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S2 EP167 – Relationship Challenges

Episode Summary

We all want to be seen and heard accurately for who we really, and it’s heartbreaking when we are not seen or heard by the important people in our life. Learning to stay open to learning and lovingly manage this heartbreak, rather than trying to control the other person, is a major challenge in our relationships, as is even being aware of our intent. We often convince ourselves we are being loving when we are really trying to avoid facing our fears. 


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding Podcast. Today I will be talking about some of the major challenges in close relationships. In all communications, there are always two levels of communication – the content of the communication, like talking about an issue such as money or chores, and the intent of the communication, which is either to learn or to control.

We face a major challenge when someone we care about says something to us that indicates to us that they don’t see us or don’t understand us. We all want so badly to be seen and understood, and for most of us, our automatic reaction to feeling unseen or misunderstood is to explain or defend, or try to control in some other way.

But too often, when the other person isn’t seeing us or understanding us, it’s because they are in their wounded self, trying to control us with judgments or projections, and when we then get triggered into our controlling wounded self, the communication gets stuck and can escalate.

The challenge is that it’s not easy to stay open to learning when we feel unseen and misunderstood. For most of us, we learned as children many controlling ways to try to not be judged or punished.

This has been one of my biggest challenges regarding staying present in my loving adult. When someone blames me for something I didn’t do or blames me for being some way that makes me feel deeply unseen, my tendency is to react to what they are saying rather than to their intent to control me with their blame. My wounded self wants to show them how wrong they are about me, rather than accepting that I have no control over them and they are not available to learning with me when they are in their wounded self blaming me.

When I’m fully present with my feelings, I can feel how heartbreaking this feels to my inner child and respond from my loving adult, disengaging and tending to my heartbreak, and opening to learning about it when I experience the other person as open.

Take a few minutes right now and think back to your childhood. Do you remember a time when you felt deeply unseen, unheard, misunderstood?

How did you feel at that time? You likely felt crushed, shattered, heartbroken, lonely, and helpless over your parent, caregiver, teacher, sibling, or friend. But these are very big feelings – way too big for a child. What did you do? Did you explain and defend? Did you apologize and try to fix it? Did you shut down and numb your feelings in some way, or did you cry, get angry, seek revenge, or go into resistance?

Do you remember a different time when you felt deeply seen, heard, and understood? Did you ever feel this, or do you have no memory of ever being fully received? Was there no one you could turn to for help, comfort and understanding?

Too many children grow up never being fully received – never feeling fully seen, valued, heard, and understood – never feeling grokked. ‘Grok’ is a term coined by Robert Heinlein in his wonderful book “Stranger In a Strange Land.” We feel ‘grokked’ when we are deeply seen, heard, and understood.

When we didn’t feel grokked, we needed to protect ourselves from feeling the shattering pain of this, so we developed our many protections to avoid our feelings and attempt to have control over others seeing and hearing us. But the conundrum of this is that we will never be grokked when we are protecting ourselves with our various addictive controlling behaviors.

The challenge for all of us as adults is to learn to manage the deep heartbreak of not being seen or heard. Learning to manage the shattering feeling of heartbreak in our body can be very hard – especially if we experienced trauma from abuse.

The very first skill you need to develop is learning to be present for your feelings without avoiding them in any way. Your painful feelings in reaction to another’s unloving behavior toward you need your attention, kindness, and compassion. Kindness and compassion for yourself lets your inner child know that YOU are seeing, hearing, and understanding yourself – that you grok yourself. When you judge yourself for your painful feelings, you are letting your inner child know that you are not seeing and valuing yourself. This rejection of yourself causes even more pain.

Even if you can’t yet tolerate the feelings of heartbreak, loneliness, and helplessness from not being seen and valued, and even if you can’t yet feel self-compassion, practice being very kind to all your feelings – even if you feel numb.

Compassion is not a feeling we generate in our own being. It’s a feeling we open to and invite in. It is a gift of spirit, and when you open to learning about loving yourself with your higher self, you can consciously invite compassion into your heart.

If you know that you were traumatized and perhaps suffer from PTSD, it’s vitally important to receive trauma therapy. You can learn the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and the Trauma Release Exercises (TRE) online, and you can work with a facilitator with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Somatic Experiencing (SE), or other very helpful and healing trauma therapies. The important thing is to heal your body enough so that you can tolerate feeling the heartbreak of not being seen or heard and learn to lovingly manage it rather than avoid it.

Without being able to feel your feelings, you won’t be able to see and hear yourself. You will continue to emotionally reject and abandon yourself as you might have been emotionally rejected and abandoned while growing up.

Deep healing comes when you learn to see, hear, and deeply value who you are and all you feel, and take loving actions for yourself when feeling unseen and unheard by another who is important to you. Healing comes about when you learn to stay present as a loving adult, rather than immediately react from your wounded self with your learned protections. Healing comes about when you become aware of your intent in the moment, rather than automatically reacting from your intent to control, avoid, and protect again pain.

None of this is easy. Not being seen or heard is so painful that it’s a major challenge to learn to stay present as a loving adult and take the loving action for yourself. This is one of our major challenges in our relationships.

The more we learn to notice our feelings and our intent in the moment, and to be able to choose the intent to learn rather than the intent to control, the more empowered we become.

The heart of being in an intent to learn is not only to learn to be present with our feelings, but to be willing to learn about our wounded, controlling behavior without judgment. It’s when we are open to learning about our intent to control getting love and avoiding pain that we begin to have the consciousness we need to heal our wounded self.

Judgment always comes from the wounded self and is itself a form of control. When we judge ourselves for our addictive, controlling behavior, we are trying to have control over getting ourselves to change. We hope that by making ourselves wrong and beating ourselves up, we will feel badly enough to change.

Yet, if you’ve ever really paid attention to the results of this, you will notice that the changes never occur. In fact, the more we judge ourselves and the worse we feel as a result of it, the more we need to act out with an intent to control to avoid the pain of our self-judgments.

Giving up self-judgments is just as difficult as giving up any addictive behavior.

The wounded self is deeply devoted to this form of control and doesn’t want to let go of it. So judging ourselves for judging ourselves will get us nowhere.

What’s necessary is to be in a compassionate intent to learn about all our controlling behavior. This means that you embrace the understanding that you always have important reasons for being in the intent to control. These reasons are the false beliefs that fuel all of our protective, controlling behavior. When you want to learn about these reasons, you can eventually bring in the truth about the false beliefs, then take loving actions based on the truth. That’s when the wounded self heals, and true behavior change occurs.

For example, before Inner Bonding, I believed I could have control over getting seen and heard by others through sharing my pain, being stressed, or overwhelmed, getting angry, withdrawing, crying, defending myself and explaining things. I wanted others’ compassion because I wasn’t giving my inner child the compassion she needed. I believed if others saw me and felt compassion for me, then they would accept me and not judge me. I wanted control over not feeling the loneliness I felt when people I cared about didn’t see me or hear me, and instead judged me. I didn’t want to accept the truth: that I had no control over their intent or behavior. I didn’t want to accept that at times people I cared about didn’t care about me, and that there was nothing I could do about it. I didn’t want to accept the heartbreaking times. 

Then one day, after starting to practice Inner Bonding, I started to get it!

I was feeling miserable over feeling unseen, unheard, and uncared for and I asked my guidance what I was doing to cause this. My guidance helped me to understand that I was not miserable only because of others’ judgments and lack of caring, but also because of trying to control others instead of take care of myself. I finally understood that I had no control over getting seen and heard by others, or over getting acceptance, caring, compassion, or understanding from another. I also had no control over whether others chose to be angry, blaming, distant, or judgmental. From the day I really took in that truth on a deep level, I worked hard to stop trying to control others’ feelings and behavior. Before that time, I would TRY to stop the controlling behavior, but it never worked. After that day, I got on the path of learning to be present enough to see and hear myself.

I was able to understand all this only because I wasn’t judging myself for my controlling behavior. There is no way I could have been helped by my guidance if I had been in self-judgment. It was my intent to learn about how not seeing and hearing my inner child, and about how my own controlling intent was causing my unhappiness, that led to the understandings I needed to change.

One of the great things that our guidance brought to us when Erika and I created Inner Bonding is that there are only two intents to choose from – to learn or to control. Having only two to choose from makes it easier to be aware of our intent, although this is a challenge for all of us.

Our intent is what governs how we think, feel, and behave. Our intent is the most powerful and creative force we have; it is the essence of our free will. Your intent is your deepest desire, your primary motive or goal, your highest priority in any given moment.

We are open to learning:

  • When we are compassionate – first for ourselves and our own feelings, then for others.
  • When we desire to take responsibility for our own feelings and behavior.
  • When we know that we and others have good reasons for feelings and behavior.
  • When we are genuinely curious about these good reasons, which are our fears and false beliefs.
  • When we are genuinely curious about our own and others’ protective, controlling behavior.
  • When we are connected with a higher source of guidance.
  • When we are willing to tell our total truth without blame or judgment.
  • When we are willing to risk losing others rather than lose ourselves.
  • When it is more important to be a loving human being than to protect against our fears of anger, judgment, rejection, failure, hurt, being controlled, being unseen and unheard, and so on.
  • And, when it is more important to be a loving human being than attempt to have control over others making us feel temporarily safe, loved, happy, understood, seen, heard, adequate, successful, and so on. 

Our intent is to control:

  • When we believe others are causing our wounded feelings of anger, anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, aloneness, emptiness, or jealousy.
  • When we believe others are causing our behavior.
  • When we believe we are victims of others’ choices.
  • When we believe we can control others’ feelings or behavior.
  • When we are judging ourselves or others as right or wrong, good or bad.
  • When we are unwilling to open to our spiritual guidance.
  • When we are willing to lose ourselves rather than risk losing others.
  • When we are attaching our worth to outcomes and believe we can control outcomes.
  • When we avoid taking responsibility for our feelings with our protective, addictive, controlling behaviors, such as anger, blaming, interrogating, criticizing, judging, shaming, perfectionism, threats, violence, withdrawal, resistance, pulling, denying, caretaking, people-pleasing, complaining, demanding, defending, explaining, lying, analyzing, convincing, lecturing, telling feelings in order to blame, drama, illness.

We are avoiding responsibility for our feelings and trying to numb out and control our feelings when we use activities to avoid and numb out, such as TV, video games, social media, surfing the internet, busyness, gossiping, sports, exercise, sleep, work, making money, spending, gambling, shopping, worry, obsessive thinking, self-criticism, talking, phone, reading, gathering information, meditation, religion, crime, danger, pornography, masturbation, glamour, beautifying.

And, of course, these are addictions, only when we are using them to avoid our painful feelings.

Almost anything can be used as an addiction when our intent is to control, avoid, and protect against pain.

We can also use substances, such as drugs, alcohol, nicotine, food, sugar, caffeine to numb out and avoid responsibility for our feelings.

Given that we have free will, we each choose our intent moment by moment. The challenge of becoming a loving adult is to be conscious of our intent each moment. Only when we become conscious of choosing the intent to control – instead of choosing it unconsciously – do we have the ability to consciously choose the intent to learn. 

Becoming aware of your intent – moment-by-moment – is one of the most important, and challenging, things you can do for yourself.

Freedom and personal power come from being able to consciously choose the intent to learn about love, rather than automatically and unconsciously being in the intent to control, protect, and avoid. The more you become aware of your intent and consciously choose the intent to learn, the more you create the neural pathways in your brain for being a loving adult.

Knowing our true intent is sometimes a tricky thing because it’s easy to convince ourselves that we are being loving to ourselves when our true intent is to have control over not being hurt. Avoiding the fear of being hurt is much more important to many people than learning to be loving to themselves and others, but true inner safety does not come about from avoiding our fears and pain.

Avoidance only breeds more fear and pain, as the inner child feels alone with no loving adult to rely on. True inner safety is the result of confronting our fears and developing a spiritually connected loving adult to handle our fears rather than avoid them.

The important thing here is to not rationalize, deny, and kid yourself into thinking that protecting yourself with controlling, addictive, and avoidant behavior is loving to yourself. Loving behavior is doing that which supports your highest good. Addictive, controlling, and avoidant behavior is never supportive of your highest good, even if it feels safe in the moment.

Be sure to ask yourself in any given situation: “Is this behavior loving to me, or am I just trying to be safe by avoiding my fears? Is this behavior really in my highest good, or am I in denial, convincing myself that that I’m being loving to myself?”

Becoming aware of our intent to be safe from pain is what gives us the choice to be loving to ourselves.

As I stated, we are beings of free will. We can choose to allow our ego wounded self to guide us, or we can choose to allow our higher guidance to guide us.     

This is a simple concept, yet doing it is one of the major challenges of our lives. This is because we have been practicing allowing our wounded, programmed mind, with all the fears and false beliefs that we have acquired over the years, to be in charge. Our programmed mind thinks it knows what to do to keep us safe. It thinks it has the knowledge to make good decisions. Yet the wounded self cannot distinguish between what is in our highest good and what hurts us, or between what is true and what is not. The mind tells us things like, “I am taking care of myself when I blame someone for my hurt feelings,” or “I am taking care of myself when I reward myself with a doughnut,” or “I am taking care of myself when I relax with a six-pack,” or “I am taking care of myself when I yell at someone who is not doing what I want them to do,” or “I am taking care of myself when I shut down and withdraw, or explain and defend.” Yet all of these behaviors are ways of trying to control others or our own feelings, rather than taking loving care of ourselves.

Until we get that our wounded self doesn’t know anything about what is good and right for us, and what is not, we will continue to rely on our programmed mind to guide us. Yet the real source of truth can never come from our limited mind with all its programmed beliefs. The real source of truth exists only in our higher mind, our guidance.

Because we have been practicing being guided by our wounded self, our ego mind has come to believe that it is responsible for our wellbeing. In fact, the mind is so arrogant as to believe that it actually keeps us alive and safe. That is why the mind so often obsesses about things. It believes that “If I can just figure out the right thing to do, then I can have control over having what I want and being safe.” Whether what we want is more money, more love and attention, to be seen and heard, or to avoid rejection, engulfment and failure, the mind thinks it can control getting what we want and avoiding what we don’t want – if only we can figure out the right way to be and the right thing to do.

We move ourselves toward truly feeling inwardly safe when we choose to release our will to our higher will.

This means releasing to spirit what others do and how they feel about us, rather than trying to control those things. It means releasing the outcome of actions and events instead of trying to control them. It means opening to our guidance to guide us in our highest good, in each moment, instead of obsessing about what we want and how to have control over getting it. 

The decision to release and open to our guidance is a moment-by-moment choice. The more we practice making this decision and tuning into guidance, the easier it becomes to access the truth and the loving actions. We each get to choose who we want to be in each moment. We can choose to maintain the illusion of separateness by trying to control ourselves, others, and outcomes, or we can choose oneness, by opening to learning with spirit about what is in our highest good, moment-by-moment.

Obviously, all of this is hardest to do in our important relationships, which is why our relationships are the PhD of personal and spiritual growth. The greatest challenges in our relationships are being present for our feelings and learning to take responsibility for them, not being a victim of others, seeing and hearing ourselves, being aware of our intent, staying connected with our guidance, and taking loving actions for ourselves in the face of the heartbreak of not being seen or heard.

Quite a challenge!

I invite you to heal your relationships with my 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

And you can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:

Diet for Divine Connection: Beyond Junk Foods and Junk Thoughts to At-Will Spiritual Connection

The Inner Bonding Workbook: Six Steps to Healing Yourself and Connecting With Your Divine Guidance

6 Steps to Total Self-Healing: The Inner Bonding Process

And, How to Become Strong Enough to Love: Creating Loving Relationships Through the Six-Step Pathway of Inner Bonding

And we have so much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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