Archive | June 2012

Make Room for Play Time

I am always amazed how easy it is to get so busy with work that we forget to play. Doing activities that are just for the sheer fun of it can be liberating. Often joyful activities can be tainted with the intention of doing it in order to accomplish a future goal or improvement beyond just relaxing and letting loose.

For example, joining a friend for a game of tennis with the sole intention of trying to lose weight or toning up your muscles is very different than just going to play for the fun and companionship of it. There is nothing wrong with having goals or doing things to lose weight but sometimes it is good to release the goal chart of accomplishment and just enjoy.

Maybe the goal for today can just be to have some fun. Caring for ourselves could be more pleasurable and a joy, rather than a “job” or stressful itinerary to complete. A holistic view of our health and wellness, extends beyond just exercising, eating right, and getting a good night’s sleep.

The entirety of our personal well-being involves giving attention to our mental, emotional, spiritual, AND recreational needs as well. The level of care you extend in this area will have a huge effect on every aspect of your life, including your interpersonal connections and provide you with the best possible chance for personal happiness.

Some examples of activities you could start, or try again, are:

  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Painting or drawing
  • Taking up a sport
  • Doing crossword puzzles
  • Joining a dance class
  • Going hiking
  • Attending a sporting event or concert
  • Taking up a hobby
  • Listening to music

Maybe the only work for today is to figure out how to play.

ACTION STEP

Revisit or begin a hobby or activity for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Practice Visualizing

In the same way that positive thinking and affirmations lay the groundwork for creating a successful present and future, so does the practice of visualization. It is a way of adding mental pictures to the words you are saying and is therefore, another powerful tool for producing what you want. Visualization allows you to “see” what you want and believe it can be a reality by providing a mental “coming attraction” or rehearsal, for the new reality you’re creating.

For example, we did this when we were looking for a house several years ago. We pictured ourselves in our dream home and pasted the picture of a house we wanted onto a piece of paper for added emphasis. Then, we put the picture on the refrigerator with a positive statement underneath it that read, “We now live in a beautiful new home, in an environment we love, surrounded by terrific neighbors, with wonderful privacy all around, at a great price.”

However, it’s important to note that we didn’t get the exact house we had on the refrigerator but we received one that was so much better. So, it isn’t that our visualization combined with positive affirmations didn’t work, because it did ultimately bring us all the things we wanted and so much more.

The more important thing to take from this example is the power that visualizing can have in bringing our desires to us, however, they may not arrive in exactly the form we assign. So, in the case of our house, maybe the original one we put on the refrigerator wouldn’t have had the terrific neighbors or the wonderful privacy we thought it would. However, by being open, asking, picturing and trusting we were brought a different, better house that fit all the characteristics that we had desired.

So, you could begin by selecting something specific that you want or focusing on an area of your life where you are interested in making a shift. Then, start thinking about the kind of scenario you desire, and picture it clearly in your mind. From that mental image, you will want to accompany it with a matching physical picture representation as well (like we did with the picture of the house).

You could cut out a collage of pictures out of magazines that include pictures of places you want to travel to, an intimate relationship, or someone with vibrant health. Once you have all the pictures cut out, you can glue them to a piece of paper or poster board and then place it where you can look at it every day. The combination of mental and physical visualizations will work magic in your life.

However, you don’t have to postpone your happiness until the desired manifestation occurs because living joyfully in the present is part of the process as well. Visualization is simply another way to make you aware of how powerful your mind can be in drawing to you what you imagine.

ACTION STEP:

As you picture the area of your life where you are most interested in making a shift, try the visualization exercise below:

Close your eyes…. take some deep easy breaths… Allow your body to relax……. let your shoulders, neck, back, and stomach relax and let go…… Let the gentle rhythm of your breath take you into a more and more quiet place….. Now bring to mind what you want in a specific area of your life. It could be a wonderful relationship, improved health, greater prosperity, or a meaningful career….. Imagine what your life would be like if this were already a reality! Imagine ALL the details……. Really FEEL this new reality as strongly as you can….. Feel the joy and the excitement…….Now bring your awareness back to this time and place……Take a deep breath and open your eyes.

Pay Attention to the Details

When my current husband and I were just getting to know each other, we were at a mutual friend’s home for a Christmas party, and there were many guests in attendance. One of the female guests was flirting with several of the males at the party, and she was creating quite a scene, dancing around and so forth.

Many of these men were encouraging this behavior and disrespecting their wives by participating in some inappropriate responses to the woman. I noticed that my future husband was not encouraging her in any way, and actually walked away from her to stand by my side instead.

We spent the entire evening talking and laughing while the other men continued to flirt and carry on with this woman. His actions and character spoke volumes to me that night; and even to this day, he always treats me with the utmost respect.

When I started paying more attention to the details, nuances, and actions of my potential partners, instead of just listening to the words I was hearing, it led to making a great choice in a mate.

Similarly, when I started paying more attention to the details within myself and the ways in which I needed to modify my own behavior, it helped me grow into becoming a better choice in a partner for someone else, as well.

I don’t believe things would have worked out so well, without making the positive changes that prepared me to recognize a healthy partner.

One could say I was just lucky to have met my husband but I once heard that “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” and I believe this to be true.

When you’re doing the inner work necessary for your own self-growth, it prepares you for the right people and events, and gives you the courage to seize the opportunities that present themselves.

When we are paying attention to the details, then the circumstances that arise will no longer seem coincidental or merely a “lucky” circumstance but a result of our deliberate preparation.

ACTION STEP:

Start to notice the details within and around you. Be prepared for the opportunities that arise.

 

Action is the Key

Taking actions to enhance your life is a positive application of your time and energy. As you look within yourself, you will not only improve your own quality of life, but be an inspiration to others as well. Your confidence will grow as you make an effort to relate better with others, practice tolerance, compassion, and basically, treat others as you would have them treat you.

Self-exploration is not about fault finding, making anyone wrong, or blaming yourself for anything. It’s about discovering those areas that might need upgrading, so that you can create and experience the kind of future you desire. The personal changes you make go a long way toward shaping your decisions and problem solving abilities.

Many of the steps and pathways to emotional health and healing can be off-putting or intimidating at first. However, once you start to experience the empowering results that come from your actions, you’ll feel excited about this process and want to expand your world even more. Feeling stressed, upset, or discouraged goes against the intent of good self-care, so you’ll want to begin slowly.

You could start by answering the questions below which will encourage you to think about the areas in which you may need to grow more fully in your relationships. When we ask the right questions, we often get much more valuable and useful answers.

1. Why do I attract the kinds of friends or partners I have?

2. Why do I continue to stay with my mate when I feel so dissatisfied?

3. Am I able to look at the relationship from my partner’s perspective?

4. Do I communicate lovingly with my significant other?

5. Do I have the characteristics within myself that I desire in someone else?

6. What would make me feel great in a relationship?

7. Do I feel deserving of a wonderful partnership?

8. Do I treat my mate with the same respect that I desire?

As you review your answers, you will gather the insight needed to create better results. They will help guide you to be more disciplined as you move forward, and help avoid falling into negative patterns from the past.

Your journey in life may not be a one-way trip to bliss, as there will naturally be twists and turns along the road to self-discovery. It’s easy to get discouraged at those times and stop doing the things that could help you to feel good.

However, the action process is infinitely more gratifying than living out the consequences of an unexplored life. Actively making choices for your own well-being creates wonderful experiences that passivity can never provide.

Action Step:

Begin to experience a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with yourself by spending some time contemplating your answers to the questions above. This type of reflection is an experience not to be missed.

Affirm Your Intentions

Affirming your intentions is a way of stating your desires as if they reflect your current reality. This sets the stage for creating what you want to occur by clarifying what you wish to achieve. When you state affirmations such as: “I now have a beautiful relationship,” even if this is not yet the case, it is a declaration of your intent, which elevates your feelings to one of joyful anticipation. That’s why it’s always good to say positive affirmations in the present tense.

If you speak in the future tense—for example, saying “I will have a beautiful relationship,” it keeps your goal out there, where you can’t grasp it yet, rather than in the here-and-now. Also, the more you feel good in the present about the realization of your dreams, the more easily you attract them to you. This type of expectant thinking and feeling serves to magnetically pull the right people and situations toward you. In time, you will find that your entire emotional landscape transforms for the better.

For example, a friend of mine experienced a profound positive effect and life transformation, as a result of stating her intentions by saying positive affirmations prior to getting a liver transplant. During the year that she was waiting to be called from the list of those awaiting livers, she silently gave thanks ahead of time for her successful surgery before she ever had the operation by continually saying, “Thank you for my healing.”

She kept affirming on a daily basis that she would get a donor and that the procedure would turn out wonderfully. Engaging in this process not only gave her hope, but also sent good energy out into the universe, which helped create a successful outcome. This positive mind-set gave her the mental and emotional strength she needed to prepare for her life-saving surgery.

The result was that she recovered very quickly and was able to resume her normal life within weeks of getting the transplant. The hospital staff continually commented on how positive and upbeat she was, and simply assumed this was due to her rapid recovery. But she believes that it was the quality of her thoughts that contributed to the positive outcome and having a strong belief works miracles.

If saying positive affirmations can make this kind of difference for someone like my friend, imagine what it can do in your daily life and relationships.

So, if attracting and creating a wonderful relationship is one of your intentions, then you will want to say positive affirmations and focus on the positive traits in your friends, relatives, and even strangers. This makes you feel good about the world as a whole, and serves to draw more of the qualities you seek in a partner to you, by emitting good energy from your optimistic thoughts.

Also, this acknowledgement develops the habit of looking for the good in people instead of focusing on their faults. Those around you intuitively sense your positive demeanor and will be naturally attracted to you. This is the case with all types of relationships: friendship, business, and of course, romantic.

ACTION STEP: 

Make a commitment to saying positive affirmations and thinking well of others on a daily basis. This will become a welcome habit as you begin to experience all the positive effects from it. Just starting with the two listed below will go a long way toward developing this healthy daily practice.

“There is a gift in every experience and person I meet.”

“Everything I need comes to me with ease and love.”

Mindfully Communicate

It’s important to learn our communication style and turn any ineffective or destructive ways of speaking into a more loving form of communication.

We might start by asking ourselves the following questions in order to increase our awareness:

• Am I kind and considerate when I express myself?

• Do I dominate a conversation, or do I actually listen to others, too?

• Am I a know-it-all who steamrolls over other people?

• Am I open-minded enough to respect the viewpoints of others even if they differ from my own?

Too many times, insensitive communicators will point a finger at those they hurt and dismiss their feelings by labeling them as being “too sensitive.” Meanwhile, they ignore the fact that the way they communicate is hurtful and that they are being insensitive. For instance, I’ve heard people in a relationship say that they’re “not responsible” for their partner’s feelings, as if they’re washing their hands of any culpability for how they communicate.

We may not be responsible for others’ feelings, but we are responsible for what we say and the way in which we do so. When we’re compassionate with ourselves, we’re more likely to have compassion for others and communicate accordingly. We’re also more likely to allow others to express themselves and offer understanding rather than putting them down with sarcasm, superiority, or tactlessness.

Empathetic support creates a healing atmosphere for all concerned. However, it is important to be careful not to become too enmeshed in other people’s moods or emotions, and lose our own stability along the way. For example, it’s not uncommon to react to someone’s downcast mood by becoming depressed yourself.

We need to retain, as best we can, our own emotional equilibrium. By staying strong without being unkind, we’re better able to help others regain their balance. And, we will be more open to listening intently and giving advice when asked, which can serve to help others move through the nature of their upset.

In this way, the person who is having a challenge doesn’t end up feeling guilty about, or responsible for, our feelings and stifle their own as a result. This loving detachment is a wonderful way to keep us feeling good and helping those around us at the same time.

ACTION STEP:

Pay attention to the way you communicate: your tone, words, and delivery. If there’s even a question about how your words are received, simply clarify this confusion with the other person. Then, you can discern whether there are any misunderstandings and clear them up, rather than letting things fester.

Privacy Is a Virtue

It is very easy these days to give too much of ourselves away, due to the prevalence of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and even text messaging. So, try to avoid being too forthcoming with personal information because once we push that “Send” or “Enter” button, we can’t take back what we’ve disseminated, and it’s out in the ethers for everyone to see forever.

Therefore, we need to be more discriminating, and limit what we transmit to others, especially strangers. Privacy and modesty are not only good qualities for our dating life, but are beneficial for our personal safety as well.

For example, you may provide all kinds of personal information to speed up the pace of a relationship between you and a new partner because you feel a need to be married or living with someone by a certain age. This can motivate you to divulge a lot of information in a short amount of time to force a connection. This is especially true if your friends and acquaintances are romantically involved, and you feel the need to keep up with them.

Ideally, you want to get to know someone first and allow the bond between you to develop gradually and incrementally over time, so that you’re emotionally and physically relating to someone you’ve grown to trust.

So, avoid sending excessive e-mails and texts and be concise with the information you communicate and save the extended conversations for your in-person interactions. Also, since you can’t discern someone’s tone of voice in a written message sometimes people can take things the wrong way or misread what you’re saying.

Additionally, respect the privacy of the person you’re in a relationship with. You don’t need to broadcast every detail of what happened on a date to your friends on social media, or via e-mail or texts. It’s no one else’s business.

When you reveal too much of yourself, especially to strangers, it might be something you regret later on and is often never a healthy situation.

ACTION STEP:

Today, reflect on the level of personal information you are giving out and decide if you need to be more selective with what you are sharing and with whom.

Choose Wisely

It’s wise to remember that a couple is made up of the emotional health of both individuals, so be sure to choose a mate wisely. You can start by noticing if you’re surrounding yourself with critical, angry, or negative people; and see where you have those qualities within yourself. We tend to attract people who mirror the very characteristics we have within us. As we go about modifying these unpleasant attributes, we will attract those who mirror our new reality.

Here are some things to be aware of as you work on attracting the most compatible partner:

Be emotionally present. Make a commitment to be with someone who is emotionally present while striving to be that way, too. This will lead to a more joyful and equitable relationship. It’s easy to tell if someone isn’t present emotionally—they often seem distracted and don’t appear to be genuinely listening to you when you speak. Examples include an individual who’s glancing over your shoulder when you’re having a conversation instead of looking in your eyes, a person who constantly checks one’s phone for messages or texts, or someone who impatiently encourages you to “get to the point.”

Use the past as a helpful resource. Making mistakes in prior relationships is a great teacher with respect to what doesn’t work, as well as the relationship skills that need improvement. Your previous interactions represent a wealth of knowledge of what not to do, such as being too available, controlling, or trying to fix someone else. This awareness will help you apply new behaviors for better interpersonal results going forward. This is a positive use of the painful experiences you may have had in the past.

Take responsibility for the choices you make. We are responsible for how we choose to live our life and for the decisions we make. When we don’t take responsibility for our choice of partner and things don’t turn out as we would like, we may end up blaming others. Yet we may choose someone for the wrong reasons to begin with, or stay in the relationship even after we realize that it isn’t working. If we remain with someone who has proven to be unreliable, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, then we can’t blame anyone else for our choices. And the more we accept this behavior, the more we will draw it to us.

Therefore, instead of choosing to be a victim of our experiences so far, we can learn something from them instead. This will empower us to take the necessary actions to move forward more positively.

ACTION STEP:

For one week, pay attention to the people you are surrounding yourself with and realize that your choices are up to you. You can make better decisions in order to have the relationships you want and deserve.

Grateful Heart

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”

— Helen Keller

Having a grateful heart makes us aware of all the wonderful things we currently have in our life, and an appreciation for all the gifts we’ve been given in the past. When we acknowledge and give thanks for all our blessings, it reduces the tendency to take things for granted.

Increasing our awareness on a daily basis of all the good we have now and wish to receive, begins with “gratitude thinking.”

We can begin this thought process by focusing on the following:

— Embrace the moment. When we appreciate everything in the present and embrace life, we start to ease up, relax and take each day as it comes. We can be playful, have fun, and look on the bright side. We might look back on our life history and, in retrospect, see how many things turned out in our favor. If we would have known it was all going to work out, then we would have enjoyed ourselves more instead of worrying. This can help us enjoy the present more by trusting that all is exactly the way it’s supposed to be at this time in our life.

Be thankful for our current blessings. We can look around and see what we can be grateful for now, such as good health, supportive friends, and a loving family, to name a few. Being appreciative of what we already have is a wonderful way to thank life for all we have been given. This may seem tough if what we have isn’t exactly what we want, and we’re struggling in some way. However, even struggles can bring about miracles, such as the resulting self-growth that comes from taking positive actions that we may have been putting off.

— Be grateful for what comes our way. When we appreciate what we already have, then it seems like our good energy and feelings of thankfulness, attracts even more gifts. When we feel deserving of nice things, then we can enjoy what shows up for us even more. Sometimes what comes to us may be confusing, but we might later discover that there were lessons to be learned. If we believe that everything happens for a reason and for our highest good, then we can appreciate that the events and people that show up in our life provides a divinely inspired purpose.

ACTION STEP:

A good way to maintain a feeling of gratitude is to write down five or more things you’re grateful for each day, and really feel the appreciation.