Burning the Candle at Both Ends Without Getting Burned

PowerPoint Slide Contact Info

Here are the slides from Matthew’s talk at #DENStartupWeek 2014: DSW BurnOut Sept 2014

Here are the Resources & References from the end of the slides:

Gottman Institute

Julie Colwell

Brene Brown

Shawn Achor

Dan Gilbert

TED: Happiness

Martin Seligman

Gay & Katie Hendricks

Five Love Languages

Mayu Sanctuary


Please be respectful of the intellectual property (mine and others’) and give credit where it’s due. Thanks.


Orbiting, Explicit Requests, Self-Growth for Great Relationships


In another great article on establishing healthy partnerships, The Good Men Project offers “10 Things People Who Are Great At Relationships Do Differently.”

Here are three from this list that come up most frequently in my work with couples. Check out the article to read the author’s take and the rest of the list. Here are some of my thoughts on these three:

3. They know when they need some space. I see couples more as two orbiting bodies than two candles becoming one, or choose your ‘two becoming one’ cliche. Two becoming one too easily leads to enmeshment, in which two individuals sacrifice or lose their essential selves in service to the ‘relationship.’ This never ends well. Eventually one or both will erupt in resentment for having ‘given up’ so much (think jobs, independence, hobbies, friends, proximity to family, etc.). It’s imperative that each person preserve their selves, interests, and independent lives, so they can be their best in relationship to their partner.

4. They learn how to communicate authentically.  Listen to your partner with goodwill for deeper understanding, rather than for points to argue against. Make explicit requests to get your needs & wants met, rather than waiting for them to anticipate what you need and simmering in resentment because they’ll never get there. Speak in unarguable truths naming your feelings – it’s never about the dishes, the trash, or bedtime help. It’s more likely about feeling sad, angry, or abandoned.

8. They stop projecting. Own your past, and your future emotional work. Projecting your insecurities onto your partner is a distraction and a destruction of connection. Take responsibility for your own path and request support, not rescue, so you can become the person you want to be in your relationship.

If something here or from this list gets you thinking and you’d like some support to build these qualities into your relationship, reach out here.


30 Lessons About Relationships

While David Artavia speaks primarily to gay men in his article “30 Things I’ve Learned about Gay Relationships While Being Single,” most of them apply to all relationships. It’s a though-provoking list of some big lessons about connecting, love and belonging. Worth a quick read.

Here’s a taste. Two of my favorites and possibly most important:

#17) You teach people how to treat you. The way you handle yourself, whether it’s independently or dependent on others, becomes the catalyst of how society treats you. Don’t be surprised.

#18) No one knows what’s inside your head. People aren’t mind readers. They only know whatever it is you tell them. It’s easy to get aggravated whenever someone can’t relate to you on a personal level, but perhaps you’re not giving them a chance to.

These two points underscore the essential responsibility we each have to own our choices and to communicate explicitly.

To be clear, this article is also flawed, not just for some typos (excuse them; we all make them at times). There are some points that fly in the face of the authenticity, openness and vulnerability I believe are essential to enduring, stable relationships. For example, this:

#8) If you really want him to pay attention to you, pretend you’re less interested than you actually are. It works. And yes, I don’t understand it either. This is different from playing hard to get – that’s a bad thing to do. Simply making him work a bitt harder for your attention tricks him into thinking you’re more valuable. And we all want to be with someone of value.

This just sounds like manipulation. Pretend nothing. Be yourself. If you need more attention, ask for it. If you need reassurance, ask for it. Relationships are about predictability, stability, security. Building them through pretending, faking, manipulating will not lead to stable, secure relationships.

What do you make of the list? What is valuable takeaway and what is problematic for you?


Your Cynicism Is Defeating You

A quick post on Psychology Today recently gives a brief look at new research on cynicism and potential links to dementia. Cynicism is a distrust in the intentions of others or a belief that others are motivated by self-interest alone. It can contribute to negative attitudes, isolation, bleak outlooks, all which take a toll on us. Previous research indicates that people who are more open and optimist have lower risk for dementia.

Takeaway: when you notice your cynicism or negative outlook taking over, take a step back and re-assess. I’ve recently had to do that, at a friend’s prompting, and take responsibility for choices I was making fed by negative stories. I was feeding off of and fostering a negative view point. I got stuck in the drama. When I took responsibility, saw my choice to be in it, I was able to re-write the narrative, find opportunity to change it and my perspective on it. You can do the same.

When we re-orient our mindset to positive outlooks, our daily lives are less drama-filled, more rewarding, and, if the research stands, we lower our risk for dementia.


Build Contentment to find Success, not vice versa.

One of the most common recurring themes in my work with clients is the pursuit of enduring contentment: How can they build on experiences of joy and happiness, fulfillment and contentment, once they’ve emerged from distress? This TED talk by Shawn Achor is one of the first resources I refer them to. In it, Achor discusses his research that indicates when we put our energies into becoming happy (experiencing joy, contentment, fulfillment), we become more productive, more energetic, more successful in our work. When we put our energies into being successful at work thinking it will make us happy in life, the goal line is always being moved and we never get there. It’s time to turn the old formula on its head and focus on developing contentment – being happy. That’s where the energy for developing a successful career lives.