Driving in the Healthy Lanes of the Highway
Author of the book "The Joy of Lucid Love"
Where is the line between healthy and unhealthy relationships? How do we break patterns of unhealthy behaviors in our relationships? Rio Timberlane, the author of the book The Joy of Lucid Love, talks about the journey to finding yourself and navigating life in the healthy lanes of the highway. Rio is a Relationship Scientist, Author, and Speaker. He and his work can be accessed at https://www.riowrks.org/rio-timberlane.
[Jaunty Guitar Music]
Mike: Welcome everyone. This is Avoiding The Addiction Affliction, a series brought to you by Westwords Consulting. I'm your host, Mike McGowen. You know, it's safe to say that we're all products of our life experience. Our relationships are often reflections of that experience. Well, our guest today is Rio Timberlane.
In addition to have his own story to tell, which we'll get to, Rio has worked for the past two decades with thousands of people helping them reprogram their mindset, rebuild their belief systems, and try to create healthy relationships. He's also the author of the book, The Joy of Lucid Love. Welcome Rio!
Rio: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Mike: Well, yeah, we were just talking before we started, you're in Panama!
Rio: Yes, and it's a place I've never anticipated finding myself. I've never dreamt, like you dream about maybe going to Greece and seeing the ancient ruins or Egypt and the pyramids, but Panama, how I ended up here was I was searching for my next location, and getting in touch with the power of the universe and that collective intelligence. Some people, you know, call it God or the source or whatever, however it's described. I settled myself and said, okay, where do I feel the pull? And I considered a lot of different places and I didn't feel anything.
And then I thought, well, wherever I go, I need to have a really good internet connection. And so I looked at a map of where the internet connections are. There are six fiber optic cables across the oceans that come into Panama, and I thought, wow. Panama, I never considered that! And then there was that feeling that's where I should go. So, here I am.
Mike: That's great that you make your determination where you should go, where the cables are laid under the ocean. That is great. Well, really, before we talk about your work, I love the stories, right? And you have a personal story that led you to work on relationships.
Rio: Yeah. So because, I know your program's usually only about 30 minutes, so I'm gonna breeze through it because we've got a lot of really good stuff to give your audience as a product of my own personal experience. So in the context of it, I was a software engineer at the time that this happened, about 22 years ago, right at the, you know, the millennium shift, and right like in that confluence of events my marriage fell apart.
Family context relatively blew up, and I didn't have any explanation for why. She and I were both very earnest in our marriage and as parents, and we could not resolve the things that weren't working. We had no bearing on what was or wasn't working. And we'd had, you know, counseling, the whole spectrum, everything from religion to those, you know, those therapy kind of people.
Mike: Yes, we know them, yeah.
Rio: And just, I had no answers. And so as a analytical person, my mind tends to be very analytical and having a lot of experience troubleshooting extremely large and complicated software systems, I began turning that lens inward and looking for, like the basic supposition that I started with was there has to be a line between healthy and unhealthy in a relationship.
There has to be some line that says this is healthy, and this isn't, and I couldn't find it anywhere. You know, in literature or whatever, technical books, psychology or sociology, anything, I couldn't find a clear definition. A lot of people said, oh, well that's a bad dynamic. Okay, so if that's bad, there must be a good somewhere, something that's healthy. And that was not tangible. So I went looking for that. Twenty years later, someplace in that journey, I became, in varying degrees, very, very clear of that line. And that's where the work started, because if I could see the line, then I needed to keep myself on the healthy side.
But I kept finding myself over on the unhealthy side. And then the question was, how do I, how do I prevent that? How do I stay on the healthy side? And I couldn't see it at first, but I had a couple of paradigm shifts, which pointed me toward my subconscious belief structures. And then one day, you know, the big epiphany where I realized that why I keep moving over on the unhealthy side of that line is because my belief structures are false.
There's false beliefs in the way I think a relationship should work and who I am and how the world works. Those false beliefs would drive me to be in the unhealthy side, and all of the behaviors that are outwardly apparent were just the product of these subconscious beliefs.
Mike: Give me an example of one, if you can think of it off the top of your head.
Rio: Well , now this may cut close to home for a therapist. But the idea of somebody else coming to you asking for advice, how do I handle my life, what do I do in my life? That is them giving their agency, giving the power and authority over their own life away to another person. And you know, as practitioners, we want to help them and we can see, we're clear about, experience or technically trained whatever, we're clear about what's not working and you need to be over here, and we tend to give advice and say you need to do this.
And that is a violation of their authority over their own life, and when we do that, two things happen. First is that they have abdicated their own agency, and that establishes a dynamic in our relationship with them of subjugation to us as the authority. And the second thing is, we give them an excuse if they attempt to do that and it doesn't work, well, I just did what you told me to do. And in that process of - I mean, we don't want to be there, we want them to be on their own, want them to be healthy and operating in their own autonomy. But that's an easy, slippery slope to fall into, whether we're a counselor, a coach, a therapist, a teacher, just a friend. It is really an easy line to cross.
Mike: You know, in your work, you talk about lanes on the highway between healthy and unhealthy.
Mike: And when I saw that, I'm like, yeah, to me it's always been kind of a blurry line. And you know, I think most of us know, and then outside you can see when somebody's well into the healthy lane, and well into the unhealthy lane.
Mike: But you know, sometimes we can't see, we can't see where we are as clearly as somebody else can.
Rio: And this is the function of the subconscious, versus the conscious. So, when we think about mental health, right, the mind is a pretty big complex kind of thing. It has to handle everything from survival in the context of like a real actual, physical threat. Like the concept of jungle lion in the bush gonna jump out at you, all the way to how to manage yourself in a social setting with the in-laws coming for the holidays, or something.
Mike: Same thing, by the way, that's the same thing.
Rio: And some of us, to the idea of mother-in-law coming, is just as provocative to our amygdala, the biological, fundamental response to a physical threat, and it shuts down the cognitive process. The frontal cortex goes to sleep, and you're in this fight or flight or freeze, which we don't really think about, responds.
And for a lot of people, the freeze is more common, that we become unable to express our feelings, our thoughts, our perspectives. We just kind of shut down inside, and a lot of people in business will experience this, when the boss walks in the room, they had all these ideas and everything, and the boss walks in and says, okay, how are we gonna solve this problem? Three seconds before, you had this great vision of how we could get there, and then suddenly, nothing. And that is the difference between how our cognitive mind works and everything below it, which is the subconscious processing and the biological responses.
So when we think about mental health in any context, there's multiple layers there that are very often not even considered, most of the time completely misunderstood, and typically we end up violating some fundamental human functionality when we try to fix ourselves or fix somebody else.
Mike: Well, that, by the way, that is I think a great example. Cause actually I've had people say that they do get into that freeze when they drive into the parking lot at work and see a certain car. If that car isn't there, they have a better day at work. So how do we get in touch with that part of ourselves to make ourselves more functional? That's your work, right?
Rio: All right, yeah. So the finishing out my story, twenty-two years after my trauma, tragic, you know, upheaval in my life. Where we're at now is that we've created a new science, a first person science, of introspection. And this is to give the individual power within that space of their own agency to look within themselves and discover; ultimately to discover the subconscious belief structures that end up driving them in whatever patterns they find troubling in their life. And it doesn't replace psychology. Psychology's got it's, area domain, but for the individual who wants to be able to look within themselves, the science is called oziology. It starts with an 'o' that represents the sphere that we live in as we have encoded it subconsciously. And the 'z' represents the zigzag path of decision making that we often find ourselves in, where we say, oh, I'm gonna go this direction, and then realize that we're actually headed in this other direction with no explanation of why. And the third piece is the 'I', which represents our identity.
And then 'ology'. So it's 'ozi-ology'. And in a practical sense, it's simply looking within ourselves to discover our identity within this world that we believe exists and how we navigate it, the identity on a path through this world. And as we're looking at that, it frees us from all of the outside eyeballs, right? Our family, our friends, or our boss, whoever judging us, looking at us, and we can become completely objective. Does that make sense?
Mike: Yeah, but it's hard to do, right? Because, you know, those people, our coworkers, our family, you were in the military -
Rio: I was.
Mike: That structure in the military, we get a lot of outside messages of not just who we are, but who we ought to be.
Rio: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Mike: So that zigzag, that's a pretty big zigzag, right? I mean, sometimes things are conflicting with one another.
Rio: Not sometimes, like most of the time. And we refer to this as the default programming. So think of when you were born as a brand new baby, I mean, you know, maybe you can remember that, I can't, you know, the moment I was born, some people actually have some sense of a memory of that, but our brain is like this computer with no operating system. And it's designed to build neural links to represent all of our experience and the neural plasticity, the flexibility of our neural constructs in our brain reflect the subconscious belief structures.
And so we have this, it's like a computer with no operating system and when we're born, there's a very rudimentary program that says 'collect data', analyze it, decipher it, find patterns, and abstract life lessons. And that rudimentary program goes constantly for our whole life. And what it's doing is building our operating system for functioning in this mortal existence. So one of the first things that we experience, now as a psychologist, I'm sure you've been taught about object permanence and the process of that discovery, that actually mom doesn't disappear when she leaves the room and I can't see her, she is going to come back and that's a very distinct developmental marker for an infant. And we can go through all of those steps and we can look at like when a child takes their first step and becomes mobile, able to move around. There's an incredible amount of autonomy that comes with that, and all the way through all of the steps of maturation.
What's going on in that process, is our subconscious belief structures are mapping out the world that we live in, mapping out our identity in it, and how to navigate it.
Mike: Well, alright, so we take all of that stuff, and a lot of that stuff when we're younger, we're not in control of necessarily, right? And now we become adults. So how do we find a healthy relationship?
Rio: So this is the product of the book that I wrote, which is The Joy of Lucid Love. It's not a, like the title, some people will think oh, this is gonna be a great novel. Right? But it's really a reference book. So the objective was to be able to answer the question of where the line is between healthy and unhealthy in every aspect of a personal and family relationship.
So that's an enormous bar to cross. Looking at it from the outside, looking at it from our personal experience, but when we have the clarity, having cleaned up the default programming, all the falsehoods that I've had through the years, cleaning those up in my own subconscious process, stumbling into a wall, this isn't working, and having learned how to explore my subconscious and cleaning that up, then now I have a clear representation of what's healthy and what isn't. And it's mechanism, it's a machine. It's simple. It's like teeter-totter on the playground, and the way the swing works on the playground. And so as an adult, think of yourself, you're married, I assume?
Rio: Okay. All right, good place for us to start.
All right, when you were married, you wanna be in this relationship with your wife in a very healthy way of like having reciprocity that's really clean and clear and you're going in the same direction. So think of yourself sitting on swings on a swing set on a playground. You're side by side and you're synchronized, you're swinging together, and this feels really good.
You can even reach out and hold hands and you can flirt with each other, maybe even kiss while you're swinging because you're in sync with each other. But then, something happens, one of you gets distracted and you lose that synchronization, and now you're out of sync. You're going in opposite directions.
And if you don't know where the line between her lane and your lane is and you slip over into that space, then boom, you crash into each other. Not so fun, and then there's the fallout. Whatever was going on is interrupted, you try and figure out how to fix it.
Eventually, if you can resolve it, you get back in sync again. So this is a mechanism, and it's both humans participating in that human mechanism cleanly and clearly, seeing what's happening, seeing how to avoid bumping into each other, understanding that there's times when we're out of sync and we just need to let the other person have their space to resolve whatever's going on in their life and then we can resync.
Mike: I love that analogy and I'm trying to think of where in our lives we would get the messages of how to do that. And I can't think of it because we don't. In fact, what I find is more common is when we get outta, sync or let's say something bad happens to me at work, that's what gets a lot of relationships out of sync.
Mike: Because I come home and then take it out on the other person.
Rio: And you don't really mean to do that, but you're in this emotional state and they don't have any clue what's going on. You haven't resolved it, it's not like you can just switch the emotion off when you get to the door and walk in and be Dad that woke up in the morning, you've had this whole day of history that they have no idea of.
Mike: And so, instead of saying, Hey, you're swinging inappropriately, I've gotta say, wait, what's going on with me?
Mike: Where do we learn that, Rio, because, it's so much easier, you see people blaming the other person all the time, rather than look inward.
Rio: And, the blaming the other is a defense mechanism for not being able to see what's going on in us. If we can't see it, we can't change it, therefore we're powerless in this space and we have to protect ourselves from outward judgment, or criticism, or just even somebody asking what's going on.
And so, in the book, my objective was, and we've really, really simplified things to this swing set, addressing all of these circumstance that you just mentioned, right? And to be specific about it, one of the fundamental things that happens when somebody comes into our spousal space emotionally, so like the acquaintance, the stranger, and then all these degrees of knowing somebody until that person who enters our spousal space, which is right next to our own identity. So this is the one person that we're most vulnerable with, and there's an automatic, subconscious, instinctive response to share our story with that other person.
Men process that story differently, they present it differently than women do typically. But we have comedies all the time about this, like the typical family sitcom. The husband comes home and he's stoic and he's got a single line, my boss chewed my ass today. And the wife, she's got a litany of all of the things that went on in her day with the kids, or scheduling, or what's gonna happen next week because of what happened today, this big story.
And in that communication, is the sharing of our history to keep the other person aware of where we're at on the swing and why we've changed, why we're not in the synchronization that we were when we left this morning. But most of the time we're self-absorbed and we're not really listening to the other person.
Rio: And so that history doesn't get communicated and we don't resync.
Mike: Well, if I'm unaware of all that, then I'm also not asking for what I need to get back in sync, because I'm not aware of it, I'm just looking at the other person. And isn't when you look at the other person, that's where you started this, right? That's giving up your power to the other person.
Rio: Well that happens in marriages all the time.
Rio: And this brings us to the dysfunction of the dating process, because dating is like a job interview. We look at the other person, we idealize what they are, who they are, what they want, and we present our resume and we try to fit into the job description that they give us for being with them. And so we're pushed into this pretense, this fraud of who we are, if we know who we are to begin with to any degree, right? Most of us are delusional about our identity, and in the process of dating, we're trying to keep the other person engaged with us, and if they knew the truth about us, if they knew our bad habits, if they knew our fears, our resentments, or whatever, they won't be around.
So we have to hide those things. Then, you cross this line of the contract, the marriage contract, whether it's about being committed without the legal contract or not. When cross that boundary, we relax and we start to show ourselves. And marriage and family counselors that I talked to when I shared this concept with them, I ask them, how many of your clients talk about at some point, waking up, looking at their partner across the bed saying, who the heck are you? Because you're not the person I dated, you're not the person I married. And typically that happens anywhere from a few days after the honeymoon or into the honeymoon, to within a year or two years. There's that realization, and then comes the cold chill; I'm married to this person and they aren't who I thought they were, and we've gotta make it work for any number of reasons. And so then we start trying to force it, make it work. And along the way nobody really knows who the other person is.
Mike: Well, and we're not working up thinking, I bet they're looking at me the same way. In other words, I'm not the same person three days into a honeymoon that they were dating.
Mike: So clearly what your book addresses is, all right, so how do you get there? How do you get to communicating with one another and get your swings back in...?
Rio: All right, so I'm gonna give you something really, really simple that's just gonna blow you away.
Mike: I'm good with that.
Rio: And you have to hold your left hand up, hold your left hand up, and we'll start with your little finger. Point to that little finger with the other hand.
Mike: Got it.
Rio: All right, this represents all of your other relations with other entities, which could be your spouse, or your kids, or the corporation you work for or anything that has agency of its own, like a dog, right? This is a type of relationship with another entity that has agency.
Then we go to the ring finger. Now this is the kind of relationship that we have with things like our car that we're in love with, or a sentimental momentum of some family thing, right? The chest or whatever that was passed down for generations. That's a thing that we have a relationship with.
Then the next one, which is our index finger, that represents the type of relationship we have with ideas, concepts. How about the relationship you have with success, or the relationship that you have with the concept of love itself. How pervasive is that relationship?
And then we get to your first finger, which is what we, in the science oziology, we call the perspen relationship. And this is a relationship that's typically full of all kinds of conflicts. It's our relationship with paramount dependency. Now, think about as a human on earth, if the sun doesn't come up tomorrow morning, we're all dead.
And short of that, the weather is a paramount dependency. You're in Wisconsin, right?
Rio: Yeah. So during the wintertime you get that lake effect, right?
Mike: Oh, very good, I was going to say what sun? Right?
Rio: Yeah. And, you know, it's a paramount dependency because it shifts your life when that weather shifts, it can change your life completely. So there's three parts to this, and sometimes they're very muddled. They relationship that we have with truth is one third of our paramount dependencies, the perspen relationship, our relationship with truth. Sometimes we just don't want to accept the truth that's staring us in the face.
Mike: Yes. Mm-hmm.
Rio: That often happens with something like death, the grief and we just don't want to accept that this has happened. Our relationship with life; it's unpredictable, randomness. And then the third part is our relationship with what is generally classified as deity. The universal consciousness and intent that is a part and exhibited in all life.
Whether you're an ant or you're a human being, there's this consciousness, this energy that leaves our body when we die and that energy is connected to universal intent for life to be. So perspen relationship, lots of room there for all kinds of conflict. Then we finally get to the thumb, and this represents our relationship with ourself.
So five types of relationships and then we can come to the hierarchy of those five. We cannot, if we touch the little finger, we cannot have a healthier relationship with others then we have in our person relationship,
Mike: That's great.
Rio: And our self relationship, and we cannot have a healthier relationship with our perspen relationship than we do with ourself.
So that's where we start. In oziology and in the book, the first thing that we start talking about is the difference between selfishness and selfless. We get caught in this trap that it's a spectrum. On one end, selfless, it's at the expense of ourself. We try to be what somebody wants so that we can satisfy those expectations, and that's at our expense. On the other end, selfish, it's at the expense of the others. And in the middle is this space that nobody ever talks about, which is being self-full.
Not full of ourselves, like egoistic and center of attention, but being filled from within. So that we're not dependent, and this is taking our agency back from all of the outward expectations and requirements, whatever those are becoming fulfilled within ourselves. And then the next one is about becoming our true self.
And we go on from there, building out the whole context of familial relationships.
Mike: That's great. You know, that brings us full circle, doesn't it? That's just terrific. And that thumb, right? I mean, if you don't know yourself, it's gonna be really difficult for the rest of the hand.
Rio: Yeah. And here's the most beautiful part of it, and I love doing this with children, is that now if you take into consideration that hierarchy of relationships, you have to start with the thumb part and get it working with the index finger part, right?
Rio: Now, if you touch those two together and you put your hand in a comfortable position, you've just made the 'okay' sign. And that's really what happens.
Mike: That's great.
Rio: When you get that relationship between yourself and your perspen working well. So there's no conflict, and that's about cleaning up the subconscious belief structures. When there's no conflict there, all the rest of it just falls into place, it becomes, okay.
Mike: That's great. And that's also a really nice place to leave our half an hour conversation, although we just set it up for, and part two is _____.
Rio: Yeah. I'm sure we'll end up at part three and four because this is a beautiful conversation. And the subtitle to the book, The Joy of Lucid Love is "Reset Your Subconscious, Free Your Life."
Mike: Yeah. And by the way, you all know this, who listen regularly, the link to Rio's work, his biography and his book, is attached to this podcast. Hey, listen, thanks a lot for - you don't know this because you're all listening - but it's really early in the morning.
So I appreciate you getting up in Panama this early in the morning and joining us, and I hope you have a wonderful day today Rio.
Rio: Thank you. Thank you, Mike, very much.
Mike: And for the rest of you, please listen in next week when we'll have more discussions about making a difference and making a difference for ourselves. Until then stay safe and have a conversation with yourself.
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