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Every Relationship has Shared Stories at its Heart – What Are Yours?

Phil and Maude -- peace and lovePHIL: I am giving a talk this week on cooperation in society and how it requires both trust and shared intention between people. The intention comes from our shared stories about who we are and what our goals are.

The same forces apply in relationships, too. It helps tremendously to hold the same stories with your partner about how the world is, whether you’re Bonnie and Clyde, Thelma and Louise or Bert and Ernie. They provide the maps that you use to navigate in the world. It’s often not obvious what your stories are because they are rooted in feelings, but finding words to describe them will help in recognizing the role your stories play in your life and make you feel more grounded.

For Maude and I, one story is inner peace. In the world, peace is taken to be an absence of conflict, but on a personal level, it is a visceral experience of calm. We each feel it in the presence of the other because we have come to recognize a kindred spirit. It persists because we choose peace every time. Why wouldn’t we? But whether it arises from intention or grace, we know it is possible and try to spread it as much as possible, one relationship at a time. This holiday is an ideal time to practice because we have so many stories in common about this season – the three Kings, Santa Claus, the feast – so find love, joy and connection in these shared traditions.

MAUDE: This is a season where thoughts turn to peace, goodwill, love and celebration. We turn toward each other and our shared stories. Those shared stories are at the core of relationships and reflect our values and longings.

It can be very fruitful to reflect on what the shared stories of your relationships are and to bring them forth in words to each other; to speak of them and acknowledge them. The more you learn of the values that are at the center and foundation of your togetherness, the easier it becomes to dwell in that place and to let the meaningless occurrences pass by without too much energy. Fear and discord melt away and the sense of your bond grows ever stronger.

We have all become so inundated in the media with views that emphasize our differences and promote a sense of separation, that it is more important now than ever before to look at our connections and to speak and treasure our shared visions, to recognize our “collective unifying principle” as described by Nicole Karlis in a recent Salon article. In this same article, Bainbridge said “We have to find our humanity, and [ask], ‘what does it mean to be a human being?… It means that you have to integrate your own darkness, wrestle with your own paradoxes and stop projecting out onto other people the opposite inside of you.

For Phil and I, we came to realize that our main story revolves around the actual experience of peace as a vital, visceral reality. We have found that we both have this experience of what it is like living without conflict/fear in our relationship and that we recognize this in each other. Once having discovered the actuality of peace, and having learned to dwell within that together, it has became important to us to find ways to share that with others. Out of that arose our shared vision to “spread peace one relationship at a time.”

And so in this season and every season, in all relationships both close and distant, it is our profound wish that you too will find a shared commonality, a connectedness and a caring that grows far beyond any real or imagined divisions. We wish you peace.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes
Photo note: Peace and love from Phil and Maude.

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Phil is Giving a Zoom Talk

Word and Life and Friends is a long-running free Zoom group that discusses Conscious and Heart-Based Connecting. This Tuesday, Phil will be talking about the superpower of cooperation.

"Humans are by nature and necessity a cooperative species. To survive alone is near impossible. We will look at the place of cooperation in society, the different attractions of independence and cooperation, and the balance between self and community."

Please Join Us
Tuesday, December 21st
10:00 – 11:15 A.M. Pacific Time
Join the Zoom meeting at

Successful Relationship Reading Corner

Books on shelfThis week, we said that every relationship has shared stories at its heart. We found some interesting articles discussing this; some suggest that writing is a powerful way to find your story.

How to Use Writing to Radically Improve Your Relationships "According to Stephen Covey, author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, the reason why most relationships fail is because we focus on changing our superficial behaviors and attitudes before addressing the way we perceive the relationship itself. We tackle the leaves of the problem instead of touching the roots."

How Storytelling Can Help a Troubled Marriage "In a loving relationship, we can reevaluate our own stories and create new ones.  Couples who feel most connected and hopeful together are those who can tell a story of their relationship—what therapists call a “we story”—that emphasizes loving elements such as empathy, respect, pleasure, and acceptance. The question is how do people do it? What is involved from moving toward a shared narrative that can serve as an inspirational vision of their relationship, even while going through a rough patch?"

Why Your ‘Love Story’ Could Make or Break Your Relationship "We all swoon over a good love story. We are inspired by movies and novels that highlight love’s powerful ability to overcome all obstacles. We cry at weddings. We enjoy telling people how we met our significant other. And let’s face it, we’re captivated by the beginnings of love. But, what about after the beginning? Do you see your relationship as a story—the whole of it, from the start until now—as an ongoing narrative that makes you both ever-developing characters?"

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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