Client: I can’t deal with my husband. He has no compassion at all. He even admitted it. Anytime I try to talk to him about my issues he just gets impatient with me and talks down to me. I can’t believe I married someone so cold and unfeeling and I’m also allowing it to make me leave myself.
Shawn: Sounds like a rough patch! So sorry, sweetie. ✨☹️
It’s cool to vent. Maybe even go find some pillows or go outside and jump up and down a lot to try to get that out of your body and keep moving the energy
It’s OK not to jump to feeling better if you need to stay mad or sad for a while…. So whenever you’re ready, you could read this, but no hurry:
And whenever you’re ready, it will make sense to turn it around. You can have compassion for him too without going into beating yourself up for the things that have happened. Nobody wished for this. And you know there are times when he is supportive, and the trick is to be the one who is supportive of you whether he is or not, i.e., you get to be supportive without needing to — just because you know you’re worth it.
Think how hard it is to support yourself sometimes; from that perspective, it’s easier to cut him some slack. And at the same time, you don’t need to put up with treatment that doesn’t feel good to you, and you can say that. On the other hand, if life brings it in, maybe you do need to put up with treatment if it doesn’t feel good to you until you do something else. Or use that as a mirror for how you treat yourself and why it hurts so much.
Client: You’re right. And we haven’t gotten into it like this in a long time. It’s been an ongoing thing this week. I swear I just can’t deal with someone so cold and distant. I get that it’s hard. He just says, “Well, I’m terrible at being compassionate” and thinks that’s just OK. It’s not OK.
At least I immediately heard your voice telling me that just because I perceive him leaving me doesn’t mean I have to leave myself. I’m still struggling with those feelings, but your voice of wisdom is there.
Shawn: Yes. I keep noticing how cold and distant you can be to yourself. And in some ways I think you get the warmest and most present for yourself when you are defending against your hubby. So your psyche may actually use that in some way to bring you back to you while making him into the enemy.
So the goal would be to bring you back to you even without making him the enemy, keeping the focus on all the things that he is doing and can do, and being that warm, compassionate spirit for yourself. And that doesn’t mean he is completely off the hook or anything; that means you negotiate for things, or get you guys in counseling together, or do whatever it takes to support yourself, but also support him in making some changes.
It’s fascinating to watch another couple I’m working with, to watch how his intentions are so good and how he wants to be who she wants him to be, but then he just disappears and doesn’t text me or do the things he says he’s going to do. It’s almost like there’s a rebellious little boy that can’t do it if he knows it’s being expected of him.
I remember always complaining that my husband wasn’t affectionate enough, but he said he couldn’t be when I was asking for it because it almost didn’t even count in his mind If he was just doing the thing I was asking. He felt he had to initiate it, and yet he wasn’t initiating it! So it’s kind of a Catch-22 where you end up not getting it either way, but the guy really needs to recognize those ways that he’s rebelling.
And we need to recognize the ways that we’re expecting him to be a girlfriend and be all touchy-feely. Keep reaching out to us women and consider coming up here to the retreat. I just know you love them and things always go better afterwards for you.
Client: What you said makes a lot of sense. He actually initiated a conversation this morning about the treatments and my options and seemed really interested and present. We talked some more later and it went really well. I felt closer to him than I have in a while — that’s good.
CONVERSATION NEXT DAY:
Shawn: Sounds like it paid off for you to open your mind to another way of seeing it, and of seeing him, and of giving him a chance to shine.
Here’s one thing that has helped me is to question the definition of “working”: the mind is a judgement machine and is looking to see if this business is working, if this treatment is working, if this marriage is working, etc.
Any focus on outcome puts us in God’s business and we lose. If we just stay with the process and know that we cannot know what any given thing is supposed to be, then we end up getting the greatest benefits from the process itself.
So, for example, I started doing a green smoothie cleanse with some weight loss goals in mind. I didn’t meet those weight loss goals until two years later! And when I did, I wasn’t sure how I achieved that goal. However, because I knew that the green smoothies were healthful, I felt I allowed myself to eat good, dense food while keeping my busy schedule, and drinking smoothies during down time, even during sessions with clients. I feel good about myself for keeping the commitment, and I think it improved my digestion and elimination, etc.
So, if I had kept the focus only on the weight loss goal, I would have said it wasn’t working and stopped — then I might not have lost the weight which eventually did come off. I also would not have enjoyed or noticed the benefits that I was getting. I had a good feeling about my decision.
Similarly, when I had chronic illnesses, I would wake up and determine if symptoms were there and that would decide the course of my day and whether I felt hopeful and good about myself. I see that’s kind of what you were doing with noticing whether you feel better or depressed, or whether you feel lighter and better on a given day.
If that is your definition of “working,“ and you have already decided that all of this is worth it if it works, and that all of this is not worth it if it doesn’t work, then that’s a lot of pressure, and you’ve set yourself up to “fail” on one side and to “win” on the other side.
I’ve managed to move in a curious, win-win way of life fueled by self-love, where there’s no such thing as needing to know what’s going to happen, where there’s no such thing as turning on myself or regretting a decision if something doesn’t “work.”
I did all of those things for most of my life and it drove anxiety, depression, chronic illness. I know it’s hard when you’re not feeling well to overcome the mindset of “working” or “not working,” but in some ways it’s everything.
It relates to what I teach as “the one thought behind all emotional pain.” And the thought that “this should be different than it is.” It all relates to the mind’s survival-driven habit of creating conditions: “In order to be happy, I need this to be different than it is (this moment, this past, this future, this me, this you, this symptom, this weather, this spouse, this bank account.)”
When you humbly question whether that is what you need, you live in a state of unconditionality. Just being with life as it shows up, just going through the steps of your treatment process as they show up, just noticing your husband across the table supporting you in that process and asking good questions, all of this represents the compassion you were looking for. This compassion is coming in the form of support for you to do this process.
When your mind comes up with the idea that you need him to be what you want him to be, then you miss out on who he is. And you miss out on realizing that you’ve attracted such a powerful, compassionate coach in me. And you miss out on the fact that because you cared enough and had enough compassion for yourself to reach out, you were able to completely change your mindset about your husband, so that you could really enjoy him.
So I think it’s important to question your judgement about whether or not it’s working. Wow. I’m just remembering that’s one of the things my ex-husband would say. We would just be going along doing the best we could and in what I thought was a very productive process that would probably be taking us right where we needed to go, and he would say, “This isn’t working.” Then I would stop and take the time to defend and explain to him why I thought it was working, when in fact I really felt a sense of hopelessness and began to question whether or not it was working.
Of course we can notice whenever we want to make a course correction, or change what we are doing, or stop something completely because the results aren’t “working“ for us. But that will show up naturally as a kind of internal feedback, where we don’t turn on ourselves and decide that the effort was wrong to start with or that we have wasted our time…. It’s more like learning, which happens through a course of trial and error.
The more we can keep our own counsel and do what comes to us to do without judgement or criticism created out of the mind’s limited standards and conditions, and the more we let reality be enough in each moment, and the more we let that life support us, and the more we question the story that we are the decider of what the “best” outcome would be, then the happier we will be as a way of life that loves what shows up and questions the “not working” story.
So, you actually cannot know that these issues might not have more to do with him than with you. They might have more to do with his history, with sex or that particular body part, or being a man, or his mother, or who knows what else.
A man who is truly self actualized and comfortable with himself is going to worship that sensuality and the fact that you are so into it….
But for you to notice the ways that your story says you are already grossed out by your own body is almost like you get to use this as a little joke because it’s so accurate at reflecting to you the ways you think there’s something wrong with you.
How could there be something wrong with you? Only in the context of the mind coming up with a predetermined standard — and he in all of his limits is the judge of the rightness or wrongness of you?
When you think of it that way, it’s kind of shocking to see the way we place ourselves in the hands of external judges.
Client: I loved your texts — they’re amazing and I’ve read them twice and will read them again. It helps so much and I’m going to really try to soak it in!