Tag Archives: trust

What is the One Thing that Will Make all Your Relationships Last?

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“Be kind. No matter what happens, you will always be proud/glad you took the high road.” ~Steve Horsmon

Yes, even when you don’t want to be kind—even when you are blind with anger—actually especially then—because, usually, that anger is coming from some other, deeper emotion/feeling/cause.

For me, anger usually presents itself first and right up front, masquerading as a sense of injustice, so I feel that I must defend myself against the “attacker.” But I am finally learning to hold my tongue and unpack the anger before letting that first quick burst of anger flow out of me in words.

When I do this, I find that my anger nearly always comes from feeling like a failure. And upon inspection and conversation with the “attacker,” it has never been their goal to express that I am a failure.

So I have been forcing myself to get into the practice of saying kind things and doing kind things. Then the difficult part for me is to have the self-discipline to actually do that, to walk that talk—even when I don’t want to and even in difficult conversations/confrontations.

And it is especially difficult to do when I don’t want to—when I get triggered into anger and want to allow myself the “luxury” of not having to do any mental and emotional digging in myself before speaking.

It does indeed satisfy some selfish, childish, impulsive need I have here deep inside me when I simply let anger instantly burst out, unfiltered. But later, I regret it so profoundly, that I have learned that this first, instant gratification of having “spoken my mind” is so not worth that rash impulse.

It requires self-discipline. It requires me actually, physically putting my hand over my mouth sometimes. It is choosing to control my impulses—to say nothing or say only kind things. It is not easy—not for me anyway.

I came into my present relationship as a much older and hopefully kinder person, determined to not make the same mistakes as my younger self. And do I always accomplish this? Gawd no!

But I am more aware, and I recognize when I’ve failed myself.

And it really is myself I am failing—not him, not the relationship. It is me who decides my own standards and ethics, and when I make a stupid decision to go ahead and be mean or passive aggressive or speak in anger, it is me that judges myself most harshly later.

As soon as I let anger exit my mouth, I regret it. I regret in the moment, and I regret it even more later.

Being kind means not pointing out when I think someone else is wrong when it’s not important if they’re wrong—when their being wrong will not harm them or me. And when it does matter—when they are in some sort of danger because of being wrong, it means pointing it out very gently and carefully.

It means I don’t have to be right at someone else’s expense and just because I have some ego-need to be right. It means letting someone else be right. It means letting someone else feel good and not feeling like I have to ruin that in any way—even when I don’t feel good and it rubs salt in my own emotional wounds to hear about their happiness.

For me, it means remembering others and asking about their issues without them having to remind me. It means paying attention. It means forcing myself to come up out of my introverted-ness enough to really see and hear them, to offer them my empathy—and even sympathy—when they need that.

It means finding something good, handsome, pretty, sexy, sweet, beautiful competent, funny, masculine, laudable, etc. about someone (it’s really never hard to do) and then telling him or her about that.

It means choosing my words; emphasis on certain words; and tone very, very carefully when I am angry and/or stressed out.

It means taking a stand against hurting anyone—myself included, because it is going to hurt me greatly later to look at the regret at having not been kind. It means giving up blame and remembering forgiveness.

“Blame is described as a way to discharge pain and discomfort.” ~ Brene Brown

It may mean saying nothing at all. It may mean leaving. It may mean never going back, because it is certainly not kind to continue to let myself be hurt by someone and stay in an abusive, hurtful situation/relationship.

But it also may mean leaving and only coming back when I am not angry and can speak without anger.

It also may mean sometimes staying and listening to someone else’s anger without getting triggered into anger myself—which is so difficult for me! When someone is expressing anger at you, do you instantly get angry in return? I usually do, even though I believe that is no good reason to ever get angry.

“I am starting to think that kindness is the closest one can get to God.” ~Peggy Christiansen

I have been working for years on changing the deplorable (embarrassing!) habit I had of saying things in a passive aggressive manner. Like saying something seemingly innocent and kind, but saying it just the right way so that I know it will actually make that person feel guilty instead.

Gag! Yuck! Sick!

So many times in the past, I would find myself angry but too much of a coward to own it and say it directly, so I would “say” it by a few well-placed words or word emphasis instead.

Passive aggressive much?

Years ago, I enacted the self-rule that I’m not allowed to do that anymore.

It takes paying very carefully, close attention to my motives—especially when I am angry or feel threatened in some convoluted, habitual way. It is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, this careful, self-inspection of motive each time I get triggered.

I’m trying to be gentle, too, in my digging, trying to be kind to myself. That is the most difficult, frustrating part for me.

So, what is the one thing that will make your relationship—and indeed, all your relationships—last?

Kindness.

“My religion is kindness.” ~His Holiness the Dalai Lama, XIV

The elephant journal version.

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When for no Specific Reason, You Just Don’t Like Him.

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Have you ever instantly not liked someone but can’t figure out why that is?

Have you ever not trusted someone—without them having done anything to you to warrant that mistrust—and don’t know why?

I recently spent an evening with a small group of people that included a person that I neither like nor trust. I did this at the urging of a friend who disagrees with me and tries to convince me that this person is totally trustworthy.

And did this mistrusted person do anything throughout the evening to prove me correct—or even incorrect? No.

But I spent the entire evening silently berating myself for being so unreasonable, judgy and unfair. Every time they spoke or I looked over at this person, I asked myself, “Now what is it, again, about this person that is so very horrible, Grace? Why are you judging them so harshly?”

An answer never came. What did appear though, was a continued feeling of mistrust and aversion. It grew even stronger throughout the evening—to the point that I started doing my mind-escape thing of going to my happy place inside to get away from them and the situation (which also meant I wasn’t very available for socializing, which was why we were there in the first place).

And from there, I began to feel very childish and dysfunctional. I started in with more self talk like, “This won’t kill you, Grace, just buck up and do this. Be an adult!”

Indeed, I felt like an impatient, recalcitrant child in formal clothes at a formal event who sits in the corner grimacing, chaffing, itching sweating and pulling at the stiff, scratchy clothes, with nothing on their mind but escaping, as quickly as possible, this hot mess of torture.

This person appears very nice, polite, funny, well adjusted, etc. But from the first time I met them, I have never liked this person. And I have continued to question and berate myself about these feelings.

I see this person in my social sphere of acquaintances only occasionally, and I am uncomfortable with this person always. In my concentrated efforts to pin down the origins of my discomfort, I have come up with a few vague things about this person with which I am uncomfortable.

This person wants to be way too chummy, way too quickly. There seems to be a “neediness” or desperation or something similar that I find overwhelming coming from this person. They ask way too personal questions, and I find myself in a constant, tacit struggle with them to redirect the conversation to something less personal without seeming rude.

So is this just a difference in social/personal boundaries? I am a very private person. They are more open? I have explored this possibility too.

So the next day after my experience of self-interrogation in this person’s company, I was still belittling myself, still trying to figure out what was so wrong with me that I couldn’t give this person the benefit of the proverbial doubt.

I mentioned my confusion to a friend—who also happens to be a preschool teacher of over thirty years. I asked, “Have you ever not liked someone, because of the feeling you get from them, but have no real reason not to like them? I mean, I want to be a loving person, a person who is kind and patience, even with those I don’t seem to like.”

She nodded in understanding, and in a very serious voice, said, “Yes, everyone does. And I’ve always taught all my children (in her classes) to honor that feeling in themselves. “Stranger danger” doesn’t really make much sense, because most kids are hurt by people they know—close or extended family, “friends” of the family (she made quotes around the word “friends” with her fingers in the air between us), etc., so I teach them to pay attention to what they feel in here,” she pointed to the middle of her chest.

“I tell them they don’t have to figure out in their heads why they feel that way. Just trust that feeling anyway and stay away from that person and tell someone they trust about that feeling.”

As she spoke, I felt myself releasing something I’d been holding on to way too tightly. A big breath I hadn’t realized I was holding, whooshed out of me; my shoulders dropped. I felt tears of relief wash up and out at being validated.

I had spent so much time alternately defending my gut/heart feelings about this person and then swinging back to, “Why are you being so unreasonably, effing judgy, Grace!?” that I had not even considered a middle ground where I could simply trust myself without having to defend those feelings.

She went on to briefly explain that this was the same way she lives her life. She lets herself pause enough to get a feeling about everything, then she chooses the one that feels best—even down to the choice of her route to work each day.

It was then that I had my a-ha moment.

I too live that way—in every way, except apparently, when it comes to trusting how a person feels to me. I too do a mental/heart check about my route to work, my route to the grocery store, which pair of shoes to buy, what to eat for lunch, as to whether I want to go out and dance or stay in and veg and watch a movie or just meditate.

Why have I been excluding using that heart-centered approach to the feelings I get off of people? And why was I beating myself up about not getting the “right” feelings—like that is somehow my fault?

Does this mean that this person—the catalyst of this whole query—is a bad person?

Not necessarily. Maybe we just have different ideas about what are comfortable, appropriate boundaries. Maybe as an empath, I am picking up on some unrelated, energy/wounds that are deeply buried and that have nothing to do with me. Or maybe that person is wearing a social mask to hide his or her own insecurities, and I am picking up feelings of inauthenticity.

Maybe we have a past lifetime where we didn’t get along with each other. Maybe we were enemies in that lifetime. Maybe the stars aren’t aligned correctly. Maybe my chakras are all out of line, and my aura is just too cluttered, my shoe came untied, the sun was in my eyes, I lost my keys and I was really missing my momma that day…

Regardless of reason—simple, convoluted, unconscious, deliberate, personal, multi-dimensional or not—my mission, if I choose to accept it, is to simply be aware of those feelings of discomfort and mistrust, acknowledge them, honor them and stop feeling like there’s something wrong with me that I can’t like someone, stop feeling like I have to justify myself in some way, stop feeling like I’m a bad person for not liking someone who brings up revulsion in me.

I will now use these feelings as the tool that they are. Just like I use them to choose my path to work every morning, I will similarly use them to choose who I want to hang out with—and not.

Without question. Without having to figure out why.

Have you ever had this experience? What do you do with it?

The elephant journal version.

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.

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.

A Married Man’s Secret Tears and a Woman’s Response

Also published at elephant journal.

A Married Man’s Secret Tears
by Steve Horsmon

Do you know why romance and sensuality novels for women are so popular? Short answer:  The authors know exactly how to give women that feeling.

1stphone4That feeling has many facets and she loves them all. She tingles with the flirtatiousness of the conversation. She blushes at the boldness and sensual innuendo. She craves the unapologetic desire. She wants to be “taken” by her man. The sexual polarity and tension have her on pins and needles of pleasure. She is aching for the climactic release from this torture.And he doesn’t quite get it. He can read the same passage and have a lukewarm response.

Sure, it’s a little titillating. But it’s not the kind of “romance” language he has told me he is longing for.

He is a long-time, married man who is just dying to star in a different scene.

Just as he struggles to understand her emotional reaction to those scenes written for her, she can also be clueless about his deepest desires. And it’s not a sex scene.

To him, it seems she just doesn’t understand (or doesn’t care?) why reading this scene will almost always bring a tear to his eye and a lump in his throat.

More than anything, he wants that feeling, and only she has the power to supply that.

The Romance Story That Can Make Men Cry

They were finally alone. He had been looking forward to doing this for months and she finally agreed to a getaway for just the two of them. The kids were with grandma and they will finally have a chance to reconnect as a man and woman – not as dad and mom.

Their truck was cruising west on the hot desert highway into a beautiful sunset as one of their favorite songs from high school came on the radio. They both started humming the song and broke into the chorus at the exact same time. They both laughed and smiled without talking as the song ended. After another few miles, she gently reached across the top of the bench seat and her hand her found the back of his head. Hcrying maner fingers rolled and massaged through his hair as she delivered the most loving half-scratch, half-massage treatment he hadn’t felt in a long time.

He caught her looking at him out of the side of his eye and said, “What’s that look for?”

She kept eye contact and grinned as she said, “This was such a good plan. I’m so happy you’re my man. Thank you making me go on this trip. We both need this, don’t we?”

As they pulled into town that night, he realized he had not even noticed the last 100 miles. While his truck found its own way, he had been traveling on Cloud Nine.

Many women reading this will think I’m full of crap. The men know I’m not.

Remember, the leading man in this story has been married for 14 years, has three kids aged 13, 11, and 9, and he lives in a rat race of work, relatives, friends, home maintenance, and weekend soccer tournaments.

Sure, his sex life could be better. He wishes it was better. He has even looked at some real porn.

But that’s not what he longs for in his heart. It isn’t the loss of sexual intimacy that causes the tear and the lump to form.

It’s the loss of his emotional and sensual connection with his only romantic partner in life. He craves her presence, respect, and trust. She is the only woman who has the power to lift him up and make him want to conquer the world for her.

Yet he feels that she no longer wants to be that woman for him. She gives herself and her energy to just about anyone but him. And it makes him sad. It makes him fearful of his future. The sadness and fear show up in his life as anger.

The Truth Behind His Anger

Anger of this type is a secondary emotion. It is a reaction to the thoughts of what he believes he has lost and of the fear of where he thinks he will wind up.

The dream of “happily ever after” for most men includes the idea of a long-term, committed, romantic, and sexual relationship with a woman who shares his values and desire to maintain a healthy, trusting, respectful, and intimate relationship. The dream is full of good feelings, supportive words, and loving actions.

For many men, it feels like this dream is dying right in
front of him and there is no way to stop it.

Can he be more supportive? Can he be more caring and sensitive? Can he take more responsibility for planning and getting things done? Yep.

He’s been working hard at being better. He wants to be a man that he can be proud of. He wants a woman who is outwardly proud of him and openly appreciates him.

Most days all he needs to keep working is a good head scratch and a loving vote of confidence.

What is she thinking and what should he do?

A Woman Responds
by Grace

Why can’t we touch you in affection right now? Why does it take so long for us to open up to you again, to have sex again?

It all boils down to trust and safety. These are major needs for women.

Why We Don’t Trust You (Yet)

Reason One:  Safety

Please keep in mind that from birth, girls are taught not to trust men. We are all taught, at a very young age, about how to dress and not dress, how to act and not act, where to walk at night, when it is okay to walk alone and when not, don’t “lure” men. Don’t trust men.

To make my point: I knew young male years ago who was a cross-dresser, taking hormones and considering sex-change surgery. When dressed as a female, he very much looked like a very attractive female. One night while walking home alone dressed as a woman, he was sexually harassed from across the street by a group of men. They followed him for more than a block, threatening to rape him. Thankfully they finally gave up and left.

This had certainly never happened to him as a male. He told me it was the most frightened he had ever been in his young life. He had never had to think about whether he was walking alone or not, never thought about having to plan his clothes and his walking route differently because he was a woman.

This is something, unfortunately, that all women have to think about on so many levels—safety. This is in the “DNA” of every female.

I want to be very clear. I am not saying that every man is inherently violent or unsafe. I am also not saying that it’s okay for a woman to see herself as a victim of society. I am saying that in our world, out of necessity, women are taught about their personal safety. It is the world we live in.

To women, touch not accompanied by emotional safety is scary.

Reason Two:  We Need you to be Strong in your Masculine Energy

We need you to be consistent. We need you to be your own man, to stick to your N.U.T.s. We need you to be impeccable with your word. If you tell us you are going to do something, we need you to do that. If you can’t follow through, we need you to tell us as soon as you know that—even about things that seem small to you. Or not only will we lose respect for you, we will begin to feel unsafe with you. kissing couple

And without that safety, we are closed to you—and often even to ourselves. We are waiting for you to offer us strong, directed, safe, Masculine energy. We need to know that you are in it for the long haul, that when we open up and let you see this Pandora’s Box of emotions, you are going to stand strong and not retreat.

David Deida puts it this way: “…if you don’t trust your man because he is undirected, scattered ambiguous or otherwise weak in his masculine energy, this will undercut your relationship, reducing your passion, your sexual attraction and your trust of each other.”

Reason Three:  History

It is not that we don’t want to touch you. We know it’s important. We’re afraid to touch you in affection, because we have seen in the past that you take that as a green light to sex. We don’t feel safe enough yet to have sex. We do not want to send you mixed messages.

When you keep touching us before we trust you enough for that and if you continue interpreting our simple affectionate touches as a sexual green light, you erode the trust even further. In fact, you risk destroying any new trust that might have recently been established.

Please take sex off the table.

Don’t get me wrong, we women love attention, touch and sex! That simple hand on the small of our back as we walk through a door tells us wonderful volumes about your love and respect for us, your desire for us. We women want and crave that too and will always want more of it—unless we are not feeling emotionally safe, unless we feel, even subconsciously, that we cannot trust you for some reason.

And are you only putting effort into the relationship when you think we’re leaving you? Some women don’t want to open up and “let down their guard,” because they know that if they do, you will stop being affectionate, or stop putting effort into connecting with us as soon as you think we have decided to stay.

One woman tells me, “I’m afraid to give in, because every time I do, he becomes an emotional child again and stops doing all the lovely things he was doing to woo me. He starts ignoring me again and taking me and the relationship for granted.”

The Proverbial Bottom Line

Most women are afraid to open their hearts again to their man, because the only thing worse than getting our hearts broken by someone new, is getting it broken by the same man over and over again. It is too painful. (Read: We love you.)

We’re thinking things like: What if he really can’t (or won’t) stand in his Masculine energy for us? What if he can’t be impeccable with his life and his word? What if we open this huge dam holding back all these scary emotions, and he can’t handle all this emotion, all this anger, this fear, the doubt?open to DF

To try and open up before we feel safe enough and trust you enough to do that, feels like a self-betrayal. It feels like we are not taking care of ourselves, like we are compromising ourselves. Like we are just giving in to please you. We know that is not how you really want to connect with us. It is not how we want to connect with you.

The Solution

Please be patient with us and don’t take it personally. We are working on our stuff, our blocks to opening to you. If we compromise our own safety by having sex with you before we are ready, you would lose respect for us on a very deep level. We would lose respect for ourselves—and for you.

We know you’re sad, fearful and angry. So are we. We know it took two to get us to this scary place. It is going to take two to get back to trust, safety and love.

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-Planet, 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.

staying in love

grace love hand bw
I have come to realize that I do better when I stay in Love – in love with life, myself, my body, the people around me, the situations that appear, the Earth. I do better when I just ignore those things that have had a historical tendency to take me out of love – whether it be a situation or the behavior/words of a person. I feel better when I just allow myself to fall in love with everyone and stay there, just trust that they are doing whatever they need to do too. I feel better and more like my authentic self when I just trust – myself, my body, everyone. I love that giddy, in-love feeling I have for all the sweeties in my life – and I classify almost everyone I interact with as a ‘sweetie’.

Now this doesn’t mean I’m gonna take any crap, though – a girl’s gotta have healthy boundaries – that’s how I love myself. I don’t have to LIKE someone to LOVE them. I don’t have to tolerate disrespect, and I don’t have to like everyone. But, for me, I DO have to love them.  And I get to be my own, unique self while I’m doing it, too – which means I get to be human and spiritual all at the same bloody time if I choose. And I get to say fuck as much as I want to, too, while I’m doing it, by god.

Have you ever confided in someone in what you thought was the appropriate level for where the relationship was, only to get something back from them that surprised you? It is my experience that when we confide in someone, it deepens the level of the relationship – if we both allow it. And we continue in this fashion until we have reached either complete transparency with each other or the deepest level we are both comfortable with. I recently confided in someone – at not a deep level, but the next level for us – and asked their opinion on an issue I was having. Instead of stepping into that space I had created with that slight dip down into intimacy and getting cozy, they came back with why I shouldn’t feel that way and why I needed to change my way of addressing the issue, change my language, be more like them.

Wow. It felt like I had been slapped in the face. It felt violent, even. It was via email, so okay, the written word can be interpreted very differently from the spoken, but really?

So I stepped back, mentally/emotionally, from it. And I began to do my usual self-cross examination. Only this time I remembered something a friend had recently said to me:  “Why do you make yourself wrong all the time, Grace? Let yourself be right some of the time.”  Wow again. So then I proceed to make the other person ‘wrong’ in their reply. I got angry, I blamed them for being uptight or self-righteous or just plain mean. Then I went back to more of my usual:  Was he angry at me or something? Did I do something to offend?  Am I just a judgy person, perhaps, and I should learn to be so forgiving as he that I didn’t need to rant sometimes, didn’t need to ask why someone could be a creep towards me?

Then I got to:  Maybe he is just not wanting any other level of ‘intimacy’ with me – or maybe with anyone. Or maybe he was just in a hurry, or in a weird mood, or maybe he really IS so much more spiritually evolved than me that he never labels anyone. Maybe he really does see the Light that people are every time and instead of putting them in a proverbial box, he confronts them and works it out – even with people he doesn’t even really know (as was the situation in my case). Okay. Or maybe he didn’t see that I was really just seeking his reassurance – along with that next, little slice of intimacy with him.

So in this entire process, I had gone from wanting to become friends and possibly let it fall easily into a romantic relationship over time to:  I have so little in common with this person, that I have absolutely NO business subjecting myself to the hassle of getting to know him – we are just not gonna happen – on any level, b/c we are so incompatible.

Then a really interesting thing started to happen for me:  I began to see, very clearly, that I didn’t have to base my love of anyone or anything on anything but what is inside of me, by my attitude towards it. My love or lack of love for someone had, really, nothing to do with them nor with their behavior or words. Okay, I know we all choose our thoughts. I’ve been carefully choosing and unchoosing my thoughts for years now – seeking out and breaking thought patterns/habits in myself. But this was different somehow. This went deeper – or came up from out of a deeper place, maybe? It is so very clear now.

I love my people. I define ‘my people’ as any and everyone that I interact with on a regular basis and love and have as companions and friends. I actually fall in love with them, one at a time, over time, as I get to know them. Men and women are the same for me:  I just fall in love with them. Or I don’t. There are some people that I know I don’t want to be around, and that’s okay with me. I just don’t spend time with them.

So in my analyzing him and his response and what I should do, if anything, and whether I’m a horrible person or not for feeling like I do/did, and should I do this or that proverbial thing to possibly ‘fix’ it, blah, blah, blah; it came to me that when I think of the fun we have had together, I am in love with him; when I think of his less than welcome response and what that might or might not say about him or what it might mean he might think of me or some other such self-loathing rant, I start thinking I shouldn’t be in love with him.  And further, when I allow myself to just feel like I’m in love with him, I am happy. When I start with the other, I get anxious and judgy – of myself, of him, of everyone.

So…

I began to realize that my happiness is tied to allowing myself to just be in love with everyone – all the time. Insert a BIG smile here, b/c I really love letting myself love everyone without condition. This came as SUCH a big revelation for me! How could I have NOT noticed this HUGE, fucking Truth, for me, until now?!?! I had spoken the words before now, but they never quite jelled or something – I was unable to live it, to be it.

And my happiness is also tied to trusting that everyone is simply doing whatever it is that they need to do – at all times. Everyone is absolutely doing the best they can at that moment with what they have to work with and where they are in their life – and in their day/ mood. I have told myself this for years, but now I GET it. I can just love and trust myself, my dance partner, my body (my body knows how to move in dance – in life – if I’ll let it, just allow it), my sweeties, everyone – all the time.

When I got there in the process, I paused.  Then I applied my years-old belief of:  I don’t have to like someone to love them. I don’t have to be near them, either. I can love them from a distance if their human behavior is too disruptive, or disrespectful, etc. I don’t tolerate disrespect, dysfunction, negative drama, etc. around me (believe me, I can create enough of my own shit without help from anyone :).

So where does this leave me?

I am in love with everyone and everything – and at the same time,

I am respecting and loving myself enough to only allow those who nourish me, feed my soul, make me laugh, cry with me, etc. to be around me.

I am supremely happy that I have come to realize that I do better when I stay in Love – in love with life, myself, my body, the people around me, the situations that appear, the Earth.