Tag Archives: love

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.

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.

after the funeral

a wilder grace

In response to my last, I want to be kind, my alter-ego writes:

I do NOT want to be kind
fuck kind
kind can yudu na hooey
I want to be inconsolable
irrational
throw some expensive stuff
make some noise
stomp some toes
split some wigs
yell obscenities

I want to laugh nervously
and loudly
like the villain-ess
in the movies
and then catch your
discomfort and fear in my hand
as it comes flying off you
take a bite and then
smear it back in your face
while I laugh again

no apologies
not even in my head
no whatifIgetintroubleforthis
allowed

I want to rip the bandaid
off your dirty
stinking
festering
complacency
and lick it
before flinging it at
some innocent
surprised
horrified
passer-by

I want to snarl
with feral eyes
and snap my teeth
bite
the hand that tries
to feed me
tame me
I won’t…

View original post 352 more words

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.

How Men and Women Do Relationships Differently.

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Women’s brains connect everything to everything—and we can’t help but throw emotions into the mix at all times too.

In her book, What Women want Men to Know, Barbara DeAngelis, Ph.D. talks about an analogy that she uses to educate couples about how men and women function in relationships.

She pretty much sums up the difference between men’s and women’s brains and how they function, although that is not specifically how she presents it.

“Imagine a man’s consciousness and a woman’s consciousness are like houses, with different rooms for the different areas our mind focuses on in our life—a “work” room; a “body” room; a “recreation” room; etc. For most women, every room in the house of her consciousness is also a Love Room, even when it is dedicated to other functions. It’s as if all the space in the house of her consciousness is used for love. It’s a Love House!

“For men, however, there is only one Love Room in the house of their mind. Therefore, if the man wants to put his focus on love and the relationship, he consciously has to leave the other rooms and go to the Love Room.”
~Barbara DeAngelis

She says women put love first—not by choice; it just happens. Even though she doesn’t say it directly, she is referring to the way a woman’s brain functions vs. the way a man’s brain functions.

Mark Gungor goes further, explaining the differences between the physiology of men’s and women’s brains. He explains that women, if we borrow Barbara’s analogy, wouldn’t even have rooms in their mind house. It would be one big open floor plan of a house, where the entire thing is permeated by love and emotions.

Women’s brains connect everything to everything—and we can’t help but throw emotions into the mix at all times too—explaining why we women can remember everything (it’s the emotional charge on a memory that makes that memory stand out among others).

This is also why when one thing in our life isn’t going well or is bothering us, our whole world is affected by it. We cannot keep it separate from everything else in our lives.

While men, on the other proverbial hand, have brains that separate everything into boxes/rooms. And, he points out with much humor, none of the boxes are allowed to touch each other—meaning a man has the luxury of being able to concentrate on only one thing at a time.

Barbara goes on to explain the challenges this can present between men and women when she talks about women (who are essentially always in their love room) lovingly and romantically approaching their man, only to find that he is not, at that moment, in his love room.

He can react, therefore, to the woman’s approach, with confusion, irritation, anger, by seeming to pull away, etc.

This is usually when the woman will get hurt. We feel him not acknowledging, and pulling away from, our attempt at love/romance. We feel and see his reaction to our extension of love, and we take it personally.

In a reactive state to his pulling away, we pull away from our man, which he, in turn, does not understand, because in his own way of thinking, he didn’t consciously pull away from us. In this way, a barrier has been created between us and our man.

A very common, vicious cycle gets put into motion that neither really understands and that we usually don’t even know how to begin to talk about to gain clarity, because most folks, unfortunately, don’t know the differences in men’s and women’s brains and how they function.

Barbara coaches couples, at that point, to realize that the man is not in his love room, to acknowledge it out loud, and move on.

And while I can agree with her analysis and explanation, I think there’s more to be done with this knowledge other than just waiting until he gets into his love room.

In fact, I think it is our job, as women, functioning from a feminine perspective, to lovingly lead him—and at the appropriate time—a` la David Deida, into his love box/room.

First of all, ladies, do not take your man’s reaction personally. And even as I say that, if you are in your feminine energy at that time, I know you probably will—because you are a woman and any time your man pulls away or seems distant, you will react with pain and be hurt. That is just what the feminine does.

” A man’s safety is in production. A woman’s safety is in connection.”
~Alison Armstrong

Feminine energy is about love and connection. When we feel our man’s attention shift away from us—when he suddenly leaves his love box/room and enters another one, we feel it. It may hurt.

“If you’re with a woman and you suddenly turn away and begin to work, she feels it in her body. She feels your attention moving away from her. She feels hurt.”
~ David Deida

This is just the dynamics of the feminine/masculine interplay. So as I say “don’t take it personally,” what I really mean is educate yourself as to what may happen when you approach him with love and he is not in his love box/room and know that you may feel hurt when he turns away from you or seems to “ignore” you.

The remedy? Education. Educate your man as to what is going on in this type of exchange. And then educate yourself.

Know the way a man’s brain works, be ready with that knowledge and also be armed with what to say and do to avoid the, above, vicious cycle.

Does this mean you will never take it personally and it will never hurt? No. Sometimes I feel I fail miserably at this—mostly because of it’s newness to me. I usually don’t feel brave enough to do this as fully and confidently as I would like. But I keep trying and hope to one day master it.

He is not necessarily pushing you, your love and romance away from him. He is, rather, so focused on whatever box/room he is in at that time in his mind (remember, men’s brains focus on one thing at a time), that when you touch him or talk to him, he has to come from far away to find you.

He has to close that box in his mind in which he is currently. He has to make himself look at you and then listen to you and probably needs your comment/question repeated, because he was closing the former box while you were speaking.

Then he has to find the box you are trying to get him in and open it and get in that box in his mind.

All of that takes time. All of that takes his focus. And you can imagine how distracting and annoying that would be to him—especially when he’s working and in focused, driven, production mode (which is so very important to the masculine).

It’s no wonder he’s annoyed and angry when we interrupt him.

Some Differences between Masculine and Feminine Energy

What Mark and Barbara don’t talk about is what David Deida and Rachel Jayne Groover do talk about. They write about masculine and feminine gifts that we give each other—both consciously and not.

Masculine energy is focused and driven; it can be restless even, because it wants to be doing something, making things happen, driving toward a goal. Masculine energy is mostly in the head and unemotional; it is mostly predictable and straightforward.

Feminine energy is soft and emotional, allowing, flowing and flexible—full of the senses and the body. It is unpredictable, wild and anything but straightforward. Feminine energy is about creating, maintaining and improving connections and relationships.

Everyone has both energies inside him or her. And the gender of the physical body really does not dictate which energy is dominant in that body. Some folks walk around in a feminine body and operate most of the time from their masculine energy and vice versa. Some readily switch back and forth throughout the day and their lives, depending.

Each needs the other. Just like the yin-yang relationship, one cannot exist without the other. Neither is better or worse than the other. They just both exist.

The feminine needs the groundedness and stability of the masculine, and the masculine needs the flow, emotions and flexibility of the feminine.

The most important thing to remember about them is this: They will always polarize each other. Wherever you are on the spectrum from masculine to feminine, you will always attract the polar opposite.

There are reasons the Masculine and Feminine are constantly balancing, gifting and polarizing each other. Like the poles on a magnet, like repels like and opposite poles attract.

So we could effectively drop gender at this point and just begin talking about masculine and feminine energy, because no matter the body, the rules apply to the energy.

Giving the Gift of Feminine Energy

The exchange of gifts of energy happens automatically on a subconscious level, but it is also important to realize the importance of a conscious, chosen exchange.

Without feminine energy to occasionally extend the invitation back into love, bring him back down into his heart and belly, masculine energy will take over and become obsessive and too focused and driven.

He will become stiff, automated and will always be operating from a mind/head/thoughts perspective.

Without masculine energy to occasionally extend the invitation back to Earth, and bring her back up into her head, feminine energy will take over and become too “out there” and flaky, and she will be too unfocused and be unable to complete tasks and get the business of life completed.

She will become too wishy-washy, unable to make decisions and have difficulty in this very masculine-based world.

Look for the next post where we will explore some tried and true, specific methods for inviting him back into love with your femininity, as well as other details.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.

Also published at elephant journal.

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!

Not for Men Only: The Anatomy of a Woman’s Complaint.

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Please. Give us this, your gift of masculinity. We so sorely need it.

“The bags under your woman’s eyes and the lines in her face may reveal much about how clearly you are living your highest purpose. Try to do your best to determine which of her “problems” are actually exquisitely sensitive bodily feedback to the way you are living your life. You know the amount of bullshit you are kidding yourself with. So does she. It just hurts her more than it does you.”
~David Deida

Gentlemen, we women can feel it when you are not living your highest purpose and fulfilling your highest good by staying in your integrity. We know these things, can feel them. And when you are not living your highest purpose, not following through and doing what you told us you were going to do, we begin to not trust you.

We start to not trust you because we can see and feel that you do not keep your word, that you don’t do what you say you will do. Even when it’s a seemingly small thing, we see it as a very tell tale sign about your integrity and your masculinity. Even when it doesn’t directly involve us, we are affected by your lack of integrity.

“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.”
~David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man

We always want the masculine energy to be dominant in you, regardless of our mood or our complaint. We don’t see you as less masculine because you are not cleaning out the car like you promised you would, so much as we see you as less masculine and trustworthy because we feel unsupported and unsafe with a man who does not remain impeccable with his word.

If we see and feel that we can’t trust you with your own life—to do what you tell us you will do—then we certainly can’t trust you with our life and the relationship. It is too scary. We need you to be trustworthy. We need you to be impeccable with your word.

And being impeccable with your word doesn’t mean that you never, ever get to veer from what you said you would do. And it doesn’t mean that you never get to change your mind about something. And it doesn’t mean you have to be rigid and hard and unmoving and unable to be vulnerable.

It means, rather, that you do what you say you are going to do, and you do it in a timely manner. If for some reason you can’t fulfill that promise, goal or end result, we need you to tell us that—with a brief, firm, confident explanation.

When asked if that would work for her, a girlfriend said, “Only if he doesn’t do that all the time. If that is his pattern, if he doesn’t do what he says he will do, doesn’t take care of the difficult decisions in his life, and then expects to always be able to explain that away, and I’m supposed to be okay with that, then no, that won’t work.”

The thing we are complaining about is very seldom what we are really complaining about.

It goes like this.

We begin to feel restless and angry toward you and about something that you said you would do but have not yet done. Sometimes we can’t even pinpoint the problem ourselves. So then we bring this restlessness and anger to you in a complaint, query or accusation.

That is the way women process and figure out what we’re feeling. We don’t know how we feel, what we want, until we talk out loud about it and figure that out. That’s just how our brains work.

Keep in mind that often we do not consciously know what the issue really is. We think we do. We think it’s that thing you promised us you would do several weeks/months ago but haven’t done yet. We really think it’s about you not cleaning the car like you said.

We feel uneasy and scared and this often comes out as anger and/or sadness—a feeling of being let down or disappointed.

We usually feel weird about and hesitant to bring it up, too, because we may not be clear on what the problem actually is. We don’t want to potentially rock the relationship boat about something we’re not clear about, but at the same time, because our brains function as they do (everything’s connected to everything—unlike men’s brains), we are unable to keep this problem/worry/issue from affecting everything in our lives.

If we are aware and start digging, we will unearth the feelings of lack of safety and security, but most of the time, we simply know something is wrong—something doesn’t feel good. If just feels “off.”

Steve Horsmon is spot on when he writes about how we women can sense our man’s intentions. In our complaint/confrontation, we will tell you what we think we’re upset about based on those intentions we feel from you. We will probably name some things about which we are upset/angry/sad/etc.

And when a woman brings you a complaint like this it will be because she is in pain—physically as well as emotionally. Women feel emotional pain as physical pain. When our feelings are hurt, we hurt physically too—our bodies hurt.

We will bring you this pain and it seems to you like we are asking you to fix it, because that’s what men do. Men fix things—and thank God for that—except in this situation. It will feel like we want you to answer us, to fix us, to fix the problem. But in that specific moment, we do not want you to fix anything—even if we say we do.

We want you to listen to us. We want you to stand firm and strong and let us pour our pain out to you. It’s the only way we know to get the pain out, to make the pain stop—and the only way we know how to process and get to the meat of why we are actually upset.

Please don’t argue with us. Please don’t ask us to stop talking, crying or thinking about it. If we did that, we’d be acting like a man—and you wouldn’t be attracted to us. To remain in our own integrity, our femininity, we have to bring these emotions to you.

It feels drastic, immediate and all consuming. If we don’t talk about it, we feel like we’re going to explode. The longer we hold it in, trying not to talk/think about it, the worse it gets, the angrier we get, the sadder, the more depressed, etc.

Just listen to us, please. Hold us—yes, even when we’re angry and even when we’re angry at you. Tell us it’s going to be okay. Reassure us.

Don’t take it personally—yet.

Don’t waver. Be the strong, unmoving cliff against which we can throw these wild, scary (even to us) waves of emotions. Be still and firm and calm. We know it’s confusing to you; it’s confusing to us too in that moment. We need you to be our rock in that moment, the groundedness in the wildness of our emotions—even when we are directly accusing you of something.

Please. Give us this, your gift of masculinity. We so sorely need it right then.

And the ROI for you standing strong for us and just hearing us without arguing or trying to fix us?

We will be our happy selves again; we will be the confident, laughing, woman you know and love; we will want to have sex more often; want to connect with you more; be able to appreciate you more; be better able to give you space when you need/want it; be able to do our lives and the relationship more effectively and efficiently; etc.

We will feel supported, loved, cared for, listened to, heard—the list of good things just goes on and on—simply because you listened, didn’t get defensive, didn’t argue, just stood firm for us. It makes us feel like we can go out and conquer the world when you do this for us, when we know you have our back.

“It is a mistake to believe the content of what she is saying, and then respond to her complaints, point by point.” ~David Deida

Please don’t try and argue with us or try to shame us for our emotions, our wildness. It is this wildness that makes us feminine. The Feminine is wildness, emotions, senses, the physical body, power flowing from us in the form of emotions.

Don’t take apart our complaint and try and fix it and us. Don’t try and address each complaint point by point. Just listen.

Because we are not really complaining about what we’re complaining about. We are feeling like we can’t trust you because you haven’t done what you said you would do.

And from that distrust comes the feeling that we are not safe.

Most women will 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—if you even feel it.

After you reassure us, after we have wound down into calm, after this “crisis” is over (and that is exactly how it feels to us—yes, that urgent)—then is the time to take our complaint personally.

“Don’t argue with her about… (what you didn’t do). That’s not what she’s talking about, even though that’s what she’s talking about. Hear her complaint as the universe giving you signs about your life.

Did you purposely lie to your woman about (this)? Or did you just let it slide, like you do with so many commitments you make in your life? Can you really blame your woman for being hurt by the lack of integrity that shows in your life?” ~David Deida

And by “personally,” I mean it is time to see if the complaint is true. Are you telling us you’ll do stuff that you have no intention of doing just to shut us up in that moment and to avoid a confrontation and accountability, because you are confused or scared by our emotions? Or do you mean to do those things but then let them slide?

I’m not saying the woman will be correct every time about your integrity. Rather, see/hear her complaint as the tool it can be—use it as a barometer, use it to check your integrity. This is just one of the feminine gifts available to you if you will see it as the gift it truly is.

Don’t ask your woman not to be emotional, not to bring you her pain. Instead, stand firm, be her rock, reassure her that you got this—and then take a look at yourself, see it as the gift and warning that it is—and receive it in that manner, being thankful that you can use it to your advantage instead of making her feel bad about being a woman with feelings.

Remember, if she brings you her pain (in the form of sadness, anger, depression, etc.), it is a gift to 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

Ladies, stay tuned for the next post on how to avoid the complaint meltdown in the first place, so that your man doesn’t have to try and figure out what it is that you are needing, because according to Alison Armstrong, a complaint is just a cowardly way to avoid asking for what we need…

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo

Also published at elephant journal.

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.

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.