Why should we have a soft heart in the tough world of dating? Because when we do, we open ourselves to deeper streams of inner wisdom. We choose better partners. And we literally change the course of our future. In this episode, you'll learn wonderful tools to help you achieve all the above.
Episode Table of Contents
- A Wisdom Journey
- Byproducts of Disintegration
- How Do You Deal With Self Disintegration
- Empathic Connection Versus Empathic Failure
Episode Introduction: Soft Heart
When you're stuck, when you're frozen inside, when you're angry, when you're upset, when you're not connected to your heart, what causes that and what can you do to soften your heart in a world that is so often cold and harsh, because in having a soft heart, you change the course of your future. Stay tuned to the Deeper Dating Podcast to learn more.
Hi, everybody, and welcome to the Deeper Dating Podcast. I'm Ken Page, and today, we're going to be talking about how we can soften our hearts in the tough world of dating and the difficulties of intimacy and life.
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This is a big, big thing, because when we can soften our hearts, we're open to streams of wisdom, and new insights, and new ways around difficult situations, and empathy, and richer and deeper life in any avenue of our existence. This is a huge thing when we can soften our hearts, because our worldview shifts in ways that end up being really positive.
So I'm going to talk about that today and teach you some wonderful techniques and some great insights about that. I'm a psychotherapist, and I'm the author of the bestselling book, Deeper Dating: How to Drop the Games of Seduction and Discover the Power of Intimacy.
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Every week, I'm going to share with you the greatest tools and pieces of insight that I know to help you find love in your life, and then keep it flourishing, and to heal your life in the process, because really, the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of love, and the skills of love are the most important skills of all for a happy life.
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Remember that everything I share in this podcast is educational in nature. It's not psychiatric advice or psychological advice or treatment, and if you're experiencing any serious psychological conditions, please do seek professional help. Finally, if you like what you're learning here, I would love it if you subscribe to me in Apple Podcast or elsewhere, and left me a review, so thank you so much for that.
A Wisdom Journey
Okay. This is a really, really wonderful topic because I think that in the intimacy journey and the essence of this message kind of is based on the concept that your intimacy journey, your search for love is not just a goal-oriented, "I got to get that thing."
It's a journey of wisdom, and every step, every new wisdom insight you have and you live, moves you closer both to the love that you're looking for and to a life that's richer with love. This is a wisdom journey, and that's a great thing, and it yields results in your search for love, I promise you that.
Paramahansa Yogananda, who was a spiritual teacher, who's, I think one of the first spiritual teachers who came to the United States for a very, very long period of time, and is my spiritual teacher since I was 17, which is a really, really long time ago, he said at one point that …
"The human heart easily becomes hardened, that it becomes flinty, and we need processes so that we could kind of dig through that flint and soften our hearts so that love can percolate through it again."
This, I think is a given, is that our hearts become flinty quickly and easily, and all of us need to find ways to understand, "How do we get flinty in our hearts, what does that look like, how does it affect our lives, and what can we do to heal that?" We've got super, super exciting insights about that that we're going to be talking about. Let's just start though with why it's important to soften our heart, and what happens when we do.
One thing that happens is that when our hearts harden, they do that out of fear and a survival need. When that happens, we go into survival behaviors. Survival behaviors are super helpful for getting us out of serious danger.
They work, they're important, but they're not good for more nuanced interactions with our lives, with the people we love, or with ourselves, so what we do is we get into kind of really hardened ways. We're going to talk about what those are, but we get into really hardened ways of interacting with the world that push love away.
If you listened to two episodes ago, there was a wonderful study done that said the single greatest characteristic for having a happy and rich life is the development of a coping style that doesn't push love away, and that's huge. When our hearts are hardened, when they're flinty, we push love away, even though that's not our goal. That's not our goal at all.
Our goal is to find love and to protect ourselves, but we do it in reactive ways. When we can step back and soften our hearts, and I'm going to get into how we do that, when we kind of step back and do that, amazing things happen. One thing that happens is breezes can flow in our mind and our hearts.
Breezes are like little bits of insight, little bits of compassion, little ways out that we never, ever would have noticed or figured out previously, remorse for ways that we've hurt people, care, love, treasuring. So many different things happen when we're at a crossroads where previously, we would have just hardened our heart and enacted in old ways, we can somehow find a way to soften our heart.
Softening of Hearts
Magic happens, our world opens, and we get wiser in love, and the amazing thing is, that wisdom generalizes those lessons that we learn when we're about to go right, and we stop and soften our hearts and don't go right, but go in another direction. Those lessons stay with us. They really do, and they're hard-earned wisdom, and they're gold, and they come in handy when we find our partner.
They come in handy to find our partner. These are some of the things that happen when our hearts soften. Now, I want to talk about a concept here that is very powerful, very useful. In self-psychology, which is a school of psychology, there's a concept called byproducts of disintegration. Disintegration is like when we feel screwed up, when we are in pain, when we get blocked, when our triggers are triggered.
We kind of have what's called a disintegration. In other words, we're not kind of one with ourselves. We're not flowing smoothly. There's a kind of fragmenting of self that happens, and I'm not talking about serious psychopathology here. I'm talking about day-to-day life, the little things that hurt our hearts that trip us up, or the bigger things that do that, or the memories of things that do that. When that happens, we go into our hardened heart space, our defensive space.
When we do that, we experience what self-psychology calls byproducts of that disintegration, and those are the ways that we behave that push love away, that push love of ourselves and other people away, because we're triggered and reactive. All of us have different byproducts of disintegration, and it's a hugely important thing to begin to know, "What are your byproducts of disintegration? How do you get when you get triggered?"
Byproducts of Disintegration
One way to know that really easily is to just think about what the people who love you have told you for a really long time now about what bothers them when you behave in a certain way, that might be uncompassionate, or unkind, or harsh, or disconnected. It's not too hard to find out our byproducts of disintegration because our loved ones can tell us.
My teenage son has given me the gift of telling me about a million times in a million ways what he sees as my byproducts of disintegration. He describes them as a kind of harshness. He says, "You're a softy, but you're a harsh softy." He calls me the harsh softy sometimes, and he's right. He's right.
That harshness that happens when I feel impatient, that's another one, pushes him away, pushes away the people I love when I get stressed when I get impatient. For me, another byproduct of disintegration is rushing. Another one is perfectionism and judgmentalness.
These are some of my byproducts of disintegration. Another one is just a kind of chronic stress state, a state that lacks compassion, and just wants to push through, drive through, get through, get it done, make the world change around me, make me change. It's harsh. These are some of my byproducts of disintegration, and I'll share a story.
My son was maybe like eight years old at some point, and I was in my byproducts of disintegration, and that was manifesting as being too busy and rushing. I went into the living room, and he had taken our sofa and filled it with pillows and blankets, and he just looked at me. He said, "Dad, rest. Just come and rest." He had made this nest for me.
Moments of Disintegration
It was so beautiful. I won't forget it. That was a very compassionate way for him to point out that I could stop with my byproducts of disintegration. What triggers yours? What are yours? What triggers them? These are rich and glorious questions because the more conversant you get with what your byproducts of disintegration are, the more you'll love yourself because you get it. You get it. There's this thing that you do.
The more you'll give yourself a break, the more there will be language for something that may be previously you didn't want to face, or you beat yourself up for, or you just didn't want to be true. Yeah. These are my byproducts of disintegration. In a relationship, those times that you might feel like, "Oh gosh, I need a drink," those are moments where disintegration is happening, moments when you just want to go to your phone right away for some more dopamine. There's disintegration happening.
Whatever your ways, your patterns are, when that happens, you could say, "Something's shaking me up here. Something is making me disintegrate." Now, this is not, once again psychopathological, a disintegration of self. It's just more that experience of not being as integrated, being kind of somewhat fragmented. When we know this, we become wiser.
We become more patient with ourselves. We get a little bit more of a sense of humor about this, and more we face the actual landscape of our intimacy journey. We don't run from it. We face it and we say, "Okay." That's a kind of mastery that is beautiful, hard-won, and is deep maturity, and one of the profound skills of developing a coping style that doesn't push love away.
Self-Psychology: Identifying the Triggers
“Oh, yeah. I feel that happening to me. I feel my byproducts happening, and I know that. I understand that." In my courses, and classes, and intensives, and I have an intensive coming up soon for people that want to do the really deep work over an extended period of time, six months to really find healthy love.
And you can learn more about that by going to deeperdatingpodcast.com, and just clicking on Work With Ken. In that intensive, I get to work with people so that they can see what the coping styles are that they have that push love away, and begin to actually change them.
That's again hard-won, gorgeous, lifelong wisdom. Let's talk now about how we can change them. One way we're going to think about this and understand it is by going back to self-psychology, and self psychology's explanation of what triggers this disintegration, and these byproducts or products of disintegration.
What self-psychology teaches is that what triggers those originally, the original cause was an empathic failure on the part of our parents. Meaning, we were whoever we were being at that moment, and it was met with something that felt like a violation of ourselves.
Maybe something really like we go to a parent with a piece of art or a piece of writing that we did that we just think is so wonderful, and they're like, "Oh, yeah. Put it up on the fridge," and so then, "Oh, they missed my soul," or maybe it's something harsher or more intense, or maybe we have a fierce love of truth, and we express that in our family and get nailed for it, or we have a deep degree of tenderness, and it's not seen or met.
Reasons Why We Disintegrate
We disintegrate because as young ones, this empathic failure makes us feel like there's no ground under my feet for me to be me in a good way in the world, and there's a disintegration of self because the parts of us that are not mirrored in healthy ways are weak and vulnerable.
I just have to digress here to say something really amazing. Ashley Montagu in his book that was called Touching, talked about, I think it was sheep where… Don't quote me on that part, but where the mother sheep, when the baby is born, needs to lick the baby all over its body, including over its internal organs.
If there's an internal organ that the mother does not lick over, that internal organ is more likely to be weak, and wounded, and get sickly throughout the entire course of that animal's life, because that internal organ was never awakened, never awakened by being profoundly mirrored, seen, and loved.
These are the places that that internal organ will experience disintegration, and be more prone to problems throughout the animal's life. That's just a rich kind of capturing of what this empathic failure can do to us. What's the antidote? Well, the antidote is to create empathy where there was previously not enough empathy. This is super exciting and wonderful stuff because our world changes.
Our hearts heal. Love opens up all of these, and our life becomes richer.
Also, we find that we have access to a stream of this kind of love-wisdom mixture that is like nectar. It's a big deal. It's glorious. It gets us through a lot of problems, and it brings us a lot of joy. Again, it's hard won, and it's one of the lessons of life.
How Do You Deal With Self Disintegration
What we're going to talk about now is what to do when you experience this disintegration that arises from an empathic failure towards yourself, or from you toward yourself and/or other people toward you.
First, I want to talk about forgiveness, but not in the way you think I'm going to talk about forgiveness or you might think I'm going to talk about forgiveness. We cannot leapfrog into forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not an obligation. It's a gift we give ourselves, and it's a gift we give someone else, but we cannot give it until we're ready to give it.
The first step I feel in a really organic forgiving process is first, to honor our pain. When there's injustice to honor the injustice, not to leapfrog over that. In an incredible song called Mother, John Lennon, he did this album after he went through primal therapy, and he had this great, great line. He said,
"Children, don't do what I have done. I couldn't walk, and I tried to run."
When we are not ready for forgiveness and we try to force it on ourselves, that's exactly what that is. I feel the first step, and I speak about this in a lot more detail in my book, Deeper Dating, but I feel that the first step needs to be an honoring of the injustice that occurred and the pain that it caused us.
There has to be an acknowledgement. We cannot start with, "I'm being too sensitive." We cannot start with, "I'm wrong to think this way." We need to start with an honoring of, "What felt wrong?" Now, where we kind of often go off course is in the assumptions we made about why that happened, what it meant?
What it meant about us personally, but our gut-level sense that something was wrong needs to be honored as a first step. This is a process I call in my book the "AHA process", which begins with awareness, and the second stage, which is just everything to get to the third stage, but the second stage is honoring, honoring of what didn't feel right of our sensitivity, of our discrimination.
Then, of course, honoring of the other person too, but starting with honoring of our discrimination. God, that makes it so much easier, but it's a big step validating the exquisiteness of our sensitivities. Then, the third step is action that must spring out of that initial honoring. Okay. That's one thing I want to say about forgiveness. I want to say some other things too.
One thing that for me works, and I do this regularly because my heart hardens regularly and gets flinty regularly, just like I need to do stretching, because my fascia and my muscles tighten up pretty easily, so I need to build that into my life.
I need to build something in that reminds me of my humanity, and I actually need to do it a lot. Apart from my meditation practice, which I've done for a really, really, really long time now, and I love and I treasure, and I really believe in, is a technique called tapping or EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, which is a technique that has been clinically proven.
There are about 100 research studies out there, and if you join my mailing list, I'm actually going to be sending out a recording that teaches you how to tap and guides you in a tapping meditation around your intimacy journey.
The Tapping Technique
That'll be coming soon if you join my mailing list, but I love tapping. There have been about 100 studies of it, clinical studies, and what it does, one thing that it does is dramatically reduce the cortisol levels in your brain, and cortisol is the stress hormone. When those levels go down, it's also a softening of our terror impulse, our fear impulse, our stress impulse, and our heart, hence, softens.
I do this regularly during the day, just for five minutes every… I'm actually now trying to do it for five minutes every two hours. I'm not succeeding that that well, but I'm getting there, and it helps immensely for me not to act like the harsh softy, and for me, not to live so much more time in my byproducts of disintegration.
I love this tapping technique, taking a walk, exercising, whatever it is, but I find that a decentering from my stress and whatever the kind of white-knuckled rigidity patterns that I'm locked into, anything that helps me soften around that allows the winds of wisdom and compassion to begin to come in.
Remember, that empathic failure is the cause of this kind of hardening of heart, so the more we can just kind of rest and find empathy again, find empathy for the world, find empathy for ourselves, remember our softness, remember our humanity. Whatever helps us do that, brings back the empathy, which heals and stops and interrupts this other unhealthy process, these mechanisms that push love away.
Anything that gives space really helps.
Now, I want to talk about the last thing that I think really helps. Here's what it is.
Reach Out for Help
If you are upset about something, and you try to make yourself feel better through any of those techniques, or the technique which just never works of, "Get over it," or, "You're being too sensitive," I don't know, maybe that works for some people.
I don't think it ever works for me, but whatever it is that you try, including all of these previous techniques, if they don't work after a couple times, here's what I suggest, give up trying and speak to another human being. Get help and get support.
I can pretty much promise you that if you find a compassionate, wise person, you will skyrocket in terms of your release from whatever your patterns are, these byproducts of disintegration. Talking to someone, if you want to talk to the person who you feel hurt with and you feel that they're decent and kind, and they're not going to be out to hurt you, because if they are, if they're not safe, that's something else.
If you can talk to them and share what's in your heart using the techniques, which we can talk about another time of non-violent communication, basically "I statements", not globalizing, not attacking, saying what you feel, what you need, turning your anger into an ask, all of these kind of processes.
If you can do that with the person and have them hear you, and then you hear them, well, the healing is amazing, and often, 5,000 times faster than trying to meditate your way out of it, and I'm a meditator. Or speak to someone else who you know and love. I can pretty much guarantee you, if you're in a stuck place speaking to someone who loves you and who has wisdom, will cut your recovery time by 90%, 80%.
Empathic Connection Versus Empathic Failure
If you try and try and you can't change something, give up and go for help, because we are interdependent beings. Just the quality of empathic connection will soothe and heal the byproducts of earlier empathic failure, including empathic failure to yourself.
When that happens and the heart softens, the winds of inspiration come.
And when the winds of inspiration come, baby, that is wonderful. We feel who we are. We get glimpses of love. We get glimpses of little ways out that can lead to big ways out. We feel our heart, we feel love, we are kinder, we are more generous. All these wonderful things happen if we can interrupt that disintegration cycle and bring in a real empathy, an empathy toward ourselves and an empathy to us from other people.
I just think these are rich, rich techniques, and I encourage you to take on whatever techniques work for you, but I also truly encourage you to find a self-soothing technique that softens the hardening of your heart that you can do on your own. For me, it's meditation. For me, it's tapping.
Other spiritual practices too, but again, for me, tapping is one that I really love. In a future episode, I'm going to be interviewing Dawson Church, who's kind of an amazing guy and very wonderful person, and perhaps the top scientist studying EFT in the world.
Share Your Thoughts
If you liked this episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcast or elsewhere. Please leave me a review. That would be wonderful. If you're interested in learning more about this work or my upcoming intensive, go to deeperdatingpodcast.com.
Sign up for my mailing list and click the Work With Ken button. Thank you all and have a wonderful week, and I'll see you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating Podcast.