Tag: values

“Parenting”

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Let’s Ditch the Excuses


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

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

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

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


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!


Connect Within

sunset

The unfolding of a new year gives us a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, that part within we perhaps call spirit or essence. As we take stock of our physical health, it is equally as valuable to get a psyche check-up, to quietly enter that realm of your being that is unique authentic, unspoiled. You may ask the questions: Where am I on my journey? Does the direction I am moving in match my intention? You may also contemplate your life’s purpose, which may be many folds. To realize yourself more fully takes courage and reflection.

Once you take the time to travel inward, stay for a bit. Clear away all of the stresses and influences that don’t really represent your true feelings or passions. How can you simplify? What practices can you begin that will move you closer to the vision of your best self?

Science tells us it takes twenty-one days to create a habit. What positive habit do you want to implement into your life? For example, maybe you want to stop reaching for your phone or device first thing in the morning. You would prefer to start your day reading reflective material to set an encouraging tone for you day. Place the materiel you want to read where your phone would have been, do this for 21 days and reap the rewards. Connecting within will help you realize these missing bits of your life that can have a profoundly positive impact.

Begin to listen to your inner voices, those aspects of you that may feel neglected. The artist, the writer, the reader, the contemplative. Modern society has most of us conditioned to keep moving, we are sold the idea that stopping for an inner break costs too much time and money. Saadi of Shiraz one of the major Persian poets and influential literary men of the medieval period wrote: 

Things that come easy don’t last long

In China it took forty years to make a porcelain bowl,

while a hundred a day pour out of a kiln in Baghdad.

Which is worth more?

A chick fresh out of the egg pecks its own food,

while an infant remains helpless for many years.

The first never raises its gaze from the ground,

while the second can find stars and galaxies within.

In other words, exploring your values in your inner life takes time; there is no app to click or short cut, which is why we often call life a journey. By checking in, you see how your navigation is going. Have you gotten off course or has your desired destination changed, altered with the wisdom of time? Similar to a marriage or relationship with a partner, to keep it healthy you need to hear one another. It is the same with the self.

How then do you go about connecting within? How do we practice presence from that heart space all of us have? One simple suggestion is to carve out time for stillness. Rather than pile more on your daily to do list, take something off and replace it with meditation. If you are allergic to the word meditation, you can talk a walk, without your headphones. Or if you live in the city, walk with quiet lulling thoughtful music that beckons your inner thoughts. Listen a little less to news. A fifteen-minute reflection can refuel your commitment to living a life that you yearn for rather than feeling as though your destiny is in the hands of others. Read reflective books and let the works marinate into your psyche. We often over expose ourselves to harsh corrosive stimuli, how about swapping that out for books, podcasts or CD’s that support our inner growth?

As 2017 evolves, give yourself the gift of time. Time for inner perspective to hug that person waving from the vista of your true self and enjoy the delightful discoveries that shape your life’s happiness and purpose.

 


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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How to Shift Your Unconscious Beliefs and Create the Life You Want

redwoodsLife is hard. I should have achieved more by this time in my life. People will take advantage of me if I let them. I can’t do anything right. Are any of these thoughts yours? If so, and you find them coming up regularly, it’s possible you have beliefs that are sabotaging your efforts to create the life you desire. Often, we aren’t aware of these beliefs because they have been our “truths” from a very young age.

The good news is that we have the ability to change those beliefs that are undermining our goals and dreams. The first step is to identify them.

Call to mind (or better yet, write down) your thoughts regarding money, spirituality, relationships, career, and family. This will allow you to uncover your core beliefs. Although you may not remember when or how you adopted these beliefs—which most often happen in childhood—the important thing is to gain awareness of what they are. Once you have, you can determine if these beliefs are supportive or sabotaging.

Let’s say one of your beliefs about career is that the only way to advance or get the position you want is by working very hard and working long hours. It doesn’t seem like a self-sabotaging belief; in fact, it seems like a noble one! However, if this is the only way you believe you can achieve the ultimate job, can you see how this “truth” might set you up for either burnout or the inability to reach your career goals? Instead, what if your belief was that you have a successful career when you are passionate about what you do? The focus shifts from expecting hardship and inconvenience to that of fulfillment and gratification from what you do. If you are passionate about your job, you will put in the effort and time required, and although the work may still end up being challenging and time-intensive, you will experience more enjoyment, satisfaction, and positive results.

Think about your perception of the world around you. What are your thoughts when something doesn’t go your way? Is it this? “Life is unfair. Nothing ever works out for me.” What if it you shifted your thoughts to this? “Life is an adventure, it is interesting. It has its ups and downs and I choose to learn and grow from both. I am fascinated with being able to see and experience all that is happening.” 

You can choose how you interpret what you see and experience, and you can manage your expectations of life. You can focus on the positive or negative in life. Wherever you place your focus, it feeds and grows. Concentrating upon the positive doesn’t mean ignoring the negative but rather dealing with it in a positive, constructive way. Will you choose to see the world for its good or will you choose to see the negative?

Identify beliefs that do not serve you, and then either let them go and adopt new beliefs, or reframe negative beliefs into supportive ones. Doing this important exercise will help you achieve the life you dream of and would like to create for yourself.

 


Emotional Infidelity – What is it? Is it in YOUR Life?

Many people think that infidelity is only sexual. The #1 form of infidelity is Emotional Infidelity. It usually stems out of feeling that something is missing in your relationship. You may feel disconnected from your partner. What is best is to talk to your partner about feeling disconnected. If you cannot talk to your partner than seek the help of a couples/marriage counselor.

How do you know if you are emotionally cheating?

  • Ask yourself: If my partner were sitting next to me would I be uncomfortable doing this? If your answer is yes, it is a clue for you.
  • You flirt with him/her.
  • Perhaps you dress in a way that might attract the person’s attention.
  • When something happens in your life you share it with her/him rather than your partner.
  • You feel excited when you see the person and look forward to seeing them more than you do your partner.
  • You have relationship fantasies about that person.
  • You find yourself sharing problems you are having at home with that person, rather than your partner.

I recall a man I worked with who was so proud that he had not had sex with his female work friend until after he and his wife had separated. He had been receiving emotional support from his work friend for over 1 year and this is what led to his wife leaving him. He had no idea that he had been emotionally unfaithful in his marriage. Nor did he get that he was cheating on his wife.

Emotional Infidelity is quite common and very difficult for couples to fully address on their own as often the partner that is cheating does not know he/she is cheating.


How do I get close without getting lost while in a committed relationship?

Ever wonder how to know if you are being intrusive? It is much easier to get when someone else is being intrusive. Sometimes that can be confusing as well.

When we are in a committed relationship our confusion with boundaries becomes most evident. It can be quite confusing. Is it okay if I tell my partner what I think? Will I be invading their space? How come I get upset when my partner tells me what he/she thinks? If I want something done a certain way am I invading my partner’s boundaries? These questions can go on and on. Understanding our own boundaries is quite complex and worth the effort.

I have noticed that all working relationships have some degree of haze surrounding the boundaries of the persons within it. Relationships are alive and the people in them often overlap in order to achieve comfortable levels of intimacy. Relationships take on a life of their own separate and apart from the I or the you.

The question many of us ask, is how can I tell if I am getting lost within the life of my relationship? And yet some of us do keep our sense of self and do not get lost in the forest of our relationship. While others forget to leave breadcrumbs when they go into a relationship and so they get lost.

What prevents us from maintaining our identity in a relationship? Perhaps we did not have a clear sense of self when we went into a relationship and so the relationship became whom we are. It is possible to lose your sense of self-while in relationship if you are trying to accommodate the other person.

It may be time for you to look for your I.

In all relationships there is some melding of identity. Understanding and knowing your own boundaries will allow you to know yourself and who your partner is with clarity.


Peace, Happiness, You, I, Us…

The elusive desire for happiness often leads to consuming as much as possible. To have the biggest house, not just one but as many as we can afford to buy and furnish. To have the most expensive cars, clothing jewelry. We often think that the more we own, the bigger it is, the more expensive it is, the happier we will be. So why then are so many people, who have all that they thought they wanted unhappy? We thought if only we had one more room on our house or just one more bathroom, everything would be great. If only I earned a little more money? Perhaps if I lived in another city or country?

The void that we as humans feel cannot be filled by ‘things’. As corny as it sounds and it does to some degree sound corny to me, John Lennon, Rumi and many others may have been correct in that love is the answer.

We strive to be the best at everything and pass this down to our children. While pregnant, before our potential children have taken their 1st breath, we are competing for them to be in the best pre-schools. To be the best, to own the most, and still those that do, are not happy. So what are we doing wrong?

Rumi the 13th century poet said: “There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?”

The void is part of who we as humans are. What I come across over and over again are people who are in search of meaning. Wishing to understand one’s purpose on earth; to achieve something that will make us think we have fulfilled a purpose. To fill the emptiness of not knowing, not understanding so much about how we came to be here and why, we turn to religions, consuming, gambling, drugs, over-eating; all in an attempt to fill the void of our not ‘knowing’ how to just be. To breathe in and smile with the exhale, to live in a house that serves our needs rather than our ego’s, with an Eco-friendly car.

Allowing ourselves to stop feeling and acting greedy, to live with what we actually need rather than feeding our ego’s and the illusion that we can fill the void by consuming. The void can only be filled with love. By letting go of greed we will and can develop compassion and empathy for others. That homeless person on the street, whom we just drove or walked by; perhaps we can share with him/her a bit of our abundance. To share, to think in terms of the ‘us’ rather than the ‘I’. Carl Jung, speaks of the collective unconscious and many people believe this happens after one dies. I think it can happen while we are alive…it is about the ‘us’. Peace within and without is possible when we fill the void with love.


Divorce ?

When we marry most of us believe it really is for the rest of our lives. We often create a combined life as well as individual life. It is the combined life however that usually has the priority in marriage. Separating from our life partner is painful; feelings of anger, abandonment and yes relief may also be present. There is no escaping your feelings, whatever they are.

I have seen some people avoid their feelings by dating constantly or drinking or drugging. I have seen others plummet into despair for periods of time. It is natural to miss the warmth, friendship, financial security, and sex you had or hoped you would have.

If you have children parenting becomes much more challenging as your role does change and the frequency that you will spend time with your children will change as well. Questions like when do I introduce my children to the person I am dating will arise and possibly cause you anxiety, as there is no ‘right’ answer, only better ones.

Divorce is often one of life’s most stressful experiences. I refer to divorce as a mini-death. In some ways it is more challenging than a ‘real’ death in that the person you have separated from, possibly feel abandoned by, is alive. If you have had children together you will be seeing your X for the rest of your life. This for many is re-wounding, especially if you are unable to forgive yourself and you’re X for the divorce. It is common for both parties to have feelings of failure regardless of who initiated the divorce.

On the positvite side, a divorce can be a time of discoving yourself again, creating new relationships, learning and growing. In order to move forward taking responsibility for your part in the divorce rather than blaming your X for it is paramount. As well as, allowing yourself to grieve your loss and honor your feelings. Then you will be in a space to grow into your new life, the one you will create out of joy. The life you used to dream about having when you were married and unhappy but always thought you could not create it.