10 Secrets to Express Yourself With Confidence

For too many years you have suffered from a bad case of “approval-seeking.” You were desperate for validation from others. You never wanted to risk stating how you felt about things for fear that it would rock the boat and cause conflict.

As a result, You saw myself as a victim of others’ mistreatment or neglect, when the truth was that you were really just a victim of your own fear: YOU WERE AFRAID TO BE YOU. Living your life dependent on the opinion of others will be your prescription for inner turmoil, depression, addiction, and chaos.

Learning to value your own opinions and desires have a ripple effect through every area of your life: You’re free to be yourself, and in turn you can allow others to be whomever and however they choose to be.

Here are some important lessons to remember as you learn to find and express your own inner voice:

1. How you feel and what you need are just as important as the feelings and needs of others. Instead of always dismissing your ideas and feelings as “not that important,” you need to value them and see that you are equal to all others. WHAT YOU FEEL AND THINK IS WORTHY OF BEING HEARD.

2. You will not die from saying how you feel. At one time I believed that either I would die, or others would die from hearing my honest feelings and opinions (I am not talking about being hurtful.) Only by practicing speaking up have I learned that this is not the case at all. Not only did I not die, I have become empowered.

3. You will not die if someone disagrees with your decisions. I thought I would crumble without the approval of others, but when I was willing to feel the initial uncomfortable feelings I experienced when others did not agree with or like my decisions, I got stronger and the fear of such feelings got weaker.

4. When you follow your own heart, people around you may at first be uncomfortable, but THEY ADJUST! It amazed me that no matter how threatened others were with the “new me,” when I persisted in doing what was right for me, they eventually settled down and got used to my new ways; in fact, they even respected me for them!

5. By being true to yourself, and thriving on account of it, you are setting an example that will inspire others to step out and make changes. Your gift to yourself of changing is also a gift to others.

6. It is no one’s responsibility to read you mind. YOU MUST SPEAK UP! You can’t blame others for not doing it “your way” when you are not even willing to express yourself and what you want! Change means letting go of the games of pouting and making others feel bad for not reading your mind. I no longer feel “misunderstood,” because I speak up and give others an opportunity to understand me!

7. Resentments come from not speaking up and being heard. Resentments erode your soul and your health. Discuss your feelings until you feel resolved and then MOVE ON.

8. Practice listening to others. I was so busy obsessing about my own feelings, what I wanted to say, and how others would receive me that I did not pay close attention to the ideas and feelings of others. When I put aside thoughts about me, and truly listened to others, I found that others began to truly listen to me!

9. “Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.” The tendency for people who are afraid of being honest and forthright is to build up so much fear and resentment, that they blurt out their feelings, often offending others with the force of their delivery. Practice saying what you mean in a direct way, with kindness and respect.

10. Give yourself permission to be awkward as you begin to speak up. This is not an easy transition to make. Know that at first you may stumble over your words, you may not get your point across, and that others may not like your speaking up. Just because others may not agree with what you say does not mean that your beliefs are wrong. Don’t apologize for your opinion: “This may be a stupid thing to say, but…” Or, after they express a difference of opinion, don’t backpedal by saying, “You’re right, I’m wrong; I don’t know what I was thinking.” HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH! Everyone respects people who risk being the minority voice. And you will be surprised to find that often others will join you and you will become the majority voice.

Self-esteem comes from taking risks and being YOU, not from the approval of others. So speak up, and notice how many people begin to listen up!

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Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Confidence & Self Esteem, Self Help


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The 3 Biggest Mistakes Couples Make To Kill The Passion

Passion is energizing and inspiring, a great big wonderful “YES!” that fills life with a sense of greatness and purpose. When you have passion, life is fun and juicy.

In relationship, passion is a deeply affirmative force. When there’s passion–for one another, for spending time together, for making love–you feel loved, accepted, cherished and desired. You feel on top of the world and you love it!

Every relationship has a honeymoon phase that’s filled with passion. You’re absolutely crazy about each other. You can’t get enough of one another. You gaze into each other’s eyes as you plan romantic dates and getaways. The relationship is fun, exciting, full of magic and . . . hot!

The months and years go by, though, and the delight and deliciousness fades into the background of everyday life.

If you and your partner are making any of these 3 critical mistakes, passion doesn’t stand a chance.

Evaluation Quiz:

1. Has life become so busy and demanding that there is no time or energy for lovemaking?

2. Are the male/female differences that once drew you together now driving you crazy?

3. Do you judge your partner (and/or yourself) too often?

If you answered even one “yes,” read on.

MISTAKE #1: Don’t Have Time/Energy for Love

A strong, fulfilling love relationship is one life’s most precious gifts. It reduces stress, keeps you healthy, lifts your spirits, energizes and boosts confidence. It creates a happy, harmonious atmosphere at home for your children as well.

We all want that, right? But often in the race to keep up with daily life, intimacy with our mate falls to the bottom of our to-do list. Something to enjoy when we can squeeze in the time, and rally the energy.

A relationship is like a beautiful garden. It needs love and attention to continue to grow and flourish. Without regular, nurturing attention, weeds (aka, resentments) creep in, and love becomes a sad memory of what it once was.

TIP #1: Invest in Your Relationship

You invest in your retirement portfolio. You invest in your home. Why wouldn’t you invest in your most valuable asset–your love life? It’s easy. Schedule regular love-investment activities.

Life is so busy we need to schedule important events in our day planners to make sure we remember to show up. Lovemaking isn’t any different. Keep a standing date for intimacy. Write it down. And keep going on fun dates, too. If they’re gone from your life, the chemistry and excitement you knew in the early days will disappear, too.

Great lovemaking is about feeling connected to your partner, outside the bedroom as well as in. Find those moments when you can be lovingly present together, no matter how briefly. Consider creating “magic moments”–in the morning when you first wake up, before you head out for the day, when you arrive home, before going to bed. Make it a ritual you both look forward to. Look into each other’s eyes as you say “I love you.” Leave a surprise note in your partner’s briefcase or handbag. Send a flirtatious email, or a naughty text message. Greet your partner with a hug that lasts long enough to slow down and really feel each other’s presence. Whatever feels right–just don’t let a day go by without recognizing the gift that you are in each other’s life.

MISTAKE #2: Not Appreciating the Differences Between the Sexes

The sexual polarity between you and your mate is the attractive force that originally brought you together. And that same polarity later drives couples crazy, and drives them apart. He wants sex; she wants to cuddle. She wants pillow talk; he wants some ZZZs.

For women, sexual desire does not begin with a desire for sex. Rather, it evolves out of an experience of emotional closeness and intimacy. For men, typically, the reverse is true. Desire begins with a craving for sex and then evolves into greater depth of emotional intimacy. These two different sexual tracks are responsible for much of the relationship tension, sexual frustration, and lack of fulfillment that couples experience.

TIP #2: Learn to Understand and Appreciate Masculine and Feminine

The differences between the sexes remain a source of conflict only when those differences are misunderstood or unappreciated.

Ultimately, men and women want the same things–to feel loved, safe, desired, fulfilled, and totally turned on! What men and women need to feel that way can be very different. One of the biggest mistakes in bed is giving to your partner what you might want yourself. Often, that is the opposite of what will work.

When a man knows that touching his woman’s heart is the key to igniting her passion, and sees the positive results of his actions, he will be much more likely to find the pleasure in surprising her with flowers, or asking how her day went–and really listening. Conversely, when a woman realizes that the path to her man’s heart is through his loins, she is more likely to delight in treating him to sexy play that she initiates.

Understanding and appreciating how sex is different for men and women goes a long way towards building relationship harmony and inspiring passionate desire!

But remember, each man and each woman is an individual. There is no “normal” and no “usual.” You have to discover the specific way to touch your partner’s heart.

MISTAKE #3: Judging and Criticizing

It’s human nature to evaluate, compare, contrast, judge and criticize. We all do it all the time.

“Why can’t you remember to leave the toilet seat down?”

“You used to get dressed up for me.”

“Can’t you just hold me without always wanting sex?”

Judgment is often so automatic that we’re often not even aware of it. It can show up as criticism, conflict, resentment, anger, bitterness, self-doubt, comparison, shame, guilt, depression and dissatisfaction. And these feelings can become chronic.

Judgment is negation. It is the opposite of love, which is acceptance. In intimate relationship, the “NO” of judgment undermines our ability to tap into the “YES” of love and passion. They literally cancel each other out.

What can we do?

TIP #3: Acknowledge and Appreciate

While nothing kills passion faster than judgment and criticism, nothing builds passion faster than acknowledgment and appreciation.

“I love it when you rub my shoulders.”

“Your laughter is one of my favorite sounds in the world.”

“It was really great that you cooked dinner tonight. Thank you.”

Become mindful of any tendencies to judge and criticize, and refocus your attention to something you appreciate about your partner. Find opportunities to offer heartfelt compliments. Look for even simple opportunities to express appreciation.

“Thanks for holding the door for me.”

Scientists at the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, Washington discovered a mathematical model that predicts with 94% accuracy which marriages will end in divorce. They found that happy couples have at least a 5:1 ratio between positive interactions and negative interactions. For every one criticism or negative comment, there were at least five compliments. That’s the magic ratio. With 5 to 1 odds, passion wins.


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Getting Things Done

Have you ever heard anyone say “There’s just not enough time to get everything done?” “The world is just going so fast.” “Technology is making life so hard.” “The faster I go the behind I get.” The rate of change we are experiencing today does make it seem like the world is going faster. But we can deal with this and get things done if we will set some priorities.

A priority is a choice. Every time you choose to do one thing before another in your life you’re establishing priorities. One activity has been assigned greater importance than another activity. Your priorities should be to do those things that will lead you to the accomplishment of your goals. Many people do a lot of things, work hard, and still don’t accomplish their goals. They don’t have an objective, organized, common sense understanding of how what we do today relates to tomorrow, next week, next year or what they want in life. If you want to be sure to achieve your goals, you must work backward from the desired achievement. In order to do this, I will first have to do that. Before I do that, I must do this. Go all the way back to where you are right now. What do you need to do now?

What we do or don’t get done is a result of our habits…many of which began in childhood and have carried on with us throughout the rest of our lives. Some are beneficial; others are destructive.

If you are going to get things done, you must uncover your bad habits, break them, and replace them with success habits. Some of the questions you might want to ask yourself are:

• What are my bad habits? For the next few days, keep your eyes open for those repeated activities that waste time and are unproductive. When you identify these, you are one step closer to breaking them.

• Why do I do it? The answer is usually obvious. Look for reasons like convenience, the social aspect of it, or just because you’ve always done it that way.

• Why do I want to change? You may need more time to accomplish something. You may want to have more time to do other things or participate in more important activities.

Remind yourself that destructive activities are keeping you from doing what you want to do. Also, remind yourself why you’re doing it and why you’d like to change.

Once you know what the problem is, it’s time to form new productive habits. There are three similar questions that are the key:

• What good habits do I want to develop? Whatever the desired activity, it should be placed in the center of your consciousness.

• Why do I want to do it? Will it lead to greater productivity, more efficiency, a healthier, stronger body, or more leisure time?

• Why do I want to change? Are there things you would like to do or learn? Would you like to go somewhere that you haven’t been? Would you like more quality time with your family and friends?

Repeating these three good habit questions every day could convince you that it’s time to take action and get things done!

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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in Self Help


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The Meaning Of Inner Peace And Steps to Achieving it in Daily Life

Do you find that your life is filled with stress? Does it seem as if there is always something happening that encompasses your entire attention, and therefore drains positive or high-vibrational energy?

As our society grows more and more complex, finding true inner peace becomes more like trying to find an oasis in the desert. So I thought it might be helpful to share with you some of the methods that I use in my life to experience inner peace and disconnect from my hectic daily routine.

Accept what is
There is only so much we can affect. What we cannot change, what we cannot influence, need not concern us. What I have noticed with so many people is that they focus and linger on things they have no control over. The point here is why worry about something that all the worrying in the world will not change? Why care about what other people think of us when we’re not even sure what it is they are actually thinking?

Quieting the mind
Meditation is great way of quieting the mind and it’s a very important activity that can change your life. However, not everyone wants to meditate or knows how to do it. Meditating for just 10 minutes a day can have an enormous impact in all areas of your life. If you have a lot on your mind and feel as if your thoughts are driving you crazy, meditation can help you find inner peace. To quiet the mind simply close everything, sit back, shut your eyes and clear your mind of every single thought. Focus on the emptiness. You will be surprised what a mere 10 minutes of quieting the mind can do to turn things around for you.

Spend time in nature
We spend so much time confined in buildings either at work or at home that we have forgotten where we come from. It is natural for us to be in nature, and this is why it feels so good and it is so peaceful when you take a walk in a park, cycle on a trail in the forest or stand watching the waves roll in at the beach. Watching is stillness, observing nature nurtures us. We naturally attune to the rhythm of the seasons and the vibration of mother earth.

Learn the power of a smile
Whenever you laugh or smile, something happens on a chemical level to make you feel better, and stress and negativity are prevented from entering your psyche. Laughter yoga is a brilliant tool to use as a pattern interrupt.

A simple smile can make such a difference. You quickly realize that peace finds its way much more easily to you when you smile and take yourself lightly.

See the BIG picture
We are so consumed within our own problems that we can no longer see the wood from the trees. It’s helpful to remind ourselves how big the world is. Take a moment and read up about some other countries, cultures or religions. Be aware that the world does not revolve around your problems. On hearing about a tsunami or an earthquake killing thousands of people it puts my small cares and worries into perspective. My problems aren’t really “problems”. Looking beyond ourselves is very important in finding inner peace.

Care about others, but don’t become a rescuer
Inner peace is hard to find when being self-consumed and only worrying about your own needs and wants. When you begin to genuinely care about other people, miracles happen. However, choose to be empathetic, not compassionate.

Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and treating them as you would wish to be treated. It brings with it infinite patience and grace. Compassion can easily turn into rescuer behavior; it’s insidious and can lead to trying to fix someone, which apart from being the height of arrogance, can also distract you from your own inner peace.

An act of random kindness and goodwill allows you to ease your way towards inner peace.

Embrace hope
Hope is what lightens your life. With hope you always have a path towards inner peace. Whenever we get stressed out and overwhelmed within our own life, we forget that hope. We forget that the sun always shines after a rainy day, and that this is merely a bump in the road. With hope, I know that whatever is seemingly terrible is only temporary and that soon enough, things will be just great. This lifts off all of that negativity and gross vibrational energy from my entire being, and I feel in tune instantly.

Discover your beliefs, values and standards
I don’t favor one belief system over another, so whatever it is that you believe in, embrace it with your entire being. Be within your faith/belief 100 per cent and inner peace will find its way into your heart. We may all disagree on each other’s belief system, and that’s OK. However, one thing we need to agree on is that having a solid, healthy faith is the best way to build a conscience that helps to guide us towards inner peace and wisdom. Research has shown that people who are deeply devoted to their faith have a higher life expectancy and are less likely to have diseases such as cancer. This is because they experience more inner peace, which is important if you want to improve the quality of your life.

Commit to yourself
One thing that provides us with much stress in life is the fact that we always worry about not having all the answers. Just accepting that you do not know everything and that you are open to perpetual learning is a tremendous step to take towards achieving inner peace. I find great joy in learning all kinds of things, and just being aware that I am growing as a person each and every day provides me with great feelings of inner peace. Accept that life is one big journey of never-ending learning and you will find yourself closer to experiencing true inner peace.

Live in the here and now
Most of the time, what we worry about is relating to something either in the past, or something that hasn’t happened. Living in the here and now erases all such thoughts. Why worry about something in the past that we cannot change? Why worry about something that we are not even sure will happen or not?

Breathing is the only function in the human body that is done either completely unconsciously or completely consciously. It can be a voluntary or involuntary act and thus it is governed by two distinct sets of muscles and nerves, depending on which mode is in use – the involuntary nerves and muscles or the voluntary.

Each set of muscles and nerves can fully drive and manage the system. Therefore the breath has this phenomenal, unique characteristic that enables it to affect the involuntary nervous system. It is the only function in the human body that has this ability.

I am positive that this article can help you find your inner peace. If you require more wisdom and reading on the subject, I highly recommend The Path to Tranquillity by the Dalai Lama.

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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Making Life Better


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Expert Q&A: Grudges and Forgiveness

If you’re like me, you find forgiveness a difficult prospect. Big questions such as “When is it too late to ask for an apology?”, “Is forgiveness necessary for personal and spiritual growth?”, and “Should someone apologize for being truthful?” complicate the process.

Of course, most of us do not hold grudges and ask for apologies on such a grand scale. Yet, we certainly can tell stories about the rifts in our families. For example, brothers don’t speak to brothers because business ventures went belly up. Or, siblings squabble over inheritances. Even worse, families break up when they take sides over the guilt or innocence of an abusing parent.

The offended and the offenders present compelling explanations, but the offended are often the ones who feel that they are left holding the hot potato question: Should I forgive-or forgive, forget or forsake the relationship forever. My clients suffer long-term anguish over this dilemma.

Most religions promote forgiveness. The message is that forgiveness heals wounds, brings people together, allows for human error and advances each party’s emotional and spiritual growth.

As you read this, you might be pondering whether to forgive your mother, sibling or colleague. And, like most people, you might also be feeling a mix of guilt and outrage at the same time. I wish I could give you a definitive answer about what to do. Even in my profession of mental health, there is division about the better approach. In my many years of counseling people, I’ve seen leaps in personal and family growth occur from both positions. The best I can offer is this guide. Ultimately, you must decide, based on your circumstances and religious beliefs, whether to forgive or not.

Grudge Guide: To Forgive or Not to Forgive

1. There can actually be benefits of holding a grudge and withholding forgiveness. If you are the kind of person who rarely speaks up or who always thinks that he or she is usually wrong or undeserving, then holding a grudge can forge a new way of thinking about others and their responsibility for a given situation. For example, you might find some untapped strength in yourself. Use your “grudge time” to review the situation. Talk about it with others, including counseling or religious professionals. Test your viewpoint.

Ask yourself: What lesson have I learned about not speaking my mind? Why do I let others disrespect me?

2. Get a perspective. The feeling that someone has done you wrong may be justified, but just because you feel something doesn’t mean your behavior has to match your feelings. We make similar assessments all the time. For example, wise parents know to pick their battles with their teenager. If the hurt is deeper, then think about how you want to handle it. Here are some steps to take after you’ve got a more level head.

Ask yourself: Did I contribute to this problem? Why did this person do what they did? If you aren’t sure about what happened, tell the story to a trusted friend, partner, counselor or religious leader. Write out the incident and see what emerges. Sometimes, the act of writing can yield surprises.

3. Consider your position temporary. People grow and change. Hindsight, time and a fresh view, for instance, might soften your previous stance. You don’t have to maintain your old view. There’s no point or benefit of holding a grudge for the sake of being angry. Don’t hold onto to past hurts in order to protect and justify your actions or feelings.

4. Develop a strategy. Forgiveness is a very personal decision, and few situations are identical. Here a few of the approaches that worked for my clients.

Identify your religious beliefs. For example, some people believe that forgiveness, rather than diminishing your sense of self-worth, actually enhances it. Forgiveness, in their eyes, is a higher order of human relating. There is a famous story about a family in Italy who encountered bandits who robbed them and murdered family members. The parents forgave the robbers–and even donated an organ to save one of their lives.

Decide whether this person or issue is important enough for you to “open that can of worms.”
Weigh the pros and cons of discussing the issue. Decide whether you still want a relationship with this person. Confronting the person can end in several outcomes: It might end the relationship, solidify your negative assessment of the offender, leave you without a resolution or foster a better relationship and help the person to grow.

Think about how you might change your interactions. For example, some people limit or shorten their visits. Other people decide to “step back” in their hearts and choose to continue the relationship but not be as close.

Discuss the issue with the offender and offer this person the opportunity to change or apologize. Ask the offender: How would you feel if I did the same thing to you? What would you do about it? Often, the person’s response will guide you.

5. Don’t be afraid to open old but serious wounds that you haven’t acted on. Sometimes we look back and can’t figure out why we never dealt with an issue; however, delayed action is not necessarily unwise behavior. Sometimes, people are not even aware that someone has actually hurt them!

Battered women, for example, may come to the realization that they are not the cause of the battering until later. Battered women are often too willing to offer forgiveness to their abusers and not expect or ask for change in the abuser’s behavior. Years later–and perhaps many counseling hours later, the woman sees the light and is finally able to be angry.

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Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Making Life Better


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Are You Emotionally Dependent?

Discover the difference between needs coming from emotional dependency and authentic needs that we have within a relationship.

Every few weeks I do a free webinar. People can listen on their computers or on the phone; they can write in asking questions or they can ask me directly on the phone. Here is one of the questions a woman — I will call her Susan – asked in a webinar on emotional dependency:

“When we are in a relationship and we have made our needs clear to our partner, is hanging on in the hope they will follow through with promises to meet our needs a sign of emotional dependency?”

The answer is — it depends on what needs you are taking about. There are some needs we have that can only be met by another person, and there are other needs that we need to learn to meet ourselves.

‘Needs’ Coming From Emotional Dependency

“I need your attention.”
“I need your approval.”
“I need for you to have sex with me when I want sex.”
“I need you to make me feel lovable and worthy.”
“I need you to make me feel secure.”
“I need you to make me feel important.”
“I need you to fill my emptiness.”
“I need you to make me feel special.”
“It is your job to make me happy.”

These ‘needs’ are coming from self-abandonment. When you don’t give yourself the love, attention and approval you need, and you don’t define your own worth and learn to fill yourself up with love, then you may be needy of another making you feel that you are okay. When you are disconnected from your own feelings and from your personal source of spiritual Guidance, when you harshly judge yourself, or when you avoid your feelings with various addictions, then you will feel empty and needy inside and may pull on others to fill you and make you feel okay.

Needs That Can Only Be Met By Another

• If we are taking responsibility for ourselves and filling ourselves with love, we then have love to share. We need others with whom to share love.

• Once of our primal needs is for connection with others. But we can’t connect with others unless we are connected with our own heart and soul, and with our source of spiritual guidance. While we can connect intellectually from our minds, emotional connection occurs only through the heart and soul. Without emotional connection with a partner, family and friends, we can feel very lonely.

Most of us have a need for touch and affection, which is different than sex. While affection and connection can often lead to mutually-desired love-making in a committed relationship, touch and affection without a sexual agenda is important for connection.

• We also need others with whom to learn and grow. We can grow by ourselves to a limited extent, but the deeper level of learning and growth occurs in relationship with another who is open to learning.

• We need to have fun with others — to have companionship. So we need others who are available to spending time with us.

• Finally, we need to know that the other person would never deliberately set out to do us physical or emotional harm. We need to feel safe that the person has our highest good at heart, and will be honest with us, in order to have a trusting relationship.

These are the needs you can request from your partner that are not signs of emotional dependency:

“I need for you to want to spend time with me – sharing love and affection with me, connecting with me from your heart and soul, being open to learning and growing with me and playing and having fun with me. I need for you to be honest with me and to care about the effect your behavior has on me. I need to know that you support my highest good.”

These are very different needs than the first list. So I would say to Susan, who asked the question: “Susan, I would guess that the needs you are talking about are from the first list, since we generally don’t ask for promises for the second list. When we are connecting with ourselves and taking loving care of ourselves, we can generally sense whether or not the other person is capable of love, connection, caring, empathy, openness and honesty. These qualities are either forthcoming or they aren’t. Someone cannot ‘promise’ to give us these things.

So look within first and see if you are giving yourself the things on the first list. Then you will be in a position to share with someone the things on the second list.

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Making Life Better


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7 Strategies for Preventing Relationship Burnout

It’s not unusual. The glow of a new relationship begins to dim as time goes by. As excitement and novelty turn to contentment and familiarity, the relationship begins to shift and become more predictable. Excitement wanes and you may begin to wonder how to get it back. This is normal. But whether you have been married for 20 years or dating for 2 months, it’s the responsibility of both partners to keep the fire beneath the glow burning. Most happy couples will tell you that maintaining that glow is grounded in taking care of each other and taking care of the relationship. It’s important to maintain physical and emotional connection. Here are a few strategies to consider.

1. Keep in touch.
I mean that literally! Take time to cuddle, kiss and hold each other. Studies show that couples who share in physical intimacy are happier in their relationships. Touch doesn’t have to end in sex, (but it can be fun when it does). The important thing is that physical contact keeps you intimately connected. A touch can melt away anger and fear and speak volumes about how much you care.

2. Be happy to see each other at the end of the day.
Remember when you first met, how exciting it was to see each other? Greeting each other with that same kind of interest at the end of a busy day will set the tone for more pleasant and enjoyable evenings. How your partner sees you behaving — body language, tone of voice, facial expressions — tells him or her how to respond to you. Step outside of yourself for a moment and be aware of how your partner is seeing you. Are you walking in happy, sad, stressed, or angry? Place troubles and worries on the back burner for just a brief time. Take a few moments to reconnect with each other before you start delving into issues about the kids, the bills, the in-laws, and whatever other challenges you’re having. The issues will still be there when you are ready to address them. Keep it light and loving.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
A good marriage or relationship is based on how well partners are able to negotiate and navigate through challenges and disagreements. It’s unrealistic to think that you will never be disappointed or hurt. If your partner doesn’t know what’s troubling you, it might be difficult to help you feel better. Sometimes couples are fearful of saying what’s on their mind and in their hearts because they’re afraid of disappointment and rejection. The challenge is to share your thoughts in a way that demonstrates compassion and empathy, rather than criticism and judgment. When you are both able to create a safe, respectful environment in which to talk, you open space for intimacy and trustworthiness.

4. Be aware you may be sending mixed messages.
Yes, it’s true. Research shows that the more couples know about each other, the closer they feel and that’s good for the relationship. But sometimes couples unconsciously send mixed messages to each other, especially when emotions are intense. If you don’t ask for (or even know) what it is that you need, how will your partner know? For example, it’s difficult to know that “I’m angry, go away,” really means, “I’m hurt and afraid, please hold me and love me.” But sometimes that’s exactly what it means. So, help your partner help you. If you are angry or sad, invite them in to be part of the solution, invite them in, rather than pushing them away by criticizing or judging them. Be positive, talk about times when you felt connected and intimate and what made you feel close and safe.

5. Pay each other compliments, show your appreciation and express gratitude.
Who doesn’t love a compliment? The next time you have the urge to “nag” your partner for something that really bugs you, try something different. Focus on the times when you really appreciate their behaviors. In other words, turn a negative into a positive. If it really rattles you that your husband is constantly checking his Blackberry, point out the times when he’s not and let him know how much you appreciate it and how much closer you feel to him then.

Paying compliments and showing appreciation for each other is extremely effective in creating connection. The best part about compliments, appreciation and gratitude is that the benefits go to both partners. The giver is encouraged to focus on what’s going well in the relationship — that makes for more positivity; and the receiver is invited to do more of what they’re being complimented about. It’s a win — win!

6. Focus on giving rather than receiving.
By letting go of the idea of “what’s in it for me?” and adopting the idea of “what can I do for you?” generosity and concern cultivate connection and intimacy. Think of it this way. If you can make your partner happy, you have a much better chance of having them return the favor. A client of mine once said, “A happy wife is a happy life.” When you think about it, this is very true for both of you. If you focus on giving rather than receiving, the rewards will come naturally and effortlessly.

7. Create time for peacefulness and stillness.
Life is stressful and the day-to-day challenges of money, career, children, and family can be extremely demanding. It is really important to have time each day to “just be present,” to let go of the demands of life and to let go of anger, stress, and frustration for just a little while. Sit together as a couple in the stillness. Take a walk; watch a sunset, cuddle on the couch. Take time each day to physically and emotionally reconnect. Spending 20 to 30 minutes a day touching; talking, or just being alone together can make a world of difference in your relationship.

A relationship, like anything else require patience, encouragement, compassion and self-awareness. If you’re finding it difficult to accept your partner’s flaws and imperfections, it may be time to get some help so that you can gain some new perspective. In the meantime, try a few of these exercises on for size. You may find yourself glowing again sooner than you think!

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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in Making Life Better, Self Help


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