Be Who You Are

Who Are You? by StudioTempura
Who Are You?, a photo by StudioTempura on Flickr.

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.”

I love this quote by Margaret Young!

I think this quote stands out to me so much because this is what I do. It happens to be how I make my living, but for me and for my clients it’s so much more than that.

I help people to discover who they are. Embrace who they are. Learn to love who they are. Find comfort and stability and pride in who they are. And then, it’s amazing, the rest, what they said they wanted… it just comes.

Are you ready to discover who you are?

Are You “Should-ing” All Over Your Relationship?


I am in the middle of reading an amazing book, I Thought it Was Just Me (but it’s not): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy and Power by Brene Brown.  Brene Brown is a researcher who has spent the last 10 years studying women and shame.  In her book, Brene primarily focuses on how shame effects, influences women.  For me, as a couple’s counselor, I can’t help but make the connections between shame and relationships.

One aspect that Brene explores, that specifically relates to relationships, is how shame is all about perception; shame is how we see ourselves, and our relationships, from other people’s perspective.  In other words, we base what we “should” and/or “shouldn’t”do around what other people might think of us.

“The Should-ing”

We all have “should’s” in our lives.  We start learning them before we can even talk.  We learn ways that we “should” eat, play, wash, talk, study, work, manage money, raise our kids, clean our house, choose a car to drive, or a book to read, or a wine to purchase, or which extra activities we participate in, and even how to show our love and appreciate for others.  Really, the list could go on forever!  It becomes so second nature for us to “should” ourselves, that sometimes we forgot to stop and figure out if the “should” is even what we want.

I see this all the time with the couples I work with!  Both come into the relationship with their own “should’s” for what a successful/happy relationship looks like.  How could they not, right?  And when I ask them what they want in a relationship, they have a hard time answering, because they don’t know.

Often, we end up letting the desire to be seen as the hot, fun, most in love, magical, special, best, successful couple rule what we think we “should” do in our relationship.  Overtime, this creates disconnection and distance in our relationships, and soon our relationships becomes a “should do” like work, vs. a want to do.

The Good News

The good news is that we can change this!   Just like there isn’t one perfect profession for everyone, there isn’t one perfect relationship model for everyone either.  The best part of being in a relationship is that you get to create it to be whatever you want it to be!

What I mean by this….

Now, yes, there are some basic traits that successful relationships tend to have.  For example, John Gottman’s research has shown that a couple’s “ability to resolve the conflicts that are inevitably in any relationship,” directly relates to the fulfillment and strength of the relationship.  So while the skill of conflict resolution is important in relationships, how you resolve conflict in your relationship is up to you.

The HOW is yours to change, create, make, tailor to you and your relationship.

It’s part of what makes relationships great, and yet we tend to forget this simple concept.  We get to create the relationship we want!  If you want to have taco Tuesday’s you can.  If you want Santa to visit your kids twice a year, guess what, you can.  If you want to plan in separate vacations each year, again, you can.  You want to resolve conflict by talking with funny accents….you can!

How you might be “should-ing” on your relationship

When our idea’s of what our relationship “should” look like, or how we “should” handle conflict, or what our partner “should” do for us comes from how we want to be perceived by others vs. what works for us, we end up “shoulding” all over our relationship.  (And let me tell you, “shoulding” feels just the way it’s similarly sounding friend {wink} feels when it happens to you!)

Here’s a simple way to figure out some of the places you may be “should-ing” on your relationship without even knowing it…

  1. List out all the things you do in your relationship.  Include work, kids, money, entertainment, vacations, house chores…. anything and every area you can think of.
  2. Put a check by all the ones you do because you feel somehow, or in some way, like you “should” do.
  3. Now, circle the ones that are left that you do just because you love them.
  4. Ask yourself if this list of circled items they way you want to live your life?  Is it enough to fulfill you?

If not, stop”should-ing” on your relationship, and start creating the relationship of your dreams, literally!





How to Make Your Partner Feel Loved


In my last post we explored how the Golden Rule can actually be harming your relationship because it assumes that your partner wants and appreciates the same things you do.

Now, when I share this concept with my clients, most totally get it, and yet have serious difficulties applying this concept to their relationship.   It may take a little effort, but this is one of the most helpful concepts to become skilled at understanding for your relationship: it’s not up to your partner to learn the way you express love, it’s up to you to learn the way your partner feels love.

Why is this distinction so important?

Understanding and applying this seemingly subtle distinction is very important in relationships because when you do things the way your partner experiences love it fills him/her up, but when you ask your partner to experience love from your way, you actually deplete them.

There are already so many life stressors’ that cause stress and tax us, especially in our relationships.  Bills, in-laws, cleaning, work, friends, children, ex’s can all take their toll and leave us feeling depleted and tired.  It’s normal, natural, and happens in every relationship.  But here’s the thing- when you are feeling depleted and tired, how much tolerance do you have?  How strong is your ability to compromise?  To understand?  To communicate?  For most of us, these areas are all significantly decreased by being depleted and tired; yet our irritability, short temper, anger, and hurt skyrocket.

Now think about how you handle the life’s stressors when you are well rested, happy, and content.  How much stronger is your ability to compromise, communicate, and understand?

Running on a full tank vs. an empty one

It’s like with your car, you’ve got to take time to fill up the gas tank before you run out of gas to keep your car running.   Showing your partner appreciation in a way they feel it, is like filling up their gas tank.  It gives them fuel to more easily handle the stressors in life, and to better navigate the waters of your relationship.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to help kick start you understanding of this concept

How do you express love to others, especially your partner?

What makes you feel the most loved and cared about?

How does your partner express their love?

What makes them feel the most loved and cared about?

Have you ever asked your partner what makes them feel the most loved?

What forms of love are you most comfortable expressing?  What forms are you most uncomfortable expressing?

How do these (answers from above) influence your assumptions of what your partner likes?