Relationship Tip #34: Prioritizing Love

Getting Priorities Straight
Getting Priorities Straight

Between you and every individual you know there’s a space. That space is your relationship with that person. Think of it like ballroom dancing, where partners hold each other in a “frame” with their arms. The space between them is where the relationship goes. Now everything that we resist doing, saying and being in any part of our lives goes into that space, so there’s less room for the relationship. And if you’ve ever danced with someone who’s distracted, you know how hard that can be on your level of enjoyment and sometimes crushed toes.

Think about a time when you’ve been worried about something. Deeply stressed. How was it to be with other people? You probably found yourself unable to focus completely on what was happening around you. You go out with a friend and the conversation leads to “what’s new” and you feel that horrible feeling because what’s new isn’t great or worse it’s all the same not great stuff. Your coffee chats end up being advice giving parties where no takes advice, especially not the advice they’re giving.

You’re stuck.

And as a result you’re not as present as you can be with the people you care about. Your children, your pet, at your job with your coworkers, the love of your life. We go around in circles in our mind thinking about probabilities, possibilities, and we put things off until tomorrow. And that get’s in the way.

So, here’s what to do. Take a fresh piece of paper and pen. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now write on the top of the page, “The things I’m resisting doing”. In point form, without explanation, write them items. Here’s a list of things that could on your list:

* Financial matters such as taxes, calls to accountants, outstanding bills
* Creative projects, such as that book you’re planning to write, knitting projects, sewing projects
* Social obligations, such as the thank you notes for your wedding, the phone calls you keep putting off, the lunches you said you would have but never followed through on
* Completing on things like your divorce, getting government papers, updating information
* A call or visit to the doctors, dentist, optomitrist, veterinarian

And of huge importance in my humble relationship-centric opinion

* Incomplete and unhealed relationships

This should give you a good idea and frankly shouldn’t take long at all. I mean really this is the stuff that’s just below the surface all the time. Now that the list is done, take a really good look at it. Ok, tough love warning: These are the things that you are putting in the way of your relationships. That’s right, I said it. This is what you’re choosing instead of being in relationship. This is how we create that famous and all too familiar intimacy wall I keep going on about. We all have lists like this and in my business and in the MASTERY we call it the “unconfrontable list”, because the confronting of it just puts your head on the wash, rinse and repeat cycle.

Now here’s what to do. Separate the list into three categories. The first category is things I must do myself. The second category is things that I need other people to do. The third category is things I need help with. Now that you’ve done that,rate each list by the degree of difficulty/time it would take to accomplish.

You’re probably going to notice something. That the things that seem huge can be resolved very quickly and easily. Like taxes. You call someone and say, “can you do my taxes please.” The say, “sure, bring your receipts over.” And then it becomes a matter of transportation rather than your fear of governmental forms.

However many items you have on your list, is how many weeks you have to confront those tasks. The first items could be the scariest, or the could be the quickest. I suggest the quickest, because it will give you a feeling of accomplishment. You decide. The important thing is to be easy on yourself about it and to celebrate every win.

I want to get back to the original thrust of this post. The reason to do this is not so that you get a big tax refund, or new glasses. The reason to do this is so much deeper than that. Because once you start to shift the resistance out of the space between you and your relationships, even a tiny little shift, you will be more available for those relationships. All sorts of things will happen that you could not have seen coming and you would not have been prepared to welcome in your life. You will be more available for fun and play. The people in your life will look at you in a renewed way. You will look better and more attractive without the ongoing stress in your life. This is just what happens when we prioritize love.


Letting Go and Asking Questions

Relationship Tip #32: Letting go of expectations. I’m a foodie, so when I went off to England I fully expected that the food be awful. I was very pleasantly disabused of that notion immediately. Every meal I had in England was exceptional.
How often in relationships have I made assumptions about how it was going to be. I have held myself back or charged ahead based on those assumptions to be disappointed or sometimes, titallated by unexpected experiences.
My suggestion to you is to look at the people in your life, new and old, with fresh eyes. Discover something about them. Wonder about them. Ask questions like, “when did you first love your hobby”, “how did you decide on the names of your children”, “tell your favourite story, that your family loves to tell”. And then listen with wonder.

Divorce Sucks!!! Here’s how to handle it.

Relationship Tip #31: Divorce sucks. It is usually very painful when dealing with your divorce, particularly when children are involved. All the secrets can come out, sides are taken and often very bad and inexpert advice is given. 
While you’re in your divorce take these important steps.
1. Make sure your children feel safe. Don’t enroll your children into the dispute. It disrupts their feelings of safety.
2. Seek proper legal advice. And seek out support groups if necessary.
3. Be reasonable, even if you don’t like. For example:
a) Don’t threaten to cut the other person off of necessities like money, food, insurance. 
b) Don’t empty the bank accounts and try to starve the other person out. It’s still 50/50 until the deed is done.
c) Don’t quit your high paying job to work making less money, just so that you don’t have to pay child support. In fact, don’t even utter the words.
d) Don’t stop paying bills. The mortgage, the hydro all these things must stay in place for your children and ultimately for you too.
e) Don’t take advantage of the other person or the situation.
4. If you find that you can’t contain your anger, seek counselling or go to anger management. Or call me. I can help you with that.
5. Play fair. For example:
a) Don’t threaten people with exposure of intimacies that you held. Anything that you wouldn’t have said before the break-up is still off limits. There is no time limit or expiration date.
b) Don’t blackmail the other party.
c) Don’t round up a posse or lynch mob against the other party.
6. Stay strong. Use your voice and stand up for yourself with integrity. If you’re being bullied do everything to make sure that stops. Don’t let yourself be bullied into submission or a bad deal that will leave you in horrific circumstances.
7. Surrender to the process, rather than trying to control everything. It will be a much less bumpy ride.
If I were to give you an assignment it would be to picture your life in 5 years. Picture your children happy. Picture yourself with a new partner that you mutually love. Picture your soon to be Ex happy. Picture yourself in the future with everyone (ex-inlaws, friends) getting along and sharing special occasions with laughter and camaraderie. Now, make that your goal. To get to that. And act accordingly to get to that goal. It starts now. Because either way you’re going to have a future together, it might as well be good.
The simple breakdown: Forgive. Look at the bigger picture. Forgive yourself. Get help. Forgive some more.

Keep your eye on the fox

Relationship Tip #30: Beware of red herrings in communication. This is a strategy used to distract someone from the original conversation or argument. The term “red herring” comes from an old English practice when training hounds for foxing. Red herrings would be left or thrown along the route, and the well trained dog would ignore the red herring and keep following the fox scent. Less trained dogs would go after the herring. This happens in conversation all the time. You say to someone, hey you didn’t do what you were supposed to. And they say, yeah, well you didn’t do this other thing. They distract you from the original argument. 
A good example of this occurred this weekend. My 13 year old niece wanted to buy some earrings. When my sister and I saw the earrings we said that they looked like they were ‘starter’ spacers (you know those earrings that make a big hole in a person’s ear – at 13 she’s not allowed to have them, yet she’s obsessed with them). She and her little friend assured us that the earrings were faux-spacers, yet in speaking to the sales person we discovered that they were real and that my niece (and her friend) had lied to us. Clearly being caught in a lie, my niece “threw a red herring” at us saying “but they fit in my ears”. Which is not what we’re talking about, yet she was hoping that she could still negotiate for the earrings and distract us from the lie. Often people will use a red herring that is a hot topic. I once confronted a co-worker about not getting their part of a project done and they threw back that I had been taking too much time off and that my boss wasn’t happy with me. Throwing me into turmoil about my sick time and making me feel that I was in trouble (my boss was happy with me it was just a red herring) thereby distracting me from the original conversation. 
This happens on a much broader scale. Just look at the gay marriage issue that the US is going through right now. They have quite successfully hijacked the conversation of people fighting against other issues such as GMO’s, Tar sands, and pipelines, and have thrown a red herring of a hot topic such as Gay Marriage (I’m for gay marriage, but you already knew that).
So, how do we deal with a red herring. First of all, start to recognize red herrings when they’re thrown at you. If you have children, you’ll have an daily opportunity to do that. Second, point out that the other party has thrown a red herring. Call them on it. Third, stick to the point. And keep going back to your point until it’s cleared up. Doing this will make your life and communication so much easier and will train you and peeps to go after the fox instead of the stinky fish. Be a good hound. And remember to forgive yourself and others when it does come up.

10 Rules to Dating

Relationship Tip #27: Tammy’s 10 Rules to Dating:
1. Let go of your agenda.
2. Be direct, no dropping hints or strategizing.
3. Ask questions. Check things out, don’t make assumptions.
4. Vote with your feet. If something’s not cool, leave.
5. Let go of the monster list of things the other person must be to qualify to be with you, and focus on how you want to feel and how you want the other person to feel.
6. Say “yes”.
7. Tell the truth.
8. Drop the drama. Everything is not a big deal.
9. Take care of yourself first.
10. Practice forgiveness, especially for yourself.
I love what Evan Marc Katz says, “Dating is 99% failure”. So keep your heart open to love.

What I love about you…

Relationship Tip #28: What you love in another is what you need more of in life. I was recently at a MoMonday talk where I heard Robert Corbett speak about this and it’s been percolating in my mind for over a week. I tested the theory. I wrote down a list of the attributes that I admired in the man I loved and dated most recently. I came up with an astonishing list of things that I already AM, as well as things my heart yearns for. I realized that he was the reason that I travelled to Costa Rica on the first non-work/for-pleasure-only trip in over five years. I was inspired by him. He reminded me of my high school sweetheart in many ways. His kindness, and the way he made friends so easily, his adventurous travel plans and gentlemanly behaviour. I realized that I’m attracted to men like that because, it’s what I want more of in my life.
And I remembered something else. Years ago, I was surprised when at the end of a relationship the man I had been with suddenly started socializing and arranging parties and dinners. It had always been my area of expertise. He was obviously fulfilling a desire in himself. I hope I was the catalyst for him and I’m grateful for the catalyst that my previous relationships have brought me.
So, what about you? I’m sure that you could shout out the top things right off the top of your head. Yet, if I were to give you an assignment to go even deeper it would be this.
* Write the name of a past or current relationship, lover or even a crush. You could even write the name of a person you have idolized. A terrific friend, teacher, family member or public figure.
* Now list the things that you admire, leaving a margin at the side of the list.
* Then treat the list like you’re collecting baseball or hockey cards. Write beside each attribute either “got it” (for the things that are just like you or you have in your life) and “want it” (for the things you want more of in your life).
* And finally, be grateful for the love, whether you’re with that person or not.
I’d love to hear some shout-outs.”

Team Love

Relationship Tip #25: I was recently in Costa Rica at a very romantic resort over Valentines Day, where I witnessed all sorts of sexy and beautiful relationships. From the couple that does everything together and could even finish each other’s jokes; to the many times I saw men lifting their wives/girlfriends down from cars, stairs, ziplines; to the hilarious love stories of how people met; to both parties looking out for each other. I saw kisses on foreheads, hand-holding, the giggle-cuddle (my favourite), I heard the glowing admiration people had for their partners and the affectionate teasing between them. And most of all, people looking out for each other. Doing for each other and letting the other person do for them. Whether they were 24 or 84. I believe in love and the love I saw in Costa Rica was yet another confirmation. If there’s a tip in all of this it’s very simple. Make a team and call it Team Love. ♥

Forrest Gump has hidden Easter Eggs for Valentines Day

Relationship Tip #24: (A quick exercise) As we head into Valentines Day, watch the movie Forrest Gump. There are a lot of good reasons to watch this terrific film, yet I suggest you watch it from the perspective of the love between Forrest and Jenny. There are three major lessons to learn from Forrest (contains spoilers):
1. That when we love someone, we can be anywhere in the world doing anything and that person is with us. And we learn later that when he ran for 3 years, he was thinking of her the whole time. 2. To love with an open heart. He never falls into the trap of hating her. Whether she is to be ´just a friend´or his ´wife´ he doesn´t become bitter. So easily we can indulge hate where we once felt love.
3. He accepts her with her flaws and in the end she accepts him too.
Enjoy the movie. I´d love to hear your thoughts and relationship discoveries as well. Please feel free to comment below.