What do you expect from your relationship?

November 17, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Posted in Emotional honesty | 2 Comments
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I’ve been listening to an audio version of Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, and recently heard a familiar idea posed in a brand new way.

Tolle writes about the impossible expectation that many of us have that when we find the “right” lover, spouse, or friend, we’re going to experience a transcendently joyful relationship. Quite a few of us seem to believe that a relationship is going to make us happier. Tolle points out, however, that relationships are meant to teach us, not necessarily bring us bliss. Certainly, relationships can bring us love and deep fulfillment, but the discomfort or heartbreak we also can feel is designed to help us learn and express who we are and also discover more about the other person.

I agree with this concept – how about you? What have you learned through a recent relational conflict?

Imagine how our families and communities would be transformed if each of us could embrace the opportunity in conflict . . . if we didn’t avoid it or get explosive about it but were committed to exploring it together and better understanding each other’s needs. What incredible light and truth would fill our lives and our world.

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How do you keep your love alive? Try affirmation.

October 14, 2008 at 10:46 pm | Posted in Affirmation | 4 Comments
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What do you suppose this woman has just told this slightly amused-looking man?

• “Not here, John!”
• “No, you didn’t really tell my mother that story!”
• “We’ve been dating for 3 years now, don’t you know I love you?”

Or, perhaps, this guy has just received an affirmation from his friend, a few encouraging words about an aspect of his character – “John, I really admire how calm and steady you are, you always put me at ease.”

It’s words of affirmation like this – when spoken by someone you trust — that help you feel valued and cared for. At times when you’re discouraged and insecure, words of affirmation also can remind you of who you are and help you get back on track.

You may have been told that receiving too many compliments will give you a big head, but I disagree. Experience tells me that when I receive honest affirmation from someone who truly knows me, I feel humbled and just want to keep embodying the qualities my friend says are true about me.

Setting the intention to be affirming to others is one of the most loving gifts you can give someone. Begin by looking for those qualities that you appreciate most about your partner, spouse or best friend, then communicate how you feel. Try at least one affirmation a day to start.

Can you recall the last time you were affirmed or you affirmed someone else? How did it make you feel?

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How do you keep your love alive?

October 2, 2008 at 5:57 pm | Posted in love | 1 Comment
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It’s one of the most dizzying and blissful feelings in the world, being in love. However, after the first few heart-pounding months whiz by, there generally comes a season for exploring deeper emotional sharing . . . a time for the practical and demanding process of learning to love another human being. This second phase of love can feel impossibly tough, especially if you have little idea how to step beyond trying just to get your own needs met.

In his book, “Here and Now,” the spiritual writer, Henri Nouwen, comments on our human desire for love and connection, and the complexity that goes along with developing emotional closeness:

“The other, who for a while may have offered us an experience of wholeness and inner peace, soon proves incapable of giving us lasting happiness and instead of taking away our loneliness only reveals to us its depth. The stronger our expectation that another human being will fulfill our deepest desires, the greater the pain when we are confronted with the limitations of human relationships. And our need for intimacy easily turns into a demand.”

Loving someone often feels like incredibly hard work, doesn’t it? But choosing to engage in deep relationship is the most rewarding work we’ll ever do.

Quality work requires good tools, so here’s one that I believe is absolutely essential in nurturing lasting love. On a regular basis take the time to assess your needs and express them to your loved one. Then listen as the other person shares his/her needs with you. Finally, re-commit to try and meet one another’s needs as much as is humanly possible, not out of duty but out of a desire to care for each other.

What’s one of your most reliable ways to keep love alive?

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How I got over my fear of conflict

August 12, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Posted in Conflict | 7 Comments
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When the mood hit him, my dad was a rager. Very loud and very scary in conflict with others. I believe that much of my difficulty expressing real anger — throughout several decades of my life — springs from often being scared out of my wits by my father’s vitriolic tirades.

When I married I had no tools to guide me in having a difference of opinion with my husband. Unfortunately, my husband lacked tools as well. We were both stuffers, avoiders par excellence, and this ostrich-method had disastrous consequences. Our marriage (the first one) ended after 13 years.

During the years that followed I intentionally sought emotional wellness by reading self-help books, participating in therapy, and practicing a new trust-based way of relating to others. That last piece — practicing — was the key for me. Consciously opening my mouth and saying how I truly felt, with others who cared for me, often felt terrifying . . . yet this was the biggest factor in my getting over my fear of conflict.

Willingly engaging in confrontation still feels slightly unnatural to me. Generally, I have to stop and think about it for a second. But I’m not afraid of it anymore.

When my husband and I remarried more than 10 years ago (that’s right, we chose to try again), I let him know up front that this time I’d be committed to being emotionally honest, that I would no longer run away from conflict. I’m sure there are some days he wishes this wasn’t true (smile), but it’s working for us.

Do you struggle with engaging with conflict? Let me know how you’re overcoming or have overcome your fear.

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I am a former “conflict-a-phobe.”

August 4, 2008 at 7:10 pm | Posted in Conflict | 3 Comments
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I admit it, I used to be scared to death to have a difference of opinion with anyone. When I sensed pending conflict in a conversation or situation, I used to clam up or lie (I was a gifted chameleon), anything to avoid engaging in an unpredictable disagreement that might mushroom into a full-scale argument.

Can you relate?

Or maybe you identify more with “powering up” in conflict, overwhelming someone else with your superior debating skills or your louder, more forceful voice.

Instead of regarding conflict as something to be feared or overcome, consider shifting your perception. What might happen if you chose to regard conflict as a straightforward opportunity for creative growth? After all, does any real change occur in life — whether it happens within yourself or in relationship with others — without a degree of discomfort or struggle?

Let’s talk about this, what are your thoughts? And, if you like, let me know your typical response to conflict.

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Your life is worth living authentically

November 5, 2007 at 7:27 pm | Posted in Authentic Life Events | 1 Comment
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Your life is worth living authentically today.

Not next month or after the first of the year or after your next birthday. Now is your time.

This Wednesday night, November 7, during my Intro to the Authentic Life process, you’ll have a chance to learn more about how you can discover, trust, and express all you’re created to be. Not only will this evening inform you about the benefits and distinctives of the Authentic Life process, but you’ll also get to practice using an experiential tool that illustrates one of the key Authentic Life principles.

Workshop details are included below. For those of you who live in Phoenix, you can also read about it in this morning’s Arizona Republic on the front page of the Arizona Living section (see left-hand column entitled “Make the Most of Your Week.”) Give me a call or send me an email to reserve your seat for Wednesday night’s workshop. Feel free to invite your friends, family members, and colleagues too.

____________________________________________________________________________

ARE YOU READY FOR MORE AUTHENTICITY
IN YOURSELF AND OTHERS?

Are you looking for . . .

• greater clarity for major life transitions?
• richer, more honest relationships?
• a clearer sense of your life purpose?
• a personalized process that exceeds a programmatic approach to growth?

If so, join me for an
Introduction to the Authentic Life process,
a chance to learn how you can be all you’re created to be.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 7:00-8:30pm
Conference Room, Phoenix Public Library, Century branch – 1750 E. Highland, Phoenix
(south side of Colonnade Mall, off the Highland exit, SR-51)

$10 admission per person; feel free to invite friends, family, and colleagues.

For women, men, and couples of all ages.

Facilitated by Ellen Antill, M.A.
Director, Authentic Life Consulting

For more info or to RSVP, call or email Ellen
602.565.5151 ellenantill@cox.net

What will your legacy be? (Part 2)

October 21, 2007 at 11:26 pm | Posted in Legacy | 2 Comments
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happy-boys_000004399705small.jpgThe struggles in our lives can be viewed as obstacles that prevent us from being all we’re created to be . . . or they can be seen as a springboard for our discovery of new meaning and fulfillment. Perhaps, you’re already in the second camp. If not, you may want to consider changing your perception, as I did.

The desire to change generally takes hold in a serious way when you become sick and tired enough of some repetitive event or feeling, i.e., continually getting your heart broken . . . feeling as though you’re a miserable failure because you’re not “perfect” . . . never having a moment to yourself . . . being desperately afraid that your kids will end up with the same issues you have.

That last one — fear that my legacy for my son and daughter would be primarily sorrow — was the motivation I needed 15 years ago to seek a new approach to life.

My transformational process was lengthy and complex, as it is for most people, and involved supportive friends and professionals, experiential learning, journaling, and some important reading. In fact, my change process actually began when I read “Kids Who Carry Our Pain: Breaking the Cycle of Codependency for the Next Generation” by Robert Hemfelt and Paul Warren. This book helped me realize how vital it was to address my lifelong relational hang-ups so I could minimize damage to my children.

This is when I recognized, with the encouragement of others I trusted, that I could let the brokenness of my past inspire me to embrace wholeness and hope instead. It wasn’t an easy growth process, and because I’m human I sure don’t feel whole or hopeful 100% of the time. But I’m committed to ongoing development of a legacy of relational health for my kids and the others in my circle of influence. This approach makes all the difference in my life, my marriage, my parenting, and the work I’m called to do.

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