Mel Schwartz, LCSW

#128 Awakening Your Relationships

In episode 128 of The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz, let’s talk about the way the mindless programming of the everyday script robs us of our vitality, curiosity, and awe, desecrating our ability to be present and authentic in our relationships with others and ourselves.

What can we do to break free from reactionary, transactional, reductionist routine and reawaken our sense of wonder?

The answer is in this episode!

Listen, and then I’d love to hear what you think! Be sure to leave a comment with your own thoughts and questions!

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Transcript of The Possibility Podcast with Mel Schwartz #128

Hello everybody and welcome to the Possibility Podcast. I’m your host Mel Schwartz. I practice psychotherapy, marriage counseling, and I am the author of the book The Possibility Principle, the companion to this podcast. I hope to be your thought provocateur and I’ll be introducing you to new ways of thinking and a new game plan for life.

Possibilities require that we not program ourselves, that we don’t program our thoughts, our feelings, our beliefs, that we free ourselves from programming. Otherwise, how do we ever achieve what’s possible? My thinking today is around how this impacts us in our relationships and our primary relationships with one another, romantic relationships and other close intimate relationships. So I’d like to discuss how we find ourselves programmed and how we can deprogram ourselves so our relationships can thrive and we can thrive.

I believe that we desecrate our humanity and our individuality and we desecrate our relationships as well, which should be a sacred place where our love surfaces and our sense of humanity prospers. This degrading and denigrating of ourselves is part and parcel of what I’m calling programming, where we’re not alive sufficiently. We’re not aware, we’re acting from a programming. I’m not speaking here of an intention to desecrate myself or the other in a relationship. The desecration is just an inevitable outcome.

So a very subtle form of this desecrating, this mind numbing is about the programming, which has us react in the same way, speak in the same way, think in the same way, use the same tones, the same reactions, the same mindlessness to just resurface this moment in and moment out in our relationships. The essence of this invalidating of this desecration is really due to not being present. If we’re programmed, we’re not present. We’re operating from the program.

In our relationships, what does that look like? It can look like asking the same questions or not asking new questions, making the same comments. It’s about a lack of vitality. It’s about an absence of curiosity, an absence of awe, and an absence of wonder. Curiosity, wonder, and awe are required for happiness in life. Otherwise, we’re just transactional.

Without this sense of awe and wonder, we are robotic, going through our days, doing what we have to do, taking care of what we need to do, but there’s not a greater engagement with life. And certainly we’re missing a greater engagement with each other.

Think about your relationship or your primary relationships. Are they transactional? Are you really engaged and creative? You know, mystery creates awe. When something is not at first altogether clear, there’s a sense of awe. And I’ve been thinking about the word awful. Awful is clearly a pejorative, negative. What is the etymology of the word awful? I haven’t looked into it yet, but here’s my instinct. Awful at a certain point in time, a certain deep history of consciousness, awful was something full of awe, mystery, and wonder. Relationships and romantic relationships may begin with a sense of awe. Awe is not being able to reduce something, like in a mathematical formula. Awe is requiring not knowing.

So previously, awful meant something full of wonder and mystery. But as we reduced ourselves to the programming of reductionist thinking, something that was not knowable and full of mystery became denigrated. So something full of awe became a negative, awful. We do this in our relationships. How often do you ask your partner, your relatives, your closest friends, new questions? We don’t. We ask formatted questions and we get formatted answers and we’re operating from a formula.

As I shared many, many episodes ago, I was having dinner with two dear friends who I had not seen in some time. And I thought going into that dinner, I wanted to provoke some real deep program conversation so we could all come into a new experience of ourselves and with each other. So we sat down and I asked my two dear friends, one is in the 70s, the other is 80. I said, do you guys think about death? What are your fears? How do you handle that? We all do that. That’s natural, particularly as you age. But there’s a programming that we don’t talk to each other about that. That programming anesthetizes us. It dumbs us down.

Our relationships with each other and our primary relationships become victims of this programming. Ask yourself this, when is the last time I asked my partner, my closest friend, a new question and received a new answer? Am I operating from a program? In romantic relationships, why does passion die? While sex becomes programmed, we know how and when and what frequency we’re going to make love and what it will look like. How often is there experimentation, a break from the norm? So the lack of curiosity, the lack of wonder, the lack of awe and asking each other how you each felt about your sexual encounter, far too infrequent. In a relationship, we commit to each other.

Now I’m bouncing back to committed relationships, romantic or what should be romantic relationships. Hopefully they were romantic to begin with. What are we committing to? We’re committing to fidelity. I’ll love you forever. But we don’t commit to the process. The process is what keeps us alive. What is the process of a relationship? To return the mystery, the wonder, the awe and sharing your own individual questions of your own selves. I wonder about this. Have you ever wondered about that? What do you think about that? Coming out of the artificial, superficial programming of our lives. Our personal life is a narrative and it’s a deep, complex tapestry. We need to open that tapestry up to each other.

You see in a relationship, we typically tend early on at least to complete each other. You know, my other half, that expression which I’ve spoken about before. So in quantum physics, there’s something called complementarity, which is the opposite. The opposite is needed to complete. So without night, there is no day. Without love, there is no hatred. That’s complementarity. But in our personalities, if we just stay attuned to the complementarity, to the opposition of each other, we don’t grow and prosper. Engage your own tapestry and open up to it. That’s why we trigger each other because we haven’t engaged in our own complex tapestry. Ask yourself when you feel triggered by the other, think about the term my button. The emphasis should be on the word my. It’s not about the other person. Why did you push my button? What do I have to look at in myself? And what do I need to open up to and share with you? Do we simply complement each other? And complement here is C-O-M-P-L-E-M-E-N-T. It doesn’t mean give each other praise. Complement means complete each other. The goal is not to complete each other, but to work toward a completion of self. And that’s the wrong term because we never complete ourself. It’s a process.

So coming back to my primary theme here today, we operate from programming. We learn that programming from our parents as children. We learn that programming from our culture. We don’t ask new questions. We don’t allow ourselves new thoughts. We play the game of life and the game of relationship within the boundary of the rules of engagement. Break the damn rules. They dumb us down. They desecrate our lives and our relationships. To thrive in your relationship with yourself and with others, you must deprogram yourself. Why would we want to live our lives from a programming? Step out of line and worry about what someone else will think about you? Does that make sense?

And who are these other people that were concerned about what they will think? Remember that’s what I call other esteem. Authentic self-esteem requires breaking free of the grip of programming. And programming is the death knell of a relationship. As always, you need to embrace the uncertainty in a relationship by asking new questions, forging into new territory, not in a way that you’re accusing each other, but that you’re provoking each other to growth, toward sharing and toward a greater vulnerability. Love requires vulnerability and vulnerability cannot very well exist under a programming template. To be vulnerable means to be open with wonder and curiosity, perhaps confusion, awe. This requires coming out of the programming, breaking free and accessing your humanity, which will help you personally. And boy, what a change it can make in your relationships. Well, give those things some thought and ask yourself, where am I programmed? What does coming out of that programming look like and share it with others, share it with those closest to you in your life. Your relationship can become vital and real.

Until next time, embrace those possibilities, access your uncertainty, be healthy and get yourself deprogrammed. Bye for now.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Possibility Podcast. I welcome your feedback on this and any episode. Please send me an email at mel at or leave a comment in the show notes for this episode at If you like what you’re hearing, please take a moment to rate and review the show at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Your reviews really help boost the visibility for the show and it’s a great way for you to show your support. Finally, please make sure to subscribe to the Possibility Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts and that way you’ll never miss an episode. Thanks again and please remember to always welcome uncertainty into your life and embrace new possibilities.

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