Info

Relationship Alive!

Neil Sattin interviews John Gottman, Sue Johnson, Harville Hendrix, Peter Levine, Stan Tatkin, Dick Schwartz, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Diana Richardson, Terry Real, Wendy Maltz - and many others - in his quest to dig deep into all the factors that keep a Relationship Alive and Thriving! Each week Neil brings you an in-depth interview with a relationship expert. Neil is an author and relationship coach who is enthusiastic and passionate about relationships and the nuts and bolts of what makes them last. You can find out more about Neil Sattin and the Relationship Alive podcast at http://www.neilsattin.com
RSS Feed
Relationship Alive!
2021
October
September
July
June
May
March
February
January


2020
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2019
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2018
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2015
December
November
October
September


All Episodes
Archives
Now displaying: 2020
Dec 20, 2020

When you want to shift something in your life, sometimes the scale of the change can seem daunting. So how do you get from point A to point B (or...point Z) in a way that's actually doable - and sustainable? It can be tempting to take drastic actions to make big changes - but you might sabotage your changes by falling into your old habits. Today we'll talk about how you can create positive changes in your relationship, or something else in your life, in a way that's practical, and relatively easy - no matter how big the change.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today's topic is going to be how we can create big changes in our lives, but in ways that are sustainable. Because if you do something big to change your life but then you just fall back into old patterns, well, you're going to get the same results you've always gotten. Do the same thing, get the same results. So how can you create a big change in a way that you're going to be able to keep going, that you're going to be able to follow through on, so that it doesn't become just some other big resolution or a promise that you make to yourself that you can't keep? That is what we are going to talk about in today's episode, and I'm going to use an example from my personal life that I've experienced over the past few months so that you can get a sense of what I'm talking about.

Neil Sattin: First, I just want to say thank you for being here with me. This wouldn't be a show without you being here with me to talk about relationship issues, and all these different facets of how to show up more fully in our lives, in our relationship with ourselves and in our relationship with the people who are most important to us. So thank you for being here with me.

Neil Sattin: Okay, I think that's it. Let's get on with the show, shall we? So when it comes to making big changes in your life, a lot of people talk about the need to take massive action. If you want radically different results, you have to do things radically differently. And on some level, that's true. And often, taking massive action can sometimes be necessary, because sometimes the changes that you want to make, if you want to, for instance, leave a relationship, those kinds of decisions and choices and actions can feel huge, and you have to do this big thing in order to create some momentum in a new direction. But it can be common for people to take a huge action, to feel all this energy and momentum, maybe you've even gone to some personal development seminar and you come back all pumped for the big things that are going to change in your life, and then day after day, week after week, you find that it's hard to maintain the big change.

Neil Sattin: And this sometimes happens. I mentioned the ending of a relationship as an example. It's a good example because sometimes, I'm sure if you haven't experienced this, you've known people who have experienced it, where they take a big action, they decide they're going to leave their relationship, they even announce it to their partner, and then it never quite happens. Or it does happen, but then somehow they end up back together again, and back in the same old patterns that they were always in, and the same old misery, and the same old reasons for not being together in the first place. So it's not all doom and gloom, fortunately, but there has to be something else to back up whatever big changes you are trying to make in your life.

Neil Sattin: And those could be big changes like ending a relationship, or it could be big changes like making your relationship better, because maybe you simply want to improve the way things are in your relationship. And this is another thing where it can be like, "Alright, we're going to have a date night every week. We're going to make sure that we take three vacations. We're going to show up every day in ways that are loving and caring." And on and on. "We're going to explore new realms of sexual ecstasy together." But then in the end comes... What is it? After the something, the laundry. Like, there's the day-to-day quality of life and how challenging it can be to sustain anything like that, even if you have the best intentions and the best desires and the most brilliant vision for how you want a thing to be.

Neil Sattin: Because the big things are inherently not sustainable, they take lots of energy, they take lots of time, they can take lots of thought and planning. Even though initially they're somewhat abrupt, if you want to keep those things going, then it requires a lot from you, and that's why it's not sustainable. And then you have this other problem, which is...

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Dec 13, 2020

Are ultimatums ever a good idea? If so - when? If not, what can you do instead? What should you do if you receive an ultimatum from your partner? And how do you undo the damage that an ultimatum can do to a relationship? In this episode, we're going to cover all the ins and outs of what to do when you come up against a dealbreaker in your relationship, and how to handle your last-ditch attempts to get things back on track.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today, we are going to cover a topic that's simple and a little bit tricky. It's the topic of ultimatums. Are they ever worth it? What's the good, what's the bad, what's the ugly when it comes to giving or receiving an ultimatum in your relationship? And are there ever circumstances where an ultimatum is the best choice? That's what we're going to cover in today's episode.

Neil Sattin: Okay, so first, what even is an ultimatum? An ultimatum typically occurs when one of you comes up against something that is a deal-breaker for you in your relationship. So, the ultimatum, it comes from the Latin "ultima," which, if I'm remembering right from my high school Latin, means "the last." So it's basically the thing... It's like the last thing, it's your last resort. And it really should be your last resort. If you find yourself giving ultimatums all the time, then that should be a major red flag for you that something is not going well in your relationship, or if you're receiving ultimatums all the time. And an ultimatum is fairly simple, it's "I want you to either do this thing, or stop doing this thing. I want some change in you, or some commitment in you," or whatever it is, "I want this from you, and if you can't give this to me, then I'm done. I'm out of the relationship." So ultimatums often come up when you are up against a deal-breaker for you.

Neil Sattin: So, an example might be that you know you really want to have children, and your partner has been kind of wishy-washy on the topic of whether or not you're going to have children. And so you might say, "I need you to decide, one way or another, if you are willing to have kids. And if you're not, then I'm done because... Not because I don't love you, but because I want to have children." So that's one example of a deal-breaker. "Decide whether or not you want to have kids, if you're a yes, great, we can keep going; if you're a no, I'm done." That's the ultimatum. Another one that you may have come across is if someone in a relationship has an addiction, like they have a drinking problem, the ultimatum might be something like, "You stop drinking, or I'm done." Right? So it's pretty simple. "You blah, blah, blah, and if you do it, awesome. We keep going. And if you don't do it, then I'm out of here."...

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Nov 21, 2020

When emotions are stuck within you - how can you use your creativity to get things moving? Sometimes the muse within you is a quiet whisper - other times screaming for your attention. Today we'll talk about how to find the voice - and what to do once you have. And, towards the end, I'll share a song with you that arrived after recording my last episode, on the process of going through a breakup and grieving. (song is at 19:20)

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today's episode is going to be a little bit different. I have a few things to share with you about how to use creativity as a way to help move through emotions, and it's something that's really served me well in the past and continues to serve me well, as you'll see momentarily, because after we talk about this topic I am going to share a song with you, a song that that just emerged this past week

Neil Sattin: Okay, so let's dive into the topic at hand, which is creativity and giving yourself permission to have a voice and to use your voice in ways that can help mobilize especially challenging emotions and bring them to the surface, express them in ways that are productive and maybe even move on or transmute those emotions along the way.

Neil Sattin: Now, the emotional content of our lives can sometimes be quite raw, and whether it's something that we ultimately want to address with another person or not, it can be helpful to spend some time with the content in order to get a different look at it, get a different perspective, allow it to move within you and also to give you more information. I believe that our emotions are there as signals to help us understand how we are processing the world around us, and so they live in us, but they're not meant to just be stuck there.

Neil Sattin: And sometimes when an emotion is just there over and over and over and over again, it's there because it requires something of us, maybe it requires a change in our lives, or maybe it's just a voice in you that needs to be heard. Now, I'll tell you that over the years, creative expression for me has been a huge way to help me deal with the things that are going on my life, and sometimes those things are happy, joyous things, and I want to find ways to celebrate even more, and sometimes those things have been painful and hard to understand, and being creative has given me the opportunity to work with those feelings to understand some of the deeper things that are going on within me that are at play, some of the different thoughts, the different inner voices that are speaking.

Neil Sattin: And giving yourself the opportunity to do that can be an immensely freeing and transformative thing. And there are any number of ways to do that, you can create something that's just for you, you can create something that you share with people who you trust and who care about you, you can create something and share it with the world, or you can create something and burn it, or forget about it, because the act of creation in and of itself is alchemy, it allows you to work with what you're experiencing and in a way to move it outside of you.

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Nov 11, 2020

When it comes to breaking up, is there a right way to do it? How long should it take for you to get over your ex? How do you know when it's time to see someone new? How do you deal with the way that your ex is handling the breakup? In this week's episode, we're going to cover what's "normal" in the breakup experience, and how to make sure that you focus on your grieving in a way that's most likely to lead to growth - so you can avoid making the same mistakes in your next relationship.

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

Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeo.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today, we're going to talk about the ending of relationships. Is there some magical mystical, right way to do that, and how long should it take to deal with the aftermath of a break-up, how long is the grieving process, and how do you deal with the impact that your ex is still having on you after your relationship is ended? And how do you go through all that processing? I mean, of course, you could write books, right, on the topic of ending a relationship, but this episode has been something that's been on my mind partly because of my own process that I've been going through, and also because I've seen this... These kinds of questions either I get emailed to me or come up in the Relationship Alive community on Facebook all the time, which is kind of like, how long should this take and why is this agonizing and what's up with my loser ex, who's doing X, Y, Z. So I just figured, let's take an episode here and tackle some of these larger questions and see if we can get into the heart of the matter a little bit more.

Alright, let's dive into today's topic of breakups and grieving, and how long should this whole process take anyway. There's a lot to unpack here because breakups are complex situations, they can be super painful, and whenever anything is super painful, it is... You are not going to be operating at your best and your partner, or you soon to be a former partner will also not be operating at their best, and yet, I still think that for the most part, even in these situations, people are trying their best. Now, trying your best in a painful situation may still not be very pretty. In fact, it may include some things that are really challenging, and so hopefully, after today's show you'll have a little bit more sense of perspective and what to expect and what's normal, and that will if nothing else, give you some peace of mind. If not, some direction in terms of how to handle this process, whether you're in it or maybe you know someone who's in it, and you can forward this episode to them or give them some pointers, or just be a strong support for them.

Neil Sattin: Or maybe there's something in... From your past that's still haunting you and you're just wondering, how long is this going to be in my sphere, how long is this going to be impacting me? So it's important because unless you are one of the lucky ones, and I'm saying lucky with a hint of biting my tongue there, but there are definitely people... I have friends who they are still with their high school sweetheart who they married not long after high school. And they still, they went to college, and they maybe even went to separate colleges and then got together and they have children together, and I still... I see their pictures on Facebook and I think. "You guys should be the ones with the Relationship podcast."

Neil Sattin: Sometimes I actually do think that. And yet, those people, it can be tempting to think, alright, they have the special sauce and we can all borrow from their recipe, and sometimes that is true, sometimes they are doing things that, as John and Julie Gottman liked to say that they're the things that the masters of relationship do. And then there are things that the disasters of relationship do, so it can be great to learn from them. And unless you're one of them, then you are bound to be going through at least one, if not multiple break-ups in your life. And those things stick with you. Those are experiences that affect how we enter and are in our subsequent relationships, so it's important, it's important to really give this some attention.

Neil Sattin: Let's start with that question of how long should the process take, how long does the process of breaking up take?

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Oct 24, 2020

When you’re stuck in conflict, how do you step outside of the situation enough to identify ways to break the patterns that are keeping you stuck? Especially in ongoing conflict, just doing more of the same isn’t going to change your outcome. Our guest is Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, author of Optimal Outcomes: Free Yourself from Conflict at Work, at Home, and in Life. We’ll talk about practical, effective strategies you can use to escape the conflict loop - and, thus, get different results!

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out Jen Goldman-Wetzler’s website, where you can take the assessments we talk about in today’s conversation.

Grab Jen Goldman-Wetzler’s book Optimal Outcomes on Amazon or from your local bookseller. 

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Or...check out the Secrets of Relationship Communication complete course!

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

Visit www.neilsattin.com/optimal to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler.

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

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host Neil Sattin. Now, I don't know about you, but I haven't managed to live a conflict-free life. In fact, it seems like it can be pretty easy to experience conflict with people in the world around us. And it comes up in our relationships, it comes up at work, it comes up with family, it comes up with your kids, and so I was tantalized when a former guest, Erica Fox, reached out to tell me about a colleague and friend of hers who had just come out with a new book called Optimal Outcomes: Free Yourself From Conflict at Work, at Home and in Life. And I thought, "Conflict-free, that sounds pretty good." 'Cause conflict adds a lot of stress. And you know I went through a divorce about a year ago, and that process wasn't conflict-free, and my divorce before that wasn't conflict-free. And in fact, there are all kinds of opportunities to experience rocky relationships. And this is particularly vexing for me because I put so much energy into trying to get it right and trying to master communication skills and bring openness and understanding to all of these conversations with people that, not all the time, I don't want you to think that my life is just riddled with conflict, but occasionally blow up in my face.

Neil Sattin: So I'm excited to have today's guest here with us to talk about this process of totally reframing the way that you see conflict, how you handle conflict, and how to escape from those perpetual conflicts that seem to be unresolvable. We'll see how we can go from unresolvable to conflict-free in today's episode. Our guest's name is Dr. Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler. She's the author of Optimal Outcomes as I just mentioned, and she is also the Founder and CEO of Alignment Strategies Group, which is an organization that is focused on creating health in other organizations and corporations. And on top of that, she teaches a popular course on conflict resolution at Columbia University. So let's dive right in. Before we do, if you want a transcript of today's episode, just visit neilsattin.com/optimal. Or as always, you can text the word "Passion" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. Okay, that's it. Jen Goldman-Wetzler, it's such a pleasure to have you here with us today on Relationship Alive.

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler: It's great to be with you today, Neil.

Neil Sattin: Let's just dive in with... I'm curious to know how you... How would you define the way that you look at conflict? How is that different from typical conflict resolution? Why is this not your grandmother's conflict resolution, or maybe your Harvard negotiation program's conflict resolution?

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler: Right. It definitely isn't. It is built on that though. My work in conflict freedom comes out of doing the work of conflict resolution with people on the ground in the Middle East, Israelis and Palestinians, with corporate leaders in pharmaceutical companies and healthcare companies and financial services, professional services. And at some point, about five years into doing that work, I noticed that conflict didn't always get resolved. The methods that we've been teaching for the last 40 years around resolving conflict work well in many situations, but in some situations, they just don't work. And when I came to that realization, I realized I wanted to dig in and try to understand, "Why not?" And most importantly, "What could we do to free ourselves from those conflict loops?" Those situations that just seem to go around and around and around and never get resolved, no matter what we do, no matter how well we apply the latest conflict resolution methodology. And so it took me about 13 years to get this book written, and it's based on five years of deep research in the realm of emotions like humiliation and conflict.

Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler: So the main difference really is...

Interested in reading a transcript of the rest of this episode?

Click here to download it!

Oct 16, 2020

Do you ever feel like you *should* have gotten over something challenging - that you’ve grown, and learned from the experience, but that on some level it still haunts you? Or do you feel inner conflict around decisions that seem like they should be relatively clear-cut? Are you afraid of failure? It could very well be that you have bypassed or suppressed your negative emotions, and that they’re now stuck inside you, wreaking havoc on your inner guidance system. By not facing failures or challenges head on, we actually create an emotional dissonance within ourselves that’s an obstacle to moving forward. Today we’ll talk about how to face things when they’re not quite the way you want them to be - and how to develop the inner honesty that will help you feel aligned and courageous no matter what’s happening in your life.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today is going to be an episode about truth, and more specifically why it is so important for you to be truthful with yourself and why that sometimes means that you have to go negative, and why it's so important to not be bypassing your negative experiences. And I'm talking to you from the perspective of someone who is almost always optimistic about life, even in my darkest moments, I generally am able to look on the bright side, and that's a helpful skill in life. In fact, there's a whole branch of psychology, positive psychology, that is at least in part based on this idea of how we make meaning in the world and trying to make positive meanings out of the things that happen to us and what a difference that makes. However, there is a danger in that skill, and today we're going to talk about what the danger is to make sure that you are not gas-lighting yourself, and instead that you're able to best use the truth for your own growth, and so to really understand what's happening in your life right now, because it can be so easy to miss what's challenging, what's truly challenging for the sake of a quick silver lining.

Neil Sattin: All right, let's dive into the topic at hand. So what is true? When you look at your life, you don't want to make things out to be worse than they are, you don't want to make mountains out of molehills, as they say, but you also don't necessarily want to make things out to be better than they are. In a way where we've been having in our world today sort of a crisis of truth, what do you believe, and we could have all kinds of conversations about how to figure out what the facts are in the outside world, but today we're going to talk about what the facts are in your inner world, and why that is so important for you. You want to be able to face your failures. And failure is a charged word. I mean, a few episodes ago, you may have heard in my session with David Burns where I confronted this idea that I was a failure and it was one of the negative thoughts, the pernicious negative thoughts that was bringing me down and contributing to my being overwhelmed with the sheer number of things that I had to do.

Neil Sattin: And yet... And David and working with me did a really effective job of helping me bust through the negative thought, the cognitive distortion in order to get what was true. And that is super important work. This today's episode is not about suddenly everyone becoming pessimists or for you to suddenly be shitting on yourself all the time. That's not what today's episode is about. However, sometimes when you're looking at reality, you have to admit that the reality isn't what you wanted it to be. And just kind of a quick cursory noticing of that might not really be enough for some important reasons.

Neil Sattin: Now, it might be enough to recognize that your life isn't the way that you want it to be, that something really sucks for just a moment in order to get resourceful and start strategizing about ways to change things, and if you are anything like me, and I know that because you're here listening, you are at least a growth-minded person, then that might be something that's relatively easy for you, "This sucks, how am I going to make it better?" And then you start strategizing. But the problem with that is that there is a place in us where the hurt, where the sadness, where the anger, where all of the feelings that are stirred up by the results that we are getting in our lives that don't quite line up with what we wanted, whether it's through our actions or through the actions of others, there's a place in us where those negative feelings live...

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Sep 26, 2020

When your partner is unmotivated to change and has resorted to stonewalling - or blaming everything on you - what can you do? If you’re a therapist working with a couple in this situation, you’ll learn some valuable ways to directly address this issue and change the dynamics. In today’s episode, we have a return visit from Peter Pearson. He is a co-founder, with Ellyn Bader, of The Couples Institute, one of the leading centers for training couples therapists and helping people find practical solutions to relationship issues. Their book “Tell Me No Lies” describes how to create a culture of honesty in your relationship (and why that’s so important) - while their work on the Developmental Model of relationships gives deep insight into why we do what we do. Today you’ll learn some specific ways to shake things loose when your partner is unmotivated to change (or *you* are).

Visit neilsattin.com/institute to join Pete Pearson’s and Ellyn Bader’s free webinars on how to use Confrontation in therapy!

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

Sponsors:

Want something new to entertain you? Acorn TV is a commercial-free streaming service that’s rooted in British television. It’s home to sophisticated and artful storytelling with top-rated mysteries, dramas that pull you in, heart-felt comedies and so much more. So - Escape to Britain and beyond without leaving your seat. Try Acorn TV free for 30 days, by going to acorn.tv and using the promo code “ALIVE” at checkout.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

To join Ellyn and Pete’s free webinar series on using confrontation in therapy with couples, follow this link here.

Visit The Couples Institute website to learn more about Ellyn and Pete’s work with couples, and with helping therapists help couples.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide - perfect help for handling conflict and shifting the codependent patterns in your relationship

Or...check out the Secrets of Relationship Communication complete course!

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

Visit www.neilsattin.com/unmotivated to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Peter Pearson.

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

If you’re curious to hear our first episode together, about shaping a culture of honesty in your relationship, you can also check out Episode 24 of Relationship Alive - Why We Lie and How to Get Back to the Truth

And you can listen to our second episode together, which was about Relationship Development and getting unstuck in your relationship, if you click here.

And here’s our third episode together - Communication that Grows Your Relationship.

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. You know how sometimes it feels like you're the only one who's doing the work in your relationship? And we talk about that a lot on this show, this idea that a lot of times, it only takes one to make a difference. And there are all these ways that you can make changes that create leverage in your relationship and can totally shift the dynamic. You're in a dance, you change your steps, your partner is going to change their steps. Well, sometimes that's true, and sometimes you are with someone who is really stuck or unmotivated, they don't want to follow through with things, they really don't think they need to do anything else because they've already done enough. And in fact, they may even be gaslighting you or blaming you, trying to make it seem like everything that's going on, all the problems that you're experiencing are actually your fault.

Neil Sattin: So I thought it would be good to tackle this topic head on. And to do so, I have a very special returning guest today, Dr. Peter Pearson, who along with his wife, Ellyn Bader, have created The Couples Institute. They are leading authorities on not only how to help couples through serious problems like infidelity, other betrayals, trust issues, but also they train couples therapists. So if you are a therapist, you'll definitely want to be paying attention, because today we're going to talk both about how you would approach this as the partner, and also as a therapist, how you would approach it. And by the way, this topic, I had a few ideas that I ran by Pete, and this was one that he suggested, and we're going to tackle it in a slightly different way than usual, where I'm actually going to be role-playing the part of the unmotivated stuck partner, which we were doing a little practice a few moments ago, and it's actually challenging for me, so I'm going to have to muster up my best improv energy to be that partner.

Neil Sattin: In any case, we will have a detailed transcript of today's episode, which you can get if you visit neilsattin.com/... Ooh, what's this one going to be? Neilsattin.com/unmotivated. That's what we're going to call it. So if you go to neilsattin.com/unmotivated, you can get the transcript of this episode. And we'll talk about this a little bit later on, but there is a series of workshops that Ellyn is going to be giving for therapists that are all about how to use confrontation in therapy with your clients, how to confront people in general, and then specifically around issues like narcissism and infidelity. And if you're interested in that, you can visit neilsattin.com/institute, as in the Couples Institute, to sign up. And that's free, by the way. I think that's enough for me. Let's dive right in. Pete Pearson, it's so great to have you here with us again on Relationship Alive.

Pete Pearson: Hey Neil, it's really good to be back, and I am looking forward to doing something kind of unusual.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, me too.

Pete Pearson: You get to play the role of a passive or passive-aggressive spouse who believes they've done all they need to do and they're done doing more, which is not an uncommon place for a therapist to deal with. So I thought instead of just me describing how I might respond to an unmotivated partner, that we would actually put it to the test.

Neil Sattin: Great.

Pete Pearson: And hopefully it will feel more realistic as you do your best job of mustering an unmotivated passive-aggressive person, which goes against everything you teach and preach.

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode with Pete Pearson? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Sep 19, 2020

Do you ever procrastinate? If you’re looking for a way to finally stop putting things off - and get them done - then today’s episode is for you. As a follow-up to a session with me on being overwhelmed, David Burns has returned for a session to help me with my own procrastination. You’ll get to hear what works, what doesn’t, and - if you’re a therapist or coach - how to help other people with their procrastination. David Burns is the author of the newly released Feeling Great, which contains all the improvements in his methodology over the decades since his classic bestseller Feeling Good was written. David’s TEAM-CBT approach to therapy is a powerful way to stay centered and positive, no matter what’s going on in your world.

This session with David Burns was a follow-up to our session on Overwhelm back in Episode 228.

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! 

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources: 

Check out Dr. David Burns's website

Read David’s classic books, Feeling Good or Ten Days To Self-Esteem

Order David’s newest book: Feeling Great - The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide www.neilsattin.com/feelinggood5 Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with David Burns, along with the Daily Mood Log.

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

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Well, I've been doing well. It's been interesting to have now a couple days of waking up and feeling that overwhelm feeling start, and then to actively be engaged in some dialogue around that. Basically, I don't have to listen to you and this is bullshit, I'm going to do what I need to do, and the overwhelm isn't helping. And it's interesting that that's been... That's been pretty effective, actually.

David Burns: Oh. That's great.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: Let's do a quick tune-up thing here and then we'll push forward.

Neil Sattin: Great.

David Burns: See how good you are at all of that. Now, let's see. Here we go. I'm actually starting my own little anti-procrastination for the week. I'm getting organized on my paperwork, and I put a staple through my notes which made it possible for me to find them forever - quickly.

Neil Sattin: Oh, great.

David Burns: What's your name?

Neil Sattin: Neil.

David Burns: What's my name?

Neil Sattin: You'll be Neil. Right?

David Burns: Yeah, that's right.

Neil Sattin: All right.

David Burns: And I just wanted to remind you, once again, that the fact is you're failing.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I don't have to listen to a thought like that right now.

David Burns: You don't, but it is factually true. That's all I'm saying.

Neil Sattin: It's not true that I'm failing. It's true that I have a lot to do and I'm going to figure out what's most important, and I'm going to do what's most important right now. And overall, the trajectory of my life is pretty good. I've gotten a lot accomplished and there's plenty of evidence to support that I'm actually doing fine, that I'm not failing.

David Burns: Who won?

Neil Sattin: I won.

David Burns: Big or small?

Neil Sattin: Big.

David Burns: Big or huge?

Neil Sattin: I would say not quite huge, but pretty big.

David Burns: Okay, great. Do a role reversal. I thought it was quite strong, but do a role reversal.

Neil Sattin: Okay. Hey, Neil, just...

David Burns: Hey. How are you doing big guy?

Neil Sattin: Well, I could be doing...

David Burns: I was getting a little lonely without you.

Neil Sattin: I could be doing better. The problem is that you're failing.

David Burns: Well, you know, I've failed at many things throughout my life and I've succeeded at many things throughout my life and... But I'm not quite sure what you're referring to. Are you referring to the fact that I'm procrastinating at some things, or is there something else you're suggesting?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I would say that, right now, it's that there's a lot that needs to get done and you're not doing enough of it.

David Burns: Well, you're right about that, and actually I don't intend to.

Neil Sattin: You don't intend to?

David Burns: No. I'm not going to try to take on all that stuff and listen to your bullshit. I might take on one thing, get started on one thing I've been putting off, but the idea that somehow I have to do all of this, that just makes me feel - It's just the kind of a stupid thing that you're saying, because when you say I'm failing, it's just like I'm some failure, there's some grandiose failing going on. There are people all over the world right now who are cooped up with coronavirus, and procrastinating a little bit, and feeling down. And I wouldn't go about telling them that they're failing, that would be ridiculous. I don't appreciate it when you do that to me either.

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode with David Burns? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Sep 10, 2020

How do you talk about your feelings - without your partner getting reactive and defensive? There are some common mistakes that we make when talking about our feelings that can lead to it going horribly wrong. In today’s episode, we’ll cover ways that you can adjust how you talk about your feelings so that you’ll be most likely to stay connected - even if you’re bringing up some hard stuff. And you’ll learn what to do if you notice your partner making these mistakes as well when they talk about their feelings with you.

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

Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeo.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Alright, alright, let's dive in to the show. How to talk about your feelings without it going horribly wrong. This is super important because the name of the game in relating is being able to stay connected, not just on an intellectual level with your partner, but on a heart level, And if you have the habit of sweeping your feelings under the rug because there's no productive way to bring them to the conversation, then that's just a recipe for disconnect down the road. I've experienced that. So I want to tell you that it is much better to be able to bring your feelings to the table and have a way to chat about them that leads to connection, that leads to solutions of problems. 'cause let's face it, most of the time when we talk about our feelings and our partner gets defensive, it's because we're communicating challenging feelings. Now, I suppose it's possible that you could be communicating something like how much you love your partner and that could somehow trigger them and make them feel defensive, like maybe if they feel like you're saying that you love them and that now you have some big expectation of them, that's possible.

Neil Sattin: Those kinds of conversations can happen a lot early in a relationship where one person is ready to take the I love you plunge before the other person is necessarily ready, so that's relevant, 'cause that's a positive feeling, but most of the time it's sharing things about feeling sad or hurt or scared or unsure or any number of uncomfortable feelings - angry. And it's important to know how to bring that to your relationship. So first, I want to cover just a few ground rules, now, these aren't necessarily all the ground rules, I did a three and half hour course on communication, so this is just going to be an episode and I do not want it to be three and a half hours long I want it to be simple and straight forward for you, so we're going to cover a few of the ground rules and how they can go wrong, and this will all make sense to you in just a moment, so first thing is... And you've probably heard this, is that you want to use I statements. I feel <blank>. And some people think that as long as they're using an I statement, that they're good.

Neil Sattin: And this is one of the places where we can go horribly wrong because...

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Aug 29, 2020

Are you undermining your connection with your partner, or the others in your life, with microaggressions? While the “little things” can be the building blocks of something amazing - they can also undermine the very fabric of how you relate with another person, perpetuating sexism, racism, or other unhealthy power dynamics. Today our guest is Kevin Nadal, co-editor of Microaggression Theory: Influence and Implications. He is one of the world’s foremost experts on how to spot microaggressions and overcome their impact in your life.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Grab a copy of Kevin Nadal’s book Microaggression Theory: Influence and Implications or his latest book Queering Law and Order: LGBTQ Communities and the Criminal Justice System

You can also visit Keven Nadal’s website to find out more about his work and offerings.

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. There is a lot going on in the world today. And of course, there's always a lot going on in the world today, but in particular, if you've been paying any attention to the news or to the Facebook or other forms of social media, then you're aware that front and center in today's world, along with the pandemic that's going on are issues of racial equity and justice and ways that we as a greater community can become more aware of what's happening in the world and also take action to improve our own situation and the situation of everyone around us in ways that are like a rising tide, where we all get to benefit from increased understanding and harmony and decreased acts of aggression or intolerance.

Neil Sattin: And so, for today's episode, I wanted to tackle a particular topic that's actually come up a bunch in the Relationship Alive community on Facebook, and I've gotten a bunch of emails about it as well, and that's the topic of microaggressions. And we're going to go into what that even means, but basically, in a nutshell, these are the subtle ways that we do violence on each other or that we receive violence, and there... And I use the word violence intentionally, because I want you to recognize the importance of these things in detracting from the quality of interactions and relationships that we have with each other, but also because I think it's worth pointing out that these things are often very subtle, so they may be overt, but they may leave you or someone else with this subtle feeling that something just didn't go quite right. And we're going to dive more deeply into the topic of microaggressions, how they happen in your interactions out in the world, and in particular, how they impact your relationships with your beloved, with your partner.

Neil Sattin: So in order to have this conversation today, we have one of the world's leading experts on understanding the impacts of microaggressions, or as I was just saying, subtle forms of discrimination on the mental and physical health of people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, women, other marginalized groups. His name is Dr. Kevin Nadal and he's a professor of psychology at both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. Dr. Nadal received his Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University, and I believe that he was... He worked a lot with Derald Wing Sue, who's also one of the world's leading researchers and authors about the topic of microaggressions. Kevin has also been featured widely in all forms of media, he was on... He was a hot topic on The View, and perhaps least importantly, although I'm really curious to know how this came about, so that I can maybe get my chance, but he was named one of People magazine's hottest bachelors in 2006. So, now that I'm single, maybe Kevin can give me some pointers on how to get People magazine's attention.

Neil Sattin: In any case, we're here to have a very important conversation about the ways that you may be perpetuating racism or any sort of discrimination in your own life, in your relationships, and not even know it. Or maybe you're the recipient of it and this will help you articulate better what's going on. And along, of course, with talking about it, we're going to talk about what to do about it. So, as usual, we will have a detailed transcript of today's conversation, which you can grab by going to neilsattin.com/micro, M-I-C-R-O as in microaggressions, or as always you can text the word PASSION to the number 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript of today's show. Alright, I think that's it from me. Let's get on with the show, Dr. Kevin Nadal, thank you so much for joining us here today on Relationship Alive.

Kevin Nadal: Thanks Neil, I'm happy to be here.

Neil Sattin: Awesome, awesome. And we were just chatting earlier about how you're in New York, so you're in the place that was kind of pandemic central for a little while and the numbers are coming down, so hopefully that's helping you live a slightly more useful life in the big city with everything that's going on.

Kevin Nadal: Yeah, things in New York are getting better, so hopefully day by day we'll be back to not exactly where we used to be, but an even stronger version of what New York has always been.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'm right there with you, for sure. So Kevin, I'm wondering, can we just dive right in to... I know you probably heard my little cursory introduction of what microaggressions are, but...

Kevin Nadal: Sure.

Neil Sattin: You're the expert, so can you just summarize what is a microaggression? And I know there are a few different categories of microaggressions, so maybe we can just flesh that out for people a little bit more so that they have a sense of the kinds of things that we're talking about.

Kevin Nadal: Sure. Your definition was very good. Let me just add a little bit to it. So microaggressions are the subtle, more unintentional forms of bias that might manifest between people. Oftentimes, microaggressions are things that are unconscious and that people aren't aware of them. Sometimes, people are aware that they are saying or doing something, but might not recognize the impact that it has on others. And microaggressions in general may have such a detrimental effect on people who experience them. I appreciate that you mentioned the idea of violence with microaggressions, because when we talk about microaggressions, we're not talking about the idea that they're so micro or they're so small that they don't have an impact. We're talking about the fact that they're sometimes so small that the accumulation of these experiences may have a detrimental impact on things such as mental health, on physical health, on even things like substance use and body image issues and educational attainment and things like that. There are several types of microaggressions that are theorized to exist.

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode with about Microaggressions with Kevin Nadal? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Aug 15, 2020

WARNING: If you’re looking for the typical hope and optimism that you can find on Relationship Alive, then this might not be the episode for you! After 233 episodes focused on how to have an amazing relationship, it feels like it’s time to ask the obvious question: Why? Let’s turn things on their head for a moment. Perhaps getting into a relationship is actually a bad idea! In this week’s episode, I give myself permission to be a little jaded and cynical, and to talk about many of the ways that relationships can actually suck. And what you just might want to do instead. If you’re willing journey with me through the looking glass, there just might be something important revealed on the other side.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin.

Neil Sattin: I'm going to start today with a little disclaimer, a disclaimer because this episode might not be the best thing to listen to if you are having challenges in your relationship, or if you are desperately seeking some hope and optimism. Because even though almost every single episode that I've done for the past nearly five years has been full of hope and optimism and positive energy around relationships, today's episode is going to be a little different.

Neil Sattin: Here I am in moments feeling kind of jaded about relationships, and so I wanted to create a safe space to have that conversation, to have the conversation that questions relationships, that questions why we do it, that questions the consequences of being in relationship, and honestly, to give myself some license here to just be a little negative. Now, I'm not going to be... This episode isn't just going to be me railing about relationship because the converse of being negative about relationships is being positive about the alternatives, so it's not going to be all gloom and doom here but I did want to give myself the permission to just be who I'm being right now. And I have my good moments and I have my less than good moments, and so because I've shared so much of my own personal journey with you here on the show, I thought I'd share this part of the journey, too.

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Aug 6, 2020

Let’s put the theory aside for a minute. When it comes to having a successful, long-lasting relationship, what has actually worked for couples whose relationships have stood the test of time? In order to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue interviewed 40 famous couples in successful relationships, to discover the actual rubber-meets-the-road strategies that they use to navigate life’s challenges. The result - their bestselling book What Makes a Marriage Last -  has such a diverse amount of wisdom in its pages that you’re sure to find something new to add to your relationship skillset. Plus you’ll get a sneak peek behind the scenes into the intimate lives of some of America’s most beloved couples.

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

Sponsors:

Want something new to entertain you? Acorn TV is a commercial-free streaming service that’s rooted in British television. It’s home to sophisticated and artful storytelling with top-rated mysteries, dramas that pull you in, heart-felt comedies and so much more. So - Escape to Britain and beyond without leaving your seat. Try Acorn TV free for 30 days, by going to acorn.tv and using the promo code “ALIVE” at checkout.

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeo.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

Grab a copy of Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue’s book What Makes a Marriage Last

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive, this is your host, Neil Sattin. What makes a marriage last? We can talk about the research, but in the end, it's where the rubber meets the road that matters most. For today's show, we have a special episode with some very special guests. They recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary by talking to 40 famous couples who all have long-standing marriages. So that we not only get a glimpse into the private lives of well-known people, which is interesting in and of itself, but we also get a sense of the special sauce that has helped them, each of them, stay together and connected over many, many years. There's also a moment in this interview that was perhaps, one of my most challenging as a host, when I asked the tough question that I was afraid might have actually taken my guest down for the count. Fortunately, as you'll hear, he's okay and his wife stepped in with a masterful answer to an important question.

Neil Sattin: Their names are Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, and as I mentioned, they have now been married for more than 40 years. Marlo Thomas is an award-winning actress, best-selling author and activist, who has won four Emmys, a Golden Globe, a Grammy and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among other awards. She's also the Outreach Director for Saint Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Phil Donahue is a writer, producer and journalist whose daytime talk show, The Donahue Show, was honored with 20 Emmy awards. He's also been inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame and is a recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award. Together, they are the authors of the best-selling book, What Makes a Marriage Last, where as I mentioned, they have interviewed 40 celebrated couples about their relationships and the specific things that help them stay connected through the good times and the challenging times.

Neil Sattin: It's a series of fascinating interviews with people like President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, LL Cool J and Simone Smith, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Elton John and David Furnish, Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan, Sting and Trudie Styler, Deepak and Rita Chopra, Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner. I'm not going to list them all here, but just know that each interview offers some interesting insights that just might help you take your relationship-ing skills to the next level.

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode with Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Jul 25, 2020

In a relationship, it’s important to be able to accept your partner as they are. What if accepting your partner traps you in a relationship that isn’t healthy? What’s the balance between accepting your relationship as it is - and wanting to shift things without trying to turn your partner into someone different than who they are? If you value growth, and compassion...you can actually find yourself stuck in a bad relationship because of it! In today’s episode, we’re going to try to solve the “acceptance paradox” so that you can stay aligned with your values and still make a change.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. There's a paradox in relationships, around the notion of acceptance, because we hold this ideal that the best thing possible for us to do is to accept our partner, to accept them as they are, and to accept them with compassion, to not try to change them, right? And to not be changed by our partners. And yet this creates a paradox in relationships, because what do you do when you can't accept it or when accepting it seemingly keeps you in a situation that's not healthy for you? Are you just supposed to accept everything? That's what we're going to cover in today's show. And I call it the acceptance paradox, because you might just find that when you find your way into it, that there's no way out of it. And today, I'm going to take a stab at solving the acceptance paradox for you, and for myself. I've been thinking about it a lot as a way of helping us transcend the potential pitfalls of being really accepting and compassionate. So that is what is in store in today's episode.

Interested in reading the transcript to find out more about the Acceptance Paradox and how to escape it? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Jul 18, 2020

The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of the decisions that you make. So, when it comes to love - is there a way to make better choices and to identify your blind spots, to improve your chances of a long-lasting, thriving connection? Today’s guest, Logan Ury, is a Behavioral Scientist and author of the forthcoming book “How to Not Die Alone.” Along with being the Director of Relationship Science for the online dating app Hinge, Logan has done in-depth research into why we make the choices we make when it comes to love - and how to steer yourself towards the outcome most aligned with what you value and desire. Whether you’re single and looking, already in a relationship, or trying to decide whether to stay or go - today’s episode will help you get clear on the choices you’re facing.

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! 

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources: 

Check out Logan Ury’s website where you can take her quiz to assess your “dating tendency”.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide www.neilsattin.com/logan Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Logan Ury.

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

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. The world of relationship-ing is based on a series of decisions that you make. You make a choice about whether or not you even want to be in a relationship. You make choices about the kinds of relationships you get into. We're making these kinds of choices all the time, and yet for many of us, we don't even realize that we're making choices. In fact, we kind of ease our way into situations, and we find ourselves there and you may ask yourself, "Well how did I get here?" in the words of David Byrne. We don't always necessarily know. And yet, the more aware you are of how you make your choices, your choices about how you date, who you date, how you enter into relationship, how you leave relationship. The more you're aware of what is actually going into that decision-making process, the better you'll be at making better decisions.

Neil Sattin: And of course, relationship is an iterative process. We do it over and over again, hopefully getting better each time. It doesn't always work out that way. But in today's episode, we are going to talk explicitly about how we make these decisions and how to improve upon them, and some potential pitfalls that can lead us astray along the way. In order to have this conversation, I've invited a dear friend, who's also an esteemed behavioral scientist, her name is Logan Ury, and she and I have actually been together in a relationship Mastermind group for almost... No, it's been a little over a year now. We just celebrated our year anniversary as a group.

Neil Sattin: And it's been a great way to come to know her and her insightful ways of looking at the ways that we make choices about how and who we date. She also works as a dating coach and a matchmaker. And she is also working currently for the dating app, Hinge which I'm sure she'll have more to say about as we get into our conversation. As usual, you will be able to download the transcript of this conversation by visiting neilsattin.com/logan. That's L-O-G-A-N.

Neil Sattin: Or you can always text the word PASSION to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And I think that Logan also has a quiz available on her website and we'll give you a link so that you can take her quiz and find out about who you are as a dater or who you've been as a dater. And anyway, let's just get started. So Logan Ury, it's a pleasure to have you here with us today on Relationship Alive.

Logan Ury: Neil, thank you so much for having me. It's been really fun getting to know you over the last year in our relationships group, and I'm super happy to be on the podcast.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Well I'm psyched to have you here as well. And mostly because, along with being a great person, you have some fascinating wisdom about what makes us tick. So I'm wondering if you can just give a quick synopsis of your background, how did you get to merging the world of behavioral science and dating and love and relationships?

Logan Ury: Sure, yeah. I'm happy to jump right into that.

Neil Sattin: Great.

Logan Ury: So, I studied psychology in college, and I've always been really interested in how people think, how people make decisions. So I studied psychology with an emphasis on women, gender and sexuality. And then a funny story is, that actually my first job out of college was working at Google and I managed the advertising for a bunch of porn advertisers, so our group was colloquially known as the Porn Pod.

Logan Ury: And that was an interesting first year out of college. And then later, I had the opportunity to lead a behavioral science team at Google and that was called the Irrational Lab, and behavioral science is the study of how we make decisions. So we know that people are often really irrational and they make decisions that are not in their own best interest. But what's cool is that these irrationalities don't just happen randomly, they're predictable. So if you understand, okay, people tend to make this type of a mistake in this type of situations, you could actually help shift their behavior.

Logan Ury: So I was doing that at Google, I was really enjoying it, but at the same time I was just fascinated by dating and relationships. I was single, I was using dating apps, and I started a YouTube series at Google called Talks at Google, Modern Romance. And I would bring in people like John Gottman, Esther Perel, Dan Savage to talk about dating and relationships.

Logan Ury: And a few years later, I just realized this dating and relationship stuff is really what I'm interested in, it's my passion, it's my calling. And when I thought about how I could make my contribution to that world, I thought, "Well, I have this knowledge of how people make decisions, why not apply that to dating and relationships?" And what that's looked like for the last few years is doing a residency at TED, where I got to do a project and gave a TED Talk about dating and relationships, and also now writing this book about how to apply the ideas of behavioral science to finding a relationship and creating a great relationship.

Neil Sattin: Right, I didn't even mention that in the intro, but it's important to know that you have written this book. It's actually not due out until February of 2021, around Valentine's Day. So you, as a listener, are getting a sneak peak into Logan's... Into Logan's work, because I got a sneak peek at the book, which was a big privilege. And that... I'm curious about this sense of us as irrational decision makers, because one thing that became clear as I was reading your book or maybe it was clear because this is what you were emphasizing, is that there are all of these laws, let's just call them, about... That describe how we make decisions poorly. And it made me start to wonder if we are just inherently predisposed to be kind of bad decision makers, and if we actually do need training around making better and better decisions. And I wonder if that's true from your perspective, that there's... The way that we kinda come through the mill as we grow up and are just exposed to life, and the reason that these laws exist in behavioral science is because in general, we actually don't really know what we're doing.

Logan Ury: Yeah, I would agree with that. I would say, in general, I think we often make decisions that are against our own best interest. And some of the areas where this comes up often are eating healthier, working out or saving money. So if I said to most people, "Would you like to save more money?" they would say, "Yes." But then in a moment where they have the chance to save or spend, a lot of people... A lot of people spend. And that's why I think I read recently that the average American does not have $400 available if there were to be some sort of emergency, so, clearly, we're all having trouble saving. And similarly, people say, "Oh, I want to lose weight. I want to eat healthier," but then in the moment, when you're faced with getting a burger or a salad, a lot of us just choose what feels good in the moment and we'll get that burger.

Logan Ury: And there's different reasons for this, so one of them is called the present bias, which sounds fairly obvious, but it's basically that we disproportionately measure things based on how good they feel in the present, and we don't think as much about the future. And there's a whole list, there's a whole catalog of these cognitive biases, which is just a fancy way of saying, "Reasons why we make mistakes in our decision-making," and it happens in all areas of life, but I think it's really fascinating to study how it affects us in love and relationships. And as I write about in the book, sometimes when I talk about this, people push back and they say, "Oh, that's insane. You can't be rational in love." And it's not that I'm going for rationality. It's not that I want people to be some sort of super computer that says like, "Input, input. Alright, these five daters plus this situation equals... This is the best person for your soulmate. Beep boop." It's not like that.

[laughter]

Logan Ury: It's not... It's not... [chuckle] It's not any sort of algorithm, it's much more just saying like, "Hey, these are cognitive biases, these are invisible forces that often get in people's way and if you can understand them and you can avoid those mistakes, then you can start to make better decisions and hopefully, wind up in the loving relationships of your dreams."

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and most of the time, without an awareness of what those biases would be, then you're just doomed. And, in fact, as I read bias after bias in your book, I was like, "Oh my gosh." Each one just shows you how we are set up to fail potentially.

Logan Ury: Was there one that stuck out to you? I'm just curious, I know you just read it. Was there one that's got to you where you're like, "Oh, this helps me understand either this thing that I've done in dating or this thing that I've done in other areas of my life?" And just to put you on the spot, is there one that you remember?

Interested in reading the transcript for the rest of this episode with Logan Ury? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Jul 11, 2020

In today's world, it's challenging to avoid conflicts - whether with our intimate partners, or simply with people at the grocery store or on social media. How do you take control of any fight so that you can create the best outcome? How do you resolve conflicts in a way that helps bring you closer to others, instead of widening the divide between you? In this week's episode we'll cover some important ways for you to steer arguments towards a place where you can "win" without suffering the costs of victory. Wondering what I mean? Come aboard with me in this week's episode.

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

Sponsors:

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeo.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

Check out my Secrets of Relationship Communication COURSE for a masterclass in how to improve the communication and connection in your relationship.

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today we're going to tackle how to win any argument, how to come out on top in terms of any conflict that you might have. It's an important topic, especially in today's divided world and specifically, in the ways that we can be driven apart from our partners by deep seemingly unresolvable conflicts. So today, I'm going to give you three important steps to win any argument, resolve the conflict, and get on with the business of living your life hopefully in as joyous a way as possible and connected a way as possible.

Neil Sattin: First, I just want to remind you that Relationship Alive is an offering for me to you to help you have the most successful thriving relationships possible. If you are finding the show to be beneficial for yourself or for people that you care about, please consider a donation to support Relationship Alive and our mission. You can choose anything that feels right for you and every little bit truly does help. So to pick something that will feel good, just visit NeilSattin.com/support or you can text the word support to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Neil Sattin: This week, I want to thank Keerthi, Angie, Jules, Cynthia, Thomas, Debra, Meredith, Kent, Laura, Sarah, and another Neil. Thank you all so much for your generous and ongoing contributions to Relationship Alive. As you might expect, today we are going to be covering topics that really dive deep into how we communicate with others. So if you haven't grabbed it yet, please do download my free guide to my top three relationship communication secrets. These are the kinds of things that will help you stay connected no matter how challenging the topic is that you're talking about, so it's going to go right hand-in-hand with what we're going to talk about on today's show. To download the free guide, just visit NeilSattin.com/relate or text the word relate to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Neil Sattin: And finally, before we dive in, just a reminder that we have a free group on Facebook, the Relationship Alive Community, where you can find more than 4,000 other people who listen to the show and who are there to have generative supportive conversations about how to do relationships well, along with all the other parts that come along with relationships; breakups, heartache, dating, finding love, and all the parts in between, so come talk to us, celebrate with us, commiserate with us and join the fun. Oh, one last thing, if there's something going on for you that you would like me to answer on the show, just email yourself talking about it to questions at relationshipalive dot com and I will keep you anonymous and answer your question on the show. If you don't feel comfortable talking, you can just write it down, but hopefully, you feel comfortable talking at least enough so that other people can hear your voice. I think it's a nice touch. We've been able to do that a couple of times in the show already and I am looking forward to your questions. Alright, so let's dive in with the top three ways to win any argument, and I don't know if you can hear it in my voice, but I'm smiling a bit when I say win any argument because the reality is that winning an argument is actually not the goal.

Neil Sattin: Now, I'm going to tell you a little bit more about this in a moment. It's going to factor in more to tip number two and tip number three, so let's just start with figuring out why this is important, where is this coming from? As I mentioned at the top of the show, it feels like we're living in a world that's becoming more and more divided, more and more polarized, and this is also playing out even in our most intimate relationships because we can feel paralyzed or like we can't act and we can't resolve simple things like who's going to initiate sex? Who is going to make sure there's dinner on the table? Who's going to wash the dishes? What are you going to do when you have a free night? Do you believe in wearing masks and social distancing, or do you not? There are all of these ways, right, that we are constantly discovering that our own opinions about how something should be or ought to be don't necessarily line up with the other people in our lives. And we can resolve to just yell at each other and not get anywhere. We can resolve to yell at each other until one or the other person gives up.

Neil Sattin: We can resolve to just never fight about anything. I don't think any of those solutions really get us anywhere, and I think this topic is really key and it's going to be even more key because they say a divided house cannot stand. I think that's what they say. I can't remember who said it and actually, I'm going to look it up right now. Okay, you gotta love the internet and also the ability to hit the pause button on my recording software. So, of course like many good things the house divided against itself cannot stand. It does come from the Bible, it comes from the New Testament. That's actually not what I was thinking of though. So maybe we'll talk more about that aspect of it a little bit later. I was actually thinking of the reference by Abraham Lincoln, known as His House Divided Speech, which he gave when he had accepted the Republican Party nomination to be Illinois US Senator. This was back in 1858 so it was before the Civil War. And the greater context is that he was saying that he didn't believe that the government could endure if we didn't resolve the question of slavery and of course, he wanted to abolish slavery, so this was the rallying cry for the Republicans at the time to take up the cause of abolition and emancipation.

Neil Sattin: So all super important aspects of the United States' history and I think that the same in many ways is true today, it feels like at least in my experience, and this could just be because of the way that we're connected to each other these days through social media where everything is on display. But it feels like there hasn't been a time in my experience that we've been more outwardly divided than we are now. And where people are saying some pretty scary shit, to be honest with you. Personally, I think that it's important for us to all learn how to get along with each other and take care of each other, and not just on the national level, but I believe that that's crucial on the global level, that we as humans really need to learn how to take care of each other and show up for each other and lift each other up. I believe that there is plenty in our world, as long as we're all on the same side of the table, figuring out how to make it work for all of us.

Neil Sattin: And what's challenging in arguments or conflict is how we so often end up on opposite sides of the table talking at each other, fighting to win and not fighting for a common purpose. So I'm giving you hints as to where we're headed, but I wanted to let you know that that's where this is coming from, I feel like I've experienced this in relationships and now in marriages, where the inability to resolve really deep disagreements led to the dissolution of what could have been a more perfect union. So let's all work together and I'm going to teach you today some very important ways to do that, that are going to make a radical shift for you in terms of how you approach any conflict with anyone.

Neil Sattin: Okay so here's the first thing, tip number one, the thing that you have to realize is that for the most part, people believe what they are telling you. And in many respects, they believe it passionately. Now, sure, some of us are a little bit more laidback, a little bit more easygoing, and it can happen that if you're an easy-going person and you're in a relationship with someone who's super convinced of their viewpoint, then you could find yourself yielding over and over and over again and just letting things go because to you, it's not as big a deal, but in the end, that is a surefire way to build resentment and that resentment over time will undermine the fabric of your relationship.

Neil Sattin: So let's not let go of our viewpoint because we are going to let go of who we are and what we feel is important in the world. And at the same time, let's recognize firmly that when someone else is telling you something, they probably believe that with every ounce of their heart, being, soul just like you do especially about the things that you feel passionate about, that you feel are important. So without that recognition, there's no possible way to resolve conflict because you'll be focused on the wrong thing. Now, what do you do if what the other person believes is based on something that you know for sure to be wrong, to be incorrect? Well this is a really good question. First question that I have for you under those circumstances is how do you know? Can you be absolutely sure that what you believe is 100% correct or 100% the truth or 100% the way it is? It could be that that's true. I mean it's possible and maybe what you believe is 95% true and 5% not true, so it gets challenging when the other person believes something that you think might be 10% true and 90% a crock of shit, right? So what do you do in those circumstances?

Neil Sattin: Well, first, you want to recognize that that person believes fully what they're telling you, or, and this is important, they might not believe what they're telling you 100% but they believe in the underlying reasons why they are telling you what they are telling you. So they might be 100% invested in their truth but generally, that investment isn't so much about that specific truth. It's about what lies underneath it. So can you literally hear first what the other person is saying? Can you acknowledge within yourself that what they're saying to them is probably pretty close to 100% true, 100% something they believe in? And can you ask yourself, why do they believe in this so much? Why is this so important to them? And then rather than just telling yourself this story over and over again, can you check in with them? Can you check in with them about your assumptions about why it is that they are so convinced of whatever it is they're telling you? Or why it is that their point of view is so important to them. Can you get to the core of what really matters to them?

Neil Sattin: Now you might ask them a question like "okay, okay, I see that this is... I'm pretty sure this is how you feel about this thing, right?" And make sure you're hearing them correctly, if you get it wrong, actually, you totally missed it, then you need more information to figure out what it is they're actually saying. But once you know what they're saying, then you say "can we go a little bit deeper? Could you tell me a little bit more about why this is important to you?" Or "I have a story about why I think you are saying what you're saying, can I check in with you about it and see if that's true?" Now that can be pretty risky, especially, if it's someone you don't know, If it's someone you don't know very well, then your safest bet is to not lead with your assumptions, it's to lead by asking them. "Can you tell me more about what's so important to you here? What are the underlying principles that you live and die by?" And then you might even get out "why are those principles important to you?" If it's your personal freedom that's important to you, for instance, if it's not wanting to be accountable to anyone else. I don't want to tell you where I was while I was out. You're not my mother, right?

Neil Sattin: If someone doesn't want to be accountable to you, then what's underneath that? "Okay, it sounds like you don't want to be accountable to me, and I'm not asking you because I want you to be accountable to me. I'm asking you because I'm curious, or I'm asking you because I'm scared. So I'm wondering if you can tell me a little bit more about why it's so hard for you to answer my questions? 'Cause I want to know more about you." So step one is all about understanding the other person. Now, this is something that I go deep, deep, deep into in my secrets of relationship communication course. The course is about three-and-a-half hours of instruction to help you communicate better, to help you understand and be understood, and it's a master class in the things that I'm talking about in today's episode. The course as of now is still in beta but because we are all in such close quarters with our loved ones, and because things are getting heated in our public spaces I reopened the beta for now. And if you're hearing this after the beta has ended, then that's good, that means the final version is out.

Neil Sattin: And if you sign up for the beta of the course, you'll also get the final version when it's ready. And if you want to know more about it, just visit NeilSattin.com/course. There. So step one is all about finding out what's going on with the other person and checking your assumptions to see if you can dig a little bit deeper and figure out what's important to them, what's important to them on the deepest level.

Interested in reading the transcript for steps Number Two and Number 3? 

Click here to download the full transcript of this episode!

Jun 29, 2020

Sexting - what is it? How do you do it? Why would you want to do it? And...most importantly...how do you ensure it goes well - and how do you keep it from going horribly wrong? Whether you have been with your partner for a long time - or are just getting to know someone - sexting can be a fun way to connect and expand the range of your intimacy with another person. There's a lot of serious stuff going on in the world right now, so I thought we'd take a moment on the show to dive into something playful. Sexy texting (or messaging) can be a new (or improved) relationship-building skill for you to experiment with.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. There is a lot going on in our world right now. A lot. And as much as I personally would like to fix everything overnight, that's not going to happen. And so I'm doing my best, as always, to mix things up because this topic of how to do relationships well, how to find relationships, how to stay in relationships, how to leave relationships, sometimes, let's be honest, it can be kind of heavy, or if not heavy, at least serious. Today, I want to take a step towards a topic that's actually quite useful, quite important, and also on the lighter side of things. I want to talk about sexting.

Neil Sattin: I want to talk about sexting in terms of how to sext, how to sext well, what not to do, what to do, why you might want to do it. And we'll talk about sexting also from the perspective of where you might be on the spectrum of how well you know your partner. So we'll talk about what it's like to use sexting as a tool for connection and fostering desire in your main relationship, if you have a primary partnership. And then we'll contrast that with what it's like to do that with someone that you've never met, or maybe you've had some Tinder interaction or online dating interaction. I don't want to necessarily promote just one thing. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, OkCupid, Plenty Of Fish, whatever the hell it is.

Neil Sattin: Whatever it is, if you're meeting people there and if you are being responsible about whether or not you are keeping a distance from them, right now we're in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, then you might consider sexting as a way to boost your intimacy and to have a little fun with someone that you're meeting. But it's very different when you sext with someone that you don't know in person or whom you barely know, especially if you don't actually have a sexual history with that person. We're going to get into the ins and outs of sexting, and hopefully have some fun while we do it. Because I think when done right, sexting can be pretty amazing. And if you don't know what I'm talking about when I say the word sexting, I'm talking about communicating via instant message or texting about sexual things. And not just about sexual things, but actually taking your partner and yourself on a sexual journey, on a fun journey, on a connecting journey, on an intimate journey, it can be intimate, and all over some texting or instant messaging medium.

Neil Sattin: So that is what sexting is, at least the way that I'm defining it right now. And before we dive in, I just want to remind you that Relationship Alive is an offering for you so that you can have the best relationships possible. And I can't do it alone. In fact, I really can't do it alone. Over the coming weeks and months, I'm going to be probably putting out a call for some assistance. Because for a long time, this has been pretty much a solo show, although I have had amazing help from my editor, Christy, and some various assistants along the way. It's time to really have a team who's helping carry on the mission.

Neil Sattin: Right now, one of the most important people on the team is you being there - listening, putting this stuff into practice, talking to people about Relationship Alive, turning other people on to the show and, if you are able, supporting us through a contribution. You can choose any amount that feels right to you, because every little bit counts. If you're finding the show to be helpful, just visit neilsattin.com/support or text the word "support" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. This week, the team members I would like to thank are Joseph, Ruthanna, Holly, Mark, Ruth, Jenny, Marie, Timothy, David, Angie, Sylvia, Drew, Lydia, Ann and Valerie. Thank you all so much for your generous and, in many cases, ongoing support of the Relationship Alive podcast.

Neil Sattin: Oh, and I don't want to forget that it's been a little bit, Mark, since your donation came through, but I wanted to mention that Mark's donation was made in honor of Annie. You can do that, too, when you contribute to the show. Just tell me who you'd like to thank, who's important or special in your life, who has been, is currently or will be, and I'm happy to thank them as well here on Relationship Alive.

Neil Sattin: Before we get into the topic, just a reminder that we do have a free group on Facebook, if you're still on Facebook, I'm not sure honestly how much longer I'm going to be there. But if you are there, we have a Relationship Alive community where we have more than 4,000 people who are listeners of the show gathered to create a safe space to talk about relationship stuff. So, come join us there. It is a closed group, so the only people who see what you post are the people who are in the group. Generally, it's a really supportive community. And the times occasionally when people need a redo, they're generally pretty good about asking for that and giving positive, supportive, constructive feedback so that you can work on your skills at supporting other people as well. So that's the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook.

Neil Sattin: If you have a question for me on the show, just email it to questions at relationshipalive dot com. You can record yourself asking the question or you can just email the question to me. I was thinking the other day about how it might be fun to actually have people interview me for the show, so that's something I'd consider, too. If you want to interview me around a particular topic for Relationship Alive, let's do that experiment. That will be fun. Just again, questions at relationshipalive dot com.

Neil Sattin: And lastly, if you are looking for ways to improve your communication, we're going to be talking about one particular aspect of communication today. But in general, if you are looking for ways to communicate about things that are intimate or challenging and to stay connected to your partner while you do, then please download my free guide to my top three relationship communication secrets. These are special strategies for communicating in relationship that are a little different than your conventional wisdom around how to communicate well. And by putting them into practice, you can stay connected no matter how challenging the topic that you are talking about. You have a pretty good chance anyway. Nothing is 100% certain, right? You never know. You can do your best, and the other person might not be their best, or they might still be doing their best and it might still go poorly. But to get a really good chance of it going well, start with my free communication guide. To get that, just visit neilsattin.com/relate or text the word "relate" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Neil Sattin: Let's get on with the show and talk about sexting. Sexting, when it's done right, it can be super hot, super fun and super connecting. And when it's done not so right, then it can be really horrible and go poorly and really be disconnecting or alienating even. So, let's talk about sexting and some of the principles, 'cause I'm not going to... The way that it unfolds, and the way that it needs to unfold for you or for the person with whom you are sexting, that's going to be different based on every person. In fact, one of the things that I love most about sexting is that when it's done well, it's generally because it's following the rules of good improvisation.

Neil Sattin: Now, we've had a couple episodes on the show where we've talked about improvisation and how to do that well, and so I want to give you those episode numbers so that you can listen to them at your leisure. The first is episode number 17, which was called "Stop Worrying, Start Playing", and that was with Patti Stiles who's one of the world's foremost improv teachers. She's based out of Australia. And that was a super fun conversation. And then we had another conversation later with Cathy Salit, that was episode number 78: "How to Have More Fun in Your Relationship."

Neil Sattin: If you're not sure how to locate episodes based on number, you can scroll through your podcast app that you use, if you're using a smartphone or something like that. Or you can just go to neilsattin.com, which is the Relationship Alive website, and there's a little search magnifying glass up at the top, and you can just go - in that magnifying glass, you can type in the episode number, and it will pull up the episode for you. I'm going to do that right now just to prove that it works. I just typed in "78" and it brought up episode 178, episode 78, and then some random episodes, so I don't know what to tell you there, but it started with the right episodes.

Neil Sattin: Okay, great. Good sexting follows the rules of good improvisation. And basically what that means is first creating space for the other person to respond to you. Second, to be really paying close attention to how they are responding to you and looking for ways to amplify what they do or say or add to it. And there's some responsibility that we have as communicators in general, to be listening well, to be responding to what is actually being offered rather than off on our own tangent. And also, there's a responsibility for us to participate, like in good faith.

Neil Sattin: One of the first things about sexting that is important to establish with a person is whether or not they want to sext. Now, some people just don't. For some people, that can be a super edgy thing or it can bring up bad memories about some bad experience, so it's not like everyone necessarily right off the bat wants to be a sexting partner. It might be helpful to have a conversation. Again, download that free relationship communication guide. It might be good to have a conversation about sexting so that you know where the person who you're talking to stands, whether that person is your close intimate partner that you've been with for 10 or 20 years, or whether that person is someone who's totally new to you. Questions you might ask are things like, "Can we talk about a topic that might be a little edgy or a little risky?"

Neil Sattin: Hopefully they'll say yes, and then you might say, "I've been wondering if we can talk about sexting and what that would be like." Or, "I'm curious to know if you would ever be interested in having sexy texting time with me." There are a couple ways. Now, you can think of something that feels good for you or that feels right, or that feels right with knowing your partner. But I think it's helpful to, one, get their agreement to even have a conversation with you about something edgy so they know what's coming. And then the second thing is to make it explicit that what you're talking about is being explicit to some degree via texting.

Neil Sattin: Now, as you talk about it, if you have a conversation about it, then you'll be able to gauge how well you or your partner... How much you actually want to get explicit. And there are ways to sext that actually don't involve a single naughty word. Sometimes using the naughty words can be fun, other times you don't have to go there. And there's an important reason for that that I will tell you about in just a minute. But it's good to get a sense of whether or not someone is into that. One way is the direct way, which I just gave you. Now, a second way to explore whether or not someone might be into that would be to actually start something with them, to start a chain of potential sexting. But you gotta start off really lightly. It could be something like, "What are you wearing right now?" Something like that, especially once you have the precedent with someone of doing this sort of thing, then it might be very easy for you to just say something like that, and suddenly there you are getting each other in the mood.

Neil Sattin: But if you're not sure about another person and their willingness, and you're not sure you even want to ask them directly for whatever reason - although I gotta say, being direct is far and above the best way to go about it - then you can do a little foray into something that leaves the door open for things to be sexy, but isn't next necessarily sexy in and of itself. And I'll give you an example of that in just a moment.

Neil Sattin: Actually, I'll give that example to you now 'cause I wasn't even sure - I've had something I was going to say, but now I'm going to give you the example. So something like that might be... Oh, I remember what I was going to say. I'll say it next. You might text something like, "I was thinking of you a moment ago... " and that's it. Now, remember the whole idea of sexy texting is that you are in a conversation with the other person. So if I text you something like, "I was thinking about you just a moment ago, and I was imagining your beautiful eyes and your curves, and I was thinking about un-zipping your dress." If you just go off like that, you don't know what's going on with the other person. They might be in the middle of a business meeting, or they might be changing a child's diaper, who the hell knows. It could be something that is absolutely not sexy, and it might not be the right time for them.

Neil Sattin: So if you just kind of launch off onto your sexy talk at the wrong time, then it could be funny, and it could very well have the opposite effect of what you would be intending, which would I hope be to have a hot, fun connecting time with this other person. So you want to engage them. Something simple, "I was just thinking of you... " and then you wait. And sometimes, as one of my favorite musicians, Tom Petty, used to say, "The waiting is the hardest part." But you gotta be patient because what comes after a text like that is so important. You might get a response like, "Oh, yeah?" with a question mark, which is an invitation for you to say something more. Or you might just get a, "Oh, that's cool. What were you thinking about?" Or you might get a, "Awesome, babe, see you later," or you might get a non-response that shows you that the other person isn't really there, or they're not really ready to play with you.

Neil Sattin: And then a response like, "Oh, yeah?" that could be an invitation, that could be a, "Hmm, what's going to happen here, I might be willing to play." Or it might just be, "I'm curious, you were thinking about me, how come?" Even then, you don't want to launch right into something. In fact, you don't ever want to launch right into something, and here is why, because the most important thing that happens in sexting, and this actually might be true in any form of communication. I should really think this through, but definitely in sexting the most important thing is not what you say. The important thing is what is happening in your imagination or in your partner's imagination. This is truly one of those times where saying less could be more, because really what you're both trying to do is to go on a journey together, a journey of fantasy together.

Neil Sattin: Now, this is why sexting can sometimes be problematic when you don't really know the person, you don't know them, you haven't spent any time with them in person, you've just had some communication with them online or maybe a phone call or something like that, but you've never actually been with them, and you've never even been with them sexually like... So we'll talk for a minute about the risk of that. But right now, just know that so much of what you are trying to do is you're trying to create this shared story that's going to unfold under your fingertips and in between your ears, in other words, in your mind and in your body, because when you're sexting, you're going to be able to have a very visceral experience that incorporates most, if not all of your senses, and your own erotic energy.

Neil Sattin: So that is the important part of sexting. Knowing exactly the right thing to say or the perfect combination of words, trust me, that is not as important as saying things that inspire the other person to get into their bodies, to get into their experience, and to get into their imagination about what might be happening. For instance, if you text, "I was just thinking of you... " and the other person responds, "Oh, yeah?" Then you might say, "Yeah, I was thinking about your big broad shoulders," or "I was thinking about your deep blue eyes." Or if it's someone that you don't even know, like an online dating person, you might refer to a conversation that you've had, "Yeah, I was thinking about when you were talking about blah, blah," whatever it is, "and how that made me feel inside." Or you could refer to something, "I'm thinking about you in that red dress or you in that suit, and the way it makes me feel inside."

Neil Sattin: Now, that's a pretty edgy thing, especially if you add the, "and the way it makes me feel inside part," 'cause you're basically putting it out there like, "There's something going on, I'm thinking about you." And let's face it, any improv is a risk, and definitely sexting when you don't know if the other person is quite ready for it, or willing or wanting, it's a risk to put yourself out there. So you gotta be willing to be courageous. When you say something like that, now the door is open, and now you wait again to see how the other person is going to respond. If they start asking you questions about how you feel - where they are really with you and they're really curious - then I think most likely the game is on. If they don't respond or if they respond in a business-like manner, or if they respond in a way that leaves you really questioning over and over again, whether they're there with you, then they're probably not there with you, 'cause most people, when they're ready for something like that, it's only going to take a little bit of back and forth before it's super clear what's happening. You gotta take my word for that.

Neil Sattin: And the thing is, you don't want to force anyone into it. There's nothing quite as unsexy as trying to continually get someone into this sexy journey with you when they're not interested, so pay attention to what you're receiving, and wait and see how the other person responds. They may respond with something really forward and even graphic. If you said, "I was thinking about you with your big broad shoulders," they might say something like, "Oh, and that makes me think about wrapping my arms around you and pulling you close." Well, if someone responds that way, game on. If they say something like, "Yeah, I used to... They came in really good in rugby," then you really don't know where the person's at. They could be joking with you. They could be just being playful, or they could be not interested. And so you're going to have to take the conversation a little bit further to find out.

Neil Sattin: So if someone says, "Yeah, those shoulders came in really handy when I was playing rugby." Then you might say something like, "Tell me a little bit more about what the scrum is like...?" Isn't that what it's called in rugby the scrum? I don't know. I never played rugby, but... "Tell me more about what that's like being all huddled together." You're staying with what they offer you, which in improv is known as "yes...and". You're taking what someone gives you, and you're saying, "And something else" that goes along with what they gave you. So if someone talks about rugby, you don't want to say like, "Well, I hate rugby," or you don't want to say, "Well, let's get off the rugby field and into the bedroom." There might be a time to say something like that, when it's clear that the person is talking about more than rugby. If all they really want to tell you about is rugby, then it might be a little out of place to invite them into your imaginary bedroom. So you're going to have to take the conversation, the play, the improvisation a little bit further to see where they go.

Neil Sattin: The reason that this can be challenging when you don't know someone very well - and maybe you've had this experience in the past, I've had this experience before - where because so much of sexting and really any sort of written correspondence... This is one of the most challenging things about online dating is, so much of the interactions that happen are through the written word. We are different people when we're writing versus when we're talking, versus when we are seeing another person versus when we are right there in the flesh with another person. Those are all different modes of communication, and the way that we represent ourselves isn't always the same. Partly that's because the more removed you are from the direct experience of a person, the more you are creating that experience in your mind of the person.

Neil Sattin: So perhaps you've had that experience of having a written correspondence with someone that feels passionate and playful, and light, and sexy and engaging, and then you meet them in person and there's just no chemistry, or there's none of that fire, that playfulness or no attraction, or no interest, or no engagement, or whatever it is. Or it's just like awkward and shy and weird, and we will talk in a moment about what to do when that happens. But just recognize that the risk here, when you are sexting with someone that you don't actually know, is that you are going to be creating this whole fantasy world that might not fully be in alignment with what your experiences of that person in real life, real time, and that's challenging. Especially if you've spent days and days and days, maybe even longer, having more of a virtual relationship with a person. If you find yourself there in person and it's just not clicking, well, that can be a real downer.

Neil Sattin: In fact, maybe some relationships are just meant to be virtual. They can be fun and perfect just like that, and don't ever have to be more. That could be true. However, I think that it's more common that people will have this amazing virtual experience in real life, it won't go so well, and then the after-virtual experience just never is quite the same, 'cause so much is in the anticipation, so much is in the story that you have told yourself about the other person, about what they are like, what they look like, how they are as lovers. So, yeah, it can be challenging, whereas if you have experience with someone as an intimate partner, then you have some of that experience to draw on in terms of the picture that you paint for each other of what's happening. And also, the experience that you're creating for yourself in your head as you go through it is going to be aligned with what you naturally create with your partner in real life.

Neil Sattin: Now, sometimes you can just get a little bit into the sexting with someone that you are with in real life as a way of simply stoking the fire of something that could happen in person later. So all of that, "I was thinking of you... Blah, blah, blah." That can become, "I can't wait to see you tonight," or "Let's make sure we get the kids to bed early," or "I'm grabbing takeout so that we don't have to worry about cooking dinner," whatever it is. And in days like we have now, where you might both be sheltering-in-place in your house, even texting to each other under those circumstances can be fun because again, it is a different mode of communication, and because it allows you to take advantage of the fact that it activates your imagination and your partner's imagination.

Neil Sattin: And sometimes that's one of the hardest things about getting out of the routine and into something that's a little bit more intimate or erotic, it's because we're just... We're in the flow of something that's purely domestic, and it can be hard to change gears. So sending a little text, even when you're in the same house as someone can be a way to tap into a different part of them and their experience, and to change up the conversation and the vibe a little bit. That is if someone is willing to do this with you. I'm a big fan. I think it really activates a lot of our imagination and our eroticism, and there are things that we can text to each other that we might not ever say to each other. Sometimes that comes through in a negative way. I don't know if you've ever gotten a text from someone where you're like, "This person would never say that to me in person, but here they are texting it to me." But here it works to your advantage in a positive way where you can say things that you would never say.

Neil Sattin: And if it doesn't go so well, whatever it is you say, then you can always kinda laugh it off. So getting back to the whole process of getting started on a sexting-capade, if it's clear that the other person isn't going there with you, then the best thing to do is to just kind of blow it off with a little joke, and that could be like where you just let it go, and that's fine. Or you could be like, "Sounds like you're really busy right now." And if they say, "Yes," then you might be like, "Okay, well, I'm going to leave you alone 'cause clearly my mind was elsewhere." So you're naming it for the other person, which I think is actually a huge mark of integrity where you're not leaving them guessing, "What was that all about? Were they trying to sext with me? What was going on with them?" So you can actually say, "Hey, yeah, my mind was elsewhere, and yours isn't, and that's totally fine. That's totally okay." Yeah, you definitely want to let the other person off the hook so that they don't feel bad about it, because you don't want to create any pressure around this at all, really around anything sexual, if you can avoid it.

Neil Sattin: So, if someone is a no, then that's okay, you can be like, "Alright, no worries. I was glad to... It's good to talk to you. It's good to text with you a little bit. I just wanted to check in more than anything." And if someone is reaching out to you in that way and you want to let them down gently...If you barely know the person, and it's actually offensive, then you might not want to be so gentle. You might be like, "Wow, you're really going for it, aren't you? I'm not sure I'm ready for that kind of conversation between us," simple as that. Or if you are more intimate with the other person or you know them well, then you might be like, "I would so want to go there with you, but right now really is not the time for me. I'm so sorry, and I really appreciate that you were willing to put yourself out there like that."

Neil Sattin: So you probably heard a lot in there. There is me taking responsibility for myself. There's me naming what I think is going on with the other person. There's me appreciating them. There's me even apologizing, "No big deal. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I can't do this with you right now, but I would love to later. Thanks for bringing it up. Can I have a rain check on this conversation?" There are all sorts of ways where you can let someone down gently and still honor that they were being courageous and taking a risk. This is part of the dual responsibility in relationships. There're any number of ways that this can be illustrated, but here's one clear way where we are taking responsibility for just recognizing, "Oh, you were taking a risk, and I honor that in you," or "I'm taking a risk, and I just wanted you to know that. I'm naming that.

Neil Sattin: And these are great opportunities both for shared vulnerability in relationship, but also sharing responsibility for the moment, really owning your part in any moment that's happening goes such a long way to increasing the generosity that you both experience, because when you're taking responsibility for yourself fully, then I won't end up feeling taken for granted, because I know that you've got you and that you recognize how much work I'm putting in, how much effort, how many risks I'm taking. It's so important, 'cause in the end, it's that spirit of generosity and reciprocity that makes for good sexting. It makes for a good relationship-ing. It makes for good everything.

Neil Sattin: Now, I need to take a quick break before we dive into a little bit more of where you go, once the sexting starts happening, where you go with that. I want to tell you more about that, but before I do, I just need to mention this week's sponsor. Now, I'm not sure that they can offer you much to help you with your sexting technique. But if you are nervous about sexting or in general, you need some extra support around the things that are getting in the way of your happiness or achieving your goals, then this sponsor offers a great way that you can do that from the comfort of your own home, or from your office, or from your car, anywhere really, and their name is BetterHelp.

Neil Sattin: BetterHelp will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist. You can chat via text with your counselor at any time, and you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions all without having to go anywhere. It's more affordable than traditional offline counseling, and they do offer a financial aid if you qualify. They also offer a broad range of expertise so that you can find the person most suited to helping you with your own unique situation. So whether it's needing to muster up some courage, or dealing with depression or stress, or anxiety, trauma, whatever is up for you, try out BetterHelp to help you move past the places where you're getting stuck.

Neil Sattin: So to start living a happier life today, you can try BetterHelp. And for being a Relationship Alive listener, you can get an extra 10% off your first month. Just visit betterhelp.com/alive, and join over 800,000 people taking charge of their mental health. Again, that's betterhelp.com/alive. And, thank you so much BetterHelp for your support of our mission here at Relationship Alive.

Neil Sattin: Now, let's get into the nitty-gritty of what to do when you're in the middle, when sexting is on, when it's happening. What do you do? How do you make it sexy and keep it sexy? Now, I'm going to just give you my thoughts on this, and my experience. So, this might be different for you, and I'll do my best to cover a few different scenarios so that you might find yourself fitting into some way of doing this that I describe. Amusingly, I just glanced at the clock and I realize that I've been talking for almost 40 minutes about sexting, and who knew I had so much to say about sexting? But there's actually quite a bit to say. And, as you can tell, it branches off into so many other aspects of relationship that are so important. I love that about this topic. Every piece of it is a fractal that opens to a whole different world that's related but different.

Neil Sattin: So, what do you do? Let's go back to those conversations about sexting that we talked about at the very top of the episode. What you might want to get clear on is, what kind of language is a turn on for your partner and for yourself, and what kind of language isn't. Now we may have to get a little explicit here. If your children are for some reason listening to this episode, this would be a good time to hit pause and to resume later. I'm assuming you did that. Some people want just delicate language about sex. They don't even want genitals named.

Neil Sattin: In fact, even the word genital, if you're one of those people, it probably just turned you way off right now, they probably just want to talk about things that are a little bit more metaphorical. I'm thinking of, for some reason, a good romance novel like, "That's making me feel warm between my legs," or, "Oh, I'm getting really excited, or, "I'm feeling all this energy in my body." Or even just saying that you're getting turned on in a gentle way. Saying turned on is a little bit more gentle. "Oh, I'm feeling so turned on right now." It's a lot different than like, "Man, I want to fuck your brains out right now." Totally different.

Neil Sattin: They're essentially saying the same thing, but they're saying the same thing in a very different way. And you want to get a sense of what works for you so that you can communicate that to your partner. And you want to get a sense of what works for them, so that you can communicate to them using the language that is going to be most powerful and evocative for them. So you might talk about things like, "Well, what words do you like to use for your various body parts? What words are turn on to you? What words are turn off to you?" Those are really important things to know because when you are texting, you are in the realm of words.

Neil Sattin: You're in the realm of the words that you say, and then you're in the realm of the thoughts that those words get you to think, or get your partner to think. If you're able to have a conversation about it, or if you get a sense of where they land, or just from how you've known them to be, you could be wrong. You could think that someone is super innocent and vanilla, and find out that they really love to talk really dirty, and say really dirty things. That could be true, and you will find out as you try this out, because usually if that is true for them, and they're feeling safe with you, then they'll start by taking a risk with words like that.

Neil Sattin: When your partner offers something like that, then you get to be a "Yes, and" to it. The "and" can be steering it in a new direction. The "and" can be just going with it, even if you might not necessarily use that word, but you know that they like to use that word. It could be like, "Wow, you just said that, didn't you?" Where you're actually calling attention to what you're doing in the moment, which can be fun too. It can keep things playful. If you say to someone like, "Oh, I just want you to put your cock in me." A totally legitimate sexting response to that might be like, "Wow, you just went there, didn't you?" Now, you might want to use an emoji there, like a smiley face or a winky face or something like that, just to show that you're not being mean, that you're being playful. The goal here is to be playful and fun, and to also pay attention to what you are saying and what is being said to you, how that makes you feel in your body.

Neil Sattin: Now, I'm just going to say it right now that when you are sexting, you have license to touch yourself. Now, if you're at the office, you may need to exercise some discretion about that. Depending on the circumstances, you may just have to be totally in your imagination. But if you have a little bit of privacy, then I give you permission hereby to touch the parts of your body that feel good, to even take a break for a minute from whatever conversation you're having, and just to go into your fantasy about what is happening, and to explore that for yourself, to explore the way it makes you feel, to touch yourself in ways that feel really good, to build the pleasure in you, and to build your story about what's happening and what's unfolding in your imagination, in your experience. And then once you've done that, you can transmit that to your partner.

Neil Sattin: It's funny, some of the most hot sexting experiences that I've had that have lasted even the longest, and I've had some that I've gone pretty long - and some can be super short. But it's funny, I'll look back at them and realize that we actually didn't say a whole lot. It's like the art in sexting isn't about how much you say or how graphic you get. It's saying just the right things that evoke the pictures, the experiences for your partner, and then creating the space for them to have that experience and to appreciate it in them.

Neil Sattin: A moment ago, when I was talking about those meta moments where you might say like, "Wow, you just went there, didn't you?" I think it is really helpful to the experience to name things like, "Wow, I am so turned on right now," or "I wish you were right here next to me right now," or "Oh my God, I can't wait until you're next to me." Or if you know how it feels to be actually being sexual with the other person, you might say, "Oh, I know exactly what that's like. It feels so good." You're, of course, saying all that with your words.

Neil Sattin: Now, as you sext, I think it's a good to note on the punctuation, as silly as that sounds. I think it's really helpful to use dots like dot dot dot, and question marks, and to use those as ways of reminding the other person that you're waiting for them. Again, you don't want to just sext AT your partner unless they've asked you to do that. I could see that happening. "Just send me sexy texts. I'm not going to be able to text back to you because I'm in the middle of making dinner for the kids, but just keep sexting me up, 'cause every time I read those, I get totally turned on." So there's a case where you've been given permission to just monologue your sexting.

Neil Sattin: But for the most part, you want to constantly be creating space, so you want to offer a few things and you might... This is a great way to use pauses in your texting, so you might just text a phrase. And I gave an example of this at the very beginning. So here's another. It might be something like, "Now I trace my fingers" and hit Send. Or actually it would probably be like, "Now I trace my fingers... " Send. "Starting at your collar bone... " Send. "Working my way down... " Send. And then you might ask a question like, "Where do you want me to go?" Or, "How do you like that?" So you offer something and then you ask a question.

Neil Sattin: Now, sometimes you're going to just offer something, you don't have to always put a question at the end, you don't want to be formulaic about it. So you might be offering something and then your partner might just start texting you back, and then you're in a back and forth. So there's no hard and fast rules about how to do this, or "I need three phrases with ellipses at the end, and then a question with a question mark at the end." It doesn't work that way. If you're stuck, then sure, use those things as ways to foster your own creativity, or to help remind your partner, "Hey, I'm over here. I'm waiting for you. Are you still there?" And in fact, if you lose your partner to some sexy reverie, then you might even ask them like, "Are you still breathing over there?"

Neil Sattin: So you want to be kinda playful about it, but it's a way of reminding them like, "Hey, we're on this journey together. Where'd you go?" In this zone, this is a good time to think about painting a picture of how you want to touch your partner, how you want them to touch you, and describing it in ways that aren't too specific unless specificity is asked for. If you asked me, "Where do you want me to go?" I could respond, "Just keep going down." That's one way, or I could respond like, "I want you to grab my cock."

Neil Sattin: There's just any number of ways, or like "I want you to tease me and... " And you could leave it at that, "I just want you to tease me. What do you do next?" And now it's back in your court, so you can be like, "Oh, okay, how am I going to tease Neil?" There's all kinds of possibility there. One of the best things I think, is for you to describe something about what you like or what you want to do, and then to be an invitation to whatever comes next. Now, hopefully, that's becoming clearer. As I'm talking about this, I'm thinking "hmmm...maybe I should make a little how-to guide on sexting?" You'll be the first to know if that happens, but I'm hoping that this is giving you a lot of good pointers.

Neil Sattin: As this goes on, with you inviting each other into the dance, talking about what you're really enjoying, what feels good, what you want to do, what you want to be done, giving your partner really appreciative feedback, "Oh, like you said that, that just really... That felt so good." or, "I'm just imagining that and that's so amazing." or whatever it is. So you're giving each other feedback. In many ways, this can be great practice for being in the bedroom and learning how to communicate better as lovers when you're actually in the bedroom with each other because it's required here.

Neil Sattin: But at the same time, also allowing each other that space to be in your own experience. And if your partner is not squeamish about this kind of thing, you might even say something like, "I can't help myself. I'm just...I'm touching myself right now." Or, "Are you touching yourself? I am." And if they say, "I am, too," then you might say, "Oh, tell me a little bit about that." 'cause you can be in the fantasy world, and then you can bring people into their own experience, "Tell me about what is happening for you right now. I'm so turned on right now." "Oh, tell me more about that. Tell me more about how you're turned on. What are you thinking about? What's getting you? What's getting you the most turned on right now?" So you can learn about each other, too, by asking questions. You're asking questions, you're staying in the flow, you're ramping things up, you're getting more and more excited, and then there's the question about how you bring things to an end.

Neil Sattin: Now, if you only have like 10 or 15 minutes to begin with, then you might say that at the beginning so that you both know that you're operating within certain time constraints. If you don't have time constraints, that's a totally different thing. But if you do, then you might ask each other something really blatant like, "Do you want to come now?" And I'm trying to think of even a less direct way. You've probably got something - if we were here talking about this, and we'd come up with probably a half dozen different ways to ask the same question. Or you might offer it, if you're feeling like you don't want to. For instance, you might be like, "Just so you know, I'm totally good right now. I don't need to come but if you want to, I'm totally here for you. Tell me what you want me to do." So you're showing that you're available and you're taking responsibility for yourself. Or you might be like, "I really, really... I have to go in two minutes but I have to come before I do."

Neil Sattin: Now, for me personally... And I've talked about this on the show before. I don't like to have traditional climax orgasms all that often. I like to explore more the energetic spaces that happen, that open up when you stop having peak orgasms, and that's just one type of orgasmic experience. But there are all kinds of different nuances to how you have orgasms, and the kinds of orgasms that your body is capable of in different parts of your body, different ways of experiencing it. There's so much more than the tension, tension, tension, and then release that you can feel from a more physical climax kind of orgasm.

Neil Sattin: For me, I am often good - not necessarily ejaculating and having to clean all that up. I'm usually good not doing that. No, that's not always true but often it is. But this is something that's very personal. You might have a little conversation like, "Do you want to? Do you not want to? Do you want to just like... " If you decided you didn't want to, then you might just start transitioning your sexting into something a little bit more sweet and connected like you might have after actually having sex. For instance, you might say something like, "Let's just cuddle up and hold each other. I'll be the big spoon. What do you think about that?" So you're even in your story about what's happening. You're transitioning to a different kind of mood that allows you to just bask in everything that you've stirred up. Or again, you might be like, "This has been so amazing. I can't wait to see you later." or, "I can't wait to see you in person, whenever that happens."

Neil Sattin: Now, let's say you decide though, that you've gotten to a point where you both just want to come like crazy. Well, that's something that you can do together, too. And you can play with that like, "You want to? I want to. Alright, let's do it. Don't do it yet. Let's sync up with each other." And so you might have to figure out where you're each at and what each of you needs a little bit more of. So if you're both right there on the edge...

Neil Sattin: Now, this is something that is so funny, I think. It's not universally true, but for a lot of people, it can be a lot easier to have an orgasm when you're by yourself than when you're with another person. And so you might find that someone with whom orgasm-ing when you're actually having sex is challenging, that when you're there sexting with each other, that they're right there and ready. Hey, we know our own bodies better than other people know them, and that's why sexting can be so powerful, because so much of what's happening is happening in our own heads. And so we are really in control of how the fantasy is unfolding. We can make it unfold exactly like how we would want it to be in real life.

Neil Sattin: But then you can experiment with things like you can switch to recording yourselves, sending little audio recordings to each other. You can have a little countdown and you both are like, "Alright, we're going to count down from five, and when we get to one, we're both going to orgasm." And there are any number of ways that you can do this. But in all of those magical, "We came at the same time and the world exploded into beautiful fireworks of ecstasy" moments. You can do that in your sexting because you have that much more control over what's happening.

Neil Sattin: So I invite you to play with what feels right in the moment and to show up for each other. If you do go for the big 01 orgasm, then don't just fall asleep on your partner. Take a few moments afterwards to be, one, "How was that?" Or checking in like, "Oh my God, that felt amazing," or, "That was crazy," or whatever it is. Share with them about your experience and give them space to share about their experience, and then offer each other so much appreciation. "That was amazing. That was so fun. You're so good at that. I loved when you talked about blah, blah. Let's definitely do this again." whatever it is, offering each other lots of appreciation and good feelings so that it becomes something that can become part of your repertoire with how you nurture the erotic energy in your relationship. It can be such a useful tool if you are willing and able to go there with each other.

Neil Sattin: And lastly, yeah, you might want to offer some closing moments about how great that is or how you can't wait until you can do that in person, or how now you're going to just imagine curling up with the person, and what that feels like, or what that might feel like, and bringing your sexting to a close in a way that feels right for you. Wow. I'm sure when I go back and listen to this or read the transcript, I will realize that there's more that I could say. Oh, I remember I talked about something earlier on, I do want to cover this before we go. So what do you do if you've been sexting with someone that you don't really know all that well, and then you meet in person and it's awkward, you're not totally feeling it, what do you do? Uh-oh. What a downer.

Neil Sattin: Well, it's possible that it's not salvageable. It's possible that that's just the reality. The reality is that in-person interactions are different. And when it comes right down to it, the in-person reality of you and this other person just aren't going to work, and that's okay. You can be thankful for the fun experiences that you had in virtual space with that person and just acknowledge graciously that you're not totally feeling it. So that might be one way. Another way might be to acknowledge, particularly leading up to it, because I imagine that if you're anything like me, that if you have incredible virtual experiences with a person, then you might be a little nervous about meeting them in person. What's this going to be like? Is it going to live up to what the virtual has been like? Etcetera, etcetera.

Neil Sattin: By the way, I am a huge fan of actual phone calls or video chatting with someone. That can be a step between texting or messaging and actually meeting someone in person, so that can be a good way to get a sense of how it feels with that person. But let's say, you're nervous about it. Well, one of the best things that you can do is to just voice that for the other person. When you're there with each other, you might name it like, "Wow, I'm noticing that I'm feeling a little nervous and a little awkward." or, "Yeah, it's so weird 'cause we've shared such intimate moments virtually, and I'm realizing here in front of you that I actually don't know you at all in this way."

Neil Sattin: So talking about what your present moment experiences... You've probably heard me talk about this before, can be such a great way to connect with another person. If things are a little weird and awkward, if you're able to name it, and you're able to name the experience that you're having of that, that can help put you at ease. It can help with the other person at ease, and it just might get you to a place where you can be exploring connection again.

Neil Sattin: Again, that's not always going to work, and there's probably more I could say about that, maybe we'll do a whole segment on online dating and transitioning into real life from the online space. But that's my helpful hint for you right now, is to be able to name it as it's happening. And then another thing you can do is, you can talk about the experiences that you've shared together. So you could talk about, "Wow, when we were sexting two nights ago, that was amazing. That's one of the best sexting experiences I've ever had." You're actually building on experiences that the two of you share. "What was that like for you?"

Neil Sattin: Now you're in conversation, you're getting related, you're talking about ways that you've known each other. It could be a huge advantage that you've already opened up that erotic intimate space between the two of you, once you get over whatever awkwardness there might be about suddenly being in person when you haven't been in person before or much.

Neil Sattin: Okay. Thank you so much for being with me here today to talk about sexting, a very important topic. And just know that I'm available for practice sessions. No, just kidding. Well... No, I am just kidding. That being said, maybe the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook might be a good place to share some of your experiences around sexting or you can always email me. My email address is neilius at neilsattin dot com. I hope you've had fun day, 'cause this has been a lot of fun to talk about.

Neil Sattin: I will be back next week. Am I back next week? Next week might be... No, next week is a week off, so I'll be back the following week. I haven't quite decided yet who you're going to hear from, but we've got a couple great possible episodes on tap for you and more are always coming. Until then, take care, happy sexting, and I'll talk to you soon.

Jun 19, 2020

If you’ve got big feelings going on - overwhelm, anxiety, depression, sadness, anger - how can you discover the valuable messages they contain, and then transform them rapidly into feeling good - or even great? In today’s episode, you’ll get to listen in as David Burns helps me bust through feelings of overwhelm - teaching me powerful techniques to dissolve negative thoughts. Along with getting an up-close and personal look at my inner world, you’ll also get to hear a master guide me through the process of silencing the inner chatter that gets in my way. David Burns is the author of the classic bestseller Feeling Good, and the soon-to-be-released, Feeling Great. His TEAM-CBT approach to therapy is a powerful way to stay centered and positive, no matter what’s going on in your world.

If you want to listen to our first episode together, where David Burns and I spoke about how to apply his work in relationships (based on his book Feeling Good Together), here is a link to Episode 98: How to Stop Being a Victim - Feeling Good Together - with David Burns

If you want to listen to our second episode together, where David Burns and I spoke about how to recognize and deal with cognitive distortions, here is a link to Episode 133: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life - Cognitive Distortions with David Burns

And our most recent episode together, Episode 226, covers What Matters and What Doesn’t when it comes to making positive changes in your life and relationships.

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! 

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources: 

Check out Dr. David Burns's website

Read David’s classic books, Feeling Good or Ten Days To Self-Esteem

Pre-Order David’s newest book: Feeling Great - The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide www.neilsattin.com/feelinggood4 Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with David Burns, along with the Daily Mood Log.

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

Transcript:

David Burns: So tell me about... We'll start out with some team therapy here... And you've got the things I sent you?

Neil Sattin: I did, yeah. And can you turn your video on so I can see you?

David Burns: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I don't know it wasn't on. Oh, yeah. Here we go. Yeah. There we go. Great.

Neil Sattin: There you are.

David Burns: Yeah. Okay. Tell me how you've been feeling?

Neil Sattin: So I've been noticing that I've been feeling... I would characterize it as feeling overwhelmed, that there are too many things to organize. There's even a little bit more chaos in my life now with being confined, more or less to my home and having responsibility to homeschool my children. On top of that, there are a lot of projects that I'm trying to manage and those could be in my business and the podcasts and all of that. Or they could be personal projects like organizing my home or making sure I stay well-nourished and get enough exercise. So lately, I've been noticing that it just feels like the volume has become really loud and I would say that I've never been necessarily the most organized person from... If you had the perspective of organization, meaning everything is neat and tidy and you have your days planned out exactly how they're going to go, that's not me or my approach to organization. It's been generally a little bit more organic in how it unfolds. And that can work up to a certain level of complexity. But once things start to get more complex, I've been... Especially with the state of the world over the past few weeks, I've been just noticing that I want to shut down, instead of feeling like I'm really rising to that complexity with more resourcefulness. Yeah.

David Burns: Before we go on, let me see if I got it right, because it sounds like what I was telling you, I have been confronting...

Neil Sattin: Oh, yeah.

David Burns: Recently.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: That you've been feeling overwhelmed, because you're just getting too many things that have to be organized. And now that you're confined to home, you've got homeschooling, which it takes a lot of energy and effort and personal projects and business projects, many of which are probably fun and exciting. But it just feels like the volume has become loud. You're... There's too much stuff happening. And then on top of that, you're feeling like you're not organized, that you don't work in that kind of obsessive manner, but at an intuitive organic manner. Just like today, for example and I do the same thing. I'm supposed to work on my app with some colleagues. I told them, "Well, I've got something really great going on here with Neil but I'll pick up with you later in the day". But that... And so I don't like to have a schedule. I like to work intuitively. In my office, I have things piled up all over in here.

Neil Sattin: Out of view of the camera right now. Just... [chuckle]

David Burns: Yeah, yeah. I could show you stacks, this high, on my desk of stuff but it's quasi organized, but I let it get disorganized and then once a week, I try to force myself to file things and then I feel much, much better. But I like to make things happen and just set things down, when I'm done with them. It sounds like a little of that is happening to you. You like things to unfold organically. Then when there's too much and everything gets complex and too demanding to keep up on top of all of these multiple things happening, at the same time, you feel like you just want to maybe shut down and escape. And maybe a little like myself. Sometimes I think, "Gee, do I need a nap? Do I need another fantastic podcast or a good podcast, or whatever"? Little Misty, a feral cat we adopted, she'll swing by and rub up against my legs and give me a meow saying, "Time for some candy or some lovees. Do you have some time, daddy"? I find myself feeling really torn and wanting to spend more time on some things of that level. Did I get it right so far?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. And right down to the... It ends up feeling a little bit like procrastination or the... Here's an example and this is just one of many things. I did two live events last year, that I mentioned to you. One: Terry Real came here to Portland, Maine and the other John and Julie Gottman came here and both of them I filmed and I've been wanting to get the films... The videos edited and out the door so that people can see them. Honestly, that could be a source of revenue for me to make up for the cost of filming both of those things.

David Burns: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: And the Gottman event... That's two-and-a-half hours. So really all I've needed to do is take two-and-a-half or three hours and sit down and watch it and come up with some notes and send them to my video guy. I've had that sitting on my desk, so to speak... My virtual desk since October, when the event happened. Obviously, I've had three hours, but I can think of a million other things I've done with my three hours. And I think when the volume increases like I was talking about, then so does the visibility of all the things that aren't getting done, like I start... And then it becomes really hard to prioritize because each thing calls loudly to me.

Neil Sattin: Oh, there's this thing you haven't done that you could have done three months ago, and then there's this other thing, and for me, I end up just doing what I need to do. So every week I need to create a podcast. That's important to me and I've managed to do that, more or less, except for in the depths of when my marriage was ending. I had to stop for a minute or two there. But for the most part, I'm getting that done, but all the ways that I want to grow my practice and my work and just myself as a human, I end up feeling like I'm falling short.

David Burns: Right. I'm sorry to hear about your marriage ending. I can imagine that was a source of angst and stress, but you're saying that in a way you feel like you're procrastinating, but what the issue is, is that you have all these creative things that you could do, like listen to the Gottman event up in Maine so that you could think about how to edit it and maybe market it, get some extra revenue. Could be exciting, generate interest among your fans, generate more fans. But there's so many of these maybe cool exciting things that you could be doing, you're noticing all these things that you could be doing there that you say they shout out to you, they're all worthwhile and interesting. But you find that you have to take what energy you have just to do the things you have to do, like doing the essentials, doing a podcast every week, and you're not feeling the motivation, or maybe even having the time and resources, to do probably a significant list of really cool things that you could be doing, probably most of which would be reasonably successful if not tremendously successful.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, that's the dream, is that each of those things, they come with the allure of the impact that it could make or the... I think when I look at everything that I'm doing... I used the word "organic" earlier, and my life has evolved organically in a way that generally I look at and I think, "Wow, this is beautiful," and I look back at everything that's come together and woven its way together to create what happens now. I worked in technology for a long, long time, and so much of what I do now would have been a lot more challenging if I didn't have that background. And I can also look at each of these ideas and think, wow, that could be amazing or that could be a piece of this puzzle, and the puzzle starts to take shape in front of me, and that gets exciting.

David Burns: I have an idea, let's not work together on any project, because that's what's happening to me too. And these things expand exponentially. All of your skills start coming together, and then you start thinking, wow, I could do this and I could do that and I could do this and I could do that. What you're saying is that there's an allure, a dream that your life has evolved organically and it's kinda coming to fruition on many different levels, and the things that you worked hard to learn are now available to be creating things that would just have a tremendous beneficial impact on others and benefits for yourself. But maybe you're saying, "Oh my gosh, do I really want to have to do all of that right now?"

Neil Sattin: Right. There's some... Well, you know what, the voice that actually... That I hear is something like... I've never been able to be that organized, and so... It's like... I'm not sure I can. So it's almost like there's that hesitation... I'm trying to think of what the image is that's coming to me, but it's like... There are any number of starting gates, like there's the starting gate of finishing the projects or there's the starting gate of, let's just create a meal plan so that I'm a little... I feel a little bit more organized around my nutrition and nourishment. Any one of those starting gates, I find myself caught a moment before that where I'm like, wow, I could go that way, I could go that way... And even when I step up to one, I'm often hearing the call of the others.

Neil Sattin: You talked about the magic button earlier in our conversation and for me, the magic button would be like the elf that somehow knows exactly where this is all going and just shows up every day with my daily agenda, and says, "You just do these things, and trust me, and it's all going to work out just fine."

Neil Sattin: And all I would have to do is those things and everything that I wanted to get done would happen, and the structure to support my personal wellness, as well as the wellness of my clients and listeners and the wellness of my business and my children and that would just ripple out just from taking those actions. And what's funny is that I know that it all boils down to what you do in any given moment like, that's what life is, life is how you... What you do in this moment and then in the next moment. Sometimes that just feels like the biggest hurdle to me and it matters more now than ever because of that additional chaos that's in the system.

David Burns: Yeah. So, in an ideal world that you're having a little elf bring you a Do-list every day, and the elf has figured out what are the essentials and the order in which to do them in order to fit everything in, and then it's all going to kind of ripple out and all these wonderful things are going to happen. But then you're saying, life is a Series of Moments and it's kind of hard for you to get on board and feel motivated to tackle all these things, because once you think of... Well, let's work on the starting gate, or let's create an eating plan. And then once you think about stepping up and working on that, you start hearing the call of all these other things that you should be doing and maybe end up feeling or getting a bit paralyzed. Can I suggest we switch just temporarily to The Daily Mood Log? Do you have one there? And at the top it says, "upsetting event" and that could just be like, could be this morning or right now or you know.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I would, for an upsetting event let's just say, an upsetting event would be a day that's gone by where I didn't... Where I feel like I didn't get enough done.

David Burns: Okay, okay, so is that right now, feeling like yesterday, you didn't get enough done?

Neil Sattin: Sure.

David Burns: Okay, so put that on the upsetting event, day when I didn't, I didn't get enough done and just write that down.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'm actually...

David Burns: You did already?

Neil Sattin: I didn't yet, but I'm opening this in a little PDF editor things that I can...

David Burns: Oh, okay.

Neil Sattin: Edit and write on the document, so...

David Burns: Okay, great.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: And then, do you see... That's an obviously upsetting event but now we want to see what your emotions are, and the first category is sad, blue, depressed, down, unhappy. Were you feeling some of those?

Neil Sattin: Definitely.

David Burns: Tell me me which ones and I'll circle them or maybe you can circle them or highlight them.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I would say kind of down and unhappy. Those...

David Burns: And how strong are those between zero and a hundred?

Neil Sattin: So yeah, at the end of a day, I'd say it's like an 85 or 90.

David Burns: Okay then, put 85-90, in the "percent now column."

Neil Sattin: Okay.

David Burns: And see that's important because, just a minor point, you're such a warm, upbeat person.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: So people interacting with you wouldn't know that you're feeling that unhappy inside, that's why it's great to measure 'cause that's almost, most intense unhappiness a human being can have. Do you feel anxious, worried, panicky, nervous or frightened?

Neil Sattin: Yes. [laughter]

David Burns: Okay. All of them?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I mean, if I touch in to worried, maybe a little less worried a little more on the panicky side, a little more on the nervous side a little less on the frightened side.

David Burns: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: But it's all definitely there.

David Burns: And anxious?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, anxious for sure.

David Burns: And how strong does that get between the 80... Zero and a hundred?

Neil Sattin: I would say... Well, if I compare that to sadness, I would have actually said that that's a little bit more.

David Burns: Sure.

Neil Sattin: So maybe the sadness is more like 80 to 85 and then the anxious is more like 85 to 90, but...

David Burns: Okay.

Neil Sattin: At the end of the day when I'm feeling that feeling of like, "Oh I didn't get enough done." Then yeah, there's kind of, the sadness that comes with that and then, yeah, there's the anxiety of like, "I work for myself and I'm also in charge of my own showing up for my life." And yeah, there's that sense of like, "Oh, if I don't do this, no one's going to do this for me." So it's all dependent on me. Yeah. So right, that was a long-winded way of saying 85 to 90 as well.

David Burns: Great, great! Now, do you feel guilty, remorseful, bad, or ashamed?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I would say... Probably, mostly... Yeah, there's definitely... You're a capable person, you should be able to do this and figure this out.

David Burns: By the way, I'm also writing down negative thoughts in the negative thought column and I just wrote down, "I should be able to do this and figure this out." And when that thought goes through your mind, how strongly do you believe it between zero and 100?

Neil Sattin: That I believe I should be able to figure this out?

David Burns: Mm-hmm.

Neil Sattin: That's a 100, yeah, for sure.

David Burns: Okay, so I'm going to put 100 in the percent now column, the belief column. And again, you were about to tell me how guilty, remorseful, bad or ashamed, do you have those feelings.

Neil Sattin: I'm starting to feel guilty that these are also high. But yeah, I would just put that all, again, in 85 to 90.

David Burns: Okay, great.

Neil Sattin: I always feel like I've got the glimmer of... There is always that piece of me that's like, "It's all going to be okay, you're fine." So that still lives in those moments.

David Burns: Sure, sure. But that's really intense, the guilt and shame and feeling bad. And then, do you feel inferior, worthless, inadequate, defective or incompetent.

Neil Sattin: Shit, yeah, I do.

David Burns: All of them or some of them or...

Neil Sattin: No wonder this is so horrible.

David Burns: Yep.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I wouldn't say worthless. I would say, it's probably inadequate, defective, not incompetent, yeah.

David Burns: Okay.

Neil Sattin: Somewhere in there.

David Burns: How strong are those?

Neil Sattin: That's more probably like the 65% to 70% range.

David Burns: Okay, and do you feel lonely, unloved, unwanted, rejected, alone or abandoned?

Neil Sattin: That, I do not feel as much.

David Burns: Okay, we'll put a zero there. Do you feel embarrassed, foolish, humiliated or self-conscious?

Neil Sattin: I would make that a 50.

David Burns: Which feelings? Embarrassed, foolish, humiliated, self-conscious?

Neil Sattin: Well, it's only in my own eyes. I don't think anyone else really... Except now, of course, everyone who's listening knows this is what Neil goes through at the end of a day where he hasn't got enough time...

David Burns: This is very courageous...

Neil Sattin: Yeah, this is the reality...

David Burns: What you're doing. It'll be interesting to see what kind of feedback you get...

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: I bet you'll get an overwhelming number of fan responses.

Neil Sattin: We'll see. Yeah, so I would say embarrassed, not foolish, not so much self-conscious, but humiliated. Yeah, that's why it's sort of in that range.

David Burns: Okay 50.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'd say 50, yeah.

David Burns: You feel hopeless, discouraged, pessimistic, despairing?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, definitely not despairing, discouraged for sure. That's the one that jumps out of me most and...

David Burns: How strong is that?

Neil Sattin: I would say that's an 85.

David Burns: Great, great.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: And then, do you feel... Oh, by the way, I could have recorded this at my end.

Neil Sattin: I'm recording.

David Burns: Okay. Then I could have sent you my recording, so you would have a local, higher quality.

Neil Sattin: No, we're good, we're good, I think.

David Burns: Okay, that's great.

Neil Sattin: You're coming through loud and clear.

David Burns: Oh, good. Do you feel frustrated, stuck, thwarted or defeated?

Neil Sattin: That's probably like a 95%.

David Burns: And all of those are...

Neil Sattin: All of them, yeah.

David Burns: Yeah, and do you feel angry, mad, resentful, annoyed, irritated, upset or furious?

Neil Sattin: I'm annoyed and irritated. Yeah, and those are probably in the 70% range.

David Burns: Right. Any other emotions that I haven't asked about? So far, we got sad and down and unhappy. We've got the whole anxiety cluster, intense. We've got the guilty and shame clusters, intense. A little inadequate and defective and a little embarrassed and humiliated quite a bit, actually, and very discouraged, 85 and frustrated, 95 and annoyed and irritated, 70. Anything else like overwhelmed?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I mean if we add overwhelmed in there, that would be super high if it gets its own category.

David Burns: Yep.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'd put that at 95%.

David Burns: 95, great. Now, let me ask you what some of your negative thoughts are when you're feeling this way or even at this moment like you said, "I should be able to figure this out." And you believe that 100. You also said "No one will do this for me." That's probably not a distorted thought. I jotted it down. And then "I'm not sure I can be that organized." That's a good negative thought. How much do you believe that one?

Neil Sattin: I would put that at probably 85%.

David Burns: 85, great. And what are some more of your negative thoughts when you're feeling down, guilty, anxious, defective, embarrassed?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, it would be things like I'm failing.

David Burns: Failing, yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: How much do you believe that one?

Neil Sattin: In those moments?

David Burns: Mm-hmm.

Neil Sattin: That would be 90%-95%.

David Burns: 95 and I wrote that down. "I'm failing." That's an excellent one. What are some more negative thoughts, things that you tell yourself?

Neil Sattin: Oh good. I'm seeing, this goes on to another page. I was like "I'm going to run out of space."

David Burns: We got more Daily Mood Logs too.

Neil Sattin: Time. Like there's not enough time, or there's no way that I can... There's no way I will be able to do this is maybe. There's not enough time. They kinda overlap with each other a little bit.

David Burns: You'll make that one thought, "There's not enough time and no way I can do all of this." How is that?

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: And then how much do you believe that one?

Neil Sattin: Yeah like 100.

David Burns: Hundred. Sure.

Neil Sattin: 100%. [chuckle]

David Burns: Sure. And what are some more... That's kind of the discouraged thought and the frustrated thought. What's the inadequate and defective thought?

Neil Sattin: Well, that I'm not capable of doing this, that's definitely the defective there is.

David Burns: Yep, sure.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: Let's write that down number... That's thought number five I think.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: I'm not capable of doing this. And then, what is this defined as?

Neil Sattin: This is... Okay, so this could be two things. This could be getting organized and executing on that.

David Burns: Yeah, okay.

Neil Sattin: Or this could be sort of the result, like I'm not capable of the success or the goals that I want.

David Burns: Achieving my goals.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: Okay, great. And then that's a really well-stated one. And how much do you believe that between zero and 100, "I'm not capable of getting organized. I'm not capable of achieving my goals."

Neil Sattin: In those moments, it's not how I live my day. Though I guess I do come in and out of that. It's so wild to just really kinda see that in front of me that way. I would put that in an 85 or 90.

David Burns: Yeah 90. By the way, it's like going in and out of a trance. Like when you get in there it seems totally true.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: And then when you recover, it's such a radical shift. It's like you're in almost, you're in a different reality.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, that makes sense to me.

David Burns: Any other negative thoughts? We've got some super ones here.

Neil Sattin: Let me just see if anything else jumps out at me. I don't know, this one feels kind of risky to say. My father was right.

David Burns: Great, okay. And tell us what that means, how you're feeling right at this moment.

Neil Sattin: Well, I can hear his voice at a young age accosting me around like, "You gotta figure this out. You gotta clean your room. You gotta get organized. You'll never succeed if you can't figure this out." I hear that. And on the flip side of it, there's a part of me that would love his blessing in terms of what I do with my life. And it might shock people to learn that I don't... I definitely haven't gotten it explicitly. Whether he does feel it and he's just keeping it to himself, that's possible. But my father, his career, he was a clinical psychologist, and there have just been a lot of times where I have wished that he could also see the value in what I do, and how I'm showing up in the world and how I'm contributing.

David Burns: Is he still alive?

Neil Sattin: He is. Yeah.

David Burns: Do you feel sad when you think about that or angry or...

Neil Sattin: Yeah, we could do a whole nother mood log on that one. [chuckle]

David Burns: Sure.

Neil Sattin: But yeah for sure, it's a source of sadness and anger that I've dealt with for most of my adult life. And because he's alive, I hold out the hope that at some point there will be some sort of redemption in that way, but it hasn't happened yet.

David Burns: Yeah. Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, there's a lot about... And just to be clear, I think I said this one other time when I talked about my dad on the show, I love him dearly, and then there are things about him that I just don't understand and that aren't... I may never understand them. There's a level of opaqueness in terms of how he lives his life and his choices and I guess I'm just... I would just like a little bit more from him, a little more engagement and support.

David Burns: Well I feel sad and really close to you based on what you're saying right now, what you said the entire time we've been talking. And I can identify with it on a personal level too because I've been experiencing a little conflict with my own son. Just yesterday kind of erupted a little bit and we were both pretty angry with each other and feeling unappreciated and unloved and we're trying to talk it out a little bit. But there was such an explosive level of anger, like it wasn't working. And he also loves me a lot and really admires what I've done, but maybe doesn't always feel like his dad appreciates him. Very, very similar to what you're saying. And I was kind of at wits' end and very anxious and feeling kind of ashamed too and hurt. And he was sitting at the dining room table doing some work with a colleague and on an impulse, I know he likes physical touch, and so I just went up and started massaging his shoulders and he indicated he was really loving that and then I just kind of leaned over on his back and hugged him, and then he got up and turned around gave me a wonderful hug.

David Burns: It was really a beautiful moment. And sometimes I think that out of intense anger, if you hang in there in a relationship, then really, really beautiful things can happen. But I'm sure it was so painful for him and has been painful for him to feel like his dad doesn't really appreciate him. And I'm so filled with admiration for him and his ethical qualities, his idealism, his incredible, technical skills, his love, his work ethic. But it's so easy for fathers and sons to disconnect and sometimes never connect. My dad was a Lutheran minister and he was... I just admired him when I was little and loved him so much and thought I'd be a minister. And then we kind of drifted apart and I began to see things that really hurt me and turned me off and so, we never really did reconcile. I felt kind of judged, and he was very rigid. And if you don't believe in Jesus, you're going to go to hell, and stuff that seemed harsh to me. But I'm sure you'll find a way to connect with your dad. But I can certainly identify with how incredibly painful that is for you and you have achieved such a fantastic amount - if a father could ever have a son to be proud of, you're the son and I can see you're hurting an awful lot.

Neil Sattin: Thank you. Yeah. I just want to say too that the space exists between you and your son to be able to do that and that you would recognize his love language and show up in that way is such a gift. And it was really moving to hear you describe that.

David Burns: I felt really lucky that that happened. Generally, there's a path to intimacy when you're upset with people. I have the philosophy, the more angry or hurt you feel with someone, the more fantastic potential for a loving connection and reconciliation and more, but it's like, what is the path? That's a conversation for another day. But, "My father was right," when you say that, how much believable is that?

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so in those...

David Burns: Let me unplug my phone here. Sorry. I've just unplugged it. Yep.

Neil Sattin: In those moments, "My father was right," that's 85 or so.

David Burns: 85, sure. Yeah, I feel so close to you right now and I think many people are going to be touched by the reality and the openness and vulnerability you're bringing to this and probably to all of your podcasts. Any other negative thoughts?

Neil Sattin: Well, the only other one that really jumps out for me would be something like, I'm going to be... I'll be unhealthy, weak and broke. That that's what's going to happen.

David Burns: Oh great, and then how much do you believe that one?

Neil Sattin: That's less. So, I would say, that's in the 60%-65%.

David Burns: 65. So just to review your negative thoughts in reverse order, "I'm going to be unhealthy, weak and broke. My father was right about me. I'm not capable of getting organized and achieving my goals. There's not enough time and no way I can do all of this, all the things I have to do and all the things I want to do. I'm failing. I should be able to do this and figure this out and I'm not really sure I can be that organized, organized enough to do all the things on my plate." And then, perhaps the "No one will do this for me." You had mentioned zero on lonely, unloved, unwanted, rejected, alone and abandoned. But when you say "No one will do this for me," does that cause some feelings of being alone at all or not? You gave a zero...

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I guess so. I guess it's true. Yeah, there's that sense of like, "I'm in this by myself." Yeah.

David Burns: Yep.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: And then, when you have that thought, then how alone would you be feeling?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, like an 80.

David Burns: An 80.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: Okay, good. And so, you're feeling overwhelmed, irritated, frustrated, discouraged, embarrassed, alone, inadequate, guilty, ashamed maybe, intensely anxious and very sad, down and unhappy. So how am I doing right now in terms of getting you an understanding how you're thinking and how you're feeling? And to what extent are you feeling the sense of compassion or acceptance, if you were to grade me on empathy, so far, would you give me A, a B, a C, a D?

Neil Sattin: I'd give you an A for empathy, yeah. I feel like going through this, it helps me see myself for one thing and what's happening in those moments and the attention that you're giving to the language that I'm using, and encouraging me to get specific and telling me about your experience with your son and your dad, and really kind of pausing with me in that. Yeah, I feel seen.

David Burns: Okay, we've kind of... Just from a brief teaching point of view. We've done the T, because we've done testing. We know exactly how you're feeling and we'll do that again at the end of the session, and we've done some empathy. Now, we want to take a look at A: Assessment of resistance, and let me ask you this question. You've talked about some things that are very powerful, and very personal and very important. And there's something here that you would want help with. And is this a good time for us to get to work or do you need more time to talk and have me listen and provide support? Because that's important and I don't want to jump in prematurely.

Neil Sattin: I think that both my excitement for being able to do this with you and my frustration at how persistent this has been, leads me to want do the work.

David Burns: Okay. Now, let me ask you this question, suppose at the end of our session today, you say, "Well, that was better than French fries," or something like that, and a miracle happens. What miracle would you be hoping for? What change... If this was a really wonderful experience, what would change by the end of our session?

Neil Sattin: Okay, if a miracle were to happen, then I would feel totally capable. I'd have a sense of how to prioritize and where to start. And I would feel like a certain measure of trust in the path and the unfolding that I could see it... I could see how it's all going to work, how it's all going to be okay, yeah.

David Burns: Okay, that's a good goal. Now, let me ask you to imagine that we have a magic button. I can send you a nice red magic button if you want for your show notes. Someone in my Tuesday class, her husband is a graphic guy and he made a magic button, a red magic button for me. It's very neat looking. But if we have this magic button, let's say, if you pressed it, all your negative thoughts and feelings would instantly disappear in a flash. And you become euphoric and you'd feel joy and confidence and trust and you'd feel totally capable. Would you press the magic button?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I definitely would.

David Burns: Oh, okay. That's what most people say. And I don't have a magic button but I've got some really wonderful techniques. But I'm not sure it would be a good idea to use those techniques and cause all these negative thoughts and feelings to disappear, that there might be some unanticipated losses there. And so, if you can take a piece of paper and put positives on it and we're going to make a list of positives and we're going to ask two questions about each negative feeling, or negative thoughts as well as you like, and we're going to ask two questions about it.

David Burns: What are some benefits or advantages of this type of negative feeling, like feeling sad, feeling anxious, feeling guilty, whatever? And the second question is, What is this kind of feeling show about me and my core values as a human being, that's a beautiful and awesome and positive? So this is the opposite of the way most mental health professionals and people look at it. We say, "Oh, Neil has this defect this problem that that has to be fixed. This is all the stuff that's wrong with you." And I'm going to go in the opposite direction here and see what this shows about you, that's really quite the opposite of defective. Let's just start out with sad, down and unhappy. You're feeling 85% sad, down, and unhappy. So, what does that show about you that's beautiful, positive and awesome? Show about you and your core values? You're sad because...

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

David Burns: You have a lot of exciting projects that you're not getting to, among other things.

Neil Sattin: Right, I mean... Sorry, I'm just making a note here. That... For me, that shows that I... Well, on one level that I'm ambitious.

David Burns: Okay, so let's just stop for a second.

Neil Sattin: Okay.

David Burns: Put down ambitious.

Neil Sattin: Okay.

David Burns: The sadness shows that... Is that real? Is that true? Are you ambitious?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I am ambitious. Yeah.

David Burns: Is that a good thing?

Neil Sattin: I think so, yeah.

David Burns: Is that important?

Neil Sattin: It's super important.

David Burns: Is that powerful?

Neil Sattin: It's part of what drives me.

David Burns: Yeah it's part of what... And you've achieved a lot. Could we add that too?

Neil Sattin: Add what?

David Burns: Your ambition has caused you to achieve.

Neil Sattin: For sure. Yeah.

David Burns: Is that important?

Neil Sattin: Very important.

David Burns: Okay, let's add, have achieved a lot. And just to bracket it, for our listeners because this is so new to people even mental health professionals, some have not been able to learn how to do this, they're so used to thinking about these things as bad. But notice if you press the magic button, you'll become euphoric, euphoric about the fact that there's all these projects you're not getting to. You see what I mean? Sadness...

Neil Sattin: Right, 'cause I feel excited. I would just feel like, "Okay I'm going to... I will, I am going to do these things."

David Burns: Right, and that's a benefit. But at the same time if you weren't feeling sad, it would be like you didn't value these things.

Neil Sattin: Right.

NOTE - This transcript, like this episode, is very LONG. The rest of the transcript is available for download by clicking the button below (or visiting the webpage that this episode is on, and clicking the button to download the transcript).

Jun 6, 2020

How do we confront our blind spots and tackle the ways that racism and privilege affect our relationships, our lives, our society? And...our podcasts? This week's episode is not meant to be a complete answer to those questions - just a beginning to the conversation. So today you'll hear more about the "hidden agenda" of Relationship Alive - how what you've been learning is a crucial part of taking care of yourself as we change the world. And how racism has impacted my journey - and the evolution of the Relationship Alive podcast. Yes, let's all be part of the solution. I can - and will - do better. It's that important. #blacklivesmatter

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. I'm doing a little bit of a different episode this week than what I had planned. If you tuned in last week to my show with David Burns, then you know that this week was intended to be an episode that was going to be a session that David did with me around being overwhelmed. And it's an important episode if you are interested in hearing how David Burns uses his methodology, Team CBT, as a way to help me work through a problem that many of us are going through these days, which is being overwhelmed by just the sheer amount of things that are happening in our world today.

Neil Sattin: So it's an important episode. And yet I couldn't sit by and not address what is literally happening in our world, in our communities along with the pandemic right now. Which is responding to systemic racism and white privilege along with police violence towards black people, toward minorities, toward protesters. I couldn't be silent, and I wanted to talk to you about it this week. Generally, I've tried to keep Relationship Alive fairly non-political. And the reason behind that is because I feel that the purpose of Relationship Alive is inherently political, even though we're talking about how to have successful relationships. It expands beyond what we do with our partners with our spouses, it expands to the world around us to how we are with our kids with our parents with our extended family with our friends, with our co-workers with the authorities in our lives.

Neil Sattin: So, I've always viewed Relationship Alive as being something that is contributing to the overall betterment of society, not just in being able to experience more love with your partner, but also to experience more love, and harmony with your fellow humans. And granted that's not possible all the time. And yet in this moment, this is really the first time that I've felt called to not be silent to be explicit in my own personal support for Black Lives Matter. For the idea that our skin color doesn't determine who we are in this world, and that there should be racial equity in terms of how our society functions, and it just isn't that way. It just isn't.

Neil Sattin: So, in today's episode, I'm going to give you a little bit of my own personal story, my own background here, and I'm going to talk a little bit about Relationship Alive and some obvious things that you may have noticed. I want to address them head on, because they're important in terms of recognizing just how pervasive white privilege is in our world, and in how we recognize who the experts are and who they're not. And I want to tackle that head on. So that's what today's show is going to be about, a little bit from me personally, and a little bit of a statement about what direction we're going to head in this show. But first, I just want to remind you that Relationship Alive is an offering for you to help you have an amazing relationship. And as I just said, my hidden agenda is to help the world be a better place. So if you are finding the show to be helpful, then please consider a contribution. Anything... Any little bit counts.

Neil Sattin: And today I want to thank these listeners who have made a contribution to help support Relationship Alive. Their names are Sylvia, Angie, David, Margot, Drew, Lydia, and Valerie, Keerthi and Jewels. Thank you all so much for your generous and ongoing support of Relationship Alive and our mission. And if you want to make a contribution, just visit neilsattin.com/support or text the word "support" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Neil Sattin: In today's world, we could all use some help communicating with each other and I've actually put together a guide with my top three relationship communication strategies to help you connect to another person, no matter how challenging the thing is that you are trying to connect with them about. It's relevant today. Figuring out how to communicate with so much polarization in the world. To download the free guide just visit neilsattin.com/relate or text the word "relate" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Neil Sattin: We do have a Facebook group where listeners gather to create a safe space for others and for you to talk about relationship-related matter, and that's the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook. And if you have questions, you can email them to questions at relationshipalive.com, and what's super awesome is if you record yourself asking the question, then I can hear you and I can answer you here on the show.

Neil Sattin: So I think that's it for the business that I need to cover. Let's dive in to this topic of racism and racial equity, and I think I just want to give you a little bit of my own just personal background, personal perspective on this. I grew up being raised Jewish in a predominantly Christian community. And for the most part, even though it was, it was weird to be othered. It was something that I was fortunate that I never really felt victimized by that I never felt any anti-Semitism growing up that I can recall. And I took it upon myself to talk to my classmates, my school mates about being Jewish and what that meant to me and what our traditions were. And part of being Jewish at least the way that I was raised was also an awareness of our history as a people, and in particular the ways that Jews have been persecuted throughout the history of the world and in terms of recent history, in terms of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.

Neil Sattin: So I had a consciousness even as a young child of what that meant to come from a community that had been singled out for death. Now fortunately, I never experienced that. And growing up here in the States, I felt for the most part pretty safe and being Jewish is not something that is visible, for the most part to other people. I did have an interesting moment when I was in my 20s, and I was at a cousin's bar mitzvah at a university. They hosted the bar mitzvah at the university. And if you don't know a bar mitzvah is like a coming of age ceremony for Jewish kids at the age of 13.

Neil Sattin: A Bar or a Bat Mitzvah. If you are a girl. It's about being ushered in to being a responsible adult in the eyes of the community. And so I was at a cousin's bar mitzvah and I was looking around and I noticed something that I had never noticed before which was that the people who were surrounding me, who were mostly students at this university, because there was an actual synagogue on the campus of the University - which was something I hadn't experienced. I went to predominantly Christian liberal arts school out on the West Coast.

Neil Sattin: And so I was looking around and I noticed that the people that I was looking at actually looked a lot like me, and I had never really thought about myself as looking any different, from anyone else. Again, this kind of veers into this notion of white privilege because there was nothing obviously different about me, but I did notice - Oh. There is something about me and where I come from, that makes me look a little bit different than, for instance, the people in the community where I grew up, who were predominantly either French-Canadian or from Ireland, with a few English people thrown in there.

Neil Sattin: So that was the community that I grew up in. And not universally true. There were exceptions to the rule, but I looked different than they did and that explains in some respects, some of the experiences that I think I had when I was a kid. That again, weren't about anyone consciously singling me out or not singling me out, but I think it plays into the ways that we perceive other people in our lives. We are used to people who look like us who act like us, who talk like us use the language we do or the languaging, if we speak the same language, but we use different kind of ways of pronouncing things or different idioms. We are geared towards looking for where we're similar, and how that makes us safe and in some respects, the way that our differences might bring us danger.

Neil Sattin: And I think there's more for me to learn about this because my guess is that on some level, there are some things that are hard-wired into our system to be suspicious of something that's different than us as a means of protection. Now, that doesn't mean that we are in danger at all, at all. It's about something that we've talked about here on the show a lot, which is noticing the ways that our body responds. That physiologically, we are having a response to the world around us and being able to respond to that in choice.

Neil Sattin: To not be victims to our own physiology. So, in the ways that we are carrying around our own trauma or the trauma of generations, or the trauma of things that we see around us, whatever that is, that we're carrying with us, when we are triggered, in the moment, it is worth paying attention to what's happening in our bodies so that we can respond, so that we can regulate ourselves and bring ourselves back to being in relationship with the people who are around us.

Neil Sattin: So while I was "other" I was definitely privileged as well. My parents were educated. We lived in a very peaceful suburban community where things were relatively pretty safe. I wasn't worried about whether there was going to be food on the table and I definitely wasn't worried about if I rode around town, on my bike at any hour of day I wasn't worried about being accosted by police officers thinking that maybe I was up to no good. I might have had to worry the times that I was up to no good, but I definitely wasn't going to get singled out, just because of how I looked. And I wasn't in danger because of how I looked. And so I got to grow up feeling relatively safe and secure, in a world that a lot of people don't feel safe and secure in and I'm aware of that.

Neil Sattin: Now. One thing that's interesting, as I think back on my own upbringing, I watched a lot of Saturday morning cartoons. There was this whole thing that maybe you've seen or was maybe was part of your life called Schoolhouse Rock that was basically propaganda and education rolled into catchy tunes, and cartoons on Saturday mornings and one of them that made this big impression on me, was the great American melting pot - this idea that America was this place where we could all learn to appreciate our differences appreciate each other that we all came together. Now, I'm aware that there is a part of the original melting pot theory was not about that at all. It was about, everyone becoming part of one culture this homogeneous culture that was based on this, the idea that kind of Anglo-European culture was the norm. That that was what we wanted for everyone and I don't agree with that at all.

Neil Sattin: And that was never part of my consciousness I was much more of this idea of appreciating just how different people were. And wondering what that was like for them. I had a classmate who was Chinese, I had classmates who were refugees from Cambodia. The town that I grew up in had a black mayor, even though as a whole, there were not many black people in the town where I grew up. Hardly any as far as I know. And so I got to live in this fantasy world, where everything was okay. Even though I knew deep down that you didn't have to go far to find places where there was danger for others, based on how they looked. And honestly, I don't know a lot about the experience of people who had darker skin than me, in my community. I don't know what that was like for them. And it gets me curious. It gets me curious to know, because I can't imagine that it was always easy.

Neil Sattin: And of course, on TV, there were plenty of opportunities to see darker skinned people doing bad things and lighter skinned people being the heroes and the victors and this subtext has permeated so much of our culture. Maybe we'd read one book. The Invisible Man or To Kill a Mocking Bird. And then everything else, we would read in school was centered on a white culture. Why is that? Why are the things that are considered normal considered normal? Well, it's because we're a product of our environment, right - and finally we are at a place where we're changing, we're challenging this idea of what's normal as well we should be.

Neil Sattin: And we're struggling to do the things that are in many cases the most challenging which is to figure out our blind spots. Now, this is challenging on any number of levels, to figure out where you are blind to the ways that you treat other people, the ways that you show up ineffectively, because in our... And each of us has our own world within us, and in that world, everything we do makes perfect sense. So it is actually quite challenging to see the things that we do that don't make sense. And I think that there's this book that a lot of people are talking about right now, or have been for the past year or so, White Fragility which is a lot about how challenging it is for privileged people to recognize the ways that we support systems that are oppressing other people.

Neil Sattin: And we have to work together, we have to call things out for how they are, and we have to work together. That's what I'm working towards here. So when I see footage of black people being murdered by police officers in the case of George Floyd in Minneapolis apparently because he maybe had a counterfeit $20 bill. I realized just how much further we need to come as a society. It's not that I think all police are bad. In fact, there have been many times where I've been grateful that police have been around. And what I think is important is that we address the ways that culturally we are perpetuating oppression and violence and profiling against people of color. I'm just going to say, clearly that it's not okay. And then on top of that, when I am watching footage of protests happening and seeing the police, the people who are theoretically there to protect and serve us citizens, they're here to protect and serve us. And yet when I see them violently swinging at protesters, pushing old people over, something has to change, it's not right. It's not okay.

Neil Sattin: And there's something about it that chills me to my core, it goes all the way back to the questions that I had as a kid about how did that happen in Germany, how did that happen that a group of people is able to be singled out and murdered and people either stood by watching or participated in it. How was that okay? And I remember over and over again, thinking whatever power there was that let me grow up in this place, The United States of America where I didn't feel like I had to fear that kind of violence. In fact, I thought that there was a consensus pretty much around me that that kind of violence against humans wasn't okay. Growing up in a tiny town in Maine, it was easy to believe that that wasn't actually happening, still, just against other communities of people.

Neil Sattin: And now we are in danger here of having the might of weaponry and a militarized police wheeled against the very citizens that theoretically they're supposed to be protecting. And for some reason, the President of our country thinks that it's okay to incite violence to keep bringing up the second amendment as if we don't know that that's about not so subtle call to arms, how is that helping our world? It's not, it's not. It's upsetting, it's distressing and I think it's important for us to be having this conversation. So next week's session with David Burns is going to be even more relevant, maybe because I'm stirring things up here with this week's episode, but also because we have to take care of ourselves so that we can have this larger conversation and so we can be allies for each other and allies for a world where the people who do bad things are the people that are held accountable and that the people who aren't doing bad things are left alone to just be people.

Neil Sattin: And maybe there's something really wrong with potentially paying for cigarettes with a fake $20 bill. If the person even... If George Floyd even knew that that was a fake bill, who knows, right? But come on, the punishment has to fit the crime. If there's a crime going on, it definitely didn't call for being murdered. Now, I respect that being a police officer that is not any... It can't be an easy job. It can't be. It's definitely not going to be an easy job if you view the community that you're in as your adversaries as opposed to trying to build relationships in the community, and create an overall fabric of everyone, trying to hold each other accountable to civil behavior. There are places where they're getting this right, there need to be more places like that.

Neil Sattin: Now I want to talk a little bit about the podcast, because here's a place where I don't want you to think for a moment that I have a blind spot. Before I do, I do need to take a moment to mention this week's sponsor, whose support I also really appreciate and they are here to support you through these times. Their name is BetterHelp. And if you are looking for extra support around the things that get in the way of happiness or achieving your goals or dealing with the stress of what's happening in our world or your own personal world from the comfort of your own home or wherever you are, you can use BetterHelp. BetterHelp will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist. And you can chat with that therapist via text at any time and you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions, all without having to go anywhere. It is more affordable than traditional offline counseling, and they do offer financial aid if you qualify.

Neil Sattin: They also offer a broad range of expertise so that you can find the person most suited to helping you with your own unique situation. So whether it's depression, stress, anxiety and dealing with racism and our place in the system, whatever it is, that's up for you, try out BetterHelp to help you move past the places where you are stuck. And because you are a listener of Relationship Alive, BetterHelp is also offering you an extra 10% off your first month. Just visit BetterHelp.com/alive and join over 800,000 other people who are taking charge of their mental and emotional health. Again, that's BetterHelp.com/alive and thank you so much BetterHelp for your support of Relationship Alive.[TK REMOVE]

Neil Sattin: You can probably hear the emotion in my voice because this stuff is affecting me deeply. And I stand with Black Lives Matter and the other organizations that are dedicated to justice and racial equity and rooting out some of the obvious ways that that isn't happening in the world, and some of the less than obvious ways. So, let's talk about one of the less than obvious ways for some of you, and maybe some of you haven't noticed this because sometimes racism and racial equity in our support of a just world isn't necessarily about what we do, it's about what we don't do. And here on the show, I've wanted to have a diverse group of voices represented. And just to give you a little insight - when I started this show, it was really important to me to find the top names in the field, to have the top-most respected people on this show to talk about relationships and doing them better.

Neil Sattin: And by and large, those people have been on Relationship Alive. And I'm so grateful. People have done countless hours and hours and years and years of therapy sessions and research, and who have the experience to merit, being recognized as experts and leaders in the field. And each of them has also taken me on a journey as I learn, as I read their work and talk to them. Inevitably those books and conversations lead me to another person, to another set of ideas. And many of those people have been on the show. And so this show has been curated by me and my curiosity, by the issues that I've personally been struggling with or that I've seen others struggling with, and by this observation of who the recognized world leaders are. Now, I want to tell you that when you look at who's headlining - the keynote speakers for various conferences that are happening around the country in the English-speaking world.

Neil Sattin: And you're looking for those people who are the recognized world leaders in this particular field, what you might notice is that there isn't a lot of racial diversity among that group. Which isn't to say that there isn't any, there's some, a little bit, it but not much. Now, is anyone to blame for this? I mean, maybe on some level, there are things to blame, there are people to blame, but I think you can step back and extrapolate that the systems of power and education and who has made it, who has had an easy time of finding their ways to the ranks of academia and book publishing and speaking on stages and whether it's intentional or not, choosing who else gets to come alongside them, who else gets to be speaking alongside them, who else gets recognized as an expert.

Neil Sattin: Well, the power structures in this country anyway, for a long time, have been white. And there are a lot of people who are trying to change that. Thankfully. I know when I look back over the guests who have been on this show, I feel really good about the balance of genders, men and women. I know that I could have more people on this show who represent different parts of the gender and sexuality spectrum, I could do a better job of that. And I could definitely do a better job of having people with different colored skin on this show. Again, there have been some, there have been some and those conversations have been amazing. And yet, there aren't enough. And it takes effort on my part, it's going to take more effort on my part. Now I've got great excuses. I have a busy life and trying to raise a family, trying to have a relationship, trying to deal with my relationship ending all that stuff. I've got all kinds of excuses. We all have great excuses, I think, for living life the way that we live it.

Neil Sattin: So I'm recognizing here for you that I need to do better. And I've been looking, just so you know for more diversity in terms of who's on this show. And there may be ways that it's more challenging for me because they're not people who are necessarily recognized by the "world authorities who recognize these things" as being experts in the field. And I have to get by my own sets of biases about who I want to have on the show, the ways that I might discount someone's opinion. In general, what I'm going to do is just try to find voices on the show of people I respect, people who are researching their work.

Neil Sattin: I'm not a huge fan of having people on Relationship Alive to just talk about their opinion of things, we all have opinions, right? There are some less savory phrases about that, but this isn't a show, this isn't an opinion show. At least I try to not have it be. I'm really trying to create a space for you where you can trust the information that's in front of you. And yet as I look back on it, I'm humbled to recognize that there could be definitely more black, indigenous and other persons of color represented here on the show.

Neil Sattin: I'm naming it, not because I think that... Not because I don't think that we should just all love each other as people, and that the color of our skin shouldn't matter. I do believe that the color of our skin should not matter. And yet, I do not want to be part of perpetuating a system that is only recognizing some people, not others, and that some people happen to be of a particular skin color because the systems that recognize experts are generally run by people with that very same skin color.

Neil Sattin: And I'm the one with the podcast and I have that same skin color, even though I have my own history of being a minority, a non-visible minority and generally thankfully, a non-endangered minority, and I hope it stays that way, not just for me, but I hope we can expand the sphere of who gets to be safe in this world - So that it does truly include everyone, no matter the color of your skin. So if you have suggestions for people whose work you admire and who you think would be a great guest for Relationship Alive, by all means do let me know, you can email me. My email is neilius at neilsattin.com. But it's not on you, this one's on me. That being said, I could use some help. So if you've got some good ideas, send them my way. And I've got a lot of queries out there with people and I'm doing some more work to find more people.

Neil Sattin: And my hope is that each of us finds our way to change the system, so that we all get to be safe. We all get to experience love and connection. And so more and more we know what it's like to elevate each other. And to find pathways for doing that to elevate and amplify each other. That's what I want for you, that's what I want for the world where my kids are growing up. And hopefully my grandkids and my great grandkids and whoever else is coming down the path.

Neil Sattin: Thanks for being here with me today, thanks for listening, thanks for hearing my story and I hope that it ignites something in you and if it does, I want to hear about it. So please write to me or mention something in the Relationship Alive Community on Facebook. I'm not terribly active there right now, it's been honestly quite challenging for me to be on Facebook. And yet if you tag me, I will definitely see what you write. And I welcome all of our efforts to make this world and the relationships that we experience better. So sending love to you, sending love out to all the people who are in the streets taking a stand, maybe even risking their own lives and their own health with the pandemic going on. And I send love to the people who at this point maybe don't know that they actually do need to change, and I hope they find their path to change in a way that expands what's possible for them in the world 'cause living a life of violence and hate and leaning on authority instead of leaning on respect, it's not a way to live.

Neil Sattin: There's a lot more that's possible when we learn how to open our hearts to each other and be humble about the ways that we've messed up and apologize and make amends and move forward together. Okay, I'll see you next week for my vulnerable session with David Burns, on overwhelm. And in the meantime, take care, stay safe, and keep in touch.

May 29, 2020

What can shift anxiety, depression, overwhelm, or simply feeling “down” - into feeling good, or even great? What are the hidden obstacles that get in the way? When it comes to improving your inner world, there are some things that consistently work. And there are other things that might help, but that aren’t nearly as effective. With more than 40 years of experience, Dr. David Burns, author of Feeling Good, returns to the show to reveal how his new “TEAM” approach helps you feel good - no matter what’s happening in your world. With examples from how he’s treated severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD - you’ll get a sense of how to eradicate your negative thoughts - and any resistance that's getting in the way. David Burns’s new book, Feeling Great, will be released this coming September.

If you want to listen to our first episode together, where David Burns and I spoke about how to apply his work in relationships (based on his book Feeling Good Together), here is a link to Episode 98: How to Stop Being a Victim - Feeling Good Together - with David Burns

If you want to listen to our second episode together, where David Burns and I spoke about how to recognize and deal with cognitive distortions, here is a link to Episode 133: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life - Cognitive Distortions with David Burns

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! 

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources: 

Check out Dr. David Burns's website

Read David’s classic books, Feeling Good or Ten Days To Self-Esteem

Pre-Order David’s newest book: Feeling Great - The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide

www.neilsattin.com/feelinggood3 Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with David Burns

Visit neilsattin.com/support or text "SUPPORT" to 33444 to support the podcast. Every little bit helps!

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

Transcript:

David Burns: I had created - and we need to upgrade it a lot, an electronic version of my brief mood survey that patients can take at the start and end of every therapy session, plus rate the therapist: on empathy helpfulness, were there feelings that you were hiding, did you have trouble being honest? filling out the survey? And so we have before beginning and end of session, rating on relationship satisfaction, depression, anxiety, anger, happiness, suicidal urges - and although the tool needs to be improved a lot, they sent me the data from 9000 therapy sessions.

David Burns: And so I've always loved statistical modeling and the kind of modeling, I do - Analysis of moment structures or structural equation modeling - requires big "Ns". And I've never had a database this big... It's kind of overwhelming like being a kid in a candy store. So I was able to... First off, just to replicate a lot of findings from 10-20 years ago, when I was working with smaller databases like maybe 500 patients from my clinic in Philadelphia, 100 and 70 patients from the Stanford in-patient unit which are relatively small. But I was able to replicate almost everything and the data is just the cleanest data set that I've ever seen and it's just full of correlational findings and potential causal findings as well. So I feel like we're seeing for the first time kind of like the anatomy of psychotherapy that's never been seen before. The veins, the arteries, the muscles, the tendons and how it works. So I can begin answering really, really basic questions, like, if you wanna have high patient satisfaction, what are the variables that cause that in the session, what do you need to attend to, or what goes into therapeutic empathy? I published an article that everyone has ignored actually in the top psychology journal about probably 20 years ago called intimacy and depression. Is there a causal connection?

Because the interpersonal therapists, make a big deal about the idea that depression is caused by problems in intimate relationships.

Maybe this should be our podcast. Maybe we could start broadcasting. And I never really bought it but it had never been tested. And it's hard to test because you have to do something called non-recursive modeling which is the most difficult topic in statistics where things are circularly correlated.

Neil Sattin: Right, I think I heard in a recent podcast episode of yours. Testing - do thoughts cause feelings, or do the feelings cause thoughts?

David Burns: Chicken or the egg... exactly, that was just a little study I did with my Standford Data it had about an n of 100 but the findings were clear cut, so I did something like that with a much larger database, maybe a few hundred where we had depression, and relationship satisfaction scores at the start of therapy. I didn't measure as intensely every session at the start and end. It was just once a session. But we had it at the intake and 12 weeks later. And intimacy and depression were correlated minus.4 at both time points, which was similar to what you see in the literature, using different scales everyone seems to come up with about that number. So high depression, low relationship satisfaction and high relationship satisfaction, low depression at both time points - and then changes in depression were associated with changes in relationship satisfaction.

And so, people interpret this, like the cognitive therapists say. Oh, that's because when you're depressed, it causes an impairment in love relationships because a variety of reasons - you feel worthless, you feel un-lovable, and you're very sensitive to criticism, and you feel like I have a self that's no good.

And then the interpersonal therapist says, "No, you know we need love, to feel happy" - But none of those people has ever bothered to check it out. People in our field in general, pretty much everything that's said is false, 'cause people just talk, they say things that they wanna believe and came up with it themselves, so they think it must be true. And so in my study, we found that there are NO causal links in either direction, that have any particular meaning. There are tiny little causal links that are marginally statistically significant, but the magnitude of the causal link is so tiny that you couldn't possibly improve depression by improving relationship satisfaction - even a great deal, and that itself, it's almost impossible.

And in addition, you couldn't possibly improve a troubled marriage by improving the depression or even curing both partners of depression.

I knew it already, because when my book 10 days to self-esteem came out. I did a bunch of studies all around - pilot studies. It's a self-help thing for depression, and I had about 40 pilot studies. This should be, in your podcast, I think.

Neil Sattin: I'm recording right now.

David Burns: Oh, you are recording - Okay that's great. And what we saw was that in all of these groups, people started with my book 10 days to self-esteem and they were in these groups - there were no therapists president. It was just a self-help thing I was trying to create.

And all the groups, people had dramatic improvements in their depression but... but in none of the groups did relationship satisfaction improve. At the beginning they were depressed with miserable marriages, and then at the end of the group, they were euphoric with miserable marriages.

It just proves that there's no connection between these domains.

Well, I had a chance to try to confirm that now with 9000 therapy sessions where we've got relationship satisfaction or dissatisfaction is one variable, and depression or happiness. I measured happiness for the first time - as separate from depression. Happiness at the start and end of the session, depression at the start and end of the session. And the findings were exactly the same, and it was really thrilling. The correlation was similar, like -.3, which is a small correlation - 'cause the 3 times 3, is a 9, so there's only 9% overlap in depression and relationships, and relationship satisfaction or happiness and relationship satisfaction.

I have to do that one. I could test that today. Does relationship satisfaction cause happiness or does happiness cause relationship satisfaction or both or either. After our call it'll take me a minute to answer that question.

Neil Sattin: We can do a little footnote on this conversation with whatever you discover.

David Burns: Right, but at any rate, it came out exactly the same - there are no meaningful causal relationships between them, and that's not a bad thing.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so what it leaves me wondering is, where are the major leverage points for what does cause either of those things?

David Burns: Well, as I've said for years, all the causes of all psychological and interpersonal problems are totally unknown. And anyone who claims to know is just a con artist or a fool. It's just like before we knew the cause of polio there were thousands of theories and treatments for the last two or three thousand years - and everyone was sure that they knew - and it came out to be a virus and we got the Salk vaccine. We had the true answer. We can say with certainty that depression is triggered by negative thoughts, and that if you have a negative thought and believe it like "I'm no good" or "I'm a loser", then you're gonna be very unhappy. But what we don't know is why are some of us so prone to negative thinking and pessimism, and self-doubt, self-criticism. While others are maybe more outgoing and happy. And then there's a bell-shaped curve.

Some of us, most of us are somewhere in between these extremes. That question we don't know the answer to, all we can say with certain... Is that all current theories are false, like the psychiatrists claim it's the chemical imbalance in the brain, and that's been... We proved that was false in 1975 at our laboratory, in Philadelphia in our depression research unit. We flooded the brains of depressed veterans with like 30, 50, 100 times boost in brain seratonin. And that's what the so-called chemical imbalance people fraudulently call seratonin the happy chemical. There's nothing in the literature that ever said it should have anything to do with mood. Somebody just made up the theory and then there was no change in the mood of the veterans, none whatsoever. And we published that in the top psychiatry journal and it was ignored for 25 years. Because the drug company people didn't wanna hear it. And recently, people are starting to quote it a lot. All these theories of causality. Nobody knows. You know, as Freud says, "Oh it's anger turned inwards, or something in childhood" and certain psycho-analytic type therapists, they believe these theories that have no research to confirm them. But the great news is we CAN help people tremendously with depression.

My new book, I'll give a pump for it, "Feeling Great" - it should be able to be ordered on Amazon soon - it's coming out in September. We've got fantastic high speed techniques to cause depression to go away really fast. And that's all I care about. And then, why do people have relationship problems? My research indicates that blame is the major factor. The problem is not that your partner is to blame, the problem is that you're blaming them and not looking at your own role in the problem. And we've got ways if people want help with troubled relationships, which is generally not the case, we have tremendous techniques to help them. But anyway, that's just kind of quick - where I'm at. The TEAM-CBT that I have created, and it's now really out-performing cognitive therapy, at least in, in my hands, and those of a number of my colleagues. It emerged because of the research I was doing, a number of years ago when I was in practice. Why do some people get better fast, and others resist, or fail to improve?

And I found out why that was- it has do with motivation and resistance. Something I scorned early in my career, thinking it was not important, that turned out to be incredibly important. And once we saw that we developed new high speed ways to boost motivation, and that has, and reduce resistance.

The first time we meet with someone - and then that leads to amazingly rapid recovery.

Neil Sattin: There are all sorts of thoughts that I'm having at this moment, that are interweaving with things that you've mentioned already in this conversation.

So, I guess first... Well, I'm thinking about Emily Nagoski and her model for Human Sexuality, and what allows people to feel connected to who they are as a sexual being, and to their partner - and she talks about the dual control mechanism, which is basically what turns you on, and what turns you off, and being aware of those things. And so I'm hearing the parallel already in what you're offering in terms of what motivates you to change, and what resistances you have to change - your accelerator and your brakes. And I'm curious to know, for you, does willpower enter into the conversation at all? I've been trying to get what's his name, Roy, Baumeister on the show to talk about willpower. We've been in conversation for quite a while, but I'm wondering where you feel like willpower ends up as part of the equation?

David Burns: I don't use the term willpower, but I created a term called willingness in the late 1980s when I was trying to find out why some people don't recover quickly when treated for depression.

And over the years, I've come to see more of what this willingness is and what it isn't. I developed a scale. And essentially, how willing are you to do stuff to help yourself like, psychotherapy homework for example.

And that was the only variable in the world literature that's ever been shown to have a causal effect on depression or changes in depression, and the causal effect is massive. And then you can think about that as resistance, or motivation, which would be the opposite. And that variable - I tested all kinds of things that people were saying cause people to get better, like therapist empathy. Everyone was thinking, that was it. Therapist Empathy is important but it doesn't have much of a causal effect on anything, surprisingly. But that variable was huge, and people doing homework had a huge causal effect on who got better.

Neil Sattin: So the variable was their willingness or the variable was their taking action? Because someone could begrudgingly take action.

David Burns: Yeah, yeah both. If you take action that's meaningful, to help him reduce your negative thoughts - the actual homework had effects and the motivation that the homework reflected also had a massive causal effect on changes.

Recently I saw an article, somebody took this term willingness - I don't think they attributed it to me, they should have - but they developed a willingness scale for anxiety disorders and reported that's the first variable in the world literature that's been shown have causal effects on recovery from obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD. That are you willing to use exposure to confront your fears...

Neil Sattin: So, willingness. So, that does intersect with the question of resistance and... So in your TEAM model, which is what you've added on and just to mention, for you listening, this conversation is, in some respects, giving you a brief synopsis of things that we went into a lot of depth into in our first two conversations together. So in our first conversation which was episode 98, we talked about your book "Feeling Good Together," and it was this question of how to help relationships using your model.

We talked about that point that you just made a few moments ago that a lot of people actually don't want to change their relationship even though they might say they want to change their relationship.

So we go into that question in a lot more depth in episode 98. And then in our last conversation, which was episode 133, we talked a lot about the ways that we work on our own feeling state.

So the first conversation we had was more focused on relationships, then we went through all the cognitive distortions, and we talked briefly about your TEAM model, but let's just say what the TEAM stands for in this moment. Because that may be a good point for us to dive off into the other intersection that you brought up - the polio virus. And it's impossible to have a conversation right now. I think without talking about the ways that SARS-CoV-2 or covid 19 or the novel Coronavirus whatever we're gonna call it - that is impacting us.

And I'm seeing it have a huge impact on so many people, including myself, people who have been resolutely positive and optimistic, and it's the way, the scale by which this seems to be affecting everyone in every walk of life - I feel like it would be great for us to bring our conversation back to that, and maybe we'll weave in, maybe we'll weave in all these things, like our resistance, and our blame, and we'll put it all a nice bow around it before we're done...

David Burns: That sounds great! We're starting on my feeling good podcast series, Corona-casting and we've got two recorded and we're gonna be doing maybe one or at least one or two more. But essentially, when you're looking at the effects of the corona virus or both at intimacy relationship issuesm because we're compressed closer together, and there's more blow-ups and anger and tension being expressed. And so we've had a couple of those in my Tuesday training group at Stanford, where we sometimes do live work. It's free training for therapists in the Bay Area or from anywhere. If they come consistently, they can get unlimited training and unlimited personal therapy for free, which is a pretty good deal.

And they have to come consistently, and do homework and use the brief mood survey to see how they're doing with their patients. But in the last two weeks, we've had two people very upset. Both therapists - the therapists are human - no different from anyone else - due to intense family conflicts that have erupted because of of the coronavirus. And then I've also been working on the internal mood issues - the panic, the depression, and how we use TEAM to help with those things too - again with one live, or a real example. But what team is: T is testing, E is empathy is, A is - we used to call it paradoxical agenda setting, but that was too confusing to people. So now we call it assessment of resistance, and then M is methods. Now testing means that we test every patient at the start and end of every therapy session.

They do it in the waiting room.

And can do it now on their cell phone so it doesn't waste any therapy time, but we find out exactly how depressed they are at the start of the session. How angry they are, how anxious they are, how happy they are, and what their relationship satisfaction is with the spouse or mother, whoever they want to be rating. And the reason we get those ratings at the start of the session is because therapists' ability to know how patients feel is close to zero.

Research has proven this. And therapists don't know this. Therapists think they know how patients are feeling, but if you stop and test it, you find out the therapist's perceptions are way off base in most cases. In fact, it happened to me recently. I thought I was doing brilliantly. I'm not in practice, but I still treat a lot of people for free because I'm addicted to it. And on one of my Sunday hikes... I was working with a woman with certain issues, and I could just see that I was hitting it out of the park, and it was just an awesome hike... There were many hikers there, and afterwards, I was just congratulating myself for how outstanding I'd been in helping her, and then I discovered that she was enraged with me.

I mean she was livid.

I had totally totally missed the boat. And the listeners are maybe saying "Burnsie, he's probably insensitive. That wouldn't happen to me," but it happens to all therapists all the time, and most therapists don't know it. But if you get the assessments, the measurements, because then they rate you at the end on empathy, on helpfulness, on unexpressed anger, which was the case with my so-called patient, and a lot of other dimensions. And if you use the brief mood survey, it's like having an X-ray machine. You see the truth for the first time. It is the platform for all effective therapy to my way of thinking. E is empathy, you know all about empathy. And so at the start of the session, we empathize with the patient without trying to help. That was my mistake with this patient - I just thought I knew what her problem was and jumped in to cure her. I didn't bother to empathize or reduce her resistance - I violated my own rules. But fortunately, we had talked it over, and now we're closer than ever. The failure turned into something just the opposite.

Neil Sattin: Right, and how often do we assume we know what's going on with another person? And just jump in, yeah, with offering something and it can be with the best intention.

David Burns: That's one of the things here with the coronavirus - people are often trying to help somebody or tell them what to do. Most people just want someone to listen, they don't want someone to try to fix them, if they're panicky, or upset, or angry about the coronavirus - good listening skills is is all that 95% of people are really, really looking for. But then after we've empathized, and that takes about 30 minutes generally, in my experience. I treat most people just with one session, I don't have multiple sessions - I just treat people once and try to "cure" them or whatever that means in one two-hour session. One and done, is my approach. But if they need more, they can get more. But I rarely see people for more than one session. So you can empathize if you use what we call The Five Secrets of effective communication, which is I'm sure similar to approaches that you use. You can generally get an A or an A plus - you can form the deepest possible relationship with any person, you've never met in about 20 to 25 minutes. And then we do assessment of resistance. We say, "What do you want help with? Do you want help with anything?"

And once they say what they want help with - could be a relationship problem, it could be depression, it could be anxiety - we do what we call, fractal psychotherapy. I don't know if we brought up that - fractal psychotherapy - a fractal is a little tiny formula that multiplies itself, and you can simulate almost anything in this way. This is like, how nature works.

Neil Sattin: The macro level is mirrored in the tiniest piece.

David Burns: Yeah, yeah, that's it. I can take a little tiny equation that a third grader could understand, and have it multiply on your computer, and it will go infinitely to the size of the universe. You can't see it all, you can only see a portion but you got it. It could create a gorgeous multi-color parrot, but the most beautiful little parrot, but if you zero in on the tiniest little piece of that, it will always be the same thing, that's just repeating itself over again. And that's how human suffering is. At any one moment in a relationship conflict, all the causes of the relationship conflict will be embedded. By one moment, I mean, what did the other person say to you, What did you say next?

And if you look at that interaction, you'll see all the causes of that conflict between those two people. You don't need their history. You don't need their childhood - just one sentence from the other person, or two sentences - whatever - and exactly what you said next. That's a fractal for a relationship problem. And you have a fractal for depression.

Tell me one moment you were depressed. What time of day was it, where were you, what were you feeling? Circle all of your emotions, how depressed were you? 90% okay, how anxious were you 80%? Okay, how guilty or ashamed were you? You get all of these emotions and 9 different dimensions, and you say, "What were you telling yourself, what were your negative thoughts?" And in that one moment when the person was depressed or anxious, you can find all the causes, and all the cures for all the upset they've ever had in their life. So we want the person to say, what's one moment - if you want help, give me one moment that you want help. Where were you? What time of day was it?

What were you doing, who were you interacting with?

Yeah, and then I generally say to the person, Okay, you were all upset yesterday at 9:30 or whatever and you were feeling 100% depressed and angry and upset and all these emotions, but what kind of help would you be looking for? And generally it comes down to... Well, I want my negative thoughts and feelings to go away. With someone recently... We had a woman 95% depressed and 95% anxious and 65% feeling inadequate, and I think frustrated at 100, and jittery 100 because of the coronavirus. She just woke up and she's trapped at home, and she's thinking that she should be more active, but she feels like procrastinating and then she's beating up on herself for not being productive. And...

Neil Sattin: it sounds really familiar, actually.

David Burns: Then we say, well if there's a magic button - if you press that magic button all your negative thoughts and feelings will instantly disappear, or the person you're upset with will instantly become your best friend in the whole world. With no effort, you gonna press that button? And everyone is "oh yeah, I'll press that button." And then we do what's called positive reframing - we bring their subconscious resistance to conscious awareness.

This is the whole key to TEAM therapy to eliminate resistance before you try to help the person change, and that is what has opened the door to these phenomenal high-speed changes that I'm seeing. Now almost all the time when I work with people, they generally go from extreme or severe depression, not only to no depression - they go into a state of euphoria, mostly in a single two-hour session. People hearing this will get enraged, and they'll think I'm a con artist, and think it's impossible. If I'd heard this was possible 10 years ago I would have said it's a con also - don't believe that person. But I see it and I measure it, I have the data...

Neil Sattin: And you're doing follow-up with those people as well?

David Burns: I do from time to time... I'm building an app now, a feeling great app, that will allow us to do follow-up forever, on everybody. Doing follow-up on humans is pretty time consuming. In my clinical practice, I did relapse prevention training.

I always do that before I'm done with somebody. Because we can guarantee that people will relapse. 100% of humans relapse pretty much every day. I define a relapse of one minute or more of feeling like crap.

We're always relapsing all the time, but what I found is that if you do relapse prevention training, which takes about 20 or 25 minutes - relapse has not been a problem. And what I do is I just tell the person you are gonna relapse and here's what you're gonna be thinking when you relapsed, and here's how to talk back to those thoughts. And then we practice it with a role play and they record it. Then I say, if you ever do relapse, play this recording and if you're still stuck, give me a call because I offer unlimited lifetime guarantee of my work, and I'll give you tune-ups for free, if you're not satisfied.

Neil Sattin: It's a pretty good deal.

David Burns: Yeah, in my whole career, I've had over 40000 hours of therapy sessions - I've only had eight or nine patients who ever took me up on that. And in all of them, it was one session or two sessions and then they're on their way again. I only had one patient whoever relapsed and required intensive therapy again, to get out of her web. So I don't think the relapse thing - the people that I've been working with - I worked with a woman four or five years ago, who thought she was a bad mother, because her daughter had been shot in the face, and she thought it was her fault. Her daughter was 12 and wanted to go out and play after dinner, and she says it's a little late but I guess... Go ahead. She'd let her daughter go out every night for years, and then some neighborhood boys snuck up on her daughter and they had a high power pellet rifle - and aimed it at her face and pulled the trigger. And it hit her daughter's tooth, which exploded in her mouth, and she ran inside, sobbing, blood coming out everywhere. And she required multiple, multiple surgeries. And in addition, by the time I saw the woman she had been beating up on herself for nine years. "I've ruined my daughter's life."

Her daughter was still struggling with PTSD and had failed therapy. So we did the TEAM therapy with her. I did it in a live workshop, and it took about an hour and a half, and her feelings went from extremely severe that she'd had every day for nine years. Just, "I shouldn't have let her go out and play. I'm a bad mother I've ruined her life, I can never allow myself to be happy when she's struggling. The people in the audience who are watching, they probably are judging me and thinking I'm a bad mother."

And at the end, she was more than recovered - all her negative feelings went to zero, but she estimated one of them as minus a thousand and another one as minus a million an a score of zero to 100. She was in a state of euphoria. So I contacted her. I follow up with people from time to time just out of curiosity, and she sent me an email that she's still in this amazing joy, and her negative thoughts have never returned it. And the thing is that after that session, when she recovered, I have a recording of it - which I gave her and she listened to it with her daughter, who had no idea that her mother was struggling like this.

And then her daughter recovered.

And so it's infectious, when you're recover. But at any rate, relapse prevention training is easy to learn - it isn't easy to learn how to cause severe chronic feelings to disappear in a single session or a short period of time. It requires a lot of skill and training. But at any rate at the assessment of resistance, we bring the factors - see Anthony de Mello, maybe I said this in our last interview, he's a Jesuit mystic from the early 1900s I think, or maybe the mid-1900s but he said "We yearn for change, but cling to the familiar." And that's resistance... We say, "Oh I would really wanna lose some weight." But then when you... someone offers you a nice... like my wife made - we're cooped up here at home - but she made some beautiful peanut butter cookies.

And they're so good with a fresh, crisp apple. So you say, "Well I'll lose weight next time." We have ambivalence about change.

And so, we bring all the reasons to resist change to conscious awareness and patients haven't thought of it before. And what we've seen is, for the most part, at least with depression and anxiety, the reasons people resist have do with really beautiful things about them, and once they see that, they don't wanna press that magic button anymore, because then all these beautiful things will go down the drain. Like the woman who says I'm a bad mother. I hope we didn't talk about her last time.

Neil Sattin: No, we haven't spoken about her yet.

David Burns: I think - she's saying "I'm a bad mother" - I told her, Well, gosh, if you press that magic button all your negative thoughts and feelings will go away. But before we do that, let's say, What do they say about you that's positive and awesome? When she's telling herself I'm a bad mother what does that show about her that's positive and awesome? And what are some benefits to her? What does that actually show about her, that's beautiful and positive?

Neil Sattin: Well, it would show that she really cares about being a good mother.

David Burns: Yes, and that's what she came up with. And I said, "Is that important?

Neil Sattin: Absolutely I would imagine so!

David Burns: Is it powerful? So if you press that magic button all your sadness and concern about your daughter will disappear and you'll be euphoric, as happy as a lamb - is that what you want?

"Oh no, no, I see what you mean." You see, and she's intensely anxious. What does her anxiety show about her that's positive and awesome?

Neil Sattin: Well, it would again be... I'm just imagining that she's still really concerned for her daughter and wanting to ensure that she's doing whatever she can to keep her safe.

David Burns: Absolutely, is that important?

Neil Sattin: Definitely.

David Burns: is it real?

Neil Sattin: for sure.

David Burns: Is it powerful?

Neil Sattin: Absolutely.

David Burns: Yeah. And so we went through all of her negative thoughts and feelings. And now you're concerned that the people in the audience here are judging - gonna judge you.

What's awesome about that, what does that show about you that's beautiful?

You're a bit afraid they're gonna think you're a bad mother.

Neil Sattin: Right... so she wants to be a positive role model in the world, for motherhood. She also probably wants people to know that she takes responsibility for being a good mom - that there's something about if she were totally okay with it, then somehow she's absolving herself of all responsibility.

David Burns: So does it show that she wants good close respectful relationships with the people in the audience?

Neil Sattin: Definitely.

David Burns: Is that a good thing?

Neil Sattin: absolutely.

David Burns: Is that powerful?

Neil Sattin: I would say, so, yeah.

David Burns: And so everything you see, we've been trained to tell patients - you have a mental disorder - you can look it up in DSM, you could qualify for probably three different mental disorders.

And that makes us ashamed of our suffering. Thinking. Oh, there's something wrong with me.

And what we're saying is there's actually something right with you - a lot that's right with you - your suffering comes from the part of you that's most beautiful and awesome, at least with regard to depression and anxiety, not not so much relationship conflicts, although to a certain extent. But in depression and anxiety it's something beautiful. And that's called "assessment of resistance." And then with her we came up with, I think, 22 beautiful things about her and benefits of her negative thoughts and feelings, and I said, well...

Why would you wanna press that magic button 'cause then all of this will go down the drain?

Why would you wanna do that?

And she said "I see what you mean, but still I I'm suffering so much, isn't there something I could do?"

And then we used the Magic dial and say, "Well maybe instead of pressing the magic button we could dial them down. Your depression is 90... How much would you like to be at the end of the demonstration, today?"

Is there a lower level, that you could keep all these beautiful things about you and your shame, and your guilt? What would you like them to be? How anxious would you like them to be and she said "oh well 20% is enough on depression and maybe five would be enough anxiety, and shame - I'll turn that one all the way down to zero."

Her anger... She was very angry at the parents who let their boys out with a loaded rifle. And she wanted that one to go from 100 to maybe 20 or something. And then we say, "Okay well, we got powerful techniques and will lower them to those levels." She had a gold she wrote down for each of her nine different negative emotions. They I say "we won't lower them any further, but we'll have to be careful 'cause the techniques I'm gonna use here are so powerful - we may overshoot."

Your depression may go down to five or zero even - but don't worry if you get too depression-free or too anger-free I'll help you dial it up at the end of the session.

And she liked that, and now the resistance, is gone. And then we just went on and identified the distortions and her thoughts, and showed her techniques and roleplay techniques to talk back to them, and she just blew her negative thoughts out of the water. And then at the end I said now do you think these people in the audience are thinking you're a bad mother and they're judging you? Could we do an experiment to find out if that's true?

And she got very anxious and he said, "You mean maybe I could ask them?" and I said, yeah, would you wanna do that? She says No no A... And I said "your fear shows us that it's the thing to do" 'cause that's exposure, right? Confronting your fear.

So she said, "Well maybe could some of you come up to the front," because a friend of mine was doing is on his tiny little cam recorder, and so talk into the microphone - and then you can ask them if they're judging you and how they feel about you. And then about 10 people came up and each one of them she said "How do you feel about me?" And they started - every one of them started crying and saying, "You're my hero. Getting up in front of the group and doing this demonstration shows what a beautiful mother and beautiful human being you are, and I'm so deep in admiration." And then she started sobbing - she couldn't believe it. To see how off-base or negative, her thoughts had been... And that was kind of the end of the session - we did the end of session measurements and everything had gone to zero and below zero. So, that's TEAM - testing, empathy, assessment of resistance, and the M is methods. That's identifying the distortions in the thoughts and turning them around. Now it plays out radically different for relationship problems when we follow the same structure.

Neil Sattin: right, and I like when I've heard you talk about all the different methods that get combined, and how you work with people, that you're quick to point out that they come from all of these different places that you're sourcing all kinds of different therapy, therapeutic models and how you approach problems.

David Burns: yeah, yeah, TEAM is not a school of therapy, I'm against all schools of therapy. And think they could all be got rid of, just as when the Catholic church, when science and astronomy broke away from the Catholic church, it became a science - data driven science. So now you see how fantastic physics and astrophysics and all of that, has become... And I think that therapy you can draw from all the schools of therapy and the M equals methods. I use over 100 methods really that are on my list for therapists, and they come from all schools of therapy.

But then we should be focusing on basic research, to see how all of psychotherapy works. And then having a structure for therapy. TEAM is a structure for all of psychotherapy. That's how therapy works - rather than schools of therapy, which are generally guru-driven rather than a science-driven, and are pushing some theory of some person who has a lot of followers.

Neil Sattin: And is the idea that you're paying attention to what is actually working for the individual? 'cause I can see that some things might statistically look like they work more than other things, but if it's not working for the person in front of you, then it doesn't matter how statistically proven, it is to be effective.

David Burns: Yeah, like her thought - the first thought she wanted to work on from her daily mood log was "I never should have let my daughter go out and play."

And in my mind or on paper, I generate what's called a recovery circle. I imagine that thought's in a circle that she's trapped in - and then there's arrows coming out of the circle. And each arrow is a different way of escape and at the end of each arrow would be one of these hundred methods that I use. Like a method could be identifying the distortions, or externalization of voices, or examine the evidence, or a downward interpersonal arrow, or the hidden emotion technique, or whatever techniques. And then I go through them one at a time, in my mind, until I find the "Aha!" one that just implodes the system and the patient suddenly recovers. This recovery generally happens in a matter of...

Oh, maybe a minute or something like that. When the patient suddenly sees that the negative thought is not true, at that very moment they will improve or recover.

Neil Sattin: Okay, I'm wondering if you'd be willing to do something that I've only done occasionally, here on the show, but what I'd love to maybe try if you're up for it is... is to do a little work together.

Because I feel like one of the reasons that I reached out to you is that when I was thinking, Okay, we're in the middle of a crisis, at least that's what the thoughts tell us - and the news tells us - and most of us are living somewhat sheltered in place. We're not leaving our homes... So the world is different in this moment.

I was thinking, Okay, who... Who do I know that I would most trust to show up in a moment like this? And you were the first person that came to mind for me and so it's...

David Burns: So kind of you to say - thank you - you're one of my heroes.

Neil Sattin: Thank you David, I appreciate that. And so what I'm hoping is that for everyone listening, that if they... I think it's so instructive to hear you talk about the process and, as you know, witnessing the process might also be really helpful for people as they think like, Okay, how do I deal with everything that's happening in the world right now?

[First we revisit the data set to see if we could find any more causal relationships or correlations]

David Burns: We're looking at the relationship between relationship satisfaction, happiness or unhappiness on the one hand, and then a 10-item happiness scale. It's things like "I feel worthwhile, I feel close to people. I feel productive," and so forth. We'll get on to our exciting personal work, which is gonna be way cooler than research for your listeners. But we did get some clear cut results here, with, I think the... N on this is 9000 sessions - and so we can now say...

Okay, let's just, let's look at the results, right? Okay, we've gotta just make one last adjustment.

Does happiness lead to better relationships? Or does better intimacy cause feelings of happiness? That seems like a reasonable question, don't you think?

So, and I'm just, I'm setting this up in the software I have no idea of what these results are gonna show, but they do, they do show a fairly clear cut result here. The correlation between positive feelings and relationship satisfaction is about.38 - it's a modest correlation - not huge - you take the square root of that which would be about 15 or - the square. The square of.38 is about.15. So there's about 15% overlap between how satisfied you feel in your relationship with your spouse, or partner, and how happy you are. Now, in one of these models I declared that there was no causal effect of positive feelings on relationship satisfaction. In other words, that when you're reporting how satisfied you are with your spouse or your partner, we're testing the theory that... How happy or unhappy you are, has nothing to do with that.

Now do you think that's a true or false theory?

Neil Sattin: I would say that that's - intuitively I would say false. That your level of relationship satisfaction would impact how happy you say you are.

David Burns: Well, you're, you're right, you're a genius. Because it has no causal effect whatsoever.

Now, how about the other hypothesis? Is your happiness, feeling of happiness, influenced by how satisfied you are in your relationship with your spouse or partner?

Neil Sattin: That was the one that I was saying, I thought would there would be a correlation.

David Burns: Well, we're talking about causal effects not correlation...

Neil Sattin: Right, so, in other words, with the first one, does your inner state of happiness cause you to report more satisfaction in your relationships?

David Burns: Right, and, and you predicted "no", and you were right...

Neil Sattin: But that was the one where it was 15% like that there was 15%...

David Burns: No - that's just the correlation between them, but that doesn't mean there's a causal relationship.

Neil Sattin: Okay, got it, thank you for clarifying that.

David Burns: Yeah, but if you're very unhappy and then you become very happy, that's not gonna affect how you report your relationship satisfaction or dissatisfaction. And that's kind of what I found in my pilot study too, that when we made people's depression, disappear, it had no effect on their level of satisfaction with happiness or unhappiness in their marriage. Now we're looking at the other direction.

Does how happy or unhappy you are, in your relationship, does that affect your feeling of depression?

Neil Sattin: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Yes.

David Burns: Yeah, and again, you're right, so you... I think you need to go into statistics. Good statistics should reflect common sense. It often gives surprises.

There is a causal effect there, and I can tell you how big the causal effect is. My relationship satisfaction scale, is highly accurate. It goes from zero to 30. So let's say your relationship satisfaction increased by 10 points - that would be a huge improvement. And it's hard to get that in a clinical situation when someone's unhappy with their marriage. But if you can boost it by 10 points there would be four-tenths of a point increase in the positive feeling scale, which goes from zero to 40. So it's the same result that I had in Philadelphia. There is a causal effect in the direction you mentioned, but it is so tiny as to be kind of theoretically and clinically, meaningless. And it's kind of an interesting result, because it means that how happy or depressed you are, on the one hand, and then how close you feel to people in general or to your partner on the other hand - that they're not related to each other - for the most part, there's no connection. So, the tools that you would need to improve a relationship and the theory of what causes bad relationships is totally different from the tools you would need to treat depression or boost happiness and the things that cause depression or happiness. That they're independent domains - they are not linked.

Neil Sattin: So, there you did see a causal effect, but it was pretty small.

David Burns: Yeah, it's exactly what I reported in my original paper in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in the mid-1990s or something like that - and no one's ever attempted to replicate it. Today, I have the first replication studies of that.

And it is important because it means, let's say you're a therapist, and someone comes in with depression, and they're lonely or they have a poor relationship. Clairman and Cole [sic] have this thing called Interpersonal therapy where they treat depression by improving people's relationships, and then they think that that's effective. And of course, the therapy, all therapies for depression have a placebo effect and not much more. And that's true of theirs. And so while they do get people somewhat better. It's not - the depression doesn't improve because of improved relationships - improving relationships will not cause you to feel less depressed or happier.

Neil Sattin: It's so interesting, it's so interesting. And I guess this must be something that I'd account for, I'd have to account for it in a different way. At this point it makes sense to me... People often talk to me about their relationships, I think, because of what I do. But prior to what I did, I found people talking to me a lot about their relationships, and it always seems, it has always seemed as though that if something isn't going well, that that weighs heavily on them and it does ripple out into the other aspects of how they perceive themselves to be doing.

So what that would suggest - what you just revealed - is that we may harbor this belief that there's a connection there, when in fact those are two completely independent domains and should be treated as such. So, what someone says, "How are you doing" and you... You say like... Well, I'm okay, but my relationship is horrible or whatever. Then maybe the next response that should happen given what you just said, is like, "okay, that makes sense. Let's separate those two, because they are a completely separate or almost completely separate."

David Burns: Right, right, and because you don't have a big ego, like probably your self is dead, so you're open and can receive. But the problem with most mental health professionals is that they think they know things, and so it's hard to accept new findings. I find these new findings that are so different from what I believe to be, in a way, kind of exciting, because what it means is that we have new understanding of how the world works, and then we can use that to refine our effectiveness as therapists. But sometimes it's really hard to accept what research teaches us because it shuts down what we thought intuitively to be the case. But I found this also true, that when - I have treated thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of people with depression and now I have tools to cause depression to disappear most of the time, just really fast in a single two-hour session. And I never work on boosting relationships - I can cause depression to go away without any attention to how happy or unhappy a person is in their intimate relationships. And if they also want help with relationships, then I would use a completely different set of therapeutic tools from the ones I used to treat depression.

So it's just kind of interesting and you always have to take it with a grain of salt, because you can fool yourself with research too. But I've seen this now with two huge databases exactly the same results.

Neil Sattin: I'd be interested to see how this... Not that we're gonna do this right now, but how this would overlap with say all the research and modeling that John Gottman has done, and see where those datasets correlate with... Where they line up with each other, and where there might be disparities between the two.

David Burns: Yeah, absolutely, and if you review the literature too, if you want publish a paper, you have to say so-and-so found this and so and so found that... And so forth. But the kind of analysis that I'm doing here is-it's difficult to do, it's the most difficult topic in all of statistics when you have A and B - the kind of the chicken and egg thing. Most people don't know how to do this. This kind of modeling. But it would be fun. Maybe he has never measured happiness at the same time that he's measured relationship satisfaction - maybe he's never measured depression at the same time he's measuring relationship satisfaction.

That's what you need to measure these things. at time A and then measure them again at time B later on - and then you can model the causal connections if any between the variables. But yes, it would be fun to find that out, but let's do something cool and truly awesome now and get rid of statistics...

May 15, 2020

One of the biggest blocks to lasting intimacy is shame. Shame keeps us from being honest with ourselves, and our partners. And from truly owning what's real for us - what we actually want. In today's episode we're going to cover some of the many ways that shame gets in the way - and we'll also take a stand for what's possible when we allow ourselves to get real - about what's going right and what's going wrong - in our lives. Let's shine a light on the shadow - and free ourselves to be real with each other. And in the process we'll free up all kinds of energy to get closer to what we truly desire.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive, this is your host Neil Sattin, and today I wanna get real with you, I wanna get real with you about relationships. It's not that I haven't been real with you, all along. Of course, I have in fact that's been probably one of the most important things to me about this conversation that we're having about relationships is being real and not getting hung up on how things are supposed to be, but dealing with how things really are, and honestly, that's been challenging for me lately, and I've been doing a lot of soul searching. The getting real hasn't been challenging but what's been challenging for me has been connecting in with what motivates me with what drives me to do this to be here with you every single week.

And it probably doesn't surprise you to know that that goes back to my own relationship coming apart or transitioning let's say, back in the fall, and the very real need that I've had to do a lot of processing, a lot of grieving, a lot of wondering, a lot of questioning, a lot of raging, a lot of integrating that entire experience to make sense of what it even means.

What does it mean when a relationship comes apart, particularly when you're someone like me who is so deep in this conversation about how we do relationships well or better, being focused on growt, h being focused on integrity, being focused on showing up to the best extent possible, and at the same time wrestling with shame - the impact of Shame on our relationships, on my own relationship, on what it's like to come here and talk to you after going through such a big experience that I never expected for sure.

I mean so much of Relationship Alive grew out of the journey that I was on, that I've been on. I'm still on it, of course. And that journey had love, it had struggle, it had challenges, it had disharmony, it had coming back together, it had all of that - and coming back apart and it's really gotten me thinking about what is it that we are trying to do? What is this whole relationship thing all about?

There are those of us who never get into committed relationships who never find love, and that energy - and then there are those of us who find a person and meet up with them at a young age and stay with them the rest of their lives, and then there's most of us who fall somewhere in the middle on that. I mean, you might be one of those two people that I just described. There's nothing wrong with any of that.

And then there's this whole spectrum of what's possible in relationship in the middle.

Are we monogamous? Are we polyamorous? Are we casual? Are we serious? Are we sexually-abstinent before marriage, are we sexually-abstinent after marriage? There are all of these variations on what we experience and what I'm trying to do here on Relationship Alive of course, is to bring you the best resources that I can to help you navigate all of that.

And mostly that's been focused on this broader concept that I might call writing a wrong... Something has gone wrong, and we wanna fix it. I've got a really deep fix it, streak within me. And that has been, what the podcast has been focused on. We don't know how to communicate. Well, let's fix it. We end up in conflict - let's fix it.

One of us slept with someone outside the boundaries of our monogamous commitment. Let's fix it.

We don't know what to do about our own struggles with mental health and depression. Let's fix it - like that.

That has been what the show has been like, and that's important, those are important things to be talking about. Of course, none of us wants to stay in those sticky icky places where things are super uncomfortable and I sure don't it's not... Not what I aspire to. They're unavoidable, of course and yet there's maybe a bigger topic around their unavoidability that I've managed to avoid for much of these conversations. So today, I wanna tackle that and I wanna give you a sense of where I'm really coming from right now, because this is where I'm going to be coming from now on.

Well, as I evolve I can't hold the same perspective that I had a year ago 'cause it doesn't make sense to anymore, so I've been stewing and trying to make sense of everything. And today I'm gonna give you my best shot at making sense of it all, in a way that at least gives you a sense of the direction that will be headed in... So thank you for being here with me today to be part of this important conversation because we as humans are on this journey together, we are evolving what we do relationally with each other.

I was speaking with Jeff Brown earlier today, in fact, and he said something that was so hilarious. He's like, Let's... And I'm gonna paraphrase him. But it was something like, let's just get to the point where we can be in a room with each other, without things going horribly wrong - and that is in some ways where we're still at... As people. And now in this moment when I'm recording, we are most of us in some form of sheltering in place or staying at home, and so we're spending a lot of time in the same room, either with ourselves and having to own that conversation, or with our families or significant others, And that stirs up a lot. There's never been a more important time to try and evolve what we're capable of.

We have to right now - of necessity.

So that we don't tear ourselves or each other apart, there's so much that's possible. And I've witnessed it, I've witnessed it in my own life, I've witnessed it in the life of the clients that I work with or the people who have taken my courses. And I hear from you to... And I have to say those emails are magical, they're like gold for me when I get an email that's just telling me how much of an impact this work is having on your life, it's part of what helps keep me going - has helped keep me going, especially over the past few months, when I've had my own dark nights of the soul, and I've wondered why I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm the kind of person who wonders that frequently. It's important for me to keep my finger on the pulse of what motivates me, what keeps me going and that way I can hopefully avert disaster by diagnosing problems, when they are well in advance of before they hit. And yet sometimes things are unavoidable. So anyway, now I'm rambling a bit, so before I ramble any further or actually before I really dive into the meat of the matter. I wanna just take this moment to thank you if you have been a contributor to relationship alive just by being here to listen, you're a contributor, and I really appreciate that. Just so you know, I'm so thankful that you are here to be part of the conversation with me and this show is an offering for you, to help you have the best possible relationships, and without your support this show couldn't continue.

So in this moment, I just wanna thank some of the people who have contributed recently.

Sylvia, David, Angie, Drew, Lydia, Anne, Valerie, Keerthi, Angie, and Jules.

Thank you all so much for your financial support of Relationship Alive and just as a reminder, every little bit counts. So, if you wanna choose something that feels right for you to help show your support of relationship alive and the work that we're doing, then just visit neilsattin.com/support or text the word support to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Also, I put together a free guide for you to help you learn how to communicate more effectively, in relationship. And this guide has just three simple tips if you put them into practice, they will transform your communication outcomes. I'm not sure if you heard that. I just got a call through my computer. I'm not sure how that happened.

Alright, [TKEDIT] that sounded super official. Then the communication outcomes.

In any case to grab the free guide you can visit neilsattin.com/relate or text the word relate to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

Finally, I just wanna remind you that we do have a free group on Facebook - the Relationship Alive Community where you can join in with a safe space to have conversations about relationship stuff, lots of amazing people in that group over 4000 people at this point. And if you have a question that you would like me to answer on the podcast just record yourself, asking the question and send it to me. The email address is questions at Relationship Alive dot com and I will answer your question on a future episode of the show. I had a few good questions come in, lately which has been cool.

Alright, so let's get back to the topic at hand, which is What's up with relationships anyway, no one has... No one has an easy time.

Or maybe I shouldn't say no one, 'cause then I'm falling into that cognitive distortion place of black and white thinking.

There probably are a few people who have supremely easeful relationships or people who are supremely easeful in their solo-ness.

But in the middle, there are gonna be moments where things are going well, and then there are gonna be moments when things are a struggle - that is the reality, and what I'm realizing more and more is how much of an obstacle it can be when we feel shame around there being issues like somehow there shouldn't be something going wrong, or there shouldn't be this challenge... Or I shouldn't be bored or I shouldn't care about this pet peeve of mine or right, whatever it is.

And There have even been people here on the show, on Relationship Alive who talk about certain practices of mindfulness and acceptance that would have you think that you should just be walking around accepting everything and being totally cool with everything and then life would just be blissful all the time and maybe just... Maybe there are those truly enlightened souls for whom everything is just bliss, but honestly I think the paradox is that those people, it's probably not all bliss because partly, what they're blissing out on is probably their experience of challenge when they get into it.

And that represents a response to being challenged. You're a generative response, which would be... Man, this fucking sucks. What am I gonna do about this?

I'm gonna learn to love it, even though it's really hard... That's different than things never being hard.

It's just learning how to build that kind of resilience into your system, but despite what you see on Facebook and Instagram, or whatever social media thing, you might be on, things are challenging for just about everyone at certain points, maybe even more than half the time, and if not challenging, they're going to be moments where one or both people or several people, if you're in a polyamorous situation, where someone is having questions about whether they really wanna be there, about whether it's really working for them, or having realizations about ways that they've compromised themselves, not intentionally.

I think it's rare that someone compromises themselves intentionally like to try to be manipulative or something like that. We are doing our best all the time, to maintain connection with each other, and sometimes our best requires a little bit of contortions as we twist ourselves into a shape that works for the other person. Or if you're not a contortions kind of person, you might choose to avoid the avoid your partner so that you can avoid contorting yourself. But even avoiding, even avoidant people still wanna be in relationship, they still choose relationship over solitude until things escalate - and then sometimes solitude is a welcome respite from the calamity, the emotional calamity, of two people who aren't quite in sync with each other. Whether you're anxious or avoidant or secure I'm speaking about attachment styles. Wherever you fall, there are gonna be times when you just aren't sure or where you have questions or where you're in pain, or where you're hurting and if you're sitting there thinking I shouldn't feel this way, there's something wrong with me for feeling this way or that there's something wrong with my relationship that I feel this way that sense of "there's something wrong. And so, I shouldn't... " That is paralyzing. And I've felt that at moments with the podcast where I - even this episode that I'm recording this has been on my mind for weeks now - and if you're someone who's paying close attention, you may notice I skipped a couple of weeks. And it's because this has been a-brewing and it's actually been a-brewing for me for months now waiting for the right moment to come out.

The reality is I think that relationship and our choices around relationship-ing exist on a spectrum and that for the most part we are evolving on that spectrum all the time. And there are gonna be moments where... Where you're at is perfectly right for you and your partner or partners, and those moments of alignment are awesome, thrilling, and we can sometimes create them, sometimes ritual moments like your first date, or celebrating an anniversary or getting married, or you can create moments that have that special juice, the juice that forces everything into crystal clear clarity.

It doesn't happen all the time necessarily, for those events that I was just describing, but it's one great way to kind of bring everyone on to the same page.

They're amazing moments when they happen.

And you might shift if you are focused on your own development and growth, then for one thing, the relationship you're capable of today, is gonna be world different than the relationship you were capable of - well, maybe yesterday, but definitely five years ago, and definitely 10 years ago. What seems like so amusing to me is, I think back - this is just myself, but I see this in other people, as well. I think back to the relationships that I had when I was young, when I fell in love, in elementary school or even in high school, let's go to high school 'cause that's a little less ludicrous, but I remember meeting someone in high school and thinking "this is the person, this could be the person that I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with."

I had the whole vision, all worked out.

Now this happened several times, which tells you something. In fact, it's happened repeatedly over the course of my life.

And what's true is that the person that I met, let's say in that moment in high school, we were probably perfect for each other - in that moment, and we were capable of something particular to that moment to where we were both at in terms of our development.

But I can tell you that where I was at when I was 14 or 15 compared to where I'm at now, being 46-30 plus years later... Can't even compare. And yet, somehow back then I thought "You know what, I'm gonna marry this person that's what's gonna happen."

I wish there had been a little angel on my shoulder or a parental figure. capable of having this conversation with me of something, like, "You know what, it's not gonna be that and that's totally cool, that's fine. This is what two high schoolers are capable of doing."

"Have at it, have fun, enjoy, don't try to make it more than it is, let it grow naturally." Someone could have said that to me, in my teens, in my 20s, in my 30s, and now here I am in my 40s and I'm the one whispering this to you. And to myself. You are capable of what you are capable of today. It's gonna be probably more and better than yesterday and the day before, and the day before. And what you are capable of, in the future, assuming that you keep paying attention and growing, will be even more incredible.

Now, will the person that you're with, will they meet you there?

It could be a question of whether or not they're capable, whether they are growing the way that you're growing, or it could just be that where they're going is different, and suddenly, requires something different than what you offer, or that you are requiring something different than what they offer.

And these are key moments - key moments of questioning, in our relationships, whether we should stay there or not. How amazing would it be to be able to have that conversation free of shame and inhibition? ! ? ! ?

There is so much fear and shame that gets in the way of us simply being honest with each other when we diverge. When what you want is different than what I want... There's so much fear - fear in losing the other person, fear in being judged. Sometimes in our lives we've paid a price for being seen, we can't be too big, we can't be too great, we can't be too happy. And so, even if what we wanna share is something amazing, we can have fear around revealing that part of ourselves. And the fear may have nothing to do with our partner. It may be just something that we're carrying around within ourselves, but I can tell you that when you carry around fear, it is really easy to bring about the thing that you're afraid of.

If you're afraid of being judged, then man does it take some skill to come to your partner with something revealing without revealing it in a way that almost asks them, begs them... To judge you! It's really hard, it's hard for you, it's hard for your partner, it's fucking hard.

Not always, thankfully, but when things are dicey it gets... It gets tricky and hard.

And so much of what we've talked about here on the show is being able to recognize moments when they get dicey and being able to show up differently in those moments. That's so key, right?

But if you mess up or it doesn't go quite so well, there's nothing wrong with you because that happened, there's nothing wrong with your partner because that happened. It just is where you are right now. And then the question becomes, "What are you gonna do about it, what are you gonna do about that? And can you do it free from the fear and shame that can so often be an obstacle in this moment as I'm talking to you about it?"

I'm realizing how even though in so many ways, I feel, okay, actually great about my relationship with Chloe having ended, which isn't to say that I haven't felt pain and grief and despair. I felt the full range of stuff.

But in this moment what I am relating to is just how much I've also felt fear, fear about what this means for me because I put so much energy in really trying, trying, in so many ways. A whole podcast was born out of that trying out of that inquiry, out of wanting to know, out of wanting to do better. And yet - still, I got to go on that whole ride and at the end of that ride, was disappointment, was sadness, was disruption, was pain.

And so, I'm realizing how challenging it has been for me to face myself in the middle of all that. Part of the making sense of things is not just facing myself, but facing the ways that it's hard for me to face myself facing that challenge. The challenge of looking honestly at everything that unfolded, looking honestly at the choices that I made, looking honestly at the choices that I didn't make, and being able to see myself without judgment. So that's what the shame is all about, right? There's the shame that you feel because you're imagining that other people are thinking something about you, when in reality it's you thinking something about you. I've been there, deeply, and I think that the part of me who was so eager and so convinced that if I just did enough learning if I just grew enough that I could avoid "failure" and I'm putting failure in little quotes 'cause in truth I don't believe in failures in this realm. Anyway, I'm not sure I believe in failure in any realm. I guess if we had an existential conversation about failure, maybe there are some place, or places where failure really makes sense but not in this context, but that eager earnest driven part of me, he's having a hard time with what happened and what he really needs is this healthy dose of self-compassion to remind him that It's okay. What happened is, Okay, what happened maybe couldn't have been avoided, what happened is, maybe what should have happened, maybe it was the natural result of choices that happened earlier that could have been different if he had only known better.

That game is only one that's helpful to play, I think, when you're trying to make sense of things. There's no point in being like, "Oh I should have blah blah" 'cause you didn't... Right? But it is helpful to look back and think "Oh, I could have" maybe not, "I should have," but "I could have." What would have happened if I had made that other choice and what was going on with me that I didn't make that choice?

I hope this isn't too amorphous for you, like this conversation, I hope you get where I'm coming from.

There's deep stuff in us. And the places where shame starts to creep in, or where our expectations of ourself starts to creep in... Those are the places where we're blocked from having the conversation that we need to have.

And it could be that the situation that you are in requires some deep honesty with yourself, with your partner - if you have a partner - some deep honesty that's hard to get at if you're afraid or if you're experiencing shame.

How are you evolving? how are you growing? how have you changed? Is there a reality that needs to be acknowledged there?

There just might be... And if we could be really real with each other about our hopes, our fears, the things we enjoy, our disappointment - if we could do that without taking it personally, and to just see the person that we are, and the person or persons who are there with us with compassion, there's a lot of power in those conversations. I believe deeply in the power of radical compassion - that compassion allows you to value the other person, to value yourself, to value the other people in your life. But you're free to choose all the time, you don't have to choose to stay in a situation where, ultimately, it's just not right for you - but you might make that choice if you're feeling a ton of shame around what it would mean to leave - to make a different choice.

I want to change the way that shame paralyzes us. I do not want any of us. You, me, the people who aren't listening to this, I don't want any of us to feel paralyzed by shame.

I'm not sure I want us to feel paralyzed, period. That feeling of being held back, of having to cut yourself off from the life force that drives you forward - that sucks! And when you're caught there that is a recipe for, well, if nothing else, dissatisfaction, it could be calamity - could be disaster. Let's not cut ourselves off from the sources of life in our lives. And one of those, I think most profound sources of life is our willingness to be honest with what's real right here and now. In a way that's kind and compassionate... I'm not a fan of brutal honesty but I think we can get honest in ways that are about us. In my Communication course I talk a lot about that. I talk about how do you communicate what's true for you in a way that owns it - that doesn't put the other person on the defensive.

How do you talk about what's true for you in a way that actually invites other people to be there with you?

Because when you can do that, it creates even more of a spark, particularly if there's a spark, there to be created.

[TKEDIT OUT] I do wanna take just a moment to talk about this week's sponsor, of this episode because just like those of you who choose to support the podcast with your donations or sponsors are a key part of what helps keep Relationship Alive going.

And this week we have a sponsor who has been with us for quite a while and who are really about helping us get the support that we need.

And sometimes when you're feeling these deep levels, of shame or confusion or pain or questions, or even happiness that you don't feel like you can share it's helpful to get support from someone else.

So if you're looking for some extra support around the things that are getting in the way of your happiness, or achieving your goals dealing with the whatever's current for you in your life, the one really great way that you can do that from the comfort of your own home which is especially important right now, or you can do it from your office, wherever you are. Is this service called better help, better help will assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist with whom you can chat via text any time, and you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions, all without having to go anywhere.

It's more affordable than traditional offline counseling, and they do provide financial aid. If you qualify, they also offer a broad range of expertise so that you can find the person who's most suited to helping you with your own unique situation, so whether it's shame, depression, stress, anxiety, your relationship, family conflicts whatever's up for you, try out better help to help you move past the places where you're stuck, so to start living a happier life today, you can try better help and get an extra 10% off your first month for being a relationship alive listener, just visit better help dot com alive join over 800-000 people who are taking charge of their mental health, with better help.

Again, that's better help help dot com alive and thank you so much better help for your support of healthy relationships, healthy people, and the relationship alive podcast.

So, where do we go from here, where do we go from here?

I want this show to ALSO not be held back by shame.

Fear. I wanna talk about the things that are really going on for us the things that we have concerns about - the secret joys that we have that we don't think we can share - and maybe the secret sorrows that we have or questions - I wanna shine a light on that so that you can feel free to experience it and to share it with other people.

There are so many things that have impacted us along the way. Things that are simple that should be easy to talk about or accepted.

Here's a perfect example, take masturbation. Now, I'm not sure what the statistics are on masturbation. And maybe you don't masturbate, but I think most people on some level, do - and I think we've also reached a day and age when most of us accept - at least intellectually - that masturbation is okay.

It's okay to do that in some way. It doesn't mean you're a bad person if you're masturbating - it doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. It is actually really healthy to desire pleasure and to realize like, "Oh if I wanna feel pleasure I can give that to me - I can be in charge of that. There's nothing wrong with it."

And yet, I realize that even for myself talking to people about masturbation evokes deep, deep shame and fear - or at least it did. It did when I first started talking to people about it.

This wasn't that long ago, like REALLY talking to people. Not talking about... "What do you think about masturbation?" talking about "Do you masturbate?"

"I do. Tell me about when you masturbate. Tell me about where you masturbate. Tell me about the conflicts that masturbation creates in your life."

"Tell me about your relationship with masturbation." Now I bring this up because this is an incredibly private conversation for most people. Why is it private? Could it be because we're embarrassed or we feel some sort of shame about the fact that we might do that? Yeah, yeah, it's powerful stuff.

So I'm glad I broached the topic here with you. I do masturbate. I'm just gonna let you know, that's part of my life.

It's not like hourly or anything like that, but it happens and sometimes I'm just in my body and feeling the pleasure in the sensation wherever it is in me, and I'm really grounded and rooted in me, and sometimes, I'm exploring in my imagination connection with another person, could be a real person could be an imagined person.

I actually get a lot of energy from it to tell you the truth, a lot of energy for the rest of my life.

Now, on the show, I've talked a lot about sexual practices that don't involve having peak orgasms. And so while we're on the topic of masturbation I'll just let you know that I don't often have a peak climax while I'm masturbating, I don't. But that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy the process - and I just choose the right time to stop and move on to the next thing while I'm all energized, and fired up and no in case you were wondering, I didn't do that before I started recording today. But maybe when I do the show that's completely about masturbation, maybe that's what I'll do - is I'll just do a little warm up before I get on the mic. That'll be interesting. If I have a guest, maybe I'll encourage them to do it as well is so we can all be on the same page anyway. I didn't mean to go completely off topic, on to the topic of masturbation. I offered it, just as an example of a place where many of us harbor a lot of shame and I wanna shine a light on all those places through this show.

So this might be an opportunity for you if there's something that you, in particular, feel shame about and you felt comfortable recording yourself asking a question about it, send that to me and if you don't feel comfortable recording yourself than at least email it to me. And you can email questions at Relationship Alive dot com, and that will get to me because these things are important. So yeah, if there's something going on for you, I wanna know, and we're gonna shine a light not on you, I'm not gonna put the spotlight on you but we're gonna shine a light on the thing because guaranteed, you are probably not experiencing something that no one else is experiencing or that no one else has experienced. A friend of mine on Facebook the other day, and I'm trying not to be on Facebook all that much these days, 'cause it's a bit of a shit show, but a friend of mine on Facebook said "post something down below in the comments that you're sure no other of my friends has ever done that you've experienced."

And so I was thinking about that and I was like, "What would I post? And the reality is that almost everything I came up with, I was pretty sure that none of their friends had experienced it, but that it's likely that someone out somewhere had experienced it.

The point being that you are not alone and if nothing else, I'm here with you.

But our unique existence on this planet, isn't so unique that we don't... That things don't happen that we share in common with other people, so even if you don't masturbate, I know there's thousands and thousands of people masturbating. In fact, there are probably thousands of people masturbating right now as we are having this conversation, that's probably happening.

I don't know where they are. That would be interesting, but I know that they're out there guaranteed.

And so, I thank you to all of you out there who are masturbating right now, thank you for owning your pleasure and hopefully you're finding a way to do it where it feels healthy and fulfilling and not something that you're just hiding about.

So let's let this be... Let's... Let relationship alive, be about what's true about relationships. And again, that's been the journey that I've been on this whole time, but just like I was saying, it's a journey. We're evolving and I'm realizing some things that are true that might have even been true all along, but I wasn't ready to realize them. But now, I'm ready, I'm inviting it, and I invite you to invite it to so we can be on this journey together. I have a feeling that it's gonna be worth it.

Partly because of how freeing it will be, and also partly because we are gonna change the world, you and I and our friends and our lovers, and our children, we are gonna change the world - and it may not look perfect tomorrow, it may never looks perfect, but just like our own growth, it will be better tomorrow than it is today, and it will get better and better and better.

I know that for sure, I know that to be true, and that's my wish for you.

So along those lines, I have some special episodes coming up.

I had a recent conversation with David Burns, the author of Feeling Good. His new book, Feeling Great is not out yet - I'm really looking forward to that.

He's one of the world's foremost cognitive behavioral therapists who has evolved beyond cognitive behavioral therapy with a new approach that very much incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy. In fact, what I really like about David Burns, is that he is not afraid to draw from whatever tradition he finds is helpful, and works, and so I had a really awesome conversation with him that I'm looking forward to sharing with you. And the conversation actually led to two sessions with him, that he did with me - one was dealing with overwhelm and all the negative thoughts that were happening within me and turning those around. And then another session about procrastination.

I'm sure you never have to deal with procrastination, right?

So there's gonna be a special series of episodes. It's a lot - there's probably in total, about three hours or so maybe three and a half hours worth of stuff there, so I'm not gonna put it all out at once, but we're gonna kick that off probably next week or maybe the week after. And I thought it would be really valuable for you to hear a master working with me, so you can hear a little bit of my reality - the negative thoughts I struggle with, and you get to hear what it's like to actually work with them and come out on the other side. And there's some pretty cool ways that David approaches that - and you'll hear how challenging it was for me to take them on because they were so radically different from how I would typically handle let's say a negative thought.

And that's why maybe one of those negative thoughts would persist.

So I want you to hear that I think it'll be instructive for you to hear one of the world's masters working. I've done that a few times on the show. I had a really deep session with Ken page in one of our conversations on deeper dating - and with Dick Schwartz talking about internal family systems where he did a session with me.

Yeah, so it's a little vulnerable, but I'm looking for to you hearing it and it's all in the interest of being real. So let's just be real with each other, okay? We don't have to pretend to be perfect, and therefore, we can accept that we are imperfect, people, and hopefully we can accept that the people around us are imperfect, and we can just be on this journey together, in ways that feed us and when it stops feeding us, let's be honest about that, too, and let's feel as free as we can to make choices that aren't about shame, but that are about you and the people who are important to you, being your best self. And sometimes that involves work, you have to do on your own, sometimes it involves work you do together sometimes it involves being together sometimes it involves going your separate ways and that's just what fucking is. You heard it here first, or if you've already heard that before, you heard it here again, Alright, peace out. I'm really psyched to be on this journey with you, and to see where it takes us. As I mentioned David burns' coming up, we also have a guest who's a friend of mine, who happens to be a behavioral scientist talking about dating, that's coming up in the next few weeks on Relationship Alive and hopefully we will also be featuring some of your questions too. In the meantime I'm sending you so much love, and encouragement and good health, and we're in this together. Thank you for being here with me.

Apr 25, 2020

Life doesn’t always lead to Happily Ever After (or Happily For Now) - like a romance novel. However, romance novels tap into something deep in our heart and psyche - keeping us turning the pages to see just how it’s all going to unfold. You can use the lessons from fiction to craft your own personal love adventure. This week we’re talking to Mara Wells, author of Cold Nose, Warm Heart - about the craft of romance writing, to learn what fuels our real-life desires. You’ll avoid the mistakes that not only would destroy a good plot line - but that also would send a perfectly good relationship down the tubes. And you’ll get some ideas for how to keep the passion flowing when you’ve moved past seduction - to doing each other’s laundry.

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:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources: 

Pick up the new Mara Wells Book, Cold Nose, Warm Heart - and support independent booksellers! (or you can pick it up on Amazon as well)

Check out Mara Wells’s website for more information about her novels.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide

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

www.neilsattin.com/romance Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Mara Wells.

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

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. What do we know about what drives the human heart? And not just in terms of love and connection but also in terms of desire. There are any number of ways to approach this question and I wanted to try something a little bit different in today's episode because I happen to be good friends with someone who is an author in the romance genre. And I thought what would be better than to dive in to romance writing and to figure out what that can actually teach us about how we operate as humans. And if there weren't something there, it wouldn't sell millions and millions of books every year and so there's clearly something there that romance writing taps into, and so I wanna mine it for all it's worth with today's guest. Her name is Mara Wells and she is the author of the new book, Cold Nose, Warm Heart, which is the first novel in the Fur Haven Dog Park series.

Neil Sattin: And I gotta say, it's actually the first bit of fiction that I've read in years because I'm mostly reading non-fiction for this podcast and I really enjoyed it. It was just such a great escape for me to take a couple of days and dive into the world of Fur Haven Dog Park. And we'll find out a little bit more about what that means but is as usual, we will have a transcript for today's episode, which you can get if you visit neilsattin.com/romance or you can text the word Passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And I think that's it. Let's just dive in. Mara Wells, thank you for joining us today on Relationship Alive.

Mara Wells: Thank you so much for inviting me, Neil. I really appreciate this opportunity.

Neil Sattin: You're welcome. You're welcome. And as I was talking just a moment ago, I had this sudden hesitation like, "Is it okay to call this a romance novel?" Is this a romance novel, what you wrote?

Mara Wells: It is absolutely a romance novel.

Neil Sattin: Okay.

[chuckle]

Mara Wells: The definition of a romance novel is that you have a guaranteed Happily Ever After or at least Happily For Now. In the industry, the HEA or HFN, and if it meets that criteria, the guaranteed happily ever after ending and that the relationship is the primary focus of the story, it's a romance.

Neil Sattin: Got it. Yeah, that makes sense.

Mara Wells: It's a big, big world.

Neil Sattin: And I was wondering because as I was talking to a friend of mine about this interview, I was like, "Yeah, this... " Like, it's a romance book, it's got sex and romance and relationship and she was like, "Well, there are a lot of books that have that." So we were sitting with this puzzle of like, "Well, what does make it a romance book versus just like a good book that has sex and heart-centered interactions and steamy interactions and... " So is that the working definition right there or is there more that defines it?

Mara Wells: Yes. A romance novel has a relationship as the primary focus, a romantic relationship as the primary focus of the story and then we have a guaranteed happily ever after ending or at least happily for now. Within the novel, there's some expansion in the definition. Sometimes we see the happily ever after is guaranteed at the end of a series if we're following one couple through a series but usually it's contained within the one novel.

Neil Sattin: Got it. Yeah, and I think part of what fueled me as a reader was I knew that was gonna happen and I was wondering how it was gonna play out. So there's maybe a bit of a beauty in that when you pick up a book like this where it's like, okay, you know that it's probably gonna work out, it's gonna work out on some level. You may not know all the twists and turns, and discovering those twists and turns is part of what keeps you going.

Mara Wells: Right. We read for the twists and turns. We read for the journey and I think I've... Before I was a romance writer, I was a romance reader and so for me as a reader, there's comfort in knowing what the ending is going to be and so I'm actually able to enjoy that journey more. And to see the ways in which it plays out individually for every different couple.

Neil Sattin: Now I hadn't thought about this at all but just hearing you say that makes me wonder if there's some element of that when you actually meet a person that part of why you can meet someone and within a few seconds you can make a snap decision about whether or not this person is gonna be a good person like a good fit for you, romantically. And that's not always true, right? 'Cause we can meet people where we don't necessarily think that and then they surprise us because we get to know them a little better and we uncover the things that draw us to them. So it's not true 100% of the time but I'm thinking back on any number of relationships that I've been in and wondering if that's part of it. You meet someone and you're like, "Oh, something's gonna happen with this person and now let's uncover the twists and turns that get us there."

Mara Wells: Right. If we think of story and then also the story of our own lives as being focused on the journey rather than the outcome because unlike fiction, the outcome in real life isn't guaranteed. But being able to focus on the journey makes that process enjoyable.

Neil Sattin: Right. Well, in terms of the happily ever after or the happily for now ending, I'm not really sure what that means for the genre. It wouldn't surprise me if... It's just the stereotypical... Like the movies, they never show you what happens after the people get together and that's so much of what we face in our lives is we live that romantic journey that brings us together with a person but then there's the laundry, I can't remember who said that but.

Mara Wells: [chuckle] Right. And I think that's actually one of the reasons why series are very popular in the romance genre because we live in the same world with the characters so, for example, in my series, book two goes on to follow... Caleb is the main hero of book one and he has a brother Lance who becomes the hero of book two and another brother Knox who becomes the hero of book three but Caleb doesn't go away. So in book two when we're invested in Lance and Carrie's relationship, Caleb and Riley from book one are still around. And we get to see how their life is playing out as they become secondary characters in the series and I think that's some of the delight of the series' experience for readers and actually, I'm experiencing it as a writer now, that we do get to see what happens afterwards and who is doing the laundry. [chuckle] And how are they balancing all of the challenges that they had as a couple to get together. Did they actually come up with a working solution so they can stay together? And, of course, the answer in romance is they did.

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: But you get to see that in an ongoing way...

Mara Wells: Yes.

Neil Sattin: In which it... That's cool. Yeah.

Mara Wells: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: So you get to check in with them and who's pregnant now and now what's happening and... In my series, you get to see the dogs again and you get to see that that happily ever after is really actually happening.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Wow. Now I really wanna read book two. I love how in Cold Nose, Warm Heart I love how the dogs play a role from the very beginning. You've got Caleb who enters this building and... Can I reveal a little bit of the intro of the plot?

Mara Wells: Yes. Absolutely yes.

Neil Sattin: So Caleb walks into this building and he's on a mission to save the family business, resurrect the family business because it's gone through this huge upheaval. And so he walks into this building that his grandfather has potentially offered him and he's just noticing how it's fallen into disrepair and there are just all these things wrong. But he's also assessing it for its potential as an economic engine to revitalize the family business and then at some... One of the very first things that happens is this cute little poodle runs over to him. So he's scratching the poodle and even that is a source of irritation for him because there aren't supposed to be pets in the building but there's this poodle that's running over to him but he's good with dogs like any good hero would be, I would think.

Mara Wells: Yes.

Neil Sattin: Right? The villain kicks the puppy, the hero scoops him up in his arms. And so, he's cuddling the puppy and at the same time thinking about how he's gonna have to fire the building manager, this horrible dude named Riley Carson who clearly is not doing his job. And then this beautiful woman runs down the hall to recover her escaped poodle and they get into this bantery conversation and in the end I think he asks her out for dinner. I might be remembering this not quite right but he's like, "We should get dinner." And she's like, "You don't even know my name." And he's like, "Well, what's your name?" And she introduces herself as Riley Carson so... And that's where the plot just goes from like, "Oh my god," for me, like, "How am I gonna deal with this?" I'm reading a romance novel, 'cause that's where I started, to like, "Oh my god, what's gonna happen?" I had that initial like, "How is this gonna work out?"

Mara Wells: Right. And she says, "And you are?" And he says, "I'm here to fire you."

Neil Sattin: Right.

Mara Wells: And so that starts off their... The trope is enemies to lovers, right? They're on opposite ends. He wants to take the building down and rebuild it as luxury condos, she wants to preserve it and restore its art decor history. Both of them can't have their way. How will that work out? And it occurred to me when you were describing the book, about how he's coming in to assess the building and to think about it, its potential for the future. Isn't that a nice metaphor for relationships as well?

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. And with maybe the interesting twist of that being with a building, there is the sense of like, "Well, if I had to, I could tear this sucker down and start over." If you enter a relationship thinking, "Alright, I'm gonna tear this sucker down and start over."

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: It might not be the best start.

Mara Wells: I think some people do. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: They do. That's for sure. That's for sure.

Mara Wells: But he has to learn that that's not the best way forward. There's something beautiful about the history. There's something beautiful about the cracks in the terrazzo and the crumbling facade that's worth saving.

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. And I think one thing that's really lovely about the plot of your book is that they do negotiate that and navigate that really beautifully in a way that makes it feel like change happens pretty organically, the way that change does happen in real life 'cause it's not that people don't change but when you wanna introduce wholesale change with a person, that's a recipe for challenge and disaster. People resent that. And so, that initial tension, "I'm here to fire you," and, "I'm gonna tear this whole place down," that introduces that same level of conflict and resentment. "Well, wait a minute." Like, "That's not okay. You can't take this place that I love and that I manage and just toss everyone out and... " Like, "That's not gonna work." Just like in real life.

Mara Wells: Yes, I have a controlling belief in my own life that you can't change people but people do change, so the opportunity to change comes and people will take it or they don't but you can't force it on them. I think what's also interesting about the building as a metaphor is that Caleb is also not wrong. That place is deteriorating and there's the population, it's a 55 plus building so they're all senior citizens, with the exception of Riley, the building manager. And they're living in a building that the elevator is about to break down, that the plumbing is very inconsistent, that there's a lot of hazards for them living there. So it can't just go on as it is.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Mara Wells: It is deteriorating. He's not wrong but she's not wrong either. And for me that was the fun of the book, was how can they both... How can they be on opposite sides. And how do they come to understand.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. So that makes me start to wonder about the general principles of romance writing and how we start extracting even more about what fuels us as humans. And I wonder if you can give us some insight into how those problems are so important to the structure of the form of romance writing.

Mara Wells: Yes. So my thinking about romance changed drastically a number of years ago when I read a book by Jayne Ann Krentz called... Oh, of course my brain just blanked on it. Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, and it's a sort of academic treatise about the romance genre in which she argues that romance is inherently feminist because what it's ultimately arguing for is a balance. A Yin Yang balance by the end of the book, that nobody has more power than anybody else in a relationship, in the world that's created in the book, that ultimately all romances the arc is toward balance and partnership, equal partnership. And I think that's a really beautiful way of thinking about it. [chuckle] There are many tropes and almost inside jokes in romance at this point and one of them is that the hero has to grovel at some point. He has to be taken down a peg.

[laughter]

Mara Wells: And that doesn't happen. Again, anything I say about romance isn't true of every single romance but there are definitely trends that we see. But again, it's not that he's being taken down, it's often that men do have more power, especially in particular societies and time periods that the stories might be happening in. And so, it's not that they have to be taken down to be taken down, it's that if we're going to have an equal partnership, there has to be an acknowledgement of who has advantages and who doesn't, and a balancing of power.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And how does that stack up for you in terms of the differentials in power being part of what creates the tension versus wanting to end up at a place that feels more balanced?

Mara Wells: So I think the driving force in writing romance for me has been that there are these disparities between them, there is this unequal balance. Caleb is from a very privileged family, Riley is not, something as basic as that, but ultimately they desire each other. There's some sort of attraction that they just can't shake. And there are moments of rejection where it's like this just can't work, this person is not for me but it's that desire that brings their attention back to each other over and over again. So I'm not sure what I'm saying there except perhaps that the logical reasons we might choose to stay or not stay with somebody are overridden in romance by this attraction, this desire, this wanting, and the wanting is for everything that other person is. And often, the other person has some aspect of life that the hero or heroine is lacking.

Mara Wells: So Caleb has this money, this privilege, this utter confidence that anything he does will turn out right and Riley needs that. But Riley has connection and love and family, and Caleb doesn't and he needs that. So the physical attraction is, again, I think a metaphor for attraction to the missing parts in their own lives.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, and that is super true in real life for sure, is that we often connect with other people who illuminate aspects of ourselves that are underdeveloped or that we really want or need in our own lives. And at the same time, they can highlight the places where we might feel incompatible or like, "Well, that person, they don't have strong ties with their family. So how could I be with that person?" And I think that represents some core conflicts that people... Inner conflicts that happen in the choice of a partner is navigating that question of like, "Well, okay, they have these things that I don't have and I want that or they don't have these things that I do have and that frightens me." Yeah.

Mara Wells: Right. And the choice to move ahead in the relationship anyway is always a risk because as much as you might long for something that's not in your life, it's also not in your life for a reason. Right? Some fear perhaps is holding you back, some hurt from the past has shut down that part of yourself and so you can long for it and be afraid of it at the same time.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: So it's attraction and repulsion can be happening in the same moment.

Neil Sattin: In the same moment. Yeah.

Mara Wells: Yeah. And then...

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And you see that in the characters in your book. I'm thinking about the way that they are, even in this initial scene where they are sussing each other out and then you also get a glimpse into their inner monologue around the proximity of their hands on the dog's back. They're both petting the dog and their fingers are a mere inch apart and how many times does that happen where you're in that moment of wondering like, "Well, what would it be like to just cross the distance?" What would it be like to actually follow through on an impulse and at the same time to have all those inner resistances coming up like, "Well, here are all the reasons why I shouldn't do that."

Mara Wells: And I think we, in real life, we're socialized that certain things are acceptable and not acceptable in interactions and we navigate our lives very carefully. And I think the promise of romance is that when you reveal who you really are, your partner loves you. That it's unconditional acceptance of the good and the bad. And of course, it's the bad that we're hiding for most of the book. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: Right.

Mara Wells: But the worst has to come out at some point so that the person can be loved with that as part of the understanding.

Neil Sattin: Right. Exactly. Exactly. Or else it sets you up for a disastrous book two of the series.

Mara Wells: Yes.

[chuckle]

Mara Wells: Yes. The new couple can't be getting together while the couple from the first book is breaking up like that.

[laughter]

Mara Wells: That is not acceptable.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah. Just out of curiosity, when would that be acceptable in a romance book for a couple to part ways? Would it ever be acceptable?

Mara Wells: That is the type of relationship that happens before the book starts. So we might have heroes or heroines who are coming out of a bad relationship or a relationship that wasn't quite right for them but we don't... Yeah, I'm trying to go through the library in my head but again, the promise of romance is that happily ever after.

Neil Sattin: Right.

Mara Wells: So even if a couple does break up over the course of the story, they are gonna get back together.

Neil Sattin: Right. Right. So if you're a long time listener of the show, you might understand that that kind of ending, I might feel a little jaded about that at the present moment.

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: And Mara, you... We've known each other a long time so you know that as well. And in fact, that was maybe my hardest, the hardest thing for me in the book as just someone who's been through a divorce is appreciating every single aspect of the journey. And then there was something about the happily ever after that I loved. It actually brought tears to my eyes as much as I hate to say it but it did and at the same time I was like, "Damn." Like, you went all the way there, in those last couple of chapters and I was like, "Did it have to? Did it really have to?" But maybe someone like, where splitting up is slightly less fresh for them would appreciate that a little bit more.

Mara Wells: Right. And the other thing is that romance is in many ways a fantasy of what... It's a fantasy of equality and equal partnership, right?

Neil Sattin: Mm-hmm.

Mara Wells: It's not claiming that this is real. It's not saying, "This is how all relationships work out." It's saying, "Wouldn't it be beautiful if this is how relationships worked out? Isn't this something to aspire to?"

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, so there's that danger, I suppose, in... There's the way that it can fuel us, that ideal, and I think that vision is such an important aspect of how we construct our relationships, holding on to an ideal vision, and at the same time, being willing to accept imperfection as part of real life versus what happens in a fantasy novel.

Mara Wells: Right.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, it's a tough balance but the beauty, I guess, of a book, is that you can preserve the fantasy of where romance takes us, which is... Yeah.

Mara Wells: Right. And the... You know, the first step of change in the real world is imagining that change can happen. And so, I think, in a lifetime of reading romance, that's what I'm imagining, right?

Neil Sattin: Mm-hmm.

Mara Wells: That that change is possible and equal partnership is possible, and that there's hundreds of thousands of ways for that to play out. You know, Caleb and Riley's journey is not your journey, but it's a journey.

Neil Sattin: Right, right. What have you loved about... What drew you to romance as a reader, I guess, first? And then I'll be curious to hear about that as a writer, 'cause you haven't always been writing romance.

Mara Wells: I started reading romance when I was about 10, which is probably on the young end of the spectrum, for reading romance. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: I know, I was thinking about that, actually, with this book. I was like, "Well, it's about dogs." And I couldn't find my copy, the first copy of the book that you sent me, I couldn't find it. I have the sneaking suspicion that it could have ended up upstairs in my daughter's room, 'cause it's about dogs, you know? So, I should go look a little bit more thoroughly [chuckle] for that, probably.

Mara Wells: Yes. Luckily, we don't outgrow our love of dogs. So, I started young, but I think it was piggybacking right off my love of fairy tales. I would dress up as Cinderella for Halloween for almost every Halloween of my childhood. So, I loved fairy tales a lot and romance novels seemed to me to be the grown-up version of fairy tales. And I think you can see a little bit of Cinderella in Cold Nose, Warm Heart.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, absolutely.

Mara Wells: Yes.

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: Now that you mention it. [chuckle] There's even a fairy godmother. Oh my gosh, that's funny. Okay.

Mara Wells: Yeah. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: But there is no wicked... I'm just trying to think. There's no evil stepmother, really. There's the absent mother, which may be is a little bit, right?

Mara Wells: Right, there's the absent mother. And I think that I personally don't believe in evil people that are just purely evil. And so, the... Caleb's family is evil. His dad is evil, right?

Neil Sattin: Right, right.

Mara Wells: But even they have redeeming qualities. Nobody is the villain in their own story, so they might appear villainous in someone else's story, but they have their reasons. They've made the best choices they can make.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, so important to recognize 'cause I think that is a part of how we victimize ourselves, is by projecting someone else being evil onto them, as opposed to looking for, "Well, what was their intention?" I don't think I've ever done that with the Cinderella story, is like, well, what... You know, the stepmother, she was just trying to get those dresses made for her daughters, she was just... I mean, she did say some pretty cruel shit to Cinderella, you gotta admit, but... [chuckle]

Mara Wells: Yes. Yes. Or not... Yeah. No one is at their best all the time. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: Isn't that the truth? Yeah. So, it being an extension of that, that's what drew you in. And then, what drew you to writing in this genre?

Mara Wells: I've been writing for a long time, and I had published a young adult novel many years ago. And I was just feeling really frustrated, and I had written this book that had gotten many, many beautiful, beautiful rejections.

[chuckle]

Mara Wells: And I had done one more round of revisions and sent it to my agent, and she said, "So, what are you gonna work on next?" And I just started crying, I was like, "I don't know. I feel like I've been knocking on this door for so long, and it's never gonna open again." I had my shot and that was it. And I said, "I can't even stand to read anything right now, except romance novels. I'm just binging romance novels, many, many, many per week." And she said, "Well, why don't you write a romance novel?" And I was like, "Oh, ha ha ha. I'm not gonna ruin my one true escapist thing that I do to escape the world. That's my hobby, that's my relaxation time. Why on earth would I turn that into my job?"

Mara Wells: But she kept talking to me, and she convinced me to do it. And that's why I had been avoiding it for all these years, was I thought if I became a writer of romance, I'm going to read them differently, more critically, more craft-oriented. But what I found is that I have the same joy in writing the romance novels that I have in reading them. So, I'm really excited that she pushed me in that direction because writing has become more joyful for me now. I enjoy figuring out the twists and turns along the way, and what made me a romance reader is really feeding the romance writing, as well. So, I've been telling people we get advice, as writers, all the time, to write what you know, which I think is pretty terrible advice 'cause we have a pretty limited worlds, [chuckle] most of us.

[chuckle]

Mara Wells: But I think "Write what you love" is very good advice.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And that comes through. One, I have to say your skill as a writer comes through in reading the book. There was never a place to me that felt awkwardly worded or there were places where I could tell that I was like, "Oh, that's kind of an inside joke." Or "That's Mara being clever."

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: And I liked it. I loved it. And so your skill as a writer definitely comes through and for it being your first book in this genre, like that... I think your love of the genre also came through, your knowing it backwards and forwards, in the way that the journey was really useful for me.

Mara Wells: I'm glad.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: Yeah.

Neil Sattin: I have a confession to make, which is that this is the first romance novel that I've ever read cover to cover. There are plenty of romance novels, mostly in my teens, I would say, and early 20s when it was really hard to access anything that was remotely erotic or sexual.

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: Where I would skip to... I'd find a romance book and I'd skip to the good parts that I never... I don't know what happened in any of those books. I just know that who fucked who basically and so it was nice, actually, to sit down and really enjoy the whole way through which was... It was cool. Cool to experience that. What do you think... Let's talk about the erotic for a minute because we're talking about longing and attraction and... What is it that fuels eroticism in a romance novel and yeah, makes it compelling in that way? What... Something that turns us on.

Mara Wells: I think it's the longing. I think it is that moment of not knowing if you should touch fingers or not, that plays out later in the sex scenes. So that the thing that makes the sex scenes very satisfying is tension and longing that lead up to it. So I would say to your younger self, who was just skipping to the erotic scenes like, You missed out.

[laughter]

Mara Wells: You missed the part that made...

Neil Sattin: Oh, poor guy.

Mara Wells: Yeah, that made those scenes more powerful because they are finally a release of this tension and a culmination of this partnership and that ultimate integration of the opposites. So I think it's the wanting that makes having satisfying. But that said, there are... In romance, we call it heat levels. There are varying degrees of heat levels and so it spans from the story ends with kissing, right? That once they kiss, we know that they're gonna have their happily ever after and we never see more than that, that's one end of the spectrum and on the other end, we have erotica. And the romance novels fall all along that spectrum of heat. So I will say that when I decided to write romance, I was nervous about that part of it. [chuckle] And I read all over the heat spectrum. I enjoy all of it but I didn't know as a writer where I would fall comfortably.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And so was that just a discovery process for you or did you have a target heat level or...

Mara Wells: Yes. I did not have a target heat level, I just thought, "Well, let's see how it goes." So I got to the part in the first draft where I knew that I had to write that scene. That scene. And at the time, my father was living with us because he had been having some medical problems and I tend to write early in the morning, and he's an early riser and he kept... He would wander through the room that I was working in and talk to me, and I was like, "Oh, I can't... I can't write this scene."

[chuckle]

Mara Wells: Thinking that my dad's gonna walk in any moment, right? I just can't. I can't.

[laughter]

Mara Wells: So I went... [laughter] So I put it off until I had some time and I went to a coffee shop that's in my neighborhood and I sat there. I have this couch I like to sit on and I wrote it, and I was pretty happy with it. I was feeling very proud and then I looked up and I'm sitting in this room with music playing, surrounded by a bunch of people and I had been so much in my own little bubble world there that I... I just remember feeling so hot, I know I must've blushed dark, dark red and I texted my friend Kait Ballenger who's been a really beautiful, wonderful mentor for me on this romance journey and I was like, "So I just wrote my first sex scene in a coffee shop and I don't know how I feel about that." And she texts back, "Welcome to Romancelandia."

[laughter]

Mara Wells: "You're gonna find yourself writing them in lots of places." [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: That's so funny. And even the... For me, I think about what runs through our head potentially when we're at a coffee shop so there's that level and even the beautiful aspect of your father walking through the room or that fear of what that's like to feel. How many parents of young children are trying to find time to be sexual but the kids could bust in at any moment. And you're in the bathroom with the shower on and the door locked and hoping that they don't pound for too long 'cause that would be child abuse, right? If they're like, "I can't get in." Never been there, so...

Mara Wells: Yeah. [laughter]

Neil Sattin: Yeah, so that's some of the real life aspects of it as well. In terms of determining the heat level, is that about language or...

Mara Wells: Yeah, it's about specificity. And so I think that I landed in a heat level that I... This is not a technical term, but I call soft focus. So we have some idea of what's going on, but I haven't really zeroed in on every breath, every touch. It's kind of I picture the camera pulled back and we got kind of a fuzzy lens on.

Neil Sattin: Right, which leaves some up to the imagination.

Mara Wells: Yes, yes. And so, you can go less heat than that where it's even more fuzzy, I guess you could say, and then other novels get much steamier and more specific in what's going on.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I actually have another friend that... Someone that I've known even longer than I've known you, who writes... I wonder I should chat with her, she might consider it more erotica than romance, but it's all based around aliens so it's people having sex with aliens. And I imagine you have to get fairly explicit and it still leaves a lot up to the imagination once you're dealing with alien body parts.

Mara Wells: [chuckle] Yes.

Neil Sattin: And I'm taken back... I actually wanna just mention that I feel somewhat vulnerable and laid bare with that talking to the young part of me, and that is interesting for me to just sit within this moment, that sense of how much what fuels attraction and those maybe moments of culmination where you're actually kissing someone or you're being sexual with someone. How much of that is the longing, the tension that leads up to that moment? And this is a classic challenge for... And it's not really necessarily a gendered thing, but some people are just sexual and they don't actually need all of that build up. They're able to talk about sex, think about sex, and then let's have sex versus there are other people who are more focused in the tension, the build up, the longing and that just needs to be there in order for there to be fuel for the actual coming together, so to speak, to be desirable. You don't get there without the tension and the longing, for those people.

Mara Wells: And then what happens when you're in a long-term relationship?

Neil Sattin: Right, right.

Mara Wells: And that tension and longing has been satisfied. Then what fuels desire?

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: Then I end the book so the rest is for you to figure out.

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: Right. Right, I don't have to figure that out. Yeah, that's why those characters become secondary and tertiary characters. You just get to assume that they're doing whatever it takes to make that happen. Yeah, but that is the big challenge of any long-term relationship is how do you fuel passion and juice? And so often this falls into what we were talking about a few moments ago where people land in different places and it's very common for someone who needs tension and longing to end up with someone who doesn't. And so how do you do that, how do you... How do you cross worlds? And it's a challenge for both people to figure out 'cause sometimes that person who needs the tension and longing, it's helpful for them to figure out what do I need to do in order to show up so I can just be in a sexual experience with my partner that didn't require sexy texts for three days to get us to this moment?

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: And vice versa. Where the 0-60 in 0.3 seconds partner can be like, Alright, what do I need to do to... What does get my partner in the mood? What helps them, what helps fuel their desire, so that they'll meet me there 'cause it's so easy for me, it may not be for them. And it's actually not a problem with them, it's just how they're wired. They're wired differently.

Mara Wells: Yeah, and the romance answer to that is both people are right. And the relationship is about negotiating that. How do you accept that about your partner and integrate that into your life together?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, I like that for a real life answer as well.

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: That both people are actually right and so if both people are right, what does that mean? That forces us to get creative as opposed to making the other person wrong and then forcing them to change, which was one of the very first things we were talking about. Forcing them to change, being not the most sustainable approach. Yeah.

Mara Wells: If you wanna stay together. If you're looking for a way to break up, it's probably fairly efficient.

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: But this also makes me think about... Romance has had a history of readers being shamed for their reading choices and I think in the past few years, the conversation has really changed where romance writers are pushing back and saying, What's shameful about female desire? What's shameful about fantasy, right? Why do we call it a guilty pleasure? Why can't we just call it a pleasure...

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: To read. And I think that that extends beyond reading choices. I think that in relationships as well, you can't have a guilty pleasure or a secret desire that you're keeping from your partner and have that work out long term. And so I think part of romance's job is to take the shame out of whatever desire people feel because again, ultimately, that happily ever after is guaranteed, and the partners have to accept each other exactly for who they are. So whatever is revealed over the course of the novel is accepted and loved. And isn't that a beautiful thing to think about happening in the world as well?

Neil Sattin: Yeah, definitely, definitely. Yeah, I hadn't really thought about that. There is that place where... And shame is kind of the... What's the word I'm looking for? Shame is the challenge of someone who maybe is a little kinky, where something being a secret or being taboo does fuel them, does create a little bit bit of charge and juice for them, and shame is the shadow of that. The potential for it to feel shameful because most people aren't turned on when they're feeling shame. They're looking for a way to escape from that feeling of shame. So yeah, I hadn't really... That hadn't occurred to me, that romance in and of itself could be a way to reduce the shame that people feel around different kinds of desire and as a way of experiencing differences as being acceptable and accepted. Yeah. No wonder I liked your book so much.

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: Yeah. I think it's instructive. As I was reading it, maybe because there are aspects of it that are when you read it, you know. I knew, "Okay, this is when... I can see it coming. This is when they're gonna kiss for the first time," and it's like... So even the knowing, there was something about it that... Yeah, I feel like in this moment, could actually be more instructive for a person to read than reading a book that talks about how you might need tension in order to fuel longing in a... You might need tension and wanting and desire, and it's enough to know that that's true, but then to actually read a romance novel, I think it gives you a sense of how that actually plays out and how that works.

Mara Wells: Right. And do you know that they're going to kiss? And you can feel that kiss coming, and it's that anticipation doesn't ruin the fact that they're going to kiss. It sweetens it. And so you keep reading, not because you're like, "Maybe they're not gonna kiss," but because they are and you wanna see how it goes down.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: Right? Because every first kiss is different and every moment, every intimate moment that people share together, there might be certain moves or phrases that various scenes have in common, but ultimately, every moment is unique. And that's what draws us to it, and it's not... I don't know, it's not... It's predictable, but not in the negative sense of that word. It's predictable in that sense of anticipation way.

Neil Sattin: Right. Right, that phrase, "How's this gonna go down?" That actually came up for me several times as I was reading where I was like, "Alright, how's this gonna... I know that something... This is gonna work itself out somehow, or this, I know this twist, or I know there's a twist coming. What's it gonna be like? How's that gonna go down?" And yeah, it really kept me engaged as a reader and I loved escaping for... Yeah, it was the better part of... I guess it was most of a day and then the day before or a half of the day before where I was just like... That's the privilege of being able to read as part of my living is I could just set a day aside to do that. It felt good. I might have said a guilty pleasure, but I'm not gonna say that anymore.

Mara Wells: There's nothing guilty about it.

Neil Sattin: Yeah.

Mara Wells: I just heard a statistic that romance readers read four times as many books as other types of readers. So I think you can see the... You got a little taste of what drives that market.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, I guess I did.

Mara Wells: Right?

Neil Sattin: What surprised you about your book? As you were writing it, knowing that there's a form to the genre, what... Yeah.

Mara Wells: This isn't always true, again, but my book is in a fairly standard point of view, which is alternating between the hero and the heroine, third person close. And I had never written a male point of view before.

Neil Sattin: Wow.

Mara Wells: I just decided to. And so I think that I was surprised all along the way at how much Caleb had to say and his attitudes, and I guess it shouldn't be surprising because obviously he came out of my mind, but it's like, "Oh, he's just a person too. There's nothing scary about writing a male point of view."

[laughter]

Mara Wells: But the thing that absolutely surprised me is in the first scene where we meet Riley's grandmother and I found out that she's still in love with her ex-husband, 'cause I thought they were just straight up enemies. That I hadn't been planning on, but then it turned into a delightful thread in the book. I enjoyed writing the senior citizen romance quite a bit.

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah, this is one of those things where I'm for you, listening, it's so hard for me to not do any spoilers or plot reveals here because there are so many beautiful moments that I would be sharing with you right now, Mara, because I just loved how they went down and also some of the... 'Cause it's not all sweetness. There's a lot of sarcasm, there's a lot of people digging each other in ways that are affectionate, but also quite cutting at times. But the whole way along, I felt very uplifted at the same time, that people were being really honest with each other. And so I think that the temptation in being like, "Oh, this is a romance novel, that's the fantasy of romance," is to feel like the interactions somehow don't feel real, but I didn't feel that way at all, as I was reading. In fact, you're talking about Caleb's point of view, the male point of view. That's another place where it felt very seamless to me, where I was never like, "Oh I would never, as a guy, I would never think that." Everything he was thinking, I was like, "Yeah, of course, that's exactly what I would be thinking in that moment."

[laughter]

Mara Wells: That's funny. What you were saying about the conversations feeling real and the interactions, it reminded me of something that the writer Richard Peck said in a workshop that I took with him one time. He said, "If you're gonna have a ghost in the scene, you better describe the wallpaper."

[laughter]

Mara Wells: When you have a fantasy element, you have to... The real world of the story has to be absolutely grounded, and I think that that happily ever after isn't believable if everything has gone smoothly and people are all sweet and nice to each other for the whole thing, that doesn't... Right? That doesn't feel real. So the satisfaction of the happily ever after is that it did feel real and they had real problems, and yet somehow managed to transcend that to be together.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, that's I think what part of what makes it inspiring, is that it feels real along the way.

Mara Wells: Yep. And I do describe the wallpaper. I describe the building a lot, so...

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: That's true. Now that you mention it, that is true.

Mara Wells: Yes. My great love of South Beach architecture comes through, I think.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, and I felt like I was there, even though I've only been there once or twice in my life, but it was very vivid, but not in a burdensome way. Some people really get off on reading a lot of scene and setting stuff, and I am not one of those people. I'm like, "Give me the... What's happening? Okay, enough, there are some flowers. What's happening?"

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: Thought you balanced that really well. Yeah.

Mara Wells: Thank you.

Neil Sattin: Well, Mara Wells, congratulations on your first book being out. And in our understanding is that it's doing really well. I saw a lot of really good reviews on Amazon. It's called Cold Nose, Warm Heart. If someone wants to find out more about you and what you're doing, what do they do? Where do they go?

Mara Wells: They can go to my website, marawellsauthor.com and sign up for the newsletter. And then I'm also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. And how many...

Mara Wells: Marawellsauthor.

Neil Sattin: How many books are coming out in the series, at least as far as we know at the moment?

Mara Wells: As far as we know at the moment, there's three. So book two is called Tail for Two, it comes out in July, and Paws for Love comes out March 2021.

Neil Sattin: Awesome. Congratulations.

Mara Wells: Thank you so much.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, I'm really excited for you. And actually, before... We gotta address the dog thing for a minute.

Mara Wells: Oh, okay. [chuckle]

Neil Sattin: So first, why dogs? Why did you personally make that choice to bring dogs into the mix?

Mara Wells: Well, my mother was a dog breeder, so I grew up with the dogs as part of the family. And I've had dogs all my adult life, and I just... I've been thinking a lot about the relationships we have with animals, especially our pets, and how they're not humans. They aren't humans, but they are still part of our lives, really important part of our lives and part of our families, but they don't speak and they don't act human. [chuckle] And so it's this weird... I'm just fascinated by the interspecies aspect of it and how passionately we can feel for dogs because they aren't complicated human beings with other motives going on that we don't know about. They're just love. And if I'm gonna write a romance novel in which unconditional love is an important part, who better to model that for us than dogs?

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Yeah, I think it's hilarious. I hadn't really even considered this until this moment, but you know this and actually a lot of my listeners know that part of what led me to relationship work was my prior life as a dog trainer. So we both have that actually, which I hadn't even really thought about a lot, but... And part of that journey for me was that very thing that you just mentioned about how much dogs are about heart and expression of heart energy. And so that was something that I really appreciated in the book. The dogs and their heart and their personality, they wove in in ways that also seemed very authentic, and I liked that. You just described it beautifully, the way that they're woven into the fabric of who we are, it felt natural, it felt more... There was more texture, really, for me in what I was reading because those beings were included as well.

Mara Wells: Thank you.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Funny, what an interesting thing that we have in common there.

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And so it's a series that revolves around a dog park.

Mara Wells: Yes.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. What keeps that interesting? [chuckle]

Mara Wells: Well, [chuckle] there's an infinite number of dogs and the people attached to them who can come through the dog park. So it gives me a very rich tapestry to pull from, I guess, of characters for upcoming novels. And I think it's a pre-test of people. If you have a dog, then you love the dog and the dog loves you. So you're pre-approved as a decent person, deserving of a novel, perhaps.

[laughter]

Neil Sattin: I love it, I love it.

Mara Wells: Yeah. I was looking for some sort of premise that has the potential for new people to be coming and going. And when we first moved to South Beach, the first place that we made friends was at the dog park.

Neil Sattin: Yeah?

Mara Wells: Yeah. And so the first parties we went to in South Beach were hosted by people we met at the dog park. And so I know that it's a very fluid and welcoming community.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, yeah. And you point out well in the book the ways that when you know people that way, there's so much that you don't know about them because generally you have those conversations that are about your dogs and things that impact your dogs, but... And I like that uncovering that happens in your book about how those people also get to know each other in a more deep way, which is really sweet to follow. And so funny in real life when you're like, "Yeah, I've been hanging out with you for three years and I don't know anything about you." I've had those conversations with people before where it's just like, "Yeah, we were dog park friends."

Mara Wells: Yep.

Neil Sattin: And then here in Portland, Maine, where I live, we had this dog park that was known all over... There were some national public radio stories about it. I think it was very early in the dog park era that this dog park existed, but unfortunately it was also in a historic old cemetery so the people who were the preservationists of the cemetery, and maybe the big wealthy houses that surrounded the cemetery, at a certain point decided that they didn't like hundreds of people showing up there with their dogs.

[chuckle]

Neil Sattin: So that actually went away. There are other dog parks in this town that I haven't explored, but that used to be such a community center. So I think anyone who has a dog who's done the dog park thing will totally relate to that as well.

Mara Wells: Yep.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. Well, Mara, thank you so much for being here with us today on Relationship Alive. This was definitely outside of my wheelhouse to have a conversation like this versus going straight at someone's relationship advice, but this is good stuff for all relationships. I'm really glad that you came on the show and for the joy of reading your book as well as the instructiveness of reading your book. I hope people check you out.

Mara Wells: [chuckle] Ah, thank you, Neil. Thank you. This was really fun. Thank you for inviting me on your show.

Neil Sattin: You're welcome.

Apr 10, 2020

Sometimes you just need simple strategies to give yourself a boost. In today’s episode, we’re going to cover ways that you can increase your sense of wellbeing and connectedness - by harnessing your own biochemistry to foster oxytocin production. This can all be done solo - no partner required (though you can do them with a partner too). Our guest, Dr. Jessica Zager, is a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist, and one of only 5 physical therapists in the world with an AASECT certification in sex counseling. Along with these simple oxytocin-boosting strategies, you’ll also learn a bit about how pelvic floor physical therapy can help with pain during sex. It’s a lighthearted conversation full of practical ways to keep you feeling good, and connected, that you can use whenever...but especially during these times of social distancing.

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:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

This episode is also sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources: 

Check out Jessica Zager's website to pick up her free cheat sheet to boosting oxytocin, and to find out more about her work.

FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide

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

www.neilsattin.com/oxyboost Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Jessica Zager.

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

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. It's an interesting world that we're living in right now with social distancing or sheltering in place happening in most parts of the world to combat the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic that's affecting the world. And I think that there's probably not many of us who can escape the impact that it's having on the degree of closeness and intimacy that we're experiencing with the people in our lives. And if there aren't people in our lives, like if we're single or solo, or if we're separated from people who are important to us, then it brings a whole different dimension to it. Potentially, loneliness and missing out on the benefits of even just connection with close friends or going out on dates.

Neil Sattin: And then, of course, those of us who are cooped up together, that has its benefits and also the challenges as well. So it's an interesting time and for the past several weeks, I've wanted to give you a wealth of resources to help you get through this time, staying sane, staying connected, and feeling connected not only to yourself, but to the people in your life that matter. Today, we're going to cover a special subject. We've talked on the show before about oxytocin, which is sometimes labeled the love hormone. Maybe a bit of a misnomer if you really dive into the scientific literature. But what we do know about oxytocin is that it is one of the chemicals that is in our bodies, and is primarily responsible for pair-bonding and it is also a chemical that helps us feel really good, and when we are connecting to ourself or to others, we can enter into blissful states of transcendence which are different than the ways that we feel when we're focused on activities that are more dopamine-driven.

Neil Sattin: So a long time ago, in Episode 37, we had Sue Carter on the show, who is one of the leading researchers, who discovered oxytocin and its effects on pair-bonding. She was studying prairie voles at the time. But since that research has gone on to cover what happens within humans as well as prairie voles and if you want to listen to that episode, you can visit neilsattin.com/oxytocin. Now, I wanted to have someone new on the show. We were... This person actually happens to be a friend of mine, and we were talking the other day and she mentioned to me that she knew a lot of ways to foster oxytocin within us during these times of social distancing. So I thought it would be great to have her on the show to talk to you about these special techniques.

Neil Sattin: Her name is Dr. Jessica Zager and she's a doctor of pelvic health physical therapy. She's also a sex counselor and a sex educator. She is one of the five physical therapists certified by AASECT, which is the American Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors and Therapists. She is one of the only five physical therapists certified by them in the entire world, which is pretty amazing. And so, she's here to share her vast knowledge of this particular narrow topic, and we'll get also a sense of some of the other things that Jessica does as well. But she is, in my experience, a profoundly kind and generous soul who has lots to offer the world. I know that she does sex counseling for people who have pain during intercourse or who have trouble with desire or libido and arousal. She also works with people around gender identity. And she's friendly to... No matter where you are on the gender spectrum or the kink spectrum, she is a open-minded, open-hearted person who is doing great work in the world.

Neil Sattin: It's a pleasure to know her and call her one of my friends. And Dr. Jessica Zager, it's a pleasure to have you here today on Relationship Alive.

Jessica Zager: I'm so excited to be here with you, Neil. Thank you for that very generous introduction.

Neil Sattin: You are welcome and you deserved every word of it. I just want to let you know that we will have a transcript of this episode as always, you can get that if you visit neilsattin.com/oxyboost, that's O-X-Y as in oxytocin, and boost, B-O-O-S-T. And the things that we're going to talk about today, Jessica also put together a little cheat sheet guide that you can download, that'll have it all listed out in a condensed form for you and you can get that if you visit her website, which is drjzager.com, that's D-R-J, and then her last name, Zager, which is Z-A-G-E-R.com and you'll be able to download the free cheat sheet to all the things that we're going to talk about today to boost your oxytocin in a world where we have to stay six feet apart from each other.

Neil Sattin: And I was just seeing, Jessica, an article today that had this picture of people who were all hanging out on their... In their pick-up trucks, and in their backyards and they were six feet apart from each other. And apparently, this is not what they mean by social distancing. The idea is if you go out in the world, stay six feet from people. But you're not supposed to just like hang out with people staying six feet away from them. That defeats the purpose and you might still... We don't know enough to know if that over a longer period of time would expose you to something from that person or expose them to something from you.

Jessica Zager: Correct.

Neil Sattin: So it's really important, I think, to be observing these... What do we call them? Orders from on high? But they're really kind of orders from within, 'cause we're trying to take care of each other, and at the same time, we don't want to miss out on some of the most treasured aspects of the human experience, the ways that we feel connected to ourselves and to each other. And anyway, that's why we're here, so...

Jessica Zager: I think that's why this has been... One of the reasons why this has been so difficult for people right now is because we're in the midst of this global, worldwide pandemic, and we're being forced to be apart, and it's necessary, and it's beneficial, and then it's what we all need to do in order to help slow the spread, to, as they say, flatten the curve so that we're not overwhelming the healthcare system with as many hospitalizations and crisis situations at one time. But the drive for human connection is so strong that I think it's easy for people to do things, like you just said, and convince themselves that, "Well, as long as I'm six feet apart from my friends, we can hang out." But you're absolutely right, we don't know a lot about this virus, and we don't know exactly how it's transmitted. We keep hearing over and over again that if you are within six feet of somebody for 15 minutes, that puts you at a greater risk for catching the coronavirus. But we don't know about extended periods of time near others but greater than that six feet.

Neil Sattin: Right. Yeah. And I like what you're bringing up, that there's such a drive within us to connect, and I think for many of us, we don't realize just how pervasive... If we're people who are connectors, we don't realize just how much we get from bumping into a friend every so often, and getting and giving a big hug. Or if you're dating, that even if you're just going out and you don't have a steady partner, just that act of being out with someone is igniting something in us that helps sustain us.

Jessica Zager: Definitely. Whenever we are in close contact with people, especially people that we care about, to begin with, that will help to... Help our brains to start to release oxytocin. And as you mentioned, sometimes it's called the love hormone, it's also nicknamed the cuddle hormone, which I think is a little bit more accurate than the love hormone.

Interested in reading a transcript of the rest of this episode?

Click here to download it!

Mar 20, 2020

Sometimes all it takes is a simple adjustment to create a much deeper connection with another person. Today I'll offer you some obvious-but-not-so-obvious ways to foster intimacy - whether you're cooped up with another, or connecting digitally. In this episode I'm also sharing some of the ways that I create deep presence when I'm using video chat to communicate. Strategies you can always use that will come in handy as we social distance to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Simple stuff, with big results.

This week's episode is a follow-up to last week's episode about how to stay connected to yourself and others amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

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

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive.

This is your host, Neil Sattin.

I know, I know I said in last week's episode, that this week, there was gonna be an interview with a friend of mine who's a romance writer, and that interview is coming, but just not this week, so sorry to those of you who are excited for that interview. It will be coming.

I just decided that as a follow-up to last week's episode, Love in the Time of Coronavirus where I talked about some strategies for helping you take care of yourself, helping you take care of your relationship and if you're single, helping you date safely.

During the present moment - I wanted to follow up with a few quick tips for you to help you create intimate space no matter what your situation is. So if you are cooped up with your partner day in day out, because you're on lockdown, and on a strict social distancing regimen with everyone, except your immediate family or if you are dating and communicating digitally through apps and texting, and video chat, I wanted to give you a few hints to help you actually create intimacy no matter which of those settings you're dealing with, so that you can best get that sense of being connected with other people. And I know, I often say This is gonna be a really quick episode, or the other day, I sent an email out and I said This is gonna be a quick email. It ended up being a longer email.

I'm gonna do my best to make this fairly quick because, Hey, there's a lot going on in our lives right now and I'm gonna do my best to honor that for you.

However, before I dive into the meat or the tofu, of the episode, I want to do important things like first just to thank you if you have been contributing to relationship alive to help keep us going, I'm so appreciative of your support. This is a labor of love about love to hopefully help you have the most successful relationship or relationships that you can have, and so if you're finding the podcast to be beneficial for you on your journey or for people that you know and love, please consider a donation to keep us going.

Every little bit counts, and you can choose something that feels right for you if you visit neilsattin.com/support and you can also text the word "support" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. And this week I'd like to thank Angie, David, Sylvia, Elyse, Drew, Marilyn, Lydia, Valerie, and Keerthi, thank you all so much for your contributions to relationship alive and Angie - Sorry, well we'll do the romance novel one soon... Okay, so... Also, I do have a free offering for you along with this podcast. If you're looking for ways to improve your communication with your partner or with people who are important to you, then download my guide, my free guide to the top three relationship communication, secrets - these are things that are fairly easy to put into practice and can really be a huge transforming factor when you're trying to talk about things that are challenging, when you're trying to communicate about something that's important, when you're feeling vulnerable - these action items will help you do that successfully to help you stay connected, no matter how challenging the topic. To download that, just visit neilsattin.com/relate or text the word "relate" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

And before we dive in, we do have a free Facebook group. The relationship alive community, where you can come and join others who listen to the show in a safe space to talk about relationships and get some support for yourself, so or support others. So hopefully I'll see you there, in the relationship alive community on Facebook.

If you're on my email list, which you will be if you've downloaded any of the show guides to the show or if you download the relationship communication tips that I just mentioned, you may see that I recently announced that I created some spots in my calendar to do one-off coaching. This isn't something that I do very frequently, but there's so much going on right now that I wanted to make myself available, so I'm offering it on a sliding scale, and I'll be sending out another reminder soon, so just hop on my list and you can get more information about that. If you need a little extra support, right now, I totally get it. Hey, I need a little extra support right now and I have been reaching out to the people that I count on: a therapist, close friends to get that little extra bit of support when I need it, 'cause none of us should be alone. So, if there isn't anyone in your life that you can count on, then consider signing up for a session 'cause I would love to be there to help support you.

Okay, all right, let's dive in. I'm just like, I have this image of just running for the water and taking a big dive in and that would feel really good right now, except I live in Maine, and it is cold and while I have some friends that I've seen jumping in the ocean on Facebook - I guess that is theoretically good for your immune system to take the cold plunge - I'm not gonna do that right now.

No, in fact I'm still recovering from the cold that I got a little over a week ago, which you may have heard me talk about briefly on the last episode of the show. So far, so good, everything seems okay. Of course, I cannot get tested because they're just aren't enough tests and thankfully, what I'm experiencing isn't severe enough to warrant a test, the way that they are doling them out right now, so I'm doing all right. I'm getting rest, drinking lots of water and I'm gonna be okay, and hopefully we all band together and we'll all get through this. Even though it's kind of a weird challenging time, let's just be honest. It is unlike anything any of us has ever probably dealt with before.

So that's just the reality, and I think that's why this felt so important to give you a few extra hints because we're all in the soup right now, and so it's super important to have as many little tricks as you can to stay connected and to be able to experience intimacy even if you have to keep your distance.

So the first thing that I wanted to talk about has to do with if you are in fact spending a lot of time cooped up with your partner, so you're in our relationship or this could be true even if it's not a love relationship, maybe it's your roommates or if you live with your family. There are a couple of possibilities, one is that it's so easy to be around each other all the time and still kind of be missing each other - to not really have those moments where you feel like you're really dropping in and connecting.

And on the flip side, maybe you're so busy that you're not taking the time to truly connect or maybe you're in each other's business all the time, but not in ways that are particularly connecting.

So here's the hint for those kinds of situations. The hint is to make a date with each other, to actually put time on the calendar and you might wanna do this on a daily basis to have a little check-in if that feels appropriate, or every other day, you gotta go with whatever feels right for you, but I invite you to designate a specific time where you will come together and just check in with a "Hey! How are you doing?"

And to give each other permission to be however you are. Maybe amidst all of this, you're doing totally fine. And if that's true, that's great. Relish that, that things are going a little crazy in the world, and I'm actually doing okay and having that strength or resilience that comes in handy when times get tough.

So the goal here is to celebrate whatever is, and if it's not something that you feel like celebrating exactly - like for instance, if you're NOT doing so great, well, take the word with a grain of salt, you don't have to "celebrate" it, but you can honor it - honor the challenge, honor the fear, honor the sadness or the heart break, honor the rage, and the anger, or honor the okay-ness - honor those moments of exhilaration where you feel like... "Wow, this... Maybe this is all we got, so let's enjoy it." I know yesterday I went out on a couple of really long walks in the sunshine. It's not sunny today, but it was yesterday, and I actually had moments of joy where I felt like I was just seeing the world so clearly, noticing the people around me and saying, "hello" from a safe distance of six feet and just appreciating life, so that those were really good moments for me.

And then I've had moments where I've been scared, I'm scared of what might happen to people that I care about, moreso that than myself, but honestly, I wanna keep living.

You know, I wanna get through this in one piece. So, yeah you gotta just deal with what is and check in with each other. If you're solo or single at this time, make an appointment to check in with yourself, maybe a couple of times during the day to just kind of step back from social media, from the news, from whatever it is you're doing and just check in with your body with your own state of being. This is something that I talked about in the last episode. Make it intentional though. And that way, if you're feeling, on the other side of those things, you were feeling like you're kind of obsessive about how you're feeling, then that's another advantage of setting a time. You have that dedicated time to check-in about your feelings, and then you can get on with your day.

So that's my hint for self and for being in relationship - to carve out time to be intentiona, l to honor each other, to really listen and acknowledge each other, and just to acknowledge if it's good. Awesome, that's good. If it's hard, Okay, it's hard - I hear you.

I'm gonna do a quick message from our sponsor for days episode and then I'm going to offer you some hints on digital intimacy so staying connected, and feeling like you're creating a good container of intimacy in digital communications, whether that be texting or using Zoom or Skype, or something like that, to do video chats.

But today's sponsor has been supporting the podcast for a little while now, I'm so appreciative.

And they are potentially another way for you to get the help that you need the support that you're looking for as you're creating that web of support that is so valuable that we talk about on the show all the time.

So this way that allows you to connect with a professional counselor in an online environment, that's safe and private and obviously respects social distancing, is today's sponsor. Better help with better help you can get help on your own time, and at your own pace. Along with scheduling video or phone sessions, you can also chat and text with your therapist, they are affordable and financial aid is available for those who qualify. So whether it's the current situation with Coronavirus or anxiety or depression or things going on in your relationship, whatever it is, definitely consider better help as a way to help you transform the places where you are stuck, and best of all, it's a truly affordable option because as a Relationship Alive listener, you get 10% off your first month with discount code, a live.

So why not? It started today?

Just go to better help dot com live simply fill out their questionnaire, which will help them assess your needs and get you matched with a counselor that you love, that's better. Help dot com alive, thanks better help.

Alright, I'm gonna keep my promise to you that this is gonna be quick. So let's talk about digital intimacy.

We'll start with texting.

When I was talking before about carving out time to communicate, I think that can be helpful for texting, as well so that you are not just texting off and on throughout your day or texting a bunch of people at once too... Sometimes texting works that way, where it's designed to be asynchronous - meaning you send a message to someone and they may or may not reply to you right away - so I get it, that's how it sometimes works. So this isn't a strict rule but if you get the sense that someone is there on the other end, and ready and willing to text with you then carve at that time, carve out five minutes, 10 minutes, and just focus your energy on texting with your friends and while you are waiting for the other person to text you back instead of checking social media, or going online, or to a your favorite blog or whatever it is, I invite you to just stay present, stay present, with the waiting, waiting, for their communication - breathe, get in touch with what's happening in your body and do your best to just stay focused on that communication with that person.

It makes a difference in not only feeling connected, but in their feeling your presence - especially if you're able to respond back really quickly, because you are giving that other person your full attention via text. That's my hint for texting.

Now, when it comes to video chats, there are a couple of things that I've found that are really helpful and I actually use these tips when I am doing sessions with people, 'cause at this point, almost all the sessions that I do are over Zoom or Skype.

And as you can imagine, it's really important for my clients to feel my presence to feel like we are creating an intimate space for those sessions to occur.

So there are a couple of ways that I like to do that that seemed to work well for me. And I invite you to experiment with them and see what works well for you.

The first thing is to close all your other apps, on your computer or on your phone. I guess if you're doing it on your phone, it's less of an issue because if you switch over to another app, they're gonna know. If you're in your computer, closing your browser closing everything else that's going so that you can give the other person your full attention. If you have a way of turning off your notifications on your computer or on your phone, that's good too, so that you're in a do-not-disturb mode, and you don't have little notifications popping up to disrupt your concentration or your presence. If you're on your computer, you might turn your phone over so that it's face down so that you don't have things on your phone lighting up your phone and distracting you. And the goal is for you to be as present as possible. Another thing I like to do is I like to keep my computer- I do most of my zooming via my computer - and I like to keep it in right in front of me, so whether it's on my desk, or it's on my lap on a board or something, I keep it in front of me, and I actually put my arms out and I put my arms on either side of the computer, almost like I'm holding whatever, whoever is on the other end. I'm holding the image of them on my computer screen, and I do that to create a physical container in the best way possible. That would be like if we were in-person, it would be like the same as us sitting directly opposite each other and me facing you squarely with my body, and giving you my full presence and eye contact, and you knowing that you have my full attention. So one way that I help myself do that and stay focused is by reaching my arms out in a natural way... And having them on either side of my computer as if I'm holding the person that I'm talking to.

Another thing that I like to do - I've been using full screen a little bit more lately. It seems like it's working okay, but a lot of the time, what I'll do is I'll actually switch to minimizing the view of the other person - not minimizing it, so it's off the screen, but getting the little mini version so that instead of their face taking up the whole screen, that's actually like a little tiny version, of them. And then I'll move that right up to under the camera or the webcam on my computer.

And that is one way that seems to be really helpful for the other person feeling like when I'm looking at them, that I'm actually looking at them. 'Cause of course this is all happening in a virtual space, right, I'm not really looking at them, I'm looking at a screen I'm looking at a picture of them and likewise, they're looking at a picture of me, but if I am looking right at where the camera is then that's the best chance that I've got of being able to make eye contact and being able to help the other person feel the presence of my gaze, and my attentiveness, as they're talking. So that's another little trick that I use from time to time and it's been really helpful. And lastly, when you're talking to another person, especially via video chat, I think it's really helpful to pay attention to your breathing. So how you are breathing and whether your breath is shallow, or whether it's deep - just noticing what's happening in you and then also noticing the breathing in the other person. So when does the person that you're talking to, take breaths, when do they exhale, when do they sigh. Paying attention to their breath also helps you just tune in to everything else that's going on with them, in general, with their body.

So you notice when the color of their skin changes, or when tension appears or disappears on their face.

There's something about tuning into the breath that really, I think, synchronizes us with another human in general. So I'm not saying that you should do that in a creepy way, where you're just mimicking another person's breathing pattern. But noticing it, I think does tend to bring us at least into some form of synchrony with the other person, and I think it creates a certain level of intimacy. It seems to work.

So those are the tricks. Other than that, you gotta just pay attention and be receptive and acknowledge what other people are saying. Acknowledge its impact on you. Notice where it lands in your body, and tell them about it. You wanna just follow good practices for presencing yourself as you show up there in virtual digital intimacy with the other person.

Okay, so those are my quick hits for the week. I have kept this under 30 minutes, we're at 26 minutes right now. I appreciate your being here with me this week and it's always good to share time and space with you, and I'm looking forward to being with you next week when I think it's gonna be my interview with my friend, Mara Wells, the romance writer, pretty sure. And I do look forward to being with you. And in the meantime, take care stay healthy, take this seriously and we'll all get through this, we'll get through it by sticking together and helping each other out.

So please let me know how I can support you.

You can always write to me. My email address is neilius at neilsattin.com.

Or if you have a question for the show, just record yourself, asking it and email that to questions at a relationship alive.com - Sending you so much love, and blessings, and I will be with again soon. Take care.

Mar 14, 2020

How is coronavirus (COVID-19) impacting you? What are the implications of "social distancing" on your relationship - especially if you're cooped up together for weeks at a time? Or if you're single, how can you still enjoy dating while staying safe? In this week's episode, you'll get some strategies for taking care of yourself amidst the epidemic, with practical advice for staying calm - connected - and HEALTHY - while we weather the storm...together. Plus a few (mostly relevant) thoughts on "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Sending so much love to you!

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

Sponsors:

This episode is sponsored by Native Deodorant. Their products are filled with ingredients you can find in nature like coconut oil, which is an antimicrobial, shea butter to moisturize, and tapioca starch to absorb wetness. They don’t ever test on animals, they don’t use aluminum or any other scary chemical ingredients, and they’re so confident that you’ll like their deodorant that they offer free shipping - and returns. For 20% off your first purchase, visit http://www.nativedeodorant.com/alive and use promo code ALIVE during checkout.

Resources:

I want to know you better! Take the quick, anonymous, Relationship Alive survey

FREE Guide to Neil’s Top 3 Relationship Communication Secrets

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

Support the podcast (or text “SUPPORT” to 33444)

Amazing intro and outro music provided courtesy of The Railsplitters

Transcript

Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive.

This is your host, Neil Sattin. Today, we're going to talk about a topic that's been on my mind lately and perhaps it's been on yours. We're gonna talk about how the coronavirus Covid-19... How that is impacting us in our own lives and in our relationships. So whether you are solo or dating or in a relationship, or just looking for a better way to take care of yourself, we're gonna talk about the impact of what is happening in our world, today on us.

And how do you stay centered and grounded and connected through all of that?

So that is what is in store for today. I had something else planned. But sometimes you gotta just go with what is right there in front of you, and if this isn't in front of you already, it probably will be soon hopefully, and not hopefully not in a dire way, but let's be real. This is a serious issue that we're facing here in our world today, and I wanna be here to help support you through that.

Now, you might be able to hear that my voice is a little congested I've been fighting a cold.

I'm pretty sure that it is not the novel Coronavirus. So fingers crossed, but I don't have all the symptoms so my healthcare provider tells me that I should just drink lots of fluids, get some rest and stay the course. So, well, of course, keep you posted on that one, on and I'm just gonna start by sending some love and care to you, today, hoping that this virus doesn't impact you, and that it also doesn't impact people that you love.

And of course, all in all. I don't want it to impact anyone, and it is going to, on some level, so we're confronted with a situation that's not unlike other things that come up in life, where there's a reality in front of us and we get to decide how we are going to respond to it, and how we're gonna let it impact us, and also it gives us a chance to discover yet, again, what is in our control and what is not, and to make the best of what is in our control.

So today I'll be discussing specific strategies with you to help you get through love in this time of coronavirus. Okay, first things first, if you find yourself in close quarters with people that you love and care about, because you're going through some proactive social distancing.

Or in some sort of quarantine situation then it is extremely helpful to know how to communicate well and how to stay connected, even if you're communicating about things that are challenging.

And I've put together my top three ways to do that and a free guide for you called my relationship communication secrets.

And you can download that by just visiting neilsattin.com/relate or by texting the word "relate" to the number 33444 and following the instructions and the guide is free.

So I definitely suggest that you grab it, that you put those things into practice, and I, we will be having the final version of my secrets of relationship communication course that's going to be coming out again very soon. So keep an eye out for that and you will get notified if you download the free guide.

Just so you know.

Also, it takes a village, in so many ways and it takes a village to keep relationship alive going and I've really appreciated your generous support of relationship alive - the podcast, our mission. This is an offering for you to help you have the most successful, amazing relationships possible and if you're finding the show to be having a positive impact in your life, please consider a donation to help ensure that we can continue. You can choose anything that feels right for you and every little bit counts.

So this week, I would like to thank Sarah Dave Kendra Michael Michele Joseph Rana Holly Marie Timothy and Kona thank you all so much for your generous, in most of those cases ongoing, support of Relationship Alive.

And if you would like to make a contribution, all you have to do is visit neilsattin.com/support or text the word support to the number 33444 and follow the instructions.

And speaking of support if you are looking for another way to expand the web of support that you have in your life, you can come join the relationship alive community on Facebook. It's free, and we are endeavoring to create a safe space for you to talk about your relationships, personal development and anything that impacts the ways that we connect with each other, the successes that we experience and the challenges as well.

So that's the relationship alive community on Facebook.

Okay, so let's dive in. And I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek with calling this episode, Love in the Time of Corona. It's obviously a reference to the novel Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And I read that book, way back in college.

Tell you the truth. I don't remember a lot about it, but I do remember that it covers the complexities of love and relationship, and long-term relationship, and there's a comparison between love and sickness. So there's this sense that we have that life is complicated and it's gonna be complicated no matter what. And the things that we sometimes think are true or easy or that we take for granted aren't always - Things are not always as they seem. And I think that was a central theme in the book, that there are things that you assume to be true, that actually end up not being true. And of course, it's a romantic novel that covers decades and decades of the lives of the two main protagonists. And the reason that I wanted to refer to it here is because we are in this position where we can't escape what is happening around us.

Whether you think it's all something that's being blown out of proportion or whether you think that it is something that may seriously impact you and the people that you love or whether you're just watching everything unfold, and waiting to see what is actually gonna happen, there's almost no way at this point that you can avoid the impacts of covid 19, the new Coronavirus on your life.

Big events are being cancelled, or postponed. At least, this has been a consideration for me because I'm working on doing my live show and bringing it to a major metropolitan area near you. And it's a little challenging to think about planning something like that, when there's so much uncertainty at the moment, about whether these large events are actually going to be happening.

So life is interesting right now and I have two young kids in school, I have a mother with a compromised immune system, I have a 97-year-old grandmother. So as I look at the landscape of life, there's a lot of ponder. And so, let's just cover some of the basics. This portion of the show is gonna be my public service announcement.

Essentially what we want to do is something that has been called flattening the curve. So maybe you've heard of that, and you know what I'm talking about, if you don't let me just tell you that what we are trying to do is slow the spread of this virus, by employing some measures that I'll be talking about in a moment, and the idea of slowing it is to, one, prevent our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed, like, is already happening in some parts of the world.

So, as much as possible, if we slow the spread of Corona then we are doing our part to help overall, the healthcare system, keep up with whatever demand this illness puts upon it, and of course also as long as we're able to delay the spread than our chances improve of a vaccine or a really effective treatment being discovered to help more people get through it.

So there are real practical reasons for doing this and it's important for all of us because even if you yourself feel like your immune system is fairly robust, and you're not worried about it, odds are that there are people, if not in your life, in the lives of people who are close to you who are at risk or could be impacted.

And so this really is one of those situations where it falls upon each of us to do our part for the greater good, so to not be cavalier about taking precautions and instead to do your part to flatten the curve to slow things down and to keep the coronavirus from reaching - if not yourself, or people you love, other people who are loved by people you know. So let's all pull together for this. That is my wish for you as you're listening.

And the things that we can do right now that we know of are relatively simple.

We can avoid really crowded spaces.

This is known as social distancing. So to spend more time, either in small groups or alone, if you have any signs of illness, to keep yourself away from other people until you know that you're in the clear... And of course, if things feel serious at all or like you are at risk, then definitely contact your doctor, and find a way to get tested, so that you can know what is going on and so you can take an appropriate course of action.

It's helpful to have a little stockpile of food and things so that you don't have to leave your house, if you can avoid it, and you don't wanna go overboard because we wanna make sure that there's enough to go around and it's likely that no matter what happens, grocery stores will be open and all of that. So the goal here is just to have enough to make sure that you're gonna be okay in your home and that you will have to leave as little as possible. And the purpose of doing that again is to slow the spread because sadly we can actually be carriers of Covid-19 without knowing it, without having any symptoms.

So if you're able to stay away from other people, for a couple of weeks, and that prevents you from catching something, or from inadvertently spreading something, then that is going to go a long way to helping our world beat this thing.

And then you've also probably heard, some of the basics. washing your hands frequently and not touching your face. Because the Covid-19 virus, it needs to get to your lungs and the way it does that is through your eyes, your nose or your mouth.

So if you keep your hands away for your face, and you wash your hands frequently, then you should be just fine or you will at least be doing the best that you can to prevent the spread of this illness. And at the moment we do not believe that wearing a mask is a very effective way of preventing yourself from getting the virus.

And people stockpiling masks is actually creating a problem in the health care industry because our doctors and nurses and first responders, don't have the masks that they need. So maybe you wanna have a couple on hand just in case but other than that, probably better to ensure that masks can get to where they're needed most with the people on the front lines of fighting this thing.

They do recommend that people who have the flu or have coronavirus that they wear a mask, and that is mainly to prevent or cut down on the chances of spreading the illness to other people. So, masks aren't a terribly effective way to keep yourself from getting it as far as we know, but they are a good way of not spreading it to other people.

Of course, if you are being diagnosed with this, then you are probably gonna be getting much more thorough advice than you're getting from me, and I'm not a doctor. So let me just be upfront that anything that I say here, I would love for you to take it with a grain of salt.

Please do your own research online if you need to. I've been doing a lot of reading on this topic, so I feel pretty confident in the recommendations that I'm making but I'm not a doctor.

So if you have any concerns at all, I recommend that you check with a doctor or check with the latest recommendations from your local health service, and hopefully all of our health services all over the world are being really proactive in getting that information out. Okay, so that's the public service announcement part but now let's get into the nitty gritty of why we're here, which is three-fold, really. One is how to help yourself with what is going on in the world and how to deal with potentially the anxiety or worry or fear that you're experiencing, if you are experiencing it or if you are in blissful ignorance. Maybe we should talk about that for just a moment or two more. So that's the first part. The second part is, I wanna talk about when you are in a close relationship with someone, so if you are home more or less, working from home or in self-quarantine or social distancing. With your partner, and your kids, 'cause potentially, they are home from school.

So then odds are, you are gonna be around each other a lot more than you are used to. And so we'll talk about some special considerations for that.

And finally, I want to talk about those few or those of us who are dating and who are not necessarily in a single love relationship, and the implications of what is going on on finding love, and developing love. So those are the three main bases, that I wanna cover today.

As usual we'll start with the self and self-care because that is so important for keeping your feet on the ground, keeping your wits about you and keeping your heart centered as you move through this time.

So I'm not gonna make any assumptions about what this has been like for you. I'll just say that for me, it's been noticeable. I told you a little bit about a few moments ago that my mother has a compromised immune system, my grandmother is 97. they are in groups that are statistically at very high risk for not only getting the coronavirus, but also it potentially killing them.

And that's scary for me, and I've spent a lot of time - the way that I tend to deal with uncertainty is through research, so reading and reading and reading, and that's partly how this podcast came to be because I had my own struggles in relationships that I had witnessed in my own relationships, and so I dove into the details, because that's what I do and I... My hope is that that is a benefit for you, but that doesn't mean that you have to do it, you may have your own way of coping. And I think the first thing is just to acknowledge that it's very possible that whatever your experience is, that you are, below at all, experiencing some stress, so whether that stress is anxiety and worry and fear or anger at people for blowing this way out of proportion or whatever it is, no matter how stressed you are, that stress is something worth confronting and doing something about, because stress suppresses our immune system for one thing. So the more that you you can confront your stress and bring yourself into balance, the better off you will be when it comes to just having a system that can fight whatever is going on in the world around you, whether that just be a cold or Coronavirus and it also is gonna help you show up better for other people in your life.

There's nothing like trying to interact with the world, or trying to move through a stressful situation or conflict with another person when you yourself are stressed and dysregulated, so there's never been a better time for you to establish a routine of checking in with yourself, how are you doing? And you could start with something with a broad strokes, like maybe every time you brush your teeth, which is perhaps two or three times a day you use that as an opportunity, a reminder that you should check in with yourself, and ask "How am I doing, what am I feeling right now, where do I notice that in my body?"

"Does it make sense? Does it make sense with everything that's going on in my life?" To start doing this as a way of regularly taking your emotional pulse so that you can have a sense of what's really happening with you, and what if anything needs to be addressed. If you notice that you are feeling something in particular - anxiety, fear, sadness, confusion, then it's worth taking an extra step in asking yourself "What is that the root of that?"

And is there something I can do like "what aspect of this can I control and what aspects of this can I not control?"

And of the aspects that you can control, then you might ask yourself, "Well, what can I do to improve that thing?"

So if you're feeling uncertain, then maybe there are things you can do to get more certainty. If you're feeling disconnected or you're alone, then what can you do to reach out and connect? If you're feeling nervous for another person in your life, then what can you do to reach out to them and tell them that you care about them?

Right? These are all just simple ways of being proactive around noticing your emotional state and taking care of yourself to hopefully bring yourself back into balance: noticing your breathing, noticing your physical state, your physiological state and letting that also indicate for you how you're doing, and if there's something that needs to be addressed.

So you might think that you're totally fine but if you check in with your body, you notice like, "Oh my heart's pounding or... Oh, I'm kinda sweaty."

Well, those might be signs of stress or something going on and if you do notice those things, then what can you do?

So can you just take a moment to breathe? Can you fix yourself a cup of tea?

Can you call a friend, someone that you care about and who cares about you?

Can you spend a little time with a pet, and just pet your dog or your cat or... My daughter really wants me to get her a little pigmy bunny. So I'm thinking about that. If you have a pigmy maybe spend a little time with your bunny just petting the bunny. I gotta think that that soft little bunny might help you calm down a little bit if you need that, and if you're feeling angry at whatever is happening in the world, then this is also a great time for you to look within and ask yourself, "What is it about this that's making you angry?"

What are the places where you feel like your power is being taken from you? Your system is responding with intelligence to that - your system is responding and saying "No. Take that power back. I'm angry."

Again, there will be aspects of this that you can impact and there will be things that you cannot impact but no matter what, getting to know yourself better, getting to know what's going on within you better and figuring out where you can be proactive to keep yourself regulated to move through and out of your stress, those are things that will help you, yourself in whatever is going on in the world and it will help you show up for the world and the other people around you, so that is taking care of yourself, also. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, take Elderberry, vitamin C, just whatever you can do to keep your immune system bolstered and ready along with keeping yourself calm.

So I do want to change gears a little bit and talk about the impact of Corona on our relationships and on our dating life.

But before I do, I wanna take a moment to talk about this week's sponsor. We're talking about potentially being pretty cooped up with others. And there's never a better time to ensure that you are smelling fresh than now.

And that's where this episode's sponsor native deodorant comes in - with fewer ingredients that are easy to pronounce, and found in nature, and completely free of aluminum.

They offer free returns and exchanges in the USA, so there's no risk to try them out.

And native deodorant comes in a wide variety of subtle enticing sense for men and women along with unscented and baking soda free varieties, if you have sensitivities. They've had more than 9000 positive reviews. And you've probably heard me talk about them here on the show and if you have, then cool, you'll understand the story. If you haven't, then you should know that I put native to the test by using it after a day of not having had a shower and I found that it not only helped control any unpleasantness coming from under my arms, but it was also working at the end of the day. So it's super effective and long-lasting without any harsh ingredients, and in this case without a shower.

So like I mentioned, they have a special offer for you because as a Relationship Alive listener, you get 20% off your first purchase.

Just, visit nativedeodorant.com and use the promo code "alive" during check out - that's 20% off your first purchase when you visit nativedeodorant.com and use the promo code alive. And thank you, native deodorant for your support of Relationship Alive.

Okay, so let's get back to the next step in our conversation, which is about how Coronavirus is potentially gonna impact us in our relationships.

And there are few obvious ways when I mentioned already, which is the potential to be cooped up with people for a long period of time and just to be aware that in and of itself can cause stress and tension and then potentially, if anyone, you know, or as close to you get sick or if you get sick then that is another way that this could impact you.

So let's talk a little bit about just the stress of being cooped up with other people more than anything. I think our mantra today should be to be kind and generous with each other to be compassionate and understanding.

So if you find that someone else is getting snappy with you to remind yourself that they are probably going through some stress right now and to not take it personally as much as possible, and if you, yourself, are feeling irritable, or challenged by something that someone else is doing then you might even speak it out loud, just like, "Hey I just want you to know that I'm really stressed or I'm exhausted or this is really challenging for me, and so I know I'm being unpleasant" or "I know I'm being argumentative, or I know I'm snapping back at you, and I just want you to know that it's not personal, it's what's happening with me."

So as much as you can take responsibility for your state of mind and state of heart and state of being with the other people around you, that is one way to really help them feel connected to you and to your experience.

And you might check in with the others too like "Hey how are you doing? It's been five minutes since we've talked to each other."

"Can I just check in with you and see how you are?"

And if you are with loved ones and relatively safe and isolated then... And you've washed your hands, then it's probably totally fine for you to give each other back rubs or foot rubs and to be loving with each other as much as you can.

And if you've been going through a challenging time in your relationship, then this could be extra stressful for you. That seems obvious to me right now. There are those miraculous moments where times get tough and we band together and it helps us get past things that seem like a big deal, but when it comes right down to it, you realize that it's not such a big deal. So potentially, there are those kinds of things that are going on in your relationship, that are creating challenge and this helps you kinda put everything in perspective. That could be a good thing, and... this could also exacerbate things. So I invite you to just one to acknowledge that that is a possibility, if that is something that you're going through to recognize - Okay, things have been challenging, it might get more challenging and then you can develop a strategy for yourself - a plan around how to best safeguard yourself from it getting more challenging.

So if there are things that you know are particular triggers for you with this other person or ways that you trigger them, then you might take special care to not trigger the other person and to create safe boundaries around yourself, to keep your tender spots from being poked at and triggered as well.

You might also with your significant other, say something like, "Hey let's just acknowledge that things have been challenging between us and maybe we could agree to just put all of that aside right now and just band together for this, for what's happening in our world right now" - it's another possibility.

Generally, the best thing is for you to be open about your experience, and what concerns you. In fact, you might even say something to your partner, like "hey, things have been to tough with us, recently. I'm a little nervous about us being in the same space a lot because of what's going on in the world. Are you nervous about that?"

"Are there things do you think that we could do to help keep things light and spacious with us to help us be positive through all of this, and not make things worse?"

If you can enlist the other person and speak to the truth of what is, then that also increases your chances of getting through with flying colors, and I encourage you to do that as well and in the end, if you need to, I encourage you to take space and this can be a very useful strategy for everyone who is sharing space together: if you are sharing space to work out a system for when anyone can say, "Hey I need a time out for myself," and where that time out and space is granted so that you or the other person can have some moments alone to recharge.

And so, yeah, I encourage you to work those things out ahead of time, if possible, so that you're heading it off at the pass and you're being proactive, and that way those conversations will have happened so that you can make space for other more important conversations that may come up during all of this time.

Now, if you are single or solo let's move along, I guess. And of course, if you have specific questions around this stuff, you can always record yourself asking the question, and send it to me - the email addresses: questions@relationshipalive.com.

So, if you're single, or solo or dating like what do you do in your circumstances? Well, here, a few things that come to mind. The first is that there's potential for you to be extremely isolated, and that isn't necessarily healthy either. Being completely isolated will theoretically prevent you from getting the coronavirus. But it might be really psychologically challenging to be that isolated. So this is a time where I would encourage you to find ways to stay connected. There are great freeways... to drive your car on. But what I really mean is, there are great free... ways that you can stay connected with other people. If you have internet access or a phone, you can do a Google Hangout or FaceTime or Skype calls. I really love the video conferencing technologies. In fact, most of my clients that I see, and I see clients all over the world, we do that using Zoom or Skype, and I'm so used to it now that it really feels as though we are in the same room with each other. And so I encourage you to reach out to other people, to not just get isolated in your home, but to find ways to reach out and connect using technology, using whatever technology is available to you.

And if you don't have a phone and you don't have a computer, then of course I'm wondering how you're listening to this podcast, but you could always sit on your stoop outside - and if you're out in the fresh air or the odds are pretty good that you're not going to catch Coronavirus and that someone walking by would not catch it, from you or give it to you and you could just say "hello" to people who are walking by. Just be friendly and just ask people how they're doing, and you can point out.

"I don't wanna shake your hand, or give you a hug, but I just wanted to check in with people in the world and see how you are doing" and you may be surprised you might make someone's day, by simply saying, "Hey how are you? This is all pretty weird, isn't it, that we're going through?" Because most of us have never had to go through something like this in our lives, not all of us. So if you have gone through this, perhaps you even have expertise that you can lend to those of us who... For whom this is new and scary and confusing? This is a good time for you to speak up and lend your expertise to the occasion.

So, that's combating social isolation - even though we want to be doing social distancing. In order to flatten the curve.

Now, what about actual dating? Could you or should you be going out on dates in the current climate?

You know I'm inclined to say probably not right now, at least not until we really have a better sense of what is happening and really how Covid-19 spreads and we have consistent testing so that we really know for sure whether or not we are a carrier, someone else that we are going on on a date with... is a carrier.

It's not too unlike the conversations that you need to have around STDS before you have sex with someone. Hopefully, you are having a conversation that goes over your risk factors. "Have you been tested? Have you had anything before?"

"When was the last time you were tested? Have you had any risky behaviors?"

So when you go out on a date with someone and they say, "Oh well, I went to the whatever concert last night." Well, that might be a risk factor. So, the beautiful thing about this is that whatever you're doing to date, and I'm assuming that you're using technology of some sort at this point 'cause it's almost unavoidable in the modern dating landscape, then this becomes a great way to slow things down and really get to know other people.

So spending a little bit more time with your texting or chatting back and forth, your IMing, having a virtual date so you can use FaceTime, and make yourself a cup of tea and have the other person make themselves a cup of tea and you can sit down and sip tea and get to know each other just as if you were there in the coffee shop and I... One thing that's especially interesting about this is, with practice you can learn to really tune in to the other person, even though you're not there in the same space with them, you can really tune in and get a sense for who they are as a person.

And on top of that, even if you're not there in person with each other - think of all the times that when you've been in relationship if you have been in a relationship, how important it is to be able to communicate when you're not together, so whether that be through texting or talking on the phone or Skyping or whatever, it's actually helpful to know that that's a medium that you can operate in with your potential partner and what better way to know than by actually doing it, and doing it a lot and getting some good practice at it. So you may be having a little less sex than you used to, if you're a single person and you're out and about... But I think that overall, that is probably worth it, for your safety and your prospective partner's safety, unless you are absolutely positively sure that neither of you is that risk - in which case meet up and have fun. But I do encourage you to take advantage of the virtual spaces, and to take some risks around talking or hopping on a video call of some sort so that you can get to know someone more deeply without necessarily having to do it face-to-face, either at the coffee shop or in the bedroom. There will be a time for that, for sure.

And no matter what, taking the time to really get to know a person will help you make better choices than if you're going by chemistry alone because when you meet up with someone, and it feels really good and you connect with them right away, that doesn't always go so well, because you may not have done the due diligence required to ensure that someone is actually an appropriate partner for you. And gauging whether or not someone is appropriate for you to be dating is usually a much longer process that involves finding out a lot more about who they are and how they respond to you and how you respond to them.

And when you have all that dopamine and oxytocin flowing because you're just going to town in the bedroom, then it can seriously cloud your perception and your judgment.

So this is going to be a boon. I predict that there are gonna be all kinds of really strong relationships that emerge from this period of time when we were forced to spend a little bit more time apart and get to know each other a little better.

As always, I could talk about this for a long, long time, but I hope that whether you're single or in a relationship, or just thinking about how to maintain your own self-care during this time, that you've found something valuable in today's episode, and one thing you might wanna do is catch up on other podcast episodes or do some reading. And next week, we're gonna have a really fun interview with someone who's an old friend of mine actually, who is a romance author.

We're gonna talk about what we can learn from romance novels about love and relationships, and desire - and it may not surprise you to know that we can learn an awful lot!

So we have that conversation coming up next week, with Mara Wells. In the meantime, I am sending so much love and care and courage and calmness and health your way and just know that I am thinking of you and that we will all get through this, we will and I'm here for you... So thank you for spending this time with me today, and I look forward to you being with you again next week.

Take care.

And be safe.

Mar 5, 2020

What turns you on, and what turns you off? How do you get past the messages about sex that have been handed to you by others - to discover your own personal sexuality that emerges from within? How do you own your deepest desires - and then communicate them to your partner in a way that stands the best chance of having them be realized? In today’s episode, we’re having a return visit from Dr. Alexandra Solomon, author of the new book Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want. Our conversation will help you take your intimacy to a whole new level, so that your relationships can be satisfying in and out of the bedroom.

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! 

Also - check out our first episode with Alexandra Solomon about her first book, Loving Bravely (Episode 142).

Sponsors:

Find a quality therapist, online, to support you and work on the places where you’re stuck. For 10% off your first month, visit Betterhelp.com/ALIVE to fill out the quick questionnaire and get paired with a therapist who’s right for you.

Resources: 

Check out Alexandra Solomon's website

Read Alexandra Solomon’s latest book: Taking Sexy Back

Read Alexandra Solomon’s other book, Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want FREE Relationship Communication Secrets Guide

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

www.neilsattin.com/sexy Visit to download the transcript, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the transcript to this episode with Alexandra Solomon.

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

Transcript:

Neil Sattin: Hello and welcome to another episode of Relationship Alive. This is your host, Neil Sattin. Let's talk some more about sex today, and I think it's really important, if for no other reason than the statistic that I'm pulling out of the book written by today's guest, that when you have a successful sex life with your partner, that accounts for say 15-20% of your overall happiness quotient. I'm sure I'm not using the exact term there, but when you have a dissatisfying sexual life with your partner, that can account for 50-75% of your dissatisfaction in your marriage, if I got that statistic right.

Neil Sattin: So, just think about that for a minute. If you're unhappy in the way that you're connecting sexually with your partner, or with your partners, then that's going to cause potentially a lot of distress for you. And what's at the root often of our dissatisfaction is the very foundation that we have, the way that we see ourselves as sexual beings, the way we operate in the world, the scripts that have been handed us and that we're enacting either consciously or unconsciously, or that we're trying to live up to, that can so often be a source of, not only unhappiness, but the sense of disconnection from who you actually are as a sexual being in the world, and that brings with it a whole host of things like shame or even just questions, self-judgment, and ultimately, potentially dissatisfaction in terms of your relationships.

Neil Sattin: So, let's tackle this head on and talk about how to reclaim and restructure who you are as a sexual being with today's esteemed guest. She's been with us on the show before, her name is Dr Alexandra Solomon, she's a professor at Northwestern and also a clinical psychologist who works with individuals and couples. Last time she was here, she was talking about her book, Loving Bravely, and if you wanna hear that episode, you can visit www.neilsattin.com/bravely and it is episode number 142, if you're just flipping through your podcast app. And she's here today to talk about her new book, which is called Taking Sexy Back: How to Own Your Sexuality and Create the Relationships You Want. It's a book written primarily for women and, at the same time, it has so much valuable stuff in it in terms of no matter where you are on the gender spectrum to reframe how you think about your sexuality and how you reclaim it for yourself.

Neil Sattin: As usual, we will have a transcript for today's episode. You can download it by visiting www.neilsattin.com/sexy. That one's not gonna be hard to remember. And as always, you can text the word passion to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. So let's dive right in, Alexandra Solomon. It's such a treat to have you back with us here on Relationship Alive.

Alexandra Solomon: It's so nice to be with you, thank you.

Neil Sattin: Yeah, let's talk... Let's just first unearth, there's something unusual about Taking Sexy Back, which is that you've taken the word sexy and you've made it a noun, and I'm wondering if you can explain what I'm even talking about and maybe explain your choice around that so that it will make sense as we move through this conversation.

Alexandra Solomon: Yes, so one of the first central ideas in this book is that there is a world of difference between being sexy and being sexual, so women have been taught and trained to either be sexy or to be afraid of being sexy, of being too sexy, not sexy enough, and that for women that word is oftentimes a question. Do you find me sexy? It's a question posed in the gaze of another, and when that is the lens through which one experiences one's sexuality, then sex becomes a performance, a sort of earning of that sense that you find me worthy, adequate, good, and it's different than being sexual. Sexual is a cultivation from the inside of my own connection with the erotic that I generate within me and then share with a partner. And so, in this book, we are taking sexy back, we're taking back the idea of sexy, and it becomes, as you said, a noun. So this book really is couple's therapy between the reader and her sexy, her sexuality, her sexual self. And the questions are: How well do you know that aspect of you? Do even know that is an aspect of you? What is that aspect of you wanting, yearning, in what ways is it hurting, and what needs to be kind of unearthed and processed? So, throughout the book, it is about really understanding and listening from within to that part of self that I think women are typically told really isn't theirs or shouldn't be looked at; good girls don't look at that. So, it's a reframing, and as you're saying, it's a reclamation, a taking back.

Neil Sattin: Right, and you talk about that being torn. And this is probably familiar for a lot of people who are listening, that you can be torn between wanting to really own your sexuality, but if you do that too much, then that also creates a shift potentially in how people see you, and so there's this burden of like how do you own your sexuality without it stigmatizing you?

Alexandra Solomon: Exactly, right. That sort of razor-thin line between being perceived as prudish and being, God forbid, slutty. So this sort of razor-thin line that, again, keeps a woman from connecting with herself. It becomes this sort of question of how am I being perceived. And the moment that's the focus, it cuts us off from being able to experience pleasure, experience mindfulness, articulate a boundary that is really from a place of truth rather than fear, and so then the entire possibility of cultivating a sex life that is healing, rewarding, connecting, uplifting, life-affirming is impossible 'cause there's no foundation to start from.

Neil Sattin: Right. Can you just talk for a minute about where this book was born from? And maybe the ways that you've seen women confront problems in terms of being disconnected from their sexuality? From their sexy? And what that process of reclamation looks like for them?

Alexandra Solomon: This book was born from a number of places. It was born from, I think, the way in which in my training as a licensed clinical psychologist and a couples therapist, I think the models that I was taught, were that when you're sitting with a couple, help them talk more nicely to each other, help them argue less, and then the sex will follow. You don't have to directly talk about sex. And there's a way in which that paradigm reinforced, I think, a message that I carried within me for a long time, that sex is not a polite topic. It really shouldn't be talked about or looked at, and if you're curious about it, something is wrong with you. So I think there were ways in which that message from my field kind of reinforced what I had done to myself my whole life, of just feeling like I'm feeling simultaneously fascinated by this entire world and topic, and then feeling like that wasn't really polite [chuckle] to be interested in or fascinated about. And so my own evolution of wanting to integrate love and sex within the work I do with couples, within my own life, and then just the work that I've done at Northwestern with graduate students and undergraduate students and being smacked again and again with my awareness of how inadequate sex education in our country is.

Alexandra Solomon: And how my students are sitting in front of me and I would give a lecture in my Marriage 101 course about sex, and basically invite them into this idea that sex is simultaneously a behavior, it's a thing that we do, instead of erotically-charged behaviors, and it's also this really powerful gateway into some of the most profound longings and questions that we have as humans. And just even that notion was radical to many of my students who had only ever talked about sex as something that is dangerous, dirty, forbidden, fearful, or titillating, and really central, but not this sort of whole-hearted aspect of self and aspect of relationship, and so all of that kind of created this. And I think, also, the fact that we are living through this massive upheaval around gender and power with the Me Too Movement. And so I think it was this coming together of all of this where this book basically wouldn't leave me alone. [chuckle] Like, I felt like I chose to write Loving Bravely, and I felt like this book was like, "Are you ready now? Can we go now? Can you just... " And it became easier to just sit down and create the table of contents than it was to just keep forestalling it.

Neil Sattin: Right, right, but yeah...

[overlapping conversation]

Alexandra Solomon: It felt really urgent. It felt really urgent to me.

Neil Sattin: Yeah. And I think that's so true. I'm so glad your book was birthed and is... And by the time you're listening to this interview, it will be out. It's coming out February 2nd, Groundhog's Day of 2020. So you'll be able to get it. And yeah, it is such an important conversation because those scripts that have been handed to us around sexuality and the ways that our lack of education has gotten in the way, perhaps, of really getting in touch with who we are sexually, and not having a culturally accepted way of just exploring together 'cause so much sexuality has to happen behind closed doors and often in secret. We pretend it's not happening, but it's obviously happening. And so inviting the conversation into the public space, and one thing that I really love about your book, Taking Sexy Back, is that you explore all of these different dimensions of connecting into who you are as a sexual being. And each of those is a great gateway into understanding yourself in a new way, and then stepping forward into sexual connection with others with that new knowledge.

Interested in reading the rest of this transcript for this episode with Alexandra Solomon? 

Click here to download it!

1 2 Next »