Friday, January 27, 2012

The #1 Relationship Mistake Women Make

Women are pretty smart…most of the time. But in this area they’re pretty dumb. In my 25-year psychotherapy practice I found that many women simply do not understand how important it is to take care of their man sexually.

It’s the age-old conflict between men and women. Men don’t get enough sex and women don’t get enough love. Since we’ve become liberated, which has led to exhaustion from the demands of a career on top of running a household, we’ve felt the need to let some priorities go. But sex should never be one of them.

With all due respect to men, they do indeed think with their other head. Especially if that head is hungry. When you’ve gone all day without a meal, are you concerned with the nightly news or with grabbing the fastest thing to make your belly stop growling?

Likewise, men have to have sex. I used to tell my clients that for men, sex is as important as food. Sometimes more important. Think of it this way, Ladies: “The way to a man’s heart is not through his stomach, it’s through his penis. Keep your man happy in the bedroom and he’ll worship you forever.” That’s the main piece of sex advice I gave to my daughter, but I wrote it in a letter so she wouldn’t turn all shades of red.

Women often protest about taking care of their man sexually. “He won’t do the things I ask him to do, so why should I do this for him? I don’t have two children—I have three when you count my husband. He’s insensitive to my feelings and won’t talk to me, so I shouldn’t have to take care of his needs. He’s a dog, anyway, and he’ll want sex twice a day.”

This is where we women need to get wise and be the bigger person. When we feel resentful, it’s hard to be tender. But the rewards are worth it. If we compare having sex with our man to a stock market investment, the return on investment is whopping. Men are hard-wired to take care of their women and families. However, if they are angry they’ll go off by themselves. A man needs sex to feel like a man, and when he feels like a man he’s more likely to perform like a man, not just in the bedroom, but all around the house. Most men don’t need sex every day. They seem like they do because they’re always hungry, but when they feel full, they won’t beg for more.

Many men express their warmth best through sex. Women wish men would talk to them like their girlfriends do, but that’s rare and idealistic. Should we judge men for this, or love them anyway? We hurt ourselves when we place demands on others and get mad at them for not meeting our expectations. We think we’re justified when we judge him as a dog who wants too much sex, but we’re offended when he judges us as withholding. We need to forgive our differences and move on. Forgiveness allows us to rise above the battleground. When we stay in a power struggle, each party clawing to be on top, we both lose.

I consider myself a feminist, but I’m also a realist. Tit for tat does not work in relationships. In general, men need more sex than women, in spite of tv shows like Sex in the City, which suggest otherwise. If we want to save our marriages, the bedroom is the first place to start.

Lorri Coburn, MSW, received her Master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan in 1981. She had a psychotherapy practice for 25 years and now is an interfaith minister who writes and speaks on spirituality, relationships, and forgiveness. She is the author of Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. She is currently working on her second book on forgiveness in relationships.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Love and Betrayal

“You are a slime bag! You’ve sunk as low as you can go! What the hell has happened to you?” I raged inside, fuming over the legal charges my former lover, Kent, had brought against me. I obsessed, “Why? Why? Why? Why couldn’t you just talk to me instead of going to an f-ing court?”

For the next four years I alternated between feeling furious and forgiving Kent. Why did he have to end our relationship with hatred? Who had he become? I swore in anger and wept in grief.

I study A Course in Miracles, (ACIM) whose primary principle is forgiveness. The Course suggests that we turn over our thoughts to the Holy Spirit, which can also be called our inner voice, our Higher Self. Some things we just can’t forgive on our own, and Kent’s betrayal was one of these. The feelings ran too raw and too deep.

I practiced, “Holy Spirit, Help me see this differently. I choose forgiveness. I am not the victim of Kent.” As I held the intention to forgive, the ideas of ACIM began to sink in. A Course in Miracles tells us that our world is a reflection of our thoughts, so Kent’s legal action merely reflected my inner guilt. Indeed, I had felt guilty about my relationship with him for many years. Our relationship began in sordid circumstances, so I felt guilty about that. I felt guilty about still loving him when I was in a good relationship with another man I loved. It began to dawn on me that Kent’s legal charges were not so much about him hating me, as me hating myself.

A Course in Miracles tells us that we don’t realize it, but we are actually making other people act out for us. They merely do what we would have them do. This is a tall order when someone kicks you in the teeth. The Course also reminds us that the guilt we are aware of is only the tip of the iceberg. It took me four years to see it, but as I practiced forgiving Kent, I awakened. The process of looking at my guilt was excruciating. On the courtroom stand I sobbed and sobbed, unable to stop myself. I thought the judge must think I was an unstable idiot, but he gave me a good recommendation.

I would never have seen the depth of this guilt had Kent not brought legal action. I had been involved in a vicious custody battle for my daughter years before, but apparently had not expiated the inner guilt enough. I needed another court battle to see the bottomless hatred of the ego thought system. I actually thought I loved myself. Once I looked at the guilt I could release it, but I couldn’t heal what I didn’t know was there.

Kent was what A Course in Miracles calls my savior. He was my angel in disguise, showing me blocks that needed to be cleared away for me to love myself. Forgiving Kent transferred to forgiving me. The miracle is that I no longer blame Kent for what he did to me, or, as the Course would say, what he didn’t do. I am free. Thank you, Kent.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Love and Loss in Hollywood: Dear John

Boy meets girl. It’s love at first sight. They’re wrenched apart. They reunite.

What is it about this dramatic motif that pulls us in? Why is the theme of love and loss a perennial favorite in Hollywood? We know how the movies are going to end, yet we watch them with first-time wonder.

Dear John was a 2010 box office hit that critics panned but viewers loved. It is a touching love story based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel, illustrating the heart-wrenching decisions we make in the face of difficult life circumstances.

John and Savannah fall in love on spring break and she must return to college while he has a year to go in the Army special forces. Tragedy strikes with 9/11 and John decides to extend his tour of duty against Savannah’s protests. She initially stands by her man and waits, but as time stretches with no return date, she sends him a “Dear John” letter. She’s decided to marry another man who has cancer, so his child, whose mother has abandoned him, will be cared for.

Dear John pulls us in because it reflects the archetypes that move our souls and give our lives meaning. Archetypes are human behavior patterns that cross cultural boundaries, such as the lover, warrior, mother and father. As we watch Dear John we recognize our own struggles with loss and love and the conflicts that opposing archetypes represent.

As lovers, Savannah and John desperately want to be together but John’s warrior nature compels him to re-up in the Army following his country’s worst military trauma since Vietnam. Savannah’s love for John propels her to wait for an extended period, but her feelings for another man, her need to be needed and her mothering instinct take over. The man who woos Savannah knows she loves John in a way she’ll never love him, but his fatherly drive to protect his child overrides his desire to be number one in Savannah’s life.

While many accept life’s losses and struggles as “just the way it is,” others cry out in rage at the injustice of life. Philosophers have speculated about the meaning of life since time began, each coming up with a different explanation. Religions explain away tragedies with various ideas about God’s love for, disappointment with, or indifference to man.

In the past 40 years a new thought system has arisen called A Course in Miracles. It synthesizes Eastern spirituality and Western Christianity and philosophy with Freudian psychology. It is a comprehensive thought system that explains human behavior and the meaning of life. A Course in Miracles says we are dreaming our lives and everything is in our mind, with no external reality. Our mind is like a film projector, projecting what it thinks onto the screen of the world. The mind has two opposing sets of beliefs, the wrong mind of loss and separation, and the right mind of wholeness and oneness. We are always choosing between the wrong mind and the right mind, between fear and love.

When the mind believes in loss and separation, it projects a world of bodies whose needs conflict with each other. No two bodies have exactly the same drives and needs, so loss is inevitable. However, because we are mind, we are simply dreaming of separation. The right mind knows we are all one and there is no separation. It compels our inherent longing to return to our oneness. It’s that wistful feeling of wanting to go home we all have.

Our archetypal roles get played out alternately by the right and wrong minds. The ego, our small self personality, is part of the wrong mind. Our egos are always afraid because the ego script is “damned if you do; damned if you don’t.” Invariably, our inner archetypal drives conflict with opposing drives within ourselves and our loved ones. Hence, we experience loss and turmoil, which is the essence of drama. Savannah and John fall in love because they feel one with each other. When we fall in love, we see the perfection that is possible in truth, but not possible at the level of bodies. As they continue in their relationship, their separate ego needs compete for attention, and loss ensues, in spite of their love for each other. Happiness can never be permanent in the world of bodies, because bodies must separate and die.

A Course in Miracles provides a way out of this dilemma. It re-minds us that we are dreaming and cannot be separate. Whether or not bodies are together, minds are always joined. This is exemplified by John and Savannah’s enduring love, in their minds, regardless whether he is half a world away at war, or whether she marries another man. Loss pulls at our heart strings and creates a yearning to reunite with the beloved. If we stay in the wrong mind, we continue to feel loss and separation. If we choose the right mind, we feel our oneness no matter what.

Forgiveness is the tool to awaken the truth that we can never lose the ones we love. Forgiveness is a conscious choice to join rather than separate, regardless of how someone has hurt us. Dear John speaks to our hearts, as John and Savannah are reunited when they forgive.

True to Hollywood, there is a happy movie ending, but many of us never see our old flames again. Yet in our souls, in the lovers archetype, part of us knows separation is an illusory dream of the ego. Loss cannot be real when minds are together. When we choose our right mind of love we are whole.

Loss is always resolved, just not always Hollywood style.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Urinating Marines Deserve More Forgiveness, Fewer Sanctions

As Marines urinate on the dead enemy’s bodies, we hear the outcry, “This is uncivilized, un-American, an abomination!”

This is hypocrisy at its finest. It’s ok to kill, but desecrating bodies that no longer feel anything is an outrage.

War is never civilized. It is ugly. It is down to the bones mean. We send our kids over to kill the enemy, and when they join in a task well-done, they are crucified. These Marines were enacting a bonding ritual that strengthens their comradeship. For them to kill, as we command them to, they need to be tough, to see the enemy as worthless. They have to pull together. They crush the enemy together, and finish the job by pissing on him when it’s done. A Marine needs to know the guy covering his back is willing to go all the way.

War is animalistic. Animals mark their territory by urinating. When these Marines act in accord with their nature, and follow orders to kill, it is not they who are wrong. We are wrong to unjustly punish them.

In different circumstances, that one act of urination unseen, these Marines would be hailed as heroes. These young men are highly skilled snipers, not your average Joe. They endured grueling training: don’t flinch when being bitten by bugs; hold bodily functions; and lie perfectly still for hours. They accomplished their mission for our country. But because they got carried away, albeit in an unsettling manner, their careers may be ruined.

Every one of us is capable of heinous behavior, but we don’t like to admit it. Instead, we project our guilt onto others. We make an enemy to carry our shame so we don’t have to look at it. These young men are being scapegoated so the rest of us can maintain the illusion of our innocence. The public outcry is the result of our inability to look at our own shadow sides.

We prefer to ruin the reputations of these Marines rather than look at our hypocrisy. But, we cry, we would not be as barbarous as they. A Course in Miracles calls this the false face of innocence. We are filled with attack thoughts, but the face we present to the world is one of purity. War is a necessary evil, we must kill the enemy, but we would never pee on his dead body.

The Geneva Convention guidelines prohibit certain wartime behaviors, and this does indeed bring an ounce of civility into an impossible, uncivilized situation. The protocols are designed to bring humanitarian treatment to war victims. However, the bodies the Marines urinated on were already dead. What the Marines did was unseemly, but their actions must be held in the light that extreme conditions beget extreme behaviors. Before we haul them down, let us remember the merciful adage from A Course in Miracles, how we judge another is how we judge ourselves deep down. These fine young men, while requiring consequences and correction, deserve our understanding and forgiveness.

(The face of innocence is one of the ego dynamics I write about in Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. Go to to preview the book.)

Blessings, Lorri

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Soul's Code: Book Review

The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and CallingThe Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling by James Hillman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was going to contact Dr. James Hillman and thank him for his wonderful book, and found that he died this past summer. I wish I would have read this book 20 years ago. It echoes many sentiments I have felt about my psychotherapy clients, the ones who were labeled "crazy" when they were simply following their soul's calling. Hillman draws on Jungian archetypal therapy to explain what he calls the acorn theory. We all have an acorn that demands to become an oak, regardless of convention. When that acorn does not fit societal norms or parental expectations, we are given a psychiatric label, called obstinate or resistant, or medicated to bring us back into line.

Hillman shares many fascinating stories about famous people who refused to be put in a box. Violinist Yehudi Menuhin wanted a violin for his fourth birthday, and was given a toy violin. Menuhin states, "I burst into sobs, threw it on the ground and would have nothing more to do with it." Hillman explains, "The daimon (acorn, soul's calling) does not want to be treated as a child; it is not a child." Indeed, it is our inner wisdom, the drive to wholeness, which is routinely dismissed in our society.

I remember a case I had in which the identified patient began literally screaming, and the family wanted her hospitalized. She was simply screaming to be heard, and the family did not want to hear what she had to say. In fact, she was calling out the family dysfunction, so it was easier for the family to label her crazy than to listen to what she was saying.

In my own case, several therapists called me dysfunctional, when I was simply following my soul's calling. I knew deep down that I did not fit the categories they were putting me in, but also knew they did not have a clue about the depth of the drive I felt. I tried to supress this drive for 20 years and it would not let me go. Reading this book made me realize I'm not obsessed, fixated, codependent, or any other of the psychiatric labels traditional psychiatry would pin on me. Now that I have stopped judging myself, I feel whole. I honor my soul's quest rather than running from it.

We all have something we dream of doing, but few of us follow our dreams. Hillman's book reminds us that we will never be happy until we pay attention to our inner urgings. One of my favorite quotes is "Don't die with your dreams inside you." I believe it's from Wayne Dyer.

View all my reviews

Review of book: Paulo Coelho: A Warrior's Life

 Paulo Coelho: A Warrior's Life - The Authorized BiographyPaulo Coelho: A Warrior's Life - The Authorized Biography by Fernando Morais

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paulo Coelho has sold 100 million books in the metaphysical spiritual genre, written in the style of light novels or fables. His most famous one is The Alchemist, which I loved. Since I've read most of his books, I wanted to see how much of his personal life was contained in them. I found out that many of the magical/sorcery experiences he's had actually are things he's experienced in real life. In addition, his experiences with being forcibly hospitalized as a young adult, for what his parents called mental illness and I would call just not fitting in, figure into his books.

Coelho is a passionate, deep, unconventional man with a profound sense of the mystery of life. Those who feel practices like tarot, rituals, and searching for hidden meanings are silly, however, might not like his books.

I was surprised to find that his books are extremely popular in Russia.

The biography, which was authorized, was fascinating, but the writer gave to many details, so it moved too slowly.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012: The End of the World?

Apocalyptic wars. tsunamis, and plagues? The end of the world on December 21, 2012? An era of prolonged peace following the War of Armageddon?

Prophecies and predictions abound regarding the year 2012. What does the spiritual teaching of A Course in Miracles have to say about it?

Nothing. 2012 is not mentioned. A Course in Miracles concerns itself only with the mind that is outside of time and space, and 2012 is a year in linear time.

What is this mind outside of time and space? It’s our mind. It’s what we are. A Course in Miracles tells us that we are mind that’s dreaming up a world of form. We’re asleep, dreaming a nightmare of an earth filled with terror, much like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The lions and tigers and bears along the yellow brick road are the dire predictions of doom, death and destruction. We’ve been dreaming up the end of the world for millennia, long before 2012 arrived.

The world we are dreaming appears as a place of scarcity through violent wars and more subtle wars of unfair trade. Countries grab land and resources from other locales, because we believe there’s not enough to go around. We believe in separation instead of the oneness of humanity, and are afraid that if we don’t steal what we want, we’ll never get it.

The good news is that the mind that dreams of terror can also dream of peace. There is a part of our mind, called the right mind, which is pure Love. This part is connected to all living beings and knows our togetherness. It’s the part of us that aspires to world peace, kindness and goodness.

When we access our right mind, the world of terror can indeed cease to exist. A Course in Miracles tells us once we see we’re dreaming up the world, we can choose what type of world we want to dream. But first we have to recognize we’re the dreamers. We have to admit we’re just like Dorothy.

When Dorothy awoke from her coma, she insisted that Oz was a real place. It felt real because the wicked witch and the wizard evoked intense emotions. Feelings make us believe the world outside of our mind is real.

So will the world end in 2012? Yes, the world of hatred, lack and ugliness will end if we choose love over fear. And that can happen in any holy instant, not just in 2012. How do we choose love? We make a mental decision to forgive the dream: “I choose to see love instead of fear. I choose a new perception of the world. I choose to awaken from the dream I made up.” Your right mind then takes over and you dream what A Course in Miracles calls “the happy dream.”

I write more about A Course in Miracles in my book, Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. It’s available on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and my website,

Happy New Year and sweet dreams in 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Watching a Loved One Die

I knew the day would come. But now that it’s here I’m still devastated.

My dad sat at the slot machine, bewildered, pointing to the row of four fruits, asking what they meant. He tried to touch the machine next to him, thinking it would make his machine work. He didn’t know which buttons to push, so he just pushed all of them. “I don’t know what to do,” he said, plaintively, his eyes beseeching me for answers.

I’ve been taking my dad to the casino for the past eight years, every week since he lost his driver’s license. Tears stream as I write this, knowing I won’t be taking him back.
He won $335, the most he’s ever won since I’ve been taking him. I guess that’s a fitting way to go out. But he didn’t even realize he’d won big—he was just confused.

My dad’s dementia has been a huge forgiveness issue for me. It’s made the lessons of A Course in Miracles all the more pertinent, as I witness his body slowly waste away. It’s a general lesson in the non-importance of the body. Our society tries to keep these bodies alive at all costs, completely missing the point that the body is not the home of Spirit. I’ve been taught the body is a sacred miracle. To that I respond, “Have you been to a nursing home lately?”

A Course in Miracles tells us that we are mind, not bodies. It “re-minds” us to “remember always that you cannot be anywhere except in the Mind of God. When you forget this, you will despair and you will attack. (T-9.VIII.5) This has been of great comfort to me as I watch my dad, my hero, reduced to pooping his pants several times a day, no longer able to complete a coherent sentence, and unable to formulate a four-letter Scrabble word. He used to regularly use all seven tiles.

I let the tears flow, but still remind myself I’m seeing an illusion. When I think we are these bodies, I am attacking my true Identity. It’s all in the mind and I am projecting a world of loss and separation in which it appears that my beloved father can struggle and die. I am grateful that the Course tells me that a loving God did not create this scenario. Instead, I’m dreaming it and can change my mind with the Holy Spirit’s help.

One of my favorite lessons from the Workbook is # 284: I Can Elect to Change All Thoughts that Hurt. It reads, “Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth.”

As I repeat this over and over, Truth dawns in my awareness. I can never lose my dad. Minds are joined, bodies are not. The form of my dad’s body (and mine) has never been real, but the reflection of love is what’s real behind the form. Indeed, love is the only thing that’s real. He and I will always be connected, for he and I are one.

I write more about how we can wake up from the nightmare of loss in Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. You can read previews or order it from my website or from Amazon.

May your losses be transformed into love. Blessings, Lorri Coburn

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Toss Your Resolutions

You know you’re going to break them. You do it every year. So why not try your resolutions the Course in Miracles way? What’s that? The easy way. You forgive yourself for your flaws, and then your Higher Self breaks through and effortlessly takes care of the problem. When we are in the flow of divine love, change is easy, delightful and carefree.

Usually New Year’s resolutions involve putting your nose to the grindstone and giving something up. Most resolutions come from a withering sense of failure. Our determination to change only lasts awhile, until we are beset with recurring self-criticism. Permanent change doesn’t come from pumping ourselves up with affirmations and visualizations focused on obtaining things. Those can help move us along, but the only lasting change comes from loving ourselves. But how do we love ourselves when at our core there is massive self-hatred? Our self-hatred goes way deeper than we even realize. The self-loathing we are conscious of is only the tip of the iceberg. Affirmations are done consciously but they often don’t attend to the unconscious maliciousness that’s running the show. Affirmations to be healthier and wealthier may make us feel better for awhile, but then the subconscious snake springs forth to bite us. Many of us have worked for years on our financial prosperity, our health, and our relationships with minimal progress. That’s because we use positive energy to combat negative energy. In this world of duality, where there are always opposite sides to every condition, both sides have to eventually show up. We stay positive, positive, positive only to get frustrated and give up.

A Course in Miracles gets us around this trap, this never-ending cycle of positive and negative swings. The primary tool is to forgive ourselves for thinking we are small, separate selves, born to die, struggling every day to make our way in a difficult world. We are dreaming we’ve lost our connection to God, but we can wake up. We are the holy children of God and we don’t have to sacrifice and struggle. When we forget who we are, the One Self, we think we’re flawed, lacking, and alone. This makes us scared and we do all sorts of things to ward off our fears. We are afraid of not having enough money, so we make a resolution to put more money into our IRA. We are afraid of getting sick, so we resolve to cut out sugar. We are afraid our relationship will fail, so we resolve to stop saying mean things.

Then we break our resolutions and feel worse than before. The only thing we ever need to do is forgive ourselves for forgetting who we are. Then everything else falls in place. A Course in Miracles reminds us in Lesson 96, “Although you are one Self, you experience yourself as two; as both good and evil, loving and hating, mind and body. This sense of being split into opposites induces feelings of acute and constant conflict, and leads to frantic attempts to reconcile the contradictory aspects of this self-perception.” Hence, we affirm, visualize and make affirmations to change our circumstances in a desperate attempt to improve ourselves. But those things won’t bring lasting healing because attempts to change the body or the world are a denial of Truth. “Until you have accepted this (that you are Spirit only, not both Spirit and a body) you will attempt an endless list of goals you cannot reach. If you are spirit, then the body must be meaningless to your reality.”

How do we forgive ourselves? Forgiveness is an attitude, so we can do it through anything that reminds us of our True Nature. We can say, “I forgive myself for identifying with my small self. Holy Spirit, help me to see my True Self. I choose love instead of fear.” Forgiveness does not attempt to change the outer world, but to change the mind that is dreaming it is a body in a fearful world. Then problems that appear to be outside of ourselves automatically clear up. When we ask the Holy Spirit to change our perceptions, the world will appear to change, because we have chosen love instead of fear.

This year be kind to yourself. Forgive those New Year’s resolutions before you make or break them. Your only task is to recognize your divinity, fully own it, and let the Holy Spirit take care of the details. This is the easy way. Plus it’s the only way that ultimately works.

There’s more information about finding your True Self in my book Breaking Free: How Forgiveness and A Course in Miracles Can Set You Free. It is available through Barnes and Noble, Amazon and at

By Lorri Coburn, MSW