Love, Relationships and Triggers

This is a re-blog of a post that I have found helpful to come back to. As we continue through difficult times, more and more stress and distress will impact us all: from our health and wellbeing, to our relationships and ability to focus and work. Over the next few weeks, I will share practical posts to help us navigate through these times and the highs and lows of life. May we all find our middle ground and live from the center of our being.

In the highs and lows of life there will always be more challenging days. This can happen when a colleague lets us down at work; when our partner disappoints us or when our mother criticizes what we are wearing….

Today, I dipped into John Welwood’s book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships.  He has such interesting and compassionate insights from a fusion of Buddhism and psychotherapy.

Photo by on

John Welwood talks about the wounding of our heart that takes place when we are very young. This is when we realize that our parent cannot love us unconditionally and cannot meet all our needs.
The time comes when we cry and noone comes, or when we want comfort and there’s noone there.
We suddenly become insecure and very fearful about not being fully loved. We feel wounded and vulnerable.

This leads to what he calls a mood of unlove, when we don’t feel fully loved and believe that there is something wrong with us.
When we don’t feel worthy, appreciated, accepted, respected, acknowledged, valued or good enough, the mood of unlove shows up. He calls this the wounding of our heart.

“The mood of unlove often shows up in the form of sudden emotional flare ups in reaction to any hint of being slighted or badly treated. It’s as if a reservoir of distrust and resentment were ready and waiting to be released, which the tiniest incident can trigger. Even caring and compassionate people often carry within them a fair share of unlove and righteous grievance, which can suddenly erupt under certain circumstances.”

To bring it into everyday life. When your boss asks you to re-write that presentation you have spent hours working on, or your spouse criticizes you for not doing it right … you may get triggered!

What John Welwood is saying, is that at these moments the wound of our own heart opens up along with the mood of unlove. We react and try to protect ourselves from this feeling of being unloved and that there is something wrong with us, so we lash out and blame or retreat and find ways to numb and soothe ourselves.

When we become defensive and lash out or withdraw or try to escape,  we may feel better, but the original hurt will be there until we acknowledge and embrace it. We will continue to be triggered until we fully accept and understand ourselves and let love blossom inside.

Could it be that simple … that all we long for is to feel fully loved?

Yes is the answer lies within each of us.

By taking the time to see this in the heart of these moments, we can learn to give ourselves empathy and love and begin to heal old wounds.


Quick Relationship Tip

Its fun to look back and find the right advice on my blog.  Enjoy this re-post!
doggie butt

Don’t put your “but” in the face of an angry person.

Angry people are in a triggered reactive state.

The ability to listen or think logically diminishes with the rise of  strong emotions.

The animal or limbic brain takes over control from the reasoning pre-frontal cortex.

Evidence also shows that when we grip our jaw, we are less able to listen through our ears.

Be careful of those buts.

Wait until the person has calmed down before trying to use reason.



Getting over Anger with Loving Kindness


blossoming love

When we feel rising frustration and anger towards an other person, it’s time to tend to our selves, rather than act it out against the other.

Acting out our negativity only adds to the violent energy in the world. Our ego-mind may be pumped, but it doesn’t bring about resolution or peace.


Instead, bring awareness to where you are right now. Place one hand to your belly, and the other above your heart. Take a few deep breaths. Allow the breath to become fuller and let it move down into the center of your being.

pauseFeel the warmth of your hands and the movement of the breath. Feel the connection to this tender and loving part of you.
Be present to what just occurred that was upsetting. Notice thoughts, emotions, sensations in the body, without judgment or creating a story.

Then say to yourself:

This person has a body and a mind, just like me

This person has feelings, emotions, and thoughts, just like me

This person has also felt sad, disappointed, angry and hurt, just like me

This person wishes to be free of pain and suffering, just like me 

This person wishes to be accepted and loved, just like me

This person wishes to be happy, just like me.

Then allow this loving kindness (metta) meditation to arise:

May this person be happy
May this person be healthy
May this person be free of suffering and the causes of suffering
May this person live their life with ease

This practice allows me to stay heart centered and lets the negative energy release.

Being kind feels so much better about the whole situation, the other person, and myself 💕


The Depths of our Relationships

masks in relationships

I read an interesting article some time ago by coach Michael Neill on how there are different levels in our relationships with others. I’m not talking about literal closeness, for example a brother is closer than a colleague at work, but more about our ability to truly connect in an authentic way with an other person.

Have you noticed that you can feel a deep connection almost immediately with a stranger? Or feel like a member of your family is hiding behind a mask and being superficial? … That’s what I am talking about.

“Surface Level – How we pretend to be 

On the surface, people present themselves to the world in whatever ways they would like to be seen. They may be clever or cynical, light and cheerful or intellectual and deep. This is our persona or the “mask” of our personality, often revealing our fears, judgments, and insecurities in the very attempt to hide them.

Whether we enjoy or dislike someone’s personality is fairly arbitrary – an accidental coming together of our own innocently acquired preferences and prejudices from a young age.

But like it or not, at some point the mask slips and we see through to…

One Level Deep – The selfish self

Underneath the masks of personality, we’re continually navigating the world through a swirl of thought. Because we feel that thinking is coming at us from the outside world, we tend to see our actions, as one of my clients once put it, as being ‘the only sane response to an insane world’.
This is how we justify our ambition and ruthlessness; our cruelty to ourselves and others. After all, if it wasn’t a dog eat dog world out there, who would ever want to eat a dog?

When we see through someone’s “nice person” or “tough guy” mask, we often see only as far as this level. And it’s difficult for most of us to feel warmly towards someone who is seemingly only out for their own self-aggrandizement or self-preservation.

Until, that is, we see through to…

Two Levels Deep – Doing the best we can as we’re all in this together

There is a quote often attributed to Philo of Alexandria that we should “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This is not only true in the physical world, where our bodies begin to decay long before our thoughts are ready to let go, but also in our innate psychology.

Every human being I know wants to love and be loved; to be happy more and suffer less; and to feel like in some way their life had meaning and value. How they go about achieving these aims is a product of their level of understanding and experience of the world.

It’s easy to love people “two levels deep”, because we see ourselves reflected in them. We all have a natural compassion for the suffering of others and an abiding conscience which ensures that while we may at times act in ways that are harmful to ourselves and others, we do it in spite of and not because of who we are at core.

Loving people at this level doesn’t mean we have to live with them or let them get away with murder, literally or figuratively. It just means that we don’t get so upset by their humanness or carried away by our own delusions that we can escape the human condition.

While seeing through to people’s innate humanity makes for richer and more wholesome relationships, there is a level beyond even that which takes us past the illusion of separation which allows us to play judge and jury to our fellow humans…


Three Levels Deep – Who we are before the fact of thought

Who are you before thought comes into the equation? Mystics throughout time have described our essential nature as being made of spirit – a name for the invisible life force that makes up the visible world of form.

It’s difficult to even talk about “loving someone” at this level because rather than two or seven or even seven billion separate people, there is simply the presence of Love with a capital “L” – and as we dissolve and surrender into that Love, we fulfill the age-old proverb that “we are that which we seek”.

We are one in shared consciousness and spirit.”

p.s. This makes me think about how that pesky neighbor, or annoying colleague and Donald Trump appear one level deep for many of us.

* Quick Relationship Tip

doggie butt

Don’t put your “but” in the face of an angry person.

Angry people are in a triggered reactive state.

The ability to listen or think logically diminishes with the rise of  strong emotions.

The animal or limbic brain takes over control from the reasoning pre-frontal cortex.

Evidence also shows that when we grip our jaw, we are less able to listen through our ears.

Be careful of those buts.

Wait until the person has calmed down before trying to use reason.



* W.A.I.T. ?

I love to work with people on becoming better communicators. The key, of course, is to learn to really listen – becoming engaged listeners and tuning into the other person, rather than letting our own thoughts take us away from the moment and distract us.

But before we even get to this step, there is one vital piece of wisdom to absorb.

When we are talking we are not listening.

Talking in meetings

So, the question to ask yourself is :  Why Am I Talking?…

Have you ever considered why you are talking? It is usually more that sharing valuable information that’s for sure!
Next time you notice you are talking, consider these questions:

  • Am I trying to release something that’s bottled up?
  • Am I trying to persuade someone to my point of view?
  • Is it a habit?
  • Am I trying to work through something out loud?
  • Do I have an unmet personal need that I am trying to get met? For example: a need for validation, attention, love, approval, recognition or to be right.
  • Do I find talking entertaining?
  • Am I uncomfortable with silence?
  • Do I believe that people really need all the information I am providing, that I am being helpful or teaching something?

To explore more, you may want to write W.A.I.T.? on a post-it note before your next meeting and notice what comes up for you.

When we become aware of our talking, we are in a better position to choose whether we want to continue or not. Enjoy tuning in to yourself this week.. and this video.

* Inspiration – bond of love

chains of love

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

~ Khalil Gibran

2 hearts in the sandThe beauty of love is when it is like a moving sea between the shores of our souls, and when we come together yet do not over shadow one another.

Space and touch ignite. Bonds can only stifle.


* Being There is Enough

being there

Sometimes all we can do is to be there for the other person …
Being present to their inner state, without judgment or temptation to fix.
Setting aside our own personal needs and urges to make things different or somehow “better”.
Attempting to evaluate the pieces and mould them into solutions that make sense.

In this place of being there, allow the strategic mind to quieten and open your heart.
Simply be with them in a shared sense of aching humanity.

In this vulnerable place, the life energy that flows through us all begins to expand and flow.
This knowing presence that acknowledges the sadness, loss and yearning.

Remember, within all of us is a deep longing for love and wholeness.
Trust that when you touch this tender place, the life energy will awaken and transform us all.
Let it flow.

All is well in its presence.


*Thanks to the work of Robert Gonzales and the NVC Living Compassion tribe ❤️



* Reminder – love one another

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to love one another.

love each other
Its so easy to forget. We get caught up in our own stuff – thoughts, fears, habits, distractions …

We drift.

We take each other for granted.

We forget to express our appreciation or say a word of thanks.

Its human to forget.

Yet taking anything for granted is a deadening thing.

There are many ways that we can bring our relationships to life once more, by expressing our love for one an other. Here are some of the simplest:

Send love through our eyes to see the best in each other.

Send love in our tone of voice.

Send love with a gentle touch.

Send love through our ears by listening.

Send love by the words we choose.

A word of love and understanding reconnects us all.


* Reflections on the Heart

When our hearts are guarded to protect ourselves from an other person or a situation that is challenging, we cannot connect with ourselves.

This is a simple realization that has taken me decades to see. 🙂

Whenever we are alert to what might happen, ready to judge and defend … we lose touch with our heart and soul.

We are no longer present to our selves and others.

We move into the coping and strategic game of survival.

In doing so we move into our head more and more and lose touch with our heart.

When we block against an other we block against our own self connection.



Being aware of this can only happen when we take the time to pause and find our middle ground. It is the place of mindfulness that we find connection with our inner being once more.

When we open our hearts to an other and see their humanity and flaws with loving eyes, we access our own life energy and essence.

When we open our heart to our own imperfections, we access our own life energy and essence.

If you are kind to others or yourself, the result is a wonderful outpouring of healing and love, which flows out from us and touches everything.

Imagine when we can do both …  being loving towards others and ourselves…..

Let your heart open and embrace the inner Presence and love that arises. This is what will transform us and change the world.