Relationship Counseling Services
“The power of an open heart is that a closed heart cannot stay closed in its presence”
Your relationships are not a place where you are supposed to get everything you need or want in life. Think of your relationships as one of your life's arenas in which you get to do your own personal and spiritual work. And like a magnet, you will tend to attach yourself to the very people who will give you an opportunity to do some aspect of that work.
In my time with couples, I notice most people simply don't have the tools to have healthy, loving, supportive and respectful relationships:
Most people don't know how to listen to their partner with an open heart in such a way that the other person actually feels heard and understood.
Most people don't know how to speak from their open heart to tell their own truth (their own experience) without some intention of creating an effect in the other person. They may be trying to get them to change their mind, change their behavior, or trying to make them feel something (good, bad, guilty, ashamed, etc.).
I find that most people (especially us guys) don't really know how to be supportive to our partner in such a way that our partner actually feels supported. We think we know what it is to be supportive when we try to fix rather than just really listen with an open heart. By the way, guys do not have a monopoly on this limitation.
Most couples do not know how to have conflict be a positive, creative part of their relationship. All relationships will have conflict; that is not the problem. The problem is not having the tools and the loving intention to know how to have conflict so that both people will come out of it in a better place than they went into it. We need to be as committed to each other's happiness, safety, and well being as we are to our own. To have successful conflict, our intention has to be coming from a loving soulful place.
I provide specific tools during relationship counselling that help people recognize when they are hooked, or getting hooked, into an ego reactive place. They learn how to get back to a more soulful centered place before they make a mess they will need to clean up.
Some of the tools I provide include:
This is a way to initiate a difficult conversation. You might say: "Is this a time that you could listen to me?" It does two things:
It puts you in a calmer place so that you can say the thing that needs to be said in a softer, cleaner way that's easier to hear than if you just jump in and say something from an angry, challenging, critical or reactive place.
It gives the listener an opportunity to temporarily call "time-out" to the exchange if they know they are not in a place where they can hear or let the information in. If they feel they can listen with an open heart, it also gives them a moment they may need to open up and listen in a way that the speaker is more likely to feel heard.
This is a way to open your heart when you feel criticized or attacked. When we are criticized, our ego always feels defensive. The unique quality of our soul is that it is totally defenseless but it is infinitely safe. There is no fear in our soul and there is nothing to defend or protect. The only thing that ever needs defending or protecting is our ego. So, if attacked or criticized, practice defenselessness by looking for the kernel of truth in what the attacker said and simply acknowledge it. Ignore the parts that are untrue. It's amazing how disarming this is to the attacker and how centering it is for the listener. It is only the anticipation of practicing defenselessness that is uncomfortable to our ego. The actual doing of it, especially if practiced regularly, is very freeing. Try it and see.
Telling on Yourself
This really is an extension of practicing defenselessness: Freely offer up other examples of whatever the criticizer has pointed out and acknowledge them. Try it out and you'll see. It really is an amazing relationship practice.