Sexual freedom is on the rise. Just this past week, several notable Republican law makers came out in favor of the right for marriage equality regardless of gender preferences. The interesting thing about change is how after it is done, we can hardly remember how it was before. Before long, coming out will no longer refer to gender orientation and who we have sex with. According to a recent article reported in the NY Times, ‘coming out’ will increasingly be about how people choose to have sex. Thanks in part to the 65 million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey in circulation, practitioners of kinky sex are now coming out and their numbers are multiplying fast. Fetlife, a website catering to kinky persuasion has added 700,000 new members this year bringing their total membership to over 1.7 million.
Sustainability is the catch phrase of this generation… it means learning how to use current resources in a way that does not harm the future. Yet the wisdom of sustainability is rarely applied to love, which, I believe is the source of life energy from which all else springs. Love is an action verb and a developmental skill set which evolves with time and practice.
As we begin to appreciate that being in relationship, having a family and history with someone is a precious resource we begin the journey of creating a thriving ecology of love. The huge amounts of trust, time and loving intention that we invest in our early relationships are actually renewable resources and the currency of our future health and wellbeing. Sustaining your relationship with loving words and actions not only keeps your own intimacy vibrant, it becomes a living education of what love is for future generations.
Join us, as we learn together about the art of love through the skill based practice of creating a thriving Ecology of Love by addressing all of the aspects of intimacy that make love grow. Each post helps you to honestly address all the areas of your relationship that need attention in order to create the passionate connection that makes love thrive.
Ask yourself: How does the opening in your communication with your partner increase your ability to share passion? What does it feel like when your partner shows up for you and does it make you want them more? How do your good thoughts about loving your partner invite you into a kiss?
“I know that when a door closes, it can feel like all doors are closing. A rejection letter can feel like everyone will reject us. But a closed door leads to clarity. It’s really an arrow. Because we cannot go through that door, we will go somewhere else. That somewhere else is your true life.” -Tama Kieves
Rejection might well be the source of our greatest fear and anguish and for good reason. Looking back at our tribal origins, rejection is imprinted in us as a matter of life and death. We humans were never meant to live alone; we are herd animals. I learned again last week just how deeply this lineage of rejection runs in me when I was “un-invited” to a small business group. Never mind that I wasn’t sold on the idea of joining this group from the beginning or even after the first meeting walked away doubting my decision to participate; still the call of rejection stung deep and left circles of reactivity around me for days.
One of my husband’s most reliable responses to my often high level of emotionality is: “Can you just be neutral?” He is a psychiatrist, so he has a lot more practice at finding a neutral objective view. Yet, even before we each chose our respective professions, he would often find his way back to center with more ease than I. Over the years, as I have learned to lean towards this middle space of witnessing reality without the storm of emotions that literally cloud my view, I have witnessed how my relationship has grown up to not only withstand conflicts, but has given each of us the room to really listen to opposing points of view. Actively seeking a neutral perspective moves relating beyond the knee jerk reactions of right and wrong and adds real time to the challenging exchanges that make or break a relationship.
Most people would probably agree that if all they needed to remember about giving and receiving love, they learned in kindergarten, they might also add the caveat that most of what they need to forget is what they learned in high school. I have noticed in my dealings with the many teenagers that I find myself around lately, through the Positivity Club I helped launch in our local high school, as well as the strained relating with my own teens, that there are a few consistent behaviors that disrupt relationships and impede emotional development that are worth forgetting. In the Valentine’s Day spirit of opening up to all the love that surrounds us, here is a short list of useless habits of the heart that will only enhance your feelings of being loveable by letting them go.
It is an odd and painful irony that often just as things are really coming together successfully in life, we often lose touch with the love that had inspired us to get there. We expect just the opposite. In our longings for whatever we aspire to, we believe wholeheartedly that achieving our dreams and succeeding in our plans will bring us only happiness. The reality is just the opposite. More often than not, great success and windfall opportunity doesn’t connect us more deeply to what we love doing or the people we love. Rather, it increases our stress levels and turns our heartfelt work into a need to prove something or, worse still, a fear of failure.
“One day a monk spoke bitterly to the Buddha. All he wanted to talk about was the unbearable sorrows of the world. The Buddha remained silent while the monk talked, then a faint smile appeared on his face. He pointed to the ground below his feet and said,“On this earth I have attained awakening.” -Buddhist Mondo
It is easy to become bitter by the weight of so much unresolved sorrow in life. I feel my heart get hard and my attitude towards life turn sour sometimes when I spend too long scanning the newspaper or fixating on the CNN newscasts while at the gym. Bad news travels faster than ever and the continuous in-your-face coverage of the unceasing violence from seemingly endless human conflict and its destructive aftermath can overwhelm me to the point of withdrawal, or worse still, indifference. But my indifference doesn’t stick; over and over I am pulled back into the stories of suffering from around the world with an earnest desire to know what is happening and to find my way into being part of the solution. I know that I am not alone, struggling to find center in this pendulum swing in my relationship to suffering.
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky
As I read the caption “disgraced” under Lance Armstrong’s photo documenting the interview of him finally admitting to drug use throughout his notorious cycling career, I wondered if he would walk away finally relieved of the enormous burden of his deceit or in the planning stages of his next role as the repentant star. Now, after 13 years of denials and false accusations, there is no simple truth that he can share that will reckon the years of aggressive manipulation of the truth in which a single lie became an extravagant lifestyle that he forced onto everyone and everything he touched. Apologies at this late juncture feel puny and almost like adding insult to injury. What we want instead when people are finally willing to speak the truth is a true reflection on the whys; a window into the slippery slope of lies that consume us whole.
Insecurity is a natural consequence of our mortal human experience. The most primal hardwired function of our brain is driven by a survival instinct, which is governed, to a large extent, by a negativity bias that operates without our conscious awareness. Negativity bias creates thinking mechanisms steeped in our worst fears and limits our view of the world with rigid judgments. This natural closing, left unchecked, translates into a defensive posture that impacts our capacity for relating, especially within our most intimate relationships. Re-thinking the source and experience of safety in the world is one of the most powerful shifts of intention we can bring to our relationships to life, as well as to the people we love.
The new year is a good time to re-orient our experience of pleasure. It is easy to confuse the continuous onslaught of instant gratification that our culture gorges on with the deep healing experience of pleasure. Here are a couple of guideposts to help distinguish and navigate oneself towards the healing experience of real pleasure. True pleasure does not cause harm. True pleasure resets the chemical balances in the brain and body towards centered-ness. True pleasure heals the past in the present, releasing us into a new way of seeing ourselves and the potential in our lives.
We are a wounded bunch, we humans, and yet we are entering a new possibility of healing on this planet that is calling all of us to open up our wounds to the light. I know that transformation of our pain is possible, that forgiveness is a real thing and that a single positive resolution is enough to shift the trajectory of your life. The key to allowing the light into our wounds begins with a simple commitment to have the courage to listen to our deepest longing. Real change is not driven by anything or anyone outside of us. Rather it is a call from your soul to remember who you really are. Three years ago when I began my positivity quest challenge, I knew in my heart of hearts that all that I had tried to accomplish would be meaningless if I couldn’t find and sustain a positive relationship to my life. Now I challenge you to choose from one of these five powerful starting points, each one with the power to transform life, as you know it. Choose the one that resonates most deeply and make your promise to it public. The more people who know about the shift you are intending to make, the more power it has.