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: February, 2018
Feb 28, 2018

When you start a relationship, something special becomes possible, something unique that the world has never known before. However - how do you figure out what that “something special” is? And how can your love be a vehicle for actually helping us evolve? This episode is an invitation to you to step into an experience of “shared consciousness” - what happens when you’re able to explore the space created between you and another person. Our guest is Patricia Albere, founder of the Evolutionary Collective and author of Evolutionary Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Mutual Awakening. Patricia has been guiding others on this path for years, exploring the edges of how consciousness shifts when two (or more) people step into it together. In her book, and in this episode, we talk about the practical aspects of her work - how it translates into higher levels of connectedness, personal growth, healing, feeling supported, and supporting others. And we also talk about some of the fundamental principles that are required when you want to explore and experiment with your partner (or others in your life who are up for the journey).

Here is a link to the first appearance of Patricia Albere on Relationship Alive: Episode 6 - How to Deepen Intimacy through Shared Consciousness.

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


Check out Patricia Albere's website

Read Patricia’s new book, Evolutionary Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Mutual Awakening

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Patricia Albere

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


Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. What we're trying to do with this show is create a change in culture, and for the purposes of our conversation here, most of that change has to do with how we relate to our partners, our lovers, our spouses, our boyfriends and girlfriends and other friends. That's the foundation of the conversation that we're having here, and we're part of a larger conversation about how we relate to each other in the world in general.

Neil Sattin: In order to talk more about that and where our relatedness is going, how to take conventional relationships and actually turn them into something that's deeper, more fulfilling, more enlivening, and part of the evolution of our species and our culture, I brought in someone really special who was here in the early days of the podcast. Her name is Patricia Albere and she is here on the heels of releasing her new book, Evolutionary Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Mutual Awakening.

Neil Sattin: She was on Relationship Alive way back in episode six, and if you're interested in hearing that episode you can go to and that will take you there so you can hear what we talked about the first time she was on the show. We may take a moment this time around to talk a little bit about mutual awakening and how to do it, which is something that we talked about back then, but otherwise we are going to dive even more deeply into the skills of relatedness and how to create something even more amazing as you explore the shared consciousness created between you and your partner, or you and someone else with whom you feel that spark of an evolutionary relationship. We're going to talk about what that means in just a moment.

Neil Sattin: If you are interested in downloading the transcript and action guide for this episode, you can do that at, that's the name Patricia and the number 2, or as always, you can text the word PASSION to the number 33444 and follow the instructions, and that will get you all the information that you need. Okay, I think that's it for now. Patricia Albere, thank you so much for joining us again here today on Relationship Alive.

Patricia Albere: I am just smiling, I'm just so happy to be with you and to be able to have another conversation about something that we're both passionate about.

Neil Sattin: Yes. I don't want to set an unrealistic expectation but I will say that after our last conversation, I just remember this so clearly. I got off Skype and I went and found Chloe, my wife, and I was just like, "That was probably the most powerful conversation I've had up until that point." You know, it was just so expansive and it's such a treat to be able to have you back here today.

Patricia Albere: Thank you.

Neil Sattin: The title of your book, it's called Evolutionary Relationships, and I don't think we can really talk about the practice of mutual awakening and all of the activating principles - we will hopefully cover some of those on today's conversation - without talking about what you even mean about evolutionary relationship. How is that different than the kind of relationships that we're used to having and why is it so important?

Patricia Albere: Great question. Evolutionary relationship, you can approach it from a couple of different angles. One is evolutionary. We are lucky enough as human beings to be conscious of the fact that evolution exists, that we're actually headed somewhere. For thousands of years no one had that concept at all. I mean basically we were just on the planet, we were living, we were doing whatever we were doing, and for the most part time and the movement of time was very ... It looked like things weren't even changing. Like most people's children did the same thing they did.

Patricia Albere: If you think of thousands and thousands of years, the sense of no change was pretty strong. For us, we are now living at a time where the quality of change and how everything is moving is so crazily intense. Every day scientists are discovering things, there's technology. I mean it's like the newness of what is occurring and how we are hooking up and even consciousness itself is evolving, that to be connected to the fact that your relationships too are evolving, love is evolving.

Patricia Albere: We think love is just some eternal expression between human beings that has been the same forever, and actually love itself is evolving. For relationships, the evolutionary quality of relationships, I talked about in the first chapter, first or second chapter, I can't remember, talking about Maslow's hierarchy. If you look at relationships from Maslow's hierarchy of needs, some relationships, none of it is bad or good, it's just different. You can have a romantic or a marriage type relationship where in a way it's at the basic needs of Maslow at the bottom, it turns into logistics.

Patricia Albere: Sex is kind of very basic, you have a home together, you take care of things, you get food, you have meals, you get a new car, there can be a quality where much of the relationship starts getting devoted to just the survival needs of what it means to live together. Just even saying that sometimes you're like, "Ooh". You can feel when your relationship is sort of slipped into, that that becomes the dominant.

Patricia Albere: Even if you're doing it at a high level of going on vacations and getting another fabulous car, or something else, it becomes kind of on a survival level and the relatedness is not very awake and expanded, and there aren't tons of potentials that are going to show up between you.

Patricia Albere: Next level up you would move into safety and security. Most people navigate that in their relationships to feel safe, safe psychologically and physically with each other, and secure and able to trust. Next level up is belonging, a sense of being loved. Some relationships never get beyond sort of like third level up which is just that just to be loved and to feel like you have a sense of belonging, you belong to one another, is the scope and the territory of the level of relatedness which is also important and wonderful, but it isn't on the edge of evolution.

Patricia Albere: Evolution is always pushing into the newness into what's possible for human beings. An evolutionary relationship is like where our human potentials and possibilities are evolving into, moving into. As you move up the scale, I went through the whole thing, but on that higher levels, there's the two higher levels, one is called actualization. You can be with a partner where you experience empowering one another to really actualize your potentials to both be successful in the world, to make a difference or whatever it is that you have a value for in that way, and to love each other from more of a place of abundance rather than need.

Patricia Albere: Instead of just "I need this" or "I need a relationship for the various things", you start to feel like an overflow, like you actually have a lot to give and you can give to one another.

Neil Sattin: Right. In our first conversation we talked about how in that kind of relationship you can even be taking a stand for each other, like, "I'm taking a stand for you being the best you could possibly be."

Patricia Albere: Yes, definitely. I think a lot of the current things, you know, the courses and conversations, and the things that you can do are very much about empowering that sense of actualization where you have two independent human beings who are self-authoring. They're trying to really fulfill themselves, their higher purpose, their sense of self, their interior sense of self, and that you have two people loving each other from being more actualized whether it's in the world or also in your own consciousness and development.

Patricia Albere: The evolutionary relationship is taking it a step further which is something that not everybody needs to do but some of us need to. If evolution is going to continue to move, the thing that is worth knowing is that it isn't just about relationship, evolution itself is happening through human consciousness and human relationship at this point. We aren't creating new creatures, in fact we're eliminating many of them.

Patricia Albere: Evolution isn't fooling around with "how do we have new species", where it's interested, where the push is in the entire movement of billions of years of evolution is human consciousness is where it's happening. Where it's happening in human consciousness is no longer with just people's individual consciousness, that's been being worked with for the last few thousand years. Individual enlightenment, personal transformation, individual salvation through like religion and stuff has been -

Neil Sattin: Right, that's old news.

Patricia Albere: Kind of. The way I see it, that's been going on. We've been doing that for a few thousand years, somewhat, I guess okay, and we're failing in a lot of it, but that's not new. Science is pointing to that we're not separate objects, that actually the only thing that's real is exchanging. There's no there there, there's no atom. We think there's little billiard balls that we're made of. When they go down to the root of the root of what's there, they don't find anything, what they find is exchange. These little balls of exchanging energies. If you want to translate that, that is relating. What that is, is relationship and relating.

Patricia Albere: Ultimately, all there is, is relating on the most fundamental levels, and the way that humans can begin to push the consciousness, awaken to and begin to be a part of, being able to manage the kind of consciousness that we need to start to get access to, kind of like atomic fusion, is what is the space between us, what is actually happening in the space between humans and how can we lean into and become awake to, and sensitive to reality together.

Neil Sattin: I'm curious to know a couple of things, one is do you recall when you first became aware that that was what was happening? That there was this space between a shared consciousness that was where evolution was taking us. Was there like an "aha" moment for you around that?

Patricia Albere: Yes. I didn't know about the evolutionary part until later, but my path has always been I'm like taken into experiences and then 10 years later I understand what happened. I guess I'm mystic at heart, I'm willing to not know. I'm sure I probably shared a bit of it on the first conversation that we had, but it happened in a relationship. There was a man named Peter who was a beautiful German mystic, and we fell in love and came together. His obsession for awakening and for enlightenment was from the moment he woke up all the way through his sleep. He never was interested in anything other than that and he never stopped paying attention to awakening, to consciousness, to being fully present in every moment. He was pretty obsessed.

Patricia Albere: For me, I had had a background of working with thousands of people and I think my heart, my ability to love was very developed. I had a childhood that ... A great mom. My heart was very available. When we came together and I am convinced that he is my twin soul, it was one of those things that you couldn't not recognize and you couldn't not be in. The magnet that pulls us together was not ... There was no choice, it was choiceless.

Patricia Albere: Our being together, what happened was was as we said yes to one another and we were so focused on each other and the space that was happening between us, and with his meditative consciousness and my capacity and attunement to love and the energies and what's going on there, and then just the way we felt about each other, we were so made one, and 24/7 we were always aware of what was happening. There was never a moment where he was unaware of what was happening with me, what was happening with us and vice versa. We never were separate, we never went in to like, "I'm just me over here, and he is just him over there, and I don't really know what's going on."

Patricia Albere: Most relationships, if people look are pretty separate. There's times of relating, it's always sort of there, but a lot of the time we're functioning on two separate tracks a lot. Especially in that actualized level, you're very focused on your own separate track even though you love each other and you're supporting each other. This was being what I call interpenetrated, like we were completely inside each other and inside of this relatedness that we were together.

Patricia Albere: I had four years of that before he was in a car accident, and he was brain injured, then eventually he died. I was in something where we were opening and being taken somewhere. Evolution was definitely having a field day with us. I felt it, I felt like I'd look at him sometimes like we'd make love or something would happen and I would look at him and I'd go, "Oh my god." I felt like love itself had just gone some place where it had never been before.

Patricia Albere: Sometimes it felt more like it was just beautiful, and full and amazing, but there were times where I could actually feel the newness of existence finding new pathways because we were so available. Just like if you were two great tennis players, like if you're two genius tennis players, sometimes tennis goes some place where tennis has never been before. It was pretty exciting to have that in the level of relatedness.

Patricia Albere: For me when I later found out many years later about evolution and about the edge of evolution, and about consciousness, I could see that what I had experienced with him was part of the future of where we were headed. Where not just couples were headed, but that the multiple beloved. There is a way to be connected that has that mystical dimension, that has our divinity being evoked as much as even more than just our humanity and our limitations. That's pretty exciting.

Neil Sattin: Yes. When I hear that what I am brought to is thinking about the capacity that we have to experience the miracle of life, the blessing of interrelatedness to bring that into even just our simple day-to-day interactions which brings a quality of aliveness that once you experience it I think it's challenging to be like, "Yeah, I'm just gonna go back to paying the bills and pretending this doesn't exist."

Patricia Albere: It's true. There's even a more, to me, kind of exciting opportunity in all of it for those of us who are drawn to love, drawn to pay attention to relatedness as you are, as we are, and I'm sure the people that are obviously listening to this. The thing that's so exciting that I didn't know when I was with Peter was the quality of the consciousness that we were developing was different than nondual consciousness. Those people who have done a lot of meditation and a lot of work in nondual quality of consciousness which is usually what people consider being enlightened or awake.

Patricia Albere: It's completely different than that. There's actually a new kind of consciousness that's absolutely enlightened but it's not that. When they do brain studies they can actually see that when you're meditating which is by yourself with your eyes closed in silence, you are learning how to let go of thinking, you're learning how to move into a certain state where they find that the mind when they measure it, you're letting go of your particular relationship to the world. You go into a deep state of relaxation and the brain goes into a certain place.

Patricia Albere: When you're doing the kind of practices that we're doing, that I'm practicing and working with people where it's like super focus with the other, with the space between, your brain goes into this amazingly other place, it ignites different lobes and parietal. I don't remember the names of all of it but it activates your brain in such a way that it goes into a place of flow, it goes into a place of like joy and positive love, like different kinds of experiences and energies that lift people. Lift their mood and lift their stabilization there, and it also allows them to be incredibly engaged in the world.

Patricia Albere: Like you're in contact with this kind of intimacy, and love and care for the trees, for your kids. The feeling of intimacy, like everything is touching everything, like you feel like you're inside your cat when your petting their fur, like you're both the fur and the cat. It makes sense because ultimately with love or lovers, people that have studied tantra, you experience your lover, you're like inside them experiencing their experience, your experience and then something else simultaneously. This consciousness is that.

Patricia Albere: I think it's way more attuned to eyes open, moving around in this world, and it is what is necessary. It's a kind of flow state rather than just being in yourself, focused on your higher purpose, focused on how you feel, grounded in your body. All of that is good but it's so separate, and it's not like, "You know, as long I am completely focused on my own subjective experience, and how I feel, and how I'm moving, and what I want and where I'm headed and all the rest of it", I'm not all of that related.

Patricia Albere: That makes a certain kind of flow not possible, it also makes the fact that 7.5 billion people right now moving towards 10 billion in 2050, to me, evolution is not that interested in everyone individually really knowing themselves only, it's not going to really work.

Neil Sattin: It's going to be a lot of life coaches.

Patricia Albere: Oh my god, we're going to have a problem. We need to learn how to be like those sports teams, and the people that, well we see them become like one organism, and then spectacularly empowered to be individuals within it. Like the way basketball team that's really got that oneness, all the team members are like knocking it out of the park but they're not operating individually, there's this oneness of the way that they're flowing and moving together that's tastable. My work is about ... We've hacked into how do you bring people into that level of consciousness and relatedness without having to have like a basketball or a violin.

Neil Sattin: There are two places I want to go right now, one is giving you listening a taste of what we're talking about, like how this actually happens, and then there's the question that's in my mind around like how do you know if a certain person that you're interacting with, how do you know if this evolutionary potential is there between the two of you?

Patricia Albere: Interesting. The first thing would be, as we've talked about, people can download a couple of chapters of the book in You personally need to first go, "What is she talking about? And who am I in relationship to this?" If it starts to make more and more sense, if you feel like you're a candidate or maybe you're quoted for this edge of evolution, to understand more about it and to begin to experience it for yourself.

Patricia Albere: There are ways that we take people into the practice. There are certain practices like meditation that give you a very powerful experience of being in this consciousness with another human being who's also interested in being the consciousness with you, because you need two people that are mutually interested which is one of the great things and it's one of the problems because you can't do it by yourself. You can't just do it with anybody. If you have somebody sitting across from you who's kind of going, "I don't really wanna do this and I don't really wanna be here", it's not going to work.

Patricia Albere: The first thing is find out for yourself, then from there ... You read the book together, you could start to do the practices, you could then begin to invite someone into like, "Would you be willing to experiment with me and see, and see what happens for us?", like you and your wife, and start to see if something begins to open in a way that is compelling for both of you.

Neil Sattin: Actually you were just mentioning talking about the brain activity that might be involved in this kinds of practice. We just released an interview with Alex Katehakis who, she focuses mainly on addiction, and sex, and love addiction, and the power of relatedness in healing the pathways that went offline and that created an opportunity for addiction to emerge in a person. I can imagine this practice will have an enormous healing potential for connection, like if you're in a place that feels really disconnected from your partner if you can invite them into it in a way where they feel like, "Yeah, I'm willing to give that a whirl."

Neil Sattin: The kind of presence with each other that we're talking about, and we'll get a little bit more into that I think, offers a healing experience when you're bringing those parts of your brain back online. This is total speculation, but it must be that when you set up that kind of resonance that's what allows this shared consciousness to happen.

Patricia Albere: Yes, definitely. It was so amazing. I just came from teaching for like almost eight days or nine days which isn't usual, I mean normally I have some breaks in between. We have the people that are very, very interested in what can happen between people who are really inside this way of practicing and want to work together instead on their personal work. We have 100 people who are doing these kinds of practices with each other and just spent five days together in a retreat.

Patricia Albere: They're practicing all year long and we meet a couple of times a year, so we're building this quality of the beloved, of this amazing ridiculous-like levels of our nervous systems getting hooked up. What you're saying is, like the people that understand attachment theory and the various kinds of ways in which people develop, this is first of all like when people are inside of something that's large like that and the level of connectedness is so absolute, the pathways around not having had healthy attachment, and not being able to trust, and not being able to relax literally start getting handled without even paying attention to it.

Patricia Albere: So you're not actually processing that stuff, you're actually in a larger nervous system that's already stabilizing and harmonizing and regulating you which is crazy powerful as far as healing people. We're not doing it for that reason but that is happening. The other thing ... One of the most exciting things that's happened at least up until this week, the group is from all over, everybody came. There are people from Japan, and Australia, and Europe, and New York, and Vermont, and California.

Patricia Albere: We were all together and we've all been working together for anywhere as from one to eight years, there are people that have been in that. What started to happen, we were all together is you know how like when you're working with someone, and consciousness-wise, they can all of a sudden shift their consciousness and become totally silent or totally focused, or they could drop into a certain kind of depth reliably? You can just point the there and they go, "Whop", and they kind of go there.

Patricia Albere: Our collective being, because it actually feels like something that's bigger than us, literally has new skills. It was amazing. We could be in this powerful sense of unification, and focus and depth of love, and then if I said something you could tell if somebody started to think, there was a tiny bit of fragmentation, I could just point to it and it would just be like, "Woo."

Patricia Albere: The level of unity. One of the women shared this morning, we had a call earlier, she said she's always felt like a little bit afraid to speak up for herself in certain situations that are challenging. She always thought she should and blah, blah, blah, and she said there is something that is so powerfully in her now that she can't not. Almost like something was, some strength was placed - in her level of not being alone, her level of this consciousness connection that we have, she's standing on something that she never stood on before and it's changing her behavior. Which is kind of cool!

Neil Sattin: Yes, very cool. Bringing that back to the context of romantic relationship, it's very common that the battles that emerge are around actually fighting for connection, fighting to prove that you're not alone, and it can feel like you're really alone. Again, I can just imagine how creating a backdrop of connectedness has such a powerful impact on the level of trust in relationship as one example.

Patricia Albere: Yes. Part of what the practices are, I mean there is a main one but there are some different things, is where you learn to make the connection is not on the surface, it's not on the personality level, it's not even on that subtle connection level where you're feeling your heart, and there's like a deeper place that people usually are trained to connect from. We're actually moving it from the subtle to this causal dimension which is the deepest origination point of that particular human being and yourself.

Patricia Albere: When I can work with people I can get them to drop into this place, and from that place you're not solid. You're like this opening of who you are that's very particular but it's not a solid object, it's like what the scientists are saying - you're like this space of potential as Neil. When you and I connect from that deepest opening that you are, and you can see into the deepest place of where I am, and we literally start to connect from there, two spaces could connect, two fragrances can connect, two stones can't. Things that are solid can't actually interpenetrate.

Patricia Albere: When you start to build that level of the we, like you literally become a new kind of wine. Your grape and my grape, we become Merlot. When you're deepening and deepening into that, now does it mean that your personality and the crazy things that drive each other crazy go away? No. We still have separatenesses that are still going to operate but we have that to ... That becomes louder and louder and a place to return to and stand on. So that when you're dealing with the things that are different and challenging, you don't lose each other, you do it from being connected instead of separate.

Patricia Albere: Most arguments are completely separate. That's why people love having fights and making love because when you make love and you all of a sudden go, "Oh, it's you, it's me. You know, I remember you. You know, you don't look like the evil guy who's making me crazy." You go back to that place where the real connection is, and we have a very sophisticated but powerful way to just have humans find that, nurture that, deepen that because that's also where divinity arises from.

Patricia Albere: We include our human limitations and failings, but there's some source that I know Peter and I found where I felt myself as more beautiful, and more powerful. It was like I was almost witnessing her as he was. It was like some way of me being myself that I had never experienced nor had I ever been received in that way. My work is really devoted to deepening that for people, exploring that not as a spiritual bypass kind of thing but as making that louder and louder, and clearer, and more rich and substantial so that the other levels of us are kind of put more in their place. They're not everything.

Neil Sattin: Yes. We have had Jett Psaris on the show, one of the authors of Undefended Love, I'm not sure if her conversation will have aired by the time. We may do this one first. One of the places that she comes from, I'm not sure if you're familiar with her work at all is basically getting couples to the place where they're able to be totally open and vulnerable with each other.

Neil Sattin: When we're young we start out from a place like that and then we end up suffering some wound or something happens that creates a crack in the veneer of everything being one and perfect which gives us a really hard emotional internal experience. From that our personality emerges which she talks about as basically all of our ego structures that are about protecting us from the experience, from what we're afraid will happen if we're that vulnerable again.

Neil Sattin: Her practice is a lot about going inwards when you feel that fear happening, that closing happening. I love that this is almost like the equal and opposite approach to very similar way of getting at the essential self. Like what is there beneath the veneer of personality.

Patricia Albere: Yes. It's interesting because as you're speaking I'm realizing the direct access to the core which actually is findable  - interestingly -  I don't know why but it's almost like giving people ... Like if you're doing remote viewing and you give them coordinates. The coordinate of finding this deepest place in oneself is actually findable even though people think they can't, they find it.

Neil Sattin: Is that something we could talk about now?

Patricia Albere: I'm just saying when you find that and you deepen into that then when stuff comes up there's a way in the way that we practice where we turn towards whatever is there together. If I'm feeling defended, I'm feeling hard like cardboard, and I'm sensing into like the phenomenological reality of feeling separate. That would happen with Peter, sometimes we'd go, "Wow, it feels really flat." We'd go, "Yeah, it does, doesn't it?" we were like kids, like we were so curious about whatever was there, we didn't have like a certain kind of preference that it had to be always profound or deep.

Patricia Albere: Whatever was there, we were like we wanted to be close to that, and we wanted to be close together with it. When you turn that way towards whatever is there even if it's a weird defensive thing, it seems to unravel, it tends to show itself without you trying to do anything, and it tends to, in my experience, the power of things dissolving in the face of "the two" being with it instead of it's just my process and and it's my stuff. It's exciting because it moves very quickly and it feels different when you're not just by yourself working on your stuff.

Neil Sattin: Yes. It feels to me like there's alchemy in the space.

Patricia Albere: Yes, that's a good way of saying it, interesting. Yes, definitely. Part of what I'm excited about too, I mean I've worked for 40 years with people with their individual work, and I love people, and I've always been committed to people being able to express their highest, deepest selves and why they're here. For the people who are able to not make it all about them and want to explore the edges of where evolutionary relationships could go and what's possible together, what I find is that the kind of activation and healing, and empowering people to move forward is just a hundred times more powerful, and it makes sense.

Patricia Albere: If I was creating the universe, instead of having everybody selfishly working on themselves individually forever as the fastest mode, that wouldn't make sense. It makes sense that if we somehow find a way to come together that everything goes faster, that we're rewarded for that makes sense to me.

Neil Sattin: Yes.

Patricia Albere: It's more efficient, it's kind of like I can't build a house by myself, if we're like a hundred people we can do it.

Neil Sattin: Honestly, I'm also thinking about the power, like in the power of relatedness. I was just reading a book by Deborah Tannen about friendships among women, and it was talking about this girl who, she was on the autism spectrum, and seemingly incurable and getting worse. No amount of therapy, no amount of intervention from a teacher, like nothing was helping, and then she made a friend who actually accepted her. I think they connected around horses or something like that, and did this amazing turnaround where she went from being completely shut down to being open, socially engaged.

Neil Sattin: It was like the power of healing that was there in the relatedness versus trying to fix something, or cure something.

Patricia Albere: That's so beautiful. Here's another thing I'll throw in that you'll probably appreciate. I don't know if everyone will appreciate this. In this evolutionary piece, when you think about evolution there are jumps to evolution. We went from nothing to matter, so there was geosphere, there was just this dead planet here, and then from a dead planet life showed up which is kind of crazy, like how did that happen. There are jumps that just are completely miraculous. From dead matter to life, and then from life, from single celled creatures, we have Einstein, we have geniuses and human beings, and plants, and birds and everything come to life, and then humans with consciousness which is just a miracle.

Patricia Albere: From humans, we have what he calls the thinking layer. Teilhard de Chardin called that the noosphere , he said we go from the biosphere which is life and human life, to the thinking layer which is the noosphere which is all of culture, and language, and art, and philosophy, and psychology, everything that you're talking about on your show, and love. All of that he called the noosphere, and you can see it in the internet, you can see the physicality of this noosphere, hooking up, hooking up, hooking up, so that we have omnsicience. We can know anything anytime, we can contact each other.

Patricia Albere: If the aliens land outside my house like in the next five minutes, if I captured it on my phone, the whole world will know in about 10 minutes. If it was real, but it was compelling enough, billions of people would be focused on the same image and the same words in a heartbeat. It is unbelievable. That didn't even exist 10 years ago, and we are hooking up, hooking up, hooking up, right? People have it on their phones.

Patricia Albere: The noosphere was the next layer that evolution was innovating and is obviously pretty excited about. The next one is what I'm going to call the spondic sphere. Spondic love, the term is this experience of I am, may you be. In the way that we practice there's this experience of love, and when you love someone, it comes from some place that's deeper than your personality loving them. There's almost like this cosmic energy that wants to just go, "Ha, I want you to have everything. You know, like I love you, I love you." You just want to imbue them with everything. We feel that for our children. Sometimes our heart bursts into this kind of empowerment that is deeper than just human love.

Patricia Albere: You can feel it when you're on the other end of spondic love, it is palpable, you actually feel like part of your life just got made because this person loves you from a place that they're in and for you in a way that's real. This mutual spondic love which is also part of the consciousness that we're working with and the consciousness that I think is next, I think that the next place of innovation will be that kind of love where we, instead of being separate, instead of not being even neutral towards each other and just surviving on our own, or competing or actively using each other and stomping on each other.

Patricia Albere: This spondic quality of love and connectivity will be the foundation for a ridiculous amount of miracles, innovation, creativity, coming together, working together, doing things that can't be done, et cetera, et cetera, that's going to be the next explosion of where evolution is going to be working.

Neil Sattin: I'm going to ask a hard question here which is what's the place of monogamous relationships in the birthing of this interconnectedness and this evolutionary consciousness.

Patricia Albere: I think when you are in fact with your twin soul, it doesn't happen a lot, but when it happens, there is nowhere to go, there really isn't. Even if they ended up marrying someone else they are yours. You are so one and there is nowhere you want to be. The kind of sexuality, the kind of love and the depth that's shared, there's no desire for anyone else because the newness of love, and the depth, and the profundity of what's there is just crazy unfolding between you. You'd have to be crazy to want to actually go and try to be with someone that you didn't have that with. Maybe you eat the best food in the world and then you decide to go have a-

Neil Sattin: Have a burger.

Patricia Albere: McDonald's hamburger. I don't know why did I even want to do that.

Neil Sattin: It's just interesting because it sounds like the experience, because we're talking about being able to evoke this kind of consciousness in an exercise with a partner, and yet it is creating the experience of deep, deep love and interconnectedness.

Patricia Albere: There is still a discernment. The thing that I find with the groups of people is, what happens is because everyone is so starving for being seen for any kind of real depth and relatedness, the moment someone sees you deeply you think you want to have sex with them or that you love them. It's so pathetic, I mean we're so starving as humans, and it's nobody's fault. We live in a world of separation. People don't look at each other, we literally live in so much separation and isolation that we don't even realize that it doesn't have to be normal.

Patricia Albere: What happen is is like in the people that I'm working with intensively, I remember two people and they're both married to other people, they did a practice and they went somewhere, and they both came out and you look at them and you were like, "Whoa, what just happened?" They've gone to a level of love and depth that they didn't ever even experience with their partners.

Patricia Albere: Initially they were kind of like, "I don't know, you know, what do I do with that?" It was a man and a woman, and I just said keep allowing it, keep holding, and then more of that started to happen in the group. Part of what comes through then as you begin to create these deeper connections and you're being so nourished and so seen and you realize how abundant that is, you can then bring that to your partner. You don't have to go being, what do they call it, polyamorous.

Patricia Albere: Polyamory is a lot of work, to try to juggle. You have to have no life I think. To navigate one relationship is hard enough as you know, if you're trying to navigate with depth, and with openness, and transparency and honesty, two relationships or more, that takes a ridiculous amount of real energy and work. I respect it, I think that there is some newness, something that's opening there and people are learning and growing within that, so I'm not condemning that, I'm just saying I don't think that ultimately that's where we're headed, not at all. Because you can experience profound connection without having to have sex with everybody.

Neil Sattin: Thank you.

Patricia Albere: You're welcome.

Neil Sattin: This really makes me want to dive in to some of your activating principles.

Neil Sattin: Great. Patricia, like I mentioned in our first episode together, we talked about the mutual awakening practice. Could you give us just a quick like 30 second rundown. If you're going to try it with your partner, this is how you try it. Then we can talk about some of the principles that make it so unique in terms of your approach and how to really deepen in that experience.

Patricia Albere: I honestly, I can't do a 10-minute version of how to do it, I can't because it wouldn't really help and if people tried to do it from there it wouldn't work anyway. You need to know enough of where to come from, you need to take the time because otherwise ... People do it from the superficial level of self, it's pointless, it wouldn't do anything. Again, if they just go to and they at least download the first three chapters that will start them on their way. If they listen to the other interview that we did that will help as well. If they're genuinely curious, they're going to need to invest some time and energy in actually discovering what this is and how it works for real.

Patricia Albere: The activating principles which are in the book, the chapters in the book are basically mostly dedicated to not only how to do it but then how do you turn it on, how do you continue ... If you were to do it with your wife you would start to learn how to do it and then you could take a chapter and work with that for awhile to open it, to make it even more full, and to continue to work through the pieces.

Patricia Albere: One of them is engagement. It's simple but when your turns towards each other, to really recognize how fully engaged are you and how much more can you open and give yourself into the connection. If people just think about that for a moment, the next time they listen to their small engaged are you? Are you just sort of passively listening, being polite, being a good parent and hoping that it won't take too long, or do you actually go over where their enthusiasm is, get inside their little six-year-old consciousness, try to really enter into them and engage fully in what it is that they're actually experiencing? That's one of them.

Patricia Albere: In life, you don't have to know how the practice works, to just pay attention to the engagement not as someone as separate but can you get inside them, can you be inside their world and then connect. That turns something on. When people are, when you're inside their world with them and then getting engaged, something happens that's different than if you're just listening from over where you are.

Neil Sattin: Can you talk about how that interacts with the next activating principle of commitment in terms of your committedness to staying inside as you work through whatever comes up.

Patricia Albere: That's a little bit bigger. If you created an evolutionary relationship, if you are practicing with each other, if you're entering into this interpenetrated consciousness, consciousness where instead of ... Most people have a subjective experience where "I feel this", and if I'm vulnerable I'll let you in on how I feel, I'll share it with you and you compassionately listen and usually relate to it from yourself - from the way you feel like that - which is still we're very separate.

Patricia Albere: Interpenetrating is where you learn how to place your consciousness. This is like against all the boundary stuff, but you actually go inside and you feel the other as they feel themselves. You feel me as I actually feel myself. There's a way that I guide people into how do you actually do that. When that level of relatedness is being developed and built, from there and from a commitment to each other, then the committed-ness make sense.

Patricia Albere: Like if something happens or if you do something that's driving me crazy, instead of me working it out in my head by myself and then announcing to you how I'm going to deal with it, or announcing to you that I'm leaving you, I'll let you know what I worked out for myself. I stay inside with you and I share with you, and we kind of go in together into what the resistance is, what the concern is. We do it from being inside the commitment to each other, and to the relationship, and to the experience that's actually there. I don't do it as a separate something. Does that makes sense to you?

Neil Sattin: Yes. What you're committing to is that you're involved in a process that you're co-creating, and so the act of going off on your own to figure something out is a step away from what could emerge if you gave that thing to the process that you're in.

Patricia Albere: Yes, right, and that we'll share it. It doesn't mean anyone is going to be perfect, it doesn't mean that we won't disturb each other in different ways, but that we bring it forth, and we bring it in, and we bring it towards, instead of that it's a function of separation. When you have that spondic relationship too, when you activate that in and for each other, that also makes it a lot safer.

Neil Sattin: Then you can actually be invested in the truth without it being something that's about separating.

Patricia Albere: Yes, totally.

Neil Sattin: Obviously we won't have time to talk about this whole topic but I didn't want to end this conversation without being able to talk for a moment about trust. I love the way that you articulate the different levels of trust. The level that you call basic trust, how that feeds into the way that we trust each other, and then the generative trust that leads to your trust growing and the expectation of it being potentially a little messy that's included there.

Neil Sattin: I'm wondering of you could just explain, because I think what would really be helpful for our listeners is if they could come away from this with a sense of what basic trust is, and then let's see where that takes us as we wrap up this conversation.

Patricia Albere: You keep asking me for the one-minute version of something that takes like-

Neil Sattin: I'm bad, I know I'm so bad.

Patricia Albere: The basic trust is obviously - there's one of the chapters that goes through that, relative trust and generative trust. There's a course that I have online that's in evergreen that people can buy that has two whole sessions dedicated to the basic trust part. To do the very simple version is basic trust is something that we have when we're born, until it's disturbed there's this sense of being connected to the flow of life where we feel like ... It's without thought, it's like things are going to work out.

Patricia Albere: If you get fed, you get off, you get a little frustrated and you get fed, and somebody picks you up. Different things are happening without too much frustration, you tend to grow up to be a human being who has some sense of being relaxed in life. Even if something is hard that's happening, you kind of sense that it's going to work out or you're going to figure out a way through it.

Patricia Albere: The people that have basic trust interfered with, they constantly are not getting what they need, they tense up and their egos are wired to try to make it all happen themselves. Ultimately, when basic trust is restored, you relax and life unfolds. Actually, faith, true faith, the kind that saints have, is basic trust restored, and that's full relaxation. You actually feel utterly okay being in the world that even when things don't go well.

Patricia Albere: It's unbelievably important, it shapes your relationship to absolutely everything, and it's one of those concepts that when you find out about it and you begin to work with it, it can change your whole life. It's super important. Obviously with the hundred people, that is what is partly being restored.

Neil Sattin: Right. That feeds into, if you can operate from that place then it makes that that much easier to have relative trust which you talk about as the way that two people learn to trust each other based on their agreements, and their humility, and their expectations. Again in your book, Evolutionary Relationships, it's such a compelling read because for one thing, it's not like an entire book about trust, but it also distills it in such a way that I think makes it really real and practical for you to examine.

Neil Sattin: This is an area like for instance, "my relationship has tons of trust based on our commitment, but we don't actually have the capacity to communicate in order to keep our trust intact", and so we have to increase our capacities. I love how you do that. What I love too is how it evolves to this generative trust and I think this is one of the hardest things in relationship because people expect like, "Oh, we're going for it and we're really deep and we're connecting, and we're interpenetrating with each other, then all of our problems are gonna go away."

Patricia Albere: Yes, not so.

Neil Sattin: How did that emerge for you, that concept of generative trust and why that's so important.

Patricia Albere: Having worked with people forever and just having been in relationship, I mean the clarity around that was just given. Because you have to manage all of it. The relative trust is also important. If you have somebody who never keeps their word no matter how deep the connection is, you're not going to trust them and you shouldn't because they're not trustable.

Neil Sattin: Right, or if they don't have the humility to be open to influence.

Patricia Albere: Absolutely. People have to also take responsibility for having character, and I think that in some of the post-modern work everybody's working and dealing with their limitations. We get to a point where we just assume everyone is doing the best they can, and people are following the flow. They are following their subjective experience individually, but they're not taking responsibility for being related and actually showing up and having character, and dealing with the impact of a certain lack of integrity in certain ways. That definitely gets addressed in the book.

Neil Sattin: Yes. It's funny that there are people like Dale Carnegie who write on and on, and on about how to become trustworthy, how to be someone that other people will turn to for influence. You sum it up pretty well in one chapter.

Patricia Albere: Cool, thanks.

Neil Sattin: Well, Patricia Albere, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today on Relationship Alive to dive more deeply into the question of what makes an evolutionary relationship, what's possible. Again, you can visit her website, where you can download the first three chapters of Patricia's book, Evolutionary Relationships, and also find out more about her work and her trainings. We will have links to Patricia's book and website in the detailed transcript and action guide for this episode which you can get at, or you can text the work PASSION to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Neil Sattin: Like I said, our first episode together, episode six, we do talk a little bit more about the actual mutual awakening process and I encourage you to check out that episode that we did together as well. In the mean time, thank you so much for joining us, Patricia. Is there anything else? Maybe you could just mention you do in person intensives where people can come and learn this.

Patricia Albere: Yes. People that are intrigued by the possibility of being with a cohort of other human beings that are really interested in this quality of relationship, there will be a three-day in New York in April, the 13th through the 15th, we only do those twice a year, it's kind of special. If they sign up for the book, they'll have access to knowing what's happening and then people can, from the menu of what's there, see if something serves them. Thank you and thank you Neil, you do such a good job with this and with bringing just a myriad of ways to empower people with relatedness which I really respect.

Neil Sattin: Thank you, I appreciate your saying that.


Check out Patricia Albere's website

Read Patricia’s new book, Evolutionary Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Mutual Awakening

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Patricia Albere

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



Feb 20, 2018

Does Valentine's Day create pressure, or problems, for you? How do you get past the expectation and celebrate love - in your own way - without falling victim to the cliché? And also - on a separate but equally important note - how do you handle uncertainty, in your life, and in your relationship? In today's episode we're going to cover strategies for successfully navigating Valentine's Day whether you're single or in a relationship - and we're also going to reveal our top 3 ways to deal with uncertainty, and transform it into something positive. Plus Neil Sattin reveals a bonus "4th way" to use uncertainty in your relationship to create connection with your partner.


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

Support the podcast (or text "SUPPORT" to 33444)

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Feb 14, 2018

How do you build an indestructible relationship? It’s all about how you welcome the challenges, magnify the good times, and build a web of support. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, though - because the way to do those things wasn’t something that you were taught in school. In today’s episode, we welcome Jayson Gaddis, fellow relationship coach, founder of the Relationship School, and host of The Smart Couple podcast. Jayson shares some of his favorite relationship recipes, so that you can not only collect the right ingredients for your relationship, but also learn the unique way to cook them up into something that will serve your relationship for years to come. We also talk about Jayson’s new book, The Smart Couple Quote Book: Radically Simple Ways to Avoid Pointless Fights, Have Better Sex, and Build an Indestructible Partnership. It’s a far-ranging conversation to explore how to work smarter in support of an amazing relationship.

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

Sponsors: - YogaGlo is an affordable way to do yoga, or meditate, with the guidance of a world-class instructor. They have classes for you no matter what level you’re at. And you can do it whenever is convenient for you, wherever you are, with your computer or smartphone! YogaGlo is offering two free weeks to try out their service for Relationship Alive listeners. Visit to get your first two weeks free, and experience Yogaglo for yourself!


Check out Jayson Gaddis's website

Read Jayson’s new book, The Smart Couple Quote Book: Radically Simple Ways to Avoid Pointless Fights, Have Better Sex, and Build an Indestructible Partnership

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jayson Gaddis

Amazing intro/outro music (not including the Namaste chant) graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out


Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. How do you take on your relationship in an intelligent way? How do you show up in a way that brings learning and growing to the forefront of what you do with your partner? And I guess another way of saying this is how do you avoid doing stupid shit that just perpetuates old patterns and old heartbreak and heartache, and instead show up for this dance of relationship in a way that welcomes every part of your experience, whether it's the amazing joy that a relationship can bring, or the painful moments that relationship can bring? In the words of today's guest, "There's only one place to work out our relationship issues, in relationship," and to talk about this, I have with us today a very special treat, a fellow podcast host and relationship coach, the founder of the Relationship School and the Smart Couple podcast. His name is Jayson Gaddis, and if you haven't checked out his show already, I definitely recommend that you do.

Neil Sattin: His is a great blend of what we know about neuroscience, what we know about psychology, what we know about personal growth. In many ways, a lot like what we're trying to do here on Relationship Alive, but as you'll see, he has his own perspective, and that's something that I really appreciate is being able to bring different points of view onto the show, and I'm making an assumption here because I feel like I know enough about Jayson to really appreciate the work that he's doing in the world, and I want you to be able to hear from him as well, and maybe we'll find out where we are aligned and where we are different in today's episode.

Neil Sattin: Jayson's just come out with a book called the Smart Couple Quote Book: Radically Simple Ways to Avoid Pointless Fights, Have Better Sex, and Build an Indestructible Partnership. What could be better than that? In this book, he shares quotes from his own writing as well as some of the people who have been guests on his podcast, but it's mostly his own work, and it is the perfect kind of coffee table book or bedside book where you can pick something up, open to a random page, get an amazing piece of wisdom, and have something to reflect on or to chat about with your partner. We'll get a chance to dive deep today with Jayson Gaddis. In the meantime, if you want to download a detailed transcript and guide for this episode, you can visit, or you can always text the word "passion" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions, and I will send you a link to that guide and transcript.

Neil Sattin: I think that's all the business to cover. Jayson Gaddis, thank you so much for being with us today on Relationship Alive.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah, Neil. I'm really honored to be here, man. Thanks for having me.

Neil Sattin: I think what I'd love to start with is to get your perspective. I feel like there should be a warmup question here, but what's calling to me right now from having read through your book, is your view of pain in relationship, and so many people, of course, come to our podcasts and our work as coaches because they're in pain, and they feel like pain is the problem, and I'm wondering if you have a perspective on pain that helps mine it for the golden opportunity that pain often brings.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. I love pain. I don't like feeling it, but I love it because it's always what ignites transformation in me, and it's often what I see brings people to the path and to a better result in their life, so I'm a big fan of pain. I definitely don't enjoy the crunchiness of it in an argument with my wife, and I know intellectually, and this holds me through it, that on the other side of this painful experience, we're going to be better off, so I'm a big fan of helping people embrace pain as a doorway, as a gateway, and as a path to greater fulfillment, really.

Neil Sattin: When someone comes to you and says, "I'm in a ton of pain in my relationship," where do you start with that person? Congratulations?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. It's kind of like, "Congratulations. Welcome and I'm glad for you that pain's brought you to your knees enough that you're willing to learn something new here, because clearly how you're doing it is not working," and they would probably tell me that themselves, but I might reflect something like that back if they were a little stuck in their victim seat, which we get stuck in, and I'd say, "Great. Let's zero in on what the pain is and how is it, how did it come to be, and what are you responsible for in that? Let's change it. Let's do something about it."

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and one thing that I've loved about your work and my experience of it is this feeling that I've had that you're not afraid to tell it like it is. You don't really pull your punches, and I'm thinking about your course, not that I've taken it, but I've actually attended a webinar of yours, that I think was meant to promote your End Your Struggle with Him course, so I'm curious, could you just offer, tell us a little bit about, what is that course all about, End Your Struggle with Him, and just my observation in listening to you from the very beginning was, "Yeah, this is a guy who isn't afraid to tell it like it is, and to encourage you to tell it like it is for yourself, to be in your truth."

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. Exactly. Thanks for understanding that. Yeah. End Your Struggle with Him is really part of my own journey with my wife and women in general, where it's a course designed to help women who are struggling with emotionally unavailable men. That's pretty common out there. It's a pretty common complaint. A guy has shut down or he's pulling away in some degree, and this was basically me for 10 years in all the relationships I had prior to meeting my wife, I was that guy that if you were dating me, after a couple of months, I would eventually start to close up and not reveal who I am, and little did I know at the time, but fear was really running the show for me, but I would typically blame the woman. "You're too needy. You're too emotional. You're not this enough. You're not that enough," not necessarily outwardly, but in my mind, and then I would try to find a way to leave that relationship.

Jayson Gaddis: There's guys like this everywhere, and to be in a relationship with a guy like this is really frustrating, so I created a course for women on how to deal with the former me, and what they can do to either change it or move on, because there's a good man in that guy, like every man, I believe in his heart, is a good human being, but it's covered over with a lot of defenses and hurts and injuries that have him behaving in the way he is, and I help women understand that type of man, what they can do to enroll him in a good relationship, and if he's not willing, then how to move on.

Neil Sattin: What are some of the initial steps, not that you have to go through your entire course content here, but if that lights me up, I just heard that and I'm like, "Yeah, my dude is totally shut down. I keep asking him to show up with me or to understand me, but he's not interested in anything. He's not interested in therapy. He's just happy just the way things are even though I'm miserable," where does that person start?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. One of the first places to start is just to assess the situation and take a giant step back, so I always encourage women to hit the pause button on their reactivity and the way they've been approaching it, which is typically to pursue, so a guy starts to pull away, and this is true, as you know, in any relationship dynamic. If there's a distancer, then it awakens this pursuer part of us that feels anxious about being rejected or left, and so we pursue the person that's going away, like, "Hey, can we talk? What's wrong with you? Where are you going?" Which only serves to drive that person farther away, especially if we're coming from an anxious place. It usually doesn't work or work out well for us, so I just say step one is pause.

Jayson Gaddis: Pause on that approach. Take a giant step back, and then I might offer some journaling exercises and see how long it takes for this guy to notice that you've stopped your habitual pattern of pursuing him, and if he doesn't notice and it goes days or weeks, that's really good information. Wouldn't you want to know that? Sometimes he notices. He's like, "Hey, what's wrong? Where are you? How come you're not returning my calls?" That's step one is just stop, take a breath, and assess.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. Maybe down the road of that journey that someone might go through, because this is a very common question that comes my way as well, which is, "I feel like I've done everything. I feel like I've tried everything. I feel like I'm taking responsibility for my stuff. I've figured out how I used to try to invite my partner in and I see that it wasn't very inviting, and now I think I'm doing a better job of that, and yet I'm still bumping up against the wall all the time. How do I know when it's time to just find someone better?" Do you have a bellwether that you offer people, because it's a challenging choice, and obviously we choose to be with people not because they're stubborn or shut down. There was something that drew us to that person.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. That's right. How do we know when it's time to move on, is essentially the question, is that right?

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. It's an important question and I think it's really different for everyone. We each have our own threshold, and it's actually amazing how much some of us will tolerate in this type of relationship, in terms of not being met emotionally, for example. People will go years, decades, and my first question back to them is what are you getting out of that? Just a psychoanalysis type question of, "Well, you're clearly getting something out of that or you would've left already," and often people offer simplistic advice to these types of women, if we're talking about the male/female dynamic here, and it can be like, "God, just move on. He's not treating you well. Just get out of there," and it's a lot more complicated as you know than that. Usually we're getting something of out it. It's working for us in some miserable sort of way, and we're playing something out from our childhood.

Jayson Gaddis: The women that I notice actually have success here and do end up moving on in a good way and attracting a more qualified partner down the road is they use it as an opportunity to heal something from their past, often with their father, often they grew up with an emotionally unavailable dad, a dad who was working all the time, and they had to pursue his love, and pursue connection with him to get acknowledgement, and then they play that out in their adult life and it's really painful, so I have women examine their past, and the women that do, Neil, come out and they do some work around it, and then it's like, "Okay. I get it. I get why I'm doing this, and there's more choice." With more awareness comes more choice so, "Now I have the space and breathing room to go, 'I don't want to play it this way anymore,'" and there's a level of confidence that comes with having done a little bit of work there and then they're more ready to move on, especially if their guy is not budging.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and I think that's true whether you're a woman or a man in relationship that if you're in that place of feeling like, "I just couldn't leave this person," then that indicates there's some work to be done there, and I was even hearing in what you just described, like when you got to that point of, "Yeah, you do that work and then you're actually in choice," for me, I felt this huge sense of relief, like, "Oh yeah, of course, then you're at a place where you can make the best choice for you. You're in your discernment, not letting fear run the show."

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. Well said.

Neil Sattin: I'm trying to figure out where I want to go right now, and you have such a vast degree of expertise in the realm of relationship that it's hard to know, because your book covers so many different aspects and your work covers so many different aspects. For you, where is the place that joy resides, and I think a lot of people come to us in pain as we were talking about earlier, but the flip side is, do you have ways that you encourage people to magnify what's good in their relationship and the ways that times that aren't painful actually foster growth as well?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. I think that's an important question because so many of us tend to focus on what's wrong. We grew up in families always looking for the threat, so then we play life that way, and that's how we're wired, we're wired for threat, and we're more wired for threat than we are for love, so your normal listener, if you're always looking for that thing that you want to pick on in yourself or someone else, that's really normal and it can be a little unattractive to be around, especially if it comes out as a complaint and you're complaining about yourself or the other person a lot. That's not sexy and there's not a lot of joy in that.

Jayson Gaddis: However, if you're on the personal growth path and you're looking for opportunities to grow and learn more about yourself, that is sexy and there is a lot of joy in that, and that's where I find the juice - I'm like just a hungry beast when it comes to my own issues and other people's, and I like to really wrestle with the hard questions. For whatever reason, that's where I find a lot of joy is in the journey and in the hero's journey of dealing with complicated dynamics, relationally, as well as just in life, so I think everybody has their own joy spot, what brings you joy, and how can we bring more joy into this relationship, but I will say, I guess one more thing here, is that in my experience, joy is best when it's earned, and a lot of people want ... We get entitled around love and we think our partner should just ... Can't we just focus on the good stuff? Can't we just be upbeat and positive right now? Life is so hard. I want my relationship to be joyful.

Jayson Gaddis: Great. You can have that, but you got to earn it. It's not given to you and you need to learn how to work through the struggle so you can earn a sense of joy and fulfillment that's really beautiful, and that's to me, where the kind of joy I love to feel and want in my life. Whenever joy or some easeful thing is handed to me, I tend to squander it anyway, and then it goes away quick. It's like dopamine. It's like, "That feels good," but then it's gone and now we're back to the struggle. I encourage couples to embrace the struggle because you're going to actually get more joy that way.

Neil Sattin: That brings me back to what we were talking about in terms of telling it like it is, and there's a graceful way to tell it like it is and be in your truth, and there are some less elegant ways, and maybe part of the learning and growth is occasionally stumbling through those less elegant ways, but I'm wondering for you, what are some ways to approach, if I'm getting in touch with my truth about something, whether it's the amount of sex we're having in our relationship or prioritizing our couple time versus time with the kids or what's happening with us financially, and there's something really stirring inside me, and maybe I even talk to friends and I'm like, "This is my truth," and I'm just looking for the courage to bring that to my relationship. How would you work with someone in that place to help them be as generative as possible in how they bring their truth to their partner?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. I would say bring your vulnerability first, and that would look like, "Hey, honey, I'm really scared to talk to you about this. I've been sitting with something for awhile now and I want to have a conversation about our finances or our sex life, and I'm really nervous, and yeah, I just wanted to say that because I don't know how else to bring it to you, but I'm bringing it to you now," so if we lead with vulnerability, it can be disarming, granted, that can also trigger someone into, "Uh-oh." An, "Oh, shit," kind of response where they're maybe already on the defensive, but it tends to go better in my experience than if I just blast my partner with my truth like, "Hey, here it is." And it's like, "Whoa, where did that come from? It's out of the blue," and it's a little jarring.

Jayson Gaddis: That tends to not go well. I think it goes better, but again, not the fantasy that it's going to be easeful and perfect, but it's better when we're vulnerable first, and I know if you brought that to me or my wife brought that to me or a friend brought that to me, it's like, "Thanks." It does something to me. There's a relaxation quality of you went first and now I get to go second and I can bring my vulnerability too.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. One thing that you mentioned in one of your passages in the Smart Couple Quote Book was the way that when you're in a conversation with your partner, to do your best to focus on either being the one who's doing the understanding, like really trying to get your partner, or if you really want to be understood, to rest there and try to anchor yourself in that desire for your partner to actually hear you, and that bumps up against what you were just talking about, which is even when you bring your vulnerability, that in and of itself could trigger your partner.

Neil Sattin: And I think you talk about this as well, that once one person is triggered, whether it's something cosmic or your mirror neurons, you're in that dance of mutual triggered-ness there, so the question that comes up for me here for you is around that dance of anchoring yourself, and then also being able to stay meta, like, "Oh, look, I'm noticing you're getting really triggered now and I'm getting really triggered now, and I really want you to understand me before we move on to the next part of this conversation." What's the balance there for you in terms of just being in the trigger and staying rooted in, "I really want you to understand me here," versus, "Time out. Here we are in our state of being triggered. Let's do something about that."

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. There's, of course, lots of different ways to approach this. We can go top down or bottom up if we keep it simple here. Top down is, "Whoa, I'm being triggered. I'm aware of that. You're triggered. Let's take a break, honey. Let's come back when we're both a little more resourced." We go self-regulate, we come back and talk about it. A bottom up approach would be I stay and I breathe and I stop talking and I slowly move towards you, and I do my best to sense and perceive the threat response as I move towards you, and I want to come in as a calming person, even if I'm a little activated, I can still move towards you in a nonthreatening way, and I can do that with a tone of voice that just says I'm right here, I care about working through this with you, and my body is sending the message that I'm safe to be around.

Jayson Gaddis: And I might even put my hand on your leg or just be in proximity, 10 feet away, not directly facing you because that's too threatening, so I might turn my body a little bit, and I just plant myself as a gesture of kindness, and I'm speaking to the scared animal now inside of you, and letting you know that it's okay. I don't like what's going on but I'm committed to staying in the room, and I want to work on this with you. Those might be two different ways to come at it, and as one of my mentors said, Bruce Tift, have you interviewed Bruce yet?

Neil Sattin: No, not yet.

Jayson Gaddis: Okay. You should interview this guy. He was awesome. Years ago, he was a professor in my grad school program and he was like, "It's pretty simple," which you've probably heard before, which is the most mature person in any given moment, or the most resourced person in any given moment needs to take the lead on the repair. If there's been a rupture, it's like, "We're both triggered, but the least triggered of us needs to take the lead here," so sometimes that can be pretty predictable who that role is in the relationship, and other times it's dynamic and changes every fight we have, but I just thought that was a good rule of thumb.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That feels really true to my experience too, that there are times when I'm that person and definitely times when my wife, Chloe, is the person who's staring at me and my trigger and either finding a way to laugh or to get back to safety or whatever, whatever it is that helps initiate that process.

Jayson Gaddis: Yep.

Neil Sattin: When I was reading your book, I had this thought about how we do have this fantasy of you meet someone, you get all the hits of dopamine and endorphins and you're in the honey moon stage, and the idea that there's some way to perpetuate that and live in this state of bliss, and one thing that you comment on time and time again in your book is, "No, the journey here is the way that we experience conflict and welcome conflict and get to the other side of that as a growth experience," and you just mentioned the hero's journey and that was actually what came up for me. How boring would any of our myths be if there were no obstacle to overcome? Which isn't about manufacturing obstacles, like let there be easefulness in your relationship, but I think if our innate human truth was just everything is going to be bliss and everyone's going to always get along and there's no reason to grow, then we wouldn't have the art, the mythology, the stories, the things that actually compel us, which also seem to be wired into as well.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. I'm with you and that's why I encourage people not to make their past or their parents wrong, because what you went through was the initiation, if you will, into who you are, and all the scars you have, especially if you make meaning out of them, can be real assets in your life, and then you get to help other people with those challenges later on.

Neil Sattin: Is there a point where you feel like people are just dealing with an issue in the present, versus having something from the past that's being triggered up and rippling back into something that happened in their childhood?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. It's pretty rare. I want to say yes, but my experience shows me it's most often ... There's two things going on there. There's the neuroception stuff that you understand from Porges's work where you walk into a room and you're just having a bad day for whatever reason, and your facial expression sends a threat signal to my body. Now I'm triggered and it has nothing to do with my past. It's just the animal inside of me is looking for threat all the time, and it just saw a facial expression that looked threatening, so I reacted, and it may have absolutely nothing to do with my dad or my mom, so I think those are the moments certainly that it's just like, "Oh, we're now in something and we don't even know what happened and it doesn't feel tied to our past at all." I think that's where I would say yes to that.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That being said, most of the time, we are getting hooked into some really deep experience that was imprinted on us, perhaps even before we knew how to talk about it or knew what was happening with our parents.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. Exactly. You may see this with your kids. I watched this with my kids, that they're sensitive little kids, and they have a very secure attachment, and I feel like a pretty clean life in terms of big relational injuries, there's been a few, but overall it's pretty amazing, what we've been able to create, and I don't have a fantasy that's going to last. They're going to get hurt naturally in life, of course, year after year, which will shape them, but it's interesting to see in a pretty secure, really secure attached home, that their threat responses and alarm bells still go off as they should when they perceive threat, and it doesn't have something to do with their past, like my daughter will walk into a park or a room and all of a sudden she's hesitating, and it's because she's picking up on some vibe in the room that doesn't feel good to her. I think that's helpful for me to see because then it goes, "Right, it doesn't always have to do with her past."

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and you're making me think also at this moment about Peter Levine's work and the way that with kids, he's working to help them develop a language of sensation in their body, with that language being tied into the more primitive parts of their brain that are fully online, versus the still-developing prefrontal cortex that really isn't fully developed until we're in our 20s, and so I'm just thinking about with my kids, of course they're on the edge of being triggered all the time because the parts of their brain that would help them actually regulate and come back into balance don't even exist, or exist really incrementally as opposed to being fully there and online, which might be why we end up hearkening back to those childhood experiences so much because we're in that raw imprint stage around those more primitive parts of our brain.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah, totally. I like that, and then they're looking to you to regulate and to help them because it's not developed yet.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. How funny is that, that so much of ... I wonder if at some point our work around relationship will become moot because the co-regulation that's so deeply healing and connecting and partnership will just be natural for people, and yet I feel like in many respects, that's one of the biggest tasks that I have right now, is helping people see how when they show up in relationship and view that as their mission, that that's part of what gets them past all of these places where they bump up against each others' triggers and each others' insecurities and fears - is having that skill of co-regulation.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. I think that's definitely the frontier in the future, and yeah, it would be an amazing day when we saw that was status quo or normal, but I think we're really far from that and I think we're still pretty stuck in the anti-codependent model, which means I need to regulate myself and I'll deal with my triggers and you deal with yours, and that's still the norm. I love hearing that you're a fan of that, and I like what you said, that, "That's my mission." That's inspiring to me because it says if I'm in a relationship with you, it means that you're going to look out for me all the time around my nervous system and you're going to do what it takes to help me calm and sooth and we're going to be a team in that way together.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. How are you doing right now?

Jayson Gaddis: I'm good.

Neil Sattin: Just checking.

Jayson Gaddis: Thanks.

Neil Sattin: At the same time, you talk about, and I loved this in your book, your definition of intimacy as balancing closeness and separateness, and so here we are talking about the importance of co-regulating and how we show up for each other, and yet there's this dynamic, a dialectic at work around also needing some differentiation. I love, too, how you just brought up the anti-codependent paradigm. I know you and your wife did a talk recently out in Colorado. I think I saw that in one of your emails about codependence, and this is something that we've talked about here on the show. I'm wondering if you can offer a little bit more insight into what you're talking about, like bridging from anti-codependence into more of a healthy interdependence, or at least that's what I'm guessing you're shooting for.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. That's right. The codependency movement came out of the addiction model and Alcoholics Anonymous, which was great. It was like, "Let's focus on the system and let's focus on the person who's in relationship with the addict, and try to help them because we're so focused on the addict that we've lost this person who's an enabler. Let's deal with the enabler," and that was a good move. That part of the system is absolutely part of the problem, and those people need just as much help as the addict does, so the codependent scene was awesome in that it said, "Hey, when you're codependent this is actually not probably going to help your partner recover from an addiction," and what it basically said was they're depending on you to stay alive or stay sober or something, and so you're really hooked into being that anchor for them, and it's a one-way relationship.

Jayson Gaddis: That's how Stan Tatkin I think would define codependency, is it's a one-way track, and co-regulation on the other hand is about we're mutually going to have each others' back on regulating each other, and it's very different than a one sided, "I'll be there for you, but you're not really going to return the favor." Our talk, essentially Ellen and my talk, was essentially saying that and we were saying, back to the intimacy definition, it's like a long-term partnership is you need both independent qualities in both of you and you need to learn healthy dependency on each other. I'm so dependent on my wife in so many ways, and likewise her with me, and that doesn't have to be a problem or bad or labeled codependent or it's the boogeyman and it's going to fuck up our relationship. Dependency is necessary in a partnership over time, so we're trying to help people embrace that through more of a co-regulation model.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. You also talk about marriage as being like a business, and you better pay attention to it like a business, and suddenly I'm just thinking about how funny it would be if you formed a business with someone and then you didn't figure out how to depend on each other healthfully, that it's almost required in a business. "All right, we're going to figure out who's responsible for what, and how we can share in responsibility, and how we show up for each other." It's kind of funny. That's obvious, and then somehow you would expect your relationship to be like, "No, you do you, and I'll do me, and we should be good that way."

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. I know. I agree. That's why I like to use those kind of analogies because people, it seems foreign or something in a relationship, and then you just try to meet them where they're at with the practical examples that are going on in their life around business or finance or whatever, and it's like, "Right, we would want to be a team here."

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Could you talk a little bit about your curriculum? What's the foundation that you stand on in terms of what you see as being really crucial for people to learn in order to be in relationship well?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. There's a few different ways I can talk about that. A lot of it is ... My frame is we didn't learn formally how to do relationships, so when we don't, we're just going to fall back on the patterns in our nervous system and body and communication style that we grew up with, or we have survived our life with for how many years we've been alive, so that's okay and it gets us what we're getting, but what would happen if we formally learned and we were given a curriculum that helped us walk through how to do a partnership well, a love relationship well? So that's what the relationship school is, and it's really two elements, Neil. It's the intellectual understanding of how relationships work and then it's the practice. It's really just that.

Jayson Gaddis: The curriculum is really designed to give people the meta view of how relationships work, how to do them well, how the brain works, how the nervous system works, how to talk, how to listen, and all the skills involved in that, and then we practice because practice is really what moves the needle. I was a therapist for years and I would give people homework and they wouldn't do it, and then they went home to their isolated lives and they didn't know anyone that was talking in this way and being this authentic, and they would just not really progress very quickly.

Jayson Gaddis: And what I've found with more of a school-based learning is it attracts a more committed person that actually wants to learn and gets that in order to have a great relationship, there's some things I need to learn and actually get in my cells over time, so that's why it's a nine-month curriculum is you have to practice with people in your cohort, and by the end of the training, you know how to listen to someone in the heat of the moment, and we saw that as evidenced in our last training and it was really powerful.

Neil Sattin: From that, it sounds like that question of how you maintain your presence when the shit hits the fan, that's also something that you see as central in how we navigate the day to day of our relationships?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. Totally. One of our live weekends out here in Boulder is called Embracing Conflict, and it's really contrary to what so many of us know, which is to not have conflict. In fact, one of the kids in our high school class in Wisconsin that's taking our first curriculum, 10th graders, asked the question or said ... We were introducing the concept of embracing conflict and this young woman said, "I do conflict well because I don't get into conflict, and that's doing conflict well," and it's like, "No, that's not what we're talking about," but that's a statement about where people are at with conflict, which is the assumption that not doing conflict means you're good at conflict or that that's doing conflict well, and it's like, "No. We actually want to enter into conflict."

Jayson Gaddis: I grew up in a family where there was no conflict or very little conflict, and that was my badge of honor for years, and so any time a conflict came to my relationship, I'd cite my parents and be like, "Hey, they never had conflict. This must mean the relationship is doomed," but that just kept me at a glass ceiling that I couldn't move past because I wasn't understanding conceptually that tension is actually necessary. It's a necessary part of life and conflict will never go away, so what if we learned how to be the aikido move of how to work with it and that energy when it's coming at us and we're upset, because those people tend to be the most empowered people, relationally, that I see.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. It's like you feel it coming, and I don't want to call it a bring it on kind of moment, but it's like, "All right. I'll welcome this. How can I show up here? What do I have to learn in this moment?"

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. You got it right. Exactly. How can I show up? What can I stand to learn from this? How can I grow through this? This is hard. I also have an opportunity to lean on people and ask for help, whether it's a therapist or a coach or a friend. What an amazing opportunity versus, "Oh, shit. It's bad. It's wrong. This has got to go away."

Neil Sattin: So when, if I'm listening to us and thinking, "Well, shit. I fight with my partner all the time," how much is too much? How do I know if conflict, if we're not experiencing conflict the way that you and I are talking about right now?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. I'm glad you asked that. That's an important add-on here. I think if it's going on and on, this is where people will burn out. One of my mentors taught me this term of boredom or burn out, is usually what happens in a relationship, of people get flat and stale or they get burned out because they don't know how to work through their upsets effectively and it's grating on the nervous system after many years of not being able to resolve resentments or issues, so I always say back to that person that says, "How much is too much," is let's ask a different question. How about, "What do I still have yet to learn? What do I still need to learn to make this process more efficient for myself?" I think that is going to get you further faster than, "How much is too much?"

Jayson Gaddis: To me, there's always a solution inside myself. It may not be with the other person, but I can work through a conflict with myself, with or without them, so I need better tools probably. I need to learn from people who have this part of their life dialed and are good at it, and then I could maybe ask a similar question.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That gets me really curious. Again, something that you mention several times in Smart Couple Quote Book is the possibility that when there's something that you're judging someone for or you're dissatisfied with or you have an ongoing conflict with someone, that there's an opportunity for you to resolve that within you, and I'm wondering if there's a bit of a process there, the kinds of questions that I might ask myself that help me get at my responsibility, because that's part of what I'm hearing in that, is, "Yeah, this is the part that I'm truly, totally responsible for," knowing that at some point I'm going to reach the limit of my boundary, and there probably is at least one percent or two or maybe 30 that the other person's responsible for, and that's their deal, but I would love for you to offer some questions or insight into your process for how to mine my side of the responsibility equation.

Jayson Gaddis: Okay. Again, something I learned in gestalt therapy years ago that then was reinforced by another mentor years later was this notion of "you spot it, you got it," so whatever I'm judging out there is something disowned that I'm judging and in resistance to inside myself, so if I'm judging someone as needy, for example, they're needy and that's triggering me, and you're in a relationship with me and I'm just, "God, you're needy and it's turning me off, and I'm starting to pull away because you're so needy," I need to look at my side of that and go, "Why is the needy person, if I'm perceiving them as needy, why is that triggering me? What's going on here? Why do I let that bother me so much?"

Jayson Gaddis: Chances are I grew up with a parent or someone in my life that might have had a lot of needs that I was expected, demanded to fulfill, and it was overwhelming for me, it was traumatic for me, it was engulfing for me, it was a number of things, and so I might start to examine my past there, and then another layer is I need to start to look at, because the story I would then tell myself is I'm not needy, but then I need to go back in my life and look at all the places and times where I was needy, and up to the present moment because I'm of the view that there's no trait that isn't mine that I can't own, so I'm a liar, I'm a crook, I'm a villain, I'm an asshole, I'm a hero, I'm an amazing person, I'm a champion, I'm all of these different things.

Jayson Gaddis: I'm needy, I'm not needy, and so if I do the work to find out if that's true, chances are I'm going to get to a place of embracing my neediness, which then lends itself to me embracing your needs and you don't have to scream and yell anymore because I love you as you are. I love your needs. I love the way you express them, and now you don't have to ... It doesn't have to come out sideways or come out and be so strong because you're not trying to get me to own this part that I've disowned anymore, so that's a practical example, two specific ways of how I might take more responsibility there.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. On the flip side, I can see that also being true, the flip side being that person that we were talking about, actually right off the top of someone who's disengaged and maybe our judgment of them is that they're abandoning or they're checked out, again, I could see that being at least a way of really getting checked in with that part of you before you make any conclusions about whether that person is or isn't showing up in the relationship.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. This is where it gets really rich in terms of my growth opportunities are everywhere in an intimate partnership, and basically wherever I get triggered is probably where my work is, and there's things to learn about myself, and so I really enjoy personally that process of learning because I do take a stand for love and to me, love embraces the dark and the light, and so it's an opportunity to love more of myself, which then allows me to love more of my partner and my kids, so the responsibility path is really empowering.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That seems like an important distinction when it comes to choosing your partner or trying to invite, if you're already in relationship, invite your partner into that kind of relationship, is to be able to show up that way and to be able to encourage them to show up that way, and to notice if you're choosing someone just because you're really attracted to them, and you jumped into bed, and before you know it, there you are. Now it's six months later, you're talking about living together, but the question comes up of, "Is this person willing to step into ... " I don't know why the ring is coming up for me, because I'm not sure I like the boxing metaphor, but are they willing to be there with you in that way, whereas how many people find themselves in relationship and then down the road, months down the road, being like, "Wait a minute. This person doesn't really seem all that interested in me, or in what's in my life or what's going on with me. I guess it was fun as long as we were having sex together or going out on fun dates."

Jayson Gaddis: Right. As long as it felt good, it was cool but now it's not feeling good. That's why in Stan's book, Wired for Dating, he talks about vetting, the importance of vetting a partner, and how you should take them around to every one of your closest friends and have them meet separately without you there. I thought that was really edgy and intense, like an interview process basically to date someone, but I get what he's saying. It's so crucial to find that right sparring partner, if we're going to stick with that metaphor of you're going to get in fights. You are going to have extremely hard times. Why not do a thorough vetting process and find out if this person is going to be the kind of person, if you're out at sea on a little raft, that's actually going to do the work to help you get to safety and that's going to be a team and that's going to be an ally out there instead of a foe, where you're going to just argue with?

Jayson Gaddis: I think it's essential. People that don't do that and just get married quick and, "Hey, everything is great. Honey moon. It's awesome. Let's have kids. Let's join our finances. Let's move in together," and they make all these intense decisions, man, those people have a steep path. That's fine. They chose that. They can deal with it, but I recommend slow it down, folks. Slow it down. As I say, probably in that book too, I think I said I don't recommend marriage, really to anybody, unless you want to go all in on the work, and the work meaning facing yourself, growing and learning, learning how to do relationship well, learning how to listen well and all that stuff. It's essential.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And people, you cannot know that that's what you're showing up for and still find your way there.

Jayson Gaddis: You can. Yeah, because life will ... Back to the pain thing where we started, life will bring you some pain to get you to wake up out of a fantasy, and you can start paying attention to what needs attention, and smart people are like, "Oh my gosh. I had no idea a relationship would be tricky like this. Let's do it. Let's get our work gloves on and get in there and learn about ourselves."

Neil Sattin: Yeah. What are your thoughts on ways of spicing up your relationship, so when people are in a relationship that they feel is getting a little stale, I'm guessing that one place we might go is, "What conflicts are you avoiding?" Is one obvious place, but there's a lot of conventional wisdom that's circulating right now that has to do with doing things to up the dopamine in your relationship, and I'm just curious to know what your take is on that, as far as a sustainable approach to keeping things fun in your relationship.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. You probably know what I'm going to say here, but the only way I would recommend that, upping the dopamine, is to do some psychedelics together, and really go deep and have it facilitated. Get a facilitator and do some LSD together or some MDMA or some psilocybin and then see what you find out about each other. Great. It's not all going to be dopamine, especially if you're dealing with LSD or psilocybin. It's going to be very confronting because you're going to see parts of yourself you don't want to see, but that all of a sudden isn't boring anymore. It doesn't need to be spiced up. It's plenty spicy.

Jayson Gaddis: That's obviously an immediate hit, but most people aren't going to want to do that, so you might instead ... First of all, the view here, I like what you said, it's like we're probably avoiding something. I probably have some patterns and defenses and density inside of me that's pretty thick, because I don't think people are boring at all. I think there's always more to explore with another human being, but I would sign up for a workshop. Come out to Colorado to the Embracing Conflict week, and sign up for one of Neil's events. Sign up for a tantra weekend. Sign up for a weekend and just throw yourselves into an experience with other like-minded, like-hearted people. Take a giant risk and I guarantee you're going to come out of the weekend, if it's facilitated well by someone, a different couple, and you might come out of the weekend realizing you need to leave and separate, and that might be a win for both of you.

Jayson Gaddis: These types of experiences, I think, can be like a jolt to the system in a good way, and then certainly another low-hanging fruit would be to hire a professional to get in there with you or to go to your 10 closest friends that you call close and get feedback. "Hey, we're stuck as a couple and we're looking for some feedback. How do you see us? What do you think our strengths and weaknesses are?" And get some really vulnerable, honest assessments, and even the thought of that, is I think, exhilarating to think, "Oh, I'm going to go be that real with people." Yeah. Try it. Those kind of things would be what I would say, but certainly not recommending dopamine.

Neil Sattin: I love that last idea and I'm wondering if you have maybe an additional piece of wisdom or two around setting up that frame for your friends so that what they're offering you is truly helpful?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. Maybe setting the stage to educate your friends on where you're at, and a lot of us hide out with your friendships, and we actually don't talk about the struggle when we get together, socially, we might just go to dinner, party, or whatever, and we might talk about the struggle at work or struggle with finances, but we might not talk about the flatness or stuckness in our marriage and how to get out of it, so we could set it up to our friends by saying, "Look, I know we've been giving you the impression that we're doing well. Well, the truth is we're doing well on one level in that there's no problems here, really, but that's part of our problem. We're a little stuck and we're looking to spice things up a little bit, and we'd love our closest friends to gather either together over at our house or one on one and give us some really honest feedback, and no holding back, we can take care of ourselves," and you set it up like this so that people have a little bit of the dos and don'ts.

Jayson Gaddis: But again, we want to go to friends that are actually going to be real with us and not just tell us, "No, you guys are great. I don't know what you're complaining about. You guys are an amazing couple." We don't want that kind of feedback. we want feedback that's going to challenge us to examine ourselves more closely.

Neil Sattin: It inspires me to think about creating that kind of culture on a larger scale. That's something that Chloe and I have definitely done with our marriage in terms of enlisting the help of friends at various points along the way, something that we'll continue to do, and yeah, you highlight this really well in your book, that so often what you see on Facebook does not represent the reality of the lives that your friends have, so being able to show up with them and I think have it be really clear that this is about being in support of your relationship, and not the time probably for your friends to say, "We never really liked the two of you together anyway."

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. You get to set it up with the dos and don'ts again, right?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Right. I love that. I'm curious for you if you don't mind offering something personal, how has that shown up for you in your marriage with Ellen in terms of times that you've maybe been able to or had to enlist the help of others?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. We call it friend therapy. There's been numerous times where over the course of our relationship, we've had friends over or gone to a friend's house and just wanted reflections. There was one time I'm thinking of, for whatever reason in this moment, where we on our patio, and we had another couple over, really close friends of ours, and said, "We're stuck. We are in it. We are in some kind of dynamic and I'm pretty fused to my perspective and so is she. Can we get your guys' ... We want to talk about where we're at and give you some context and content and then just give us what you see. Where are we stuck? Where am I stuck? Where is she stuck? Help us out here."

Jayson Gaddis: It was like two hours later, we were unstuck. It was done, and we were totally moving forward and it was just extremely helpful, and then the other night recently, we had a couple friends come over and we did the same for them. They were extremely stuck and we listened and helped just offer a few reflections that changed it for them. Ellen and I, sure, you could say, "You're an expert. It's easy for you to say." Well, sometimes if you're just a good listener and you can reflect back what you're seeing, "It seems like this. Do I have it right?" That alone, just to get an outsider reflecting back what they see is extremely helpful.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That's an interesting twist on that whole process of being seen and having someone reflect things back to you because often, they can be completely accurate in what they're reflecting back. "This is what I'm hearing. Did I get it? Is there more?" The classic Imago script, and you hear all that, and you're like, "Yes, that's exactly what I said, and in hearing it reflected back to me, I realize that's not what I mean at all, or that's actually not me, or that's me being in my fear." It offers you that kind of insight even if it's a step beyond being simply seen and understood.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. I like that. I think what we're saying here to the listener is it's just an opportunity to step outside of you. It's hard to see ourselves when we're really in it, and just to get an outsider reflecting us back is immensely helpful.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. So you can encourage your friends to listen to Relationship Alive or to the Smart Couple podcast before they show up at your house to give you their reflections. Jayson, it's been such a treat to have you here on Relationship Alive. I definitely encourage you to check out Jayson's show, the Smart Couple podcast, Relationship School. Is there any preferred way that you think, Jayson, for someone to find out more about you and engage with your stuff?

Jayson Gaddis: I think just the is probably the easiest way to find out more about us and check out the podcast and what we're up to and how to get involved.

Neil Sattin: Relationship School, is that something where someone has to show up at the beginning of a semester, or is that an ongoing thing?

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah, good question. There's really three levels. We have a membership community. We meet every other Wednesday to practice skills, relationship skills, and those are live calls that are then recorded and sent out to you, and that's like $31 a month if you pay annually, and then there's the high-level program that requires a nine-month commitment, and they do start, one in January, and the next one in September, so two rolling a year, and those are a much, much bigger commitment that you do need to start at a specific time with.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. That makes sense because I'm sure your material builds on itself, so important things to know so that you can ... Yeah. It sounds like it's also the community around the process is just as important as the information that you're getting. As you said, the practice as well as the download of information. That makes sense to me.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. We don't need to struggle in isolation in our relationships. We can struggle together and learn together and grow together.

Neil Sattin: Well, Jayson, I look forward to staying in touch and keeping my eyes on your work. I really appreciate what you're bringing to the world and through your show, and the Relationship School, just such important way of helping our whole culture change and transform, so thank you for being there and for being such a bright contribution to the world in that way.

Jayson Gaddis: Yeah. You got it, Neil. Thanks again for having me, and I'm psyched to reciprocate and turn the mic over to you shortly on my podcast.

Neil Sattin: All right. I'm looking forward to that.

Jayson Gaddis: Cool.

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Check out Jayson Gaddis's website

Read Jayson’s new book, The Smart Couple Quote Book: Radically Simple Ways to Avoid Pointless Fights, Have Better Sex, and Build an Indestructible Partnership

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jayson Gaddis

Amazing intro/outro music (not including the Namaste chant) graciously provided courtesy of: The Railsplitters - Check them Out


Feb 3, 2018

How do you embody masculinity in a way that creates more connection and passion in your relationship? How do you avoid the stereotypes, while still getting the benefit of positive polarity in your relationship? Is there even a point to talking about “masculine” vs. “feminine” (and if so, what is it?)? Today’s episode is a conversation with Shana James, men’s coach and host of the Man Alive podcast. We take apart the myths of what it means to be a “real man” - and explore how you can get beyond what you’re “supposed to” be, uncover the true you, and bring all of you to your relationship. Learn how to break out of the box in a way that keeps you connected to the people who matter most.

Please enjoy this week’s episode, with Shana James, on Relationship Alive!


Here is a link to Relationship Alive episode 20, my first conversation with Shana James on Sparking Passion through Generosity and Authenticity

Visit Shana James’s website to check out the Man Alive podcast AND pick up her free guide to the Unknown Skill that helps men succeed in life, career, and relationships.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide

Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

visit to download the transcript for this episode, or text the word "PASSION" to the number 33444.


Neil Sattin: All right. Hello and welcome to another episode of ...

Shana James: Man Alive, and welcome to another episode of ...

Neil Sattin: Relationship Alive. We are your hosts ...

Shana James: Neil Sattin.

Neil Sattin: And Shana James, and we're here today to talk about some really important topics that we each wanted to cover on our respective podcasts, and so we thought, "Why not ..."

Shana James: Become each other and do it together.

Neil Sattin: Right. We will merge like you're not supposed to do, but why don't we come together and talk about it, and so we have it for each of our shows?

Shana James: I love it.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: I love it. Yeah. We've been really going back and forth around this idea of the stereotypical masculine and some frameworks out there that in some ways have been really helpful for men, and have had men step into more of their power, and confidence, and have deeper connections, and in other ways have, what might you say, pushed men into shame, and feeling wrong, and feeling they're out of one box and into another box, and feeling confined, and so really wanting to look at if we are going to take on or if men are going to take on a kind of archetype or ideas of masculinity. How can they be played with versus ... How did you say it? Versus constricting or something like that?

Neil Sattin: Constricting. Yeah. Yeah, and this question too of whenever, if you're feeling like you should be some way, whatever way that is, how's that going to impact you? How's that going to impact your relationships, and because my show, like ...

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: This is interesting because my show is all focused on relationship, and Shana, your show is called 'Man Alive', so it's all about this question of how men can step into who they are.

Shana James: Yeah. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: I was wondering before we got on, I was thinking like, "Is there a difference when ...? Is there something about men stepping into who they are where that could in and of itself get in the way in relationship?"

Shana James: Interesting, so the question being if men are themselves for lack of a more specific way to say it right now. Right? Like if a man actually discovers who he is, his own needs, his desires, his truth, that it could actually get in the way of a relationship?

Neil Sattin: That was the question.

Shana James: That's the question.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I say that because when I'm looking at a lot of ...

Shana James: Interesting.

Neil Sattin: I like the word you used, 'Framework', so I'm looking at some of the frameworks that are becoming more and more popular now as a way of I think reeling ourselves back from men and women being the same, and so trying to reclaim some of the polarity and the difference, and the beards I guess.

Shana James: Yeah. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: As I look at that, I can see that there's a lot in that that actually does help us, men ... I'm just speaking for myself here, step into more of who we are. In fact, I even grew this out a little bit for our conversation.

Shana James: "This" being "a beard" because some people are not watching this...

Neil Sattin: Right. My beard. Right. You might not be watching, so I grew my beard out. That's an important thing to note.

Shana James: Yes.

Neil Sattin: That being said, when you start talking about what's involved in people actually relating to each other, then I don't think that those answers necessarily are long-term solutions. They could provide short-term solutions, but over the-

Shana James: The answers of like, "Here's how to be a more masculine, or more of a man?"

Neil Sattin: Here's how to be more of a man. Yeah. Yeah.

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Take charge, buy a gun, grow a beard, drive your truck, and own all of the archetypal or really stereotypical manly things.

Shana James: This is so interesting because hearing you say that, I'm like, "Oh, that wasn't the frameworks I was talking about about being a man." I was thinking more of the frameworks of David Deida and some other people out there who talk about a kind of masculine power that has to do with presence and solidity that I'm getting a little tongue in cheek in the way I'm saying this, but I do think they're actually really powerful ways that a man or a woman ... I mean, we could talk about it. Right? Masculine and feminine to me doesn't mean man, woman, but yeah, so probably important that you and I get on the same page. Are we actually talking about the same frameworks or do we have different frameworks we're thinking of?

Neil Sattin: I think that's why it's so important that we have this conversation, and of course, I was being a little facetious about the gun and the pick-up truck, and the beard for that matter, and you might be able to hear there's a plow actually.

Shana James: Yeah. Yes.

Neil Sattin: I wish I were driving that plow. It feels so much more masculine as well.

Shana James: Manly than sitting here, doing a podcast.

Neil Sattin: Right. Right, or, "Why’d I get the plow? I should be out there shoveling like a real man."

Shana James: Right. The whole idea of being a real man. See, my sense-

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: Right? This is where it gets confusing. I think a lot of the frameworks out there ... My sense is that their intention in some of these more conscious realms and tantra and personal growth is to help men step away from some kind of box of, "Here's what you have to be to be a man", and yet, I think they have a negative spin sometimes where men take it on as, "Oh, now I'm supposed to do this to be a man. Right now, I'm supposed to be more present."

Neil Sattin: Right.

Shana James: "Now, I'm supposed to lead. I have to lead every action."

Neil Sattin: Exactly.

Shana James: Right?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. "I'm supposed to lead. I'm supposed to open my woman" if we're talking about a heterosexual relationship...

Shana James: If we're talking heterosexual.

Neil Sattin: Right, and there's no room for me to be uncertain or vulnerable, or weak, or ... Yeah.

Shana James: Which is so interesting because a lot of the work that I do with men is around how to be able to bring vulnerability, shame, weakness, desire, whatever our weaknesses and what I think makes me weak, but in a more powerful way, which again, I think could be confusing, but in a way, the way I describe it is like, "I have these vulnerable parts of me, and ultimately, I know I'm a good person or I'm a good man." Like, "I know there's more to me. I know that these things don't make me unlovable or unworthy, and so I can bring these forward in relationship" or in another, any kind of relationship, but let's say also romantic relationship with a partner, and not fall into, "I need you to tell me I'm okay. I need you to tell me I'm good enough. I need you to fix me or make me feel better about myself."

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. There is that sense of, how do you enter a relationship without either partner feeling like, "Wow. You're here to save me", and whatever that translates into, if it's one partner needing to be the hero of the relationship or one person needing to be the caretaker of the relationship?

Shana James: Right, and they're needing to be saved.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: Then, what is it like to come into a relationship knowing that there's potential for healing and growth without needing to fix or save each other? Right? That to me is a kind of mastery. Can we love each other through these challenging moments of vulnerability for both of us, whatever gender we are? That's one end of the spectrum.

Shana James: That to me feels a little bit more like the Yin or a certain kind of foundation of connection, and then, you also mentioned earlier, polarity. Right? Then, how do we keep that spark alive also?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and this is an important place as well because I think the reason that the more stereotypical kinds of frameworks hold so much power is if you're in a relationship where that's not happening at all, then you can hear that and feel like, "That's exactly what's missing. I need that." Whether it's, "I need to be led and opened", like, "I'm tired of making all the decisions", or, "I'm tired of your" whatever it is, or it's like, "Yeah, I need to step more into that powerful presence. For some reason, I've been scared to do that, or I've been holding back because I'm not feeling confident in expressing myself that way."

Shana James: Yeah. Right.

Neil Sattin: If that's place you're in, and then you hear someone's saying like, "Yeah. Step into your power and lead, and be opened" or whatever it is, then it can be like, "Wow. What a relief!" Like, "Yes, let's do that."

Shana James: Right. It gives permission in a way like, "Oh, I can lead and I can take charge, and I don't have to be that asshole I saw my dad be or some other men in the past who were doing it without care for other people." I've definitely seen that help men feel more empowered.

Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah, and-

Shana James: And, or, but.

Neil Sattin: It's like ... Two things come to mind. One is that it could certainly infuse some energy into a situation that that feels stale or stagnant, like where it's just you need something to get the whole thing moving, but on the flip side, there is this question, and this is something I've talked about on my show, you've probably talked about it on yours, of as soon as we're stepping into roles or scripts of how we're supposed to be, that actually can kill the things that create juice in a relationship that are about being in the moment, being spontaneous, owning who you are, which to me, doesn't have anything to do with whether my wife can hold my beard while we're having sex.

Shana James: Yeah. Right. You mean that metaphorically? What does holding your beard mean?

Neil Sattin: I was just imagining like I've grown out this big beard. I don't have a big beard like that, but it's like just saying, "Yeah", that there's a point where even if we're wearing the costume that we're supposed to be wearing, and presenting the way we're supposed to be presenting, that there's a place where that play will be satisfying, but if you watch the same play over and over and over again, it's going to get old.

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: If you're in that play over and over again, it's going to get old.

Shana James: Yeah. It's getting old, or if you're in a play, that I do believe that some fake it until you make it can actually work. Right? It can jump-start the engine let's say, or it can give us access to certain parts of us whether it's in the realm of leading or surrendering our vulnerability that we haven't had before, and it can be a tricky line. Right?

Shana James: Like, "When is it faking it until I'm making it, and when is it that I'm just continuing to fake it?", because anywhere I think where we keep doing something because we're supposed to, I mean, maybe that's the heart of it. Right? It's like, "Oh, I am supposed to do this thing", versus, "When I do it, I feel more", and this might take some describing, but like, "I feel more aligned in myself. I feel more alive. I feel more true."

Shana James: "I feel more open. I feel more joyous. I feel more vital." Right? Like, "Where is it that we put these roles in as a "supposed to" as opposed to, "I'm going to try on this role", or, "I'm going to put on a new costume and see how does it fit with me. Does it give me more access to my voice, and my truth, and my power, or does it have me feel stilted and constrained?"

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and you can come at it from the other angle too where authenticity can also be a trap.

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Perhaps you've seen this where someone feels like, "Oh, I'm just being me."

Shana James: Yes.

Neil Sattin: Like, "It's me to not take the initiative ever in bed."

Shana James: Right.

Neil Sattin: I don't know why we keep talking about bed, but let's just say-

Shana James: It's a concrete example.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Sure, and mine is right over there, so I keep looking at it, but yeah. Authenticity can also be a trap, and there's that question of, "How do you be authentic without being held back by your authenticity as its own prescription or role?"

Shana James: Right.

Neil Sattin: I'm thinking about how you and I even met.

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: I can't remember if we spoke about this in the episode that we did together for the Relationship Alive Podcast. We may have addressed it, but Shana, you were coaching for the Authentic Man Program, and I saw you in a video, and I thought, "I want to be her friend." That's like the ultra condensed version of the story, but I was in a place where I was married to my first wife, and really unhappy, and trying to figure out why I was so unhappy.

Shana James: Right.

Neil Sattin: That was how I came across Authentic Man Program.

Shana James: Right.

Neil Sattin: I was thinking about that as I was pondering this conversation that we were going to have, and thinking like, "Right. We came to know each other in this realm of not putting on anything fake, like learning how to be present, learning how to give attention in a way, where you're not losing yourself, learning how to stand in who you are."

Shana James: Yeah. Right. When I think about the Authentic Man Program and all the work I've done with men and you've done with people, I mean, I don't want to speak for you, but there is a paradox or an overlap or a something between helping, for me, helping support men to find their authenticity, and I guess I probably have a bias or a belief that authenticity is not ... What did you say? Something about like never making decisions, or like that authenticity is not a lack of energy, or a lack of life force in me.

Shana James: I think I have a bias or a belief that authenticity is a kind of fullness of life force and that that could be sadness, that could be anger, that could be joy, but that ultimately, there is this sense of, "When I check in with myself, I feel good about the choices I'm making, I have access to create what I want to create." Not that I should be creating something or you should be creating something in particular, but that I know that I can create what I want, and so if a man comes and he's ... I've often said this, like some men have more of a heart-based, and some men, there's humor, and other men, there's just intellect that is through the roof, and other men, there's more of like this mysterious quality, and I don't try to steer men toward one way or like a cookie-cutter mold, but more to find what is your unique expression.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. I appreciate that, that there's not this sense that anyone of those things is necessarily bad, though when anyone of those things is running the show, that's where you end up disconnected or you lose access to parts of you that help you connect.

Shana James: Yes. Exactly. Exactly.

Neil Sattin: We're talking about it in this realm of connection, and that's where I tend to dance is like, "Okay. If I'm coming to you and I'm ..." I mean, it's maybe a little easier when you think about like, "I'm angry", or "I'm really sad about something", but I want to even think like, "What if I were really depressed and exhausted?"

Shana James: Right.

Neil Sattin: "What if I were spent?" This is like stretching what we're talking about a little bit because that is maybe a state where you're not in your energy, in your power.

Shana James: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: How do you be authentically that while I'm depleted, but in relationship, how do you bring that so that it is a force that connects you, so even if you're depleted, you're still able to be with the person that you're with?

Shana James: I love that. Right, and then it doesn't have to be the most passionate connection or the most exciting connection in that moment, but it might be more of a tender or a quiet connection. I love what you're saying. I just had a thought, which may have flown out of my mind when you said about being depressed or ... It's like ... Right.

Shana James: How do ... Maybe there's something in here about, "I'm trying to be something so someone else will want me, or love me, or believe in me", versus, "Oh, I feel depleted right now. I feel depleted right, and I still care about you", or even in a work context. "I feel depleted right now, and I'm still here committed to getting this job done or something", but is there a way that we don't have to hide what's really going on, and at the same time, how do we bring those parts of ourselves in a way that creates more connection rather than pushes someone away? What might be the most authentic thing in that moment is, "Actually, I need some space. I need to move away from you, but I still believe we can do it in a connected way."

Neil Sattin: Yeah, which bumps right up against the men need their space kind of mentality, that that's somehow part of the masculine archetype is taking space and going into your cave to figure shit out, and if you don't, now you're what?

Shana James: Right. Right.

Neil Sattin: I don't know. You've been, you're more feminine because you want to-

Shana James: I was going to say a pussy, and I hate when people say that, but it's like I think that is this idea or ...

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: Then, in some realms where I've seen men learn, "Okay. Don't bring your struggles to a woman or to a partner", and again, I see the paradox of if we bring all of our struggles to our primary partner, I think that can create a heaviness and a feeling of like, "Oh, God." We're always going to be struggling together, but if you don't bring anything to your partner, then you don't know each other, and it's all based on this more surface experience to get there.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and you missed the opportunity of pooling your resources with your partner, and sometimes, that one of you is depleted and the other of you carries the weight, and that's not gender-dependent or spectrum-dependent, but that's-

Shana James: Right. Yeah. Right, and I-

Neil Sattin: Go ahead.

Shana James: No, no. You go.

Neil Sattin: I was just going to say, so it's a dynamic, and the question for me is, "How do you ...?"

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: When you're talking about polarity, the whole point is to create a dynamism in your connection, so how do you keep things dynamic?

Shana James: Yes.

Neil Sattin: You don't do it by necessarily being the same way all the time. That's for sure.

Shana James: Right. I like that you just went back to, "What's the point?" Right? "What's the why? What are we going for here?", versus I've learned the art of setting context for something.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: Right? Like, "I'd like to try leading you around for the next 10 minutes because I want to see what it feels like in my body to unapologetically take control while still being connected to you in your heart and what's good for you", versus a lack of context, which is just like, "I want to try taking on this role. I want to lead you around." There's a way I think when we know for ourselves why we're doing something, and when we can communicate it to others, it puts us I think in a deeper place of connection of, "Oh, now we're more on the same team, we're trying something out together, we have a sense of why we're doing what we're doing", and then I think if you have a why, there could be endless number of "hows" to get there, versus, I'm going to focus on, "What's the correct how?"

Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah.

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I like that. I like how what you're talking about sounds so collaborative because that's another relationship problem where each person feels like they're alone in their silo to try and figure out how the hell to make a change or make a difference, or like they just got to figure it out.

Shana James: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: That can sometimes really feel true when you're in relationship with someone who's a little shut-down and who doesn't want to have the conversation about like, "I don't want to be invited into leading you", or "I don't want to be invited into being led by you". That sounds scary, or, "I'm not even there."

Shana James: Right, and that could be a whole another conversation like, "What do you do?" Maybe you've probably ... I imagine you've addressed this in your podcast. What do you do when you have a partner who doesn't feel willing or isn't wanting to stretch, or grow, or expand, or change things if there's something that you're wanting? I mean, that's a whole another ball of wax we could get into.

Neil Sattin: It's one thing about I think what we were talking about before we officially started, which is conscious relationship, and how our relationships really do require something different, and this is something I think about a lot because I work with a lot of couples where one of them is in that situation, and the question does come up for me, like, "Does this mean that there are a lot of partnerships that really aren't destined to stay together because one is just going to be on a growth path, and the other one isn't and has no interest?"

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: For me, that balances out with having experienced actually that even that -  even like having a foundation of like, "Yeah. I want to be a better person" - there are times when I don't feel like changing. There are times where I'm stuck in who I am.

Shana James: Right. Right.

Neil Sattin: There are times where Chloe, my wife, where she will say, point out something that is represents an old pattern of mine, and I'm irritated, and I don't want to do anything about it, so there is space in a situation that feels hopeless if you can stay engaged, and that's really the art of what you're talking about. It's like - How do you show up even then in a way that doesn't become about, "You should be growth-oriented because otherwise, how are we going to have a conscious relationship" that doesn't become that, because now it's just become oddly confining, even though it's about growth and change?

Shana James: Yeah. Right.

Neil Sattin: I mean, at some point, you got to be able to figure out like, "All right. Are our values aligned enough that we're on this journey together, or are they not?"

Shana James: Back to values. Yeah. Yeah. I just did a conversation last week that where we got into ... Right. What are each person's values and how often people don't necessarily know their values.

Shana James: I mean, I remember doing some coaching before I got married, and we did some values conversations and where our values were differing and where they were the same and overlapped, and yeah. In some ways, we still ended up getting divorced, and we both I think are on a path of growth, but a different kind of growth, or then we had a kid and all kinds of things started to show up. I think I also want to speak a word to the complicated nature of relationships, and in our culture, it can seem like if you don't stay together with someone, it's a failure, but I'm also aware that now, we're ... I don't know. We're on a different topic in a way of conscious relationship, and what is conscious relationship, or how do we stay connected?

Shana James: How do we collaborate? How do we be on the same team? Maybe it's all still ... I think it all still is connected, but also, this idea of how to not get stuck in a stereotypical masculine role as we're becoming more conscious maybe.

Neil Sattin: Right. I think where I start to get a little nervous is where these frameworks, as you've been talking about for masculinity, where they potentially become problematic, where they're actually if you're not bringing consciousness to them, then they become the source of problems -  and I can't help but think at the moment of, "#Metoo", and just how much of that is about  - more like this shadow masculinity. Right?

Shana James: Then, it's like are we talking about like unconsciously masculine or consciously masculine, because I think the unconscious or the box of kind of cultural definition of masculine is be strong, be powerful, go after what you want, don't apologize.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Shana James: At the same time, I know a lot of men, especially men who come to me, who have had really loving women in their lives, and they've been taught to be nice, and be good, and not overstep their bounds, and be respectful, and I think it has often put men in a bind like, "Wait. I'm supposed to be strong and powerful and not admit to any weakness. Wait, but then, I'm supposed to be kind, and loving, and caring, and what the fuck do I do now, and how do I actually express myself, or how do I share my needs and desires, let alone, even get them met?", and so I think the next step ... I don't know. Maybe this is arrogant to say or too conclusive, but it feels like there's a step in masculine evolution where, and sometimes the way I talk about it is head, heart and sex or head, heart and balls balance.

Shana James: Right? This way of both heart and love and care and sexuality being the dials turned up in a way to a hundred percent. Like I don't know if I give up my heart and my care to be very powerful or sexual or confidence, and then I think men can get out in the world in a powerful way, and co-create or collaborate - versus the false power I see, which is, "I don't feel powerful, so I'm going to try and take because I think that's the only way I could get it."

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. What I like to add if this fits into people's paradigms in that "head, heart, balls" is also your connection to "spirit."

Shana James: Totally. I've been realizing that lately, that I'm like, "Oh, it's missing that fourth piece."

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and how that fuels your connection to something greater.

Shana James: Yeah. Yes.

Neil Sattin: You're being part of the whole, how we're actually connected to other beings.

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: It becomes a lot more challenging to do things that are, let's just call it since you did it earlier beautifully, the unconscious masculine. It becomes a lot more challenging to do that if you're aware, if you're conscious of "Oh, we're actually connected, so why would I do that to you?"

Shana James: Right. Right. Right.

Neil Sattin: Why would I act upon you instead of bringing some ferocity in that still is able to be WITH you?

Shana James: Right. Right, and I think some of my favorite experiences of a man's expression of power, they really come with this, there's an intensity like you said or sometimes ferocity, but sometimes just an intensity. An intensity of loving or an intensity of passion, and it's so clear to me that I'm cared about and that they want something good for me too, and yeah. I love bringing in the soul element, because in the soul, in my experience, there isn't really a masculine, feminine. It's more of this pure just being.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and it also, like as you were saying that, I started to feel like, "Right", and there's a difference between, "I'm with you so that I can get my needs met" versus, "We're together so that we can get our needs met", and how that changes the dynamic.

Shana James: Yes.

Neil Sattin: Then, it's not like you were saying earlier, it's not about taking what you need.

Shana James: Yes.

Neil Sattin: It's about, "How are we going to get this together?"

Shana James: Right, which I'm wondering, okay, if we bring that back into this stereotypical masculinization or idea of masculine, whether it's in a business context or a relationship context or a family context, when there is a sense of a man getting his own, that his own needs and desires are valuable, valued, important, and that so is "the other's" needs and desires. I just, I wonder then how that impacts, and how to move beyond like I was saying before, this conflict of, "Wait. I'm supposed to be the rock. I'm not supposed to have any vulnerability. I'm supposed to be nice and take care of others", and I do see this next stepping stone or next evolution of, "Oh, I can be powerfully grounded in myself, value myself, believe in my own self-worth, and also share I feel really vulnerable right now, and I feel moved to tears right now, or I feel really sad that there's something happening in this relationship that it's painful for me, or something I'm not getting that I don't know if I need to get it from you or not, but I'm not feeling loved, I'm not feeling affection, I'm not ..." Those things.

Shana James: Right? Can we actually come to the table and, I think express a kind of powerful vulnerability, or that vulnerability itself to me is power.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. I want your opinion on something, and at the same time, let's try to shift our conversation, if we can, to get ... let's see how practical we can get", because I don't know that this is going to be practical, but let's-

Shana James: Yeah. Okay. Let's see.

Neil Sattin: This is the question. The question is, "Why even talk about masculine and feminine?", because in my experience if two people come together and they're willing to be in who they are to be impacted by each other, to speak to that, and sometimes that "speaking" is the voice, but other times it's how you touch, how you ... It could be anything. Right? It's not just like blah, blah, "We're going to talk about it", but if two people are doing that, that's where the energy is, and it's not necessarily about leading or following.

Shana James: Being more masculine.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Exactly. It's actually about what it feels like to be more real, and we got, like I'm somehow back at that authenticity piece. It's just like be authentic with your partner, and there you are.

Shana James: Right.

Neil Sattin: You're going to find your way into masculine, feminine. I'm just looking inside, like sometimes, you might be more like the tree, or the snowflake, or the squirrel, or the bear, or-

Shana James: Or the root of the tree, or the leaves of the tree. Right.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: Right. If we actually let go of, "I'm supposed to be some way that is either feminine or masculine", would things just take shape in an easier way?

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: Then, I think the question of authenticity though can be so confusing for people because at least from my perspective, we've all been conditioned from such a young age that it's hard to know what's authentic, like what's true for us, but in the context, I found myself saying this recently, like I feel like an explorer. I love to explore dynamics and the inner world and the outer world, and, "What happens if I do this, and how will you react if I do that?" Yeah. I wonder if there's a context of play, and I don't know that I have an answer for this, but I like the idea of taking on experiments and time-bound experiments, and so for those who are in relationship, what might it be like for a day or a week to say, "You know what? I'm going to let go of any ideas of masculine, feminine, anything, and I'm just going to see what I feel moved to do."

Shana James: Some of that might be scary. Right? Some of that might feel like, "This is really awkward or uncomfortable, but I'm noticing I feel moved to cry in your arms even though I don't even know if I can, or I'm noticing I feel moved to take you into the bedroom and have my way with you", or like any of those things, man, woman, masculine, feminine aside. That could be a really interesting experiment, and the opposite could be interesting too, or opposite being like, "What if we really put attention on a masculine or a feminine dynamic, and what if we each took on the other?" I don't know that I have any concrete answers, but I think in practical terms, to become an explorer and to see what brings me more energy, and vitality, and excitement, and connection in the moment feels like an interesting way to go for me.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. There's something about when you said, "Let's each be the other."

Shana James: The other.

Neil Sattin: What that sparked in me was, "Right - That makes a ton of sense" because if I'm going to be more feminine, let's say in that context, hanging out with Chloe, then the odds are that I'm going to do it in a way that on some level, I'm looking for - that I feel is lacking. It's almost like if she were to be like, "Tell me how to be a woman. I don't really know", or, "Tell me how to be a man. I don't know what you're missing. I'm just being me."

Neil Sattin: Like, "Show me", and I could see that being valuable that there's some potential for it to feel ... Like you got to be in the spirit of play.

Shana James: Exactly. Right.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. You don't want to be in the spirit of being critical or judgmental, or, "I'm going to show you what I've been missing from you, but-"

Shana James: Right. Right. What if it's just about me? It's not about what I've been missing with us. It's more like, "Oh, do I let myself ...

Shana James: When I look at the whole spectrum of how I could express myself and what I could do and say, where are the places I'm not thinking it's okay to go? For some people, for a lot of people, that's anger. For me, I've also noticed it's joy. I hold back my joy. If someone else feels less joyful than me, I feel a little guilty feeling joy or playful, and I have seen that for other people too, so again, maybe another practical way is starting to consider, and you could do this even with a partner or a friend, like, "Where do I see you holding back from what could be called a 'Natural expression'?", and that with anger, we don't have to take our anger out on someone or blame or attack someone, but at the end of my last relationship, I had this really interesting experience where I started getting a little more frustrated, and at the end, he said something like, "I don't think you're as nice as you think you are."

Shana James: I said, "That's totally true actually. I believe you. I try to be nicer than I am, and there are things that bothered me that I don't speak to, and I try to just shove under the rug", because I'm like, "Oh, that's not a big deal." Then, it'll come back out later, but when I went to one of my teachers and I told her that, she laughed and she said, "Actually, I think you're nicer than you think you are." It was just this really brilliant counterpoint where she was pointing out like, "That in my soul, I actually am really loving", and it was my ego or my identity that started getting contracted and started reacting in certain ways, and if I throw all that away, there's this way of like, "Oh, how can I give voice to all of those parts of myself, whether it's nice or not nice, or ...?"

Shana James: You know what I mean, and play with that in the spirit of play like you said so that we have more choice, not because now, I'm supposed to be a certain way, but so that we have more choice and freedom to be who we are?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. Just to be clear, I wasn't saying that we should embody what we want in our partner. I was just postulating that.

Shana James: That that could happen.

Neil Sattin: Maybe what emerges is that because our idea of what that other is - if it's something we're wanting from our, more of from our partner, then we're going to show it in the way that we've been wanting.

Shana James: Yeah. Yes. Right. That could be very interesting.

Neil Sattin: That could go for, like you could decide, "I'm going to play in the realm of being more like a tree". Like what is it like to be the grand oak that lives for hundreds of years for the next week, and what kind of perspective does that give me if I bring that to our interactions versus like, "Yeah. I'm going to be the sapling that just grew and is new, and bendy, and playful?"

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: It's a totally different ... You can play with ... I mean, who says you have to be masculine and feminine? You could be any of these things in the spirit of trying out a new repertoire, and it's something that you can do on your own without telling your partner.

Shana James: Right. Yeah. I like that.

Neil Sattin: If they are tuned in, they might be like, "What are you doing? Why are you standing there with your arms out stretched all the time?"

Shana James: I love that. I'm just wondering too as we're wrapping up if there's anything we each feel called to say, and maybe ... I mean, I feel moved to continue exploring this and see if there are anymore practical ways to apply this because I think this has been a very, in some ways, a roundabout conversation, but I like conversations and that it brings up ... It has us question our norms and structures and ways that we've held ourselves and thought we had to be, and somehow, I just felt called to what you said of these ways we think we're supposed to be and, yeah, what it's like to actually let go of.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah.

Shana James: I'm supposed to be some way, and I could see a lot of the men I've worked with or I've had these responses of like ... I actually had a man recently say, "I let go of being ..." What did he say? "It seems like women really like me for being this kind, gentlemanly person", and he was getting really frustrated, like, "That's not all of me, and I want to have to be good to be liked", and so actually, our next week session I said, "Let's really talk about this. I think this is one of my strengths is to help men move forward and connect in relationship while feeling their own strength and their own power, and their own commitment to their desires and truth, while also being able to connect and still have their care. It's like that balance again between the sex and the heart, or the whatever that kind of passion and heart or strength and heart.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I think what could be really helpful if someone was inclined to do this, and so if you're listening and you're thinking, "How can I get more related to what these guys have been talking about?", I could see listing, "I'm supposed to..." over and over again until you're ... Set a timer for 15 minutes because the first five minutes, you'll get all those things that are obvious, and then if you keep going, you'll start to discover even more about the scripts that you're playing, and it could be, "I'm supposed to be this way or I'm supposed to not be this other way" is another one, and then-

Shana James: I love that. I just thought you and I should both do that and post ours and be vulnerable with that.

Neil Sattin: Okay. I'll do that. Then, if you're in relationship, it might be great to share that.

Shana James: Share that.

Neil Sattin: Another twist on that could be, "I think my partner wants me to be..."

Shana James: That's a great one.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Again, try to exhaust yourself in terms of what you write, so it's not just the first things that come to you.

Shana James: Yeah. Yeah. Right. It's not what you already know - then you surprise yourself.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Right. Right. Then, when you can share that with your partner, there may be things where they're like, "Oh, yeah. I actually do want more of that from you, but I'm seeing how you think you're supposed to be this way," and it becomes a great opportunity for you to be in dialogue about, and to surface the roles that you each think you're supposed to be following.

Shana James: Yes. Yes. Yes. I love that.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: Again, in service of choice more than not supposed to let go of these roles and take on some other role. Right? I think that's the endless hall of mirrors that we can get stuck in sometimes and to feel that sense of choice.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. That's an interesting one because what do you do with like you're supposed to be present?

Shana James: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Like I'm going to tell you that in terms of how I see successful relationships, if you're not willing to be present, then you're screwed, like that doesn't mean you can't-

Shana James: Right, and that doesn't mean I have to walk around a hundred percent of the time being present. I get to actually say to my partner, "Are you able to be present right now?", or, "Can we have this? When would be a good time?"

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: We do have to be willing to show up for each other I think in that way.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, so we are being a little prescriptive, but I feel like what we're being prescriptive with are with values that actually allow for a lot of flexibility.

Shana James: Yes, versus stereotyped roles and ways we're supposed to be. Maybe we jut brought it all the way back.

Neil Sattin: Yes.

Shana James: Yes. All right. I think we could do a part two and part hundred.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Shana James: I think we could keep going with this.

Neil Sattin: Probably.

Shana James: I like this, but for now, that feels like a good place to come to a completion.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Shana, it's always great to ... I'm so glad that we're friends and it's such an honor to have you back on Relationship Alive to talk about this.

Shana James: Thank you. I love that we're friends too and colleagues, and that you continue to inspire me, and we continue to talk about what it's like to be in relationships and new relationships in our later life, and to grow, and to be on this path of trying to figure out what the hell this is all about, so thank you for doing this with me.

Neil Sattin: It's so important. Yeah. Absolutely.