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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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Now displaying: December, 2015
Dec 29, 2015

Title: Recipe for a Secure, Healthy Relationship: Stan Tatkin

If you’ve listened to some of the other episodes then by now you’ve heard how so much of what happens to us as kids can affect how we are, in relationship, as adults. You can get into the specifics if you want - and there are times when I think that’s a good idea - but you can also look at the big picture of whether or not you had a secure attachment with your parents (and now are able to have a healthy, secure style in your adult relationships). Or you might find that you developed what’s known as an insecure attachment style with your parents, and now THAT is affecting how you connect with  (or withdraw from) the people you love as an adult. Do you sometimes feel an overarching need for space and find yourself always feeling like your partner wants too much from you? Do you start to feel anxious when you’re alone, like your partner isn’t there for you enough. Well, guess what - this all relates to your attachment style. The great thing about it is: there’s something you can do.

On today’s show our guest is Stan Tatkin, Doctor of Psychology, one of the world’s experts on attachment theory, and the author of “Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship”. On this show we’re going to get to know the ins and outs of how we attach to others - and give you some successful strategies for knowing and understanding yourself, and your partner, and finding healthy ways to support each other in relationship. If you’re single, we’re also going to talk about the implications of attachment style on dating - and Stan’s new book “Wired for Dating” is coming out this month - January of 2016.

In this conversation, Stan Tatkin and I cover the following topics:

  • Wired for Love is a manual for how to feel safe in relationship. When we don’t feel safe and secure in our relationship it can create a lot of stress, problems with thinking and focus, creativity, patience, etc. And the long-term effects of stress can contribute to all kinds of illness and dis-ease. So there are very practical reasons for understanding clearly how to feel safe in relationship (both what will increase your feelings of safety in relationship as well as how to help your partner feel safe).
  • What is at the root of your attachment style? Your attachment style is created by the primary relationship that you have as a child, generally with your mother. As an infant we learn very quickly whether or not our parent (or primary caregiver) is there for us unconditionally. If so, we learn to trust those on whom we come to depend in our primary relationship. If not, we develop an insecure attachment style as a response to the uncertainty that our needs will be met in our primary relationship.
  • Insecure attachment styles: Islands -  People who are more “islands” in their attachment style (the ones who need extra space) typically had to perform or be a certain way in order to experience love in their primary relationship. They tend to distance themselves in relationship as they are afraid of losing themselves within the relationship, or being co-opted.
  • Insecure attachment styes: - Waves - People who are “waves” tend to be more needy and afraid of abandonment in relationship. Typically they were responsible for the emotional well-being of at least one of their parents, and so they were rewarded for being dependent.
  • Both insecure attachment styles can be distancing: Both waves and islands can also distance themselves ultimately within a relationship, waves because they are afraid of being abandoned, and islands because they are afraid of being consumed. At the root of both avenues: fear. And both islands and waves WANT relatedness - it’s just the kinds of fears that relatedness creates that lead to wave-like or island-like behavior.
  • Are you an island or a wave? How about your partner? We all have elements of secure attachment, and the different insecure attachment styles, but under duress you will probably veer more towards one than the other. And the way you go can change depending on the relationship that you’re in. Are you more of a “go it alone” kind of person, with the feeling that no one can do something better than you? This way of being is supported quite a bit in western culture, and can lead to being an island. Are you more chatty, interested in other people and relationship, very related to others, very affected by separations and reunions? Odds are that you’re more of a wave.
  • No judgment! It’s important to know that neither of these is good or bad, they just “are” and affected by your experience. With an understanding of where you are, and an understanding of your partner (or potential partners), you can come away with a map of how to build safety in your relationship - a secure container from which everything else grows and prospers.
  • These patterns of behavior only come up in relationship. So - don’t be surprised when it emerges after the courtship/honeymoon phase of a relationship. This is just “what we do” when we begin to see a relationship with another person as “permanent”.
  • What is the difference between securely attached, or creating safety, and co-dependency in a relationship? If you’re codependent, then you are overly concerned with the other person and not concerned with yourself at all. You are sacrificing yourself for the sake of the relationship. However, in a secure relationship, or a relationship where islands and waves come together in order to create a safe, thriving environment for each other, both people serve the THIRD entity, the relationship, as they see it as a path for both of them to grow/expand even more than they could if they were on their own.
  • It’s not important to worry about moving from an insecure attachment style to a secure attachment style. It’s more important for you and your partner to understand how each other operate and to create agreements that support you and your safe container. By virtue of doing so, you will naturally move towards a more secure attachment style. Either way, though, those agreements will ensure that you are working collaboratively, without judgment of each other - instead appreciating how each other is in the world, and knowing better than anyone else in the world how to provide an environment that feels safe and secure to each other.
  • Be a detective to learn what works and what doesn’t work with your partner. Taking this approach helps engage your curiosity, and helps you tune in to how what you do actually is affecting the other person. The “I’m just going to take care of me and you just take care of you” approach may sound good on paper, but it’s usually experienced as a threat to the relationship. Excessive self-reliance can actually become an exit strategy in a relationship.
  • These mechanisms are ruled by the primitive part of your brain. And, in general, if the primal part of your brain is triggered then that part of your brain is going to call the shots - the higher-functioning part of your brain can’t even do it’s job when the primitive part of your brain hijacks it or diverts resources away from it.
  • The importance of agreements: Do you have agreements with your partner that allow you to repair as soon as either of you gets triggered? These kinds of agreements allow you to come back into balance and connection with each other - and then address the specifics of what came up afterwards. If your partner is in distress then it becomes a priority for you to help them recover first - and then figure out strategies for working through whatever caused the distress.
  • Establishing the “Couple Bubble” - All of these strategies are about improving the container of your relationship, or what Stan Tatkin calls the “couple bubble”.
  • Create rituals to reinforce your togetherness. Bedtime rituals, rituals upon waking - or I also share in the podcast a ritual for reminding each other of togetherness before walking into situations that could be triggering.
  • It’s not healthy to avoid conflict. However, you can learn to “fight smart”. For one thing, are you always looking for ways to resolve conflict that are true win/win options? Only when your interests are aligned with your partner, and nobody loses, can you get out of being triggered in anger and arrive at conclusions that foster greater love and connection - even when you are in a disagreement.
  • When dealing with an island… it can be helpful to offer quick doses of love without holding on for too lengthy a period of time. Islands can be more left-brain dominant (verbal, logical) - so it can be helpful to express your love in left-brain sorts of ways.
  • When dealing with a wave… offer reassurance that you love them, touch, etc. Waves tend to be more right-brainy, so offering touch, emotion, movement - those are all strategies that can build safety and connection for a wave.
  • Your relationship is an ecosystem. And once you create a secure, safe ecosystem where you are safe being you and sharing everything with your partner, you are now have energy and resources free to be able to thrive even more in your life than you could in an insecure environment, or independent of relationship. That kind of security that only partnership can offer actually allows you to be more fully “you” in the world than you could have before.
  • Are you still auditioning? We act differently when we’re not all in in terms of commitment. One to two years is a reasonable amount of time to know if you really want to be with someone. After that, it’s time to decide if you’re really in it or not - so that you can experience what it’s like to be in relationship with this person when both of you are fully invested. And then you’ll get MORE information that will help you decide if it really is what you want for the LONG long term.
  • Eye contact and close physical proximity! Both are important strategies for fostering the biology that leads to feeling safe, secure, and happy in your relationship.
  • Another reason oxytocin/vasopressin is important: These neuropeptides allow you to experience stillness without fear. So important for fostering intimacy, particularly when intimacy can stimulate fear - either through being a survivor of trauma, or through simply being a wave or an island.
  • What about polyamory? At the core of polyamory is generally the “primary” pair. Who would you turn to first when you’re in distress, or to celebrate something amazing? That being said, the main thing is that all of your relationships should keep you feeling safe and secure, and when a relationship violates that, it’s going to be problematic, whether it’s your primary relationship or secondary, tertiary, etc.
  • How does this apply when you’re single? Bear in mind that the cascade of neurochemicals that you’re experiencing when you’re dating will keep you from really knowing what’s going on with the other person. One important tool for you is to leverage the power of your community - family, friends, etc. - to help you decide whether or not someone is actually good for you. Not that you should invalidate your own opinion and feelings, of course - but you can count on others who are not love-drunk to help you get clarity on the situation. There’s more information in Stan Tatkin’s new book “Wired for Dating” as well.

Resources:

Stan Tatkin's website - www.stantatkin.com

Stan Tatkin on Facebook

Stan Tatkin on Twitter

Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin on Amazon

Wired for Dating by Stan Tatkin on Amazon

www.neilsattin.com/wired is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a free copy of “Wired for Love”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Dec 21, 2015

It’s been 17 straight weeks since the Relationship Alive podcast launched, and I hope you’re enjoying the deep dive into how to do relationships in a completely new way. This week, I’d like to give you a gift. There’s so much value in new information, new knowledge - I don’t know about you, but my temptation is to be always trying to learn something new, always trying to grow. And yet, some of our growth happens not when we’re trying, but actually when we’re giving ourselves time and space to integrate. You can go to bed overwhelmed, or confused, and wake up with completely new insights. Plus rest is so important for being able to bring energy to your life and everything that’s important to you.

So this week, rather than giving you another interview with another amazing guest, I’m inviting you to spend some time integrating. This is an opportunity to spend time with the important people in your life - your partner, your family, your friends - and, most importantly, yourself! You could simply let everything that you’ve heard in the past 17 episodes of the podcast wash over you - and see what percolates out in your interactions with the world.

Or it could mean taking some space to reflect. What have you learned about yourself, about yourself in relationship? What are some new questions to help fuel your growth over the coming weeks, months and years? What kind of relationship would you like for yourself - and can you develop a solid sense of what it would feel like to be in that? In terms of the podcast, maybe there’s an episode that really made an impression on you that you’d like to listen to again? Or maybe there’s one you haven’t had a chance to listen to yet? Now’s your chance!

If you really, really, REALLY want something new, my partner Chloe and I put together a free meditation to help you harness the energy of any emotional pain that you’re experiencing in your life to discover new possibility. It’s on our new website - if you want a sneak peak, you can visit http://www.thenewloveparadigm.com or simply text the word “POSSIBLE” to the number 33444 and follow the instructions to download the meditation. It’s our gift to you this holiday season, or whenever you happen to be listening to this episode.

There are exciting things coming in the year ahead. New episodes with amazing guests, the book that Chloe and I have been working on will be coming out, and some even bigger projects that I’ll be telling you about as they take shape.

Meanwhile - I’d love to hear from you. If you have a chance, drop me a line at neilius at neilsattin dot com and let me know what’s been really helpful for you on the podcast, what you’d like more of, and what you’d like less of. Or if you have any stories about some specific change that’s happened I’d love to hear them. Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about just how much Relationship Alive has been helping people in their relationships - and I can’t tell you how much it helps me stay fired up about my mission with this podcast - to help you be able to do relationship better and be yourself more fully in relationship and in life in general. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll see you next week with another new episode. Take care, and enjoy your week!

Dec 15, 2015

I wanted to put together something a little different for you today. You probably don’t know (yet) that I spent some time learning the art of physical comedy - you might call it “clown school” - at the Celebration Barn, here in South Paris, Maine. Looking back on the 15 years since then, it’s remarkable how many things I learned, about being present, about being a “yes,” and about rolling with whatever happens - that actually apply in real life. I mean, it only makes sense, right - otherwise why would theater and comedy, good theater and comedy, be so compelling? In the words of Will Shakespeare: All the world’s a stage - and today’s guest is going to help you see how to use that to your advantage in life, and in your relationship!

First let me ask you - what do you do to keep things playful with your partner? Are you inadvertently sabotaging the flow of good feelings, good energy, and goodwill in the way that you interact with each other? Is it possible that your fear of making mistakes is getting in the way of being fully there, in the moment? Today’s guest is going to talk about how to get over whatever fear is there so that you and your partner can keep building and growing in your connection.

Our guest’s name is Patti Stiles, and she is one of the world’s foremost experts on the art of improvisational theater. She studied directly with Keith Johnstone, author of the book "Impro", at the Loose Moose Theater, and has been working professionally acting, teaching, directing all over the world - since 1983. In today’s conversation, we’re going to talk about how to foster trust, acceptance, and playfulness in your relationship - so that once you see your life as a great work of improvisation - you’ll be able to do it...better!

Patti discusses the following topics:

  • What is good improvisation? Does bad improvisation exist?
  • Funny improv vs. reflective improv
  • Improvisation and real-life overlap in many areas
  • Realize it’s ok to make mistakes-this reduces fear and anxiety
  • It’s a challenge to help people overcome the fear of failure
  • Our partners are always making bids for our attention.
  • Being a “Yes,” being neutral, blocking—what do they look like?
  • What if you don’t want to be a YES?
  • Teaching improvisation is teaching to be present.
  • “Make your partner look good.”
  • The dilemma for a teacher/performer when students are glued to their cell phones
  • We don’t value the present moment in society today.
  • How you are isn’t equal to what you’re doing.
  • Sometimes doing something playful and joyous can bring the person back to the present.
  • Being creative can help overcome the boring routine.
  • Couples who are “stuck” usually think they themselves are boring.
  • When a relationship becomes “all about me,” then the focus is no longer on the story or the present.
  • There are exercises you can do to help your partner look good, like “Yes, let’s!” Learn to use the “Happy Nope.”
  • Contribute value to your partner’s world by inspiring their joy.
  • Is there a playful way to interrupt a partner’s assumption about me?
  • Improvisation seeks to bring people into places of trust, acceptance, and play.
  • How to use the negative/positive list

Resources:

www.pattistiles.com  

www.neilsattin.com/improv  Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Dec 8, 2015

Have you found a way to expand your view of what’s even possible for you in relationship? Do you have hidden beliefs that are getting in the way of feeling safe and connected in relationship? How much is the past keeping you out of the present? One MORE question: do you have strategies to enhance when things are going right, so that they can go even more right?

Today’s episode is going to be a little different. Many of the guests on Relationship Alive have been bestselling authors, and are people you recognize - and they’ve all influenced my own growth, both in relationship, and in my work with clients. That being said, one of my most influential teachers over the past several years is someone that you probably haven’t heard of - at least not until today - but her work has been profound for me in creating both deep inner transformation as well as helping me and my partner Chloe navigate the twists and turns of our relationship. Her name is Gabrielli LaChiara, and she is the creator of the Infinity Healing Practice - a combination of neural science, energy healing, and shamanism. Gabrielli is a gifted healer and teacher, and also a trained Social Worker - and she leads workshops and trainings on the east and west coast. In this conversation, she’s on fire as we dive into the special recipe of how to get unstuck and how to make a good relationship great. There’s some special magic at the very end as well, so make sure you listen all the way through.

Here are some of the key takeaways from our conversation:

  • What plays into the foundation of our relationships? In a context of having created a safe container, we can explore fulfilling our needs and desires - and getting safe again!
  • What did you bring with you as you entered this life? What legacy have you been handed by your genes? By the experiences of your ancestors and immediate family? How have you continued the patterns - and are you doing that by choice?
  • A primary question: Are you safe in your relationship? Are you physically safe? Do you know that you’re loved? Do you know that you’re seen? Do you know that you’re not going to be abandoned?
  • Are you in touch with what brought you together? Where is the beauty, the magic, the greatness, and the energy that brought you INTO relationship? What is the vision that was sparked at that time, that might now be clouded by negative experiences?
  • Do you have key agreements and structures in place to support your growth beyond negative patterns? Some key agreements between couples on a practical level are knowing when not to argue and knowing when to step away from the negative loop, to take space. It also might be an agreement to remind each other that you’re not trying to hurt each other! (and to get clear: are you trying to hurt your partner?)
  • Where are you not safe in your relationship? We have to learn how to deal with hurt, transgressions, judgment, and exit strategies and transform them into safety. Where do you have “exits” in place? It may not be a literal foot out the door - you might experience an “exit” as a place where you cope, or tune out, instead of leaning in when problems occur. Are you IN the relationship? Really in?
  • Are you “infected”? Have you been infected by giving your partner the power to control your state of mind and being?
  • What should one partner do if the other partner isn’t willing to “do the work” in the relationship? Generally, having an agenda to get your partner to change is a recipe for...well...not being happy. How much can you get right with your own experience? How much can you choose to be fully yourself? To what degree can you see yourself as the source of your experience? How does your partner change when you make that shift? The skills and tools we need to understand ourselves and our relationship are ALL ABOUT AWARENESS.
  • What’s going RIGHT in your relationship? How much time do you spend energizing your partner, fueling your appreciation of them and what you’re able to do/create together? What you focus on grows, so...can you focus extra time and attention on what’s going right?
  • How can you show up with compassion with your partner? Gabrielli uses the example of creating agreements and protocol around a partner’s sleep habits and rhythms. Instead of thinking “I won’t bring up anything after 7:30 pm because I won’t really get my needs met” you might think “I won’t bring up anything after 7:30 pm because I want to help my partner succeed - and I know that they won’t really be able to participate at that time”. Where can you support your partner, accept them, greet them with more compassion? Help them help you?
  • Who ARE you when you’re with your partner, or with a potential partner? Does the person amplify the qualities in you that you want to bring to the world? What is truly standing in the way of your being the person you want to be? Likewise, what qualities are you amplifying in the other person?
  • The MAGIC: Can you destroy and uncreate everything that you think you know to be true about yourself, about your partner? What else is possible?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources:

www.gabrielli.org - Gabrielli’s website

www.neilsattin.com/infinity   Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a free recording of the first class of the “Magic: Are You Willing!” teleclass.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Dec 1, 2015

What does it take to have a relationship that can thrive well into your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond? What are the best ways to FIND a conscious relationship? Or to shift your current relationship into a place of being energized for what’s possible? And have you ever wondered why it can be so easy to blame someone else in an argument - and if there’s any way to eradicate criticism and blame from your relationship once and for all?

Today’s guest is none other than Gay Hendricks, co-author with his wife Katie of the classic book Conscious Loving, as well as the new book Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond. Along with his wife, Gay is one of THE experts on how to have relationships that fit into the new paradigm for love - relationships that continue to grow and be a source of inspiration both within the partnership, but also for the communities surrounding the relationship. He has been a leader in the field of relationship transformation for over 45 years - and has appeared on Oprah, 48 Hours, CNN, and...today he is here on Relationship Alive.  Take a listen!

My conversation with Gay covers the following topics:

  • Conscious Loving Ever After, his new book with his wife Katie (or Kathlyn) Hendriks, picks up where their original Conscious Loving (1992) left off.
  • What does it take to have a thriving relationship into midlife and beyond? Are you taking into account your stage of adult development in your relationship? Does your relationship reinforce where you’re at in life? Even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, are you setting yourself up for long-term success in your life and relationship?
  • How do you find a partner for a conscious relationship, or shift your current relationship to a conscious relationship?
    • Step One is getting really clear on what you want in your relationship. What would you want to be committed to? What would you want your partner to be committed to? In our conversation, Gay recounts the steps he took on his personal journey to a “conscious loving” relationship with his wife, Katie. He crafted a “prayer to the universe” - a list detailing EXACTLY what he wanted in a relationship.
    • Step Two is to be clear about what you absolutely DON’T want. Gay had created a list of the three “must haves” and the three “must not haves”.
    • Step Three: After you’ve created your list of  Three Absolute Yesses and Three Absolute Nos in your relationship, the next step is to set a clear intention (some might call it a “prayer” - but you’re at least making a clear commitment to yourself) that you will NOT settle for less. That you are perfectly fine being single rather than settling.
  • Are you ok being alone? At this point it’s worth mentioning that if you’re NOT ok with being alone...what’s up? I’m not saying that you have to be ALONE alone, living like a hermit in some cave. Why not enjoy your community and your friends to the fullest, and the way that you can create intimacy with them, the way that your life and creative spark is (hopefully) supported by them, and let THAT send ripples out into the world (which has a good chance of leading you and your future partner to cross paths)?
  • What are the core commitments for a lifelong conscious relationship?
    • A commitment to honesty and integrity
    • A commitment to creative growth
    • A commitment to taking personal responsibility (no blame and criticism)
    • Are there any that you would add here?
  • What feelings come up for you as you make your list of musts and must-nots? In making a “list” of requirements, it’s important to acknowledge the feelings involved in each item: fear, sadness, despair, pain, love, excitement, etc. Can you feel those feelings and have compassion for yourself? Loving yourself more opens up more opportunities to love your partner.
  • Develop the skill of being present. To be “present” or “in the moment,” you have to open your heart, mind, and body and befriend your feelings. Can you be curious about your own feelings? Can you tend to the part of you that’s feeling them, especially the difficult emotions? Can you guide yourself through that instead of looking for a partner to do it for you?
  • Are you committed to your own Creativity? Many people realize at some point that they have sacrificed their creativity to fit into some “role” in life. However, allowing yourself to do something creative every day, to surprise yourself, will allow you to grow the part of you that is the unique expression of YOU on the planet. The more that you can be more fully YOU, the more that you can more fully be in relationship with a partner and encourage them to be more fully them.
  • Pay attention to how you’re using technology. Today’s technology actually brings more opportunities to be dishonest with your partner unless open-hearted communication is a priority in your relationship. Are there things that you’re hiding from your partner? Or are you letting technology get in the way of direct, face-to-face (and heart-to-heart) communication with your partner?
  • Can you commit to having a relationship free from criticism and blame? It’s easy to get addicted to the little bursts of adrenaline that we get when we criticize or blame our partners, and yet no force is more destructive in a relationship.
  • How can you stop blaming and take responsibility? First step is to commit to looking within for the answers. Try a “wonder-shift,” - saying something to yourself like “Hmmmm, I wonder...what it is that I’m doing that keeps causing this experience to happen?” or “Hmmm, I wonder...what my partner’s experience of me is right now?” or...you get the drift, right? :-)

 

 

 

 

Resources:

www.hendricks.com - Gay and Katie Hendricks's website

www.neilsattin.com/gay is the direct link to this episode. Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide. If you download the guide within the first week of this episode's airing, you are automatically qualified for a chance to win a signed copy of “Conscious Loving Ever After”!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment by Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks

Conscious Loving Ever After: How to Create Thriving Relationships at Midlife and Beyond by Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks

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