I have clients who I have worked with as a coach for years and we explore and find amazing areas for growth, for release, and for understanding. The process of coaching, in a short burst, often heals or resolves an immediate issue, but in a longer term coaching relationship, what I notice, is that the client gradually develops a new way of seeing and being in the world that is profound, and there is no limit.
I’ve also noticed that the clients who eventually incorporate their relationship into their coaching get opened up to a whole other level of discovery and understanding. Couples coaching is amazing because its no longer just the client and I working with their own perception of themselves. When we bring in the person in the relationship there is a whole other level of reflection, accountability and feedback that we get to work with. This often takes things to the next level for both people and for the relationship.
Relationship, especially primary relationship, is one of the most challenging practices there is. If you notice, many deeply spiritual people go into monasteries, and they can develop a relationship with themselves or whatever they consider the universe or god. The giving up or renunciation of relationship, money or business, things that make life a struggle, may accelerate that opportunity to experience the transcendent or the spiritual.
Most of us, however, or most of you reading this blog, would be considered in the Vedic tradition as “householders”. Meaning that we are operating businesses, we are in relationship, that we are raising children. We have beautiful and challenging parts of our life to learn from. Business itself can be an amazing teacher and practice, as well as parenting. And, as many of us know, the direct connection with another person in a primary relationship can be a very powerful (and challenging) practice.
I put them in the category of practice, because we often think of them as something to meet our needs or fill our lives, but more than anything they require us to grow and develop ourselves, which makes it a practice. That’s why Inquiry Method is such a powerful tool for self-discovery, but also for developing, refining and amplifying relationships. The more you can bring Inquiry to any of your relationships, in particular, your primary relationship, the more you can practice discovering love, discovering connection, and discovering the capacity in yourself to open to one of the great challenges of life.
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You can’t change another person. That is one of the unfortunate, and yet universal truths. Sometimes, you can inspire another person to change. Being motivated is always impacted by the perception, “what’s in it for me?”.
On the other hand, there is one person who you are 100% empowered to change, and that’s you. In any relationship, whether it’s personal or in business, I like to tell people to take 100% responsibility. Take 100% responsibility for the business or 100% responsibility for the relationship. I am always looking to create a vision for a relationship that is inspired by the other person’s motivations or by adapting myself to what is or what’s true about the other person.
The most potent example of the first is a “want for us”. This is what I work with during a corporate or a relationship renewal. Whenever I’m in a primary romantic relationship with someone, I always like to whether it’s just for a vacation or long-term, come to a shared understanding of the “want for us”. Meaning, what is the want for us, what are we working towards together? When I can get clear about the “want for us” the relationship feels easy. When I can’t get clear about it, it feels hard or difficult. It’s even harder if we’re trying to achieve, experience, or do different things. In a case where we can’t come to a “want for us” or the other person is uninterested or unwilling to participate in a “want for us” in the way I want them to, the only other option is to accept them just the way they are.
That can sometimes be miraculous. Sometimes when I accept someone just the way they are, and get behind who they are, I find things open up and possibilities appear that never would have otherwise.
A relationship is always positive if we are oriented toward the want for us. Practice with your partner. When you wake up, before you go about your morning, discuss the “want for us” for the morning.
It could be, “Well I have a lot going on so let’s do our own thing and go our own way, but I want 5 minutes to have coffee with you and kiss you good-bye.”
The other person can say, “Actually there are some important things we need to get done. I would like help figuring out dinner so that I can go shopping for it and I’m also missing your attention. I’d like you to put your attention on me. I’d like for you to rub my neck and take some time for me.”
Then the other person may say, “I can get into that”, or not, but the goal is to get aligned.
So the want for us could be an overarching desire for your life together or it can be broken down into the want for the morning, the evening, or any of your time together.
Another example could be making decisions like buying a new refrigerator. Imagine this dialogue:
One person might say, “I want to buy the coolest refrigerator ever!”
And the other person might say, “I want to save some money. I’d like to spend under $300. I guess we better get aligned with what we are shooting for. Can we find a cool fridge for under $300?”
“Oh, I guess I hadn’t really thought about that. Are we running out of money?”
“Yeah, we don’t really have a lot of money this month, but we do need a fridge.”
“Oh, well maybe we could find a used one.”
Anytime we can get in alignment the smoother things will be. For example, you can decide on a “want for us” on vacation. If one person wants to relax and the other wants to go on adventures you should probably get clear on the “want for us”. Here is dialogue that could happen around that:
It can get really powerful when you go deeper, like, “I just really want this to amplify our connection to each other.”
The other person might say, “Oh I guess I hadn’t really even thought about that. I just thought we were going on vacation.”
“On the flight there let’s imagine different things we could do or different ways we could approach this trip so that it would amplify our connection to each other.”
Then, throughout the trip, when you go to do things, check in. “Should we go parasailing? Would that amplify our connection?”
“I guess not. It seems like the jungle hike would really achieve that.”
Anytime you can catalyze something around a “want for us” it’s really powerful. Anytime you step into any of these conversations it helps you clarify the relationship more and more.
The alternative to coming to a “want for us” is the choice to accept the other person the way they are.
In the same way sexual consent is important, in Inquiry Method there is a range of intimacy and the depth of that intimacy should also be consensual.
If the intimacy reached through Inquiry Method is nonconsensual, it can sometimes feel like a violation. That is why we like to set up containers or an environment or sanctuary in which to practice Inquiry Method.
Obviously, inquiry on a casual basis does not necessarily need to be overtly consensual but you want to watch very carefully as you are practicing asking deeper and more intimate questions to notice if your inquiry partner is responding as if they are being violated. Some people are harder tells and it is better to practice caution.
Consent in Inquiry Method is very simple. It can be as simple as, with a casual acquaintance, asking if they mind if you ask them a question: “Would you mind if I asked you a question?” In more formal Inquiry Method, we want to set up safe containers. We may ask someone if they would like to practice Inquiry Method together. Within that container, there are different levels of formally declaring sanctuary- from simply saying it’s my intention to be safe for you, to even repeating the sanctuary context from the Mountain Experience overtly. Even within a formal Inquiry Method container that is fully consensual, we may still find ourselves asking questions like – “Do you mind if I ask about your childhood?” or “Would you like me to ask questions to go deeper?”
You may find consensual based Inquiry Method to be particularly useful and poignant with children and partners. Watch your children when you ask them penetrating questions, and notice when you have pushed into a non-consensual boundary. Try it out this week, watch for any violation, ask for permission and see if you don’t actually get deeper connection and deeper opening when you practice safety and permission in this way.
I’m always growing and putting myself into situations to grow. Within that context, I was at an event last weekend and was struck with a new awareness. I was thinking about all the ways I’m hard on myself and there was a way that I understood it differently: I realized that I tend to take on other people’s view of me.
So, if I’m talking to Peggy and she says something critical or something that I take personally, I would think, “oh there is something wrong with me.” And I’d take it on. But what I realized, is that if you take everyone you know and if they all feel differently about you, what they each feel about you is not about you, it’s about them. If some people love you and some people hate you, the loving and the hating is about them.
Now, if everyone loves you and everyone hates you, you can take that personally. If all the people you know sit you down in an intervention and they say “Hey, I think you are making a big mistake here,” you should listen to that. If you are getting a universal reflection or broad reflection, or if you keep getting into the same relationships over and over again, or if you keep responding over and over again in the same way, that’s about you. But, if it’s isolated, if there is only one person who doesn’t like you, that’s not about you, that’s about them. And if there is only one person who loves you, that’s not about you either, that’s about them. That’s about their capacity to love.
So, the new awareness is, that an outlier’s views of you has to do with those individual people, not you. If you notice trends and universalities about how people view you, that you should take personally, these are all amazing things to bring to online group calls, coaching calls or events so we can coach about them.
That’s my thought for this week and that’s the blog. I hope you enjoyed it.
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Emptying out is an important life practice, as we go through our day/lives we accumulate thoughts, impressions, feelings, ideas, hurts, judgments, etc. There is a way that these things start to block our system, like a form of mental or emotional constipation.
It is important to clear our system out regularly to a safe listener. Some people know this consciously or unconsciously and practice it regularly with friends. Others don’t practice it and don’t necessarily value it or understand it. Part of this is that we are often conditioned to fix problems and focus on that, rather than listening.
Fixing is not the point, emptying out and being heard is the point.
I often give the talking stick exercise (practice) to my relationship clients to practice this and create a new dynamic in the relationship. It is wonderful to have a partner to whom you can empty out to. Emptying out feels clean, it clears up your thinking and reasoning and opens up your clogged mind to be free to think about creating things, gratitude, love, socializing, playing, and anything else you would like it to be doing rather than being stuck in endless loops of thinking and perseveration.
Read more about the talking stick exercise in this earlier blog
I am traveling today and I like to remember that people are good. I notice that in general that I tend to resent the person in the seat next to me on the airplane as an imposition and nuisance, usually making some judgments about them in some way or another. Without connection people are just objects in the field. However, now I make a practice of just saying “hi.” I rarely engage in long conversations, but I say hi and lightly connect. Inevitably this little connection humanizes them and I see the human behind the physical object. I can no longer resent them or make judgments about them because they are human beings now. We can do this all day long, turn people into human beings. It is amazing what a difference it can make.
A client asked me the other day, “As my children are beginning their lives, how do I take myself back and deal with the loss?” The first step is to recognize that you cannot get around the loss; the first thing you have to do is experience the loss, feel the sadness and mourn the changing reality.
This is something that women in particular need to be attentive to. They commonly ignore their lives and make children their whole focus (which is wonderful) but it is important to maintain a sense of personal identity with things, skills and activities that remind them of who they are. A lot of time when the kids go, many women feel like they are losing their whole identity. It’s not good for kids to be that central to the focus. It makes the children narcissistic and overly self-important little beings when they are the center of all that focus.
Personally, I see ‘mother’ as less of a doing role and more of a resource role, as somewhere the kids can go when they need it. In my view, when we make it such an involved role, it’s damaging to the children and it’s damaging to the mother as well because she does not really see her life as anything but being a servant or even subservient to children.
Honestly, I would compare this “loss and sorrow” to withdrawal from addiction. You are sad when the kids leave because you have not fully developed your own focus. It’s like you know something is no longer healthy for you and no longer part of your world and the only way to really go through recovery is to experience the loss of it. If you try to hang on to it, then you will not be satisfied. So, you really just have to take the loss and ask yourself what you want your life to be about now.
I recommend to every mother that in the first years they are everything to the child, and the ultimate practice of motherhood is to skillfully, gradually and artfully extract yourself over time. Let your children have more and more of their own lives so at the transition to their autonomy it is like there is no transition for them or for you.
There is a big difference between your opinion and the truth.
Opinions are imposed, truth is shared.
Opinions can be argued, truth cannot.
Opinions need defending, truth does not.
Opinions are thoughts, truth is self evident.
Opinions come from you, truth comes through you.
Opinions are arrogant, truth is humble.
Opinions are force, truth is love.
Opinions create separation, truth brings us together.
Opinions can be owned, the truth is for everyone.
Truth can be proved, opinions cannot.
Truth is found through inquiry, opinions are invented at whim.
You don’t get credit for the truth, only your capacity to hear it.
Truth told as an opinion loses its power.
We each have a choice which one to hold most dear, but they can never be equal.
~ Kyle Mercer