Archive for August, 2010

The Language of Love

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

We live in a relational world. Successful relationships transform our families, schools, institutions, governments and the world we live in. In the process we’re able to experience more
joy and happiness in our lives. Most of us would agree that there is ample opportunity for us to express more love in our lives. But we don’t always do it—perhaps it’s because we don’t know how.

Love has it’s own language. The language of love is the most powerful language on the
planet. When I was single, I used the words I love you sparingly because I didn’t want to mislead my partner into thinking that I felt differently than I did. What I didn’t realize at the time was that those words would always be difficult for me to express. Even when I tell my wife, Annie, that I love her, those words still seem charged, as they do when I say those words to my children.

So what I do, like many of you, is use variations of those words. When signing a letter it is natural for me to sign it with love as opposed to I love you. I’ve noticed that some friends use the phrase love ya, while others, occasionally end the conversation with I love you. When they do, I usually pause and
reply, I love you, too. When referring to a movie or a book, I might say, I loved it.

In the English language, some of our deepest feelings can’t be expressed in words. We can look to the Greeks for wisdom in this regard.
Two friends touch each other’s souls but are not lovers. The Greeks refer to this love between friends as Philos.

The special love that we share for our family is different
than any other love we experience. The Greeks refer to this
love of family as Storge.

Spiritual love, or the love that is God is referred to as Agape.

The physical love, when lovers embrace, is referred to as Eros.

The language of love is an acknowledgment of a person’s essence and their inner beauty. If we are not comfortable with the more accepted language of love, it is important to create our own language; a language that acknowledges others, their greatness, their gifts and their blessings. By becoming more
comfortable with this language, we open the doors to deeper intimacy. Perhaps you have your own language and way of expressing it. Perhaps it’s with your eyes or your smile.

This discussion of love was excerpted from my book Dancing on the River. Take the time to reflect upon the following:

1. To whom and in what ways can you express your love?
2. What has not expressing your love cost you?
3. What would you really like to tell your partner?
4. What can you change in your relationship?
5. Who would you have to become to have a great relationship?
6. How difficult is it for you to say, “I’m sorry”?
7. How can you nurture yourself more? With this one, there is nothing to write. Just look in the mirror,
smile and say, “I love you.”

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He is the author of, Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes.

What are you really getting out of the relationship?

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

As an executive and life coach I notice the same patterns in the people I coach and in my own process. No matter what we are doing, our feelings and desires are intensified by the relationships we choose to be in.

We also erroneously believe that if some of the people in our life changed, things would be better. I have previously written about Suzanne and her desire to change her partner. I reminded Suzanne that we choose a particular partner for a reason. That person at this time in our life is perfect for our soul’s evolution.

Let me share with you a little bit about my path. I have always felt that I was on the family track. Yet many years ago I chose a partner who wasn’t and spent three years of my life with her. I had to look at that. What was really going on with me? If I really wanted a family at that time I would not have chosen her as my relationship partner. She didn’t try to hide the way she really felt from me. However she had other gifts that attracted me-she inspired me to explore my musical creativity which was important to me.

The relationship lasted as long as it did until our needs changed. I wanted more. I wanted to go deeper. Then we moved on. It was extremely painful at the time. And when I moved on I was clear what I wanted. I got it right the next time, although you could say that it’s all perfect. Each relationship prepares us for the next.

A suggestion. The next time you are dissatisfied in your relationship ask yourself a few questions. What is it exactly that you are getting out of the relationship? Are you wiling to let that go? As I said in Suzanne’s situation for now her situation was perfect the way it was.

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He is the author of, Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes.

WHO AND WHAT IS TAKING YOUR ENERGY?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

So here it is. It’s the middle of August. I’m looking at my garden. What grew and what didn’t. The tomatoes aren’t ripe yet. The squash was plentiful. I can smell the basil. The peppers are just about ready. The watermelon didn’t make it.

Prior to this year it had been a while since we tended to the garden. We weeded, prepared the soil, researched which plants would do well in our climate and planted. We waited, watched and watered the plants. While most of the plants seemed to like their new home, some didn’t make it through the summer. It didn’t seem like there was a pattern. One plant thrives while the other only a few feet away, struggles. Isn’t that the way life is? In some areas of our life we thrive while in others we struggle. Quite often we’re pleasantly surprised and discover new things about ourselves.

We have natural inclinations—natural strengths and talents. Music has always been one of my natural inclinations while fixing things has been a challenge. And yet on those rare occasions when I do fix something I get excited.

Relationships are like that. I look at the people in my life. There are those who I am connected with that put a smile on my face. And then there are those who take a lot of work. It’s a matter of how we want to spend our time. I think back to my garden. In one area of the garden there are very few weeds and in another area, I am constantly weeding.

Until we get rid of the weeds, what we can see and appreciate is limited. In our lives, the weeds which are in the form of limiting beliefs, prevent us from seeing what is possible.

Weed your garden. Take the time to get rid of what isn’t working. Be curious.

ENJOY THE JOURNEY

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He is the author of, Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes.

WHAT IS YOUR WISDOM?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I’m doing something a little different in this blog. What do you want people to know about life, long after you are gone? It might be your son or daughter or a friend that you really care about. My message is in the form of a letter.
DEAR LOVED ONES:

I KNOW THAT SOMEWHERE YOU CAN HEAR ME. I WANT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU.

I HAVE A LOT TO TELL YOU. BUT I WANT TO LEAVE YOU WITH ONE THOUGHT THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER FORGET.

YOU CAN BE HAPPY AND FULFILLED, ALTHOUGH IT MIGHT NOT SEEM THAT WAY AT TIMES. KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW YOU CAN DO THIS. SOMETIMES IT SEEMS EASY AND THEN IT CHANGES. YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT LIFE CHANGES. THINGS DON’T STAY THE SAME. SO YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO BE FLEXIBLE. HAVE A SPIRITUAL PATH, SOMETHING THAT YOU SPEND SOME TIME WITH EVERYDAY. OTHEWISE YOU’LL GET TOO CAUGHT UP IN THE DAY-TO-DAY SUPERFICIALITY OF LIFE.

DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH…EVEN IN THOSE MOMENTS OF PAIN AND SORROW, THERE IS JOY AND LAUGHTER ON THE OTHER SIDE. SO DON’T GIVE UP…KEEP GOING FOR IT AND REMEMBER THERE ARE NO FREE LUNCHES. YOU ARE GOING TO GET YOUR SHARE OF LUMPS. BUT IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH THEM THAT ULTIMATLEY DETERMINES THE QUALITY OF YOUR LIFE.

HERE’S TO THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

WITH LOVE AND BLESSINGS

JOURNEY ON

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He is the author of, Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes.

WHAT ARE YOU AVOIDING SAYING?

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

There were so many times when I could have said it sooner and better. I wanted to connect but I didn’t know how and I knew it. There was a part of me that was shy. I was comfortable expressing myself nonverbally through music and sports; but words were what was needed, if I wanted to have successful personal relationships. So I was motivated to learn all I could about becoming a better communicator.

I took workshops, read all I could, and gradually noticed that I was beginning to connect on a deeper level. This was true, whether it was in my personal or professional life. But no matter how skillful I became, there was always that conversation I avoided having. Regardless of what the circumstances were, there was always someone with whom I avoided having a conversation. As a lawyer I had my share of them. As a coach I have found that this is a universal problem.

In almost every situation between two people there is a “conversation” that can begin the healing process. This conversation can show up anywhere in your life, but usually it shows up at home with your loved ones or in the workplace.

If you don’t communicate what’s on your mind the situation only becomes worse. It won’t go away. That’s the way it was for me. I was the classic avoider. When I first began practicing law I shared office space with Sean. For many years we were very close, like brothers, but our relationship began to change. Sean started to distance himself and seemed to shut down whenever he was around me. Even though I was aware of this happening, I didn’t say anything because I was afraid that what Sean might say would be hurtful. Our conversations remained cordial, yet superficial, and eventually we stopped communicating and went our separate ways.

I lost touch with Sean. When I had a chance encounter with Sean approximately 20 years later, I got to have that conversation. After a busy day of running errands in an obscure place I noticed an attorney’s office. I walked inside and there was Sean. It was a special moment for both of us. I told Sean how special he had been in my life and how hurt and disappointed I had been when we drifted apart. Sean shared his journey with me. He said he had to hit bottom, and as part of that process, he pushed everyone away. I thought I was the only one.

For many years I had felt that it was because of me that the relationship had broken down. The truth was that it had nothing to do with me. Sometimes having these conversations is a risk. I certainly felt that way walking into Sean’s office, but I’m glad I did. I spoke my truth. We both understood what it was that at one time had connected us. We also understood why we were now walking different paths.

Probably the most fertile ground for having these conversations is with your significant other or a family member. Prior to meeting my wife, Annie, I was in an unsatisfactory relationship for three years with someone else. I accepted the circumstances of the relationship because I didn’t want to confront the truth, which was that we wanted different things from life. I wanted to have a family and she said she wasn’t sure. I didn’t press it, because I didn’t want to find out what she really wanted, which was not to have a family. I also didn’t want to be alone. But the truth was that even though I was in a relationship with her, I felt alone.

If I had been willing to face the truth, it would have been easier to have had that conversation. Instead, I avoided it for three years. Finally things came to a head and we had that conversation. If I had been more truthful with myself and had faced my fear of being alone, I would have had that conversation much sooner.

I know most of you have had similar experiences. Rather than finding out what’s really going on, you avoid having the conversation. All that does is prolong the tension and stifle any real communication.

Four Suggestions That Will Impact Your Ability to Engage in Difficult Conversations

1. Whenever you feel conflict or tension in a relationship, make the commitment to have a conversation about it. Think of a potential conflict as an opportunity to deepen the connection. Look at it this way: Conflict=Opportunity.
I know that I’m simplifying it and I also know that it’s true. It’s a powerful concept. Rather than running
away, look for what’s possible. See this opportunity as a gift.

2. Be strategic. Think of a supportive place and time when you think the other person will be more receptive to what you have to say. If it’s a workplace issue, if at all possible have the conversation away from the workplace.

3. Don’t make the other person wrong. You might be wondering how you can let someone know that his or her way of doing things conflicts with your way without being
critical of them. This is where you get to develop your expertise. Once you become critical of another
person, their natural reaction will be to defend themselves and in the process most likely find fault with
you. They’ll never find out what your needs are or how the problem might be resolved. It’s also important to remember they might not even be aware of how their actions have impacted you.

4. Start the conversation with an observation. With Sean the following conversation would have been revealing, “Sean, I feel like you are pulling away from me. Did I do something that offended you? Are you ok?” That conversation would have made me aware that the distancing
that I was experiencing wasn’t because of me. With my girlfriend I could have had the following conversation much sooner. “We’ve been together for a while now and I really want to have a family. I’m not sure you want the same thing. What do you really want?” Simple, yet scary. You have to ask the questions even if you think the answers might be painful. Having the conversation is an art form. It
might seem awkward at first, but you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice because these situations keep coming up. They are part of living. If you don’t address what’s bothering you, the problem won’t miraculously go away. I have a challenge for you:

With whom can you have that conversation and when will you have it?

JOURNEY ON

MARK

Mark Susnow, is an executive and life coach, who inspires others to believe in themselves. A former trial attorney for 30 years, he integrates what it takes to be successful in the world with the inner wisdom unfolded to him through years of yoga and meditation. He is the author of, Dancing on the River:Navigating Life’s Changes.


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