Category Archives: Divine Feminine/Masculine

How Women Routinely Castrate Men.

man-couple-people-woman

A few weeks ago I witnessed something that broke my heart.

A watched and listened as a mom emasculated two preschool boys. I was horrified. They looked unaffected by it, but that made me even sadder, because that told me they are accustomed to it.

I watch emasculation of men happening all the time. And it breaks my heart every time. But this was especially horrible to me, because they were so young. Because even when young, males still need the same things from us, as women, as they do when they are older. They need our trust and appreciation. They need us to allow them to make us happy.

Males just want to make us happy.

I used to blindly emasculate men too, gawd help me. I didn’t know anything different. I never questioned my treatment of men and my beliefs about them as I was growing up, as I was having relationships with them – relationships of all kinds.

This mom was subbing for an absent teacher and therefore didn’t know the usual preschool routine. She came in the office with them and said, “These guys are telling me the recycling goes in here, but I think they’re lying to me.” She looked at me in expectation, expecting me to sympathize with her, to join her in emasculating them.

That’s what we are taught to do, isn’t it, ladies? We are socialized into joining together against males, no matter their age. We are expected to roll our eyes too when women express their disappointment with their man, or men in general.

I wonder if I had a horrified look on my face. I tried to keep it neutral as I defended them, “Of course they aren’t lying! This is where the recycling goes.” I looked at them and smiled, trying to let them know that I trusted them even if she didn’t. In their minds, I didn’t want to be lumped into the classification of adults, and adult women, who treat them so horribly.

Normally they deliver the recycling by themselves without an adult escort. They have been bringing the recycling in all year. Of course they know what they’re doing.

I encouraged them to proceed, but she was not done, apparently, because she insisted on following them, saying, “It can’t go in there! Surely not,” as they were walking to the closet that holds the recycle bin. I may have physically cringed at that, I’m not sure. I was trying to remain calm, but inwardly, I was angry and horrified.

“Yes,” I said as I looked pointedly at her, hoping she would back off, “They know what they are doing.” It continued though, because she followed them into the closet and stood over them as they emptied their full recycle bag into the bin and said, “Are you doing it right?” with disdain in her voice.

I felt sick to my stomach and wanted to cry, and was actually finding it difficult not to.

They were finally done, and I thanked them with smiles and words of appreciation at the successful completion of their usual task, trying to convey my confidence and trust in them. They left, and I let myself cry.

So it begins as soon as they are born, I guess, doesn’t it? In our society (does it happen all over the planet too?), as females, we are taught to emasculate males. We are taught they can’t be trusted to do anything the “right” way. We are taught they are fuck-ups most of the time. We are taught that the emasculation of males is not only okay, it is the norm, and it is expected.

We are also taught to look for their “mistakes”—those times that they don’t do something the way we think they should—and we are taught to emasculate them by pointing it out in the most embarrassing, worst way possible—usually in front of other people. Is this supposed to “put them in their place” somehow? Or teach them to do it the “right” way?

More Ways we Emasculate Men

Rolling our eyes at him and/or his behavior

Not accepting help from him (opening doors, etc.)

Expecting him to think like a woman

Not trusting him

Belittling him for doing things the way he does them (instead of the way a woman would do it)

Not listening

Taking over something and doing it ourselves, because he is not doing it “right” or in the time we think he should

Never letting him win – never letting him make us happy

Not appreciating him for being a man and being himself

Interrupting him when he talks

Interrupting him when he is focused and working

Expecting, and even asking, him to think/act/talk/argue like a woman

Not appreciating those things that make him masculine:  being driven, single-focused, competitive, etc.

Not realizing he is a hero and not treating him like the hero he is

Competing with him instead of trusting him

Making passive aggressive “jokes” about him or his behavior—especially when others are present

Tacitly or openly criticizing him in front of others and attempting to get others to join you in the criticism

Treating him like a child

Not showing our appreciation, love, acceptance

Assume criticism motivates a man when only appreciation will do that

Not Following the Trend

If, as a woman, you decide not to participate in the emasculation of men, you are seen as a traitor. And worse, if you decide to actually defend men, you are seen as the enemy—like men—someone who cannot be trusted.

A couple of years ago, when I began studying men, women and relationships, I came across the mother of all relationship books, The Queen’s Code, by Alison Armstrong. This book represents the results of her research of over 25 years into men, women and relationships. It is presented as a novel, a story, but it really is the compilation of her research.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It should be required reading for everyone—as early as grade school—especially for females.

Those couple of years ago, I took the Queen’s Code vow. I gave up the “right” to emasculate men. Because most women do see it as their right to treat men so horribly, to crush them, to emasculate them. I gave up my right to defend the emasculation of men. I laid down my sarcasm, my distrust, my habits, my self-righteous anger, my sword, my ignorance of men.

I began exploring the idea: What if men actually have a good reason for everything they do and the way they do it? What if the way a woman would do something is not the only fucking way to do something?!?!

The Queen’s Code is a code of honor and a code of conduct. To embrace the code is to embrace men, to embrace their inherent goodness and honesty, to embrace them as teachers, trainers and as the incredible support and providers that they are.

So ladies, I will not join you in emasculating men. I will not roll my eyes at them ever again. I will not tolerate you doing it either. I will leave the conversation. I will defend them. I will treat them with the respect, appreciation and trust they deserve.

And I am angry that those two little men were treated so off-handedly horribly in my office. I am angry that this is the norm. I am angry that no one seems to be offended by this. I am angry that no is paying attention. I am angry that this happens all the time, every day, everywhere. I am angry that that mom has no conscious idea of what she did (and is undoubtedly still doing). I am angry with myself that I spent so much of my life in that same category. I am angry that when I defend men I am treated as a traitor. I am angry at women. I am angry at our society that thinks this is okay. I am angry when I watch a movie or a TV show and see the castration of men by women that passes for humor.

I am angry.

Ladies, let’s give it up. Let’s wise up. Let’s educate ourselves.

Gentlemen, I’m sorry. Please forgive me for being that self-righteous, emasculating, blind, ignorant bitch for so much of my life.

At elephant journal:  Ladies, Let’s Stop Emasculating Men.

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In 2012 I Broke up With my Boyfriend, my Church and God.

eatpraylovebook

I give the book, Eat Pray Love, so much credit for so many things I’ve undertaken in the last few years.

During 2012, it became my solace, my confidant, my bible, my comfort—the secret sanctuary where I sobbed those deep, body-hiccupping, snot-flying, eyes-screwed-shut, mouth-skinned-back-into-the-ugly-crying-skull, sobs and alternately laughed in my new-found happiness.

I carried my well-loved-abused copy everywhere I went (even when I knew I’d be unable to stop and read it), a talisman against my own fear and doubt—a validation and sacrament for the necessary hurricane of changes I was offering up to myself.

That year I broke up with my boyfriend, my church, and my God. I rewrote and redirected my life, Eat Pray Love as my companion and witness, as my poetic Sherpa.

When the book was published, I quite sullenly and self-righteously read it, only because so many were raving about it. It pissed me off—all that raving. I’m so pig-headed that I won’t admit when someone else has written a great book with great ideas—simply because they aren’t my ideas, and it’s not my book.

I rolled my eyes at everyone asking, in that excited, insistent tone of voice, if I’d read it. When I admitted to not only having not read it, but also to having no plans to ever read it, I had to listen to them launch enthusiastically into their list of reasons why I should go immediately and get a copy and begin reading it while standing in the checkout line.

I am stubborn—and stupid in my stubbornness. If you tell me I should do something, I will avoid that very thing—avoid it with instant disregard to its possible benefits to me.

I was also fermenting, in my mind’s dark basement, some vague, sanctimonious plan to contradict them after reading it by insisting on how boring it had been, how their approval of such an inferior book only proved how poorly-read they were. I wanted to prove that it wasn’t as good as they imagined.

Superior much?

I read it quickly and dispassionately and thought, “Okay, that was a good book, but I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” Then I gave it away, because I only keep books I will reread. In those books, I always write the date I bought them. This one didn’t fall into my will-read-again-in-the-future category.

Then 2012 dawned, and the shite hit the proverbial fan. The year started normally enough, what with her usual refusal to make resolutions, but early on I noticed signs of her unrest—the unwillingness to make eye contact, refusal to tell me where she’d been all night.

You know, the usual early signs of doubt and dissatisfaction.

As the there’s-a-reason-for-everything (control-freak!) person I am, I’d like to assign an agent, a specific reason, for the upheaval. I find, however, that I cannot pinpoint an exact catalyst.

I could blame the church “prom.” At the 2012 prom, while dancing with my boyfriend, my lack of attraction to him swam up from somewhere inside me. Worse, I suddenly remembered the very same thing surfacing at the 2011 prom.

I suck at tracking time—always have. So it came as an incredible, depressing shock to discover a real-time calendar marker that proved I had been dissatisfied for over a year. I was horrified at myself that I had “wasted” a year of life. How could I have allowed that to happen?! What was wrong with me that I wasn’t paying attention?

I had become a sheep, unaware—a zombie! I tentatively—and with much dread—began to look at my life, only to discover that in no area of my life was I happy. And it was a surprise to me, asleep that I had been. It would have been easy to blame the boyfriend for my general unhappiness, but I kept digging—while I whined and cried—uncertain about what to do.

Finally, I quit crying and decided it was time for action. I had reached the conclusion that I was in charge of my life, and that if I wasn’t happy, then it was my own damned fault.

I started with the boyfriend. I broke up with him in April. Afterwards, I debated my sanity. After all, he was a good man. I talked it over with girlfriends on a regular basis to stay strong. I made myself keep away from him, afraid I’d weaken and ask him to return.

Next, I broke up with my church, resigned from the council. The church was going through a lot of transition, and I realized being involved with all that transition was too stressful for me. The come-to-Hay-soos meeting that finally got my attention was so tough that I think I had a heart attack. I am a veteran panic-attacker, so I knew it was not that—something that can be confused with a heart attack by panic attack novices.

While I was (outwardly) calmly arguing my stance, listening to people (not calmly!) verbally attack me, there was a sane but desperate voice in a deep, quiet part of me—monitoring the heavy pressure in my chest and the erratic, excruciatingly painful beating of my heart—praying, begging, “Please don’t let me die here. I don’t want to die in the middle of so much anger.”

I refused to show any signs of “weakness” to the verbal assailants (I’ve mentioned the stubborn thing, right?), even as I was experiencing all the painful, classic, heart attack symptoms.

Afterwards, I resigned from the council. When you’ve decided to take charge of your life and make it happier, you know very easily and quickly that life is too short to be having heart attacks—real or otherwise—at church meetings.

I could also blame the fact that I found it necessary, at some point that year, to break up with God. Yes, you read that right. I broke up with God. I was pissed off that I didn’t have the life I thought I wanted, so I officially broke up with God. I became an atheist—sort of—for a while.

It turns out we were just taking a break, but I didn’t know that at the time.

At some point early in that year, I started having a hankering for Eat Pray Love. It baffled me. I mentioned this longing to someone, and she said—in a condescending tone, “You mean you haven’t read that yet, Grace?!”

“Bloody hell,” I thought, “here we go again!”

She was one of the original ravers—one of the women who had thoroughly pissed me off years before with her snobbish attitude about the book. I explained, inwardly defensive but trying not to go there verbally, that I had already read it, but was feeling drawn to it again for some inexplicable, baffling reason. Her attitude at this vulnerable admission revealed condescension again.

As usual, my timing was off. Had I expressed this hankering those few years ago when it was in vogue to read the damned thing, I might have been accepted into their inter sanctum. I was failing again at fitting in. I was never accepted into the in-crowd in school either, much to my teenage chagrin.

My copy of Eat Pray Love is dated May 18, 2012. It is written in, beat up, squashed, tea stained, smeared; it is well loved. Its dog ears have dog ears.

I spent the summer alone, out on the deck meditating and reading—for hours at a stretch. Each time I finished, I turned immediately to the front and started over. I lost count of the re-readings. I began to skip the first, sad, part and would go meet Liz in Italy instead.

I read—moved to tears, laughter, chicken skin, longing, happiness, sadness, shame, joy…

I would stop reading and meditate over passages that caused some sort of shift in me—and would open my eyes hours later to discover the sun had set on the front side of my house, and I was sitting in darkness, a smile on my face.

With its support, I successfully changed my attitude and my entire life. I graduated off my deck and became social again. I started dancing again. I took tango lessons. I learned to salsa. I began exploring the masculine/feminine aspects of myself and began coaxing myself toward the feminine end of that spectrum.

A man that has become—second only to my daughter—the love of my life, taught me how to blues dance. And I fell in love—with him and with blues dancing. He and I are still dancing together, dancing through the most amazing and fulfilling relationship I have ever known, as well as on the dance floor. We teach blues dance now.

I didn’t stop there. I am still rereading Eat Pray Love, letting it have its way with me, letting it heal me by what it brings up in me to be examined.

It is still my comfort and solace and go-to propellant.

It continues to usher me up and into my own heart when I am wondering what to do (go back to bed, Grace), when I’m frightened about what’s next, when I know I need to crack through my own restrictive seed pod and send out some roots, some new growth into happiness, into sacred moments when I, just like Liz, sink down into that still, calm hub of my heart, happy and content.

A version published at elephant journal. Photo courtesy of the author.

Grace is a Certified Hypnotherapist and relationship coach in Ft. Collins, CO, USA. She gracethanx2013.3sees clients and facilitates Divine Feminine Hypnotherapy workshops for women. She’s a flaming, Earth-loving, tree-hugging, save-the-Planet, believes-in-faeries, bike-riding, card-carrying, spiritual but not religious, hippie cowgirl liberal photographer poet therapist—yep, they do exist. You can find her creations here. You can also connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Managing Anxiety and Why Women Worry More than Men.

DTS_Photography_Movie1small“The amygdala, once triggered, sends distress signals to the other key parts of your brain.”

During an argument this week, my frustrated man asked, “Why are you so negative? Why do you always want to talk about what bad things might happen?”

I did not have an answer for him.

And to prove him correct, I immediately mentally checked-out of our conversation and began worrying that I must be flawed somehow. Something must be wrong with me and my way of thinking to make me worry so much. Is it a childhood thing? I wasn’t breastfed, after all.

I’m just naturally pessimistic? Mercury is retrograde? I’m too old? Too young? The moon is full? Maybe it was the recent eclipse! Is it because I didn’t have enough fish oil this week? Too much B12?

Didn’t get enough sleep? Too much sleep, maybe? My chakras are unbalanced? I ate too much starch? My moon is in Taurus? I lost my keys, my cat ran away, the sun got in my eyes, my shoe came untied, and I was really missing my mom that day?

Oh my gawd! What if I have a brain tumor?!

Ladies, sound familiar?

Enter the Amygdala

“The job of the amygdala is to manage the storage of memories according to the strength of the emotional reaction associated with the memory.

The right amygdala, primarily responsible for action, is generally more active in men than in women. The left amygdala, on the other hand, is primarily responsible for storage of the details of traumatic memories and prompts more thought than action. This amygdala is more active than the right in women, and in persons of both genders who have anxiety disorders.

The amygdala, once triggered, sends distress signals to the other key parts of your brain.”

Ahaaaa! Well that certainly sheds some light on the situation, doesn’t it?

With this knowledge, you are already miles ahead of everyone else when it comes to managing anxiety/fear/worry.

Your Personal Toolkit

Anxiety related issues present themselves in nearly all the clients I see. For anyone (not just women) who is experiencing inappropriate anxiety, arm yourself with this amygdala knowledge and come up with your own personal worry/anxiety toolkit.

When the worries/fears begin to get out of control you will want to interrupt the anxiety pattern.

1. Say to yourself, “Stop. This is just the product of my overactive amygdala/brain.”
2. Do some bilateral stimulation—whether physically or audibly. Watch Melissa’s video below to learn how to do it and/or Youtube is full of great music to do this very thing if you listen with earbuds. Listen to it while reading, meditating, checking your emails, etc.
3. Don’t feed the fears by continuing to think in that anxious direction. Distract yourself with other, good, thoughts or activities. Have some ready to go. Make a list so you can have a ready, go-to distraction. Read them. Let yourself relax into the good feelings for a while.
4. Use Brene Brown‘s latest life hack out of her book, Rising Strong: Gently talk about the story you are making up in you own head and get feedback from the other person to clarify and learn what both of you are really feeling/thinking.
5. Consider reprogramming your habits easily with an effective therapy tool like BrainWorking Recursive Therapy (BWRT). It works completely and quickly. It’s my favorite tool—for myself and clients.

For Our Male Counterparts

…women tend to think that whatever bad thing that is happening now will continue forever. While they often think a good thing will disappear in a moment. We lack perspective since the worry part of our brain – the amygdala – is more active than in men. It can make us lose faith. ~The Queen’s Code, by Alison Armstrong

Yes, I can relate to the “make us lose faith” thing—much to the frustration of my sweet, patient man who is always kindly reassuring me. Thank God he is such a good man.

Gentlemen, this is very important!

Just listen. Don’t argue. Don’t try and stop us from getting “out of control.” Don’t take it personally. It is not personal—even when it seems that way.

Well actually, we do think it’s personally about you, and we will present it that way. But really, it is not. Please extend grace to us in these situations.

It’s our bloody amygdala!

Simply let us rant, cry, worry and complain—even if it seems to be directed squarely at you—then take us in your arms, let us cry/yell/sigh/etc. and then resolutely and with supreme confidence, say, “Baby, it’s all going to be alright.”

“One of the deepest feminine pleasures is when a man stands full, present, and unreactive in the midst of his woman’s emotional storms. When he stays present with her, and loves her through the layers of wildness and closure, then she feels his trustability, and she can relax.” ~ David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

And when we whine (or yell), “No, it won’t be alright,” say it again. Hold us tight so we can feel your strength. Let us unwind in your arms.

An argument will be diverted and our amygdala will thank you.

So whether anxiety is a pattern for you or if you are simply experiencing some stress/anxiety because of a specific, temporary situation, experiment with these tools and let me know how you fare.

A version published at elephant journal.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

Can You Trust Him?

DTS_Photography_Movie3Oh my gawd, I’m in love with a man who cannot be trusted!

Recently I’ve been thinking about a short Facebook conversation I had a couple of years ago with a male friend. I explained, in a post, the dilemma I always go through when I feel someone has broken/betrayed my trust.

I always wonder if I can trust them at all and to what degree or if I should even continue to put myself in their sphere—like I might just be asking to be betrayed again if I do.

I’d have no one but myself to blame, at that point, because they’d already betrayed me, and I’d just be setting myself up for more of the same if I continued to interact with them in any way.

I feel, when this sort of thing happens, that I cannot trust them at all—in any area. The distrust I feel extends to the entire person and to everything they do and say.

I went on to write about how I could still love that person without being around them and without interacting with them much—if at all, and how that might be much more healthy than hanging around being jumpy about if I’d be betrayed again or not.

My friend was amused by my throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bath-water approach and proceeded to explain how wrong I was. He used the analogy of knowing he could trust his dog, because he knew her from years of experience. He also knew, he wrote, that if he gave his dog a cookie and asked her to take it over to his wife, that his dog would eat the cookie instead of taking it to his wife.

Therefore, he reasoned, he knew he could trust his dog, just not with cookies. So why was I so ready to throw away a person and their friendship just because they couldn’t be trusted with one thing?

I followed his logic and even felt a bit chastised and kind of ashamed of my ready willingness to be so “callous”—especially since it had been such a public discussion. I reexamined my own logic long and hard, trying to find a way to adopt his way of looking at the situation.

But I just couldn’t. It didn’t feel safe to me. To adopt his way of thinking felt like not taking care of myself. It felt like I was putting myself in possible harm’s way, like I was not standing my ground and maintaining my healthy boundaries.

I have discovered, though, in the intervening time—and after much research—that we were really having a conversation about how men’s and women’s brains function so very differently. We just weren’t aware we were having that conversation.

His explanation and how he classified the trust experience is a classic example of how men’s brains work. Men compartmentalize. Each subject/person/idea has its own separate “box/compartment” in his brain. Men’s brains are, for the most part, single-focused—while women’s brains are considered to be multi-focused.

I envy men this ability. I wish I could turn off all but one subject and focus exclusively on that one subject/idea. I also wish I could compartmentalize the way they do.

Instead, with my female brain, when one (even small) thing feels not right, then my whole world feels not right. That not-rightness extends into everything I do and feel and say, etc. It colors everything in my life/world.

Mark Gungor explains it well in his video about how women’s brains connect everything to everything else.

Because our brains connect everything, if one part of our life is not going well, we tend to connect that to everything else in our life and conclude that really nothing is going well.

To men, this often looks like drama. To women, this looks normal.

This is especially true of trust in relationships. Women are all about relationship—of all kinds. We value relationship above most everything else—with co-workers, friends, lovers, our children, the volunteer committees we’re a part of, our community, the world.

Just yesterday when a client read off her homework list to me in my office, this was once again brought to my attention. She is coming to me for relationship coaching and after listening to her go up and down and around and back again about what she did and didn’t and might want in a relationship last week, I gave her the task of making a list of what she wants in a man/relationship.

I told her to simply write everything down that came to mind. “Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense, or contradicts itself,” I told her, “just write it all down. Let’s start there.”

After she read off her items, I brought it to her attention that she had several items on that list that all pointed to safety/certainty. Most women rank “comfort/certainty” as their number one priority in life and relationships when asked to take a look at Tony Robbins’ Six Human Needs list. She had written: He walks his talk, he’s trustworthy, honest—among others.

Gentlemen, to feel safe in the world and in a relationship, a woman needs to know she can trust you. When you don’t follow through and do what you told us you’d do, we begin to feel like we can’t trust you and that makes us feel unsafe in our relationship with you and unsafe in the world.

We begin to think things like, can I trust him at all—with anything? Simply because that is the way our brains work; we connect everything to everything else and begin to worry that we need to paint the whole picture of you with that same he-didn’t-do-what-he-said-he-would-do brush.

When I explained to my client that because of the difference in the way men’s and women’s brains work, “trustworthy” might not look the same to her as it does to a man, she was stunned. She had never considered this possibility.

Gentlemen, we know that you just spaced out what you told us. We know that you separate everything into “boxes” in your brain and consider one little forgotten promise to be just that: little.

We know your guy friends wouldn’t bat a proverbial eye at the same space-out, because they categorize everything too. We know they’d think just like my Facebook friend did: I just can’t trust him with cookies; they’d shrug and forget it.

We know you’re a good person; in fact, we love you. And then our brain circuitry takes over and starts making connections (true or not) and we begin to worry that we have chosen an untrustworthy man.

Oh my gawd, I’m in love with a man who cannot be trusted! And I have to make good decisions for myself in my life, I have to take of me, and I know I need to be in a relationship where there is trust, therefore, I am gonna have to leave this untrustworthy man!

Ladies: Stop. Breathe.

Before you throw out the man with the bath water, put on your man-cap for a minute or two and create a few compartments. Just because he spaced out one little thing, does not mean he is not worthy of your trust. Maybe he doesn’t even remember promising you that, because he was distracted when you asked him about it.

One, learn how to really get his attention. Two, maybe you can’t trust what he says about that one subject or in that one area of your relationship. Granted, you will have to designate the worth factor in that one area of your relationship.

But that doesn’t mean he is totally untrustworthy. That just means when he promises you something in or about that category, you know that may or may not happen. You teach yourself to mentally shrug, to let it go and not use it against him.

You love him, remember? Let him be human. Humans make mistakes.

I’m not talking about a man who continues to betray you and lie to you and/or cheat on you. I’m also not talking about compromising your values and putting up with abuse or neglect or anything else that is abhorrent. Those men are a totally different subject for another post.

I’m talking about the man you love and with whom you have an otherwise great relationship—a man who has proven you can trust him in every other category.

That (usually) trustworthy man loves you and is hardwired to make you happy and might have been so dazzled by your sweet smile, or distracted by the lights, the crowd, the noise, (his erection, your body, that beer he had, a work problem, etc.) that he just nodded and said yes. At the very least, give him the benefit of the proverbial doubt first.

Don’t punish him for the way his brain works.

And gentlemen, when we bring this mess of connecting thoughts and fears to you in our pain and confusion, and when we are so upset because we love you and can’t bear to think you might have lied to us and we’re thinking we might have to leave you (!), please don’t punish us for the way our brains work either.

A version also published at elephant journal.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

Grace is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Registered Psychotherapist in Ft. Collins, CO, USA. She gracethanx2013.3sees clients and facilitates Divine Feminine Hypnotherapy workshops for women. She’s a flaming, Earth-loving, tree-hugging, save-the-bees, believes-in-faeries, bike-riding, card-carrying, spiritual but not religious, hippie cowgirl liberal poet therapist—yep, they do exist. You can find her creations here. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Communicating with Men.

DSCF4131Why would you read these posts? Why would you do these things? Isn’t this anti-feminism?

When I get these questions from clients, my first response is always: Are you happy with your life/relationship(s) as is? If so, you have nothing to worry about. If not, what have you got to lose in learning how to respect and communicate with the men in your life?

In this post, I discussed the timing of inviting your man back into love. In the post before that one, I wrote about some differences in men and women’s brains and why it’s important to offer your gift of love, why it’s important to invite your man back into his heart and belly—back into love.

In my last post, we looked at some specific techniques to get your man out of his head—out of his driven, focused, “work” mode—and into his heart and belly, where he can share in love, where he can get a break from the driven, obsessive energy of masculinity and where he can notice and appreciate your feminine energy.

If you followed some of the instructions in that last posts, now you have his attention.

Now that you’ve got his attention and focus, how do you communicate with him most effectively? We’ll cover some of those ideas in this post.

Remember, his brain works differently than ours—not “less than” and not slower and not more shallowly—just differently. Learn the differences and begin to respect those differences.

Just because his brain works differently than ours, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him or his brain or the way he thinks. You can choose to be angry or upset or hurt by this, or you can realize he is a man with a man’s brain and you can work with it, being respectful of how different he is

Please leave your prejudices behind and stop rolling your eyes at him (or behind his back). Be respectful and kind. See him and men and how their brains work as a lovely new land to be explored. Be willing to learn and enjoy—bring your sense of adventure.

“Be mature. Be kind. Be honorable. You will never regret taking the high road no matter what happens.” ~ Steve Horsmon

Get in the Same Zip Code

The reason he doesn’t respond to you sometimes? Because you haven’t gotten his attention, so that he can switch “boxes” in his brain. He is not ignoring you. The way his brain works makes that impossible.

Don’t just yell out the back door, “Dinner’s ready!” or “Your brother’s on the phone!” and expect him to respond. He is focused out there, doing his guy thing.

Go out to where he is and do this first. Then tell him the information. He might be irritated at the interruption, but be respectful enough to know that the way his brains works makes being in physical proximity to him necessary, and he needs that from you.

Being in the same zip code is especially important if you are conveying significant information—meaning you are talking about something that’s important to you and that you want him to remember.

Don’t walk off, or start doing something else while you’re talking to him. If it’s important, convey that by staying right there and keeping eye contact. Put your phone away, close the laptop, wait until you’re not cooking or sorting bills. Tell him, “This is really important to me.”

Make an Appointment Ahead of Time

Men need to be able to switch into the appropriate box in their brains. Be kind and give him a chance to do that. Let him know ahead of time what you want to talk about and set an appointment. Put it on his calendar.

Ask him, “It would make me so happy to talk about this with you. Is this a good time?” If he says no, don’t take it personally, simply ask, “Okay, when would be a better time? How about Wednesday after dinner?” If that works, get it on both of your literal calendars, so that he has a reminder.

Men are goal-oriented and are driven to accomplish those goals. When you get on his calendar, not only does he have a reminder, you and that discussion are now a goal to be accomplished.

Remember, don’t be offended by the way his brain works, learn about it, respect it—use this knowledge to promote peace and ease between the two of you.

He will be so much more open to giving his attention to you if you respect his needs. Tell him what you want to talk to him about—don’t keep him guessing and nervous. There’s nothing respectful about that.

Remind Him Nicely

You will have to tell him things more than once—remind him. That’s just the way his brain works. He is always so focused on right now, that he is unable to think ahead in that moment. He needs to be reminded—kindly.

Alison Armstrong suggests something like this. As you are both waking up and getting out of bed, say something like, “Wow, only four days until my birthday! I am so excited this year!”

And then maybe the day of, “Happy birthday to me, the birthday girl!” as you smile and hug him. He gets to celebrate right then and there with you, and you have reminded him kindly.

Tell him What you Need

Women need and like to talk and rant out loud. We just do. That’s how we process and figure out how we’re feeling about something. That’s how we understand and make sense of our world.

“I believe that when women stop emasculating men, men will give us everything we ever wanted…”   ~ Alison Armstrong

Don’t expect him to be your girlfriend. Don’t expect him to be able—or willing—to talk to you like a woman would/does. He shouldn’t be expected to learn and then execute that.

To insist he do that is actually a subtle form of emasculation. When you refuse to let him talk to you like a man talks, you are demanding he be a woman, and you are saying there is something wrong with him being and talking like a man.

If this idea doesn’t sit right with you, pushes buttons or otherwise pisses you off, think of the opposite.

Think of just how pissed off you’d be if a man refused to talk to you until you “cool off and become more rational”—in other words, until you can communicate more like him, more like a man.

Men can get overwhelmed by all those words if he thinks you need him to fix it. And most men are fixers—it’s a guy thing. If you need to just rant and talk out loud and just need him to listen, say so.

Try something like, “Baby, I really need to just vent/rant right now about this. Could you just give me the gift of letting me talk it out? I don’t need you to fix anything. I simply need your ear.” And when he does this for you, let him know how happy that makes you!

Learn to Listen

But learn to listen not like a woman needs to be listened to, but like a man does. You know how we talk together, ladies. We finish each other’s sentences, exclaim out loud to empathize and talk over each other in our excitement and intensity, sometimes gesturing wildly and emphatically.

Ask a question of a man and then put an invisible piece of duct tape over your mouth and just sit and wait and listen. You will get the most wonderful, deep, incredible answers. It is beautiful.

While he talks, let him know he still has your attention, but without interrupting—just nod or make small sounds. Remember, men focus on one thing at a time (I am so envious of this!), so don’t derail him by being too verbal in your responses while he’s talking.

Then after he stops talking, use Alison’s 10-second rule: after he stops talking, wait. Wait another 10 seconds before saying anything or asking the next question. Give him time to add on to his original answer if he chooses to.

In stressful/critical situations, men often like to take the information/question you’ve given them and then want to process and come back to you with their answer or their condensed version of what is needed.

They often will want to give you just the end result of their analysis rather than talk it all out and come to an out-loud, verbal decision right in that moment.

I know it can be difficult to wait for him to do this—especially in the middle of an argument or uncomfortable confrontation, but he really does need to do this.

Be patient and kind and respect that they want to bring you their best answer, their best selves, and that is why they are requesting your patience. Trust him (and maybe call a girlfriend in the interim and get her to talk you down off the ledge while you wait).

Just the Facts, Ma’am—Keep it Short and To-the-Point

When you need something other than just to rant, choose your words wisely. Focus on efficiency. Men can get overwhelmed by all the words and emotions coming out of us, and when men get overwhelmed, they tend to want to retreat to their “nothing box.”

That’s not how they communicate effectively. Their brains work quickly and comprehensively, taking in information in big, often visual, chunks. They don’t need or want all the fluff. Help them help you by sorting through all that ahead of time.

A good rule of proverbial thumb: talk sticky stuff out with your girlfriend(s) first, then take the boiled-down reduction to your man to discuss.

Tell Him the ROI (Return on Investment)

Get his attention and tell him what the ROI is for him if he listens to you.

Try something like, “When I feel listened-to and heard, I am able to relax and concentrate on you and on having a good time with you. I will be the normal, happy woman you know and love. I will have more confidence. I will be easier to live with. I won’t feel crazy and isolated. You will be my hero for listening to me rant/talk/emote and being my support. I feel like I can go out and conquer the world when I know you hear and respect me by really listening to me. I love that feeling of knowing you have my back and that we are a team this way. I’ll want to connect with you more deeply. I’ll want to have sex more often.”

Why Men Don’t Tell you the Truth

“Men are not devious like women—unless backed into a corner, men will always tell the truth and say what they mean.” ~ Alison Armstrong

If you find out your man has lied to you, the question you might think about asking yourself is not “Why is my man a liar?” but rather, “Why does he feel backed into a corner? Is it because my reaction to this in the past has been not very pleasant, so he is avoiding that again, perhaps? Do I emasculate him on a regular basis in this type of situation, so that he needs to avoid that?”

And remember, many men pretend to be vulnerable, and don’t tell us the entire truth, so that we women don’t kick the emotional shit out of them, according to research by Brene Brown.

I’m not saying a woman is responsible when a man lies to her, I’m just saying that in an otherwise, seemingly normal, relationship where lying is unusual, these might be questions to think about. And it might be time to learn how, as a woman, to respectfully sit with and honor his true, deep (scary!) vulnerability.

And gentlemen, why are you lying to her? Is it because you don’t want her emotions, her femininity? Is that too scary?

“One of the deepest feminine pleasures is when a man stands full, present, and unreactive in the midst of his woman’s emotional storms. When he stays present with her, and loves her through the layers of wildness and closure, then she feels his trustability, and she can relax.”     ~ David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

Do You have a Great Ask?

Alison Armstrong, who has studied men for over 25 years, encourages women to use the Great Ask with men. Figure out what you need instead of just complaining first. Then ask him for that. Example: “I really love birthday parties. Could you plan a birthday party for me this year?”

Then ask him, “Now what do you need from me to make this happen?” Then put the invisible duct tape over your mouth and wait and let him tell you what he needs from you.

He may need to be reminded nicely, or he may need you to tell him more about what kind of party you want. He may need you to witness him putting it in/on his calendar, so he has a reminder.

Then do that for him, so as to help him get you what you need/want. That is the Great Ask.

“When we share our emotions with our man, it inspires him to protect and help us. Share the specific emotions and then ask for what you want/need, ‘When we don’t get enough time together, I feel sad and I miss you. I would love to have more quality time with you. And what do you need from me to help make this happen?’” ~ Alison Armstrong

Is this manipulation?

Some folks will see this information as manipulation. And indeed, if that is your motive, then it is manipulation. And some will recognize it as the informed route to the relationship that they have always wanted to have but either didn’t know how, or didn’t have the courage, to do.

Tony Robbins talks about how you don’t just want your partner to be a fan, because satisfied fans/clients leave. He says we should create raving fans of our partners, because raving fans just keep coming back for more. It’s the difference between worshiping and loving someone.

We’ll talk more about whether this is manipulation or not in the next post.

A version also published at elephant journal.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

Avoiding a Valentine’s Day Disaster.

love4Ladies, this is directed at you.

I’m not going to pretend I came up with these ideas. I’m just going to pass on the information, because it’s too important not to. I want to help you avoid Valentine’s Day disasters. We have Alison Armstrong and her years of research to thank for this info.

Valentine’s Day, if you are not watchful, sets women up to be disappointed and men to fail.

You know you have that fantasy V-Day in your head (and heart)—admit it. You know exactly what it would take to make you feel loved and special on V-Day. It can be very elaborate, or perhaps something very simple.

It can involve romance, sex, fantasy, chocolate, candlelight, moonlight—the list can be long.

Ladies, you know all about Valentine’s Day disasters, don’t you? You have the perfect day playing inside your head for weeks before the date, but come V-Day, nothing goes as planned, right?

But here’s one of the most important things to keep in mind about V-Day: Does your man know about your fantasy/wish/idea? And I don’t mean have you been hinting around but not really, specifically, telling him anything, expecting him to read your mind the way your best girlfriend can.

I am asking if you have directly told him what you want/need—and in a way that he can actually hear. Because if you haven’t told him, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed and him to fail.

This is a V-Day disaster in the making.

He cannot read your mind. Stop thinking that men’s brains work the way ours do. Learn the differences and respect them. Learn to speak in man language and gently educate him about woman language.

He has the luxury of being able to focus on one thing at time without fifty million ideas coming at him at once to complicate things, among other differences.

The reason he “waits until the last minute” to plan and/or do things, is because his thoughts are focused elsewhere until it’s time to focus on the next thing. Men can focus on one thing at a time and to the exclusion of everything else, so he is going to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. Trust him.

Pause

Take a minute or two and think about what you want for Valentine’s Day. Then think, above and beyond that, what would make you happy.

If you don’t communicate clearly and kindly to your man about what you need, don’t blame anyone but yourself for a V-Day disaster.

Set him up to win with you. Men are hard-wired to make us happy, ladies. Let him win. Let him make you happy. Tell him what you need and want and then ask what it would take from you to get that—help him help you.

Remember that men’s brains are wired differently than ours and work differently than ours. Your man might see Valentine’s Day as not much different than other days.

I think the only reason men might register it at all as different is because, as women, we have trained them to be aware of the possible dangers of this day. If they have any experience at all, they may even hate the day because of past “failures” on their part in keeping you or other women happy on this day.

So go to Alison’s page and take her detailed advice and take control of your Valentine’s Day. She has done over 25 years of research into men, women and relationships.

Help your man. Let him win. Let him make you happy. He so wants to.

And if you find yourself balking at the idea of helping him win with you, it might be time to think about why you don’t want your man to win.

Most importantly: No matter what he does for you or gives you, those are gifts. Accept them as such.

Trust and Betrayal.

 DeathtoStock_Medium5Keeping my heart open is essential for allowing trust—but it also allows for possible bruising, and even breakage.

Remember, though, when someone or some situation seems to have betrayed your trust and your heart (and ego?) is limping around, still assessing the damage: You didn’t do anything wrong by trusting.

My first thought is usually, ”Why did I trust her/him?!”

My next thought is that I feel stupid to have somehow “allowed” myself to be betrayed.

Let your heart hurt if it needs to, but let it hurt because of the betrayal itself, not because you trusted them. Trust is not a weakness; it’s a blessing and a gift—to ourselves first, and then also to everyone else. Please don’t add to the heartache by doubting your decision to trust.

“The fact that you are feeling big pain lets you know you are truly living big. When you live a big and openhearted life, the possibility of big pain is also present.” ~ Jo Underwood

I used to feel like a fool if someone betrayed my trust. I would spend large amounts of time beating myself up, looking back at all the signs I should have somehow deciphered differently to somehow have figured out that this person was at some point going to betray me.

I thought I was somehow “guilty” and to blame for not being smart enough to know a betrayer when I saw one. I think those who are betrayed are often seen as naïve, stupid, blind or gullible. At the kindest, they are seen as victims.

“You should have known better,” the betrayed are told.

Silly, right? Yeah, I know. But I think we humans seem to believe some version of that much of the time.

There is no shame in having been betrayed. Indeed, the shame, if there is any to be spread around, might better go to the betrayer. They took trust and misused it.

To trust is to be open to possibilities. It is to let the heart fly and sing and swell. To trust is to be brave and generous. It is to give up trying to control those things outside ourselves.

To trust is offer up one of the most sacred gifts we have to give. To just jump in with enthusiasm and trust with your big, available heart, ready to believe the very best is possible, is like magic.

It’s the opposite of enabling, the opposite of co-dependence. It’s like saying, “I know you can handle this. I’m gonna just let you do it your way, because I know you got this. I’ll be right over here cheering you on, and when you’re done, we can go celebrate that you showed up and did your best.”

It is best served up in times of worry, uncertainty and fear. It can come in many forms, too—big like a formal prayer carefully lifted up to a higher power, or more simply like a quick, small knowing that the right words will somehow spill right out my mouth when I look up and realize a friend in need is walking toward me.

And to be trusted, when someone else gives me that gift—well, it is like being handed the shiny, secret key to his or her tender heart. I want to hold that so carefully, so respectfully.

So trust. Be that brave, that vulnerable, that allowing and open. Just jump into the pool of trust and sink down into it. Be brave enough to become the person that goes first. It feels scary at first, but then good when you realize what a relief it is, how it makes your body relax, your breathing settle low into a soft belly. And it feels good no matter how well it is received—or even if it is received.

Just the act of trusting is enough.

Try it. Imagine someone or something in your mind, face him or her and say, “I trust you. I trust you to do whatever it is that you need to do in whatever way you need to do it.” And then let it go. You’ve given it to them, so that now you can let them take it from there. You don’t have to worry about it anymore.

But what if, in doing it their way, they violate something in us? We must trust that everyone is doing the best they can in each moment with what they have to work with in that moment—including ourselves.

“What if no one is misbehaving?” ~ Alison Armstrong

We forgive. We ask them about their motives. We listen with an open, trusting heart, and discover that they had ample, satisfying reasons for what they’ve done—reasons we couldn’t have imagined, but that prove they were not misbehaving, they were simply trusting themselves too.

We don’t trust for anyone else, my dears, we trust for ourselves—to release ourselves from that small, tight, dark place where we put our hearts originally for protection, but which, some time ago—and without our conscious consent—has actually become a prison.

And in trusting and being open and vulnerable, you will discover different types of people: those you may choose not to be around, those who push your boundaries of trust, those who betray you and also those who maybe don’t betray you exactly, but perhaps try to use your trust to their advantage. The more you practice trust, the easier it is to recognize these.

What to do with those?

Brene Brown, the vulnerability-shame queen, says it best:

“How do you make yourself be vulnerable with somebody you don’t completely trust, like in a relationship?”

“You don’t,” Brene answers.

It is almost like a sacrament when, after I’ve been betrayed and I have finally let the water clear and all the sediment has settled back down to the bottom of the pond, I realize: I didn’t do anything wrong.

I was just showing up, living my life with my own brand of wacky, authentic integrity and balance, doing my best, making mistakes but keeping my heart open, assuming positive intent, allowing vulnerability, not perfect, not right—just trusting.

The fact that that person lied to me, cheated on me, verbally attacked me, tried to shame me or betrayed me says absolutely nothing negative about me. It doesn’t necessarily make me a victim, either.

It just says I know how to trust, I know how to not take on the responsibility for something that is not mine, I know how to live and love big—from an open, vulnerable heart—and that is a glorious thing.

Don’t let past betrayals talk your heart out of showing up! Keep it unlocked and open and ready to be amazed by the (mostly!) goodness all around you.

Don’t be ashamed of being betrayed. Don’t let anyone talk you into thinking you did anything wrong by trusting. More importantly, don’t let you talk yourself into that.

Remember that to trust is to be brave. It empowers you, and those you trust, as well.

First published at elephant journal.