Tag: Life Advice

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.


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.


Celebrating the Holidays During a Pandemic

 

As this holiday season ramps up, you and your family may be wondering how to celebrate during a pandemic. Will you travel to see loved ones? Can you gather and commemorate your traditions?
PLAN / Perhaps the first recommendation is to plan ahead to help alleviate stress. That means talking openly about your expectations, your comfort level, and what is feasible for you. Communicating with family members and listening to their concerns is vital.

Assess the risks of gathering with honesty. Are there people in your extended family who are compromised or not comfortable with getting together? There are a lot of things to consider this holiday season. If you’re going to travel, there are both financial and health considerations. You may want to see your family; however, you may not be able to afford the time off or the travel expenses. Be honest with your family. Remember, this pandemic impacts people on many levels. Be open and understanding with yourself and others.

Plan the details as much as possible. Who’s going to host the meals, who’s going to attend? Will people bring their specialty dishes? There might have to be some agreement about isolating (and testing) before the event. Doing this would avoid any controversy about mask-wearing during the gathering. Remember, it’s all an attempt to bring joy and unity to a year that has had (for many) far too little of it.

REMAIN OPEN & EMPATHETIC / If one of your family members has respiratory issues or an immune disorder, they’ll likely be uncomfortable with large gatherings, family, or otherwise. Respect and support their decision, remembering this pandemic won’t last forever. If necessary, remind yourself and others that it’s temporary, and everyone has different comfort levels, different fears, and different health concerns. Now is a great time to practice loving kindness.

VIRTUAL GATHERINGS / If you can’t gather, find other ways to celebrate with your friends and family. Create an online meeting using Zoom or Skype and cook your favorite meal together. In other words, keep your beloved traditions even if you have to modify how you share them.

SNAIL MAIL / Write letters to friends and family expressing your gratitude for their love and tell them specifically how you miss them. Keep the connections alive during the holidays regardless of what’s going on. Step back and breathe into your memories of all the wonderful times you were able to share. Talk about them, laugh or cry, and share these memories.

EXPRESS GRATITUDE / It’s easy during difficult times to forget all that you have. At the same time, remember it is okay to feel sorrow or grief for the way things are. Be grateful for the suffering as it reminds you/us of the power of love and how palpable life is when you bring your awareness to happy times, loving fun time. Write a gratitude list. Begin with the littlest things you are grateful for; the coffee shop with its amazing cappuccinos, the neighbor who always says hello, the car you can get in and drive. Openly thank all of the things that make you smile; music, your pets greeting you when you arrive home, the sound of your name in your significant other’s mouth. In other words, shift your consciousness from your head to your heart.

TAKE A BREATH & STEP BACK / If you’re feeling overwhelmed this holiday season write down what’s essential to you. What can you let go of? Maybe not being able to gather has given you a reprieve from an overbearing family. Use this time to reconstruct the way you’d like to spend your holiday seasons. What rituals and traditions do you want to incorporate or let go of moving forward?
Above all else, the memories you share and the willingness to be together in different ways will keep your heart connected to those you love.


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.


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!

 


Thoughts of Giving & Receiving

The act of giving is a challenge for many people, & often around the holidays, it seems to be on the minds of everyone I speak with. 

“Am I giving enough?” 

“Am I giving the right thing?” 

“Who do I want to give to?”

“Who do I have to give to?”

“Can I afford to give enough?”

At the heart of these questions is usually fear & what each person is afraid of may be different. It’s as if by giving, in some way, we believe that we may be disappointing others or letting them down. 

One thought I have about this is there are many ways we give of ourselves to others & you can find a way that makes you feel good in your heart so that you can feel safe, loving, & positive about who you are & the choices that you make.

Receiving from others is also on people’s minds during the holiday season more than any other time of year. You may be looking forward to receiving gifts, yet the act of accepting the presents in your heart can be a bit difficult for you.

Feelings of vulnerability are often present when we receive. We may feel that our friends/family are not sensitive to our taste or that they did not take the time to plan for our gifts, which can create feelings of hurt, resentment, being unimportant. 

Many of us are uncomfortable with receiving, much more so than with giving because receiving taps into our own feelings of being loved. For some people, it can be much more challenging to allow love in & receiving does just that.

A lovely ritual you can do to assist yourself in allowing to both give & receive with ease is the following:

  1. Light a white candle.
  2. Sit in front of it for 5 minutes, watching it, letting your mind float.
  3. Wonder about the first three times you received something. Notice how you felt, what you saw/heard?
  4.  Now notice what you feel/think about those three times now.
  5. What are your challenges with giving & receiving?

 

 


It’s Not Fair!

balance

 

When I was young, I remember complaining about something to my mother. “It’s just not fair!” I cried. She stopped what she was doing and looked at me – a quizzical expression in her eyes and in her voice. “What ever made you think life was fair?” she asked.

The statue of Lady Justice, often found near courthouses, stands blindfolded while holding two scales in one hand. This is meant to show impartiality, divine order and law. As a society, we have an expectation of fairness. As youngsters, we were taught to be fair and to respect fairness. But fairness is in the eye of the beholder.

Studies have shown that when we recognize fairness, parts of the brain thought to be involved in how we perceive rewards activate. When we witness unfairness, our amygdala is triggered. The amygdala controls fear and anger and activates our emotions faster than our conscious awareness. This means that when we feel like we’ve been treated unfairly, we go into “fight or flight” mode, entering a space of agitation, anxiety and emotion.

When real life happens, the tough stuff of real life, do we expect it to be fair? What makes our version of fair better than someone else’s? When we are winning, we don’t think life is unfair. When we learn to release our expectations of fairness, we will find ourselves happier with what is.

We all know that life is not fair. We have seen examples of unfairness locally and globally. Physical and emotional hurts happen every day to the most innocent of people. The question, as Arthur Ashe asked when he was diagnosed with AIDS after a receiving infected blood during heart surgery in 1983, was not “Why me”, but “Why not me?”

Once you accept that life is not fair, we can get on with the business of living it.

We do this by choosing to do things that you enjoy and treating others the way you want to be treated.

* Enjoying a walk in nature to reconnect with life.

* Keep in mind that although we like to believe we have control over things, usually we do not.

* Remember to be grateful for what we have.

* Change our perceptions of reality, recognizing that everyone has their own perception.


Support yourself through transitions by changing your thoughts

butterfly-1503149-640x480

Losing or changing jobs, experiencing the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, becoming a parent, having a birthday that ends with a five or a zero….what these events have in common is they signify a change. Times of transition can create stress and discomfort as we adjust to our changing lives.

Transitions are a natural part of life, and aren’t the cause of our stress. What we say to ourselves about a situation creates our feelings and beliefs about the transition. We can support ourselves through a transition by changing any unsupportive or unproductive thoughts into supportive ones. Putting the three tips, below, into action will automatically shift your feelings about your particular transition and your beliefs about transitions in general.

There is more available to us than what we see. Before Isaac Newton “discovered” the invisible force that keeps us on the ground, gravity already existed and was working for us. Therefore, just because a solution or next step isn’t readily apparent, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Often when we take the time to be calm and still— such as during meditation—the answer we seek will come to us, or we will be presented with an opportunity that takes care of our current issue.

Allow the idea that Life is in our corner although it may not always seem like it. If you can’t fully get on board with this idea, be open to the possibility. Many belief systems say that if you are here than you have a purpose. I believe that we have many purposes. When we are on ‘path’, it will feel as if life is working with us. So, how do transitions fit in? As transitions are a part of life, just because we may not like a particular transition does not mean that it is ‘wrong’ or ‘off our path’. Sometimes we just do not like everything that happens in our lives. Many believe that we learn best from the more difficult challenges that come into our lives. I however see all as equal.

Do what can be done and let the rest go. Transitions are life unfolding before us. We respond to them as best we can. Not allowing our expectations or fears to control us, will keep us in the moment fully able to see our options. There are things out of our control, knowing which those are will make any transition easier. The knowledge that everything does pass and that you will come out the other side of the transition with insight and understanding will make any transition easier. Do take action when it is called for–realizing that sometimes the thing to do is nothing.


How to Resolve Conflict Through Communication

_807Disagreement is a natural occurrence in life—we all have different opinions, ways of doing things, personalities, and communication styles. However, if one or more of the persons involved don’t communicate openly, or let emotions take over, a disagreement can easily turn into conflict.

Here are some suggestions for resolving conflicts in a respectful and productive way:

  1. Acknowledge the points the other person has made with which you agree; if you don’t agree, acknowledge you’ve heard their point of view. Simply knowing their viewpoint has been heard can go a long way in diffusing conflict. It is also helpful to reiterate in your own words what they said, which not only gives them an opportunity to elaborate on a point, but also to correct any misinterpretations.
  1. When you speak, it is best to keep what you say to your own point of view rather than telling someone how they feel, think, or act. Those are your interpretations of what you experience. Frame your point in a way that lets them know you are only speaking from what you see and feel, which allows them the opportunity to clarify the same situation from their point of view. It is also a chance for them to clear up any misunderstanding.

Look at the subtle but meaningful differences in these examples:

Example 1

“You make me feel unappreciated all the time.” vs. “I feel unappreciated when I hear you say _____.”

Example 2

“Can’t you see I was trying to help you?!” vs. “My intention was to help you. I understand now that is not how you experienced it.”

In both examples, the first response places blame on the other person, whereas the second response communicates your experience in the situation. Which would you rather hear said to you? Blame puts the other person immediately on the defensive and they will in turn block out anything you say, or worse, interpret any further messages as attacks.

  1. Be aware of extreme or emotion-full words (also known as nominalizations). Using words like “every time,” “never,” and “always” may result in the other person going on the offensive to prove you incorrect, thereby allowing them to ignore the point of your message. Also, take care that any emotion-full or more vivid forms of a word are true (e.g., sad versus devastated); if you’re exaggerating for emphasis, your message may lose credibility. Emotional language may trigger the other person to react on your emotion rather than on your message.
  1. Allow the possibility that people can surprise you. We all have the ability to learn, grow, evolve, and change. The longer or more closely you know someone, the harder it is not to jump to conclusions based on past experiences. As Eckhart Tolle said, “The moment you put a mental label on another human being, you can no longer truly relate to that person.” Although you can take note of someone’s patterns, try not to let your awareness keep you from having an open mind.

Why Healthy Boundaries Are Essential

DSC00172

“The most important distinction anyone can ever make in their life is between who they are as an individual and their connection with others.” ― Anné Linden

Boundaries are necessary. Imagine a map of the world with no defined delineations from one country, state, province, city, or town on it…what a mess!

Without boundaries, it is easy to overextend ourselves or do things we don’t want to do. In the end, our energy is drained and we may feel resentment, anger, or disappointment toward others or ourselves. Having clearly defined boundaries help us feel grounded, balanced, and secure. Staying within our boundaries shows self-respect and self-love. When you make your boundaries appropriately known, it can also make life easier for others since they know what to expect.

There are several different kinds of boundaries:

  • Material boundaries – What material things, including money, you will give or lend.
  • Physical boundaries – Your level of comfort with physical touch or privacy.
  • Mental boundaries – Knowing what you believe and your willingness to consider others’ opinions or values.
  • Emotional boundaries – Awareness of your feelings and responsibilities to yourself and others, as well as being able to separate them.
  • Sexual boundaries – What you are comfortable with and enjoy pertaining to sexual touch and activity.
  • Spiritual boundaries – Your beliefs in relation to a higher power.

One important note: Do not mistake boundaries for walls. Spiritual and emotional boundaries are important for our own well-being. Boundaries help contain and build strength from within…whereas walls tend to block and defend.

If you have been reticent to set boundaries or to speak up when you feel a line is being crossed, ask yourself what is the reason behind it. Do you think you won’t be liked or accepted? That you’ll be seen as too selfish or too rigid? That if you don’t give someone what he or she wants, they will reject you? The bottom line is, those who matter will honor your healthy boundaries. Naturally, boundaries are a two-way street. Expect others to respect your boundaries, and you do the same!

Don’t know what your boundaries are? Need to re-evaluate them? As we head toward the holidays—with increased interaction with and demands from co-workers, friends, and family—now is a great time to get clear about boundaries!