Partnership vs Powership: What is your relational worldview?

Modern psychology has taught us how to identify a controlling relationship.  We understand how vital it is to identify controlling relationships because those are the kind of relationships we should avoid at all costs.  Right?  But why do we always end up in them?

Controlling relationships are the ones that belittle the other person and cause anxiety or self-doubt.  The relationship is marked with interactions that are draining and fuel a sense of bewilderment.  These relationships begin to feel restrictive, almost suffocating.  They become one-sided.  These powerships have only winners or losers.  Isolation seems to be the only gift these powerships have to offer.

We all seem to have the best intentions when we start a new relationship, yet how do we more often than not end up in powerships rather than partnerships?  We all want the same universal things; support, love, acceptance, validation, etc.  Yet, when true connection is the objective why do we seem so swept away in all the unhealthy ways of relating to one another?

What is a healthy partnership? How do we achieve a partnership, relationship nirvana, rather than being victims of yet another powership?

Vulnerability Creates Partnerships

Brene Brown, a leading researcher on shame, explains connection is the defining force as to why we are here.  She has identified vulnerability in her TedTalk as the only vehicle for connection.  Being transparent and emotionally exposed, vulnerable, is how we can be seen by others. Vulnerability is how we can truly be connected with each other.  Why is vulnerability so difficult, if we all want and need connection so much?

Vulnerability is authenticity of self.  If ever along the way you have learned that your vulnerable, authentic self doesn’t cut it, you have been shamed.  In shame, we are forced to confront and wrestle with the demon of fearing we are not worthy of connection.  Shame is soul eroding because we associate our sense of worth and self-identity according to the shaming messages we have received in our formative years.

Brown distinguishes the difference between shame and guilt.  Shame results in an ‘I am’ statement rather than a guilt statement that is ‘I did.’

Here is an example:

Shame thought:  I am a mistake.

Guilt thought: I made a mistake.

The shame thought negatively defines your self-worth and separates you from others.  On the other hand, the guilt thought is one we can easily apologize for and remain connected to each other.  Once in the shame thought cycle, we are not fit for human consumption Brown humorously highlights.

Three Reactions Connection Can’t Survive

When we are shamed, Brown explains that we react in one of three ways:

1) We disconnect from the other person thus perpetuating the fear of disconnection in the other person which ultimately shames them and continues the shame cycle.

2) We act out in people pleasing behaviors in an attempt to prove to ourselves and our shaming partner that we are worthy of connection and to minimize the fear of not being worthy to connect.

3) We retaliate in shame-based insults and continue in disconnection.

How often have we misnamed the cycle of control in a relationship when in reality it is a cycle of shame.  We hold each other captive to the fear of being disconnected through shame not control.  Instead of powerships, we are in shameships.

Behavior not Self-Worth

First, we need to understand that when we communicate, we are not commenting on anyone’s self-worth or whether or not they are worthy of love and belonging.  What we need to identify is that the person’s behavior was hurtful, not the person.  In making this shift, we can remain connected to our partner, lover, friend, yet address hurtful behavior.

When your partner lies to you, what is your reaction?  Do you call them a liar and shame them which pushes them farther away from you or do you say, when you did not tell me the truth, that behavior kept us from staying connected?  Now the focus is on changing the behavior and not an assault on their worthiness.

By discussing behaviors only, we continue to validate our partner’s worthiness to be connected.  They can safely remain vulnerable with us as we work through their destructive or negative behaviors to the relationship.  Brown also found in her research that empathy is the antidote to shame.  When we express empathy to our partners, by simply saying, “Me too,” Brown says we continue to reaffirm their worthiness for connection and belonging.

How to Stop Shaming and Begin Connecting

Here are three guiding beliefs that if fully embraced and practiced can set us free from the crippling fear of being disconnected and help us grow in life-giving connections with each other:

  1. Tell your partner or friend, “You are imperfect, but you are worthy of love and connection.”
  2. Tell yourself, “I believe that I am worthy of love and belonging.”
  3. Tell everyone, “Love with your whole heart even though there is no guarantee.”

Enjoy your new partnerships with yourself and each other! #igniteyoursoul


How a Lost Soul Gets Found

A dear friend made a dramatic statement about another close friend of mine.  He said, “They are a lost soul.”  It has haunted me ever since.  What are the signs and symptoms of a lost soul?  How can an onlooker view someone’s life and conclude, “Yep, there is a lost soul.”

How does my precious friend get found?  Is my friend lost or taking brave steps to improve their life?  Let’s take the Lost Soul Quiz and find out.  Confirmed; they are a lost soul.  For them life is a maze riddled with confusion and depression.

So what exactly are we dealing with?

Urban Dictionary defines a lost soul as:

“Somebody who has no direction in his/her life.  A lost soul can have many acquaintances but never any real close friends. Often a lost soul will long for someone to understand him/her, and because it is hard to understand the mind of a lost soul, often one will think he/her is mentally unstable, especially in today’s culture and society.”

Urban dictionary closed its definition with the glaring statement, “Your lost soul will not take you anywhere in life.”

Yikes.  This could be a quite disheartening endeavor for my friend.  How does a lost soul become lost?  Do we all start out lost and some of us get found earlier than others?

Andrea Schulman at clarifies a lost soul blocks the unconditional love of the higher self which they are so desperately starving for.  Schulman identifies three symptoms of a lost soul.

  • Defensiveness: a lost soul is ego driven, therefore, whether your advice be right or not they always know best and are always right.
  • Closed-mindedness: Due to being closed off to the all-loving and all-accepting higher self, their love will only be given out to certain people who are behaving in a way their ego approves of.
  • Repeating the same mistakes, over and over again: Because a lost soul has severed its ties with the love of the universe, they do not understand how to make choices based on self-love.  Ultimately, a lost soul has forgotten how to care for him or herself.  A lost soul will make repeated mistakes causing them a lifetime of personal grief.  Poor choices are a mere distraction from the pain of the emptiness they feel from being spiritually disconnected.

Schulman recommends loving the lost soul and hoping that might provide enough light to help the lost soul become found. That sounds nice, but ultimately it seems a lost soul would need to learn how to reconnect with their higher self.

Lissa Rankin, MD provides the 20 Diagnostic Signs that a person is suffering from soul loss.  Rankin describes ‘soul loss’ as the subtle disconnection from our meaning, direction, vitality, mission, purpose, identity, and genuine connection.  The result of ‘soul loss’ is a numbness and lack of meaning in our lives.  Rankin explains connecting to your soul to find peace and happiness right now is much simpler than we might think.

New York Times bestselling author, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, partnered with Rankin to create ‘Medicine for the Soul: Reclaiming and Trusting Your True Self’.  The secret to soul health is the prescription to realize and believe that you are already enough.  When we succumb to workaholism, people-pleasing behaviors, materialism, anxiety, addictions, etc., we have severed the connection with our soul.  Because we are disconnected from our soul, we try to be perfect to matter.  This places us on a soul deadening cycle.  To rediscover and reconnect with your soul, one must subscribe to the belief that you are enough and that wholeness already exists within you.  This is a counter-cultural mindset.  What we need is not in the exterior, but in our interior?

Remen and Rankin claim that once you accept you are enough; you can rest in the following truths:

  • You are one of a kind
  • You are loved
  • You belong just as you are
  • Your life matters
  • Your love matters
  • Your service matters
  • You do not have to be anyone else in order to have a rightful place in this world.

Remen shares she had worked for the wrong employer all along, she had not worked for her soul.  How many of us are working for the wrong employer?  How many of us work for the employer of acceptance, praise, approval, self-worth, attention, significance, etc?

The soul, our vibrant pilot light of meaning and purpose, is awaiting to reconnect with us.  Will you accept the challenge of being true to the reality that you are enough?  Will you drop the routine of seeking comfort and pledge to accept your soul, your higher self?  When will you start to believe that you are enough and that nothing outside of you is needed?  Your sense of worth and belonging is awaiting your acknowledgement…on the inside.  Embrace it and #igniteyoursoul this New Year!