There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way who nods at them and says, “Morning boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”
As people, the closer we are to something and the more wrapped up in it we become, the harder it is to see what’s really going on. Like the fish in the water – if you’re busy swimming in your own stuff you may not even realize that you’re in it, and how it’s affecting you.
The most obvious and important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.
This is especially true for our romantic relationships. Whether you’re single or coupled, your romantic relationship is probably one of the things closest to your heart. And if you’re having challenges it can be hard to see what’s really at the core of that problem. For example, I work with a lot of single people who keep having the same unpleasant dating experiences over and over. Almost universally these people think that it’s something out there that’s the problem – all the good ones are taken, people just don’t care like they used to, things like that. But what I’ve found is that really it has more to do with how they’re showing up in the world. Things that they don’t even realize they’re doing. And once my clients begin to gain some awareness around how they show up and begin to change it, they start meeting the kind of people they really want to be with and have greater relationship success.
Ultimately want the same thing – we want to be in love, with someone who loves us, and we want all of the joy and passion and fun that comes with it to last. But for now I invite you to consider – What if you’re swimming in water and don’t even realize it?
Have you ever met someone and you just get a bad vibe from? Like you don’t even really know them, but you can just tell there’s something off and you’re kind of on your guard? You see people are kind of like radio broadcast towers. We all put out a certain energy that everyone else around us naturally picks up on. And the closer we get to someone, the easier it becomes to pick up on those vibes. If you’ve been married for 10 years you can usually tell when your spouse is angry or sad even if they don’t tell you. So…
What kind of vibe are you putting out to the world right now?
Over the past 25 years there’s been a lot of research on how to measure those vibes. And can now categorize different ways of being in the world.
The first one is what I call the Woe is Me mode. People who show up with this kind of energy tend to complain – a lot – and nothing is ever going their way. There’s a lot of frustration, sadness, and loneliness. These people are very draining to be around, and they tend to be very needy. They also have a very high level of doubt – about everything. It’s like they can’t see the positive, and even if they do find something positive it’s always tainted with something else negative.
A step up from that is like having on Boxing Gloves. You’re always in some sort of combat mode, ready to trade punches, use snide comments, cut other people down. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and you’re going to win and come out on top no matter what. You may not always fight, but you’re ready for it, and eventually you just get used to it. Interestingly, people like this tend to attract other fighters, which just confirms their world view that fighting and having winners and losers is just how life works.
Keep in mind we’re talking about how people show up in life. Most of us can just tell when someone else is angry, or sad. And that kind of energy is the exact opposite of sexy, or attractive, or the kind of thing that you just want to be around all the time.
I call the next phase Happily Never After. It’s like you’re just kind of making do with where you are and what you have even though you don’t really like it. People tend to feel very stuck here, like they know what it is that they want and just can’t seem to make it happen, but they’re willing to settle for it because they can’t see a way out, or they’re afraid to lose what little bit of happiness they have. There’s a vision of how things could be better, and a lot of fear around how things might be much worse if we reach for what’s good. So they stay so-so and safe, but life is never truly great.
You may know people who are in Martyr Mode. These are the people who are natural givers and caretakers, and they certainly have a lot of love to give. But they also have a tendency to give too much, and to take care of themselves too little, so that any relationship they get into is out of balance and can be unhealthy. Givers tend to attract people who are needy, and eventually the giver will crash and burn.
Now, I could go a LOT more in-depth into these areas, and honestly there’s a lot of grey space – there always is when it comes to human emotions. It’s important to note that people tend to shift within a range of these phases. Someone who has on their boxing gloves isn’t ALWAYS looking for a fight. Maybe they only go into combat mode when they’re afraid they’re going to lose something that’s important to them, so they have to fight to protect what they want. But where you spend the majority of your time is the kind of vibe that you are unconsciously putting out into the world, and that’s what determines how other people respond to you, and how attracted they are to you.
The secret to seeing the water that you’re swimming in is to practice increasing your awareness. And as a coach one of my jobs is to help people gain that awareness. To do that I use what I call the Intimacy Index assessment. It’s a tool that helps people discover where they are in that range, and gives them the opportunity to chart a course and then take real action to become the kind of person who is just inherently attractive, which is what one of the most fun modes, Living it, and Loving it, is all about.
People who radiate with this energy are naturally attractive. They’re the ones who just seem to have all the luck. They’re naturally positive, but are also realistic and grounded. They usually have a very clear sense of who they are and what they want and how they are contributing their gifts to the world. These people are genuinely happy no matter what’s going on in their lives, and do not settle for anything less than real passion, joy, and love. Their relationships are balanced, fun, and light. And this is the place that most people who want to create long term love strive for.
If this speaks to you, or if you want to know more about how YOU show up in life, then I want to give you the opportunity to take it deeper. Take my Intimacy Index Assessment – it’s specifically designed to measure how you’re showing up in your life, and will explain why you’re getting the relationship results that you’ve been getting.
Once you can see clearly the water you’re swimming in, you will finally be able to achieve the results your heart has always desired.