Love Smarter Podcast with Todd Zemek

Todd Zemek Interviewed by Sunny Roberts - The Power of Masculine and Feminine Dynamics

SEP 20, 2022

Todd Zemek

Find out more about Sunny Roberts...
Wholehearted Woman Course

Todd Zemek (00:00):
In terms of the actual experience of being with one another, being in doubt, being vulnerable, being with uncertainty. But if we’re able to come back and turn towards each other in terms of soothing our nervous systems, and there’s very specific things we can do to make this happen, that’s the game changer.
Roberts (12:30):
Now. That’s huge, Todd. Everything that you said is huge. And it also rings so true when it comes to what I’m working with, the feminine and the masculinity, the recognizing that men and women are equal, but why it’s so different that we are so different. I’m talking a lot about, and it’s like what Alison Armstrong, I think talked about a lot. what estrogen does to the brain, and also that men want to be successful. And how do you know that you’re successful in a relationship as a man? Bec you know it because your woman is happy mm-hmm. . And if your woman is unhappy and is like critical and judgmental and nagging, it’s you, you interpret it as a man, as being unsuccessful. And I think that’s when the whole defense mechanism, you know, gets built up and the resentments get built up.
And it’s very interesting when you talked about how you work with couples, how you start working with the men and how you come, like from masculine to masculine, asking him, do you think you have failed her? And how that just triggers something and how Yeah. It’s so interesting because how, how I’m coming from it, I’m working with the women, especially women who are in their masculine, which we are 99% of the time, right. Because that’s how we survive in the world. And it’s that strong independent woman who can do everything by herself, who doesn’t need anyone, and who is strong and assertive and says what it, you know how it’s like, but the more I learn about it, men, what’s the role of the man? If we can do everything for ourselves, right? What can he do? Just teaching women or, or, or exploring with women?
How can we, you know, give him praise and what does he do right? And how can we be less controlling, be less judgmental, and learn to receive? Because receiving is at the core of the feminine, yet it’s so, so hard for us. So that was one that you talked about as well, because we’re so, you know, we’re so wired to give, especially as mothers, we’re nurturers. We give all day, and then we run dry, and then we start being critical and judgmental and controlling and all of the things. So it’s so interesting how everything you said runs so parallel to what I’m learning, diving into feminine, masculine. It’s, I can see it all, all being very connected. So that’s beautiful.
Todd Zemek (14:59):
Definitely. Yeah. I it’s so cool that as we’re talking, we’re both smiling. Yeah.
Yes. It all makes sense. Both smiling with the fact that this is just so important. It’s just so true. It’s just such an unspoken part of life that so desperately needs to be attended to. So
Sunny Roberts (15:17):
Oh, desperately. And, you know, I’m the same as you. I come from it from my own, you know, struggles and, and, and suffering. And I think that’s when you can really relate and yeah, I think you have to feel it in order to heal it, but in order to, I’ll work with other people around it. You have to, you know, you have to been there if
Todd Zemek (15:34):
That makes, so you can say, you can say as much or little as you, as you like, and maybe I shouldn’t be asking questions when I’m a guest, but do you want to, you know, share anything about that, that journey? And Sure. Clearly you’re making some, some big progress with it and it’s Yeah. Change, changing your life.
Sunny Roberts (15:48):
Definitely. My journey is the one being brought up by the strong independent woman who was my mother, who is wearing still to this day, wearing the pants in a relationship, making all the decisions. And my dad, they flipped their energetic chord. So my mom is, my mom is playing the masculine, my dad is playing the feminine, don’t know how to do it any other way. Right. And I’ve been brought up that way. And I always been strong and independent having a corporate career and doing everything by myself and knowing how to stand up for myself, being assertive and all of the things, being controlling. I like to control the environment, having the corporate career, doing it in my masculine, burning out completely discovering yoga, how to connect with the body again, because I was so much in my head in my twenties, learning about the body and how, what it feels like to calm down the nervous system, which I want to talk to you about as well.
The nervous system part later on. And then coming into relationship with my wonderful husband. And of course he’s a, a strong man himself, and he wants to lead. And the relationship, he wants to be the man, but I didn’t give him any chance and I had no idea what I was doing. So I was showing up, very controlling, very judgmental, just want to be in charge of everything. And just that did not go down well, and learning the hard way, what I had to learn, taking responsibility for my part. I think that was a big, big moment for me when I took responsibility for my side of the street, what, you know, the troubles that I caused, the hurt and pain that I caused him. And even though I was not the one, you know, being very loud in fights, not using names, like I’m not someone who fights very noisily.
I’m not, I still caused a lot of pain and hurt as I was emasculating him, which I had no idea what I was doing. Right. And then really dived in deep, learned everything I could find and learn about feminine and masculine energy, how I can embrace my feminine more when I’m relating to him. And that changed everything. Yeah. Changed everything. We’re so much closer where we were disconnected, we’re now connected again. You know, like that emotional connection, that safety is totally there again. And I was just, when I had those realizations, I was just shocked. I was like, why is that not all in school? Like, everyone needs to know about it because there are, there have to be more strong, independent women like me out there bringing that part of themselves into the relationship who are with a strong man. And it just causes World War iii pretty much
. Todd Zemek (18:15):
Oh, I, I really feel for you and, and really respect the, the vulnerability and the, what you’ve been achieving there. It, I guess it shine a light on the fact that it’s such a masculine culture. It is such a, and that whether we’re we’re men or women, we devalue the feminine. Yes. We devalue the, the unknown, the mysterious, any sense of doubt, just allowing a motion to flow through us and, and expressing that. So if we’re going to let go, I really love this idea. If we’re going to let go, we need something to let go in too. So if we’re going to take a jump, we, we need a net to jump into. Mm. So whether it’s the ideas, like you were mentioning Alison Armstrong, and I’m such a huge fan, just love her, so helpful, so funny, so genuine. She is so funny. Really recommend people listening to some of her workshops if they haven’t already. But yeah, we, we need to be supported. And so sometimes that can come from our partner. I’m a big believer that it should come from friends or a group of the same sex as well, so that there is some appreciation of what that struggle is like. And I think that empowers us with, with our partners or with a, a therapist of course mm-hmm.
Sunny Roberts (19:23):
. I hundred percent agree. Just coming back to you, what you ear earlier said in, when you go on the journey with the couples about the, what women really crave and need is to be able to feel again and to be able to express those emotions, which we, I think we’re suppressing. I agree with you. It’s such a masculine culture. We’re we, we don’t know how to do it anymore. To be vulnerable and take so much bravery Right. And show up with our emotions. And for him to be presence, like that’s the ultimate masculine, you know, just to have that presence and be there with her so she feels seen, understood, and hurt. That is just so beautiful.
Todd Zemek (20:02):
I had a really intelligent female friend of mine some years ago can I swear on here? Or Of course. And she said, and she was really honest. She was saying, why are men such fucking idiots? And if there are people being shot, if there’s domestic abuse, if there’s guys being hostile or just shutting down and disappearing, why are they such fucking idiots? And of course, they’re not really idiots, they’ve just never been given opportunity to feel for a lot of guys, if you see young boys before they head to school, there’s all sorts of emotion. There’s delight, and there’s tears and there’s anger, and there there’s a whole rainbow of this palette of emotions. But when you see them as they get into the middle of primary school and you ask these boys, how you doing? You’ll get one answer and it’s fine. It’s done . So our culture has taught them, no, no, no. If you want to be respected and you want to survive, you get a job. And your job is to take care of yourself, take care of others where you can, but don’t bother anybody.
So we, we learn that if you are sharing a problem, then it’s a problem doubled. And that’s dishonorable. And fundamentally, guys are about honor mm-hmm. , they want to behave honorably in the tribe for the benefit of everybody, and in particular for their women. Mm-Hmm. , but they just haven’t been taught how to do that an emotional level, because that has been the undercurrent is that that is dishonorable.
Sunny Roberts (21:36):
Mm. Because they’ve been taught that all their life. Mm-Hmm. I feel I a hundred percent. And that’s like the inner feminine, like as a man and as a woman, we have those energies, the masculine, the feminine energy. And of course the feminine is all the connection to feelings, intuition. I had a client the other day say, she is so comfortable and has been her whole life being in her masculine because it feels safe. And I totally understand that that’s the world we live in. It’s safe not to feel, because I might open up a can of worms there. And also the feminine throughout patriarchy, like has been seen as weak, has been suppressed for thousands of years. So there’s this big generational wound coming in as well. So I feel the tides are turning though, when you listen to all those spiritual leaders, even I think the Dalai Lama said, the world will be rescued or by the western women. So I feel there is more power coming to the feminine, and we can see that more women in powerful positions. I just hope that the tides are turning so women can be powerful and feminine at the same time, and bring their feminine gifts. Imagine a boardroom with men and women, and then women would be asked, what’s your intuition on that decision? You know, imagine that day one day.
Todd Zemek (22:52):
Imagine that. I love, I love what you’re saying about powerful and feminine. Mm-Hmm. Yeah. Absolutely. And our, our culture is, is slowly emerging. Of course, the, the role of feminism and equality is incredibly important. And, and by no means complete, but it’s not just about power. It’s about, as you say, those, those more feminine qualities in terms of flowing into emotion, being vulnerable. And I, I agree. It’d be lovely to see some more equality in terms of political representation as well. And decision making being made equally with, with women would certainly be more re representative of, of our culture.
Sunny Roberts (23:30):
Yeah. And can I, I just want to dive into some more to what you spoke to earlier about when those couples come to you and the woman cries out for help because she can’t handle the suffering anymore, it obviously takes a lot of pain and suffering in order to make the decision to see a therapist. Right? It’s a big step. And you said there’s a trigger usually that triggers that step mm-hmm. . But what would you see in, obviously at that point they are completely emotionally disconnected. There is no connection anymore, probably. And what other defense mechanism you see at play there, especially from the guys? Like what are the or , or the women? What are the defenses?
Todd Zemek (24:13):
Well, for the guys is in some cases, the women become like a machine gun and the guys become like a tank.
Sunny Roberts (24:21):
Okay. Can you speak more to that
Todd Zemek (24:23):
? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So again, culturally, she’s been taught that she’s gonna be lovable if she’s silent and accommodating. Mm-Hmm. Again, these are strong women, fierce women. Mm-Hmm. But when it comes to the heart and intimate relationships, it seems to be a dynamic that’s very, very common. So after all the injustice of that, she might burst and it can sound like a machine gun that’s like, it all comes out, look, can hear me now. And so when he’s getting that machine gunfire, he becomes like a tank. And so he goes in that tank and he’s nowhere to be seen. He’s not accessible. He’s just hunkering down, trying to survive the onslaught in terms of those defenses. She may go into a form of martyrdom. She’s probably been defending herself for a very long time by being, trying to be quiet by noticing that, well, nothing works, so why would I bother?
She will go back to her strengths of service and hope she might express as, as much as she can, but it doesn’t seem to land. So she goes back to providing loving service silently. Similarly, most likely, his defenses are somewhat similar by, by shutting down and by disappearing and continuing to serve the best way he can, basically, in terms of what’s worked in the earliest stages of the relationship. And so people might come together and there will be flow in terms of role play within dating, but once children come on board, then it’s all hands on deck in terms of those tasks. And we just go into survival and role play mode. Mm-Hmm. But after that first three to five years, it’s like, I can’t do this anymore. And I was hoping that you would be the one that would meet those parts of me that no one ever saw.
Mm. And you are not, and I don’t think you’re ever going to, and that, that’s, that’s profoundly disappointing. So they’re, they’re typical defense is everybody’s different. Of course, some people defend themselves by becoming more orderly and they’ll fight about you. You know, you’re not doing the washing up, you leave your shoes, you’re, it’s messy. Other people will become really intellectual. Other people will become will be yelling and screaming. Other people will put their partner down. I’m the best, you’re the worst sort of Donald Trump star. Everyone’s got their own unique character in terms of how they go about being close and how they defend themselves.
Todd Zemek (26:52):
You’re listening to the Todd Zemek connection for information on speaking workshops, supervision and therapy. You’ll find everything you need at http://www.toddzemek.com.
Sunny Roberts (27:09):
What would you say, Todd, if someone listening and recognizes being stuck in a similar pattern, the relationship, how could someone address their partner and have the best shot at not getting a defense mechanism being pulled up, you know, not getting that wall. How can you talk to your partner and have a chance of being heard to making it feel safe for them in order to, you know, be open and receive?
Todd Zemek (27:36):
Sunny Roberts (27:36):
So how can I not machine gun ?
Todd Zemek (27:38):
Well, I guess the first step, I mean, just the question shows a lot of personal responsibility and insight. The, the first step is where is it safest? Because at the moment in that pattern, we’ve got two people who are very scared and their raw wounds are being exposed mm-hmm. . So the safest place is internally, but rather than just through retreat, we can go internally with a lot of care. Definitely prioritizing your own care and then allowing there to be space in the relationship without taking full responsibility for it is sort of step one. So there’s some real self-compassion. And then just noticing, okay, this relationship has a lot of fear, there’s a lot of tenderness around these wounds, and we might not be able to fix that in the blink of an eye mm-hmm. . But the first thing I’m going to do is love myself.
So how will I experiment with loving myself even if I feel guilty or selfish for doing so? Mm-Hmm. . So we make a commitment to love, and we start by loving the self and accepting that while this is scary, we’re going to just acknowledge that we’ve got two people whose fears are being triggered. Mm-Hmm. So that would be step one. And in loving ourselves, it might mean a little bit more time. Often people will do nothing because they don’t have the resource of time or money, and they’re already exhausted, so they say, I can’t possibly do that. You know, so we come back. What’s the smallest thing you could do for yourself? Is it a three minute YouTube clip? Is it talking to a friend on the phone? Is it committing to doing five minutes of journaling mm-hmm. Each night? So, something as simple as that, I guess I, I had an example of a couple years ago, the woman was having a lot of trouble expressing her needs.
And so every evening when she was preparing dinner, and she had three children, her husband was in the house all day, so he was working from home. So he is always there, but around dinnertime, she would start yelling, screaming at him. And the kids, her level of panic was just off the charts, but no one was paying attention. And so she was saying, he’s just not there. And he was saying, that’s ridiculous. I never leave the house. I’m here all the time. But her experience was, he’s never there with me at the most stressful time in my day. Mm-Hmm. . So preparing dinner when you’ve got three children tugging at you and screaming and, and all these other needs, he wasn’t present during that time. So I asked her, so do you need him to be physically in the kitchen? And she’s like, of course I do. I’ve been, I have been literally screaming out for this. Mm-Hmm. But he had not heard the specificity of that. So we spoke about what time do you need his body to be in that kitchen? Hmm. And so before she started preparing, they would make time as a team to enter the kitchen together. Hmm. But they were going into that chaotic environment together, that he would do a bit of prep, he would run interference with any of the kids. And then occasionally he’d come and rub her shoulders with, with her permission. And so her experience was now we’re a team. Yes. Now we’re a team.
Sunny Roberts (30:59):
It sounds so wonderful because what rings so true for me, when you talked about this the deep need of the feminine, the feminine core here to feel supported. If you don’t have that support as a feminine core, it just, it’s like pulling the rock from underneath your feet. You can do it for a little while, but if it’s an ongoing thing, you just collapse.
Todd Zemek (31:23):
And if it’s pulled out from under you from a great height, you are going to be falling. Hmm. It will feel like falling off a cliff.
Sunny Roberts (31:30):
Hmm. That’s a wonderful achievement. She would feel completely different. And of course it would be stressful for him to hang out in the kitchen. I, I know what it’s like. I have two children myself. But yeah, they can work through it as a team and after that they can say, okay, they’re in bed now we’ve done this together.
Todd Zemek (31:46):
Yeah. And he could have a sense of competence that, okay, this is my role, this is my presence, this is what I can do. And then he could get feedback from his partner. Mm-Hmm. What else do you need? How can I improve this because I want to do a good job with you.
Sunny Roberts (32:01):
How could a woman, so that was a achieved in therapy and you were there, you know, as the sure. Middle person helping out. So the way woman approach her men helping out in that way,
Todd Zemek (32:12):
Way. Sure. So her success came with specificity.
Sunny Roberts (32:17):
Todd Zemek (32:18):
So if she has been loved for focusing on other people’s needs, most likely she doesn’t feel safe making requests that are very specific mm-hmm. , because the fear is, if I’m too needy, then I’m not going to be wanted. Yes. So being really courageous with what are the specific requests, and don’t be afraid to break it down to a micro level mm-hmm. . And so that’s, it’s not micromanaging and being ultra-controlling. That’s being very specific about the blueprint of how we can succeed.
Sunny Roberts (32:55):
Hmm. Would she say, even if you, we break it down into a wording, sitting down with him and saying that time at night in the kitchen is, I feel so stressed out by that time, what I need from you in that, what I would love from you in that moment is, you know, just for you to be there and help me through that, because it just wears me out. Is there any better way to say it? What could
Todd Zemek (33:17):
She say? Absolutely. The, the language of vulnerability is a game changer. Mm-Hmm. So having a bit of practice with time where you can both be heard. And the way that we do this is observing our eyes, our face, and our body. Mm-Hmm. And we’ll talk about it in a minute. There’s a lot we can do to prepare that. But the language around vulnerability of, I can’t breathe. I have a lot of trouble containing tears that come up and I feel like I’m choking.
Sunny Roberts (33:48):
Todd Zemek (33:48):
So anything that has a physical, visceral, emotional flavor
Sunny Roberts (33:54):
Todd Zemek (33:55):
Is a wakeup call, particularly to a male partner who wants his partner to feel safe. Mm-Hmm. So if she’s sounding the alarm in a direct fashion and saying, effectively I’m drowning. I I’m in danger here and here’s what I’m going through. And most likely, as she tells him, she will embody that vulnerability mm-hmm. And allow that to be seen. Being specific about the physical and emotional details, this is where journaling is gold. And within the journaling, you can check in. If you’re into yoga, you can check in with the chakras, you can check in with these energetic centers around our nervous systems. Hmm. Listen to what they’re telling you. And then as we express that you are far more likely to be heard with respect and curiosity. Mm-Hmm. I see this all the time. There, there can be a fight, but as soon as we slow it down, speak about it in detail, partners watch each other like a hawk. You see that loving heart come out with so much curiosity and it’s like, okay, well if that’s the case, what can I do?
Sunny Roberts (35:05):
Todd Zemek (35:06):
So journal
Sunny Roberts (35:08):
Todd Zemek (35:09):
be very explicit about what’s the impact on my body and my emotions. Mm-Hmm. , and then makes very, very specific requests.
Sunny Roberts (35:18):
Hmm. That’s wonderful.
Todd Zemek (35:20):
Where possible, never give false praise that you don’t want to, to set up anything that’s fake, but definitely start looking out, even if he’s failing in lots of areas, definitely keep a lookout for where is he succeeding, even if it means that he’s failing colossally in, in other areas. Keep a, keep a lookout for, for where he’s succeeding. So I like the what went well, exercise in terms of positive psychology, just simple review at the end of the day, what are the three things that are going well, even on the worst days. Hmm. And it might be that things weren’t as bad as they could have been, and then why did they go well? And usually it’s something because of me, something because of our partner or something because of the world. Wonderful. And as you do that review each night, sometimes you might notice that one of the things that went well was something actually went okay with your partner. It’s good to share that headline.
Sunny Roberts (36:09):
Mm-Hmm. I like that. That’s a very good tip. Mm-Hmm.
Todd Zemek (36:13):
So journaling, be in contact with the body and the emotions, specific requests, and then have a little bit of a relationship gratitude practice where you can
Sunny Roberts (36:23):
Todd Zemek (36:25):
Mm-Hmm. All that will be supported by any contact with the outside world as
Sunny Roberts (36:29):
Well. helpful.
Todd Zemek (36:31):
Yeah. Yeah.
Sunny Roberts (36:32):
I would love to talk more, talk about the nervous system. And you said something earlier about a relationship as good as you managed to regulate your nervous system together.
Todd Zemek (36:45):
Mm-Hmm. Mm-hmm.
Sunny Roberts (36:46):
Can you speak more to that?
Todd Zemek (36:48):
Yeah, absolutely. There’s a, a very famous experiment called the still face experiment. And you can find that on YouTube, little three minute video clip. And basically what happens is that the infant is playing with its mother and she mimics and responds. So if the baby raises its hands, mum raises its hands. If the baby smiles, mom smiles. And so the baby knows that mum is responding, she’s present. Mm. And then there’s this heartbreaking moment where these very cruel scientists ask mom to turn away. And when she turns back, her face is still
Sunny Roberts (37:33):
Okay. ,
Todd Zemek (37:35):
Sunny Roberts (38:24):
What does that bring up in you as I
Sunny Roberts (37:37):
Oh, just, I can imagine a child would break out in tears. It makes me feel uncomfortable. Like it’s an unnatural thing to do as a mother. Yeah. Isn’t
Todd Zemek (37:45):
It? Isn’t it, isn’t it? And and even though we just paint that picture within seconds, you feel the intensity of a non-response.
Sunny Roberts (37:53):
Todd Zemek (37:55):
And that’s exactly what happens. Mm. The child squeals, they lose control of their posture. They are terrified that there is a non-response within seconds. Hmm. So for so many of us with what we call complex trauma, which is relational trauma, there are parts of us that are not responded to that remain in that state.
Sunny Roberts (38:18):
Todd Zemek (38:18):
And so we cobbled together a personality that protects us from the rawness of that pain.
Mm-Hmm. ,
Todd Zemek (38:26):
This is what gets triggered in all of our relationships, and it’s the opportunity to heal. So having an understanding of the personalized way that our partner has been wounded and they protect themselves as a star. But one of the things in terms of the nervous system that is so simple but absolute gold, is that it’s called the welcome home hug. So you could practice it as a routine when you come home, or it could be once the kids have gone to bed. And this is not a pathway to sex. This is a pathway to soothing the nervous system and collaboratively being the number one person on the planet where we can let go into consciously. And we practice this and it takes many repetitions, but there is something about doing it on purpose. And I often liken it to and I mean this so respectfully cause I love dogs. But for anyone who has a dog, if you are sitting there and the dog comes up, they’ll be ready to play and you’ll hear their breath, they’ll be, and you’ll, you’ll hear all the, the activity. But as the dog dog circles around, it nudges into you, and then it sort of settles, eventually it slows down and the breath and the nervous system slows. And then there’s this release and it goes,
Sunny Roberts (39:50):
Yes, there’s that
Todd Zemek (39:51):
. Yeah. And it’s like, okay, I’m home now I’m home within you. Yeah. Yeah. So it may not be quite as dramatic, but as you hold each other as a couple, and you don’t have to be precious about it, you could be playful about it, you could roll your eyes about it, you could make fun of it, that’s fine. But what happens is that you start to feel the muscles start to relax around the jaw and the shoulders. Mm-Hmm. You start to feel the belly start to soften. As bellies touch bellies, you start to feel the breath start to slow. And in each other’s arms, you experience the down regulation collaboratively. And what’s experienced and what’s communicated under this is that you are worth turning to and receiving and trusting. And in your arms, I can let go into genuinely being safe and starting to let down this flight and fight.
Hmm. And I don’t have to say a word. Mm. We can do this without words and say, this is gold. Especially for people who are so damn sophisticated, sometimes often that their intellect and and their, their emotional intelligence Mm. Is the greatest hindrance there is. Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm. . And that can be weaponized. Mm-Hmm. . So doing this without words and getting some regular repetitions means that there is an experience where this is a safe place, not in theory, but in practice. Mm. And we’re gonna practice dam regulating and being safer together every day. We’re not gonna wait until there’s a tsunami. Mm. And then, then we learn, no, we’re gonna drill this every day. And as a result, we move from medium level drama and intensity to nuance to small, subtle, sensitive, that’s like the metaphor of the baby or the inner child in us receiving that tenderness. Mm-Hmm. And that care. And that when we’re trying to be a teenager who’s so cool, we’re trying to play roles that that’s cool. You’ve got no idea how much I can handle. I don’t need your tenderness. Hmm. I’m a grownup now. You know, I don’t, I don’t need that. So just that simple hug cuts through all of that bullshit and brings us home to that truth. And then that becomes a safer foundation for both nervous systems
Sunny Roberts (42:35):
And how nurturing that is. If you have your relationship when the world around us is so yang and everything is busy and stressed with the kids, with all of the things, and then come coming home into a hug and getting that from a partner, like that’s food for the soul and for the nervous system. That’s beautiful.
Todd Zemek (42:56):
Sunny Roberts (42:56):
That soul
Todd Zemek (42:57):
When the, when the nervous system is already heightened. Mm. And there is a lot of adrenaline and cortisol, I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but when I do, I’m a mess In the evening, , there’s so much cortisol running through me, it’s very hard for me to sort of drop into that space. Mm-Hmm. , it’s a question of kind of doing it anyway. Yeah. When we’re, when we’re hurting, we’re going to want to push away. So the I idea or the excuse that there isn’t enough time, we want to move into the fact that this is very, very difficult. It feels absolutely counterintuitive. It feels wrong and I don’t want to do it. So any cynicism, we need to make room for that protective cynicism and then make a commitment to do it. And this is a really important principle, even if it doesn’t feel right, and even if it doesn’t seem to work, because any type of trust is going to take many repetitions. Mm-Hmm. . So have a few allow yourself a week of those experiences where it doesn’t work. And it’s really disappointing. Allow your partner to be sarcastic and sarcasm and cynicism is the beginnings of desensitizing. It’s not that they don’t care and they’re, they’re not willing to play with you or experiment. They are desensitizing. They have to throw a few stones to protect themselves in the process. So if your partner is being a smart ass, recognize their fear and that this is the path forward
Sunny Roberts (44:26):
Mm-Hmm. and this, that the cynicism and the judgment is not about you hasn’t at all
Todd Zemek (44:32):
With you. Yeah. At all. At all. It’s the teenage part of them saying, I’m too cool for this. I don’t need this.
Sunny Roberts (44:41):
Can you talk to Todd? You just mentioned something real quick that when we are heard, or when we are in fight flight, we naturally wanna be alone. We naturally don’t wanna approach the other person. I’m noticing that within myself as well. Like, if I don’t like myself for a day or two, like it’s harder to reach out to a friend. Whereas if I’m happy with myself, like easily pick up the phone, you know, why is that?
Todd Zemek (45:07):
Well, for other people, they hysterically seek other people out. So they will literally yell and scream or, or attack or create very dramatic situations where they’re at the center of it. So everybody’s different. But chances are that you’ve learned that when it gets extreme, you’re on your own.
Sunny Roberts (45:25):
Todd Zemek (45:27):
So by default, by autopilot and thousands of repetitions, it’s like, I can reach out at this level with dignity, but when the shit really hits the fan, it’s only me that has my own back. Mm-Hmm.
Sunny Roberts (45:43):
, that rings incredibly true. And I could go into my whole family history, now you’ve got me there in two seconds. That Yeah. Makes total sense. And I’m getting better at it. Right. But in, in, in the, in, in the core of it. Yes. Very true.
Todd Zemek (45:58):
Yeah. Yeah. So it takes a lot of practice. Mm-Hmm. Again, therapy’s a place where you’ve got a formal safety net to practice.
Sunny Roberts (46:06):
Mm-Hmm. Mm-hmm.
Todd Zemek (46:08):
But even just listening to podcasts like this mm-hmm. Primes us for the fact that that’s actually an honorable thing to do. And then we can use our intellect to sort of share that with people. And our partner is that, you know what I’ve learned about me, I only reach out to you a fraction of the time.
Sunny Roberts (46:25):
Todd Zemek (46:26):
It’s not cause I don’t trust you, it’s that I’m just learning that I, I don’t really do that with anyone. Hmm. Not what I really need to. So even just putting words to that, you don’t have to discuss it or go any deeper at, but even just starting to edge into putting words to that is a colossal step forward.
Sunny Roberts (46:44):
Mm-Hmm. makes a lot of sense. Todd, the last thing I wanted to talk to you about is going with what you just said, going to your partner and sharing that it already requires a level of trust, right. And, and a sense of safety that this will be perceived. Well, I want to talk about resentment. Right. Like, give you an example of a relationship that where communication doesn’t function very well. You know, the typical relationship, she wants to talk, he doesn’t want to talk, she has a lot of words. He doesn’t have a lot of, you know, typical Right. Stereotypical,
Todd Zemek (47:17):
That’s funny because it’s true. Yeah.
Sunny Roberts (47:19):
. Right. And then after a while she gives up, she doesn’t talk. And communication might function around the practicalities of life because it has to. Right. But not so much in the realm of feeling or what is really going on. And I believe what happens then is if we don’t make ourselves hurt, if we keep it inside, rebuild resentment. And that can happen probably over a long period of time and it just builds resentment or resentment, resentment, resentment. And people meet each other only in their defense mechanisms and there is no communication or connection possible. So how can you start to tackle that big mountain of resentment that you might be holding against your partner? Right.
Todd Zemek (48:05):
Well, we can acknowledge that those criticisms are probably grounded in truth. And our, our partner is imperfect and there’s a lot that they’re not seeing, a lot they’re not doing. Right. And so yeah, we, we, we can start by honoring that. We can also acknowledge that anger is, is there for a purpose mm-hmm. . And that resentment is there for a purpose. And the, the purpose is to protect us from getting hurt.
Sunny Roberts (48:34):
Todd Zemek (48:34):
. And so the deeper the resentment, if we’re gonna be lovingly compassionate and bring love into this relationship, we’re gonna bring love to ourselves, is that we’re honoring the fact that we have been unspeakably hurt. And again, if we have a background that the more hurt we are, the more we turn to ourselves rather than anyone else.
Sunny Roberts (48:57):
Todd Zemek (48:58):
I think that’s the first place. And again, that’s where journaling is just so precious. So that we can have an adult response to how deeply hurt we are. Again, the partner’s not churning, turning into our experience. Then we can regularly come back. Where did I get hurt during the day? Where did I feel it in the body? What’s the emotional truth? Do I feel dead? Do I feel like tears aren’t far away? Or am I just caught in this defensive pattern of rehearsing what I would say in court to try to shame this person for how much they’ve hurt me?
Sunny Roberts (49:38):
The machine gun.
Todd Zemek (49:40):
The machine gun, yeah. , that’s just, and and based on that degree of hurt, it’s justified.
Sunny Roberts (49:46):
Todd Zemek (49:47):
So then we, we have the, the challenge of, okay, well if I’m really spending time with that part that’s so deeply hurt, how am I going to be an advocate for that in a way that’s going to work best? How am I going to meet those needs Again, most likely starting outside the relationship and then starting to learn how to communicate. But if we’re talking about, I know that you are very deeply interested in femoral and masculine energies, what would the masculine tends to be more about death. Feminine seems to be more about life and, and flow. So if guys are about death, success for them is, let’s shut this down so that everyone’s safe and we’re not, not going to have, and I don’t want my partner to be in tears and to be hurting and overwhelmed. So I want to shut this down. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to be a small target.
I’m gonna go ah-huh mm-hmm , okay. And then hope this blows over. In the meantime, she’s never got to be the full woman that she is with that flowing through her and she feels devastated that he’s not really there and that he doesn’t really care. So what we teach guys, if they’ve been supported and honored as the honorable men, they are with their generally really big hearts and desire to succeed and to love their partners. We teach them how to succeed relationally. We teach them how to ride the anxiety that they’re not solving the problem. And we do this with one question. I think Alison Armstrong does this as well, is what else? And so I’ll train guys to do this and I’ll be like, ah, whoa, whoa, hold, hold on, ask again. And they’ll laugh and they’ll roll their eyes and this is all the anxious teenager part.
Alright. Okay. So what else they offer to their partner and then their partner might roll their eyes that, oh God, he’s only doing this cuz he’s being told to, and this is just a silly exercise anyway, but she flows a little, she tells a little more, and then he starts to defending himself and I’ll interrupt and say, eh, no, no, ask what else? And they get in the pattern of this, and then she starts to flow more and he starts to see the power of his presence. If he just inquires about her internal world, once he starts to see the power of that, you can’t stop him. So the starting point would be that you would do that every night for three weeks, where you might allocate 10 minutes. And the idea of not having time isn’t really true. It’s a, it’s more a question of defensive avoidance. But I’ve got some couples where they’ll speak four times a day on the phone, but they’ll never say anything. No. Not a damn thing. So what we’re doing is, even though it feels artificial, we allocate this 10 minutes for him to be this conscious masculine presence and for her to flow. And we just tell him, yeah, it’s all about her. It’s not about you. And then that builds up in him that, oh, I’ve got something to say too.
He starts to talk, you haven’t heard me yet. Oh, oh, I want my turn . So that come, that starts to flow later. Mm-Hmm. So it kicks off with her, he starts to, to see the success of that role, and then he learns from her mm-hmm. How to do it, how to do it with that vulnerable, loving tender type of tone. That’s my, that’s a real game changer. So if we, if we play with that welcome home hug if we play with this, what else? Tell me more. Making a few guesses. Playing hotter and colder in terms of, oh, is that what it’s like in there? No, no, no. It’s more like this. Mm-Hmm. . Oh, okay. So just five, 10 minutes a night over what happens over the course of three weeks is pretty extraordinary. Hmm.
Sunny Roberts (53:43):
So powerful. I want to say thank you so much. I have to wrap up now because we’re running out of time. Todd, you gave the listeners so many practical tips, you know, to make relationship better on an everyday basis. Like things that people can really implement. And I think that’s so valuable because we can talk about the theory as long as we like, but I feel people really need tools. And I also loved a lot how you brought the body into it, because we can speak, we can be so much in our head and intellectualize things so much, but coming back to what it feels like in the body and coming from that place, I think is incredibly powerful.
Todd Zemek (54:24):
If we’re going to feel loved, we’re going to feel it in our bodies too. It’s so true. Yeah. And without, without that definitely the central and sexual side just absolutely decays and doesn’t have the opportunity to grow as we age,
Sunny Roberts (54:38):
You know? Doesn’t happen at all. No. Shut down.
Todd Zemek (54:41):
But yeah, look, I can’t thank you enough. I I’d love every minute of it. I love talking about this stuff and clearly you do too. If people want to connect with me, connect on Instagram, I’ve got a lot, lots of reels and people take the tips that they need away, which is really cool. They can check out my website, which is http://www.toddzemek.com. I’ve got lots of resources there, including a podcast and eBooks on exactly the topics that we’re talking about. So they want to boil down any of the tips, go to the website, check out some of the eBooks and, and of course get in touch if they need to.
Sunny Roberts (55:13):
Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I’ll make sure I put all that information in somewhere so people can easily find it. And thank you so much for bringing all your experience and open-heartedness as well into that conversation. I really feel that’s when people get real value and vulnerable and really share from our own truth.
Todd Zemek (55:32):
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much, Sunny.
Sunny Roberts (55:34):
Thank you.
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