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Annie, My Love Coach

Article from Elle Magazine by Julia Allison

Annie the Love Coach: Part 1

I met Annie at a conference during which I actually stood up and announced, “So … I’m  looking for a husband – if you know someone up for the job, point him my way!  Not already a husband to someone else, preferably?”  (Keep in mind this was a marketing conference, not some sort of relationship summit. No one else confused it with IRL eHarmony.)  The room erupted in laughter; my mannerisms suggested I was joking.

I wasn’t.

But as it turns out, I also wasn’t being completely truthful, either.  Not just to the conference goers, but as Annie later pointed out, to myself.

You see, Annie is a Love Coach.  Yes.  A love coach.  When I’ve described her as such to friends of mine, the response tends to run toward incredulity, as if that’s the most arcane job title they’ve heard in their (terribly worldly) existence, as if she makes poets look prosaic.  Their somewhat judgey subtext: employing a love coach seems as much of an unnecessary luxury as employing a doggy masseuse.

But we have doctors to tend to our bodies, dentists for our teeth, stylists for our hair, dermatologists for our skin, ministers for our souls … and no one nurturing, guiding, unblocking that most sacred vessel in our lives, our hearts?  What’s crazy is that everyone doesn’t have a love coach!

Annie specializes in “love, sex and conflict resolution,” the former two I don’t have nearly enough of, and the latter I have altogether too much.  She tells me that she helps her clients “resolve toxic patterns, develop romantic esteem, assuage shame/blame and cultivate deep, resilient relationships that last a lifetime.”

Basically, she laundry listed my romantic problems.  My love life: toxic. My romantic esteem: in the shitter. My dating past: riddled with shame and blame and regret.  Desperate for solutions, I’ve medicated with a particularly modern concoction of self-help books and slightly obsessive girl friend enabled over-analysis for years.  Despite all that, I can’t seem to figure out the one thing I most long to have: Lasting Love. 

I want to fold her up, put her in my suitcase and take her home with me until I work out all my shit.

But back to the conference, and Annie’s skepticism.  “Julia, if you really wanted a husband, you’d already by married.  There must be a way being single is serving you, although you may not consciously know it.  What might you have to give up, if you actually were married?  And btw, why are you telling everyone you’re looking for a husband?  Hundreds of women have husbands and are terribly unhappy. Marriage isn’t a goal, it’s a decoration. You should be looking for love, True Love. ”                                                                                                                                                                                                       

She was right.  I didn’t really want a husband … I wanted a partner, a teammate. I wanted someone to hold me at night, to hug and kiss me.  I wanted someone – besides my mother – to worry about me.  I wanted someone to wonder where I was, and if I didn’t come home, I wanted someone to notice. I wanted someone to want my love.

But after fifteen years of repeatedly falling in love, only to watch it fall apart, my heart slowly rendered numb by the scar tissue, I had become a cynic.  “Cynics…” Annie points out, when I ask if I’ll ever recover from this disease of disappointment, “are simply failed idealists.  All cynics start out as romantics, but when their dreams get dashed against the sidewalk, they give up, they say ‘fuck it, i’t’s never going to work. I’ll never find true love.’ But inside every cynic is this tiny burning ember of a romantic ideal. They’re just too terrified to reopen that dream.”

was terrified.  God, how I was terrified.  Love had become dangerous to me, full of inevitable pain. I’ve seen men I love cheat.  I’ve seen men I love leave.  I’ve seen men I love tell me I’m their everything, I’m the one, I’m all they ever wanted … and then I’ve seen those same men change their minds.  I’ve seen men who told me they wanted to marry me … marry someone else. 

My relationships – far from the sanctuary I so yearned for – were not safe.  And that belief was not only devastating – but, Annie said, it was undermining me receiving the one thing I so desperately wanted: lifelong, unconditional love.

I began my work with Annie that evening, and as the months stretched out, so did our conversations.  With a degree in human biology and philosophy, she integrates psychology, evolutionary science, neurochemistry, sexuality and social dynamics into her coaching … and I watched as she unraveled some of the knots that have been tying me up for years.

“I don’t know how this is ever going to change,” I tell her, almost in tears one evening, so frustrated was I by the state of my love life. “My heart is surrounded by armor.  I don’t want to let anyone in …”

“Julia, my priestess-of-love in the making,” she said. “That is fear. Can we invite the fear in and welcome it?  There’s a part of you that is terrified of opening your heart again, then losing it, and having to feel the pain.  There’s another part of you that’s a young, wonder-filled kid ever open to adventure.  And both of them are interested in your development.  Both parts are fighting for you to stay happy and survive – they’re not enemies.  That fear is protective, it’s trying to take care of you. The fear has a commitment to making sure you don’t have pain.  We must honor the fear.”

“You talk about your heart having scar tissue.  The heart is a muscle.  How do bodybuilders build muscle?  With each rep they make little rips, which grows the tissue back thicker, making the muscles bigger and stronger.  Whether you realize it or not, thanks to that pain, you have a profoundly enlarged heart.  A stronger heart. Think of it that way.”

And I do.  I sit with that for a minute, and take it in.  A profoundly enlarged heart.  I like that.  I breathe, and I feel my heart relax, just a little bit.  It’s the start.

Annie the Love Coach: Part 2

I’m on a first date with a fellow named William, and I don’t feel like myself.  I’m not laughing, I’m not leaning forward eagerly, I’m not lobbing question after question at him like an overzealous headhunter.  My love coach, Annie Lalla, has told me to stop with all that, already, and along with it, get rid of the deference, the modesty (both real and false), the praise, and the stock conversation topics.  Awesome. Pretty much everything I do – except drink – to make the inherently awkward inaugural date into something at least moderately comfortable. And given this is a bike date – as in, we’re riding bicycles – I’m not exactly uncorking a bottle of Merlot as we pedal.

In other words: I’ve been left alone, bereft of defenses, to marinate in the juices of my unease. But where I see coping mechanisms for staying relaxed while interacting with a new person, Annie sees a schtick that’s keeping me from being my most authentic self – and ultimately from true love.  Given that that’s why I hired her in the first place, I’m going to listen.  Or at least try.

Annie helps her clients rid themselves of “toxic patterns, develop romantic esteem, assuage shame/blame and cultivate deep, resilient relationships that last a lifetime.”  During our first session together, she calls me out for using “an impenetrable veneer of persona to manipulate the way the interaction goes” on a date so that I never find myself “cornered, vulnerable, exposed, uncomfortable, confused, looking dumb.” In other words ‘being human’.

Busted.  She’s right.  I have a dating shtick, and I’m good at it.  I laugh, I question rapid fire, like Barbara Walters caffeinated by three pumpkin spice lattes.  Then I laugh again, and I question more.  I mix that in with my standard self-deprecating stories, and if all else fails, I ask him about his ex.  Honestly, I’m terrified of conversational silences.  After all, what if it … gets awkward?

What if, indeed.

Annie encourages me to embrace that “what if,” and cautions me not to confuse my “habits and patterns” with being myself.  I’ll admit – I’ve dated so much, I often go on auto-pilot.  But at what cost?  “The cost,” says Annie, “is organic discovery, connection and intimacy.”  I can see that.  By choosing to keep things safe with my dating schtick, I’ve eliminated both ends of the spectrum of possibilities: having the date from hell, and allowing a dream date, filled with magic.

It occurs to me that I may actually be a bit of a control freak, with a fairly thick (if subconscious) facade that has served as my protection – but also stood in the way of intimacy. I don’t want to get hurt – and bad dates can hurt. “That’s okay,” Annie reassures me that I’m not the only one.  “You were just trying to protect yourself. Now instead of that, shelve your fear and allow yourself to be re-invented anew in this moment, without having to be whoever you were yesterday.” 

Annie doesn’t say this, but I get the gist: her specific instructions to me for the date with William are much like stretches for a runner.  They’re not even remotely comfortable at first, but you don’t expect them to be.  They’re just to get your body warm, to loosen you up, to get outside your comfort zone, to make you more flexible.  And even if you’re grasping your toes, hamstrings burning until tears form in your eyes, you’re glad you did them afterward.

That’s pretty much how I feel about Annie’s exercises.  They’re painful at the time. In fact, I sort of want to kill her as I’m sitting there stone-faced through yet another of William’s sardonic musings.  Laughing remember, was banned from my shtick. A few things go through my head: 1) I feel like a dick.  2) I want him to like me, and I‘m concerned that without my generous and obvious appreciation of his humor, he won’t, and 3) I’m panicking that he won’t find me intriguing without my arsenal of journalistic interrogatories.  Questions pop up throughout the afternoon: Will he think I expect to just talk about myself (as he has to be the one to query me)? Will my cool body language (“lean back, lean back” said Annie) turn him off? Will he tell all his friends I’m a selfish, dour bitch who didn’t laugh at any of his jokes?

I feel like I’m doing a cartwheel with one hand tied behind my back, and I have to concentrate harder than I have on any date in the past year.  It’s exhausting.  I would give up dating and move to an ashram if I had to do this every time.  But afterward?  Just as Annie predicted: I have a totally new perspective.  Sometimes you don’t even realize how much of a schtick you have until it’s taken away.

 More than that, I realize that my one-schtick-fits-all approach to dating isn’t the most authentic approach – nor is it the most satisfying. While I’m eager to re-integrate laughter back into my repertoire, I’m now careful not to laugh just to fill a silence, but instead to really give the guy a chance to earn that laughter.  And while I do plan to ask questions (I’m a journalist, it’s torture not to), I now see that giving the poor fellow verbal space to play offense, instead of just defensive responding, isn’t such a bad move either.  After all, a real relationship isn’t just me holding the reigns – ostensibly he’ll get a chance to direct, too, and I might as well find out early on where he’d like to go!

 As fascinating as I found the first date anti-autopilot exercise, unearthing this pattern was really valuable insomuch as it’s a symptom of a much deeper problem – perhaps the biggest obstacle between me and the relationship I seek: my deep seated insecurity that, should a man discover my flaws, he will no longer love me.  That sounds so obvious when I type it out, but trust me, it hadn’t actually occurred to me that the way this manifests is a disheartening (and by definition, impossible) quest for perfection.  My house must be perfect, my face, perfect, my body, perfect, my career, perfect, my educational history, perfect, my friendships, perfect, my emotional state, perfect, my google search, perfect.

Yeah, so how’s that working out for me?  Ummm … not that well. Nothing about me is “perfect,” I’ll just tell you right now.  Not even close.  And so I’ve been in a constant state of agitation, feeling I’m not good enough, for … well, for about twenty years.  Oops?  Annie has me mess up my perfectly made bed, re-arrange my perfectly fluffed pillows, throw my perfectly folded blanket to the floor as “homeopathic amounts of disorganization.”  I can feel my heart palpitating, the disorder is physically uncomfortable.  I feel a loss of control: THINGS AREN’T IN THEIR PERFECT PLACE!

“Perfectionism,” says Annie, “is an invisible shackle keeping you back from being free and letting others be free around you.  Imperfect is real, raw, wanton and sexy.”  And then I learn one of the most important lessons of my adult life: until I’m okay with my own imperfection – no one else can be.  

The ah-has kept coming, in waves.  There is no such thing as perfection – frankly, if we were smart, the word shouldn’t even exist.  I’d been living my life, knowing that I wasn’t perfect and ashamed of it, afraid that everyone would catch on and judge me the way I’d been judging myself.  Meanwhile, I was desperately seeking unconditional love – the kind of love that doesn’t peace out if I’m thirty minutes late, ten pounds overweight, face covered in acne, a cranky PMS terrorist or even a selfish, inconsiderate bitch.  Because I have been all those things, and worse.  I have also been all those things – and better, too.  I am just me, made up of beauty and ugliness and love and fear, all mixed together. 

Then Annie has me look in my big white floor length mirror – actually look – and see the girl inside of me, the girl I would never judge so harshly.  I began to understand what my perfectionism had done to myself – and how the very walls I had put up because I was afraid of people seeing my messiness had actually kept them away.  I was messy, deep down.  I was messy – but that mess was beautiful. It was my mess, and I was proud of it.  In that moment, I thought to myself for the first time: you know what?  I’m pretty great, just the way I am.  In that moment, I realized that one day, someone will love me unconditionally – not because I’ve finally figured out how to be perfect, but because I’ve finally showed them my mess.

And they’ll think it’s beautiful, too.

by Julia Allison

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 
head.

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

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 http://annielalla.com

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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Vanquishing Your Victim

The path to true freedom

If you brought some friends home and they watched you walk into your apartment and put your feet up on your sofa with your shoes on, they’d probably assume they could do the same, right?

Similarly, we train our friends, family and our lovers how to treat us by how we treat our selves. If you put yourself down, see yourself small, incapable, apologize for your wants and needs or self deprecate in any way— you give others permission to do the same.

When you say: “Oh I couldn’t do that, I’m not good enough, I don’t have the courage, I’m not deserving, I don’t have what it takes,” etc.,  –even if these statements are just silently in your head– others can ‘smell’ them in you.  And if you happen to say them out loud, others get entranced by your words and follow your belief into seeing you accordingly.

If you tend to put yourself last,  make your needs less important than others (even and especially out of ‘love’) then you’re teaching others to place your needs behind theirs and to see your desires as less important.

Even worse, for parents and leaders out there, you’re training your children and your admirers to imitate your behavior. As they grow and copy what they learned from you, they’ll start putting their own needs below others as they go forward in their life as well, and so the cycle of self-subordination continues.

Many women feel mistreated in their life— they feel their experience is unfair. This “hard-done-by” feeling comes from a deep-seated resentment that they aren’t getting what they want, and beneath that resentment is often the belief that the reason they don’t get what they want, is because of others.

This is a classic “victim mind-set” where you see yourself at the mercy of external circumstances, not as creatrix or cause in the matter.  The problem is, the “t’was-them-not-me” stance posits causal power outside your self. It leaves you dependent and reliant on forces beyond your control. How convenient…

Now victims, in order to fulfill their namesake, must get mistreated, abused and hurt by someone or something.  And that malevolent ‘bad’ force becomes the perpetrator – they need to have a perpetrator to keep them ‘oppressed’ to maintain their victim dance. Victims must also be incapable of saving themselves— they need to be rescued by another—again they’re dependent on forces outside themselves, alas.

Of course there are genuine victims out there –such as children who were molested or women who were raped.  But for the most part in romantic relationships, I suggest you look for where you’re operating from a victim mind-set, and who or what you’re turning into the perpetrating villain.  We are ALL operating as victims somewhere in our lives. Become a sleuth in your own life and find the secret V in you.

We also victimize ourselves unwittingly every time we tolerate behavior that makes us feel small, reduces self-esteem, diminishes our shimmer or violates our dignity. To tolerate is not a virtue, it enables a toxic pattern in both you and another.  I do not recommend tolerating anything— rather, start expressing your feelings in real time.  Every wound or wince (no matter how small) that you do not honor as real, sacred and worth noting,  is an abandonment of your truth and a betrayal of your self.  When we betray ourselves a hundred times a day (with every unexpressed need, suppressed frustration, stuffed emotion) we train others to betray both themselves  and us. Victimization only breeds more victims.

Here’s the funny thing, it doesn’t matter if you find yourself in the role of perpetrator or victim, neither one is better than the other…they both amount to the same thing: irresponsibility.  Each side is failing to see them self as causal and so they have no accountability for the results they experience. Angry attackers/ villains/ perpetrators all think they had to do or say whatever they did because of how the other acted, each one has a ‘valid story’ that explains their deed.  They feel compelled and justified to act out in the fashion they do, the same way a victim feels compelled and justified to complain, feel sorry for themselves and seek rescue.  Personally, I see a villain as just another brand of victim!  No accident they both start with “V”.  Neither position gives you any real power.

Here are some ways to check if you might be in the victim mind-set:

·       You’re complaining about something and it’s a recurrent complaint
·       You have the sense “the-world-is-against-me”
·       You often feel misunderstood and alone around others
·       You’re angry or resentful and secretly holding a grudge or plotting revenge
·       You’re feeling helpless, attacked or abused and don’t know why
·       You’re eager to tell others about how awful person X was to you
·       You only ever tell your side of the story, never the villain’s
·       You ensure all the details make you look innocent and the other look bad
·       You find yourself called to exaggerate and embellish the truth in your favor
·       You feel innocent yet need to keep proving to others that you are
·       You get high off of others being appalled and commiserating with your pain
·       You can see NO way you’re participating in or co-creating the “bad” results
·       You’re very clear you’re NOT at fault
·       You feel righteous, sorry for yourself, maybe even vindictive
·       You’re hungry for an apology from the other
·       You feel confused, frustrated, trapped, desperate or overwhelmed
·       You cannot stand people who whine and feel derision for them
·       Others tell you, you’re acting like a victim

It’s time to vanquish the victim mindset!  Scan across all areas of your life and find the places where you’re unconsciously maintaining yourself or others as a victim or a villain.  Remember, on the deepest level both amount to the same thing: not taking full responsibility for your life.  Start recognizing that YOU co-create your life.  We may not be able to control all the circumstances in our life but we can control how we respond to them.  This ultimately is the deepest power we have as individuals, so it’s important we learn to wield it with finesse.

So now for the ultimate victim cure…it’s going to surprise you.  The secret cure for victim-hood is to go into your body and heart and get present to what you deeply and authentically need to feel safe, loved, nourished, and then ask for that out loud.  It sounds simple, but it takes immense courage.  Interview your body and discover what it truly needs, listen carefully to what’s yearning to be heard, then tell your partner /friend/ family member this truth without making them wrong or blame (be sure to use “I” statements not “you” statements and don’t get stuck in the past).  For example, your body might say to you: “I need to feel taken care of & safe”, so your job is to articulate this feeling-truth to yourself and then to go create the environment where you feel safe.  Maybe go for a walk in the park and take some space away from a conflict, go get a massage, find something healthy to eat. Perhaps it leads you to make an open-hearted, undefended request from your partner: “I feel unsafe and I’d love a hug from you.”

However, when you make a request, remember that your partner is not obligated to fulfill it.  If they do, great, see it a as gift.  If they don’t, go and take care of yourself.

The cure to being a victim is to discover what you truly need and want and then to fight through all your fears and courageously share those sacred desires [let’s make this a hyperlink to a blog on sacred desires] with those you love. Its the first step towards taking true responsibility for your life, and it’s the beginning of real freedom.