7 Simple Steps to Greater Happiness

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  1. Live fully in the moment and appreciate the now. There’s always something good to be thankful for.
  2. Notice the little things that make life easier, bring a smile to you face, or relieve your sense of stress.
  3. Seek to simply your life – try cut down what you do, reduce your time commitments, and demands being made of you.
  4. Instead of focusing on stuff, see the beauty in the world. Nature helps us to relax – and can restore a sense of peace.
  5. Focus on the positives. Try and be the kind of person who looks for what is good, is hopeful, optimistic and sees the glass “half full”.
  6. Accept what can’t be changed, and relinquish your desire to always have control – so that things turn out the way you’d planned.
  7. Appreciate and value all the people in your life. Treasure and invest time in your key relationships.
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What is Emotional Abuse?

once you fall in love

An emotionally abusive person may “dismiss your feelings and needs, expect you to perform humiliating or unpleasant tasks, manipulate you into feeling guilty for trivial things, belittle your outside support system or blame you for unfortunate circumstances in his or her life. Jealousy, possessiveness and mistrust characterize an emotionally abusive person”[1]. In summary, emotional abuse includes the following:

1. Acting as if a person has no value and worth; acting in ways that communicate that the person’s thoughts feelings and beliefs are stupid, don’t matter or should be ignored.

2. Calling the person names; putting them down; mocking, ridiculing, insulting or humiliating them, especially in public.

3. Controlling through fear and intimidation; coercing and terrorizing them; forcing them to witness violence or callousness; threatening to physically harm them, others they love, their animals or possessions; stalking them; threatening abandonment.

4. Isolating them from others, especially their friends and family; physically confining them; telling them how they should think, act, dress, what decisions they can make, who they can see and what they can do (limiting their freedom); controlling their financial affairs.

5. Using that person for your own advantage or gain; exploiting their rights; enticing or forcing another to behave in illegal ways (for example, selling drugs).

6. Stonewalling and ignoring another’s attempt to relate to and interact with them; deliberately emotionally detaching from a person in order to hurt them or “teach them a lesson”; refusing to communicate affection and warmth, or to meet their emotional and psychological needs.

How to Cope with Flashbacks

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Flashbacks are memories of past traumas. They can occur in a number of different forms – as sounds, images, smells, body sensations, numbness (or a lack of sensations). Often they’re accompanied by a feeling panic, where the individual feels trapped and completely powerless. Flashbacks can also occur in dreams. Because the sensations are so frightening and intense – and are unrelated to what’s happening in the present – the person often feels as if they’re going crazy. What to do to cope with flashback:

1. Tell yourself that you are having a flashback – that it will pass in time – and soon everything will return to normal.

2. Remind yourself that the worst is over – as these terrifying feelings are re-experienced memories. The event that took place is now lodged in the past, and you managed to survive it, and will survive it now.

3. Allow yourself to express the powerful feelings of terror, panic, hurt and/or rage. It is right that you honour your experience.

4. Ground yourself firmly in the here-and-now. Breathe deeply. Notice the sounds and sensations around you in the room. Allow the feelings of panic and terror to slowly dissipate. Keep breathing deeply, and exhaling deliberately. Allow a sense of calm to gradually replace the faintness, shakiness, dizziness and tightness.

5. Reorient yourself. Keep focusing on what you can see, hear, feel, smell, touch and feel in the present. Feel the chair supporting you. Use your five senses to bring you back to this point in time.

6. Speak to your terrified inner child. Reassure them that they are going to be OK. Tell them they are safe in the present. They are not trapped. They can escape at any time.

7. Seek professional support to deal with your flashbacks. Find an experienced therapist who is trained to guide you to a place of healing. You do not have to do cope with this alone. There is help available for you.

How to Recognize a Toxic Friend

life's too short

1. Is this a person who always puts you down? A friend is someone who accepts you as you are – and allows you to be different, and to think for yourself, and to make your own decisions – without an explanation. However, if a person is demeaning or always puts you down, criticises your opinions, or the way you dress or look, then that’s someone to avoid as they’re a toxic friend.

2. Do they gossip about you? A friend is someone you can totally trust. You can share your deepest secrets, and say what’s on your mind – and they won’t tell a person or betray your trust. However, if you always have to watch what you say around a friend, as they’re likely to gossip or let a secret slip, then it’s likely that this person is a toxic friend.

3. Do they constantly mock and make fun of you? A bit of gentle ribbing shows affection between friends. But if they’re always making fun of you, or highlighting your faults, or attacking you in public, then they’re not a genuine friend.

4. How do you feel after being with your friend? Think about your answers to the following:

– Do you feel defensive when you spend time with them?

– Do you feel hurt or upset after spending time with them?

– Do you feel as if you always have to justify yourself instead of being “natural” around your friend?

– Do you enjoy their company or do you feel ambivalent?

– Do they undermine your confidence and self-esteem?

– Do you feel attacked and used after spending time with them?

– Does the friendship feel unbalanced and require a lot of work?

– Is it more a competition than a genuine friendship?

Note: If you recognize the signs of a toxic friend, then it’s time to move on and find a different friend. Being with this person will wreak your happiness.

Steps for Letting Go of Painful Memories

one day at a time

Experiences can leave us with some painful memories. They tie us to the past and prevent us moving on. And the only way to freedom is to work on letting go – so these memories don’t haunt us or keep us trapped in pain. Below are some guidelines to help you work on this.

1. Before you can let go, you must face whatever happened and accept that it is part of your past experiences. Suppression doesn’t work as a long-term solution. It can only be a band aid that brings temporary relief. Talk to someone you trust, or write about it in your journal. You need to share what happened, in order to move on.

2. Identify the lessons you have learned from what has happened. There’s always a lesson – so look for what you’ve learned. It doesn’t make it better – but it does lessen its power.

3. Write the lesson down on a piece of paper and repeat it to yourself when you’re hit by old, painful memories. For example, if you’ve been scarred by abuse, then you might write something like: “My experience of abuse does not determine who I am. I’m a stronger person now, and that is not my destiny. I’m choosing my own future, and the person I will be.”

4. Repeat this mantra often so it takes root in your mind. Allow it to be stronger than the bad experience. Say it often, till you mean it, then you’ll start to feel you’re freer. Persevere and keep on fighting when those old memories return.

5. Seek to be a person who’s at peace with themselves. When peace is your focus, old thoughts and memories have much less power over how you think and feel. However, seeking after peace must be a conscious, constant choice.

6. When the past tries to intrude, focus firmly on the present. Ground yourself in what’s happening around you in the room, and try to breathe deeply – and deliberately relax. You are here in this moment; you’re not living in the past.

7. Forgive – for your own sake. Try to heal from what happened – then let resentments go. You don’t want them in your life for they’ll just tie you to the past. It’s not an ease process; it takes work and discipline. But it is worth the daily struggle – as one day you’ll be free.

Five Easy Steps to Keeping your Cool

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It is surprisingly easy to lose your cool, and to react to minor stresses and to irritating people. However, most of us would rather feel relaxed and in control, and the following guidelines can help us reach this goal.

  1. Keep things in perspective: Often we catastrophise or over-react when the issue or offense is insignificant. Here, it is best to force yourself to take a balanced approach and remind yourself, “it’s minor, and not worth the energy!”
  2. Visualise yourself coping: Take a few deep breaths and let your feelings settle down. Draw a mental picture of a calm, unflustered “you”, who takes their time to respond and is able to cope. Then, in a calm, low voice – with a few well chosen words – respond as you would like, so you maintain your self-respect.
  3. Be aware of your triggers: When someone pushes our buttons we generally react. However, if we know what those are then we can regain control, and can practice how to cope when our feelings are stirred. Also, if we’re tired or hungry, feeling cold, or over-stretched then we’re much more likely to over-react.
  4. Create a calm environment: Stay one step ahead by preparing yourself for inevitable setbacks and infuriating people. For example, play some music in the car, or take a walk during lunch, or keep some photos in your office of the people that you love.
  5. Distract yourself: When you feel the pressure building, or you start to ruminate, think of something that’s amusing, or a fun event you’ve planned.

These are just a few suggestions to help you stay detached so that stresses and people don’t make you lose your cool.

The 10 Commandments for a Good Life

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1. I accept that I’m not perfect, and there’s no perfect time. Too many people are hanging around and waiting for the perfect opportunity – or the time when they are perfect and have all the skills they need. But life rewards effort; so get out there and work hard … and eventually you’ll find that you succeed and reach your goals .

2. I can’t please everyone no matter how hard I tr. No matter what you do or how hard you try there will always be someone who’s disgruntled or upset. So, don’t look for affirmation; just do what you think’s right.

3. I will participate in something I believe in. It doesn’t really matter what activity you choose, as long as it is something that ignites your passion … as this will bring fulfilment and true meaning to your life.

4. I will learn to prioritise and do what matters first. We all get distracted by what seems to be most urgent … or something that is fun and makes life less of a burden. But if you’re going to succeed you need to set priorities. Don’t allow what’s less important to distract you from your course.

5. I will be select when it comes to choosing friends. We’re influenced and shaped by the people we spend time with. Their impact is profound – even though this is subconscious. So be wise in who you choose to be your confidantes and friends. Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you.

6. I will be there for others, and will help them if I can. In life, we reap what we sow – and that’s a crucial principle. That means the more that you help others, the more they will help you.

7. I will choose to focus on the positives. Our thoughts affect our feelings and the ways that we behave. If you don’t expect success then it’s likely you will fail – in your work, relationships and life in general. So listen to your self talk … and straighten out your thinking … and start to focus on the positives!

8. I will true to myself. You can’t be happy living someone else’s life. You need to discover and develop your own authentic self. That’s when you’re truly beautiful, and life feels meaningful.

9. I will live in the present and enjoy the “now”. The past is gone and the future isn’t promised. Life is happening in this moment, so seize the day and enjoy “now”.

10. I will look for the good and be thankful for each day. Life is full of gifts, if we will only stop and notice. If we choose to be thankful, and treasure all life’s gifts, then we’ll find our lives are filled with joy and happiness – and the hurts and disappointments won’t weigh us down as much.

Signs that it’s Time to Walk Away from a Relationship

never chase love

1. Dishonesty: He or she repeatedly lies to you about where they were, what they were doing, who they were with etc.

2. Lack of support for you: He or she is always looking for support from you but gives very little back in return. You are the one who makes the most if the effort, and does the most of the work in the relationship.

3. Cheating: Any affair is a cause to question your relationship. Repeated affairs should be a deal breaker.

4. Condescension: If your partner frequently acts superior, condescendingly or rudely toward you … or criticises and puts you down in front of others … or deliberately tries to make you feel worthless and inadequate … then this is a toxic relationship. It’s time to say goodbye and walk away.

5. Volatile mood swings. Don’t hang around with someone who can suddenly turn nasty, or who likes to rant, rave and dump their feelings on you. While everyone is subject to some mood swings at times, don’t spend time with people whose emotions dominate.

6. Violence: Any violent relationship is a destructive and dangerous relationship. Love and violence should never co-exist.

7. The feelings have changed. Sometimes we just notice that we’ve changed and grown apart – and we don’t feel as if we love that person anymore. If romance has past its due-date, and we don’t have much in common, then it’s time to do the right things by you both, and walk away.

10 Things that can Wreck your Life

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1. Not living in the moment. Always wishing you were somewhere else, doing something different with other people.

2. Blaming your problems on your past. Although the past affects us, it need not define us. We can choose, decide and act – and take control of our lives. Don’t let your past heartache and pain affect who you become.

3. Running away from problems. It’s pointless to bury your head in the sand and pretend that things are fine when you’re dealing with a problem. Face reality, take action and work to turn things round.

4. Being ungrateful. Being thankful sets you free in your heart and mind. It inspires all that’s good and, also, oils relationships. But an ungrateful person will wear others down. It destroys your spirit, and it saps your energy.

5. Being angry and bitter. Refusing to forgive and bearing grudges against others will slowly poison our personality. It’s much better to release them and to focus, instead, on living a happy and fulfilling life.

6. Letting your expectations rule your life. Life rarely goes smoothly and according to plan – and people disappoint us and let us down. Accepting this is normal takes some tension out of life.

7. Disrespecting yourself and others. Every single person deserves respect, and every single person is fighting their own battle. So focus on being kind, understanding and forgiving.

8. Neglecting important relationship. A relationship that’s built on unconditional love – where a person accepts us for who and what we are – is truly a gift and is worth fighting for. Don’t take it for granted – recognise that it’s a gift.

9. Loving people who are bad for us. Not every person will build into your life. Be aware of those who who’ll use you, or who want to bring you down, or who want to hurt you, or destroy your confidence.

10. Never taking risks. If you always play it safe, you’ll find you end up going nowhere. You must be ready and willing to take risks. If you don’t, you may regret it as you’ll miss so much in life.

How to Receive Love

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It’s often very difficult for us to receive love. Perhaps our past has taught us that it’s never genuine – or love is not reliable, and won’t last in the end. If this is your experience, it’s understandable that trusting love is scary, and a step that’s hard to take. Below are some steps that can help you with this.

1. Believe people when they say they love you. Whether it be a partner, a good friend, or a family member, it is crucial that we accept those words as being true and genuine. For If you’re continually doubting and pushing them away, then you’ll hamper them proving that they truly do love you.

2. Stop being terrified of loss. It’s normal and common to hold back from trusting love if your heart has been broken, or your love has been betrayed. Why would you want to experience that again! However, if you don’t take a chance on a person who seems true, you’ll spend your whole life running, and be captive to your fears. And there are people who are safe, and who will genuinely care. So trust your intuition, and push past all that fear.

3. Love yourself. For some this is the hardest step to take. However, if you don’t love yourself then you cannot receive love – as deep down inside you don’t believe you deserve love. If this is true for you, take the time to figure out the reason why you feel you’re not worthy of being loved. Then, work on challenging and replacing this belief. (Perhaps with the help of a counsellor.)

4. Begin to take down the walls and to risk being vulnerable. Being authentic is scary as you feel so vulnerable. But you can take a few small steps, and can practice being real. Decide it’s not OK to be cynical and tough, and choose to be more open, and let others get close.

5. Learn from young children, and the way they receive love. They expect to be loved, to be treated with respect, and to have their needs met when they reach out for support. They don’t fear rejection, or think that they’ll be hurt. For them, love is natural, it’s healthy and innate. So try to believe that the same is true for you – and love is enriching, rewarding, safe, and good.