89: How To Make (Dis) Ease


Today we tackle ease, dis-ease, and urgency <em>and</em> we examine what helps us make both ease and dis-ease in our life and relationships. You might be surprised at some of the common things that can kick up urgency. Sneak peek: personal responsibility, thoughts, and emotions. What’s a girl to do? Listen to find out.



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Speaker 1: How to make love? Now, is that from recipe or from scratch?

Speaker 2: This is How To Make Love. A show that tests the edges of what love is. The borders it can cross and it's hidden costs and shadows. Fuck finding it or falling into it. Our future depends on making it.

laura: Hey friends, welcome to a podcast designed to give your love justice and courage muscles a really good workout. I'm Laura. I'm glad we're here together. And speaking of together, this month's Ask Me Anything in Office hours was so fucking beautiful. It was amazing to witness this group of strangers creating honestly like more intimacy and courage and connection in 60 minutes, then some of us get to experience in years in some of our closest relationships.
So if you didn't know, I host a monthly Open Office Hours through Patreon every single month. You are welcome to come and be a part of it. You go to Patreon, you type in How To Make Love, and you make a pledge, which can be as little as a dollar a month. I recently changed my Patreon so that everybody gets the same benefits, no matter how much you are able to give. So if you want to come be a part of this Monthly Office Hours, everybody is welcome. And it's a really special experience.
All right. I want to talk about ease and sense of urgency and dis-ease and some things I'm learning a. Just share all of that with you in the hopes of helping you avoid some of the mistakes that I have been making recently and help you kind of rid some urgency toxins from your life and your body and your heart and relationships and your practice of justice.
So let me share a little bit of background. My partner, Renee, and I just celebrated our five year anniversary this month. We've been reflecting on the health of our relationship and our aspirations for our relationship and how to practice even more courageous and liberatory love in how we care for each other. Renee and I believe that the way we love each other in our relationship is a part of where we train to be in the world, in more liberatory ways. We see our relationship as both a refuge and a laboratory, and we learn about liberation together through and in our relationship. We believe that the what and the how of what we learn together informs and supports our practice of liberation out in the world. It's really beautiful. It's also really challenging.
As we've been reflecting on the practice of how we love each other, one of the things that we've noticed is how important it is for each of us to experience ease in our relationship. Like how much ease is a part of what cultivates our ability to be liberatory together and out in the world. Now I want to distinguish, it's not that we believe our relationship should be easy, but that we both want and deserve ease, as a way of being, as a byproduct as a day to day experience in the relationship. We expect that our relationship be able to cultivate and produce ease.
So as we looked at that a little more closely and examined to what extent our relationship is aligned with ease or produces ease or supports ease, and so on. We saw a concern that honestly surprised me a little bit when I got a good look at it. We saw that sense of urgency has been working its way into our communication, our relating to each other, our relating to our polyamory and really eroding at the possibility of experiencing and cultivating more ease together on purpose. I'll be honest, this really surprised me. I don't think folks who know us would describe either of us as urgent or our relationship as urgent. We both think a lot about urgency in our work and out in the world, but I realized I have much better skills and a lot more practice at catching urgency and creating ease in professional sectors. I work so much with leaders and organizations around culture. We talk all the time about this. All that to say, I've got some good practice professionally.
I also have some good practice personally, in terms of thinking about ease and urgency with regard to stress, my stress levels as a highly anxious human. Which just means I've got some muscles that have developed over time at examining how I move around in the world when I'm not present, or when I'm feeling a lot of stress or anxiety. I can see urgency, use those things as portals. I know I'm susceptible in those areas, but it hadn't really dawned on me, that sense of urgency could be playing out in my intimate relationships in really subtle, sneaky ways. Especially because Renee and I have a very gentle relationship overall. So when we discovered this, I was kind of taken aback. But my friends, as we know, as with all systems of oppression and their byproducts, once we start to see something more clearly and become open to seeing it more clearly, we start to see it everywhere.
What do I mean by ease? What is it? What are we talking about here? Well, Webster defines ease as, the freedom from labor or difficulty. I really like the first part of that definition, freedom from labor or additional labor. I asked Renee how she defines it and she said, "It's the absence of struggle. It's the presence of gentleness. It's the practice of not struggling against something or sort of resting in acceptance." I think that's super beautiful. I would probably define ease for myself as the possibility in presence of spaciousness of space and ironically, or maybe not. That's often how I define love, the ability to make space and spaciousness. It's not that ease is easy, necessarily. In fact, sometimes I think it's a really, really, really rigorous practice.
Life is often difficult and challenging as it is. So making space for ease in the midst of already challenging life can be really, really hard. But I believe you can bring ease into difficulty. It doesn't make what's difficult easy, but it's applying space and spaciousness or gentleness to that difficulty. It's the absence of additional labor, not struggling against the difficulty. So ease is being there in what is, including challenge, without the additional struggle.
So what does this have to do with relationships? Where do we create additional struggle? Where do we create unnecessary labor for ourselves or our loved ones? By the way, before we get it too far down this path, I mean, relationships broadly. I'm going to be talking about a particular romantic relationship, but we can apply the content of this conversation to any relationship, including, and maybe especially, the relationship we have with ourself.
So here are some of the ways I have been accidentally, mostly, using urgency to create dis-ease in my relationships. Number one, communicating from a place of stress. Number two, procrastinating on decisions because I'm hesitant to own my own needs, or I'm afraid to feel some of the feelings that come with those decisions. Then creating this pressure cooker in a timeline to have to make the decision quickly or take action quickly. Number three, feeling such a personal sense of responsibility that I do one of two things. Either fall into catastrophic thinking because my responsibility has kicked into overdrive or sort of martyr myself and then get to this really desperate and urgent place where I'm totally depleted from giving more than I can and I'm just grasping at things.
This one is a really big deal for me. I've talked about my sense of responsibility before on the show, how and why I value it, how and why it can be really beautiful, how and why I can cause problems. This tendency to generate urgency is a big problem it causes. I feel so responsible or project so much responsibility onto myself or the situation that I can fall for the lie that I need to urgently do something, to take some kind of action right now to fix something right now. It's like this cat and mouse game I can get stuck in. It's hard to catch because I can also trick my brain and body to say, "Oh, but I need to do these things or be this way because I'm taking good responsibility, I'm taking things so seriously, I'm really prioritizing this person or this situation." It's deceptively easy for me to chalk this up to being a good or responsible person.
So I really encourage you to think about this in your life. Where does a sense of personal responsibility put you into overdrive? Where might you be sort of plowing over others, bulldozing over others or not taking in feedback or not slowing down or overly sacrificing your needs, et cetera? Sit with that for a bit. Because my hunch is, as you see it, your initial instinct may be to justify it. I'm not saying those tendencies aren't justifiable. But what I know about humans, including myself, is that we so badly want to be seen as good. When we race to justify something, there's usually some juicy stuff below it. But to see the juicy stuff clearly, we have to shut up and sit still and observe the thing closely without trying to interfere or make it go away or excuse it. I was surprised by what I found when I decided to be willing to examine the role that responsibility plays in my life.
If I'm totally honest with you, sometimes it leads me to brave and liberatory places that value of responsibility. But more often than not, it's functioning in my life as a mechanism of control. It's creating unhelpful shame, it's projecting itself onto others, even though they haven't asked me to be responsible for them or their needs. It sneaks into paternalism and patriarchy and holds hands with all kinds of wonky things. So have a look, see what's up.
Okay, another way I can erode at ease or fuel urgency or create additional labor for myself or others is when I believe my thoughts without questioning them. And when I believe that just because I'm feeling something or thinking something, means I need to take action on it. Sometimes emotions are loud, sometimes they're scary, sometimes the bigness of those emotions can make us think that we have to do something about them right then and there. And maybe that's true. But a lot of times that belief that just because we think a thing or feel a thing means we've got to act on it right away. A lot of times that belief is functioning as an avoidance mechanism. Feelings can be hard to feel, as in it's a difficult practice to feel and metabolize emotions. Some emotions are really uncomfortable to feel. But even the pleasant feeling ones can be difficult to actually feel in our bodies and metabolize.
I have a ton of content on helping you feel feelings in this podcast, in the older episodes. But what I want to point out here is that just because you feel a thing or think a thing, doesn't mean you have to take action on it. Remember friends, I'm teaching what I most need to learn, I need these reminders. I fall for this all the time. I feel a thing or think a thing, and then my sense of responsibility comes along for the party and is like, "You've got to do something about this and be responsible for it." Or, "You've got to communicate this right away to be an integrity." Then I'm just down a slippery slope of running away from an emotion, feeling heightened responsibility, feeling a heightened emotional or motive state of being, and trying to communicate from that place or make decisions from that place. It's a recipe for disaster. Or at least a recipe for creating a lot of additional labor for myself and sometimes others. Remember, that's the definition of dis-ease. Creating unnecessary, additional labor and generating unnecessary sense of urgency.
So these are just a few ways of many that I'm getting a good look at how I bring urgency into my intimate relationships and how I erode at my own sense of ease. And at the sense of ease that my partners want to be experiencing and deserve to experience. So then, how do we make ease? How do we create less additional and unnecessary labor for ourselves and others in our relationships? Well, first let's start with where we just landed a minute ago, watch out for those urgent emotions, I'm putting air quotes around urgent. Emotions that are big and loud and feel urgent. Those emotions are important and necessary, and they tend to trick us into thinking that we've got to do something about them.
One of the biggest things my therapist has taught me over time, is that just because I feel a thing or think a thing or realize a thing, doesn't mean I have to do anything about it. Sometimes we just have to train our brain not to be so reactive to emotions, to thoughts, to distractions. We react and react and react all day to stimuli. That can create a huge disruption to ease when we're not conscious about it.
So first, really work to metabolize and be with your feelings. Versus trying to escape them or act on them right away. But there's a second point here that could get lost, which is working to be non-reactive. Now I don't mean apathetic or indifferent, but I do mean some of us get hot. We react quickly, we put our bodies and hearts into this defensive stance and take on a reactive way of being. When we're in that place, we're much less grounded, we're much less seated in compassion, we're on sort of a high alert. And high alert as a state of being, even an unconscious state of being is a really, really hard place to create ease from.
I know a lot of us have learned to be on high alert through trauma, through surviving injustice, through surviving intergenerational poverty or wounds or harm. So I'm holding all of us with a lot of tenderness here. Many of us have learned to survive and cope by being on high alert. But the problem is, for most of us, for long past whatever trauma taught us that we needed to be on high alert, but we're still using that survival mechanism. Even though we've outgrown it and even though it causes problems in our relationship.
So when I say train in being non-reactive, this is what I mean. The un-training of the state of being and our bodies and our hearts and our minds of being on high alert, of being posted to react, of taking up defense. I think this is such an essential topic for our lives and our practice of ease, and also really specifically for our practice of liberation and justice. So I plan on doing an entire episode about it soon. But for now, if this conversation isn't poking at you in some way, I encourage you to rewind and listen again and be open to reflecting on where you take a posture, take a position, a stance of reactiveness. Because as you follow the thread, you'll likely see places where that's eroding the possibility of ease in your own life and in your relationships.
Here are a few reflection questions that might help and they're big and juicy, so feel free to pause in between and write them down. Number one, in what moments, topics or relationships do you tend to feel particularly reactive? Number two, where in your life do you feel like you need to be on high alert? Number three, what emotions tend to make you jump to action? Number four, what did you have to believe in the past in order to survive or cope with hardship that you're now ready to let go of? Which beliefs would you like to let go of? And which belief would you rather have instead? When you think and believe it, does it create ease in your body? That was a whole bunch of reflection questions for that one kind of thread of reflection.
Number five, what are your unique reactionary tactics? Like if I were observing you when you're in a state of reactivity, what do you uniquely do? And last, number six, where in your life, and in particular, in your relationships, do you take on or make things a little extra complicated? Where could you simplify? Where might you be creating additional work for yourself or others? And who could you ask to offer some compassionate, outside perspective on the topic?
Okay, I'm tempted to share more ways that you can work to intentionally create ease and chip away at urgency and dis-ease, but I'm going to hold off. Because I think examining where you posture to react and examining how you relate to your thoughts and feelings and examining your relationship with, and two, responsibility. Those three things alone, they're giant topics and they're likely going to give you years of insight, if you mind them really deeply.
Remember friends, everything we tackle on this podcast, all the content, it affects our relationships with others, it affects our relationship with ourself, it affects how we make love in our lives, and it affects how we practice. Everything, including justice and liberation. Find the ties, find the connections. How concretely does un-training and reactiveness make you a better practitioner of justice? How does it make you more courageous? How does ease make you more loving? And don't forget, you can send me your questions anytime. Just click the speak pipe link in the show notes, or even better, join a group of like hearted people who keep chewing on this stuff all month long, by signing up for Patreon. All right, boos. Get to work on making more ease in your life and in your relationships. I'll be doing the practice alongside you. So much love and bye for now.