When the Conversation Stops at How Are You

p12Fellowship has its barriers within any community of care. But this could be the chief of them. It begins as the very first words are uttered from the mouth of a would-be, could-be, or sadder an actual, friend.

Those words are, ‘How are you / going?’

Don’t get me wrong. Those three or four words can initiate a wonderfully intimate conversation, except for two circumstances where they break intimacy in half.

1. Where the conversation stops at ‘Good, thanks,’ and there’s no more enquiry entered into, apart from ‘Okay, great,’ more as to say, ‘I don’t have the time for you,’ ‘I don’t have the time right now, and generally don’t ever,’ or ‘I wasn’t really interested in any more of a response than “Good, thanks” to begin with,’ there’s a problem. The problem should be obvious. Should the question have been asked to begin with? Should we feign intimacy?

2. Where the conversation stops because, awkwardly, the person being asked doesn’t feel comfortable answering honestly. That’s okay. Nobody should apologise for needing to avoid the question. The answer could be a polite, ‘I’m well, thank you,’ if indeed they were well.

In both of the above situations, there is a way to advance intimacy.

In the first situation, if we’re asking the question, we actually need to be interested in their answer, to the extent we’re willing to ask clarifying questions as we enter into meaningful listening dialogue.

In the second situation, we need to discern any sense of awkwardness and respect the space the other person requires, and not be offended that they can’t commit more than that.

If we ask the question genuinely, we could begin to go deeper than simply the offhand ‘how are you?’ which we tend to experience everywhere in our fast-paced world. The exception is where we don’t feel comfortable, for which the code response could be, ‘I’m well, thank you.’

Private Vs Sneaky What Is Your Character

p11I am a very private person. I dated a man that claimed that he was a very private person as well. The only difference that separates us when talking about privacy was our character. Character is often explained so clearly as… “it’s what you do when you think no one is looking.” I can honestly say that there is really nothing that I did while we were together that I could not openly discuss with him. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for his actions during our eight year relationship. Private to him is having many “secret” relationships (many were sexual too), not-disclosing or even acknowledging his relationship status on Facebook (eight years, not a picture of me and him insight anywhere), establishing online dating accounts and online relationships (every time we get into an argument), etc. I do not have a name. I do not exist. If you are truly in love, would you not profound the love of your life? Today’s social media makes it difficult to have a one-on-one relationship. You are in constant competition of the “likes” and as a woman, I can not compete with your 1,879 FB friends. And when caught, it’s the “I am a man” excuse. Because you are a man gives you the right to have sexual relationships and make it excusable?

See, there is a big distinction between private and sneaky. Private to me is keeping my business within my own backyard because it is no one’s business except for the people that are involved. With that said, he’s just plain sneaky.

Living separate lives is sneaky. The life without a girlfriend and the life with a girlfriend when it is convenient for him. He has an innate character to hide things even when it’s not a big deal. In our life together, I have been asked to join him only at events when it involves his family which I can count on one hand. After eight years, you would think I would have joined him at a social event that he was invited to, right? He attends and “forgets” to mention it. And when he slips up, he makes me seem like I am the crazy one as I am being invading his privacy. A relationship is sharing your life. It does not mean I have to be a part of every activity but to exclude me, makes you sneaky. To not share sometimes is simply a lie in disguise.

Relationships Why Do Some People Only Know Who They Are When They Are In A Relationship

p10While some people can find that they can function whether they are with someone or if they are by themselves, there are others who are not in the same position. In this case, one can find that they struggle when they are not with someone.

On the other side, one could find that they it is not possible for them to function in a relationship. As a result of this, they are likely to do everything they can to avoid getting too close to others.

From The Outside

However, if someone was to come across how these people behave, it would be easy for them to come to the conclusion that one of them is healthier than the other. As one of them is drawn to being with others, they could be seen as the one who is comfortable with intimacy.

Whereas when it comes to the person who does what they can to stop themselves from getting to close to others, they could be seen as the one who avoids intimacy. This would show that they have made a surface level assessment and not looked into the other factors that are at play.

Black And White

What this outlook would reflect is the belief that the people who have relationships are comfortable with intimacy and the people who don’t are not. Clearly, if one doesn’t have them there is a strong chance that they have a problem with it.

Yet even if one does have relationships with others, it doesn’t mean that they are comfortable with intimacy. For example, one can be with someone and they may only share their mind and body.

Two Sides

One can then come to believe that they are in a relationship and the people they know can also form the same outlook. If the people around them had this outlook, it could be a sign that they are also experiencing life in the same way.

Thus, through having a surface level relationship themselves, it is not possible for them to recognise when another person experiences life in the same way. Ultimately, this is what is normal and so this is to be expected.

Loss

When one does avoid relationships, it is can be because this is the only way for them to maintain their sense of self. If they get too close to others, they are likely to end up feeling overwhelmed.

During this time, one can feel as though their very survival is under threat, and so this is naturally going to cause them to fear intimacy. It would be easy to down play this experience and to say that one should simply embrace their fear, but this would overlook how painful this can be.

Annihilation

During the time when one is close to another, they can feel as though their life is about to come to an end. Their ability to think will then be offline and their reptile brain will take over.

It is then not going to be possible for them to share their life with another person; the only thing they will be concerned about is protecting themselves. This can show that their younger years were a time when they were neglected and/or abused.

Vulnerable

Through being treated in this way, it wouldn’t have been possible for them to develop boundaries, and this means that their sense of self would have remained undeveloped. So through feeling exposed as a result of what took place during these early years, it stops them from being able to fulfil the rest of their needs.

When someone can’t understand why they would behave in this way, it can be due to the fact that their mind perceives intimacy in another way. This then allows them to feel comfortable with intimacy, and there is no reason for them to experience fear.

The Other Experience

Now, when one is unable to function when they are not in a relationship, it is going to show that they generally don’t feel overwhelmed around others. This then allows them to get close to others without feeling uncomfortable.

However, this doesn’t mean that one is able to maintain their sense of self around another person, as they could end up merging with them. Or if this doesn’t take place, one could end up playing a role.

False-Self

Either way, it is going to be a challenge for them to express their true-self, and as they can’t do this, it could be said that it won’t be possible for them to experience intimacy. The part of them that will allow enable them to feel close to the other person will be in hiding.

The people they end up with are also likely to be in a similar position, and this means they are also going to be wearing a mask, so to speak. Yet the reason why one would put up with these kinds of relationships is likely to be due to their fear of being abandoned.

Undeveloped

As they haven’t developed a sense of self, they need to be with someone in order to feel like a whole human being. Another way of looking at this would be to say that one is not an interdependent human being; they are a dependent human being.

What this is likely to show is that although one looks like an adult, they still feel the same as they did when they were a child. Through feeling this way, it is going to be normal for them to look for another adult make them feel better.

Early Years

In the beginning of their life, they may have had a caregiver who neglected them, and this would have stopped them from getting the attunement that they needed to develop a sense of self. The years have then passed, but the trauma of the past has stayed within them.

Awareness

If one can relate to this and they want to move forward, it will be important for them to reach out for support. This is something that can be provided by a therapist and/or a support group.

3 Ways to Move on From Toxic Relationships

p91. Hear the part of you that is crazy, repetitive and destructive

Half the time we live in agony because we are fearful of facing our doo-doo and think somehow if we avoid it – it will go away – it won’t.

When you accept your mess without trying to push it away, you allow an opportunity for your fears, hurt and anxiety to be released and released for good.

MOST of the suffering you may experience when you break up are the voices in your head telling you – you did this wrong, your ex did that wrong and that somehow you created this hot mess of a bad relationship. Some of those thoughts cycle in a horrible destructive way: “I wasn’t attractive the way he wanted”, I wasn’t young enough”, “I’m not making enough money”… I’m sure you have a long list that goes on and around in circles.

When you hear these thoughts in your mind, the common practice is to ‘focus on positive thoughts’ and push away your negative thoughts. However, that does not work with a break-up because you are so hurt and the hurt is stronger than any positive thoughts you may try to focus on.

You can always focus on the better future you want, but you won’t get over the relationship if you run away from the bad feelings you have in your body and emotional brain.

These bad feelings need to be felt, experienced and released.

Telling yourself to stop focusing on them and to think of something else – is not going to make them go away and only keeps repeating the cycle of negative thoughts and feelings.

2. Turn to a higher power to break the cycle of your negative emotions.

There’s only about a 5 to 10% success for AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) program.

Meaning only 1 out of 15 people who go through the program actually stop drinking. That’s a really LOW success rate considering how popular the AA program is.

So WHY do people keep coming back to AA?

One of the core principles of AA is that they believe in a higher power that has the person’s best interests at heart that champions their success. So even if you “fail” when on the program, there is someone besides you who has got your back. They call it god, on they call on a friend, their sponsor, whatever and whoever it takes, to not rely on the person doing the program by themselves.

Do not rely on you ALONE to make your way out of your mess. You need to call on a higher power or connection to love to take you out or your habits of poor self talk and lack of love.

God has become a dirty word in our modern culture. And that’s because we are sick of religion’s version of god and in desperate search of a personal, loving and transformational version of a higher power.

Your emotional brain is set to destruct when you’ve been in a toxic relationship.

You’ve loved, you’ve been hurt and your emotional brain, your nervous system and your body is living in fear because you have stored up your hurt and you’re like a wounded animal just waiting for someone to strike.

If you have left your relationship and you’re still carrying that hurt or fear (or both – they are always entangled) then you’re going to react from that emotional brain.

The emotional brain is a thousand times more powerful (and older) than any other part of your brain.

It’s important to be able to interrupt the emotional brain with a power that is more powerful than it. And if you try to use your rational-logical brain – it simply isn’t powerful enough.

What has been proven to break the power of the emotional brain, is a feeling of love, comfort, safety and connection to something more powerful than you. That feeling of pure love that you can connect to and you can call it whatever works for you: ‘god’, greater consciousness, a faith in a love that you knew when you were young with a loved one or a character you love from a movie or story. It just has to be the best version of love you can imagine and connect to.

Anything that makes you FEEL connected to a love that is BIGGER than you is necessary to support your emotional brain to begin to feel safe – so you can unlock the negative cycle of hurt and fear that your brain has got itself trapped or ‘hard-wired’ in.

3. Release your hurt in a healthy and empowered way.

The most important way to release your past is in a way that you feel powerful as you are doing that – like a champion who has worked hard and achieved a great reward.

The main reason most people avoid facing hurt in a relationship is they are scared of being a mess or coming across to others like they can’t control their feelings and themselves.

Why is AA only 5 to 10% successful? Why do people go back to drinking if it got them into trouble in the first place?

When you get to a part of you that is hurt, it’s natural to be scared and go to your old habits and ‘soothers’ that took away your fear of the hurt or your fear of not knowing what to do.

One of the reasons you attract the “wrong guy” in a relationship, is because you are being challenged to actually see what parts of you that you are scared to see!

But instead, you blame the “wrong guy” for triggering these deep dark negative cycles of feeling. And then you say, I did something wrong and that’s why I attracted the ‘wrong’ guy.

You’re missing the point.

You’re actually being shown a part of yourself that is desperately wanting to learn HOW to LOVE but you never had the opportunity to learn HOW to LOVE.

When you grow up and you get hurt, no-one teaches you how to be open to hurt or not be fearful of the hurt or to say sorry or to look for someone to help you!

Most of the time, the hurt gets ignored, pushed under the carpet and life continues. Meanwhile, your emotional brain is remembering the hurt and creating the feeling that goes into your nervous system and emotional memory that relationships are not safe for you to express your emotions and hurt is something better to avoid or ignore.

The empowering part of learning HOW TO LOVE when you are hurt is the only healthy way to heal that hurt completely so it can go.

And you can feel a champion when you learn how to feel your hurt and how to ask for help or love.

I have worked with clients who have had decades (or a lifetime!) where they avoided their hurt and fear, but when they learn that it is possible to create a space of love – with you own version of a “higher power” – the shift is immense. Like somehow, they had this secret hero and champion for what they wanted in love and all they need do was connect to the feeling that it’s OK to be hurt, vulnerable and there is an incredible strength in that authenticity and no-one can hurt when they own that.

The biggest joy I have had working with clients is watching them learn their unique and individual way of how to give themselves the space of love required to end the destructive cycle of thoughts and heal the hurt that stopped them from allowing love into their body again.

The negative cycle gets replaced by a different love of who you are that you might not have known before or you may have had glimpses of and with the sessions and practical exercises, they gets to see how powerful they can be.

The sessions open up that space of love within you and your body, so that you don’t have to think about your feelings and you get to experience love that is permanent, and that lasts in your body. That experience of love in the body and the nervous system actually rewires the negative cycle in the emotional brain, until the clients can connect to their own joy, and the power of their unique personal love story.