Looking Back 26 Years Ago… Life’s Experience

Twenty-six years ago today was one of my greatest life’s experiences, my amazing son was born.  I have teased him for years about how he had a head the size of an orange… and now at 26 he is, of course, much taller than I am, and a grown man.

I think back to those days of being a new mother and I see how I’ve changed over two and a half decades.  Back then, I expected my son’s father to know what I needed.  I felt shy about asking (even though I felt very challenged by my new circumstances) because I thought that if he really loved me, he’d just know!!  How many of us have made that mistake of believing that others are mind-readers?  Part of it was that I didn’t want to be a bother (I have a long familial history of that one!) and part of it was that I thought motherhood should be a breeze.  I remember nursing him every two hours, day and night, and doing all the baby laundry and then feeling bad that the house didn’t look like a show home and a perfect dinner wasn’t on the table.

That was a very hard time in my life.  Because of all the “should”s in my life (he should know what I needed; motherhood should be easy etc.) I really didn’t take very good care of myself.  In retrospect, I realize that I should have sat down and honestly shared my challenges with his dad so we could have brainstormed solutions together.  Instead, I suffered in relative silence and wound up leaving the relationship when our son was 3.

If I’d know then what I know now… things would have been different.  Of course we all know that hindsight is 20/20!

How do I handle things today?  I am much clearer on my needs.  I take steps to do what I need to do to take care of myself.  When I have a request of another person, I have more skills to be able to ask in effective ways.  When I feel trapped, I recognize that I always have choices.  I have communication skills to try to work things out instead of being silent and building resentment until the point I can’t take it any longer… and leave.  I have the courage to speak my truth now in a way that I didn’t back then.

These are my reflections today, on my son’s 26th birthday.  I celebrate my journey of motherhood although there were many times that it wasn’t easy.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and how a growing child’s needs change – and how to be sensitive to that.  I really believe that it’s about equipping our children for full functioning in the world.

I’m so grateful for my life’s experiences, counseling sessions, courses, training, reading, discussions etc. that have brought me to where I am today.  This is something that I bring to my coaching clients: a wealth of life’s experience and a fierce commitment to self-awareness and growth!

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Why Do We Ignore Red Flags?

Have you ever recognized red flags at the beginning of dating someone, but then chosen to go ahead anyway?  Have you realized later on that you should have heeded those warning signs?
Why do we ignore those red flags?

I think there are many reasons.  We want to be loved, and many of us have made the choice to ignore the danger signals because we want someone special in our life.  We have a tendency when we first start dating someone to see all the positive traits and to minimize the negative traits.  We tend to see all our similarities and to discount significant differences in values, life vision etc.

Many people want to be part of a couple.  Perhaps they believe there is a social stigma about being single.  Perhaps their couple friends no longer invite them, or they feel like the odd person out.  Being part of a couple may open social doors that might otherwise be closed.

We may ignore red flags because we are lonely – and even an unsuitable partner is better than no partner at all.

Sometimes people ignore the red flags because they don’t want to end the relationship for fear of hurting another’s feelings, or not being “nice.”

And if you’re coming from a place of scarcity thinking, you may believe that if you let this one go, there may not be another one, so you have to settle for what you have.

You may choose to ignore the red flags because of the financial or emotional security you feel with a person…

Maybe you ignore the red flags because of a great sexual connection.

Sometimes you tolerate the red flags simply because they are so familiar.

There are many reasons why we choose to go ahead even though we see some danger signs at the beginning.

Unfortunately, later on, these red flags will likely become deal-breakers, and will make a relationship unsustainable.  Often with a breakup there is disappointment and heartache.

How can you do things differently?  For one thing you need to balance your head with your heart when dating.  Take the time to be aware, instead of getting caught up in the excitement of a new potential partner.  Talk to your friends and family and pay attention to any concerns they may have.  Take your time… Slow things down.  Be aware of their behaviours.  Listen to your inner wisdom.

Next week I’ll talk about some common red flags and how they are different from minor annoyances!

Have you been aware of red flags and proceeded anyway?  What were your reasons?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

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Learning through a Loving Relationship

I was the poster child for a happy single.  I celebrated doing whatever I wanted, however I wanted, whenever I wanted.  I loved not having to consider anyone else.  I filled my time with meaningful friendships, fun activities, thought-provoking and/or entertaining books, my journal.  I had come to the point at which I was very happy with my life.  I felt “ripe and ready” for a relationship, and I was very clear that I wouldn’t settle.

I wasn’t looking for a relationship.  I had an online profile, but it was hidden.  I invested lots of time in my coaching practice and I was perfectly content.

Then I met someone.  He came to one of my live events.  We met the following week to discuss ideas for upcoming events, and talked for hours and hours about “real” issues like authenticity and vulnerability.  We met again and talked for hours and hours… We have some shared interests and we have shared values but what is most meaningful to me, I think, is that we have made the commitment to ourselves and each other to be fearlessly authentic and transparent.  This takes a LOT of courage and self-awareness.  It feels risky at times.  It gives us both an opportunity to explore our shadow sides in a safe and loving environment.  This is the most honest I’ve ever been in a relationship and it feels good.

In my upcoming blogs, I’m going to share some of my challenges and insights.  How am I actually using the skills and capacities that I teach my coaching clients?  I have to say that my coaching training has made a HUGE difference in my ability to be a [mostly!] highly-functioning partner.

All those activities I enjoyed when I was single – like friendships, reading books, writing in my journal… I still do those, by the way!

I hope I will inspire you to hold the vision of love for yourself, and to do the inner work necessary to be ready for the relationship of your dreams!

Stay tuned…

 

 

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Choosing the Wise, not the Easy, Path

Falling in love is so compelling.  We appreciate the companionship, the touch, the sense of belonging, the chemistry and the euphoria when we first meet someone and we think we’ve found “the One” at last!  A cocktail of feel-good hormones is rushing through our bloodstream… but what if one person really isn’t ready to be in a relationship?

I have a client who has done a lot of personal work and she believes she is ready for a relationship.  We’ve gone through my Relationship Readiness Quiz and she has given herself a high score.  We’ve talked about areas where she might need a little work, but she’s at a place in her life where she is really ready to date.

She met a man recently who is not ready for a relationship.  He recognizes that he has some things he needs to attend to before he can be the partner he truly wants to be.  They love spending time together.  They communicate well.  They have fun… but they are both aware of the red flags.

So… what should they do?  Should they proceed hoping that the red flags won’t interfere with the co-creation of a healthy relationship?  Should they be “just friends” for a while and see how it goes?  Should they go their separate ways?  What they have decided to do is to take a 6-month break, then re-assess after that period of time.  Does it feel risky?  Yes.  Neither knows what will happen in that 6-month period but he knows he needs to do some work.  Might she meet someone else?  It’s a definite possibility but they have made this decision because they agree this is the only way to have a strong foundation for a healthy relationship… whether or not it’s with each other.

This seems to me to be the wise path.  It’s not the easy path.  They enjoy their time together and bring out the best in one another.  As a relationship coach I have supported her in taking this step so they can both come from a place of health and stability.

Have you ever made a conscious decision to part from someone because that’s the wisest choice?  What has been your experience in trying to have a healthy relationship when one person really isn’t ready?  Please leave your comments below!

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Intimacy and Autonomy

I was preparing for a presentation recently on “self care in relationships.”  I came across a wonderful quote by John Welwood  in a book called “Love and Relationships: Inspirations for Meditation and Spiritual Growth” by Eileen Campbell.

One of the biggest challenges in relationships is the push/pull dynamic of intimacy vs. autonomy.  We want to be close to someone… yet we fear losing ourselves.  We pull away to establish more autonomy and then we long for the closeness.  This is what John Welwood says:

At the core of our existence, we all experience the basic ache of feeling separate.  We long to be united with someone or something outside of ourselves, so that we do not have to feel this ache so sharply.  So when we finally find someone we feel close to, it may seem like a kind of salvation – no longer must we wander this lonely world all by ourselves.  Yet in satisfying our urge to merge, it is all too easy to become submerged in a relationship, waking up one day to realize that we have lost something essential – ourself!

Relationships always involve this kind of fluctuation between bonding with another and maintaining our integrity as individuals, yielding to our partner and asserting ourselves, reaching out and going deep within.

How do we achieve this delicate balance?  How do we not lose ourselves in relationship?  This is a huge issue and one that is ideal to work on with a coach, a therapist or a counsellor.  All too often we repeat old patterns completely unaware of them until we are deeply mired in unhealthy behaviour.   Having someone with perspective can help us see when we are either losing ourselves or withdrawing too much.

To me, a healthy relationship is about having self-awareness and being able to communicate clearly what is going on with your partner.  This is how true intimacy is created – intimacy that thrives on healthy autonomy, not on losing yourself.

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Feeling the dating fear, honouring the feelings, being curious … and doing it anyway!

I’m passionate about my vision, my mission, my calling – to help people to date more consciously and to have more loving relationships with others and themselves.  I’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes.  I’ve been keeping journals since I was 16 years old so I have all the ups and downs of my love life documented (and have made a mutual agreement with a close friend to burn our journals upon our passing!).  I’ve taken lots of courses, read lots of books, done lots of blogging, helped close friends… but playing it safe and being invisible really wasn’t serving anybody.  It wasn’t getting my message out into the world and it wasn’t stretching me.  I was happily in my comfort zone, but quite stuck.

Public speaking is a strategy for getting out there: so that people could get great information and get a sense of who I am and where I come from but, frankly, the thought of standing up in front of a group was terrifying for me.  I had lots of “but what if’s???” and I imagined feeling so exposed!  Yikes!  I felt the fear.  I honoured the fear.  I started getting curious about the fear.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  How old was that part of me that was so scared of getting up in front of people?  Is it really true that people would be there to judge me – or were they there to learn?

I joined Toastmasters so I could get some experience in front of a group.  I could feel my heart pounding before giving even a short toast (about 1 minute!)  but I survived!  In preparing for my first public presentation  last month I had sleepless nights punctuated by feelings of dread and overwhelm.

Interestingly, after I’d prepared my talk and all the handouts (and some small prizes) I wasn’t nervous!  Interestingly, after all the dread I had about how badly it might go… I actually enjoyed it!  I’m looking forward to the next one!  I focus on how I can connect with my audience and how I can be of service.  I took the risk and got in touch with a gift I hadn’t realized that I had!

How does this story apply to you and dating?  For many people, dating is very nerve-wracking.  Feel the dating fear.  Where do you notice it in your body?  If you are observing safe dating practices like meeting in public, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  If you’ve allotted 20-30 minutes for a coffee date it’s not forever and you can always end things sooner if your date is rude or unpleasant.  How old is the part of you that is dreading the date?  Maybe feeling like a 5 or 6 year old on the first day of school?  You’re an adult now and you have a lot more resources and coping mechanisms than you did back then.

You can stay home and be invisible – but how are you going to share your gifts with a beloved partner if you never get out and meet people?   Yes, it can feel risky to put yourself out like that, but you never know what magic can happen when you take that first step!

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Don't want to be another divorce statistic?

I was speaking to one of the participants in a recent workshop.  He told he that he’s not going to get married again (3rd time) because he doesn’t want to be yet another divorce statistic.  He thought the answer was not to get married.  Well, that’s one strategy… but another far healthier one, in my opinion, is to do the work needed to be able to co-create a lasting relationship!

What are the biggest issues I see with singles?  For women, lack of self-esteem is a big one.  Another is not really knowing themselves.  Many have been married for a decade or more and have focused all their energy on their husband’s or their kids’ needs.  Who are they, themselves?

The biggest issue with single men is a lack of confidence in knowing how to ask for a date and how to carry on a conversation.  I see some low self-esteem issues but they seem more challenged by the mechanics of dating itself.  How can you tell if a woman is interested in you?  How can you ask her out without seeming creepy?

The great thing about working with a relationship expert is that you will have these issues, and more, addressed so you actually CAN have a healthy relationship.  I have a Relationship Readiness Quiz for singles with ten questions to assess your readiness today for dating.  For example, you might be very happy with your career, but do you actually have the time to put into dating?  If your career is all-consuming you won’t have the time or the energy to put into meeting people and getting to know them.  I think it’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we are ready to date when we aren’t.  If you’d like to take the test, send me an email and I’ll send one to you.  I’d be happy to do a follow-up phone call to discuss your results.

In summary, you can bypass being another divorce statistic – not by avoiding marriage but by becoming more conscious in your dating!  This is what I can help you with,  so please reach out and contact me!

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The Importance of Being Prepared Before Dating

I meet many singles who just want to get out there and date and forget the importance of being prepared before dat.  “How do I meet people for dating?” is their primary question.  What I’d like to see as being the primary question is “What do I need to do to be prepared to date?”

I came up with an analogy recently.  What if you and someone you had just met decided that you wanted to start a garden together.  Each of you had done a little gardening in the past but with mixed results.  You figure there’s nothing to it: just put some seeds in the soil and in time you have a nice garden!

You may discover that your seeds don’t actually thrive.  You needed to prepare the soil first, but you didn’t know that.  You’ve planted sun-loving crops in shady areas.  You didn’t know that.  You just assumed that the other person would take responsibility for watering… but you didn’t discuss it.  Your plants aren’t doing so well.  And it turns out that your partner can’t stand zucchini but you planted lots of it because everyone else does.

This is what I see in a lot of relationships these days.  People dive right in figuring that no preparation is required and if their partner is “the One” then it should all be easy.  Many people want the crops without the work, and it doesn’t work that way (unless you buy your produce at the store and I haven’t figured out how that works with long-term relationships!)

The divorce rates are sobering and the percentages of marriages that end in divorce gets higher with second and third marriages.  People who don’t get prepared by being clear on who they are and what they want, who don’t recognize their patterns, who don’t learn how to communicate effectively and how to resolve conflict… they don’t have much hope for a healthy, lasting, loving relationship, in my opinion.

What can you do to increase your chances of lasting love?  Do the inner work!  Get the help you need!

I offer programs that help you to discover who you are and to get ready for dating… before you ask “How can I meet people for dating?”  I want you to be successful, and I can help you.

Let’s talk!  Here’s how you can contact me: http://lovecoachlynn.com/contact/

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Is Your Date a "keeper"?

It’s important to be clear on what you are looking for when dating and what you will not accept. Obviously, rude behaviour, chronic lateness, a lack of interest in you, commitments and promises that aren’t kept… these are obvious red flags.

Something else to watch for, which may be less obvious at first, is what we call “top dog, bottom dog.” Have you ever had the experience where you feel diminished by someone else? Do you find yourself not speaking up or finding that the other person takes up so much space that you struggle to be seen or heard? Or have you ever dated someone who defers to you regularly? Do you walk all over him? Maybe you are very successful in many areas of your life and you start, rather unkindly, to see him as a “loser.”

Neither of these situations bodes well for a future together. In my own life I’ve experienced being both top dog and bottom dog with different men I’ve dated. When I feel like the top dog it’s hard for me to respect my date. When I’m bottom dog I lose myself and, frankly, it just takes too much energy to carve out a space for myself.

Ideally, you and your date will be more evenly matched. In some areas you will excel and in other areas he will, but in a more balanced way. If one of you is overwhelmingly top or bottom dog, your likelihood of success is low.

As you get to know someone, keep this concept of top dog/bottom dog in mind and if you find that you aren’t a good match, move on!

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Expressing Appreciation

What role does appreciation play in your life?  Sometimes life can be very challenging and we can feel so stretched that we forget to take the time to appreciate our blessings and our gifts.

If this is a new practice to you, you can start with appreciating yourself.  Which qualities to you admire in yourself?  Are you courageous?  Kind?  Generous?  Do you stick with commitments even when they’re hard?  Do you appreciate your body for getting you around?  Your sense of taste, your ability to smell beautiful fragrances?

How often do you express appreciation to others?  I remember Marshall Rosenberg (Nonviolent Communication) saying that if a student tells him that he’s a “great teacher” it really doesn’t mean that much to him because it’s not very specific.  However, if a student were to tell him that Nonviolent Communication has allowed him or her to engage in more authentic relationships with more honesty – that would be much more meaningful.  How can you specifically tell people that you appreciate them?  I recently told an old friend how much I enjoy his company because I feel like I can truly be myself.  A friend who works in a store shared with me that a customer called her manager recently to commend her for providing such excellent service.  It made her day!

You have a choice.  You can go through life with a glass half empty or you can choose to see your glass as half full.  One of the most powerful ways for me to live with an open heart is to look for ways to appreciate myself and celebrate them, and to be aware of my appreciation for others and to express it to them.  This is a gift that benefits both people!  Give it a try!

 

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