Thursday, April 28, 2011

Playing Leapfrog

In our ongoing pursuit to live a happy, fulfilling life, we are all evolving in many directions at once. We may be actively developing ourselves in areas such as our career, our health, or our self-worth. We might be improving our relationship to money, food, aging, exercise, or sex. At any point in time, each of us will be more evolved in some areas than in others.

In a soulmate relationship, partners are uniquely qualified to guide and support each other in this natural process of self-development. Better than anyone else, your partner can see your untapped potential. They can “hold a positive belief about you," relationship guru Michael Naumer used to say, "until the evidence shows up.” They can see opportunities for you to grow and expand. They can also detect where insecurity, doubt, or other fears may be holding you back. Your partner doesn’t even need to be more evolved than you in a particular area in order to offer you invaluable support and guidance.

In a very real sense, a soulmate is your custom-made personal coach, spiritual teacher, and cheerleader, aware of your potential, as well as your limitations, in every aspect of your life. As your personal coach, they keep you on track with your desires and aspirations. As your spiritual teacher, they guide you in the direction of your very best self. As your cheerleader, they offer regular encouragement, motivation, and inspiration.

Leapfrog is the process through which soulmates assist one another in taking the next leap toward their full potential. Just as players in the children’s game support one another in moving forward, soulmates inspire each other to recognize and unlock their potential in every area of their lives.

Excerpted from Chapter 10: Playing Leapfrog in the new book The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Love Yourself—Love Your Body

Our perfection-obsessed culture encourages us to view our bodies as a collection of parts and then to continually identify and reject “imperfections” in those parts. If you’re like many people, you have a body part—or maybe several—that you’ve been giving yourself negative messages about for years.

Jessica, who runs marathons in addition to raising two children and managing her own business, focuses daily on the appearance of her stomach, which remains soft and round no matter how many miles she runs or sit-ups she does. Jason checks his bald spot in the mirror almost every time he uses the restroom. Steven has worried since puberty about the size of his penis.

Self-criticism has direct effects on our intimate relationships. Although Jessica is extremely fit, her almost obsessive thoughts about her stomach keep her from being fully comfortable when she’s naked. This makes sex with her husband much less enjoyable than it could be. “He tells me I’m beautiful,” she says, “but when we’re making love, I’m constantly distracted because I’m thinking about my stomach.” Jason began going bald in his early twenties and has never been comfortable when women touch his hair. Steven, consumed with the belief that he can’t satisfy a woman through intercourse, admits, “I have never found myself lost in the experience of making love. I am always too busy worrying that I won’t satisfy her.”

When the world around us holds up flat stomachs, full heads of hair, and large penises as models of perfection, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to those ideals day after day and coming up short every time. But even if we were able to “fix” the things we’re convinced are our worst features—if Jessica endures liposuction, for example, or Jason goes through the pain and expense of hair implants—we wouldn’t suddenly feel whole. That’s because by the time we’re young adults, the habit of scanning our bodies for features that don’t measure up is deeply ingrained.

The truth is, our bodies are nothing short of miraculous. For all they are and everything they do for us, they deserve our compassion, admiration, and even reverence. Yet making critical remarks about our bodies often passes for casual conversation: “These jeans make me look fat.” “Trash those pictures before someone sees them. I look so old!” Even if we never criticize our bodies out loud, many of us do so daily in our heads: “I hate that double chin!” “Why did I have to get the curly hair?”

Any way in which you reject yourself prevents you from being able to fully connect with another human being. When you carry a belief that any part of you is unacceptable, you simply can’t be completely present with someone else or, for that matter, even with yourself. Even if you don’t belittle your body or put yourself down for not changing it in ways you would like, the more you can raise your appreciation for the body you have right now, the more available you will be for the soulmate experience.

~Excerpted from "Chapter 2: Loving Your Body" in the new book The Soulmate Experience: A Practical Guide to Creating Extraordinary Relationships

Friday, April 15, 2011

A New Definition of "Baggage"

We often hear that someone has “too much baggage” to be ready for a committed, connected relationship. At forty, Kiran had been married and divorced twice. He still owns and operates a business with his first wife and a rental property with his second. When he started dating again after his second divorce, Kiran got the message time and time again that all this “baggage” was a big strike against him.

After three years of this sort of rejection, Kiran met Leah. Rather than seeing Kiran’s former spouses as a burden, Leah saw them as an opportunity to get to know him better. “I would love to have met Kiran earlier in life, so it’s great to have them around,” she says. “They tell me stories about him that go back to high school.” Leah and Kiran have now been married for several years. “I’m very close to both his exes,” she says. “I actually call them my sisters-in-law!” Now, who had the baggage here: Kiran, or the women he’d dated before meeting Leah?

From Kiran’s story, we can see that baggage isn’t always what we think it is. It isn’t necessarily our circumstances, our past, or even the issues we’re currently working with. Baggage is often just a lack of flexibility about accepting whatever is showing up in our life or someone else’s.