Change Your Relationship: Enough of that ‘Same Old’ Dance!

Does is ever seem that you and your spouse can never seem to get on the same page? You are focused on what is really important, and for some strange reason, they just don’t get it! They either don’t agree on what is important, or their approach to resolving the issue is way out of line with how you would handle it. You don’t want to get into that same old dance again: either losing your cool and letting them have it, or getting all huffy and giving them the silent treatment.  Either way, it’s NOT going to get the issue resolved. And more importantly, it’s just going to drive that wedge between you two even deeper. Improving your relationship might not be as hard as you think.  Let’s take a look at one couple’s story.

A Case Study on Relationships: Learning a New Dance

When John and Rhonda started working with OnCOREventures, they were frustrated and fearful that their marriage was over. They just couldn’t seem to see how they would ever be able to come to a peaceful resolution.

They Don’t See It My Way!

John just wanted to take the actions that were necessary to accomplish all the things they planned on. He wanted to finally make those improvements around the house and take that family trip they had been talking about. But Rhonda could never come to a decision. She was always coming up with a better solution for the design of the kitchen, the type of stove they should get, and where the perfect destination for their trip would be.  This made no sense to John.  How were they ever going to get anything done if Rhonda was constantly changing the plans! And of course, as you can imagine, Rhonda couldn’t understand why John was so anxious to just ‘get it done’ when they hadn’t talked about it enough and come to a conclusion together.  As you can imagine, little stresses from their difference of opinions led to bigger and bigger disagreements, until they just weren’t really sure why they seemed to be drifting apart and why they ALWAYS disagreed about simple things.

Coming to an Understanding

When John finally reached out for help, he came to understand that Rhonda’s approach had nothing to do with her trust in him and his abilities. He learned that how she looked at the world and approached decisions was just very different from the way that he did. No surprise to us! We all are unique and have our own perspectives. But when we are talking about that one person who we think we know so well, we assume that they see things the exact same way that we do…or at least they should! 

When you realize that your partner doesn’t see things exactly as you do, that they have their own way of processing the world and their own ‘reflex’ response to stress, you are able to set the foundation for better communication.  By bringing Rhonda into our conversations with John, and helping each of them to really understand themselves and each other, we saw their relationship take on a deeper meaning and a renewed life.

Strengthening Relationships through Self-Knowledge and Understanding

When we work with our clients at OnCOREventures, we get to the heart of what is really meaningful to them, their values, their priorities, and their vision. We explore what drives them, what inspires them, what they can do to create a life of purpose and fulfillment.

Having a clear understanding of your core values, what drives you and how you naturally process the world and interact with others will not only will help you create a strong bond with your partner, but will help you to improve all relationships in your life.  We use a tool called the Core Values assessment that helps individuals get clear about the way that they naturally express and contribute, no matter what situation they are in. People who take the assessment are amazed how accurately it gets to the core of what matters most to them, and when they learn how to apply this wisdom in their lives, they experience a transformation.  As with this case, not one life was transformed, but two!

To learn 7 Amazing Ways you can transform your relationship with the Core Values Assessment, sign up here.

Photo Credit – Shutterstock

Gratitude Opens Our Hearts and Our Minds

When we recognize and express gratitude for all that that we have in our lives, we impact our lives in ways that we might not at first recognize. Our experiences are altered by our expectations, which are driven by our thought processes and our level of gratitude.

The Law of Attraction as Related to Gratitude

The law of attraction is based on the idea that we receive the things that we focus on. When we focus on the negative, or on our fears, we act according to those thoughts. When we change our thoughts by focusing on gratitude, we create an environment for reciprocal positivity. The law of attraction allows the same high level of energy associated with gratitude to bring positive opportunities and situations back to you. Here’s a story that you may be familiar with.

An individual is travelling from one village to the next when he comes upon a farmer working in his field. He asks the farmer what the people in the next village are like. The farmer asks “What were the people like in the last village?” The man replies, “They were rude, unfriendly, dishonest people.” The farmer tells the man “You’ll find the people in the next village are the same.”

A second man was travelling between the same two villages and came upon the same farmer. He too stopped to ask what the people in the next village would be like. Again the farmer asked, “What were the people like in the last village?” The second man replied, “They were kind, friendly, generous, great people!” Again the farmer said, “You’ll find the people in the next village are the same.”

The moral of the story is that we’ll experience what we expect. If we live our lives in a way that attracts unfriendliness and negativity, that’s what we’ll find. If however, we live our lives in a way that attracts friendliness and generosity, then that’s what we’ll overwhelmingly find. If we tend to be grateful, we will find much to be grateful for.

So how do you apply this concept to the ‘real’ world? By focusing on what we want out of a situation, rather than reacting to fears of what might happen, we create a positive relationship. Our confidence is boosted, we feel in control, and things come our way with less effort. By staying committed to your goals, you experience the positive benefits of the power of intention and are less likely to be derailed from achieving your goals. In turn, you have more and more to be grateful for.

You create your own universe as you go along.
– Winston Churchill

Gratitude - opening your heart

Opening our Hearts through Gratitude

Oftentimes when people talk about their gratitude, it brings them to tears. Why does this happen? It happens because expressing gratitude opens our hearts. As we shift our focus, our thoughts, from what we want in the future to what we have now, in the present, we experience an internal shift. We move from a place of lack and struggle to one of abundance and peace. We push out the struggles and challenges that we might be experiencing and make room in our hearts to experience the good things that are waiting to come into our life.

Have you ever watched Undercover Boss? The owner or CEO will go undercover under the guise of someone trying to get a second chance at life and will work a day in various functions within their own company. The results are astounding. The owner is often overwhelmed with gratitude for workers who give it their all for the better of the company. As a thank you, the owner or CEO typically thanks the selected workers with gifts and/or opportunities to further better themselves. The circle of gratitude is obvious as both the giver and recipient are in tears… tears of gratitude. But if you think about it, who is the giver and who is the recipient? Both benefit from the other’s gratitude. Both grow from the experience. Both are more compassionate for the other’s position. Both benefit from opening their hearts to the other.

Practice Gratitude

We can practice gratitude anytime, anyplace, as a regular part of our day-to-day lives. But sometimes, setting aside some quiet time helps us to regroup and to refocus on what we have to be grateful for. When expressing gratitude, use the guidelines below to create a practice that works best for you:

For this exercise, you will want to find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted and where you will not have distractions. This might be your bedroom or study if you share a house with others; otherwise, your kitchen table or sofa will do. If you enjoy nature, you may enjoy a quiet place on a trail. You can complete this exercise mentally, but oftentimes you may find it more beneficial if you write in a journal. So let’s get started.

Gratitude - visualize the gifts

Visualize and Describe the Gifts That You Have Received

This is the first step. What is it that you are grateful for? What are the gifts that you currently have and that you have received over the course of your life? Consider not only the things that you have, but also the people, the love and care, the relationships, the experiences, and the opportunities for growth. List the gifts you are grateful for until you’ve exhausted all ideas. Take as much time and space as you need. It often helps to write about your gratitude in a journal, forming the words and sentences that describe what you experience and how you feel.

Pour your Love and Gratitude

Now that you have listed the gifts that you are grateful for, feel the gratitude in your heart. Your heart is the center in your body and is associated with love. By bringing your attention to your heart, feeling the love and gratitude, you’ll feel the warmth expanding within your chest. Now visualize this love and gratitude pouring out of your heart to the people and circumstances that provide the gifts in your life. Visualize a stream of pink liquid flowing from your heart to the heart of the recipients. Note how this makes you feel, to give the gift of gratitude back to those who have given to you.

Receive the Blessings

Gratitude - receive the blessings

Now that you have poured your love and gratitude to those who have given to you, more love and gratitude is returned to you. Feel that stream of pink liquid flowing back into your heart, then permeating throughout your mind, feelings and body. How does it feel to receive the blessings back?

Practicing gratitude opens our hearts and minds. It also helps others to open their hearts and minds. It affords us great things through the law of attraction. You may even want to create a vision board (this can be a physical board or even a Pinterest board) with images of things you are grateful for and for which you hope to achieve. Viewing your board on a regular basis will help you to remember what you have to be grateful for. Can you imagine a world where everyone practices gratitude on a daily basis? The abundance we all would welcome? It’s a tall order, and it starts with you.

Image – ShutterStock

Pink cancer ribbon

Cancer

Cancer – a word you do not want to hear from your doctor

When my wife was diagnosed with cancer twenty months ago, we immediately began to research both conventional allopathic treatment and alternative options, along with how to prevent recurrence. For her breast cancer, it was clear that conventional treatment was the best path forward and so we followed it.

But we also realized that it was essential to change the stress factors in our lives if we wished to attain – and maintain – true health. And so we did this with intensity and great success – for a time. But, as often happens, life interfered. Family drama reared its inescapable head. While I put my business on the back burner for three months, I also returned to my original focus for the business. Cancer gets your attention; however treatments and test results that show an over ninety percent chance that the cancer will not recur, work to lull you back into the matrix.

Cancer and stress

Cancer makes other people treat you differently; which can increase stress (stress, incidentally, can lead to more Cancer!). Many people were supportive, many more were afraid for themselves and shunned us in fear of having to face their own inevitable mortality. A few people even processed the cancer as a weakness and allowed (subconsciously – I hope) their darker natures to take over, directing negative thoughts and energy toward us.

It is clear from my research, which, as a certified holistic health coach has been extensive, that cancer is dramatically affected by both food and mood. It was easy when cancer was the blaring voice inside of our home, to follow the advice from our mutual health coaching training. Be happy. Live in the now. Eat organic, seasonal, local food, a plant based diet, drink lots of water, exercise and get good sleep. Surround ourselves with happy supportive people. But as we heal – so also do we become over-confident, forgetful of the lessons Cancer so recently taught us. In that recognition of our human tendency to gloss over issues of the past is the realization that true health is an ever present, evolving force in our lives. One to be constantly considered, attended to, and managed. True health will not survive our typical autopilot mentality. We must instead actively cultivate it.

Cancer and the persuasion to care for yourself

Cancer gives you permission to be selfish. It forces you to live in the present and be radically mindful of even seemingly small choices. But cancer in the more distant rear view mirror, coupled with societal pressure to un-selfish, takes us back into the dysfunctional matrix in which western civilization has been spinning for so long.

In the second half of life, we are going to die. Cancer is a real possibility, as are heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s (to name but a few). All are increased by stress, an acidic diet and inflammation. Stress is caused by not living in harmony with our core values. Inflammation is mostly caused by the food we eat. To be truly well – we must address and manage both of these primary aspects of disease generation. There are other causes of disease; toxins, viruses, and bacteria, but our immune system is designed to fight them when we are not being stressed out; when we are truly well.

In our personal journey towards wellness, we have  found that living in harmony with our core values is a primary need for us both, as we are our family unit. We have also found that laughter, community, and good food that works for our bodies is of vital importance to our ability to sustain true health.

How about you? What is your path to true health? If you wonder what your core values are, and what you need to do to live in harmony with them, get started with a free assessment. Do it today, and in the words of a small boy in Star Trek, Insurrection. “Remember Data, you need to have a little bit of fun every day.”

The Turn

Six months ago today, I posted my last blog entry prior to this one and this one is different from most of my previous posts. This one is personal. I have not been in contact with you recently.

The reason for that is that my wife, Melinda, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last October.  As a result, we made major changes in our lives. The biggest two involve what we eat and how we live.  Part of that resulted in me putting my practice expansion on hold for most of the last six months.

How we live is probably the key to the rest of this blog entry, so lets start with that.  I had just finished a coaching training program and was in the process of signing up clients who were looking, as I was looking, at second half of life ventures that would fuel their needs well into their eighties. The thinking was that if you are doing the right thing, you can do it for a lot longer than just sixty-five.  With the prospect of life to one hundred this made perfect sense.

And then my wife, someone who was in “perfect health” was given news that caused us to question whether there would be a second half of life.  So we started to live in the moment.  Our moments.  Not our children’s moments, or our referral network’s moments, or our community’s moments but ours.  We watched and did things that made us laugh.  Melinda changed positions at work, we recommitted ourselves to exercise and we started a joint daily gratitude practice.

From a nutritional perspective, we started eating only whole foods. Organic if possible. We thought we were following Michael Pollan’s recommendation of “eating food, mostly plants and not a lot” before, but now we have become zealots.  I enrolled in a second coaching training program, this one from IIN – the Institute of Integrative Nutrition – so I could fully understand the effects of diet and lifestyle on how we look and feel.

I am sharing this with you now, because as a result of these actions, Melinda and I have changed the focus of our jointly held business – onCOREventures. While I still work with executives and professionals who want to design a life into their eighties or longer that is onCORE with who they are, I am now helping them be much more focused on their lives to make sure they are healthy so that they can enjoy their venture for as long as they want.  With obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer affecting more and more people as they enter the second half of life, this is the “ante” for the game in what I have often called Life 3.0.  As they say in games of chance you have to pay to play.

Recently, I received my accreditation as a professional coach from the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and now that I am substantially through the nutrition components of the IIN coursework, I have been certified to see clients in the health and wellness space as a health coach from IIN.  I was already qualified as a coach, but now have more tools with which to assist my clients.

So, in addition to workings with clients looking ultimately at their Life 3.0 ventures and adventures, I work with people in an awesome, six-month program to bring more energy, fewer cravings and a reduction in their waistline to their lives in a fun and sustainable way. We like to refer to this approach as post modern nutrition – we help clients ease great tasting, new food into their lives in order to crowd out old, junky food that was causing poor health.

I say we, because after a successful combination of radical homemaking and great allopathic care, Melinda is cancer free and she just completely finished IIN and is accredited by the AADP – American Association of Drugless Practitioners. While she is still working in a great career as a Business Analyst, Melinda is seeing a select client base to help them become healthy and balance the needs of career and family. We believe that someone walking the talk is a good fit for many people that have to juggle multiple priorities in life – and frankly – who doesn’t?

Well in Golf, the turn comes after the first nine holes.  Yesterday I completed the first half of the IIN program – and it is also the completion of the turning on the pivot point that I discussed in my entry six months ago and the beginning of our new integrated direction.

Father’s Day

I used to hate Father’s day.  As a feminist male, I bought into the “fact” that every Sunday was Father’s Day. Certainly my family of origin and my first wife’s family of origin celebrated this event every week.  I never really understood exactly what Father’s day was supposed to be about.

What was a Father’s day celebration anyway?  This way of thinking was akin to my thinking small mind, my “I am my story” mind or, more appropriately, my “I am my sad story mind.  This small mind, “woe is me” thinking was triggered by feelings of guilt common to all men since the industrial revolution took us out of partnership on the farm with our wives. This step made us absentee parents, toiling first in factories, then offices and shops, to support families we were never with because we were always working.

At the health club the other day, I heard a typical Father’s day type story. You know the kind, just an empty, meaningless small story with details like how many problems someone had while fixing a gutter.  First this went wrong, then that went wrong, and finally something else went wrong.  As I listened, I applied this concept to my own way of fathering; first I missed the soccer game because I had to work, then I got drunk, then I burned the hamburgers. In short, simply one problem after another.

So, I was very happy to read about what fathers are doing today. It is a whole new world these days for young men raising families. Fathers are becoming stay at home dads, they are home schooling, they are assuming the role of caregiver, and yet, they are still men (read more about it here.)  I believe it was our “boomer” generation that laid much of the groundwork for these activities that are now becoming more common.

Later that day, I spoke at length with both of my son’s, enjoying conversations which were meaningful and deep. My sons actually cared about what I was talking about, and when, because I was in a bad mood, I tried to go to my “small story”, they kept probing and asking me empowering questions. They helped me to get back in touch with my “big story”, all the while encouraging and believing in me.

My current “small story” is about how hard it is to launch a new business.  How much work it is, how much I hate marketing, how much time referral marketing takes.  The unknowns….. Yet both wanted to hear the bigger story.  They helped me move into thinking about how much fun I am having coaching my clients, how meaningful it is to me, how it helps others.  They forced me to shift my perspective by not accepting my desire to “play small.” Both listened and helped me understand why it is so hard for men to open up to other men about needing help to figure out what they want to do.  They both reminded me that men will share anything with one other trusted male, in a one on one setting, but they will not open up when there are witnesses.

After the shift, men are drawn to their families and many times become afraid their families are beginning to find them irrelevant. They might also think they have dishonored their families either by something they did or failed to do.  Having functional and loving relationships with all of my adult children and their life partners is one of the pleasures of my “big story”, because it is something that I now take very seriously, every day, not just on a few choice “Hallmark” holidays scattered throughout the year.

When I was the age my sons are now, I would have conversations with my father of a very different kind. They were entirely superficial.  The ability to now having meaningful, honest and open conversations with my sons on Father’s day (or any day), facilitated by our mutual knowledge, appreciation and interest for who each of us are and what we are doing in our lives, makes all the difference in the world.  We do not live in an enmeshed relationship; they do not call me every day, or even every week, but we talk often enough and honestly enough that we have a sense for who we, each of us, are as men.  Of course, I talk to my two daughters and they are both delightful, but fathers and daughters are a different dynamic than fathers and sons.  My father and I did not ever get along, and likewise, he did not get along with his father before him. This is a lonely and detrimental pattern that I have successfully broken.

So, I am grateful this year for the growth in our family that allows us to enjoy honest and open conversations between generations of men. That my sons live in the same town in Ohio and are close as adults, even though they spent very little time together as children because of their age difference,  is a joy to behold.

Even more of a joy is the fact that they are both actively searching for what it means to live an on-core life now. Many of us do not come to this path before we enter our fifties, and often in reaction to major life changes. I realized talking to them that being a parent to adult children is not about intruding in their lives, it is about continuing to live our own lives, and sometimes seeing ourselves through the mirror of their perspective. It’s about setting an example as we age and become “wiser”. We must live that wisdom and not burden them by trying to impose it unduly upon them.  As Gandhi said, we become the change we wish to see in the world.  We must now trust that our children are smart enough to figure out how to apply these lessons for themselves when they are ready.