What Not To Do In A Relationship

Choosing a partner in life is such an important decision that it is helpful to think it thoroughly through before bringing someone into your life. There are many factors to take into consideration and many questions to ask yourself as the process of choosing your partner takes place.

The first most important factor to consider is whether or not the person you are considering enhances your life or not. Do they bring you more happiness than you already have or is what you're experiencing a false sense of dependence? Does this person walk hand in hand with you on your own path to growth as they expand their own mind and way of thinking or are either of you pulling the other person down?

Conflict. This is a major consideration before entangling your life with someone. Conflict has many facets to it.

The first of several facets to think about is the frequency and intensity of the conflict. Research over the decades by John Gottman and his very capable team have shown that in essentially all relationships around the world over time, 2 people experience the same frequency and intensity of conflict as any other 2 people. What does this mean? That means that conflict is pretty much bound to happen. How you deal with it is what makes the difference between a successful relationship and one that maintains unhappiness or ends altogether.

In relationships that are successful, 2 people grow stronger every time there is conflict. In relationships that end or maintain misery, the conflict keeps creating more and more disconnect. If you're having trouble handling conflict within a relationship, seeking couples counseling is a great place to start. Individual therapy is also very helpful because even if just one of two people is working on the relationship, that relationship will likely experience shifts. Both individuals can achieve better insight through therapy as well.

Some bullet point ideas to remember are listed in the image below.

All this said, if you are experiencing relationship damaging conflict, look inwards instead of blaming, getting defensive, holding contempt, or turning away from your partner. What to do instead are learn the tools and skills specific to your relationship that will help you overcome these undesirable experiences.

The Value Behind Sleeping

Sleep is such a fascinating time in our lives. We spend quite a bit of time doing it and sometimes try to avoid it at all costs. Some people sleep in excess and some of us still look forward to napping well past our pre-school days. So why does your body actually need sleep? Well, there are so many working parts that require attention after each and every single day. Sleep allows the brain and body to reboot and function efficiently for the following waking hours.

Here is what some of the research out there shows about what goes on while we sleep.

Your brain and body do a full toxin cleanse. This allows you to rejuvenate. In people who don't get restful sleep or not enough sleep, this filtration process can't be as effective. Experts say that this may be a contributing factor as to why people who are sleep-deprived have a hard time being present in their day to day activities.

You've probably watched it happen in others, but it most likely happens to you too. Every time you fall asleep, your body jerks. According to sleep experts, the intensity of the jerk suggests how sleepy you are. Basically the more intense your body jerks, the more tired it is.

Your body temperature drastically decreases. When we're active during the day, we burn more calories, so lowering our temperature is a way to reduce the burn rate and save calories that we can use during our waking hours. "It's like how bears hibernate," says Dr. Avi Ishaaya, a sleep specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA. "Sleep is a survival mechanism."

Useless information is forgotten. "We take in all this information all day long, and most of it is luckily forgotten," says sleep specialist Christopher Colwell at UCLA School of Medicine. "If you remembered everything, it would fill up your brain, so a sorting process takes place during sleep."

Your body becomes paralyzed, but your brain is at its most active than at any other time of the day. The brain of someone who is dreaming is actually more active than that of a person who is awake. It also requires more oxygen. "One theory is that in REM sleep, you're organizing thoughts and learning, filing information, but no one really understands specifically why a sleeping mind is active," says Dr. Alon Y. Avidan, a professor of neurology and director of UCLA's Sleep Disorders Center.

Your mind is so active during sleep that it can even make important connections and discoveries, researchers say. Sleep is therefore very important, especially when you are in the therapy process. Many clients report feeling tired or sleepy after therapy sessions. They often sleep heavier than usual for the following nights after a session.

Your immune system is at an all-time high. One study showed that people who received flu shots and were sleep-deprived the next night did not create the antibodies required to protect against the flu. "As soon as I see the first signs of an upper respiratory infection, I try to sleep for 10 hours," says Dr. Jordan Stern, founder and director of the BlueSleep Center in New York City. "If you're chronically sleep deprived, you're more likely to develop recurring infections." Hence why rest is so important when you feel physically or emotionally out of balance.

Most people wake up between 5-15 times per hour! It usually happens when we shift into different stages of sleep, such as from dreams to deep sleep. These awakenings happen so briefly that we can't and don't remember them.

You're probably breathing. Isn't that a relief? But believe it or not, up to 30% of people actually stop breathing at night. Up to 90 percent of people with this disorder, sleep apnea, go undiagnosed, including young women. The life expectancy for someone with untreated sleep apnea is only 58 years, so if you or your partner snores at night, it's time to get checked out, says Dr. Stern. Having a sleep test done at some point in your life is just as important as having a regular physical or seeing a therapist for an emotional assessment.

All of your individual brain and body cells are being completely repaired. These restorative processes take care of all the damage that's occurred during the day. When you don't get enough sleep, the effect doesn't just deplete your brain functioningit impacts your whole body. This is why restless sleep doesn't feel like sleep at all. Minimal repair happened overnight and your brain and body aren't actually ready for the next day.

Sleep is a big part of our lives. Making sure we are aware and doing our best at having a healthy sleep routine is very important. This leads into mornings that aren't rushed where we start out with water and nutritional foods. Going through the remainder of the day knowing that whatever we pick up on our travels through life, we will have to process and let go of or store in our brains and bodies until we make time to create a more balanced life. Take your life seriously. You only get one.

Rethinking Infidelity ... A Talk For Anyone Who Has Ever Loved

Here is a talk for everyone to watch. Esther Perel says the kiss that you can imagine is as powerful as hours of love making. It is our imagination that is responsible for love, not the other person. This video talks about how to think about affairs and what to do with their aftermath in a more peaceful way than we are used to.

Desire runs deep, betrayal runs deep. Some affairs are death knells to relationships. Other affairs will jolt both partners to consider new possibilities. The fact is that the majority of couples who experience an affair stay together, but some of them will merely survive while others will be able to turn a crisis into a possibility and regenerative experience.
A lot of couples in the immediate aftermath of the affair will have depths of honesty in their conversations that they haven't had in years or ever. Something about the fear of loss can rekindle desire and create a new kind of truth. Healing begins when the perpetrator acknowledges wrong doing. For the partner who had the affair, it is essential for them to express guilt and remorse for the hurt they have caused. It is important for the partner who was deceived to create meaning in their life and to create meaning in understanding how to redefine their relationship if they decide to stay. Your first marriage is over, would you like to create a second one with each other?

Betrayal in a relationship comes in many forms as mentioned in my previous post. Watch this video for a different way of thinking about affairs. 

The Many Shades of Betrayal

Betrayal of trust is a subjective experience for each individual based on the spoken and unspoken rules of commitments made in a relationship. Communication is extremely important when it comes to understanding the boundaries of your relationship. The boundaries will likely be different in any relationship you have. Talking about them is critical so that assumptions aren't made. Sometimes, people feel that their desire for more open or more closed boundaries will be judged by their partner in a negative way. They therefore don't bring up their needs and wants and silently hope for the best. This can often backfire once there is extensive investment into the relationship as far as time and resources.

The following list of ways betrayal can happen in a relationship is from John Gottman's book, The Science of Trust, (pages 351-353 for any of you who want more detailed reading). There is a wide variety of ways that betrayal happens. It is not limited to sexual communication or action.

No part of betrayal belongs in a committed relationship. The key is to know that boundaries are set by two people within a relationship. I cannot stress enough that these boundaries vary. What is considered betrayal by one person or one couple may be considered acceptable by another person or couple. It is up to the couple to clearly demarcate the limits of their commitment so that there are no surprises and hurt is minimized. 

If someone has chosen to act out a betrayal, it will be up to the betrayed partner to decide what they need in order to forgive or whether or not they choose to stay in the relationship. Decisions on this matter like all others in a relationship need to be respected. My recommendation is to meet with a therapist, even if for just a few sessions, to discuss and understand the intricate inner workings of the betrayal so that the residual effect is reduced as much as possible.

Read on below to be more clear on where your boundaries are and consider having an open conversation with your partner as to where you stand. Boundaries of the relationship are a very important topic to discuss. There may be differing opinions so be prepared to have the conversation with an open mind and a loving heart. 

1. Betrayals by violations of commitment. This type of betrayal simply means that one or both partners are conditionally committed. Commitment happens when it works for them or when no one better has come along. The individual hasn't firmly decided that the relationship they are in is the only one they want to be in or the one they want to be in for the long run. In this type of betrayal, commitment levels diminish when there is an argument, disagreement, emotional or physical distance happens, financial insecurity, their partner becomes ill, or their partner states reasonable demands that they don't care to fulfill. People leave for a period of time or threaten to leave when times are bad between them. The partner can be left feeling confused, unfulfilled, worried, and needing to do more than their fair share in the relationship in order to keep the partner violating the commitment engaged. Needless to say, neither person feels connected or satisfied.

2. Betrayals of emotional, romantic, or sexual exclusivity. In a healthy and successful relationship, partners do not turn away from the agreement to be exclusive. When betrayal of this type happens, one or both partners do not turn away from other relationship, flirtations, sexual acts, secret emotional or financial attachments, or other kinds of secret liaisons that present themselves. Sometimes they even seek out these types of betrayal. They do not discuss their betrayals within the relationship before, and most of the time after, boundaries have been crossed. The partner acting out the betrayal may make sense of why they are doing it and why it is okay. This can range anywhere from, 'my partner won't care,' 'my partner won't find out,' 'my partner doesn't give me this type of attention and I need to find it somewhere, anywhere,' to being completely oblivious that they are doing anything to betray their partner. This type of disconnect usually happens over time, but the external relationship(s) often don't come to an end until the partner who has been betrayed finds out. This usually results in the partner doing the betraying feeling anywhere from immensely guilty and promising change to trying to reason and validate their behaviors to help their partner understand why their behavior is okay. 

3. Betrayals by secrets, lies, and deceptions. One of the most distressing forms of betrayal is this category, lies of omission. This type of betrayal includes violations of trust, directly or indirectly lying, concealing any and all information from your partner regarding simple or deceitful actions or feelings, violations of confidence, broken promises, and inconsistencies. Not sharing the whole truth or keeping basic information from your partner is not only misleading but it is not faithful. It does not make for a successful, happy relationship. If you feel like you have to participate in this kind of behavior, you may want to reconsider your level of connection and communication with your partner. Before engaging in this type of betrayal, or after you find yourself already engaged in it, you can come forth and have a conversation with your partner as to what is turning you away from the relationship. By doing so, you have a better chance at repairing and building a stronger relationship. If you don't think that's possible or you do not want to move towards a successful relationship, you may want to reconsider why you are in the relationship at all.

4. Coalitions with others against the partner. When one partner forms a connection with a person outside of the relationship such as a friend, co-worker, family member, in a way that excludes or hurts their partner, they are choosing to engage in behavior that they would not engage in if their partner was there. The most common example of this is talking negatively about a partner with a friend. The problem with this type of betrayal is that problems are vented to an outsider without consulting and resolving them with one's partner. If the problem is so bad that it is on your mind, your partner is the first person to turn to. If there are communication difficulties between you and your partner and you are not happy about something that you would like to resolve with them, try going to a therapist or reading a good book on communication for romantic relationships. If your partner is not willing to try to make changes that will bring your relationship to the place you would like it to be, you may want to think about how you can improve your ability to cope with your difficult feelings to the extent that they are not overwhelming. If you've tried everything, then you may realistically want to understand when it is time to let go and move on. 

5. Betrayals by disinterest. In this instance, one or both partners stop expressing interest in their partner's thoughts, feelings, inner life, or future goals. Part of being in a healthy relationship is an ongoing interest in your partner as an individual in this world. This helps them feel connected and gives them the space to grow. By being disinterested, the individual doing the betraying is essentially putting down their partner and making them feel not good/cool/interesting enough. Now that's not a feeling anyone wants to have. Especially not from their significant other. If you are uninterested in your partner, take a moment to think about why. Consider talking to them about what used to make them attractive. Click here to watch this video on The Secret To Desire In a Long-Term Relationship. Do something, anything, but don't make your partner feel unimportant in your world. 

6. Betrayals of disrespect, unfairness, and lack of care. There are defaults in taking care of your partner such as not abandoning each other when ill or in need of emotional comfort and understanding. Being there for the other person is a standard part of being in any committed relationship. It is important to discuss what this looks like for each person in a couple. Once it is decided and understood, it will continue to bring two people together over the course of the relationship. The terms to this need can be modified and adjusted as time moves on and people change, but in essence, the feeling that the other person is there for you no matter what needs to be maintained while in relation to each other. Individuals who do not cherish, compliment, or express pride in their partner are creating a sense of disconnect that can diminish the value of their relationship. They are instead express disrespect, mockery, ridicule, sarcasm, mean behaviors or words, and often express superiority so as to denigrate their partner. None of these behaviors have a place within a loving, intimate relationship.

7. Betrayals of affection or sexual interest. Sometimes one or both partners become unaffectionate, unresponsive, or cold towards the other person. This can be so confusing and stressful for the other person. The person who is being betrayed in this instance may themselves become cold and unaffectionate, or they may try to compensate by seeking out affection more and more as the other person distances. Again, neither partner can possibly feel satisfied in this scenario. If you are experiencing a lack of affection, talk to each other or to a therapist to see how you can get back on track. It is an important part of any intimate relationship and requires work to maintain it. Affection won't be the fireworks of the early stages of your relationship, but it's not going to be too far off from it. There may be a lack of attraction or physical interest, or a lack of desire for physical intimacy that can manifest in several ways. First and foremost, it is critical to be certain that there are no medications or medical issues that are disrupting libido. You can talk to your medical doctor about these topics to ensure that everything is in tip top shape. Beyond that, building sexual intimacy once it is lost can be done by finding ways to reconnect and appreciate the other person emotionally and physically.

8. Betrayals by abuse. This is a serious form of betrayal that need not be tolerated under any circumstance. Examples include but are not limited to: social isolation, sexual coercion, extreme jealousy, public humiliation/belittling/degradation, threats or actual acts of violence or other acts that are intended to induce fear, damages or threats of damage to property, pets, or children, financially restriction or control by one partner, and physical abuse which is any unwanted touch. If you are finding yourself in a situation where abuse is occurring, be certain to have a safe means of escape should you need it. Having contact information for domestic violence shelters or contacting your local Department of Child and Family Services can save you from harm. Reach out to a professional who can help you figure out your best course of action in creating a safe place for yourself and your loved ones.

9. Betrayals by not meeting each others needs. A relationship is about healthy interdependence. Partners who violate this principle do not meet the other person's essential needs cooperatively and honestly. To meet your partner's needs, you are agreeing to being emotionally present, open, available, and responsive. You need to be willing to make sacrifices at times so that you can put your partner's and your families needs before your own. You are after all in relation to other people. You are not on your own when you are in a committed relationship. It is totally okay to not know how to exist in relation to others. Some people have never had a positive experience in this realm. It is important to know that meeting the needs of another person is fundamental to having a successful relationship of any sort, romantic or otherwise. The good news is that there are many outlets to learn this. Books, articles, therapists, the other person you are in relation to are all excellent sources of information. Start asking and you will be amazed at how much more fulfilling your relationship can be when there is a balanced give and take.

10. Betrayals by breaking promises and vows. Having conversations about the previous 9 topics and reviewing and acknowledging the promises and vows that were made at the beginning of and over the course of the relationship is a task that can be done every so often when in a relationship. It is important to keep promises and vows that are made so as to not create a distance between yourself and your partner. This is another one of the means of betrayal that applies not only to romantic relationships, but to all relationships. This involves being true to yourself and knowing that it's not productive to over-commit or over-promise, especially when you know you don't intend to do what you say you will. That leaves the other person disappointed and confused.


Committed relationships are a work in progress. When well-maintained, they can be fulfilling beyond your imagination. Some fine tuning is regularly needed as is some attention to who you are presenting yourself as in the relationship. Be honest to yourself and to others and keep communicating what is going on for you. Hopefully you find yourself in relation to a person who can and wants to do the same so that any unclarity can be cleared away and both of you can live in peace, harmony, excitement, and love with each other. 

What Makes A Healthy Romantic Relationship?

 

I think the most frequent question clients seek an answer to is 'what does a healthy romantic relationship look like?' This question has a unique answer for any individual and an even more specific answer for any couple. There are some basic ways of thinking about what creates a healthy relationship that can be used as a framework for setting up the details of how the relationship ends up developing in order to lead to success.

healthylove

Healthy relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, follow certain ground rules that allow each person involved to be happy without compromising the happiness of the other person. This includes parent-child dyads, siblings, professional relationships, your relationship with your neighbors, etc. You get the idea. Basically anyone with whom you are interacting that your behavior and mood effects.

Imagine if everyone lived by this general framework. We would have a web of interconnected and happy people all around the world. Each person can do their little part and hope that the effects trickle out and have a far reach. As any one person is more happy, other people in their life can be more happy. 

If for some reason you are not happy or you are making someone unhappy, it is your responsibility to either work through the difficulties to the extent that you are not made to feel more unhappy than you were when you started, or you may want to consider distancing yourself from that person so that you are not contributing to the perpetuation of unhappiness for either of you.

You can obviously choose to stay in the unhappiness if there is no alternative, but in that case, I would suggest consciously seeking out and establishing times and places of serenity for yourself so that you can maintain your identity and strength throughout the time you that have to maintain that particular relationship. 

So let's get to it. What are we aiming for? How can we be happy without taking away from the happiness of someone else? Believe it or not, it's not selfish, it's actually quite realistic.

One of the most important things to understand is that every type of relationship including romantic ones is a) a series of disconnects followed hopefully by b) repair then c) reconnection.

To speak specifically about romantic relationships, there are a) misunderstandings, arguments, disagreements, resentments, lack of affection, anger, inconsiderations, etc. followed by b) effective communication, in depth conversation, rekindling of positive emotion, physical touch, repetitive discussions, etc. until c) resolution is reached and both people feel loving and loved again.

The parts that are specific to each couple are how the pattern of disconnect, repair, and reconnection happens. Knowing how to engage with your partner effectively may take some counseling or educating yourself through books or advice from people in healthy relationships, but it is well worth doing. 

Either way, if you haven't picked up the skills of repairing and reconnecting, which many people haven't, it makes life a lot easier and happier to put some effort into this venture. Once you learn the skills and have the tools, you will be able to use them over your lifetime.

I can't think of a skill that is more important in life than being able to productively engage with other people so that you and the other person are thoroughly fulfilled. Feeling this type of satisfaction allows people to live content and at their maximum potential encompassing all aspects of their life.

A healthy relationship consists of: 

  • Trust by both people that is validated through virtuous behaviors while with the person and when they are not around.
  • The other partner is taken into consideration when decisions are made. Partners regularly consult each other in all aspects of life, including the parts of their lives that do not include the other person.
  • Allowing yourself and your partner to develop a strong core self throughout your time together. This includes having a healthy balance of separate and conjoint interests, friends, and life goals. By encouraging each other's self-growth, both partners can become happy as individuals while finding fulfillment within the relationship. 
  • Problem solving happens together. When one person brings up a problem, the other person tolerates their own feelings around it and works through not just how they feel but also how their partner is feeling until both people feel a sense of resolution. Problems are not avoided, disregarded, or invalidated.
  • There is a fluid healthy concern for the partner while not feeling responsible for their mood or actions. Everyone is responsible for their own emotional states. All any partner can do is be supportive and caring. 
  • Kindness at all times goes without saying. This is mandatory for successful relationships. 
  • Sex is talked about. How much or how little, when, and in what ways sex happens is discussed and understood by both partners. There is respect for the other person's physical body and emotional state when sex is happening. 
  • There is a high level of feeling comfortable with each other that is not taken for granted or seen as a weakness. Just because a person is choosing to be there does not imply that that person will always be there. It is a choice to be with someone and the relationship needs to be nurtured in order for it to continue growing. If it is not nurtured, just like any plant or your own emotional or physical well-being, growth will become stunted or stop altogether.
  • Conversation is based upon listening to understand, not listening to respond. Hearing and being present when your partner is speaking or telling you something through body language allows your connection to grow stronger. 

Love is just a word until you and your partner create a meaning for it. Create your special meaning consciously and kindly. Love is far from what Hollywood makes it out to be. The meaning of love you create will be different than what you have seen in other relationships. In the same way that it's important to be yourself an individual, it's important to create a unique partnership that is well-suited to what you and your partner are looking for instead of what is expected of you or what the media sells it to be.

If you are feeling more uncomfortable than you would like, that is when you know that it is time for a change. Our minds are resilient, they can withstand change and brief uprooting until a sense of comfort and happiness is established. It is worth trying for because you can't have what you want unless you try to get it.

There are many details that go into making a relationship healthy so that both people can be happy. Having the information of what makes a healthy relationship is the starting point of having one. The next step is making it happen.

Love and Letting Go

I just read this beautiful and well-written article that someone shared with me and I wanted to share it with anyone who is reading my blog. The article talks about the role that loving someone plays in our lives. Sometimes that love stays and evolves, and sometimes we have to let go of it in order to move on.

The point that really resonated for me was that "you never come out of love unscathed — no matter how the relationship ends. It’s neither good nor bad, it simply is what it is. All you can do is try and find love again."

We all seek love in our life. It's as natural as seeking other forms of happiness. It is inherently in our nature to connect. When that connection is lost, just like anything else in life that made us happy but is now gone, we miss it, we want to regain it. Sometimes through working at a relationship, we can regain what was once there or something better even. Sometimes we very realistically have to let go of a relationship because it has lost its potential for being something pleasant.

Only you can gauge when the time comes to part ways. Know that if you move on and open the space up that dysfunction is currently occupying, your resilient mind will find a relationship that works better for you. The person you break the relationship off with will likely do the same. If you feel like you and your partner can create the relationship that you both desire, then get to work. Start researching reading materials specific to what is going on for you, seek professional help like contacting a therapist, and most importantly, talk to your partner about what you are thinking and feeling. 

Life is short, but it's also very long. We are responsible for our sense of happiness while simultaneously allowing others the space to seek and find what makes them happy. Striving for balance is a lifelong effort and may seem difficult at times, but what would it be like if we didn't try?

Click here to read the full article by Paul Hudson.

On the purpose of one particular lifetime

If we are to think of the human species as developing over space and time, we find that in the early days of our existence as hominids, we were relatively less able to understand ourselves and the cosmos around us. As time has progressed, so has our capacity to learn. You can think of it this way, millions of years ago, we were but simple creatures who lived very simple lives. Over time, we became more and more like the beings we are today. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, mankind was essentially in its infancy stage, unaware of the direction the human brain was leading to.

As you can see in the image below, our early ancestors had brains that were about 1/3 the size of our brains today and thus didn't have as many connections or nerve fibers that our brains today do. Our brains and our lives work parallel to each other to become more and more complex. This process will continue for as long as sustainable weather patterns and proper distribution of resources persist.

In examining what we can think of as the childhood of our species, we find that we simply do not have all our modern day lives to squander in the growing up process. One lifetime isn't nearly long enough to make all the possible combinations of mistakes, or to go out and discover from scratch what has already been explored before us. Yes, there are basic needs that must be met in order for our bodies to physically grow and our brains to reach a level of maturity that is functional enough to continue expanding. Beyond that, the possibilities are boundless as each generation of child is raised.

As adults, it is our anthropological responsibility to pass on information and peaceful ways of being through education and energy transmission to all the developing individuals we come into contact with so that the whole of our species can benefit from what we deem as important in the process of growth for humans. When I say developing individuals, I am not just referring to children or growing teens. I am referring to all people at all stages in life. Any one person, without exception, at any point in their life can learn from others around them. They can take in knowledge and energy, process it in their reality, incorporate it into their way of being, then have the newly found ability to share that perception with others as is appropriate. 

Now that the world is infinitely interconnected, we can utilize all available forms of communication to share our personal knowledge with one another so that should someone in a particular stage of development be in need of something we have to offer, they will have access to it. If we are to raise our children in a way that we were raised or have similar expectations as our caretakers did of us in our generation, then one child at a time, we are stunting the overall growth of our species. If we interact with others in dysfunctional ways that have been repeated for thousands of years, then similarly, we stunt the growth of our species that could otherwise take a much different direction. It is each individual's responsibility to be an active, participating member of our world society so that the energy we create reverberates and makes life all the more sustainable. 

Our species had its time in childhood. With every generation we become more and more complex. Just as the speed of technology is exponentially increasing with increased opportunities to broaden our understanding of the digital world, the universe, and beyond, the rational mind will exponentially grow as antiquated ways of thinking are left behind and the space for examining reality opens up wider.

These processes are innately parallel because there simply can't be one without the other. There can't be rational explanations for human existence and our surrounding reality when we don't have advances in science to correspond to our brain growth and capacity for learning. These processes mirror the infinitely expanding universe in that there is no such thing as the beginning of time, and there is no such thing as the end of space. No one can know where we are headed. What we do have control over is how we consciously maneuver our direction.

So what is the purpose of one particular lifetime? In my humble opinion, I think that taking the time to explore our own sense of self so that we live in a state of continuous awareness is a starting point. By doing so, we can exist in a reality where we are able to check in with who we are, what we need, what's working, and what's not. Having this ever more important information provides us with the knowledge of how we can generate our own individual reality to be one that maintains inner peace. Each individual can make adjustments moment by moment to smoothly transition in gradual steps from the reality they exist in to the reality they perceive to be balanced and good enough.

The clarity of mind that comes with an established sense of inner peace is the key to tuning into others around us. By being able to tune into those around us, whatever their physical age may be, we can help cultivate each other's minds to the extent that our own and other's potential brain capacities can be developed. We can assess further what we need and desire from another person while being simultaneously open and able to provide them with what they need and desire. The alternative is not doing so and remaining relatively stagnant generation after generation with little output to show for the passing of time.

We are all ultimately just children growing up within the span of a lifetime in a moment in time of the overall progress of our species. I think it is important to be open to examining the breadth of humanity as a whole over space and time so that we can see the continuity and impact of the existence of each individual person. When reality is viewed from this vantage point, people can be more open to showing love and respect not only to themselves, but to every other human being they come into contact with.

We're all in this together. There is no me and you, there is only us. There is technically no space between any two people or any two points in the universe. Nothingness does not actually exist. Something connects each and every one of us. We are yet to figure out the intricacies of the unknown, but if we start figuring ourselves out and allowing for the space of internal and external curiosity to become larger over time, I think that we will find that the mysteries of the universe will elegantly present themselves to us.

If there's one article to read on romantic relationships, this is it.

Is each unhappy marriage unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy might say, or do all miserable marriages share something dysfunctional in common?

I just read this fantastic article that sums up the work of Drs. John and Julie Gottman over the last few decades about what ingredients are needed to make a lasting relationship. For those of you who are not familiar with Dr. John Gottman, he has his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in the field of Mathematics as well as his Master's and Doctorate degrees in Psychology.

This means that Dr. Gottman quantifies the world of Psychology in ways that no other Psychologist ever has. He gives us tangible facts based on years of data collection and research analysis. His brilliant mind has provided the rest of us in the Psychology world the opportunity to focus on and expand upon what is working in a relationship rather than focusing on what's not working.

If you want the hard and not so fast facts, click here to check out this published research for more extensive details on marital stress. 

This article is definitely worth reading all the way through if you are in any stage of a relationship or hoping to be in one at some point in your future. Here are some of my favorite points from my reading:

"Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages."

"The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of arousal — of being in fight-or-flight mode — in their relationships. Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger."

"Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there."

"Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved."

"There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work."

“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.” 

"Active constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners."

"There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart."

"In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward."

Click here or on the picture above to read the full article.

Anonymously Addicted?

Many clients who enter Life Coaching or Therapy struggle with substance use or experience a difficult time with a substance user in their lives. I am often asked what it means to be an alcoholic or an addict. I find all too often that people who think of alcoholism think of people who are low functioning, maybe homeless people, or maybe the guy next door who beats his wife when he gets drunk. Maybe you think of Don Draper in Mad Men who drinks at work all day every day and ends up with hand tremors in the last couple seasons because of it. 

Before reading on, I want you to know that none of what I'm writing about here is meant to be judgmental in any way. It's purely informational from a lens that might be different than yours. The underlying point is that alcohol, like most substances, becomes highly physically addictive and it has terrible repercussions on your body. The body and mind cannot exist without each other so it is important to take care of both. I hope this post gives you some ideas on what may not be working in your life so that you can start to brainstorm ideas on how to generate changes to make your life more pleasurable in a long-term, sustainable way as opposed to turning to substances for short-term relief that is more damaging than it can ever be healing.

It helps to think of substances as non-nutritive matters that we ingest. Some examples are caffeine, sugars, medicines, illicit drugs, alcoholic beverages, opiates, alcohol, smoking, overeating. You get the idea. They don't serve any purpose in our body for making us healthy, like say water, or apples, or bread, or eggs. Substances are products that are passed through our organs, blood, and liver that our bodies basically have to 'deal with' and figure out how to get rid of safely. They often throw off the chemical balance in our brains and thus our brains have to constantly readjust so as to try to reestablish the ever so desired homeostasis.

Moderation is the distinguishing characteristic between substance users and substance abusers. Most drinkers do not become alcoholics, and most runners do not become addicted to running. Now think of this. If the runner is compulsively using their activity to cope with unresolved internal conflicts to the extent that he or she keeps injuring their body or destroying their work and family relationships, then they too have fallen victim to addictive behavior. They have become so dependent on the physical ''high'' from their all encompassing running that they cannot concern themselves with the difficulties it is causing.

Using substances is unfortunately all to common in the US as well as other parts of the world. Substance use is usually comorbid, it occurs simultaneously with another condition, with  mental health difficulties. Because of this fact and because of the inherent physically addictive quality of substances, substance use, alcohol for example, increases steadily over time and feeds into the existing mental health condition, making it worse.

Take a depressed or anxious individual who periodically has a drink of wine here and there. They start to find that drinking the wine helps them to relax so they shift from drinking once every few nights to every night over a period of months or years. Because alcohol is a depressant, they feel more depressed in the following days, and in turn more anxious because depression and anxiety are interlinked in the brain, so they up the ante and drink more than one glass every night. As they keep drinking, they feel sadder and more anxious which leads to more drinking. Drinking becomes a dysfunctional coping strategy. 

It's important to note that the same drug can affect people differently and that drugs fulfill various needs for different people. Seeing common features in compulsive behavior, the National Academy's Committee on Substance Abuse and Habitual Behavior has recently explored dependence on opiates, alcohol, smoking, overeating, gambling, and television watching. Among alcohol abusers, for instance, the academy's report found that research had focused on two types: first, the anxious, depressed neurotic who may drink to kill his psychological pain; second, the unstable antisocial personality who drinks for excitement or sensation-seeking. 

The report found that there are two types of substance users. The first type is the anxious, depressed neurotic who may drink to kill his psychological pain. The second type is the unstable antisocial personality who drinks for excitement or sensation-seeking. Interestingly enough, the two types show resemblances to each other, including tendencies to depression, dependent behavior and difficulty in formulating long-term personal goals because of a concentration on short-term goals. 

The study also found that people in all addiction categories progressively need greater quantities of stimulation to satisfy their needs and develop symptoms of withdrawal when deprived of the addictive activity. He also noted that addicts to one activity would often switch to another when deprived of opportunity to participate in the original addiction.

Although no one can say with certainty which kind of family is most likely to produce an addict, many mental health experts have strong views on the subject. For instance, Leon Wurmser, a psychiatry professor and former director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, notes that the potentially addictive child may well have been physically abused by parents, who are often themselves dependent on drugs or alcohol. He notes that the child has often been lied to, shamed and humiliated by parents who act in a highly inconsistent manner. They found that in these families, the mother may support something that the father strongly disapproves, or a parent may tell the child one thing today and the opposite tomorrow. It seems that inconsistent parental behavior shapes many addictive persons.

Mental health professionals find that addictive adults who have substance abuse problems have experienced some combination of excesses or inconsistencies of deprivation or overindulgence in early life. There are often shifts from too much to too little love, protection, or discipline. These individuals also experience frequent instances of marked swings from unrealistic praise to destructive hypercritical behavior.

Many personality traits are generally accepted as common to alcoholics and can mostly be generalized to substance users as well. Of course, having these traits doesn't necessarily mean that a person will become an alcoholic or any other kind of addict, but go through the checklist below if you're curious. If you have about half of the traits, about 18-20, it may be time to reevaluate your coping strategies in life. Many of the below traits overlap with feelings of depression and anxiety. There is help no matter what uncomfortable symptoms you are experiencing. 

Click here for a great article from the researchers at UCLA on how to help a loved one who is struggling with addiction.

There is hope for change. For as long as you are alive, you can live more functionally and with more happiness. All you have to do is try. Sometimes it is really hard to think that not using substances can bring happiness, but believe me, there is another side to the difficulties after the withdrawal symptoms subside and you are not living your life around an addiction. There is so much else to do with your time. Life does not have to be a struggle.

If you think you may be having some difficulty with substance use, you might want to consider asking a loved one to go through this list for you after you check it out and see how many of the traits they think you may have. It is often interesting to see how other people experience you.

  1. Idealistic - Truly believes that, not only is the "ideal" world possible, but that it "should be." They see everyone joined together as one united family. However, they often feel disillusioned and disheartened when the world fails to live up to their Utopian ideals.
  2. Feelings of Being Lost & Alone in a cold harsh world.
  3. Lacking a sense of belonging and feelings of self-worth. Life lacks luster and joy.
  4. Inadequacy - Never feels "good enough."
  5. Hypersensitive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Feels things much deeper than most. Takes things very personally. Deeply affected by other peoples E-motions as well as any variety of other environmental influences -- most notably negative and/or toxic ones.
  6. Perfectionist standards.
  7. There is a "Right Way" and that's my way! Tendencies toward all-or-nothing, black-or-white thinking.
  8. Low Frustration and Tolerance Levels - Easily upset and knocked off balance.
  9. Lives on "The Edge" - Often engages is risky behaviors. Thrill seeker. Adrenaline junky. Seems to be "hell bent" in stuck in a "self-destructive" mode.
  10. Fear-Full -Tends to worry a lot. Anxious, agitated, and afraid of what negative or pain-Full live event may be coming their way next.
  11. Impulsive and Compulsive - This is key to an abuser's way of life. They often act out before really thinking things through. Consequences aren't as important as ingesting the substance. Impulsivity and compulsivity can also trickle into other day to day activities.
  12. Defiant - Doesn't like being "told what to do."
  13. Thwarts Authority and rebels against "the status quo."
  14. Non-Conformist - Always seems to "march to the beat of a different drum. "
  15. "Different" - Just doesn't seem to "fit in." Not "like the rest."
  16. Difficulty Keeping Promises - Isn't able to pull through on simple promises like returning phone calls or attending prearranged dates.
  17. Irresponsible - Often does not take responsibility for actions however insignificant it may seem to others.
  18. Makes others feel responsible - Users can oftentimes turn the tables and make their loved ones and others in their lives feel that it is them who has done wrong. This can lead to the other person being very dependent and caught up in a cycle of abuse with the user.
  19. Arrogant - Can come off as quite condescending and "full of it" as times.
  20. Angry - Has an explosive temper. Volatile E-motions and often acts out in violent ways.
  21. Resentful of, oh, so many people... Carries a long list of resentments towards all people who have let them down and hurt them "along the way."
  22. Unable to Forgive - Unable to let go of all the negative things that have happened to them, or the negative feelings they carry inside. Just can't seem to accept people, place, things, and situations as they are.
  23. Restless, Irritable, Discontent - Life is a painful, unpleasant journey for them.
  24. Self-Blame - Deep down inside, blames her/his self for "everything" that's gone wrong.
  25. Demanding - I want what I want and I want it NOW!
  26. Dependent on others to do for them what they cannot seem to do for themselves.
  27. Defensive - Very guarded and protective of their inner most feelings.
  28. Inside World Is Not Congruent With Outside Self - What they feel on the inside is often not who they portray themselves to be on the outside.
  29. People Please in order to keep the focus off themselves and get people to like them.
  30. Grandiose at times. Putting on a big show. "The life of the party." "Drama Queen!" "Big man in town!"
  31. Chameleon - Easily change their persona to match the people and circumstances that surround them. Can "blend right in."
  32. Vegetative States - Users often feel their best when they are not productive. They find the most calm when they can shut off everything in their bodies and minds as opposed to creating physical movement for themselves and addressing the difficult thoughts that they are avoiding.
  33. Compulsive Liar - Have often lost conscious contact with "The Truth."
  34. Complainers - Highly critical of others and themselves. Very negative in their overall assessments of life. Often their "own worst enemy."
  35. Fear Failure and Success and as such, often remain "stuck" where they are. Feel like they "can't win."
  36. Withdrawn socially isolated and alone. Even if with others, not really connected. Can't really be "reached." Nobody seems to know what's really going on with them.
  37. Feels Apart From Instead of A Part Of - Separate and alone.
  38. Lost & Tortured Soul wondering through life in "the land of the living dead."
  39. Not Love-Able - Unable to love him or herself or to receive love from others.
  40. Uses Alcohol to "Escape" or numb-out the pain-FULL experiences of life and fill themselves up with "spirits."

If you would like to learn more about making changes in your life or how to deal with a substance user in your life, feel free to contact me and we can discuss further. 

Time Ins Instead of Time Outs

I love this latest article in TIME magazine drawn from the new book out this month by Dr. Dan Siegel and Tina Bryson, No Drama Discipline. Who would have thought that time outs could change the way your child's brain wires itself? And in a detrimental way at that.

Some ways of parenting have become antiquated over the last couple decades due to the extensive research that is going on in neuroscience and parenting styles. Staying up to date with what has changed and shifted in our belief system is critical in raising a child who will have to contend with society long after we adults are gone to help them walk through life. One of my favorite sayings is that we're not raising children, we are raising adults. 

Dr. Siegel and Tina's newest book is a must read for any parent or parent to be. Check it out on amazon.com by clicking here. This book is also available on audiobook for all you busy parents out there.

 

 

Read the full article below:

"In a brain scan, relational pain—that caused by isolation during punishment—can look the same as physical abuse. Is alone in the corner the best place for your child? 

Time-out is the most popular discipline technique used by parents and the one most often recommended by pediatricians and child development experts. But is it good for kids? Is it effective? Not according to the implications of the latest research on relationships and the developing brain.

Studies in neuroplasticity—the brain’s adaptability—have proved that repeated experiences actuallychange the physical structure of the brain. Since discipline-related interactions between children and caregivers comprise a large amount of childhood experiences, it becomes vital that parents thoughtfully consider how they respond when kids misbehave. Discipline is about teaching – not about punishment – and finding ways to teach children appropriate behavior is essential for healthy development.

So what about time-outs? In most cases, the primary experience a time-out offers a child is isolation. Even when presented in a patient and loving manner, time-outs teach them that when they make a mistake, or when they are having a hard time, they will be forced to be by themselves—a lesson that is often experienced, particularly by young children, as rejection. Further, it communicates to kids, “I’m only interested in being with you and being there for you when you’ve got it all together.”

The problem is, children have a profound need for connection. Decades of research in attachment demonstrate that particularly in times of distress, we need to be near and be soothed by the people who care for us. But when children lose emotional control, parents often put them in their room or by themselves in the “naughty chair,” meaning that in this moment of emotional distress they have to suffer alone.

When children are overtaxed emotionally, they sometimes misbehave; their intense emotions and the demands of the situation trump their internal resources. The expression of a need or a big feeling therefore results in aggressive, disrespectful, or uncooperative behavior—which is simply proof that children haven’t built certain self-regulation skills yet. Misbehavior is often a cry for help calming down, and a bid for connection.

When the parental response is to isolate the child, an instinctual psychological need of the child goes unmet. In fact, brain imaging shows that the experience of relational pain—like that caused by rejection—looks very similar to the experience of physical pain in terms of brain activity.

On top of everything, time-outs are usually ineffective in accomplishing the goals of discipline: to change behavior and build skills. Parents may think that time-outs cause children to calm down and reflect on their behavior. But instead, time-outs frequently make children angrier and more dysregulated, leaving them even less able to control themselves or think about what they’ve done, and more focused on how mean their parents are to have punished them.

When children concentrate on their horrible luck to have such a mean, unfair mom or dad, they miss out on an opportunity to build insight, empathy, and problem-solving skills. Putting them in time-out deprives them of an opportunity to build skills that other types of discipline could focus on. Setting clear limits while emphasizing collaboration, conversation, and respect gives kids a chance to practice being active, empathic decision makers who are empowered to figure things out on their own.

Next time the need for discipline arises, parents might consider a “time-in”: forging a loving connection, such as sitting with the child and talking or comforting. Some time to calm down can be extremely valuable for children, teaching them how to pause and reflect on their behavior. Especially for younger children, such reflection is created in relationship, not in isolation. And all of this will make parenting a whole lot more effective and rewarding in the long run."

From TIME Magazine online: http://time.com/3404701/discipline-time-out-is-not-good/

Parenting Styles, Which One Do You Use?

Today's post is for parents and parents to be. We all used to be children once upon a time and some of us even have our own children today.

Click on the image to read the full article.

Click on the image to read the full article.

Knowing how the different parenting styles effect a child's responses and ways of being as they grow older can give us insight into how our own behavior can be mindfully modified to provide any child with the most opportunities to be emotionally healthy and stable so that they live to their full potential in all aspects of their life. Read on for the details of the article that can be found by clicking on the image above....

"Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and ability to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships. For parents, this quality of “emotional intelligence” means being aware of your child’s feelings, and being able to empathize, soothe, and guide them.

When it comes to raising children, what parental behaviors make the difference? As a research-psychologist studying parent-child interactions, Dr. Gottman has spent much of the past forty years looking for the answer to this question. Working with research teams at the University of Illinois and the University of Washington, his studies involved lengthy interviews with parents, talking about their marriages, their reactions to their children’s emotional experiences, and their own awareness of the role emotion plays in their lives.

The results tell a simple, yet compelling story. We have found that most parents fall into one of two broad categories: those who give their children guidance about the world of emotion and those who don’t. We call parents who get involved with their children’s feelings “Emotion Coaches.” 

 

The Dismissing Parent 

  • Treats child’s feelings as unimportant, trivial 
  • Disengages from or ignores the child’s feelings
  • Wants the child’s negative emotions to disappear quickly
  • Sees the child’s emotions as a demand to fix things
  • Minimizes the child’s feelings, downplaying the events that led to the emotion
  • Does not problem-solve with the child, believes that the passage of time will resolve most problems 

Effects of this style on children: They learn that their feelings are wrong, inappropriate, not valid. They may learn that there is something inherently wrong with them because of the way they feel. They may have difficulty regulating their own emotions. 



The Disapproving Parent 

  • Displays many of the Dismissing Parent’s behaviors, but in a more negative way 
  • Judges and criticizes the child’s emotional expression
  • Emphasizes conformity to good standards of behavior 
  • Believes negative emotions need to be controlled 
  • Believes emotions make people weak; children must be emotionally tough for survival 
  • Believes negative emotions are unproductive, a waste of time

Effects of this style on children: Same as the Dissaproving style.

 

The Laissez-Faire Parent

  • Freely accepts all emotional expression from the child 
  • Offers little guidance on behavior
  • Does not set limits
  • Believes there is little you can do about negative emotions other than ride them out
  • Does not help child solve problems 
  • Believes that managing negative emotions is a matter of hydraulics, release the emotion and the work is done 

Effects of this style on children: They don’t learn to regulate their emotions. They have trouble concentrating, forming friendships, and getting along with other children. 
 


The Emotion Coach

  • Values the child’s negative emotions as an opportunity for intimacy
  • Is aware of and values her or her own emotions
  • Sees the world of negative emotions as an important arena for parenting 
  • Does not poke fun at or make light of the child’s negative feelings
  • Does not say how the child should feel 
  • Uses emotional moments as a time to listen to the child, empathize with soothing words and affection, help the child label the emotion he or she is feeling, offer guidance on regulating emotions, set limits and teach acceptable expression of emotions, and teach problem-solving skills 

Effects of this style on children: They learn to trust their feelings, regulate their own emotions, and solve problems. They have a high self-esteem, learn well, and get alone well with others. 

 

The concept of Emotion Coaching is a simple one that’s rooted in our deepest feelings of love and empathy for our children. Unfortunately, however, Emotion Coaching doesn’t come naturally to all parents. Rather, Emotion Coaching is an art that requires emotional awareness and a specific set of listening and problem-solving behaviors – behaviors Dr. Gottman and his colleagues identified and analyzed in their observation of healthy, well-functioning families. The path to becoming a better parent, like almost every road to personal growth, begins with self-examination. On Friday, we will share an assessment to help you determine what style of parent you are."

Information from Dr. John Gottman's article which can be found by clicking here.

Smoking Weed, Grass, Pot, Marijuana, Chronic, Herb, Refer

Did you know that smoking weed actually creates more anxiety in the long run? Did you know that it takes about 3 months to get cannabis out of your system?  Watch this video below to learn about how smoking weed effects who you are as a person over your life span. 

Check out the video below to learn more about the brain science of smoking weed, simplified...

And lastly, I know pretty much all smokers are aware that smoking is bad for your health, but I thought this was a cool video that really drives the point home.

What's your cocktail of choice?

This week, I wanted to dedicate my blog posts to commonly used substances in the US. Having more information about how our brain is effected by things we ingest may help bring a different understanding as to why certain substances are craved or needed in larger quantities over time when our body builds a tolerance to them.

Watch these quick informational videos and think about what your cocktail of choice is. What substance do you find yourself using to subdue the effects of another substance?

Did you know that alcohol is the only substance from which a person can die from the withdrawal effects?!! Failure to manage the alcohol withdrawal syndrome appropriately can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Be sure to check yourself into a rehab for professional care and monitoring if you have alcoholism and would like to quit. If this is how alcohol is affecting your body, you might want to start thinking about why you are drinking it in the first place.

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include but are not limited to the list below. They unfortunately lead to a desire to drink again so as to relieve the expression of your body telling you it doesn't like what you're putting into it...

  • Shaky hands
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia

Many people, when using alcohol the day before, need lots of coffee the following morning to ease into the day in an attempt to maintain a natural flow to life. What would it be like if alcohol intake and coffee intake were reduced?

Being conscious of what you're ingesting can help you tune into what your body is telling you about what it needs. Taking a permanent break off substances can change the way your body physically and emotionally functions. Our body is the tool by which we exist. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

Emotional Energy

In a world of constant external stimulation, it's no wonder that our inner worlds get overwhelmed and want to shut down. The environment we surround ourselves with is so important in bringing peace to our lives. When we lose our sense of peace, other unwanted feelings such as anxiety, sadness, or anger can take over to the point where we are not functioning at our best potential. Shutting down can come in the form of emotional distress, physical ailments, or a feeling of disconnect with loved ones. 

Some ways that emotional energy can be used effectively to clear the way for a more serene existence are as follows...

Listen to your inner voice. These gentle whispers can be trusted beyond how others try to guide you to. If you're hearing the word 'should' often, try to rephrase those ideas around your wants and needs instead.

Confront your feelings with the thought in mind that no matter what, it's just a feeling and it will inevitably pass. I promise. Stuffing your feelings does nothing for your well-being. Consider taking action instead of dwelling on feelings that you are experiencing difficulty with. Sometimes getting stuck in the cycle of overwhelm can bring you to a standstill. Working through the cycle and seeing it as having a beginning and an end can help you see the situation more clearly. Resolve dormant pains that have been passively floating through your mindspace so as to make way for clarity.

Instead of staying in dysfunctional relationships so as to avoid being alone, consider spending your energies on self-exploration and growth. People who genuinely love the real you will appear in your life when you reevaluate what you need from close relationships and go out there and get it. Be clear with yourself and others on what you need and find ways to express how you feel. Set good boundaries that are flexible enough to allow the relationship to wax and wean as needed over time.

Learning how to live insightfully is a lifelong process. Take it one moment at a time.

 

Creating Love

I read all kinds of articles and books on love and I've come to genuinely believe that creating the love you want in your life is very possible. The first step is definitely to work on yourself and bring a sense of happiness and insight into your own life. Then you can figure out uncomplicated ways to incorporate someone else into your world.

bloglove

I can't emphasize enough how attainable it is for everyone to create the love they want. Understanding the basics of human attachment is an excellent starting point. Everyone essentially wants to be loved. Whether or not they express that to you can provide you with relevant information. There are some people who are not in the space themselves to accept love, from you in particular, or from anyone at all.

Learning how to communicate on a deeper level helps couples or family members find more effective ways of showing and receiving love. When you know how to love yourself, you can teach someone else how to love you as well. When you are with someone who is open to love, they want to know how to learn to love you. If the other person is not open to love, giving and receiving it can be frustrating. If they are willing to address the barriers they have built against giving and receiving love, feel free to set up an appointment with me and we can discuss this further.

If you are fortunate enough to be with someone who has love as a free flowing part of their life, understanding the basics of creating the love you want can be a pivotal point in your relationship. Love isn't as Hollywood portrays it to be. It is actually quite different. Regular people are far from perfect. People aren't photoshopped like you see in magazines. They all have their imperfections that they are usually quite aware of. They may not use perfect grammar as though they are speaking in a Victorian era novel. They wear comfy clothes that aren't always glamorous. There are indeed times when women don't wear makeup and haven't done up their hair. Men may not be able to perform in the bedroom every single time. These little details don't make people any less lovable...they just make them human like the rest of us.

Being in love is a completely subjective experience. The unabridged way you want to be loved is different than anyone else on our planet. It's helpful to figure out what that way is first in order to be able to communicate it to someone else. And yes, you have to communicate it to them. I'm yet to meet a mind reader. Giving your partner this indelible piece of information about you is fundamental in helping them understand how they can show you how much they love you.

By opening up the conversation to what you need, you can begin to explore your partner's inner world as well. Feeling satisfied in how you receive love in a long-term, committed relationship breeds fondness and admiration. It's yet another way you can become a team. Talking about and creating a mutual love in your relationship can establish a more positive, stable, and enduring story of 'us.' The love you want and are able to give will likely evolve as time passes, but by staying mindful of yourself and your relationship, you will be able to maintain a fresh perspective on how to be that best loving and lovable self you will come to hold as sacred.

Go out there and create the love you want.

The Importance of A Good Kiss

Kisses are a universal way of connecting with others. Whether given as a greeting or a signal of parting ways, as a sign of affection to someone you love, or an early indicator of the first rousing of attraction, kisses provide important nonverbal information that isn't always communicated verbally in a relationship.

What's so momentous about the first kiss with a prospective lover? Your visual and auditory senses are activated to bring you into close physical proximity to the person you want to kiss. Research suggests that, via touch, taste, and smell, kisses aid us in evaluating the long-term potential of a partner. Through the saliva, scientists speculate that kisses help us acquire a range of information about a potential mate, such as hormone levels, health, and genetic compatibility. And of course, whether or not we're going to enjoy this person touching us. 

We also learn about basic harmony based on how well we kiss together. Once you kiss, a myriad of chemical reactions in the brain and body are activated. Your internal world is flooded with information about the degree of love you feel for the person you are kissing. If you were to look at your brain on an MRI, you'd see it light up in all different place. Let the fireworks begin!

All this is to say don't ignore what your body, heart, and mind are telling you when you are engaged in an unforgettable kiss. You're learning all kinds of information about the person that can tell you whether you'll find sustained connection and excitement...or not.

Watch the fascinating video above and learn more about the importance of a good kiss. 

Unconditional Love

If there is one thing that just about all human beings have in common, it's the desire for unconditional love. The essence of true and pure love is the unconditional aspect of it. This type of love is sought after but not always received. When it's not received, people can feel sadness, hurt, anxiety, anger, or one of the many other feelings that come with rejection.

The topic of my blog post today is defining unconditional love, discussing how to know when it's real, and providing you with some tools on how to give it.

thelalifecoachlove.jpg

Unconditional love is hard to miss when it's given in its undiluted form. It means that care and consideration is given to the happiness of someone else without concern for what you might get in return. Imagine a life where this was the basic mode of operation for yourself with the people close to you. A mutual exchange of extending yourself, vulnerabilities and all, into unfamiliar emotional terrain with the understanding that regardless of the outcome and of what we may need for ourselves in that moment, we want to ensure the happiness of the other person.

This is not to say that you need to let people cross your boundaries and put you in very uncomfortable positions. Quite the contrary. It's important to unconditionally love yourself first so that you are aware of what is within your range of giving before you take care of other people's love needs. Being aware of the other person's boundaries is also essential so that your love doesn't become intrusive or unwanted. By being attuned to them while maintaining calm, open conversation, you can clearly assess where that balance is. Otherwise, resentment will quickly build and that is an abrupt catalyst for the deterioration of unconditional love. 

So what are some tools to giving unconditional love? Thinking about the person to whom you provide unconditional love to as a human being, just like yourself, that doesn't want to be judged or criticized is one of the first steps in evolving the relationship. By listening to understand them as opposed to listening to respond, correct, or change them, you will provide a space where they can feel safe to be their true self. Accepting your loved one without judging or trying to change them can reveal a whole new world of happiness for them and for the experience of the relationship for both of you. You can only imagine how people 'are' different when they are happy and feel accepted.

Making eye contact is a skill that has begun to go by the wayside since the advent of handheld technological devices. Really attending to whomever you're around with your full attention is an art form that is worth cultivating. Listening with not only your ears, but also with your eyes is one way of conceptualizing this. One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication is determined by nonverbal cues. Knowing this, you can genuinely and insightfully listen while learning to understand what is really going on for your loved one.

Showing that you care through carefully thought through comments and questions is another tool that takes time to master. Sometimes people need consolation, sometimes they need you to share in their excitement. Whatever the case may be, putting aside your own mood, needs, and expectations for the moment can allow you to connect on a much deeper level with the person you love. 

The importance of having these tools is that when you can open yourself up and give a type of love that doesn't have any strings attached, the receivers of your love will respond and behave differently towards you. There is usually a transitionary period when this type of love is introduced where the person receiving it needs to 'test the waters' to be sure that the love is authentic, consistent, and indefinite. Once this transitionary period wanes, trust is built and the reciprocation of unconditional love will likely follow. 

I have briefly identified some of the ideas and tools related to unconditional love, but there are many more. Get creative and see if you can come up with some ways to practice this and see what feelings it brings up for you.

Consider choosing someone in your life with whom you would like to try this out with and see how it goes. Talk about the idea of unconditional love and let them know where you stand from here on out. Again, remember that there is a transitionary period, but once you are on the other side of your hard but fruitful work, you will likely find that loving unconditionally will become your automatic mode of operation with that person...and you may be pleasantly surprised that you will start to receive it back.

If it works, consider extending the circle of people you unconditionally love to all the people you are close to in your life, and then who knows, maybe include all people you ever come into contact with. Small interaction changes can have huge ripple effects on how people in the world interact. It starts with unconditionally loving a newborn to accepting your peers, and most importantly yourself, as who they are, flaws and all throughout their lifespan.