Personal Growth & Learning From Mistakes

Mario growing.gif

If you’re anything like me, you can still hear that sound. Super Mario Bros. was the first game I ever played on my brand new Nintendo Entertainment System I got for Christmas and I was in heaven. It sparked a love of video games that persists to this day. And that special magic mushroom was so very helpful. You became bigger and harder to defeat. You could take a hit and keep going without having to start the level over. Like our favorite Italian plumber, growth works the same in our lives, too!

Previously I talked about making mistakes and how to handle them in a healthy manner. One thing I touched on at the end was changing behavior, but it’s such a big topic that I wanted to give it a second week of discussion. This week, I’m not talking about the small stuff…those one-off mistakes that don’t impact your partner or your relationships significantly, and we don’t need to make a big deal out of them. Ok, so you bought the creamy peanut butter by mistake instead of the crunchy. It happens. Those are fairly easy to handle without and big, personal investments.

Instead, we’re talking about the BIG stuff: The trauma, the past, the addictions, and the unhealthy coping mechanisms that are no longer serving you. In other words, the pieces of yourself that require healing and personal growth to overcome.

Before we go any further, I need to call something out, and I can’t say this strongly enough: THIS. STUFF. IS. HARD. Though I’m going to be talking about it in more simple or direct terms, I understand how much energy these things require to grow beyond. If you’re struggling in your own growth, definitely do not take this as an example of how you’re failing. You’re not. It’s just that difficult, and your brain doesn’t help.

An amazing friend of mine and self proclaimed neuro nerd, Chris Wilborn, taught me something very important and I want to pass it on to you: Your brain is wired for safety, not performance. This is an incredibly vital piece of information to keep in mind on your personal journey of growth. Your brain is designed to keep you alive, not improve yourself. It’s an evolutionary survival technique and it works like this:

  • You’re alive right now

  • Whatever you’ve done in the past has kept you alive

  • The brain wants to keep you alive

  • Change alters the brains ability to predict the future

  • The best way to increase the future predictability is to keep everything exactly the same as it is right now

The biological part of your brain doesn’t give a shit about your wounds, traumas, or experiences that are holding you back from being the awesome person you envision yourself to be. That’s the consciousness’s concern. The brain just wants you alive so you can reproduce. And it takes a massive amount of intent, effort, and energy for the conscious part of the brain to override that subconscious desire to stay the same. So the first part of personal growth is this: Forgiveness. Offer it to yourself a lot. All the time. You’re not expected to overcome millennia of evolutionary traits easily or perfectly.

In the beginning of this year, I wrote a blog explaining what relationship work is. In that writing I talked about relationship work being a special type of self work, and it is.

A relationship is only as good as the people in it. If you bring to a relationships a history of unhealed abuse, trauma you haven’t dealt with, poor communication skills, a lack of self awareness, emotional immaturity, and an inability to be honest with yourself, you’re going to create a relationship that is powerful in those qualities.

So if you’re dealing with any of the above issues personally, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes in your relationships as you try and deal with them. Before you can even deal with these issues and make the mistakes, though, you have to do one thing:

TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT YOURSELF TO YOURSELF

In twelve step programs, this is Step 4: Making a Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory. This is super hard sometimes, but is a powerful necessity. People have a difficult time with this because, deep down, they know what the truth is.

Scroll of Truth.jpg

Now, I don’t like using ‘fault’. I think ‘responsibility’ is a more accurate word. It’s not about blame. It’s important to note that this is not to say you are in any way responsible for traumas or experiences that were put upon you or that you had no control of. The responsibility for traumas you may have faced at the hands of others is squarely upon their shoulders. But they left you with scars. When not dealt with, those scars create thoughts, beliefs, and patterns in your life that can and will be disruptive to your highest good. That part you are responsible for healing.

Once you understand what the Scroll of Truth is telling you, you have power. Power to see clearly how what’s happened to you has affected you. Power to take action based on information. Power to surrender your past. Finally, power to make new choices that heal yourself and, by extension, your relationships.

Telling the truth about yourself to yourself is the gatekeeper. This is the piece that keeps many people from healing. Once you can do that, or if you even want to do that but need help, the real work can begin. But do not forget that gate once you’ve moved past it. In order to keep moving forward you have to keep telling the truth about yourself to yourself.

Step 1: Become an expert in the thing that is keeping you from healing. Is it childhood abuse? Neglect? Poverty? Learn about how that affects people as adults. Accident that left you afraid of something? Read about how fear affect people and how they overcome it.

Step 2: Become an expert in you! Childhood abuse often manifests in a variety of ways. If you’re a survivor of childhood abuse, you’re going to exhibit certain behaviors, but not all of the behaviors. Which ones? How did that experience manifest in you to affect your life? This doesn’t mean you have to relive traumatic experiences in detailed flashbacks, but understand the coping mechanisms that have been put in place as a result.

Step 3: Find a qualified person or a team of people to help you. Ideally, this would be a therapist, counselor, coach, or doctor of some kind who’s trained in and specializes in what you need. If that’s not available to you for whatever reason, I guarantee there are hundreds of books written on what you need. Find an author and book that speaks to you. Maybe attend a workshop? Find an ongoing class? A support group? Whatever it is, no matter how big or small, take a step.

Step 4: Keep taking steps. There’s no quick fix here. Even if you somehow had a transformative experience and are left feeling like you’re an entirely new person because all of your shit was burned away by the love of God, you still have work to do. You still have to find out who you are now. So keep taking steps and don’t stop.

The bottom line is you have to grow and heal as a person if you want your relationship to grow and be healthy. There’s no other way but through. But the reward is coming out stronger and more resilient than before. And it’s always worth it.

May the best of your past be the worst of your future…

Damien

Navigating Poly: What is Polyamory?

polyarmory.jpg

Today marks the first in a probably infinite part series on polyamory. I’m inspired to begin this series by what I see in my own poly relationship as well as both the monogamous and polyamorous relationships around me. As an ongoing series, new pieces will drop as I’m able to tackle them and put them into words. Poly isn’t always easy to describe or define, which is why I’m going to do my best to start with definitions and explanations below. Enjoy!

Before we go into what poly is, let’s start with some myth busting about what poly is not.

Polyamory is NOT:

  1. Cheating - Ethical polyamory, like ethical monogamy, involves keeping relationship promises about what is and is not ok within the confines of that relationship.

  2. Swinging - Swinging is a different type of non-monogamy that primarily, but not always, deals with sex rather than love.

  3. A constant sex fueled orgy - I mean, it CAN be if that’s what the people involved are into, but it doesn’t have to be.

  4. A way to save your relationship - Like having children won’t save your relationship, adding a third person to an already struggling relationship will make things more challenging, not easier.

So if polyamory isn’t cheating, about sex, or a way to save a relationship, what exactly is it? The most basic definition is this:

Polyamory is a relationship dynamic that allows for those involved to ethically develop romantic and sexual relationships with new people.

This is likely the only universal statement one can make about poly relationships because they differs in quality and quantity far more than monogamous ones do. The three most common examples of poly configurations are:

  1. Closed Triad: Three people, not looking for anyone else, sometimes all three are romantically involved, sometimes only two of them. Either way, all people involved are close, even if that closeness is just as friends.

  2. One Person Dating Multiple: This differs from the Closed Triad in that one person is dating many people that are not involved with each other, even as friends.

  3. Always Open: This type of poly relationship is defined by each participant constantly open to and looking for new relationships.

None of these relationship configurations are based on gender or sexual orientation, but rather an openness and honesty with one’s partners about the relationships one wishes to engage in.

That’s it! Pretty simple! Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Right?

Well, past this most basic of definitions, shit gets really complicated. Not necessarily difficult, but complex. And a understanding of those moving parts is what’s going to make or break a poly relationship. Lemme give you an example…

Before Netflix was a thing, there was Blockbuster. If you are too young to remember, Blockbuster was a store you’d go into, pick out a DVD off the shelves, rent it for 2 days, then bring it back. If you went in there to pick out a movie with your long term partner, it was generally a simple task. You knew what they liked and, even if it was different from your tastes, you both have developed a system of compromise where you could find middle ground on movies to rent. In and out in 15 minutes maybe.

But then, there was that weekend when one of your high school friends was coming in from out of town and someone had the ridiculous idea of “Let’s go rent a movie!” Now you’re at Blockbuster with a new person. That only one of you knows really well. That may have changed a bit since the last time you saw them. And you have to learn new ways to compromise to find a movie you’d all watch. You’re in the video store for an hour, minimum.

Romantic relationships are, of course, more involved than selecting a movie to watch. But you and your partner have a system that you’ve navigated over the course of your relationship. Adding a third person will disrupt that system no matter how well intentioned you all are because that person is new to the relationship.

If you’re just opening up a monogamous relationship to a poly one, here are four key things to keep in mind:

1) It’s complex, and you may get it wrong at first: In fact, most couples that I have observed do get it wrong at first. My and my wife’s first attempt at poly was an abysmal failure. I mean that in absolutely every sense of the word. I didn’t know what I was doing nor how to balance the emotions of two people. My wife wasn’t sure what boundaries were ok to set and what weren’t. And the 3rd person had her own agenda to point of when I said, “We have an open relationship,” heard, “I want to leave my wife and need an excuse doing that.” It was wrong on every level.

We learned lots of hard lessons from that first attempt and grew closer together because of it. Remember, relationships are a set of skills. The more people involved, that more refined your skills will have to become. Forgive yourself and your partner if you don’t get it right at first. Grow.

2) Jealousy is super common and normal: Yes, even in poly relationships jealousy can occur. Regardless of your relationship dynamic, jealousy happens and it’s really important to understand why. Jealousy occurs when one person perceives someone else is getting something they are not.

Notice the word ‘perceives’. That’s the key here, because it may not even be true. People can get stuck in their heads. Old trauma and past relationship patterns can come up and lie to us. We can misunderstand something can it can cause us to feel jealous. And, of course, it’s entirely possible that the perception is true. The way out of it is communication. That communication starts like this: “I’m feeling insecure because of this thing that’s happening. Can you help me with that?” If your partner says this to you, the response is, “What about that makes you feel insecure?”

3) Communicate about everything: When we were first opening up to a poly relationship, one of the things we did right was communicate about everything. Every little step. Every baby tiny thing. It was a communication overload and it went like this…

“Since we talked about poly, I signed up for this dating site. How are we feeling about that?”

“Ok, so I made my dating profile. We still good?”

“I found someone I may want to reach out to. How are we now?”

“She responded to my message. Are you still ok with this?”

Every step of the way we stopped, checked in, and talked. Most of the time things were fine. Sometimes where was emotion that came up and needed to be addressed. Either way, the constant checking in gave each of us an opportunity to be honest about where we were and how we were feeling. It was a bonding experience that reminded each of us that we were the priority.

4) Things will come up that you couldn’t possibly anticipate: With a previous girlfriend, whenever I would spend the night at her place I’d come home in the morning with coffee or smoothies by around 9:00 am. It wasn’t spoken about, there was no rule in place, it just sort of happened for several months.

And then one time it didn’t. I wasn’t home until noon. I brought smoothies. They were delicious as always. While enjoying them, my wife shared with me that she had an emotional reaction to me coming home later than I had in the past. She wasn’t mad, but me coming home earlier made her feel important. So a rule was made that I’d come home around 9:00 am from then on unless otherwise discussed.


In time, things have changed with us. Because of that first experience, we’ve learned what not to do, which is just as important as what TO do. Jealousy is handled easier with both my wife and my girlfriend. Communication has changed, too. Due to that early experience of communication, we don’t need to talk about every detail as much because trust was developed. And the unexpected comes up less and less.

We’ll be looking at how to navigate and overcome common challenges in poly relationships in future installments of this series, so stay tuned!

If you have one in particular you’d like me to address, shoot me an email at damien@damiensullivan.com.

May the Force be with you!

Damien

Falling In Love Vs. Staying In Love, Part II

Old Han & Leia.jpg

Last week we talked about falling in love! It’s beautiful and amazing and fun and exciting and scary and vulnerable all rolled into one. I called it The Spark!

Today, we’re going to fast forward a bit. You sparked with someone. They sparked back, which is a great feeling, too! And then the two of you decided to move ahead and attempt to do this thing called ‘relationship’, however you are defining that.

Long term relationships do not usually maintain that Spark feeling throughout the relationship, and that’s ok! Love matures and changes over time. But in addition to love itself changing, people change, too. Stages of life change. Circumstances change. Everything changes.

agent smith.jpg

So if everything is changing, how can two people stay in love? Remember how I mentioned in Part I that falling in love wasn’t a choice? Well, the great thing about staying in love is that it is! It is a choice, and it’s a choice you make on a regular basis. In long term relationships, love is a verb. It’s an action.

The first part of this action is the act of doing. One of the ways my wife expresses her love is through coffee. She very carefully and thoughtfully makes coffee every morning for me (and my girlfriend when she spends the night) and leaves it on my nightstand before she goes to work. Every day I wake up and feel loved by her because of it. One of the ways I express love is through the giving of gifts. I absolutely go overboard on gift giving occasions to show my love and appreciation for people I care about.

The second part of this action is the act of receiving. Since my wife expresses love through doing things for people, it is no surprise that she couldn’t give two shits about gifts, holidays, valentine’s day, birthdays, etc. If I didn’t have gifts for her, she actually wouldn’t care. Now I know what you’re thinking…

Shut up, Ackbar. Seriously, it’s not a trap.

Shut up, Ackbar. Seriously, it’s not a trap.

But she really means it. She doesn’t care. But she knows that’s how I express love. So when I get things for her, she sees it as an act of love because she knows that’s the place it comes from.

At the same time, it’s important to recognize that if you and your partner express love differently, you each need to express love in the way they best receive it.

Ok, so my wife doesn’t care about gifts. What she does care about? Experiences and actions. She likes to go to new places, see new things, try new wine, etc. Every year, when it’s financially possible, we take a trip someplace and explore. She also feels loved when I take care of dinner, do dishes, or whatever else can take something off her plate that “has to be done”. Those things are less important to me, but I make a choice to do them for her.

In return, she has become an incredibly thoughtful gift giver, knowing that’s something I care about. She makes that choice for me.

I don’t expect her to give gifts like I do and she doesn’t expect me to provide experiences and actions like she does. We’re different people with different preferences and pasts that have shaped how we feel loved. But what makes us work is that we:

  1. Recognize the things that makes us feel loved

  2. Effectively communicate to each other what makes us feel loved

  3. Appreciate when our partner does something out of love, regardless of if it is our preferred way of receiving love

  4. Make a sincere and truthful effort to say and do things that makes the other person feel loved

These aren’t things that happen magically or spontaneously, like The Spark does. Long term relationships take effort on each person’s part to contribute to the health and support of the relationship.

So if you don’t already know, ask yourself what makes you feel loved. And then ask your partner what makes them feel loved. Finally, armed with the knowledge of what makes your partner feel loved: Choose. Choose to participate in making them feel loved, or choose to participate in the creation of distance in your relationship.

Love and long term relationships is not always easy or convenient, but with the right person? It’s always worth the effort.

May the odds be ever in your favor…

Damien

Falling In Love Vs. Staying In Love, Part I

I Love You I Know.jpg

I love falling in love! It’s an incredible feeling…that combination of swooning, joy, lust, anxiousness, passion, and hope all rolled into one experience with another human being. It’s intoxicating!

Love is a funny thing. Even those of us who study it don’t fully understand it yet. We can deconstruct it, look at it from different angles, and understand a piece here or a part there, but when you put it all back together it’s still rather messy. And really, that’s ok. Part of what make love fun is that it’s a mystery that unfolds as we get to know someone. One of the pieces that we can understand is the difference between falling in love vs. staying in love.

The biggest difference is this: We cannot control who we fall in love with. Louder for those in the back. WE CANNOT CONTROL WHO WE FALL IN LOVE WITH. It just “happens”. We see someone, talk with someone, spend time around someone and feelings develop. There’s a spark! You know exactly what I’m talking about, just as much as you know you did not look at said person and decide, “Well, I do believe I’m going to make a conscious choice to call forth into existence the magical spark that marks the beginning of falling in love.” No body does this.

Now, we’ve been trying to understand and explain why this spark happens for as long as humans have studied psychology and emotions. It has been explained as brain chemistry, subconscious reminders of our parents, even perhaps similar smelling sweat. Maybe all of that is true, maybe none of it is. I don’t know. I don’t think the origin of the spark is important either because no matter how hard or soft sciences try to explain it, it’s always something out of our control. (Unless, of course, you’re able to consciously control the scent of your sweat. If that’s you, email me immediately. I want smell like chocolate)

That spark is the beginning of love. Because it is the start of something so important, I wish with all my might that human beings would only spark with people who are a good match for them. Sadly, this is not the case. We spark with people good for us, bad for us, dangerous for us, etc. We spark with people who could damage our careers. We spark with people who are not our monogamous partners! We have no control over this very powerful thing happening that could make or break our lives and it’s just out of our control!

Whos flying this thing.jpg

Ok, take a deep breath!

*inhale*

*exhale*

Better? Ok good! I’m not going to leave you all freaking out and out of control. See, there’s a second part to this. I’m gonna say it real big like so you can’t miss it. Ready? Here goes…

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS AFTER THE SPARK IS COMPLETELY WITHIN YOUR CONTROL!!

Look at that, you’re back in the driver’s seat! Everything that happens after the spark is completely within your control! What this means is that you get to evaluate whether or not to pursue this spark or not. You don’t actually have to just because it’s there. More that that, knowing who you tend to spark with can actually help you evaluate where you want to go with it.

For example, I have a tendency (not 100%, but enough to notice) to spark with people who are usually labeled ‘crazy’. Not actual mental illness. I’m trained enough that I’m able to spot that a mile away and can decide if that something I can take on with eyes wide open. The kind of ‘crazy’ I’m talking about is the “Let’s go steal that cop’s car” kind of ‘crazy’. There’s something about that kind of person that sparks me hard! It’s accurate to the point that I have a friend who uses me as a barometer to determine how cautious he is going to be with a new potential partner.

The point is, when you feel that spark, pay attention! Pay attention to who this person is! Pay attention to how pursuing this person will affect your life! Just as there are rewards for following the spark, there are risks as well. Feel the spark and enjoy the feeling, it’s amazing after all. Go into it with eyes open, though. The spark is out of your hands, but what you do with it is a conscious choice. Make a wise one.

In part II we’ll talk about staying in love in long term relationships, so come back next week!

Stay Shiny!

Damien

Mistakes, Errors, and Slip-Ups, Oh-My!

Huge Mistake 3.jpg

My wife was reading my New Years 2019 email I sent out and within seconds she says to me, “Well, the first thing I’m noticing is a missing word.”

“Son of a bitch!” was my response. Not at her, of course, just out of frustration. She laughed. My girlfriend was in a chair next to me reading the same email and let me know that she missed it. Her brain just filled in the missing word. The brain’s efficiency and predictive factor worked in my favor that day! :)

This wasn’t that big of a deal, of course. I’ve made spelling and grammar mistakes before and this won’t be the last time. Small mistakes are easy to take responsibility for and avoid negative self-talk over. But what about mistakes that aren’t so small? Ones that can negatively impact your life and relationship in powerful ways? Ones that have broken trust? What then?

It’s easy to fall into a shame spiral. The negative self-talk can be deafening at times:

  • ‘How could you do that?’

  • ‘You knew better than this!’

  • ‘They won’t love you anymore’

  • ‘They’re going to leave you’

And then there’s your partner’s feelings and words that may not be the most helpful or sensitive because they’re hurting. And understandably so, but it doesn’t make it easier. Besides, who can be more critical of our mistakes than we can? That shame spiral and self-flagellation won’t help, though, so let’s talk about what will!

The first step it the hardest but most vital: Be rigorously honest with yourself. Did you know what you were doing would negatively affect your relationship? If you didn’t, now you do. If you knew, what caused you to do it anyway? Why was this act important despite the problems it would cause?

Second, when your partner is ready to hear it, apologize. Depending on the nature of the mistake, your partner may not be ready to hear your apology right away and that’s ok. They are processing their emotions about it just like you are processing yours.

A good apology includes a recognition of the wrong act, why it was wrong, and an expressed desire to make it right in the moment. It is delivered with heartfelt sincerity and includes liberal use of phrases like:

  • I’m sorry

  • I apologize

  • I was wrong

  • I didn’t mean to hurt you

A good apology does not include sarcasm, passive-aggression, blaming, or phrases like:

  • I’m sorry you’re hurt

  • I only did this because you…

Finally, the desire to change behavior. Different than the desire to make it right in the moment, this is the desire to change behavior so the mistake doesn’t happen again. This is not just for big mistakes, too, but small ones as well. Changed behavior after a mistake is a signal to your partner. It says, “I love you, I understand, I hear you, and want to grow with you.”

This is not to say that all changes will be instant, easy, or effortless. You could have a habit that once served you in the past that no longer is. Your mistake can be one born out of trauma, abuse, or just poor modeling of relationships. These things take time, and your partner will likely understand that, but that doesn’t let you off the hook. It explains, but does not excuse.

So your change in behavior can be as simple as setting an alarm on your phone or calendar so you don’t forget an appointment in the future. Or it could be something more significant like going to therapy to deal with trauma or anger issues. The amount of effort required will increase with the magnitude of the mistake. Forget to take the chicken out of the freezer for dinner? Well, that can be fixed with a reminder on your phone. Forget an ultrasound appointment for the third time, though, and you’re gonna have to do a lot of work to show your partner that you’re going to be there for your family.

Few mistakes you can make are instant relationship killers. What I more often see is a pattern of behavior over time that leads to the demise of a relationship. Which is really good news if you’re struggling in yours, whether it’s an intimate relationship, family member, or friend, they’re usually repairable. All it takes it people committed to putting the work in, either on their own or with a coach.

May your errors be few and your healing be plentiful!

Be excellent to each other,

Damien

Ah, Worthiness...

Worthiness Brene Brown.jpg

I was on the phone being coached by an amazing friend of mine, Laura Haug, and we were discussing the concept of worthiness. Being worthy is one of the buzzwords right now in self-help, coaching, and mental/emotional healing. Feeling worthy is something I’ve been seeking for a long time. It’s also something that many of my clients express a desire for as well: Worthy of love, of money, of speaking up for what they want, of being successful in their field, etc. There’s nothing wrong with many people seeking it out, yet I discovered something interesting on this phone call.  

What I realized while talking with Laura is that I have no idea what ‘being worthy’ looks like, feels like, or how someone who feels worthy acts. I’ve never defined it. One of the questions that I often ask my coaching clients is, “How will you know you’ve achieve X goal?” and yet here I am, seeking this goal of ‘feeling and being worthy’ without an answer to that question. Without knowing how I’ll know when I achieve it, I’m stuck in an eternal seeking cycle without an endpoint.

Well that just won’t do.

So after much consideration, back and forth questioning, and intuitive reasoning, here’s my best shot at defining worthiness for myself. You know how it’s super easy to talk about everything that’s wrong with you and everything you’ve done wrong and why you’re a crappy person? I mean, human beings as a whole completely and totally own what’s ‘wrong’ with them. Ask someone what they want to improve about themselves and get a bullet point list of what they don’t want. ‘I don’t want to be fat anymore’ or ‘I wish I wasn’t so horrible with money’…whatever it is we have immediate and easy access to that knowledge.

What if, I wonder, feeling worthy is simply owning all the great, amazing, powerful, badass things about us just as much as we own the things we judge about us? For me, I have the following list of badassery:

  • I am an amazing coach

  • I am incredibly skilled at relationships

  • I am an awesome husband and father

  • I am a powerful intuitive

  • I am a great healer

When I sit in the space of feeling these things, the sense of power, purpose, and hope is almost indescribably strong. From this place, I know that I can easily give and accept love, that I can make money with my skills and talents, that it is appropriate to speak my truth, and that I can easily help people through both coaching and energy medicine. There is absolutely no doubt. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what being and feeling worthy is. And if that’s the case, then worthiness becomes a choice, one I’m going to start making every single day.

I want to hear from you, though! This insight has inspired me to study worthiness a little bit deeper and hear as many opinions as I can about it. Between now and the end of February, I’m looking for people who’d be willing to answer questions on their experiences with feeling worthy. Each person who fills out the questionnaire will be entered into a raffle to receive one of ten free 60-minute coaching calls in March, 2019.

If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts, please click here. Thank you and I hope your year is off to an amazing start!!

What is Relationship Work?

Relationship.jpg

Relationship work can be a difficult thing for people to get their heads around. What does it actually mean? And how does one do it?

When people think of relationship work, the most common image that arises is couples therapy: Two people sit down and talk about their problems with a third person who mediates the situation and tosses out yellow flags when one partner’s actions are inappropriate. While this type of therapy can be helpful for some, it’s not, in my opinion, the best way to do relationship work.

Ok, so if I’m not here to listen to you or you and your partner talk about your problems, and I’m not here to play referee, then what the hell am I doing as a relationship coach? Excellent question! And the answer is easier than it might first appear: Relationship work is a special type of self work!

Shock small.jpg

No, really, it’s true! I swear!

A relationship is only as good as the people in it. If you bring to a relationships a history of unhealed abuse, trauma you haven’t dealt with, poor communication skills, a lack of self awareness, emotional immaturity, and an inability to be honest with yourself, you’re going to create a relationship that is powerful in those qualities. Your partner is completely irrelevant in these circumstances! You could have a partner is who 100% perfect at everything they contribute to the relationship (which, of course, isn’t even possible), and you’d still have a dysfunctional relationship. In order to have a healthy relationship you need healthy people! Or at the very least, people committed to improving their own health.

So when I’m working with people as an individual or those in a relationship, we’re working in the following ways:

  • Learning how you do relationships: What’s important to you? Why is it important? What patterns are you running? Are they working for or against you?

  • Uncovering your beliefs, stores, and thoughts about relationships: Many of these are unconscious and unknown, so they require a good amount of exploration, but they are the major contributors to why you have the relationships you have.

  • Teaching you to see how the unconscious ideas are creating your patterns: The work we do together is mostly exploratory with lots of ‘ah-ha’ moments, but the work you’ll do between sessions is often where success truly happens. Once you see the connections, they’re easier to break in the moment.

  • Empowering you to create new patterns that are whole, healthy, and will help you achieve your relationship goals: This is key. If we discover what is not working but don’t help you develop new tools, you’re likely to fall back in to the old patterns again. So we work together to create new ideas, thoughts, stories, and beliefs.

Only after we do the above do we start unraveling the relationship issues you’ve created, either alone or together. See, your relationship is not the problem. Even if you’ve had a series of relationships that all have the same problems, the relationship is not the problem. The relationship is a result. It’s an effect, not a cause. The cause is your beliefs, habits, stories, trauma, worthiness, purpose, etc. So that’s where we begin when we do relationship work, and like magic, the relationship changes.

If you’re ready to make your relationship amazing, click the button below to find out how we can work together.

It’s A Brand New Day! Year! Outlook!

So I’ve been quiet. If you have been following my blog or received my emails, you’ve probably noticed that there’s been nothing from me in a very long time. And so you might be wondering…

Where are you.gif

Well, I would love to say that I have been busy plugging away, working hard, and creating my new niche, but that’s just not true. Most of this year was a time of rest, self-reflection, inner work, and finding my own voice. I’ve been asking the same questions that many of us ask:

  • Who am I?

  • What impact do I want to make in the world?

  • How can I find my voice?

  • How can I show up more authentically?

To say that it has been difficult would be an understatement. Shame and the negative self-talk were brutal. Like you, I am also my own worst critic and, like most of humanity, I can be brutal to myself at time. I spent months in a depressive shame spiral. How can I NOT know who I am? I’m freakin’ 41 years old! Shouldn’t I know this already? Other people my age seem to know! You mean I’m STILL struggling with authenticity? Are you kidding me? How can I, a life coach, not know what my voice is?

And then there was this…this deadly phrase that I kept repeating in my head and to my wife and coaches when we talked about my struggles: “Who am I to…”. Who am I to teach people about how to live? Who am I to help people with their relationships? Who am I to stand up and be a leader? Especially when I seem to be nothing like the people I admire! They’re all Zen and shit, drinking their green tea while journaling, followed by QiGong, eating clean diets, working real magic, etc. and I’m over here like “How many times can I say ‘fuck’ each day and still be a Spiritual Man?”

Well, true believers, after months of working all of these problems with myself and those I trust, here’s what I discovered:

There’s no ‘arriving’. You will never arrive. If your a human being on the path of growth and self discovery, know that it is an endless path. You will never hit a place in your life and say, “Ah! Yes! I am finally complete and there is not more work for me to do!” There will always be more work to do, layers to peel back, and deeper places to go. And that’s a good thing!

Being vulnerable is a strength, not a weakness. My work and writing from here on out will be infinitely more transparent about who I am, what I’m struggling with, and what I’m kicking ass on. It’s important to me that people see the easy and the hard times.

My life experience does not require a ‘Works Cited’ page. My background includes a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a doctorate degree in medicine; if you don’t back up what you say with sources, you’re not taken seriously. And it has taken me A LONG TIME to break out of that mentality. I don’t have to write, revise, review, rewrite, revise again, etc. seven times over in order to put forth an idea.

I am a bad-ass coach. No, seriously, I am. And that’s not an ego statement. I’m good at what I do. I have integrity in my practice. I seek to improve myself so that I can help others achieve what they want out of their lives.

My role is to live my truth so that others may see it’s ok to live theirs. It’s not my job to tell you your path, ‘The’ truth, or Your truth. I’m a guide and a facilitator of discovery. Working together, we can explore and co-create your path and help you stay on it.

My intuitive gifts are just that: Gifts. I’m no longer going to shy away from mentioning them, using them, or relying on them as part of my work. You shouldn’t either!

And finally…

Using everyday speech, curse words, or breaking grammatical rules does not affect who I am as a person at all. And that means I can say ‘fuck’ as much as I want to! Fuck, fuck, fuck. See? Still the same man!


So if you’re now here, welcome! If you’ve been here before, welcome back! I’m a life coach specializing in romantic and interpersonal relationships. If you’re struggling in relationships or you just wanna take yours from great to amazing, I would love the opportunity to discuss how I can help you achieve your goals.

Happy new year to you and your loved ones!

2019 is going to be one fantastic year!