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3 posts from August 2013

August 27, 2013

Saying “No” is Vital in Relationships

IStock_000015754146_ExtraSmallWomen are notorious for wanting to please people, putting others before themselves and for trying to do it all. Although these may seem on the surface to be wonderful traits, when you look deeper, they can be detrimental to both women and the ones they love. Too many women try to twist themselves into a pretzel to please everyone—even if that means hurting themselves. Not only is it impossible to constantly please everyone, it’s also incredibly unhealthy. The word for putting everyone before yourself is co-dependence and, trust me. this is NOT something to be striving for.

Healthy relationships are about a mutual give and take between two or more people. Healthy relationships are not about one person constantly giving and the other constantly taking. All people need to learn how to both give and receive in life and it’s no different in relationships. When women repeatedly put their needs on the back burner, it’s only a matter of time before those women will feel depleted, tired and burned out. Feeling burned out is seldom helpful to anyone.

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August 23, 2013

What Takes Me Off Track in My Relationships: A Relationship Expert’s Journey (Part II)

IStock_000008637129_ExtraSmallBelow is the continuation from my previous post of things that have taken me off track in my relationships. I hope some of these will serve as a reminder to you to pay attention to the moves you make that may also be taking you off track in your relationships. After being married for twenty years, I’m sure I could probably come up with many more but I don’t want to overwhelm you. 

  1. Let fear drive my actions. Fear of failure, success, financial problems, future happenings etc., all keep me out of the present and have often lead me to make poor choices. Some times the fear leads me to making no choices. Either way, fear has taken me down the wrong path too many times. If the bad thing is not happening now, I’ve learned to stop fretting about it (on a good day). I’m realizing that if the bad thing does happen, I’ll only have to fret about it later anyway so why not give myself a break now.
  2. Assumed that as my kids got older they wanted to see less of me. I’ve learned that universally kids want their parent’s time and attention. Of course there are times when they need a their space, however, even then they need to know you’re always there for them. Pay attention, listen to their stories and don’t assume they don’t care. I’m learning everyday to be more present and to SHOW I care, I’m listening and I have their back.
  3. Shut down and shut others out when I was angry/hurt. Although I’ve come a long way on this issue, this has been an ongoing edge for me. All I can say is shutting down and stewing is not productive. Giving someone the silent treatment is not justified, okay or helpful. I’ve learned through the years that resolution cannot happen if there is no conversation to work issues through. I’ve had to learn to speak it in the moment…or at least as soon as I can find the strength to do so.
  4. Forgot to lean into the good moments. This is so big and something I am still trying to remind myself to do every day. LEAN IN. There are little moments that occur all the time that so many of us forget to take in. We have to learn to take them in. Breathe in: A moment of laughter with your child, a spark of tenderness with your spouse, a great conversation, a cool success, a healing moment etc. We have to learn to notice the gifts…especially if we’re going to be so hyper-vigilant to the struggles/imperfections of life. Feel the joy and… LEAN IN.
  5. Allowed perfectionism to get in the way of acceptance. If I could re-do the first 6 years of my parenting I would do my very best to stop the tweaking and critiquing and instead enjoy my children’s imperfections and journey of discovery. I would also have started much earlier to let go of all the self-tweaking as well. Perfection is an impossible feat and it’s time we all stop demanding it of others and ourselves.

Relationships can be amazing opportunities for self-growth if we dare to allow ourselves to see our fault lines. We all have our own particular vulnerabilities when it comes to life and relationships and it’s up to each of us to be aware of what those are. It’s also up to each of us to be conscious of when we’re going down the wrong path and then, have the courage to take steps to self-correct. 

Challenge: I encourage you to make a list of the ways you can go off track in your relationships. Pay attention to signs that you’re headed down the wrong path and learn to self-correct. You and your loved ones will thank you for it! 

 

 

August 08, 2013

What Takes Me Off Track in My Relationships: A Relationship Expert’s Journey

IStock_thinkingallI started out to write a post about what to do to keep your relationship going and realized there are probably a thousand posts like that. Instead, I’ve decided to write about what takes us off track in our relationships…and to write this post from my own personal experience. It would be so nice to be able to say that being a relationship expert has finally taught me to be in my relationships perfectly, but unfortunately that is not the case. My humanity has stepped in the way of my knowledge countless times and taken me off course. Hopefully, some of my missteps will help lead to your successes. 

Below are the first five of ten ways I’ve gone off track in my relationships. I hope that my sharing these, will enable you to avoid the traps that have tripped me up now and again:

  1. Worked too much, paid attention too little. Throughout the years there have been too many moments when my e-mail, cell phone, projects or workshops came before playing, listening or just being with my family. The angst of not getting work done was too much for me to put aside for an hour, a day or certainly not a week. The lesson I have learned is to always be mindful to work less and pay attention more. Children and spouses want our time above all else.
  2. Allowed my insecurity to shake my trust. In times of my own self-doubt, upset or moments of insecurity, I doubted the love of my loved ones.  I looked to them to build me up and help me feel better rather than looking to myself to manage my insecurities. Other people cannot fill us up. They can add to our lives, but they cannot complete our lives or be responsible for making our lives bearable. Only we can do that.
  3. Forgot to be mindful. The everyday ticking of life makes it very easy to slowly drift apart—from my husband and kids, friends and from extended family. It takes mindfulness to stay connected. Sometimes the only thing that brought me back was feeling the distance I had grown apart. I must remember to keep my finger on the pulse of my relationships. If I’m feeling distant, chances are I’ve stopped being mindful…and as a result, there is, in fact, distance.
  4. Ignored the importance of date night. When the kids were young it was too easy to say I was tired or we couldn’t leave the kids with someone else. Young parents have to learn to leave the kids with a trusted babysitter—couples need the time together. Now I have to remember that even though life is busy, spending time with my husband is more important.
  5. Let stress and worry justify my distraction. A new project, a crazy schedule, worry etc., can all become excellent excuses to tune out. Not listening to those I love because I’m too distracted by other things can wear down even the best of relationships. I’ve had to learn to tune in—even when every fiber of my being is pulling me to tune out.

While I don’t believe relationships should be hard work, I do believe that they require a certain level of mindfulness. We have to pay attention, not only to the relationship itself, but how we are in them as well. When we keep our finger on the pulse of our relationships and friendships, we provide ourselves with the ability to make quick adjustments before unhealthy patterns become too entrenched.  Obviously the quicker we realize we’re going off course the better it is for every one…so tune in.

Challenge: Take a moment to think about where you go awry in your relationships or use my experiences above if they ring true for you. Make a mental note of how to regroup and get back on course. Let us know your list—so we can learn from you too!

 

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