Show highlights include:
- How to know if you’re in an unstable or parasitic relationship (4:14)
- Why “get her to like me” sucks the passion out of your relationships (7:37)
- How to negotiate with your inner voices to find your sense of calm (13:41)
- The effective “Schwartz Step Back” method to release your anger and access your Higher Self (17:22)
- The meditation practice that makes your warring inner parts join hands in peace (22:40)
- The Negative and Positive actions you can use tonight to reduce your neediness (29:36)
- Three ways to “check in” with your vulnerable emotions that make you feel loved in under 10 minutes (30:38)
- How to create an effortless, lasting relationship without the hard work of “couples therapy” (34:54)
- Why you want to “step on landmines” with your partner — and how this scary step ends arguments (48:15)
For more about David Tian, go here: https://www.davidtianphd.com/about/
Listen to the episode on your favorite podcast platform:
Note: Scroll Below for Transcription
This is ThePodcastFactory.com
Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast, where we answer key questions in dating, relationships, success, and fulfillment, and explore the psychology of masculinity. Now here’s your host, world-renowned therapist and life coach, David Tian.
David: Welcome to the Masculine Psychology Podcast. I’m David Tian, your host, and it is my honor to be welcoming you to this episode.
In the previous two episodes, we went into the number one factor for a man’s attractiveness to women and that is neediness, the level of neediness, and in the previous episode, we expanded on that and we went into how our neediness comes from unmet needs, having needs, legitimate needs, that are not being met or that are being met in maladaptive or unhealthy ways.
It’s important to see that most of the dating gurus online, the pickup artists, the red-pill dating advice is actually not meeting your needs, but trying to deal with your neediness by hiding it, by pretending as if you don’t have these needs. [01:08.5]
Just hiding your neediness, your core insecurities, your vulnerability, obviously will not resolve the underlying issues. It’s just going to add another layer of repression on top of other layers of repression, and it’ll just make things worse in the long run.
That’s what we’ve been covering the past two episodes. This episode is all about the solution. How are we going to actually meet our own needs in ourselves? The main reason guys who are actually needy under the surface don’t realize they’re needy is, in the short term or at that moment, they’re getting their needs met by somebody else or by some external conditions. [01:51.4]
It’s only when the external conditions change or that person they’re counting on to meet their needs stops meeting their needs—like the woman he’s dating stops giving him the validation or the approval—that he realizes only then or maybe he doesn’t even realize that he just feels his neediness at that point, and the pain and the hurt that comes erupting out of that, because in order to deal with his neediness, he’s actually relying on external sources of validation or approval, or of significance in order to meet his needs.
He will always be at the mercy of factors outside of his control, other people, external conditions, whether he is winning at work or something like that. Those are all required for him to feel good about himself to have his needs met, and because of that, his self-esteem, his happiness and his fulfillment will always be at the mercy of things that are outside of his control.
This is why, no matter how well you do achieving in life, if you’re underneath that all, at the core of it, still needy because you have these core insecurities and are papering over those core insecurities by temporarily, momentarily having your needs met by things from outside you, when those things from outside stop meeting your needs, then you will finally realize just how needy you actually are and the fact that you’re not able to meet your own needs in yourself. [03:19.1]
The answer then obviously is, okay, then how do I meet my own needs in myself, by myself? How do I meet my legitimate needs for love and connection, and significance and certainty, and growth and so forth? In the previous episode, we covered the 10 universal human needs. How do I go about meeting those needs of myself?
We ended the last episode by invoking the concept of the higher self, your true self, and we’re going to start from that point here in this episode, diving into what exactly is your true self or your higher self, and then getting into two other points to build on that, to show you how this works in your life and especially in relationship, in an intimate relationship. [04:05.4]
So many people around the world are in relationships right now that are unstable, that are built on a kind of volatile uncertainty, and they may not notice it at the moment because at the moment the partner is meeting their needs, so they don’t notice how needy they actually are, because at the moment it happens to be working out.
But actually these relationships are founded on a kind of contract. They’re in a transactional relationship. It’s not a relationship of unconditional love and that’s because neither party is able to meet their own needs in themselves. They’re parasitically requiring the other partner to meet their needs for them.
This might even be taken for granted in some social circles and you might not have ever thought of any other different way of approaching it, of approaching relationships or marriage, but it’s actually unhealthy and stable to rely on the other partner to meet your needs for you because this, again, is sort of like “I scratch your back. You’re going to scratch mine, and when you stop scratching my back, I’m going to stop scratching yours.” It’s this Seesaw up and down type of dynamic that’s always inherently unstable. [05:16.5]
Maybe, again, just at the moment, these couples don’t realize it yet, but pretty soon, it’s not going to take that much for instability start to happen and then when that happens, all that up and down game-playing of that insecurity, of the fears of being hurt or rejected, and taking care of yours and making sure that person takes care of you, and you’re only taking care of them because you’re hoping that they’ll take care of you, in this kind of transactional contractual relationship that’s such a common foundation for modern relationships, will crumble because it’s toxic and it’s actually poisonous.
You do not want to be in a relationship like that. You don’t want to get into or create a relationship that’s transactional because it feels like crap. It might feel good in the honeymoon phase of the first three to six months or so when you happily do things for each other and you’re happily meeting each other’s needs, and you’re constantly looking for ways to do that. [06:12.5]
Then life gets in the way of these sorts of honeymoon phases and you come down from that high and reality sinks in, and it’s what researchers call the transition from a passionate attraction or a passionate relationship to a companionate one and most relationships don’t survive that transition because, in fact, most relationships will fail because they’re not founded on unconditional love.
Unconditional love can only happen when each of the partners is able to meet his or her own needs themselves or in themselves, and you don’t want to end up in a transactional relationship, which is the norm, because we’re not taught many of this psychology, especially we’re not taught about relationships or meeting our own needs or the true self, in normal school curriculums, right? [07:01.8]
It is not your fault that you don’t know this and the fact that you’re listening to this is already awesome. Pat yourself on the back. But this is something that, if you want to find happiness, fulfillment, and unconditional love in your life, and to create an unconditional love relationship and avoid the typical toxic relationship patterns of the modern world, then you’ve got to listen very closely to what we’re covering in this episode.
What you really want, going back to neediness, is to realize, to recognize that the less needy you are, the more attractive you are, and that it’s not going to lead you into the “do more” trap, which is where the more you do, the less attractive you are, because your neediness drives you to do more because you think, Oh, she doesn’t like me enough, or I need to do something else to earn her attraction or to get her to like me.
You end up doing more, saying more, putting more effort and time and energy into her, into the relationship, into making you more attractive, so to speak, when, in fact, counterintuitively, the “do more” trap will actually, it’s a trap and will lead you into the quicksand and it will sink deeper and deeper and make you less attractive, ironically. [08:08.4]
Counterintuitively, the right thing to do is to simply remove the neediness because, as you remove your neediness, your attractiveness increases, and remember, the less needy you are, the more attractive you are.
That sets the scene. That’s the longer review of the past two episodes to bring us into the three points here, and the first point being ,building off the last episode, your higher self is the only thing that can meet all of your needs fully in yourself. These needs that are being felt so acutely, the need for love, certainty, significance, connection, and so on, it’s our vulnerable parts that are feeling these needs the most acutely and it’s only your higher self that can meet them fully at a 10 out of 10, reliably and consistently only for the rest of your life. [09:00.8]
Now, your intimate partner could meet those needs for you, or friends or external circumstances could meet that these needs on a 10 out of 10 momentarily or temporarily, but once you’re requiring, let’s say, your intimate partner to do that for you all the time, this is already going to be not only just a turnoff and showing that you’re not able to meet your own needs, you’re not independent enough, you’re not confident in yourself yet fully, but it also feels icky to her. It’s a codependent relationship here.
What is this higher self within us? Now, I am using the term “higher self” as a synonym for what in IFS therapy is known as the true self.
If you don’t know what IFS therapy is, I’ve covered it in other episodes, but just briefly in a few seconds here, IFS therapy is an empirically-based therapeutic model. It is posted by the NREPP (National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices) maintained by the U.S. government SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), and the NREPP is used by major insurance companies to decide which treatments are eligible for coverage. [10:13.0]
At the time that the IFS therapy was listed there, the only other psychotherapy model listed there was CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy). IFS was subject to, quote, “independent rigorous scrutiny” and it is “deemed to show significant impact on individual outcomes relating to mental health.” In particular, studies “indicate promising effects” by IFS therapy on the mind in terms of depression and anxiety, the body in terms of physical health conditions, and the spirit in terms of personal resilience and self-concept.
In IFS therapy, the working assumption or hypothesis, you could say, is that we all have within us a higher or self and this higher self is marked by these eight qualities. They all started with Cs to make it easier to remember and they are calmness, curiosity, clarity, compassion, confidence, courage, creativity, and connectedness. [11:13.6]
In addition to those eight qualities, Richard Schwartz, the founder of IFS therapy, has also helpfully pointed out five other qualities that are present when you are being led by your own higher self in relation to others. Especially if you’re a therapist and just checking to see whether you’re in self, so to speak, whether you are in the state of your higher self or being led by your higher self, you should also notice five other qualities, the qualities of—and they all start with Ps just to make it easier to remember—playfulness, patience, presence, perspective, and persistence.
The working hypothesis is that you have within your higher self that can meet all of your parts, needs, and the question then is, okay, so how do I access this higher self? [12:03.0]
Now we move to Point 2 of the three points for this episode and I’m going to read for you an excerpt from an article by the founder of IFS therapy, Richard Schwartz, called The Larger Self, and this is an article you can find on the IFS Institute website.
I’ll just read out a short portion of this, just to give you an idea of, first, what the higher self or, as he calls it, the true self is like, and then how to access or a couple of different ways that are commonly used to access this true self or higher self in you. [12:36.4]
“We all know about those luminous moments of clarity and balance, in our own lives and in those of our clients, which come briefly now and again. However we get there, we suddenly encounter a feeling of inner plenitude and open heartedness to the world that wasn’t there the moment before. The incessant nasty chatter inside our heads ceases, we have a sense of calm spaciousness, as if our minds and hearts and souls had expanded and brightened. Sometimes, these evanescent experiences come in a bright glow of peaceful certainty that everything in the universe is truly okay, and that includes us—you and me individually—in all our poor struggling, imperfect humanity. At other times, we may experience a wave of joyful connection with others that washes away irritation, distrust, and boredom. We feel that, for once, we truly are ourselves, our real selves, free of the inner cacophony that usually assaults us.”
Then skipping down a couple of paragraphs. [13:41.1]
“…in the early 1980’s, I began noticing that several clients with eating disorders described extensive internal conversations with what they called different parts of themselves when I asked about what happened inside them to make them binge and purge. I was intrigued. I had one client, Diane, ask the pessimistic voice she was describing why it always told her she was hopeless. The voice responded that it said she was hopeless so that she wouldn’t take any risks and get hurt; it was trying to protect her. This seemed like a promising interaction. If this pessimist really had benign intent, then Diane might be able to negotiate a different role for it. But Diane wasn’t interested in negotiating. She was angry at this voice and kept telling it to just leave her alone. I asked her why she was so rude to the pessimist and she went on a long diatribe, describing how that voice had made every step she took in life a major hurdle.
“It then occurred to me that I wasn’t talking to Diane, but to another part of her that constantly fought with the pessimist. In an earlier conversation, Diane had told me about an ongoing war inside her between one voice that pushed her to achieve and the pessimist who told her it was hopeless. Could it be that the pushing part had jumped in while she was talking to the pessimist? [15:07.7]
“I asked Diane to focus on the voice that was so angry at the pessimist and ask it to stop interfering in her negotiations with the pessimist. To my amazement, it agreed to ‘step back,’ and Diane immediately shifted out of the anger she’d felt so strongly seconds before. When I asked Diane how she felt toward the pessimist now, it seemed like a different person answered. In a calm, caring voice, she said she was grateful to it for trying to protect her, and felt sorry that it had to work so hard. Her face and posture had also changed, reflecting the soft compassion in her voice. From that point on, negotiations with the inner pessimist were easy. [15:54.4]
“I tried this ‘step back’ procedure with several other clients. Sometimes we had to ask two or three voices to not interfere before the client shifted into a state similar to Diane’s, but we got there nonetheless. When they were in that calm, compassionate state, I’d ask these clients what voice or part was present. They each gave a variation of the following reply: “that’s not a part like those other voices are. That’s more of who I really am. That’s my Self.
“I’ve devoted the ensuing two decades”—actually four decades, since this was published in the 2000s—“refining methods for helping clients to release this state and to get in this state myself, for I’ve found that the most important variable in how quickly clients can access their Selves is the degree to which I’m Self-led. When I can be deeply present to my clients from the core of my being, free from anxiety about how I’m doing, or who’s in control of the therapy, or whether the client is following the correct therapeutic agenda, clients respond as if the resonance of my Self were a tuning fork that awakens their own.” [17:08.8]
In that short passage, you can see a really rich description of what the true self or higher self is and what it’s like when you’re in self, so to speak, when you’re led by the self, the part that’s not a part, and you also so get to learn about how he came up with a very common strategy or method for accessing the self or helping you or the client access the client’s own self.
That’s the step back method where we simply ask the parts that come up and you can kind of suss this out by asking the client or you, asking yourself, how you feel toward the part of you that you’re focusing on. How do I feel toward this target part? [17:50.6]
If the answer is anything other than one of those eight C qualities or one of the five P qualities, one or more of them, ideally, if it’s anything other than a non-accepting quality—especially for achievers, this might mean that you come to the part with an agenda of trying to make it better. “I want to improve this part, so that I can, I, the achieving part, can achieve more and hopefully get significance or the feeling of enough from that.” That’s a very common pattern, and so you’ll notice then that for the achiever, the answer to “How do you feel toward this vulnerable part of you or this target part?” and if it’s something other than acceptance, if it’s not acceptance—then that’s another part that is viewing or focusing on the target part.
You can ask that part of you that feels that way, and in the example that Richard Schwartz gave with Diane was that there was this angry, judgmental part that was trying to get the pessimistic part to step aside because she had her own agenda, and just noticing, Okay, there’s an angry part there. Can we ask the angry part to step aside? [18:56.7]
It’s not as simple or straightforward as just asking the part to step aside sometimes. Sometimes it is, as he says there and describes there. Sometimes the parts won’t step aside. Then, for that session or that time, the thing to do is to turn to the parts that won’t step aside and discover why they won’t step aside. What are their fears or concerns around what might happen if they were to step aside? Then that becomes the work or task for that day or that session.
There’s a lot more to it. There are at least six steps in that process, which if you were to learn how to do this as a therapist and train in this, you would learn it, but that’s outside the scope of this episode. But just pointing out that ways of accessing the self, if you have a therapist trained in IFS therapy, they can help you have your parts that are so-called blended with yourself—they’re sort of taking the seat of your consciousness and taking over you—to ask them to step aside. [19:55.0]
Often just acknowledging that they’re there, just noticing, Oh, it’s a part of me, not my true self, that’s feeling this way and taking over my consciousness, and then just asking them to step aside or step back or relax back, or to give you some room, they’re often willing to do that. Sometimes, again, they’re not, so then you turn to them and you discover as much as you can about them, and build the relationship between your true self and your parts, which is a necessary step in the healing process.
Now, at the beginning of a therapeutic process, the clients or we—as the side with you as a client here, we—often aren’t able to access ourselves. In the case of my online courses, my voice in the meditations and in the exercises sort of stands in as your higher self. [20:47.4]
In the therapeutic relationship and your therapeutic sessions for your private therapy, the therapist, the trained and good therapist, will take that role and sort of coach your true self—or maybe a better word is “coax” your true self—to take leadership by having and building trust with the parts that keep jumping in, to build the trust with them, so that they’re willing and able to relax back and trust in you and your true self, or the true self of the therapist, enough to be able to step back.
This is what I call the negative part of the process, the negative, meaning, simply removal, the removing of, the stepping back of parts. When the parts get out of the way, then, theoretically, the assumption is that the self who is already perfectly compassionate, confident, courageous, and so on, will just be there or will come out more. There will be more rules for the self.
But there’s also a positive project. In other words, there’s not just a removal, but there’s a building up. The positive project could be something like meditations. One of the most powerful ways, on a daily level, on a daily basis, of accessing, is doing these meditative exercises. [22:01.0]
One of the most basic is the loving-kindness meditation. It’s an ancient tradition of meditation that goes back thousands of years. Another term for it is metta, M-E-T-T-A. You can find loving-kindness meditations on pretty much every major meditation app. In my Legendary Coaching Group, I provide versions of the loving-kindness meditation for our members that you can do in just 10 minutes or less.
On the Oak app, which is free as far as I know and as at the moment of this recording, the O-A-K meditation app, which you can download, they have a loving-kindness meditation that’s great. You can set the timer to 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes or whatever it is and choose the voice and the background sounds, and it will lead you through the loving-kindness meditation, and it’s a really great way of getting into compassion. There’s a basic loving-kindness meditation. It will ask you to send well-wishes to yourself. [23:00.2]
From an IFS perspective, what you can practice is sending well-wishes to your parts and then building into not only “May you be happy. May you be healthy, May you be at peace” that you say to your parts, and the normal loving-kindness is just you say it to yourself, but we’re going to nuance it even more with the IFS framework, which is that you were saying it to your parts, all the parts that you were aware of, but even more you can say “May we be happy. May we be healthy, May we be at peace,” and now we’re taking it on as a kind of a group, a community of an internal family inside you, an internal family.
Meditations are a great way of doing it. Loving-kindness is super basic, super easy to do, and then there were more advanced IFS meditations and I include those in my courses, “Freedom U” and in the more advanced Legendary Coaching Group meditations that start to show up at Month 8 and beyond. There are more advanced meditations that are outside the scope of this episode, so I’m just going to mention that they’re there, but you can start with the loving-kindness meditation. [24:03.0]
Then any of the guided meditations I’ve included in my major courses, like “Freedom U”, “Lifestyle Mastery”, “Rock Solid Relationships”, even “Invincible”, and in the odd modules, Module 5, especially, there are embedded—even in the “Invincible” modules, the “Invincible” meditations—inner child work and gratitude work to help you with your true self, to access your true self. All of that is in there.
You can get a ton of different ways of getting to your true self and through my various online course material, but, of course, you can also do that in your private sessions with your IFS therapists, obviously, any kind of therapy work, which is an hour a week. This is the sort of thing that you’re really going to have to embrace for the long term, so generally speaking, it will be 20 sessions, so about half a year to a year, year and a half, two years.
Plenty of people will continue for years, several years or more, making it just a regular part of their lives because of how important it is, because it’s everything. It has everything to do with your emotions, your relationships, everything. [25:09.0]
When you’re in self, when you’re operating from the leadership of your higher self—“when you’re in self”, meaning, your higher self is in charge of your consciousness—the quality of your life changes completely versus when you’re in a part, even an achiever’s parts that generally are running around and trying to get things done, accomplish goals, and hack stuff, optimize stuff. You might think that this is enjoyable. Often it’s actually not, especially after you access your higher self.
Plenty of people who are hard-going achievers resort to drugs and psychedelics in a desperate bid to access the higher self, and they might’ve accessed it inadvertently or by accident on a trip, on a so-called trip, and then they can’t recover it consistently because they’re dependent on this drug to get them there. It’s questionable whether they were even really in self at that point or maybe in a self-like part. [26:05.4]
Anyway, this is outside of the scope of this episode, but I just want to point out there are many ways to access the self. The only reliable, consistent way to make it a part of your life, so you’re sort of floating through life as much as possible is from the leadership, from the state of, from the perspective of, and with the leadership of the true self, of your higher self, in the seat of your consciousness.
Your whole life completely transforms and everything goes so smoothly in your interpersonal relationships despite any other extra factors that might happen, terrible tragedies that might happen to you or interpersonal conflict, because you can’t control how other people are, but you being in your state of your higher self makes everything so much more effortless, so that it really does seem effortless.
The more I talk about it, I realize if you’ve not experienced it before, it sounds like hyperbole and it’s hard to believe, so, really, you’ve got to experience it for yourself. [26:59.0]
The thing is the more severe your trauma or the more severely you’re dependent on neurotic patterns—that is your parts are dependent on neurotic part patterns—the harder it will be to access the self, access your higher self, and it will just take time. I’m very optimistic and hopeful that everyone and anyone with enough persistence, by just being with their parts and staying with the process–
Again, the process itself is not effortless, okay? Let me point that out. When you get to the end, it’s effortless. When you’re able to access self and be fully in the leadership of your higher self, it feels effortless, like you’re just flowing through life, especially in your interpersonal relationships. But the process for many people will be about—and for many achievers, there’s just one category—they just lump all those emotions of sadness and anger, and tenderness and despair, and all that. All these other very subtle emotions that are actually major emotions in themselves, they just sort of lump it all into pain. [27:58.4]
I hear that a lot, just one word, “pain”, and I think it’s not helpful, but I’m just meeting them where they are. This is the word that resonates with them, but it’s not helpful because “pain” makes it sound like it’s not good and it makes it sound like it’s something that shouldn’t be there and that you just want to get it over with, and that’s not helpful.
It’s better to be more sophisticated with it and actually name the actual emotion that you’re feeling, sadness, for instance, or fear or anger, because there’s always a purpose behind each of those emotions. There’s a reason and there’s a positive intention from each of your parts, and that’s also a working assumption. Right? It’s a working assumption that we all have a higher self in us and that all of our parts have a positive intention, and that we have parts. Just try it on for size and see how this proves it wrong or proves it right. But you’ve got to go and put the experiments in play to find out whether it’s true or not. [28:52.6]
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That’s the second point, how to access the higher self in you. You can do it from a negative perspective of removing, of having your parts stepping back. It’s called “unblending” in the IFS model, just unblending from the seat of your consciousness, right, the unblending you from your higher self with its parts, so that you’re asking the parts to unblend from you in your true self. [29:55.7]
Then there’s the positive project of building up, building up a habit or conditioning, or getting practice at something, which in this case is meditation, getting practice in entering into a state of compassion or empathy, and getting into a practice of approaching your inner child parts or your vulnerability, and taking the time to close your eyes and go inside and sense inside.
One thing I didn’t mention on the positive project is, once you’re in the process, the therapeutic process, and discovering your parts and beginning to build that relationship with them between your true self and the parts, and maybe even beginning to unblend, I mean, unburden, it’s important to do a daily check-in.
That is, each day, you check in with all of the parts that you’re aware of, and the more of the therapeutic process you do, the more parts you’ll become aware of and the more parts you’ll discover. This is part of the pleasure and the joy of it, discovering new parts of yourself that maybe you kind of knew were there, but you didn’t have a relationship with them, and it’s really awesome when that happens. Then you just add them to your roster, so to speak, your known parts and you check in. [31:08.7]
That could be as quick as just “Hey, how are you doing?” You go inside. You close your eyes. You sense inside. Maybe for some people who are very kinesthetic, there are generally the parts, each of them located in specific parts of your body where there’s sort of a concentration of tension or energy or whatever it is. For me, I’m very visual, so I see my parts in a kind of imaginary world in my mind and I go and visit them there. For some, they’re very auditory, so it’s more voices, and so there you go and just say hi into the voices and they have just a check-in to see that they’re doing okay.
That’s an important way throughout your life, but you can do that every day. You can just do that at the start of your meditations. I do that generally just going down my list of my parts, my roster of parts, and I have over 20 parts now that I check in with each day, and hopefully that will grow over time. I’m just checking in, literally just seeing how they’re doing. [32:01.4]
That’s a really great way of accessing yourself energy, because sometimes you’ll notice, as you’re checking in with your parts, that you’re blended. I’m often blended with a part that I call “the executive” and this part, right from the beginning of the day, is checking my to-do list, looking at my schedule, already thinking ahead, and really likes all of those visualization-type of the old success-type of meditations of visualizing your awesome life 10 years from now, that kind of thing.
When that part is in charge or you’re running with the day, other parts that are more fun-loving or more empathic, or more feelings-focused, feel left out. The checking-in process for me is a really great way of reorienting myself at the beginning of the day and just reminding the executive, Okay, not yet. Just chill out. We’re not getting going yet and we want to take this time to reorient ourselves, and that’s just a good reminder for me. When I miss the check-in, and I often just go right into the business of the day, then I start to get pretty burnt out by the afternoon. [33:03.0]
That’s just a way, another way that you can build up this habit from a positive perspective of building something, not positive/negative as in bad and good, but just removal versus building up. That’s what I mean by those terms. In addition to meditations, various types of guided meditations, you can also practice accessing yourself, your true self and higher self, by checking in with your parts each day or throughout the day.
Whenever something triggers you and you feel unsettled, you can just close your eyes, or find a quiet space and close your eyes, and then go inside and see which parts are being triggered and what it is that they need so forth. It will be really fast to do that when you have built up a strong relationship between your higher self and your parts.
Okay, now moving into the third point, how does this work in an intimate relation? This is how we describe unconditional love. What is it like to be in an unconditional love relationship? [33:59.5]
At the start of this podcast episode, I described how most couples in the modern world are not in an unconditional love relationship. They’re in a transactional relationship of “I’ll scratch your back as long as you scratch mine. The minute you stop scratching mine, I get angry and bitter, and try to blackmail you into scratching mine, and then if you don’t, then I pull out and I get a prenup,” or actually you’ve got to get the prenup before. That’s the typical transactional relationship and that is a recipe for failure, discontent, unhappiness, and not feeling loved. That’s not really loved there. That’s really a contract that’s maybe unspoken.
Okay, so what do we want? You want an unconditional love relationship that is almost effortless. The other way that well-meaning therapists write about love relationships, especially in the past, before they understood about our parts and so on, is that it was hard work. You still find this as a normal theme that it’s a lot of hard work. You’ve got to sit down and do lots of exercises together. You have a list of a hundred questions you’re going to ask each other. You’re going to put a lot of work into it. [35:06.8]
That’s well-meaning and it’s great if both parties are happy to do the hundred questions each weekend or whatever, but generally speaking, that type of old-fashioned couples therapy doesn’t work that well because you’re assuming the couple already likes each other enough to sit down with a workbook and go through a really boring set of questions, or that they’re motivated enough to do that, to work on their relationship in that sense.
There’s another way that a relationship can go and that’s in an unconditional love relationship where you take care of your own parts, and when you’ve done that and your partner is taking care of her own parts, and you’re both being led by your higher selves, then it’s going to be a relatively effortless relationship, in the sense that all of the work is happening inside you and the coming together happens effortlessly because it’s your higher selves interacting with each other. [35:56.3]
Sometimes, of course, and this is actually quite frequent, when your own parts get triggered in the relationship, now as long as one the partners is in self and one of the partners is being led by their higher self, then it will just be the same as if you were talking or being with your own parts, because now your partner’s parts are also part of the family of your parts because you’ve now come together as a couple—and that’s part of the arrangement, and so you can also be with them and build relationships with their parts, also just with the understanding that the ideal, of course, would be that that person is able to have enough self-energy to be with her own or his own parts.
Okay, there’s a great metaphor to explain it all this, because it might sound kind of complicated, especially if you’ve never actually done any of my courses or therapeutic processes in my courses, or you haven’t done any IFS therapy before, and this is a metaphor that comes from a book called You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For: Bringing Courageous Love to Intimate Relationships. This is written by the founder of IFS therapy, Richard Schwartz. [37:01.0]
I’m going to just read a short passage from it where he goes into the “magical kitchen” metaphor, which is a really great way of illustrating how an unconditional love relationship would work.
Okay, Richard Schwartz begins this description of the magical-kitchen metaphor by citing Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements. Of course, he’s drawing on the magical-kitchen metaphor that Ruiz writes about from a different book, not The Four Agreements. Okay, so here we go.
“Don Miguel Ruiz (1999) uses the metaphor of the Magical Kitchen to describe intimate relationships. I will embellish his metaphor to illustrate what happens with our parts. [37:38.3]
“Imagine that you inherited from your parents a magical kitchen in your home from which you can obtain any kind and quantity of food. Because your parents fed you unconditionally, you learned to do the same with your many children. They are happy because they love your food. Your food is so nourishing and satisfying that they never overeat or crave candy or other kinds of junk food. You never use food to punish or motivate them; consequently, they trust that they are worthy of being well fed just because they are your children. They don’t fight because each one knows there is plenty of food for everyone. You also give freely to friends, neighbors, and those in need of food, just for the pleasure of sharing. You know that you don’t need to hoard because your food supply never runs out.”
Okay, that’s just a beautiful description of what it’s like to be led by unconditional love in your life. [38:35.0]
“Then one day a man knocks on your door and offers your children a steady supply of pizza and candy if they will take care of him emotionally. Because you and your kids are so full and you can see that he doesn’t take good care of his own kids, your response is, ‘No, thank you—we have plenty of food of our own.’”
Okay, so I just noticed, in his passage here, he is writing from the perspective of the woman. I’m going to switch it up just because this is the Masculine Psychology Podcast and I know most of you guys listening are men, so I’m going to switch it up for you on the fly. [39:08.2]
“On another day, a different woman knocks. She is like you in that she has many children whom she feeds generously and who are happy and satisfied. She is attracted to the cuisine of your magical kitchen, but she doesn’t need it because she likes to cook and has plenty of food of her own. Her children love playing with yours and would like to live in your house, but because they know that she will care for them no matter what happens with you, they trust her to decide where to live.
“You invite her to share your home, and you love how much the two of you enjoy each other’s cooking. Both sets of children relish the mixed cuisine that now comes from your kitchen.
“Now imagine that you live in a different household. You are very poor and have little food for your children.” [39:56.1]
Okay, now, just in case you’ve already forgotten, this is about your true self and your parts. In this analogy here, this metaphor, your children are your parts, and the ones that get locked in the basement are your exiled, vulnerable parts and your inner child parts, and then the ones that take over the older children are your protector parts. Okay, so I’m going to continue.
“Because they are starving, the youngest and weakest of your kids”—your parts, remember—“cry all the time and beg you to find someone to feed them. Their desperation drives you crazy, and you lock them in the basement so that they aren’t always in your hair and you’re not always reminded of their suffering. That’s the way your parents taught you to handle problem children.”
Notice this is a great description of repression, which is the normal way of dealing with neediness. Right, so your youngest and weakest kids, the youngest and weakest parts are needy and are crying out all the time and begging for a woman to meet their needs, to make them complete and whole. Their desperation drives the protective parts crazy and the protective parts lock them in the basement, and so this is a normal kind of repression. [41:04.1]
“As hard as you try to ignore the sobs of those young ones, however, you can still hear them through the floorboards. The urgency of their need is like a constant gnawing in the back of your mind. Some of your older children lose trust in your ability to take care of the family. They take on adult-like responsibilities, prodding you to work harder, trying to contain or calm the ones in the basement, and searching for food. Because these older ones aren’t equipped to handle this level of responsibility, they become rigid and controlling. They are constantly critical of your work habits and performance, and they expend enormous amounts of energy trying to keep the basement children at bay.
“As the woman with the pizza and candy heads toward your door, the basement children smell the food before she arrives. They go insane with joy at the prospect of being fed and possibly released from their exile in the basement. They idolize the Candy Man and are willing to do anything to please him. You and the older kids are hungry, exhausted, and impressed by how happy the Candy Woman makes the basement children feel. The possibility is very appealing of no longer having to deal with them and instead letting them attach to someone else. [42:14.7]
“Consequently, despite some misgivings about the woman’s demands and the poor quality of her food, you and the older children agree to satisfy her emotional needs in return for steady meals. She turns out to be abusive at times, but your younger kids fear starving and being returned to the basement. Also, while she is increasingly stingy with the pizza and candy, the younger kids are addicted to it. Every time you bring up the topic of throwing her out, they override you.
“Now imagine that the food in this story is really love, and the children are the different parts of you. If you identify with the first parent, who has the magical kitchen, you don’t need to read the rest of this book. That’s because when you love and accept your parts unconditionally—simply because they are in you—they won’t be attracted by the false promises of certain other people. And when you find the right partner, your parts won’t be so dependent, demanding, protective, or easily hurt that they create constant dramas or make you tolerate abuse. Instead, they each will love your partner in their different ways, enriching your experience of intimacy, secure in the knowledge that if they are hurt by her, you are there for them and will deal with him. [43:32.3]
“If you are like most people in this culture, however, you learned from parents and peers to exile certain parts of you. Therefore, the basement of your psyche is filled with love-starved, vulnerable inner children. Because they get so little from you, they will be obsessed with finding someone they imagine can rescue them and, out of their desperation, will blind you to that person’s faults. So they are likely to make you pick Ms. Wrong and then, because they are so needy and vulnerable, will either make you stay with that person too long, will overreact to perceived hurts from her, or will try to control how close or distant she gets to you or to others. [44:14.4]
“So where can you find the equivalent of a magical kitchen—a boundless fountain of love from which your parts can draw? It’s in the last place you would ever think to look: your Self.” (Your true self or higher self.) “But your parts have been convinced by messages from our culture and by the way you’ve treated them in the past that their only hope for finding the love they crave is in the outside world.
“This notion is not entirely a myth. Your parts can get a great deal from another person. But that is only possible if they already have a loving relationship with you. In IFS Therapy, you will learn how to become the primary caretaker of your parts so that your partner can be their secondary caretaker.”
Skipping down now a paragraph. [45:04.1]
“Your partner will appreciate this arrangement because she won’t feel the weight of your emotional dependence or the sting of your rage when she is unintentionally neglectful. Your parts will look first to you rather than her for their sustenance and for comfort when they are hurt. With this arrangement, they can stay calm and not panic when she distances, not fear being hurt when she gets close, and allow her to be who she is rather than make her into the image of the person they have been dreaming of. When she cries, shows fear, or otherwise acts like one of your vulnerable parts, you can lovingly comfort her because you know how to do that with those parts of you. When she is angry, you don’t have to get defensive because you don’t have a nasty inner critic that is agreeing with and amplifying her criticism of you. When she is shy, you don’t begin to judge her since you are accepting of the shy part of you. In other words, because you can love all kinds of parts of you, you can love her even when she’s acting like those parts. It’s all connected—how you relate internally directly translates into how you relate externally and vice versa. [46:15.8]
“Intimacy is often defined as the ability to reveal all aspects of oneself to another and feel accepted. Because you aren’t ashamed or afraid of your vulnerable parts, you can expose them to your partner and experience the joy of being fully known and witnessed by another. When your partner is similarly vulnerable, you can be lovingly present with her but not feel as though you have to fix anything. You can have a relationship in which all parts are truly welcome. Even when your partner distances or is angry, your sensitive parts don’t panic because they trust that whatever happens with her, they still have your love. [46:58.9]
“When all that is the case, you will be able to bask in the radiance of your partner’s love because you won’t fear losing it or being engulfed by it. When life hurts or scares your parts, they have two sources of solace: your Self and your partner. When your partner acts like one of your parents and unhealed wounds make you feel horrible, you are able to speak for, rather than from, those wounded parts because they trust you to represent them well.
“Consequently, you communicate your hurt with clarity and respect, without the blaming or pouting that commonly typifies such interactions. In turn, your partner is able to act in a compassionate manner, which helps your parts revise their beliefs about intimate relationships and unload the pain they carry from the past. In this way, your partner can help you heal without carrying the heavy load of being your healer.”
Okay, beautifully put. What more is there to say? I recommend everybody get this book. Richard C. Schwartz. The title is You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For. [48:07.0]
Actually there is one more point, one more paragraph that I’d like to share from later in the book about the “tor-mentor”, that your partner in an unconditional love relationship is your best “tor-mentor” and he’s using that in a kind of pun. Okay, so what is a tor-mentor?
“… know that it is possible to live with your partner in a very different way.” (From how the rest of the world does.) “When one of you gets hurt, you both focus inside, find the parts involved, witness what those parts want you to know about their current and past pain, and share your discoveries with one another. In doing so, you are clearing your minefields by stepping on the landmines each of you brought to the relationship and then defusing them so they won’t explode again. By stepping on your land mines, you partner becomes your valued tor-mentor” (tormentor) [49:02.3] “—she mentors you by tormenting you. Without her, you wouldn’t be able to find many of the exiles you need to heal. And as you become comfortable speaking to her about your inner experiences with your exiles, after following the trailheads she reveals, you will find her loving acceptance and support sublime. Together you will share a vulnerable and rewarding form of intimacy as partners on a journey of mutual healing and growth. You will be helping each other find and rescue your basement children. Once released, those grateful, delightful inner children form a powerful bond between you that is capable of overriding the typical irritations and differences that exist in all committed relationships.”
That was well put as well. This idea of the tor-mentor, she’s mentoring you by tormenting you, and that’s not the first instance or Richard Schwartz is not the first person or expert to point that dynamic out. [50:01.0]
Probably the best pioneer of that concept or dynamic is Harville Hendrix and his wife, and their classic book, Getting the Love You Want, which is highly recommended and actually that’s the top recommendation on my reading list on my website for relationship books.
There’s also an excellent book by Terrence Real, Terry Real, called The New Rules of Marriage, and there’s a great paragraph on the same dynamic and he uses the term “unfinished business”, which is popularized in Gestalt Therapy. Terrence Real has his own relationship therapy model. I’m going to just read out this one paragraph from him to share with you, from the book, The New Rules of Marriage, Terrence Real.
“We are drawn to people whose issues fit perfectly with our own in a way that guarantees a reenactment of the old familiar struggles we grew up with.”
Then the subheading here is “We all marry our unfinished business.” [51:01.2]
“We all choose our mothers or fathers. We all become our mothers or fathers. Consciously you think, With this person, I can finally be happy. Unconsciously, you’re thinking”—and, more accurately, your parts are thinking—“Aha, a player in the old familiar game. The mad inspired thing about real love is that we all marry our unfinished business and we think we’re the only ones who do. You may believe, in your foolishness, that the couple to the left or the right of you, isn’t going through their version of exactly what you’re going through. You are wrong. You may think that a good relationship doesn’t bring up to the surface every hurt and anger you’ve ever carried inside, but it does. A good relationship is not one in which the raw parts of ourselves are avoided. A good relationship is one in which they are handled, and a great relationship is one in which they are healed.”
Terrence Real put that really well and I’ve already done a four-part video series on this dynamic of what Schwartz calls the tor-mentor, what Gestalt Therapy calls the unfinished business. [52:09.3]
You can find this in my free masterclasses, which you can access from my website, DavidTianPHD.com. You can either fill out the assessment on the front page, the homepage, or you can enter your email into the opt-in forms on various parts of that website or the masterclass. You can also find it from the header, the drop-down menu.
I’ve also got a seminar that’s about as long as this particular episode, about an hour, that’s on my YouTube channel that is about what an unconditional love relationship looks like and it expands on this magical kitchen metaphor. You can go to those if you want to learn more.
Of course, my course, “Rock Solid Relationships”, not only teaches you about it, but actually walks you through the process to access your higher self and to visit with your inner child parts, and to be with your vulnerability and, of course, to have the understanding around all of that what’s going on. [53:00.0]
Just to recap this extra-long episode here:
- The first point that we covered was “What is the higher self?” with the background understanding of the higher self as the only way, the surefire way that you can reliably meet your own needs. What is the higher self?
- Then the second point was “How do you access this higher self within?” and we covered the negative and positive ways of doing it.
- Then the final point was what it looks like to meet your own needs in the context of an intimate relationship. In other words, what does an unconditional love relationship look like? I went into detail reading excerpts from a Richard Schwartz’s book, You Are the One You’ve Been Waiting For, especially on the magical kitchen metaphor, and then on a concept of the tor-mentor, and acknowledging the pioneering work of Harville Hendrix there and a very short paragraph from Terrence Real on that same idea of unfinished business.
Okay, so I’ve already gone over time. There’s plenty more to say about how to create an unconditional love relationship and the various steps for the therapeutic process to prepare yourself for such, and that’ll be in future episodes, as well as many of the episodes we’ve already done here. [54:07.6]
Just before I go, I just want to point out that some of you might be feeling like it’s quite daunting, this whole task of being there for your parts, discovering your vulnerable parts locked in the basement, so to speak, and then working with the older children parts and all of that. Maybe it seems like a lot of work and it usually is. This usually requires, for the average person, many months and years of therapy, if you go at it on a one-hour-a-week basis.
Part of the reason I’ve put out so many online courses, hundreds of hours of material in my online courses, is as a kind of accelerant to accelerate that process, to jumpstart it, to ignite the process for you of that therapeutic goals of discovering or accessing your higher self, of building that relationship between your higher self and your parts, of being comfortable with vulnerability. [55:00.6]
One thing I didn’t mention just because we didn’t have the time is that much of the pre-therapeutic process, so part of the early process, is just getting you good at emotional regulation of being able to improve your distress tolerance, of improving your mindfulness and presence, and being able to just be with your emotions. That’s a big part of it and that’s something that my online courses help with as well. If you want to speed up the process by five to 10 to 20X, you can take my online courses and they will guide you through that process. The best way to do it obviously is an all-access pass, which is called the “Platinum Partnership”.
Okay, in the next episode, we’re going to be getting into how focusing on short-term dating success actually sabotages your success in a long-term relationship. A lot of guys are just focusing on getting lucky, getting laid, hooking up, dating, and the way that they’re doing that is actually setting themselves up for failure when it comes to finding a loving relationship. I’m going to be walking you through why that’s the case and what to do about it in the next episode, so I hope to see you in the next episode. [56:09.2]
Thanks so much for listening, especially to this extra-long one, and if this was helpful to you, please share it with anyone that you think would benefit from it. If you liked it, please leave a review or a rating on iTunes Podcasts. I’d really appreciate that and I love reading the reviews.
Thanks so much for listening here, and I look forward to working with you again in the next episode. Until then, David Tian signing out.
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