Tag Archives: courage

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.

How to Invite Your Man Back into Love—the Techniques.

DeathtosStockSerenity9Getting your man’s attention, even though he is probably going to initially be irritated, grumpy or impatient with you, takes courage—and practice.

In my last 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 this post, we look 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.

Not for Sissies

Getting your man’s attention, even though he is probably going to initially be irritated, grumpy or impatient with you, takes courage—and practice.

I had difficulty doing this at first, and I continued to feel like I was failing at it until I mentioned that to my man. He expressed surprise that I would think that and then informed me that he thought I was great at it.

At first it felt foreign and weird, and I was sure he was going to be (and stay!) angry with me for interrupting him. But I approached it, as best I could, with a sense of experimentation just to see what would work and what wouldn’t.

The same way we ask men to be brave and withstand our emotions and just stand strong and firm for us even when we say we don’t want that? Well, be brave for your man and give him your feminine gift of bringing him back into his heart, back into intimacy with you—even when he shows irritation at you for doing so.

“Your feminine force of life is your unique gift to your man, and, deep down, it’s what he wants from you, regardless of his resistance.”
~David Deida

Firstly, Get into the Feminine

Important! To be perceived and received as the woman you really are, you will want to make sure, first, that you are in your soft, strong feminine energy. Otherwise, you risk becoming masculine and domineering in your endeavor, so that your request comes across as a nagging demand instead of an invitation.

“The feminine force is the force of life. Your happiness is the heart of this force. Give him happiness the way you want to. Kiss him, hug him, hold him, tell him you love him, tell him how good it is to see him. Do whatever expresses your happiness. He might scowl and mumble, “I don’t feel like it. I feel horrible.” Don’t absorb his masculine refusal of life and energy. Transform the moment, literally, into a garden of life: music, loving affection, food and light. All of it is just an expression of your radiant happiness.” ~ David Deida

Femininity is about the body and the senses. Focus on your breath, and let it come from deep in your belly; feel yourself fully in your body—warm, soft. Imagine how inviting he will find you when you are soft and feminine and warm—think of how strong and powerful that makes you.

Be kind.

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

Speak in man. Keep it brief and to the point and use words that have meaning to him. For example, words like “help” call a man to action and therefore get his attention and get him instantly ready to assist you. Try something like, “Baby, would you be so kind as to help me with something when you get a minute or two?”

My Favorite Method for the Public Interruption

As I approach him, I focus on why I am doing this and what I want to convey.

For example, I might want to give him a break from work (men will continue to work in their minds even if they’re not working physically or at a desk). I love him and want to connect with him. I want him to feel how much I love him. I know he’s stressed, and I want to let him know I’m supporting him, that I’m here for him. I have important information I know he will want to hear, etc.

“The highest form of feminine radiance is love, which can be expressed in many ways. Men feed on this radiance. This love heals their hearts. When they receive it, men feel, Yes! This is the woman I want to be with!” ~David Deida

Get him into his love room/box. And to get him there takes a second or two—or more. Extend to him the respect of knowing that’s just how his brain works and be patient.

Touch him—gently, softly—and with power. Keep your voice soft and low—smile. Look at his eyes and wait for him to make eye contact. Keep smiling genuinely. Think of how much you love him and respect him, how proud you are of him, and let that come through your eyes and voice.

I like to bodily move in front of him and put my palm flat against the middle of his chest and make eye contact. I lean into him a bit. Smile. Wait to get his eyes and attention. Wait past his irritation, the impatience—I don’t take it personally (anymore). I continue to smile.

When he withdraws his attention from everything else and gives it to me, I so appreciate it, so I try to convey that appreciation—sometimes in words or maybe just with my gaze.

Once you have his full attention, tell him what you need to say—whether it’s something important, “Baby, check your zipper,” or something ‘trivial’ like, “You look really hot in that shirt. Wow, you are so handsome,” followed, perhaps, by a quick kiss.

Then back off and go your way. This entire exchange should never take more than ten seconds.

He may smile; he may engage you in conversation and want more of your attention; he may follow you and offer affection. He might give you a kiss in return. He may go back to his work. In any case, you have done your job. You have connected with him.

That was an invitation back into love.

If he paused and made genuine eye contact and acknowledged you—either in words or facial expression, and especially if he offered love back to you in the form of words, a smile and/or physical affection, a kiss, etc., then he accepted your invitation—and you can consider yourself successful.

If I need more of his time and attention, or if more information needs to be exchanged, I do all of the above and then say something like, “Sweetie, when you get a minute, can I get your help with something?” And by “help,” I mean: I need your help getting you this information.

And remember, when you’re in a public setting, there may be lots going on. It could be really difficult for him to shift focus, so be patient and kind.

From a Man’s Perspective

I asked Steve Horsmon, life and relationship coach, to send me his favorites. Here’s his top 10 list.

1. The head scratch and the “I’m so glad you’re my man,” comment in Married Man’s Tears makes men weep with feelings of being loved and accepted. That can be used almost anywhere.

2. Playfulness is key. Giggling at us/because of us. Teasing, poking, wrestling. Mock domination—up against the wall—quick flash of eye contact and a kiss. Nothing feels so great as being pursued and desired.

3. Mystery. “Hey, when you’re done with what you’re doing, meet me on the patio for a surprise.” (have some wine, cheese, crackers, whatever)

4. Playfully grab our belts right in front where the buckle is, letting your fingers slide down behind the belt, against the belly, make eye contact, lean in where only we can hear you with a, “Hey, I missed you today. Want to hook up later—after the kids go to bed?” with a wicked smile and a quick, but suggestive, kiss.

5. Men (and women) both love someone stirring “erotic energy” in the relationship. This includes mystery, adventure, danger, sensual touch, dirty talk, tension, distance, aggression, risk, competition, etc. Men love to be yanked by surprise out of their mind and into their heart with erotic energy. Not necessarily sex—just light, fun, tantalizing erotic energy.

6. Competition. “Hey, I bet I can hit that sign with a rock before you!” or “I bet I can walk on this rail farther than you,” or whatever. Playful, physical competition stirs us into our body and heart.

7. Handling conflict well. “Well sir, I tend to totally disagree with your opinion but I understand where you’re coming from. You’re kind of hot when you’re bullheaded, ya know?”

8. Not talking when we drive…or at most, “Gee, the chrome plating on that bumper looks a little pitted, don’t ya think?” (with a friendly squeeze on the back of the neck)

9. Purposely using the words hard, wet, slippery, slide, pump, pound, mount, kiss, lick, shoot, explode or turgid in totally “innocent” conversation.

10. See #9. 🙂

What are your faves?

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

Also published at elephant journal.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

Steve Horsmon is a Certified Professional Life and Relationship Coach and foundesteve horsmon photor of Good Guys 2 Great Men. With a long corporate career in leadership and organizational training and development, Steve is a lifelong student and “passionate pursuer” of the communication and personal development skills required for healthy and satisfying relationships. You can connect with him via Facebook too.

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 Twitter.

Timing is Everything.

DSCF3524If he’s a masculine man, then he is driven to make things happen—that is one way he wants to take care of you.

In the post before this one, I shared some info about how men and women think differently because of the way their brains work, about feminine and masculine energy and about why it is essential to give our gifts of feminine/masculine energy to each other.

In this post, I look at the timing of inviting your man back into love.

When to Interrupt Him

First of all, make good choices about when to interrupt him to extend the invitation back into love. Because yes, it is your job to do this for your man—but he does get to be a man.

I don’t like it when I’m in my masculine mode working on a project and making good progress and in the “zone” and someone interrupts me. I tend to be irritated by the interruption.

And we women can only marginally understand how it must be to a man, who not only has the driven, focused man thing going on but also is working with a man brain that has the luxury of being able to focus on one thing at a time.

When you interrupt him, he will be confused, upset, abrupt, irritated, etc. What he is doing is just removing his focus from what he had it on to focus on you. Men tell me it can be a real effort.

But know that he does need this invitation from you, ladies—at the appropriate time. He needs to be invited back into love, into emotions—back into his heart and belly.

So just expect him to be irritated or impatient with you for interrupting his thought process. But be brave. Give your man this gift anyway, even though it will seem to you like he doesn’t want it.

He needs it.

Just because he shows irritation or annoyance at your invitation, doesn’t mean you necessarily have to go along with him not being in his love room/box. Invite him into love.

The same way we ask men to be brave and withstand our emotions and just stand strong and firm for us even when we say we don’t want that? Well, be brave for your man and give him your feminine gift of bringing him back into his heart, back into intimacy with you—even when he shows irritation at you for doing so. Stand your ground—softly and powerfully—and just do it.

Respecting his Time/Work—to a Point

If you know, for example, that he is hard at work on a contract that needs to be completed by the end of the business day and then knowing how his brain works, why would you interrupt him (excepting for an actual emergency of some sort, of course)?

Let him be a man. Give him space to do his man thing. If he’s a masculine man, then he is driven to make things happen—that is one way he wants to take care of you.

Being successful, succeeding at his goals, making money and making things happen are ways he gives you his masculine gifts. He wants to do these things because it makes him feel good, makes him feel like man.

He also does these things to make you proud of him; he wants to make you happy. Let him make you happy. Be proud of him. Let him succeed. Let him do his man stuff and accept it for the gift that it is. Tell him how much you appreciate him.

Why is he Ignoring Me?

Ladies, according to Alison Armstrong, it is impossible for a man to ignore you. He is not ignoring you, so stop taking it personally. Just learn when and how to—kindly, softly—interrupt him and invite him to pay attention to you and to love.

The design of his brain makes it impossible for him to ignore you. He is thinking about and focused on something else, and when he does that, he does it to the exclusion of everything else.

He is just so focused on whatever it is that he is doing or thinking that no other information gets in. He has the luxury of being able to focus on one thing at a time.

So stop taking this personally and stop giving him so much crap about it. He doesn’t deserve it.

When my man doesn’t answer my text right now, I know he is busy. I trust he is taking care of things—no matter what those things may be. I trust him to take care of his business—whatever that is.

In fact, I seldom text or contact him during his workday. I know his mind is on his work.

And if I do contact him while he’s busy, I know he may be blunt, abrupt and/or short with me—because he’s a man and he’s busy. That doesn’t mean he is always abrupt with me when I interrupt him, because we’ve had this conversation.

It just means that I have given myself fair warning that that is the most possible response—at least until I get him into his Grace box, that is.

I love thinking about him doing his masculine thing; I know that is one way he is taking care of our relationship and me.

I am not offended. In fact, it is a turn on for me. I love that he is doing his man thing. I know that when he is able to give me his full attention, he will contact me. I trust him to know when he is able to do that for me.

And I love when I have his full attention. Think about it ladies, he can only focus on one thing at a time. So when he’s focused on you, you are all he is thinking about.

Workaholics

I have heard women complain about their men being married to their jobs or of being workaholics, etc. I think that these women do not realize that they could be playing a very different and important role to help keep this from happening—or to reverse this trend/habit.

I am not saying it is okay for men to behave this way, and to absolve themselves of the responsibility of paying attention to their relationship. And some men are so driven, and are even perhaps using their work to distract them from a dysfunctional, worn out relationship that they don’t want to address, that they don’t realize this has happened.

But believe me, the woman knows when this is happening.

These men could also be so driven that they do not realize there is any other way to be. These are the men who have let themselves become obsessed and rigid because they have been too immersed in masculine energy, not allowing their women to gift them with the feminine.

And while I am also not saying a woman should be held responsible for her man’s behavior (nor should she be manipulating him), a skillful, confident (brave!), woman, educated in the fine art of inviting a man back into love, who is deeply expressing her feminine essence, can be a good remedy for this type of problem.

When not to Interrupt Him

There is one time, however, when it is probably not a good time to interrupt him—when he is in his “nothing box,” as Mark Gungor calls it. Men go to their nothing box/room for various reasons. According to Mark, men retreat to their nothing box when they are stressed and need to unwind and need to just “be.”

This is often, when you are arguing, why he will want to end the conversation as soon as possible. He needs to go to his nothing box to process. He is not dissing you; he is not ignoring you. He is not necessarily trying to run from you or the problem; he is just handling stress the way a man handles stress.

Men, this doesn’t give you permission; however, to run from your woman and the emotions she is gifting you with just to avoid her and the conflict she is bringing you.

Storing Testosterone

John Gray, the author of Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus, explains that for men who work hard—and especially for those who exercise daily, and are using big muscle groups, their down time (nothing box time) is important for building and storing testosterone.

Testosterone is built and stored during sleep too, but according to him, more testosterone is produced and stored during a man’s down time than during sleep.

So when your man has been working hard and is taking time and is sitting in front of the TV, flipping through channels and appears to be doing nothing, he is producing and storing testosterone—and to interrupt him is actually a subtle form of emasculation, according to Alison Armstrong.

When he’s done, when he’s full up on testosterone, he will emerge from the nothing box and be ready to go. When he emerges from the nothing box is the best time to ask him to help you, because he is full of testosterone and ready to expend energy.

Or Not

When I took this theory to Steve Horsmon, who is a relationship coach, he initially disagreed—until we clarified about whom we were talking. He clarified that this theory does not apply to those men who are lazy and use sitting in front of the TV as an excuse to not do what they need to be doing. Those men, he said, need a kick in the ass and need to be held accountable.

He is talking about the man who sits on the couch in a pile of potato chip crumbs and powder sugar fall-out way too long and too often and does not follow through with his commitments.

Look for the next post where we get into the fine art (techniques) of inviting your man back into love.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

Not for Women Only: How to Avoid the Complaint Meltdown.

1stphone1We cannot wound out of anger and on purpose to hurt someone and expect him or her to tolerate such behavior.

“When a woman gets emotionally intense, a mediocre man wants to calm her down and discuss it, or leave and come back when she is “sane.” A superior man penetrates her mood with imperturbable love and unwavering consciousness. If she still refuses to live more fully in love, after a time, he lets her go.”
~David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

This is following on the blog heels of Not for Men Only: The Anatomy of a Woman’s Complaint. In that blog, I suggest how a woman’s complaint can be navigated successfully and even used by men as the gift and tool that it is.

Gentlemen, use a woman’s complaint as a barometer to how you are living your highest purpose—or not living it. See her complaint as holding a deeper meaning for you.

“A man should hear his woman’s complaints like warning bells, and then do his best to align his life with his truth and purpose. Her complaint should be valued as a reminder to “get it together,” and perhaps as an indication of how. But more often than not, the specifics of her complaint do not describe the real, underlying action or tendency that needs to be changed.” ~David Deida

Are you promising things you can’t deliver? Even small, seemingly insignificant breaches of integrity are important and will inform women about how you are, or are not, living your highest purpose.

She can feel when you are not in your integrity. If you are not impeccable with your word, she begins to feel she can’t trust you. When she feels she can’t trust you, she doesn’t feel safe.

When she doesn’t feel safe, she will be in pain and confusion. When she is in pain and confusion, she will express that as sadness, fear, depression, anger, withdrawal, etc. When she is in that state, she will most often bring it you in the form of anger.

Another very common woman reaction to lack of integrity in her man will be her need to feel like she has to man-up. She will become hard and masculine, building a wall of masculinity between you two, because she feels—even if on a subconscious level—that you are not strong in your masculinity and are not leading.

She will feel like you are not to be trusted, so she has to be masculine to meet her own safety requirements. If you are not leading—in life and in your relationship, she will take on that role—much to the detriment of your life, relationship and attraction to her.

Most women rate safety/security/certainty very high on Tony Robbins’ list of The 6 Human Needs. If we feel that you are not safe because we can’t trust you, we may not know that’s why we feel so “off,” but we will feel that “off-ness”—probably even more than you feel it.

How to help a woman feel safe with you in general but especially when she is in the middle of being emotionally intense/wild?

“…you do so by standing your ground and loving so strongly that only love prevails. You can’t quit when you seem to fail, but rather, you must learn from your failures and return to love. Give your gift. Like wrestling a steer or surfing the ocean waves, mastery involves blending with your woman’s powerful energy and feeling the rise and fall of the moment, without lapsing in presence for a second.

You’re going to get stamped on by the steer, you’re going to get swamped by the ocean, and you’re going to get hurt by your woman. This is how you learn. You get up, dust yourself off, swim to shore, and turn and face your woman again. The only options are fear or mastery. You can quit, you can choose small steer and tiny waves, you can wait for your woman to calm down, or you can even threaten her. Or, you can take the moment as a challenge to your ability to conquer the world, and your woman, with love.”
~David Deida

For the Ladies

Remember that men are hard-wired to make us happy and to fix things. When you take a complaint/pain to him, he is going to want to fix it. He is going to want to fix you, in fact. Either that or he may want to retreat—because that is what some men do when they are stressed. He may want you to be rational and calm—like a man.

If he doesn’t retreat, because he loves and values you, he will bring to you, as Mark Gungor says, his very best man solutions: 1. Fix it/you, 2. Tell you not to think about it, “Just don’t think about it. Put it out of your mind.” Because men can actually do that. And it’s their go-to when they’re stressed.

Women, however, because of how our brains work (very unlike men’s), are unable to do that. We are always making connections and always thinking millions of things all at the same time, as well as always feeling and attaching emotions to everything we’re thinking.

Because we connect everything to everything else—in our brains and in our lives and to emotions—it is pretty much impossible for a problem in one area of our lives to not affect every other part of our lives.

If we are upset about one (even seemingly small) thing in our lives, it will affect everything we do and think and live and say. It just does. That’s the physiology of the female brain.

So don’t let anyone (including yourself!) shame you into thinking that you should be able to just turn that shit off liking flipping a switch—because chances are, you can’t.

And don’t let anyone tell you that emotions are wrong. Emotions can’t be wrong—or right. They just exist.

Emotions define us as feminine. The Divine Feminine aspect is about wildness, emotions, senses, the physical body, power that is both soft and fierce flowing from us in the form of emotions and love.

It is this wildness, the emotions and that softness coupled with power that make us feminine.

“A happy woman is a woman relaxed in her body and heart: powerful, unpredictable, deep, potentially wild and destructive, or calm and serene, but always full of life, surrendered to and moved by the great force of her oceanic heart.”
~David Deida

And it is a gift to men when we bring them these emotions. Without us, men would stay in their heads and seldom move down into their hearts and/or bellies. They would become rigid and obsessed. And our pain/complaints/emotions can inform them about whether they are living their integrity or not.

Having said all of that toward clarity, it is also important to say that this doesn’t give anyone the right to purposely shame, degrade or hurt anyone else under the guise of expressing their emotions.

There may be people—both men and women—whose motives are questionable, who don’t care about fighting fairly, about not damaging others with their words and anger.

Don’t be that person.

I know that feminine emotions feel drastic, immediate and all consuming. And if we don’t talk about them, we feel like we’re going to explode. The longer we hold them in, the worse they get, the angrier we get, the sadder, the more depressed, etc.

But that doesn’t give anyone license to carelessly cut into someone with anger, to purposely wound. We are still responsible for ourselves, our words, the way we express our needs, our pain, our emotions.

Do you want to be around someone who constantly uses their anger destructively and purposely against you, shaming you, dominating you, trying to make you wrong and make you feel bad—someone who always has to “win” at your expense?

No, and no one else does either. Even in our femininity of owning and being proud rather than ashamed of our emotions, we must remember that misuse of power is never okay.

We cannot wound out of anger and on purpose to hurt someone and expect him or her to tolerate such behavior. And you should not tolerate it from anyone else, either.

“With great power, comes great responsibility.” ~Voltaire

And the energy of the feminine essence is absolutely powerful. Just ask any man how it feels to be facing an angry, upset, crying, powerfully emoting woman.

Unpack the Complaint First

Think about what Alison Armstrong says about complaints: A complaint equals an unmet need and is a cowardly way to express that need.

So how about taking some time to have a look at what is underneath the complaint/fear/pain before taking it to him? How about being brave?

And how about remembering that he loves you and that he is hard-wired to make you happy? And remember something else Alison says: What if no one is misbehaving? What if there’s a good reason for everything everyone does?

What if the man you love is just trying to help you, albeit in the only way he knows how—in a masculine way?

Sure there are those that want to wound on purpose, out of defensiveness, fear, habit, passive aggressiveness, past wounds, etc. But think about assuming positive intent first.

This is a practice/habit that could change your entire life.

So consider taking some time to unpack your anger/pain first. Ask yourself, “What’s the unmet need underneath that, what’s supporting it?” Is it fear? Did an old button from childhood or a former relationship get pushed?

Living Vulnerably

Is it vulnerability, itself, that confuses and scares you? It scares me!

In our world, it seems that anger and blame are more socially acceptable forms of emotional expression than fear, pain, sadness, or any admission of any kind of vulnerability. In her research, Brene Brown found that most people defined “blame” as “a way to discharge anger.”

And anger often seems to be a defense, a cover-up—usually in response to a more vulnerable/scary feeling that needs to be ignored or denied for fear of that vulnerability being seen as a weakness, because we tend to view the admission/allowance of vulnerability as a weakness and not as the pure courage that it really is.

Being vulnerable leaves us open to pain, to getting hurt, because not only do we see an admission of vulnerability as a weakness, there is also, unfortunately, the commonly acceptable response to the recognition of vulnerability: Attack.

Hit them where it hurts (verbally or otherwise) and where they’re vulnerable in order to “win” and prove that we are stronger, smarter and better than they are. It is sad but often true.

When faced with the admission and recognition of vulnerability—yours or anyone else’s—respect it for the pure bravery it really is and have the courage to address it as such, to speak to and from that place—with respect, being honored to be in that sacred, private place.

Please know that not everyone will appreciate your vulnerability. It will freak some folks out. Vulnerability and authenticity are a choice you make. I highly recommend them, but I cannot say they are easy.

Quite bluntly, they scare the hell out of me. But you can’t unknow something, right? Having crossed that boundary into a more vulnerable, authentic way of living, I just can’t live with myself anymore if I am less than that. So I keep forging ahead, hoping it will get easier as I practice it more.

And while I can’t say it’s easy, the benefits and the amazing people and events that are showing up in my life because of it, make my efforts absolutely worth it.

So instead of instantly blasting your man with blind anger, sit with it for some time and dig for the need under your complaint.

After some introspection and a look at Tony Robbins’ The 6 Human Needs, perhaps, maybe you find that what you need to present to him instead is a heartfelt, vulnerable admission that you have a strong need to feel safe and that you want to work with him to help make that happen.

Using the same scenario as the previous post, for instance, respectfully tell him that when he doesn’t follow through with what he says he is going to do, you begin to feel you can’t trust him—talk about the pain and fear it brings up in you—and when you begin to feel that you can’t trust him, you feel unsafe—in the world and in the relationship.

And then you might talk about how frightened you feel and how you want to feel safe and how most of the time you do feel safe with him, and how much you love the way he makes you feel safe most of the time. Tell him how he is your hero for being such a safe harbor for you.

And is there anything he needs from you to be able to follow through? Maybe he needs you to remind him nicely in a day or two, because he is a man who is focused and driven, and he is always out there in the world making things happen—things that support you and the relationship—because he loves you.

And is there a block, maybe, that he’s working with, so that he is unable (because of his own baggage and buttons, etc.) to follow through?

Most of all, think of how brave he is—being in the presence of such a powerful, emoting woman as you are—without shutting down and/or running.

Thank him for this. Let him know that he is your hero.

When we admit to and come from that place of authentic vulnerability in ourselves, it invites and gives permission to others to do the same.

Staying in Vulnerability

What if he gets defensive or angry anyway?

Stay in your heart and belly—breathe evenly and slowly and deliberately from low in your belly. Take your time. Do not raise your voice.

On some level (and because women’s brains are made the way they are, this is something totally possible) keep encouraging yourself to stay calm while at the same time letting your emotions/pain fuel your voice. Choose your words carefully.

Be honest with yourself in your word and tone choices: Are you choosing them to wound? Are you choosing them out of habit? Do you need to find a clearer, cleaner, less passive-aggressive way to speak?

Stay strong in the conviction that you have a right to your emotions and that you have a right to express them—responsibly, kindly.

Stay in the vulnerability, the truth of you. Stay strong and soft—and lean into the discomfort of how difficult the process is. Just continue to speak with intensity, love and authenticity, knowing you will be proud, later, to look back and know you spoke your truth with soft, intense force.

Make yourself control your voice and your emotions, but let the intensity and power from deep within you be very evident (it gets easier with practice). Keep imagining the center of your chest open and relaxed.

(Let me just say right here how difficult and even embarrassing this can seem. But stay in your integrity! If you want to live vulnerably and authentically and with integrity, just do it. Stop waiting for someone to give you permission! You give you permission. Don’t let anyone pull you out of it or talk you out of it. You can do it! It takes courage and practice. And remember, when you feel like you’re failing at it—and you probably really aren’t: Dignity is a choice.)

Put the intensity of all that vulnerable discomfort and possible anger and pain and emotions behind the soft firmness of your voice. You may even be weeping at this point, because of the intensity and emotions that are behind your words, powering them.

That’s okay. All of that force, that power, has to escape somehow. Speak it and let it leak from you eyes if need be. Be proud that you are able to be so open and honest and authentic and vulnerable.

This is feminine power. This is the soft-powerful energy of femininity that will make you proud, later, when you see how you harnessed it and directed it after you let it take you to new places of authenticity and vulnerability within yourself so that you could reveal those places to him.

Do not allow yourself to be pulled out of your softness, that vulnerable heart-place you’re in. Do not match his defensiveness or display of anger.

Don’t become hard, masculine, dominant or aggressive. Do not attempt to dominate him or subdue him—that is masculine energy and he will most likely polarize into passive, feminine energy.

Either that, or he will become even more masculine—which may lead to some form of posturing and/or aggression in the form, usually, of anger or more defensiveness.

Tell him kindly, respectfully that it is not your intention to cause defensiveness in him, but only to bring to him your truth, your pain and your open heart in hopes of finding a vulnerable, authentic place where the two of you can meet.

Keep the intensity.

In this way, you will be able to stay powerfully in your feminine energy, inviting him to polarize and stay in his masculine energy. In this way, you will not be hard and masculine and unreachable in your pain/anger. You will still be open, even in and during, the pain and discomfort.

It just might give you both, together, a place from which to dive into a whole new ocean of understanding, depth and intimacy.

Let me know how it goes. And when you have mastered this, get in touch and clue me in, will ya? Because I will want to know how you did it so that I can too!

Yeah, I’m Not Your Girl for That.

DeathtoStock3Resentment has nothing to do with the other person or situation.

It has everything to do with me and how I am not taking care of myself, how I am asking/allowing/training others to treat me, how I am not respecting myself.

But it usually takes me a while to remember this. So, I grouse around, resentment brewing in me, being a jerk, treating others unkindly (or secretly trying not to) in my blindly self-imposed, co-dependent fog, until I remember from whom the resentment originates.

Me.

I can be a people-pleaser if I am not careful—to my own detriment. I can get myself into situations where I am going full-tilt for too long, trying too hard to please too many different people, not remembering that I’m an introvert, not mindful that my internal self-care meter is dipping dangerously low into the red, depleted, zone.

I have been so over-giving, over-caring, over-eager, over-“perfect,” (over-over-over it!) that I have made myself physically sick with exhaustion.

I find myself very logically, very (what I can justify as) practically, thinking things like,

“Sure, I can take on one more responsibility. I can do one more thing for you. I can go out one more night in a row. I can contort myself, my brain and my life to figure out how to make this work for absolutely everyone, how I can keep everyone (but me?) happy. I can stay up late again working to get another order finished (the weekend isn’t that far off; I can sleep then).

“I can put off taking care of myself one more day, one more week. If I can just make it to X, I will be able to rest then, able to slow down, able to recharge. I can make it. I’m strong. I can tough it out.”

Because I want to be nice. I don’t want to disappoint. I don’t want to let anyone down. I want to be Super Woman. I want to get everything done—leave no loose ends. I want to be that person who is nice and generous and kind and lovely and gentle and strong and capable and independent and insert more superlatives here—all the time—without fail.

And look good while I’m doing it, too, damn it!

At first, shallow, please-love-me, let-me-impress-you, look-at-my-military-corners glance, I quite self-deceptively think I am somehow helping my relationships and myself by doing this overextending thing.

Then I find myself treating them and myself unkindly, resenting them. I’m short with them, quick to anger, quick to treat them disrespectfully and dismissively—like they have somehow caused the problem and deserve to be treated thus.

I feel put upon and overwhelmed. Can’t they get their needs met elsewhere? Why are they expecting me to be everything to them? Can’t they read my mind and know that I’m tired? Why are they asking so much of me?

Because I’ve trained them to—duh.

And of course they have no idea this is happening—how would they? I’m Super Woman. Super Woman doesn’t get resentful. She doesn’t ignore her own boundaries and self-care. Super Woman has got it goin’ on—all the time. She does it all—in a single bound, no less.

My question to myself should be, though:  Why am I allowing myself to do more than I am reasonably and self-respectfully able to do? Why am I allowing society, the harsh judge in my head that sounds a lot like my father, old habits, my fears of inadequacy, etc. to dictate my life and schedule to me?

Who’s really in charge here? And why am I blaming the person/situation I’m resenting, for fuck’s sake?! They aren’t expecting too much from me. They may not be expecting anything from me.

But I am.

I have somehow set myself up to be superior to, and co-dependent with, them in some way—their savior or babysitter or main source of support/entertainment/etc.

I begin thinking they have put me on a pedestal or something, so this must be their fault—when really it is me that has put me there on their behalf and in my arrogant (needy much?) imagination.

As the fog begins to clear, I realize that they have done none of this. They are just doing what I have trained them to do. They don’t necessarily know I’m suffering. Do I need to be needed so badly, then? Because it can be nothing but arrogance and/or fear, in my opinion, that gets me to that point.

It is so arrogant and disrespectful of me to assume that person can’t cope without me. It is arrogance that assumes they are depending on me too much and can’t take care of themselves. It is with arrogance that I pull away from them, assuming they will be too disappointed to bear it, and I will somehow seem like the bad guy who let them down.

They will be angry at me. They will cling to me. They will be disappointed in me. They will ask too much of me and be desperate. I will fall from my arrogant, exalted position with them.

And they will see that I am human and fallible—weak, even. When Brene Brown asked women what they feared most, women said they feared being judged as not good enough—not able to keep all the balls in the air at once.

The answer from men:  To be perceived as weak or lacking in any way.

Because the only thing worse than someone getting a peek behind my wizard’s curtain and seeing that I’m not able to be everything for everyone, all the time, that I don’t always have it figured out, that I’m not always so calm and “Super?”

The only thing worse than that is them seeing, at the same time, how ashamed I am at allowing myself to be so “weak.”

If they see that, they will know I really am not Super Woman. I have flaws. They might feel sorry for me. They might assume I am inept and incapable. Those flaws could be so bad that if anyone knew about them they could never really love me. They might just decide I am too flawed to be worth their time and effort.

So when I begin treating those around me resentfully, testily and without generosity and kindness, I need to remember that I am the problem here—not them. They may not have done anything to be treated so disrespectfully. And they may—but that still doesn’t justify my bad behavior toward, or even my bad thoughts of, them.

In my case, it is a simple fix. I just have to remember to do it—even when it means telling someone no. I have to take care of myself first, or I will be unable to take care of those I love. And taking care of me usually simply looks like staying home, being alone and relaxing for a day. It’s not complicated.

I know I don’t require a week’s vacation to recharge—when I remember to recharge regularly, when I don’t allow it to get to the stage where I do require a week on the beach somewhere out-of-country.

The thing that finally bursts this bubble of fear and/or arrogance around me is when I withdraw to recharge and no one notices—or if they do, they don’t care, or they don’t mind. In other words, their “dependence” on me was just one more car on the Grace Crazy Train.

And it involves trust. I need to trust that they will understand my need to recharge. I need to trust that they will not think poorly of me if I reveal my flaws and humanness to them. Trust them not to assume I am so flawed that I can’t be trusted to know when to retreat for my own good.

But you know what? Even if they do notice, even if they are upset that I am no longer available for them in such an overextended, please-need-me-that-much, notice-how-perfect-I-am way, it never serves any healthy good for anyone involved that I would put myself and them into that dysfunctional position in the first place.

Why would I want to foster and reinforce resentment in me toward those I love simply because I can’t say no? If I truly love them (and myself), I would want to keep our relationship clean and healthy—free from my Crazy Train crap.

First published at elephant journal.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

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.