16 Things You Already Know About Love, But Need to Be Reminded of Everyday

16 Things You Already Know About Love, But Need to Be Reminded of Everyday

Rumi, the 13th-Century Persian poet and Sufi mystic said,

"Your task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

We're a culture that's damn confused about love. Partially because actually choosing love is a rigorous spiritual discipline. If it were simple, it wouldn't hold the transformative power that deep, spiritual practice promises.

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7 Ways Your Lack of Trust is Toxic: Why Trust is the Answer for Letting Go, Restoring Pleasure, And Playing Again

7 Ways Your Lack of Trust is Toxic: Why Trust is the Answer for Letting Go, Restoring Pleasure, And Playing Again

This week I sat with a client who finds it hard to trust at times. Can you relate? I certainly can. Occasionally in my life, I've found myself in a rut of not trusting, and generally (though not intentionally) sucking the fun out of everything because I just can't surrender control.

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How Your Addictions Keep You Emotionally Unavailable

How Your Addictions Keep You Emotionally Unavailable

Alright, let's just be honest here. Most of us (all?) have had our moments with addictions. A big claim, I know. Here's how I define addiction. An addiction is something we choose to do (usually something repetitive) instead of feeling how we feel. We go outside ourselves and reach for something when we can't tolerate or metabolize the level of emotional stress present in our bodies.

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Are You Mothering Yourself Well Enough? Probably Not.

It often happens in my practice that a certain theme will emerge over a week or a few weeks. Suddenly, out of nowhere, 75% of my sessions will be about the same thing. When that happens, it tells me that the theme is universal and there's A LOT MORE people who also need help with that particular issue.

If you're reading this, that probably means you.

Recently, that theme is adulthood and self parenting.

You will need parenting until the day you die.

Not only that, but while your parents will hopefully provide love and support forever, you are the one you need parenting from.

We all understand that at some point, our parents hand over responsibility for us to us.

We begin caring for ourselves financially. We decide how we're going to eat. We provide our own shelter, exercise, and entertainment. We make decisions for ourselves.

Essentially, being an adult means that we're the ones parenting ourselves.

parenting
parenting

The part, though, that we don't usually understand is that being in charge of ourselves means meeting our emotional needs as well. Just like that was mom and dad's responsibility when we were young. Now it's ours.

I find that people's relationship to parenting themselves is directly related to the way their parents did it.

If your parents didn't welcome your emotions, you're unlikely to be very compassionate with your feelings.

If they were good at celebrating your accomplishments, you probably are too.

If they didn't listen to you or hear you accurately, you may not know how to access your inner guidance or trust yourself.

If they didn't provide loving words, actions, tone, and touch, you probably don't give that to yourself either.

If they knew how to have down time and connect with you, you probably know when you need rest and how to nourish yourself with alone time.

And (this one's a BIG one) if they didn't know how to attune to you and try to understand you so that they could know what you needed and offer it, you probably won't know how to do that for yourself either.

Unless you learn how to.

Parenting (yourself) is a skill. And you can learn it.

Learning how to parent yourself is very, very possible. Actually, it's necessary to living an embodied, happy, peaceful, adult life.

And the beautiful thing about it is that as we learn to offer ourselves what we need, we also heal our childhood hurts. So while there's room for feeling the pain of where your parents may have fallen short, this is your responsibility now.

Without this skill, we look outside ourselves (especially to partners) to parent us and meet needs that are actually our responsibility. So we approach the world or our partner as a boy or a girl looking for what we didn't get (or still aren't getting) from mom or dad, not as a man or a woman looking for a partner.

You can start now.

Pay attention to how you're reacting to this post. Get quiet with yourself for a moment and notice if deep down (or not so deep down) this idea scares you, excites you, makes you anxious, inspires you, or feels like a relief. Or whatever else is there.

Are you noticing any thoughts like, "Ugh, won't I ever be able to relax and be loved by someone else without having to do it for myself?" "I'm already X years old and haven't learned this yet. I'm so behind!" "How on earth am I ever going to get this?"

If you're having thoughts that sound anything like that, underneath you're likely feeling sad, scared, ashamed, or something else that could use your attention.

Now imagine that there's a little kid in the room with you and they said to you, "Mama (or Papa), I'm scared. What if I'll never learn?"

Hopefully you don't respond to them with, "Oh, come on, that's stupid. Get over it." nor do you ignore them. Hopefully, you lovingly hear their fear, help make space for it, and soothe them with your presence, touch, or just your love.

You can do the same thing for yourself.

father and son
father and son

If you can make contact with what you feel, you can learn how to parent yourself. (And if you can't make contact with what you feel, you can learn that too!)

It takes practice, but I know it's possible to learn because I'm teaching it to people every day!

What do you think? Do you agree that you need parenting sometimes? Can you see places where you're good at being with yourself and others where you're not? Will you try relating to yourself this way? Leave me a comment below and tell me about it. And be sure to check back for my response!

And if this spoke to you, please share it on Facebook or other social media.

With love,

Laura

P.S. If having healthy relationships is a value for you, you don't want to miss future posts. Sign up for free updates here!

You Don't Want Your Marriage to End in Divorce, Heartbreak, Loneliness. What to Avoid.

You've heard the statistics around divorce. Last I heard, something like half of marriages in the US end in divorce. Yikes. I don't know about you, but I'm heartbroken thinking of all the suffering, shattered dreams, and confused kids. If you've been through it, or known someone who's been through divorce, you know how hard it is.

If you ask a lot of people why the divorce rate is so high, they'll cite things like affairs, conflicts around money, or growing apart.

I beg to differ. All of those things are still symptoms of bigger, underlying issues our culture holds around intimate partnerships.

divorce
divorce

I think it's time for a cultural revolution (evolution, actually) around how we view intimate partnerships and marriage. In the meantime, though, here's where I think we're going wrong. I believe these things are responsible for the high divorce rate.

  • We blame the relationship or our partner when our expectations aren't met. When shit gets real and we realize we're not living the fantasy, rather than addressing it head on and getting support, our commitment wavers.
  • We're confused about what marriage is and what it'll actually feel like. Often in marriage, people feel lonely, misunderstood, unimportant, etc. Getting married doesn't take our painful feelings away. They stick around and can even intensify.
  • We aren't taught that relationships are hard and that all our shit is gonna come up. So when it does, instead of knowing how to go inside and do our inner work around what's coming up, we blame or think it's a problem with the relationship.
  • We get married for the wrong reasons. One client of mine shared that she got married to get her "normal" card. Marriages need to be built on more than that in order to sustain.
  • We fall into the rut of cultural gender biases and lose touch with our authentic choices about how we want to live life. An example is where there's pressure on the man to be a "good husband" by providing for the family and keeping it all together, or pressure on the woman to be a "good wife and mother" by managing the household and keeping the children perfectly cared for. Living in these ruts when they're not what we want doesn't work for the long haul, and it significantly inhibits our ability to play.
  • We haven't yet learned that being an adult means that we're now the parent of ourselves, taking care not only of our physical needs, but also our emotional needs. Many of us don't know how to do this yet, so we look to our partner to parent us, which means that we show up to the relationship young rather than as an adult. (More about this in a future post. Don't miss it!)
  • We look to the marriage for safety and security. Perhaps sometimes it provides this, but we forget that deep, intimate relationship is also inherently unsafe. Meaning that we will probably get hurt along the way, but most people don't talk about that or try to forget it.
  • There's a cultural stigma around seeking help. We view therapy as something sick people or troubled people do, so couples don't get the support they need before they're in the red zone (if at all), at which point it's hard to create repair. Couples need to talk about the issues in their relationships.
  • We make vows we can't help but break and don't choose to renegotiate them to be ever more current, giving our relationships that extra care and attention.
  • We don't realize that intimate relationship this deep requires even more self care, even more work. The cultural ideas of "settling down" or "finally finding the one" imply rest, and while rest is part of marriage, in order to show up to the relationship as an adult, it takes work.
  • We as a culture are immature in that we don't know how to tolerate negative feelings very well, which makes it hard to be skillful with our feelings in a marriage.

So, what do you think? Do you agree? Do you have anything to add? Have you been through a divorce? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Now, this post wouldn't be complete if I didn't also mention that divorce isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are definitely cases where divorce is the healthiest choice for all involved and I've seen those instances first-hand too.

If you liked this post, I'd love you to share it on Facebook or other social media. Thanks!

All my best,

Laura

P.S. Don't miss other free updates from me! I write every week.

What to Do With Your Expectations

The other day I had a session with a beautiful and courageous woman who had a big realization. She realized that in romantic partnership, she comes in with a script for how her partner is supposed to respond to her. What he's supposed to say, what tone she'd like to hear it in, and exactly what it looks like for him to "get it right."

And yep, you guessed it. If he didn't "get it right," he was wrong.

papyrus-63004_640
papyrus-63004_640

Sound familiar? We all do this sometimes. I know I have.

She'd honed this script over many years so she knew exactly what she wanted. On one hand, her clarity is admirable.

But on another hand, as she so bravely discovered, it was a set up for her to feel disappointed and betrayed over and over again.

She and I are doing some powerful healing work around what it is she really feels disappointed and betrayed about, so that she can get even more freedom from this, but that part is between she and I.

I see this all the time when I work with couples. It's so common that we have an idea of how our partner is supposed to be, what they're supposed to say, or how they're supposed to do it. Been there?

It's like there's a book called, "How Exactly to Be With Mary" as if there's only one way.

Don't get me wrong, it's good to know what you want. But, when you've got that tight a handle on how things need to be, there's no room for your partner to be who they are.

And then you're not really in a relationship any more. You're in some kind of a power struggle.

So, if you find yourself doing this and you can see the ways it's negatively impacting your connection, you probably want to work on it.

Here's how:

Consider how you feel when your partner doesn't follow the script. Angry? Betrayed? Afraid? Confused? Take a few moments to get curious about this.

Notice how that emotion feels in your body. Do you get smaller? Tight? Less present? Warm? See if you can map the bodily experience of that emotion. Do this all very slowly.

Now, does this feel familiar? Do you remember feeling this way before? When you were young?

Don't try to answer these questions, but rather open them up and just see what awarenesses or memories or sensations come up. If you're confused about this, you can always see a therapist to help you get more clear about the connections here.

If the feelings you feel when your partner doesn't follow the script seem familiar to you, they probably are. And in present day they might have less to do with your partner and more to do with that old familiarity.

Practice this the next time you notice yourself expecting a narrow window of response from your partner.

And leave me a comment below! Have you ever caught yourself having a script for your partner and making them wrong if they didn't follow it? Have you been on the receiving end of someone else's expectation in this way? I'd love to hear about it.

And finally, I'd just love it if you'd share this on Facebook.

All my best,

Laura

P.S. - If you like this post, you'll wanna know that I write every week. Don't miss future posts!

Your Broken Heart Wants to Heal. How to Soothe Yourself.

Breakups are so hard! Believe me, I know. I've been through some really terrible ones that have taken a long time to get over.

For me, these are often times where I've cried and felt the pain and felt really regressed back to a younger, more insecure, more vulnerable version of myself.

You know about that, right? You do things that don't seem like yourself. You say things that sound like a younger version of you. You feel pain you thought you'd already worked through.

lonely
lonely

But here's the thing. If what you're experiencing is heartbreak, then your heart can actually break open and while it'll still hurt, it's expansive and eventually leads to something deeply beautiful.

So when I see folks who seem like they're imploding, contracting, and really struggling with a breakup, what's actually causing them pain is that they're triggered.

Their fear of abandonment is activated. And it happens to everyone sometimes.

See, our early experiences of love (and therefore our imprints about what love is) got blended together with a bunch of other things that weren't love.

In our early relationships with those closest to us, we likely experienced love, but also fear that that love wouldn't be there or would go away. Remember that we're talking about the stage when we were a pretty helpless little infant and the relationship and the love was our source of everything---food, comfort, warmth, shelter, etc.

So if mom or dad didn't pick us up and hold us enough of the time when we wanted it, or if we experienced other early "misses" in the attunement, it might have felt really scary to us or like the world isn't a safe place.

And that's a really visceral feeling that happens in our bodies, in our nervous systems, and then we can live through it again as adults when it gets triggered. Like in the case of a breakup.

Which is why breakups can feel like the world is ending. Like we're not valuable. Like something is very, very wrong. Like we're so confused at how the person who was "our person" now isn't.

So, when this part of us gets activated by a breakup, by loss, by death, or even by an argument that has you fear breaking up, it's good to know how to take care of yourself in it.

Here are some ways to really amp up your self care and work towards healing when your fear of abandonment gets activated:

  • Spend some gentle, quiet time with yourself and just feel how you feel. Don't go so deep into it that it's overwhelming, but just take sips of the feeling to get a taste of your emotions. Be gentle with yourself, welcoming the emotion, and letting it be there. Keep feeling what's happening in your body.
  • Watch for ways that you might rush to fill in the feeling of emptiness with other things---new experiences, keeping busy, food, friends, new partners, etc. Check in with yourself about whether these things help you dull the pain. Feeling good is important, because now is a time to really do things you love, but it's also a time when it's easy to self abandon through numbing out, which, as you might guess, just keeps the abandonment trigger activated.
  • Keep the focus on you. When our abandonment is triggered, it's really easy to make it about the other person---how special they are, how what you shared is so unique, or how you're certain you're supposed to be together. When you make it about them, you miss the opportunity to care deeply for yourself. Bring it back to you by being with your emotions without making any meaning of them, sharing some kind words with the little girl or boy inside you, and fine tuning your self care. This way you don't self abandon.
  • Do things that feel loving. The most important thing is to really send the message to the little one inside you that you're there. You're not leaving too. You're paying attention, you're listening, you're soothing them. So what does that for you? Journaling? Meditation? Baths? Playing your favorite game? Massage? Sleeping well? Eating clean food?
  • Finally...therapy! When we have these early wounds opened up, we have a great opportunity to do some body-based healing work to help bring our system back into a regulated state. That'll help ensure this experience gets to be growthful, healing, and productive, rather than further wounding.

I hope that helps you! As always, share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Have you experienced this before? What helped you while you were in it? What do you want to remember if you ever go through this again?

Also, I'd be ever so grateful if you'd share this post on Facebook. Thank you.

All my love,

Laura

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How to Get Married in Community

It's wedding season! I haven't attended any weddings yet this year, but last year's wedding season was a big one for me. I went to SIX.

They were beautiful. I loved each of them. I felt really blessed to attend because each of those weddings was an authentic, soulful expression of the couple themselves and their community.

None of these couples made concessions to dull down their authenticity for the sake of someone else.

They did what they wanted to do: got married outside, called in the directions, let the kids play loudly and joyfully off to the side during the ceremony, told guests to wear whatever they wanted, had a camping wedding, made it potluck, etc. Each ceremony was uniquely them.

Which, I realized, was a gift to me, which I in turn get to give back to them.

I'll explain.

wedding circle
wedding circle

See, a lot of couples give in to the pressures and expectations of their families about how their wedding is supposed to go. They get married under their parent's faith, invite people they don't want there, etc. I'm sure you've been to those weddings.

I don't want to judge them because I know how intense those family pressures can be.

But because each of the weddings I attended last year was truly authentic, that means it was an expression of the unique, never-before-created energy or flavor that naturally arises when these two people come together. We as guests (their community) got to witness and really see them.

Coupleship is a community affair.

That's the gift to me---that I got to really witness and drink in the beauty of what gets created in their union that wasn't fully possible just with one of them.

For one couple, I got that together, they're messengers of love, dedicated to the heart. For another, I saw how they were all about play and fun, constantly laughing together. And for yet another, their union was an offering to Soul, for their togetherness to be used to serve the Holy.

What a gift to me! Each of these things occurred to me as really good medicine. Important reminders and a deep lessons about the many faces of healthy relationship. I felt so nourished by each of these ceremonies.

And now, as a community member, as someone who witnessed what these couples are about together, I have an important role. This is where I get to give back.

I get to help remind them of who they are when they forget. I get to remember the essence of them and therefore help invoke it when it seems it's shrunk away or worn out. And I get to go to them when I need that medicine so that they get the opportunity to be in service with their unique teaching.

Relationships are hard. And I believe that they all need the support of community.

Ironically, the couple can't do it alone!

Married or not, it's healthy to let your relationship be seen by your community---the beautiful parts worth celebrating and the particular struggles you have together. Let them see the beauty and the muck and be willing to look behind the curtain of other's relationships too.

Sit with other couples and have honest conversations about where you struggle together and where you're proud of yourselves. It can be such a relief to realize that other couples struggle too! And to get good mirroring and support about what they see in you two together.

Have fun with it!

And please, leave me a comment below. Have you been to weddings like the ones I describe? What did they do that inspired you? Has your coupleship benefitted from community? Tell me about it below.

And I'd love it if you'd share this on Facebook. Especially with those about to be married or those you've celebrated their weddings with.

With love for this community,

Laura

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