Friday, April 27, 2012

Don't Let Your Expectations Disappoint You

Imagine the following scenario.

You’ve met someone and you just clicked. You’ve seen each other a few times and it seems to get better each time. Your expectations start to build and you think this could be it! This person could be the one! 

Then – Bam! The other person disappears without a word. You’re left wondering what the heck just happened. You’re sad and also mad at yourself because you allowed yourself to be vulnerable for the first time in a long time, and you fear that this episode may be the impetus for a retreat back behind your self-imposed walls. 

Now, you MIGHT have believed that you were experiencing the beginning of love, but this is not how love looks. 

Love doesn’t run away, and it is not so disrespectful that it leaves without an explanation. Moreover, true love does not happen over the course of a few dates; it takes time to take root and grow. 

In truth, it is the unfulfillment of your expectations that will get you every time. What brings the most sorrow in life is when reality is vastly different from the picture in your head of what it was supposed to look like. And you know how much I dislike the word “should” and the phrase “supposed to.”

When you meet someone to whom you really feel a connection, I know it is sometimes hard to keep your excitement and expectations in check. And if things go wrong, it’s also human nature to try to figure out if you did anything wrong. 

Having said that, it is important to let a relationship unfold in the manner that was meant to be. That doesn’t mean you can’t lovingly encourage it along. Just don’t blindly jump to Phase 10 when you’re really only in Phase 1.

Here is an excerpt from Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story that illustrates what can happen when you harbor expectations and they are subsequently dashed.


 Do not make promises you cannot keep
 They create expectations, and 
a broken expectation is the stuff of broken hearts

 You say you’ll call, you’ll write
I sit by the phone, watch the mail 

 But those were empty promises, and my heart turns cold 

 Each broken promise is like a brick added to 
the wall around my soft, believing heart 

 The next person who makes a promise will have to 
chip away at my hardened heart for me to believe it will come true 

 Your words are powerful and create an energy of their own 

 It can be a positive energy and create joy, or 
it can be lies and create sadness and disappointment 

 Be wary of what you say, and 
have your words and actions always be the same  

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Cycle of Life: Loss and Rebirth

I “bill” myself as a grief and relationship coach, and I thought I would take the time to explain why I chose those two areas of concentration. In truth, I believe everything in life really comes down to these two topics.

Let’s consider grief first.

Grief, in some form, is with us from the moment we are born as we take the first steps toward our ultimate destination.

Life is actually a constant and natural progression of loss and subsequent rebirth. This is clearly reflected in nature by the endless change of seasons.

Loss takes many forms; it can be big and small.

For example, as the school year is ending, graduation may be on many a person’s mind. We don’t usually think of this milestone as a loss and rebirth, but I believe it is.

Each year, school age children move from one grade to another. They leave well-loved teachers behind; friends might move away; and a transition to a new school may be encountered from elementary to middle school to high school and onto college. In these instances, each “goodbye” is a loss. However, on the other side, there is a hello to a gain or a move into a new time and place in one’s life.

One factor in determining how successful we are in life, is how well we can handle the multitude of transitions experienced over the span of a lifetime. Responding vs. reacting to these changes tends to help them pass more smoothly.

My next area of concentration is relationships.

When I muse about the meaning of life, for me, it always comes down to my relationships, of which I have both personal and professional ones.

In the end, will it really matter what size house I had, what kind of car I drove, or if I got to travel around the world?

I think not. 

Stephen Levine said it perfectly: “If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?”

The old cliché, “home is where the heart is,” rings true for me, for I am at the center of my life. This is not a negative egocentric thought, for it is a healthy ego that propels us to accomplish our goals. So, the relationship I have with myself is of utmost importance. It determines my perspective – how I see my world, as well as the world-at-large and those who inhabit it.

All my other relationships radiate out in concentric circles around this main orb. Each of us spends a lifetime working on them. I’ve captioned just a few in the picture below.

As we move through life, people move in and out of it. We experience loss but also joy in new relationships or the success of already established ones.

So, we’ve come full circle back to grief. And to resolve your grief, it is important to understand the cycle of life – the relationship that all things and every person has with his/her life and that each has a designated season to live.

Relationships and grief … to me, that’s what it is all about!

If you want help working through your grief or with your relationships, I offer lots of books on both subjects as well as coaching. Visit my website for a full listing. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Are You In Love or In Love With Love?

Has your status read “Single” for quite some time now, and you feel ready to look for new love?

Stepping into dating awakens your senses that have remained dormant when you were without a special someone.

After a long hiatus, upon connecting with a prospective partner, you start to ‘remember’ what it feels like to be in love – or at least in like. And it feels great!!

Your new beau may be showering you with attention; telling you how wonderful you are; and, very soon, professing his love.

It’s very tempting to get caught up in this whirlwind of good feelings. However, when you’re in the midst of a whirlwind, your vision can become blurred. Red flags may be flying, but either you can’t see them or you’re ignoring them.

It feels like the sweet smell of love is in the air and you want to breathe it in. For the first time in a long time, you allow yourself to be vulnerable to another. There’s a whole lot of sharing and caring going on, and the two of you are in constant contact.

Perhaps, after a few months (or it might even be weeks), the “winds” die down. Contact is a little less frequent. Affirmations of love are a little slower in coming. In general, there’s a pullback.

You might wonder, “What did I do?” or “When did things change?”

You’re confused – probably a little hurt, too.

So, what happened?

Well, if this was your first foray into dating after the loss of a partner, you may have been infatuated with love vs. truly loving your prospective partner.

When you are able to look past your emotions and reflect on the situation, you might come to the following conclusion.

You actually loved the way you were being loved because this made you feel so great about yourself, and this was a way you haven’t felt in a long time (romantically speaking).

So consider the idea that when the loving interactions stopped, you might not have really missed the other person but only the good feelings you derived by being the recipient of love and desire.

This is one of the reasons why it is important to take your time when dating. Chemistry is terrific, but real love takes time to develop.

Chemical reactions can look like they are going to work, but eventually the lab blows up! Slow and steady, adding in ingredients a little at a time (i.e. trust, honesty, steadfastness), can ensure a better result for your ‘experiment.’ After all, aren’t all budding relationships experiments until they metamorphose into something real?

So my best advice to beginning daters is 
“Take It Slow – Take It Slow – Take It Slow!”

Friday, April 6, 2012

Align Your Goals To Find Love After Loss

How aligned are you with your goal of finding a new romantic partner?

Sally Stamp, a leadership coach, suggests that “when we explore alignment, it may help to think in metaphor about the steering on your car.

When your steering is aligned, you can keep the vehicle on the road with a slight touch on the wheel. If you happen to hit a curb or other road hazard, your steering may suddenly be less effective, and the car can have a tendency to pull to one side or the other.

When the car is out of alignment, driving can be more difficult and even dangerous.”

Let’s apply this to the world of dating.

If your steering, or inner guidance, is aligned with your goals then the road that can lead you to success in the romantic world is clearly outlined.

An aligned state of mind might be as follows.

1. Your eyes are wide open, which enables you to recognize all the opportunities that lie in front of you.

2. Your focus is also honed, which allows you to take the next step, which is acting on these recognized opportunities.

3. You are also willing to make the time and exert the appropriate effort that seeking a life partner involves.

4. You have a positive attitude and KNOW that there is someone for you. You are willing to allow your story to unfold vs. forcing it to happen on your timetable.

An unaligned state of mind might be as follows.

1. You walk with your head down, unaware of and oblivious to the everyday wonders that surround you, which could include a prospective mate.

2. Your words and actions are not in sync. That is, you say you want a new partner, but your actions belie your words. For example, this could include making excuses to push all prospects away.

3. You have not worked through your last relationship and still hold either positive or negative attachments to it. This can anchor you in the past, causing guilt to arise, or you may drag past issues into new relationships.

4. You have a negative attitude and believe that you will never find a new partner. This can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Complete a self-evaluation to see where you fall on this issue.

Are you aligned or misaligned? Determine if your attitude needs a minor tune-up or a major overhaul. If you really want to find a life partner and you’re not having any luck in doing so, you must take action and be willing to do the emotional, physical, spiritual and mental work it requires.