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Relationship Alive!

Neil Sattin interviews John Gottman, Sue Johnson, Harville Hendrix, Peter Levine, Stan Tatkin, Dick Schwartz, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Diana Richardson, Terry Real, Wendy Maltz - and many others - in his quest to dig deep into all the factors that keep a Relationship Alive and Thriving! Each week Neil brings you an in-depth interview with a relationship expert. Neil is an author and relationship coach who is enthusiastic and passionate about relationships and the nuts and bolts of what makes them last. You can find out more about Neil Sattin and the Relationship Alive podcast at http://www.neilsattin.com
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Mar 20, 2020

Sometimes all it takes is a simple adjustment to create a much deeper connection with another person. Today I'll offer you some obvious-but-not-so-obvious ways to foster intimacy - whether you're cooped up with another, or connecting digitally. In this episode I'm also sharing some of the ways that I create deep presence when I'm using video chat to communicate. Strategies you can always use that will come in handy as we social distance to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Simple stuff, with big results.

This week's episode is a follow-up to last week's episode about how to stay connected to yourself and others amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive.

This is your host, Neil Sattin.

I know, I know I said in last week's episode, that this week, there was gonna be an interview with a friend of mine who's a romance writer, and that interview is coming, but just not this week, so sorry to those of you who are excited for that interview. It will be coming.

I just decided that as a follow-up to last week's episode, Love in the Time of Coronavirus where I talked about some strategies for helping you take care of yourself, helping you take care of your relationship and if you're single, helping you date safely.

During the present moment - I wanted to follow up with a few quick tips for you to help you create intimate space no matter what your situation is. So if you are cooped up with your partner day in day out, because you're on lockdown, and on a strict social distancing regimen with everyone, except your immediate family or if you are dating and communicating digitally through apps and texting, and video chat, I wanted to give you a few hints to help you actually create intimacy no matter which of those settings you're dealing with, so that you can best get that sense of being connected with other people. And I know, I often say This is gonna be a really quick episode, or the other day, I sent an email out and I said This is gonna be a quick email. It ended up being a longer email.

I'm gonna do my best to make this fairly quick because, Hey, there's a lot going on in our lives right now and I'm gonna do my best to honor that for you.

However, before I dive into the meat or the tofu, of the episode, I want to do important things like first just to thank you if you have been contributing to relationship alive to help keep us going, I'm so appreciative of your support. This is a labor of love about love to hopefully help you have the most successful relationship or relationships that you can have, and so if you're finding the podcast to be beneficial for you on your journey or for people that you know and love, please consider a donation to keep us going.

Every little bit counts, and you can choose something that feels right for you if you visit neilsattin.com/support and you can also text the word "support" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And this week I'd like to thank Angie, David, Sylvia, Elyse, Drew, Marilyn, Lydia, Valerie, and Keerthi, thank you all so much for your contributions to relationship alive and Angie - Sorry, well we'll do the romance novel one soon... Okay, so... Also, I do have a free offering for you along with this podcast. If you're looking for ways to improve your communication with your partner or with people who are important to you, then download my guide, my free guide to the top three relationship communication, secrets - these are things that are fairly easy to put into practice and can really be a huge transforming factor when you're trying to talk about things that are challenging, when you're trying to communicate about something that's important, when you're feeling vulnerable - these action items will help you do that successfully to help you stay connected, no matter how challenging the topic. To download that, just visit neilsattin.com/relate or text the word "relate" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

And before we dive in, we do have a free Facebook group. The relationship alive community, where you can come and join others who listen to the show in a safe space to talk about relationships and get some support for yourself, so or support others. So hopefully I'll see you there, in the relationship alive community on Facebook.

If you're on my email list, which you will be if you've downloaded any of the show guides to the show or if you download the relationship communication tips that I just mentioned, you may see that I recently announced that I created some spots in my calendar to do one-off coaching. This isn't something that I do very frequently, but there's so much going on right now that I wanted to make myself available, so I'm offering it on a sliding scale, and I'll be sending out another reminder soon, so just hop on my list and you can get more information about that. If you need a little extra support, right now, I totally get it. Hey, I need a little extra support right now and I have been reaching out to the people that I count on: a therapist, close friends to get that little extra bit of support when I need it, 'cause none of us should be alone. So, if there isn't anyone in your life that you can count on, then consider signing up for a session 'cause I would love to be there to help support you.

Okay, all right, let's dive in. I'm just like, I have this image of just running for the water and taking a big dive in and that would feel really good right now, except I live in Maine, and it is cold and while I have some friends that I've seen jumping in the ocean on Facebook - I guess that is theoretically good for your immune system to take the cold plunge - I'm not gonna do that right now.

No, in fact I'm still recovering from the cold that I got a little over a week ago, which you may have heard me talk about briefly on the last episode of the show. So far, so good, everything seems okay. Of course, I cannot get tested because they're just aren't enough tests and thankfully, what I'm experiencing isn't severe enough to warrant a test, the way that they are doling them out right now, so I'm doing all right. I'm getting rest, drinking lots of water and I'm gonna be okay, and hopefully we all band together and we'll all get through this. Even though it's kind of a weird challenging time, let's just be honest. It is unlike anything any of us has ever probably dealt with before.

So that's just the reality, and I think that's why this felt so important to give you a few extra hints because we're all in the soup right now, and so it's super important to have as many little tricks as you can to stay connected and to be able to experience intimacy even if you have to keep your distance.

So the first thing that I wanted to talk about has to do with if you are in fact spending a lot of time cooped up with your partner, so you're in our relationship or this could be true even if it's not a love relationship, maybe it's your roommates or if you live with your family. There are a couple of possibilities, one is that it's so easy to be around each other all the time and still kind of be missing each other - to not really have those moments where you feel like you're really dropping in and connecting.

And on the flip side, maybe you're so busy that you're not taking the time to truly connect or maybe you're in each other's business all the time, but not in ways that are particularly connecting.

So here's the hint for those kinds of situations. The hint is to make a date with each other, to actually put time on the calendar and you might wanna do this on a daily basis to have a little check-in if that feels appropriate, or every other day, you gotta go with whatever feels right for you, but I invite you to designate a specific time where you will come together and just check in with a "Hey! How are you doing?"

And to give each other permission to be however you are. Maybe amidst all of this, you're doing totally fine. And if that's true, that's great. Relish that, that things are going a little crazy in the world, and I'm actually doing okay and having that strength or resilience that comes in handy when times get tough.

So the goal here is to celebrate whatever is, and if it's not something that you feel like celebrating exactly - like for instance, if you're NOT doing so great, well, take the word with a grain of salt, you don't have to "celebrate" it, but you can honor it - honor the challenge, honor the fear, honor the sadness or the heart break, honor the rage, and the anger, or honor the okay-ness - honor those moments of exhilaration where you feel like... "Wow, this... Maybe this is all we got, so let's enjoy it." I know yesterday I went out on a couple of really long walks in the sunshine. It's not sunny today, but it was yesterday, and I actually had moments of joy where I felt like I was just seeing the world so clearly, noticing the people around me and saying, "hello" from a safe distance of six feet and just appreciating life, so that those were really good moments for me.

And then I've had moments where I've been scared, I'm scared of what might happen to people that I care about, moreso that than myself, but honestly, I wanna keep living.

You know, I wanna get through this in one piece. So, yeah you gotta just deal with what is and check in with each other. If you're solo or single at this time, make an appointment to check in with yourself, maybe a couple of times during the day to just kind of step back from social media, from the news, from whatever it is you're doing and just check in with your body with your own state of being. This is something that I talked about in the last episode. Make it intentional though. And that way, if you're feeling, on the other side of those things, you were feeling like you're kind of obsessive about how you're feeling, then that's another advantage of setting a time. You have that dedicated time to check-in about your feelings, and then you can get on with your day.

So that's my hint for self and for being in relationship - to carve out time to be intentiona, l to honor each other, to really listen and acknowledge each other, and just to acknowledge if it's good. Awesome, that's good. If it's hard, Okay, it's hard - I hear you.

I'm gonna do a quick message from our sponsor for days episode and then I'm going to offer you some hints on digital intimacy so staying connected, and feeling like you're creating a good container of intimacy in digital communications, whether that be texting or using Zoom or Skype, or something like that, to do video chats.

But today's sponsor has been supporting the podcast for a little while now, I'm so appreciative.

And they are potentially another way for you to get the help that you need the support that you're looking for as you're creating that web of support that is so valuable that we talk about on the show all the time.

So this way that allows you to connect with a professional counselor in an online environment, that's safe and private and obviously respects social distancing, is today's sponsor. Better help with better help you can get help on your own time, and at your own pace. Along with scheduling video or phone sessions, you can also chat and text with your therapist, they are affordable and financial aid is available for those who qualify. So whether it's the current situation with Coronavirus or anxiety or depression or things going on in your relationship, whatever it is, definitely consider better help as a way to help you transform the places where you are stuck, and best of all, it's a truly affordable option because as a Relationship Alive listener, you get 10% off your first month with discount code, a live.

So why not? It started today?

Just go to better help dot com live simply fill out their questionnaire, which will help them assess your needs and get you matched with a counselor that you love, that's better. Help dot com alive, thanks better help.

Alright, I'm gonna keep my promise to you that this is gonna be quick. So let's talk about digital intimacy.

We'll start with texting.

When I was talking before about carving out time to communicate, I think that can be helpful for texting, as well so that you are not just texting off and on throughout your day or texting a bunch of people at once too... Sometimes texting works that way, where it's designed to be asynchronous - meaning you send a message to someone and they may or may not reply to you right away - so I get it, that's how it sometimes works. So this isn't a strict rule but if you get the sense that someone is there on the other end, and ready and willing to text with you then carve at that time, carve out five minutes, 10 minutes, and just focus your energy on texting with your friends and while you are waiting for the other person to text you back instead of checking social media, or going online, or to a your favorite blog or whatever it is, I invite you to just stay present, stay present, with the waiting, waiting, for their communication - breathe, get in touch with what's happening in your body and do your best to just stay focused on that communication with that person.

It makes a difference in not only feeling connected, but in their feeling your presence - especially if you're able to respond back really quickly, because you are giving that other person your full attention via text. That's my hint for texting.

Now, when it comes to video chats, there are a couple of things that I've found that are really helpful and I actually use these tips when I am doing sessions with people, 'cause at this point, almost all the sessions that I do are over Zoom or Skype.

And as you can imagine, it's really important for my clients to feel my presence to feel like we are creating an intimate space for those sessions to occur.

So there are a couple of ways that I like to do that that seemed to work well for me. And I invite you to experiment with them and see what works well for you.

The first thing is to close all your other apps, on your computer or on your phone. I guess if you're doing it on your phone, it's less of an issue because if you switch over to another app, they're gonna know. If you're in your computer, closing your browser closing everything else that's going so that you can give the other person your full attention. If you have a way of turning off your notifications on your computer or on your phone, that's good too, so that you're in a do-not-disturb mode, and you don't have little notifications popping up to disrupt your concentration or your presence. If you're on your computer, you might turn your phone over so that it's face down so that you don't have things on your phone lighting up your phone and distracting you. And the goal is for you to be as present as possible. Another thing I like to do is I like to keep my computer- I do most of my zooming via my computer - and I like to keep it in right in front of me, so whether it's on my desk, or it's on my lap on a board or something, I keep it in front of me, and I actually put my arms out and I put my arms on either side of the computer, almost like I'm holding whatever, whoever is on the other end. I'm holding the image of them on my computer screen, and I do that to create a physical container in the best way possible. That would be like if we were in-person, it would be like the same as us sitting directly opposite each other and me facing you squarely with my body, and giving you my full presence and eye contact, and you knowing that you have my full attention. So one way that I help myself do that and stay focused is by reaching my arms out in a natural way... And having them on either side of my computer as if I'm holding the person that I'm talking to.

Another thing that I like to do - I've been using full screen a little bit more lately. It seems like it's working okay, but a lot of the time, what I'll do is I'll actually switch to minimizing the view of the other person - not minimizing it, so it's off the screen, but getting the little mini version so that instead of their face taking up the whole screen, that's actually like a little tiny version, of them. And then I'll move that right up to under the camera or the webcam on my computer.

And that is one way that seems to be really helpful for the other person feeling like when I'm looking at them, that I'm actually looking at them. 'Cause of course this is all happening in a virtual space, right, I'm not really looking at them, I'm looking at a screen I'm looking at a picture of them and likewise, they're looking at a picture of me, but if I am looking right at where the camera is then that's the best chance that I've got of being able to make eye contact and being able to help the other person feel the presence of my gaze, and my attentiveness, as they're talking. So that's another little trick that I use from time to time and it's been really helpful. And lastly, when you're talking to another person, especially via video chat, I think it's really helpful to pay attention to your breathing. So how you are breathing and whether your breath is shallow, or whether it's deep - just noticing what's happening in you and then also noticing the breathing in the other person. So when does the person that you're talking to, take breaths, when do they exhale, when do they sigh. Paying attention to their breath also helps you just tune in to everything else that's going on with them, in general, with their body.

So you notice when the color of their skin changes, or when tension appears or disappears on their face.

There's something about tuning into the breath that really, I think, synchronizes us with another human in general. So I'm not saying that you should do that in a creepy way, where you're just mimicking another person's breathing pattern. But noticing it, I think does tend to bring us at least into some form of synchrony with the other person, and I think it creates a certain level of intimacy. It seems to work.

So those are the tricks. Other than that, you gotta just pay attention and be receptive and acknowledge what other people are saying. Acknowledge its impact on you. Notice where it lands in your body, and tell them about it. You wanna just follow good practices for presencing yourself as you show up there in virtual digital intimacy with the other person.

Okay, so those are my quick hits for the week. I have kept this under 30 minutes, we're at 26 minutes right now. I appreciate your being here with me this week and it's always good to share time and space with you, and I'm looking forward to being with you next week when I think it's gonna be my interview with my friend, Mara Wells, the romance writer, pretty sure. And I do look forward to being with you. And in the meantime, take care stay healthy, take this seriously and we'll all get through this, we'll get through it by sticking together and helping each other out.

So please let me know how I can support you.

You can always write to me. My email address is neilius at neilsattin.com.

Or if you have a question for the show, just record yourself, asking it and email that to questions at a relationship alive.com - Sending you so much love, and blessings, and I will be with again soon. Take care.

Mar 14, 2020

How is coronavirus (COVID-19) impacting you? What are the implications of "social distancing" on your relationship - especially if you're cooped up together for weeks at a time? Or if you're single, how can you still enjoy dating while staying safe? In this week's episode, you'll get some strategies for taking care of yourself amidst the epidemic, with practical advice for staying calm - connected - and HEALTHY - while we weather the storm...together. Plus a few (mostly relevant) thoughts on "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Sending so much love to you!

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript

Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive.

This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today, we're going to talk about a topic that's been on my mind lately and perhaps it's been on yours. We're gonna talk about how the coronavirus Covid-19... How that is impacting us in our own lives and in our relationships. So whether you are solo or dating or in a relationship, or just looking for a better way to take care of yourself, we're gonna talk about the impact of what is happening in our world, today on us.

And how do you stay centered and grounded and connected through all of that?

So that is what is in store for today. I had something else planned. But sometimes you gotta just go with what is right there in front of you, and if this isn't in front of you already, it probably will be soon hopefully, and not hopefully not in a dire way, but let's be real. This is a serious issue that we're facing here in our world today, and I wanna be here to help support you through that.

Now, you might be able to hear that my voice is a little congested I've been fighting a cold.

I'm pretty sure that it is not the novel Coronavirus. So fingers crossed, but I don't have all the symptoms so my healthcare provider tells me that I should just drink lots of fluids, get some rest and stay the course. So, well, of course, keep you posted on that one, on and I'm just gonna start by sending some love and care to you, today, hoping that this virus doesn't impact you, and that it also doesn't impact people that you love.

And of course, all in all. I don't want it to impact anyone, and it is going to, on some level, so we're confronted with a situation that's not unlike other things that come up in life, where there's a reality in front of us and we get to decide how we are going to respond to it, and how we're gonna let it impact us, and also it gives us a chance to discover yet, again, what is in our control and what is not, and to make the best of what is in our control.

So today I'll be discussing specific strategies with you to help you get through love in this time of coronavirus. Okay, first things first, if you find yourself in close quarters with people that you love and care about, because you're going through some proactive social distancing.

Or in some sort of quarantine situation then it is extremely helpful to know how to communicate well and how to stay connected, even if you're communicating about things that are challenging.

And I've put together my top three ways to do that and a free guide for you called my relationship communication secrets.

And you can download that by just visiting neilsattin.com/relate or by texting the word "relate" to the number 33444 and following the instructions and the guide is free.

So I definitely suggest that you grab it, that you put those things into practice, and I, we will be having the final version of my secrets of relationship communication course that's going to be coming out again very soon. So keep an eye out for that and you will get notified if you download the free guide.

Just so you know.

Also, it takes a village, in so many ways and it takes a village to keep relationship alive going and I've really appreciated your generous support of relationship alive - the podcast, our mission. This is an offering for you to help you have the most successful, amazing relationships possible and if you're finding the show to be having a positive impact in your life, please consider a donation to help ensure that we can continue. You can choose anything that feels right for you and every little bit counts.

So this week, I would like to thank Sarah Dave Kendra Michael Michele Joseph Rana Holly Marie Timothy and Kona thank you all so much for your generous, in most of those cases ongoing, support of Relationship Alive.

And if you would like to make a contribution, all you have to do is visit neilsattin.com/support or text the word support to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

And speaking of support if you are looking for another way to expand the web of support that you have in your life, you can come join the relationship alive community on Facebook. It's free, and we are endeavoring to create a safe space for you to talk about your relationships, personal development and anything that impacts the ways that we connect with each other, the successes that we experience and the challenges as well.

So that's the relationship alive community on Facebook.

Okay, so let's dive in. And I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek with calling this episode, Love in the Time of Corona. It's obviously a reference to the novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And I read that book, way back in college.

Tell you the truth. I don't remember a lot about it, but I do remember that it covers the complexities of love and relationship, and long-term relationship, and there's a comparison between love and sickness. So there's this sense that we have that life is complicated and it's gonna be complicated no matter what. And the things that we sometimes think are true or easy or that we take for granted aren't always - Things are not always as they seem. And I think that was a central theme in the book, that there are things that you assume to be true, that actually end up not being true. And of course, it's a romantic novel that covers decades and decades of the lives of the two main protagonists. And the reason that I wanted to refer to it here is because we are in this position where we can't escape what is happening around us.

Whether you think it's all something that's being blown out of proportion or whether you think that it is something that may seriously impact you and the people that you love or whether you're just watching everything unfold, and waiting to see what is actually gonna happen, there's almost no way at this point that you can avoid the impacts of covid 19, the new Coronavirus on your life.

Big events are being cancelled, or postponed. At least, this has been a consideration for me because I'm working on doing my live show and bringing it to a major metropolitan area near you. And it's a little challenging to think about planning something like that, when there's so much uncertainty at the moment, about whether these large events are actually going to be happening.

So life is interesting right now and I have two young kids in school, I have a mother with a compromised immune system, I have a 97-year-old grandmother. So as I look at the landscape of life, there's a lot of ponder. And so, let's just cover some of the basics. This portion of the show is gonna be my public service announcement.

Essentially what we want to do is something that has been called flattening the curve. So maybe you've heard of that, and you know what I'm talking about, if you don't let me just tell you that what we are trying to do is slow the spread of this virus, by employing some measures that I'll be talking about in a moment, and the idea of slowing it is to, one, prevent our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed, like, is already happening in some parts of the world.

So, as much as possible, if we slow the spread of Corona then we are doing our part to help overall, the healthcare system, keep up with whatever demand this illness puts upon it, and of course also as long as we're able to delay the spread than our chances improve of a vaccine or a really effective treatment being discovered to help more people get through it.

So there are real practical reasons for doing this and it's important for all of us because even if you yourself feel like your immune system is fairly robust, and you're not worried about it, odds are that there are people, if not in your life, in the lives of people who are close to you who are at risk or could be impacted.

And so this really is one of those situations where it falls upon each of us to do our part for the greater good, so to not be cavalier about taking precautions and instead to do your part to flatten the curve to slow things down and to keep the coronavirus from reaching - if not yourself, or people you love, other people who are loved by people you know. So let's all pull together for this. That is my wish for you as you're listening.

And the things that we can do right now that we know of are relatively simple.

We can avoid really crowded spaces.

This is known as social distancing. So to spend more time, either in small groups or alone, if you have any signs of illness, to keep yourself away from other people until you know that you're in the clear... And of course, if things feel serious at all or like you are at risk, then definitely contact your doctor, and find a way to get tested, so that you can know what is going on and so you can take an appropriate course of action.

It's helpful to have a little stockpile of food and things so that you don't have to leave your house, if you can avoid it, and you don't wanna go overboard because we wanna make sure that there's enough to go around and it's likely that no matter what happens, grocery stores will be open and all of that. So the goal here is just to have enough to make sure that you're gonna be okay in your home and that you will have to leave as little as possible. And the purpose of doing that again is to slow the spread because sadly we can actually be carriers of Covid-19 without knowing it, without having any symptoms.

So if you're able to stay away from other people, for a couple of weeks, and that prevents you from catching something, or from inadvertently spreading something, then that is going to go a long way to helping our world beat this thing.

And then you've also probably heard, some of the basics. washing your hands frequently and not touching your face. Because the Covid-19 virus, it needs to get to your lungs and the way it does that is through your eyes, your nose or your mouth.

So if you keep your hands away for your face, and you wash your hands frequently, then you should be just fine or you will at least be doing the best that you can to prevent the spread of this illness. And at the moment we do not believe that wearing a mask is a very effective way of preventing yourself from getting the virus.

And people stockpiling masks is actually creating a problem in the health care industry because our doctors and nurses and first responders, don't have the masks that they need. So maybe you wanna have a couple on hand just in case but other than that, probably better to ensure that masks can get to where they're needed most with the people on the front lines of fighting this thing.

They do recommend that people who have the flu or have coronavirus that they wear a mask, and that is mainly to prevent or cut down on the chances of spreading the illness to other people. So, masks aren't a terribly effective way to keep yourself from getting it as far as we know, but they are a good way of not spreading it to other people.

Of course, if you are being diagnosed with this, then you are probably gonna be getting much more thorough advice than you're getting from me, and I'm not a doctor. So let me just be upfront that anything that I say here, I would love for you to take it with a grain of salt.

Please do your own research online if you need to. I've been doing a lot of reading on this topic, so I feel pretty confident in the recommendations that I'm making but I'm not a doctor.

So if you have any concerns at all, I recommend that you check with a doctor or check with the latest recommendations from your local health service, and hopefully all of our health services all over the world are being really proactive in getting that information out. Okay, so that's the public service announcement part but now let's get into the nitty gritty of why we're here, which is three-fold, really. One is how to help yourself with what is going on in the world and how to deal with potentially the anxiety or worry or fear that you're experiencing, if you are experiencing it or if you are in blissful ignorance. Maybe we should talk about that for just a moment or two more. So that's the first part. The second part is, I wanna talk about when you are in a close relationship with someone, so if you are home more or less, working from home or in self-quarantine or social distancing. With your partner, and your kids, 'cause potentially, they are home from school.

So then odds are, you are gonna be around each other a lot more than you are used to. And so we'll talk about some special considerations for that.

And finally, I want to talk about those few or those of us who are dating and who are not necessarily in a single love relationship, and the implications of what is going on on finding love, and developing love. So those are the three main bases, that I wanna cover today.

As usual we'll start with the self and self-care because that is so important for keeping your feet on the ground, keeping your wits about you and keeping your heart centered as you move through this time.

So I'm not gonna make any assumptions about what this has been like for you. I'll just say that for me, it's been noticeable. I told you a little bit about a few moments ago that my mother has a compromised immune system, my grandmother is 97. they are in groups that are statistically at very high risk for not only getting the coronavirus, but also it potentially killing them.

And that's scary for me, and I've spent a lot of time - the way that I tend to deal with uncertainty is through research, so reading and reading and reading, and that's partly how this podcast came to be because I had my own struggles in relationships that I had witnessed in my own relationships, and so I dove into the details, because that's what I do and I... My hope is that that is a benefit for you, but that doesn't mean that you have to do it, you may have your own way of coping. And I think the first thing is just to acknowledge that it's very possible that whatever your experience is, that you are, below at all, experiencing some stress, so whether that stress is anxiety and worry and fear or anger at people for blowing this way out of proportion or whatever it is, no matter how stressed you are, that stress is something worth confronting and doing something about, because stress suppresses our immune system for one thing. So the more that you you can confront your stress and bring yourself into balance, the better off you will be when it comes to just having a system that can fight whatever is going on in the world around you, whether that just be a cold or Coronavirus and it also is gonna help you show up better for other people in your life.

There's nothing like trying to interact with the world, or trying to move through a stressful situation or conflict with another person when you yourself are stressed and dysregulated, so there's never been a better time for you to establish a routine of checking in with yourself, how are you doing? And you could start with something with a broad strokes, like maybe every time you brush your teeth, which is perhaps two or three times a day you use that as an opportunity, a reminder that you should check in with yourself, and ask "How am I doing, what am I feeling right now, where do I notice that in my body?"

"Does it make sense? Does it make sense with everything that's going on in my life?" To start doing this as a way of regularly taking your emotional pulse so that you can have a sense of what's really happening with you, and what if anything needs to be addressed. If you notice that you are feeling something in particular - anxiety, fear, sadness, confusion, then it's worth taking an extra step in asking yourself "What is that the root of that?"

And is there something I can do like "what aspect of this can I control and what aspects of this can I not control?"

And of the aspects that you can control, then you might ask yourself, "Well, what can I do to improve that thing?"

So if you're feeling uncertain, then maybe there are things you can do to get more certainty. If you're feeling disconnected or you're alone, then what can you do to reach out and connect? If you're feeling nervous for another person in your life, then what can you do to reach out to them and tell them that you care about them?

Right? These are all just simple ways of being proactive around noticing your emotional state and taking care of yourself to hopefully bring yourself back into balance: noticing your breathing, noticing your physical state, your physiological state and letting that also indicate for you how you're doing, and if there's something that needs to be addressed.

So you might think that you're totally fine but if you check in with your body, you notice like, "Oh my heart's pounding or... Oh, I'm kinda sweaty."

Well, those might be signs of stress or something going on and if you do notice those things, then what can you do?

So can you just take a moment to breathe? Can you fix yourself a cup of tea?

Can you call a friend, someone that you care about and who cares about you?

Can you spend a little time with a pet, and just pet your dog or your cat or... My daughter really wants me to get her a little pigmy bunny. So I'm thinking about that. If you have a pigmy maybe spend a little time with your bunny just petting the bunny. I gotta think that that soft little bunny might help you calm down a little bit if you need that, and if you're feeling angry at whatever is happening in the world, then this is also a great time for you to look within and ask yourself, "What is it about this that's making you angry?"

What are the places where you feel like your power is being taken from you? Your system is responding with intelligence to that - your system is responding and saying "No. Take that power back. I'm angry."

Again, there will be aspects of this that you can impact and there will be things that you cannot impact but no matter what, getting to know yourself better, getting to know what's going on within you better and figuring out where you can be proactive to keep yourself regulated to move through and out of your stress, those are things that will help you, yourself in whatever is going on in the world and it will help you show up for the world and the other people around you, so that is taking care of yourself, also. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, take Elderberry, vitamin C, just whatever you can do to keep your immune system bolstered and ready along with keeping yourself calm.

So I do want to change gears a little bit and talk about the impact of Corona on our relationships and on our dating life.

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Okay, so let's get back to the next step in our conversation, which is about how Coronavirus is potentially gonna impact us in our relationships.

And there are few obvious ways when I mentioned already, which is the potential to be cooped up with people for a long period of time and just to be aware that in and of itself can cause stress and tension and then potentially, if anyone, you know, or as close to you get sick or if you get sick then that is another way that this could impact you.

So let's talk a little bit about just the stress of being cooped up with other people more than anything. I think our mantra today should be to be kind and generous with each other to be compassionate and understanding.

So if you find that someone else is getting snappy with you to remind yourself that they are probably going through some stress right now and to not take it personally as much as possible, and if you, yourself, are feeling irritable, or challenged by something that someone else is doing then you might even speak it out loud, just like, "Hey I just want you to know that I'm really stressed or I'm exhausted or this is really challenging for me, and so I know I'm being unpleasant" or "I know I'm being argumentative, or I know I'm snapping back at you, and I just want you to know that it's not personal, it's what's happening with me."

So as much as you can take responsibility for your state of mind and state of heart and state of being with the other people around you, that is one way to really help them feel connected to you and to your experience.

And you might check in with the others too like "Hey how are you doing? It's been five minutes since we've talked to each other."

"Can I just check in with you and see how you are?"

And if you are with loved ones and relatively safe and isolated then... And you've washed your hands, then it's probably totally fine for you to give each other back rubs or foot rubs and to be loving with each other as much as you can.

And if you've been going through a challenging time in your relationship, then this could be extra stressful for you. That seems obvious to me right now. There are those miraculous moments where times get tough and we band together and it helps us get past things that seem like a big deal, but when it comes right down to it, you realize that it's not such a big deal. So potentially, there are those kinds of things that are going on in your relationship, that are creating challenge and this helps you kinda put everything in perspective. That could be a good thing, and... this could also exacerbate things. So I invite you to just one to acknowledge that that is a possibility, if that is something that you're going through to recognize - Okay, things have been challenging, it might get more challenging and then you can develop a strategy for yourself - a plan around how to best safeguard yourself from it getting more challenging.

So if there are things that you know are particular triggers for you with this other person or ways that you trigger them, then you might take special care to not trigger the other person and to create safe boundaries around yourself, to keep your tender spots from being poked at and triggered as well.

You might also with your significant other, say something like, "Hey let's just acknowledge that things have been challenging between us and maybe we could agree to just put all of that aside right now and just band together for this, for what's happening in our world right now" - it's another possibility.

Generally, the best thing is for you to be open about your experience, and what concerns you. In fact, you might even say something to your partner, like "hey, things have been to tough with us, recently. I'm a little nervous about us being in the same space a lot because of what's going on in the world. Are you nervous about that?"

"Are there things do you think that we could do to help keep things light and spacious with us to help us be positive through all of this, and not make things worse?"

If you can enlist the other person and speak to the truth of what is, then that also increases your chances of getting through with flying colors, and I encourage you to do that as well and in the end, if you need to, I encourage you to take space and this can be a very useful strategy for everyone who is sharing space together: if you are sharing space to work out a system for when anyone can say, "Hey I need a time out for myself," and where that time out and space is granted so that you or the other person can have some moments alone to recharge.

And so, yeah, I encourage you to work those things out ahead of time, if possible, so that you're heading it off at the pass and you're being proactive, and that way those conversations will have happened so that you can make space for other more important conversations that may come up during all of this time.

Now, if you are single or solo let's move along, I guess. And of course, if you have specific questions around this stuff, you can always record yourself asking the question, and send it to me - the email addresses: questions@relationshipalive.com.

So, if you're single, or solo or dating like what do you do in your circumstances? Well, here, a few things that come to mind. The first is that there's potential for you to be extremely isolated, and that isn't necessarily healthy either. Being completely isolated will theoretically prevent you from getting the coronavirus. But it might be really psychologically challenging to be that isolated. So this is a time where I would encourage you to find ways to stay connected. There are great freeways... to drive your car on. But what I really mean is, there are great free... ways that you can stay connected with other people. If you have internet access or a phone, you can do a Google Hangout or FaceTime or Skype calls. I really love the video conferencing technologies. In fact, most of my clients that I see, and I see clients all over the world, we do that using Zoom or Skype, and I'm so used to it now that it really feels as though we are in the same room with each other. And so I encourage you to reach out to other people, to not just get isolated in your home, but to find ways to reach out and connect using technology, using whatever technology is available to you.

And if you don't have a phone and you don't have a computer, then of course I'm wondering how you're listening to this podcast, but you could always sit on your stoop outside - and if you're out in the fresh air or the odds are pretty good that you're not going to catch Coronavirus and that someone walking by would not catch it, from you or give it to you and you could just say "hello" to people who are walking by. Just be friendly and just ask people how they're doing, and you can point out.

"I don't wanna shake your hand, or give you a hug, but I just wanted to check in with people in the world and see how you are doing" and you may be surprised you might make someone's day, by simply saying, "Hey how are you? This is all pretty weird, isn't it, that we're going through?" Because most of us have never had to go through something like this in our lives, not all of us. So if you have gone through this, perhaps you even have expertise that you can lend to those of us who... For whom this is new and scary and confusing? This is a good time for you to speak up and lend your expertise to the occasion.

So, that's combating social isolation - even though we want to be doing social distancing. In order to flatten the curve.

Now, what about actual dating? Could you or should you be going out on dates in the current climate?

You know I'm inclined to say probably not right now, at least not until we really have a better sense of what is happening and really how Covid-19 spreads and we have consistent testing so that we really know for sure whether or not we are a carrier, someone else that we are going on on a date with... is a carrier.

It's not too unlike the conversations that you need to have around STDS before you have sex with someone. Hopefully, you are having a conversation that goes over your risk factors. "Have you been tested? Have you had anything before?"

"When was the last time you were tested? Have you had any risky behaviors?"

So when you go out on a date with someone and they say, "Oh well, I went to the whatever concert last night." Well, that might be a risk factor. So, the beautiful thing about this is that whatever you're doing to date, and I'm assuming that you're using technology of some sort at this point 'cause it's almost unavoidable in the modern dating landscape, then this becomes a great way to slow things down and really get to know other people.

So spending a little bit more time with your texting or chatting back and forth, your IMing, having a virtual date so you can use FaceTime, and make yourself a cup of tea and have the other person make themselves a cup of tea and you can sit down and sip tea and get to know each other just as if you were there in the coffee shop and I... One thing that's especially interesting about this is, with practice you can learn to really tune in to the other person, even though you're not there in the same space with them, you can really tune in and get a sense for who they are as a person.

And on top of that, even if you're not there in person with each other - think of all the times that when you've been in relationship if you have been in a relationship, how important it is to be able to communicate when you're not together, so whether that be through texting or talking on the phone or Skyping or whatever, it's actually helpful to know that that's a medium that you can operate in with your potential partner and what better way to know than by actually doing it, and doing it a lot and getting some good practice at it. So you may be having a little less sex than you used to, if you're a single person and you're out and about... But I think that overall, that is probably worth it, for your safety and your prospective partner's safety, unless you are absolutely positively sure that neither of you is that risk - in which case meet up and have fun. But I do encourage you to take advantage of the virtual spaces, and to take some risks around talking or hopping on a video call of some sort so that you can get to know someone more deeply without necessarily having to do it face-to-face, either at the coffee shop or in the bedroom. There will be a time for that, for sure.

And no matter what, taking the time to really get to know a person will help you make better choices than if you're going by chemistry alone because when you meet up with someone, and it feels really good and you connect with them right away, that doesn't always go so well, because you may not have done the due diligence required to ensure that someone is actually an appropriate partner for you. And gauging whether or not someone is appropriate for you to be dating is usually a much longer process that involves finding out a lot more about who they are and how they respond to you and how you respond to them.

And when you have all that dopamine and oxytocin flowing because you're just going to town in the bedroom, then it can seriously cloud your perception and your judgment.

So this is going to be a boon. I predict that there are gonna be all kinds of really strong relationships that emerge from this period of time when we were forced to spend a little bit more time apart and get to know each other a little better.

As always, I could talk about this for a long, long time, but I hope that whether you're single or in a relationship, or just thinking about how to maintain your own self-care during this time, that you've found something valuable in today's episode, and one thing you might wanna do is catch up on other podcast episodes or do some reading. And next week, we're gonna have a really fun interview with someone who's an old friend of mine actually, who is a romance author.

We're gonna talk about what we can learn from romance novels about love and relationships, and desire - and it may not surprise you to know that we can learn an awful lot!

So we have that conversation coming up next week, with Mara Wells. In the meantime, I am sending so much love and care and courage and calmness and health your way and just know that I am thinking of you and that we will all get through this, we will and I'm here for you... So thank you for spending this time with me today, and I look forward to you being with you again next week.

Take care.

And be safe.

Mar 5, 2020

What turns you on, and what turns you off? How do you get past the messages about sex that have been handed to you by others - to discover your own personal sexuality that emerges from within? How do you own your deepest desires - and then communicate them to your partner in a way that stands the best chance of having them be realized? In today’s episode, we’re having a return visit from Dr. Alexandra Solomon, author of the new book Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want. Our conversation will help you take your intimacy to a whole new level, so that your relationships can be satisfying in and out of the bedroom.

And, as always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. 

Join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it! 

Also - check out our first episode with Alexandra Solomon about her first book, Loving Bravely (Episode 142).

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources: 

Check out Alexandra Solomon's website

Read Alexandra Solomon’s latest book: Taking Sexy Back

Read Alexandra Solomon’s other book, Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

www.neilsattin.com/sexy Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Alexandra Solomon.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Let's talk some more about sex today, and I think it's really important, if for no other reason than the statistic that I'm pulling out of the book written by today's guest, that when you have a successful sex life with your partner, that accounts for say 15-20% of your overall happiness quotient. I'm sure I'm not using the exact term there, but when you have a dissatisfying sexual life with your partner, that can account for 50-75% of your dissatisfaction in your marriage, if I got that statistic right.

Neil Sattin: So, just think about that for a minute. If you're unhappy in the way that you're connecting sexually with your partner, or with your partners, then that's going to cause potentially a lot of distress for you. And what's at the root often of our dissatisfaction is the very foundation that we have, the way that we see ourselves as sexual beings, the way we operate in the world, the scripts that have been handed us and that we're enacting either consciously or unconsciously, or that we're trying to live up to, that can so often be a source of, not only unhappiness, but the sense of disconnection from who you actually are as a sexual being in the world, and that brings with it a whole host of things like shame or even just questions, self-judgment, and ultimately, potentially dissatisfaction in terms of your relationships.

Neil Sattin: So, let's tackle this head on and talk about how to reclaim and restructure who you are as a sexual being with today's esteemed guest. She's been with us on the show before, her name is Dr Alexandra Solomon, she's a professor at Northwestern and also a clinical psychologist who works with individuals and couples. Last time she was here, she was talking about her book, Loving Bravely, and if you wanna hear that episode, you can visit www.neilsattin.com/bravely and it is episode number 142, if you're just flipping through your podcast app. And she's here today to talk about her new book, which is called Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want. It's a book written primarily for women and, at the same time, it has so much valuable stuff in it in terms of no matter where you are on the gender spectrum to reframe how you think about your sexuality and how you reclaim it for yourself.

Neil Sattin: As usual, we will have a transcript for today's episode. You can download it by visiting www.neilsattin.com/sexy. That one's not gonna be hard to remember. And as always, you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. So let's dive right in, Alexandra Solomon. It's such a treat to have you back with us here on Relationship Alive.

Alexandra Solomon: It's so nice to be with you, thank you.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, let's talk... Let's just first unearth, there's something unusual about Taking Sexy Back, which is that you've taken the word sexy and you've made it a noun, and I'm wondering if you can explain what I'm even talking about and maybe explain your choice around that so that it will make sense as we move through this conversation.

Alexandra Solomon: Yes, so one of the first central ideas in this book is that there is a world of difference between being sexy and being sexual, so women have been taught and trained to either be sexy or to be afraid of being sexy, of being too sexy, not sexy enough, and that for women that word is oftentimes a question. Do you find me sexy? It's a question posed in the gaze of another, and when that is the lens through which one experiences one's sexuality, then sex becomes a performance, a sort of earning of that sense that you find me worthy, adequate, good, and it's different than being sexual. Sexual is a cultivation from the inside of my own connection with the erotic that I generate within me and then share with a partner. And so, in this book, we are taking sexy back, we're taking back the idea of sexy, and it becomes, as you said, a noun. So this book really is couple's therapy between the reader and her sexy, her sexuality, her sexual self. And the questions are: How well do you know that aspect of you? Do even know that is an aspect of you? What is that aspect of you wanting, yearning, in what ways is it hurting, and what needs to be kind of unearthed and processed? So, throughout the book, it is about really understanding and listening from within to that part of self that I think women are typically told really isn't theirs or shouldn't be looked at; good girls don't look at that. So, it's a reframing, and as you're saying, it's a reclamation, a taking back.

Neil Sattin: Right, and you talk about that being torn. And this is probably familiar for a lot of people who are listening, that you can be torn between wanting to really own your sexuality, but if you do that too much, then that also creates a shift potentially in how people see you, and so there's this burden of like how do you own your sexuality without it stigmatizing you?

Alexandra Solomon: Exactly, right. That sort of razor-thin line between being perceived as prudish and being, God forbid, slutty. So this sort of razor-thin line that, again, keeps a woman from connecting with herself. It becomes this sort of question of how am I being perceived. And the moment that's the focus, it cuts us off from being able to experience pleasure, experience mindfulness, articulate a boundary that is really from a place of truth rather than fear, and so then the entire possibility of cultivating a sex life that is healing, rewarding, connecting, uplifting, life-affirming is impossible 'cause there's no foundation to start from.

Neil Sattin: Right. Can you just talk for a minute about where this book was born from? And maybe the ways that you've seen women confront problems in terms of being disconnected from their sexuality? From their sexy? And what that process of reclamation looks like for them?

Alexandra Solomon: This book was born from a number of places. It was born from, I think, the way in which in my training as a licensed clinical psychologist and a couples therapist, I think the models that I was taught, were that when you're sitting with a couple, help them talk more nicely to each other, help them argue less, and then the sex will follow. You don't have to directly talk about sex. And there's a way in which that paradigm reinforced, I think, a message that I carried within me for a long time, that sex is not a polite topic. It really shouldn't be talked about or looked at, and if you're curious about it, something is wrong with you. So I think there were ways in which that message from my field kind of reinforced what I had done to myself my whole life, of just feeling like I'm feeling simultaneously fascinated by this entire world and topic, and then feeling like that wasn't really polite [chuckle] to be interested in or fascinated about. And so my own evolution of wanting to integrate love and sex within the work I do with couples, within my own life, and then just the work that I've done at Northwestern with graduate students and undergraduate students and being smacked again and again with my awareness of how inadequate sex education in our country is.

Alexandra Solomon: And how my students are sitting in front of me and I would give a lecture in my Marriage 101 course about sex, and basically invite them into this idea that sex is simultaneously a behavior, it's a thing that we do, instead of erotically-charged behaviors, and it's also this really powerful gateway into some of the most profound longings and questions that we have as humans. And just even that notion was radical to many of my students who had only ever talked about sex as something that is dangerous, dirty, forbidden, fearful, or titillating, and really central, but not this sort of whole-hearted aspect of self and aspect of relationship, and so all of that kind of created this. And I think, also, the fact that we are living through this massive upheaval around gender and power with the Me Too Movement. And so I think it was this coming together of all of this where this book basically wouldn't leave me alone. [chuckle] Like, I felt like I chose to write Loving Bravely, and I felt like this book was like, "Are you ready now? Can we go now? Can you just... " And it became easier to just sit down and create the table of contents than it was to just keep forestalling it.

Neil Sattin: Right, right, but yeah...

[overlapping conversation]

Alexandra Solomon: It felt really urgent. It felt really urgent to me.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And I think that's so true. I'm so glad your book was birthed and is... And by the time you're listening to this interview, it will be out. It's coming out February 2nd, Groundhog's Day of 2020. So you'll be able to get it. And yeah, it is such an important conversation because those scripts that have been handed to us around sexuality and the ways that our lack of education has gotten in the way, perhaps, of really getting in touch with who we are sexually, and not having a culturally accepted way of just exploring together 'cause so much sexuality has to happen behind closed doors and often in secret. We pretend it's not happening, but it's obviously happening. And so inviting the conversation into the public space, and one thing that I really love about your book, Taking Sexy Back, is that you explore all of these different dimensions of connecting into who you are as a sexual being. And each of those is a great gateway into understanding yourself in a new way, and then stepping forward into sexual connection with others with that new knowledge.

Alexandra Solomon: Yes, exactly, exactly. And it's not about, like there is... In the book we really are looking at, as you're saying, these scripts and these highly gendered scripts. And it's not about blaming or finger pointing or, God forbid, male bashing or any of that. It's not that at all. The ways in which we're given these gendered messages cut all of us off from living wholeheartedly and fully. I just couldn't tackle all of it in one book, but you could speak to this like as a boy and a man. Boys and men are given horrific messages around their own sexuality. And it's what drives me crazy about these dress code laws that schools are... Rules that schools will do. This idea that girls' shorts have to be this length and girls' tank tops straps have to be this width.

Alexandra Solomon: And one of the things it does is it reinforces this idea, this message to boys, that your sexuality is so dangerous and so out of control that the world has to be protected from you or from the power of your sexual energy, versus teaching boys that they, sure, erotic energy courses through you but here's how you ground it and here's how you harness it, and here's how you boundary it, and here's how you treat it with respect. And if those were the tools that we gave to boys... I think that's just... I don't know. I haven't grown up in this lifetime in the masculine, so I didn't have those messages, but I don't know what that does. And that was the early messages that you were given, was this fear of being perceived as creepy or dangerous. I just think it's all problematic and it keeps people coming... Whether it's male bodies or female bodies or one of each coming together, it keeps those bodies from coming together in a way where each person can feel integrated and ready to step into that space of intimacy and closeness.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I mean that's why I think your book is a valuable resource for whoever on the... Wherever you are on the spectrum. I did find myself reading it and nodding for each chapter and being like, "Yeah, guys need this just as much." And that's been definitely a journey for me as an adult has been reclaiming my own desires, my end, and where those things emerge at different places on the spectrum as well. In what you were just describing, I was just thinking about, yeah, how men in many cases need to learn how to be in touch with their bodies and with receptivity in sex and really being attuned and because they're so conditioned to be pursuers and achievers throughout life, but definitely in the sexual realm as well. And for women, I think part of that reclaiming is also being willing to engage in seizing your desire and owning it and being willing to do that just like any guy would. And we're wrestling, of course, with what's culturally acceptable, back to the very first thing we were talking about. But how beautiful it can be when two people come together and each person owns who they are, what they want, what their fears are, what their desires are, what feels good, what doesn't feel good, and when they can do it in a way that doesn't judge the other. I mean, we all need that when we're in the bedroom.

Alexandra Solomon: That's right, that's right, that's right. And it makes sense that we have gotten stuck because the information has gotten stuck. One of the things that was so interesting in the research for the book was to look at this book couldn't have been written 20 years ago because we've had a burgeoning of science around female sexuality. So we, for years, remain willfully ignorant about female sexual anatomy even. So medical anatomy textbooks would blur out the clitoris and it wasn't fully mapped, fully imaged until really, really recently, like 20 years ago recently. So it was the clitoris was thought of as this little button when, in fact, it's this larger structure that extends deep into the body and the potential for pleasure is incredible. In fact, that's the only job that the clitoris has is pleasure. And so, what might be different if a woman came into her sexuality knowing that and honoring it, and what if then sexual scripts were built to really honor that part of a woman's body in a way that the traditional heterosexual script, which we as a culture have really held up one particular sex act, we've held up penetrative sex as the most sex in sort of this hierarchy of sex acts.

Alexandra Solomon: We learn it on the playground in elementary school, first base and second base and third base and home run. So this whole kind of script around how far you're trying to get and how far you're going with this goal being penetrative sex, which the research shows tends to not be the most orgasm producing part of the realm of sexual behaviors because it's not the most... It doesn't maximize clitoral stimulation potentially. For some women it does, for others it doesn't. But just this idea that if we only have one story line, what are we limiting for any of the bodies in the bedroom? As you're saying, men exploring receptivity and not having to be in charge and not having to perform and having their own... Being not so limited by the ideas of what they ought to be doing in the bedroom and... So just the opportunity to deconstruct all of that and challenge it and push back a little bit is really important and really healing.

Alexandra Solomon: And that's what we found. I had this amazing team of graduate students and undergraduate students with me as we were researching and writing, and we moved through a lot of sadness, a lot of anger at the limits that have been put on people's experiences. And then to connect the loop back to what you said in the beginning, that it affects our relationships. If we can't cultivate erotic connection in our intimate relationships, they're going to suffer. Having a really fun sex life kind of buffers a couple against the storms and the annoyances and the irritations of partnership.

Neil Sattin: Right, right. Just one thing that came up for me about that question of anatomy and how we've learned that. I did wanna mention for you listening, that way back, this is one of my earliest episodes, episode 23, we had Sheri Winston on the show, she wrote Women's Anatomy of Arousal. So that's another great doorway into this question of how does feminine sexuality work and also what is literally happening, like what parts are there to work with and to enjoy? So it's so important to increase your awareness of what's there and how it operates and to not be driven by old stories, like the love button, or what you see in porn, which is, again, occasionally informative, but it's not designed to be informative generally. So there are some genres of porn that are probably better for what we're talking about here. But that's probably not the majority of them at this moment. You'd have to seek it out, I would think. The feminist porn and...

Alexandra Solomon: Exactly, exactly. Right. At the back of the book, there's a resource guide and we did include some feminist, ethical, carefully curated erotic places for erotic materials. 'Cause, right. You're right. You can't paint it with a broad brush. But it's a very different era of erotic materials. We're living in free streaming 24/7 porn. And a lot of it isn't, as you're saying, created with intentionality in mind and really honoring the science of women's bodies, the realities of women's bodies. And that can be another then force of restriction, that it looks like I should like this behavior and I don't like this behavior. How do I reconcile that? And often times the way we reconcile it is thinking something's wrong with us. Feeling ashamed.

Neil Sattin: Right. You mentioned someone in your book that you were working with who really wanted to like hook-up culture. And she came to you with this mission of there's something going on. Like this culture surrounds me, and maybe would it be helpful if you explain what you mean by hook-up culture versus conscious, casual sex culture or all the different possibilities there. But you talk about how she was really unhappy and came to you wanting to figure out if there was a way to be happy in that world. So let's start there maybe.

Alexandra Solomon: Sure. So hook-up culture is a term that we associate oftentimes with college campuses and the idea that oftentimes physical intimacy, sexual intimacy comes first and then emotional intimacy is retrofitted, so that people are finding each other sexually. Oftentimes, hook-ups are alcohol-fueled, not a ton of communication. And there's a sense, there's sort of an aura or a sense or a feeling that you should like it. You should like that and you kinda have to like it. And in fact, it's the only pathway into intimate relationship. And so the student was... In the first book, we work with a name, connect, chose, process. So she's trying so hard to use this change process to make herself go from hating hook-ups. In fact, she would hook up with a guy at a party and then go home and wash her lips or anywhere he had touched her.

Alexandra Solomon: Just felt really dirty and awful. And so she was trying so hard to move, what she thought she needed to do is move through the discomfort, so she'd get good at this thing that in her mind, and I think in the minds of lots of young people, you should be good at, like you should be able to do this. The idea is that it is sexual liberation or it just is necessary, it's what you have to do. What I wanted her to do really was honor the wisdom of her body. Her body was communicating to her so clearly; feeling her lips were numb afterwards. The data could not be clearer that she was really overriding something powerful inside of her body. And in fact, the research around hook-up culture shows that young people are tolerating it, but not really reveling in it, not really deeply, deeply enjoying it. It just feels like it's a necessary pathway.

Alexandra Solomon: But I do make a distinction between hooking up and then conscious, casual sex, 'cause there are times in a person's life where that really might be a beautiful, healing, necessary time. But what it has to be founded with... Create a foundation of an understanding of where are our boundaries, what are we both interested in, what are we each available for. So a really lovely, conscious, casual, sexual experience needs to have that kind of co-created understanding of what's the space that we're entering into. And so we spend a lot of time in the book helping people just feel entitled to understanding their own motivation and distinguishing that and the choice of fear versus love. "I choose to hook up 'cause I'm afraid there's nothing else for me," or "I'm afraid I am weird if I don't like hooking up," versus love, "Choosing something 'cause I really want it. It feels great to me. It's a space of learning and healing and play and escape."

Neil Sattin: Right, right. I've enjoyed your framing of it in the book. At first it kinda jarred me. I was like, "Oh, no. You're taking a stand for love. Like sex has to be about love? What are you talking about, Alexandra?"

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: But then, what you just explained, that if we're talking about the paradigm that we operate from and are we choosing things because we're afraid that if we say no to sex with this person in this moment, we're gonna suffer some consequence, versus being in a more love-centered place where you're focused on what brings you joy in the world and what enlivens you. Yeah, I would love for every single person to have those kinds of experiences be the foundation of how they connect with other people sexually.

Alexandra Solomon: Right, right.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Alexandra Solomon: And sometimes we don't know until we know. So in the book, we also talk about FGOs, which I call these fucking growth opportunities, where it's just like, "Oh, that is not my best pathway". Sometimes we have to do it in a way that leaves us feel... That's just... And so I think around sexuality, around this unfolding story of who we are sexually, there has to be a ton of self-compassion. Just a lot of gentleness about, "Okay, so that didn't work for me. What do I wanna learn from that and what do I want to know going forward?"

Neil Sattin: Right, right. Yeah, can we just give everyone in this moment the permission to make mistakes? And I'm making the little quotey things around "mistakes" because I think what you're pointing to is that most of these things aren't actual mistakes, they are opportunities that we have to learn about ourselves. And there is that aspect of sexuality where there are some things that you're only gonna learn relationally, you're only gonna learn it when you're with another person and experiencing something. It can't all happen... A lot can happen in the privacy of your room. But not all... Not all of it.

Alexandra Solomon: That's right. That's right.

Neil Sattin: So that being said, let's dive in a little bit to what can we do on our own? What are some of those gateways that we were talking about earlier? And physical, developmental, emotional, mental. So, I'm thinking of those pathways in so that everyone listening can have a sense of like, "Alright, how do I enter into this way of reclaiming who I am sexually?" What are some places to start?

Alexandra Solomon: Right. I think, so the reason that I organized the book the way that I did, with these seven different realms, is that we have different... We all have different journeys, we all have different places where we get locked up, so our work is to find areas where we feel blocked, constrained, where shame lives, where inhibition lives, where fear lives. And it might be different for different people, like on my team. So, one of the seven realms is spirituality. For some people, their early religious training, they receive shame loaded messages that can really, really get in the way of feeling permission to just be who you are, as you are. And so, for one member of my team, the work on that chapter was very, very powerful for her. She identified a lot of ways in which she was felt hurt by her early religious training, how it created shame inside of her. And for another gal, who grew up in China without any religion, it really didn't speak to her. She could kind of resonate with this idea of sex as being a spiritual experience, and being something that is sort of transcendent and can tap us into those big feelings of whatever, one-ness, and...

Neil Sattin: Yeah, union.

Alexandra Solomon: Connection to... Yeah, but that was... For her, that was more about nature rather than anything we had to do with a spirituality or a religion. So, but another chapter for her was really where she identified that her shame loaded stories lived. And so, there are these seven different realms where we may find some work that we need to do to kind of identify a block and then heal it. So, that was why we organized the book the way the way that we do, 'cause we're just... There's so much diversity in how we show up sexually and what's challenging for us. And I think for a lot of us, the chapter about physical was important because what's clear is sometimes body image stuff can get in the way. We're in, we've got a great partner, we have a partner who is ready to connect with us and create experiences that are pleasurable, and we end up locked in our own heads because we are very, very, very self-critical about our bodies. And that makes sense because there are entire industries that I built on selling us the idea that we are not thin enough, fit enough, whatever enough, and those messages come with us into the bedroom, especially when we're naked and exposed and feeling vulnerable. And so, that can... Those scripts in our... The tapes that play in our head about our hips, or our stomach, whatever it is, sort of body image ones can be a source of inhibition and can really block a sense that we're entitled to feeling good in the bodies that we live in.

Neil Sattin: So, let's just assume that almost everyone has something about their body that is like that for them. Where would we start? What kinds of questions would we ask? Or how would we get to the heart of the ways that we feel shame about our physical bodies and take some new steps around that?

Alexandra Solomon: I think it can be helpful to develop that kind of a critical eye towards realizing that these messages about our bodies are designed to make us feel insecure so that we buy a product or do a thing that we sort of then, when we just mind mindlessly internalize that message, we are perpetuating that whole cycle. So, there's a way in which a sort of a feminist consciousness can inoculate us against those messages so that when the thought comes up in our heads, we can let it go and come back to something that is more self-compassionate. I think mindfulness... So, the researcher who wrote the forward to the book, Dr. Lori Brotto was based in Canada, and she was really troubled by this finding that almost half of women, especially partnered women, struggle with low sexual desire, and she created a mindfulness training program. She simply taught women mindfulness skills and then invited them to use those skills in the bedroom. So, sometimes it's as simple as noticing the thought come up. "How do my hips look right now?" for example. And then just knowing, "Oh, that's a thought. That's a thought." And sort of letting it pass over and then coming back to sensation. So, mindfulness can be a really powerful tool towards helping us notice a troubling thought, and then let it go and come back to, "I'm entitled to this. I'm entitled to feeling good. I'm allowed to feel good in this body that I live in". And that can be a helpful shift.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah and you're pointing to a degree of presence in the bedroom. I love how we keep talking about the bedroom, 'cause it could be the kitchen or the living room or a public park. Take precautions if there are cops around, be careful. But you have to be able to stay within you and to notice what's actually happening for you in a moment like that. So, maybe some of these things around body image are even easier, at least initially, privately, just in front of a mirror, which I think for some of us can also be challenging, to stand in front of a mirror naked and look at yourself and take in the whole picture.

Alexandra Solomon: Right, right. Yeah. And just... There's a way in which I think it's really helpful to grieve, to grieve that I have been doing this around my body for so many years. Or to feel really... Let ourselves feel really sad that the only way... There's a beautiful poem in the book by Holly Holden that is just basically an invitation to just being really gentle with our body, really honoring it as this physical home, the source of delight, of sensation, of connection, and I think that's a practice. My gosh, I think that's a practice and I don't think we're ever done. I think those old stories about how we should look, and then whatever we think we've figured out, we get a little older and the body changes. It's like this constant journey towards self love isn't done, but I think we can get... We can start to get savvier about noticing that I'm doing that to myself again.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, I have an interesting story about that. Something that happened with me recently, that's actually not about sex at all, but realizing a place where I had internalized some beliefs. I've spoken a bit on the show, off and on, about my own tendencies to be a little chaotic in terms of how I keep house. And I had this realization that every time I saw a pile of something, that I would have an internal message that would say, "There's something wrong with you." Just that pile means there's something wrong with you that you cannot keep your... And it might be a pile all of amazing books that I'm reading for the podcast, but the fact that it's there and these books aren't in my bookshelf or whatever it is. And what a difference it has made to me since realizing that, of seeing a pile and simply saying, "There's nothing wrong with you." Like, this pile doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. And in fact, and I think this is the turn towards self-compassion, it's like, in fact, there's nothing wrong with you. Look at all these amazing books that you have to read, just to use that example.

Neil Sattin: So, being able to look in the mirror and look and see your hips, or whatever part of your body it is, and say, "Oh wow, I'm looking at this part of me and thinking there's something wrong with me." What is it like to just be like, "There's nothing wrong with you," and, "What is there to celebrate about this?" or "How can I embrace the part of me that's judging me, and offer that part some tenderness?" Like, oh, maybe there's even some grieving there. Not just in how we do it to ourselves, but this is who I am, and I'm not that person that I see on TV, or in the porn movie, or walking... My next door neighbor, whoever we're judging ourselves against. To be able to be like, "Okay, that's not me. And now, how do I turn to celebrate who I am and what I have to offer?"

Alexandra Solomon: Yeah, yep, yep. And this illusion that I will feel more, I will feel more X, I will feel more desirable, I will feel more competent if I lose five more pounds, if I have five fewer piles. This idea, we end up putting this idea that I'm gonna feel okay once I do that thing that's out there, and it's a road to nowhere. Every time I have held up one of those ideas for myself, I'm gonna feel better once this thing happens, I get there and it doesn't happen. I just come up with a new thing. It's a hamster wheel. And so, that is really radical and revolutionary, to just find a sense of wholeness right now, with the pile, with the curvy hips, [chuckle] whatever the thing is. It's just, find that sense of I am worthy as I am right now, because that's the only place, to circle back to sex, that's the only place from which we can feel entitled to pleasure. I can only feel entitled to pleasure if I... Allowing myself to feel okay is what then opens me to say, "Okay, I can be with my partner, and let my partner help me feel really good." Or put myself out there to find a partner that I can do that with. I can only... That's... And it's not... I don't know, it's not... It's just a practice, it's coming back to... I find it helpful to say, "That's my trauma, not my truth." When that stuff comes up, that's my trauma, that's my trauma telling me that I'm awful at this, or this is not enough, or this is... And then coming back, it's trauma, it's not truth.

Neil Sattin: Right, and those are glorious moments, really, when you see it happening. And so, when you've witnessed that for yourself, those are the golden opportunities. Maybe they're FGGOs, the fucking golden growth opportunities, like where it's happening right there and you get to see like, "Oh, I carry this with me." Or, "This is how I judge myself." Or, "This is how I choose partners who reinforce this negative belief system instead of partners who celebrate me." 'Cause how often does that happen, where we choose people who are unconsciously, probably, reinforcing the ways that we judge ourselves?

Alexandra Solomon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's maybe an important piece, too, I think for women who are partnered with men, I think that men have... Men didn't... Any individual man didn't create these wounds. Hopefully, I think. In abusive relationships, certainly that does happen, but I think a man can be such a powerful ally to a woman, and so, I think that there is a piece about around some of this body image stuff or just that kind of affirmation of, "I'm just... I don't view you that way. I don't want... When I'm making love to you, I'm not... Just so you know that you may be doing this to yourself, but I'm not doing that to you." And that can be lovely. It can't be the whole thing, 'cause shame is about my relationship to me, but having a partner who is affirmative or who just even acknowledges, "That doesn't even cross my mind. I don't think about your body in that way when we're together," can just be a little icing on the cake. It can't be the whole thing. A man can't, any partner can't out-love, can't love us out of our shame, but a partner can certainly be with us and say, "Okay, I hear that you're doing that to yourself, but I don't do that to you, I don't treat you that way.

Alexandra Solomon: And there's something very powerful when it is in a heterosexual dyad, men who are willing to kind of bear witness to that. That's why I wrote a chapter at the end for an open letter to men whose partners have read this book, whether that's maybe male allies of or male partners, intimate partners, just about... It's hard, I think it's hard, as we kind of reset the balance around this painful historical patriarchal old stuff, as we try to heal that and reset the balance, there's a beautiful opportunity for men to step in as allies. They can't fix this, but they could certainly be allies.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, that chapter I think is a beautiful invitation to how to be curious, how to... And how to show up as an ally, instead of doing things unwittingly that are detrimental when you're faced with vulnerability. And I also like that it's an invitation, that chapter, to the kind of thing that we've been naming, which is that everyone probably has a place where they can come to understand themselves a little bit better in this way as well and to question what's been handed to them. So interesting, so much of this really is shame reduction in some ways, like unearthing those places and going through the process of getting rid of it. I wanna name... I was reminded of this when you were talking about religious perspectives on sex, and one thing that you mentioned in your book is a study that someone did. Justin, I don't know how you pronounce his last name, Lehmiller, is that?

Alexandra Solomon: Yes.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. About the kinds of fantasies that people tend to have. And these are fantasies that people have no matter what their upbringing is though as I name them it will be obvious like why they might cause some conflicts for people, but I wanna name these so that you know that other people are thinking about this kind of thing, so you don't have to feel bad.

Alexandra Solomon: 95%, sorry. 95% of people. So he found... The first thing he found is that 95% of people had sexual fantasies. So it is normal to have sexual fantasies. Okay, go.

Neil Sattin: Okay. So the first one is multi-partner sex, like threesomes and orgies. The second is power, control and rough sex. The third is novelty, adventure, and variety, like things you've never tried, unique settings, having sex in public. The fourth is taboo and forbidden sex, like watching people have sex, licking someone's feet, having people watch you. The fifth is sharing partners and non-monogamous relationships. These are the top five. It took us all the way to number six to get passion and romance fantasy. So that's down toward the bottom of the list, and then we have erotic flexibility, like gender-bending and cross-dressing. And this is no matter who you are, that people are having fantasies like this. So I hope in hearing this list you realize like, "Oh my God, there's so much that we are not talking about," and why I think it's so important to have this space to talk about these things. Yeah, go ahead.

Alexandra Solomon: And just to kind of... There's this both and of our erotic imaginations are potentially really wild, broad, deep, expansive and we may in our lives not inhabit all that breadth and width. So those are two... That's a both and. That we can be expansive and show up with one partner. So maybe our fantasies become things we translate into real life and maybe not. But just the ability to tolerate, "Wow, my sexuality is really big and wide and curious." That's a piece of healing, rather than shutting it down, 'cause the moment we start to shut things down and quarantine them off, that's when things get scary. That's when we're more at risk of acting out if we can't tolerate our own complexity, we are far more likely to act out.

Neil Sattin: Right. So you're talking about creating a space where having those fantasies is okay. Like where and even if so... There's a difference, I think, in talking to your partner, let's say, and saying, "Oh I have this fantasy about someone else being in the bedroom with us." There's a difference between saying that and being like... And having your partner say like, "Oh really, tell me more about that, and what might that be like, and let's explore that." and to be received in a very non-judgmental way versus coming to your partner and saying, "I have this fantasy about having someone else with us in the bedroom, and his name is Raul, and I have his phone number, and I'm expecting him to come over tonight." So there, which in itself may not be a bad thing, but I'm just trying to point out here that there's a whole spectrum of what's possible in terms of how we accept each other, we accept ourselves then accept each other relationally, and create a space for those things to be alive because just naming something like that might fuel your completely monogamous sexual relationship with your long-term partner, where there's never gonna be a third person involved, but the fact that you've been accepted in that way, that your fantasy has been accepted, will be potentially so energizing for you rather than feeling like you have to keep things in the shadows.

Alexandra Solomon: Beautiful. Yeah, I think that's a great example...

Neil Sattin: Or that the fact that you have it is somehow gonna threaten the connection that you have, which is, I think, another piece of how you communicate about fantasies in ways that are non-threatening to each other.

Alexandra Solomon: Well, even just the example that you gave, the Raul example, it confronts... Sometimes we talk about toxic monogamy. This idea that we have monogamy has certainly been put... Sexual monogamy has been put out there as the norm. And sort of again in a hierarchical way, as the best way to love and be loved. And sometimes it goes so far that it's like any attraction, any fantasy that doesn't involve your partner is a slight against your partner. Then there's a way in which that paradigm is so narrow it makes all this stuff feel so dangerous and so threatening versus just a bit of expansiveness as you're saying. Just saying, this energizes me. Okay, then who knows where it goes from there, but just naming it and having a partner who doesn't need to go into that toxic monogamy space of like, "Oh my God, if my partner has any erotic energy that isn't directed solely to me all of the time, it means we are doomed. It means I suck, it means we're broken, it means we are doomed." That's just way too much pressure.

Neil Sattin: Oh my God, I wanna do a whole episode on toxic monogamy. But in lieu of doing that, what would you suggest for partners where that is happening, where they're unable to broach that topic without it igniting some sort of rupture in their connection.

Alexandra Solomon: Right. In the book, I talk about some ways that couples can... And I think talking about sex can be really hard. And if you've been together, especially if you've been together for a long time and you haven't talked about it, it can be really hard to find a way in, and I think that's a lot of couples' struggle. So it's really, it's normal. And given our conversation today, it's understandable. How would we ever know how to talk about sex? We certainly aren't taught that in school and we're... Anyway, so it makes sense why a couple may struggle talk about sex, but there may be some scaffolding. So, I give a list of examples I have collected over the years. I met a couple who talks about sex by putting puppets on their hands and the puppets talk about sex, so they put a bit of space between themselves and this conversation by using puppets. Or something like a book or a sexy scene in a movie, can be maybe a starting point. I'm always happy to have people put this on me. I don't know, I'm reading this book or listening to this podcast, and they were talking about this. And that can be nice, sort of a neutral sort of third-party way in. And to just have it be framed as starting with, "I love us. I love us. I love what we're about. I love who we are. I love what we're going. I'm all in on this mission and I want... And I'm interested in this because I love us, because I'm excited to expand us."

Alexandra Solomon: So, that really... So, foregrounding the positivity and the commitment and the excitement, I think is also really helpful. And then, just being able to name when we're on the receiving end, like, "Ooh, ouch, okay, I have this urge to get defensive. I have this urge to tell myself a story that you're really saying that you're not happy with me and that I'm not enough for you." And just sometimes just naming that can be like, "Okay, good, I hear you're doing that. Let's put that off to the side. Can we put that in the corner and just keep going, 'cause I'm not saying that?" And sometimes it has to happen in a therapist's office. Sometimes, and I think that's a really legit reason to go to therapy. When I have a couple that's coming in after years and years of erotic neglect, I often think to myself, "I wish they had felt able to come in sooner and unpack this sooner." 'Cause that's a really legitimate question. It's really legitimate to say that long-term sexual monogamy is challenging. Long-term... Just being sexual is challenging. Long-term sexual monogamy is challenging, and it makes sense that there can be dry spells and breakdowns and miscommunication, and sometimes having somebody else there for the conversation is helpful.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. So, totally agree with you there. And then just to circle back on that. So, there's naming and owning the importance of the connection. So, if you're the person who wants to bring something to your partner, saying, "You're important to me, and I'm bringing this to you because we are important to me." And then, you also named for a partner who's feeling reactive, to be able to name that and to recognize, "Wow, I'm hearing this and I'm being reactive." And so, that will... Hopefully, the act of bringing attention to it, hopefully that can also be held non-judgementally too. Like, it's okay that you are... That this is edgy for you to hear about this. There's something in that, "It's okay." You're okay for having this fantasy. I'm okay for having this reaction. We're gonna be okay. We're gonna navigate this together with this assumption that we'll get through, we'll be okay. There may be work for the reactive partner in examining their own self-worth issues, and doing that dance between being able to hear something like that without it going to the core of who they are or whether they feel like they're being accepted or loved by their partner. So much there.

Alexandra Solomon: There's so much there. And with the thinking about the example of if the question is around, this idea of bringing in a third person or somebody who watches, it may... An interesting place to go is to ask what is it about that that's so stimulating for you? What's so intriguing about that? So that's interesting, that's a more interesting question than when will it happen or who should it be. And maybe it happens and maybe it never happens, but to start way, way, way back at the beginning, about tell me more, like we said. Tell me more about how that stimulates you. What's so exciting about that? What is the kind of juice there within that narrative? Who do you get to be in that story? Who am I in that story? Understanding and being curious about the charge, the yearning, just that curiosity may be enough to kind of satisfy it and play with that energy, versus actually bringing in a third person. And who knows? We can separate the outcome from the process, and the process may be one that's very enlivening and engaging, separate and apart from whatever happens in real life with the actual fantasy.

Neil Sattin: Right, right. The purpose of a fantasy isn't necessarily that it has to happen.

Alexandra Solomon: Right, right.

Neil Sattin: There's something that just crossed my mind that I'm hoping you can shed some light on, 'cause it jumped out at me when I was... And it was back in this part about fantasies. I love the puppets thing, by the way. There was something you named there, which was couples talking about themselves in the third person. That was one I hadn't heard before, but I really... She really enjoys it when you do this, and he feels really vulnerable in this moment, just as a way of getting that enough of that distance, but it also feels like it could be really fun and cool to be narrating what's happening as it's happening. Yeah, I don't know, I like that.

Alexandra Solomon: Totally, absolutely. Right, right, right.

Neil Sattin: So, the fantasy thing was... 'Cause we're talking about reclaiming your sexuality and that an important piece of that is reclaiming it so that it comes from the inside out, as you named at the very beginning, so that your sexuality isn't developing in relation to how other people see you and how other people think of you, and I lost the page, so I'm not gonna be able to read it exactly, but there was this category of fantasy that was about being seen and appreciated and... Right, oh, here it is. Object of desire's self-consiousness, and I'm interested in this, the dance between it actually is really compelling to be the object of someone's desire, which in a way is about how you're being seen and noticing that you're being seen, but without having your desirability be based on how people see you. Do you see where it's...

[laughter]

Alexandra Solomon: It's so complicated.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Alexandra Solomon: Yeah, so the object of desire is this idea that... And the research has found that this is something that is more compelling, more stimulating for women than for men, but the idea that somebody sees me as desirable spikes my desire. Being wanted spikes my desire. And it helps me... It is about helping me tap into me. I just did an IGTV video about this. So last weekend, I was heading home from the gym, and I texted my husband and I said, "Will you go shopping with me today?" And it was so clear to me what I was wanting. So, this book launch, I want a couple of new dresses, and I know how I want to feel at these upcoming events. And so, I certainly could have gone shopping myself, obviously, and I have. But the idea of him being in the dressing room, down the hall, I go try something on, I come down the hall and show him. And it's not even about him saying thumbs up or thumbs down or him saying, "You look beautiful." It's about him holding space while I feel beautiful.

Alexandra Solomon: It's a subtle but important difference. What I was saying is, "Can you be the bass note? Can you hold a steady bass note while I do this thing that I do," where I play in different colors, different textures. And I find pathways into my own sense of my own experience of my beauty, my aliveness, but will you be with me while that happens. It's a really subtle difference. And it's an important pathway for me, and for a lot of women as the research shows, to connection to the erotic is this idea that, basically, you're watching me feel into my own erotic self, my own alive self. I think sometimes it could feel transactional. I'm asking for him to do something for me, but it's not transactional, it's just an invitation to connection. This is for me, what I know about me is this for me is powerfully connecting. Will you join me in that?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so there's something in there of really how you know yourself and you know that this is gonna be something that's going to really feel good, that will bring you pleasure and... Yeah, so knowing yourself in that way, being able to communicate it. What are you gonna say? I saw you.

Alexandra Solomon: Well, just that it's been this way... Todd and I've been together forever, but I have memories of... I love to dance. Dance is a humongous part of me, and he hates it. So, there would be times at parties where literally I'd be like "Can you just stand on the dance floor?" I would use him like a prop. He would just stand there, and I would dance around him. I'm just "I just need you with me while I do this thing." It really is good for both of us. It's good for both of us because I get to feel the way that I know I want to feel to show up with you, to feel close to you. It's just fun. It's just such a part of our... And I think that's part of it, too, is that now in year whatever of our relationship, these kinds of things, him going shopping with me, also has that circular sense that it reminds me and reminds us of how we used to be and who we used to be. We used to shop together a lot when I was from a suburb in Detroit and he lived in Chicago, and I would come visit him, and we would go shopping on Michigan Avenue. I'd never been to Chicago, so it also had this element of reminiscing, which is also really good for couples, to tap into who they used to be. That's very connecting and intimacy provoking, inspiring.

Neil Sattin: Well, Alexandra, one of the many things that I appreciate about you and your work is how well you bring together so many different writers and thinkers and put it all together in a way that's really practical. And just like Loving Bravely was a very practical book, Taking Sexy Back is another great example of how you pull all these things together, and it becomes a very useful manual for diving in. So, I hope that you listening that you've gotten a taste of that and just how much practical information is here along with ways of talking about sexuality that illuminate the challenges that we face. So much of that is seeing like, "Oh, right, this is a challenge. This is shame that I carry with me, this is a story that I carry with me, this is how my partner and I are missing each other." Having awareness of that. You do such a great job of illuminating that for the reader. Something I really appreciated. And in what you were just talking about, I was thinking about how we identify what we like and what we don't like. And you bring up Emily Nagoski's work around the dual... What's it again, the Dual?

Alexandra Solomon: The Dual Control Model.

Neil Sattin: Right. So, there are those things that excite us. Go ahead.

Alexandra Solomon: Yeah, just that. That our sexual desire functions with an accelerator and a break. So as you were gonna say, things that excite us and things that shut us down.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so what you were just offering is, I think, a great example of that, or at least that's how it showed up for me, like, "Oh, right, this is Alexandra knowing this gets me going," and inviting Todd your husband into the dance with you.

Alexandra Solomon: That's right. Versus playing yahtzee which is gonna just slam my break real hard.

[laughter]

Alexandra Solomon: Playing yahtzee, doing anything that's competitive with him really, really shuts me down. Now, for another person, that might be incredibly connecting and gets them going, to be competitive, to be... I just know for myself, no. Hard no.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so interesting.

Alexandra Solomon: It's so idiosyncratic and that's why the whole thing about sexual self-awareness, really understanding ourselves, is so vital and so valuable.

Neil Sattin: Well, Alexandra Solomon, thank you so much for being with us here today. Your book, Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want, is a valuable addition to anyone's self-growth or relationship growth library. And if you want a transcript of today's episode, there's so much that we've talked about, you can visit neilsattin.com/sexy or text the word PASSION to the number 33444. And also, if you wanna find out more about Alexandra and her work, you can visit dralexandrasolomon.com, where you can find out all about her, what she's doing, where she's speaking. Yeah. And it sounds like you're on Instagram as well. What's your Instagram handle?

Alexandra Solomon: Dr.alexandra.solomon.

Neil Sattin: Okay, great. I haven't really figured out how to play in that world, so I'm glad you are doing it.

Alexandra Solomon: Oh, it is a world.

[laughter]

Alexandra Solomon: It's a world.

Neil Sattin: Thank you so much for being here with me today, Alexandra.

Alexandra Solomon: Thank you, Neil.

Neil Sattin: Okay.

Feb 22, 2020

It can be easy to avoid being judgmental with people that aren't close to you, but what do you do when you feel yourself getting critical or testing the people with whom you're the most vulnerable? How do you shift from judging back to connection? How do you deal with the pain that you might uncover when you own the fears at the heart of being judgmental? And what are some realistic expectations to have around the process of grieving? In this week's episode I answer YOUR questions as a followup to a few of our earlier episodes.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

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Resources:

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Feb 14, 2020

How do we heal ourselves, our relationships, and the world we live in - all at once? How has our society created rifts within us (and between us) that get in the way of fulfilling relationships? With indigenous wisdom that has been handed down over thousands of years, today’s guest will help you heal the splits in your life and develop deeper integrity. Her name is Sherri Mitchell, and she is the author of “Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change”. A member of the Penobscot Nation, Sherri has also been actively involved with indigenous rights and environmental justice for more than 25 years. Instead of turning a blind eye to the ways that our cultural legacy gets in the way of connection and healing, today we will walk together down a practical path of truth, healing, and spirit.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

With Real Roses that Last a Year, Venus Et Fleur offers luxurious, bespoke arrangements that will be a reminder of your thoughtfulness long after the day you give them. Visit VenusETFleur.com/ALIVE and enter promo code ALIVE for complimentary shipping in the US thru 2/29 at 11:59 pm EST.

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Resources:

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Visit this episode's page on our website - https://www.neilsattin.com/sacred to download the transcript of this episode with Sherri Mitchell. Or text "PASSION" to 33444.

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

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Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. I like to bring in all kinds of ways to help us heal and grow and to take on the issues that impact us most, both in our lives, just as humans on this planet and particularly in our closest relationships with our partners. And, I'm often looking for new or different ways or in this case of what we're going to talk about today, ways that have been with us as humans for thousands of years. And there's something powerful in that. There's something powerful in the wisdom that's come down through generations and generations of connection to spirit, connection to life, connection to love, connection to wisdom. And within us being able to heal the ways that we ourselves have been brought into a culture that asks us to do one thing, like, for instance, fall in love and marry someone and and be happy with them for the rest of our days. But in the end, doesn't offer a lot in the ways of really how to do that successfully. And in fact, it could be that at the very root of how we learn to exist in this world. There are some core elements that are getting in our way. So. For today's conversation, I have a very special guest who I found out about through Peter Levine in a conversation one day, when I was asking him about whose work does he find or did he find to be really powerful. And that might be a great guest for the show. And as luck would have it, the person that he suggested lives right here in the same state where I live in Maine. And she is the author of the recent book "Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit Based Change." Her name is Sherri Mitchell and she is a member of the Penobscot tribe here in Maine. And she is also a distinguished lawyer and humanitarian and has been working for years in the fields of international human rights. And she has several projects that are helping to heal the world at large and in the process to heal the relationships that we experience with each other and all of the divisions that are happening in the world right now and within ourselves, as well. 

Neil Sattin: So if you want to get a transcript of today's episode, then you can visit Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-sacred. Or as always, you can text the word passion to the number 3-3-4-4-4 and follow the instructions. And those instructions for downloading the transcript are fairly simple. You know, enter your name and email address. Today, we're going to tap into a deeper set of instructions. A deeper set of instructions that are here to help us thrive and change the way that we live. 

Neil Sattin: So, Sherri Mitchell, thank you so much for being here with us today on Relationship Alive. 

Sherri Mitchell: Thank you for having me, Neil. 

Neil Sattin: I'm wondering if we could start with that sense of kind of where we are right now. That was something that really struck me in reading your book. Right off the bat, this description of how the experience that we're born into kind of sets us up for division from each other. I'm wondering if we can start there with this sense of the ways that that Western society is perpetuating a sense of division that is alienating us from each other and from ways of actually healing as a society. 

Sherri Mitchell: I think it's more than just contemporary society. This is something that has been conditioned into us, embedded into our thinking for millennia, that we have at least two millennia of real belief in separation and this idea that difference is dangerous and that oneness means homogenization. And so, when we're coming together and we're approaching one another, there's this inbred fear that we carry with us into those encounters. And the discomfort that we're feeling is something that we've also been taught not to experience, not to be able to be at peace with our discomfort. Any type of discomfort or pain, we're conditioned to deflect it, suppress it, project it, medicate it, avoided it all costs. And so that prevents us from really sinking into the discomfort that naturally arises when we come together because of this conditioning and prevents us from moving through the masks and the walls that have been created for us by others and handed down to us as this epigenetic inheritance within our DNA and our blood memory. And in order to be able to really address that and override it, we have to really become intimate with it. And that requires us to overcome a great deal of conditioning and ingrained thinking about how we view ourselves in the larger context of life. And so, you know,it's not a simple task of just realizing that the idea that difference is dangerous is inherently wrong. The idea that oneness and sameness are not equal. It's it's not just overcoming those ideas. It's overcoming impulses that arise within our limbic system that make us feel that we are in danger. That there's some threat to our lives being posed to us when we're facing this discomfort. And so we have to be able to work through all of those things and have a greater understanding of those things so that we can move forward into a path of healing that legitimately gets us to the place where that healing can occur. 

Sherri Mitchell: You know, one of the things that I have been quoted as saying is that we can't demand anything of others or even of ourselves, if we're unwilling to create the world in which that thing that we're asking for can be made available to us. And so it's really about creating a world where that healing can actually take place. In that world that we have to create is one that is filled with understanding and awareness of where we've been and how we got here. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and yeah. There's so much to unpack in what you were just saying. So I'm just kind to like sitting there in the in the midst of all that and feeling the power of, yeah, just how ingrained some of these responses are and also how they're not things that you would necessarily notice because they're just kind of what arise from, well, it almost feels naturally. But I say that and at the same time, I know that the experience, for instance, of children is is very different. So even a child who's carrying the lineage of trauma, let's say, through their genes, in their DNA. You know, for me, when I think about my legacy, there's this legacy of worry that that seems to have come from my forbearers. And I'm doing my part to heal that worry and learn to trust life. But the children, at least the young children that I know, they seem to get it in a different way. The interconnectedness that we that we actually are a part of. So somewhere along the way, the learning happens or the learning meets the legacy. 

Sherri Mitchell: Right. 

Neil Sattin: And we have to unravel that somehow. 

Sherri Mitchell: Mm hmm. Yeah. I have a story from when my son was small. He's a grown man now. And when he was three years old, getting ready to go to a community gathering and I was putting his native regalia on him, you know, and I had mine on and we were getting ready to go out the door. And I asked him, "Do you want to see herself?" And he excitedly said he wanted to see himself. And he was, you know, three years old at the time. We didn't have cable in the house. I was very, very careful about what I allowed him to ingest in that way. And we lived in a tribal community. So he was growing up in a very strong native family, surrounded by native people. At that time, and when he looked at himself in the mirror, he started to cry. 

Sherri Mitchell: And I asked him what's wrong, and he said, "I don't want to be in Indian, and they always kill the Indians."

Neil Sattin: Wow. 

Sherri Mitchell: At three years old. Wow. And it broke my heart. And my mind is reeling. Where did he get this idea? We're not watching John Wayne in our living room. You know, there he's certainly not surrounded by an ideology that I could pinpoint in any way that would give him this idea that he was a target because of his identity. And yet at three years old, he had somehow absorbed this idea and was able to articulate it back to me. This understanding that indigenous people are targeted for death. And you know that that was the point in time for me where I really started to look into more deeply the ways that we form ideas, the ways that we formulate our sense of safety in the world, how we develop our sense of belonging. And probably 15 years later, I ended up working for the civil rights division of the Maine Attorney General's Office as an educator. And one of the stories that came forward during one of these sessions was of two women, one of whom was at the playground with her, her child and her child, was two or three years old the time. And a mother who was a little person, whose child was also a little person, came walking up to the swim swing set and her child became inconsolable. She was terrified of them. And the mother was horrified. She kept trying to make it OK, make it OK. And she could tell that the other mother was feeling really uncomfortable and that it was hurtful for her. And she was horrified to think, where would my child get this idea that these other human beings, who look different than than we do, might be dangerous to her? And there was there was no immediate explanation for that belief that this child was acting out of. 

Sherri Mitchell: Then there was another mother who was a black woman who said that when her child started daycare, they had had a similar reaction to another black child who had darker skin than that they did. And so somehow this child saw the darker skinned black child as being a danger to them. And so we have this this belief within us because our... for all of our cleverness, and there's air quotes around this advancement, we still haven't, you know, been able to deal with the part of our primitive brain that recognizes differences as danger. We're still responding to some of these challenges that come before us in the world. Certainly where we're dealing with a higher level of stress than perhaps we have and in a very, very long time. Certainly not throughout history, because we've had much more stressful times in our past. But as a species anyway. But we we're dealing with a degree of stress, where we're getting stressful impulses presented to us throughout the day, time and time and time again, trauma across the globe, playing out on our screens in real time before our eyes. And we don't have the mechanisms within our brain to be able to distinguish the difference between, you know, some of those things and being confronted with a saber tooth tiger. 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

Sherri Mitchell: Because we're still in that place. And so, you know, we have to start to purposely evolve our consciousness purposely work with these impulses, because people just say, "I don't know, I just have a feeling in my gut that that this, you know, that this person isn't trustworthy." And I remember that there was a lot of talk about that going on when Obama was running for president. And politics aside, what I think of Obama, what anybody else thinks of Obama, you know, isn't part of the discussion. But it was interesting to me to see that there were a lot of people who couldn't point to any one thing they didn't like about him. They just said there's just something about him that makes me feel that I can't trust him or makes me feel unsafe. And when I when I posed the question, do you think it could be that he's a black man? They immediately scoffed at that idea. But we have had this history of leaders that look a specific way, you know, these middle to elderly, white men who have become the image of acceptability for leadership. And then when people start coming along, that challenge, that image, we experience some of this cognitive dissonance where we can't we can't reconcile what we're seeing, the difference in what we're seeing with what we've learned to be identified with as safe. 

Sherri Mitchell: And so we're being confronted rapidfire right now with all kinds of things that don't meet the imagery that we have been taught to believe is the safe norm. We're experiencing that in regard to gender fluidity, for instance. We're experiencing that with a real change in the fabric of what leadership looks like, with the most diverse Congress being elected in the history of the country. Right. You know, there's there are all kinds of all kinds of things that are cropping up. And the backlash against that is deepening some of the trenches within our minds that are related to this embedded thinking. 

Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah. And I mean, I'm also reflecting on relationships where the way that they tend to unfold, you fall in love and falling in love, whatever differences you notice in a person, we tend to find them charming or kind of gloss over them, and the initial phase of of relationship is about finding all the ways that you're the same. And then the reckoning starts to happen when you realize how different you are and where so many people are unequipped to navigate this terrain of, wow, you are different, and that feels dangerous to me the way that really different for me. And so it can happen in those really intimate interpersonal spaces as well as on the political or global scale like you're describing. And for me, it makes me wonder like, well, go ahead. Yeah. 

Sherri Mitchell: Well, I was just going to say it can be as simple as a difference between how we wash the dishes, right? 

Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah. Yeah. I mean you hear the stories all the time of like, you know, that's not how the dishes go in the dishwasher. You know, if you have a dishwasher, I don't have one. But yeah, it's hilarious. But those things aren't so hilarious when you're trapped in the middle of it and you feel like a life with the person who's in front of you is going to be one where you where you are truly in danger. And so you're responding from that place. So whether it's in your home or we're walking down the street, it gets me really curious about now that we've identified that there is something deep within us that recoils in some way from what we perceive as a division between us and another. What do you know about how to how to bridge that gap in a way that that brings that brings connection back? 

Sherri Mitchell: I think that the first step, as it is with so many things, is just acknowledging that there is a problem with our thinking and realizing that we don't have to follow the dictates of all of the voices in our heads. One of the one of the things that came to my attention years ago, was this realization that I had this belief that things should be done a certain way. And one of the most common phrases in my family was, why are you doing it like that? And you know, and if you couldn't explain why you were doing it the way that you were doing it, then you were discredited. 

Sherri Mitchell: And so, it became this this kind of this defensive mechanism that developed within me towards defending my way of doing things that caused problems in the relationship that I was in, because it hadn't occurred to me that other ways might be equally as valid and that they did not pose a threat to my identity or sense of value and worth in the world. And so learning to recognize that we have these ways of being that actually inhibit us from sharing intimacy with those that we want to be close to, even when we have a strong desire to be in close, intimate relationship with someone. All of these different ideas, I call them masks are preventing us from actually seeing the face of our beloved. And so the first the first part of that process is, is recognizing that we have these masks that are impeding our ability to see clearly the world that we know exists beyond our illusion. And so if we can first start to recognize that there are obstacles in our way that are preventing us from seeing clearly and begin to explore and examine them, not in a way that punishes, not in a way that pokes and prods, not in a way that tries to fix or resolve, but just in a way that allows us to understand more fully the processes by which we come to our conclusions. Then we can begin the process. Step two of engaging, those beliefs and ideas and applying our critical thinking and applying our core values. What do we really want to bring forward into our relationship with this person? Do we want to be able to give them full acceptance? Well, if we do? Then we need to really be fully accepting of ourselves first. How can we sit with and engage these processes that are rising up within us that are going to make us very uncomfortable? And just be there in the presence of those thoughts and ideas without having to respond to them? How can we be with our discomfort without having to immediately try to fix it or apply some balm to it? Projected outward, once we can learn that there is a safe place for us to be, with all of the things that make up who we are, then we can begin to make space for sitting with someone else in that same space. That true level of deep acceptance. And once we get to that place, how we load the dishwasher or whether we have a dishwasher becomes irrelevant. Right? We are able to see something much deeper in them because we understand the complexity within ourselves and that these automatic responses aren't a reflection of who we are. They're a reflection of how we've been taught to behave. And there's a very big distinction there between the two. And so, you know, we really have to engage this process of getting to know ourselves more deeply. And driving down the road, I can see something on the side of the road and a thought will automatically pop into my head. And I can attribute that thought to specific relative. Right? And I can say, OK, thank you, Uncle so-and-so, thanks for sharing. I'm gonna choose to see this differently in this moment. That's a process that we all have to go through and it requires us to be willing to show up in the moment that we're in with an awareness and to have a really heavy pause. You know, that's one of the challenges I think for us is that, there's so much rapidity, there's so much lack of time given to our our responses these days that it becomes a challenge. One of the things that I write about in the book is this concept of Indian time. 

Neil Sattin: Right. So fascinating to me. Yeah. 

Sherri Mitchell:Yeah. That's become kind of this cliche for being late, right? Oh, I'm running on Indian time and I used that excuse one time when I was in my in my early 20s and my grandfather sat me down and said, "How you're using this term is a misrepresentation of its true meaning. That what Indian time really is about is about taking the time to sit with something, you know, sit in circles, see it from all sides, really understand it before you make a decision. It's about making the time and taking the time to make a good decision and to make an informed decision." We don't do that with ourselves. We don't take the time or make the time to sit down and to understand ourselves fully and to understand the moment that we're in fully and to recognize the different voices that are coming in that might be informing us at that time, and then critically thinking about which information do I want to bring forward. We don't give ourselves that pause for that moment to to be able to do that. And so, I've talked to a lot of people who have wanted to sit with and learn from different indigenous elders that I'm connected to, and one of the first things that I explained to them is that there is absolutely no need to fill the silence with chatter, there's no need to fill the space with something that you can just let that space remain empty, and be patient for what will rise up, because there is a longer pause ratio for a lot of these indigenous elders than there is in the common way that we speak. And our tendency is that as soon as the other person stops talking, we have to fill that space with something. So as soon as the question is posed, we have to automatically give a response. If we can give ourselves a longer pause ratio between the inquiry and the answer, we can begin to give ourselves space, to really start consciously greeting the moment that we're in and, you know, that's a challenge for us because of the speed at which society is moving right now. 

Neil Sattin: Right. You're, for one thing, making me super self-conscious about not just jumping in with another question in this moment. But I was reflecting, too, on how even in podcast and and you have a podcast, right? "Love and Revolution Radio," are you still doing that? 

Sherri Mitchell: We're not still doing that. We stopped a little over a year ago. We took a pause. My co-host was was going through a challenging health crisis. And then we were both, you know, really, really super busy. And we're trying to figure out a way that we could continue to do it. So it's on pause for now. We may pick it back up down the road, but for now, it's we're on sabbatical. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. OK. Are our older episodes available for people to listen to? 

Sherri Mitchell: Oh, yeah. There are hundreds of episodes in the archives that people can listen to. 

Neil Sattin: Great. And the reason I brought it up was I was thinking about how the trend in podcast editing is to edit out all of the spaces. I think it's to maybe help people consume more content more quickly. And I like the first time my editor did that to one of my conversations, I was like. "Umm. It doesn't sound right." And so to me, that preserving that space is super important. But to really put it in perspective. I'm wondering if you could share your a little bit of your story around, because this is the part that really was fascinating to me was this sense of things can sometimes take a long time. And you mention the dreams that you kept having and not knowing if it was a sign of something that you were supposed to do in this lifetime or if you were simply meant to hold the story and that and pass it onto the next generation. And as I was reading that, I was just thinking about how different that is from I think the the more conventional perspective, which is kind of like I need to do something now, like it's up to me to effect change in this world or it's up to me to whatever it is, versus like, no, this could be I could just be a steward of this idea for someone else to carry when the time is right. 

Sherri Mitchell: Yeah. So the story you're talking about relates to one of our prophecies. And I had been having a dream since I was a small child so I was about four years old, this recurring dream about being in this place where runners were sent out in every direction through this mound space and these underground tunnels and and people from all over the world came and, a seed was brought up at the end by the elders that I was asked to go and retrieve. And that seed was the seed of the origins of our relationship. And so when I started in my 20s, when I started telling the elders about that dream, you know, I had been having that dream at that point in time for close to 20 years. And they said, well, that dream is connected to the prophecy of the reopening of the eastern doorway. The eastern doorway is where creation sits. And those things that are created under that eastern doorway then grow and move to the west, which is the gateway through which life leaves this earth. And so the relationships that were formed here under this eastern doorway, this spiritual gateway between the indigenous peoples and the newcomers, was forged in blood. And so that seed was damaged and it was toxic. And the dream was a reflection of that. In that, you know, there was a time that was going to come when we would have to come back under that eastern doorway to heal that seed of that relationship that had begun and to make new sacred contracts with one another, new sacred agreements with one another as human beings to live in a different way, in relationship to one another, and then to also live in in a different way, in relationship to the rest of life. So, I had that dream, as you said, for 43 years before anything ever came of it. And I had talked to the elders about it, and they had confirmed that  this is what this was connected to. And I brought it up again, you know, five years, 10 years and, I asked, when are we going to hold the ceremony that this prophecy talks about, because we've got some real problems going on here in the world that need to be addressed in relation to how we're relating to one another, how we're engaging one another, and the elders in the way that they do just said, "Oh well, they'll let us know when it's time." And so that went on for a long period of time. And then one of the clan mothers from my territory pulled me aside one day after ceremony and said, "You know, I've been thinking about this dream." And she said, "Sometimes she said it's not for us to act on." She said, maybe you're just meant to be the keeper of that story. And what I want you to do is when you go out and do that, because I was working with indigenous spiritual elders from all over the world at that point, she said, "What I want you to do is every time you go to be with these spiritual elders in their territories, whenever you're in a ceremony with them, I want you to tell them that story. And keep that story alive and make sure that you're telling it to our young people, too, so that they can keep passing that story on." And so that's what I did and I did that for. A long period of time, and then in 2016, I got a phone call from one of the elders from the South that I had been working with for more than 20 years, and he said to me, "That dream that you told us about came up in our ceremony this past weekend. And I think that there's there's something coming up in connection to that. So you might want to talk to your people." Right after that, I got another call from another elder from the West who said the same thing. Who said, "We would do the ceremony this past weekend. And that dream that you told us about when you're here came up in that ceremony with a couple of people. And I think you need to tell your people about that." And then I got a call from another grandmother who was in the North who said, "I had a dream last night that you were telling me again that story about your dream." And, then I told her about the other two calls that I had received. And she said, "Yeah, it's time to sit down with your people and talk about that." So I called my clan mothers and some of the hereditary chiefs from our region, the spiritual leaders. And we got together and talked about it and they said, "Yeah, we've been getting signs as well that now it's time.". 

Sherri Mitchell: So, you know, 43 years after I started having that dream I got this instruction from my elders, because I asked them, "Well, when are you going to do the ceremony?" And they laughed at me and they said, "No, you're going to do the ceremony and we're going to support you. And what you're gonna do is you're going to invite all the elders, the indigenous spiritual elders that you've worked with over the past 20 years, 25 years, to come and support you and to be here with us for this gathering." So that's what that's what happened. And they came, and we had people from six continents that came to share in this ceremony with us. And it's a 21 year ceremony that goes to all of the directions. And, the fourth year for the ceremony is gonna be this coming summer here in our territory. And before it travels to the south. And so it's grown every single year where people from all over the world are coming to sit with us in ceremony to heal their relationships with one another as human beings and to heal their relationship with Mother Earth and the rest of creation. And it's just become this incredibly beautiful thing to witness. I feel like I'm just standing in the doorway of it and and watching it unfold. It has a life of its own. And so, that's an example of just being patient with the information that's coming in, that there may not be an immediacy to the response to it. It may be that the story is building and being created within you. And so, that's why the last chapter of the book talks about what does it mean for us to be living in a time of prophecy? What are our roles as witnesses to prophecy? Is it just this passive spectator type event or are we meant to meaningfully engage with the prophecies that are unfolding around us? And how do we know when the time is right? To to do that? And I think that, what we've learned to do with some of the information that's coming in for us is we've learned to do something symbolic around it, rather than actually diving in deeper and being clear about what the right movement is. We just do something even if it's not the right thing, because we have this immense need to keep moving. And what ends up happening is that we have these large scale symbolic gestures that occur that don't really deal with healing on a deep level, the root of the issues that are being discussed. 

Neil Sattin: Right. Right.  I mean, just hearing you describe this process is so moving to me.  And I find myself wondering, you know, as we as we kind of sit in a moment of indecision or we're being really impacted and and trying to take in, you know, the fact that we might be looking at the world or at a particular situation through a mask that we're wearing, from your perspective, how do we invite the the the deeper knowing and also be able to recognize it when it arrives?

Sherri Mitchell:Well, I think that one of the things that is most important that I wrote about in the book is about really coming to know the teacher within, because we tend to be led so easily by the opinions of others who we hold in high esteem. And so my advice to people is to really take the time to cultivate a relationship with that teacher within, the one who holds your highest level of truth. The one that is most aligned with your deepest and purest itself. And then no matter what you're given for advice from another, you know, whether it be me or some other figure that people hold in esteem, they're able to process that through, this knowing that lives deep within us to gauge whether or not it's in alignment with their highest truth. And so I think that that that question is somewhat subjective depending on what one's deepest truth may be. For me, that process is about being able to allow our style ourselves to be still allow ourselves to learn when we're hearing the voice of truth within us and when we're hearing a prerecorded message of somebody else's ideas. Right? So it all kind of comes back to the same thing. And being able to open up the space within us. So, we have one of our creation stories, which is not in this book, it's gonna be in the second book, he follow up book, "Sacred Laws," talks about the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine. And so the sacred masculine is this pool of energy, this pool of matter, unrealized potential, that just sits there stable waiting and is not animated and brought into form until the sacred feminine speaks into it and creates vibration and frequency that create the form that emerges. And so that feminine interior, divine, creative, intuitive knowing is what speaks into form the physical manifestations that we create out in the world, and it's that dance between the masculine and feminine and being able to realize that we all have that exact thing within us. We have that that pool of possibility, that field of matter, that masculine action oriented activity out in the physical world element that's waiting within us to be formed. And the division that we've created between the voice of the sacred feminine and the movement of the sacred masculine has created a rift in the forms that are being created. So we have this real imbalanced creation that is moving out into our physical reality because we haven't learned to heal that rift between the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine within us. And when we are able to do that, then we hear the heart based wisdom, the intuitive guidance of that sacred feminine. And it guides us to create the forms and the movement out in the physical world that are going to be a balanced representation of wholeness from within us. And so if we want to be able to really get in that space where we know that what we're creating, what we're moving out in the physical world, is a true representation of our highest knowing and heart based wisdom.We have to be able to heal that that division between the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine within us. And so that process of engaging that teacher within introduces us lovingly to those aspects of ourselves that have been divided, that have been fragmented off, that have been broken down into commodified salable parts and that prevent us from emerging as whole beings in the world today, which we're needed as whole beings in the world today. That's how we offer our gifts to the world. What we were born for exists within our wholeness. And so if we want to be able to realize the purpose that we were born for, we have to be able to emerge as whole human beings. And, you know, part of that process is healing the division between our body and our spirit, healing the division between our sacred masculine and our sacred feminine, healing the division between our higher truth and the ideas that have been embedded into our into our ways of being. And so all of that healing has to take place in order for us to be able to show up in the world in the ways that we were meant for. And so that's how that process unfolds for me. That's how I see it. But like I said, that's you know, that's something that people have to arrive at that place in their own ways and with their own understandings. 

Neil Sattin: That was such a beautiful way of also like summing up so many things that we've touched on in this conversation. I'm wondering if we have time for one more question before you go? 

Sherri Mitchell: Sure. 

Neil Sattin: I'm curious about when you find that you are someone who is engaged in this process of connecting with your inner teacher and confronting the masks that you're wearing and operating from this place of how do I heal the divisions, how do I create this wholeness? How do you hold yourself in relationship to people who maybe aren't going through that process for themselves? And, you know, obviously that's possible again in the world at large. And often this comes up in relationships, right?Where someone is kind of the growth focused person and the other person just kind of has their head down and and doesn't care or doesn't care to engage in that way?

Sherri Mitchell: Yeah, I think it's a challenge at times to do that. And a conversation that I had with my ex-husband one day while I was making dinner and he was standing on the other side of the counter from me as I was chopping up vegetables and we were talking about something. And he was just standing there looking at me dumbfounded. And, you know, we had been together for quite a long time at this point in time. And I asked him, "What's what's wrong?" And he said, "I just realized that this isn't a phase, like you really do want to save the world. And I just want to live in it." And and I said, "Well, somebody has to make sure you have a good place to live." And, you know, then we just went back to cooking dinner. But that that moment was the beginning of the end of our relationship, because there was a level of simplicity, a level of detachment that he felt most comfortable in that I would never feel comfortable in, because I was this voracious seeker of truth that, you know, I came I came in with a fire that drove me to seek levels of truth on many different fronts. You know, spiritually, socially, in regard to justice. All of these issues that were really feeding this fire within me that I had been born with because that was what I was born for. And we were able to sit down together and to acknowledge that we wanted very different things for our lives going forward. And that the pathway leading into the future for us was not a pathway that merged any longer, that these pathways were were divergent, but we were able to sit in ceremony together and lovingly untangle the ties that we had made to one another and to wish each other well on that pathway that we would each be traveling into the future with love and respect for one another. That doesn't mean that whenever you get to these places of division that you have to separate from the ones that you love.But sometimes the greatest act of love that we can offer someone is to just accept who they are, and where they are, to allow them to continue to flourish into who they are becoming. And we can do that with them, in relationship with them, in close proximity, or we can do that with them, in relationship with them, with some physical separation. And only the individuals who are involved in that moment in time together can decide. Do we do this? Is it a continued act of love for us to continue to walk this pathway together? Because we again, where we're filled with all of these ideas of what we're supposed to do. Who we're supposed to be. What it's supposed to look like for us. And when that doesn't resonate with our truth, we find ourselves in constant conflict. So we have to get to a place where we're doing that meaningful work in a way that aligns with our deepest truth. And in order to get to that deepest truth, we have to move through all of the filters and the tapes that we've been carrying with us, that tell us who we're supposed to be, you know, who I feel I was meant to be in the world, is not a person that could have sacrificed their own dreams in order to fulfill somebody else's need at that moment in time. And the love that that other person had for me was such that they did not want to restrict who I was becoming in order to make them feel safe in the world. And and so, you know, we have to be able to hold ourselves, I think, to that that moment of fire. And try to see each other with eyes of of real love. Like, is this person that I see before me, someone that I am capable of giving absolute acceptance to, regardless of what that means to me? Am I allowing this person to become who they are choosing to become in a way that is meaningful and in alignment with their own truth? Or am I trying to restrict them based on my own fear? Am I capable of dealing with my fear in this moment and allowing them to become while allowing myself to become as well without running away? Right? So there's this element of running away that we do that is not about consciously thinking about how can I best love this person in this moment, in truth? 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

Sherri Mitchell: AndI think that place right there is the juicy bit of life. Can we sit with the discomfort that we're feeling? Can we deal with our ego? Can we deal with our fear and our need to control? Can we just get to that spot of of real love and acceptance? And then from that place, looking at each other without having to fix or to change or to judge or explain, choose to accept each other in that moment. And cycle forward into whatever future it is that we're holding the dream of within us together, or if it's a more loving act to allow our paths to diverge at that point in time. And I don't think that people do that. I think that people, you know, people throw around this this term, "conscious uncoupling," right now. And I think that there's an element of beauty in that. That we don't always have to be what somebody else wants us to be and still be demonstrating acts of love, that sometimes it's an act of love to say, "I'm sorry that this conflict exists between us. I'm, you know, going to stand here firmly in my own truth and I'm going to lovingly accept what comes up for you in this moment. And hopefully you can look at me with some loving acceptance about what's coming up for me in this moment, and we can make space for each other to be uncomfortable and then to settle in to the real baseline love that we have for one another, and be able to discuss this in a way that allows us to both become the most whole versions of ourselves and to make a decision in that moment on what's best for us." 

Neil Sattin: Mm hmm. Yeah, I'm right there with you. And I think that that's such an important element of moving the paradigm of relationship in a more whole direction than than the ways that, you know, historically the way that we've bound ourselves to each other without really thought of everything that you just named, the way that that's creating challenges for people that don't necessarily need to need to be perpetuated.

Sherri Mitchell: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: So yes. The way that you know, I had the Gottmans here in Maine recently, John and Julie Gottman, for a live version of my show here in Portland. And as I was sitting with them, I had this thought, which is that so much of the energy that we've put into how to make relationships work, how to help people succeed in relationships has like been based on this presupposition that longevity is somehow the marker of success in a relationship. And so if you take that as a given, then from that point unfold, all of these things that are about like fostering longevity. That, the lens changes a little bit when you're looking at it from a place of who am I, who am I meant to be when I get past what I've been told I should be? And who are you meant to be? And how can we love each other in that? And how can we make choices? Sometimes really challenging choices, but be rooted in that love for each other, even when it represents a divergence or an acknowledgement of some core differences?

Sherri Mitchell: Yeah, I think what tends to happen is that people let go of and sacrifice pieces of themselves in order to achieve that goal of longevity. That is the social standard of success. Andone of the things that I do in one of my trauma workshops is I give participants a meditation to have them go into each relationship that they have and ask themselves what aspects of myself have I had to give up in order to be in relationship with this person? What dreams of mine have I let go in order to be in relationship with this person? What parts of myself have had to be suppressed in order to make this this person happy? And then to look at the way that that giving away of aspects of themselves has actually led to a lot of the problems that rise up in the relationship because you're no longer the person that that other person thought you were, but you're also no longer the person that you know yourself to be. So you're in conflict continuously. And so we've we've been raised under this capitalist system that leads us to believe that we are either a consumer or a commodity. And so,we are constantly looking for ways to sell ourselves, whether that be to our friends, to our families, to our faith communities, to our employers, to our potential partners. We look for the aspects of ourselves that we believe are going to be most saleable to that other that we want to be in relationship with.

Sherri Mitchell: Or, that we want to create this sense of inclusivity and belonging with and we sacrifice the aspects of ourselves that we don't feel line up. And in doing so, we never, ever know if we in and of ourselves are lovable because we're only putting forward an image that we believe will be acceptable to whoever that other is. And so the aspects of ourselves that we hide become cloaked in shame and in fear that if they escape, we're no longer going to be lovable because we've made this contractual agreement on a spiritual level to only show this aspect of ourselves that we feel it's going to be acceptable. And so, you know, when we're in that situation, which is a majority of the world, we don't know if we, the wholeness of who we are, is truly lovable. And so we live in constant fear of losing the love that we have put forward conditionally. We've put ourselves forward to be loved conditionally rather than unconditionally. And so we have to have the courage to bring forward all aspects of ourselves. And it's so cliched at this point in time, right?. But the courage that's required to be able to do that is phenomenal. It's phenomenal because we all need a sense of belonging, connectivity, inclusivity and the threat of losing that registers in our primitive brain as being ostracized at a time when our connectivity was absolutely crucial for our physical survival. And so it wasn't very long ago that when somebody was ostracized or moved beyond the pale. Right, that that they were no longer guaranteed safety. Right. Because they didn't have the safety of the group. And so we actually recognized that in our bodies. This  fear of not belonging, this fear of not being included, is equated with actual death in our physiology, the way that our body chemically responds to it. And so we have to be willing to work with that system so that we can evolve it, so that we can consciously evolve it into realizing what is the real threat here? The real threat is death to our whole selves, death to own truth, in order to barter for acceptability. That's conditional. And can we have the courage to move beyond that? Can we have the courage to show up with all of our our parts available to be seen, and see if we can be accepted as we are? That's the real dance that we have with ourselves in order to be able to have truly intimate, truly loving relationships with others. 

Neil Sattin: Well, what you're talking about is something that's impacted me personally very recently, so I'm really taking that all in very deeply. And I think my wish for all of you listening is that you feel inspired to be courageous in this absolutely essential and cliche way of discovering who you are and being willing to offer that courageously in the world. 

Neil Sattin: Sherri Mitchell, it's been such a pleasure to talk with you today. Your book, "Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit Based Change" is so full of good stuff. We've only really scratched the surface today. So, I definitely recommend checking the book out. And I'm excited to hear that there's another one in the works. When's that due to come out? Do you have a sense or? 

Sherri Mitchell: I'm not sure if it'll be out in 2020 or early 2021. I'm hoping it'll be out by the end of 2020. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. Well, that's definitely something to look forward to. I hope we can have you back on the show to talk about it. 

Sherri Mitchell: That would be wonderful. 

Neil Sattin: And if people want to find out more about you, what's the best way for them to do that? 

Sherri Mitchell: They can go to my website, sacred-instructions-dot-life, or they can follow me on social media. My public Facebook page is Facebook-dot-com-slash-sacred-instructions. And I do have Instagram, but I'm terrible about social media. I need to have somebody come along. I've accepted that about myself. 

Neil Sattin: Same. 

Sherri Mitchell: Yeah, you know, that's just not the thing that I do well. And so I'm constantly searching for the technology person who can help to deal with that aspect of my life. But I do my best. 

Neil Sattin: Well, hopefully you can call that person in. So that people can, you know, watch your life from the outside and hopefully come and participate through, I mean, it sounds like you're offering workshops and the ceremonies that you're hosting. Sounds so powerful. And again, if you want to get a transcript of today's episode, just visit Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-sacred or text the word "passion" to the number 3-3-4-4,-4. Sherri Mitchell, your native name. I'm going to just invite you to say it means she who brings the light. And I definitely feel like you've been bringing the light today to to me, into our listeners. 

Sherri Mitchell: Thank you. So we'd say in our language, the words that I offer for all my relatives and my name in my language, Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset.

Neil Sattin: Thank you so much. So good to meet you and be with you today. 

Sherri Mitchell: Yeah, you too. Thank you so much, Neil. 

Feb 7, 2020

How do you heal after a breakup or divorce? Whether you’re going through a breakup now, have been through a breakup and still have some cleanup work to do, or...well...maybe you will be going through a breakup at some point in the future...this episode is for you. No matter which way you slice it - the ending of a relationship can be challenging. There are a lot of "right" ways to heal your heart - and some wrong ways. My goal is to keep you from making common post-breakup mistakes so that you don't make it any harder on yourself than it has to be - and we'll dispel some myths along the way. 

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

With Real Roses that Last a Year, Venus Et Fleur offers luxurious, bespoke arrangements that will be a reminder of your thoughtfulness long after the day you give them. Visit VenusETFleur.com/ALIVE and enter promo code ALIVE for complimentary shipping in the US thru 2/29 at 11:59 pm EST.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Check out this episode with Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of Conscious Uncoupling, about transforming core negative beliefs.

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Jan 24, 2020

Do you judge others or yourself harshly? How do you get past the judgment to a place where you can see a situation clearly, set appropriate boundaries, and change things for the better? In this week's episode, we're going to cover what to do when your occasionally judgmental nature gets in the way of positive connections with others - or yourself. You'll get some hints about what to do when others are judging you. And you'll discover the difference between being discerning and being judgmental.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

With Real Roses that Last a Year, Venus Et Fleur offers luxurious, bespoke arrangements that will be a reminder of your thoughtfulness long after the day you give them. Visit VenusETFleur.com/ALIVE and enter promo code ALIVE for complimentary shipping in the US thru 2/29 at 11:59 pm EST.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Jan 16, 2020

What turns you on - and what turns you off? Once you know your erotic blueprint type, it’s so much easier to have the kind of intimacy that you most deeply desire.  And when you hit a snag in the sexual sphere of your relationship, it could be that you and your partner haven’t quite learned each other’s erotic languages - leading to sexual miscommunication. Never mind the love languages - it’s the Erotic Blueprint type that matters in the sexual domain! This week’s episode features Ian Ferguson, who played an instrumental role in creating the Erotic Blueprint methodology with his partner Jaiya. You’ll learn the 5 Erotic Blueprint types, how to figure out what you are, and how to tackle differences that you and your partner might have in how you express yourselves in your most intimate moments.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

Take the Erotic Blueprint Type quiz to find out your Erotic Blueprint Type: https://www.eroticbreakthrough.com/alive

Visit Jaiya’s main website

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict…

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

www.neilsattin.com/erotic Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Ian Ferguson.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. We have covered in more than 200 episodes all kinds of conversations detailing the nuances of having an amazing relationship. We've talked about communication. We've talked about overcoming problems and obstacles and healing trauma and being present. And we have, of course, also talked about sex and the erotic. And it's important to dive into this topic, I think, a little bit more deeply than I have in the past. 

Neil Sattin: Early on, I wanted to bring voices to you representing different kinds of sexuality, different ways of exploring sexuality that were more oriented towards slow sex or tantra. We talked to Diana Richardson. We talked to Margot Anand. And now, what I'd love to do is to open this conversation up further to the idea that there are actually different kinds of erotic types that we inhabit. And in order to have this conversation, which will, I think, help you really get to know yourself better in the sexual and erotic realm and also get to know your partner, if you're partnered or partners, or if you're out dating as a way of diagnosing what's happening with the people that you meet and getting a sense of where you're compatible, where you're not, and where there's learning and curiosity that opens up for you. It's fascinating. I had a friend who sent this link to me randomly not that long ago, and it was to the work of Jaiya. And I had actually heard of Jaiya's work, but I hadn't really honestly paid any attention to what she was doing. And. But there's something about this link spoke to me and I decided to take her quiz and listen to her on another podcast. And, I was fascinated. I learned so much about myself and about things that were happening in my own life. And I knew that I wanted to bring this work to you. So for today, we have our esteemed guest, Ian Ferguson, who is Jaiya's partner in business and in life and who is also responsible for the development of what we're going to be talking about today, which is your erotic blueprint -- the the thing that makes up who you are sexually and erotically and what turns you on, what turns you off. And we're going to dive deep into that topic with Ian. 

Neil Sattin: If you are interested in getting a transcript of today's episode. You can visit Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-erotic. Or as always, you can text the word passion to the number 3-3-4-4-4, and follow the instructions along with being Jaiya's partner in business and life. Ian is also the co-founder of their company and he is a master instructor of the erotic blueprints methodology. And he's also someone who does a lot of conscious dance stuff, which I've talked about on the show over and over again. We finally have someone here who actually does the very thing that I'm talking about. So I'm really excited to have Ian here with us to talk about your erotic blueprints. And Ian, welcome to the show. 

Ian Ferguson: Thank you. As a great intro. I just love all the seeds that you're planting about communication and learning and really using these kinds of tools to have a deeper understanding of ourselves and how we communicate with others about them. So, I love that intro. Thank you for that. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, you're welcome. You're welcome. And I think that, you know, we talked about this a little bit before I hit record. It's so important, especially when you're dealing with any system that gives you some information about you by telling you like, oh, you're an ENFP or you're a Scorpio or you're a number four in the Enneagram, whatever it is, it's challenging for people sometimes to break the mold of what they discover about themselves. So, I want this to be a conversation that allows people, and I know you're right here with me to tap in to curiosity about their type and also to like push the edges of the box that they find themselves in, and in fact, to unbox themselves and to stretch themselves. 

Ian Ferguson: Perfect. Yeah. We often say about the erotic blueprints, which we'll be talking about in more detail here, that when you discover your primary erotic blueprint type, it's actually showing you more where you're limited than where your resourced. Because there's this whole range, there's a smorgasbord of opportunity erotically in the world of pleasure available to all of us. And many of us are accessing but a very small piece of that smorgasbord. You know, we're eating the, you know, the beautiful strawberry when there's chocolate and truffles and steak and, you know, a beautiful garden of vegetables at our fingertips. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And this reminds me probably for obvious reasons to you, a lot of the love languages. 

Ian Ferguson: Yes. 

Neil Sattin: And, when I have been introducing people to your work, just friends of mine or or acquaintances, I've drawn that analogy:"It's kind of like the love languages, but for sex and the erotic." But one of the things that I think is so challenging about the love languages is that people sometimes find out what their primary love language or you're supposed to find out your primary two love languages. And then they just kind of stop there. And then, if they take it a little bit further, they figure out what their partners love languages are. And then hopefully they really learn to speak each other's languages. But in the end, where I always come down to is I don't think there's anyone who doesn't appreciate or have the capacity to appreciate all those love languages. And so I'm curious, before we dive into like the specifics of the blueprints, do you do you feel like that's true for them, that there's an evolution towards kind of being multilingual across the love languages, that's just like natural if we allow ourselves to be open or what do you find? 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah, I think that that's the ideal almost of any of these typing systems, is that it's not just about understanding your first primary access, the place where you're most resourced. It is a way of articulating and speaking to all of the other types of people that there are out there, all the other types of eroticism. 

Ian Ferguson: One of the things that I just love about our community in particular is that often in the realms of sexuality, when you're in this stage, you're curious, you're adventurous, you're looking to expand into something new or there's parts of sexuality you're hearing about and you don't have any idea what they are, say, in the kinky realm or around Tantra. The communities tend to be kind of siloed. They're brilliant. There are many brilliant communities that deal with all of these forms of sexuality. But when you want to find a find out about kink, you end up walking over into the kink realm, when you want to find out about energetic or tantric sex, you walk over into Tantra and they're very different communities. And one of the things that the blueprints have allowed us to do is to speak to the full range of eroticism and bring all of those people essentially under one roof.

Ian Ferguson: So, you know, we'll see this in our community, even in my own relationship, where, you know, somebody who is an energetic, they have a kinky partner and they have no real way to merge or meet. And if the energetic is going to take the kinky person to their energetic Tantra class, that kinky person may actually be totally turned off. They won't have a deeper understanding, it just won't appeal to them and vise versa. The kinky person taking their energetic partner to the kink environment may find themselves contracted and re-traumatized, or they just don't understand what's going on in that community. Whereas in a community where all the languages are being spoken to, there's an opportunity for people to see a multitude of people operating with a variety of these erotic blueprint types under one roof. And to start to have a way to bridge the gap and create inclusiveness for all of those communities to be able to have a conversation together. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. When I imagine being in that community, I imagine what it would be like to be with someone who was or to be just like having a conversation with someone where my type is just as valuable as theirs is. And that was something that for me was so eye opening. Even in just taking your quiz, which by the way, if you visit erotic-breakthrough-dot-com-slash-alive, you can take the quiz that helps you diagnose what type you are. So, that's always fun, to take another quiz online. So you should definitely go check that out. 

Neil Sattin: But, I took this quiz and what I found was that, it really helped normalize some things that I was experiencing that I thought were maybe... bad. That I had judgment about in myself and, we'll get further into this. But one, I actually have a lot of the different types in me. I'm the shapeshifter type which we'll get to, but I'm very strong in energetic. And so it was really easy for me and I mentioned I had a lot of probably very energetic oriented people here on the show. And you talk about one of the shadows of the energetic being kind of downplaying other kinds of sexuality. And I think I was doing that for the other kinds that live within me. So, it was really wild to take the test and to accept myself in a new way, as well as to have that language to bring to other people. 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah. One of the things I get most touched by in responses that we get from like you're sharing, even people who just take the quiz, even if that's the only step that they've taken, we will get emails from people or at workshops that we're teaching. I'll get stopped by the attendees who will, with tears in their eyes, just talk about, "Wow, now I don't feel alone. I thought that I was weird or messed up or, you know, crazy." You know, like the energetic type is one of the blueprint types. And for the energetic, energetics are often a highly sensitive, they're very aware, their empath, They're connected to their environment. And the types of orgasm that are available to an energetic can sometimes look quite strange to somebody who doesn't have access to that type of orgasm because they'll be releasing kundalini energy or having kriyas. So, those will show up as a sort of muscular spasms in the body. So especially in the case of cock-bodied humans who tend to be stereotyped into the sexual blueprint, many of the male body people, cock-body people will all of a sudden feel seen and heard for the first time because they've been putting on a mask of being a sexual when their entire system is geared towards being an energetic. 

Ian Ferguson: And then you also spoke to the hierarchical. I think we're probably going to start confusing people too much if we keep talking about the types without getting into what they are. But you did mention in terms of the energetic, there can be sort of a hierarchical viewpoint of the energetic. That energetics tend to be associated with spirituality, connected to sex. So a sexual act for many energetics needs to fall into the realm of being a spiritual event. And they may have judgment or look down on this as a shadow aspect to the energetic, may look down on people who might be a sexual type or kinky type, as that form of erotic expression is not spiritual to them. So these are all interesting distinctions of all of the five blueprint types that we've uncovered. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Where we're dancing around a little bit. But let's, as you suggested, kind of dive in and detail each one a little bit more. We've spent some time on the energetics. So maybe let's flesh that one out a little bit more and then we'll kind of move through the others that we've chatted about already. 

Ian Ferguson: Perfect. Perfect. Yeah. So the energetic is turned on by: anticipation, tease, space. They're very sensitive, energetically sensitive, environmentally sensitive, often emotionally sensitive. And this is the super power of the energetic type. They have the ability to be in an orgasmic state without even being touched. The breeze that blows across the hairs on their arm could send them into orgasm. A connection to themselves or the environment in some sort of spiritual connection could put them into an orgasmic state or into actual orgasm. So this is an amazing superpower for the energetic as well as on the flip side, can be a bit of the shadow or the challenge for the energetic. Because of that hypersensitivity, if somebody moves too fast, too quick and goes too deeply into the space of an energetic, it can turn into, overwhelm and shut down, so that the all the systems for the energetic will get overwhelmed. And they may actually be completely turned off or flatline in their turn on because the space has been collapsed. 

Ian Ferguson: So if you're listening to me talking about this and let's say you have that experience of you're about to kiss somebody and there's all of this energy and all of this turn on happening as you're approaching the kiss, maybe teasing out the kiss a little bit. And for you, when you actually kiss, the energy or the eroticism, the turn on goes down significantly or maybe completely collapses, that might speak to you being an energetic type. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. Got it. And I think you also mentioned in one of your guides about energetics being able to respond to someone's hands being placed just above their body. So like not even literally touching them, but just being in their energetic fields. 

Ian Ferguson: Yes. So this is this is the fascinating thing and also something that if you are if this is not something you have access to at this point and your lover does, it can be quite a bizarre experience. You know, I didn't really have any access to this energetic turn on when I was first partnered with Jaiya. She's highly energetic. She's trained herself to be even more energetic than I think she naturally was. And she would have kriyas. I could put my hand above her body and she would be reacting to that without me even touching. And because she's a teacher of sexuality and because of the type of relationship we have, I could witness her in energetic connection with other people and see these really huge expressions, these physical manifestations of her orgasm when a person was, you know, a foot away, even 10 feet away. And at first I would look at this and to be honest, I was like, "Oh, what is this? Woo, woo. You know, B.S." I was like, "This is just people performing in there. They're making this stuff up." And it took me... Because, I tend to be a skeptic before I accept something. Even after I accept something, I'm still have some skepticism about it. But the the thing around the energetic is first I started to have my own experiences with it. And then I had a couple of trainings around something called Network Spinal Analysis, which is a form of chiropractic where they sometimes touch your body. But a lot of the work is done off of your body in energetic fields. And I had a couple of masters that I did a deep, deep workshop with Christine and John Amaral, and they basically blew open my energetic receptivity. And after that weekend, all the sudden was able to tap into something that really looked pretty mysterious, if not completely inauthentic, before I tapped into it myself. And now I'm like, oh, it's now it's it is interwoven in my eroticism. It is interwoven, actually, and just sort of how I approach my day to day life. 

Neil Sattin: Wow, wow. What a transformation. 

Ian Ferguson: For sure. 

Neil Sattin: I am so fascinated and tempted to go down that road a little bit more. But before we do, let's jump to the next to the next type and we'll probably circle back around to these. But just so everyone knows, loosely, how do you define a type like what is what are the kinds of things that, "OK, I'm this kind of type. So that means that I have these kinds of physical experiences, these kinds of emotional experiences, these particular kinds of turn offs, these particular kinds of turn ons." 

Ian Ferguson: Yes. So the turn ons or the superpowers of the blueprints are the positives or the things where you're going to have the easiest, fastest access to arousal to turn it on, to connection. And that defines often your access point or the positive blueprint that you may be. And then there are the shadow aspects of each blueprint type and you can have the full positive of this, full super powers of one blueprint type and have the shadows of a completely other type, and not have the turn on our shadow of those same types. I hope that made sense, what I just said. 

Ian Ferguson: But the shadows are the things that are basically the brakes to your turn on. And Emily Nagasaki in her book "Come As You Are," talks about a bunch of research where, it is actually the brakes in people's sexuality, the things that put a stop to it that inhibit their ability to access pleasure or drop into expansion or discovery or a deeper understanding of their own turn ons and the shadow parts, that's what we talk about when we're talking about the shadow parts of the blueprints, those pieces that just shut it down for you. And it's bad, I think this land's better as I go through each blueprint type talking about the superpowers and the shadows of each one. So I can just jump into the sensual if you'd like?

Neil Sattin: Sure. And just as a mention for you listening, Emily Nagasaki, whom in just mentioned, she was on the show Episode 123. So, if you want to hear here, Emily, it's a fascinating work. So, definitely check that out.  

Ian Ferguson: She's awesome. She is so articulate about all of this stuff. So, yes, I would recommend your listeners. Go listen to Emily talk about that or read or pick up her book. Yeah. So the sensual type, the sensual type is, was one of my primary types I say "was" because I would say that I've really moved more into a shapeshifter in terms of my, all the superpowers that I've got going on. But the sensual is the type that brings artistry to sexuality. They are turned on by all of the senses being ignited. And that means that you can have an orgasm from eating that perfectly juicy, incredible strawberry. The sensuals will often when they're eating, they're the ones will be moaning they'll be like: "Mm... oh! Hmm!" And, you know, you can tell a shapeshifter often, by the way, that they dress, they'll wear textures and layers and often be perhaps touching themselves. 

Neil Sattin: You mean a sensual? 

Ian Ferguson: What did I just say? 

Neil Sattin: You said shapeshifter. 

Ian Ferguson: Oh, shapeshifter. Yeah. Sorry. A sensual will often be touching themselves. And one of their superpowers is the fully embodied orgasm. They'll find the orgasm all over their body in their own crevices of their arms, and their legs, uh, really, really fulfilling and rich. And a big difference between the energetic and the sensual, the energetic really gets turned on by that space, by the anticipation of the collapsing of the space without collapsing it. The sensual tends to want to get really snuggly and cuddly and tight and close in with their partner. So you can see where those two types might have a little challenge relating because one wants closeness, the other wants distance. 

Ian Ferguson: The shadows of the sensual. Would be that there, those same things that can turn them on can become complete red flags and become very distracting. A sensual can get very lost in their head and have a hard time accessing their pleasure because they can't get relaxed, they can't drop into the space. So let's say the lights are too bright or the music is the wrong song or too loud. They've got bills to pay or a call that they didn't return, there's socks on the floor. All of these things can lead to intense distraction of the sensual. And when the sensual is not connected to their body, they can't drop into their eroticism. So. You know, often what we'll say is that the sensual needs to relax to have sex. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. Got it. And one thing I'm curious about is language, as well. And you talk about the different ways that we actually use words and our voices and how that can have an impact based on the erotic type that you that you are. So how might that be different between an energetic and a sensual person? 

Ian Ferguson: Well, there's so many aspects of speaking the blueprints, you know, I'll probably talk about this a little bit later, but we, in more detail, but we talk about once you learn your blueprint and you learn the sort of basics of what turn you on, turn you off, the next step there is to be able to learn to speak, feed, heal and expand your blueprints. So one of those pieces is what you're pointing to, which is being able to speak the blueprint. And in speaking the blueprint, that's the full range of what it means to speak. So that can be the words that you use. That can be the body language that you have associated to your eroticism. What turns you on in that realm, and a congruency between, say, vocal tone and your energy and your presence. So between these two types of the energetic and sensual, the energetic, a light energetic. So let me we can get into so many wonderful distinctions about all of these blueprints. But, there's light-energetic, and there's the dark-energetic. The light-energetic when speaking or being spoken to is potentially going to have a little bit of a loftier, lighter tone, maybe a little bit of lilting, but not crazy melodic, tends to be smooth and something that is gonna be flowing not staccato. 

Neil Sattin: This is so hilarious. I'm thinking of Marianne Williamson. While you're.... 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah, that's perfect. 

Neil Sattin: But honestly, I think even like Diana Richardson, who's been on the show, you can hear that in her voice, for sure. 

Ian Ferguson: Yes. And they might choose the language of, "I feel so connected to you. I feel that we've been really connected through time. And this feels like a universal connection. And my heart is so, it would be so open to you if we could just spend some time being present with each other." So absolute presence, clarity of intention. And they'll often talk about the cosmic. Energetic may also use their hands in sort of flowing patterns when they're expressing themselves. And then alternately, a sensual they may have very expressive, and they may get into very you know, they may may use tone and like really get into the richness of their voice and how they express and they'll talk about, "Oh, this is just so juicy and delicious. What we're talking about, I just love, you know, they'll point to colors and oh, the beautiful day outside and the trees are so green. So they'll notice all of those sensory elements and often be framing things in the language of the senses. 

Neil Sattin: Great. Yeah. 

Ian Ferguson: Yep. So we can we can pull out little elements of that as we talk about the other blueprint types as well. 

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Let's let's proceed to the next one. Yeah. 

Ian Ferguson:So the sexual. That is sort of the zone where our society focuses advertising what sort of put out front and center often in music. It's the stereotype of what sex should be. And the sexual is one of the more simple. They they just bring the fun. And by simple I don't mean there's not depth. I just mean that they don't overcomplicate the process of sex. It's about genitals, it's about orgasm. It's about, you know, fucking and coming and all of the the great things that just are raw, pure sex. They're gonna be attracted to the physical, though, in terms of the body language of sexual may be the type of person you're talking to and they're gonna be scanning your body up and down more than meeting you in the eyes. It's just that that sort of limbic animalistic turn on and they're their superpower is that simplistic. They can go from zero to 60 in zero seconds flat, as long as they have certainty, like, "OK, that's what this is about. We're gonna get down to it. I know I'm going to have the orgasm." It's kind of like if everybody has an orgasm, then it's all good. We succeeded. Yay! And in contrast to the sensual, the sexual often needs to have sex in order to relax. Whereas you heard me say before, the sensual needs to relax in order to have sex. So there was some point here that popped into my head about the sexual... and I'm forgetting it. 

Neil Sattin: Well, maybe it'll come back to you. But what you just said, I'm curious about kind of the gendered nature of particularly sensual versus sexual.  Do you find that it's a male bodied versus female bodied thing or not? Because that's kind of the classic example. Right? Like, the guy just wants to go straight to having sex and the woman needs time to, like chill out and and and really be relaxed and in her body. And in a lot of cases, that's true. 

Ian Ferguson: Yes. 

Neil Sattin: So what do you find in the as you've worked with, you know, hundreds and hundreds of people around this? 

Ian Ferguson:So, yeah. Genitals are not just the descriptor or the diagnostic for telling us what our primary blueprint type is. We've had, I think over one hundred and fifty thousand people take the quiz at this point.

Neil Sattin:Great.

Ian Ferguson:And there is a light correlation to gender or genitals in terms of what we stereotypically think. But there is a large population of energetic cock-body people, you know, walking around the planet. There are a lot of men like myself who are sensual. So, gender is not really the deciding factor on any significant level of what blueprint type you are.

Neil Sattin: OK, great. Good to know. I mean, I knew that, but I. But I wanted everyone to know that. 

Ian Ferguson: And I also want to say something here, too, that is really important: if you are not experiencing any of the ecstatic states or the sort of forms of sexuality or the ease of access to your eroticism that we're speaking about here, there is nothing wrong with you. You're not broken. You are not wrong. Our deeper philosophy is that there's actually nothing to fix. It's really about creating an access to who you are first and foremost. So you accept yourself so that you can honor who you are, where you are, and that then opens up the opportunity to explore and find out other aspects of who you are. If you want to. So none of these are like, if you want them, great. If you want these heightened connections to your eroticism or your orgasm. Fantastic. If it's not your thing. Fantastic. Again, nobody's wrong, broken, and there's nothing to fix. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. Yeah. That's that's one of the things that for me, I think was so freeing. Even in just taking the quiz was was that feeling of like, 'Oh, I'm I'm OK, just as how I am.' There was no aspect of the results of the quiz that said, here's where you're damaged or here's how you shouldn't be. So I appreciate that a lot. 

Ian Ferguson: You know, and this is also something that that's what it was. And it's kind of ties back in again. Within the realm of therapy around sex or sex therapy, there is often the... putting of sex into the place of aberrant behavior or, you know, diagnosing things in the form, there's a word that's escaping my mind right now. But associating different behaviors to, you know, the quote unquote, unhealthy. 

Neil Sattin: Right pathologizing. 

Ian Ferguson: Pathologizing sexuality in a lot of the literature within that the that psychologists and therapists study, really only refers to sexuality in the frame of pathology. So that is, and there are amazing sex therapists out there. And we have erotic blueprint coaches who are teaching our methodology where we're just, and these things have been changing in the DSM, where, you know, Kinky was a pathology, I think not even 10 years ago. And that has now been taken out of the DSM as a pathology. Sothings are shifting. And part of our work is the intent to accelerate that path towards acceptance that we are erotic beings. We are very diverse erotic beings. And the problems tend to come more when we're shoving these aspects of ourselves in the closet and siloing ourselves and feeling lost and alone with no ability to articulate who we are and who these natural instincts and being able to funnel them in a way that we're creating consciousness around them and that they're happening with consent, that we understand how to declare boundaries, we understand what consent really means. And that we have agency in our own eroticism. So it's very important to us to normalize consensual sexual behavior in all of its forms. 

Neil Sattin: Right. And I like the ability to bring consciousness to all of those forms. So I think typically one might think, for instance, of the sexual type as not a conscious type of sexuality, but in fact, if you bring consciousness to it and your awareness of how you are turned on by sight and sound and sexual language and very like, visceral sexual related things, then you are actually bringing a level of awareness that allows you to evolve when, how you how you approach that with other people and how your boundaries and edges bump up against someone else's. 

Ian Ferguson: Yes, exactly. Love it. 

Neil Sattin: All right. Let's go to the next one. So we've done an energetic, sensual, sexual and now? 

Ian Ferguson: Well, there would be kinky next. But with the sexual, we get to talk a little bit about the shadow aspect. 

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. Thank you. 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah. So one of the shadow aspects is this part of the sexual that tends to look to: "This is what sex is, and why is everybody making it so complicated?" So they can get this short sighted or single focused and sort of miss out on that smorgasbord of availability. And the shadow is often more an interrupter for the partner of a sexual, than it might be for the sexual themselves because there there could be just as a lack of awareness or even an acceptance that there's more on the table, more on offer. There may be different ways of communicating about eroticism and turn on than just getting right to the act of sex and orgasm. And, you know, and genitals so that that can be a shadow aspect. Another shadow aspect of the sexual, what we'll notice in some of our clients is that sometimes for the sexual they, this isn't true universally, but sometimes there will be being caught in an adolescent sexuality and we'll uncover that, perhaps they were shamed very distinctly or told that their sexuality or turn on was bad. So they at a very young age or have stuck it in the closet and they've never been felt safe to express themselves in their overt turn on by genitals and sex and the desire for it. So they will have certain behaviors that are just kind of unconscious around their sexuality. Where they may be less aware of a partner while they're engaged with that partner. The partner becomes objectified and feels objectified. So this is... This always feel a little challenging to talk about with a sexual because it sounds like a potentially like a judgment. But as you and I have been talking about, it's really just about bringing a new awareness to these things and being able to accept where we're at and then be able to expand out of that to give ourselves the acceptance so that then we can say we can actually get our eyes above the above the horizon and see more of what's possible. The sexual also, this isn't so much a shadow aspect, but the sexual... sex is kind of like like air and water. It is  a necessity for a sexual. It is what has them feel connected to themselves, alive, dropped in. So a sexual who is getting plenty of sex and really feeling satisfied on that front is going gonna tend to be much more effective at work and in their other relationships. They're just going to feel like they're together. They got it handled and they can go out and conquer the world. On the flip side, a sexual who is not getting their sexual needs fed and fulfilled, they can really feel atrophied and starved and sometimes unseen in their relationship because there they are looking for acceptance for that intensity of desire that they have in their eroticism. 

Neil Sattin: I'm curious, as you talk about this, what you offer couples where let's say someone who's a sensual or an energetic, is with a sexual. And it feels like typically the way I might have approached something like that is to encourage the sexual person to really learn the sensual language, learn the energetic language. How do you help people who are more sensually oriented, who need the slowness, who need to relax in order to have sex? How do you help them meet a sexual person who wants that, like visceral, quick, rapid thing? 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah. So that is that is an incredible question. And of course, one that the answers can often be very individual. And you know,one of the other things that we say quite often is that we wish to bust the myth of sexual incompatibility. That we are not sexually incompatible. We simply do not know how to speak each other's language of turn on. And that is particularly apparent in the pair up that you mentioned here when you're talking about an energetic with a sexual. And oddly enough, you know, that's we'll see a lot of that pairing, this sort of like opposites attract. And if you look at the core of the opposite attracts piece. It has to do with these recognizing in someone else these unlived or untapped aspects of vitality that we don't understand. We may look at and you know, if we have, if we're in the pheromonal soup and we're in love with that person, those, if I'm a sexual, and I'm getting turned on by an energetic, in the first flush of relationship, it may be like, oh, my God, this person is so amazing. They're so unique. I love these pieces of themselves. And then as the limerence period wears off, that initial six to two years and we fall back into our natural primary blueprint, then that's when the divergence happens and we start to see the sexual gets frustrated by the energetics need. The energetic has felt that their boundaries have been crossed or they haven't spoken up for themselves and they've been trying to live and satisfy their sexual while completely crossing their own boundaries to do so. And then resentments build up. And without the language of the blueprints, there's no recognition of like, oh, this is just our types speaking. And now there's an opportunity to bridge the gap and discover where we can meet each other. 

Ian Ferguson: So, there are a lot of ways that we go about bridging this gap in the work that we do. You know, one of the things that I mentioned earlier is we've got the speak, feed, heal and expand. And expanding into other blueprints is a big thing of what we teach, and how you can work to bridge the gap if you find yourself in a relationship where you are in opposing blueprints. Another another way that we'll work with people is to find where there is synergy. So we've got something that we use called the sex communication checklist. And it's a whole bunch of sexual practices broken down by blueprint type where you can say, "Yes, I'm interested in that. Mmm, I'm a maybe or I'm curious about that. And here are my no-ways." And we'll encourage our couples or people who are in poly relationships or whatever your relationship configuration is, or if you're dating, we even encourage people who are, you know, getting to that stage in their their dating life to share the sex communication checklist with their partner. And you fill it out separately... 

Neil Sattin: You mean on the first date?

Ian Ferguson: Yeah, well, for us, we kind of do that. So Jaiya and I will do that kind of thing with somebody that we're interested in, because that's the way we want to have our conversations, just like, Boom. Here it is. For others, you know, you may wait your second, third, fourth, 10th date. Just it's really your comfort level. But, you know, the advice is to go and fill those things, those forms out separately and then come back and compare and contrast. So you'll find just in those areas where you're both a total yes. Then you'll find areas where you might have been a yes and there are willing to or vise versa. You're willing to. And they were a full yes. Those are other areas where you can play. 

Ian Ferguson: And then there's the no-ways, which you know, those, the no-ways can change over time. But when you're in the first flush of really starting to articulate where you do connect.My recommendation is to not push on the no-ways to just get curious about them, because sometimes there's misunderstandings about what those know ways really mean, especially when it comes to zones of eroticism like kinky and energetic, where some of the language is not so obvious and projections and stereotypes may come in and have somebody judge what they think it means when somebody wants to do something like breath play or knife play. So getting curious about what that means if you've got a hard no-way but your partners a hell-yes to someplace where you don't meet up starting to ask questions. Well, what do you mean by that? What would that provide to you if we did play that way? What if you know what turns you on about that? So you start to open up a dialog of empathy with your partner about what it provides for them. And that's actually a third thing that I would talk about, which is actually a primary aspect of any great communication, which is essentially curiosity first. So the moment there's a trigger of the moment, there's a misunderstanding, the moment that something arises where there's discomfort or contraction, taking a breath, taking a moment and getting curious. What you mean by that? Was that mean to you? What pleasure would that provide? Why is it important to you? Instead of going into whatever our preconceptions may be, because we may be wildly off in in whatever caused us to contract or pull away or not hear our partner and their desires and needs? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. So there are so many different things that have come up for me over the course of what you're just saying, and I'm going to try to distill it. So one was the way that... Because you mentioned consent and boundaries as being so important and, so how do you encourage curiosity while at the same time honoring boundaries? You know, I'm thinking like, let's just take an example just to like, make it concrete. 

Ian Ferguson: Sure. 

Neil Sattin: And we'll we'll use this, like problems situation. So you've got a sexual person who's just like: "I just want you like when, I get home from work, what would be amazing is you if you just went down on me. And that would feel amazing to me." And their energetic partner is like, "Oh, my God. Like, that's the last thing I want to do when you get home from work. I need space. I need to like feel out how your how your energy is before I'm willing to..." Right? So an energetic person might say, "Well, I have a boundary and that's my boundary. I'm not gonna to I mean..." Especially an energetic person. Right. Because they're all about the space where the sexual person is just like, "No, come over here and like. Touch me. Do me." You know, in some way. 

Ian Ferguson: "Yeah. Let's get to it!"

Neil Sattin: Yeah. So how would you... I think it's easy to kind of go in the inverse way where you talk to the sexual person and be like, "You just gotta learn to be patient and enjoy the anticipation." Right? But let's be fair here. And so that's one thing. And, I want to just place that in the context of... my guess, which is that what comes up when a lot of people take your quiz and find out these things about themselves erotically, is that you get the relief, the sense of, oh, that's who I am, or that's so freeing to have learned that about myself and to learn that and to guess that about my partner. But then, there's the pain of recognition like, oh, this is this is maybe also at the heart of some of the ways that we haven't been working so well. You know, we got through the limerence stage and we've been in this place of tension and discomfort. So it makes me think about what you mentioned about the need for healing. And so it feels like those two things need to coexist, because if you're dealing with this hypothetical energetic and sexual couple, if that's been going on for any length of time, there's going to need to be a context of healing that allows them to even step into that space. 

Ian Ferguson: Sure. Boy. One thing that's amazing about this conversation in general is how kaleidoscopic it is as we open one topic, then it starts to thread into all of the other areas. 

Neil Sattin: I know, and we still have two more types to talk about.

Ian Ferguson: Exactly. So the. OK, so one thing is that it is going to be just as difficult, sometimes, more difficult for the sexual, to put the brakes on what they need and want. And often that shows up in that they have been feeling unfed, like their libido is through the roof. They'd be having sex three times a day, while their energetic partner needs the connection. The space maybe rarely opens to full on intercourse and eroticism in a way that both people are are really feeling satisfied. So, we're dealing with opposing blueprints and we're dealing with what appears from the outside to look like potentially an unbridgeable gap. And in that space, the curiosity piece is vital. Let's take it from the energetics perspective and their sexual partners just said this to them: "This is really how I want it. I want you to go down on me the moment I come in the door." And from the energetic perspective, you could be saying, first acknowledging, "Thank you for letting me know that. I'd love to be able to provide that for you. And it's going to take some growth, I think, for me to get there. And I would like to know one, what it provides for you? Like, how does that make you feel?" So that as it is the energetic asking that question, can I start to bridge the gap and create an empathetic bridge of really understanding how their partner gets fed? And sometimes, even just really opening up the dialog so that  anybody in a relationship can be fully seen will take the pressure down several inches of: "It's gotta look this way. I've gotta, when I come home, we've got to be able to take my pants down and you gotta go down on me. That's the only way it's gonna be." So allowing for it to be seen and heard and say, "God, I really want that for you. I want that for us. And I'm scared because.." and getting into personal vulnerability. "I'm scared in it as well, because I want to provide that for you. And I think if I do that, I'm going to actually contract and feel less close to you. So I want to figure out a way to do this. But I really want to figure out a way to do that, so it works for both of us. Are you willing to explore and figure out how we can do that?"

Ian Ferguson: So, then that leads into the exploration and in deeper curiosity and starting to find a way. So we're getting some synergy here, hopefully between two people with willingness. That's a primary need inside a relationship, a willingness to try and meet each other and see each other and then starting to play with what we think it's supposed to look like. 

Ian Ferguson: So, you know, a specific example with the energetic may be, you know, "You're away at work all day. I don't really have any idea where you're at. I don't know what you're gonna be like when you come in the door. And if you're full of stress and anxiety, I pick it up immediately. And, I just feel tension and I don't feel comfortable feeling close to you. So why don't we try that throughout the day, you'll send me a text giving me where you are emotionally and giving me a piece of, telling me some way that you love me." So it's an energetic foreplay so that there's a sense of connection while the person's away at work. And it's not this immediate leap into just genital based sex, but they have some connection. "And when you come in the door for a week, let's try where or for the next two weeks we'll try it. We'll do this and I'll I'll go down on you shortly after you come home from work. But what I want to try to get there is, I'd like five minutes of eye gazing and breathing together. And then I'll go down on you." So starting to get into basically the science of your turn on and your partner's turn on and finding ways where you can bridge the gap and, there's no compromise. One of our mentors, Kelly Bryson, who wrote the book. "Don't Be Nice. Be Real." has a beautiful phrase I love, which is compromise is resentment, 50/50. So the whole book is about nonviolent communication. And the real gift of nonviolent communication, from my perspective, is the ability to find such a deep sense of empathy with the other that you find synergy such that you can figure out how you can meet each other's needs willingly without any compromise and get really creative about how you get to that solution. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I want that for all of you listening. I want you to that experience. So just as a reminder, if you want to take the quiz to figure out what kind of type you are and you and you get a nice breakdown of what percentage you are of all the types. And we still have two more to talk about. You can visit erotic-breakthrough-dot-com-slash alive. We will have a transcript of this conversation at Neil-Sattin-dot.com-slash-erotic, which will also have links to Ian and Jaiya's sites, so you can get more information that way. And you guys, do you have have a course, right, that's not only walks people through this stuff, but also helps them go through all these stages that you were talking about expanding into each other's blueprints, and feeding themselves. And they're obviously this is such a rich conversation, so what is the course that you offer people? 

Ian Ferguson: So we have a number of ways that we dive into this material. But the sort of the the entrance point is the erotic blueprint breakthrough course. And that is an online course. Along with it comes the opportunity to be part of our online community, our online membership group for three months as a bonus, just to kind of dip your toe in there. And the blueprint course is a very deep dive into the blueprints, because the blueprints, as you may be picking up, are not just simply about a sort of surface level idea of what you're erotic blueprint type is, but the blueprints are the core, your core erotic blueprints, what stage of sexuality you're in, where you are with the four pathways to sexual health and pleasure. These are all aspects of our sexuality. And we're really looking at sexuality as a 360 degree, you know, kaleidoscope of who you are, where you are in your life, what your aspirations are in your sexuality. And the blueprint course walks you through that process of really dialing in through games like fun ways to discover what your blueprint type is because you can take the quiz and that's your mind answering the questions. But when you get in your body, you may get different answers. You may open up in ways that you do you didn't that are a surprise, like oh! An example of that is a lot of people will take the quiz and the written portion of something related to kinky or even their predisposition to maybe have judgments about the selves around kink or shame around their kinky desires, may have them answering those questions either a little more carefully or kind of avoiding the thing that might turn them on, or may not just even relate to them because it's not a physical experience. But when you start doing things like our A-B game or the body mapping, which are games that we lead you through, then you start to get a real sense of your pleasure map. And these are great things to do with a partner, with somebody you're dating or a long term relationship to start to map each other's pleasure and start to really get a vocabulary and a way to articulate all your needs. So you can get them fed and fulfilled in relationship. And then there's the health and wellness aspect of our sexuality. Our hormonal health, our biochemical health, our bio energetic health and our emotional health. And this is another aspect inside of the blueprint course where I had spoken earlier about the healing portion around this, where we dive into those aspects, those things that may be putting the brakes on your sexuality, that may have you stopping yourself at that edge of where you really want to explore, where you really want to open up. There's a number of factors that go into really being able to to have a well rounded, vital vitality around your eroticism. 

Neil Sattin: So in other words. It's a super comprehensive course, where you would get a lot probably out of going through it. And if you take the quiz, then Ian and Jaiya will make you aware of how to how to get the course and when they launch it and when it's available for you. 

Ian Ferguson: For sure. 

Neil Sattin: Definitely, check that out. 

Ian Ferguson: Thanks for boiling that down.. 

Neil Sattin: Quick side note you have. You have definitely a hard stop at 2:30 your time? 

Ian Ferguson: It could go a little longer. 

Neil Sattin: Okay. I'm just eyeballing the clock and I want to honor your time. And thank you. We have two more to do. 

Neil Sattin: So and then you also do some live events to write for. 

Ian Ferguson: Yes, for. So every year we do something called Paths to Passion. That's that's sort of our entry level workshop where we introduce you to blueprints on a deeper level. This last year in October, we just do it once a year, we had 540 people at this event. It is just a beautiful way to drop in, start to get familiar a bit with our community and some of our coaches. And that's awesome. Our other workshops basically require you to have done that first workshop or at least have gone through the erotic blueprint breakthrough course, because we at each level of workshop that we offer, we go a little deeper, we get a bit more experiential with what we're doing. Again, everything at our live workshops is all very consent based and based on, you know, respecting people's boundaries and not doing anything to coerce anyone to do anything they don't want to do. The Path to Passion Workshop is, you know, I call it PG-13 because we definitely use racy language, we are talking about sex, but it's a clothes on, you know, there are immersive practices that are part of it, but it's all pretty digestible even from somebody who may be completely new to in diving into their own sexual exploration. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. Yeah, I could imagine being excited about something like that. Being really nervous about something like that. 

Ian Ferguson: Sure. We have people who just say that they're terrified to come Paths to Passion and pretty universally, on the flip side of that, they're just like, "Oh, wow, you've just normalized a conversation that I've had so much tension about my entire life. And I felt so safe in your community, in your environment. I felt taken care of." And, you know, more often than not, and the majority of people who come to that event come out with a stronger sense of their accepting themselves. Accepting the conversation and feeling comfortable, many times, for the first time to even claim what they want, who they are, and expressing a willingness to go after it. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That was exactly the word that was coming to me. Like fostering that willingness for themselves and in the way that they understand others too. 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah, for sure. 

Neil Sattin: Okay. So for all those people out there who are like when are they going to talk about the other two types? 

Ian Ferguson: That's it. We're using the energetic tease to hold out and have you want it really badly. A little bit of kink in not letting, not giving you what you desire. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Let's transition to the kinky type. 

Ian Ferguson: Cool. So kinky actually ends up being my primary blueprint. It is my fastest path to arousal. The kinky world is a vast, vast world. And simply put, we think of kinky as whatever is taboo for you. And that may run counter to the stereotype that people witness and see, even from movies like "50 Shades of Grey," where often it's the edgier aspects of kink that are that are labeled as kink or seen as kink. The leather. The dungeons. The whips and chains. Pain. These aspects of kink. And they are, they are part of the world of kink. But there are only one segment of it. So whatever taboo, whatever is taboo for you. For example, Jaiya had some clients in her practice who had been married for 40 years. They went to the same restaurant every Tuesday night, then every Thursday night, they would have sex and they would only have sex in missionary position. So when they started coaching with Jaiya and they started exploring having sex doggy style or doing oral sex, these things which may be very vanilla to your listeners or just most of your listeners, that was really edgy, hugely taboo and carried all of this thrill. So that was kinky for them. Whereas for others, kinky may mean, you know, intense submission scenes or intense rope tying and knife play, could even be hooks. You know, it can get very, very, very intense. And further, we break down kink into two different categories. We think about the psychological kink, which deals more with power games, power play, control and surrender from a not so much like the constriction and bondage in that version, but more somebody giving their power or submitting to the person who is in control of the scene. Psychological games. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, something like come over here, you know. Face the wall. 

Ian Ferguson: Yes. Yeah. Get on your knees. 

Neil Sattin: Like that sort of thing. Yeah.

Ian Ferguson:  That sort of thing. Or you have to hold these paperclips on your fingertips with your arms outstretched and if you drop when you're gonna get a punishment. So that would be as a psychological predicament game. And then we have the physiological or the physical which tends to be more the spankings, the canings, the constriction. I'm a big fan of constriction as part of one of my turn ons. So it's more just the physical aspects of it. And you can be both. I'm certainly both psychological and physiological kink, kind of blended together. And the superpowers of the kink also, they're wildly creative. Other superpowers of the kink would be often in conscious kink, which I would recommend you practice highly conscious kink and highly safe kink if you're interested in this realm of exploration. The one of the superpowers is also the creation of the scene, creating really clear boundaries, creating really clear consent conversations and creating arousal and turn on by really setting up those scenes and scenarios with such clarity and holding those containers really powerfully. Other superpowers for the kinky, kind of like the energetic is, you can have orgasms without even being touched. So one example is a friend of ours did a scene with someone where they tied her all up. They tied her to a really powerful music speaker. Cranking like heavy metal music, and they gave the impression by shutting a door that they had left her alone in that room and so she was in this state of of fear, surrender all of these endorphins running in her system. And from her telling, she was left there for hours. That could have been 30 minutes and it felt like hours. But then the dom came in and slammed the door really hard. And she had the most insane orgasm, squirting orgasm that she'd ever had in her life. And he didn't touch her at all. So, that's an incredible super power of the kinky, as well as being able to go into what's called subspace. And that is that sort of endorphin rush where you completely surrender to sensation. And so it can often I mean, for me, the couple of times of I've accessed it, it's essentially same thing to me as reaching highly spiritual states through tantric sex or meditation. you go into a oneness state where you have surrendered identity, you've surrendered any sense of time or space, and it's for many people in the kink community, it's sort of the Valhalla. It's the thing you're seeking when you're doing this kind of scene work. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah. And shadow aspects of the kinky would be one of the biggest ones is shame. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

Ian Ferguson: So deep, deep shame. What's wrong with me? Why am I like this? As Jaiya and I, we use our personal life as a petri dish of experimentation. And that's where we've gotten so many of the games and techniques and things that we're that we teach is that we've played with this stuff in our own lives. And one of the ways that we dove really deeply into the realm of kink, kinky was a zero on Jaiya's blueprint quiz. And it was a, I don't remember what that percentage was was like, forty seven percent on mine. It was my primary blueprint. So here Jaiya and I in our relationship went through a three year period of deep disconnection. I mean, we were, we were almost done well. And she was an energetic sexual and I was sensual kinky. We were completely on opposite ends of the spectrum and we didn't realize it because Jaiya hadn't downloaded the blueprints yet. They were starting to come into play and she was trying, she was coming home from strip classes and doing cat pounces and trying to turn me on in a sexual blueprint. While we're in this period of time and I, my sensual was kind of like looking for that closeness and connection and down regulation while she was jumping in with, "I need sex, I don't want sex and approaching me from a sexual viewpoint." And we were just missing each other entirely, feeling unseen, unheard. Jaiya was crying herself to sleep at night. And I was you know, my confidence was just dropping through the floor. And in that state I was pulling back and not giving her my presence. So we were really headed towards the end of our relationship until this stuff started to get dialed in, of like, "Oh, that's who you are. Erotically. Wow. Okay. Now I can start to learn how to speak that." Or, when you come on to me in that way, I know what it means as opposed to thinking you're just imposing what you want on me. And I'm a tool of your turn on that kind of thing. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I think in the interview I heard with Jaiya. She spoke a little bit about that and her journey from well, she was writing a book on kink, right? Did that come first? Like she got the book deal. And she's like, "Alright, now I've got to figure this out."

Ian Ferguson: Yeah. We had done we had gone into some stuff that we teach that really started to heal our relationship, which is actively putting ourselves in sex life challenges where we're taking on a form of exploration and setting it on a calendar and making a date to explore in that way. And that was one of the big beginnings of the healings inside of our relationship. And also diving into the kink realm, which you're exactly right. Jaiya got the book deal to do the book on Kink and then had to do a bunch of research because you didn't know anything about it. And we dove into a 40-40 experiment where for 40 days, Jaiya dominated me and I was submissive. We took ten days off and then I dominated her for 40 days and she was submissive. And during those days, we were studying with kink experts in the bondage realm and the psychological kink realm in all sorts of areas of kink to really get a full understanding what the world was about. And that's when... like, I knew I was kinky and I thought it was a little bit of light bondage and some, you know, gender play and things like that. But the level and depth of my kink fully came into fruition when we started diving into this 40-40 experiment. I had no idea how much of a turn on it was for me and sort of how deep it went in my erotic map. And nor did Jaiya. So this whole aspect of my eroticism wasn't even being seen or honored by both of us. And one of the things I kept asking, you know, 30 days in to my being submissive to Jaiya, was like, "Why does this stuff turn me on?" I mean, there's this assumption or this this prejudice to think that kink is born out of people who were abused or have some dysfunction. And I had no sexual abuse. I had none of these things associated to that. So I'm ike, what is this about?! And one of our kink teachers during this kept hearing me ask the question. They said, "Stop asking the question, just enjoy yourself." It was just like a breath of relief of like, Oh, yeah, right. It doesn't have to mean anything. It's just what turns me on and I can play with it. And as long as I'm playing with it safely and consensually, it's a beautiful exploration. 

Neil Sattin: And was there anything in particular that you recall, Jaiya doing that helped her with what I imagine might have been challenging as primarily an energetic, which is her judgment around it? 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah. So there are a bunch of trigger things for Jaiya in the realm of kink. One was how far out my edges were because she couldn't find them. So, you know, there's in kink play. You'll set a scene, you'll begin the scene, you'll end the scene. And there's something often called aftercare, where in most circumstances, from my knowledge, the aftercare is usually guided towards having the submissive come back to their body and feel comfortable and connected because they've often gone through a very intense experience. Well, a Dom can also go through a very intense experience because they're holding the container for any number of you know edgy sexual explorations. For Jaiya, who is energetic, you know, when she first started doing kink, she would and was getting trained by a kink master, she would give somebody a spanking and she smacked their ass and then she'd go: "Are you okay? Are you breathing?" And the submissive would look up at her with like anger in their eyes, like, what are you doing? And so the kink person was like, no, that is not it at all. They're signed up for this. This is what they've agreed to. This is what they want. It's not going to check in with them after, you know, everything that you do. The time for that is in aftercare, after the scene is over. So anyway, we would do these scenes and Jaiya would be, you know, going pretty deeply into anything from, you know, we'd be playing with caning one session, we'd be playing with really derogatory language in another session, and usually we come out the other other end of the scene and she'd say, "I need some cuddling, I need some aftercare." So I come out like, "Oh, my God, that was great. We could've gone so much further!" And with no need for aftercare because I was just in a state of turn on and fun and arousal. So aftercare was a big thing, when I was dominating Jaiya, we started to uncover some of the aspects of her trauma inside of that container and we got a kink friendly therapist and we took their advice and we incorporated what they were telling us to do inside of our kink scenes. So we didn't put a stop to our exploration, we just put new boundaries in containers. So like we were playing with gagging her and because she needed her to have her voice, we took gagging off of the play because there were things that would happen if she had her eyes closed, we took blindfolding out of the erotic container so that she could have agency, so she could have her voice. And it's often said about kink that kink is not therapy, but it can be therapeutic and done in the right ways and with the right consent, with the right establishment of the container and with safety, it often can be a way even for people who have had trauma in their past or been abused to reclaim agency in a situation where, you know, when it happened to them earlier in their life, they had no agency. It was being dominated and taken advantage of without having any control. 

Neil Sattin: Well, we are definitely going to have to have the conscious kink episode, because I can tell there's lots to talk about there in particular. Yeah. Wild. But I appreciate your, I mean, it's obvious considering what we're here to talk about. But just your ability to share in the personal aspects of that journey and what you and Jaiya experienced, I think with any of these things, it's so easy listening to kind of idealize or project onto you like, "Well that must have been so freeing!" And to miss the ways that it was challenging or the fact that you guys were nearly done before you, you really started that exploration. So... 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah, yeah. For sure. Thank you for that. Yeah. Yeah. So let me just dive into the shapeshifter, so we don't miss any of the blueprints. 

Neil Sattin: Yes. 

Ian Ferguson: So the shapeshifter is the sort of like tends to be the most sophisticated of all the blueprint types. And the shapeshifter is turned on by all of the blueprint types. They are, you know, you may lead with a primary. So I've I've ventured pretty much into shape shifter category where I can be turned on by all of the positives of every blueprint type. But my leads, my primaries are still gonna be kinky and sensual. Those are the things they're going to allow me to get to arousal and then we can bring in the energetic and the sexual and very those things. So, one of the superpowers of the shapeshifter is that they are turned on by all of it. A shapeshifter who is matured in their erotic exploration can be the ultimate lover because they can shapeshift to please any of the blueprint types. So they have all the skills, they have all the turn ons and they have access to all of those super powers. 

Ian Ferguson: The shapeshifter, like an energetic shapeshifter, can be almost like the Stradivarius violin of eroticism because they have such an access to energy and what's happening in a space and so much aliveness in their body. And then they have all of the other pieces of turn on available to them. So very, very fine instrument, the energetic shapeshifter. 

Ian Ferguson: The shadow side of the shapeshifter are often being starved and feeling starved because they are shapeshifting to feed other their blueprint types. They're not feeling fed, they're not claiming their own desires. 

Ian Ferguson: A shape shapeshifter may have shut down their sexuality because they've been told you're too much, you're too big, you want too much, you're too loud. So I'll give freedom to all the shape shifters who are listening to this. You are not too much. You're not too loud. The people, unfortunately, that you've been playing with just either don't understand you or can't play at the level to which you desire to play. So you've got a beautiful instrument, you've got beautiful access, incredible range in your eroticism. Another challenge for a shapeshifter, we almost refer to this as a sixth blueprint type, which is a shapeshifter can have the shadow aspects of all of the types. And that can be really challenging because at every turn there's something that could be the break to your arousal, an energetic interruption, a sensual interruption, kinky shame, you know, feeling shut down, shut down as a sexual. All of those things can weigh on the shapeshifter in and close off their eroticism. So a shapeshifter, another key indicator of a shapeshifter to me is somebody who really loves to play in extended play. They have a voracious appetite for more and more and more with some shape shifters. You could be playing for three, four hours and be like, are you done yet again? And they're like, "We're just getting started. Don't go away." Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. So there might be some training involved, some endurance training for people who are matched with the shape shifters. 

Ian Ferguson: Yes. Yeah. And you know, as ways to play with a shapeshifter where you can incorporate toys, toys are really good thing to bring in with shapeshifter play. You can also. It does it can get very octopus pussy and kind of like your limbs are all over the place with trying to really feed a shapeshifter fully. If you're just it's a one-on-one partnership. But you can bring in vibrators or, you know, panty vibrators or butt plugs. You can use, you can tie the shapeshifter down and to incorporate the kink while you're bringing in other sensory play with scratchy nails or some kind of choking or light, energetic touch. It's just, there's so much to play with. And another indicator of the shapeshifter is that they can take tons of divergent sensory input all at once. 

Neil Sattin: Mmhmm. 

Ian Ferguson: You know, somebody who might have a couple of the blueprint types, like a kinky sensual like myself. And if I didn't have my energetic and I didn't have my sexual expanded, and you started to incorporate sexual or energetic inside of a container where were playing with sensual kink. I could get overwhelmed or annoyed and and it'll be a shut down for me. Whereas the shapeshifter is like "Bring it on. I want more. Yes. Throw in the energetic. Yes. Throw in the sensual." And it may be more about how you stack the blueprints for a shapeshifter. Then it is about them getting overwhelmed. They may never get overwhelmed as long as you weave them in in a way that really turns them on. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. So that's all about the games and ways of discovering which ones work, which ways of stimulating and diving deeper into that sexual sphere, work well together for that particular person. 

Ian Ferguson: Yeah, we call it the blueprint stack. It's a bonus thing that we offer as well as part of the blueprint course. And so when you know your stack, you know the kind of waves, the first access point and how you can build on each blueprint level. So when somebody takes the quiz, make sure when you take that quiz that you check out the Web page that pops up right when you get your answers, you'll see as you scroll down, you'll see your blueprint types in percentages and you can take a screenshot of that. So you have it for your records. You'll get an email that should have that same breakdown in it as well. But you'll often your primary blueprint is the entrance point. So for me, it'd be kinky. That is a surefire way to get me dropped in, turned on. Then it might be weaving in some sensual so I get some more relaxation and connection and then you can play energetic mixed with kink with me and really heighten the turn on because there's this anticipation and you're not giving me the satisfaction of the orgasm. And then you can weave back some kink and really extend the waves of pleasure and extend the lovemaking session. And then sort of capping off for me would be the sexual where we're going right for it and we're headed towards orgasm and ejaculation. And yay! You've had an amazing sexual experience!

Neil Sattin: That feels like a great place to end this conversation. Ian Ferguson, you've been so generous with your time and your wisdom. And I hope that you are all feeling expanded like I am right now. Clearly, we could just keep expanding. And like you said, the kaleidoscopic effects of this conversation, there's just such a rich journey for us to go on. So, again, if you want to take the quiz, erotic-breakthrough-dot-com-slash-alive. If you go to Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-erotic, you can download the transcript from this conversation and get links to Ian and Jaiya's sites. And Ian it's just been such a pleasure to chat with you. And I'm really just in such appreciation of the work that you and Jaiya are doing in the world. It's powerful stuff. 

Ian Ferguson: Mm hmm. Thank you, Neil. And deep gratitude to you for inviting me onto the show. This is still a challenging topic to breach and really have people talk openly about. So you're on the frontier with me and I'm grateful to have your partnership. 

Neil Sattin: It's so great to share this space with you. 

Ian Ferguson: Thank you. 

Dec 21, 2019

While some kind of issue is going to be at the heart of every breakup, how do you get past the issues and create a breakup that's kind, generous, and respectful? How do you find compassion and understanding within the pain and grief? When it comes to conscious uncoupling, or divorce, are there ways to make the process easier on yourself and your soon-to-be-ex partner? In today's episode we confront whether or not breaking up has to be a shitshow - or can it be something that's easeful despite the pain that's inherent in the process.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

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Dec 13, 2019

What do you do when you're suffering? How do you escape patterns of blaming in your relationship, and find the place within you that can turn painful moments into growth, and transformation? And how do you know when you've experienced too much pain - when it's time to move on? This week, we’re having a return visit with Guy Finley, author of the new book Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together and the international bestseller The Secret of Letting Go. You’ll get to hear Guy’s work in action, as we tackle what’s real - when you’re hurting - and find practical ways to embody deep spiritual principles of healing when your heart is aching.

If you’d like to listen to my first episode with Guy Finley, check out Episode 164 - How Love Can Dissolve Conflict

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

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Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today we're fortunate to have return visit from a favorite guest from the past. His name is Guy Finley, and he is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and the bestselling author of the book The Secret of Letting Go, as well as 45 other books and audio programs that have sold the whole world over.

Neil Sattin: In our most recent conversation with Guy, we were discussing his book, Relationship Magic, which is subtitled Waking Up together, which is all about the ways that we continually come back to love in order to connect with our partner and how to get past the kinds of patterns that block us or hold us back when we're in relationship with our beloved.

Neil Sattin: So today, we're going to dive deeper into relationship magic. And initially I was thinking that we might spend some time around the topic of how to make a fresh start, because that is so often the challenge in relationship where you are dealing not only with what is happening right in front of you in the moment, but with the history that you share with your partner, the history that you bring into the relationship and potentially the accumulation of hurts or transgressions or ways that you wish, you wish your partner were showing up for you or maybe you're feeling the weight of how you wish you were showing up for your partner, how your partner wishes you were showing up for them. There, I got it out.

Neil Sattin: I'm also going to be candid with you that today my heart is a little hurting and aching. And so I think that all of this is going to come into the mix, and I'm really excited to have Guy with us today. If you are interested in a transcript of today's episode, you can visit neilsattin.com/magic2, that's the word magic, and the number 2, or as always you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And the reason why this episode is magic 2 is my first episode with Guy, our first episode together, was neilsattin.com/magic. So here we are to continue the conversation. Guy Finley, it's so great to have you here with me today.

Guy Finley: Thank you, Neil, I'm happy to be with you too, I remember fondly our first conversation and I know we'll have a meaningful dialogue together, today.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'm right there with you. I'm always excited when people want to come back and I'm super excited when it's after having had an amazing conversation like the first one that we had, so I definitely encourage you listening to go back and check that episode out. Yeah, and I'm curious, you were sitting there on the other end hearing my introduction and I have some thoughts about where I might like to start, and Guy, I'm wondering, is there something in particular that spoke to you as we started to dive into our conversation together?

Guy Finley: Well, you know, we can look at and we will, I'm sure, specifics, but I think that one of the main points at least in our last conversation and as we'll recover and uncover again today, we all have a very distinct responsibility for how we feel. Our tendency is to be almost completely outwardly oriented, meaning that our sense of self is virtually in the hands of those that we are with, around or consider, and depending on the moment of that consideration, so goes the feeling we have of ourself, and I think that we have to marry this idea. I have a way of expressing it, Neil, and you might want to write this down, listeners, because it gives us a much broader view of our experience of relationships, not withstanding... How do I say this? Without diminishing the significance of individual ones.

Guy Finley: Here it is. As goes my attention, so comes my experience. As goes my attention, so comes my experience. I'm sitting here in Southern Oregon, it's a fairly overcast fall day. The ground on my property is 100% covered with leaves. I know there is grass under it, but it's just a carpet of leaves and looking out the window and watching the birds and the leaves, and all that nature brings about, I give my attention to the beauty of this fall day, and my experience follows. My attention goes to a massive buck. It's the rut season here, and so these beautiful massive bucks are chasing the does, and I can feel in that buck this incredible natural strength, really power, and I'm lucky, forgive me if I wax on too long here, because I've hand raised like eight generation of deer here, not in the sense of being with them every single day, but most of them know me and I can hand feed them, so I'm able to be very close to these powerful creatures.

Guy Finley: As goes, my attention, so comes my experience. Now, we get that when it comes to nature. That's why we like mountain vistas, ocean views, beautiful sunsets, colorful fall. Because the experience we have is inseparable from what we're attending to in the moment. You following me, Neil?

Neil Sattin: Yes, of course.

Guy Finley: So now, though, when it comes to our relationships, we have to make a little deeper connection, and that is that my attention goes on to something from my past, something I just lost, something that hurts, and I can't help but believe that there's no choice for me but to feel the things that I am, and here's the key, being given to feel by where attention has been taken. And in this instance, it's a very key idea. In nature, I give my attention to things that are beautiful because I love the experience of knowing the beauty within me that I can see outside of me. When it comes to our relationships with other human beings, whether it's a husband, a wife, someone on the street, whatever the case may be, that in those moments I have to understand, especially if I'm suffering, that my attention has been taken and placed on something that while it may have occurred is no longer occurring, it's literally in the past, and the experience that I'm being given because my attention goes onto something painful, sorrowful is because I don't recognize yet that I have a certain complicity with those kind of moments where my contentment seems to be taken from me, but in truth, I'm giving it away.

Guy Finley: So I just want to get this broader picture in mind so that we understand that we are never powerless in the face of some painful moment in a relationship, but rather we don't understand where our true power lies, which is to possess our own attention and use the moments where our attention wants to be taken to change the kind of human being we are through that relationship in the moment, then as we change, everything about our life changes as well.

Neil Sattin: There's so much to go from from what you were just saying. And on the show I often talk about the reality of how you feel in the moment and that there are ways that if you try to just kinda gloss over how you're feeling and what's coming up for you, that you could end up doing a lot of damage to your relationship. And this comes up more often than not, I think, when people are in a state of trigger, they're really angry, or really scared, and then they're trying to interact with each other from that place. But when you're operating from your fight-flight or your freeze place, it's rare that's something good can come of that. So I usually invite people to give attention to what is happening within them.

Neil Sattin: And so as luck would have it, I'm taking in your words as goes my attention, so comes my experience and recognizing that my attention goes so clearly to this experience of my heart aching. And as you were describing the world outside your window there, I was gazing out my window here at the urban landscape that is right outside, and what I noticed more than anything is the quality of the autumn light, this really... Well, the words that are coming to me are where it's like stark, this stark yellow light, and I love the quality of that light, I always feel like the world looks so much more clear to me, and it is like a spotlight trained on the state of feeling that I'm experiencing in this moment.

Guy Finley: Yeah, and we're going to unwrap all of this, because I like you, especially in the fall, and I don't know exactly why, maybe it's because the angle of the sun creates a different frequency or I don't know exactly what it is, but at certain times, it's almost, I don't know if there's such a word, rapturous, there's just such a unique feeling that one derives from that light. Now, taking pains to look at that, is the unique feeling in the light itself, or is the unique feeling a relationship between that light coming from the sun and the parts of myself in which it is reflecting. This is key. And the answer is, it's because it stirs in my consciousness a quality or a character that I would never know were it not for that moment of relationship and where my attention is in that same moment.

Guy Finley: So we're building an understanding here that moments like those are so precious to us, if they are, because they are first awakening in us parts of our own consciousness that otherwise we don't have access to, so that the moment of that light is the same as the realization of a level of our own consciousness, that without the light, we can't experience, so we get that and we love it and we want to give our attention to that light, to that buck, to the leaves, whatever it may be, for what it seems to give to us in the same moment.

Guy Finley: But now, listeners, Neil, let's turn it around. Let's say I'm faced, for whatever reason, not with the additional beauty, the extra fulfillment of something in myself by a relationship with nature around me. But let's flip it around and say suddenly, I seem to be filled with a sense of loss. I seem to be in a hole somewhere because I can't take my mind off of what someone did or didn't do, what he said, what she didn't follow through with, any of those conditions. And we have to understand, if we're willing to, is that it's the same principle in action. What the moment is bringing to me is a revelation of an aspect of my own consciousness in this instance that seems not to be fulfilled, but rather seems to be taken from me, something precious.

Guy Finley: And this is where for me the rubber meets the road. If in fact a moment comes along, and I'm filled with whatever, anger, fear, anxiety, trepidation, a mixture of all of those things, my usual reaction is to look at the event that I hold responsible for the revelation. She didn't this, he did that. And when we look at the moment, the person, the problem as the reason for the revelation, we ignore the fact of what it is that's being revealed in us by that moment. So that I'm saying that these unwanted moments, as opposed to wanted ones, are every bit as valuable, if not more valuable, because those moments that we don't want are because something is being revealed in our consciousness that believes one way or another it is only as good and valuable and capable of contentment as is the condition outside of it responsible for its momentary appearance, which is why, by the way, we become so dependent, so attached, it never really dawns on us how this attachment grows.

Guy Finley: And I'm not saying, Neil, you know I'm not, that we don't fall in love, that we don't have attachments. I've been married for 40 years and every, God only knows why, blue moon, somehow I have this dream that she's not the same person, that she's not as attentive or caring and I wake up in that dream from a certain kind of sorrow that doesn't exist without the dream, but I realize that the dream is in fact a revelation of a level of attachment that I'm not conscious of, so I'm not denigrating the relationship, I'm not even saying there's anything wrong, in quotes, with that attachment. What I am saying is that there's something far more right for me as a man, a human being, in realizing that where there is attachment, there is dependency; where there's dependency, there's inevitable sorrow and fear.

Guy Finley: And to understand that doesn't take from us the richness of the loss of something. To me, it enriches the moment, because it allows me to tap into, become conscious of parts of myself that were it not for that moment I would never know the extent to which I am attached, dependent and therefore, back to the opening comment, therefore now I get it. My attention is going to the attachment, not to the beauty of what I may have had or do have, but to the fear of loss and primarily the fear of having lost myself because someone else did what they did.

Guy Finley: And we can see that in scale in every relationship we have with life, not just with husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, relationship with money, relationship with health, all of these aspects of our consciousness that we have become unknowingly attached to and therefore demanding that they remain in place. So, that should something shift and suddenly we don't know who we are anymore, I would argue, even as painful as it may be, that that's a very special kind of revelation, serving a very special kind of realization that without it, we would never know the extent of where we have handed over our life to something outside of us. I'll stop there.

Neil Sattin: Okay, so I feel like, yeah, I feel like you're getting to... You're teasing my next question, in a way, because...

Guy Finley: Sure.

Neil Sattin: And as you were talking about attachment in particular, it wasn't lost on me that your big book is called The Secret of Letting Go, so I was thinking about, like, okay, yeah, I think I think I have a sense of where we're headed here, but I... I wonder, yeah, I wonder what the next step is. And there are actually two little pictures that are unfurling from this particular moment for me. One is being, let's say, the person who's feeling the heartache or feeling the result of the attachment, feeling the anger, the fear, the shame, the injustice...

Guy Finley: Betrayal?

Neil Sattin: All of that, yes. One question is like, great, this is being revealed to me, what do I do? So that's question number one. Question number two in particular relates to relationship, because I do believe that there are some experiences that you just can't have without being in relation to something, and that's why it's important to not feel like you have to work out all your stuff before you get into a relationship with someone, 'cause no matter what, they're going to stir things up in you and there are things you can't quote unquote fix until you are faced with them in relationship. However, what if you're in relationship and you're in a practice of realization around all these challenging states of feeling and consciousness, but your partner that isn't operating from that place, so the more that you lean into the realization of the reality of what's happening in that moment, your partner leans more into wanting you to fix, wanting you to change, wanting you to be other than who you actually are, because they're convinced that you need to change something in order to fix their experience.

Neil Sattin: So they're too connected but somewhat divergent questions. Where do you feel inspired to dive in first?

Guy Finley: I want to be very clear. When we fall in love, we have a passion, we fall in love and have that passion for someone or something. Because at the onset of that relationship, we are privileged through that person or that condition to go through what that relationship alone awakens in us because of the unique elements that have converged in that relationship. To this day, my wife has a certain smile, if you just say the word TJ Max around here, I swear to God, and I'm very conservative, I could wear the same clothes for 50 years and if they didn't fall off my back, I would still be doing it. That's just what she just... She loves fashion, she is a spiritual woman, but she just loves fashion. So even though I wish that she didn't, it tickles me when I see her smile. I know before she's even going out where she's going 'cause there's a gleam in her eye.

Guy Finley: So I would never know were it not for that quirky part of my wife that little quirky feeling. But now we have to turn it around, because to the same extent that I am introduced and fulfilled made a hole in a way, because what is she showing me in those moments other than something I don't know about myself and can't feel without her? The converse holds true, Neil. I can't know there are parts of me that are selfish, that can't listen, that are impatient, that want to be left alone. I can't know those parts of me without her, without relationship with something. And where my work is, I think, quite different from most others is that I say that we must learn to first understand the significance of those revelations that are so unwanted and, rather than continue to blame the relationship, the person or the predicament for the pain inherent in realizing these are parts of my consciousness that I am asleep to, to be thankful for being awakened.

Guy Finley: Because the same integration that takes place when she awakens in me a wish to sacrifice, a willingness to go past myself and put her first, that same gratitude must appear when I am integrated, awakened to those parts of myself that I would avoid at all costs if I could were it not for love that uses my wife to awaken me to these limitations, and that uses me for my wife to awaken her to her limitations to serve a greater love than either of us can know without each other, whether high or low, light or dark, all serving a greater relationship, that love puts human beings together for. So that through those revelations, wanted and not, the man or woman can begin to become an integrated being, no longer living in unseen conflict with parts of him or herself, because the image that he has of himself or herself won't allow the fact of these aspects of limitation in our consciousness, so that that level of consciousness buries these things, but a stone under the ground weighs as much as one above, so that those moments are invitations, Neil, as painful as they are, to realize that there's no way any relationship can go forward as long as there is attachment and dependency that forms the seed of limitation, so that without these limitations revealed by my partner or by my partner leaving me or my partner hurting me, whatever my partner may have done, that moment is the revelation of a limitation in me.

Guy Finley: It's not their limitation and even if it is, I must still thank them. I don't mean to jump way off-board here, but this is the interior meaning of what Christ meant by love thine enemies. Because in those moments, without my wife, my husband, the guy on the street, the person tailgating me, the financial thieves that are breaking the country, without all of that taking place, I would never know the enmity, the violence, the anger, all of the things that so conveniently blame people and places and situations outside of me, so that those characteristics can continue living in the dark of our consciousness, not my consciousness, not Neil's consciousness, not my wife's consciousness, in consciousness that we are the instruments of and that are intended to be developed by the action of love revealing to us what only love can, high and low, light and dark.

Neil Sattin: Can I make this a little more personal?

Guy Finley: Anything, Neil, you know that, man.

Neil Sattin: Okay, let's just start with something that doesn't have say a lot of charge to it. So often I use the dishes, but let's forgo the dishes. Let's talk about the laundry. And I'm wondering like what if, hypothetically speaking, Guy, let's say you are someone who habitually takes off your clothes and you just kinda drop them wherever. It could be the bedroom floor, it could be the bathroom, could be the living room. It's wherever they... And they end up kind of all about. And your wife, with whom you've been for 40 years, comes in and says to you, you're blissfully working on your next book, and she says, "Guy, I can't handle this anymore. Your clothes are everywhere, you're so lazy. We've talked about this at least once a month for the past 40 years. Is it going to be another 40 years of us having this same conversation about your goddamn clothes being all over the place? I can't even think straight."

Guy Finley: Oh, and we know that happens, don't we?

Neil Sattin: Of course.

Guy Finley: Maybe it's not the laundry, maybe it's not the dishes that you think someone else will clean up for you. It could be anything, the way you park the car in the garage.

Neil Sattin: Right. Or it could be something more serious, like I can't believe you slept with that person three years ago, right? I'm still feeling about that. How could you go? How will I ever trust you again?

Guy Finley: Of course. Of course. And so the question is, what does one do in those moments as the one offended or the one being offended, as the offender or the one being offended?

Neil Sattin: Well, it's debatable which is which in that circumstance, it's debatable, but...

Guy Finley: Because we have to ask a pretty big question here, what's the difference between the two? In this instance, let's just say that, let's say, I do throw my clothes around...

Neil Sattin: Right, and just so you know, listening, I can see Guy's living room and there are no clothes anywhere. So this was strictly hypothetical.

Guy Finley: Of course, but even if they were and my wife had asked me innumerable times to clean them up, then I cannot blame her, she wants order, not chaos. And if I don't honor my wife's wish, then I have to understand that she and I have a major difference. She's asked me first nicely, she's become upset over it, and yet there's something in me that just will not do what it is she needs done. You're not asking me to lose 50 pounds, she's saying, "Take your laundry and put it away." So there's an irreconcilable difference, Neil, her character and my character have something that is in conflict with each other. If I don't change she will, because she can't help herself, I might add. See, this goes to something so much deeper. I know everybody wants it simple. Can I get upset? I'll turn it around. Can my wife get upset with me in a manner that... Would you agree that if someone loses their temper with you because you have a sock on the floor that that would be called a tempest in a teapot?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, maybe there's some context that makes it less of a teapot. Like, for instance, 40 years of having had the same conversation over and over again but...

Guy Finley: I understand, but that's the definition of insanity, isn't it?

Neil Sattin: Perhaps. I mean, I think...

Guy Finley: No, it is. I insist, I insist, I insist. So here's a force in one direction meeting a force in another direction, and it's not moving. So that is the insanity. See, here's what we don't want to get into, Neil. If I've asked my wife 50 times over 30 years not to do something and she keeps doing it, then at some point I have to recognize that the pain that appears in those moments is not going to go away by making her into what I need her to be, so at that point I either understand that's how she is and it's a small battle, it's very small in the scheme of things. But now to my point, something in me wants to make it moment, huge and there's what I'm getting at it. It never dawns on any of us, for the most part, that no one picks a fight with anyone else unless prior to the fight they pick they are in pain. It's a section in my book, pain picks the fight, not the person, so that here's something in my wife rubbed raw over 40 years that she is unable to reconcile and let go of the fact that this is just part of a character, I love him more than I care about his socks.

Guy Finley: But pain, my attention goes to the context of the condition, which is I've asked him for 100 years, he won't change. Instead of realizing that what's not changing in that moment is me, I'm the one who won't let go of the insistence that he be jumping through the hoop I want him to jump through about socks. What's more important, his socks and underwear, or that I have something in me that gets set on fire when I see it, because if we can learn to ask the important questions, "What in God's name is this pain I'm in over some peculiar aspect of my partner, that I've asked kindly, I've lost my temper, I've threatened to leave, but it doesn't change." So either get up and walk out or walk away from those parts of yourself that are captured by that conflict every time the context reappears in your mind.

Guy Finley: So that's the first thing, Neil, when my wife, God bless her, and I don't know if I've ever told you this, we've never raised our voices at each other in 40 years. But it doesn't mean that over 40 years, she hasn't said unkind things, but for whatever reason, by the grace of the work that I've done, I never react to unkindness with unkindness, I use her unkindness to allow whatever is kicked up inside of me to show me whether or not there's something factual in her unkind statement, because we can't tell the difference.

Guy Finley: Because when somebody attacks us, all we see and feel is the attack, instead of realizing there may be something in us producing the pain they're experiencing and that we need to deal with in ourselves. But if my first reaction is rejection, I'm not just rejecting my wife, I'm rejecting the revelation that's necessary and that if I could see it she might change herself as well. So what I do is, when she has said something unkind, is I never bring it up. I wait, sometimes two days, I wait until she's no longer in that consciousness, and then I will simply say to her, "Sweetie, do you remember we were walking down the driveway and you brought up that thing? I just want you to know that there's no value in bringing that up. It hurt. I'll deal with what I can, but to bring it up, it's just useless."

Guy Finley: And then because she is the kind of woman she is, she will not react to that or on the spot she'll say, "You know what, I knew it when I said it, and I'm sorry." And then it's not I'm sorry because you got mad at me; I'm sorry, because you allow me to see something in myself that I could have never seen if you just rejected and resisted the comment. And then love is doing what love is meant to do, which is develop the two people that love has brought together into a better representation of what love is. So I hope that clarifies some of what you asked, but I'm going to deal with something you didn't ask, if you'd like.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, go for it.

Guy Finley: What in God's name do I do with this pain? How do I go forward from here, what's going to happen? I feel like my heart was stolen out of my chest and the only one that I can look at and, in essence, blame and feel betrayed by is the person, my husband, my wife, my business partner who stole from our business that we started, as best friends. I mean, God, Neil, life is nothing but an endless series, a success of conditions where we find ourselves with our mouth open wide going, "What?" You know what I mean, "What?"

Neil Sattin: Totally. How did I get here?

Guy Finley: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Guy Finley: And the answer is the last answer we want, but the only answer that brings an end to the unconscious continuation of the pain. Someone says something, it hurts. Someone steals from me, someone betrays me, it's heartbreaking. I gave this person 30 years of my life, I did everything I knew how to do to be the best, most complying person I could so that this person could grow, and then they turn around and there's the... They're bad talking me or worse, they steal. The pain is undeniable. I feel like I'm dying. No human being doesn't go through that. And this will really throw you, and the luckiest of us go through that death more times than we want. And the reason I say the lucky of us go through that, though I would that the cup would pass from my lips, I don't want to drink from that cup. It's bitter, has no future. Everything that seems to have been built has been destroyed. But the moment where it feels like I'm dying is in fact a moment where something in me is intended to die, not go on as the one who is betrayed, full of bitterness, ever wondering why, thinking someday I'll get even or he or she will come back and then they'll see how wrong they were.

Guy Finley: Oh, my God, the story is endless 'cause all of us are an expression of a consciousness living it, but to understand and then to quietly sit back within oneself and let what the moment has come to do be done, because then the man or woman who exits that moment, where some idea they had about themselves, some image, an attachment, a plan, a dream, when the whole thing just goes belly up, we look at the condition, and we say, "That's what went belly up. No, that's not what went belly up. What died was a part of myself that I was so identified with that when the conditions no longer are in place to perpetuate the dream I feel like it's me that has died and it's not I who have died, but a dream a the dream and the dreamer."

Guy Finley: And there, I sit stark naked, quite literally, in the present moment, with what seems like nothing, because my attention only knows how to be given unconsciously to something that if I had my choice, I wouldn't give my attention to it, but I am drawn like a moth to the flame to feel these unwanted feelings instead of recognizing, sweet God, what is it in me that keeps going and revisiting a feeling that I don't want? And then out of the unwanted feeling building a dream or a plan or some future where momentarily I'm consoled, when I'm not meant to be consoled by that moment, I'm meant to be changed through it.

Guy Finley: That's called conscious suffering, not unconscious useless suffering. And if I can understand the difference in it, it's impossible that when I am called to return to that pain, revisit, think about, re-live, I don't re anything, I allow the moment to show me, I don't know who I am without somebody else, I don't know who I am without that plan that was so intimately connected to your presence and your participation and now you're gone. God, the whole thing's come undone, I'm probably going to lose everything now, because that's how deeply involved that dream is. It goes on without a person knowing it, and then instead of being thankful, which I know is hard to do, Neil, please don't misunderstand me. Nobody says, oh, at least not for the longest time, but I promise you, one day, it's true, even in the midst of the pain. Thank you, Father, thank you, God, thank you, the divine, for delivering me into a moment that I could have never even known I needed to be delivered into, let alone what I will be delivered from that I didn't know I needed to be delivered from, attachment, dependency, enabling, trying to keep everything in place, not so that the relationship stayed in place, but so that my person who I'm familiar with, isn't suddenly thrown out into a prison some place.

Guy Finley: This is a completely different context for our consciousness, Neil. I know you can hear and feel what I'm saying, but this is what we have to get to if we want to use these moments that come where we reject them instantaneously, and instead of rejecting them, understanding in that moment, the suffering isn't in the condition, it's in my attachment to a part of myself I didn't know was there and that I'm going to be much better off without once it's allowed to pass, to die.

Neil Sattin: And do you have some helpful hints about how to engage in that process? The concept makes sense to me. In what you were saying I was hearing the literal question of, "What is this pain pointing to in me that needs to die, that I need to let go of." And I'm just wondering, yeah, if there's a process there that you find helpful to help people engage in that, 'cause it can be so easy to get kind of a quick answer to that question. And then...

Guy Finley: Yeah, yeah, and then the moment comes... Yeah, I understand and that's wonderful, Neil, that's quite insightful, because the last thing that I want to do is paint this as a rosy picture when we're in some kind of pain, because our partner has gone left instead of right or maybe just disappeared. So I do not want to make light at all of what is essentially a kind of a mini dark night of the soul.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Guy Finley: But the question, what do I do with this pain, how do I process it, begs without the person asking the question, begs the question, well, I, therefore, must be different than this process. I must be something other than the pain in this moment. And that which is other than the pain in this moment wants to know what to do with the pain, so it can get past the pain in the moment, and no such thing exists. A person who has cancer, a person who's an addict, at some point comes to grips with the fact, this is what is. I am not empowered to change the pain of the revelation, the revelation has in it its own clarity about a set of conditions that one way or another have come to teach me something about myself. I haven't been thrown into this moment, I've been sown into it, and until I can find a greater purpose, which is what we're talking about, the whole of my work, then everything that I do to escape the pain, process it so seemingly I'm outside of it and better than that, is the waste of the appearance of that pain.

Guy Finley: You don't deny a toothache. Well, we do, don't we? I mean, that's there, right? I had a terrible toothache myself two weeks ago, it was unbelievable, out of the clear blue sky. And nothing in me wants to admit that this is the pain that usually leads up to a root canal. So what do we do when we have that kind of pain? We pretty much hope it goes away.

Neil Sattin: Exactly.

Guy Finley: And if you've ever had an impacted tooth and hoped the pain would go away, the truth is that sometimes it will go away, but the problem behind the impaction doesn't, so it becomes infected. And the next thing you know you've got something three times worse than what you had had you dealt with it on the spot, you understand the metaphor.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Guy Finley: The analogy. Same thing with this pain, Neil.

Neil Sattin: So yeah, a couple of different things coming up for me. One is, I'm sitting with what you said about being sown into it not being thrown into it, that idea that this actually is me right now, in this moment.

Guy Finley: Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. And listen to me, please, everybody, because in those moments when my heart has been plucked out of my chest or what I was depending on for the success of my business or whatever the venter was that it looked like everything was roses and suddenly I'm pierced by thorns, I have no future, it's been robbed. And the task here is to understand that who and what you actually are doesn't depend upon something you've imagined in the future that you don't even know you're dependent on. We have no idea the extent of the dependency, unconscious dependency, that grows over time through familiar relationships, where we begin gradually to depend upon the person to act out and to be what we are dependent on them acting and being. Because if they don't do it, they break the pattern.

Guy Finley: And if they break the pattern then is the pain that I feel in the break of the pattern, or is the pain in my dependency on the pattern? And if my pain is on the dependency of the pattern, why in the name of God do I want to create another one? I should be grateful because love has no pattern. That's called familiarity that breeds contempt, although we don't know it breeds contempt until someone breaks the pattern and then the resentment and the contempt sitting underneath it born of dependency rears its ugly head. And instead of seeing our complicity with that enabling dependency, we blame our partner. Instead of saying thank you, I don't know how, what I'm going to do, but I sure understand that there is something for me to learn in this moment instead of burn over, and by God, I'll do what I have to do to get the lesson in the moment instead of reject it in the hope of a moment that comes along where the pain isn't there with me.

Neil Sattin: So I have a bit of a curve ball question for you in this moment.

Guy Finley: No such thing, Neil.

Neil Sattin: Right, it's all part of the same fabric. And I'm wondering, Guy, for you, how would you decide if you were in too much pain in a particular, like if a relationship that you were experiencing, whether it was a relationship to the weather, the conditions, the person in your life, how would you decide if the pain of relationship with that person was too much for you? In other words, where, because no matter what, when you leave a relationship, that creates pain, so you get to decide if you want the grief associated with staying or the grief associated with going. And I'm just curious for you, I think there's potentially a danger, particularly for people who are in really problematic situations, of feeling like, "Wait, is Guy Finley saying I should just be thankful for this pain and stay where I am and that I shouldn't... "

Guy Finley: Okay, yeah, I got it. I'm glad you asked. I go to great pains in my book to absolutely make the point if you're in an abusive relationship, and let me be clear, your husband leaving his socks on the floor is not abuse, but your husband raising his fist at you because you tell him again please pick up your socks and you're in fear of your husband, get out of that relationship, you're not here to be abused by anybody. The strange thing is that we abuse ourselves. If my wife loses her temper every other week because X, Y, Z and blames me for losing her temper and I've done nothing other than just whatever it is that I am. Who's abusing who? We never want to see how abusive we are to ourselves, by trying to make someone into something they will never be. That is self-abuse, insisting that any other human being be what you need or want them to be is self-abuse. On the other hand, if they're trying to do that to you and are aggressive, consistently cruel verbally, involved in some pattern of a behavior, drugs, alcohol, anything excessive that way, and you stay in the relationship, you are self-abusive, and you have two people abusing each other, enabling each other and blaming the other for their pain. Does that answer your question?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I think what I'm hearing is there are flavors of abuse that are maybe more obvious physical violence, and then there's maybe a gray zone where it's 'cause... And I'm just calling it a gray zone because I think people are often a little unclear on emotional violence, emotional abuse, but everyone who's listening to us...

Guy Finley: You and I both know there are people who are in emotionally abusive relationships.

Neil Sattin: Yes.

Guy Finley: Why does anyone stay in an emotionally abusive relationship, especially if they have said, "You know what, every time you raise your voice like that, I don't know what to do with myself, it hurts. Please, please don't do that." And then the partner does not acknowledge, let alone attempt to act on the wish. Here is the root of it. We stay in emotionally abusive relationships because it's better to have someone to blame than to be without somebody to blame. I don't know who I am without resenting you. I don't know who I am without hoping, knowing it's futile, that you're going to change. I don't know who I am without coming home and hoping to God that you're not in that particular state of mind when I know that 9 out of 10 times you will be, and that there'll be that tension and that it doesn't get resolved. I don't know who to be because rather than go through what life is asking me to do, which is to rediscover, reclaim my own integrity, see through the co-enabling parts of myself, that I might enter into a relationship that starts healthy instead of keep an unhealthy one alive 'cause I don't want to be without it, I'd rather stay with what I have.

Guy Finley: And I'm going to make a giant leap here, Neil, that same mind is the same mind that revisits the loss. Rather than be alone, be by myself with this emptiness, I would rather revisit feeling victimized, revisit what will no longer be. This is where grief, natural grief turns into self-love. My wife dies, my child passes, a beloved friend dies. If I don't grieve I'm not a human being, but grief is the revelation of a certain limited kind of love that invites me to see that because the person's gone doesn't mean love is. Love can't die. So, when I revisit the grief and revisit the grief, it's not 'cause I'm revisiting a love lost, I'm revisiting a part of myself that loves to feel what it does, and would rather feel that pain than be a person who moves on and discovers there's another order of love possible in that very moment. So it's in scale.

Guy Finley: And I hope I didn't lose anybody, but that's why we stay in relationships not just with people but with our own problems, our own pains, because we don't know who to be without that dependency on something through which we derive an identity, as painful as it may be.

Neil Sattin: So maybe... This might be our last question for today. Not because we couldn't keep going, 'cause...

Guy Finley: I understand, Neil.

Neil Sattin: We could keep going for sure. And Guy, I'm so appreciative of just who you are and the openheartedness that you bring to these questions. What's illuminated for me in this moment is wondering about the fear that keeps people in place.

Guy Finley: Yes. So let's write this... Go ahead, please, I'm sorry.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so it feels like that's the last piece of this puzzle where we've landed today has been around this question of what do you do with the pain, what do you do with an aching heart? What do you do when there's when there's... And how do you know if there's too much pain? And what do you do when you're weighing the choice to stay or go? Which is this what I'm hearing you say is it's often centered around, do I choose what I know myself to be, which is who I am in relation to this situation, or do I choose the unknown along with the way that a choice to leave often impacts our family, our children, our friends, there are ripples to that kind of decision.

Guy Finley: Of course.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so when faced with that, what do you do?

Guy Finley: It's probably uncountable how many relationships there are on this planet that have become stale, stagnant and that basically trundle on from day to day because one or the other, and it's usually both, has just stopped growing. And we're all masters at blaming our partner for being the one who doesn't grow, because we can so easily identify in them the limitations that we're aware of in them, never dawning on us that judging a limitation in our partner and holding their feet to the fire for it is our limitation.

Guy Finley: So that the question is really underneath all of this, do I want to grow as a human being? Because honestly, Neil, we either grow or we die. We begin dying as human beings most of us in our 20s because we're so habituated to some status quo, where out of the fear of loss, of negativity, of meeting parts of ourselves, we compromise with everyone and everything, just so that the boat doesn't rock, and we wind up in a reality that's a dream and that anything that shakes the dream is seen as a nightmare, when the real nightmare is the dream we're in because it's keeping us from growing. So we reach a point where we need to understand that the real dissatisfaction in this instance, say, with our partner, whether they've stayed with us or left us, is because there's something in me that is offered in that relationship, a chance to grow beyond who and what I've been.

Guy Finley: Now in relationships that are intact, those moments come when I'm willing to understand that my partner may be in pain and that's why they made that punitive remark, and rather than responding in unkindness, fighting as we do tit for tat, I use that moment to discover in myself something that believes it's beyond question. You can't ask me something like that. Your opinion doesn't count, only mine. And then when we see that in ourselves, the very revelation is the beginning of its transformation, 'cause now I know something about my own consciousness I didn't before. I am growing. And whether my partner wants to grow or not, that's not the issue, because if I continue to grow, I will reach a point where I have outgrown my partner and there will be no question about it.

Guy Finley: Not that it won't be painful. So let's say I've reached the point where I've outgrown my partner or my partner's left me for whatever reason, and then I'm sitting there and I'm going, "Well, now what's going to happen?" I'm afraid, and I'm afraid because I don't know what's coming literally in the next moment, other than some terrible thought I wish I didn't have, so when it comes to the fear of the future, let's be clear about that, everybody. Again, the context, do I want to grow or not? There is no fear of the future, Neil, without negative imagination, period. There is no fear of the future without negative imagination.

Guy Finley: So now where's the responsibility for the fear? In the person that left me, in the great unknown that sits before me, or is the unknown that just before me, my demand that I know what's coming so that I know who I am and how to handle it. And when we start having this kind of understanding, she betrayed me. He stole from me. What's going to happen, what am I to do? And then you realize that to take thought in that moment about what's going to happen to you downstream is the same as going into another dream that is just a continuation of that consciousness, instead of the end of a relationship with that consciousness, because now it's very clear to you, the task here isn't to go into thought, the task is to remain as present as I can to everything that I see and feel in myself.

Guy Finley: And then don't ask, well, where is the limit? How much pain can I take? You'll know. The body shuts itself down. Literally, a person who will really attend to themselves in these heightened moments will likely fall asleep, because the resistance is so great, but you will have gained that much strength in understanding by going through that exercise. So if we will be true to ourselves as best we know how to be true to ourselves, given a new understanding of what it means to be true to ourselves, then we cannot fail. Every effort that we make along the lines of understanding that we mustn't take thought to end torment, because thought itself is the source of the torment, but rather we must become aware of thought, of the thinker, of the planner, of the one imagining, of the one afraid, and every bit of light we bring into that darkness, that darkness is changed in some commensurate level. That's a law. And as the darkness is brought into that light, that's the same as integrating ourselves and that's the purpose of love.

Guy Finley: And we know what to do with our relationships, even when we don't really know what to do when they throw us the curve, 'cause we don't go running out trying to find another ball game, another place to play. We use what's given to us as it's given to us, and then discover for ourselves the purpose of what was given to us, and then everything's quite perfect for us in that moment, even though there's pain.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I think the phrase that comes up for me that I'm extracting from what you said was, well, a couple of things. One is a commitment to growth and faith even in a... Yeah, okay, I'm in pain, and I believe in my capacity to grow, to change, to shift, and even if I'm not growing the way that my partner wanted me to grow, I still am having faith in my ability to grow in this moment.

Guy Finley: Neil, your partner didn't put you on this planet. God did. I'd rather have the divine plan then be delivered into the hands of my partner and his or her plan, believe me, or for that matter, my own plan 'cause that's where most of the fear is.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, do you have a moment for one more question, Guy, before we go?

Guy Finley: Sure, go ahead, Neil.

Neil Sattin: What do you think has kept you in your relationship for 40 years instead of at some point deciding that it was time to go for a new adventure?

Guy Finley: Honestly, I don't think I can answer it. It could be argued, I think, Neil, that every relationship that we enter into is for the length of that relationship manifested for the purpose of the development of our soul, and that at some point when we are sufficiently developed, which we are not the ones who decide that, please, we will enter into more abiding relationships, because the capacity to act as a conscious mirror of our partner and vice versa, has reached a point where we understand that this is perfect for us, I couldn't imagine another partner, and I know she couldn't either, but I didn't create that, she didn't create that, but we both agreed to go through those consciousness-shaking conditions, both individually and collectively, that bring about what you intimated a moment ago, which is not just the all-abiding wish and intention to grow as a human being, but a faith that life creates the conditions for that growth through our relationships, so that the faith in the goodness of life, the understanding that love is in fact the basis of relationship allows us to work and remain as present as we can to the conditions where we discover that love in fact was behind that moment, wanted or not.

Guy Finley: Then you enter into a completely different relationship with life and your partner is obviously a big part of it. But now, everything serves that purpose, Neil, everything, literally everything. In the East, they call it polishing the mirror, and the more the mirror is polished, the more perfectly it reflects the world, until one day, and heck of a place to end this interview, but then, one day you realize the world that you're looking at is not out there, the universe is in you, literally, your partner is in you, everything is in you. I don't know how it happens, but that's the case, that's the only way we know what we know and feel and experience about what we see because, really, we're just seeing aspects of our own consciousness, and that's when a person begins to be grateful for everything they see, because everything is revelation, everything, every revelation is a form of integration, and it's endless. That's the majesty of God, that's the majesty of the divine.

Neil Sattin: Well, that is quite a place to end our conversation.

Guy Finley: I told you. Maybe we'll have another conversation in six months and we can pick up there, huh?

Guy Finley: I think so, because just like the last one, I think there's so much meat here for us to work with. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to digesting this conversation. And for the vegetarians there's a lot of tofu here to toss around and... Yeah, and I think I'm going to be so curious to hear how this impacts you as a listener, because we dove deep into this topic that I think is what brings so many of us here to this podcast. I hope that at least to some level, people are here because they're in a good situation and they want to make it better, and being honest, I think a lot of people come here because things could, they want things to be better in some way. So...

Guy Finley: I have one closing comment.

Neil Sattin: Go for it.

Guy Finley: It isn't... We cannot explore our strength without exploring our weakness and when we understand that they are not separate issues, then we're very close to not being afraid of ourselves anymore. That's it.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. So as you're polishing the mirror, be looking in the mirror, 'cause there's lots to be revealed.

Guy Finley: Absolutely, and if I may, can I tell people where they might, if they're interested, get the Relationship book?

Neil Sattin: Of course, yes.

Guy Finley: If you want to look at these ideas, please visit relationshipmagicbook.com, one word, relationshipmagicbook.com, and my foundation has put up a very special offer on a page there where you can get the free audible version of the book that I've read as well for the same inexpensive price. So relationshipmagicbook.com, and if you want to visit my website, it's guyfinley.org, GUYFINLEY.org, you can visit that site and literally stay there for years, free. There's a wisdom school there, where men and women from all over the world gather every week online. You can learn about that. It's incredibly inexpensive, less than the cost of a Starbuck. And lastly, if you want... I've just begun, God help me, I'm on Twitter, I post daily Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. So if you want to find out anything more about it, Google. Google Guy Finley. But I've given you some good places to start.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. And we will have links to all of that in the show notes and transcript, which as a reminder, if you want to grab, you can visit neilsattin.com/magic2, that's the word magic and the number 2, or you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. Guy, I'm so appreciative of your time, your wisdom, your heart and your friendship, and thank you so much for being here with us today. I'm looking forward to a future conversation and I'm also just so appreciative of your contribution to the world, so powerful.

Guy Finley: Thank you, Neil, thank you so much. 

Dec 7, 2019

For quite awhile now I've been mentioning that there have been some challenges and changes going on in my life. This week, I'm going to share some of that with you. I've waited awhile for the timing to be right, so please take a moment and join me for a glimpse into my world and all that's been happening.

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

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FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Special intro and outro music provided courtesy of Kyle Morgan and Starcrossed Losers

Nov 23, 2019

With all the focus on ways to improve your relationship, growth and change can become something of an obsession. Especially if things are painful! However, sometimes all the efforts to change can create even more problems. So...it's helpful to know when it's time to just...stop. There are particular ways of "stopping" that can actually be beneficial - to your health and the health of your relationship. In this episode, I give you three specific ways to "stop" that can potentially jumpstart the "flow" in your relationship - especially if things have gotten stuck. It's a little edgy (particularly my third suggestion) - but can sometimes be exactly what you need.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

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Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Songfinch.com helps you create an original song as a unique gift for any special occasion. You tell them what the occasion is, what emotions you want your song to evoke, what type of song you want, and give them a little bit of your story - and they bring your story to life with a radio-quality song that captures it all. Songfinch is offering you $25 off a personalized “Song from Scratch” if you use the coupon code ALIVE25 at checkout.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Nov 15, 2019

Ever feel like there’s a little too much drama in your life? Well, if that’s the case, then you probably have been caught in the Drama Triangle. If you’ve never heard of the Drama Triangle then be prepared - you’re going to start seeing it EVERYWHERE. Today you’ll learn how to spot it - and even better, how to escape it. Our guest is Dr. Stephen Karpman, the creator of the Drama Triangle, and author of the recent book “A Game-Free Life: The Definitive Book on the Drama Triangle and the Compassion Triangle” - which explains how to spot the sources of drama and dysfunction - and what to do to break the cycle. Along the way, you’ll also get clear tips on improved communication, how to deepen intimacy, and what agreements are essential to maintain in any relationship.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Songfinch.com helps you create an original song as a unique gift for any special occasion. You tell them what the occasion is, what emotions you want your song to evoke, what type of song you want, and give them a little bit of your story - and they bring your story to life with a radio-quality song that captures it all. Songfinch is offering you $25 off a personalized “Song from Scratch” if you use the coupon code ALIVE25 at checkout.

Our second sponsor today is Audible. Audible has the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet and now, with Audible Originals, the selection has gotten even better with custom content made for members. As a special offer, Audible wants to give you a free 30-day trial - which includes 1 free audiobook and 2 free Audible originals. Go to Audible.com/relationship or text RELATIONSHIP to 500500 to get started.

Resources:

Visit Dr. Stephen Karpman’s website for resources to help you conquer the Drama Triangle and live a game-free life.

Read Stephen Karpman’s book, “A Game-Free Life” for details on the Drama Triangle, the Compassion Triangle, and more!

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Your Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Visit www.neilsattin.com/triangle2 to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Stephen Karpman.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Sometimes life can be really dramatic. There can be highs and lows, you can feel like you're the victim with people just out to get you. You can feel like you're doing your best to show up for the people in your life, and they don't appreciate you. In fact, they see you as some kind of enemy and in the end, all of this drama plays out in ways that keep us from being truly connected with the people around us, and these could just be our acquaintances or our colleagues and co-workers, or it could be the people in our lives with whom we're most deeply connected: Our children, our partners, ourselves.

Neil Sattin: So I was actually going through a situation about a year and a half ago, and really struggling. And in reaching out to one of my friends about it. She said, "You know, this sounds like a classic Drama Triangle," and I had never heard of a Drama Triangle before, so I was like, "I'm going to have to check that out." I looked it up and there were lots and lots of references online describing what the drama triangle was, and sure enough it felt like that was what was going on in my life, but it didn't necessarily help me figure out how to solve the drama triangle.

Neil Sattin: And that's where today's conversation comes in. We have with us an esteemed guest, Dr. Stephen Karpman, who is the person who created the drama triangle, and whose work has evolved past the drama triangle in ways that help us see how to escape from these games that we play with each other, in ways that actually build intimacy and closeness with the people in our lives, or if we're not looking for intimacy, at least they keep us from being caught in a repetitive loop. So Dr. Karpman is the author of the recent book, "A Game Free Life," the definitive book on the drama triangle and compassion triangle and along with many, many other books and papers, and we will talk about that more over the course of today's conversation. If you are looking to download a transcript of today's show, you can visit neilsattin.com/triangle, as in the drama triangle, or as always you can text the word Passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. So let's dive in today, Dr. Stephen Karpman, thank you so much for joining us here today on Relationship Alive.

Stephen Karpman: Thank you, Neil, for asking me, and I'll do what I can to help people with their lives.

Neil Sattin: Great. That's the best we can hope for today. And I just want to note that I'm really excited to be talking to you. What people listening don't necessarily know is that you and I have actually been in dialogue for almost this whole past year and a half, maybe even more. So, it's exciting that we finally made it all work. You're very busy in presenting and getting your books together and I'm glad that we're finally here today to talk.

Stephen Karpman: Okay.

Neil Sattin: So Steve, Stephen, let's just start... It's probable that a lot of people listening do know what the drama triangle is, at least on some level, but for those who don't, or for those who haven't really thought about it for a while, let's talk about it and enumerate each of the roles in the drama triangle, and then talk about what actually creates the drama. So, can we start there?

Stephen Karpman: Sure. The drama triangle is something I created many years ago. Primarily, originally, I was working on a strategy in football and basketball, and I'd do this three-corner triangle of different roles, and then it turned out to be applicable to theater, like there would be a villain, and a hero, and a victim. But eventually, the way I originally drew it is the way that took off, which is a triangle with the point down, which is the victim in a one down position. And the two people in the power position, in the upper left corner had the persecutor role, which is a person who's always blaming, always putting the victim down. And then the other corner on the upper-right is the rescuer position. That person is always helping, and always trying to save and trying to fix the victim who somehow never seems to get fixed and it's a very frustrating for the rescuer.

Neil Sattin: So when you're in a challenging situation, at a minimum it can help to step back and say, "Okay, which of these roles am I playing? And which role is the other person or persons playing in this situation?"

Stephen Karpman: Sure. Now, there's the difference between a game playing role and in real life. For instance, the persecutor might be an aggressor in real life, and just being an aggressive person who might be critical at times, but it goes into the triangle when they have... They're linked in with someone in a non-ending game. So the persecutor is always blaming, always criticizing the victim. The victim can never do anything right, but the persecutor always has to be right because they don't want themselves to feel like a victim inside, so they always have to win.

Stephen Karpman: Now the rescuer had to come in and save the victim from the persecutor, then more than likely the rescuer is a good-hearted person initially, and it's okay to be a rescuer in life, very good actually. But it becomes a drama triangle, when they're involved in an unending game with the victim who's always helpless, always wrong, never can do anything right, and they deplete themselves in their own... Drain themselves in their own light, devoting their lives to saving the victim and meanwhile neglecting their own life.

Stephen Karpman: And then the victim is a person who may be from their past, they see themselves as inadequate or insufficient and somehow get into the role of asking for help from people. But eventually, which is okay, but eventually, if they get into a game, then they play the role of a victim. They're not actually the victim, they're playing the role of a victim, which is very manipulative and playing all sorts of games to keep the rescuer helping them and to keep the persecutor criticizing them. So then, you have the drama triangle, that's the drama. When people get into dysfunctional roles and dysfunctional relationships, they get into the triangle. Sometimes they switch around different roles, like the rescuer might suddenly become the persecutor, or the victim might get even with the rescuer by becoming a persecutor, so then it gets complicated, and you get into a game that's... People... That can go on for years, and people can't solve it or get out of it.

Neil Sattin: So how do I know if I'm in a game or not?

Stephen Karpman: Well, it depends on the role, but primarily it's very frustrating. You're involved with someone else, that's when you're in the triangle, and it's very frustrating because you feel drawn in, particularly the victim will draw a person in. It's like quicksand, you get drawn deeper and deeper, and try harder and harder to fix the person to get them to think, to get them to realize things. The rescuer might say, "I've gotta get you to realize things." And the persecutor might say, "You're dumb because you don't understand anything," so it's one of... The relationship gets stressful, it gets exasperating or gets depleting of energy and primarily nothing ever gets fixed, nothing gets clear, nothing is understood and it just seems to stay that way, on and on.

Neil Sattin: So if a situation isn't evolving and it feels dysfunctional, then the odds are you're trapped in some sort of game?

Stephen Karpman: And you may not know that you're trapped, you just... You keep wanting to try hard, it's one of the drivers. You try hard to fix things or to be perfect in your answers or be perfect in your feelings so maybe the victim will change, and the person could make the criticism even stronger and stronger, thinking that will teach the victim a lesson, and by... With their strength, they will protect themselves from ever being criticized. So it's primarily... It's a relationship and other people may notice at first and you may not notice it yourself for months and years, and you don't want to leave the other person but you don't know how to make the situation better or to get it livable.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and why do you think that it's not enough? 'Cause this was my experience when this particular situation, and I can't get into the details just out of respect of other people's privacy, but I saw it happening and I was like, "Oh this is very clearly what is going on." And yet, just recognizing that, that I was playing a rescuer role, this other person was playing the persecutor role, and then someone else is playing the victim role, just recognizing that wasn't enough to actually change the dynamic. And I'm wondering if you can give us a sense of why that might be so, that it's not enough to just recognize that this is what's happening.

Stephen Karpman: Well, primarily, most of the people that write about the triangle talk about empowering. One needs to feel empowered, that they are successful and if they don't feel that they're successful, that nothing they're doing is working, at that point, they may step back and say, "Well, perhaps I need to change something and it starts by knowing what the roles are in the drama triangle, that there's a persecutor, rescuer, and victim role, and people do get trapped in it and get frustrated. And once they know the roles, then they need to get in touch with their feelings and why they're in that role and what's their pay-off.

Stephen Karpman: They're involved with people that they can't control. You can't control the persecutor or the rescuer, or the victim. You can't control yourself. So, at that point, you decide that you will control yourself and decide what to do about the game. Of course, you'll try to discuss it first or you may get into counseling about it, but at some point, you need to decide that the triangle isn't working for you and you move on if you can't make it work better for you or if you can't tolerate it.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and I think one thing that might be challenging is probably most people arrive at thinking about the drama triangle by feeling like they're a victim to someone who's persecuting them and... That would be my guess. 'Cause that's the place where you feel like you're being stuck in a situation of powerlessness, and so it seems like it might be challenging to go to someone that you're perceiving as your persecutor, and say, "Hey, I think... I was doing some reading online and I think that we're stuck in this drama triangle thing, and I'm pretty sure you're stuck in the role of the persecutor and I'm the victim," I don't see that going very well.

Stephen Karpman: Yeah, the persecutor would then tell you that you're wrong, and that you're reading all the wrong information and your friends are telling you the wrong things and you got to shape up. The persecutor often is a narcissist or a bully, and they just like bullying people, they just like telling people what to do. And they can get along in life that way, but in the drama triangle, there's actually a link between all the roles and they're actually trapped in that role and they may persecute the rescuer, telling the rescuer that they don't know what in the world they're doing, and they're not going to stop because this is their power position. So how to get the persecutor to back off would be challenging and maybe some insight might get through or it won't get through and then you would face other decisions, whether you need to move on.

Neil Sattin: Right, so there is that element, as always, of someone being discerning and trying to figure out like, "Is this person that I'm perceiving to be a persecutor, are they adaptable, are they flexible, are they willing to work with me to show up or not?"

Stephen Karpman: Well, also you need to take into account the role of the victim. Are you feeding the persecutor what they need? Are you trying to, as they say, "sail a pizza past the wolf"? The persecutor may not pick up on things because your way of telling the persecutor may be either accusatory which would get the persecutor to fight back or maybe so sympathetic and so helpless that the persecutor would see it as a weakness, so the victim would need to look at their role, whether they're really playing a role that makes themselves irresistible to the persecutor, and then the victim would need to look at whether they need to empower themselves, so they come across as more effective and more worthy of respect and get listened to.

Neil Sattin: Yeah and maybe this would be a good time to also talk about what you alluded to a few moments ago, which is that, people often are playing more than one role and can switch back and forth. Or they can perceive themselves as one role while the other person is perceiving them differently, and the example that pops into my mind immediately of that is, you talk about the political system, the political parties in our country, where the classic, maybe Republican postures that they see themselves as the rescuer of the taxpayer, and the Democrat might see themselves as the rescuer of the common person, and both of them perceive the other as a persecutor. And that they're being victimized in some way by them.

Stephen Karpman: Well, that becomes a turnoff to the voter when they realize that politics has become a game of accusing people, lying, accusing people of things, switching around and only taking one position and not knowing what's going on on the other side of the aisle. So a person gets out of the political game by respecting both sides, to see that each side has a following and they have a point of view. Now the other question about the switching of roles is very real. The persecutor may decide that they want to win the game and if they're being accused of being a persecutor, they may switch. They may switch over to be a rescuer and say, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, I really care about you. And I didn't mean that... "

Stephen Karpman: That could all be a game, it could all be a manipulation. Or they could be... Play the role of the victim in order to win the game and keep things confusing and keep things involved. So they could play the victim of... They never can be understood, they're really trying to help the person with the criticism and they're being misunderstood. So you can wind up switching around the triangle in order to win. In order to not get pegged into one of the roles, you switch around so that you can win.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and what is winning exactly?

Stephen Karpman: Well, winning is the excitement, the excitement of the drama of staying involved in some argumentative relationship wherein some problems, problematic relationship, which is very involving, it's... They're standing for negative strokes instead of positive strokes, but some people think negative strokes are just as good or even better, or they don't even know why they're involved, but they are involved and sometimes they don't realize how involved they were until the game somehow ends which could be traumatic sometimes or mind blowing. It could free them, they can all of a sudden feel free. The rescuer would say, "I'd rather be smarter than martyred."

Stephen Karpman: They don't want to be a martyr anymore, they want to be smart that they're out of the game and they're free again, and so the victim might say, "I'd rather be mad than sad instead of complaining all the time." They'd get angry at the whole game, saying, "Why am in this game? Why am I playing this silly role of a victim all my life? I can get things for myself." And then they can empower themselves, which is a big part of the drama triangle and getting out as people learn to empower themselves and realize they can't change others but they can change themselves and get what they want in life.

Neil Sattin: And where does this all... How did you come up with the compassion triangle as the antidote to the drama triangle?

Stephen Karpman: Well, in transactional analysis which started with Eric Berne's "Games People Play," which was a runaway bestseller years ago, 120 weeks in a row on New York Times best seller list, and I trained with Eric Berne, and one of the principles in transactional analysis is that there's three ego states. People can either play the role: The parent, adult, or a child; or be those people to others. And the thing is that the roles can be played positive and negative, like the critical parent role can be played in a negative way, which is always criticizing, but in the positive way, which is a strong leader with decisive... With rules and people follow them, and society is stronger because of the rules.

Stephen Karpman: So using that idea from Eric Berne that all these ideas can be seen in a positive or a negative way, I started looking at each of the roles in the drama triangle, can be either positive or negative. So, for instance, the persecutor is very negative 'cause they keep the victim feeling terrible about themselves, but if you get out of the triangle, it can be positive, you can be an aggressive, self-empowering person, who's determined to channel your energies into life and to being purposeful and productive.

Stephen Karpman: And the rescuer, ordinarily, is a person who gets walked on all the time, people take advantage of the rescuer. They're always helping, and giving people another chance and then another chance and then a third chance, and... But they can switch that negative rescuing to positive rescuing. They can love themselves and they can actually help themselves and help others. And the victim, instead of being the negative role of always needy, always helpless, never, never learning anything that they need to learn, then they can switch that into the vulnerable role, that they're actually open to helping themselves and hearing other people and changing themselves. So all three roles can be either way. But one day, I developed what I called the compassion triangle, which I could go into more if you want to.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, let's do that.

Stephen Karpman: Okay. The compassion triangle is, I put that altogether and realize that people are actually in all three roles at once. There's a primary role that everyone sees, but then there's two hidden roles. So, using an example of a boss picking on the secretary would be seen as the persecutor, and people wouldn't like the boss, but secretly, if you want another way of looking at the boss or helping the boss, the boss is also a rescuer. The boss is rescuing the secretary who can't do it right, who can't learn fast enough, so by criticizing the secretary or being a helicopter mom to the secretary, they're really trying to impart information that would help the person. And in a way, they're also helping their own job, because if people don't get their job done, then the boss could get fired. So the boss would also be a victim and say, "Oh my gosh, I'm running ship that's going aground and people aren't doing their job right." So then, it's all three roles at once.

Stephen Karpman: And originally, that actually goes back to evolutionary days in which there's, which I called the drama triangle, which is another subject but that's... In evolutionary days, you have to trigger all three roles at once, immediately, in order to save the offspring to go on to another generation. So I've digressed at that into a situation I saw on TV on a Discovery Channel.

Neil Sattin: Okay.

Stephen Karpman: Where a tiger was approaching a baby elephant and the bigger elephants circled the baby. So the way they're a rescuer, they were rescuing the baby. They were also persecutor 'cause they could chase off of the tiger, and then they're also victim because they saw their own family being threatened, and with empathy, they could feel the threat to the baby elephant. So all three had to be triggered and going through different situations in evolution, all three of those actually started out of instincts. So in a stress situation, all three of those are fired off at once.

Neil Sattin: Interesting and why... So why did you end up calling this the compassion triangle?

Stephen Karpman: Well, compassion triangle was... I picked that name, somewhat for its appeal, but also because it helps you have compassion for each person. So instead of saying the persecutor is evil and critical and narcissistic, you'd have compassion for the person also being a rescuer and a victim in what they were doing. And same, you'd have compassion for the rescuer, it could be criticized and say, "Oh you're a rescuer. Maybe a therapist is letting their patient call in the middle hours of the night or something, and not paying their bills. They could say, instead of being critical a person who's a rescuer, you could see them as also a persecutor which is keeping someone in the dependent position, and they're also a victim, 'cause they don't know how to get out of the situation because they get so many strokes and purpose out of rescuing people.

Stephen Karpman: And the victim, instead of seeing them as, "Oh, you're a victim, you're playing a manipulation game, you're a professional victim," you could see them as also a persecutor that they're keeping other people involved in their game, and they're also a rescuer. They're giving other people what they want, they're giving other people a victim to pick on, so they don't need to look at their own lives. So, It goes on from there. In my book, A Game-Free Life, the first half of the book deals with all the different drama triangles in different situations like the identified patient and all sorts of situations. And the second half of the book is all about open intimate communication and listening and accountability and how to get out of the games.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and so I think that the danger is to start to get confused like, "Alright, well, if the persecutor is also the victim and also the rescuer, then how do those distinctions even matter?" And I think what you're saying is that, thinking about it this way is a good way to stretch you outside of the boundaries of the game thinking, where you're stuck in a particular role or where the other person is stuck in a particular role to develop a little bit more flexibility in how you're thinking about it.

Stephen Karpman: Yeah, the word compassion could get people drawn into forgiving other people for their game playing, like forgiving a persecutor, not actually realizing what they're actually doing with all their criticism. So you don't want to get soft, you need to know the games and you need to know the roles and you don't want to first get into forgiving everybody, because that will be a rescue and will keep you the game, but the compassion triangle is used mostly to understand why the games are played. If you want to do that, the most people just deal with the drama triangle with the roles. I'm in this role, that role. And sometimes they get into the switches, which is what the triangle role change was, the drama of changing roles and getting other people to line up as persecutors, rescuers and victims and getting lots of other people involved.

Stephen Karpman: So that's the drama and the switching. But if you want to understand the reasons why a person gets into the game, the compassion gives you three ways of talking to that person, like that boss, you could say, "I know you're trying to rescue a person help them by the criticism, but maybe it's not working." And also the boss saying, telling the boss how they're a victim, you know, you could be victimized, you could get fired, if these people don't learn their job or...

Stephen Karpman: So, it's when you want to get into understanding the roles is when you use a compassion triangle, and usually, if you go on the internet to the different blogs and the other books written about the Drama Triangle, they mostly just describe the roles and how people get into the roles and what to do to empower yourself to get out of the role. They don't often get into the switches, which gets into dysfunctional family games. And I have a list in my book of all dysfunctional family games, but they don't go the next step which is to actually understand why people are doing it, 'cause that would get them too soft and they would tend to stay in the game, if they are two sympathetic to the other people.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so when you're, say, working with a couple and let's just choose a typical example, which is like, one person is always complaining, let's say. So one person always has complaint and the other person probably has the story of like I can, it'll never be enough. What I do will never be enough for my partner. How could you help them use the compassion triangle as a way to get out of that dynamic?

Stephen Karpman: Well, we look at the three motivations behind each other's point. And I would do an exercise where each one would talk to the other person. One person would say, let's say, the complainer would say to the other person. I know I'm complaining as a victim, but I'm also persecutor and to keeping you feeling guilty about my complaints and I'm also rescuer because I'm turning up the energy between us and giving you what you need in order to feel superior. And then they would do the triangle for the other person. Like I know you're coming on as persecutor, which isn't working 'cause I'll fight it, but I know you're also the rescuer 'cause you're trying to help, and I know you're also victim because you feel this is intolerable, and you're afraid of what the next step would be. So I will do the compassion triangle exercise and I would have both people do it.

Stephen Karpman: So the victim would go through their three roles and the persecutor's three roles and then the persecutor would have to tell the other one, here's the roles and here are your three roles. This compassion triangle exercise is very, very moving, and it's being adopted in many many treatment centers. And I just wish more people would know about it, and use it, of course, wishing would be hoping and be a victim positions. So I'll back off that one.

Neil Sattin: Well, here we are taking action that hopefully, many of you will go out and grab A Game-Free Life. It's on Amazon, and there's a lot of information in there, there's a lot to absorb and even in just the description of the Drama Triangle, and the compassion triangle. And then, as you mentioned, Steven, you move on to talking about intimacy building and communication and building trust, and obviously, that's a lot of what we're talking about here on my show, Relationship Alive, because those are the building blocks of successful relationships.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Stephen Karpman: Okay. So, the second half of the book starts with the three rules of openness. It starts with the idea of how to set up communication, and the three rules of openness are: Bring it up, talk it up, wrap it up. And I've put a whole lot in there: How to bring up your points so that people listen to it, or how you can bring it up so they won't listen to it. And to talk it up, I talk about all the different games that go on, all the listening problems that go on, all the different blocks that occur to keep someone from listening to your point. And then, the wrap it up, I have a whole different series of how, rather than talk a point to death, you can wrap it up and that would be the goal. And the talk it up, I do a lot about listening, and I have a... A lot of different theoretical ideas I've written through, but they're all practical. And then the example you previously mentioned about the complainer. I have a person learn how to listen to the point the other person made.

Stephen Karpman: Now, I have this thing called the listeners loop, which is the four things that ideally a good listener, would do, and it's... I put them on a loop because they're all connected. So it's the letters S-E-V-F. S is for strokes. You give the person strokes for what... For who they are. And then the E stands for encouragement. You give them encouragement. "You can keep talking. You can bring this up to me any time." And that preserves the channel of communication. And the next letter is V for validation. You validate whatever is true that the other person says. And I do have a 10 percent rule, that 10 percent of everything you say is correct and 10 percent of everything you say is incorrect, and 10 percent of the population would agree.

[chuckle]

Stephen Karpman: And that I use in couples to make sure someone hears at least something that the other person says. And then, so that validates the point. And then, the final is the F for follow through. That validates the purpose of the communication, that you show some results. After the communication, you show some tangible results of the discussion. That, I call that the listeners loop.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, it's...

Stephen Karpman: There's also...

Neil Sattin: Go ahead.

Stephen Karpman: There's also a loop of how you block people from ever getting their point across. So I could mention that if you want.

Neil Sattin: Sure, let's see that. And just to be clear, we're in the "talk it up" section of your work?

Stephen Karpman: Yeah. So there's three letters... Four letters there. In that loop, C-A-S-E, these are the four ways that you can block a person from being effective in their communication. The first C is condescending. I guess, maybe the listeners or you could imagine a situation in which you're really earnestly trying to get through to another person, and that person, in return, first, is condescending, they're looking down on everything you're doing, they're saying, "Oh, this is just your symptom of... You've been talking to the wrong people. You're just the fool. Nothing you say is correct." So they would be condescending and look down on you. The next block would be abrupt. They're just suddenly cut off... Suddenly cut off the communication, "Stop. I've had enough. Stop it." And then, they would walk out the room or hang up the phone or something.

Stephen Karpman: That would be intimidating, and that would stop a communication. The next on the loop is S is for secretive. They would withhold all the information that you need in order to hear their point of view, and they would withhold all the information that supports that you heard them. So they keep secretive, and you can't... You don't know where you stand with the person who doesn't give you enough information. But that's an information block, by not giving enough information to let the communication proceed further.

Stephen Karpman: And the last block would be the person that you're talking to is evasive. They would talk fast, they would change the subject quickly, they would lead you astray into another subject that's actually more interesting, and you would forget your original point. So that C-A-S-E, or CASE block would keep you from being effective. But if you know the four different blocks, maybe you can address one of them and break it down. If you can break down one of the blocks, then you can... The person will be open to listening to you. And according to the transaction analysis, positive-negative rules, there's also positive C-A-S-E that, instead of condescending, you'd be caring for C; Instead of A, Abrupt, you'd be approachable. Sure, it'd be nice to talk to someone who's carrying an approachable.

Stephen Karpman: And instead of S for secretive, the person would be sharing. "Oh, great. This person is sharing information with me. Now, we can move forward." And instead of E for being evasive, you'd say, they're engaged. "Oh, they stay engaged on the subject. We can have enough time to talk it all the way through, rather than suddenly stopping the subject after 30 seconds or five seconds." So, there's a positive loop. And in the workshops that I do, and I do workshops all over the world, workshop... We have that exercise being done. A person practices each of those four negatives, and then the other one deals with them, and then you switch sides. And so, on all these different information and communication blocks, people can practice them. And in couples therapy, you can get them to actually practice the negative C-A-S-E and then switch it to a positive C-A-S-E. And all those can...

Stephen Karpman: All those things in the back half of the book and are... Can be practiced. And as social skills. I could mention that originally in Games People Play, the games were spelled out. Eric Berne listed over 100 games and it was a wildly, wildly popular book. But he didn't have a way of getting out of the games. He had something he called an antithesis. Like maybe one sentence or two for about four or five of the games that you could say that would just stop the game right there. But he didn't take it further. I was the only one in transaction analysis field that actually took that further. And my entire book is... It's about what to do about it. Social skills training and relationship building, training, and intimacy building, training, that you can go beyond games with.

Neil Sattin: Great. So, let's pull out a few more of those because there are so many in there that are really... Well, what I like about it is that it... In the way that you quantify these ways of being, it makes it really clear in ways that that I wouldn't have thought about before. Before we dive into one of them, there are two important things that I think we should mention. One is, I'm wondering if you, we've mentioned transactional analysis several times, it's been your field. Can you give us just like the 10,000-foot view for people listening, if you don't know what transactional analysis is, this is what it is?

Stephen Karpman: Sure. Originally, the psychotherapy field was in the area of what Freud discovered. Freud was a hypnotist and he was a psychiatrist, and he would... With his mind as a hypnotist, he figured that if you could take people all way back to childhood and unleash all the traumas and all the repressed energies of childhood, that this freed up energy would then allow them to be freer in their lives. So this was called the psychodynamic approach or this... Or on a higher professional level, it's a psychoanalytic approach. And all you have to do was going back into childhood and understanding things. Eric Berne came along in a very revolutionary times in 1960s, in San Francisco, very revolutionary times where everything was being rethought and he said, "Why do you have to go back in childhood only? Let's look at what's actually happening on the social level. What's actually happening between people in the here and now that they have to deal with?"

Stephen Karpman: Like, you can talk about your childhood all you want, but what if you're getting divorced or what if the boss has demoted you and put your desk in the hallway or something when you were on vacation, or some game you had to deal with? So he brought up the games and he gave very catchy names to them like, "I'm only trying to help you," or "now I've got you, you SOB" or a game of Kick Me. So he came... So the book, of course was wildly popular, of course, people read it to figure out the games other people were playing [chuckle] and weren't necessarily using it to figure out their games. But he brought up the whole level of, of social level. So then transactional analysis had a social level, TA it's called, TA for transactional analysis. And then a psychological level. Psychological level's when you go into the depth, into childhood which is now called scripting, how people write their life scripts when they're young, and then they play out their life scripts as if they're plays.

Stephen Karpman: And transaction analysis has a lot about script analysis. And I have a, maybe the middle section of my book is all about script analysis. How you find out what your position is in life? Like, maybe you have an, "I'm okay, you're not okay," position in life or "I'm not okay, you're okay," which was written in Tom Harris's book, I'm Okay You're Okay, which was the other big best-seller back in the '60s and '70s. So transactional analysis became a major force in psychology and psychiatry and it's taught all over the world. We have training centers in 30 or 40 countries and conferences all over the world, so it's a major field in psychology. But because of the dominance of the psychoanalytic approach, some schools actually won't teach it.

Stephen Karpman: So that's one of the games people play of being, of protecting your turf. But it gets more and more popular and my book sells, I'm probably selling about 10 a week or so. And there's transactional analysis books and conferences all over the world all the time. So it's gotten pretty popular and more people are looking at what goes on between people, rather than just what went on in your childhood.

Neil Sattin: Right, and so the idea is that you're analyzing what is actually happening between two people in the present moment as...

Stephen Karpman: Right. And the only precedent to that was back in the early 1960s in the Bay Area, that they started family therapy, and they actually began to have names for what people were doing back and forth in the family therapy circle. Like, people who... There were dyads and triads and certain things like that. But Eric Berne just jumped in way into the future by actually naming the games that each individual person was playing and he brought it up in many different levels. Some of these games, he wrote up about six or seven different levels of why people are playing it. And that appealed to the more depth-oriented people who realized, there's a lot of depths in...

Stephen Karpman: There is many depths in what people are doing with each other as they were in what they were doing in their childhood, which I guess psycho-dynamically was like, there's a dozen defense mechanisms that people would employ that was pretty deep, but in TA, you have just as many or even more social defense mechanisms, how you keep people from getting intimate, how you keep people from making their point, how you keep people one-down. So that, sort of TA, primarily, my book, went more in that direction.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and I think that is definitely one of the valuable things is, as soon as you see that you're in a particular game, you talk about the title that could be kind of on the front of someone's sweatshirt like, "This is the game that I'm playing with you," that it gives you a clue of like, "Oh, I'm actually not really connecting with this person. We're just doing this dance that actually prevents us from connecting with each other."

Stephen Karpman: Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that. The sweatshirt was an idea that Eric Berne used to talk about in our seminars, and I trained with Eric Berne for, in his weekly seminars in San Francisco for almost six years. And he used to talk about the sweatshirt jokingly, but I've taken it a lot further. It actually tells you what game a person's playing. Imagine you're trying to get through to somebody and you look at their sweatshirt and it says, "I don't care about you or what you're saying," and all of a sudden, you say, "My gosh, look at that." I figured there's a couple...

Stephen Karpman: I boiled that down to two sweatshirts. One is the let's pretend sweatshirt, is let's pretend I care about what you're saying. And the other was try and... Try and... Try and make me listen to you. So the "let's pretend" and the "try and" sweatshirt, you're served none. Breaks a game-wide open. Sometimes you don't realize until after you've left and you think, "My gosh, that person had a sweatshirt of I don't care what you say, or I'm never going to listen to anybody," and then you realize, "Wow, that's a game." And so the whole core of a game can be wrapped up in their sweatshirt. And there's a lot of work in TA about intuition, the use of intuition and reading what people are doing, and then also ways of checking out your intuition.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so if I had... Let's say I was with someone, and I thought their sweatshirt was, "Let's pretend that we're... That we're going to work on our problems together," maybe that would be a good one. How do I know if that person is actually just playing the game with me because on the back of their sweatshirt, it would be actually, I'm the one in charge here, or something like that.

Stephen Karpman: Well, that was the original sweatshirt of Eric Berne, there's the front of the sweatshirt and what you see and the back is after the switch. The switch is very important in games, like you think you see something and then you get a switch, and all of a sudden, you say, "Oh my God, that's what happened." So that sweatshirt could be an alcoholic wearing a sweatshirt "let's pretend I'm going to stop drinking this time", or "let's pretend that your insights get through to me." And then the rescuer or the co-dependent could say, "Let's pretend I'm going to be effective right now, and you're listening to me," or "Let's pretend we're all going to live happily ever after." But it's an intuition that you might not be able to think of in the heat of the game, but when you walk away the game, you say, "My God, I'm talking to a sweatshirt that says 'I don't care about you,' and I never will," on the back."

Neil Sattin: Yeah, how would you test that out? How would you know if... Because I think it can be easy to step back from a person and just say, "Oh okay, I have the story about this person, which is that, they're never going to care about me or they're actually not interested in me." Actually, that might be a good one I'm thinking about going out on a first date with someone and trying to navigate the awkwardness of that and maybe coming away from that thinking like, "Yeah, this person, they just don't care about me." How would you find out if that sort of thing was actually true?

Stephen Karpman: Well, probably in time, it'll come out or say... You mention there is this... That if the guy thinks the... Sees the girl's sweatshirt and says, "I'm not a man, I'm not romantically attracted to you," well, then he moves differently. He talks to her in a different way rather than assuming, "I'm a hottie and you're my man," thinking that that's what's going on. So it's a way sort of catching on to what's going on, what's the game that's... Is there a game and what are the real positions? Now, it's okay to be hoping and to wishing and maybe this is going to work out, this is going to be fine, but it's only when there's the game and one way of finding out what the game is to see the sweatshirt and then you go from there, you can bring it up.

Stephen Karpman: There's a new type of therapy called relational therapy, in which the therapist shares their feelings with their client and they could actually say to the client, "I feel you're not interested in anything I say," and that could open up a conversation, but it's fine to express your feelings of what you think is going on as long as there's an openness contract... Contract to be open and share with each other without games.

Neil Sattin: Oh my goodness, you're just reminding me of so many things that are in your book. Okay, so before we dive in there, just going back to the case, the blocks to communication that you were talking about, C for being condescending, A for abrupt, S for secretive, E for evasive. If I sense one of those things happening in my partner, or the person that I'm talking to, what's a strategy that you've seen be effective in... 'cause you mentioned, sometimes you can take on one of those blocks and break it down, and then you get through and then you're back to communicating with that person.

Stephen Karpman: Well, the first step in learning the games people play, and learning intimacy communication and so forth, is to identify it. So, if you identify the person as condescending, you would say, "Wait a minute, I need a little more respect from what I'm saying here are my points." So you could go for that. If you heard the person's abrupt you'd say it up in advance, "I need at least five minutes to talk to you. Will you give me five minutes?" So then you have a way of dealing with that. For the secretive block you'd say, "I need you to tell me why you're doing this and I'll tell you why I'm doing it so you set up a sharing substitute for the S."

Stephen Karpman: And then for... For the E, the evasive, you say, "I don't want to start changing the subjects," or as soon as they change the subject, you say, "Wait, you're changing the subject on me, you're not here, or you're not hearing me, or let's stay on this one point, it's important." So knowing what the blocks are, you can actually address each one and it'd be more effective than than if you just threw up your hands and say, "Well, you're impossible. I can't talk to you."

Neil Sattin: Right.

Stephen Karpman: Which might work also.

Neil Sattin: Right, well, it would work in a different way, I guess, of keeping things the way they are. I'm curious. You mentioned earlier very briefly, I think you call, they're called the ego states, the critical parent, the nurturing parent, the adult, the free child, the adoptive child, I think I'm remembering those right. And the way that each of those gives us some flexibility and how we interact with other people, and maybe also how we get stuck in one way or another mode. Can we talk about that for just a little bit and then what I'd love to do is kind of bridge that into your map of intimacy and how people can think about the level of intimacy, the intimacy scale between them and another person.

Stephen Karpman: Okay. So the ego states was Berne's way of externalizing Freud's super ego, ego and id, which is three factors of the internal mind, a person has a super ego that's critical of themselves or they have an ego which deals with the world, or they have an id which is powerful forces. So, Freudian dynamics was based on that, Well, Eric Berne took it out into the real world and said in the real world, there are people out there you see as your parent, as your adult, or as a child, and that gave you a way of looking at people. So that was the starting point. Now, each ego state, it gets subdivided a little bit, and they can be in a positive or negative way. Like the parent is sort of subdivided into the matrons and patrons, I guess, is the father and the mother, you know, different kinds of systems around the world.

Stephen Karpman: So the critical parent would, would be the authoritative one that maintains the rules of society and correctness and ethics. But the negative critical parent would be the one who would just domain and criticize people endlessly. So all the ego states have positive and negative side. Now the flexible person is one who stays in contact flexibly with all of the ego states. They can move in and out easily. And one of Eric Berne's dozen books, half dozen books, it's called The Moving Self. At times. In your talk to someone. If you need to go to the... Okay, critical parent, you say, "Wait a minute, you're breaking our rules." Or you need to go to the rebel child, you might say, "Oh, come on, well, let's have some fun. This is silly." So you need to be able to move around or you can move into the adult and say, "Wait a minute. I'm not sure what's going on. Let's look at the process. And let's see where we're going with the information." So you need to be able to move around all the ego states. And so that's the flexible person.

Stephen Karpman: A person who gets locked in, they could get locked into critical parent, locked into only free child, they're only negative free child where they're just silly all the time and you can't ever talk to them. Or it could get locked into the negative nurturing parent that just only wants to rescue victims, all they care about in the world is victims and everything you do is a symptom of something. So you could get locked into a certain ego state yourself. And you can be talked to someone else who's locked into one ego state only, and that's called the excluded ego state. So there's a lot about ego states that Eric Berne writes about in his early books. It's a good way...

Neil Sattin: And...

Stephen Karpman: Ego states it's a good way of identifying who you're talking to. There's the excellent idea by Dr. Dusey called the egogram and you look at someone and you see this vertical bar graph of how much critical parent are showing, how much nurturing parent is their, nurturing parent, adult reach out, adopted child, and you get an idea of who they are. We're talking to real tough person, a person whose critical parent could be first on the bar graph, their adult could be second, and maybe your free child or they're vulnerable, they have a child that's very low. Or it could be talk with a very flexible, easily manipulated person, they may be all in their child and all either playful or sorrowful or hurtful and they have no parent, no strength that they can rely on.

Stephen Karpman: So there's a lot in TA about the ego states and I go into that in my books too, 'cause I have one variant of this option, this article I called, called options, and showing you how you can switch among your different ego states in order to handle the situation with somebody else.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so what would be what would be an example of that?

Stephen Karpman: Hmm?

Neil Sattin: So if I wanted to, let's say, I was trying to assess if, where someone was at and I like how you brought that up in terms of like looking at them and seeing where they show up on the bar graph, are they high in one dimension or low in another? Do you have suggestions for how you elicit different states from other people?

Stephen Karpman: Well, there's two ways. I have a summary of the Options article in my book, A Game Free Life. And then, in my latest book, Collected Papers and Transactional Analysis, I have a copy of the original options article, which gives you all the examples. That's different from the egogram, which is an intuition reading of the other person in which you can tell how much ego state energy is in the other person that you're dealing with. So it's an intuition exercise, intuition reading like the sweatshirt, or just would be the egogram and the sweatshirt would be ways of reading a person that you're talking to.

Neil Sattin: Got it. Got it. Okay, let's, if we can... In our last few minutes here. One thing that I think you describe really beautifully in your book are the ways that we construct intimacy in relation to another person, and the two concepts that come to mind here for me are the trust contracts that we create with others. And then the intimacy. I think you call it the intimacy scale, which helps you see where you're at in terms of your levels of intimacy with another person. So yeah, let's dive in there.

Stephen Karpman: Okay, thank you for mentioning this. Over the years, I pretty much I've developed a lot of different ideas. I had an older sister who used to teach, have one new idea every year or one new project that you master. She would say, well, one year, you master bowling, another year, you master handcraft. So I set upon myself that each year, I wanted to create a new theory. So both of those are new theories.

Stephen Karpman: The five trust contracts for couples are... Might turn out be one of the most popular ideas I've done. And that is, you draw two sets of ego states facing each other, and the trust contract between the okay critical parent, and the okay critical parent, the other person, is the no collapse contract. You agreed to the contracts you've made, you don't suddenly stop working. You don't suddenly stop your hygiene, you don't suddenly break all the rules, you don't... So the no trust contract is between the critical parents, between the two nurturing parents.

Neil Sattin: Right. That's also like you don't threaten to leave the other person, or...

Stephen Karpman: And between the two nurturing parents, the couple agrees on the protection contract that it's in your mind to protect the other person from putting them to too much stress. Between the adults is the openness contract. Bring it up, talk it up, wrap it up, at a good timing, not just anytime. And then between the free child. It's the enjoyment contract that you really want to give the other person lots of pleasure and whatever you can and the other in their lives, and the two of you.

Stephen Karpman: And between the adapted child is the flexibility contract that you agree to give in. You don't have to win 51% of all the arguments. And so this is an ideal that they live by. Each person needs to live by it themselves, and they also look to it being maintained in the other person, but they can all break down very quickly. I had one example of an alcoholic who went out and got drunk, and a restaurant and was screaming. Right away, he broke the no collapse contract. He just broke down and threw a scene. He broke the nurturing, the protection contract. Everyone got embarrassed, everyone's child got embarrassed, and so that was broken, and the openness contract was broken because you couldn't talk things over with him, he was in a don't think mentality.

Stephen Karpman: And then the free child, the enjoyment contract, there was nothing enjoyable about that dinner in the restaurant, when he threw a scene with the restaurant that even Jack Nicholson would have been happy with in one of his books, movies. And then between the adopted child, the flexibility contract. There's no flexibility there. He wouldn't yield to people telling him to please stop or anything. So, all contract can be broken. And when a marriage relationship or a long-term relationship is breaking down, sometimes one by one, the contracts are broken. Maybe the enjoyment contact is broken first. They just talk too much about issues, and drag themselves down. Or maybe a no collapse contract is broken. They go out and have a partner somewhere else, so one-by-one, the contracts can be built up but they also can be broken down. And then you also mentioned was it the intimacy scale?

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Stephen Karpman: Okay, I cataloged there the subjects that people talk about. I've never seen anyone do that. I go on five levels 20%, 40%, 60% up to 100%. And these are the actual topics that people talk about. Some of the topics can bring people closer, which is on the right of the scale at 100% or they can distance people. Eric Berne once used the example of a very awkward first date. Guy looks around and looks at the room and says, "My, aren't the walls perpendicular tonight?" That doesn't take things very far. So at the first level, at the 20% level, it's silence. Pretty much nothing is said but it could be an okay silence, a break in time, just a breather.

Neil Sattin: You could be staring into each other's eyes in silence, which might actually feel very intimate.

Stephen Karpman: Yeah, right. But that's a topic of conversation would be no topic but silence. You're not sure what's going on. So it doesn't really build intimacy, maybe it might. The next level will be 40% which is, things objects and places, which is the guy is saying, "My, aren't the walls perpendicular tonight," or people can just talk about the restaurants in town, sort of awkwardly trying to come up with one after another, until the conversation runs down, or he could hear at a diner, the truck drivers talking about the different stop lights and the police... That doesn't develop intimacy. It doesn't get people into who they are and what they believe in, but that comes at the 60% level. And I have several different PI people. You talk about people and ideas or philosophy and issues or psychology, you talk about what people think about and believe in things and they get to get into themselves and that gets a little more closeness going.

Stephen Karpman: Now, at the 80%, I have it divided with an M, Y, me or you. You actually interview the other person, find out a whole lot about who they are, what their beliefs are, what their hobbies are, their family is, and they talk about their self a lot. It gets uneven if one person only talks about themselves or they interview the other person, so the other person only talks about themselves. But that gets close when you learn a lot about the person, but it's not the same as 100%. At a 100% level, there is a you, us, talk about us. What do we feel about each other? What happened when we first met each other? What are the things that we are going to do together? What's going on between us? And you talk about at the us level, and you share your feelings about each other and the two of you.

Stephen Karpman: So that all can be practiced in workshops or between couples. You can practice each one of the different levels. So you get an idea of conversations. It's mostly useful when people first meet each other when conversations can go dead or they can go right. I mean, some party can jump too fast, a person... A guy at a first date could jump all way over to me and you and us and proposition her or someone could... And then she could bring it back to things, like wallpaper decorations or something. [chuckle] So, it gives an idea of the different topics of people talk about, whether it brings them closer or it brings... Takes them further apart.

Neil Sattin: Yeah and I could see that been instructive just like as you're with another person, like, oh, are they in their critical parent? Are they in their adult? Are they in their free child? You could just as easily be like, alright, what are we talking about and what is that, if I want to build more closeness with this person, then I might take this to trying to figure out their philosophies and ideas and interests and eventually, get into our deepest beliefs, what they believe, what I believe, and that actually helps bring you closer in a situation where you're feeling a little distant from either someone you've been with for a long time or someone you're just meeting.

Stephen Karpman: Right. Yeah, and by the way, none of this should be called manipulative, but like, "Okay, now I'm going to go to the 20% level, now I'm going to go to 60%." It's actually people are just identifying what good conversations are. Now, of course, a salesman could learn it immediately and go right over to all way up to 100%, and con you into thinking that the new vacuum cleaning device is what brings them... Two of them together. But all these things, you know, options, how to switch ego states, or the different levels of communication, all these things are things that you learn and eventually become part of you. 'Cause there are people out there who automatically know all these things, so it's okay to go to school and learn your social skills if that's what you need when you go into therapy, or you read a book on relationship building, which is my Game Free Life book.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so I want to let you know listening that, even though we've covered so much in this conversation today, it's not even half of what's [chuckle] in this book. And it... I really was struck with every several pages, like, wow, there's another valuable resource, wow, there's another way to think about this and to extract kind of the core of what's happening in every... In a particular given situation to get to something meaningful. So again, Stephen Karpman, he created the Drama Triangle. His book, A Game Free Life, which talks about the drama triangle, the compassion triangle, and then all of these tools for building intimacy and dealing with communication issues. Because this isn't a book that's just for couples, it's about how you navigate the world and stay game free as much as possible. So it's really, really valuable stuff in there.

Stephen Karpman: I should put in a plug that it's available on Amazon.

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: Yes, yeah. I think I mentioned that earlier and we'll make sure that we have links to all of that in the show notes and transcript for today's episode, which, as a reminder, you can get if you visit neilsattin.com/triangle, as in the Drama Triangle. Or you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And Stephen, what's a good way if people want to find out more about your work, other than grabbing the book on Amazon, what's your website?

Stephen Karpman: Okay. I do have about 30 papers I've written, which go into much more detail of the ideas that are in A Game Free line. I just recently came out with that. It's called collected papers in transactional analysis, about 280 pages. I sell it from my website, all you have to do is type in my name on Google, and you'll go to my website. And eventually, Amazon's going to have it. But I really appreciate you inviting me Neil and sharing some of these ideas, and I would like people to have A Game Free Life, and that's what I've been working on, and I really appreciate the time you've spent, and the time we've worked on together to make this interview happen, so I really want to thank you very much and thank your viewers who are listening.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, my pleasure. It's been so great to have you, and this is stuff you've been working on for decades. So, what a treat to one that you were able to put so much of it into your book, and also that we've been able to meet and chat about it for the people today who are just finding out about your work. I do have one last quick question for you, if that would be okay?

Stephen Karpman: No, I'm okay.

Neil Sattin: Okay.

Stephen Karpman: Thank you.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. So when we were talking about the trust contracts, I'm just wondering, if I were listening to that and thinking, "Okay, I'm hearing the contracts that I've navigated really well with my partner, let's say, but I can see that... " Here's a contract. Like the enjoyment contract that I've just let fall apart completely or even that I feel like my partner is sliding on one of those contracts. What would you suggest as a good first step for people to have the "us" conversation that allows them to repair around a broken contract?

Stephen Karpman: Well, generally, it would be communication, again, and stating what the problem is and your feelings, and if there's an actual issue or situation, you could do the compassion triangle, and your motivations for that situation, and their motivations. So, it primarily is just identifying the issue and working at what you can do and what you can't do. But primarily, the five trust contract, you should apply to yourself that... And the enjoyment contract that you really won't keep it in your heart, that you want the other person to be happy. And any kind of flexibility you can do on the flexibility contract would be fine. But there's some things you cannot do and you can't be expected to, and there's some things you can do that maybe you might do.

Stephen Karpman: But you could be getting more in touch with your free child, a more playful side, self. Or if the other person has trouble getting into their free child and their playfulness, you could stroke them and when they do get into the free child, tell them how much you enjoy that. And I don't have an actual situation to talk about. These are pretty general for people on any of the five trust contracts is it's something to talk about, to talk about it with all the rules of sharing and communication and... You know, I mentioned this: The listening loop. And also, there's a information iceberg I did mention. There's four levels of how you can get your point across, get your... Maybe it's too late in the interview just to go through it, but...

Neil Sattin: No, go for it.

Stephen Karpman: One is a... One, you get your point across, and then underneath the water of the iceberg, it's the first ice information. You want to give all the information behind your point to support it, and you want to get a chance to get that information out there before the person cuts off the conversation. And then, the next... I... On the iceberg, is importance. You want to be able to get across the importance of your idea, why it's important to be listened to. Like, if you're talking at a board meeting, you want to be able to get across the importance of why your idea needs to be taken up by the business, or with someone you're talking to, why it's important that this conversation is heard.

Stephen Karpman: And then, the last I at the... I at the very bottom, is actually a trauma triangle for the bottom of the iceberg, is the intent. You want to make sure you know... People know that your intent is not persecute or rescue a victim, but it's to share information, to move the relationship on in the five trust contracts.

Neil Sattin: And you actually made me think of just revisiting briefly a question that we touched on at the very beginning, which is, I'm curious about, in your experience, how do you know when someone is just kinda stuck in the game? And you try all these things and... Is there a point at which you think one can say like, "All right, I think I've given this what I can give it and it's time to move on to a... " You know, "This person is stuck no matter what I do."

Stephen Karpman: It takes a while to get stuck. If you're a rescuer and you're persistent, you'll stay in there. If you have the drivers that say, "Try hard and please them and be perfect in how you please them," the drivers can keep you stuck in the relationship a long time. Now, you could, maybe not even be in the game, and you meet somebody for the first time and you just say, "That's it," you just don't want to go further. You may give it a couple of tries, and then it's over. So it's... Getting into the triangle takes a while to get in there, because then it gets complicated because all three roles are beginning to emerge as motivations in each person, and that complicates it, the... But it takes a while to get to the point where we realize, "Hey, we're stuck." And then you could talk about the idea of being stuck.

Stephen Karpman: Maybe from the compassion triangle, you could settle on a particular issue, and once you got the issue settled on, then you talk about your three motivations for hanging on to this issue. But, yeah, defining an issue is usually a point to decide whether you can move on or not.

Neil Sattin: Got it. Yeah. And you do a good job, at one point in the book, of talking about, it was, I think, in a work situation with two people who are having... It's impossible for them to get along and where one of them simply is willing to listen, and the other one actually does the whole compassion triangle for themselves and for the other person out loud as a way of helping build a bridge of understanding between the two of them.

Stephen Karpman: Well, if it's a work situation, you wouldn't necessarily do it out loud with everyone listening, 'cause the boss could lose face or something like that, but it'd probably be in a closed room where people would cheer. Let's look... Is it okay... Well, first, you get the contact... A contract to talk. "Is it okay if we talk about this?" That avoids a rescue victim situation. The person say, "Yes. It's okay. Let's set aside five minutes to talk." Then you say, "Well, I would like to go through what I feel is going on and what I feel is going on with you, and then you can correct me or tell me what is going on with you." But then you share an awful lot of feelings. You can share your persecutor, rescuer and victim, and what you think is theirs. That fix right there. And then they share their persecutor, rescuer and victims of what they think their motivation is. And then there...

Stephen Karpman: They got their three, and then there are three about you. So there's actually 12 feelings to get shared. I mean, it can be a huge sense of relief when the compassion triangle exercise is done, but first, you gotta get a contract, an agreement that, "Let's go through it," and how much time to be set aside, and maybe even an agreement of what to do if a communication goes wrong.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Well, Stephen Karpman, again, thank you so much for being here with us today. And you've shared so much valuable information, and I'm excited to see what unfolds for our listeners who take this and run with it. So, thanks so much for giving us more of a perspective on how to apply the drama triangle, the compassion triangle, and all these other great ways of building trust and intimacy.

Stephen Karpman: Great. Thanks, Neil, and to all your listeners for listening, and we'll talk more later.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Thank you.

Stephen Karpman: Again, thank you.

Nov 8, 2019

How do you communicate about your feelings in the most effective way possible? While we're at it, how do you even *feel* your feelings so that they can move through you - instead of getting stuck or repressed? And, as you learn how to communicate about your feelings - what does the way that people respond to you tell you about them? In this week's episode, you'll discover some easy ways to touch into your deepest feelings, and to communicate about them in ways that can help connect you to the people in your life. And you'll learn how communicating about your own emotions can help you discern important information about others.

In this episode, I also refer to two earlier episodes:

198 - Healing Your Earliest Attachment Wounds - with Peter Levine

and 

196 - Harnessing the Transforming Power of Your Core Emotions - the Change Triangle - with Hilary Jacobs Hendel

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

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FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

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Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Oct 26, 2019

How do you know if you, or someone you love, is addicted to sex, or porn? What can you do about it? And along with healing patterns of addiction, what is most helpful for the partners of people with addiction? Our guest today is Paula Hall, one of the world’s leading experts on treating sex and porn addiction, and the author of “"Understanding and Treating Sex and Pornography Addiction” - along with many other books on the topic for addicts, partners, and the therapists who are helping them. Although the idea that people can be addicted to sex or porn is still controversial - we’re going to tackle this topic head-on, so you can identify ways that you might be impacted. And, as always, you’ll learn powerful strategies for how to overcome addiction and get back on track to a healthy sex life.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Away has created durable suitcases for the savvy traveler, with key features that help you easily get your stuff from place to place. With a limited lifetime warranty, and a 100-day trial period, it’s easy for you to experience an Away suitcase “in the field”. Away is offering $20 off any suitcase if you visit awaytravel.com/relationship and use the promo code “RELATIONSHIP” at checkout.

Beautiful jewelry, exquisite craftsmanship, sustainable sources, and affordable prices. Get $75 OFF your purchase at hellonoemie.com when you use the coupon code "ALIVE". With free overnight shipping and free returns, you can see something online today, and try it on tomorrow risk free.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Visit Paula Hall’s website for more information about her work, her books, and her public speaking.

Check out the Laurel Centre’s offerings for help with Sex and Porn addiction.

Read the Paula Hall books that are right for you.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Your Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Visit www.neilsattin.com/addiction to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Paula Hall.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host Neil Sattin. 

Neil Sattin: We're going to revisit a topic today that we've talked about before on the show and we're going to take an even deeper dive into the question of addiction. Especially as it pertains to sex addiction, porn addiction, love addiction. How do I identify if that's something that's impacting you or someone that you love? And if the answer is yes, what can you do about it? Is there hope? How do you facilitate change in a way that actually leads you to someplace that's healthier, and not being impacted by addiction? To talk about the topic today, we have with us Paula Hall, who is a licensed psychotherapist from the U.K. and whose book, "Understanding and Treating Sex and Pornography Addiction," is a masterful work on understanding exactly where sex addiction comes from and what you can do to treat it. And her words are based on years of practice with clients and seeing what works and what doesn't. Paula is the founder of the Laurel Center which offers treatment programs in the UK for people and they also offer sessions in the UK and over Skype and Zoom for people everywhere in the world. So it's powerful work that they're doing. She's written a couple of other books. Well actually many other books, but a couple others that are notable in terms of sex addiction recovery one for the partners and one for the couple as a whole, and we'll probably get a chance to talk about that as we go. In the meantime, there will be a detailed transcript of today's episode, if you are interested in downloading that just visit Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-addiction. And as always you can text the word "Passion," to the number 3-3-4-4-4, and follow the instructions which will also get you the transcript to today's episode. I think that's it for now. Paula Hall thank you so much for joining us today on relationship alive. 

Paula Hall: Hi! Thanks for inviting me. 

Neil Sattin: It's really great to have you here. I'm curious to know maybe for starters, what just led you to focusing your work on sex addiction and and porn addiction? How did how did you end up there?

Paula Hall: Oh gosh I thought you might start with an easy question, Neil. I guess so I've been a therapist for gosh nearly 30 years, now initially I started in drug addiction, did that about three years and then I trained as a couples' psychotherapist and sex therapist. And it was probably about 15 years ago now I was working in private practice and I had seen a couple of clients, a couple of male clients, coming on their own. Both of them very happily married, young families, devoted fathers but they had these habits. One of them, it was visiting massage parlors. The other one was picking up women in bars basically. And what I noticed was that, being a psychotherapist for some years, I was able to kind of work with these guys to understand why they were doing what they were doing, and in a typical psychotherapy style: How was your relationship with your mother? And you know all of that kind of stuff exploring that. And we were able to kind of find those answers but unfortunately both of those guys, towards the end of the case. they understood why they did it and carried on doing it. I didn't seem to have any tools to help them stop. And then basically what happened was I went to a conference and one of the speakers that a guy called Thaddeus Birchard, also someone in the UK, did a talk on sex addiction. He is one of the very much one of the pioneers out here in the UK. And he talked about a cycle of addiction and having come from drug addiction, all the pennies just dropped into place. I just started seeing how what I had been sitting with those two guys was just like the work that I was doing with drug addiction. But this was around sexual behaviors, and for some reason that penny hadn't dropped before. So yeah, that I guess, failing my clients is what drove me to be so passionate about understanding this problem more, learning more and really developing tools and models and services that could help. 

Neil Sattin: And can you talk a little bit about your perspective? Cuz I know you also do couples work and you've done sex therapy with clients. I think in the UK, they call it psychosexual therapy.

Paula Hall: Yeah yeah. 

Neil Sattin: So I'm curious where does sex positivity intersect with this question about whether or not we can be addicted to sex?

Paula Hall: I think it's a completely different thing. In terms of being a therapist and being sex positive, I think it's a bit like you know being food negative if you work with people who chronically overeat. Of course, I think sex is brilliant. It's great. The problem is addiction robs people of their sexuality. I've never met a happy sex addict. Now you could argue that perhaps they're out there but they're not seeking help. So perhaps I'm the wrong person to know that. But my experience has been that addiction and compulsion robs people of their positive sexuality. It takes away their ability to choose the lifestyle they want to lead. It becomes a place where they feel shame, where they feel dissatisfied, where they feel insatiable or where it feels seedy, it feels stolen. It's no longer a pleasure. And I think treating sex addiction is about helping people get their sex lives back. When I run the group so we do a lot of group work over here with guys, and the guys often think I'm kind of joking when I quite often start off by saying, "I'm going to make sure that your sex lives are better than they have ever been, ever." And they kind of look at me curiously and think that's an odd thing to say, but actually I think that is one of the goals of treating sex and porn addiction is helping people have brilliant sex lives and really enjoying sex again, in whatever shape or form that makes. Whether that's within a monogamous relationship, a heterosexual relationship, whether in kink or whatever your taste is, I think that's irrelevant. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Great. And that seems to touch in to the question about how someone would know whether what they're experiencing is addiction or not. So can we can we steer a little bit towards assessment, and how that how that works. 

Paula Hall: Yeah, I think it does lead to that very much so. I think a really critical question is do you enjoy what you're doing? Are you still enjoying it or is it never enough? You always gotta go for the next hit? Are you noticing that your behavior is escalating, that you're preoccupied by it? I think a good sexual experience should leave you with a smile on your face, a sense of wholeness and fullness, and you feel satiated, a bit like a good meal. You're not worried about where the next one's coming from, you're not anxious about it. You're not worried that someone's going to find out. So, if it's a positive experience that you've really enjoyed and then you're probably not acting out compulsively. But if you're preoccupied with it. If it's never enough it is nowhere near as much fun as you thought it was going to be. Then perhaps this has become a compulsive. I think ultimately escalation is the, is the real critical sign of compulsivity, it's when it's escalating. 

Neil Sattin: And so just to really be specific about escalation, what are some different forms that that could take?

Paula Hall: So, that might be spending more and more time on the activity or planning for the activity or recovering from the activity or needing higher and higher stimulus. So, that might be more hard core porn or taking more risks with sort of cruising or whatever, in order to get the same kind of impact.  I think most of us understand escalation if we think about it around alcohol, escalation might be the wrath of the one glass of wine and it's become a bottle. So it's more and more of it or rather than the glass of wine, it's now become a glass of whiskey, you need something that's stronger and harder to get the same impact. 

Neil Sattin: Got it and then there's also, right, the potential for certain kinds of activity to lead to other kinds of activity. So you might start out in an online realm and end up chatting with people, end up on dating sites or visiting escorts, and like there's that kind of escalation as well. 

Paula Hall: Absolutely escalation into... Yeah, I mean there's other forms of kind of higher stimulation but they may be ones that are you know going to cause you more and more harmful consequences. If you're beginning to cross your own boundaries. Things that you always said you wouldn't do. Promised you wouldn't do. Never thought you'd even want to do, perhaps. Then again, that's showing that that escalation is is really pushing into your own value system. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And, is there a point in making a distinction between like, it's an addiction that's pushing your past your values or it's an inability to live according to your values, that's keeping you from sticking with your values? Do you know what I mean? 

Paula Hall: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No. Good point. Yeah. Okay, so I think this is where shame comes in. And shame unfortunately comes up a heck of a lot in this work. If you keep crossing your moral values and actually, Hey you aren't really that bothered about it, you probably won't feel any shame. Also, the experience of shame demonstrates that you actually have strong values. If he didn't have strong values you wouldn't experience it, you just wouldn't care. So, if you know your going against your value system and you feel really bad about it but nonetheless you are unable to stop, then it's likely to be addiction. If you're crashing your value system but you don't really care, you may still be an addict, but you've also got a problem with your moral compass. So you know, classically you have kind of sometimes I have a first session with a guy and he'll go," You know, I just, am I an addict? I dunno if I'm an addict, or whether I'm just a bit of a womanizer and I just want my cake and eat it. Maybe that's what it is." And I often say, "Well you know what. You can be an addict AND a womanizer, who wants a cake and eat it. They're not mutually exclusive. You can be both or one or the other." But escalation is the side where it really is addiction, I would say. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah so just a quick point of clarification. You've mentioned working with guys a lot. How gendered is this problem?

Paula Hall: So, most of the research seems to say, in the research certainly I did for my first book as well on this, suggested that about 30 percent of the people with sex and porn addiction were women. And certainly, if you sort of look at some of the forums, some of the kind of free spaces if you like, you'll see more and more women's voices coming up talking about their problem. But they don't seem to come forward for help and this seems to be something that's international, I've got colleagues delivering programs in other parts of the world as well and obviously there's there's a lot of therapists working in the States. And though, women don't seem to come forward for help as often. And you know, I'm quite curious about that some of that to do with economics, is that to do with different different types of shame that are around for female sex and love addicts? Is it because there aren't enough services offered on a few occasions. We have tried to offer very, very specific female services but still had very little take up. So I think... 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, that is interesting because there are so many other realms where I think the women lead in terms of you know, couples therapy or even like personal growth work. There seem to be a lot more women on average in terms of like the demographics of people who are writing me and listening to my show just as one sample group, predominantly women. So it's interesting that that that that would be the case that they'd be less inclined to seek help for sex and porn addiction. 

Paula Hall: Yeah, and my hypothesis would be, well, two. One, is I suspect an awful lot of those women who are addicted or using sex compulsively may actually be working within the sex trade. So for them finding help is also going to get in the way of their income stream. But, I think we do still live in a society where the message is about how, dare I use the old fashioned word "promiscuity." Male promiscuity still viewed quite differently to female promiscuity. So you know a man that is sleeping around, has multiple partners, is a bit of a lad, is a bit of a cad, is you know a bit of a womanizer, a bit of a player. The words we use for women are still tend to be "slut," or so much more derogatory. So I do think it's harder for women to come forward. I think there's, I don't know if it's more shame, but a different kind of shame for women coming forward for help. And as I said, I think it's a Catch-22, because in the media, in situations such as this, I find myself talking predominantly about men because that's who we generally work with. Most of my services are targeted at men because they're the people that come. I think that means a lot of women begin to feel increasingly invisible. So I really hope it will change. And yeah, we are going to launch an online group for women because then at least we don't have to worry so much about the geography. So is anybody listening out there who would define themselves as a female sex addict do get in touch because you could join one of our online support groups. And I hope that might begin to get something going and then as we're talking about it, more and more women come forward, and it will make it easier for more women to come forward and get into that positive spiral. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah yeah. Great. One thing that I'm curious about is, so we've talked about some of the kinds of behaviors that might fall into this category and in researching for our conversation and also resulting from my conversation with Alex Katehakis before, I've talked to a lot of people about masturbation. More than I've ever talked to people about masturbation before which is in itself been interesting because I think there's so much shame that we hold around self pleasuring. And there's this question about how masturbation can potentially be addictive or can be used as a coping strategy for dealing with emotionally challenging situations or emotionally challenging places in one's life. And so I'm curious about like if someone first, is using masturbation as a way to kind of cope with stress and hardship. I've talked to some people who've said, "Well isn't that normal like, like, that's a mechanism that we have in our bodies to do that." But then if you suggest to someone, "Well how about not doing that?" They would say, "Well why would I not," or, "I could never stop doing that." And then it starts to bridge that question until like, "Well is it an addiction for you to be to be masturbating as a way to cope or is it not?" So there's this gray area here that I'd love to have your insight on because I think a lot of people when I talk to them about it they're like well, "Wow if like that means I'm an addict then I got to think like you know 90 percent of guys out there are sex addicts using masturbation as a way of dealing with their lives and fantasizing and things like that." And overall, I want just people to be pulled toward feeling like whatever they're doing is healthy for them and positive. Can you shine some light on that?

Paula Hall: Yeah. So first and foremost I absolutely do not think there is anything wrong with using sex, whether it's partnered sex or masturbation for comfort. I think couples have kissed and made up as we euphemistically call it, for years, centuries people have masturbated to help them get to sleep at nights, masturbating to help them get out to work in the morning, masturbating because they're bored, masturbating because they're sad. That in itself I don't think is a problem at all. It's when he becomes a primary coping mechanism. It's when, if for some reason you couldn't then actually you start feeling worse and worse and worse. And again is when it's escalating. So I think if somebody uses masturbation as a way to get to sleep every night. And if it takes 10 minutes whatever is never escalated it's never got worse than that, it's not getting in the way of their relationship. So let's assume they're single or whatever. It's a habit. There's no harmful consequences, I think the problem is you say, we're trying stop. Well why? Why do that? I you know I watch television quite often to switch off. "Dunno. Well maybe you're addicted, maybe you should stop." Or maybe I just don't have the motivation to try and stop because I don't see why it's a problem? 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

Paula Hall: I think that's where we start getting into the realms of pathologizing sexuality. For me you know masturbation, it's a physical comfort. Why is that any worse than having a soak in the bath or putting your feet in a foot spa? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Great. So I think that maybe the question is where it bumps up against your values. And that question of escalation. 

Paula Hall: I think in terms of addiction it's about escalation. If there's been no escalation then... I realize I'm being quite categoric and there's bound to be some exceptions. But, on the whole if there's been no escalation I'd say there was no addiction in just because it bumps up against your values. That doesn't make it an addiction. I've had a number of clients come and want to work with me. They've been a people of faith where masturbation for them is a sin, it's something they're not comfortable with but they keep doing it. And they will use the language of addiction. And if there's no escalation and the only problem is that it's against their values, then it's not addiction. Now that doesn't mean that you might not work with that person, you might not help them to find other things to do. So let's say my feet somehow became allergic to my foot spa, so I couldn't use it anymore. Let's find some other ways of getting some physical comfort that aren't going to cause a problem in other areas of my life. But let's not call it an addiction because it's just not accurate. 

Neil Sattin: Great. That's a helpful distinction to have. 

Paula Hall: And I think it's also important to recognize that as I'm sure you know CSBD, Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder has been accepted by the World Health Organization to go into ICD-11. So it will be, we're not calling it addiction yet, it's going to be called compulsive sexual behavior disorder, which will include pornography. This will be an official diagnosis that can be used but that's coming online quite soon. But very, very clearly in the diagnostic criteria is that it can not be purely a problem caused by morality. It has to be causing problems outside of that. I mean another sort of way I often describe this is if alcohol was against your moral values. So for some people of faith of course drinking alcohol is not OK just because you have a small glass of wine every single evening to get to sleep would not make you an alcoholic, if it's never ever escalated. That would not make you an alcoholic. Even though it's against your values. And you need to stop drinking if it's against your values, and something else. So I'm not saying you shouldn't change but you wouldn't call that person an alcoholic. 

Neil Sattin: Really helpful distinctions. And where this I think also gets interesting is because it plays into the partner dynamic. And that question of like well of course I don't have a problem with you masturbating but what are you thinking about and or you're looking at porn like that doesn't seem like it is you know aligns with my values or that sort of thing. So how does that when you look at addiction and that sense of like is what you're doing is causing a problem for you in your life. How do you how do you separate that from those other kinds of conversations that people need to be having with their partners anyway about what's appropriate what is and how to handle it when they actually have differences. 

Paula Hall: Yeah absolutely. And of course for up for some couples pornography is just not okay, it's not okay for a partner. And if your partner is looking at pornography something that you are morally opposed to then that is going to create an issue within your relationship. And I would say that's an issue for couples' counseling. So assuming it's not escalating there's nothing to define it as an addiction. This is a couple counseling issue to decide what to do about this. And I think if you're somebody who is just can't stop looking at pornography in spite of how your partner feels about it, then maybe you either need to look at your feelings towards your partner and how much you respect them and their views or you need to look at whether or not this is a compulsion. I think in terms of fantasy, I mean that again is a really interesting one it is perfectly possible to masturbate and not to use fantasy. And of course some partners don't have an issue with fantasy, some partners will thoroughly enjoy sharing their fantasies with each others. Some people use fantasy but it's always a fantasy of their partner so their partner doesn't object. Again and as a sex therapist and I have been a sex therapist for what 18 years now. Talking about fantasies is something that commonly comes up when you're working with couples with sexual difficulties and want to enhance their sex life and every couple is different. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. You said something... 

Paula Hall: Did I answer your question? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah you did. And they're like so many things flying around in so many different directions we could go. I think to ground us, I'm curious like as a partner what are some ways that you might sense that there's something going on that would need to be addressed as an addiction. 

Paula Hall: Yeah that that is a tricky one isn't it? I think it's uh... changes in behavior. So someone who might be becoming more and more withdrawn from the relationship. Someone who's becoming more and more secretive. Somebody who's finding more and more excuses or reasons to not engage in activities that they previously would have seen as important. So if they've never wanted to go to the parents evening and are making excuses now then it's probably not relevant. But if they you know, if this is a new thing, if they seem to be finding excuses to get out of responsibilities that they would have enjoyed otherwise, then I think you might question that. Struggling with stress more. I think if you've... It's tricky partners often when they reflect back recognize that there have been changes. It's only in hindsight that they realized why. But there are of course 101 other explanations for why somebody might be withdrawing behaving secretively,  maybe there are issues within the relationship that need addressing that've got nothing to do with sex or porn addiction. Or it may be something else altogether. But yeah I think withdrawing from the relationship, becoming more secretive and changes in character. Behavior. That's really vague, isn't it? It's tough, it's really tough for partners. 

Neil Sattin: It's a little vague. And I mean what comes up for me is the sense that if you are sensing something is going on then you want to do your best I think to lean in and to have vulnerable conversations. 

Paula Hall: Absolutely yeah. 

Neil Sattin: And so that brings up this question of like how can people in partnership particularly, how can they create a context that allows them to talk about this safely? Especially because in partnership so many of the things that happen are are a violation of the integrity of the relationship. So as a partner, I think you ideally you want to, if something's going on with your spouse or your partner, you want to know what's going on. But then once you find out what's going on, and that of course I think is what often keeps these things in the shadows right. Is that someone might be willing to talk about their struggle except knowing the impact that that could have on their on their partner and on their relationship. 

Paula Hall: Yeah it is. It is very difficult. I think sometimes as a partner, if you do have a sense that there may be something around this that they don't want to talk to you about, can they talk to somebody else? And that might be the bridge to them talking to you. So, I wouldn't say that that is a lot of alternative of course but that might be the bridge to them being able to talk to you. But it is really difficult and you know I've worked with partners who have you know, tried to say and did that with all integrity and commitment, "I will support you. If this is about this and let me know. Tell me. There's nothing we can't work through." And then they find out something and they are absolutely devastated and the guy feels cheated because he trusted that she wasn't going to react like that, she had no idea what he was going to say when she said that. It's really difficult. It really is. It really is difficult of course that's what couple counseling often comes in,  so it may be that you are noticing there are issues within your relationship, there's issues within your sexual relationship. Also your emotional intimacy and you agree to some couple counseling for that and maybe within that environment it comes out. I mean certainly one of the things we're a training organization as well, and one of the things I say whenever I'm speaking to or training couple counselors, is always ask about poor news, always do individual history sessions and always ask about porn use and compulsive behaviors. Because so often what increasingly, that is at play if not the cause of, that is at least a contributing factor to so many issues for so many couples. 

Neil Sattin: What advice do you have for a partner who's in that quandary of feeling, on the one hand the impact of the betrayal, so that betrayal trauma, and somewhere in there saying, "Well I love this person and I do want to help them but I'm I'm really angry or feeling devastated," or all of those things. 

Paula Hall: I think firstly be gentle with yourself and give yourself time. It is perfectly okay to be angry. It is understandable to be angry. It is okay to have those feelings, find somebody that you can share those feelings with. Ultimately, if you want your relationship to survive then you need to be at both of you need to get to the place where you're blaming the addiction rather than your partner and you're able to rebuild your relationship from what the addiction has done to you, rather than what your partner has done to you. But that takes time. And initially when there is so much pain around it, and fear, and of course you can't break through that fear unless your partner really is getting into recovery and able to support you in your recovery. But yeah it takes time so often it is just be just be gentle with yourself. 

Neil Sattin: I know in your in your book you advocate not making any drastic decisions for a period of time so that you have time to kind of think it all through and regain your footing. 

Paula Hall: Yeah, especially if you've got children. I mean there's you know, there's some decisions that are very hard to take back. I think if you've got children then wait... What I often say to partners is: "Don't let what he has done, his complete and total screw up, force you to make decisions that you're not ready to make, or force you to make decisions that you and your children potentially will have to live with forever." His crisis does not have to create urgency for you. It doesn't have to and that's tough to hold on to that. It's true.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And do you have thoughts for someone who's now listening to this and thinking well maybe I do struggle with that or maybe that is an issue for me. How can they come forward in a way that has the best chance of panning out well for them. 

Paula Hall:  I think for partners, I believe in connecting with others in all kinds of work. I think recovering on your own is incredibly difficult. Whether you'll be on the addicted partner or the partner. So certainly for partners I'd encourage them to find other partners but do find other partners who, trying think how to say this respectfully, who want to move on from this. Occasionally, I have stumbled across some partner forums or partners who've been on certain partner forums where everything's about staying in the same places, it's a year on, two years on, three years on, five years on, and they still feel completely trapped and burdened by this situation. And I think that is so disheartening and discouraging for other partners. You're not trapped. There may be some very very difficult decisions to make and they're decisions that have been forced on you. But you're not trapped, you do have choices about where you move forward so find support from other people who are trying to find ways of moving forward. Whether, that's together or apart. 

Neil Sattin: Great, great. And I think where I was heading was also, you know, we've been talking a little bit about if you suspect something's going on for your partner what can you do and how do you handle the betrayal and all that. If you are potentially the addicted partner, what are some ways to step forward that help you handle the betrayal trauma that your partner is experiencing, or own what's happening for you? That sort of thing. 

Paula Hall: Well, you hit the nail on the head there, Neil. Own what's happening. Own the fact that you did cause this and I think that's really, really difficult. I think we've just run one of a couple of weeks ago, a couples' intensive, as the first time we've run the couples program since the book came out for couples and it was so powerful, it was incredibly powerful. And I think the absolute number one tool for helping couples move forward is for the addicted partner to express empathy. As soon as the addicted partner gets into defensiveness, gets into: "Yeah but... " It just all falls apart. Relentless empathy.  I think for the partner, if you try and think about it like this, if your partner doesn't believe that you know how it feels and what you've done. How on earth can they trust you won't do it again? And you have got whether it's something was an accident, whether it's deliberate, whatever it was you have got to demonstrate relentless empathy and drop the defensiveness, of course you can't live in a place of constant accusations, two years, three years, five years on. But if you're in the first 12 months post full disclosure and this is assuming that has been the disclosure that's required, and you are fully in recovery. You have got to just keep taking it on the chin and relentless empathy. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. And I like how we're bridging and it's starting to get towards recovery and repair. When you talk about the disclosure just so that everyone understands what you're talking about, what are you talking about?

Paula Hall: So, we talk about therapeutic disclosure. We recommend therapeutic disclosure. Unfortunately, there are few partners who know absolutely everything. That's not necessarily because they haven't been told, it may be that actually much of what was told was late at night. It was in the height of emotion, a lot of it may have been forgotten. What I've experienced so often as a couple counselor is that if you don't do a therapeutic disclosure then some additional bit of information that either gets discovered, disclosed or remembered, sabotages the healing process. So a therapeutic disclosure is about getting the facts out on the table. And it's important to distinguish between a therapeutic disclosure and a forensic disclosure. This is not every single nitty gritty of sexual position and cup size and place and whatever, that's forensic and completely unhelpful. But a broad brush understanding of the chronology, the dates, the times, the where's, the when's, the what kind of things, the behaviors, are really important.  And really, and in that's between the therapist and the partner to kind of negotiate what's going to be genuinely helpful. Then when you have got that information when you both know what it is you're dealing with, in the couples book I use the metaphor of more of a tidal wave crashing over your relationship. And it's kind of really understanding what that tidal wave is saying, so you know what the damage is so you know what you're repairing from. And I think until that happens you keep getting the aftershocks. So a therapeutic disclosure is a way of putting the past in the past. Assuming of course, no relapses but putting the past in the past so you really can move on from it. 

Neil Sattin: Right, and I like the support that you suggest for having that kind of disclosure where you know they're supported by a couples' therapist, and also each by their own therapists, so that there are a lot of people holding the container around the information coming out. 

Paula Hall: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know for some people that there are extra bits of information or things that are remembered or I mean an example it was... In some respects, looking back on it it's almost quite comical. But my goodness it wasn't at the time. I had a couple where the partner knew the addicted partner often acted out. And he said he often acted out, and I just happened to ask the question, "How often is often?" And her interpretation of "often" was... Let's see I can't remember exactly now, but say once a month. Whereas his definition of "often" was twice a week. They both thought the other one knew what "often" meant, this what really was a genuine miscommunication but it caused such devastation and going almost back to square one for that poor partner, again. So again, this is how a therapeutic disclosure really helps people be sure that they have got the story as it were, the narrative, and doing it in a safe way or safe a way as possible. Unfortunately we can't guarantee it's pain free. But having some way to move forward from that as well, a process of moving forward. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah and let's let's veer our conversation towards recovery. And what you see as required. I know that you came up with your choices... Is it choice, or choices? 

Paula Hall: Choice. 

Neil Sattin: Choice model. And that was a little bit of a departure from there's a model created by Patrick Carnes here in the States, and you did some training with him and then decided there was something more that needed to be there. So how is your model different? And then let's let's dive in, because I want to make sure that everyone listening to this conversation feels like there actually is a pathway forward. 

Paula Hall: Absolutely. Absolutely there is. And I think that the whole the whole field of sex and politician recovery has grown so much and indeed chemical addiction recovery and the training initially I was doing with Patrick Carnes was oh gosh I think the first course was over 10 years ago that I did and some of his early writings of course a pre internet. Some of those stats still get quoted from a book that was written before the Internet and then clearly the profile of sex and politics has changed considerably. So yeah, I know their training is evolved and their models would have evolved, as well since I did the training. But I think what really changed for me, is understanding how getting into recovery from addiction is about so much more than stopping. There's one of the kinds of sayings of recovery is that recovery is about what you take up not about what you give up. And I think the initial models that I were trained in were all about focusing on stopping your behaviors. And if you stop your behaviors you'll get better, your depression will lift, your anxiety will lift, your relationship...you will live happily ever after. And actually I think it's a lot more complicated than that. I think life is a lot more complicated than that. So for me most addictive behaviors or a lot of them are symptoms of other issues that are going on in life. So you absolutely need to be sure you've identified those, recognize those, and are dealing with those. But even from a simply, from a biological perspective, if you just try and stop your porn use, and you don't replace it with healthy alternative activities that give your life a sense of meaning and purpose, then you just end up with a void. You end up with an emptiness and nothingness. And I work with so many young guys now where the huge chunks of their time is spent on porn, they've never had a partnered relationship and they really need to find a new way of living their life, living unaddicted love. So the "choice model" really is the C, the first is an acrostic, the first C, is all about challenging any unhelpful beliefs, so those beliefs: "I can't change. It's just who I am. I've just got a high sex drive. I'm just a weirdo." The H is about having a vision. And again I think this is something that has really changed for me, understanding how much easier it is to drive people towards something than away from something. Let's focus on what you will gain not what you will lose. The "have a vision." The O is about overcoming the behaviors, now I used to think that was the whole treatment program and now I recognize that's just one part of it. The I is about identifying positive sexuality, as I was saying, right at the beginning of this podcast for me, it really is about reclaiming sexuality from the addiction. The second C is about connecting with other people. And one of the real joys of group work and whether that's within a therapeutic group, a peer support group, a 12 step group, whatever it is, I think is building those relationships with other people breaking through the shame and secrecy and I think you as humans we were created to connect. I think that's so important. And the final E is about establishing confident recovery, that really is building your life well with meaningful other relationships and hobbies and pastimes and career and personal growth and all that other stuff. So I think in my kind of recovery model has become increasingly integrative and has been about changing your life, rather than just changing your addiction. 

Neil Sattin: Great. Yeah. 

Paula Hall: That was a lecture wasn't it? 

Neil Sattin: No. It was perfect. You went right through the entire choice model and of course each of those, you know, we could talk for you know five or ten minutes on and we don't have time to do that. Sadly. I will say that each of your books, they're fairly concise and direct and that's really helpful I think you can dive into understanding and treating sex and pornography addiction and come away with some very practical strategies as well as a comprehensive understanding of what you're dealing with. 

Paula Hall: Yeah, very much written as a self-help book as well as a research book. So yeah. 

Neil Sattin: Great. Could we talk for a moment about the cycle of addiction that you've identified and particularly, how that can be a way for people to kind of understand themselves and where they are in that cycle and end and how to make different choices depending on where they are in the cycle? 

Paula Hall: Yeah, so. Six stages on the cycle of addiction. So dormant phase is where you're not acting out. And some people will might go weeks, months, without acting out. Critically dormant is not the same as recovered. Yeah. A period of abstinence is not the same as recovery. And often what's hiding in that dormant phase are all sorts of unresolved issues that you've not dealt with. You're still lonely you're still isolated you still hate your job you still feel you're trapped in the wrong marriage or feel bad about your sexuality whatever it is. Then, there are triggers whatever those triggers might be, that kind of push you out of that dormant phase and often they're either environmental, and I think we often underestimate just the impact of having the opportunity to act out when it's on the plate and we now really understand some of the neuroscience about why that is so hard to resist, it's not purely psychological. But of course there might be emotional triggers as well so you having  an argument, feeling particularly isolated, rejected, whatever it might be. Then there's often a period of a series of triggers and you thinking should I shouldn't I and all those cognitive distortions. "Yes. But, everybody looks at porn. But does it really matter? It'll only be for five minutes." All the lies we tell ourselves for why it will be okay for us to do it, and we all do this. I have fun when I'm doing public speaking, I'll often ask for a show of hands of anybody who's never broken the speed limit in their car. And of course there's always one person and I say do you drive a car and they all say no, and put their hand. I've never yet met anybody who drives the car who's not broken the speed limit and we all believe that speed limits are right and good. But we make excuses for why on some occasions it's okay. I was late. The driving conditions were perfect. I wasn't going fast as that person. I'm a very good driver. We all have our reasons why we break our own rules, so it's no different for addicts. Then of course there's the actual acting out behavior whatever that might be. Really it doesn't matter whether your thing is a porn or cam sex or sex workers or cruising or whatever it is. It's the way that behavior makes you feel that you are addicted to, not actually what it is.  Period of regret. I think the sort of big difference between my cycle of addiction and Patrick Carnes' cycle that he refers to, is he talks about despair and for an awful lot of people I've worked with, there isn't despair and shame. If you're single and you've been looking at porn yet again, for another night for five hours, and you're not going to get to sleep 'til 1:00 in the morning, you regret it because you're going to be tired and you feel a bit of an idiot. But despair? No. Often despair isn't experienced until much, much later in the evolution of the addiction. But then often there's a period of time in the reconstitution phase of trying to put everything back together again: "Right. That's it. I'm gonna put those blockers back on. I'm going to make more of an effort. You know, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that, I'm going make sure I don't do that." But, what you're doing then is just going back into dormant because you still haven't managed and dealt with those issues that get triggered and set you off going around again. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. One thing that I thought was really interesting you talk about that the preparation phase, like getting ready, that that often is actually what is bringing relief to people. 

Paula Hall: Yeah. It's not a perfect model, no models are. It's it's really tricky to identify when something is acting out, because I think often in the seeking and searching phase particularly for example people who visit sex workers, they may spend days and days and days looking at the website, reading the reviews, chatting for a few different people. Really, that is all the acting out. I'm not sure that is the preparation phase that I think the preparation phase and the acting out phase kind of blur. Because often by the time they get to acting out, that's just trying to get the damn thing I've done. It's the window shopping as it were, that really has been the addiction, rather than buying, the being at the till and paying for the item. 

Neil Sattin: That's so interesting right because the dopamine is fueled by the seeking, right?

Paula Hall: Exactly. Exactly. 

Neil Sattin:  Yeah. That's where that addictive biologic cycle happens. 

Paula Hall: Yeah. I think that's where people sometimes, and I think that with assessment, that's why the questions are so important. If you just say to somebody how often do you act out? They might say, "Oh I visit a sex work once a month." And it's never escalated it seems, it's been once a month for the last two years. If you ask how much time do you spend online seeking sex workers, looking at sex worker reviews, sending text to sex workers, exchanging messages and pictures with sex workers. You might get quite a different answer and that might be the piece that is escalating significantly. 

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. I just want to highlight that you mentioned that along with obviously treating people who have or are struggling with sex addiction and also treating couples and working with partners, that you also train therapists to work with people who are struggling with sex addiction and are impacted by it. So how does that work. Do people come to the UK to train with you or is it online?

Paula Hall: Yeah. No. We haven't done anything online yet. Yet. Everything's evolving isn't it. So, we do obviously just kind of you know single day training events and I've done quite a lot in house stuff, as well. So I've been to a few rehabs and done kind of dedicated four-day training programs to really upskill addiction stuff, particularly in sex and sexuality, and working with sex addiction. So I've done that in quite a few places. And we can kind of tailor make those programs, but we also have an accredited diploma. So it's an independently accredited diploma, so one of the professional awarding bodies in the UK has apprenticeships accredited it. And that's a level five diploma and that's three modules of four days. And really what we're teaching therapists is an integrative model. So this is what's also very different from Patrick Carnes model, if you do the Patrick Carnes model, then you're being trained to deliver the 30 task approach. Whereas what we're doing is training you in sex and porn addiction and some of the models we use, but how you then interpret that, there's no set program it's not a manualized system that you're being taught, it's much more about people. For people who kind of work more relationally with clients whether that's in developing programs or one to one to kind of tailor it to the places where they work and their own personal modalities as well. 

Neil Sattin: Got it. Well, we only have about a minute left and so if you are interested in Paula Hall and her work I encourage you to visit the Laurel Center website, Paula's website to get one of her many great books on the topic. So whether you're a therapist or someone who's impacted, I heartily recommend her work. We will have those links in the show notes for today's episode which you can pick up if you go to Neil-sattin-dot-com slash addiction or text the word "Passion," to the number 3-3-4-4-4 and follow the instructions. Paula, I'm wondering if you have a minute for one last question. 

Paula Hall: OK. 

Neil Sattin: And that is, we've talked a little bit about not just stopping things and putting new healthy behaviors in. And there are some great suggestions around that in your book I'm wondering if you can just talk for a minute. Obviously, this is way too short but about the healing aspect of how someone goes about healing the underlying issues that lead to being an addict and acting out?

Paula Hall: Yeah. So I think that the model that I used, and I talk about in the book, is now often referred to as "OAT model" there has to be opportunity. And of course this has been the big game change over the years, isn't it, is the fact that we can now access pornography and sex through our mobile phone. Absolute anonymity. It's been the absolute game changer. So there has to be the opportunity for some people there's greater opportunity because of their work because of whatever their personal and private situation is, their financial means whatever they have more opportunity than others. And that in itself of course is a temptation because we all are drawn to sex and sexual novelties, it's part of how we've been wired up. But for some people they're more susceptible to that opportunity, those opportunities, than others are and some are more susceptible because they've experienced issues in their childhood and those issues may be around kind of neglectful or absent parenting. So, they may have been brought up with a sense that nobody will really care for their needs. They can't really trust other people. And what tends to happen in those situations is that you turn to, for comfort, you tend to turn to things rather than people. So, if you've got a history where people have let you down, you may decide to look after yourself in terms of things rather than others. And of course porn and sex are effective comforters but then there's trauma as well. So for some people it's the attachment wounds in childhood, for some people it's trauma. So if you've experienced a significant trauma and that might be in childhood it might be as an adult -- we work with a number of people from the armed forces, emergency services, who had significant traumas kind of later in life and we know that trauma actually impacts the brain directly. So this isn't just a psychological issues then, it's become a biological issue. So we know that the way that trauma impacts the brain makes it harder. You need more comfort because you end up hypersensitive to a lot of cues and triggers. But also it's harder to actually access the self soothing chemicals within the brain because of the trauma, so you're more likely to look to external things to soothe that. But I think there's one other thing I would say Neil, that's why I'm so grateful to people like me for doing these kind of podcasts. And one of the great causes for sex and porn addiction, is naivete, is ignorance, is knowing, is the lack of education. And unfortunately so often we get caught up in the moral debates about pornography and sexuality, and of course those debates exist and I'm not trying to say they're not important ones. But I think often we lose the health issues. And I believe very passionately that we need to start educating people particularly our young people about the potential risks of sex addiction and pornography addiction so they could recognize it in themselves. So many people develop these addictions simply because they didn't know they could become addicted. 

Neil Sattin: Well we are undoing the naivete right here. And I so appreciate your time and wisdom today and hopefully we can have you back on it. I know we could easily talk for another hour. And I just want to point out to our listeners that we have had Peter Levine on the show to talk about healing from trauma. We've had David Burns on the show to talk about cognitive distortions. We've had Diana Fosha to talk about AEDP, which is an attachment centered therapy so healing early attachment wounds. So all of this is meant to offer you a big integrated package of healing and hope for you. And Paula thank you so much for being part of that picture with us today. 

Paula Hall: You're very welcome. 

Oct 19, 2019

Are you being true to who you are? What are the ways that you're holding back in your relationship, or compromising yourself? Even if you're single, there might be ways that you're not quite being fully yourself! Not only do you not get to experience life as fully as you could be - the people around you don't get to actually experience3 you in all your glory! Of course, sometimes being "you" is risky - and requires courage and vulnerability. In this week's episode, I'm going to help you diagnose the places where you could be shining a little more brightly - and help you learn how to step back into integrity before your light gets too dim - or the resentment gets too overwhelming!

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Beautiful jewelry, exquisite craftsmanship, sustainable sources, and affordable prices. Get $75 OFF your purchase at hellonoemie.com when you use the coupon code "ALIVE". With free overnight shipping and free returns, you can see something online today, and try it on tomorrow risk free.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

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Oct 9, 2019

Conflict in relationship is often viewed as a bad thing. It’s uncomfortable. It’s tense. It makes us feel bad, and often makes our partners feel bad too. But what if you’re missing out on an opportunity? Like two tectonic plates rubbing against each other, two people butting heads in relationship might be just the moment where something new forms within that relationship. And within you. That’s the view of this week’s guest, Viola Neufeld. She’s a coach, educator, therapist and facilitator, and she works to help those stuck in conflict to work through their difficult conversations to a place of profound inner transformation. Viola is also the author of “Grateful For The Fight: Using inner conflict to transform yourself and your relationships.” Her motto? “Don’t waste your conflict.” And today you’ll get a taste of how you can turn your conflicts into building and rebuilding moments within relationship. 

Sponsors:

Beautiful jewelry, exquisite craftsmanship, sustainable sources, and affordable prices. Get $75 OFF your purchase at hellonoemie.com when you use the coupon code "ALIVE". With free overnight shipping and free returns, you can see something online today, and try it on tomorrow risk free.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Our final sponsor today is Audible. Audible has the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet and now, with Audible Originals, the selection has gotten even better with custom content made for members. As a special offer, Audible wants to give you a free 30-day trial - which includes 1 free audiobook and 2 free Audible originals. Go to Audible.com/relationship or text RELATIONSHIP to 500500 to get started.

Resources:

Visit Vi Neufeld’s website to get her “enhancing relationship vitality” inventory.

Read Vi’s book, Grateful for the Fight.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Your Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Visit www.neilsattin.com/conflict to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jeff Brown.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. We've talked a lot on the show about how to communicate. And we've dipped our toes into the water of how to have conflict in a productive way with your partner. But deep down I don't know about you, but I've always harbored this sense that conflict is best avoided or dealt with as quickly as possible. And yet despite that deep down held belief something in me knew that it wasn't quite right. It wasn't quite serving me. And I've had various attempts to put my finger on the reason why. And then good fortune brought today's guest my way. Her name is Viola Neufeld and she is the author of "Grateful for the Fight: Using Inner Conflict to Transform Yourself and Your Relationships." Her book is truly eye opening, in terms of helping you see how the conflicts that you have in your outer world, the conflicts with your partner, with your family, with your co-workers, or your boss, how all of those conflicts help point to the ways that you can grow within you, and transform your relationships. So it's a very powerful generative way of looking at conflict that almost makes you welcome the chance to have conflict with someone else because you're gonna be holding it in a completely different way. If you are interested in downloading a transcript for today's episode you can visit NeilSattin.com/conflict, because that's what we're gonna be talking about today. Or as always you can text the word "passion" to the number 3-3-4-4-4 and follow the instructions Vi Neufeld. Thank you so much for being here with me today on Relationship Alive. 

Viola Neufeld: I'm so happy to be here and I really love the name of our podcast Relationship Alive, because that's what this whole thing is about. It's about, what do you need to do to keep relationships alive over a very lengthy period of time and I know, you know, you were talking about how our natural tendency is to want to avoid conflict and you know that's just makes all the sense in the world because think about each time you enter conflict. It's like you're on this teeter totter and you don't know which way it's going to go. Is it just going to keep getting worse? Or is there a chance that this time you're going to turn around and do it differently and do it better? But we most of us have such a track record already with things going badly, that we're frightened of starting it again, because we know what the chances are we're realistic about the opponent that we have and our opponent gives us a real run for our money because they're able to find those places within where we question yourself. You know I mean it's funny. We often say to our partner you know, "you're pushing my buttons," as though they shouldn't. But interestingly enough it's when they push our buttons that they take us right to that part of ourselves where we find that really restless part. And of course it makes us feel terrible. We don't want to stay there, because we're uncomfortable there already. And yet if we continue to avoid it then it just remains there in a chronic state for many, many years. And we keep having fights over and over. Just on a little bit of a different stage. But the underlying fight is actually very much the same. 

Neil Sattin: Right. You talk about it basically being this cycle where each of you is poking at the others sore spots and that there's some way that we magically arrive at this dynamic in, in partnership around those perpetual fights where what they point to it hits us in our in our weakest most vulnerable places and then we in the way that we respond to them you call that "your M.O.," it does the exact same thing for them. And so it creates this vicious cycle that just gets worse and worse or never gets any better. 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah, I don't know I was thinking about this yesterday I was thinking about the whole concept of chemistry and you know how we always talk about we, what is love and we have to have this, uh, thing that happens between us. They activate something inside us. And make us come alive. But then what I was really thinking about is like what is the chemistry. The very thing that draws you together. That gravitational pull often has something that also creates conflict between us.  I mean we love somebody because they activate that part of us that somebody else doesn't. And it gets us really, really excited but it also makes us just wild because we don't know what to do and we end up trying to sort through, while we're in the middle of it, this is where it gets really confusing what's your stuff and what's my stuff. But, Neil let me go back to that cycle that you were referring to because how I even came up with that and how I even started looking at things in relation to the book and writing things up was, at one point I had like about twenty 23....nah, it was even more than that. At least 30 different files that I had across my dining room table and I thought what are the similarities here? When do people get into such entanglements with each other that they just can't get out and are there some similarities? What are those similarities where people get stuck and stay stuck for years.  And then that's when I started when I came up with that cycle, and you realized that somebody in terms of what they say or what they do, maybe, they're critical maybe they're passive maybe they're withdrawn, but whatever it is they do, make you go back to the place where you question yourself. "Maybe I'm not enough. Or maybe I'm too controlling. Or maybe I'm too impatient or..." Whatever it is that either they're withdrawing or their attack makes you question yourself and and doubt yourself at very significant levels in terms of who you are as a person. Then when you come out, so you come back out fighting, and whatever it is you do makes the other person now question themselves. And face the part of themselves that they don't want. That unwanted self. And it's looking at how we feed that cycle and keep that cycle going, that I was really intrigued by and wondering how do people get out of that cycle. Because I think that so many of us live with more pain in life than we need to. Like if we could figure this out sooner and face the part of ourselves that causes such discomfort and we'll know, we'll recognize that part because it's always the part that makes us come out fighting. We have to defend ourselves. We have to protect ourselves because we think the other person said something that makes us look like an idiot or that we're unreliable or that we're not a contributor. All the things we don't want to be and that's when we come out fighting. And yet the interesting thing is that really the strange way out of that, is to face the very thing that you don't want to be like for me for a long time. One of the things I had to face was, 'I'm not enough,' and I keep thinking "No, I am enough." Well this is where the power of positive thinking doesn't always work because it can't wipe out truth. And so it's like you almost have to do a back and forth and go, "Where I'm not... Where am I enough and where am I not enough?" Because there are places where I'm not enough and what am I going to do about that. So then the hope lies in kind of finding a bit of a manageable change program. And if I can do more today than I did yesterday or feel better today about myself than I did yesterday, because of what I'm doing differently then that's already growth. I mean it's one of the things I absolutely love about conflict. I never liked to be in the midst of conflict. There's nothing easy about it. But if you can surrender to it and learn what you can then we learn so much more about ourselves. I think that we are all less self-aware than we really think we are. This is a wonderful way of getting to know who you are and who the other person is. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. There's there's so much here that I want to unpack. And I love how rich your book is with like really taking apart each of the dynamics that, that are at work there in conflict and as, um, as I was wrestling with this question of, "OK what is the truth about those sore spots in me?" You know when I look at... You know something I mentioned frequently on the podcast is how I'm maybe not the cleanest person. So what is the truth around when when someone approaches me, or when Chloe my partner approaches me and says like, you know, "This place is a disaster like you have to do something." And for me like the natural tendency being you know all these things that I saw spelled out in your book like I would get defensive or I'd have I just have excuses maybe I wasn't getting defensive, but I'd be like you know I was really busy recording that episode of the podcast and I didn't get that chance to do the dishes like I said I was going to. And then there's that uncomfortable place of recognizing, "OK there is some truth here. And one of the questions that comes up for me is how you arrive at the balance of when it when it's actually healthy for you to look at, let's say a criticism from your partner and to not like focus on the fact that they criticized you and they could have said it better, but just to say like alright, I'm going to take a step back and see what's true here. What's the balance between doing that, in a way that's healthy, and then it becoming its own negative cycle and your relationship where you just get victimized by a partner who isn't doing their part to shift?

Viola Neufeld: Yeah. That's a really good question because you know I think it's almost like the sequence that's the most important. The natural tendency is to go back and start fighting immediately or protecting and defending self. Except that if you continue to do that it gets you nowhere.  Okay. So the first step is always going in and looking at what did they say about me? So that's true. Maybe I, you know I am messy or I am a control freak, or I'm a clean freak, or whatever it is. Whatever they have said about you, the first step, I mean this is a very courageous step right because you have to go inside and you go. How much of that is true. And once you start to look at that then you're no longer fighting or like pushing it away because you've actually brought it close. And I don't ever want to minimize the difficulty of this because the same way as a child balances down on heat and pulls their hand away we do the same thing with emotional responses. When something is uncomfortable we want to balance away but this is what is required is to actually stay there longer and go, "Is this true about me? Yeah you know what sometimes I am this way," or "Sometimes I'm not this way." So you're going back, you have to do a bit of an assessment, all along recognizing that you don't see everything about yourself, the other person is actually telling you something about how you are impacting them. And we're not always aware of our full impact on the other. But then after you've gone in I think that it's important to go up and you from a bird's eye view, you look down, and you go wait a minute what do I know about the way that the two of us interact? What do I know about when my partner is feeling uncomfortable, what do they do? And if they get to a place where they're blaming and I'm now feeling like a victim and this is I recognize this. This is, I easily fall into a victim. My partner usually blames that I go, Wait a minute what I've already looked at what's going on inside of me and what I need to do differently but now I'm also from the bird's eye view from way up top I'm looking down and going: I see this pattern between us and I know that my partner is doing that out of their own discomfort then because you're not being just reactive you are much more equipped to stand up and say, you know what you're going into a blamer, and you're doing the very same thing again, you're wanting to make it look like it's my fault and you're so, so it's a matter then of holding onto yourself and you are not as reactive. So you have a clearer mind and you can see what the pattern is between the two of you and begin to shift your pattern. 

Neil Sattin: Right. I loved in one of the chapters where you were talking about ways to shift the interactions like once you've done the inner work and I want to spend of course a little bit more time on that process of of the inner diagnosis. But you were talking about like once you've done that work and then you face into a conflict with your partner or anyone, really, you might ask a question like, Are you... it seems like you're trying to blame me right now are you, is that true? Are you trying to blame me right now for what's going on? And how asking the question invites them to take a deeper look at what they're doing and they may say they may say, Yes. You know they may be like, "That's exactly what I'm doing because this is your fault." Or they may say, "Well I'm not trying to blame you. I'm trying to just show you the impact of..." And you get further than you would get if you were just like, you know, stop blaming me and you're always blaming me. And then you're off to the races with your typical relationship pattern or conflict pattern. 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah, see, I love that because once you have looked at yourself and you've really seen it, when you go out now, because I think there's three steps you go in, you go up, and then you go out. When you go out you grow up very differently. So, my husband and I, we had this cycle that went on for many, many years and and it would be that I would end up feeling like I was, you know, how did I have to raise another issue? I'm a malcontent. I'm a flake for what I'm saying. And then what I noticed and I would go into a blamer, because I didn't want to be that person but once I got to see that it when I experienced his criticism I, would go to that very same place. It kind of just made me chuckle because I go, "Wait a minute. I'm here at the same place. And yes I realize that sometimes I caused trouble but I also don't want to be the person who sees trouble and doesn't do anything about it." And so then I was equipped to just stand there and go, "No no. We do have an issue with this. But I gotta find a way of doing this and be lovable at the same time." So going inside what it helps you do is, it equips you and you feel more confident to stand on your own. To speak from your truth. And the fight changes because it's not like you're just defending yourself. You're actually talking about what goes on between the two of you and what you'd have to do to change that pattern so that it becomes a healthier pattern. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah let's go up even further for a minute and talk about differentiation, and the reason why conflict is so crucial for true intimacy. 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah. Differentiation. I mean it sounds like a big concept but, but it's so it's what you have to do in conflict all the time, is that... And conflict takes you to a place where you have to be willing to stand on your own and for a little bit. I mean it's almost like you disconnect with that other person, because you're so connected with who you are, what's important to you, and then you also have to hold the other at the same time. So it's being detached and involved. Standing alone and standing together. Lot of people get that part confusing because they think that you know they'll say, many couples will come in and one person will say, "No, I have to leave this marriage because I can't be myself." Well, if you have to leave a marriage to be yourself. That's not differentiation. It's individuation. That's about you being able to hold on to yourself. Differentiation is much more difficult because how do you end up holding on to yourself, and being a full self when you're connected to the other who is different than you, who thinks differently who wants different things. And that can be a big challenge. But ultimately I think it's only when we bring our full selves to the marriage, and freely being who we are even when the other person doesn't get who we are, that's the best chance that we've got of having real intimacy and vitality. I think way too many people give up intimacy because intimacy is hard. Intimacy means that you have to be able to state what do you want. What's important to you. What you value even when you think that the other person doesn't get it. So one of the ways that I've described it over the years is that I think one of the hazards of a long term relationship is a, is a shrinking pie. And initially you came together and the two of you were you flowed freely and you were all you brought all of which you were what you are. And so when you bring the full pie it just feels really intoxicating because you're free to be yourself the other person is free to be yourself. You don't have the baggage. But then what happens over the years is that let's say, there's something that's really important to you. Maybe it's something that you value. Maybe it's it's what you want sexually or who you are spiritually or you know what you're looking for,  you need emotionally. And let's say the other person isn't there doesn't meet your needs and so, or even they think you're less than for some reason because you're too emotional or not emotional enough or whatever. And so slowly we start pulling back pieces of the pie and we no longer bring them to the relationship. And if we don't do that sure we've got less conflict. But you know what: we have a whole lot less vitality, a whole lot less intimacy. So the challenge is even when you don't we don't think the same. I got to tell you this is who I am. And remember that other person fell in love with you in the first place because you so freely flowed with of everything that you were. But just now you've got some challenges. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah so the idea is that through this process you get to know yourself more. You get to grow yourself more. And then you get to bring that back to the conflict in a way that really it's like having the same conflict, but from a completely different place. So it's it's not gonna be the same conflict at least on some level. 

Viola Neufeld: Neil, and that's true because you went once you've done all this inside work you go, and as soon as you get back out there with the same person you go, "Wow this is the same stuff." But then you notice then it actually feels so differently when you're in it because you're not being triggered. So the same conflict. But now you're responding differently within it which means that nothing can be exactly the same. You know how they tell you you can never change the other person and there's a part of that that's true but it really isn't the whole truth. You know because how do we change the other person we change the other person by changing ourselves. If I change my pattern my husband could no longer do the same thing and that's the way it is in all relationships. And therein lies a huge amount of hope. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. In fact I just released a communication course that is all focused on the things that one person can do, like, basically all the places where we alone have influence when we're communicating with another person, since that's really the only thing we can change in effect. 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah. And also because like I think of, I don't know if you can visualize steps, you know, like, let's say you you enter at one level, but there was an action that came before. There's always an action that comes after. So think about how you change things. Because if you respond differently then the other responds differently to you as well and you get out of the vicious cycle and into a more virtuous cycle. And the power lies in one. 

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. I am I'm getting this image in my mind of you know someone kind of going to battle and over and over again, with the same opponent, the same foe and they have, I mean let's just use Achilles right. So that we'll take a myth. So this dude has a weakness in his heel, it's the only place that he can be killed, because that was where you know he was held when he was dipped into the pool of immortality or whatever it was. And it's like, imagine him going into battle again and again and he's like fighting and all doing well. And then what do you know, like the person like, pinches his heel and he's like down on the ground again. And thankfully the person isn't actually trying to kill him. But no matter what, there he is helpless down on the ground and it's like if all he focuses on is like, "How do I keep people away from my heel?" Then the heel is always going to be there as a weakness. And everyone's going to keep going for it. Whereas if he gets to know that spot intimately well and you know, I'm talking about Achilles, but it could easily be "Achillia” - you know some women as well. You know like, then once they realize like oh this is my weakness and they really get to know it intimately. And then when, the other person goes for it, they actually have a way of responding that they never had before. That's part of what changes the whole dynamic. So, I'm wondering if you can talk for a moment about that process of going in and and I love the way in your book you have these great questions that help you kind of peel away your self delusions and denial in a way that's not destructive. You know that's constructive. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that process of you know, asking yourself maybe you've asked yourself what's true about this which is what you offered earlier. And then what's the next step? Like where do you go when you when you realize like well you know what, it's true that I don't prioritize the dishes and that is just true about me or whatever it is. 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah. You know to even to go one step further back, because it's understanding. You know, I often think of that part of us that we don't like the unwanted self. I often think of that more and I relate to it as I would to a little child or to me as a little child because we all make sense. And that part of us that still needs healing was wounded somewhere along the line. And what I actually love about conflict is that conflict gives us a method to heal those parts that are the most sensitive. So so when we come to the self to the unwanted self in that way, and we warmly try to understand where the hurts lie, where the woundedness first started to show up, then it's a way of kind of... I don't know... embracing it really it really is... I don't know taking it on your lap and now you're not, you're not harsh with it which means you're also not unrealistic in what you're expecting of it.  So I understand that, "OK. Why is cleanliness not important to me? Or why is uber cleanliness important to me?" For instance. And I come to understand things that have happened in my life that have made me come to that conclusion. And the thing is that many times what worked earlier in life doesn't necessarily work anymore. So taking that cleanliness thing you know, before it was not a problem there are many other things that were more important. However if it becomes a problem, with your spouse, then yeah. Then it's something that you start looking at and you go, "Well, maybe now I would actually feel better if I had things a little more cleaned up or if I contributed more by getting the dishes done or any of those things. So. So, it's a matter of really first warming up to the unwanted self because you understand what role it played or how it came to be. And in facing that there is some healing and there is some freeing going forward. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And I'm wondering when you look at yourself in that way like, what I'm hearing are these questions that help you get the underlying motivation. So if what you're looking at is a specific behavior that you do or don't do, what the motivations are beneath that to help you get more clarity on what, what's really driving the way that you act. Am I getting you?

Viola Neufeld: Yes for sure. Because we always have... And making that connection is sometimes difficult. Because we have these behaviors that we do. But then you have to kind of go underneath and go, "Why is that important?" Now, the why question is always a bit dangerous right because it can take you into rationalization which is not where we're going. It's more of a question of what? What is it that's actually driving that. So... 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And I'm thinking about your chapter on I think you call it "self tripping." Maybe you can describe what that is before I say what I'm gonna say. So what's self tripping? 

Viola Neufeld: "Self tripping" is when you keep doing something that you know isn't getting you where you want to go and yet you can't leave. You can't let it go. So, in the book it was Nadia and her negativity. And so she recognizes that even though she doesn't like her negativity, that it also plays an important role in her life. It's where she feels like she makes a valuable contribution. It's part of her sense of identity. She thinks that people who just are always happy are people who just skate through life and don't have enough grit to face reality as it is. And it's so become woven into her sense of who she is that if she if she didn't be negative some of the time or you know bring out the umbrella that she wouldn't even know who she was anymore. 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

Viola Neufeld: Cuz of the roles. It was a role that she played growing up in her family and it's how others have come to know her. 

Neil Sattin: Right. So if it's okay, I'm just gonna go through these questions that you ask. 

Viola Neufeld: Sure. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: So just to give you listening a flavor for this kind of inquiry. So, you identified the behavior then you might ask yourself why do you dislike this behavior? Because after all we're talking about the unwanted self, like this is a part of us that we don't necessarily feel good about. But we've come to accept it as just maybe just the way we are. Or just the way we're going to be. We haven't figured out a way out of it. What do you like about this behavior? And why are you attached to it? If you tried to change it what would you lose? Or how would the change destabilise you internally or destabilise your relationship externally? And how is it working for you to repeat this pattern over and over again? Is there anything else that holds it in place. So, you're really able to to look at it like almost a scientist would or at least an observer from another planet, who's really trying to get more familiar with what's, what's going on here? And do you find that that process of creating that insight in itself is what generates change? Or are there other things that you think are required for people?

Viola Neufeld: Well for sure what it does, like, it's the second step right? It's of going up and looking at it. So what it does is, you see the patterns, it loosens it inside and then I think going out is actually that you have to end up implementing that and realize how different it feels, and actually be surprised by how good it feels. And it doesn't mean, and like Nadia for instance might never give up all her negativity but she might be thinking differently about how often she's going to use it or whether it's going to be a comfortable blanket. She's going to recognize when she's using it illegitimately and she'll open up options. That's the whole beautiful thing about looking at, or engaging conflict differently is that you recognize that you have a whole lot more options than you believed you had earlier. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. It really frees you up in that way. And I'm just thinking about how once you're in that place with a new like trying something new on, you talk about not necessarily going for the big shift. "Well, I'm just gonna be positive all the time." Like, that's not gonna be Nadia's approach, right?

Viola Neufeld: No, no, no. I mean that has to be, it has to be, little, little steps. And I think you always measured today compared to yesterday. Are you happier with who you are today than yesterday? Oftentimes when I work with couples and I usually take the last 10 minutes to work on what kind of homework do they want to do and it's about together we figure out the homework, or they figure out the homework on their own, but oftentimes after a session people will be pretty motivated and they'll go, "Oh, I'm going to do this, this, this, and this." And I'm like: "How about we think about one thing you're going to do? So that you can be convinced, so that you know that you are going to actually succeed rather than setting yourself up for failure?"

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. And I'm thinking now of that way of reflecting on changes in conflict with another person that you mentioned, where you might even say it's like in Nadia's case like, "Wow,, when's the last I was just positive, like when's the last time I was positive in the middle of a conflict that we were having?" As a way of helping your partner see that you are trying to make shifts in the dynamic. When you when you are trying to make those shifts, what are, what are the common obstacles that you find when someone brings kind of a renewed sense of who they are? They've gone, they've done the deep dive. They've gone up, they've gotten some perspective. They really want to shift this pattern for themselves and for the way that they have conflict and then, let's talk about kind of taking it into the arena with their with their partner? And how do you do that in a way that's most likely to be generative? And how would you know? Because we're talking about stepping into conflict which by its nature is uncomfortable. 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah, yeah. You know what I think, for one, being really realistic about change and how it happens. And know that the old is like a magnet and it just sucks you back, so quickly, and so powerfully and I think the important thing is not to get down on ourselves when that happens just to kind of look and kind of chuckle a little bit, and go, "Oh, my goodness, it's happening. The same thing still has some power." But even the fact that you can go up and recognize it, that means you're not functioning totally from your alligator brain, your amygdala, you're actually operating. You've invited your neocortex in and you're recognizing it even if you catch it after the fact and you go, "You know what, I just did the same thing again." But that's more than you were doing previously, because previously you didn't even see it. So kudos to you. And then the next time when it happens you'll probably see it while you're in the middle of it, and go, "OK, just wait a minute. I got to do something differently."  And when sometimes, when people get lost I'll say to them just do something which is 180 degrees from what you normally do and see how different, it feels and see what the impact is. Because it's all about experimenting and then recognizing that the person who got to you before, when you are making changes, whether it's your spouse, whether it's a colleague at work. If you make a change know that the other person is going to continue to do more of what they did before. So you're actually going to up the ante. Be prepared for that. Not because they're wanting you to still do what you did before, but just because that's what they know. And so your commitment is to yourself, more than to the other person to stay the course. Just focus on who do I want to be so that I can sleep comfortably in my own skin. And what is another good thing is that life keeps giving us one opportunity after another. If we miss this one there's another one right around the corner. And again just keep practicing on being the person we want to be. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. I like that image of your two brains learning how to work together because we have spoken a lot on the show about your limbic brain taking your neocortex off line basically for in favor of fight or flight. And so bringing your attunement, like your attunement within, to a conflict, that allows you to to bring them both online at the same time and to recognize your boundaries to recognize where you truly aren't safe vs. the illusion of not being safe which is often what your amygdala is responding to, right? 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah. And that's what I love is because when you invite your brain back in, you can see that some of the things, cause conflict is all about your threats center going wild. And yet, when you bring your neocortex in then you can actually look at those fears and go, "Ok, they were real at one point. Are they still real? You know? I thought I couldn't do this on my own. And back then I couldn't. But can I do it now? Have I developed further? Or, I thought that you know I was not enough? Or, I thought that I spoke way too much. Do I still do that? I thought I was a drama queen. Am I still that or have I shifted? I thought people would reject me. But is that true?" So yeah it's always a question of checking where you are now compared to where you were then. And the many of the fears that were there don't need to be there any longer. 

Neil Sattin: Let's talk for a minute too about how we might... Because I agree with you that so often we we start changing and the whole thing shifts. But are there ways that you find with your clients that are particularly effective for inviting your partner to notice, along, apart from what I mentioned earlier, to notice like the dance is shifting here. Or, hey, like this is this is me stating my truth and you can make a choice about that but I'm really clear about what I believe in this moment or who I am in this moment. What are some ways to help invite your partner to change their steps in the dance? And maybe the last part of that question, is how would someone recognize if that wasn't going to happen and whether or not that's truly, you know, you talk a little bit about the times when it's actually healthy to disengage. 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah. Because you know I mean here's the sobering thing, is that we only have in our life what we tolerate. And so at a certain point it is that we go: This is who I am or I want to be sexually active, and that's really important to be in an intimate relationship. And if you're not there if that's not what you want, we're in real difficulty and I don't know what to do. Or let's say, "I want to be in relationship with somebody when I know that I have reason to trust them and I can believe them. And you have shown me on numerous occasions that I don't have evidence to trust you. And we are in a situation that I don't know if we can continue to go forward because this is what I need in my life." See, then you go back to differentiation where you really hold your own and you go. This is what I need from a partner. And if you're not that person, then I don't know where we're going to be in the future. So then there are other ones where, let's say you know, you know that the other person continues, regardless of how many times you say what's important to you and what really matters, it actually seems like the other person, if they really if that really doesn't matter to them then you are in a situation where you have to go, "OK. Am I going to continue on with this person or am I not?" Because you can't continue... Or let's say somebody continues to be hurtful and harmful in their actions towards you. And regardless of what you said they don't make the changes. Well then the writing is on the wall as to your future. You have to make decisions for your own safekeeping and for your own health. Going forward. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and I think one place where that can get tricky is: I think we can be too quick maybe to make that decision, if we're in pain and that's the interesting thing about what we're talking about. Is like just because you're having conflict and uncomfortable that that isn't necessarily a sign that this isn't a healthy environment for you to be in. It may be that there's more healing for you to do or more growing for you to do. And I think that can be tricky to know, like, actually this isn't about me growing or healing something this is just about kind of a core place where I stand. 

Viola Neufeld: Yeah, I mean, that's where it can get confusing for people to know whether it's just that it's theirs or if it has to do with the other person. I lost it there when I was going to say you and I'm sorry.

Neil Sattin: That's OK. And I'm wondering if you have any hints for how someone can do that diagnosis about like have they gone deep enough in terms of their own inner work?

Viola Neufeld: Yeah. So Neil I know what it was I was going to say because, what's the reason for moving on? So if you have not looked at your own stuff and you just think it's the other person then maybe moving out of the relationship is premature. If however you've actually looked at your part of the problem, your contribution, and still you're not getting from your partner what you need, then that's a different thing because you're not just leaving because of hurt and because of self blindness. You actually see it. You're doing the work. But the other person is not in a place where they're wanting to see more of themselves. And then maybe it points to a different future, but it's why are you leaving? Have you really seen what you need to see about yourself? Because then you can make a clear decision. 

Neil Sattin: Right. I love what you just said how crucial it is to identify your contribution and to change to address that. That is what we've been talking about all along. It's the ways that we show up and we create the dance that's happening or do our part to create the dance that's happening. 

Neil Sattin: Well Vi Neufeld it's been so great to chat with you about conflict and I feel like we should have argued more or something like that. I'm really appreciating your work. And so can you just tell us a little bit more about the different kinds of things that you offer? Obviously your book grateful for the fight is there for people on Amazon, it's a great read and really a useful tool for self discovery and transforming your approach to conflict. And I don't know about you, but if you can imagine like how tense and how much it can shake up your inner world to know that you're heading into conflict and just how different it can be to imagine stepping into a conflict knowing that you've got you, and that you can take care of yourself. This book is a really helpful part of creating that experience. So I appreciate your work in that way. But, what else are you doing with people?

Viola Neufeld: Well I was just going to say that I think one of the real benefits of doing this work is that you end up liking yourself more and you have better relationship. That's the end result. So yes, you know if you... Other things I mean there's all kinds of work. It's always having to do with sorting through relationships and extended families and with couples and in organizations. If some of you want to have a little scale that you can work through and it would be a little handout on enhancing relationship vitality, if you want to do that you can contact me and I'll send you a concept or I'll send you a handout if you like to do that. It would be a way of, you know how you always have ideas about who you think you are in relationship and then who your partner is. This is a way of actually going through a number of indicators and you can do a scoring at the end, which will tell you you know it'll shine some light on who's contributing in what areas and see if your yourself perceptions are accurate or not. 

Neil Sattin: Well I'm definitely going to to take your quiz. So, make sure that I get my hands on that as well. Yes. If you want to get a copy of the enhancing your relationship vitality inventory, then you can visit Vi Neufeld's web site which is transpectives.com, and I will have a link to that in the show notes, which you can get by visiting NeilSattin.com/conflict or texting the word "passion" to the number 3-3-4-4-4. And following the instructions. 

Neil Sattin: Vi Neufeld thank you so much for being here with us today. It's been such a treat to chat with you. 

Viola Neufeld: Thanks so much Neil.

 

Sep 14, 2019

It’s easy to talk about “Self Care” - to pay lip service to it - but what does it really mean to take care of yourself? In today’s episode, we’re going to get back to basics to ensure that you’re actually nourishing the most important person in your world - you! Because if you’re not, then how are you going to show up for the people around you? By the end, you'll have a sense of exactly what's essential for keeping you at your best.

Come see Relationship Alive - LIVE! with John and Julie Gottman, on October 12th in Portland Maine. You have the chance to ask us *your* questions - and get answers. Visit neilsattin.com/liveshow for more information.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Audible Escape transports you into the world of love and romance - unlimited love stories to enjoy. Choose your own emotional experience! To get your first month free, visit audible.com/lovealive

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner’s Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Sep 5, 2019

There are ways to communicate that keep you stuck, or that make things worse - and there are ways to communicate that foster the healthy development of your relationship. So how do you avoid the pitfalls, and reconnect with each other in spite of your differences? Or even in appreciation of your differences? In today’s episode, we have a return visit from Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson. They are co-founders of The Couples Institute, one of the leading centers for training couples therapists and helping people find practical solutions to relationship issues. Their book “Tell Me No Lies” describes how to create a culture of honesty in your relationship (and why that’s so important) - while their work on the Developmental Model of relationships gives deep insight into why we do what we do. Today we’ll get theoretical, we’ll get practical, and you’ll walk away with some new ways to communicate about challenging topics in ways that encourage the healthy development of your relationship.

Visit neilsattin.com/institute to join their free “What do you do when” 4-part series!

If you’re curious to hear our first episode together, about shaping a culture of honesty in your relationship, you can also check out Episode 24 of Relationship Alive - Why We Lie and How to Get Back to the Truth

And you can listen to our second episode together, which was about Relationship Development and getting unstuck in your relationship, if you click here.

Meanwhile - come see Relationship Alive - LIVE! with John and Julie Gottman, on October 12th in Portland Maine. You have the chance to ask us *your* questions - and get answers. Visit neilsattin.com/liveshow for more information.

And as always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Beautiful jewelry, exquisite craftsmanship, sustainable sources, and affordable prices. Get $75 OFF your purchase at hellonoemie.com when you use the coupon code "ALIVE". With free overnight shipping and free returns, you can see something online today, and try it on tomorrow risk free.

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

To join Ellyn and Pete’s free “What do I do when” series, follow this link here.

Visit The Couples Institute website to learn more about Ellyn and Pete’s work with couples, and with helping therapists help couples.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Your Relationship (ALSO FREE)

Visit www.neilsattin.com/development2 to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jeff Brown.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. On today's show we are going to have a return visit from some of my favorite guests; Pete Pearson and Ellyn Bader. They are here to dive even more deeply into the developmental model for relationships and why it is so important for you to understand where you're at in terms of your development, both as an individual, but definitely as a couple, and also to talk about a new series that they're offering for therapists that will be great for you if you're a therapist in terms of boosting the way that you work with couples in your practice.

Neil Sattin: We're going to talk more about that, but I know that they elicited feedback from their audience of therapists about some of the toughest issues that they deal with, in sessions with couples and they put together a free series around that. So we're going to talk about that and we're going to ask them some questions about how to know where you are in the developmental status of your relationship and we're also going to give you a very valuable way to structure how you communicate with your partner around a sensitive topic, something that we haven't covered in quite this way on the show before. Ellyn and Pete have both been here before. If you want to listen to their episode about lying in relationships and how to cultivate a culture of honesty you can visit neilsattin.com/lies.

Neil Sattin: If you want to hear more about the developmental model, you can visit neilsattin.com/development. Those are the two episodes that they were on prior to today. And if you want to download a transcript of today's episode, then visit neilsattin.com/... Let's see, what should we call this one? Let's call it development2. I know that was really tricky. So, you can visit neilsattin.com/development2, the number two, and that will take you to this episode where you can download a transcript or you can always text the word Passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. That is it for this moment. So let's dive into the conversation with Ellyn Bader and Pete Pearson. Thank you so much for being here with us today.

Ellyn Bader: You're welcome, it's always fun to talk to you Neil.

Peter Pearson: It's good being here Neil, thank you.

Neil Sattin: Yes, and I should know this by now, but Pete, is it okay to call you Pete? Should I be calling you Peter or should I be calling you...

Peter Pearson: Pete is fine.

Neil Sattin: Okay, great, Petey... So let's start with just this... I want to give a quick overview of what we mean by the developmental model. If people really want the nitty gritty, then you can go back and listen to the first episode, but just so... Just to give us some context, the two-minute elevator pitch, that's a really long elevator ride if you've ever been in an elevator for two minutes. But anyway let's start there.

Ellyn Bader: Sure. So we look at relationships, and healthy relationships as going through a series or potentially going through a series of developmental stages and I'm going to give you the really short-hand version of it. But people will meet ideally often they fall in love, they have what I call a temporary psychosis, where they just focus on each other and the grass is green, and the sky is blue, everything is wonderful. And I know all relationships don't start out that way, but many, many do, and others start out more gradually. But the developmental task of that first stage is putting a boundary around the two of us as a couple and making the decision to be a couple, whatever that means to the two of them, but it's a commitment to that relationship.

Ellyn Bader: And then after people are together for a while and we see this happening, generally anywhere from about six months to two years, the partner gets taken off of that magical wonderful pedestal, and people start to see their differences, and that's a good thing, that's a healthy thing, it's not a bad thing. Many couples get scared when this happens, but it's inevitable that you're going to see more aspects of the other person. I use a disco ball in my office when I'm talking about it with couples because all those mirrors on the ball represent different facets of ourselves and those facets get shown to each other over time. And so this is a stage of differentiation, it's a stage where differences arise and the task is to learn how to be open, and authentic with each other about what you think, what you feel, what you desire and to be able to hold still while your partner does the same thing, and then to learn how to manage those differences successfully. And so there's... That's a short version. We can go into a lot more detail but basically there's a lot that's going on in terms of the personal growth of each partner during that stage.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so this actually brings up a question for me around this process of differentiation because I think that in that psychosis that you mentioned that often a lot of partners they start making agreements or presenting ways of being that maybe, when it comes right down to it, aren't truly authentic to who they are. They do a lot of compromising, for the sake of the relationship. And then when they come back around to this process of differentiation, there's this sense of coming into integrity with each other and with themselves around what they really want. What are the ways that they signed up for the relationship that actually haven't been working for them? So I'm wondering how common it is for you to see people going through healthy differentiation really getting clear on who they are, on what their authentic truth is, and then looking at the person that they're with and saying, "Wow, I'm actually not sure that we're meant to be together, now that I'm differentiated, now that I'm not in the psychosis, wow there are these things that maybe are... Represent ways that we're not compatible." How do people frame that? Yeah, go ahead.

Ellyn Bader: Well of course, that happens, and ideally, probably that happens a ton when you think about people who date and they get really excited about each other and then a few months later they realize, "Oh well, this is not really the relationship for me."

Neil Sattin: Right?

Ellyn Bader: So there's some of that going on there, it's much...

Peter Pearson: Sometimes I will ask a couple because they are challenged when they come into the office and they talk about all the differences that they have and the problems those differences create, I will ask them, I say, "Hey would you like to be married to a personality clone of yourself where all of the differences just magically disappear?" The vast, vast majority of people say, "Actually no, I would not want to be married to a personality clone." And one person said, "I would have all my problems times two. I don't think I want that.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so there is first recognizing the value in the difference, but I'm wondering within there is something about learning how to love another person in the way that they're different from you and to feel like in the ways that it jars you that it maybe isn't in total alignment with what you would want, or who you are as a person, but there's some way to navigate that that's healthy, versus just kind of exploding it into, "Well, I guess we're just not meant to be together."

Ellyn Bader: Right, I mean the challenge you mentioned what goes on when people are developing a... What I call emotional muscle or a stronger backbone where they can hold on to their authentic selves, but it also means being able to do what we call other differentiation. It's what enables you to learn more deeply about your partner, be more giving at times when it isn't convenient. But it's not compromising core aspects of yourself. And that's why some couples especially in the differentiation stage, but even later, too, will have a really tough conflict to handle and deal with and some people will want to run and flee really quickly instead of hanging in there and learning how to stay open to yourself and to somebody else, which is something that most of us have never learned or never been in relationships that are interdependent and require you to be open and giving at the same time.

Peter Pearson: Actually Neil, there's two examples of this. One is couples will often say, "Well, we don't want to argue in front of the kids, we should have a united front." And the downside... I can understand their intention behind that but the downside is, the kids then do not see how their parents disagree and work it out in front of them and that is such a priceless gift when parents finally get it, "Oh, we can disagree not only in front of the kids, but they can watch how we come to a resolution on that." And boy, if that's not a priceless gift. The other one is just in our relationship, Ellyn between the two of us, Ellyn is a lot more organized. She likes more consistency going through life and I can get a life-changing idea every time I take a shower. Now what could possibly go wrong with that system?

Ellyn Bader: Yes so we have to... We've had to learn how to navigate our differences, for sure.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I wish you could see the look that Ellyn gave Pete when he started talking about this.

Peter Pearson: But see, here's the key, when somebody has differences is if I have to tone down my life changing ideas, am I compromising a set of values in me? And the answer is really no, it's more like a series of interests, what I'm drawn to, but it's not... I don't organize my life around creativity much more expensive visionary thinking, etcetera. It's an interest, it's a concern, but it's not a core value, which then makes it easy there to create adjustments when there are differences.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'm wondering if you have any hints on in a circumstance like that, how could I as the person who's thinking like, "Wow, I wonder what Pete's going to say the next time he comes out of the shower."

Ellyn Bader: Well, what I... I'll answer that 'cause what I had to learn was how to give him positive recognition for great ideas and still say to him, "Focus Pete, stay focused."

Peter Pearson: And then, I had to learn how to hear Ellyn telling me to focus without feeling like I was being controlled. And I also had to learn that when I have a new idea, I will say to Ellyn, "Now wait a minute, this is just a brain storm idea." So if I go to Ellyn and I say, "What do you think about moving to Australia? 'cause I just saw a National Geographic special on Australia." And I say, "Now wait three days from now, I'm not going to want to move there, but let's just talk about it. It might be interesting."

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so Ellyn, for you in this... How do you... It feels a little challenging as an example, because it seems obvious how this doesn't conflict with your core values but I'm curious to know how would one sit in a moment of tension and decide, "Is this about my core values?" And that could be true for either person, right, or, "Is this more about something that can be adjusted or worked around?"

Ellyn Bader: Well, let me say that I think... First of all, that sometimes people jump to that question that you just put out too fast. It's like the more that I am sure that I won't compromise on core core values, the more open I can be to any of Pete's ideas because I know I'm not going to get completely caught up and swayed and go down certain paths that I don't want to go down. So the ability to really explore the other person's world and the other person's reality, is dependent on how centered somebody is themselves or how differentiated they are themselves.

Ellyn Bader: I mean core values tend to be things like, "I don't believe in hitting kids or I'm not going to discipline my children by hitting them," whereas somebody might say, "Well, for me it's fine, to spank, and whatever," those kinds of things you're not going to get a compromise on. Religion is one that very often, you're not going to get a compromise on but there are so many things that people think. One other quick example I had a couple that I was working with, where he desperately wanted to live on this beautiful island, off the East Coast where they built an incredibly unbelievable place that they lived and she wanted to live in California where she had lived before and they were at a stand-off for probably 13 or 14 months about where they were going to live.

Ellyn Bader: But I kept saying to them, "We're going to stick with this and find out what matters to each of you so much about each of these places and that there is a solution. I have no idea what it is. You have no idea what it is, but there are core values that are embedded in this that matter to each of you a lot, and that's what we need to uncover to make a good decision," and it's that ability to live in the uncertainty that's so hard that leaves people to quickly get divorced or give up or throw their hands up in despair.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, and so I'm hearing in there like a really valuable question such as what is it about this thing that really matters to you that might help people unearth the values embedded in something like a choice like where to live.

Ellyn Bader: Yeah that's the agreement.

Peter Pearson: That's right Neil and when you say, "What are the values of that and often there are multiple nuanced layers to that question, but people want to rush to the answer because it creates anxiety or tension to live in that pressure so they want to hurry up and rush to it but there are a lot of nuanced layers to that question, about why something really matters to me.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, awesome. And so that leads me to something that we had chatted about maybe sharing with our audience which is a tool that you use as therapists and it's also a tool for people in relationship around how to communicate around a particularly challenging thing that involves these prescribed roles. The initiator and the inquirer. And I'm wondering if we could just take a few minutes to describe that process, which seems like it would be so powerful for people having that exploration with each other.

Ellyn Bader: I'd be glad to... I'd like to frame it first by saying that the most common problem that couples come to therapy with is the problem of saying, "We can't communicate, we have a communication struggle or a communication issue."

Neil Sattin: Great.

Ellyn Bader: As a therapist, I know that it's not just a simple behavioral change that's going to make them be able to communicate more effectively. And so, the reason Pete and I developed the initiator inquirer process is it is designed purposely to do two things. One is to help communication but the other thing is it does help people develop new capacities, new abilities in themselves that they didn't have before that make them a better communicator.

Neil Sattin: Got it, right, it requires you to be more differentiated in order to even engage in the process.

Ellyn Bader: To engage effectively, yeah.

Peter Pearson: Yeah, in that sense, it goes way beyond just a technique or a tool to talk about things.

Neil Sattin: Great.

Ellyn Bader: So basically we teach couples two very different roles and when you say... When kids go to kindergarten you learn to take turns, but as adults, when we have stresses, or problems we don't take turns we're both like hammering at each other. And so we divide it up into one person is the initiator and the other person is the inquirer. And the role of the initiator is to bring up one issue and only one issue at a time, and to say what they desire, to say what they feel when they bring it up, and to avoid name-calling, to avoid blame, to any negativity. And then the most important part of that role is to be open to learning more about yourself by the time you're finished talking than when you started.

Peter Pearson: Now that's pretty unusual. If I have a conflict with you, I'm not interested in learning more about myself.

Ellyn Bader: That explains why it is hard for you to be an initiator for a while.

Peter Pearson: Or an inquirer.

Ellyn Bader: Yeah, as Pete just said, it's not easy for people who... 'cause it's more natural to just blame and want the other person to change and not be open to learning about yourself. So that's the initiating role, the inquiring role is the role for the listening partner. And when I'm teaching this to a couple, I'll say there are real challenges in this role. The first thing you gotta do is listen, and that means you're actively listening to understand, you're not listening but all the time you're thinking about how you're going to prove your point. So you listen. We teach people to be curious rather than furious.

Ellyn Bader: So you ask questions and the questions are designed to have a... Like if I'm asking Pete it's to get a deeper understanding of what he's communicating to me. The third piece, which is really hard but is to respond with empathy and to be able to stay with empathy until you get what we call a soothing moment or that moment of connection and contact where Pete feels like I really get him or I get what he's communicating to me and I've let it impact me 'cause I can be empathic about what's being communicated.

Ellyn Bader: And then we recommend a break and then you can switch roles but you don't want to mush everything together so, there's not clarity about what belongs to each person. So that's a quick short hand. We work with continuum so we help people see what they're developing in themselves to get better at it, and... But it's... The process is used by therapists all over the world and it's probably the most widely-used part of our model because they get to see how powerful it is for couples.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so I'm seeing as the important components from the initiator's side being willing to really get to what you want or what your issue is from a self-perspective, so not being in a position where you're blaming the other person, but focusing in on what is going on within you that's a challenge or problem, and...

Peter Pearson: That's extremely difficult Neil, what you just expressed right there is to get clearer and clearer about what's important to you and why. And so many people grow up with almost nobody encouraging or supporting the expression of what you want, or why that's important. And so as adults, it just gets layered over and layered over and it's surprisingly difficult for so many people to be clear about what it is that they really want.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and so the flip side of what's so important about this is that the person who's the inquirer, along with the empathy that you named which is clearly really important is this sense of like, "I'm asking you questions so I can understand you better not so I can pin you down, not so I can get my point across." It's not... I'm not asking you questions to make a case about something else, I'm asking you questions that are about really unearthing... Helping you dive more deeply into who you are and like we were talking about before, what it is about this thing that really matters to you.

Peter Pearson: And also Neil, what you're saying right there is on that side of the coin, extremely difficult. A lot of people think, "Well, jeez, if I really start knowing what's important to you and why, then I'm going to have to give up what I want or change what I think or change what I feel." And so that feels, it almost is like there's a self-preservation against knowing much more about what it is that your partner wants. They are simply afraid it will intensify the conflict and sometimes it does.

Ellyn Bader: But... And getting to that empathy pushes development, it pushes people to get out of themselves and understand another reality.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, it makes me think too of your work around lying and your book Tell Me No Lies because this is one of those moments where it seems so important to be fostering an atmosphere that invites truth-telling, so that when you're asking your partner questions they feel like they can answer... Answer you honestly, without being beaten over the head by what they're saying or the person's response. So there's that aspect that's challenging as well of hearing things and learning how to not take it personally or to deal with the emotions that arise when you're hearing things that are challenging.

Ellyn Bader: Yup, yeah, I mean relationships are a place where an enormous amount of growth takes place and if you have the expectation that your primary relationship is always going to be easy, effortless, and enjoyable all the time you're in for a tough ride.

Neil Sattin: That doesn't happen?

[chuckle]

Ellyn Bader: Not too often.

Neil Sattin: So, you alluded earlier to the series that you're doing, and we've been talking about communication and you said that one of the biggest things that comes to a couples' session is when couples think that their problem is that they're not able to communicate with each other, that all they have to do is learn how to communicate better. And that's one of the topics that you're going to discuss in this five day... Five part series, and I happen to have the list of the other topics in front of me, so I'm just going to name them for people, so that they can hear.

Ellyn Bader: Do you want me to do it or you want...

Neil Sattin: Yeah, go ahead, 'cause you can probably talk about it with even more intel.

Ellyn Bader: Well, yeah, let me just create a context. As Neil said earlier, I surveyed therapists about tough things that they struggle with. And then I wanted to put together this five part... Well, a series of training that would help therapists learn more about what the developmental model can do for them and why. And so I'm doing three live webinars starting a week, starting Monday, September ninth and going through that week. And the first webinar, the point of the first webinar is really clients don't always tell us what we need to know about why they're having trouble.

Ellyn Bader: They'll present a problem like we fight about clutter or he's never home on time, or whatever it is, but you don't have a window into seeing their developmental stage and the level of differentiation. And so the first webinar is designed to help you with an exercise that will show you how to see better what you need to know. And I'll be showing a video of a couple that I worked with using this particular exercise. The second day is actually an article and a clinical transcript. And it's about power struggles because so often, people get stuck in a power struggle.

Ellyn Bader: And this particular one is a case that Pete worked with and it is power struggling over parenting and how to parent. And then the third one is that we can't communicate. It's a video example of showing how to work with a couple when they come in and they believe their problem is communication and you want to take it further and deeper and more vulnerable and more open. And how do you get there and how do you help them see that it's more than just communication.

Neil Sattin: And I just want to mention too that being able to see you work with other couples is so valuable I think as a therapist, and a training exercise but also as a couple being able to see how another couple responds in a similar kind of situation, and how a therapist interacts... Just there's so much juice there, in terms of informing how we respond in a relationship as well, along with how we respond as counselors, and therapists.

Ellyn Bader: And yeah and we try to pick some cases that have common problems so that people who watch like you're saying Neil can benefit. In the first case, it's a blended family who are struggling with blended family issues. This case, I just mentioned is one where they say, "We can't communicate," but they've had some alcohol problems, they've had some other deeper issues that weren't on the surface. The fourth day is another article and transcript. And it's with me working with a narcissistic husband who had really dominated most of the sessions and was not somebody who had been willing to look at himself. And so I chose the transcript of a session where I was really pushing him around being open and looking at himself, and not being... Not externalizing everything onto me and onto his wife. So that's the fourth day.

Neil Sattin: Cool.

Ellyn Bader: And then the very last day is another one that I get asked about a lot and that is in the aftermath of infidelity, you often have one partner who is obsessing about all the details of their partner's affair, and they want to know, "Where did you meet, and where did you sleep, and how much money did you spend?" And that constant kind of obsession it can be very hard to deal with in sessions. And so it's an example of me working with a couple where the wife was doing that and how to turn that into a positive direction rather than having it undermine your work.

Neil Sattin: They all sound like super powerful things to witness and to learn more about. If you are interested in participating in this five-part series that Ellyn is doing, are the two of you doing that together or is it just you, Ellyn who's...

Ellyn Bader: I'm doing the webinars, but like I said, Pete did one of the transcripts for one of the article.

Neil Sattin: Oh right, right, yeah. So, you can visit Neilsattin.com/institute and it's institute because Ellyn and Pete together run The Couples Institute, which is their center for information for couples, for therapists and their training course that they do because they have a big course that they do for therapists to help them learn how to work with couples around this developmental model. Ellyn, can you give us the full name of the course? 'cause it's... It gives you a lot just hearing the name you know what it's about.

Ellyn Bader: Sure. Just one thing before I do that, this series that I'm... That Neil was just talking about will be available online until September 22nd. So, if one of your listeners hears this a few days after we've started, they can still sign up and get what they missed up until the 22nd of September.

Neil Sattin: Great. And I think it's important to mention too, that this five part series is free. So anyone can sign up, neilsattin.com/institute and you'll be able to get access to these trainings for free.

Ellyn Bader: And the name of the course is the developmental model of couples therapy, integrating attachment, differentiation and neuroscience in couples work. And it's, of course, I love doing this training, it's an online program, there's therapists in it from all over the world, coaches too from all over the world, believe it, there's people from 35 different countries. And it's designed to help you learn to benefit from knowing the developmental model and using concepts to get you unstuck and to keep forward progress happening in your couples work.

Neil Sattin: So, very powerful and I'm always amazed as even when I re-visit your work in preparation for one of these conversations, I'm always pulling new stuff out and being like, "Oh I know, I read that before but there's another gem of information that... " So there's so much depth to what you're offering and you can tell just from the title of the course that it's very comprehensive in terms of merging development, attachment, neuroscience in a way that's really practical in the therapists or coaching office. Well, I...

Ellyn Bader: Thank you Neil.

Neil Sattin: One quick question going back to the initiator inquirer model, I was wondering if you have any suggestions for people on how to switch directions 'cause I think that can sometimes be one of the troubles where one person feels like, "Well, I'm always the one who's trying to understand my partner and I want them to understand me for a change." So are there ways that you found that work to invite that switch?

Ellyn Bader: Well, first of all, one of the things I like to say to people is that the person who actively initiates the topic and that can be to say to your partner, "Is this a good time to talk?" Or, "I have something I want to talk about." The person who takes the risk of initiating ideally is the initiator. Then when they're finished, you can take a 20 minute break up to a two or three-day break to come back and do the other side. But if there's somebody who's never initiating as their therapist, I'm going to be working with them on what's getting in the way of you initiating because there are many people who are just reactive and they wait for their partners to bring it up, and then they say, "But wait, I want to go first. There is my turn," but they won't do that active initiation. So I try to cut that out by really getting people to take that accountability and ownership to initiate for themselves.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, it almost seems like then the real potential issue is helping get the inquirer to really want to sign up for asking questions that are about unearthing understanding as opposed to just reacting responding.

Peter Pearson: And ironically, the initiator could say to their partner if this person does most of the initiating, "Honey there's something I would like to talk about, which is, it seems to me, I'm the one who continues to bring up... And it would mean a lot to me if you brought up stuff about yourself for example... And I want to be in the role of listening and being curious and understanding your struggles a little more comprehensively than I do. That would help us, I think, create a stronger union, may be a stronger team and work more collaboratively shoulder-to-shoulder going forth in life. So, knowing more about you, I think could help us short-term and possibly long-term as well."

Neil Sattin: Perfect, well I see that we're bumping up against our hard stop for time. And even though I would love to chat with you more, I think I'm just going to have to save my other questions for the next time that we talk. But in the mean time, it's always such a pleasure to have you both here with us. Pete Pearson, Ellyn Bader of The Couples Institute. If you want to take part in their free series you can visit neilsattin.com/institute or to download the transcript of today's episode, visit neilsattin.com/development2. That's the word development and the number two, or text the word Passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions, and you'll have all the links for you that we talked about today on the show page. So that is for you Ellyn and Pete, thank you so much for making it work today, it's such a pleasure to talk to you.

Ellyn Bader: Well, thank you Neil, it's always enjoyable to talk to you. And yeah there probably will be a next time sometime we get together again.

Peter Pearson: Yeah, I hope there is a next time, Neil. It's like Ellyn says it's always good talking with you. The time goes fast and I just want to give another shout out to you Neil for all that you're doing, bringing these messages to the professional and to the public lives. So shut out to you for doing all your work Neil.

Neil Sattin: Thank you so much, I appreciate that reflection, a lot!

Aug 29, 2019

In what ways are you being controlled by your partner? In what ways are you controlling them? How does it help you? And how does it hurt you? In today’s episode, we’re going to dive deep on this issue of control, and see if we just can’t dismantle the ways that it’s holding you back in your relationship. By the end, you'll see exactly what structures of control you've put into place in your relationship, understand why they're there, and have a path towards greater freedom to be yourself in your relationship.

Come see Relationship Alive - LIVE! with John and Julie Gottman, on October 12th in Portland Maine. You have the chance to ask us *your* questions - and get answers. Visit neilsattin.com/liveshow for more information.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

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Aug 20, 2019

Is it possible to be a spiritual being in a human body? Transcendent, yet grounded? And why is that so many “spiritual leaders” tell us to leave our feelings behind? How is it possible to be truly connected to another person - including on the spiritual level? To get to the heart, body, and soul of these questions, we’re having a return visit from Jeff Brown, author of the recently released book “Grounded Spirituality”. Jeff’s work is focused on connecting you to your precious, unique divinity - in a way that’s practical, connected, and...real. Or as Jeff Brown might say...enrealed.

If you’re curious to hear our first episode together, you can also check out Episode 118 of Relationship Alive - Crafting an Uncommon Bond and Soulshaping with Jeff Brown.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

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Resources:

Visit Jeff Brown’s website to learn more about his books and his other projects.

Pick up a copy of Grounded Spirituality by Jeff Brown on Amazon.

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Visit www.neilsattin.com/grounded to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jeff Brown.

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Transcript:

Neil Sattin  Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host Neil Sattin. 

Neil Sattin  It's always a thrill to get a return visit from a particularly awesome guest. And today is going to be one of those days. Here to talk about the, his new book "Grounded Spirituality," is Jeff Brown, who is also the author of "Soulshaping," and "An Uncommon Bond," and in fact we had him here on Relationship Alive, I guess it was probably about a year and a half ago, maybe, to talk about those two books. And if you're curious to hear that episode you can visit Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-soul-shaping. All one word. And today, we're going to talk about this approach to living a spiritual life that allows us to be fully grounded in who we are as humans in terms of our unique existence on this planet right now. I'm not going to try to describe the whole thing that's what I'm here to talk to Jeff Brown for. However I just want to say that for me personally this book came at a really challenged time when I've been going through a lot in my own life and I found some of the exercises in this book to be really helpful. And some of the viewpoints represented to help dispel some of the myths that I've been carrying around with me about what it means to be a spiritual being in a human body. And and helped me integrate in a in a new way that's been really helpful and transformative in terms of my day to day life right now. So I found the book to be really inspiring and that's why I'm so excited to be sharing it with you along with Jeff Brown it's auth, it's author. 

Neil Sattin  So if you want to download a transcript of today's conversation, which promises to be quite far reaching, then I encourage you to do so at Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-grounded, as in "Grounded Spirituality," not as in your grounded for being a bad human. And you can always text to the word Passion to the number 3-3-4-4-4 and follow the instructions to also get access to the transcripts and show notes for today's conversation. I think that's it for starters. So Jeff Brown, welcome back to Relationship Alive. 

Jeff Brown  Great to be with you Neil. It's good to be here. 

Neil Sattin  We're here to talk about "Grounded Spirituality," and I gave my off the cuff definition in the intro but I'm wondering if you might be able to give us a quick synopsis of what you mean by a "grounded spirituality," and maybe contrast that with what people tend to talk about when they're talking about spirituality and why this distinction is so important for you?

Jeff Brown  So let me just read from the book the grounded spirituality definition then go into the second part of your question. 

Neil Sattin  Sure. 

Jeff Brown  "Grounded spirituality is an all encompassing experience of spirituality that is rooted in and thread throughout all aspects of our humanity and earthly experience. We begin and end our spiritual quest within the ground of our being, our embodied humanness, as both interpreter of experience and as our individuated portal to divinity we don't look outside of our human form for spirituality we look deeper with a name and form, cultivating a more refined understanding of the divine reflection that exists right in the heart of our selfhood. We honor its sacred qualities and transformative properties celebrating it as the perfectly constructed laboratory of expansion that it is. With our feet rooted firmly on Mother Earth and in daily life, we become grounded in reality in all its identifiable forms. We expand outward and inward from there. In essence grounded and spirituality are synonyms. They both mean reality. The more deeply grounded you are in your body and selfhood, the more fully you are here. The more fully you are here, the more spiritual your experience. It's from the depths of your being that you have the greatest access to the everything." 

Jeff Brown  So for me you know I mean, my journey really began in the psychotherapeutic process. I didn't really have any idea of this thing called spirituality so I really... And, and as I went through that process and moved from more of a talk therapy model to working with Al Lowen and doing other somatic psychotherapy techniques, I found that the more deeply I opened and released the more expanded my vista. I felt like at the end of sessions or at the end of holotropic breathwork, I felt completely and deeply here in a unity consciousness field. And, but it happened through my body and it happened through the psycho emotional release. It didn't happen through anything separate from or distinct from my day to day experience. It was all coming through and threaded through my humanness. So I think I carry that forward and then began to explore this thing called spirituality and it began really with the love experience I wrote about in "An Uncommon Bond," and coming into a unified field or what I called the Unified Field from the love experience again through my heart and through my body through my being and then I began to encounter people like Bhagavan Das, and made Karmageddon and all kinds of other people in social media that were defining spirituality in a way that seemed to be devoid of humanness. I mean, it seemed to really be about something called transcendence. Something about finding selfhood finding spirituality independent of self, body, ego, feelings, stories -- everything about my humanness, everything difficult and uncomfortable was dissed. And spirituality was some awakened consciousness and an absolute consciousness field outside of my localized experience. That wasn't where I found it. I found it inside of my localized experience and so I, you know, as I've continued to work in the area and write in the area and develop ideas in the area, I began to realize that there's this thing called patriarchal spirituality. There is this thing I call the "new cage movement" there's this whole industry, industrial notion of spirituality that people are economically dependent on that tries to set off our humanness from our spirituality and that's just simply has not been my experience, and I feel as though that's one of the reasons why our species is in trouble because this way as in many other ways we continue to dissociated from our humanness in quest of something outside of it without understanding that the true integration happens has to happen right in the heart of it. 

Neil Sattin  I love that. And I'm thinking now of like the first place that I want to go with this, is, uh, that notion of transcendence and how helpful it has been for people to explore that to, to explore witness consciousness and, to in some senses let's just use the phrase rise above their, the drama and the chaos of human existence in order to get some perspective some peace. And your book is written as a dialogue between yourself and this character named Michael who is really rooted in this sense of spiritual journey that's all about transcending. Transcending reality or being far enough above it that you're you're not drowning in the chaos of it. And I think that's why it's so alluring to people because it, it's can feel easy to drown in the chaos of, of life and emotions and circumstances. So. Um.And you of course talk about Eckhart Tolle as a great example of someone who is you know the figurehead in some respects of the modern western transcendence movement. And so I'm wondering for you, where's the value in learning this witness consciousness and being able to take perspective vs. living there?

Jeff Brown  So the simple way I put it is that detachment is a tool. It's not a life. So for me... And transcendence can be defined you know, definitional stuff is very important and we won't go too far into it here. But you know what one person calls "transcendence," another person call something else. So the whole language of rising above being heightened all of that for me is part of the patriarchal bypass movement. That's not to say that being able to pull up and out and look at your localized self through various meditative and other techniques gain perspective on your habitual range of emotion, on the stories you tell yourself, and the way you move through the world on the various forms of anxiety that operate within you, is a good thing. It helped me enormously to be able to pull out of my very localized experience of Jeff Brown, from that super crazy childhood, and begin to witness myself and recognize and excavate parts of me that I didn't have access to in my habitual way of moving through the world. I have no issue with it. If Tolle  had written, "Power of Now," a book that I call the "power of self-avoidance." If if Tolle had written that book and he had said, "Look, I..." As he said in the beginning I think he said, he was suicidal and very troubled. If he'd said, "Look, I had all kinds of problems. And one morning I woke up and I developed, had developed some kind of a technique or access to a particular consciousness that gave me access to my material." Don't call it a pain body, don't talk about it like you're talking about a car part, acknowledge your tender woundedness, and then he said, "And I spent a lot of time out there getting perspective on where I'd been. Understanding my ancestral context, understanding how this painful material wove its way through my ways of being, and then I developed techniques for coming back down into that material," as though the material is in fact quite true and quite real and no illusion, no bashing of the ego, no bashing of the self, no bashing of the feelings, no bashing of emotions, no bashing of anything human. Acknowledging it, recognizing it, and understand that you needed to bring another consciousness into it in order to find the balance. The weave. The Holy Holy. That you need to move through the world with a connection to a more unified field and a profound and deep and worked through awareness of the localized self. If he had said that, I got no problem with that book. But he didn't.  He called that a, what'd he call it "a guide for enlightenment" or something in this, in the sub header? When you present the detachment or that as something that is the end of the story essentially to me that's just dissociative and that's not going to serve this humanity. We know why people want to do it. They're uncomfortable here. It's painful here. So they use the meditation as a drug or they use witnessing consciousness as a drug, and they convinced themselves they've gone to that superior place because they're numbing and detaching from all that material that's stirring up inside of them. It's still in there. It still shows up in their personal life. None of these teachers tell you about their personal lives, but you find out things about a lot of spiritual teachers' personal lives and you realize that this is an industry and they're telling you a story about their lives that isn't the whole story. Their stuff is still activated, their stuff is still working on them. They have not resolved work through all those pieces. And so for me what we need to do is develop a spirituality that acknowledges the wisdom and brings techniques to bear on people to be able to pull up and out, to pull back and look at themselves, to do the witnessing consciousness trip, to have a taste of something called "unity consciousness," and then to come back down into the body with that wisdom and find the weave between transcendence and imminence. That for me is the truest human experience. 

Neil Sattin  So let's contrast that with maybe some of your experience around the more human material. So when we come back in and write about how much is tends to be locked in the body and we've had right, Peter Levine on the show several times so that's that's I think, hopefully a level of discourse that listeners are familiar with, this idea that we're storing trauma in our body and if we're not dealing with it, then we're gonna have to stay in this dissociated state in order to feel like we're somehow coping, and I could, I could see like the freedom the illusion of freedom in that for people because we can't live there, there's that reality of your back in your, within your human form and there's still some shit to work through. 

Jeff Brown  Absolutely. It's, I mean trauma. It's encoded in the body. Its stored in the body. It's in the body. So I knew this in a very palpable way, when I shifted from being a talk therapy client to being a body centered psychotherapy client, and I would sit with Alexander Lowen for who was the co-founder of Bio and I would sit and talk for 15 minutes with him and he'd just be looking at my body and he'd be engaging my mind because he knew I needed that to feel safe, and I knew what he was doing but I needed to do it. And then he would say, "All right, you ready to work? You ready to get to work?" And so to get undressed, so I get into my underwear, my shorts whatever I would do and he would start working me, in the body, grounding me in the body, going over the stool, tantruming, kicking, and all of a sudden I would have access to a completely different experience of reality than my waking consciousness. It was painful. It was horrifying. There were memories that I had no conscious connection to in my day to day life, and understandably, I had to survive and get through my life. I couldn't be in touch with all that trauma but my experience of deep inside of my body was radically and remarkably different than who I thought I was. And I had tried going up and out I had been around the bypass movement I had attempted to be a bypasser. I would love to be a bypasser. But I just can't be a bypasser, it's just not, it, it's not in the way that I'm organized internally. But you know at the same time I was living kind of in between. I wasn't a bypasser but I wasn't going deep into the caverns of my own body consciousness. So Lowen, by going to Lowen, manifesting Lowen, what, however we characterize it, I was forced to go back down into that material. I chose to go back to into that material and and then I began to understand this deep and profound connection between this thing we could call imminence, the localized the day to day, the mundane whatever we call it and this thing called transcendence or unity consciousness field or the non-dual world, and then I would encounter it the spiritual world, they were talking about non duality and they all seem flatlined. They talk like automatons, they were they were addicted to meditation, you know, TM-ers, I knew so many TM-ers, who were like yogic flying and their personal lives were utterly insane, you know, there was no bridge. So I began to understand that my body was the bridge. My body is the bridge and it's the way that I try to make sense of how I can hold all of these threads of consciousness at the same time. And so. And Peter Levine is one of the great brilliant pioneers, and I noted him in the book. So his John Perocco, so is Wilhelm Reich. So is, you know, David Berceli is doing great work. Lowen, of course, did utterly brilliant work these people to me are the true spiritual teachers, because I define spirituality as reality, Neil. So the one who guides us or supports us in a movement towards being in touch with all threads of reality which must begin within the self it has to begin within the self, itself. To me those are the true spiritual teachers, not the ones who master a singular thread of consciousness master witnesses master meditators masters at the art of our premature forgiveness. There's a million of them out there calling themselves spiritual teachers to me there's nothing spiritual about them because all they've done is perfected one thread and they're not able to function within all of the threads of the human experience. 

Neil Sattin  That's one thing that's so appealing to me about your, your writing in "Grounded Spirituality," is this way that you continue speaking to "integrating." Integrating the spiritual awareness, integrating what's happening within your body, integrating your emotional awareness, integrating your intuition so that it it all becomes part of you as an alive, dynamic being. And what I've seen, what I've witnessed, it feels kind of funny to use that word, with lots of my clients who have been going through this sort of thing is that when people are totally focused on the meditative path, it actually creates a lot of challenges in relationship, because there's all that unconscious material that's still running them in the ways that they interact with each other or conversely they're they're kind of not really interacting with each other. They're, they're like two dissociated beings, or more likely one dissociated being, and another, who's like trying to call them back and then both of them of course have their work to do in order to to arrive at this place of being more integrated and unfolding in that way because I think it's it's not a static place, right? It's this dynamic place where you continually arrive again and again. 

Neil Sattin  Absolutely. I mean this is why the mindfulness revolution is dangerous. This is why the, you know, the society wide industry now really related to meditation is dangerous. I mean I get that meditation can be a wonderful technique for connecting to the self for pulling away from the localized material for periods of time, to getting a break from what it means to be a human being, you know, or at least to get a break from some aspect of that. But the problem is again, if it's not also coupled with some kind of re entry process and reintegration process, it's like we're moving towards inclusivity with respect to gender, with respect to sexuality, certainly with respect to race, you know, ethnicity, all kinds of ways. But I believe because the spiritual community is the one area in society where nobody's allowed to critically review it. It's amazing how well, how effective patriarchal spirituality in its origins has been at preventing us from deconstructing. You just got to go on my Facebook wall, when I put up a post where I'm critically reviewing a teaching, and how many conscious people even, really people who've really done work on themselves say, "Oh my God. How can you do that. You have no right to critique that person's teaching. You have no right to critique that experience." They're OK if we critique politics. They're OK if we deconstruct legal decisions. They're OK with us critically reviewing religion, but not spirituality. And this is the biggest part of the problem. You know if we're going to move in the direction of an inclusive world we have to allow for the critical review of everything that is not inclusive and that really includes spirituality because spirituality is growing in popularity, religion is becoming less popular worldwide. And if we keep moving in the direction of this protectorate this nonsense about certain spirituality as being a sacred cow we're leading humanity away from inclusively while at the same time pretending that we're moving them in the direction of something more advanced it's not more advanced if it's not inclusive.  It can't be. 

Neil Sattin  I suppose the one thing that really speaks to me in your writing is that sense of the imminence that you talk about being here, in the here and now, partly because I feel like that is really the place where relationship actually springs from at least springs from in its most, most healthy manifestation. You know, it's two people who are actually being fully here and alive to what's happening within themselves. 

Jeff Brown  Right. 

Neil Sattin  And, and. That's the thing that I think scares me a little bit about the spirituality movement is the way that it's discouraging people from actually feeling their full experience here with another human. Because that of course is what propels the growth that happens in relationship with another person. 

  Right. Well you know this is the trick of patriarchal spirituality to talk about the now, while leading you away from the now. That's the whole game. "The Power of Now," that's a very powerful sounding book title. "Be Here Now." Wow, what a powerful concept. But what are we really talking about we're talking about a notion of now-ness that is bereft of individuation. That is not connected to what I call the power of then, that is the true material that you're holding within your beingness unresolved, traumatic material, unresolved memories, unresolved events and experiences that completely inform your experience of the moment. Can you be fully in the moment if threads of your consciousness and threads that are somatically embedded in structure to defend and in armored ways of functioning, actually prevent you from being here in this moment? How could I be? 

Neil Sattin  Right. 

Jeff Brown  If I'm holding onto all kinds of stuff. And as a result of that early stuff I shallowed my breath. I pulled my head up and away from my body I tighten my hips, I rigidified my system, can I say that I'm actually in the now, in a full and complete sense? Of course not. So most of the people who are teaching now-ness are actually tricking you, they uh, or they're tricking themselves or both. They are the farthest thing from being in the moment because their version of the now is this patriarchal, cave dwelling, meditative absolute consciousness field, where you diss the self, you diss the story, you diss the ego you diss your body sometimes, you diss your feelings. All of that is an illusion, all of that is misidentified. But what's real is some version of the nowness where you're floating in the clouds scapes like we're birds or something? And you're having some experience of this absolute field of enlightenment, as though there is such a thing, as though we're not in process, as though it's not a relative experience? To me it's a big lie. So then people are going, "Wow, I get to be in the now." It gets... And the trick is we do get a little bit of relief when we get access to these techniques because they do pull us up but out of that worry-mind. Alright, I get that. But you have to look a little closer because then they go farther, they're actually taking you farther and farther away from your humanness and it's particularly dangerous for trauma survivors who really need to have a sense of intactness and integration and we're being led in the direction of dissolution of the ego, denial of the story, um, dishonoring of their feelings, all of it is unreal and untrue. And you know what,  what really got me going in this in 2013, someone I new on Facebook hung themselves after they'd bought into all these new cage and patriarchal notions of spirituality, fired their therapist and when their stuff kept haunting them in the middle of the night, they had nobody to turn to because now they had dissed all of that, and then they ended up hanging themselves and they announced it in advance, it was very clear what was coming. And I called the cops and tried to get them to go and they went and they couldn't do anything and then they hung themselves and that's when I really began to understand, and I'm understanding in my "Grounded Spirituality" discu-discussion group on Facebook. You hear these stories about how these bullshit versions of spirituality have damaged and destroyed lives, you know, and then you, you feel, I have felt compelled to find a voice that I'm not comfortable sharing in an effort to try to encourage us in the direction of a new spirituality not one that was fostered by men who couldn't admit their fucked up ness and had to go into meditation caves and convinced a village that they were the enlightened masters, that we're bringing great wisdom for twenty years sitting in a meditation cave being served by the villagers. That nonsense is ridiculous, that doesn't bring us into integration with ourselves or with humanity and now I think we need to move in the direction, as sacred activists, to bring ourselves into integration spiritually just like we're trying to bring everything else into integration. 

Neil Sattin  Can you draw a distinction for me, between what, how what we're talking about is spiritual, and sacred, since you just used that word vs. just, I'm going to a body centered therapist healing my old traumas. 

Jeff Brown  Mmmm, reframe the question? 

Neil Sattin  So in other words. How is what you're talking about different than, like if I were able to go to see, I know Alexander Lowen is no longer with us, but if I were able to go with him, is that in and of itself a spiritual experience? Or is there something more that's part of the spirituality that you're talking about? The grounded spirituality. 

Jeff Brown  So, so, I'll give you my Alexander Lowen moment because I was beginning to now to question the very beginning of, what is spirituality? So I brought it to him. I think it was in our last session I said, "So, Al, what is this thing they're talking about? About spirituality. What does this even mean?" You know, and he went: "UFFF." Like he was annoyed by the question and he said, he said, he said, "Going into your body, enlivening your body, getting your body grounded, and spirited. That's spirituality." So I think for me anything that we do that brings us into a more complete experience of reality, I would call a spiritual experience. I mean everything is spirituality. Spirituality is reality for me.  My opposition is simply to anything that's calling itself spirituality because of the way that I define it as reality. Those things that are only limiting our experience to certain elements of the human equation while dissing and disconnecting and boundarying themselves against the other part of it, to me are not actually part of the spiritual experience. So, the real spiritual teacher, if anyone is a spiritual teacher and really I say later in the book really nobody is. But you know for me somatic psychotherapists came closer to that because I felt that because they were taking me into my body and into the body of my experience and through that portal I had more access to a broader and inclusive experience of reality that felt more like a spiritual teaching than going to a non dual meeting and sitting in a Satsang, and accessing one very particular, elitist notion of what it means to be a human being while disconnecting from and dissing all the rest. 

Neil Sattin  Got it. I'm wondering if you could offer one of the exercises from your book, so that our listeners can get a flavor for the kinds of experiences that we're being invited into. 

Jeff Brown  Yeah, I have one called the excavation meditation. In "The truth is the gateway to the moment," chapter so I'll read that. 

Neil Sattin  Okay great. 

Jeff Brown  Great. Maybe you can do it, Neil. "Sit on a chair on the floor or on a cushion in whatever position feels most comfortable. While sitting do not close your eyes or focus your gaze directly ahead or above you. Instead keep your eyes opened and focus downward looking directly and with great curiosity at your body temple. Gaze at your body as you would a loved one. Begin to make contact with your breath, inviting it into awareness, feeling it move through you. First, start with gentle breathing as if you are gradually warming up. Then, invite your breath to move strongly and pointedly throughout your body infusing your body with life force, pushing into and beyond tightly held regions if you feel resistance do not hesitate or recoil. Breathe even stronger. If you feel emotions do not merely watch them as they float past. Instead immerse yourself in them deepen into feeling, inviting all held emotions and memories to be fully felt. Use the breath as an excavation tool. With your breath purposefully dig deep. Your aim is to bring repressed material to the surface, where it can be released and reintegrated. Allow this meditation to become a kind of visceral physical landscape of feeling and sensation. If there are tears, feel into and move them, to the extent that you can. If there's anger feel into and move it, to the extent that you can. If there are words or sounds express them fully. If you find yourself turning toward your habitual meditation style that includes a focus on the sensations of the body, return to the breath and intensify it. If you find yourself getting distracted by thoughts return to the breath and intensify it. If you find yourself wanting this exercise to end, return to the breath and intensify it, whatever arises return to the breath and intensify it. Your breath is your excavation tool and your guide. Now you are not just watching the body as it contracts and expands, you are fully experiencing and inhabiting the body, feelings, emotions, sounds, sensations, textures, roars, all and everything. Stay with this process until you have fully abandoned the watcher and have become a full bodied total experiencer feeling, moving, expressing and releasing as fully as you can." 

Jeff Brown  So I think for me you know this notion of monkey mind was very interesting, you know, it was like, OK I've got a monkey mind and I, so, when I wrote "Soulshaping,"  I was kind of a little bit more in that version of spirituality and talked about the monkey mind, and then I began to realize that really it was a monkey heart. You know, that focusing on the mind, getting inside of the mind, witnessing the mind, having various meditative, meditative techniques within the mind itself didn't seem to get me anywhere. I was just sort of going into one part of the mind to try to calm down another part of the mind. It felt like a very safe and irrational way to go about it, because when I went down into the body when I opened the material in this this armored temple of mine, I excavated feeling. I excavated sound. I excavated the need to rage or cry or whatever came through me. At the end of those discharges, I felt as though my mind completely calmed down. So it seemed very clear to me that this notion, this patriarchal notion, that everything is happening up high, and the mind is to blame for everything, which seems to be at the root of almost all of those spiritualities, if you read them, they're always blaming the mind, seemed to me to be a very safe and convenient thing, it was like talking to Michael, it was like Michael was at a safe place, was like how women have been perpetually frustrated by men who haven't accessed their feelings -- it was all the same thing. 

Jeff Brown  It was like a little boy who, who, who had pain and and didn't want anyone to know he was in pain so he, he picked up the Captain America shield and said, "I am Captain America," became a master. To me all of this mastering the mind nonsense didn't seem to get me anywhere. The only way that I ever changed anything inside of my mind really fundamentally was to change something inside of my heart and I think at the heart of patriarchal -- grounded spirituality is the belief not only that we live inside of the body, and through the body is a portal to all of it, but also that we understand the importance of clearing this emotional debris that obstructs our, our lense, that obstructs our presence. That makes it impossible-possible for us to actually be in the now. We could be in the now in a cerebral sense. We could be in the now in a tangible literal sense, but in a felt sense if we're not in the now we're not in the now at all. 

Neil Sattin  So I'm sitting with all of your words and also just with my experience from being guided through that process earlier and. And it rings true for me on the show I've recently had a triumvirate of AEDP therapists. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that modality but it's, I wouldn't, it's not body centered, per say, but the whole focus in that modality is on healing early attachment wounds relationally, through, with your therapist and they, they bring this whole skill set of co-regulation that I've found really helps me access these deep places, these deep wounded places, and heal in relationship with another person. 

Jeff Brown  Great. 

Neil Sattin  And at the same time what that process is with those, with that therapy has helped me see is just how much I am carrying around at any given moment. And you know I'm 45 years old. I've got probably, at least 45 years of things coming at me crosswise and it's not that everything has come at me crosswise, there, I've had a lot of blessed experiences in my life as well. 

Jeff Brown  Right. 

Neil Sattin  But those crosswise experiences I wouldn't say that I had the proper support as a kid to really handle those big feelings and I don't think many people do. 

Jeff Brown  Right. 

Neil Sattin  And so the technique that you just offered with connecting with the breath and, and you know, I loved how it started and even though I read it in your book I still like, when you said, when you invited me into the exercise, first thing I did was close my eyes you know and then the next thing you said was, open your eyes, and it was just like pretty amusing for me. And, and then I felt like by going through it, it really did help me access something that's here within me now. And you know for me it was this sense of, "Oh there are some tears there." Like I said I've been going through some challenges right now, some personal discovery that that's been like really eye opening for me as I look back over the landscape of my life. And so here in this moment I was super present to some, some grief and, and it was mixed with love that invitation to be looking at my body temple, as you name it. I think how also helped me connect with not only the sadness I was feeling in that moment but also the love that I had for this vehicle, this vessel for my, for my earthly experience. So I'm, I'm really just appreciating I, I felt within me like, OK if I weren't sitting here talking to you for the purposes of having a podcast like there, there are real deep aspects of that experience that I could have gone into and that moment right. 

Jeff Brown  Right. Right. And end of an end for all kinds of various reasons we, we don't you know or we can't. Even though I could probably easily hold the space for that. And as you could for me, I think. You know we our adaptations and you know survivalist tendencies and practical response, all that stuff. You know, one thing I understand, it's very simple in a way when I think about this thing called spirituality, is that everybody I've ever known as part of this human collective at this stage of human development is carrying an enormity of unresolved individual, very personal and ancestral material collected material and you know we approach this question of, What is Enlightenment? What is awakening? All these kinds of things. And it seems kind of preposterous to me, and I actually mean that with some compassion, that we try to answer these questions when we're not actually fully inhabiting our bodies. When we're walking around in these deeply armored and obstructed temples and then trying to ask the question, what has meaning? You know, what has, what is awakening. What does it mean to be an enlightened or enlightening consciousness? What is enrealment? All these things if we don't begin within clearing the emotional debris that obstructs us and affects our beliefs and our behaviors and our energies and our, and our relationships. I mean we see this all over the relationship field where at this stage of human development it's all most people can do to figure out who they are individually, let alone try to work it out with another person in the room for 30 years. I mean if you think about it it's a great miracle when two people can survive 30 years or even 30 days together given the amount of material we're carrying. And so for me and it's kind of simple. Before we go farther into the question of what is the most expanded consciousness, we need to clear the debris.  You know it's like trying to see what a room looks like when the room is completely filled with garbage, you can't. You can see the dimensions, maybe the size of it, but you can't really get a sense of that room. And I think that that's where we are. And I think that the more techniques we develop, not to pull us up and out, sure, for survival purposes. Sure, when we need to disassociate because sometimes we do, and I honor that and I've employed those techniques. I still do, I'm employing them right now in the last couple of weeks but at the same time until we start to develop takes to techniques, like Peter Levine's work, like Logan's work, that really bring us down into the truth of what we're holding not calling it a pain body like it's a car part, but acknowledging our tender woundedness and the tender woundedness of the collective. Finding ways to get into that material, to hold it safely, individually, collectively, therapeutically. Move it through so that it's resolved transformed whatever can be healed, can be healed, whatever can't be healed is managed. All of that, I don't think we even know what we're talking about when we talk about awakening. I think we're just full of shit to be honest.  And I think that's because we're literally are full of shit and we need to move that debris but before we can begin to access the truer and deeper questions of our lives. 

Neil Sattin  How would you suggest someone know whether or not, because this, this experience of accessing, the, you know, let's say you rise above, you see the, the garage full of boxes and boxes of old stuff and then you're like, Okay, I'm not going to stay in this risen above state I'm gonna go back and I'm going to start cleaning things out, I'm gonna clean house. When do you think someone needs help and support in that realm? Because I think that's you know the illusion that we have about big feelings and this is, I think, part of the cycle is when we're young those big feelings, especially when we're not given a safe container for them. They do feel like they're there too big they overwhelm the system and our nervous systems aren't, they aren't essentially capable of handling them. So, so then we have this irrational fear as an adult that we can't move through them when in fact like going into a feeling like that it does... It comes on strong and then it does subside and leaves you in a better off place, at least that's been my experience. And yet at the same time, I also have this feeling that for some people they may need a container or someone who's there to kind of help hold the space for them to have those kinds of experiences and so how in your opinion how would I know where I was landing on that spectrum? 

Jeff Brown  I mean, I don't know that you would. I mean a great many -- most people walk around you know living far distance from their body. Was that a line from I think it was, Walter Mitty or something: "He lived a fair distance from his body." Um. You know, I feel like what has to happen is this conversation has to be normalized and, within society. And I think it's beginning to happen and I think that it needs to begin to happen in the school system, where, there's some forum created for emotional attunement because we're talking about not being attuned at an early age for a healthy emotional release for supported release within the school, within the classroom, with teachers, with practitioners that are part of that. I think it has to happen in corporate environments where we learn how to attuned to and move material that's preventing us from being most effective. I think we need to have some kind of release chambers on street corners, where people can go inside and smash a cube with a baseball bat and normalize it, normalize healthy anger release, because it's, anger has been so deeply stigmatized that now all of it's restrained, repressed, and gets acted out in all kinds of weird passive aggressive, inappropriate ways. I think we just have to make this part of our every part of society so that attunement and release are normal and are considered to be healthy steps towards a healthy society. And, and then people will be able to gauge themselves. So right now you have people walking into a b- a body centered psychotherapist room who've never really enlivened their body. Who've been adapting, amoring in a million different ways. All they know is that consciousness. That's how they've organized themselves to survive in the crazy world and and then they have the super extreme experience of grounding, opening it. "Oh my God, what is this?" And many of them leave. Many people will go to somatic psychotherapy sessions and never do more than one, because it's, it's not normalized within society. It's startling. It's stigmatized and it's a radical experience of opening in a system that's been closed. So I think it's on all of us to create some kind of a reality where the conversation about how angry I am or I'm at level four in my anger quotient, or I've got grief at Level 2 or however you want to language it, begins part of our day to day conversation. So when people cry in a coffee shop people don't look at them and make faces. They come over and they sit around them and they hold the space for them. Those kinds of things need to happen. I believe they might happen and they are beginning to happen in some ways but not happening quickly enough. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah. Yeah. I agree. 

Jeff Brown  So you and I, so you and I are good examples. So you know it happens between people you know. I mean we're damaged in relationship and we heal in relationships, so here are you and I. I read the meditation not even thinking you might be having an experience of it. You have an experience of it. So then the question is how can I hold the space for that experience for you, so that you actually make some progress internally, resolutionally in a 10 or 15 minute period and model that to humanity and then as we model that to humanity, especially as men, which is so important to model this to men, in particular. And not only but in particular, then we begin to make progress. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah. Yeah, I think that's really true. That's really true. And it feels true also in terms of my experience. You know when I take something like a moment like this and then go out into the world then I start feeling those innately, I'm putting, I'm making the little quote marks with my fingers, those spiritual unity consciousness type experiences and I think they emerge from being really deeply in touch with... 

Jeff Brown  Your feelings. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah. My feelings these real parts of me. 

Jeff Brown  Yeah. This is... I'm not opposed to unity consciousness but I'm not interested in a unity consciousness experience that is limited to a transcendent field. I want my connection to the everything to come from the heart of the body itself and the emotional body. And then it feels like a more sustainable experience. And it actually feels like a more expansive experience for me. And I also feel safer because I haven't had to bifurcate my consciousness to have that experience. So now I'm afraid to come back down to earth and I'm going to crash at some point because you know I'm not bridging the two. If I start from within the body... So, so you know in interacting with Michael in the book was a kind of one of my struggles. It was like, what he's calling awakening or transcendence is something that's very different, may be very different from what I experienced as awakening or transcendence. Because I did it from within my body, my feet grounded on the earth plane. So are we even talking about the same experience? His feels flight, you're more kind of motivated by or intended in the direction of getting away from something, whereas mine felt like it was about really trying to be here for all of it. You know the real "Be Here Now" the one that actually starts within my body, not renaming myself, as Ram Dass did, but as Jeff Brown. Jeff Brown with Jeff Brown story. With my bubbie Frannie Perlove . With my grandfather Zeyta Deela Perlove. 

Neil Sattin  I'm just laughing... 

Jeff Brown  With my very difficult mother Barbara Brown. All of that is real. That is not not spiritual. That is so spiritual that's my lineage. That's my ancestry. That's my flesh and bones baby. And if I'm not in my flesh and bones there's no possible way I can access an awakening consciousness. 

Neil Sattin  I'm just laughing because I'm thinking of the place in the book where you talk about Eckhart totally changing his name and then... 

Jeff Brown  Yeah his name is Ulrich.

Neil Sattin  Right. And then like if names aren't important, then why are people changing their names? 

Jeff Brown  Yeah yeah. He's got this quote about like you know "formlessness over form," it's like, well you know, and "ego is the enemy of the sacred," whatever all these people are talking about. And then they change their names. Well clearly it's important enough for them to take on another name in order to disconnect from their birth -- their name of origin. And you know, I understand the purpose that serves it gives a lot of people a break from what it meant to be, their, their origins. But because their origins are them and their origins are encoded in their bones and in their cells. Changing the name can be a temporary reprieve. But ultimately you still got to come back down to do the work inside of "Ulrich Tolle" and, Ram Dass has to still do the work that is Richard Alpert and Ram Dass  wouldn't disagree with that, I think. You know and that's everywhere in the community. Bhagavan Das's real name was Kermit Michael Riggs. He's walking around carrying everything that's Kermit Michael Riggs. He can call himself whatever he wants, he's still carrying Kermit Michael Riggs and he is Kermit Michael Riggs. So I think you know, if we're going to go down into the body, into the feelings. And I realized because we don't have templates we only have a few models, a few techniques developed, it's very difficult to invite people in this direction because then how do we get them there to stay there because there aren't that many integrated models, most of what we've been calling spirituality is bifurcated and if you really look closely, even yoga was... If you look at its origins it's called "Yoke"  It means unity. But really what they're talking about is a version of unity that gets you away from and perfects the toxic body beast again. It's still dissociative. It's still the bypass. And what we need now and what I try to ignite and support in the call to action is: people, all the people, young people out there who were interested in somatic psych, a lot of them going into inclusivity, begin to co-create models that unite these various techniques that pull us up and out or in a way to look at ourselves through a more expansive lens, whatever we call it, with the desire to be deeply living within our body and healing the trauma that obstructs our consciousness. And finding a way to weave transcendence and imminence into the holy holy what I call a "We-stern" consciousness. The quest for unity consciousness and essence fundamental to Eastern traditions and the quest for a healthy self concept, and a work through, an embodied experience of the moment, that's more fundamental to Western consciousness. And when we find that weave, then we're really going to be here for our awakening. 

Neil Sattin  So I'd like to spend. Our last few minutes together today bringing this into the realm of relationship. And what I'm thinking of is how, in your book, The Evolution of this starts with being in the body and and there are a few other exercises that you offer that are all about accessing what's happened, the material that's happening within you now. And then that leads to this place of that being able to fuel a sense of who we actually are, beyond who we think we are and and mining ourselves for that, the uh, I forget the term that you use for it. But for those aspects of us that are about who we are uniquely able to be in this lifetime in this body. And I think for a lot of people there's this question of their journey found them, let's say to this place of relationship with this person, and then they start wondering well how do I know if this is a true connection, where we can grow each other, versus one where we're just going to be trapped in our woundedness together? So I'm curious to know how you would connect this body centered awareness with that question of: Is this the right person? Is this the right choice? Is this like, is this the work worth doing? Because we have all our own material that's right there for us, and then we're in, we can be in choice about the material we want to work on with another human. 

Jeff Brown  Yeah I mean, I mean so the distinction let's say between "woundmates" and "soulmates," or something. Yeah, I mean, I think that you know, I think one of the dangers of the therapeutic revolution with respect to the shadow work that I am encouraging people to do, is that we make the mistake of thinking that every trigger filled connection is worth our while. I don't believe that. That has certainly not been my experience. There, you know, there are certain criterion that would determine whether or not it's worth our while and whether it isn't. And one of the most obvious ones is whether both people are willing to do the shadow work, is the most basic level question, you know. Because if, if they're not if one of them isn't, then you have a problem. You either adapt your consciousness kind of lowest common denominator to the vibration of the person who doesn't want to do the work or you walk away. But even in an experience I've been in experiences where there was a willingness for two people, myself and the other to do the deeper shadow work. But the relationship was like a nexus for so many triggers, both very obviously, individually rooted in individual experience, and all kinds of inexplicable... You know it's so difficult to language collective, ancestral, familial material, that it didn't matter how much work we did therapeutically, there was no way it was ever going to become anything other than painful. And I do not believe that we need to perpetually live in suffering in order to become conscious. I mean, we have to do work within the pain material for sure. So, I think that you know as you move into this kind of consciousness, authentic relating more deeply attuned to your material and the others, you have to ask the question, is this the kind of experience where for whatever reason without having to judge it, perpetually, we're not going to be able to move our way through this to transformation in a way that feels healthy positive and forward moving? Or is this the kind of connection that has the hope of becoming what I call a "wholemate," you know a connection that really has that more subtle, essential, soulful quality to it. And the same time is grounded in the real world in the day to day life experience and also in the working through the shadow material in a way that's forward moving. And you have to always ask that question, because not every connection, even with the best of intentions is a connection that's going to allow you to grow and evolve. 

Neil Sattin  In your book you offer "the beloved meditation exercise" and I don't think we necessarily have the time and space to go through that whole thing right now. But I think it's it's actually a great, it's a great way I think to explore that question from a centered place. 

Jeff Brown  Yeah. And from an embodied place. Not as a concept. You know, I had a cousin who kept asking me if a relationship, every relationship he'd say he'd asked me if it was a fit. Like I knew I would say, well you know I'd say I don't know, how do you feel? He go, "Well I think..." And I'd go: You're not answering it from I think you keep trying it's not working you need to go into your body. He didn't want to go into his body. He was very, very detached from his body and only when he finally did have a forced, kind of a forced embodiment experience, as the trauma built and built and built into kind of like a breakdown. Did he actually come to access the answers that he actually had and always knew and always carried as to whether a particular connection he was in was a fit for him. It has to happen all of it inside the body so with the beloved meditation, my effort in a way was to try to invite people inside of that temple in order to ask that primary question whether or not that connections really a fit going forward. 

Neil Sattin  Right. And it's questions like, now I have it in front of me: Is this person still part of my future? Are there still lessons we need to learn from each other? Or are we complete together? Are there lessons I now need to learn on my own outside of this present relational form? Are we meant to walk together in the coming moments? Or is it time to take leave of each other? I mean these are great questions and they have to be answered from a place where you're fully... 

Jeff Brown  Feeling. 

Neil Sattin  Exactly. Like if they're, if those answers are coming from a place of fear then we already know what the answers are gonna be. 

Jeff Brown  You can, you can answer a question about whether someone's a fit for you from your mind if you want to do a practical pros and cons list or something. But if you're asking the question of how you feel you can't answer that question conceptually, you have to enter into that very scary terrain for most of us which is the emotional and physical body. And to me, they're kind of synonymous, and drop down into that and let your body tell you what your answers are. And that's why a lot of people remain stuck, you know, and then they go and they go to a workshop experience, that has in it a body component at the end of it they know whether or not to end their relationship or not, or to go deeper because they finally access their body which is very hard to do in our cultural, overstimulated, survive, by your wits, culture. We have to have an experience of the body in order to figure out what direction to walk in our lives. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah and I'm... It's interesting for me. We, Chloe and I, actually have this whole practice of using muscle testing and kinesiology to to tap into the body wisdom. And at the same time, I'm, I'm curious to see how these deeper and deeper emotional excavations will inform the body's wisdom, when we're asking those questions. 

Jeff Brown  Yeah. Yeah. There's such important questions and they're not just about relationships. They're about, you know, I use the term, "truthaches," in the book, in "Soulshaping," because there are many indicators we're off-path and the way we again determine that, is we do something embodied, whatever that happens to be. Osho's dynamic meditation, holotropic breathwork, some Somatic Experiencing work. You know, bioenergetics your core energetic sessions, core energetics is amazing also and something you know that allows you to really enliven the body and let the body speak its truth. It wants to. And that's what it's built for. 

Neil Sattin  Right you've got to help your body speak, and then tune yourself so that you're actually listening to what your body's saying. 

Jeff Brown  Right on. 

Neil Sattin  Well, Jeff I really appreciate you're here being here to join us again on Relationship Alive to talk about your work the book, "Grounded Spirituality," is a fascinating journey of a book and I appreciate that you gave me the time because we were actually in dialogue about when to do this conversation, that you gave me the time to really explore it, and try things out and it was helpful for me in my personal life and in being able to have this conversation with you. Of course because it's a really long book we could talk a lot longer, but I think I always have that feeling with you honestly that there's, there's always more to say which leaves me excited for the next conversation. 

Jeff Brown  Great. 

Neil Sattin  So thank you so much for joining us here today. And if people want to find out a little bit more obviously, they can pick up the book "Grounded Spirituality," and how else can they find out about you and your work? 

Jeff Brown  They can check out soul-shaping-dot-com, my older site. There's some course downloads and things there are lots of stuff to read. Soul-Shaping-Institute-dot-com. I've got a couple of writing courses coming up writing your way home courses and my new Jeff-Brown-dot-co, web site will be up soon. I'm very excited about that and start doing a lot more video, start a podcast and all that and just join me on Facebook and Instagram and there all the time and interactive. And thank you Neil. I appreciate your support. 

Neil Sattin  My pleasure. And just a quick additional plug for your writing course. Those are all about using writing as a vehicle for healing and finding your authentic expressed, grounded voice, right?

Jeff Brown  Absolutely. I hold a very tight and safe container for people to excavate their material and write through it, and bring it in the direction of healing without any emphasis on perfect writing or perfect grammar any of that stuff. It's... There are some people who do the course and don't join the Facebook private group and go off and write and write books and a number of my students have been published but the Facebook group component, which is about 60 percent of the student body for each course, is really focused on helping to support one another to just say and to express the things they've never ever felt permission to express before so it's a really beautiful experience. 

Neil Sattin  Such important work. And again if you are interested in finding out more, you can get all the links to Jeff's websites etc. through the show notes page which you can get at, Neil-Sattin- dot-com-slash-grounded, as in "Grounded Spirituality, where you can text the word "Passion" to the number 3-3-4-4-4 and follow the instructions. And thanks again Jeff for being with us today. 

Jeff Brown  Thank you Neil. Appreciate it. 

 

Aug 9, 2019

Can people really change? And how do you know if someone *will* change? It's a good question, especially if you're dealing with some significant challenges in your relationship. You might be wondering about your partner - or you might be wondering about your own ability to do things differently, especially if you feel stuck in a rut. In this episode, we'll tackle how change works. What are the requirements for creating changes that actually stick? What's realistic when it comes to the pace of change? And how can you tell if someone else is truly going to do what it takes for change to happen? I want to inspire your hope and faith, while at the same time painting a realistic picture of what change looks like, without the hype.

Come see Relationship Alive - LIVE! with John and Julie Gottman, on October 12th in Portland Maine. You have the chance to ask us *your* questions - and get answers. Visit neilsattin.com/liveshow for more information.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Beautiful jewelry, exquisite craftsmanship, sustainable sources, and affordable prices. Get $75 OFF your purchase at hellonoemie.com when you use the coupon code "ALIVE". With free overnight shipping and free returns, you can see something online today, and try it on tomorrow risk free.

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

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Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Jul 24, 2019

When looking to change things in your world, how do you let pleasure be the force that guides you? How do you fulfill desire while you fight for change? How do you take care of yourself while you transform? And how do you allow organic, sustainable change to emerge in your life - without feeling like you have to force things? Today we’re speaking with author, activist, and healer adrienne maree brown. Her most recent book, the New York Times bestseller “Pleasure Activism”, leans into black feminist traditions to challenge you to rethink the groundrules of how to facilitate change in your own life, and in the world around you. In this episode, you’ll hear more about how adrienne came to this work, and her thoughts on how to be imperfect, yet honest, in relationship. You’ll learn how to bring true integrity into your relationships - and ways to ensure that your health and wellbeing aren’t compromised while you grow and transform. 

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Sponsors:

Beautiful jewelry, exquisite craftsmanship, sustainable sources, and affordable prices. Get $75 OFF your purchase at hellonoemie.com when you use the coupon code "ALIVE". With free overnight shipping and free returns, you can see something online today, and try it on tomorrow risk free.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Visit adrienne maree brown’s website to learn more about her books and her other projects.

Pick up a copy of Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown on Amazon.

Listen to Episode 12 on the Healing Justice podcast for a Somatic Centering practice.

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Visit www.neilsattin.com/amb to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with adrienne maree brown.

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Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host Neil Sattin. I want to start by saying that I believe in the power of synchronicity. I believe that when synchronicities happen it means something. And so to me it meant a lot when I was walking into a bookstore with a new friend of mine in New York City and she grabbed this book off the shelf and she said, "Given what we've just been talking about how you want to make this huge impact with your work and with the Relationship Alive podcast you need to read this book." And she handed me a book called "Emergent Strategy" by adrienne maree brown. 

adrienne maree brown: Oh wow. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And after reading that book and being so moved by what I read there both in terms of the promise that it holds for how our lives can unfold in a way that's really organic and natural and suited to who we are as people and also how that can impact the communities that we form whether it be our micro communities our family, our friends, or our larger communities, the movements that we become a part of and how we create change in this world. It was just super inspiring to me and I was delighted to see that adrienne was coming out with a new book called "Pleasure Activism," which just hit the New York Times Bestseller List and I thought you know what, like, I have to talk to this person and hopefully they'll talk to me. So. So I reached out and fortunately here we are today to talk to adrienne maree brown, who is a social justice facilitator, focused on black liberation, a doula, healer and a pleasure activist and a coach. And the list goes on and on. And honestly I can relate and I love that about... 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: About her work. And so we're gonna be here to talk about emergence and pleasure and how this all unfolds in the world of relationship. The relationship you have to yourself, the relationship you have to your beloved or beloveds, and the relationship you have with the world. As usual we will have a detailed transcript of today's episode which you can get if you visit Neil Sattin-dot-com-slash-A-M-B as in adrienne maree brown or you can always text the word "passion" to the number 3 3 4 4 4 and follow the instructions. And that will get you the transcript and the show notes and all that good stuff. 

adrienne maree brown: Oh cool. 

Neil Sattin: I think that's it. So adrienne, thank you so much for being here with us today on Relationship Alive. 

adrienne maree brown: Thanks for having me now. I'm excited that a podcast it's about relationships in this way, exists. So I'm like yay! Let's talk about it. 

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Yeah I've been thinking about a good way to dive in without asking you like a ridiculously broad question, but I might have to start with a ridiculously broad question.:. 

adrienne maree brown: You're like, I tried! I can't. It's ok. What's the  ridiculously broad question. 

Neil Sattin: Well. Yeah. So let's start with this idea about pleasure and activism and what does it mean to have pleasure be the center of how one operates in the world?

adrienne maree brown: For me, you know, I got this terminology, was taught to me and I learned the words from an organizer named Keith Cyler, who was the founder of something called "Housing Works," that's based in New York that raises resources and all kinds of resources like financial resources, but also does trainings and other things like that for people who are dealing with house-lessness, dealing with HIV, AIDS. And I was really moved by his genius and his work. But, one time we were just sitting around having a good time and he talked to me about this terminology "pleasure activism," and it stuck with me over the years so I kept being like "Oh. Like what could that mean? What could that mean? What could that mean?" And especially as I I grew, you know, I've always been very aware that there's a lot in the world that is broken that is hurting that is traumatized, and inside of that reaching for how are we meant to connect with each other? And somewhere in there this idea of pleasure activism kept returning to me as I was doing voter organizing, returning to me as I was learning about harm reduction, returning to me as I was supporting people to do direct action, nonviolent civil disobedience. It just kept coming back. And when I was working on my last book emergent strategy, I had to include it as a concept and I wasn't sure at that point like am I going to flesh this all the way out? Like there's a lot here. But then at some point I was like, "Let me just.... Like what would it look like." You know, what would it look like to actually flesh this out? And I had been reading Audrey Lorde's text "the uses of the erotic:: as power," which I got permission to reprint in this book. And I really loved her use of the erotic. And yet I just kept coming back to this idea of pleasure. Like that pleasure includes the erotic, but also includes a lot of things that may or may not be erotic, and so I was like, what is pleasure. And I looked up and its just like happy, joy and satisfaction. And I was like, "Gosh it seems so simple and yet there's so much resistance to it. There's so much fear of it there's so much control of it. And. And for those of us who are like actively trying to change the world in some way there's a denial of it, right? Like it's like, "We are not allowed to have that. We need to be fighting for this you know future that's off in the future somewhere.". 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

adrienne maree brown: And I just remember landing and like. Wouldn't it be so radical to listen to Audrey Lourde had taught us about engaging the erotic now, engaging our full aliveness, in this moment. And for black women who, you know, that's who is at the front of my mind when I wrote this text, you know, I was like there's a lot that has intentionally cut us off from our relationship with joy and happiness and pleasure and contentment and satisfaction. It's been trained into us that we're not allowed to have those things so I got very... Then I got very light lit up with this idea, that I was like, "Oh what if we could have these things? Like what if it's a measure of our freedom to reclaim pleasure?" And so that kind of sent me off down this path that has been really exciting. And you know it's interesting because activism in general is not where I land right? Like I, I've often been like I'm an organizer! And for me the distinction you know, I think activists or folks who are really like advocating for something like using their public sphere to advocate for something, going and talking to friends. Organizers to me or folks who are like, "I'm actually trying to move a strategy amongst the people." Right? Like I'm going to go find those who are not going to just easily be reached and I'm going to knock on their doors and I'm going to find out what they need and and build an analysis and a vision together. And so you know it's like, "OK is activism OK for this? And it felt like actually for this, it is it is important that as many people in the world as possible begin to come out and advocate for all of our rights to have pleasure to have pleasure be an organizing principle of how we structure our relationships in our society. And then it starts with reclaiming our own, and moves out from that place. So I'm excited that it exists. I'm excited that it came together and then I've been really blown away by the responses. So I'm like, OK this... I really for a while was like, "This is not the time to be putting out right now. We need something about justice or we need something about like you know I kept having this strategic idea around if this current administration is starting fires all over the place. I kept thinking like, how do we conjure up water? How do we vaporize ourselves in some way to come up and over and rain down on them? And I was like, I got to go write that strategy book or whatever. And then I realized I was like, "Oh this is actually it," in a way? 

Neil Sattin: This is that book. 

adrienne maree brown: This is actually that book and that's been clicking to me that I'm like: This is it. This is the way that we become more powerful through pleasure, through what we can release rather than what we can contain. So. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: I love it. It's to me... What was I mean there are so many threads that came together for me as I was reading the book, and even just in hearing you speak right now. Primarily, that way that people are so.... Many people, I should say are so exhausted right now, with with just the state of affairs and.... 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: ...that's political, it's environmental it's economic. There is a lot that's taxing us and that's something that regenerates us when we can find the sources of pleasure within us and in how we connect with the world that I think allows us to bring more of ourselves to the world and and also highlights the places where we are denying ourselves or denying others that inalienable right for... 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: ...the experience of joy. 

adrienne maree brown: That's right.:I mean it blows my mind to really think about, like, what people what people have survived, like often when I stand in a room of people and I'm giving a speech or a talk or a training or something. There's a lot of me that's present with that moment but then there's also a part of me that's kind of thinking about all the lineages of all these human beings and how some of them in this moment have landed in a place of power, or privilege, and some of them haven't ended up in a place that's not that. But that those lineages all include some survival, some fighting to exist some taking a risk, some you know, moving out into the world with an unknown response you know, like we don't know what's going to happen here. We don't know if we're heading the right way. We don't know if we're going to survive and that there have been so many things that have have you know, like so much of our human history has just been about surviving, right? Just like can we make it? And so there's something interesting to me now to be like, I think I think we have shown that like oh we could make it like we could figure this out. We could be on this planet technically. But what is the life worth making it for? Like, what is worth surviving for?:

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: And now I think we're actively in that question. That is like, all of us deserve this relationship to pleasure. And when you look at like who thinks they deserve it or who is encouraged to have it, it's actually a very narrow small grouping of human beings. And I think that's because of capitalism. You know, I really think that as an economic system, capitalism thrives when we believe that we are not good enough and that we need to buy something outside of ourselves in order to experience pleasure. And I love the trick of it which is like, if you actually just drop down into your own body, which is the only thing in your entire life that you ever truly have, from the beginning to the end, if you just drop down into it, it's wired for pleasure. And those wires may have been crossed, you know, there may be some like dysfunctional parts of it because of trauma, because of pain, because of... which I now, also when I meet everyone, I'm like, 'I know you have some trauma," right? Like, I know you have some. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah no one escapes that. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. I don't know what it is. I don't know how severe or central it is to your life, or your life story it is to your life, or your life story. I don't know if you had the resources to recover or not, but I know it's there. And so I think like, "oh." What we're dealing with is like, what is the relationship between that trauma that's everywhere. And this system that's telling us that we can't heal ourselves we shouldn't even feel ourselves. We should just kind of outsource that to something we can purchase. And, and, then how in that do we find a way to be in RIGHT relationship with each other on this planet. Right? So that's the stuff I keep, I keep floating around with us like I want to, I want to leave a world behind me that people like I like I feel very compelled. I want to be here. It feels good, right? And that doesn't mean that I think we will solve the climate crisis in my lifetime because I do think... You know...  I really believe in Gopal Dayaneni, 1who works over at Movement Generation and talks about, like, there's things that we have already set in motion that we are gonna have to face the consequences of as a species. And I don't deny that that's what's coming to us but inside of that I think we also have to be actively fomenting pleasure and actively fomenting like reconnecting ourselves to land and to each other because as the changes happen we're still going to need to be able to feel, feel pleasure, feel satisfaction feel like being here. Otherwise we'll just depress and numb and you know kind of slip away. And I think that would be an unworthy end to our species. 

Neil Sattin: Totally agree with you and a word that popped into my mind that I would like to add to that, is resilience. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: The more that we're embracing our capacity for resilience in terms of how we heal our lineage of trauma. Or present moment traumas in terms of how we make things right when they've gone wrong, and do that in the context where what we're shooting for what we're envisioning is something joyful blissful like that actually has ease and pleasure connected to it. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. Yes. 

Neil Sattin: Then that that makes it worth it and gives us kind of a... I hate to use the word technology, but like a technology of continually adjusting to get there. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: You talk in "Emerging Strategy," about adapability... Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Exactly. Yeah exactly. Yeah. Well, I was just going to say, I was like, yeah. You know, like, to me emergent strategy and pleasure activism really go together like they're holding hands, dancing across the field of ideas and I really think that this this idea of resilience. You know I have a teacher Alta Starr who's always pushing me to be like you know, resilience is beyond even harm, right? It's sort of like this natural capacity we have to learn to adapt, to like grow, to learn from whatever changes come. And it's hard for me because I'm still like "Well. But also when someone hurts us, you know we had to be resilient." And you know it's hard in a city like Detroit because you know resilience can be weaponized. Like if people like you bounce back from anything, like, we'll just keep doing anything to you. Like you know we'll add an incinerator to your neighborhood or whatever you'll be fine. And so I think there's something about, Oh to me, like how do we have a transformative resilience right. How do we have resilience that is not just like we can recover back to conditions that we weren't very happy with in the first place. And being like oh you know when I look at like what am I recovering? I'm recovering something that's beyond my own origin, you know like I need to recover something that goes back past the many hours that my grandmother overworked, and I need to recover something that goes back past my enslaved ancestors, and recover something that goes back past my kidnapped answers, and you know, ancestors, like I feel this long, long, long arc of the work that I'm in right now where I'm like. Almost everyone that came before me was trying to work towards some joy some freedom some sense of safety for their children themselves. And now I am awakened so like I am aware of all of that and I have an option in front of me to be resilient across time and space right. And that feels very exciting. You know, I think as hard as it is to live in this age of hyper connectedness because I think it is really hard. My friend angel Kyoto Williams talks about this, that like, we we are given access to so much more information than we've ever had access to before but we're not given the tools to handle it all, right? Like we're not taught here's how to meditate. Here's how to pass what's overwhelming back to the earth or back to God or back to whomever you trust with it. We're not given those those technologies, right? So we kind of flailing a lot of the time of like, I'm receiving all this, I'm trying to care about all of it and we find ourselves stretched so far but I also think the really beautiful thing about that is like we can see how many people believe what we believe, how many people are trying to practice what we're trying to practice so we can find each other. You know you and I would have never found each other if it wasn't for this modern state of connection. And to be able to say like, "Oh you're out here in Maine fomenting these ideas and I'm out here in Detroit fomenting these ideas and we have very different lineages. And yet we both have arrived in this place where it's like this is a path. This is a way to move forward it's important. Paying attention to relationship is important." And so that you know, that gives me hope inside of the the struggle of this overwhelming moment where there is so much that is hard. It's also there's so much that is overwhelmingly beautiful and overwhelmingly good and there's so many ways that you know also we live on such a resilient planet. So, I often think about this that I'm like, you know, and I feel like I'm trying to remember whoever first said this idea, because I was a Oh snap! That's a game changer! It's like, the Earth is gonna be OK. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Right? Like the earth is gonna be OK. Like, it might be, she might go through an Ice Age or something, but like if we're not here she'll still be OK. And like if we're not here she'll recover from whatever we've done. Like how we've remixed her nature into other kinds of things. And, I don't know if you saw this story came out last week about the white-throated rail, did you see that? 

Neil Sattin: I hadn't but I saw you wrote about it on your on your blog. Yeah.

adrienne maree brown: I was so moved by this. So this like little bird...:The debate is basically this bird re-evolved, right. Like it went extinct at 136,000 years ago, roughly. Because like,  these things are hard to track but like... Now this bird has has re-evolved has come back into existence. The same little -- it's a flightless bird. There's something about that that just I, I read it and I really was like moved in a way I was like, I didn't know I needed to know that that was possible. But, I was like, I need to know that that level of resilience is possible, like somewhere down in the programming of this planet. There's there's some code that's just like white throated rail.: And just because we can no longer see the creature, it doesn't mean that it's, it's disappeared like there's some aspect of it that DNA that's in there. And yeah, it made me feel like OK. Like there's mysteries on mysteries on mysteries when it comes to this planet. And there's so much that we can't understand. And so inside of that I'm like, you know, I love thinking really big grandiose thoughts. But then I try to bring them back down into very small tangible practices. Small ways of being with each other because I'm like, I can't imagine how we'll get through the climate catastrophe that we're in right now. But I can imagine being in right relationship with the planet around me and making better choices about this local place that I'm in and being place based and loving. Even though I travel a lot but I'm like rooting myself into the soil in Detroit in all the ways that I can. Like this is where I bury my compost. This is where I play with children. This is where I go find like where's the Detroit grown foods every summer and I am really cautious now. I've made a major shift in my life around how I produce waste. Like what kind of waste I will put out so that I tried to really shrink down my garbage waste to the, like the very very you know, it's like if I can rinse it and I can clean it off and it can be recycled. It's gonna be recycled if it's food if it can go into compost it goes into compost like I used to have a massive garbage bin that I was putting out. And I'm like I live alone. You know all of that with stuff that like other things can be done with. And now it's like you know a huge portion of what comes out of my home is gonna be recycled and reused again. And, I'm aiming at zero waste. I'm constantly trying to figure out where is and where other places where I can... I just bought this new set of like ziplocks reusable kind of Ziploc thingies, that so you know because I'm a, I'm a fan of Ziploc bags like I'm like you've put anything in a Ziploc bag. You can go anywhere you have it I carry like in my suitcase there's always like five Ziploc bags just like folded just in case because you just never know what you're gonna need a Ziploc bag for. And so I'm like, oh that's a next frontier that I need to like, you know, figure out a way to advance through and I'm like, oh I can do this, right. So anyway all of that to say to me I'm trying in my personal life to get in right relationship with nature and my body is a huge part of that. Like if I'm not in right relationship and respecting the miraculous, like, Stardust nature of my body then how can I even begin to be in my relationship with the rest of the living world. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: So, OK. So first, I'm so moved when I hear you talk about not really being able to read the code but seeing the expressions of the code like.. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: ...the bird coming back into existence from extinction and even when you were describing how you and I could be doing different work in different places and yet here we find ourselves together having this conversation. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: To me that is an expression of the power of something that's ineffiable, that like we can't understand but if we're willing to to follow that path and and follow the ways that it's growing and things are emerging then, then at least that inspires hope in me that there's like an antidote to disconnection, to destruction. 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. 

Neil Sattin: To... 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: ...all the forces that were that were working against and in terms of relationship the ways that people are, you know, experience this desire for closeness and connection. You know part of our, our wiring as you were mentioning earlier is to be connected to each other. 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: And yet, it becomes such a source of pain partly because we either intentionally or unintentionally traumatize each other and then also because of the social structures and their impact on us. When you talk about pleasure and relearning pleasure, getting in touch with your body and and I like that stand that you take for for the personal being political that fractal nature of... 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: ...transformation. I think about how many of us are just kind of following the script of romance and love and sex and pleasure and needing... 

adrienne maree brown: When did you become aware that there was a script? 

Neil Sattin: Oohh. Well that's it's been an unfolding for me, for sure. And I think probably I became most aware of it when I inadvertently hurt someone. And like had no idea that that was happening for them and found out later and then you know, thankfully we've had our moments of amends and talking and all of that. But, in restoring ourselves. That was probably the inception of it. And then all through college. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: And then in my current relationship, I'm so blessed to be with someone who's taken a strong stand for her own boundaries around her own healing, her own trauma. And it forced me to even go even deeper into like, "Well, what am I looking for in relationships?". 

adrienne maree brown: Right. 

Neil Sattin: What am I looking for in sex? Would it like what is this rejection, quote-unquote, that I'm experiencing in this moment and what is that really about? And and so that has forced me to ask deeper questions, and to get progressively more and more honest with myself and with her, to a point where fairly recently I feel like I've hit ground zero. But it's it's a process it's definitely been an unfolding and watching those layers fall away. And then once they do being like, All right well how do I replace this? If I'm going to do sex the way that I thought I should? Or you know I think it was an essay that you wrote where you mentioned a babysitter who was watching Porky's when you were... 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And the way those things inform our sense of, of what's what's erotic, what turns us on, all of that. Once I peel those things away and come back to, this moment and what's real. Well... 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That's what my journey has been like and I've, I've certainly tried to surface that a bunch here on the podcast and and I'm really excited to hear your thoughts about that unfolding for yourself and, and you mentioned meditation earlier. Yeah. What are the the pathways into, kind, of breaking down the, the unhealthy learnings? And coming back into right relationship with with ourselves as relational, sexual, erotic, pleasure oriented being? 

adrienne maree brown: Beings, right? I feel like... a couple of things. I mean I think one is, there was a period of time where I was, I was really convinced that sex didn't have anything to do with me or what I was feeling. Like, I was really like what is the other person feeling and like that's that's what's important right now. And like my job is to make sure that that experience is a whole good one. Right? And, and I feel like, I remember like, there's just moments in most of its relational right. Like most of it is like just other people reflecting something back. And it's like "Girl, it doesn't had to be like that." You know? People talking to me, reading stuff. I remember reading the work of Andrea Dworkin. Have you read her? Like she she talks pretty scathingly about marriage and pornography and like, a lot of things that I was just I took for granted, were like those are good things that you try to get to in life. And, I don't agree with everything, you know, I feel like there's a lot of brilliant thinking in what she said and I feel like there's also not a lot offered of like here are other true pleasures, you know, like here's the ways to get them. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: But there was something that blew open for me where I was just like, I want to be able to consider this. I want to be able to consider that everything I was told about where pleasure in my life would come from and, or,  was, was and wasn't allowed. That maybe all that is wrong. Right? And then Audrey Lorde's writing, Octavia Butler's writing. There were just all these different people who were giving me. It was never just about sex. It was never just about the body. It was alway, have a revolution about how you think about how things work in the world. Start to ask questions and get curious about who benefits from these systems. Right? So, I remember, I remember having a quest-, you know, a conversation with a friend about marriage and just being like, who benefits? Who benefits in marriage, right? And, uh, and being pretty like oh my gosh. No one should ever get married. I was like, "No woman should ever get married!" Like I felt very strongly like, Nope it's not, it's just not a good idea. Like you will work forever in a labor that will never ever get acknowledged. You will not be able to pursue passion, work, things that you actually care about. You'll not be respected in the process. And then you know, and then he'll cheat on you. Like this is the arc of  it, right? Because you know he'll need something younger and prettier and he's worked you out, right? And I remember having that conversation as like, NO! You know? Like, and then be like well no that's just one way that's a model that is... The system that benefits from that is patriarchy. And if I can understand that then I can be like let me target patriarchy. Let me... And like I, I'm very lucky that I came across the work of Grace Lee Boggs where she really is like: Transform yourself to transform the world. And this is something I say probably every day of my life. There's some place or some way in which I say this to someone else or to myself. So I was like oh Where is patriarchy in my own practice? Where is patriarchy is showing up in how I'm approaching a relationship? And some of the interesting places were how quickly I would be dishonest for the sake of connection. And I say connection in quotation marks there, right? That I was like Well I don't want to be alone and, like, being alone is a sign of someone who's not a good person or whatever. Right? You have to be like with someone to be like a part of the human experiment or whatever. First you know, that that is...  I no longer believe that, but like you know. But at the time I just like, ok, I don't want to be alone. So I would go out on a date or someone, you know, I feel like I was I feel like I came up like right at the end of dating, also. So it's like right at the end of like when you would actually say, "Let's go on a date to a place and get to know each other." For maybe three or four times we would do that before we are actually alone in either of our places. And you know something else would happen right. I'm like I come from what feels like almost a chaste time before the apps kind of popped off into, just your place or mine. Like what's good? You know? And I talk about apps as if I know what I'm talking about I've never really used that apps to, that's just not how I meet people. But, but, I know that the majority of people in my life that's now how people connect. But so you go out and you're having these initial conversations and my practice was to just kind of listen for what I thought the other person really wanted to hear and then delivered that somehow. And you know, I grew up as a military brat. I moved like roughly every two years, so you get really good at figuring out like what is the, what are the rules here, and how do I adapt to be safe within them? And it can be hard when you get good at that to also be like. And then what is what is fundamental to me like what is the me that I'm also carrying to each place that needs to adapt? And the same thing in dating like what is the me that's showing up? And like might adapt in some relationship but like why am I rushing to not just adapt, but like completely contort into something? Why am I so desperate for being in relationship that I won't even be there? Like I wanted it to be me that shows that. Yeah. So I feel like I had rounds and rounds of that and it never worked. I kept having this heartbreak, that was really almost never about the other person. But it was about facing how much I had contorted to get in the door, and then how little I actually wanted to be inside that house, right? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Whatever house it was. And so, I feel like I took... 

Neil Sattin: Which by the way is a super common problem that people have. 

adrienne maree brown: It's every, it's everywhere. You know when, I do a bunch of you know like you said coaching and mediation and stuff like that, and I find like that is the number one thing. That's the number one thing is that people are like you're just not who you've said were. 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

adrienne maree brown: And how could you not be who you said you were? And how could you not uphold the promises that you made? And it's just like I was lying. I was, I wasn't even there. Like I don't even know I'm sorry. You know. 

Neil Sattin: Right. And then there's that additional layer of oh wait a minute. Now we also have to deal with your shame around who you... around your truth. yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Exactly. And it's the shame and the still absence of yourself. Right? So, so often. Now I've been doing a lot of support for people who are in their mid 30s to 50s and a lot of the folks I'm supporting are going through major breakups of fundamental relationships. And it's interesting because they're like who am I? Like, who am I? You know like so much was defined in relationship to this other person? And that's how so many people get trained to become themselves. It's like now, now I'm ugly, I'm half of something, and now that's who I am. And so much of the work is being like; "You're a whole something. You're a whole something." And I think the thing I'm always watching out for is not to send people all the way to the other side of the pendulum, right.:To me the personal is political only as it relates to being part of a collective effort to be political about what is personal, right? So I feel like this is you know someone was asking me I did an interview yesterday, and they're like what about the GOOP, like what about the like white women taking bathes, or whatever. And I was just like "Yeah. Like you know that so much of self care is about that. It's like white people with privilege go off to the spa and that's when you know, often, I mention to people they're like, I'm not about all that, you know? And I'm just like, "Yeah I I don't think that that's political, necessarily, either right?" I think it becomes political in relationship to your identity. I think it becomes political in relationship to the community you're a part of and how you're making sure that everyone has access to the beautiful good parts of life, right? And so you know I'm part of a community. I'm part of many communities. And there's a particular community I call the goddesses. And it's a bunch of women, we all went to school together. Right now everyone's like slaying dragons in all these different fields of life, and we have started to really, like, have each other's backs and hold each other down in a way that like we didn't know how to necessarily do back then. Right. But we've rediscovered each other and been like we need to like all you know like how about half of us, half of the people are moms. And so it's like we need to go places where like everyone here gets to relax and be taken care of. That we get to be part of something that's close knit and intimate, but that we get to have massages or we get to be in a hot tub or we get to you know just cook for each other or take each other out to the best places we can find to eat. And like, there's so many small pleasures that feel really important, like it wouldn't be great for me if I was just like I'm over here living my best life and all my sisters were out here struggling. Like, I don't think that that's a way towards freedom, right? For me it's very important that as I have access, I increase access for everyone else and I particularly increase access for those who have less access than me. Like that to me as part of the political commitment I'm in for my lifetime.:

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. There's... I'm just thinking here about the, uh, the commodification of self care and I think that's part of what you're talking about, right? Is that like... 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. Capitalism!

Neil Sattin: You actually have to... Yeah. There it is again. There it is again.

adrienne maree brown: it's always there. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: One thing that popped up for me when you were talking about structures and like, I would never get married! And you know and then and then that sense of like well OK. It's just the system and who does it benefit and maybe there's a time and a place. What popped up for me was this question around the dance between safety and I think it was because you mentioned, you know, when going out on a date, like part of what's happening there is deciding, Am I safe with this person? 

adrienne maree brown: Exactly. Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: And. And then that because safety is right up there with connection in terms of something that we, that we require in order to function as humans. That's right. So and that's interesting as you start pulling apart the structures because one thing that marriage can be really good at... 

adrienne maree brown: Is safety. 

Neil Sattin: ...is supporting safety. Exactly. And so how do you start to loosen those tethers in a way that still supports people being held. Because if you're not feeling safe, you're not growing in a way that's probably generative for you you're just like scrambling back to safety for the most part. 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. You know I think I love this question, Neil. I think this is like, this is an essential one. To me it's like, OK how do we balance these things. And a couple of thoughts leap to mind. One is that I think people feel like they have to choose between safety and like, being their whole selves or being their, being in their dignity, like all of it. And that first part, that feels like it's not true. Right, I'm like that's part of the lie that we've been told is that you have to choose. So you can either be safe in a marriage where you don't get to be fully realized as yourself or you can be fully realized as yourself. But like, you know, without that stability and I've seen it, I've seen the case more often than not be that you find that deep safety within yourself. It's a feeling not a story that you're telling about your life, right. Or a projection you're giving for someone else but it's actually like some, a felt sense, like I feel it in my life. Most of my life now, I feel safe right? And I can feel when that changes. Like sometimes I'll be in a space where there's just too many people, too much energy, something's off, you know? And I can feel it and it heightens my senses, it heightens my awareness, it makes me pay attention to what's happening around me. But then I think something like marriage, it's that kind of commitment, what I see so often happening is that people get into it and then they're like, "This isn't the safety that I thought it was going to be," right? Maybe it is for the first month or the first year or even until the first child or whatever, you know. But then there's some moment where that falls away because what you, what you thought you had, was like, I know you and you know me. And what's really happening is you're changing and I'm also changing and so I've officiated a few weddings and one of things that's been exciting is that the people asked me to officiate are like we want to commit to changing together, right. That to me is the kind of commitment that I can get behind where people are like I know this person again and I'm not going to change but I'm so curious about who they are and who they will become and I want to be there for that ride. And so it's not about marriage as entrapment and like catching you into one single identity, or any relationship, because now I'm like, you know I had to get married to be trying to trap someone in your web and I really like the model which I'm sure you've heard of of relationship anarchy. I don't think anything is perfect perfect thing that I really like it because so much of it is like, you know safety. You know, I think you were talking about with safety to me so much of that is rooted in trust. 

Neil Sattin: Mm hmm. 

adrienne maree brown: Right. It's like, Oh I trust that you're gonna do what you say you do. You say you're gonna do. And I trust that I can tell you my truth or whatever it is. And in relationship anarchy, which I think is like someone in Sweden, Andie Nordgren or something like that. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah I forget. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah I have to go look at her name but there's you can look a bit like a "relationship anarchy manifesto." Right. And I love it because it's like trust is something that we build together over time, and like we start out with a default of trust like rather than starting out with the default of like, you've got it, you know like your trust is at zero and you have to like somehow bring it up to a hundred and never let your stuff like, never fuck up like never ever break my trust in anyway, or I'm gonna hold that against you for the rest of time. And I'm like instead you start from a place of like I have an abundant sense of trust for like my place in the world, for what I'm up to in the world, for like the work that I'm here to do, my purpose and then I meet you. And I'm just gonna offer you trust as a human being and what I am counting on is that if you break my trust, then we'll figure out how to recover together. Right? And sometimes that breaking of trust might be, we're not supposed to recover together. You know, like we're sometimes, the breaking of trust will expose something like, you're more committed to... uh... Like I see this happen sometimes where people are like in an open relationship, but still do cheating type behaviors. And I'm like, Oh, OK like great. That's good information, right? Like you're still very committed to a certain kind of secrecy. Maybe that's what turns you on is the forbidden. Something along those lines. And that's not compatible, right, with the kind of relationship that I'm trying to build or whatever kind of relationship this person is trying to build. And so I get really excited about stuff like that, because I like then you in a, you know, then it's like we just got clear about it and like we can trust each other to take the step back and transition into some other form of relationship. Versus, I think what happens now which is like, I offered you a false trust that you could never live up to that I was waiting for you to somehow live up to, you broke it and now I don't, I never want to see your face again. Right? Like you let me down so thoroughly, that I just I don't even want you to exist and I'm like I don't think we have enough people for that way of being with each other. Right? That we can just keep being like if you're not perfect, perfectly trustworthy then I kick you out of my community forever. And I say that you know the same thing you said is that you learn some of this from causing harm. And I'm like I learned from breaking people's trust. Right? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: There are people who I love and care about and I, I broke their trust and I have, I've had to do like a lot of work, a lot of work around like, Am I a trustworthy person? If the answer is No. How would I become a trustworthy person? Right. And again so much of that initial line of inquiry was just like about other people. Like how can I let them know how can I show how can I prove that I'm trustworthy? And of course the answer is I have to be trustworthy. Like I have to be able to feel in myself. And I'll tell you I'll tell you a little example of this. 

Neil Sattin: Sure. 

adrienne maree brown: I was in the airport like last week and I was running through and a lot had been happening and I went and sat down on a bench and there was this coat next to me and I asked around like, "Hey anybody is this your coat." And everybody was like no, you know whoever this coat is they just left this coat here. There's no bag there's nothing else around it. So I let it sit there for a little while and then I'm like Oh the nice coat. It's a nice coat. And so I picked it up to look at it and it's like a designer coat and it happens to be my size, right? So I'm like, This is a very nice gorgeous designer coat that someone just left here on this bench and like who knows if they're ever going to make it back, right? 

Neil Sattin: For you! 

adrienne maree brown: But, that, yeah part of my brain was like a gift from the universe! And I was like. And I picked it up and I looked at it and was like that would not be a trustworthy behavior to just take this coat and move on with life. Right. Like there's a chance that that person is still in this airport and that they're like running back here to get their very expensive, nice coat. Right? Or and, right. They'll call Delta. Like do you know where my coat is? Or whatever it is. So I took it over to the, um, you know where they check you in for the plane. I took it over to one of the guys there and I was like this was left over there. They're like, oh my goodness. You know like that's so sweet, you know. And it was just like, I felt the burden lift off my system that I'm like oh I was about to really just take someone's coat. But I didn't. And it is a small thing, like it's a really small thing that like no one would have known if I had done the wrong thing... 

Neil Sattin: Except you. 

adrienne maree brown: But I would have known. And like trying to get to that place in my life where like I don't make the mistake because it would hurt my integrity and my wholeness and my dignity outside of anyone else's. And even if I know it, that creates a shadow. Like how do I turned to my lover and tell this story? How do I walk into a room where I'm offering people, like let's be trustworthy people, and I'm standing there in a coat that I stole from some poor stranger, right? So to me it's that. It's like is my relationship with myself intact? And then from that place can I be in contact with another person and say, now this is intact? And if it gets harmed I commit to helping us get to intactness and sometimes that looks like a boundary. I keep repeating these words my friend, Prentis Hemphill, made this, made this, had this thought last week and then spread it all over the world basically, but its boundaries are the distance at which I can love you and me, simultaneously. 

Neil Sattin: Mm hmm. I love that. 

adrienne maree brown: And I keep thinking about that that I'm like sometimes... Right? Isn't it beautiful. And sometimes it's like that. It's like sometimes in tactness is at a great distance. It's like we're good as long as you're two thousand miles away from me. We're fine. It's good. Like don't cross that boundary and it's all good. 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

adrienne maree brown: And so I think about that I'm like, you know that's one of the things I talk about in "Pleasure Activism" is like our "No,"  makes a way for our "Yes." Like the good boundaries are actually so crucial for the good relationships. 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. What seems contained too, and what you're offering, is the necessity for healing, like, to recognize like, OK if we're not in right relationship we're all each on a healing journey to getting there. 

adrienne maree brown: Yes. 

Neil Sattin: It's probably rare, the person who's learned, who's reached their 30s or 40s or more, you know, and hasn't experience some sort of disruption of their integrity. 

adrienne maree brown: That's right. 

Neil Sattin: So there's the healing component. There's also the compassion component. Like if I, if I expect you to be perfect and you fail me, and then that becomes this huge breach, then that's a much different problem than I'm trusting you. And I'm also wanting you. Like I'm, I'm willing to be okay with where you and I aren't perfect as long as we can be in full disclosure about that together. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. That's right. 

Neil Sattin: That's the honesty piece. 

adrienne maree brown: I like that. I like that. I feel like that', you know, because I also think about this. Like for people who are like, "Oh no you know I'm sure they're someone's not me I'm good. You know like I know what you're talking about. I don't lie to myself or whatever." Or like, so often the people who seem to be, who have it all together, who have it altogether. Are are in some ways damaging themselves the most like I feel like now I have stopped doing to myself the harm of trying to pretend I am perfect, right? 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. 

adrienne maree brown: And I see it. I mean I feel like that you know when people watch Beyonce's Homecoming, right? Like what was intriguing to me is that she was like I was pushing for perfection and it meant having to like learn all the stuff that I would never do this again. It wasn't perfect it was actually too much that I harmed myself. And but, I pulled this off, but I harmed myself and didn't... Like, there's even stuff like that. Right? I'm like, "Yeah, what are you denying of yourself. That's where you're creating a prison, right, for yourself. You're containing that part of you that wants to be alive and free and moving around. And I'll say I'm part of the generative somatics teaching body. And for me, Somatics has been the healing pathway that has opened so much. And there's a really beautiful episode of The Healing Justice podcast, that has a woman named Sumitra on it, as it was that, they basically the Healing Justice podcast, they do an offer and then they do a practice to follow up on that. And so it's a 30 minute practice something less than that but it's basically this, the core practice of Somatics which is just centering learning how to actually drop into your body and feel and center in real time. And the idea is that you don't center to feel calm or better you center to feel more. that if you can feel more... 

Neil Sattin: Yeah. To feel what is. 

: That if you can feel more, feel what is and feel more of it then you start to have actual agency in real time over the choices you make, over the connections you move towards, over the connections you can start to set real boundaries around, like I can feel when someone is not a good energy to have around me, right. That doesn't mean they don't deserve to have people around them. But it's not going to happen here, right. 

Neil Sattin: Right. 

adrienne maree brown: I'm gonna move towards those people who are like the right energy for me for, for me growing them. And for them growing me. Yeah. Yeah. So I want to offer that because when it comes to healing, I think it helps to be fairly tangible. Like, there's, there's some you know, I feel like that for me. Like I went to talk therapy for a decade or whateve, right? And I've been able to move so much more through being able to feel, because I feel like talk therapy I was still able to stay in my head and tell my stories and tell my lies. And like you know you know, you can do it if your therapist has to be on to you just move on to the next one like, here's my, here's my story, right, or whatever it is. And I just think there's something so beautiful about dropping in and being like I'm feeling, I'm in a community of people who hold me accountable to being able to feel myself. And even now like I've been touring this book I land in a new city, and I run into someone who's also a Somatic practitioner and they hold me and they're like Are you good? Are you centering? Are you good? How are you feeling? You know and I know that they really care and they want to know. And in that moment I can feel the connection and my aliveness just expand. 

Neil Sattin: So important. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: adrienne maree brown thank you so much for your words today for joining us. I know we could talk for easy another hour. You don't have the time, at least not today. Hopefully we can chat again at some point. That would be special. 

adrienne maree brown: Yay. Thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate being a guest on the show and I hope it's of use to people. 

Neil Sattin: It is my pleasure and I just want to encourage everyone who's listening to check out all your work but especially your latest book: Pleasure Activism, Emergent Strategy. They're both written with such care and and I really felt them speaking to me and my unfolding and I know it would be a gift to any reader who's here with us. And it feels like a fun footnote that the friend that I met who introduced me to you and your work. 

adrienne maree brown: Yeah. 

Neil Sattin: We were actually both attending a somatic experiencing workshop with Peter Levine. 

adrienne maree brown: Yay. That's awesome!

Neil Sattin: So I love how it came back into Somatics here at the end. 

adrienne maree brown: Full circle. 

Neil Sattin: So far so important to find that truth of who you are and your experience in your body in this moment, and so much aliveness comes from there. 

Neil Sattin: Thank you Neil. 

adrienne maree brown: adrienne, if people want to find out more about your work, what can they do? 

adrienne maree brown: They can go to the website: allied-media-dot-org-slash-ESII. That's where you can get trainings, workshop, stuff like that. And then I'm on Instagram  @adriennemareebrown, and I, that's where I mostly post things into the world. 

Neil Sattin: Great. Well we will make sure there are links in all our stuff. And thank you so much for being with us today. And with me. 

adrienne maree brown: Thank you. Have a good one. 

Neil Sattin: Take care, adrienne. 

adrienne maree brown: All right. Peace. 

Neil Sattin: Same to you. 

Neil Sattin: And just as a reminder if you want a detailed transcript of today's episode, you can get that by visiting Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-AMB, adrienne maree brown, or you can text the word passion to the number of 3 3 4 4 4 and follow the instructions. And we will have links to everything that we mentioned here in today's episode as well as to The Healing Justice I think is what adrienne said the The Healing Justice podcast episode that she mentioned, as a gift for you. 

Neil Sattin: All right, take care. 

 

Jul 18, 2019

When things get challenging in your relationship, what's the best way to ensure that you and your partner can make it through? How do you avoid the losing strategies that come naturally in a moment of crisis - and, instead, choose ways of dealing that are more likely to lead to a positive outcome? Whether it's something small, or something that feels more apocalyptic, this week we'll talk about how to weather the storm successfully, with strategies that will help you navigate a painful moment without doing something destructive.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it! Or email YOUR recorded questions to questions (at) relationshipalive dot com.

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Jul 10, 2019

How would you know if there were experiences from the earliest moments of your life affecting you here and now? And if you are indeed being impacted by the distant past - what can you do to heal those early traumas so that you’re more free and connected in your current life? Our guest today is Peter Levine, creator of Somatic Experiencing, and author of many bestselling books on healing trauma - “Waking the Tiger”, “In an Unspoken Voice”, and “Trauma and Memory” - just to name a few! Today you’ll learn how to recognize the signs of these deep emotions, and what to do to regulate them, as well as how to help our co-regulate with your partner, to build a stronger, more resilient foundation for your relationship (and within yourself). 

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it!

Check out my other episodes with Peter Levine:

Episode 127 of Relationship Alive on Building Resilience

Episode 29 on Healing Your Triggers and Trauma

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Visit www.neilsattin.com/levine2 to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Peter Levine.

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Transcript:

Neil Sattin  Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host Neil Sattin. As always we are exploring both the relational skills and the inner healing that's required in order to show up fully in your life and in your relationships. Today, we are fortunate to have a return visit from none other than Peter Levine -- one of the world's experts on healing trauma and also the creator of somatic experiencing one of the world's foremost modalities on healing trauma of all kinds. This can be the big kinds of traumas that people think of, you know, with war, and assault, and things like that. Or, it can be the smaller traumas that that still have a huge impact on us, things that happen in our childhood things that happen in our day to day lives. So, today in our conversation with Peter Levine we're going to be talking about how our early attachment traumas affect us in our adult lives and what we can do about that to bring more presence to our relationships. As always we will have a detailed transcript of today's conversation which you can get if you visit Neil-Sattin-dot-com-slash-Levine-2. That's L-E-V-I-N-E, as in Peter Levine and then the number two. Peter has also been on the show a couple other times, so if you, if you check out Episode 127 you can listen to us talking about resilience. Or I used the kind of funny form of that word resiliency, and uh, way back in Episode 29 we were talking about the again the effects of trauma on our lives and how to heal it. So we're building a comprehensive library here for you to help you get present and free your cells as and your physiology as well as your mind and your emotions -- your mind body spirit from the pernicious effects of trauma on our lives. 

Neil Sattin  So as always Peter thank you so much for joining us here today. It's great to have you again. 

Peter Levine  Sure, sure. 

  So let's just without having to give the full picture because I definitely think that our listeners can, can go and check out those other episodes that the two of us have done together. Let's talk about what might constitute an early attachment trauma or an early attachment wounding. What kinds of things would be the kind of thing that might stick with someone into their adult lives? 

Peter Levine  Yeah. Well you know, I mean, so many things from our past from our deep deep long past do affect us. They don't affect, they don't affect us in ways that we're conscious of, I mean that's part of the problem. And. I think of attachment, probably a little bit different than than most people do. I look more along a developmental arc about what happens to us from womb to, to adolescence and and the memories we carry. Now I said the memories are not conscious. But what are they? Well, we have to just take a couple of minutes to understand, at least comprehend, the different types of memory. Basically that some memories are conscious, are explicit. Other memories are much more unconscious and those are called implicit memories. And our basic attachments have to do with implicit memories. It has very little to do with explicit memories. That's one of the reasons why I think probably therapists often struggle in working with the early attachment wounds because they're so deeply ingrained in the, in the body experience and and can only really be accessed through the vehicle of sensations and these sensations are very primitive sensations very old, very raw. So, if we look at an implicit memories there are basically two types. One type is emotional. And so for example if you're introduced to somebody for the first time and all of a sudden you feel anger or fear or revulsion or just wanting to avoid them. There's a good chance that this stems from earlier experience with somebody who had some of those same qualities, so they get triggered and then they explode in an emotional way. I mean we all experience something like that at different times. You know, as an example, uh, a couple that's riding in their car and the wife is driving and they make a wrong turn. And her husband starts yelling at her: "Don't you know where you're going?" And then of course he starts laughing and they both died laughing. But from that moment something in him something in not being to the party at time or being lost, triggered some kind of a.. an old engram, an old memory trace. I sometimes am a little hesitant to use the word memory because the memories are so different than the conscious explicit memories. Ok, then even deeper than the emotional memories, which again do have to do with our early experiences as well as our development over the lifespan, that the other type of memory is called procedural memory. And these are memories that happen in our bodies and they can be both positive and negative, depending a lot on what our early experiences were in the womb at birth and during the bonding process. 

Peter Levine  And procedural memories very often are long, longlasting, and I divide them into two categories. One are basic things that the body learns such as for example, teaching a child how to ride a bike. So the parent or an older sibling by the side of the child and has their hands on the bicycle and they walk together and then run together, run and then bikes goes a little bit faster and then just at that right moment the parent lets go of the bike because they sense that the child is being able to balance themselves and then the child rides off on the bicycle and wants to go on the bicycle every day for the next six months. Because they're thrilled at that accomplishment. They now have a new memory, a new procedural memory, a new body memory and that involves a lot of different things that the body does. So if the parent trying to explain to the child: "Well, if you, if you, if you bend over this way your center of gravity will go off that way. So you'll have to turn the bicycle in that direction." It's just impossible. 

Neil Sattin  Right. 

Peter Levine  The body learns that quick, quick, quick, and once it's there even with a memory like that a positive memory like that the child is - you never forget how to ride a bicycle. That adage is largely true. It really is. So let me give you an example -- and again those memories can be positive like learning to ride a bike or learning dance steps or they can be highly negative. But let me give you an example and it does affect - It does introduce the relationship between attachment and these memories. 

Neil Sattin  Ok. 

Peter Levine  God, I don't know. Twenty, twenty-five years ago or so I was visiting my parents in New York City, in the Bronx. And so I spent the day down in Manhattan going to museums and it was coming back in the train the D train and train was packed with men in similar suits with newspapers folded under their arms. And so. But there was one particular person I just I didn't even see his face. There was just something about his posture that had a strange effect on me and I felt a slight slight expansion of my chest and a little bit of a warmth in my belly as I paid attention to my body sensations. So unbeknownst to me in a way I was having a memory but certainly not a conscious memory because you know I hadn't been the type, who knows why I was having this attachment. So anyhow, he, we both got off at the last stop. The crowds thinned out. Two-hundred-and-fifth street and I walked up to him and the fact, the words came out of my mouth out of my lips. I wasn't even consciously aware of saying them. I touched his arm and I said, "Arnold." And he looked at me utterly perplexed and puzzled. And we just stayed there for a moment. And then I said, "Arnold, you were in my first grade class with Ms. Campini. And well I would say, I would say, he was astonished, we were both astonished. There is something that I knew him in this class many decades before several decades before. Yet there was some attraction to that person because I obviously I don't remember everybody who was in the class. He's probably the only person I do remember that was in my in my first grade class. I mean I do remember bullies and I was very bullied at the time because I came in I was younger I came in in the middle of the class time, middle of the semester, and I had my ears were the same size then as they are now. So kids tease me about and call me Dumbo. And so I was bullied a lot. And Arnold was the one child that seemed to support me that seemed to care about me and it wasn't even verbal support. It was some, I just felt him someway, somehow on my side. So that implicit procedural memory is something that I've carried forth, for the rest of my life. Hopefully our early attachment figures have something like that so that when we are meeting another person, for, in terms of cultivating or being in a relationship or navigating the vicissitudes relationship that we have these positive memories, which have to do with approach. OK. Keep that word in mind. Approach. 

Neil Sattin  Ok. 

Peter Levine  If on the other hand we have had neglect, abuse, confusion, in our early experiences, we have procedural memories that are primary avoidance. Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, the positive experiences, the approach experiences are much greater than the avoidance experiences because that's what we need for a healthy relationship. So. OK. So, anyhow let's look at some of the kinds of things that happened early in our experience of the world. 

Peter Levine  So. So as I was saying hopefully they approach procedural memories outweigh the they avoidance one. But again starting way way back our experiences in utero. You know, if the mother is in a relaxed state, which again is a good reason why hopefully, mothers are able to spend it. Certainly the later part of their pregnancy at home doing things they enjoy to do settling, resting, preparing, that, so, however if the mother is under a lot of stress, accumulated stress during that period particularly the later part of gestation, that stress through different channels is actually passed on to the fetus. It does this by certain chemicals that are released when the mother is under stress but also direct neural mechanisms that, that, that, that increase or decrease the blood flow to the placent-placenta itself. So the placenta increases level of carbon dioxide, less oxygen, which stresses the fetal nervous system and overstimulated it. And then, what often happens in these studies were done in animals of course, is that you have this tremendously increase in the activity of the whole brain. But then after a certain point it just shuts down. And so again here already, we're hopefully having positive implicit experiences, but we also might be having negative ones. 

Peter Levine  Then birth of course is the next stage here in development and my sense is that the, the utilization of midwives and doulas is a little bit starting to come back taking the birth process out of the realm of a, of a disease that needs to be dealt with medically. 

Neil Sattin  Right. 

Peter Levine  To part of a natural process. But anyhow. And so during that time again the fetus the newborn can be extremely stressed. But, here's the, here's the, the, the hopeful part because eh, that the parents, the caregivers can also soothe the distress of the infant after it's born, can really hold it, rock it, soothe it, patiently. So again it's getting a positive imprint a positive memory of being able to be helped out of the distressed state into a state of settling, of a relaxation because remember an infant can not regulate itself. If it's distressed, it has precious little in the way of being able to, to, to come down from that activation and that will -- and calm itself. It needs to be, the term used often is, co-regulated by the caregiver. So by holding, soothing, singing, gently rocking all of those kinds of things helps the newborn regulate. 

Neil Sattin  So. 

Peter Levine  And again. Yeah go ahead, anytime you want. 

Neil Sattin  So there are a couple things that are jumping out at me. One of them being that from the youngest moments of our existence, we're creating memories that are that are not the kind of memory that you would typically think about, you know, where you can picture a story in your head of something happening. These are actual body memories and emotional experiences that just live within us and can be evoked in the present. But they don't necessarily, they're not necessarily something that have a story attached to them that you would consciously remember. 

Peter Levine  Yes. 

Neil Sattin  And then the second piece that's popping into place for me is around how, so there are all these things that are just kind of happening to us when we're in the womb. And then when we come out and are born there's this additional component where we're associating these really intense visceral experiences in our neurobiology with our primary caregiver so with our primary attachment figures, and I can already see this kind of setting up what plays out in, in our future selves when we are actually entering partnership with others, so we create attachments as adults with the people who are, who we can be most vulnerable with, most cared for most caring to, et cetera. But it's like --. 

Peter Levine  Or the opposite. 

Neil Sattin  Exactly. Good point, good point. And memory being what it is, just the presence of these people will naturally evoke some of these early memories. And then if we're not aware that that's happening, it's clear that that could create all sorts of problems because you might think that it's something specifically about your partner that is evoking this particular sensation, you might not know you're having a memory you might think whatever they just did is absolutely disgusting, and revolting and whereas you're really actually having a memory and I'm wondering as an adult how do we begin to tease apart the two or is it not even really important to do that? Maybe it's more important to just think about how we process those experiences so that they're not impacting us quite so profoundly?

Peter Levine  All right. Well actually let me go back to, to baby time. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah. Let's go back. 

Peter Levine  Before we go to adult. And this is and this is actually an example of work with a 14 month old and the session is all, is described and along with photographs in, in my most recent book, "Trauma And Memory: Brain And Body In A Search For The Living Past." So again it's how the past lives within us. Anyhow Baby Jack was born of an extremely traumatic birth. The cord was three ti-- it was around his neck three times, at the last minute he turned breech and he had the more mother tried to push, the more that Jack tried to propel against the uterine wall. He became more and more wedged at the apex of the uterus. In other words, oh! Maybe some people don't know that actually the birth process itself is not just about the mother pushing the baby out, but the baby actually pushing itself out. So the more Jack pushed the more he got wedged, the more he got stuck in, you know in the new apex of the uterus, and so they did an emergency caesarean his, his heart rate was starting to go down significantly. And even so they still couldn't pull him out. So they use suction to pull him out. And use it -- this is a very traumatic birth. And he was suffering from some physical symptoms which would have required that they do endoscopes and also looking into his lung, uh, a procedure which would have certainly really add a tremendous amount of traumatization to this fourteen, to this infant which has already been highly traumatized. So the baby has been highly traumatized. So I start to work with him. And again and you'll see that the pictures in the book. But I take some wrapped rattles that were made for me by a Hopi person and I wrap them a little bit to get his attention and he's he's an alert person but his mother says he never will, you know, uh, stay still. Never just stay her lap and mold into her. She never had that experience of him. So she say "He'll maybe come over. But then he is off to the next thing again." And she says, "Oh and he can be okay when he is alone." So again you see this thing in relationships, when we're alone where we do we perceive ourselves to be OK, but then when we're in a relations with somebody, we can lose all of that. So anyhow he reaches for the rattle as I hand it towards him. And then he retracts his hand his arm and just, it goes limp. And so he is now having a memory. He cannot talk about this memory because he doesn't really have words and even if he could they wouldn't be the words that could, would work. So then I give the rattle to him again and this time he pushes against the rattle. And I say "Yeah that's great, Jack." You know because he had all, he was taken away. All these tubes all these procedures that were done, and he felt, he was helpless. He was this little teeny baby and all of these, you know, giants were doing these things towards him. So anyhow we continue with this and at one point I put my hand on his middle back, because I see that's where he stiffens when his mother starts talking about needing to, the doctors wanting to do an endoscopy. So anyhow this time he pushes against her leg really pushes any propelled, as though it was propelling himself through the birth canal as though it really was. Anyhow after that he just starts crying and crying and crying. It's just birth cry sounds. And his mother is just astonished. She said, "I've almost never heard him cry and I've never seen tears coming down." His tears coming from his eyes. And you can see it's both a combination of amazement and relief and she doesn't even quite know what that relief is about. 

Peter Levine  Then at, at the end of this crying there is deep spontaneous breaths, deep spontaneous breaths and he just positions himself so he can mold into the mother's shoulder and then she knows exactly what to do now. 

Peter Levine  She put her arm around him and gently holds him and you see them attaching. So it wasn't that she was a bad mother that prevented the attachment. That wasn't the case. It was that they got disconnected at birth. She was definitely a, in Winnicott's terms, a good enough mother, very caring mother. But again you see in youth, and you can see it in the pictures, her complete delight at him doing this and then they come in the next week for a checkup. And his mother says, "Oh, when, when we got home Jack went to sleep, and then at one o'clock in the morning he called out, 'Mama! Mama!' And she she came in and picked him up and he molded again right into her arm, right into her shoulders."

Peter Levine  So this here is a, is a definitely implicit memory. And it turned out to be positive. But what if nothing had been done at that, had been done at that time. Then you can certainly project ahead and probably have a pretty good guess that he is going to have difficulties in relationships, that he's going to have difficulty in getting really close and bonding and attachment. So I'd be able to change that memory from the timeframe of this birth that really made it much more possible for him to have secure attachments in other later relationships. There's one thing I like to say about that. Oh OK. So even in this case, in a case, like this where there has been trauma, er, around the birth and around early attachment, we are still able to work with those memories. They may not be as accessible as they were with Baby Jack. But, but at the same time we can use language and imagery to help the person connect with those procedural memories and to transform them, to transmute them, from negative ones which were dominating Jack to positive ones of approach. And again we want a relationship -- a relationship is not going to be able to really survive, unless there is much more approach memories than avoidance memories. But again these things can be shifted even in our adult life, but they will come up in close relationships. And if we have had those difficulties experienced negative experience if we were neglected... You know, when I was born, the medical wisdom at the time was, first of all, give the mother all kinds of drugs and then do not breastfeed because breast-feeding was unsanitary. I mean, can you imagine how archaic that was? 

Neil Sattin  Oh my god. 

Peter Levine  And to add insult to injury they also instructed parents not to pick, not to pick up their babies when the babies were crying because the babies would just use that to manipulate them. 

Neil Sattin  Right. 

Peter Levine  I mean think about that, that, that's abuse. Frankly, as we understand today. But that was the that, was the that was the understanding of the time the wisdom at the time. 

Peter Levine  So anyhow when people from my generation were crying and upset we weren't held. And so that's the memory that we carry, that when we're upset we will not be able to calm. So we're, if we're upset in adult relationship we do not expect to be calmed, and we won't even allow ourselves to be calmed. So we either avoid the relationship or become over dependent in the relationship to soothe us because we're unable to be soothed. And again one of the things that we teach in somatic experiencing, is to help people learn this is part of working with these procedural memories, to have people learn to be able to regulate themselves. And for couples to learn how to regulate each other, because there's a pretty good chance that if you you're dysregulated you find a dysregulated person to, to be in relationship with or, or opposite. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah. So, wow, there are so many things jumping out at me right now and I definitely obviously we're not going to go through the whole body of work of somatic experiencing right now. I do hope that we can offer our listeners a few things they can do when they notice these things coming out. All your books that I've read have been such a revelation to me and in particular when it comes to applying your work, there is a rather thin book called "Healing Trauma," that we've spoken about before, that I think is just so great because it offers like a whole sequence of exercises that people can work through that, that take you on this journey of of uncovering these implicit memories and and unearthing them and being able to resolve them in the moment like you were describing resolving or the resolution of your work with that with baby Jack. When you were describing the ways that your generation was or that your parents were taught to to care for your generation when you were born. It made me also think about the way that trauma is passed from generation to generation because what I think happened to a lot of people in my generation was that their parents were, you know, the product of this whole you know don't, don't breastfeed the baby, don't pick up the baby, and then when when they were presented with a baby that was crying or inconsolable, even if they had a different sense maybe of like, "Oh I'm supposed to be doing this differently or differently than my parents did." It's evoking all of these implicit memories for my parents. Um, and which makes it much more challenging for them to show up as a regulating force for their children. 

Peter Levine  Yeah yeah yeah. Or sometimes the parents will try to do the opposite of what they had experienced. And so there's another key feature here which is also important is, that absolutely you know for the first several some months after birth the child basically has to be held and rocked, eh, when it's upset. But then you know starting after several months like nine months or so, it's also important that, because once the child has had enough solid procedural m-memories, experience of being calm, being settled then it is important to at least allow for the child to be upset for some amount of time, so that they can also bring in their capacity, their gradually learned capacity to self regulate. And often parents who come, where they were not picked up, and where they were just left in this, this, this swamp of distress, they may have trouble to not immediately pick up their baby when it's crying and then immediately hold it. 

Peter Levine  So, sometimes those children don't develop a full enough capacity for self regulation, which can also can be problematic in later relationships, because of course we're going to be upset with things that our, that our spouses do, our partners do. And... But the question is do we have tools so that we don't just go into profound distress and despair every time something happens that upsets us. So we do need to have both, I think, I just mentioned this, the capacity to regulate and to co-regulate and to get some of these skills that the book that you mentioned, book-CD, actually by "sounds true" called "Healing Trauma," something like, "A pioneering program for healing trauma." I don't know but anyhow... 

Neil Sattin  "A Pioneering Program For Restoring The Wisdom of Your Body."

Peter Levine  Ah. That's it. OK thank you. So again, some of the exercises where we learn to regulate states of arousal, of fear, of anger -- so that we don't have to constantly rely on the other person. But at the same time a healthy relationship also involves co-regulation. Particularly, hopefully, when we're able to say and this may this is, a kind of a higher state, "Dear. I'm really feeling so unsettled and anxious. Could you please just hold me for a little bit?" And, then if the other, if the other partner is in a relatively grounded, calm place themselves then they most likely will want to offer that. 

Peter Levine  So again it's a combination of co-regulation, transmuting into or developing into the capacity to self regulate. And then as adolescents and adults to be able to switch between self-regulation and co regulation. So again we are in a sense transforming these procedural memories where we did not have positive experience of being co regulated or we didn't develop the capacity to self regulate, to self regulate. 

Neil Sattin  So, how would I know if I'm having an experience where, where it would make sense for me to check in with my partner let's say and ask for some co regulation? What kinds of experiences would I be having within me that might be an indication of like, "Oh wait. That's..." So when when someone hears this, they'll be like, "Oh that's the thing that Peter Levine was talking about. And look I'm experiencing that right now. Maybe I should go ask my my partner if they'll hold me for a minute and see what happens."

Peter Levine  Right. Well guess what. It's absolutely not... It's not going to happen at once, at once. It's a skill that one has to really, really build. But the basic idea is that when we become upset, become emotional, become angry, become fearful, become sad, that's out of proportion to what's happening here in the present, then that's a almost certain guarantee. It's a certain guarantee that we're dealing with some kind of imprinted procedural memory a negative, in a word, memory. And so while we're in the midst of it it's going to be harder to ask for help. But if we know how to co-reg, uh, how to self regulate ourselves, even a little bit then we can realize, "OK, I'm upset but I'm upset so much more than you know then my partner saying “you know I'm not going to be able to get together tomorrow because I have to work, for dinner. I have to work later at work." OK. So really upset. But if that child had been abandoned as an, as as a baby, then all of a sudden that abandonment comes in, and for an infant being abandoned would cause death. If if the baby is abandoned for enough time. 

Neil Sattin  Right. 

Peter Levine  And so we will experience this, this perceived rejection as a life threat. OK, so again if we know enough about our implicit memories we can then be able to kind of soothe ourselves, and I give exercises for that, to soothe ourselves and then to be able to enter back into the relationship. But it's a skill that really needs to be developed and good therapy, both couples and individual therapy, can really help to facilitate this kind of cooperation, between, between our relationships, our primary relationships as adults. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah, no, I've mentioned it on the on the show before and I think when when you were on... Maybe the first time you were on, we, we went over the "Voo" exercise and that's something that Chloe and I we do together all the time when we notice one or the other being in a dysregulated state to help us come back into balance with each other. It's super helpful. 

Peter Levine  Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean there are a number of exercises like the Voo exercise, like the self holding exercise, where it is bringing one's awareness to the parts of our body which are not feeling horrifically. And so that could be our, our hands or our feet even. So again there's a number of different exercises that we can learn from and learn how to self regulate enough. You know there's a Motown song that goes something like: "It takes one to stand in the dark alone. It takes two to let the light shine through." So I think again it's this combination of being responsible for our own implicit memories, our own emotional and procedural memories. But also to be, to be cognizant about them enough so that we can enter into co-regulation and that co-regulation really enhances the attachment, the adult attachment and secures that relationship, solidifies that relationship, build it into a positive experience. So you know, again a lot of times all these things that happened to us can have these different effects that really will disrupt the relationship. Let me give you one example. I was working with this woman, young woman, who was abused by a sports coach when she was 13 years old, and because she is a teenager, she thought that he was in love with her. She certainly was in love, whatever that means, with him. And then she was rejected by him. Anyhow, those were really, eh, procedural memories and so when her husband would try to touch her. She would go into anger or revulsion and just want to push him away. So. And of course he was deeply deeply upset cuz he had no idea what to do. So I had worked with her to do a few sessions and then suggested that they would come in together. And they were sitting as far away as possible from each other and they talked about their resentments. That he never gives me eye contact, she never gives me eye contact. So they were talking about wanting to make contact but they couldn't do it. So after this went on for 30 minutes where they were basically blaming each other I asked if they would be willing to try an experiment. And I said, "This is, there's a risk at this. I mean hopefully this will help but it might not. Are you willing to take that risk?" And they both said yes. So then, he, I had him where he was sitting and then I had her going to explain this both to them sit with her back towards him and kind of having his knee a little bit like touching her shoulder. So she could feel this contact but it didn't demand eye contact and it was touching in a relatively, in a relatively safe way. And so at first I could see they you know they felt very awkward and I encouraged them just to keep noticing their body sensations and maybe just report them out loud and they did that for a while and then for the first time she could say that she felt some safety with her husband. But otherwise it was all threat and confusion the confusion of this 13 year old adolescent. So, again all of these things will affect our attachments profoundly. But the good news is there are things that we can do about that. So, again I hope I'm not pitching too much, but I, I really do recommend that people, even if they're not therapists, read "Trauma and Memory," because it really helps to explain the nature of all of these memories that we have a better idea of the map of where we are, and also the understanding of when we're hyper activated or when we're shut down, which I cover deeply in, "An Unspoken Voice." So. And then of course the one that you mentioned. So all of these really talk about a map to know where we are. What is it, if we're, if we're angry with a person, there's energy in that we can more easily work with that. But what happens if when with the person our whole organism shuts down and goes into a protective shell, where we can't easily be reached then we have to help the person come out of that shutdown into a more activated state, and then learn to regulate... co-regulate that state and then to learn to self regulate that state. I know that's a mouthful. I'm putting in it at the end but... 

Neil Sattin  Yeah way to drop the bomb, Peter! You know I'm curious when maybe you could offer something then. So because I think it's so common for a partner when they feel their beloved shutting down in some sense to not really know what to do in that moment to not know how to how to speak to them or how to respond in a way. So, what would the invitation be there? 

Peter Levine  So sometimes you know instead of like being like confronting each other, uh, indoors, to, or at least I mean even indoors but hopefully outdoors if the weather is clement, is to just walk together, side by side and talk instead of trying to face each other, which is bringing up a lot of those difficult emotions. And when you're walking you're less likely to shut down. So, that's the first thing I would recommend. Don't, if you, if if things are stuck just walk together side by side because there's something just in that gesture side by side which is supportive which is caring. And caring that the person can actually experience. 

Peter Levine  Then I'll suggest doing some of the exercises like the "Voo exercise", you know the long easy sustain "voo" directing it from the belly. And that's one way of helping people both come out of shutdown or if they're in a hyper state, to calm the hyper state. So, I would suggest that they do the exercise and maybe especially do them together so that they feel more settled and in this more settled place they're able to engage each other, much more in the here and now, rather than in there and then. So, again that's why I use the term brain and body in the search for the living past, how the past lives within us and what we can do about it - how we can change the past so that we can be in the present. 

Peter Levine  And when two people are in the present with each other who care about each other that solidifies the bond and takes that out of the realm of things like adaptations, like codependency. 

Neil Sattin  Right and gets them into that space where, they can, they can re-experience those memories but metabolize them into something positive, where they're feeling like, "Oh I'm experiencing that, but my partner is here to support me like now I know what it's like to actually feel supported in this... 

Peter Levine  Exactly. Exactly. And again when we're able to cultivate in the relationship to the degree that we're able to do that, we're solidifying the relationship. Because difficult times will happen. I mean there is no -- I don't know of any relationships where, where crises have never occurred. Some kind -- it can be a small crisis but it can also be a really big crisis. So the question, is are we fortified enough have we built the foundation of our relationship somatically, so that when these things do occur we're able to weather them and co regulate each other. And I'm thinking sometimes of something that's really devastating. Like when a child dies or gets seriously ill, that's the time really that the parents need to co-regulate each other. 

Neil Sattin  Mm hmm. 

Peter Levine  But that's also the time where there's a tendency to distance. Or to blame. Rather than to connect. 

Neil Sattin  Right. Right. Those are the moments where you need each other more than ever really. 

Peter Levine  More than ever. But again if we've solidified that, up to that point then the chances of us getting through that are greatly enhanced. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah. It makes perfect sense. Makes perfect sense. And, and I could see you know, for instance even just with something as simple as taking a walk and doing the "Voo” together. That doing that in times that aren't dysregulated. That it's setting the stage for that just becoming something that you can rely on in a challenging moment. 

Peter Levine  Yeah yeah. You know many people, many couples, many individuals are reported when they did that with their partner, did the walking, the "Voo"ing that kind of thing -- they were really angry and fearful and blaming and they just walked for a while did the "VU" and then both of them started spontaneously laughing and laughing and laughing and crying and laughing. And then just kind of both seeing the ridiculousness of those, of that reaction but also their appreciation for the other. 

Neil Sattin  So yeah I can relate. And it's so important too, I think because when you're stuck in an old memory, that translates often into thoughts, the kinds of thoughts like that, "You're not safe with this person or that they're out to get you." And, and but the feelings actually precede the thoughts. So if you're able to tackle your somatic experience that feeling in your body, then the thought shifts. 

Peter Levine  Yeah. Right. The emotions precede the thoughts and the procedural memories come... uh, procedural memories are what's also evoking their emotional memories. 

Neil Sattin  Yeah. 

Peter Levine  So again and in somatic experiencing, we do a lot of work from the bottom up from sensations then to affects, then to new meanings. And so that couple had the new meaning like, "Oh my gosh. I don't have to feel so alone when I'm feeling angry or fearful I just need to ask for some kind of connection such as what we were just mentioning. Yeah. So again these are tools I hope that couples all know and practice a bit so that when they really, when it's really called upon that it'll be there. And again, my experience is that can really determine in a crisis time whether people, whether couples stay together, work together, stay together cooperate together, or where they split. 

Neil Sattin  Right. Yeah. Well, Peter thank you again for all your time and wisdom and you know, the years and years of dedication to unearthing ways to heal from traumas that happened to us before we even were aware of them. And your work is so important, I think to finding ourselves again and again in the present, especially when we're in partnership and you know evoking each other's deep emotional experience all over the place and hopefully, hopefully healing together as well. 

Peter Levine  Yes, yep, that's the idea. 

Neil Sattin  Before I go there's some work that's a little tangential to this conversation but I just wanted to give you an opportunity to mention it because it's so important that has to do with the ways that the effects of stored trauma, unprocessed trauma, in our bodies results in chronic illness and I know, I know you've been hard at work on ways to help people through that. 

Peter Levine  Yes. 

Neil Sattin  Would you mind taking a moment to just talk about what that is and...? 

Peter Levine  Oh yeah yeah yeah. No, gladly because that's something that really really excites me really turns me on. It over the years some 40 plus years. Um, I've probably worked with thousands of people who have had what would now be called conditions like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, chronic fatigue, severe PMS, migraines, urinary problems and so forth. And working with them, with SE, has been quite effective. And these are conditions that don't have a medical diagnosis. There are now calls sometimes in medicine MUS, medically unexplained symptoms. MUS. And there's no help for many of them, some people do have something organically wrong of course and that has to be eliminated. But many of these people are just thrown from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist, with you know, with no help. And you know even after the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I think in 1980 to 94, 84... Still very very few physicians understood that but certainly almost nobody understood that it was not something that was just in a person's head. But these are functional disorders involving our stress responses basically. So you know thinking about that. There are probably at least 10 or 20 million people suffering in the US alone with those kind of symptoms and there's no amount of therapists. I mean that could really help all of these people and many people can't really afford therapists and so forth and they really need something that they can use even if they are doing therapy to be an adjunct of supportive therapy. So along with, uh, a project manager, an entrepreneur and an M.I.T. specialist in computer human interaction affective communication. And then three other programmers, we've been working in the last two and a half years on this program, be a program or an app, that people can use at home to help them heal those kinds of sick, uh, symptoms. And we'll be finally testing the first version of that in the next couple of months. So I'm both also I'm excited but I'm also a little bit, like, anxious... A little trepidation you know like putting in all this work. And I bet and I know it's going to help. I mean we did a proof of concept at the very beginning. And, it had very powerful effect but anyhow that's that's really where my a lot of my energy is right now. It's in, in, in continuing to develop that as we start getting feedback from the first... or, actually the second test group. So if you want to be glad to let you know when we're up and about. 

Neil Sattin  Definitely and we can we can send a blast out to everyone on our email list about that. And, and your assistant Melissa who is such a blessing, she also wanted me to mention that if if you send an email to Ergos-Levine-at-gmail-dot-com and that's spelled E R G O S L E V I N E at gmail-dot-com then then they can let you know and there's maybe even a chance that that those people can get involved in the testing of that app as well it sounds like. 

Peter Levine  Yeah. 

Neil Sattin  So. And of course you're always out teaching and people can participate in your public courses. There are some on the East Coast in the fall. There's a course in London in June. And if they visit is it, Somatic-Experiencing-dot-com? Then they can sort of see everything that you’r e doing. 

Peter Levine  I believe so. I believe so. Yeah some of the stuff I'm doing yeah.

Neil Sattin  Well Peter. Peter it's always a pleasure to chat with you. And I've so enjoyed your generosity of time and wisdom over the years. And thanks so much again for dropping in with us here on Relationship Alive. 

Peter Levine  OK. Take good care. 

Neil Sattin  You too Peter. Take care. 

Neil Sattin  And as just a reminder if you want a transcript of this conversation and also the relevant links and things you can visit Neil-Sattin-dot-com slash-Levine-2. That's L E V I N E, and the number two or you can text the word passion to the number 3 3 4 4 4 and follow the instructions where you'll be able to download the complete transcript of our conversation. All right thanks again. 

 

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