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How Releasing Expectations Takes the Pressure Off Relationships

“When you learn to accept instead of expect, you’ll have fewer disappointments.” ~Unknown A few months back, I was having drinks with a friend from university for the first time in a while. I sat across from her, smiling and laughing, almost in awe that we were here—here, not as in at this particular restaurant patio, but here, as in, in this moment that felt so free and so light, unbound by who we used to be. During our first couple years of university, we were best friends, always hanging out, living together, supporting each other, swapping secrets, and creating unforgettable memories. And then over time, things changed. Throughout university, we had found our own niches, our own interests, our own passions, and as we explored who we were and who we wanted to be, our friendship fell by the wayside. In our last months of living together, our friendship created a lot of suffering for me. I constantly felt this weight between us, this heaviness that came from pretending that we were still the same as we were in the beginning, this heaviness of a friendship that wasn’t what it used to be. Through my yoga practice, I found the tools I needed to free our relationship from this suffering, by shining a light on the truth and choosing something different. So how do we find this freedom in our relationships? 1. Accept the relationship as it is. The first step to changing anything is always to see it as it really is. We often create suffering in our relationships when reality doesn’t match the ideal in our head. We end up trying to force our relationships to be what we think they should be, based on the past or a fantasy, rather than accepting how they actually are in the present. For me, this meant facing the truth that our friendship wasn’t as close as it once was and we were no longer the people we used to be. Until I accepted this truth, I suffered. When we have the courage to face the truth—when we accept and interact with reality instead of clinging to how we want it to be—the pressure on the relationship automatically starts to lift. And sometimes when the pressure lifts, relationships naturally get closer and stronger. 2. Challenge your faulty beliefs. Throughout my confrontation with truth, I unearthed different thoughts that I’d had about our relationship. In particular, I became aware of this mantra that I had been repeating in my head: “I don’t belong.” This belief was like an infection, poisoning my mind and tainting how I saw our friendship, before any interaction even took place. That story created and contributed to the heaviness that lay between us. When relationships change, we often think it’s something we did. We blame ourselves, we think we did something wrong, or that we just are wrong. We might start telling ourselves things like, “I’m not good enough,” “There’s something wrong [...]

2018-04-17T04:01:12+00:00 By |

What It Means to Love: 9 Steps to a Strong Relationship

“Be there. Be open. Be honest. Be kind. Be willing to listen, understand, accept, support, and forgive. This is what it means to love.” ~Lori Deschene They say your heart pounds when you’re in love. But the very idea of opening up and letting love in can bring on the wrong kind of palpitations. Saying yes to love… that’s like standing naked, bare naked, every inch of you on show. Completely vulnerable. Or so I thought. My Impregnable Force Field  “Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.” ~Bertrand Russell You see, I was called a few different things growing up. People said I was reserved, quiet, or shy. But in truth I was just scared to let anyone in. I felt I needed an impregnable forcefield. To stay safe. To be in control. And I needed space. Lots of it. Getting close to people, close enough to fall in love, well, that felt way too intense and personal for me back then. We didn’t do love in my family growing up. It was busy, busy, busy in our house. Everything was about practicality, working super hard, and getting things done. And done well. Adults rarely showed affection with each other—something about it being inappropriate in public, my brain remembers. We were taught not to talk about personal things. Life felt secretive and awkward. As an adult, I ached to be loved. It hurt to be so alone. It took me a long time to realize that I didn’t really know how to love. And yet, it’s supposed to be an innate trait. Even newborn babies demonstrate the instinct to love, and the need to receive love back. But in all my years growing up, love and affection felt awkward, foreign. Love seemed equally dangerous and mysterious at the same time. I learned to keep everything inside, and everyone outside. In truth, life went wrong precisely because I acted that way. I ended up alone—no lifelong friends, no love in my life. I was lost. Every day felt like an uphill struggle. And around me love bloomed, but for others, not for me. Eventually I understood that unless I made some changes, I would never know the absolute security of another’s love. I would never hear someone telling me everything would be okay. That they’d be there for me, whatever life threw my way. And I’d never be able to be there for someone else. I realized that I needed to start doing these nine things or I would never know what love is. 1. Be there. Love doesn’t grow and flourish because you dress up or make yourself up. All it needs is for you to show up, to be fully present. I used to believe soul mates were mythical creatures, as rare as unicorns, and that finding your soul mate was an honest to goodness miracle—one that happened to other people. Not true. Someone is [...]

2018-04-17T03:40:02+00:00 By |

Navigating Differences Between Men and Women in Communication

When it comes to communication, men and women are different. Not understanding those differences can lead to confusion, hurt feelings, and a great deal of frustration. I handle sessions with men and women in a different way, taking into account how they process information. That said, as I talk about these differences, I am speaking in general terms and realize that not everyone fits these criteria exactly. My goal here is to give you some information that will help you understand communication styles that affect most men and women. Women tend to use verbal communication more and incorporate a number of topics in a conversation. We do not separate emotions and facts as much as men. Everything is connected, including thoughts and emotions. Men compartmentalize more and usually focus on one thought at a time, so they find our style of communication frustrating. I have noticed that in my conversations with men, when I change topics quickly, incorporate too many topics in one conversation, or ramble on with lots of ideas, they get this far-away look in their eye or give me some kind of clue that I have lost their interest. They are not doing this to be rude, they just are struggling to follow my spaghetti brain. Women for the most part will seek out others to talk to when they have a problem or are feeling stressed about a situation. This is one way they can release the stress and feel better. Women talk things through in order to solve problems. Frequently, they need to release emotions first and then talk about all the possible ideas and solutions to move forward. Sometimes when women are talking, all they really need is to be heard and to feel supported. They may not be looking for a solution at all. This is hard for men to understand since they are solution oriented. This causes discord in relationships when a woman only wants to vent and feel heard, but her partner tries to solve a problem. He may feel disrespected because she does not seem interested in his solutions. I tell couples that if she is discussing a problem that involves emotions, just let her vent and support her. If something is broken, then offer to fix it. For men who are unsure of how to proceed, just ask her. Men generally communicate in a different way. They prefer to get to the bottom line as quickly as possible. When you are asking your partner for a good time to discuss a problem, it is helpful if you can let him know that you are not upset and reassure him that there will not be drama in the conversation. It is very important not to criticize, judge, offer advice, warn, coax, or try to change him during these conversations. It will not move the conversation forward in a positive direction. Conversations with men need to be shorter and more to the point. If you can [...]

2018-05-17T18:56:19+00:00 By |

Finding Love: How to Know When You Have It and How To Keep It

As relationship professionals, clients regularly ask us how they can tell if they are in love. If you were to ask 100 people, you would likely get 100 different answers. Attempting to define the emotion of love with words is like trying to catch water with your hands—just when you think you have articulated all there is to it, it slips through your fingers. Let’s give it a try though. Here are some of the ways love is commonly defined: infatuation, a great sexual connection, feelings of exhilaration, passion and elation, an inability to eat and sleep and concentrate, butterflies and stomach swirls. Dictionary.com defines love as a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. One of the more memorable definitions we’ve seen is “a little itch on the heart that you can’t scratch!” However you define love, most agree that it’s a wonderful feeling, and once they experience it, they want to keep it. So, here is our best advice on how to attract love with the right person and when you do, how to increase your chances of maintaining a loving relationship. 1) Know who you are, what’s important to you, what you must have in a relationship for it to work for you, and where you are willing to negotiate. 2) Look for people who connect with you regarding values, lifestyle, family, interests, etc. Your differences should create balance, not dissension. Keep in mind that sometimes, the very differences that initially draw you together can be the same ones that ultimately tear you apart. 3) Try not to get intimate too early in the relationship. Often a sexual relationship and strong chemistry can cloud judgment and compromise objectivity. 4) Don’t get into an exclusive relationship too quickly. There should be a period of time—a “cooling off” period—where your head has a chance to catch up with your heart. We recommend 60-90 days. 5) Slow down. If you have an overwhelming sense of urgency, you might give off an unpleasant odor of desperation. 6) Look honestly for red flags. When you find one, dig for more. Don’t close your eyes to bothersome traits and troubling issues that arise just to keep the relationship going. They will likely rear their heads again, and you will have to contend with them anyway. 7) Be authentically who you are, right from the beginning. If you try to change yourself to suit whomever you are dating, then be prepared for the consequences of that deception when the “real you” shows up, usually under stress or after the early infatuation phase quiets down a bit. If who you really are doesn’t appeal to your date, wouldn’t you rather know that right away? If you have to suppress or exaggerate personality traits, behavior, opinion or even style of dress in order to keep a person in your life, odds are great that relationship won’t last. 8) Love should be easy. If it’s too much like work, it’s not working. [...]

2018-05-15T17:24:41+00:00 By |

10 Tips to Online Dating Success

During dating strategy sessions, when I ask my clients if they have ever tried online dating, I generally first hear a groan and then something like, “that doesn’t work” or “I don’t want to put my information out there.” I smile as I listen to their experiences and tell them there is a method to the online dating madness. With the help of a dating coach, you can learn how to navigate online dating and enjoy the process. Online dating should be part of every single’s dating strategy since online dating sites and apps are what I call “target rich environments.” According to the latest statistics, approximately 20% of committed relationships and 17% of marriages began online. Here are my 10 tips to online dating success: 1) Write a short, upbeat profile describing who you are and who you’re looking for. The key words here are “upbeat and short.” No one wants to read a long profile so write just enough to attract interest and make the reader want to know more. To get you started, think of 5-7 words that describe you and work those into the headline and profile narrative. Your dating profile can evolve over time. The dating process helps you get more clarity about your needs, desires, and priorities. It’s okay to update your profile once you define a new desire or dealbreaker. 2) Post 4-6 recent (within a year) flattering photos. If you don’t have any recent photos, consider having some professional lifestyle photos taken. Think of your dating photos as a collection of images that tells the story of you. In general, people are attracted to others who exude well-being. Your photos can communicate your vitality. Pick a “happy spot” under a tree, by the water or walking a path. A professional photographer can help put you in the best light and capture your “spark” in a creative way. The overall look and feel you are shooting for is warm and approachable. It’s great to include shots of you engaged in an activity: hiking, biking, golfing, tennis, sightseeing. Include at least one full body shot, something polished, as in a nice evening out, and something fun and candid. Be sure to caption the photos with date and location if applicable. 3) Define and set up search criteria and run search. Be as open as you can so that your search returns enough results. 200-300 prospects is a good number to aim for. You want enough prospects so that after sorting, you can find 3-5 a day to write. Be curious and enjoy getting to know people. In other words, embrace the adventure that is online dating. Expand your physical preferences to see what is possible. 4) Persistent, consistent activity is a must if you want to be successful online. Try to spend 30 minutes a day online. Set aside a regular period of time to check your email, run your search and read and respond to profiles that you [...]

2018-05-15T17:53:59+00:00 By |

The Importance of Self-Love

As I have been working with people over the years I have found a common thread.  That thread is self-love. Many times I find that people never really developed liking themselves let alone loving themselves.  So, finally a person finds someone great and they begin dating. Then it becomes about that person filling in the love they so desperately need to feel whole.  Perhaps this love isn’t the appropriate love to be seeking. I find one or both of the people in the relationship needing certain things that a partner cannot give.  It looks reasonable and rational on the outside, but it is really a deep seated need for the love they are missing within themselves. These are adult people now, many of which had much more attention as children, and with one parent at home in some cases.  Now, with both parents having to work (in some cases 2 or 3 jobs) this is the missing link to creating and having the love you need. As I have begun to undertake this opportunity, I have found some things that can begin to help fill this gap.  The first one is simply finding your passion and having it integrated into the fabric of your life whether it is music, art, a spiritual practice or a great outdoor activity.  In some cases it’s changing or shifting your career all together.  When you are happy and filled up in your life and are having a life you are proud of, it promotes self-love. I have seen people literally go from being completely uninterested in creating a relationship to gung ho after this step. Secondly, doing things to pamper and care for yourself.  Maybe for men it is a man night a couple times a month or a cigar at the end of the week. For a woman, a spa day or a bath with her favorite book.  If you are empty, it becomes challenging to be available to give to another. A third area I have found is mourning and grieving.  So many times we don’t allow ourselves to mourn a loss.  Losses come in every form: A failure big or small is a loss, loss of a relationship, and in some cases, a change in a relationship, and moving from one place to another. In our society there isn’t, in my experience, a lot of support for really grieving when we are sad and having a loss.  I believe it is a big component that is swept under the carpet. Another area is the dialogue we have with ourselves.  We often say some very cruel things to ourselves. We beat ourselves up.  I find learning to create some affirmations that help to counter balance our negative self-talk can be useful.  Some examples might be, “ I am beautiful in every way,” “I love who I am and I am proud of what I do,” and “I am a great and powerful person in every way.”  At [...]

2018-05-15T15:39:50+00:00 By |

The Magic of The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction simply means “like attracts like.” Another way to look at it is “be who you want to attract”. It is a straightforward concept to grasp, but it requires practice to consistently attract what you want in any area of your life. You can accelerate the process of attracting your love match by applying the Law of Attraction to your search. Once you are aware of this universal law and how it works, you can start to use it deliberately to attract what you want into your life, including the relationship of your dreams. The Law of Attraction is working in your life right now, whether you are aware of it or not. You are attracting the very people, situations, jobs, and much more that are presently in your life. And, your current thoughts are attracting what and who will be in your life in the future. Thoughts can be traced back to beliefs. Your beliefs create your thoughts, which lead to your words and actions. If you don’t like your results, look at your actions and track back. Chances are you will find that you hold a belief that is not serving you. Here’s an example. A female single has a belief that online dating doesn’t work. However, friends persuade her to try it. She really doesn’t want to, but eventually agrees. Because she doesn’t believe it will work, she doesn’t spend much time or effort on her profile or select recent flattering pictures. She writes a few people without response and notes that the only men writing her are “losers” or “scammers.” After a short time, she stops and tells her friends, “See, I told you it wouldn’t work!” She got exactly the results she believed she would. The good news is we can change our thoughts any time we want. Another female single has friends who have met great guys online. She even knew a couple who met online and got married. When she heard their stories, she couldn’t wait to try online dating. She worked hard on her profile making it fun and positive, selected some recent great pictures, and began the process. Soon, her in box was filling up with messages and she received responses to some messages that she sent. Soon she was dating, meeting great guys, and enjoying the process. To develop a positive attitude that will help you to change your negative thoughts, try spending some time writing out a list of negative or limiting beliefs you have about dating and relationships. For each limiting belief, write down a corresponding positive belief statement or affirmation, and focus on that affirmation. An affirmation is a simple statement that reshapes your beliefs and helps you move towards your life goals. For example, “Relationships are always painful in the end” becomes “When I meet the right person, my relationship will be satisfying and joyful.” To create a new belief, you must believe it to be true. If [...]

2018-05-15T16:34:25+00:00 By |
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