The Real Problem

Your Inner Critic is the voice in your mind that is constantly talking to you and telling you what you need to improve, where you don’t measure up, and what you need to fix. Your inner critic tries to have control over your world and convinces you that, if you listen to it and do exactly what it says:

  • You will have control.
  • You will be able to get your life to go in the direction that you want it to go.
  • You will get people to treat you the way you want them to.

In our work though The Center for ExtraOrdinary Relationships, we speak with  folks all the time who don’t realize how much of our lives are controlled by our inner critic. It’s easy to get automatically sucked into the message of the inner critic and then attempt to control the feelings we’re having by fixing or changing the world outside. We think that if “they” can just change their current circumstance, things will be ok.

Pointing fingerThe real problem is not with the outside world. Most of the time, problems are not what they appear to be. The real problem lies with your reaction to whatever is occurring, and that reaction is caused by the inner critic.

Attempts to change the outside world can wreak havoc on our relationships.

We try to fix or control the way people behave towards us, so that we can feel loved, important, valued. When the important people in our lives trigger our inner critic, we can react by getting angry, critical, sometimes even hostile! Even with the best relationship advice, this can become a pattern in relationships, where even the smallest of arguments can trigger people into an out-of-control reaction.

Unlike some methods found in traditional relationship counseling, understanding what you are REALLY upset about is the key to having great relationships. Rather than blaming other people for your reaction, it is important to recognize that it is actually your inner critic that is triggered, telling you that they are behaving this way because you are not loved enough, valued enough, important enough. This is how soda cans left on counters can cause blow up explosions! We are never angry at what we think we are angry about.

It is always the underlying message that our inner critic is giving us that is responsible for the damaging patterns in our relationships.

When you stop believing your inner critic’s messages, you have the ability to completely transform the quality of your relationships. You have the power to create more love, connection, passion, and fulfillment, simply by not allowing your inner critic to control your relationships.

Soda Cans Can Blow Up

Unlike some methods found in traditional relationship counseling understanding what you’re REALLY upset about is the key to having extraOrdinary relationships.

Rather than blaming other people for your reaction, it is important to recognize that it is actually your inner critic that is triggered, telling you that they are behaving this way because you are not loved enough, valued enough, important enough.

THIS IS HOW SODA CANS LEFT ON A COUNTER CAN CAUSE BLOW UP EXPLOSIONS!   

We are never angry at what we think we are angry about. It is always the underlying message that our inner critic is giving us that is responsible for the damaging patterns in our relationships.

noYour Inner Critic is the voice in your mind that is constantly talking to you and telling you what you need to improve, where you don’t measure up, and what you need to fix.

Your inner critic tries to have control over your world, and convinces you that if you listen to it and do exactly what it says, you will have control. You will be able to get your life to go in the direction that you want it to go. You will get people to treat you the way you want them to. Most of us don’t realize how much of our lives are controlled by our inner critic.

When the important people in our lives trigger our inner critic, we can react by getting angry, critical, sometimes even hostile! Even with the best relationship advice, this can become a pattern in relationships, where even the smallest of arguments can trigger people into an out-of-control reaction.

Most people get automatically sucked into the message of the inner critic, and then attempt to control the feelings they are having by fixing or changing the world outside. They think that if they can just change their current circumstance, they will be ok. The real problem is not with the outside world. Most of the time, problems are not what they appear to be. The real problem lies with your reaction to whatever is occurring, and that reaction is caused by the inner critic.

This attempt to change the outside world can wreak havoc on our relationships. We try to fix or control the way people behave towards us, so that we can feel loved, important, valued.

When you stop believing your inner critic’s messages, you have the ability to completely transform the quality of your relationships. You have the power to create more love, connection, passion, and fulfillment, simply by not allowing your inner critic to control your relationships.

Learning To Be Free of Manipulations

manipulationLearning to separate yourself from your Inner Critic and let go of the automatic attempt to fix or control and instead very consciously choosing love and connection to your true self – without the interference of your Inner Critic – is a key step to an extraordinary relationship.

The greatest gift you can give to your relationships is to learn to be free from the damaging messages of your Inner Critic. Your Inner critic is constantly evaluating and judging you, your life, your partner, and your relationships. When your inner critic is in charge, it tries to control other people and the dynamics in the relationship so that things fit your Inner Critic’s ideal picture. Of course, in trying to do that, at any given moment, your partner can do or say something that causes distress inside you as soon as that ideal picture is not met. Our Inner critic creates fear and insecurity because:

  • Your partner is not behaving the way that they should, or
  • Things aren’t happening in your relationship the way that you want them to.

Your inner critic labels situations as desirable or undesirable, good or bad, right or wrong, all based on the way things are “supposed” to be.

Your Inner Critic tries to make sure situations that happened in the past don’t repeat themselves or tries to prevent situations that may occur in the future so as to avoid any possibility of discomfort. But the Inner Critic’s attempts to prevent you from experiencing what it labels as “problems” is actually creating more problems. This is how your Inner Critic causes you to struggle and suffer in your life.

Your Inner Critic is either trying to prevent problems from occurring in your relationship or trying to figure out how to handle it when there is a problem.

If your partner says something that makes you feel badly inside, your Inner Critic will attempt to make them realize they are wrong or will punish them so they never make you feel that way again. Your Inner Critic keeps you stuck in believing the thoughts that create the bad inner feelings in the first place.

The key here is recognizing that your inner critic is the one who is telling you that you should feel disturbed. When you are lost in your Inner Critic, you say and do things that may end up causing damage in your relationships. You don’t have clarity,  instead you’re lost in your inner critic’s attempts to fix things.

This is how negative vicious cycles get formed in relationships…acting and saying things from the point of view of your inner critic.

Our practice helps save marriages, if you feel you could use expert relationship advice, you can always call on us…we’re here for you.

Messages the Inner Critic Sends

girl-looking-in-mirror-3.jpg?w=640&h=366At our family and marriage counseling center, we have discovered that much of our sense of self comes from the messages of our inner critic. We believe the messages of our inner critic, even when life gives us evidence with a totally opposite message.

If our inner critic tells us that we are not good enough:

  • No matter how many people love us,
  • No matter how much success we have had in our lives,
  • No matter how many compliments we have received we only listen to what our inner critic says.

We think we hear those positive things about ourselves because we have “fooled” the ones we love. If they REALLY knew us the way we “know” ourselves, they would see what we know to be true. But, thus far, we have fooled them. What great con artists we all are! What if others actually see us for who we REALLY are?

What if who we think we are, our self concept, is really the lies our inner critic has been telling us for our whole lives?

When we listen to the lies of our inner critic, we don’t let people get too close, or they will discover that we are not enough. So, it is our inner critic that is responsible for keeping our heart closed.

  1. When our hearts are closed, our walls of protection are up.
  2. When our walls are up, even the best relationship advice can’t help with saving a marriage.

In our decades of working as family and marriage counseling experts, we’ve discovered that a closed heart contributes to:

  • Depression,
  • Anxiety,
  • Low energy,
  • Feelings of tiredness and being run down.

When our hearts are open, this creates high energy, and we can experience joy, passion, enthusiasm. So, our energy level has little to do with our age, our sleep patterns, our eating patterns. Mostly, our energy level has to do with whether our hearts are open or closed, which depends on what our inner critic is telling us at any given moment.

How much energy you have, how much love you feel, how much enthusiasm you have, how much enjoyment of life you experience is all about keeping your heart open.

Our counseling center, The Center for ExtraOrdinary Relationships is offering a one-day relationship course titled, YOUR INNER CRITIC: THE ULTIMATE TROUBLE MAKER IN RELATIONSHIPS on May 14, 2016 where you can learn how to keep your heart open.

Keeping your heart open, regardless of the circumstances, is what creates true joy, vitality and love.

  • Whether you are single and looking for a relationship,
  • Want to make a good relationship even better, or
  • Want to fix a troubled relationship, knowing how to keep your heart open, regardless of the circumstances, is the key.

We hope you can join us and permanently shift the way you see yourself and your relationships with others. Once you learn to keep your heart open, the quality of your life will never be the same!

ANGER MANAGEMENT

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Many people who we see in our practice struggle with anger.   Anger at their spouses, anger at their parents, anger at their children, anger at their partners, anger at their bosses, anger at their friends. They come in feeling very justified in their anger, and seek ways to change the other person so that they can feel less angry.

THE REAL SOURCE OF ANGER

Anger over time turns into chronic resentment, which then affects the dynamics of their relationships, not to mention their overall mood. What most of us do not see is that much of our anger has its source in unfulfilled expectations.

A SET UP FOR PROBLEMS
When we expect our kids to be better behaved, our partners to be less self centered, our bosses to be more appreciative, our parents to be more supportive, or our friends to be more thoughtful, we don’t realize that we are setting ourselves up to be disappointed at best, and downright angry at worst, because they don’t fit our pictures.

ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC?
We are not saying that these pictures are wrong. We are saying that it is the attachment to having them be met that leads to getting angry and staying stuck there! As you probably already know, this doesn’t feel very good! Sometimes our expectations far exceed the reality about what is possible. Sometimes the child we expect to be better behaved is having a bad day. Sometimes our partners are just not up to the task! Letting go of the attachment to our pictures can give us some relief from our angry feelings.

ACCEPTANCE IS THE KEY
When we are less angry, we can see people more clearly for who they are, and who they may never be. Basically, we can learn to love the good, and not focus as much on the bad. When we can accept the people in our lives exactly as they are, and exactly as they are not, our lives become more satisfying. When we have more acceptance of the way a person is, we can actually practice letting go of our expectations and pictures. If you want less anger in your life, you need to be willing to let go. This is the road to freedom.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

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We all have said “I love you” to someone at some point in our lives; to a partner, spouse, lover, child, parent, friend. But, how many of us take the time to really look at what we mean when we say those three “magic” words? Is it a feeling we feel, a thought that we think, a concept that occurs in our mind’s eye?

WHAT IS LOVE?

For our relationships to thrive, I believe that “love” needs to be a way of being that occurs in our actions, not just in words or thoughts. We may feel that we love another, but are we being loving when we interact with them? It may be easy to be loving when we are happy or pleased with them, or when they are showing up the way we want them to be. But, when we are angry, upset, disappointed or hurt does our loving behavior fly out the window?

AWARENESS IS THE KEY

Without being aware of what we are saying and how we are acting, we can give ourselves permission to be hurtful, punitive, even downright mean some times. I’m not talking about being Polly Anna who is “nice” or “good” all the time, who says nothing and doesn’t make waves. I’m pointing to becoming aware of the impact our words and actions have on those we love. I’m talking about being willing to find ways of communicating that lead to resolution of a conflict rather than escalation.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Love is not a concept, or a warm fuzzy feeling, love is an action verb. It shows up in how we act toward those we say we love.

Your Relationship With Yourself

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Many of us never really think about what having a relationship with yourself really means. However, it is the key to everything we truly want in life; the key to peace, joy, contentment, love, and connection. Often we are not aware that it is our automatic thoughts about ourselves and of life that robs us of the very things that we are striving to attain. We often think that the way we can attain love, peace, joy, contentment, happiness, is by perfecting the “content” of our lives. If we get the “right” job, the “right” amount of money, weigh the “right” amount, be in the “right” relationship, we will find what we are looking for. The longer we pursue these goals as a means of attaining happiness, the more we recognize that the feeling of happiness or peace when the goal is met never lasts long.

THE HAMSTER ON THE HAMSTER-WHEEL

The minute we achieve a goal, we are onto the next, thinking that it is the next goal that will provide us with the feelings we are trying to achieve. It’s like we’re hamsters on a hamster wheel, always running towards something to make us feel the peace and satisfaction we crave, only to recognize that the feelings are still out of reach. The more we are stuck in this pattern of searching for perfection, the more anxiety, depression, overwhelm, dissatisfaction and disconnection we feel. We believe that we need to keep “fixing” ourselves to achieve what we desire. This fixing and perfecting creates a relationship with ourselves in which we feel like we’re not enough.

END THE VICIOUS CYCLE!

The way out of this vicious cycle is to recognize that you are trying to perfect yourself to feel like you are whole, and that is a race to nowhere. You are already whole. And, this automatic habit gives us no access to a change in our focus.  Having a satisfying relationship with yourself involves grounding yourself only in the moment right in front of you. It involves constantly recognizing the habit of trying to fix and perfect. When you are able to accept exactly what is, and exactly what isn’t, you develop a relationship with yourself that is peaceful and loving. And it is this peaceful and loving relationship with yourself that is the basis for everything that you want in life.  Moving from the unconscious, automatic habit of fixing, changing and perfecting, to a conscious choice to accept yourself and your life exactly as it is in this moment, is the key to a life of joy and gratitude.

 

 

 

Your Inner Critic

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THE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD

Your Inner Critic is the voice inside your head that is constantly talking to you and telling you what you need to improve, where you don’t measure up, what goals you need to accomplish in your life so that you can achieve the inner peace and satisfaction that you are truly looking for.  The Inner Critic says “If you just lose that weight, make more money, get married, get divorced, get a different job, find new friends, get a bigger house, then you’ll truly be happy.” Or, your Inner Critic might say, “you need to be more spiritual in order to be happy.  You need to pray more, meditate more, relax more, have more free time, have a hobby, find your passion.  Then you will truly be happy. ”

MAKE IT STOP!

There’s a lot of discussion out there about “Silencing the Inner Critic”.  But, the idea of getting rid of our Inner Critic is not only an impossible and unrealistic goal, it is also a harmful goal.  It implies that if we work hard at getting rid of our Inner Critic, we can finally find the peace and contentment that we are looking for.  How can we find contentment while at the same time trying to fix and perfect ourselves?  The goal is not to silence the Inner Critic.  The goal is to get intimately familiar with your Inner Critic so you can distinguish the difference between YOU and your Inner Critic.  It is understanding that there is a big difference between YOU and your Inner Critic that is the key to finding the peace, joy, contentment and happiness that we all desire.  The bottom line is this:  That voice in your head IS NOT YOU!  You are just so used to listening to it like it’s you, that you can’t distinguish the difference between YOU and IT.

WHAT HAVE I BEEN LISTENING TO?

Your Inner Critic has literally been creating your sense of yourself and your identity for much of your life.  You are so overly identified with this voice, you may feel trapped.  Your Inner Critic has been compulsively labeling, analyzing and interpreting everything!  What if nothing your Inner Critic says is based in reality?  What if there is nothing to fix, change or perfect?  What if there are no goals or dreams to fulfill that will be the key to your happiness and inner peace?  What would it feel like if you could find the peace you are seeking, right here right now, with all things in life being exactly as they are and exactly as they aren’t?  What if all of your suffering, your shame, your depression, your anxiety, were nothing more than listening to your Inner Critic tell you a bunch of lies that you believe are true?

FREE AT LAST!

Practice seeing yourself as separate from this Inner Critic who lives inside you.  Give him or her a name that matches her personality.  Pay close attention when he or she is running you.  See yourself as a separate person.  Don’t try to make your Inner Critic disappear.  You can’t!  But if you take a step back and observe without judgment, you will find that you’ve been listening to a bunch of lies for a long time and believing that it’s real.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO HAVE AN EXTRAORDINARY RELATIONSHIP?

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This is what all of our clients want to know. Do we have the answer in ten easy steps? NO. But as relationship experts, we can say here’s the bottom line: To have an extraordinary relationship, you have to be extraordinary.

We’re not talking about being a hero, or a martyr. We’re not talking about being an ascended God or Goddess. We’re talking about going beyond where you normally stop in order to maintain a loving connection with the important people in your life.

Most of us, when we are upset, angry or hurt, tend to forget to look at what we look like when we are reacting. We just let it rip, and give ourselves permission to get ugly in the face, yell or scream, or even worse, give our loved one the cold shoulder for as long as we want.

 

BEING RESPONSIBLE

Being extraordinary means giving up your comfort zone. It means being willing to make a move. It means giving up the need to be right. It means choosing connection over criticism. This is easier said than done. But if you want to have a relationship that is loving, if you want to have a relationship that is satisfying, you need to become fully accountable for the state of your relationship. In other words, you need to be responsible for how you are acting and reacting, and for the impact your actions have on your partner.

 

LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH!!

Just last week, a couple was fighting in my office. They were arguing about who does more chores around the house. The husband became more and more frustrated by his wife’s complaints about how often he forgets to take the garbage out, and suddenly blurted out “Kiss my ass!” The wife looked like she had been smacked in the face. But, instead of reacting with rage and anger, the wife did something brilliant! She turned to him with a big smile on her face, clapped her hands, and gave him a kiss right on his butt. The husband was so shocked, that he couldn’t help but to burst out laughing.

By choosing to respond with humor instead of reacting with rage, the wife was able to break the tension, and the couple was able to work out a solution.

 

AWARENESS IS THE KEY

The old cliché that you may have heard from your grandmother really does hold weight…. “It’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar. “ You will be amazed at the changes that can occur in your relationship by simply being aware of your attitude. We are saying that your spirit and attitude actually rule your actions and can change the dynamic of your relationship on a dime.

Transforming the Quality of Relationships

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The Center for ExtraOrdinary Relationships is where people can receive an unprecedented education designed to teach what it really takes to create ExtraOrdinary Relationships for yourself!

We have devoted our life’s work and passion to what it takes to create ExtraOrdinary Relationships, because we believe that the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships.

We’re personally experiencing the satisfaction of having a supportive mother-daughter relationship that is as ideal as it gets, and we’re in thriving long-term marriages as well. This did not happen by accident!

It took commitment, self-examination, and a lot of trial and error. Through exploration, we’ve discovered what it really takes to generate satisfaction and fulfillment in our significant relationships with spouses and children and we’re delighted to share it here with you.