“When you love me I’ll show you who I am”

girl-850117_1280We all crave love, intimacy, connection and good relationships, it is one of the most important things in life, and it comes in many forms (friends, siblings, lovers or even strangers).

Since it is so important to us, of course it creates big pain to lose it, or even risk to lose it. So we try to protect ourselves from that. But, and I’ve written about this before but keep coming back to is cause it’s so important, when we close ourselves off from pain we also close ourselves off to love and connection, since they enter through the same door.

Usually we are completely unaware of this, and can’t see that we are pushing people away and keeping them out even though we want them to come closer. In our minds, what we do makes perfect sense.

We truly feel that it’s reasonable to expect to first be completely loved by someone, and then open up and be vulnerable about who we are.

We think that we can first decide if someone is interesting to date, and then get to know them if we think that they are.

We think that we can play it safe, and thereby eliminate the risks.

Well, we can, but at a very high price. The best and safest way to not get your heart broken is to not let anyone come close. Ever. You’ll be very miserable in other ways but you won’t get your heart broken.

We need to turn the whole way of thinking around and say yes to the opportunities – and to the risks! We need to compare the risk of getting hurt to the risk of not taking that risk. Because that has consequences too.

It’s not a huge deal that you might reject people or miss out on opportunities right now, today, but if you do it every day for the rest of your life, that will equal a very lonely life. And that is a huge risk!

You also need to trust your ability to survive emotional pain. Because you will, if it happens. It will hurt, you will feel like crap, it will affect you in many ways – and then you will move on and learn from it. In this all inclusive package called life, some shit sandwiches will occasionally be served. It’s part of the deal. It is how we learn.

You will survive it. And it will be so worth it.

Say no, and create a new normal.

I talk to so many people who are settling with all kinds of things in life. Men, work, friends, things, experiences. And I see a pattern where we settle because we don’t know that more is possible. Or we don’t think it’s possible for us.

There is nothing strange about settling for the best thing you know, but I implore you to go beyond that. You don’t know everything that exists, do you? The best thing that you know is not the same as the best thing that is available.

So much more is available, and you know by your intuitive feeling of wanting more, even if your mind says it’s impossible. It’s not. There is so much more out there waiting for you, and the fact that you have not yet experienced it doesn’t actually mean anything.

But before you can get a hold of that you have to start saying no to the things that are already familiar, but not satisfying.

You can’t fill up your life with what you want when it is already full of things you don’t want.

You must create space. You must say no.

I know, this is a tough one for many of us. Saying no to everything that’s familiar and, let’s admit it, pretty ok, for the idea and hope, of  something better. That’s a big shift, that requires a lot of trust.

But really, what’s the option here? Are you gonna half-ass your entire life and not even take the chance of getting what you truly want? Are you gonna keep spending your time with people who don’t understand you, support you or share your dreams?

I decided I wasn’t willing to do that, so I let go. Of pretty much everything. For a long time I spent most of my time alone, at home or in the woods. I said no to friendships that didn’t feel right. I said goodbye to many of the things that I owned. I said no to job offers I didn’t want. And most importantly, I stopped even thinking about dating people “just in case they might be better than they seem”, when what I really wanted was to be swept off my feet.

I’m going to leave you with a little spoiler:
When you do this, at fist you will feel calm. So much crap and drama is suddenly gone. Ahhh.
Then it will feel empty.
And then you will find that new people, opportunities and dreams start coming into your life. That will feel great. But before that it will feel empty.

But you are not alone. Your life is not empty.
Your life is full: full of space for your dreams to come in. Full of space for better dates. Full of space for new friend that really get you. Full of space for real intimacy.

Are you looking for someone “perfect”?

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Are you looking for the perfect partner, or are you trying to be one?

I’d suggest you stop, because people aren’t perfect. We’re human. We have good and bad sides, we make mistakes, mess up, change our minds, get confused, make good decisions and bad decisions and are overall…human, rather than perfect.

Looking for someone who’s perfect is like looking for someone with three arms. Trying to be perfect is equally futile.

This may sound discouraging, but the beauty of it is that real is so much better than perfect. It might get messy sometimes, but at least it’s authentic, it’s growing, evolving and ever changing. It’s life.

There is room for improvement. There is space for growing.

So don’t spend your time trying to find or become the perfect partner. Instead of focusing on you or someone else being perfect, aim your energy at what you want to create.

What do you want to fill your life with, and what kind of relationship do you want to create when you meet your beautifully human love?

Do you dare to open your heart?

iStock_000008028422_SmallI got asked the other day what the most common problem is that I encounter with my clients.

I answered the fear of rejection. It is something so incredibly human and universal. Of course no one wants to feel rejected, it’s a horrible feeling. But being rejected and feeling rejected is actually not the same thing.

How we feel isn’t always a true reflection of what is happening. Rather it’s a reflection of what’s going on inside of us. A lot of people have such a fear of rejection that it becomes the only thing they can see and think about. They interpret everything they see as a sign of rejection or a risk of rejection.

Being desired and feeling desired isn’t the same thing either. If you can’t receive the desire someone has for you, it’s possible that you’ll make up all kinds of excuses for their behavior. “They’re just saying that to be nice, or to manipulate me” or “they’ll change their mind when they realize who I really am”.

We don’t see the world as it is, so we don’t calculate the risks in a realistic way. We need to learn the difference between our own fears and the actual situation.

Because, sure, there is a risk. I’ll happily admit that.

Opening your heart, letting people come close and having intimate relationships requires courage and vulnerability. That is a fact, there is no way around that. And it is a risk that all of us have to take.

But really, what are our options? Is it less terrifying to close your heart, don’t let people close and never have intimate relationships?

I think most people would agree that that would be the scariest thing of all.

So really, the only thing that is worse than taking the risk is not taking it.

The benefits are huge.
Open your heart.

What you know and what you learn

stack-of-books-1001655_1280There are areas in every persons life where we feel skilled. At home. We know what to do, how to handle challenges, how to grow, or just to stay on top of it and avoid mistakes. It’s a different area for different people, and it’s a mixture of personality traits, things we learned from our parents, or life, and things that just felt natural to us along the way.

For someone it’s music; you just sit down with an instrument and get it. For someone else it’s social interactions; they just love meeting new people and feel so good in every social setting. Others have a feeling for writing, some kind of sport, or design.

Then there are things that we need to learn. That maybe don’t come as naturally to us, or that for some reason no one taught us along the way. Maybe our parents lacked this skill or knowledge too, maybe ww grew up in an environment where other things were more emphasized or maybe we got sick for a long time and missed out on something that is part of most peoples life experience.

Then we can learn. Luckily, we can learn almost anything. But what I often find when I’m coaching, is that a lot of people seem to think that it is somehow unfair, or wrong that they – of all people – have to take this journey of self-discovery, healing and coaching. When it looks so easy for everyone else!

“How come I can’t figure out this dating thing when it’s so obvious to everyone else?”
“Why does this keep happening to me when dating looks so easy breezy to others?”

I know that pain, believe me. I spent years blaming life for being unfair and it wasn’t until way later that I realized that fairness is a quite big order from something as random as life. And I also realized that I wasn’t seeing the world clearly. I completely missed out on the fact that I had other skills and advantages that felt so easy and obvious to me that I couldn’t even grasp the idea that that could be an issue for someone else. All I saw was the things that I lacked and others had.

So even if you may struggle a bit with your love life at the moment, you can create the change that you want, and you also have many other life areas where everything is going great without any struggle or effort. It may be that you have great friends, your good health or that you’ve always known what you’ve wanted to do for work. Appreciate that, and realize that it’s not reasonable to expect that you excel in every area of life automatically.

Lately I have thought a lot about this. Why do we think that something is wrong when we have issues? Isn’t it kind of arrogant to demand that we come into this world fully equipped for every situation in every area without a learning curve? How could we possibly know things we were never taught and didn’t come easy to us?

Isn’t a much better approach to be thankful for the things that did come to us with ease and grace, and then start doing what we can to learn the rest – without making ourselves feel bad about it – and even be grateful for the possibility to learn as well?

So if you bash on yourself because of your love life, please remember that you are not alone, and that you can learn, grow, and take charge of what happens, just like in any other are of your life. And that other people need to make an effort to create what they want in other areas where things have always been working for you.

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

As a coach I get to listen to a lot of people sharing their innermost secrets about a lot of things. It is one of the things I am the most grateful for with my job, because it gives me so much perspective. It quickly became very clear to me that even though we practically live in the same world, we don’t perceive it in the same way. At all.

Instead we base our idea of the so called reality on our very personal experiences. It makes sense actually, if something happened in a certain way the first ten times around, it’s reasonable to expect it will keep happening. But just because something happened in the past doesn’t mean it will in the present, or in the future. Things can and do change.

infinite-903459_1280A curious thing is that for someone else another thing happens every time in that same situation. Same situation, different outcome. (Practical example: Everyone I date just want to be my friend vs Everyone I date just want to sleep with me).

Every single one of my clients come to me with a very firm idea of how things are – it’s just that they all say different things and contradict each other! We all have very different ideas of how the world works, even though we live in the same world. Obviously our “maps” of the world are very subjective.

This means that when someone tells you something about men, women, dating, attraction, love, relationships or life in general, they are sharing their version of it. They share the conclusion they made from their very personal experiences. They probably won’t present it like that, but rather as a straight fact, but be aware and careful about who you listen to, and where their information is coming from.

And as a bonus, this also goes for your own thoughts! They are also very likely to sound like truths, but are very biased from your experiences and expectations, and not necessarily objective truths.

That is why I always give my coaching clients practical assignments where I challenge them to do things i new ways. Because if we base our knowledge of the world on our experiences, new experiences will change how we see the world, which in turn, will make us behave differently and create new experiences. Tadaa!

Protection of the tender heart

heart in the darkMany of us learn at an early age that intimacy, vulnerability and closeness can hurt, and it seems like the power to hurt is in everybody else’s hands. This might not even be true, but if this is how it feels, we will integrate it as the truth, and do what we can to protect ourselves.

We – consciously or unconsciously – start putting up walls, create intricate strategies to keep people at a safe distance and stay safe. They may not be the most effective or sophisticated ways of protection (they were created by a child, after all) but it’s the best you’ve got.

For a period of time, maybe until you move away from your parents or leave high school if that’s when the pattern started, these walls and strategies serve a purpose. The thing is that when the (real or perceived) danger is over, we tend to keep the walls up, because we aren’t even aware they are there.

The problem with protecting your heart from hurt is that you at the same time “protect” it from love, intimacy and closeness. This makes many of us end up as lonely adults with child made walls around our hearts that keep people from coming close. Even if we are unaware of it, the walls will keep doing their job, and you will wonder why your love life feels like a constant struggle.

Realizing what kind of protections you still have around your heart will make everything make much more sense, and then there is the work of putting the wall down. And yes, since you put them up you are the only one who can tear them down. Also, it is not up to someone else to come through, put down or jump over your walls (and if they did it would scare the crap out of you!). Your wall is your responsibility.

The process of seeing the wall, and start to change the strategies that keeps it is challenging, but also the most rewarding thing you can do. On the other side of your wall is LOVE. CONNECTION. FRIENDSHIP. RELATIONSHIPS. INTIMACY. JOY.

It is indeed a big change to not only stop doing the things that keep people at a distance but also start inviting people in, but it will be the most important change that you make, and I am here to guide you along the way.

Are you a match?

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We all have a very human need for love and connection. It is one of our greatest needs and motivators, and the fear of not having it, or losing it, creates great pain. Therefore, we are usually willing to do a lot of adjusting to not feel left out.

The problem is that that doesn’t really work. If you want to feel love, connection and belonging, vulnerability and authenticity is completely neccessary. If you are not being you, you won’t feel that connection because others are connecting with something that isn’t really you.

The connection you long for goes both ways. It’s not all about finding acceptance from others, you need to like and respect them too. Not just anybody can be your best friend, partner or even acquaintance. You need to know what kind of qualities you like in people, meetings and relationships, and then go out and find it! And let me tell you, your authenticity is key for that! When you know who you want to be and who you want to meet, you will simply see if there is a match when you meet a new person, rather than trying to gauge if they like you.

Instead of feeling rejected if if doesn’t work out, you’ll just see that you and them want different things, and that’s totally fine. There is a huge release and freedom in letting other people be as they are, as well as yourself.

 

You vs everyone else

i-am-461804_640The one person you know for sure you will have a relationship with for the rest of your life is – you.

No matter how hard you try, you will never get away from yourself. You will always see yourself in the mirror, you will be there for all the ups and downs, and wherever you go, there you are.

When this insight sinks in it becomes very clear that how you treat yourself is one of the most important things in life. You will always have to live with your own decisions, hear your own thoughts and live in your own body.

Considering how much we are willing to do for other people we care about, even though we will at best share a part of our lives with them, isn’t it strange how badly we are often willing to treat ourselves? Let’s change that. You can’t get rid of yourself, but you can start appreciating yourself and, if you like, become the most awesome version of you possible.

One of the biggest self-help clichés is “love yourself”. Well sure, but how the heck do you do it? Let’s turn it around for a  moment. Think about someone you love who isn’t you. What do you do to love them? This question made me laugh the first time I heard it because loving the people I love doesn’t feel like a task I can describe or practice or put down on a to-do-list. I just love them.

If self-love doesn’t come as easily one way to make it more concrete is to look at how you think about, talk to and behave towards the people you love, and compare it to how you think about, talk to and behave towards yourself. Is it similar or is there a difference?

If you find that you treat others better than yourself, I invite you to write a list of the loving things you do for others (comforting instead of blaming them when things go wrong, showing them appreciation through kind words, gifts and support, speaking up if someone treats them bad etc) and start doing that for yourself.