Life Coaching – Let’s Get Motivated Together

A young, local business owner came to see me about life coaching and goal setting. He’s worked hard, tirelessly, for the last two years to build his business to where it is now, nearly able to be sustained without the owner’s daily participation. As such, my client has been able to spend the last six months taking time off and enjoying the fruits of his labor. Now, comfortable and content with his current success, he’s finding that it’s harder to get up early in the morning, easier to go out to dinner, and yet also not as satisfying spending another day on the golf course. He remembers the days when his family and friends mocked his idea to start his own company. “You’re too young,” “It’s too hard,” “What if you fail?” He was doubly motivated to prove them all wrong. Today, his parents and peers congratulate him on his achievements to the point that even he isn’t sure why he shouldn’t just take it easy for a while longer. Underneath it all, though, there’s a gnawing, passionate force of bigger and better things. What if he can train his guys to do more of the work for him, hire better canvassers and managers to keep things running when he isn’t there? What if, with his current business otherwise handled, he can branch out to other ventures, like the real estate market. He has his entire future ahead of him and it seems as bright as he is willing to make it. Yes, it’s in the distance and within reach at the same time.

If only he would take a few hours a month to plan, set goals, get clear on his desires, and then have someone tough and inspiring to keep him on track? Searching on Yelp one day, he finds some ads for Life Coaches and asks for estimates. We speak briefly on the phone and schedule a session for the following Monday – way to start the week of right with your coach by your side to make the most out of your dreams! Together, they plan three simple goals, each in a critical area of his life: more sleep, cleaner diet, and one new future-oriented work task. By the end of the day, I text him a recap of his commitments. Mid-week, I send another text to see how he’s doing and to cheer him on.

The following Monday, when he’s back in my office, his disposition is cheerful, and his motivation seems to be increasing. He accomplished getting to sleep by his target time six out of seven nights. He and his girlfriend cooked dinner at home nearly every evening and they both started the book I recommended for inspirational reading. He did not get to the gym as he’d wanted or done the work task he’d chosen, but he felt great about the big influx of work his company had this week, more than usual for this time of year, which allowed him to let go of the guilt of not getting all of the goals done, in favor of the emotional flexibility he can give himself when priorities shift. Additionally, on the mindfulness front, he agreed, at my suggestion, that it’s time to let go of some of the guilting language that he’s been using on himself. We’re looking to the future now, and for next week, we have three more goals, new ones, in addition to sleeping and eating well, from which he’s already experiencing increased self-esteem that the new habits the prior week helped establish. Seems like we are both looking forward to what our next sessions will bring!

How to Ask Your Partner if Opening the Relationship Could be Right for You

Dearest Partner,

I love our relationship. I feel secure and comfortable with where we are but also feel like I still have a drive towards meeting new people and having sexual encounters with others besides you. I hope that I don’t trigger you by saying this as I am still very attracted to you and love the way we connect physically. Recently, though, I’ve been reading about and researching non-monogamy. The “open” relationship lifestyle comes in many forms and can progress at a variety of speeds, all dictated by the rules you and I can decide on together. These can look like us playing together as a couple with other couples or singles, you and me dating people separately, or even having other relationships along-side this one. Since neither of us has any experience with this topic, I was hoping we could read some articles or books together that could lead to some in-depth conversations about how we feel about what we’ve learned. Perhaps we can find a relationship coach who can help guide us in a trial exploration. If we do this, I’d like it to be an adventure we’re both into and can share as a team. I promise to be honest, to share my feelings and needs, and to listen to you with an open mind when you state yours. No pressure, but I’m really hoping we can discuss this further over a glass of wine and dinner.

Yours primarily,

Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski

According to Nagoski, the female experience of orgasm as much more of a mystery than most women realize. From anatomy to arousal, she states that women (as well as their partners) need to relearn how to accommodate their bodies to recreate what sex and sexuality mean to them. One new way to explore sexual response is to see it in terms of two control mechanisms: the accelerator, or gas pedal, and the break.

“The accelerator responds to all the sexually relevant information in the environment — everything you see, hear, touch, smell, taste, or imagine that your brain codes as sexually relevant and it sends the ‘turn on’ signal. The brake, at the same time that that’s happening, is noticing all the very good reasons not to be turned on right now — everything…that’s a potential threat, and it sends a signal that says ‘turn off.’ So, arousal is not just the process of turning on the ons, it’s also turning off the offs.”

For everyone, women and men alike, what is normal for both sexual sensitivity and the sensitivity to threats can be very different on the bell curve. However, we can learn to be more in tune with what arouses us, while generating a safe environment in which to let go of the stressors and worries of daily life. For some women, a good place to start is getting out of one’s habitual environment and also taking the time to pay a visit to her lady parts. Many women lack experience with connecting to their clitoris and vulva as well as the entire masturbation experience. Nagoski urges us to get to know ourselves – then we can share what we’ve learned with our partners.

Check out this interview:

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

Perel shares her amazement about how much people are willing to experiment sexually while they are single or outside of their relationship parameters. She mocks the often puritanical nature of sex within the marriage bed, especially once the honeymoon has worn off or once the couple become parents. Years later, at their wit’s end, couples who seek counseling plead for some solution that will rejuvenate their lost connection. Though they seem committed to “making things work,” many find themselves stuck behind a veil of stress, anxiety, insecurity, work, and children, to name a few. At this stage, working on the relationship, or working on their sex life can feel like one more chore.

“In our erotic life, work does not work…trying is always trying too hard. We glorify efficiency and fail to recognize that the erotic space is a radiant interlude in which we luxuriate, indifferent to the demands of productivity; pleasure is the only goal.” Esther Perel

Great sex requires ingredients. Perel states you must have vulnerability, trust, creativity, and patience. Sometimes, distance and independence from your lover are needed before you can return to their embrace with excitement. For long-term relationships that have relegated sexuality to routine pattern or worse, to ambivalence, stronger measures may be needed. Perel recommends that couples reinstate a courtship. They can plan to meet each other at a bar or restaurant, pretending it is their first meeting. They might indulge in a weekend getaway and promise to leave all domestic conversations behind them. Another tactic is to find arousal in the shadows. They might seek to find their lost libido with someone new, through having an affair. They might agree to invite a third into their bedroom. They may elect to open the relationship altogether, seeking thirds or even fourths on their own or together. Dubbed, inviting the shadow, Perel challenges couples to find the spark they think they lost by looking in new and exciting places.

For additional notes:

The Erotic Mind by Jack Morin, Ph.D.

Morin talks about the goal of being a “self-actualizer.” This is a person who is comfortable with his or her self, is relatively free of the constriction of past conflicts, and who sees challenges as fostering growth with creative energy and fire. Self-actualizers have peak experiences more often than their counterparts, who may still have some self-trust and love to develop. By examining the sexual and emotional experiences and trends of your past, Morin shows how you can manipulate your “erotic equation,” the elements that tend to make you the most aroused, to seek out and execute more satisfying sexual encounters. For most, the basic equation looks like this: Attraction + Obstacles = Excitement. Which of the following Obstacles might have an extra zing for you? Longing or anticipation, violating prohibitions, searching for power, teasing, fantasy, exuberance, satisfaction, closeness, anxiety, guilt, or anger? Morin also suggests that you can use what you discover about old wounds and conflicts, to heal emotional blocks and heighten excitation. Once you discover your Core Erotic Theme, whether it is something you already celebrate or if it’s a trigger you consider “bizarre” or “perverted,” Morin urges readers to find safe and consensual outlets that fit your needs so you can normalize your sexual experience, if it has been a source of shame for you, and so you can ultimately maximize your fulfillment.

“To discover your erotic potential you must be free to choose what is right for you…The key is to remain conscious of your actions and their consequences without becoming self-conscious, a state antithetical to emotional and sexual well-being…The ability to accept responsibility while enjoying freedom is a hallmark of psychological maturity…Erotically healthy people establish safe parameters within which to let themselves go.”  Jack Morin