Relationship Tips Blog

The Art of Appreciation

Learn to master the Art of Appreciation in all your relationships.

Relationship Tips

Tip #1:  Appreciate Yourself Daily

selfLoveFortuneYears ago I heard a wise woman say, “Love yourself first, then try the world on for size.” It seems it is impossible to be fully intimate with another if we lack a fundamental love and respect for ourselves.

A simple way to increase our capacity for Love is to open to receiving self-appreciation.

So take a moment right now to pause. . .
take three deep, easy breaths. . . and answer the question:

“One thing I appreciate about how I show up in relationship is …”

Now, take a few more breaths and allow yourself to receive the appreciation fully. . . Let it penetrate your usual defenses and deflection. This is between you and your heart, so don’t be shy!

If you find yourself unable to complete this simple practice, this is important feedback regarding your current state of Love-ability. You might have to start by asking someone you trust to answer the question for you. That’s OK. Use their reflection as fuel for your own self-appreciation practice.

Try this practice every day for a few weeks and track your results. If you’re inspired, let me know what happens!

From my heart to yours,

Joy ♥

 

The Art of Appreciation ~ Parts 1 & 2

The Art of Appreciation, Part 1

In the everyday hubbub of parenting, working, play dates and house-holding, it’s easy to overlook one of our most precious resources…our partner. Ironically, the person we rely upon the most can also be the one we most fail to appreciate (next to ourselves). And it’s this lack of appreciation – our ability to lovingly acknowledge others and ourselves through verbal and other means – that undermines long-term relationships the most.

Leading Parenting and Relationship Researcher John Gottman agrees. He has spent years and countless hours observing and detailing the interactions of couples. So keen are his skills in the nuances of intimate relationship, it’s said he can observe a couple on video and, in less than an hour, predict their chances of survival with 93% accuracy.

One of Gottman’s important findings shows that how a couple fights, or even how often, doesn’t determine longevity. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether their fighting style is loud and dramatic or withdrawn and simmering. What matters most is how partners treat each other BETWEEN conflicts. Specifically, his research asserts that in healthy, thriving relationships there is a 5-to-1 ratio between positive and negative feelings toward each other.

When I share this with couples, I ask them to imagine this ratio like a bank account; I call it their Appreciation Trust Fund (ATF). If a couple is not depositing regularly into their ATF, and if they keep “nickel and diming” each other with constant negative thoughts and emotions, they may find their ATF sorely depleted, especially when it comes time for a major transaction. Much like the economy, we can’t expect to abuse our credit line with each other and expect our relationship to keep thriving. Eventually our relationship goes bankrupt!

When teaching couples The Art of Appreciation, I break down this lost art into its essential ingredients: Giving, Receiving and Asking. Many people consider themselves capable Givers, yet not very good Receivers, while others feel inept in both departments.  Ironically, the biggest obstacle in mastering appreciation boils down to this: When we don’t appreciate ourselves, it is difficult to appreciate another. “Try on” being both Giver and Receiver and see how comfortable each feels.

On Giving

The more present and specific a Giver is, the more precious the gift they give. The art of delivering an appreciation comes in three varieties:

• The Quick Toss: A brief, gracious “thank you” peppered throughout your day, given spontaneously and (hopefully) often. (e.g. “Thanks for making dinner!”)

• The Thoughtful Pause: This requires the Giver to take a moment and reflect on what or why they appreciate, and be specific about it. (e.g. “What a wonderful dinner – the creamy spiciness of the potatoes were especially tasty. Thank you for cooking!”)

• The Formal Bouquet: This practice invites both the Giver and the Receiver to be present for the appreciation. The combined presence of two evokes a more heartfelt exchange. Each person takes a full, easy breath before speaking. It goes something like this:

Giver: I have an appreciation for you, are you willing to receive it?

Receiver: Yes, I am.

Giver: I appreciate the subtle flavors and textures of your cooking, how easy you make it all seem and how you do it day after day. Your creativity in the kitchen is such a gift to our family. I feel so loved when I eat your food – thank you.

Receiver: Thanks for noticing.

 

On Receiving

It’s very important that the Receiver be able to accept an appreciation, otherwise the bouquet is wasted. Most of us have had the experience of thanking someone, only to have it deflected or denied. Not very satisfying, is it?  If need be, the Receiver can ask to receive the appreciation at a later time.

I encourage couples to play with all three levels of appreciation – the toss, the pause and the bouquet – daily. Although the Formal Bouquet can make some people squirm at first, most couples grow to appreciate these moments of deep connection when their hearts open to each other.

Modeling appreciation affects the whole family. Expand your appreciation practice to include the children. “Playing the Appreciation Game,” as one couple calls it, adds richness to activities, such as family dinners, as everyone takes time to share gratitude for their day and each other.

 (This article first appeared in the June 2011 issue of North State Parent Magazine)

The Art of Appreciation, Part 2

Take a moment to ponder when you feel most loved by your partner. In those moments there is likely a sense of being seen, an expanded quality in the heart, a relaxation in the body. This quality of receptivity occurs when two people meet in the field of appreciation. When this happens, both parties experience a deep sense of satisfaction. Love prevails!

In Part I of this article, we focused on the importance of daily appreciation between couples and how to master the art of verbal appreciation, expanding it to include the entire family. Simple to more formal forms of “Thank You” are essential, yet they are just one aspect of acknowledging each other.

I once worked with a committed couple who felt totally exasperated in their inability to connect. “He hardly ever appreciates me or tells me that he loves me,” she complained. He threw his hands up in the air and exclaimed, “What? I just bought you a whole new stereo system for you car and paid for you to take a spa day for yourself!”

What he didn’t know was that his gestures of love were interpreted by her as forms of distancing instead of connecting. While he was busy showering her with goods and services, what she most wanted was his undivided attention. How many times have you tried to express your love to your partner and felt unacknowledged? If you perpetually miss the mark, it may be a case of “it’s not what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it.” This can be true with children as well.

Dr. Gary Chapman has devoted an entire book to this topic called The Five Love Languages. He outlines five ways that people like to receive love. We all have our favorite forms, and if our partner is not adept in our preferred “love language,” disappointment can result.  These are his takes on how we most like to receive love:

  • Words of Affirmation

If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

  • Quality Time

In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

  • Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

  • Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

  • Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

I recommend couples take time to rate these five love languages, in order of preference. (go to www.5lovelanguages.com for your assessment). Then get together and explore your findings. With this Love Language awareness, I find couples are more inclined to ask for more of what they want. . . and much better equipped to give it to each other too!

(The following article first appeared in the August 2011 issue of North State Parent magazine.) 

 

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Building a Relationship with My Feet

Every part of you has a secret language;

Your hands and feet say what you’ve done.  ~ Rumi

As a kid, my hands and feet were a source of quiet shame for me. I was born with what adults kindly referred to as “old soul’s hands” which in the school yard translated to a regular inquiry from kids: “How come your hands look like an old lady’s?” My feet, with their gap-toed goofiness, didn’t fare much better. “I bet you could peel a banana with those!” teased one schoolmate. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga in my late twenties that my wide toe span garnered admiration. Suddenly my “monkey feet” were the envy of other, close-toed bipeds. My journey into appreciating feet was just beginning.

When I discovered Reflexology in my late 30’s, I was immediately fascinated with its practical applications. Reflexology is an ancient healing modality that recognizes the hands and feet as precise maps of the entire body with reflex points that correspond to all the organs and systems. A far cry from a “foot rub,” true Reflexology addresses health by helping to harmonize all the major body systems, including spinal, muscular, lymphatic, digestive, immune and endocrine systems. Through applying pressure to reflex points in the feet, a healing response occurs in the correlating system. There are various styles of Reflexology, depending on the lineage. I consider it a powerful “folk medicine,” a living modality that is influenced by whatever culture – or person -adopts it.

Learning Reflexology was like receiving a secret treasure map to the body. At the time, I was working as a Pilates Trainer and Breema® Instructor, two modalities that actively include the feet. Pilates is generally practiced barefooted, so when I began to learn Reflexology, it was easy to observe how tendencies in the body correlated with tendencies in the feet. Weak/tight hips equaled weak/tight ankles, shoulder and neck issues were evident in the toes, the same for low back issues. By working consciously with the feet, it brought balance to the entire body, and vice-versa.

What I found was that when my clients began paying more attention to their feet, their feet responded. “What is this point? It keeps talking to me!” was a standard comment. I would then get to play translator for the budding relationship between my client and their feet. I secretly enjoyed their surprised looks when, in reading their feet, I could accurately relate to them the physical issue their feet were reflecting. For many, this seems like magic, but for a Reflexologist, it’s business as usual.

Yet it wasn’t until I left my Pilates practice in California to move to Oregon, that the more soulful aspects of Reflexology emerged for me. Before moving North, I took three months in the wilds of Baja, completely removed from all that I knew and who knew me. I walked barefoot, practiced yoga and lived on the most ferocious coastline I’d ever seen.

I also had the opportunity to touch a lot of soles, Mexicano and American alike. No longer looking through the Pilates lens of physical structure, something subtle and sublime started to occur: When I touched people’s feet I started receiving impressions. I saw colors, energy, spirits around them. I received messages about issues they were facing. Holding a person’s feet seem to give me access to touching into a deeper level of their being. Sole-to-Soul Wellness was born.

Since my Baja sojourn, my “old soul’s hands” have touched hundreds of people, helping them renew, rebalance and reconnect with their entire body and being through their most humble servants – the feet. Most people have a deeply restorative experience from a session. Occasionally, a body reacts with a “restless leg” type syndrome. If this occurs, I invite my client to spend 5 -30 minutes barefoot on damp earth. This seems to help rebalance the electrical system.

When people ask me how to best care for their feet, my advice is simple – touch them in anyway that feels good. Soak them in warm water. Allow them to breathe. And most importantly, let your feet touch the earth as often as possible. And don’t forget to wiggle your toes!

(This article was first published in the May/June 2011 issue of Spirituality & Health Magazine)

 

 


Sharing Withholds ~ An Intimacy Practice for Undefended Living

SCENE ONE: My partner and I are in the car on a road trip having a glorious time. I’m singing along to an old pop tune, rocking out, while he reads his GPS. I see him furrow his brow and then he asks to turn off the radio. . . ka-thud. In that instant, I go from exuberant karaoke queen to crest-fallen idiot as a series of stories cascade through my consciousness: He doesn’t like my voice, I should be a better navigator, he’s always squelching my expression. And in that micro-moment when I perceive him  – and myself – from this lens of judgment, I energetically recoil from him, if only slightly. Left unchecked, there’s a good chance that, by the end of our road trip, I will have a internal file of “evidence” outlining all the ways he’s been controlling and judging me the entire trip – and beyond! You get the idea.

Welcome to the world of Withholds.

Withholds occur when we project old thoughts and feelings onto current reality and (here’s the critical part) act as if they’re real and fail to reveal them. Whatever the content of the withhold, the energetic outcome is the same: We subtly (or not so subtly) withdraw from our partner. A minor incident becomes fodder for what likely is an old and recurrent theme in our life.  These themes, or perceptual biases, start to take on a life of their own in relationships, and couples can find themselves staring across an abyss at someone who they assume they love but can’t relate to anymore.

In exploring the dynamics of thriving, intimate relationships, both personally and professionally, I’ve come to the conclusion that staying current and transparent is a key ingredient to long-term intimacy.  This means finding honorable ways of confiding our inner-reality to our mate, including the “petty” stuff. Although most couples say they value honesty, most consistently fudge the truth with each other or, worse, verbally bludgeon their mate under the guise of “I am just being honest.” Ouch.

Sharing Withholds is an intimacy practice where both partners agree to share their inner-terrain while taking full responsibility for their thoughts and feelings instead of defending them. When done successfully, blame and shame take a back seat to self-acceptance and empathy. This requires the sharer of the Withhold to acknowledge their inner-world through a lens of curiosity, noting what body sensations, emotions, thoughts and/or old memories were evoked. Having some distance from the triggering event and choosing to humbly reveal our self (with our mate agreeing to act as a witness) helps bridge a gap before it becomes a gulf.

The practice of Sharing Withholds is not for the faint of heart or rigidly stubborn. It requires both partners’ agreement to let go of their defensive postures (or at least take full responsibility for them). I guide people to break down a Withhold into four steps:

1) Talk about the triggering moment as if describing a snapshot;

2) Name the bodily sensations that occurred;

3) Claim any feelings (usually it’s some version of sad, mad, afraid);

4) Take ownership of any thoughts/stories/imaginings/memories that were evoked.

It helps – a lot! – when the receiver of the Withhold can offer authentic empathy for what’s been shared.

SCENE TWO: Fifteen minutes later down the road, after having sat with my earlier reactions to my mate, I ask him if he’s “willing to hear a withhold.” When he agrees, I tell him that when I was singing and saw his furrowed brow followed by a request to turn off the radio, I had a visceral reaction: My throat tightened, my belly knotted up and my exuberant energy dropped dramatically. I realize I felt scared when I saw his brow furrow and then got angry by his request. I share with him the cascade of thoughts and stories I made up about him and myself . . and ultimately realize that it reminded me of scenes with my father in childhood, how he would send me to my room when I was “too loud.” I feel the pain of that early hurt wash through me and dissipate. When I am complete, my sweetheart smiles kindly and says, “I had no idea all that was happening. I was focused on directions and was afraid we were lost!”

“We almost were,” I tell him, and smile back.

 (This article was first published in the Sept/Oct. 2011  issue of Spirituality & Health Magazine.)

 


Relationship Recipe for Disaster

In working with couples over the years – and enduring some painful partnerships myself – I’ve come to appreciate the highly creative (if mostly unconscious) strategies couples employ to “make a relationship work.” Here is one of the more popular, if horribly unsatisfying, “relationship recipes” I’ve encountered:

1) Withhold your truth in a multitude of ways, especially what your feeling and thinking on a day-to-day basis.

2) Tell yourself those little matters aren’t important. Take the attitude “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” until your backlog of niggling inner complaints suffocates any chance of pleasure with your partner.

3) Begin to withdraw from your partner in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, until you are “leading parallel lives” or worse, experiencing life together as one of “sleeping with the enemy.”

4) Predictable outcomes: Create a seemingly out-of-the-blue argument with your partner and unleash a storm of blame and complaints, proclaiming yourself a victim to their intolerable behavior. If your partner joins you in outburst, you both argue over who-is-most-victimized-by-whom until you exhaust yourselves. After your fight, use your newly freed up energy to:

a) have make-up sex, or

b) feed your ever-growing plot of how you’re gong to end this relationship. . . someday.

5) Repeat this recipe again and again for same, reliable results!


Sound like something you’ve tasted? Although once considered standard fare in the unofficial marriage handbook, this recipe has now – brace yourself! – been recognized as being detrimental to emotional health! Yet its influence persists, likely because many of us were spoon-fed some version of it throughout our childhood. For those of us who were fed a steady diet of this kind of “emotional junk food,” it’s time to dream up something new! So try on this recipe instead:

1) Start with a solid base of inspiring commitments* that you and your partner agree on, including the essential grace ingredient: Committing to seeing your partner as your ally and to being theirs.

2) Stay current and transparent* with your partner about everything going on in and around you, because it feels SO good to be seen and to fully express!

3) Learn to speak what relationship gurus Gay and Katy Hendricks call The Unarguable Truth* about your inner reality as way to mature your self-understanding and deepen your connection to your partner.

4) When your Blaming and Shaming inner voices start to revolt and threaten to shut down your heart, remember (and call upon) your commitment to see your partner as your ally, no matter what.

5) Stock up with simple tools and practices* in your love pantry to throw into the mix when needed!

6) Awaken and go to sleep each day, grateful for the love of the exquisite, gorgeous -and sometimes mysterious – creature beside you.

Take a moment to reflect on your current relationship recipe. Does it have the right blend of delicious intimacy that you crave? Or has it become a bland – or perhaps grueling – mixture of less-than-vital ingredients? As I often share my creativity and love through cooking, I can tell you a simple secret of all good food:

It comes from a devotion to quality ingredients, a curious mind and an open heart. The same is true for “cooking up” a good relationship.

For more information on these practices and how to create a new recipe for your own relationship bliss, call Joy at 541/482-8540

Secrets of Successful Commitments

The “C” word – Commitment – elicits a wide range of beliefs, feelings and potential confusion for many couples. Commitments and agreements are foundational to any healthy partnership, yet many people struggle in clearly communicating their values and preferences. For some, commitment = forever = “Yikes, there goes my freedom!” while others view their life as incomplete unless they’re in a “committed partnership.” But what exactly does that mean?

Couples come to see me for a variety of reasons. Two issues that top the list are broken agreements and/or feeling stuck in “limbo” – where the relationship is not working well, and although they may talk freely about ending it, neither of them is actually willing to do so. Either of these painful situations can benefit from exploring how commitments – both conscious and unconscious – are affecting the relationship.

Just to be clear, making commitments is not just in the domain of couples. We ALL have ways that we commit – or not – to our own well-being, work, community and the world. I find that demystifying commitment supports couples in making more powerful choices and paves the way to clear agreements. For the sake of this article, the commitment principles I work with will be applied to the realm of primary partnership. Feel free to ponder how the “secrets” shared here can translate to other areas of your life.

If you’re willing, take a moment to explore your “inner-body” experience around commitment. To do this, bring your attention to your body, wherever you are. Experience your body breathing, consciously connecting to your inhalation and exhalation. Use this awareness of body breathing to deepen your connection to the body. Feel the body having weight. Whether you’re sitting or reclining or standing, take a breath to more fully experience your body’s posture. It’s usually easier to connect with the inner-body with your eyes closed, but with practice, it can be done eyes open. From this inner-body awareness, observe your breath and any sensations you’re experiencing. Feel the effect of inhalation in the belly or chest; experience exhalation and how the body responds. Do all this from a place of neutrality, in other words, without judgment. With a soft inner gaze, stay with this experience for a number of breaths, then allow yourself to track your inner-body experience as you say the word “Commitment” to yourself, either out loud or silently. Notice what happens to your breath and subtle variations in sensations. What do you notice? Does your energy go up? Down? Are you aware of any pressure, vibration, tightness, movement or change in body temperature? Stay with your experience for a few more breaths, and then say the words, “I commit” and notice if your inner-body experience changes or not.

Pondering commitment generally raises a gamut of feelings for people, depending on their orientation to the concept of commitment. When people I work with “try on” the above words and I have them track how it feels in their body, I hear responses ranging from “I feel like I have cement blocks on my feet” to “my solar plexus is pulsating and an energy is rising up and out of my heart.” Whatever your experience, consider it a valuable clue as to how commitment operates in your life. Staying curious is key. I invite you to stay connected to your breath, periodically taking a moment to track and name your inner-body awareness as you continue to read this article. Here are a few “secrets” to reflect upon as you consider the power of making commitments – or not.


Commitment Secret #1:Every relationship you’re currently engaged in ALREADY involves commitment of some sort. My favorite definition of commitment is one that I gleaned from my mentors Diana Chapman and Grace Caitlin: Commitment isa way of organizing your energy in a particular direction. How I relate to this definition is that true commitment involves all of me – my head, my heart, my gut – being in alignment. If my head thinks something “is a good idea,” but my heart or gut is not in agreement, then I am participating in wishful thinking and not true commitment. Part of my work as a relationship coach is to help couples clearly name WHAT they’re already committed to, which sometimes surprises them. This requires a willingness to do what I call “name and claim” their current commitments, based on the already-occurring actions and outcomes of their lives.

The good news: There are many commitments shaping your current relationship that are WORKING FOR YOU! For instance, you and your partner may have an unspoken commitment to create and maintain a comfortable home environment together. Or perhaps you support each other in eating a healthy breakfast … or taking family vacations every year, no matter what. To get clear about what your current commitments are, just take an inventory of your life. The results of your commitments become apparent. For instance, are you committed to being monogamous? Enjoying simple pleasures together? Having regular date nights? Supporting each other in your careers? Make a list of ways that you and your partner are already in agreement around commitments. If you’re interested in vitalizing your partnership, take time to appreciate your partner – and yourself! – for all your mutual commitments that are working for you.

Commitment Secret #2:If you don’t make conscious commitments with your partner, you leave room for UNconscious commitments to rule your relationship. If you’re curious to know what your current unconscious commitments are, simply look at where your attention perpetually gets directed in a negative way; in other words, what are your biggest complaints? Some common complaints – and their potential underlying unconscious commitments – I’ve witnessed between couples are:

1) Complaint: “You don’t see/understand me.”

  • Underlying Unconscious Commitment: We are committed to not telling the whole truth to each other, especially in the area of__________________ (e.g. money, sexual feelings, addictions…)

2) Complaint: “I don’t trust you.”

  • Underlying Unconscious Commitment: We are committed to blaming each other and holding each other responsible for the difficulties on our relationship.

3) Complaint: “ We never have enough quality time together.”

  • Underlying Unconscious Commitment: We are committed to making our children’s (or animal’s or work…) needs more important than caring for ourselves and/or our relationship.

Commitment Secret #3:Clear agreements are born from clear commitments. Agreements are the result of having taken the time and care to name what is most important to you in your relationship and creating specific ways to track and support that commitment. For example, if you both have a commitment to living within your financial means, you might make specific agreements about your spending plan: We agree to spend within our budget. If an expenditure comes up that might exceed our budget, we agree to check-in with each other and decide how we will pay for it before any money is spent.

Commitment Secret #4:Do not, I repeat, do not make any commitments or agreements that you do not truly want! Again, for me this means that my three centers – head, heart and gut – are in agreement! This seems fundamental, but is actually where I see couples create the biggest snafus for themselves. This essential aspect of clear commitments and agreements requires each person to “name and claim” what they truly value, which may require some difficult truth telling. To use the previous example, if you say you are committed to living within your means, but somehow find a way to overspend each month, your results are clearly showing you that there’s something else you value more than living within your budget! I engage people in simple, body-centered practices that help them clarify their authentic “Yes” and “No” responses so they can make clear commitments based on what’s true for them.

Commitment Secret #5: Re-committing is key to your success. Check in with your commitments regularly and see if you’re still acting from them. One of my favorite foundational relationship commitments is “I commit to seeing you as my ally and to being yours.” This powerful commitment comes in handy in those vice-grip emotional moments when my merciless mind gets activated and I begin to view my partner as “the enemy.” If, in those treacherous moments, I choose to re-commit to this simple yet profound allyship statement, the energy to fight immediately shifts and my heart softens. How different my Beloved – and the world! – look when my beady eyes and hardened heart open to perceive that I’ve been pecking at my most precious ally!

Commitment Secret #6:Commitment and agreements may change. This is a biggie for most people to fathom, as most of us have been indoctrinated in some form of “’til-death-do-us-part” belief system around commitments. This is why RE-committing is key. It helps keep us current with what we want, what we value and why. In staying current, we may find that a situation has changed, and with it, our commitment and agreements around it. For example, perhaps you and your partner have an agreement to being monogamous, and then one of you falls ill or is somehow unable/unwilling to be sexual. You may want to change your commitment, and collaborate in creating new agreements that support you both in living a more authentically loving partnership. Or it could be that your money situation radically changes, and your old commitments and agreements need to be updated. Whatever the case, I recommend taking time on a regular basis to “name and claim” your commitments. Some people enjoy doing it annually, which is a wonderful practice. I have found that certain clues begin showing up when it’s time to re-evaluate my commitments. Things stop flowing well and/or I experience old, uncomfortable patterns reclaiming influence in my life.

Commitment Secret #7:Commitments manifest on varying timetables (which is why RE-commitment is so important!). This means that some commitments are organic to your nature and occur easily, while others will require fortitude. For example, your commitment to your health or to making money may be obvious; yet manifesting the relationship of your dreams may perpetually elude you. This doesn’t mean there’s something “wrong” with you, or that your efforts are wasted. As far as I can tell, we ALL have at least one area in our life that offers us fertile soil for growth. Fully facing and embracing your greatest challenges can lead to your most satisfying successes. The great inventor Thomas Edison spent years committing and re-committing before his dream of electricity manifested in form. It may be the same for you, in some area of your life.

My favorite commitment metaphor is imagining it as a large ship. If you SAY you want to go to Hawaii, but your ship is headed to Australia, then your commitment is off course! A large ship requires the captain, the crew and a strong engine working together to steer the vessel to the desired shore. The captain can keep saying s/he wants to be in Hawaii, but if the crew and engine are on a different course, forget about it, you’re going to Australia! Instead, if everyone on board agrees on Hawaii as their destination, the course is clear. Navigation is still needed, and it may take awhile to get there, but the commitment is to landing in Hawaii and there is an air of joyful determination.

The key here is whether you are truly in alignment with what you SAY you want. When your three centers – head, heart and gut – energetically align around a desire, it is only a matter of time before that desire manifests. However, if unconscious commitments are consistently sabotaging your stated desire, support may be useful. In sessions and classes, it immediately becomes clear when somebody is congruent in their mind-heart-gut when they state a commitment. There is a palpable sense of truth being spoken, even if the result is not fully manifested yet. As Goethe so aptly articulated, so long ago:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

(This article was first published in the April/May 2010 issue of The Sentient TImes)