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Platonic Friendships – Men and Women Can Safely Pursue Intimacy!

People are starved from true connection in their platonic friendships, yet men and women can safely pursue intimacy in their friendships without fear.“Intimacy is not a happy medium. It is a way of being in which the tension between distance and closeness is dissolved and a new horizon appears. Intimacy is beyond fear.” ~ Henri Nouwen

Your best friend…who is it? What makes him/her your BEST friend? Perhaps it’s because you’ve known each other forever. Or you have a lot in common as you share similar interests, values and goals. Platonic friendships are held together by intentional attention and nurturing. Friendship is a growing and evolving endeavour. And it will fail if it’s neglected.

Life-long friends are rare, mainly because we outgrow our childhood relationships. They were built around circumstances like living next door, going to the same school, attending the same events. But when we moved past these activities, the friendships faded away because there wasn’t much in common any more.

Platonic friendships take emotional and intellectual connection. True friends really understand each other. They connect on an intimate level, not just superficially. True friends see each other’s faults, but because of caring for each other, they don’t focus on these faults but strive to help each other become better people. It means seeing each other for who you are, not for what you can get from them. It means shifting the focus off of self and looking for the good and valuing them deeply.

Intimacy is not the same as sexuality. Sex is simply one way of displaying intimacy. A person can engage in sex without it being an intimate act. Intimacy is when people openly share themselves, fully exposing their inner being, their thoughts, their emotions, their pains, their desires, and their cherished dreams. And many people have a hard time doing that, because somewhere in their past they’ve been hurt and they haven’t learned to let that go.  

Many people are starved from true connection, attunement and deep presence with one another. Some of us bring this drought from childhood where the connections were sparse and scarce. Or we’ve developed the “I don’t want to get involved” attitude because we don’t want to be responsible. Perhaps overtime this has formed from an emotionally sterile home or work environment.

Others find it very challenging to develop intimate friendships outside of their romantic relationships, especially with the opposite sex, for fear of crossing boundaries. So, they’re okay not taking risks and dealing with a deep longing for nourishing connections.
 
There are a lot of insecurities around forming platonic friendships. Some of the following reasons may resonate with you. As you read them, see which ones you identify with… 

I don’t know how to cultivate closeness in a platonic friendship without risking rejection, awkwardness or sexual charge. If there’s intimacy, do I need to be or do anything different? Am I obligated in any way? Cultivating greater emotional intelligence will help you identify your own emotions and those of others so you’ll know what behavior is appropriate.

I am not good enough. If I give people a chance to get close to me, they’re going to find out all my faults and not like me. Everyone has faults. Look for the good in yourself and others.

I don’t trust myself. Being a friend means you can count on me, and I don’t know that I can always be there for you. And if it’s a member of the opposite sex, I know it’s going to become sexual, because I can’t control myself. You can learn to trust and control yourself.

I don’t trust others. I’ve been hurt before and I’d rather be alone that risk that again. Taking risks is what living fully is all about. Stepping into a risk, without having a specific outcome in mind, frees you to experience the moment joyfully and view it as a gift.

I don’t want to be rejected. What if I invest in a person who doesn’t reciprocate? Being rejected is part of life. What about rejection bothers you so much? Not everyone in the world is meant to be your friend. 

There may not be as many established protocols that facilitate building emotional intimacy in a non-romantic setting. But you can develop emotional and intellectual skills to cultivate platonic intimacy.

If experiencing intimacy is what you’re looking for, check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my colleague Nando Raynolds (a very intimate friend of mine!) on May 20 and 21. We can work with you on this particular goal. Or feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype.

Unlock the Power and Magic of Emotional Attunement in Your Relationships

Life is sweet when you feel emotional attunement in your relationships at home and work, yet many feel distant, so if you could use more, use these five tips to fine-tune your emotional attunement.“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Have you ever tried to talk with a person who was stone-faced, showing no facial reaction at all to what you were saying? It didn’t take long before you began faltering for words, losing your train of thought and finding it hard to carry on, did it? Why is that? Because when there’s no emotional attunement, no empathy, we don’t feel connected, understood or valued. We need to feel like people are getting what we’re saying.

Emotional attunement takes more than looking at someone or hearing their words. It means using all of our senses to understand what they’re feeling so much that we feel it too. It takes being able to sense, interpret and respond to someone so that she/he doesn’t feel alone any longer. Our eyes become moist with tears when they hurt or beam with happiness to mirror their joy. We lean in and touch their arm with a gesture of compassion. We reflect back to them their emotions with words such as, “That must have been so frustrating!”  

We learn to regulate and manage our emotions at an early age from our mothers. She reacted to our emotional state and responded in a way that cared for our needs and soothed us, making us feel secure. A mother gives her child this wonderful gift – the ability to decipher feelings and learn to self-regulate them. If, however, feelings are ignored or put down, the person will carry an inability to interpret and express emotion into their adulthood. The good news is that even if this gift was lacking from your life, you can still learn how to experience emotional attunement in your relationships today.

At times, everyone struggles with emotional attunement. We get caught up in our own drama or daily pressures distract us from really connecting emotionally with others, whether you’re an intimate couple, friends or business associates. If the situation makes you feel blamed, you may fall back to a defensive mode, which makes it impossible to see what the other person is feeling. It’s easy to settle for a transactional kind of relationship, solving problems and sharing responsibilities, without sharing your emotional self and listening for each other’s emotional needs. 

The magic and power of emotional attunement is that it doesn’t require a lot from you. It simply takes listening with your ears, mind and heart. You don’t have to “fix” anything or offer advice. This is a huge aha moment for many men especially. You can do so much by doing nothing but tuning in!

Here are some reminders for fine-tuning your emotional attunement:

  • Be fully immersed and attuned to what your friend is experiencing.
  • Remain emotionally open to her friend’s feeling even if it makes you uncomfortable.
  • Use subtle bodily reactions to make powerful connections – shed tears, touch her arm, nod, tilt your head in sync with the tilt of your friend’s head.
  • Reinforce your being present by saying a few words that convey that, “I’m here for you” or “Yes, I understand”.
  • Keep this as your goal – make your friend feel less alone.

Emotional attunement can be learned, but it’s learned experientially. It takes time, but you can learn to sharing your emotions and to trusting your own judgment in reading other people. When you surround yourself with people who practice emotional attunement you can speed up your own progress. If closer emotional connectedness is what you’re looking for, check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my colleague Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. This can be your Big Goal that we work on together.

Want to Empower Women? Get Them Involved in Sports!

If you want to empower women, get them involved in sports for it teaches these transformational life lessons that make women confident, strong leaders.“Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.” – Bethany Hamilton, surfer

When you were growing up, was there a female sports star you wanted to imitate? Maybe not? It’s only been in recent years that this is changing. Female sporting role models are helping to empower women by teaching transformational life lessons. Their message is that it’s okay to be unafraid, to be competitive, and to be confident, strong leaders.

Getting involved in sports is helping to empower women in other ways, too. Here are a few examples:

Sports teach that you can do better next time. The fear of failure keeps so many women from even trying. However, failure in itself isn’t humiliating. It actually identifies what to work on to strengthen yourself mentally, emotionally and physically. Sports during the school years teach girls to get involved and do their best. That it’s okay to enjoy healthy competition and learn from losses and wins.

Sports teach you how your body works. You know that exercise strengthens your muscles, including your heart. Your core is toned and your posture becomes more confident. It makes your bones stronger and you experience less back problems. Your hand-eye coordination improves. Girls and women who exercise regularly have reduced risk of breast and other reproductive cancers. Beyond all of that, it also creates greater awareness of the connection between your mind, body, and spirit. And you can use that to your advantage!

Sports teach you to work hard. Laziness doesn’t bring success. Pushing yourself makes you improve and grow. Sports help to empower women as they develop discipline and mental toughness. Oftentimes, we have to do what is uncomfortable to excel.

Sports teach that success is ultimately in your control. The food you eat, how well you sleep, the mindsets you cultivate are all within your control. Discovering this control is a huge self-esteem builder.  

“I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” – Mia Hamm (Olympic gold medalist in women’s football)

Sports redefine beauty and help you love yourself as you are. When you feel good about your physical activity, accepting your body comes naturally. You’ll see the beauty in a strong, healthy body.

Sports teach teamwork. Real teamwork questions the status quo and searches for better options. You see your own weaknesses and can appreciate the strength of others. In sport, it’s impossible to avoid confrontations and you learn they bring success.

“Some people say I have attitude – maybe I do…but I think you have to. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there.” – Venus Williams (Tennis)

I’m so glad to see the shift in women’s attitudes – more and more they no longer focus on the unrealistic and unhealthy craze for skinniness. Enlightened women have discovered that being healthy and strong empowers them to accomplish more than they ever expected in life and in the business world. They’ve discovered that participating in sports has enormous power to generate more gender equality and real social and economic change.

As I’ve progressed in my Cross Fit training, I’ve seen how it helps to empower women through a community and culture where every woman works hard on her personal progress. Women see that they can do it! And if they can do this, they can do anything they want in life.

If you’d love to learn more about how to empower other women, check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my colleague Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. You’ll get to choose one Big Goal you want to work on – something really meaningful to you, something that you have carried in your heart for some time. And together we’ll give it life, refine it, and teach you to put it forward with intention, clarity and courage!

Embrace the Healing Benefits of Sunlight – Happy Spring!

We who live in northern climes like Oregon need to take advantage of the healing benefits of sunlight to offset the health-zapping effects of a long winter After a long, hard winter it’s a relief to feel the warmth of the sunshine and see the flowers beginning to emerge! It makes me think about the healing benefits of sunlight, but also about some of the dangers from unwise sun exposure.

In northern climes like Oregon where there are so many overcast days, many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Others struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression. Beware…this can also occur from spending all day in the office working!

How much sunlight you need to produce your daily dose of Vitamin D depends on where you live. Scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research has created an online calculator that can help you determine the amount for where you live. (Click here to learn more.) Without it our bones deteriorate (osteoporosis and rickets) and we’re more prone to cancers (prostate, breast, color and ironically, skin cancer) type 1 insulin-dependent diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease.

Our mood is greatly affected by the amount of sunlight we get. We need the light to calibrate our circadian cycle of sleep and wakefulness. And it builds our immune system by increasing the white blood cells, called lymphocytes, which play a major role in defending the body against infections. It’s also been noted to lower cholesterol, fight bacterial infections, and clear up some skin disorders. On the down side, too much exposure can cause painful burning, skin cancers and possibly cataracts.

Even though UV from the sun can be harmful in high doses, you can safely enjoy the outdoors without risking your health. Keep in mind I’m not giving medical advice. You must use common sense and listen to what your doctor says about your situation. That being said…here are a few tips that help you enjoy the benefits of sunlight safely…

  • Know your skin type. If you burn very easily, you’ll have to exercise greater mindfulness in how long you stay out in the sun.
  • During the less intense times of the day (sunlight is strongest from 11 am to 2 pm) gradually increase your exposure duration to 10 or 15 minutes.
  • Use sunscreen for longer exposure. Do some research and find the most healthful brand for you. Many of the products contain fragrances and chemicals such as Oxybenzone, (linked to hormone disruption and cell damage) Retinyl palmitate, (a carcinogen), Octyl-methoxycinnamate (oxidation damage which ages your skin) Butyl-Methdiebenzoylmethane, (releases free radicals into the body) Benzophenone 2 (BP2), (decreases the function of the thyroid). So choose wisely.
  • Find sunglasses that provide UVA and UVB protection and good coverage of your full field of vision.
  • Wear a hat and cover up in white clothing (more cooling on hot summer days than no clothing) during long exposure times.
  • Be mindful of what you eat. A balanced, nutritious diet provides protection from some of the sun’s hazards. However, a diet high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats like sunflower, safflower, and other vegetable oils will make you more prone to sun damage. Healthier fats to use are coconut, avocado or palm oils.
  • Also be mindful that some medications make you more sensitive to sunlight. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if the type you take falls in this category.

Don’t let the fear of sun keep you from enjoying life fully. Exercise mindful awareness of the risks and benefits of sunlight and get outside! Now is a good to assess your entire body/mind/spirit wellness to determine ways you can improve. Download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It’s an eye-opening self-examination guide.

If you already know what changes you want to make, but you need some accountability and support, then feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

Is It Time to Hire a Life Coach? Seven Ways to Know if it’s Right for You

If you’re wondering if you should hire a life coach, here are seven very good reasons why you should hire a life coach if you want to feel fulfilled in life

“Amateurs might not have coaches, but professionals do.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Do you want to make extraordinary things happen in your life, career or business? Are you tired of the same, old, dull routine that’s not working for you anymore? Then it may be time to hire a life coach! Life Coaching isn’t counseling or therapy. It’s a highly effective way to achieve excellence in your life as you close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

By now you realize that highly successful people use coaches to enhance various areas of life that need work. Right now I’m working with a nutritionist to learn how to eat more nutritionally dense meals. It’s great because I’m noticing the eating patterns that sabotage my attempts to stay healthy. It’s like putting things under a microscope and REALLY noticing what is what. Plus, my coach keeps me accountable. He helps me make small changes and handle setbacks with little pep talks here and there. On my own I would come to a cross point and probably just quit.

What benefits can YOU expect when you hire a life coach? I’ll give you seven excellent reasons, but know that there are many more. As you read each one, try it on for size, imagining that you’ve already achieved the benefit. Then ask yourself, “Is this something I want more of in my life?”

Attain clarity. Oftentimes we don’t know what we know. A life coach can ask questions that draw out your inner wisdom. When you decide what’s most important to you, it frees an enormous amount of energy and creates a chain reaction that magnetically pulls you toward your value-based goals and priorities. Ask yourself, “What do I want more of? What do I want less of?”

Gain accountability. Maybe you think you should be able to do it on your own. But in today’s hectic world, we’re easily distracted and discouraged. When you hire a life coach, she can help you identify what’s holding you back and how you can keep your momentum going. And then she can give you well-deserved acknowledgment. Even if your loved ones may never get it, she will. She understands and appreciates how hard you’ve worked and how far you’ve come.

See things from a new perspective. To create change you don’t need someone telling you what you want to hear. You need someone who helps you see things about yourself and your situation differently. The great thing about coaching is that you’ll often identify action steps that you never would have thought of before.

Re-evaluate your values, purpose and vision. We tolerate so many things in life that we don’t have to and really shouldn’t. Maybe you’re so tied up with worrying about what others think or you’re doing what you think you “should” that you neglect what you need and want. A life coach will help you sort it all out so you can set better boundaries that are aligned with your values. You’ll be able to eliminate what drains you and expand what energizes you.

Push past your comfort zone. Do you spend so much time taking care of everyone else, that you don’t have time for yourself? Life coaching gives you the space to think about you, your feelings and what’s important to you. Your coach will help you identify strategies that challenge you and get you past your fears to where you want to be.

Become fully engaged in “being” not simply “doing”. A life coach helps you mindfully focus on the states of being that you want to experience in life, like love, abundance, joy, centeredness, and connection. You’ll find your balance. You’ll slow down enough to notice how you really feel. And those feelings can guide you toward the changes that will benefit you the most right now.

Design your dream life. There’s no fulfillment in just existing. Take purposeful steps to create the life you want that makes you feel fulfilled in every aspect of your life. When you hire a life coach, she can help you identify what’s standing in your way, like your self-limiting beliefs, and help you create action steps that transform your life.

We’ve just skimmed the surface of how you benefit when you hire a life coach. If you want to go from being great to being extraordinary, then feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation, in-person, by phone or via Skype. I’d love to talk with you!

And if you’re anxious to begin the process of self-discovery and excellence today, download your copy of my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment and carve out some alone time to go through it. You’ll be glad you did.

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