Some people find the key to a great love life in the pages of a self-help book. For others, all it takes is a weekend seminar, or a deep-and-meaningful conversation with a trusted advisor. For communication and relationship mentor, Carolyn Sinclair, it was just three little words that forever changed her perspective on relationships and helped her discover more happiness and fulfilment in her marriage.
"I was going through a rocky patch with my husband when Gary Douglas, the founder of Access Consciousness, came up to me at a class and asked if the man who had dropped me off was my husband. When I replied 'yes' Gary told me what a nice man my husband was", Carolyn recalls. "Then Gary said three words that changed everything. He said, 'You chose well'".
According to Carolyn, this simple phrase opened her eyes to the things she had been choosing to see, and not see, in her relationship. "Those words made me go and look at what I was creating in my marriage. I hadn't been happy with my husband at all and I realised – what was there in my relationship that I was no longer seeing? What had I blinded myself to?" she remarks.
Since that day, Carolyn, a communication coach and Right Voice for You facilitator, has been dedicated to helping others understand the subtle dynamics that can undermine any relationship. One of the most prevalent – and unhealthy – of these dynamics, she says, is emotional projection.
"What often happens when we are close to someone, is that we begin to project onto them. They become the focus of, and cause of, all our discontent, loneliness, anger and so forth", she explains. "Perhaps we are discontented with what we've created in our lives. This discontent is usually formless and hard to pin down. So, we look for somewhere to place it – and we place it on those we love. I'm discontented with my life becomes I'm discontented with you because you didn't take out the garbage ", she adds.
Carolyn suggests the most powerful way to improve your relationship, is to understand the power of your own choice. "Discontent in a relationship is all about you and what you choose. You chose this person, this relationship. And if you're still there, you're continuing to choose them! You get to choose whether your love life is fun; you can choose how you deal with discontent and conflict", she advises.
Carolyn Sinclair is a voice and communication mentor and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness ® special programs, including Right Voice for You . For more than three decades, Carolyn was a professional classical singer, performing throughout Canada, the USA and Europe, eventually featuring in the Canadian television series, Come into the Parlour. Carolyn has had an interest in energy and subtle healing for the past 20 years and currently travels the world, facilitating classes and online courses. www.zestyhealthylife.com
Question: What inspired you to become a communication and relationship mentor?
Carolyn Sinclair: What inspired me was learning the tools and techniques of Access Consciousness and realising I can share and facilitate them with others – to change whatever they wish in their lives and it was expanding on and using/building on my performance and teaching skills from the music world. I was thrilled to see that I could utilise my many years of teaching classical singing (which requires images, listening and a lot of psychology to be successful) and expand who I could coach and assist.
Question: What's a typical day like for you as a communication and relationship mentor?
Carolyn Sinclair: There is no typical day but my tasks throughout the day can range from; Skyping clients, seeing clients in person, managing email communications with clients and colleagues to teaching singing lessons, hosting an exchange, writing articles or creating classes, events and meeting with my assistant for all of the above. Interspersed with patting my cat.
Question: What were the three simple words that changed your perspective on relationships?
Carolyn Sinclair: The 3 simple words were from Gary Douglas, founder of Access Consciousness, after an event where he met my husband briefly. My husband and I were going through a difficult patch in our marriage. I was thanking Gary after the 3 day class and he asked me 'if that tall man was connected to me'. When I replied "yes", Gary looked straight at me and said, "you chose well." Those three simple words spun me around and changed my perspective on my relationship and all relationships.
Question: How can we understand the power of your own choice, in terms of relationships?
Carolyn Sinclair: My own choice was to start asking questions and start viewing my relationship and behaviour and choices from a 'helicopter' view and see that I was actually creating and exacerbating any problems with my points of view, choices and judgements. When I starting choosing to not react out of habit; when I started choosing to use the tools of Access Consciousness® I was able to change each moment and situation, and then our whole relationship eased and blossomed again into something way more enjoyable and sustainable.
Question: If we only change one thing in our relationship today, what should it be?
Carolyn Sinclair: To be 'interesting point of view' each and every moment. For example, your partner doesn't make the bed again when he promised or remember to pick up some milk – say to yourself "interesting point of view I have the point of view that he has to." Many times I've gone into the bathroom and said 'interesting point of view I have that point of view' over and over and the annoyance or frustration just dissipates as though it was never there. 'Interesting point of view' takes us out of being right and making them wrong. Right and wrong are, after all, are just interesting points of view.
Question: How can we reintroduce joy into our relationships?
Carolyn Sinclair: We can choose to enjoy our life more – every moment. That delicious cup of tea and homemade muffin at breakfast; that phone call to a friend, the movement of our bodies when we exercise, etc. When we choose to feel joyful, we invite more joy into our life and it is infectious. Watch your pet go through his or her day - I learned a lot about joy from my cat, Kona. He is pure joy when he purrs or plays or greets us in the morning, or runs around and jumps up high for no apparent reason. Do we require a reason to be joyful? Life is joyful, if we choose.
I choose to be grateful for everything – good, bad and unexpected. I am grateful for the trees as I go for a walk. I'm grateful for my computer as I sit to communicate. I'm grateful for my husband as he makes us a cup of tea or a meal. And I say it out loud! I'm sure my neighbours think I'm strange when they hear me say 'I'm so grateful' to the trees and birds and flowers. Being in that energy and attitude of gratitude melts everything in its path and creates more joy.
Question: Why is worrying a waste of time?
Carolyn Sinclair: I remember reading something in a novel many years ago where the protagonist talked about worry. If you worry and nothing bad happens, you've wasted that time and energy when you could have been enjoying yourself. If you worry and something 'bad' does happen, you ruined your time leading up to the 'bad' thing when you could have been enjoying yourself. We all know that what we resist persists so choosing to worry can actually create more worry and attract more 'bad' things into your life. Worry is not being 'present' in each moment. You need to be organised, yes, but worry is counterproductive and a waste of your time.
Question: What are six ways we can choose a more fulfilling relationship?
Carolyn Sinclair: Choose Gratitude: "Gratitude is not about finding things to be thankful for, it's about choosing gratitude. I suggest you write down ten things you're grateful for every day. Choose to be grateful for what works in your life."
Choose to create what you desire: "Rather than focusing on what's wrong around you, or everything you'd like to change, ask yourself: How does it get any better than this? It's not about searching for an answer but, rather, allowing the answers to reveal themselves to you. If you're stuck in a rough patch, you may have to ask this many times a day. But just keep asking."
Choose if you'd rather be right, or if you'd rather be happy: "If you find yourself judging yourself as right, and your partner as wrong, tell yourself: Interesting point of view, I have this point of view . This phrase disarms your sense of righteousness and allows you to see that your perspective is simply one way of looking at something. Not better. Not right. Just yours."
Choose not to escalate conflict: "When things are getting heated in my marriage, I giggle. Giggling diffuses drama and trauma and helps you choose a more constructive way of communicating."
Choose to express yourself: "If we aren't able to speak up in our relationship, and feel we must hold it all in, then we aren't choosing to create greater. Your partner may be annoyed if you speak up, or perhaps it will initiate conflict, but it all comes back to the earlier question: How does it get any better than this? "
Choose to keep your barriers down: "If I am approaching a delicate subject or situation, I will say to myself 'barriers down'. This allows my resistance and defensiveness to dissipate and creates a more loving space in which to communicate. By lowering your barriers, you remain vulnerable and open to the others' point of view; you automatically speak in such a way that your words facilitate possibilities rather than conflict."
According to Carolyn, no long-term relationship will remain conflict-free, but recognising what you are choosing for yourself and your relationship makes all the difference. "I've been married for 25 years and we've had our ups and downs; we've had conflicting ideas and tough times. But since that day with Gary Douglas, I have chosen to create more fun, more autonomy and more harmony in my marriage."
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash