7 Ways Your Lack of Trust is Toxic: Why Trust is the Answer for Letting Go, Restoring Pleasure, And Playing Again

7 Ways Your Lack of Trust is Toxic: Why Trust is the Answer for Letting Go, Restoring Pleasure, And Playing Again

This week I sat with a client who finds it hard to trust at times. Can you relate? I certainly can. Occasionally in my life, I've found myself in a rut of not trusting, and generally (though not intentionally) sucking the fun out of everything because I just can't surrender control.

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How Your Addictions Keep You Emotionally Unavailable

How Your Addictions Keep You Emotionally Unavailable

Alright, let's just be honest here. Most of us (all?) have had our moments with addictions. A big claim, I know. Here's how I define addiction. An addiction is something we choose to do (usually something repetitive) instead of feeling how we feel. We go outside ourselves and reach for something when we can't tolerate or metabolize the level of emotional stress present in our bodies.

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How to Feel Like You're on Vacation

Ahhh…I just got back from vacation. Sweet, sweet vacation. And it was medicine. It was only a 4-day trip, but was exactly what I needed. Sunshine, hot springs soaking, beautiful views, great socializing, nature, excellent sleep, good books, good food, and for four days I had no idea what time it was. I went slooooowww…

I’m coming home with my heart more open, more relaxed in my body, and being able to breathe more fully. I feel happier. More empowered.

Which is exactly the recipe for how to best show up to a relationship.

hot springs
hot springs

This may sound obvious, but think about it for a moment. Many people show up to relationships with stress, pain, hurt, or wounds from their past.

If those things are front and center because they’re unconscious or recently activated, we tend to see the world through that lens and look to our partner to make it better for us (a recipe for disaster).

But it doesn't have to be that way.

These two states---the vacation bliss and the triggered wound---happen in your body.

Which means you can learn to work with them so that you have a choice.

When we’re triggered, stressed, or in pain, there’s usually a corresponding body pattern that goes along that we might not even notice from being so used to it.

It might be that you hold your breath. Or that certain muscles hold tension or are protective. Or even that you don’t feel certain parts of your body. Or maybe you’re less muscular and more sluggish. Essentially, your body experiences your version of contraction.

If you’re paying attention, you may even notice that you feel it now a little bit just from reading this!

On the other hand, when you’re really filled up from great self care like I am now, your body’s more open. More relaxed. You breathe more and there’s more aliveness and vibrance inside. Your heart is open. You’re empowered. And deeply present.

From this place, you’re more available for healthy, empowered, playful, generous relationship.

Going on vacation is a great way to care for yourself and help reset back to this alive state, but it’s not the only way.

Because these states happen in your body, you can work with your body to stay alive and potent, whether you’re triggered or not.

Here’s how:

  • Sloooooow down and get still. Take some deep, slow breaths. Really feel the air going in and out and ballooning your belly and your chest.
  • Notice any areas of holding. Are your shoulders hiked up? Your belly tight? Your jaw or eye muscles working more than they need to? Gently let them relax while you keep feeling your breath.
  • Scan your body. Can you feel your breath moving up and down your spine? Breathing up into your brain? Into your heart? Your legs and feet? Your pelvic floor? (Breath is usually the easiest way to do this, but what you’re looking for is presence. Are you present in these parts of your body?) Bring your aliveness to anywhere it isn’t.
  • Your body might want to move by shaking off, stretching, or gesturing. Let it.
  • Make whatever sounds feel good---sighs, yawns, toning, humming, etc.
  • Remember the point here is to focus on your body and really wake it up, so do whatever feels good, including exercise or any of the above things.
  • And keep paying attention to your breath.
  • If you’re triggered, in emotional pain, or feeling a holding in your muscles, first notice and acknowledge what’s happening in your body. Get really present to it. Then, you can play with the rest of these steps.
breath
breath

Try it out. It’s as nourishing as a mini vacation.

What these steps are really designed to do is to get you deeply connected with yourself, embodied, and in touch with your empowerment.

Showing up to your relationship having taken good care of yourself is deliciously healthy and necessary.

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think! Does working with your body like this make sense to you?

And finally, will you please share this on Facebook and spread the love?

Alive and vibrant,

Laura

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The Solution for the Disempowerment of Women: It Starts With You

The other night, a girlfriend of mine shared a disturbing story with me. She told me about a study where young girls had to take an academic test. In one version, they took it anonymously. In another, they had to indicate gender and say that they were female.  

On tests where the girls specified their gender, they did significantly worse!

woman symbol
woman symbol

Something about identifying as female affected them negatively and impacted their ability to show off their smarts.

This breaks my heart, not just for these young girls, but for all the ways we as adult women do the same thing. Even the most empowered of us have places in our lives where this plays out.

Maybe your boyfriend thinks you're being overly controlling about something and you eventually give it up, even though you know something's not quite right. Perhaps you don't trust a situation intuitively, but you talk yourself into it anyway.

Say your work is really important to you but your husband wants you to spend more time with him. Do you cave? And what if you give too much or say yes to things you don't want to do because if you don't, you'll feel guilty or it might cause a fight?

I guarantee you that there are places in each of us where we act less than fully empowered. Through our thoughts about ourselves to the decisions we make to the kind of partners we choose.

The best way to step more fully into your empowerment is to join or create a women's group.*

*Or a men's group

women
women

A good women's group will invite you into your very best, help empower you, provide healthy and loving connection, and help hold you accountable. On a consistent basis. It provides a safe place for you to keep returning to for support.

Here's what to look for in a group that will truly change your life and support your empowerment:

  • Skilled facilitation. Unless you're all group leaders in your own right, you want to have one person whose job it is to have their eye on everyone in the group so they can help navigate conflicts, manage time, and be sure each woman is getting value at each gathering.
  • Vulnerability. The group will go deep together, feel connected, and really touch the places in you where you most need support if every woman in the group knows how to be vulnerable, or if the facilitator knows how to invite that forth.
  • Connections + Conflict. The group can't fully "gel" together, nor can it feel safe enough to get vulnerable if the group isn't willing to explore the connections or conflicts happening between the women in the group rather than pretending they're not there. And yes, they're always a part of the mix.
  • Reflection + Impact. One of the most valuable things about a women's group is getting reflection from the other women about what you're sharing of yourself and how they feel hearing it. This is the gold of the group and often when the biggest breakthroughs happen.
  • Challenge. I've been facilitating women's groups for over 7 years now and I've seen it over and over again: We default to being polite with each other. Without a healthy and loving dose of challenge, the group will keep playing polite and won't go deep.

I challenge, invite, and encourage you to begin your search for a women's group today.

Here's where to start:

If you're in the Boulder, CO area, check out this group or contact me for other suggestions (including men's group resources).

If you're not near Boulder, google "women's groups" or "women's circle." Or, you could ask around at your local yoga studio, dance classes, meditation classes, spiritual community, or perhaps other places where women gather.

No matter where you live, if you want to strike out on your own and start a group, I'm happy to help.

If you've been in a women's group before, please leave a comment here and share how it was! Your comments help other women, so please speak up.

If this post was useful for you, please share it on Facebook!

In Sisterhood,

Laura

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Are You Listening to Your Kids? They'll Teach You How to Keep Your Marriage Together.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The key to happy, healthy, long-lasting relationships isn’t what you probably think it is. You might be guessing it’s communication skills, listening, good sex, or the ever-vague concept of compatibility. You’d have good reason to believe that because for years couples therapists have been teaching that it’s all about communication. Nope.

John Gottman, a famous psychologist, has been studying marriage and relationships for 40 years and he found that good communication isn't what determines success or failure.

Here’s the truth. The single most important skill in committed relationships is what I call The Zone of Play.

I first heard the term "Zone of Play" from my mentor, David Sawyer.

So what is it? The Zone of Play is most clearly observed by watching children play together.

Say two kids are building a fort with chairs and blankets. They’re having a good time laughing and playing and being enchanted together. They’re in the flow, agreeing that the family dog is the guard for their fort and no one else knows they’re there.

Perhaps one child wants one thing, and another wants something else. If they’re in the zone, they can often find their way through that disagreement.

The more they play well together, the more their connection grows. They get closer.

Periodically, and naturally, one of them will fall out of The Zone of Play. They’ve lost their rhythm together, perhaps because they disagree about how many doors the fort should have or who gets to use the flashlight.

Sometimes, this off-rhythm moment is just a blip and the kids find their way again. But sometimes, when they can’t regain the flow, their play ends in tears and running to mom to intervene.

The same thing happens as adults. Hopefully we don't run to mom, but we might walk away, stonewall, or otherwise sever the connection.

Successful couples know how to stay in and return to The Zone of Play.

This co-created flow state helps build trust and connection over time. Small moments of play and flow provide opportunities for profound connection. Being in the rhythm together feels good and builds trust.

xkcd.com
xkcd.com

(comic from xkcd.com)

Here's how.

So how do you support The Zone of Play? Here are some practices to help you keep your rhythm together:

 
 
  • Say “Yes.” Agree. Note that agreement and compliance are different, because agreeing doesn’t require you to give up part of yourself. Saying yes is “I’d love to do that with you!” “Sure, that sounds great.” “Yes, I like that idea.”
  • Seek repair. Be willing to reconnect after a fight when you're ready. Choose intimacy.
  • Prioritize connection by recognizing which fights need to be had and which don’t. (Hint: conflict that’s about a fundamental difference in your personalities is useful for your relationship vs a fight resulting from your bad day at work).
  • Prioritize connection by opting for affection, touch, lust, play, silliness, adventure, spontaneity, or exploration. When your partner goes there, take the invitation.
  • Be a good leader and a good follower (More on that in a future post. Don’t miss it.)
  • Don't make your partner wrong. If you notice yourself doing it, either get curious and ask a question, or practice acceptance of how they're being.
  • Lighten up and don’t take everything so seriously. Choosing play is good for you.

Try it! Which of these suggestions do you need the most practice at? Leave me a comment below and let me know. Then, start playing with it today.

And if this was useful to you, please share it on Facebook!

Here's to more Yee-haw,