An Important Realization About Relationships

In a recent Oprah Supersoul Conversations podcast entitled “The Oprah Winfrey Show: How to Make Love Last,” she sits with Harville Hendrix. Hendrix, the best selling author of “Getting the Love You Want” theorizes that:

“Whatever happens in childhood, whether its mild or intense, there is something that is going to replicate itself in adulthood in your intimate partnership. The early childhood experience, where there is a wound, has to be repaired – and it always has to be repaired in a relationship in adulthood similar to your parents.”

This statement is probably the most important concept in understanding why we choose the partners that we do. Hendrix speaks about the tendency to repeat patterns, not as a means to punish ourselves (although it may feel like that over time), but rather as a way to heal – to repair the wound that we received in childhood so that we can move to a healthier place. In order to change the pattern, we first must understand this concept; we then can follow through with the necessary work needed to choose someone who fits into a healthier space.

Hendrix further explains that in an unconscious process with our partner:

“We either pick them, provoke them or project onto them. So if you had a problem in childhood, you are going to pick somebody who will help you redo it, or you will project onto them that they are, or if not, you will provoke them. Its brilliant because we have to resolve that issue.”

Think about this in terms of trust. If we grew up not trusting a parent because they were never there for us, we will either pick a partner who is not trustworthy, we will project onto them that we can’t trust them (by being accusatory and jealous), or we will provoke them into being unreliable (in which a partner might start acting that way as they continue to be painted in that light.)

It is only in understanding this process can we begin to make the necessary changes to our own internal dialogue and move to repair. First in ourselves, and then in our patterns.

To listen to the full episode (it is worth your time):

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Chasing Cosby; A Podcast Worth Listening To

I grew up watching The Cosby Show with Bill Cosby as ‘America’s Dad.’ When accusations first came out against him, it was hard to believe they could be true – the evidence; however, was determined to reveal who Cosby really was.

The podcast “Chasing Cosby” hosted by journalist Nicki Weisensee Egan, is an account from the very beginning, when Canadian woman, Andrea Constand spoke up against Cosby – it is a story of charges dismissed, to a civil suit, to criminal trial followed by a mistrial, to a final trial where 12 jurors found him guilty. Eventually, over 60 women came forward with similar details to Andrea’s.

In Episode 6 entitled “Nobody is Against the Law,” Andrea hears that the mistrial is going to be followed up immediately by application by the D.A. for a second criminal trial. Andrea notes:

“As any person going to battle, any warrior, we had been on a journey for so long. It was uncomfortable, but things in life aren’t always comfortable and sometimes you become a better person by doing uncomfortable things. I was ready.”

Chasing Cosby is a podcast that uncovers the shame associated with sexual assault, the victim blaming that society tolerates, and how a power differential can allow someone to groom and deceive.

To listen to Episode 6:

To begin at Episode 1:

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Love Lives Here; A Worthy Read

One of the books I read on vacation was “Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family” by Amanda Jette Knox. Knox’s overall theme that runs throughout the memoir is to ‘lead with love;’ a message that comes to pass in countless ways as her family shifts to embrace two trans people within their fold.

An interesting fact from its pages include:

“This extremely vulnerable population (trans youth) carries high rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide. Trans kids are more likely to face discrimination, harassment, bullying and assault. LGBTQ young people are disproportionately represented in the homeless population, finish high school less often and have a harder time finding work.”

From Knox’s experience:

“I didn’t know what it felt like to be trans, but I did know what it was like to go through a lot of the same issues: self-harm, suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety, harassment, bullying and assault……… I knew what it was like to not be accepted by those around you, even if for different reasons.”

How Alexis (Amanda’s daughter) coped with the judgement of people around her:

“Alexis learned she could enter any space as if she belonged there, regardless of how people treated her. She learned to expect respect, even if others aren’t willing to give it easily. As someone who would likely face discrimination throughout her life, she needed this critical lesson. I wanted her to know that her worth comes from within, and not how others might value her.”

“Love Lives Here” is an honest story that aims to help shed the stigma associated to a marginalized community. Knox weaves the reader through not only her daughter’s transition, but also of her wife’s and the unique challenges they faced. By the end of its pages, one thing is clear – when we ‘lead with love,’ it carries with it courage and faith.

“Love Lives Here” is a worthy read.

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Soul to Soul; An Important Message from Gary Zukav

In an Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast episode entitled, “Oprah and Gary Zukav: Live from Calgary,” there is a specific passage in which Gary speaks about grief. Oprah refers to a moment during an Oprah show, where Gary addresses the grief of a young mother who has lost a twin baby named Ryan:

“If you looked at Ryan as a soul – like Ira, like Oprah, like me, like everyone on this earth, that left the earth when it chose, then you will have a different perspective. You will be able to see the gift that this soul offered to you during its short stay on the earth. You will reach a place in your life that you are grateful that this soul chose to be with you, however short that time. If you look at Ryan as a soul, a great soul like yourself, who voluntarily entered the earth school and voluntarily left it in order to be with you and to offer gifts, then you will begin the process of appreciating and becoming grateful for the power of the interaction that you had with that soul and you will be able to receive the gifts that that soul came to this earth to give you, to give Ira, to give to his siblings.” Oprah called this a “healing, holy moment” for this young mom.

Soul to soul is a lovely way to remember our loved ones and the relationship we had with them. To have faith that while they were on this earth,  an exchange of gifts occurred, brings a peaceful, settled feeling. It is also a lovely reminder that while we remain on this earth, we too, continue to offer gifts to our loved ones – soul to soul. 🙂

To listen to the full episode:

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Oprah and Dr. Phil Talk About Relationships

In a recent Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations podcast episode, she sits down with Dr. Phil to talk about his book, “Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World.” Ultimately, it was an episode about how there are some relationships in our lives that are simply not healthy for us. Between Oprah and Dr. Phil, we are hear some common-sense, yet important, advice – (paraphrased):

  • We tend to give people the benefit of the doubt – after we become invested in the relationship, we are hesitant to give it up, even though we know we are being taken advantage of.
  • We often love with the idea of who we wish that person to be – we fill in the gaps to make them wonderful in between.
  • We often want someone to be better than they are, and we will work harder to try and create it. In the process, we often end up de-valuing ourselves.
  • Someone’s unhealthy or toxic nature has nothing to do with you; it may feel like it does, but it is the way they function in relationship.
  • “The only thing worse than being in a bad relationship for a year, is being in a bad relationship for a year and one day.” – Dr. Phil
  • You don’t owe anyone access to your life if they are mistreating you – this includes family.
  • We have to believe in ourselves; listen to our instincts and heed the red flags.
  • “When people show you who they are believe them.” – Oprah

Listening to the episode is an affirming way to allow ourselves to let go of the illusion that an unhealthy relationship can, or will be any different.  It allows us to set boundaries, take our space, or end a relationship that no longer values who we are.

To listen to the full podcast:

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Avatar and It’s Deeper Meaning

I watched Avatar this week for the first time; a movie that I was interested in based on hearing Oprah talk about a line that they use in the movie to greet each other – “I see you.”

Based in the future, on an island far into space, the story is ultimately one of love and transformation; it is about connection and the ability to appreciate and honour other cultures and the natural world. The fictional tribe in Avatar have a way of connecting their bodies (little tentacles in their tails) to other creatures in their world – it is the way that they truly bond as they are able to “see” each other.

How cool would that be? An instant knowing of someone else; an immediate sense of who they are; their struggles and triumphs, their weaknesses and strengths. a glimpse into their soul. Perhaps it would create less misunderstandings and a more global sense of peace.

We may not have the ability to instantly connect our inner worlds, but we do have a way to truly know someone. It is through empathy that we can begin to see another person, not through our eyes and experiences but through theirs. When we abandon our own expectations or judgements and challenge ourselves to try and feel what the other is feeling, we can honestly say “I see you.”

A great movie; it will appeal to you in many ways. Cozy up and get the popcorn ready – it is well worth the time.

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Too Many Choices…Is More Really Better?

In a new podcast I’ve been listening to called “The Happiness Lab” by Dr. Laurie Santos, she recently explored the issue of having too many choices. In the episode, entitled “Choice Overload,” Dr. Santos examines the effects of our society’s belief that choices bring us greater freedom and the message of “more is better.” Some interesting facts from the episode include:

  • Walking down a supermarket aisle can give you up to 275 choices in cookies brands; 150 types of salad dressings – just as two examples.
  • Starbucks has over 80,000 drink options- and that doesn’t include seasonal drinks!

Although we may think that being given so many choices is in our favour, this is what Dr. Santos remarked about how too many choices can lead to decision fatigue:

“Our minds might tell us that finding the best out of all of the options will feel like an achievement, but that is simply not the case. When lots of options are present, even if we do well, we feel worse. Our poor minds just can’t handle all those choices all at once. The human brain doesn’t have the capacity to accurately decide whether a Venti Soy Latte with Caramel is tastier than 79, 999 other choices – so we just filter out the other choices. But all that filtering out still comes at a serious cost to our well being – just seeing all of those choices above the counter are cognitively draining which can lead to worse decisions later on; a phenomenon that Behavioural Scientists call decision fatigue.”

This gives us food for thought about all of the choices that we may face in a day and how perhaps we can begin to reduce our choice overload on a daily basis.

Less choosing, less doing; sticking to simple routines. I guess “less really is more.”

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Know My Name by Chanel Miller; a worthy read

I recently wrote a blog about Chanel Miller and her appearance on Oprah’s podcast Supersoul Conversations. Now I am making mention of her book “Know My Name.” One of the best books I have read this year, Know My Name is a poignant and honest memoir of Chanel’s experience as the victim in the “Stanford Rape Case” of 2015.

Known to the world as Emily Doe, we become privy to her experience from the moment she woke up in a hospital room with pine needles in her hair, abrasions on her body and no recollection of what happened to her. We travel with her throughout the next year and a half of Brock Turner being charged, her finding out what happened to her in the news, having to tell her loved ones, and experiencing the damaging effects of victim blaming. We are with her through her harrowing court days, the relief she feels when Turner is found guilty of all three charges (unanimously by all 12 jury members), only to granted a ridiculous sentencing by the presiding judge.

During this time, we hear that one way that Chanel coped was to listen to her mother’s stories of growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution:

“When I listened to her, I understood: You have to hold out to see how your life unfolds, because it is most likely beyond what you can imagine. It is not a question of if you will survive this, but what beautiful things await you when you do. I had to believe her, because she was living proof. Then she said ‘Good and bad things come from the universe holding hands. Wait for the good to come.’ “

With Chanel’s permission, her victim impact statement as Emily Doe is released to the press and it goes viral. Emails are forwarded, bags of letters get delivered to Chanel and she begins to receive the unwavering and uplifting support that was due to her from the beginning. She notes:

“I began to see the world through a softer filter. If somebody honked at me in traffic, I thought, ‘Maybe you have cried for me’. In crowded lines at the grocery store, I wondered if the woman in front of me had written a letter, if she’d shared with me her hidden grief. When I left the courtroom that June day, after reading my statement, courage was the farthest thing from my mind. Now I understood that in this life I’ve been given, I had done something good, created power from pain, provided solace while remaining honest about the hardships victims face. In turn, they showed me who I was.”

Chanel’s faith in sharing her identity with us is further evidence that we can hold fear in one hand and courage in the other. If you only read one book this year, make it this one 🙂

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The Book “The Second Moutain;” wise words about suffering from David Brooks

I have just finished reading a book entitled “The Second Mountain” by David Brooks. In this book, Brooks explores four commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose. It is a book about personal fulfillment and the sense of agency that is required to live a joyous life. In the beginning chapters, he speaks about suffering:

“There’s nothing intrinsically noble about suffering. Sometimes grief is just grief, to be gotten through. Many bad things happen in life, and it’s a mistake to try and sentimentalize these moments away by saying that they must be happening to serve some higher good. But sometimes, when suffering can be connected to a larger narrative of change and redemption, we can suffer our way to wisdom. This is the kind of wisdom you can’t learn from books; you have to experience it yourself. Sometimes you experience your first taste of nobility in the way you respond to suffering.”

He goes on to say, “The right thing to do when you are in moments of suffering is to stand erect in the suffering. Wait. See what it has to teach you. Understand that your suffering is a task that, if handled correctly, with the help of others, will lead to enlargement, not diminishment.”

Suffer our way to wisdom – a hopeful sentiment and so true. We learn just as much about ourselves from what hurt us as from what loves us. Brook’s wise words also touch on the importance of leaning into the support of our loved ones, for it is the midst of care and connection that we best heal.

Check out “The Second Mountain” by David Brooks here:

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A Lovely Story of Empathy and Forgiveness

I regularly listen to a podcast called Ear Hustle. It is based out of San Quentin and gives the listener a glimpse into the daily realities of life in prison. In their latest episode entitled “Tell Christy I Love Her,” we meet Tom, a police officer, his wife, Christy and an offender, Jason, who is serving 19 years in prison for shooting Tom in a violent encounter in 1997.

Jason, a 17 year old gang member in 1997, mistrusted the police from an early age. After being pursued on foot by Tom, the encounter turned violent when Jason shot Tom in the neck. Jason was found guilty and sentenced; Tom and his wife were left to try and heal from a traumatic and life changing event.

When Tom attended a parole board meeting to ask that Jason not be granted parole,  he noticed and heard some things about Jason that he wasn’t expecting. And so began a journey into trying to understand what happened.

Through a restorative justice project, and what is named the Victim-Offender dialogue, victims and their offenders have the opportunity to write to each other through a mediator. There are times when they are also given the opportunity to meet. This is what Christy had to say upon watching Tom meet Jason for the first time:

“One of the first things that I noticed about Jason was how remorseful he was; that was one of the first things that touched me when I saw that. And if the victim could see that the person was remorseful, imagine how much of their life they could save, not having to wonder?”

This was an absolute lovely story to hear about; rich in detail with the opportunity to listen to all of them tell their story. It is worth your time to listen to it:

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