Category: Divorce

Revving Up Intimacy in Your Relationship

 

One of the definitions of intimacy is a close familiarity or friendship, closeness. Intimacy is not simply about sex, although that can certainly help. But sex alone does not always lead to intimacy. There are several small but powerful things you can do to increase closeness between you and your partner.

Be communicative, talk to each other on a regular basis. Have conversations without agendas attached to them. Listen to your partner simply for listening sake. Practice opening up to each other without judgement or trying to solve a problem. When neither of you are trying to persuade or convince the other, it is easier to listen and communicate. These kinds of conversations do wonders for the relationship, it teaches you to enjoy talking simply for conversation’s sake. It builds on the friendship aspect of your relationship as well. Talk about whatever it is you feel like, a childhood memory, an idea you have for a movie, a book you just read and loved. Enjoy conversating with each other as if you were still getting to know each other.

Rather than planning grandiose get-a-ways, fold intimacy into the fabric of your day to day lives. For example, one day a week you dedicate spending time together at your favorite restaurant or cocktail bar. No friends, no family, and no kids, just the two of you. Or on Sunday afternoons you take a hike together, or ride bikes. The point is to do something enjoyable that gives you both time to let go and have fun together. Sure weekend get-a-ways and vacations are wonderful and build a temporary intimacy, but once they are over, it can leave you feeling empty emotionally. By doing little things more often you sustain the intimacy and build on it.

Laugh as often as you can, taking yourselves too seriously sabotages intimacy. Humor not only helps both of your moods, it also helps thwart off arguments. Laughter is healthy and a positive way to create intimacy because it makes both of you feel good! It diffuses differences and has a positive effect on your mind and body. Watch a comedy together, share funny incidentals that happened throughout your day. Research has shown that Couples who laugh together build stronger bonds and cope better with stresses and conflicts in their relationship.

Celebrate your history together, the good and bad memories that helped shape your relationship. Take time to appreciate all that you have been through and to remember those wonderful memories that warm your heart. Memories can be a hilarious source of humor, recalling those funny moments when you didn’t know each other well.

Get physical, not just in bed but in other nonsexual ways. When you’re sitting on the couch together watching a movie, snuggle in. Hold hands while you’re strolling the boulevard or walking the beach. Touch is a powerful tool for intimacy, make it part of your relationship. Take a couples yoga class, give each other massages.

And then of course there is sex! Pleasing your partner builds intimacy. Maybe try having a sex session in the middle of the day, be playful and let yourselves enjoy each other’s bodies. As I said earlier, sex alone is not the end all be all to intimacy, especially if the only time you feel close is in bed. Examine all the other wonderful ways you can explore and enjoy each other while you create that sweet closeness that is irreplaceable.


Living with Unresolved Conflicts

                       
There are times in life when a disagreement is so raw and dividing, there is no immediate resolution.  You may feel that all you want to do is run in the opposite direction, bury your head in the proverbial sand, or never see the person again. Your anger and pain are deep and uncomfortable. Whether the conflict stemmed from a colleague, a friend, or a close family member, learning how to deal with unresolved conflicts will help you regain your inner peace and perhaps a sense of resolution.

Here are a few suggestions that may help.
For many people, having a disagreement is uncomfortable, unpleasant, and for some traumatizing. Avoiding conflicts with others does not mean you are living without inner conflict thoughStifling your emotions or sidestepping the truth about your feelings is as unhealthy as perpetual hothead behavior. Truth is, everyone has the right to their opinions, feelings, and decisions. It is how you express yourself that matters. As you begin to deconstruct a conflict, look at your responsibility. Take a sincere and truthful gaze inward to see where you may have contributed to the discord. Conflict management involves both parties being honest with themselves and each other; exploring what has blocked them from finding common ground.

For example, you have a colleague at work that infuriates you. They nitpick about everything, and never acknowledge your contributions. And to top it off, you may not like the person because they remind you of someone that you had a bad experience with in your past.  Part of being honest with yourself is teasing out the real issue(s). You don’t have to like everyone, however, you can learn to understand where your actions are creating conflict and how better to deal with them. Talk with the person, point out that you appreciate their point of view, however you also need to be recognized for the work you do. Expand the thread of agreement, continue to look for common ground no matter how slight.

When you know that you have done what you can to resolve a conflict and it persists despite your good faith efforts, it’s time to let go. You have that choice. To let the anger, the resentment, the hurt go, because you know in your heart you have done your due diligence. Letting go takes time. Be patient with yourself. Use the tools of visualization, and meditation to see yourself moving on. Letting go and avoidance feel very different. Avoidance is inaction, denial of what has happened. Surrendering is an action, a conscious choice and one you have decided on after you have tried your best to resolve the conflict.

Empathy for yourself and others plays a huge role in conflict resolution. Both parties will want to actively engage in a solution. When people have empathy, they can put themselves in the others’ shoes. They can use understanding to put things in perspective. That is not always the case. The good news is you can end the struggle for yourself. If the other person wants to carry a grudge after you have made an earnest attempt, It’s not your issue any longer.

If it is a close family member or lover, that you’re in conflict with, it may take a bit longer to let go and move on. You can limit your time spent with that person and set boundaries of what you will and will not tolerate. You can’t control anyone’s behavior except your own. 

Releasing an unresolved conflict will help lighten your load, free up your emotions, and allow you to move forward. You have the choice.


Active Listening Is the Key to Communication

Do not listen with the intent to reply, but with the intent to understand. —Anonymous

 Listening is somewhat like an art form, and as in music or dance you only become proficient with practice. There are countless meanings assigned to the act of listening. You can listen with your heart, you can listen to your intuition, you can listen to mantras of religion or stories you’ve been told since childhood. The listening I am referring to is about how we listen to ourselves and others, which all of the above influence. Without sincere listening, communication breaks down, misunderstandings flare, and a sense of dread and loneliness can cause you to feel frustrated or anxious.

To lessen the problems non listening creates, here a few ways to develop and enhance your ability to listen. When you are truly listening to another person, find the takeaway. In other words, look to understand what that person is trying to say? Avoid reading into or interpreting, tease away your own biases. If what they are saying is ambiguous, murky or makes no sense to you, simply ask for clarification, or mirror to them what you feel their message is.

When you are actively listening, you will more than likely have questions, hold them until the person is finished. Often many of us are too eager to spew out our response, or wisdom, or opinion that we forget to fully hear what the other person is saying. If you find yourself preoccupied with focusing and crafting what you think, you are not listening. Or if you realize that your reply has nothing to do with what the other person is saying, you were not paying attention. Watch professional interviews, you can always spot an interviewer who is not listening by their response, it will be in left field regardless that the statement was right and center.

Naturally it is easier to listen to people you share common ground with, it is difficult and challenging to listen to those you don’t. Let’s put this in the realm of relationships. Your partner may have been raised with strict rules and there was little wiggle room for self exploration. You on the other hand had a family that encouraged independent thinking. You fall in love, but after the honeymoon phase, you find you are arguing over just about everything. More than likely, it is a lack of listening to each other…listening without hearing. Whew, that is a tough one. However, when you begin to practice real listening, you can not only muddle through tough conversations, you may actually begin to see resolutions. When you let down the defenses and say to yourself, this isn’t about me, it is about the other you can learn to listen with love, empathy, and a deeper understanding that leads to connection.

Spiritual leader Ram Dass has a plethora of quotes that remind us that listening requires going beyond our ego. “We are fascinated by the words, but where we meet is in the silence behind them.” It is in the quiet recess of your consciousness that the truth or impact of words reverberates. Words themselves are simply nouns, verbs, adverbs, tools with which to communicate. yet somehow, they can cut us deeply or be profoundly motivating. When you think about how people without hearing communicate it is interesting because they still use language just not necessarily words. If you have ever traveled to a country where English or your mother tongue is not spoken, you find that you can still communicate through gestures, although the risk for misconstruing someone’s intentions is much higher. The fact is, words are only part of communicating with another.

A huge part of learning to listen to others is listening to yourself. If you are constantly filling your mind and energy with some diversion, you cannot hear your inner thoughts or desires or spiritual guidance. Think about a time that a teacher, a friend, a mentor said something that resonated with you so deeply it changed your life forever. It was that time you spent meditating or pondering the words or intentions of the person that shared them with you that allowed you to see the truth and significance to them.

Learning active listening will change the way you communicate forever, and it will enhance your relationships and confidence


Stress & Strengthening Relationships

 

There is no time like the present to learn to manage change in a relationship. This year has been riddled with changes (social, economic, technological and personal) that have been challenging to say the least. All changes impact a relationship. Learning to go with the flow, and adjust when life happens, will help you be less fearful when change comes knocking on your door.

Relationships need a strong foundation from which to grow. If your relationship is already tumultuous, working through change can be tough. Building a base of trust in your relationship early on is the way to go. If this hasn’t happened, now is a perfect time to start. Talk issues and disagreements throughlisten to each otherbe kind, and remember love is powerful; it has the capacity to endure. And most important to building trust, is to mean what you say and say what you mean. Be honest, even if the truth is not what your partner wants to hear.

During stressful changes, a move, a new baby, a death in the family, a new job; lather on patience extra thick. Go for a walk, have quiet time, reassure one another, and give each other space. Respect each other’s processing of change, don’t demand your partner respond to change the way you do. Each of you extra thick. Go for a walk, have quiet time, reassure one another, and give each other space. Respect each other’s processing of change, don’t demand your partner respond to change the way you do. Each of you may want to talk about how or why you react the way you do, talk about the hurts, fears and insecurities that shape your reactions. This alone can help relieve a lot of the stress.

Stay physical with each other, and that doesn’t mean just having sex. Hold hands, snuggle, touch each other as a physical symbol that you are here, and you are ready to grow as a couple. Often change can produce resentment which can bleed into the bedroom. Allow yourself the pleasure of sharing one another’s bodies, let your guard down and re-connect. If you are both spiritual or religious, try praying and meditating together, do some yoga together. Share any inspirational gems that speak to you with your partner. Send kind texts, remind your partner that you love them. Life as a couple is sweeter when you know your partner has your back, that you are not alone and that your loved one is rooting for you in and outside of the relationship.

Do something familiar. It can be as simple as having coffee together in the morning. Find a thread of familiarity you both enjoy. Talk about funny memories, leap off the overly stressed, serious bandwagon and find time to get back to the essence of your relationship. Change will come; learning to deal with it together will make life richer while deepening your relationship and better prepared for the inevitable changes to come.

 

 

 

 


“Parenting”

 

 

As a parent, you want to do what’s in the best interest of your children. Parents may look for “right” & “wrong” answers about parenting, but is there really a right way to parent?

Bette Davis, regarded as one of the most influential actresses of Hollywood, once said, “If your child has never hated you, you’ve never been a parent.” If you have a toddler who you’ve had to say no to touching a hot stove, you know what she means. In other words, being a parent doesn’t mean winning a popularity contest; it means being present for the good of a child.

An essential part of parenting is helping your child build healthy self-esteem & confidence so that they can become anything they set their minds on. Let’s explore the theories that have endured the test of time to allow for positive, loving, & effective parenting.

ALL CHILDREN ARE UNIQUE / What worked for your first child may not work for baby #2 or #3. In some ways, being a parent is reliving your childhood & recalling what helped you & what hindered you.

YOUR WORDS = YOUR CHILD’S INNER VOICE / Speak with respect & positivity, never lash out in anger. That said, toddlers & teens can fray your patience. Vent, but not on your child. Instead, go to parent groups, have play dates, talk to other mothers & fathers to share & laugh about the challenges you face.

UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR CHILD RESPONDS / Children respond to different parenting styles in different ways. For example, you may have been a bit overly protective of your firstborn – from homemade baby food to only buying interactive toys. With child #2, you may be less particular. Both children turn out fantastic & you begin to realize certain incidentals aren’t as critical as you thought. However, responding to each child as an individual is. Treating children with respect & allowing them to evolve into their own person is essential. It helps them explore themselves without judgment. Notice how they respond to music, movement, nature, reading a book together, & playing with others; this will help inform you of your child’s likes & gifts.

BE AS CONSISTENT AS POSSIBLE / Consistency helps children understand boundaries & feel safe. They learn that hitting is not okay & the consequence is a time out. When they lie, they know they breach your trust, & there’s an aftereffect. Conversely, praise & affirmations light up your child’s potential. When they hear & see positive results, they’re reinforced. As you & your children grow together, consistency helps them understand their environment & make sense of things they don’t yet comprehend.

DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION / Like all of us, children must learn by making mistakes. Have reasonable expectations & cultivate compassion. You can’t expect a 9-month-old to understand why you don’t want them to put everything under the sun in their mouth. Rather than overreacting or labeling your child, escort them through any rough waters. Your job as a parent is guiding them through varying terrain. Some phases are as easy as walking on a beautiful beach, others as difficult as walking through a desert without water. Allow your children (within the confines of safety, of course) to experience life & try out their newly learned skills. It’s through practice & patience they learn to master things. That said, you can encourage older children to be their best & be there to discuss when they are having a rough time.

COMMUNICATE / Spend time talking to your children & laugh with them. There’s no substitute for communication & spending quality time with your kids. It allows you to develop a relationship, a bond, & trust, so when you have to say no, (something all parents do), your children (eventually) realize it comes from a place of love. Don’t feel bad about saying no, explaining your rationale, & giving explanations that your child will understand. Maybe you can’t afford to give them something they want, seize the opportunity to have a conversation about money. Communication is critical to parenting. Keep an open mind without deviating from your standards.

The bottom line is families are made up of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, & cultural influences. You are a wonderful blend. Try not to set limitations. Instead, allow them to grow in ways that may not interest you. You may be a businessperson, & your child is passionate about the arts or vice versa. Be kind to yourself. You’re going to blow it sometimes; it’s part of being human. Be okay with admitting when you are wrong; this is a powerful lesson for your children.

Above all, be loving, kind, & keep growing in your individual life as you parent. Children need you by their side to learn valuable tools about independence; This becomes vital as your children get older. Be okay with no right or wrong way to parent. Be present & open to change. Embrace the principles of being a positive & courageous parent who is doing their best to build a strong foundation for your child’s well-being.


Let’s Ditch the Excuses


If you’re finding more excuses and less movement, it may be time to reframe your thinking. Below you’ll find practical suggestions to overcome this pattern and ditch the excuses. Do you have goals or desires that have gone unfulfilled because you’re chronically stacking excuses in front of them?

Eventually, the excuses become so deep you can’t seem to find a way around them. You circle, burrowing in until you feel stuck with nowhere else to go. Finding your way back to the life you envisioned is no easy task, but if you want to release yourself from the weight of excuses, here are some simple steps you can take to get unstuck:

  • Write down every dream, accomplishment or vision you want to achieve. Don’t think about the obstacles, just free-write, uncensored. Read them aloud to yourself. By articulating your goals, you’ll begin to visualize them. Then decide what your top three priorities are. Which ones do you want to work on immediately? Write them down now! Keep this list in a safe place where you can refer to it.
  • Take the top three and write down any real or imagined obstacles — no babysitter to go to the gym, not enough money for a trip, etc. Create a plan that moves you in the direction of achievement. If you want a new job a
    nd you’ve been saying that it’s not the right time, yet never even look, begin to look. Write a new resume. Find one positive thing you can do that alleviates the obstacle. It doesn’t have to be grandiose. You can take small, consistent steps to get yourself unstuck and moving forward.
  • Make a daily commitment to yourself and do one thing every day that brings you closer to accomplishing your goal. Perhaps less television time, more reading, less loafing on the Internet, more studying or exercising to lose that weight. Start small and keep moving. In other words, heed the Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
  • Find people that will encourage you. Run from the pessimists; you don’t need their negative energy. Listen to inspiring podcasts or talks (ted.com is a great one). Read articles or books that aid in achieving your success. Join support groups that may provide you with valuable information and shared experience that you can utilize on your journey forward.

Take notice of your small successes and applaud yourself. If you begin to slide back into your old excuse making ways, get back on track. Excuses are usually disguising something more profound. Fear, procrastination, and poor self-esteem can all be factors. Be honest with yourself, and address the underlying emotions. Then move beyond them. Over time, you will develop a new habit of not making excuses, but rather setting goals and working towards them, one step at a time.


Finding Happiness After a Breakup

The ending of a long-term relationship can leave you feeling abandoned, resentful, or angry especially if you were on the receiving end of the breakup.  Breakups can create feelings of rejection and a sense of, humiliation, despair, and despondency, however you don’t have to feel these uncomfortable emotions forever.  There are ways to recover and move on with the your life, despite the breakup, you can find happiness again, give yourself time.

First and foremost, be patient with yourself and allow yourself time to grieve.  Short-cutting the grieving process will only haunt you.  Unresolved grief can cause prolonged depression and/or anger, which can simmer and erupt when you least expect.  Give yourself the chance to feel the pain; ignoring it creates an elephant in the room effect.  Facing painful emotions is like staring down a fear, you need to confront it to overcome it. You have experienced a loss, not just a physical loss also an emotional loss, someone you trusted and love.  Even if you were the one to initiate the breakup, you might still have to work through the grieving process, as you let go of one life preparing for another.

Be kind to yourself, treat yourself like a best friend; remember that you are still here, your wants are important, don’t ignore the need for food, rest, and companionship.  Take it easy, rather than beating yourself up by rehashing old arguments or thinking that you could have saved the relationship if you did this or were more of that. Take some time to nurture yourself, take hot baths, read, play music that makes you happy, buy flowers for your house, set your living space up the way you want it to be.  Foster healing through alternative holistic methods such as massage therapy, Reiki, or Acupuncture, take restorative yoga classes.

Surround yourself with loving positive friends and family, people you can have a laugh or a cry with, people who are there for you without judgment.  Be honest with them about your feelings.  If you live far away from these supportive folks, call them; take a trip and visit if you can.  Be cautious of people who try to take advantage of your vulnerability, you don’t need to beg for attention or affection nor do you need to bargain.  Seek out honest, forthright friends that will hold space for you while you heal. Stay emotionally and physically safe when you are feeling susceptible.  During recovery from a breakup, often people run into the arms of a stranger, just because they don’t want to be alone, be wary of that behavior as it rarely leads to a healthy relationship. Stay single for a bit until you’ve worked through the healing process.

Go out with people that make you laugh, find or foster those platonic relationships that leave you smiling.  Laughter is extremely healing physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It lowers your blood pressure, relieves stress and helps you connect with others.

Move, get out and walk, dance or ride a bike. Physical exercise has a cathartic effect, releasing those endorphins that increase your sense of well-being. Sitting around the house, being sedentary can exacerbate feeling bad about yourself and your life.  Holing up on the couch watching endless Netflix movies will only make you feel stiff and slow your circulation. Getting out and exercising, flushes fresh blood through the body, slows the breathing, and quiets the mind all while keeping your body healthy and improving your self-esteem.

Spend time figuring out what it is you want.  Write down how you want your life to look, don’t censor yourself, write without monitoring what is possible.  Do you crave more time in nature, would you like to allow for more creative time, do you want to travel?  Then go down the list and begin to do some of those activities or at least plan for them.  Always wanted to go to Australia but your partner never did, now is the time to splurge, count your pennies and take the trip.  Begin to rebuild your life the way you want, let go of what was and focus on what is and what can be. Reinvent yourself from the pool of personal passions and desires.  Take dance lessons, or that job in the city; start to say yes to you.

Before long, the misery of the breakup will be behind you.  Celebrate that you have come through the fire, you have not just survived, you are happy and most likely a better more wholesome version of yourself.  Realize that the breakup as painful and awful as it was, taught you something about your resilience, your ability to heal, then open your arms and let happiness back in.


How Anger Destroys Relationships

Think about what happens when you or someone you are in a relationship with gets angry.  Blood pressure rises, heart rate increases, and worst of all, communication comes to a screeching halt. The ability to remain loving and rational leaves on a Lear jet, and when the confrontation is over, the wounds may have caused irreversible damage.  If you or someone you love has an out of control temper, it’s time to talk about it and make real changes that will strengthen the relationship.

Long lasting, sincere, balanced relationships are sustained when anger is kept in its proper place. Let’s face it, we all get annoyed at times, anger is an emotional reaction to what feels like an injustice or hurt. If a partner has betrayed our trust or hurt us, it is natural to feel angry, but not productive to remain in that place.  On the other hand, raging over small incidents such as towels not being folded a particular way or toothpaste caps not on, or losing it when your partner doesn’t like the same music as you—is unhealthy and destructive.

Relationships need to be nurtured with open lines of communication. Too much angst on a daily basis will erode the very fabric that binds you and your partner.  When you are angry, you are not thinking with your rational mind but rather your emotions, and if you don’t step out of the situation to let tempers cool off, you may end up saying hurtful things to your partner.  Regardless if said in a fit of rage, words can damage, degrade, and diminish a relationship to the point of being unsalvageable.

Rather than going down that slippery slope, count to ten, then walk away and simmer down before you speak. Write a letter and get out everything you want to say, uncensored, and then burn it.  If you want positive results, communicate your needs with a cool head rather than a hot temper. The truth is, any satisfaction you get from saying something mean, is temporary.  In the end, the anger subsides, and you’re often left with guilt or shame and sometimes a feeling of emptiness. None of these feelings are constructive to you or your relationship.

Being angry all the time or dealing with someone who is, is exhausting.  All the energy spent on getting fired up or attempting to control it’s effect on you, stifles your ability to achieve, to create, and to love.  If your partner is often mad and blames you for everything under the sun, you may feel as if you are walking on eggshells.  If you are the culprit, you may have a difficult time keeping any lasting relationships and begin to feel misunderstood and alienated.

Anger is both learned and innate, and it manifests in different ways and can stem from a variety of causes. How you saw anger management modeled as a child plays a role in how you handle your own anger.   If an abusive parent that modeled chronic anger or fits of rage raised you, you might be imitating that bad behavior as it seems “normal” to you.  Maybe you feel emboldened by anger as it gives you a false sense of control.

The good news is whatever the underlying cause, excessive or explosive anger is treatable. The first step is recognizing and owning up to it, and then through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and/or EMDR, you can learn how to live without anger controlling you.

If you and your partner want to change your patterns, practice using “I” statements rather than shaming and blaming (which fuels anger and defensiveness), “I feel betrayed when you don’t follow through with what we agreed upon.”  Try being empathetic to your partner. Empathy helps us understand the why behind another’s emotions—that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate bad behavior. Compassion provides valuable insight that can help you understand your partner, which in turn gives you the ability to respond less defensively as you realize it’s not about you. Count to twenty-five, breath, exercise, go for a walk—do whatever it takes to cool off and let your anger dissipate before you speak. Perhaps making an appointment with your partner to discuss the issue the next day at a specific time would be best as this will give you both time to cool down.

When you both feel ready, touch each other—give a hug, make-love, kiss, hold hands, reconnecting physically, is healing.  Practice not flying off that proverbial handle, cultivate patience and eventually you will be able to respond rather than react.

 


Saying Good-bye

Whether it’s saying good-bye to a friend who is moving, a child going off to school, or parents who were visiting for the holidays, regardless of the scenario, saying farewell is hard.  It can elicit feelings of loss, sadness, and melancholy that can stop you in your tracks, at least temporarily. You may experience old feelings of abandonment or separation anxiety. Know that all of these emotions, although uncomfortable, are perfectly normal. Here are a few suggestions that may help.

Let yourself be in the moment with your feelings, acknowledge them knowing you are not alone in coping with good-byes, everyone experiences them.  Give yourself a day or two to notice your emotions and give yourself room to breathe. When we stuff feelings they tend to lasts longer and can fester causing you to feel prolonged grief or sadness. You may choose to lighten your work load for the first day or two giving yourself permission to take it easy. Listen to music that soothes you, talk to friends that are comforting and kind and that can relate to those good-bye blues.  Be honest with yourself and others about how you’re feeling rather than putting on a mask and parading around as if you’re absolutely fine.

Plan how you will stay in touch with the person, you can do this ahead of time. Eventually you’ll look forward to those letters, Skype sessions or phone calls, as they will enrich your sense of connection.  Send cards out on a regular basis, the old fashion snail mail way. Recall the delight you get when receiving something happy in the mail, such as a thinking of you card and start a tradition with the people you said good-bye to.

Take a walk or do a home yoga practice, allowing your body to move can help you process feelings.  Getting outside in nature can lift your spirits and renew your sense of well-being. Breathe and remember all of the joy and happiness you experienced with the person or situation you are missing.  Smile and recognize the value of healthy happy relationships in your life and the gift of change. We could attempt to dodge loss if we never loved or took risks, but what sort of life is that?

Try journaling your feelings.  Sit down and write in a notebook or on the computer (whichever feels right for you) and pour your emotions onto the page, uncensored.  Getting feelings out, literally, can help put them into perspective. Write down all of your feelings, the happy, the sad, the confused, the silly and don’t stop until you have them all out.  If you are saying good-bye to a child going off to college or moving away, compile a list of all of the wonderful things you want to remember. Listing can help you sort through feelings as writing helps you declutter your mind, it lightens the load.

Draft a poem or write a song or draw a painting about your feelings.  Some of our greatest creativity can stem from loss.  You don’t have to be professionally in the arts to create, simply allow your emotions to evoke a piece of art.  It can be a profound process that may open up the artist within.

Give yourself time to readjust.  All of us get into patterns and routines or we take for granted that a particular person (whether at work or home) will always be there, till they’re not.  We are disrupted and forced to deal with a different experience. Set small achievable goals like changing your sheets or cleaning a bathroom—avoid making major decisions or tackling big project until your feelings of sadness have subsided.    

Although you can’t avoid the pain of saying good-bye, you can be proactive in how you cope.  Throughout your life there will be plenty of hellos and good-byes, recognize this is a reflection of the rich tapestry of loving caring relationships that fill your life and those around you.  

 


How to Live With a Narcissist

Does your partners’ every conversation revolve around her/himself, or do they chronically take credit for things they had nothing to do with?  You may be living with a person who has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). People with NPD build a fantastical overinflated image of themselves from which they navigate their lives.  They have a heightened sense of superiority and self-importance. People often describe a narcissist as pompous, arrogant, manipulative, and cocky. Yet, a narcissist can lure you in with their grandiose fantasies and charm.  Needless to say, it is challenging to create healthy intimate relationships with those who have NPD, but not impossible.

People suffering with NPD are often unconscious to, and want to avoid their buried feelings of insecurity, which is the root cause of their narcissistic behavior. They do this by creating delusions of grandeur in order to mask their feelings of inadequacy. Despite their inner hidden feelings of shame and of not being enough, their attitudes and conduct do not get a pass; they are responsible for them.  One of the first things you can do is identify behavior that is not conducive to a healthy relationship. Because narcissists lack empathy for others, it is difficult for them to listen. It is hard for them to sympathize with the pain and suffering of others, you included. Rather than explaining bad behavior away, it is essential to set and stand up for your boundaries and needs.

Once you have established boundaries, guard them closely for the narcissist is used to being the one in control and will rebel.  They are extremely resistant to change. They may even resort to name calling or rage, walk away and stand your ground. Don’t tolerate abusive language or behavior, there is never a good excuse for it.  It is not normal or okay for a partner to dominate and demand constant attention and admiration.  Nor is normal for a partner to be overly critical while at the same time never being able to admit their own faults or misconduct. You can alter your response to these narcissistic behaviors by establishing very clear boundaries that you adhere to out of respect for yourself. Write them down and then begin to implement them. Eventually like a well-tended garden, your efforts will yield resolve and self-confidence and perhaps a more balanced relationship.  

Separate reality and fiction.  People with NPD have a tendency to blame their partners for anything that goes wrong and for any of their shortcomings. They distort the truth.  Remember, narcissists often try to defend their inflated self-image and will lie when they deem fit to keep it propped up. They tend to feel entitled to whatever it is they want and when it does not happen, they often lash out and condemn you.  Redirect the truth by pointing out simple realities and facts in a way that does not shame the narcissist. Role model what it looks like to admit failures, pointing out the lessons that can be learned, but don’t expect the narcissist to have an immediate about face.  It will take time and consistency for them to realize that they can safely let go of having to be right all of the time. That in our failures we learn to stretch and evolve into a fuller human being.

In order to preserve your own self-worth while living with a narcissist, it is essential to deflect any projection of who you are as a person.  In other words, a narcissist may make belittling comments slowing chipping away at your self-esteem. “Oh you are so lazy, you’re lucky you have me, no one else would want you. If it wasn’t for you, I would be further along in my career.”  You get the point. Feed your self-esteem by spending time with others that are positive and uplifting. Validate yourself by living the life that you want, follow your dreams and passions. Equally important is to let go of the false stories in your head that the narcissist may have planted.  By knowing who you are as a person, it’s much easier to redirect undeserved blame.

Realize the narcissist’s blame is not really about you at all, it’s about their protecting the image of themselves.  As tough as it is to take unwarranted criticism, remember that you have nothing to do with it. If you imagine holding up a mirror, know that the narcissist is really talking about himself or herself.

Denying the bad behavior of a narcissist will not make it go away.  Ask yourself if being in the relationship is what you really want. If you want to keep this person in your life, start by gently beginning to speak out against their behavior.  Stay focused on how the behavior makes you feel.  Narcissist want admirers, railing over all of their faults and poor conduct will unnerve them.  A kind and gentle approach will have a more powerful and positive impact.

Take time to construct real answers to questions such as how will you enforce your boundaries.  What has not worked in the past? Look at the balance of power in your relationship, how will that be impacted?  What do you want from the relationship? Is your love real or are you in the relationship for other reasons? Sincere reflecting will help you create a realistic plan for the changes you want to make. Be patient with yourself.  Cultivate wholesome relationships with friends (outside of the narcissist’s inner circle) where there is a true ebb and flow of give and take. Notice how that feels.

Narcissists can change, if they want to. They can learn to listen, to follow through with their promises, and to be more engaged with your needs and desires. It would be unhealthy for you to live your life waiting for this if the person suffering from NPD has no interest in working on their behaviors with a psychotherapist or couples counselor.   

Ultimately, deciding how much of your time and energy you want to spend in/on this relationship is paramount. Search within yourself so that you live a happy joyful life.