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Are You Settling for Crumbs in Your Relationships? 5 Strategies that Will Help you Get the Dinner you Deserve.

Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you meant what you promised.

Anon.

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People are perfectly imperfect. There’s no getting around that. 

And while our imperfections and peccadillos will inevitably disappoint those we love from time to time, most people, in good faith, don’t mean to mistreat or rather, “misfeed” others.  Most, like to treat those they care about “well”, by metaphorically feeding them delicious dinners, either made for or paid for with love. Sometimes, however, those who allege their unwavering loyalty and undying love, and promise you that highly coveted meal over and over again, always seem to come up short. 

Instead of delivering that paid for in advance, five -course fancy feast, they show up to the table time and time again with, well, you guessed it: crumbs.  

And while they chronically apologize for coming up short, citing climate change, their chaotic lives and even their ADHD as the guilty Grinch that stole dinner, getting crumbs when promised a real meal over and over again feels crummy.

You can beg, bully and even try to black mail the one who promised you that meal into living up to their word. This may result in an occasional serving of small appetizers and aperitifs, but those tactics won’t get you the dinner you deserve. 

Crumbs are crumbs and their trails don’t lead to the dining room.

So, what tactics can you employ to get what you need when you’ve consistently asserted your dinner request and still only get crumbs? 

  1. Try saying “thanks but no thanks”, and direct that person to feed those crumbs to that which would appreciate them most: the birds

2. Refuse to give or accept crumbs for yourself or anyone else by choosing to live up to your word and walking away from those who choose not to live up to theirs. (Who knows, maybe they will “get woke” and follow.)

3. Make sure to treat yourself to many gourmet gatherings of faithful friends who serve food without fodder.

4. Know that you never have settle for crumbs again.

5. Make sure to enjoy your dinner.

Bon Appetit!

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7 Simple Ways to "Shape-Shift" Your Life When You Feel Down for the Count.

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible ”  -Audrey Hepburn

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible

-Audrey Hepburn

 

Albert Einstein shamelessly stated, “imagination is more important than knowledge.” A renegade physicist most known for his equation E=MC2, he believed that energy could not be created nor destroyed, “ just changed from one form to another.” His ideas spoke to the heart of the culturally diverse and timeless fascination of “Shape Shifting”.

“Shape-Shifting” means “the ability of a being or creature to completely transform its physical form or shape.”*  A common  theme in ancient mythology and shamanism, it involves a magical transformation from one state to another -often from human to animal.  In the modern era, “Shape Shifting” has become a widely used metaphor for variety of genres.

 

Sports is one such genre. Remember the  Boston Bruins 2011 playoff series ? Fans road the rollercoaster of constant come from behind wins (accompanied by Jack Edward’s historic commentary) from the quarter finals in Montreal all the way to Lord Stanley's Cup in Vancouver.  The B’s “shape shifted” again and again until they emerged victorious. Then there was Malcolm Butler’s against all odds and ergonomics game winning  interception in Super Bowl XLIX .  With :26 seconds left in the game and Marshawn Lynch inches from the end zone, Seattle Seahawk players and fans began celebrating the seemingly inevitable game winning touchdown.  The Patriots  then “shape shifted” and dashed the Seahawks’ hopes.  In 2017 they did it again. Down 23-3 in the third, the Falcons smelled victory.  Tom Brady marched down the field and showed the world once again, that miracles do happen- sometimes.  What seemed fated to be an epic loss “shape shifted” into  one of the most legendary Super Bowl victories to date.  

“Shape shifting” happens in psychotherapy too -though in this genre,  most  keep bragging rights to themselves.  People come to therapy when they feel down for the count and desperately seek to transform their lives.  While therapy may not be for everyone, almost everyone has found themselves at some point in time in dire need of change. If you can relate to that sentiment, then here are seven simple “shape shifting”  techniques you can practice on your own to begin turning  your life around.

  1. Ask yourself the following question: If anything were possible and nothing mattered, what does my heart long to be, do or have?  The sky's the limit, so be brave. Right now this secret desire gets to live privately and safely within the walls of your imagination. No one has to know about it, except you. Feel what happens in your body when you do this. Compare that “in the body feeling” with your feelings towards your  current situation or  whatever it is you think you should  be do or have. Notice the contrast. Without thinking, kinesthetically feel which thought or idea makes your heart lift.

  2. Focus on what does lift your heart,  imagining yourself being, doing or having it.  Sense and   feel what happens in your body.

  3. Allow the parts of you that tell you why you can’t or shouldn’t be, do or have this to come forward. Sense and feel them in your body.

  4. Send all those naysayer parts of you lots of compassion. Contrary to what many people say, pushing aside or ignoring fears doesn’t work. Those parts of you have important messages and concerns that need to heard. They have good intentions and are trying to protect you from deeper held beliefs and fears in your inner system.  Listen to all their concerns and  then channell Aaron Rodgers’ invitation for relaxation towards them all.

  5.  Allow the deeper fears to emerge in their own time and way. (If this becomes overwhelming, than you may want to consider psychotherapy.) Listen with compassion to all your pain - every last drop of it-and allow it to dissipate.

  6.  Shift your focus back again to what makes your heart happy and feel what happens again in your body.   

  7. Wait and Listen. Allow yourself to be guided by your heart’s intuition and follow its lead by taking whatever inspired actions it asks of you.

Practice this simple technique three minutes a day, three times a day for three weeks, three months or three years and watch your life begin to transform. You CAN “shape shift” anything in your life IF it’s what your  heart truly  desires. If it’s not, then It won’t happen no matter how hard you try. Trust that your heart has an inner wisdom in wanting what it wants -whatever that may be.

While Shakespeare’s Hamlet tormented over “Whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” and many have followed in suite, I believe there’s a better way. What lifts your heart- at least the essences of it- IS what you are supposed to be, do or have. When you surrender to that and set your intention to allow for what you really want to flow into your life -you will discover some really good news. What makes you happy- when pursued in a kind, compassionate and loving way- is  always in the best interest of the greater good.  

Why not give it a try and see what happens? .

You never know what dreams may come.

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The Homecoming: Why it's Never too Late to Live Authentically

“So you can doubt. And you can hate. But I know no matter what it takes:I’m coming home.” - Skyler Grey


 

“What about anacondas?” I asked. “Isn’t the Amazon Scary?”

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He paused for a moment and smiled at me before he answered. ‘It’s the safest place I’ve ever been,” he said while pulling out his phone to show me a picture he took of a Jaguar swimming away from his boat.”

After a  2 & ½ hour shuttle ride to the Liberia airport in Costa Rica, listening and learning from this man about his thoughts on Shamanism, the Mayan ruins in Guatemala, the Pachamama Alliance, the Amazon, and of his former work life involving unsavory business deals that effected the global economy, this man assured me that visiting the Amazon was a must.

 “Don’t worry” he said, as we exited the car and grabbed our luggage, “ the Amazon IS safe.”  He looked at me one last time before we parted for good and said “but love... now that’s scary”.

“Did he just do a little door knob therapy with me? ” I wondered as I walked into the airport and searched for the Jetblue Terminal. Tracing the threads of our conversation over and over in my mind, I finally remembered that I did tell him that I was a therapist. Perhaps that’s why he said what he said when he said it, just as many of my clients do at the end of session? They reveal  their deeper truths as they are literally walking out my office door- which allows them to say what they need to say, while avoiding any real exploration of it.  This man shared with me a deep vulnerability and then left.    

As I stood in line waiting to pick up my boarding pass for my flight home to Boston, unable to shake my curiosity, I decided to buy and read his book.  After perusing the chapter about his childhood,  I understood what he meant.

Like many clients I see, he grew up having to do what others wanted him to do- which became a part of his adult relational reality.  His own wants, needs, ideas and desires, if they deviated from what his family approved of,- were not permitted.  He developed what therapists call “a false self” -one that organizes around pleasing others and their realites- denying the authentic yearnings within. Yet, he always acted out his deeper wishes- just in destructive ways; dropping out of the school his family wanted him to go to, having affairs, ending his marriage, etc.  It made perfect sense to me why love felt so scary to him.

When people fall in love, they are often falling in love with parts of themself that they see in the other person.  Sometimes, they can only experience those parts of themself through that other person - at least initially. In a way, lovers become each other’s muses, inspiring their true nature and deep creative passions. If these parts are lost parts - exiled because they were never permitted and deemed unacceptable by those close to them, then the euphoria of being “in love with another” can quickly turn to panic - as the primitive implicit memories associated with the negative consequences of being authentic begin to surface.  For many, like this man, Love WAS scary.  And for those whom it still is, until healed, it will remain so.  When this is the case, people then chose relationships that reenact the model of love they are most familiar with- and sometimes find partners with whom they feel safe with but empty.   The lyric from O.A.R..’s song shattered “all I can feel is the realness I’m faking” speaks to that reality.

Yet the lie (false self) can not become the truth no matter how hard one tries to make it so and the call to authenticity will always be there as long as we are alive and have air to breathe. Some have the courage to take a deep breath and answer it and some do not - but the “phone” will never stop ringing -even when silenced.  

It will not quit.

Rather it will wait patiently for you to surrender to the sound of the song your soul sings.

The man I shared the shuttle ride with did answer his call-at least professionally - as he changed careers and is now dedicated to helping people all over the world live in economic fairness and in alignment with the earth’s natural resources. The draw to the amazon was his therapy and his experiences with nature and people who live connected to nature and her rhythms, helped him connect to his own.

He writes about how Shamans literally saved his life. “Shamans”,  which means medicine men or women are healers of the mind, body and spirit.  

Therapists are too.

But if you are not quite ready to answer the phone call home to yourself, here’s a pre therapy tip that will prepare you to feel safe for the “some day” trip to your inner amazon.  Find a quiet place to sit or lie down and close your eyes. Bring one hand to your heart and another to your stomach. Scan your body for tension and see if all the aches, pains, tensions and knots would be willing to soften just a tiny bit- more if they’d like. Relax your jaw and allow yourself to breath in through your mouth without even trying to.  Just wait and yield to the breath when the body needs air and inhale. Then allow the exhale.

Repeat.

Repeat again.

And again and again.

That’s it.

It’s a simple surrender to the rhythm of your breath - and the rhythm of your soul, where all the answers to your questions live- patiently waiting to share their wisdom with you.

As the breath slows down, so will the mind. When that happens, you will soon begin to hear the sounds of the rich biodiversity of all the inner voices  and parts inside of you - which at first will feel scary. If that’s the case, just return to the breath and see if you can  trust that all the frightened, shamed, scared, angry, lonely, sad, should, no don’t, but I have to and any and all  parts  of you that constantly contradict each other -have valuable data for you to listen to. They all matter and they can all live in harmony inside of you when and only when you listen to them all and deny nothing of what they have to say. They will then guide you on your journey home to authenticity and your true self.  

That’s when love shifts from scary to rich, alive and exciting.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Finding Hope After Heartbreak Hacks

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Are You Feeling Stuck? Tips on how to clear up your inner traffic jam.



"With one breath, with one flow

you will know

Synchronicity" 

-"Synchronicity"- The Police

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Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (1875-1961) shared a story about a patient who once had a dream about an expensive piece of jewelry which she referred to as a golden scarab. Clinically, he was trying to help her get more connected to her heart, which her rational, logical, defensive mind protected her from, with good reason I am sure of. He struggled with her for quite some time and asked for a little help from the universe which he got on the day she talked about her dream.  As he listened to what she was describing, he heard a light tapping on his window.  He turned around and saw that it was a golden scarab beetle - which were widely revered in ancient Egypt. He pointed this out to his patient who quickly made the connection between her inner world being mirrored by the outerworld.  This synchronistic moment reportedly worked and the therapy began to help her.

 

“John” was a client I had been working on and off with for several years.  Normally on time for session, he arrived twenty minutes late, seemingly aggravated.  ‘Sorry” he said as he plopped himself on my couch, “I’ve been stuck in traffic for over an hour”. “John” had been feeling frustrated with many things in his life, one of which was an out of state job that he desperately wanted and had been in the works for over a year now. It seemed that each time the company got close to making him an offer, they would tell him that they didn’t have to go ahead yet, but encouraged him to hang in there with them.  Trying to ignore his immediate experience of frustration, he dove into reporting on all the recent developments or lack thereof in his life.

 

“Being stuck in traffic really sucks” I said, to which he paused, nodded his head and looked at me.  “Can you feel the frustration in your body? “ I asked.  

 

“Yes, but I really just want to forget about it”, he responded.

 

“Of course you do” I said, “but why not take a moment to just acknowledge it and see what happens?”.  

 

He agreed.  He closed his eyes and focussed on the tension in his neck and shoulders. As he followed his breath, his frustration turned to anger and then softened to a profound sadness.  He acknowledged how helpless he felt regarding his current life circumstances and wished things could change.  We spent the rest of the session holding that as he grieved his sense of helplessness.  By the end of the appointment, there was an alchemical shift in the room. Though the therapy in and of itself couldn’t do much to change the external issues in his outer life, his inner life dramatically shifted when he discovered self compassion.  

 We joked as he left that evening hoping the traffic jam would be cleared up by now so that he could have an easy ride home.  “It will be what it will be” he said, smiling as he walked out the door.

Two weeks later, John arrived early for his appointment.  I opened my office door to see him seated in the waiting room grinning from ear to ear.  “Guess what happened?” he asked as he entered my office?

  “You tell me” I responded as I waited to hear his news.

“They made me an offer last week.  I will be moving out of town and starting my new job in two months”.

He had his golden scarab moment and his inner traffic jam cleared.


Whether or not one buys into Jung’s theory of synchronicity doesn’t matter.  Taking the time to sit compassionately with all of one’s parts and unburdening the pain inside does.  

Why?

Because it help us to better manage the inevitable traffic jams we all experience and then find new routes to travel on in our lives.


 







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FInding Hope after heartbreak hacks

Not only can you survive heartbreak, you can learn to thrive in your life because of it!

Can Everyday be an Opening Day with Your Partner? 5 Strategies for a Winning Season of Love.

“Oh, put me in coach, I’m ready to play today.”  John Fogerty

By Maura A. Matarese, M.A. LMHC, R.Y.T.

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Opening Day began with a bang this year. Tom Brady threw out the first pitch. Rob Gronkowski playfully stole his Super Bowl LI jersey. The pair chased each other cat-and-mouse style all the way to shallow right field. And most importantly, the Red Sox won.

 

It doesn’t get much better than that, in sports and in love.  Yet many people find themselves lost in the field of disillusionment when the excitement of Opening Day with their partner wears off. Not knowing if they can end their losing streak, they agonize over whether or not their love can last.  Why can’t every day be Opening Day, they bemoan?  In every relationship, there really is only one Opening Day.  However, if a couple can come to understand some basic plays in the field of love, then it’s very possible, should they have both the will and desire, to have many winning seasons together. 


So what are some of those basic plays?

 

  1.   First, understand your attachment style: How you were loved when you were young is how you love as an adult.  Some people need to feel close all the time; others need more space and some feel anxious, ambivalent or even avoidant when there is too much or too little of either one. Most people are drawn to others whose attachment style feels in sync with their own. 

  2.   Heal your inner attachment.  Those who have a secure inner attachment and got just the right amount of closeness and space as a child tend to fare better in long-term relationships.  Those who didn’t get enough of what they needed often put the responsibility on the other to somehow make up for it. That’s when the fighting and disillusionment begins.  Remember that you are the only person who can make up for it. 

  3.  Know that it’s not possible for one person to fulfill 100 percent of what you need all the time. The other person will eventually fall off the pedestal and let you down.  When couples learn to recover from the errors in play they both make, they become better players together.  Learning to give yourself what you need and getting back up after you fall down time and time again makes winning together possible.

  4.   Honestly assess your willingness to continue playing: Sometimes people outgrow each other.  Not all relationships last through the seasons of a lifetime. Many couples stagnate as they experience their ambivalence about staying together. Some work through it and rediscover their Opening Day excitement and commitment to playing through this season and the next. Others decide it’s better to leave or even switch teams. 

  5.  Find the courage to know and do what’s right for you. The rules of dating, mating and relating are changing as serial monogamy and even polyamory (an open relationship) have become the new, albeit minor league options in town. They’re not for everyone, but do offer viable options for some.


Now that Opening Day has come and gone, let’s see if the Sox have what it takes to have a winning season.  And if your Opening Day has come and gone, then you will soon discover that too.  Regardless, play on! 

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finding hope after heartbreak hacks

Not only can you survive heartbreak, you can learn how to thrive in your life because of it!