Tag Archives: love

Little Children Come Out to Play

26 Jan

It would be nice if they would ask our permission, but they don’t. Our little children come out to play without any warning at all. I’m not talking about our sons and daughters. I’m talking about that outer child we all have. the outer child that protects the inner child inside of us. Sound confusing? Maybe but you know the one… they are always causing problems for us. They get in the way of happy, healthy relationships.

One little comment to a grown up can come off one way but once the outer child hears it, it becomes quite the problem. Not because the comment was anything big and not because the outer child is overly dramatic. It is solely because the outer child feels the responsibility to protect the inner child also known as the wounded child. And they are hurting – always. They lie beneath our surface and wait. When they hear anything that sounds remotely like the hurtful words of our parents or they see something happening that reminds them of the hurts and fears of childhood, they call on the outer child and well let’s just say it is downhill from there. As adults we can no longer see clearly or think rationally. We are overtaken by the tantrums and fits of our outer child. We operate from a place of hurt and start moving further and further away from healing. Who knew these little people could do so much damage?

The bad news is the inner child and the outer child are a part of us now and forever. The good news is they are not strangers to us. We know them well and they are close enough to call on and speak directly to. First you have to make sure you recognize your outer child is there. Go back to a previous blog called Identifying Your Outer Child and see if you recognize yours.

The next step is to get to know them a little better when things are calm. Start talking to them now before they jump out and yell at your partner on your behalf. The irony is they think they are helping. They go into attack mode to try to defend because they are protecting the hurting child inside of you. It gets even more complicated because as it turns out, they weren’t really yelling at your partner at all. They were fighting with your partner’s outer child. Now we’ve got multiple children who have come out without permission and they are really getting into it. It can be ugly.

The best way to get to know your inner and outer children is to start talking to them. Be kind, because they are typically in a state of hurt most of the time and only have the reasoning of children. Be patient when they are immature and not listening to you or your partner. Then… lay down the law. For example, I had to start by explaining to my inner child that she is safe because I am a grown up and I will take care of her. That job belongs to me I will never abandon her. I am here, always. I tell her that I understand she needs attention and that I will work hard, in a grown up way, to get it. I explain that fits of crying and sarcastic comments from the outer child will not help me and my partner. I tell my outer child that she needs to stay quiet and let the grown up part of me take care of my relationship. I tell my inner child that I love her but that I’ve got this and she is not to send out the outer child and start causing problems. Most of the time she listens and the grown up side of me gets to stay happy and healthy.

But there is something else that is really important. It’s not enough just to see your own inner and outer children. You must recognize that there is a wounded child inside your mate. That child was told ugly things and hurt in ways you may never fully understand. You don’t have too really you just have to keep your outer child at bay when dealing with your mate’s “children.”. The grown up in you can step up and soothe their inner child. You can say kind things to build them up or calm them down. See the child, be the grown up. You would never yell at a hurting child on purpose but that is essentially what is happening if we are not clearly seeing who is standing before us, our grown up mate or their outer child who has come out without permission.

Those Who Dream…

31 Dec

There is a difference in those who dream and those who don’t. It’s more than a case of optimism versus pessimism and it definitely does not have anything to do with those who hold low expectations and prefer to be happily surprised when something goes their way. Dreaming is about something much bigger.

In true Amy fashion, I was the first one into the courthouse this morning to file my Assumed Name Certificate. I opened a business. While the physical doors built into the brick and mortar, have not opened, the dream has begun. It’s been building in my heart and in my head for years now. While it is great to be an American and live in a land of opportunity where I can own my own business, I still see there is something greater at work. There wasn’t exactly a line out the door of the courthouse, yet every American has the same opportunity that I have. What gives?

As I saw it from a business standpoint this morning, I often see it from a relationship standpoint. What about those friends of mine who have given up on love or decided there isn’t anybody who wants to love them in this lifetime? They’ve lost the dream. But why?

Whether it is matters of business or matters of the heart, the difference between those who dream and those who don’t comes down to just one thing. Those who dream believe they deserve to. At the core of their being, they feel worthy of what they dream for – a business of their own, a love greater than they can even imagine. It should be rightfully theirs because they are a valuable human being who deserves nothing less.

My research isn’t formal but I find that the higher the self-esteem one has, the further into the future they can see their lives. They are willing to go there because they are hopeful it will be decent if not great. They dare to dream.

Just like everybody else, I’ve been knocked down and had my dreams fall apart in more ways than one. There were quiet years in my life where I moved forward but just got by. I’d lost some of who I was and was afraid to dream. Getting hurt can do a number on most of us and a common response is just to be content where we are, maybe even hide out in place of safety and a state of complacency. No dreams allowed. If you find yourself in this spot, take some time and see if there is any connection to your beliefs about who you are and what you deserve. If that turns out to be the case, I don’t know what they told you about yourself, but it isn’t true. You are worthy of your dreams.

Now to tell you to go forward and dream big wouldn’t be fair. It’s like telling you to start on 1st base without recognizing that the dreaming starts at home plate. Believing you’re worthy of your dreams must come first. Weed through the junk and find your way back to you. Believe in yourself and then chase the dream until it is yours.

In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Good luck. I’m rooting for you!

Look Both Ways Before Crossing…

23 Dec

I know you’ve heard those words of wisdom, at least in reference to crossing streets.  I’d like to put a new spin on it for you and encourage you to look both ways before crossing your partner.

Remember first that you are with them for a reason, hopefully many reasons.  One of the reasons is because they get you.  Most of choose someone who understands us, and knows us like no one else.  Sometimes they can see us when we can’t even see ourselves.

I’m the first to admit that I am stubborn and I usually start off every argument sure that I’m right and it is just a matter of proving it.  In my head it sounds like this… “Once I state my case I can go on my merry way of doing things the way I do them.   They’ll see that I was right all along.”

I have often fallen into the trap of preparing my evidence rather than listening to the other side and the perspectives of those who matter to me.  Listening can be difficult when I’m on a mission to prove myself right.  And I find the hardest thing to do is to stop talking and hear how I am being perceived by those I love.  But eventually I do it and I call that looking both ways, my way and their way. 

I know their way matters.  I respect their way of seeing things, it is one of the reasons I chose them to be in my life.  They are smart, observant and they shoot straight with me.  Yes it hurts.  The truth always does.

It’s not in my best interest to cross them and walk around being right all the time.  It’s not in yours either.  Look at the loves in your life.  How and why did you let them in?  Is it safe to be you?   When they call you out on something is it out of love and their hope for you to be accountable and be your best?  For you to grow and be more of who they learned to love in the beginning?  If so… look both ways before crossing your partner.

Undo It

6 Dec

“I want you to undo it.” That’s all I could think to say in the midst of my pain. I knew it was not a fair request. I knew it could not be undone, but it’s all I had left. I was grasping just trying to stay in the moment because I knew what was coming next. It’s the act that always follows me getting hurt. In this act there are three scenes.

Scene 1: Self-hatred. The beating begins. The other person caused the pain but I take the beating. What’s worse is I do the beating. “How could I be so stupid? How did I let this happen? How did I get fooled once again? If I were smart, I would have listened to my gut.” The questions and the self-loathing go on for days. I usually stop about the time my eyes are ready to swell shut from all the crying. It’s then that the last harsh words are internalized, the curtain closes and I wait in anticipation of the next scene.

Scene 2: The lesson. So help me God if I don’t learn something from this pain. I cannot and will not just get hurt. There has to be a lesson in here somewhere. And the meaning-making begins. This part lasts even longer which I guess is a good thing. The lessons are always different and the experience changes with every hurt but I can tell you what happened this time. With the drop of the last tear my head cleared and I heard my own mantra… “This is what it means to be with me.” Here was an opportunity to say it again, the chance to be authentic knowing that every person has the choice to take me or leave me. I began the conversation in my head, gathered my thoughts, my questions, and challenged myself to stay focused. The most genuine and heart felt talks followed. It was the kind of “real” I have always wanted. As time passes and the play continues, I am learning to be a much better communicator. I can articulate my values and my deal-breakers in one breath. You’d be surprised how few people can do this. I can disagree without raising my voice. This is huge. I used to be a class act yeller and I hated it. There were lots of long nights and sore throats in the past, but not anymore. Now I can be bold and ask for what I need. Best of all, because I know myself so well, I can really listen. I don’t have to prepare my next argument while the other person is talking. I get to listen and really try to understand where they are coming from. What I have found is that when I practice empathy, it rewards me with a level of knowing someone that does not come any other way. We talk, we bond and the curtain closes on scene two.

Scene three: Thank you. Without the pain I would not know joy. Without the test, I would not study myself. Without you I would not grow. Without you I would never know the magnitude of true love.

It took a while you know. This play used to only have one scene, and after enough years of beating myself up I figured there must be a scene that followed. There had to be more.
And so as all good stories go, this one too, has a happy ending. I’m grateful for the lessons and grateful for the silver lining of this and every other dark cloud that has hovered over me in this lifetime. I am ready for an encore!

His Needs, Her Needs

11 Aug

If you are married or in a committed relationship that could use a little help, I hope that you’ll keep reading. Women are different from men, so different in fact, we’ve even seen books about the two sexes being from different planets. It can feel like it sometimes. While men often wonder why we women over complicate things, we can’t figure out how men can be so simple-minded sometimes. How can everything be black and white? I’ve got a million more questions about how the other sex operates, I bet you do too. While it is fun to sit around with our same-sex peers and wonder at the mystery of the other, most of us would stop criticizing if we just knew what their needs are and how to meet them. If you want to save your relationship, the best thing you can do is learn what your partner’s needs are and meet them. If that is your intention, then I highly recommend the book “His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair Proof Marriage” by Willard F. Harley.

I admit I was turned off a little when I saw the world “affair” in the title. A relationship in trouble doesn’t always include an affair. I think you might be surprised how common they are. The author does an excellent job explaining how even those who never intend to have one can find themselves there. They begin in the simplest ways of someone outside the marriage/relationship meeting the needs of one of the partners. In a nutshell, if you can’t meet your partner’s needs, I promise you there is someone who can and will.

The man’s five most basic needs in a marriage tend to be:
1. Sexual fulfillment
2. Recreational companionship
3. An attractive spouse
4. Domestic support
5. Admiration

The woman’s five most basic needs in a marriage tend to be:
1. Affection
2. Conversation
3. Honesty and openness
4. Financial support
5. Family commitment

According to Harley, When partners don’t understand each other’s needs, they try to fulfill the needs that he or she fulfills. A woman will become overly affectionate and a man will make more than usual sexual advances. At best the mate will respond with mild pressure and at worst becomes annoyed, irritated or frigid.

Even worse, if a man is not affectionate (meeting the woman’s need) she is not likely to have sex with him (meeting the man’s need). Once the cycle begins, it can be tough to find your way out. From each partner’s perspective, it clearly appears to be the other partner’s fault.

What I encourage you to do is to rise to the challenge. I understand your needs are not being met, but my guess is, neither are your partner’s. Take the initiative and begin to meet your partner’s needs. Put your hurt feelings aside and see what happens in time when you begin to meet their most basic needs. The commitment to be together is a commitment to meet each other’s needs, for better or for worse. Watch their heart change as you begin to give them what they need. Your heart will soften as well when you realize your needs will be met in kind. You’ll be glad you made the first move.

Self Renovation

28 Jul

I’ve been cleaning and painting a house every day for the last week. It’s my rental house. I have dusted, scrubbed, washed, swept, wiped down and picked at things with my finger nails that I probably shouldn’t have. I’ve taped, cut in, painted and repainted every nook and cranny. I’ve changed light bulbs, put in curtains and air fresheners in every room. The place went from trash to treasure in about 10 days time. To see the change has been nothing short of moving and somewhat emotional.

I was about 5 days in when I began to see the changes really taking place and my first thought was, why haven’t I done this in my primary home? What has kept me from spending money on new lighting, paint and vanilla fragrance in the home I live in every day? It didn’t take much time to convince myself that was what I should do. Another 5 days went by and then I did what I always do, I make meaning. I find a way to relate it to my existence as a human being and learn a lesson. I strongly believe that is what we are all here to do anyway.

If you’ve ever dabbled in any dream analysis and tried to figure out why the heck you keep dreaming you’re late for class, running around naked or your legs won’t work when you’re running from the bad guys, then you may know when we dream about a house, it often represents ourselves. When we explore different rooms in the house, we are often exploring different parts of our being – perhaps our roles as a parent, a sibling, a professional, a creative being and so on. Or perhaps it’s the cynical part, the depressed part, the hurting part, the people pleaser part and the broken parts.

Now back to my task of making meaning and allowing this rental house to represent me for the sake of learning. Before I did the cleaning, the house smelled. It was instinctual to turn away and walk the other direction. Is there anybody that perceives me that way? I’m not asking if I stink, and I’m pretty sure I don’t but I am asking if people are more inclined to approach me or turn away from me at first glance and at first encounter with my energy. Am I positive or negative? Do I attract or repel? And if I did a little more upkeep on my attitude, would I draw more positive people to me? I believe what I put out there comes back to me so it is on my to-do list to refresh my attitude.

The old flooring had stains. It had weird icky gooey stuff. It had years of memories, liquid and otherwise. I picked at some of these trying to clean them up. What kinds of stains am I carrying around? I know when people unknowingly pick at one of my old wounds the feelings come gushing out at a rate that is more than called for in the present situation. In other words, they see me “over reacting.” I’ve been triggered and they don’t know it. I think instead of letting these old hurts continue to embarrass me and cause me to look overly dramatic and then just scab over, I might just try some therapy, some meditation, some healing of the soul. Rumi says the wound is where the light enters so I’ll make sure I don’t make them disappear completely (aka denial) but I’ll take better care to clean them and prevent further scarring.

The most damage and dirt in the house was upstairs. It is also in the “upstairs” of me. It’s in my eyes when I look in the mirror and in my mouth when I say those ugly things about my hair and my body. It’s in my ears when I hear only the negative. It’s in my head, in my thoughts and in the old scripts I’ve repeated over the years. I need a lobotomy. Okay, not really, but obviously it’s time to clear the dust from my eyes and see the beauty in this woman that God created. I will shut this mouth and do what my mother said; if I can’t say something nice (about myself) well then I won’t say anything at all. I don’t know what to do about the way I hear things. I guess I’ll probably encourage those that love me to repeat themselves again and again until I can hear it for what it is. They say I am beautiful, that I am kind and strong and smart. That is worth hearing so I will listen. My brain that has the old scripts is really just that little girl version of me still crying about who knows what. I believe the adult version of me is going to just have to sit her down for a come to Jesus meeting and tell it like it is. I will tell her we’re cleaning house and it feels good.

Unspoken words and Untaught Lessons

5 May

Teaching our children becomes second nature once we enter the world of parenthood. It’s as natural as breathing. We teach them to say “mama” and to tie their shoes. We teach them to wash behind their ears and to say “please” and “thank you.” As they get bigger, the lessons get bigger. “Respect your elders, treat others as you want to be treated and remember that no one can ever take your education away from you.” There are lessons on top of lessons, most of which are directly taught with purpose. I guess what I worry most about is the incidental learning. It’s what they hear when we don’t know they are listening, it’s what they pick up from the behaviors we unknowingly model, and what they read between the lines. Children are immature, and they are supposed to be. This immaturity, while appropriate, allows children to make false connections and assumptions about the world around them. Based on the knowledge they have and their egocentric ways, they often believe they are the cause of most things, good and bad. They are the reason their parents are in a good mood and they are the cause of their parent’s divorce. It’s all about them and it should be. It is developmentally appropriate for children to see the world in this way, in a way that revolves around them. They are sponges for everything we say and do. We teach and they learn.
I cannot begin to imagine all the things that you teach your children. I know while it is natural to you, it is also important. My guess is that you talk to them often and find the teachable moments when you can. I applaud you. It’s hard to catch them all. Even the best parents leave things unsaid and lessons untaught. While we don’t always know the incidental lessons they’ll pick up, there is one lesson I’d like to put on your radar so it will be sure to reach your children. I don’t doubt for a second that they can answer anything I ask them about being kind to their neighbor and washing their hands before they eat, but I wonder what they would say if I asked them… “How do you know you are a good person?”
Being a good person is different than being good at things. So for all the soccer games and gymnastic meets we go too – they only tell our kids they are good athletes (at least we believe they are) and we support their efforts. When we buy them toys and electronics it is because their behavior and their grades are good. If that is the case, then what are we doing and saying to let them know they are a good person? I bring this up to you because it matters, a lot.
I won’t ever forget that feeling when I could not answer the question myself. Someone asked me and I was speechless. I had the best parents. They did everything for me, they supported me, they taught me lessons and they bought me things. Life was good, but was I? I was pretty sure I was. Wasn’t that the message they were sending me all those years? Isn’t that what my mother was telling me every time she bragged about me in front of me? Indeed it was.
Although I didn’t answer the question that day, I can answer it now. The journey has been long but it doesn’t have to be. If your words aren’t exact, it leaves things open to interpretation. Why risk it? This is our children’s self image we are talking about. The question doesn’t have to be so difficult and the response can be automatic if the lesson is taught early and often.
While in that moment, I did not know for sure how I knew I was a good person, I knew for sure there was an unspoken message and an untaught lesson I had to get my children… and fast! Over the years it has now become second nature to praise my children for being good people. If ever they were asked how they know if they were a good person, I believe they’d say, “My mom tells me I am.” When I hear stories about what happened on the playground, I respond with things like, “Wow, you are a good friend. I like the way you handled that.” When I see a kind gesture between my children, they are likely to hear, “You’re a good brother, I saw how you helped your sister out.” If you watch your children closely enough, you’ll find ample opportunity to use my favorite line, “Your heart is so good.”
My advice to you is this…Catch them being good! When you recognize that your child does a good thing, makes a move from the heart, shows kindness, empathy, or concern for others, take advantage of that teachable moment to teach them that they are a good person. It’s an invaluable lesson that is more important than eating our vegetables and remembering to say “Yes sir.”