by Jami and Marla
Most couples aren’t doing well right now… The numbers are consistent worldwide and are not encouraging for marriages and long-term relationships. The increase in those filing for divorce is exponential (lawyers in China are seeing upwards of 300 new cases a day come across their desks) and it is tragic! Why? Because what we know beyond a shadow of a doubt–and our stats prove it–is that most coupleships are fixable and the impulse to break up a relationship longer than two years is unnecessary 97% of the time when a couple does the work together inside of our unique process.
Were you aware that according to the latest statistics more than half of people regret divorcing their partner?
“No way, really???” you may be saying. Yep!
While this number has decreased from a few years ago (several studies showed that 80% of divorced people regretted divorcing) what has been divulged to us is that this happens for one person in the relationship at a time. We call this the Key-Dagger: every couple has a key to their partner’s hearts and sadly also has access to the exact dagger to hurt them most. This Control/Abandonment Cycle is easy to see on our Feeling Wheel 5.0 in the three feelings on the top half of its center which are Abandonment, Fear, and Control.
What we see in the current climate of isolation is that you are exposed to a mirror of your crappiest behavior and that mirror is the eye-roll-instigating behavior of your partner. You don’t like how they are behaving because it happens to be your ugliest, too. The short version is that your partner not only may be using the dagger instead of the key for your heart, you also have to look at yourself harder in these times of social isolation. This is never easy, as coupleship does not get harder it just feels more dangerous the longer you are together.
What we know is that when the right tools are used (emotion identification/expression, empathy, and intentional listening) all of the daggers–the ughhhh–can be dealt with and turned into keys–the loveeee.
So, what now? First, watch out for these (totally fixable!) three issues:
Financial insecurity, pornography or other sexually explicit material use, and increased social media use. All three of these are dramatically on the rise right now as couples are sitting on the couch avoiding talking to each other about what really matters all the while seeking comfort elsewhere. Just because it’s easier and feels way better…at least in the moment.
The difficulty is that traditional marriage counseling actually increases the likelihood of divorce. True story. The statistics show that when a couple goes to counseling for their relationship EIGHTY PERCENT end up divorced! We actually have medical doctors that refer their patients to us because the docs have had several marriage counselors recommend divorce to their patients in the first marriage counseling session. This doesn’t have to be what the end looks like for you and your partner!
The financial cost of divorce is higher than can be measured but the average price tag is about $30,000 per couple in just the first months. Often these stats do not include the cost of two separate households.
The most profound cost that many do not consider is the years invested with the one you fell in love with (note: we are not talking about an abusive relationship–if you are being hurt emotionally and/or physically please seek assistance immediately). The years of life spent with a partner can never be retrieved. This unique person has contributed to your becomingness in signficant ways and it will be difficult to match this with a new partner. This is because of that old key-dagger. It turns out that you chose your love because of the key you hold to unlock your partner’s heart and teach you about yourself. And the painful reality is that if you don’t cherish yourself enough to have a better conversation you will lose that key. This. Is. Important. The cool thing is that here at JamiAndMarla.Love we often see significant results within just two or three sessions! This is because we coach/mentor as a team which is pretty unusual.
These are unprecedented times. The stress level in coupleships is higher than ever before and you don’t have to let it take your best dreams away from you. We have been helping other couples for over twenty-five years. We have done this by facing our own issues and practicing the tools… vigorously. Even so, we have had a few unusual fights over the last couple of weeks. Luckily, the tools we teach work really well and we are on it and all-in!
What to do right now???
The answer is to cherish yourself enough to have a better conversation. This means doing things that you have not done. It means making better agreements as you grow so that you can grow together instead of apart. It means getting honest (eventually when the right tools and agreements are in place) about your porn use, your busyness, your stubbornness, or who is making you feel good about yourself on social media or whatever other numbing-out technique you’re choosing at the moment. It means letting your feelings about finances and how your partner treats you be felt and known in humility and love. It means doing the hardest thing you’ll ever do and picking up that very heavy phone to call, text, email us right the frick NOW!
I just realized I’ve been holding my breath for so long, particularly the past two weeks. I have forgotten to breathe (breathe deeply).
The whole world feels like it's on pins and needles right now...What's going to happen? Will I be safe??? Will my coupleship make it through this quarantine? Etc. Etc. Etc.
Did you know that you cannot be anxious at the same time you are breathing deeply?
Anxiety is held in your upper chest and, wow, friends, I have held onto wayyyy too much and have been breathing wayyy to shallow.
Heartache does that to us.
Stress does that to us.
Anger does that to us.
Loneliness does that to us.
And on, and on, and on...
It’s time to take a huge breath out to release that shit and a massive breath in to breathe in the goodness and beauty and light.
Now breathe, and keep breathing deeply of the love that embraces you today.
Take good care of yourself and those you love.
Hugs to you all today,
Stress is at an all-time high. Looking around you begin to wonder if the frog that has been in a slowly warming pot realizes that the danger is real and just lacks the tools to get out?
As coaches, mentors, and consultants you help you find answers to the most important questions about yourself and your loved ones. Having these questions answered is important for your heart to heal forward.
Part of the answer is always the same. It is not shocking, it is not new, it is just that people often think they are already doing it, or that doing it is a one-time thing. For whatever reason, what you have found is that it is difficult to cherish yourself healthfully and consistently. And it is far easier to let distractions move you away from your core values.
The world is very loud right now. Never before has it felt like every decision you make is such a vital one. This long-term stress is not good for you, or anyone. Stress magnifies a person’s codependent or narcissistic motives and moves them from far away from their stated values, such as love and respect, and shifts their actions to control or abandonment in order to meet a perceived need for safety.
The funny thing is so few people stop to think about what it is they are perceiving because their brains have been wired to make those decisions automatically, and they have forgotten how to feel their feelings and make sense out of them before they react. Just look around–many people are acting before they are thinking.
The only way you can cherish yourself and develop the skills to shift from feeling controlled to feeling peace and from feeling abandoned to feeling joy so you can do your best for your loved ones is to get really good at feeling your emotions and speaking your truth in love.
Speaking your truth in love is easily seen as clear leadership. The kind of leadership that makes you proud to follow because it is authentic and not self-serving. The kind of leadership Dr. Amy Acton has been doing for Ohio’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The path to self-cherishing and building better communities means grieving the losses, forgiving the people around the stress and pain, so you can stand firm on the values you state for ourselves. I found myself being overwhelmed, depressed, and feeling generally afraid. Not only is this virus super complicated and if not handled well worldwide, potentially fatal, but the political system is also broken! Somehow this translates to people feeling justified in their rude behavior.
I will be honest with you… Prior to doing much of this work, I would have been suicidal. Luckily, Marla and I have worked with the tools we have been teaching for nearly thirty years, and the work has paid off bigtime. Allowing the hard emotions to be simply feelings and not a statement of my value allows me to see things clearer and appreciate the many gifts we have. The anger that was leveled at me for having an opinion when I was a kid was shocking especially since the fear that is behind this anger could have been managed so much better. Forgiving those with no manners does not mean taking any crap; it means learning how to set healthy boundaries and learning how to communicate better in general.
It is imperative to learn to communicate better so that you can once again hold true to the values you all hold dear. Those values are truth, justice, and liberty for all. Let’s band together and rebuild from this current crisis by learning a new way of communicating.
If you need help on how to get started contact us and you will get you the resources you need to get started on the best values clarification exercise you have ever experienced and–surprise!–it starts with cherishing yourself. Best of all, you can do this for free with just a little guidance.
Let’s fight the extreme rise of stress by learning to communicate so well, so powerfully that everyone feels heard!
Ahhhhhh, yes. Breathe this in for a sec... How are you feeling about this equation? One thing I know is that our world could use a lot more of this. To be clear the “emotion” piece represents expressing my emotions—the good, the bad, the ugly (side note: there are no “bad” emotions; ALL feelings are important and are telling us something important if we’ll stop and listen carefully to our heartspeak)—in a healthy, loving, and humble way.
Have we, as a nation, lost our ability to truly LOVE EACHOTHER??? I think Jesus has a few words on this topic...
We certainly do not have to agree and I am absolutely comfortable with agreeing to disagree. What I’m not okay with is superiority, hate, raging, and name-calling just to name a few. And Jesus wasn’t either.
I fully admit that I have struggled with these things that I hate. I intentionally take time daily to move through the hard feelings. And it. Is. Hard. But it is saving my heart and some difficult relationships in my life.
Would you be willing to join us in practicing love (healthy expressions of feelings coupled with empathy) on the daily???
Jami and I would love to re-create a new world with you, one where the flourishing of all creation is at the center. Let’s change the world together!
Who’s a recovering control freak???
Yep, and I know exactly where it comes from... Are you leaning in for this?
The fear of being judged or disapproved of. Yikes.
When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success (control), popularity (control), perfection (control), being “right” (control), and power (control) are easily perceived as attractive solutions. (Note: none of these things are wrong; it’s when they become the idols we worship that they are dangerous and life-sucking.)
The real trap, however, is self-rejection. Reject myself before anybody else can reject me... Resonate? Me, too.
As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I too-often (still!) find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am unimportant” … [My dark side says,] “I am no good, it worthy of love and acceptance… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned.”
Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of...
Philosopher, theologian, and humble sage Henri Nouwen writes, “Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
The core truth of our existence is being the Beloved...
Sink your teeth into that delicious morsel of truth. Wowza.
You are in control of this fight for freedom from control. And YOU ARE WORTHY of your name The Beloved. Embrace it today and know that you are loved, important, and valuable because you are the Beloved.
Ah, yes, this...
It’s so hard.
And yet so important.
You deserve it. Your heart deserves it. Your relationship(s) deserve it.
It’s for YOU and doesn’t mean you ever have to see them again.
Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation. (But so often it does. ) What it does mean is peace...humble power...joy...and so much self love.
Engage. Live long. And prosper.
by Marla and Jami
When you think about being with your family for the holidays do you sing quietly to yourself (to the tune of Silver Bells), “Family hell, family hell. It’s Christmas time in the suburbs?”
Then have no fear because we have a few tools to help you through the next few weeks of tinsel, turkeys and tension.
We hear about people’s families and the holiday “joy”…often. And we’ve narrowed them down to five main profiles:
Let’s face it. The most amazing relationships are complicated even when things are going well, and of course, everyone has conflict now and again, so why would we expect our families of origin to be any different? And do we expect a little too much from our parents because, well, they’re the “adults” in this scenario? The truth is that parents (and in-laws) often have more influence than we tend to acknowledge in our relationships. Their words tend to “stick” in our memories and can create conflicts with our partners.
Like we mentioned above, we have all returned home as an adult and suddenly felt like a “little kid” in the face of the control or abandonment we feel with our parents. We call this arrested development (yes, just like the TV show—it is funny until it hurts).
S. Rufus of Psychology Today writes, “Some of us look grown-up but aren’t. We walk around with suits and briefcases and car keys and annuities. But inside, we are five. Ten. Twelve. Sixteen. We sit in boardrooms, travel the world, even write books. But we are kids, still playing dress-up, playing house. Our bodies matured but our minds did not. Now – playing catch-up, playing spy – we feel left out of the adult world, certain that our would-be peers are whispering behind our backs, or speaking in a code we do not know.” (Full article HERE.)
And here you are feeling like you’re 6, and now add in the fact that your mother-in-law or father-in-law wants to give you parenting advice (or reprimands/disciplines your child without consulting with you first) and you want to scream at them that you live with their child and know that their method of parenting did not work out so well!
For me (Jami) I was unable to separate from my role as my parent’s co-dependent when I brought my wife and children home. This left Marla feeling excluded from the private little conversations my mom and I would constantly have. And when we went to Marla’s childhood home, I felt obligated to conform to the routine of formal events that used to last for the entire week. Are you kidding me?
Whatever circumstances you are in, there are four things to start doing right now to begin showing your family that you are an adult, and happily making your own life count!
Forgive them. What does this mean, really? First, it’s a choice way before it’s a feeling. Second, forgiveness releases your heart to be free to love more completely yourself and others. It does not let the person who hurt you off the hook. And it will actually give you the gift of good, healthy boundaries, which are absolutely necessary to pack into your luggage for this holiday journey. And let’s be real, who wants to carry around all that hurt anyway?
And you know what? These family members we’ve been holding on to unforgiveness towards really didn’t intend to hurt us (at least most of them didn’t). Just like you, they were caught up on the old merry-go-round patterns of behavior that they learned from their families of origin. Remember the phrase, “Hurt people hurt people.” It’s really as simple as that. And it’s incredible that forgiveness will inevitably lead you to a place of compassion for those who have hurt you. Crazy as this sounds right now, it’s a real outcome. Jami and I both know…been there, done that, and have the healed scars to prove it. You can jump off of this crazy-making merry-go-round of pain and hurt; just stop it…be cherished. When you do, guess what happens? Those little comments like, “You look pretty…too bad your butt’s big like your mom’s” or the hostile humor thrown at you like a dagger about your childhood nickname “Hippo” won’t hurt anymore, and you can laugh along with the offending party and consider empathetically how deeply they must be hurting to want to demean you.
The need to forgive generally falls into two categories. Perfect family/parents? Yes, your parents and siblings need your forgiveness, especially if you believe they are perfect. We find it is actually more difficult for those that believe Mom and Dad are perfect than those that have abuse issues, because if your parents were perfect, how are you ever going to measure up? (Marla) I thought my family was perfect. Really, I did. And then I discovered that we were really too enmeshed to see how dysfunctional we really were. My dad was emotionally distant, and my mom was so busy keeping the house perfect and having a meal on the table by 6 pm that I often felt lonely and isolated. To cover this, I strove for perfection in all areas of my life. What a burden. I have forgiven, and I have freedom. It’s a beautiful place to be!
And then there are the parents that have obvious dysfunction that has the very visible pink elephant that no one is willing to talk about. Forgiveness opens the space for your newer relationships to become integrated in a healthier way.
They don’t have to know you have chosen to forgive them, and really it is usually not a good idea to share it with them unless they are on their own journey and let you know it is ok to talk about the hurts. My parents are on this healing journey, and I am forever grateful. Does it make the holidays perfect? No, but definitely better.
Once you have chosen forgiveness, imagine what they would say if they could be able to tell you everything you ever wanted to hear from them. Write it down and read it back to yourself. This opens up the possibility of asking them for what you would like to receive from them and makes it clearer in your mind. You may have to repeat this step often, even if they are no longer with us. It is important not to move to step two until you have completed the forgiveness step. Step One actually opens up creativity that is not all available to us until we have made the choice to forgive, and forgiveness is almost always a choice before we feel like doing it.
Talk with someone (your Significant Other can make great ally for the Holiday’s) about the things that are difficult for you when visiting your family or your partner’s family. Get very clear about the things you have forgiven, who is there and why you think it hurts. Start practicing standing up for yourself, your partner and your kids in a kind and respectful way. Some phrases you can practice are:
If you find yourself falling back into anger and frustration, take a time out. You can also go for a walk or play a game with the kids. It would also be wise to consistently do check-ins with your partner a couple of times a day to take the pulse on how you are feeling (you can email us for an outline for “Check-In,” or you can purchase our book HERE). Simply expressing feelings will take the sting and hurt out of the situation.
Be ready to take action S L O W L Y. It took time to get where you are now, and it will take your family some time and consistency to change their view of you as a child.
Relax and enjoy your hard work of arriving at the holidays as an adult that can act like a kid if you want to. When you take steps to prepare your heart and soul, and those of your family, you are ready to step into the lion’s den, or the crazy house, or whatever chaos may await you under the Christmas tree. You’ve got this holiday thing in the bag. And now you can be singing joyfully along the way, “Silver Bells, Silver Bells. It’s Christmas time in the city.”
Adrenaline blocks Oxytocin (the love and bonding chemical we all naturally produce when fostered brings things like 20 sec hugs, petting our animals, playing with our kids, cheering together for our favorite football team, etc) so....”
Choose oxytocin today!
This has been your public service announcement to enhance your life—enjoy!
By Jami and Marla
Simply surviving often interferes with living our dreams. We often forget what we truly desire in life because we have given up on our dream(s). Our Feeling Wheel leads you to your best potential in your biggest investment in this life, your closest relationships. It is a simple exercise that allows you to pay closer attention to what you are feeling in any given moment.
In doing this tracking you can look across the Feeling Wheel and see either where you have been or where you want to go. By recognizing a feeling, and the contrasting feeling, your brain can find ways to get you there if you give it a little practice.
The trouble is that most of us are expressing ourselves poorly, or not at all, and holding in or stuffing the hurt and disappointment. This results in patterns that can become limiting or destructive. The path to shift from Abandoned to Joy goes through the interplay between Shame, Forgiveness and Love.
So to understand this, and use the Feeling Wheel best, it is important that you understand and practice forgiveness.
Let’s look at what forgiveness is and is not:
This allows a transition to the “Southside” of the Feeling Wheel 4.0. Most often, the first sensation our clients experience is one of Relief, and who couldn’t use more of that!
Forgiveness often means reminding yourself that you have chosen to forgive, and then to effectively shift from old patterns that were solidly created usually a long time before you choose forgiveness. Feelings are often rehearsed from the past and, once forgiven, can be rerouted to new feelings and experiences. Being more conscious of your patterns of expressing feelings, your choice to forgive will allow you to operate from a place of Peace, Power and Joy. This will help you not repeat a pattern that you no longer want or need.
Forgiveness drains the shame out of your life, and it is a constant process because there are constant messages in life to feel guilty, and often times guilt turns into shame without intentional work without your awareness that this is happening.
Interestingly Shame, Fear, Hurt, Anger, and even Jealousy can give you important information about yourself and can guide your behavior towards the things you value most. That is, if you are always learning how to feel and express your feelings appropriately and carefully.
The Feeling Wheel is the first step of living a bigger dream; it is the foundation of all true success. It changes your “self talk” so that no feeling is toxic, and you are able to build better boundaries from this new, more aware place.
Start by picking your most common “Northside” feelings and send us an e-mail, (admin@PassonProvokers.com) and we will send you a custom Contemplation to learn how to transition any feeling you may be experiencing at any time into a source of Peace, Power, and Joy.
Welcome to the Feeling Wheel: a tool that is building better communities one person at time.
by Jami Keller
In Part One of this blog series I talked about how your performance matters. How you show up shows what you value, and we all live out our values. I was very confused about my own value and, therefore, had difficulty because my main value had become “to avoid conflict and pain.” Maya Angelou said, “You do what you do based at what you value most at the time.” Our values are visible in how we live.
Today, in Part Two, I am going to explain how to navigate the wheel so that you can communicate clearly and teach others to do so by example.
Start with your feelings, and practice expressing them in the moment. It may take some time to clear the backlog…. And it’s okay to take your time.
Let’s make creating healthy community where we are a first priority, let’s value each other enough to show that in a safe community it is ok to feel, and express your feelings and only you are responsible to those feelings. The Feeling Wheel is a much-needed tool to build community, strengthening our ability to solve the personal and worldwide problems. It takes practice to use the Feeling Wheel 4.0, and it requires that you pay attention to your feelings.
By beginning with identifying your feelings, you can very quickly improve just about any situation. I know because I was passively suicidal for over 17 years, but if I had been conscious of my feelings and learned to express them appropriately this would not have been the case. I was confused because I did not learn that I was valuable without performing. What we need to communicate most of all is what we desire. We cannot expect our desires to be met when we are unable to articulate what they are. And it is no big surprise that what we want most as human beings is acceptance.
In order to be accepted and approved of as our authentic selves, we must be communicating clearly. This requires knowing what our feelings are at any given moment, and the story we tell ourselves everyday. This is where the Feeling Wheel helps us have a better understanding of what is happening now, and a common language to communicate those feelings with those we care about.
The Feeling Wheel has three sections: the hub, middle ring and outer ring. Let’s start with the hub:
The core of the wheel has three feelings: Shame, Forgiveness and Love. This is the core of all of our drama. All our behaviors are related to how we deal with these three feelings. Think of Shame as the giant lie that you are not worthy of love. This is why Marla and I put Shame across from Love. It is because Shame is the only toxic feeling on the wheel, and it is in fact based on a lie; the lie that any person believes that they are a bad person. And because of the nature of Shame, it sticks to other feelings like Fear, Anger, Jealousy and even Peace and Joy. All feelings free from shame are healthy feelings, as they are giving us important information like, “Run away from the danger”, or, “This is important to me”.
The problem I had was what we called “hereditary shame.” I felt guilty and shamed all the time. Because of this I remember thinking and saying out loud, “Fuck it.” This attitude did not require much thinking, and I was making terrible choices starting in seventh grade, thus the language. It took me a long time to even realize I was on such a devastating self-destructive path, and it didn’t need to. What is important now is that we start investing in stronger relationships so we can build better communities and it starts with our feelings.
As it turns out, after nearly twenty-two years of helping people learn to forgive inside the hurt of life, every single time, if done consistently, forgiveness brings people to Love. By loving themselves they build better relationships. It is not complicated. In fact, it is a choice and when done consistently is very effective. Accountability in a blame-free environment is also helpful.
Love often gets a bad wrap from romance novels and difficult boundaries around sexual stuff. Love has a tough job because we only have one word in the English language for really three huge constructs. Love has three components: Agape, Philos, and Eros. Agape is universal love of all life, the love of a Creator, or the force that holds the omniverse together. Philos is brotherly love, the love you have for a sibling or best friend. Eros gets all the attention, and often colors our view of love because of issues around erotic love.
Love, of course, is the only thing that brings meaning to life. These three feelings, Love, Forgiveness and Shame represent the core conflict of our hearts as we try to make sense out of life. It’s often brutal on our hearts, and this affects our ability to feel safe enough to really feel our feelings. Researchers have found that the heart has forty thousand brain cells that function separate from the brain and the vascular function of the heart. So our hearts have memory, and they need to be trained just like education trains our brains. This core of the Feeling Wheel is the source of conflict we often feel around emotion and expressing our feelings well.
Just outside the core are six feelings that are indeed modes. A mode is a pattern of behavior solidified to help us function and communicate. Think of it as an autopilot program that gets activated in certain situations, designed to protect your heart. Most often we don’t think much about doing these things, we just do them often without much conscious thought. These are often packages of behaviors that once served us well and helped us survive, but are now needing to be updated to serve us better.
On the top or Northside, there is Abandoned, Fear and Control. These three feelings are representations of the modes, and while all of the six need “maintenance” on a regular basis these are the three that serve as warnings about what needs updating. It turns out that most relationships have a Control/ Abandonment pattern in them. And the kicker is that we don’t have to be Controlled or Abandoned to get the cycle going. If we fear that we will be Controlled or Abandoned we are most likely to respond negatively with one of these modes because of fear.
Let’s explore what happens when you drop into the mode of Abandonment:
Abandonment is partially defined by it’s petals (as all the modes)--Guilt, Ashamed, Depressed, Lonely, Sad, and Tired. And its opposite is Joy. One description is that Abandoned is triggered when people turn their backs on you and leave you behind.
Feeling Abandoned can be physical or emotional, and is often both. No number of words can explain it better than you can feel it. It is nearly universal that we all have felt shut out or abandoned in some way.
Any feeling can become a mode. There are more modes than we can list, and so these are a simplified and partial representation. We use the nine feelings in the hub of the Feeling Wheel 4.0 to represent a general map and compass to help us communicate clearly with each other. Once a feeling like Abandonment has been experienced enough times we develop a pattern of expression, or often lack of expression, to limit the pain we experience.
All of our early strategies worked to keep us alive so far. And most often those same strategies are no longer needed. We have found that this is consistently the source of success or failure in life.
In the third and final part of this blog series will take a closer look at what forgiveness is and how to drain shame out of your life starting now. It is not complicated; it just takes being consistent and avoiding the idea that you already have. Most of us misunderstand the power of forgiveness because it is NOT a one-time thing, it is a daily focus forward, so we can change the old shaming thoughts into a beautiful life.
Marla and Jami
Cofounders of JamiAndMarla.LOVE (fka Passion Provokers and Keller Coaching) Jami and Marla are proud to bring a new level of success to coupleships worldwide with their unique coaching, mentoring, and consulting process. Their blogs are not only informative for coupleships they are personal. For over 25 years they have been helping people create emotionally and physically intimate coupleships.
Ariel is a freelance blogger, web designer, and SEO consultant. She is 23 years young, married to her soulmate, and a proud “mother” to boxer Bruce and Yorkie Dexter. She focuses on writing content that is raw and relatable. (Info relevant at the time of writing, circa 2013-2015)