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4 posts from November 2013

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving: What If You’re Not Feeling Thankful?

IStock_000017351486_ExtraSmallThanksgiving is that time of year when everyone tells you to stop and give thanks for all you have. Be thankful for your family, a roof over your head, your health and on and on. But what if you’re not thankful? What if the reality is that your family is miserable, you don’t have a roof over your head and you’re not, in fact, healthy? What then? What if the last thing in the world you want to do is to “Be Thankful?” Or, what if you actually would love to be able to be thankful, but you just can’t muster it? 

If being thankful is something that feels beyond your scope at this time, then go for the next best thing: acceptance. I know it may sound crazy, but if things truly suck for you right now, don’t wallow in your misery, feel guilty about not being thankful or try to pretend that everything is great. Instead, breathe in, slow down and simply accept where things are for you right now. Take a slow deep breath in (through your nose) and just as slowly release it (through your mouth). Do this several times until you feel your heart rate slowing down and you feel calm. Next, get real with yourself. Take an honest look at where your life is and what about it you don’t like. Name those things. But name them  without exaggeration or drama or extreme thinking. Simply name the facts.  For example, “Thanksgiving is hard for me because I don’t have a family to go to or any close friends. I’m barely making ends meet and I hate my job. I don’t like where I am right now in my life.” 

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November 21, 2013

The Big Lie about Relationships: "Relationships Are Hard"


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For years I believed the notion that all relationships are hard. Experts, books and even the media all played out the message that relationships aren’t easy, are naturally filled with strife and that conflict and “fighting” just comes with the territory. Since all of the other relationship “experts” were passing on the same message, I thought they must be right. In fact, I felt like I had to hide the fact that my relationship wasn’t hard. I thought maybe there was something I was missing. I thought that perhaps other relationship “experts” knew better than I.

 For a long time I ignored my gut. I tell women all the time to “trust that you know what you know,” yet in this area I failed to follow my own advice. I passed on the message to clients that relationships are hard. I quietly shrugged my shoulders in agreement when friends and family members rolled their eyes and sighed that relationships should be easier. And now...I’m done. I’m done buying into all that hype about how hard relationships are and even more done with passing on that dangerous message. Instead, I’m going to tell you the hard truth about relationships.  

MY truth.

Great relationships aren’t hard. Healthy relationships, in fact, are comforting, nice to be in and great to come home to. They make life easier. They don’t leave you crying, feeling like hell or wondering if anyone will ever love you. Great relationships leave you feeling good about yourself. They feel easy, rewarding and like a gift that you’re grateful to experience. Great relationships don’t require endless hours of “communication,” problem-solving or painful conversations. Although there are certainly hard conversations from time to time, they’re hard because sometimes life is hard. They’re not hard because you feel unsafe or fearful that your partner will shame you, dismiss you or shut you down. They’re not hard because you don’t feel heard or can’t get through to your partner. The hard conversations are hard because of the content, not because of the person with whom you’re discussing the content. Great relationships have an underlying foundation of equality, mutuality, love and cherishing. Both people are respectful, even in the toughest of times, because there’s a mutual desire to help and support one another.  Great relationships make life easier.

The reality is that bad relationships are hard. Unhealthy relationships make life difficult. These kinds of relationships are “naturally” filled with strife and upset. They don’t feel good to come home to. Yelling, dismissing, defensiveness, lack of accountability, belittling, addiction, lying, harsh comments and lack of interaction are common in unhealthy relationships. These are the things that make those relationships VERY HARD.  Don’t confuse great relationships, though, with not-so-great relationships. There’s a huge difference. Not being heard, intense anger, hurtful comments, lying, cheating, ignoring and contempt are common in poor relationships; they are NOT common in healthy ones. 

Messages like Relationships are hard and Love hurts are dangerous messages that set people up for bad relationships. If your relationship is hard day in and day out or more days than not, something’s wrong. Relationships should NOT be that hard. Great relationships feel easy, comforting and great to come home to. Although you may hit bumps, have moments of upset and periods of feeling more distant than you’d like, these are all short-lived MIT’s (moments in time). 

Go for great in your relationships…it’s so worth it. Stop settling for less and thinking that’s the “norm;” it isn’t.

Challenge: Take a hard look at your relationship. Have you been normalizing a bad relationship under the guise of “all relationships are hard?” If so, it’s time to re-calibrate. Pay attention to the areas where you’ve been settling and tune into how and why. Commit to go for great!

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2013

Eyes Wide Open: Magical Thinking Won’t Solve Serious Issues

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People have an uncanny ability to not see what’s right in front of them and, instead, paint a rosy picture about issues that are anything but rosy. They can assume there are easy answers for problems that are anything but easy. They can turn a blind eye to major upsets to which no one in their right mind should be turning a blind eye. And they can wish so hard that things aren’t as bad as they seem that they can actually start believing that things really aren’t as bad as they seem.

Too often people simply want to believe that things will work out. They want to think everything will be okay. In an effort to believe things will be okay, they begin to delude themselves. Deluding themselves can take many forms:

  • A couple fights constantly and tells themselves that as soon as they have a child everything will work itself out.
  • An employee tells himself that even though his boss has already lied to him three times about giving him a raise, this time it will be different and his boss will come through on his word.
  • A girlfriend convinces herself that marriage will magically keep her boyfriend’s eyes and hands from wandering.
  • A father believes that as soon as his son finds the “right” job, his drinking will stop and no longer be an issue.

Applying magical solutions to serious issues is a losing plan. Regardless of whether we’re talking about a friend, boss, lover or spouse, the bottom line is...serious issues require serious solutions. A lying boss is not going to all of a sudden stay true to his word. Having a baby is no more going to fix an unhealthy marriage than marriage is going to fix a cheating boyfriend. The moment we brush off the seriousness of major issues, we begin to insure that those issues will grow. Wishful thinking will not, does not and cannot solve real problems.

If there’s something you don’t like in your relationship, job, friendship, etc., then do yourself a favor and truly address the issue. Keep your eyes wide open. Dare to see what you see and have the courage to have your back by addressing the hard issues. This one move will save you years of pain down the road.

Challenge: Don’t minimize, make up magical solutions or turn a blind eye to real struggles right in front of you. Face the serious issues head on and stop convincing yourself that everything will be okay if you just let life happen. It won’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 05, 2013

Getting The Spark Back…Requires Getting Real, Not Wild

IStock_000014629447XSmallI get countless e-mails from people saying they or their partner lost the spark in their relationship and they want to know how to get it back. Part of the problem, though, for many couples that say they lost the “spark,” is that they start with a fantasy notion of relationships. Many people expect their relationships to forever maintain the passion of new beginnings. Too many people believe in Hollywood’s notion of great relationships --  always hot, passionate, full of butterflies and the constant hum of utter infatuation. First off, no relationship can sustain that constant level of perfection—it’s unrealistic and total fantasy. So, if you’re looking for that “spark,” then you’d better re-adjust your compass…or continually start new relationships throughout your life.

If, however, what you’re looking for is a deeper connection, filled with love, support, fun and an ability to make it through tough times, then by all means let’s find that spark. Know, however, that getting the spark back is a process, not an event.

Below are simple ways to re-ignite the connection and “spark:”

  1. Be cherishing. Treat your partner as though you cherish her/him. Say kind things, do kind acts and be loving. Don’t expect that just co-existing is enough. Don’t assume that just being in this relationship shows that you want to be there; it doesn’t. Act like you want to be there. Act like you’re happy to be with your partner on a daily basis.
  2. Laugh often/be playful. Part of getting the spark back is enjoying being with your partner. Lighten up, smile, joke, tease…HAVE FUN! Don’t make everything so serious and don’t be a wet blanket in life. Try new things, watch funny movies, tell silly jokes and learn to let go of the critiquing, complaining, demanding, etc., for at least pockets of time. No one wants to hang out with Scrooge.
  3. Be authentic. It’s nearly impossible to feel the spark with someone you can’t trust. Be your genuine self, answer questions honestly, do what you say you’re going to do and be reliable. If your partner can’t trust you, then he/she won’t be able get or feel close to you.  
  4. Share yourself. Intimacy means, “Into me you see.” Share your thoughts, fears, excitements, struggles, opinions and joys with your partner. If you’re in an intimate relationship, the intimacy should not only be happening in the bedroom. The spark is not just about physical chemistry. Physical connection is great, however it will only take you so far. If there’s no emotional connection…eventually there is no spark either.  
  5. Be supportive. Have your partner’s back. Do your best to support their dreams, give them a shoulder to lean on, tell them you believe in them, etc. Too many couples harp on the negatives and stress all the reasons why things won’t work. Start changing your lens to one of appreciation, solution, partnering and friendship rather than criticism, the devil’s advocate or the naysayer. 

When it comes to “finding the spark,” the bottom line is that the “spark” is about intimacy—that sense of physical and emotional connection that feels good to come home to. It’s not about hot sex, constant attraction or being unable to keep your hands off each other, all of which wax and wane in even the best of relationships. If you want that hot sex kind of spark then become a serial dater because that’s the only way you will sustain it. If, however, you want a truly rockin’ relationship, then dare to cherish, share, be playful, genuine and yes… supportive. Do all of these with a good heart and ask of your partner the same. If that doesn’t get the spark back then perhaps it wasn’t truly there in the first place.

Challenge: Look over the list above and make an honest assessment of how you have been in your relationship. Clean up the parts you have not done well and hold your partner to the same expectations. Become someone it feels good to come home to.

 

 

 

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