Love & Heartbreak

by Helen Williams

During the month of November, this Mindful ME workshop will be focusing on relationships – all kinds of relationships, not just couples, from a Mindfulness perspective.  This means looking at how we ‘see’ relating, how we have learned to believe, experience, know and live within the context of relating both to ourselves and others.

After a lifetime of working in this field, I know that this means we will be talking about LOVE!  How we have experienced, and how we yearn to experience, connection with another.  It is commonly a very difficult field of inquiry, fraught with tension, and difficult, uncomfortable emotions and lots and lots of vigorous defence!

Not one of us will escape this heart opening, heart stopping, roller-coaster of emotional experience as we search for warm and loving connected awareness.  Each of us will discover that opening to love immediately equates to fearing the loss of love and for many, experiencing this loss slams the door tightly shut on our hearts.  Opening again requires the mammoth task of healing the break soundly enough to be able to negotiate again the fear that being loved may once more bring painful dislocation.  Sound familiar?

Exploring this terrain with a new focus, in a safe environment with adequate support can help us find ourselves both opening deeper within and exploring farther beyond our previous comfort zones.

Come and join with us as we explore the heights and griefs of conscious, loving connections, and discover the growth and richness that undefended love can bring.

Learn more about our upcoming Conscious Relationships workshop in November here.

Book your spot on the workshop by contacting us here. 

Learn more about Helen’s work with relationships by meeting her in her bio. 

 

artwork: Ivan Guaderrama

It takes a Village to Raise a Relationship

by Helen Williams 

There is a wonderful quote from Esther Perel, a Belgian psychotherapist and author which is particularly pertinent to those of us living as expats.

Esther Perel said “Today we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity.  At the same time we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling.  Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?’”

In many ways, this quote sums up a lot of the couples work that I encounter – this turning to one person for all of our wants, our needs, our wishes, our hopes, our dreams and our life.  This notion that one person could, can and ought to supply all our emotional needs is what so often leads to ‘good’ relationships crumbling.  I often have the sense that many couples would flourish more smoothly if they were planted in or near their familiar roots – that is, surrounded by their extended families, friendship groups, and other familiar people who have known them over time.

This, of course, would bring accountability for connectedness, for personal boundaries and our own expectations for predictable behaviours.  It is when we lose this familiar base of personal accountability that the test of our own unpredictable behaviour arrives.  If nobody knows us, then we have no one watching to help us keep a check on our reactions and behaviours.

For many young expats, this journey of self-accountability can just be passed on to our new partner and by believing that they are responsible for all our wants, hopes and needs we can then blame them for our relationship failure.

It takes a village to raise a relationship too! I believe it’s really important to feed, nourish and nurture varieties of relationships, not just our couple relationship.  There is great strength in diversity and different age groups and in the recognition of others watching our world with us.

The Other as a Mirror

By Isabel Galiardo
The only way to overcome the vicious cycles we create in our relationships is to understand that our partner is mirroring our shadow aspects. By this, I mean our blind spots, aspects of ourselves that we are not aware of, as they are avoided because they somehow create pain and contradict our self-image.
It is good to know that our relationships serve the purpose of healing the old wounds that we carry inside of ourselves. Our partner is not responsible for fixing, rescuing or saving us but he/she can contribute immensely to our growth. How? By giving us the opportunity to look at our own ‘reflection’ in the dynamics we create together. In order to experience our partner as a mirror, we need to shift from a codependent relationship to a mindful one.
We can use conflict as an opportunity to get to know ourselves better, to understand the disowned members of our internal family and welcome them. If I don’t accept my neediness it is likely that I will judge the other when he/she is dependent and vulnerable. If I have a strong need for pleasing people in order to feel loved and included I will get frustrated and let them down when their behaviour is not reciprocated.
Being in a conscious relationship requires paying attention and staying present. It is as if all of a sudden we become detectives of our own psyches. We follow the clues. We shift from autopilot to a mindful state. In order to do so, we can start by bringing our awareness to our bodies when we react to a comment, or to our partner’s behaviour. By acknowledging that a trigger can activate our wounds but most of the times are not the real cause of our painful emotion, we learn to stay in touch with whatever arises without immediately reacting. This choice implies the willingness to embark on a journey of self-inquiry that refers to oneself again and again rather than pointing our finger at the other. Instead of blaming the other person for our feelings, we own them. This allows us to express assertively rather than judgmentally and listen openly without having to go into defence mode.
‘’We want to be loved in a very particular way, one that soothes our emotional wounds from the past.’’ John Welwood

What is Codependency?

by Helen Williams

Understanding codependence is another part of the search for ourselves, the discovery of why and how we are lost and about to journey back home to a full and rich inner life.

Codependence is fundamentally about disordered and chaotic relationships.  We become codependent when we turn our responsibility for our life and happiness over to other people – to our partners, our family or our friends.

Codependence is often seen as learned behaviour which is expressed by dependencies on people and things outside ourselves which neglect and diminish our sense of self.

We become codependent when we focus so much outside ourselves that we lose touch with what is inside us – our beliefs, our thoughts, our feelings, choices, experiences, decisions, our wants, needs, our intuitions.  These all form our inner life, the major part of our consciousness.  When we believe that someone or something outside of ourselves can give us fulfillment and happiness, then we look for people, places, things, behaviour or experiences for this fulfillment and neglect ourselves.

If you are interested in learning more about codependency come and join us for a discussion on Sunday 10 December where we will explore together what being codependent means to each of us and why it is such a common human condition. Contact us to book. 

I Just Need Some Space

by Helen Williams

As a couples’ therapist, my experience is that “I just need some space”, has always been a well-worn phrase, often used by couples to describe their need to escape from each other.  Commonly it brings fear to the partner hearing it because it infers that something is wrong with their relationship, that being apart may create greater distance and bring the relationship to an end.

Parents often use the same phrase to describe their need for some timeout from 24-hour childcare, even though this may be the life we have chosen, it can at times become all-consuming and separates us from the essence of ourselves.  Finding that space, even if only briefly, can bring us a sense of welcome reconnection to our own sense of wellbeing.

Children too need to be given the space to be, without direction, without guidance and without the interference of their parents, siblings or other children.  Teaching children the importance of time out for themselves to replenish is a very healthy way of teaching independence and self-hood.

The need for space is deeply inherent within all of us and when used well, finding and giving ourselves some space becomes the way we can discover the deeper connection and relationship with our own inner knowing that intuitively we are all searching for. Needing space is another way of describing our need to connect with the core of ourselves – to rest, restore, revitalise, repair and relax into the sense that we can be held, supported and released from our busyness and the pressure of stress.

Mindful ME are delighted to offer retreat experiences that enable a connection to your own inner voice.  Our retreats are designed to de-stress, unwind and bring clarity and calm. Our trusted team of professionals have the knowledge, training, and experience to provide this. Learn more about our retreats here or contact us to book. 

On Longing

By Kristine Enger

What is this yearning that we feel in our body, heart, and soul, for something, for someone? For a deeper soul connection, a soulmate, a twin flame. The longing to be seen, understood and loved. To feel completely safe. Where does this longing come from and will we ever find that elusive, missing piece so we will feel complete, whole and at peace? How can it be that when be truly believe we have met the perfect partner, after a while, a loneliness slowly starts to seep into our awareness, just when we thought we had it all.

Are we ultimately looking for ourselves, to express and be who we truly are? Is our divine counterpart the image reflected back to us when we look at ourselves in the mirror? Could it be that we are living our lives through our reflected self? And that it is our real self that we ache for, the one calling us home? Can we ever be whole and live without longing? A deep acceptance of the present moment with all its unanswered questions and messy situations will strangely soothe us. For a while. It is time to rest. And we will momentarily call off the search. Until we start again, fuelled by that very same longing, yearning for that deeper connection, venturing further and further afield into the unknown, knowing our heart is the compass, but reading it wrong like so many times in the past. Longing is what makes us feel alive, vulnerable and strong. It is calling us to grow; it is our connection to the mystery, to the Divine.

Self-Reflection

by Helen Williams

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Who are you looking at?

Who is looking back at you?

Who are you looking for?

On some level or another, all of us are seeking ourselves whether we know it or not.

We all have beliefs, ideas, thoughts and attitudes which govern our thinking, our knowing and our living. Changing our thinking, our long held beliefs can dramatically change our daily lives.

Try looking at it this way…..

“We live in a house of mirrors, and think we are looking out the windows”

Fritz Perls

Take a moment to think about what this sentence on self-reflection means for you.

It is talking about how we perceive ourselves and our surroundings – how we fail to see that life reflects us back to ourselves. Because we keep on looking out the windows, many of us take forever to realize that we are looking at ourselves mirrored back to us by others and by the events of our life.

If we see that our negative feelings towards others are reflecting back to ourselves our own sense of negativity then we can do something to help ourselves forward. By continuously looking out the window and putting the ‘blame’ on others we fail to utilize all the power in the moment.

Changing our perception of the problem by seeing the reality as it is reflected by us and to us, brings empowerment, change, discovery and consciousness.

As we learn to look for that reflection in the mirror rather than to project our senses outwards we gain a sense of responsibility for our own lives. Our authentic self begins to shine through.

This journey towards authenticity is not for the faint hearted! There are monsters hiding around every corner and they are mostly the monsters of our own making – our egoic self and all its responses to our lived experiences. A sense of authenticity is one of our deepest psychological needs, and people are hungrier for it than ever. Even so, being true to oneself is not for the faint of heart. Join us in courageously connecting with our authentic selves in our Authentic Living course on Thursday mornings.

 

“Who we are looking for is who is looking”

Francis of Assisi

The Geography of our Love Maps

by Isabel Galiardo

When we love, our whole past rises up to our soul and resounds in it again. That is why love has such a high healing potential because by loving consciously we can heal our old wounds.

We carry an invisible love-map inside of us. It was designed in our early years when we absorbed all sorts of messages about love through our own experience of it. By the time we reached adolescence we had integrated a large number of assumptions, fears, preconceived ideas and expectations about the matter.

These beliefs define the type of personality that attracts us and the dynamics we create in our relationships. A belief is not just a thought, it is a whole cosmogony, it is the way I perceive myself and the world around me.

Because they are ingrained in our subconscious mind we believe blindly in them, they are absolute truths that rule our lives.They keep us repeating old familiar patterns all over again.

Notions such as:

’”I do not deserve to be loved, I’m not good enough.’’

” I can not be alone, I would not survive. ”

“I’m afraid of commitment, I do not want to be controlled.”

” If I trust and open up, they will hurt me again. “

When we learn to explore our feelings with openness and curiosity we realize they are clues to the geography of our love maps. And that is when the magical shift occurs, we begin to take ownership of our happiness and wellbeing instead of expecting our partners to do so for us.

Book individual sessions with Isabel by emailing info@mindfulme.me or contacting us. You can also join Helen and Isabel’s Couples, Communication and Codependency workshop to explore love maps and more.

An Unusually Common Couple’s Communication Issue

by Helen Williams

When I’m working with couples, I often have the opportunity of watching their ‘couple talk” – their typical and most common way of addressing each other.   I get to notice a very familiar pattern which appears to creep in unnoticed for many, many couples and yet often becomes the deep wound which brings couples seeking help.

They name it as a “communication issue” but seldom have the words to adequately explain it.  Women will say “I feel like I’m never heard” and men will say “I can never do anything right.”

This is how it typically plays out:

Most often it is the woman who says, “You never listen to me, you never spend enough time with me, you never notice me and you treat me like I don’t matter.”

When I ask the male partner what he heard her say, he usually replies, “It doesn’t matter what I do it’s never good enough, I’m continually criticised and told off, I feel like I can never get it right.”

If you look at it, it sounds like a complainer talking to a fix it person.  For many men, a woman asking for attention sounds like a person with a problem requiring fixing.  Yet, if you ask the woman, she will often say I don’t want to be fixed or repaired or solved like a problem, I just need you to listen to me.

The main reason why it appears impossible for her partner to listen to her is simply the use of the word, YOU!

Try the same conversation again now after eliminating the use of the word you.

“I feel unheard. I’d love us to spend more time together, I need to be noticed, I’m often lonely.”

The reply can be more easily, “I didn’t realise, how can we change this?” because there is less criticism, censure and judgment when there is no YOU.

Why not take note of this in your daily conversation and make a change for clearer, more open communication?  Write yourselves a sign that says NO YOU and place it on the fridge. It works well with children too!

Learning to Love

I admit I have been searching for love ever since I can remember. I have looked for it in novels, in movies, in friendship, in romantic partners, in motherhood and in my spiritual quest. After years of searching I have come to the conclusion that it is the true purpose of our existence.

I believe this planet is nothing but a school of love. Our biographical events are different scenarios for learning about love. Throughout our lives we experience all sorts of vicissitudes and adventures, ups and downs, crises and ecstasies that help us explore love in its most diverse manifestations.

I have suffered the absence of love and love’s betrayal. I have suffered from unrequited love and the fear of losing it, and each one of these experiences has taught me something about myself and my capacity to love. Every conflict, every disappointment, has given me the opportunity to discover more about my wounds, my insecurities and my lack of self love. The pain and the need for answers have brought me to my inner search, widening my heart and making it more encompassing.

When we love we become vulnerable and exposed and that is when life penetrates and teaches us. Through our relationships we learn to love more and better. We develop our ability to give, to expand our own boundaries and to conquer our own demons. Love chisels us, shapes us, polishes us.

As the poet Gibran says:

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.

Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Isabel works with couples and individuals. If you would like to book a private session with Isabel please contact us today.