life coach

WHY RELATIONSHIPS ARE HARD + TIPS

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Here's a bunch of reasons, and we're talking romantic partnerships:

Because we change day to day - because others do too - because we're all tired - because putting others first isn't an innate behavior, it takes practice - not all relationships are worth the work - we're impatient - we're losing practice being loving, cooperative beings - social media - netflix - dating apps are easy - love is not convenient - porn - unaddressed baggage - because mental health takes some work - because we're not sure how have a healthy relationship in general...  

Ok I'll stop.

But you get the point, there are lots of reasons why relationships are hard. I've been in committed relationship for all of my adult life and I know great or even good relationships are worth working for. 

I coach (or have coached) 6 different couples in the last 2 years. They are all very different, but the issues they they experience are were similar in a lot of ways. I see them in my life as well. I've given it a lot of thought, and I think there are certain tendencies we have in our relationships. If we can identify those, we can account for them and adjust on our path to having a fulfilling relationship with someone we love.

There are two major types of expectations in any relationship.

1. The general expectation around norms, customs, reciprocity and general vibe within the relationship. An expectation of why you're in the relationship. 

2. This one is a more nuanced and the focus here: the (usually negative or triggering) expectation of how your partner is being:: expecting them to be or act a certain way.  

Every couple goes through ruts. No one's has ever been in a flawless relationship. But, something that happens frequently is - those ruts become giant gaps between people. Some random issue that, in the past you could have overlooked has now become something way worse. This issue between the two of you that penetrates every interaction you have with one another. It's something that you can't shake. We've all been there.  

Often times, these ruts we get into get worse because we stop giving our partners the benefit of the doubt. We're with them because we like them...remember that. When we start to anticipate our partners reaction to things we say, and that effects the whole vibe. We're putting our filter and our expectations on them, and that never works, it always goes sideways.

Think about where you're at in your relationship right now, and think of all the places and topics where you already know how your partner will react. And instead of looking them in their eyes, and asking for their attention and having a clear and honest conversation with them, you've already succumbed to your expectation of them...and the rut gets wider. 

Especially when you're in the middle of a disagreement and you haven't been seeing eye to eye for a while...we succumb to the way that you always do things, expectations. Try turning off Netflix (not while they're watching) and have an honest, chilled out conversation with the person you've chosen to be with. 

I know...we know our significant others better than anyone. But these expectations begin govern every fight, every disagreement, every bummer topic. Then we find ourselves detached from the actual person we're with. The expectations become more and more integrated into the relationship, and it makes things worse. It becomes harder to turn things around. Instead ofbeing connected to our partners, we're connected to a version of them we've created in our minds.

 Instead of being connected to our partners, we’re connected to a version of them we’ve created in our minds.

There's only one way to correct this scenario and it's hard. 

OPEN AND HONEST COMMUNICATION WITHOUT EXPECTATION

We have to allow ourselves to be surprised by our parters. We have to ask them to level with us, get on the same page as us, to collaborate with us. Ask for that you need from them, and give them what you can. We're the only ones who can course correct our relationships. Be vulnerable, be patient, don't just wait to speak, listen to them.

Also, there are no points for winning an argument, because holding that against them pushes them away. Stick to your principals, but if it risks alienating your partner from you, consider if it's worth it. 

Pretend just for a second that they actually mean what they're saying. Just for a second cut through the crap that you both do when you fight and try to have a real conversation. You're a team, and you chose at one point to be together, so fight a little bit for each other. 

TIPS:

Propose a 3 day truce from your fight: Waive a white flag and agree to chill the F out for three days. If you've been fighting a lot, or feel like you're stuck in a rut propose a bickering hiatus.  

Stop being passive aggressive: You know who you are. Some of us fight this way, and it's lazy. It's the weakest way to go about voicing your problems. It's ambiguous and non-productive. 

Write them an email and only send it if you think it'll be productive: Take the time to synthesize your thoughts. What are you angry about? How did you get here, how can you resolve it? Share with them all the things that you appreciate about them. Think of things that you can do together that will bring you closer. Apologize where necessary - it's never too late to apologize for something that you know you messed up. Really write something from the heart. This will give you a chance to think about the situation you're in, and a solution may present itself. 

Stop arguing over text: Seriously stop. It's too easy to sit there at your desk, or in the car and send some long, snappy text out there without having to be accountable to it. Trying to resolve anything over text is challenging. Opt for: "Hey, I do want to talk about this, but can we do it in person later instead of text?"

"Is this conversation worth having right now?": Use this liberally. If you're having a hard time, and things are escalating into another argument, ask your partner this. Is it worth having - in front of the kids, via text, on the way to _____ event, while you're 3 beers deep, right before bed. Often you'll find that slowing down the elevation speed of the argument helps you both get perspective.

Relationships are hard, and sometimes we make them harder without knowing it. 

The purpose of this blog was to share a little bit of wisdom around relationships and try to help out a little bit. As a relationship coach, I'm able to help a two people at a time, and if a post like this helps just a few more people gain some insight into their own relationship - I've done my deed. 

If this is interesting stuff, let me know. Leave a comment or share this post on facebook. 

Thanks for reading. 

 

Sean

WHY I DITCHED THE 9-5

Another rainy Seattle day

Another rainy Seattle day

I liked my job. 

What wasn't to like? As an Account Executive at a popular Seattle radio station, there were a lot of perks. Tickets to sports games, concerts, happy-hour meetings, flexible hours. It was fun too, I got to write radio commercials, meet rock stars and sports stars and be on the media scene. I generally like the people I worked with too. It was sort of the perfect job for a busy-body like me, who loved to socialize and go out. It felt a little like show-biz and it payed well. It was commission based, but that worked for me - because I was self-motivated, and a good salesperson.

It was pretty ideal gig for a guy like me who could sell gracefully, make fast friends while being self-motivated to make a lot of money. 

And I was very good at it. 

But it didn't fill my cup. It didn't feel authentic for me.

About the time I turned 27, I began to realize that this was not going to be MY life-path. Something wasn't quite right. I found myself resenting the day-to-day: Getting up and putting on slacks, a shirt and tie, shiny shoes and heading out the door to work hard to increase the profits of some faceless group of investors. 

I fought the consistent feeling of futility at work. I justified my uninspired daily schedule in various ways. 

"It's a fun job, lots of people would love this opportunity."

"I'm making great money, my family would think I'm crazy to leave this job."

"It's a recession, and I have income and benefits that make it too good to leave."

"What the heck am I gonna do instead? I'm good at this & change would be tough."

These were stories I told myself to keep me in place. I constantly was justifying my place in the world, to keep things familiar.

We often cling to the jobs, relationships, hobbies, foods, even ways of dress that we associate with our identity...just because. They feed one of our 6 needs as illustrated by Tony Robbins. I was the perfect example. My job filled several of these needs, and therefore, it was a challenge to let go of....or even think about letting go of. 

Change never comes easily, and for me, I was doing something that I was good at, so why was I so uncomfortable and unfulfilled? I was slowly losing touch with the best parts of myself. I was drinking more, as part of the gig, and also as a coping mechanism for dealing with the stressors of a job that was 100% commission. 

Any of this sound familiar?

Are you possibly in a job that doesn't quite seem authentic? Embodied? Serving your highest purpose? Do you sometimes picture yourself in another city? Doing something else entirely? Living the sort of life that you envisioned when you were a kid? 

Do you get the sense that you were meant to be DOING SOMETHING ELSE?

I began to daydream about what my life might be like without being Seany Mac the radio sales guy. I began to brainstorm alternative occupations that pushed the boundaries of my reality. My partner and I came up with a list of things that we could do, that didn't involve working at a desk job that didn't fulfill us on every level.

NOTE: We need people to work at desks. It's not my aim to demean folks working desk jobs. Within our current reality, there is a need for people to work in offices - it's the backbone of commerce - sales jobs, accounting jobs, transport, HR. But if you're currently working at a job that you're unhappy with, only you have the power to change your own reality. 

We came up with a large list of alternative careers: teaching english in Thailand, alcohol distribution in Chicago (I knew a guy), peace corp. (we new a gal), a juice bar in Hawaii, vagabonding through Europe... and ultimately came back to, what would be my step into entrepreneurship and living a life more in line with my strengths and my authentic self. 

The fact of the matter is, just the process of thinking outside the box changed my perspective. I was in a place in my life where I had the flexibility of a well-paying job, with plenty of free time to explore other passions. I know this is true for you. If you're making ends meet, have insurance coverage and work a 9-5, you're in the exact situation I was in. 

DO THIS EXERCISE: Take a moment to make a list of the things that you're drawn to. What sorts of art, businesses, activities, podcasts, books to you consistently find yourself drawn to. LIST THEM. Bring those passion points up to the surface, get them written down on paper. Acknowledge the things in your life that bring you joy. Read my previous blog post and get your gears turning.

• • • 

It was at this point in my life that my world-view changed, and I opened up to alternative possibilities for my future. I also knew full well, that I had the flexibility to "Moonlight" in researching what would be my new path: 

Sensory Deprivation

During the nightly conversations I had with Leila, trying to brainstorm possible options - I kept returning to an experience I had during my first sensory deprivation experience 2 years prior. My first float...in the basement of a local yoga instructor...WHOM I FOUND ON CRAIGSLIST! At that time, it was deep in the back of my mind - could actually attempt to open a float tank center? I didn't bring it up with her...not yet. But I continued to read about other float centers around the world. 

Floating and owning a float center was an ideal trajectory for me and my interests. I was into meditation, I enjoyed using cannabis and the occasional psychedelic to reach altered states and it was plenty weird enough for me to find real passion in it.

I knew then, and I keep it in the front of my mind that I was meant to help people in this life. I was meant to heal people and provide value in their life. I want to effect the world in a positive way.  But, first I had to convince my partner. It was going to be a hard sell to Leila for several reasons:

1. I had zero business experience/education. Not a class in college, or a pamphlet read. 

2. Floating at the time was pretty uncommon. Around 30 float centers nationwide.

3. She had never floated, so, how would I get her excited about it?

4. This was definitely fringe. Leila is a Taurus, and likes a sure thing...this was not.

5. This did not play to my strengths, as a communicator, leader or sales person.

But, despite these fairly obvious reasons why it would never work - one day, I decided to throw it out to her. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. I was truly the largest turning point in my life. 

I picked her up from work one winter evening. It was 5, and dark, and raining. And I simply said:

"Ya know, we've been talking about what ELSE we could do in our lives, and moving or teaching or travelling...all that stuff."

"Yeah?"

"Well, I've been thinking a lot about it, and I think we should open a float center."

"Sensory Deprivation stuff?"

"Yeah."

"Ok, lets do it."

"..."

"..."

"Ok? You really on-board?"

"Sure, it's all about chillin, and it's weird, and you really liked your experience."

"Ok, that's settled."

That was it. The door had crept open.

That was all I needed to charge forward. Immediately my mind started to spin thinking about all the details of what it would take to pull it off. Again, with ZERO EXPERIENCE.

• • •

The next steps were both pivotal and relatively organic.

To be clear - this is where I think a lot of people get hung up. We all have great ideas: products, inventions, business ideas etc. but the thing that differentiates between wantrepreneurs and entrepreneurs is the full commitment. That shift in mentality from a day-dream to an actual execution. To start on the path toward the life that you want. 

You have to start somewhere. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Since I didn't have the experience or resources at the time, I had to throw myself at it completely and the path emerged. 

It was total immersion. I spent every night and hours upon hours on the weekends to learn all there was to know about floating. Before I dug into the ins and outs of running a business (perhaps I was delaying the hard stuff) I wanted to know about the science of floating. I read books like "The Book of Floating." by Michael Hutchinson. "The Quiet Center" and  "The Center of the Cyclone" by the father of floating John C. Lilly. I also had heard a lot about sensory deprivation by listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast. I wanted to be sure that I knew the WHAT of the thing before proceeding into the HOW of pulling it off in a logistical business. 

KEY POINT

We live in a time of unprecedented access to information. You have the ability....in an instant to begin learning about how to fix a broken pool pump, or kung fu, or how to make crab cakes. There are tons and tons of resources online to learn about how to open a business, but until you make that decision to dive in, your dream will stay just that. 

 

While I learned everything I could learn about the origin of floating - Why it's a good thing, what it's used for, who can benefit - I also began researching other float centers around the world. At that time in 2010 there were really 4 or 5 that stood out in the world. At first it was alarming, because, why weren't there more float centers? (There were a few explanations). But I wasn't deterred. I saw the lack of legitimate float centers as a good sign - an opportunity for growth. Google ad words was an excellent resource for my approach. I was finding that thousands of people were searching for float centers in Seattle on google. I began researching the process for getting small business loans, SBA support, angel investors - and ultimately decided I would want to bootstrap it, take out personal loans, personal lines of credit and find a partner. 

My entire reality had shifted. My path forward was now inspired. I had pin-pointed the thing that I wanted my MY THING. And interestingly, it wasn't work, it was research. And as daunting as it was, I was so passionate about it, that the hundreds of hours I was devoting to it flew by. I was diving deeeeeep into a new world of alternative therapies, small business, branding, design, systems, cash flow, interest rates on loans, partnership agreements, equity splits, float tank technology and lots more.

I did hit a snag though. An out-of-the-blue opportunity. 

• • • 

Just as I started to throw most of my free time toward creating a float business, a wrinkle presented itself. Mind you, I was still selling radio, and working hard during work hours to excel as an Account Executive, I got a phone call and an offer for a coffee meeting. Always accept offers for coffee meetings, you never know where it'll go.  

A new radio station has just launched in Seattle, and they were looking for young, energetic Account Executives to be added to the team. Apparently I had been identified as a good prospect. I had been reaching my budgets at my radio station but at the same time was having some conflict with one of the higher managers. I had already committed my future to opening a float center, when I met the manager from the new radio station. He wanted me to join their team. He also asked me to name my salary. I did. He said, that was likely do-able. Then we met again a week later with another manager and we hit it off. They formally asked me to join their team.

So it was. 

I was given an opportunity to increase my salary (which was an opportunity to save a large chunk of coin), change radio stations and moonlight as a budding entrepreneur.

• • •

It was clear to me that the universe was rewarding me for following heart. Whether you believe in the Law of Attraction, The Secret or synchronicity, I honestly saw this opportunity as a direct reinforcement of my decision. It was a not-so subtle cue to keep going. Divine, Inspired, Coincidental, Opportune....maybe all of these.

KEY POINT

When we make certain decisions, transformations and shifts in mentality - be aware of subtle external cues. In the midst of your change, do other opportunities present themselves that are aligned with that change? As you're learning something new about yourself, are you getting feedback from others - even though they have no idea whats going on? In The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin talks about subtle cues that can inform our process. Working with the external world, and shaping it to work for us is a Jedi move that entrepreneurs are familiar with. Also, when you shift your attention toward something that is aligned with you highest self/highest path, you'll notice things that previously were invisible. 

• • • 

The rest is history. I continued to work my butt off in my new job (which I was thankful for) while doing the work on weekends and evenings toward my first entrepreneurial exploit. Since then, I've opened two float centers - Float Seattle and Float Bellevue, written and sold an Ebook entitled "How to Start a Float Center" (which is currently being updated), and launched a path as a Life Coach, Speaker and Mentor. I've had two kids. I bought a house and now empowered in my life to continue with the same passion that was ignited in 2010. 

I ditched the 9-5 because I wanted to live an inspired life. I want to continue to take risks, follow my gut and charge forward toward my highest self.

So I'll leave you with one question. And before I ask it, I have one request, please don't immediately think of excuses...

Are you doing what you were meant to do? 

 

-Sean