Introverts

 

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“Susan Cain illustrates how today’s world has created an Extrovert culture; the ideal is to be sociable, loud, bold, and it is so because it resonates with how most of our interactions are nowadays. We are bold and loud all day on our social media; the corporate environment favors the “golden boy/girl”, who wins over investments with daring ideas and a charming personality.

But what about the other side of the spectrum? What about introverts? The people who choose a quiet evening at home instead of a large social gathering can obviously be equally capable, strong and successful. So, what does it mean to be an introvert? It’s not the stereotypical notion of the shut-in, that is for sure.

Below are 14 things about being an introvert that can help you understand what it means to be one (or you can experience a moment of recognition if you are, like the writer of this article, an introvert herself):

1. An introverted person can function better when working alone, than when working in a team. It’s not about being a “team player”, it’s about what can help them produce the best possible result. And working in a team, well…it’s is distracting.

2. Being quiet does not mean “having nothing to say”. It means that one simply enjoys being quiet. As an introvert, I find some of my most satisfying moments when I am in a gathering and observe people talk, without saying something myself. Why don’t you speak? Because I am perfectly content introvertabsorbing the stimuli of my surroundings without producing any of my own.

3. Going out in a coffee shop with your book, work, or music, and enjoying that perfect little state between sociability, but without interaction, is very, very satisfying.

4. Introverts choose who they connect with very carefully. And when that connection has been made, it runs deep. Some people can be all depth, instead of breadth. And that is perfectly okay.

5. Rainy days at home are blessings. Period.

6. A trip alone to a foreign country or another city is not scary. It’s an adventure, and not having anyone meddling with your planning is pretty liberating. The lone wolf does survive (if you got my reference, you are awesome).

7. You can never comprehend how some people can spend the entirety of their day together, even fresh lovers in their honeymoon phase. Space is healthy. Silence is necessary.

8. Time alone means time for introspection. While many people avoid looking at their problems, letting them fester and become toxic for them, an introvert can take the time to listen to themselves and perhaps find solutions.

9. Being the observer in a group can actually be very beneficial. It gives one more chances of operating in a behind-the-scenes way.

10. Similarly, the observation of people can lead to better understanding them, which can make an introvert a very likeable person. Everyone wants an understanding confident who lets them speak out for a change, in a world where everyone has an opinion that can, unfortunately, be pushed on to you.

11. Spending less time socializing means coming up with so many more things to occupy your time! There is always a book to read, or a movie to watch, or a language to learn, or some volunteer work you can do, and so on. An introvert can see adventure in the most ordinary settings.

12. That moment when you finally come home after a large party is like the first breath of air in a long time, and a great relief.

13. It can be funny, interesting, and a little bit sad when people get surprised that you have so many interests and hobbies. “Oh my god, I had no idea you did so much!” I mean, it’s not like I sit and stare at my ceiling when I am not with people. But your surprise entertains me.

14. Socializing can be draining, but an introvert can love spending time with an extrovert. Opposites do attract, and one fulfills the other. There are things an introvert cannot do without an extrovert, and vice versa.

To sum up, being an introvert is a great thing. Being an extrovert is also a great thing. The greatness lies within the fact that we hopefully live in a world where people can just be themselves. Being clever and successful is not about learning to separate the more capable (read: sociable) ones from the less capable ones. It’s about fully utilizing every resource, and more often than not, an introvert might just be the ace up society’s sleeve.

Embrace introverts, whether it is the one hiding inside you or someone in your circle.”

 

Introvert3 Susan Cain

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Are you a Compassionate Person?

8 Ways To Tell if You’re A Truly Compassionate Person

on 21 July, 2014 at 22:44

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“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -Dalai Lama

His remarks capture a simple truth: Despite popular belief that happiness depends solely on you, the way to achieve it may not lie just within yourself, but in your relationships and interactions with others.

“When we have feelings of caring or love for other people, we feel better,” clinical psychologist Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., tells The Huffington Post. “We all think we want to be loved, but what actually feels good to us is feeling loving – and part of what makes us feel more love for other people is doing kind, compassionate things for them.”

The good news is, if you don’t normally identify as someone who is overly empathetic, studies show it’s a habit that can be cultivated. So how can you tell if you are or not?

Below, find eight signs you’re a truly compassionate person.

You find commonalities with other people.

Compassionate people know what it’s like to be down on their luck, and they keep those experiences in mind to develop a more empathetic nature, whether through volunteering or just simply networking. “Compassionate people are very outward-focused because they think and feel about other people,” Firestone says. “They have that ability to feel others’ feelings, so they’re very socially connected.”

And turns out, there’s science behind why we feel compassion toward people who have been in our same boat. In one small study, researchers found that humans’ sense of compassion actually increases when there’s a common connection with the other person. “What these results suggest is that the compassion we feel for others is not solely a function of what befalls them: if our minds draw an association between a victim and ourselves — even a relatively trivial one — the compassion we feel for his or her suffering is amplified greatly,” study researcher and Northeastern University psychology professor David DeSteno, Ph.D., wrote in The New York Times.

You don’t put emphasis on money.

If money doesn’t buy happiness, then according to studies from the University of California, Berkeley, it doesn’t buy compassion, either. In one study, researchers found that as someone grew in social class, his or her compassion for others declined. The findings support previous research that showed that a higher social class also negatively influences a person’s ability to pay attention in interactions wither other people, Scientific American reported.

You act on your empathy.

Firestone says a major component of compassion is giving back, even in the smallest ways. “When we take actions that are caring and loving, we feel more love in return,” she explains. This is why compassionate people act on their kindness, whether it’s through volunteering or just being a shoulder to lean on — and overall they’re much happier for it. “If you’re going after happiness, you don’t get as happy as you would if you’re going after generosity,” she says. “A hedonistic way of pursuing happiness really doesn’t work for most people.”

You’re kind to yourself.

“Self-compassion is actually really, really key to becoming a more compassionate person overall,” Firestone explains. “It’s hard to feel for other people something we don’t feel for ourselves.”

Practicing self-love is a little different than self-esteem, is also crucial to beating bad habits in other aspects of our lives. “We often think the way to change bad behaviors is to beat ourselves up, But self-compassion is actually the first step in changing any behavior you want to change.” And there’s science to back it up: According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, those who practice self-compassion are more motivated to improve themselves and go for their goals.

You teach others.

Compassionate people don’t want to just keep their gifts to themselves, they want to impart their knowledge onto other people. As motivational speaker and author Jen Groover notes, it’s this desire that lies in the root of all empathetic habits. “True compassion exists when you give your strength, guidance and wisdom to empower another so that you can see who you really are and live in a greater capacity and expect nothing in return,” she wrote. “True grace exists when the ‘teachers’ realize that the gift was really theirs — to be able to teach another.”

You’re mindful.

meditationWhen you’re exercising compassion, you’re putting yourself in the moment. Compassionate people aren’t listening and checking their smartphones at the same time — they’re present, offering their empathetic response to the story right in front of them.

This awareness is crucial to compassion because it allows you to really focus on others rather than your own reflections. “Mindfulness allows us to develop a different relationship to our feelings,” Firestone explains. “Feelings or thoughts may come up, but with mindfulness we can sort of see them as clouds floating by. Not getting caught up in our thoughts is really helpful.”

You have high emotional intelligence.

Individuals who are tapped into their own compassion also seem to be tapped into their own emotions. “It’s partly … being able to see what’s going on in your mind and other people’s minds,” Firestone explains. “I think when we can do that we have more compassion toward other people.”

When you’re emotionally intelligent, you also have a greater sense of morality and you genuinely try to help others – which are all crucial components of empathy. Compassionate people “understand that other people have a sovereign mind that sees the world differently than you do — and one isn’t right and one isn’t wrong,” Firestone says.

You express gratitude.

“Doing things that light us up and make us feel good — people think of that as being selfish, but often that leads us to better behavior toward other people,” Firestone says. One way to do that is to count the positives.

Whether or not you’ve committed a lot of compassionate acts in your life, chances are you’ve been on the receiving end at least once or twice. Empathetic individuals not only acknowledge those acts of kindness done unto them, they actively express gratitude for them. “Just thinking about our gratitude for other people makes us feel happy,” Firestone says. “And it’s slowing down and expressing those types of things that makes us more caring and loving.”

-The Mind Unleashed

7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up

From time to time, we all get a little down, maybe even a little depressed. Maybe we are feeling overwhelmed, or feel bad because we’re not doing well with our goals. There are many reasons for feeling down, and I’m not qualified to discuss all of them, their implications, or clinical treatment. What I can talk about are some things that have worked for me.

Feeling a little depressed can interfere with achieving our goals. We know we should be doing something, but we just don’t feel like doing anything. This can last for a long time if you don’t head it off as soon as possible and take action. Here are some of the things that work best for me:

 

Make a list. Sometimes we are depressed simply because we are overwhelmed with all the things we have to do that we haven’t gotten around to doing.So all the “stuff” that’s in our head can overwhelm us. Start simply by picking up a piece of paper and a pen, and making a list of the most pressing things you have to do. Sometimes it’s work stuff, sometimes it’s stuff around the house that’s bothering us, sometimes it’s goal tasks, or a combination of these and more. Simply making a list can be a big relief — you’re getting things under control. You can see, right in front of you, what you need to do, and that alone can pick up your mood.

Take action. You’ve made a list, and you still feel overwhelmed? Well, get started on the first thing you need to do. Is it a big task? Break it down and just do the smallest task, something just to get you started. Once you get started, once you get into action, you’ll feel better. Trust me. You might still feel overwhelmed, but at least you’re doing something. And once you start doing something, you’ve got momentum, and that feels much better than lying around feeling sorry for yourself.

Exercise. I know, you might not be in the mood for exercise. But just do it! Taking a walk, going for a run, going to the gym, whatever it is you do for exercise — get out and do it now! You don’t need to do a real hard workout, but the simple act of exercise can lift your mood immediately. Just do it! For me, Running is the best therapy. Crank up that music and jog or run somewhere, take in the fresh air and collect your thoughts. You’ll be glad you did it.

Shower and groom yourself. Laying around in your underwear, smelling bad, is not going to do you any good. Simply showering, and feeling clean, can do wonders for your mood. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, shave, do whatever it is that you need to do to feel clean and good about yourself. Instant pick me up!

Get out of the house and do something. Sometimes, if you stay home lying around, feeling depressed, just getting out (after showering and grooming) will change your mood. Staying home all the time can really get you down, and you may not realize this until you go out and do something. Preferably something on your list.

Play some lively music. I like my personal chill playlist (Andrew Belle, The xx, Nosaj Thing) or folk, folk-indie, electronica, and some pop, but you might have your own brand of feel-good music. Whatever it is, crank it up, and let yourself move to the beat. It may just be what the doctor ordered. Dance around in your underwear if you are too lazy to shower. 😛

Talk about it. Got a significant other, best friend, family member, co-worker you can talk to? Bend their ear. That’s what they’re their for. If you don’t, there are hotlines, or professionals, you can talk to. And then there’s always online forums. These are great places to find someone to talk to. Getting things off your chest makes a big difference, and can be a huge lift. It can also help you work out the reasons you’re feeling down.

– Kayla Fae Anderson

Finding Love – Article

If You Can’t Find A Good Partner, You’re Probably Making This Mistake

There’s a huge mistake that many people make when it comes to finding love. In this article, I’m going to tell you what that mistake is, and how to change it so you can attract the relationship you want.

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to finding love is: They believe a relationship is going to complete them.

What I mean is: You think something’s missing in your life, and another person will make that feeling go away.

You think that a relationship is the key to you being happy.

If you think this way (even just a little bit), I’m sorry to tell you that this is not the case. In fact, this mindset is sabotaging your experience in love. Here’s why:

1. Other people can feel it when you have anxiety about finding love.

Any time you approach a relationship from a sense of emptiness inside — like something is missing and you’re trying to fill a hole — it will be sensed by the people you’re dating. And it won’t feel good to them.

When you’re confident, your vibe goes something like this:”It’s nice to meet you, and we’ll see if I want to continue spending time with you.”Cool, calm, collected, and probably pretty intriguing.

But when you have that underlying feeling of needing to find a relationship, your entire vibe changes. It feels more like this: “Do you like me?”

Energetically, it’s not attractive. In fact, it has the opposite effect on people; it repels them away. And this is a big problem if you’re looking for love.

2. You attract experiences that match how you’re feeling on the inside.

If you feel like something’s missing in your life, then your experience will bring you proof that this perception is true.

For example, if you’re preoccupied with finding a partner and hyper-focused on not having one, you’ll continue to see the same results of not having a partner. The experience will appear in two specific ways: You’ll either remain single, or find a relationship that keeps you unfulfilled.

That’s probably not the outcome you’re looking for if you desire a loving partnership.

So, knowing all this, what can you do about it? How can you change to feel more secure, at ease, present and confident when you’re looking for love?

You start by searching for the feelings you think a relationship will bring you, inside yourself.

I know that at first you might be skeptical — you may think it’s impossible to feel connected, loved, held and taken care of without a partner. But I promise you that you can.

The most beautiful thing about this process is that once you find these feelings inside of you, you’ll be much more likely to find them in a relationship, too.

People tend overcomplicate this experience, which is referred to as self-love. And while the mind might have a hard time making sense of it, if you take a moment to drop into your heart, it will know exactly what I mean.

Self-love is simply a sense of finding peace, happiness, contentment, acceptance, and love inside of you.

It requires a quite mind, an open heart, and a connection to your inner voice.

You find self-love in a yoga practice.

You find self-love when you meditate.

You find self-love when you journal, go to therapy, and get to know yourself.

You find self-love by setting aside quite time to just be with you.

You have to feel good before you find a partner if you want the relationship to feel good, too.

By creating a practice of finding peace, strength, happiness, and fulfillment within, the sense of needing something outside of you to feel good will start to disappear. And when this happens, ironically, everything you’ve always wanted, including an incredible relationship, will make their way to you.

11 Ways to Live a Happier Life

11 Ways to Live a Happier Life, According to a Psychologist (Hint: These have nothing to do with money!)

on 26 July, 2014 at 08:42

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Happiness is something that we all strive for, yet many of us find it challenging to grasp and even harder to maintain. Especially during these difficult economic times, happiness can feel like it is hiding just behind next week’s paycheck, a new job, or a distant raise. However, as Dr. Robert Putnam of Harvard University recently pointed out, “money alone can buy you happiness, but not much.”(1) It appears that happiness has less to do with money than we might imagine, and more to do with the people around us, how we live our lives, the way spend our time, and how we perceive ourselves and understand our life experiences.

Based on the latest research in psychology and my experience as both a psychologist trying to understand happiness, and as a human being searching for my own happiness, here are 11 ways to live a happier life…that have nothing to do with money!

1) PRACTICE GRATITUDE

No matter where they are or what they are doing, happy people recognize that they always have something to be grateful for. Research in the field of Positive Psychology has shown that people who practice gratitude are happier, less stressed and less depressed!(2) Happy people can easily find gratitude in the world around them, whether they are looking at the cracks in the pavement in the concrete jungle or the sun setting over the ocean. It is possible to find gratitude even in smallest of things, like a delicious meal, a good book, a challenging yoga class, or a smile from a stranger on the street.

Each of us has a choice on how we focus our attention. Choosing to focus on gratitude for the beauty and uniqueness of life instead the stressors and problems will make you feel happier and more relaxed.

2) FIND A PLACE OF FLOW

In Positive Psychology, the concept of “Flow” is defined as the “complete immersion in activity for it’s own sake.”(3) When we are in flow, such as when we are running a race, writing a song, or reading a great book, our self-awareness dissipates, time seems to stop, and we become focused, peaceful, and attentive to the task at hand.  People who frequently experience flow tend to be happy, productive, creative and focused.

You can reach a state of flow by putting special attention to tasks that you find intrinsically rewarding and enjoyable. In other words, carve out some time to do what you LOVE! For more information about how to find your flow, explore Dr. Mikhal Csíkszentmihályi’s book, Finding Flow.(4)

3) SMILE MORE

If you are feeling down or having a rough day, it is possible to cheer yourself up by simply thinking of a person, place or situation that makes you smile! Indeed, research in psychology has shown that the physical act of smiling will make you feel happier, even if you are just flexing the muscles of your mouth and not intentionally smiling!(5)

While scientists are not yet completely certain why the simple of act of smiling makes you feel happy, it has been suggested that smiling contracts the facial muscles, leading to more blood flow to the brain’s frontal lobes, which in turn triggers release of dopamine, one of the pleasure chemicals in the brain.(6) So bust out the comedies and get your giggle on (or maybe let someone tickle you a little bit)!

4) EMBRACE YOUR MISTAKES

We are all perfectly imperfect in this human form, and it is only natural that we make mistakes (sometimes very often!) Living in denial about your mistakes or getting wrapped up in your ego will only you make you miserable and block you from learning valuable lessons that will help you grow and improve.

By embracing your mistakes, you will be able to forgive yourself, and the bonus is that other people might actually like you more! According to Dr. Eliot Aronson’s “Pratfall effect” in Social Psychology, making mistakes makes competent people seem more attractive, and more human to others.(7) Happy people seem to intuitively know this, embracing mistakes as learning experiences and not judging themselves too harshly.

5) MAINTAIN AN OPTIMISTIC ATTITUDE

Happy people tend to respond to negative events in a more optimistic manner than unhappy people. Positive psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman defines optimism as “reacting to problems with confidence and high personal ability,” specifically, recognizing that negative events are temporary and limited in scope.(2) Research has linked optimism with a plethora of positive outcomes including longevity, recovery from illness, overall physical health, enhanced coping skills and problem solving in difficult situations.

Overall, optimism is a central component of staying happy and healthy, so when in doubt, look on the bright side.

6) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE

Even though this life can sometimes feel like an individual journey, we need other people around us in order to feel happy. In fact, recent research has indicated that social relationships are the strongest predictors of happiness, much stronger than income or wealth.(1) For example, according to Robert Putnam’s groundbreaking study, making a good friend causes an increase of happiness equal to tripling ones salary, belonging to a social club is equivalent to doubling one’s salary, and so on.

The take home message here is that social support is a huge indicator of happiness and wellbeing. People with perceived positive social relationships even live longer!8 So be social, surround yourself with people who make you feel good, and release those who make you feel bad.

7) LEARN WHEN TO SAY “NO”

As psychologist Dr. Thema Davis so beautifully puts it, “saying yes to happiness means learning to say no to things and people that stress you out.”(9) Happy people know that they must say NO to people, ideas, and behaviors that do not serve their highest good. Saying yes to everyone and everything can lead you to feel overwhelmed, increase your stress, and leave you less time and resources to take care of yourself! This is especially true when you agree to do things that do not resonate with you, or allow yourself to be pressured into situations you are uncomfortable with.

The stress that results from feeling overwhelmed can severely dampen one’s happiness and well being. Before you commit to anything or anyone, ask yourself, does this serve my highest good? If the answers is no, then learn to say NO.

8) UNPLUG & SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE

Although it may feel natural after a lifetime of conditioning, human beings were not designed to spend our day hunched over a desk with electronics plugged into our ears and eyes. No, we are meant to be spending time outside, away from the buzz of technology, the radiation from cell-phones and the blaring of screens. Happy people understand that it is their human birthright to give themselves quiet time to reflect and find serenity. According to the July 2010 Harvard Health Letter, time outdoors in nature has been linked to happiness because light elevates people’s moods, as does vitamin D, a byproduct of spending time outside.(10)

If you really want to maximize the benefits of outdoor time, spend time in green nature – even five minutes of “green exercise” can lead to improvements in mood and self-esteem, according to researchers at the University of Essex.(10) Even better, combine your outside time with meditation, yoga, or other therapeutic movement arts. There is a plethora of research demonstrating that all of these will further enhance your mood and overall wellbeing.

9) PRACTICE FORGIVENESS

This one can be challenging for the many of us who have been wronged and/or who have experienced traumas perpetrated by other people in our lives. But as my life partner, sound healer Jimmy Ohm always says, “forgiveness does not mean that what happened was ok, it just means you no longer want to carry the pain.”(11) When we hold on to anger, resentment and fear towards people, they are actually occupying a space inside of us, blocking us from feeling truly happy and fulfilled.

Dr. Fred Luskin of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project has found that forgiveness is a huge predictor of happiness and wellbeing, explaining how “forgiveness is the experience of peacefulness in the present moment.”(12) For more on his research, visit his website, Forgive For Good.(13)

10) TRY NEW THINGS

Happy people are not afraid to push their boundaries and try new things. Research by psychologist Dr. Rich Walker has shown that people who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions than people who have fewer experiences.(14) Sure it might seem scary at first, but what’s the worst that could happen? By going beyond your comfort zone, you might actually surprise yourself and exceed your own expectations for what you are capable of accomplishing. And hey if it doesn’t go as planned, at least you still tried, didn’t you?

As Dr. Alex Lickerman M.D. writes in Happiness in this World, trying something new requires courage, it opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new, it keeps you from becoming bored, and perhaps most importantly, it forces you to grow.(15) So what have you always wanted to try but you didn’t think you had the guts? What are you waiting for?

11) LOOK IN THE MIRROR EVERY MORNING AND SAY “I LOVE YOU!”

For many of us, self-love is the greatest challenge and blockage to happiness. Years of being told by family, educators and especially the media that we are not good enough, not successful enough, not attractive enough, not capable enough and so on has left many of us feeling beaten down and unworthy. The truth is that no matter who you are and what has happened in your life, YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE! Say it out loud to yourself until you believe it.

Psychologists have long known that self-esteem is intrinsically connected to happiness, but how does one build self-esteem? I believe we build self-esteem through practicing self-love and self-acceptance. One of the simplest things you can do is to look in the mirror every morning and say, “I love you!” For some, this may come easy, and for others, it may be extremely challenging. I know that at first I tried and tried to do this and I would break down in tears because I felt so unworthy. Eventually through practicing daily mantras of self-love and self-acceptance, I was able to learn to love myself. And while the path to unconditional self-love is a life-long journey and not a destination, today I feel happier than I have ever felt. ☺ I hope that these happiness tips will help guide you on your journey as much as they have helped me on mine. Namaste.

Thoughts, Success and Happiness

Positive Thoughts For Success And Happiness

 

Many of us go through our life feeling like our success and happiness are out of our control. We often believe that when bad things happen to us, there is nothing we can do to prevent them from occurring. Some of us also believe that we can’t change our destiny and therefore we should just accept what we have since we can’t do anything about it. It is true that there are times when we can’t control what will manifest in front of us. However, if we learn how to use our thoughts wisely, we can reduce or turn many bad experiences into good experiences.

What are thoughts?

Thoughts are attributes of consciousness or energy. Thoughts have the potential to think, which is why we have the ability to think. When we look at thought from the perspective of the external Creation, it is a thing that takes up no space. The main difference between thoughts and manifested things is the hierarchical change in frequency of the consciousness of the observer (you). As manifested things move farther away from the original thought, they become less “real.”

Thought is the energy “substance” that acts like a focusing and filtering device, allowing consciousness to manifest itself into holograms. In other words, it is the energy that is used by Creation to focus everything into existence. Without this thought to focus everything into existence, matter would simply vanish into thin air.

Since thought has the potential to create our reality, if we learn how to use it wisely, it will help us find happiness easier. It is important to know that at our current level of evolution, the power of our thoughts is nowhere as strong as the pure thoughts of Creation; therefore, we can’t rely only on our thoughts to help us achieve success or find happiness. We also need to take appropriate actions to support our goals and desires.

Positive thoughts, success and happiness

We have all heard the expression “you are what you eat,” but have you ever heard the concept of “you are what you think?” New scientific research is beginning to reveal just how powerful and real our thoughts can be. Not only are our positive and negative thoughts cause the release of actual chemicals that rush throughout our bodies, but the way we think can actually help manifest things, for better or worse, in our everyday lives. Thus, being happy is mostly a matter of choice. However, there are times when our choices don’t lead to happy experiences, but luckily these negative situations don’t often happen a lot.

 

Think about it this way for starters. When you are constantly thinking bad thoughts, your body will react in a negative way by overproducing certain anti-stress chemicals, such as cortisol. Too much of these chemicals can negatively affect your energy and actually cause harm to your body. Conversely, thinking positively can dramatically reduce those negative effects, giving you more energy to help you achieve your goals and improve your relationships. Ultimately, these things help give you confidence and purpose in life, which are essential for being happy and successful.

Here are a few tips for keeping a positive outlook and taking control of your happiness:

  1. Practice self-awareness: Our minds tend to take on a life of their own and can sometimes go off track with negative thinking. Rather than immediately indulge this line of thinking, take a step back and observe your mind. Ask yourself – is my state of mind negative or positive? Simply by identifying your state, you can begin to self-correct.
  2. Be grateful: Sure, it is easy to pinpoint the things that irritate us, but what if you turn this on its head and take a few minutes each day to focus on the things you love about your life. The key is to train your mind to be more aware of the good things in your life, so that you don’t take them for granted. As for the negative things, be aware that they are there to teach you lessons, but don’t think about them so much that they end up consuming you.
  3. Play and laugh: Whoever said being playful is just for kids? It doesn’t have to be. In this day and age, we are constantly squeezing meetings, chores and errands into our day, so why not carve out some time to play to release some stress? Studies have showed that play and laughter are huge contributors to health and happiness. So take some time off your busy schedule, so that you can enjoy the magic of nature and life by doing something you love to do. By doing this, your mind will generate more positive thoughts, which are important for success and happiness.

 

Spending Time Alone

Why and How You Can Benefit from Spending Time Alone

spending time alone

“Man is a social creature. However, that does not mean that man is at all times obligated to be surrounded by hordes of friends and acquaintances. That is a little golden rule that applies not only to introverts, but to everyone. There are benefits in spending some time alone with oneself, and there are plenty of ways to reap those benefits and use them to your advantage.

Through spending time alone and away from the buzzing of the crowd, one can find some inner peace, solve and examine their personal issues and troubles, and work on bettering themselves, work on their personal well being and relaxation. In short, time alone may very well lead you to the peace of mind we all so desperately seek. Here is how:

Benefit #1

When you are on the go all day, your mind is not still, either. You attention is always focused on the myriads of little things that need to be taken care of and the dozens of people that seek your assistance, consult, advice or help. And your mind toils and strives toward satisfying all those loose ends. But is there any time or focus on you? Sometimes, don’t you just wish for a break, for a second in which you can take a breath, stand still and enjoy the quiet? Time alone throughout the day, in small segments, can help you keep your balance, and most importantly, your sanity. Balance is what keeps us going, after all, so don’t be afraid to shut the door for a few minutes throughout the day and breathe. In those minutes, thinking is not a necessity.

Benefit #2

In that spirit, it becomes obvious how time alone is essential for your brain to effectively shut itself down, empty out all the thoughts that whirl inside of it day by day, hour by hour, and recharge itself in order to keep working. The brain can overload and develop faults, if one overworks it.

Benefit #3

It goes without saying that turning spending some time alone into a habit will help you tremendously in organizing your time and day. That way, you can examine the issues and projects at hand, see what needs what, and act accordingly. At the same time, you’ll be able to communicate with yourself; listen to your mind and your body, and take care of your needs. You can’t let your life pass by without you having no say in it because you have been too busy. It is your life, and you need to be able to control the aspects of it that drain or trouble you.

Benefit #4

Finally, here is another important reason why you need some alone time: because it will help you learn how to be alone. Nowadays, one of the most common causes of anxiety is the fear of being alone, leading to excessive socializing and somewhat degrading the true value of it.

There is a social misconception that someone who goes out in movies or coffee houses on their own is somehow a “loner”, or a “creep”, or just plain boring. Wrong. There is nothing wrong with doing activities by oneself. When watching a film alone, you have time later to think about it and absorb it into your being. When going to a coffee shop, you prove to yourself that you can do things by yourself. You learn to be independent, and you learn to be autonomous in mind. And you learn that solitude can be one of the little pleasures in life. So, enjoy yourself, go have that cup of coffee, go see that movie. Take a break.”

Over-Thinking

8 Ways to Stop Over-Thinking and Find Peace in the Present Moment

on 9 September, 2014 at 05:05

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We all do our best to stay positive, but occasionally we can slip into negative thinking patterns that can wreak havoc on our lives. We might worry about our past mistakes or current stresses, and how these could lead to negative outcomes in the future. We might obsess about or over-analyze regular experiences and interactions, reading into them things that aren’t actually there. We might find that as soon as one bad thing happens, we associate it with all the other bad things that have happened in our lives and begin to feel miserable. We might feel anxious in the present, having a hard time getting out of our own heads as we worry and obsess about the things that could go wrong.If you find yourself in this place frequently, you are what psychologists call a ruminator, or, an over-thinker, and this way of thinking can be harmful to your health. Psychologists have found that over-thinking can be detrimental to human performance, and can lead to anxiety and depression, especially in women, who are much more likely than men to ruminate on stress and disappointments than men.

As a psychologist and recovering over-thinker myself, I have a lot of compassion for people who end up in these spiraling negative thought patterns. Many over-thinkers are lovely, intelligent, nurturing people who value relationships and care deeply for the people in their lives. Unfortunately, they often push away the very people that they are worrying about or seeking support and reassurance from, because they can become obsessive, anxious, depressed, negative and difficult to be around. This is not a switch in the brain that can be easily flipped off, but rather, a pattern from which it requires dedication and work to recover. Based on research in psychology and my personal experiences, here is my advice for how to stop over-thinking and find peace in the present moment:

1) Accept that You Have a Problem with Over-Thinking.

The first step to healing is acknowledging that you have a problem. If you feel like you can’t get out of your own head and over-thinking is stopping you from living a happy life, making decisions, getting things done, or forming meaningful relationships, then you have a problem. If you find yourself spiraling into negativity and depression when a bad thing happens, you have a problem. If your anxiety about the future is stopping you from enjoying the present, you have a problem. Burying your head in the sand or denying this reality will only make the situation worse. If you are not sure if you have a problem, ask your friends and loved ones to be honest with you, because they are usually the ones who will see it even if you cannot.

2) Forgive Yourself: Our Brains are Hardwired This Way

Once you can admit that you are an over-thinker, forgive yourself, because the brain is actually wired to make over-thinking a natural tendency. According to Psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, the leading expert in this field, “the organization of our brains sets us up for over-thinking” because our thoughts and memories are intrinsically woven together, not compartmentalized. So when stressors are triggered or you get into a bad mood, it can unlock a ‘cascade’ of racing negative thoughts that have nothing to do with the original trigger for the bad mood. Nolen-Hoeksema gives the example of “when poor job performance causes you to think about your aunt who died last year.”

Furthermore, when something bad happens or someone is feeling negative, they are more likely to think negative things and also see connections (that may not actually exist) between all the bad events that have happened in their lives. The more frequently this happens, the more likely the individual is to engage in this over-thinking pattern in the future.

While the brain might be wired to make these associations, once you become aware you can begin to solve the problem.

3) Breathe More

If our brains are wired in this ‘interconnected spider web’ where one bad event can trigger a tidal wave of negative thought associations, how can we break this pattern?

The first and easiest thing you can do is BREATHE. Breathing will relax you, calm you, connect you to the present moment, and ground you to Mother Earth. It sounds so simple but often when our mind starts to race to bad places, we become manic and frantic when what we need to do is relax the body and mind.

The breathing technique that works for me involves lying down and taking a two-second long deep inhalation in through the nose, followed by a four-second long exhalation out through the mouth. This breathing pattern increases the CO2 in the bloodstream, which can relax the body and calm the adrenal system’s response to the obsessive thoughts. Do this for 10 minutes or until the excessive thinking slows down.

4) Talk Less

So many over-thinkers, especially those of us of the female persuasion, can’t help but want to ‘talk it out’ when we are feeling stressed and worried. While talking about the worries can sometimes help, it usually will make things worse, especially if the person you are talking to is also an over-thinker, and you spend the entire time over-analyzing and dissecting every detail of every negative problem in your lives. You might end up working yourself up into a frenzy of negativity and feeling even more upset after the conversation.

This type of co-rumination, where two ruminators get together to over-think about their lives together, can lead both people deeper into negativity and stress. For example, research has uncovered an association between co-rumination amongst female friends and increases in the stress hormone cortisol.

If you really feel the need to express your issues, you can always write them down, to clear them out of your mind and realize that your concerns might sound silly when you read them back to yourself. This type of free-association journaling has been incredibly beneficial for me.

5) Get Physical and Get Busy

What should you do instead of talking? Well, you already know to breathe to calm the body and mind, but sometimes you just want to let the energy out! In this case it can be incredibly beneficial to do something physical, whether it is going for a brisk walk, playing with a pet or children, doing yoga, playing sports, swimming, or running. Activities that are both mentally and physically engrossing are the best, because they require enough absorption to pull you out of obsessive thinking patterns and into a state of flow.

In addition to physical exercises, engrossing activities that stimulate the brain can also be effective for redirecting obsessive thought patterns. Playing cards, learning a language, or playing all different types of games can be great diversions or interrupters of these thoughts. Or you could always learn a new hobby, make art, draw, paint or take up crafting, such as making jewelry, clothes, dream catchers, hair extensions, really anything, You might actually discover a hidden talent you never knew you had, or be able to start a new career or meet new people as a result.

6) Practice Mindfulness

One of the big things that over-thinkers struggle with is the ability to live in the present moment. So consumed by the failures of the past and the worries over the future, the present moment does not get the attention and love it deserves. Lao Tzu said that “if you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, and if you are at peace you are living in the present.” So how can we live in peace in the present moment?

Well, we have already discussed some of the strategies that can help you quiet the mind and ground yourself to present moment, including breathing, talking less, getting physical and doing other activities that help redirect attention and bring the mind into flow. But one of the best things you can possibly do is practice mindfulness, a form of meditation where you focus on the present moment without judgment. As the obsessive, worrying thoughts come in, you acknowledge them, and then let them go, energetically releasing them and clearing your space. I strongly recommend learning mindful meditation techniques such as Transcendental Meditation, or if you are having trouble doing it yourself, seeking counseling from someone who practices Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

7)   Surrender to the Universe

When we worry, we are essentially hoping to control the flow of life because we are attached to the outcome of a situation. We want things to happen a certain way, and we are terrified that things could go wrong or that bad things could happen. In reality, we have little to no control over the unfolding of events in life, at least not from the conscious standpoint that our worrying will directly impact the outcome in the way we want. So, we can worry and obsess, or we can accept all that IS and let go of our attachment to the outcomes. The universe is way older and wiser than us, and instead of obsessively worrying, we can let go of control and with love and trust, surrender to the universe.

Surrender does not mean giving up; It just means you are willing to go with the flow of the current, instead of trying to swim against it and getting repeatedly bashed into the rocks. Surrender is a form of release and a form of peace, because it means you are willing to trust that everything will work out as it is supposed to: Trust that everything happens in its proper time and place and you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Even the concept of worrying about ‘good’ or ‘bad’ outcomes is flawed from this perspective and nothing more than a symptom of duality, which is only an illusion. As you zoom out to the grand scheme of the universe, there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – it is all ONE, two sides of the same coin.

8)   Remember, Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Even though I just said that ‘we have no control over the unfolding of events in life,’ and this is true at least from the part of the conscious mind and its ability to dictate events, our thoughts do energetically shape and create our reality over time. Like attracts like, and so the more you worry about something, the more you will begin to attract exactly the energy you are worried about! If you still haven’t seen the wonderful online series Spirit Science, I strongly recommend you view Episode 1, which does an excellent job explaining how our thoughts create our reality.

We must be mindful of our thoughts because our thoughts have power, more than we realize. If you obsessively fear losing your job, you are actually INCREASING the likelihood of getting fired, not decreasing it. Same if you are worrying about contracting a life-threatening disease or medical condition: The more energy you send in that direction, the more likely you are to unknowingly give permission to your body to manifest this condition.

Your thoughts and feelings will energetically create your life, which is why my life partner, sound healer Jimmy Ohm always says, “Worrying is a misuse of creative energy.” Do you want to create a happy life, living at peace in the momentt? If so, you have all of the tools to make this a reality by being mindful and present in your thoughts. You also have all of the tools to create a life of worry and negativity, if you continue to over-think and obsess about negative events. The choice is yours and I lovingly hope that you choose wisely. Blessings and Love!

12 Tips for Recovering from Emotional pain

By: Luminita D. Saviuc | Pain (any pain–emotional, physical, mental) has a message. The information it has about our life can be remarkably specific, but it usually falls into one of two categories: “We would be more alive if we did more of this,” and, “Life would be more lovely if we did less of that.” Once we get the pain’s message, and follow its advice, the pain goes away.” ~ Peter McWilliams

Have you noticed how afraid we all are of feeling any emotional pain? And how we would do anything in our power to avoid it? Nobody wants it. We all try to get rid of it. We all try to hide andrun away from it, and the irony is that the more we try to reject and resist it, the more intense it gets and the longer it stays with us.

We all have our ups and downs. We all experience emotional pain from time to time. But that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. It doesn’t mean we’re ‘broken’ or ‘defective’. On the contrary. It only shows that we are human. That we have feelings and emotions.

Today I would like to share with you 12 tips for recovering from emotional pain. So that you cancontinue living your life in peace and harmony and do the things you so much enjoy doing.

1. EMBRACE WITH GRACE ALL THAT YOU FACE.

“Everything you are against weakens you. Everything you are for empowers you.” ~ Wayne Dyer

Let go of any feelings of anger, disgust or frustration you might have towards yourself, your emotional pain and your current reality. Resist nothing. Embrace with grace all that you face. Surrender to what is. Accept what you’re going through. All your thoughts, feelings and frustrations. Accept your emotional pain as if you have chosen it.

2. GIVE YOURSELF TIME.

It takes time to drive out the darkness from our minds and our hearts. It takes time to accept the presence of emotional pain into our lives. So give yourself time. Time to rest, time to heal and time to fully recover. Be gentle with yourself and trust that everything happens exactly as it’s supposed to happen.

3. LET GO OF CONTROL.

“There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind; a time for being in motion, a time for being at rest; a time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted; a time for being safe, a time for being in danger. The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them. She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle.” ~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Please refrain yourself from making comments like: “I have been feeling like this for far too long. I should be fine by now.  Why does it take so long for this pain to be gone?” and so on. Allow things to follow their natural course. Allow yourself to heal at your own pace. Let go of the need to control the healing process. Let go of the need to speed up your recovery.

4. SUFFER CONSCIOUSLY.

Observe your emotional pain, your anguish and frustrations. Observe the constant stream of negative thoughts that run through your mind. The dreadful stories that keep feeding your pain, but choose not to identify yourself with them. See yourself as the one who’s observing all that emotional pain and all that discomfort. But don’t make the pain part of who you are. Don’t make it your person life story. Don’t claim it as your own.

“Suffering consciously is when you feel, sense and accept the suffering. It is not suffering anymore it is just pain. To be suffering you must have an unhappy me with a story and the world that is doing it to me.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

5. LOVE YOUR PAIN AWAY.

Nobody likes to be in the presence of pain. We all want to get rid of it. To run as far away from it as we possibly can. But there are times when pain demands our presence, our focus and attention. There are times when pain demands to be felt. So take the time to know your emotional pain. To nourish it, to understand it. Don’t curs your pain. Love your pain and it will go away.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King,

6. GIVE TIME, TIME.

“Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.” ~ Regina Brett

It takes time to drive out the darkness from our minds and from our hearts. It takes time to heal our wounds and accept the presence of emotional pain into our lives. So give time, time.

7. SPEND TIME ALONE WITH YOURSELF.

When you love someone, you spend private time with that person, quality time. And in the dark moments of our lives, when pain is present in our hearts and in our minds, spending time alone with ourselves is one of the best gift we can give to ourselves.

Take the time to be alone with yourself. To acknowledge, love and appreciate the parts of you that are beautiful. To love yourself and to know yourself. To rest, time to heal and to fully recover fromall that you are feeling.

“Your light is seen, your heart is known, your soul is cherished by more people than you might imagine. If you knew how many others have been touched in wonderful ways by you, you would be astonished. If you knew how many people feel so much for you, you would be shocked. You are far more wonderful than you think you are. Rest with that. Rest easy with that. Breathe again. You are doing fine. More than fine. Better than fine. You’re doin’ great. So relax. And love yourself today.” ~ Neale Donald Walsch

8. REACH OUT FOR HELP AND SUPPORT.

“Surround yourself with people who make you happy. People who make you laugh, who help you when you’re in need. People who genuinely care. They are the ones worth keeping in your life. Everyone else is just passing through.” ~ Karl Marx (composer)

Reach out for emotional help and support from those you love and trust. Surround yourself with cheerful and happy people. People who can make you laugh, who can make you see how beautiful life is and who can show you that there’s always something to look forward to.

9. LET NATURE HEAL AND COMFORT YOU.

“One has to be alone, under the sky, Before everything falls into place and one finds his or her own place in the midst of it all. We have to have the humility to realize ourselves as part of nature.” Thomas Merton

Spend more time outdoors and Look outside in nature for evidence of decay, destruction and death. Of rebirth, rejuvenation, and renewal. And remind yourself that you too are part of nature. Allow nature to be your wise friend, teacher and companion. Allow nature to heal and comfort you. To teach you more about the infinite circle of life. About birth, life, death, rebirth and about yourself.

10. CLAIM NOTHING AS YOUR OWN.

Love everything but cling on to nothing. Make peace with this idea that nothing in this life lasts forever, that nothing is yours to keep. Live each day as if it were your last. Each moment as if it were your only moment. Make the best of everything life sends your way and waste no time on arguing against what is.

“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” ~Dalai Lama

“A person who lives moment to moment, who goes on dying to the past, is never attached to anything. Attachment comes from the accumulated past. If you can be unattached to the past every moment, then you are always fresh, young, just born. You pulsate with life and that pulsation gives you immortality. You are immortal, only unaware of the fact.” ~ Osho

11. TURN YOUR WOUNDS INTO WISDOM.

Every experience that comes your way, comes your way for a reason. Seek to know what that reason is. Seek to learn from every painful experience and every painful interaction life sends your way. Be an alchemist. Turn your wounds into wisdom and your difficulties into opportunities. Let your pain make you better, not bitter.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ~ Albert Einstein

12. NO PAIN IS FOREVER.

If you’re still alive, if you’re still breathing, it only means that there’s still a lot of life for you out there. A lot of places for you to go to, many new and exciting things to do, to learn and to love.  So pick yourself up. Dust yourself off, and start all over again. Start rebuilding your life and make it ridiculously amazing. Don’t let a bad and painful experience make you feel like you have a bad and painful life. Don’t let a rainy day dampen your fun. Never forget that the Sun always shines abovethe clouds. It’s always up there :)

“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.” ~ Joseph Addison

Do you think it’s possible to reach a point in life where you are entirely free of emotional pain?  You can share your insights by joining the conversation in the comment section below :)

With all my love,

danas-medium

 

10 Toxic Relationships to Avoid

10 Toxic Relationships Mentally Strong People Avoid

on 31 July, 2014 at 09:13

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“All failed relationships hurt, but letting go of a toxic relationship is actually a gain, not a loss.”

“As youngsters we learn about sex education in grade school, the legality of marriage in our late teens, and perhaps some social psychology in college.  But when it comes down to actually handling the intricacies of real-world relationships, we’re given very little formal guidance… or worse, we’re given advice columns in online beauty magazines.

Yes, relationships are trial-and-error from the get-go.  And if you’re like most of us, you’ve experienced plenty of error along the way.

A big part of the problem is that many toxic relationship behaviors are baked right into our culture.  We worship the idea of carefree romantic love – you know, where two people ride off into the sunset happily ever after before they even truly know each other.  And we are raised to objectify our relationships and guard them like personal property.  Thus, our friends and lovers are often treated as assets rather than human beings of free will with whom to share true love and emotional support.

Fortunately, there’s been a lot of scientific research into healthy and happy relationships over the past few decades that have allowed people in the know to build their mental strength against toxic relationships and toxic relationship behaviors.  And that’s exactly what I want to share with you today – ten common types of toxic relationships mentally strong people learn to avoid:

1.  RELATIONSHIPS RUN BY ONE PERSON.

A relationship is toxic when one person is running it.  Period.

When you feel out of control or a little lost it can be tempting to look for someone willing to take charge of your life for you, just to alleviate the pressure.  But before you do consider this: If you put a collar around your own neck and hand the leash to someone else, you’ll have no say about where they lead you in life.

We should never feel powerless or trapped in a relationship.  In fact, if either person feels powerless or trapped, the relationship doesn’t really exist.  Because that’s what relationships are all about: freedom.

Yes, healthy relationships are built on a solid foundation of free will and teamwork.  And since relationships are one of the greatest vehicles of personal growth and happiness, the most important trip you will ever take in life is meeting someone else halfway.  You will achieve far more by working with them, rather than working against them or trying to control them.  It really is a full circle.  The strength of a relationship depends on the individual strength of its two members, and the strength of each member in the long run depends on the quality of the relationship.

2.  RELATIONSHIPS THAT ARE SUPPOSED TO “COMPLETE” YOU.

Our culture, which is predicated on fantasies of romantic love, often suggests that once you meet“The One,” you will be lifted out of your misery or boredom and elevated into a state of perpetual wholeness and bliss.

So, it’s easy to believe that it’s your partner’s job to make you feel joyful and whole.  But the truth is, while a healthy relationship can certainly bring joy, it’s not your partner’s job to fill in your empty voids.  That’s your job and yours alone, and until you accept full responsibility for your emptiness, pain, or boredom, problems will inevitably ensue in the relationship.

The longing for completion that you feel inside comes from being out of touch with who you are.  Nobody else in this world can make you happy.  It’s something you have to do on your own.  And you have to create your own happiness first before you can share it with someone else.

3.  RELATIONSHIPS THAT RELY ON CODEPENDENCY.

When your actions and thoughts revolve around another person to the complete disregard of your own needs, that’s codependency, and it’s toxic.  When you set a precedent that someone else is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice versa), then you both will develop codependent tendencies.  Suddenly, neither one of you is allowed to plan something without getting approval.  All activities – even the mundane things such as watching a TV program – must be negotiated and compromised.  When someone begins to get upset, all personal needs go out the window because it’s now your responsibility to make one another feel better.

The biggest problem of developing these codependent tendencies is that they breed resentment.  Sure, if Angel gets mad at me once because she’s had a crappy day and is aggravated and needs attention, that’s understandable.  But if it becomes an expectation that my life revolves around her emotional well-being 24/7, then I’m eventually going to become very bitter towards her feelings and desires.

As Jim Rohn once said, “The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development.  I used to say, ‘If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.  “Now I say, I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.’”

In other words, take responsibility for your own emotions and expect your partner and friends to be responsible for theirs.  There’s a subtle yet important difference between being supportive and being obligated at all times.  Any sacrifices for others should be made as a self-directed choice and not seen as an obligation. (Read Codependent No More.)

4.  RELATIONSHIPS BASED ON IDEALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.

You don’t love and appreciate someone because they’re perfect, you love and appreciate them in spite of the fact that they are not.  “Perfection” is a deadly fantasy – something none of us will ever be.  So beware of your tendency to “fix” someone when they’re NOT broken.  They are perfectly imperfect, just the way they should be.

Truthfully, the less you expect from someone you care about, the happier your relationship with them will be.  No one in your life will act exactly as you hope or expect them to, ever.  They are not YOU – they will not love, give, understand or respond like you do.

The biggest disappointments in life and in relationships are the result of misplaced expectations. Tempering unrealistic expectations of how something or someone “should be” will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration and suffering.

Bottom line: Any relationship that’s real will not be perfect, but if you’re willing to work at it and open up, it could be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

5.  RELATIONSHIPS WHERE PAST BLAME IS USED TO JUSTIFY PRESENT RIGHTEOUSNESS.

When someone you’re in a relationship with continues to blame you for your past mistakes, your relationship is toxic.  If both people in the relationship do this it becomes a hopeless battle to see who has screwed up the most over the years, and therefore who owes the other one more of an apology.

When you use someone else’s past wrongdoings in order to try and justify your own present righteousness, it’s a lose-lose situation.  Not only are you dodging the current (valid) issue itself, but you’re digging up guilt and bitterness from the past to manipulate the other person into feeling wrong in the present.

If this goes on long enough, both people in the relationship eventually spend most of their energy trying to prove that they’re less guilty than the other rather than solving the present problem.  They spend all of their time trying to be less wrong for each other instead of being more right for each other.

You must recognize that by choosing to be in a relationship with someone, you are choosing to be with all of their prior mistakes.  If you don’t accept those mistakes, then ultimately, you do not accept them.  If something bothered you that much in the past, you should have dealt with it then.  It’s time to let bygones be bygones. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

6.  RELATIONSHIPS BUILT ON DAILY LIES.

Trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship, and when trust is broken it takes time and willingness on the part of both people to repair it and heal. All too often, I’ll hear a coaching client say something like, “I didn’t tell him but I didn’t lie about it, either.”  This statement is a contradiction, as omissions are lies too.  If you’re covering up your tracks in any way, it’s only a matter of time before the truth is revealed and trust in the relationship is broken.

Remember, an honest adversary is always better than a friend or lover who lies. Pay less attention to what people say, and more attention to what they do. Their actions will show you the truth in the long run.

If you catch someone you care about lying to you, speak up.  Some people will lie to you repeatedly in a vicious effort to get you to repeat their lies over and over until they effectively become true.  Don’t partake in their nonsense.  Don’t let their lies be your reality.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for the truth – YOUR truth.  Forgiveness and reconciliation can’t begin until this truth is told.

7.  RELATIONSHIPS THAT LACK FORGIVENESS AND THE WILLINGNESS TO REBUILD TRUST.

Failing to understand that broken trust CAN be repaired leads to a grim future.

When trust is broken, which happens in nearly every long-term relationship at some point, it’s essential to understand that it can be repaired, provided both people are willing to do the hard work of self-growth.

In fact, it’s at this time, when it feels like the solid bedrock of your relationship has crumbled into dust, that you’re being given an opportunity to shed the patterns and dynamics with each other that haven’t been serving you.  It’s painful work and a painful time, and the impulse will be to leave, especially if you believe that broken trust cannot be repaired.  But if you understand that trust levels rise and fall over the course of a lifetime you’ll be more likely to find the strength to hang in, hang on, and grow together.

8.  RELATIONSHIPS IN WHICH PASSIVE AGGRESSION TRUMPS COMMUNICATION.

Passive aggressive behavior takes many forms but can generally be described as a non-verbal aggression that manifests in negative behavior.  Instead of openly expressing how they feel, someone makes subtle, annoying gestures directed at you.  Instead of saying what’s actually upsetting you, you find small and petty ways to take jabs at someone until they pay attention and get upset.

This is obviously a toxic relationship situation.  It shows that you two are not comfortable communicating openly and clearly with one another.  A person has no reason to be passive-aggressive if they feel safe expressing any worries or insecurities within the relationship.  A person will never feel a need to hide behind passive aggression if they feel like they won’t be judged or criticized for what they are thinking.

In healthy relationships, feelings and desires are shared openly.  Make it clear that the other person is not necessarily responsible or obligated to your ideas and opinions, but that you’d love to have their support.  If they care about you, they will likely give it, or at least compromise in some way.

9.  RELATIONSHIPS GOVERNED BY EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL.

Emotional blackmail is when someone applies an emotional penalty against you when you don’t do exactly what they want.  The key condition here is that you change your behavior, against your will, as a result of the emotional blackmail.  In other words, absent the emotional blackmail you would do differently, but you fear the penalty so you give in.  This is extremely toxic behavior.

The solution, as with passive aggression, is simply better communication.  There should never be a penalty, just an honest conversation.  It’s crucial for both people in a relationship to know that negative thoughts and feelings can be communicated safely to one another without there being penalties and harsh repercussions.  Otherwise people will suppress their true thoughts and feelings which leads to an environment of distrust and manipulation.

Perhaps there’s something that really bothers you about your friend or lover.  Why aren’t you saying something?  Are you afraid they’ll get upset?  Maybe they will and maybe they won’t.  Either way you need to deal with it upfront, constructively, and avoid burying it until it worsens, festers and explodes out of you.

Remember, it’s fine to get upset at someone you care about or to not like something about them.  That’s called being an imperfect human being.  Understand that committing to a person and always liking a person’s choices is not the same thing.  One can be committed to someone and not like everything about them.  On the contrary, two people who are capable of communicating sincere criticism towards one another without judgment or emotional blackmail will strengthen their commitment to one another in the long run.

10.  RELATIONSHIPS THAT ARE ALWAYS PUT ON THE BACK BURNER.

Failing to carve out quality time for important relationships is one of the most toxic relationship mistakes of them all, and yet it often goes unnoticed… at least for a while… until everything starts falling apart.

The truth is, relationships are like any other living entity: they require dedicated time in order to survive and thrive.  It’s easy to allow life to take over, especially when you have young children, work, and a body that needs nourishing food and exercise.  But your relationship with someone is a body as well, and if it’s not watered with quality time every week, it will start to wither.  Make time every week to focus only on those you care about, and time every day to pour even just a few minutes of quality interaction into your closest relationships.

Nothing you can give is more appreciated than your sincere, focused attention – your full presence.  Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of the next event is the ultimate compliment.  It is indeed the most valued gesture you can make to another human being.”

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