Vulnerability: the gateway to love

IMG_0863I walked into a networking lunch last week not too concerned about walking into a room full of strangers, until I met the leader of the meeting.  He is a very attractive man. I decided that regardless of anything else, I could enjoy my eye candy during the lunch and it would be time well spent.

At the end of the meeting, he expressed interest in meeting up to learn more about yoga and meditation.  I’m starting to get the hang of this new face of networking, where people learn about each other without overtly selling themselves, so his intentions weren’t exactly clear.  I appreciated the opportunity to converse with him again and totally looked forward to connecting with him.

We met up a few days later and it became clear that we were both attracted to each other.  Next came the vulnerability; that butterflies in the stomach feeling of being exposed. It is daunting to share your most intimate details with someone so they can decide if they want to get to know you better or not.  It is an opportunity for rejection like no other. I am so thankful that I can see it for what it is.  In the past, I wanted to ease the vulnerability by connecting with the other person, but now, I see its purpose and I’m sitting with it.

Vulnerability is the gateway to love.  It is that feeling that you decide to push through, or runaway from.  There are no guarantees.  You can push through it only to discover that the relationship isn’t meant to be.  So many lessons can come from connecting with another, and many times the lessons need the attraction to push you into the situations you can learn from.  There is no way that a casual friendship can bring out the vulnerability needed for deep growth.  Most of us desperately want a good relationship so badly, and we have the expectation that that’s what attraction will lead us to. We blindly focus on what we want; ignoring all the amazing lessons the connection is trying to show us.

I’m not doing that this time. I am dedicated to honoring the process. This feeling of vulnerability has given me the opportunity to choose to let love in.  Love may or may not be waiting on the other side of vulnerability, but it certainly isn’t hiding out next to fear and isolation.  Consciously honoring my feelings is what I’m looking to do. I know what it feels like to shut people out.  I know what it feels like to let people in and have them take advantage of it.  I know what it feels like to let someone in, and enjoy the amazing feeling of love and connection, only to experience a devastating loss later on.

If I’ve gotten to that place in life where my lessons come from being deeply connected to someone, then I’ll happily walk down that path. If I’m still at the point where my lessons come from an earlier stage in the process, then I accept that too. I no longer believe in happily ever after.  I no longer want happily ever after.  I equate happily ever after to stagnation.  I want to keep growing and expanding and learning, and being content does not foster growth.  I’ll take the ups and downs of a connection that pushes me to be a better version of myself over one that lets me stagnate where I am.

Time will tell what this connection has to offer me.  If nothing else, it has helped me remember that this feeling exists and it is the start of a potentially deep connection.  Cheers to vulnerability and hoping my awareness of it brings me that much closer to the best version of myself.

But it isn’t fair! 

I just got back from an amazing 3 week trip to Asia.  As I was digging through a very large stack of mail, I found a notice from the HOA.  A tenant at my rental property had the gall to leave his vehicle parked on the side of the street for an hour after he moved it out of the driveway so his wife could get out of the garage.  Some very diligent HOA board member witnessed this transgression, and the property manager sent me a picture, and a letter, reminding us all that no one is allowed to park on the street!

The HOA reminded me that I was responsible if my tenants don’t follow the rules, so I emailed the tenants telling them I got the letter and asking them to follow the rules so that we could avoid future unpleasant letters.

My tenant responded that it wasn’t fair.  He stated that he never parked on the street and he was ticketed the one time he did it.  He said there was another car that always parked on the street, and was in fact, parked on the street the same time his vehicle was, but that vehicle didn’t have a ticket on it.  He was incensed that this parking rule wasn’t being fairly enforced. He wanted more details so that he could prove he was unfairly targeted.

My question to you is, why does any of this matter?  In the last week I literally saw starving children. I saw people living in poverty, and people being happy with the little they have.  How can someone parking on the street warrant photos and letters and outrage?  Is there any good that can come of this?

Who knows what my tenant was hoping to get by sharing his story, but what he got was my take on fairness and responsibility.  I explained that he admitted he broke the rule and it was fair for him to be ticketed, because he broke the rule.  We can’t know if the other vehicle was ever ticketed, or what their story is, but it doesn’t matter, because fairness for this tenant only has to do with him and the rule he broke.

The idea of fairness is a fantasy, especially when there are multiple people involved.  No one is in the exact same situation, and no one sees the same situation the exact same way.  We are all blessed with our own misperceptions, courtesy of our mind.  Our mind categorizes what happens to us, compares it to our past, and decides how we should feel about it.  Worrying about fairness, or using it as justification, only spends time on things that don’t truly matter.  If you examine everything that happens to you as if it is a personal affront, then you spend a lot of time feeling victimized.  If you can find a way to depersonalize things that happen, then you can go through life with your self-esteem in tact because you don’t have to let things that happen say anything about who you are as a person.

If this tenant shifted his perspective he could have imagined that there was a power-hungry HOA member who was proud of themselves when they caught people parking on the street.  If he realized the ticket had nothing to do with him and was simply some HOA member doing their job to report vehicles parked on the street, then maybe he wouldn’t be so bothered.  If he could admit to himself that anytime he was breaking a rule, he was putting himself at risk for being caught, then maybe he wouldn’t care if any other vehicles were ticketed. If he came to any other conclusion than someone was unfairly trying to make him pay, then maybe this would have been much less of a big deal.

We are all tortured by our minds, until we decide to do something about it.  You can train your mind to work for, rather than against, you.  You can learn to take a step back from situations and see them with a clear perspective.  So, the next time something upsets you, take a minute, and see if you can shift your perspective and see things differently.

Control: the adversary of love

Many of us have had challenging lives.  We long for healthy, loving relationships with our partners, children, family members, co-workers and our bodies.  We spend time and effort trying to make life feel good, but it doesn’t.  Constant stress and struggles lead to surviving, and not thriving in life.  Today’s society stresses our nerves because they are under constant stimulation, and they were designed for simpler times without 24/7 internet access.

Many people have had to learn how to take control to their situation in order to survive.  They had parents who couldn’t give them what they needed, so they became mini-adults at very young ages.  Single parent homes are the norm, and many of those children are successful because they learned early how to fend for themselves.  I was one of them; I understand. I’m not blaming the single parents; they are doing the best they can, as their parents did with them.

Why does this matter? It matters because to survive in this society you have to learn to behave in ways that don’t coexist with loving yourself and others in healthy ways.  The child who learned to adult at a young age doesn’t know how to be vulnerable; they know how to be in control and to survive.  Being vulnerable has turned into a skill that one has to cultivate, rather than a normal part of everyday life.

Love involves vulnerability because you have to open up to another and show them your heart and soul.  Show them your pain and show them your fears.  If you’ve spent your whole life fending for yourself, being vulnerable does not seem safe.  It goes against your survival strategy to control situations to stay safe. If you haven’t acknowledged and addressed your control issues, then they are most certainly there.  This article gives the basics on control https://intentionalsuccess.guru/2017/05/03/who-is-controlling-you/.  Survival patterns run deep, you can’t just will your way around them. They have been protecting you and they need to be respected.  You can gently chip away at them as you replace them with healthier strategies, but this a process.

What do you do if you know you have control issues and you want healthy relationships with yourself and others?  You realize that this is an issue that affects most of humanity and that you aren’t alone.  You realize that there are tools out there to break down these subconscious patterns (explained in more detail here: https://intentionalsuccess.guru/2017/05/01/an-introduction-to-your-subconscious-backpack/).  Even the awareness of this issue will start to bring it more into consciousness.

Why should I forgive her?

forgiveI was talking with a friend last night and I apologized for something that I could have done better.  He said he didn’t forgive me.  I was shocked. The parent in me thought about how I teach my kids to forgive people, but here is this grown man telling me that he wouldn’t forgive me.

Forgiveness means letting the energy of the situation go, so that the relationship can shift into a different space.  Not forgiving means that the relationship will keep playing out the same patterns over and over, because the energy is still being supported. It is ok to not be able to forgive someone; it just means that you still have emotions tied to the situation.  Thinking about what happened, and talking things through, can get you to a place where you can let go of the feelings and the situation.

If you choose not to deal with the situation, then you are taking the energy of the situation and tossing it into your subconscious backpack.  Most likely, you already have similar situations in your backpack and that’s why this one played out the way it did.  You wear your backpack everyday and it weighs you down.  A goal in life is to empty your subconscious backpack so that carrying what is left is effortless.  Adding more hurt feelings and unresolved situations to your backpack, or adding weight to the ones already in there, only makes it heavier.

Besides the obvious reasons to forgive, another reason is to let go of the energy of the situation so it doesn’t continue to weigh you down.  By forgiving you open space up in the relationship so interactions can shift and become more positive.

Sometimes you will find people who are unwilling or unable to forgive.  That’s their choice and it’s ok.  You can forgive them and honor where they are.  One day they might surprise you and be ready to forgive.

Who is controlling you?

 

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Unless you have spent years addressing your control issues, I’m confident that you have control issues.  Nothing personal, we all have control issues until we start to see them, and do something about them.

As humans we are all born with a heart, lungs, hands; things that are ours and are integral to our functioning as a human.  We are also born with some equally as important, but less tangible parts.  We all have our own responsibility, control, power, attention and love; we got them at birth with our hands and feet.  The issue comes into play when people don’t realize that they have their own control, etc., and they go looking for those things in other people.

For my explanation I’m going to pretend that control is a physical thing that looks like these strands of beads. image1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the time of birth, we each have our control and it is organized and in good shape.  When we are children our parents naturally have some of our control, but that is healthy, necessary and not in the scope of this article.

When we enter into a relationship of any kind – friendship, romantic relationship, family member relationship, co-worker, etc., boundaries need to be established.  Many people have not learned how to create healthy boundaries, so they create unhealthy relationships that involve stealing, dropping or swapping control and look more like this:

There are several things people can do to each other in regards to control.

1.  One person can try to give their control to the other person.  If the control isn’t accepted, it either lays on the ground, or the second person is forced to pick it up.  An example of this is when a teenager leaves dirty dishes in their room despite their parents asking them not to.  The teenager is not controlling themselves, so either the parents pick up the control and pick up the dishes themselves, or the dishes sit and get moldy while the control lays on the ground.

2.  One person can demand the other person’s control.  Many times the relationship is used as leverage and there is no viable way to defend against this because of the relationship.  An example of this is when a husband insists a wife do something the way he wants it done, or he will get mad at her.  The wife wants to get along with her husband, so she can either give in, giving up her control, or deal with the consequences of not giving in.

3.  More often than not, it is much more complicated than the first two examples.  People give some of their control to the other person, they take some of that person’s control, and they drop some of theirs on the ground.  An example of this is when a friend, who doesn’t like to drive, insists on picking the restaurant every time, or they will end up complaining about their meal.

No one is helpless in any of these situations because your control is your birth right.  It takes time and attention to see how you are giving up your control and how you are taking other people’s control.  As you unravel your own control issues, your relationships will begin to shift because your decisions and choices will be coming from a different vantage point.  It is possible to regain your own control and to give everyone back theirs.

 

An introduction to your subconscious backpack

The subconscious mind plays a very important role in your life and understanding more about it can help solve some of your problems.  To simplify things, I like to describe the subconscious as a backpack..  When you are born, certain beliefs are stuffed into your backpack.  Everyone has a backpack that is specific to them and their race, gender, ancestors, country of origin, family’s religion, and their soul’s experiences, all go in this backpack.  Throughout their lives, everything they interact with is filtered through their backpack.

I’ll give you a simple example.  When I was working in a bank in North Carolina, one of the tellers went into the break room for lunch.  She took out this fruit that I didn’t recognize and started to peel it.  I asked her what it was and she told me it was a mango.  She was from Brazil and she had always peeled and eaten mangoes the same way that Americans peel and eat apples.  I had always walked by mangoes in the grocery store and I’d never eaten one.  My friend’s subconscious backpack had mangoes as a familiar fruit that one eats on a regular basis.  My subconscious had mangoes as a foreign fruit that wasn’t part of my life.  I tried her mango and now, 20 years later, I have a mango tree in my yard and my kids and I regularly enjoy mangoes.  The point of my example is that something that is familiar and usual to one person can be very foreign to another.  The subconscious deals with deeply held beliefs that are much more complicated than familiarity with mangoes, but everything that you come into contact with is filtered through these beliefs.  The way people react to new situations is because of their subconscious beliefs.

If one person’s backpack sees something as foreign and a threat, it will have them react very differently than the person with the backpack that identifies the situation as familiar.  Some people have subconscious minds that see almost everything as a threat; these people walk around with a constant low level of anxiety. Basically, until you become aware of it, most people walk around all day behaving in ways that line up with their subconscious beliefs; beliefs they don’t even know exist and may not even agree with.

There are many ways to make your subconscious beliefs conscious, and the first one is realizing what an important role your subconscious plays in your life.  There are many tools that help you empty your subconscious backpack so that it doesn’t create your feelings and reactions in life.  When you notice a pattern in your life, you are getting a glimpse of a subconscious belief.  Now that your eyes are a little more open, maybe your want to take a look inside your backpack and see if there are a few things that have been weighing you down that you don’t want to carry around anymore.

Everything is an exchange of energy

Today is my son’s 10th birthday.  I remember 10 years ago how big and awkward I was because I was sharing my body with another living being.  Pregnancy is really an amazing process, but it, like everything else, is simply an exchange of energy.

We are all made of energy. Why is this important? Because it is a way to depersonalize interactions so that a deeper level of understanding can be achieved.  Issues and situations can’t be solved at the same level of understanding that created them, so one needs to find deeper meaning for the solution to reveal itself.

Take the mother/child relationship; the mother lends her body to help support a new life.  Once the baby is born, the parents care for this baby, day and night, often neglecting their own needs to put the baby first.  The responsibility the parents feel is great, and necessary, for the baby to survive and thrive.  Issues come into play as the baby grows into a child and can take on more of their responsibility.

If you can imagine responsibility as a physical thing, it is easier to understand.  Imagine responsibility is a bag of marbles.  At birth, the parents are holding the child’s bag of marbles, and they need to.  As the child ages, the parents should be giving the child a marble or two every now and then so that the child has the amount of personal responsibility equal to their emotional and physical capabilities.  Since the parents started with the responsibility, some parents have owned it.  They have crossed their child’s name off the bag of marbles, and written their own.  It makes no sense to them why they would give one of their own marbles to this child.  They have kept all the child’s responsibility as their own, and have burdened themselves with much more responsibility than they need.  Think of all the teenagers who flutter around taking odd jobs and living at home off and on indefinitely; this is a classic case of a parent still holding their child’s bag of marbles.

The parent keeping the child’s responsibility isn’t healthy for either person.  Children who do their own thing, without a sense of responsibility, because their parents are still holding on it so tightly, lead irresponsible lives.  Parents who are so dedicated to their children that they have lost a sense of themselves feel devastated when their children grow up.  If you can be brave enough to see who’s marbles you are holding, who’s bags you have written your name on, you can start to unravel the situation.  Trust me, less responsibility can feel very good and is healthy for everyone involved.  If you really look, you may see that many people have given you some of their marbles, and maybe you’ve given some of your own away because of all the other marbles you are holding.

Since everything is an exchange of energy, there is a healthy way to give everyone back their marbles and take all of your back as well.  Just being open to the idea that you may have other people’s responsibility starts the process.

Conscious relationships blog

This blog will be used to share information about conscious relationships.  A conscious relationship is one where you understand your role in how you interact with the other person.  By acknowledging your role in your feelings, you can start to shift your relationships into healthier ones that feel better to you.  There are many ways to re-shape your current relationships – those with yourself, your body, your family, your career, your free time, and all of your other relationships.

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