It hit me as I watched the freshly hatched Black Turtles find their way down the beach to the ocean. These creatures are unambivalent about following their instincts. When the naturalist set them free, just hours old, they did exactly what they needed to do to continue their lives the way they were meant to. As I stood there in awe, I asked the expert, “How do they know where the ocean is?” He smiled, put his hand up to his ear and answered simply, “They listen for the water.” His words stuck with me.
I thought of all the times that I emphatically point out to clients and workshop participants that their new potential partner is telling them everything they need to know about him/herself, very early on. All they need to do is to want to hear it and to listen carefully. The next step is to get in touch with their inner wisdom and follow its guidance in order to make the right choice about proceeding or retreating from the possible relationship. This process can actually be accomplished in a very matter-of-fact way, just like the method of the Black Turtles of Costa Rica.
These turtles did not hesitate. They heard the water immediately and followed the sound to the ocean. Not one of the fifty babies ever looked back or tried to go in the opposite direction.
So, poke your head out of your protective shell, open your ears immediately and listen to what your potential partner is telling you about him/herself, NOT what you would like them to be telling you. Then, follow your inner wisdom exactly where it is guiding you. If the turtles of Costa Rica can do it, so can you. Love is waiting…
How do I dare put those two words in the same title? I dare because they belong together. How so? Divorce can often bring with it enormous pain, difficulty, fear, uncertainty, anger, and sadness. No matter how difficult your process is, or has been, I challenge you to discover exactly what you are grateful for. I’ll take this a step further, what is it that you feel grateful for that directly relates to your difficult divorce?
Are you grateful that you discovered a strength and resiliency that you never knew you had before? Is it your independent spirit that has surfaced which you appreciate? Maybe you are thankful that a pressing tension has been lifted, whether you chose to leave the marriage or not. Perhaps you are grateful that whatever held you back from accomplishing your goals in your past relationship has been removed and you are free now to make them happen. Has your divorce opened you up and made you more comfortable asking those close to you for emotional support? Are you beginning new friendships? Can you now relate to your children in a more open and relaxed manner than previously?
There are countless more divorce related reasons to feel gratitude during Thanksgiving and always. It’s up to you to find them. The negatives may jump out first, so dig past them and choose gratitude. I learned to do it, and I know you can too.
As I sat on the couch reading while the storm progressed, I was taken back to another turbulent and uncertain time in my life which felt somehow similar; my divorce. As I encouraged myself to remain calm in the face of the storm, the fierce sound of the wind and the rain rattling my home, shook my confidence as well. The analogy became crystal clear, because it elicited the same vaguely panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach.
In preparation for “Sandy,” much like my divorce, I had done what I could do to be ready. I had procured my flashlights, candles, and nonperishable foods. I had filled up large pots and my bathtub with water. I had cancelled all appointments to stay safe indoors. But still, the anxiety and uncertainty crept into my being when I felt my vulnerability inside of the old, original French doors of my home.
I had done what I could to prepare for my divorce as well. I had followed my attorney’s instructions down to the last paperwork detail. I had consulted with a financial professional. I had disposed of photos and items that would potentially disturb my “moving on” process. But still, the anxiety and uncertainty crept into my being when I felt my vulnerability in an unknown life, different than I had ever expected or anticipated.
So, if you’re out there weathering the storm or coping with divorce, know that you’re not alone and that your feelings are perfectly normal and understandable. Even as you feel the anxiety, try to see the opportunity in the face of challenge. For me, during the storm, I took the opportunity to connect with loved ones, check on them, and let them know that I care. I prepared a hot breakfast for my family and ate it leisurely. I got to catch up on all the episodes of Homeland, finally bringing me up to date!
Similarly, but much more profoundly, through the challenge of my divorce, I deepened my relationship with my children, launched a brand new career which I love as a Professional Life Coach, and developed a new intimate relationship which ultimately led me to marry my true soulmate and love of my life.
In both situations, I seized the opportunity to connect spiritually, and to pray with improved consciousness.
I’m sure that I won’t be as chipper if we lose power, but I will try to tap into my inner reserves of strength and search carefully for the opportunity within the challenge. I hope you will too.
Addendum: We did lose power, and it did take my “chipperness” down a notch (or two), but opportunity seized as promised: Great neighborhood sushi place was open with huge TVs – totally awesome! Got home to find power restored and reached out to those in need to come on over – better than awesome; priceless!
During my workshops and seminars, as well as with my individual clients, we talk a lot about projecting confidence and positivity in order to enhance dating success. These qualities are enormously important in drawing potential partners to us. But there’s another crucial ingredient in attracting dates and holding their interest through that first awkward phone call in order to move forward to the first meeting and beyond. That is the “E” Factor – Enthusiasm!
I leave you with these words in order to improve your statistics in moving from the phone call to the date and beyond: Muster up some enthusiasm! If you are not naturally enthusiastic, find whatever topic brings it out in you. For example, if you love to travel, talk animatedly about your favorite trip that you ever took. But more importantly, ask enthusiastic questions about your date’s travel experience, and respond even more enthusiastically. Don’t make it fake; just gear the conversation to the topic that authentically infects you with the “E” Factor.
To know if you’ve been infected, listen to the quality and volume of your voice. Is it even and monotone? Then it hasn’t yet happened for you. Your voice should be fluctuating and at times, becoming a bit louder, with more expression and excitement. Your smile should be evident regularly and your laughter bubbling up easily and naturally. If all that is happening, keep it going. You are likely to infect even the most boring of dates with your contagious enthusiasm. This will leave him/her wanting more and moving along to the date and beyond. It’s an irresistible factor and you can easily project it – today!
When we want to let someone know about an issue that is really important to us, or about a strong preference that we have, how do we bring it across? Our manner can make the crucial difference in the way that we are heard, and it can determine if that someone will get on board with our concern, or not.
Hence, the “Love Sandwich” recipe:
1. Begin with a positive statement which recognizes at least one of the person’s strengths and expresses appreciation for it (ie the first piece of bread)
2. Next, the meat of the sandwich – briefly describe the situation that requires change or improvement, in other words, the constructive criticism.
3. Finally, another positive statement to close the sandwich.
The following sample sandwich may clarify the recipe for you: You recently began dating a man and things are going really well, except, he doesn’t call you as much as you would like and you crave more telephone contact between dates.
One choice of how to approach him might be, “You know, you never call me and I’m so sick of it. What is wrong with you? Don’t you believe in picking up the phone?” Now, he is probably feeling backed against the wall, and the last thing he ever wants to do again is call you, right?
So, it’s time for, you guessed it, “The Love Sandwich.” It could go something like, “You know, I love talking to you on the phone. You really make me laugh and you always help me put things into perspective. (Now for the meat), I would love to talk on the phone with you even more often. (Time to close the sandwich), When I talk to you right before I go to sleep, I always have the best night. Now how do you think he’s feeling? Probably valued and appreciated and quite likely motivated to call you much more often, perhaps even nightly.
So, when you are fed up or frustrated and you’re either going to stuff it down and suppress your feelings, or explode in an overly critical way…take a deep breath, count to ten, and make a “Love Sandwich.” Repeat this recipe; he’ll never tire of it, even when you are married for years. Please let me know how it goes.
I’ve been noticing an intriguing phenomenon with my individual clients as well as with my groups who are going through various phases of divorce. When I encourage participants to identify positive traits that they possess, the activity initially feels very uncomfortable, difficult, and sometimes almost impossible.
However, there is an amazing shift that clients experience when they are gently encouraged to rise to the challenge of the task. Once they actually name the traits out loud, or write them down, the energy shift within them is consistently palpable. Their facial expressions transform from pained and doubtful to flushed and enthusiastic. Suddenly, there is a little smile developing, rosiness in the cheeks, a sparkle in the eyes. Then, the voice tone changes from forlorn to animated, and the conversation begins to explode. It’s almost as if they are beginning to fall for someone – except that someone is actually themself! Witnessing the beginning of that transformation is why I absolutely love what I do.
The process deepens over time as we discuss their positive traits in greater detail and as they fulfill their coaching goals of continually adding new characteristics to the list as they are discovered. As they review the list regularly, they often begin to walk the world with a more positive self-concept and a greater appreciation of their own self-worth.
Want some of this love potion? Here’s how to begin:
1. This week, compose a list of at least 6 positive traits that describe you. These traits can be profound or silly and anything in between. For example, I am honest, I have a great smile, and I make a great omelet. Feel free to exceed 6 traits by as many as you desire.
2. Over the course of the week, add at least 1 trait per day to your list, so that you have compiled a list of a minimum of 12 traits by the end of 7 days.
3. Keep the list accessible and easily visible, for example, on the nightstand next to your bed. There is tremendous power in the written word.
4. Reread your list frequently, preferably nightly, and definitely before dates or singles events. Read it aloud in front of the mirror. Share it with your Life Coach.
5. As time goes on, continue adding traits to your list as they come to you, at least one per week, so that your list grows on with no limits.
6. Reflect upon how you feel during every step of this exercise. Are you experiencing a bit of a love rush? If not, rinse and repeat. If so, go out and show it off.
When we identify positive traits within ourselves, we promote self-love. We begin to know our worth better than we did before, so we make wiser choices of potential partners. We exude greater confidence than we ever did, and this draws dates to us like bees to honey. Confidence is an aphrodisiac, now go out there and cultivate more of it with your list – starting today!
Please feel free to share your lists with me via email, I’d love to read them, and to watch you fall in love with yourself and beyond…
It hit me on the first day of a recent vacation in Riviera Maya, Mexico with my husband (Steve). We found ourselves signing up for an expensive snorkeling excursion as well as a horseback riding trip before we had even hit the beach. Why? We were planning to relax and consider discussing some activity possibilities later on in the trip. What was it that won us over so quickly and definitely? Simple, it was the Tour Representative’s skilled vibe – he had mastered that fine line between “interested and desperate.” Therein lies the dating lesson for all to experience.
As Steve and I rushed through the airport upon arrival, we were approached by several vulture- like tour company representatives who stopped us in our tracks with desperation in their eyes and brightly colored brochures. They were already enthusiastically pitching their raps before they even stood before us. They offered amazing deals and the adventures of a lifetime. What did we want to do? You guessed it, get as far away as possible. With polite no thank yous that deteriorated into emphatic no responses, we hurried past them as quickly as we possibly could.
Flash. Arrival at our hotel. We connect with Gregorio to confirm our reservation for our end of trip transfer to the airport. We are greeted with a warm smile, a confident but casual affirmative response, and the following line, “I’m sure you two want to hit the beach and relax. Whenever you feel like it, I’ll be here in the lobby with lots of fun tours that you may want to hear about later on in your vacation. Have a great time!” Somehow, he had left us interested and wanting more.
Here’s what Gregorio has mastered along with its implication for successfully attracting potential dates:
1. Openly communicate availability, warmth, and interest
2. Know your worth and convey confidence
3. Do not rush others into interaction, encourage it – but don’t push it
4. Exhibit no trace of desperation in your expression or voice
5. Expect positive results from your attempts at interaction
The happy ending? Two amazing and adventurous excursions and a glowing trip advisor review. We can’t wait to return and book more trips with Gregorio, and we’re talking it up to all our friends!
Now get out there, master the vibe, and exponentially improve your dating success! If not, there’s always that amazing snorkeling…
I’m always amazed by how we meticulously formulate carefully thought-out plans for every aspect of our lives; including our careers, our education, our parenting, even our vacations. But when it comes to our love lives, certainly an enormously important aspect of our existence, we sort of get carried along randomly with the current of the ocean, with no plan at all. We get pushed toward physical attraction, pushed toward availability, pushed toward whoever happens to be pursuing us, or pushed toward any number of other potential loves that involve no forethought. Then, after a while, we come up for air and wonder how we ever landed in this bad relationship. Well, here’s a compelling answer: We didn’t start out with a well thought-out plan, and that’s exactly what we need to do. Here’s how to begin…
For the New Year, construct a list of approximately five well thought-out traits that are your “must have” qualities in a partner. This inventory should not be a long laundry list with every possible detail included; just the traits which are “deal breakers” if they are not in place. This is your own personal list of what is truly important to you, not what “should be” important to you. Define each quality very specifically. Try to include enduring character traits that would still be in place 10 years from now. Write out your list, taking advantage of the power of the written word, and reread it often.
Beginning with the first few sentences of conversation with a potential partner, actively listen for evidence that possibly shows that this person possesses your “must have” traits. Of course, you will need to get to know him/her a lot better to determine for sure; what you are looking to detect now, is the POTENTIAL that the person has the key qualities that you selected. Keep checking back with your list regularly as your interactions progress.
For the sake of a simple and concrete example, if it happens to be really important to you that your potential partner be a family minded person, ask what he/she did last weekend or on his last vacation. Listen for who he/she was with. Was it a family member? Ask a few more similar questions and see if there’s a pattern of plans with close relatives or on the other hand, if a brother, sister, parent, son, daughter, or cousin is never mentioned. You will ascertain fairly quickly, if this individual potentially possesses your “must have” trait of family mindedness. This method will probably be more effective then asking outright, “are you family minded?” Often the response to that type of question will be a guess of what he/she thinks you would like to hear.
Here’s the kicker: Make a commitment to yourself to be flexible about all other traits that are not on your list. You will definitely find qualities that you are not thrilled about, but you can learn to accept the person as a total package, the same way that you would want to be accepted with all of your wonderful strengths and weaknesses.
Now embrace the New Year, and get out there and use your well thought-out plan to find new love. Instead of wondering later on how you landed in a bad relationship, you will hopefully know exactly how you found the right one: By following your very own blueprint.
The courage of my clients and workshop participants inspires me so profoundly, that each day, I renew and strengthen my belief that we can do whatever we set our minds to. Individuals whose marriages have ended after 20, 30, and even 40 years turn to coaching because they know that with the extra push and support, they can search for love, intimacy, and companionship again. Whether it was their choice or not to leave the marriage, they are often feeling as though they have been beaten up emotionally; they have suffered feelings of rejection, anger, confusion, fear, and despair. Through it all, as they work tenaciously to heal, they venture bravely out of their comfort zones and into the unknown world of internet dating.
During and post-divorce, gutsy women put on their high heels, even if they can hardly walk in them, get their hair done to perfection, dress in their most flattering outfits, and smile for the camera. To complete their project, they overcome their anxiety and nervousness at any age and face what is most difficult for many of us: Articulating our strengths. There is no way around that when we write a narrative for an internet dating site. It is the advertisement of who we are. The process of expressing what it is that sets us apart from all others is in itself transformative, before we even post it on our profiles.
Being terrified of rejection does not stand in their way; it is a human condition that they work to get past. They know that they will have to develop a tough skin for the lumps and bumps of the dating world. They don’t yet know exactly how absolutely fabulous they are, they are just embarking on a journey to find out. Their courage, spunk, determination, resilience and spectacular qualities are already crystal clear to me. With butterflies in their stomachs, and a little wobble on their heels, they move forward cautiously, with hope and courage in their beautiful hearts.
Inspired by an incredible recent conference that I attended, “The Internal Family Systems Model,” I’ve been thinking a lot about the parts of each of us that holds us back from whatever it is we really want to achieve. If we allow ourselves to get to know these parts, as the model suggests, in a curious and compassionate way, we may just find our ticket out of the swamp and onto the fast lane of the highway toward our goals.
So, how do we get to know our “parts” and has this Life Coach gone completely mad? The first answer is actually quite simple, and then, you can assess the second one. Here’s the step by step breakdown, when you have privacy and are in a comfortable and private environment:
1. Identify a goal you would like to achieve but are feeling held back from. For example, beginning internet dating.
2. Ask yourself, “What is the part of me that is holding me back?” For example, “My shy part is holding me back.”
3. Begin opening your heart to that part, in this example, your shy part, and get curious about it.
4. Ask the shy part (or whatever part you’re working with) open ended questions as if it were a friend that you were helping with an issue. Examples of questions would be: What is your job? Why do you feel you need to do that job? What are you afraid would happen if you didn’t do that job? What do you (my part) need from me? Continue with any other questions that feel right to you. Take your time.
5. Treat whatever answers come up compassionately, without judgment, the way you would treat a vulnerable friend during discussion of his/her issue.
6. Be prepared to discover some surprising and insightful answers from your part. An example of an answer from a shy part might be, “If I didn’t do my job of protecting you, you might face rejection the way you did as a teenager.” Reassure your part that you hear and understand what it’s about.
I hope that you access the courage to take a leap of faith and try this “Internal Family Systems” exercise. If you feel comfortable sharing, I would love to hear from you regarding what you discover as you get to know your parts.