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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: June, 2016
Jun 29, 2016

These days, I don’t think that you can have a conversation about conscious relationship without talking about polyamory. For me, it usually comes up in a couple different contexts - first, it can simply be when I’m talking with someone who is already actively exploring polyamory and wondering how to do it better, or is single and pondering whether polyamory might be right for them. And then there are couples who are currently monogamous who are thinking about the possibility of opening up their relationship to other partners - for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes that can work, and other times...not so much. There’s also the experience of jealousy - that almost always comes up in conversations about polyamory - although it’s relevant for everyone no matter what your relationship status.

How do you know if polyamory is right for you? How do you know if your currently monogamous relationship could benefit from opening things up, or if it’s a bad idea? And how do you handle jealousy in your life - no matter what your circumstances?

On today’s episode, we’re talking with Janet W. Hardy, co-author with Dossie Easton of the Book “The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Adventures”. Janet is one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of how to have a healthy experience with polyamory, and she’s on the show to tackle the questions we just raised - and more. It’s going to be quite a wide-ranging conversation that, I hope, will offer something useful for you no matter how you’re thinking about polyamory, or the effects of jealousy, in your own life.

Polyamory is self-defined. Polyamory is everything and anything from a long-term multi-year relationship with more than one person to a circle of sexual friends, to a committed couple who brings another into their bedroom from time to time. The terminology is not nearly as important as if it is working or not.

What makes for a successful poly relationship? What makes poly work, is really similar to what makes any relationship work. This includes being respectful of each other’s boundaries but willing to try things that are a little challenging, sharing responsibility and taking care of life’s commitments, and making sure that that everyone’s needs are being met. Polyamory does however, often require more time and the ability to manage complex schedules! Not to mention, incredibly honed self-awareness and communication skills. Many people go in and out of monogamy as life circumstances change. Getting your PhD and raising 2 children? Might not be the time to start exploring multiple partners!

Worthwhile discussions: Whether or not you consider yourself monogamous or poly, there are some very important conversations that help set expectations and create mutual understanding. Get curious and vulnerable in your questions- what is within the agreement and what is not? Porn. Masturbation. Flirting. Sexting. All of these things must be discussed together with your partner(s) and clear agreements must be made.  

Remember that knowing your boundaries is YOUR responsibility- not anyone else’s. This is where self-awareness is critical! We cannot negotiate for agreements if we do not know what our needs are!

Is becoming poly ever the answer to relationship problems? Rarely. Becoming poly is a choice, not a prescription or a solution. Only in the case that there is a healthy, happy and sustained couple in which one person wants a different kind of sex (more kink, rougher, gender switch, etc)- then maybe. Unless a couple has very developed communication skills and a willingness to try things that may feel challenging, than this is not the time.

Jealousy has nothing to do with the other- it has to do with ME. People in poly situations have learned this over and over. They have chosen to make a commitment (and to recommit) to learning how to survive jealousy. There are skills and perspectives that help deal with the hurt without it growing out of proportion or becoming a limiting factor in connection. We have a cultural tendency and belief that jealousy is the most terrible of emotions- and further, that it entitles us to act out in horrible ways. But what if we can learn to see jealousy as a gift? It is like a neon blinking arrow that brightly highlights the things that we do not like about ourselves. And when we can see this we can take care of it! Because, in essence, jealousy is simply a sense of feeling bad that is projected onto another.

When you have survived a jealousy storm - you learn that it gets easier! When we have surges of intense emotion we have the tendency to create stories. Challenge yourself to get curious. What if this is just energy that I am experiencing? What if this isn’t what I think it is? Over time you will develop a set of skills and muscles that will help you take care of yourself as you navigate through jealousy. When we let go of the idea that it is anybody’s job but our own to get through jealousy then we gain a clearer idea of what we can do to soothe ourselves.

Requests to restore safety and connection: Self-care during jealousy storms do not necessarily have to be a solo experience. Advocate for your needs by asking your partner to show care and safety through actions- calling, cuddling, special dates, gifts, etc. These requests, when they come from a self-aware partner and not too overly dependent place, are critical in restoring safety for the person who is feeling angry/sad/scared. Furthermore, take a close look at the jealousy. Often times there is underlying grief for the loss of imagined partnership and future.

Me, and the things I don’t like about myself. Sometimes jealousy manifests in racing looping thoughts. At this point, get out a sketchpad or a journal and write or express all of your thoughts on the issue. When we bring underlying fears, worries, and concerns to consciousness we are more able to see them for what they are- we see that most of our pain is not what others are doing to us, but rather our insecurities manifesting. Remember humor, and remember self-compassion.

We all make compromises to be in relationship. The surest way you can tell that you don’t have an agreement is when one partner does not agree to it anymore! If one partner is consistently violating an agreement, then it needs to be reevaluated. If an agreement cannot be reached than the partner who feels that their agreement was violated has to learn to either 1) live with the reality that the agreement is going to get breached, or 2) decide that they cannot live with it and move towards a respectful end to the relationship.

Embracing conflict: Arguments do not necessarily have to be places of disconnection. And they do not have to be inflamed. In fact, arguments are incredibly powerful conversations that help clarify various perspectives. Learning to argue without inflammation is a skill and an art worth practicing with your partner(s). Get creative! Schedule your ‘fights’. Set aside 20 minutes that are dedicated to a specific conflict. Doing so can allow for the reactive emotions to settle before diving in, and allows for safer and more patient fighting that increases the spaciousness necessary to evolve how you think as a couple. Do not, however, forget to use a timer! Give person A 3 minutes to make their point, then give 1 minute for silent reflection, and then 3 minutes for person B. Have an agreed upon ending- we all know that the desire to have the last word in arguments makes them more raw, dangerous, and divisive.

TIP: Together create a place in the house for open dialogue! Or a specific piece of clothing that you don for times you want to communicate to your partner “Hey babe! I’d love to talk now- can you join me for this conversation?” A specific couch, a a candle you light, or an old t-shirt.

SAFE word: As is common in the BDSM community- it is incredibly helpful to have a shared key word that either partner can use when they sense there needs to be a time out, or a redirection. Together you need to have a way to communicate that you are too triggered, upset, or reactive, and that you want to come back together when you are both feeling a little safer and saner.  Make it fun- find something that has shared humor!

Monogamy does not mean that you do not get horny for other people! Monogamous or not, we all will be attracted to other people and have desires throughout our lives. That said, it can be challenging at times to know when to accept desires as passing inevitabilities, and when to try opening your relationship. It is key that the interest in opening a relationship comes only from a solid and stable place- the relationship should be working on almost all levels.

Tolerable discomfort: One way you can tell if a poly relationship is working is that the one partner who is wanting poly a little less feels slightly out of their comfort zone and the other one who is more interested in poly is feeling a little bit confined. If everyone is just a little tolerably uncomfortable then it is working! Remember, this all requires incredible levels of curiosity and compassion, and communication! Fierce intimacy is possible when everyone is communicating well!

Bring your questions into conversation with your partner in a way that is thoughtful. It is critical to always have a lot of love and care for your partner when discussing sexual and romantic needs, but never as critical as it is the first few times you bring it up. Do not surprise your partner, or come heavy handed. Be gentle, yet clear, and start by simply saying “Hey babe, I want to share that I am thinking about this…” . Perhaps you can start by sharing erotica, looking at personal ads, or spinning fantasies together. You might try free associating some thoughts about what your life would or could look like with new agreements. Some couples then try sharing their bed with a third- this might be all you end up doing, or just a stepping stone to further explorations.

Easy things to get you to hard places: This is a great exercise to do together to help explore your edges: Get a pack of index cards and have both of you separately write down everything you could imagine your partner doing with another person. Be very specific. Order these cards into a hierarchy of things that seem tolerable to things that seem impossibly difficult. You will learn a lot about your partner- but also about yourself! The things that you thought were going to be very difficult may very well become possible, and vice-versa! Most people surprise themselves. If poly is new to you and you are having a difficult time warming into the concept- think about what is in it for you. This might be anything from having a happier partner, to more time for yourself, or more time to explore stuff that YOU are excited about. Remember poly is a spectrum that can be defined in many ways- there are a lot of possibilities. That said, if you are a definite NO, clearly articulate this to your partner is a non-shaming way.

Do versus Don’t Agreements:  For those of you just beginning to explore polyamory, you will be highly focused on your agreements about what is and is not allowed.  These often come in the form of ‘Don’ts’, but over time invite in a shift towards what you do do. For example, “I don’t want you to have intercourse with her” might become “after you have intercourse with her, I really need you back in bed for some reassurance and a sense of your physical presence”. Things you agree to DO are much easier to administer and bring in a sense of motivation, energy and vibrancy to the relationship. Learn ways you can reconnect- baths, massages, dinners, gifts, hot springs, etc. and incorporate these into your agreements!

Lastly: Find a poly community!!! The lack of role models can be really difficult. Plus, once immersed in a poly community you will learn from others how to navigate boundaries, jealousy, negotiations, compromises, and even gain valuable insight into what is possible in the bedroom and out!

Resources

Read Janet’s book The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures

Learn more about Janet’s work and read her recent writing on her website

For more on this topic check out Erotic Mind- Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfilment

Polyamory and Jealousy: A More Than Two essentials guide is a workbook for couples in open relationships dealing with jealousy and can be found on the More Than Two website

www.neilsattin.com/poly Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode and qualify to win a signed copy of Janet Hardy’s book.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Jun 22, 2016

In today’s show, I want to cover a few key questions. How do I identify what “stage” my relationship is at? How can I make that information actually useful for me? How do I know if it’s worth it to keep putting in the time and energy required? We’re going to dive deep into how to answer that question, to diagnose how both you and your partner are showing up - what can be celebrated, and what can be improved.

Also, in case you haven’t seen it yet, I wanted to remind you that there’s a free guide on my website, neilsattin.com, called - “The Single Most important thing that will make or Break Your Relationship” - if you don’t have it yet, please check it out, as it’s a clear guide to understanding your needs, and your partner’s needs, in relationship. You can simply visit neilsattin.com and click the “send me the action plan” button - or you can text the word “Relationship” to the number 33444 and follow the instructions to get your free guide.

OK - now - let’s get started. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover! So there’s a basic premise that I have for you...Relationships can be hard work and...it’s worth it.

Jun 15, 2016

Judging from the emails that I get and the clients that I see, many of you are looking for more information about how to repair a relationship after something big, like infidelity, has happened. How do you repair trust? How do you get your relationship from a place that can feel like total chaos through to the other side - where you have a new sense of possibility and vitality in your connection, and what’s happened is just a distant memory?

Today’s guest is Terry Real. You may remember him from episode 4 on Advanced Relationship Jiu-Jitsu - he’s the author of the book The New Rules of Marriage, What You Need to Know to Make Love Work, founder of Relational Life Therapy, and internationally known couples expert and family therapist. Terry Real has also partnered with Esther Perel for trainings on the topic of recovering from Infidelity - which is one reason why I thought he’d be a great guest expert on this topic. So on today’s show, we’re going to revisit the topic of Infidelity (which we also covered in episode 36 with Janis Abrahms Spring), and tackle exactly what steps are involved in how to repair after an affair.

A couple housekeeping things I also wanted to mention. For those of you who are listening right when this episode comes out, you should know that Terry and Esther Perel have also teamed up for a new online course, called the Power of Intimacy. The course explores the influence of power dynamics on the passion in a relationship - and how to come back into a healthy, vibrant balance when things are out of whack. The course was designed for primarily for couples therapists, and I know a lot of you listening to the show do with couples and might be interested. I got a sneak peek at the course, and I think there’s a lot of good stuff there for you even if you’re not a therapist and simply interested in advancing your skills in relationship. For more information you can use the link http://www.neilsattin.com/power - and that will take you to their site - and if you do happen to buy their course a portion of the course fee will help support the podcast. If you’re interested in their course and don’t want to necessarily support the podcast, you can just visit http://www.powerofintimacy.com directly. The course enrollment is only open for a few more days (because it includes live calls with Terry and Esther Perel) - so if you’re interested - check it out before they close the doors.

One last thing. It’s summer! And I live in Maine - so every year when the temperature soars above 60 it feels like a miracle. I am going to do my best to keep this a weekly show, especially for you loyal listeners - but that might mean getting creative with the content here and there since many of my guests are taking summer breaks - and a little more difficult to track down. However, if I miss a week here and there don’t despair! This podcast isn’t going anywhere. After all, we were recently named one of the top 10 relationship podcasts by Women’s Health Magazine. That couldn’t have happened without you - your help getting the word out and keeping the ideas coming for interesting episodes. And there are definitely some interesting episodes coming!

OK - enough from me! I am so excited to have Terry Real back on the show, to share more of his advanced relational wisdom with us. Here’s what we cover:

How to define infidelity: Infidelity can be defined as the combination of a transgression or betrayal of some kind, and deceit. No matter whether the transgression is emotional, or physical, it is still occurring in the mind. Infidelity can be everything from a multi year affair, to texting, sexting, recontacting an old flame, or touching hands- and even these relatively mundane actions can become highly charged and erotic. In general, there are three types of affairs:

Relational affairs- acting out in reaction to primary relationship issues

Personality affairs- acting out of narcism and/or immaturity

Existential affairs- primary relationship is healthy and loving, but person feels that life is short and wants to experience more

YOU are responsible for what you do on your side of the seesaw. Always remember that you are responsible for the way you choose to act/not act. A difficult or unfulfilling relationship does not justify an affair. Yes, you may be completely right that your relationship needed some shaking up and change, but this does not sanctify hurtful or deceitful behavior.

Holding yourself accountable. Boundaries are unique to each couple, and therefore must be defined together (hopefully before a transgression occurs). If you are currently in a relationship, bring this up with your partner with curiosity and compassion, and begin to ask each other about what your implicit and explicit rules about monogamy are: does it include texting? What should be shared and what can remain silent? Etc.

One general rule to know if you are engaging in appropriate behavior with others is to imagine that a REASONABLE partner was observing or overhearing you. If they saw or heard what you were doing or saying - would they be upset? If so, treat this as a good wake up call!

Distrust and trauma: Being on the receiving end of infidelity is a traumatic experience. The hurt partner’s sense of reality and trust is so deeply assaulted and violated by the actions that they are left feeling as though the ground beneath them is gone. So how does one come back and repair from such a reality shattering experience? The good news is that about 2/3rds of couples survive an infidelity (and the odds are greatly increased if you engage in good therapy).

Three phases of repair:

Phase 1: The beginning phase is focused on the fresh and raw hurt, and the insecurity that comes after the discovery. It is a time to work on acute issues including grounding and addressing the trauma that the hurt partner may be experiencing. The hurt partner might have acute symptoms such as throwing up, insomnia, nightmares, panic attacks, etc. Seeking support from a therapist to help with stabilizing is a good idea.

Phase 2: This second phase is focused on exploring the underlying meaning of the infidelity. The focus shifts away from the specific details of how the infidelity unfolded, and more into an exploratory questioning about motives, lessons, and insights.

Phase 3: The final phase occurs once resolution and repair has thoroughly been explored. The couple is now able to begin to re envision their relationship. The goal is not just to have couples survive, but to have the relationship transformed through the crisis.  

TRUST is a big word.  Trust is not an on-off switch. Repairing trust and coming to a place of intimacy after a breach of trust is a long process, and unique to each couple. That said, there are some strategies that can help build trust:

Reassuring behaviors: Reassuring behaviors are actions that the couple can take together to explicitly address transparency and accountability. This might include going over emails and text messages once a week, or sending photographs of what you are actually doing (are you in that hotel room you said you would be?). These requests must reasonable and moderate, and come from a place of building trust, rather than shaming/blaming or re-punishing the one who breached the trust. Keep some boundaries: partners do not need passwords to each other’s devices - instead, come together to look at your interactions with others and grow from these opportunities to reconnect.

Moving towards investigative questions: While a reasonable amount of clarification after an affair/infidelity is appropriate and acceptable, the hurt partner must work to move away from detective questions that only scratch the wound. The growth and repair happens when the couple enters a deeper exploration together. Investigative questions include questions such as “what parts of you got woken up?”, “what did that mean to you?”, etc.

Addressing the two aching questions: The hurt partner always has two burning questions:

  1. How could you do this to me?
  2. How do I know you won’t do it again?

These questions begin to be answered in the first phase of repair. In this phase the involved partner must take full responsibility to share and own their actions - to tell the whole truth without ragged disclosures and to make no excuses. They do not necessarily need to have remorse for the affair, but rather for the damage and hurt it has caused their primary partner. Repair then begins when the involved partner is in a place of ownership over what they did and willingness to look deeply inside and ask exploratory questions that will lead to understanding and change. As for question two, it is complicated! You don’t ever really know. Trust is provisional and you may never have that blind trust that you had before, but that does not necessarily mean that you are in a bad or weak relationship, it just means that you are not naive anymore.

Trust develops from learning. The bottom line is that there is some risk involved in being in relationship! Love requires vulnerability, and so there is no ultimate protection or promise that can be made to assuage all worries. That said, couples can not only repair from a breach in trust, but gain a whole new dimension of connectedness and commitment. Trust comes from the learning that occurs through difficulty and challenge. You’ll recognize the repair in your gut - that feeling that your partner is not the same one who acted out in the first place.

Use the hurt as a catalyst. Without putting a silver lining or a bow around the awful, it is possible to use infidelity as a catalyst for growth, and a chance to look deeply at yourself, your partner, and your relationship!

TIP: It is very hard to navigate the rawness and depth of this hurt alone. Get some kind of support! It can be incredibly valuable to have an objective third party help to hold your relationship as it reconfigures itself and to help address all the layers of healing simultaneously so that you, and your partner can not just survive, but thrive.

Resources

Read Terry’s most recent book The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need To Know To Make Love Work

Learn more about Terry’s work and the Relational Life Institute on his website

Go to his website to find a couple’s therapist

www.neilsattin.com/terry2 Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Terry Real.

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

Jun 7, 2016

How do you really see another person? And how do allow yourself to BE seen? How can you deepen into knowing the people around you, especially your partner, more honestly, more fully? These seem like they would be obvious questions in the case of relationship, and yet so often we plunge into partnership, driven by chemistry and desire, only to wake up later, sometimes years later, and to find that we’re simply going through the motions, vaguely (or extremely) dissatisfied, and knowing on some level that something more is possible. Today, we’re going to take this on directly, to go to the heart of vulnerability - opening up to the experience of the moment with another.

Guy Sengstock is the earliest founder of “circling” and the co-founder of the Circling Institute. He’s also an exceptional coach, with a gift to help you see the water you’re swimming in. Circling is a practice that allows you to experience what it’s like to be fully “gotten” by other people - and for them to get a sense of what it would truly be like to be in your shoes. If you enjoyed Episode 13 on Attunement, with Keith Witt, or episode 6, on developing shared consciousness with Patricia Albere, then you are going to love this deep dive into how to really get related with yourself and another human being.

Today, Guy and I dive into the following:

What is Circling? Circling is more practice than it is concept. It is a practice that when done in a group is simply following and giving ourselves to what is most alive in the moment with others. It is a presence practice. Like a mantra in meditation or an asana in yoga, the object of focus in Circling is the moment to moment occurrences in relationship. This relational practice helps us become uncomfortable in a particular way, that can help open us to new aspects of ourselves that we then take into our relationships outside of the practice.

Relational asanas: At the heart of circling is the simple (yet challenging) intention of speaking the moment, such that you are voicing what you are noticing and sensing AS IT OCCURS. Most human conversations are triangular in that you and I talk about a subject - rarely is it present tense and speaking in, for, and about the moment. Circling is similar to an asana in yoga, but in this case it is a relational asana. How can we learn to not speak about, and rather speak and listen for what is happening right in this moment? When we do this, we step into surprise and mystery because we do not know what will happen next. From this risk, our aliveness and our anxiety increases.

Share your anxiety -  So many times we hide our anxiety from our partners, and often from ourselves. Anxiety and a nervous feeling helps to illuminate areas of stuckness/friction - a trailhead for finding out what is important enough to cause such an acute sensation! When we learn to share our anxiety with our partner, we show them that we care enough to include them. If and when you notice anxiety in the other, do not take it as a red flag, but rather a moment to get curious- “Oh woah, I’m imagining there is something really important to you that is making you feel so strongly”. Opening up our most vulnerable and sticky feelings to our partner brings in a whole new dynamic to the relationship! It opens the doors to what is ACTUALLY occurring in a way that can then be explored and known, rather than simply managed.

Being in someone else’s shoes. Really feel heard and known. What is it about circling that brings about the experience of real connection? In circling, we really acknowledge ourselves as nervous systems that are inherently open to the world (permeable and transparent to it). When I look at you, I can actually start to imagine what it is like to be in your nervous system. I can start to sense what you are afraid of, how what I am saying impacts you, etc. In all deep levels of conversation and intimacy, what we are saying to the other is “I am close to knowing, understanding, and caring about what you care about”. And in caring about each other, we find out what WE really care about. When we tune in this closely, it is almost as if someone could ask you to make a decision as if you were the other person, and you would feel like you could! Of course, there is a critical line between feeling as though you know someone through being present with them, and believing you know someone.

How do you know that you have an assumption? You don’t! Assumptions are inherently places we are unaware - if we know about it, then it isn’t an assumption anymore! Assumptions are a natural reaction to being in relation and we all have and hold them! And they are not to be feared or shamed - in fact, we can even look forward to moments of dissonance. Once an assumption is named, it then becomes great information and material for exploring. What if instead of trying to get to right and wrong (which inevitably leads to repression or argument), you got curious? What if your response to being triggered was to become curious about you, about your partner, about your relationship and what is happening to you, them, and the couple in that moment!?

What to do when the record stops. Okay, so everything is going swell, and then all of a sudden the record screeches to a halt, and you and your partner are in a disagreement. How we respond in that moment is going to make a huge impact on how the next moment will unfold. Try letting go of proving who is right and who is wrong- and instead, choose curiosity.

What exactly is curiosity? Curiosity is the first thing to go when we contract, and one of the primary aspects of being open. Whatever curiosity actually is, it is deeply connected to our level of openness. And of course, the moments when it would be generative and helpful to be curious are exactly the times when we do not feel it. And so we must choose it.

Leaning in: Choosing curiosity might look like this: 1. Acknowledge (with the intention to relate) that something just happened, and 2) Ask your partner: What just happened, for you? What was the impact on you of what I just said/did? How did that occur to you? What did _____ mean to you? How did you take that? Demonstrate that you actually care by showing your intention to really know them. Asking these leaning in questions affirms and acknowledges their otherness, and that you are a being that has no authority to know what they are feeling or thinking, but that you want to share and know! Leaning forward and in with our questions and attention is an act of offering to someone our deep desire to fully understand them.

We cannot force intimacy to happen - we can only invite it out! Sometimes when we ask such direct questions, we will be met with “I don’t know”. Honor this - it is a reminder that we cannot force closeness. We cannot manage or take away how our partner is experiencing us, and you must remember to make space for them to share with you what is actually happening inside their world.  If someone does not want or is unable to share with us how they are feeling, you can try to ask a follow up question: “Huh, you don’t know? I’m imagining that you are too mad to talk right now, is that true? Or perhaps in asking you how that was for you you feel invaded, or pressured? Is that true for you?”

When someone reveals what is true for them, it is an act of their own human freedom, and so when they don’t, we can only respect their individuality and sometimes, share our personal experience: “When you said you don’t know, I just noticed that I was feeling some anxiety in my chest and I started to lean forward more”. This type of sharing - the kind that reveals what is happening inside of us - is unarguable. When we share from this place we gift our partner insight into a space that is wholly, and holy, us. Thus inviting intimacy, and aliveness!

Intimacy is a function of our ability to tolerate anxiety. You can’t separate wetness from water - in the same way, you can’t have intimacy without discomfort. We spend a lot of energy trying to not say truths that we feel might push our partner away. In submitting, controlling, dominating, or dissociating from discomfort we diminish the possibility of intimacy and aliveness. It becomes harder and harder to be ourselves, and we end up risking connection for fear of disconnection. When instead, we share our truth and take that risk, we grow! And yes, it is unpredictable, and yes, it is anxiety producing because it immerses us in a reality that anything could happen. And yet, to have more and more depth and competence in our relationships- we need to just jump in and even invite in more ambiguity! Although scary and uncomfortable in the moment, the times when we share what is really happening for us, we begin to create a deep and genuine sense of security in our relationships.

Life is about reaching out to become what it is. By entering into unknown, unpredictable, and uncontrollable territory together, you learn and build what your connection really is.  If i am continually willing to be myself, and willing to let you be yourself, then we may actually find out what is really true for us. This is the case because we are not known selves when we enter relationships. As is implicit in nature, in biology, in wherever life unfolds, relationships are a constant becoming. And to become, there must be some friction, or dissonance. Look at evolution! If all had gone perfectly, there would still only be single celled organisms! When life is introduced to irritation, it creates itself in higher order of complexity. Life becomes itself through interactions with discord. This is true in relationships as well. We ourselves are revealed in moments of relational tension. Our reactions and responses are a feedback loop that tells us what is important, and what makes our heart hurt, and grow. Staying present, and being willing to be in the unknown, will inevitably lead to a surprising new sense of aliveness and closeness!  

A TIP for kickass dating - In dating, we are constantly screening the present for clues about how we will feel in the future. Becoming masterful of noticing and illuminating how a conversation is actually going automatically translates into kickass dating! It will help you embrace the anxiety in the moment in a way that is fun. Step into the curiosity and ask yourself “What am I going to learn about myself from this person?”

TRY THIS AT HOME: In a relationship you care about (with your primary partner or other), simply see what happens when you introduce your experience of what is happening right now, in the relationship. “Right now i am noticing you…. And it makes me feel …..”. Then just pause and find out what happens. Notice that by the time you finish your sentence you don’t know what will happen next! A lot of the time we speak to each other in order to know what will happen after we talk... instead, be willing to move away from triangular conversation- and generously name what is happening for you right now. More specifically, try to bring a practice of gratitude into moment to moment interactions. “I am grateful right now for this moment we are having” or “I’m noticing how you are leaning right now, and I’m feeling so touched by it”. Etc.

Remember- every single moment holds the possibility of growth! A present focus invites this sense of aliveness!

Resources

If you are interested in coaching email Guy at guysengstock@gmail.com

To read some of Guy’s writings check out his website!  

To learn more about being trained in Circling check out their website

www.neilsattin.com/circlecircle Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Guy Sengstock and be entered to qualify for a free two-hour couching session!

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

 

Jun 1, 2016

What is the key to developing your ability to be curious, in life and in relationship? How do you break old patterns and truly discover something new and exciting with your partner? What are some ways to shift your perspective in relationship, to stay present and turn a painful situation into an opportunity to grow even closer with your partner? If you are looking for some new ways to discover what’s possible in relationship, then this episode is for you.

On today’s show, we’re also going to get a little up close and personal. Over the past 40 episodes of the show, you’ve heard me mention my partner, Chloe, at various times - the book that we’re working on, things that we’ve gone through in our own relationship, and the way that we work with clients, both individually and together. Today, my partner Chloe Urban joins me, and in our conversation we’re going to cover a mix of practical guidance, our journey, and more - to give you a sense of just what might be possible for you in relationship. You can find out a little more about our work together at our website, thenewloveparadigm.com - or you can text the word “POSSIBLE” to the number 33444 to get a link to a free guided meditation that we put together - we’ll tell you a little more about that later in the episode.

Curiosity, curiosity, curiosity! Curiosity is one of the most critical qualities you can bring to, and cultivate within, your relationship. Bringing the intention to be curious into every possible moment opens up a whole new realm of possibility and immediately and drastically shifts the energy of how we are in partnership.

Curiosity is a skill- Curiosity is not as much conceptual, as it is concrete. You can increase your capacity to be curious, and you can choose in any given moment to switch into curiosity. To do so, we must step outside of the moment enough to invoke a question. We must be willing, humble, open, and vulnerable enough to be in the question, as opposed to being in what we think the answer is.

The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life. Good questions are key to the energy shift that is so often needed in moments of tension and contraction. Increasing your capacity to be present, and be in curiousity is based on expanding the questions you are able to ask. Old habitual ways of asking questions (“why can’t you do this? Why is this so hard?” etc) leads to habitual patterns- so work to switch it up!

Here are some questions to try on:

What is really going on here?

What else could this be?

How old am I being right now?

What is this triggering for me?

Do I feel like you are being my mother or father right now?

What is beneath that?

Is this even mine that I am feeling?

What do I know that i am pretending not to know?

If I were being compassion or connection right now, who would I be?

If I were being open to divine love, who would I be right now?

If I was being my truest self right now, what would I know?

If I was in total alignment with myself right now, how would I be?

Presence is key. Curiosity is a huge part of presence, and vice-versa. It is important to learn together to create the skills and the safety in which you both, at different times, are able to notice and name an energy shift (pulling away, tension, distraction, avoidance, reactivity) without judgement. From this noticing, the moment becomes the portal to a larger awareness and discovery about what is actually going on. This is true because so often the emotions we are having in any given moment have little to do with what is occurring in the moment, and yet, the moment is a portal and our only access point to past, and future healing.

Triggers can be gifts: With enough compassion and curiosity, our triggers gift us windows into places in our past that require healing. Often there is something occurring in the moment that causes tension, frustration, or fear, but rarely is that the entire cause of our emotional reactions. Can you find ways to support your partner by simultaneously honoring their present-moment feelings, while holding the space and asking the questions necessary to communicate your curiosity for their whole experience, past present and future? As you can imagine, doing so requires that we notice, name, and care for our own needs and reactions. If you are willing to stay in curiosity, and not check-out or go into full on reactive mode, the trigger does become a gift that leads to breakthroughs.

If you hold each other through the resistance, things WILL shift on the other side. Another key skill in this process of learning to be present with your partner, is the ability to observe when one or the other of you are checking out or contracting. How many times do you sense your partner withdrawing? Ask them- “where did you go? I’m not feeling you anymore, where are you? I feel like you aren’t with me right now, is that true for you?” If these questions are asked without shaming or blaming, then an open dialogue can develop that helps illuminate what is actually happening, so that you can get to the whys. Staying present for the explosions, the disappearances, and the distractions, is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself and your partner, because it inevitably leads to a shifting and an opening.

Name the positive things you feel! What you focus on, grows! When things are amazing- give a lot of attention to cement those positive feelings. Of course it is not all going to be pretty, but overall you want to cultivate an overarching positive tone to your relationship- a sense of feeling good together, feeling blessed, grateful, appreciative, and fulfilled. When these moments come- don’t take them for granted! Note them. Acknowledge them. Celebrate them.

We wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t gotten help! Yes, part of being in relationship is about being willing to be truly seen, and willing to truly see. Given that we are complex ever-changing beings, this seeing and getting to know, is a continual process. While there are so many ways to develop your capacity to honestly reflect on yourself and mirror your partner, there are times when a third party is key in helping us truly get a clearer perspective. Seeking outside support has unfortunately received a stigma as a sign of weakness, when it is in fact one of the most courageous and most compassionate steps you and your partner can take towards growth.

Try this today! Start bringing those questions in! Notice how quickly you, and your dynamics shift! Confused about what question to ask? Try to simply ask yourself- what would this look like if i responded to this feeling with a question? What question might i ask that would shift this for me? This may lead you to a very different experience. If you aren’t feeling very curious, you can always invoke it through asking yourself: “what if this experience that I am having, is not what I think it is?”

Resources

Learn more about our work and listen to our free meditation on our website, thenewloveparadigm.com!

Another way to find out more about working with us go here to setup a new free initial appointment!

www.neilsattin.com/chloeandneil  Visit to download the show guide, or text “POSSIBLE” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Chloe Urban

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out!

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