Creating Flow for Abundant Life

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A client came to me with a problem. “My marriage is stagnant.”

I love his word choice. And I have a vivid imagination. That particular word brings up images in my mind of foul water, a putrid smell in the air, dying carcasses in and around the pond, and layers of filth on the surface of the water. Because I wanted a clear understanding of his perception of his marriage, I painted the above picture for him. “Is that what your relationship is like?” Sadly his answer, with tears in his eyes and a catch in his voice, was yes. He went on to correlate his experience to my description.

A stagnant pond of water becomes that way because there is no inflow or egress of water over a period of time. As the water sits idle, the fundamentals required to support a thriving body of water are used up. There is no flow. Restoring the pond requires repairing the flow.

My client’s marriage had no flow. Successful relationships of any kind require flow. There has to be an inflow of fresh water. And adding fresh water to a stagnant pond is a temporary solution. There has to be an outflow as well. There has to be a giving out of the relationship. The solution my client and I are creating is a repair to the flow in his relationship. And we are already seeing new signs of life.

The most successful relationships I know involve individuals committed to growing, learning, studying and gaining new insights and knowledge (inflow). They leverage this wisdom in their own relationship causing it to thrive (the healthy pond). And they give out to others in any number of ways but always serving a cause greater than themselves (egress). This simple formula is a cornerstone for sustaining a committed and loving relationship.

How would your relationship benefit by creating more flow? What are you studying or taking in? How are you leveraging this new wisdom? Where are you giving out of your relationship to help others? It’s really a very simple formula.

Donna and I have recently recorded 10 thirty minute videos on ideas for optimal happiness and success in relationships. These are being published through Entheos. Click here to leverage these videos to create an inflow of fresh water into your relationship. Share this with others whom you know would benefit as well. Let’s restore our relationships to optimal health!

Expectations

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My brother has a saying he is quite fond of: “expectations lead to disappointment, disappointment to frustration and frustration to anger.” In my marriage and in the raising of my kids (any relationship really), I’ve seen that play out so many times.

Yesterday, I listened to an audio by Steve Chandler titled Expectations vs. Agreement. It discussed the same thought process as my brothers’ statement and took it a step further.

His challenge is to have no expectations at all and where necessary create agreements instead. As I listened to him, I realized that this was a shift Donna and I have made. Over the last ten years, I have practiced having no expectations of Donna. And over those years, I’ve watched our relationship blossom in every area.

I used to expect her to handle the kids the way I would have done it and when it wasn’t I got upset. I used to expect her to handle money in a certain way and when it wasn’t I got upset. When we would go to parties, I would expect her to act a certain way and when she didn’t I got upset. Interestingly enough, the one that got me the most and I still have to work on is when we are going somewhere, I expect to leave the house right on time and she tries to get as much done on the way out of the house as possible.

We have a tremendous amount of peace in our house and in our relationship these days and I realize it is because I have let go, or am letting go of expectations. Where necessary, we create agreements but everything else is expectation free. Not having expectations drive me leaves room for gratitude. Everything that Donna does, I can be grateful for because since I have no expectation around it there is no disappointment causing me angst.

There are things we have agreements around. If the kids go to her for money, they are redirected to me. I put the toilet seat down. I don’t leave my clothes lying around the house. I rinse my dishes and put them in the dishwasher when I am finished with them. We’ve talked about these things and created agreements with one another that we do our best to keep. And everywhere possible, we simply have no expectations.

I would have thought that letting go of expectations would have caused things to fall apart, go undone, develop into chaos, etc. Actually it has been just the opposite. Letting go of expectations and where necessary, creating agreements has brought peace.

Letting go of expectations has been a major factor in maintaining a loving and committed relationship.

Reacting or responding, what result are you creating?

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In my personal and professional life, I have had many instances where I have created, promoted and or allowed dysfunction to exist because of my reaction. Broken relationships, ineffective and/or off target work, confusion, anger, bitterness, etc. Over time and with increasingly regularity, I have improved that scenario by creating and leveraging a distinction for myself between reaction and response. The result is improved communication, improved relationships and overall more desirable outcomes.

Reaction, our ability to act and move quickly in order to avoid sudden danger, is an important function. In my worlds of bicycling, motorcycling and fly fishing, I rely heavily on my ability to react in order to stay upright and avoid danger. In most cases, my reaction is unconscious, meaning I’m not having to think through and decide what my action will be.

Response, or our ability to act in a desired or positive way, is also an important function. In the work that I do in helping people communicate better, be more effective leaders and have empowering relationships, being conscious of your reaction or response is a cornerstone. With the exception of getting out of harm’s way quickly, being able to respond rather than react always yields better results.

Reaction serves us extremely well to get us out of harm’s way. Because it’s instantaneous and mostly unconscious, it’s effective. Where it loses its effectiveness is when slowing down to establish a positive, desired outcome is necessary.

Here are a couple of very simple examples:
I am currently on a restricted diet to support a long, fruitful and painless life. I also travel a lot which means I find myself in restaurants frequently. One thing that almost always happens is they will bring me bread while I am waiting on my order. Reaction has me reaching for the bread, slathering butter all over it and shoving it in my mouth. Response has me thinking about my desired outcome; a long, fruitful and painless life and asking the wait-staff to remove the bread. I slow down, create or review my desired outcome and respond accordingly.

I love being in powerful, loving relationships. I sometimes get e-mail from people with whom I am in relationship with that trigger some negative emotions inside of me. Reaction has me responding to that e-mail from that emotionally triggered place which often results in dysfunction of some kind. Response has me examining the outcome I am after in the relationship, the source of the emotional trigger and creating an empowering communication. I slow down, create or review my desired outcome and respond accordingly.

Where in your day to day life would you be better served, have more empowering communication and improved results if you moved from reaction to responsiveness. It always requires slowing down and establishing an ideal outcome. Sometimes it is only seconds, minutes or hours and sometimes it is days, weeks or months. If you are after consistent ideal outcomes and unless you need to get out of harm’s way immediately, respond instead of react.

Letting go of beliefs that no longer serve us

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Letting Go of Beliefs That No Longer Serve Us

“Marriage is always full of passion, excitement and thrill.” “My spouse should meet my needs.” “We’re married, we don’t need to work on our relationship.” “My spouse will always be there, I can give all of my attention to (insert hobby, career, any other time, attention and/or thought consuming activity here.)” “Some people just get lucky in relationship.” And the list goes on.

We come into our relationships with beliefs around how they should transpire. They originate from past experience and are fueled by the various forms of marketing that are typically not based in reality. Movies, TV shows and other media paint pictures of eternal bliss or perpetual conflict. When our relationships don’t look like eternal bliss we think something is wrong with us or we chose wrong. When we aren’t in perpetual conflict, we are lulled into a status quo, “it’s not that bad” state of mind.

Your beliefs drive your action. Your action drives your results. What we must remember is that our beliefs are our choice and should not be formed passively and go unexamined. Our beliefs can be chosen and based on the outcomes we want.

My wife and I have a clear and persistent outcome we are after in our relationship; to be in a committed and loving relationship with one another for the rest of our lives. To achieve this we consistently examine our beliefs. We discard those that no longer serve our outcome and create new ones that align with that outcome. These beliefs drive our actions every day. Every day we operate from chosen beliefs that drive actions that lead to a committed, loving relationship. We are On Purpose with our marriage.

Where are your beliefs no longer serving you? Dissatisfied with your results? Examine your beliefs.