You’d think with a headline that seems to criticize happiness in marriage that I don’t think much of marriage. You’d be mistaken. As my sweetie and I have recently celebrated our wedding anniversary, marriage is on my mind. What I am objecting to is the idea that the goal of marriage is happiness.
We’ve all read books or seen movies with the fairy tale promise of “And they lived happily ever after.” This creates the unrealistic expectation that finding the love of your life will make you happy forever. Not!
Let me just say that many of my clients are in committed relationships, without being married. I deeply respect their choice. The principles of marriage that I speak about today, can apply to all loving partnerships.
A successful, loving relationship, starts long before you ever meet your life partner. It begins with knowing and loving yourself. A practice of mindfulness will help you identify, acknowledge and accept your needs, desires, goals, values, and outcomes you want from life.
A loving relationship can’t be one-sided, focusing solely on your needs and wants. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to see your potential partner for who they really are, through the rosy glow of sexual attraction. It’s only when you know their needs, desires, goals, values and how best you can fulfill them, that you can be a good partner.
If you’re mismatched, you both will quickly become dissatisfied, frustrated and angry. It’s a terrible feeling to know you’re “alone,” while sharing the house with someone you thought was your soul mate. So how can you ensure that you’ll achieve the best outcome?
You can’t depend on, nor expect, someone else to make you happy. Happiness comes from within. Expecting a constant state of happiness in marriage is unrealistic, because it’s so dependent on changing circumstances. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not the real purpose of marriage. Marriage provides a secure union that promotes the growth of each partner individually, and as a couple. Therefore, rather than looking for happiness in marriage, I recommend you work on creating a growth-centered marriage.
Marriage exposes your limitations, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. You’ll be confronted with uncomfortable truths, especially around the intimate topics of sex and money. And when your plans are thwarted, adjustments will need to be made, which can severely challenge your commitment to each other. Through the best and worst circumstances in life, you’ll be called on to support and satisfy another emotional human being. No easy task!
For me, married life is sometimes painful and difficult and absolutely wonderful. To have my sweetie by my side through all the ups and downs is a delight. He has my back and that makes me feel secure. Marriage stretches our comfort zones and pushes us to our limits. As a result, we have found happiness, not in marriage, but in being the best people we can be in our married state.
When you love your partner you work on supporting, not pleasing, your partner. Yes, there’s a time for making sure your partner is comfortable and worry-free. But there is a danger of becoming overly accommodating as this could cause you to shield your partner from challenging and uncomfortable opportunities for growth.
True lovers dedicate themselves to each other, holding the well-being of each other as a sacred trust. You work at bringing out the best in each other. And that’s what leads to happiness.
If that’s the kind of happiness you desire, look for ways to improve yourself first. When you create harmony between body, mind and spirit you have more to give to others. My free 7-Point Wellness Assessment is a great place to start in this self-exploration. And if you’re up for some 1:1 coaching, so am I! Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity.” ~ Dinkar Kalotra
Happy Anniversary to me and my sweetie! Today, August 22nd, is our 26th. It hasn’t always been easy. On the contrary, we’ve had our share of challenges, because neither of us knew how to be a good partner in a relationship. At times, we didn’t even know if we were going to make it. It has taken courage, vulnerability and a lot of mindful determination to cultivate a healthy, lasting relationship.
We both come from emotionally impoverished homes, so we started with unhealthy ways of getting our needs met. Today, we share a loving relationship mostly because we have worked persistently to understand and appreciate each other and fight fairly. It will continue to be a daily effort and a life-long journey.
One very significant thing I’ve learned is that I can only change me – I can’t change my sweetie. Nor do I want to. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that irritate me, but I’ve discovered how to be a good partner in a relationship. Rather than waiting for your partner to initiate change, start with yourself. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily your partner follows. Let me share some other discoveries…
Practice acceptance not judgment. Your partner is who he or she is. When you truly value your partner’s unique qualities and gifts, you build your partner up. Being overly critical really hurts, so that’s something to be avoided.
Look for the positive. The more you focus on something, the larger it becomes in your mind. If you focus on positive things, you’ll have fewer irritations. If you do need to call attention to a negative aspect, do it in a positive way. Commend first, and then state the source of friction as a shared problem, looking for how both of you can contribute toward a solution.
Be more giver than taker. People who give are happier. And it encourages your partner to reciprocate in kind.
Show appreciation and gratitude. Gratitude is more than a feeling. It needs to be expressed in thankful words and actions. “I appreciate this about you” or “I’m so glad you…” are phrases that need to be spoken often.
Work as a team of “we.” “Me, you, I, yours, mine” are words that create division and an adversarial atmosphere. But when you speak and act as “we,” you’re a team, working toward a common goal. It’s important to have shared goals and routines. Regularly eating and talking together helps create a happy relationship. And look for ways to help each other every day.
Apologize often. If you’re always trying to be right, you’re going to lose your loving relationship. Apologizing is a way of acknowledging that you understand the way your partner feels. “I’m sorry I made you feel…” can solve a world of problems.
Be realistic about the ups and downs. You want your partner to be there for you, so look for ways you can always be there for your partner. Celebrate the good times and work together to get through the hard times.
Practice vulnerability. This one is hard, because we’re so afraid of rejection. To achieve real intimacy, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Successful communication with your partner involves picking the right time and the right words. A quiet, relaxed time allows you to open up slowly to your partner. In that way you can test the waters. If your initial revelation is met with acceptance and love, then you’ll feel like you can open up further. Set the stage with comments like, “I really need to tell you how I’m feeling about something, and it’s not easy for me. So I don’t need you to “fix” anything, I just need you to let me get it all out. Okay?”
Keep the playfulness and novelty alive. You may think you know each other well, but let me assure you there’s plenty left to discover. And nothing brings that out like making time to play together. Try new and exciting activities together. Keep your sense of humor and don’t take life too seriously.
Show affection. Humans thrive on touch, and communication is improved when we incorporate the power of touch. Daily hugging, kissing, or hand holding are important. Look for ways to perform little acts of kindness.
Give your partner space. Find that sweet spot where you both feel close, without feeling smothered.
Fight fair. Set boundaries of when and how you’ll discuss disagreements. Yelling, hitting, name-calling or character assassination has no place in a loving relationship. Practice active listening and be willing to compromise.
To be a good partner in a relationship takes being a good communicator. Most of us have not been taught how to do that. If you’d like to learn how to express your feelings in ways that build strong relationships, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll
It’s hard to stay motivated day in and day out. One day you’re fired up, the next day you might feel like you’re walking through sludge to get anything done. And we’re constantly being bombarded with distractions. Many people call it suffering from the “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome.” It’s so easy to lose focus. And without focus, you’ll lose your motivation. If you’d like to know how to keep your motivation high, despite whatever happens in your life, please pay attention to the following tips.
How to keep your motivation high through life’s ups and downs…
1. Know and always remember your ‘why.’
Your goals and plans are fueled by your big ‘why’. Why you want something determines how you’ll go after it. So what do you really care about? What are you willing to sacrifice to get it? How can you achieve it, while staying true to yourself, your values, and your dreams?
2. Create an action plan every night.
When you go to sleep with your next day planned out on paper, you’ll sleep better and get more done the following day. Make sure you list two or three action items that get you closer to your big goals. This will keep you focused on what really matters, so you can wake up early and get much more accomplished.
3. Keep your strength up through restorative sleep.
Without sleep, you won’t have the energy you need to keep your motivation high. Resist the urge to stay up late into the night, pushing yourself because you hope to get everything on your to-do list done. Sleep deprivation assures that you won’t function properly that night or for days to come. You’ll accomplish more, with higher quality of work, if you make sleep a priority. Cut work off at a reasonable hour, relax and get your 8 to 10 hours.
4. Begin each day with constructive “me time”.
In order to keep your motivation high, it’s absolutely necessary to start your day by becoming centered and setting your intentions for the day.
5. See distractions for what they are and avoid them.
There are so many things that vie for your attention, so it’s important to make sure of what’s really important for TODAY and ignore or avoid everything else. It helps to carry a notepad and capture ideas you want to try in the future. Then it’s okay for your brain to get back to focusing on today. You don’t have to be continually trying new tools, apps, or methods.
6. Regularly seek inspiration.
Just as you need a regular supply of nourishing food for your physical health, you need a regular supply of inspirational food for your soul and spirit. Seek out inspirational people who are already living the life that you want to live, and avoid people who affect you negatively.
7. Fight procrastination.
Once a minute passes, you can’t get it back. Becoming more mindful helps you notice how precious each moment is, so you choose not to waste time. Greater awareness of your needs and desires helps you make better decisions. For example, you’ll say, “No I won’t watch TV, because I want to watch this video so I can learn this new skill.” Mindful decisions will help you get the most out of every second of every day.
How will you keep your motivation high? Which one of these tips resonated most with you? Does one highlight an area in which you’d like more accountability? If so, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.” ― Amy Poehler
Recently I spent some time in Italy, my country of origin, visiting family. I love Italy! It has an amazing history, great food and incredible sightseeing. My family is really tight; we care for one another and watch out for each other. Sometimes though, this profound care becomes advice-giving, unbridled criticism and blatant control.
I think it’s cultural, not just a family trait. I remember my mom gossiping with her friends, passing her time talking about others and even trying to tell others how to live their lives. As a kid, I vowed to live my own life and let others live theirs. Even with that strong declaration, it has taken some time to shed the guilt and shame for not following other people wishes for me. Now, I help other women reconnect with their deeper wisdom, find their own way, and create the life they really want!
The truth is…you can’t change a controlling person. You can only change the way they interact with you, by giving them a different YOU to respond to – someone who refuses to let other people’s opinions control your happiness.
If you feel like you’re controlled by other people’s opinions, how do you stop it? Firstly, it’s important to discern: are you sending “Control Me” signals to others? Unwittingly you might be telling others to take over. For example, you can do this by…
Neglecting yourself. By not taking care of yourself, you’re subconsciously telling others that you need them to nag you and make you “eat better, get more exercise, etc.”
Rebelling, to get more attention. By needlessly challenging genuine authority, you’ll get attention, but not the kind of attention that makes you feel better about yourself.
Failing to meet obligations. By not doing what you agree to do, you invite others to step in and get it done.
Asking for help when you don’t need it. By being afraid to make mistakes, because you don’t want to be held accountable, you’re inviting others to take control.
Saying yes to everything. By overextending yourself, you create a situation where others will always be on your case to fulfill your promises.
Choosing to remain silent. By not being in touch with your feelings, you may not have a clear idea of what your values are or where you stand.
Self-sabotaging behaviors like these invite controlling people to take over your life. How do you stop letting other people’s opinions control you? Consciously make yourself believe that their opinions don’t matter, in the sense that they don’t make you disown your true self. (Because you care about other people, of course their opinions will matter, in the sense of understanding them and remaining connected to them.) Here are three other key areas to work on…
- Take responsibility for yourself. It takes effort to be a person of integrity, whose word means something. Avoid mental and physical laziness. If you don’t want people to nag or control you, don’t put yourself in a situation that allows it. Strive to always keep your word. If you can’t fulfill a request, or you don’t really want to, then don’t agree to it. This is key: learn to control yourself, so others aren’t forced to do it for you.
- Resolve internal conflicts. Most of the time, when you’re worried about what other people think, you’re projecting your own fear, embarrassment, or self-judgment based on comparisons between your life and that of others. Learn to listen to this internal talk and create harmony between your Parts. My Tea Time Exercise can help you settle this internal conflict.
- Increase self-esteem. Self-esteem is just that – esteem, worth, love, honor, respect and value you give yourself. Others simply can’t give you self-esteem. So start feeling great about yourself!
Ultimately this is YOUR life, your journey. You’re the one who has to be happy and satisfied with how it’s lived. As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
If you’re ready to put other people’s opinions where they belong and make a commitment to your own happiness, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Together, we can work through the issues that may be holding you back.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Where are you headed in life? Are you on the right path? Are you feeling lost? Is it time for a course correction? Every so often it’s beneficial to ask questions like these so you can assess your wellbeing, dreams and desires…and then change what isn’t working for you any longer.
Take a moment to experience how your body reacts to the following seventeen areas of life. Does each one make feel free and joyful, or do some of them make you experience pain, loss or other negative effects?
- Growth & learning
- Daily relaxation
This exploratory exercise helps you identify the areas of life that are making you feel lost. It takes courage to give attention to these feelings, but it’s the first step to feeling whole again. Over the last few years, I’ve been coaching people to extraordinary personal success. Along the way, I’ve gleaned some life lessons that you can use to create more joy in these lost areas of your life. Here are three of them that make the biggest impact:
1. Be the boss…take responsibility…make the hard choices. I’ve found that so many people struggle with taking ownership of their own lives. Somewhere along the way, they’ve given away their power to things that don’t serve them anymore. They don’t feel like they control their own lives.
But at some point, you have to realize you chose those things…the job, the family, the life. You may not be able to change your past, but if you want your future to reflect your desires, start managing your life.
I don’t mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse and abandoning your children. Instead of following the whims of your past, mindfully shift your thoughts and experiences to ones that bring you joy. No matter what the circumstance is, you can change your focus. Rather than fixating on an annoyance, look for the positive in each experience. As you make this your new way of being, you’ll find that the former irritations and annoyances bother you little, if at all.
2. Distinguish healthy habits from mindless routines. Pay attention to how your daily habits may be shutting you off from new experiences. For example, when you work for yourself, you sit at home in front of a computer a lot. This creates tunnel vision. If you don’t go out to lunch with friends; if you don’t leave the house; if you don’t get outside stimuli…life begins to stagnate. Your daily routine imprisons you, without you even realizing it.
Look for ways to shake things up…eat a different breakfast, try a different exercise routine, accept more invitations to get out. Become more mindful and self-aware of what you say “yes” or “no” to. In that way, you make each decision a choice, not just a reflexive habit that may not be serving you any more.
3. Ask for and accept help…often. Independence is especially prized in Western culture. But think about this: what dreams could you pursue, if you relied more on others who want to help? Let go of that voice that says you have to do it by yourself. (If you’re curious about exploring a coaching partnership, but you still have reservations, please reach out to me with any questions.)
When you’re feeling lost, it’s important to actively choose systems for living that help you become the person you want to be. If you’d like to dig more deeply into assessing your state of wellness, I invite you to download my free 7-Point Wellness Assessment. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching practice to start clients on the journey to finding their personal truth.