‘I don’t know what the hell is going on and that’s ok’
That is the mantra that New York Time’s bestselling author and life coach, Martha Beck, says you should say to yourself when you are going through the first stage of a period of transition or change in your life and your life feels full of uncertainty. She likens change to the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
In the first stage, Martha says, you are dissolving, like a caterpillar in a cocoon. If you try to cut a caterpillar out of it’s cocoon at this stage where it is dissolving, you will kill it, it will not have the opportunity to form into it’s full potential, a butterfly.
During this initial stage of the change process, you will not feel like you have any volition. You will feel like the process is happening to you, and in fact, all you need to do is to allow it to happen. Easier said than done. In many cases, you will need enormous amounts of faith and trust.
This is especially true when your change process is one that came about as a result of a shock, like when you are fired from your job unexpectedly. Though change can also be initiated when you make a personal decision to leave a relationship or move abroad to find work.
Times of change however are opportunities for growth, they show that you have completed all you have learnt in your life thus far and are ready to learn and become more. When you are feeling the most challenged by change, you are actually growing the most.
“What the caterpillar perceives is the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.” ~Anonymous
What you need to do during times of change, is to allow life and the beginnings of change to happen to and through you. To trust that you cannot lose who you truly are, and all that falls away is merely illusion, old habits and ways of living that no longer suit you.
No matter how many times I go through this first stage of change and transition, it still takes me by surprise and it takes me a while to realize that what I need to do is allow for the change. I have to keep reminding myself that change is a healthy sign of a life that is conscious and evolving.
My mind and ego want things to be known, to stay the same. I find myself desperately trying to hold on to old routines and ways of thinking, instead of allowing my change process to unfold in an organic way, as all life does, in its natural state.
Eventually though, I learnt that by making a choice to let go, and allow for a change to take it’s own form, and getting out of my own way, change happens more smoothly.
I also learnt to ask for help and then be fiercely honest about how I felt, which was at times out of control, hopeless, confused or uncertain in the midst of change.
You may also want to ask for help through your own change processes.
This help can come from those who have walked through similar change processes and come through to the other side, those that can give you hope and a map to follow, though you will likely find your own routes on this map.
Life is full of change and uncertainty, and we can never predict exactly what is going to happen to us in our lives. It is beyond our ability to plan and control. This is the beauty of it too, that there is a force that is greater than us, that is in charge, because there will most likely be many times in your life when you do not know what the hell is going on and it doesn’t feel ok.
What you need to do is get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Not many people are comfortable with being uncomfortable, which is why many resist change and stay in the same ruts, unhappy relationships and stagnant life situations for years.
If you can also learn to ask for help when it becomes unbearable, people that have walked through the death valleys of their own doubts and struggles with change and continue to allow for growth in their lives, will be able to help you. These people will show you the maps of change and help you find your own route through. Allow them to help you.
I know that the wisdom of Martha Beck and the other mentors and guides I have, helped and continue to help me. When I was able to ask and then trust their helping hands and words of advice.
Are you struggling with change at this moment?
Who can you ask for help with finding your route through your period of change?
A shadow is formed where light cannot be seen because it is being blocked. According to renown psychologist Carl Jung, humans have a shadow aspect to their personalities; parts of our personalities that we cannot see because it is blocked from our conscious awareness. Jung says that coming to know your shadow however, is an integral part of individuation- becoming whole.
The shadow aspect in our personalities is what we deny and avoid facing in ourselves. It can consist of our emotional wounds, shame, hidden anger or pain. The more positive side holds our personal power and self esteem, our dreams and latent potential.
When we do not face this part of ourselves and become aware of it, we can end up projecting it onto others and blaming them or making them the cause of our unhappiness and discomfort, or we can act out in ways that are self destructive or harm others. You can see the shadow play out when ministers who speak out about the wrongs of homosexuality come out as gay or very conservative sexually repressive cultures like the Mormons report cases of incest and child abuse.
We can also live lives of quiet desperation and yearning, knowing that we are not quite living out our dreams and ambitions, that we have settled for less, because we fear asking for more out of life.
I recently became aware of emotional wounds in my shadow that had been buried deep inside me, so deep that I did not even know that they were there. No matter how many times I come across an emotional wound, I always find that there is an initial stage of denial and resistance where I find it difficult to let go and allow myself to feel the pain and walk through it.
And yet I know from my experiences of coming to face and heal past emotional wounds, that the only way to heal is to allow myself to walk through the pain that the wounds bring, to walk on through to the other side of them. As I walk through my emotional pain, I endeavor not to dwell or identify solely with it, but to be with it, to be in a space of allowing.
This allowing is much like a dance to me, where you have your part and you allow, your partner, your emotional pain, to interact with you in a rhythmic way. Sometimes your pain will take over and you will feel like you are just along for the ride, with no volition of your own, sometimes you will be leading, though you will also be aware of it’s presence and connection to you.
It takes a lot of energy to deny and repress your shadow and emotional pain, energy which often takes on the form of addictions, neurosis or a life filled with distractions. So you can spend time avoiding your shadow, but it is likely that this will only mean that you end up acting out in some way in your life.
Coming to know and integrate your shadow self is deeply profound work, I have found that it will take all the courage and tenacity you think you have the capacity for, and then some. It involves owning what it is you are not wanting to face about yourself, and then allowing for the dance of awareness of it in your psyche.
If you are able to do so however, you will find that this is a very powerful process where you reclaim your whole self. You walk a little closer to the part of you that is real, and with that comes authenticity, truth and potential.
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek
~ Joseph Campbell
I know that when I take responsibility for my shadow, I feel more empowered. I know that to continue to feel a sense of empowerment in my life, I have to be honest about where I am at each point to myself. I have to face where I am, even if where I am is deep in emotional pain, denial or downright discomfort. Because empowerment comes from truth.
The very first step to knowing your shadow and coming to wholeness is to make the decision to do so, then just allowing for the dance.
To be the hero in my life’s journey, I know I have to take responsibility for my shadow. So I do. I allow for it’s presence in my life. I know that the shadow parts of me are really just the parts that I am not aware of, the parts that I just need to become conscious of, and that becoming aware does not mean that I create them or make them into anything more, but merely bring them into a greater cohesion into my psyche and life, and this loosens any destructive hold it can have over me.
When I choose to have the courage to show up in my life and look at my shadow, even when I’m unsure of whether I can face what I see, I go a little further along my path to reclaiming my whole self. I also move closer to my latent potential.
Creative professionals like artists, writers, musicians and performers often lead dysfunctional lives, because they draw from their shadow to create their art form. They give form to the parts of ourselves that we cannot always access and that’s why we connect so viscerally with their work and art. They are able to express what we long for, or run from or don’t recognize as part of who we are. Both our dysfunctions and talent.
In my efforts to come to a greater understanding of my shadow, I have found a desire and passion to write and share this journey of my psyche and life. You may also choose to take a step into the hidden aspects of your personality, your shadow, and even though there may be wounds and pain, ultimately, this is also where you will find your greatest potential.
I invite you to journey with me as you explore your own shadow.
What lies in your shadow that you may not be wanting to face?
What potential do you have in your shadow that you have not reclaimed as yet?
So said the 9th century Buddhist Master Lin Chi. When I first read this, I thought it both unnecessarily violent and absolutely intriguing. But as I came to understand the idea, I liked what was essentially being said- that if there is someone we meet or see as all-knowing in our lives, we should question that and instead ultimately aim to become our own gurus.
Growing up Catholic, which in my family meant attending church and Sunday school weekly, my first guide was the Catholic faith I belonged to. I was quite devout, and even had an altar I created in my room, from the relatively young age of 9. I endeavored to follow the suggested ways of living, most of which I found easy enough, though I wasn’t sure about original sin. It really didn’t make me feel very good about who I was. Still I persevered until the age of about 19 when I began to explore and learn about other religions and spiritual teachings.
Along the way I picked up some gurus.
One that inspired me greatly with his spiritual teachings, I later learned was also a drunk, when I met him in person. But somehow that didn’t discount his teachings. He certainly came down from the pedestal I had put him on, but then I realized that if he could attain the wisdom, depth and charisma he had, while also being so humanly dysfunctional, maybe I could too. And eventually, it was his humanity that inspired me even more.
One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious ~ Carl Jung
And I came to see spirituality as not so much about not having failings so much as being real, and dedicated to keeping on the spiritual path. To being willing to continue to face your personal limitations and dysfunctions, while seeking to eventually transcend them.
All my life I have tried to be accepting and allowing of others, and though this is not a bad quality, I somehow forgot to extend that acceptance and allowing to myself. In wanting to avoid conflict and be the ‘nice girl’ I was brought up to be and that I was given approval for being, I was losing myself.
So I took a stand.
I confronted the people in my life whose behaviour I felt was not respectful or considerate of me. It was very difficult for me and left me feeling very conflicted, but it was too painful not to, so I spoke my truth to them. I spoke to them of how their actions had made me feel. Some responded in ways that I appreciated, others cut off from me.
I have to admit that some of that was because I was trying to get them to see my point, where now I see that when you speak your truth, the other person does not have to accept or even agree with you, that you can both have a different point of view, and then choose to continue on in relationship or not.
But I had to become my own guide, I had to do what felt right for me, even though it went against all I had learnt to become, to survive thus far in life, in my family and cultural environment.
Once I did though, a huge weight lifted off me, even though I had to deal with the fear of rejection I felt when I did speak up for myself and what I felt I deserved. Essentially speaking my truth freed me.
The most common form of despair is not being who you are ~ Kirkegaard
It wasn’t about making someone else feel bad, guilty or wrong for taking the actions they did, but to honour myself and my sense of what was right, so as not to lose my sense of self and sanity. Because insanity is when you try to accept what goes against your innate fundamental sense of truth and what is right.
What I eventually came to see, is that we all have the capacity to be Buddha, to be our own guides and masters, if we can only trust ourselves, and our truth.
As I meander along my chosen path in life, sometimes tripping over my very own very human unresolved dysfunction, each action I take that honours my truth, gives me a greater faith in my own inner sense of what feels right for me at each point in life, or not.
Sometimes my own limitations, limiting beliefs and fears hold me up, so I have to pause and look at what I can do to make the change I wish to see in my life. To take responsibility and ownership over what I see before myself in my life, then take action to move toward the eventual place I wish to be, which is always one of goodness and peace.
And as I continue to have faith, even when I am filled with the darkness of uncertainty, confusion or doubt, I know that I am learning to believe and trust in my own innate sense of knowing and wisdom, my own inner guru. I know that the more choices I make, to follow my own sense of what is right or wrong, even and maybe especially when it is hard, the closer I will be to the places of goodness and peace that I am slowly but surely making my way toward.
When my father’s friend’s jewellery business was failing, my father offered to take a substantial amount of his inventory and sell it off for him. Then my father gave it to my mother and asked her to sell it. Which she did, every last piece. Mostly to her friends, who are mostly still her friends, so I’m guessing that they didn’t mind too much.
My parents were always doing things like that. Helping others. My father once bought a mattress for a friend after he went to her house and saw that she didn’t have enough money to purchase a proper one for herself. They exhibited kindness and generosity often. They also received much kindness and attained success in their lives, financially and otherwise.
Well my father worked very hard for his financial success as well, putting in practically 12 hour work days during the week, often working weekends and attending business events in the evening well after working hours. He gradually but surely climbed his way up the corporate ladder from his starting position as a simple audit clerk to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a multi-billion dollar MNC.
My parents were not Buddhist, and yet they understood and practiced the planting of good karmic seeds. Karmic seeds, as I understand it, is the energy you create in your life with the actions and intentions you have. For example, if you want to make money, you can plant a karmic seed to help this along by giving money to others and sharing generously yourself. If you want to be respected or loved, then you need to show respect and love to others. This may not ensure that you are respected or loved by the people that you respect and love exactly, or that the people you give money to will be the ones who give it back to you, but certainly it will show up in your life. I promise.
I’ve seen it myself, time and time again. It works in the negative too, when you are unkind or treat others cruelly, the energy that you create with your acts, always comes back to you. It’s a very simple matter of cause and effect. Everything that you put out in your life, comes back to you. Everything. The Universe is very precise like that, mathematically so. Even though we may not understand it from our point of view, at some level, there is a balance and symmetry that ensures all you create comes back to you.
This is not to say exactly, that you should feel you are to blame for traumatic events that happen to you or the pain that you feel in your life and difficulties you face. Sometimes there is fate or your beliefs about what you deserve or not that show up to help you understand what is inside of you and give you the opportunity to change the way you feel about life and what you deserve.
‘I think I deserve something beautiful.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
It’s your choice at this point, after walking through your painful experiences, to then choose differently the next time. Maybe you need to change your underlying beliefs about life and decide that you deserve more and better. To choose to only accept what fits with who you believe yourself to be, and I hope that is someone who deserves beautiful things.
But understanding the power of karmic seeds and how to create positive things in your life by acting in a positive way, has been a very empowering part of my journey of transforming my life to one of peace and purpose.
I especially came to appreciate the power of karmic seeds when I came across the teachings of Geshe Michael Roach, who used the philosophy of karmic seeds to develop a diamond business from a 50,000 initial investment to a 200 million dollar company. He wrote about it in extensive detail in his book, ‘The Diamond Cutter’.
At the time, I was struggling to build my business and afraid to give too much to charity or others for fear of not having enough for myself. After learning that he had not only had enough, after giving to charity and others, but that it had ensured he receive even more, I finally let go and allowed myself to give freely of my time, money and energy to causes that mean something to me.
Do your thoughts reflect the intentions and results that you seek in your life?
Do your actions follow up and support these thoughts or are they in opposition to what you want to create for your life?
Do your words align with who you truly are and seek to be or do you waste energy in half-truths and irreverent dialogue?
Planting karmic seeds helps you get what you want in life. So plant the right karmic seeds, and watch them grow. Sometimes it takes time to grow and other times, they may not quite grow in the way that you intend them to, but always you can trust that if you are sincere and unwavering in your intention to create something in your life, and you go about planting the right karmic seeds to help this along, you are much more likely to see it become a reality.
What karmic seeds are you planting in your life and how can you plant the right seeds that will grow into the ideal future you seek so that you can get what you want in life?
A soulmate is one with whom you feel a strong or instant attraction that usually develops into a relationship. Someone you feel familiar with because you recognise him or her at a soul level. You like them instantly and your familiarity with them goes beyond the time that you have known each other; you may share a similar sense of humour and find yourselves laughing at the same things, have shared values on the important matters in life; you may communicate easily and find that time passes very fast when you are together.
I believe we have many soulmates, and it isn’t just our romantic partners, whom we feel we have soul connections with. We can have relatives and friends who are our soulmates; These bonds we have with our soulmates are further deepened by the decisions we make to enter into emotional intimacy with them.
I have a few soulmates in my life, we are close. Even though we may not see each other for many months, sometimes years. When we meet, it’s like we pick up where we have left off, with the same familiarity and level of comfort with each other.
A soulmate relationship is not necessarily an easy one, but it can bring much depth and learning to your life. It can challenge your way of doing things so that you learn how to let go and be more; and learn to be unconditional and understanding of differences in another, rather than judge them or cut them out of your life for your perception of how they have failed you or your relationship; when we find a way to accept someone for their own humanity and choose to be with that person in a relationship, for however long we can, our souls grow and we mate on a deeper, soul level.
When I met Paul, I found my attraction for him absolutely consuming. So I stayed a little while with him. I had a sense at some deeper level that he was in my life to teach me something important, and this felt like truth.
As it turned out, I was right. Paul turned my life upside down.
But upside down was somehow closer to right way up than I had been before I met him.
Paul is one of my soulmates.
I could not keep away from him, even when ego kicked up many a fuss, and wanted to walk away many times. We argued often, and I watched myself feel indignant at how he challenged so much of what I thought was the ‘right’ way for him to treat me or for me to feel about him. I had my life perfectly in control before I met him.
Or did I?
I had my life reigned in tightly and still crafted to some extent, in accordance with what I felt my family, culture and society would approve of. Even though I was living what seemed to be a life that I had chosen, one that challenged norms.
Being the highly sensitive approval seeking person that I am, it actually pains me to challenge norms. It’s not that I choose to challenge them, it’s that I have to.
My life choices and truth burst out from within my dysfunction and pain from a very early age, because I could contain them no longer without losing some part of my soul and sanity.
To become who I truly am, I had to challenge all that was taught to me by my family, culture and life thus far. Some things I kept, much I let go of and replaced with my own views on what feels right for me, at each point in time.
I had to make some very difficult stands, very early on in life. There were times when I was the only one that approved of what I wanted to do. Nobody else thought I was making the right decision. But that is part of the path I feel, the test is will you still do what feels right for you, even when nobody else agrees. Will you take a stand and follow your heart, when all around you people and society are telling you you should be doing something different. Can you follow the subtle nudges from within your soul?
I consciously decided to go in search of my self when I was 20 and went to live with 2 yogis and learn to be a yoga teacher, meditating every day and studying metaphysical, philosophical and spiritual texts. While my friends were going to University, dating and mating, travelling Europe and the rest of the world as backpackers, I chose to travel within myself to discover inner transcendental worlds.
I have challenged and changed much since I was 20, and when I met Paul, he further challenged me to look at my life once more, to peel back a deeper layer, and see where I was not quite ‘on course’ and living in line with my soul. So I did.
I saw where I needed to let go more and be less controlling and controlled, where I could allow more for life to unfold in it’s own natural way. I saw where I was still trying to prove that I was good enough and how I could let go of that and embrace the fact that I already am everything that I need to be, at each point in time.
I saw how I needed to give myself more time and space to be with my friends and loved ones, to have a social and romantic life, and not fill my time up with work, voluntary work and staying home to rest otherwise, because I was so exhausted by my obligations.
To allow myself to reclaim my femininity, to be vulnerable and open to the intimate relationship that I am seeking. To let my guard down, and give a chance to the right man, that wants the committed relationship that I am also seeking.
So I made the time and space. I let go. I made changes to live a life where I acknowledged that I was good enough and tuning in to when I was living ‘on course’ with my destiny or not and making choices to keep ‘on course’.
I reconnected with the woman in me that I buried beneath the surface, because of past hurt and pain from previous relationships. I resurrected this part of me that still held hope for a healthy, extraordinary relationship.
All this brought me closer to my soul than I had felt in years.
Meeting Paul brought me closer to my soul.
As does each and every soulmate I cross paths with in my life.
The strong connection between soulmates is often what holds us together in order to learn the lessons we need to, to bring us closer to our soul. And though the relationship may not endure, the lessons hopefully do and both parties come out of the relationship bigger and better people.
Much of the work you do will also be personal, for example learning not to react out of fear or insecurity, to come from a place of love, not fear, looking at and healing your past pain and hurt and being mindful to be present to your relationship, at each moment, while still being present and engaged in your own life.
When you are romantically involved with a soulmate, there is a feeling of destiny that underlies your relationship and a sense of fate bringing you together, like a soulmate friendship, this does not guarantee a smooth ride and in fact can often mean the exact opposite, that you will be tested to the very core of your beliefs and personal sense of yourself. I believe that this is because this relationship is there to help your soul grow and this is not a comfortable thing, to go beyond your comfort zones.
If you meet your soulmate on your path, a connection that shakes you to the very bones of your very soul, my invitation to you is to look a little closer, hold still and see how by turning your life upside down, your soulmate may unconsciously be trying to help you turn it right way up.
In my experience, everything that happens in your relationships is there to teach you about yourself, sometimes it’s to teach you to stand up for yourself and not tolerate poor behaviour, to finally decide that you deserve to be treated well. Sometimes it’s there to show you how immature you still are, emotionally, or selfish, and how you need to grow up and start to live with more consideration for another. Other times it’s there to show you that you really deserve all that you yearn for, and more. If you can only accept what is being offered to you.
Your relationships, and what you cannot accept about them mirror back to you exactly what you feel and cannot accept about yourself. For example, if you have a relationship with someone that cannot accept your spiritual side, then you most likely, are not totally accepting of that part of yourself. You may argue this, and it may not be true for you, consciously, but subconsciously, it is very likely that this is the case. Realising this, it’s then a very simple process to fixing it, start to question and then accept that part of yourself, you haven’t. Byron Katie’s work is fabulous for this.
But always, meeting a soulmate, is about learning how to express more of your soul.
You do this by choosing to lead the relationship from the place of your soul, the place where love and choice cross paths. The place of truth. This place will set you free.
By making the space in our hearts and minds, to accept and hold this love and respect for another person’s perspective, no matter how different it is to ours, we grow, and our souls become more.
Sexual attraction and new love is so powerful and feels so visceral that it can make you think that having sex with a new partner will seal a meaningful connection and be the start of an enduring relationship.
And you may find yourself succumbing to such forces, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Many of us do. It’s part of who we are as humans, our sexuality derives from the very life force that we are made of. It is the most natural, primal expression of life and love.
This is especially true in the modern world, where many of us stay single for longer. We get lonely, we want companionship, to feel touch and the momentary dissolving of the boundaries that we try so hard to maintain in all other areas of our lives. We feel a need to let go, to fall into another’s arms, and be naked in who we are, in the hopes that someone will see us and love us and we will feel more whole, acknowledged and held.
However, sexual intimacy is best developed out of a foundation of emotional intimacy, where you get to know someone as a friend and in a spirit of romantic friendship.*
In romantic friendship, physical intimacy is built on a solid foundation of mutual trust, acceptance and emotional intimacy, rather than the heady mix of lust and pure physical attraction, which though strong and intense initially, often wears out just as quickly, if there is no bond beyond that.
The powerful brain chemistry involved with sex makes it very hard to sustain a bond without a pre-existing trusted relationship and connection. In fact, they can ensure the end of the possibility of one by making things awkward because you have become physically intimate before there is any emotional bond or trust.
Waiting allows a man to appreciate and fall in love with you as a person. Once you have sex with a man, the powerful hormone oxytocin that is released when you have sex with a man, will bond you to him, before you’ve had a chance to find out if he is a suitable partner.
His innate physiology will tell him that he has already fulfilled his opportunity to produce offspring and he needs to find a new partner, to expand on his opportunities for more offspring, unless he has already bonded to you emotionally.
Your mother was right. It really is that basic. You can read all about the science in Marnia Robinson’s book Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow. She argues a very convincing case for sexuality only working when it is in a committed relationship. She advocates that physical intimacy is for creating stronger emotional and spiritual links between you and your partner. She has a series of intimacy exercises she recommends, where the focus is on connecting and cuddling, rather than the physical act of sexual intercourse.
So, allow yourself to get to know someone before you have sex, make a sexual relationship part of an emotional, spiritual and mental connection, a way to deepen your bond with your partner and then you will find that it becomes a fulfilling part of your relationship. As the Zen Master Osho says:
‘You can be intense in sex and you may not be sincere, because sex is not necessarily love. You may be very, very intense in your sexuality — but once sexuality is fulfilled, it is finished, the intensity gone. Love may not look so intense, but it is sincere — and because it is sincere, the intensity continues. In fact, if you are really in love it becomes a timelessness. It is always intense. And make a clear distinction: if you are intense without sincerity, you cannot be forever intense. Only momentarily you can be intense; when the desire arises you are intense. It is not really your intensity. It is enforced by the desire.’
If your relationships are occasionally awkward, full of uncertainty and doubt, congratulations, you are normal.
If you find that you are not capable all the time of being reasonable and mature in your relationships, congratulations, you are human.
My previous relationships were tumultuous. They were fraught with emotional ups and downs, dramatic ultimatums and in one case, emotional and physical abuse. Not to the point where I had ever needed medical attention, but enough for it to have hurt and for me to feel that I could not accept it if it carried on.
I came to eventually see that my previous partners were mostly just immature rather than bad people. I saw where I had been immature and enabled the abuse. Some of you reading might be standing up in protest at what I have just said. Let me explain, I believe that any serious assault needs to involve the authorities immediately and the victim must be protected from the abuser. I am not excusing or condoning any kind of assault on women, or men, for that fact. That is one of the main reasons I left the abusive relationship I was in, but I have now learnt that there are ways in which I could have managed my particular situation better and not been a part of it’s escalation, if I had wanted to make it work.
There are ways to deal with emotional immaturity in relationships that reduces the risk of them breaking out into verbal or physical assaults. Where someone is unable to deal with their frustrations in a controlled way they may hit out verbally and physically at their partners. My ex partner was one of those people. I thought that if I loved him more or better, he would be nicer to me. I was even on a counseling course studying abusive relationships at the time. I had all the knowledge and tools and insight. And yet, I found myself in exactly the kind of situation I was training to help people cope with and recover from. The irony was not lost on me. It really is true what they say, that we teach what we most need to learn ourselves.
After I left my last relationship, I committed to building a life that made me feel proud of who I was, what I had achieved, and to grow my self-confidence and sense of self-worth.
I began to consider that what I needed to do was to walk away when I was not being treated with respect. To draw a boundary down where I did not accept abuse, in any shape or form. Not with antagonism, but with love, love for myself. I needed to learn that I could choose not to engage with people or situations that were not respectful.
I also needed to see that what my crazy dysfunctional abusive relationships mirrored for me was my lack of respect and appreciation for myself. And so I went on a journey to heal and understand myself and value my own worth. I learnt to respect and love myself unconditionally.
I began to uncover the shame inside me that made me feel like I did not deserve to be loved for all that I am and all that I am not. And that not only was that entirely possible, it was absolutely essential, if I wanted a healthy relationship. It had to start with me.
As my relationship with myself has matured, so have my relationships with others. There is still drama, but the drama becomes a catalyst to open up the lines of communication and an intention to have a constructive rather than destructive dialogue. My relationships have thus become less combative and more respectful.
Because I made the choice to be an adult in my relationships and respond instead of react.
If you choose to be an adult in your relationships, you will find that you are more likely to be successful in your relationships. Being an adult means being self-responsible and taking ownership of your feelings and behavior in your relationships. It really comes down to this choice to be mature and bigger than your insecurities and fears.
I can’t say that I’m successful every single time, my ego, insecurity and fears still make me want to react and protect myself by closing up or hitting out at times, but I am able to take a breath now before I do and that makes all the difference.
The time out I take before I react in an emotional way helps me calm down and be an adult. It doesn’t have to be a long time; it can be just a few minutes, hours or days. Sometimes even months, but it really doesn’t matter.
I feel less of a need to be ‘right’ or push my point in anger, at the expense of another, or if I do, it doesn’t last for long. I am more willing to yield and see other perspectives for the sake of harmony and understanding another individual and situation.
I have found that anger, when self-righteous can only be destructive and separatist. I’ve been both at the giving and receiving end of this and it just stops all dialogue and undermines the chances for reconciliation.
So now with my coaching clients I walk them through their own journeys to feeling worthy enough to deserve and then receive a harmonious relationship.
We all can have, and do deserve success and happiness in our relationships and I am committed to helping my clients in any way that I can to ensure they find that.
All my experience in relationships has helped me to truly understand and serve my clients as they walk through their own paths to finding success in their relationships. I am able to bring my clients from a place of dysfunction and chaos to a place where they can have functional relationships, because I have done so for myself. I am familiar with the exact places they find themselves in emotionally and how they can navigate their way through them.
Being successful in your relationships is a journey rather than a destination, but what can make the difference is your choice to take responsibility and be an adult.
The journey to success in relationships is also the journey to fully heal, love and honour who we are and the choice to become whole and mature, and then be in relationship with someone else who is also whole and mature.
After making the decision to leave my last serious relationship, I thought that it would be easier to meet someone new. It wasn’t. I met people I liked, or people that liked me, but no relationship ever came out of these situations, either because I or the other party had not been interested, or they were in another country, travelling, and unavailable in some way.
Then I learnt all about ‘love blocking’ Saturn cycles from Vedic Astrologer and Relationship coach Carol Allen.* She explained that there are 7 and a half yearlong Saturn cycles when you will find it difficult to meet a partner.
Carol Allen says:
‘In astrology, there’s one planet largely responsible for most of life’s problems, especially romantic ones: Saturn. When he’s “taking center stage” in your horoscope, you’ll feel like love is just a fairy tale that you’re never meant to have. You’ll feel bitter, heartbroken, and hopeless.
This feeling of desperation for answers is the “breakdown” that precedes the “breakthrough.” That’s right -these difficult phases are commonly followed by easier, wonderful times. And suddenly, all the pain and misery of what you’ve gone through makes sense and gives you the strength and the clarity to make the most of things for years to come…
That’s how Saturn cycles work – they make your life (and love life) feel more out of control and hopeless, so that you’re willing to make the positive changes that will lead you to what you really and truly long for, deep down.’
If you do meet someone during this ‘love blocking’ Saturn cycle, this relationship will be fraught with challenges, difficulties and insecurity. You can go to her site to get a chart done, and she will tell you if you are in one of these cycles. I ordered a chart and found out that sure enough, I had been in this ‘love blocking’ cycle since the year I had broken up with my last partner.
I found out about this while I was in the last year and a half of this ‘love blocking’ cycle. Knowing about this astrological influence for the last year and a half, I was able to not expect too much out of any romantic interaction that I had and I could just enjoy getting to know someone and the process of dating. I stopped judging myself for the relationships that had not worked out, throughout the previous 6 years of my Saturn cycle. Although previously I thought that there was something wrong with me, that I just didn’t know how to ‘do’ relationships, but now I knew that it was not just me.
Over the 7 and half years of my Saturn Cycle of learning, devouring countless books, teleseminars, mp3’s on relationships and my own personal experiences, I learned an enormous amount about relationships. Knowing your Saturn cycle will tell you when you will go through a lot of growing and will be reflecting on what you truly want in a partner and relationship. It’s when you realize and are forced to change what you need to change in yourself or let go of to be a better partner.
I learnt how to be more mature in my communications during these 7 and half years. I became more secure and learned to appreciate the differences between men and women so that I could communicate better with men. I built my career and started to be more manageable around money, which all contributed to me feeling more confident and self-assured.
I was then able to share my experiences with my clients in coaching them through their relationship issues and struggles to feel in control in their lives. I have found Carol Allen’s insights into timing in particular so insightful and helpful for myself and with my clients, as I help them to navigate through the terrain of their periods of not being able to find the lasting relationships they seek.
I help them to see that if they are in a particular period of their Saturn cycle, where they will not find it easy to develop a lasting relationship and that these periods are more for dating rather than mating and not to hold out too much hope for a long term commitment until after the cycle has passed.
Helping my clients navigate their way through their current relationships as well as to finding happy and healthy relationships has got to be one of my most favourite things. I love seeing my clients happy and fulfilled in new relationships and enjoy seeing their glowing faces and the extra bounce in their step.
Learning about Saturn cycles has helped me to accept at a deep level, that there is a timing to all things and sometimes it’s just not your time to be in a serious committed relationship, but sometimes it’s exactly the right time. There are periods in your Saturn cycles that are very auspicious for finding a good relationship. You can find these out by ordering a Saturn Cycle report.
During times when you are not in a good period to find a long lasting relationship, it doesn’t mean that you have to avoid or shun every opportunity to date or meet someone, even if it may not last. Every connection and interaction has the potential for growth and learning. It helps you prepare for the real deal and improves your relationship skills.
I have learnt that what you think you want or should have isn’t always what you need. Sometimes a relationship offers you what you never even knew that you wanted, but it is exactly what you need. Actually, I find this to be true, almost every time.
If it is difficult for you to find a relationship even though you feel you are doing everything that you can to put yourself out there and meet other singles;
If you find yourself meeting partners that are unavailable, or otherwise not willing to make a commitment to you;
If you feel like a failure where relationships are concerned;
You can order a Saturn Cycle report to find out if you are in a period of time where you are not meant to find love…. yet. This report will also tell you when it is your time.
As for me, I’m no longer in this period of learning and growing according to my report, but in a way, I’m always learning and growing, that is life isn’t it? The only things that don’t grow in nature, are dead.
The relationship and connection I seek, I can best encapsulate using the Japanese words Koi No Yokan which means ‘the sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.’ This phrase is not about the heady, intoxicated ‘love at first sight’ feeling that takes your breath away, but often doesn’t last; but instead, refers to a subtler sense that there is a heartfelt, familiar feeling when you meet someone that you know has a chance of growing into a deeper, meaningful and enduring relationship. The exact form it takes may not be clear initially, you may see it as a friendship, but in time, this may develop naturally into something more.
I’ve always felt that the luckiest people fall in love with their best friends. Because when all the passion and initial attraction dies down, and it will, in all relationships, if not with time, then as you age and are not as focused on your sexuality to bond the relationship, what you are left with is friendship. You have to see if you are with someone that you actually like as a person, whose company you enjoy.
So I intend to choose a partner that I know I can be with, when all the chips are down, and money, health or looks are all gone, because in this ever changing world, this could be what you will be faced with. Don’t marry someone for anything other than the love you feel for who they are as a whole being, good and bad, faults and all.
As for me, being 38 and single, there are times when I worry that if I wait too long, I will ‘miss the boat’. Some people tell me that I am ‘too choosy’ or ‘high maintenance’, and though I do have my own emotional baggage and issues, I have a sense that it has also just not been my time.
I honestly don’t know when it will be my time to be in another serious committed relationship. I’m really much more interested in getting to know someone, in the spirit of romantic friendship before committing to any serious relationship.
According to the authors of Soul Dating to Soul Mating, Basha Kaplan, Psy.D and Gail Prince, M.Ed., a romantic friendship is a relationship where ‘two people know, value and accept everything (warts and all) about each other. They may not like everything about each other, but they accept it anyway.’ They suggest dating in this spirit, where in dating a few individuals, you build up to a possibility of exclusively dating one person, after having gotten to know their character.
I am a lot more conscious about my dating process these days, in the sense that, when I meet someone new, I consider the qualities they have, and if these qualities match what I am looking for in a partner- qualities like loyalty, honesty or a sense of wanting to give back to the world, or does my partner show up for me and treat me with respect and regard. I contemplate how I might get along, day-to-day, in a committed relationship with any prospective partner in my life.
And though I am not in a committed relationship right now, I have faith that this may change at any moment, and probably a most unexpected one.
And in the quiet moments, when I am believing in life, and all it’s infinite possibilities, I am also believing that the man I’ve been dreaming of all my life, just might be dreaming of me too.
I’ve always been a bit of a romantic. Even when I was a child, and I used to pronounce my Ken doll to be the ‘awfully wedded husband’ of Barbie in the many wedding ceremonies I presided over between them. I guess I misheard what the priest said at the weddings I had been to. Either that or I really didn’t think much of Ken, but somehow I still thought him worth marrying off to Barbie. On multiple occasions.
Many people feel that they are looking for their ‘other halves’ and that they will only be complete when they find them. Plato tells of a time where we were whole beings that were split into two by the God Zeus, destined to roam the earth in search of our other halves. He says that…
’we used to be complete wholes in our original nature, and now ‘love’ is the name for our pursuit of wholeness, for our desire to be complete.’
I believe that we are not meant to live in isolation, well the vast majority of us, not including times when you are seeking solitude for reasons of self-reflection, to grieve, and other personal or spiritual reasons. Otherwise, I think we are meant to live in community with one another and therefore, also in partnership. That is part of a complete life.
I believe that the completion that can come from a partnership is the wholeness that relationships invite you into. But I don’t think it will be in the sense that all our problems will go away and we will find life easier or smoother, I think we will be challenged to give up on our ego’s fears and insecurities and be invited to live with consideration for another person. Another person with idiosyncrasies and different ways of dealing with and living life. In that way, we become less self-centred, wider in our world views, less sharp around the edges and more accepting, compassionate individuals. Thus we further complete ourselves.
More and more I find that the completion we seek in relationships is created by the very acts we choose and our decisions to deepen into intimacy with another through showing our vulnerabilities and being open about our feelings and who we are, in all our beautiful contradictions, inadequacies and personal dysfunctions; then finding a way to accept ourselves and someone else, in all our humanity. In that way we move toward our full human potential and completion.
Dr Jean Houston, the American scholar, lecturer, author and one of the principle founders of the Human Potential Movement suggests that our yearning for love is essentially a yearning for the Beloved.
The Beloved is her name for the Archetypal energy that is the essence of love and the very nature of who we are. The part of us that is magnanimous, open, trusting, positive and vibrant; the source of our creativity, ‘human folly and glory’. Some call that nature God.
Have you ever noticed how everything seems more possible when you are ‘in love’? How you see only the good in others, yourself, and are able to be more accepting and joyful. It is a taste of what it is like to live in and as love
Dr. Houston talks about the intoxication of new love being a result of our desire to connect with the Beloved. She says that the Beloved aches for you as much if not more than you ache for it. So in a sense, it is inevitable that we are drawn to love and feel that we are incomplete without it. It is the Beloved calling us back home. So maybe we don’t need to yearn so much to be in love by finding your other half but to be love and recognize this is the other half of you.
I’m appreciative of the intricacies of love and relationships, which I wasn’t when I was um, younger… when I would get lost in the chemical intoxication of being ‘in love’ and my fantasies of how love would fix all my insecurities and somehow make me fulfilled and satisfied in my life.
I still am a romantic at heart, but I’m more grounded and mindful of the fact that falling in love won’t suddenly make my life better or perfect and that the completion and satisfaction that can come from a relationship is ultimately the result of the work you do in it. It is the sense of completion that comes from making the choice to be in relationship and commune with your partner by opening up to intimacy, love and acceptance of them, and yourself, and how that often goes beyond what you think is possible for you. But you make the choice to, and so you do.
And instead, when you are able to be love, with all its vulnerability and spaciousness, and then intend to be open to communicate honestly and authentically, you will join with the Beloved, you will realize that what you have been searching for was right inside you all along, in a place called home.
When I was 22 I was offered the opportunity to audition at 3 dance schools for their degree programmes in Dance. The auditions were a disaster, and I didn’t get into any of them. At the time I was really disappointed, but I can see now that what I thought I wanted, was not what would have made me happy. Because I didn’t get into dance school, I went to live with 2 yogis for a year and learnt about the philosophy of yoga and other esoteric erudition, and had the opportunity to practice daily morning meditation which has now become the mainstay of my spiritual life. This also heralded the start of my discovery of my calling and path as a healer and coach. I thought that I wanted to be a dancer, but it wasn’t what I really truly wanted, as it turned out.
What you think you want is not always what you truly deeply want.
While living with the yogis, I also read philosophy and self help books voraciously and came across the work of New York Time’s bestselling author and columnist for O, the Oprah Magazine, Martha Beck. USA Today and Psychology Today have referred to her as “the best known life coach in America”. In her book ‘Finding Your North Star’, Martha Beck says that in order to find out what you truly deeply want, you have to have WIGS- not the kind you put on your head, but the kind that come from your heart- Wildly Improbable Goals.
Martha Beck says that if you think about what you love to do and then the greatest expression of that, you can come up with meaningful goals for your life. For example, if you love to sing, your WIG could be to win Singapore Idol.
Figuring out what you truly want is tricky business. It involves digging deep and being honest about what you yearn for. Martha Beck also says that yearning for something, a relationship or fulfilling career, is a guarantee that we are going to get it. And that we should see all yearning as a promise of what is to come.
You will find out what you truly deeply want in the quiet, still moments of your life. It will not come from your mind or ego, it will come from your heart. When you create meaningful goals, from your heart, you will find that you will be motivated to work toward them and things are more likely to work out.
When I wrote down my WIGS, a decade ago- and it works best when you have a few written down at a time- one of them was to meet a well-known spiritual author. Another was to attend a shamanic workshop this same author had recommended, in Brazil. At the time this author had stopped teaching, and even when he was teaching, his workshops were priced at thousands of dollars, which I couldn’t afford. The shamanic workshop also cost several thousand dollars, and this was not including the return plane fare to Brazil from Singapore. But I thought, that maybe in 10 years, I might save enough to go to one workshop. I didn’t think it was likely I would meet the author though, since he had said he was not running workshops again. But I wrote these WIGS down anyway, because these were things that I truly deeply wanted.
Less than 2 years after I wrote down my WIGs, I was on a plane headed to South America for the very first time, about to start what turned out to be, one of the most transcendental weeks of my life. I finally got to meet the spiritual author I so yearned to meet, and learned an enormous amount from him. This week was undoubtedly a major turning point in my life. I travelled back to South America 2 months later and over the following 5 years, attended another 13 workshops. Most of them paid for by the organizers, who eventually hired me as staff.
Over the course of my travels to South America and in the last few years, I gained the confidence to start my own business. Where I had held mainly entry level jobs previously, I became and still am today, 5 years later, my own boss, learning about running your own business while I do what I love to do and get to share my journey with others on a day to day basis. That was another of my WIGS- to be self-employed. About 2 years ago I was certified by Martha Beck as a life coach. Things started to work out as I figured out what I truly deeply want. What I truly deeply wanted, what I yearned for, I discovered by looking into my heart.
Your heart will tell you what you truly deeply want.
It nudges you in subtle ways and whispers from within you in quiet moments.
It will never lead you in the direction of conflict and pain. Conflict and pain come about when how you are living your life goes against what you truly deeply want. Then you may experience difficulties or your life may even fall apart, because that is your unconscious way of dismantling the dysfunction and giving you the chance to start again and do things differently, in line with what you truly deeply want.
During periods where things feel like they are falling apart, you have to allow them to break down and fail, to end. Your ego probably won’t like it, because of the uncertain and undefinable nature of such times, but it’s a necessary part of things coming back together again, like how the leaves on trees must fall off the trees and decompose into the ground in order to become the earth that nourishes the roots of the trees, new leaves and flowers that bud and blossom.
What helped me on my journey of working things out in my life, was to aim for goals that had meaning for me and let go of what wasn’t working, in order to make room for what could. This served me each and every time and continues to do so. When things don’t work out in your life, it’s sometimes because what you thought you wanted, was not what you truly deeply madly wanted.
*Read about my experience at the shamanic workshop in Brazil in this Article