Episode 37: “If The Buddha Dated: Finding Love on a Spiritual Path” an interview with counselor, teacher and acclaimed author, Charlotte Kasl
In a practical and easily digestible way, Charlotte Kasl brilliantly bridges together the ancient wisdom of Buddhist philosophies with modern day approaches that give us relief, comfort and powerful direction in navigating today’s dating world.
We cover major issues to consider such as:
- Why do we LONG so deeply for an intimate relationship?
- Fusion vs. Differentiation: Are you clinging to your new man?
- Why making peace with our parents is critical to having a healthy love life
If you are struggling with having unhealthy relationships or want to find the perfect mate for you, this interview will help you understand what might be getting in the way and whether or not your approach is even an expression of your true heart. A must-listen for anyone wanting support in having power and love pulsating through your intimate relationships!
Woman: This program is intended for mature audiences only.
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome to “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex”. I'm your host, Alissa Kriteman. This show is dedicated to bringing you the most useful information available today to help you achieve all your love, sex, intimacy, romance, and relationship goals. On the show today, I'm happy to welcome Charlotte Kasl, PhD, author of the highly acclaimed book, “If the Buddha Dated: Finding Love on a Spiritual Path”.
On today’s show, we'll delve into some juicy topics from the book such as breaking down the longing for an intimate relationship, [xx] understanding the path of intimacy, freeing your heart, making peace with our parents, and what to do when you want to run.
Charlotte Kasl: I think it's very strong for both. It looks different in that women want relationship but actually men suffer more without it. If you look at the data after a divorce, women generally do better than men because women can connect with other women, have their feelings, have a circle of support, cry on somebody’s shoulder. So in terms of surviving without them, women do really much better. But I think there's almost a merger of energies that happens in a monogamous relationship. I think it's such an intimacy, almost like our neurons are interacting and we create an alchemy and a chemistry between us that is very wonderful and rich.
OK, it's like “I see that other person and they're doing what they do, and I check in with my feelings. How do I feel about that? What am I like around them? Is there a fit and a flow? That’s what you really want to check for. It's not a trophy partner, it's this feeling of a flow and it's easy and it's fun, and then maybe things to talk about, that there's a joy that goes on.
Again, there's that line [xx] because some of these are maybe being triggered by your partner that if I keep getting scared or--jealous is a big one--because a good relationship will want a friend to go out, the partner to go out and be their biggest self and have other friends. If we start wanting to keep them to ourselves and hold on to them, well let's look at developmentally how old that is. That’s a little tiny kid, they're wanting Mommy to be there all the time, and often we get to the terrible [xx] what's “terrible” about them is that they really find out that Mommy has other people in her life and we're not the center of the world and we have to move through some of that Narcissism that we thought we were the center of everything.
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome, Charlotte, to “Just for Women”.
Charlotte Kasl: Thank you, I'm glad to be here.
Alissa Kriteman: Thank you so much for being on the show today. Listeners, let me tell you a few things about Charlotte Kasl. She is a licensed professional clinical counselor, she's a certified addiction specialist, Reiki master healer, consultant, and teacher. She's the author of many books including “If the Buddha Married”, “Finding Joy”, “Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the Twelve Steps”, and the classic “Women, Sex, and Addiction: A Search for Love and Power.” She also designed a 16-Step Empowerment Program that is transforming lives across the globe.
I just want to say personally that when I read “If the Buddha Dated”, it's been my little guide. It is so chockfull of amazing content and exercises that you can use to really assess where you are in your life about relationship and getting into one.
So, Charlotte, I'm so excited to talk to you today.
Charlotte Kasl: Great. Well, I'm excited to talk to you.
Alissa Kriteman: Yehey! So let's start out with this longing for an intimate relationship. You know, you really nailed it in the book. Why do we long so much to be in a relationship?
Charlotte Kasl: Well, we want to be connected. I think the deepest longing we have is to feel connection, to feel safe and secure, attached in a good way to other people so that we know we can be understood, we can be seen. That someone--as they say gets us--incredible thing to be understood. If someone looks you in the eyes and no matter what you do even if you really goof up, they're going to be there for you because they love you. They feel it and you feel it. It's an amazing sense of safety internally when you feel loved.
Alissa Kriteman: So do you think that is a desire that’s more hard wired into women because we're the connectors and nurturers and for men, it's different?
Charlotte Kasl: I think it's very strong for both. It looks different in that women want relationship, but actually men suffer more without it. If you look at the data after a divorce, women generally do better than men because women can connect with other women, have their feelings, have a circle of support, cry on somebody’s shoulder. So in terms of surviving without them, women do really much better without that primary intimate relationship. But it's different, but I've seen men just as deeply in love with a woman, that women certainly their role has been to connect and talk and women do more that generally.
Alissa Kriteman: Right. OK, so looking at getting into an intimate relationship, do you think we, as a whole, really understand what intimate relationships are all about and the design of them?
Charlotte Kasl: Well, that’s a wonderful question, and that’s where I think that Buddhism comes in because a wonderful relationship really has to be that we feel secure inside ourselves and can open ourselves to another person. It's not someone to give a status to fill our security needs. At the same time, those things can happen and that’s not bad. So I think very often that we want someone because we feel desperate or we feel, “I've got to be married. I don’t like being alone.”
On the other hand, to be pair bonded [sp] is the deepest kind of human natural longing we have. I remember in high school, you’d list what you want in a person and “They're cool dancer” and all these things. It was like that kind of an image, but what we really want to long for is connection and to know who we are because we can do a lot to know who we are individually but we really learn about who we are in our relationship.
Alissa Kriteman: Right. OK. So I live in a very progressive part of the country here in San Francisco and there's a lot of people doing something other than pair bonding and it's pretty kind of common. But you're saying that being bonded in a relationship with just one other person is really our deepest longing because I know people who would 8:30 to that. What do you have to say?
Charlotte Kasl: Well, I wouldn’t say, let's see, to be with one person, I think it’s the essence of deep connection. We have deep connection with people because we go deep ourselves. Now, I think when people can't go deep inside themselves and can't feel a connection that goes deep then they want many connections and a lot of [xx] and a lot of change. But the people I interviewed who have very deep connections, they're so happy being with this one person, they're content, it feels rich and full to them, and of course, people vary a lot.
But you know, it was around ‘60s and ‘70s, and there were of course a lot of drugs going on with all the multiple sexual partners and so forth. But I think there's almost a merger of energies that happens in a monogamous relationship. I think it's such an intimacy, it's almost like our neurons are interacting and we create an alchemy and a chemistry between us that is very wonderful and rich, that kind of feeling you're just happy to see that person walk in the house and that never goes away when people have these deep attachments and connections.
Alissa Kriteman: Let's go deeper into what you just said about intimacy. In your book, you talk a lot about that and you talk about knowing the difference between if you're fusing with someone or not because that can have a tendency to allow us to lose ourselves. So here we are, we're in an intimate relationship, how do we not lose ourselves? What is this fusion?
Charlotte Kasl: Fusion, fusion comes from fear fusion is I need you like me. It's not matters to me. My self-esteem is based on you liking me, so I'm going to act charming and I'm going to tell you what I think you want to hear, I'm going to dress the way you want to see me, and I'll lose myself. That’s where we're going off the spiritual path. The term differentiation is often misunderstood to me in that kind of rouged individual thing, but it's not that. It's that I can look at another person and know they're just doing what they're condition to do. Whatever they say or do is about them and I don’t interpret it. I may like it or not like it, but let's say if someone’s late, do I say they don’t care about me? No, I don’t interpret it. I just say they're late and I ask them what does that mean? But when we're fused, we attribute lots of meaning into what people do. We interpret it like “You're controlling me, that means you don’t care or if you love me, you would bring me flowers today.”
The truth is, we don’t know what other people would do if love this, they may have different ways of expressing it, but what we can look at is how does this feel to me? You know, when this person doesn’t show up or he's late, do we say they don’t care and try to pressure them to be on time? No. We can say, “You know, I don’t find it comfortable when you're late or when you don’t call.” Then, if they keep doing it, well, that’s what it is and we have to accept that’s the way that person is. Now, can I really accept that in good faith and relax around it or is it something I don’t want to be with?
It kind of like we're gathering information when we date someone, instead of jumping in to try to change them. So many times people get together with hopes that change the person or because they have potential. It's not a good basis for a relationship. The dating, when people meet someone that’s a real match for them, it's very much drenched in sunlight, it's usually a wonderful experience. When I've interviewed people later on, it's so good, and there weren’t a lot of dark shadows around it or worries or that stomach ache or inability to sleep; and generally, people felt quite happy.
Alissa Kriteman: So it's almost as though we can really check in with our body to find out is this really something I can trust versus going through our mind?
Charlotte Kasl: Well, partly. We need our mind, too, because when we fell in love, we're so hard wired to bond that we get amphetamine high from all the chemicals we secrete, that set in love feeling and we can mistake that for love. So we need our mind, too, especially if we've had a string of difficult relationships.
For instance, some people will make a bottomline list and say, “OK, I'm not going to get involve with someone who is using [xx]. I'm not going to get involve with someone who has himself with childhood abuse, because I've been there and it hasn’t worked, I don’t want to do that again.” So we use our mind and our body because the other thing we need is real attraction, and it's attraction to the whole person and it's also sexual.
I teacher there and I went there for a long time, Steven Molinsky said, “On a scale of one to 10, if 10 is you can't get your hands off each other and five is take it or leave it and zero is forget it, you want to have an eight, nine, or 10. You want to have that spark, because that’s the spark that lasts a lifetime for many people. That’s a different spark than just getting high [xx] the one who is going to take care of every dream and life will be fabulous and everything’s taken cared of.
Alissa Kriteman: Yes, exactly. Some other people that I've interviewed, there's this “Yes, you have to wait after you've met someone because it's important for us to understand what's happening in our bodies and the chemicals flood that are skewing our ability to be rational thinkers, and yes, at the same time, checking with our bodies. So it's a wonder people even--why there's so much suffering around dating because there's all these stuff going on. Then there's, “OK, how do I know I'll lose myself in this thing? I don’t want to fuse him and come from this fear-based place.”
So talk to me a little bit about differentiation. When understanding intimacy, there is fusing, fear-based, putting a lot of meaning, but then there's a flip side to that. Tell me about that, the more healthy way to approach intimacy.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, it's like I see that other person and they're doing what they do, and I check in with my feelings. How do I feel about that? What am I like around them? Is there a fit and a flow?” That’s what you really want to check for. It's not a trophy partner, it's this feeling of a flow and it's easy and it's fun. Then maybe things to talk about, but there's a joy that goes on.
So again, differentiation is something we can really see that other person is just who they are and we like that person the way they are. You see people making a lot of rationalizations because they're so desperately want a partner. It's like, “Well, you can't have everything. They're pretty good, at least they don’t hit me. It's better than the last one.” But the people who have these vibrant long term relationships really enjoy, adore, light up when they see that other person. So that is part of taking time.
And the fusion is so much fear that when I add another piece to this, is people think differentiation means you don’t have need, and actually we can own our needs. I can say when I'm hurt, “I'm sad. I need comfort.” That’s part of differentiation because it's honesty. We do have needs, and I think we've been taught a lot that you shouldn’t be so needy. From where I come from, needy is fine. We need to express it and get it [xx] in healthy ways.
We do need people, and if we really look to ourselves, we ache and hurt but there's nothing like the arms of another person. When we can't turn to another person, we withdraw, we tighten up, we go away; and a huge part of relationship that’s wonderful is if we can learn when we're in need to reach out that hand for help. Indeed, that’s one of the great markers of people overcoming trauma is that they can give and receive help when they feel scared in need. They don’t withdraw. So differentiation is kind of like an open mind and open heart and we can engage deeply because we know we can also say, “No, I need to go now.”
Alissa Kriteman: Boundaries.
Charlotte Kasl: Yes.
Alissa Kriteman: Great, perfect. I love that.
Charlotte Kasl: And being vulnerable.
Alissa Kriteman: OK, so we're going to take a short break to support our sponsors. This is Alissa Kriteman, your host of “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex.” I'm with Charlotte Kasl, author of “If the Buddha Dated” and we will be right back.
Alissa Kriteman: Welcome back. I'm Alissa, your host of “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex”. We're speaking with Charlotte Kasl about why we have such a deep desire to be in a relationship, understanding intimacy, knowing the difference between if we're entering a relationship out of fear or if we're entering a relationship out of love and acceptance, and an open minded heart.
Now we're going to talk about making peace with our parents and how that can help us have extraordinary intimate relationships. So Charlotte, talk to me a little bit about why healing, making peace with their parents is so important.
Charlotte Kasl: Well, I think it's making peace with the parents that live inside our heads. We may not be able to make peace with the parents out there, but let's say I was yelled at a lot or hit a lot as a child. So when someone raises their voice, I'm going to flinch, I'm going to pull away. Even if they only raised it on a scale of one to 10, to about a two, I may have this hard wiring go off that says, “Danger!” and that might make me run away.
So I need to go in and have help with all those triggers from childhood, those places where I get scared, those places where I want to withdraw and look at them and process them so I separate out this new person is not my mother. One of the things I hear from men a lot in couple counseling is like, “Oh, oh, I'm in trouble.” Now, that’s a kid’s statement, right? That’s not an adult’s because if this is your beloved and your partner, you’re not in trouble, there maybe difficulty you need to talk over. But when you feel those adolescent or even younger kind of thoughts come up, that means there's unfinished business. So we can listen for those, it's like panic about someone leaving us.
Now, it may be we've partner with someone who is ambivalent and doesn’t stand [sp] but if that panic about being left pervades all our relationships, then we need to look back to our childhood and that we were left a lot and that panic is very physiological when it goes off and it feels very real. Of course, when someone gets angry at someone and terrified they're going to leave, that’s usually a little kid part of us, “Mommy, don’t leave me, don’t leave me. I'll feel alone, I'll fall in to the abyss.” That’s how people experience it so often when a partner wants to be separate or to leave, so that oneness and separateness is a developmental thing. So the more we can feel our separate self, the more we can allow our partner to go off and do what they do, “I'm not get jealous, I'm not going into those little baby states or little kid states.”
Alissa Kriteman: That is so important. You're saying really important things here. One is noticing our reactions and triggers such that we actually have the ability to own them. So you're telling us being responsible for noticing those triggers when they're going off and not projecting on to the other person how they are, they send our own confusion in our mind. Yes?
Charlotte Kasl: Absolutely. It's the ability to finally say, “Oh, oh, I'm triggered. I'm feeling really little. I don’t want to talk about that right now.” You know, four year olds aren’t very good at processing things. It's just saying, “Oh, oh, I'm getting scared, let me just take a minute. Can you give me a hug? I'm feeling scared. It's about me.” Again, there's that the line to [xx] because some of these maybe being triggered by your partner that if I keep getting scared or jealous is a big one.
A good relationship will want the friend to go out, the partner to go out and be their biggest self and have other friends. If we start wanting to keep them to ourselves and hold on to them, well, let's look at developmentally how old that is. That’s a little tiny kid, you know. They're wanting Mommy to be there all the time, and often we get to the terrible and what's “terrible” about them is that we really find that Mommy has other people in her life and we're not the center of the world and we have to move through some of that Narcissism that we thought we're the center of everything. Often we find out we're not, it's very upsetting.
Some people are still getting upset over that at 30 or 40 or 50 or whenever. They think they should be the center of someone’s world. Again, that’s sort of tying in the differentiation and differentiation is that we've learned that we're not. But we have a lot of great trails such as we get to have wonderful circle of friends and relationships and interests and passions.
Alissa Kriteman: Yes, I love that. I love what you said about the oneness of being in the relationship with the person and then also having a healthy boundary and balance of being separate from that person. So what are some of the ways say we're triggered in the moment, say we are having a jealous fit, he said, “X, I'm busy the whole weekend” and we're dating and we're trying to figure out what that means. So what are some things we can do so we don’t get lost in that mind spin of, “Oh, maybe he's seeing other people. Maybe I'm not that important, blah, blah, blah.” Is there something that you suggest to your clients to control or help allay their mind from getting out of control? Mostly, men just say “X”, they don’t lie. They're like, “I'm busy” for whatever reason. It doesn’t really necessarily mean anything about us.
Charlotte Kasl: It may or it may not, you don’t really know. But what you know is they're not available this weekend. So you go back to being kind of an observer. It's like, “Well, OK, that’s what they're doing.” Again, a skillful person will explain “It doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. I really have this prior commitment I need to do. I'll see you Monday.” That would be a much more skillful way to tell someone you're not available for the weekend because you would want to put their mind at rest.
Alissa Kriteman: Right.
Charlotte Kasl: So it's kind of a dance you do together. But if someone says, “Yes, I'm busy for the weekend. I can't see you.” That usually going to trigger someone into, “What does that mean?” And it's OK to ask “What's that about?” If they say, “Oh, nothing, I got things to do.” OK, well then, we want to hear that. Notice that it feels not good inside and say, “OK, I'm gathering data on this person.” So they just cut off and take off for the weekend and they don’t seem that interested. You see what's [xx], well then you'll find out if you have a conversation if they can kind of rise to talking. So you'll say, “OK, well, is there something wrong? Can you tell me what that’s about?” If they can rise up and say, “Yes, it's about this prior engagement I had and it doesn’t mean I don’t care about you because I really do, sweetheart. I'd love to make a date to see you next week.” That’s a lot different than just saying, “Well, I need some space and don’t be so pushy?”
Alissa Kriteman: Right.
Charlotte Kasl: That shows you the person is getting really scared, so you need to see it. I hike a lot around here in Montana, so I tell people, “You know, it's like when you see a grizzly bear and you do what's safe to do around that, you don’t go up and have a conversation with it.” So if someone’s doing a behavior that’s scary, well, watch it to take care of yourself. If you get into that place where you're just dying to call, you can hardly keep your hand away from the phone and you're freaking out, all right, that’s a place where you can do some growing. You're in a trial state. You're really done in a little place, and that’s where it's great if you can [xx] do an emotional freedom technique. You can do yourself or talk to friend or just go through the weekend and say, “The reality is that person isn’t here for me and I'm freaking out.” So keep talking to yourself, go be with friends, and remember, you're gathering information.
Alissa Kriteman: I love that. I love that you said emotional freedom technique because I interviewed a woman about emotional freedom techniques because that is one of the amazing techniques I've learned for exactly what you just said. So ladies, go back and listen at Kate Winch on ESP. It's an amazing piece to help us as we are dating to understand men and understand ourselves. Yes, we might get a little freaked out and that there are things that we can do in the moment to help calm down, get clear, get back into a centered place and have I call it the “healthy probe” out of what you said, like we can have a healthy probe into something someone has said, instead of getting lost and are triggered about it.
Alissa Kriteman: Right, because when we get lost in the trigger, we go “Well, see? You don’t care about me.” We get into that attack mode and then they are really going to stay away for a long time. But you know, I want to send out a note about this is that, yes, the emotional freedom technique I'm really glad you're recommending that because you can take like an eight anxiety level on a zero to 10, and often get it down to at least a three or four which is more manageable in maybe 15 minutes.
So that’s a wonderful thing to have, but I want to say the other thing. When I've been in a relationship with someone who really wanted to be with me, I didn’t have any anxiety at all because I could feel in my body and in my heart that person was there. They let me know in so many ways--I feel now in my life so loved, so cared for. It doesn’t ever crossed my mind that you think it could happen except that I'm going to be cherished and talked about and talked to wonderfully and loved and that we can talk things over. Earlier on, I had a relationship like that also and there was just no doubt in my mind.
Alissa Kriteman: Yes, and tell me if you agree or not, that comes from a deep, deep love of self because you won't tolerate anything less.
Charlotte Kasl: Well, I won't say necessarily because you know that longing is also what takes us into trouble sometimes. Because having had several relationships in my life, we start messing with our minds and we start making rationalizations and excuses for the other person and that’s a thing of fusion also. We're trying to put a square peg in a round hole. We're making all kinds of reasons to excuse someone’s behavior, when the truth is [xx] feelings about it. I didn’t like that, it didn’t fee comfortable, I feel scared. My gut is telling me this isn’t going to work or that they're not really here and really listen to that.
I mean, I've gone enough off in my own head with someone because they were fun, they were delightful. If they think they want to be there but something in my gut was getting nervous and I couldn't get words for it and they didn’t give me words for it, that my concentration got worse, my life got a little off centered and that’s a big sign to us. When we're starting to get off centered and starting to not sleep and not eat and get very nervous inside and it doesn’t feel right, usually something is going on under the surface that we're not paying attention to.
Alissa Kriteman: Yes, because we're such sensitive beings, we are energy, we're made of energy and I think we forget that sometimes that we can actually feel that and to trust and honor that is such an important part of dating and relationship.
Charlotte Kasl: Absolutely, so you really are tune in to your body or you're getting gut aches or you're having all kinds of physical problems and headaches and getting so anxious and nervous. It's thing to get a little turned on and excited and this is wonderful and there is a joy to it; but it's another thing to turn into a nervous wreck.
Alissa Kriteman: Yes, exactly.
Charlotte Kasl: We need to pay attention to that, because if someone’s really there, generally you'll feel a kind of security. Now, you may feel old feelings from the past, that it will be something that then you can start looking to heal. If I can say that about relationships, there's kind of the folklore is that you have to behold that relationship. Well, we have learned to know ourselves in relationship and actually heal in relationship when we get a caring partner. I've seen it very often. We find that people who don’t have good sexual lives often had abused but I've interviewed couples that have a good sexual life who had abuse in the background because they were so healing for each other.
Alissa Kriteman: Yes, yes.
Charlotte Kasl: And they created the safety that was needed to be able to relax inside and trust someone because trust is that very, very deep issue when we've had trauma or loss or grief, it's hard to trust, and that’s where we use our heads. I suggest in this book people make a bottomline, “OK, if someone stands me up and I call them up about it and they get mad or blame me or make excuses, that cross the bottomline. Off the list, just forget it.
Alissa Kriteman: Yes.
Charlotte Kasl: Another one is blamer, people who blame basically want the world to change for them, the prognosis for any sort of change for intimacy is pretty much zip. So if someone who’s always saying, “Well, it was about the weather, it was about my mother, it was about this” as opposed to “You know, I was late. I'm really sorry, I blew it and I apologize for hurting you.” Now, that’s an appropriate answer. And the ones who are talking about a past partner really with anger and hostility and negativity, be careful and listen to yourself as you're doing that. You're needing to get that sorted out and [xx] out, sort of carrying that into another relationship.
Alissa Kriteman: I should have talk to you last year.
Charlotte Kasl: Well, [xx] to myself a few years ago about all these.
Alissa Kriteman: Charlotte, I could talk to you all day but we have to go. How can we find you?
Charlotte Kasl: OK, I have a website, it's in need of repair but anyhow it's there, it's CharlotteKasl.com. It lists all my books and has and empowerment model and some of the workshops I'm doing and talk and so forth.
Alissa Kriteman: Great! So CharlotteKasl.com is where you can find Charlotte, her work, her workshops, where she's going to be, her books. Definitely, ladies, if you're out there dating, “If the Buddha Dated” can be such an important resource and guide for you on your path.
Listeners, I also want you to know that you can email me at Alissa@PersonalLifeMedia.com, give me your comments of the show, ask questions, offer ideas, I'm here for you, I'd love to hear what you have to say. Also for text and transcripts of this show and other shows in the Personal Life Media Network, please visit our website at PersonalLifeMedia.com. Also, if you want to get my book, “Living Your Dreams”, just go to the TheDreamer.typepad.com, you'll find that.
So Charlotte, thank you so much for your wisdom and being with us today. It was such a pleasure.
Charlotte Kasl: Thank you. It was a pleasure for me, too.
Alissa Kriteman: Yes, I definitely want to have you back so we can talk about “If the Buddha Married” because like I said, I could talk to you for hours today. So maybe we can go a little bit deeper in that interview as well.
Charlotte Kasl: That would be wonderful, I'd love to do that.
Alissa Kriteman: Great! So listeners, thank you for listening. Again, I'm your host, Alissa Kriteman, always expanding your awareness and choices here on “Just for Women: Dating, Relationships, and Sex”. Tune in next week for more juicy [xx] in a little moment of time.
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