Tag: Bridge of Life Blog

Let People Know You Love Them

The old saying, “actions speak louder than words,” holds true when it comes to expressing the love we feel for others. This behavior may come easy to you, or you may struggle with showing your love, & if that’s the case, you’re not alone.

Previous traumas, relationship experiences, & past patterns of how love was modeled to you as a child, all play a role in how you express love to those you care for. The good news is, by actively showing love, you’ll receive it back in ways you never expected.

Rather than focusing on how much you are loved, shift your awareness to how much you express love. It’s not to say that you neglect yourself. Instead, it’s like looking at the glass half full or half empty. Try looking at the ways people express their love to you.

  • Kind words
  • Patience when you’re frustrated
  • Listening when you’re happy or sad

In other words, they are there for you. Use these examples to express your love back to them, then try cultivating an appreciation for the little things instead of expecting grandiose gifts as a token of someone’s love. Not that presents are inherently loving or unloving; they’re merely objects, that over time, fade or lose their appeal. Sincere appreciation provides fond memories & strength.

Express your love. Let loved ones know you’re thinking about them, not just on special occasions.

  • Text, write a letter or send a card
  • Call simply to tell them you miss them or love them
  • Let them know you hope their day is going well

It’s thoughtful things like these that reassure the people you care about that you love them. If you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage

  • Buy a random card
  • Cook a dinner complete with candlelight
  • Take the kids for an afternoon so your partner can have some needed alone time

Take time to think of the needs of those you love. This doesn’t mean you can fulfill their every whim or desire. Show your concern for them without it being unhealthy, manipulative, or co-dependent.

Ask them about their day, their desires, their pain, their passions, & then sit back & listen. A big part of expressing love is listening to your beloved. Think of how you feel when you’re not heard. You may feel neglected, ignored, or even unimportant. These aren’t positive feelings that nurture a loving relationship. When you listen with your heart, you begin to understand more fully. Ask what you can do to help. More than likely, knowing that you’re there to support through active listening is enough.

If you have a concern or hurt feeling, express yourself. Bottling up your emotions will only lead to resentment, which won’t help. If you’re fearful about something, be honest, let go of your pride, & don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. When you’re transparent with your emotions, you’re showing the person you love that you trust them with your whole heart & it’s a powerful example that your loved one can reciprocate, letting go of pretenses & being real. This is fertile ground for growing love.
Let your loved one know when you miss them, whether it’s physical yearn or something more ethereal. Maybe one of you has been traveling for work, or you live apart from each other. Perhaps you miss laughing with them, or riding bikes together or having sex, let them know what it is you miss & not in an accusatory way. Simply say, I miss …

Tell people you love & you’re grateful for them. Whether they’re a sibling, a parent, or a lover, let them know you appreciate them & why.

 


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!


Valuing Traditions in Life

With the passing of Labor Day, we are reminded of the pleasures traditions offer us. How they are a rich fabric of our lives, if we pay homage to them. Have you ever stopped for a moment and reflected on the value of your own traditions? Perhaps the grind of modern life has caused you to let go of cherished familial, cultural, or holiday customs. Carving out time for a tradition can restore your sense of connection while providing opportunities to create new memories.

Traditions are a wonderful way to catch up with people you love. They can be as simple as a once a month coffee or as extravagant as meeting for a vacation each year. Maybe your neighborhood has an annual potluck supper? By taking the time to participate, you build and strengthen relationships. You also develop a sense of belonging, which combats feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Honoring tradition helps you establish your own personal identity. When you choose to celebrate with others, whether they are family or friends, this is a beautiful expression of what values you hold dear. Often out of respect for the deeper meaning behind the tradition, you may re-arrange a work-week or forgo a routine. Maybe you and your spouse decide that every Wednesday you have a date night away from the children. Or you commit to a spiritual practice. These micro adjustments can be powerful testimonies to what you value in life. Traditions are often examples or inspirations for others to follow their belief systems.

Children adore traditions. Think back to your own family traditions; my great aunt Rose would make honey cake and my mom would make a chocolate cake with a chocolate cream cheese frosting that to this day when I think of either I feel warm and fuzzy inside. Celebrating with your children can help build bonds while giving them a glimpse of their ancestral heritage. Traditions connect children to their cultural and familial past and paint a picture they can carry with them. They give them a safe sense of belonging and security in a changing world.

Traditions can be modified or adapted to better serve those participating. Perhaps your family doesn’t eat meat, rather than turkey for Thanksgiving you gather over a scrumptious vegetarian meal. All the essential elements are still there; the preparation, the togetherness, the laughter, the breaking bread. New traditions can be initiated as well at any time. They can be serious or silly. I had a friend who started a tradition of “birthday elves” for her children. She would decorate with balloons and streamers the night before her children’s birthdays. In the morning the kids would be delighted to find the elves once again had remembered them. The interesting thing was, even when the children grew to teenagers they still wanted a visit from the birthday elves!
When traditions come from the heart, they allow us time to express our emotions. To commemorate a passed loved one with an annual ceremony gives expression of the love and life of that person. Traditions give us permission to step off life’s merry-go-round and to reflect. By keeping relished traditions we create a haven for ourselves and our children; a place where we recognize the relevance of our past and the importance of our future.

As the fall season fast approaches, perhaps allow yourself time to renew the gift of celebrating traditions. Evaluate those that have meaning to you and have somehow been neglected. By weaving traditions into your life, the fabric of your life will be richer.
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Born Again was originally published on Bridge of Life


Understanding Wellness

Emotional
wellness is not emphasized in our social, professional, educational or family
systems. If you think about it for a moment, wouldn’t it be great if mental
health were part of the main curriculum at schools? After all this is the 21st
century! And when was the last time you asked a friend or family member about
their emotional wellness? 

Throughout
my professional life, I have encountered many people who dislike themselves
because they are not emotionally healthy. They perceive themselves as “damaged
goods"; allowing people to neglect them, as their self-esteem is low. For
them, life is often about enduring, rather than thriving because they perceive
themselves as “broken” and some of society does as well. Not
receiving compassion from those around them, they may feel isolated.

Money,
prestige, position, beauty, cannot be enjoyed and appreciated unless paired
with emotional wellness. Therefore, our emotional, mental and
physical well-being is the foundation upon which we can build. Celebrities who
are in the news and unhappy prove this point.

For
decades as an experienced psychotherapist and relationship coach, I have been working
with people so that they can achieve their dreams and goals. I assist people
to let go of feelings of inadequacy and help them to like themselves as they
raise their self-esteem.  A major component of healing is broadening and
educating ourselves in the art of living, particularly when it comes to
wellness. 


Finding Contentment


Look at each day with gratitude; it’s a new opportunity to grow into the best person that you can possibly be. Your only competition is yourself. When you allow yourself to be content with what is, and identify your personal goals to strive for, it’s a sure path to long-term success, and most importantly, happiness.  

Day by day, be content with whatever you have and satisfied with whatever happens. Everything else will fall naturally into place.” -Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (Tibetan Lama 1910-1991)

How often do you wish that your life went according to a different plan? Do you find yourself disappointed when things don’t quite go your way? We’ve all been there— no matter how wonderful a situation may be, it can be easy to find a way to make ourselves dissatisfied, overlooking the positives that undoubtedly exists.

When we allow ourselves to be caught up in outside influences, we may begin to judge ourselves based upon the way that we perceive another’s life to be. When we take these situations out of context, we begin to develop negative thoughts like envy or self-doubt, which rob us of happiness and joy.

With our new reliance on technology, we’re also afforded the opportunity to keep up with our friends through social media, but it also creates an increased desire to keep up with the Joneses in many facets of life. We find ourselves without the appreciation for what we do have and more focused on the things that we don’t.

As Dilgo Rinpoche so astutely points out, the universe has a way of falling into place organically. We don’t ask the world to spin, or flowers to bloom; they just happen, and it’s glorious, because it’s exactly the way it is intended. In our human lives, there is an incredible opportunity to do the same, the action of letting things happen at will, is a gift to us.

Contentment begins when we gives ourselves permission to not be perfect, when we let go of our assumptions about others and when we begin to see the nuances that make life wonderful. It’s what we’re not planning; expecting or anticipating that makes life interesting and worthwhile.

There is great freedom that comes with us letting life unfold as it will, by experiencing it naturally instead of through a manufactured process; we find beauty in the details we may have otherwise overlooked. Personal satisfaction can be found in being true to who we are; not by keeping up with others.


The Power of Loving Ourselves

With marriage
equality for all now in the United States, ‘love is love’ is the new law of the
land. It’s exciting to see that same-sex relationships are now recognized as
legal and celebrated in our current culture— but what about self-love? Often it
is believed that we can’t have successful relationships with another without
loving ourselves first.

Before we’re
able to live a fruitful life with another person, being satisfied and content with
the person that we are now is paramount. Knowing what our dreams and plans are
for our future will allow for a successful relationship.  If our part of the foundation has a crack,
the relationship will suffer.

We want to be
certain in ourselves and in our abilities—personally and professionally. Only
then, can we be the support system and true partner that a relationship needs
to succeed from both participants. Many times, we look at love as an external
force, when in reality, it is an internal practice.  We all desire to be loved, but knowing how to
love can be quite challenging for many.

Much like
happiness, our approach to love is best based from a proactive, positive place.
When we’re plagued with self-doubt or disdain, those toxic feelings will poison
not only our own mind; they will infect our romantic partner, possibly ruining
our relationship.

Take a look at
your current relationship, or your most recent if you’re single.  Do you allow yourself to be built up by being
happy or are you self-sabotaging by internalizing negative emotions, which harm
your relationship? You may not even be aware that it’s happening, but when
you’re mindful, you’ll be more aware of how your thoughts affect all facets of
your life, including love.

We’re all
responsible to take care of each other, especially the people we have chosen to
love. Give your partner the benefit of having somebody who can stand tall,
proud and strong alone, but loves the idea of having a counterpoint to share in
the joys of life with.  Just like love is
love—light is light, be the light and it will shine brightly, enhancing all
aspects of your life.


The Happenstance of Happiness

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Happiness may be the most elusive of all ideals. We’re taught from a very young age that happy is good and sad is bad; we’re programmed to believe that without achieving ‘happiness’ we’ll be void of anything worthwhile in life.  And finding it, sometimes, can feel like a tall order.

First of all, how do we even begin to define happiness? Well, that’s deeply personal and different for each of us. There are many books written about how to reach happiness, listing different thoughts on the how. Some list characteristics of happy people. A client mentioned Sonja Lyubomirsky, who does this in her book “The How of Happiness,” which she touts as a “scientific approach to getting the life you want.” However I am not certain I would agree with her, as happiness is an emotion. What I do agree with is that some people are happier than others. This is due to the way they view the world and how they use language to shape their thoughts. Using positive self-talk, you can shift from negative to positive feelings, therefore achieve a happier state of being.

Some of Sonia’s ideas about people who are happier that I do agree with are as follows:

  • • They devote time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.
  • • They practice optimism when imagining their futures.
  • • They are not immune to the vicissitudes of life. However they are very aware that change is constant, and don’t dwell on misfortune.

The keywords in the characteristics make sense—devotion, optimism, resilience—they’re all powerful attributes that contribute to positive outcomes. When we focus on what’s possible through positive thought and action, we’re training our brain to be more proactive in creating ‘happy’ solutions.

As I think about happiness, I know it to be an emotion that is created by a combination of thought and action. You are probably aware of the actions you take that make you happy. Consider increasing how often you take those actions. Also, as you become more and more aware of your thought processes practicing positive self-talk will become a habit.

When or if you are feeling sad, you can use this exercise to bring you back into happiness. Sit quietly in nature, focus your intention upon your heart and ask yourself what makes me feel happy…listen quietly as the answer may come in the sound of a voice, the passing of a squirrel, the falling of a leaf. As you regain your center the language of your thoughts will shift into positive ones and you will experience happiness again.


The Key of Communication

Have you ever imagined talking to someone beyond your words? Communicating through speech is our most common form of relating to each other; imagine if one day that changed. We’ve heard of being ‘telepathically connected’ to someone, usually a close friend, relative or lover, but what if everyone could take it a step beyond that? What if our brains could actually connect on a continuously subconscious level?

‘Brain-computer interface’ is the term for this phenomenon, one that was created to help people with physical disabilities to better adapt to the world around them. Turning challenges like picking something up into an action as easily as just visualizing it. These technological and scientific advances will continue to evolve. Going forward they could enter the mainstream and change the way we interact with each other. How will that change our relationships: interpersonal, familial, and romantic?

As the New York Times notes, “Soon, we might interact with our smartphones and computers simply by using our minds. In a couple of years, we could be turning on the lights at home just by thinking about it, or sending an e-mail from our smartphone without even pulling the device from our pocket. Farther into the future, your robot assistant will appear by your side with a glass of lemonade simply because it knows you are thirsty.”

Just as computers can transmit information, what if the future allowed us to transmit directly into another person’s brain through thought? As The Optimist explains, our ability to speak stemmed from the necessity for us to ‘transmit ideas’. Presently it is becoming an archaic way to interact as the world continues to advance.

What is the one thing that doesn’t change? Our intentions, and that may be the trickiest thing for technology to catch up with. While we may think something, is it something we want to share with someone mind-to-mind? For those of you that are Star Trek fans you might recall Spock having ‘mind melds’ in order to merge with another persons thoughts. What is important here is that Spock had a choice and so did the other person. While we may picture a cheeseburger in our minds eye, does that mean we want to eat one? Or does it mean that we’re just daydreaming about them?

What’s most interesting as we evolve as humans is that even with the monumental advancements that we have made, there are still ways to miscommunicate or misinterpret others words. Presently the misinterpretations are through speech, however in the future it very well may be through thought. Make learning to understand the long-term goal. No matter how reliant we become on a new form of communicating in the future; experiencing intimacy with someone is about processing information so that both you and the other person understands, no matter the vehicle.