Doing the Best That We Can

As we had into another week of social distancing measures, I wonder if any of this sounds familiar to you?

“I am so tired of hearing how this COVID-19 situation is a blessing. I am spiritual but I swear I will kill the next person who tells me that I should be thankful that we are all healthy and that it gives me more time with my husband and kids! I feel constantly anxious and overwhelmed, trying to juggle work and the kids. My work hours and my pay has been cut, but I am supposed to be grateful that I still have a job. I might get fired any day! I can’t sleep at night and during the day I walk around in a mental fog. I have lost it several times with my kids and husband. I am a horrible mother and wife! And the house constantly looks like a bomb exploded. I’ve put on 15 pounds because I don’t get to exercise much, and eating is my only excuse to stop and take a break. All I wanted for Mother’s Day was a break and to forget about this nightmare. My husband did not even manage to get some flowers or make a card with the kids. I know he is tired and overwhelmed, too, but I just wanted one day of being appreciated. I got in my car and just left them. I drove to the lake to just sit there by myself. I feel horrible for not having my shit together!”

This client of mine echoes what so many are experiencing. During the first three weeks of social distancing and isolation in our homes, we might have still coped quite well, but now we’ve started to realize that this is not a sprint, but rather a marathon to get through. We can certainly say that the entire world has been affected and changed forever, and in some ways, it helps that we are all supposedly in the same boat. Whether we still have a job or not is not due to individual failure, but often luck. There are—at least in Canada—emergency rescue benefits by the government that provide some relief. Yet, despite supposedly being it the same boat, we have to be aware of comparisons and giving advice to others, because the effects of the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic are quite different for each individual person.

For some of us, it has locked us in with family members that we never had to spend so much time with before. Having young children is especially challenging right now. We have limited privacy and outside activities, and it naturally brings out the issues and magnifies the triggers in all our relationships. As a relationship coach, I would be the first one to tell you that this is an opportunity to work through issues, but that is not always easy or possible. I have seen positive stories of couples taking this time to work through their issues and teenagers opening up and interacting with their parents, but there are as many people who are stuck with a partner not wanting to do the work or a teenager not ready to connect. Being locked in together also does not allow us to escape the anxiety or depression our partner or family member might be experiencing. That can be quite draining. It leaves us helpless and discouraged.

For others, this situation has brought the experience of too much space because they live alone and are going through intense loneliness and grief for their situation as a single person or widow(er). For others yet, it has brought a tragic loss, for example by not being able to be present when a loved one passed away.

Our experiences range from simple inconveniences to financial loss to relationship challenges to personal tragedies. The situation has allowed some of us to experience a much-needed reprieve from a life that was too busy before, for others it has become a desperate attempt to keep everything normal and to adapt to never expected circumstances.

Accordingly, our feelings range from finding relief or inspiration in this unusual situation to feeling depressed and anxious. Even though we are all in a storm on the sea, we are not really in the same boat. Some of us are in little canoes, others in little motorboats with only so much fuel on board and others, in big solid yachts. We must not make the mistake of comparing our experience with the experience of someone in a different boat.

One of the most common denominators seem to be that these tough times bring out the Inner Critic voice in many of us. This is that nagging voice inside, which is trying to protect us by letting us know in which ways we are “faulty” or not doing enough. No matter how well we are doing, the Inner Critic will find something that apparently needs to be improved. And the Inner Critic loves situations of adversity, for example when we get a bad grade, fail to reach a goal, gain some weight, lose a relationship, when others seem to be doing better, or simply when we are tired, exhausted or feeling vulnerable. And, oh boy, does it love the present situation with all the unpredictability and changes!

In a phone conversation with a good friend and fellow practitioner a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned that he has been noticing that the Inner Critic seems to be coming up in all his sessions right now. That is exactly what I have observed for my client sessions and—as I just fully realized—for myself as well.

Over the last two months, I have been going through a whole variety of emotions myself. I have felt worry and fear for my own situation as well as for my children; I have felt annoyed and angry at family members who seem to be better off due to having a stable job and paid-off mortgage and who—meaning well—kept sending photos of joyfully working in their garden; I have felt exhausted and resigned just getting through another day; and I have, of course, also found amazing gifts and opportunities in this situation and had many days where I felt positive and inspired. But in order to see those gifts and appreciate them, I had to be my own coach and talk myself through releasing stuck emotions and shifting my perspective. Some days I was doing my best to go with the flow while breathing through and meditating on the more vulnerable emotions which the unknown always triggers for us. Other days I did not do so well and would not have gotten out of bed if I didn’t have to, thanks to my side job forcing me to get up at 5:00 a.m. most mornings.

Over the last two months, I have shifted all my coaching sessions to Zoom and I have had lovely sessions with individuals and couples, but many of my clients have lost their jobs and have been postponing sessions. Instead of coaching, I found myself getting busy with German lessons. At the beginning, I was looking to fill my time by accepting many more lessons than I usually do at the online school I work for on the side, but after a few weeks, I also had private students reaching out wanting more classes now that they’re stuck at home. Suddenly, I was totally booked up with teaching German classes and coming up with new grammar exercises for my German website in any free moment.

Now, you would think that my Inner Critic would be happy with this. Yet even though that inner voice was acknowledging that I was productive and earning money, it was also finding fault with all of this. I found myself thinking, “I am not putting enough time and energy towards my coaching business”, “I should write another blog, record another meditation etc. to support my clients better”, “I should reach out more to individual clients to see how they are doing at this time”, “I should network more with my colleagues” and even “I should have time to clean the house and declutter, what is wrong with me that I don’t?”

From some of my friends and clients, I have heard over the last few weeks that they are using this time to organize the cupboards, declutter, paint or renovate the house or work in the garden. And, as we know, the Inner Critic loves comparisons with others, never in our favour of course.

Over a week ago, I was on a break from teaching online classes and enjoying the sun outside. At one point, as I glanced over at our neighbour’s backyard, I couldn’t help commenting on how impressed I was by all the work they were putting into their garden and saying I should do the same. Our neighbour made a simple but wise comment. “We all do what we can at this time”. I realized how the Inner Critic voice has not just been plaguing my clients but also apparently myself, nagging about using this “break” to get things done.

So here is my new mantra for this week, or how about this entire month, whenever the Inner Critic voice pipes up: “I do my best” (on the inhale) “and my best is always good enough” (on the exhale).

 

Online Sessions 

Please click on the link and read these testimonials

from individuals and couples about their recent zoom sessions with me.

If you are still unsure afterwards, you can start with a

free phone consultation.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The COVID-19 Situation Challenges Our Beliefs, Emotions and Relationships. How PSYCH-K® and Other Tools Can Help.

The COVID-19 situation has disrupted our daily routines, affected our finances and is challenging our relationships. The crisis has changed everything we used to consider “normal”. We are grieving losses, experiencing anxiety, navigating often tumultuous emotions and bumping up against limiting beliefs. As we experience the uncertainty of unemployment and potential illness, we might be reaching for our partner, hoping for comfort and support. Yet, most couples have never learned how to communicate vulnerable emotions and hold each other in fear. To have a stress-reducing conversation, rather than taking on our partner’s fear and stress, has become a more valuable skill than ever before.

This exceptional situation is an opportunity to work on our fears, learn how to release our emotions and improve our relationships, especially our closest partnerships or marriages. Our old ways of being are currently being torn down and it is time to ask, what do we want to believe and feel as we are going through this period? What do we want our life and our relationships to look like? And which habits, beliefs and repeating patterns do we want to change?

We get to make that decision and work towards our relationship dreams and life goals. Instead of waiting for the crisis to be over, we can choose kindness, patience, compassion and successful communication now. At a time when many couples are home together working in close quarters, it is important to create a routine, maintain boundaries, design compromises, learn how to respect each other’s needs, respond lovingly to bids of attention and most importantly, have supportive conversations. Dr. John Gottman has designed the “stress reducing conversation”, in which both partners take turns speaking about a conflict outside of their relationship and listening to their partner. I find that it makes a huge difference when we can centre ourselves and speak and listen from the heart. When one of us is emotionally activated, it is up to our partner to hold that space of compassionately listening. While one partner shares what has happened and how they feel about it, the rules for the listener are as follows:

  1. to suspend any judgment
  2. to validate and empathize with our partner’s experience
  3. to side with our partner (or at least, to not side with the other person in the conflict)
  4. to remember that our partner is whole, complete and resourceful and to refrain from “fixing” their problem for them

Image by Anna_Sunny from Pixabay 

In order to successfully hold these conversations, we need to be aware of our own fears, triggers and limiting beliefs. We need to know how to self-regulate and how to not let our own emotions spill over into the moment when our partner needs us to support them.

Here are some examples for the most common subconscious beliefs that both my clients and myself have had to balance lately by using PSYCH-K® or the belief change process from Shadow Energetics.

 

REGARDING THE (FINANCIAL) SITUATION:

  1. Even though (financial) uncertainty is a part of my life right now, I know and trust that I am safe / taken care of / financially resourceful etc. at all times.
  2. I relax and accept when things are temporarily on hold, being grateful that I now have the time to take care of myself.
  3. It is okay for me to slow down and enjoy my time with my family.
  4. I embrace the current situation as a gift to slow down / to focus on my relationships / to find new financial avenues etc.
  5. I let go and trust that all my needs are abundantly met in this current situation.
  6. I do my best and my best is always good enough.

 

REGARDING HEALTH:

  1. I take good care of myself by giving my body enough sleep, physical movement and healthy nutrition.
  2. I keep my immune system strong through rest and exercise.
  3. I do everything in my power to stay healthy and beyond that, I let go and trust.
  4. I enjoy the slowing down and I relax into a different rhythm.

 

Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay

REGARDING RELATIONSHIPS:

  1. I easily and effortlessly communicate my needs to my partner.
  2. Both of us working from home is smooth and easy for us.
  3. We naturally switch between being connected and focusing on work.
  4. Each time my partner is distracted, I remember that he/she is simply focused on work.
  5. We make time for each other (and the children) at the end of the day to connect and talk.
  6. It is safe for me to be vulnerable and share my fears with my partner.
  7. I am good at self-soothing when I feel emotionally activated.
  8. It comes naturally to me to be present for my partner.
  9. I listen non-judgmentally and acknowledge my partner’s feelings and fears.
  10. We creatively bring some novelty into our relationship by trying out new activities we can do at home.

 

REGARDING FAMILY:

  1. Having time with my kids and my spouse is a gift for all of us.
  2. We are adaptable and creative as we adjust to the new situation.
  3. I embrace the new situation and enjoy every moment with my partner / my family.
  4. I am patient with myself and all family members as we go through this time of uncertainty.

 

If you have taken part in one of my workshops or perhaps learned how to release emotions in an individual session, remember to use the EMOTIONAL RELEASE PROCESS on a regular basis. Here is a list of especially common emotions that the current situation might have triggered for us. You can of course also work with other lists of emotions, for example the one you would have received during the Shadow Energetics Workshop. If you want to learn what to do with your emotions, change limiting beliefs and clear out fears, please reach out for a free phone consultation.

 

TRIGGERED EMOTIONS:

Feeling…

 

1.    afraid

2.    angry

3.    anxious

4.    bitter

5.    confused

6.    defeated

7.    defenseless

8.    depressed

9.    deprived

10. desperate

11. destitute

12. diminished

13. disadvantaged

14. discouraged

15. distressed

16. fearful

 

 

17. forgotten

18. frustrated

19. grief

20. helpless

21. homesick

22. inadequate

23. insecure

24. isolated

25. lacking

26. like a failure

27. lonely

28. lost

29. out of control

30. overwhelmed

31. panicked

32. pessimistic

 

33. powerless

34. regretful

35. sad

36. shameful

37. shocked

38. sorrow

39. suffocated

40. terrified

41. uncertain

42. unprotected

43. unsafe

44. unsupported

45. victimized

46. vulnerable

47. worried

48. worthless

 

Online Sessions

for Individuals and Couples

If you have lost your job or you are financially struggling because you are self-employed, reach out and talk to me about a discount, especially if you are a previous client. I am here to help you and your family through this time.

If you are a health care worker or first responder, your session is complimentary right now, out of admiration and deep gratitude for what you are going through right now.

 

You can start with a free phone consultation.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Online Sessions During COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 crisis has brought us lots of fear and challenges all over the world. It has brought anxiety, pain and stress. It has shaken us up to rethink our healthcare systems, our ways of doing business, our society, and the impact our way of living has on our environment.

Because this time is shaking us up, it also brings us new opportunities. What comes to mind is the gift of more time that we are being gifted right now. Instead of running from one scheduled event to the next or commuting for hours every day, we have extra time now to connect with our families. We have time to relax and perhaps reflect and consider our habits and our schedule that is usually so full. This is an opportunity to experience a slowing down. It is also an opportunity to reflect about a better future with more sustainability, simpler and healthier food, more kindness, compassion, and caring and overall less stress. We are making changes to our lives right now, some of which might be beneficial to keep once the crisis is over.

The shut-down of large parts of our economy and of tourism all over the world is rough on all the affected industries and people working in these areas. At the same time, we are observing a significant reduction in greenhouse gasses and other pollution of our air, our land and our waters. Images from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), as well as satellite footage from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), show for example a significant decline in NO₂ emissions over the last two months, particularly over Italy and China. Perhaps this makes us contemplate keeping some of these ways of polluting less also after the crisis is over, to save our environment. COVID-19 brings us together on a global level. We are all affected, and we are all part of the solution. It is an opportunity to reconsider our societies and reorganize our way of doing things globally to have less of a detrimental impact on our planet.

One great opportunity the current restrictions and the practice of social distancing brings is to connect virtually in meetings, classrooms and individual sessions. How can we turn this time of challenges into a time of opportunities by connecting online? What if most of us could save all the time commuting and work from home? What if schools discovered new ways of teaching? What if my favourite therapist or coach is just a click away without me sitting in traffic to get to a session?

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

 

Like most coaches, I have shifted all my appointments to online sessions. I have always worked with clients who live further away by connecting through Skype or Zoom. In the past I already addressed the question, Can PSYCH-K® be done via Skype, Zoom or on the phone? Now I am also offering online session to you, if you live close by.

I have been teaching via the platform Zoom daily throughout the last few weeks and I am positively surprised how stable it is despite the increased number of people using it for meetings. But what is “Zoom”, you might ask, and how would you and I use it?

 

What is Zoom and How Does It Work?

Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool that allows you and me to meet online, with or without video, very similar to connecting on Skype. Zoom offers a good quality video, audio and a wireless screen-sharing option, if I have a document to share with you. We can see each other and hear each other well. I can guide you through belief change processes using PSYCH-K® or Shadow Energetics, releasing emotions, an IFS process, a meditation, relaxation or even a hypnosis session. If you are used to me muscle testing you in person, you also know that I can simply stand-in for you and do the energy testing on my end.

 

Is it safe?

You get your own private login username and password for each session, which I will e-mail or text you. Zoom offers end-to-end secure encryption (using Advanced Encryption Standard AES-256) for video sessions. This helps ensure that the video session cannot be eavesdropped on or tampered with. In other words, only the host (myself) and the invited participant (yourself) has access to the video session. As an additional precaution, I have enabled the Zoom “Waiting Room” feature which means an attendee cannot join the video session unless the host (myself) admits them individually from the ‘waiting room’.

I also give you my assurance that no sessions with clients will be recorded. As a further assurance, you can verify this yourself because there would be a clear notification at the top left corner of the Zoom “window” if the Zoom video session was being recorded.

 

How Do I Get on Zoom?

  1. Go to zoom.us
  2. Click the “Join a Meeting” tab. You can find the tab on the top right corner of the homepage.
  3. When prompted, add your designated Meeting ID, which I will e-mail you prior to the session.
  4. We are connected at the agreed upon time!

 

 

Is a Zoom Session as good as an in-person Session?

I will let some of my clients answer this question by sharing their testimonials.

CLIENT REVIEWS:

Dave:

My name is Dave, and I’ve been working with Angelika for almost two years now. My sessions began with her at a very low point in my life. Angelika’s belief change coaching and emotional release counselling has literally transformed my life on both a personal and professional level. My work with Angelika has enabled me to heal from some devastating personal and family losses and, more recently, to successfully navigate a complete career change in mid-life!

On occasion, due to inclement weather, I’ve done remote video sessions with Angelika using my laptop. Admittedly, I was skeptical beforehand as to the benefit of an online session. However, I was amazed how adept Angelika was in adapting her belief change and emotional release exercises to an online setting so effectively.

So when Angelika suggested using Zoom video technology for our future sessions due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, I agreed without hesitation. Despite the sacrifices and inconveniences we are all currently undergoing, I feel very grateful for this video technology option that will allow me to continue my invaluable life coaching sessions with Angelika in the comfort of my own home.

– David W

 

Julia:

Work with Angelika has been a game changer in realizing my professional and personal potential for several years now. Having moved to Europe to continue with my MBA degree, I was determined not to lose this important tool in my development.

At first, I wondered if online sessions via zoom would have the same comfortable and enabling energy as the setting at Angelika’s?! But then I though to myself: “We will make it work. After all, technology has enabled so many advancements in our society.”. If patients can move their medical check-ups to telehealth format, then surely Greendoor Relaxation can follow in these footsteps.

My first Zoom session with Angelika was well set-up and seamless. In a matter of 15 minutes, I could not even tell the difference.

I quickly realized that this format also had advantages. First, I did not have to spend extra time commuting. Second, I was able to talk out of the comfort of my couch. Third, Angelika stepped in to muscle test whenever needed. All I had to do was relax and watch her do her “magic”. And that was great! I trusted that she is more experienced and attuned in receiving guidance for our sessions.

My personal call to action for all those who are wondering if Zoom session is the right format for Greendoor Relaxation: Give it a try! We are fortunate to have this choice.

– Julia T.

 

Tobias:

My wife and I have been seeing Angelika for marriage counselling for 9 months now. We usually purchase one of her packages and see her every 2-3 weeks. She has taught us to communicate differently, to be a team and to get through a challenging time with one of our kids. It has been very fortunate for us that Angelika also speaks German, so that my wife and I can speak in our mother tongue with each other during the sessions. Despite COVID-19 we wanted to continue our sessions. We are very satisfied with our first online appointment. Angelika was able to guide us and help us with an issue we were struggling to solve on our own. It was not much different from our usual sessions in her office. While the coronavirus pandemic continues, we will see Angelika via Zoom.

– Tobias M.

 

 

from April 1 to April 14

11/2 – 2 hour online sessions

for individuals and couples

20% off

If you have lost your job or you are financially struggling because you are self-employed, reach out and talk to me, especially if you are a previous client.

I am here to help you and your family through this time.

If you are in existing client, I am offering the option of shorter booster sessions in lieu of your regular two hour session during the months of April and May.

For health care workers or first responders, a session is complimentary right now.

 

Reach out for a free phone consultation.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Invested in Your Relationship

As a relationship coach, I hear different people’s theories about love and relationships. I hear what I know to be myths. However, sometimes they are rather explanations which we have adopted to make sense of the fact that a marriage or long-term relationship ended, or as we tend to look at it, “failed”.

One of my clients in his late fifties said the other day, ”I was married for 13 years in my twenties and early thirties, I have had three other long-term relationships since then, which all lasted between 4-8 years, but I don’t see how I could have continued any of these relationships beyond that time. Do you believe a relationship has a shelf life?”

What he experienced is quite typical. Statistics Canada describes in their 2008 report that an average marriage last 13.7 years. Second and third marriages end even earlier. And that statistic does not include long-term relationships.

But to answer my client’s question, I do not believe that a relationship has an expiration date, per se. I do believe that relationships change and go through different stages. I also know for a fact, that we are very ill-equipped to make the transition to the next phase and to handle relationship challenges in general.

Nobody ever teaches us how to “do relationships”. My wish for future generations is to have the school subject “Living Successful Relationships”. That subject would need to include how to connect to our own feelings and protective responses, how to self-soothe, how to truly listen and communicate from a vulnerable place, how to solve conflicts, make compromises and create win-win situations. This school subject could help us in our intimate love relationships and in all our professional relationships. It would allow us to create a different society in which everybody is capable of connecting. I even believe that by teaching non-violent communication and other relationship skills, we could prevent wars and save the future of this planet.

So why do relationships end? A friend sent me this quote by relationship coach Mark Groves the other day which summarizes it perfectly:

What does it mean to outgrow a relationship? It often means that two people have grown away from each other, instead of having been able to stay connected. I used to say that this is what happened with the father of my daughters. However, it is just as true that in my thirties, I did not have the skills necessary to navigate this relationship and steer it back on course.

Another aspect of relationships deteriorating which the quote highlights is our level of investment. The moment one or even both partners are not invested in the relationship anymore, or maybe never were all that invested in the first place, the relationship has received its death sentence. One person alone cannot keep a relationship going. When it feels like you are dragging a partner along who is not willing to devote the necessary time and work into the relationship anymore, you have no other choice but to accept that. Both people need to be invested in the relationship.

One important investment you can make into your long-term relationship or marriage is to see a counselor or coach. You can learn the skills you need to navigate the changes every relationship undergoes. If you are longing to connect with your partner and steer your relationship boat through a tough time, reach out for a free phone consultation.

Also check out my packages for couples.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

10 Relationship Myths We Are Conditioned to Believe

I just re-read the book “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley because my niece in Germany had an English exam on that topic and I had volunteered to help her prepare for it. This novel, published in 1932, is a dystopia in which a world government completely controls all citizens from the moment of their conception in a test tube to the moment they die alone and drugged up. There are no mothers, fathers or spouses, and emotional ties of all kinds are frowned upon. The methods used to control the population are “genetic engineering”, “sleep conditioning” and the happiness drug “soma”, which turns the workers of different casts into willing laborers for a consume oriented society.

One of the questions which came up in the discussion with my 17-year-old niece was what signs of social conditioning she sees in our society today, especially regarding our relationships. We spoke about different ways of conditioning through our society, parents, peer groups, the education system, the media, popular culture, religion and so on.  Once I named a few examples, she realized that no social group, no matter how liberal, democratic or tolerant, exists without training individuals to think and respond in a manner generally approved by the respective society.

In contrast to Huxley’s dystopia, we have the freedom to examine and question our conditioning, and we have the freedom to change those learned beliefs, and conditioned emotional responses and desires, if we so choose. However, analyzing and changing our conditioning is not always easy. We have been programmed to believe and hence feel that we are a failure if we don’t look a certain way, make X amount of money, have what is called a “successful career”, and are not in the societally expected relationships at a certain age. That idea of being a failure can literally paralyze us and keep us stuck in the social conditioning that is to blame for the feeling of not being “good enough” to begin with.

Anne is depressed because she has been struggling with her weight all her life. Martin is beating himself up because he has been out of a job for the past year and he wishes he had made other professional choices when he was younger. Laura is 30 and feels like a failure because all her friends are married. Peter is angry because he works long hours but still cannot afford the lifestyle his brothers have. Marie is a 38-year-old midwife who has been struggling to conceive for the past six years. Frank is a 68-year-old widower and is convinced he won’t be able to find a new partner. Lisa is 59 and ashamed to be alone since her husband of 25 years has left her for a younger woman. And this list goes on and on. There is an incredible amount of suffering in our society when we don’t manage to meet the norms we have been conditioned to meet.

In fact, our Inner Critic voice can always find something to criticize because it is literally impossible to meet the societal standards for success in every single way. The conditioning of how we should think, feel, act and what goals or relationship markers we should have reached at arbitrary points in our life has a strong hold on us. As a belief-change and relationship coach, I come across limiting beliefs every day. Today I want to highlight a few about love and committed relationships.

In “Brave New World”, committed relationships or marriages do not exist, instead “everyone belongs to everyone else”. Family, monogamy, and romantic notions are highly discouraged and regarded as a crime against the state. Promiscuity is in this future world the only way to interact with the members of your own caste. Citizens are given the happiness drug soma to relieve their depression about being lonely or insecure.

It is so obvious how the citizens of Huxley’s dystopia are manipulated and conditioned about love and relationships. Yet, what beliefs have we learned about love and relationships?

Here are ten of the top myths:

  1. Love is all you need to make a relationship last

Long-term relationships go through different stages. What is essential at every stage is to adapt and work with what life brings us. We start out with the honeymoon phase, but that is not supposed to last. It is just supposed to bring us together. Instead, love ideally matures more and more with each new phase. A book that describes this with beautiful metaphors is Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea”.

  1. Good relationships don’t require work

Absolutely all relationships require ongoing attention, successful communication and the willingness to work through issues together. Or as Carroll Bryant says: “Love is a two-way street constantly under construction.”

  1. If my partner really loved me…

Those beliefs that start with “If my partner really loved me…” are another trap we fall into, e.g. If they really loved me, they would know what I feel/want/need. Our partner is not a mind reader. For a successful relationship, we need to learn to express our feelings and needs.

  1. He/she will change if I just keep trying to change them

It is completely impossible to change your partner! You only end up in a tug of war. In fact, focusing on how the other person should change keeps you stuck in your problems. Instead, a successful relationship is all about the question “How can I change? What is going to be required of ME to create a better relationship?”

  1. Couples in good relationships don’t argue

Many people still believe that conflicts in a relationship are a bad sign. Relationship scientist and expert John Gottman has proven that arguments are not the problem, but that how couples argue can destabilize a relationship. We want to practice how to deliver and receive criticism successfully and learn how to argue with less defensiveness and without stonewalling or showing contempt for our partner.

  1. Couples should have sex x-number of times per week/month

You should not compare yourself to other couples. Whatever amount of sex you both are comfortable having is exactly the right amount. Getting too stuck on average numbers when it comes to having sex, distracts from the actual problems which might be behind changes in the sexual desire. The desire to be intimate is about making time to connect and be vulnerable with each other. If a couple has a huge discrepancy between how often each partner wants sex, that is an issue to work through with a coach or therapist.

  1. True love is all about passion

I have seen people leave a perfectly good marriage because they felt it was lacking the passion. Often that meant that they have exchanged one stale relationship with one that is exciting but filled with drama and jealousy. Love can be both, passionate and safe. A solid relationship has achieved the right balance for a couple and their individual needs for passion.

  1. If we are struggling in our relationship it means we made a wrong choice and are just not destined to be together

Every couple goes through ups and downs. Every relationship is a constant dance between closeness and distance that we need to navigate. A belief like “every relationship has a shelf-life and ours must be over” gets in the way of putting in the work which every relationship requires.

  1. Talking about my past wounds will only make them worse

You cannot change your past, but you can change how you feel about it and heal your childhood wounds in your grown-up relationship. Speaking about your vulnerabilities and wounds with your partner is one answer to healing them. Ideally, the purpose of a relationship is to provide a safe space to be vulnerable and feel loved.

  1. Couples don’t need coaching or counselling unless their relationship is in serious trouble

Seeing a professional is beneficial at any stage of our relationship to help us navigate the transitions. In fact, a fabulous time to come in for coaching sessions is before you get married to lay a solid foundation for this next step of your relationship.

 

Do any of these myths sound familiar? Are you feeling stuck in your communication or struggling to navigate the current phase of your relationship? Perhaps it is time for you and your partner to come in for relationship coaching to work through a tough time or to get ready for a bigger commitment.

Check out my packages for couples.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

What Does a Relationship or Marriage Coach do?

Sometimes a client just makes my day because they send a few lines as a thank you, or an update to let me know how they are doing. Each time I get a feedback, that I have empowered somebody to be their best self or that I have helped an individual or a couple through a rough time, I feel deep gratitude for being able to be a coach. I am always very clear that the credit lies with the person or the couple who has done the inner work. At the same time, it is beautiful for me to see how somebody has been able to shift something around. It is truly an honour to be invited into the life of a couple or a family and to be able to guide and witness amazing transformations.

Last month, a client send me—with a note of gratitude for having a “marriage mentor” in me – an image she had seen on Instagram. The idea of marriage mentoring is a bit different. I usually refer to myself as a relationship coach or coach for couples. I offer sessions for couples who are married as well as those who are not. I see heterosexual as well as homosexual couples. I also go beyond mentoring as I use techniques to do deeper personal work. So, after receiving the image accompanied by her beautiful thank you note, I thought I should write about being a relationship coach.

A big part of what I do is educational. I share what relationship experts have discovered about challenges we all have in our interpersonal connections, how to repair relationships and how to make marriages last. An example of that are the five losing strategies in relationships and the five winning strategies. Relationships have been a life-long interest of mine, and by that, I mean all sorts of relationships. In fact, I would go as far as to claim that fulfilling, loving relationships make our life worth living. Of course, that applies to our romantic partner, if we have one, but just as much to our relationships with our children and other family members, with friends and colleagues and even with strangers. Relationships can be our greatest joy and our greatest source for pain. Perhaps you are struggling with jealousy or trying to process an affair, just to mention two common situations. Or maybe anger in the relationship or feeling emotionally flooded is your challenge. Anger has a surprising purpose and when you feel flooded there is a way to address that issue. How do we show up with each other and how are we able to connect in a meaningful way? How do we apologize and make amends and how do we communicate successfully. This all actually starts with self-love and self-acceptance, or in other words, by working on our relationship with ourselves.

As a relationship coach, I help you understand your relationship with yourself, with your partner, your family and your friends. Because I look at the situation from the outside with complete neutrality, I am able to point out dynamics and how to shift them. When you are about to give up, I encourage you to keep going. As your biggest cheerleader, I can hold the belief for you that you can create the relationships you desire. I teach you how different parts of you operate in relationships, how they protect you, but can also keep you stuck in unhealthy dynamics and conflicts. I urge you to be gentle with yourself and others and to see things with renewed clarity from different perspectives. I guide you to apply new ways of communicating and interacting. No matter how challenging or dysfunctional a relationship has been, there is never any judgment. I am as human as you are and have complete empathy while keeping my eyes on how to make the changes necessary.

Photo by Cole Keister from Pexels

When you come in with your partner, I am impartial. I am neither on your side, nor on their side, but my primary client is your relationship. I will advocate for what the relationship which you have created together needs from both of you. I encourage both of you to take responsibility, make amends and ask what it is you can do to create the connection you long for.

Whether you are wondering if you should come as an individual or as a couple, I will never tell you what to do because you know best what is right for you. I simply assist you in achieving the clarity you need for all your decisions. My focus is to support you fully in all your choices and to encourage you to live with awareness and integrity, to be the healthiest, happiest and most authentic version of yourself.

If you feel a bit stuck or lost in the dynamics with your partner, or another person close to you, please reach out for a free phone consultation to see if we are a good fit. A good connection with your coach is crucial, for you to feel comfortable enough to do your inner work. You can speak to me on your own, or we can arrange a three way call with your partner, to get a feel for how we might be able to work together.

Contact me (Angelika) for individual sessions or couples sessions at
905-286-9466
greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca
Don’t forget to check out my discount packages for couples.

If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe to receive an e-mail notification when I post a new blog. Just enter your email address in the pop up window or in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

5 Winning Strategies in Relationships

In one of my last articles, I outlined five interactions which are useless and damaging to your relationships, especially in our close loving partnerships. Here are five winning strategies, as Terry Real describes in his recording, “Fierce Intimacy”.

  1. Go After What You Want – Express Your Needs 

Express what you want and need and be assertive about getting it. Terry Real calls it “daring to rock the boat”, which is scary at times, especially when we seem to be cruising along smoothly. If we are overidentified with our Pleaser Part or our Peaceful Part, because we received the message during childhood that we will only be loved if we go along with everything, it can be terrifying to rock the boat. There are two things to consider. Firstly, it is your birthright to be in an equal cherishing relationship in which both partner’s needs are met. The second thing to realize is that if you do not find your voice and speak up for your needs and wants, resentment begins to grow, and resentment is a poison that slowly erodes the love between you and your partner. To stay with our metaphor, resentment drills little holes into your relationship boat.

Sometimes we have this idea that we should not have to ask for what we want and need and that our partner should just know what our needs are if he/she really loved us. Our partner is not a mind reader. We set them and ourselves up for failure with this attitude!

Furthermore, help your partner to succeed by telling him or her up front what you need or want instead of waiting for them to fail. Be encouraging and affirm your partner’s efforts by giving positive feedback. Terry Real calls this “celebrating the glass being 15% full”. If the glass was 5% full beforehand, this is a reason to celebrate and thus encourage your partner to keep going. With our children, we naturally do that. If your son or daughter made an improvement in school from a D to a C, you give them reinforcement to keep going and to eventually get to a B.

 

  1. Speak to Make Things Better 

Speak to your partner with love. Before you speak, drop down into your heart and speak from there. If you are too triggered to do that, take a time out until you are able to interact from a more centred place. Remind yourself that you want to speak to make repairs not to make things worse. Learn how to be assertive and loving at the same time. Make sure your partner knows that you love them but that you also need to respect yourself and your needs and feelings.

Make very clear requests using I-statements. There is nothing you need to say that cannot be phrased as a subjective I statement. This helps us to stay away from judgments or accusing the other person. One method for good communication is the five steps of the non-violent communication by Marshall Rosenberg as described in my article “Having Our Needs met in Relationships“.

Speak respectfully and be prepared that not all your requests will be met. You could say “I would like to talk to you about… Is this a good time?” We need to be able to also tolerate small disappointments. Your partner might reply, “I am tired right now. Can we talk about this tomorrow?” Terry Real even takes it so far as to say we need to “celebrate the no”. Celebrating the no means to be proud of your partner when they say “no” to take care of themselves and meet their own needs, and be proud of yourself for being adaptable and grow-up when you don’t get everything you want in the moment when you want it.

 

  1. Listen to understand 

Before we can respond, we need to really listen. Getting defensive, whether that is out loud or in our heads, is not true listening. We need to put our own feelings aside while we are listening. Listening is also not about arguing about the facts and wanting to be right. Wanting to be right is one of the 5 losing strategies. Listening means entering into your partner’s subjective experience. What do they feel and how do they see things? Be a friendly interviewer who really wants to understand the perspective of the other person.

Remember that as a couple, you are in each other’s care. Or keep Terry Real’s analogy in mind that you are at a customer service or support desk. When a customer complains that their new electric kettle does not work, they don’t want to hear from you that your toaster does not work. Your only concern is to listen to them and tend to their issue in that moment in time, until it is your turn at the customer service window. When your partner comes to you in a state of upset, you are in their service.

Remember that nobody thinks they are irrational. Their feelings and interpretations of reality make sense to them. It is your job to be curious about what makes sense to them. It is your job to help your distraught partner to get back into harmony and closeness with you because that is good for your relationship and therefore is also good for you. Terry Real calls this stance “Enlightened Self-Interest”.

 

  1. Respond with Generosity 

Our first impulse might be to deny that we have done something or to explain why we have done something. That way of responding was termed “leading with an argument” by Terry Real, because it usually is the beginning of an argument. Instead, acknowledge your partner’s experience or feelings and take responsibility for your part in the issue. You might need to lead with a sincere apology, or at least an honest acknowledgement of what you have done or not done.

Image by JenDigitalArt from Pixabay

That disarms your partner, deescalates the conflict, and allows you to make repairs. Terry Real calls this skill “relational jujitsu”. You don’t oppose the force. You yield to the energy coming at you and turn it into a more harmonic energy. Admittedly, that is not an easy feast to accomplish, because we have been taught to respond to power with equal or greater aggression. When we meet aggression and respond with generosity and gentleness, the aggression runs into emptiness.

On the side of the partner who receives an apology or an attempt to improve, “responding with generosity” means to gracefully accept the repair. This is not the moment to be picky. You might not get all you wanted, but if you get 70% of what you have been asking for, that is a sign that your partner wants to cooperate and make peace. Accept the peace offering! Respond with a “thank you” for listening to you and meeting your requests.

The next step is to ask what you can give your partner. Find out what they need from you to make the changes you have asked for. You are on the same team, so you want to help them come through for you. This is relational empowerment rather than personal empowerment. Our society tends to encourage personal empowerment at the expense of our relationships. I am of course not saying that our personal growth and empowerment is not important, but we need a balance in order to live well functioning relationships.

 

  1. Cherish what you have 

Cherishing is a powerful change agent. Terry Real believes “this one winning strategy is equal in potential to all of the other strategies combined”. The best way to get more of what you want in a relationship is by appreciating what you are already getting. Whatever we give energy to, or pay attention to, grows and becomes more. We have the choice to focus on the steps forward, on the progress.

Why is that sometimes so hard?

Real intimacy, closeness and vulnerability can be scary for many of us. Fights can serve as a distance regulator. Complaining about what we are not getting helps to keep the distance between us and our partner, instead of truly opening up our heart and acknowledging everything we are getting. Fights keep us tied into each other but at a certain distance. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Fights are an opportunity to experience that the other one cares enough to be triggered by us and to feel close but not so close and enmeshed that it creates fear or panic. So what if, instead of starting a fight each time our inner child feels too vulnerable, we would express that we feel scared or that we need a bit of distance?

Terry Real calls the lack of gratitude towards our partner “having ADD, Appreciation Deficiency Disorder”. The ratio of negative feedback to positive appreciation is often out of balance in relationships. We need to engage in active appreciation several times each day.

Once our partner starts to give us more of what we have asked for, the challenge is to receive it gracefully and to cherish what we are getting. So if you hear yourself disqualifying what they are giving, e.g. “you are not doing it right”, or “you are only doing it because I asked for it”, or “you are doing it now but you didn’t do it then or you won’t do it in the future”, be curious about what is actually going on.

Sometimes we also have an attachment or belief system that keeps us from having happy and healthy relationships. We do something that Terry Real calls “keeping a parent spiritual company” by living in the same world they live in, e.g. being mistrustful like your father, or being passive aggressive like your mother, or overidentified with independence like your father, or overemotional like your mother, or too easygoing and disconnected from our own needs like your father and so on. When we try to move beyond that it might feel disloyal to the respective parent.

At other times, we might be invested in not wanting to be like one (or both) of our parents at all costs. For example, not wanting to take advantage of your spouse like you experienced your mother doing, or not wanting to abuse power like your father did and so on. When we identify with the opposite of an energy we are equally not whole and not able to create a balanced relationship. Moving into happiness in all those cases is synonymous with separating from our family. That’s were belief change techniques like PSYCH-K® and Shadow Energetics come in to change our subconscious programs.

If you dare to move beyond your parents and you dare to be happier, more vulnerable and more intimate than they were able to be, you are forging into new territory for your whole ancestral line. You are changing the future for your children and grandchildren, who will receive a different legacy because they now have new role models.

 

For individual sessions or couples sessions, please contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Check out my discount packages for couples.

If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe to receive an e-mail notification when I post a new blog. Just enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

 

How To Do the Time Out Right

“You did it again!”, Sarah yells at Frank, her face red and her eyes dark and full of fire. “If you think you can treat me this way, you are mistaken! You just wait! I will show you!…” She takes another breath to continue her loud tirade, but stops herself. She realizes that her angry and vengeful self has taken over. Before she can say another word, she says, “I need a time out…” and storms out of the room. Ten minutes later her husband gets a text from her “I need a time out to calm down. I will be back in an hour.”

When one or both people in an interaction are emotionally triggered, perhaps even feeling extreme anger or rage, absolutely nothing good can come out of continuing the fight or emotionally charged conversation. While we are in fight, flight or freeze mode, we simply CANNOT problem solve.

What Do We Do When My Partner and I Trigger Each Other Emotionally? (Relationship Tip 1)

When a protective part has taken over, for example anger, harshness, revenge, moral judgement, defensiveness or fear, we do not have enough Self, or in other words, not enough “heart energy”, present to connect and solve an issue as a team. We need to get back into a calm, clear, collected, creative and even compassionate state first.

The time out is like a circuit breaker. When one of our protective parts takes over, it can be powerful and it might feel like we are just not in control anymore. Remember that you are not the anger. It is just part of you. The initial angry impulse might come too quickly to do anything about it. However, any emotion that we engage in longer than two minutes, is not an instinct anymore, but a choice. Like Sarah, you have enough control to turn around and leave. Terry Real likes to point out, and I agree with him, that if you truly could not control your anger and rage, you would be raging everywhere. You would lose your temper at work, in public situations—for example at the cop who stops you for speeding—and you would end up in prison or in a mental institution. If you can control your rage somewhere, you can control it anywhere. If you can control your anger in other situations, you have the choice to control it with your partner.

It is a myth that love has to always be passionate. This myth has us believing that in order to have the positive passion that we want, we also need to put up with crazy jealousy and anger. Emotional ups and downs will ultimately burn you both out and destroy the relationship. It pays off to learn to use the time out method.

Terry Real names ten rules for applying the Time Out method successfully. He calls them the ten commandments.

  1. Use a time out as a circuit breaker
    Time outs immediately stop a psychologically violent or nonconstructive interaction between you and your partner.
  2. Take your time out based on how YOU feel
    You call the time out for yourself, no matter how your partner feels. It means advocating for your own needs because you don’t want to feel and/or act the way you are.
  3. Take distance responsibly
    When we decide to take distance, we can do it provocatively or responsibly. Responsible distance taking has two parts: 1) an explanation and 2) the promise to return. You need to get across to your partner, “This is why I need distance and this is when I intend to come back.” When you don’t give an explanation, you are disregarding your partner’s anxiety about your distance taking and you are further triggering your partner. Provocative distance taking tends to get you chased. Do not play games with your partner. Be very clear about when you are going to continue the conversation.

  1. The phrase “Time Out” or the “T” sign
    If you are able to say something like “I don’t like how I’m speaking to you and I don’t trust what I am about to say/do, therefore, I’m taking some time to regain my composure. I will be back” that is great. However, most people are not able to express all of this, so a previously agreed upon phrase or signal are helpful.
  2. Don’t let yourself get stopped
    Terry Real stresses that time outs are unilateral. Unlike any other relationship tool, time outs are a non-negotiable declaration. You’re not asking permission. Leave the room and go into another room and close the door, or even leave the house.
  3. Use check-ins at prescribed intervals
    The purpose of the time out is not to punish your partner, but rather to calm things down. Therefore, it is critical that you check in with your partner from time to time in order to take the emotional temperature between you. The intervals Terry Real suggests are: an hour, three hours, a half day, a whole day, an overnight. You can check in by phone or even by texting.

  1. Remember your goal
    The goal of time outs is to stop emotionally violent, immature, and destructive behavior. “Stopping such behavior in your relationship is a goal that supersedes all other goals. You may need to work on better communication, more sharing or negotiation, but none of that will happen until you succeed in wrestling the beast of nasty transactions to the ground” (Terry Real).
  2. Return in good faith
    Don’t return with resentment or self-righteousness. Come back when you are truly ready to make peace.
  3. Use a twenty-four-hour moratorium on triggering topics
    In severe cases, put the triggering topic on halt for 24 hours. When you come back from a time out, put a pause on the reoccurring fight you are having. First get comfortable with each other again. Engage in a non-triggering simple every day activity together, like having a cup of coffee or watching TV. Return to the topic the next day when you are calm and collected.
  4. Know when to get help and use it.
    If you find that a certain topic, for example money, children, sex, trust, ex-partners, etc. always triggers a nasty transaction, take that as a signal that you need some outside support in order to break through to having constructive conversations. There is no shame in getting help; it is what smart couples do.

 

For individual sessions or couples sessions, please contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Check out my discount packages for couples.

If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe to receive an e-mail notification when I post a new blog. Just enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

5 Losing Strategies in Relationships

“All relationships are an endless dance of harmony, disharmony and repair. Closeness, disruption and return to closeness.”

– Terry Real

Harmony, disharmony and repair are the essential cycle of all relationship experiences. Closeness, disruption, and return to closeness, happen in many smaller and bigger ways in all our relationships every day. This can already be observed when you watch mothers or fathers and small babies.

I was fortunate enough to visit a beautiful young friend the other day who just had a baby daughter two months ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the slow pace and rhythm of the baby’s needs. I was also able to observe how, from the first day on, we learn this dance that Terry Real describes.

The baby is all relaxed and everything is in perfect harmony. The intimacy and peace is palpable. Caregiver and baby can just look at each other forever, connected through perfect closeness, and eventually the baby falls asleep peacefully. Then the harmony gets disrupted by a feeling of hunger, or the wet diaper, or a gassy tummy, or a sudden loud noise. The mother or father responds by soothing the baby, fixing the issue, and restoring harmony, whether that is with the breast, or the soother, or a dry diaper.

The parent does not argue with the baby if they are right to cry, or punishes the baby for being upset, and hopefully does not let them cry themselves to sleep. Yet, in our love relationships, we employ such useless and damaging strategies. Here are five strategies which are futile and harmful to your relationships.

1 Being Right

I often see couples having a discussion about who was right or what is true. That usually means they argue about who remembers something correctly, or who has the correct perspective on an issue. As Terry Real says so poignantly, “Objective reality has no place in personal relationships”. Or in other words, it does not matter who is right and who is wrong!

If you ever took a workshop with me, you will recall the story of the five blind men and the elephant, which I often share. In doubt, you both have only part of the truth in a given situation. If you asked a third person about the event, they might have a third perspective. There is no such thing as objective truth when it comes to our experiences. Our memory tends to be faulty and betray us because we will remember very selectively, depending on how something impacted us emotionally.

What wanting to be right leads us into is what Terry Real calls “perception battles” or “objectivity battles”. Trying to sort out our relationship issues by wanting to figure out who is right and who is wrong, is an endless losing strategy that has us running around in circles. In fact, if we argue about who is right, nobody wins! As Stan Tatkin likes to point out, if one partner wins and the other loses, you both lose. However, the relationship wins when you create a win-win situation for both of you. What matters is not who did what and who is right, but how you are going to solve a situation or issue in a way that your needs and your partner’s needs are met.

 

2. Control

Trying to control your partner and make them do something can show up in two ways: direct control or indirect control by manipulation. We all have those protective parts inside, that want to come up and control a situation either openly or more subversively. Traditional feminine expectations want women to be indirect instead of openly speaking up for their feelings, needs and wants. Therefore, women might often have a stronger manipulative part which helps them to get what they need.

My grandmother was a master of manipulating others around her, either subtly or less subtly, because she felt she had no other way to have her needs met. 70 years ago, or even 40 years ago, that might have been true. However, in order to be in an equal intimate relationship, we need to find the way out of stereotypical gender roles.

Even though the conventional male and female roles are slowly changing, women still tend to lose their voice. Or as Terry Real says, women “learn to close their voices and men still learn to close their hearts” and disconnect from more vulnerable feelings.

Manipulation is a way to play or manage your partner, which is detrimental in a relationship, because it fosters resentment. Nobody likes being controlled. Even when it looks like your partner is relenting and not objecting to giving in and doing what you want, the likelihood that he or she will grow resentful over time is great.

 

3. Unbridled Self-expression

The third strategy that Terry Real discusses is “unbridled self-expression”. This refers to venting and vomiting up not just the present issue, but all past situations when your partner did something similar.

Why does it not work to bring up past offenses that tie into the present issue? Functional moves in a relationship, whether that is with your partner or anybody else, are moves that empower and motivate the other person to come through for you.

If you are a parent, you know that if you “flatten” your son or daughter and make them feel not good enough and incapable, you are not inviting them to change. If you tell them what they aren’t doing right now in the present, they can do something about it. If you tell them all the things they didn’t do in the past, perhaps throwing in some general accusations starting like “You always…” and “You never…”, the only effect this has is that the other person feels helpless and insufficient. This trend talk then often leads to criticizing somebody’s character, rather than staying with the present issue that can be resolved. You end up with a partner who feels helpless and paralyzed.

When expressing our feelings and needs, “short and sweet” is the winning strategy, while keeping in mind what actually encourages and empowers our partner to meet our requests.

 

4. Retaliation

Revenge and getting even are another losing strategy. This strategy can show up overtly or covertly. The latter occurs when we get stuck in a victim story of “He/she hurt me, so I will hurt them back”. Terry Real calls this offending from the victim position. This makes your partner the perpetrator while featuring yourself as the victim. Every perpetrator thinks they are the victim and have no choice but to fight back with self-righteous indignation. The faulty idea behind revenge is to want to make the other person experience the pain we have experienced. Punishing somebody will never bring them into increased understanding or accountability for their own actions. That’s how legal battles or wars between countries are started. Whenever has the losing party in a court case or in a war said, “Now I understand that I shouldn’t have done this and how my enemy felt. In fact, I am going to love my enemy now that they have won”?

There are two forms of retaliation. Direct open retaliation, or the even more destructive indirect retaliation which is passive-aggressiveness by withholding something, most often love and affection. Both does enormous damage in the relationship.

 

5. Withdrawal

Passive aggressive retaliation can look like withdrawal but is really about revenge. Actual withdrawal is were one person leaves the field. That can be the refusal to engage about an issue, for example trouble with other family members, financial challenges, or the addiction issues which are going on, or opting out of a particular aspect of the relationship, for example the sexual part of the relationship. This can even mean checking out of the relationship entirely. When the latter happens, the end of the relationship is often near.

When withdrawal happens, you might mistakenly think that the withdrawing partner is moving into acceptance. They might say, for example, “I just accept that I cannot talk to my partner about this topic”. However, is the withdrawing partner somewhat resentful in this situation? Resentment is not acceptance.

girl-sea-white-shirt

Withdrawal is also different from having a healthy detachment from what is going on. Withdrawal is unilateral and a rapture. Sweeping things under the carpet and not dealing with them might work as a temporary strategy when we are very overwhelmed, but ultimately backfires.

Withdrawal often looks like provocative or stubborn distance taking. When you can see that a protective part comes up and says “Let’s get out of here. The only way to handle this pain is by distancing yourself.” This is totally different from taking a needed and conscious time out when there is an escalating conflict, or what Terry Real calls “responsible distance taking”. Conscious distance taking means letting your partner know that you need some distance and why. You are also letting them know when you will be back to continue this conversation. If you do this responsibly, you help your partner not to feel abandoned or spin into anxiety. Then they do not need to react from their own protectors like anger or control, or their own inner child, which might respond with fear.

None of these five strategies—or any combination thereof—are in any way helpful or beneficial for a relationship. We need to remember that our partner is not our enemy, but our ally. Instead of controlling, venting, retaliating, withdrawing or wanting to be right, realize that all these strategies are us operating from a protective part and not really connecting from heart to heart. Instead, it is our job to take care of our inner child parts so that we can refrain from using any of these detrimental strategies in our relationships.

Take a moment to honestly assess what your top one or two default strategies might be when the going gets tough. Be compassionate with yourself as you make that self assessment. These are protective parts that step up to protect your vulnerability. Meanwhile, they are keeping you from what you most long for, but might be afraid of: true intimacy and closeness with your partner.

Stay tuned for the next two blog articles “Five Winning Strategies in Relationships” and “How to Do a Time Out Right”. If you have subscribed to my blog, you will be notified by email when the next article is posted.

 

For individual sessions or couples sessions please contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Check out my discount packages for couples.

If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe to receive an e-mail notification when I post a new blog. Just enter your email address in the field in the left sidebar. Thank you for your support!

Conflicts in Relationships

“How can you be so heartless and cold?” Sandra asks with anger in her voice, “Why don’t you have any sympathy for my brother? You are so cruel!”

Kyle is looking at his wife and is wondering how they ended up in this escalated conflict, one of many fights about her brother. He is silently reminding himself that she has simply been taken over by not just an angry but also a judgmental protector right now. And underneath those protectors are feelings of fear and responsibility for a younger sibling who has always relied on Sandra. She feels helpless, guilty and frustrated.

She continues defiantly, “I will not turn him away if he needs my help! I am giving him the money, no matter what you think! You always support your ex-wife when she needs extra money, supposedly for the kids…”

Now Kyle can feel how his own protector is coming up. There is a part of him that just wants to reply sharply, “No you will not. I am the main provider in this family and I make our financial decisions.” But thankfully, he still has enough awareness that his controlling protector is gearing up for a fight in response to Sandra’s anger. He remembers to use their code word, ”Fire.”

The protectors are like Firefighters. They don’t care about the damage they cause; they only care about “putting out the fire”. In our inner world, that “fire” equates to our vulnerability and our emotional pain. That code-word “fire” for Kyle and Sandra means, “Stop. Let’s take a break right now to calm ourselves.” When we are triggered by our partner we need a time out of at least 20-30 minutes. During that time, we need to allow our sympathetic nervous system to calm down again. The time out is probably one of the most important agreements to make when couples struggle with escalating conflicts.

When our partner shows up in one of their protectors, rather than connecting from a more loving, calm or even vulnerable place, we often wonder what we are doing with this awful person. We might think, “How could I not see from the start how horrible he/she is?” While we are in this emotionally activated state, we perceive the situation and especially each other as a threat. We are unable to see clearly, problem solve or make rational decisions. Any conversation that we continue in this state can only become more destructive.

Terrence Real mentions in his book “The New Rules of Marriage” that we all have two competing images of our partner. We have one image of them at their best and one of them at their worst. You could perhaps say that when we hold the first image we see them for who they really are at a core level, or for who they are capable of being. That positive image might be identical with what we fell in love with when we first met. When our partner is being taken over by one of their protectors, we can hold that positive image as a beacon to remind us that he or she is more than this angry, controlling, judgmental, negative, complaining, or defensive person across from us.

In some cases, this core positive image can of course be problematic as well. If one person is holding the potential of who their partner can be so insistently that they ignore detrimental aspects of the relationship instead of acknowledging them, the image is creating an issue.

However, in most cases we need and want to cultivate the positive image to get through tough times. We can cultivate this picture by focusing on everything we love and like about our partner. A practice of appreciation of each other allows us to keep this image alive.

According to Terry Real, we also harbour a “core negative image” of our partner. That’s the combination of all the things they do that trigger us into judgements and challenge us in our relationship. It includes all the pain we have experienced with or through this partner. When we are emotionally activated, we are unable to see anything but the negative. We are seeing the other person through the glasses of the fight and flight response. Or Terry Real would say through “fight, flight or fix”. By that he means, we want to fight back, or stone wall/retreat/run away in some way, or quickly fix the tension in the room without addressing the problems and individual needs. Backing away from the issue just to fix the disharmony won’t help us. It breads resentment.

“The difference between real acceptance and just backing away from an issue, or away from the whole relationship, is resentment.”

Terrence Real, “How Can I Get Through to You?”

Why do we want to fight, run or fix? The reason is instinctual. We don’t see the other person accurately when we have been taken over by our protectors. In that moment in time, we also often assume that our partner has the worst intentions instead of being able to consider that they might have good intentions or reasons underneath their behaviour which seems so outrageous to us.

This goes both ways. Just as you might be triggered into seeing your partner from the core negative image when your vulnerabilities are triggered, your partner also experiences you from their perspective of the negative core image. What we really are seeing are our protective parts responding to what the other person activates deep inside of us, or in other words, what that person reflects back to us.

 

Take a moment to ask yourself what characteristics trigger you in your partner, and write them down. Because the people close to us always mirror to us what we have disowned, you will create a list of traits that will mostly be excellent shadow traits to work with in your next session with your relationship coach.

Now write down what you think your partner gets triggered by in you. What does his or her negative core image of you probably look like?

The work in individual sessions or in couple sessions is to understand our protectors—and those that our partner tends to go into—and to learn to speak “for” them rather than “from” them. It is also our responsibility as an individual to notice and work on the triggers or shadows that the relationship with our partner activates for us.

For individual sessions or couples sessions please contact

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

Check out discount packages for couples here.

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I’ve Got You

Ten days ago, I had an unusual anniversary. Three years ago, I slipped and fell down the last couple of steps on a staircase. I fractured both my ankles. My legs were both in casts for six weeks and afterwards I was working from a wheelchair until my ankles were strong enough and I had learned to walk again. You could say the experience was a bit of a trauma, even though it was of course also a gift. It included experiencing dependency, vulnerability, and held a lot of learning and growth, which I have written about repeatedly. What was left over from that accident was a fear of walking down a slippery slope. I experienced that I would literally freeze and would be unable to walk down if there was any danger of potentially falling. Consequently, I did my uttermost to avoid situations that could trigger that fear.

However, the Universe in its wisdom can be absolutely marvelous. It knows exactly when and how to bring us opportunities to step out of our comfort zones. Last week, coincidentally the day before the three year return of the accident, I joined a group of 10 other people on a nature walk of the Bruce Trail, without knowing what I was getting myself into. It was rainy and muddy, and the trail was steep all the way through.

I had a moment of doubt when the rain started and when I realized what I had committed to. However, I had the most empowering experience on this hike. Every single person in that group had my back. There was always somebody next to me offering to hold my hand, or somebody saying, “I am right behind you, Angelika, I’ve got you”, or “let me go ahead and find the least slippery route, so you can just follow in my footsteps.”

I felt incredibly held and safe and loved. Nobody treated me with impatience or looked at me strangely; they all got it. They were the most loving and supportive group I could have gone on this slippery trail with. In fact, they did not just make sure I was okay at all times, but they watched out for each other. At some points during the walk, we were all holding hands helping each other back down the trail.

That experience of being able to be vulnerable and held in whatever trauma each of us is working through, is exactly why I do what I do. A world in which we are gentle and supportive with each other is exactly the kind of world I want to live in! I am passionate about creating a world of love, acceptance and total support. That’s why I teach workshops like the upcoming Shadow Energetics Workshop, in which we do deep inner work, while everybody is held in complete love and trust within the group.

That is also why I love individual sessions with clients who are ready to be curious about their raw and vulnerable experiences and to heal what holds them back from health, happiness and fulfilling mutually supportive relationships. And nothing brings me greater joy than when a couple comes in together, ready to hold each other in their vulnerability and keep each other feeling safe, as they work through things.

After all, the purpose of our intimate relationships is to create a sacred space in which we can be vulnerable, authentic and reveal our fears and weaknesses. Are you and your partner able to create this sacred space together? Or are you stuck in disillusionment, hurt or pain because your old emotional wounds are resurfacing?

This simply means that the honeymoon stage of the relationship is over. This honeymoon phase was not supposed to last forever. It was supposed to bring you together. Stage 2 of the relationship is about learning how to deal with disagreements, vulnerabilities and challenges, so that we can advance to stage 3, the mature love stage.

The challenges in stage 3 don’t stop, but we have learned how to deal with our triggers in a conscious way so that we can have each others’ backs, like the participants on the nature hike had each others’ backs. This requires that both partners put in the necessary effort to understand themselves and each other so that the relationship can get stronger. There is absolutely no shame in seeking help to achieve this. In fact, it is the smart thing to do. Working on the relationship with a therapist or coach ensures that your relationship progresses to the next stage.

If you would like to do a meditation on feeling supported and being supportive, or do a partner exercise to experience support, go to my Patreon.

Contact me for

individual coaching sessions or couples’ sessions.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

 

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The Six Second Kiss And Other Rituals of Connection

When did you last get a really good long kiss? If you are dating or in the honeymoon phase of your relationship, you will most likely be experiencing lots of kissing. If you are in a later state of your relationship and you haven’t kept up the kissing, you might miss out on an essential connection ritual which has lots of health benefits.

Kissing releases oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin makes you feel a sense of comfort and belonging, and dopamine activates your brain’s reward center. Kissing can also reduce the stress hormone cortisol. It lowers your blood pressure and reduces anxiety.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman recommend to share at least one kiss every day that lasts six seconds or more. Why six seconds? Because that requires us to be present and it is long enough to feel the romantic connection and bond with your partner.

“A six-second kiss is a kiss with potential.

It’s a kiss worth coming home to.”

(John Gottman)

The six second kiss is a beautiful ritual of connection for a couple. Our relationships need rituals. We all have many rituals with children, we have family rituals, especially around holidays, we have religious rituals, for example around death. They provide guidance on how to act and interact in a given situation. They give meaning to an experience which is often still remembered many years later, like a birthday celebration, or the annual family vacation, or the lullaby that was sung to us throughout childhood.

Rituals provide a container for an experience of an emotional connection. Rituals give us predictability, something to look forward to; they are anchors in a fast moving and often unpredictable world. Even smaller rituals help us to be emotionally connected with one or more other people. They give us a sense of belonging and they make our relationships stronger.

Something done without intention is not a ritual, yet the same thing done with intention can become a ritual. Watching TV is not a ritual, yet, having a pizza and movie night every Friday with the kids and taking turns picking a movie is done with the intention to connect and have fun as a family. Taking a class to learn a new language or new skill like photography, or to improve your cooking or dancing abilities is not a ritual, but making the conscious choice to take one class a year together as a couple can be a couple ritual to create shared memories of learning and fun.

All couples, no matter at what stage their relationship is in, need rituals. Dan and Bonita are living a long distance relationship, including a significant time difference. Rituals of connection are what help them to get through this period in their life. They text, facetime or skype every day to connect. They make sure they say good night and good morning to each other. Each time they have visited each other, they make a plan for the next time they will see each other in person. Each of these rituals are intentional to provide safety and are like islands of connection as they move forward.

Stan and Jane are newly married and are developing their own rituals. They have very different schedules. He works from 9-5, she from 3-9. When she is done working, the day is over. They are making the very conscious choice to start and end the day together. Having breakfast together and talking in the morning, as well as ending the day cuddling together, are two important anchors for them. Their morning and evening routine frames their day and allows them to be focussed on work, knowing when they will touch base with each other again.

Daniel and Gabriela just had their first child. In order to stay connected, they maintain every Friday night as date night. They are also developing family rituals with their son. The family rituals create a stronger connection with their child, and the alone time allows them not to lose the sense of themselves as a couple and their romantic bond.

Walter and Fran are alone. Their kids have grown up. One of their rituals is to go to the market every Saturday morning and to then cook together. In the afternoon, they work around the house and on Saturday night they go out with friends or by themselves. Their rituals have helped them to refocus from being parents onto their special couples relationship.

What rituals do you have or would you like to create?

If you would like to do a meditation on creating new rituals of connection, go to my Patreon. The upcoming topic is rituals. In addition to the meditation I offer journal prompts and a partner exercise to create rituals together and engage in them consciously.

As a patron your receive a meditation, journal prompts, a relationship tip and partner exercises on a new topic every two weeks.

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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!