1. Physical contact: At the end of every day when you first see each other, before you do anything else, simply hold each other close and relax for a few seconds. At the very least, kiss each other. This allows for the release of oxytocin, known as the cuddle chemical, which helps strengthen your emotional bonds and increase feelings of trust. When you do this you use your physiology to improve your relationship with little effort on your part. It’s a simple act but it can have profound positive effects. Do this every day.
2. Keep talking – even when you are annoyed with each other: Disagreements often involve a misunderstanding. It’s easy to misinterpret your partner’s silence and imagine what they’re thinking. Guessing what the opposite sex is thinking is a very inaccurate science! Disagreements can be resolved a lot faster by simply communicating with one another. You’ve always got to be open to the possibility that you’re wrong – and be willing to apologise.
3. Have your own hobby: There’s pressure on couples to do every single thing together but it’s important to follow our own interests, as well as doing things together. When you have time away from each other it makes the times you when you do things together all the more special. Conversely, if you do not share any interests together, this can create a rift and the relationship can suffer from lack of quality time together.
4. Be honest: Many relationship breakups occur due to a lack of communication and honesty with each other about various things within the relationship e.g. financial values, habits, goals, expectations, parenting style and other friendships. Honest communication from the start of the relationship is an essential element of trust.
5. Show love, respect and gratitude every day: Take the time every day to tell each other the things you love and appreciate about each other and try to not let a day go by without saying “I love you”.
6. Don’t forget what you were like when you first got together: Remember your partner as they were when you chose to enter into a relationship together. Way back when you were each other’s best friends. Remember who YOU were back then and take the time to be a pleasure to be around. When we put effort into recapturing how it used to be and how we used to be, it has a very positive effect and increases happiness.
7. Let them have a bad day: Learn to allow each other to have a bad day without telling each other to ‘snap out of it’. Mostly your partner’s bad mood isn’t about you and it will pass if you give them some space and support.
8. Learn to resolve disagreements in ways that strengthen your relationship: When you are in a relationship where you feel emotionally and physically safe, you can build trust and mutual respect by trying to see the world through your partner’s eyes, not just your own. This is especially important when you disagree because unresolved conflict can turn toxic. Focus more on how you can contribute to the relationship in a positive way rather than trying to change your partner’s behaviour – that is their responsibility. Remember, you control your own behaviour so choose your words and actions wisely.
9. Be thoughtful: Showing your love isn’t just about what happens in the bedroom. It’s also about the caring little things you do for each other around the house. Taking the time to find out what your partner likes, what makes them feel loved, and making an effort to do it.
10. Don’t be mean: Being mean is like declaring war on your likelihood of staying together. There is nothing to be gained by being mean to your partner, through words or actions. A good relationship has its ups and downs but constant meanness is unacceptable and causes long-term psychological and physical problems.
How are you and your partner doing in these areas? Do you need help to create the relationship you want? Contact me for a free 30 minute session to see how couple coaching can take your relationship to a deeper, more connected level.
When we are close to others it is inevitable that we are going to feel what they feel whether life hands them lemons or lemonade. We feel joy for our family members and friends when a happy relationship develops, they receive a financial windfall, a much longed-for baby arrives, etc. We delight with them as they go through spiritual and personal insights that transform and strengthen them and become an inspiration to us on our own journey. But what happens when they go through the difficult times? A marriage ending, falling out with a loved-one, a suicide attempt, a debilitating illness, becoming homeless … we can be thrown into their pain almost as acutely as if it were our own.
Those who play a major part in our lives, who make up the fabric and the tapestry of our stories, will always experience highs and lows and while we are in the process of becoming detached from ego and living from the place of love, the human dramas continue to be played out all around us. Living from the heart, evolving closer towards who we really are (Love) somehow creates more sensitivity to the vibrations around us. We can no longer ignore the pain of people and the planet; we can no longer dismiss the awful or the incomprehensible. We run the gauntlet of human emotions so intensely that it feels as though we live through four emotional seasons in one day! We can breathe a sigh of relief when we return to the comfort of our own home, be grateful that it’s not happening to us but what do we do with the residue of emotions and having our buttons pushed that have probably been triggered from our own similar experiences?
Firstly, a Mindfulness practice of some kind must be the foundation of moving into a more peaceful way of being. Starting the day with spiritual study, prayer and meditation is food for the soul and it calms the senses. While we all have the choice about how we do that, it is vital that we use something to remind us we are one with All That Is and we connect with that Self and the ancient wisdom still held within our cells when we go into the stillness.
Being able to ‘let it go’ will release us immeasurably. A wonderful book to help with this process is David Hawkins’ Letting Go. In this book you will learn how to be with your emotions safely, acknowledge their presence and then quietly, and without drama, let them go. To deny they are there, to try and suppress or repress them will cause them to come out in our physical bodies as illness of some kind. So learning the great ‘letting go’ art will transform our lives.
Evaluating carefully and with conscious awareness about where to spend emotional and physical energy is also very important. Cancel a planned lunch, ask that friend to arrange for someone else to drive him or her to an appointment, turn the computer/telephone/mobile off and watch an uplifting video/DVD or walk in nature or have a massage. Ask someone for what you need – whether it’s just to talk, have a coffee/juice with, or give you a back rub. All these (and others) will boost us physically and emotionally – and we can choose to do so without guilt.
Looking after ourselves while we are looking after others will keep us focused and available, strong and inspiring. How better to help others than this?
Coming to a crossroads in life can be a painful process. Doesn’t it seem like you are just doing your own thing, minding your own business not hurting anybody and then, Wham! before you know it, there are changes a-foot and major decisions to be made. How did I get here? Why? What do I do next? How do I avoid making a mistake? More importantly, how do I avoid making the same mistake again? Why do I feel so alone? How will I know which is the right path to take next?
Here are some tips on effectively coping with change:
What’s the worst that can happen?
Understanding a change is the important first step to managing it because usually we are scared of change and afraid of the unknown. Try to figure out if the worst that can happen is actually as bad as what you think can happen? Learning about the details of the change can help things feel easier. Remember a time previously where change and decision making was scary and yet it all turned out brilliantly. Sometimes it's not as bad as it may seem at first, and it just takes a little time to get used to.
Celebrate the positives
Focusing on the positives can help you feel better about the change overall. They might not be completely obvious to begin with, and it might also take some time, but it’s worth it.
If the unwanted change is within your control, taking an active approach to coping has been shown to be useful. Try engaging in problem solving or goal setting to proactively address unwanted developments. Focusing on the problem at hand, developing a plan of action, and asking for advice are useful active strategies.
If the unwanted change is beyond your control, take a reflective approach. Accepting that there are things beyond your control and choosing to be comfortable with this is likely to bring greater calm than playing the blame game or waging unwinnable wars. Viewing change as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than a setback, might also help you to turn that frown upside down!
Manage your stress
Improving your ability to handle stress will go a long way to helping you deal with change. Try practicing mindfulness or meditation, or engaging in other relaxation techniques, take a nature walk, have a relaxing bath, listen to calming music. Consider talking to friends or family for advice or emotional support, or by investigating options for professional help.
Don’t forget, it’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed if there is too much happening at once. This is when your best approach is to put in place the things that are going to get you through it with as much ease and comfort and as less stress as possible.
When many problems occur at the same time in our lives, all demanding our attention and all needing to be solved, it can become very overwhelming. The brain can experience “fog”, a feeling of trying to think through thick mud. Thoughts that previously followed a seemingly ordered sequence become disordered, words easily found and used as part of that thinking sequence seem have disappeared out of our memory banks and the process of coherent thinking becomes quite illusive. The physical reaction to this kind of mental stress can be quite pronounced. We find it easier to pick up a virus; aches and pains in the body are accentuated, and headaches or migraines develop.
So what would help? Where do we start, how do we start, what is the first thing to? How do we reconnect with our power? How do we move from helplessness, to acceptance and all that that holds, and then onto resolving a problem in such a way as to bring about the highest good for all concerned?
Feng Shui says to declutter and the disruptive energy that is created when our homes are cluttered up with untidy piles of this and that will dissipate. Washing/ironing not done, newspapers lying over tables and couches, beds not made, floors not swept and dirty dishes littering the bench with, at the hottest time of the year, many buzzing flies finding great delight in breakfast, lunch and dinner being available in one place! While it might not seem the obvious place to start, thought patterns respond better in an atmosphere and energy of order. So get to and get tidying, even if and perhaps because, it is the thing you least feel like doing. Take one room at a time starting with the laundry and while the first load is washing start on the next room.
Next, get a clean piece of paper and your favourite pen/s. Make a list of all the things in your life that need attention in no particular order – just as they come to you. No need to do anything more than that. Getting them out of your head and on to paper will make some space in your mind to let solutions manifest themselves. It seems that we can be more objective when we have written things down and it certainly relives the stress. Solutions may even present themselves to you as you write. Otherwise, look at them again when you are feeling less overwhelmed and see what answers turn up.
Now make some space in your day to be quiet. For those who have small children, work full time or just seem to have a hectic life, taking a bath may be the only time you get to yourself but valuable time it is. Eileen Caddy, one of the co-founders of the Findhorn community in Scotland, found the only place she could be alone was in the toilet block! After a busy day she would go to the toilet block at the caravan park where the community was first set up and ended up channelling 3,000 messages during her time there. So, if you are determined to get time to yourself it can be done!
Going out into nature is also a good way of letting the stress slide off your psyche and being nurtured enough to get the thought processes going a coherent way. Attending a meditation group, taking a swim in the sea (whilst warm enough of course), a walk on the beach, in the bush or even the local park. Getting fresh air, some sunshine as well as personal space away from the intensity of the home/work environment makes space in the mind for problem solving.
If you have a friend or family member that you can go to and let off steam and be unconditionally accepted then don’t be afraid you are being a burden. If they are not able to be there for you, they will tell you. If they don’t tell you and it is going to add stress to their lives then they, too, need to work this process and learn how to say ‘No’.
The most powerful part of the process and perhaps the most difficult for most of us is acceptance. To accept the situation and/or persons involved without resistance is a vital step in the resolving process. In Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now in the chapter The Meaning of Surrender -Acceptance of the Now (page 171), he says:
“To some people, surrender may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, failing to rise to the challenges of life, becoming lethargic and so on. True surrender, however, is something entirely different. It does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action. Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is. Inner resistance is to say “no” to what is, through mental judgement and emotional negativity. It becomes particularly pronounced when things “go wrong,” which means that there is a gap between the demands or rigid expectations of your mind and what is. That is the pain gap. If you have lived long enough, you will know that things “go wrong” quite often. It is precisely at those times that surrender needs to be practiced if you want to eliminate pain and sorrow from your life. Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification and thus reconnects you with Being. Resistance is the mind.”
It may be necessary to do all these steps at once, to add a few more or to change the order and start with acceptance. Whatever way works for you, approaching problem solving from the place of peace and with the powerful assurance that we are making the right choices is a transforming experience.
As females, we are conditioned to be "real women" by the giving of our nurturing abilities to our partners, children and even, if necessary, elderly parents. We are praised and approved of by parents, partners, friends, siblings and society if we wait hand and foot on someone who happens to be physically or emotionally unwell. We are applauded for putting our own needs to one side, to consider the needs of the unwell person, what might help them and assist them in their recovery.
A taboo subject in many circles is the elephant that sits in the middle of the lounge room that everyone has to walk around but nobody will acknowledge is there. This elephant is the alcoholic, the drug addict, the gambler, the shopaholic, the sex addict, the over eater, the under eater, and even the depressed person, the angry person, the harshly critical and resentful person – generally the member of the family whose behaviour continually causes friction, tension and chaos. Through fear, this behaviour gets left unacknowledged and is not dealt with. The whole family suffers through this unhealthy lack of acknowledgement and everyone learns to live with secrets.
No matter what, the only person we can change is ourselves. So that’s the only place to start – by redefining our own self-image, self-worth and redefining our own needs. Be honest about the elephant in the lounge – if you are in an abusive situation and are keeping it to yourself, tell someone about it even if it is only an anonymous phone call to the Samaritans. Nothing will ever change if you keep quiet about your pain. There are also many wonderful helping organizations from like AlAnon (supporting the friends/loved ones of alcoholics) that can be accessed through Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Counselling, support groups, assertiveness courses, self-awareness courses are also helpful in building up the inner person to cope with and even love the person who is causing so much chaos and distress. And life coaching is a fabulous way to work though your current issues and create a life of peace and happiness.
Once you have become honest about what is going on allow yourself to be led to the right person or therapy for creating a safe place within to boost your self-worth and self-image to the strongest, most amazing place you have ever experienced. This will give you strength to address unhealthy issues and if necessary, make changes. Doing it alone can be difficult but with help, startling life changes will occur on all levels and life can again become an exciting and interesting experience.
Redefining “real women”, women who care enough about themselves to make the necessary changes (inside and out) to live a healthy and happy life, will not only liberate us but those who follow after us – our children.
Early last year I started a new full time job – away from home this time which was a bit of a stretch to my little grey cells and to my energy levels. But it struck me at the beginning of the second week that I was really in new movie in my life. As I pondered this I realised that in this new movie I could bring in all the things I had learned from the last movie that sustained me and brought me peace, happiness and closer to the true essence of myself. And because I had learned how to do this over a long period of time, I could now do it even quicker and save myself a lot of pain and anguish when it came to adjusting to the newness of the role and some of the things I might not be happy with. I didn’t have to take a long time to learn how to overcome what I didn’t like as I had developed that ability in the last movie, and other abilities in the one before that, and the one before that! But I kept forgetting what I had learned and had to start all over again in succeeding movies. But not this time, this time I could choose to do things differently. And the first thing I remembered was to not take myself so seriously.
New work processes had to be learned, deadlines were looming, and it all seemed to be taking forever to learn all this new work. But who was really stressing the most over this? Me – not the management. They had been very quick to point out that they knew the new team I was part of would take some time to learn things and they were very laid back and supportive about it all. So what was the point of me stressing if they weren’t? So I lightened up, relaxed, took my time and the flow kicked in.
So really, any movie we are starring in and any new role we take on can be as happy or unhappy, peaceful or fearful, calm or anxious as we want it to be. If we have learned how to handle similar situations in the past it’s really a matter of remembering what and how we did that in the new situations. Then all we need do is practically apply all these amazing lessons so we don’t have to painfully go through them all again.
And the other exciting thing is, if we haven’t yet mastered the art of coping with change and starring in a new movie, we can learn!
When I used to go walking on the boardwalk around the beautiful Tauranga estuary (New Zealand), I passed a large, modern house set in a picturesque valley. It looked cosy, nestled amongst the lovely willow trees with a view over the estuary towards the city. Quite an idyllic spot I had always thought. Months later we were visiting friends whose house was on the hill high above the estuary and this house, and I was shocked to find that what I could see of it from this height was totally different from how it looked from the boardwalk. Instead of the trees being close to the house, they were further away and the piece of land that the house was built on was quite stark with hardly any grass. There was a huge and quite unsightly swimming pool to one side and, quite frankly, it did not look cosy and idyllic at all. It struck me that so often, that’s what happens in relating details of events and/or conversations that take place, when there is more than one participant/observer. The perceptions of what takes place can be vastly different.
Sometimes when my husband and I are talking about something that happened I wonder if we were both in the same place at the same time! It seems that he will see things so differently from me, and while an outright battle could ensue to find out who is right, we choose to decide that we just see things differently. There will be times when he fills in the blanks for me and I will fill in the blanks for him.
There will be times when choosing to perceive situations/people from our holiness (our spiritual mind) can literally save a life. Caroline Myss tells the story of one such event that was related to her by a lady who attended one of her seminars. This lady, we will call her Robyn, was in a traffic hold up one afternoon and realised that an accident had taken place a number of cars ahead of her. She closed her eyes and prayed for the people involved in the accident not knowing what exactly had taken place. The road was eventually cleared and she carried on her way. Some months later, there was a knock at her door. An unknown woman was standing there with a large bunch of flowers in her hand. Robyn invited her in and the woman related her story. She had been riding her bicycle one afternoon some months before when she had been knocked down by a car and seriously injured. She had a ‘near death experience’ and while her spirit was out of her body she looked around and could see only black energy rising from the cars held up by the accident (they were complaining about being held up). But then she saw white light rising out of one of the cars further back and floated over to see where it was coming from. She observed Robyn praying in her car and knew that this white light being generated was healing light and it was for her. She also made a mental note of the number plate of Robyn’s car. She went back into her body, was taken to hospital and eventually made a full recovery. Amazingly, she remembered Robyn’s number plate and was able to track down her name and address. She thanked Robyn profusely for choosing to perceive the accident as an opportunity to pray and not to become angry for being held up in traffic. As you can imagine, Robyn was profoundly touched and moved to tears.
Knowing that choosing our perception literately creates outcomes in our lives, is it not important to choose to perceive from our holiness (our spiritual mind) and not our egos? You could save your relationships … or perhaps a life.
A certain sector of society is talking about living your life ‘on purpose’. What is that? Well, purpose comes from what meaning we wish to give to our lives. This is not ‘the meaning of life’ which many of people have searched for and found in a spiritual pathway, a philosophical belief or a worthy cause, but the purpose and meaning we give to our lives that gives us a reason to get up in the morning. Some say there is no meaning to life but that is a meaning in itself – that life has no meaning.
We all want a reason for existing. We don’t like to think that our lives have come about through some random events starting with micro organisms multiplying and cells dividing to make us into who we are. We may seek for something higher and greater for our lives but quite often don’t know what that is or how we go about finding it.
When I was 14 I went to a careers evening and when I found out how long I would have to spend at school before I became a psychiatrist (my considered career choice at the time) I was rather put off. I wasn’t encouraged in this desire by my parents (girls weren’t encouraged to think big in those days) so I dropped the idea. What is also interesting is that I never lost the desire to help others and over the last 30 years I have been involved in many charitable organisations that exist to help those in need in areas from mental health to spirituality to restoring woodlands (in the UK).
Through a series of events I became a trained Life Coach. What’s a life coach you ask? Is it coaching rugby? Is it coaching pregnant mums? No, life coaching, in my words, is the discovery and implementing of living your life ‘on purpose’ – living the life you always wanted to live but didn't know how to.
I feel life coaching needs to be taught at school to teenagers who are starting out on their careers. It would give a direction to their lives that is more than just about earning money and fulfilling one’s own ego needs – living a life with intention and contributing to the greater good brings about huge inner expansion and fulfillment.
Living your life ‘on purpose’ will bring you immeasurable satisfaction and that purpose will always be there to steer you through life’s ups and downs. Having a purpose will ensure that you know you will be contributing to the greater good, will attract love and support, and give you a confidence that living life aimlessly will never give you. And the adventures you could have along the way will be mind boggling! The only limit is your imagination.
There is a tendency we humans have to want something exterior in our lives to change in order for us to be happier, healthier, more content, gain more freedom, be more complete and generally feel better about our lives. We go around with constant mind chatter, judging, criticising, comparing, complaining – and that’s on a good day. If only he/she would change. If only I could get a pay rise. If only the kids would grow up and leave home. If only there was a better/different/more caring government in power. If only I could update my car/house/dog/partner/clothes…the list is quite endless and it will stay that way when the ego mind is in control.
One of the biggest conflicts that arise in relationships is the need to change our partners because they are seen as the source of our constant unhappiness. We can come up with an endless list of faults that she/he must change and then life would be oh so much better. We wouldn’t have the constant worry of being on their case, chasing them up over undone tasks, pulling them up for their uncouth behaviour, trying to get our needs met, nagging them to be more romantic, doing more around the house, helping more with the kids. There are those of us who would like our partners to, quite literally, have a personality change. Then our lives would be just peachy.
What if there was a different way to be in relationship? What if we were to feel so complete inside, so loved that we would be able to leave our partners to decide on what they wanted to change for themselves? That we were just so happy that it didn’t matter any more if they did or didn’t change? What if we did the changing instead, and that our partners would notice such a startling turn around in us that it would cause them to wonder what we had and how they could get it too?
We have the ability to change a destructive relationship into a loving one. If you want to start with a good book to help make changes in your relationship, I highly recommend Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. In it Gary outlines the number of ways we feel loved and how they are most likely to be different from our partners. He gives insight and strategies on how to make these differences work.
There are many other avenues for self-growth and change available. When we decide that we are no longer victims to our circumstances and those around us and we have the power to move into a stronger place, then the things we need to effect change are at our fingertips. If abuse is an issue, then becoming stronger inside may be the thing that takes us out of the relationship to a safer place.
When we realise that WE are the change we are looking for in our lives then the potential for a liberated life is limitless. When we stop blaming the outer world, other people and realising change doesn’t come from an external place then we can move into a space of strength, contentment and love that will affect everyone we come in contact with and transform our relationships.
I have a female friend who has been in an on-again, off-again relationship for nearly 18 months. Her partner has wooed her with words, looks and actions that attest to her beauty, both inner and outer. He has managed to find out what makes her swoon and he has played it for all he can get. He doesn’t beat her, he doesn’t turn up at her door drunk, he doesn’t sleep around and he’s not a drug addict. But he has managed to tap into her main area of personal lack in order to keep bouncing back into her life – her lack of self-love. The really bizarre thing is that she knows it’s happening and allows it to continue. One of the many unloving things he does has been to not turn up at a pre-arranged time again and again. He always asks for forgiveness and because she is a genuinely good person conditioned to respond to forgiveness in a way that helps the other person and not herself, she lets the relationship continue as it is. Nothing changes because she has no personal boundaries and her self love is based on this man being in her life because he says the things that make her feel good about herself.
There is a saying, “If anyone can rob you of your peace of mind, you depend on that person too much for your happiness”. How many of us has that happened to? It’s hardly any wonder that we fall into that trap when all around us society conditions us to think in terms of having a ‘significant other’ as the ultimate in life. Songs, movies, books and magazines all proclaim that to be part of a couple is the height of acceptance both by our peers and society in general. How many words are dedicated to this subject? How many people are trained and make careers out of getting people into relationships, maintaining those relationships and fixing them when they go wrong? How many of us have felt bereft when we are on our own, longing for someone to “make us feel special” and make life so much happier?
Now I don’t deny that being with someone we love, have compatibility and harmony with isn’t an undeniably wonderful thing, but when it is the only foundation for who we are and we would be nothing without it, then we are in trouble. We are definitely affected by the hurtful actions/words of our loved ones, but to what degree is our peace diminished? It is quite a challenge to retain our own sense of self-love and self worth being in an intimate relationship but it is not impossible. Indeed, if our self-love is strong and healthy the relationship will run smoother as we are not relying on the other to continually prop us up. Too many of us define who we are on the ‘nice’ feelings we get from pleasing the significant others in our lives.
Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” What he was saying is that we need to consciously look at how we live our lives and make intelligent and loving decisions about how we want to be treated. We need to think about what our boundaries are and make a loving commitment to ourselves to enforce those boundaries.
How many of us feel that life is controlling us, that we are flotsam on the river of life being thrown around at the mere whim of other people and situations? Developing our own self love and being completely at home with ourselves and who we are will ensure that healthy relationships with others will develop. Healthy self-love will give us a greater sense of control in our own lives.
The only place we find and develop lasting and unshakable self-love is in our relationship within ourselves. There is no person, place or thing that in this world of transience that can give us the inner peace and certainty that we so crave.
As for my friend mentioned in the first paragraph, she has now come to the point where the love she felt for this man has become anger, loathing and even hate at times. Those emotions are also directed at herself as she realises how much she has compromised her life to keep him in it. She says she won’t be seeing him again, but has she learnt the lesson? Time will tell…
Hi I'm Anna, I'm an experienced Life Coach and member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation). I love helping people realise their goals and dreams. With your hard work and focus, my guidance, and proven Life Coaching techniques, you can achieve all you desire.