Tag: balance

RELIEVING LONELINESS THROUGH CONNECTION

 

Feeling lonely & being alone are polar opposites. Spending time alone affords you enormous benefits like the opportunity to contemplate, sort through thoughts, & calm your mind from the daily barrage of stimuli, which in turn settles the nervous system. Loneliness involves a sense of isolation regardless if there are hundreds of people around you. Think the tips below can be helpful to someone else? Pass it along!

Try out these six techniques & discover how to feel less alone

  • LOG OFF & TUNE OUT – Get out of the house & see people face to face rather than on Facebook or Instagram. Studies show that too many hours on our computers & phones are detrimental to our mental & physical health, if not tempered with real-time contact with others. So next time you go for a walk, turn your phone off & notice all that is swirling around you. Get out of your head & dive in with your five senses. Refresh your ability to feel alive & notice the people around you.

 

  • TALK TO PEOPLE – Yes, that means strangers as well. You’d surprised how many other people feel as much as you do. Take a risk & say hello to the woman at the park who is also alone with her kids in the morning. When taking public transit, strike up a conversation. I’ve met incredible people with inspiring stories while riding the subway. Had I been on my phone, I would have never made the connection. When you’re standing in a line at the store, chat with the person behind you, say hello to the cashier. All of these interactions build your sense of community & allows you to feel a part of something. Get to know the names of the people who work at the places you frequent. If the thought of talking to strangers is terrifying, a simple hello with a smile will erode awkwardness over time & leave you feeling less bashful.

 

  • GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS – This may be a real tough one for many, but studies have suggested, getting to know people in your immediate community provides a feeling of safety * can bring new friendships as well. Rather than running in the house double-locking the door and shutting the blinds, take time to say hi to the guy next door or the woman across the street. Before long, you will be enjoying a newfound sense of community. Getting to know even the annoying neighbors, may pave the way for negotiations.

 

  • CALL PEOPLE & MAKE PLANS – Be an instigator for getting together even if it’s simply for coffee or a glass of wine. Rather than feeling lonely, reach out to people & perhaps invite them over or suggest doing something together. Go on a hike or walk or anything that builds a connection with the other person. Adopt more of a dolce vita attitude, in other words, live as if you’re in Italy where there are no to-go cups. Take time to indulge your relationships, they’re as important to living a healthy life as breathing clean air. It’s not a waste of time to sit with a friend & simply catch up or indulge in conversation. Just like a job, you want to invest time into relationships to make them fulfilling.

 

  • BE HONEST WITH OTHERS – Let people know when you’re feeling lonely. You’d be shocked at how many are right there with you!  Drag your loneliness into the light of day & talk about it openly. Many of us feel lonely at different stages of life. Perhaps you’re a new mother & on maternity leave. Your partner & friends are at work all day so you begin to feel isolated. Be honest with yourself & seek other women in the same boat. If you just moved to a different country or state or switched jobs, take the time to introduce yourself & explain that you’re new. Begin to see where you can fit in, chat with co-workers ask about local spots that deserve checking out. Over time, you’ll build mutual camaraderie. Whenever we’re honest about our emotions, we sow the seeds of sincere relationships that leave you with a true confidant as well as a friend.

 

  • GET INVOLVED – Join a group of moms & kids at the park for playdates or even a political cause or enroll in an Improv class. Look to your interests as a source for finding meaningful relationships. Maybe you’re seeking spiritual insight, search for a church, synagogue or temple that speaks your spiritual language. Investigate how you can become involved. Volunteering is another excellent way to make lasting connections by surrounding yourself with others who are also passionate about the same issue.

 

Implement a few of these suggestions to reduce feelings of loneliness & begin to give yourself the gift of connecting with others—you deserve it!

 


ACTIVE LISTENING

Listening is somewhat 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. What I am referring to is 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 genuinely 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’re saying is ambiguous, murky, or makes no sense to you, 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 hear what the other person is saying entirely. If you find yourself preoccupied with focusing and crafting what you think, you are not listening. If you realize your reply has nothing to do with what the other person is said, you were not paying attention. 

Naturally, it’s easier to listen to people you share common ground with, and it’s 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’s 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 cannot only muddle through tough conversations, you may actually start to see resolutions. When you let down the defenses and realize it isn’t about you, but about the other, you’ll 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’s interesting because they still use language, just not necessarily words. 

A huge part of learning to listen to others is listening to yourself. If you fill your mind and energy with some diversion 24/7, 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 profoundly it changed your life forever. It was that time you spent meditating or pondering the words or intentions of the person that convinced you there were truth and significance to them. 

Learning active listening will change the way you communicate forever, and it will enhance your relationships and confidence. In my next newsletter, I will expound on different listening techniques and how to listen and trust yourself. Stay tuned!


FINDING GRATITUDE UNDER EVERY NOOK & CRANNY

 

 

With Thanksgiving nipping at our heels, it’s a natural time of year to take stock of all we can be thankful for. When you appreciate the little things in life, a profound transformation occurs that can lift you out of the doldrums & help you to find more profound pleasure & meaning in your life.

In modern society, we’re bombarded with ads insisting we need the newest version of a gadget or device, the latest styles, & that more is better. We’ve become a throwaway society, but the good news is, we don’t have to subscribe to that persuasion.  In this newsletter, I highlight a few ways to find gratitude under every nook and cranny of your life.

Set a Positive Tone. Rather than reaching for your phone or computer first thing in the morning, take a few moments to say thank you for the morning itself. Sit up in bed, close your eyes, and breathe. Take a moment to notice the light of dawn or the pitter-patter of rain on the roof.  Perhaps when you get up, you enjoy making a delicious cup of coffee or tea, then sit in a comfy chair & inhale the aroma brewing. If you prefer yoga, do a few sun salutes honoring the gift of a new day. In other words, create a five-minute ritual that kicks your day off with the mantra, “Today, I will be grateful for my life.” After a few days of doing this, you’ll notice a difference, as it begins to set the tone for the rest of your day in a positive light.

Adopt A Less is More Attitude. Replacing the redundant “hole in the bucket,” “nothing is enough” syndrome with the idea that you have all you need is liberating. It affords you more time to take a walk, read a book, or indulge in an activity that costs nothing. Nature is such a giver, & it asks little from us. It provides us with glorious sunsets, the drama of cloud formations, the changing of seasons, & the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. If you begin to re-direct your focus on what you already have, you can let go of the constant need for more. Perhaps de-clutter & give away things you don’t use or need. When we open up the space we live in, we open our minds to clarity & widen our perspectives. If you struggle with clinging to stuff, try packing it away out of sight, knowing it’s not gone forever. With the holiday season on the horizon, practicing less is more can help curb overindulging in fatty foods. It can also help with perspective to gift-giving, maybe try homemade presents or gather without gifts.

Cultivate Simplicity. Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the art of sophistication.” We don’t have to rely on riches to be wealthy. Finding joy in spending time with friends or being content to be alone are both ways to practice gratitude for the small things in life. Breaking bread together or cooking a meal can be a simple task that renders quality, not quantity. By simplifying your day to day routine, you allow yourself more time to let go of stress. Rather than packing each day with more things on the “to do” list, see if you can allow yourself time to just be. Try sitting in silence for a few moments in the middle of the day to tune out demands, real or imagined. We don’t always have to make a profit in order to profit.  Giving value to the small incidentals in our life helps create a sense of contentedness. Rather than filling every moment with work or the need for a result, try carving out time to daydream, to remember fond memories, to call a person you love and say hi or let them know you appreciate them.

Embrace the Difficult Things. Being grateful for the difficult times is probably the biggest challenge we all face. Much like the terrains of the world, life has its peaks & valleys, its ebbs & flows. There are those moments in life that we’re in emotional or pain, & being thankful is as easy as walking across the Sahara without water. Think back to the times in your life that you did pull through & came out stronger. Realizing situations are temporary & there are people to help you through can be a powerful acknowledgment. It’s a commonality we share with others, a bond that lets us know we’re not alone – & for that, let’s be grateful.

As you make choices & plans for these next few months, perhaps keep these thoughts in mind, & you may find yourself having a less stressful, more enjoyable holiday season. Remember to thank yourself as well for the gifts & talents you bring to the world; smile in the discovery of all the positive energy you donate.


Social Media – Can We Have too Much of a Good Thing?

pic-socialmedia-web-750xx1800-1013-0-94-1

 

Social Media can be a great tool with many positive effects. I use it weekly to get my articles out to the world with my blog, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, Tumbler etc. We stay connected with family and friends and our relationships feel as if they are deepening because it’s so easy to stay connected. Social Media allows us to interact with close friends and family no matter how great the physical distance. For those friends and family that are challenging to be in close proximity with, Social Media allows us the contact without the conflict that may arise if we share physical space. It is most useful in times of distress to gain support from others.

We often feel that we know someone just because we see and read so much about them, forgetting that it is what they want us to know about them. They have shared and posted the parts of themselves that for whatever reason they are comfortable with the world knowing. This is very different than having an intimate conversation or a heart to heart with your friends. It’s very easy to start to compare yourself to the life that they have portrayed. Comparing yourself to others often leads to internal disharmony and on social media platforms you are measuring against a manufactured image, not an actual person.

It can be easy to get addicted to the virtual social world as no one can see you unless you want them too. It is safe, it is fun, it is playing a game and fooling yourself into thinking you are connecting with and making real friends.

Look around the next time you are at a restaurant. I’ve had the experience of being seated next to a table where almost the whole family is looking at their phones. I recall being on a subway, jammed in like a sardine with so little room I couldn’t take my hands out of my pockets. Yet, three people around me managed to pull their phones out and play games on their devices. People are so used to being connected to their devices, they don’t know how to be present. Of course on the subway ride I can fully understand them not wanting to be.

Many studies have shown a link between the amount of time spent on social media and the risk of depression and feelings of social isolation.

As with most things, it’s about finding a healthy balance. Limit time on social media to help you control your time in the “virtual world” and be sure to schedule dates to see people “live” – enjoy true connectedness to foster feelings of self-esteem and to eliminate the possibility of feelings of anxiety, depression and social isolation.


Finding the Positive

Author Wayne Dyer wrote, “Every time I see a coin on the street, I stop, pick it up, put it into my pocket, and say out loud, ‘Thank you …for this symbol of abundance that keeps flowing into my life.’ Never once have I asked, ‘Why only a penny…? You know I need a lot more than that.”

It’s really that simple. Day after day train yourself to say thank-you. We all know that the more we practice something, the more natural it becomes. Change the negative self-talk into positive, even if at first you don’t believe yourself. “I can’t believe I am late to work again, I am always late.” can be, “It was a tough morning, but I am glad to be at work and will adjust myself to what is. It’s a gorgeous day and I am happy to be a part of it!” Or, “I am so resentful that I have to work late, I wanted to go to the gym and now I won’t even be having dinner until 9:00” can be, “I’ll grab a healthy snack to keep myself nourished until I can have dinner. I’m lucky to have a job and I love so many things about it!” Even if you don’t feel like you love it at the moment, tell yourself you do. You can find something positive when you look for it. It sounds simple and it is. We often make life a lot harder than it needs to be.

It can take several months to make a shift, but changing the way that you talk to yourself every day will eventually have profound effects on your day to day attitude and even your physical health. You may be having a tough minute, but you don’t have to have a tough day.


Letting Go of Negative Narratives

Practicing the Art of Silence


Friends and Relationships – Making It Work

cat-245750_640
You’ve met someone and decide to start dating. You have been telling your best friend about this person and can’t wait for these two special people in your life to meet. The highly anticipated day comes, and it doesn’t go as planned. Their interaction is lukewarm, or one person is friendly while the other is not. How do you balance your two relationships and keep the peace?

Consider all sides.

The first thing to do is to consider each side’s perspective. Being the new person trying to fit into a relationship triangle can be challenging, as can being the long-time friend who has to make room for someone new.

Examine how you might be adding to the fray.

Without being aware of it, you could be making the situation more complicated. Are you setting unrealistic expectations? Do you want them to interact with each other in a certain way, and are disappointed because they aren’t? Be prepared for the possibility that they may never interact the way you’d hoped. However, it is also possible that in time, they will grow closer, or at least more cordial to each other.

Also, consider your dating history and how it may be impacting your friend’s perspective. If you’ve introduced a number of boyfriends or girlfriends to your best friend, your friend may just be staying cautious until s/he knows this new person is here to stay. You might not be the only one who gets broken hearted by breakups…friends who have invested their feelings on your behalf can also experience a loss.

Have an honest conversation with your best friend and romantic interest, separately.

Your friend may be worried that your new relationship will change the status quo or even jeopardize what you’ve had together. Your friend may be protective, wanting to make sure this new person is “good enough” for you.

Ask your friend what it is about the person you are dating that they don’t like: Is it the person’s personality? Does s/he think you’re incompatible with this new person? Do they see a change in you? Does your friend feel neglected or are they worried that you will no longer have time for them? Getting to the core issue can clear up misunderstandings and clarify expectations.

It may help to let your friend know that s/he is still valuable to you, and that you will make a concerted effort to spend quality time with him or her.

In your sit-down with your significant other, communicate why your best friend is important to you. He or she may not understand your friend, the type of friendship you have, or your history together. If your friend is overtly expressing dislike, it can be understandable that your boyfriend or girlfriend might react to the animosity, or be overly protective of you because of misconstrued interaction between friends.

Some more points to keep in mind:

  • If you are having a disagreement with one of them, be aware that telling the other one about it can reinforce the wedge already between them.
  • Invite your best friend and romantic partner to events you would normally invite both of them to. Give them the chance to get to know each other.
  • Allow them to have the feelings they have, which may or may not change with time.
  • Try to have a positive attitude about the interactions. Expressing anxiety will not promote harmony.
  • These two people you care about don’t have to be best friends with each other. They don’t even have to like each other. However, what will work is for each of them to respect your decision to have the other person in your life and for you to accept their relationship as it is.

While it is can be initially painful to see discord between your friend and significant other, the situation can be successfully managed, and even repaired, with everyone’s best efforts.

 


The Total Self

DSCN0155

In the post, Life Balance, I discussed the most prevalent areas of our lives that need balance and why each is important. The life area called Self is composed of our emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual needs and desires. Due to the complex nature of Self, I’d like to explore each component separately.

Emotional

The emotional aspect of Self determines how we feel about our inner and outer world. What do you need for a full emotional life that serves and supports you? Do you want to be more focused and grounded? Approach life with a more can-do attitude? Radiate more love and joy? React to challenges calmly and confidently? Once you decide the emotions that are important to you, ask yourself what actions to take or habits to adopt in order to bring them into your everyday life.

Intellectual

This is the part of us that needs mental stimulation and growth, and goes well beyond the classroom. It could be learning a new skill or hobby; increasing knowledge about a topic that interests you; challenging your brain with intellectual games or philosophical discussions. Consider what you need to keep your mind alert, interested, and challenged. What do you want to learn, discover, and explore?

Physical

The physical aspect deals with what it takes for you to look and feel your best. What does it take to be strong, healthy, and confident? How do you need to physically care for yourself and others? How would you want to be physically cared for by others? This includes nutrition and exercise; sexual needs; physical contact (a hug, pat on the shoulder or arm, etc). Some people crave a great deal of physical connection—giving and/or receiving—and some people not so much. Either end of the spectrum or anywhere in between is perfectly valid…it depends on what feels right to you.

Spiritual

This is the part that yearns to connect to something bigger than us. While connection to a higher power certainly occurs in religion, it is also possible to achieve through meditation, being in nature, and by practicing the arts…however you can come to a place of reflection, contemplation, and inspiration. Some questions to ask are: What fills your spirit and soul? Gives you comfort, guidance, and support? How do you want to grow spiritually?

Everyone is unique in his or her needs and desires. Awareness of what you require and desire will help you achieve those qualities that bring you balance within the life area of Self.


Life Balance

P1000339

Balance is an essential part of life. When elements in nature become unbalanced, they eventually correct themselves. The more out of synch the elements in nature are, the more intense the correction—what we call “natural disasters.”

If a houseplant is completely ignored, or only taken care of sporadically, the plant will not do well and might even die. If you give it too little attention—keep it away from sunlight, deny it water, or fail to plant it in the right soil—you can’t expect it to flourish. This is analogous to not taking care of an area of your life. By the same token, spending too much time and effort in a particular area of life is not healthy either. It’s like over-pruning the plant or providing it with too much water or sun.

As in nature, when we experience imbalance in areas of our lives—working too much, ignoring our finances, not taking time for self-love—there will be subsequent results.

There are 4 main areas of life most of us can identify with as being significant:

  • Relationships – Our interactions with and connections to family, friends, and community.
  • Finances – The money we earn, save, invest, and spend.
  • Career – What we do (for pay or not) that contributes to our profession or career goals.
  • Self – Our spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs and desires.

Every life area is important and needs attention to foster balance. When we spend most of our focus in one area—say, putting all our attention on our career—then another area will most likely suffer—for example, relationships or self-care.

Take a few minutes to determine what percentage of time and energy you spend in each of these areas. Are any of them lacking? Is there a way you can bring those areas into greater balance? What is one step you could take to do so? Perhaps it’s consolidating one or two workdays each week in order to spend that time with family. Or maybe it’s scheduling a monthly massage or earmarking 10 minutes each morning to journal. If your finances need attention, maybe consulting a financial advisor or a friend who excels in budgeting is in order. Commit to taking at least one action step in any life area that is out of balance, no matter how small it seems.

The amount of attention each life area needs may be different. Determine the amount of focus and energy that feels right for you. It may initially take a bit of focus, discipline, and effort to keep our life in balance, but like anything else we keep practicing, it will soon become second nature.


How to Make a Great Decision

For a moment think about the decisions that you made this week. Were they easy or difficult? Did you avoid or postpone any decisions? Are you hoping that others will make the decision for you?

Making decisions are important because how you make the decision and of course what decision you make will influence the quality of your life and happiness.

What makes decisions a challenge for many of us is that there is a lack of certainty with most decisions. Each decision is a risk.

How can you help yourself know the best decisions to make? Reminds me of the scarecrow in the film ‘The wizard of Oz’, at every cross roads he would just trust his heart, swing his arms and walk; but not all of us are comfortable with this approach. Another way to begin is by making an analysis of the situation. Based on the knowledge and circumstances of the moment, weigh the pros and the cons of each possibility and then ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this decision reflect my personal values?
  • What is my body telling me about this decision (excited, tense, relaxed)?
  • Do I feel great about the direction this decision is taking me?

By doing this you will be considering your actions and insuring that you are acting from your best intentions. If after you have made a decision, you notice that it’s taking you in a direction you don’t desire, you can stop, re-evaluate and make a different decision that will take you in the direction you prefer to go.