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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Your Vision for 2015

What is your vision?  If you’re already clear about your vision for the coming year, congratulate yourself for being exceptionally well organized, inspired and on top of your game. 

If your answer is “I don’t know” or you just haven’t had the time or the energy to craft your vision, here are some suggestions for gaining clarity.

1.       Determine the parts of your life to focus on. It’s easier and less overwhelming if you pick a few key areas.  Assess your level of satisfaction in the following: Career/Business, Financial, Relationships – intimate and social, Health & Wellness, Home environment, Personal Growth or Spirituality, Fun & Recreation.  Choose two to four areas that you’re least satisfied with. Focusing on these will bring the greatest rewards.

2.       State what you want. It’s really easy to say, I’m overwhelmed  (or bored) with my job, I don’t like my relationship, I’m broke, my social life sucks, I don’t like where I’m living.  You can start with that, but turn those thoughts into positive intention statements. For example instead you could say - In 2015…

a.       My work is stimulating and manageable.
b.      I am in a loving relationship
c.       My financial situation is improving
d.      My network of friends are supportive and positive
e.      I live in a home that I love.

3.       Be inspired.  If you’re experiencing a lack luster response to creating your vision, it may be that you are stressed or lacking energy.  One of the things I commit to each year is having some downtime between Christmas and New Year for rejuvenation and inspiration.  After a few days of rest and quiet my energy is restored and the future looks brighter.  What rejuvenates you?

4.       Engage your imagination. If you are too focused and analytical when you are creating your vision it’s difficult to see possibilities. If you are stuck on a linear, logical track take a break and engage your senses. Go for a walk, listen to music, get out into nature and breathe deeply.  When your mind is relaxed there is more room for imagination.

5.       De-stress When stressed we become very linear and focused and it’s much harder to access imagination and inspiration.  Did you know that shifting how you’re looking at things, literally, from narrow focus to taking in your peripheral vision calms the mind and reduces stress? Try it.

6.       Use divination tools Throw the i-ching, rune stones, lay out a tarot spread, or pull wisdom cards to guide your process.  This is a great way to shift from logical to creative thinking. For example, at a gathering with friends on the solstice we used the i-ching.  We each asked a question about something we’d like to focus on for the year and the reading gave us insights on how to approach it. 

7.       Share your vision Explore and share your vision with a trusted, supportive friend or partner.  Make it more real by talking about it, seeing yourself in it, feeling the experience of it. Perhaps, you could enlist this person as an accountability partner.

8.       Take Action if you want your vision to become reality your thoughts and statements need to become goals with action steps that you can and will take.   Now you can shift your focus back from expansive and imaginative to narrow and linear to make it happen.

9.       Have fun Choose goals and actions that you enjoy. Or find some way to make the hard stuff more enjoyable. Get help, share the load, and reward yourself for small accomplishments.

10.   Be grateful, always. Appreciating what you have keeps you in a much happier place and validates your ability to have and create more.

Still Need Help?  Hire a coach
Lynne Brisdon, PCC


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Coaching for Maverick Entrepreneurs Recognized

Lynne Brisdon, CPCC, PCC
Lynne Brisdon, PCC (R) celebrates at
 ICF Vancouver Awards Gala with
Joni Mar,  MCC (L)
and Cheryl Stafford, PCC (C)
May marked a decade of my work as a Business Coach in Self Employment programs and I got to celebrate by having my contribution recognized as a finalist for 2014 Business Coach of the Year at the ICF Vancouver Chapter Gala.  I deeply appreciated the honour and the opportunity to share my story. 
When I started working for a Self-Employment Program at BCIT back in 1998 I hadn’t even heard about coaching.  The government funded program supported people transitioning from unemployment to self-employment and I noticed many had challenges making the shift.  They needed more help than the training and business advice we provided.  Something was missing.

We could teach them what they didn’t know about running a business but they were independent and didn’t always like being told what to do. Sometimes our Business Advisers complained that clients just weren't listening. 
I saw an opportunity to contribute and discovered coaching while seeking out practical methods to guide people through transition.  I started training right away with CTI and enrolled a few of our participants as practice clients through my training and certification and saw positive results. Rather than advising, I listened to my clients and we made action plans together. In 2001, I earned my CPCC and qualified for an ICF credential.
At first, I kept my Program Coordinator job and started my coaching business Living In Vision Enterprises part-time.   Then in 2004 I landed a contract to work as a Business Adviser with a different SE program and asked if my role could be Business Coach instead.  Using coaching methods not only supported the knowledge transfer from training to individualized application, it also advanced the decision making and leadership skills required to succeed in business.
What’s more, coaching became a container for building resiliency on the emotional roller coaster ride through that first year in business. One of the 230 odd yearling business owners I’ve coached is Judith McLean of Hi-Q Training Systems. She shared her experience of my coaching for the Business Coach of the Year nomination.  At the Gala she talked about how my customized coaching style worked for mavericks like her. 

Maverick: an unorthodox or independent minded person
synonyms: individualistic, non-conformist, free spirit, original, eccentric
North American: an unbranded yearling
Coaching influenced her through the learning, and continued beyond the formal contract, “With Lynne’s continued whispering in my business ear I now tune into the needs of potential clients, figuring out how to improve bottom lines for all of us.”

A week before the awards event Judith had some tough business decisions to make.  “Despite all of Lynne's encouragement, wisdom and faith, I almost gave up this month.  Staying in business was getting too hard. There was way more money going out than coming in.  I began to doubt if anyone would contract my services.  Then a week ago, my PC froze, my lap top seized up and no emails came through my cell phone.  I had to cancel an event booked for seventy people as only one had signed up”. 
“Two things kept me afloat:   First, Lynne reminded me how much I had accomplished in one year. I had pretty slick promotional materials and two associations trusting me with educational planning.” 
“The second: I knew that Lynne was being recognized as my Business Coach at the Gala and it would be embarrassing to report that the business had folded.” 
So Judith stuck it out. Her technology got fixed and as synchronicity would have it, ten people signed up for her inaugural Respectful Workplace workshop plus she got her first serious fee paying order for mid-June.  

Lynne with PCRS SE Team: Leslie Martin,
Client, Judith McLean and; Linda Lu
Today, the efficacy of Business Coaching in Self Employment Programs is recognized by government funders. My reputation as a business coach has kept me working through government contract changes and program closures.  I truly appreciate how coach training and credentialing gave my career a boost and the enormous contribution I get to make in supporting new business owners.

My vision for the next decade is to continue supporting maverick entrepreneurs and emerging business leaders, in the Pacific Self Employment Program and through my company Living In Vision Enterprises

Monday, April 21, 2014

Why Wait... for a better life/career/relationship

Is there something you've been waiting for? Dreaming about? Working toward? Longing for, but for some reason it's just not happening. A better job or career perhaps? You want to make changes but it's.... well.... complicated.

With the pace of life these days, and all the distractions it's way too easy to get sidelined when it comes to making important changes.  

Without a focus on your vision and a clear commitment to taking action steps toward it, another month, year, decade...could slip by.  Maybe you've tried but your attempts haven't worked. 

Read on for tips and inspiration to get moving.

There are many resources available for making changes to achieve it.  If you have been making attempts you have likely come across these. Most involve:
·         Imagining your ideal future
·         Clarifying your vision
·         analysis of your current situation,
·         reflection on what you are prepared to change
·         defining goals
·         making commitments to action steps
·         being held accountable for actions

Still Struggling?
If you are struggling and can’t even get to the vision stage, maybe it’s because you can’t see how to extract yourself from the current situation.  Your vision may be clouded by conflicting needs and wants. When you don’t know how to find the way out you lose hope and your self-esteem may take a beating too.

One client called it a brain tangle that pulled her in different directions, but never forward. Another described it as a cluster of situations that kept her stuck.

Untangling the Mess
For example, when someone is dissatisfied with their career outlook but confused about what direction to take there may be other factors involved. Aside from identifying talents, skills and aspirations, there may be other challenges like a problematic work relationship, or talent that isn’t being recognized. Maybe things at home or personal relationships are complicating the decision making process.    

What’s your biggest challenge?   
Even if it the mass of things you’re dissatisfied with seems overwhelming, you can pull them apart and decide what’s most bothersome. Then you can start taking steps to improve that situation. Although, if the biggest challenge is just too daunting, start with a smaller one first.  Then, as you make progress on it you’ll start feeling better about yourself and the accomplishments you are making.

If you could do something about it would you?
Even if making a change has seemed impossible until now, ask yourself what you would be willing to change.  It might be choosing to stop trying to figure it out by yourself and get help. Maybe you would be willing to share your concerns with someone who could offer a different perspective on the situation. Perhaps you might be willing to examine your beliefs about what is holding you back.
Why wait to change?  
Avoidance might seem easier than challenging the status quo or rocking the boat, but really…life is way too short.  Here’s a link to a presentation from a wise spiritual teacher I know called 'Why wait until you are dying?'   

Have a listen. Then if you’d like to find out if working with a coach could help send me a note or call. 

If you don't have time to listen (it's almost 90 minutes) and you know you need to make some changes, soon, contact me.  I'd be happy to talk with you how we can find solutions together.  

Lynne Brisdon, PCC
BC  604 570-0764
WA 360-393-8996

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Traditional Marital Counselling or Therapy is Not Enough

...To Save Your Marriage

Married for 22 years, John and Terry have been struggling in their marriage for the last five.  Very focused on trying to make his business successful, John works long hours and is often not home in the evening.  As the kids grew up Terry felt like she wasn’t needed as much and John wasn’t there to give her support.  Terry began to look for more in her life. 

This is a typical story that plays out in many marriages before divorce occurs.  At the point of crisis, the decision to get divorced, many couples make a final attempt to save the marriage by entering into marital counseling or therapy. The success rates of these interventions are low and in fact might even make things worse, according to Sam Margulies PhD, author of Divorce for Grownups

“Each year, hundreds of thousands of couples go into counseling in an effort to save their troubled relationships, but does it really work” asks another article posted by The Hypnosis Motivation Institute. It references research indicating that 25 percent of couples are worse off two years after they stop therapy, and 38 percent divorce after four years.    

5 Reasons Counseling or Therapy is ineffective
1.   Couples enter into counseling about 6 years after they start having problems, which is too late.  Often by the time they enter into counseling or therapy one of the partners is already on the way out and is no longer committed to making the relationship work. 

      When domestic violence is involved and the offending partner does not take responsibility for their actions there is very little the other partner can do other than look after themselves. Counseling may be sought to find the strength to leave.

   The intervention often involves gaining new insights about the marriage and the other partner as well as learning new skills to work through difficult situations. Couples usually quit practicing the new skills learned and go back to treating each other the way they were before counseling. Often underlying emotional insecurities in both partners are not being resolved. Neither are sexual and intimacy issues resolved. 

5 Types of Intervention
  1. Behavioral Marital Therapy teaches spouses to be kinder to each other.
  2. Insight-oriented Marital Therapy works on defense mechanisms and power struggles in a relationship.
  3. Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy focuses on learning to accept and accommodate the needs of your spouse.
  4. Emotionally Focused Therapy emphasizes emotions and their impact on the marital relationship.
  5. Differentiation uses sexual and intimacy counseling to unveil a couple’s emotional insecurities that affect their relationship, intimacy and other areas of their lives.
According to the Hypnosis Motivation Institute research Emotionally Focused Therapy has the highest satisfaction success rate - 70 to 73 percent, with couples 2 years after their intervention.“Until emotionally focused therapy came along, therapists were so intent on getting couples to make contracts to change their behavior that they did not delve into the emotional underpinnings of a relationship.”
It is no surprise that Emotionally Focused Therapy and Differentiation are more successful methods of marriage counseling.  Both methods focus on emotions, which when triggered are more powerful than thinking. The first three methodologies are based on changing our thinking. 
Could a new technique make counseling and therapy even more effective?  Yes
Imagine having a technique you could use to let go of the underlying emotional energy which causes the majority of your marital problems.  Imagine being able to let go of this energy by working with it while conflict it is occurring! 
It does not require a lot of talking, if any. You don’t have to understand where the energy comes from or your underlying family conditioning. All you have to do is learn how to feel it in a particular way that brings it to resolution, and it takes less than 4 hours. 
All the other methodologies have value and their value can be substantially increased when we are able to let go of our emotional insecurities and pain permanently.  Emotional Hot Button Removal Techniques can do this for you.
4 Recommendations for Effective Counseling or Therapy   
  1. Get support early on when you are having problems in your relationship, before your emotional connection dies.
  2. Decide if you are really committed to having a great marriage with your partner. If you are not committed counseling won’t save your marriage. Choose divorce counseling instead, and be clear on your motives.  
  3. Learn the Emotional Hot Button Removal Techniques: they support and increase the effectiveness of other counseling methods..
  4. Find out what methodology your counselor or therapist uses in their sessions. Emotion- based counseling has the best success rate for marriages.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Easily Remove Your Emotional Baggage... Forever

It is hard to get rid of our ‘stuff’

you know, our emotional baggage… right?  
At least this is what we've been led to believe. 

Likely you know someone who has gone to counseling or therapy and doesn’t seem to get dramatically better?  Just the other day, my colleague Jacque heard from a lady who has been seeing a therapist for years and still struggles with self-esteem issues.  She still hasn't found a path out of her emotional jungle.    

All that is about to change with the Emotional Hot Button Removal techniques. They  are simple to learn, easy to apply and quickly unpack your emotional baggage so you can throw it away. Forever.

Sound interesting?  I am going to tell you HOW.  Most wouldn’t. You would have to sign up for a workshop, but this is so important we’re  telling you how right here in this article. 

Knowing how isn't enough if you can’t answer YES to these three questions. 
1.            1.       Do you want a different life?
2.       Are you willing to let go of the trauma that has affected you?
3.       Are you willing to invest some time in taking action?

You see if you didn’t answer YES to all three questions then you will do what most people do. Nothing!  This article will just be another piece of good information that goes unused. First let’s deal with why therapy, counseling and coaching aren’t enough.

Therapy, Counselling and Coaching Aren’t Enough

They all deal with changing our thinking, or understanding what happened to us in the past.  The underlying premise is that the mind is the dominant player and it controls our behaviors. This is true unless we are emotionally provoked.Then, like it or not, our emotions are in control! And controlling our emotions is almost impossible when we have a lot of charged energy stored in our emotional baggage around a particular issue.

Ever been really angry and tried to control yourself?  It’s hard to do. Do you manage yourself better at work than with your family or loved ones?

Rather than trying to control the emotional energy every time it arises, what about getting rid of the baggage.  Yes it is possible and it is actually quite easy with the Emotional Hot Button Removal techniques.

Using these techniques you will discover the lost art of feeling, which will lead you out of your Emotional Jungle.  

Emotional Hot Button Removal Techniques Revealed

When an outside event pushes our emotional hot buttons, we have a reaction which is fuelled by the emotional energy held in our bodies. The emotional reaction has a physical sensation to it, a feeling, which can often be located inside our bodies, but sometimes it feels like we’re surrounded by it . Generally we don’t like to be overwhelmed, so we make a feeling-level decision not to feel the pain. This happens so automatically we’re hardly aware we’ve made the choice. However, we can bring emotional pain to completion if instead, we attend to the feelings in our body and feel into the physical sensation. Physical and emotional pain is released as we welcome each new situation. We heal ourselves one feeling at a time using this simple approach.

Tom Stone, in The Power of How, describes two techniques for bringing emotional energy to completion.
·         The first technique is the CORE Technique, which resolves intense emotional experiences from the past: our emotional baggage.
      The second technique is the SEE Technique, which dissolves emotional identifications and attachments, the new vigorous vines that are growing in our emotional jungle.

The CORE Technique involves, feeling into the most intense part of the physical sensation in our body.  We then need to do this technique repeatedly whenever we are provoked. When we use the CORE Technique repeatedly, we free ourselves from emotional baggage permanently.

It is this secret of how to feel into the emotional energy that most practitioners have overlooked or just haven’t learned how to do, until now.  

Why is that?  The fact is, having a simple specific highly effective technique for feeling hasn’t been common knowledge.  We intend to make it common knowledge.
When we practice feeling and combine it with changing our thinking then we can truly soar in our lives and create miracles.

Here is what happened for a few people who practiced.

“Two years ago I had destructive moods swings and emotional reactions that made a mess of my life. After years of trying I just could not stop them. once I learned to dissolve them, I connected more deeply and made much better decisions. My life is transformed; I am confident, optimistic, focused and much happier.”
Albert McDougall, working through childhood trauma

 If it weren’t for Jacque’s [Divine Divorce] program, I might still be mired in the angst and pain of separation.  I’ve learned to positively deal with old issues, stand in my own space and know what is acceptable in my life.
Brad Cooper, working through separation

For 5 years I suffered through depression and loneliness after the end of my marriage.  My body was filled with a terrible pain which constantly caused me to think about my ex-wife.  In just 4 short weeks using these techniques my body became pain free, I no longer think about my ex-wife and I am finally feeling like myself again after all those years of suffering.  I continue to practice the techniques whenever I feel pain in my body.
Gerard Emanuel, recovering from divorce

 “Everyone dealing with divorce should learn these techniques.”
April Love, in the midst of divorce,

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lost in Your Emotional Jungle?

Emotional Conditioning Is Like A Dark Jungle
We all have emotional conditioning from childhood that creates a jungle of emotional reactions we must navigate every day. Some seem to be full of twisted vines with inch-long thorns! What is your jungle like?  Beautiful flowering vines?  Or have you tied your vines into nice, orderly bunches so they’re not as noticeable.

Do people seem to get snarled in your vines and trip over them?  Do you notice others and maybe even yourself walking away bleeding from the thorns?  Maybe it’s your spouse, your kids or the people at work.

You may be afraid of what might be hiding behind the thorny vines on your path, or you may have become so used to them that you don’t feel it necessary to clear them out of the way.
Let me assure you, they are affecting your life!

Our jungles can bring us a false sense of security. We may have become comfortable living in the shade and darkness they provide. We have become like nocturnal animals.

The Vines Create An Endless List Of Problems?
Each vine has a unique growth habit, some of them starting high and away where we hardly see them until they grow downward and end up firmly rooted, obstructing the path forward. Other vines grow upward from deep within, wrapping themselves around us, slowly consuming our life force like a host tree.  

21 Problems Created By Jungle Vines:
1.     Contribute to depression. 
2.     Replay the anger of past events in the form of bitterness or disappointment. 
3.     Abundant fertilizer for worry and anxiety.
4.     Ignore our “gut feeling,” our internal compass is broken.
5.     Doubt blocks us from doing what we know we need to do.
6.     Feel separate from others causing loneliness.
7.     Lots of conflict in our relationships.
8.     Feelings of neediness.
9.     Don’t feel worthy, need recognition to feel valued.
10.   Frustrated or angry when people don’t meet our expectations.
11.   Keep quiet, don’t express our thoughts.
12.   Tolerate toxic behavior, among other issues.
13.   Constantly give to others to make them happy; we want love.
14.   Fear of the unknown, don’t make changes.
15.   Control situations to feel safe.
16.   Cling on to unfulfilling relationships.
17.   Make others wrong and get angry in order to move forward.
18.   Poor listeners.
19.   Need to have things our own way.
20.   Overreact to situations.
21.   We’re difficult to deal with.

Anything you can add to this list?
The bottom line is these behaviors damage relationships, makes life difficult and we don’t feel as happy as we could. 

My colleague, Jacque shares, "The vines in my jungle were prolific and thorny! I appeared to be a very tough and independent woman.  I protected the vulnerable part of myself that didn’t feel good enough and lacked confidence. As the vines in my jungle grew denser, the darker it was on the jungle floor and the more difficult my life felt."

Where Did The Jungle Come From?
Understand the fact that your jungle is not your fault, or anybody’s for that matter. 
It helps to understand where the vines got started in the first place.

Emotional conditioning begins even before we are born and rapidly develops during the first four years of childhood when the neural connections in the brain are developing most actively. What emotionally impacts us during this stage of our early development creates the foundation for our adult behavioral patterns, including feelings, thoughts and actions.

As newborns, we are suddenly exposed to a foreign and cold world with new sights, sounds, and sensations. Any number of events can frighten us as children causing us to be overwhelmed. 

When we experience emotional trauma, two things occurr: a mental process and a physical process. An interactive dynamic occurs between the body and the brain, with memories being stored in the brain and energy being stored in the cells of the body. Painful trauma is recorded and gets stuck in the mind and body at whatever age the trauma occurred.  It doesn’t grow up!  Additional life traumas cause more pain, accelerating the growth of our emotional jungle.  

5 Reasons the Emotional Jungle Is So Hard To Get Rid Of?
1.       We believe time heals all and hence do nothing.
2.       Traditional methods typically only target the emotions recorded by our brain.
3.       We don’t know how to root out the emotions stored in our body’s cells.
4.       We are embarrassed to talk about emotions and feelings.
5.       We fear that people will think we are weak.

We are taught how to read, write, and do arithmetic in school, but we are not taught about emotions and feelings. Most people are very uncomfortable talking about emotions. Yet emotions and feelings are just another source of information, like thinking. Our objective is not to eliminate our feelings, but to stay centered and respond appropriately to a given situation. To reach this point takes practice.

Counseling and coaching are not enough.  They use a machete to cut back the vines.  The roots remain to re-grow another day.  Yes you will feel much better. But, when future life challenges provoke you, it is like throwing fertilizer and water on the vines.  Once again your vines become prolific shutting out the light. 

You have a choice. You’re an adult now; you can keep the jungle or cut down the vines and eradicate the roots.  It’s all up to you.

The Emotional Hot Button Removal techniques are used to dig out the roots. (A future white paper.) 

What Is Possible When You Clear Your Jungle?
When we dissociate from our body to avoid sensing undesirable feelings, we can’t fully sense feelings from desirable emotions either. As a result we miss out on the full impact of love and joy, and on experiencing the more elusive feelings of tenderness, ecstasy, and pleasure.

Our objective is to respond appropriately to a given situation eliminating our sense of struggle and life being difficult. Life can be magical and you can define what that is for you.  Here are some of the benefits experienced

9 Benefits of Removing the Vines  
1.      No longer living in fear. 
2.       Mostly being grounded and centered, and responding appropriately.
3.       Using  intuition as a compass to guide life choices towards what will bring  the greatest sense of joy.
4.       Virtually no stress. Hopefully this helps to avoid disease and illness to live a long life.  
5.       Clients have healed long-term difficult family relationships.
6.       Clients have gotten back together with a spouse after separating and want to start over to do the relationship differently. We don’t have to change our spouse, we can just change us.
7.       Couples have been able to use conflict to root out their vines and have a better relationship.
8.       Managers have removed doubt and the fear of failure to feel strong, capable and confident allowing them to work with clarity and focus. They get more done in less time and work feels easier.
9.       More joy, happiness, and love in our life.

One of our workshop participants, Albert, who is sixty years old, called early one morning to say he had just resolved some big energy of dread in his abdomen that he had woken up with every morning for almost as long as he can remember. With absolute glee in his voice, Albert said, “I can tell, I am finally getting my life back.”

Isn’t that what we really want, to live our lives fully and have more good feelings?

What do you want more of in your life?

What would be possible for you if you removed the roots of your vines?

Click Here to read the full white paper onemotional conditioning.

Article contributed by Jacque Small of

Friday, May 4, 2012

What is an Ideal Relationship?

We spend a lot of time talking about intimate relationships, but how do you know if you have one?  You may be complaining to your girlfriends about how your man is controlling, or won’t have conversations with you, or spends too much time golfing.  Your man on the other hand may be suffering in silence wondering why you complain so much, or why he doesn’t have the ideal sex life.

Or maybe you think you have a really great relationship; you talk about any major decisions you need to make, such as buying a car, problems at work, and issues with your kids.  Sure there are some things that you wished would be different, but for the most part you respect your partner and just choose to let go of things that don’t seem to work.

So even though you have a good relationship, how would you know if you are actually making the most of it?  We defer to Robert Masters who has worked as a psychotherapist and teacher since 1977.  In his book "Transformation Through Intimacy", he outlines four stages of relationships, which we have summarized here and covered more fully in blog posts. 

We can use a variety of signs and behaviors to recognize the stage in which we are operating. As our relationships grow, we continue to include the earlier stages, although how we relate to these stages becomes more mature. As we move through each stage there is an increasing depth to our relationships. 

The Four Stages of Relationships

Stage One: Me Centered Relationships 

Stage one is a me-centered relationship run by the ego. The ego of one partner usually dominates that of the other partner. In this stage each person is focused on “What is in it for me?” There is usually an uneasy coalition of some sort, with very little intimacy.

Stage Two: We Centered Co-dependent Relationships

Stage two, the second more advanced relationship stage is the we-centered co-dependent relationship where equality is highly valued and differences may get flattened out. The couple acts as one and cultivates a guarded separation from whatever exists outside. Partners negotiate over what would best serve the relationship. The betrayal that occurs is that the potential of each individual is devalued in favor of the safety and comfort provided by the relationship.

Stage Three: We Centered Co-independent Relationships 

In stage three, a we-centered co-independent relationship, both partners make it a priority to maintain their individuality while still working together in partnership. They negotiate over differences and take more personal risks. Autonomy, although much more adult than in me-centered relationships, is often given too much weight. More maturity and a deeper sense of connection are present than in Stage One.  However, conflict is avoided to preserve the illusion of a safe, skirmish-free relationship.

Stage Four: Being Centered Relationships

The being-centered relationship of stage four contains all the qualities of the previous three stages. The difference is that the couple does not act out the qualities of the other stages; they relate to those qualities instead. The relationship is rooted in shared love, power, depth, and presence. This stage is characterized by ever-deepening passion where the couple can explore places and patterns in themselves that they would otherwise avoid. The relationship becomes a place where both people can work through their childhood conditioning in a loving and supported way.

In the first two stages of relationship, couples often stay together more for security and comfort than for real intimacy. Masters points out that there is often “a mutual pact not to rock the boat, while trying to find some pleasure midst its stagnant or tepid waters.” He continues to say that, “sloppy dialogues, emotional illiteracy, go-nowhere arguments, little cruelties, everyday stupidities, mismatched desires, mechanical rituals, half-heartedness, putting off what needs to be done—these are some of the things that clutter me-centered and we-centered relationships.”

The Ideal Relationship

Masters proposes that in stage four, “our relationship with our beloved is a sacred container which we are deeply committed to taking good care of and protecting.” The relationship is a place where we are supported to learn, grow and evolve in this world to be the person that each of us would ideally like to be.  Together we can find greater freedom, joy, and happiness when we are able to enter into a fourth-stage relationship and support each to have the kind of life that each of us most desires.

Self-Reflection Questions

  • What stage is your relationship operating at?
  • What stage are you operating at in your relationship?
  • What could you do differently to operate at a higher stage?