Why Do We Hurt the Ones We Love?

My husband is a very good guy. He is responsible, cares deeply for me and my daughter. However, I seem to only feel, think, and act very negatively of him or I am just mean to him. I do love him and I want to feel that love. What can I do?

Perplexed

Dear Perplexed,

Sounds like you have a case of the “I don’t really love myself enough” syndrome. That is my non-medical diagnosis for the condition you have. I have often heard your question phrased this way, “Why do we hurt the ones we love the most?” Since you are trying to figure that one out, I first and foremost recommend taking inventory of how you treat yourself.

How do you feel about yourself? Are you wishing you were more, better, faster, and are frustrated because you’re not? Are you happy with your work, the way you’re raising your children and the example you are setting? Do you feel joyous and grateful to be alive?

If you don’t feel very good about yourself and you are not taking responsibility for that, then it can wind up coming out in relationships in several different forms which include (and are not limited to):

  1. You want him to change and be different; primarily so you can feel better. The truth is, even if he did change, he still wouldn’t be good enough because you are not feeling good enough and you’ll continue to project it out on him.
  2. You get upset at little things he does or that happen to you in your life. Your reaction is your soul trying to tell you I’m hurting and I need to express it.
  3. You say mean things. This is another way of your feelings trying to express themselves.
  4. You feel powerless because you have no idea what to do to deal with the feelings of fear, anger, grief, sadness, loneliness, worthiness, etc.

As you can see low self-esteem and poor self-image can be dangerous to both you and your loved ones. The first step is to acknowledge you’re hurting and let yourself know that is ok. Feelings, all feelings, are valid. What you do with those feelings is the way you make or break your results. Even if you have a high IQ your intelligence will not help you solve the problem. The logic of the brain needs to make way for the wisdom of the heart. Many people today have lost the connection to their heart wisdom. You will not be able to think your way to a healed and authentically joyous place.

You must face the darkness in your soul. Before you do this though, begin to practice saying nice things to yourself. You must become more compassionate (with yourself). There is no room for self-abuse. Then, be with your feelings. Know that they are real and they are not who you are, rather they are messages from your heart.  Feel it and channel it in positive healing ways. A great way to get on the road to healing is through a good psychotherapist who encourages you to get into your feelings. Make sure that your internal heart work does not stop there. Acknowledging and accepting your feelings is the first part. Channeling the energy of these emotions to serve you for the better is the next step.

Like the Feminine Power Card displayed on the right says on the pink side, “Anger is a
Pink-Anger-web message to understand your fears and take care of yourself.” And it encourages you to contemplate on the blue side, “How can I channel my anger such that the result is positive for myself and others?”

Take the energy and do good things. Take on the commitment to see this feeling through until it transforms. To be there for it like a good friend.

Here’s a simple story of how I did this. One day a friend visiting me talked me into seeing a movie that I knew was scary and would be hard to take, but I gave in trusting her that it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought. Well, it was really scary and hard and boy was I angry afterwards. I realized that taking it out on her or myself would not serve any purpose, so I was very quiet until we reached home. I didn’t know what else to do but I knew I was committed to not harming anyone. So I kept asking myself over and over on the way home the question, “What can I do with this energy?” I knew it had to be something that was not harmful and useful for dealing with the feeling. Then I proceeded to go into my bedroom and cry and get some of this pent up energy out. Crying was good but it wasn’t enough. Then I ripped out my journal and frantically started writing everything this feeling was feeling, thinking and upset about and wanted. That was good but it wasn’t enough. I took a really hot bath because that is something nurturing I love. That was helpful, but it still wasn’t enough. Then I cried some more and journaled some more. And then I was flooded with peace and a whole new perspective. This movie was a gift. It gave me the gift of addressing the pent up fears, anxieties and stressors that I had. They released all because my friend wanted to see this movie and I went. There was no more anger. I received the gift of the events of the day and the feelings inside me. I continued to enjoy a deeper appreciation and connection with my friend.

So I cannot tell you how to channel the energy. Rather I encourage you to explore it, honor it and do what you can that feels appropriate and you know is a positive step for you.

In Joy,

Laura

How To Break Bad Relationship Pattern

Are you stuck in a relationship rut? You know you either keep finding unsatisfactory partners, no love connection, or you simply have been avoiding relationships all together. If this is true, and yet in your heart of hearts you secretly desire the love of your life, there is hope. The good news is you are aware of the frustration. In fact, feeling those uncomfortable emotions is going to help. If you have been trying to ignore, deny, or stuff those feelings, try something new. When you can give those feelings some air time, you may begin to realize that the reason they are there is because of the underlying desire to have more love in your life. If you didn’t want love, you would be frustrated, scared, sad, ____ (you fill in the blank).

Shifting perspective about your feelings to something like: Your emotions allow you great insight and can be used as a tool to get what you want. Read that last line a few times and maybe even reword it the way you would say it.

Honestly ask yourself:

What am I feeling? And simply feel it.

What do I want to feel?

How can I create that?

If your answers include someone else having to do something, then try answering the question by getting what you want through your own efforts and resources.

If you want to have more love in your life, cultivate joy first and foremost. It truly is the magic antidote. Even if you don’t immediately find the love of your life, you will be happy by default.

Recently, I had a discussion with John Gray, PhD, Charles J. Orlando, Barbara Shiffman and Kelly Crossing about breaking the pattern of creating bad relationships. Watch below and find more inspiration in the Feminine Power Cards. A personal relationship coaching deck to keep in your purse, desk or share with clients and friends.

How to Recover from a Big Fight.

Dear Coach Laura,

My significant other and I had a really big fight recently. I didn’t like the way I behaved and I know that triggered him. I am afraid this may happen again. Can you give me some advice on how to prevent reacting so badly?

Emotional One

Dear Emotional One,

You have summarized the classic behavior that indicates, “What you are fighting about is not what you are fighting about.” Check in with yourself. What is the issue at hand? If you were arguing about something small (that you know can come up again) chances are there is a deeper issue. The key to changing the pattern is identifying what is really going on. In order to identify what is really going on, you must stay engaged in the issue without being entrenched in it. Here are the basic steps. I recommend getting professional help with them if your issue comes up repeatedly.

Step 1: Avoid making your point over and over. Let go of having to be right. Focus on what you really want. That is, to understand what is the underlying emotional triggers and create harmony within. You may want to look to what is frustrating to you about your OWN life. Are you projecting it on the relationship? If so, take ownership of that fact. That is the gift of surrendering being right.

Step 2: Be willing to be uncomfortable. Start asking yourself questions. What am I feeling? What do I want to be feeling? What do I need to really feel better?

Step 3: Allow yourself to be open to other possibilities you otherwise wouldn’t see about the situation. Think about his point of view. Contemplate it as a possibility instead of rigidly defending your own point of view.

Step 4: Commit to a win-win solution. It can only be a solution for you if it’s a solution for him too. You need to play on the same side. That is, inside your loving relationship.

In his book, Passionate Marriage, Dr. David Schnarch encourages readers to create inter-dependent relationships. If you are getting stuck in a pattern, chances are you are in a codependent pattern. Look to take more responsibility for your stuff.

Yours In Joy.

Coach Laura

Peacefully Resolve Conflicts in Relationships

Peacefully Resolve Conflicts in Relationships

My husband said for the first couple of years we were together that things were going so well in our relationship that he was waiting for “the other shoe to drop” when we would have a big fight. I wasn’t surprised that it never happened. Mind you, we have areas of disagreement but they never become big issues.

As a student and coach of communications and relationship development, I am continually learning and practicing skills to enhance relationships. At one point my husband had an aha moment. He said, “I now understand why we are not going to have that big fight.” Below are some points he mentioned that I also believe are the some key elements of peacefully resolving conflicts in relationships.

1. Each partner takes responsibility for his/her feelings and his/her part in the situation. It is imperative that each partner acknowledge and reflect upon his/her own feelings and reactions to things.

2. Have a commitment/intention to put love in the space of your relationship. I will often ask myself something like, “How can I be loving to myself and my partner?” It is especially important to ask this question when you don’t feel like it.

3. Refrain from holding onto expectations of your partner behaving a certain way in order to “make” you happy. The minute you expect him/her to behave a certain way so you can feel better, you’re trapped in a no-win situation. You must make yourself happy and then be in relationship. Expectations will trap your partner into “having” to be a certain way and will lead to resentment on his/her part or disappointment on yours.

4. No assumptions. Whatever you do, don’t assume he/she did something on purpose to hurt you. Instead, give him/her the benefit of the doubt and then seek to verify what the case is. Negative assumptions is like poison to a relationship.

5. Speak the truth about yourself. Use “I feel…” and stick to feelings (not words that imply he/she did something to cause this feeling). For example, feeling words include: sad, angry, depressed, insecure, confused, afraid, jealous, sick, frisky, elated. Words that implicate your partner (that you won’t want to use) include: rejected, pushed, conned, judged. Avoid using the word “you” when expressing your feelings. Stick to “I.”

6. Never lash out. Say nothing instead. And contemplate what you are feeling. Lashing out is merely avoiding facing the truth about what you are feeling.

These take practice. I will admit I am not perfect. What is key for me is staying conscious to these principles and apologizing quickly if I’ve stepped over the line. Thus, I highly recommend keeping them present in your life and practicing them. It will make all the difference.

These principles and many more are incorporated into the Feminine Power Cards which are daily reminders and practices for living in feminine energy and creating juicy harmonious soul-connected relationships.

Wishing you joy-filled connections.

Coach Laura

Why Do I Hurt When I Left An Abusive Relationship?

Dear Coach Laura,

I was emotionally and physically abused in my last relationship of 8 years. I know I made the right choice to leave. Yet, I have some many questions… why did he even bother to come back all those times when he knew he didn’t want us? Why is he happy and I am not? Why do I feel I got the short end of the stick and never did anything to deserve it? If you can shed some light on this matter that would be great.

Signed, Hurting

Dear Hurting One,
Thank you so much for reaching out. It takes courage to share yourself with another and I want to acknowledge the tremendous strength you have.

First of all, I recommend bringing the focus completely to you and your healing. It no longer makes sense to focus on him – whether he’s happy or not. Whether he is happy or sad will not help you in your healing and recovery from this long and painful journey. He cannot help you and never has been capable of that. That being said, can you see how much strength you have? You have put up with so much in order love another. You are a power-full woman. You have an opportunity to live life much more fully and create your own happiness now that you are free from a destructive relationship.

By the way, your perception of getting the short end of the stick is just that, a perception. After all, he’s the one who no longer has you as an option. You are obviously intuitive, smart, and very caring. You have so much going for you and so much to be thankful for which you are gifted with.  Sure you’re in pain now. It’s called grieving. You are grieving a relationship that you relied upon as a familiar place to hang out. That’s ok. Explore your feelings here. Take responsibility by accepting the past and focusing on what you want going forward.

I also will warn you not to place him in the villain role because that then makes you a victim. Victims are powerless and can only stay hurt and stuck. Healing is the direction you can choose to go instead. So a change in perspective is warranted. He was in your life to teach you many lessons and make you stronger for it. If you can be so brave and self-compassionate, then explore what his presence in your life has gifted you with. I’m sure he did things that were wrong and very hurtful and as a result you’ve made a choice to leave. So don’t let him have any more power over you. Also, blaming yourself for not letting go sooner does not serve a positive purpose. Again, it puts you in a victim role to your fear. Rather, trust that the timing is fine and for the best. You may not have been ready prior to the time it happened.Trust

Be kind to yourself. Know that you deserve love that is honoring and harmonious. If you remain in a state of sadness and feeling like “why me,” then reach out for some therapeutic help. Lord knows I’ve done my share and with a good counselor I’ve made incredible breakthroughs.

Also, surrounding yourself with people who celebrate you, lift you up and admire your strengths is a great way to build your esteem at this time. Be careful not to play the victim around others. Give up complaining. You can share your feelings but do not blame anyone (not even yourself). Be with your feelings purely. Blaming is merely way of avoiding the truth. You are strong. You are a phenomenal woman. Imagine our community encircling you with love and adoration. We see you as a vital happy woman.

In Joy,
Coach Laura

PS: For some self-coaching, the Feminine Power Cards give tremendous support. Visit http://www.FemininePowerCards.com

Are men put off by powerful women?

Many women over the years have commented to me or asked about being powerful and how men respond to a powerful woman. My response is it all depends on how you define powerful. Some women’s ideas of what a powerful woman is would be off putting to men. The characteristics of bullying, competing directly, trying to force or manipulate people or situations or using demeaning remarks that criticize are all traits that turn men off. A woman in her feminine power, however, is a magnetic force that most honorable men can’ get enough of.

These power traits that are compelling include:

  • A woman who knows how to make herself happy and expresses her joy.
  • A woman who takes responsibility for her life and financial well-being. This doesn’t mean you have to be rich (though you could be) Rather you come from a place of stability. The minute a man senses you “need” him, he’ll be running.
  • A woman who communicates her needs and desires directly.
  • A woman who honors her emotions and takes responsibility for having them. She never resorts to blame, shame or guilt.
  • A woman who makes choices that honor herself and her well-being.

Recently, a 60 year old extremely successful woman client of mine relayed to me that she has realized that over the years men have really appreciated her and been drawn to her work as a financial advisor because she is a woman who could match them intellectually and competently, and yet have a gracious quality to her client relationships and delivery of her work. Feminine Power Cards - Radiant Woman

The Feminine Power Card that says, “A Woman In Joy is a Radiant Woman” really says it all. A woman in joy makes herself a priority. She takes care of herself to the point where she consciously creates joy in her life. When you create joy in your life, and you freely express it you are living authentically. Most likely you have all the power traits that are compelling. So I urge you to create more joy and live power-fully. Please share how you live power-fully.

Here’s to power-full you.

Coach Laura

How To Prevent Drifting Apart in Your Relationship

Dear Coach Laura,

I met a wonderful man 10 years ago. We had similar goals and liked to do many of the same activities. In the last 10 years I’ve spent considerable time and effort learning to become a more confident, less problem-based person. As we all know, life is a journey, not a destination. The journey I started when I began my self development isn’t the same path that my mate chose to begin. Now 10 years later I’ve grown/evolved into a different person with different needs/desires. I have a feeling there are so many things to learn from this experience. As much as I love him, we are in a place where who we are as people is too different to stay in a marriage. After healing from this relationship, should I get into a new one, I would not want this to happen again. What advice can you give me so I can be aware of the beginning of the drift apart?

Sincerely, Healing Soul

Dear Healing Soul,

Last night my husband mentioned the old adage… “Women marry men hoping they will change, and men marry women hoping they won’t.” Knowing this I caution every woman getting into relationship about changing your man. The greatest thing you can do for yourself and your relationship immediately is to dismiss those hopeful thoughts of him changing. If you’ve thought to yourself, “If he’d only…. do something thoughtful, buy me flowers, tell me more of his feelings, etc.” you’re on course for disappointment if you are expecting him to do so. I’m not saying he won’t or ever will. Rather, I am letting you know that your expectation will get you into trouble. In fact, I recommend relying upon the wisdom that Pat Allen says in her book Getting to ‘I Do’ . That is, you will see the best of your guy come out in the beginning of your relationship. In general, the beginning of a relationship is the time he is on his very best behavior. Accept this and otherwise you are headed for heartache. If you feel that what you are seeing in the beginning of your relationship is not good enough for you, do not get deeply or intimately involved with that man. You can be friends but not lovers.

According to David Snarch, author of Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships, having expectations for your partner is a detriment in any relationship. Any expectation of your partner changing in relationship sets you up for deep heartache, disappointment and unhealthy relationship patterns developing. Yes, people change, after all you have. So you won’t be able to predict whether you will grow apart at some point but you can give yourself every opportunity to grow together by taking a few very important steps.

First, understand that expecting him to change in the way you want is the problem. Having expectations that someone else needs to do something in order for you to be happy, puts that partner in a very uncomfortable position. After all if he loves you, he wants to do things for you and be a source of happiness in your life. At the same time if he is compromising himself then he will resent the change you feel you must have in order to be happy. I am sure you don’t want to be with someone who resents you.

Next, you must know define the non-negotiable qualities of the mate and relationship you want to create. The goods news is that you have the time and space to clarify that for yourself.

Clarify the top 3-5 shared values that must be a part of your relationship. To do this, first reflect back on the previous relationships you’ve had. Note the common values you shared. Note the values that are important to you but were not shared. This is a good start of the values clarification process. Each time you go on a date or have a conversation with a man, check in with yourself and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What values did he represent?
  2. Do they match mine?
  3. Are there any values he projected that I could see enhancing my life?
  4. Are there any values he projected that didn’t feel right to me?

I recommend getting to know someone really well before getting physically intimate with them for just this reason: To keep a level head where you can discern the nuances of this man. Explore him curiously while holding onto what’s important to you. Don’t give yourself to him until you know there is a synergy of values and you deeply trust him with your heart. Finding out if you are matched in your personal relationship values will be a huge factor in the joy you both will reap in your relationship over time.

No one is perfect. And the one thing most of us deeply desire is to be loved, appreciated and accepted for who we are exactly as we are. That being said, women who are focused on personal development may also want to consider another area to explore for personal growth. That is the practice of acceptance of another in relationship, enjoying the best of him and all the while taking responsibility for and cultivating your own happiness. Then if you can get your needs met, your guy can be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself and you have retained your power.

Women who are taking steps in growing themselves often miss something when they are in a relationship that doesn’t bring them joy. I should know, I mastered this one early on and became a profound lesson for me. We find it easy to point out those areas where our partners are not evolving. Now I recommend honoring where another is at. This can be especially difficult for a woman who is missing a deep compassion for herself. In reality, it is arrogant to proclaim oneself more evolved than another. You know that this man has helped you to grow in ways you never would have without him in your life and your relationship with him was therefore profound and perfect. And if where he is at doesn’t work for you or you can’t accept that for whatever reason, you must be honest with yourself and make the choices that are right for your true fulfillment.

Honor your process for you are definitely on a path to more joy just by asking this question. This is a wonderfully rich time for you to get to know yourself more, step more fully into your authentic feelings and desires and you will consciously create a new relationship where you can blossom further.

Here’s to your joy.

Coach Laura

Why can't he get more done?

Dear Coach Laura,

I supervise a man in my office who is a big help. I just need him to get more done in a day. How can I encourage him to multi-task. Help, I’m a very Frustrated Supervisor.

Dear Supervisor,

This points to a distinct difference between men and women. In general, men don’t do multi-tasking very well. When they try it often times slows them down. My advice to you is to honor the fact that men are single-focused. This is something very valuable for many reasons that go beyond the scope of your situation. Nonetheless, think about what projects you can assign him that require a strong focus. Most likely that is where he will excel. If there is a way that he can prioritize the projects so that getting them done sequentially is more efficient, you can let him know. Honestly, you cannot teach a man how to muliti-task if he doesn’t already do it. Accepting this fact will ease your frustration. Good luck,

Coach Laura

Why Am I Attracting Commitment Phobic Men?

Dear Coach Laura,

I keep attracting men who seem to have commitment issues.  Is there something I should be looking at within myself?

– Signed Committed & Confused

When to Move Cross Country for Love

I am dating long distance and we are coming up against the difficulty of separation and seeing each other only once a month for a long weekend. Is it realistic to expect to know someone well enough to make a decision to move across the country to form a life together after 5 months of dating? How does one operate a long distance relationship to best advantage?