Are you expanded or are you contracted? If you want the essence of the wisdom of this
chapter, that is it. Divorce happens because two people contract to the point that they
want nothing more than to dissolve a commitment and a relationship that they entered
into blissfully sometime before.
And does this only happen when we divorce? Of course not. Our business relationships,
our friendships, and even the very best marriages all go through cycles of expansion and
contraction. It’s the nature of life. However, to remain contracted, to remain separated
or alienated from another is only the result of confusion–thinking anyone outside of us
is responsible for our experience of life.
The secret to staying in love in any relationship, is to find the way back to expansion
when we contract. This chapter will share some ways of doing that, and the most
important one is just realizing it when we contract and having the desire to once again
open our hearts and minds.
Notice when you begin to contract and ask yourself to return to expansion. And if you
don’t, let it be OK. Know that you need some time to heal, then you can expand.
In the Bible it is said, “Ask and it will be given unto you.” So, notice when you contract,
and then ask to open again. You’ll find what you need to be able to open again comes
when you ask and are willing to receive.
A Model of Staying in Love
We were once married. We are no longer. Yet we continue to enjoy an incredible
relationship as best friends and business partners. We have both entered into other
relationships, and have even introduced each other to other people. While our connection
no longer is a romantic, physical one, we continue to have a deeply loving, emotionally
How can this be? A better question would be, how could it be otherwise? We married
because we felt a deep love for each other. What could cause that to change? The
answer is it never did change. But layered on top of our love was a great deal of hurt.
We have been able to return to the love in our relationship, even as the outer expression
of our love has changed, only because we came to realize the hurt we felt had nothing to
do with the other person. It had only to do with ourselves. We hope our story, as told in
our upcoming book, Staying in Love When the Marriage is Over: The Gifts That Are
Possible When The Heart Stays Open, will provide lessons for many, whether married or
Feeling Expanded – Falling in Love
Think about how you feel when you’re feeling expanded. Remember the time when you
were head over heels in love? Didn’t it feel wonderful? Does it get any better? How did
you treat the object of your affection? Did you notice:
- Giving comes naturally
- Being considerate and thoughtful is a joy
- Seeing the best in the other is effortless
- Doing things for the other is a treat
- Listening is fun
- Just the thought of the other brings delight
- Gratitude for even small gestures is spontaneous
- Thinking of the other’s needs is automatic
Is there anything more wonderful than “being in love?” And yet how many marriages
have begun on this heavenly ground, only to be torn apart by acrimony and divorce a few
months or years later?
Ultimately, the love we feel for others is just the love we feel for ourselves. The anger,
hurt, or distress we feel toward others is just those feelings we have about ourselves. The
mistake our intellect makes is to think anything we feel has anything to do with anyone
The reality is our world is as we are. When we feel pain, hurt, anger, or upset toward
someone else, these feelings are the signal to us there is something in us that needs to be
Our emotional body functions in a way that is very similar to our physical body. What do
you do when you feel pain in some part of your body? If you break your arm, do you tell
your arm, “You shouldn’t hurt me. You’re being unkind to me. You should stop making
me feel this pain.” Of course not.
When we feel pain in our physical body, it’s because there is something needing
attention. When we feel pain in our emotional body, it’s for the same reason. We can
blame someone else for our pain, and feel separated and suffer, or we can realize this pain
is a gift to help us heal and step on to another level of loving.
Does this mean we should grin and bear it when we hurt? No. Sometimes we need to
take some time to ourselves and allow the pain to diminish, so we can open our hearts
and minds to the healing.
But what is necessary is to take responsibility for ourselves. To think there is anyone else
but us who is responsible for our hurt, for our unhappiness, for our suffering, is to live in
delusion. We are the responsible party. And the good news is that entering back into
love depends on no one but us.
The message of Staying in Love is life is bliss when we are able to love unconditionally.
And the opportunity to live a life of unconditional love is wholly our choice.
Practical Steps — From Contraction to Expansion
So, what can we do when we feel contracted?
- Notice – We said this at the beginning of this chapter and it’s the most important
thing we can do. Become aware that when you get angry, feel frustrated, are
disappointed, depressed, anxious or tense, these are signals from your emotional
body that there is some emotional wound that needs to be healed. When you
notice contraction, have the desire to return to expansion and ask for help.
- Take time to feel – When we contract, we’ve been trained to try to find some way
to stop the pain. We want to fix it, make it go away. The truth is, when we feel
contracted, the best thing we can do is take some time to allow the emotions to
flow. Be kind to yourself. Take some time by yourself. Feel into your body.
Allow yourself to feel the emotional pain and notice where in the body it is
lodged. Then let your awareness be there. We have found that often we will sob
and sob as we locate that area of hurt. Or we may feel intense anger or other
emotions from that area of the body. When we allow ourselves to feel that area of
hurt, and allow it expression not directed at anyone, but just let it out, guess
what? When the emotions have come out, an amazing peacefulness comes over
us. Now, we are ready to step back into expansion.
- Investigate – No one “makes” us feel contracted. We do that to ourselves. We
have thoughts that conflict with reality and we contract. Investigate the truth of
those thoughts and we naturally and effortlessly return to an expanded state. The
Work of Byron Katie™ (www.thework.org) has been of the greatest value for us
in investigating the truth of our beliefs. Katie’s four simple questions and the
turnaround are incredibly profound. As we investigate our false beliefs and
discover the truth, the world opens up to us. As Katie says, “When we argue with
reality, we always lose, and only 100% of the time.”
- Breathing – When we are faced with some danger, we gasp for breath and stop
breathing. When we recognize that we are contracting, then consciously take
deeper breaths. These deeper breaths will help to settle the body and allow us to
return to an expanded state.
Lastly, don’t wait until you’ve contracted. Begin to live your life so that expansion is
your natural state. For us, this has meant:
- Create a platform for peace – For us, the most effective tool we’ve found
is the Transcendental Meditation™ technique. The TM technique is
simple, it’s effortless and it can be practiced anywhere (www.tm.org).
TM allows the mind to experience the inner state of expansion and then to
begin to live that in our daily lives. The effects of this simple practice
have been profound in our lives. It has been the foundation for the
effectiveness of everything else we’ve done..
- Diet – Ever noticed how your moods swing when you eat certain kinds of
foods? Our minds and bodies are intimately connected, so to live an
expanded state of life requires a balanced diet, with good organic,
wholesome, nutrit ional foods.
- Rest – “What do you mean I’m cranky!!?” Some say that one hour of
sleep between 9 PM and midnight is worth two hours after midnight. One
thing we’ve experienced for sure is that when we shortchange our sleep,
staying expanded just doesn’t happen much.
- Exercise – Don’t we love those endorphins? Those wonderful chemicals
are produced when we exercise and contribute in a big way to feeling
expanded. Take time every day to exercise for 20-30 minutes and you’ll
notice that you’re feeling expanded more and more of the time.
- Inspirational Reading – When we are awake to it, we discover that we live
in a world that is always expanding, that is always filled with love. It is
only our beliefs, our habits, that make us think it is any different. Reading
and absorbing material that helps us to see the world through those loving
eyes is one of the ways we can keep ourselves grounded in a life of love.
That which is true stands the test of time. For this reason, we have found
it especially helpful to go back to some of the oldest writings about the
nature of life and reconnect with that ancient wisdom that inspires us with
the vision of life lived in love.
Copyright © 2003. Janet Attwood and Chris Attwood. All rights reserved.
In the fall of 2001, Janet Attwood and Chris Attwood partnered with #1 bestselling
authors Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Robert G. Allen (Nothing
Down, Creating Wealth) to create The Enlightened Millionaire Program. This
innovative program combined principles of creating wealth with a massive commitment
to philanthropy and set the stage for Mark and Bob’s latest blockbuster, The One Minute
Millionaire: The Enlightened Way to Wealth.
In 2003 Janet and Chris are telling the remarkable story of their marriage, divorce and
the incredible relationship that they now share in Staying in Love When the Marriage is
Over. We invite you to enroll in our monthly teleclasses and receive a chapter a month of
our book for FREE! Just go to:
And may your life be filled with an infinite supply of loving!!
- Create a platform for peace – For us, the most effective tool we’ve found