The awkward conversation I had to have

At the beginning of this year I felt like I had the proverbial rug pulled out from under me. It felt within weeks I’d gone from being in a loving, committed and fully supportive relationship to being left bereft, bewildered and wondering where the hell the cyclone of convenience came from that swept through to leave me relationally destitute. Or in other terms, felt abandoned, rejected and demoralised. Simply, I was devastated.

Merely weeks earlier I’d been told I was perfect for her (& her kids) and she was blessed for having me in her life. We’d discussed future possibilities, celebrated an anniversary whilst on holiday together…then wham! Her decision came out of left field and I was left spinning for months wondering what on earth had happened. I was caught completely off-guard. Perhaps you’ve experienced a break-up like that too?

Continue reading

When all hell breaks loose, how do you stay anchored?

During storms, during conflict, during stress, how do you remain centred, stay calm with a strong sense of security, and retain your sanity and the substance of who you are?

Wondering how you can build (or perhaps rebuild) values-based resilience and wellbeing?

Looking for a listening ear and need competent confidential counselling?
Need a life coach to walk with you through transition and change?
Need someone anchored to reality during uncertain times? Continue reading

TSOTLS Ch6 – Feelings follow behaviour

Emotions are neither right, nor wrong. They just are. The one truth is that we cannot deny their existence. They is what they is and that’s that.

So why is it that we so frequently look for ways to numb, discount, deny or deprive our emotions? Can we trust our feelings? Continue reading

TSOTLS Ch5 – Any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least.

While it takes two people to create a relationship, it takes only one to end it.

Livingston explores and examines the power struggles that arise in marriages in this thought-provoking chapter.

Instead of focussing on the presenting issues like money, children or sex, he digs deeper to highlight that “the underlying causes are usually diminished self-respect and unmet expectations” summarising that “one party typically feels and expresses less affection and respect than the other”.

 

“It is discouraging to see a couple about to join their lives acting like purchasers of used cars. We require contracts from people we do not trust; they protect us against those we fear will take advantage of us.”

Livingston concludes with these words: “The ground for disappointment and betrayal is prepared. An act of supreme optimism, courage, or foolishness, depending on your point of view, is encouraged to pursue its hopeful course, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is silent.”

Stephen Covey emphasised that one of the keys to success is to begin with the end in mind. I’m preparing an u/18 basketball team for a Grand Final this coming weekend. As their coach my emphasis has been on strengths, success and self-determination with my mantra – “Play with Freedom, not with fear.” My son laughed and called me the Dalai Lama as I sat on a basketball with the team huddled around me at the end of training – “yet another life lesson from dad”.

It would be foolish as a coach to condition the team for losing, for failure, for mistakes. Whilst the outcome is largely out of my control, as I stand on the sidelines I remain influential by staying engaged and involved.

There is no doubt that Livingston can attest to the emerging and repeating patterns of marital breakdown.  And certainly the statistics in the Aussie context back this up.

Is Livingston merely hard-hearted? Cynical? Critical? Or honest and real? In my experience he’s spot on! The person who cares least is the one in control.

So where does that leave us, you and me, the ones who care? Do we remain guarded, self-protective, and always withholding a part of ourselves for fear of being on the receiving end?  True, that is an option. We could choose to become the ones who care-less, but what if that means we become inauthentic to our very self?

Multiple voices express the notion in various forms that it is better to have loved and lost, that life itself is found most fulfilling when we experience the ideal “to love and be loved”.  Is this mere romantic rainbow-clad sentimentality?

Anyone who has had their heart broken, (and lets face it, who hasn’t!) knows the pain, anguish and self-questioning that results.  Am I not loveable? Is there something wrong with me? Did I give too much? Did I make a poor choice of partner in the first place?

There is no doubt I’m a hope-full romantic at heart, but I confess that I struggle to see hope in someone being there for me long-term and I ask myself – have our Western consumerist appetites eaten away our own hearts for successfully enjoying long-term loving relationships?

At times like this finding solace in friendships, family, healthy routines and things we are good at and find enjoyment in become important stabilisers when life beings to spin as our hearts weep.  Ultimately though, we must come to a place of being able to look ourselves in the mirror and whilst grieving, accept the loss of love, and take hold of the hope that love will come around again.

Love is not about control. It is not about who’s deserving. It’s not about being worthy.  We so often mistake love for what we receive, how we feel, what we get…yet love is about giving, sacrifice, being other-centred. Only we have charge over those choices. Love with freedom, not with fear. 🙂

 

What’s next? TSOTLS Ch 4: The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas.

“The slender threads of causality are rewoven and reinterpreted as we attempt to explain to ourselves and others how we became the people we are.”

There is no doubting that our past influences our present state. Counsellors and psychologists worldwide are familiar with the impact, influence and often ongoing unexamined integration ones family of origin (FOO) has on why we as individuals act the way we do. We long for meaning. We long for connection. We long for authenticity, to be.

Continue reading

Illogical Logic…TSOTLS Ch3 – “It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not placed there by logic in the first place”

So here’s my take on this chapter on illogical logic: Paradigms prohibit personal growth; possibilities prioritise personal growth.

Continue reading

TSOTLS -Ch2: We are what we do.

Welcome to week 2 of this blog series.  For those who missed week 1 you can check out If the map is wrong and if you’d like to know the context that led to doing this series you can read Mid-Career Confidence Crash.

“We are not what we think, or what we say, or how we feel. We are what we do.” Livingston states this simple profound and pertinent truth.

He does so after drawing out the reality of his psychiatric experience where people would come to him seeking medication as a quick fix for their mood, mental health or mere boredom with life. They primarily wanted to minimise the pain, downplay the depression and despair, or desperation for the capacity to better manage their own emotions & thoughts as they battle unsatisfying daily routines.

His message: “The good news is that we have effective treatments for the symptoms of depression; the bad news is that medication will not make you happy. Happiness is not simply the absence of despair. It is an affirmative state in which our lives have both meaning and pleasure.”

Continue reading