Tools for RelatÂing â itâs not enough to have some knowlÂedge about relaÂtionÂshipsâ¦ you need tools and techÂniques to excel at relatÂing.
Hereâs another sample chapter from my relationships book, The. Best. Relationship. Ever. Enjoy!
If youâre lookÂing for a partÂner that âfits you,â you owe it to yourÂself to read my book. Find Your PerÂfect PartÂner Itâs availÂable as a KinÂdle book here, for $2.99 US.
Two of my othÂer books, This EndÂless Moment 2nd. ediÂtion and Half Asleep in the BudÂdha Hall, are also availÂable as KinÂdle books, same price. Those two are also availÂable from AmaÂzon as paperÂbacks.
The easÂiÂest way to check out all of the books is to go to our pubÂlishÂing site, The Phoenix CenÂtre Press.
Last week, I described my book, The. Best. RelaÂtionÂship. Ever.
Hereâs The Chapter, âTools For Relating.â This chapter will give you a good idea of the âmeatâ of the book.
Chapter Four: Tools for Relating
Elegant, Intimate Relating (EIR)
EIR is a strucÂture for livÂing deeply and fulÂly with othÂers
With EIR, nothÂing is takÂen for grantÂed. EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing requires the active parÂticÂiÂpaÂtion of two sepÂaÂrate and disÂtinct beings, both of whom are dedÂiÂcatÂed to rigÂorÂous self-exploÂration. Each is using the relaÂtionÂship to gain depth and breadth of knowlÂedge about the only thing each can know: themÂselves.
EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing is enactÂed at the direct meetÂing of two whole perÂsons. I call this âmeetÂing at the boundÂaryâ â I am still I, you are still you, and we meet to explore, to reveal, to be open and vulÂnerÂaÂble through honÂest revÂeÂlaÂtion.
The revÂeÂlaÂtion has to be authenÂtic
In EIR, you are choosÂing to be transÂparÂent with your partÂner. EIR is not about sayÂing nice things, not about manipÂuÂlatÂing your partÂner to see or do things your way. Nor is it about hidÂing the fact that you have a range of feelÂings and emoÂtions âin there.â TransÂparÂent authenÂticÂiÂty is choosÂing to let yourÂself be seen â as you are, and how you are.
EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing hapÂpens only in the Here and Now
Itâs not about your stoÂries. StoÂries, at best, serve as a frameÂwork for true vulÂnerÂaÂbilÂiÂty.
VulÂnerÂaÂbilÂiÂty is expressed by letÂting out what is going on for you, right now, with no excusÂes. This is me, right now. And part of âme, right now,â is the emoÂtion that is hapÂpenÂing inside of me. Not descripÂtions of the emoÂtions, not blamÂing someÂone for the emoÂtions, but rather the emoÂtions themÂselves.
Once you âget this,â youâll also notice that emoÂtions are fleetÂing. I can be sad, then bored, then weepy, then laugh-filled, then have the feelÂing of ânothÂing much,â but only if I do not cling to my stoÂry, a.k.a. thinkÂing too much.
Un-guardÂing yourÂself means being willÂing to own and share your in-the-moment realÂiÂty, withÂout filÂterÂing. Being un-guardÂed means speakÂing your truth â the truth that comes from âHere is what is so for meâ.â
The point of EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing is to clear the decks so that you can shift what is not workÂing. LetÂting go of guardÂedÂness gives us the opporÂtuÂniÂty to see how we are strucÂturÂing our stoÂries to stay stuck. From there, you choose to do someÂthing new and refreshÂing. Itâs not meant as an exerÂcise in self-aggranÂdizeÂment, and emphatÂiÂcalÂly is not a game to stay stuck, while preÂtendÂing to âget it.â
Un-guardÂing means loosÂenÂing the filÂters, and expressÂing yourÂself as you are, with focus and clarÂiÂty.
The BeginÂning of EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing
The Tools secÂtion of the book describes the âhowâ of an EIR. Hereâs the âwhat.â
Engaged IntiÂmaÂcy, first of all, requires a diaÂlogue agreeÂment
Let me whip out my crysÂtal ball and declare that your past relaÂtionÂship failÂures were caused by poor, faulty, or non-exisÂtent verÂbal comÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion. OthÂer probÂlems were: non-verÂbal comÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion, magÂiÂcal thinkÂing, lack of physÂiÂcal intiÂmaÂcy, and lack of self-responÂsiÂbilÂiÂty.
We are going to estabÂlish a diaÂlogue agreeÂment, and then disÂcuss how to enact it.
The DiaÂlogue AgreeÂment
âI have decidÂed to comÂmit myself to open, honÂest, and vulÂnerÂaÂble comÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion. I will use a ComÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion ModÂel, self-responÂsiÂble lanÂguage, and will keep my boundÂaries open and flexÂiÂble. I will be in diaÂlogue with you for no less than 30 minÂutes per day, and when issues canÂnot be resolved withÂin that time-frame, I agree to make as much time as necÂesÂsary to resolve the issue, with no comÂproÂmise. I comÂmit to keep you totalÂly informed about what is going on for me: my stoÂries, my games, my evaÂsions. I will keep you comÂpleteÂly informed about my feelÂings, my attracÂtions, and my othÂer relaÂtionÂships. I do so not for perÂmisÂsion, but to facilÂiÂtate clarÂiÂty.â
The PhysÂiÂcal ConÂtact AgreeÂment
GivÂen that weâre disÂcussing your PriÂmaÂry RelaÂtionÂship, physÂiÂcal conÂtact is a givÂen. Weâve notÂed that Engaged IntiÂmaÂcy is also availÂable for othÂer relaÂtionÂships. I think itâs imporÂtant to estabÂlish physÂiÂcal paraÂmeÂters, even withÂin the PriÂmaÂry RelaÂtionÂship. Thus:
âI comÂmit to using physÂiÂcal conÂtact as anothÂer way of explorÂing my emoÂtions, blockÂages, and my conÂnecÂtion with you. I accept that physÂiÂcal conÂtact is an end unto itself â that it is not priÂmarÂiÂly a means to havÂing sex. I will be open and honÂest about my need for emoÂtionÂal expresÂsion, and will use safe methÂods of expressÂing my emoÂtions thorÂoughÂly. I will ask for what I want as regards physÂiÂcal conÂtact, recÂogÂnizÂing that what I want ânow,â may not be what I want âlatÂer.â I will invite BodyÂwork presÂsure on âstuckâ parts of my body, and offer to do the same for you. I am open to expressÂing whatÂevÂer feelÂings arise through physÂiÂcal conÂtact, will stay focussed on myself, and will feel my feelÂings fulÂly.â
This becomes the frameÂwork for Engaged IntiÂmaÂcy
From this baseÂline, which you are free to add to, but not reduce, we begin the process of buildÂing intiÂmaÂcy and presÂence. I would sugÂgest that you look careÂfulÂly at the above AgreeÂments, and then read through the âToolsâ chapÂters to folÂlow. Once you have a grasp on how this all fits togethÂer, sit with your partÂner, begin right here with the AgreeÂments, and strucÂture your own agreeÂments.
You will want to write out what you are agreeÂing to, and then sign it. RememÂber: all you can agree to is what you will do. This is not a conÂdiÂtionÂal, âIf you do this, then Iâll do thatâ kind of agreeÂment. You are makÂing the comÂmitÂment to yourÂself to act in a cerÂtain way, while in your partnerâs presÂence. Iâll be remindÂing you of that as we go along.
The 9 Tools
It is our belief that self-knowÂing hapÂpens best in your PriÂmaÂry RelaÂtionÂship. This relaÂtionÂship has as its keys: eleÂgant comÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion, vulÂnerÂaÂbilÂiÂty, (the willÂingÂness to open up) openÂness, (the willÂingÂness to take in) and intiÂmaÂcy (makÂing full, honÂest conÂtact.)
Through diaÂlogue, baseÂline paraÂmeÂters are set, in the folÂlowÂing two areas:
Engaged ComÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion â this is the minÂiÂmum requireÂment â that there be open, honÂest, and intiÂmate diaÂlogue. We proÂpose folÂlowÂing the basic ComÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion ModÂel described below â using it to dig deeply, and learn more of both âselfâ and âpartÂner.â
Engaged ConÂtact â after the above is estabÂlished, the couÂple creÂates levÂels of physÂiÂcal conÂtact. Itâs essenÂtial to creÂate flexÂiÂble boundÂaries in this area, and to immeÂdiÂateÂly disÂcuss areas of conÂfuÂsion / disÂcomÂfort.
WithÂin the âsafe handsâ of Engaged IntiÂmate, RelatÂing anyÂthing is posÂsiÂble. We have the opporÂtuÂniÂty to trust, to open, to be vulÂnerÂaÂble, and espeÂcialÂly, to explore our own darkÂness, in the presÂence of a partÂner who is a curiÂous, active parÂticÂiÂpant.
The folÂlowÂing 9 Tools form the basis for what is to folÂlow â we believe that this is the only way to achieve perÂsonÂal and relaÂtionÂal conÂtentÂment!
As I notÂed earÂliÂer, this book is seemÂingÂly about relaÂtionÂships, but itâs actuÂalÂly a self-develÂopÂment book. Self-work is the only way to engage with life, with othÂers, and with our way of being. Our relaÂtionÂships shift preÂciseÂly as much as we, as indiÂvidÂuÂals, shift.
What folÂlows are brief descripÂtions of the 9 Tools
Iâll flesh them out in latÂer chapÂters of this book. For now, let me sugÂgest some underÂstandÂings for each of these points, and how each applies to perÂsonÂal livÂing and EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing.
1. Total Honesty
Itâs imposÂsiÂble to have a rich and meanÂingÂful relaÂtionÂship while keepÂing secrets (âThe flaw of omisÂsion,â) or while lying (âThe flaw of comÂmisÂsion.â)
Many are the excusÂes for disÂhonÂesty:
- ~ âIâm an adult and I have a right to priÂvaÂcy.â
- ~â(S)he might get mad if I was honÂest about everyÂthing.â
- ~ âI just want to be me â no need to talk about it.â
- ~ âWhite lies arenât harmÂful.â
Being disÂhonÂest is a mini-betrayÂal. Itâs an indiÂcaÂtor that you donât trust your partÂner enough to share whatâs up for you, and are embarÂrassed about your actions.
We advoÂcate Total HonÂesty. And yes, someÂtimes being totalÂly honÂest is scary, or might lead to a proÂtractÂed disÂcusÂsion. But the truth is this: almost everyÂone who lies gets caught.
PerÂsonÂal: âIt is my intenÂtion to tell the truth, all the time. I recÂogÂnize that how âdeeply I goâ depends on who Iâm interÂactÂing with, but I will answer truthÂfulÂly, and be direct and clear with everyÂone.â
RelaÂtionÂal: âFrom this point on, my polÂiÂcy with you is Total HonÂesty. Iâll let you know what I am thinkÂing, how I am decidÂing, and what I am doing. I am not doing this for perÂmisÂsion, but rather to fosÂter intiÂmaÂcy and deepÂen our relaÂtionÂship.â
2. Being Present
PresÂence is about 2 things:
- ~ being in the moment, the Now, and
- ~ being focussed on what you are doing.
Most of us live our lives either in our heads (stoÂry-telling), or detached from our selves (numb.) Sort of ghosts, walkÂing.
Being in the Now helps us to stay focussed on the immeÂdiÂate sitÂuÂaÂtion, while adding litÂtle or no draÂma through stoÂryÂtelling or future proÂjecÂtions. This kind of presÂence allows us to deal with each sitÂuÂaÂtion as it occurs.
PerÂsonÂal: âI just tuned out and endÂed up imagÂinÂing all kinds of stoÂries that have nothÂing to do with the sitÂuÂaÂtion before me. Iâll just have a breath and come back to the present moment.â
RelaÂtionÂal: âAs I lisÂtened to you, I caught myself telling myself familÂiar stoÂries about how hard-done-by I am. I recÂogÂnize that my stoÂries have nothÂing to do with you or the sitÂuÂaÂtion, so Iâm fillÂing you in as a way to come back to the Here and Now.â
3. Being self-responsible
Self-responÂsiÂbilÂiÂty is not about self-blame. Rather, itâs about claimÂing ownÂerÂship of our lives.
It is ânorÂmalâ to push responÂsiÂbilÂiÂty away. Most are willÂing to take credÂit for sucÂcess, and want to point a finÂger elseÂwhere when conÂfrontÂed with things judged âwrongâ or âbad.â
Self-responÂsiÂbilÂiÂty is simÂple â âI am the author of all of my life, as I view it right now.â This is not a denial that âbadâ things hapÂpen,â and that othÂers may even intend us harm. Itâs to say that nothÂing comÂpels us to act in ways that are non-helpÂful.
PerÂsonÂal: âThis is going on right now, and I am makÂing myself uncomÂfortÂable. NevÂerÂtheÂless, I am in this sitÂuÂaÂtion because of my choicÂes. I can, at any time, choose difÂferÂentÂly.â
RelaÂtionÂal: âI am upsetÂting myself over the way I perÂceive our relaÂtionÂship. ThereÂfore, I will own my responÂsiÂbilÂiÂty for havÂing gotÂten myself into the state I am in, and I will decide what I will do next.â
4. Speaking clearly â Use dialogue to know yourself
We teach a speÂcifÂic ComÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion ModÂel, and do so because most peoÂple are lousy comÂmuÂniÂcaÂtors. Rather than use comÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion to deepÂen their self-underÂstandÂing, they use it to jusÂtiÂfy their âhardÂenedâ behavÂiour and thinkÂing, while provÂing othÂers wrong. Or, they use comÂmuÂniÂcaÂtion to blame.
As soon as you hardÂen a thought into a belief, you become âunteachÂable.â
DiaÂlogue, on the othÂer hand, is about explorÂing our perÂsonÂal beliefs as we lisÂten to feedÂback. It is essenÂtial to bear in mind that this exploÂration is only posÂsiÂble if you choose to hold your beliefs and âdemandsâ looseÂly.
PerÂsonÂal: âHere is what I see, here is what I feel in my body, and here are the stoÂries I am telling myself.â
RelaÂtionÂal: âI want to share with you my proÂviÂsionÂal guessÂes about what I see hapÂpenÂing right now. Iâm wonÂderÂing about your perÂspecÂtives on my stoÂries.â
5. Being Curious â and NODing
When we live our lives up in our heads, dwelling on the past and fearÂing the future, we think that our verÂsion of misÂery is realÂiÂty. We get locked into thought-loops. We exit the moment, shut down by tightÂenÂing our bodÂies, and dwell in âNevÂer-NevÂer Land.â The âNevÂerâ part is actuÂalÂly, âMy life will nevÂer be difÂferÂent, and Iâll nevÂer be able to change.â
CuriosÂiÂty is the oppoÂsite of self-rightÂeousÂness and blame. If you pay attenÂtion, youâll notice that you are often conÂfused about your own motiÂvaÂtions and actions. How then, could you ever think you had a clue about whatâs up for othÂers?
PerÂsonÂal: âI am driftÂing into past and future again. What is actuÂalÂly hapÂpenÂing right now? Is anyÂthing required of me, right now? What does my body want to do? What would hapÂpen if I stopped telling myself stores, sat down, and had a breath?â
RelaÂtionÂal: âWhen I conÂfront sitÂuÂaÂtions like this one, I get caught in a mind loopâ¦ Iâm wonÂderÂing if you would have time to lisÂten to my descripÂtion, and then Iâd like to hear about how you get yourÂself out of your mind-loops.â
6. Letting go of Drama and Storytelling
ObviÂousÂly, we have a stoÂry about ourÂselves â one we are anxÂious to tell othÂers, and one we believe is âtrue.â The stoÂry conÂtains fragÂments of our biogÂraÂphy, and mostÂly conÂsists of examÂples that supÂport our vicÂtim-stoÂry. One of the great leaps of self-responÂsiÂbilÂiÂty is the underÂstandÂing that our stoÂries are âjust stoÂries.â
We have much investÂed in our life-stoÂry, and also give much enerÂgy to defendÂing everyÂthing that props it up. We move past this by allowÂing ourÂselves to quesÂtion both the accuÂraÂcy and validÂiÂty of the stoÂries we are telling.
LetÂting go of draÂma is simÂiÂlar. Because we spend so much time talkÂing to ourÂselves, about ourÂselves, we have a tenÂdenÂcy to see ourÂselves as the cenÂtre of everyÂthing. Now, cerÂtainÂly, we are the cenÂtre of our own uniÂverse and expeÂriÂence â weâre just not the cenÂtre of anyÂthing else. Despite our desire, no one is going to make us the cenÂtre of their uniÂverse. And the stuff that hapÂpens is the stuff that hapÂpens. Itâs not hapÂpenÂing to you perÂsonÂalÂly.
PerÂsonÂal: âHere is what is actuÂalÂly hapÂpenÂing right now. I notice the stoÂry Iâm strugÂgling to tell, where Iâm a poor, helpÂless vicÂtim, and I choose, this time, in this moment, to let that stoÂry go. In this moment, Iâll be present and aware, and see what, if anyÂthing, is required of me.â
RelaÂtionÂal: âSo, I notice that Iâm hearÂing you speak, and Iâm seeÂing what youâre doing, and Iâm telling myself all kinds of stoÂries about how you are punÂishÂing me, or tryÂing to manipÂuÂlate me. I notice that I am creÂatÂing these stoÂries out of my thought-loops, and I want to acknowlÂedge that Iâm doing this. I will now let go, and return to being open and curiÂous.â
7. Being Flexible
The lynch-pin for EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing is flexÂiÂbilÂiÂty.
I may have spent years develÂopÂing my relatÂing style, but I also have the powÂer, each time, to change what I am doing.
IntegriÂty plays a big part here
While I know that I have comÂplete freeÂdom of expresÂsion, I also begin to look at the conÂseÂquences (results) of my actions. I evalÂuÂate the result I am getÂting against what I have comÂmitÂted to â EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing â and only do what deepÂens my relatÂing.
This is flexÂiÂbilÂiÂty
PerÂsonÂal: âHere I go again, doing the very things that endÂlessÂly land me in the soup. This is who I am, but right now, I can transÂform this patÂtern by stopÂping, havÂing a breath, and makÂing anothÂer choice.â
RelaÂtionÂal: âWow, there I go again, blamÂing you for how I am feelÂing. I accept that I do this, and am pleasÂing myself that I caught myself this time. Give me a secÂond to have a breath, and then Iâll shift back to diaÂlogue.â
8. Feeling Your Feelings
FeelÂings have a bad repÂuÂtaÂtion. PeoÂple resist their ânegÂaÂtiveâ feelÂings â are caught in judgeÂment â endÂlessÂly assignÂing âgood / bad, right / wrongâ catÂeÂgories to everyÂthing.
EssenÂtial to EleÂgant, IntiÂmate RelatÂing is total accepÂtance of each and every feelÂing
As we medÂiÂtate, for examÂple, what becomes clear is that thoughts and feelÂings flow through us like clouds crossÂing the sky. If we latch on to the feelÂing / thought, we creÂate sufÂferÂing for ourÂselves. If we express the thought or feelÂing, we can let it go.
There are no âbadâ feelÂings â there are, howÂevÂer, non-useÂful ways to express them. So, we accept and transÂform each feelÂing by expressÂing it with awareÂness.
PerÂsonÂal: âI am aware of my anger, my boreÂdom, my sexÂuÂalÂiÂty and senÂsuÂalÂiÂty, my tightÂness, my shutÂting down â all of my feelÂings. I accept that these feelÂings pass through me â they are not me, but rather expresÂsions of my moment-by-moment expeÂriÂence. I thereÂfore choose to express them safeÂly and thorÂoughÂly.â
RelaÂtionÂal: âIâm noticÂing that [the curÂrent feelÂings] are comÂing up for me, and Iâm wonÂderÂing if youâd be interÂestÂed in helpÂing me to fulÂly expeÂriÂence and express them, so that I can learn their lesÂson and then move on to whatÂevÂer is next.â
9. Exploring Sensuality and Sexuality
Most adults have âissuesâ around open, honÂest, and deep revÂeÂlaÂtion and expresÂsion of matÂters sexÂuÂal. The disÂcomÂfort is deep-seatÂed â stretchÂing back to childÂhood.
Because of our disÂcomÂfort, we talk in euphemisms and hints. We tend to only get part of what we are lookÂing for, and might be unclear about what we want.
We also have desires and attracÂtions for othÂers, and are uncomÂfortÂable both with the feelÂings themÂselves, and with sharÂing them. We avoid conÂverÂsions about our âturn-ons,â out of conÂfuÂsion, fear, and to avoid jealÂousy. We end up more conÂfused, blocked, and wary.
PerÂsonÂal: âI am doing some seriÂous work explorÂing my senÂsuÂal and sexÂuÂal nature. I am going to use clear lanÂguage to describe who I am and what I want sexÂuÂalÂly, and I am going to creÂate âVulÂnerÂaÂbilÂiÂty Projectsâ to explore areas I am curiÂous about / scare myself over.â
RelaÂtionÂal: âI am noticÂing that I have some issues as regards my senÂsuÂalÂiÂty / sexÂuÂalÂiÂty. I am explorÂing these issues, and I will keep you informed about what I am disÂcovÂerÂing, as well as invite you to work on some of this with me. I also comÂmit to keepÂing you updatÂed on peoÂple I am relatÂing with, and letÂting you know who I find attracÂtive, charÂgy, etc.â
Letâs see how this all plays out.