When someone gives you a gift, what do you do? Do you stick it in the closet and wait for a rainy day? Or do you open it, and appreciate it, right then and there? Whether things are going well for you right now, or you're stuck in something less-than-awesome, this week's episode offers you a simple practice that can help amplify the good things - and find the grain of hope in any situation, no matter how dismal.
After all, it's often not the big things that matter - it's the simple things, the simple gifts, that keep us fueled in connection - connection to the things that matter most in life.
Also make sure that you check out last week's episode with Erica Ariel Fox, on how to Create New Possibility from the Inside Out - based on her New York Times bestselling book, Winning from Within. Next week, we'll be chatting about the power of conscious commitment ceremonies, with David and Lila Sophia Tresemer, authors of The Conscious Wedding Handbook.
So enjoy this week's "simple gift" and see you next week!
How do you get better at being you? How do you get past the stuck points - that gap between what you know you could/should do - and what you actually do? We have a vast amount of inner resource available to us to help get unstuck and learn new ways of showing up - and today we’re going to bring that resource online. Our guest is Erica Ariel Fox, author of the New York Times Bestseller Winning from Within. Erica is part of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and her book follows up where Difficult Conversations leaves off - addressing that question of “How come this still isn’t working even though I know what I’m supposed to do?” Often, it comes down to the inner work that needs to be done - so that the outer strategies can actually be effective for you.
(if you’re curious - you can listen to our interview with Sheila Heen, one of the authors of Difficult Conversations, here in Episode 59)
So - where do you start when you’re trying to figure out why what ought to be working...isn’t? How do you figure out what parts of you need attention, growth, and development? Let’s dive in!!
Identify the performance gap: All of us have experienced times in which our behavior and actions were incongruent with what we wished we were doing or knew that we were capable of. Instead of being the reflective listener in a conversation you find yourself yelling… Instead of taking that walk you find yourself sitting eating the last of the cookies… Everyone of us has moments in which we know what to do, but do not do it. Can you notice these moments? Can you have a lookout part that observes the gap between intention and action? And can you work to separate this awareness from a judging part?
Talk to yourself! The process of going inside and checking in is critical in building self-awareness so that we can make new choices in how we relate to ourselves and the world. Slow down and begin listening in on your internal thought life. Are you constantly criticizing yourself? Judging others? Is your mind filled with gratitudes or grumblings?
Mindfulness moments: Make these internal life pulse checks frequent rituals. Perhaps you choose to check in every hour on the hour to see what you are thinking, feeling, doing, needing, and wanting. Taking intentional pauses to check in with your physiology and inner life leads to an increased sense of curiosity - the key catalyst for change. By listening with curiosity to the story you have of yourself at any given moment you begin to open to the possibility of growth and aliveness.
Centering on the continuum: As you turn inward can you find the 4 big archetypes? They are the Thinker, the Warrior, the Lover, and the Dreamer. Each one of us holds these four ways of navigating life and the world around us, however they may be elevated or deflated at any given moment. There is a middle ground with all of these- and we are constantly working with these parts to integrate them into a balanced whole. When centered these parts of ourselves are helpful, and can begin to give us counsel. Tune in regularly to see which parts are silenced, and which parts are on overdrive. By checking in on the status of these archetypes inside ourselves we can gather a lot of information regarding what we need more or less of.
The Thinker: A centered thinker collects information, synthesizes, finds logical answers, and remains open to changing their thinking. An elevated thinker might think they know the answer. They might stay convinced they are right and remain closed off to other perspectives. A deflated thinker is someone who doesn’t think their ideas matter at all. They are constantly questioning themselves, filled with doubt, and are rarely able to stand up for their ideas.
The Warrior: The warrior is the assertive part of ourselves. If inflated it becomes aggressive, if deflated it makes us avoid conflict and confrontation.
The Lover: The lover is the part of us that has emotional intelligence and is naturally inclined towards relationships. If this part is inflated we may become emotionally flooded and too dependent on relationships. If the lover in us is deflated we may devalue our emotions, and become distrustful of the emotional urges we have.
The Dreamer: The dreamer is the part of us that is connected with our imagination and with envisioning the future. It helps us get excited about the future, about possibilities, and helps steer us to what is next. If the dreamer is inflated we may become ungrounded and unrealistic. An inflated dreamer gets too far ahead too fast. A deflated dreamer feels lost with no sense of purpose or direction.
The Lookout: As we’ve already mentioned, this is the part of you that can be aware of patterns that are going on, who can assess which of your Big 4 is in the limelight (and which ones are lurking in the shadows). Your lookout helps you assess any situation and determine which of your Big 4 might need to step up more fully (and which might want to step back a bit) - as well as to notice the larger dynamics at work.
The Captain: In addition to the Big 4- we each have a captain. We want the captain at the helm, and the big 4 as passengers. The captain represents our capacity for high level functioning and integration. The captain helps us self-regulate and be conscious in our choices.
Take advice from the advisory council: If you are feeling uncertain about how to best navigate a process or a decision, try sitting down with a piece of paper and asking each of your big 4 if they have any advice for you. What is their perspective? What is their best advice to the captain? Then write from the captain’s perspective. - take in advice from advisory council. So much insight can come from honoring the ‘advisory council’ with your attention and attunement.
Engage with your inner life. Running away or ignoring your inner life is dangerous and is very unlikely to help you in making good choices in relationships, work life, or community. Can you instead begin to engage in a genuinely open dialogue with yourself and all the different parts of yourself?
Make it concrete: In an effort to remain engaged with your inner life it can be helpful to have external reminders. Get creative! Find several small symbolic items to help represent the Big 4 and place them around your space. Imagine small altars that remind you to pause and check in. Finding what might represent each part is in itself a great way to get to know these parts of you more deeply.
Move around: Another important way to connect with the quality of each part is to move your body in ways that help you access this part. Take on the body posture of each part. By embodying each one individually with intention and attention you can begin to tap into the mood, values, perspective, and energy of the archetype. From here you can begin to gather their wisdom somatically and then integrate it emotionally and intellectually.
The Voyager- Another important archetype to recognize and cultivate in ourselves is that of the voyager. The voyager is a part of us that we can activate in order to help us on the path of exploration. It embodies a growth-oriented mindset and inspires us to remain curious, and to continually follow our impulse to learn.
Invite the Dreamer to help inspire hope: When our relationships get in a rut it is often because we have become stuck in a limiting set of dynamics and patterns. We reenact the same conflicts and conversations over and over again- sometimes without awareness. The Dreamer helps break these cycles by inspiring us to ask what is possible. When one partner begins to engage with the relationship from a Dreamer perspective, the entire dynamic can shift. Many of us are longing, perhaps subconsciously, for this part of our partner to show up. When it does, we can experience incredible relief and revived hope as it shows us that our partner is in a place of curiosity, openness, and engagement with the future. By taking some time to check-in with the Dreamer, you are investing energy in helping imbue your relationship with that critical sense of possibility that creates safety and spark!
Check out Erica Ariel Fox’s website here
Take a FREE survey of your Big 4
Read Erica Ariel Fox’s NY Times Best-Selling book Winning from Within
www.neilsattin.com/within Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Erica Ariel Fox
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How do you get better at being in relationships? How do you create different experiences than you have had in the past (especially after the honeymoon stage has run its course)? How do you continue to deepen the intimacy and joy in your relationship when your attention is being drawn in so many other directions? In this episode, I introduce you to something I call "deeper relating", and how developing these skills allow you to tap into each other’s creativity and resourcefulness. It’s a key skill in taking your relationship to a completely new place, where you and your partner get to continually discover each other.
There’s a particularly sticky place that comes up in most relationships. It’s the place where your deep desires meet your partner’s fear and resistance - and vice versa. How do you unravel this dynamic, to experience the magic that lies on the other side? That’s what we’re going to cover in today’s episode with Hedy Schleifer. Hedy, the co-creator of Encounter-centered Couples Therapy, is going to describe what she calls “Unraveling the Survival Knot”. In this process, you get to uncover the gift that lies deep within the core of your relationship. The Survival Knot could seem like an impasse at first, but then it becomes a source of profound connection, growth, understanding, and healing for your relationship.
If you are curious to hear our first episode with Hedy Schleifer, you can listen to it here: Ep 69 - How to Be Completely Alive in Your Relationship. It’s not a prerequisite, but in many ways it sets the stage for today’s episode, so make sure you do check it out.
Unraveling the Survival knot: Every relationship has a survival knot, and it most likely needs unravelling. A survival knot is that place in relationship in which one partner’s deepest and most profound longing meets the other’s unconscious place of resistance and defensiveness. And vice versa. This is an (almost always) unconscious impasse. It is at this impasse where we are the most defensive (sometimes offensive!) without actually knowing how or why we are becoming protective. Staying stuck in the survival knot means that we are learning to adapt and cope, instead of acknowledging and living! Coping occurs when we are in a fearful and isolated mode, while living and thriving occurs in connection.
Tough love: The optimistic truth is that once we have uncovered the survival knot, we can begin to unravel it. Unravelling only occurs in an environment of safety. Safety, however, does not mean easy or comfortable. In fact, it is required to be able to enter into and share our toughest neighborhoods (those places in our life and psyche we are the most ashamed/uncomfortable/afraid) with our partners. It takes courage to welcome discomfort, however it is possible to create a situation in which you are each being so present for the struggle that you can experience delight in the vulnerability.
Plasticity provides possibility. The concept and science of neuroplasticity (the ability for the brain to change due to new neural networking) reminds us that we CAN transform ourselves and our experiences. In couple’s counseling, or intensive exploration and processing, it is possible to juxtapose past trauma and/or old negative thought patterns with a present experience of compassion and safety that allows for the brain to reintegrate the past in new and healthy ways. When our past wounds are exposed in the presence of a loving, nurturing, and validating other we are able to allow the brain to update the meaning making of events and core beliefs in ways that promote and restore freedom, growth, and confidence.
The map: Imagine your inner world as a map consisting of different neighborhoods. There are the precious neighborhoods where you may feel your essence, or feel passionate and alive. There are mysterious neighborhoods which have yet to be discovered or explored. And there are the tough neighborhoods which we are too scared to go to. Our map is simultaneously static and constantly expanding. As you observe your reactions, your patterns, what excites you, etc. you can begin to fill in this map with increased detail. Have fun with this, and don’t forget to name your neighborhoods!
What is the name of your toughest neighborhood when it comes to your relationship? Take time to consider the places in your relationship in which you experience and encounter the most fear, anger, disappointment, resentment. Give this whole experience (cocktail of emotion) a one or two word name. For example, is it Never enough. Left out. Not appreciated. Despair. Or, Betrayal? This name is important as it can symbolize and contain a whole layered experience which allows it to become something tangible enough to enter and explore. For too many of us, and for too long, this neighborhood goes unnamed, and therefore mostly ignored. This leads to blight on both a personal and partnership level.
Full presence: As you begin to name your neighborhoods, and prepare to invite each other in as hosts and visitors, it is critical to build your capacity to stay present with one another. There is a visceral and embodied experience that can be felt when you are in full presence, versus just ‘being there’. In full presence you will find delight! Allow yourself to be so open to your partner that even when they are sharing difficult and painful feelings, you can be filled with awe, versus guard and defense.
Generative listening: There are 4 different types of listening. There is factual listening, habitual listening, empathic listening, and generative listening. The latter is a form of listening that is on a very different dimension than the others- it is a listening that requires and involves one whole person listening to another whole person. It is listening with everything we’ve got: our heart, mind, and body. It requires a full openness and the intention of attuning to everything, at once. Generative listening is an internal, integrative, and intuitive experience of listening for the spiritual and emotional meaning being communicated on a very deep level.
Listen to the 93%: Research shows that we say most of what we need to communicate without words. In fact, only 7% of communication relies on words! The other 93% is everything else- landscape of the face, tone of the voice, color of the cheeks, body language… As a listener begin to hone your ability to attune to how your partner is speaking before focusing on the words. Only with generative listening will your partner reveal themselves. The more present you truly are, the more authentic and open your partner will become both to themselves and to you.
Speak the essence: As a host, it is your responsibility to tell the truth. By speaking with raw honesty you will come to the core of what you are inviting the other to visit. The truth is not complex or very layered - in fact, as a host you should strive to say your truth in 5 words or less. Speak the essence. Words, especially when there are many of them, actually cover the core truth of what we need to communicate, versus help articulate it. This level of truth speaking requires authenticity, vulnerability and transparency.
The art of visiting: It is inevitable that you will, sooner or later, become triggered while visiting your partner’s toughest neighborhood. Hone your awareness of the sensation of being pulled out of connection (returning to old patterns of anger, sadness, overwhelm, shutdown, etc) so that you can catch yourself and return to presence. Choosing to return is a powerful act of commitment and love - in fact, the coming back is as healing for our partner to experience as the staying there is.
Celebrate moments of “I don’t know”. While the visitor’s main responsibility is full presence, the host’s main responsibility is honesty. Work towards becoming so truthful and transparent that you get to layers and places in your neighborhoods that you have yet to know. If you speak with full authenticity you WILL get to the point where you actually do not now what to say- and this is the best place to be! It is the places we don’t yet know that become entrances into completely new understandings and awarenesses.
Implicit memories: One very important task in order to get to new places in our neighborhoods is to work with implicit memory. Our past is a silent voter in our apparent present. Implicit memories stored in our conscience are always weighing in on our experience of the now, and thus constantly influencing how we relate to others. We need to acknowledge this, because if not, they will continue to vote without our awareness! Making implicit memories become explicit means that they are no longer ruling our relationship without our knowing. This process is best facilitated with the support of a therapist or spiritual guide/practice.
Main Square: Somewhere at the center of our toughest neighborhood, where “I don’t know” is discovered, there is something called the Main Square. This is that most core statement that one voiced has an overall visceral sensation of “this is my truth”. It is a life giving statement that has been needed to be spoken since you were a child - you will feel its potency right away. It is from this core truth that you can begin to rebuild your neighborhood in a more authentic and generative way.
Reflect, reflect, reflect: Whether with the support of a therapist, a guide, a spiritual practice, or solo journaling continue to ask the big beautiful questions that help you find your core reason for living and for love. Relationships are difficult regardless, but made excruciatingly difficult when we have lost a sense of our core and highest purpose of being in partnership. What is it you are most desiring in your relationship? Why are you in partnership in the first place? What is it you want from your life and your partnership? Strive to verbalize the answers to these questions - knowing that they will evolve and change over time. Furthermore, as you move through challenges and struggles and growth in your relationship, take time to ask the following 4 questions: What have I learned? What do I know now more but in a deeper way? What has surprised me? What has intrigued me?
Live the adventure: Your relationship is not a problem to be solved, it is an adventure to be lived. What becomes possible when you put your energy into the service of love and connection versus into the effort for survival? Equip yourself for love as an adventure with the resources, the know-how, and the communication skills needed. By making a paradigm shift to this being a hero’s journey, we can open ourselves up to experiencing challenges as opportunities. We find more delight than despair, and more moments for creative problem solving.
Get support and stay committed: It takes time and holding to dance a new dance. Entering into full exploration with your partner require committing to a continual learning process. The more you discover, however, the more opportunities you will have to recreate your neighborhoods in ways that are liberating and re-energizing. Be willing to get support for this remapping process, especially for when you first enter into the toughest neighborhoods together. Once you have gotten to the Main Square, and dealt with implicit memories, you will begin to feel as though you can truly start redesigning your relationship. Some dynamic and behavior shifts will be automatic, and others will require daily intention. Ask each other- what do we need to do, in general and today, to go down the Avenue of Big Love?
Check out Hedy Schleifer’s website for resources, upcoming workshops, and more!
Want more help? Reach out to Hedy for a private 2 day couple’s intensive session
Enroll in Encounter Couple’s Therapy training program.
www.neilsattin.com/encounter2 Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Hedy Schleifer
Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook
Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:
What’s the recipe for success in a long distance relationship? How do you stay connected when you’re apart? And how do you handle the times when you’re together so that they’re less intense? In today’s episode, I tackle the topic of how to bring balance to a long distance relationship. My goal is for you to get some new insights into where your relationship might be doing well - and where it could use some help.
What was interesting to me in recording this episode was realizing that so many of these hints are helpful for ANY relationship - even when we’re not separated by miles. In fact, it’s possible that you live your life as if you ARE in a long distance relationship, even if you see your partner every day. In this episode I also answer a listener’s question about what to do when it seems like your partner needs “too much” space.
So whether your relationship is taking place over the miles (or kilometers), or you’re in the same town, or the same bedroom - today’s episode is for you, to help you build connection despite the space, and manage the highs and lows of your togetherness.
If the Relationship Alive podcast is helpful for you and you’d like to ensure that it continues, please consider supporting us through a monthly or one-time donation. You can visit http://www.neilsattin.com/support or text the word “SUPPORT” to 33444 to find out more. Thank you!