Category: self-help

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.


Changing Your LifeStyle

 

Changing your lifestyle can bring a sense of excitement, like moving to Florence Italy, or some other place you’ve fantasized about. Or it can be as subtle as deciding to cook vegetarian meals. Regardless, switching things up takes concerted effort to make it real.
Here are a few ideas to help you make the changes your passionate about.

Be clear with your vision, what is it that you want to change? Detail it, color it in, avoid vague ambiguous goals. Being specific will help you visualize and embolden your plan. Oh, and yes, have a Plan! Flopping about willy-nilly without some kind of road map will get you nowhere.

Set realistic goals that you can achieve and that will encourage your tenacity. For example, you want to move to a new location. Decide when (in two months, a year), be realistic with the cost, then start setting aside your move money.

Whenever you do something new, out of the ordinary (big or small) you are going feel that pang only change can bring. Change is often hard, even when it’s fun. Let’s face it, It takes effort to do something different. Shake hands with this, and soon enough that discomfort disappears. Changing your life may be the most challenging and uncomfortable thing you’ll ever do butin the end, it’s worth it. Marriage, children, opening a new business, taking on a new job, going back to college, relocating are all wonderfully exciting. They are what you’ve dreamed of…but they still take some adjusting to.

Think about what it is that has held you back, then move onward. Pull out those negative tapes from the past and toss them in the trash. You ARE capable of change, of achieving dreams, of becoming a new you.

Set timelines that will keep you on track. Be diligent about them and again be clear. Rather than saying, “sometime in the spring I’ll get more work” rephrase it to a specific positive: “In one month I’ll have a side job that will move me towards my goal of making more money.” Make concrete time frames and stick to them. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Be prepared to adjust when a wrench is tossed in the mix. When you get tired or derailed, instead of drowning yourself in negativity, go with the flow. Acknowledge the hiccup, the slow down, the block and keep going. Read stories of empowerment, talk to others who have overhauled their lifestyle, listen to how they got through the storms of doubt.

Keep reminders, pictures, mantras, anything that roots you onward to your new location, your new life. If traveling more is the goal, post pictures of the places you plan to go. Listen to cultural music that inspires you for the journey. Read and educate yourself on whatever it is you are embarking on. Whether it is changing your diet or learning how to sail, learn as much as you can.

Get your spouse, your friends, your family on board. Remember though, silence the naysayers, do not ask their advice, they are all too eager to impose their fear and trepidation. But it is not yours.

Reward yourself when you’ve climbed a wrung, gotten closer to the finish line. Celebrating the small victories along the way, gives you incentive to keep going. Tony Robbins has said, “By changing nothing, nothing changes.” Continue creating the life you want. No one can do it for you, and you have what it takes, just do it!


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


Creating a Consciously Aware Life

 

How do you define consciousness? The medical definition of consciousness is the state of being awake and aware of your surroundings. But there is a deeper more symbolic definition of consciousness that transcends the physical and the mental.  The ninety-three-year-old Buddhist Monk and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh describes consciousness like a stream or river, it is always continuing and evolving. And like running water there is the shallow surface to the still silence in the depths below. Like many who have studied consciousness in the physical (brain/mind) and its effect on the body and perception, they all have found that you can shift your consciousness once you raise your awareness and focus.

If you think of consciousness as layers imagine the first being that which is more primal or automatic and connects the brain to the body; your physical needs; hunger, pain, pleasure. You are aware if a room is hot and stuffy, if you are nauseated, or feeling relaxed from a massage. This is surface consciousness.

Let’s think of the next layer as your thoughts and perceptions, how you evaluate your experiences and how they impact your decision making. Here lies what you have learned from both a formal education, absorbed from your culture, as well your past experiences and how these affect your emotions. Your emotions and feelings though are liable to be subject to moods of others unless you learn to listen within.

There is another layer. Learning to listen to the awakening of that layer, that transcends all the other layers, this deeper level of consciousness that can elevate your awareness, heal your mind and your body, and bring you a greater sense of peace and joy. Ah, this is what we all want, right? So how do we get there?

For a moment, create in your mind’s eye your favorite place in nature. Whether it is at the ocean hearing gulls and the sounds of waves crashing on the sand, or in the mountains with the scent of pine trees and the moist dirt of a mossy forest, breathe and be there for a moment. Open your eyes and notice how you feel. By bringing your awareness inward, you can choose what it is you want to focus on. This is a step in the direction of creating consciousness. Being aware. If you are meandering through a beautiful park, with the fall leaves surrounding you, yet rather than admiring their beauty you worry about an upcoming business meeting, your mind is not engaged, you’re distracted. Creating consciousness is letting go of those distractions and reconnecting to the quiet within.

Living consciously helps you with negative emotions. It gives you the ability to deal with negative feelings differently, to not be rote with reactions. Creating consciousness builds empathy towards yourself and others, because you have a deeper understanding. Think about when you were four or five, learning to count, then learning to add, subtract, multiply, divide, etc. As your awareness grew, so did your understanding and appreciation for numbers. It is the same with cultivating an expanded life that is fully alive and conscious. And like learning math, it takes practice.

When you are feeling angry, rather than lashing out, notice the anger, shake hands with it, acknowledge it. Then breathe, long slow steady breaths. Make a conscious choice to handle your anger differently, not allowing it to consume you.

Spending time in silence, bringing your awareness to your breath or meditating is a powerful way to increase your consciousness. By withdrawing from outside stimuli on a regular basis you can begin to create a calm interior. Physiologically, when you slow your breath, your body relaxes. Rapid breathing is associated with fear and anxiety. Consciously, focusing on breath, allows you to relax.  When you practice this, eventually you learn to quiet your thinking mind, the one that makes assumptions and passes judgements.

Living with purpose or living fully, is the same as living consciously. Bringing awareness to yourself helps you to be a more loving human being as you begin to see that you are interconnected to all living things. You need the warmth of the sun, the shade of trees, the oxygen from the plants, the love of another. By raising your awareness and centering on the self that is beyond definitions (mother/father, employee/employer) you can tap into the truest essence of you. That spirit or energy that is kind and loving can grow, once you bring your consciousness there and spend time stripped of pretense.

Opening your awareness liberates you from patterns of thought. Thoughts that have biases towards yourself and others. It gives you new perspectives, like wearing a pair of glasses that help you see better. You may not be aware that you treat certain people with disdain, like wait staff at a restaurant or the janitor at your children’s school. When you awaken your consciousness, you may see the humanity in all people. You may get to know that janitor and realize he is an artist or a single father working several jobs to provide for his children. Awakening removes veils allowing you to see the beauty in all things, a flower, an old man, a cloud. It gives you a sense of appreciation for the life that is all around you.

Lastly, living a conscious life is indeed like the stream that flows into the river that eventually finds freedom and flows into the ocean where all embankments and confines are removed. You don’t have to go on long extended or expensive retreats to create an expanded consciousness. You simply have to practice, be fully aware of the beauty around you, take time to notice your child’s sweet chubby hand that brought you a fistful of daisies, or the stranger that offered you a smile. Know that the sweet place of consciousness dwells within you. Listen to Podcasts, read books, find a favorite poet or philosopher, try guided meditations, nourish your consciousness, and then watch it, like the one seed of a sunflower, grow and bloom.


Coach Yourself to Freedom by Letting Go

What does letting go mean to you?

To me it means not allowing events from the past to influence your life today. When you let go, you learn to be in the moment, and experience what is happening right now. Buddhists refer to this as mindfulness or being fully immersed in what you’re doing. Mindfulness allows you to let go of everything going on around you and concentrate on your own actions. Mindfulness lets you to be free from passing judgment or expecting a certain outcome.

Your beliefs and attitudes may be keeping you from letting go and being present in the here and now. When you coach yourself to identify the beliefs that are holding you back, so you can let go of them and your emotional attachment to them. As you let go of the past you will be in the present. If you stop trying to control what happens, you may notice that you also stop criticizing and judging others. It’s simple, coach your mind to shift your words to view the world as the cup is half full and you will not only accept what is, but you will enjoy life more.

Life is a series of choices, many of which we make automatically, unaware of what we choose or why. When we are afraid of criticism or judgment, we are unable to learn from our choices. To be able to simply be, by learning to let go of judgment and ideas of what should be. Replacing your judgments with a sense of self-worth will allow you to develop the emotional intelligence to live in the present instead of dwelling on the past.

Our expectations also cause us to hold on to the past instead of letting it go. You may be disappointed, based on what you feel ‘should’ have happened, or what you think someone else ‘should’ have done. But when you free yourself from your expectations, you will heal yourself and those around you. Just think about how differently you respond when you feel judged, versus when you feel accepted as you are.

An exercise to practice when learning to let go is to ask yourself if you will feel stressed about a situation in the future, whether it be tomorrow, next week, next year, or in five years. The answer, if your honest with yourself will be no; because we do not really know how we will feel when the future becomes the present.

When you allow yourself to be in the moment, you can live your life simply because it gives you joy. Experiencing joy in your life is its own reward.


Coach Yourself Free from Blame & Shame

“Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame.  Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you.”    …Ralph Marston

 

Blame can render you powerless; wreak havoc in relationships, and eat away at your ability to change, to let go, and to get on with life.  So, what makes us fall into the blame trap and how can we free ourselves from it?

By answering these questions, you will better understand blame’s role in your life…Allowing you to eliminate blame from your feelings.

Like any new discovery, raising your awareness of where blame is at play is the first step in ridding yourself of it.  Do you blame your partner or others…do you repeatedly blame yourself when things don’t go exactly as planned?  Are you fearful of making mistakes?  Did your parents routinely use blame to shame you as a way of manipulating your behavior? 

Often the reasons we feel blame are unconscious. Have you gotten into a pattern of blaming everyone for failures, mistakes, or disappointments in life? Blame can become a way to vent anger and frustration; it can help you skirt around the truth, while dumping responsibility away from yourself when the burden feels too heavy.

The good news is you can escape the blame cycle with the following three steps.

Get in touch with your inner feelings and responses. If anger and then blame are your reaction in a relationship or in a challenging situation, take a moment and breathe.  Look at other options – identify your feelings first – (hurt, sadness, disappointment, fear, guilt) and remember most people are muddling through with their own set of challenges.

Make a plan – “Today I am not going to judge or blame others.”  When you establish a new pattern response, a positive one, you are teaching your mind to untangle its thinking from the trap of blaming and shaming.

Begin to love all of yourself, even the imperfect, for it teaches us humility, empathy, and inner beauty.  Author Sonya Parker once said, “Stop comparing yourself to other people, you’re supposed to be unique.”  Learn to love what you consider to be your shortcomings and find ways to navigate through them.

Having compassion for your limitations allows you to see the silver lining in the lesson learned and gives you permission to move on.  Use humor and put your imperfections into a positive perspective.  Trying to be perfect is exhausting and accomplishes nothing more than anxiety over making a mistake, which can lead to a fear of trying anything at all.  As babies we learn to walk by bumbling around like drunken soldiers, so it is in life, stop being afraid to fall.  It is the getting back up that counts.

Take ownership of your life and let blame fall by the wayside.  Often the faults we see in people around us are mirror images of our own.   Rather than harboring anger over your spouse, your parents, your boss, take action, free up your energy with positive affirmations and move onward.  If you feel yourself sliding back into the judging and blaming trap, simply stop and gently remind yourself, “I don’t need to that any longer.”  Celebrate your successes, no matter how large or small they are. If there is something in your life you want to accomplish, rather than brooding over why opportunity has not knocked on your door yet, explore ways to begin the new journey towards what you want.  Go back to school, spend time with people who honor your dreams, read inspirational books, let go of toxic relationships.

As you treat yourself with kindness, and take ownership of your life, blame will disappear.


Slowing Down

 

 

If you are always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in?”     ~ Nanette Matthews

 

Do you find yourself in a perpetual panic, chronically hurrying, feeling as if there’s never enough time? You’re not alone. The fervor of modern life can make it very challenging to slow down However it is possible to learn to temper your pace, while still achieving goals and checking off that ever revolving to do list. Slowing down doesn’t mean giving up, in fact, it is just the opposite! It is about investing in yourself, renegotiating your time, affording you more opportunity to be present, to be happy, less stressed and in the end, more efficient.

When you flit from one task to another, you deprive your spirit of soaking up the moment, and you rob yourself of the joy of the journey. Take a second to reflect on how many times you have been walking the dog, helping the kids, driving in your car, yet your mind is on a business meeting, a bill you have to pay, next week’s appointments. You miss the smells of nature, or the funny face your child made, or the beauty of the trees you are passing. So how can you learn to slow down, to notice, and to be more present?

Consciously learn to raise your awareness –Take small awareness breaks throughout the day. Look out of the window, notice how you are feeling, breathe fully for five or ten minutes. Turn away from your computer, your phone, your whatever and feel rather than do. Let go of day-to-day work and home demands for a few minutes every day.

Practice starting conversations with strangers – people in line, or the store clerk you see at your favorite grocery store. Acknowledge them; listen with interest to other people’s responses. By taking time to connect with others on a human level you open yourself up to new experience. Let go of the idea that you are too busy to listen to others. You will be astounded how often your assumptions of others prove to be wrong. You may get a little nugget of knowledge you hadn’t anticipated. Carving out time for others, even if it’s only a few moments of conversation, can renew your spirit and give you a sense of connection with others.

Connection lessens feelings of being overwhelmed and isolation – Think about when you talk to someone you barely know, maybe about something trivial, annoying or stress inducing, like traffic and realize, I’m not the only one who feels like this. If you never take the time to engage with others, you deprive yourself of giving and receiving acknowledgement.

Stop cramming your day with an impossible list of things to accomplish – Allow time for reflection, for exercise, for conversation with your family, for a relaxed meal. Be realistic about the number of minutes in a day. Prioritize, what is really feasible today? Ask for help, delegate responsibilities at work and home. When you try to be a superhero too often you find yourself depleted and resentful. Dodge those pitfalls by creating time for yourself.

Pay attention to your body, it is very wise – When you are tired, take a short nap. Like a car without gas or oil, your body needs fuel. Take the time to eat, not in the car or at your desk, but to eat with presence. Exercise, this can be a wonderful way to get out of your head. Breathe some fresh air, take a walk, a jog, a bike ride and focus on your breath.

Cultivate a small-town mentality – even if you are living in the center of a bustling city. What is small town mentality? It is slowing down long enough to say hi to the mail carrier, to notice the afternoon breeze or the soft tapping of rain on the window. It is bringing over cookies or flowers to a neighbor or simply saying hello to people. It is being part of the community you live in, acknowledging others.

Once you slow down, you’ll notice a new awareness settling in. You will have more energy, life will feel fuller and more rewarding. Gifting yourself with a slower pace will cultivate clarity, and garner new perspectives on life.

 


Practicing Gratitude

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” -Zig Ziglar

Building a practice of gratitude and positive thinking is easy for some people, but for others, it is a struggle. It may be challenging to break the habit of looking at life through a pessimistic perspective at this particular moment in time, as the world grapples with a pandemic and social unrest. However, through consciousness and practice you can change that. When your thoughts begin to move towards the positive spectrum, your eyes will naturally open to gratitude. In other words, it is almost impossible to be a negative thinker and have gratitude.

To grow your gratitude, look at how you feel about yourself and the people in your life. Do you gravitate towards trust, kindness, doing the right thing? How is your self-esteem? When you feel good about yourself, you can feel good about others. Positive thinking begins from within. If this is a battle for you, try repeating affirmations. Veer away from overly critical people in your life. Read uplifting material that encourages you and allows you to let go of fear. Recognize negative thoughts as soon as they pop up. Focus on your breathing, consciously slow it down and imagine with each exhale, you release negativity.

Implement noticing all the little things that are good about your day, your life. To change the hole in the bucket syndrome (no matter how much you have it’s never enough) redirect your focus to what you do have. Health, friends, a flower growing in your yard, your loving pets, two hands, a working mind. Make a gratitude list.  Once you get started you will see there is a lot to be thankful for!

Gratitude is active. It champions goodness, sincerity, earnestness and is meant to be shared with others. The more you give it away, the more it is like the one seed that grows into a field of flowers. Walk away from anything or anyone that is toxic in your life. You don’t need it. Most people that are negative about others are expressing their feelings about themselves

Positive thinking and gratitude reinforce each other. As your gratitude grows your belief in the goodness of others and the universe grows. From that point of view positive thinking is only natural.

This may sound sharp, but when you indulge a pity party for too long you may forget that you can leave at any time. Life is made of ups and downs, ride them out and learn the lessons. Let go, and move onward, don’t overly chastise yourself for mistakes. If you got a raw deal, it more than likely had nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person. Realize the good in a bad situation, things could always be worse. Find those little thank goodness’s that didn’t happen and be grateful. Practicing gratitude during difficulties builds stamina and helps you grow stronger and more positive.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” ― Lao Tzu This is a simple, yet profound reminder of being awake, being mindful. Paying attention to positive thinking, words, and actions has a ripple effect and over time influences every aspect of your life. When your inner dialogue begins to judge, complain, or criticize yourself or others, stop them in their tracks. Gently remind yourself, that you are learning to practice positive thinking and gratitude.

Gratitude begets gratitude. The more you express it through actions, the bigger it becomes. Be grateful for the lessons learned while you worked through a challenge, gratitude comes in many shapes and sizes. Practice acts of kindness, smile more, say hello, receive the day with an open heart thankful for another chance to learn and love. Then watch as your positive grateful living, blossoms into powerful changes.

 

 


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.