Author Archive for Annie Lalla

I Love You, I Hate You…

love you hate you

I never thought I was capable of hatred. It was the ugliest human emotion, one my identity loathed to own.

Sadness, fear, shame, pain…I could entertain all of them, but anger had no place at the table.

My husband was the first person who gave me permission to be angry. Somehow he knew beneath my rage was a sacred truth howling to be heard.

It was he who gave my hatred dignity, and a voice.

Once, at the height of an escalated fight, he stabbed 3 words straight into my heart, “I hate you”.

Everything stopped. I thought for sure we were over.

“How can you hate me?” I asked, mortified.
“I’m angry…and right now I hate you,” he explained.


I felt him breathe into a sudden softening, “But…” he added, “I love you more than I hate you.”

Could someone actually love me and hate me at the same time? Until that moment they seemed mutually exclusive. All of a sudden they were united and transcended in one sentence.

I’ve long known that True Love is the white light of human emotion; the multi-colored spectrum of all feelings contained inside. Staying in love requires the skillful practice of tuning into the somatic sensations that fund every feeling in our body. Whether it be joy, surprise, sadness, fear or anger -love requires you befriend them all.

My husband & I devised a strange equation to explain our complex, multi-faceted feelings for each other:

True Love = 50% Attraction + 50% Repulsion

At first glance it might seem hard to hold. How can I be attracted to someone as much as I’m repulsed by them? And how could that produce lasting Love?

The best metaphor is our planet spinning around the sun. We all know that gravity attracts the earth towards the sun. Simultaneously the centrifugal force pulls earth outwards, away from the sun. These two forces provide the opposing tension or “tensegrity” that keeps the planet continually rotating in orbit around the star.

If there was more than 50% attraction, the earth would spiral inwards & crash into the sun. If there was more than 50% repulsion the earth would spin out of orbit into space. It’s that perfect ratio of 1/2 attraction, 1/2 repulsion that holds the whole system together.

So too in relationship, the system’s stability persists when it has both pleasure and pain, desire and dislike, happiness & horror. The emergent magic of love comes from the dialectic, when contradicting thesis and antithesis are synthesized. This is the root of true collaboration.

Some couples have too much attraction and burn up early or spiral into co-dependence. Other couples have too much repulsion and spin out of meaningful contact or dissolve in a break-up.

I definitely had moments of disdain and defeat in my early romance. But back then I’d keep them hidden, even from myself. I had it coded that to love is to have only warm, happy thoughts of my partner. It took a man who was utterly unapologetic about his anger to inspire me with the courage to share my darker feelings in real time. And not from a place of punishment but from a genuine desire to expose my inner truth as an act of intimacy.

I remember one poignant moment after an exasperating conflict riddled with mutual but unspoken hate, I broke down in sobs confessing despair to Eben. “I can’t see our future” I cried, raw & heartbroken. It felt as if our relationship was dying.

Something about my honesty moved him. He leaned forward with outstretched arms, “I’m in despair too. Let’s be in despair together.”

We hugged and cried in a heap of hopelessness. Slowly but surely, the despair that had indicated “the end” turned into despair that re-united us.

Love is not just happy, soothing, empowered emotions, it’s mad, brooding, fearful feelings. Love isn’t interested in your happiness, it wants you to feel alive & grow.

When it comes to love, attraction makes sense, but why so much repulsion?

Resistance arises organically when our cherished beliefs are challenged, especially in relationship. Our partner is a bull-in-the-china-shop of our status quo persona. They break important sh*t in their wake.

But we don’t keep partners to conserve our mediocrity. We hire our lover to be foreman for the construction of who-we-really-are from who-we-think-we-are. That can feel scary, painful & repulsive, especially if we identify with our wounds.

When our lover holds up their sacred mirror to reflect both our brilliance and our blind spots, we can despise the messenger or we can heed the gift. If they do their job right, our partner penetrates and conquers the tyranny of our small defended self. But that self doesn’t want to be transcended, it likes running the show, so it defends its territory with hate. Repulsion is a weapon against what’s so.

We only reject in others those parts that are marginalized in our selves. All hate is fundamentally the projection of our own shadow. And the sooner we can admit to our hatred and integrate those lost parts, the more room for love between us and another.

We hate what we fear. True Love is a process of transcending our latest identity with the next, and transcend means include. If we let our disowned hate stop us from dying into the next level of greatness invoked by our partner, then we’re letting fear win over love.

For a relationship to actually last forever, we have to be willing to feel the desolation of darkness and the liberation of light. Attraction & repulsion are partners in love and they must be honored as a couple.

No rainbow worth it’s name has only your favorite colors inside. A rainbow has ALL of them. Take it or leave it. Just like Love.

However, I suggest you take it.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

How to know when a couple should break up or stay together…

-especially if you’re in one?









The conclusion to break-up can be an honest, heart-felt assessment made from a calm, loving place OR it can erupt from a myopic, triggered frustration based on intense pain, jealousy or anger. All too often it’s the latter. I lament so many individuals end their relationships from a contracted place of blame, shame & disconnect, instead of a kind, open-hearted discussion about moving in different directions.

A break up can mean one individual no longer sees how the emotional, physical, financial & opportunity costs of making the relationship work outweigh the advantage to their aliveness & development. People are drawn to each other for specific (often unconscious) reasons, either to develop a skill, learn something new or heal a wound. Whatever benefit drew them towards that relationship may now be satisfied and the current dynamic no longer optimizes their growth.


Never Break-up During a Fight

Anger can blind us to all sorts of information. Break-ups made during fights are simply untrustable. They erode the self-esteem of both parties. The heart-breaker feels heavy & shameful for causing pain and the heart-broken believes they weren’t good enough. After spending so much time caring and contributing to each other, it’s a tragedy to see partners become enemies.

In our first year of falling in love, my husband and I had a “30-day rule”. No matter how angry, frustrated, betrayed or upset either of us felt, we agreed to put on-hold the possibility of breakup for 30-days. If, after a month of deep consideration, the decision to separate still felt real and appropriate, we’d move towards that transition lovingly. We even went so far as to write little notes to our future selves, expressing how committed we were to making this work, then gave those notes to our partner to hold. They were to be handed back if one of us found our self in a desperate “I’m-about-to-give-up-on-us” moment. It’s hard to threaten the relationship when your mate pulls out an earnest love note written in sober mind, committing to stay through heaven & hell, signed with your name at the bottom.

I believe all relationships are a form of ‘schooling’ and their highest objective (beyond mating) is education. Once you get your degree at university you never claim “it was a failure” because it’s over. Any relationship from which we learned a lot, regardless of whether we’re still with that person or not, was a grand success.

So why do we break-up from rage, demonize our ex’s, and trash-talk the relationship in our own minds in order to move on?

Because we’re attempting to avoid pain. It’s way easier to let go of something that sucks than something that was beautiful, poetic but no longer nourishing. Instead of actually diving inside & feeling the pain, exploring what it has to teach us, we do a romantic version of “sour-grapes”.

For those of you with past romances still ‘bleeding’ from open wounds, know this: how you leave your last relationship deeply impacts your ability to succeed in the next.

Incomplete or dirty break-ups haunt you forever. Learning to break-up with consciousness, grace, and the knowing that some part of you will always love some part of them is a sacred art form. Any break-up you cannot proudly sign your name to, silently eats away at your romantic confidence. Counter-intuitively, it lowers the caliber of partner you attract in the future. Which is why I help my clients break-up with the kind of tenderness that characterized the most poignant moments of their relationship. In other words, to break up from the highest “I love you” they can tap into, while expressing their desire to shift out of romance.


Is Fear Winning Over Growth?

What’s fascinating to me as a Love Coach, working with many couples and observing the patterns that emerge, is how many threats-to-break-up or break-ups have more to do with the wielding of power. We often use ‘force & leverage’ to avoid what we don’t want. And most of us have a latent & invisible terror of transformation. Healthy relationships always shape you, they sculpt you, they carve off your unconscious defensive persona in an attempt to reveal who you actually are under your wound-driven neuroses, beneath your defended self. And when the biggest game of Love is on, fear is hiding in the shadows -fear of not being enough, fear of intimacy, fear of failure, fear of heartbreak & fear of death (the mother of ALL fears).

Ultimately, it’s a primal fear of being forced into identity-level shifts which threaten the individual’s’ current sense of self, that often funds the drive to break-up. To shift your fundamental identity feels like dying. And in a way, it is. But just like learning trades in old paradigms for new ones, so too Love asks you to revisit your most cherished beliefs and check if they are still serving you.

As a couple progresses partners begin to feel: “I have to change in order to be with you” which feels like a rejection of who they currently are. Another, more useful interpretation is “Being with you invites me to become who I really am, beneath my guarded, compulsive ways-of-being”.

In the game of transformation, if you identify as the caterpillar you’ll see the cocoon of relationship as a pending annihilation. If you identify as the butterfly, you’ll have faith in a magnificent re-birth as a freer version of your self. Healthy lovers switch back and forth between these two states, acclimatizing to the quivers of “ecstasy-terror” that form the deepest baseline of True Love relationships.

The self-development being called for by the maturing relationship is often enough to send our comfy status-quo-preserving-selves running for the hills, hence the seemingly inevitable break-up. For those who value self-actualization more than their defensive personas, True Love becomes an excellent opportunity to ascend the developmental spiral towards greatness.

All relationships are work -hard work- the hardest work there is for growth oriented humans. In my experience, everyone wants to run from their partner at some point. Each in-love couple I know, has silently entertained ‘break-up’ at some exasperated point. Relationships bring up ALL our unhealed early attachment wounds with our parents and yet true romance is the optimal container in which those wounds can finally be healed. I have more trust for a love that’s been to the edge of annihilation and back; those relationships have character.


You Marry Your Mother or Father…

Imago therapy suggests, the partner we choose is often a surrogate for the parent with whom we’ve had the deepest wounds. Our attraction is based on an unconscious desire to replay the same familiar (& painful) scripts from our childhood, in hopes that this time, with our new attachment figure (partner) we’ll get our happy ending: to finally feel accepted & loved the way we always wanted. I see it like this: our higher selves “hire” our romantic partners to infiltrate the Fort Knox of our status-quo, emancipate us from our wound-driven smallness and help unleash our stifled greatness. But once they get to work doing the very thing we hired (fell in love with) them to do, we flip out and start to consider breaking-up. Something I learned from author Warren Farrell, criticism and complaints can be seen as bumbled versions of “I love you, I know you can do better?”

There is a way to love your partner just as they are AND simultaneously stand for the highest future version of their selves. For example, I can love my 2 year old daughter’s fumbling sentences exactly as they are now, yet stand for her speaking much better in the future with fluid articulate assertions of her thoughts. She’s perfect right now, unfolding at her own pace AND I know she will do better. Like with all software, the latest iteration does not render previous versions wrong, they’re simply transcended, and transcend always means include. The future version you dream for your partner, does not make their current self “bad or wrong”, rather it transcends and includes all their previous selves. Only when someone feels loved as is, where they currently are in their development, can they be genuinely inspired towards their next version.


Are You Willing to Die?

True Love is not for the faint-hearted, it is a gladiator sport and very rarely attempted seriously in most romance. Why? Because it takes immense audacity, faith & the courage to play it full out. In-Love couples have to “die-into” love. It asks us to trade in our “I” for a “WE”. This may, at first, look like a compromise, but eventually the “WE” -if it’s the right relationship- gives you back an “I” way bigger, more profound and resilient than the one you originally ‘sacrificed’. However, trading in our “I” can feel like annihilation, and understandably has fear associated. When the fear (often masquerading as anger towards the other) wins over the love, this is the point at which most run, escape, break-up, leave the house of US.

True Love is the only force strong enough to keep you in the partner game when everything else says leave. It’s stronger than all your fears put together -perhaps it’s the only thing that is. Despite being marginalized to a fairy tale by many cynics, True Love is the epitome of what’s possible between two people. I believe it is the highest game available to us. And to live your entire life never having known what is possible there, is to miss out on the most exquisite aspect of being a human being. Which is why I’ve dedicated my life to helping people fall & stay in love.

together forever










How Do You Know if You’re Really in Love?

My favorite quote from John Perry Barlow is:

“The difference between love & True Love, is the difference between a very large number & infinity.”

You know it’s True Love when your belief in the relationship wins out over every other belief. At times, in the darkest moments, when all your feelings and evidence suggest leaving is the one option, only your “faith” (bootstrapped from nothing but the audacity of possibility) will keep you going.

Love’s question is this: Are you willing to do the challenging shadow work, using the relationship as a mirror for your hidden blind-spots, letting it sculpt your block of marble into your future David? Or do you leave when your identity gets challenged by a partner who is fighting for your greatness by nudging you to re-invent yourself at the next level up? That’s the final test.

Let me be clear, it’s totally ok if you do leave -I’ve left most of my past relationships once their developmental purpose had been served, yet I consider them all “successful” in that they were educations in love. When you leave you’re indicating: this dynamic is no longer one that best serves your growth.

And it’s not because your partner isn’t good enough or you’re not good enough, it’s because there isn’t a match. Just as if I took my apartment key and tried to open your front door, it wouldn’t work -not because there’s something wrong with my key or your lock, but simply they aren’t a match, and so the door cannot open.

At any given time, whoever you are dating is either the ‘one’ or practice for the ‘one’, so you always want to bring your A-game. Whoever you’re with right now, is always the right person to be with, until you’re no longer together. So long as both parties are ‘in the relationship’, no matter how tumultuous, they’re each getting a payoff (on some level) and I believe the system will naturally shift when both parties have achieved what they came there to learn.

Some people expect their relationship to make them happy and seek to escape when it doesn’t. Relationships that optimize for happiness, comfort or ease are often codependency in disguise. The actualization aspect of Love optimizes for aliveness which encompasses the full range of human emotions. This includes happiness, delight and ecstasy, but it also includes pain, sadness, anxiety and despair. Like a glass prism that breaks light into it’s latent rainbow wavelengths, relationships expose True Love as the white light of emotions. Inside of Love lives all feelings, at every level of intensity. This is an aspect of its infinitude.


When to Stay in a Relationship

You stay when you can look into your partner’s eyes and see access to your greatest version of yourself. You stay when you believe they can & will stand fiercely for your growth, even risking your approval for it. You stay when this relationship serves as a refuge for your soul and a trampoline for your dreams. You stay when you’re sure, no one else could ever love your partner better than you.

There is an other-worldly sense that this person was custom-made-by-the-universe for you, both in their greatness and in their darkness. Their very “flaws” produce the best opportunity for you to transcend your own.

In True Love, the basic needs and emotional wants of our partner demand a certain level of expansion and development in us. One way to look at it is this: Would the person my partner is asking/needing me to become, be a more extraordinary/ powerful/ freer/ truer/ actualized version of myself? If the answer is yes, then they are the ideal gymnasium to develop those very muscles you would never be able to access, far less grow in any other context. Love is a zendo, a spiritual dojo.

Choosing a long-term partner is selecting the highest leverage/ least pain/ maximal growth path to self-actualization you can find. We fall in love with (ie: hire) the sexiest, smartest, most advanced version of the parent we have the most wounds with in order to heal & transcend the hidden shackles from those wounds. It’s the most important job we ever interview for and should be taken very seriously, so never settle. (If you’re wondering “am i settling”, you most likely are.) Don’t settle for good enough, ever. It took me 38yrs to find my soul mate, and I’m no chopped liver. For me, divorce would mean I didn’t do my research properly.

All shadow work has to do with reintegrating fragmented parts of ourselves. Our wounds were formed in-relationship and therefore can only be healed in-relationship. No amount of meditation on a mountain can solve your mommy issues. That’s why comprehensive shadow work cannot be done alone, we need a partner, a blind-spotter, an intimate mirror. One we trust to reflect back the painful but important truths, without which we cannot get to our next level of maturation.

I really want you to explore True Love and have the profound transformation that comes from that dance. Who you will become -for yourself and for the world- will be exponentially more magnificent.

And finally, when considering whether you should stay or you should go, take comfort in knowing this…whichever you choose, will always be right.


Do You Cry or Do You Lie?

Crying is a secret sacred place, a place of solitude.

It’s not a space we navigate with much finesse; there are few maps on how to cry.

Many conflicting feelings arise around tears -fear of looking weak, of being too emotional, guilt for making others feel bad, relief at sharing pent-up thoughts, joy at being seen in our truth. To cry is to render your heart naked, undefended & utterly exposed to the world. No wonder it is shrouded in so much terror, secrecy and shame.

The Dignity of Tears







Only human beings cry.

Other creatures do have tears, that is, their eyes release liquid in response to dust, wind & other irritants. But only humans -with their unique ability to feel into what’s possible- can cry from actual emotions.

Why do we cry?

There are many ways to tell the history of tears. Here’s one possible narrative…

With water being such a coveted resource, and eyesight being our main defense against harm, why would evolution ‘waste’ good liquid and compromise our vision. What is the benefit? Nature must get a payoff for every cost.

I suspect, when humans gathered around the fire to share stories with their tribe, an emergent system arose wherein any member experiencing suffering, sadness, ecstasy or any strong feeling would be exposed with one unmistakable indicator of emotional intensity: tears.

Feelings are internal and can often be hidden, but tears are external and thus seen by others. They are explicit visual ques that indicate: this individual needs help. A bleeding cut on your body says “pay attention, do something to heal the wound”. Similarly, tears say the tribe is bleeding through the tender heart of one member, “pay attention, go and help”.

There must have been a time when tears flowed freely from human beings, a time when they were a clear signal for support. Every new baby cries. Often their howls and tears are the only way we can discern their needs. Children cry honestly when they require something important. But at some point those real tears get decoded by another as something other than an S.O.S. They get shamed, even punished. And in that moment the inherent dignity of tears are lost. From then on, our tears get pushed down and cast out as a native form of communication.

We now live in a world where tears are rarely seen as noble, rarely held as sacred, rarely honored as the most authentic expression of a soul longing to be heard.

Tears…your tears, are the way your body shows you what’s important to you. Holding them back is a form of self-deception and a withhold of your deepest truth. When I feel that familiar proto-tear sensation rising up in my throat, I know I always have a choice in that moment: to cry or…to lie.

Every uncried tear is a lost epiphany, a missed lesson, a moment that failed at aliveness. Each time you cry you release ancient tears from all the moments you didn’t let yourself cry in the past. No tear is ever wasted, each one holds in it’s liquid infinity, 1o years worth of therapeutic salve. Knowing this, I now look forward to opportunities to cry…once the portal is open, I let as many drops out as I can. The more I cry, the more alive I feel.

Tears teach us what we actually care about, they point at what matters the most, they take us back to a place of innocence & transparency. Tears lead us home.

Crying, as I see it, is beyond judgment. Funded by any number of emotions tears are neither good nor bad. They are simply our response to the intensity of being alive. I suspect that wise, enlightened hearts live most of their lives only one thought away from tears.

To cry freely is to fly in the face of cultural imperatives and stand for your right to be expressed. This takes immense power & courage. It’s much easier to hide your tears than to feel them; to suppress your sadness than to share it. It takes a true warrior to cry.

There’s even a romantic glamor in it. To be moved is to be tender-hearted. Cynics never sob. Only one who feels epic emotions and cares deeply about something has the ability to cry. It feels dramatic, poetic to be SO alive. Tears are the most appropriate response to life & love, when they’re fully experienced.

Recently a friend and I shared some painful stories about historic heartbreaks. The space was  safe enough for both of us to feel into some un-felt feelings and let them surface. As soon as her eyes welled up, mine followed in empathic resonance. As is the case with all shared tears, we found each other again, but at a new level of intimacy. There’s nothing like the ancient fellowship of tears.

Next time you feel the intensity of life moving through your body via strong sensations that take discipline to attend to and concentration to hold, I invite you to surrender to the urge to express. Let go of the facade, “I’m fine” or “it’s no big deal”, leave out your apology. I invoke you to consciously make space for your true feelings to occupy the stage; give them the microphone and listen to them speak. They rose up from your unconscious mind to teach you something. Honor them with your listening.

If you can abandon yourself to the truth of your experience, you might feel that familiar tension at the back of your throat, that proto-tears state. I highly recommend you take yourself on a journey through that secret land of tears. Go for a swim through your own emotions. With practice you can map this sacred terrain, where crying is your compass for what’s good, true and beautiful. Become a cartographer of your own heart.

And every time you cry, remember this: you are embarking on a series of revelations. So keep your mind wide and your heart open. You say who you are by what makes you cry…

Staying with your somatic sensations while having an emotion will take you to places beyond your imagination. You’ll meet parts of your heart you never even knew existed. If you are willing to hold the possibility that tears might be your most profound teacher, then crying will become an education about the contours of your own soul. But I must warn you, this practice ultimately becomes a love story -between you and reality itself.

So prepare to fall in love -with all your current, future and past selves.

Let the tyranny of tears invoke your most tender truths.
And let’s choose crying over lying, at last.

-Annie Lalla

Love is Pain

For those of you who want deep love, but are afraid of risking disappointment & pain, here’s something I’ve been learning…to say yes to love, is to say yes to pain.

band aid heart

There’s pleasure in romance, of course -the highest form available to human beings (in my opinion). But every love story has a cost, it’s the cost of opening your heart so fully and raw, so naked & undefended that it can break at the tiniest gesture…an un-returned text, an averted gaze, or a absent smile.

I’ve finally managed to find my soul mate (at 38yrs), we fell in love, got married and now have a baby girl. We do our best to understand each others pain (failing only when our symmetrical wounding impedes co-empathy). Yet still, my heart breaks daily in myriad microscopic ways.

Sometimes my husband’s tone has just enough impatience to send me into rejection; his sudden need for ‘alone time’ can, on occasion, feel like a dagger in my heart. If I reach for his hand and he misses my bid for affection, I might be crushed. A walk through the bathroom in new panties without his noticing, can take down my esteem. Micro heart breaks lurk everywhere when you’re inside a relationship.

Bigger heart breaks court you as well, especially if you’re in love. At times it feels as if your romance was custom built by reality to see how far your heart can stretch to hold more terror, sadness, fear & ecstasy. Strangely enough, the more in love you are, the deeper the heartbreaks.

No matter how sensitive & loving your relationship, disappointment & pain are just part of the game. But over
time, my disappointment becomes the realization that I have unexpressed expectations of my partner that he’s
not privy to. My pain is often funded by some ancient (I’m-not-good-enough) story that lives in my head looking for evidence in his behaviour, rather than a failure of love on his part.

I’ve noticed the more I breathe into & stay with the actual ‘pain’ feelings in my body (somatic sensations) and not get waylaid by the story-about-my-feelings in my mind (mental explanation & justifications), the less the pain lingers and haunts me.

What if every heartbreak was some form of misunderstanding?

My experiential research continually supports this idea -that romantic pain often arises from an incorrect assumption about our partner, an unverified story being held as true. Once their missing perspective is added & understood, the wince of pain & disappointment gives way to new levels of intimacy.

C.S.Lewis says it well:

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable.
Love anything, & your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly
broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must
give your heart to no one. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies
and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the
casket or coffin of your protection. But in that casket -safe, dark,
motionless, airless- it will change. It will not be broken; it will
become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative
to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only
place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the
dangers & perturbations of love is Hell.”

If heartbreak is a fundamental facet of True Love, could you bring more courage, more power & more faith to the broken moments? And if you did that, would you feel more more alive?

When you go to the gym and rip your muscle tissue by lifting weights, it grows back bigger and stronger. The heart is a muscle too & every heartbreak increases its size, strength & capacity to hold more love.

In the end, heartbreak is your primary access to epic romance. So milk every inch of that pain for your own learning & development.

Someday, if you keep the faith, you will feel in your bones the unmistakable truth…that what you get from being in Love is not only worth ALL the heartbreak, it’s because of it.


More Sex + Deeper Love = More Money

Could true love & better sex help align you with your purpose, create more value and drive higher levels of financial success?

I love you > you love me > I love me

If your heart is lonely, desolate and not enlivened, everything you do will be less radiant, less engaging and less successful. If you don’t believe you’re truly lovable, then no amount of success will sustain your yearning for fullness. A true love relationship nourishes your sense of self and satisfies that ache to be loved unconditionally. Being in love with another gives you powerful access to falling in love with yourself. Think about it, if you trust your partner’s perspective, admire how they think, and they choose you as the one they LOVE, you have no choice but to believe they know what they’re talking about.

Eben and I have been practicing a new skill lately, instead of saying “I love you“, during a rush of affection we now say “You love me” -not as a question, but a triumphant statement. I recommend you try this, it will really impact your partner (or family member) in a different, perhaps more meaningful way. Just imagine them saying to you in heartfelt candor, “You love me“. It feels deeply satisfying to hear & know that your love is landing over there with them. It gives you a boost in esteem, empowers you as a lover, makes you appreciate & love yourself more. This can only catapult your success in other areas of life. You shine when you’re truly loved and people will sense it and want to get more of it and buy whatever you’re selling.

Double Your Power

Having a partner support your dreams only helps them come bigger & faster. Just knowing someone is clapping for you, takes your game to the next level. Why else would sports teams do better when they play in home field? When someone has your back, you really can do anything.

It’s easy to be distracted by doubts or get stopped by insecurity when you take on a project by yourself. But when you have someone believing in you, feeding you ideas, offering support and pushing you forward, you inevitably go further and faster.  When someone really loves you, they love not just you, but your dreams, and they’ll stand with you through anything to get there.

Dreams are our mind’s ‘children’. Two parents can always do way more than one parent ever could -for a child or a dream. Romantic partnership powers your success way beyond what you could ever accomplish alone.

Being in love gives you superpowers. It takes whatever your skills are and multiplies them by the resources and skills of your partner. One dream gets done faster with 2 brains & 4 hands. And this not a linear shift, it’s exponential. You are better able to serve the world when you are deeply in love with some particular part of it. Loving another offers important access to loving the world at large. Once sprouted, love grows out in all directions, towards everyone. Customers & clients can feel it and want to be around it.

Relating Sex & Money

How you relate to money and how you relate to sex are directly connected.  Yes indeed, sex & money are joined at the hip in all sorts of unconscious ways. In fact, if you’re struggling in one of these areas, let’s say ‘sex’, then getting your sex life sorted helps your money issues falls into place. It may seem indirect, but it works. Many of my clients have observed this strange phenomenon, in both directions.

Your sex life is an indicator of your receptivity to abundance and pleasure. There seems to be a connection between whether you can give & receive during sex and whether you can exchange value for money in the world.

For many women it can be difficult to receive sexually. We live in a culture where females are taught to give & take care of others first.  Often their value is linked to their ability to do this.

I suspect this comes from a latent belief about our unworthiness, which unconsciously impacts how much we think we deserve to get paid from our work. One unconventional way to lift your income is to practice getting better at receiving during sex. If you’re not sure about whether this applies to you, ask your sex partner, or your ex, they’ll tell straight up you whether you are “good at receiving”, and trust whatever they say.

My favorite technique for curing this is called “Taking Touch“…it starts with the way you caress your lover. Imagine stroking their arm with your fingers, often we move our hand in ways we assume would make our partner feel good. But with the ‘taking touch’ technique, your job is to stroke in such a way that delights your fingertips, feels good on your hand, without even worrying about how it feels for them. Pursuing your pleasure, as a woman, is the easiest way to give your partner permission to pursue theirs. Taking touch is excellent for cultivating your own capacity to receive and absorb pleasure. But you have to actually get out of your head & it’s narratives (“am I doing this right?” “are they liking this?” “am I being good?”) and get into your body. If you’re not bringing your attention & consciousness to your fingertips as you caress, you cannot hope to discern what you enjoy feeling.

The next step is to start applying ‘taking touch’ (private enjoyment of the sensations) anytime you are touched, caressed, fondled. Try to feel the delight rushing into your body directly from their hands, mouth, c*ck. On your inhale, imagine you are sucking in pleasure through your pores and the wider you open them, the more yummy it feels.

We all have pleasure thresholds, limits to how much ‘delight’ we can tolerate comfortably, past which we experience as ‘too much’, ‘unsafe’, or even ‘scary’.  When we reach our limit, we subtly shift position, move our partner away, or try to reciprocate instead. Your work is to not move, but stay in your body with the physical pleasure & push that limiting edge forward. Keep stretching, keep feeling the sensations, and notice each time that you don’t die!  This is a muscle you can only build with repetitive practice. Even if you simply last 1 second longer each time, it’s progress.

Creative Cum” -another edgy technique I teach my clients is to use their orgasms for magic & creation. Every time you ‘come’ your mind gets soft like plasticine, it becomes ready for shaping with autosuggestion. In fact an orgasm is a very intense trance state where you can consciously lay down anchors linked to outcomes you want. Why waste such a good opportunity to embed some visions of your desired future?

If you want a new job, imagine your dream job while you’re climaxing. If you want a new car, imagine that.

Whatever you want, visualize that at peak pleasure -always in 1st person & always in present tense.

When I first started my coaching practice, I struggled to invoice my clients; months would go by without a bill. I felt guilty charging others to do something I loved. So I went to the bank and took out $10 000 in cash. Next time I was about to masturbate, I spread the bills all over my bed. As I approached orgasm I stared at the money and imagined it coming in to me in exchange for massive value going out to my clients. I saw a cycle of value exchange and it got anchored with my sex.  Ever since then…I’ve been making six figures.

So what’s the moral of this whole story?

  •   Having a romantic partner makes your dreams happen faster
  •   Your receptivity to pleasure scales with your receptivity to money
  •   What you imagine while you come…will come


5 Things He Must Feel To Fall In Love

Want to be in love forever?

If so, you first need to know how to recognize the real thing. Since often, it’s the woman who sees it, before the man.

As a relationship expert & love coach, I’ve found the primary indicator of real love is when your body, your heart & your mind all converge on the same undeniable truth: this man was made for you. There’s also an unflinching awareness that you were made for him. Basically, if you would bet your life (and his) that no other woman could ever love him better than you, then you’ve found the One.

But, let me warn you…Love is not easy. Once the starry-eyed phase has progressed into the inevitable power-struggle, that’s when the real work begins. But it’s good work, and it provides the most direct access to intimacy. Relationships are the most intense personal growth workshops that exist. They’re the places you dive deep into your darkest shadow work. Love is not for the faint-hearted; it’s a gladiator sport. And that’s why I’m such champion for the highest, most resilient form possible, True Love.

6 things he must feel to fall in love

You need a relentless, unshakable force strong enough to keep you doing the intense self-inquiry required to make a partnership effective, long term. Your partner, if right, becomes a mirror for your magnificence and your myopias. A long-term relationship demands that you die-into a more expansive version of you, and it can be terrifying (to your status-quo self). Only True Love is strong enough to withstand the uncontrollable urge to run, to leave when it gets too hard.

And that is the point. Love is a sacred crucible for self-actualization. I believe it’s our fastest access to transformation. This game is about rolling up your sleeves and getting down to those wounded areas in the basement of your psyche that you’ve been avoiding your whole life.

Here are some common reasons why you may not have found lasting love or marriage…yet. Listen for which statement(s) might apply to you:

  •  You treat men as if they’re more important or less important than you (both are equally dangerous & produce the same result, ie: he doesn’t feel met)
  • You believe someone should love you ‘just the way you are’ instead of seeking a partner who will stand for your greatest self
  • You want to be rescued –physically, financially, emotionally, intellectually
  • You’re riddled by shame, fear & hopelessness, you think true love is a fantasy that doesn’t exist
  • You’re desperately attached to being married with kids by a certain date, and looking for a good enough husband. Being in love is less important that being married
  • You’re unwilling to look at your own patterns that interfere with true intimacy
  • You’re ashamed of sexuality and have loads of unexplored guilt around it
  • You’re disconnected from your feelings & don’t share them openly with yourself or partner
  •  You’re addicted to control and secretly want to have more power than he does
  • You’ve forgotten you’re a goddess, a creatrix and a high priestess deserving of love. If you don’t know you’re a Queen, you’ll never find your King

These are the unproductive beliefs I had once, and often find in my female clients. If any of these statements resonated for you, pay close attention to the rest of this article. If you don’t get these identified and handled, you may keep doing the same things over and over and never find your life partner, or worse…you’ll find a good enough guy, but you won’t be “in love” and the romance will eventually dissolve leaving you feeling alone & disillusioned.

If you want to have your dream guy fall in love and stay with you forever, he has to experience the following 5 things first

1) You as THE safest place for him to go on the planet: Your arms, your eyes, your lap, those have to be a refuge for him. It can be a scary world to your partner’s inner child. If he doesn’t feel safe in your presence, he will not choose to build a life there, you can never be ‘home’.  However, if you become the safest place on the planet for his heart’s secret needs; he will never leave. You’ll continue to win over every other woman. Wherever his novelty-seeking eyes wander, he’ll always be called back to you.

2) He wants to feel like a hero: This requires you to surrender to his strengths, wherever they are. Men want to feel trusted by their woman, that’s what they interpret as love.  This means you must learn to lean into his unique wisdom, his power and his support. Trust is not earned, it can only be granted. Believe in his desire to serve you, nourish you and push you toward your wants. Look for the hero in your partner, acknowledge, revere  & appreciate that aspect. Men fall in love with the woman who lets him be her hero.

3) He wants to feel praised, NOT put down:  With your partner, reward good behavior & ignore bad behavior. What you put your attention on grows -it doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative attention. Do not use leverage, criticism or manipulation to get what you want, rather invite a new behavior by making requests laced with trust & desire. This is the feminine way to influence, seduce rather than coerce. Men hunger to be acknowledged for specific things and in public if possible. Also notice how your ego may hold you back from sharing empowering, affirming feedback with your man, as an attempt to maintain leverage & power. Power is not the currency of true love, open-hearted transparency is.

4) He wants to have a great sex life: Keep developing yourself and your sexuality so that you and him can have a non-shameful, exciting sex life. The litmus test of a relationship working long-term is their sex life. Sex makes or breaks relationships. Like food, it’s not a luxury, it’s a staple and must be made a priority. If you want a guy to choose you to sleep with for the rest of his life, you have to learn to enjoy sex, share your needs, wants & fantasies, and be open to hearing his. Constantly re-invent your sexuality together. Until these primal issues around sex & shame are explored openly with surgical sensitivity, they will haunt & undermine your relationship. 

5) He wants to hear your truth:  Share your fears, pain, desires and dreams with him; in particular show him your humanity. He’s looking for a place where all his emotions are safe to land. If you cannot own & express your own emotions, you definitely won’t be able to help him with his. For any relationship to really work, you have to get good at ‘feeling’ (not thinking what you feel but actually feeling sensations in your body, in your somatic space). Many men don’t know how to feel their feelings and they’re unconsciously looking to their woman to teach them. A man falls in love with the woman he feels most alive around. A woman creates a field of aliveness when she’s experiencing & expressing her emotion, without justification. Learn to identify, map & name your emotional states, then practice sharing them. This can be scary but it’s a crucial skill, if you want to connect with your partner’s heart.

Now that we’ve explored the main experiences needed for a partner to surrender, we shall invoke the last requirement of a love that lasts forever…Faith.

Having Faith

Faith is the umbilical cord that connects you and your lover to each other and romantic success. Faith has no reasons, proofs or justifications…it’s a blind resolve based on nothing but the unwavering belief in something you find true, good & beautiful. Faith requires an unreasonable audacity. It is something you create in yourself, by yourself. When you forget all the ‘reasons’ for your love or cannot feel the encouraging emotions in your body, faith is the only thing that keeps you going when the situation seems dark & hopeless. Cultivating faith is a muscle and it must be practiced individually and privately when doubt tries to creep in.

As a woman, you are the emotional leader in your relationship. Which is why it’s important to master these skills if you’re committed to a love that lasts. Some things cannot be learned, except through creation. I invite you to take on becoming a creator of love, even in the face of fear. True Love requires only one thing: that you believe in it. I know somewhere deep inside you is an ember that burns with the knowing that true love exists; let’s blow on that ember & make a fire that fuels your own private fairytale. You can never have what you don’t believe in. So believe.


He Wants to Break Up…

Desperate & confused about the volcanic conflict in her relationship, my client “C” recently wrote me for support. After working with her for over 2 years, she finally found her true love. But they were deep in the power struggle phase, fighting all the time. He was ready to give up, pushing hard for a break-up. She was terrified & losing faith. Here’s what I wrote back:

(btw, see my 10 Question Love Test to check if you/ your partner are really in love)

Hello C, so sorry you’re in agony.

But this is exactly what True Love looks like sometimes – messy, ugly & despairing.

Your relationship is building character right now. Matters of the heart are always complex & labyrinthine. Don’t worry about how far this seems from the fairytale. A love that has been to the edge of annihilation and back is wiser & more trustable.

True Love is the most painful education there is. Remember, it doesn’t take a lot to make love work…it takes everything. And in my research it’s worth each wince, quiver & heartbreak, if you stay with the “Initiation”.

The “Initiation” -which never ends- is learning to continuously generate faith in the success of your relationship even when you’re most scared, angry or upset. The faith comes not from your feelings, reasons, evidence or proofs, but is conjured de novo from the audacity of your imagination. It’s funded by a deep commitment to something you believe is good, true & beautiful -the partnership itself.

True Love is the strongest force I know of in the universe, but it has no power if you don’t believe in it.

I think your relationship can survive the current drama and I will help you get through. But this will take more courage, resilience and outrageous dedication than you have ever wielded before. Love can render the impossible possible, but it requires your faith.

Don’t listen to friends who encourage you to give up. Much of the world won’t support your being in love; it highlights where they may have settled. You have to be willing to walk some paths alone. It takes daring to stay in a game that others think you’re losing.

No one else can fight for your love, only you. And it’s always a private battle between your inner idealism and silent cynicism -two sides of the same coin (since all cynics are failed idealists). I’m here to reconnect you to your deep romantic dream -the part of you that believes in magic & destiny.

Here’s the deal, True Love doesn’t look any one way…just like a son or daughter doesn’t look any one way…each time love emerges between two people it looks different and is different. Yet, there are some unifying characteristics of True Love you can practice & cultivate:

1) Be willing to do whatever it takes to understand your partner’s emotions & perspective. Are you willing (like Orpheus for Eurydice), to descend into ‘hell’ & risk that horror in order to reconnect with your lover? What if you knew the development required to do that work would make you a more extraordinary human…

2) Feel all the feelings in the spectrum that arise in you -from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of despair. Learn to stay with your somatic awareness, breathe through each feeling that visits and interview it for its wisdom. Being able to stay with the intensity of anger or fear and not threaten the relationship or give up on the partnership is crucial.

True Love “is the white light of emotion” (says author D. Ackerman)…a glass prism shows light is comprised of every color in the rainbow, so too Love is comprised of every feeling in the psyche. We must learn to feel each of them in order to earn our place in the exclusive cult of True Love. All of this takes gladiator courage, plus a heart that is willing to break & heal, break & heal -over and over again.

3) No matter how bad it feels or looks right now…stay connected to the knowledge that being with your lover is a privilege and an exquisite gift worth fighting for, perhaps even dying for (ie: your protective, defended persona must die-into the raw authentic self that your partner is actually in love with)

4) Notice the parts in you that see perfection or catastrophe. Don’t trust either of them. Reality rarely falls at the extremes of ideal happiness or full on disaster, it happens mostly between, in the grey zone. You, my dear, tend to polarize and pendulum swing from one extreme to the other (happily-ever-after vs. we’re f*cked). Start tracking this ancient habit of projecting binary outcomes in black & white, good or bad and expect results in between. Reality is way more nuanced, subtle & complex…as are you.

5) Never ever give up, even when everything in you (or your partner, or the world) says so. When two people are actually in love (for real) break-up is not even an option. You know in your soul they were custom-made-by-the-universe for you and you for them, so there’s no where else to go. It’s a strange, inevitable trap.

I recommend you take some space to ground and calm yourself; use movement if you can. Dance, stretch, walk, hike. If you’re angry, scared, confused or overwhelmed with doubt it’s your job to regulate your nervous system when you’re triggered/ upset. Don’t fall into the victim-stance that expects him to rescue you from your pain & fear. It’s our responsibility as adult women (and future mothers) to practice generating safety for ourselves in our body & in our circumstances.

If your surroundings have you feeling physically unsafe, take action & change them. If you feel emotionally unsafe, use conscious breathing, meditation, stretching, yoga, visualization, dance, anything that gets you into your body & back to the present moment. Once you’re good at feeling your feelings (tuning into the physical sensations in your soma-scape) by staying connected to your breath, you’ll then become aware of your ancient wise-woman-wisdom, and it will be obvious what to do next.

When we internally regulate our emotional states first, our partner is then better able to regulate their nervous system. Remember, your man is unconsciously looking to you as a mother figure (all men do) and if mommy is not grounded, safe & calm, baby boy can’t feel safe & calm….so the woman has to lead. 

You say he wants to break up. But break-ups should only ever occur when both parties are soft, loving and deeply intimate…never during a fight. If both people are in a place of mutual reverence and still aware they’re not a match as life partners then it may be appropriate to shift the dynamic. However, the fact that your historic “break-ups” have always been driven by anger/ conflict makes them untrustable.

Know this: True Love always wins. ALWAYS, that’s a fact…and if you really believe you & your man are soul mates, then no matter what it looks like now (happy, angry, sad, fighting, together, broken up, separated, in mutual simultaneous orgasm, panic…whatever) trust you both will eventually find your way back to each others’ hearts & end up together. Your ability to lean in and trust this truth will allow you to relax about how it all looks right now and let the process unfurl organically. Let go of any time limits you are placing on the “issue”. Each love has its own rhythm and pace, one cannot rush romance.

I believe in you & your love. But you’re the only one that can keep the flame of your dream alive. No matter how dim it gets, never, ever let it go out. 

As for the pain…the heart is a muscle, every break makes it stronger. You have an epic love story in the making and it demands you keep standing for it regardless of your fleeting thoughts or feelings. True Love is a realm available only to those who believe & are willing to do the ego-transcending work it demands. This game is not for the fainthearted; it’s a gladiator sport. But, I know you can do it, you were made for this. And I’m right here at your side, clapping.

-With softness, Annie

Annie Lalla
Relationship & Love Coach
“Fear is when love stops short of infinity” 

Click here to take or download the love test. 

Lover or Liar? Pick One

Has someone you loved ever lied to you?  How did you feel?  How did you react?
Have you ever lied to someone you love? How did it feel to deceive?  What was your ‘reason’? 
It doesn’t feel good…lying, or being lied to.
In fact, nothing feels more betraying than to discover someone you trusted has told you an outright lie. 
Lies can take the form of an intentional mis-truth or a silent withhold, either way they’re intended to deceive.  Whoever said “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” failed to add, “unless you find out later“.
Lies are how we maintain power over each other.  
And power is a coveted commodity in a relationship.  
Whoever has the power, controls the relationship.
Whoever control the relationship gets more of what they want.
95% of couples remain stuck in the power battle for their entire relationship.
The power struggle is a phase that all relationships experience but very few transcend.
Because it’s hard work to move past the control game, the hardest in fact.  It takes a continual commitment to sharing your emotional truths, your needs & your wants -a daily feat that requires immense courage and trust. It’s vulnerable to share our desires or admit how we really feel. Our feelings are so sensitive -we risk being ignored, shamed, invalidated, rejected.  As one friend says “every heart is as delicate as a snowflake,” indeed.
However, perhaps you are one of those rare dreamers…willing to do whatever it takes to have a True Love that escapes the quicksand of the power struggle. Maybe you want to experience the deepest, most rewarding forms of intimacy available in romance (before you die!).  If you are one of those people -my people- I’m talking directly to you.  
There’s no way to get there, but through. The only antidote to wielding leverage to get your way is  unbridled truth. Bring your needs and your sacred wants to the table with your lover. Share them with a naked, open heart and lean into the possibility of trust. This demands honesty & transparency. Without the truth your partner can never know where you, or they stand. And no collaboration can ever occur. 
In romance, if both parties value connection more than getting their own way using threats (covert or overt), then honesty will be the only container in which true partnership can evolve. This is why I think lies are so dangerous, they erode the fabric of True Love.  Every white lie is a paper-cut across the relationship’s heart.  Even if one partner never finds out…the liar will know, and their esteem will silently suffer & shrink.
Lies erode intimacy and undermine freedom. They saddle us with the constraints of false information and propagate fear instead of love. To lie is to die…to yourself and to your lover, over and over again.

“Lying is, almost by definition, a refusal to cooperate with others. It condenses a lack of trust and trustworthiness into a single act. It is both a failure of understanding and an unwillingness to be understood. To lie is to recoil from relationship.

How would your relationships change if you resolved never to lie again? 

What truths might suddenly come into view in your life? 

What kind of person would you become? 

And how might you change the people around you?

…It is worth finding out. “


The last 2 paragraphs are from Sam Harris’ writing on “Lying”…It’s SO worth reading. Your relationship will benefit right away. It changed how I relate to truth.

See free essay here: 

Sam Harris Essay on Lying

Don’t Think You’re Happy

If You Think You’re Happy, You’re Not!

Thinking you’re happy doesn’t get you there.

Happiness is a feeling in your body, it’s a matrix of 
sensations that arise in your physiology, not in your 

In fact, you cannot be happy in your mind. Our head 
is where we go to avoid intense feelings – happy or

Did you know that the body doesn’t really differentiate between pain and pleasure, all it knows is SENSATIONS?

And most bodies have a limit to the level of sensation they can ‘tolerate’.  That means we each have a unique threshold on both pain and pleasure. We all have an upper limit unique to us.

Yes, that’s right, for each of us, there’s only so much pleasure we can handle before our mind starts taking consciousness away from our body (too much sensation) and creating narratives in our mind that occur as: fantasies, anxieties, worries, reasons and excuses or complaints.

Why does this happen?

As young children, when emotions (sensations) got too intense and overwhelming our little nervous systems got scared and coded the sensory-overload as “near death.” As a protective mechanism, your wise system took awareness out of your body and retreated into the mind; this is called ‘disassociation’.

Children often go into fantasy, make-believe, song, or some sort of mental distraction to keep them safe from intense sensations, especially fear. This disassociation strategy works so well for us in stress, it gets habituated and we keep it going into adulthood. And so we continue to leave our bodies and go into our heads (narratives), whenever we’re at our edge, despite knowing that feeling our feelings cannot kill us.

It now happens unconsciously whenever we get scared or hit our pleasure threshold. You see pleasure can feel scary to a child too. It’s the intensity of sensation that has the threshold.

Depending on our early environment, we pick up from our family system what level of pleasure is ‘safe’ and what isn’t.  Often, we get coded with these upper limits (of pain and pleasure) from watching when and where our parents hit theirs.

Ever notice how you’ll be sitting somewhere peaceful, relaxing into the moment, breathing in your surroundings, when all of a sudden, unbidden, an anxiety pops up from nowhere and usurps your attention. “I wonder if I paid the phone bill?”, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow”, “I wonder why X never emailed me back.”

This common phenomenon is organic and hard to spot, but often it occurs as something haunting you from the past or worrying you about the future.

However, this is a subtle indication that your ‘pleasure’ or ‘relaxation’ limit has been reached.  So off you go…on your mentally created unconscious ‘movie’ of what went wrong in the past or what could go wrong in the future. Stress can actually get manufactured by your thoughts to counter-balance the intolerable state of ‘too much delight’.

If you want to raise your pleasure limit and stretch your ability to relax into the softness of the moment, you must learn how to generate the inner game of ‘happiness’ and make it a regular practice. This is not an insight driven shift, it takes repeated attention and practice.

Step One

The first thing to do is to start noticing the tiny little anxieties and worries that pop up out of nowhere. Pay close attention to them as they arise and the immediate circumstances (internal and external). How were you feeling? What were you doing? Where were you going?

No need to change or stop these anxieties, or even do anything different. Simply notice how and when they surface. Observe yourself with objective journalistic precision.

Become an anthropologist investigating your self–curious and explorative. Study your own behavior the way Jane Goodall might have studied her chimps, with avid fascination and no judgment. Your job is just to notice, not to change anything about the process. Only observe.

There is a word for the thought that comes before the one you’re currently having, it’s called the “nen”.  The nen is a bread crumb leading you back to the state of being just before the worry or complaint arose. Often they show fearful associations, subtle insecurities or unease. Learning to spot and track the nen helps you understand how one thought leads to another in your mind. It also reveals how you might go from standing happily at the window — calmly gazing at the wide sky — to waltzing over to the fridge for a third serving of ice-cream.

Your silent, mostly unconscious internal narrative holds the key to understanding how and why you do the things you do. Become a detective, searching for clues that make connections between your thoughts, feelings and actions.

Step Two

The second step to increasing your pleasure threshold is to start tuning into your body (intentionally) whenever you notice your feelings, ie: nervous, afraid, sad, excited, joyful or angry.

Your body is the home of sensations (through your five senses), and the place where all emotions happen. When you’re having a feeling, no matter how small or big, try taking your consciousness and liquefying it, so it can flow down your body and scope out the terrain.

Let your awareness move through your nervous system like an intelligent liquid, scanning for somatic indicators like tightness in the chest, stomach tension, nausea, tingles in the arms, pains across the shoulders, strain across the back, pressure around the neck.

These are the actual characteristics of your feelings–physical sensations not reasons or stories or explanations. Feelings are older than words, we had them as babies, long before we could talk. They are pre-cognitive and pre-lingual which is why they can be difficult to identify and articulate. This takes practice.

Feelings vs. Thought About Feelings

It’s important to differentiate 2 distinct layers here. First there is the feeling -which are physical sensations in the body and then there is the story-about-the-feeling -which is a collection of assumptions, reasons, explanations, meanings and justifications. Many of us conflate these 2 separate things.

Answer 1:  When asked: “How do you feel?” We might say…”Well I’m upset because X didn’t pick-up the dry cleaning even though I phoned and texted him twice! He always does this and I’m sick and tired of being unimportant to him.”  

We don’t go into our body, interview it for sensations and report back on the physical indicators of the emotions.

Answer 2:  When asked: “How do you feel?” …We could say…“Well, I’m very upset, I have a tightness across my back and black ball of tension in my stomach and my neck is tingly with electric pulses; I’m feeling a 5/10 anger, 4/10 frustration, and 3/10 of sadness disappointment.

Notice the difference between the 2 answers above, the first one has no reference to the body, is unspecific in naming the emotion, goes into reason, blame and smuggles in an interpreted story about not being important enough.

The second answer is very specific about the sensations experienced, it details discernible somatic markers, it reports without blame, shame or judgment (of self or other) and it specifies the names of the emotions and the intensity (x/10).

The first answer is the story-about-feeling, the second is a clean, honest journalistic report about the actual feelings themselves. Only the second one is useful in this game of stretching your facility to feel more authentically.

You see learning to feel more pleasure means learning to feel more sensations and developing the capacity to hold more and more energy in your body without leaving it and going into mental story, narrative, interpretations and meaning. It requires a commitment to standing ‘in the heat’ and holding space for the intensity, a little longer each time.

Like the burn of those last reps while lifting weights at the gym, each time you stretch yourself to hold more sensation or ‘pain’, you’re creating room in your body to tolerate more ‘pleasure’.

Remember it’s the tearing of the fibers that actually build muscle. Every upset, frustration, heartbreak, breakdown is a tear in your emotional muscle, but it also makes you and your heart stronger a result. You see when feelings are fully felt (in the body and not the mind,) your ability to experience more sensation and therefore more aliveness continually increases.

Optimize Not for Happiness but for Aliveness

When it comes to feelings, all are useful, all are sacred messengers from the unconscious sent to guide us, so try listening to what they have to say. Don’t fall into the trap of making some feelings better than others.  Welcome each one as a teacher and see what you can learn from them while staying in your body.

Sadness and anger are no worse than happiness and joy.  You may prefer some emotions to others, but don’t try to get rid of any of them.  Avoid getting caught up in striving for happiness and dodging sadness, instead optimize for aliveness. Aliveness is the measure of your access to reality and all your desires.

So keep up the practice of tracking how and when your worries and anxieties arise out of nowhere. And begin tuning into your physical body whenever you have feelings you want to process. And don’t confuse the actual feeling (in your body) with your story-about-your feeling (in your head).  Continue to stretch your capacity to hold more and more sensations by staying with them and optimize not for happiness but aliveness itself.

By Annie Lalla

Annie Lalla has spent her life studying the labyrinthine world of emotions — mapping the subtleties of relationships and the complexities of communication. A thinker, speaker and a thought leader, Annie is known as the “Cartographer of Love”. Annie has created a suite of practical tools that help women and men resolve toxic patterns, develop romantic esteem, diffuse conflict, assuage shame/blame and cultivate deep, resilient relationships that last a lifetime.



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How To Marry the Man of Your Dreams?

…Become the Woman of His

If you want to find the most amazing man to be your mate, you’ve got to become the most amazing woman he’s ever met.

He’ll want to know his woman has a great life and an open heart that funds her vision and power.  More than anything, a man needs a woman who knows how to love—and the first test is, does she love herself?

That’s why the single most important key to unlocking true and lasting love is self-esteem. It’s the one thing that will make everything else work and without which, nothing works.  But how do you work on self-esteem?  And what is self-esteem anyway?  Simply put, it’s your ability to feel confident about your future successes.  It’s also a deep, abiding feeling that you deserve happiness. It’s the most important thing you’ve got.  Self esteem is your unconscious romantic commercial.  Underneath all intentions, words and behaviors, it silently sends out a message saying “I’m SO the One” or not…

In this post, you’ll learn how to raise your self-esteem and your inner value in three easy steps.  I am going to show you how to become the kind of woman that the man you want to marry finds irresistible.

Step one: Appreciating You

The first technique I’d like you to explore is to cultivate your already existing self-esteem— start making it bigger and stronger.  Take a moment to think about your life and the way you interact with people… notice where you already are someone who’s caring, sensitive or beautiful in the world.  Where do you automatically act in ways that you’re actually quite proud of?  Do you go out of your way to include others in a conversation or hold the door open for someone at the grocery store?  Do you randomly smile at strangers or help lost tourists? What are the ways that you show respect for other peoples’ points of view?  Start to become conscious of those moments where you already are the kind of person you admire—celebrate those moments, no matter how small.  Commit to loving and appreciating yourself right now, right where you are…

Step Two: Delight in Life’s Little Pleasures

Another way to build self-esteem is to amplify the pleasurable sensations that arise throughout your day, even in seemingly mundane experiences: Practice paying attention to subtle, everyday delights.  It’s as simple as stepping onto the mat in your bathroom and feeling the softness under your feet…Or at night, in bed as you turn the pillow over to feel the soft, cool cotton on your face.  Maybe you like the breeze on your neck, notice it. Sometimes, just washing my hair, the scent of the shampoo delights me.  Excavate the taken-for-granted microscopic pleasures that lurk dormant throughout your day and bring them to life by acknowledging them and observing your pleasure.  I call this “delighting in your delight”.  It’s a powerful esteem-building tool (the best one I know). But it requires practice.

Life provides a banquet of small, pleasurable events that we rarely notice.  And while it may not seem like this kind of awareness is related to self-esteem, in my experience, it is crucial to developing your sense of confidence and your sense of self.  If you’re not aware of the moments in your day where you’re delighted and feeling connected to your surroundings, you’re not consciously contributing to your sense of aliveness—which is what fundamentally funds your happiness & confidence.

Self-esteem is built through hundreds of these tiny, incremental shifts in attention and appreciation. So start noticing what you already do in your day that makes you proud and gives you (or others) delight.  This confers ‘props’ to your unconscious self, where self-esteem is manufactured.  There’s nothing new you have to learn— just notice where you are already acting like the kind of woman you admire and deepen your enjoyment of everyday pleasures.  You’ll be surprised how much these two simple steps make you a magnet for the man of your dreams.

Step 3: See Yourself on The Big {Mind} Screen

Now I want to share with you a very powerful technique and one of my favorite tools for building self-esteem. It’s something I teach all my clients and I’ve practiced it for most of my life: I imagine a camera filming every single subtle thing I do, even when I am alone.  I’m the star of a movie that’s playing 24/7.  Everything I do in a day is projected on a big movie screen in my mind… Now I’m sitting in the audience, front row,  and beside me are all the people I love and admire. So at any moment in time, I ask myself:  is the woman on the movie screen someone everyone in the audience would be clapping for?  This question helps me figure out what to say, how to act and what to do in variety of situations. I try to only do those things that would have the entire audience clapping for me on screen.

Perhaps you stop to pay attention to a beautiful shadow on the sidewalk one evening, or maybe you look up at the sky and notice the radiance of the moon.  Nobody sees you do this, but that internal camera is always following you around—the camera of your own consciousness. Watching you all the time.  And remember you’re in that audience with all your mentors, deciding whether that behavior, gesture, statement, tone of voice is beautiful and clap-worthy or not.  It’s that internal clap or shame response that actually builds your self-esteem or eats away at it. The movie screen is a great technique for encouraging yourself to always act in such a way that the woman inside you —the part observing your own behavior— is falling in love with the woman on the screen.  Remember, someday your soul mate might be sitting in the audience, and you want to make sure he’s clapping for you.

Take a moment to think about how you react to someone’s anger, someone you love or someone at work.  Are you open? Are you inquisitive or are you defensive and counter attacking?  Imagine yourself on that movie screen— how would the people in the audience be reacting? Would they be clapping?  Imagine yourself in an awkward situation at work, at home, with friends, how do you handle yourself? What kind of behavior would you be clapping for?  If the audience wouldn’t be clapping, don’t do it. It costs you big every time you betray your own inner conscience about what behaviors are beautiful or not. It costs you your radiance, your attractiveness and your core self-esteem.

What are five things you’ve done in the last few days that you’d be clapping  for on that movie screen?  It could be something you did alone or around other people— just take two minutes right now and write down five things you would be clapping for. Great.  Notice how it feels in your body to remember these moments, notice how it affects your sense of self, your sense of beauty and aliveness.

Now, look over your list and recognize that the more you engage in this kind of behavior, the more your self-esteem will increase.  Your self-esteem is dependent on what you think you’re capable of, how beautiful you think you are, how worthy of happiness and love you feel. So as long as you keep building your own personal belief in your magnificence, you’re on the path to finding a magnificent man. Creating yourself as someone you deeply admire is the key to finding love that lasts.

Woman: The Creatrix
As women, we are creative by nature.  We make the most amazing art form known to man—LIFE itself.  In my opinion, it’s the best magic trick in the universe. Think about all of the things we have accomplished with science and technology, all of the great works of art & science…is there anything quite as magnificent as the creation of a human being? And we, as women can do that in our bodies. So whether you choose to have a child or not, recognize that you have the equipment to create life which is an incredible source of power.  If you can create life, then you can create anything.

Most women also have a very strong aesthetic sense. We tend to decorate spaces.  We entertain and delight others with our clothes, our jewelry and our emotional poetry. We create safe, nurturing places where other people feel relaxed and happy. We make delicious meals, we create social environments, we create parties.  I believe that every woman at heart is an artist. Whatever we do, we do it with a sense of balance, beauty and imagination. Every surface in your living room was created with some style.

As women, we dream about many things.  In particular, we dream about relationships. We dream about love. We dream about what it could be like to be in a spectacular relationship. I want you to start becoming more conscious of your dreams and fantasies—notice the artistry involved.  Notice the way you use your intelligence, your imagination and your sense of beauty and possibility. Whether you’re dreaming about a future partner, a new apartment or how you’re going to craft a particular email, this is you enlisting your native artistry.  You are a Creatrix and the more you’re aware of your own creative power, the more your self-esteem increases.

Since women are natural creators, even our conversations are actually a form of art.  Many of the sentences we say in a given day may never have been said before.  So think of yourself as original, creative, a problem solver, a visionary—because the more you identify as a woman with these roles, the more you can take any circumstance and turn it into what you desire.  Throughout history, women have been called sorceresses or witches and I like those terms because there’s something uncanny and bold about a woman and her wants.  When she puts her energy into a desire, she literally can conjure life itself into existence.

You’re Already Doing It
So I am encouraging you to tune into where you are already creative in your life: whether it’s how you put together an outfit, how you prepare food, how you decorate your apartment or how you hold a conversation. Notice yourself bringing creativity and imagination to these everyday, casual moments in your life.  Notice how you’re already becoming the woman of your dreams.  Let life delight you. And make sure you’re clapping for that woman on the big mind screen.

By virtue of your femininity, you are a divine magician. You are also the author and producer of the movie of your life. You may not be able to script everything that happens in your world, but your power lies in how you react to those unbidden events, not the events themselves. How you respond to your reality is the most conscious, creative aspect of being a human being, that’s where ALL your power lies.  Believe in your ability to make yourself the most extraordinary woman possible so that you can meet the most extraordinary match in your man.