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
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Now displaying: July, 2018
Jul 25, 2018

You know all those ways that you've learned to cope over the years? The little things that you do that distract you from feeling uncomfortable, or bored, or stressed? While some coping strategies are positive for you, others rob you of the chance to actually either deal with what's there, or to fully experience the moment - to be present. Developing your ability to be present, to dive into the moment without distracting yourself, is the key to keeping things connected and energized with your partner. Today you're going to learn how to identify your coping strategies, decide whether they're serving you or not, and how to transform your habits of distraction and coping into new, positive habits.

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


Along with our amazing listener supporters (you know who you are - thank you!), this week's episode has two exciting sponsors. Please visit them to take advantage of their offers and show appreciation for their support of the Relationship Alive podcast!

RxBars are one of our favorite snacks. They're healthy, high in protein, and made with simple ingredients that you can pronounce. Plus, they're really tasty, without any added sugar, gluten, soy, or dairy. RxBars are offering 25% off your first order, if you visit and use the coupon code "ALIVE".

This week is also being sponsored by is a service that sends healthy, delicious, plant-based and gluten-free foods to you, each week. They're easy to prepare (either ready-to-eat or ready in less than 10 MINUTES). And - special shoutout to their cookie dough - which you can eat raw (or bake for a healthy dessert). This is by far the best prepared food delivery service that we've experienced. And you can get $25 off your first TWO orders if you use the coupon code "ALIVE" at checkout - at



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Jul 19, 2018

What’s the best way to overcome conflict in your relationship? How does it change based on your attachment style? And can you use what we know about our biology, and our memory, to keep a relationship from getting past the point of no return? In today’s episode, we’re blessed with a return visit from Stan Tatkin. Along with training couples therapists and conducting workshops for couples all over the world, Stan is the author of Wired for Love, Wired for Dating, and the recent audio program from SoundsTrue - RelationshipRx: Insights and Practices to Overcome Chronic Fighting and Return to Love. Stan’s work blends Attachment Theory with Interpersonal Neurobiology, helping couples leverage science to succeed in long term relationships. It’s always a treat to have him here on the show, and our conversation today will give you fresh insights into how to fight, how to repair, and how to transform conflict into something that helps you and your partner grow closer together.

As always, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on this episode and what revelations and questions it creates for you. Please join us in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook to chat about it! Also, see below for links to our other episodes with Stan Tatkin.


Along with our amazing listener supporters (you know who you are - thank you!), this week's episode has two amazing sponsors. Each has put together a special offer for you as a Relationship Alive listener. Please visit them to take advantage of their offer and show appreciation for their support of the Relationship Alive podcast!

First are the folks at Through a unique online quiz, they help you figure out exactly what vitamins and herbal supplements you need to achieve your optimal health. They use high-quality ingredients, and can save you as much as 20% over comparable store-bought brands. On top of all that, they are offering you 25% OFF your first month if you visit and use the coupon code “ALIVE” at checkout.

This week is also being sponsored by is a service that sends healthy, delicious, plant-based and gluten-free foods to you, each week. They're easy to prepare (either ready-to-eat or ready in less than 10 MINUTES). And - special shoutout to their cookie dough - which you can eat raw (or bake for a healthy dessert). This is by far the best prepared food delivery service that we've experienced. And you can get $25 off your first TWO orders if you use the coupon code "ALIVE" at checkout - at


Check out Stan Tatkin's website

Listen to Stan Tatkin’s new release, RelationshipRx, offered through SoundsTrue.

Read Stan Tatkin’s books

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

Guide to Understanding Your Needs (and Your Partner's Needs) in Relationship (ALSO FREE) Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Stan Tatkin.

Here are links to our other episodes with Stan Tatkin (prior to this one):

Episode 19: Recipe for a Secure, Healthy Relationship

Episode 50: Wired for Dating and Love - Psychobiology

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Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin, and we are coming to you in full Technicolor today, which is a first for Relationship Alive, not a first for our illustrious and lovely guest, Stan Tatkin, who's back on the show. He was here in episode 19 way back when we started, talking about a recipe for a secure and healthy relationship. He was also here talking about his book Wired For Dating and Love and talking about psychobiology, which we'll address a little bit in today's episode, back in episode 50. And you can listen to either of those episodes by visiting or We'll make this one, so you can download. We'll have a transcript for this episode and any related links that we talk about over the course of our conversation.

Neil Sattin: So we're here to talk about a couple of things like when we dive in to the work as a couple and that work involves how you maintain your connection, how you maintain your safety, while at the same time keeping things exciting, but not too exciting because you're collapsing into fights and distress. It's a balancing act and it requires a level of skill that we are just now really coming to grips with, like what skills are required when it comes to relational excellence in long term relationships. And Stan is one of today's leading experts in how to navigate that well. And one thing that I loved, Stan, in listening to your recent recording that you did for Sounds True called Relationship Rx, which is all about overcoming chronic fights in a relationship, I love that you were right upfront by saying, "Hey, if you're in a real relationship, you're gonna be dealing with this. I deal with this." I deal with this with my wife, with my children. And so there's not this halo that somehow because we're relationship experts that we're not affected by things like getting triggered and getting knocked off balance and having to come back and repair. I'm excited to have you here to get real about this art of how we stay safe and secure and there are also a few specific questions that I have for you along the way that have come in from listeners to the Relationship Alive podcast.

Stan Tatkin: Sure.

Neil Sattin: It's a pleasure to have you back, so thanks for joining me today.

Stan Tatkin: Thank you, Neil. It's good to be back.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Awesome. I would like to just... Let's just have a nutshell summary of psychobiology. What do you mean by that since your approach is a psychobiological approach to couple's therapy, which is the PACT that we see behind you here for those of you who are watching.

Stan Tatkin: Well, think of it as study of the brain and the body. We could say it's psycho-neurobiology or neurobiology, but psychobiology is basically taking a developmental approach to the human primate lifespan and in particular pair bonding with and between humans. This is basically a capacity model, meaning we're looking at social-emotional development from even in utero. But postnatally, we're looking at the networking of these structures and the function of these structures that allow us to be effective human beings with each other, particularly when it comes to attraction and when it comes to distress. Those are the two areas that encompasses the burden placed on people who are and are not socially-emotionally intelligent.

Neil Sattin: Right, so this question of how we as organisms, like what generates attraction in us on a physiological level as well as a psychological level and then also how do we manage the problem states that come up.

Stan Tatkin: Yes.

Neil Sattin: On a physiological and psychological level.

Stan Tatkin: Yes. And a lot of what we see between human beings is psychological to be sure, but not in the traditional sense. A lot of what happens between people is involving automatic systems that are recognition based and not thought based. They're recognition based because we're fundamentally memory. That's how we operate. Everything we do is based on memory. There is, on balance, very little that we do that requires the kind of cognition, predicting, rotating objects in three dimensions in our head, planning. All of these things contingent kinds of processing. We don't do that at any given time during the day, very much compared to how much we are automated and how much we are using these very lightning-fast recognition systems. And so we're talking here about the human condition, not about individuals, per se.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I loved in Relationship Rx where you talked about how when we first meet someone, we experience them, it's this amazing novel, new thing, a new person in our lives. But that very quickly, you use the phrase, "we automate them", we push them back into the rote memory that allows us to just function automatically with that person.

Stan Tatkin: Yes, nature has built in energy conserving functions in our brain and in our body. If we didn't have these, we wouldn't survive, we wouldn't be here. So we can only perceive so much, hear so much, feel, taste, smell so much. We only have so many neurons for those things. And because there's so much sensory motor information that we have to process at every moment, the brain has to gate or limit that information. And especially limit the amount of information that floats up to consciousness or awareness. So most of the time we are doing things on a level where we're not being told, we don't get permission or give permission to some of the things that we do by these primitive areas that are recognition memory based that allow us to go through the day and do the many, many things that we do and still conserve energy. So, this is not a bug, it's a feature. But in relationships it can also be a bug.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, right, exactly. Because then you could be stuck in painful memories of what's happened either in your relationship or the things that happened long ago that your relationship evokes, right?

Stan Tatkin: Well, yes. In the love relationship in particular, a relationship I think of as the hardest one on the planet. The reason it's so difficult is that it is a dependency relationship that replicates the earliest ones we had before the age of 12. And it has a very long memory. Whereas at work, with friends, it's there but it's not animated in the same way as it is when we start to depend on somebody and they become permanent in our head, or at least we think they are. And that's when we start to remember what it's like to depend on somebody. The good things and the not so good things. So, this again, is how we roll. This is the nature of the beast, which is us. And it's normal. But the more history that's there that makes us anxious and fearful of what will happen, the more our behavior is altered in a way that causes relationship troubles.

Neil Sattin: So, what you mean is the more history you have the more pain you've experienced.

Stan Tatkin: The more history that's not resolved or corrected by other intimate relationships. So, we're hurt by people, we're healed by people. The kinds of things that we remember in relationship has to do with interaction. It has do with memory of how we felt and our perception at the time. Not to mention our ability to think at the time, developmentally. We're not... For instance, there's a misnomer that we marry our mothers or our fathers. That's not true. We marry those people who we recognize as familiar, both in ourselves and in the people that we've been around. But what triggers us is the experience of being on the other end of those interactions. So, I feel as I did when I was with my father and he yelled at me. I feel as I did when I was with my mother and she was late to pick me up at school, again and again.

Stan Tatkin: So, these injuries are what we anticipate the next time we depend on somebody. This is simply a memory issue. It can go away, also, but that's another discussion. It goes away in the relationship through reparative actions. Both partners have to really understand this. Again, nature doesn't build this into our DNA as something we are aware of and we do well because nature does not have a plan for long term relationships. Nature has a plan for mixing up the gene pool. That's it. The rest of it is on our shoulders. So, we have to now understand how the brain works, how the human being works, what not just causes problems in love relationships, but many of those problems are gonna be with all relationships if we don't really understand what we're dealing with.

Neil Sattin: Let's tackle that for a moment. And I don't want this to take over our entire conversation as it easily could. But, here we are in modern culture. There's a vibrant dialogue happening about whether or not we are designed to be monogamous. And we had Helen Fisher on the show talking about how in a lot of societies...In a lot of societies that more like serial monogamy is kind of built into the structure of their societies and that, in a way, that's more natural. And yet here we are talking about successful long-term relationships and acknowledging that in some respects, we're battling nature, we're battling biology in order to do that. And of course, doing that, when I think about clients I've worked with, and I'm sure you have this all the time, that there's this element of, "Well, why not? Okay, you're having a really hard time, go your separate ways, find new people, do it all over again. Why not do that?" So where do you come down, 'cause I think you, like I do, do come down on the side of, "No, there's a lot to be gained in figuring this out and supporting each other as you grow and blossom in your life and doing that with one long-term partner." And I'm curious to know, do you believe that? Or is it in flux for you? Or what are your thoughts around that?

Stan Tatkin: Well, there are very... Very few animals on the planet are actually monogamous. The ones that are is what we study like the prairie vole. Prairie voles. The dik-dik. The smallest antelopes in Africa. One dies, the other dies. They work together. They are devoted to each other because their lives depend on it. And there are certain voles, by the way, that are absolutely not monogamous, and a lot of it has to do with the brain structure and a lot of it has to do with neurochemicals and so on. There are some humans that are more monogamous than others. You spoke with Helen. Helen believes that there are some babies that are born into an environment where there's a lot of testosterone, and those babies grow up into adults who have great sex lives, very, very long sex lives, but they also stray from their partners. They also have anger management issues. They also have other issues. So we have to have another reason, if we're going to be monogamous, to be monogamous, and that is entirely a top-down process. Top-down meaning it's one like we would do with moral reasoning. Why should we not kill? There's moral reasoning around that. Why should we be monogamous? Well, you don't have to be. If you say that you are polyamorous, that's fine, but why are you polyamorous?

Stan Tatkin: So here, now, we're talking about the human capacity to override urges, impulses, mood, personality, all sorts of things, in order to get along. Here we're talking about social contract theory. How do societies, people get along? How do civilizations get along? Well, if you let people do what they do, they don't get along. They kill each other. They rob each other. They pillage. They do all sorts of things. History has proven that to us. So how do people then get along? Well, religion was one way, get people to fear a god and that God is watching you all the time, that will keep you in line. We come up with tablets from on high, the Ten Commandments, thou shalt not kill. That doesn't mean thou shalt not kill if I'm in the mood. Even a two-year... Or three-year-old knows what it means. You don't do it, right? So these are ideas that form societies, form civilizations so that people can get along together. That is not because they are the same people. They are different people with different backgrounds and different wants and needs, different brains.

Stan Tatkin: Now, when we talk about a couple, we're talking about the smallest unit of a society. That's a two person system, and it operates by rules of social justice as well, unless there are no principles, in which case it's the wild west. So why are you gonna be monogamous? That's the important thing. Why is it a good idea for you? And why is it a good idea for your partner? And if you can't sell the idea to your partner, it's not gonna work.

Stan Tatkin: If you can't say with complexity why it serves a personal good and a mutual good, you won't do it. So here we're talking about the human capacity to override what would be our more primitive natures, because human beings are fundamentally selfish, impulsive, moody, changeable, we're moving through time also. There are all these factors that can really get in the way of a long-term relationship. So there has to be some unifying ideas that pull people together, that both people are on-board with, otherwise they won't do it. So that's what I think. But we're talking about two people having a vision on the big ticket items agreeing on where they're going and that they agree on certain principles that ensure that they're protected from each other and everyone else, like does the relationship come first, above all things. It doesn't have to, but if one person says yes and the other person says, no, there will be trouble.

Stan Tatkin: So that's how I'm thinking, not so much whether people are monogamous or should be monogamous, or they should be serial monogamists or whatever they do. Usually I don't see people that are unhappy, so they're doing all this stuff and they're fine. But when they're not fine, they come in to see me and you, right?

Neil Sattin: Right, exactly. And I wanna dive into that 'cause I think it would be really helpful to talk about how to fight well, and I know that's the bulk of your Relationship Rx program that came out with Sounds True. And I also hear in what you're talking about, 'cause you have a new book coming out as well, right? We Do.

Stan Tatkin: We Do, which is a pre-commitment, a pre marital book.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so it must be tackling some of these questions about, why are we even doing this to begin with?

Stan Tatkin: Why are we even doing this? What's the point? Why do we get paid the big bucks? What do we serve? Who do we serve? What's the point of this whole thing? And it's remarkable how many people cannot answer that question.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Chloe and I are actually doing a series on the podcast for our wedding vows where we're doing one vow at a time and just talking about why they were important for us and what the principles were and the values underlying the various vows that we made to each other.

Stan Tatkin: Right. And it becomes sort of your ethical and moral compass, which then when you have children, that is something that they see not hear about. If you wanna see how to fight, kids, watch Mom and I. We fight, we say things, we apologize, we come back together again, watch what we do. How many couples can say that. And so that's wonderful that you're doing that. Are you gonna make them plaque worthy? Do you have a plaque?

Neil Sattin: [chuckle] I think posters are coming out for sure. They're definitely Instagram worthy anyway. [chuckle] And at the same time, it's great I think, because it's a dynamic thing. So even though we made vows and those in some ways are static, 'cause those are the promises we made to each other. But even in just sitting down to talk about each one, they become a living thing. I feel like I'm talking about the Constitution being a living document. But it's kind of along those lines where by being in conversation about our agreements, it gives us the opportunity to live into them more and to decide like, "Wait a minute. Is that what I really meant?" Or, "Is that what you really meant?" And yeah, it creates conversation.

Stan Tatkin: The purpose of that, what you're talking about, is to make life easier, is to make the relationship easy because the world is not, life is not, but the relationship should be. Resource should not be resource expending to a degree where you're tied up with each other. So the whole idea of having these agreements, these principles that you believe in, whether you're together or you're not together, whether one person does it or not. This is what you stand for. The reason to do that is it makes everything easier. And when one of you falls off the wagon in some way, the other person just invokes, "Remember, this is what we do." And if you are true to your word, the answer should be, "You're right. I'm so sorry." That makes life easier.

Stan Tatkin: When you both are on the same page with big items, that reins in both of your behavior. It's so funny, I just saw a couple this morning like this. They never talk about this stuff. They don't have any big ideas that bring them in or inform what they're going to do, if then. And so they just basically do what they want, which is what most people do, and then they wonder why they end up with a more threatening experience in the relationship and accrue all this unfairness and injustice. So these are very important things to have the big ideas that we can cling to, that we can see, that override these day to day shifts and changes in us. Otherwise, we're not safe. And so that's why the rigor of not just coming up with these principles, but also defending them when challenged by somebody. Can you say to somebody in a complex way why you've decided to be monogamous, why you decided to tell each other everything and be fully transparent. 'Cause if you can't then what's to hold you in when you don't feel like doing these things? So they're really important.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And that reminds me of something else you were talking about in Relationship RX that made an impression on me, which is the importance of creating safety in relationship not just to avoid creating problems and not just to foster positive energy in your relationship, but because when you are safe it actually allows you to live a more complex life. And I'm not talking about complex like, "I'm overwhelmed because my life is so complicated." I'm talking about the kind of complexity that helps you feel like you're alive and thriving and not just doing the same thing over again. You're not in a procedural, rote life. You're actually engaged and curious, but that safety is really required for you to engage in life that way.

Stan Tatkin: This is something that people don't understand until they break the relationship, usually by some act of betrayal. Is that the safety and security system is really all the couple has. It is the foundation, it's the ground they stand on. And if either partner messes with that, it is like being... It's like having an earthquake or a volcanic eruption. It takes a long time to recover from that. And unfortunately, people will learn this by making that mistake. But that is really the foundation of these inter-dependent relationships, where lives depend on fealty and radical loyalty because that's not how the world operates. And so the couple is agreeing to do something that nobody else will do because people are basically a burden. They're doing things for each other as full burdens that nobody wants to do unless they get paid a lot of money. And that's what makes them special. But they have to both see that this is mutually assured survival and thriving, and also mutually assured destruction. That's the power they have over each other. And adult couples who are wisened to this, get it. And they know that there are lines they do not cross, and they do not mess with the safety or the security system of the relationship.

Neil Sattin: And that brings us into the conversation about attachment and attachment styles and how that impacts safety. And we spoke about this the other times that you were on the show. So I don't wanna spend too much time there. But one thing that has been interesting since you've been on the show is that a lot of people come to the dialogue by saying, "Oh, I'm a wave and my partner is an island", or "I'm an island, and my partner is a wave". And I guess for the most part, it's the waves who are coming. The islands don't tend to come to the conversation, so at least in my experience, the waves are like, "What the fuck do I do with my island partner? How do I bring them to the table?" And this makes me think of two things. One is some reassurance from you about... Well, one like how to not bludgeon your partner with the labeling and how confining that can be.

Stan Tatkin: Right.

Neil Sattin: And then the second part is also... Actually there are three parts. [chuckle] So one is how to not bludgeon. The second is recognizing that there's some malleability in who we are. And I recognize that there have been times in my life where I've been totally secure. I've been that anchor that you talk about. And then even like Chloe and I were talking about this just before you and I started talking. Like at the beginning of our relationship, I was more of a wave and she was more of an island. And somewhere along the way, we actually switched sides and I became more island-ish and she became more wave-ish. And in truth, we end up more and more anchored with each other, which is, I think where you wanna be. So there's not bludgeoning, there's malleability and what's behind that. And then the last piece is, how do... This is for you waves out there and maybe for you islands too who are listening. It's how do you bring a partner to the table? Especially a partner who seems shut down. If you're a wave in those circumstances, you might be thinking, "Oh, I either have to learn to live with this, or I have to ditch this relationship because this person is not willing to show up with me. It's too threatening for them." That's a lot.

Stan Tatkin: Okay. I've got it. Let me take them in turn.

Neil Sattin: Alright.

Stan Tatkin: One of the things that I was horrified when I wrote the second book with islands, anchors, and waves, was people starting to read it coming in and self identifying, and I thought, "Oh boy, here we go". And here's the problem with it. One, the human mind needs above all to feel, or to be organized, to be able to take experience and to be able to organize it. And one of the ways it organizes is by categorizing and comparing and contrasting, that's part of the human mind. And so as much as we don't like categories, we always seek them anyway. The problem with it is that the categories organize some kind of experience in order to understand something, but it also can be used improperly. Just like religious texts can be used improperly. Everything could be used improperly, the DSM IV, or V rather can be used improperly. So it's not going away. We will always categorize, but problem also, about misusing this need of ours is also not going away. So here's the skinny on it. These are not personalities. These have to do with adaptations to environment.

Stan Tatkin: When we talk about someone who's anxious-avoidant, or anxious-ambivalent, or I call that group sometimes angry-resistant because of studying babies, how they look. We're talking about a reaction to a system or a relationship, the most probably important relationship, the primary one where there's uncertainty, anxiety in the interactions, right? The baby... The child learns to adapt to the needs and the behaviors and the expectations as perceived by the caregivers, right? And then makes the adaptations.

Stan Tatkin: However, the problem is, is that these adaptations are born out of feeling afraid or anxious. "If I do this, this will happen. If I don't do this, this will happen." And so, as John Bowlby found, that insecurely attached babies, children, adults carry a bigger burden through life because their dependency relationships carry with it a memory of what could or will happen actually, that changes their behavior that actually, as I said before, will cause problems in the relationship. So I'm afraid of being used. I'm afraid of being interfered with, having my independence taken from me, having my stuff taken from me, being co-opted, used as a doll or as a performer. Dance for grandma, all of that. Gee, that was really nice, but also nobody saw me. Nobody really explained things to me. I didn't get that kind of interaction. This family was all about performance and all about appearances, and that is a burden. And I'm angry because I resent that. Or if I'm in a family where I had to take care of one of my parents and emotionally regulate them, I was discouraged from growing up, separating, individuating, and I was rewarded for being little dependent. I'm angry about that because I can never grab what I want. I have to wait for it to come to me and then I will be rejected and punished. How do I know this? I remember it.

Stan Tatkin: So, we're talking about fear. When we talk about attachment, we're only talking about fear of what I know has happened and I anticipate it happening again. That's all it is. It's around safety and security. These descriptions are not real people. There is no theory that actually defines a real person. It defines aggregates of people. A general idea that might be useful for a physician or a clinician to be able to reconstruct, based on very little knowledge, what this person's trajectory might be, what they're likely to do in the near future. That is useful for helping people. But unfortunately, it's used to bang each other over the head and to wrongly self identify because of this condition that is part of the human bug of trying to label thyself, and it's false. So we have to understand that these are ideas. They're not people. Real people are more complex. Secondly, to your second point, this is... Attachment was studied with babies and adult attachment came later, it's still in its formative years. And it is, again, based on aggregates of people, not individuals, per se. And it doesn't take into account a two person system, which is ultimately much more complex, unpredictable, and phenomenological. So now you have two people interacting at lightning speeds, becoming a system where you cannot tell who's leading or following.

Stan Tatkin: And is that an island or a wave? I don't know. This person is acting more distancing that causes the other person to cling more. More often than not, people who pair bond are more alike than they're not. More alike. They just look like a duck, but they're a dog. And we can test this out in clinic by shoving them together, especially the person who says, "Oh, I want so much more. I want to be loved. I wanna be held. I wanna be kissed. I want more sex and everything". And then you move toward them really quickly and you go, "Would you like somebody who'd cling to you?" And they go, "No, no, no, no." Okay. So, this is an illusion that's created by the homeostatic process of a two-person system, like a Mickey Mouse balloon. You squeeze one ear and the other one gets bigger. You squeeze the other ear and the other one gets bigger. That's couples. Where there's one, there's the other. I guess, all of this to say that it doesn't matter, because two people, no matter where they're coming from, can get along as long as they have a unifying idea of why they're together and why they're interdependent. That overrides everything.

Stan Tatkin: And what you're describing about getting somebody to come to the table, whether it's an island, or a wave, or a jackal, it really has to do with survival. Is it in your best interest to be difficult and to cause your partner pain, which is gonna come right back at you, that's self-harming. Is it in your best interest to avoid conflict when that actually creates conflict, do it and have a good time. When you are in a couple, it is a three-legged race. One of you goes down, the other goes down. The two of you are affecting each other immediately. There's nothing I can do to you Neil that you won't do right back. And this is [chuckle] the clown show, sometimes. That is us. We don't realize this because we've been acculturated to this idea that we're autonomous, we should be autonomous, independent individuals, but we are not. That's partly true. We are dependent creatures. We are herd animals that pair bond in herds, and there's no getting away from that. So, that's the big picture answer.

Stan Tatkin: As for the island, islands have to understand that conflict avoidance is by itself threatening. There's no way you can be conflict avoidant and not threaten your partner, it's not possible. So, that has to be looked at. And the other partner, the wave, who's constantly bullying and battering and pursuing and can't let go, that's not gonna work either. So, both of them have to reel themselves in, in order to create a secure functioning relationship that protects them both from each other. That's how it's, ultimately it's gonna work, there is no other way. I hope that answers all three.

Neil Sattin: Yeah that was great actually. And it makes me wonder... Okay, let's bridge in to the conversation of... Let's just say, "Okay, this isn't quite working. And I wanna weigh whether I'm an island or a wave, to bring that up that creates safety and brings both of us to the table." So how would you approach that in coaching a couple through that kind of dialogue?

Stan Tatkin: Also consider this, if the two of you, any two of you were on an island together alone, you'd either kill each other or you'd find a way to get along and work collaboratively and cooperatively. Collaboratively and cooperatively, that's the key. We have mutual interests, you and I. And sometimes people have to get beaten over the head until they figure it out. If you had two kids and they're not getting along, put them in a room, you don't get out until you guys agree on something that's good for both of you, they'll do it. And a lot of this has to do with expectation.


Neil Sattin: I'm glad we're not veering into parenting strategies or... [laughter]

Stan Tatkin: Not yet. I'm not gonna talk about... Just leave a little bowl of water for them. But I say this because there are places and conditions in the world where people get this naturally because they don't have time for this. They're dodging bullets, they're dealing with real world dangers, they have to work together. And again, the environment enforces this, but to get two people to do this really requires them to work together as a team to see that they depend on each other for anything that's gonna be good, and they have to work together or it will not work in any part of the universe. That's just not how it's gonna work. Unfortunately, we bring to the table our childhood experiences and what we saw with our parents, and many of us, maybe most of us did not see that. And so we only do know what we know, and what we know is what we experienced, and that's it. I experienced that there's too much unfairness in my family, too much injustice, too much insensitivity, so now I behave that way, and I accuse you of being that way. I know when you're doing it, I don't know or care when I'm doing it. So there has to be a "come to Jesus here" of reckoning of how are we going to do this, you and I. So we work together, given our differences, meaning that at the bottom of this we accept each other as is, and we go from there. And sometimes you work with what is not working.

Stan Tatkin: How do we put that into a principle that both of us can buy into, that will reign us in, that will solve that problem, not by being different but by doing business different together. And again, that has to do with a certain level of maturity of understanding this is a two person psychological system, not a one person psychological system. And most people out there operating as a one person system, which will never work because it's too unfair, it's too insensitive. And so, people will eventually complain. So the answer to that is, what do we stand for? Why are we doing this? What's the point of this? What we're gonna do for each other we couldn't pay someone to do? Beyond attraction, beyond interest, beyond being in love, what's the point of us? And looking down the road in the long run, not just today or tomorrow. And it has to be cooperative and collaborative, otherwise it cannot work. That's what I'm heavy on with couples in my office, and when I see them not getting that, I'm very strong about this, I expect them to do this. There is no other way for them to get through therapy with me except if they do this, otherwise they'll fire me. But again, expectation is the big thing.

Neil Sattin: And maybe what I'm also hearing there...Is the importance of both people realizing it's not that I have to not be me, it's almost like just a little bit less of me, a little bit, but less of me in the dysfunctional way. Like, if we're willing to both look at a situation and say, "You know what? When I just... " Rather than, let's just say like for me when I'm feeling more islandy, it's because I haven't trusted that my partner could really hear what I had to say. And it would be... Or that I could deliver in a way that wasn't gonna blow up into something crazy. So for me, it's easier to just go and be in my own world or deal with it on my own, than it would be to lean into the relationship and vice versa. When I've been more of a wave, I can recall times where I've been more like, "Oh, if I'm not willing... If I let this go, then it's never gonna get resolved. It's up to me to pull my partner into this conversation, into this dialog no matter what". And of course, in the process driving them crazy. So I'm talking about one person being able to have a little bit more space, but in the context of recognizing, if all I do is take my space, then the things that actually matter to me may never actually get resolved.

Neil Sattin: And my partner may never actually get to know me because they just know the still waters part of me, but they don't get the run deep part of me. Or on the other side, my partner may never really know me because I've turned the volume up so loud on who I am that their system is just blocking them from me as much as possible. But in that context, both people can come to the table and be honored in who they are.

Stan Tatkin: Right. This is a very good point. No, people have to be who they are. You don't do these relationships to be a different person, you do these relationships to be... To relax and to be exactly who you are. But having said that, you're in a two person system, therefore, when dealing with you, I have to take care of you and me at the same time. I can't just take care of me. If I want to get anywhere or get anything or to be heard, then I have to keep you in mind every moment, watch you, watch your face, you are my audience. If I blow you out of the water, game over for me. If I'm insensitive and I don't notice I just stepped on your toes or hurt you and I don't stop the presses and go, " I'm sorry, are you okay, did I do that thing again?" If I don't do that, I lose. And so this is this way. It's not this way, this way, and you're in each other's care. Therefore it's not just about you, it's about you paying attention to the other person, your audience. How do they hear things, how do they see things? I know you knew, I know what makes you tick. I know what scares you. I know what uplifts you. I know what I do that makes you crazy. And if I don't acknowledge that or take care of you at the same moment, I lose you as an audience and now we're going to be at war.

Stan Tatkin: So people should be who they are. But they have to remember that what they do, what they say, how they sound has an impact on this other person who has their own prism that they're looking through, and that prism is changing constantly according to their state of mind. This is where the consideration and the realization that I'm talking to a different animal, the animal that is you, I have to be a Neil whisperer, or I get nothing. You have to be a Stan whisperer or you get nothing. And so many of us talk and act as if we're the only ones here. And it doesn't bother me if you did that, I don't know why you're upset. It's all about me. And I don't realize if with this animal, that's Neil. If I approach on the left, I get bit, I keep approaching on the left 'cause I'm angry, I should be able to approach on the left. I'll get bit every time. That's stupid. It really is about not being a different person, but about fucking getting it in your head that you are with someone who's different and you have to know that at all times or you suffer the consequences. Full stop.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah.

Stan Tatkin: And when we lose, we lose. We learn, we dust ourselves off. Oops! Sorry. And then we get another chance 'cause the universe keeps pitching us. There's always a chance to get it right and to work it out. But the key is also coming back to the table and fixing it. Always, because of the memory problem. If we don't fix things quickly it goes into long term memory, and now we've got a whole bunch of backwash that we have to litigate.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Wow! There's a lot right there in that last bit to unpack. So there's the question of, if we don't repair quickly, then we're creating more challenges for ourself in terms of how we recover as a whole, as a couple.

Stan Tatkin: Yes and that's the Biology part of it. Memory becomes Biology, it becomes in our body, and it becomes part of that fast recognition system. So that as soon as you begin to tilt your head a certain way, your voice starts a certain way. "I know what you're gonna do. I'm gonna shoot first and ask questions later because I've been down this road."

Neil Sattin: Right. And then there's the other piece which is so important, and it's come up over and over again on the show, which is that you're doing two simultaneous things. You're probably doing more than two, but let's just say you're doing two simultaneous things when you're in conversation or let's say an argument with your partner, which is, there's the content of what you're trying to resolve, but then there's also managing awareness of, "Oh, I'm triggered. Oh, my partner's triggered." And once that's happening, all bets are off and we have to come back to being in, you call them the ambassador part of the brain, but being in the fore brain so that we can actually be social and creative with each other. Let's talk a little bit more about like, "Alright, we've got some challenging shit that we gotta deal with as a couple." How do we do that in a way that honors an awareness that probably what's gonna happen is one or the other of us is gonna get hijacked, and how do we... How do we do it responsibly without avoiding it? Because we're worried that if that happens one too many times, we've just blasted ourselves in our long-term memory.

Stan Tatkin: The rule of thumb is avoid nothing but keep it short. We're entering into an area of importance, where there's stress, where there's distress, where there's memory, where there's proceed with caution. Therefore it's incumbent for us to remain orderly. By "orderly", we stick to one topic and one topic only. There's no two people that can handle two or more topics when they're under stress, it will never happen. If we wanna get anything out of this effort, if we wanna get something done we have to be disciplined, orderly, and stick to one thing. That's on both people to do, stay on task. The first person who brings up an issue wins or at least goes first. And my job, if you have a grudge or something that you're upset about, my first thing I do if I want to get anything from this is I have to lead with relief. I have to do something that disarms you, let you know I'm a friendly, otherwise I lose you as an audience member, and now we're going down that road. "You're right. I know I do that. I know I have a... " And I don't say, "I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm sorry you thought of it that way. I know I do that and I'm sorry I did it. I honestly... It doesn't matter whether I meant to do it or not, but I'm sorry that I did that. Here's though my gripe in return."

Stan Tatkin: But we're regulating each other because if at any time, because we have this negativity bias and our brains are built more for war than love, at any time, we can set a fire that's going to encompass or just kill both of us. A lot of this is being skillful, both people putting fires out quickly so we can proceed. If you don't feel that I can fix, repair, make right, make amends, admit a wrong, then you are going to increase your blood pressure, your heart rate, you're getting closer to what we call a hypothalamic system, which basically means fight, flight or freeze. And now we're going to start to go to war. Good times, right? So remaining orderly, sticking to one topic, first things first, one at a time, and keeping it short. People don't understand that when we're under stress our ability to take in words or to formulate words and thought becomes impaired the more our blood pressure increases. This is simply again, has to do with readying ourselves for what feels like we have to take action on. We have to watch that with each other, otherwise, we blow each other out of the water.

Stan Tatkin: I'm gonna keep it short. I'm gonna say, "It really bugged me, what you did. It really hurt my feelings when you did that in front of everybody." Full stop. The more I talk, the more I'm holding you in a position where it's not neutral. You're going to increase in your arousal and I'm gonna pay for that. Also, the more I talk, the more likely I will throw in a dangerous word or phrase. And now, that's all we'll be talking about, is that piece that you're brain is sweeping for that says, "Okay, I thought you were pulling out a gun. I'm doing that now." Fast, short, friendly. Both people are agreeing that they're trying to get into mutual relief as quickly as possible. How quickly can we take this off the table and then have lunch? And people don't often know how to do this, they don't know how it works. We don't really resolve too much, but we relieve each other so we can push the ball forward. And now, I'm okay for now until the next time. "I'm sorry, I hurt you." "You do that all the time." "I know. I know, I'm sorry I did that. I was really nervous and that's why I did it. I wasn't thinking of you. That's not cool. You know what would help me, is the next time I do that, 'cause I know I'll do it again, is just when you start seeing me do that, just cue me, or just before we walk in the room, remind me."

Stan Tatkin: Now, this is smart because we're creatures of automation and reflex. If I tell you, "Neil, don't do that again." You will do it again. Because like I said, we don't think we just act and react reflexively. So chances I'm gonna do that thing again is 100%. If you remind me just before, predict me, I won't do it. If you let me know right away and then I can fix it. And then I start to remember not to do it. People again, have to understand how memory works. But people let things slide, they wait until two weeks later, it's like being angry with your dog for peeing this morning. Dog is upset, but doesn't know what you're talking about. We're that way as human beings, we're not that smart. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: I'm curious too. There is one thing that jumped out at me as part of your conversation about resolving fights, and I love this emphasis on, Keep it simple and short, and come back, come back to each other. You also talked about the way that we sometimes start up a conversation that it creates more harm than good versus being willing to just kinda lay it on the table right upfront as opposed to the, "There's something that's been bothering me for a while and I really wanna talk." just blah, saying it. So what's behind that?

Stan Tatkin: That is anxiety, and it's also a particular style of way of processing information whereby people many times think out loud. And thinking out loud is fine but you have to understand that as you're thinking out loud, you're boring your partner, or you're making them wonder what the punchline is. And so because we have this negativity bias, in the absence of knowing something, we're going to fill it in with something not so good. As I'm leading up to this and I'm telling you, "Neil, I don't wanna say this because it's gonna hurt your feelings. Your blood pressure is going up, your heart rate is going up. And don't get mad, please. Last time you got really mad at me, and then I had to go to my mother's for the rest of the weekend. Blood pressure going up there, and... And I'll try not to hurt you." By this time, the next thing that's gonna happen after I stop is you're gonna punch me because I alerted you to something and you're physiologically doing what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to prepare for the tiger who's gonna eat you.

Stan Tatkin: That's not good. Where as we wanna lead with relief and go. The first thing is, you're right or I'm sorry I did that. Or can you explain what it is 'cause I don't even know what I did, but something that relieves that person quickly. Also, you wanna hit it and then repair, then take it down. "So you know what? I'm not going tonight and now you're upset with me. Let me explain why." Okay. So the reason for this is all physiological. I hit it when you have the most head room, because with news, anything, there's a spike and then I soothe it, then I fill in. But if I fill in before, that's called burying the lede, I'm taking too long to get to my point and arousing you unnecessarily. And so it's the other way around. All of this is based on, again, biology, physiology. It's not personal, it's just how we are. So you hit it and then you explain and soften from there, but you also relieve somebody immediately when they're upset with you. Does that make sense?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and I can see the value in that. Yeah, for sure. Because of that very reason that whether it's your own anxiety, I don't want to deal with this problem or the way that you're stirring up the other person's anxiety. At that point, you're in this reciprocal anxiety circuit. Your mirror neurons are probably going crazy.

Stan Tatkin: Imagine you're a child and you're getting a shot. And the doctor says, "Okay, sweetheart I'm gonna stick this big fucking needle into your little tiny arm. And it's gonna hurt like crazy for a second. And are you up for that? I'm gonna give you a lollipop, so maybe you can choke on it." Right? No it's like, "Oh, look over there boom, done. [laughter] I'm sorry, I'm sorry, sweetie for hurting you. But it's all over now." Okay. So maybe people will get it with that image.

Neil Sattin: Right. Right, I swear there's a viral video somewhere of that happening, and then the little kid, "Boom!" right in the nose. [laughter] I know I've seen that.

Stan Tatkin: It's unwise.

Neil Sattin: Right. Well, but overall, the message is intact, which is, if you're always setting the stage that you are there with your partner, you're not out to get your partner, and even when you have bad news to deliver, "I'm not going tonight and I'm still here with you. I wanna work through this. No one... We both don't get out of this unless we're both succeeding here." So if you can hold your own... Your partner's disappointment while you're holding your truth around why you can't go, just using that example, then you're gonna avoid getting punched on the nose by offering the bad news because you're there in a context of mutual support.

Stan Tatkin: Right. The...

Neil Sattin: Yeah, it's like, "How do we always preserve that context?"

Stan Tatkin: The reason for these errors... 'Cause they are errors. The reason for these errors is, the reason I am doing that with you, is because I'm thinking of me. I'm not thinking of you. I'll say I'm thinking of you, but I'm not. I'm thinking of me. I'm afraid of how you'll react. I'm afraid of the consequences of my sins. And that signals something to you quite different. You don't know that. All you know is what I'm serving you with. And this is where people are misunderstanding each other all the time. I think I'm communicating this, but I'm not. That's because I'm thinking only of me, I'm not thinking of my person. So, again, we're back to this idea of a two person system, of taking care of myself and the other person at the same time. And this is the selfishness or the self-centeredness of insecurely attached people, is that they consider themselves first, and even they're sparing... Their partner is also saving themselves. And it's not really considerate. It's not really sensitive. A lot of this gets taken care of once we get the idea. I have to consider you, not consider the consequences for me. And if we're doing that for each other, we're serving each other, and that's how we remain respectful and safe.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, great. It's such an important skill because disagreements will occur in relationship. They need to. They need to because you're two different people so... And that makes me think about one other thing, but do we have time for one more question? It's actually...

Stan Tatkin: Sure.

Neil Sattin: We're at quarter past the hour. What often comes up in this conversation toward the end, we established, "Okay, we wanna create safety for each other. We wanna... And I get it. Even when we're fighting, we're gonna focus on the safety." But then there's the flip side, which is, "Wait a minute. If we're feeling so safe and cozy with each other, where's that hot... Where's that passion? Where's the sex? Where's the excitement that comes from the tension of... " I don't know. That hasn't been my experience in relationship, but it's a question that comes up, which is like, "Wait a minute. Isn't the safety gonna kill something? Are we gonna be too safe in our relationship?" I'd love to hear a quick answer on that. Yeah.

Stan Tatkin: Well, a lot of people keep the thrill alive by scaring each other and that's not good either. That'll kill you soon. Being safe with each other is not about eroticism. Being safe with each other is knowing that you can depend on each other with your life. But if you're always wondering whether the relationship will exist tomorrow or whether your partner's gonna betray you, that may make you feel more excited about your partner, but that sucks. There are other ways to be excited about your partner [chuckle] without scaring the shit out of each other.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. [chuckle]

Stan Tatkin: And that has to do with knowing how to co-create exciting love, which is the dopaminergic addictive love that Helen also talks about, Helen Fisher. But it's well-known, and that is through direct eye contact, it's through shared novelty attending to a third thing that's completely new, doing things together that neither of you have ever done, levels the playing field, but also quiet love, which is basically shutting up and just relaxing together without doing anything. So there's all sorts of ways to co-generate these states, but people have to understand that it's done that way. And it will never ever, ever be the way it was when you first met because it's impossible. You know too much about each other, that doesn't mean you know everything about each other, and it doesn't mean that you really know each other as well as you think because of that memory problem, that automation issue.

Stan Tatkin: When we automate each other, we only think we know each other. And that's where we're all making all these errors. When I look into your eyes and we stay there in a gaze you suddenly become a stranger enough to me to where you are different and I can't predict you in this moment. That's exciting. And if I'm not looking at you, you're the same as I always thought in my head, I don't see anything different 'cause I'm not looking. So the antidote to automation, the only antidote other than senility is presence and attention. That's it, [chuckle] presence and attention. There could be a time when we become senile and we go, "Oh God, you look like a pretty young woman. Who are you?" [chuckle] Then it's all new and fresh again, but I don't think you wanna wait for that to happen.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I think that's also why it's so important to foster the skill of being curious, because as much as you wake up your curiosity, then you're probably pulling people out of that automatic place into a place of like, "Wait a minute. I actually don't really know you. And what can I discover about you?"

Stan Tatkin: Automation is a trance. It helps us get through life and do things that we ordinarily couldn't do. We wouldn't get out of a corner of a room if we didn't have that feature. But it also makes us bored. It also makes us think that we know what we know. And by the way, people wonder why time flies faster as we get older. That's because we've automated more things and we're not exposed enough to new things. We don't throw ourselves into novelty anymore and so why wouldn't time fly by? Everything's automatic. So this is another reason to do this now with your child, with your partner, with your parents while they're alive. Is to be present, pay attention, look. Look at every detail of the face, of the eyes. People are interesting. They're not interesting in our own heads, just not.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so true. I love that. Well, Stan it's always great to have you on the show. You have such deep wisdom to offer and I'm glad to... Like now we've got the trifecta. Not that... I mean I hope to have you on again of course, but this is a perfect next dose in the series of Stan Tatkin on Relationship Alive. Your work is obviously having a huge impact on our culture. I know because people are talking about it all the time and I love your Relationship Rx recording that just came out, it's eight hours long. So there's a lot to offer a couple that's learning how to handle problematic situations with more ease, more resilience. Looking forward to your We Do book coming out. And as I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, if you wanna download a transcript, you can visit, wired referring to Stan's earlier books "Wired for Love" and "Wired for Dating", or you can always text the word passion to the number 33444, follow the instructions and you can download the transcript that way. Stan, if people want to find out more about your work, what's the best place for them to visit? Now I know you're training therapists, as well as working with lay people.

Stan Tatkin: Right, so if you want to attend any of our couples retreats, which we do all over the world, and there are several coming up now in East Coast and West Coast, go to; our schedules are up for this year and also if you are a therapist and you want to be trained in this, that's how this started, was teaching therapists, and if you're interested it's really a fun approach. Same place, go there and our schedule is up there for the entire year inside United States and outside.

Neil Sattin: Great, great, and I've heard from at least one person in your trainings how amazing they are and how much they're getting about how to work with couples. Hopefully you train people how to tell it like it is. [chuckle] You either come out alive or you die together, you gotta figure... [chuckle] So hopefully they get that from you as well.

Stan Tatkin: Thank you Neil, and congratulations for your upcoming book.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, thanks so much.


Jul 11, 2018

Should you get back together with your ex? How do you know if it's a good idea? And, once you've decided that it's a good idea, how do you get back together with the best chance of succeeding? Let's face it - things didn't work out the first time around. What can you do to prevent history from repeating itself? In today's episode, I'll give you the exact questions to ask (yourself, AND your ex) that will help you figure out whether or not it's a good idea. And then we'll cover what to do to increase your chances of getting it right this time around. Along the way, you'll learn great questions to ask yourself before you enter into ANY new relationship - or how to create a structure to support the relationship that you're currently in.

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Jul 5, 2018

What are some practical ways to build safety in your relationship? To get back to love when you're in conflict? And to create such a solid background of safety and positive energy in your relationship that you can withstand the inevitable bumps along the way? One of the most important skills for you to develop is the ability to come back when things go a bit off-the-rails. In today’s episode, we’re going to give you a tool to help you when times are challenging - and to put even more positive energy in the relationship bank account when things are going well - or even just neutral. Our guest is Gabrielli LaChiara, a teacher and friend whose work has been fundamental in the growth of my own relationship, as well as my coaching and healing work with clients. In our conversation today, Gabrielli blends some of the techniques of Howard Glasser’s Nurtured Heart approach with her own Infinity Healing practice to give you something you can start doing right away to boost your relationship.

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


Listen to our first episode with Gabrielli LaChiara - Episode 16: Expanding Your View of What’s Possible in Relationship

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Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today, we're going to dive in to the question of, what can you do in the moment when things are going off the rails with your partner to bring yourself, and to help bring your partner back to presence, to balance, to safety so that you can grow from there. I wanted to give you something really practical, and I also wanted to bring in someone special to give you this something really practical. Her name is Gabrielli LaChiara and she's been on the show once before back in Episode 16, in an episode entitled "Expanding Your View of What's Possible in Your Relationship." That's a very powerful episode. If you want to check it out, you can go to, and you'll hear in a moment why it's /infinity. But you can go there to listen to our last episode, but we're going to build on that, but it's not required that you listen to that first, just so you know.

Neil Sattin: Gabrielli is a great friend of mine, a close friend, a teacher who has been really a guide for me and Chloe for the past nearly five years. We've been in a training with her, learning about this combination of neural science and shamanism and energy work kind of all blended together in a way that's really practical and has helped us do our healing work in the world. But it wouldn't be possible without what we've learned from Gabrielli LaChiara. I'm really excited to have my friend and teacher here with us today and we'll start with that question and we'll take it from there and who knows where we'll go. It's always exciting and unpredictable. Thank you so much for joining us today Gabrielli.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Thank you. Hi.

Neil Sattin: Hi. Yeah, great to have you here. It's so funny that episode 16, that's practically ancient history for the podcast, and yet amusingly enough I'm actually sitting in the very room where I started recording the podcast ages ago and we're back there. I think I've told everyone listening that Chloe and I moved recently. We're back in the the big city. So in some ways, even having you on the show is also bringing things back full circle. But of course even though we're back, it's always new and different. I feel like we know each other so much better than we did back then as well. So in our last conversation, we focused a lot on this question of how a lot of people find their way into relationship, and then it's like they didn't get the memo that their partner actually isn't out to get them.


Gabrielli LaChiara: I remember that.


Neil Sattin: And that's a lot of what comes up once people get through that honeymoon phase of just being blissed out on each other. There's this tension that's often... You could sum up and translate as, we're not on the same team. So a lot of what we talked about was, how do we bring people back onto the same team and yet what is so challenging is even if you come from that place and you recognize it, "We're on the same team, we're in this together." The thing is, in a moment where one or the other of you unintentionally or sometimes intentionally ruptures the safety of the relationship in whatever way that happens. Now, it can feel like that person sitting across from you or next to you or in the other room is your enemy. It can just feel that way even if you know intellectually that's not true. So, one of the initial inspirations for bringing you back on the show was to talk about this strategy, this technique that you've taught me and Chloe, and that comes from... I'm going to let you talk about where it comes from but that's been so helpful when we can remember and make ourselves do it in bringing us back to the moment that we've called energizing or presencing. So maybe you could give us a quick background on where this comes from, and then we'll talk about what it is and how to do it.

Gabrielli LaChiara: That sounds like a good idea. I'm just here talking, and I'm listening and I'm feeling, and I'm having those memories of being on the call last time and just first, I want to acknowledge and appreciate the amount of time and energy and resourcing you've done to encourage and support healthy relationships, not only yours, but all of the people who listen. So I just feel, I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed and crazy appreciative of the time and the care you've put into developing these resource guides. So what that brings up for me is this kind of welling of gratitude.

Gabrielli LaChiara: It's interesting because that welling of gratitude is both something that we occasionally have naturally. In this moment, it came natural to me. It just welled up inside of like, "Wow, there's... So many people's lives are changing or adjusting, or growing, or learning, or evolving because of this contribution you're making." And for how long you've been doing that. There's this well of gratitude. What it reminds me of is my backyard when I was eight years old and I had a really good friend - I had a lot of really good friends, but I can remember this one friend who used to come to my backyard and we would... Her name was Cricket, and we used to play croquet. She was the only friend I had ever had that at that time, that stood out for this one particular reason, which is going to make total sense when I come back to answering your question. Because we would be playing this game, and every time one of us did something well, the other one would celebrate it and start jumping up and down, and we'd get really super silly and funny and playful. I had a lot of friends that I always had fun and laughed with, but this was probably the only friend that I... That ever gave me compliments or that I would give compliments to for doing well.

Gabrielli LaChiara: I could remember how infectious this was, that not only were we playing this game and that we weren't being competitive, which was its own thing, and I grew up with brothers who were really competitive. So that in and of itself was really fun, but I can remember this feeling in my heart that I would now describe almost like my spirit enlivening, because there was, nobody could do anything wrong. It became an energy, a vibration of total success constantly. So every time we played croquet, we were just feeding this... What felt to me, like I was feeding my soul and my heart with positivity. So that memory flooded in and if I think about where did energizing come and I fast forward, energizing came from... I actually learned the tool called energizing from the Nurtured Heart Approach. I found the Nurtured Heart Approach in parenting, which is, I also now use in school systems across the country and with families, but with everyone, with couples, with people. I found the Nurtured Heart Approach at a time when the intensity in my home with my child was so exaggerated that... And I knew something was wrong, and I would say to people, "I just have to give more. I have to give more. He's not getting enough from me." And people around me were like, "You're a parent who gives way too much to your child. Never mind give them more."

Gabrielli LaChiara: But I knew something was missing, and I was craving this connection that I was trying to build with this human being that I felt like if I could just build it correctly, if I could give him enough, maybe things wouldn't be so hard. I was pouring it in, maybe not in all the right places, but I was really devoted to try to pour it in connection. At the time that I found the Nurtured Heart Approach, I picked up the book and poured through it, and I was just fascinated with this idea of where does the energy go in our relationships, and how much time are we putting into, and fuel and resource, are we putting into what's going wrong? And not that there aren't boundaries or agreements or consequences that people need with each other in some way, restitutions, but that our actual... Our resource of energy, emotions, relationship, becomes very quickly a paradigm where it's easy to focus on what's wrong.

Gabrielli LaChiara: So that sense that your partner is out to get you breeds more and more looking for the problems, more and more noticing the problems, more and more defining the problems. Like our resource, our energy, our emotions, our thoughts and maybe you can identify with this, but I'm sure others can identify with this, how many times do you walk away from your home or your partner and spend hours thinking about what you don't like about them or what went wrong, or what you're angry about or planning the conversation you're going to have to confront some problem? Do you know that space or do you know people that have that?

Neil Sattin: Well, for sure, clients of mine are in that. I feel like some... As I hear you talk about that, miraculously I recognize that in my relationship with Chloe, that's really not a dynamic that I experience.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Good, good.

Neil Sattin: At least not anymore. There were times where that was really a big deal for us, but yeah, not currently.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Anyway, the concept of energizing was introduced in that way. What I realized is that what I had been craving all along was a way to feed the goodness, the greatness, the essence of my child and/or of everybody. What occurred to me is that my... Everything in my life felt like it came into focus with "what's important to me is what's going right". What's important to me is how to build from good experiences. What's important to me is how to take a hard experience and learn from it. But all this positivity that was missing in my emotional dynamics with people - and so for me, the first platform was my child, but then it became this platform of life and I've used it in businesses or with couples, and it's just this cornerstone of what does it take to feed more energy, more attention, more time, and more resource into what is actually going right and into the values that you want to create in your dynamic.

Gabrielli LaChiara: I'll take it to relationships in this way. I have this image of these grooves that people get into where we're stuck, we're maybe frozen in a groove and the power struggle is ever present. So we come home and we kick into it and we think about it. Sometimes we can take a break and be amazing, but then it kicks back in. To me, energizing is like creating a whole another groove, like a river of possibility and a place where no matter how hard it gets, there's so much in the well of what's going right and how I believe in you and the faith I have and the values we're aligned in. There's so much built, invested in the well that there's like a currency of positivity we can drink from. So you have a problem and you might dump the well halfway, but you have a well to dump from, to draw from. Does that make sense?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, definitely and I think when I reflect on what I just said about what's up with me and Chloe, I think part of that is that we have so much in the bank account. Even when we've had a lot going on that the whole emotional set point of our relationship is so different now than it was in the earlier days.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right. And that investment builds over time, just like the investment in negativity builds over time. So we know that the first time we have a problem that doesn't win the whole relationship, or we leave. Or if it does, we leave, if it's that bad. But if we're sticking around and we're still having those negative experiences, we begin to create a bank account of negative experiences. The brain is pretty simple sometimes. So it's very easy for the brain to catalogue and remember the order of those experiences, or maybe not the order, but the magnitude of those experiences, like they build. If we are constantly coming at the problem as a problem focused relationship, we'll actually feed more problems, and that was the aha. Even if I'm talking about the problems nicely, which was more my style, which is to try to process and talk about the problems and problem solve and come up with solutions and think about what was happening and understand it differently, I was still talking about problems [chuckle] and that meant that I was actually feeding the dynamism of the problem. I was giving it a lot of energy.

Gabrielli LaChiara: So in the human brain, I think because we're designed for safety, it's pretty easy to scan and look for the problems. I think that's just natural. We want to make sure we're okay. So to look up and be like, "What's going to go wrong?" I think we do that a lot, driving down the road, walking somewhere, planning for something, we scan what's going wrong. I don't think that's unnatural. So energizing in a way, as much as we can be nice people, energizing might end up being somewhat unnatural to teach the brain and teach ourselves how to focus in on what's going right. Deliberately, consciously, with effort, with time, and to notice that in order to do that, we have to let something go. We have to temporarily shut off the addiction or attraction to the problem.

Neil Sattin: Right, and that's what's so challenging when you're in a triggered space because you're so locked in in that moment to the negative, like the part of your brain, that negative bias that's found the danger. It's locked in and it's just saying danger over and over again until you find a way to get yourself out of it. But the strategies that your brain knows automatically are somewhat primitive, for getting out of that.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right, very primitive. Very primitive. So we're in fight, flight, or freeze and that's what we're doing. So when we look at that primal structure, the question becomes, what does it take to comfort that primal structure or to side bar it? Because you're not going to stop all the reactivity in the relationship, we're going to have that. We come in in a relationship, there's no way we get to Earth without having a relationship. They're required, you're fused and formed through another human being. Just that puts us in a state of understanding the impact that another human being can have on us. We know deep inside that people have the capacity to annihilate us. We know deep inside that our partners are capable of just wreaking havoc on us. We know that and that becomes almost what we look for. "Are you safe for me", becomes a way that I look for all the problems to scan if I'm safe. I almost want to find the problem so that I can figure out whether or not you're really safe. And yet that in and of itself is a formula for creating travesties, crisis, problems. All kinds of brokenness comes from running into the problems on purpose over and over and over again. Right?

Neil Sattin: Right. Because if you're looking for it and that's where you're tuned in all the time, then that gives so much more weight to the moments where you might say, "Oh, see there, there it is. I told you I wasn't safe," and it just it becomes this self-validating thing. Whereas if you weren't looking for evidence, you would have so much more resilience in how you interpreted things that maybe are coming at you cross-wise. But in the context of, "Am I safe or not?" Then everything that comes at you cross-wise becomes just that confirmation of like, "Oh, I guess I really am not safe."

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right. There's strategies, all kinds of things that I think about in this conversation, but one of them is like, "Can I trust myself over a long period of time to be able to gauge and assess safety?" If safety isn't every single dynamic that's happening or if my assessment of safety doesn't have to happen on every breath I take in this room, it does require us, and maybe we don't know, relationships are changing so much in our culture. We're not diving into relationships just for security or some of us are not. So if we're choosing a relationship for love, we have even that much more on the line. And what does it even mean? There's not a template that has been around long enough that we can totally count on, and maybe one template doesn't work for everyone.

Gabrielli LaChiara: So there's this vulnerability and like, "What's it going to take for me personally?" This is my vulnerability to be able to assess appropriately whether or not someone's safe for me. On the one hand, I want to know right away and on another hand, I never want to know. Like I both don't ever want to know that you're unsafe for me, and I'm dying to find out right now that you're unsafe so I can blow it up and get out of here, or I'm like so, how do I manage that? I think that's a real conundrum, again, in the primal brain. So on one hand, we're looking at a container that's longer ranging. So one being, "Can I put in some tools for myself? Where is my accountability? Who am I going to work with outside of my partnership to support me and being able to assess if this person really is safe for me?" Can I allow my brain to relax a bit if I say like, "Okay, I'm going to take the next three months, six months, a year, whatever, and begin to define what that means." Like, "How often is this person being, am I in conflict with them? Are those conflicts real or are they not real? Are they over whether or not I moved my mug on the counter? Or are we actually diving into dynamics that are really not okay and emotionally unhealthy?"

Gabrielli LaChiara: So there's all this context in that way. Coming back to the moment with you, I would say when we energize, what we're doing is building a platform so that we can get triggered and we don't get lost. So to me, energizing is a backdrop. It's like the screen saver. I want to feel like every time I rest my brain, I go to the whole well, the whole investments. I dive into all the delicious places where things have gone right and that therefore, when something does go wrong, I can bounce back faster. So it's... We're never going to not be triggered by our partners, that would be insane to think we could do that. So, can we find a safe way to get triggered, feel contracted, reset, bounce back, and then what do we step into? If there's not a well there that's healthy and vibrant and filled with not just great experiences, but meaning, deep purpose and meaning, and values, then we have a harder time coming out of the conflict. Does that make sense?

Neil Sattin: Right, because it's like, what are you coming out to?

Gabrielli LaChiara: Exactly. You don't know how to get out. And as you were saying before, when the brain gets that fixated, it's expecting trauma. If we're in fight, flight and freeze we think someone's dying, it's an expectation of trauma. It's huge when we get that triggered. So in order to step out of that, the part of our brain that's not traumatized has to take over and look around and be like, "But hey, look, all these things are okay." Like, "These things are safe, and this person has met your values in that way, and they have kindness, and here's how it shows and look at all the moments where there's been respect and care given to one another." So we need to have evidence of what's going right and that evidence has to be so specific, and clear, and digestible, irrefutable in order for it to stick. It has to therefore become a bigger pulse than the problems we have.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. So, what would that look like? Maybe it's worth talking about how you set that as a backdrop, but also when I think on our experience, how that translates in a triggered moment, it's so... It becomes so stripped down to the bare bones of that.

Gabrielli LaChiara: I'll speak to both of those. So, let me just speak to energizing first. I'm really fond of reboots, bounce backs, resets, whatever you want to call them. I love them, even do overs I love. I love when we get to notice that we're off track. And to me, there's like a foundation also and an agreement that says, "Hey, if we get off track, here's the things we're going to do. Here's what we're going to do if we get off track." And anyone can cry uncle, anyone can throw in the red flag, but once we're off track, whoever can reset first, resets until the other person catches up. And usually that needs some agreements, like some basic structures of, "Okay. We're going to take either 10 minutes or two hours or two days, whatever it is, but at that point when we come back together, how do we come back together?" And that's the connection to energizing. If we only do energizing when we've had a problem, we'll actually instigate more problems, because as nice as that sounds, when we give each other a lot of positive feedback after we've blown out, and the make up sex and all those things that people talk about, "Let's get in a fight and make it better." It actually feeds that getting in a fight ends up in a good place. And so we want to be a little careful not to only do your energizing and positive connections after there's been a problem.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I was also thinking of this kind of built-in and this is... The word conundrum is coming to me again, where if you only do it when you're having a problem, then when you're doing it, it would reinforce the like, "Oh, right, we're having a problem right now."

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right.

Neil Sattin: Versus what you want it to be reinforcing, which is, "No, the backdrop of this problem is actually that we're safe right now and we've got each other."

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right, right. Then also partners, relationships knowing their limits, part of resetting and rebooting is actually knowing when you're over your head. So if you keep trying to tackle a topic that becomes toxic, or out of control or painful, then it's helpful to be able to recognize that either we're not strong enough yet to do this or we need help, or it's just not the right timing.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Gabrielli LaChiara: So when we put energizing in as the backdrop, and I think it feels helpful to me to describe it a little bit?

Neil Sattin: Yes.

Gabrielli LaChiara: But if we put energizing in as a backdrop, what we're doing is saying, "Okay. So let's return to our safety. Let's remember why we're in this relationship." Let's go back to the values and the things that bring us together, and that each of us hold as the goodness and greatness of who we are as people. Then let's rationally take a look, when we're ready, that whether or not we just need to take a topic off the table for a little while. Or it could be as simple as, "Don't ever talk about that topic at dinner, because we can't do that over food." Maybe there's triggers we don't know about. Or it could be as big as, "We're not going to be able to resolve that on our own, so let's get some therapy and help and support and put some pieces together that we might be missing." Right?

Neil Sattin: Right.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Let me dive into energizing. The Nurtured Heart Approach, it's a fabulous body of work and it was designed for parenting. And again, I took it and started playing with it in schools and education, teachers, administrations, relationships, relationships, relationships, 'cause I love it. I just love it. It struck the chord in me of that little girl that knew that when we meet each other out of competition and in positivity, the world just gets so much brighter and we all feel safer. So Howard Glasser is the founder of that. I just will name that for him, and people can look up his work if they want to. But what I'll say about energizing, that I thought was profound, is that it's, first of all, it's easier to focus on the negative. That's more natural to our brains. When we are triggered, we usually can catalog, to the detail, something that's going on. So the brain does this thing where it's like, "You opened the door. Then you looked at me and then you turned to the right. Then you turned to the left. And you had on a black shirt. And you went over there. And then you went over here." We know everything that happened and all of that was the evidence that you hate me.

Gabrielli LaChiara: In Nurtured Heart and in energizing, there's this flip around which says, "Wait a minute, I'm going to catalog the facts of the moment. I'm going to fine tune down to just the facts of a moment; not a big, grandiose generalized thing." The New York Times wrote an article about why praise and compliments were bad years ago. It was interesting to me because I kinda get it. When you do a lot of empty, open praise and there's pain, we often don't believe the compliments and they can actually backfire on us. So, if somebody's saying to me, "That was amazing, you're great." And I feel insecure inside, I'm like, "Nah, you're wrong. I am just... I suck." In energizing, the idea was to create safety, and the safety is the evidence, the irrefutable evidence that I'm really seeing you, present and clear, in this moment in time, and those are the facts. So they become those same kind of facts we use when we're upset, but they're when nothing's going wrong. The most amazing time to energize is when nothing's going right and nothing's going wrong. It's a neutral because we begin to say, "Oh, all of the things that happen in between, the amazing moments and the horrible moments, count. They're important to me."

Gabrielli LaChiara: So we fact find simple like, "Hey, you were looking at me. When you walked in the door, you weren't angry and you came to the table and you put down your book and you looked up and I glanced at you and we caught eyes and that means something to me because all of those tiny little things that happened show me that you care." So we qualify it with our value and our values are personal. We can qualify it with any value. It's whatever value I decide to qualify it as. That's the prerogative of the giver. But the person receiving is received in facts first. So again, "You walked in the door. You put down your book. You looked up and looked me in the eye. And when you did that, I felt cared for. I just gave you the value that's important to me, or you showed kindness. Or I felt respected, I felt noticed." What becomes so important are the facts. You can just say facts, and that still energizes. People think it's awkward, but honestly, it's like the most natural thing we do. We just don't practice it when nothing's going wrong. [chuckle] Because again, it's natural when people are angry, whether they say it out loud or not, or hurt, they're fact finding the whole time, they're thinking about every tiny detail of what went wrong. It's very natural to do.

Neil Sattin: Right. So there's tuning into the actual details of what you're noticing and naming them. How do you draw the connection, for instance between, "and you did all these things and what that means to me is that you care about me", where it might seem tenuous? Well, how did my coming in and setting my book down on the counter... I'm just thinking of the classic example would be, "You came in, you put your shit down on the table. And I got pissed because I've been trying to clean the house all day and now there's more shit on the table." It's like... So, how do you turn that into these elements that really don't necessarily have a meaning attached to them unless a partner is maliciously like putting things on the table to disrupt the cleanliness of the house or something like that. Yeah. How do you draw that connection in a way that feels genuine?

Gabrielli LaChiara: Yeah, that's a great question. First of all, it won't in the beginning feel genuine. So I'll just throw that out for a second because we kinda do have to fake it until we make it. There's something about getting the brain to be comfortable saying these words, fact finding, and then putting positive things on it is going to be awkward. So both partners have to be responsive, although I've seen relationships change because one partner just decides to go forward and the other one doesn't even involve themselves at all. The intention is what counts. So first of all, the integrity to be working towards change and to be saying, "I'm going to deliberately focus on what's going right. I'm just going to focus on it," as hard as it might seem rather than making up stories, because we're either finding facts or we're making up stories. It's pretty much what our brain does. We find facts or we make up stories, we're doing it all the time anyway, so I can find the facts to make up a story of something great, or I can find the facts to make up a story of something horrible, where it really is awkward to find the facts and say good things about them for a lot of us.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Even those people who are positive, it's awkward. Because we usually aren't being that specific. And so a couple could do it. There's of couple of options. If the couple together is on board, then they together might decide, "Let's focus on kindness and respect for a month, and let's just look for it everywhere we can. And let's energize each other anywhere from one to 20 times a day in any way that we see kindness and respect in each other," and even ourselves, I can do it for myself. Like today, I did this thing, and it was an act of kindness. And here's the five facts of what I did. I saw somebody fall down. I stopped over to see if they were okay. I waited for their friend to come get to them who was at the car. But I showed kindness. There needs to be an agreement on some level if you do it that way because I think it's helpful for partners to both get on board. And yet if you can't have that agreement, it's really just one person drawing from wherever they can find.

Gabrielli LaChiara: So you can be spontaneous and just say whatever comes to mind, you can have teachers in classrooms, and parents sometimes put words all over the ceiling and the wall, and the refrigerators, and they just look for a word. It's like, "Okay. I'm going to look for the facts. You just sat down at the table and now you put your fork down and now you're looking at me." And all of a sudden I'm like, I have a moment to create something, but I don't know what to do. And so I look up and I'm like, "Oh, oh, I see. I have 10 choices. Okay, that shows me, I'm going to choose respect, for example." All of this sounds kind of trite, or maybe awkward and weird as it is but my experience is that when we deliberately focus on building the muscle of positivity and energizing and caring about our values, it takes of like wildfire in no time, it really in a couple of weeks is natural. We want it. We want to be acknowledged, it's a primal need to be valued. To be loved.

Neil Sattin: That's one reason why I think the facts are so important. Is that, one, kind of like what you were saying earlier. It's grounding it in a reality, so it's that part of you that wants to discount what your partner is saying. "Well, I can't argue with the fact that I came in the house and I set down my briefcase and I looked at you, those things did happen." So it kind of messes with that part of the circuitry that otherwise might say, "No, I don't believe you."

Gabrielli LaChiara: I don't believe you, right. Oops, sorry.

Neil Sattin: It's okay. Also, I want to just point out that, because I think you listening probably... You have a sense that I'm a pretty positive person and the fact that I think I've probably even said those words. This has been hard for me to put into practice regularly even coming from a positive place. So I like that you use that analogy of building a muscle and breaking it down to its constituent components.

Gabrielli LaChiara: It is like working out. So if we think of it like, "We're going to put an exercise plan in our life." We know that exercising is healthy for us, and we also know that not exercising over a long, long, long period of time will cause a problem. So if we look at the relationship and we say, "We want to build this muscle." Then we know that if we exercise the muscle of seeing each other, believing, and I would say that ultimately, the muscle is, "Can I believe in you?", and it helps the person giving maybe even more than the person receiving. It's like when I look at you and I can remember that you're a kind person, and I can look at you and I can say, "Whoa, that was so... That little thing you did that you do all the time, it can count. It actually counts for something incredible about you." Then I also have some fortitude to remember like, "Wait a minute, I'm not seeing you clearly when all I see is the bad thing." And build my muscle. So it really is like an exercise.

Gabrielli LaChiara: I encourage people. Often, they'll start out or they'll... With a week at a time, and then I encourage like tracking it a little bit, and resetting it as a bigger picture, too. The couple can do this for two weeks, and then sit down, and talk about how it's going and then put it back in place, and do it again. Just to try to think like, "Okay. I need to keep this going." And how do we do that? It does build on itself, the reservoir of goodness begins to take effect, and it can have a couple things happen. One time I've... Not one time, but many times, I see partners actually temporarily feel worse 'cause they're like, "Oh, my God. This is terrible. I have never been acknowledged my whole life, and I'm starting to feel some sadness about not being seen so many times." and yet I'm not angry at my partner, and I'm not sad about them. It might bring up the emotions that are underneath the conflicts that are more personal to each person. Other times, it just feeds a part of the need on such a deep level that people start to relax with each other and they start to realize like, "Oh, we could actually enjoy each other."

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. That makes me think about how important this is in a triggered moment. And why this... I guess what my brain is doing right now is it's forming the connection again between, "Right. I feel seen by my partner and I actually feel very seen when I'm getting the facts." Because it's like that is what is happening right now. It's, "I'm not getting the story. I'm getting all of your attention really." So receiving that is so nourishing and then coming back to that in a triggered moment reminds you, 'cause I think you're not really in your body so much when you're triggered. So again, it's another way that you're reminded, "Oh, wait a minute. One, I actually exist" because it could be a reminder like I'm hearing that I just put my hand down on the cushion. And that reminds me that I, for one thing, have a fucking hand and there it is on the cushion. It's like bringing me back to me in those moments.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Well, present. It's bringing you into presence for present time and if that's the body, that's incredible because you're right. We do disconnect from our body awareness when we're in pain. That's very normal to have happened, so this idea that we could bring each other into present time. One thing I'll say is, it's interesting most of the time, we're having a problem with our partners in our own head. So we could have a conflict, and that conflict can last 10 minutes or an hour. Often, the conflict lasts this 10 or 15-minute thing. And then for an hour, we feel awful. Maybe two hours, a minute, who knows what happens? Maybe we go off to work, and come home. Maybe, we get distracted. But what happens is it doesn't leave our brain. So our brain is thinking about our partner from the lens of that moment, for hours and hours, if not, weeks, and days, and years. So we catalogue that, and that's how I think of you. So then I see you in this moment, and I'm not really seeing you in this moment free from any other moment. This moment is packed with 80 million other things.

Gabrielli LaChiara: So this idea that we can pull ourselves and our partners back into present time, which is like even if we had a conflict an hour ago, and this is why I like resetting, and coming back to energizing especially if there's already been energizing as a backdrop. Then when we come back it's like, "Let me just get in this moment now because maybe that thing is not resolvable. Maybe I did something to hurt your feelings. Maybe you hurt my feelings. Maybe I can't even fix that thing. Maybe that's not the goal, to try to go fix the problem we had. But at least if I could come back here and remember like, "You're still a person sitting across from me. Probably now, you're not actually doing anything that bad anymore." Now, you actually might just be sitting there eating food or watching TV or walking the dog."

Gabrielli LaChiara: It's like, and I am losing all of these moments of freedom that I get to reclaim by recognizing that the present time is not still filled with that conflict. So it does this amazing lensing of coming back and checking like, "Are we still in crisis or not?" Again, there's this thing about what do you with the problem? And gosh, I could... I think I probably have two weeks worth of teleclasses I could talk to you about. [chuckle] My brain is filled with so much. Because there's a question of what we do with the problem and what we do with those conflicts we can't resolve, 'cause we'll have them. We all have them and how to hold that and come back to energizing and then know how to come back to the problem in a healthy way, right?

Neil Sattin: Right.

Gabrielli LaChiara: But there's this whole idea of, can we build this reservoir so full that we can bounce back from the problems. So that when we approach them, we actually have the space to approach them in a more healthy way.

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. Because when you have the backdrop of safety supporting you as you enter a conversation about a problem, that's way different than entering a conversation about a problem feeling like you're about to drop a bomb or...

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right.

Neil Sattin: Something like that, yeah.

Gabrielli LaChiara: And you might get triggered exactly the same as soon as it comes up again, and you may not be able to resolve that, and you may then have to bounce back and reset again. What I would say is that that's the way of building health and the dynamic is to recognize your limits. Sometimes we really can't solve that problem and we're going to need help, or we're going to need space or time to reflect, or maybe we're missing a whole pile of information we haven't even thought of yet. So when we keep having that same injury or hurt recall, when the pain keeps coming back every time we approach the problem, it's good information. It's like, "Oh, wow, we really do have a conflict we can't resolve yet. And so what are we going to do about that?"

Neil Sattin: Yeah. How do you... Let's say you have something like that in your relationship, how do you hold on to the energy of growth and change and just entrusting in the unfolding, even though you know that that problem is still there and unresolved?

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right, right. That would be where you orient the values of the relationship. Again, it brings me to so many other pieces that are just part of the scaffolding, and I won't spend too much time here, and I am about to launch a teleclass or actually by the time this call is put out, the teleclass will have happened, on relationships, parenting in particular, energizing, but also relationships and energizing and the containers. Because there is like, how do we put together a container that allows room to assess whether or not we're safe together? And what are the pieces we put in place including energizing? How do we create a backdrop? Do we need to be in a constant crisis in order to prove that the relationship is good or bad? Some of us are staying in constant crisis because we're trying to prove that we have permission to leave, but I don't even know if that's required. I think you could have an energized set of values in a relationship and still hit a precipice where you decide for yourself or someone else that the relationship's not healthy because those conflicts are unresolvable. Sometimes there are deal breakers.

Gabrielli LaChiara: But if I come back and I say like, "Wow, how do I want to live every day of my life? And how do I want to be in charge of me?" The most empowering way to live is through that lens of, I'm going to look for my values. I'm going to see them in other people. I'm going to recognize what's going right. That doesn't make me delusional. I'm not going to pretend there aren't conflicts, but I'm going to step into my conflicts intentionally so that I have the fortitude to handle them and the strength to handle them. What does that look like?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And that's one thing that I love about tying it into your values is that, that it's part of reinforcing. When you say values, what I'm hearing is, this is the way that I operate, these are the things that I've... The principles that I've decided are important to me, that I've chosen for the guiding force in my life. And so those are things that aren't circumstantial as opposed to... We've talked on the show before about appreciations as a great way of creating positive energy in your relationship and yet appreciations can be somewhat circumstantial. I appreciate this thing about you. It's yeah, almost conditional.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right. And this is really coming into unconditional focus on, again, that I could think what's going right. Love itself is this essence that we get to play in, and the actions that we do can be loving and energizing is like all this build up of loving, kind actions that we put in place so that we can feel that essence permeate through us of the love that we're looking for. Most of us choose our partners because there's some value already aligned that we saw somewhere conscious or unconscious. There's something in the way they move or operate or their lifestyle that at least we thought or we hoped or we felt would inspire us and match something fundamentally important to ourselves. So they're in there already. We're already thinking through those lenses. We're looking for people, partners who can nurse that part of ourselves or each other, or bring wholeness to some parts of who we are.

Gabrielli LaChiara: So this focus is not so much again about being Pollyanna, "I'm going to say a whole bunch of nice things" or about being positive because I want to manipulate you. And there's always a caution like somebody likes... There's people that like to do that energizing because I'm hoping that it'll stop you from getting mad at me later. That's not what it's about either, it's about being present and it's about really focusing on what's important in the moment. Again, that cataloging, actively fact finding into the moment. And at first people think there's not enough facts, but there's millions of them. We're changing every second.

Gabrielli LaChiara: So fact finding into the moment and then imbuing it with something important, with something that feels so important to me, it teaches you about me. So when I say, "Well, when you do those seven things and I felt cared for," I just taught you a formula about what care means to me. If I do that again 20 different times in 20 ways, you now understand what caring means to me. You might be a really caring person, and I might not feel it because you might not understand what caring means to me and how do we define, how do we teach each other about ourselves. Well, that's the over arching feeling in this, which is I get to expose myself to you and show you what's important to me, and I get to see it in you and dig for it and play with it and reveal really myself to you through energizing. But also really show up and see you as a whole person who I can value for just existing and that level of, I value you for existing falls away pretty quickly after the honeymoon, right?

Neil Sattin: Right [chuckle]

Gabrielli LaChiara: I mean, when we meet with somebody, we're so curious and we do energize a lot. If you think about the beginning of relationships, a lot of times people are a lot more generous with like, "Oh my God, you showed up at my door and knocked and waited for me. And I opened the door and you brought flowers and I feel so loved." Then for some reason three months later, you knock on the door and I don't notice anymore. I'm like, "Why are you knocking? Just come in. You're annoying." So [chuckle] It's like in the beginning we're looking for the evidence that you are one true love and that you are perfect for us and that you're amazing. So we're storing that goodness and we're not again, we're not getting delusional. We're still recognizing, we're actually using it so that we can see clearly, so that we can have space from the problems, so that we can look at them with more objectivity and intentionality and focus on whether or not those issues are, we need tools to resolve those issues or not, right?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. There are couple things that are jumping out at me right now. One is, I'm thinking about the distortions that do happen, that sometimes people do get stuck in that initial, I found evidence that you're an amazing person, despite all the buckets of evidence that you're actually truly dangerous for me and they get stuck there. And so they don't leave situations or try to solve problems that really either ought to be solved or you ought to find a way out.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Yeah, right.

Neil Sattin: Or on the flip side, you could be in a situation that's not so cataclysmic, but you're stuck in that danger and "am I safe"? Both of those end up being distortions that I see as I'm working with clients. So I love that you brought that out, the ways that we are always looking for evidence of some sort or another. There's one important thing that I want to go back to in the fact finding and creating a value and how that works, why that works in a triggered moment. And this is something that I just wanted to share because I found it to be so profoundly helpful, which is you could think like, "Alright, I'm in a triggered moment, and so I'm going to energize my partner. I'm going to do all this fact finding, and I'm going to say, 'And that tells me that you love me, or that tells me that you care about me, or that tells me that you're still here even though we're fighting right now.'"

Neil Sattin: It's tempting to think that I'm doing that for the other person versus my experience of it, which is when I'm really triggered by focusing on the facts of the moment and how that connects to my values, that actually helps restore me back to balance. So even though it's sort of directed at the other person or the other person is the subject of everything that I'm saying, the effect is actually, "Oh, I'm presencing myself and bringing myself back online."

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right. Right. We have the opportunity to just energize ourselves. I think the only thing about noting a triggered moment is if there's enough trigger that one person needs space. Then that space has to happen before the energizing can come in. So when I'm the partner that when I'm triggered, I want more connection, I might start energizing like crazy, but I could torture the partner who feels trapped. It's like, "Can you just stop talking?" [chuckle] In that case I might do better energizing, walking away and energizing myself, or walking away and energizing my partner like writing it down, writing down the five things I want to say. Fact finding, put it together, resetting my own brain first, and then giving them that download when they're ready. So I love having a reset protocol. I like people being able to say, "Hey," when someone throws at red flag in on the moment we're in on the play that's going on, let's throw the red flag in. That means that, and this is good to set up before you're in a trigger, but that means that we get to take an hour and actually not talk to each other. Then come back and when we come back, the agreement is to energize. That's our way back in, which is to really focus on what's going... A moment that something went right. And I like it being in the moment as close as possible.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah.

Gabrielli LaChiara: If you have a dynamic where the trigger is not so intense simultaneously, and I'm triggered, but maybe my partner's not even triggered at all, is the best thing in the world for me to do is energize my partner, 'cause it gets me back on track. Instead of standing there, staying triggered at somebody who maybe they didn't even know they did anything, they just walked by and brushed into my arm at the wrong time, and I took it as them being in my way or something. I then get to reset myself by energizing that person. That's so powerful. It's so powerful.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I was also just struck by the thought of how powerful it is. So if you're someone who tends to lean in in a triggered moment, you're looking for a connection as a way of staying safe, and you're partnered with someone who needs a little space so that they don't feel overwhelmed, what's often challenging about that is it's hard to walk away and give your partner space, because in your world what giving space means is, "I don't care about you." So I see this as a perfect opportunity for the energizing for you. So if I'm the lean inner, and I'm recognizing, "Okay. In this moment, my partner needs some space, So I'm going to energize myself." I'm getting up, I'm walking away from the table, and this shows me how much I actually care about my partner, to counteract the fear that I'm getting up. On the flip side, it would be, "I'm getting up, I'm walking away, and this communicates to my partner how much I'm rejecting them," which is what the experience would be of someone who wants connection in those moments. Is that making sense?

Gabrielli LaChiara: Totally, totally makes sense. And the partner who's... The person, we have over-attachment and over-independence, really. We have this attachment, abandonment/attachment, entrapment that happens all over the place. I don't know how we can't be working that out. We literally, as I said before, we're fused through a body. We come in total enmeshment, and then stretch into independence and all the things that happen as we find ourselves as independent from our caregivers early on. We're all parts of these attachment paradigms that we're in. And so as you're talking, I'm thinking about, yeah, that person who wants to over-attach, I need to cling on and partly, I don't want you to abandon me, so I never want to abandon you. So I'm grabbing, on that idea that I can take that feeling of staying connected and put it some place. I'm going to write it down and hold it and treasure it, and love it, and energize by putting it on this piece of paper, or this place that I can bring to you when you're ready.

Gabrielli LaChiara: The work it takes for that person who's un-attaching, who doesn't want to un-attach, is that they're also terrified that the other person is never going to come back. So when you have an agreement to come back to energizing, and you have experiences that build, again, like a muscle, like you separate out, you give the person space, and they come back and energize you when they come back from their hour, two hours or a day they need to take off 'cause their brain is just so flooded they can't focus, they come back and they actually come back with connection. It appeases both partners. Both people feel like, "Oh, there's the connection that I was looking for, so I get safer at giving you space... "

Neil Sattin: Right.

Gabrielli LaChiara: "Knowing that I'm coming back to something I need, and that you're going to meet my need when we come back." So we're meeting our needs for connection. It's all like this interplay of also having a healthy... I think a lot of us don't think we're ever going to fight again. We have a big fight, and we never want it to happen again, [chuckle] so we go into some part of the brain that's like, "Oh, good. I just... I'm going to pretend that's never going to happen." Then when it happens, we're surprised again, and we're totally overwhelmed. [chuckle] So the idea that you could have a structure that's like, "Hey, let's plan on it. Let's build a bank account of investments in our positivity and our values, and energize ourselves like crazy as a backdrop, because some day we're going to have, if not every day, a little bit, we're going to have these triggers kick in, and we get a need to know how to draw from the well to balance that. Let's have a plan for when we're triggered so that we can actually have a protocol set in place, an idea of what's going to happen when, that takes into account two people's needs so that we... It's already scheduled, so if we hit the trigger, I'm not wondering what's going to happen next. I'm like, "Oh, I know what we're going to do. In three hours, we're going to come back and talk to each other." We might agree that we can't deal with the topic, but at least, we can come back to the toolbox." Right?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, I'm getting distracted by this weird... Yeah, this energy of something different that's coming up and maybe before I bring that up, I want to just give you an opportunity, 'cause you mentioned the class that you're about to teach. If you're interested in finding out more about Gabrielli and her work, it's funny because we focus on so much of the practical stuff here, and yet, it's so much more than that. In fact, that's where my head and next question is going. But if you're interested in finding out more about Gabrielli's work, you can visit, and there's a bunch of free stuff there for you. Just a little bit more about what the class is going to be, Gabrielli?

Gabrielli LaChiara: Sure. It'll be four teleclasses, each an hour and a half long and the teleclasses themselves would be designed to break down more about energizing, but really to look at kind of the value based relationships. How do we establish them? What does it look like? Where is the essence? What are we feeding? So for me, as a whole, it's layered with both tools, resources, ideas and concepts, and also, within that, there'll be an opportunity for some really powerful healing. So the healing that takes place in being able to look at how we actually dissolve on the emotional, energetic, mental planes these contracts we get into or the hiccups or the triggers that get triggered that may or may not be about our partners. So, how to resolve some of that together? So we'll both do some healing work on that, and I'll really download a bunch of just practical the outline of how we establish healthier relationships from this paradigm.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Awesome. I'm sure it will be a really powerful class, so I encourage you to check that out and the link will be available in the transcript for this episode, which you can get by visiting and then the number two, so infinity2 and speaking of Infinity, that is the name of Gabrielli's modality that Chloe and I have been studying with her for a number of years now, Infinity Healing Practice, and that's why we're using infinity for this show. It makes me think about this concept of being... Instead of being a body with an energetic being stuck inside it, of actually being an infinite energetic being with the body. When you're talking about the relationship that we are experiencing with other people and the power of energizing, I'm thinking about how so much of the healing work that happens is about resolving some of the dichotomies between feeling that infinite potential in who we are and then the limitations that our body gives us.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so that just pushed me into this whole 'nother place. And I don't know how much time we have really at this point, you tell me, but that's where... That's what was distracting me 'cause I got really excited to think about, "Oh yeah, there's that inner relationship that challenges so many of us where we feel like, "Wait a minute, what I'm doing right now or what I'm seeing manifests in how I act or in how my body is, in the conditions that I have, the pain or whatever it is," like, "That's not in alignment with my own values about what I want for my life." And, you know, that's...

Gabrielli LaChiara: Yeah. I'm going to dive... This is so beautiful. Thank you for saying that and I'm going to just dive into what's coming up for me. Yes, yes, yes. First of all, yes. We are these tiny, really tiny little bodies and the body is just the center of an infinite being and our beings are the essence. Some people call that the spirit. It's like we're all essence. You know that being is, it's not a human. It doesn't get broken by our human experiences. The being is this platform where we can find intuition and knowing and awareness and perception. So we have this powerful being at our fingertips and I'll tell you, I think that what happens is when we fall in love, we ignite that essence. We feel the container of being held.

Gabrielli LaChiara: If we think about being just a soul and a being with no body, and we come into a form, we merge into this form, but then we're situated in the essence and the potency of our mothers, whatever that looks like and we're inside of another whole person. So to think there's a couple of cells that's... They're in this huge complex organism that is surrounding, caring for, building, nurturing and growing us. So we're grown into this idea that we're one thing inside of another is what we always know. When we're finally just our own little form, it's like this sense of, "I'm a body, I'm a center of an infinite being that becomes my lifetime's gift of a womb. I get to re-womb myself over and over and over and over again." We can get very body conscious because the body is the place where we feel, it's a simple kind of complex enclosed structure and so many of us derive healing when we remember like, "Oh, I'm a body, but I have this resource to stretch into."

Gabrielli LaChiara: I really believe that we fall in love, and some of the distortions that happen that are so beautiful are the fantasies that somehow you're going to be my being. I'm going to get in you, and you're going to provide all those things that are going to make me feel safe. So we step into this paradigm of falling in love, and we feel so much essence in that, and it's this powerful feeling. For some of us, we get lost in that because we get so lost in the being that we don't recognize that the human that we're with as a person doesn't actually match anything that makes us safe in life. [chuckle] It's like, the facts of the two bodies, and we need both things in a relationship. We need two bodies that, when they're together, have similar enough values and structures and habits that we actually can be safe in the human complex, but yet, very simple structure. Then we need two essences or beings that can merge and harmonize and create a pulse of energy and spirit to derive from that feeds beyond that factual form. Right?

Neil Sattin: Mm-hmm.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Energizing is about really bringing alive the beingness of one another. For me, what that does over time is that you live it, and you get to see more clearly like, "Well, who are we as these little factual human structures? Can we be safe in human form? Can we be beings that can be that aware and that connected to one another?" So that's what you brought in for me is just this whole, "If I don't need to wait... " It's like, "If I don't put on my partner the responsibility of being every parent that I didn't have, or fixing everything that ever happened to me, or somehow being God for me really, saving me in some way, then how do I have a relationship with someone where we can equally hold the potency of each of our essences and also have ourselves?" It's like, "How do I do my own work in that?" So if I am the center of an infinite being, and I can derive all my needs from that being, what is the purpose of relationship?

Gabrielli LaChiara: So I think there's a real confusion in our culture about why we're doing love and falling in love in and of itself has a sense that it rescues us from something or saves us. Look at all the movies. It's like you get fixed, as if you become whole because of someone else. That's really unfair. We torture each other with that. So how do two people harmonize into a dynamic where the dichotomy of being human and being powerful beings can allow us to see clearly what safety looks like and what our real needs are, right?

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. And can we be developing the inner safety? I love that image of us, our energetic being creating the womb for our body to keep growing and being nurtured. So how do we do that over and over again to create safety for ourselves? And then how do we bring that with integrity to our partnership and our relationship?

Gabrielli LaChiara: Right. Right. And what does it look like when you're both seeing the factual body? So this is where I love the blend of what this tool has done for me, and sort of where it meets infinity. Because what I see when we energize is that we fact-find the body. That's the body experience, body consciousness. I'm fact-finding the human. I see you in realtime on earth in a body, and then I imbue it with essence, which is all beingness. I also see your being, and your body is an expression of that being all the time, 100% of the time. So to me, energizing was a platform for so much healthy embodiment and communion between beings and bodies. I see you as a whole body with this being, this essence and energy that, again, never gets broken, so it's always there no matter who your partner is. For those of us who fell in love, and this was me, I fell in love with potential, I went all being and I couldn't see the facts of the body. The person wasn't healthy for me as a physical form on earth, but I loved their essence, right?

Neil Sattin: Mm-hmm.

Gabrielli LaChiara: And some people love someone's body, but their essence is totally not matching anything, or they're not even, maybe the person doesn't even want that or have that. They're not even attending to it. So we get lost in that paradigm, but what if we could have both? What if we could have both? And what if we become the vehicle for each other? In my partnership of almost 14 years, I feel like that's what we've done. We're like the vehicle for each other to remember who we are in all these levels that we're still energizing all the time and we've lived through a fair share of different kinds of things, things that have happened in our families and traumas. It's like, the bounce back is so strong because that's the human life being lived, but almost like we created a being that is our relationship all by itself. Our beings are harmonized in support of each other. I always, always see the best in him in terms of... I don't think he's trying to hurt me. If I'm getting hurt, something's happening. That doesn't mean I can't ask for change. But I don't believe as a person he's wanting to take me down, right?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. So with that, I'm wondering if there's an invocation or a clearing that comes to you as a way to maybe create an offering for everyone listening, whether they're in relationship or single, but that helps them experience what we're talking about?

Gabrielli LaChiara: If anybody's listening to this call, they're in relationship. We're never not in relationship, and we always get to do the work of relationship, whether we're sharing our bodies with someone else or not. So the first thing I would say is, what does it take to honor that relationship isn't just the one beloved I choose to be sexual with, but it's... Or however many, we share in that way. But that relationship is an inside job that's happening. We're in relation to the world all the time, and this relationship, first and primary to my body and my own being becomes a relationship I get to have with this... Can I allow my divine essence and my own higher self nurture the parts of me that are still just human and hurt and in pain and struggling and walking and breathing?

Gabrielli LaChiara: So I guess I would, from that perspective, I would just invite that, and if there's... There's a whole body of knowledge about infinity that I'm not going to get into, but I will invite that if you're willing, whoever you are, and you're listening, and you would like to breathe the possibility that more awareness of the complexity of who you are as a body and a being would be a guiding force to showing up in relationships for to bring a beloved in or to be in the ones you have, that we can clear anything that blocks you from choosing, choosing to energize yourself first. So what does it take to know that as a body you're the center of an infinite being? And that all awareness, intuition, guidance, perception is yours to have and that you get to liberate anything anybody's ever told you about yourself, and you get to know, feel, perceive and receive you for who you are right now in this moment.

Gabrielli LaChiara: The facts of you're listening to a call because you choose to, because something was important to you. The fact that you're still listening to the call. [chuckle] Or again, or again. And breathing in the gratitude to yourself for choosing you, even if it's on behalf of choosing someone else. We will clear anything just energetically that blocks you from seeing, then feeling that grace and activate change, and generate healing. And immediately, we can take a breathe together, and exhale fully. What does it take to be willing to be wrong? Means like, "What if we didn't live relationships just based on who's right or wrong, and we actually could live in the essence together?" That's what comes up for me. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Amazing. Thank you and thank you for listening to another episode of Relationship Alive. If you are interested in downloading the transcript for this episode, you can visit, and you can also text the word "PASSION" to the number 33444, and follow the instructions, and we can send you a link to the transcript for this episode. If you want to find out more about Gabrielli and her work, which has been so powerful and helpful for me and Chloe, both in our own lives and in our relationship together, you can visit I think that covers everything. So Gabrielli LaChiara, thank you so much for being here with us and sharing your techniques and your strategies as well as your wisdom and insight around how we function as humans in relationship and what's possible for us.

Gabrielli LaChiara: Thank you, Neil. It's so lovely to be here, and thank you for being here and listening.