5 Dating Tips for the Ladies But Applicable for All

Online DatingDating is exciting!  Dating is frustrating!  Dating gets us out of our comfort zone.  It is thrilling to meet new people and experience novel restaurants, sights, and ideas.  It is discouraging at times because there are more duds then studs.  With practice and these tips in mind, your dating life may be short-lived.  Commitment can be right around the corner.

Dating Tip 1: Ladies, don’t look for guys to ask what you want?  Men just don’t do that.  Women need to speak up. Learn to be assertive, say want you want and mean what you say.  Don’t wait until your patience runs thin and then you explode.  Make a stance and say, “Hey, I’m feeling cooped-up and need some fresh air; let’s go for a hike, couples massage, or walk on some hip street.”  Whatever you want, say it loud and clear. It ain’t gonna happen unless you speak up!

Dating Tip 2: Does he continually talk without even taking a breath for air?  Do you feel like you are in a monologue?  You are right.  He is in it for himself.  You don’t matter.  You probably feel invisible, and rightly so.  There is no room for connection with someone who is talking on and on about themselves, their friends or whatever else you are NOT involved in.  He is not emotionally available.  GET OUT.  You will lose all your esteem and trust.  There is no room for you when you are dealing with someone so consumed with themselves.

Dating Tip 3: Test.  Test your assertive skills.  If he is talking in a monologue; say something.  Try, “I think it’s great you are so excited about the opportunities you’ve had to see so many things, but I’m feeling a little neglected here.  It makes it hard to connect when you are talking so fast.  There’s no room for me to interject.  Do you think you could slow down and involve me in the conversation?”  Test to see how he responds.  Does he listen and acknowledge he went off on a tangent?  If NOT, time to go!

Dating Tip 4: Does he continually talk about ex-girlfriends and what they did wrong?  That’s a sign he is not one to take responsibility for his actions.  A relationship involves two people and each person always plays a role.  There is never just one person to blame.  If you are being blamed or doing the blaming something is wrong here.  Stop the blaming and take personal responsibility.  If you are taking the time to reflect, acknowledge your faults – even apologize and he’s not, get out—FAST!

Dating Tip 5: Does he listen and really hear you? How do you know?  Action is taken.  If you reveal something about yourself and the subject is quickly reverting back to him; HE’S NOT LISTENING!  If you express your thoughts, and he bashed them, discourages you then HE IS ABUSIVE.  If you say something about yourself and it is used against you later; HE IS EMOTIONALLY INSULTING.

Dating is the perfect opportunity to learn about yourself, your triggers, and how you handle them.  There is plenty of times to practice and improve skills that are challenging.  Get out there and keep trying.  The more you date, the greater the chance you will find the love of your life.

6 Tips to Improve Communication With Difficult People

Dialog between man and woman

Image source: (Fotolia)

Some people are just downright difficult. No matter what you say or do, it feels like there is no way out. Emotions overrun rational thoughts. Conversations turn into heated arguments and nothing is resolved. It’s times like these that old patterns of communication need a make-over.

We learn our communication style by our environment. If we come from households where our thoughts were not valued, heard, or supported; we learned not to talk. If we were dismissed, ignored, or criticized by cultural gender norms, we learned to remain silent. We adapted to suppress our thoughts and feelings to survive. As adults we are now confronted with shame, anger, and denial.

When we retreat from communicating directly due to cultural norms, gender norms, or social norms we deny ourselves. We disallow access to our authentic self and to deeply connected relationships. Our fear of not being liked, avoidance of conflict, or perfectionism keeps us isolated. We don’t give our relationships a chance. We hide from who we are, what we think, and what we feel. In turn, we treat ourselves with the same criticism and suppression as our childhood environment.
There is another way. We don’t have to run and hide. We can speak openly, honestly, and directly. It is not difficult. With practice communicating our needs and wants becomes second nature.

Learning skills to be assertive opens up courageous possibilities to be vulnerable. Exposing your true self involves taking risks. The benefits outweigh any discomfort. A richness of important experiences such as love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity evolve naturally.

With assertiveness we learn to stand-up for ourselves and not violate the rights of another person. It is a direct and honest expression of our feelings and opinions. We act, think and feel supporting our rights and the rights of others as equally valued, expressed, and respected.

Test Your Assertiveness

1. Do you find yourself saying “yes” to requests when you really want to say “no?”
    Yes                         No
2. Is it hard for you to make a decision?
    Yes                         No
3. Are you unable to express your discontent with a friend or partner, even if you think it’s justified?
    Yes                         No
4. Is it difficult for you to ask for help or assistance?
    Yes                         No
5. Is it hard for you to express an opinion that is different from other people’s opinions?
    Yes                         No
6. Is it hard for you to share something positive about yourself?
    Yes                         No
7. Do you not speak up at work, a class, or meeting, even when you know the answer to a question or have a solution?
    Yes                         No
8. Do you find it difficult to accept a compliment?
    Yes                         No

If you answered “Yes” to one or more of the questions, you may have difficulty using assertive communication.

6 Tips to Communicate Assertively Using the Acronym, P A S A R R

1. Pause. Quiet the mind for a moment to check in and listen internally. Noticing our thoughts gives us the opportunity to assess what we desire. Paying attention to our first intentions positions us to a place prior to defeating self-talk. Being aware of how we feel and what we really want to say enables us to stay true to our self. With consistent practice, reflection and self-validation will take less time.

2. Acknowledge the Truth. Mirroring body language and giving credit where credit is deserved helps to deflate a heated moment. Agreeing with a kernel of truth in the complaint also gives time for internal reflection. For example, your boss says, “Your work is always screwed-up.” Ask, “In what way did I screw up?” If she says, “You just are a screw up,” agree with one discreet example (if it is accurate), but correct her overgeneralization.

3. Stay True to Self. Using clear and specific “I statements” validating our thoughts and feelings keeps the conversation focused on the behavior not the person. While beginning a sentence with “I think” or “I feel” briefly describe the other person’s behavior.

4. Ask for a Request. Following what we noticed in the other’s person behavior with how their actions affected us keeps the focus on cause and effect of behavior not the person. Then make a request. For example, “When you are late and do not call, I feel afraid that something happened to you. I feel angry that I am waiting. I feel irritated that you don’t value my time. I would prefer it if you call to let me know if you are going to be more than 10 minutes late. Can you do that for me?”

5. Repeat. Encouraging others reflection ensures mutual understanding. We are practicing self-validation and asking for what we want.

6. Repair. If the steps above have not helped, continue to ask questions. Inquiring about their thoughts and feelings shows curiosity, their thoughts and feelings matter equally, and a mutual solution is desired. During this phase paying attention to our non-verbal cues such as tone and volume of voice, eye-contact, and body position enables us to be in control of our self. It is also important to ensure we stay true to our self, saying “No” when needed to ensure healthy boundaries, and validating our thoughts and feelings.

Using assertive techniques is a skill. It improves with practice. With time communicating our desires becomes easy. Following these steps as a guideline to stop before a heated argument, reflecting and staying honest to our self and to others, and maintaining healthy boundaries allocates opportunity for common resolution, self-value, and increased confidence. Knowing that we took a risk to stand-up for our self shows that we matter, that our thoughts and feelings are valuable, and we are worth defending.

In love and dignity, speak the truth – as we think, feel, and know it – and it shall set us free.
~ Melody Beattie

Another Death in the Family

candleNovember 4, 2013

“Death ends a life…but it does not end a relationship, which struggles on in the survivors mind…toward some final resolution, which it never finds.” — Robert Anderson

My aunt passed away today.  The event hit my body once again like a freight train.  My body feels beaten, bruised, and wounded with pain from the loss.

I am sad for her departure but believe she is in peace.  When we last spoke, she had such a positive attitude, spirit, and serenity in believing that she would be met with her relatives, friends, and loved ones in the next place.  It brought her comfort in the transition.  Knowing this helps ease my grief as well.  I am able to rest assure she is okay wherever she may be.  I believe this with my heart even though my head has no idea.  Thus I rather believe and stay true to my heart.

My aunt’s death rekindled old memories.  We shared many ups and downs through the ages.  I disagreed with a lot of her behavior and stayed my distance for long bouts of time.  With her passing, I immediately accepted all of who she is and was.   It was hard while she was living but somehow after she is gone, it doesn’t matter so much.  I love her for her.  Why does it take death to finally have peace and acceptance?  Does it really have too?

She did the best she could.  She lived a fruitful life especially the last six years.  She moved to Missouri to be closer to family.  She found support, love, and a sense of belonging in a small community.  She made friends and was loved by many.  She helped me realize that is the meaning of life.  It’s our relationships that matter the most.  Cherish each and every one, treat others with love and kindness, and don’t give up even when times are tough.

Of course, there are relationships where there are struggles, disagreements, and challenges.  It’s finding a safe balance to still connect in whatever capacity possible.  Life is too short for emotional cut-off, not to talk to family or friends due to disagreements.  No one is perfect.  Everyone is trying the best they can in whatever ability they have.  Just some of us have more skill than others.  At the end of the day, is the heartache and distance worth going through.  Is it necessary to hold onto old grudges?  The longer we hold tight to negativity, the longer the pain and misery continues.

The passing of my aunt also renewed broken relationships.  The event presented the opportunity for my mom and me to talk again.  We were able to acknowledge our past wrong doings and not take time for granted.  My aunt’s departure helped us understand that time is precious.  Each day counts.  Time matters.  Our relationships count the most.

Death is such a funny phenomenon.  Regardless of when it happens, it’s always a shock.  It seems to stir up so many emotions, reflections, and assessments.  It can resurface the loss of past loved ones, rekindle old relationships, and remind us once again of our mortality.  It’s a memento to be grateful for the gifts of life and to appreciate those close to us.

 

Forgiveness – A Crucial Component of Step 9 in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.Forgiveness is a process and a choice.  It is the opportunity to untie the bindings of your pain from the past.   As part of the course of action, forgiveness involves confronting your fears and compassion to allow yourself time to physically and emotionally heal.  Exposing yourself to persons, surroundings, or objects that you fear offers the opening to have a corrective experience.  You are able to reorganize your memories and repair those recollections.

For example, as a child you may have experienced being attacked by a Rottweiler.  You were not physically hurt but the immediate threat startled you.  As a result you froze.  This is a natural fear response.   The terror was never discussed by your family or friends.  Thus the thoughts and emotions were not processed and disorganized memories formed.  Avoiding the discussion of the incident caused your fears to worsen.  Unprocessed feelings transform to generalized fears and all or nothing thinking.  Consequently you became fearful of all dogs and avoidant of the neighborhood where the attack occurred.

By exposing yourself to another Rottweiler that doesn’t attack gives the opportunity for a remedial and healing experience.  Difficult memories are allowed to surface.  The thoughts and emotions that were once suppressed can now be processed.   Processing gives way to reorganizing your memories.  You learn that not all Rottweilers show aggression.  You broaden your capacity for more knowledge and understanding.  All Rottweilers don’t attack.  There are some aggressive dogs and others that are very loving.  Black and white thinking transforms to accepting that Rottweillers and all animals have trustworthy and safe parts and some that are not.  For example, a cat that was once abused as a kitten associates touch as a threat.  Thus when you pet him, he bites.  As long as you don’t pet the cat, he is kind and playful.  Animals and experiences are complex and make up many parts not just good or bad.

The same is true for people.  Most parents, loved ones, and friends do not intentionally try to hurt you.  The hurtful behavior that was endeared was taught and passed down from their parents.  As a child, you have no choice but to tolerate the emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.  You are completely dependent upon your caretakers for safety and protection in whatever capacity they can.  Thus you learn to protect yourself, suppress your emotions, and tolerate abuse.  The abuse continues until you learn that as an adult you have a choice on what to tolerate.  You can now tune into your emotions and express them in a healthy manner.  As an adult you can courageously choose and confront those in your cycle of abuse.  You can choose to forgive.

The persons on your list from Step four are participants of the cycle of abuse.   By respectfully approaching those on your list, you may be able to have an open discussion, grasp a better understanding from their perspective, explain yours, and possibly heal old wounds.  All participants must be willing to have an open mind and to listen and speak compassionately from the heart.  It is possible to heal hurt with positive, respectful dialogue.  As you both come to a new understanding, unresolved emotions are replaced with restored, transformative memories to a place of forgiveness and healing.

The Secret of Love (Spoiler Alert)

journey by Deepak Chopra, MD

The Internet has taken up the slack from print media by offering tips on love and relationships, which pop up on home pages, in tweets and in news teasers many times a day. If the secret to lasting romance could be shared like a recipe for cinnamon buns, our problems would be over. But love isn’t a fact, formula, or definable in words.

Love is a process, perhaps the most mysterious one in human psychology. No one knows what creates love as a powerful bond that is so full of meaning. If romance was only a heady brew of hormones, genetic inheritance and sex drive, all we’d need is better data to explain it. But love is transporting. It carries us beyond our everyday selves and makes reality shine with an inner light. The reverse can also happen. We crash to earth when the wear and tear of relationships makes love fade.

The process of love is kept alive by evolving and not getting stuck. Infatuation is an early stage of the process. You bond with another person as if by alchemy, but in time the ego returns with the claims of “I, me, and mine.” At that point love must change. Two people must negotiate how much to share, how much to surrender and how much to stand their ground. It would be tragic if romance faded into everyday familiarity, but it doesn’t have to.

Beyond the stage of two egos negotiating for their own interests, there is deepening love. It doesn’t try to turn the present into the past. A married couple of twenty years isn’t still infatuated with one other. So what keeps the process alive? For me, the answer was revealed by reading a startling sentence from the Upanishads, which are like a textbook of spiritual understanding. The sentence says, “You do not love a spouse for the sake of the spouse but for the sake of the self.”

At first glance this seems like a horrible sentiment: We all love on a personal basis and we expect to be loved the same way, for ourselves. But if “self” means your everyday personality, there is much that isn’t very lovable about each of us and as a marriage or relationship unfolds, there’s a guarantee that our partners will see those unlovable things more clearly. Even a knight in shining armor might want to save more than one damsel, and even saint must use deodorant once in a while.

In the world’s wisdom tradition, “love” and “self” are both universal. They exist beyond the individual personality. The secret of love is to expand beyond the personal. When people say that they want unconditional love, they often imply that they want to be loved despite their shortcomings, issues and quirks. But that’s nearly impossible if love remains at the personal level. At a certain point, if you begin to see love itself as your goal, universal love is more powerful and secure than personal love.

The poet Rabindranath Tagore described the spiritual side of love in a single expression” “Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment. It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.” The gift of human awareness is that we can locate the source of creation in ourselves. By going deeper into the self, asking “Who am I?” without settling for a superficial answer, the ego-personality fades. A sense of the true self begins to dawn, and it is this self that exists in contact with love as the only reality.

The journey becomes more fascinating if someone else travels with you. Life isn’t about abstractions; it’s about experience. If you have a beloved who stands for the feeling of love, bonding, and affection, your journey has a focus that can’t be supplied merely by thinking. The experiences that love bring include surrender, devotion, selflessness, giving, gratitude, appreciation, kindness and bliss. So if the phrase “universal love” seems daunting or improbable to you, break it down into these smaller experiences. Pursue them, and you will be traveling in the direction of your source, where the true self and true love merge.

That’s where my spoiler alert comes in. Announcing the secret of love cuts short the actual experience. It doesn’t always help to know what’s coming, because you might fall into exaggerated expectations and fall short. It’s better and more realistic to become aware that love is now your personal project. Show kindness and gratitude. Speak about what your beloved means to you. Every step on this journey works on behalf of the two of you but also on behalf of the self that unites you at the deepest level.

Now is the Time to Do

By Richard Branson
When posting recently about the importance of making lists and resolutions, there was an overwhelming response from people keen to reach their goals in 2013. It’s great to see such enthusiasm – and practical planning – for making positive changes from people all over the world.

Planning is extremely important, for any adventure in or out of business. But even more crucial is the will to simply get out there and do something new. A couple of thoughts have caught my attention this week about creating original ideas.

Dr Muhammad Yunus, founder of the wonderful Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, said: “All human beings are born as entrepreneurs. But unfortunately, many of us never had the opportunity to unwrap that part of our life, so it remains hidden.”

He touches upon the potential within us all to bring new ideas to life. For those of us fortunate enough to have the chance to see their dreams come to life, it is foolish to waste our opportunities.

Another perceptive point comes from Seth Godin. On his blog, he wrote about the challenges of initiating any project. “Not enough people believe they are capable of productive initiative.

“I don’t think the shortage of artists has much to do with the innate ability to create or initiate. I think it has to do with believing that it’s possible and acceptable for you to do it.”

As Mr Godin suggests, it is absolutely possible for you to create, to take chances, to allow your ideas to flourish if you have enough self-confidence. While he is referring to artists, the same applies for the art of business.

Now is the time to do doesn’t just apply to starting businesses. it applies to relationships, to fitness, to all aspects of your life.

Nobody else is going to start your business for you. 2013 is the time to put your ideas into action. Now is the time to do.

Borderline Personality, Codependency, and Love Addiction

cycle of addictionBorderline Personality tendencies, codependency, and love addition are self-destructive behavioral patterns.  Each personality seeks approval from others through painful, compulsive, dependent patterns of behavior.  A sense of self is lost and idealization of others is manifested while they look for safety, self-worth, and identity.  This articles embraces the characteristics of all three and relates it to the cycle of addiction.

Everyone embraces some type of cycle of addition, whether it be the way you towel-off after a shower or grocery shop.  Regardless of the activity, the ritual involves a pattern of thoughts, habits, set of behaviors, use, and guilt and shame that repeats over time.

There are four parts to the cycle of addiction.  The first stage is preoccupation, the second is ritual, the third is acting out, and the fourth phase is guilt and shame.

For the purposes of relationships, codependency and love addiction will be discussed. During the first stage thoughts begin to preoccupy themselves with a lover.  Too much time, attention, and attraction is generated toward their imago.  The imago is the image we place on our partner who mirrors our original caretakers.  The psychological term for this is transference.  The image feels good because it is  familiar; like eating macaroni and cheese.  The person is like comfort food that warms your insides and makes you feel so good.

The intense attraction is due to an unconscious drive to heal and resolve childhood wounds.  This overwhelming state of infatuation is part of the first stage of addiction; preoccupation.  During this phase, the love addict feels high as parental fantasies are triggered and thoughts of loneliness, emptiness, and not mattering diminish.  Thoughts, time, and energy are preoccupied with their partner. The majority of the day is thinking of ways to hold onto them, bring them closer, and love them unconditionally.  Power and presence beyond oneself is given to their partner.   Any  sense of spiritually becomes impaired as a grandiose persona is transferred to their image.

One’s relation to family, friends, and personal care begin to change during the second phase of addiction.  This stage is called ritual.  Thoughts, feelings, and behavior around the partner become compulsive  as one loses all sense of self.   Control is given solely to the spouse.  The love addict is dependent on them for their self-worth.  Neediness and helplessness is enacted as trust and insight are placed within their partner and out-weighed by their own. The love addict is incapable of making decisions on their own due to their loss of their own identity.  Over time, career, other relationships, and personal livelihood are diminished.

The love addict is in denial and refuses to open their eyes to the reality of their false, fantasy love.  The codependent is unable to acknowledge their partner’s defensive wall, inability to deeply connect, and love their true being.   The codependent relationship creates cohesiveness and enmeshment as the love addict takes on their partner’s morals and values and blurs the lines of healthy boundaries.  The relationship is viewed through a filtered willfulness of fantasy.  It continues between tremendous cycles of intense passion and extreme anger.  The sense of excitement in the extremes of emotions deepens attachment to the point of obsessiveness.  This is mistaken for true love.

The third period is acting out physically and mentally.  Negative consequences of  lost identity, irresponsible behavior, and diminishing life conditions are overlooked.  Symptoms of loneliness, despair, and self-hatred continue in a downward spiral of intolerable circumstances.   All self-worth is lost and major depression sets-in.

This fourth stage is guilt and shame.  Feelings of being stuck as if the love addict cannot cope on their own.  They feel as if they must rely on their partner to move forward.  The guilt, shame, internalized anger and resentment builds until the pain is so great that a small glimpse of awareness begins to develop.  Denial is slowly lifted as light is shed upon their  partner’s defenses, emotional unavailability, controlling, and manipulating behavior.  Further consciousness is observed in their struggle at work, isolation from family and friends, and diminishing life.

In this stage, the love addict feels like a failure, is hopeless, and cannot bare the reality of their new found consciousness.  Consequently they fall deeper into depression.  Denial sets in again to lighten the load of pain.  Denial of their own feelings, thoughts, and of their partner’s emotional unavailability, distance, and prevailing defenses.

The pain is too great to bare so the cycle begins again.  The borderline obsesses again about their partner as if they will save them from their misery.  The codependent is even more dependent as they stay in the relationship, prolonging the cycle of addiction.

Usually the borderline personality, codependent, love addict develops from an alcoholic family who are narcissistic, self-centered, and emotionally distant.  They yearn to have connections and intimate relationships yet continue to replay the cat and mouse chase.

Childhood longings and rage at abandonment, neglect, and emotional abuse from  parents lead to internalizing thoughts of being bad.  The child splits the image of his desire internalizing it as bad and places a good internal object-image onto their caretakers.

If a child’s needs aren’t met they continually split parts of themselves onto their parents.  As adults, they have an internalized image they are bad, worthless, and inadequate.  They gravitate toward partner’s who replicate their parents and place the externalized fantasy image of good parts onto their partner; ultimately giving them too much power and control.

The more we become aware of our internal drives, the more power and control we have of our thoughts, feelings, actions, and choices.  Understanding how one’s personal cycle of addiction originated can then begin to find ways of healing.  The goal is to feel whole while having the capacity to give and take, be alone, and individualized.