Do people do things just to annoy us?
How many people at work do you wish were different? And if they were different, wouldn’t life be much easier?
Why limit it to the workplace … let’s get real, and include family members, lovers and children too?
Stress comes in many forms, and the biggest place we experience stress is in relationships. When the people we work and live with don’t meet our expectations we get frustrated, angry and disappointed. And don’t think the feeling isn’t mutual …it is.
What if, instead of judging someone about what they do, we thought “I bet that person has a very good reason for doing what they do. I just don’t know what that reason is?” Because we don’t know their reason (and I can assure they have one), we make one up. The problem is the reason we make up is often highly inaccurate.
What should we do?
- Ask them their reason why they do what they do? It may seem simple. The trick is to ask from a place of curiosity. If we ask from judgment, believing we know best or better, they will get defensive. Imagine you really don’t know, and get curious.
- Listen to their answer. They may not know themselves. Notice what they say. Do they get defensive? Are they aware of their behavior? Do they care that it affects you?
- Explain as neutrally as you can how this is impacting you. Use phrases such as…
”I notice when you (are late for our meetings), I feel (frustrated) and (afraid I won’t be able to meet my deadlines).
“When you (check your cell phone during our conversation), the impact on me is I get (distracted from my train of thought) and lose my focus.
The more you can be neutral in your dialogue the more relaxed you and the other person will be. Do not come from a place of blame. Make your statements as matter of fact as you can.
- Make a request to get agreement on what is possible moving forward. Use empowered statements such as “I need or I want” to help the other person understand what you really want. Eg I want (you to be on time). I need (you to put your phone away during our conversations). Ask them “Will you do this?”
- Be prepared to negotiate. For every request, expect a “yes, no or counteroffer”.
- Expect it not to work all the time. Human beings behave from well ingrained and practiced patterns. The trick is to notice your pattern and to change YOUR behavior to create a different result that works for you.
This strategy is great for work, and home. Stating our needs, wants and expectations with our loved ones means we may not always get things to go exactly the way we want, but we can begin to slowly shift some ingrained habits and improve existing relationships.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a person in your life, or your latest business problem, sometimes the best course of action is just letting go. There is only so much we can control.
Trust that you are doing the best you can. Trust that others can take care of themselves? Trust yourself first and do what you can.
And know when it’s worth having the difficult conversations?
Ask for help. Set boundaries. Communicate with those who need to know what’s going on. Don’t make the other person wrong (or you right). Instead just state the facts in a way that expresses what you need. Watch and learn and always be curious.
Why should I consider coaching, rather than therapy?
I often get asked “how is coaching different from therapy?”
Coaching is the process of seeing where you are right now, deciding where you want to go, and taking action (to move past the obstacles) to get there. The destination is critical. Standard talk therapy is used primarily to determine and understand your past and present experiences and there are no defined forward motion agreements made by the client and no accountability for new results. Effective personal growth work can often require a combination of both coaching and therapy.
In my coaching practice, clients often come to me when they have exhausted therapy and their bodies are beginning to break down from stress. They have spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to be happier (or less stressed) and have become stuck. My unique Trust Coaching work focuses on what we already know and what I intuitively glean in our conversation. My specialized tools and techniques help move you forward to where you want to go. It’s not always easy work and I tell potential clients “this work is not for the faint hearted”.
Most of my clients tell me, “I’ve been in therapy for a long time, and have made more progress with you in a few months than I did in years of therapy”. I am fortunate and gifted in using my innate skills to help individuals quickly move out of misery and into a rich and rewarding life.
Call today to see if I can help you.
It was her first Tantra weekend and Leora Lightwoman (now a renowned Tantra teacher in London, England) describes this first Tantra experience in the quote above. She was partnered with a man the age of her grandfather, and realizing that her partner was gentle and sensitive, open and receptive. For the first time in her life she was “feeling love toward him; a kind of love that wasn’t conditional on the relationship being of a certain description”.
Nowadays, we experience much of life and love to be conditional; conditional on being a certain way, a specific financial status, having friends in the right circle, conditional on getting our needs met from others, not ourselves. In Leora’s case, she had an idea of what love should look like based on how she understood love, and in this workshop it was not showing up the way she expected.
Anyone attending a Christian wedding has heard the scripture verse from 1 Corinthians 13 on the merits of love, and the bottom line in this verse for each of us is:
“No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I am bankrupt, without love“.
Love isn’t conditional on what we say, believe or do. It’s not conditional on what someone else says, believes or does. Love just is. Love also isn’t always sweet and happy, chocolate and roses. Much of the time it can be blood, sweat and tears. Many of us experience love over time as a roller coaster of heart pumping emotions and attraction, yearning and deep satisfaction, and yes, even complete desolating heartbreak.
If love is all there is, and we are bankrupt without it, then why does it hurt so much?
The truth is love hurts the most when it’s conditional. We want what we want, and we want others to give it to us. If we have grown up without unconditional love we spend our time looking for the love we never had. Harville Hendrix, the author of “Finding The Love You Want”, creator of Imago Therapy tells us that we go out into the world to find your partner, your “Imago”, to heal the wounded part of you that was created from what was missing in your childhood with a certain parent. Unconsciously we go out and pick partners to heal this fragmented part of our being. And joy of joys, others pick us for the very same reason. Most people never get to the healing part because they end the relationship when the healing work shows up because it hurts so much to go there.
“I was feeling a love that wasn’t conditional on the relationship being of a certain description”.
Imagine being in a relationship with someone where it doesn’t have to look or feel a certain way, where there are no conditions for love. This was what Leora was experiencing. Instead of judgment, love was present. Imagine that the love that’s present is coming from you. If you’re fortunate, it could also be coming from your partner, or another person. In Leora’s experience the love from her workshop partner caused her to feel a love toward him, without the relationship having to be of a certain description. They were two people who were able to express unconditional love toward each other in their joint Tantra experience. This is often known as agape love, God’s love, spiritual love. I call it trusting love.
Now, I’m not a religious person. I am a spiritual and practical person, so let’s move on to something you can do to help you experience this kind of love.
Unconditional Love. Trusting Love.
- Imagine a recent love relationship and try to think about what bothered you most about the other person. Here’s the tough part. According to Imago, it is likely that you too have this trait because it is the wounded part of you that needs healing.
- Now begin to think about owning that trait. Yes, I’m asking you to accept that what this person has/is, you have too. This may be difficult, not obvious, and almost impossible to believe, but get over yourself. Relax your ego and be open and honest with yourself. How do you have this same thing going on within yourself?
- Now accept yourself with the aspect of this trait that makes some sense, and don’t try to change a thing. Accept the good and the bad, the light and dark. Remember you need both to be fully authentic.
- Now think back to other partners, past and present, and love them without any condition that your relationship be of a certain description, in just the same way you did for yourself in the previous point. Accept everything about them and love them exactly as they are. Nothing else. Just accept and love without conditions.
- Notice if this is a challenge. Remember I’m not suggesting you stay in a relationship with them. I’m only suggesting that you feel love toward them, without conditions.
It’s not easy to feel love without conditions. It’s not easy to accept others, flaws and all because most of us didn’t grow up this way. It’s not easy to accept and love ourselves because many of us are so wounded. This wounding is likely from our parents, but it’s not their fault. They probably experienced the same wounding and they loved you the best they could.
It’s one of the most difficult things in the world to love others without the relationship being conditional on a certain description. Our society is full of hurting, wounded people and our egos get in the way when we judge others and want life to be different so we feel better. Most of us need to feel the kind of love for ourselves that isn’t conditional on the relationship with ourselves being of a certain description. It starts with us. It starts with you.
Now just because you love and accept someone else, this doesn’t mean you have to hang around with them if you don’t want to. Nobody said stick around with people where you don’t feel good. Just know that it’s not about them. It’s about you, so don’t think badly of them. Instead send love to them, and more importantly, give yourself some self-love. As soon as you do that, everything will change. This is true love. This is authentic trusting love. Avoid love bankruptcy by giving yourself (and others) unconditional trusting love.
Tantra is the exploration and experience of Divine Love in ourselves and each other. It is a tool we can use easily to access love without conditions, without limitations, without judgment. It can help you feel more whole, more complete, happier, and yes, even more sexy! It’s a powerful, ancient practice which can give you a deeper access to yourself, others and trusting love.
Just recently I chose to get vulnerable with someone I don’t know that well. I want to build a relationship with this person, and last week something happened which annoyed me. I could have said nothing, and stewed about it or I could have said nothing and tried to let it go, while staying resentful. Or I could have told them all about it, blamed them, and made them wrong.
All great choices if I was still governed by my dysfunctional patterning from my past.
Instead I chose to try another route. I chose vulnerability and told them how I felt about it, and what I liked instead.
Was it uncomfortable? Yes! Was it awkward? A little bit! Was I worried it could have ruined things for any potential friendship or relationship in the future? Oh yes, all these things went through my mind!
But I decided it was worth getting vulnerable to try to build this relationship into something worth having. I received a positive response, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
So just what is vulnerability? The dictionary describes it as being “capable of being open to moral attack, criticism or assault”. If this is what it is, why on earth would anyone want to expose themselves to the possibility of this kind of treatment?
Being vulnerable shows that you have the capacity to be true to yourself, share yourself, and hold your own. In my experience, most people don’t know themselves well enough to be able to handle being truly vulnerable. It takes a serious amount of self-awareness, self-esteem and self-trust to show others who we really are, knowing that we could be hit by their attack, assault or criticism.
So how do we show our vulnerability, and survive to tell the tale?
- Firstly, know yourself. Know who you are, what you are feeling, and why. This is often not so easy to do. Our world is structured to blame, project and point the finger. When someone annoys you it’s easy to think the problem is them, and instead of getting vulnerable and sharing what’s really going on for you, we make it about them and what they did or said. But what if it is nothing to do with them? What if it is all about you? When you can look at the situation, get real with yourself, and ask inside “why do I so feel annoyed?”, “what am I really feeling?”, then you’ve made a start on self-awareness.
- Know that you are a valuable human being with a right to how you feel. And you also have the right to tell someone how you are feeling. There’s no pointing the figure when you use an “I” statement. Most people say “you did this or that” or even worse “you made me …”. This is not effective.
- Grab a hold of your self-trust and speak up. Know deep down inside that to expose yourself, your feelings, and what is important to you, means you can handle it. No matter what comes back at you, feel secure in what you know and believe, about yourself and how it impacted you. No one can argue with your feelings.
- Tell them what you really like instead. Or, make a request if you want something different. They may say no, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Vulnerability is a skill, and a tool, that heals and builds intimate and trusting relationships. When we own what is true for us, and describe that to someone else we build confidence. You are also building your self-esteem. If you are faced with criticism, assault or attack, don’t take it personally. Most people are not used to this level of honesty. Instead, you can be a model for them, and you’ll be surprised how others will respond kindly and with love, instead of attack.
I have found in my life that when I get underneath my annoyance about a certain situation, and really look at what I’m feeling, open up and express it, it is met with gentleness and compassion. When I am vulnerable, something different from what I expect always shows up.
So, take a chance, step into your vulnerability, and see what happens.