When it comes to personal change, intelligence and willpower are some of the weakest tools in our toolbox. Connectedness and caring support, on the other hand, give us access to an inner genius which our best thinking can't begin to touch. In this episode, you'll learn how to tap into the brilliance that comes from caring support and connection.
Table of Contents
- Doing Things Differently
- Holding with Cupped Hands
- An Inspiring Kind of Support
- Fueling One’s Courage Through the Power of A Caring Support
Episode Introduction: Caring Support
We think that our superpower is our smartness. We think that our superpower is our willpower, but really our superpower is connectedness and support. In this episode, you'll learn some powerful ways to accomplish more than you imagined, grow more than you imagined and experience more happiness than you imagined through the power of inner and outer support. So stay tuned to the Deeper Dating podcast.
Hello everybody and welcome to the Deeper Dating podcast. I'm Ken Page and I'm a psychotherapist and a coach and the author of the best selling book, Deeper Dating. Today I'm going to be talking about the power of support for you in your intimacy journey and your search for love.
This week and every week I'm going to share with you the greatest tools and insights that I know to help you find love and keep it flourishing and heal your life in the process because the skills of dating are nothing more than the skills of relating, and the skills of relationships are the greatest skills of all for a happy life.
So if you want to learn more about this approach that I'm going to be teaching today and what I speak about in my podcasts, just go to DeeperDatingpodcast.com and there you'll receive a transcript of every single episode.
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So we're going to jump in now and talk about the power of support. When I used to lead retreats, which I used to do a lot before I became a dad, I would always tell people that at some points in their retreat they were going to experience some difficult times, most likely. And that when they did, my advice to them was of course they would try to deal with it on their own first. Try to get themselves to feel better or see it differently or find a solution, but what I would say to them is if you try that once and it doesn't work, and if you try it again and it doesn't work, give up and do something different.
Doing Things Differently
What that something different is, is speak to someone who has wisdom and cares about you. Because you will find healing, resilience, a sense of solution, a sense of capacity around this issue, which is going to be so much more profound than what you ever could have figured out by just working it out in your head – in most cases. Because our mind becomes a closed entity.
Somehow, when we're stuck in our own thinking around a difficult subject, our responses are patterned. They're fear-based and usually, on some level, they're defensive. They spring from a place of loneliness, fear, a kind of desperation. Then we make reactive choices that are kind of our immature ways to best handle a situation, but they're not going to be the most beautiful ways. When we talk to someone we love or care about who gives us space, we'll feel that space. We will actually feel the kind of physiological feeling of relief or space, compassion for ourselves. When we're in that space, new thoughts and new ideas come up. Because most of us don't know how to be as kind to ourselves as someone who loves us will be able to be.
Someone I know says,
"If you think you're going crazy, bring someone along and you'll never get there."
I love that. I love that quote. It's so funny how there's this feeling, this kind of urgent feeling like I have to figure this out myself. It's such a common thing to feel that, kind of, we're lacking somehow if we can't do that. Or instead to think, well yeah I'm smart, I'm capable. I am able to handle things. Of course I can think of a solution, so I was going to think of a solution.
The Limits of Doing-It-Yourself
When it comes to stuck areas, we become stuck. We become sticky, we become adhesive, and we lose a kind of inner quality of mobility. We stop being porous to the winds of inspiration and inspiration bounces off of us. Why? Because somehow we are not as much in touch with our humanity when we're scrambling for answers and when we talk to someone we care about, we are soothed, we're calmed, we're not scrambling for answers quite in the same way.
Or we feel hurt in a relationship with someone and we tell ourselves or maybe not hurt, maybe we have a need that we feel like is not being fulfilled. We tell ourselves, I should get over this. I should work this out myself. I should have the perfect solution that I'm going to speak to this person in such a way that it's just going to take care of the situation. Again, often it's I can just get over this, I can work this out myself. That rarely works, if ever, as well as we imagine or hope that it would work.
When we go to the place where we kind of follow the rules of feedback which are "saying what you mean, but not saying it mean". Speaking in "I" statements, not generalizing, not blaming, speaking from the heart, turning our anger into asks. When we speak that way something happens between us and the person we're talking to often. And often it takes a lot of conversations for this to finally get there and gel and congeal and happen, but something happens and what that something is that a new space is created. In the connection between you and the other person, in their compassion for you, and your compassion for them.
The State of Nakedness
Both parties maybe realize, I was hurting the other person. Or the other person has a need that's not being met that I could be a part of healing. Or whatever it is the experience is, we think we need to figure it out on our own, but in that state of kind of nakedness, of vulnerability with someone who is essentially safe. There's something that happens when we're kind of at stake at those moments and there's something beautiful about being at stake like that. And the other person sees it and feels it and it shifts things in a very powerful way.
Something else is the experience of holding pain and I was speaking to a monastic in Thich Nhat Hanh's order. Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my great heroes. He is a Vietnamese monk who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King and his work is very connected to activism, to the daily moments of our lives, bringing compassion to our lives. He's just one of the greatest teachers that I know. I was speaking to one of his monastics and we were talking about dating and she was remembering when she used to date. I asked her, in retrospect, would you have done something differently during the time that you were dating?
She said, yeah. She said, in retrospect she said,
"My loneliness hurt so much. It felt so bitter inside of me that I really kind of had to bottle that down. It made me hard. The coldness, the nastiness, and the loneliness of my search for love, it had such a bitter taste to it that I had to just shut down."
Holding with Cupped Hands
"I realize now that it was more suffering than I could hold alone. But if I shared it with people I loved and felt that we were all kind of holding it with cupped hands together." And I'll say more about cupped hands in a minute. But she said, "if I would have allowed that, the bitterness and the intensity of that pain would have dissipated. My heart would have softened. In that, I would have maybe been a better dater or have been able to search for love in a better way." This is really, really true and the research shows this in so many ways.
Even in a physiological way that when you hold the hands of someone you trust and care about, you experience less physical pain. Your blood pressure goes down. There is something that happens in connectedness and that connectedness, it's almost like there's a space of self-sufficiency which is essentially self-sabotaging. It's limited, it's like an ingrown toenail of the psyche. It turns in on itself and that is what we tend to do when we are not connected enough and the experience of nature can connect us.
The experience of being with someone we love can connect us and when we're with someone we love and there's hurt or there's wounding and it's a safe person, our sharing our hurt stops that kind of deep bitterness and kind of melts it when we can do this with the other person and feel heard and listened to. They say that the process of relationships is a process of rupture and repair, a rupture of trust, a rupture of safety, a rupture of incredibly right connectedness.
The Healing Power of Connection
And then the repair of being able to heal that by being able to understand what's going on for the other person, feeling that the other person understands what goes on for us. Often we don't need the other person to get it completely right. We just need them to hear it and care, and that is so often enough. So we keep living in a world where the construct is that we are going to make ourselves feel better.
But sometimes the way to make ourselves feel better is just to put our arm around the person who's next to us who we love, or take their hand, or express what's in our heart. In fact, the truth is that often the move toward independence toward figuring things out on our own is a fear of reaching out. It's a fear of closeness. It's a fear of nakedness. It's a fear of connecting.
I've spoken a number of times about the book Change or Die by Alan Deutschman. In this book, Alan Deutschman looked at a number of people who had had a coronary event, some kind of serious coronary health event. And they were told in no uncertain terms by their doctors that they would not live if they didn't change their dietary habits. Sure enough, of course just about everybody said, well I'm going to change my dietary habits because there's not even a choice in the matter. I don't want to die. I want to live. So, of course, I'm going to do whatever it takes. What he found is that over a period of time, almost everybody could not hold on to a healthy diet even knowing the repercussions of that.
There’s Strength in Numbers
So what he did was he studied this small percentage of people who actually were able to maintain dietary change and take care of themselves in that way. He assessed what were the attributes of these people? What was the support these people had? What were the attributes that they had? How did they do it when almost nobody else could? So what he found was that they had a paradigm that they could work with, that they believed in around changing their diet, and they could follow that paradigm.
The main thing he discovered was that they could fail and they could re-frame things around those failures and do it in the presence of support of other people. Those were the people who were able to, in the broadest sense, maintain those changes. This is so true for us. We keep thinking that we can do it alone. I know for me, in my experience with people who have addictions, again and again, you see them thinking that they can figure their way through it, but in fact, the research shows this and we discover over time that support is the way that people actually change serious and self-destructive patterns.
Our loved ones, the people we care about, the people who know us can help us rewire. I remember at one point, this was actually early in my relationship with my husband and I was hitting a stuck point. It was my own stuff. There was a lot of fears that I had about the relationship and I was very concerned and I didn't know what to do. I remember talking to a friend of mine and all he said to me was, "Ken I know you so well.
An Inspiring Kind of Support
And knowing you so well for so many years I could see kind of how hard this is for you or the pain that you're in." I could sense from what he saying was that this was kind of a pain of my own making, but that he had a lot of compassion for it. That was all he had to say. Something shifted in me that allowed space for this issue and the space that was allowed was enough for me to be able to continue.
The space that created in me let me somehow relax, and these fears that I had about things working out with Greg just somehow eased and relaxed. That was enough for me to be able to go on and just stop worrying about something that moments ago I was so deeply worried about. I have a preoccupied attachment style and we'll talk more about attachment styles in a later podcast, but so for me, preoccupation worry is a very home base kind of experience.
I want to talk about another kind of support that we can gain. It's a support of being connected to a sense of inspiration. So if you think about this, if you think about a time that maybe you've had a difficulty in a relationship and you came to a conclusion, you got an answer that kind of really made sense to you. Let's say that we're talking about a situation where your answer and your response brought you closer to the person. We're not going to look at a situation for this where the answer and response you got necessarily helped you leave the other person.
Moments of Insight
For this one, this insight helped you become closer to this person, maybe set more boundaries, but whatever the reason enabled you to feel closer to this person. If you remember that moment of insight, "Oh I can share this with this person, or this is why maybe they did it, or this is what I could say to them or this is what I need."
Whatever the insight was that felt like an "aha" for you that was able to help the relationship. If you think back on that feeling of insight, it's almost like you're not alone in those moments of insight.
I'm not necessarily saying that there's a presence, but I'm saying that there's a feeling of warmth and there's a feeling of not-aloneness in those moments when we have insights that are kind of compassion based. There's a feeling of not-aloneness and that feeling is a very deeply healing feeling.
What I teach people in my classes, in my courses, in my intensive, is that the experience of holding whatever it is we're experiencing with cupped hands in itself heals us.
This is something I've talked about in the podcast too, but if you now picture, you could even do it right now. You just take your hand and you open it up flat and you imagine kind of you're holding your feelings there. Well, it's kind of flat and it's cold. Or then if you imagine taking whatever it is you're feeling at the moment and holding it with squeezed hands like you could squeeze your hand and feel what that feels like.
Clasping Hands versus Cupping Hands
Now if you take your two hands and create a cupping shape so that there's space, there's no compression, there's not suffocation, but there's a cradling and what that cupping feeling is like. When we can cup our feelings like that, whatever they are, there somehow is a sense where that bitter aloneness dissipates. It's a rich, rich subject to think about why that is, but I think it's true. I think the minute we have moments of compassion like that, somehow we feel less disconnected from the world.
Our experiences have a less cold and scary and distant world. That act of compassion is an act of support, but it's one that springs from inside as well as a sense of connection to the heart of our humanity, but also to the heart of the world.
There's a process I teach called the Inner Mentor process, which I also speak a lot about in this podcast which is a very powerful way to obtain support and in this case without even talking to somebody in a physical way. What you do is you picture the you that you're meant to be and you kind of embody, you feel that you, you picture that you. Kind of a further advanced more evolved you.
A you living fully, as you. Fully and richly as you, as the you you're meant to be. You picture that you, and then you imagine jumping into that flow and you look at yourself, the you of right now experiencing whatever problem it is. You're looking at the you of today from this place of the you that you're meant to be. You're in this gorgeous state of flow.
Fueling One’s Courage Through the Power of A Caring Support
You think, what instructions do I want to call out from this beautiful place to the me who's struggling right now and guaranteed the thoughts that come out will bypass critical judgment. They will have beauty and they will have depth. Often as a psychotherapist, I work with clients and I'll have an idea that I think is really good and I'll ask my clients to do the inner mentor process and they do it and almost invariably what they come up with is going to be richer and more beautiful and more simple than whatever it is that I come up with. This is something I've spoken about before.
I want to talk about one last aspect. Last aspect of the power of support and that is that when we're scared to do something, when we don't feel worthy of doing something, when someone has a bigger picture for us of who we're meant to be, they're telling us that and supporting us and nudging us and even our using them as a marking post like, "Okay, I'm going to go do it.
I'm going to go do it right now and then I'll call you when I'm done," and be able to use them to kind of jump into the scary next. That ability to feel supported in that way is a very, very powerful thing and truly, truly, truly when you feel like you have voices, voices of people who care about you, and the message that they're saying inside somehow is, "I want this for you, of course you can do it. You can make this happen. Go for it."
When you have those voices just internalized in your head, you will do more amazing things.
The Journey to A Place of Connectedness
You will come closer to your greatness. You will do more scary things, and you will take new risks and you will move closer to a bigger, broader, wider life. So these are just some of the reasons why it's so important to get out of the framework of, in our limited mind, we are just going to figure this out and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and moving into this richer place.
The power of moving into this richer place, which is a place of connectedness. From that place of connectedness, addressing whatever the issue or the problem or the concern is that we're having at that time. This eases our journey in the most profound ways. What's amazing is how quickly we forget to do that.
So this is a message for all of us that what we want to be able to do is to not feel alone with our struggles, to not feel alone with our lives, to not feel alone with our journey. What I talked about in this podcast are some different ways that we can not feel alone, but feel the warmth of that connectedness which changes the quality of our life for the better.
Well, thank you so much for listening and if you like what you heard, I really encourage you to subscribe, to leave me a review, and to go to DeeperDatingpodcasts.com to learn more about the work that I do, my upcoming classes, and the work of other people that I deeply respect. So thanks again and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode of the Deeper Dating podcast.