Your happiness is entirely your responsibility so why assume when you’re unhappy that it must be because you’re not in love with your partner?

A few weeks ago had a great session with the man I’ve referred to as “Matthew” in these posts. We’ve been working together for quite some time and have uncovered layer upon layer of false beliefs that are contributing to his unhappiness. But in this particular session we uncovered what I believe to be the core belief that is keeping him stuck.

I began as we always do, guiding him through the Inner Bonding process by helping him drop down into his emotional body and encouraging him to take several deep breaths into his solar plexus. With eyes closed, I asked him to sit with whatever arose from that emotional place. Immediately a wave of sadness emerged. I asked if the sadness was past or present and he said present. Then I asked, “Are there any thoughts that are creating this sadness?” To which he responded, “Just the same one, that I’m in not in love with my wife.”

Now, I help my clients work with this thought every day. It’s one of the core false beliefs that needs to be replaced before people can accept their relationship and continue to move toward marriage. I’ve written extensively about the difference between real love and infatuation and have dedicated an entire lesson to it in my Conscious Weddings E-Course. And Matthew and I have talked about it in nearly every session we’ve had over the past eighteen months.But there was a deeper layer to the belief that emerged in our session, a tenor in his voice that led me to inquire further. In one of those moments of therapeutic intuition I said to him, “Your commitment to this thought indicates that you believe that someone else is responsible for your pain and joy. The belief that your pain means that you don’t love her points to the fact that you haven’t assumed full responsibility for your well-being.”

He took a deep breath. His breath quivered as he inhaled and exhaled again. He didn’t say a word. He just breathed this way for several minutes. At last he said, “Yes, that’s true. I don’t know how to take responsibility for my happiness. It’s always come from someone else: approval from my parents, teachers, or bosses, the high of a new romance, the first eighteen months with my wife. I don’t know how to do it.”

He’s right; he doesn’t know how to do it. Matthew has been so dependent on others’ approval for his sense of self-worth that he’s failed to develop a healthy adult and a spiritual connection that would provide him with his own internally derived sense of well-being. We work each week to help him with this aspect of his growth, but the work is slow and difficult. It’s like growing a whole new self while simultaneously extracting the wounded self by the roots. The process is made more challenging because Matthew is a very smart, left-brained lawyer who feels almost completely disconnected from his spiritual self. In making others’ responsible for igniting his inner spark and without the spiritual connection, he feels adrift and lonely.

Still, there’s always hope. He faithfully shows up at our weekly appointment with good will and a desire to heal. He’s open to trying to connect to his own source of inner wisdom which he envisions as a “Wise Man” or a lightening bolt. He understands what needs to occur and he knows that no one – not his parents, his boss, and certainly not his wife – can ignite the spark that makes him feel alive and purposeful.

A few nights ago I read a poem that reminded me of Matthew – and many others who find their way to my work and are attached to the belief that someone else can “make me happy” (which, again, often comes in the form of, “I’m not in love”, which really means “If I was with a different partner,  I would feel more alive, less anxious, more passionate.”) Poetry can often express more succinctly and truthfully what prose cannot, so I would like to share it with you today. Perhaps it will help guide you back to trusting in your capacity to own your inner spark:


That he might find his flint

lost years ago;

slipped from his pocket

when he climbed into the limbs

of the great oak

to meet his first love.


He did not miss it then.


Her light was enough.

And he could not have known

that he couldn’t warm herself

at the fire of another forever;

or that standing in her light

he would cast so large a shadow.


It was the sorrowing season that brought him to his knees.


Even the oak bowed low

beneath the weight of that winter.

Some of its limbs broken

and his own heart,

fenced behind its icicled cage of ribs,

twisted like a bow drill between his frozen fingers.

Twisting, twisting and still no spark.


This is my prayer then:

that he bend his face to the frosted ground,

his falling tears

the first spring thaw,

unearthing what he’s thought he’s lost

from its muddled sleep.


This is my prayer:

That he might find his flint.

Strike it against steel.

Burst into Holy Flame.



– J. Esme Jel’enedra

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© Copyright 2015 Sheryl Paul, M.A., All rights Reserved.
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As the daughter of two psychotherapists,Sheryl grew up with the language and theories of psychology running through her blood. As a young girl, she vacillated between dreaming about one day being either a writer, a therapist, or a midwife. Having found the confluence of these three arts through writing about and spiritually midwifing people through life’s transitions, including the transition of transforming anxiety, self-doubt, and depression to serenity, self-trust, and joy, Sheryl feels deeply blessed to be living in the heart of her calling. While her writing and counseling work have primarily focused on the specific transitions of getting married and becoming a mother, in recent years she has felt called to broaden her practice to include the lifelong transition of life in all its beauty and complexity. For whether on the verge of leaping into marriage, getting a divorce, suffering through anxiety or depression, struggling with an addiction, or birthing a new identity as a mother, Sheryl believes we find the same issues of self-trust and control appearing again and again. The story line may change, but the spiritual seeker quickly finds that the areas that need attention reappear at deeper layers of the spiral on life’s journey. Sheryl utilizes an effective, 6-step process called Inner Bonding® cradled within the spiritual context of transitions to create a powerful framework through which she can assist clients in finding their own voice, exploring the stories and beliefs that interfere with hearing this voice, confronting their need to control and the perpetual practice of learning to surrender, and guiding them as they make their way through life’s challenges and joys. Her decade of working with clients in transition combined with years of a loving marriage (not without continual consciousness and hard work!) and the privilege/challenge of being a mother have solidified her firm belief that, while guides are often necessary to help us find our way through the labyrinths, no one outside of ourselves and a spiritual source has the answers. In fact, SheryI believes that, whether we’re talking about parenting, marriage, or anxiety, there are no definite answers; there’s only the process of discovering what’s right for you. In 1997, Sheryl graduated from Pacifica Graduate Institute, a depth psychology program founded upon the teachings of Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, James Hillman, and the study of dreams, archetypes, myths, and the myriad ways that the unconscious manifests in daily and nightly life. As a writer, poet, and epic dreamer, she encourages her clients to explore their own creative outlets as pathways for connecting to Spirit and finding their own truths. In 1999, she launched her unique business, Conscious Weddings, and a year later published her first book, The Conscious Bride, which broke the taboo of discussing the underbelly of the wedding transition. In 2003, her second book, The Conscious Bride’s Wedding Planner, was published, and in 2004, she began working with impending and new mothers through Conscious Motherhood. Since 1999, Sheryl has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her Home Study Programs and her website. She has appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, as well as on “Good Morning America” and other top media shows and publications around the globe. To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, “Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes“, visit her Home page. Sheryl looks forward to hearing from you.