Are You Wearing Emotional Spanks?

Donning an emotional “everything is fine” mask in our personal relationships is psychological Spanx, making it difficult for authentic connection to develop.

Spanks. Those ingenious undergarment items that smooth our bumps and bulges has helped many of us feel our best. But there’s an emotional kind of Spanx wearing that tends to occur in our personal relationships: the idea of hiding our authentic selves from a potential or actual partner in an effort to be liked.

It’s one thing to want the illusion of a slimmer physique but when we hold back who we truly are in our personal relationships, we are doing a disservice to ourselves, our partner, and the relationship itself.

*Gena just started dating someone.

“I really like this one. I think there’s real potential. But then I saw him on TikTok, throwing emoji kisses and hearts to another girl. Psychologically, I went down the rabbit hole. But I’m not letting him see that. He thinks I’m all cool with his online flirting emoji-fest.”

It’s a couple of weeks into Gena’s dating “Mr. Real Potential.” Two weeks of seeing his online TikTok flirting, two weeks of keeping her angst inside like a muffin top hidden under Spanx. And just like the physical Spanx, the emotional Lycra needed to eventually come off.

“I found myself getting passive-aggressive with him. I couldn’t take not knowing who these girls were that he was online emoji kissing. So, I asked him, ignoring my head screaming at me that I looked like an idiot.”

That inner voice is fear; it’s our brain’s meaning-well-attempt to protect us. But we aren’t in danger when we are honest. Ironically, removing our emotional Spanx is the best thing you can do for everyone involved. Your relationship can literally breathe better.

A dear friend of mine is a bit of a branding guru (https://www.catheynickell.com). She recently had a speaking engagement where she shared her most popular posts on Instagram:

“It’s typically the ones where I share something about me, something personal and authentic. People are drawn to authenticity.”

Authenticity not only boosts one’s potential popularity on social media; it nourishes our relationships. When we, as Brene Brown ingeniously coined it, “dare greatly,” we are showing up in this life, removing our psychological Spanx to experience genuine intimacy.

Shortly after Gena’s confession, her Mr. Real Potential shared that he appreciated her honesty and assured her that it was just playful texting and that he only dates one person at a time.

Could Gena have experienced Mr. Real Potential giving a different answer, one filled with negativity? Judgement? Disappointment? Anger? Absolutely. To “dare greatly” is to know there are risks and to do it anyway. The greater risk is to keep the emotional Spanx on and live a lie with yourself and your partner.

*Names have been altered to protect the privacy of individuals.

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

There’s a disconnect between what retail glorifies as romance and what romance truly is.

            Valentine’s Day. A time hallowed by Hallmark (the TV channel included), teeming with jewelry commercials, and stores littered with giant pink hearts and boxes of chocolate. Retail stores ply our senses with confectionary romance. 

All that pink can start to look like Pepto Bismol (or make you feel like you need some to quell the nausea from the retail overload).

There’s nothing wrong with the romantic holiday arriving each 2nd week of February. The tricky part comes when we lose sight of the why behind romantic gestures. According to author Kelly Gonsalves:

“Being romantic is about expressing love and dedication in a way that’s intentional, unmistakable, and deeply affectionate.”

The Hallmark Channel and Kay Jewelers offer the image of romance, all shiny and with a figurative (and often literal) bow on top. But a woman could receive a sparkly jewel and not feel an ounce of romance; she could watch flick after flick of cheesy Hallmark movies about “love” but not experience anything more than the gas she incurs eating too many bowls of popcorn.

Our retail-centered modern world offers ways to say you matter to me. But it’s the why behind those acts that make all the difference. When there’s genuine connection, romance can be found in a thoughtful gesture—something as simple as bringing your loved one a coffee made just the way he likes it. When there’s reciprocal authenticity, romance is no longer an annual event cranked out by American Greetings, it’s a regular occurrence.

But what if I’m single? You may be asking. Romance can occur regularly for a party of one. Take yourself for a manicure. Treat yourself to a good book or a massage. Go for a scenic bike ride. Remember: the most important relationship you will ever have is the one with yourself. And just like a relationship with someone else, even the small gestures can pack a significant punch.

Tina Turner’s famous hit, What’s Love Got to Do with It? is ostensibly about a girl telling herself that the boy she likes is only interested in him physically. Yet at the closing chorus, the lyrics speak a different story:

I’ve been taking on a new direction
But I have to say
I’ve been thinking about my own protection
It scares me to feel this way

What is the girl in the song scared of? What is she trying to protect and why? To love means to experience vulnerability, to accept vulnerability as a way of life, to cozy up to it and break bread with it, to look our fear directly in the eyes, knowing you might get your heart broken. The Hallmark movies, the Jared jewelry commercials—these are fairytale ideas that have nothing to do with watching a loved one go through chemotherapy or losing someone in a car accident. Love takes guts; love means you’re in the ring, knowing there are no guarantees.

What’s love got to do with it? In my opinion, everything. 

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-be-romantic

“Book Launching: Thank You, Elizabeth Gilbert!”

Elizabeth Gilbert’s inspiring words from her book BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear is a major reason my book, THE FRIENDSHIP DIET, launches today.

Dear Reader

Today my book, The Friendship Diet: Clean out Your Fridge, Get Real with Yourself, and Fill Your Life with Meaningful Relationships that Last, launches! And while there were many beautiful miracles along the path to reaching this birth-of-a-book day, none of it would be possible without Elizabeth Gilbert’s wisdom shared in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

In an earlier blog post, I shared the magic-like impact of the smallest moments (“The Hidden Power of Action”). My friends, while wonderfully supportive of my idea to create a book about personal relationships and its deep connection to food, were only one significant part of the book’s manifestation. They were the fuel, the sustenance I needed to keep my creative tank full.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC book was the reason I found the courage to craft my idea into reality—the trigger to get that creative tank pumping.

Popsugar’s review on Gilbert’s colorful BIG MAGIC book cover says it all: “A must-read for anyone hoping to live a creative life.”

There were two significant areas of Gilbert’s literary therapy that made me feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand attention (in a great wayJ

  1. She articulates the feeling of an idea tapping one on the shoulder, a whisper from the Universe to follow wherever that idea will take you. She also provides our creative souls with a cautionary tale: 

“Sometimes they [ideas] do wait….But others won’t….Would you sit around in a box for two years while your collaborator blew you off? Probably not.”

The idea for The Friendship Diet kept tapping me on the shoulder, a stubborn little fella that wanted me to put aside a Young Adult manuscript that was more than halfway through its plot. When I read Gilbert’s warning words, I could practically hear the Idea for The Friendship Diet clearing his throat, ready to walk out the figurative door.

  1. Gilbert’s second therapeutic moment…well, let’s just say, it felt like a one-on-one session.

“Maybe you fear that you are not original enough.”

Wow. How did she know??Was there a hidden camera in my psyche Elizabeth had access to?? 

And then, the generous-hearted and insightful Ms. Gilbert continued our private literary therapy session:

“If you are older, trust that the world has been educating you all along….We need you to reveal to us what you know, what you have learned, what you have seen and felt.”

Elizabeth Gilbert had triggered me—in a fantastic way—to heed the creative call.

To top it off, she even offers us a metaphorical Permission Slip to create!

Why did it feel like Elizabeth Gilbert was speaking directly to me? Why did it feel like she had a backstage pass, Being-John-Malkovich-style to the parts of me I keep so hidden from the world, even don’t know it??

Because, I believe, Elizabeth Gilbert writes from a place of authenticity, from the soft underbelly that’s at the core of humanity, from a sacred space of vulnerability. You cannot read her candid musings on creativity without transforming yourself. The alchemy of her words possesses the potential to alter the inner landscape of one’s heart and mind.

If you are reading this blog piece, from the essence of my creative soul I thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert. Your openhearted sharing of BIG MAGIC provided the impetus to create The Friendship Diet and the courage to keep playing—particularly when an Idea comes to visit.

I encourage every creative soul (and we are ALL creative souls) to grab a copy of BIG MAGIC and listen to what your Ideas are saying.