On Being One … And Of Speech Pathways

TESTOSTERONE CHANGES SPEECH PATHWAYS, OR: MEN AND WOMEN COMMUNICATE DIFFERENTLY

Men-Women-Brain-Wire-Different

Women who wish to become male (known as “sex reassignment”) undergo a “testosterone therapy”, the objective being to raise the amount of testosterone (i.e., the male hormone) thus lowering the ratio of testosterone to estrogen (i.e., the female hormone). [1] This therapy requires continuous, high-dose injections of the hormone as testosterone has a half-life of 70 minutes in the blood.[2] Recent studies of brain scans from these transgender women show changes in the structures of their brains and, in particular, in the pathways associated with speech and verbal fluency.

It is been known for some time that testosterone influences verbal fluency. Because of ethical reasons, prior studies have been mostly observational in nature and thus have limited scientists in their hypotheses. However, as more women (and men) undergo sex reassignment (and it becomes more “mainstream” mostly due to the press surrounding Caitlyn Jenner, née Bruce Jenner[3]), scientists have been able to follow the impact of testosterone on speech pathways.

Austrian and Dutch researchers followed 18 female-to-male subjects administering MRI brain scans before and after 4 weeks of being given testosterone. In every instance, grey matter volume in two specific regions of the brain, the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, was found to have decreased. These areas are known to be the main language processing centers. Simultaneously, the neuronal pathway connecting these two regions were found to have gotten stronger

“[H]igher testosterone is linked to smaller vocabulary in children and that verbal fluency skills decrease in female-to-male transsexuals after testosterone treatment” said Dr. Andreas Hahn.

“What we see is a real quantitative difference in brain structure after prolonged exposure to testosterone. [T]hese findings may suggest that the genuine difference between the brains of women and men is substantially attributable to the effects of circulating sex hormones“ said Prof. Rupert Lanzenberger.

Dr. Kamilla Miskowiak said: “It is well-known that language development differs between girls and boys and that this is related to gender-related differences in brain maturation. However, this intriguing neuro-imaging study of transsexuals before and after their female-to-male gender reassignment suggests that even adult men and women differ in brain structure within regions involved in language and speech. In particular, female-to-male gender reassignment resulted in local brain matter decrease within language processing regions, which may explain why verbal abilities are often stronger in women.”

We have previously reviewed (see, http://heartwhisper.us/on-being-one-and-of-the-genetic-evolution-of-men-women-communication-part-i/) the evolutionary differences between men and women communication styles. We have known for some time that women evolved to use speech as a way to create bonds and as a reward mechanism. That’s why women use silence as a form of punishment. Unfortunately, most men view silence as a sort of reward. Men, on the other hand, evolved to use speech as a way to identify problems so they could be resolved. In other words, women are emotional speakers, whereas men are rational speakers. As such, we are prone to mis-communicate which leads to stress in, and often the end of, relationships. Learning how each sex communicates and using this information can create long-lived, healthy and loving relationships. For more information see: http://heartwhisper.us/.

[1]       A detailed review of sex reassignment therapies and side effects can be viewed at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormone_replacement_therapy_(female-to-male) and http://www.femaletomale.org/ftm-transitioning-guide/testosterone-hrt/

[2]       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormone_replacement_therapy_(female-to-male)

[3]       https://www.facebook.com/CaitlynJenner

As always, I welcome your comments.

In love,
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On Being One … And Of The Negativity Bias

negative-glassBecause of our evolution, our brains focus on negative outcomes rather than positive ones, referred to as a negativity bias. That is, our brains evolved to always assume the worst case scenario. This was a necessary survival skill for most of our history and, in some circumstances, still is. For a cave man, or woman, walking in a forest it was “safer” to assume that there was a predator, capable of killing them, behind every bush rather than assume that there wasn’t. In the first instance, they were prepared to either defend themselves or retreat to a safer environment (i.e., fight or flight instinctual response). In most instances, there was no such predator, but they were prepared… just in case. In the second instance, if there was a predator, they would have been taken unprepared and died. Survival, and hence ability to procreate, was assured by assuming the worst. Whether the worst happened or not was irrelevant.

The instinct to assume the worst has survived in all of us to this day. Some understand this instinct and, in most cases, are capable of controlling it. But it still rules most of us. Think of it as a program that is run by your computer (i.e., the brain) which you have the ability to code over. When we don’t, we overestimate threats and underestimate opportunities. We also underestimate the resources available to us to fulfill opportunities and cope with threats.[1] The brain is also wired to acknowledge and accept information that confirms these threats (real or perceived), and ignore or reject information that doesn’t.

Moreover, because there are regions in the agmydala[2] which have evolved to prevent the unlearning of fear, it is difficult to reprogram our brains.[3] It is particularly difficult when these fears stem from childhood experiences.

Perhaps this explains why the phrase “We have to talk!” strikes such fear in the heart of most men who immediately assume the worst whether uttered by one’s boss or one’s partner. Instead of focusing on the very many happy, creative and successful events that have happened prior to this phrase having been uttered (or other similarly troubling events having happened), our brain immediately reverts to a fright mode and assumes the very worst. In most cases, the brain then shuts down to the message being communicated and instead seeks a potential solution to the many dire scenarios running through the brain. Though, in some cases, the “fear” is warranted, in most instances it is not. At the very least, you have no way of knowing for certain whether the fear is warranted. But you have assumed a fight or flight response which is unproductive to an open-hearted communication. In fact, it is interesting to note that most people will work harder at avoiding a loss than to obtain an equal gain. Put another way, most people will work harder to avoid losing $100 than gaining $100. It is a bias for which psychologist Daniel Kahnemann[4] won a Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences in 2002 (shared with Vernon L. Smith).

Having a negativity bias was instrumental in assuring the survival of our ancestors but is rather detrimental in our present-day environment, at least in most case. When we assume a worst case scenario, the agmydala gets activated and the hormone cortisol is released in preparation to flee or fight. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. This produces a cascading effect on our mental, emotional and physical state which leads to:

  • Insomnia
  • Slower metabolism
  • Weight gain
  • Poor concentration and resulting lower productivity, problem-solving abilities and creativity
  • Depression
  • Weakened immune response and hence more prone to illness

Because of this negativity bias, it takes many more positive inputs to overcome a negative one. This is particularly applicable to intimate relationships, where it takes at least five positive interactions for every negative one. In fact, according to the latest research on this subject, people thrive when positive events outweigh negative ones in a 3:1 ratio, known as the critical positivity ratio.[5] Most of us fail to achieve this ratio in our everyday life, including our relationships, mostly because we are not aware of this ratio and the effect of the negativity bias of our brain.

That is all good and well to know, but how do we reprogram our brain? How do we interrupt this negativity bias? And how do we do so in a way to permanently overwrite the primitive brain program? To do so requires us to disrupt the brain’s stress response. One way to do this is through gratefulness as this serves to shift our focus from the negative to the positive. Of course, this requires us to be aware of our emotional state at any given time. It is useful to check in with yourself throughout the day. When you find yourself constructing worse case scenarios, shift your attention to the things you can be grateful for. Some call this positive thinking, a concept pioneered by Norman Vincent Peale[6] more than half a century ago. According to Professor Barbara Fredrickson: “Positive emotions broaden [our] scope of attention, cognition and action, and build physical, intellectual and social resources.”[7] Another way is to set aside pleasing moments and experiences throughout your day instead of waiting for the big reward. Most of us hold out for big events such as birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc. to be happy. But because it takes a minimum of 3 positive events to overcome one negative event, it is best to schedule positive events throughout your day. For example, if you are a morning person who likes coffee, enjoy a steaming cup of your favorite coffee while watching the sunrise.  If you’re a bibliophile, set aside 15 minutes each day to read a book from your favorite author. If you’re stuck in a drab office environment, bring in fresh flowers to put some color around you. Whenever a negative incident happens, imagine it as a series of vignettes on a piece of paper. Then drop some black ink on it and spread it so as to mask all the images. Or take an eraser to the page until it is again blank. If it is something someone said, enclose the words in a balloon letting the words inflate the balloon and then release it into the air and watch it float away until it disappears (don’t do these last three while driving as it is best to close your eyes while doing them).  Finally, whenever you think about the worst case scenario, think about other realistic – and less dire – outcomes. There are many facets to each situation. Let your mind seek the best outcomes.

These small doses of positivity throughout the day will help your brain counteract its natural negativity bias.

See also: On Being One … And The Power Of Habits

As always, I welcome your comments and stay in love,

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[1]       See, Hardwiring Happiness, Dr. Rick Hanson

[2]       The agmydala has been shown to perform a primary role in the processing of memory, decision-making and emotional reactions. See, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala.

[3]       See, Hardwiring Happiness.

[4]       http://kahneman.socialpsychology.org/

[5]       See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_positivity_ratio

[6]       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Vincent_Peale

[7]       http://www.positiveemotions.org/

On Being One … And The Reasons You Are “In Love”

Lonely

You’ve been in a relationship for a few months, a few years or perhaps a few decades. At first s/he was “into” you. They longed to be with you and when not physically present they would text and/or call you throughout the day. When you were together it seemed that you couldn’t keep your hands off of each other. You both looked for ways to make each other smile and laugh. You thought you had found the “One”!

Over time you grew “comfortable” with each other. The “best behavior” you both had exhibited at first to impress each other is perhaps long forgotten. “Life” got in the way. Pressures at work. The never-ending commute. Friends’ and parents’, perhaps even children’s, demands for your time. That is, you both got busy picking up your life and when you’re together it doesn’t seem like you’re “together.” In fact, recently your partner has pulled away from you and you sense an imminent end to the relationship. You don’t know what to do but you “want” your partner back. Or do you?

At such times, I guide my clients to ask what appears to be a simple, but is a most profound, question: “Why do you want him/her back?” or, put another way “Why do you want to save the relationship?” The most common response is: “Because I love him/her.” This is usually said with either emphasis, as in anger, or with a stunned look as if to ask me how I could pose such a question the answer being so obvious. But the answer is rarely obvious. So, I usually follow up with another seemingly innocuous question: “What do you love about him/her?” or, “What do you mean by you love him/her?”

I very often get a blank look or a long silence if we are communicating by Skype without video or by phone. This is particularly true in instances where the partnership has been one of a long duration. It is simply the case that the longer we are with someone, the more we tend to forget the characteristics that first made us fall in love with him/her.

Aside from the spiritual side of the issue (the subject of a different post), there’s also the fact that, through our evolution, we are programmed to be part of a tribe, or of a team if you prefer. In fact, in the age of the “cave men”, to be isolated from the tribe meant certain death. That fear has been programmed into our DNA so that, when a relationship ends, we get flooded by adrenaline as our reptilian brain seeks to return to the safety of the tribe (i.e., partnership).

So, in the end, do you “love” your partner or do you “need” him/her. And if you didn’t need him/her, would you even bother trying to save the relationship? In other words, what is it about your partner that makes him/her so special or unique?

In our society, we are prone to use the phrase “I love you” without much thought or even afterthought. As such, the phrase has lost most of its powerful meaning. Love is one of our two basic emotions, the other being fear. When it is used willy-nilly, without resonance from your soul, it is empty and meaningless and your partner will sense it.

So, what do you mean when you tell your partner “I love you”? Are you really “in love” with him/her? Are you just “afraid” to be outside of a tribe? Outside of your comfort zone? And if you are “in love” with your partner, it would help to remember the traits that made you fall in love initially. It would be wise to write them down and remember them. Even tell your partner about them. But you must mean it. It must come from your soul. Just like the words “I love you” should not be used indiscriminately, the reasons you are “in love” need to come from deep within you. Often, this opens up a Pandora’s box for men as we have been taught not to be emotional lest we be perceived as weak and not worthy of being a mate. But it is in that “box” that you can get to know yourself better.

Too often we tend to cover up our fears, our perceived weaknesses, our “unworthiness.” But these emotions cannot be buried deep enough to be ignored. It is indeed wise, though hardly easy, to explore them. To bring them to light and to acknowledge them. In doing so, you may discover the true meaning of “love.”

So when you think about “saving” your partnership, it is wise to think of the reasons why. Not the superficial reasons, but the real reasons. As human beings, we have multiple levels of emotions that we tend to want to bury and ignore. There are needs, wants, desires, fears, angst, and love. These are what makes you human. These are also what makes your partner human for s/he too has the same panoply of feelings. When you take the time to truly acknowledge them you may just realize whether you “really” want to save the partnership or whether it has run its course. When you explore and communicate these feelings with your partner, it may reignite the love you first felt. If not, it may allow the both of you to let go of the partnership with grace and without hurt feelings.

Remember that a relationship is simply a way to define yourself. For without someone else to mirror you, how would you know who you are and what you stand for? So, when a relationship appears to be falling apart it is an opportunity to work on yourself, not on your partner. Because you are in charge of the focus of your thoughts and of your emotions, how you react to the energy your partner is reflecting back to you will determine whether or not a relationship grows, or dies.

As always, in love, Jean-Pierre

You can now follow me on HeartWhisper

On Being One … And The Power Of Acceptance

acceptanceI recently guided a client (let’s call her “Linda”) who believed she had a communication issue with her partner (let’s call him “John”). She wanted to know how best to communicate with him as she felt that the relationship was in trouble and she didn’t know whether to leave or stay. Turns out that her problem was not one of communication at all … at least not yet, but rather one of acceptance. In essence, Linda had an issue not only accepting her partner for whom he is, but also accepting herself for whom she is. Here’s her story. As usual, the names and locations have been changed.

Linda is an accomplished business woman in her 50s. From the beginning of her career, she worked to be financially “safe.” She’s even remained in jobs she didn’t like, some she even hated, so she could cushion her retirement funds. She knows what she wants and she does not hesitate to ask for it or go get it. From the moment we spoke, it was evident that she communicates her needs very clearly. In fact, she is a “man-style” communicator in that she uses short sentences with a beginning, an end and data in the middle. She was terse and the point, like most men. Hence, it was unlikely that her partner, John, would misunderstand her.

Linda felt that John was her lifetime partner but had a problem with the fact that he did not have a job. To Linda, it seemed that John waited to be out of cash (or as she put it “in crisis”) before he went out and got some type of job to see him through. She had told him that this was a sticking point for her because her mother had financially supported her dad and she didn’t want to be placed in the same situation.

Linda kept coming back to this issue so it was obviously central to our discussion. I asked Linda whether she would experience the same doubts about the relationship if John won the lottery, in which case whether he had a job or not would be irrelevant. Linda had never really thought about this. I reminded Linda that every partner acts as a mirror to ourself and invited her to examine whether John was simply mirroring a fear of not having “enough”, of lacking financial “security.” Linda took some time to think this over. As she did so, I expanded a little on this issue from John’s perspective. I noted that John is sort of stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Namely, he has been without a job and surviving without a job for a number of years. I emphasized the word “survival” to Linda because it is an important trait in most men. I reminded her that men evolved as hunters/gatherers, therefore the ability to “survive” is a very important one in a man’s reptilian brain. I noted that it was very possible that John had created this situation in order to feel “strong.” That is, that he could survive the “elements of nature” (replace “nature” with “modern world” and you get the picture). I also reminded Linda that a man’s reptilian brain tells him that he must be strong in order to find a mate as women are prone to pick the “strong” in order to ensure both their survival and that of their progeny. This is encoded in men’s DNA and still rules us at a subconscious level.

So, Linda then came along and John “fell in love” which means his hunter/gatherer instincts got even stronger. Linda had clearly communicated to him that his getting a job was a sine qua non, that is an indispensable condition, of the relationship. At a subconscious level this was a direct “hit” on his idea of being strong (i.e., his survival skills). Linda even admitted to “nagging” John about his unemployment situation and even tried to help him get a job, thus effectively emasculating him. Linda took on the role of the hunter/gatherer in the sense that she brought him the potential job (i.e., prey). Of course, this is all happening at a subconscious level.

This story was all the more interesting from Linda’s perspective as she had divorced her husband because she wanted to take a more feminine role. She felt her ex-husband had been too docile, too easy to get along, that she had to “wear the pants.” Yet, with John, she is still taking on and evidencing the masculine role. It was interesting to parrot back to Linda that she had delved to some extent on her apparent lack of romanticism. Moreover, she mentioned the fact that she seem to constantly surround herself with people who are romantic, including her ex-husband and John. Yet, she admitted that she “shut down” when a certain stage of romanticism was reached. I pointed out to Linda that this was entirely logical since being romantic is being vulnerable for you do not know whether the other person will react in a “positive” way. Hence, by being romantic we expose ourselves to potential hurt feelings. As such, Linda’s need to be in control (a masculine trait) overrode her desires. We discussed her relationship with her dad, and his relationship with her mom, which had a significant bearing on Linda’s fears and desires. I invited her to explore the possibility that the hurt she had experienced through her dad prevented her from being romantic. I noted that if she embraced being romantic, she could cut this cycle. What a gift John was giving her! Linda said that being “romantic” was difficult and that she did not know how. I assured her that there are plenty of books on the subject and that I could provide a few titles and that there was plenty to be seen and/or read on the Internet … some of it even worthy of consideration. I noted that romance is like a muscle: the more she exercised it, the stronger it would get.

At last, I reminded Linda that this relationship is about her. That it was very possible that John could be her life partner. So, I invited her to really examine the importance of him getting a job. That is, could she accept John for whom he is? I noted that the role she wished to play was for her to determine, keeping in mind, however, that she manifested this relationship in order to provide herself with the opportunity to expand. So, since she wanted to expand her feminine role, I invited her to think about how John allowed her to do so. I also noted that it is more than likely that she manifested this relationship in order to heal the wounds she experienced with her dad, which had allowed her to explore her angry side. This is a trait that still controlled her and with which she still had to come to grips and make her peace. Most people attempt to ignore or bury their “dark side.” Yet, doing so only makes that “dark side” want to come to the light even more (i.e., be acknowledged). When you make your peace with that dark side (in Linda’s case: her anger), you are able to let it go. It no longer controls you. As a final note, I told Linda that walking away from this relationship without resolving this angry side simply meant that she will manifest another partner and the circumstances needed to repeat this cycle.

Finally, we spent a little time reviewing how men and women are genetically programmed to mis-communicate. Like most women, she was not surprised when I told her that men’s brains are simple relative to women’s. However, she was surprised to learn that brain scans show that men do not have a speech center. Rather, when speaking, the entire left side of a man’s brain lights up as if we are searching for a speech center. Because we evolved as hunter/gatherers, we evolved to be unemotional speakers. That is, emotion, other than anger, is a sign of weakness, thus to be frowned upon. Men also literally have a ‘nothing box’ and consider silence a reward. That is why most men can go sit in a canoe in the middle of a lake for hours on end with “pass the beer” being the only words spoken. The “nothing box” is also used by men as their way of solving problems. It is wise not to interrupt a man who seems to be staring out the window or at a wall as he is likely to be internalizing a problem to find a solution. In all circumstances it is wise to remember that whatever a man does, he does to show his mate (actual or potential) that he is “strong” (i.e., good mating potential), yet another reason men resist asking for directions.

In contrast, women evolved to speak. Brain scans show that women have a speech center in the frontal left lobe and a small area in the back of the right cortex. Women use speech to create relationships and, hence, use indirect words, so as to avoid potential conflicts. Women are emotional speakers and solve their problems by speaking about them. It is wise for a woman to tell a man that she just wants him to listen to her, otherwise he will look for “data” in her speech to solve a problem. Women evolved as multi-taskers and carry multiple conversations on a variety of subjects all at once (highly confusing to a man who has evolved to be a uni-tasker). Women speak in five tones of which men only hear three. As such, it is difficult for men to know when women have switched subject matter in what appears to a man, to be a continuous monologue or dialogue between women. Silence is a punishment for a woman but it takes a man an average of nine minutes of silence from his partner to begin to think there may be a problem.

Oh, by the way, last I heard, Linda decided to accept John for whom he is and … guess what? Within a week he had found a job he liked. It seems Linda and John have settled into their respective and expected gender roles. May their relationship continue to provide them the opportunity to expand.

In love, always – Jean-Pierre

You can now follow these blog posts on my website: HeartWhisper

On Being One … And The Power Of Change

One thing is constant in our Universe… change! It comes as no surprise to anyone that everything always changes… nothing ever remains constant. Yet, some of us seem to be surprised when the energy in our relationship changes. At some point in time every couple encounters “problems.” Sometimes a problem can be minor, and sometimes it can be major, like a bout of infidelity. Either way, a “problem” can also be seen as an opportunity to grow, within and/or without the relationship.

When a “problem” arises, partners usually go into crisis mode and sometimes agree that changes to the partnership must take place. So, promises are exchanged and the two of you embark upon a new path. You watch each other carefully to make sure that the other lives up to his/her promise. But do you watch yourself? Have you taken the time to examine how you (yes, you) create the “problems” that would allow you to change?

Am I not referring here to blaming yourself for whatever happened. That will not help you grow into your higher self. I am talking about the fact that your partner is a mirror to yourself and that your energy (i.e., thoughts) have created the environment and circumstances (i.e., problems) that you are now living. Once you can accept this concept, you can stop blaming your partner for whatever happened and start reflecting back upon yourself.

While you can certainly choose to focus on your partner and do your best to make sure s/he changes as promised, is this really in your highest good? They are who they choose to be and while they can change, they will do so only if they so choose. Threats and ultimatums are rather ineffective in changing someone’s beliefs and behaviors in the long-term. The key is to understand that neither of you are “broken.” You have simply created the circumstances that allow the both of you to grow… should you so choose!

In the end, a relationship is about you, not about your partner.  It is an environment that allows you to reflect upon who you are and whom you want to be.

Here are 11 questions you may ask of yourself and consider whether a different belief/action would be in your highest good.

  1. Do you focus on your actions and behaviors? Do your thoughts mostly focus on the positive that surrounds you? Have you noticed the miracles all around you (e.g., have you wondered how the Earth is at the perfect distance from the sun? Or how your heart pumps and your lungs breathe without you thinking about it? How about the fact that you can get light by flipping a switch or potable water by turning on the faucet? How about the vast quantities of food items on the shelves of your local grocery store, or the myriad of items for sale in any store? I could go on.)? Have you taken stock of your inner qualities or do you spend most of your time demeaning yourself? Remember that people around provide you with a reflection (i.e., they are your mirror). If so, your perception of how they feel about you, or even of how they describe you, is a reflection of your internal dialogue. Do you notice if it’s mostly positive? If not, what are you doing about it?
  1. Do you take the time to get to know yourself? We often surround ourselves with “noise” and avoid silence so as to avoid knowing ourselves, as if we are scared of finding out who we really are. Yet, it is in the silence that we can examine our life, take score – so to speak – of the path we have traveled, the destination we want to reach and the best way to get there. This should be a positive exercise, full of wonder at the many twists and turns you have taken. There should be no criticism or defensiveness. Remember that everything you did, you did because you believed it would make you feel better. Every decision was the right one — at the time.
  1. Do you feel that somehow you have shifted gears? Do you feel there is a different rhythm or flow in the relationship with yourself? Do you stop blaming yourself and finding fault with your thoughts and actions?
  1. Do you talk differently to yourself? We all carry an internal dialogue. Most of us speak very negatively to ourselves and are unaware of doing so. Take the time to write down your internal thoughts – without judgment. You will be amazed at what you tell yourself. Do this for 2 weeks without judgment, just write down what you tell yourself. Be aware of your inner voice and do your best to have it whisper loving words to you.
  1. Does there seem to be less negative periods? Do you feel less stuck, helpless and hopeless? Do you move out of the funk quicker?
  1. Do you have more direction and purpose? Do you drift less? Are you driven more by your internal desires to be good to yourself? I’m not talking about shopping at Saks instead of Target. I’m talking about talking to yourself positively. Not blaming yourself when things go wrong but rather understanding that “this too shall pass.”
  1. Are you driven more by internal desires and wishes rather than reacting to people or external circumstances? Remember that nothing is more important than the way you feel. Remember also that whatever you do (and everyone else does), you do in the belief that it will make you feel better. So why not just choose to feel better?
  1. Are you more emotionally balanced? Are moments of effusive crying, tear letting, chest beating and/or rage gone? Are apologies a thing of the past and are you now living in the moment?
  1. Are you no longer blaming others for your circumstances?
  1. Are you taking great steps toward self-care both physically, emotionally and spiritually?
  1. Do you worry much less about what will happen next, accepting that everything always changes?

Let me know what this exercise uncovers for you. As always, in love – Jean-Pierre

You can now follow me on HeartWhisper

On Being One … And The Power Of The End Of A Relationship

We’ve all been there, most of us multiple times … some too many times to care to remember. We fell in love and for a period of time, shorter or longer, we were the center of attention of this person. We basked in their apparent love and sometimes adoration. We wondered how lucky we had been to finally find “the one.” We walked on air with a perpetual smile on our face. And then … s/he zigged and you zagged. Small things began to trouble and bother you. S/he no longer smiled or told you s/he loved you as often, or at all. S/he went out with friends more often. S/he was more prone to criticize than to compliment. In other words … you drifted apart. The love that was had sailed into troubled waters replete with rocks sharp enough to impale your heart. And then the day came when s/he told you that the relationship was “over.” When s/he told you that  you weren’t “enough”; you weren’t “the one”; s/he would be “happier without you.” When the words spoken cut into you like a millions shards of glass splintered by the beats of your heart.

At that time, it is wise to remember that we live in a world of polarity: South and North; Up and Down; Left and Right; Darkness and Light; and that for every action there is an inverse and direct opposite reaction. So, why is the end of relationship necessarily a “bad” thing? Could we not see it as the beginning of a new one, however long it takes to find it?

From a spiritual perspective, because this is a world of polarity, every relationship that has soured and ended has set forth a request for the exact opposite. So, while thinking of your ex, you may want to think about the following view, mantra, prayer (whatever you wish to call it), to help you find a more vibrant, loving and healthy relationship:

We came together to travel the same path and write the same story. But we came to a fork and our story ended. Perhaps there was some pretending going on in our relationship. At a minimum, there was some, if not a lot, of mis-communication going on. But the good news is that out of that came my keen awareness that I needed to know myself better. That I needed to take the time to love myself and rediscover the wonderful person that I am. I’m so excited about getting to know myself. To get in touch with my soul. And in time, travel this new road with a partner who knows that s/he is responsible for his/her own happiness. Someone who is in love with life. Someone who knows life is a road for us to learn that we are loved because we are; that we are here to be and live in love. 

Thank you for our excursion and for the benefit it has given me. Thank you for mirroring my fears and providing me with the opportunity to raise my vibration. I now realize that we attracted each other into our lives to give us the opportunity to grow. I send you love and light to illuminate your chosen path while I travel my own.

Of course, good as this point of view is, the large part of the work remains to learn who you are and to love the person you are just as you are. And to remember that you are loved simply because you are.

As always, I welcome all feedback and comments, Jean-Pierre

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On Being One … And Of The Power Of Quotes

For the longest time I have been a student of history. Perhaps it is because I buy into the general belief that: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This quote is attributed to Jorge Agustin Nicolas Ruiz de Santayana y Borras, better known as George Santayana, in The Life of Reason, 1905, though it is most often attributed to Sir Winston Churchill who actually never uttered those words.

While I do believe that, from a spiritual perspective, we are bound to repeat experiences until we “remember” the lesson(s) we were born to do, today I choose to focus and modify somewhat a quote from our former President, Theodore Roosevelt, who said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

I wrote previously about the two emotions that we have been endowed with as souls: love and fear (See, On Being One … And Of The Power Of Fear). Perhaps, like me, you read Mr. Roosevelt’s quote speaks to the fact that, while we create our reality through our thoughts (i.e., the energy goes to wherever and whatever we focus on), transmitted through our words, we must also take action if we are to manifest our desire. And perhaps like me, you have noticed that most of us tend to make our decision based on fear. That is, we have been brought up and educated both by our educational system and by the media to assume the worst. Why? Because if I can make you fear for your well-being unless you do what I tell you, then you will obediently follow my commands. Yet, when we open our hearts; when we understand that, from a spiritual perspective, there is nothing to fear for we are eternal beings; when we base our decisions on love, we get closer to Spirit, God, Source, Infinite, whatever you wish to call it. In doing so, we remember that we are Soul and live a life of joy regardless of our circumstances. Easy to do? Not even remotely for we are still human beings with built-in chemical responses to our outside environment. That is why, paraphrasing Mr. Roosevelt:

The credit belongs to the one who is actually in the arena, whose face is illuminated by love; who strives valiantly with an open heart; who re-experiences opportunities to remember that s/he is Soul, because there is no growth without experiences; but who does actually strive to do the deeds with an open heart; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause to be of service to his fellow human beings, animals and the planet; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of living in and for love, and who at the worst, if s/he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his/her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who lived in fear.

As always, I welcome all feedback and comments. Wishing all days filled with laughs and giggles, Jean-Pierre

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