yet, that they aren’t worthy of more.  This is an example of a judgment that keeps people stuck.  This is what people in pain do.  They engage in cul-de-sac thinking. They think the same thoughts over and over, convincing themselves that their pain is unchangeable.  How do we know what we don’t know?  How do we know that there are no more rewarding jobs (or occupations, for that matter) that can support us well, or ways to improve our relationships, or our location, etc?  We don’t.  We just convince ourselves we do.

What would happen if you turned left or right at the middle of those two cul-de-sacs, and actually left the neighborhood?  (Go left and you’ll head toward my best friend Kirsten’s childhood home, go right and you will find the YMCA – both very healthy choices).  Choosing a new direction requires you to ask yourself a different question.  Instead of viewing your pain as a permanent situation, you receive it as it is intended – as a signal that something must change for you to find relief.  You do not pre-judge what needs to change; you simply open your mind to the possibilities.

  • Notice what brings you pain.  (“I hate my job.”)  Pain is the signal from our self, to our self, that something needs our attention.  It is wise to be grateful for our pain because it offers us the contrast needed to know what it is we desire. Pain is not the focus though, it is the signal that tells us where to point our attention.
  •  Identify your desire, which is always the opposite of your pain: (“I love my job.”) You start with what it is you desire.   If what bring us pain is, “I hate my job.”  Relief is found in the opposite of this.  The goal on the opposite side of, “I hate my job,” is, “I love my job.”
  • Lastly, find a question that directs your brain toward positive problem solving: (“How can I love my job?”)  You will notice that this question is not, “How can I find a new and better job,” or “How can I get great benefits.”  This question is OPEN.  The question does not presume anything, it simply asks about the ultimate desire – to love my job.  This question can only be found by turning left or right at the stop sign in the middle of the cul-de-sac.

There are so many thoughts to think all of the time.  (Nope, that is not a Winnie the Pooh quote).  The beautiful thing about thoughts is, we actually get to decide what we think.  Try it.  You don’t have to think what your mind is thinking about.  You don’t stop the thoughts you have, you simply choose something else to think about.  What questions are you asking yourself?  Do they direct you down a road that ends in a cul-de-sac, or does it open you up for new information and new answers? Staying open to new information is an essential relationship skill (read more here about healthy relationship goals).

Last week, I was teaching this concept of thinking with an “observing mind,” rather than cul-de-sac thinking, to the staff of Cass and Company, a progressive hair salon in Avon that invests in the happiness and well-being of their stylists and staff! (Amazing, right?)  In my session with them this month, we were discussing the importance of “building an observing mind.”  While discussing how observation is power and judgment is a weakness, one of the stylists shared a story about a time in her life when all she did was observe.  The stylist, Lina, came to the United States from Lithuania many years ago.  She shared that when she first came to the United States, all she did was observe.  Her whole goal was to learn and understand the American culture.  She had no assumptions about anything.  In fact, she said, she was more inclined to believe she knew nothing, so she was 100% open to everything.  Jokingly, she said,  “Now that I’ve been here for so many years, I know everything.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting to approach every situation we are in with the curiosity of a visitor to a new country?  How would we see people, places, and things differently if we assumed nothing, judged nothing, focused on the facts, and stayed in the moment?  That is what an observing mind does.

I’ve always heard, Knowledge is Power, but it seems to me, Curiosity is the real power. Whatever you do, be open to taking a left or a right if you find yourself headed toward a cul-de-sac.

 

Do you know what your imago is and how it can improve your relationship? > find out here

The Kindest

Lana was telling a funny story when her wife, Autumn interrupted her to make sure she told the correct the time of day that this thing she was talking about happened. (Not that it changed the story).  Lana rolled her eyes and continued with the story.  Autumn left to get some snacks for halftime and when she came back, Lana criticized her for bringing a mustard packet for her hot dog.  “Why, after ten years together, would you think I’d want  mustard on my hotdog?” (Autumn has had two hotdogs in their lives together, and she couldn’t remember how she liked them.  She wanted to be safe, not sorry).  Have you ever been around a couple like this?

Often in relationships, we like to be right. Sometimes it feels like a win.  And yet, how can that be – if we are right, the one we love must be wrong.  Does it really feel good to believe that someone we love is wrong? Either we both win, or we both lose.  It’s never one of each.

When is the last time you were in competition with your partner to see who could be the kindest? When did you last think to yourself, I‘m going to allow her to have her opinions without having to insert mine? When did you last censor yourself to ensure that only loving and kind words crossed your lips? When did you last go out of your way to do something that made her feel loved, or special or a priority, or important, or valuable to you?  Leave her a love note, just because.  Offer to rub her back, just because.  Take her to that fancy restaurant you don’t really like, just because she does.

What we all want most is acceptance, attention, approval, affection, appreciation, freedom and security.

Unfortunately, we often go about getting these things in all the wrong ways.

We complain when we don’t get appreciation, “You didn’t even notice that I painted the entire exterior of our house, rebuilt the engine in our car, cooked a 12-course meal, and mowed the lawn while you were at work today.”

We distance when we don’t get attention. “Honey, I’ll be late tonight – don’t wait up.”

We pick fights when we don’t get affection. “You never touch me anymore.”

We accuse when we don’t feel a sense of security. “Why are you late?”

We withhold when we don’t get approval. “Nothing. I’m fine.”

We deceive when we don’t feel a sense of freedom. “I wasn’t out with my friends, I was working late.”

If this describes you, I have one question for you: “How’s that working for you?”

Behind every complaint is a desire.

Try this handy little trick. Every time you find yourself about to say something hurtful, do something cold or unfeeling, throw out some “fightin’ words,” or anything else not covered by the umbrella of kindness, challenge yourself to identify the good thing that you do want.  Think about what you desire.

Instead of complaining, say “I’d love to show you some things I did today because it’s important to me that you know how much pride I take in our home…”

Instead of distancing, call home and say, “Any chance we can spend some quality time together tonight if I can cut out of here on time because I want to feel connected to you again.”

Instead of accusing or fighting, say “I’ve missed you, and I’m glad you are here now.”

Instead of withholding or deceiving, be honest. Tell him what you are feeling, tell him what your desire is. Let him in. You didn’t partner with him to shut him out.

If you set your sights on being the kindest, most thoughtful, affectionate, appreciative, accepting and approving partner, I guarantee that your relationship will be a happier place, even if your partner doesn’t change one bit.

Keep it simple, kindness works like magic.

Lana was telling a funny story when her wife, Autumn interrupted her to make sure she told the correct the time of day that this thing she was talking about happened. (Not that it changed the story).  Lana rolled her eyes and continued with the story.  Autumn left to get some snacks for halftime and when she came back, Lana criticized her for bringing a mustard packet for her hot dog.  “Why, after ten years together, would you think I’d want  mustard on my hotdog?” (Autumn has had two hotdogs in their lives together, and she couldn’t remember how she liked them.  She wanted to be safe, not sorry).  Have you ever been around a couple like this?

Often in relationships, we like to be right. Sometimes it feels like a win.  And yet, how can that be – if we are right, the one we love must be wrong.  Does it really feel good to believe that someone we love is wrong? Either we both win, or we both lose.  It’s never one of each.

When is the last time you were in competition with your partner to see who could be the kindest? When did you last think to yourself, I‘m going to allow her to have her opinions without having to insert mine? When did you last censor yourself to ensure that only loving and kind words crossed your lips? When did you last go out of your way to do something that made her feel loved, or special or a priority, or important, or valuable to you?  Leave her a love note, just because.  Offer to rub her back, just because.  Take her to that fancy restaurant you don’t really like, just because she does.

What we all want most is acceptance, attention, approval, affection, appreciation, freedom and security.

Unfortunately, we often go about getting these things in all the wrong ways.

We complain when we don’t get appreciation, “You didn’t even notice that I painted the entire exterior of our house, rebuilt the engine in our car, cooked a 12-course meal, and mowed the lawn while you were at work today.”

We distance when we don’t get attention. “Honey, I’ll be late tonight – don’t wait up.”

We pick fights when we don’t get affection. “You never touch me anymore.”

We accuse when we don’t feel a sense of security. “Why are you late?”

We withhold when we don’t get approval. “Nothing. I’m fine.”

We deceive when we don’t feel a sense of freedom. “I wasn’t out with my friends, I was working late.”

If this describes you, I have one question for you: “How’s that working for you?”

Behind every complaint is a desire.

Try this handy little trick. Every time you find yourself about to say something hurtful, do something cold or unfeeling, throw out some “fightin’ words,” or anything else not covered by the umbrella of kindness, challenge yourself to identify the good thing that you do want.  Think about what you desire.

Instead of complaining, say “I’d love to show you some things I did today because it’s important to me that you know how much pride I take in our home…”

Instead of distancing, call home and say, “Any chance we can spend some quality time together tonight if I can cut out of here on time because I want to feel connected to you again.”

Instead of accusing or fighting, say “I’ve missed you, and I’m glad you are here now.”

Instead of withholding or deceiving, be honest. Tell him what you are feeling, tell him what your desire is. Let him in. You didn’t partner with him to shut him out.

If you set your sights on being the kindest, most thoughtful, affectionate, appreciative, accepting and approving partner, I guarantee that your relationship will be a happier place, even if your partner doesn’t change one bit.

Keep it simple, kindness works like magic.

X