Undefended Love

Excerpts from:  Undefended Love, Jett Psaris, Ph.D.& Marlena S. Lyons, Ph.D. New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Oakland CA 2000.

Pg 48:  Michael soon acknowledged that some of his giving and positive regard toward others was motivated by a hidden agenda – his need to feel loved.

That is, the personality uses giving to others as a way to get love.  That’s why we call the personality a mask.  It masks a hidden agenda to get a need met.  Michal masks his own needs, making it look as though he doesn’t need anything.  When he needs, Dorothy to see him as selfless, he is not available for unmediated connection: He is focused on doing whatever is necessary to get her to see him in this way so that he can feel good about himself and safe about his connection with her.

Simply becoming aware of his attachment to this self-identity can begin the process of liberating Michael from its demands and constraints, making him less protective of his self-image and more emotionally honest in his relationships.

Or, by focusing on Dorothy’s response rather than his own feelings, he may be shielding himself from an inner experience of lack or self-judgment that he has difficulty tolerating.  By uncovering and exposing what lies below the mask he will bring himself closer to his essence, making his open hand a natural extension of his open heart.

Pg 44:  As we will see, the personality – formed so very early in our lives as a defense against emotional pain, anxiety, and discomfort – not only dampens our feelings, it also establishes our patterns of relating to others.  By becoming aware of what it is, how it was formed, and how it functions, we can begin peeling back the many layers of protection that limit our sense of ourselves and prevent us from true intimacy with others.

None of this is as important as the fact that for every one of us, the patterns of our personality influence our capacity to relate in an undefended way.

Pg 45:  Whether the events that initiate the awareness of being separate from the environment are abrupt or accumulate gradually over a number of years, we all inevitably experience this crack in a reality that was once seamless.  We feel cut off from others and disconnected from our inner harmony….utterly empty and disconnected from the fullness of our essence.

As we grow older, we might mask our emotional emptiness by eating, amass wealth to feel valuable, or keep busy to avoid the sense of hollowness in our center.

Increasingly distant from our inner experience and resources, we become externally focused, losing sight of our essence and forgetting what it feels like to be openhearted spontaneous, and joyful.  We forget that our essence remains intact…

Pg 47:  To begin transforming the armored aspects into transparent membranes, we must first understand what we missed during the formation of our personality a nd learn how to give it to ourselves now.

Emotional presence, reassurance, and mirroring.

If our parents had been able to give us the space and time to feel what we were feeling – without trying to change, fix, or control us – our emotional disturbance would eventually have cleared and we would have reconnected with our essence.  Our parents’ emotional presence would have given us the external support we needed to endure our discomfort until the emotional disturbance lessened.  Unfortunately, most of our parents could not tolerate the emotional discomfort evoked in them by our pain: They were emotionally absent, self-absorbed, or intent on controlling or fixing what we were feeling so they would not be disturbed.  As a result, our capacity to stay in relationship while going through difficult emotional experiences was compromised.

Pg 48:  As a result, our capacity to stay in relationship while going through difficult emotional experiences was compromised.  …we learned that to stay in relationship with them we had to disconnect from our internal life.  ..in the absence of emotional presence, we learned that we cannot be fully ourselves while in relationship.

Reassurance:  that our discomfort had a beginning, middle, and end….As children we believed that each experience we were having would go on forever….teaching us that feelings come in waves and will not settle permanently; what we are experiencing will not become the overriding condition of our lives.

Mirroring: In this way a child’s internal experience is acknowledged and affirmed.  In the safety of this continued union beyond the womb, the child builds the emotional and psychological structures necessary to sustain him during those times when external and internal experiences are not congruent.  When an experience of separation feels too harsh and abrupt, mirroring is like a bridge to support and affirm the value of the child’s existence.  At the same time, mirroring certain qualities can also remind us who we are essentially.  If a child says, “I am angry,” and you mirror back that she is angry, at least she knows she is in relationship with you.  If you also mirror back, “I see how courageous you are to be so honest with me” you are reminding her of her essential qualities.  You are letting her know that the anger she feels is a passing emotions and not proof that she is evil or defective.  The child’s attention is drawn to her deepest being instead of swept up in passing tides of feelings or compelling circumstances.

Pg 49:  …the child learns that difficult feelings will pass even as he fully relates to them, and that he can remain in contact with his whole and essential self as the root that infuses all experience….As adults we might “somaticize,” meaning that we create body pain to keep our attention on something other than what we are feeling… Constant activity also keeps us separate from the immediacy of our inner experience….a healthy transparent personality with a strong internal support system has the capacity to stay in relationship with the full range of internal experience – both the passing feelings and the abiding essence – while remaining open and available to what is happening within ourselves and with others.

Pg 50:  perhaps the most important but often the least available of the three forms of support we need (is adequate mirroring)….Possibly she reflected back to you that you are whole and good and love itself, and assured you that the experience you were having of separation would pass, and that she would stay with you and hold you while you endured the challenging emotions overwhelming you.

Pg 51: It is more4 likely that instead of this support you saw her sadness, fatigue, anger, or impatience…our inner experience was wrong and that some part of us was unacceptable.  We believed we were the cause of our mother’s discontent….if only we were better or different, our mother would be happy, joyful, loving, and capable of supporting us.

If you experienced your mother as angry you may have concluded that you were bad.  If she appeared overwhelmed you may have believed you were useless.

We then unconsciously concluded that we were “not enough” or that we were in some other way deficient.  This misidentification is the basis of our cracked identity, one of the layers of our defended personality that we must dissolve in order to be capable of sustaining an undefended, intimate partnership.

Pg 53:  the more intimate the relationship, the more likely that our negative self-image will surface there.  A one-time intimate encounter will not tend to bring up our negative self-concepts as reliably as will an ongoing relationship with someone to whom we are deeply connected…gives us the opportunity for transforming these negative self-images.

Pg 55:  Below uncertainty and self-doubt may be the belief that if you are at fault, your partner will leave or you will be humiliated, punished, or shamed, which may be how you were treated as a child…I realize that my deepest fear about myself is that I am not enough to keep you or I am not enough to handle the loss if you go.

1) State your complaint about your partner or ex-partner. (You are always creating distance between us)

2) State your reaction (I feel angry and hurt)

3) State the vulnerable feeling below your reaction. (I feel sad and alone)

4) State the belief underlying your vulnerable feeling (Below the feeling of sadness I realize that I believe that you don’t care for me)

5) Recognize your deepest fear. (When I realize that I believe you don’t care for me, I see that my deepest fear is that I am not worth loving)

6) State your cracked identity (I am unworthy of love)

Pg 56:  Instead of doing whatever you normally do to avoid feelings of deficiency, let the emotions surface and continue to inquire into what is below them, always looking for your deepest fear about the situation.

When explored, every compatibility issue in our relationships will be exposed as an attempt to use each other’s reactions and behaviors to deflect attention away from the pain of feeling flawed or lacking.  If partners do not ask us for help, we feel useless.  If our partners do not respond to us sexually, we think we are not wanted.  …We turn the focus on our partner’s behavior to avoid feeling the pain of seeing ourselves as defective.

Trying to get our partners to change their behavior is an attempt to create an environment in which our cracked identities will not get stimulated or revealed.

Pg 57:  We want to protect ourselves, run away, hide, defend, attack, or go to sleep.  Staying with this investigation in a nonreactive way requires something special, something to help us hold our ground and observe the truth exactly as it is, without trying to change it….our knee-jerk reaction is to remove ourselves immediately….Our fear, pain and even self-loathing is precisely what we need to approach if we wish to be less defended.  “The distance from your pain, your grief, your unattended wounds, is the distance from your partner,” …Our discomfort is a great indicator, pointing out the places where we are disconnecting from ourselves and from each other.

Pg 58:  Compassion is the very quality that establishes a safe internal environment.  …compassion is unbelievably powerful.  It will provide you wit enormous amounts of strength in trying times….It is an attitude, a willingness to be with something without judging it.  …the willingness to say yes to our experience just as it is, to not reject it, and, hence, to not reject ourselves.

Pg 59:  Compassion permeates our inner environment and melts away whatever obstacles are obscuring our essence.  It gently, but with great strength, dismantles our defenses and allows us to continue our investigation.

Pg 60:  Maybe you were a little girl, and they believed little girls should be helpful, meek and demure instead of substantial and powerful.  So whenever you tried to take the lead in something—perhaps through sports or building things—your parents may have redirected you toward societally acceptable behaviors for girls, such as being helpful around the house or assisting others in their projects. …Over time…you developed an identity as self-reliant to compensate for your supposed weakness. You fabricated what you believed was missing, convincing yourself and hopefully others that you do not need anybody….You spent much of your time and energy reinforcing the position that you are strong in order to avoid feeling powerless. Your compensatory identity has been making up for what you believe you lack.

Pg 62: We reassured her that this was a passing experience and that allowing this process to unfold would bring the deeper understanding she longed for…exposing herself in the presence of a group committed to helping themselves and each other see through these negative self-concepts, gave Julie the external emotional presence that would help her develop the internal support she needed to face this frightening place. Inside.  Paradoxically, having our vulnerable inner identities witnessed by others, while increasing the intensity of our fear, also provides us with the needed fuel to see below our negative self-concepts to reveal our essential wholeness.

Pg 63:  Don’t try to interrupt the feelings, invite them in….Let it move through you…When we stop trying to change, fix, shut down, or distract ourselves from experiencing our cracked identities, they too give way and crumble.  This can take two minutes or several hours, but a shift will eventually occur, because what is really happening is a reenactment of the event that resulted in our cracked identity as children, when we did not receive the support we needed from our parents…they are just old movies that cannot hurt us, and if we stay with them, they will, as Julie discovered, pass.

As Julie faced what was most threatening, a deeper, more expanded and rooted sense of self became apparent.  In her words, I feel lighter now.  Like a breeze is passing through me….I feel less driven to change others or myself.

Pg 64: In contact with this inner well of fullness she had the support she needed to endure her feelings of being fundamentally flawed until they passed.

Pg 75:  We cannot have an unobstructed connection with another person through a complex defense system that was designed to avoid direct experience.

Our survival strategies limit our ability to love and be fully present.

Pg 76:  behind every complaint lies an unfulfilled need.

Pg 78:  behaviors actually end up reinforcing the deeper, hidden fear that we are not special; otherwise why would we have to do so much to be special?

Pg 79: our essential desire to connect and relate in a way that exposes us to our own and each other’s depth.  But we simply cannot relate freely and intimately with our partners if our focus is on getting something….what we think we need and how we think we can get it keeps us trapped in a limited concept of ourselves and restricts our ability to connect deeply….strategies people use to satisfy their preoccupations are numerous…tendency to identify with what we do instead of with the fathomless qualities of our essential self.

Pg 80:  Are you direct or indirect in your maneuverings to get these needs or wants satisfied?…what we are seeking we already intrinsically are.

Pg 81:  Instead of remaining aware of our pain and using it to reveal our masks, we deflect our attention onto what we are not getting from our partners and how they are wrong for not supplying it.

Pg 82:  When I caretake, try to fill others’ needs, and please others, I am preoccupied with experiencing myself as wanted/adored, Needed, Generous, Loving.  I am Preoccupied with avoiding feeling Not wanted, Needy, Undeserving, Unlovable.  I am seeking the quality of Generosity, Love, Autonomy, Strength.

When I produce, work hard, achieve, and become what the other wants, I am preoccupied with experiencing myself as Good, Successful, Productive, Efficient, Having integrity.  I am Preoccupied with avoiding feeling Bad, A failure, Inadequate, Ineffective, Deceitful.  I am seeking the qualities of Goodness, Value, Truth.

When I control my time with others, withhold and remain an observer, I am preoccupied with experiencing myself as Spacious, Clear, Objective, Intelligent.  I am Preoccupied with avoiding feeling Stupid (that I don’t know), Overwhelmed, Powerless, Out of Control.  I am seeking the qualities of Clarity, Spaciousness, Intelligence.

Pg 84:  she must keep on giving, even if what she had to give was not wanted or needed by her partner.

Pg 85:  need to be needed as a pattern that gets in the way of my loving and being loved…the fear that I am not good enough.  I’ve got to find a way to address my habit of feeling good about myself for what I produce rather than who I am….helping each other by not reinforcing these strategies but compassionately seeing through them to their essential wholeness.

…piercing through the veils of our habitual behavior and by choosing to have a direct experience of ourselves and our partners…away from personality and toward essence.

Pg 87:  Closeness,..not the ultimate goal of relationship—it is a developmental stage.  There are, in fact, two levels of closeness that every couple must pass through on the way to intimacy.  The first, which we call “unhealthy dependency,” is where we are focused on our partners to the exclusion of ourselves.

Pg 89:  …recognizing the ways which we unconsciously perpetuate unhealthy levels of dependency.  If our goal in relationship is to create a context in which we rely on one another for assistance in restoring our sense of wholeness, then we will develop a closeness that is healthy.

Pg 90:  …we end up living in our partners’ shadows, ostensibly supporting and taking care of them, but, all the while, doing so out of an inability to know, express, and sustain a sense of ourselves.  Focused on our partners, we refuse to take responsibility for what we create or fail to create in our own lives, and we are fearful of and unwilling to address our unmet needs and unresolved emotional pain….we look to another for ongoing satisfaction of our needs.  We make constant demands on our partners to engage in behaviors that reduce our anxiety, minimize our discomfort, and decrease our tension.  Our sense of well-being and safety in relationship is based on the level of appreciation we receive from our partners for all the work we do on their behalf.

Our single-minded focus is to get our partners to comply with our need for self-protection.  When our strategies are unsuccessful we feel alienated, experiencing ourselves as we did when we ere children—powerless to get what we need, confused about who we are, and unworthy to receive support.

Pg 91:  overly attuned to our partners while being less aware of ourselves…

Pg 94:  we encouraged Joanne to increase her ability to experience her feelings each time she successfully interrupts her habit to please others.  Gradually, Sylvia learned to stay with the emptiness in her heart and the terror throughout her body as she experienced herself as alone and separate, instead of giving in to her habit of avoiding or distracting herself from these feelings.  As she increased her ability to explore all of her feelings and sensation with an attitude of welcoming and curiosity, she learned to rely on her own experience and, in the process, developed a capacity for authentic self-expression.

Our relationships then become collusive.  That is, we agree not to point out something to our partners that will reveal the ways that they feel “less than” in exchange for not having our own inadequacies exposed.

Pg 95:  The qualities we expect and require in our close relationships are often the same ones a child expects of a mother.  This is because our dependency issues are left over from incomplete and inadequate support received in childhood.

When our desire to satisfy our needs turns into feeling entitled that someone else fill them, we are stuck in a childhood dilemma.  A relationship base don the continuous demand that the other person support our self-esteem keeps us from growing up.  To the extent that we seek reparation from the past in the present, we perpetuate our role as children, thereby fostering dependency, not growth.

Pg 96:  When we are other-fixated…we often feel as if our partners control us.  We complain that we can’t be ourselves, often feeling resentful or depressed….In place of genuine intimacy with oneself and another, there is a strong emotional need for each other’s cooperation to ease our anxiety and to attain a sense of safety and comfort.

The ability to move beyond being other-focused requires that we remain attentive to the feelings and reactions stirred within us, rather than turning our attention toward our partners to the exclusion of ourselves.

Pg 97:  Rather than identifying with our feelings, we learn how to let them swell and subside, like waves in the ocean….Agreements: How They Prolong Closeness and Prevent Intimacy

Pg 100 …vast space of compassion, big enough to heal her pain and grief, melting the hard places in her heat that kept anticipating betrayal and disappointment.  Left raw and transparent, she reported feeling a deep and intimate connection with Jason….Jason looked into his fear of being controlled, only to find that what he was really afraid of was being controlling, like his father.  To his dismay, Jason recognized that when he would “forget” his agreement he was passively rebelling against his father.

…common ground was tilled by working with the distress about the issue, not by agreeing to cover up the issue.

Although agreements may be expeditious and effective at times, when they aren’t, we must be ready to engage in the more difficult task of addressing what they are helping us avoid, even if such a process temporarily puts at risk our usual ways of staying close.  …Paradoxically, when we resolve our internal conflicts, it becomes easier to interact with or without agreements.  No longer divided within ourselves, we find that our inner consistency reflects itself in our outer actions….Closeness is useful as a container in which to develop confidence in our internal resources.

Pg 101:  But if we try to maintain closeness beyond that use, the relationship will inevitably become overly dependent.  At its best, a close relationship can provide a sense of security, stability, comfort, and warmth.  But when we are ready for the next stage of development, we must be willing to let go, at least temporarily, of the level of safety and comfort we have attained thus far.  Ironically, if we attempt to prolong, sustain, or resuscitate closeness beyond its service as a container for providing the necessary supportive environment to surpass it, the long-term cost that we pay is the very vivacity, energy, and love it once provided.

They report a sense of “orbiting around each other” or “running their lives on parallel track.”  The pain and disillusionment they express is occurring precisely because they have achieved the full potential of personality-centered relationship….must go beyond this framework to develop something that surpasses what they have experienced thus far.

Undefended intimacy lies beyond the controlled connection that characterizes closeness.  It unfolds when we have developed the ability to express all the parts of our being while in relationship with another who is doing the same.

Once we begin to develop a sense of our essential wholeness, we no longer experience the same urgency about what we once perceived to be an inner deficiency.  As we begin understanding our deepest nature through the nurturing stage of close relationship, we unfold our capacity to merge with our partner with no corresponding loss of self.  When we give, our generosity springs from an overflow of our inner fullness.  When we receive, we can truly be there—entirely present, open, undefended, and available.

Pg 103:  …to reach and express the most authentic parts of ourselves…healthy self-involvement…to sustain interest in our vulnerabilities and the corresponding strategies that defend them.  It is a commitment to discovering all of who we are—including feelings of emotional pain, emptiness, and inadequacy that we might wish to reject—and learning to express what we discover to another.  Only then do we encounter the possibility of being seen, known and loved below our protective shields.

Pg 104:  …we have developed the ability to be present to the entirety of our inner experience, can we be fully available—and emotionally open—to our partners.

…When we are close in a healthy way, our primary awareness is directed toward our partners and the relationship as a whole.

…when we are self-involved in a healthy way, our primary awareness is of ourselves and our own inner process…health self-involvement originates from a deep intimacy with ourselves….we must cultivate the ability to put our self-image at risk regardless of whether we anticipate a positive or negative response from our partners….we discover who we are below the protective garments of our defended personality system and increasingly learn to abide there.

Pg 108:  We can end up creating an inflated self-regard that is dependent on the reflection of others.

Pg. 109:  …relying on the environment, in the form of their primary partners, family members, and friends, to keep their positive self-image intact.  When the need for others to provide constant positive attention is very high, even the smallest arguments can produce extreme internal emotional suffering, which is expressed through hostile assault or total withdrawal.

Pg 111:  Our yearning to know the many layers of our existence—to be interested in the full spectrum of our experience—produces an intimate result only when we pass beyond what we believe into unknown territory.

Pg 112:  we must resist the temptation to interpret this to mean there is no more….the tendency to harden when our personality is reacing the limits of its ability to cope.  Instead of surrendering to the process, we tighten our structure for fear we will fall apart.  Our intuition is actually right:  Something in us is falling apart, or rather falling away, dissolving into a deeper understanding of ourselves.  First we harden, and we often refer to ourselves as being “stuck” or “tense.”  But when we grow tired and weary of the tension, and finally let ourselves go, we open to the present moment, to a wider experience of what is truly happening….We told Sonia that her defenses were what she was experiencing as “hard.”

Pg 119:  Focusing on you helps me avoid feeling my own needs…fear that you don’t love me for who I am, but for what I do for you.

Pg 120:  …find a place in me that can hear what you are saying without pulling away or having to fix it.  I have to believe that you will stay with me because of who I am, not for what I can give….I’m beginning to see that the times I see you as too dependent are when I want o be taken care of more.  I also see that I encourage you to need me out of my fear that if you don’t you’ll leave me.

“The next time I experience you as needy I can stop making you wrong.  I can focus instead on the part of me that feels drained.  I can use my annoyance with you to measure how full or empty I’m feeling.  This can help me look at my own needs.  I can also try to love us both even when we are not feeling connected.

Pg 121:  my fear of not being enough is colliding with your fear of being unlovable…path to greater intimacy lay not in changing his partner, but in plunging deeply into himself, allowing himself to be witnessed in the dive, and returning to the content of the issue newly centered in essence.

Pg 122:  the personality’s defensive functions will not expire until we are ready to handle life and relationship without them.

Pg 123:  …we must shift our priority away from perpetuating the use of our relationships as incubators (a place we are entirely provided for.)

Pg 124:  …conditions that prolong closeness while impeding intimacy

Reciprocity: The expectation of fairness, equality, and an equal give-and-take

Entitlement: The expectation of external confirmation that we are deserving

Approval: The expectation of mutual acceptance and validation

Consensus: The basic agreement in views about self and the world.

Trustworthiness: The ability to trust and depend on our partners.

Designed to take us beyond the need for external supports that keep us feeling safe and in control….five conditions that cement personality-centered relationships.

Pg 126:  When the balance of power is more important than knowing ourselves and each other at ever-deepening levels, we end up emphasizing the objects that are exchanged over relating openly with ourselves and each other.  … insist upon reciprocity…We make sure we don’t offer more than we receive.  At face value this may appear to be self-protective in a responsible way.  But there is a hidden cost.  When we insist on reciprocity, we define who we are in response to who another is.  We give only as much as our partners do and demand that they give what we expect.  Forcing an equal give-and-take delays our ability to see what is truly available for us in the relationship—to we can make a conscious choice about whether the partnership is viable—and delays the development of authentic generosity and openheartedness, the qualities for which we yearn.

Pg 127:  …uncompromising commitment to unilateral self-exploration and disclosure….”It is in the struggle to maintain oneself unilaterally in marriage that the final resolution of childhood occurs.”…shift our focus away from maintaining a balance of power, and give our undivided attention to personal inquiry and responsibility. …free ourselves from our bondage to the past and from needing others to relate to us in a certain way in the present.  Instead of trying to balance the power between us, we achieve an inner sense of balance and stability.

…the only authentic power resides in making peace within ourselves….our sense of safety is grounded in our own ability to respond openly and fearlessly to any feelings that may rise in us.  When we can emotionally “stand on our own two feet,” intact, without reference to what our partners are doing or giving, we are finally able to relate to them as they are, not as we require or wish them to be.  Only then can we objectively measure what is available in our relationship and whether it is satisfactory.

Pg 128:  Once we remove the illusion of protection offered by the requirement for reciprocity, we find that we no longer experience a need for fairness or equality.  Our self-exploration becomes an intimate form of self-expression and celebration; we invit3e our partners to do the same, but our behavior is not bound by their ability or willingness to do so.

…hard to develop a healthy sense that we are ‘deserving.”  This is the adult version of “I get to have.”  Without the sense that we deserve to receive, we do not explore our needs and wants, and we do not learn to give them expression,.  Knowing our needs and expressing them are important developmental achievements that support our journey to satisfying levels of closeness….force or imitate a sense of being deserving before we actually know and feel it deeply inside us…This often manifests itself as a rigid sense of entitlement.  That is, we believe that what we want is due or owned to us in some way, that it is our “right” to get it, and we have little tolerance for not receiving what we want or feel we need.

When our partners do not fill our needs, we conclude that it is a comment on whether we deserve to get what we want.  As a result, we look to and require our partners to fill ourneeds and confirm the fact that we are deserving.

Pg 129:  …depth of emotional pain these men and women experienced by not knowing what they deserve, what they should be allowed to have, and whether it was all right for them to have anything at all.

…hostile pronouncement of his entitlement and a collapsing sense of confusion, not knowing if what he was saying was at all “reasonable.”  He couldn’t seem to find a comfortable position in his chair as he explained his inner turmoil:

But as long as our sense of entitlement is founded in lack (our cracked identity), we can never get enough.  Essentially, we are stuck in a defended, personality-centered dilemma.  We are trying to get enough to remember that we are enough.

At the core of entitlement is mistrust of ourselves.  That is, we believe that we are incapable of providing for ourselves.

Pg 132:  Instead of demanding the approval we seek, we must willingly turn our attention toward the more permanently liberating work of recovering access to our intrinsic sense of value.

Pg 134:  When we lose ourselves in relationship what’s really happening is that we cannot know our own experience of ourselves in the presence of a significant other.  We may feel responsible for our partners’ pain or feel guilty when our experiences do not match.  We may feel as if we don’t exist if our partners hold a contrary view.  We then require consensus to solve the problems in our relationship and need to be apart to know and express our unique point of view.  The capacity to sustain our view of reality in the face of a divergent one while remaining in relationship until an organic resolution is reached is one of the cornerstones of an undefended partnership.  Sustaining our own view is not the same as rigidly defending our position as “right.”  It is a mature capacity to investigate both points of view with equal vigor and dedication, with the realization that there is a third more encompassing reality yet to be known.  By learning to face and tolerate the initial rush of difficult emotions when we cannot reach consensus with our partners, we develop a secure sense of self that does not depend on agreement with another…If we are in touch with our essential self, when our partners express a reality different from our own, we are able to sustain a sense of ourselves as intact while remaining open to their point of view.  Ultimately, we discover that our essential self is not really separate from our partner’s, even though it is not identical.

Pg 135:  It is important to recognize, however, that when we require and demand trust and dependability in certain areas of a relationship as a way to feel safe and at ease, we are asking our partners to take responsibility for protecting our feelings.  We are placing our feelings in their care.

“If you love me, you won’t hurt me.”

Pg 136:  Within trust is embedded the possibility of betrayal…We only begin to grow once we stop clinging to our demand that life function the way we want it to….it becomes necessary to learn to rely on our faith in facing life with our eyes open.  We replace the demand on our partners to be trustworthy with our own commitment to be available to the truth.  We develop a faith in our capacity to say and hear the truth and to respond to it in an open and undefended way.  We place our love of truth above our attachment to safety, comfort, and control…Rather than entrusting another to protect our feelings because we cannot tolerate them, we trust our capacity to meet whatever arises.

Pg 137:  No longer requiring favorable conditions, we are free to meet each other fully and wholly, without defense or fear.

Pg 139:  our impulse to feel “better” will be replaced by a commitment to feel “more.”…Learning to tolerate the flood of emotions that follow when we do not get what we need turns our attention toward the essential qualities that lie dormant in our being.

Pg 140:  harness the power of knowing our needs, instead of compulsively trying to satisfy them, we can move from dependency to healthy closeness and beyond to undefended intimacy…The emotionally healthy adult recognizes that options and choices exist and thus is resilient in response to life’s challenges.  In the healthy development of the emotions—which results in a transparent personality—needs unfold in a natural progression.

Pg 141: We also know what it is like to feel at peace whether or not we get emotional support or recognition, having no preference about it…at the most evolved level we do not need things to be other than they are…and emotionally, we now experience our current emotional needs with the same level of urgency as we did those critical physical needs that threatened our survival…intense reaction when a simple request we make to a significant other is not responded to satisfactorily…survival reflex …utter vulnerability…helplessness we felt as infants and children…The more charged and urgent they are, the earlier in our childhood are their points of origin….we must learn to investigate our needs, not satisfy them.  In this way our needs serve to guide us to our essential self and those aspects we mistakenly believe are missing in us.

Pg 142:  …explore what it feels like to need…we eventually denied the presence of needs altogether….lost the ability to identify and express what they need.  Inviting the experience of need back into our lives is necessary to initiate this developmental process….I’ve always felt overwhelmed by—yet secretly admiring of—Kate’s capacity to need so much, and in awe of her ability to ask me to meet her needs….if I do experience a need, it only seems to come up in contrast to something Kate is feeling or needing…(mother) as volatile…I can’t even remember thinking it was possible to get anything—anything I wanted…I shut down my own needs to avoid feeling disappointment.

Pg 143:  …not be easy to allow himself to need again….stop whatever he was doing for five minutes every hour.  When he heard the beep, he listed all sensations and feelings he could perceive.  He also began and ended his day by making such a list….he began asking himself, periodically throughout the day, what it was that he needed in that moment….I’d ask myself if I was thirsty.  If I wasn’t sure, I’d drink some water and see if that told me anything.  Over time, I began to feel some needs such as hunger, warmth, and reassurance…use his needs as navigational tools to help him discover his own wholeness and fullness.  Those of us who did not shut down our needs may respond to them by compulsively trying to fill or distract ourselves from them.  Either way, we are fixated at the level of need; we are in relationship with our needs, not ourselves or our partners.  Once we recognize that fulfilling needs is only a temporary stop-gap, we are ready to suspend our compulsion to gratify them…opportunity to “grow” up instead of “fill up.”

Pg 144:  If we remain consciously aware that we are afraid our needs may not be fulfilled, without attempting to push the fear away nor indulge in it, we begin to develop the courage that will support us in surviving our terror….experience our needs…supporting ourselves through every experience…driven quality of our emotional needs matures into a freer capacity to “want.”…reopen to willingness to want…

Pg 145:    This surrendering of our attachments to getting is very different from “giving up,” which happens when we either believe we are undeserving or we have collapsed in despair as a consequence of too many past disappointments.

Pg 146:  As the necessity or urgency to gratify our wants lessens and the capacity to sustain ourselves without external support increases, wanting matures into “desiring.”…desire is yearning for something because we have an interest in it and receptivity toward it.

Pg 147:  Instead of an inner pressure he feels the “energetic support” to move toward what interests him…desire…sense of initiative without the push to mount a campaign or crusade to accomplish its end.

Pg 148:  It means that we remain open, present, and available to all of life as it presents itself to us…To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind….Without preference, we discover that we have it all. This is the quality we possess when we are in a mature, intimate partnership…We cannot be objective and reactive at the same time because reactivity is located in the past: We are “reactivating” the past.  To be without preference we have to be in the present moment…When someone says something about you and you feel anything other than neutral, you must explore the sensitivity in you that their comment stimulated….your sensitivity is pointing out a broken toe that must be tended.

Pg 149:  Do not underestimate the power of nonreactivity…where your attention goes when you react.  When you yell your attention is pulled into the impulsive action…Experience what happens when you simply do not do what you usually do.  If you don’t react, you get to retain your attention.  In that instant of stopping, you open the possibility for a new experience….liberated from our reliance on external sources, ultimately realizing that the source of all fulfillment lies within us.  Knowing that we can rely on ourselves, we no longer need our partners to give us whatever it is we thought would make us feel safe and valuable.  Instead of requiring that our partners make us feel comfortable and loved, those who have shifted their center of gravity toward the domain of essence invite their relationship to reflect back all of the places where each is asleep, unconscious, and in conflict.  Intimate partners share the understanding that relationships are meant to have tension and discomfort as they reveal to each other aspects that are difficult to tolerate. They appreciate this mirroring, recognizing its service as liberating them from the unresolved issues of the past and stimulating access to their own essential self.

Pg 150:  It also requires that we struggle with the resulting emotional discomfort….The rewards of moving through the discomfort of relaxing our need to have our needs met—unrestrained joy, fathomless love, personal meaning, freedom, etc.—are well worth the emotional effort.

Pg 151:  Just as our needs can initiate our maturing toward “no preference,” …so too can they become navigational aids in helping us find our essence…Our relationships, simply help us to recognize these essential qualities within ourselves by reflecting back to us aspects of ourselves that we do not see.

Pg 152:  Once you have learned how to use this compass, even when you feel completely lost or disconnected, you will know how to stay focused on the realization that you already are what you seek…His interest in intimacy was a reaction to his partner’s recent signs of indifference in the relationship.  His pull toward freedom was a result of his fear of being overwhelmed by what he saw as his partner’s depression.  …He wanted to feel that his partner understood him.

Pg 154:  If you were understood, what would that vie you?  Perhaps you would be free of the constant struggle to be heard and to feel accepted by your partner….If you felt you were truly understood and no longer had to struggle to be heard, then what would you really have?  Perhaps you would feel that you’d have more room to be yourself. …Are you willing to sacrifice all other needs and wants to know yourself as peace?  At the point when you can genuinely answer yes to that question, you will experience a tremendous sense of relief…the first step is to stop trying to get them to give us what we want.  We must follow, not fulfill, our needs and wants.

Taking the Steps to What You Really Want

Begin your own process now by stating the one need you choose as most important for you in your relationship.  What do you want more than anything else?  Take several minutes to connect deeply with it.  Feel the urgency behind it in your body by noticing any tension you may feel about expressing it or naming it.  Feel any fear or anger that may surface from having wanted this for so long.  Then begin asking yourself each question.

1. What do I want more than anything else in relationship?

Example 1: I want someone who will accept me completely.

Example 2: I want to feel loved.

2. If that desire were fulfilled, what would that give me?

Example 1: Someone who would be there for me and with me.

Example 2: It would give me an end to the questioning and self judgment.

3.  If I had that state/feeling/situation in my life, what would I really have?

Example 1: I’d have the feeling of connection that I long for.

Example 2: I’d feel OK about myself.

4.  How would it feel to have that sense of myself?  How would I experience myself differently than before?

Example 1: I would feel happy and alive.

Example 2: I would feel calm, without tension.

5.  How would I describe this state of being (quality of essence)?

Example 1: Joy

Example 2: Peace


Pg 156:  whether for joy, love, peace, or any other essential quality–…the difference between a passing experience and one that we abide in…profound sense of belonging and wholeness can be experienced at all times…Undefended intimates are committed to using the crucible of relationship to develop their capacity to express their essential qualities more of the time, ultimately using their love for one another to help them realize a deep and unwavering experience of their essential self.

Pg 157:  Is what we are dong moving us toward or away from our deepest desire?…To know and express her deepest truths with Ed and to create an environment in which he felt invited to do the same…use every conversation about moving in together as a way to develop her capacity to do what she most deeply wanted.  The focus was no longer on making a decision, but on discovering and expressing ever-deeper layers of her truth.

Pg 161:  …when we feel dependent on our partners’ approval, interrupting our personality’s strategies to receive that approval will feel very uncomfortable…know and love our partners and ourselves beyond any way of relating we had experienced before….In the cocoon, the caterpillar must let go entirely of its identity…complete meltdown and restructuring of its components.

Pg 177:  Feelings come in waves: They begin, swell, and subside.  They are always in motion.  If, at anytime during this process, you feel stuck, you are having a reaction.  It may feel like a feeling, but it isn’t.  When whatever you are experiencing stops flowing, inquire into the reaction until you once again return to feelings….IF you feel tortured by these voices, allow yourself to feel the torment, but do not be tempted to follow these thoughts—let them come to the surface and fall away of their own accord.  If you fear the pain will shatter your heart, let it break open.  Bring to mind the wisdom of Pema Chodron: “When we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of the pain itself…”  Let yourself face what you have spent your life-energy avoiding.  Know the anguish of believing in this mistaken view of yourself; recognize the pain of abandoning yourself when you felt so alone in the past; and open up to the fountains of compassion that spring forth from your heart. …the heat of your torment becomes a transformative source of energy, burning off the hardened layers of your personality and fueling your motivation to penetrate the defense structure…Focus on the heat.  As your thoughts go wild, accusing or defending, concentrate on what you are feeling.

Pg 178:  …stay with the sensations from this experience..  They are leading you back toward that initial loss of contact with your essential self….We only have to continue stretching our capacity to tolerate more and more of whatever we experience as unbearable…we must stretch beyond our prior stage of comfort…If we don’t feel the emotional stretch as we go beyond our limits, we may be unconsciously replaying a familiar pattern.  This is not to say that our relationships become focused on pain; it’s rather that we are not free until we are able to welcome the full spectrum of feelings. …When we resist the usual escape strategies, we discover that our present suffering ushers us back to our original experience of loss when we separated from our intrinsic wholeness.

Pg 179:  …it is not pain that people are afraid of, it is emptiness.  Emptiness is what we loathe and hate the most.  In fact, we would rather stay in deficiency than experience this.  We’d rather hate ourselves than be nothing….In the Black Hole, we re face-to-face with our initial experience of separation, frozen in time, frozen in us—only now we have the adult capacity to endure the experience consciously.  As we stop relying on external supports, we discover the fathomless reservoir of our essential self.  Now we can provide for ourselves the support that was not available to us years ago.  In this inner void we need the same three supports…emotional presence, reassurance, and mirroring.

Pg 180:…imagine yourself as a young boy or girl (perhaps at the age of three or four) going through similar emotional distress.  How would you relate to this young child?  How could you express your love and support?  What would you want to communicate to him or her?  Perhaps you would touch his hand to let him know you were there for him.  Or you might hold her so she knows she won’t be left alone.  You might want to tell him that everything is going to be okay.  Now, do this for yourself in the midst of your distress…When we are in the Black Hole, the level of contact with our essential self will be out of the reach of our consciousness.  We need to have faith and explicitly remind ourselves that we are indeed complete, good, strong, and valuable.  (I am whole, I am strong, I matter)

Pg 182: We look for new emotional pathways to experience intimacy instead of playing old, habitual roles of waiting to be pursued or chasing after to produce the energy to connect.

Five Steps:

1) Move toward emotional discomfort

2) Close all exits

3) Let the discomfort overwhelm your defenses

4) Enter the Black Hole

5) Articulate the experience in the absence of a defended personality

Pg 183:  This allows us to increase our capacity for the upper limits of joy and the lower limits of emotional torment.

Pg 184:  Cynthia could choose to use the affair as an opportunity to examine herself and her relationship.

Pg 185: …they do not know themselves as poets, yet they cannot describe their experience without waxing poetic.

Pg 186:  When all of your accomplishments are examined at the end of your lifetime, by which ones will you be most deeply moved?

Pg 187:  What will leave an inward smile lingering as you review who you have become after all these years?…how well we have loved, how wholeheartedly we have given our ourselves, what personal meaning and power we have invested in our journey, and the ways in which we have stretched beyond the identity we thought we had to meet our partners in an undefended way….we put ourselves off until some later time…Don’t’ miss this opportunity—who knows when it will come again?  This lifetime, this year, this moment you have the absolute capacity to know who you are…You begin where you are…the level of peace, love, and pleasure we are capable of enjoying corresponds to the depth of emotional pain we can tolerate.  It is our depth that defines the fullness and intensity of intimacy we can experience with another.

Pg 189:  …the pain of not expressing the full spectrum of our essential qualities exceeds our fear of doing so.  It is the point at which our anguish over not loving ourselves and each other form our deepest core exceeds the fear of not protecting ourselves.

Pg 190:  …this does not mean that our fears and reactions disappear.  It simply means that we are willing to struggle with them in the service of creating a more meaningful and openhearted experience of ourselves and our partners…We no longer view those times when we experience our relationship as “not working” as portending its end and heralding the time to look elsewhere.  We respond, instead, by looking for the places within us in which we have outgrown our current context, exploring areas where we need to be stretched, dismantled, and reformed. …to come into deeper relationship with some lost aspect of our beings.  The more rooted a couple is in essence-centered relating, the more deeply the two welcome the inevitable earthquakes beneath and between them, for these are opportunities to carve deeper canyons of love than they have achieved thus far….their energy does not go outward in blaming and attacking, nor do they withdraw.

Pg 191:  We search for the truth of our direct experience instead of reenacting our old defensive strategies.

Pg 192:  When we feel hostile, we recognize we are trying to feel powerful and allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the truth of our powerlessness….Instead of trying to maintain a sense of harmony by limiting who we are, we embrace our partners as intimate allies.  We invite them to challenge us and point out where we have fallen asleep…the mirror she holds up to me shows me the belief systems that obstruct my full potential to love.

Pg 193:  …illusions of control and safety are scraped away….we experience ourselves as large enough to encompass all of reality—congruent and incongruent—in its fullness and complexity…We realize that relationship is not where w lose ourselves—rather it is the place where we meet ourselves and know the “other” to be ourselves…Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.  They are in each other all along (Rumi)…we are all one vast, loving, universal heart.

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