How to Listen Effectively

Understanding Others Through Healthy Communication


People tend to respond to what others say
with their own thoughts. This is a natural part of the ebb and flow of conversation. However, it often means they aren’t listening.

Even though we all “know” how to listen we often do a poor job of it. True listening takes effort and practice. How will you know you aren’t listening?

  1. The other person keeps repeating herself.
  2. You keep repeating yourself.
  3. You’re angry.
  4. You’re thinking what to say next.
  5. You’re arguing.
  6. You’re convinced the other person is a moron.
  7. You’re being defensive.
  8. The other person says you aren’t listening!

To be a good listener take the following steps:

  1. Be curious and ask questions.
  2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  3. Look for ways to acknowledge how he’s right.
  4. Don’t become defensive.
  5. When you disagree, state your point directly without criticism.
  6. Avoid “facts” which are irrelevant to the discussion.
  7. Remain calm, remember the other person is merely expressing ideas.
  8. Make it a priority for her to feel understood.

This Friday evening class begins at 6:30 p.m. and goes until 11:30 p.m. The life coaching class is led by David Cantu and Carrie Manongdo. In addition to the participants, assistants who have previously taken the course also attend. A typical class includes ten people. Participants should be at least 16 years old; singles, couples and families are welcome. The fee for the class is “pay as you choose.” Please call (512) 653-4316 or email [email protected] to register.

buttons_side_calendar

What Does Chemistry in a Relationship Mean

Chemistry in a relationship is like a performance; one is electrifying and another is boring. But no matter what, for love’s sake, you have to keep working at it to make it better.

Chances are you’re reading this because you’re in a relationship lacking in chemistry and wondering whether to stay or go. Maybe the chemistry was once there, but you no longer feel “in love.” Or it was never there and you suspect you made a big mistake. Consider this: Maybe the real issue isn’t so much the lack of chemistry but some other problem you haven’t identified.

How do you define chemistry? I think of it as a strong attraction that includes love, lust, infatuation, and a desire to be involved intimately with someone. Chemistry is emotional desire for relationship. It is outside of the realm of reason. With it, you may be attracted to someone who you know, intellectually, is not good for you. Without it, you may be with someone you respect but are not attracted to. At best, you can have both chemistry and love; at worst, you may have chemistry and misery or no chemistry and misery. Regardless your definition, chemistry is unconscious; we don’t “choose” who we’re attracted to. Even so, we aren’t helpless. We can do much to understand and manage it. Following are guidelines that can help you navigate the minefields of attraction.

1. Do you have to have chemistry for a successful relationship? No, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you will learn to love someone. Yes, it’s possible; but if you aren’t attracted to her, you may come to resent your decision. Be honest with yourself; do not choose a relationship primarily because “she’s a good person.” This is a formula for disaster. On the other hand, if the attraction isn’t there, it can grow. Many times people grow to love one another as they get to know each other better.

2. Because it’s unconscious, searching for chemistry in a relationship is a hit-and-miss proposition. You can find it, but you’ll have to be patient. How will you know you’ve found it? You won’t be arguing with yourself whether or not you love him. If it’s a debate, then either the chemistry is missing or he’s a poor partner for you.

3. Once found, you’ll have to be patient again – or you may make a mistake you’ll deeply regret. Chemistry isn’t the end-all, be-all solution it may appear to be. Because it’s unconscious, feeling deeply attracted to someone can be a result of childhood issues you’re unaware of or haven’t resolved. A big red flag is when you see a problem in your partner and you tell yourself things like, “This isn’t such a big deal; I can handle this,” or “I know he has a problem, but he’s working on it,” or “He really loves me; I’m sure we’ll work it out.” Ignore these problems now and you’ll have much bigger ones to contend with later.

4. If you’ve made it past these hurdles, you have one more challenge: The test of time. I’ve been coaching and counseling couples since 2000. One of the comments I hear most often is, “We’ve been married for years, but haven’t felt ‘in love’ since the early part of our marriage.” The “high” of new love rarely lasts more than a couple years. Once over, you’ll need to replace it with something more substantial: caring, respect, forgiveness, and an ability to communicate. These things can be learned, but you’ll have to work hard at them. Some may be difficult skills for you to master. You can definitely do it; roll up your sleeves and get to work!

5. Can you recreate lost love? Yes! In order to do so you must have one essential ingredient – willingness on the part of both people involved. My experience with couples is once a person has “given up,” has decided in his heart he no longer wants the relationship, the chances of rekindling love are minimal. You don’t have to have a lot of willingness; faith the size of a “mustard seed” can be enough. Counseling to help resolve underlying problems and to motivate you can be helpful. Keep the faith!

David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Chemistry in a Relationship – Is it Love? How Do You Define it?- Article © 2009

Emotional Intelligence – Learn to Monitor Your Emotions

<FireworksEmotion is thought materialized in our physical being. Emotion is both the joy and the bane of our humanity. Life without it would be bleak and colorless, yet it defies and distorts our comprehension. This reminds me of the old saying, “Can’t live with them, and can’t live without them.” Knowing emotion is a fact of life doesn’t solve, for most of us, the problem of dealing with it effectively. Emotional intelligence may be the solution; following is a blend of practical ideas and strategies you can use to manage emotion. Many people live at the two extremes of emotional sensitivity and ignorance. At one end of the spectrum is a tendency to indulge emotions, drama; at the other end is an inclination to deny them, coldness. Both create problems; but feelings are inherently neither good nor bad, they’re a part of life. IcebergThe “feeling” of love can lead us astray as easily as anger and they both are crucial to our humanity. It’s essential that we acknowledge and embrace all emotion. Emotional intelligence is the awareness of one’s feelings and the ability to manage them and understand their significance. To develop emotional intelligence, you should learn to identify how you feel and why. Interestingly, knowing how you feel can take practice. Begin by focusing your self-awareness at a physical level. Learn to take inventory of physical sensations throughout your body, from head to toe. Slowly take stock of temperature, pulsing feelings, tingling, pain, tickling, itching; in short, notice all feelings on and in your head, face, neck, torso, arms, hands, legs and feet, gradually observe your entire body inch by inch. Woman MeditatingOne “sweep” of your body can take from one to thirty minutes. Be patient. This simple exercise can serve as a doorway to recognition of emotion. If you’re emotionally sensitive, this same practice can help you realize the fact that emotion is simply a manifestation of physical change. This change is created by the mind and we “feel it,” at a physical level; but that’s all it is – physical change. The pain or pleasure we experience is the interpretation of the mind. Its dislikes result in emotional pain and its likes produce pleasurable sensations. Don’t indulge or avoid feelings; instead learn to notice and accept them. Indulging or denying emotions gives them power over your life and makes it difficult for you to be your own master. The supreme benefit of emotion is that it’s a gauge of our world view; it’s a manifestation of our mind in our physical being. It sometimes deceives us of the truth in life, yet it indicates the essence of our beliefs. Knowing how you feel gives you knowledge of your true convictions. Change your thinking and in time you will change your emotions and your life. Learn to be the manager of your emotions rather than their slave, tossed here and there by their turmoil. Managing emotion doesn’t mean controlling it. What’s the difference? We can’t control our emotions any more than we can control our nervous system, our need for food and air, or our brain and heart functions. Woman Jumping On The BeachEmotion is nature – generally beyond our direct control. We can, however, learn to live with emotion and respond to it effectively. To learn this, you must know you are the creator of your emotional state. Usually, you don’t make feelings happen any more consciously than you digest your food. Your unconscious mind, as a result of your life experiences and your interpretation of those events, creates your emotions. You are, nevertheless, responsible for how you feel; no-one else is – not your family, not your boss, nor even your spouse! Once you claim your rightful ownership, you put yourself in the position to respond effectively to any experience, painful or otherwise, because you no longer blame others for your feelings. This is emotional management; this is true power and the gateway to a joyful life. David Cantu Life Coach Austin, Texas Emotional Intelligence – Learn to Monitor Your Emotions – Article © 2009

Power of Acceptance and Gratitude – Feel Freedom in Relationships

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. ~ Abraham Lincoln: Letter to H.L. Pierce, April 6, 1859

Couple UpsetRelationships are sometimes a quagmire of emotion, misunderstandings, and unmet expectations. Rather than feeling free and joyful, we often find ourselves feeling trapped and frustrated. I sometimes hear people lament, “I was really happy before we got together. I think I’m better off alone.” Despite the challenges of relationships, we all have boundless opportunities for intimacy and joy in a partnership. It’s just a matter of practicing what really works and giving up those things that get in our way.

The main ingredients of healthy partnerships
are effective communication, compatibility, authenticity, commitment, and love. The “secret” element, however, is acceptance; it’s a hidden but integral part of every other ingredient. Acceptance truly helps all relationships because it is a gift of freedom.

Living in Austin, Texas, can be difficult in the summer heat.
Couple UmbrellaInterestingly, when I ask people about it, they generally have an easy-going attitude. The reason for this is that they see it as a “natural” occurrence, a fact of life. Yet those same people don’t see relationships in the same light. When we think about it, people agree that failures and emotions are a part of life. We intellectually understand no one is perfect and that even our best friends will sometimes let us down or get angry with us. Unfortunately, when it actually happens, when one’s spouse or girlfriend becomes highly emotional or behaves contrary to his desire, the response is frequently frustration, surprise, and resentment. Emotions and mistakes in relationships are natural but we often don’t see them that way.

Acceptance in relationships
says, “People in my life, including those I’m closest to, are going to make blunders, and more than occasionally will be angry, sad, depressed, or scared. I accept this as natural. I don’t condone the mistakes of others, but I don’t judge them either. Instead, I practice compassion and seek to understand them. I see emotion as part of the tapestry of life, something we all are learning to deal with. I don’t shy away from emotion; it’s life. I’m also not a doormat: I practice dealing with the ups and downs of others as effectively as I can. I speak up about wrong-doing. I listen to others’ frustrations with me with a willing ear, but I don’t tolerate abuse.”

Acceptance leads to freedom
Child and Balloon in relationships because one is no longer tied down by the bonds of expectation and demand. A person can still desire and hope for certain outcomes; but with acceptance, he frees himself from the result, whatever it may be. Acceptance is the gift of freedom to others and to oneself.
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin, Texas
Freedom in Relationships with Acceptance – Article © 2009

How to Create a Good Relationship

To create love: be true to yourself; know yourself and listen to what your partner is really saying; choose someone you’re attracted to, someone who fits you; know your role in the relationship; make a firm commitment and love actively.

Chemistry

It helps to be “into each other.” Ask yourself: is this person someone you really want to spend your time with; is he truly interested in you for who you are? If he takes you for granted now, he’ll use and discard you. In addition, sustaining a relationship because “he’s such a good person” can be a formula for heartache for both of you. Lack of chemistry may lead to ambivalence and this is poison for a relationship. On the other hand, chemistry is a poor foundation for a long-term relationship; it’s great to have but it’s only a start. The infatuation will end. Don’t commit yourself to a relationship without the following six ingredients.

Compatibility

Compatibility is a simple requirement that we often ignore because we think love will solve our problems. It won’t. Are you on the same page? You must know the requirements you aren’t willing to compromise in a relationship; and then you’ve got to make sure your partner agrees with you. Hoping that he’ll change his mind later on is unrealistic; it’s not likely to happen. Issues you need to resolve early in a relationship include finances, children, marriage and spirituality.

Communication

Do you really know how to listen? Listening is not a passive endeavor, it requires an active desire to know what others want to say and mean. Is your partner more emotional or more thoughtful? Knowing how to honor a person’s feelings and to respect someone’s thoughts is an important aspect of communication. Do you know how to get your point across without blaming or humiliating your partner? Speaking respectfully and honestly is as crucial as listening. Equally important, does your partner communicate well?

Authenticity

Do you know who you are, how you feel and what you want? Unless you’re willing to stand up for yourself, you can’t create a good relationship. If you’re a people pleaser, if you deny your feelings until you explode or if you repeatedly sabotage relationships, you aren’t being authentic. Authenticity is speaking the truth about yourself. It requires that you love yourself enough to say yes or no and mean it. If you’re authentic, you recognize and acknowledge your shortcomings. Only by seeing yourself honestly can you see your partner honestly. Lack of authenticity makes relationships roller-coasters of deception and emotion.

Identity in the Relationship

Along with authenticity, identity in the relationship is a crucial marriage and courtship ingredient that’s often overlooked. Who is masculine and who is feminine in the relationship? Who thinks or feels more? It doesn’t work to assume answers to these questions. Most couples still want the man to lead and the woman to follow. However, we live in an age which acknowledges women’s leadership and men’s emotions. Knowing which role is true for both you and your partner will help you avoid power struggles. Sharing the role of leadership seldom works; a primary leader is needed in love. But, leadership does not mean dominance. Power is shared and each partner must understand the source of his or her power. Masculine power is different from feminine power.

Commitment

Without commitment no relationship exists. The single biggest cause of failed relationships is not money, chemistry, compatibility or even communication; it’s ambivalence – a lack of commitment. Commitment is a testament of love.

Love

Love is the essential ingredient of a good relationship. A partial definition of love is the feeling that one has for another. A more complete definition includes one’s treatment of another; love respects, honors, cherishes, forgives and is compassionate. Unless you actively love, the feelings you have are irrelevant. It’s important that your partner love you also, but look first at your own actions.
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin Texas
How to Create a Good Relationship © 2007

Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Embrace the Power of Surrender

The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender. ~ William Booth

Concerning relationships
, surrender does not mean giving up or defeat but a commitment to love. To yield is not always a sign of weakness – it can be an indication of great strength and wisdom. This is because a fearless refusal to fight rests in the awareness that hostility is a formula for pain and suffering. Regardless who wins in a war everybody loses.

Most of the fights
we experience are with friends and family. Confident surrender – especially in these situations – says I love you and I refuse to fight or hurt you. It also says I refuse to believe that you mean me harm. The interpretation of attack is one of the biggest mistakes our egos make in relationships. Surrender acknowledges one’s own shortcomings and other’s, and it either atones or forgives. Its power is in its ability to heal and create peace. We all have the power to surrender; we need only the courage and discernment to practice it and to realize its effectiveness.
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin Texas
The Power of Surrender © 2007

Bhagavad-Gita
(from chapter 18)
Give me your whole heart,
Love and adore me,
Worship me always,
Bow to me only,
And you shall find me:
This is my promise
Who love you dearly.

Transform Your Life Create New Beliefs After Being Violated

I know what it’s like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can’t. How you hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside. ~ Susanna Kaysen, Girl Interrupted

You were violated
and then blamed yourself and others. You’ve lived with shame, confusion, fear and guilt. You felt powerless and may not have understood the experience. The uncertainty and self loathing has clung to you and you have become your own worst critic. You feel depressed, angry, defeated and inadequate.

Given your experience
it makes sense that your life is as it is and that you feel as you do. Self forgiveness, the first step in your transformation, is the realization that you aren’t to blame for your experience and that you’re right to feel angry. It is a realization of both the appropriateness of your emotions and of the necessity to move on. The next step is forgiveness of those who wronged you; not for their sake but for your own peace. It’s time to release the torment and anguish of your heart. Your past is over; it’s time to embrace a new reality. People are often ignorant of how to live in harmony with others, and their actions cause others great pain. Most often those who hurt you were, in turn, hurt by others in an endless chain and always in ignorance. Decide to break the chain rather than perpetuate thoughts of fear and victimization. Forgiveness is the antidote to hatred and self loathing. Today, replace your shame and anger with wisdom and open your heart to the peace that is you birthright.
David Cantu
Life Coach Austin Texas
The Transformation of Violation © 2007

Luke 6:37

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.