Romantic Love Musings Inspired by Cheers

Contemplations on romantic love…with plenty of ellipses…

I have been watching the tv show “Cheers” for a stint. Haven’t seen this show since I was a teenager when it aired in real time. I want to give kudos to the writing and I see also how watching this show is like watching theater, especially in the scenes between Sam and Diane.

Sam and Diane play classic star-crossed lovers who are complete opposites. Sam is earthy, grounded, simple minded, pleasure seeking, and a conceited player with women. Diane lives in her head and is intellectual, romantic, deep, complicated, and moral.

Cupid shoots his arrow and they cannot help it. Sam and Diane are in love with one another. This is how falling in love goes, it is a mysterious experience that happens to us out of the realm of control.

Sam and Diane’s relationship, whether romantic or trying to just be friends, always winds up returning to romantic love but it’s always fraught with conflict…not so much due to being opposites but due to how they treat one another.

Who we fall in love with is out of our hands. You love who you love and you love them for as long as you love them.

Knowing real love from some form of attachment wound projection happens once you have formed a bond and made it past the initial stage of any form of relating. Once you get to know somebody the projections fall and you see one another for who you actually are…and this is when love really begins.

You see this happen with Sam and Diane quickly as television goes. They realize each other’s true nature and they drive each other nuts on a constant basis with their opposite ways of expressing love from these opposite natures. Yet they always come together sexually.

It may not always be the sexual bond that is the glue as with Sam and Diane. It might be the emotional, the spiritual, even the mental where romance expresses. Romantic love is a feeling radiating deep down beneath the constant shifting and changing of the emotions moving like weather through the body.

Love is a constant even if you are able to avoid or detach from it. You cannot escape love. Love can seize in one instant or can grow over time. Love chooses how it moves, not us.

When relationship conflict rises up between two people in love it is not due to a lack of love but usually due to the psyche’s state. Sam and Diane did not handle conflict well due to not treating each other well in their opposite natures but you also see why in their similarities…

Both Sam and Diane are competitive, stubborn, and hot headed and so they both tend toward arguing, holding their point and not seeing the other’s, and both want to be right.

This is a major cause of continual conflict for many. If you cannot come out of your perception to see the other’s as valid, you won’t turn conflict into intimacy or harmony.

If you cannot find some kindness and compassion for the other person’s way, you are doomed to fail. Diane always expects Sam to be romantic and moral and deep like herself. Diane lacks having kindness and compassion for Sam’s blind spots and for his nature too at times.

Sam always hopes for Diane to accept him as he is but he also desires to be a better person and in a way, needs her to push him to be a better version of himself. This is another aspect of relationship conflict. Sam relies on Diane to help him grow and as a result, pushes her away by being nonchalant when he feels too scared to level up.

It’s natural for lovers to need each other to grow, feel secure, feel validated…this interdependency only goes wrong if the other holds too much of what we need to hold for ourselves. Maybe Sam needed Diane to hold too much of his own integrity…

Diane may have integrity but she cannot see Sam with enough kindness and respect when he acts like a buffoon. She does not trust Sam. Sam feels belittled by her and maybe not good enough for Diane. He makes Diane hold all of his integrity and cannot see that perhaps he is not good enough for himself.

Diane makes Sam hold all of her security so she can avoid her own deep rooted insecurities. Her lack of trust is rooted in her lack of trust in herself.

This is what we do in romance. We make the other person the bad guy instead of looking within and facing our own struggles and insecurities. Becoming vulnerable to our inner stuff allows us to move through relationship conflict without destroying the entire container. It’s hard….

Sam and Diane both hold their own perspectives like flags raised high and mighty, refusing to be supple with each other’s needs or way of being because Sam needs self integrity and Diane needs self trust. It becomes quite complex when we refuse to look within to see how we mess up relationships…

If you cannot look within and do your self work then you cannot let go of the mighty expectations you have for your partner…and then you cannot sustain the partnership.

But…what’s the difference between an essential standard to uphold and an expectation to release?

An essential standard is a core value.

Does Diane need Sam to be deep and romantic in her core values or is it an expectation for Sam to be like herself so she feels validated because she cannot validate herself?

Does Sam need Diane to take love day by day without romantic gestures and grand commitments or is this an expectation he places on her because he is fearful of failing due to being out of integrity?

This is the big exploration if you want love to sustain in a partnership and there are many compromises to be made. Where can you meet in the middle? Where do you need to hold a standard? And what’s an expectation you can let go of?

The compromise is what you do when it’s an expectation you have some wiggle room to play with.

Core values are standards to be protected and upheld.

Sam and Diane both value marriage and monogamy (TV, especially back then tends to only show dominant cultural values…) There is no conflict in their standards about the kind of relationship they want. Sam only wants Diane to be more in the moment so he can have time to grow into his integrity and Diane only wants Sam to be more romantic and sweeping in his expression so she can feel trust and validation.

In real life maybe you want one version of a relationship and your partner wants another. This cannot be compromised. A poly with a mono cannot flow. Someone who wants kids wont flow with somebody who does not want kids. Core values and lifestyle are usually the non-negotiable aspects they may bring tragedy to star crossed lovers.

Love will express in harmony, tragedy and everything in between.

Expectations are usually more shallow and rooted in wanting your lover to be just like you so that you feel safe, secure and never have to face conflict, failure or not getting what you want. Wanting the other to enjoy doing the same things, like the same music, look a certain way, act a certain way, and express in a certain way…all fall into the category of expectations…

You want to enjoy some things together but you don’t need to enjoy everything. One person can love going to museums and another can hate it. One person can be extroverted and one introverted….so long as you enjoy time together in certain ways.

Sam and Diane have fun together even though he hates intellectual cultural activities and Diane hates sports. When Diane dates Fraiser she gets to be with the male version of herself and yet even having all her expectations met with Fraiser, Sam is the man she loves.

Doesn’t matter how similar or different lovers present. We love who we love.

Love wants to be a mystery and we never know what our karma will be around love…if we are meant to be with somebody very opposite or very similar…or be with somebody through very difficult circumstances….lose lover early on or have it last a lifetime and experience the grief of death…

Love is a mystery without a clue….this was the first line of the first poem I wrote when I was in the sixth grade and it sticks like a tattoo in my heart because it speaks deep truth to me. I don’t know my karma with romantic love before I live it.  I take love as it comes…

Sam and Diane never fully commit to one another in the show. It seems as if they will infinitely break apart and come back together. I am sure neither wishes for their love karma to be as such…

My inner child hope is that they eventually learn how to stay together. If Diane can lighten up on her expectations and if Sam can grow as a person and if they can both learn to let go of their pride and needing to be right when conflict arises….maybe?

I hope for love to work out between star crossed lovers because it is my temperament to be hopeful and idealistic in my heart (to a certain degree). We all have our ways. I am not right or wrong. Perhaps this resonates with you and perhaps not.

I am also a very pragmatic person and I honor self liberty at all times. I think conscious divorce, separation and breaking up is important and valuable. Very hard to do though because of our short comings…

If you fall out of love it is best to not stay out of morality and model for your children to sacrifice your core values (if being in love is a core value to begin with) to protect them from painful experiences. Painful experiences are not bad or wrong even if they are painful. Pain is meaningful lesson and growth tool. This is my opinion and there are many opinions to be valued…

If you are both still in love but cannot find harmony no matter how many times or how hard you try, maybe try to be with somebody else? Falling out of love makes it much easier to separate, as does not having a family to consider.

Sam and Diane have no kids and are archetypal representations of lovers in love coming from opposite sides of below and above…

I find is easy to see both sides and validate both Sam and Diane. I always see both sides with couples in real life too. I see how harmony can be found from a bird’s eye view. Yet to accomplish harmony we must learn how to take care of the brain.

Lovers trigger the most in one another due to mirroring when we were teeny ones with our care givers. It is what it is, we all work the same. Once triggered the animal brain takes the driver’s seat and fight/flight/freeze, projections, and intrusive thoughts dominate like massive storm in the psyche.

The logical higher thinking brain can no longer operate when these storms occur and this is when couples destroy the relationship, themselves, or each other with the actions taken and words spoken during the many storms that rise up in the relational field.

It’s only natural to grow through these storms but without skill you either repress it all and unhappily stay or sabotage and kill what could have grown (but that’s for another blog….)

Thank you Sam and Diane for inspiring this blog. May we all keep learning, growing, and loving the hell out of one another.

Reflection on Having a Mental Paradigm Shift

I have to force myself to blog this morning and I share this because it has to do with the topic at hand. Having a mental paradigm shift stems from being able to follow discipline when the feelings strongly wish to stray from the practice.

The practice is the actual root. Mediation is key. Yoga can be meditation. Chanting can be meditation. Meditation is watching the thoughts pass by while focusing inward and on breath or the mantra. With yoga, the focus is on linking breath and movement while you watch the thoughts.

The practice builds your inner witness (your soul) so you may watch thoughts but not identify with them.

Most people identity with their thoughts and feelings. You think you are your thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and you believe the stories you tell yourself about yourself, life, and others. Yet these stories are only stories.

Same goes with your feelings. You are not the sorrow, despair, joy, inspiration, frustration, anger, rage, loneliness, (on and on) that passes through you in waves.

When you identify too much with your thoughts and feelings you wind up suffering.

The more you find yourself in stillness, breath, and just being, the more peace, balance, and letting go results.

You don’t need stories to define you although you still create them because as humans we are wired to make meaning out of life. You don’t need your feelings to define you although you still acknowledge and express them so that they leave the body. Through the practice, thoughts and feelings are given their right place within the land of self.

This skill of experiencing self as being develops through consistent practice. It is not magic or miracle.

When you put in the dedication and time to meditate most days or every day, you build the skill of self as being. This is where your true source of power is discovered and cannot be taken away no matter what happens to you in the external world, from slight aversion to major trauma.

The true source of power found in being naturally radiates empowerment, contentment, balance, and peace within.

As you build this skill you detach more and more from your thoughts and feelings and this is the prerequisite to being able to make a mental paradigm shift.

What do I mean by making a mental paradigm shift? Let’s say you believe in following the heart no matter what and you keep winding up in toxic relationships, or you believe that feelings are not to be trusted and always find it hard to connect with others, or you strongly believe all men are bad or all women are crazy and you keep attracting the same unhealthy relationship to project your belief onto to prove yourself right (insert your mental paradigm here). I am using only relationship examples but this could be any area of life.

Your mental paradigm is a meta-program that filters all of your thoughts into its main stance. Strong mental paradigm stances that have no room for suppleness, change, growth, or flexibility are usually put in place to protect the ego from being wounded…again. They are purposeful and were put in place to help you but eventually they become a source of suffering.

We all have a protector within us. The protector is the aspect of self that tries to protect us from pain.

Your protector may be sarcastic, flippant, accusatory, wanting to build a case, avoidant, controlling, manipulative, narcissistic, masochist, shy, show-offy, on and on…basically the protector creates the defense mechanisms we unconsciously use to keep us safe and lurking in our familiar haunts that mirror the childhood family system in some way.

Although we long for more connection, secure attachment, and freedom to be the true self, familiarity is hard to break. Most of us find comfort in the familiar pain we know from youth and we tend to unconsciously wade in it rather than risk the vulnerability required to open up to more of what we truly desire on a soul level.

The protector makes sure the vulnerable child deeper inside does not get slam dunked into pain and disappointment again. This means we don’t risk vulnerability and instead we wade in the familiar comfort that is painful but manageable.

Some protectors think they are content but rely on addiction to feed them a false sense of joy. Some protectors are self loathing and rely on feeling bad about self to avoid taking risks. Some protectors rely on being right and good and never doing wrong. Some protectors are critical and judgmental and live on high horses. Protectors project a strong mental paradigm about self, other, and life itself.

The stories that the protector projects are wide in variety but you always know it’s the protector’s mental paradigm when the stance cannot be budged, is narrow in focus, comes out unconsciously (without thinking) or uses some technique of blame, hate, minimizing or negatively perceiving self or other in a black and white fashion.

These protectors are born very young and reflect a mentally immature mind. When we were young these defense mechanism stories were the best we could come up with and allowed us to survive or cope with being a self in the family system. Even privileged children who do not endure trauma may be raised with avoidant parents, surrounded by functional addiction, not receive the attunement or structure needed to develop a healthy ego capable of making healthy choices and traversing through painful experiences.

At a certain point in the healing process, it is time for the protector to stand down and allow vulnerability to express because the protector creates suffering on repeat.

The protector’s story usually makes a hard line between victim (self) and perpetrator (the other) or the reverse of this where self is bad and other is glorified. I am not speaking of actual crimes and violence when there really is a perpetrator and victim. I am speaking of the messy relational field where we come into each moment carrying the hurting inner child wrapped inside the protector who will go to any lengths to make sure the child is not hurt again.

To let the protector stand down and to be vulnerable becomes much easier when we build the inner witness and no longer need to identity with our thoughts and feelings as strongly. There is a detachment that develops. This detachment doesn’t take away from the passion of living, it does not stop thoughts or feelings…it simply creates space so we can breathe and access our true source of power within.

When we can access and feel our true power, self love, spirit, nature, emptiness, whatever you want to call it depending on your temperament and belief….we can let go of the mental paradigm that is causing us suffering, we can allow the protector to stand down, we can allow our vulnerable self to show.

The mental paradigms that create suffering are not who you are and they do not have to rule your life. Yet to release them you must become somewhat comfortable or at least willing to feel and share your vulnerable self without it causing you to crumble to pieces when another causes hurt. The process of becoming somewhat comfortable and willing is different for each person. Trauma may make it much more complex and attachment wounds can be just as difficult.

Temperament has a lot to do with the process too. Nature and nurture are always at play. Patience is needed. Love is needed to not judge the spiral of progress that may look like two steps forward and one step back on the regular.

Human beings are designed to endure pain and we are also designed to be vulnerable.

Most of us are not present. Our wounds and insecurities live with us from the past, alive and sizzling in the heart and mind. Many of us were not safe as children. Many of us could not be vulnerable as children without being dismissed, avoided, scolded, controlled, or abused. This is why we cling to the hard nosed stories that the protectors create to make sure that the little person inside does not risk danger again.

The healing work to integrate the inner child, have the protector stand down, and develop a strong inner witness is hard work but brings potent results.

Meditation is part of healing and so is therapy or some kind of process work. You can process with healers of all kinds to help you move energy and understand your inner landscape. The point  I want to make is that there needs to be some form of processing of the thoughts and feelings, past and present.

The key is to balance not identifying with the thoughts and feelings with processing the thoughts and feelings, so that we heal from a holistic perspective. Meditation, energy work, talk therapy, depth work, using crystals, herbs, dream work, shamanic healing….whatever you are called to do is what works best.

Having a mental paradigm shift may also happen by miracle. Miracles are real. I have experienced them myself and witnessed others suddenly change. In an instant their suicide ideation is gone, their cigarette addiction is gone, their mind suddenly grasps a new paradigm just like that, a story of betrayal vanishes, a feeling and story of attachment to another turns on or shuts off…and we shift in an instant. We cannot rely on miracles but they happen.

Best to put in the daily effort to keep the self supple, growing, healing, and expanding.

Hard work is a part of life. Paradoxically, putting effort forth each day to open the mind, integrate the psyche, heal the self, and grow as a soul will make life easier and more loving and make you more present. It is not the experience itself that does or does not create suffering, it is how we digest and interpret the experience. We are the meaning makers.

Reflections on the Importance of Core Values

This blog is about core values. Are you aware of your core values? Have you defined them in your mind, do you feel them in your heart? Or are you unaware of what you value authentically as true self?

Differentiating self from others is important business. How often we doubt ourselves when a core value clashes with a core value of a loved one….how often we sacrifice a core value for a loved one…..how often we do not develop firm and loving boundaries that allow us to say yes or no to others in order to protect true self….

Our core values make up an inner map that guides us into living a life that reflects our authentic self.

This map guides us to forming and sustaining the right romantic, friendship, business, and all forms of relationships.  (The West, heart) Without the map you could partner with a person where you have to compromise too much or completely sacrifice what you value. You may also find that over time you realize a core value is not being met and enter the healing process to see if a compromise and balance may be discovered. The matter may be complicated and take time.

This map guides guides us into choosing (if we have the privilege to choose and many do not) the right livelihood that gives us what we need and provides a sense of fulfillment. (The North, body) Without the map you may stay in a job that drains you or that you hate. Becoming aware of your values may also help you see that the job you have hated is actually providing you with core value nourishment in that it may pay well or is stable even if you don’t love what you are doing. The matter may be complex.

Our core values may not give us happiness all the time but they keep us balanced and allow for true self to have wiggle room to grow and express.

The map of core values guides us into understanding when we are in or out of integrity. (The East, mind) When you feel bad about yourself you might be judging yourself harshly based upon a habit of identifying with being bad due to attachment wounds or trauma from the past. Or you might feel bad about yourself because you are not living in your authentic sense of integrity, which is different for each person. When this is the case you need to course correct and return to your integrity to actually feel good about yourself again. Core values are an inner compass.

This inner compass builds a strong foundation in the psyche that helps us act from a sense of inner truth. (The South, will) When you continually act from whatever the impulse or reactivity of the moment is, you do not have your map in hand. You live at the whim of fate and the forces of nature. Learning how to say yes and no to the constant impulses of the body and unconscious mind begins with having your core values fleshed out and firmly in place. A clear and concise map.

Questioning your core values is a developmental exercise that is vital because as we grow our values may shift and change. In your twenties you may value partying or hanging out or dreaming huge dreams in the realm of endless possibility or living in a more idealistic state, etc. When you hit your forties you may have fully lived out (successfully or unsuccessfully) the core values of youth. This is what is called “the mid-life crisis” (the next developmental transit would be around age sixty nine at the second Saturn return, the markers happen all throughout a life span).

As one friend stated in speaking of the Uranus opposition in the natal chart that occurs around age 42 (this mid-life crisis transit), it is time to metaphorically build a new house. The house is our core value map. What do you value now?

I can say from personal experience that I am more of an introverted hermit now (in my forties). I value solitude. I also value discipline, consistency, being structured, grounded and balanced through taking care of my body. The values of my youth were all about flowing, indulging, and being in the heart all the time which allowed me to heal, grow and be my true self back then. If I did that now I would crumble. Now it is solitude, disciplined practice, and my health regime that catalyzes healing, growth and true self expression. I still enjoy socializing and flowing but it is not my main focus.

We may hold onto values from the past with less weight as new values take up more space.

Developmental changes may feel like crisis because change is hard for humans. Across the board. To suddenly experience being drained by what once energized, or to experience your health decline by what once invigorated, or to experience a certain quality of relationship (or the relationship itself) go from feeling right to feeling off and wrong, or to suddenly wake up in your job or lifestyle and it no longer feels satisfying…..

Are all clues that it is time to rewrite the map because your core values are changing. To avoid crisis you would just switch to the new way of being but that’s not how we are as humans. All of us get attached to people, jobs, lifestyle habits, mental patterns, and most importantly we attach to how our values turn into a self identity.

I used to have the identity of a bohemian gypsy priestess rolling through life a leaf in the wind barely touching ground and indulging my senses as I pleased. This identity and lifestyle was partially a privilege and a way of being that allowed me to deeply heal for a period of time.

Now my identity is a grounded, stable, disciplined therapist and teacher planting roots and living like an urban Buddhist monk with how I eat and practice yoga/meditation. I went through a very difficult transition because I was very attached to my old self identity. I resisted the identity I wear now, profusely (a life-long trend for me to have aversion for what I am about to embrace). Now I am content with the new identity.

Growth is always painful and death always brings rebirth.

The artist identity has also changed value. I used to want make it in the world as an artist. Now, I could care less about getting worldly recognition. Sometimes only part of an identity shifts. The artist remains but she values making art for the sake of making art and not for achieving fame or success in the eyes of others.

Do you have a life long identity that also needs a shift within it?

Romantic relationships are a big one when it comes to core values. The kind of relationship you value now may be very different than what it was five, ten or twenty years ago. Your values here may shift in terms of the structure of relationship and in the type of person most compatible with who you are.

Discerning core values from more shallow expectations is vital. You don’t want to miss out on a great core value match because they don’t meet your shallow expectations.

Compromise plays a big role here too. If an introvert is with an extrovert, for instance, your values will clash but can you find a happy medium where you allow your partner to go out more while you stay home and sometimes they stay home with you and sometimes you go out and socialize with them?

Sometimes opposite core values find their balance when other core values match up well between two people.

It is also important to discern the difference between a core value and an unconscious wound or fear. For instance, you may value a close long term relationship but fear being in one due to hurt from the past or not feeling good enough to have what you want. If you don’t know the difference between hurt and value, you may cling to an idea that you prefer being single and free when this is not a core value but rather a defense to protect yourself from being hurt again.

You may need to discover, rediscover or hone into your core value map. There are many ways to feel what matters most to you if your mind is not producing the words.

Look to what makes you cry with tears of beauty. Look to what causes you to feel anger in defense of the sacred. Look to what makes you smile big. Look to what invigorates you and makes you feel more expanded, open, and buoyant. Look to where you find it easy to focus and lose all track of time. Look to which people make you feel like coming home or make you want to be a better person or who make you light up. Look to love.

There may be blocks in the way when wounds, fears, and hurt spiderweb through the psyche. Sometimes finding the map requires an investigation of your shadow land. Patience may be required to navigate through confusing feelings, opposing thoughts, or being disconnected from your true self and over-bonded to the values of others.

Fear of being yourself may present as a projection onto someone or a real situation when a loved one’s expectations, criticisms, and dominating personality takes up too much space on a regular basis (due to their own wounds). This may have been in your upbringing or in a present relationship. Or you are projecting this onto a current person who is not dominating and critical but simply expressing their needs or feeling triggered into their own past stuff.

The path of differentiating true self from toxic patterns in loved ones is a path that requires courage. Discerning projection from reality is a skill that takes time to develop. We all project because it’s natural and just a part of what we do.

Lastly, I want to mention that we are not our core values and we are not our identity. Our values protect true self. To change up the metaphor, identity is the costume sewn by the core values to understand and express true self.

True self is deeper than the sewer and the costume. True self is a felt experience and a verb ever-changing just like nature and life itself.

 

 

 

 

True Self Love (Part Two on the True Love Relationship)

I am writing part two after writing with a friend who was mentioning the importance of self love as the root of a true love relationship. Yes!

I did not get into the healing process in yesterday’s blog on the true love relationship. The healing of attachment wounds from childhood is what develops self love in the present. We learn self love through our relationships.

Having a secure attachment with self is the root of all roots in a true love relationship and in any relationship. A secure attachment with self is self love.

A secure attachment with self means that you treat yourself with unconditional love, that you take decent care of yourself (and you are kind to yourself when you do not) and that you value yourself unconditionally (this is written about a few blogs back).

A secure attachment with self means you are a loving and caring mommy and daddy to yourself.

Being a loving and caring mommy and daddy to self means being unconditionally loving, setting healthy boundaries, naming and expressing your emotional needs, valuing your unique true self essence, and doing the practices and routines that keep you balanced, healthy, and growing.

Self love is a verb just like true love is a verb. It is the action of getting proper nutrition and sleep, of being able to moderate the indulgences, of setting healthy boundaries with others, of pursuing what you value and honoring yourself each time you mess up, and of healing the wounds living in the psyche.

Self love is not always being happy with yourself. It is not an ethereal feeling of self bliss. It is not always liking who you see in the mirror or being proud of your actions. Self love is being kind and compassionate with yourself when you are not happy with who you are being, how you are looking, what you are doing or what you have done.

Self love is the root of a true love union because a true love union will bring up every issue, wound, block, insecurity and karma that needs healing inside of you. It’s as if true love in an elixir that uproots all that has been repressed into the shadow by ego’s rational. This uprooting can be quite unsettling to say the least.

When this very uncomfortable uprooting of the pain that has been hidden inside of you happens the first reaction is to blame the partner or self or project onto the partner somebody who hurt you in the past, usually a parent but often an ex or sibling.

Developing self love during this uprooting means being able to communicate what comes up, to pull back your projections, to admit your shame or vulnerability and to give each other a break when it gets hard and messy.

For most of us being triggered is so scary that the cognitive communicating mind gets hijacked by the animal brain’s anxiety and we go into a flight/fight/or freeze response. This means we will argue, freeze up and not be able to speak, or leave and withdraw. When this occurs talking is useless, as the cognitive brain can only take the driver’s seat back when the animal brain is soothed through co-regulation or breath or touch or medication or space (to be continued in another blog). 

Learning how to take yourself out of the flight/flee/freeze response is vital and deeply impactful in the true love relationship because it allows the lovers to communicate with each other instead of getting stuck in the shame and blame the anxiety creates when one or both people fight, flee or freeze.

How we react in relationships is heavily scientific and not anything to be ashamed of because as animals we all react in the same way. It’s just how we are wired.

The science behind healing becomes very simple when you understand your internal experience. If you own, acknowledge, and express the feelings coming up from the shadow, the feelings will leave the body. As feelings leave the body, you feel liberated and lighter, that feeling of what was hurting so much no longer hurting. This allows you to create new stories around intimacy.

You can learn over time how to honor yourself and not see painful experiences in relationship as defeat, blaming self or the other. Whether blame is directed at self or the partner, it is always a way for the ego to avoid feeling the shame and vulnerability lurking right underneath the blame story.

If you can allow shame and vulnerability to be felt and expressed with your partner, you can free yourself of the blame and defeat stories you create around intimacy.

This healing process is a challenge and the more you develop self love the easier it gets. As self love increases shame loses its power and becomes a “no big deal” experience that you trust is temporary and rising up from the shadow to be met with love and released.

Over and over this is the process. Acknowledge and express the feeling. Remove blame. See the story you have been telling yourself about self, partner, and intimacy without identifying with the story. You are not the story. Beneath the story is shame to be met with love and released through continual acknowledgment and expression in the moment.

The wave and the island union is a mutual trigger where the island triggers the wave into feeling insecure and unloved through withdrawal until the wave overwhelms the island with anxiety around their needs causing the island to feels so insecure they withdraw even more creating more anxiety in the wave who gets more overwhelming in the pursuit of their needs not being met by the island backing away feeling terrified and inadequate…on and on.

The anxiety becomes shared as it grows between two lovers. Anxiety gets passed back and forth like a ball. This is not a sign of wrong love. This is the most natural process in the world when it is understood that we all have attachment wounds that have wired our brains to freak out. Shame around this is the result of this scientific process not being a known and accepted process taught to everyone.

To break the cycle, both can honor their own insecurity and shame when it rises. Both can learn how to get the cognitive brain back online and to move out of anxiety. Both can reassure each other that love is present. Both can take their attachment stuff to therapy. Both can continue to develop self love.

Through this dedication, intimacy becomes easier over time as self love increases.

Karmic (past life) relationships can be healed too through this process of self love that develops through healing attachment wounds. Often we are still holding shame and blame from intimacy wounds in a previous lifetime.

Some go through many years not in romantic relationships and maybe without close friends or any close attachments. In these cases, self love may be developed internally with spirit, nature, the transpersonal on some level.

I am one of these souls who has spent more time in this life not in romantic union. Through being unmated I have developed self love through the Hermit archetype, going within to heal through developing a secure attachment with self and spirit. This is my karma.

Some people move from relationship to relationship to learn. Some people are in one long term relationship for most of their lives. We all have our unique karma to live out and it’s best to not compare your relationship life with others.

Self love is the root of all relationship love on every level and our true source of power we share as souls having this human experience…

The True Love/Twin Flame Relationship

Disclaimer: this is my vision of what true love is. Some call it the twin flame relationship. Some call it soulmates. I will be sharing my vision and writing about true love in a way that sounds like my way is true. It is true for me. Maybe it is also true for you. I honor the differences.

First I would like to say what true love is not. It is not a soulmate relationship. Soulmate relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, are souls who travel through lifetimes together. In romantic soulmate relationships there is usually karma to be worked out and often soulmate unions are racked with strife due to all the hurt feelings that are being carried into this life from another. A soulmate may also be a true love but not always. It all depends on the the willingness of the two lovers…

A true love relationship is not a fixed, destined, and written in the stars union. I personally do not believe such fixed unions exist. (I do sense some aspects of human life being “already written”. I used to feel every aspect of our human life was already written but this shifted for me after 2012 when I felt the old form of pre-written destinies collapse as we entered a new structure where the human will could shift and change destiny with each moment.)

True love is an art project, a verb, and a possibility that requires the will’s motivation and dedication, the heart’s devotion and attachment, the mind’s awareness and skill and the for body to keep learning how to be present.

True love can happen in monogamy or polyamory and with or without vows of marriage.

True love is a creative structure for experiencing romantic union as a life long love affair and often, a beyond one life love affair. For some, this life is not the first one and for some it is the first life two souls choose to create the true love relationship. If two souls share a past life where they already dedicated to one another there may be a sense of written destiny, yet this choice may also change in the current life.

Going around the sacred medicine wheel we start in the north, with body. Learning to be present and embodied is imperative for true love because all the issues arise in true love unions. All your stuff from the past; attachment wounds, projections, fears, worries, doubts, bad habits, trauma, insecurities and anxieties will reveal themselves.

If either partner is seduced into thinking the other is really the “bad guy”, the whole structure can come toppling down. How often the partner wears the mask of mom, dad, sister, brother, classmates, ex partners, or any other hurtful or neglectful relationship from the past, is more often than not. Being present allows both lovers to recognize when they are triggered and projecting the past onto the other.

We move into the east here, into the mind. True love builds the skills of sustaining a long term relationships of romantic love. Communication skills. Self awareness skills. Discernment skills. Timing skills. Not everyone will be as therapeutic about healing in relationship but some skill is needed to be able to let go of your own stuff when you are projecting onto a partner. Some skill is needed to communicate your needs so that you don’t build resentment, sacrifice too much of yourself, over-give or over-take.

Examining the self is always a process that beautifies true love. Yet the process of self examining and self growth is hard for many due to feeling shame around not being good enough and other feelings that rise out of the shadow to be examined. This is no easy task but this leads to…

How true love requires two lovers to learn how to trust one another over time so that shame and wounds can rise up and be met with patience and love by self and the partner. This brings us to the south, the will. The will is where true love makes that dedication to stick through the storms and rough times that rise up, sometimes on the regular. Trust is learned here in a very pragmatic way. The more two lovers stick it out and grow through pain, challenge, and hurt, the more trust is learned through actual experience versus blind faith.

In the south is where your true self feels motivated to enter this form of relationship. True love is not better or morally right. It’s only one form of having a romantic union. If you have the impetus for it in your will, you can create it.

This motivation moves us into the west, the feelings. Here we feel and express our longings, desire, romance, love, and attachment.

The romantic partner is the closest mirror to the parent child union. Our egos developed by how we were parented. Our brains were hard wired with an attachment style under age seven. Even if there was no trauma or abuse, avoidant and preoccupied (anxious) attachment styles of parents shapes us with an immense pre-verbal impact that shows up in how we attach with the lover. For the heart to devote to true love we must face our attachment wounds and styles and learn about the partner’s attachment wounds and styles.

Back in the east is where we may become self aware and communicate our attachment wounds and styles. In the west we feel our wounds and style. In the south we dedicate to the lover even when attachment styles and wounds cause hurt and they always do.

Islands or avoidant types almost always attract waves or anxious types, creating a pursuer and avoidant pattern that mirrors the past. Sometimes two waves mate and have that emotionally charged and passionate high drama union always riddled with strife. Sometimes two islands mate and get along great as both equally avoid to not feel threatened but the romantic love might not feel very strong.

Sometimes one or both lovers has a disorganized attachment style and wounds that stems from abuse and trauma. This causes a lot of pain and shame to rise up and test the container of true love.

No matter what the blend, attachment truly is the root and hence awareness, communication, and dedication are necessities to help partners endure the pain or hard times that rise up as secure attachment is being designed and fortified in the continual art project of true love.

Can you and do you want to dedicate to your mate even when they literally trigger the hell of you?

Can you and do you want to love your mate even when they ping all of your hurt inside and bring out shame, doubt and insecurity?

Can you and do you want to keep working on being present in the now so that you can see your lover for who they are see through the masks of loved ones from the past that you put over your lover’s eyes?

Can you and do you want to learn how to communicate better, let go of the past, become more self aware and heal the attachment wounds that cause constant insecurity and anxiety?

Do you desire to be with one mate (whether one only or a one among others) till death do you part? (It’s not about it succeeding, it’s about the journey you choose to take.)

These are the questions to ask yourself to see if you are truly wanting, willing, and ready to enter into a true love union.

As for timing, true love can happen at any time in your life. It might show up as your very first relationship, it might be a past relationship returning (in this life or a past life) or maybe you don’t find your lover until you are in your elder years. The timing remains mysterious.

As for knowing who the true love is….this is not a question of destiny, it is a question of mutual willingness, desire, and dedication between two who both say yes.

Often times an avoidant type can hold out for some elusive destined person who meets every single need and is easy and perfect (in their mind) as a way to avoid real intimacy with a real person which has its messy, awkward, and hurtful times.

Often times an anxious type will endlessly vacillate about whether a relationship is wrong or right, giving in to their deep insecurity of not being lovable enough and projecting their insecurity onto the partner.

Often times a disorganized type with engage in both of the above attachment wound behaviors and then feel so bad about themselves because they cannot find their sense of self and don’t trust their feelings at all.

We are all born into a wounded society of human beings and nobody is on the mountaintop.

The spectrum of having a secure healthy attachment style exists within all of us. Some are twenty or thirty percent secure, some are only five or ten percent secure, some are eighty or ninety percent secure. Nobody is better or worse for how secure they are.

Sometimes a highly secure type partners with a highly insecure type and becomes the safe container for the avoidant/anxious/disorganized person to learn trust and to heal. This may be more uncommon but it does exist and I know a few who have this form of true love union.

There are infinite ways we can manifest and express the art form of true love.

Point being, don’t think because there is pain, insecurity, avoidance, and anxiety that it is not true love.

The spectrum of how easy or hard a romantic union is has nothing to do with a prewritten destiny and has everything to do with the present moment of two lover’s mutual love, desire, dedication, and skill in each present moment.

The guarantee is an illusion and true love requires courage to face pain and hurt.

True love union encompasses all the aspects of being human. Lovers have fun together, have great chemistry, are best friends, hurt each other, disappoint each other and struggle through difficult times and circumstances.

True love is the constant verb of two people relating and also a container that holds the journey. The container strengthens with effort, trust, forgiveness, awareness, dedication, and also…humor!

The romantic part of true love is mysterious. How can two lovers stay in love for so long and through every wave of light and dark, pleasure and pain? I love that I don’t have an answer to this. I humble myself and only claim to understand how to create and sustain the mystery that is soulful and profound romantic love.

A Letter from the Heart

Dear Patriarchy,

You are an institutional model that although was created by men, harms men as much as it harms women. True, men have more power in every worldly way possible. True, women are still treated as things to serve a purpose for men and our power is revoked time and time again. And…to see how men are disempowered inside your structure we need to zoom out and see your master plan…we need to see how you value logic, reason, conformity, blind faith, pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, having power, and continually pleasuring and beefing up the self at whatever expense, always walking on the heads of others.

You as a backbone of innocent religion demand blind faith, mental conformity that drains the will and oppresses all women and the queer community. You as a backbone of innocent atheism demand that all knowledge not deriving from the five senses of the human being is to be dismissed as irrelevant. You as the backbone of innocent politics turns loving intelligent leadership into a self-centered quest for power and control over others. You as the backbone of innocent education turns children into conformists who do not question what they are told and serves the few at the top. You as the backbone of innocent family puts men in roles of the strong logical leaders and women as subordinate creatures needing to be owned and tamed. You as the backbone of any family or relationship not straight or cis turn queer people into sinners and shame them into submission. You as the backbone of the innocent self install shame into every heart of every human if they dare stray from the set of the meaningless rules, values, truths, and expectations you propagate through our institutions of family, religion, education, and politics.

Your structure is set up to divide people and pit them at war with one another and be at war within the self. Men are raped of emotional connection and their internal self is manipulated, therefor they tend to be sick in the head. Women are raped physically and kept subordinate in the world. We are less sick in the head because we are emotional connected, aware, and we process our feelings with each other. Men are more sick in the head and women are more disempowered by your imbalanced power hungry structure, patriarchy.

And yet, I do not blame you. In fact, I do not blame at all. I see that you, patriarchy, are the reflection of us humans and what we refuse to see and heal in our own shadow territory. Deep down, we fear one another and fear our own power. It’s a big ancient and complicated story….the vicious cycle between you and us, patriarchy. Multigenerational trauma and cultural conditioning set up every infant to be already marginalized, disempowered, and fragmented….even the most privileged. It’s a spectrum of “haves” and “have-nots” experiencing less and more intense degrees of pain and injustice.

The only people who are fully liberated inside have healed themselves enough to discover their true power within and no longer seek it as much in others or in this broken human world in need of repair. For our true internal power source cannot be taken away by another. As long as we continue to overly externalize the power source as another person, an almighty god, a country, a leader, or whatever, we are not healing, we are getting it wrong and perpetuating the vicious cycle.

This is why I also thank you, patriarchy, even in the pain. Because you are showing me what I need to see and heal inside of me. You make it obvious that I crave empowerment and self worth that I must find within myself. I know it’s a process and path, this healing thing. I have to go through the stages. I need to go through the stage of blaming you and hating you, to get my anger and sorrow out for all the pain and injustice. I did that for a bit and then I moved to the next stage of accepting the reality of you, patriarchy, and also accepting the reality of my past trauma and multigenerational wounds.

I found acceptance of what is and began to focus on my healing process. I started feeling my own inner source of power and this is the big healing for me as a targeted women…coming into my own empowerment…so that I can then move beyond empowerment and into the next stages of strategy and re-centering. In my privilege, I move beyond inclusion into awareness and then allyship (thank you Letitia Nieto and your book “Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment, for showing me the way). I am a work in progress for my own healing and the healing of this world.

I don’t know how it all works but I do know that each individual that shows up with loving, kind, tolerant, firm, dedicated, intelligent presence that is balanced and honors both feeling and logic, faith and reason, dark and light, life and death (etc) brings healing to the world. To heal the world is to come together as one human race (with distinctions and differences in race, gender, age, health, sexual preference, and culture that are treated with equality). We must come together in numbers and say no to you, patriarchy.

Do you notice how I have lowered the case of your p? I am taking you off your throne inside of me in threat and power. I know I battle my own complicity too. Where I indulge your structure due to my privilege and also my wanting of convenience. I am on no mountain top. I admit and own my shadow aspects of self and do not judge myself for we all are made up of light and dark aspects. I do my best in each moment. I try because I know that the one and only solution is for the human race to come together and say no to you. If you are not needed, patriarchy, you will naturally decay and die as all structures eventually do.

May we all be on this path of helping you decay and die because although I accept the dark and light cycles of nature, I am in it to win. I am a lover who intends to see every human free and every infant born into true-self prosperity.

I send this letter to you without editing my thoughts because I want to express myself from the heart and off the cuff.

One day you will be gone forever, patriarchy, I just know it.

Love,

Michelle

Unconditional Self Worth

Self worth should be an unwavering feeling of unconditional love and high-value for yourself, no matter what. Tall order but very possible to step into and make real.

What you don’t want is to have self worth only when you are “doing good” and lose your self-worth when you are “doing bad”. This polarized story of self that is rooted in being good or being bad is ego’s natural way of operating. Ego strives to be liked, valued, appreciated, and seen by family, community, co-workers, a partner, friends, and any group we belong to and find home in. Because of this, effort is required to break the mold and learn to experience self-worth unconditionally.

The work involves analyzing your family system, culture and upbringing…sifting through every value you hold to see if it is a value dear to you or the value of somebody else. Same goes with your feelings about yourself. Are they your feelings or are they the feelings of your mother, father, sibling, or another loved one? This process of differentiating self from others lays the foundation for unconditional self worth.

Once you understand and know the difference between yourself and others you can take a look at your personal values and see what is out of alignment. An example of misalignment would be if you value being balanced and your behavior continually throws you off balance. Analyzing each value and the behavior around the value will illuminate where gaps exist in your integrity. These gaps will make you feel shame. The key here is to allow the shame to be felt, expressed, and released without creating a story around the shame that you are bad, wrong, or unworthy.

You do not need to lose your self worth if you are not aligned with your personal values. Instead, you can work to get into alignment and move through the shame as it presents. Sounds so simple but the reason why it’s so hard is because when you tell yourself you are bad or wrong or an asshole or a loser (there are many ways to say it) over and over again, you drain your will of its natural motivation and impetus. Nobody grows or changes when they feel like shit about themselves. You feel like shit about yourself when you tell yourself you are bad, wrong, unworthy. It’s a viscous cycle.

The key is to intercept this story that you are bad. You have built up this story either because those around you are not giving you attention, validation or love….or because you are not in integrity with your own values. It might be both! The story of being bad said over and over creates a well-worn path in the brain. This neural pathway begins to operate on auto-pilot until you don’t even notice that you have a choice about how you perceive yourself. Once you have clarity and self-awareness, you can create a new neural pathway in the brain.

The new neural pathway: I am worthy no matter if I am failing or succeeding, making a mistake or making a contribution, aligned or misaligned, fat or thin, rich or poor, single or partnered, etc.

The new neural pathway: I am worthy simply because I am me. I am worthy no matter what.

The new neural pathway does not link self-worth with behavior, attention, validation, reward, or results. This goes against everything society teaches us. We must be like the salmon and swim upstream to rise out of our inner turmoil that is the story of being bad, wrong, not good enough, flawed, and unworthy.

The new neural pathway validates the self as an unquestioned fundamental fact and truth.

The new neural pathway of unconditional self worth is our true sense of security and the foundation of well-being.

To create this new neural pathway takes practice, awareness, repetition, time, and dedication. I wish it didn’t. I wish we could just cast a spell, receive a miracle, shift with awareness alone….but there is something about the effort, time, dedication, and awareness that is as important and vital as the result.

The practice I use is four-fold and aligns with the sacred four directions.

North: this is the actual practice. You need a practice to train yourself to be new. All animals need to be trained in order to change, human or otherwise. It’s the way of all earthly creatures. Be it a meditation practice, yoga practice, or any practice where you connect mind to body. Yoga of all forms, chanting, sitting meditation, walking meditation…pick one and do it for five minutes a day to start. Work up to your time level.

Just like building biceps or anything, practicing meditation or yoga in any form builds the ability to differentiate self from the thoughts and feelings you experience..and from the thoughts and feelings of others. The practice will also build awareness as you become the witness of your emotional reactions, thoughts, and responses. Building your inner witness will give you the space to choose an unconditional self worth story at any given time.

East: this is the mental work of analyzing your values and sense of self and differentiating from your family/culture/loved one’s values and sense of who you are. Therapy is a great way to engage in this work. You can do it alone with books, friends, podcasts, and videos as your allies on the path. The work of differentiation takes time as we can only see what we are ready to see. To stand firm in our own foundation of self requires a readiness and courage as well.

South: this is the burning up of the old pathway of conditional self worth. I know it may sound overly simple but laughing and sweating each day burns up the old neural pathway. Getting the will out of the familiar routine is helpful, be it trying new things or thinking new thoughts. Each day sweat, laugh, think a new thought, and do one thing differently,

The biggest task of the south is creative expression. When we create we burn up all that was and is and we make room for the new. You don’t need to be an artist to create. Make a painting, sing songs, make music, garden, cook, redecorate, craft something, make a collage, play with crayons, dance, make a video…it does not need to be sell and it does not have to be good. Create from a playful place like a child. Create for the joy of creating. You don’t need to be thinking about self worth or be therapeutic about it. Creating is therapeutic naturally!

West: this work is about feeling your feelings without the story and of healing the attachment wounds from the past showing up in present relationships. The west is complicated. Learning to feel your feelings without trying to fix or solve them and without putting a story around the feeling, is very hard. Not only hard but also tricky because you often are unaware you are making a story up when you have a strong feeling. You may feel extremely hurt by another and create a story of betrayal that is wrapping around the hurtful feeling, without even knowing you are the creator of the story. This work takes time to understand and practice.

Healing attachment wounds requires analyzing self to know what the wound is and forming secure healthy connections with others (therapist, healer, lover, friend, family member, a pet). If you are totally alone you can form a secure attachment with self and this should be done no matter what. You can form a secure attachment with spirit, with nature, and with life itself. This topic is too large to write about here but as many have said, “what gets broken in relationship must get healed in relationship”. Love is always the root of all healing.

In a nutshell, this four-fold practice of healing will bring unconditional self-worth into being and liberate you from much suffering. When you have unconditional self worth you no longer put this task on others and you no longer slip into the shame spiral of despair when you are just being human (making mistakes, wrong choices, having a set-back, hurting another, struggling with mental illness, losing a job, etc etc the list goes on).

Most importantly, having unconditional self worth provides a feeling of security, fulfillment, and inner peace that is independent from relationships and impervious to anything happening in your life.