Why good loving can feel the hardest to accept

Posted on Leave a comment

 

Imagine you’ve been on a long trip, strapped with packs and sacks, suitcases of all descriptions, items poking out of pockets, and wearing clothes that look a bit weathered; you’ve been wearing them day in and day out for a while now. After an uncomfortably long flight and a harrowing time collecting all your bags from the rotating luggage rack, you’re now trudging along with all your shit through the airport, onto the shuttle bus, onto the subway, onto a crowded streetcar, until you finally climb the stairs to your little room at last! Ahhhhhh! You drop your bags with a thud and climb exhausted into bed, not even bothering with the sheets or taking off your stinky worn clothes. The next day, you know you’ll have to start unpacking all your things, the least fun part of coming home, but for now, you get to rest…

 

This is what finding good love and safe space can often feel like. At first, it can feel so relieving. That internal feeling of “ahhhh at LAST!” washes over us as we sink into the soft cushy contours of being loved well or having safe space created for us to just BE.

 

But, but but…there’s this other part to the story too…the part where you have to unpack everything…

 

Because it’s often only once safe space is created that we can truly start to rest and unpack our “emotional baggage”. Some of us have been carrying around things so long we took for granted that those bags are still with us, and it can be a joyful but painful realization that we can unclench our fists around those bags now.

 

And the time where we get to rest can often reveal to us how hurt and in pain we’ve been all along, under the weight of that baggage. It can be hard to adjust to a lighter load, and to allow someone else to help carry our bags with us, or unpack them along side us…

 

Especially for those of us who have had to be in fight or flight mode in our relationships for a long time, to not have to operate in either of those spheres can feel challenging, and if we’re not willing to accept good loving, those fight or flight modalities can kick in to self-sabotage the good thing we’ve got going on. We’re often more willing to fling a (metaphorical ) bag hurling towards others or keep those bags packed and ready to go at the end of the bed at all times than we are to thoughtfully sit amongst our opened suitcases and really take a look at what’s in there, let alone let someone ELSE see what’s in them! It’s easier, and in some ways, feels more comfortable, to do what we’ve always done, what we expect we will NEED to do (aka protect ourselves from harm) than to let our guard down in the presence of someone who truly wants to just LOVE us.

External good loving coming our way also makes us have to bring our own INTERNAL self love up to par with that external love, which can be hella tough. If someone is trying to give us all this love that we are totally worthy of, but we ourselves don’t feel worthy of love inside, then we’re very likely to run from that love, or shy away from it, or be suspicious of it.

 

Worst of all, it can suck to do the work you thought you had already done all over again, and in front of someone you truly love and who loves you and who isn’t responsible for your wounds but now has to be there to help heal them with you. Your past relationships might have made you feel that there’s no way someone would stick around to help unpack these heavy loads with you, and being vulnerable enough to prove that fearful voice inside your head wrong takes strength and bravery and a lot of self love that is often hard to muster.

When it comes to this  kind of work we must do for love (there’s no way to NOT do this work buds, trust me), Anne Michaels, my fave author, has a great quote:

“In all the epics, in all the stories that have lasted through many lifetimes, it is always the same truth: love must wait for wounds to heal. It is this waiting we much do for each other, not with a sense of mercy,  or in judgment, but as if forgiveness were a rendezvous. How many are willing to wait for another in this way? Very few.”

As much strength as it took to hold all that baggage for so long, dear traveller, I hope when the time and space comes for you to lay down your bags, you’ll find the added strength and courage to drop them and let love help you rifle through their contents slowly, and with gentleness. And remember, when you create loving safe space for someone else, they’re also learning how to drop their bags at your feet too…

 

How to Feel Good

Posted on Leave a comment

When it comes to pulling ourselves out of a funk, there are two primary camps. The inside out and the outside in.

The outside in say:

Fake it to you make it! Change your actions or appearance, and soon enough your feelings will shift.

The inside out say:

Work with your thought patterns. This will change how you act, and in the long run, how you feel.

Personally, I’m not one for polarities. Or as Tanya Evanson coined it – I’m a bothist. 

It’s like my commitment to eating paleo & and my undying loyalty to croissants. The two go together naturally.

Morning

I’m a bothist when it comes to emotional wellness as well.

I think feeling good happens inside out outside in. I call it my feel good feedback loop.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 4.03.42 PMIt’s important to clean up our insides. To get quiet and get in there – meditate, journal, get therapy, check in with our intuition and explore the ins and outs of who we actually are, what we value and how we operate.  When we gain awareness of what we are thinking, we have the power to shift our thoughts and fuel feelings that may be more productive and produce better results for us.

However, sometimes shifting a thinking pattern can feel unnervingly similar to attempting to move a mountain. Our habits of thought are developed over years and the neurological pathways that they run on are literally ingrained into our brains. Thankfully, our brain’s neuroplasticity means the construction of new healthier pathways is possible, though effortful and time consuming.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 1.06.47 PM

When self-defeating thoughts come up fast and furious, with shame close behind, I invite you to remember the feel good feedback loop.

When I am caught in a moment of intensity, I take stock of my internal process, offer myself a compassionate reminder that I came by it honestly and then redirect my energy. Rather than placing all of my effort into repressing or drastically changing my thinking pattern, I choose to live gently into a different external reality – one that will offer counter evidence to the self defeating thoughts I’m spinning internally.

Sometimes this looks like putting on a nice outfit and taking myself out for a coffee and a croissant, and other days it means committing to an intimidating professional project moment by moment.

Either way, I give myself the opportunity to prove those well rehearsed unkind thoughts wrong.  I give myself the opportunity to feel good.

xo,

Barbara

Why we’d sooner go to the doctor or the dentist before we’d go to an emotional communication workshop

Posted on Leave a comment

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like going to the dentist as much as the next person…wait, what? I hate the dentist! Do you like going to the dentist? Enjoy a little bleeding gums in the middle of the day while you watch CP24 on the overhead screen above you and pretend like there’s not a stranger poking at you with metal rods for a half hour while you try not to choke on your own spit?

Screen shot 2015-11-23 at 9.29.18 PM

Or how bout going to the doctors? Do you enjoy sitting in a cold room with a paper dress on and talking about how your vagina smells like brown sugar and you don’t know why?

No one really likes doing these things, but we all do them from time to time because we know they’re IMPORTANT, right? We’ve been told and taught from a very young age that we’ve got to take care of our teeth, take care of our bodies, get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat our vegetables, etc.

Much of what we were taught about how to take care of ourselves was about our PHYSICAL health, right? But what about our MENTAL/EMOTIONAL health? What nuggets of wisdom, what daily routines were passed down to us to help us make sure our minds and our hearts were being taken care of? Most of us can honestly say “not many”.

Phychologist Guy Winch noticed this trend, and has posited that what we need more of is “emotional hygiene”.  See his talk about this topic Here:

Image result for Guy Winch

Yet, believe me I know, it’s so hard to make commitments to get BETTER at talking about our FEELINGS. It can be as painful as, say, pulling teeth to admit that we don’t always know what we’re doing when it comes to relationships, or that what we’ve been doing for so long isn’t and maybe has never worked. But, when you think about it, admitting we don’t know much about how to navigate relationships and our feelings should be the most obvious thing in the world, considering none of us were every formally taught how to “do relationships” . It’s kind of a given that maybe a lot of us are going to be not so great at it (some of us are just downright totally shitty at it!)

Just like we maybe need a little help from a professional when our vagina smells like brown sugar (is it just me?) , we DEFINITELY could use some expert advice when it comes to navigating our emotional landscape.

Screen shot 2015-11-23 at 9.21.44 PM

One of the reasons we created these workshops in the first place was because we felt it was RIDICULOUS that women didn’t have more formalized places to share and discuss how to better engage with their feelings, needs and boundaries. If you feel the same, and are tired of shying away from truly being intimate with your own wants, needs, desires and boundaries, we hope you’ll consider joining us for one or all of the workshops that feel right for you. Let’s honour that our FEELINGS are just as important as our TEETH! OR SOMETHING TO THAT EFFECT!

We promise we won’t make you wear a paper dress (unless you show up in one, in which case, party on sister like it’s 1969!)
Image result for paper dresses 1960s

Being Productive doesn’t have to mean being stressed

Posted on Leave a comment

We live in a culture obsessed with being “productive”;
“Productive” being an illusive term that you can’t quite put your finger on, and sometimes it’s hard to know whether your doing it right or not.

Our drive to be “productive” here in the west is rooted in the Industrial Revolution and Capitalism, both of which mandated that if you aren’t adding to GDP, ie. you aren’t doing something that either makes money or creates a good or service to be consumed by others, you haven’t specialized in one field, you are a leech on ‘the system’, you have no real value, you are undesireable.

Although we don’t all (visibly) work on a factory assembly line anymore, our work habits and relationship to “production” were formed in the school system (unless you were one of those lucky home schooled kids, who, in my mind, got to sit around eating carrot sticks and contemplate the meaning of life while learning how to talk to dolphins telepathically on the weekends) which was modelled on assembly line input-and-output ideology. WE were the goods and services being “produced” on the assembly line of school, all of us supposedly needing to produce the same things at the same pace, regardless of our own individual needs, goals, backgrounds and abilities. For a fuller picture of how the school system is modelled on factory-lines, check out this talk by Sir Ken Robinson .

Image result for factory model of school

Many of us after school will end up working for a company that also models itself on industrial ideology and expectation. And although we are starting to shake things up in terms of what work looks like (just check out this or this article), proving our worth through how “productive” we are permeates many of the things we do and the way we spend time each day.

And because only we know how we spend our time all day every day, one of the ways that we can showcase to the rest of the world how very “productive” and therefore worthwhile we are is to appear BUSY and STRESSED! We have made intrinsic links between our stress levels and how productive we are being, partly in order to showcase the “symptoms of productivity” to others, and partly to prove to ourselves that what we are doing is obviously very very important and therefore we must suffer in order to achieve, in order to PRODUCE!

Screen shot 2015-11-18 at 9.49.35 AM

 

But could productivity look different? Could being productive also go hand in hand with being stress free? Could we possibly conceive of activities like taking care of our bodies and our mental health as also being “productive” ie. “worthwhile” activities?

Just yesterday, I was literally feeling stressed about NOT being stressed, so sure was I that even though I had completed all my tasks for the day that I must be missing something. I felt guilty about the free time that I had to do other things that I enjoy, things that are not typically considered “productive”, but nonetheless add fullness and richness to my life and make me a happier, more balanced person (full disclosure, I made cookies and worked on a playlist for a dance party I’m hosting with my partner soon. RICHNESS!).

I had to fight the urge to try and go over the other work I had completed, the work that the world would consider “productive”. I allowed myself to disassociate my desire to feel stressed from the reality that I accomplished all my “productive tasks” for that day and now could focus on other things, and that those things mattered just as much to my wellbeing and sense of self in the world as any of those other tasks.

My challenge to you dear reader is to pull yourself away from the need to be stressed to prove yourself, either to yourself or to anyone else. There are many things we do each day that we do in flurries of stress that could be done with mindfulness and maybe, just maybe, even could be pleasureable?

There is DEFINITELY  a time and a purpose to being stressed, (mainly if you are being chased by a leopard or encounter a snake in a tree- the original reasons our stress hormones exist, to help our feeble little human legs and bodies get the fuck outta there!) But maybe think about adding a little hedonism back into your life and stop relying on feeling stressed to know that you are a worthy human being in this strange world of ours.

Remember: BUSY & STRESSED does not equal PRODUCTIVE. In fact, it could even be the opposite! Could you conceive of feeling productive without stress? Try it this week and see how it might feel. I dare you!

Image result for be productive
Can these two things be mutually exclusive? I say yes!

And if you’re finding this task impossible or totally daunting, here’s a cheesy tip: smile more. Yep, I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but smiling LITERALLY releases dopamine into your system and can battle those stressy hormones your coddling way down deep. MAGIC!

Finally, here’s something else to keep in mind: Image result for feeling stressed

 

 

I WANT to want! How to engage with your wants without psychoanalyzing yourself to death

Posted on Leave a comment

One of the most interesting things about humans, I think, is our ability to “want” things. Not things we NEED, like food, shelter, clothing, sense of purpose and the occasional romp in the hay, no no. On top of all that, we each have very different but specific types of WANTS. I think of WANTS as like the icing on your cupcake. You don’t NEED icing really to make a cup cake a cup cake (cup cakes enthusiasts everywhere are crying BLASPHEMY!) , but that icing adds just that little bit of extra, it sweetens the deal, n’est pas?

Screen shot 2015-11-12 at 2.17.19 PM

Many times, a lot of us have a hard time distinguishing between our wants vs needs, as sometimes our wants feel overwhelmingly valuable and, well, necessary, somehow.

There are a lot of great articles that outline how to tell the difference between a want vs a need, so I won’t spend much time on that here.

 

What I AM interested in is how we do or do not allow ourselves to have wants. When I think about the wants that I have, or even admitting that there are certain things I do with my time and money that are explicitly want based, I feel guilty. I feel childish, as if to be an adult means that you shrug off any wants that you have and only do practical and needs-based shit with your  time and money, all the time always. Otherwise, you’re a screaming baby with no self control crying for a popsicle even though you already have an ice cream in your hand or something.

I realized that along the way of self discovery, I began to believe that knowing and acting on my wants=bad/selfish/immature and knowing and acting on my needs=good/responsible/thoughtful

But is giving into our wants such a bad thing all the time?

It certainly can be, especially if what we want are totally unreasonable requests from others or from the world at large, or if what we want  is to harm ourselves through addiction or other means of self sabbotage, or if what we want  is for Stephen Harper to remain in office….All these kinds of wants can have negative impacts to our lives, and are wants that require some thought and some check in around the core thought or idea that they
are stemming from. Because our wants are often tied to a root need, if we find ourselves with negative want patterns, we may need to do a little psychological sleuthing to get to the bottom of why those wants exist and what needs are not being met that are causing those wants to manifest. Doing some deep self examining can be a real pain in the patoot, and can take a long time, but it’s worth it. Screen shot 2015-11-12 at 1.54.46 PM

 

However!

Sometimes our wants are exactly what make us special little sparkles in the universe! And allowing room for some of our wants to be expressed can be very healing and helps us carve out a sense of our unique self.Image result for special unicorn

For me, perhaps because of my Taurean heart, having a beautiful and functional home space is a BIG want for me. Recently, when I moved into my new home here in Guelph, my partner had to be patient with me as I acted out sometime perceivably “unreasonable” wants, such as going out and buying new plants and planters that all matched for every room in the house because a house doesn’t feel like a home to me until there are plants in it. When he suggested maybe we just wait to accumulate things like planters over time from thrift stores or on the side of the road, I paused and felt a moment of guilt.

Normally, I would totally agree with him, and yet, in this instance, I felt GOOD about my WANT to have plants. I WANTED to WANT! I had to assert that this want was very important to me, even though it was not a need, and that for me it was worth paying money for and spending time in strip mall hell in order to have a house that felt home-y as quickly as humanly possible. Screen shot 2015-11-12 at 2.02.49 PM

Afterwards, as people started to come over to our place only 2 weeks or so after moving in, they’d say that it felt like we’d always lived there, and that it truly felt “like a home”. Those comments were so intensely satisfying to me, and I feel 100% ok with having a need like “making a nice home” define some part of my character and behaviour.

I believe that, especially for women who have been socialized to be caregivers and to meet the needs of others before meeting our own needs, let alone meet our WANTS, god forbid, the act of allowing yourself to say YES to your wants can be very empowering. To shrug off the feeling of guilt and say “fuck it I’m getting that hot fudge brownie” can be as liberating as a bra burning ceremony, depending on how much time you’ve spent pushing your wants down in lieu of meeting other people’s needs all the time.

HAVING WANTS DOESN’T MAKE YOU A BAD PERSON/SELFISH BABY! THEY MAKE YOU A HUMAN BEING!
Screen shot 2015-11-12 at 2.07.31 PM

While I’ll still caution the reader to take “everything in moderation”, I also challenge you to think about a want that you have tucked away somewhere that maybe you could dip your toe into every once in a while. This blog post acts as your permission slip to indulge in exactly what makes you YOU. WANT AWAY YOU SPECIAL SPARKLE!

Screen shot 2015-11-08 at 1.50.30 PM

You’re not infinitely interesting, but you ARE infinitely loveable; An ode to being boring

Posted on Leave a comment

Last fall, my partner and I and another couple travelled to Vermont to visit my partner’s brother and girlfriend, who were attending comic book school together (yes this is a thing) in a small town called White River Junction.

Road trips for me, in the past, had only been undertaken with my close girlfriends. I had never been on a long road trip with a partner and another couple before. So, in my mind, road trips were a chance to have deep, intense discussions about love, life, periods, politics, environmental doomsday predictions, basically a non-stop chat fest interrupted by “ooo look at that house!” or “ooo look at THAT house!” or  “pass the pretzels” or “I have to pee AGAIN” (do your friends have the bladders of 75 year olds like mine do? )

Screen shot 2015-11-08 at 1.19.11 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, it was to my surprise, and deep anxiety-provocation when this car ride with my partner was mostly spent in silence, observing the landscape, napping, and sometimes breifly making observations about architecture or types of trees, while listening to a well curated music selection.

Screen shot 2015-11-08 at 1.21.45 PM

And while everyone else seemed to be having a nice, relaxing time, with each mile that passed in relative silence my anxiety levels ramped up to high volume. “OMG YOU’RE SO BORING!” My mind screamed! “Can’t you think of ANYTHING TO SAY?! You’re not connecting with your partner! You aren’t meant to be! These people don’t like you! This is the trip where you and your partner break up because you find out you have nothing in common! THIS IS IT!”

 

By the time we reached his brother’s house, I felt so boring and uninteresting and disconnected that I could barely stand being around anyone, even though I loved his brother and his partner and had been excited to hear about their lives and explore their town.

After spending what could have been a delightful dinner and after-dinner hang feeling awkward and teenager-like, I had to have some real-talk with my boyfriend that night about my deep and long-standing anxiety about being boring, not being funny or interesting and therefore not loveable, and how that anxiety was being hella-triggered because of the quiet car ride.

He had no idea that I was feeling that way, and said that for him (being a geographer), long car rides were a great, meditative time to really observe and enjoy the changing landscape, to free your mind of thought or worries or concerns and just be present to the act of moving though shifting landscapes of human design and natural beauty. This was a very different approach and perspective than what I had expected and experienced car rides to be. But it made sense to me, and hearing his perspective made me feel better.

Also, he gave me some great advice that I needed to hear. He said “Natalie, if we’re going to be together for a long time, we’re not always going to have deep and interesting things to say to each other, and that’s ok. You’re going to have to get used to silence sometimes, because if I feel pressure to always be “interesting” for you, it’s going to be a pretty stressful thing. I don’t expect you to entertain me or to always be interesting, and you shouldn’t expect it from yourself either. Sometimes you’re boring, sometimes I’m boring, sometimes life is boring!  IT’S OK TO BE BORING!” and also “if you want to be with me, you’re going to have to get used to silence sometimes. Silence doesn’t always mean something is wrong”.

Maybe Uma Thurman said it best:

Screen shot 2015-11-08 at 1.26.32 PM

Phewph! Did I ever need to hear those words! Maybe it was because I never found myself “pretty enough” (does anyone?) and relied on my “sparkling personality” to be what drew people to me, or maybe it was losing my father to cancer at a young age and wanting to make “every moment count”; however this seed of anxiety around being “boring” was planted, I was giving it wayyyyy to much power to blossom into some monsterous flower that was taking away my ability to just “chill”, to “be boring”. My concepts of “being boring” in fact were really just “being human”, allowing conversation to flow or not flow, enjoying silence when silence was there to be enjoyed, and not having to “prove” I was loveable by being the life of the party (or the car ride) at all times.

Now, sometimes this  anxiety seed of “being boring” is being planted and watered from within, like mine is/was, and sometimes it is being watered from somewhere/someone else. We may find ourselves with a partner or a friendship group or a family that doesn’t always make us feel interesting or worth listening to. We may not have others around us that ask us questions about ourselves, our days, our passions or our feelings, and if we experience this external lack of interest long enough, we truly start to believe we have nothing to say or add, that our interests are stupid, that our jokes aren’t funny, and that our feelings don’t matter. If this sounds like you, I highly recommend mixing up your social habits, whether in person or online, to find folks who share or can engage in your passions, your jokes, your fashion-sense, your what-have-yous, to remind yourself that you are not the only weirdo out there, and that YOU, YES YOU! ARE INTERESTING! (sometimes!)

Screen shot 2015-11-08 at 1.35.44 PM

On the flip side of that, I highly recommend getting comfortable with being boring, sometimes. This doesn’t mean resorting to apathy and binge watch Netflix all day every day and disengaging from the world entirely (though maybe sometimes that is your form of self care, in which case, Netflix away!). What it DOES mean is allowing yourself to forgive yourself if you don’t always have something interesting to say or to add, you don’t always have the perfect joke on hand, the perfect words of advice to give that are going to solve everyone’s problems in an instant, or you don’t have the most interesting story from your week to share (didn’t solve climate change or shake hands with Lena Dunham  or run a 25k marathon this week? BOR-RING!)

There is also a way to REVEL in boring shit. Sometimes I LOVE doing boring things that are not considered cool, interesting, radical, intellectually stimulating, etc. I’m learning how to recognize that I actually really ENJOY doing boring shit sometimes, and it takes away my fears of being boring. For example, I LOVE deep cleaning the fridge. I JUST LOVE IT. I’m not going to Facebook about it, but I do it more regularly than you’d expect. Boring as shit to some, absolutely fucking satisfying to me.

Screen shot 2015-11-08 at 1.40.29 PM

 

Also, ONE MORE important thing to remember when feeling boring is:

NONE OF US ARE AS BUSY/INTERESTING AS WE LOOK ON FACEBOOK/INSTAGRAM. FOR REALZZZZZZ. -I can’t tell you how many times people have messaged me with a cool thing to do or apply to or to ask to hang out and they add “but you probably are super busy”, and I’m like “I just took a bath in the middle of the afternoon and now am eating peanut butter off a spoon after trying unsuccessfully to do yoga at home for more than 10 minutes…I have time for you”. There was this Australian model recently who changed her entire instagram captions to showcase how her whole account was a lie and that she was secretly miserable in real life. Way to go Essena O’Neil. I bet she’s as boring as the rest of us on the regular. Don’t take social media as your “am I interesting enough?” scale.

Summary: Being “interesting” all the time is not a pre-requisite for being loveable. We are all boring sometimes. No one is infinitely interesting, but you ARE infinitely loveable.

Have your own tips about how to combat anxiety around being boring? Share below or email theliferescriptedacademy @gmail.com

 

HAVE A BORING DAY! XO

 

 

How to be a partner and not a s/mother-Kick the “Homer Simpson Hangover”

Posted on Leave a comment

Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 1.19.16 PM

Being socialized female, from an early age we are expected to perform care-giving duties. We are being groomed, explicitly and implicitly, to be mother figures, to take on the emotional problems of others, to provide both gentleness, warmth and understanding, while at the same time stability, organization, and thoroughness.

And although our history as women includes (and continues to include) our bodies being sold off as property from one male figure to another, the emotional legacy we are also grappling with “because Patriarchy” often manifests as men being transferred from one mother figure to another- the first his actual mother, and the second his “wife” or partner.

We continue to assume these roles almost unconsciously, whether we agree with them or not. Women from all walks of life, regardless of socio-economic status, race, or sexual identity may find themselves in relationships where they are emotionally coddling or being over-attendant to their partners (in queer relationships this is still true where one partner represents more of the female energy/role in their relationship).

(AUTHORS NOTE: **Smothering can also DEFINITELY happen from men/ masculine-leaning folks towards women/ feminine-leaning folks. There are whole other reasons for those dynamics, that also have to do with patriarchy. ALSO!  Mothers are KICK ASS AWESOME AMAZING HUMANS. But, we don’t want to/shouldn’t be expected to perform “mothering roles” all the time, towards everyone. Certainly not our partners.) 

If you’re an 70’s, 80’s or cuspy early-90’s baby in North America who wasn’t raised by hippy parents with no televisions, you probably got a good dose of terrible mother-son marriage dynamics from pretty much every single television show available to you at the time, including cartoons. Whether you were watching The Flintstones, The Simpsons, Home Improvement, Martin, Married with Children, Coach, and following not far behind, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond…I could go on, you were showcased the same relational dynamic that we could refer to as the “Oaf and the Shrew”, which the article by Modern Primate describes as

“A semi-overweight, blue collar guy is married to a much sexier wife… and they have at least two, but usually three or four, kids…The husband must do dumb things or ruin important stuff each week and the wife must get really angry at how inconsiderate and stupid he is, but get over it by the end of the episode.”

Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 4.51.18 PM

 

These dynamics are a dying breed now in Television, but they persist as part of our collective psychology in North America about how relationships will/should look. We may call it a “Homer Simpson Hangover”!

Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 5.15.04 PM

Thank goodness for Queen Latifa and Golden Girls for trying to offer up something different in this time of TV championing these types of unhealthy dynamics! “In a 90’s kind of world, I”m glad I got my girls”-indeed, Queen Latifa, Indeed. But I digress…

Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 5.00.11 PMScreen shot 2015-11-03 at 5.00.52 PM

 

 

 

 

So, funny enough, when I googled “how to not mother your partner”, I got tons of articles on how not to SMOTHER your partner, which is basically just the word mother in disguise with an S in front (like if a mother put on a swirly moustache sideways?) So for the rest of this article, I’m going to use the word “s/mother” to represent similarly-linked tendencies. It also lead me to find this most-likely unfortunate movie surprisingly starring the never-unfortunate Diane Keaton which I may watch while eating all-the-popcorn later today: Screen shot 2015-11-03 at 1.19.42 PM

A quote I liked from “Lovepanky.com”  on the topic of “smothering” says

” You don’t smother your partner because of love. You smother someone with affection because you crave for their affection, you want their attention, or probably because you may want to help them with their troubles, or you may want to protect them.”

I think this is true. S/mothering often happens when a partnership feels unequal, and you are actively seeking to gain more from the relationship by adding your own energies to it, when really what you need is for the other person to put their energies into it. It’s a negative feedback loop for both partners. If you feel like you might be acting out some s/mothering tendencies in your relationship, maybe have some real-talk with yourself by asking the following questions:

  • Do I trust that this person knows how to take care of me?
  • How do I want/need someone to take care of me?
  • Do I trust this person to take care of themselves?
  • Have I ever told my partner what my needs are?
  • Has my partner told me what their needs are?
  • Do I respect the way my partner conducts themselves in the world?
  • Do I respect the way my partner conducts themselves in this relationship?
  • Does my partner actively ask me questions about how to shift their behaviour to better take care of my needs?
  • Am I “teaching” my partner how to behave more than waiting to see how they naturally respond on their own?
  • Am I waiting for my partner to “grow up” or “grow out of” who they are now?

If some of these questions were challenging for you to answer, you may be dating a Homer Simpson like character, or you may be s/mothering someone who is actually capable of taking care of themselves, if you just gave them a chance! Healthy relationships have to be based on trust and mutual respect, things that are often missing in s/mothering relationships. Here are some things you might think of implementing into your relationship to actively combat your s/mothering tendencies:

1. Ask directly for what you want. This requires you to actively think about what your own specific needs and desires are, and feel worthy of having them. This is a lifelong, fluxuating and ongoing process. You might not always want/need the same things, and that’s ok. If you ask for what you want/need and that person can’t provide that, they might not be the right person for you (or, you might need to have lots more direct dialogue to work out how to balance your needs with theirs)

2. Give them opportunities to “fail” or to “prove you wrong”. If you are constantly coddling or controlling every aspect of the relationship, it might be because you don’t actually trust your partner to make the right decision, say the right thing, prove they love you, etc. This avoidance tactic is common and keeps relationships “going forward”, but only by walking on eggshells. Make space for them to make their own choices. Maybe they will let you/themselves down. But these moments can be used to have constructive conversation, which can’t often happen if nothing ever goes wrong. To use a motherl-y example, it’s a little like taking the training wheels off your child’s bike: if they’re ever going to learn to ride the big bike, they might have to fall a bit while they are learning, and you’ve gotta LET them fall.

3. Ask them about their point of view and what they want/need. A great tool to understand how others operate in relationships is the Five Love Languages. Most of us have not been emotionally equipped with how to talk about our feelings and needs. This tool helps to shape and form the basis of those types of conversations and can be totally revolutionary for how you relate to your partner.

4. Break up? If you are truly with a person who is totally disinterested in doing any work to be a more mature, understanding, better partner and human being in general, maybe you need to stop sheltering them from the real world. Maybe they need more nights of eating craft dinner alone to make them realize that being with you/a responsible female is AMAZING and a fucking MIRACLE!

 

Got your own thoughts of how to avoid being in these s/mothering-type dynamics? Comment below or email us at theliferescriptedacademy @gmail.com

 

xo

Natalie

 

 

To Change Your Story, You Must Own It.

Posted on 1 Comment

“I’m done, I’m not finishing the show”

I informed my partner Tanya in the flattest of monotones. I’d spent the last two years working on on the play, Wrestling God and Girls, tirelessly. But, there was no drama to my announcement, no emotional breakdown – I just didn’t see the purpose anymore. In response she fumbled some comforting phrases while failing to cover up her concern – both by my choice and more remarkably by the uncharacteristic lack of emotion. See, I’m a feeler, and make up for my short height with my vocalizing capabilities. I processes most emotions audibly and in relationship. This quiet and eerily calm letting go was unlike me, and she knew better than to get in the way of my process. Smart human.

Fortunately, I had booked two spoken word poetry performances in the upcoming week, and in researching how to preamble an excerpt from a show I was no longer writing, I came across Marie Forleo’s interview with Todd Henry. Thank the heavens.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 1.25.16 PM

In it, Todd likens embarking on a creative project to hiking a canyon.  At the beginning your destination is clear to you on the other side of the valley. But as you hike down, your perspective shifts and by the time you are at the bottom, you question whether the trip was a worthwhile journey to begin with.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 1.46.21 PM

The last part hit me in the solar plexus. He was talking about me – I was questioning if this project was even worth doing anymore –I was in the bottom of the canyon and asking “why tell the story?”

After a few temper tantrums, I finally got down to the business of figuring out what I needed. I lay on the couch with Tanya, crying hot shamey tears and spitting up story after story that ate at me from the inside.

“I’m useless. I’m pathetic. I’m a total failure.

Though some part of me knew the terrible things I was saying couldn’t be true, they were rising up and out of me without any holding back.

Thankfully, Tanya was having none of it.

“Babe, you aren’t a failure. You picked that story up somewhere but that doesn’t make it true.”

And just like that – my perspective shifted and I remembered the power of story.  She was right.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 7.12.30 PM

The story of being a failure wasn’t mine but I was clinging to it like it was my truth, all without awareness. In turn it was controlling me and ke me from working on a project that had been born of much love.​

To change this, I had to reclaim the power as storyteller of my own life – to remember that I can be brave enough to pay attention to the stories I’ve chosen to believe about myself and my life and respond with curiosity and self-compassion.

I asked:

Is this story still true?

Where did I pick this story up?

Does it serve me?

What is a different story I could tell in service of myself?

We can only change the stories we own,  and we can only own those stories which we know and name for ourselves. This is why we work with the stories and scripts by which we build our lives, and which we can rescript in order to create lasting transformation.

And in case you are wondering, I’m finishing the play. It’s my story and to tell my story is a revolutionary act of love that I am giving myself. This is my work. It is the work of us all.

xo,

Barbara

Welcome to the Life Rescripted Academy!

Posted on Leave a comment

Thanks for stopping by! We’ll be using this blog as a platform for discussions, tips, inspirations and challenges that focus on emotional communication and healty relationships with others, but most importantly, with ourselves. We started the Life Rescripted Academy out of our shared observations that healthy emotional communication skills and the ability for self-awareness are critical for a person’s happiness, well being and success in the world, and yet; there are so few opportunities for people to gain these skills in a face-to-face, community setting. We think that people learn best through stories and through sharing and being heard. We’re excited to challenge and provoke curiosity about the stories many of us have been told our whole lives that might be holding us back from thinking about new, fruitful narratives waiting to be uncovered.

Now, don’t get us wrong; we are not pedaling some cure-all solution that will lead to neverending happiness and have you throwing $100 bills in the air like they’re nothing (although, if somehow this workshop leads you to throwing $100 bills in the air, feel free to call us over to celebrate!) . What we are hoping for is to begin to have honest, interesting conversations about how to better navigate the challenging highways between the head and the heart, in ways that perhaps we have not been taught or have had demonstrated before. Whether you’re hoping to heal your relationship with your mother or looking to get a promotion, we can’t say enough about how important emotional communication and self awareness skills are in all areas of life.

We’re very excited to have been offered the opportunity to be resident workshop facilitators at Artscape Youngplace for the 2015/16 season. Hurrah! We’ll be running a soft launch of our 3 part workshop series starting Tuesday June 30th at 6pm and running for 3 consecutive weeks (June 30th, July 7 and July 14) . These workshops will be discounted and will be critical in helping us shape and tweak our workshop structures to make them the most beneficial for all participants. You can feel free to join us for 1, for 2 or for all three! And no need to do them in succession, you’re welcome to come to one or any that peak your interest. We’re looking forward to your feedback, the good, the bad and the…life changing?

We hope you’ll join us for our workshops, and stay posted for candid blog updates on all aspects of the emotional awareness journey!

Xo

Natalie and Barbara