2010 was a pivotal year for me.
I got married!
I also got the courage (and the health insurance) to prioritize myself and my aspirations by leaving my stable job to be fully self-employed.
One thing I knew I needed if I was going to go full-time into business for myself was some help.
So I hired a prominent business coach for psychotherapists.
She sent me a book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, Ph.D., a book nearly every entrepreneur I’ve met who’s read it has loved, and one I recommend to many of my clients.
It’s a book on how successful people stop themselves from being even more successful, and how we can stop those self-limiting patterns.
The Big Leap isn’t just about business, but is about our human experience in general, and ascending to new levels of greatness in terms of our happiness, abundance, love and connection.
I’ve read it several times, but it’s been a few years, so I was inspired to re-read it as I prepare for a Masterclass I’m teaching for My Best Relationship Society on the ways we can limit ourselves and how to move past those limits so that we can experience greater levels of happiness, abundance and love in our lives.
For me to read a book more than once, it’s got to be good.
Can you relate?
There’s lots of gems in this one.
There is a section in the book about how successful people tend to have more difficulties others in creating successful relationships.
Now, I challenge any idea of “success” that doesn’t include success in ALL areas of life, particularly relationships, but even so, this finding is not all that unsurprising.
In my work with countless high achievers and well performing individuals and couples over the years, I see it all the time:
Happy relationships are often sacrificed in the name of “success.”
But don’t take my word for it, after all, my demographic includes people looking for help with their relationships, so clearly I have a biased sample.
Hendricks points to research by John Cuber + Peggy Harroff that cites that 80% of 400+ successful people they studied had pretty lousy relationships!
This research is decades old, and we’ve come a long way in the understanding of how to create strong relationships, but even so, it speaks to the fact that it can be especially challenging to be a high achiever and maintain a richly satisfying and fulfilling relationship.
Gay Hendricks offers 6 suggestions for successful people to have successful relationships, which I decided to share with you below. I also added a bonus one (numero 7) that I imagine he would agree with!
1. Take time for yourself
Hendricks notes that we all have the “urge to merge” as well as the urge to be independent and autonomous.
He makes a great point:
“If you can learn to take time off from the relationship consciously, you won’t need to do it unconsciously by starting arguments and engaging in other intimacy-destroying moves.”
He states that by recharging as individuals you’ll have more endurance for higher degrees of intimacy and closeness.
I agree that recharging your batteries is key.
I will say, however, from my experience working with highly successful and achieving couples, one of the main the problems in itself is often “time off” from the relationship.
If you’re feeling too busy to be successful in love, something’s got to give!
If you’ve got to schedule time together to actually make it happen, so be it. It can do wonders.
Just don’t forget time for yourself – apart from your work, apart from your partner, apart from other people – just for you, so that you can feel your best no matter what.
2. Prioritize Speaking The Microscopic Truth…
…ESPECIALLY about your emotions, he says.
So much yes here.
The problem for so many of us is that we tend to discount our emotional experiences and as a result a huge chunks of our experience go missing or get communicated in not-so-helpful ways or misunderstood all together.
If I’m scared about something and I don’t identify or communicate that, that emotion will find its way of presenting itself in other ways, often to my detriment (I might be irritable, frustrated, etc.)
The tendency to not acknowledge and express positive emotions especially toward each other can also be damaging in a relationship.
I cannot tell you how many times I work with couples where one partner cares soooo much about the other person and just assumes the other knows and feels their love and care.
I am met with all kinds of resistance on almost a daily basis when I ask one person to share their microscopic emotional truth with their partner — especially when it’s positive — because it’s just assumed the other person knows.
When I finally wear them down enough to tell their partner (I can be ruthless), their partner is often shocked.
“But it’s so obvious I feel that way,” they might say.
Our truth is often obvious to us, but unless we are clear and expressive about it, what’s the likelihood that it is obvious for others?
“Emotions are the music of the dance lovers do; it helps if the music is clear. Then you can predict each other’s intentions and know how to move together in harmony.” – Dr. Sue Johnson
Communication and connection around your inner experiences and feelings are the building blocks of intimacy.
3. Don’t try to talk yourselves out of your feelings
Make room for your emotions as well as your partners.
This is where so many couples go wrong and one of the reasons why the couple therapy approach known as Emotionally Focused Therapy is so effective.
One of the lies we’ve bought into that ruin our relationships is that cognition is king and that we can think our way through problems in our relationships.
That’s simply not the truth.
Emotions have a wisdom and cycle of their own, make space for them and you’ll be happier, more connected and more fulfilled together as a result.
4. Give yourselves lots of non-sexual touch
Sex is great too, but don’t forget non-sexual touch.
Touch is our earliest language, and our skin is our largest organ.
Touch is ultimately a huge form of communication and connection.
If you wish to read more about touch and some of the research that has been done on it, I share more on this post, otherwise, don’t forget the importance of touch!
5. Consciously ground yourself after intense intimacy
When things get really close and good for many couples, they wind up sabotaging themselves. Too vulnerable? Too good to be true?
What Hendricks calls “Upper Limit Problems” are the main focus of The Big Leap, and this suggestion in particular is about preventing an upper limit problem from sabotaging your happiness together.
In full disclosure, the morning after the first “school night” my now husband shared with me (over a decade ago), I totaled my car on the George Washington Bridge.
Granted, this didn’t sabotage my relationship fortunately, but it was definitely an Upper Limit Problem.
Hendricks suggests consciously taking time to ground yourself after moments and times of intense intimacy because otherwise you might wind up sabotaging such periods with arguments or accidents.
He suggests coming “back to earth” by doing grounding activities such as dancing, cleaning out your closet of earthly possessions, or going for a walk on the surface of the earth.
I like this suggestion, and only wish he wrote the book before that car accident 🙂 (thankfully no one was hurt except for the feelings of a lot of angry New Yorkers in traffic that day)
6. Create a “No-Upper-Limits conspiracy” with friends
Call each other out on times you see Upper Limits creeping up on each other.
Call into question your limiting beliefs.
And…hold each other accountable to not playing the victim role in any of your relationships.
I might also add, employ this conspiracy in your romantic relationship as well, and you’ll continue growing even more happy, abundant and successful together.
The 7th key for successful people to be successful in relationships is from me (and countless others, but not specifically on Hendricks’ list), and one you hopefully may already employ in your life, but remember to use this in your relationship as well:
7. Pay attention and appreciate
These 4 words can improve any relationship, or anything, really.
This requires first being present.
Your presence is not only the best gift you can give your partner, but it’s the best gift you can give yourself, too.
Then, of course, appreciate and express gratitude.
I could go on about the importance of this in all areas of your life and certainly have in previous posts.
The simplicity of noticing and appreciating what you enjoy can be the easiest and most effective thing you can do, yet it’s so simple I think it’s also easy for many of us to forget.
Like I said above, I bet Gay Hendricks would agree about that, as research on gratitude and the science of happiness can’t be wrong.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these 7 tips for successful people to have a successful relationship, most of which was inspired by the book that never quits inspiring, The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear And Take Life To The Next Level, by Gay Hendricks.
Read it today if you haven’t already, and let me know your #1 take away in the comments below.
Here’s to your true 360 degree success, in life, love and beyond,