October 30, 2012

Transparency & Secrecy: What Role Do They Play in Relationships?

Hi all,

Last week, I introduced you to Tahil Gesyuk, an amazing coach who I have had the privilege of getting to know recently. Here is his next post in the series - enjoy!


What's all this buzz about "open relationships"?
Open relating is a foundation in a plethora of alternative relationship styles outside of monogamy. There is a silent and sometimes not so quiet revolution going on around the old paradigm of monogamy.  Some people are in quiet revolt through covert affairs. Others are more up front and out of the proverbial closet huddling in unified fronts scrambling for identity that challenges the status quo. The function that is paramount in this revolution is the distinction between healthy transparency/secrecy and unhealthy transparency/secrecy!

What is the distinction between healthy and unhealthy secrecy?  
There is a natural secrecy that is developed in kids to maintain autonomy and transparency to themselves. Before anyone tells us to be private and or not share something, we develop a natural privacy (a natural instinct to maturate what we don’t know.) 

Unhealthy secrecy is a locked up expression held in longer then the maturation state needed for self inquiry and understanding in healthy secrecy. Some things grow in the dark. Our secrecy is our way of pausing into integrating and understanding ourselves so that we can express in the most authentic matter what represents our relationship to ourselves. 

In unhealthy secrecy, a "lockdown" occurs either because a.) We are caught in a trauma lock that perpetually deems it unsafe to ever express what we perceive or/and b.) The environment is actually not safe to express what needs to be expressed.  

If one of my clients reveal that they are having an affair, this is what we work with.  It is about understanding their relationship to secrecy. Often it has to do with establishing dignified no’s (saying "no" when you actually mean "no" instead of a "yes"). Often relationships with people saying "yes" when they mean "no" end up in private affairs of some kind that their partner has no clue about. It could be with food, people, or some other excursion to have a private moment to find themselves. If you are having an affair or interludes of some kind in private that your partner doesn’t know about, I would get a greater understanding of trauma locks you might be holding in your body. As well as practice authentic no’s in your intimate relationships

What is a trauma lock?
Our traumas are found in our bodies. They are constantly trying to find a way of expressing what has been locked in our cells and nerves of our bodies to be in a place of comfort and deep resonate of the environment we are in. 

Trauma is a natural expression of our body to overwhelm of some kind. For example if you were in healthy function of trauma you would have full expression to an overwhelming event. Imagine a deer being pounced by a predator (terrifyingly overwhelming). The deer would have a sudden impulse to run for its life (Flight). If it managed to run away it would go into a full body shiver and shake off the terror it just went through (Disassociation). The predator, when hearing a noise in the woods, would get very still identifying if their life was in danger or food was around the corner (Freeze) and when noticing the deer would have a sudden grip on survival like his life depended on it (Fight). 

The challenge is our humanity and conditioned responses of culture create a delayed response. Imagine little Johnny crossing the street and a car running out of control is coming right at him. Johnny freezes like a deer in headlights. Mom notices Johnny and yanks him hard away from the approaching car. Johnny falls, skins his knee and starts shaking and crying uncontrollably. Mom, typically from years of suppressed trauma responses herself, lifts Johnny up brushing him off, “You're OK. Stop crying, brave boys don’t cry. Everything is fine honey, mommy is late we need to get going!” Years later when the dots line up and he approaches busy intersections they make Johnny shake uncontrollably, people around him wonder what is wrong with him, and the trauma keeps getting buried deep into his nerves and cells. This is how trauma locks occur, they reveal a frozen moment in time of a traumatic event waiting to be released!

What is the distinction between healthy transparency and unhealthy transparency?
Healthy transparency is where people see us from the inside out. It is how we came into this world exposed, innocent, and fully expressed in our multitude of needs! It is often our most courageous act because it exposes us to potential bias and ridicule of our most tender and vulnerable parts that we typically keep safe so that others can’t do us harm. 

As children this is a function that most of us knew well. In fact most adults squirm and wince at the display of transparency from children. Imagine little Johnny asking in a voice that is loud enough for people to hear, “Why is that lady fat?” or “That man was so mean to you mommy. Why did you kiss him?” There are these moments of sincerity and truth as we see them as kids before we learn how to censor. 

If we had healthy modeling, we would be acknowledged for what we shared (maintaining our relationship to our authentic voice that represents us to the world). We would have been modeled how to have bridges of empathy and compassion for others. However, because our parents and mentorship around our upbringing want to keep us safe and acclimated to our environment, they indoctrinate us in the ways of secrecy, setting up all sorts of contracts within us about what is appropriate and what is not. 

Often the secrecy that is passed down to us makes it challenging to be transparent to ourselves. As we start to lack confidence in our own transparency, a unhealthy kind of transparency is born! We lose natural timing with it. Our sharing comes out green from coming out to soon or spoiled from being locked up for so long. If it comes out too soon we tend to not have the authorship of it, yet we get seduced by the praise or ridicule of others. 

In listening to a transparent share of something green you support it like you would a preemie. You can create a kind of incubation outside the womb for the sharing and model healthy privacy about the matter by keeping it to yourself and encouraging the sharer to do the same. If the transparency comes out spoiled, a byproduct of unhealthy secrecy, a treasure-trove of backed up emotions (emotions = energy in motion) can be vented. 

To be able to support the sharer, the listener must have a capacity to ground the shares that have a lot of backed up energy, much like a lightening rod grounding a strong electrical current. The sharer, sharing something that has been held in too long, has many bursts of emotional tsunamis and storms ready to burst forth at a moment’s notice. (I often recommend professional support around uncovering long held back expressions that have been locked for decades.) 

It is important to know your capacity and limits for the support and empathetic ear you give! Yet the support of encouragement by being a safe person to have the sharer open up something that has been locked up for a long time is invaluable.

How do I harness the understanding of healthy transparency in an open relationship?
If you are in non-monogamous relating it is important to understand your relationship to transparency because typically this is more emphasized and leads to many misunderstandings. Often this has to do with saying more authentic yes's.  Many of the challenges that people run into in alternative relating is saying "yes" when they really mean "no."  As your yes's get more authentic, your transparency will become more natural and well-timed rather than premature, leaving you more vulnerable in a way that often has you feel you need to catch up to yourself.

No matter what style of relating you choose, it is healthy to question assumptions regarding how we “have” to or “ought” to relate. The less assumptions we have the more room we have to create the model of relating that works for us with someone we deeply care about. The more open in our relating we will be, creating greater depths and intimacy.


Tahil has a passion for bringing love, connection,and health into people’s lives. With over 15 solid years of coaching experience, he is committed to bringing forth the radiance in each human being. As the director of the Intimacy Forum, Tahil Gesyuk is dedicated to teaching you the language of creating extraordinary relationships that impact the world in a loving and effective way.

The Intimacy Forum produces events and trainings around affection and connection, bringing a unique synthesis of full sensory and full body learning around *Heart-intimacy*, connection and affection.

For more info, please visit our website: http://www.intimacyforumtraining.com 

October 24, 2012

How Do I Spot My Life Partner?

Hi all,

I am so happy to introduce you to Tahil Gesyuk, an amazing coach who I have had the privilege of getting to know recently. Tahil has years of experience and training in the areas of relationship, intimacy, affection and connection. I am so excited to share with you his series of posts for these next four weeks. I know you are going to learn so much from him, so read on!!


Being a relationship and intimacy coach for over 15 years, I thought I had heard and seen it all. Yet, when I came to a gathering of relationship coaches, I decided to take the opportunity and ask, “What advice would they give for someone who is looking for a life partner?” I could hear crickets in the room! Then why am I asking this?

I got a distinct sense that looking for a partner that you spend the rest of your life with is not something one would realistically seek.  With bleak stats like these shared in this article and the fact that most couples who seek counseling and relationship coaching are in many severe breakdowns that warrant a separation as the healthy alternative, I believe many relationship coaches have settled for the “For-the-time-being relationship models” of relating.

If you are looking around and seeing your friends married and you are not, you might be falling for the same frame of mind those coaches did at that convention! I believe it takes tremendous courage in modern times to commit to a lifelong partnership let alone have the ability to spot the potential of one when it presents itself.  So the two functions I would like to talk about in how to spot a potential life partner in your life are courage and leadership!

Courage is about being aware of your fear as it is without distorting it. In other words, making it bigger then it is or minimizing it! If you augment your fear, you typically will find yourself blocked from committing (not a favorable state if you are looking for a life partnership.) If you end up minimizing your fears you give birth to arrogance and commit to something you typically don’t have the capacity to deliver the support and nurturing required for the commitment that is given.(This is typically why the states above happens in marriages.)

When you experience fear as it is, naked without augmenting or minimizing it, courage naturally arises through the butterflies in your stomach no different than when you were a kid on a swing or engaging in some play where glee and excitement where unleashed by facing the unknown! In what I call “sober loving”, one of the foundational characteristics of a potential life partner, there is a mutual capacity to feel fear as it is!

Leadership is seeing things as they are and seeing how they could be better! I often say to my clients if you want to check out the longevity of a partnership see how you relate in breakdown. Breakdown happens when we don’t see eye-to-eye, when we don’t agree. Your capacity to have a breakthrough in breakdown with each other consistently over time that gets better and better is what creates the space for you to maintain the relationship with yourself.  

The biggest complaint in relationships that split and is equally felt between both men and women is that we lose the relationship with ourselves by relating with others. Leadership in breakdown is to create what I call “structures for success” where all parties benefit by getting their needs and core values met. Leadership is also needed in seeing how things are working great and seeing how they could be even better for everyone. When relationships split and the comment is, “I feel like we have outgrown each other,” it is this capacity of coming together to consistently move forward what is working together and building on that that is typically lacking.

Marriage unleashes many stories for different people, but in the end, it comes down to owning our courage and our leadership together that brings about excitement and duration over time together. If you are looking for a lifelong committed partnership that augments and supports your life, take stock of your courage and leadership. Notice how well it is met by the people you meet.  If it is met well over time there is a tipping point where commitment is made and that commitment is for life!


Tahil has a passion for bringing love, connection,and health into people’s lives. With over 15 solid years of coaching experience, he is committed to bringing forth the radiance in each human being. As the director of the Intimacy Forum, Tahil Gesyuk is dedicated to teaching you the language of creating extraordinary relationships that impact the world in a loving and effective way.

The Intimacy Forum produces events and trainings around affection and connection, bringing a unique synthesis of full sensory and full body learning around *Heart-intimacy*, connection and affection.

For more info, please visit our website: http://www.intimacyforumtraining.com 

October 10, 2012

How Do You Avoid Conflict in Relationships?

One of the most common questions I get from my relationship clients is "How do we stop fighting? How can we avoid conflict?"

Well, one thing to understand is the more we focus on the "problem" the more the problem digs its claws in and keeps its hold on us. David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz point out in their article, “The Neuroscience of Leadership,” that:
  • Focus is power. The act of paying attention creates chemical and physical changes in the brain. 
  • Expectation shapes reality. People’s preconceptions have a significant impact on what they perceive.
If what we ruminate upon has a significant impact on how we perceive situations and, moreover, our very brain chemistry, then we need to pay particular attention to what we are focusing on. 

So, one of my first responses to this question about conflict is always to turn the attention away from what is not working and instead focus on what is.

In her article “10 Ways to Perk Up Your Relationship”, Darby Saxbe points out that we get plenty of advice about what not to do in relationships:
"Don't nag. Don't stonewall. Don't blame. Don't leave the toilet seat up, don't squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle, and definitely don't assume he's that into you when he's just not. Well, don't listen.

The happiest couples focus on do's, not don'ts. Rather than just steering clear of negative interactions, they actively work to build positivity into their relationships." 
So, if you are stuck in negativity and focused on what’s not working, take this opportunity to play a new game in your relationship! If you are not sure how to get started, you can do a quick reflection exercise by asking yourself:

“What have I been out to prove about my relationship? What do I want to prove instead?”

“What have I been out to prove about my partner? What do I want to prove instead?”

Then, start a log so you can keep track of all of the moments when something is done or said that supports what you are now out to prove. Before long, you will begin to have a broader perspective about your relationship and partner rather than one that is hindered by negative tunnel-vision.

You can also check out the ten options Darby offers:
  1. Be grateful
  2. Poke fun at each other.
  3. Capitalize on good news.
  4. Use your illusions.
  5. Find your ideal self—in your partner.
  6. Notice what’s new about your partner.
  7. Put it in writing.
  8. Provide support in secret.
  9. Get back in touch.
  10. Look at yourself.
Regardless of how you do it, take a moment today to invest in your relationship’s positivity bank account. The returns are excellent!

October 3, 2012

The Poetry of Rage

I recently posted a series in which I shared the story of Rebecca O'Donnell, author of Freak: The True Story of an Insecurity Addict and a Beyond Survivor.

There was such a positive response that I wanted to now take a moment to share with you Rebecca's reading of one of her most powerful blog posts, "The Poetry of Rage."

It is a look into the deep levels of rage, an emotion that many of us feel, seldom name, and even less often admit to others we feel.   

Thank you, Rebecca, for giving of yourself so openly and with such vulnerability.

*contains sensitive material that may be triggering*

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