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Tag Archive 'baggage'

Apr 26 2011

How to Read Someone’s Intentions Like a Pro.

In almost every counseling and coaching session I end up teaching this particular tool, so I’ve decided to write down the mini-lecture. It’s the sort of thing that took me years to finally learn and appreciate. So rather than repeat it as many times as I needed it repeated to me, I’m going to write it out. Please read and re-read. Please pass it along. As far as I’m concerned, it’s gold.

“The dangerous man is the one who has only one idea, because then he’ll fight and die for it. The way real science goes is that you come up with lots of ideas, and most of them will be wrong.”  Francis Crick.

If you’ve settled into a relationship, really settled, you know your partner’s quirks and you know how your partner is unique and different from you. But if you haven’t settled in, sooner or later you are going to be challenged by something your partner does that doesn’t make sense to you and which, often, you won’t like.

It’s important to remember this: You don’t know this person intimately. Not yet. The only people you know intimately are people you’ve had previous enduring relationships with, and maybe not even them. You are still learning.

What mental habits do you need in order to help you understand this new person’s intentions?

Here’s the golden rule: Always have three guesses about what’s really going on. And then watch how things unfold to see which of your guesses is best.

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Oct 02 2010

Hatred, Emotional Baggage, the Book of Jonah, and the Lessons of Yom Kippur in Dealing with an Ex.

Sometimes intimate relationships fail because the partners grow to hate each other’s company. “Hate.”  It’s a strong word.

Hatred is wild and strange.  I’ve counseled people who are dealing with an ex who is intoxicated by hatred.  Such people are willing to use children, the legal system, and vandalism to make a former partner’s life miserable. They do it in a gleeful frenzy. They are scary because they feed off their hatred and there’s no stopping them except by going to war against them and defeating them thoroughly.  Most of us don’t like going to war.

For most of us hatred is  uncomfortable.  For most of us, when we are angry we are angry about a principle, a value, something that seems bigger than the issue at hand.  But when anger shifts to hatred it’s because we’ve made the issue personal. Often people who like to hate are also proud of the fact that their values are so personally held.

Because hatred is a personal matter and because the pain associated with it is often so close to the surface, most folks shift from hatred to disgust.  Disgust is the way we put distance between our self and the thing we hate.  In disgust we don’t have to resolve the hatred. We can simply go past it and seek the more comfortable state of denial.  We resolve to simply never see, speak or think about the person we “used to” hate.  We do this for our protection, and sometimes for their protection. We cut them off.

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Apr 25 2009

Measures of Maturity: The “Why Did Your Last Relationship End?” Test

Published by under Advice

This is the central fact of dating at midlife: if you are single at 20, you are just single. If you are single at 40, you have a story about it.

No one gets to be forty years old without having been hurt or having hurt. How a person deals with this unfortunate truth shapes their expectations about new relationships, and the way someone tells you their story tells you what they are expecting from you in the coming relationship.

There is a lot you can learn by listening to how they tell their stories. But you have to know what you are listening for. One of the things I listen for is how they deal with the fact that they have been hurt, or that they’ve hurt someone.

In my experience, if you have not reconciled yourself to this dark side of life, you will put certain specific and unreasonable pressures on your next relationship. In this short article, I want you to think about how this works.

I am going to start with the story of the Troubles Tree, an old Jewish folk tale.

One day in a small town in rural Poland an angel appeared and told everyone that, because of the piety of certain people the town’s people would be given a gift. For one day, everyone could walk around freed from the burden of their life’s troubles. A tree would appear in the center of the town and each person could hang their troubles on it.

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Apr 25 2009

Hey You Dropped Your Baggage

Published by under Advice

The top three dating complaints of single men in their 50s:

· Dating partners who have a lot of “baggage” (42 percent)

· Women who “become difficult to get along with” after the first few dates (28 percent)

·Women who want to get too serious too fast (18 percent)

The top three complaints of women:

· That baggage thing (35 percent)

· Not having a clue where to meet men, and meeting too few new men (23 percent)

· Overeager guys who want to get real serious real fast (21 percent)

· Have not had a date in the last year. (43 percent)

The other figures are interesting but we’re talking about baggage. You’ll notice that all the men’s complaints come down to baggage and the first and third of the women’s complaints are about baggage.

(I don’t know about you, but I also noticed that 70% of men complain about baggage and 35% of women. Twice as many. What’s that about? Let’s bookmark that question.)

“Baggage” is not really a technical term and so it’s one of those things that we all know what it is when we see it but are hard pressed to say exactly what it is.

I’m not going to do a survey of literature, but I do want to acknowledge that what I’m going to say here is only one position in discussion, a discussion in which soothing voices of healing professionals can become quite sharp.

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