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The Key to success in Relationships

be known for your kindness and warmth

1. Pay attention to the way you react to others. Are you quick to form judgments before hearing all the facts? Do you tend to stereotype people? Try and stand back and analyse your interactions with other people. Is there anything you should change, or do differently? Try putting yourself in their place, and thinking about their outlooks, opinions and needs.

2. What are you like at work or school? Do you try to get attention and be noticed for your successes? It is possible to be humble and self-confident at the same time. When you are humble, you focus on the successes of others. However, you’re also aware of your gifts and strengths, and are quietly confident about your abilities to work well, do a good job, and achieve success.

3. Be open to admitting you may have some weaknesses! All of us have areas we could work on, and improve. Admitting you’re not perfect is not the same as feeling as if you’re a failure. Do an honest self-evaluation and try to turn your weaknesses into strengths?

4. Look at the way your deal with stress, and how you react to stressful situations. Do you get annoyed and upset every time there’s a delay or your plans get frustrated? Do you take the role of victim and start blaming others? Being able to regulate your emotions and stay calm and composed in tough situations is a mark of high emotional intelligence. This is key for succeeding in relationships, at school and in the business world.

5. Be willing to accept responsibility for your actions. If you’ve hurt or upset someone, then admit it to yourself and apologise. Don’t just ignore or avoid the situation. Most people will respect you if you apologise – but you’ll lose respect if you act like nothing`s wrong.

6. Finally, always think about how your actions and words will affect other people. Is it going to make life easy or difficult for them? How would you feel if you were in their place? Then adapt and compromise so that everybody wins.

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7 Signs that Show you’re Negatively Attached to the Past

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  1. You can’t, or won’t, talk about it.
  2. You’re constantly being hit by “those same old feelings.”
  3. You can’t relax and be yourself with certain people from your past.
  4. You’re attracted to partners who treat you negatively.
  5. You over-react, and find it hard to calm down.
  6. You have poor boundaries, and always feel you’re being used.
  7. You’re always making poor decisions, and repeating old mistakes.

Ode to Fall

quarry lake

Fall is setting in, the world is turning yellow, and though the sun still shines there’s a chill in the air. Yet despite the awesome beauty I wake up in the morning with a feeling of heaviness that wasn’t there before.

There’s a lot to be said for knowing yourself well. For these are age-old feelings I’ve experienced in the past. And knowing that is helpful as I don’t look for some ghosts, or dig around for issues that, perhaps, I should process. Instead, I choose to focus on old proven strategies that force me to be thankful and remember all that’s good. I know that helps me conquer the dark shadows and malaise. It gets me through the first hours – so I can enjoy this day.

True – it’s no fun fighting demons that assault as days draw in; but neither can I let them rule my life or pull me down. I’ve learned that feelings change, and I can help that change along by recognizing patterns I’ve observed across the years.

So here’s to colder weather, darker nights, and shorter days. They have a unique beauty, and are special in themselves. They stir up comfy memories of being wrapped up, snug and warm … of lazy, cosy evenings when I curl up by the fire. And that’s what I will picture when I feel that pang of loss – because I know that summer has been swallowed up by Fall.

Yes, there’s beauty all around us, and there’s good that we can find if we’ll allow the seasons to do their work in us. Those lessons are invaluable; they’re not something to dread. And the brilliant, vibrant colours of this season promise this.

How to Overcome Emotional Numbness

listen to the silence

Emotional numbness is where we experience mild to severe feelings of detachment – so it’s hard for us to access normal feelings any more. This includes both negative and positive emotions as you can’t decide to shut just one feeling off. Common causes of emotional numbness include different stresses or traumas … from receiving bad news … to being in an accident … to recovering from the death of someone close … to a relationship breakup … to feeling deeply humiliated or ashamed. So how do you overcome emotional numbness and live with emotional integrity again?

1. The first thing to do is to choose to respect and allow all emotions – no matter what they are. Also, try and grasp the fact that suppressing your emotions will likely lead to heartache and problems later on (as they’ll possibly resurface at inappropriate times.)

2. Try to understand that feelings and actions are two very different, and unrelated, things. That is, you can still feel angry without becoming violent – so don’t assume your feelings will affect your actions, too.

3. Try to figure out the message behind intense emotions. Are you angry because you’ve been hurt, used or abused? Are you sad because deep down you feel that you’ll never find true love – as you can’t believe that anyone will love you for yourself?

4. Take that risk – and find the courage to ask someone for help. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll know that there are those who genuinely love you like – like a true and caring friend. The important thing is not to try and isolate yourself, and to make the extra effort to prioritise self-care. You need other people to help you work through this.

5. Seek professional help if the symptoms persist. There are excellent counsellors and therapists out there who have the training and skills to help you to get free – so you can live a more fulfilling and normal, healthy life.

6. Be patient within yourself. It’s likely to take time – as you will need to learn to trust, and take some barriers down, so you can be yourself again (and that is often hard to do when you’ve experience hurt and pain).

Do you Suffer from Imposter Syndrome?

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Impostor syndrome is a psychological condition where people are unable to believe in their successes. Thus, despite the evidence that points to the fact that they are skilled, capable and competent they write this off as temporary – or timing and good luck. Thus, they constantly struggle with feeling like a fraud.

So what are some ways that you can counteract this syndrome?

  1. Admit this is something that you suffer from. When we know we’re not alone, and our symptoms have a name (because they are part of an identified disorder) it can help disperse the feelings of anxiety and shame.
  2. Distinguish between facts and feelings. Everyone feels stupid and inept at times. That doesn’t mean we’re stupid. Our feelings aren’t facts. So try to be objective – and seek out the real truth.
  3. Don’t demand perfection. It is good to set goals and have high standards for yourself. However, it’s unhealthy to obsess over every little thing. You’ll simply waste a lot of time and never feel quite satisfied. And all of us are human and make lots of mistakes.
  4. Take a look at the rules you have imposed upon yourself. Are you saying to yourself: “I have to always get it right”;”I should never ask for help”; or “It is bad to make mistakes”? These are misguided rules that undermine your self-esteem. They set you up for failure as they close the door to help.
  5. Change the tapes in your head. Instead of constantly repeating faulty self-destructive thoughts (such as “Wait till they discover just how useless I am”) replace it with a thought that builds esteem and confidence. (Such as, “I’m better at this now as I know what I am doing … It’s so much easier when you’ve been here for a while.”)
  6. Don’t look to others to affirm your success. Don’t look to other people to rate and judge your work. Set your own personal goals, and mark your progress and success.
  7. Fake it till you make it. Almost every individual who succeed in life has a period when they’re acting, as they don’t feel confident. It doesn’t mean that they’re a failure, a fake or a fraud. It means that they’re still learning, and are not afraid to try.

5 Easy Steps to Keeping your Cool

tough situations

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.

How to Forgive Yourself

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1. Recognise the importance of forgiving yourself. Not forgiving yourself will deplete your energy, and leave you feeling all chewed up inside. It keeps you living in the past instead of living in the present – so it’s hard to make the most of what’s happening today.

2. Recognise the effects of not forgiving yourself. Those negative emotions like shame and regret are also bad for our long term health – as they undermine and damage a healthy immune system.

3. Name the emotions you are struggling with. Simply naming your emotions can help reduce their power. It brings some order and control into our lives again when we’re hit by overwhelming and negative emotions.

4. Reflect on the fact that we all make mistakes, make foolish decisions and act badly at times. It’s part of being human – you’re an imperfect person. We all do stupid things, and say some things that we regret.

5. Try to let go of other people’s expectations. We can’t please everyone – it’s not going to happen. Decide on your own standards, then try to live by them. Also, if you’re looking for approval you’ll never measure up as you’ll always meet someone who will criticise and judge.

6. Choose to practise self-forgiveness. It’s healthy to acknowledge the regrets that you have – but then you need to be willing to let go of the past – and decide to move forwards – and live life differently.

How to be Mindful in your Daily Life

in the silence

  1. Allow and accept the different feelings you experience – knowing these will change throughout the day.
  2. Don’t judge yourself for having negative feelings.
  3. Don’t believe every thought that pops into your head. Some of these are true, but many will be false.
  4. Slow down and take life at a manageable pace.
  5. Stay in the present; do one thing at a time.
  6. Let go of the need to control everything.
  7. Practise being curious; notice little things.
  8. Use your 5 senses to become more aware of what is happening all around you in the world.
  9. Nourish and take care of your body and mind.
  10. Practice contentment and gratitude.

Relationship Check Up

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A healthy relationship means that both members of the couple are…

1. Communicating with each other: Talking about problems without screaming and shouting; listening to each other, and respecting their viewpoint; being willing to adapt and to sometimes change their mind.

2. Showing respect for one another: Valuing the other person’s culture, beliefs, viewpoints, opinions and boundaries. Also, treating each other in a kind and caring way.

3. Demonstrating and conveying trust: Each person is trustworthy and trusts the other person – because they have been shown that they are worthy of that trust.

4. Honest with each other: Both are open and honest – but are private as well; and they don’t demand the other person tells them everything.

5. Equals: They make joint decisions and treat each other well. No person calls the shots or determines all the rules.

6. Able to enjoy their own personal space: As well as spending time together, they spend time on their own. They’re respect the fact they’re different, and they need their own life, too.

7. Decisions about sex are discussed, and are consensual: They discuss sex together, including birth control. There’s no one individual sets the rules and standards here.

Signs of an unhealthy relationship

An unhealthy relationship develops where one, or both, of the partners is…

1. Failing to communicate: Problems are ignored, or not talked about at all. One or both don’t really listen, and they rarely compromise.

2. Acting in ways that are disrespectful: One or both are inconsiderate toward the other person; and they don’t behave in ways that send the message that they care.

3. Refusing to trust the other person: One or both is suspicion of their partner’s loyalty. Hence, they make false accusations, or won’t believe the truth.

4. Acting in a way that is dishonest: One or both is deceptive, or they lie and hide the truth.

5. Acting in a controlling way: One person thinks that they should set the one who rules, controls the other person, and say how things should be.

6. Beginning to feel squashed and smothered / cutting themselves off from friends and family: One partner is possessive, or feels threatened and upset, when the other’s with their family or spends time with their friends.

7. Attempting to pressurise the other into sexual activity / refusing to talk openly about birth control: One partner wants the other to participate in sex, or to engage in different practices against that’s person’s will. Or, one of the partners stops using birth control, or expects the other person to “take care of all that.”

Signs of an abusive relationship

An abusive relationship develops when one of the parties…

1. Starts to communicate in ways that are abusive: When arguments occur, one of the partners screams and cusses, or they verbally threaten or attack the other person.

2. Shows disrespect through acting in abusive ways: This is where one of the partners abuse, harms or threatens the physical safety of the other individual.

3. Wrongly accuses their partner of flirting or cheating: One of the partners is convinced – with no real grounds – that their partner is cheating or having an affair. Thus, they lash out verbally, or hurt, the accused partner.

4. Refuses to accept responsibility for the abuse: When they fly into a rage or act in ways that are abusive, they miminise their actions and refuse to accept blame. They may even blame their partner for “causing the abuse.”

5. Starts to control the other partner: One partner has no say as the other sets the rules – and arguing against that simply leads to more abuse.

6. Does what they can to isolate their partner: One partner has control of who the other person sees, the way they spend their time – and, even, clothes they buy and wear. Thus, they start to lose their confidence and personality.

7. Forces sexual activity: The frequency, type and circumstances for sex are determined by one partner – and the other must comply. If they don’t acquiesce it leads to violence or abuse. Also, sometimes violence is included in the sex.

Steps for Letting Go of Painful Memories

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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.