And Introduction To Rekindle

As Esther Perel, the Belgian Psychotherapist, says,

“The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.”

In the coming weeks, each Wednesday, we will share excerpts from our upcoming book launch and online program “Rekindle, Living Without Fear, Loving Without Limits.”

Many thanks to Lucy Martinez and Matt Zemon for assisting with the heavy lifting of the marketing and branding for our program. Lucy and Matt intervened mercifully and saved me from my worst instincts. Kudos to my writing partner and sidekick on this grand adventure, Ms. Anuradha Gandhi.

My husband, Rich Russakoff, deserves all the credit in the world for his consistent, compassionate support and enthusiasm for life, love, and learning.

So what is this Rekindle “stuff” all about?

Relationships are messy and unpredictable. The marriage of 2022 is full of challenges that didn’t exist in 1922. The last 100 years of human history have entirely changed the relationship climate without a clear set of “new rules” to step into.

Modern relationships turn into sinking ships far too often, and the odds can seem stacked against us.

50% of marriages in the USA end in divorce.

60% of second marriages end in divorce.

73% of third marriages end in divorce.

Yikes!

Once upon a time, marriage was the norm for adults in America. But now, for the first time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking these numbers in 1976, there are more single Americans than married Americans. That is a huge change. About 50.2 percent — or 124.6 million American adults — are single. In 1950, that number was about 22 percent. Today, for many, the companionship provided by a pet replaces spouses. Pets are often described as providing companionship, emotional support, security, or a sense of “home.”

What an odd disconnect. Two of the three top-grossing motion pictures of all time are Titanic, and Avatar, blockbuster films with love stories at the core. Although we are suckers for a great love story, we struggle to create one for ourselves.

This was my problem as well.

The great news is that it is possible to be in intimate contact with another human being and be in harmony with oneself and the other. Hallelujah!
As the saying goes, it is simple but it’s not easy.

The experience of discovering and uncovering what it means to be elastic in a marriage is the blueprint for the Rekindle program. And Rich can certainly testify that we have stretched ourselves in growing into what we share today.

And what we are sharing today is well worth the effort. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks as we share more about the challenges and rewards of being in a sustainable renewable relationship full of passion, connection, and romance. It’s delicious.

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Rekindle Lesson: Emotional Currency – The Real Deal

Myth: Other people can tell you what to think or how to feel.

Truth: No one has the right to tell you what to think or interpret how you feel, or dictate what feelings are appropriate.

Think of your emotional life as a bank; you put in the emotions that feel good to you (joy, gratitude, empathy). And, like most banks, there are fees. Sometimes you deal with tough but necessary emotions, like anger or fear, two emotions that can drain your account. Like an actual bank, your account belongs to you and is your business. No one has the right to access your account; how you spend your emotional currency is up to you.

You can decide what you put in your emotional bank account and what you take out. If you find that you are taking too many withdrawals and not making enough deposits, then it’s time for a reset. If your bank account were close to being overdrawn, you would immediately stop withdrawals and focus on getting money back into that account. It is the same with your emotional bank. You choose when and how to fill yourself up.

People often make the mistake of thinking that if they are close to someone, they have the right to influence that person’s emotions. It can be challenging and overwhelming if family, friends, and coworkers feel that they have unrestricted access to your emotional bank. If they assume they can reach into your account and make changes, you must hold the line and let them know that is not true.

You are the only person who can decide what you think and feel. Are you spending your emotional currency wisely? Are you letting other people make withdrawals and deposits without your consent?

Here are a few ways to monitor the usage of your emotional currency:

Take time to make sense of your thoughts & experiences. Process your emotions at your rhythm and pace. If someone asks for your emotional currency (input or output) before you are ready, you can say no. “No, I am unable to do that at the moment.” The extent of the explanation is up to you.

Talk to and spend time with people that make you feel valuable. Your worth is inherent to who you are. Your emotional currency (whatever you feel) is a part of you. Be with people that honor your emotional value.

Keep your word to yourself. If you’ve refilled your emotional bank account, honor it. Pay attention to your emotional needs. Do the things that make you feel emotionally wealthy.

Whenever you are working towards a goal or helping someone, check in with yourself and ask: is this a withdrawal or a deposit? Just inquire. Then decide on how much or how little to keep giving or doing.

You oversee your emotional currency. You can be prosperous, or you can be impoverished. It’s all in your hands. The myth that someone else has power over your emotions is officially debunked! 

Now the real deal begins; how do you want to build up your emotional bank account? The sky’s the limit, or rather, consider that there are no limits to your emotional wealth. Really. What do you want to feel, and what do you want to create? The power is yours.

From Almonds To Acorns 

To fulfill the purpose of your acorn, you must overcome your almond. (“What the heck is she talking about this time?” –say Rich and Gena as they edit this morning’s post!) 

Allow me to explain. 

While researching and gathering materials for our upcoming book launch, I discovered a few gems that sparked my imagination. 

The amygdala, also known as the lizard brain, is a roughly almond-shaped mass of gray matter inside each cerebral hemisphere. As one of the functions of the amygdala is to assess and respond to environmental threats, it has the important role of processing emotions such as fear, anxiety, and aggression. 

An acorn is traditionally a symbol of growth and unlimited potential. It possesses the “oak knowledge,” having all that it needs within to create the mighty oak. The acorn teaches us about our potential – demonstrating that one acorn seed can grow into a massive oak and build an entire forest.

Success in our personal and professional lives depends on learning when to discount the almond, your fears, and focus on the acorn, your potential. 

It’s no wonder the almond is so dominant in society these days. We are born into fear. We are raised in fear. And on one level, fear makes perfect sense. We are mortal beings. There are 10,000 nuclear warheads parked on our planet, with irrational authoritarians at the helm of governments. 

The climate crisis we face is no less threatening. At some point in the last twenty-four hours, we passed a new benchmark with the population reaching eight billion. 

All this is true. And it is equally valid that we can create new solutions to these old problems. 

If we understand fear as a signal, we can respond to our emotions by fighting or fleeing.  

The trick is to ensure that the little acorn lizard brain doesn’t run the whole show all the time. 

Suppose we live a life with no purpose beyond the material world, no connection to our inner life, and no spiritual practice, religious faith, family, or community. In that case, we are more likely to be influenced by the fears and free-floating anxiety of the lizard brain. 

When we learn how to live in harmony and peace with the people around us, we can step up and into our full potential, our acorn. 

Bonus Exercise: How to Get Out of your Lizard Brain 

The simplest way to conquer the effects of the lizard brain is to breathe deeply, rhythmically, and consciously. 

One method to accomplish this is known as the 4-7-8 breathing method: 

  • Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose to a mental count of four. 
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven. 
  • Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for a count of eight. 
  • Repeat the process three more times for a total of four breath cycles.

So what will you choose today, your almond or your acorn? 

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