Empathic Understanding

Connection via empathetic understanding is the real connection between two people and is the most endearing act of love and honor which one can present to another. This connection is the most meaningful part of any relationship. You know it. You remember when you’ve felt it. When your friend finishes your sentences, when you’ve had a strong bond with a teacher or mentor, you felt connected, understood.

You know this. Yet, surprisingly, I see a lack of empathetic understanding as the underlying indicator of trouble ahead in the most important relationships, between lovers. Maybe you felt a connected and/or understood in the beginning (though that was likely a more powerful driving force than connection) but after a while, you realize that the connection you felt was simply you projecting your desire to be connected and understood onto your partner.

When you’re in the projection mode, you see everything interpreted through your special lens which is rose-colored and sees synchronicity in all things. Following the passing of time, things that used to be “cute” are becoming annoying, and you’re no longer feeling as though you are connected or understood, as you once thought you were.

When you’re projecting your feelings onto your interpretation of another person, you feel as though they are feeling your feelings, even when no such connection exists.

It is this feeling of another’s feelings that Stephen Covey refers to as his, “Habit number 5: Seek first to understand then to be understood” in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This is the connection which exemplifies the highest integrity and connection between two people, whether used in business relationships, or more importantly, at home. It is a powerful connection which promotes and deepens respect, trust, and intimacy.

This simple method of joining the worlds of two people into a united vision felt by two is the secret of the most successful relationships. Sometimes it just happens organically, and the two people don’t even know they are doing it. For the rest of us, we need to first understand the concept before we can even think about attempting such a thing. And it’s on you to proactively take the first step.

Understanding is not giving advice, being over-protective, or fixing things for another person. Empathetic understanding is simply the process of actively listening, inviting them to dig deeper, and even more deeply, until they have gotten it all out, while you are using your imagination to feel what it might be like to be in that other person’s shoes, empathizing with him or her.

Empathetic Understanding

If you’re unaccustomed to this higher level of listening, it may take some practice. Creating a safe and sacred atmosphere can be an important component when someone is sharing something close to their heart, so eliminating distractors, such as the TV, music playing in the background, or retreating to a place where more privacy can be established are excellent ways to honor your partner’s sharing.

Nodding your head and looking them in the eye indicates you’re listening, while you are resisting your inclination to interrupt or interject when they are sharing. Let them speak their piece and listen carefully. When they pause, simply try to restate what they just said in your own words, starting with, “Let me see if I get what you’re saying…”

Then ask them if there’s anything more they’d like to say about that? And let them continue. Repeat this as many times as necessary, until they’ve announced that’s all they have to say.

Rather than give in to the urge to counsel or help him or her fix something your partner is concerned about, after first imagining what he or she might be feeling, feeling it as though you were feeling them yourself, offer up validation of your partner’s feelings. Something like, “Wow, you must have felt devastated.” And allow them to either agree with you or reclarify what they are feeling about what they were sharing. If they reclarify, imagine what it would feel like from that perspective.

If you have different opinions about something like your partner was terrified by a ride at the amusement park and you found it exhilarating, you can validate your partner’s feelings while agreeing to allow each other the right to their own experience. For instance, you might say, “I can feel how terrified you must have been on that ride,” (empathy, and continue) “but I was having the time of my life.” It’s okay to have different points of view, but very important to deeply understand where your partner is coming from and honor them by allowing them to have their experience any way they want to.

If they’ve intimated their story to you devoid of feelings, it might be helpful to lightly probe and encourage them to share their feelings by simply asking, “How did that make you feel?”

I think you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level.

Relationship Skills for a Better Life

Since you do not live in a vacuum, you are surrounded by a wide variety of people who add color and depth to your human experience, how you manage these people (or how they manage you) are based on your relationship skills.

Relationships come in all shapes and sizes from spousal, cohabitation, familial, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Sometimes, family (our closest relationships) are the most difficult to manage.

Probably, the most important skill you can have in managing your relationships is communication. How adept or inept you are at demonstrating your communication skills can have a huge impact on the relationships you manage.

It’s pretty apparent if you possess pathetic communication skills. For instance, people constantly misunderstand what you’re trying to say, you are prone to get into heated debates (even though you may feel like you’re winning), and your emotions run high when you are talking to someone about something that is important to you (and more likely, not positive emotions). Is it any wonder people are less likely to want to be in your presence?

By building your relationship skills, you can develop deeper, more meaningful relationships, which promotes more success, abundance, and happiness in your life.

Some things you might consider in building your relationship skills might be,

When a conversation is heading into difficult territory, avoid bringing up the past. By staying current, you and the other participants are less likely to be defensive of fill like they’re being attacked.

Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What might it look like from their point of view, having lived the life they’ve lived? Sticking to your guns, and not allowing someone to see, think of feel differently, only causes separation, while allowing people to be who they are creates more affinity.

Pay attention to what they’re saying. Use active listening skills by repeating what they’ve said in your own words to acknowledge them and let them know you’re understanding what they’re saying.

When somebody says something that is contrary to what you might believe, or you’re feeling criticized or challenged, don’t ready yourself for a battle. Try not to be so defensive, and respond with an affirmative, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And if they try to pick a fight, don’t let them drag you into destructive banter. Stay your ground and remain positive.

Give up the idea of winning and seek ways you can arrive at compromise. Finding a way to compromise means “everyone wins.” Avoid win/lose conversations or situations, and don’t settle for win/lose compromise where one party is making all the concessions. Make sure both parties give-in and both parties get some of the important things they wanted.

If the conversation is getting heated and emotions are rising, take a break. Agree to do something else for a pre-determined amount of time and return to the subject at hand, after taking a break, when you are refreshed and can revisit the topic with clear heads and hearts.

Blaming someone never accomplishes anything but causing more division. Find ways to take responsibility for whatever you can. This helps to relieve the pressure, plus it gives you more control, the more responsibility you take. Why? Because you’re the only one who can control you.

If you think things are getting away from you, then seek a coach, counselor or consultant who can advise and act as a mediator to break through any barriers you may be facing.

Make time to cultivate your relationships. Don’t let texting or social media be your only connection method. There’s nothing that compares to authentic face-to-face time. Create opportunities for more in-person conversation, leading to a deeper, more meaningful connection.

It’s not just enough to be in the presence of someone, like at a movie, or a conference. Make time for a little face-to-face interaction before, after, or during breaks to communicate and interconnect directly.

If you’re not in the habit of it, be bold enough to freak out your friends and family by calling them via voice phone (no texting allowed, here) for no other reason, just to say, “Hi,” without any agenda, other than to let them know you were thinking about him or her.

If someone is important to you, let them know, even if only in some small way. Send them a note, or some small token of your affection, thanking them for being a positive influence in your life. These people help give your life meaning.

If your relationship is built on a foundation of love, don’t be afraid to let them know, if not by words, then by touching them appropriately while communicating with them, or greet them with a light hug or some other appropriate gesture.

Signs of a Bad Relationship

If you’ve found this searching the Internet looking for signs of a bad relationship because you might be with the wrong person, there’s a good chance that you may be courting the wrong person. What do you do when you find yourself loving the wrong person? You start expending some effort to see if you can cut off a potential disaster before tying the knot. The last thing you want to do is to wake up one day discovering you’ve married the wrong person.

If you’re already married, you may be saying, “I married the wrong person. What do i do now?” First of all, we all can hope that you’re over-reacting. Often after you’ve committed and made vows to love someone else no matter what, no matter what is waiting in the wings to make a laughing stock out of you. Love can sometimes be a cruel joke. Nonetheless you don’t want to think, “I married the wrong person.” Or find yourself asking, “Did i marry the wrong person?” Chances are things are not as bad as you think, you’re just having second thoughts (like buyer’s remorse), but if you have married the wrong person, here are some signs of a bad relationship.

Obvious Bad Signs

Some of the easiest signs determining you’re not in a healthy relationship are the ones that are painfully obvious, such as sharing more negative energy when you’re together than positive, engaging in harmful habits such as drinking, smoking, laziness, gambling, addictive behavior, lying, angry outbursts with a veiled (or overt) threat of violence, or clear signs of a lack of self control i.e. over-reacting, overeating, overspending or unexpected credit charges.

Lack of Integrity

In a healthy relationship, you can depend on your partner. You know if they’ve told you he or she was going to do something, you can rest assured that it will be done. If you’re not in a healthy relationship, promises are made but rarely kept and important integrous signs will be lacking, such as trustworthiness and dependability. If someone is not integrous, they may be disingenuous, selfish, and also lack empathy, warmth or have the ability to maintain any meaningful connectedness.

How Do You Feel About You?

When you first met, you had a relatively fair amount of self esteem and found yourself enjoying life. But since your hookup with your partner you’re finding how you feel about yourself and the things that you find joy participating in, thinking or daydreaming about on a rapid decline. In healthy relationships, as you spend time with your partner, you feel better about yourself and find ways to enjoy life together, even if the things you do together are markedly different from the things that you used to do before you met.

You Are Not Encouraged or Supported

You can take an honest look at your life and review your personal growth since you’ve been together. Does he or she have a positive influence on you, encouraging you to life a better life full of more fulfillment and happiness? This is what you should expect from a great partner, who is a supportive team player. It’s a huge red flag, if your partner puts you down, doesn’t support and offer to help you with projects that are meaningful to you, or worse yet, puts you down or laughs at these things.

If your growth is hindered and is not supported, there is no team. And relationships are the ultimate team, where lives are delicately balanced. If you can’t think of ways you’ve supported and encouraged each other to grow, or haven’t grown together, this is not a good sign.

When You Are Not Around

What does he or she do (or not do) when you’re not around? If he or she lives one life when you are around and a completely different life when you’re not around, chances are you are living separate lives. This is a clear indication that your lives are not compatible. If effective relationships, partners share each other’s interests and give and take. If their lives are compatible, they can find consistency in the lives they live, even if they are separated, the tone remains constant and stable. And if he or she is not mindful of you when he or she is away, there is no intention of maintaining a connection (even if only a text or emoticon). Not a good sign.

The Blame Game

If you, or your partner, is blaming the other for not being able to live a better life, this is not a good sign. It’s one thing to blame your partner to his or her face, but if you do blame or complain about them behind their back, to your family and friends, the damage is more dreadful and the effects more far-reaching. If either of you cannot keep a handle on your potential to blame the other person, you will never feel like this could possibly be a healthy relationship.

The Silent Treatment

If you find your partner cutting you off, stonewalling, or giving you the silent treatment when they are not getting their way, or for any reason, they may be blocking you from participating in his or her life in any significant way. If you cannot find ways to communicate and reach out to each other, even in difficult times, no good could come from this.

Lack of Connection

If there is a strong emotional attraction, it’s easy to overlook how deep your intellectual connection is. After a while, though, you start to see your conversations have no deeper meaning, it all seems so superficial and lacking substance. They seem friendly and talkative enough, but there is just surface talk, mostly centered on them and/or their past experiences. Wonder why they aren’t more interested in the meaningful details of your life? The answer is simple; they’re not that interested in you. If you stop to think about it, and realize that you know more about our partner than your partner knows about you, there’s a good chance you’re paired up with someone who is far more concerned with themselves than you, and possibly a narcissist.

Criminal Background

A criminal background could be a huge red flag, but before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, consider that while many people feel that people cannot change, I have been in the change business for X Years a long time. People can change, but it doesn’t come easy. If your partner is honest and upfront about their less than integrous past and they sound like they are taking full responsibility for where they’ve come from and how they’re changing their life (they are not blaming anyone or anything for their circumstance or behavior), and you can see and feel the difference, you may be witnessing a metamorphosis. Even so, you should proceed with caution, because just as likely that you may be witnessing a real transformation, you could be set up to be the next victim of a psychopath. You must decide what you can live with, just be careful.

Your Loved Ones Are Cautioning You

Your relationship should never be controlled by others, because often our friends and family truly do not have your best interests at heart. Sadly, it is true more often than not, that our friends and relatives are far more selfish about us and our connections to others than they could ever see or admit. They just know they are hurt or jealous because someone else is getting the best of you. But, if you’re seeing a pattern among the people who love you the most and you are finding they are sincerely concerned about your relationship with your partner, consider they might be able to see something from their vantage point you might not be able to see from your own. So, if the people you care about the most, and you know they care about you likewise, and they’re urging you get out, you might want to tale a look around to see if their concerns have merit.

Something’s Just Not Right

If you find yourself in a relationship that looks good on the surface, you know you have no reason that you can put your finger on indicating that something may be amiss, yet you feel something in your stomach or heart that just doesn’t seem right about it, this may be your inner voice or intuition telling you that things are not as they seem. Start to recognize your inner guidance systems attempt to warn and protect you from potential unwarranted exposure or harm. If you are certain these feelings are not from some other medical condition or in response to questionable restaurant shrimp, start looking for clues as to whether or not this relationship is in your best interest.

Weigh the Pros and Cons

If you’re thinking about taking a deeper look at your relationship and possibly calling it quits, take the precaution of looking at the statistics, just to prove to yourself that your concerns are not just based on mood or wavering emotions. To do this, simply create a basic T Chart and on one side list all the positive things about your relationship. On the other side, list all the negative things. Reviewing the list may help bring you back into a sense of calm as you realize the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. On the other hand, if the relationship clearly has more negatives than positives, it might be a good idea to start taking a closer look at your partner, and asking yourself if it’s not time to think about putting an end to it.

My intention is not to dissuade you from being in the relationship that you are currently engaged in, but there is no doubt that you deserve an awesomely healthy relationship so that you can enjoy all this life has to offer. Hopefully, you are not in a toxic relationship and fortunate enough to consider these things prior to marriage, if not, you are in a far more precarious position.

Sometimes bailing out is not the answer, if there is hope for change and finding a new path that you and your partner can travel together. But if it looks like there is more pain than gain along the way, and you’re seeing signs of relationship ending, just realizing you are on different paths and honoring this fact by allowing your partner to go on without you, may be the best option as you walk away and let it go. Feel free to seek advice and opinions from others but keep in mind that these people are not you. Only you can and must make your own decisions and ultimately it is you that reaps the rewards or consequences of your decisions. Be cognoscente and smart and follow your heart.

What a Man Wants

What a man wants in a woman

If you peruse the latest editions of the contemporary magazines, you will likely discover that the publishers pretty much agree on what it is that men seek in a woman to have a long-term relationship including the possibility of marriage and building a life together.

The general consensus is that men are looking for an optimistic woman who is not over confident or suspicious and a good homemaker.

Armed with that information, women in search of a long-term relationship, willing to exchange wedding vows, will try to key in on these characteristics with the hope of attracting their respective Prince Charming.

While well-intended magazines and tabloids try to help women get the men and relationships they are looking for, they are disappointed when the man bids her adieu, protesting “But I was everything he could possibly want. Why would he leave?”

It could be the things you were told (even if you were to ask the men directly) what a man wants, are not as accurate in real life romance.

What does a man really want in a woman?

What a man really wants is an attractive, independent woman without drama, who he can enjoy life with.

Attractive

There needs to be an initial attraction. While much attention is focused on physical attraction, there is much more to attraction than simply one’s physical appearance. Men find women who know how to dress up for a formal event as well as dress down for a casual play date at the park, or a hike in the woods.

A man likes a woman’s natural beauty, as well as their adeptness at applying makeup. Too much of one or the other may cause him to seek which one that is lacking elsewhere.

Avoiding routine and suggesting a bit of spontaneity is also seen as an attractive trait in a woman.

Independent

Forget trying to be a helpless weakling if you’re looking for a solid long-term relationship today, and forget taking dating advice from your mother or grandmother. Times have changed and so have the men. They don’t need someone to make them feel good about themselves (which was valid through the fifties and early sixties).

A man wants a woman who is more his equal, someone he can share all the elements of his life with. So, if you want a man who has a sense of purpose, is confident and secure in himself then you need to bring the qualities you seek to the table also.

The day of the subservient housewife is diminishing as men are more attracted to a partner in life, a confident woman who has her own sense of purpose, has the necessary space in her life to support and encourage him to embrace his own goals and ideals.

Work together when appropriate or feasible, but carve out plenty of together time also, when aspirations are set aside for focusing on each other in tandem.

No Drama

How do you deal when your relationship is visited by Miss Interpretation?

It’s easy for men and women to have misunderstandings when seeing things from individual perspectives. How you deal with these items when they appear will determine how interested a man will be in committing to a long-term relationship.

A wise woman will state her perception/interpretation while delineating her feelings and not accusing or threatening the man when facing a potential misunderstanding. This also sets the pace for the man as he is more likely to explain his point of view without feeling threatened which could escalate the issue at hand.

We are all entitled to our feelings and communication is encouraged without having to project one’s feelings on your partner. An emotionally sound woman will embrace a clear communication style without unnecessary drama.

Enjoy Life

Everyone has to find their own joy. Try to match yourself with someone who enjoys the same things in life that you do. When you can have playful fun with activities representing common interests, this helps strengthen the attachment bond between two people.

Expressing yourself, your wishes and dreams with a man is a intellectual approach to relationship building but most men are more kinesthetic. That is to say men are more likely to develop a deep sense of attachment by doing things together, rather than talking about them.

Find meaningful and enjoyable things to do together and lay a firm foundation for a long-lasting relationship that can stand the test of time.

Relationship Truth and the Soulmate List

Okay, you asked for it, so here it is: The truth about romantic relationships is that most of them (the successful ones) take work. Sure you have to have all the components…

Broken heart

First you have to start without a broken heart. If you’re looking for mister or miss right, you have to be ready to have a relationship. That means, if you’ve been in one prior, you’d best get a handle on recovery from your previous romantic episode before you go running headlong into the next one, otherwise, you’re just not ready. That’s the truth.

Lonely

“But I’m lonely and don’t want to be alone.”

Okay, I get that. But how long do you expect someone to stick around if they are unable to stand the whirlwind you bring to the table. If he/she reminds you of your ex- either you’re still hung up on your ex- (and not ready to be seeing anyone. See Broken Heart, above) or you’re attracting the same type of person (and how did that work the last time?).

Get Busy

Get busy doing the things that make you feel good, the things that you love. If you’re feeling good all the time, you don’t have the time (or energy) to feel depressed or lonely. I try to stay busy, focused on my clients and spending quality time with my friends (who, unfortunately all are paired up, but fun nonetheless). I can always relax and take time off for her, after I’ve found her.

Awakenings

When you start to realize these things, you can either forge forward with little regard to them or start to wake up to the music. The title of the song you want to hear from within is, “Do Something Different,” or learn to find happiness in the same old types of relationships that you’ve had in the past.

soul mate relationship truth soulmate broken heart lonely awakenings the truth

I have this formula that I use; maybe you will find it helpful for you (maybe not). I call it my

Soulmate List

I have a list of fifty-or-so attributes that I am looking for. In an extra-large font, it takes up three pages.

I came up with the idea, while working with a coach and mentor in Florida, who had used some of these techniques to find her life-long soulmate (that’s what I’m looking for, too) and I’ve added my own tweaks to form a new system. Briefly, it goes, like this:

1a. To first make a list of all the things that you didn’t like in the men in your past relationship.

1b. Then go over the list and translate those into a list of positive attributes (the opposites) that you would look for in Mr. Right. (Ditch the negative list.)

2. Next, make a list of all the things that you liked (or thought you liked) in the men in your previous relationships.

3. Combine the two lists of positive attributes, and you’re almost there…

4. Then, being as specific as you can, think of all the attributes that you would like that aren’t already on the list. (The Floridian coach cautioned me not to leave anything off, because she had neglected to put down, “Physically healthy,” on her list, and wished she had, later.)

Then she says read the list every day, out-loud, once in the morning and once in the evening, and you will get what you confess.

I told the story to my grief counselor, he thinks it’s a great idea and is going to start using that model in his practice.

If you decide to give-it-a-go, I’d like to see your list. (It’s also a great way to turn around some of the pain of past relationships and turn them into positive attributes. It keeps you from focusing on the garbage, leading to real healing.)

The Real Truth

Finally, the real truth is this: My intention was to write and create a book based on this system called, “The Soul Mate List,” with the intention of telling my world’s greatest love story of all time and describe how I found the love of my life quickly and easily using my system.

I find that this system has been highly effective in preventing me from being sidetracked by potential romances that were not my highest and best (nor I theirs). = WIN

On the other hand, seven years… No soul mate… LOL