Hi, I’m Itzel Hayward and I’m so excited to be here with you today.
In this presentation, I’m going to show you the three tools you need to transform your current relationship into the relationship of your dreams. I’ll show you how to lay the foundation for passion and joy. I’ll show you how to skillfully cope with challenges, which arise in all relationships—but I’ll show you how to do so in a way that actually brings you and your partner closer together. And I’m also going to show you how to achieve all this without having to give up who you are or what you want. In fact, what I’m going to show you will actually help you get what you want from your partner more easily and more often. And your partner doesn’t even need to take a single lesson or read a single word! I’ve taught these skills to families, couples, and, yes, individuals, with life-changing results.
But maybe you don’t believe it’s possible to make these amazing changes to your relationship. Maybe you don’t believe it’s possible to turn your relationship into a happy and healthy one. And that’s OK. I’m not asking you to believe anything just yet. All I ask is that you pay attention and keep an open mind as we go through this presentation together. Then, when we’re done, you can decide if this transformation is possible for you.
So here’s my big promise to you today. What you’re going to learn from me in this next hour is based on tried and true methods—I’m not just teaching theories. What you’re going to learn from me today has worked not only for the countless spouses and couples I’ve worked with, but it’s also worked for me personally in my own marriage.
But it wasn’t always like this for me.
In 2008, I found myself filing for divorce. I was, in a word, devastated. I couldn’t believe that my nearly seven-year marriage had come to this. I went on a profound soul-searching mission. What happened? How did this happen? What did I do wrong? And how could I keep it from ever happening again? How could I keep my relationship strong no matter what life threw it?
And what I’m going to share with you today is exactly what I learned.
My divorce was long finalized by the time I learned these lessons and skills, but I could immediately see that if I’d learned them earlier, they could have changed everything. So instead, I used them to change myself. And I used them to change the other personal relationships in my life. And when I met the man who ended up being my new and wonderful husband, I brought these skills into my relationship with him. We’re now happily married with a beautiful child and I’m even using these same skills in my parenting. I want to show you what I’ve done—and what I’m still doing every day—to keep my relationship connected, happy, fun, and passionate.
I’ve spent nearly 10 years mastering and teaching these skills and watching them transform couple after couple, person after person, creating satisfying relationships again and again. And what I’m going to show you over the next hour is the framework for exactly how this can be achieved in your relationship.
But before we move forward, I want to be clear who this is for and who this is not for.
Let’s start who this is not for. This isn’t for people who believe that the only way to improve their current relationship is to dissect their childhood relationships. You’re certainly welcome to explore that, but that’s not what we’ll be doing together. This is not for people who are in abusive or violent relationships, or those with serious active addictions. If that’s you, by all means contact me and I’ll direct you to some excellent resources. But the system that I’m going to talk with you about today isn’t the place to start. This isn’t for people who just want methods to make their partner change or jump through hoops to please them, without giving anything in return. I don’t believe such tricks ever result in a happy, healthy relationship. Finally, this isn’t for people who aren’t fully committed to their relationship. If you’re not sure you want to improve your relationship, you won’t be fully committed to this work—and if you’re not committed to the work, you won’t see the results that you want.
So now let’s look at who this is for. I’m looking for people who are totally committed to making their relationship work. This means they’re willing to look at themselves and be honest about what they see. They’re willing to look at their partners and learn to again love what they see. They want to learn skills—new skills that will enable them to relate to their partner in a way that is more likely to foster closeness and connection. And they need to be willing to give. This system does require what I like to call generosity of spirit—especially if there’s a lot of distrust or disconnection to repair.
So to quickly recap, if you’re willing to learn and you’re willing to do the work necessary to create the relationship of your dreams, then you’re in the right place.
Let’s take a look at what you’re going to learn today.
You’re about to learn how I personally created a satisfying, joyful, passionate, connected relationship—a true partnership with my love and best friend. And how you can do it, too. You can start using the specific techniques that I’m going to share immediately—and begin learning how to connect more deeply with your partner in weeks, if not days. You’ll learn what it takes to be present for your partner and understand what is going on for them even during the most painful situations. Not just physically present, but fully present in heart and mind—even when you’re upset. Plus, you’re going to find out how to get more of what you want and need out of the relationship. And you’ll learn how to do so in a way that fosters greater connection between you and your partner. I’m going to show you how to do all of this—just you. Meaning your partner never has to take a single session, never has to read a single word, and you will still get fantastic results. You’ll also learn the most important technique you to need to become your own best friend. Because, before you can create the healthy relationship that you want, you need to have a healthy relationship with yourself. We’re going to cover all of that and much more.
Now, as we dive in, I want to congratulate you for being here. A lot of people never make it this far. I never made it this far in my first marriage. About 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce and I was in that 50 percent. But you’re here now, which means you’re committed to doing the work needed to create a happy, rewarding, and passionate relationship.
And there’s even better news. This work is also tremendously healing. The more my clients do this work, the more they not only learn love their partners, but the more they learn to love themselves. I can’t think of anything better than helping to fill the world with more love… and I do this by helping fill the world with more people who are in love—in love with themselves and in love with their partners.
But maybe you’re skeptical. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by all the information out there. Maybe you feel like you’ve read all the books and heard all the advice. Maybe you’ve even worked with a couple’s counselor and done all the homework. Maybe you fear you can’t both be yourself and make the relationship work. I was like all of that, too.
Or maybe you have hope and have tried other things but you felt constrained by lists of “rules” or do’s and don’ts or “languages” that you don’t like, don’t agree with, or don’t understand. I was like that too... and still am! I don’t do lists of rules. I don’t believe that there is any list of rules that can work for every person in whatever situation and in any relationship, each and every time.
To this day, I have never publicly shared what I'm going to say right now. Back in 2008, I was unhappily married and suffering from major anxiety. I felt like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. I was living in the city of my dreams, my legal career was taking off, I was in the best shape of my life … yet I was waking up every night, heart racing, soaked in sweat and feeling miserable. My relationship was crumbling and nothing I was doing—and I was doing a lot, including books and couples therapy—nothing was working. Disconnection, miscommunication, fighting, lack of intimacy, loss of trust. I was miserable and had been for years. The last straw for me was when my husband took me out to dinner for my birthday with a bite mark from another woman on his neck. I decided then and there that that was it for me. I decided to focus all of my attention on fixing my life. And that’s what I did.
And I’m not suggesting that how I did it is what you should do: the path I took wouldn’t be an easy or practical one for almost anyone. What I decided to do was to quit everything. And I mean everything. I filed for divorce, quit my job as a lawyer, moved out of my beautiful home, and focused all of my energy and attention on understanding what makes people—including myself and anyone else I was in relationship with—tick. And when I say all of my attention, I mean all. I literally lived like a monk (and with a monk!): I moved into an ashram where I lived for over three years. Relying heavily on my psychology degree, I invested practically every dollar I had into the best teachers, coaches, systems, and skills to learn what it takes to create a joyful life and an amazing relationship. Then, inspired by the tremendous positive changes in my life and encouraged by friends who saw the change in me and wanted to learn how to change their own lives, I invested all of the money I had left in learning how to share the information I’d learned with others. I entered two separate certificate programs: one for coaching and one for counseling. I also went through two different in-depth programs on the study of the mind and human behavior. And I eventually became a sought-after teacher and coach, not to mention that I also met my amazing husband and have the relationship and the family of my dreams.
And you definitely don’t have to quit everything. In fact, my Relationship Transformation System that I’m going to go over with you today enables anyone to benefit from what I learned over several years of full time study in a matter of weeks.
Here I am in 2010 on a local television show demonstrating some of these interpersonal relationship skills.
Then came a full-length movie that was released worldwide in 2011, also demonstrating a number of relationship and healing practices.
(That’s my movie husband and son, by the way—not my real family!)
And since then I’ve been offering groups and workshops and working one-on-one with people interested in working on themselves and on their relationships. And the transformation that I’ve witnessed—person after person, couple after couple—has been nothing short of amazing.
Here are some of the things my clients have said:
“She brings out the best in me; and in turn, I shine brighter in the world as a direct result of working with Itzel.” That was from Christopher who was living in New Zealand when I worked with him.
“Itzel feels like a much-needed partner in the business of life,” said Manuella in Washington DC while we were still working together. “I am continuing to work with her, and I can't praise her highly enough,” she said.
Anthony in California said: “I highly recommend Itzel. She will help you on your journey. She helped me.”
“Itzel’s love for the world that can be—the one that has the potential to be at its best when it is filled by people striving to be their best—really comes through and creates very effective coaching that can impact me in ways both pragmatic and sublime.” That’s from Martin in Portland, Oregon.
From San Francisco, California, Francesca said: “Itzel is an absolute delight to work with. She is joyful, kind, wise, and genuinely caring."
And from Shellie in New Orleans: “Learning to live again, in love, is fantastic.”
I hope these words give you hope and inspiration about what’s possible for you. They sure inspire me. It’s the results of my clients—their joy, their love, their fulfillment—that’s why I’m so passionate about this work. Results like these also make me want to help more people. I’ve reached a point where I’ve had to create a waiting list for individual clients. That’s why I’ve created this presentation, as well as a more in-depth course that takes everything I’ve learned, read, and practiced over the years and condenses it all into a simple three-part system that works.
The full course teaches you how to create a happy and healthy relationship not only with your partner, but also with yourself and all of life. You’ll learn how to cultivate open-heartedness, love, and forgiveness. You’ll learn how to dissolve resentments and fear and stress. And you’ll learn how distance, separation, and even conflict in a relationship can be opportunities for growth and deepening connection.
I’ve seen what it’s done for me. And I’ve seen what it’s done for my students and clients. And I’m passionate about helping even more people… people like you—people who believe in love, who love their partners, and who want to make their relationship more than just work… they want it to be great!
I’m passionate about it because I know that it can be done. I know that it can be simple. And I know that it can work. I call it my Relationship Transformation System.
Now, we don’t have time today to go through the entire Relationship Transformation System. But what I can do today is walk you through all three parts and give you a taste of the power of each one. By practicing what you’ll learn today, even without the rest of the course, you’ll begin seeing positive changes in your relationship right away. As we go through this three-part process together, I’ll be telling you stories about real people but I will be disguising their names and details to protect their privacy. In some cases, the stories I share are composites of more than one person, or simplified to reflect the key lessons that I want to share with you today.
And with that, let’s get started:
Here are the three pillars of my Relationship Transformation System. They are: Reflection, Empowerment, and Connection. Using these three practices in a particular order can be extremely powerful depending on your situation. But each practice on its own is so effective that you can do one, two, or all three in any order and still see significant positive results.
As you can see, reflection is the model’s first pillar. What I mean by this is knowing yourself and loving yourself. This idea is probably not new to you. Most therapists and self-proclaimed relationship experts talk a lot about self-esteem and the importance of high self-esteem. And, yes, having healthy self-esteem feels great. But that’s not part of my system. And that’s because I’ve seen time and time again that high self-esteem isn’t going to get you the relationship of your dreams. I could give you story after story about people with all levels of self-esteem—including folks with very low self-esteem—who were able to master this skill and transform their relationships without us once talking about self-esteem. So, what am I going to talk about? Let’s dive right in.
OK, so this pillar that I’m calling Reflection is all about increasing your own internal resources so that you can feel strong, loving, and loved. Feeling loved starts with feeling fully heard and fully understood, and after being fully heard and fully understood, also fully accepted. And my question for you is, do you do this for you?
So many of us engage in really negative self-talk. You judge yourself all the time, all the time, all the time. And if you’re as good at it as I used to be, you even judge yourself for how much or how harshly you judge yourself. It’s a painful cycle to be in and it’s not just bad for you. It’s bad—it’s terrible, in fact—for your relationship.
Because, first, you’re not modeling to others what being loving, accepting, and kind to you looks like—or even that you want that or need that. In other words, you’re subtly sending out a message to others that constantly being judged and treated harshly is what you want, expect, and deserve. So you’ll get more of that from others, which makes you more unhappy, both with yourself and with the other person. Second, your judgment rarely stops with you. If you have impossible expectations of yourself, you’ll judge others through the same harsh lens by default. And when you harshly and constantly judge your partner, not only will you start distancing yourself from your partner, but your partner will also pull away from you. No one who wants a healthy, loving relationship wants to open up to someone who doesn’t like them—who is constantly thinking (or saying) critical or judgmental things about them. They don’t want to be around someone who is regularly giving them the message that they’re not good enough. So making sure that you’re loving yourself is essential.
And it’s also important that you love yourself in a manner that benefits not only you as an individual but also your interpersonal relationships. Like I mentioned earlier, you hear a lot of folks talking about self-esteem. It’s all about increasing your self-esteem, they say. And, yes, having high self-esteem feels good. It has even been found to be related to some behaviors that positively contribute to relationships. However, there have been more recent studies on self-esteem that show that overall, high self-esteem is only weakly linked to relationship health. And in fact, when a relationship is in trouble, people with high self-esteem are more likely to engage in behaviors that actively contribute to the deterioration of the relationship, including seeking other partners. So, working on inflating your self-esteem more and more isn’t the answer.
Instead, the primary focus of my work with my clients is to cultivate a slightly different type of self-love. I call it self-compassion. Like self-esteem, self-compassion is also associated with feelings of well-being. But unlike self-esteem, self-compassion actually benefits interpersonal relationships—romantic and non-romantic ones alike. In fact, in studies, not only did the self-compassionate people report higher levels of overall relationship well-being but the partners of self-compassionate people (even if they weren’t self-compassionate themselves) did too. So that’s one really important part of the Reflection pillar.
Reflection is also about learning how to take care of yourself. To know how you’re feeling, to accept whatever it is that you’re feeling, and to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. So many of us feel like we have to be “fine” or “OK” or “get over it” when we’re not doing well. And sometimes that works. Sometimes we really can just shake something off. But sometimes, the idea that we need to shake something off or get over it does more harm than good. Pushing down or burying feelings doesn’t work because they inevitably come out—sometimes in unusual or unexpected ways. It can manifest in physical symptoms—like illness or physical pain. It can negatively impact our mental health and lead to anxiety and depression. It can also show up as lashing out at the people around us… including our loved ones… including our partner—whether that person has anything at all to do with it or not! So the Reflection pillar also includes a self-care component.
Another thing you’ll hear out there is that feeling good about yourself is completely a result of what you give to yourself. That it’s a job that only you can do for yourself. And yes, you do have to do the work to love yourself and to take care of yourself (and I have plenty of relationship tools that can help you do just that). But there are also ways to encourage your partner to give you more love and to give you more care. And that’s what the Empowerment stage can help with.
My Relationship Transformation System is based on the belief that you never have to feel like you’re in a win or lose situation with your partner, where you have to choose between either focusing on taking care of you and getting what you want (everyone else, including your partner, be damned). Or giving up everything you want so that your partner gets what they want (and too bad so sad for you and what you want). Or, even worse, you’re compromising what both of you want so that neither of you get what you want and instead you meet somewhere in the middle, where you’re a little dissatisfied but your partner is also a little bit dissatisfied, so neither of you can really say anything to the other one. Look, my Relationship Transformation System helps you to build a happy, healthy relationship. And there’s no way to get there if one of you is willing to always be a little unhappy as long as the other one of you is also a little unhappy. Unhappiness plus unhappiness is not the formula for happiness! So this is where the pillar of Empowerment comes in.
When I talk about being empowered or empowerment, I mean the ability to get what you want. But not just in any way. You can always coerce, or bully, or trick, or force someone to give you what you want, but as you can imagine, that’s not going to contribute to a healthy, happy relationship. When I talk about being empowered, I mean knowing how to ask for what you want.
Now, some people just don’t like to ask for what they want. And there are a lot of reasons for this. They think that their partner should know what they want. Or they’re afraid of the response they might get from their partner. Now, I’ve been helping my clients overcome their barriers to asking for what they want for many years because I know that the path to a happy, healthy relationship includes getting what you want and deserve. And once you start asking for what you want, you’ll see that too.
Take for instance a client of mine—I’ll call her Therese. Therese was a relatively new client at the time that she told me that she was infuriated by her spouse. Apparently, at the end of each work day, he would regularly leave his shoes in the middle of the entryway of their home. She would kick them to the side and out of her way whenever she noticed them there, but she never said anything to him about it.
“He’s a grown man,” she would say to me. “He knows he’s not the only one who lives here. He should know how to put his own shoes away.” When I talked with her about asking him directly to put them away, she told me that it had actually gotten to the point that she didn’t want to ask him because she was so angry, she knew she wouldn’t be able to ask him calmly and was worried that the conversation would not go well at all.
So, first, we worked together to address her anger—which included accepting it exactly as it was and taking care of her through it. (And let me say here that, now that Therese has all of the tools of the full Attuned Relationship System, this is something that she herself can now do on her own with or without her husband’s help.) And then we took the time to formulate a simple and skillful request of her partner. And when she asked him in a skillful way, it ended up being a really easy yes for him.
But even if he hadn’t said yes, if he had said no or pushed back, Therese had the tools she needed to keep the conversation with her husband going in a way that was connecting. And, in fact, as Therese began making more requests, she did find that sometimes she heard yes and sometimes she heard no, but either way, she was able to stay connected with her husband. And then, as she continued practicing with all tools of my Relationship Transformation System, she found that, even when she heard a no at first, she was able to get what she wanted almost all of the time.
And I’ve seen over and over that those folks who don’t ask for what they want (and who also don’t get what they want), often stew quietly. They are full of anger or resentment, which isn’t good for them or their relationships. Then there’s the other end of the extreme: demanding what you want. This can be either by being very forceful or by insisting and asking over and over and over until you get the response you want. Again, as you can imagine, this is not good for either person and not good for the relationship.
And it’s not uncommon for people to do a combination of these two things. Where they seethe silently not getting what they want for so long that they finally explode. They get to their limit of not getting what they want that there’s suddenly that one thing, the metaphorical straw that finally breaks the camel’s back. And they absolutely demand it with a lot of forcefulness and energy—and it might not even be something that important to them! But it feels important to them to finally get a yes for whatever it is. And to their partner, their forcefulness may seem disproportionate to the thing that they want, because they weren’t aware of all the times the person was sitting silently and not getting what they wanted. Not only is this unhealthy and disconnecting in a relationship, it often creates a dynamic where both partners live in completely different realities.
For example, I worked with this couple—I’ll call them Ian and Pat. As I got them to talking, they were both really surprised to hear that they had a completely opposite view of the relationship than the other one did. Ian rarely asked for what he wanted, but when he did, it was usually with an explosive rage. He said, “I NEVER get what I want.” Ian was, of course, thinking about all of the things that he never asked for (and thought Pat should know he wanted) but never got.
Pat, shocked, said, “What are you talking about? You ALWAYS get what you want.” From Pat’s perspective, whenever Ian asked for things, it was so frightening to Pat, that Pat always gave Ian what he wanted. And Pat had no idea that there were things Ian wanted that he wasn’t asking for! Pat was actually really surprised and even a bit emotional realizing that Ian was sitting on all of these wishes and desires that he had never shared. And this actually allowed Ian to realize that this idea that he had about Pat, that Pat didn’t care what he wanted, was all in his head—it wasn’t true at all.
After that, Ian and Pat and I dove into my Relationship Transformation System.
Ian and I in particular explored what was keeping him from asking for what he wanted (a pattern that we discovered existed in other friend and family relationships as well). I taught Ian the system’s tools and powerful strategies, which included how to approach those times when he believed Pat should know what he wanted. This included empowerment and how Ian could ask for what he wanted in a skillful way. Ian is still practicing my Relationship Transformation System but, within days of adopting just the empowerment tools, he saw a dramatic effect. He was happier and more satisfied and, in Ian’s words, he and Pat were closer than ever.
So, asking for what you want in a skillful way is essential for a happy, healthy relationship. What do I mean by asking in a skillful way? Not only that your partner is going to want to say yes and give you what you want. I go into this in much more detail in my Relationship Transformation System. But basically, skillful requests cultivate connection and closeness just in the asking. That’s right, just by skillfully asking for what you want, that will move you toward the happy, healthy relationship you are looking for.
So, we’ve covered Reflection and Empowerment. And you can see how the two work together. Empowerment requires the self-knowledge and self-love that Reflection brings. And as you develop the self-knowledge and self-love that arises from Reflection, you become more and more willing to take care of yourself and ask for what you need. Connection fits right in here because the more connection there is between you and your partner, the more likely your partner will want to say yes to your request and the more likely your partner will support you in cultivating self-love.
So let’s look at the Connection pillar.
The three foundational pillars of my Relationship Transformation System strengthen each other. So, no matter how much you’ve Reflected and cultivated self-compassion. No matter how Empowered you feel. If you don’t have connection, you can’t have the kind of happy and healthy relationship we’re talking about here. You will probably have a more peaceful relationship. And you will probably feel a lot better about yourself and your ability to take care of yourself in the relationship, but the level of closeness and open-heartedness that we’re talking about here today won’t be there in your relationship. And this is where the power of Connection comes in.
So, there are many different ways that we can create connection… most of us have habitual ways to try to do so. We all know the joker—that friend who never seems to take anything seriously, who has something funny to say about everything… even the most painful things. That’s one way that people try to create connection: through humor.
And we probably all know someone who is a chronic advice giver. You know, that person you go to if you need a problem solved… but avoid if you just want someone to listen. That too—advice giving—is a way people try to show care and create connection. There are other ways too—some of which work better than others. But, with all the research and study that I’ve done, there’s only one that I’ve incorporated into my Relationship Transformation System because it’s the only one that I’ve found works almost all of the time. And that’s the practice of cultivating an open-hearted curiosity about your partner’s experience. Because this is what almost everyone wants: for someone to hear what they have to say and to understand what they have to say. Even if they don’t understand, it’s often enough just to know that they are trying to understand.
So, what does this mean, this curiosity that I’m talking about? It means paying close attention to what your partner is communicating, either verbally or non-verbally, and not making any assumptions. Staying open-minded and not jumping to your own ideas, thoughts, beliefs, whatever. And you do this in three ways: through your thoughts, your words, and your actions.
When I say your thoughts, this is actually shorthand for your internal experience, your mindset—what you are thinking, feeling, believing. Words are how you begin to create an open, receptive place for your partner. And your actions are things you can do specifically to connect.
Let’s discuss each of these components in more detail.
First, thoughts. Now to call these thoughts is a bit simplified, because we’re not talking only about what you’re thinking. It’s also what you’re believing and feeling. This component begins to move you into a state of empathy. It doesn’t mean agreeing with, condoning, or accepting what they are thinking, saying, or doing. Instead, it’s holding your partner with empathic understanding. And here’s the thing about empathy. Paul Anderson and Sara Konrath, Psychology Professors at the University of Michigan, compare the ability to empathize to a muscle. They write:
I’d also add that, even the most empathetic person sometimes needs to make a real concerted effort to empathize. If you are already able to easily empathize with your partner’s experience in most situations, you have a head start. But even if you don’t, the second component of this element of Connection will be very helpful to you. Because that’s where you’ll learn how to cultivate it—it’s where you’ll learn how to strengthen that empathy muscle.
The second component, the words, are what help you strengthen that muscle. Now, it doesn’t matter how easily and naturally empathy comes to you, there are times that it is challenging. And nowhere is that truer than in our closest relationships. The spiritual teacher Ram Dass says:
And I think that what he’s pointing to is the fact that no matter how open-hearted and peaceful we may feel or may even generally be, it’s our relationships with the people closest to us that challenge us the most.
So, my Relationship Transformation System includes a Connection Template. This template makes up what I’m calling the "words" of the Connection Pillar. It is a guide that was developed by a world-renowned psychologist to help us strengthen our empathy muscle. And the way this tool fits into My Relationship Transformation System has given hundreds of individuals and couples powerful and life-transformational results. One of the things people love the most about my Relationship Transformation System is that this Connection Template can be easily adapted and personalized to be powerful for you. Best of all, it leads you directly into an empowered action that is in alignment with your values. And I’m not talking about theory. This is exactly how it worked in my life.
In my first marriage, once I had gotten to the point where I had given up on my ex—on us—I filed for divorce and I moved on. He and I were no longer speaking. But I hadn’t told anyone else exactly what had happened between us on my birthday because I was so ashamed and embarrassed. And I was outraged. In my mind, what he had done was absolutely inexcusable and unforgivable. And by the time I began my journey of extensively studying what makes relationships work, he was long out of the picture. But then he contacted me.
Seemingly out of the blue, he sent me an email. I didn’t even have to open it. Just seeing his name in my Inbox made me literally gasp out loud. And that old burning anger and blame and shame flooded through me. But this was after about a year or so of practicing nearly all of the skills that I put together to create my Relationship Transformation System. I was pretty deep into my journey at that point. I had had enough practice with a lot of these skills to be able to do some self-reflection and take care of myself. And then I checked my thoughts and made the choice to begin calming down. That was really the best I thought I’d be able to do. Just calm down before opening the message. But then I applied the Connection Template and I’m not kidding when I tell you, my blame and anger toward him melted away.
I still didn’t agree with his behavior. I still wasn’t condoning it. And I knew that I would never want to do that to anyone else and that I wouldn’t ever want to be in a relationship again with someone who did that to me. But the anger and blame were gone. And they were replaced with compassion and empathy. I was able to take skillful action, which in this particular situation was to respond to the email in a way that was empowered and in a way that I felt good about. And it kept the peace between us— and within me! —for the rest of our dialogue… which I can say that for me, with that relationship, was no small feat.
The third and final component of connecting is the action that we take. There are a few different options. But one of these includes opening up a dialogue beyond the words step, beyond the template. And what makes what you say connecting? Let me go into a bit more detail as to that.
First, what you say is about your partner’s experience. In this moment, it is all about them. At this point, it is very common for people to shift the attention to themselves. It can be overt or it can be subtle. It takes a very self-reflective person to knows how to keep the focus completely on the other. And it takes a very empowered person to be willing to do it again and again and again.
Second, a connecting action is vulnerable—it exposes more of who you are. But it does this without shifting the attention to you. And it gives your partner the space to understand themselves more deeply. And to share more of themselves with you. In other words, you are not only connecting but you are actually creating space for your partner to open themselves up and for your connection to deepen and grow. Now, what’s interesting is that you don’t even have to say anything out loud to your partner. You can run this dialogue silently.
Now, you might notice that all of these components can both be done silently. At this point, sometimes people ask me, “Well, if they can be done silently, do they even have to be done at all?” And my answer to that is absolutely yes. Connection isn’t just something you’re trying to get from your partner. It is also something that you need to give to your partner and to give to yourself. Doing these three components of Connection (thoughts, words, and actions), can move you into a state of vulnerability and welcoming. One that your partner can likely sense. And, even if they don’t, they help keep you in a place that allows you to continue moving into connection regardless of your partner’s response. And you can do this—or move back into the Reflection or Empowerment as you need to—again and again for as long as you need to create the connection that you want to create with your partner.
So that’s the behind-the-scenes look at the three pillars of my Relationship Transformation System, the number one system for transforming your current relationship into the relationship of your dreams. With just these three tools, you can begin to lay the groundwork for rekindling passion and joy and skillfully navigating any challenge that life throws your way, all in a way that helps you get what you want from your partner and from your relationship more easily and more often.
Let’s look at how we tie these three foundational skills together for a happier and healthier relationship. So, we now know that when skillfully done, Reflection cultivates self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-acceptance. Empowerment gives you the tools you need to get what you want, while honoring your partner as well. And Connection increases understanding, compassion, and acceptance between you and your partner.
But let me show you one more essential technique. It’s a technique in the Relationship Transformation System that underlies all of its tools and strategies, including the three pillars. It’s a technique that will enable you to express yourself honestly and truthfully through all of these pillars without creating bigger problems. This tool will help you address anything you want to share—no matter how touchy the subject may seem—while helping you keep your heart open to yourself and your partner and avoiding blame and criticism. And it’s based on something just about every relationship expert will tell you—that’s right, for once, I actually agree with them: when speaking with your partner about a difficult situation involving them or their behavior, shifting from "You" statements to "I" statements is essential.
You statements—specifically statements that blame, shame, or judge your partner, as in "you were inconsiderate" or "you never help out"—are one of the quickest ways to sabotage the connection between the two of you. Instead, using I statements, in other words talking about your experience rather than your partner’s behavior, can help keep your communication open and constructive.
I statements were an amazing revelation for me when I first learned it almost 20 years ago. And they are for some of my clients as well, although I’m finding that more and more of them are already using this method when I first meet them. And more often than not, they can’t figure out why their I statements aren’t working. That’s where this additional technique comes in. I statements aren’t enough because if there’s still criticism, blame, shame, or judgment in your statement, it’s still likely to push your partner away or close your partner off. So, when you’re speaking to your partner about a difficult situation involving them or their behavior, don’t just use I statements.
Also state exactly what you are seeing and hearing in the same way a camera might if it could talk. What do I mean by that? Well, a camera can “see” and “hear,” in a sense, but doesn’t have emotions. It doesn’t add judgments or stories to what it sees or hears. We as humans, on the other hand, take in information and judge and categorize everything we see and hear. That’s how we work. And this usually happens almost instantaneously—especially if we have strong feelings or opinions about the information we are receiving. For example, our eyes see our partner leaving their shoes in the entryway and our brain calls our partner messy or a slob.
Now, can you imagine how things might have gone if the client I talked about earlier, Therese, had asked her partner, "Can you stop being such a slob?" It’s very likely that the conversation wouldn’t have gone nearly as well. Instead, she stuck with exactly what she saw: his work shoes on the floor in the entryway. This is not to say that her partner wouldn’t have been upset to hear those words, too, particularly if he was already feeling sensitive or defensive about it, or if he was harshly judging his own behavior. But the power of this tool is that it also helps Therese stay neutral regardless of her partner’s reaction. So it’s not just that she’s parroting the words "your shoes on the floor" but she has used my Relationship Transformation System to really internalize the understanding that anything beyond “your shoes on the floor” is her brain doing a translation. And it’s fine for her to make and believe that translation—I’m not saying she has to be happy with the shoes on the floor or like the shoes on the floor. But thanks to my system, she recognizes her own translation and doesn’t confuse it with being the Ultimate Truth or some Universal Law. This allows her to have the conversation with more objectivity, which immediately starts her off on a more peaceful and connected foot.
Now, if you’re saying to yourself, “But Itzel, I need to live my truth,” I want you to know that I absolutely agree with you. I want you to live your truth. And I believe that the only way you can live your absolute 100% authentic truth and have a happy, healthy relationship (which means your partner also gets to live their absolute 100% authentic truth) is by recognizing that your truth is exactly that: yours. It’s not the end-all-be-all truth. You never have to give it up, but you do always know and understand that there are many layers to the truth. And you need to remember that there’s another experience out there, too—your partner’s truth—whether you agree with it or not, whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not.
My Relationship Transformation System enables you to see and make peace with your partner’s truth without ever giving up your own. And then, the system shows you how to skillfully hold both of those truths as your relationship becomes the relationship of your dreams.
So, all we’ve done today is just scratch the surface of the three pillars of my Relationship Transformation System. But even so, you have three powerful and foundational techniques that alone have transformed individual after individual, relationship after relationship. Including me and my own relationship patterns.
The great news for you is that my Relationship Transformation System is really simple. And if you take just one of the techniques you just learned and begin using it today, you will see an impact immediately—if not on your relationship, or on your partner, at the very least on yourself. And I hope that you do. I hope that you begin today moving toward the relationship of your dreams.
Now the results of my Relationship Transformation System may vary—but the good news is that it varies mostly depending on the extent that you apply it to your life. There are three ways you can use this information that I’ve shared with you today.
You can file it away with all othe other relationship advice that you’ve heard and read. And that’s fine. That’s great—I’m glad that I’ve taught you something today.
Another way that you can use this information is to take it and practice it in your relationship. And like I said, if you do it skillfully, honestly, and with an open heart, you will experience major changes—if not in your partner, at least in yourself.
But if you want to make your relationship the best that it can be—not just so you and your partner are happy, but so that your children, your family, the world can see what a happy, healthy relationship can look like, there’s another thing you can do. You can integrate the entire Attuned Relationship System so completely into your relationship that you don’t need to think about it. You don’t even have to practice it because it’s just a part of who you are. And at that point, you’ll see that not only you and your relationship are transformed, but so is your world.
And if that’s what you want, that true transformation, the happy and healthy relationship of your dreams, then here’s what I have for you:
I’ve set aside time in the next couple of weeks to speak with you personally about how you can integrate the Relationship Transformation System into your relationship. I’ve already given you a few techniques. But we only had an hour together today. What I’d love is to get on the phone with you one-on-on, find out what’s going on in your relationship, find out where specifically you need help, and walk you through what integrating my Relationship Transformation System into your relationship will look like for you. Basically, I want to find out exactly where you are and where you want to go and then tell you the fastest and easiest way to get there. The cost of doing this call together is absolutely free.
I’m offering you this call for free, because I love doing this work. I love talking with people who are really committed to their partner, really passionate about creating a happy and healthy relationship, and then helping them map out a plan to get them to the relationship of their dreams. I can’t live my life again—and there are a lot of things I did and mistakes that I made that I can’t undo. It gives me so much joy and satisfaction to help other people avoid the same mistakes I made or even undo mistakes that they have made before it’s too late for them. I love doing this and I’m ready to do it for you.
I want to be clear, though, that this is not for everybody. You have to be committed to your partner and to your relationship. And you have to be willing to do the work it takes to make it the best it can be.
So to quickly recap, if you can’t figure out how to improve your relationship, but you’re willing to learn and to work to create the relationship of your dreams, then let’s talk. Even if you can’t quite imagine getting to that place of deep, caring connection with your partner, still reach out. You can do this. So as long as you have that commitment to your relationship, that care, that willingness … if that’s you, then reach out.
Why am I doing this for free? Well, on the call I’m going to help you get clarity on what your relationship needs to get your desired results, as well as the very steps that you should take to get there. And I know that you might want me to help you reach your relationship goals. And if you do and if I think that it’s a good fit, I’ll invite you to be one of the new clients that I take on this month. And then here’s what will happen at that point. I will fully train you in my Relationship Transformation System—the same system and processes that I’ve used in my own life and with successful individuals and couples again and again and again. The training is dedicated to getting you to a happy, healthy relationship with the full support of a coach and community behind you, supporting you every step of the way. You’ll never be alone.
If your relationship isn’t where you want it to be and you’re inspired by the power of my Relationship Transformation System, I believe we’re here together in this moment for a reason. You’ve come here to learn some new tools and I hope you have, but please don’t stop there. Find out how to build on these lessons and how to fully and skillfully integrate them into your relationship.
If you want to learn how to do that, all you have to do is click the link below. It’ll take you to a bookings page where you can schedule a call for a time that works for you. Then there will be a few short questions to answer. And that's it. I’ll be in touch on the time and date you've chosen. My goal on the call will be to give you clarity on what your relationship needs to get you to your desired results and to map out the very steps that will get you there.
I hope you've gotten a lot from our time together today and I really hope you're inspired by my Relationship Transformation System and that you’re excited to take action and get results. So, let’s get on the phone one-on-one together so you can get some personalized support. If you want to do that, go to attunedliving.com/free or click the link below then follow the directions to book your call.
And that’s it from me today. I'm truly looking forward to helping you transform your relationship into the happy and healthy relationship of your dreams. I’m Itzel Hayward and I look forward to speaking with you soon.