Relationship Alive!

by neilius@neilsattin.com

51m

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Neil Sattin interviews John Gottman, Sue Johnson, Harville Hendrix, Peter Levine, Stan Tatkin, Dick Schwartz, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Diana Richardson, Terry Real, Wendy Maltz - and many others - in his quest to dig deep into all the factors that keep a Relationship Alive and Thriving! Each week Neil brings you an in-depth interview with a relationship expert. Neil is an author and relationship coach who is enthusiastic and passionate about relationships and the nuts and bolts of what makes them last. You can find out more about Neil Sattin and the Relationship Alive podcast at http://www.neilsattin.com

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Last updated on May 28, 2020, 5:23 pm

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166: Are You Addicted to Love and Relationships? - with Sherry Gaba

November 06, 2018 • 58m

Have you ever felt compelled to jump into a new relationship a little too quickly? Is it possible that you’re actually addicted to love and relationships? How would you know? This week, our guest is Sherry Gaba, best-selling author of The Marriage and Relationship Junkie and The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery. Sherry is a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, and Certified Recovery Coach specializing in individual, couples, family, and group psychotherapy - and she is also the editor of Recovery Today magazine. In this episode, you’ll learn what it means to be addicted to love and relationships and where it comes from. We’ll also dive into how you can tell if you’re addicted to love and relationships and what you can do to start on your path toward healthier relationships and connection. As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it! Sponsors: Along with our amazing listener supporters (you know who you are - thank you!), this week's episode is being sponsored by two amazing companies with special offers for you. First are the folks at TakeCareOf.com. Through a unique online quiz, they help you figure out exactly what vitamins and herbal supplements you need to achieve your optimal health. They use high-quality ingredients and can save you as much as 20% over comparable store-bought brands. On top of all that, they are offering you 25% OFF your first month if you visit takecareof.com and use the coupon code “ALIVE” at checkout. RxBar.com makes a whole food protein bar that’s super-tasty – Chloe and I almost always have these with us to help us stay nourished on the go. They’re healthy, easy to digest, and have simple ingredients with no added sugar – plus they’re gluten/dairy/soy-free. You can get 25% OFF your first order by visiting RxBar.com/alive and using the coupon code “ALIVE” at checkout. Valid in the US only.   Resources: Visit the website for Sherry Gaba’s book, The Marriage and Relationship Junkie, to learn more about how to break the cycle of marriage and relationship addiction and live fabulously on your own or with a partner. Visit Sherry Gaba’s main website FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Your Relationship (ALSO FREE) www.neilsattin.com/gaba Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Sherry Gaba. Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out   Transcript: Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. We're here to talk about relationships and yet what brings us into a relationship? Why are we there in the first place? So many of us enter relationships for awesome reasons, sometimes it's less than awesome reasons, and sometimes it's a combination of the two. You feel some magnetic spark with a person, but at the same time, maybe they support you in ways that aren't necessarily healthy for you, or you get trapped in some dynamic that doesn't really make for the best relationship possible. And then you might feel like, "Oh, okay, this relationship ended," and you're ready to go into another relationship, maybe even a little too quickly. And it wouldn't be that uncommon for you to wonder, "Is there something about this? Am I actually addicted to being in relationships? Am I addicted to love? Is there something... What is it that's compelling me to do this?" And I think it's interesting to tease apart what it is that might compel us in an unhealthy way, to enter into a relationship with others, and what's healthy about it? 'Cause when we're talking about addiction, there are positive addictions, as well as negative addictions. So how do you find the balance, and how do you figure out you where you land in terms of your approach to the relationship? Neil Sattin: So we're going to tackle this question about whether or not you might possibly be addicted to love and relationship, how to know and what to do about it. And in order to have that conversation, I have with me today, yet another esteemed guest, her name is Sherry Gaba, and she's a therapist who is also the author of "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie." A book that is available on Amazon, and talks all about this question of how do you find your own path to health in terms of how you relate to others? And of course, that's a conversation we're having all the time here on Relationship Alive because hey, I'm just... I recognize that just like you, there's work to be done. And so, we're going to dive deep into this question around addiction and obsession around love and see if we can come out the other side with some answers. As always, we will have a detailed transcript of today's episode and to download that, all you have to do is visit neilsattin.com/gaba, and you spell that, G-A-B-A, as in Sherry Gaba, our guest for today. Or you can always text the word, "passion" to the number 33444, follow the instructions and I will send you a link where you can download the transcript for this episode. Alright, I think that's all I have to cover today at this moment. Let's dive in. Sherry Gaba, so great to have you here with us on Relationship Alive. Sherry Gaba: What a fantastic introduction, thank you, Neil, that was amazing, and I love what you're doing in the world and loving just getting to know you, I love your energy and I'm just grateful to have this platform today to talk about this really important subject. Neil Sattin: Great, well we're off to a good start then. Sherry Gaba: Yeah. Neil Sattin: So it is a complicated question whether we're drawn into relating with another person for the right reasons or the wrong reasons. Maybe you can help us start to tease that apart, how do we know if the reason that we're seeking out someone else is something that ultimately is going to support our health and growth, and thriving in the world? Sherry Gaba: Well, let's look at addiction in general, if you look at the broader sense of addiction, and love addiction and relationship romance addiction is our subject today. If you look at the broader definition of addiction is when your life is out of control and it's becoming unmanageable and underneath that, you're making choices based on emptiness a feeling of lack, a feeling of not wanting to be alone, that would be a love addiction, feeling like the world is just a really scary place almost terror that, "If I'm not in a relationship, if I'm not connected or hooked up to somebody, then I'm going to "dies," literally. And so, love addiction is really under the umbrella of addiction. Sherry Gaba: It's a process addiction, it's a lifestyle addiction, so think about binge eating, or sex addiction, or being addicted to exercise or internet addiction or gaming, or shopping or spending, those are all lifestyle addictions. So, you're becoming addicted to a mood-altering activity, in other words, your brain really lights up when you're hooking up with whatever it is that you're needing to hook up with, whether it's the food or the love, or the sex or whatever your addiction is. So the relationship for a love addict is the only person's identity. And then if a breakup occurs, the addictive lover is longing for the attachment and the pleasurable feelings of that lost relationship. So just like the drug addict may be withdrawing from his or her drug needing that "fix," the love addict is needing that fix of attachment. Sherry Gaba: And underneath all of us, all of us as human beings we all want to attach, we all want to bond, we all want to connect. But when it becomes unhealthy, and we start making really bad choices around that, then we're stepping into love addiction. For instance, you step into a relationship 'cause you're afraid of being alone like I mentioned earlier, or you're afraid of the unknown, or you get into a relationship where you're trying to change them or fix them and not accepting them for who they are. Needing someone to make you feel whole, because like I mentioned earlier, you feel empty if you're not in a relationship. Looking for others for affirmation and self-worth and for validation rather than already having that within yourself. Being terrorized of abandonment, having those withdrawal symptoms that I mentioned earlier that if a relationship ends, you are in complete withdrawal. And then really giving up who we are out of the fear that we might lose someone or someone may not approve of us. So, if any of those things sound familiar, you may be dealing with love addiction. Neil Sattin: Yeah, and I'm reminded of when Helen Fisher was on the show, she has this viewpoint that in some respects, all love is addiction and that's why when we break up, we go through symptoms and pain that's very similar to what any addict would go through when they are in withdrawal from their partner. But I like the distinction that you're making around how... And this is I think, why love can be a positive or a negative addiction, because you could be addicted to love with someone who's really good for you, and where you actually really support each other and there's a lot that's beneficial going on, or you can be addicted to love with someone where you're just fueling the dopamine rush. Sherry Gaba: Yeah. Neil Sattin: And I think that is... Go ahead. Sherry Gaba: Well, if you're feeling the dopamine rush, it probably isn't you're addicted to a healthy relationship. Because yes, in the beginning, there's that fantasy, there's that attachment, there's that goo-goo ga-ga feeling. Sure, that can happen, but healthy relationships really move into a more mature growing state of being. I'm not saying you can't have that goo-goo ga-ga come up at times, but I think if you're constantly in that state, I think then it becomes more obsessive and then it becomes more unhealthy. I can't speak to all relationships, but I think healthier relationships change, they morph into other things, they morph into healthier love, they morph into other things like respect and nurturing, and it isn't just fueled by that, "Oh my god," goo-goo ga-ga feeling, you know what I'm saying? Neil Sattin: Yeah, if we look at the addiction cycle, and we had Alex Katehakis on the show to talk a little bit also about sex addiction. That what we're really doing, the reason we show up predictive behaviors, and you mentioned this a moment ago, is to help us with our own feelings of dysregulation and discomfort, we turn to the thing that gives us that pleasurable sensation for comfort. And I think you're right, all relationships are going to do that at first to some extent. And as I was preparing for our conversations today, it just occurred to me like, Oh, right, so if you're in a relationship, like most relationships where after a certain period of time, the dopamine energy starts to fade a little bit, and you haven't necessarily figured out how to build health into your relationship, and those healthy bonding behaviors foster lots of oxytocin which is another, a pair bonding hormone, then you're going to be missing the effects of the dopamine, not because there's something wrong with your partnership necessarily, but because you tune back into what's wrong with you, and those feelings of discomfort. And so then you have to chase the dopamine whether it's escalating the drama or ditching someone for someone new so that you can get that because you're not equipped at that moment to actually deal with your own dysregulation and discomfort. Sherry Gaba: Right. Well, you're addicted to the high, so to speak. You're addicted to the romance, you're addicted to the newness factor. I am a love addict, the best time for me is that first falling in love, that's the part where I'm just... That's where I'm most comfortable, that's my go-to. The problem with that is, you're picking from a place of need versus a place of healthful being. In other words, you're picking from a place of emptiness, you're picking a place of, "This person's going to fill up this need that I have, that I don't feel whole already, that I need somebody else to fill me up to feel good about myself." And hopefully, we can lead into a conversation about early trauma because that is a huge piece to this subject. Sherry Gaba: And often I'll share my own story because I think people underestimate what early trauma does and why that is a huge piece in the love addict behavior or the need for that high, that initial high. We're always chasing that early high, we often say with addicts, they're chasing that first high, that first crack experience or that first alcoholic experience, whatever, heroin experience. Well, the love addict is chasing that first high of falling in love, that's where everything... That is it, this is utopia, this is where it all is, and unfortunately, it isn't sustaining and when it does change, hopefully, it'll change into something healthy, but for the love addict, it generally does not turn into that something healthy. And usually, what they... The love addict picks people that aren't healthy for them. That's another piece to this, is that love addicts tend to be attracted to love avoidance, they're attracted to people that are unavailable, they might be attracted to people that are abusive and they don't care because they want that high no matter what, and they're picking what they know rather than what's good for them. Neil Sattin: Right. Right, so if you're in a relationship, what are some of the signs that you might see happening in your relationship if you've veered into addictive territory? Sherry Gaba: Well, I think if you're putting up with abuse, of course, you may be with a narcissist. I think we talked about this a little bit earlier, but over-adapting to what others want, losing yourself in the process, having no boundaries, always saying yes when really, “no” is not even in your vocabulary. This terror, this fear of letting go, fear of the unknown, so you stay because it's better than what might be out there. At least you know what you're getting here, even if it's unhealthy. You're always trying to fix and change your partner. That person is what makes you feel whole and complete, you're absolutely empty, you're in the ethers of emptiness without that person or in relationship, and then that person is all that you are in terms of, you're seeking their affirmation, their validation, their acknowledgment, all your self-worth is based on being with that person. You're petrified of abandonment. You might have some of those withdrawal symptoms when they're not around, you only are comfortable when they're in your space, but if they're off to work or off with other... Doing other things, you feel completely lost, and you give up who you are out of fear that they may not want you. You give up who you are, you lose parts of yourself to be with this person. Neil Sattin: Got it. So I'm feeling a pretty... I'm doing the diagnosis here on myself even and thinking about how even relationships in the past that have started out healthy, they can veer into this territory if you're not careful. Sherry Gaba: Sure. And then we're talking maybe more about a codependent relationship. And I hate throwing out words like codependent or even a love addiction word, because people... It becomes very cliche, because what you said earlier in the call, and I really picked up on that was that some of these things you have with your relationship but they're healthy. And in other words, you love that person, you respect that person, and sure, that person on some level maybe completes you on some level. But the question is if that relationship wasn't there would you be okay? Sure, you might be sad and you would grieve, and you would miss that person terribly, but would you be completely lost? I think of my own mother, my father passed away and they had a 60-year romance. And when my father died, and again, this is part of grief as well, but it was a little more pathological than that. My mother picked up the first man that looked at her. And he's a very bad man. She picked somebody that really is a predator per se, and he knew exactly what he was doing. And she's in a relationship with... In a very unhealthy relationship with someone that's completely taking advantage of her, because she is petrified of being without somebody. She just can't even function. And so that's when we're really getting into territory that's dangerous. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Sherry Gaba: Because you're actually being taken advantage of. And that's a whole other conversation, there is a whole world out there, there's... Just in LA alone, there are probably 10,000 predators out there picking women that just will believe anything that they hear, just so they can couple up and partner up and bond with somebody. Neil Sattin: Let's... Sherry Gaba: I use that example because you never know, you could have a listener right now, a call that's in a situation like that. Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, I'm glad that you brought it up. And yeah, what it makes me curious about, I picked up on the sense of not being okay if you were to be alone. And because I think that it's so important to have that sense of okay-ness, that brings with it so much freedom to really see your relationship clearly, to see your part in the relationship clearly. So if we were to take a listener on a step or two down the road, toward... Like, if they're looking at themselves right now and saying, "Wow, yeah, I'm not sure I would be okay if this fell apart." There may be some practical considerations to that, maybe their livelihood is dependent on their partner or something like that. But I think you're talking about, even more, the existential sense of like, "No, my life might fall apart if I weren't with this person or... " How does someone go about starting to restore that sense of inner safety, so that they can bring that to the relationship? Sherry Gaba: Well, maybe that... This is a good time to talk about early trauma because if we grew up in a situation where our parents were really unavailable, maybe they were addicts, alcoholics themselves, maybe there was a divorce, maybe were raised by a single parent and they were busy working and you felt invisible because your needs weren't being met, maybe you were in a situation where you were almost parenting your parent. Maybe you were abandoned by a parent. There's this panic that sets in. And then what happens is, you're looking for anything outside yourself to fill up that pain and that panic, and you'll cling to anything and anyone. You're craving for something else to make you feel whole. So the question is, if you're already in a relationship, what draws you to this person? Is it because this person adds to your life? You feel like it brings joy to the joy that you already are as a person? Did you already feel whole as a person? Were you ever successfully single and just loving life as a single person? Or your whole basis was, "I need to attach to someone because without attaching to someone, I am lost. I'm like that child that didn't have a parent that was available to me." Sherry Gaba: Do you feel like you're not enough without that relationship? Do you feel enough anyway? Yeah, do you feel good enough even without a relationship? Are you unconsciously attempting to satisfy that developmental hungry, so that hungry ghost that people talk about, Buddhists talk about, are you trying to satisfy that? Or does that person, again, add to your sense of being, and sense of self, or are they just completing what you are not? Sherry Gaba: And are you always looking outside yourself to fix yourself, your fear, your pain, your discomfort? Or do you have that safety within yourself to... That's a great word, are you able to self-regulate yourself? Are you able to be alone at any time? I don't know if that answers your question, Neil, I think it's so great that we're diving into the fact that if you're already in a relationship, do you have these things? And I don't want people to freak out and think, "Oh my God, I'm a love addict, and I'm in a relationship, I better get out because I gotta find myself." No, no, no, no, it's not about that. But I think there are ways to start creating... And see, do you have early trauma? Were you abandoned? And then if you were, how to start healing from that. For me, my trauma was so early, it's unbelievable, I was in an incubator for two and a half months. So I started out in the world unregulated. I started out not having that early bonding with my mother, she didn't hold me for two and a half months, and then even when I came home, she went to work right away, so she was unavailable. And I didn't get what I needed, and so I was always looking for something outside of me to fill me up. I was always looking for that "breast," so to speak. Sherry Gaba: That's kind of a metaphor, but it's... I was always looking for something else to completely... 'Cause I felt complete, I didn't get that mirroring, I didn't get that bonding, I didn't get that security, that safety. So those are some things to think about, what was your early childhood like? Did you go through any of the things that I mentioned earlier? And if you did, how do you work on those issues? For me, I got into therapy with someone that does what's called somatic experiencing, and now, I'm a practitioner of that, and it's getting back into your body and being able to be okay within yourself, instead of always running away from yourself. Always thinking something else can complete you when everything you have is right there within you. Neil Sattin: Great, and yes, we've had Peter Levine on the show actually, to talk about somatic experiencing. Sherry Gaba: Oh fast, you've had some amazing guest. Neil Sattin: Fortunately yeah, I'm so happy that he was willing to chat and I do believe that that, in particular, is such a powerful modality for healing early traumas. And what I love about it because it's based on your sensation, you don't necessarily have to know what it was. It goes by this theory that the trauma is just stored in there and so you're giving your body a chance to process things that are stuck, that it should have processed through whenever the trauma, and it could be a "big-T" trauma or "little-T" trauma, whenever that occurred. So there's nothing abnormal about you or anyone with having something that might be stuck within you that just needs to be healed. Sherry Gaba: I love that. I want people to know that there is nothing wrong with you. There might have been something that happened to you as you said, a big trauma, or little trauma, and let's discharge that energy that's been built up so that we can get unblocked so that we can bring in health and wholeness. So that you can feel complete just within yourself, so you don't have to seek outside yourself to feel good. The truth of the matter is just being on this call right now, is the first step because people are going to become aware like, "Oh, this is interesting, let's get curious about this." And then from there, make a decision to change, learning to stop looking for external solutions for problems that can be solved within. Sherry Gaba: Really explore their personal fears, and really get out of the denial, that's a huge piece with addiction. Addiction is the only disease that says, "I don't have a problem." So really, open yourself up to, "Yeah, there might be something here." And really examine those early suppressed traumas that might have occurred early on in life that we just talked about. Maybe go ahead and listen to your Peter Levine interview, so you can understand trauma a little bit better. Start self-parenting yourself. Really look... I sometimes suggest to people, "Find a photo of you when you were a child and stick that photo right next to your bed, and just start loving that inner child that maybe didn't get what they needed." Become really a loving, forgiving and compassionate person to yourself. Sherry Gaba: You didn't just wake up one day and go, "Oh, I want to be a love addict. I want to feel pain all the time. I want to feel like I have to be... " You have to completely or I feel like nothing. No, that isn't what you... You didn't cause anything, it's just from your experiences in your history, this is what happened, that energy never got completed, as you said. And just use the pain to grow and prepare for a healthy relationship or the relationship that you're already in, and just really begin to trust in yourself and to let go of what no longer is serving you and find a really great therapist, find a really great coach but somebody that really understands perhaps, trauma work. I don't know if coaches really do trauma work, some may, but you want to make sure they understand the trauma piece. Maybe, find a sex and love addicts anonymous meeting. There's so much support out there to begin working on these issues. Neil Sattin: Right. And in your book, "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie" you do offer some great tools for people who are looking to rebuild, and you don't have to be alone in order to go through them. So I'm glad that you qualified that earlier on, where you said, "If you're in a relationship, you don't have to panic and abandon just to find yourself." Sherry Gaba: Right. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Sherry Gaba: Exactly. And you know what you said too earlier, it's such a great feeling, and I think you said it, I think you used the word, extreme. I divorced my... I've had multiple marriages, multi-relationships, I divorced my ex-husband, he was an alcoholic and he couldn't get sober, and I really gave it my best. And I was lost when that relationship ended because it was a very codependent, obsessive relationship, but once I healed and I started doing things for myself, I joined a great 12-Step Program, I took up canoeing. I started really finding myself, I was able to then hopefully pick somebody else that was much better for me because I knew that no matter what, I could be on my own. And I have to be honest, I never felt that way before. I had never been able to really be alone successfully and be happy, and I truly was happy and single. And that brings me to another topic which would be as changing your verbiage around it, instead of saying to yourself, "Oh, I can't be alone. Oh my God, I can't be alone." It's like, "I can be single." Doesn't that sound a lot better? "I can be single" rather than, "I can't be alone"? Neil Sattin: Yeah, so much better and it just makes me think of how very few of us truly are alone, ever. I suppose that is true for some people but if you're listening to this podcast, you're here with me, at this moment. And odds are that there are other people in your life who care about you and who want to support you, and not see you in pain and not see you suffering. Sherry Gaba: Right, exactly. We all want to bond, we all want to connect. The opposite of addiction is connection, but the point of this call is really healthy connection. That's the point of your podcast, healthy relationships. And so that's... But it's not about stigmatizing you if you are in a codependent relationship. How great that you're on this call and now you can start changing things up a little bit and loosen up that codependent relationship, find other things in your life that help you feel good about yourself. And if you have that trauma, really start working on that trauma 'cause that's really where it all begins. I do some coaching, I'm a psychotherapist, but I can't tell you how many times I'll have a coaching client and they're just stuck. And that stuck-ness... They paid for every class, they listened to all of the podcasts, they bought all the books, but there's something inside of them that's stuck. And so to me, it really begins with moving that trauma out of your body, so that you can have a purposeful life and a meaningful relationship. Neil Sattin: Yeah. So a couple of things, first, let's just regroup, and I want to mention to you listening, I've mentioned a couple of other episodes, if you want to check out the Peter Levine episode, he's been on a couple times, but you definitely want to hear episode 29, which was the first one that he was on, to talk specifically about trauma and healing trauma. The other episode he was on, he was talking more about building resilience which is also important, but not as relevant to what we're talking about here. Also, the episode with Alex Katehakis, talking about addiction and what's involved in our neurobiology of addiction and how to heal that. That is episode 116. So I just wanted you to have those so you can listen to them later. And Sherry, I'm really curious because so many of the tools that you offer in "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie" are very practical, and I hear you as a strong voice of support for someone getting help, and I'm always talking about that here on the show. That there are some things where it's just easier if you're not trying to do it by yourself or trying to wing it, or reading a book and trying to put it into practice. That being said, I would love to offer our listeners something really powerful here that they could do or they could try on their own, that would give them a taste of the kind of healing that we're talking about, a taste of the personal empowerment and freedom that we're talking about. Neil Sattin: And so I'm wondering if just speaking those words, if there's anything that comes to mind for you that we could offer our listeners as a way to get started, to jump-start the process, whether they're single or in relationship or if you have a different idea for both, then that's good too 'cause there are plenty of single people who are also listening to the show. I hear from you, but all the time to learn so that when you're in your next relationship, you're prepared, and I so appreciate that. I wish I had had a show like this, honestly to listen to way back when... Sherry Gaba: Well, I think in the beginning, is just to see if you have this issue, is to maybe take my quiz, if you go to sherrygaba.com, I have a love addiction quiz. And that's just a first step in seeing if you are a love addict. I also have a quiz at sherrygaba.com on whether or not you're codependent. Because you can be codependent and not be a love addict. A codependent may be someone who's always trying to fix, control everything outside themselves, addicted to controlling people, places, and things. But a love addict is a little bit more specific, and that is that you are addicted to love, relationship, romance and feel empty if you're not in a relationship or with somebody. So that's a great place to start, is to take those quizzes, and see if it applies. I have some free ebooks that go along with those quizzes. My book is almost like a workbook, every chapter has questions for you to answer, to journal on. It's really... It's years and years of personal and professional experience in a book. Neil Sattin: Yeah, I found that it was really a great synthesis of lots of different modalities, and you talk about inner child work which you mentioned a few moments ago, you talk about healing trauma, you talk about taking proactive steps in your own life so that you're building your own strength and presence in the world. Sherry Gaba: And even talking about the law of attraction, on how to attract somebody in a healthy way. Because energetically, we attract what we are. I'm sure you've had conversations with people related to positive psychology or law of attraction, and the truth of the matter is energetically, we're going to attract exactly where we are in our life. When you're in a healthy place, you're going to attract healthy, when you're not, you're going to attract not healthy. Neil Sattin: Right. I would love it, and I'm putting you on the spot here, so I'm admitting, freely admitting that there's maybe a little bit of pressure here, but I'm curious, yeah, if I've listened to this conversation and thought, "Yep, that's me. Like I don't need to take the quiz, I know it's me, and oh my God, with what Sherry just said about attracting what is within, is what we attract without, now I'm really screwed." What can we do to help someone experience a shift even around that? How do you experience that shift in who you are, let's say... What's coming to me is like who you are energetically and what you want to be in the world, in such a way that you can feel what it's like to see the world with different glasses on? Sherry Gaba: That's a very broad question. I don't even know how to answer that because I think it's a process, I don't think there's an instant fix. Neil Sattin: Yeah, of course not. Sherry Gaba: I think the only thing I can say is the fact that they're on this call and they're hearing things that feel like that could be me when they're actually moving out of denial and that's the first step. I suppose, what I would say is, the first step is waking up to the truth. Waking up to the truth and "Oh my God, this... I realize that I am not complete unless I'm coupled up." And just knowing that is the first step. And then the next step is to... As you said, you can read a book that doesn't always do the magic. I'd love for people to pick up my book and dive deeper into even my story to see if they can relate and all the exercises. But hiring somebody like yourself who does relationship coaching or maybe working with someone like me who dives more into love addiction piece, I'm not sure exactly what you're asking. You definitely put me on the spot. Neil Sattin: Okay. Well, I feel like this will take form, this will take shape, so I'm not worried. Sherry Gaba: Yeah, one thing I could do with everybody right now, which might be a way to metaphorically move to the other side in the moment, is I can do some positive affirmations right now on the call. And then, we know that positive affirmations change the wiring within your brain, and if you keep doing it it's going to keep changing the wiring in your brain of how you see things from negative to positive. So I'm going to say some affirmations maybe Neil you can repeat after me and everybody listening, and this might answer your question of, what would that feel like if we were in the middle of that transition from emptiness to wholeness? Does that... What do you think? Okay. Okay. So repeat after me, I'm a lovable and valuable person. Neil Sattin: I am a lovable and valuable person. Sherry Gaba: I am deserving of a healthy partner. Neil Sattin: I am deserving of a healthy partner. Sherry Gaba: Who is capable of loving, respecting and honoring me as a person. Neil Sattin: A healthy partner who is capable of loving, honoring and respecting me as a person. Sherry Gaba: Withdrawal will not last forever. Neil Sattin: Withdrawal will not last forever. Sherry Gaba: My needs and wants are important. Neil Sattin: My needs and wants are important. Sherry Gaba: All my experiences contribute to my growth. Neil Sattin: All my experiences contribute to my growth. Sherry Gaba: I am learning to let go of dependencies on others. Neil Sattin: I'm learning to let go of dependencies on others. Sherry Gaba: And relying on myself for happiness. Neil Sattin: And relying on myself for happiness. Sherry Gaba: I walk away from toxic people. Neil Sattin: I walk away from toxic People. Sherry Gaba: I create my own truth in love. Neil Sattin: I create my own truth in love. Sherry Gaba: And that's that. And so maybe there is a little energetic shift that people might be experiencing right now. Again, I'm not about instant fixes but this is a beginning point, this is a starting point, and that's really all we have is a starting point and then we transit, we grow from there. Neil Sattin: Yeah, one thing that I really love about that exercise and the practice of positive affirmation, yes, there's the way that it reinforces a different neuro pathway within us and a different energetic pathway in terms of what we project into the world around us. Sherry Gaba: Yes. Neil Sattin: On top of that, I feel like I got to recognize, "Oh these are the places where there's a little bit of dissonance within me, like when I say it, I can't say it with 100% conviction. And so if that's true, that I'm not able to say it with 100% conviction, then to me that indicates a place where there's some work to be done. Sherry Gaba: Yeah, that's so true, because for the law of attraction to work or to attract what it is that you desire, you have to be congruent with what you're saying and believing and what you're actually doing on the outside. So, that's exactly true. There is a dissonance, if you're feeling any kind of like, "Oh, that's not completely true," then there's a really good chance that how you're acting in the world, how you're behaving in the world or being in the world is not a match to how you really feel. You need to work on that a little bit because the congruency is what allows you to attract either the healthy relationship that you desire or the one that you're in. Neil Sattin: Right. This reminds me a little bit of what might be the next step in this process. It's not the next step necessarily, but a lot of times with my clients, there can be this moment where you realize like, "Oh." For instance let's say, this wasn't true for me in this moment, but it has been true in the past, where I might say, "Oh, I'm worthy of being loved and I'm lovable." And I think I've even shared with my audience in a past episode, a time when that actually didn't really feel true for me. And so when that's not entirely true for you, the choices that you make are totally different than if you are to... If you recognize, "Oh, there was a little bit of a hitch when I said that statement out loud," or it could have been one of the other things that Sherry just offered you, then you can ask yourself, "Well, if I did think that I was lovable and worthy of love, how does that act? How would I act in the world from that perspective?" You get to try on that lens... Sherry Gaba: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Once you've identified where it's missing, You can be like, "Well, if I were that what would the world look like?" Sherry Gaba: And even more important is to make friends with that intuition that you know to be true. In other words, don't run away from what you know to be true, because then you're stepping into that denial lens again, is where, "Oh, I feel this, and I know it's not right but I don't care, I'm just going to close my eyes." And my whole mission in life is to keep people awake to their truth. So not to be afraid of the truth, the truth doesn't mean you have to break up with your partner this minute, it doesn't mean that you have to spend the rest of your life soul searching, it doesn't mean that you have to go get a divorce, it doesn't mean that you have to get off that dating app, it just means you need to just become aware and to stay in truth. And as long as you do that, the transformation is possible. Neil Sattin: Yeah, I take a really strong stand for the process that we go through as individuals and the effect that that can have on our partnerships. So lest do you think that if you're in a dysfunctional relationship, the whole point of this show isn't that it's perfect, the point is, it probably isn't perfect. And so you get to take steps that help you transform you and thus transform the whole dynamic. Sherry Gaba: Yeah, and not be afraid, let go of that fear, just welcome up the chance to transform. Welcome up that the exactly that life is messy and as long as you stay away and you're willing to grow... We're all growing, we're all changing, we're all making better choices, hopefully, learning from our mistakes but it's not about beating ourselves up, it's about having the great compassion of humanity that we are, that we're just humans doing the best that we can. That was one of the points of writing the book, "The marriage and Relationship Junkie" was that I really wanted to eradicate the stigma around someone like myself who's been married multiple times, who's had multiple relationships instead of walking around thinking "I'm a failure," or those that read my book think that they're a failure because they just couldn't get it right, is to just have an understanding of where that began and how can I change that the trajectory of the future? Sherry Gaba: So that I, maybe, do things in a different way and make different choices, 'cause life is filled with choices. And to own up to those choices, not to beat yourself up because of those choices, because there was a reason you made those choices. My choices were already paved for me when I was born two and a half months early, there was nothing I was going to be able to do about that. I had separation anxiety, I had abandonment issues, and that was going to be... Those feelings were going to be based on the decisions that I made in relationships. Neil Sattin: Right, and they were nobody's fault. Sherry Gaba: Nobody's fault. So we're not victims, we're just people that come from different histories, different experiences, and there's a reason why we are. I did one podcast with a woman who's been married six times, she had no idea, she started hysterically crying on the call. She was the host, because she goes, "Oh my God, you have labeled what I've always known, but didn't know what to call it, that's me." And it's like, "Okay, that's me? Okay great. So let's get curious about that." Doesn't mean we have to divorce our sixth husband, it just means, "Am I in a healthy relationship? Did I make a good choice and what can I do to heal all of that that brought me here today?" Neil Sattin: Right. They say the sixth time is a charm for a reason, right? Sherry Gaba: I think it's the third one. [chuckle] Neil Sattin: I'm just kidding. Sherry Gaba: Oh, okay. [laughter] My attitude is, do until you do it right, I don't think I ever... I won't say never, I'm not really interested at this point in my life, getting married again, but I certainly... I'm enjoying a healthy relationship, and I think that anything's possible. Anything's possible. Neil Sattin: Yeah, so one important thing that I'd like to chat about before we go, because I think one of the hesitations that people have around labeling and use that word a moment ago, labeling themselves as an addict, is the stigma that comes with it, the sense of, "Oh, this is inescapable, if I admit that I'm an addict then... " You hear the talk about a cliche like, "Once an addict, always an addict." And I'm curious for you, what's the truth in that versus that there is a true path for healing and... 'Cause I like that sense that the truth will set you free. If you're willing to look at your patterns, then that gives you a whole lot of power to make different kinds of choices for yourself and to heal the dysfunctional ways that you're looking for connection and regulation in your life and create positive ways of doing that. Sherry Gaba: Well, I think if you are a love addict per se, let's say, I'm not going to address substance abuse 'cause that might be a different... That goes a different way. That's a whole other topic, but if you feel that you might be a love addict, and you feel like you've had early trauma, I highly, highly recommend getting the support you need around that finding a really great somatic experiencing practitioner, reading up on Peter Levine's work, maybe even getting EMDR, that's another modality. I think that really healing that early trauma is important because, without that, I don't think you can make choices that are going to be in your best interest 'cause you haven't healed what is already inside of you that needs to be discharged in order to bring positivity back into your life. That work was the greatest work that I ever did in my life, join a sex and love addicts anonymous meeting, do that work, so you can bring healthy love into your life. I can't emphasize that enough because once I did that work, my whole life changed. Am I still a love addict? I guess is what you're asking, yes, I have to always be mindful for the rest of my life about love addict codependent behaviors. If I start getting obsessive, if I start just focusing on the person I'm with, start giving up my friendships, there's a... Sherry Gaba: I have to be continually vigilant at those things. And what I'm here to say is, once you do that work of trauma and self-regulation, you're less apt to become codependent again or making someone else your whole life, because you don't need to do that anymore because everything that you know and feel is within you, you feel whole already, so there's no need to be attached to just that one person, but I still have to be vigilant about it. Does that make sense? Neil Sattin: Absolutely, and the question, it's kind of a rhetorical question that comes up, is like, "Why wouldn't you want to be vigilant about those things?" I would want to know, first thing, if I'm starting to sacrifice my friendships and disappear into my relationship, I would want to know that, at any point in time, addict or not. Sherry Gaba: A few are an example of raw and real. You actually have a boyfriend and he's going to be going away for a couple of weeks, and that early piece of trauma comes up and goes. "This feels a little bit scary," like, "Oh, am I being abandoned?" And then I just... But because I've done the work, I can sit with that and I can be with it, and notice it and feel it and discharge it instead of becoming needy and obsessive and go into fear, "He's going to leave me," all of those things that I would have done in the past. Instead, I can just be the curious observer of the feelings and the thoughts and I can let it go. And that's a real example. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Sherry Gaba: That I'm still that baby that was born two and a half months early, but I have tools and ways to deal with those feelings that might come up rather than act out on them. Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, that's great, that's great. And I'm reminded too that it clicked into place for me actually, when you were describing that, which is that I think probably, part of that, the dopamine rush that we were talking about earlier and that pleasure, it actually is creating the illusion of safety. And I think it's been theorized, maybe John Gorman was even talking about this, that if we didn't feel that temporary love blindness at the beginning, we might never get into a relationship anyway. You almost need that to jump-start you into connection. But that being said, there are so much healthier ways of developing safety, and you were just talking about that inner safety and then there are also, of course, the healthy ways of developing safety in your relationship so that when your partner goes away for two weeks, there's true safety there. So you can counterbalance your inner safety with, "And we've created a container that actually I can rely on and I trust." Sherry Gaba: Exactly, a container within and maybe a container in the relationship. But certainly, that container within is vital, or you're going to do behaviors that... You're going to start doing all those obsessive behaviors, those needy behaviors that are not going to help the relationship. Neil Sattin: Right, they're crucial, crucial stuff. Well, Sherry Gaba, thank you so much for being here with us today, what a far-ranging conversation we've had. And of course, I feel like we could talk longer, but I want to respect your time. Your book, "The Marriage and Relationship Junkie" is a great read full of very practical stuff for you if you're thinking that this is something you identify with on some level and there's a path towards recovery in the book, so I highly recommend that. Sherry, you mentioned your website sherrygaba.com, and it's S-H-E-R-R-Y. I guess we should clarify that. We'll have links to all of this in the transcript for the show, which as a reminder, you can get if you visit neilsattin.com/gaba, G-A-B-A, or text the word "passion" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. Sherry, I really appreciate your time today. Sherry Gaba: Oh my God, I love... This is probably one of the best interviews I've had. You truly know your subject, and you've obviously done a lot of homework and work on yourself and your relationship and I'm really grateful for your platform and for giving me this opportunity today, thank you so, so much. Neil Sattin: You are so welcome.  

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#4

213: How to Handle an Aching Heart - with Guy Finley

December 13, 2019 • 90m

What do you do when you're suffering? How do you escape patterns of blaming in your relationship, and find the place within you that can turn painful moments into growth, and transformation? And how do you know when you've experienced too much pain - when it's time to move on? This week, we’re having a return visit with Guy Finley, author of the new book Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together and the international bestseller The Secret of Letting Go. You’ll get to hear Guy’s work in action, as we tackle what’s real - when you’re hurting - and find practical ways to embody deep spiritual principles of healing when your heart is aching. If you’d like to listen to my first episode with Guy Finley, check out Episode 164 - How Love Can Dissolve Conflict As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it! Sponsors: Away has created durable suitcases for the savvy traveler, with key features that help you easily get your stuff from place to place. With a limited lifetime warranty, and a 100-day trial period, it’s easy for you to experience an Away suitcase “in the field”. Away is offering free shipping with guaranteed delivery by 12/20 if you order by 11:59pm on 12/15 if you visit awaytravel.com/relationship and use the promo code “RELATIONSHIP” at checkout. Our second sponsor today is Audible. Audible has the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet and now, with Audible Originals, the selection has gotten even better with custom content made for members. As a special offer, Audible wants to give you a free 30-day trial - which includes 1 free audiobook and 2 free Audible originals. Go to Audible.com/relationship or text RELATIONSHIP to 500500 to get started. Resources: Visit the website for Guy Finley’s new book Relationship Magic for special bonus content Visit Guy Finley’s main website FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict… Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE) www.neilsattin.com/magic2 Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Guy Finley. Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out Transcript: Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today we're fortunate to have return visit from a favorite guest from the past. His name is Guy Finley, and he is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and the bestselling author of the book The Secret of Letting Go, as well as 45 other books and audio programs that have sold the whole world over. Neil Sattin: In our most recent conversation with Guy, we were discussing his book, Relationship Magic, which is subtitled Waking Up together, which is all about the ways that we continually come back to love in order to connect with our partner and how to get past the kinds of patterns that block us or hold us back when we're in relationship with our beloved. Neil Sattin: So today, we're going to dive deeper into relationship magic. And initially I was thinking that we might spend some time around the topic of how to make a fresh start, because that is so often the challenge in relationship where you are dealing not only with what is happening right in front of you in the moment, but with the history that you share with your partner, the history that you bring into the relationship and potentially the accumulation of hurts or transgressions or ways that you wish, you wish your partner were showing up for you or maybe you're feeling the weight of how you wish you were showing up for your partner, how your partner wishes you were showing up for them. There, I got it out. Neil Sattin: I'm also going to be candid with you that today my heart is a little hurting and aching. And so I think that all of this is going to come into the mix, and I'm really excited to have Guy with us today. If you are interested in a transcript of today's episode, you can visit neilsattin.com/magic2, that's the word magic, and the number 2, or as always you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And the reason why this episode is magic 2 is my first episode with Guy, our first episode together, was neilsattin.com/magic. So here we are to continue the conversation. Guy Finley, it's so great to have you here with me today. Guy Finley: Thank you, Neil, I'm happy to be with you too, I remember fondly our first conversation and I know we'll have a meaningful dialogue together, today. Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'm right there with you. I'm always excited when people want to come back and I'm super excited when it's after having had an amazing conversation like the first one that we had, so I definitely encourage you listening to go back and check that episode out. Yeah, and I'm curious, you were sitting there on the other end hearing my introduction and I have some thoughts about where I might like to start, and Guy, I'm wondering, is there something in particular that spoke to you as we started to dive into our conversation together? Guy Finley: Well, you know, we can look at and we will, I'm sure, specifics, but I think that one of the main points at least in our last conversation and as we'll recover and uncover again today, we all have a very distinct responsibility for how we feel. Our tendency is to be almost completely outwardly oriented, meaning that our sense of self is virtually in the hands of those that we are with, around or consider, and depending on the moment of that consideration, so goes the feeling we have of ourself, and I think that we have to marry this idea. I have a way of expressing it, Neil, and you might want to write this down, listeners, because it gives us a much broader view of our experience of relationships, not withstanding... How do I say this? Without diminishing the significance of individual ones. Guy Finley: Here it is. As goes my attention, so comes my experience. As goes my attention, so comes my experience. I'm sitting here in Southern Oregon, it's a fairly overcast fall day. The ground on my property is 100% covered with leaves. I know there is grass under it, but it's just a carpet of leaves and looking out the window and watching the birds and the leaves, and all that nature brings about, I give my attention to the beauty of this fall day, and my experience follows. My attention goes to a massive buck. It's the rut season here, and so these beautiful massive bucks are chasing the does, and I can feel in that buck this incredible natural strength, really power, and I'm lucky, forgive me if I wax on too long here, because I've hand raised like eight generation of deer here, not in the sense of being with them every single day, but most of them know me and I can hand feed them, so I'm able to be very close to these powerful creatures. Guy Finley: As goes, my attention, so comes my experience. Now, we get that when it comes to nature. That's why we like mountain vistas, ocean views, beautiful sunsets, colorful fall. Because the experience we have is inseparable from what we're attending to in the moment. You following me, Neil? Neil Sattin: Yes, of course. Guy Finley: So now, though, when it comes to our relationships, we have to make a little deeper connection, and that is that my attention goes on to something from my past, something I just lost, something that hurts, and I can't help but believe that there's no choice for me but to feel the things that I am, and here's the key, being given to feel by where attention has been taken. And in this instance, it's a very key idea. In nature, I give my attention to things that are beautiful because I love the experience of knowing the beauty within me that I can see outside of me. When it comes to our relationships with other human beings, whether it's a husband, a wife, someone on the street, whatever the case may be, that in those moments I have to understand, especially if I'm suffering, that my attention has been taken and placed on something that while it may have occurred is no longer occurring, it's literally in the past, and the experience that I'm being given because my attention goes onto something painful, sorrowful is because I don't recognize yet that I have a certain complicity with those kind of moments where my contentment seems to be taken from me, but in truth, I'm giving it away. Guy Finley: So I just want to get this broader picture in mind so that we understand that we are never powerless in the face of some painful moment in a relationship, but rather we don't understand where our true power lies, which is to possess our own attention and use the moments where our attention wants to be taken to change the kind of human being we are through that relationship in the moment, then as we change, everything about our life changes as well. Neil Sattin: There's so much to go from from what you were just saying. And on the show I often talk about the reality of how you feel in the moment and that there are ways that if you try to just kinda gloss over how you're feeling and what's coming up for you, that you could end up doing a lot of damage to your relationship. And this comes up more often than not, I think, when people are in a state of trigger, they're really angry, or really scared, and then they're trying to interact with each other from that place. But when you're operating from your fight-flight or your freeze place, it's rare that's something good can come of that. So I usually invite people to give attention to what is happening within them. Neil Sattin: And so as luck would have it, I'm taking in your words as goes my attention, so comes my experience and recognizing that my attention goes so clearly to this experience of my heart aching. And as you were describing the world outside your window there, I was gazing out my window here at the urban landscape that is right outside, and what I noticed more than anything is the quality of the autumn light, this really... Well, the words that are coming to me are where it's like stark, this stark yellow light, and I love the quality of that light, I always feel like the world looks so much more clear to me, and it is like a spotlight trained on the state of feeling that I'm experiencing in this moment. Guy Finley: Yeah, and we're going to unwrap all of this, because I like you, especially in the fall, and I don't know exactly why, maybe it's because the angle of the sun creates a different frequency or I don't know exactly what it is, but at certain times, it's almost, I don't know if there's such a word, rapturous, there's just such a unique feeling that one derives from that light. Now, taking pains to look at that, is the unique feeling in the light itself, or is the unique feeling a relationship between that light coming from the sun and the parts of myself in which it is reflecting. This is key. And the answer is, it's because it stirs in my consciousness a quality or a character that I would never know were it not for that moment of relationship and where my attention is in that same moment. Guy Finley: So we're building an understanding here that moments like those are so precious to us, if they are, because they are first awakening in us parts of our own consciousness that otherwise we don't have access to, so that the moment of that light is the same as the realization of a level of our own consciousness, that without the light, we can't experience, so we get that and we love it and we want to give our attention to that light, to that buck, to the leaves, whatever it may be, for what it seems to give to us in the same moment. Guy Finley: But now, listeners, Neil, let's turn it around. Let's say I'm faced, for whatever reason, not with the additional beauty, the extra fulfillment of something in myself by a relationship with nature around me. But let's flip it around and say suddenly, I seem to be filled with a sense of loss. I seem to be in a hole somewhere because I can't take my mind off of what someone did or didn't do, what he said, what she didn't follow through with, any of those conditions. And we have to understand, if we're willing to, is that it's the same principle in action. What the moment is bringing to me is a revelation of an aspect of my own consciousness in this instance that seems not to be fulfilled, but rather seems to be taken from me, something precious. Guy Finley: And this is where for me the rubber meets the road. If in fact a moment comes along, and I'm filled with whatever, anger, fear, anxiety, trepidation, a mixture of all of those things, my usual reaction is to look at the event that I hold responsible for the revelation. She didn't this, he did that. And when we look at the moment, the person, the problem as the reason for the revelation, we ignore the fact of what it is that's being revealed in us by that moment. So that I'm saying that these unwanted moments, as opposed to wanted ones, are every bit as valuable, if not more valuable, because those moments that we don't want are because something is being revealed in our consciousness that believes one way or another it is only as good and valuable and capable of contentment as is the condition outside of it responsible for its momentary appearance, which is why, by the way, we become so dependent, so attached, it never really dawns on us how this attachment grows. Guy Finley: And I'm not saying, Neil, you know I'm not, that we don't fall in love, that we don't have attachments. I've been married for 40 years and every, God only knows why, blue moon, somehow I have this dream that she's not the same person, that she's not as attentive or caring and I wake up in that dream from a certain kind of sorrow that doesn't exist without the dream, but I realize that the dream is in fact a revelation of a level of attachment that I'm not conscious of, so I'm not denigrating the relationship, I'm not even saying there's anything wrong, in quotes, with that attachment. What I am saying is that there's something far more right for me as a man, a human being, in realizing that where there is attachment, there is dependency; where there's dependency, there's inevitable sorrow and fear. Guy Finley: And to understand that doesn't take from us the richness of the loss of something. To me, it enriches the moment, because it allows me to tap into, become conscious of parts of myself that were it not for that moment I would never know the extent to which I am attached, dependent and therefore, back to the opening comment, therefore now I get it. My attention is going to the attachment, not to the beauty of what I may have had or do have, but to the fear of loss and primarily the fear of having lost myself because someone else did what they did. Guy Finley: And we can see that in scale in every relationship we have with life, not just with husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, relationship with money, relationship with health, all of these aspects of our consciousness that we have become unknowingly attached to and therefore demanding that they remain in place. So, that should something shift and suddenly we don't know who we are anymore, I would argue, even as painful as it may be, that that's a very special kind of revelation, serving a very special kind of realization that without it, we would never know the extent of where we have handed over our life to something outside of us. I'll stop there. Neil Sattin: Okay, so I feel like, yeah, I feel like you're getting to... You're teasing my next question, in a way, because... Guy Finley: Sure. Neil Sattin: And as you were talking about attachment in particular, it wasn't lost on me that your big book is called The Secret of Letting Go, so I was thinking about, like, okay, yeah, I think I think I have a sense of where we're headed here, but I... I wonder, yeah, I wonder what the next step is. And there are actually two little pictures that are unfurling from this particular moment for me. One is being, let's say, the person who's feeling the heartache or feeling the result of the attachment, feeling the anger, the fear, the shame, the injustice... Guy Finley: Betrayal? Neil Sattin: All of that, yes. One question is like, great, this is being revealed to me, what do I do? So that's question number one. Question number two in particular relates to relationship, because I do believe that there are some experiences that you just can't have without being in relation to something, and that's why it's important to not feel like you have to work out all your stuff before you get into a relationship with someone, 'cause no matter what, they're going to stir things up in you and there are things you can't quote unquote fix until you are faced with them in relationship. However, what if you're in relationship and you're in a practice of realization around all these challenging states of feeling and consciousness, but your partner that isn't operating from that place, so the more that you lean into the realization of the reality of what's happening in that moment, your partner leans more into wanting you to fix, wanting you to change, wanting you to be other than who you actually are, because they're convinced that you need to change something in order to fix their experience. Neil Sattin: So they're too connected but somewhat divergent questions. Where do you feel inspired to dive in first? Guy Finley: I want to be very clear. When we fall in love, we have a passion, we fall in love and have that passion for someone or something. Because at the onset of that relationship, we are privileged through that person or that condition to go through what that relationship alone awakens in us because of the unique elements that have converged in that relationship. To this day, my wife has a certain smile, if you just say the word TJ Max around here, I swear to God, and I'm very conservative, I could wear the same clothes for 50 years and if they didn't fall off my back, I would still be doing it. That's just what she just... She loves fashion, she is a spiritual woman, but she just loves fashion. So even though I wish that she didn't, it tickles me when I see her smile. I know before she's even going out where she's going 'cause there's a gleam in her eye. Guy Finley: So I would never know were it not for that quirky part of my wife that little quirky feeling. But now we have to turn it around, because to the same extent that I am introduced and fulfilled made a hole in a way, because what is she showing me in those moments other than something I don't know about myself and can't feel without her? The converse holds true, Neil. I can't know there are parts of me that are selfish, that can't listen, that are impatient, that want to be left alone. I can't know those parts of me without her, without relationship with something. And where my work is, I think, quite different from most others is that I say that we must learn to first understand the significance of those revelations that are so unwanted and, rather than continue to blame the relationship, the person or the predicament for the pain inherent in realizing these are parts of my consciousness that I am asleep to, to be thankful for being awakened. Guy Finley: Because the same integration that takes place when she awakens in me a wish to sacrifice, a willingness to go past myself and put her first, that same gratitude must appear when I am integrated, awakened to those parts of myself that I would avoid at all costs if I could were it not for love that uses my wife to awaken me to these limitations, and that uses me for my wife to awaken her to her limitations to serve a greater love than either of us can know without each other, whether high or low, light or dark, all serving a greater relationship, that love puts human beings together for. So that through those revelations, wanted and not, the man or woman can begin to become an integrated being, no longer living in unseen conflict with parts of him or herself, because the image that he has of himself or herself won't allow the fact of these aspects of limitation in our consciousness, so that that level of consciousness buries these things, but a stone under the ground weighs as much as one above, so that those moments are invitations, Neil, as painful as they are, to realize that there's no way any relationship can go forward as long as there is attachment and dependency that forms the seed of limitation, so that without these limitations revealed by my partner or by my partner leaving me or my partner hurting me, whatever my partner may have done, that moment is the revelation of a limitation in me. Guy Finley: It's not their limitation and even if it is, I must still thank them. I don't mean to jump way off-board here, but this is the interior meaning of what Christ meant by love thine enemies. Because in those moments, without my wife, my husband, the guy on the street, the person tailgating me, the financial thieves that are breaking the country, without all of that taking place, I would never know the enmity, the violence, the anger, all of the things that so conveniently blame people and places and situations outside of me, so that those characteristics can continue living in the dark of our consciousness, not my consciousness, not Neil's consciousness, not my wife's consciousness, in consciousness that we are the instruments of and that are intended to be developed by the action of love revealing to us what only love can, high and low, light and dark. Neil Sattin: Can I make this a little more personal? Guy Finley: Anything, Neil, you know that, man. Neil Sattin: Okay, let's just start with something that doesn't have say a lot of charge to it. So often I use the dishes, but let's forgo the dishes. Let's talk about the laundry. And I'm wondering like what if, hypothetically speaking, Guy, let's say you are someone who habitually takes off your clothes and you just kinda drop them wherever. It could be the bedroom floor, it could be the bathroom, could be the living room. It's wherever they... And they end up kind of all about. And your wife, with whom you've been for 40 years, comes in and says to you, you're blissfully working on your next book, and she says, "Guy, I can't handle this anymore. Your clothes are everywhere, you're so lazy. We've talked about this at least once a month for the past 40 years. Is it going to be another 40 years of us having this same conversation about your goddamn clothes being all over the place? I can't even think straight." Guy Finley: Oh, and we know that happens, don't we? Neil Sattin: Of course. Guy Finley: Maybe it's not the laundry, maybe it's not the dishes that you think someone else will clean up for you. It could be anything, the way you park the car in the garage. Neil Sattin: Right. Or it could be something more serious, like I can't believe you slept with that person three years ago, right? I'm still feeling about that. How could you go? How will I ever trust you again? Guy Finley: Of course. Of course. And so the question is, what does one do in those moments as the one offended or the one being offended, as the offender or the one being offended? Neil Sattin: Well, it's debatable which is which in that circumstance, it's debatable, but... Guy Finley: Because we have to ask a pretty big question here, what's the difference between the two? In this instance, let's just say that, let's say, I do throw my clothes around... Neil Sattin: Right, and just so you know, listening, I can see Guy's living room and there are no clothes anywhere. So this was strictly hypothetical. Guy Finley: Of course, but even if they were and my wife had asked me innumerable times to clean them up, then I cannot blame her, she wants order, not chaos. And if I don't honor my wife's wish, then I have to understand that she and I have a major difference. She's asked me first nicely, she's become upset over it, and yet there's something in me that just will not do what it is she needs done. You're not asking me to lose 50 pounds, she's saying, "Take your laundry and put it away." So there's an irreconcilable difference, Neil, her character and my character have something that is in conflict with each other. If I don't change she will, because she can't help herself, I might add. See, this goes to something so much deeper. I know everybody wants it simple. Can I get upset? I'll turn it around. Can my wife get upset with me in a manner that... Would you agree that if someone loses their temper with you because you have a sock on the floor that that would be called a tempest in a teapot? Neil Sattin: Yeah, maybe there's some context that makes it less of a teapot. Like, for instance, 40 years of having had the same conversation over and over again but... Guy Finley: I understand, but that's the definition of insanity, isn't it? Neil Sattin: Perhaps. I mean, I think... Guy Finley: No, it is. I insist, I insist, I insist. So here's a force in one direction meeting a force in another direction, and it's not moving. So that is the insanity. See, here's what we don't want to get into, Neil. If I've asked my wife 50 times over 30 years not to do something and she keeps doing it, then at some point I have to recognize that the pain that appears in those moments is not going to go away by making her into what I need her to be, so at that point I either understand that's how she is and it's a small battle, it's very small in the scheme of things. But now to my point, something in me wants to make it moment, huge and there's what I'm getting at it. It never dawns on any of us, for the most part, that no one picks a fight with anyone else unless prior to the fight they pick they are in pain. It's a section in my book, pain picks the fight, not the person, so that here's something in my wife rubbed raw over 40 years that she is unable to reconcile and let go of the fact that this is just part of a character, I love him more than I care about his socks. Guy Finley: But pain, my attention goes to the context of the condition, which is I've asked him for 100 years, he won't change. Instead of realizing that what's not changing in that moment is me, I'm the one who won't let go of the insistence that he be jumping through the hoop I want him to jump through about socks. What's more important, his socks and underwear, or that I have something in me that gets set on fire when I see it, because if we can learn to ask the important questions, "What in God's name is this pain I'm in over some peculiar aspect of my partner, that I've asked kindly, I've lost my temper, I've threatened to leave, but it doesn't change." So either get up and walk out or walk away from those parts of yourself that are captured by that conflict every time the context reappears in your mind. Guy Finley: So that's the first thing, Neil, when my wife, God bless her, and I don't know if I've ever told you this, we've never raised our voices at each other in 40 years. But it doesn't mean that over 40 years, she hasn't said unkind things, but for whatever reason, by the grace of the work that I've done, I never react to unkindness with unkindness, I use her unkindness to allow whatever is kicked up inside of me to show me whether or not there's something factual in her unkind statement, because we can't tell the difference. Guy Finley: Because when somebody attacks us, all we see and feel is the attack, instead of realizing there may be something in us producing the pain they're experiencing and that we need to deal with in ourselves. But if my first reaction is rejection, I'm not just rejecting my wife, I'm rejecting the revelation that's necessary and that if I could see it she might change herself as well. So what I do is, when she has said something unkind, is I never bring it up. I wait, sometimes two days, I wait until she's no longer in that consciousness, and then I will simply say to her, "Sweetie, do you remember we were walking down the driveway and you brought up that thing? I just want you to know that there's no value in bringing that up. It hurt. I'll deal with what I can, but to bring it up, it's just useless." Guy Finley: And then because she is the kind of woman she is, she will not react to that or on the spot she'll say, "You know what, I knew it when I said it, and I'm sorry." And then it's not I'm sorry because you got mad at me; I'm sorry, because you allow me to see something in myself that I could have never seen if you just rejected and resisted the comment. And then love is doing what love is meant to do, which is develop the two people that love has brought together into a better representation of what love is. So I hope that clarifies some of what you asked, but I'm going to deal with something you didn't ask, if you'd like. Neil Sattin: Yeah, go for it. Guy Finley: What in God's name do I do with this pain? How do I go forward from here, what's going to happen? I feel like my heart was stolen out of my chest and the only one that I can look at and, in essence, blame and feel betrayed by is the person, my husband, my wife, my business partner who stole from our business that we started, as best friends. I mean, God, Neil, life is nothing but an endless series, a success of conditions where we find ourselves with our mouth open wide going, "What?" You know what I mean, "What?" Neil Sattin: Totally. How did I get here? Guy Finley: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Guy Finley: And the answer is the last answer we want, but the only answer that brings an end to the unconscious continuation of the pain. Someone says something, it hurts. Someone steals from me, someone betrays me, it's heartbreaking. I gave this person 30 years of my life, I did everything I knew how to do to be the best, most complying person I could so that this person could grow, and then they turn around and there's the... They're bad talking me or worse, they steal. The pain is undeniable. I feel like I'm dying. No human being doesn't go through that. And this will really throw you, and the luckiest of us go through that death more times than we want. And the reason I say the lucky of us go through that, though I would that the cup would pass from my lips, I don't want to drink from that cup. It's bitter, has no future. Everything that seems to have been built has been destroyed. But the moment where it feels like I'm dying is in fact a moment where something in me is intended to die, not go on as the one who is betrayed, full of bitterness, ever wondering why, thinking someday I'll get even or he or she will come back and then they'll see how wrong they were. Guy Finley: Oh, my God, the story is endless 'cause all of us are an expression of a consciousness living it, but to understand and then to quietly sit back within oneself and let what the moment has come to do be done, because then the man or woman who exits that moment, where some idea they had about themselves, some image, an attachment, a plan, a dream, when the whole thing just goes belly up, we look at the condition, and we say, "That's what went belly up. No, that's not what went belly up. What died was a part of myself that I was so identified with that when the conditions no longer are in place to perpetuate the dream I feel like it's me that has died and it's not I who have died, but a dream a the dream and the dreamer." Guy Finley: And there, I sit stark naked, quite literally, in the present moment, with what seems like nothing, because my attention only knows how to be given unconsciously to something that if I had my choice, I wouldn't give my attention to it, but I am drawn like a moth to the flame to feel these unwanted feelings instead of recognizing, sweet God, what is it in me that keeps going and revisiting a feeling that I don't want? And then out of the unwanted feeling building a dream or a plan or some future where momentarily I'm consoled, when I'm not meant to be consoled by that moment, I'm meant to be changed through it. Guy Finley: That's called conscious suffering, not unconscious useless suffering. And if I can understand the difference in it, it's impossible that when I am called to return to that pain, revisit, think about, re-live, I don't re anything, I allow the moment to show me, I don't know who I am without somebody else, I don't know who I am without that plan that was so intimately connected to your presence and your participation and now you're gone. God, the whole thing's come undone, I'm probably going to lose everything now, because that's how deeply involved that dream is. It goes on without a person knowing it, and then instead of being thankful, which I know is hard to do, Neil, please don't misunderstand me. Nobody says, oh, at least not for the longest time, but I promise you, one day, it's true, even in the midst of the pain. Thank you, Father, thank you, God, thank you, the divine, for delivering me into a moment that I could have never even known I needed to be delivered into, let alone what I will be delivered from that I didn't know I needed to be delivered from, attachment, dependency, enabling, trying to keep everything in place, not so that the relationship stayed in place, but so that my person who I'm familiar with, isn't suddenly thrown out into a prison some place. Guy Finley: This is a completely different context for our consciousness, Neil. I know you can hear and feel what I'm saying, but this is what we have to get to if we want to use these moments that come where we reject them instantaneously, and instead of rejecting them, understanding in that moment, the suffering isn't in the condition, it's in my attachment to a part of myself I didn't know was there and that I'm going to be much better off without once it's allowed to pass, to die. Neil Sattin: And do you have some helpful hints about how to engage in that process? The concept makes sense to me. In what you were saying I was hearing the literal question of, "What is this pain pointing to in me that needs to die, that I need to let go of." And I'm just wondering, yeah, if there's a process there that you find helpful to help people engage in that, 'cause it can be so easy to get kind of a quick answer to that question. And then... Guy Finley: Yeah, yeah, and then the moment comes... Yeah, I understand and that's wonderful, Neil, that's quite insightful, because the last thing that I want to do is paint this as a rosy picture when we're in some kind of pain, because our partner has gone left instead of right or maybe just disappeared. So I do not want to make light at all of what is essentially a kind of a mini dark night of the soul. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Guy Finley: But the question, what do I do with this pain, how do I process it, begs without the person asking the question, begs the question, well, I, therefore, must be different than this process. I must be something other than the pain in this moment. And that which is other than the pain in this moment wants to know what to do with the pain, so it can get past the pain in the moment, and no such thing exists. A person who has cancer, a person who's an addict, at some point comes to grips with the fact, this is what is. I am not empowered to change the pain of the revelation, the revelation has in it its own clarity about a set of conditions that one way or another have come to teach me something about myself. I haven't been thrown into this moment, I've been sown into it, and until I can find a greater purpose, which is what we're talking about, the whole of my work, then everything that I do to escape the pain, process it so seemingly I'm outside of it and better than that, is the waste of the appearance of that pain. Guy Finley: You don't deny a toothache. Well, we do, don't we? I mean, that's there, right? I had a terrible toothache myself two weeks ago, it was unbelievable, out of the clear blue sky. And nothing in me wants to admit that this is the pain that usually leads up to a root canal. So what do we do when we have that kind of pain? We pretty much hope it goes away. Neil Sattin: Exactly. Guy Finley: And if you've ever had an impacted tooth and hoped the pain would go away, the truth is that sometimes it will go away, but the problem behind the impaction doesn't, so it becomes infected. And the next thing you know you've got something three times worse than what you had had you dealt with it on the spot, you understand the metaphor. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Guy Finley: The analogy. Same thing with this pain, Neil. Neil Sattin: So yeah, a couple of different things coming up for me. One is, I'm sitting with what you said about being sown into it not being thrown into it, that idea that this actually is me right now, in this moment. Guy Finley: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. And listen to me, please, everybody, because in those moments when my heart has been plucked out of my chest or what I was depending on for the success of my business or whatever the venter was that it looked like everything was roses and suddenly I'm pierced by thorns, I have no future, it's been robbed. And the task here is to understand that who and what you actually are doesn't depend upon something you've imagined in the future that you don't even know you're dependent on. We have no idea the extent of the dependency, unconscious dependency, that grows over time through familiar relationships, where we begin gradually to depend upon the person to act out and to be what we are dependent on them acting and being. Because if they don't do it, they break the pattern. Guy Finley: And if they break the pattern then is the pain that I feel in the break of the pattern, or is the pain in my dependency on the pattern? And if my pain is on the dependency of the pattern, why in the name of God do I want to create another one? I should be grateful because love has no pattern. That's called familiarity that breeds contempt, although we don't know it breeds contempt until someone breaks the pattern and then the resentment and the contempt sitting underneath it born of dependency rears its ugly head. And instead of seeing our complicity with that enabling dependency, we blame our partner. Instead of saying thank you, I don't know how, what I'm going to do, but I sure understand that there is something for me to learn in this moment instead of burn over, and by God, I'll do what I have to do to get the lesson in the moment instead of reject it in the hope of a moment that comes along where the pain isn't there with me. Neil Sattin: So I have a bit of a curve ball question for you in this moment. Guy Finley: No such thing, Neil. Neil Sattin: Right, it's all part of the same fabric. And I'm wondering, Guy, for you, how would you decide if you were in too much pain in a particular, like if a relationship that you were experiencing, whether it was a relationship to the weather, the conditions, the person in your life, how would you decide if the pain of relationship with that person was too much for you? In other words, where, because no matter what, when you leave a relationship, that creates pain, so you get to decide if you want the grief associated with staying or the grief associated with going. And I'm just curious for you, I think there's potentially a danger, particularly for people who are in really problematic situations, of feeling like, "Wait, is Guy Finley saying I should just be thankful for this pain and stay where I am and that I shouldn't... " Guy Finley: Okay, yeah, I got it. I'm glad you asked. I go to great pains in my book to absolutely make the point if you're in an abusive relationship, and let me be clear, your husband leaving his socks on the floor is not abuse, but your husband raising his fist at you because you tell him again please pick up your socks and you're in fear of your husband, get out of that relationship, you're not here to be abused by anybody. The strange thing is that we abuse ourselves. If my wife loses her temper every other week because X, Y, Z and blames me for losing her temper and I've done nothing other than just whatever it is that I am. Who's abusing who? We never want to see how abusive we are to ourselves, by trying to make someone into something they will never be. That is self-abuse, insisting that any other human being be what you need or want them to be is self-abuse. On the other hand, if they're trying to do that to you and are aggressive, consistently cruel verbally, involved in some pattern of a behavior, drugs, alcohol, anything excessive that way, and you stay in the relationship, you are self-abusive, and you have two people abusing each other, enabling each other and blaming the other for their pain. Does that answer your question? Neil Sattin: Yeah, I think what I'm hearing is there are flavors of abuse that are maybe more obvious physical violence, and then there's maybe a gray zone where it's 'cause... And I'm just calling it a gray zone because I think people are often a little unclear on emotional violence, emotional abuse, but everyone who's listening to us... Guy Finley: You and I both know there are people who are in emotionally abusive relationships. Neil Sattin: Yes. Guy Finley: Why does anyone stay in an emotionally abusive relationship, especially if they have said, "You know what, every time you raise your voice like that, I don't know what to do with myself, it hurts. Please, please don't do that." And then the partner does not acknowledge, let alone attempt to act on the wish. Here is the root of it. We stay in emotionally abusive relationships because it's better to have someone to blame than to be without somebody to blame. I don't know who I am without resenting you. I don't know who I am without hoping, knowing it's futile, that you're going to change. I don't know who I am without coming home and hoping to God that you're not in that particular state of mind when I know that 9 out of 10 times you will be, and that there'll be that tension and that it doesn't get resolved. I don't know who to be because rather than go through what life is asking me to do, which is to rediscover, reclaim my own integrity, see through the co-enabling parts of myself, that I might enter into a relationship that starts healthy instead of keep an unhealthy one alive 'cause I don't want to be without it, I'd rather stay with what I have. Guy Finley: And I'm going to make a giant leap here, Neil, that same mind is the same mind that revisits the loss. Rather than be alone, be by myself with this emptiness, I would rather revisit feeling victimized, revisit what will no longer be. This is where grief, natural grief turns into self-love. My wife dies, my child passes, a beloved friend dies. If I don't grieve I'm not a human being, but grief is the revelation of a certain limited kind of love that invites me to see that because the person's gone doesn't mean love is. Love can't die. So, when I revisit the grief and revisit the grief, it's not 'cause I'm revisiting a love lost, I'm revisiting a part of myself that loves to feel what it does, and would rather feel that pain than be a person who moves on and discovers there's another order of love possible in that very moment. So it's in scale. Guy Finley: And I hope I didn't lose anybody, but that's why we stay in relationships not just with people but with our own problems, our own pains, because we don't know who to be without that dependency on something through which we derive an identity, as painful as it may be. Neil Sattin: So maybe... This might be our last question for today. Not because we couldn't keep going, 'cause... Guy Finley: I understand, Neil. Neil Sattin: We could keep going for sure. And Guy, I'm so appreciative of just who you are and the openheartedness that you bring to these questions. What's illuminated for me in this moment is wondering about the fear that keeps people in place. Guy Finley: Yes. So let's write this... Go ahead, please, I'm sorry. Neil Sattin: Yeah, so it feels like that's the last piece of this puzzle where we've landed today has been around this question of what do you do with the pain, what do you do with an aching heart? What do you do when there's when there's... And how do you know if there's too much pain? And what do you do when you're weighing the choice to stay or go? Which is this what I'm hearing you say is it's often centered around, do I choose what I know myself to be, which is who I am in relation to this situation, or do I choose the unknown along with the way that a choice to leave often impacts our family, our children, our friends, there are ripples to that kind of decision. Guy Finley: Of course. Neil Sattin: Yeah, so when faced with that, what do you do? Guy Finley: It's probably uncountable how many relationships there are on this planet that have become stale, stagnant and that basically trundle on from day to day because one or the other, and it's usually both, has just stopped growing. And we're all masters at blaming our partner for being the one who doesn't grow, because we can so easily identify in them the limitations that we're aware of in them, never dawning on us that judging a limitation in our partner and holding their feet to the fire for it is our limitation. Guy Finley: So that the question is really underneath all of this, do I want to grow as a human being? Because honestly, Neil, we either grow or we die. We begin dying as human beings most of us in our 20s because we're so habituated to some status quo, where out of the fear of loss, of negativity, of meeting parts of ourselves, we compromise with everyone and everything, just so that the boat doesn't rock, and we wind up in a reality that's a dream and that anything that shakes the dream is seen as a nightmare, when the real nightmare is the dream we're in because it's keeping us from growing. So we reach a point where we need to understand that the real dissatisfaction in this instance, say, with our partner, whether they've stayed with us or left us, is because there's something in me that is offered in that relationship, a chance to grow beyond who and what I've been. Guy Finley: Now in relationships that are intact, those moments come when I'm willing to understand that my partner may be in pain and that's why they made that punitive remark, and rather than responding in unkindness, fighting as we do tit for tat, I use that moment to discover in myself something that believes it's beyond question. You can't ask me something like that. Your opinion doesn't count, only mine. And then when we see that in ourselves, the very revelation is the beginning of its transformation, 'cause now I know something about my own consciousness I didn't before. I am growing. And whether my partner wants to grow or not, that's not the issue, because if I continue to grow, I will reach a point where I have outgrown my partner and there will be no question about it. Guy Finley: Not that it won't be painful. So let's say I've reached the point where I've outgrown my partner or my partner's left me for whatever reason, and then I'm sitting there and I'm going, "Well, now what's going to happen?" I'm afraid, and I'm afraid because I don't know what's coming literally in the next moment, other than some terrible thought I wish I didn't have, so when it comes to the fear of the future, let's be clear about that, everybody. Again, the context, do I want to grow or not? There is no fear of the future, Neil, without negative imagination, period. There is no fear of the future without negative imagination. Guy Finley: So now where's the responsibility for the fear? In the person that left me, in the great unknown that sits before me, or is the unknown that just before me, my demand that I know what's coming so that I know who I am and how to handle it. And when we start having this kind of understanding, she betrayed me. He stole from me. What's going to happen, what am I to do? And then you realize that to take thought in that moment about what's going to happen to you downstream is the same as going into another dream that is just a continuation of that consciousness, instead of the end of a relationship with that consciousness, because now it's very clear to you, the task here isn't to go into thought, the task is to remain as present as I can to everything that I see and feel in myself. Guy Finley: And then don't ask, well, where is the limit? How much pain can I take? You'll know. The body shuts itself down. Literally, a person who will really attend to themselves in these heightened moments will likely fall asleep, because the resistance is so great, but you will have gained that much strength in understanding by going through that exercise. So if we will be true to ourselves as best we know how to be true to ourselves, given a new understanding of what it means to be true to ourselves, then we cannot fail. Every effort that we make along the lines of understanding that we mustn't take thought to end torment, because thought itself is the source of the torment, but rather we must become aware of thought, of the thinker, of the planner, of the one imagining, of the one afraid, and every bit of light we bring into that darkness, that darkness is changed in some commensurate level. That's a law. And as the darkness is brought into that light, that's the same as integrating ourselves and that's the purpose of love. Guy Finley: And we know what to do with our relationships, even when we don't really know what to do when they throw us the curve, 'cause we don't go running out trying to find another ball game, another place to play. We use what's given to us as it's given to us, and then discover for ourselves the purpose of what was given to us, and then everything's quite perfect for us in that moment, even though there's pain. Neil Sattin: Yeah, I think the phrase that comes up for me that I'm extracting from what you said was, well, a couple of things. One is a commitment to growth and faith even in a... Yeah, okay, I'm in pain, and I believe in my capacity to grow, to change, to shift, and even if I'm not growing the way that my partner wanted me to grow, I still am having faith in my ability to grow in this moment. Guy Finley: Neil, your partner didn't put you on this planet. God did. I'd rather have the divine plan then be delivered into the hands of my partner and his or her plan, believe me, or for that matter, my own plan 'cause that's where most of the fear is. Neil Sattin: Yeah, do you have a moment for one more question, Guy, before we go? Guy Finley: Sure, go ahead, Neil. Neil Sattin: What do you think has kept you in your relationship for 40 years instead of at some point deciding that it was time to go for a new adventure? Guy Finley: Honestly, I don't think I can answer it. It could be argued, I think, Neil, that every relationship that we enter into is for the length of that relationship manifested for the purpose of the development of our soul, and that at some point when we are sufficiently developed, which we are not the ones who decide that, please, we will enter into more abiding relationships, because the capacity to act as a conscious mirror of our partner and vice versa, has reached a point where we understand that this is perfect for us, I couldn't imagine another partner, and I know she couldn't either, but I didn't create that, she didn't create that, but we both agreed to go through those consciousness-shaking conditions, both individually and collectively, that bring about what you intimated a moment ago, which is not just the all-abiding wish and intention to grow as a human being, but a faith that life creates the conditions for that growth through our relationships, so that the faith in the goodness of life, the understanding that love is in fact the basis of relationship allows us to work and remain as present as we can to the conditions where we discover that love in fact was behind that moment, wanted or not. Guy Finley: Then you enter into a completely different relationship with life and your partner is obviously a big part of it. But now, everything serves that purpose, Neil, everything, literally everything. In the East, they call it polishing the mirror, and the more the mirror is polished, the more perfectly it reflects the world, until one day, and heck of a place to end this interview, but then, one day you realize the world that you're looking at is not out there, the universe is in you, literally, your partner is in you, everything is in you. I don't know how it happens, but that's the case, that's the only way we know what we know and feel and experience about what we see because, really, we're just seeing aspects of our own consciousness, and that's when a person begins to be grateful for everything they see, because everything is revelation, everything, every revelation is a form of integration, and it's endless. That's the majesty of God, that's the majesty of the divine. Neil Sattin: Well, that is quite a place to end our conversation. Guy Finley: I told you. Maybe we'll have another conversation in six months and we can pick up there, huh? Guy Finley: I think so, because just like the last one, I think there's so much meat here for us to work with. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to digesting this conversation. And for the vegetarians there's a lot of tofu here to toss around and... Yeah, and I think I'm going to be so curious to hear how this impacts you as a listener, because we dove deep into this topic that I think is what brings so many of us here to this podcast. I hope that at least to some level, people are here because they're in a good situation and they want to make it better, and being honest, I think a lot of people come here because things could, they want things to be better in some way. So... Guy Finley: I have one closing comment. Neil Sattin: Go for it. Guy Finley: It isn't... We cannot explore our strength without exploring our weakness and when we understand that they are not separate issues, then we're very close to not being afraid of ourselves anymore. That's it. Neil Sattin: Yeah. So as you're polishing the mirror, be looking in the mirror, 'cause there's lots to be revealed. Guy Finley: Absolutely, and if I may, can I tell people where they might, if they're interested, get the Relationship book? Neil Sattin: Of course, yes. Guy Finley: If you want to look at these ideas, please visit relationshipmagicbook.com, one word, relationshipmagicbook.com, and my foundation has put up a very special offer on a page there where you can get the free audible version of the book that I've read as well for the same inexpensive price. So relationshipmagicbook.com, and if you want to visit my website, it's guyfinley.org, GUYFINLEY.org, you can visit that site and literally stay there for years, free. There's a wisdom school there, where men and women from all over the world gather every week online. You can learn about that. It's incredibly inexpensive, less than the cost of a Starbuck. And lastly, if you want... I've just begun, God help me, I'm on Twitter, I post daily Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. So if you want to find out anything more about it, Google. Google Guy Finley. But I've given you some good places to start. Neil Sattin: Awesome. And we will have links to all of that in the show notes and transcript, which as a reminder, if you want to grab, you can visit neilsattin.com/magic2, that's the word magic and the number 2, or you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. Guy, I'm so appreciative of your time, your wisdom, your heart and your friendship, and thank you so much for being here with us today. I'm looking forward to a future conversation and I'm also just so appreciative of your contribution to the world, so powerful. Guy Finley: Thank you, Neil, thank you so much. 

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#6

128: Practical Masculinity: Beyond Stereotypes - with Shana James

February 03, 2018 • 53m

How do you embody masculinity in a way that creates more connection and passion in your relationship? How do you avoid the stereotypes, while still getting the benefit of positive polarity in your relationship? Is there even a point to talking about “masculine” vs. “feminine” (and if so, what is it?)? Today’s episode is a conversation with Shana James, men’s coach and host of the Man Alive podcast. We take apart the myths of what it means to be a “real man” - and explore how you can get beyond what you’re “supposed to” be, uncover the true you, and bring all of you to your relationship. Learn how to break out of the box in a way that keeps you connected to the people who matter most. Please enjoy this week’s episode, with Shana James, on Relationship Alive! Resources: Here is a link to Relationship Alive episode 20, my first conversation with Shana James on Sparking Passion through Generosity and Authenticity Visit Shana James’s website to check out the Man Alive podcast AND pick up her free guide to the Unknown Skill that helps men succeed in life, career, and relationships. FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide Relationship Alive Community on Facebook Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out visit http://www.neilsattin.com/128 to download the transcript for this episode, or text the word "PASSION" to the number 33444. Transcript: Neil Sattin: All right. Hello and welcome to another episode of ... Shana James: Man Alive, and welcome to another episode of ... Neil Sattin: Relationship Alive. We are your hosts ... Shana James: Neil Sattin. Neil Sattin: And Shana James, and we're here today to talk about some really important topics that we each wanted to cover on our respective podcasts, and so we thought, "Why not ..." Shana James: Become each other and do it together. Neil Sattin: Right. We will merge like you're not supposed to do, but why don't we come together and talk about it, and so we have it for each of our shows? Shana James: I love it. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: I love it. Yeah. We've been really going back and forth around this idea of the stereotypical masculine and some frameworks out there that in some ways have been really helpful for men, and have had men step into more of their power, and confidence, and have deeper connections, and in other ways have, what might you say, pushed men into shame, and feeling wrong, and feeling they're out of one box and into another box, and feeling confined, and so really wanting to look at if we are going to take on or if men are going to take on a kind of archetype or ideas of masculinity. How can they be played with versus ... How did you say it? Versus constricting or something like that? Neil Sattin: Constricting. Yeah. Yeah, and this question too of whenever, if you're feeling like you should be some way, whatever way that is, how's that going to impact you? How's that going to impact your relationships, and because my show, like ... Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: This is interesting because my show is all focused on relationship, and Shana, your show is called 'Man Alive', so it's all about this question of how men can step into who they are. Shana James: Yeah. Yeah. Neil Sattin: I was wondering before we got on, I was thinking like, "Is there a difference when ...? Is there something about men stepping into who they are where that could in and of itself get in the way in relationship?" Shana James: Interesting, so the question being if men are themselves for lack of a more specific way to say it right now. Right? Like if a man actually discovers who he is, his own needs, his desires, his truth, that it could actually get in the way of a relationship? Neil Sattin: That was the question. Shana James: That's the question. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I say that because when I'm looking at a lot of ... Shana James: Interesting. Neil Sattin: I like the word you used, 'Framework', so I'm looking at some of the frameworks that are becoming more and more popular now as a way of I think reeling ourselves back from men and women being the same, and so trying to reclaim some of the polarity and the difference, and the beards I guess. Shana James: Yeah. Yeah. Neil Sattin: As I look at that, I can see that there's a lot in that that actually does help us, men ... I'm just speaking for myself here, step into more of who we are. In fact, I even grew this out a little bit for our conversation. Shana James: "This" being "a beard" because some people are not watching this... Neil Sattin: Right. My beard. Right. You might not be watching, so I grew my beard out. That's an important thing to note. Shana James: Yes. Neil Sattin: That being said, when you start talking about what's involved in people actually relating to each other, then I don't think that those answers necessarily are long-term solutions. They could provide short-term solutions, but over the- Shana James: The answers of like, "Here's how to be a more masculine, or more of a man?" Neil Sattin: Here's how to be more of a man. Yeah. Yeah. Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Take charge, buy a gun, grow a beard, drive your truck, and own all of the archetypal or really stereotypical manly things. Shana James: This is so interesting because hearing you say that, I'm like, "Oh, that wasn't the frameworks I was talking about about being a man." I was thinking more of the frameworks of David Deida and some other people out there who talk about a kind of masculine power that has to do with presence and solidity that I'm getting a little tongue in cheek in the way I'm saying this, but I do think they're actually really powerful ways that a man or a woman ... I mean, we could talk about it. Right? Masculine and feminine to me doesn't mean man, woman, but yeah, so probably important that you and I get on the same page. Are we actually talking about the same frameworks or do we have different frameworks we're thinking of? Neil Sattin: I think that's why it's so important that we have this conversation, and of course, I was being a little facetious about the gun and the pick-up truck, and the beard for that matter, and you might be able to hear there's a plow actually. Shana James: Yeah. Yes. Neil Sattin: I wish I were driving that plow. It feels so much more masculine as well. Shana James: Manly than sitting here, doing a podcast. Neil Sattin: Right. Right, or, "Why’d I get the plow? I should be out there shoveling like a real man." Shana James: Right. The whole idea of being a real man. See, my sense- Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: Right? This is where it gets confusing. I think a lot of the frameworks out there ... My sense is that their intention in some of these more conscious realms and tantra and personal growth is to help men step away from some kind of box of, "Here's what you have to be to be a man", and yet, I think they have a negative spin sometimes where men take it on as, "Oh, now I'm supposed to do this to be a man. Right now, I'm supposed to be more present." Neil Sattin: Right. Shana James: "Now, I'm supposed to lead. I have to lead every action." Neil Sattin: Exactly. Shana James: Right? Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. "I'm supposed to lead. I'm supposed to open my woman" if we're talking about a heterosexual relationship... Shana James: If we're talking heterosexual. Neil Sattin: Right, and there's no room for me to be uncertain or vulnerable, or weak, or ... Yeah. Shana James: Which is so interesting because a lot of the work that I do with men is around how to be able to bring vulnerability, shame, weakness, desire, whatever our weaknesses and what I think makes me weak, but in a more powerful way, which again, I think could be confusing, but in a way, the way I describe it is like, "I have these vulnerable parts of me, and ultimately, I know I'm a good person or I'm a good man." Like, "I know there's more to me. I know that these things don't make me unlovable or unworthy, and so I can bring these forward in relationship" or in another, any kind of relationship, but let's say also romantic relationship with a partner, and not fall into, "I need you to tell me I'm okay. I need you to tell me I'm good enough. I need you to fix me or make me feel better about myself." Neil Sattin: Right. Right. There is that sense of, how do you enter a relationship without either partner feeling like, "Wow. You're here to save me", and whatever that translates into, if it's one partner needing to be the hero of the relationship or one person needing to be the caretaker of the relationship? Shana James: Right, and they're needing to be saved. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: Then, what is it like to come into a relationship knowing that there's potential for healing and growth without needing to fix or save each other? Right? That to me is a kind of mastery. Can we love each other through these challenging moments of vulnerability for both of us, whatever gender we are? That's one end of the spectrum. Shana James: That to me feels a little bit more like the Yin or a certain kind of foundation of connection, and then, you also mentioned earlier, polarity. Right? Then, how do we keep that spark alive also? Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and this is an important place as well because I think the reason that the more stereotypical kinds of frameworks hold so much power is if you're in a relationship where that's not happening at all, then you can hear that and feel like, "That's exactly what's missing. I need that." Whether it's, "I need to be led and opened", like, "I'm tired of making all the decisions", or, "I'm tired of your" whatever it is, or it's like, "Yeah, I need to step more into that powerful presence. For some reason, I've been scared to do that, or I've been holding back because I'm not feeling confident in expressing myself that way." Shana James: Yeah. Right. Neil Sattin: If that's place you're in, and then you hear someone's saying like, "Yeah. Step into your power and lead, and be opened" or whatever it is, then it can be like, "Wow. What a relief!" Like, "Yes, let's do that." Shana James: Right. It gives permission in a way like, "Oh, I can lead and I can take charge, and I don't have to be that asshole I saw my dad be or some other men in the past who were doing it without care for other people." I've definitely seen that help men feel more empowered. Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah, and- Shana James: And, or, but. Neil Sattin: It's like ... Two things come to mind. One is that it could certainly infuse some energy into a situation that that feels stale or stagnant, like where it's just you need something to get the whole thing moving, but on the flip side, there is this question, and this is something I've talked about on my show, you've probably talked about it on yours, of as soon as we're stepping into roles or scripts of how we're supposed to be, that actually can kill the things that create juice in a relationship that are about being in the moment, being spontaneous, owning who you are, which to me, doesn't have anything to do with whether my wife can hold my beard while we're having sex. Shana James: Yeah. Right. You mean that metaphorically? What does holding your beard mean? Neil Sattin: I was just imagining like I've grown out this big beard. I don't have a big beard like that, but it's like just saying, "Yeah", that there's a point where even if we're wearing the costume that we're supposed to be wearing, and presenting the way we're supposed to be presenting, that there's a place where that play will be satisfying, but if you watch the same play over and over and over again, it's going to get old. Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: If you're in that play over and over again, it's going to get old. Shana James: Yeah. It's getting old, or if you're in a play, that I do believe that some fake it until you make it can actually work. Right? It can jump-start the engine let's say, or it can give us access to certain parts of us whether it's in the realm of leading or surrendering our vulnerability that we haven't had before, and it can be a tricky line. Right? Shana James: Like, "When is it faking it until I'm making it, and when is it that I'm just continuing to fake it?", because anywhere I think where we keep doing something because we're supposed to, I mean, maybe that's the heart of it. Right? It's like, "Oh, I am supposed to do this thing", versus, "When I do it, I feel more", and this might take some describing, but like, "I feel more aligned in myself. I feel more alive. I feel more true." Shana James: "I feel more open. I feel more joyous. I feel more vital." Right? Like, "Where is it that we put these roles in as a "supposed to" as opposed to, "I'm going to try on this role", or, "I'm going to put on a new costume and see how does it fit with me. Does it give me more access to my voice, and my truth, and my power, or does it have me feel stilted and constrained?" Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and you can come at it from the other angle too where authenticity can also be a trap. Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Perhaps you've seen this where someone feels like, "Oh, I'm just being me." Shana James: Yes. Neil Sattin: Like, "It's me to not take the initiative ever in bed." Shana James: Right. Neil Sattin: I don't know why we keep talking about bed, but let's just say- Shana James: It's a concrete example. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Sure, and mine is right over there, so I keep looking at it, but yeah. Authenticity can also be a trap, and there's that question of, "How do you be authentic without being held back by your authenticity as its own prescription or role?" Shana James: Right. Neil Sattin: I'm thinking about how you and I even met. Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: I can't remember if we spoke about this in the episode that we did together for the Relationship Alive Podcast. We may have addressed it, but Shana, you were coaching for the Authentic Man Program, and I saw you in a video, and I thought, "I want to be her friend." That's like the ultra condensed version of the story, but I was in a place where I was married to my first wife, and really unhappy, and trying to figure out why I was so unhappy. Shana James: Right. Neil Sattin: That was how I came across Authentic Man Program. Shana James: Right. Neil Sattin: I was thinking about that as I was pondering this conversation that we were going to have, and thinking like, "Right. We came to know each other in this realm of not putting on anything fake, like learning how to be present, learning how to give attention in a way, where you're not losing yourself, learning how to stand in who you are." Shana James: Yeah. Right. When I think about the Authentic Man Program and all the work I've done with men and you've done with people, I mean, I don't want to speak for you, but there is a paradox or an overlap or a something between helping, for me, helping support men to find their authenticity, and I guess I probably have a bias or a belief that authenticity is not ... What did you say? Something about like never making decisions, or like that authenticity is not a lack of energy, or a lack of life force in me. Shana James: I think I have a bias or a belief that authenticity is a kind of fullness of life force and that that could be sadness, that could be anger, that could be joy, but that ultimately, there is this sense of, "When I check in with myself, I feel good about the choices I'm making, I have access to create what I want to create." Not that I should be creating something or you should be creating something in particular, but that I know that I can create what I want, and so if a man comes and he's ... I've often said this, like some men have more of a heart-based, and some men, there's humor, and other men, there's just intellect that is through the roof, and other men, there's more of like this mysterious quality, and I don't try to steer men toward one way or like a cookie-cutter mold, but more to find what is your unique expression. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. I appreciate that, that there's not this sense that anyone of those things is necessarily bad, though when anyone of those things is running the show, that's where you end up disconnected or you lose access to parts of you that help you connect. Shana James: Yes. Exactly. Exactly. Neil Sattin: We're talking about it in this realm of connection, and that's where I tend to dance is like, "Okay. If I'm coming to you and I'm ..." I mean, it's maybe a little easier when you think about like, "I'm angry", or "I'm really sad about something", but I want to even think like, "What if I were really depressed and exhausted?" Shana James: Right. Neil Sattin: "What if I were spent?" This is like stretching what we're talking about a little bit because that is maybe a state where you're not in your energy, in your power. Shana James: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Neil Sattin: How do you be authentically that while I'm depleted, but in relationship, how do you bring that so that it is a force that connects you, so even if you're depleted, you're still able to be with the person that you're with? Shana James: I love that. Right, and then it doesn't have to be the most passionate connection or the most exciting connection in that moment, but it might be more of a tender or a quiet connection. I love what you're saying. I just had a thought, which may have flown out of my mind when you said about being depressed or ... It's like ... Right. Shana James: How do ... Maybe there's something in here about, "I'm trying to be something so someone else will want me, or love me, or believe in me", versus, "Oh, I feel depleted right now. I feel depleted right, and I still care about you", or even in a work context. "I feel depleted right now, and I'm still here committed to getting this job done or something", but is there a way that we don't have to hide what's really going on, and at the same time, how do we bring those parts of ourselves in a way that creates more connection rather than pushes someone away? What might be the most authentic thing in that moment is, "Actually, I need some space. I need to move away from you, but I still believe we can do it in a connected way." Neil Sattin: Yeah, which bumps right up against the men need their space kind of mentality, that that's somehow part of the masculine archetype is taking space and going into your cave to figure shit out, and if you don't, now you're what? Shana James: Right. Right. Neil Sattin: I don't know. You've been, you're more feminine because you want to- Shana James: I was going to say a pussy, and I hate when people say that, but it's like I think that is this idea or ... Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: Then, in some realms where I've seen men learn, "Okay. Don't bring your struggles to a woman or to a partner", and again, I see the paradox of if we bring all of our struggles to our primary partner, I think that can create a heaviness and a feeling of like, "Oh, God." We're always going to be struggling together, but if you don't bring anything to your partner, then you don't know each other, and it's all based on this more surface experience to get there. Neil Sattin: Yeah, and you missed the opportunity of pooling your resources with your partner, and sometimes, that one of you is depleted and the other of you carries the weight, and that's not gender-dependent or spectrum-dependent, but that's- Shana James: Right. Yeah. Right, and I- Neil Sattin: Go ahead. Shana James: No, no. You go. Neil Sattin: I was just going to say, so it's a dynamic, and the question for me is, "How do you ...?" Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: When you're talking about polarity, the whole point is to create a dynamism in your connection, so how do you keep things dynamic? Shana James: Yes. Neil Sattin: You don't do it by necessarily being the same way all the time. That's for sure. Shana James: Right. I like that you just went back to, "What's the point?" Right? "What's the why? What are we going for here?", versus I've learned the art of setting context for something. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: Right? Like, "I'd like to try leading you around for the next 10 minutes because I want to see what it feels like in my body to unapologetically take control while still being connected to you in your heart and what's good for you", versus a lack of context, which is just like, "I want to try taking on this role. I want to lead you around." There's a way I think when we know for ourselves why we're doing something, and when we can communicate it to others, it puts us I think in a deeper place of connection of, "Oh, now we're more on the same team, we're trying something out together, we have a sense of why we're doing what we're doing", and then I think if you have a why, there could be endless number of "hows" to get there, versus, I'm going to focus on, "What's the correct how?" Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah. Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I like that. I like how what you're talking about sounds so collaborative because that's another relationship problem where each person feels like they're alone in their silo to try and figure out how the hell to make a change or make a difference, or like they just got to figure it out. Shana James: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Neil Sattin: That can sometimes really feel true when you're in relationship with someone who's a little shut-down and who doesn't want to have the conversation about like, "I don't want to be invited into leading you", or "I don't want to be invited into being led by you". That sounds scary, or, "I'm not even there." Shana James: Right, and that could be a whole another conversation like, "What do you do?" Maybe you've probably ... I imagine you've addressed this in your podcast. What do you do when you have a partner who doesn't feel willing or isn't wanting to stretch, or grow, or expand, or change things if there's something that you're wanting? I mean, that's a whole another ball of wax we could get into. Neil Sattin: It's one thing about I think what we were talking about before we officially started, which is conscious relationship, and how our relationships really do require something different, and this is something I think about a lot because I work with a lot of couples where one of them is in that situation, and the question does come up for me, like, "Does this mean that there are a lot of partnerships that really aren't destined to stay together because one is just going to be on a growth path, and the other one isn't and has no interest?" Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: For me, that balances out with having experienced actually that even that -  even like having a foundation of like, "Yeah. I want to be a better person" - there are times when I don't feel like changing. There are times where I'm stuck in who I am. Shana James: Right. Right. Neil Sattin: There are times where Chloe, my wife, where she will say, point out something that is represents an old pattern of mine, and I'm irritated, and I don't want to do anything about it, so there is space in a situation that feels hopeless if you can stay engaged, and that's really the art of what you're talking about. It's like - How do you show up even then in a way that doesn't become about, "You should be growth-oriented because otherwise, how are we going to have a conscious relationship" that doesn't become that, because now it's just become oddly confining, even though it's about growth and change? Shana James: Yeah. Right. Neil Sattin: I mean, at some point, you got to be able to figure out like, "All right. Are our values aligned enough that we're on this journey together, or are they not?" Shana James: Back to values. Yeah. Yeah. I just did a conversation last week that where we got into ... Right. What are each person's values and how often people don't necessarily know their values. Shana James: I mean, I remember doing some coaching before I got married, and we did some values conversations and where our values were differing and where they were the same and overlapped, and yeah. In some ways, we still ended up getting divorced, and we both I think are on a path of growth, but a different kind of growth, or then we had a kid and all kinds of things started to show up. I think I also want to speak a word to the complicated nature of relationships, and in our culture, it can seem like if you don't stay together with someone, it's a failure, but I'm also aware that now, we're ... I don't know. We're on a different topic in a way of conscious relationship, and what is conscious relationship, or how do we stay connected? Shana James: How do we collaborate? How do we be on the same team? Maybe it's all still ... I think it all still is connected, but also, this idea of how to not get stuck in a stereotypical masculine role as we're becoming more conscious maybe. Neil Sattin: Right. I think where I start to get a little nervous is where these frameworks, as you've been talking about for masculinity, where they potentially become problematic, where they're actually if you're not bringing consciousness to them, then they become the source of problems -  and I can't help but think at the moment of, "#Metoo", and just how much of that is about  - more like this shadow masculinity. Right? Shana James: Then, it's like are we talking about like unconsciously masculine or consciously masculine, because I think the unconscious or the box of kind of cultural definition of masculine is be strong, be powerful, go after what you want, don't apologize. Neil Sattin: Right. Shana James: At the same time, I know a lot of men, especially men who come to me, who have had really loving women in their lives, and they've been taught to be nice, and be good, and not overstep their bounds, and be respectful, and I think it has often put men in a bind like, "Wait. I'm supposed to be strong and powerful and not admit to any weakness. Wait, but then, I'm supposed to be kind, and loving, and caring, and what the fuck do I do now, and how do I actually express myself, or how do I share my needs and desires, let alone, even get them met?", and so I think the next step ... I don't know. Maybe this is arrogant to say or too conclusive, but it feels like there's a step in masculine evolution where, and sometimes the way I talk about it is head, heart and sex or head, heart and balls balance. Shana James: Right? This way of both heart and love and care and sexuality being the dials turned up in a way to a hundred percent. Like I don't know if I give up my heart and my care to be very powerful or sexual or confidence, and then I think men can get out in the world in a powerful way, and co-create or collaborate - versus the false power I see, which is, "I don't feel powerful, so I'm going to try and take because I think that's the only way I could get it." Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. What I like to add if this fits into people's paradigms in that "head, heart, balls" is also your connection to "spirit." Shana James: Totally. I've been realizing that lately, that I'm like, "Oh, it's missing that fourth piece." Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and how that fuels your connection to something greater. Shana James: Yeah. Yes. Neil Sattin: You're being part of the whole, how we're actually connected to other beings. Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: It becomes a lot more challenging to do things that are, let's just call it since you did it earlier beautifully, the unconscious masculine. It becomes a lot more challenging to do that if you're aware, if you're conscious of "Oh, we're actually connected, so why would I do that to you?" Shana James: Right. Right. Right. Neil Sattin: Why would I act upon you instead of bringing some ferocity in that still is able to be WITH you? Shana James: Right. Right, and I think some of my favorite experiences of a man's expression of power, they really come with this, there's an intensity like you said or sometimes ferocity, but sometimes just an intensity. An intensity of loving or an intensity of passion, and it's so clear to me that I'm cared about and that they want something good for me too, and yeah. I love bringing in the soul element, because in the soul, in my experience, there isn't really a masculine, feminine. It's more of this pure just being. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and it also, like as you were saying that, I started to feel like, "Right", and there's a difference between, "I'm with you so that I can get my needs met" versus, "We're together so that we can get our needs met", and how that changes the dynamic. Shana James: Yes. Neil Sattin: Then, it's not like you were saying earlier, it's not about taking what you need. Shana James: Yes. Neil Sattin: It's about, "How are we going to get this together?" Shana James: Right, which I'm wondering, okay, if we bring that back into this stereotypical masculinization or idea of masculine, whether it's in a business context or a relationship context or a family context, when there is a sense of a man getting his own, that his own needs and desires are valuable, valued, important, and that so is "the other's" needs and desires. I just, I wonder then how that impacts, and how to move beyond like I was saying before, this conflict of, "Wait. I'm supposed to be the rock. I'm not supposed to have any vulnerability. I'm supposed to be nice and take care of others", and I do see this next stepping stone or next evolution of, "Oh, I can be powerfully grounded in myself, value myself, believe in my own self-worth, and also share I feel really vulnerable right now, and I feel moved to tears right now, or I feel really sad that there's something happening in this relationship that it's painful for me, or something I'm not getting that I don't know if I need to get it from you or not, but I'm not feeling loved, I'm not feeling affection, I'm not ..." Those things. Shana James: Right? Can we actually come to the table and, I think express a kind of powerful vulnerability, or that vulnerability itself to me is power. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. I want your opinion on something, and at the same time, let's try to shift our conversation, if we can, to get ... let's see how practical we can get", because I don't know that this is going to be practical, but let's- Shana James: Yeah. Okay. Let's see. Neil Sattin: This is the question. The question is, "Why even talk about masculine and feminine?", because in my experience if two people come together and they're willing to be in who they are to be impacted by each other, to speak to that, and sometimes that "speaking" is the voice, but other times it's how you touch, how you ... It could be anything. Right? It's not just like blah, blah, "We're going to talk about it", but if two people are doing that, that's where the energy is, and it's not necessarily about leading or following. Shana James: Being more masculine. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Exactly. It's actually about what it feels like to be more real, and we got, like I'm somehow back at that authenticity piece. It's just like be authentic with your partner, and there you are. Shana James: Right. Neil Sattin: You're going to find your way into masculine, feminine. I'm just looking inside, like sometimes, you might be more like the tree, or the snowflake, or the squirrel, or the bear, or- Shana James: Or the root of the tree, or the leaves of the tree. Right. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: Right. If we actually let go of, "I'm supposed to be some way that is either feminine or masculine", would things just take shape in an easier way? Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: Then, I think the question of authenticity though can be so confusing for people because at least from my perspective, we've all been conditioned from such a young age that it's hard to know what's authentic, like what's true for us, but in the context, I found myself saying this recently, like I feel like an explorer. I love to explore dynamics and the inner world and the outer world, and, "What happens if I do this, and how will you react if I do that?" Yeah. I wonder if there's a context of play, and I don't know that I have an answer for this, but I like the idea of taking on experiments and time-bound experiments, and so for those who are in relationship, what might it be like for a day or a week to say, "You know what? I'm going to let go of any ideas of masculine, feminine, anything, and I'm just going to see what I feel moved to do." Shana James: Some of that might be scary. Right? Some of that might feel like, "This is really awkward or uncomfortable, but I'm noticing I feel moved to cry in your arms even though I don't even know if I can, or I'm noticing I feel moved to take you into the bedroom and have my way with you", or like any of those things, man, woman, masculine, feminine aside. That could be a really interesting experiment, and the opposite could be interesting too, or opposite being like, "What if we really put attention on a masculine or a feminine dynamic, and what if we each took on the other?" I don't know that I have any concrete answers, but I think in practical terms, to become an explorer and to see what brings me more energy, and vitality, and excitement, and connection in the moment feels like an interesting way to go for me. Neil Sattin: Yeah. There's something about when you said, "Let's each be the other." Shana James: The other. Neil Sattin: What that sparked in me was, "Right - That makes a ton of sense" because if I'm going to be more feminine, let's say in that context, hanging out with Chloe, then the odds are that I'm going to do it in a way that on some level, I'm looking for - that I feel is lacking. It's almost like if she were to be like, "Tell me how to be a woman. I don't really know", or, "Tell me how to be a man. I don't know what you're missing. I'm just being me." Neil Sattin: Like, "Show me", and I could see that being valuable that there's some potential for it to feel ... Like you got to be in the spirit of play. Shana James: Exactly. Right. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. You don't want to be in the spirit of being critical or judgmental, or, "I'm going to show you what I've been missing from you, but-" Shana James: Right. Right. What if it's just about me? It's not about what I've been missing with us. It's more like, "Oh, do I let myself ... Shana James: When I look at the whole spectrum of how I could express myself and what I could do and say, where are the places I'm not thinking it's okay to go? For some people, for a lot of people, that's anger. For me, I've also noticed it's joy. I hold back my joy. If someone else feels less joyful than me, I feel a little guilty feeling joy or playful, and I have seen that for other people too, so again, maybe another practical way is starting to consider, and you could do this even with a partner or a friend, like, "Where do I see you holding back from what could be called a 'Natural expression'?", and that with anger, we don't have to take our anger out on someone or blame or attack someone, but at the end of my last relationship, I had this really interesting experience where I started getting a little more frustrated, and at the end, he said something like, "I don't think you're as nice as you think you are." Shana James: I said, "That's totally true actually. I believe you. I try to be nicer than I am, and there are things that bothered me that I don't speak to, and I try to just shove under the rug", because I'm like, "Oh, that's not a big deal." Then, it'll come back out later, but when I went to one of my teachers and I told her that, she laughed and she said, "Actually, I think you're nicer than you think you are." It was just this really brilliant counterpoint where she was pointing out like, "That in my soul, I actually am really loving", and it was my ego or my identity that started getting contracted and started reacting in certain ways, and if I throw all that away, there's this way of like, "Oh, how can I give voice to all of those parts of myself, whether it's nice or not nice, or ...?" Shana James: You know what I mean, and play with that in the spirit of play like you said so that we have more choice, not because now, I'm supposed to be a certain way, but so that we have more choice and freedom to be who we are? Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. Just to be clear, I wasn't saying that we should embody what we want in our partner. I was just postulating that. Shana James: That that could happen. Neil Sattin: Maybe what emerges is that because our idea of what that other is - if it's something we're wanting from our, more of from our partner, then we're going to show it in the way that we've been wanting. Shana James: Yeah. Yes. Right. That could be very interesting. Neil Sattin: That could go for, like you could decide, "I'm going to play in the realm of being more like a tree". Like what is it like to be the grand oak that lives for hundreds of years for the next week, and what kind of perspective does that give me if I bring that to our interactions versus like, "Yeah. I'm going to be the sapling that just grew and is new, and bendy, and playful?" Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: It's a totally different ... You can play with ... I mean, who says you have to be masculine and feminine? You could be any of these things in the spirit of trying out a new repertoire, and it's something that you can do on your own without telling your partner. Shana James: Right. Yeah. I like that. Neil Sattin: If they are tuned in, they might be like, "What are you doing? Why are you standing there with your arms out stretched all the time?" Shana James: I love that. I'm just wondering too as we're wrapping up if there's anything we each feel called to say, and maybe ... I mean, I feel moved to continue exploring this and see if there are anymore practical ways to apply this because I think this has been a very, in some ways, a roundabout conversation, but I like conversations and that it brings up ... It has us question our norms and structures and ways that we've held ourselves and thought we had to be, and somehow, I just felt called to what you said of these ways we think we're supposed to be and, yeah, what it's like to actually let go of. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. Shana James: I'm supposed to be some way, and I could see a lot of the men I've worked with or I've had these responses of like ... I actually had a man recently say, "I let go of being ..." What did he say? "It seems like women really like me for being this kind, gentlemanly person", and he was getting really frustrated, like, "That's not all of me, and I want to have to be good to be liked", and so actually, our next week session I said, "Let's really talk about this. I think this is one of my strengths is to help men move forward and connect in relationship while feeling their own strength and their own power, and their own commitment to their desires and truth, while also being able to connect and still have their care. It's like that balance again between the sex and the heart, or the whatever that kind of passion and heart or strength and heart. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I think what could be really helpful if someone was inclined to do this, and so if you're listening and you're thinking, "How can I get more related to what these guys have been talking about?", I could see listing, "I'm supposed to..." over and over again until you're ... Set a timer for 15 minutes because the first five minutes, you'll get all those things that are obvious, and then if you keep going, you'll start to discover even more about the scripts that you're playing, and it could be, "I'm supposed to be this way or I'm supposed to not be this other way" is another one, and then- Shana James: I love that. I just thought you and I should both do that and post ours and be vulnerable with that. Neil Sattin: Okay. I'll do that. Then, if you're in relationship, it might be great to share that. Shana James: Share that. Neil Sattin: Another twist on that could be, "I think my partner wants me to be..." Shana James: That's a great one. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Again, try to exhaust yourself in terms of what you write, so it's not just the first things that come to you. Shana James: Yeah. Yeah. Right. It's not what you already know - then you surprise yourself. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Right. Right. Then, when you can share that with your partner, there may be things where they're like, "Oh, yeah. I actually do want more of that from you, but I'm seeing how you think you're supposed to be this way," and it becomes a great opportunity for you to be in dialogue about, and to surface the roles that you each think you're supposed to be following. Shana James: Yes. Yes. Yes. I love that. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: Again, in service of choice more than not supposed to let go of these roles and take on some other role. Right? I think that's the endless hall of mirrors that we can get stuck in sometimes and to feel that sense of choice. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. That's an interesting one because what do you do with like you're supposed to be present? Shana James: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Like I'm going to tell you that in terms of how I see successful relationships, if you're not willing to be present, then you're screwed, like that doesn't mean you can't- Shana James: Right, and that doesn't mean I have to walk around a hundred percent of the time being present. I get to actually say to my partner, "Are you able to be present right now?", or, "Can we have this? When would be a good time?" Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: We do have to be willing to show up for each other I think in that way. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, so we are being a little prescriptive, but I feel like what we're being prescriptive with are with values that actually allow for a lot of flexibility. Shana James: Yes, versus stereotyped roles and ways we're supposed to be. Maybe we jut brought it all the way back. Neil Sattin: Yes. Shana James: Yes. All right. I think we could do a part two and part hundred. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Shana James: I think we could keep going with this. Neil Sattin: Probably. Shana James: I like this, but for now, that feels like a good place to come to a completion. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Shana, it's always great to ... I'm so glad that we're friends and it's such an honor to have you back on Relationship Alive to talk about this. Shana James: Thank you. I love that we're friends too and colleagues, and that you continue to inspire me, and we continue to talk about what it's like to be in relationships and new relationships in our later life, and to grow, and to be on this path of trying to figure out what the hell this is all about, so thank you for doing this with me. Neil Sattin: It's so important. Yeah. Absolutely.  

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#7

140: Mastering the Art of Inner Transformation - Internal Family Systems with Dick Schwartz

May 03, 2018 • 80m

How do you do the work of true inner transformation? If there are parts of you that are getting in the way - of intimacy, of thriving, of living in integrity - then you’re going to have a tough time realizing the full potential of your life and your relationships. However, you have everything you need inside of you - if you know how to access it! In today’s conversation, we’re getting a return visit from Dick Schwartz, creator of Internal Family Systems. We’ll be exploring this powerful way of finding your core resourcefulness - which he calls “Self” energy - and using it to help heal and grow the parts within you that are holding you back, or interfering with your vibrancy and effectiveness. You’ll learn how to identify the different parts within you, and the roles that they are playing, and you’ll also get a taste of what it’s like to be coming from “Self”. And at the end you will hear Dick Schwartz guide me through an actual journey of identifying a part that’s been impacting me in the here and now - and you’ll hear how he works with me, and that part, to heal and transform. It’s powerful, and vulnerable, and all here for you to experience on this week’s episode of the Relationship Alive podcast. And, as always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it! Sponsors: Thanks to all of YOU who are chipping in to support Relationship Alive! Resources: Listen to Relationship Alive Episode 26 with Dick Schwartz - How to Get All the Parts within You to Work Together Check out Dick Schwartz's website - the Center for Self Leadership Read Dick Schwartz’s Books along with others focusing on how to apply Internal Family Systems - both as a therapist, and for your life FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE) www.neilsattin.com/self2 Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Dick Schwartz Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out Transcript: Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Way back in Episode 26 of the Relationship Alive Podcast, we spoke with Dick Schwartz who is the Founder of Internal Family Systems which is a way of coming to understand how you operate in the world, the various parts of you that sometimes have very different agendas for you and your life. Of course, this can have an enormous impact on how you show up in relationship and just how you show up in life in general. Neil Sattin: Maybe you can relate to what I'm talking about, that feeling that one part of you wants one thing, another part of you wants another thing and how that can leave us paralyzed or maybe doing things that we're not necessarily proud of or that we didn't expect or that our partners didn't expect. Neil Sattin: The process of working with your internal family, all of the parts within you and how they interrelate and the process of finding your own self to lead the way, that was what we covered back in Episode 26. This conversation that we're about to have with Dick Schwartz about some of the finer points of Internal Family Systems and how it can be useful for you in your day to day life to see how it's impacting you, all these parts within you and to give you some really practical new things that you can try to help you get related to how this is impacting you, how it's impacting your relationship and that's where we're headed today. Neil Sattin: I'm very psyched to welcome back to the show Dick Schwartz to talk more about Internal Family Systems. He is the Head of the Center for Self Leadership, trains therapists all over the world and also has workshops for lay people to go through the process of self-discovery and healing and integration and bringing all of those parts back into harmony with each other. Neil Sattin: Dick Schwartz, thank you so much for joining us again on Relationship Alive. Dick Schwartz: Great to talk to you again Neil. I enjoyed our first conversation and you're a great interviewer. Neil Sattin: Thank you. Thank you. We'll see. I could have gotten worse in the past couple of years. Hopefully, not. I just gave a quick synopsis in that introduction. By the way, if want to download the transcript or action guide from this episode, you can visit neilsattin.com/self2, that's the word self and then the number two, or you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. Just didn't want to forget that because I'm sure we're going to cover a lot of ground. Neil Sattin: Given what I had said already, I'm wondering what are the salient points, what's your elevator speech about "this is what Internal Family Systems is, this is why it's so important"? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. I got to find the perfect elevator speech but I can elaborate a little bit on what you said. It's my belief that we all are multiple personalities, not in the sense that we have that disorder, but that we all have these what you were saying, we all have these parts that are little sub-minds inside of us and I mentioned too that I just wrote a book tracking the history of that in our culture and in psychotherapy that this idea has been in the field for years and years and comes up and then gets knocked down again. Dick Schwartz: I'm trying to resurrect it, that it's almost like that movie, Inside Out, only with a lot more than just the five that were in that movie where they interact with each other, that's what we call thinking often, and sometimes, one will take over and make us do things we don't want to do like you said. It's a little inner family or society that most of the time, we don't pay much attention to and think of it as just thinking or different emotions coming and going. Dick Schwartz: If you do shift your focus inside, almost everybody can access their parts and will learn that they're all in there doing their best. Many of them are frozen in time in the past during traumas or in psychotherapy, we call attachment injuries in your family. They're as extreme as they had to be back then to protect you and those are often the ones that we don't like and try to get rid of but you can't really get rid of them. When you try, they just get stronger usually. Dick Schwartz: In addition to all these parts, the other thing I'll say about the parts is that the good news is they're all valuable. It's like we're built with this inner multiplicity to help us in our lives. Even the very extreme ones that screw up your life can transform once they feel witnessed by you and you can help them out of where they're stuck in the past and then they become very valuable qualities. Dick Schwartz: The other good news is that as I was exploring all this, I ran into what we'll call the Self which is almost a different level of entity inside of everyone that can't be damaged and has all the capacity you need to heal these parts. When I work with people, I help them access that first, that essence that vital resource and from that place, begin to work with their parts. When people access their Self, we were talking about leadership earlier, they just naturally have qualities like curiosity and calm and what we call the eight C's of self-leadership, compassion, courage, confidence, clarity, connectedness and there's one I just forgot. Neil Sattin: Curiosity, calm and confidence, did you say that? Dick Schwartz: Confidence. I don't think I said confidence. Neil Sattin: Okay. Compassion. Dick Schwartz: Compassion. I did say compassion. Neil Sattin: Okay. Dick Schwartz: Those are what we call the eight C's of self-leadership but it turns out that everybody at their essence, when that's accessed, experiences those qualities in others. From that place, has wisdom about how to heal themselves emotionally. That's as close to an elevator speech as I can get I think. Neil Sattin: Okay. A couple of questions. First, is that even true for kids? Do kids have a Self Energy that helps them heal their parts? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Yes. Very much, and we use this model a lot with kids. There's a book on IFS with kids fairly recently. It's quite amazing because you would think that that Self has to develop but even in very young kids, you can access that place. From that place, they don't know how to do a lot of things in the outside world but they do know how to heal themselves and relate with love and kindness to these different parts such that the parts will transform. Neil Sattin: Yeah. The other thing I was curious about was whether you could offer an example, just so people know what we're talking about. Can you think of a time or someone you worked with where they had a part that was really destructive and what that transformed into through working with that part in healing just as an example of how that works? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. There are many, many, many because I'm a therapist and I specialized in the treatment of severe complex trauma for years. I worked with people who had intense suicidal parts for example or parts that wanted to hurt them in other ways and would cut them and then parts that were rageful and would hurt other people. I spent seven years using this model with sex offenders too and I'm here to say that all of those parts including the sex offenders when approached with compassion and curiosity would reveal the secret history of how they got into the role they were in and the crime and how much they hated to do what they were doing but they were carrying these beliefs and emotions from their past experiences that drove them to do those things. Dick Schwartz: In understanding that and also getting them out of where they were stuck in the past, they were all able to transform. If I'm working with a suicidal client for example and I would ask or I'd have the client ask the part why it wanted to kill them, it would say, if I don't kill you, you're going to continue to suffer the rest of your life. I would say, if we could get her out of her suffering in a different way, would you have to kill her? The part would say, no but I don't think you can do that. I would say, okay. Give me a chance to show that we can and then we would do that. We would heal the parts that are suffering so badly. Dick Schwartz: You come back and now the suicidal part is happy to step out of its role and we help it into another role which often is the exact opposite of what the protector, the protective part has been in. In the case of suicide, it's often now the part wants to help you enjoy life in different ways. That would be an example. Neil Sattin: Wow. So powerful because I think one misconception that someone might have would be a part like that where you got to get that out of there somehow. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Get rid of the harming part. Dick Schwartz: That's right. That's the way our mental health system and our culture has viewed these things, not as entities trying their best in a misguided way as to protect us but as destructive impulses that we have to get rid of. The level of suicide is going up and levels of addiction. All is because we tend to go to war against these parts. When you do that, they think you don't get how dangerous it is and they'll up the ante and they'll kick your butt. You can't beat them most of the time. Neil Sattin: Yeah. You offer an example in one of your books that I was reading about like imagining you're on a boat and you have a part that is convinced that something is true. The only way they're going to keep the boat upright is by leaning out this side of the boat. Then there's this opposing part that thinks basically the exact opposite and they're leaning out the other way. The more you try and adjust one or the other, instead of coming both in to share tea and crumpets under the mast of the boat, it tends to push them out further to the edges leaning off the sides. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. When any part gets extreme in one direction, there usually will be a part that will get extreme in the opposite direction. It's what we call polarization. You find that in other levels of system, for example our country right now is highly polarized such that the more I as a therapist or anybody sides with one side, the more extreme the other part has to get because they think the boat is going to collapse if they don't lean out in the opposite way. Dick Schwartz: A lot of what we try to do is get to know each side with curiosity and compassion and then help them come into the boat and trust that it's safe to do that and get to know each other in a different way and see that they actually have things in common. They both have the survival of the boat in common for example and then help them find a new relationship. The best person to do that isn't the therapist, it's the client's Self. Dick Schwartz: Frequently, we're helping people access the Self and then from that place, become their own inner therapist to these polarized parts. Neil Sattin: Yeah and that's something that's noticeably different about Internal Family Systems, the role of the therapist. I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit more about why that's so important to usher your clients into being in Self energy and then from that place, more or less doing their own therapy. Dick Schwartz: As you're saying, that's probably the biggest difference between IFS and most other therapies and that is that rather than me, the therapist being the good attachment figure, it might be one way to think of it to the client and to the client's very insecure or hurt parts so that my relationship with the client becomes the fulcrum of their healing. My relationship is important in the sense that if I can be in what I'm calling Self energy, that allows the client to feel safe enough to drop their guard, their protected parts relax, and allows them to access Self. Dick Schwartz: In that state, they become the primary caretaker to their parts, the primary attachment figure which is very empowering for clients and they can do it on their own between sessions and it becomes a life practice that way rather than there being this intense dependence on the therapist. Neil Sattin: Yeah. One of the cases that you write about involves treating someone with bulimia and you detail how 14 sessions and this woman was in charge basically of her life again. I don't know what happened to that particular person but there's something magical and it makes a lot of sense as well, not magical in like fantasy but more like, yeah that makes total sense when people feel empowered that way to work with the parts in them that otherwise were running the show. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. That's part of why this often takes less time than others because as I said, people are doing this work on their own between sessions and many of my sessions, a client comes in and the first 10, 15 minutes, they're just catching me up on everything they've been doing at home. Then we go in and we do some more and then they take it from there so yeah. Neil Sattin: A quick stepping out moment, because I know this comes up as a therapist and it also comes up in life. When you're interacting with other people's parts, I think you use the term blended. When someone is blended with their part, they're being that rageful part or that inconsiderate or mean or whatever it is. What's a way that you use to say in Self energy, compassion, curious, et cetera in the face of someone being potentially really offensive or inappropriate? Maybe I mean this more in terms of interpersonally out in the world versus in the treatment room. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. I've had a lot of practice given the kinds of clients that I was talking about because they often have parts that as you get close enough to them to do any damage, suddenly, their rage will come at you and they've been watching you for session after session and they know your weaknesses and they find just the right thing to say. These clients would be labeled borderline personality which is a very pejorative way of thinking of somebody. Dick Schwartz: It's a lot better to just think of them as having this protective rage that isn't going to let you get close enough. I've had many, many practice sessions of immediately noticing the parts of me that come to protect me, defend me and then in the moment now, not before but now, I in the moment, can notice those parts and ask them to just let me handle this, to just let me stay and I'll feel this shift from my heart being fully closed up and my urge to lash out. That will immediately evaporate and feel my heart open again and I'll be able to see past the protector in the client to the pain that's driving it so I have compassion. Dick Schwartz: I'll be able to stay calm and simply that presence is very diffusing for these rageful parts. Whatever I say, if it comes from that place is going to deescalate rather than escalate. Neil Sattin: You notice that huge difference between when you're coming from Self energy versus a logical, rational manager part- Dick Schwartz: Yeah, absolutely. I can do that with most anybody now except my wife. When she and I get into it, I just notice these parts coming in. I know that it's going to make it worse but I can't get them to step back because she can hurt me like nobody else. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: We've learned ways of repairing that afterwards, but yeah. When the protectors, even if it's a logical, rational one which doesn't seem so bad just inflames her angry part and my angry part really sets things off. Anyway, yeah. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I do want to mention that we did have Toni Herbine-Blank on the show to talk about intimacy from the inside out which is the way she applies IFS to couples work and for you listening, that's Episode 52 that you can refer back to. Dick Schwartz: Great. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I'm curious because - full disclosure, I see an IFS therapist, my wife sees an IFS therapist and so I'm a little biased here- Dick Schwartz: Honored to hear that Neil... Neil Sattin: Yeah. The language of are you coming from Self right now? That permeates our relationship particularly when things happen so I know you are just saying that all bets are off when you're with your wife but I am curious if you have … Yeah, two important things here. One is, is there a way that you found reliably to suggest, wait a minute, we're not Self to Self in this moment. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: That's been a godsend. At some point, one of us will say, okay, let's just take a time out and work with our parts and come back when we can be more Self-led and we do it. That really has defused things. Then the next step and probably Toni talked about this too is to come back and what we call speak for rather than from the parts that were protecting us but also speak for the pain or the fear or the shame that was driving those protectors. When I can speak for what I call my exiles, those parts that I locked up in the past because they were so hurt or scared or ashamed. Dick Schwartz: When I can speak from Self for those parts, then my wife Jean can hear that rather than when I'm speaking from those parts that try to defend me because they're so afraid that I'll feel ashamed and so on. Neil Sattin: Wow. So many possibilities right now bumping through my brain about where to go. One loose end from earlier in this conversation, when someone comes to you and they're convinced that they are defective or that they don't have the resource within them, maybe they don't have that experience of Self energy that shows them that it's possible, what do you do to help them see actually, you are the one that you need right now? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. A lot of people start out that way. Neil Sattin: Right because they're thinking, if I had all the answers, I wouldn't be so fucked up, right? Dick Schwartz: Yeah and they've never had that experience of what we call Self. They've never felt it in their lives so why would they think they have it? They've been told by their families that they don't have anything like that, that they're good for nothing so they come in really believing that and I'll say, I know there are parts of you that don't believe that's in there but if you give me a shot, I can prove that it is. Dick Schwartz: By that, I'd say, okay. Let's find the part that has this belief and ask it if it would be willing to just give us a little space in there and see what happens. If I'm in Self and my client has some degree of trust, I'll say just for a second, it can come back immediately, then the client will have this palpable experience of all that self-criticism, getting a little bit of space from it and with that, often will come to some little taste of Self. You never get full Self but just a little bit of a difference. Dick Schwartz: Then I'll ask another part to step back and so on. Often, you'll come to some key ones that had been running things and asking them to step back is more of a challenge because they'll say, if I step back, there's not going to be anybody left. I'll say, I know you believe that but I guarantee you're wrong. Again, I would love it if you just give me a chance to prove that. You'll actually like who comes forward and it will be a big relief to you. Dick Schwartz: I'm nothing if not a kind of what I call a hope merchant or a salesman. I'm selling hope to hopeless systems. If they buy it at all, they're eager. They would love to have somebody in there that is Self to run things. They're like in family therapy, we call parentified children. They're likely kids who when parents weren't available, had to run things and they're tired so they're dying for somebody capable to take over. They just don't think it's possible. Neil Sattin: Could we talk for a moment about just the different categories of parts that might make it easier for you to recognize the different roles that your parts play within you and then maybe we'll chat about a way that someone listening could, after we're done, figure out their cast of characters, get related to some of the parts that are operating within them. What are some of the general categories that you see that are most significant in how we operate? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. The word roles is very important to remember because too often, other people, when they come up with category systems, they describe the category as if it were the part. In this system, these are the roles that the parts have been forced in to by what happened to you in your life. There's really one big distinction and that's between the parts of you that usually were the most sensitive, these inner children who before they're hurt are delightful and creative and innocent and trusting and so on. Dick Schwartz: After they're hurt, they now carry what we call the burdens from the trauma or the betrayal and so now, they carry a lot of pain or mistrust or fear and shame and now, we don't want anything to do with them because we assume that that's just a hurt feeling or that's just a shame feeling. We tend to try and lock them away inside in inner abysses or caves or jails. We call these the exiles. Most all of us, partly because of these beliefs about who we are from our culture, have a bunch of exiles. Dick Schwartz: When you get a bunch of exiles, the world suddenly becomes a lot more dangerous because anybody can trigger you. If you get hurt in a similar way again, all that past pain and the parts that are stuck in those past scenes come roaring out and take over and take you down and make it so you can't function often. There's a tremendous fear of the exiles and their being triggered. To keep that from happening, other parts are forced into the role of being protectors and some of them are trying to protect you and those exiles by managing your life so that nothing similar ever happens again and you don't manage your relationship so you don't get too close to anybody or too distant from people you depend on and manage your appearance so you look good all the time, manage your performance. Dick Schwartz: These are parts that sometimes find themselves in the role of inner critic because they're criticizing you to try and prod you to do better or look better or they might be criticizing you to keep you from taking risks so you don't get hurt but there's lots of other common manager roles so there are caretaking managers that try to take care of everybody else and don't let you take care of yourself and so on and so on, but they're all a bunch of often pretty young parts who are now forced to do this role they're not equipped to do. Dick Schwartz: Then the last category of protector, managers are the first, are parts that if an exile does get triggered, have to go into action to deal with that emergency and often, have to therefore be very impulsive and damn the torpedoes. I'm going to get you to do something that's going to take you away from this right now and get you higher than the pain or douse it, the shame, with some kind of substance or distract you somehow. These we call firefighters. They're fighting the flames of pain and shame and terror that come out of these exiles. Dick Schwartz: They're the unsung heroes because most of the time, they do things that get us more attacked or shame but they're just doing their job because they know if they don't do it, the boat is going to sink. Neil Sattin: Meaning, they're doing things like indulging in addictions or sexual compulsion? Dick Schwartz: Right. All of those things. Some of us have more socially sanctioned firefighters like work is one of mine, we don't get as much … Actually, we get accolades for that. Neil Sattin: Right, except maybe from your partner who's like, where the hell are you? You're working all the time. Dick Schwartz: Exactly right, but most of my client's firefighters have been either destructive to them or to other people and so they hate themselves for having them and often, the people around them are critical of them for having them. Again, all of that shaming, both internal shaming and external shaming just adds to the load of these exiles which creates more work for the firefighters that then brings on more attack from the managers. Most people, addicts and so on are in that loop where the harder they try to sit on the addiction through discipline or self-blame, the more that firefighter feels like it's going to do its job. Dick Schwartz: You can pump up the managers to the point where they will sit on the firefighters and the exiles but that's what people call dry drunk, a person become very rigid and the slightest thing could trigger them off the wagon so that's not the kind of healing that we're looking for. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I'm curious the word shame has come up several times. What is the healing path for shame? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Shame is usually minimally a two part phenomena. There's a part that says you're bad and then there's this part which is usually an exile that believes that you're worthless. Before we go to that exile, we'll go to the critic, the one who says you're bad, first and let it know we get it's trying to protect and give us permission to go to the exile. Once we get to that exile, we'll ask it, we'll have the Self ask it where it got the shame in the past and why it feels so bad about itself. Dick Schwartz: Then people begin to witness scenes from their past where they were shamed or humiliated or made to feel worthless and how terrifying that was and how that part just bought into it then and thought they were a total loser and then how other parts had to combat that the rest of their life. Dick Schwartz: Just that witnessing, once you see and I don't mean get it intellectually but I actually mean see it and sense it and feel almost like reliving it but not be overwhelmed by it. Once you really get what happened and how bad it was, then the part finally feels like you get it and we know where to have you go into the past in a literal way in this inner world and be with that boy in the way he needed when the shaming thing happened and often take him out of there to a safe place where now, he's willing to give up the shame. Neil Sattin: Yeah. There's this quality of hanging on. This is the burden, right? Hanging on to the shame? Dick Schwartz: Right. Neil Sattin: Through being willing to be present with that part's experience and to do something, I don't know why the word heroic is coming to mind but something that you … that had an adult, had a caring, compassionate, courageous adult been there that they would have done. Dick Schwartz: Exactly. Neil Sattin: if you can do that, then that part of you is getting what it needs, the exiled part and no longer requires the shame. Dick Schwartz: That's right. Yeah. People say you can't change the past but it turns out in this inner world, you can. The part's literal experience, once you go into the scene, like if you did that for some part of you Neil and you are there with that boy in the way he needed and you maybe … stood up for him against your father for example- Neil Sattin: How did you know that was what I was thinking? Dick Schwartz: Because I'm so good. I'm psychic. He watched you do that. That literally changes in that part's experience, what happened to him. He now becomes attached to you as the caretaker rather than depending on his father anymore and now, he's willing to leave with you and let you have this ongoing new relationship with him where you take care of him every day which usually doesn't require more than just a little check-in to see how he's doing. Dick Schwartz: Yes. Once, that's all complete, these parts are more than happy to give up these extreme beliefs and emotions like shame that they've been carrying for whatever it is, 40 years. Neil Sattin: Yeah, and this is why it just seems like it's so important to recognize the personhood of these parts within you to see them that way. It's like an individual worthy of curiosity, compassion, respect. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. That's a tough sell on this culture because multiplicity has been pathologized over and over both by the idea that multiplicity or multiple personality disorder is a disorder. It's a scary syndrome and by just our kind of rational culture that says it's preposterous to have these little beings inside of us. It's been an uphill battle to try and make this idea sink in. Neil Sattin: On the one hand, I love it because it's so empowering. More and more I hear from listeners or clients, people in relationship where they're like, yeah, I'm with someone who's … they have borderline personality disorder. I'm pretty sure they're a narcissist. There's some relief to knowing what might be going on with the other people in your life, maybe with yourself as well. I don't know how many people are like, you know what, I think I'm a narcissist. Neil Sattin: At the same time, what I hear you saying is that everyone has this capacity for healing if they're willing to honor these parts within them that are causing the behavior that we see. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Again, I haven't worked with everyone, but everyone I work with, and I've worked with people that have been written off as sociopaths or various other labels. They have protective parts that fit the profile but when those parts step back, they have everything else like everybody else. Yeah, I bristle at all those diagnostic labels, it's like we take a person's most extreme and maybe destructive part and say that that's who they are. That doesn't give you much hope. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. What do you offer someone who … let's say they are in a relationship with someone who is exhibiting narcissistic tendencies? I think for those people, there's often this quandary of experiencing the destructive behavior, maybe seeing … especially if they're someone you love, then you tend to also see their capacity, their potential for amazingness. Yet, there's this question about do I really stay in this? Do I go? Do I give this person an ultimatum? You got this part. You got to heal it or else I'm out of here. Neil Sattin: How does that work? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Sometimes, it takes something like that but you can do it from Self so there is what we call Self-led confrontation and I've done this with people I'm close to and also clients where you can see that there's a part that dominates them, that doesn't serve them and is also getting in the relationship you're in with them in the way but there's a way to say that to them with an open heart that is much more likely to sink in than if you say it from a protective part of you that's so annoyed with the person and also sees them as "a narcissist" or whatever monolithic label you've been encouraged to see the person as. Dick Schwartz: When I'm with someone like that, again, so like x-ray vision, I can see the pain that's driving the protector and I can try to speak to both even with our current president which is a challenge. You know that there's just a bundle of exiles in there that drives all this stuff and if you can hold that perspective, then you can speak from a loving place even to very difficult things. Now, that doesn't mean you need to stay with that person if that part is constantly hurting you and that's a whole different topic of whether or not to stay but the point I'm trying to make is that it's possible even with people like that to stand up for your parts without alienating them. Neil Sattin: What internal work would you suggest someone do to get to Self in order to have that conversation from aSself-led place? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. There's an exercise that I'll do with groups where you could take such a person and put them in a room in your mind that's contained with a window and so you're outside the room looking at that person from outside and have them do the thing that gets to you and then notice the parts that get immediately triggered and come to your defense. As you notice them, start to get to know them and what they're afraid would happened if they didn't jump up to protect you that way and then you'll learn about the exiles they protect and then you can actively ask each of them if they'd be willing to just give you a little bit of space not so you're going into the room with that person but so you can look at them without the influence of all this protective stuff. Dick Schwartz: If they're willing, the person again will notice this palpable shift and I'll have the person look again in the room and again, when you see through the eyes of Self, you have a very different view. The person looks different, less menacing and the person … I feel sorry for him whereas seconds earlier, they were terrified of him or hated him. I don't know if that answered your question but that's an example of what we can do. Neil Sattin: Yeah. It seems like that … that's giving someone an experience, a direct experience of that person when they're in Self that then they can bring to a real life encounter? Dick Schwartz: Exactly, yeah. To really pull it off, you have to return to your parts and find the exiles that get triggered by such a person so much and do the healing we talked about earlier with those exiles because it's really hard to pull it off if your exiles are still vulnerable to that person. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Can we get clear too on some of the terminology like when we talk about asking a part to step back or even just asking a part anything, much less what are you afraid will happen, et cetera? How does that process work? Is that something that … What are the different ways it can work I guess because I'd love for our listeners to be able to get a sense of how this process could go? At least to the extent that they could do without guidance. Dick Schwartz: You want to do a little piece together as an example Neil? Neil Sattin: That would be great. Dick Schwartz: Do you have a part you'd like to start with? Neil Sattin: Let's see. Is there one? There's not one that's like jumping up immediately. Maybe help me get there. Dick Schwartz: Okay. Is there something in your relationship, your intimate relationship that gets in the way? Neil Sattin: Clearly. Yeah. Let's talk about the desire to work, like for me. That was one example you used earlier. That's true for me as well especially because I can feel like others … There's always more to do so it's hard to just close the door and step into time with my lovely amazing wife who would love to see more of me I'm sure. I know that because she tells me. Dick Schwartz: Right. It's very similar. Focus on that part that's pushing you to work all the time and find it in your body or around your body. Neil Sattin: Yeah. For me, it's like right in solar plexus area. There's like a heat and a tension there. Dick Schwartz: Okay. As you notice it, how do you feel toward it? Neil Sattin: I guess I'm a little bit annoyed and also at the same time, I'm like wow, there you are. That was easy to see you there. Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Okay. Let's see if the part of you who's so annoyed or a little bit annoyed would be willing to relax a little bit and step back in there so we can just get to know the work part because it's hard to get to know it if you're annoyed with it. Just see if that's possible. Neil Sattin: Yeah. He's trusting you right now so yes. He'll step aside for a moment. Relax. I think he like that word. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. I will use that word then, relax. Then focus again now on the work part and tell me how you feel toward it now. Neil Sattin: Wow. What I just experienced was another part coming in being like, wow, I can't believe you're not working with me right now. I've really needed some time and attention. Dick Schwartz: Okay. Neil Sattin: Isn't that funny? Dick Schwartz: Do you want to shift or do you want to pass that one to relax too? Neil Sattin: Let's go into that because that feels potent for me and it's just around the wellbeing of my kids and my listeners know that I've been through divorce. I have my kids halftime, I love them and yeah, there's just something about wanting the best for them in a complex world and being afraid that they'll get hurt. Dick Schwartz: Okay, good. Where do you find this one in your body, around your body? Neil Sattin: That one feels like a really intense welling up in my face like a pre-tears kind of feeling and I'm also noticing a hollowness in my belly. Dick Schwartz: Okay. How do feel toward this part as you notice it, those places? Neil Sattin: I really want to help this part. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Let it know that and just see how it reacts to your caring for it. Neil Sattin: How do I let it know that? Dick Schwartz: Just tell it inside. Just say, I really want to help you. Just see how it reacts. Neil Sattin: In telling that part, I really want to help you, he feels more teary and I also feel relief like he would say, I'm not alone. I'm not alone. Dick Schwartz: That's right. Now, let him know he isn't alone anymore and see now what he wants you to know about himself and don't think of the answer, just wait for answers to come. Neil Sattin: He says, I know the pain of being hurt and I want to save these children from that pain. Dick Schwartz: Does that make sense, Neil? Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Let him know you get that. It makes a lot of sense that you value that. Neil Sattin: Yeah. It's huge. He's a huge resource for those kids. Dick Schwartz: That's right. Neil Sattin: I just see too that there's … I recognize times when that fear that they're not going to be okay is running the show and that sometimes works out and other times, it definitely can keep me from being in Self energy around things that are challenging. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. See if he's interested in unloading some of that fear and pain that he carries from the past. Just ask him that. Neil Sattin: He says, if you think that's possible, then sure. Dick Schwartz: Tell him it's totally possible. Neil Sattin: Totally possible. Dick says so, and I believe it too. I do. Dick Schwartz: Tell him to show you, let you feel without overwhelming you and sense what happened to give him all that. Neil, you can share with us what you get or keep it private, it's up to you. Neil Sattin: Yeah. What I'm seeing are experiences of confusion and pain from different parts of my childhood that didn't make a lot of sense and it's just funny, ha-ha, that it does relate more to my father from what we were talking about before in this moment. That's what this part is showing me. Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Just stay with it. Is it okay to see all this, Neil? Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Tell him you're getting it and it's okay to really let you get it all and just stay with it, encourage him to really let you feel it and sense it and see it how bad it was for him. Neil Sattin: Yeah. In that, I notice there's almost like a trembling happening in my body. Dick Schwartz: Let that happen. Just let your body move the way it needs to. It's all good. It's all part of the witnessing and just stay with it. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I can feel that pain for sure. Dick Schwartz: Okay. Neil Sattin: What I'm noticing is also that it's not overwhelming me, it's more like I'm getting the tears. I'm getting the trembling but I'm not losing touch with us, here having this conversation or- Dick Schwartz: Ask him if he feels like you're getting this, if this is what he wanted you to feel and sense and see or if there's more. Neil Sattin: He says no. This is it and in saying that I also felt this really quick shift to calmness in my body. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Yeah, he's relieved? Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Ask him if he's most stuck in one of those scenes or if it's the whole time period we need to get him out of. Neil Sattin: He's like, if you could get me out of the whole shebang, that would be great. Dick Schwartz: Yeah, we'll do what we can. Neil Sattin: Right. Dick Schwartz: All right. Neil, I'd like you to go into that time period and be with that boy in the way he needed somebody at the time and just tell me when you're in there with him. Neil Sattin: Yeah, okay. I'm there. Dick Schwartz: How are you being with him? Neil Sattin: I'm taking a stand and saying this is not okay. Dick Schwartz: To your father? Neil Sattin: To my father. Dick Schwartz: That's great. Neil Sattin: I placed myself physically between the young me and my father. Dick Schwartz: Let me ask you, do you see yourself doing that or are you just there doing it and you see him and your father? Neil Sattin: That's a tough one. It feels like it's going back and forth. Dick Schwartz: All right. See if you can just be there without seeing yourself. Neil Sattin: Okay. Dick Schwartz: Keep doing that. Whatever the boy needs. Just keep doing that for him. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I'm there saying, this is not okay and then what feels like it really wants to happen is I turn to grab the boy and pick him up and just take him out of there. Dick Schwartz: Yeah, let's do that. Let's take him somewhere safe and comfortable he'd enjoy. It could be in the present, it could be a fantasy place, wherever he'd like to be. Neil Sattin: I'm asking him where he would like to be. Dick Schwartz: Perfect. Neil Sattin: I think he wants to just hang out  and play with his Star Wars figures. Dick Schwartz: Okay. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I'm like, okay, where can we do that? Can we do that here and now? I'm imagining bringing him here into the room where I sit which is really convenient because my son has all my old Star Wars figures so I can grab some of those. Dick Schwartz: Great. Neil Sattin: Yeah. We're here now and he's just doing that and we're away from whatever was happening, Dick Schwartz: Good. How does he seem now? Neil Sattin: It's interesting because he seems a lot younger than when I was interacting with him as the part that was fearful for my kids but he seems happy to be here and happy that I'm willing to play with him and he seems relieved like that was hard for him and it was a pretty quick turn though to just be here and be safe. Dick Schwartz: Good. See if now that he never has to go back there and you're going to take care of him if he's ready to unload the feelings and beliefs he got from those times. Neil Sattin: I think he says he's not sure what they are but yes, he's ready. Dick Schwartz: Okay. He could just check his body and see if there's anything he carries that doesn't belong to him. Neil Sattin: Yeah, there's that like … he's calling it that weird feeling in my belly, that trembly flutteriness. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Great. Is he ready to unload that? Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Ask him what he'd like to give it up to. Light, water, fire, wind, earth, anything else. Neil Sattin: Yeah. He's like, I want it to just get dissolved in light. Dick Schwartz: Okay. Bring in a light and have that happen. Tell him to let that all dissolve out of his stomach and stay with that until it's gone. Neil Sattin: Yeah. The feeling is gone and I'm also noticing that the hollowness I was experiencing in my belly before, it feels warm and full. That feels really important to me. Dick Schwartz: That's great. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Tell him now if he'd like to, he can invite into his body qualities he'll need in the future and you can just see what comes into him now. Neil Sattin: He says, it's almost like cleverness, and the word that's popping into my head is mischief, but like a playful mischief. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Tell him to invite that in. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Actually, and just like a relaxed happiness, contentment I think is one of those, yeah. Dick Schwartz: How does he seem now? Neil Sattin: He seems really happy. Dick Schwartz: That's great. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: Then before we stop bring in the one who was so annoyed with him originally, so it can see that he's different now and see how it reacts. Neil Sattin: The annoyed, I think that might have been more around the work part. Dick Schwartz: That's right. You're right. That's right. Okay. Maybe think about your kids now and see how it feels. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I feel really confident that I'm doing right by them. Dick Schwartz: Good. Okay, you ready to come back? Neil Sattin: I am. That was great. Thank you. Dick Schwartz: That was very cool. Thank you for having the courage to do it. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Wow. A little window into Neil's psyche, into the interpsychic space. One thing that I wanted to highlight that you said that feels important is when you talked about experiencing the feelings without being overwhelmed particularly if someone is doing this inner work on their own like being willing to … like having that be part of the dialog with their part. Neil Sattin: I want to see what you got and you don't need to overwhelm me. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. That was a big discovery maybe 25 years ago that parts can control how much they overwhelm because the trauma field and a lot of psychotherapy has just assumed that if you open that door, you're going to be flooded and there's not much you can do it about it other than practice these grounding skills endlessly and so on. It turns out that if you simply in advance of going to an exile, ask it to not overwhelm and it agrees not to, it won't so we can do the thing we just did with you without a huge fear of that overwhelm happening. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I think some people are afraid to open the door. I'm not going to go there because that's just too much for me and they've probably experienced what that too much feeling is like at least once in their lives, right? Dick Schwartz: Exactly right, yeah. They've experienced. When they open the door, they were flooded. They couldn't get out of bed. They're horribly depressed and they swore never again. It's a tough sell in such clients to allow them to believe that it's possible to not do that. The exile itself to its defense, it's desperate to get some attention. If you open the door, it's going to jump out and totally take over for fear of being locked up again but if it trusts that it's not going to be locked up and you'll listen to it, it doesn't need to overwhelm you. Neil Sattin: Yeah, and because the worrying part wasn't really a part of that thread, we didn't really get to go there but I'm guessing there's something similar that happens. I'm not guessing, okay, I know but there's something similar that happens with the manager where they also get to be relieved of the burden of the protection and to be infused with some qualities that gives them that new assignment, the new role. Dick Schwartz: Exactly. There are also stuff back in those same scenes where they took on the role of protecting that boy and they need to be retrieved that same way and unburdened. When that happens, then they're freed up to do something entirely different that they're much more designed to do and that they enjoy. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I felt like it's important to say it just because we did that work around my father that my dad is a good guy in case, in the off chance he's listening or that people who know him are listening. What I've noticed as a parent is that it actually is, their kids have things that hurt them. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Yeah. That happens and like my father who isn't alive anymore but had a lot of untreated PTSD from World War II, so everybody has got trauma and everybody has got extreme parts and when they raise their kids, those parts get triggered. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: My father was a great guy also in many different ways. Neil Sattin: Yeah. One last thing. I just appreciate how wide our conversation has gone and your willingness to do that process with me as well which I think was very illustrative. You've mentioned that your clients, they have a routine or a check-in that they do that helps them do the work as part of their daily lives and I'm wondering what could that look like for someone if they wanted to incorporate something like that into their daily life? Dick Schwartz: Yeah For some people, it's as simple as just a 10 minute meditation where you can incorporate it into what you already do for meditating but just start by finding, on your case, would be finding this boy and just make sure that he's still in that good place and see if he needs anything. In some times, it takes just a few seconds and he is doing well and other times, he does need more or if he feels like you abandoned him and you got to listen to that and help him with it. Dick Schwartz: Everybody can do this on a daily basis. It becomes a life practice, not just checking with that part but with all your parts and just noticing what they need and taking care of them the way you might take care of your external children although again, they don't nearly need as much as your external children. Often, it's just a matter of minutes. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz: There's a woman named Michelle Glass who wrote a book on the daily practice side of it. I can't pull up the name of that book right now but you can find it on our website. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Your website is selfleadership.org, and Dick, you also just recently came out with a book that you're telling me about before we hopped on the line here. What is that called and what's it about? Dick Schwartz: Yeah. I coauthored it with a guy named Bob Falconer and it's called Many Minds, One Self. It's about ushering in this radically different paradigm of multiplicity and that there is this Self in there too. It's substantiating these positions I take by going through the history of our culture, the history of psychotherapy, different branches of science and showing how often the idea that the mind is naturally multiple comes up and gets pushed down. Dick Schwartz: Then also going through each major religion and particularly, the more esoteric or contemplative branches of those religions and seeing how every one has a word for Self, it's a different word but they're all talking about the same thing that I stumbled on to many, many years ago that's in there. Some systems call it the soul or Buddha-nature or Atman or various names for it but we try to cover in some depth all of that. Neil Sattin: Great. Is that available through your website and is it on Amazon as well? Dick Schwartz: I'm not sure it's on Amazon yet. It just came out. Neil Sattin: Okay, great. Dick Schwartz: It will be soon but yeah, you can certainly get it from the website. Neil Sattin: Great. We'll have links to that book, your website, the Michelle Glass book that you just mentioned. Dick Schwartz: One more book if you don't mind. Neil Sattin: No. Go ahead please. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. I coauthored another book with a guy named Frank Anderson and Martha Sweezy which is a kind of workbook for applying IFS to trauma since we've been talking about that today that just came out too with through PESI, capital P-E-S-I. Neil Sattin: Great. That's more for the therapist in our audience? Dick Schwartz: Yes. Yes, therapist. Neil Sattin: Okay, great. If people want to find out more about getting IFS training or finding an IFS therapist, is that through the selfleadership.org website? Dick Schwartz: That's right. There's a whole section on those issues. Neil Sattin: Great. Great. One last point of curiosity. We've talked about the self and the qualities that if you're coming from a place that's compassionate, creative, curious, then you're in Self energy. Is there a quick exercise that you have people do to help them get a sense of "this is the inner diaspora of characters that are there within you that you can get to know over time?" Dick Schwartz: Yeah. There's something we call parts mapping for example where just to describe it very quickly, I would have you start with a part. It might be the same one you started with or a different one and just stay present to it until you could for example, draw it in some form or another on a page and then return to it and stay focused on it until you notice a shift. Another part comes forward and then you'd stay with it until you can represent it on the page and then return to it until another one comes forward. Dick Schwartz: In doing that, usually, people will map out one circuit of parts, one cluster of parts that are related to each other and it's very useful for people to do that. Neil Sattin: By staying with one, others will naturally emerge? Dick Schwartz: It seems to be. If you can stay in an open, curious Self place, then, if you stay with one, something will come up, some other one that's related to it. Neil Sattin: That makes sense to me especially considering what we're saying about polarized parts earlier that if one is like, I'm here, then the other one is going to be not far behind. Don't forget about me. Dick Schwartz: Right. That's exactly right. Not just the ones that are polarized. You'll get the ones who protect each other and so on. Neil Sattin: Yeah. The work is really so fascinating and despite having been speaking here now for a little over an hour, we're still just scratching the surface. I loved, in particular, the way that you map the relationships between these inner parts as they relate to each other and then how that's reflected in the outer world. In fact, it seems like that was one of your breakthroughs, right? The sense that you could apply the structural family therapy that people do with the external systems to what's happening within you. Dick Schwartz: Yeah. That's my background, is a family therapist, particularly structural family therapy. For an amazing thing, it turns out that this inner system is structured in a very similar way so I've become intrigued with the parallels between internal systems and external systems at all different levels including our country and international relations. The parallel is when you really explore them are fascinating and very evident. Neil Sattin: Yeah. You, I think, make the whole as, is it as within, so without? Is that the phrase- Dick Schwartz: That is, yeah. Neil Sattin: It feels really practical and- Dick Schwartz: Yeah. Concrete. Neil Sattin: Yeah. I think getting some experience doing that within is also really helpful in being generative like the contentious moments that we experience in our lives whether it's with our partners or our parents or just in the workplace and the world, et cetera. Dick Schwartz: Yeah, being generative and generous. Yeah. Neil Sattin: Yeah. Dick Schwartz, thank you so much for coming on this show again. I look forward to the next time we can talk and your work is just so rich and such a valuable contribution to change and growth and honoring the potential in us. I'm so blessed to have you here, so thank you. Dick Schwartz: Thank you Neil. It's an increasing pleasure to talk to you as I get to know you and also feel your appreciation for it, so I'm happy to do it again. Neil Sattin: Awesome.

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#8

151: How to Stop Coping and Start Growing

July 25, 2018 • 62m

You know all those ways that you've learned to cope over the years? The little things that you do that distract you from feeling uncomfortable, or bored, or stressed? While some coping strategies are positive for you, others rob you of the chance to actually either deal with what's there, or to fully experience the moment - to be present. Developing your ability to be present, to dive into the moment without distracting yourself, is the key to keeping things connected and energized with your partner. Today you're going to learn how to identify your coping strategies, decide whether they're serving you or not, and how to transform your habits of distraction and coping into new, positive habits. As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it! Sponsors Along with our amazing listener supporters (you know who you are - thank you!), this week's episode has two exciting sponsors. Please visit them to take advantage of their offers and show appreciation for their support of the Relationship Alive podcast! RxBars are one of our favorite snacks. They're healthy, high in protein, and made with simple ingredients that you can pronounce. Plus, they're really tasty, without any added sugar, gluten, soy, or dairy. RxBars are offering 25% off your first order, if you visit RxBar.com/alive and use the coupon code "ALIVE". This week is also being sponsored by Hungryroot.com. Hungryroot.com is a service that sends healthy, delicious, plant-based and gluten-free foods to you, each week. They're easy to prepare (either ready-to-eat or ready in less than 10 MINUTES). And - special shoutout to their cookie dough - which you can eat raw (or bake for a healthy dessert). This is by far the best prepared food delivery service that we've experienced. And you can get $25 off your first TWO orders if you use the coupon code "ALIVE" at checkout - at Hungryroot.com. Resources   I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey FREE Guide to Neil's Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE) Support the podcast (or text "SUPPORT" to 33444) Amazing intro and outtro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters  

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#9

211: Sometimes You Just Have to Stop - with Neil Sattin

November 23, 2019 • 44m

With all the focus on ways to improve your relationship, growth and change can become something of an obsession. Especially if things are painful! However, sometimes all the efforts to change can create even more problems. So...it's helpful to know when it's time to just...stop. There are particular ways of "stopping" that can actually be beneficial - to your health and the health of your relationship. In this episode, I give you three specific ways to "stop" that can potentially jumpstart the "flow" in your relationship - especially if things have gotten stuck. It's a little edgy (particularly my third suggestion) - but can sometimes be exactly what you need. As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it! Sponsors: Away has created durable suitcases for the savvy traveler, with key features that help you easily get your stuff from place to place. With a limited lifetime warranty, and a 100-day trial period, it’s easy for you to experience an Away suitcase “in the field”. Away is offering $20 off any suitcase if you visit awaytravel.com/relationship and use the promo code “RELATIONSHIP” at checkout. Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you. Songfinch.com helps you create an original song as a unique gift for any special occasion. You tell them what the occasion is, what emotions you want your song to evoke, what type of song you want, and give them a little bit of your story - and they bring your story to life with a radio-quality song that captures it all. Songfinch is offering you $25 off a personalized “Song from Scratch” if you use the coupon code ALIVE25 at checkout. Resources: I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE) Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444) Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

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#10

25: Get Your Ego Out of the Way - How to Be an Adult in Love with Dave Richo

February 09, 2016 • 70m

Today’s guest is Dave Richo, a psychotherapist, teacher, workshop leader, and author of the well-known book “How To Be An Adult in Relationships- The 5 Keys to Mindful Loving”. In this conversation we explore topics found in his more recent book “How To Be an Adult In Love- Letting Love In Safely and Showing It Recklessly”, and his brand new book “You Are Not What You Think- The Egoless Path To Self-Esteem and Generous Love”. Richo’s approach, which combines Jungian, poetic, and mythical perspectives, delves deep into the Buddhist concept of loving-kindness. In today’s episode we explore the whys and the hows of egoless love in the context of romantic relationships. You will learn key questions to help you assess your own ego balance, and ways to surrender ego in order to build self-esteem, address old wounds and fears, be fully loving in all of your relationships, and to actually evolve your capacity for love. You will be reminded and awakened to the ways in which taking care of ourselves is in itself an act of love.   Here are some highlights, insights, and suggestions from my conversation with Dave Richo: Widening the range of love- The Buddhist practice of loving-kindness is really about expanding our definition of what it means to love. It is about beaming out love to yourself, those closest to you, those you feel neutral about, those you don’t even really like, and all with EQUAL force. This force of grace and power is one that comes from beyond our ego, and extends through us to all beings. We can learn how to love, which is important, but we can also work on opening ourselves to call upon this sense of unconditional grace that is omnipresent and here to help us. How to connect with this sense of spirit is incredibly personal and you must find the right wording, symbolism, rituals, and practices that make it your own. However you relate to this concept, take a moment to consider that perhaps by incorporating awareness of this wider loving spirit you might find ways to better heal during difficult times, feel connected to your partner regardless of what you think or feel about them in a given moment, and even potentially, as Dave explains, feel more fully human. Agape love: The Greek’s referred to this form of selfless, unconditional and utterly limitless way of showing love as ‘Agape love’. They saw this form of boundless love to be our own highest calling. Although the love we hold for our romantic partner(s) exists within the definitions of the Greek’s Agape love and the Buddhist’s loving-kindness paradigm, it is the erotic dimension that distinguishes our intimate partnerships from the crowd. Interestingly enough, the Greek’s also believe that erotic love exists in our creative pursuits as well. Therefore there are many ways to experience erotic love, and infinite ways to experience Agape love. Tending to the relationship through Egoless Loving: So how can this wide definition of love inform our ability to engage the challenges that may arise in our partnerships? Love is about giving of oneself without being sure exactly what we will get in return. If instead, our egos are leading the way in our relationship we may find ourselves using the partnership to assert and solidify our own ego purposes, leading to patterns of selfishness (and not the good kind!). The evolution of a relationship from Ego-ideals to Egoless led love: There are three phases a romantic relationship must pass through in order to achieve an egoless led love: 1) Ego-Ideal to Ego-Ideal Romantic Phase: In the beginning… two individuals meet, and their two ego ideals fall in love. Meaning that person you always desired is finally found! Stars, rainbows, romantic dates, until…   2) Ego to Ego Phase: The inevitable conflicts, big or small, begin, and the ego-ideals erode and you begin to see the other person as she or he really is (warts and all). You may start to see your partner as self-centered, self-promoting, self-ish, or maybe you just start getting really irritated with the way they do or don’t do the dishes, you get the idea… In this conflict stage, the goal is to confront the ego dimension of ourselves and see if we can let go of it in favor of a more loving response. There are many psychological techniques, communication tips, outlined processes, prompts and activities you can choose to engage in here to help address, process, and make it through this phase. Regardless of how you and your partner work on your conflicts, it is critical to remember that this is an act of love! When we commit to working through the tough stuff and putting in the energy when struggles arise we are showing ourselves and our partners love in action. This increases connection, and of course, trust. And it leads to the final phase. 3) Egoless Love Phase: Through successfully showing up for Phase 2 and taking responsibility for our own egos, a new dimension of love is possible. Now that our partners can trust that we are dedicated to tending to the partnership versus tending solely to our egos, true commitment is possible.  (Note to eager hearts: this is the appropriate time to choose marriage rather than during the Ego-ideal phase!). Hold up! Lets take a moment to look closer at what ego is, and what it means in love. Ego is the latin word for ‘I’. It lies on a continuum. One extreme is when the ego is inflated which can look like arrogance/swagger/narcism, and on the other extreme when the ego is deflated it can look like withdrawn/shutdown/doormat-like. In equilibrium the ego is strong yet not forceful, direct but not judging, respectful, humble, confident without arrogance, and loving. Only from a healthy ego is true love possible. You cannot be fully loved by those whose egos are stuck on either end of the spectrum. Someone with an inflated ego cannot truly love you, even if it seems she/he cares about you it is only because they are focusing on you to see what they can get from you. Someone with a deflated ego is guided by fear and appeasement, neither conducive to deep healthy love. Those with healthy egos however, have self-esteem, and so they are capable of looking into YOU. Helpful questions to uncover where you are on the ego spectrum, and consequently discover if the love you are giving and getting in your relationship is healthy: We are each born with a set of original needs, Dave categorizes them into the 5 As: attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing. -Attention- your caretakers focused on your needs in an engaged way -Acceptance- your family and community accepted you as you were -Appreciation- your family cherished and celebrated you -Affection- your family showed affection in physical and appropriate ways -Allowing- your family supported you without clinging or holding you back These five needs remain with us throughout our life and they create a solid definition of how love is shown. How do you know that you really love yourself? Ask! Using the same 5As you can ask yourself “Am I paying attention to my needs? Am I accepting myself as I really am? Am I holding myself as valuable? Am I taking care of my body? Am I allowing myself to make the choices that reflect who I am rather than what others insist? Notice your answers, and notice how assertive you are. Can you state your needs without aggression or demand? Are you afraid of asking for what you want or afraid of your needs themselves? Are you afraid of needing or wanting to be fully loved? Bring the 5 As into your relationship by talking through them with your partner and turning the questions around! How can I pay attention to your needs? Am I accepting you as you really are? Etc. This can be in incredibly informative and empowering process to pursue together. When you can give yourself the 5As it is called healthy self-love. When you can give your partner the 5As it is called intimacy. And don’t be fooled. Acts of self-love are in themselves a way of showing love to others. Turning attention inward helps you show up and be fully you! The 4A Process: In establishing intimacy, it is critical to address fears of intimacy- Although subconscious, hidden, or simply out of awareness, many relationship conflicts arise from two common fears originating from our childhoods: 1) fear of abandonment and 2) fear of engulfment. These fears develop into fears of intimacy and are the root causes of so many relationship struggles (both MAJOR and minor ones!). The 4A process can help you and your partner work through the fear(s). 1) Admit- admit you are afraid, share with your partner 2) Allow- allow yourself to feel the feeling 3) Act as If- feel the fear but do it anyway, don’t let the fear stop you 4) Affirmation- Tell yourself “I am letting go of this fear” An example: “When you hug me I feel scared you will smother me, but please keep hugging me so that I can work through this feeling because I know you are safe and will not overwhelm me. I don’t want the fear to stop this moment that is happening, so I am going to let go of this fear.” Work with original fears so that you can experience the other side of intimacy! There is a difference between fear management (making exceptions, working around, and placating ourselves, etc) versus taking responsibility for our fear (tracing source, acknowledging triggers, expressing awareness). It’s not you, It’s me! While our romantic relationships are indeed sources of deep happiness, they are also our best labs in which to grow into awakened, full, and healthy human beings. As so many of us have experienced, our intimate partnerships lead us to the most undeveloped parts of ourselves. Humbling! Intruiging! And experience shows that everyone, we mean everyone, has childhood scars that continue to dwell in the psyche and play out in subtle, and unsubtle ways! Taking responsibility and becoming aware of how our past carries over into the present is in itself an ACT OF LOVE. Healthy relationships give us the opportunity to heal old wounds, and therefore the ability to have healthier relationships, and so on. Welcome these opportunities to heal your past! For those of you growth-oriented partners, you can begin to ask yourself and your partner “how can I best sponsor growth and healing?” From this place of love, you can engage in what Dave calls Safe Conversations. Safe Conversations- If you want to love yourself and allow your relationship (current or future) to have more love in it, you must be willing to have conversations without judgement about how the past is informing the present. From here you can choose how you want to give and receive the 5As and how to have a relationship in which childhood wounds are no longer getting in the way. Safe Conversations help to air out and find patterns for deeper understanding. Here is short list of example questions to discuss with your partner (taking turns asking each other), but please refer to Dave’s book for more a more in depth discussion. “How were your early needs handled in childhood? How did your parents show you the 5 As?” “How can your needs be met now in this relationship?” “How were your feelings handled and expressed in your childhood? How was sadness shown? Anger? Fear? Joy?” “How were conflicts handled by your parents?” “How do you want to handle conflicts in our relationship?” “How was free speech seen ny your family?” “How can you feel safe to speak your needs in our relationship?” This is a lot! It is long, deep, unfolding, and takes an immense amount of ego-less led presence. Take breaks! And lastly, a suggestion for expanding your daily capacity for loving kindness: Daily rituals help call our awareness to attention, Dave shares his morning dedication with us: “I say yes to everything that happens to me today as an opportunity to give and receive love without reserve. I am thankful for the enduring capacity to love that has come to me from the sacred heart of the universe. May everything that happens to me today open my heart more and more. May all that I think, say, feel, and do, express loving kindness towards myself, those close to me, and all beings. May love be my life purpose, my bliss, my destiny, my calling, the richest grace I can receive or give and may I always be especially compassionate toward people who are considered least, or last, or who feel alone or lost” Resources Dave Richo's Website How to Be an Adult in Relationship on Amazon How to Be an Adult in Love on Amazon You Are Not What You Think on Amazon www.neilsattin.com/adult Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Dave Richo Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

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#11

17: Stop Worrying, Start Playing - The Art of Improvisation with Patti Stiles

December 15, 2015 • 73m

I wanted to put together something a little different for you today. You probably don’t know (yet) that I spent some time learning the art of physical comedy - you might call it “clown school” - at the Celebration Barn, here in South Paris, Maine. Looking back on the 15 years since then, it’s remarkable how many things I learned, about being present, about being a “yes,” and about rolling with whatever happens - that actually apply in real life. I mean, it only makes sense, right - otherwise why would theater and comedy, good theater and comedy, be so compelling? In the words of Will Shakespeare: All the world’s a stage - and today’s guest is going to help you see how to use that to your advantage in life, and in your relationship! First let me ask you - what do you do to keep things playful with your partner? Are you inadvertently sabotaging the flow of good feelings, good energy, and goodwill in the way that you interact with each other? Is it possible that your fear of making mistakes is getting in the way of being fully there, in the moment? Today’s guest is going to talk about how to get over whatever fear is there so that you and your partner can keep building and growing in your connection. Our guest’s name is Patti Stiles, and she is one of the world’s foremost experts on the art of improvisational theater. She studied directly with Keith Johnstone, author of the book "Impro", at the Loose Moose Theater, and has been working professionally acting, teaching, directing all over the world - since 1983. In today’s conversation, we’re going to talk about how to foster trust, acceptance, and playfulness in your relationship - so that once you see your life as a great work of improvisation - you’ll be able to do it...better! Patti discusses the following topics: What is good improvisation? Does bad improvisation exist? Funny improv vs. reflective improv Improvisation and real-life overlap in many areas Realize it’s ok to make mistakes-this reduces fear and anxiety It’s a challenge to help people overcome the fear of failure Our partners are always making bids for our attention. Being a “Yes,” being neutral, blocking—what do they look like? What if you don’t want to be a YES? Teaching improvisation is teaching to be present. “Make your partner look good.” The dilemma for a teacher/performer when students are glued to their cell phones We don’t value the present moment in society today. How you are isn’t equal to what you’re doing. Sometimes doing something playful and joyous can bring the person back to the present. Being creative can help overcome the boring routine. Couples who are “stuck” usually think they themselves are boring. When a relationship becomes “all about me,” then the focus is no longer on the story or the present. There are exercises you can do to help your partner look good, like “Yes, let’s!” Learn to use the “Happy Nope.” Contribute value to your partner’s world by inspiring their joy. Is there a playful way to interrupt a partner’s assumption about me? Improvisation seeks to bring people into places of trust, acceptance, and play. How to use the negative/positive list Resources: www.pattistiles.com   www.neilsattin.com/improv  Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

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#12

82: How Safety Leads to Better Sex - Sue Johnson

March 15, 2017 • 59m

How do you have better, more passionate, more connected sex with your partner? If you’re looking for information about how to deepen your sensual connection so that things actually improve over time - then you’ve come to the right place! Today’s episode features Sue Johnson, creator of Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT), and author of several best-selling books on how to do relationships well, including Hold Me Tight. Sue’s work masterfully blends attachment theory with how to thrive in partnership - and she’s here today to talk about how knowing your partner more deeply, and building safety, can create deep passion in the bedroom. (You also may recall Sue Johnson’s first visit to the Relationship Alive podcast in Episode 27 - Breaking Free from Your Patterns of Conflict.) The theory and science of relationships has not really looked at sexuality. Newer research is finally beginning to look at sex in the context of relationships. Of course sex can be recreational, but the vast majority of people are experiencing sexuality in the context of long term relationship - and thus this context should be included in our studies. It is as if we are only now beginning to see the whole picture and are able to create a map to help us understand how sexuality impacts, and is impacted by our knowledge about love and attachment bonding. Sex is a conversation by other means. Think of sex as a conversation. If asked who you would have a better conversation with: 1) someone you feel safe and connected or 2) a stranger, most people would say option 1. This is true in sex as well. We have gotten caught up in a false idea that “the known” is less fulfilling, but this simply is not substantiated. Myth: Familiarity is going to kill desire.  In terms of sexuality we have become caught up in this idea that familiarity is going to kill desire and that feeling safe and connected is a disadvantage - but this is a cliche and there is no supportive research. Johnson explains that in fact, “what we know... is that the people who report have the best and most frequent sex, and find it the most thrilling, are people in long term relationships.” Research is showing more and more that the comfort and connection that happens in secure bonding adds to sense of eroticism. There is a distinction between a sense of familiarity where people are just tired of each other and not really connecting, versus what happens when you are actually safe and fully alive and present and connected with each other. Understanding this difference is critical to relationships! We know that the most basic element in secure emotional bonding is emotional responsiveness. When a secure bond is present there is emotional openness, accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement. Intimacy develops because people who have secure attachment are able to find and create deeper moments of connection. ARE- Accessibility + Responsiveness + Engagement. The million dollar question in relationships is “Are you there for me?”. ARE is the answer to this question. Having a connection with your partner in which you are both showing signs of ARE results in a stronger bond, and better sex. Novelty: What is novelty? Novelty occurs when there is a sense of longing, erotic play, spontaneity, and attunement in a relationship. The ability to play arises when connection is met with a sense of attunement. If you are really engaged with somebody and open to being spontaneous with them, you will find that every time you interact together there is a level of novelty! This is true because ultimate intimacy is unattainable - the closer you get to somebody the more you know that you can never know them and this tease becomes a spark for passion and eroticism! Nature has found a way to shut-down habituation. Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, floods us with a sense of connection and belonging and shuts down habituation centers of brain. Habituation occurs when people are not engaged with each other, and/or are taking each other for granted. Habituation is what kills eroticism, not familiarity. People who tend towards avoidantly attached patterns often have an external view of novelty - believing that sex will be boring unless there is a constant introduction of new toys, positions, behaviors, etc. Sex that relies on sensation and performance, however, leads to needing more and more to achieve sexual arousal. This becomes a negative cycle in which the other partner feels used, and disconnected. Safety and thrill: In order to understand the importance of safety to the sensation of spontaneity and thrill, imagine yourself on a zipline. Likely, you would only be able to fully enjoy yourself if you trusted you were securely attached and that all safety measures were in place. In the same way, if you have a secure bond - safety can be a safe adventure, and play and spontaneity are possible! That said, if you want to turn your partner on, the very best thing you can do is to spend a few minutes talking to your partner, and helping each other feel connected. Remember: safety in your bonding is a prelude to great sex. Falling in love again and again and again. The more we understand how sex and bonding are related, the more capability we have to reconnect with our partners and reignite a sense of passion. Knowing how to do this means that passion might not have an expiration date! What to do when things feel dull? The irony is that despite sexuality being ubiquitously displayed in the media and in the public, it is often missing in our intimate conversations. The best thing you can do to move out of habituation and boredom is to openly speak about sex with your partner. Talk about what really turns you on: what you like and what you don’t like. Expand the conversation to include not only what turns you on in the bedroom, but what turns you on in everyday life as well! The secret is in the connection and flow between us. Look at the big picture: What is happening in the bedroom is more than likely an extension of the rest of your relationship - how much sensual connection do you experience throughout the day? Look at everything in context - how do you dance together? Imagine yourself dancing without music - it just doesn’t have that passionate flow we all enjoy so much. Attunement and connection is the music that fires up our sexual interactions and makes our passionate encounters multi-dimensional. Jealousy: Jealousy is the result of a deep sense of threat. It occurs when we become worried that our partner is giving their attention and interested in someone else that makes them turn away from us. One of the reasons that affairs are so threatening is that it threatens the bond that is core to who we are in relationship. The search and craving for emotional connection is one of the most powerful instincts in our species, and therefore, any threat to this bond is registered and felt as dangerous and potentially life-threatening. There is truth and science to this in the sense that emotional isolation is a risk factor for every illness and disease that we know of. Bowlby’s 3 needs in adult relationships: John Bowlby explains that the three core needs in adult relationships are 1) bonding and attachment, 2) sexuality, and 3) caretaking. The attachment is the most basic core level and it defines the other two. It is primary in the sense that while you can live without an orgasm, you cannot live well without emotional connection and affection. We have too narrowly defined sex as performance and sensation - leading us to a disconnected sense of lovemaking that leaves us unfulfilled. Unfulfilled? Unsatisfied? Stuck? Wondering how to break free from a flat or unhealthy pattern of sexuality that you may have become habituated to? Invite in the findings from new bonding science that correlates emotional connection with fulfilling sex lives. Be willing to look at the whole picture - placing your lovemaking within the context of your relationship. Remember to re-establish safety with your partner before jumping into the details about your sex life. This may, for some of you, require involving a therapist- and if so, do! For others this may mean becoming clear that the intention of the conversations you are seeking are about connection and understand, versus shaming, blaming, or judging. Once you have re-established a safe container for this conversation, begin to notice, together, your unique sexual dance. Ask yourselves and each other what patterns are present. What steps are taken to initiate sex? Who does what, and when? Use action verbs! What emotional music is playing (or not playing) in the background of your sensual lives together? With safety you can be free to become curious and vulnerable and to begin to look openly, engage, and share on a deep and intimate level about your sexuality. You can begin to explore what great sex is for each of you. You can share your fantasies! You can play and be spontaneous! You can discover and relearn what excites you! Be open to being surprised by yourself, and each other! A great lasting relationship and a great erotic life together awaits. Resources: Read Sue Johnson’s book Love Sense and Hold Me Tight Check out Sue Johnson’s website for videos, resources, and upcoming events Sue Johnson’s talk at the Psychotherapy Networker on Attachment and Sex www.neilsattin.com/sue2 Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Sue Johnson Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

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#13

05: How Orgasms Are Hurting Your Relationship (and how to fix it) - Marnia Robinson

September 22, 2015 • 61m

Odds are that the way that you’re having sex is actually causing problems in your relationship. In this episode, you will find out how having orgasms is a surefire way to lead you toward getting bored of your partner, creating problems, and breaking up - and how karezza (or non-orgasmic sex) can completely change the dynamics of your relationship. Experience the increased closeness, desire, and feelings of fulfillment in relationship that will help you sustain partnership over the long term. My guest today is Marnia Robinson, author of Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships.  Her book is about how sex and orgasms affect your biochemistry, how it can undermine your relationship, and she also describes a way of lovemaking that boosts your bonding biochemistry to help you increase your love and fulfillment in your relationship. Marnia is a graduate of Brown and Yale and a former corporate attorney.  She blogs on Huffington Post and serves on the board of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health. Marnia is also the moderator of the website www.reuniting.info where you can find more information about karezza and evidence to support how switching to non-orgasmic lovemaking will actually lead to a happier, more intimate relationship. Here are some of the details of our conversation: When you have an orgasm, your brain gets the biggest natural blast of neurochemicals possible without drugs. The “ripple effects” of how this blast changes your internal biochemistry can continue for up to two weeks and affect how we view our partner and the world around us. Some of the ripples you might experience are: mood swings, depression, anger, irritability, mental fogginess, boredom, and fatigue While western society has become very orgasm-focused, other cultures have had teachings (many of them ancient) that advocate abstaining from too much sexual climax because of weakened energy. Now science can actually back up this advice. It makes sense in terms of evolution and fostering diversity why you would want to grow tired of one partner and seek out another. However, since we humans are in the rare 3-5% of mammals that pair bond, we have two competing bio-mechanisms at work. If you stick with orgasm-centered sex, then you are going down the road of habituation to your partner. On the other hand, if you practice sex that is non-orgasmic, you activate the pair bonding circuitry more and more strongly over time. When you are focused on bonding activities, you actually become increasingly satisfied in your relationship - and take yourself off the path that would otherwise have potentially led to your dissatisfaction. Bear in mind that there is a difference for new lovers, who are in the “honeymoon neurochemistry” phase for the first two years of a relationship. During this phase you won’t be as susceptible to the same pattern of habituation - but by the time you reach two years you are in danger of rapidly shifting into an orgasm-driven downward spiral. Marnia encourages gentle lovemaking and intercourse without being goal-driven and orgasm-seeking. She also teaches attachment cues or “bonding behaviors” that should be part of each couple’s daily relationship.  If you download this show guide you will ALSO get a link to her FREE GUIDE on bonding behaviors that will foster oxytocin production in you and your partner. This kind of sex brings more attention to each partner’s needs, a stronger connection, more tenderness, lingering contentment, better communication, reduced anxiety, more energy, more understanding, and more balance in life. This kind of sex is also sustainable over the long term. If you’re in a more dopamine (and orgasmic) centered cycle, you will potentially have to always be focused on new ways to create more dopamine. Why go down that rabbit hole when your body already has a mechanism perfectly designed to keep you sexually satisfied and in harmony with your partner over the long term? Are you intrigued?  I promise that you will learn things you have probably never heard before from Marnia’s practical explanation of these techniques.  Give them a try, and please let us know your results! Links and Resources: www.reuniting.info   - Marnia’s website Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow on Amazon Text PASSION to 33444 to download the pdf version of this episode guide AND Marnia’s Free Guide to Bonding Behaviors. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of "Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow” by Marnia Robinson. Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook   www.neilsattin.com/cupid   (Marnia’s episode page on my website)   Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

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#15

88: Helen Fisher - The Anatomy of Love: What Makes Love Last

April 22, 2017 • 58m

Why do we love? Is it part of human evolution? What in our biology makes us strive for love and intimacy? And how do we make it last? This week we welcome Dr. Helen Fisher, TED talk all-start and author of Anatomy of Love - A Natural History of Mating, Marriage and Why We Stray. In this episode we dive head first into how long-term partnerships fit into what makes us human - along with some thoughts about breaking up, serial monogamy, and what makes love last. Helen Fisher is the Chief Scientific Advisor to Match.com as well as a Senior Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute. You’ll appreciate how her knowledge of the science of love can give us the roadmap to long-lasting happiness in relationship. We are built to fall in love. Is the quest for long-term thriving monogamy futile? History, biology, and evolution show us that we are, in fact, built to create pair bonds. We are built to fall in love. Our brains are wired to feel intense feelings of romantic love and attachment. While there is biology to support attachment structures, there is also biology to support the drive to wander, and to cheat. To reconcile these concepts it is important to know that pair bonding is different than monogamy. Every individual, couple, and culture needs to figure out how to navigate what attachment in the context of romantic love means. Serial monogamy? In hunting and gathering societies serial monogamy was not necessarily the golden standard or expectation for coupling. However, women and men tended to have 2-3 spouses during the course of their lives. We have most likely evolved to have a series of partnerships throughout our lives. While culture plays a major role in how this is expressed, we see it happening more and more in people in their 20s and 30s.  Before tying the knot.  Research shows that over 50% of single Americans have had a one night stand or friends with benefits. This is not reckless, in fact, it very well might be helping establish healthier marriages. There is a current trend in the United States in which the pre-commitment stage of relationships is being extended. 67% of people who live with their significant other say they have not married yet because they are worried about divorce. That said, 81% of people who married later say they would marry the same person again if they had a second chance. The longer you are together pre-marriage, the more likely you are to try to stick together, and this results in a sharp decrease in divorce rates. This is true because the time spent together gives you the chance to really know who you are marrying, and give the relationship time to work itself out, or not.  4 year itch- Data shows that most people will divorce around 3-4 years of marriage. This is likely no coincidence. It takes 3-4 years to raise a child through infancy, and it seems evolutionarily beneficial to have evolved a predisposition for serial pair bonding linked with having one child at a time, and then to seek another partner as an adaptive strategy evolutionarily to have kids with different partners, creating genetic variety. Rebuilding local community- We may be putting too much pressure and improbably expectations on our partnerships due to the fact that we have lost local community. It used to be that marriages were surrounded by family and community and could depend on help from others to help raise children. The loss of local community is a very serious issue facing contemporary marriages, and it is very important that we focus on rebuilding these social networks. Find, create, nurture, and invest in your friendship circles as an extension of and protection for, your primary relationship. Happiness in the brain: Research results from the study of people in long term self-reported happy marriages shows an increase in activity in 3 brain regions. These three areas serve to facilitate the function of 1) empathy, 2) controlling our emotions, and 3) increasing our ability to overlook what we do not like about our partner and focus on what we do like (aka positive illusion). In order to keep all three of these basic brain systems alive it is important to do the following “magic combo”. The Magic Combo: Keep the romance alive with NOVELTY: Novelty drives up dopamine in thebrain and can foster intense feelings of romantic love. Keep the feelings of deep attachment by STAYING IN TOUCH: Hold hands, sit together on the couch, walk arm in arm, sleep in each other’s arms… Anytime that you are in pleasant touch with someone you are driving up oxytocin levels which fosters the feeling of deep attachment. Keep the sex drive alive by… having SEX: Sex is good for the body, the mind, and for the relationship. Pleasant and sensual stimulation and orgasm drives up dopamine and oxytocin levels in the brain therefore impacting both the sense of romantic love connection and deep attachment so critical for maintaining long-term partnerships. Positive illusions: Our brains are very well built for deception. Use this to your advantage! Train your brain by using mindfulness and gratitude practices in order to have more control over what you focus on, and what you overlook. You can really build more capacity for attraction and love for your partner by increasing your ability and capability to shift how you see them. Instead of ruminating on the way your partner doesn’t do their morning dishes, choose to appreciate the cup of coffee they made you, etc… Understand each other on a biological level. We are naturally drawn to some people rather than others, and much of this attraction is dependent on hormones and chemicals. The more you get to know different aspects of personality, and study your partner, the more you can give and get what each of you needs. Are they high testosterone? High estrogen? Low serotonin? High serotonin? Knowing each other on a biological level helps to turn differences into things to be celebrated, versus sources of consternation and frustration. NOTE: Check out Helen Fisher’s quiz to figure this out below in the resource section. Is technology changing the way we love? Dr. Helen Fisher posits that while technology is drastically changing the way we court, it cannot and is not changing the basic brain mechanics of how humans form attachments. She sees technology as helping, or hindering, relationship forming, and this is especially true for older citizens. Deep relating: Continue to find ways together, and apart to nourish intimacy. This is likely going to require a constant balancing act of individual and partnership needs. Make time for deep relating, for it is in this time that you get to know and understand your partner in the ways they want to be understood, and then you can truly give them what they need. At the same time it is key that you continue to support each other’s individual and independent growth so as not to get over dependent or create claustrophobia within the coupledom. In a good relationship everyone feels like they’ve got a good deal and that it is balanced. Strive to create this sense of fulfilment for each other! Resources: Read Helen Fisher’s book Anatomy of Love and check out her other books too! Take Helen Fisher’s quizzes here Check out Helen Fisher’s speeches and articles on her website Watch Dr. Helen Fisher’s TED talk The Brain In Love www.neilsattin.com/helen Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Helen Fisher Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

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#18

92: Creating New Possibilities from the Inside Out - Winning from Within - Erica Ariel Fox

May 23, 2017 • 70m

How do you get better at being you? How do you get past the stuck points - that gap between what you know you could/should do - and what you actually do? We have a vast amount of inner resource available to us to help get unstuck and learn new ways of showing up - and today we’re going to bring that resource online. Our guest is Erica Ariel Fox, author of the New York Times Bestseller Winning from Within. Erica is part of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and her book follows up where Difficult Conversations leaves off - addressing that question of “How come this still isn’t working even though I know what I’m supposed to do?” Often, it comes down to the inner work that needs to be done - so that the outer strategies can actually be effective for you. (if you’re curious - you can listen to our interview with Sheila Heen, one of the authors of Difficult Conversations, here in Episode 59) So - where do you start when you’re trying to figure out why what ought to be working...isn’t? How do you figure out what parts of you need attention, growth, and development? Let’s dive in!! Identify the performance gap: All of us have experienced times in which our behavior and actions were incongruent with what we wished we were doing or knew that we were capable of. Instead of being the reflective listener in a conversation you find yourself yelling… Instead of taking that walk you find yourself sitting eating the last of the cookies… Everyone of us has moments in which we know what to do, but do not do it. Can you notice these moments? Can you have a lookout part that observes the gap between intention and action? And can you work to separate this awareness from a judging part? Talk to yourself! The process of going inside and checking in is critical in building self-awareness so that we can make new choices in how we relate to ourselves and the world. Slow down and begin listening in on your internal thought life. Are you constantly criticizing yourself? Judging others? Is your mind filled with gratitudes or grumblings? Mindfulness moments: Make these internal life pulse checks frequent rituals. Perhaps you choose to check in every hour on the hour to see what you are thinking, feeling, doing, needing, and wanting. Taking intentional pauses to check in with your physiology and inner life leads to an increased sense of curiosity - the key catalyst for change. By listening with curiosity to the story you have of yourself at any given moment you begin to open to the possibility of growth and aliveness. Centering on the continuum: As you turn inward can you find the 4 big archetypes? They are the Thinker, the Warrior, the Lover, and the Dreamer. Each one of us holds these four ways of navigating life and the world around us, however they may be elevated or deflated at any given moment. There is a middle ground with all of these- and we are constantly working with these parts to integrate them into a balanced whole. When centered these parts of ourselves are helpful, and can begin to give us counsel. Tune in regularly to see which parts are silenced, and which parts are on overdrive. By checking in on the status of these archetypes inside ourselves we can gather a lot of information regarding what we need more or less of. The Thinker: A centered thinker collects information, synthesizes, finds logical answers, and remains open to changing their thinking. An elevated thinker might think they know the answer. They might stay convinced they are right and remain closed off to other perspectives. A deflated thinker is someone who doesn’t think their ideas matter at all. They are constantly questioning themselves, filled with doubt, and are rarely able to stand up for their ideas. The Warrior: The warrior is the assertive part of ourselves. If inflated it becomes aggressive, if deflated it makes us avoid conflict and confrontation. The Lover: The lover is the part of us that has emotional intelligence and is naturally inclined towards relationships. If this part is inflated we may become emotionally flooded and too dependent on relationships. If the lover in us is deflated we may devalue our emotions, and become distrustful of the emotional urges we have. The Dreamer: The dreamer is the part of us that is connected with our imagination and with envisioning the future. It helps us get excited about the future, about possibilities, and helps steer us to what is next. If the dreamer is inflated we may become ungrounded and unrealistic. An inflated dreamer gets too far ahead too fast. A deflated dreamer feels lost with no sense of purpose or direction. The Lookout: As we’ve already mentioned, this is the part of you that can be aware of patterns that are going on, who can assess which of your Big 4 is in the limelight (and which ones are lurking in the shadows). Your lookout helps you assess any situation and determine which of your Big 4 might need to step up more fully (and which might want to step back a bit) - as well as to notice the larger dynamics at work. The Captain: In addition to the Big 4- we each have a captain. We want the captain at the helm, and the big 4 as passengers. The captain represents our capacity for high level functioning and integration. The captain helps us self-regulate and be conscious in our choices. Take advice from the advisory council: If you are feeling uncertain about how to best navigate a process or a decision, try sitting down with a piece of paper and asking each of your big 4 if they have any advice for you. What is their perspective? What is their best advice to the captain? Then write from the captain’s perspective. - take in advice from advisory council. So much insight can come from honoring the ‘advisory council’ with your attention and attunement.   Engage with your inner life. Running away or ignoring your inner life is dangerous and is very unlikely to help you in making good choices in relationships, work life, or community. Can you instead begin to engage in a genuinely open dialogue with yourself and all the different parts of yourself? Make it concrete: In an effort to remain engaged with your inner life it can be helpful to have external reminders. Get creative! Find several small symbolic items to help represent the Big 4 and place them around your space. Imagine small altars that remind you to pause and check in. Finding what might represent each part is in itself a great way to get to know these parts of you more deeply. Move around: Another important way to connect with the quality of each part is to move your body in ways that help you access this part. Take on the body posture of each part. By embodying each one individually with intention and attention you can begin to tap into the mood, values, perspective, and energy of the archetype. From here you can begin to gather their wisdom somatically and then integrate it emotionally and intellectually. The Voyager- Another important archetype to recognize and cultivate in ourselves is that of the voyager. The voyager is a part of us that we can activate in order to help us on the path of exploration. It embodies a growth-oriented mindset and inspires us to remain curious, and to continually follow our impulse to learn. Invite the Dreamer to help inspire hope: When our relationships get in a rut it is often because we have become stuck in a limiting set of dynamics and patterns. We reenact the same conflicts and conversations over and over again- sometimes without awareness. The Dreamer helps break these cycles by inspiring us to ask what is possible. When one partner begins to engage with the relationship from a Dreamer perspective, the entire dynamic can shift. Many of us are longing, perhaps subconsciously, for this part of our partner to show up. When it does, we can experience incredible relief and revived hope as it shows us that our partner is in a place of curiosity, openness, and engagement with the future. By taking some time to check-in with the Dreamer, you are investing energy in helping imbue your relationship with that critical sense of possibility that creates safety and spark!   Resources: Check out Erica Ariel Fox’s website here Take a FREE survey of your Big 4 Read Erica Ariel Fox’s NY Times Best-Selling book Winning from Within www.neilsattin.com/within Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Erica Ariel Fox Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

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#19

110: Your Tantra Questions Answered - with Diana Richardson

October 04, 2017 • 42m

How can you use the techniques of tantra in your everyday, busy life? How do you get off the “getting off” grid when it comes to sex, and find deeper, more satisfying connection with your partner? What is “relaxed entry” - and how can that revolutionize your sex life? In this episode, we receive a return visit from Diana Richardson, one of the world’s experts on tantra, and author of The Heart of Tantric Sex (among many other books on tantra). We talk about how to make tantra practical - along with a discussion of “relaxed entry” - which can revolutionize your sex life whether or not you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction. We talk about tantra in same-sex relationships, how to have sex without it being focused on “excitement” - and...much more! If you’re interested in hearing my earlier episodes with Diana Richardson, please check out: Episode 2 - Discover the Power of Slow Sex Episode 10 - How to Get Off the Rollercoaster and Get Back to Love Cultivate body perception: Our overarching cultural education teaches us to be mind oriented, and thus, detached from our bodies. We engage with our bodies mostly from a place of negativity- focusing mainly on feeling what isn’t working. When was the last time that you simply observed how you were sitting or standing? We must begin to engage our capacity to perceive our integrated selves through re-anchoring our awareness in our own bodies. Once we have some control of where our attention goes, we can then start to feel into our sensations and truly ask ourselves ‘what feels good to me? What might feel better?’. A relaxed body has the capacity to allow for an expansion of energy/life force/vitality- and this is the basis of tantra. In order to set this foundation start to tend to your inner awareness, checking in with your physical self several times throughout the day so that you can truly sense that you have a body and you can sense into where it is holding tension, where it is relaxed, where it needs some extra attention, etc. Feeling on a cellular level: Paired with our detachment from our physical selves is also an addiction to excitement. Culturally we have this belief that sex requires the production of something. Most people are addicted to excitement and are often having sex that is so over stimulating that they undervalue the nuances and subtleties that could lead to greater pleasure, connection, and fulfilment. What if sex was less about building things up to climax through stimulation than it was about actually feeling what it is we are feeling? Tantric sensuality is founded on the concept that the greater our capacity to feel ourselves on a cellular level the greater our opportunity for deep pleasure is. From sensation to sensitivity- Many of us have come into our sexuality believing 1) that climax is critical, 2) intensity equals satisfaction. The drive and strive for climax is mostly a mind-led directive, and can further disconnect us from our body intelligence. While intensity of sensation can feel great at times, the truth is that the more we rely on sensation in our sexual experiences, the less sensitive we become, and then the body will require more sensation to produce the same results. This overemphasis on stimulating sensation ends up decreasing our sensitivity. What is the difference? Sensation is extroverted and is situation-dependent whereas sensitivity is our intrinsic perspective on the feeling of our body at any given moment. Slow shifts through continual reflection: In order to reorient ourselves back to our sensitivity we have to increasing our ability to be embodied. This training of our awareness back into body memory and knowing will not be quick - however the more you can incorporate this practice into daily life the sooner you will see yourself shift. Go inward and do a body scan while driving, cooking, talking, etc. Ask yourself “where am I holding unnecessary tension? How can I shift myself to promote more relaxation and softening?”. The more you can widen and soften your physical self the more access you will begin to gain into your more subtle internal experiences- those that become doorways into deeper sexual experiences. Do more with your own body! Want more access to pleasure in your body? Start seeking activities that provide opportunities for you to experience the joy of being a being in a body! Book somatic experiencing sessions- massage, cranial sacral, floats, facials, and more. Find trusting professionals to help you connect to yourself through safe touch. “Let’s put the bodies together and see what happens” Sexuality without shoulds is WAY better! What if masculinity were not tied to erection? What if you could silence the shoulds and be with what is, how it is, when it is… When you move away from a preconceived notion of what sex is supposed to be like or look like or feel like and move towards a perspective of ‘let’s put our bodies together and see what happens’ you enter into a playful, spontaneous, surprising, authentic and usually delightful and informative way of relating. One way couples can practice entering this space is to begin exploring relaxed entry. This is when you use loads of lubrication to guide a non erect penis into the vagina with the intention of just moving around and allowing for sensitivity and exploration. Once the penis is entered without erection, you can rest and see what happens, or move around, but do not push - just enjoy the feeling(s). This is not only often very pleasurable for both in itself, but it is another way to tune more deeply into nuanced body awareness. Together allow yourselves to see how your parts awaken to each other, and let the process unfold in an organic way. Meanwhile, allow all the feelings - including the non-feelings! Often when you tune in you realize how much you have been missing by simply focusing on erection and climax. Containing the energy: While orgasms are great- there are many different ways to get there. When we pump and contract and work to build up sensation we tend to discharge the energy. What happens when you don’t chase it? What happens when you bring curiosity, playfulness, and a surrendering to doing things differently? As you each get to know your bodies in more subtle and deeper ways you will learn to drive your attention to different places, and to actually choose to contain the sexual energy and charge and divert it into new places, and more places. Bring awareness to yourself as you are making love and being with- If you only have 15-20 minutes available, dedicate this time to laying together and being together. Hold each other’s eye gaze. Land in your body. Allow your physical selves to just be in proximity and notice together what arises. This being-ness and then noticing and naming is what will help pave the way towards reclaiming your sensitivity. Sponsors: Talkspace.com - Online therapy that matches you with your perfect therapist. You can communicate with your therapist daily - so they can be there for you during the moments you most need support. Visit talkspace.com/ALIVE and use the coupon code “ALIVE” for $30 off your first month of online therapy. Resources: Learn more about Making Love retreats led by Diana Richardson here Read Diana’ Richardson’s books including Slow Sex: The Path to Fulfilling and Sustainable Sexuality Listen to Diana Richardson’s other episodes with Relationship Alive: Episode 2: neilsattin.com/tantra Episode 10: neilsattin.com/tantra2 www.neilsattin.com/tantra3 Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Diana Richardson Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

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