How Do I Accurately Assess a Potential Relationship Partner?

Listen to the blog article as an extended version on my podcast, or read it below.

Are you dating and wondering if this time around the other person is the right long-term partner for you? What is required to assess another person realistically and minimize repeating heartbreak and disappointment?

I often see people leaving their marriage or common-law relationship and within a few months, they are involved with somebody else, declaring that this time, things are different.
What has most likely happened in those cases? It is very possible that the person has skipped an important step, the one of grieving and completing the old relationship. Instead, they have simply replaced one partner with the next, because that is what we are taught to do.

If you are like most people, you will associate the word “grief” with a loved one dying. In reality, grief and loss, in one form or another, occur with most changes in our lives, including the end of a relationship.

When a relationship ends in separation or divorce, it brings huge changes to our daily routine, to our friendships and social interactions, and often to our financial situation. There may be elements of relief that the pain and suffering we experienced being in the relationship is over, but there will also be elements of grief and having to adapt to the changes.

Processing the changes can be challenging because our environment is not supportive. Often, the advice we are given when a relationship ends is along the lines of “don’t feel bad” and “there are many fish in the sea and you’ll find somebody else”, or in other words, “replace the lost relationship with another one”, as if partners are simply exchangeable.

What is required to move forward without dragging our old baggage with us is to fully process the previous relationship, understand what patterns caused the break-up, and grieve the old relationship and the loss of our dreams for the future. The choice to be with somebody else without having done the deeper work might come from fear of being alone. I know because I have experienced this myself in the past. I remember being very much in love with a man many years ago and feeling shocked and heartbroken when the relationship ended due to depression and mental health issues. Within five months, in fact by Christmas that same year, I was dating somebody else, convinced he must be “the love of my life”. What was really underneath this rash decision was that I didn’t want to be alone for Christmas. I had not vetted this man properly and the relationship did not last long.

Jumping into the next relationship without knowing the other person well will most likely cause further heartbreak when that relationship also ends. So how does one not give in to the temptation to rush into the next relationship? And how do we evaluate other people as a potential match?

Dr. Joan Borysenko likes to joke that “if your parents were alcoholics, you can go to a cocktail party, and there’s one alcoholic, and you’re going to end up talking to that one person.” We are naturally drawn to what is familiar and unresolved from childhood. Therefore, we need to be aware of our wounds and our patterns. What have I learned about myself, other people and love relationships growing up? If I am afraid to be alone or have a pervasive fear of abandonment, I might rush into the first possible relationship that shows up and recreate a vicious circle of repeating heartbreak. Or if one of my parents was emotionally distant that might be exactly what I find myself attracted to over and over again, even though I suffer greatly when my partner retreats and closes off.

When we get to know somebody, it pays off to take it slow and to not focus so much on ourselves, but to actually be really curious about the other person. If we focus internally on how someone makes us feel, for example attractive, admired, or appreciated, that focus on ourselves does not tell us anything about the other person. We cannot hear what people tell us between the lines if we are too distracted by our own feelings. We want to learn to read other people relatively quickly before we get emotionally attached to them. Once we have started to bond with somebody or have announced the new relationship to all our social contacts, we are more likely to make excuses for them and to put up with behaviours, character traits and values that will become deal breakers in the long run.

In order to assess somebody for a match, we need to know what our own values are and which ones are “must haves” or “deal breakers”. We need to learn to listen for other people’s values in what they share with us. Here are some questions to keep in mind:

  • What matters to them? What values become apparent? Are these values in line with your top 10 values?
  • What is their position on taking responsibility for their own words and actions? Do they blame others, like ex-partners, for past difficulties?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do they look at challenges and problem solving in regards to life situations, especially relationships? If they are conflict-avoidant, they won’t be able to work relationship issues out when they arise.
  • How great are their interpersonal skills and communication skills? Do they have a high EQ which allows them to have empathy, share their own emotions and maintain relationships beyond the initial connection?
  • Do they have a history of working through situations, or are they most likely a “fair weather friend”, who is going to be there for a good time but does not have the resilience to work through challenging life situations?

Even after a few dates, we don’t have the entire picture yet. We are likely filling in the blanks with wishful thinking. Rather than deceiving ourselves that we already know a lot, let’s continue to remain curious and open to discover what the other person is really like. Hypnotherapist Michael Yapko recommends to make a concrete list of 25 things we do not know about this person, any one of which could be a potential deal-breaker. What are the things you don’t know for sure yet, and still need to find out?

Before we commit to another person, it is also beneficial to have one or two honest friends or family members vet this potential new partner. In order for this to be helpful, we of course have to be willing to listen to their impressions and assessment. The best way to attract a more successful relationship is not to approach the search for a new partner with desperation and immediacy but with curiosity, a realistic attitude and by taking one step at a time.

Contact me for

individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Jealousy PART 2 – Working Through Jealousy and Fear

Listen to the entire blog article as an extended version on my podcast, or read part 2 below!

In part 1 of this blog, we met Jessica and Christopher who are struggling with jealousy in their relationship. What can they do to work through the emotions of jealousy and fear?

As a relationship moves through different stages, jealousy changes. During the earlier stages of a relationship, there is little investment, so jealousy is minimal. During the middle part of a relationship, like in Jessica and Christopher’s case, when the honeymoon period is over but they haven’t yet figured out as a couple how to move to a more mature love stage, jealousy is greater because they are invested in the relationship but there is also uncertainty. Once they have moved to the next stage and have learned to reassure each other of their commitment when fears and emotions are triggered, jealousy will naturally decrease.

We all have different ideas about what commitment means. If we believe that our partner is truly committed to us and the relationship, we are less likely to experience jealousy. Communication about what constitutes commitment helps us to understand our partner more.

It takes two to have jealousy problems. In order to build security and clear out jealousy there are some guidelines.

  1. Don’t provoke a jealous response in your partner by flirting with others or by keeping secrets from your partner. When you play jealousy games, you both lose because it increases the fear between you instead of building trust.
  2. Don’t check on or spy on your partner. It does not eliminate your uncertainty and worry. You can never be 100% certain what another person might do one day. Instead of being able to enjoy your love in the present moment, you live every day in the misery of jealousy and fear.
  3. Don’t get involved with somebody who is already attached to somebody else. You might think that you are sophisticated enough and can handle a triangle situation by compartmentalizing, but in my experience as a relationship coach, most of us have a hard time doing this in the long run. We are programmed by our biology to form exclusive attachments.
  4. If you are in a committed and exclusive relationship, reassure your partner of your commitment. Show empathy with their fear of loss and show them through gestures and words that they are the most important person to you. You might feel controlled or smothered by their jealousy, but retreating only increases their fear and creates a vicious cycle. If you can on the other hand take a step towards your partner and reassure her or him of your priorities, your love and your lasting commitment, you have changed the jealousy dance. What is good for your partner, is also good for you.

In our session, both Christopher and Jessica learned to understand what predisposed Jessica through her past history and the present situation to be jealous.

  1. Her father died when she was 8. She learned the belief that “people you love leave you”.
  2. Her mother remarried quickly and had two more children with her step-father. Jessica felt replaced.
  3. Her high school boyfriend cheated on her. She learned the belief that “men can’t be trusted to be faithful”.

  1. Christopher had expressed to Jessica that he does not want a fourth child because he already has three daughters. Even though Jessica never particularly wanted children, she has had second thoughts for a while. The bond Christopher has with his ex-wife through the children made Jessica feel excluded and short changed by life.

In several individual sessions with Jessica, she managed to clear out many of her limiting beliefs and fears. She also got to know the jealous part in her that was trying to protect her from getting hurt again. She connected with her younger selves which carried the pain of her past experiences to clear those burdens out. She became able to express her jealousy by speaking for that jealous part rather than going ballistic because she was being high-jacked by that part.

In further couples sessions, Christopher learned to do what felt counter intuitive to him. Instead of retreating when Jessica expresses jealousy, he learned to reassure her. He lets her know that she is still the most beautiful woman he knows even if he looks at other women. He also changed how he interacted with others: He is now merely friendly instead of flirting with other women. Most importantly, he was able to share with Jessica that he accommodates his ex-wife out of fear to see his daughters less. They managed to work out how they can show up as a team with his ex-spouse. Jessica’s doubts about children disappeared as her relationship with Christopher grew closer and as she felt more secure and safe.

 

To work through jealousy and other relationship issues,

please contact me for

individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Jealousy PART 1 – “It’s ridiculous how jealous she is!”

Listen to the blog article as an extended version on my podcast, or read it below!

The body language of the couple in front of me indicates a complete disconnect. Christopher has his arms crossed and has turned away, while his partner Jessica has tears rolling down her cheeks. Her body is bent over in shame. She looks down. “I don’t know what is wrong with me”, she says with a small voice. “I get so jealous when he looks at another woman and I get really mad when he flirts with somebody else. And then there is his ex-wife…” Her body language gets defensive. “It makes me absolutely ballistic that he accommodates her every whim.” Christopher reacts, “She is even jealous of my daughters”. He adds with contempt, “that is just ridiculous!”

Is it ridiculous? Let’s see if we can understand jealousy better, based on our evolutionary heritage and Jessica’s past experiences.

What is this emotion that we call jealousy?

Jealousy is the fear that a special relationship we have, with a romantic partner, family member or close friend, is threatened. We fear that our partner, family member or friend will form a closer relationship with someone else and that we will be excluded or abandoned. Jealousy is not envy. Envy occurs when we believe that someone has achieved an advantage and we resent their success or happiness. We interpret their success as our failure. Envy is about comparing ourselves to others. Jealousy is about a threat to a relationship in which we are deeply invested.

Jealousy is not a single emotion, but a mix of anger, anxiety, fear of loss, confusion, helplessness, hopelessness, sadness and great vulnerability. These powerful emotions go hand in hand with certain fearful thoughts, e.g. “I am being replaced. I don’t measure up. He/she loves another person more. He/she will leave me”. These thoughts and emotions usually trigger previous relationship experiences, often all the way back to childhood. We might be triggered into feeling the same way as when our younger sibling came along and received all the attention, or when we had another painful experience of a relationship changing or ending.

Jealous feelings are normal and not a problem. They can become problematic when we act on those feelings of fear, when we ask pointed questions, interrogate, follow the other person, spy on them, check their GPS, read their email or text messages on their phone and obsess about a potential dishonesty, betrayal or infidelity.

Jealousy is a primal emotion just like our fight or flight response. Evolution helps us to understand why jealousy can be so powerful and all consuming. There are two evolutionary theories that explain the terrifying fear behind jealousy. Parental Investment Theory and the Theory of the Competition for Limited Resources explain that we are more likely to protect and support individuals who share our genes, like biological children, siblings or parents. Both men and women can experience sexual jealousy and attachment jealousy but a man is more likely to feel jealous over perceived sexual infidelity because of the biological need to protect and continue his own genes. A woman is more likely to experience jealousy over perceived emotional closeness between her partner and another woman because that could mean that resources and protection will be provided to someone else.

Robert L. Leahy points out in his book “The Jealousy Cure” that historically, jealousy was viewed differently than today. It was a central aspect of Greek mythology and literature. In Medieval Europe, it was viewed as a necessary, even positive, emotion that was linked to honour. Only in the 19th century did jealousy come to be increasingly viewed as interfering with domestic harmony. The Victorian period emphasized the need to control our powerful emotions. Today, jealousy is an emotion we are expected to be ashamed of and feel we need to hide. We believe that jealousy is a sign that there is something wrong with the jealous person. Jealousy has become a symbol of inability to trust and lack of self-confidence.

Jealousy does not only show up in romantic partnerships, but also in families. Today, 35% of all households in North America include stepchildren. When there is a new partner, children often experience feelings of betrayal, anger, anxiety and resentment. Stepparents can also experience competition with their step children. To deny those feelings only creates inner conflicts and passive-aggressive interactions. There is no shame in jealousy and it can be worked through and cleared out either in individual sessions or through couples coaching, or both.

Jealousy even shows up at work. Job security in today’s day and age is constantly in question. It can depend on whom the boss favours and who gets socially included or excluded. The fear to lose one’s job can fuel jealousy with work colleagues.

Social media gives us all opportunities to feel that we have been excluded or rejected. We might perceive that others seem to enjoy friendships, relationships and families that we don’t have. Not being invited to an event or not being tagged can become an experience of exclusion. Or we view others seemingly happy private lives, romantic declarations or trips to exotic destinations with jealousy or envy. We don’t realize in those moments of jealousy that Facebook or Instagram are anything but a full reflection of reality.

Just know that you are not alone if you are experiencing jealousy. Anyone can be provoked to feel jealous because evolution built jealousy into our human nature. Whether jealousy is a problem depends on how much jealous feelings overwhelm and preoccupy you, and if you act on them and if that interferes with your relationships. Feelings of jealousy can be balanced out by working on your past experiences and beliefs about relationships.

If you experienced a traumatic separation, divorce, sickness or death in your family of origin, you might have learned the belief that people you love and rely on will leave. Your learned attachment style also has an influence on the relationship beliefs you have learned. If you have experienced that you can rely on your primary caretaker to always come back and adequately take care of your needs, it is more likely that you have learned to trust that others are reliable and caring. If you have learned as an infant that your primary caretaker cannot be relied on, does not care or does not respond in an appropriate time or manner, it is more likely that you expect—and recreate—the same in your adult relationships. If you have learned an insecure attachment style, you are more likely to be jealous.

Your comfort level with closeness is also related to how jealous you feel. If you don’t feel comfortable with closeness, you are less likely to be jealous. You won’t rely on the relationship as much as somebody who needs closeness or is comfortable with it.

If you answer to one or more of these questions with yes, you are probably more likely to be afraid of loss and therefore more jealous.

  1. Did one of your parents leave or were there threats of a separation or divorce?
  2. Did you worry as a child or teenager that one or both of your parents might leave you, disown you, replace you, or that they might get sick or die?
  3. Did your childhood include infidelity by one or both of your parents?
  4. Did you family move a lot so that you did not experience longer lasting friendships with other kids?
  5. Were you ever in a relationship with a narcissistic or dishonest person?
  6. Did someone you dated or were married to let you down, even cheated on you?

 

You can read how Christopher and Jessica have changed their situation,

in Jealousy PART 2 – Working Through Jealousy and Fear.

 

Contact me for

individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

The book “The Jealousy Cure” by Robert L. Leahy is available from Amazon.

The Importance of Negative Ions

Have you ever wondered why we feel so good when we are outside in nature, walking in a forest, or by the beach, hiking up or skiing down a mountain, enjoying a lake or waterfall? We soak up the sun and breathe in the fresh clean air. This air is filled with tens of thousands of negative ions.

Our environment and our body is made up of both positive and negative ions. Ions are particles, either molecules or atoms, which are electrically charged. Some particles are positively charged and some are negatively charged. Positive ions are molecules that have lost one or more electrons. Negative ions, on the other hand, have extra electrons which are negatively charged.

Electrical equipment such as computers, cell phones, air conditioners and other devices which we are constantly surrounded with, can cause an over-exposure to positive ions. Inflammation and pain in the body are due to an excess of positive ions. Positive ions cause our muscles to contract, they weaken us and make us feel tired, depressed or lethargic.

Negative ions on the other hand, increase the flow of oxygen to the brain. We feel more alert. They also produce biochemical reactions in our body that increase the production of the feel-good hormone serotonin. They are believed to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and decrease our pain and boost our physical flexibility and energy. They balance the autonomic nervous system, revitalize cell metabolism, and enhance immune function. They help us to sleep well and to have smooth digestion.

We don’t usually have the choice to leave our cell phone or computer behind and spend the day in nature. Most of us have jobs that require us to be around electronics all day long. Ideally, we should even connect barefoot with the earth every day, a practice which is called earthing. Three years ago, I examined if earthing helps with jetlag and found that it made a huge difference. But for us here in North America, and for many other places in the world, it is winter right now, which makes being barefoot outside challenging.

How else can we get the negative ions we need? Negative ion emitters or insoles for your shoes which release negative ions into your body are two ways of decreasing your inflammation and pain and getting the health benefits.

To find out more, contact me:

Angelika

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

905-286-9466

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Attracting the Flu

My friend Barbara Ptak just share in a newsletter that she “created the flu for herself”. I had to say “ditto”, so did I. Some of you might think, “WHAT? How is that possible. You get the flu because of a flu virus and your immune system not fighting it off.” Right. And why does your immune system sometimes fight off the “bugs”, and other times it does not? You might say, “not enough sleep, not enough vitamins, unhealthy lifestyle”, maybe you will even say “too much stress”.

So, let’s examine that for a moment. What does too much stress mean? I experienced serious cold symptoms for the second time in five weeks. The first cold turned into a sinus infection, which I attracted ten days before Christmas, and it had to do with what sinus infections are often related to: hurt and anger. Another grief piece surfaced for me around the anniversary of a betrayal. There was something else to process, to forgive and to let go of. 2019 rolled around and I was full of zest again to create a fabulous new year. Two weeks later, I attracted another cold that knocked me out for three days. What was going on this time?

Remember “A Cold Means Your Body Speaks Your Mind”. As Louise Hay taught us, upper respiratory illnesses are related to “too much going on at once, mental confusion, disorder, small hurts” (L. Hay, Heal Your Body, 25). A question Deb Shapiro has us ask is: Do you need some time to yourself to adjust to something? (Shapiro, Your Body Speaks Your Mind, 184) Louise Bourbeau looks at all physical symptoms as a protective function and suggests to inquire: What is this cold preventing me from doing or having? What is it allowing me to do or have? (Bourbeau, Your Body’s Telling You: Love Yourself, 149)

I definitely had too much going on and a lot to digest. Some surprises that required me to revaluate my business and the near future surfaced ten days into the new year. Some parts of me were excited that these unforeseen events brought new opportunities and required me to be more creative in my manifestations in 2019. Some parts were optimistic and would tell me “it will all work out”. Other parts in me were scared by the upcoming changes and the unknown aspects all change inevitably brings with it. Hence, an inner conflict manifested in respiratory symptoms. Ultimately, the cold allowed me three days to take good care of myself.

Since the beginning of 2019, I had put myself on a strict regime of getting up at 6:00 a.m., journaling, doing my inner work, exercising, and then working on my book. I even felt I had to get up at 6:00 a.m. on Sundays. We all have different parts inside of us. The parts in me which love being productive and get a kick out of getting things done were totally on board with this regime. Other parts in me who felt there should be more time for rest and for play were not heard. And voilà, the flu which required me to sleep for two days non-stop, gave those parts the so longed for rest and permission to do absolutely nothing.

If you have a cold or even the flu right now and you feel up to exploring the emotional and mental side of these physical symptoms, you might want to ask yourself

  1. What was going on just before it started?
  2. What stress were you experiencing?
  3. What was going on in your life that was perhaps “too much”, “overwhelming”, “confusing”, “chaotic” or “hurtful”?

Once you have a sense of how parts of you are trying to help you with this break, you can clear out the stress. If you are familiar with tapping, you could tap. Or you could communicate with the parts of you that feel overwhelmed, in the tradition of IFS. If you know how to do an emotional release process, you could release the emotions you are stuck in. You can also use affirmations in the tradition of Louise Hay, or even turn these affirmations into belief statements to change at a subconscious level. PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics both provide ways of changing beliefs in the subconscious mind.

Possible Affirmations or Belief Statements:

  1. I allow myself to relax and let go of all stress.
  2. I let go of all mental confusion / disorder / hurt / disappointment etc.
  3. I allow my mind to relax and be at peace.
  4. Clarity and harmony are within and around me.
  5. All is well and I am well.

Are you curious to find out what your body is telling you through your physical issues and how you can respond to those messages? Do you want to learn how to release emotional charges you feel stuck in or change beliefs behind physical symptoms? Book a session with

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Anything Is Possible at All Times

“…Hello everyone and welcome aboard your 5:15 Lakeshore eastbound train. This is Howard, I’m your customer service ambassador and I’m speaking to you from the accessibility coach 2525, that’s in the middle of this train….. I’d like to thank you for riding with us this evening, and hope you have a pleasant trip……”

“He has a really nice calm voice”, says the young man to the girl sitting next to him on the GO train. “And so clear that you can understand each word.”

“Yes, very calm and reassuring”, she nods. “Makes you feel really relaxed…”

“Do I detect an accent?” asks the young man. “You sound European…”

“Yes”, laughs the girl. “I’m from Germany. I am here for a year as an au-pair.”

“Cool. How do you like Canada so far?”

By the end of the GO train ride, the two young people have exchanged phone numbers. That was in the spring of 2017. In the summer of the same year, Howard is working the Lakeshore Eastbound Line again when a couple holding hands comes into his coach.

“Are you Howard?” asks the guy.

“Yes. I am. How can I help you?”

“We just wanted to let you know that we met because of you.”

“Oh. How is that?”

“When you did your announcement three months ago, we started talking …” explains the young man.

“… about your voice which is so calm and reassuring,” pipes up the girl.

“And now we are dating…”

“We just wanted to meet you and tell you that you were the reason we fell in love…”

 

It is January 2019. Howard is once again riding the Lakeshore Eastbound Line. Two familiar smiling faces show up in his coach. “We heard your voice and had to come see you again…” says the girl. “We have news”, says the guy with a proud grin. “Guess what… we got married!”

This is a true story. Howard is a friend of mine and he just shared this beautiful story with me last week. It certainly is romantic. You never know who you might meet, where and how. It also shows how we are all interconnected and how we affect others simply by how we show up or do our work. Howard’s calm voice and upbeat energy prompted two strangers to start talking, to connect and to end up getting married.

As you go about your life today, remember that anything is possible at all times. We are all connected. A smile, a friendly word, a calm voice, a helpful gesture, or some patience and understanding can make a huge difference in somebody’s life. We might connect with a number of people who might lead us to new opportunities, and we might even meet our future spouse on the go-train. Unbeknownst to us, we are all part of a bigger picture. This Universe is ruled by cause and effect and usually things happen for a reason. Let’s not forget that we are all playing an essential role as we co-create this reality with others, no matter where our day takes us.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

 

Expressing Criticism So It Can Be Heard

I had an interesting talk with a client the other day. He shared: “When I first met my wife, I really appreciated her telling me what impact my behaviour had on her. I learned, for example, how it affected her when I was late and I worked hard to change my time management skills. However, about a year or two into the relationship, I gave up. Somehow I felt I couldn’t change enough and it felt like I was constantly being watched for a misstep. Each time she pointed something out to me that she had noticed about me, it felt like I was being stabbed in the heart.”

Why does criticism so often feel like we are being stabbed in the heart? Why does it make us feel fearful and defensive? Historically, being criticized and found lacking could lead to being ostracised from our tribe, and that could mean death, as we as humans were unable to survive by ourselves.

Even though a part of us knows criticism does not mean rejection and death, the more instinctive parts of our brain kick in and our nervous system goes into high arousal. Relationships require us to communicate honestly and to handle criticism constructively. If we stuff down our feelings and needs, they will either come back up in passive aggressive ways or will be kept down by methods of avoidance like addictions. In the first case, the person can’t help but make little digs, use sarcasm or putdowns, or worst of all, talk negatively about their partner behind their back. The avoidance methods take many different forms: physical symptoms like tension headaches or fatigue, addictions like drinking, gambling, overworking, having affairs, to name a few.

How does one express a complaint in a way that it can be easily heard and does not feel like being stabbed in the heart? The two main rules of constructive criticism are

  1. Tone of Voice

Your partner is more likely to be able to remain open if you use a soft, gentle, respectful and appreciative tone of voice. You are going to be more successful if you can approach him or her with affection, interest in their intent or experience, positive physical touch, smiles and even humour and laughter.

  1. Appreciations Need to Outbalance the Complaints

Gottman emphasizes the Magic Relationship Ratio of 5:1. That means for each complaint or criticism we need to receive five positive or appreciative statements. Other experts speak about similar ratios.

 

How do we ensure that ratio and help our partner remain open and continue to feel safe with us instead of watched? Warren Farrell, author of “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say”, offers two methods of successfully delivering criticism.

The first method is what he calls the “Plan Ahead Method of Giving Criticism”:

Step 1: Write Down Your Complaints

To figure out what the most important concerns are, it helps to write down our complaints on index cards and to put them in a box. The mere act of writing them down releases some of the negative energy. It also frees us from the need to keep reviewing the complaint in our mind. However, most importantly this helps us to sort out which complaints are the ones worth bringing up.

Step 2: Set a Predictable Time Each Week to Share

Gottman recommends a “State of the Union Meeting” every week to talk about what went well and what is not going so well in the relationship. Farrell calls it a “Sharing and Caring Evening”. Once you have set a predictable time each week, stick to it and turn the rest of the week into a “no-complaint zone”.

Step 3: Share at Least 4 Positive Feelings Before Each Complaint

During your meeting share at least four positive feelings with each negative. In order to do that make positive notes throughout the week whenever you appreciate something your partner is doing. An extra incentive is to do the positive notes ahead of time and leave these little notes for your partner as you notice it. That trains our “gratitude muscle” and shifts our focus to noticing the positive.

Step 4: Incorporate Humour and Romance

For your “Sharing and Caring Evening,” turn on music, light candles, face each other, touch and look into each other’s eyes. Share your 4-5 positives and then make one request for improvement or change. Then alternate; let your partner share in kind. Do three to five rounds of this depending on how much you have to share. Because you feel so understood, you might want to make love, but always return to completing the process after love making. Otherwise, the rest of the week as a complaint free zone might disintegrate.

 

It would be ideal, of course, if we could always just give criticism by using this Plan Ahead Method but sometimes a talk has to happen right in the moment. Farrell also provides steps for “The Spontaneous Method of Giving Criticism”:

Step 1: Identify Your Loved One’s Best Intent

Let’s say your partner is late because they got caught up in solving a problem for work. He lost track of time because he wanted to complete and finish a project. You might feel tempted of diving right into your own disappointment about him being late, or you can instead acknowledge his best intent, e.g. “I know that you are really responsible and I can see how you were trying to do your best to complete the task at work.”

Step 2: Identify Your Partner’s Dilemma or Struggle

Most of us are caught in a dilemma and when our partner can empathize with our inner struggle, we feel heard and understood. In our example, you could say, “I imagine you feel caught between wanting to be on time for me and feeling you need to finish and complete the work.”

Step 3: Identify the Feeling Behind Your Partner’s Dilemma

Empathy with our feeling experience also makes us feel seen and appreciated. “It must be stressful to have in the back of your mind that I am waiting for you.”

Step 4: Identify the positive character traits your partner exhibited in her or his handling of this situation

By doing that we show that their underlying character traits are not in question. They do not need to defend their values. “I imagine it is also hard to leave a project unfinished when you value responsibility and reliability as you do. I am always grateful when I can rely on you completing a project for me.”

Step 5: Recall relevant past conversations and use them to make your partner feel more understood

Instead of using past incidents to argue your own point and for ammunition against the other person, empathize even more. The rule for love relationships is, the more arguments we win, the more love we lose. “I remember how torn you were when your colleague left on vacation and you had to finish the project you were both working on over the weekend. He is really lucky you did that.”

After using the five steps, your partner feels understood and appreciated. They are still open and receptive. Instead of having to defend their values and choices, they can take a step towards you to resolve the problem together. Now it is time to gently share the impact the situation has on you and to work out a compromise which works for both of you.

Farrell points out that learning relationship language is the best hope of re-stabilizing our relationships and families which technology has destabilized and affected negatively. When we teach debate skills in schools, we teach listening for the purpose of uncovering the other team’s faulty analysis. In our private one-on-one relationships, especially our intimate relationship, this way of listening and arguing is like a termite is to wood. It slowly erodes the relationship. “Teaching children to debate without teaching children to listen is divorce training” (Warren Farrell).

 

To read more about how to receive criticism,

please read “Getting to the Complaint Underneath the Criticism“.

To learn relationship language and how to handle criticism,

contact me for

individual coaching sessions, couples’ sessions or workshops.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Sleep in Heavenly Peace – A Christmas Story About Ends and New Beginnings

This is the time of the year which is happy for some of us and equally challenging and deeply sad for others. Some look forward to spending time with their families, others dread having to do that. Some wish they were alone, others dread the holidays because they are. Some might not be alone physically but feel so alone in their heart, as they have lost a loved one. Some might rush into a new relationship prematurely just to not feel alone at this time, to which we give so much significance. The holidays and the end of one year and the beginning of a new one seem to be overladen with meaning. Do we ever stop to think about how arbitrary it is?

I have experienced my share of beginnings and endings at this time of the year as well. My first marriage began with a December wedding and another significant relationship ended during a December. I have had an equal measure of joys and griefs at this time. For others, the wounds of Christmases past run so much deeper.

I am honoured to be able to share such a true Christmas story with you, written masterfully as always, by my amazing friend Susan Crossman, who I admire thoroughly for her talent, her vulnerability, her courage and her zest for life. Her holiday message, deeply touching, also says to me, if she can smile and see the potential of each new year clearly, perhaps so can others…

The presents were wrapped, the children were finally in bed and the stuffing was sitting in a bowl in the fridge, ready to be loaded into the turkey the next day. Outside, in the park across the street, the sheet of snow that blanketed the ground was sparkling in the glow of the streetlights. A fire burned steadily in the hearth. Our field-stone fireplace was 6-metres wide, and one of the many reasons we had fallen for this gorgeous house in Beaconsfield, Que. We had been so full of joy when we had moved in. We had been full of hope.

After more than 13 years together, my husband and I had also been full of love for each other and the wonderful family we had cobbled together out of the ashes of our previous marriages. Two new babies had been born, and they were young, and sweet and hoping Santa would drop by in the night. They had fallen asleep straining to hear the sounds of reindeer hooves on the roof. Wait – weren’t those sleigh bells they had just heard?! We had answered that question countless times before our kids had finally drifted off into Dreamland.

A decade ago, coloured lights danced around the living room that Christmas Eve and the tree stood in a corner, resplendent in its thick coat of coloured balls and lights, shimmery strands of tinsel and home-made decorations, lovingly crafted.

But I wasn’t feeling at all merry. In mid-December, my husband and I had been informed that he had fourth-stage stomach cancer and he was going to die…

TO CONTINUE READING please click on the The Globe and Mail Article

“For me, Christmas is both an ending and a beginning” 

Wishing you and your families a

HAPPY & SAFE HOLIDAY!

 

 

 

Can I Come in with My New Girlfriend?

Listen to the blog article as an extended version on my podcast, or read it below!

A long-term client of mine, a smart and warm man, who I have coached through different personal and professional challenges and previous relationship struggles, just came in with his new girlfriend of one month. I was thrilled—and so was his girlfriend. There is a man who is aware of the importance of working on himself and on a relationship from the very start. Both, he and his partner, have had—like all of us above a certain age—previous experiences of how we can get hurt in relationships. They both recognize the importance of getting to know each other well and of navigating potential pitfalls with awareness.

Most of my clients come in when there is a crisis and when they have already been struggling for a while. What if we didn’t wait until the path we are travelling on has so many potholes that our relationship car is in acute danger of breaking down on this road, but if we committed from the start to doing regular maintenance?

Different religious affiliations offer premarital counselling or marriage classes prior to making the commitment. Some of those sessions might be more helpful than others but the intention is to get to know each other better. Counselling offered by a church might not be a consideration for all couples, depending on one’s spirituality or lack there of.

Premarital coaching, or simply relationship coaching from the start of a relationship, is an alternative, independent of your religious affiliation. It helps both partners to learn to communicate about challenging topics and to learn to hold each other in those vulnerable moments we all experience. Coaching allows us to become aware of patterns and to release them. Relationship sessions enhance any relationship and help us to be able to be our best self in our long-term relationship or marriage.

You might wonder what there can possibly be at the beginning of the relationship, when we are in the honeymoon stage and everything looks rosy and hopeful. There actually are a lot of topics to explore.

What kind of questions might we ask in a relationship coaching session at the start of a relationship?

  1. Let’s talk about values. What are my top values in life, what are my partner’s?
  2. Let’s become aware of our subconscious. What beliefs and fears have I learned based on my family history and my past relationship history?
  3. Let’s talk about expressing affection. What is my primary love language, what my partner’s?

  1. How do I tend to handle conflict, and how about my partner?
  2. Do I know what my emotional triggers are and can I share them with my partner?
  3. Let’s talk about mutual support. What emotional support do we both hope to get from each other? What practical or financial support?
  4. What does it mean to each of us to commit to a relationship?
  5. What did our own parents model for us concerning love and a long-term relationship or marriage?
  6. What attracted me to my partner and who do I believe my partner will help me to be?
  7. Let’s talk about goals. What personal and professional goals do we both hope to achieve and how do we see the partner’s role in that?
  8. How are we planning to create a life-work balance?
  9. What is a comfortable balance for spending time with my partner and with other people?
  10. Let’s talk about needs. What are my top ten needs, what are my partner’s? How comfortable am I expressing my needs?
  11. Who will take on what responsibilities at home?
  12. Let’s talk about money. How do we feel about differences in financial income, joint accounts, debt, keeping a budget, having spending money, paying bills, completing income tax, financially supporting parents or previous children, and so on.
  13. Let’s talk about our families and the in-laws. What boundaries with regard to family interactions do we both need? How do we show up as a team with third parties?
  14. Let’s talk about future or current common children and/or step-children and about parenting. Where do we have overlapping ideas where do we differ? How are we going to handle differences?
  15. Let’s talk about intimacy and sex. Do we need to learn to talk about this sensitive topic? What are our hopes and expectations?
  16. Let’s talk about spirituality. What are our beliefs and practices? Where are there differences and can we be tolerant of each other’s differences?
  17. Let’s talk about monogamy and affairs. How do we both feel about one of us slipping up? Can we both commit to talking to our partner when we experience an attraction to somebody else, in order to strengthen the bond between us and to avoid sliding across the line with an outsider? Can we also commit to not talking to a person who is not a “friend of the marriage”, about our relationship problems because this builds a bond outside of our relationship? (For more information and to learn more about what this means, check out my blog series “Affairs”.)

 

Contact me for individual coaching sessions,

couples’ sessions or workshops.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog or listening to my podcast. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

 

Courageous Love

TALK DESCRIPTION:

Every message we get growing up has conditioned us to believe that finding “the One” will be the answer to our inner pain, our loneliness, sadness, fears or insecurities. The truth is that our partner can no more relieve our sense of unloveability and unworthiness than food, alcohol, drugs or other addictive activities we engage in to distract ourselves from our emotional pain, can.

The missing piece we have not been taught is how to parent ourselves in a way that allows us to take care of our own inner vulnerability and to show up as our best self with our partner.

When both partners do the inner work, couples replace their distant, controlling, or needy way of relating to each other with what Richard Schwartz, the founder of IFS, calls “courageous love”.

How do we love courageously? How do we become accepting of everything we are and all our partner is?

Click the link below to listen to my 15 minute long Costa Rica talk

“Courageous Love”.

This talk is available on the PDA or on YouTube

 

WHAT IS THE PDA?

The PDA is the largest personal development content app among i-phone and android apps. A growing number of experts and transformational leaders are currently joining this app platform. You can watch their videos, read their articles, receive free offers and engage with them in many different ways.
I am honoured to be one of the coaches offering you lots of interesting content in video, audio and written form beyond this website. And the best thing is this app is 100% FREE!

 

Contact me for individual coaching sessions,

couples’ sessions or workshops.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

 

Advice from a Sloth (Costa Rica 4)

Five weeks ago today, I returned from Costa Rica. This amazing business trip was an experience which needed to be digested and the learning and wisdom needed to be integrated into my life in many different ways.

Coming back to the cold climate and a much more hectic lifestyle was one adjustment. Over the last five weeks, I often thought of the sloth which we met along the side of the road and who took a long long loooong time to make its way down to the ground from the top of a tree.

The encounter with this charming mammal made me want to hold my breath in awe. It truly felt like two different worlds colliding. This mesmerizing animal seemed to move in slow motion. We as humans, on the other hand, rush around so much that we often forget how to take it slow.

I have been contemplating what advice a sloth would give us—if it ever cared enough to impart its wisdom.

1.You’ll get there when you get there

December is the time of the year when we seem to review the old year and assess our satisfaction level with how far we have come. It can be useful to focus on our “wins” and accomplishments. It motivates us to strive for the next goal. At the same time, we often forget how arbitrary certain goals or time limits that we have imposed on ourselves are. If looking back and evaluating your successes is making you feel that you have missed a mark or that you are not where you wanted to be “at this age” or at this point in your life, remember that you’ll get there when you get there. Life is not a race after all, even though it might appear that way at times.

2. Relax and Enjoy the View

We are often in such a rush to get somewhere, to grow up, to finish school, to get the dream job or to build a business, to get through traffic to work every day, to fall in love, to get married, to buy a house, to have children, to get the children through different hurdles like school or university, to get them settled and so on.

One day, we might realize that we have focused way too much on completing each goal instead of on enjoying the journey itself. What if we adopted more of the “Relax and Enjoy the View” philosophy? What if we developed a sloth’s eye perspective from high above in the crown of a tree and remembered that there are different vantage points, and that life is about finding joy in each moment?

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3. Get a good grip and hang on tight

When the tropical rainstorms of life come down, the sloth would probably tell us to just hang on and wait for the sun to come out again. There is great value in strength, trust and resilience.

Life changes inevitably happen. Someone we love dies, we lose a job, we can’t have children when we try, we move one too many times, we finally have children, our spouse breaks our trust, we get a divorce, our teenager gets mixed up with the wrong crowd, our elderly parents need us, someone else dies… Any of this or more might happen. All we can do as life throws us a curve ball is to trust that we have the strength to hang on, and when the storm is over, we will utilize all possible resources to pick up the pieces. Some branches will have broken off in the storm and we need to find new ways of getting from one tree to the next.

4. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is highly underrated in our culture. If we don’t get a reasonable number of hours of deep and restful sleep, usually 7-8, depending on the individual, we are affected in several ways. We might put on extra weight, tend to feel more depressed and have an increased risk for inflammation in our body, diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. We need adequate sleep for a balanced hormone level, for maximum brain function, to problem solve and to have positive social and emotional interactions with others. Sleep helps to heal inflammation, balances our hormones and metabolism and lifts our mood.

5. Remember to Hang Out with Your Kind

Considering how precious time is and how fast it passes, can we make time to just hang out with our friends and family, especially our children or grandchildren, and be truly present with them? The past is over and the future hasn’t been written yet. What would it be like if we brought the energy back in that is flowing into ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, and just allowed ourselves to be here right now, in this moment in time?

 

Does that sound tempting? If you are in need of a bit of a sloth experience, here is a short meditation to help you to pause, to slow down and to just be present.

 

If you enjoyed this meditation you might want to check out other short meditations here.

Contact me for individual coaching sessions, couples’ sessions or workshops.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Relationships Are Like Bicycles

“We’ve started taking each other for granted”, says my client ruefully. “We used to talk for hours, now we turn the TV on, fall asleep on the sofa and go to bed when we wake up. I used to shave even on the weekends, bring my wife flowers and look forward to the next weekend get-away with her. Now I wear sweatpants when we are alone, and we go on vacation with friends or family to avoid being bored with each other. What happened to us?”

Is this client alone with his experience? Far from it. Relationships are living, growing entities that change. Relationships want to be not just created but taken care of along the way. In fact, relationships are like bicycles in more than one way.

When you have a shiny new bike, the model you have longed for before you were able to buy it—or a shiny new car for those of you who are not bike lovers—you treat it with great care and attention. You make sure the tires are always full of air, it is clean and dry and doesn’t start to rust, you might buy new accessories for it, which make riding the bike more enjoyable, and you always lock it up securely when you leave it somewhere. Over time, the bike becomes older, less important, you get used to having it. And when spring arrives and you remember that it is sitting in the back of the garage, you realize that it has collected dust, has lost the air in the tires and the water bottle holder has broken off. It requires attention and maintenance. Part of you wants a new bike, but you do not throw this beloved old one out unless it is absolutely beyond repair.

Relationships are also like tandem bikes because when you fall off, you get back on. You don’t let your partner pedal alone for the rest of the ride, sulking how hard this riding a bike thing is, and you don’t leave the bike by the roadside for somebody else to find. You might vocally make your displeasure heard, but you grab the darn thing by the handle bars and you hop back on, to realize round the next corner that you do still enjoy the wind blowing in your face and the trees whizzing.  You gratefully ride into the sunset together, balancing along on this bike which you had so many adventures with already.

Is it time to pay more attention to your marriage or primary relationship again? Don’t just make New Year’s resolutions but follow through and book a session now.

NEW YEARS SPECIAL

Between December 15 and January 15 get 15% off your first couples’ session.

Contact me for individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you reading my blog. If you are enjoying my articles, you can subscribe to receive an e-mail notification whenever I post a new blog. All you need to do is to enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!