Maria Connolly Somatic Psychotherapy CoachingConnect with me on LinkedInLike us on Facebook

How to Make a Relationship Last Forever

While many relationships fail, be assured, it is possible to make your relationship last forever. Even if you’re experiencing difficulty, you can make things better by building trust and true intimacy in your relationship. You can learn how to make a relationship last forever.“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” ~Brene Brown

Fairy tales and love stories feed us fantasies of perfect “happy ever after” relationships. But, in reality, we see unhappy, unhealthy relationships all around us. Is it even possible that you can make a relationship last forever?

It is possible if you choose wisely, work hard, and you both remain committed to making it work. Working with couples, I have seen the deep longing that people have for being seen, heard and understood. Both partners long for it so much that it gets in the way of each one seeing, hearing and understanding their partner. Is that perhaps true in your case, too?

How can you make your relationship last forever?

First, rather than asking, “How can I make a relationship last forever? Ask, “How can we create a love that lasts forever?” Do you see the positive shift in this language?

Here are five other shifts that will help you promote a long-lasting relationship:

Shift “I can change him” into “I love him warts and all.” It’s a fairy tale to kiss a frog and change him into a perfect prince. When you commit to someone, you’re accepting him as he is. To manipulate, cry and pout because he doesn’t live up to your unrealistic expectations is dishonest. That’s why it’s so important to know yourself before ever beginning a relationship. Only then will you recognize the right partner for you.

If you’re already in a relationship, it’s never too late to learn to appreciate and wholeheartedly accept each other as you are. I love how Thomas Merton describes this:

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

 Shift “I’m not getting what I want and need” into “I give without any strings attached.” Expecting to get more than you give is a poor foundation for any relationship. Give for the sheer joy of giving. Delighting each other makes love grow.

Shift “My dream” into “Our shared vision”. We all need to have dreams. To pursue a relationship when you’re stuck on only “my dream,” will make you feel trapped, frustrated, and resentful. Look for someone who has the same vision as you do, so you can build on it, while allowing you both to achieve your most important individual dreams.

Shift “I can’t talk to him about THAT!” into “We hold sacred our intimate secrets.” It takes vulnerability and trust to open up to each other. You earn trust by keeping intimate things private. You don’t run off to tell mom, sisters, or friends what your man’s weaknesses or insecurities are. It’s between you and him alone. And you don’t hold it against him. You see it as an opportunity to step up and supportively add what he lacks.

Shift “He’s not the man I married” into “We’re growing together.” It’s inevitable that you both will change. When you’re committed to growing together, you allow each other space to explore and develop. You can freely express feelings, needs, hopes and dreams. You support each other, not being afraid of where the change will take you, because you’re in the journey together and that’s exciting!

Conflicts and disagreement are bound to happen. If you haven’t learned to feel safe in these situations, you may take them as a sign you shouldn’t be together. But it’s actually a sign that you don’t have the right skills to overcome those moments…yet.

Repair is the most important step to disagreement. You can learn to resolve and deepen your relationship by following my Three Steps to Personal Responsibility in Relationships:

  1. I am responsible for understanding myself – my wants, needs and values;
  2. I am responsible for verbalizing that understanding to you;
  3. YOU are responsible for co-creating with me a relationship where I feel safe to speak my truth. (This helps both parties to take responsibility for their part in the relationship.)

Having been married for almost 26 years, I understand that cultivating a healthy relationship takes a lot of work. Both parties need to be interested in growing personally and updating old familial patterns that aren’t useful anymore.

Sometimes you can get stuck. I get that. I’m here to help you get past that and gain more clarity. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).  If you want something in your relationship to change, that change must begin with you.

Start Treating Your Inner Critic as a Friend, Not a Foe

Start Treating Your Inner Critic as a Friend, Not a Foe“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.” ~ Kristen Neff

Isn’t it true that in daily conversation, when you talk about yourself, you use the pronoun “I”? That’s the normal way of talking about yourself: “I went to the store.” “I heard you.” On the other hand, doesn’t your inner critic accuse with the pronoun “You”? “You’re so stupid!” “You’re a mess!”

What do I mean by inner critic? It’s that negative voice in your head. She wants “you” to pay attention to her, but you really don’t want to hear what she has to say. What a battle. No wonder it’s called an inner conflict.

We aren’t born with an inner critic that tells us “You’re stupid!” “You’re a mess!” But over your lifetime you have received negative feedback – from a parent, sibling, teacher, or peer. As a result, your inner critic is just parroting it as truth, because you haven’t told her anything differently.

It’s important to realize that your inner critic is a part of you that is trying to keep you safe: safe from judgment, safe from failure, safe from disappointment. Just safe.. It resides in your vulnerability, where it really hurts. But when you examine that vulnerability with mindfulness, you can thank your inner critic for a job well done.  

Does that advice surprise you? You might think the answer is to ignore your inner critic. But that doesn’t work, does it? The reason for this is as I’ve previously discussed, inner conflict is the result of our subconscious parts not working harmoniously together.

The good news is you can create internal harmony with your inner critic with practice and patience.

 

When your inner critic is trying to get your attention, instead of ignoring her, try the following 8 steps:

  1. Slow down using mindfulness to be aware of, and present with, an inner disturbance.
  2. Observe the self-talk.
  3. Externalize and personify the inner critic.
  4. Join the inner critic energy.
  5. Dialogue with the inner critic as “WE”.
  6. Practice acceptance, non-judgment, and self-compassion.
  7. Watch the inner critic lose its energy and intensity.
  8. Move forward together in a collaborative partnership

 

To illustrate how these steps work in real life I’ll share Tea Time exercise I often do with my clients.

When you’re in a quiet space, imagine you’ve invited your inner critic to Tea Time. She’s not your enemy, so welcome her to the table with open arms and a smile. Do some breathing exercises to remain calm.

As you sip your cup of tea, engage your inner critic in a conversation, such as the following:

Your inner critic begins: “You are so stupid!”

Nodding, you calmly change the “You” to “I”, and, without resistance, you accept what is said, asking for more information: “I am so stupid and…?”

Taken aback the inner critic says: “I just want you to know that I don’t like you right now.”

You respond: “Okay, I’m stupid and I don’t like myself, and…?

Deflated, because you’re agreeing, the inner critic says: We need to fix this.”

You join with your inner critic, shifting to “we” as you further agree: “Yes, we need to fix this. What should we do?”

Your inner critic joins with you and suggests the course of action you know you need to take even though it may be painfully hard to do: I need to go to my friend, swallow my pride, and apologize.”

Now that your inner critic has warned you of a problem, you’ve identified the discord – the fight between knowing what you should do and feeling fear in doing it – you can master your inner game. Your course is set. You prepare what you want to say to your friend to repair and regain harmony in your friendship.

 

Internal conflict will seldom be that easy to resolve, especially if the negative talk originated with someone you love and is deeply ingrained. Once you know the steps involved in this process, you can calmly have this conversation with yourself about anything.  

You’ll often find that the criticism can be changed to inner strength. Here are a few examples…

  • From: “You’re too sensitive!” To: “I don’t take myself too seriously, and I have compassion for others.
  • From: “You’re so gullible!” To: “I’m glad I’m not jaded and I have innocence still.”
  • From: “You always procrastinate!” To: “I don’t have to be in a rush. I can live in the moment, enjoy it, and plan out what’s most important for me right now.”

Joining with your inner critic requires practice. It may even require the assistance of a trained professional, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s no shame in that.

Would you like more help making friends with your inner critic? I’d love to show you how you can use my Tea Time Exercise in greater depth. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Let’s sit down and have a cuppa.

How You Can Regain Emotional Stability After a Life-Altering Crisis

Emotional stability will help you handle life altering crises“Whatever good things we build end up building us.” ~ Jim Rohn

I love stability, don’t you? It’s kind of like driving. We want our cars to ride smoothly, but there are always bumps in the road. That’s why we need emotional stability. Like shock absorbers, being emotionally stable allows us to withstand and handle adversity while we still keep moving forward.

However, because life is always changing, it’s vital to have a system for fully experiencing the highs, the lows and everything in between.

For day-to-day stresses, you can maintain emotional stability by using methods such as meditation, becoming more mindful, exercise and restorative sleep.

But life often throws things at us that we’re not prepared to handle. People are confronted with tragic circumstances like life-changing health issues, death of a loved one, divorce, physical and/or sexual abuse, violence, accidents, and so much more. We’re not born knowing how to deal with these things. And it’s quite possible that no one in your immediate family or circle of friends has had to deal with them either, so they can’t help you.

If you’ve experienced an emotional crisis that has thrown you completely off balance, what can you do to regain emotional stability?

A momentary lapse in behavior does not make you emotionally unstable. The emotional instability I’m talking about is caused by a lifetime of repressed emotions, tamping them down instead of experiencing emotions in a healthy manner. That’s when we become unstable and ungrounded.

It’s like a thorn in your finger that leads to an infection, except it’s an emotional splinter in your heart and soul. It’s always raw and sore. It limits what you can do, because you’re preoccupied with the wound. And since you tell yourself that it’s ugly, you try to keep it hidden.

How can you clear out emotional debris?  

You can’t just dig around your festering wound superficially. That would be like getting part of the thorn out, but leaving the tip. You must get to the bottom of it and fully feel the entire range – the breadth and depth of your emotion. Painful? Yes! But that’s the way healing occurs.

Many people keep their calendars so booked that they don’t have time to think. I suggest you clear some time, perhaps even devoting the next year to making your emotional hygiene a priority. Make the commitment to take time to experience your emotions fully as they arise. In that way, you can develop a reliable system for emotional stability.

Developing or regaining emotional stability will not happen overnight. It’s going to take time and practice. Your progress will depend on how long you can sit with your deeply disturbing emotions like sadness, anger, or fear.

Here’s how to do it: Each time you feel a wave of that emotion, find a quiet place by yourself and go deeply into it. If you’re feeling sad, think about the saddest things in your life. Then just cry it out until there’s nothing left. (If the thought of doing this frightens you or if you’re struggling with PTSD, depression or anxiety, please consult with a mental health care professional who can support you through this process.)

The point is to start by thinking of the ugliest, most painful thoughts and letting that feeling take you over and flow out through your tears, thoughts, and breaths. Once you’ve released that emotion, you can go on with your day. You’ll discover that each wave of emotion, on average,  only lasts 90 seconds.

As you crash through each emotional wave, you’re closer to calmness and serenity. Learning the process of experiencing emotions fully makes life easier. It allows you to experience new emotions without them taking over your whole day. You can get past it without doing damage to yourself or others.

Regaining emotional stability after a crisis is much easier when you have a safe place to be heard and supported. Please 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 practice greater awareness and coping techniques.

Great Leaders Never Stop Learning – Have You?

Leaders never stop learning. They have a learning mindset that’s driven by curiosity. Thirst for knowledge and understanding will make you an outstanding leader.

 “The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.” ~ Sheryl Sandberg

There’s a direct correlation between the amount of books you read and the quality of your leadership. Warren Buffet said he reads 600 or more pages a day. He spends 80% of his day reading. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies read an average of four to five books a month. Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year, that’s one per week. Author and self-made millionaire Steve Siebold interviewed more than 1,200 of the world’s wealthiest people over the past 30 years and noted that they all read for self-education. We read because it changes our lives. I appreciate what President Harry S. Truman said:

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

The reality is that most professionals tend to reach a plateau when it comes to learning. And we’re all busy, learning new things can easily be relegated to the backburner when it comes to priorities. However, it’s worth the effort because leaders who have a continuous learning mindset develop stronger leadership skills than their peers. It only makes sense. To learn is to grow, to evolve, to master. If you’re not continually growing and using it, you will lose it. Yes, your experience does matters, but in the long run, it’s your curiosity, your thirst for knowledge and understanding that will make you an outstanding leader. This applies to all avenues of life…leading in your family, your community, your job.

When you never stop learning you develop, deepen, and strengthen your ability to focus. You’re constantly looking for the whys and hows of a broad range of topics, not just your specific field. You’ll find yourself looking for opportunities to apply what you learn in a practical way. You’ll also experiment with alternative strategies, realizing that there’s always more than one way to do a thing. And those who have the learning mindset ask continually for feedback from others so they can reflect on what works best.

Innovation is key to successful leadership today. It’s how you put your unique spin or mark on a practice that has been done a million times before by someone else. You may start out in one place, but because you’re constantly learning and feeding your brain and spirit, you’ll explore and discover new directions so that your business and services evolve into something that really makes a difference.

If you want to lead people, aim to be a strong leader. And if you want to be a strong leader, prioritize learning. Continuously learning is now more important than ever before. Leaders who never stop learning use what they acquire to:

Are you committed to making the motto: “Never Stop Learning” your own? Good for you! The rewards will be endless. The more you learn, the more you grow, and the more you grow, the better you can serve others, your communities and the world.  A great way to rapidly expand your learning is by attending our Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP in Ashland, Oregon. Not only will you learn how to coach yourself and others; you’ll also learn how to learn. It will give you a foundation you can really build on!

5 Lifelong Benefits of Waking Up Early to Turn So-So into Success

Here are my 5 top benefits of waking up early that help you do more and be more.“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Ancient wisdom says there are many benefits of waking up early. What’s your normal wake up time? Mine is 5:00 a.m. Some people, extreme early risers, get up around 4:00 a.m.

There are numerous reasons why I love getting up early each morning. No, I’m not saying it’s always easy, but once I’m up, I love it!

I love drinking my morning coffee with my sweetie and my two kitties. I love how it sets the tone for my day. I love driving through the morning light as I go to or come home from the gym. It’s my special time of the day, before other demands crowd in on me.

Maybe you’re not a “morning person” but getting in tune with the natural rhythms of life and the cycle of the sun can help you live more intentionally. Bottom line: you’ll feel better physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Here are five of my top benefits of waking up early:

Productivity. With a clear mind and well-rested body, the ability to concentrate is at its peak. No one is there to interrupt your train of thought or to impose their priorities upon you. You can optimize your performance, because your body hasn’t experienced the wear and tear of the day.

One warning: if you waste this time on emails, social media or texting, your brain will get a hit of dopamine, like you’ve accomplished something, but you haven’t accomplished anything with lasting satisfaction. The first hour of the day should be your time to focus on what matters most to you. Concentrate on doing “deep work” as author and professor, Cal Newport suggests.

More time. You feel like you don’t have enough time, right? I know you’ve said that a time or two. But when you get up early, it’s like you’re creating more time.

Wouldn’t you rather greet each day calmly, rather than being stressed out as you rush out the door? That just puts your game off for the whole day. Being up before everyone else gives you time to plan and getting organized.

Creativity. Sleep lets your brain sort through the previous day’s challenges. When you wake up to the sacred space you’ve created for yourself, the answers you’re seeking will more easily come to you. As your mind roams free in the tranquility of the morning, you’ll get some of your best ideas.

Mindful decisions. Waking up early means you’re going to have to go to bed earlier, because you do need restorative sleep. Developing the discipline to turn off that movie or close the book by 9:00 or 10:00 will give you a feeling of control…that you’re creating the life you want.

Before going to bed, plan out what you’ll do first thing in the morning. Lay out your gym clothes, or open the book you want to read or the journal you want to write in. Whatever your goals are…use this time as an investment in yourself.

Peace of Mind. There’s magic in the early morning hours. The air has a different feel. The birds are just waking up. The calm and quiet helps you think. It gives you the opportunity to listen to what your body and spirit is telling you. And there’s nothing better than watching the endless beauty of each sunrise.

Studies have shown that once you open your wallet and spend money, then it’s easier to do it again and again. The same is true with spending time as you invest in yourself. It breaks the dam of feeling unworthy. Are you ready to make that breakthrough and claim your worthiness? Then please attend our upcoming  Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP in Ashland, Oregon. Nando and I promise you will reap huge benefits, if you come fully prepared to participate wholeheartedly.

Recent Posts

About Maria

Our Address