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Entries in Marriage counselor (6)

Thursday
Oct062016

Facing The Dragon That Guards The Treasure 

Sarah was a treasure hunter searching for the most precious heirloom in the world. It was so rare that only ONE existed in the entire Universe. Long ago, she was given information from a wise guru that she was the only soul who could retrieve this treasure. He told her that it was impossible to move from its resting place unless her hands touched it. She knew this was her destiny, and it became her life long mission to find it. It was rumored that dragons sometimes attack people who search for such treasures, so she was wearing a large, heavy suit of armor to protect herself. Even though it was cumbersome and uncomfortable, she wore the armor just in case she came across any fire-breathing dragons.

Finally, after many years of searching, her journey was nearly complete. Just ahead through a narrow passageway, she could see the heirloom waiting to be discovered! She could hardly contain her excitement until she realized there was a big problem. In order to retrieve it, she would have to take off her armor to fit through the passageway. The opening was so narrow that there was no way to squeeze through it with the armor on. But she worried that the dragon was waiting on the other side protecting the treasure. What a predicament for her! Without the armor she could be badly burned or maybe even killed by the dragon. Yet, she wanted this treasure more than anything. What should she do? What would you do?

More often than not, we choose to play it safe and not take the risk (at least I do). We may rationalize this decision and convince ourselves that we really didn’t want the heirloom anyway. Or we may stand in front of the passage with our armor on for days, weeks, even years, feeling a tremendous yearning or inner conflict that will not subside. We really want it but we are afraid to go get it. What if we’re not capable? What if we fail? What if we are not worthy to receive it?

This dilemma is representative of arriving at a growing edge, when we are striving for something important in our lives. And standing there at that growing edge it becomes apparent that we will have to take a “risk” in order to proceed forward. Whether we want to attract more wealth, find a life partner, move into a new career/vocation, create a work of art, or whatever it may be, it is important to recognize that the goal or accomplishment we are seeking is NOT the heirloom. The actual heirloom is the new self that we must allow to emerge and express itself in the world. In other words, the real reason to strive for goals and accomplishments is to transform into a greater version of ourselves—to become (or realize) the person who can achieve it. The armor is the old self that we are afraid to shed, so we often just keep holding on to it. We believe that armor protects us and keeps us safe, but we cannot become the greater version of ourselves while still holding on to the old self.

But on rare occasions, usually when we just can’t stand to feel stuck anymore, we gather the courage to take off that armor and go through the passage. When we finally make it to the other side to retrieve that most precious treasure, we come face to face with that guardian dragon we feared so much, and it turns out to be a tiny lizard that couldn’t hurt a fly (well, actually they eat flies but you get my drift).

What is the greater version of you (the treasure) that wants to come forth and shine through? Are you ready to let go of that armor to make space for your greatness to blossom?

 

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Sunday
Sep182016

Don't Make the Mistake of Tolerance in Your Relationship

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in our relationships with significant others is to sit back and wait for a problem to surface, struggle with it for a long time, and then decide to try and get help with it. Another version of this is to gradually become disconnected and wait until we feel miles apart to try and reconnect. The problem with this is that the longer we stay in a rift, the more challenging it is to repair and reconnect. I have found that it is so much more effective to be proactive, continuing to nurture connection and intimacy so that the problems do not become so large and difficult to manage. Being proactive can take many forms, such as reading books about relationships together, taking personal or couple retreats, participating in workshops/classes, scheduling time to connect, going to couples therapy for a check up, learning new communication tools, or any other form of growth-oriented activity that deepens connection.

Many of us have gotten so good at tolerating friction and feeling disconnected that it becomes the norm. So I urge you, no more tolerance of so much strain or even mediocrity in your relationship. Time to take action now!

We still have a few spots left on our upcoming Relationship Tune Up Workshop. If you are interested in deepening your connection with your partner, please visit http://www.theenlightenedmind.net/workshops-and-events/   for more information.

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Thursday
Oct012015

The Secret to Living an Extraordinary Life

Jacob was not satisfied with his life. Just about every aspect of life, including his marriage, work, friendships, etc., felt stale and stagnant. He couldn’t even remember the last time he felt excitement and passion for something. He had heard about a wise old sage that could answer burning questions, so he decided to seek his counsel. At the meeting with the sage Jacob presented his dilemma, “Dear Sage, I have heard that you are wise and can help answer important questions. I am not happy with my life and need guidance. I ask you, how can I live an extraordinary life? Is there a secret you can share with me?” The sage looked curiously at Jacob, pulled out a large crystal ball, and peered carefully into its center. A look of alarm suddenly appeared on the sage’s face as he replied, “Forget about living an extraordinary life. I have seen your future and you will be dead by tomorrow morning!”

Jacob dashed out the door and began sprinting toward home as fast as he could. On the way he couldn’t help but think of all the time he had wasted worrying about trivial matters. When he arrived, he fell to his knees in front of his wife and proclaimed, “My dear, I sought the wisdom of the sage and his crystal ball foretold that I will be dead in the morning.” They both knew this was their last day together so they opened their hearts, cried together, and allowed themselves to forgive all past grievances. They openly expressed their love for each other and felt gratitude for the journey they co-created in this life. There was no reason to fear getting hurt anymore so they were able to look deeply into each other’s eyes and feel an intimate connection.   

Jacob looked at his children and suddenly realized he had been placing unnecessary expectations on them to be a certain way. Knowing this would be his last time with them, he let go of all the expectations and just loved them fully in the moment, and they played, laughed, and hugged each other for hours. He stayed up as long as he could because he wanted to make this night last, until finally falling asleep.

The next morning Jacob woke up and was surprised to be alive. He ran back to the home of the sage, burst through the door and exclaimed, “I am still alive! How could this be? Was the crystal ball mistaken?” The old sage looked at him and calmly replied, “You asked for the secret to living an extraordinary life. The crystal ball was not mistaken. It gave you the answer you were seeking.”

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Thursday
Sep102015

Grace Is a Knockin'--Will You Let Her In?

She loves to play hide-n-seek. But if you go searching for her, you won’t find her. If you try too hard she stays hidden in the shadows, just out of reach. And yet she is always there, knocking on your door in plain sight. Her gifts are more valuable than all the riches in the world and more powerful than nuclear bombs, yet they cost nothing and she bestows them with the lightest touch. The only way to receive her gifts is to drop the protective armor around the heart and provide the opening. She enters through the receptive heart—the door must be open. She knows exactly what you need and if you allow her, she will change your life.  It only takes one moment, this moment.

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Friday
May082015

After the Fight--3 Steps to Reconnect

We are very likely going to hurt each other in relationships, and I don’t know if there is a way to avoid it. Therefore, the ART of reconnecting and repairing after emotional pain becomes a crucial component in a long term, loving relationship. Much of the time our repair attempts are incomplete or outright fail, and a true reconnection with our partner is not established. We then hold on to anger or resentment (sometimes unconsciously) and slowly begin to drift apart. It may even get to the point that we are irritated by almost anything our partner does.

In order to prevent this from happening, a complete reconnection must be established any time feelings have been hurt. This means that we must be able to look into our partner’s eyes and feel authentic love and appreciation for them again. If we don’t feel that way yet, then we haven’t fully repaired the connection. It is essential that we do not stop until full reconnection is achieved so we don’t hold on to the past. This process is not about solving a problem or negotiating something. For example, if the original conflict arose over a dispute over who would do the dishes, this conversation is not about figuring that out. It’s about repairing the emotional damage that occurred in the dispute. Once reconnection is established, you can then more effectively discuss the issue of dishes. 

Creating a formula for reconnection is tricky because it is an art form, and it may look different each time. However, there are 3 key steps that are present in most successful endeavors:

Step 1-Readiness/Willingness

Ask yourself the question, “Am I ready and willing to move toward reconnection?” This requires an honest self-assessment as to your emotional state and willingness to engage in a meaningful way. This does not mean that you must feel completely healed already. You may still feel some pain, but you have moved past being immersed in blame and defensiveness. If you are not at this point of readiness it usually does little good or causes even more harm to attempt. If you do make an attempt and realize you are becoming too reactive, it is best to shelve it for a period and come back when you feel ready again. 

Step 2 – Ownership/Responsibility

In your mind and heart you must accept full ownership of your feelings and your contribution to the situation, and this must be reflected in any words you use. If even the slightest hint of blaming your partner comes through, it will likely derail the situation.  When words are required, it is best to speak more about yourself and your experience and very little about your partner.  This is not to say that you should blame or criticize yourself either; this prolongs the process as well. If an apology feels appropriate, which in some cases is not, be certain it is heartfelt-no hollow apologies! When it is sincere you will feel it deeply and only need to say it once.

Step 3 – Forgiveness

This last step is arguably the most challenging and misunderstood of them all. It involves a true letting go of the emotional pain/attachment around the situation and the ability to have compassion for your partner at the same time. The way you feel is the barometer as to whether you have reached the level of forgiveness. You will be able to look at your partner and feel authentic love and appreciation again. Just like an apology, contrived forgiveness is not effective. If you are not at that level yet, let that be OK for now because it cannot be forced. However, each day you can make a conscious choice to keep moving toward it. In a quiet state of mind, ask yourself questions such as:

What am I afraid will happen if I forgive?

Do I have to continue holding on to this?

How much am I willing to forgive in this moment?

 

And remember, don’t stop until you reach the freedom and glory that true forgiveness offers.

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