Archive | August 2013

Teach People How To Treat You

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Dr. Phil is famous for saying, “We teach people how to treat us” as he discusses in an interview with the host from Access Hollywood more fully which can be watched by clicking here.

Basically, we train people what they can get away with by our responses or lack thereof in our interpersonal relationships. For example, if we do everything for everyone all the time, they consciously or unconsciously begin to take advantage of us; which we taught them to do by continuing to carry their weight and ours too!

If we aren’t used to asking for what we need, it can feel very uncomfortable at first. It does take practice and a whole lot of courage to speak up and express what is important to us and be honest about our likes and dislikes.

Many of us were raised to be the ‘good girls’ and boys’ and not create waves and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. However, being nice is not always the best or most loving response, as it enables bad behavior from those who are hurtful or not mutually contributing in our lives; and keeps us from setting boundaries. This type of withholding, self-sacrificing pattern of living creates enabling relationships and is personally destructive.

We do our friends and ourselves a disservice by withholding our true feelings and developing resentment about something they are doing or not doing that is disturbing us.

Most people aren’t mind readers either, so it is not fair to assume others should know what we need without our asking for it.

Many of us refrain from asking for something because we find it immature and needy. Ironically, it is a sign of maturity, strength and self-love to trust ourselves and ask for what we need.

The responses we get from others may not always be to our liking and can lead us to feeling shamed or foolish. If that is the case, then it is either our discomfort at breaking a long standing pattern of not requiring enough from others, or maybe they are just not able to meet the need at this time, or maybe they are not the friend we thought.

Time and our intuition will tell, but if it is the latter, then it is better to find that out now and be authentic, then remaining silent and dishonest in order to keep them around in our life.

All we can control is our side of the conversation and others have the right to either agree to meet our requests or not. Their responses are revealing and instructive information as to where we stand and if that standing will work for us.

It really does take practice to ask for what we need, and listen to the voice within or any other skills we want to develop.

For instance, it would be good to start asking for small things and work up to the bigger things just like if we started lifting weights at the gym. Hopefully, we would start lifting lighter weights and gradually increase the weight over time. Our muscles will get stronger as time goes by and not cause as much injury in the process with this practical approach.

Same is true with the practice of speaking up and being a good friend to ourselves by asking for what we need. That assertiveness muscle needs some attention too, if it is to get stronger and more comfortable over time.

Action Step:

Today, practice asking for something you need with a safe person in your life, in spite of your discomfort in doing so.

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Take 21 Actions in 21 Days

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In my book entitled, The Right Relationship Starts with You, I have a daily action step listed at the end of each chapter over a 21-day period. Preceding the action steps in the book is a discussion about a variety of self-growth selected topics.

However, whether or not you have read this Personal Development Guide yet or not, you can still benefit from the list compiled below, of actions to take toward healthier living!

Enjoy!

1. Today, do not correct others, or monitor their behaviors. Pay attention to whom or what tempts you to reprimand or become controlling, and then come up with alternative ways to handle these situations.

2. Make a list of as many beliefs as you can think of that you currently adhere to. Then, make another list beside it with alternate beliefs you would like to adopt.

3. Be aware of the quality of your self-talk, and make a point of keeping it as positive as possible. You can start by using the affirmations below until you create those of your own. Just starting with these two 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.”

4. In the meditative space that you create, just sit quietly for 5 to 30 minutes and see how it makes you feel.

5. A good way to maintain a feeling of gratitude for all your blessings is to write them down in a journal on a daily basis. This habit will be a small investment of your time when you compare it to the miraculous results that come from it. So, why not start by writing down five or more things you’re grateful for today, and really feel the appreciation in your heart.

6Create a relationship map that will feature images that you cut out of magazines, representing the mental visualizations you create. The map might have pictures of happy couples, material possessions, vacation scenes, couples with children, or anything else that you yearn for. Paste the pictures onto a poster board and put it in a place where you’ll see it each day. The combination of mental and physical visualization will work magic in your life.

7. Write down a list of all the things you’d like to do to make yourself a priority. Don’t worry about seeming selfish—there’s nothing wrong with nurturing you for a change. Next, actually do the things you’ve written down—don’t just think about doing them. Note how you feel once you put yourself at the top of that list.

 8Write down five ways in which you’re settling, or putting up with behavior you’re not comfortable with, and the reasons you think you’re doing so. Then next to each item, write down how you’re going to counteract this behavior for your highest good.

 9Write down some ways in which you haven’t been shining your light. What can you do differently?

10. For one week, pay attention to the people you are surrounding yourself with. Then, write down the qualities you like about them and those you don’t and see how closely you mirror these same qualities.

11. Today, write down the requests and/or favors that others have asked of you in the past year or so that you said “yes” to even though you wanted to say “no.” Think about how you will modify your behavior in the future, and how you think this will make you feel.

12. Where on the attitude scale are you? Very positive? A bit negative? What will you do to change your attitude today? Write down your thoughts.

13. For today, refuse to take anything personally by reminding yourself not to make assumptions, and by making an effort to give others the benefit of the doubt.

14. Begin the healing process by putting the names of those you are struggling to forgive in a forgiveness box, and pray to be relieved of their hold over you.

15. Take the time to connect with your support system by contacting them regularly. Write down your thoughts and feelings in your journal with respect to how you respond to these connections.

16. Practice pausing today when disturbed, and observe your personal triggers. See if you can choose a response that feels good.

17. Write down ten ways in which you’re going to take positive steps to make your next relationship a fulfilling one. Note the characteristics you’re going to bring to the relationship, and those you’d like to see in another. Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t.

18. Begin to attract and create the relationship you desire by writing down your dream relationship in as much detail as possible, as outlined below. Then, see what you can do to enhance those qualities within yourself as well.

  • Write down a summary of what your next relationship looks and feels like.
  • Describe your ideal mate’s characteristics, and include as much detail as possible.
  • Describe the way you would like to conduct yourself in this relationship.
  • How do you think you’ll feel when you have the relationship you’ve always dreamed of?

19. Write down ways in which you can laugh at yourself from a position of love and good-natured fun. How do you feel when you do so?

20. 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.

21. What are some lessons you’ve learned from past challenges? Reflect on how they ultimately proved to be gifts from the universe.

Take No Offense

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Being offended or having our feelings wounded is a common experience, and we often have many good reasons for why we should be offended, and why we are right to be upset.

Unfortunately, being right doesn’t equate to feeling better because we’re still left feeling injured which is very unpleasant. Even though we understand why we are insulted, it is seldom helpful to ruminate on what or who caused the wrongdoing.

Not only is staying offended not helpful but it makes us suffer twice as much; first, from the original hurt and second, from continuing to relive it.

People just do what they do, and being offended by them is giving them all the power for our emotional health. This is not to say we should continue to hang around people, places or things we find upsetting or that we shouldn’t pay attention to our feelings.

Rather, it is about not perpetuating or indulging in the pain that results from other people’s actions and behavior because this ultimately weakens and hurts us.

For example, if we have a friend who never remembers our birthday or other important events in our life or never attends important party celebrations that honor us; then we have choices other than being offended or staying offended.

We can cease inviting them to important functions or stop expecting them to attend if we do include them or end the relationship altogether. We can certainly talk to them about how it makes us feel when they don’t make the effort to acknowledge our special days as well.

However, if this conversation falls on deaf ears, then ultimately we may find more peace by accepting that this relationship is not offering the satisfaction or feelings of value that we desire in a friendship, and let them go without resentment.

On the other hand, if we find that we are taking offense at everything that is said or done, and interpreting everything as a personal affront, then this may require some quiet introspection and outside assistance, to find the internal peace that eludes us.

Real or imagined, being offended takes away our good energy and indulges our egos need to be right or in control. Instead of placating the ego and draining our positive energy on cataloging that which upsets us; we can focus our efforts on making choices that complement our personal tastes and desires while applying acceptance to that which we cannot change.

Action Step:

Today, try focusing on that which makes you feel good and calm such as walking in nature, spending time with a good hearted friend, or playing with the family pet.

Refrain From Judging

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It is easy to judge another or think we know how someone else is feeling. However, usually we don’t know what it is like to walk in another’s shoes until we experience certain situations ourselves. Therefore, offering platitudes or making judgments about someone’s coping abilities is not the most helpful response. However, offering a nonjudgmental listening space can work wonders when someone is struggling.

This point was driven home to me this past weekend, when I received a phone call from two different friends who were experiencing some situations that I had gone through several years ago. The calls were so affirming and proved how we don’t fully understand something until it personally happens to us. Fortunately, our experiences can turn into gifts for others who encounter the same situations we do.

For example, one friend called to say that she now knows what it is like to have severe back spasms, and wanted to tell me how she now understands more fully what I went through, when I had them many years ago.

Unfortunately, she recently had an episode of these strong muscle contractions for the first in her life on vacation, and was feeling the excruciating pain from it. She has had back pain in her life before, as many of us have, but nothing like this.

Spasms are debilitating, and stop life in its tracks. In this condition, you can’t walk, sit or anything else but lay in bed in sheer agony. Given my experience with it, I could totally empathize and hear her fully without offering meaningless commentary or judging her handling of the situation.

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My other friend and his wife had recently moved to another state due to a job offer and though the job was a great opportunity, the state they moved to is not to their liking. Therefore, they are making plans to leave there, and return to their original location in the next year. He said he now understands what my husband and I went through when we moved to a state we didn’t connect with.

At the time, he didn’t quite understand our lingering discomfort but now identifies with the unsettling feelings that arise when you are continually uncomfortable in your new surroundings or it is missing many things that you love. I could definitely appreciate his situation and understand why he wants to return.

People relocate for any number of reasons but sometimes after we move, we discover it isn’t what we thought. We may realize we gave up more than we got from the experience or we didn’t think we would miss certain things as much as we do.

For example, a person who loves the ocean will likely come to miss it terribly, if they live in the desert. Likewise, a person who loves to ski down the slopes in a winter wonderland will probably feel lost without snow any part of the year.

Fortunately, we are free to change our minds on any number of decisions we make and don’t need to feel like we failed if it doesn’t go as planned. Part of living life to the fullest is trying out different activities or places to live; knowing that some will work out for us and some will not.

Therefore, it is good to ignore certain comments from others or from within our own head, that suggests we are indecisive, or hard to please. Staying put in dissatisfying jobs, houses, geographic locations or relationships is often caused by the belief that the ‘grass is not greener’ somewhere else. Granted, sometimes that might be true but sometimes it is greener.

Many of us who have changed careers, relationships or living arrangements are experiencing great joy in the change which debunks the idea that we are foolish to expect anything different if we make an adjustment.

We all have the right and the freedom to seek out people, places and things that are more to our liking. Instead of feeling wrong for doing so, we should embrace how healthy it is to pursue a life that is in alignment with what brings us joy; rather than staying stuck in negative situations and forcing ourselves to accept it.

Certainly, some things do require acceptance but others require action to make the changes we want to make. We can still choose to be happy in the process of making desired changes but not avoid making them entirely.

Usually, our shared life experiences help us become less judgmental on how someone should act in a given situation that we’ve experienced ourselves. However, the goal is to extend that same nonjudgmental attitude to those who are living in situations we don’t know anything about; as judging never helps anyone but having more compassion does.

Action Step:

Refrain from asserting we know what another should do, feel or say and make this a judgment free day instead!

 

Brainstorm New Ideas

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We are all familiar with the concept of group brainstorming; where people come together and throw out spontaneous ideas until they flesh out ideas that actually sound great and doable.

During the process of these brainstorming sessions, the point is to flood the room with free flowing thoughts, no matter how outlandish they sound; and have others to piggy back on those concepts. It is through these sessions, that true creativity can flow without the rational mind kicking in to determine if all makes sense or not.

Whether we brainstorm as a group or individually, unrestrained thoughts can lead to very innovative and creative ideas; ranging all the way from product development, to developing new formulas for living.

For example, I was listening to a speaker the other day who had conducted an individual brainstorming session with himself regarding how to deal with troubling bosses or anyone else he has struggles with. He was prompted to do so because the way he was responded and reacting up until now was not serving him very well. He was not feeling good about the unpleasantness within him, or around him when he inflicting painful words, thoughts or energy toward himself or others.

He came up with several ideas and after sorting through many of them, he came up with a principle to live by which is to, ‘Do No Harm.’ So when he got laid off recently, instead of launching into a tirade at the boss who let him go, he decided to withhold adding harm to the situation by refusing to act out in anger. Had he launched into an angry tirade as he was tempted to do, he would have done himself and the other person harm by behaving that way.

Instead, he told himself that he was lucky to get a severance package that would cover his expenses over the next 6 months, and was well aware that not everyone gets such a package. So, he felt grateful that he could walk away with his dignity, not burn his bridges with this employer, and be covered financially for many months while he looked for something else.

The application of these 3 little words has equaled big results. Now, whenever he gets angry, he is able to restrain himself easier by repeating and following the intention of ‘Doing No Harm.’  

When we want to infuse our life with more excitement and energy, we too, can look to some new ideas or ways of doing things. We can look around our life, and see if there is something we can add or take away from our daily routine that would invigorate us and give our days a face lift. For instance, if we are lonely, we can brainstorm about all the ways to meet people and see what develops from our list.

For the man in the example above, he raised his life and consciousness from a place of anger and revenge to one where his focus was on the gifts in the situation. By doing so, he was able to put his energy into getting a new career, instead of lamenting the one he lost.

This new found attitude will no doubt attract much better situations for him in the future and help him to feel better in the present as well.

Action Step:

Come up with as many ideas as possible, off the top of your head today, and see if they spark a new way of handling a current situation.

Keep the Faith

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Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;

Behind the clouds the sun is still shining;

Thy fate is the common fate of all,

Into each life some rain must fall.

From “The Rainy Day” By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Haven’t’ we all had times when problems, sad feelings or dashed dreams seemed to rain down upon us?

It is during these times that we need to remember that behind the clouds, the sun is still shining and to keep the faith for better days ahead!

I was reminded of this when speaking with a friend the other day, who was sharing her recent disappointment surrounding some changes in her life. She had recently moved from a home she loved, back to an apartment she lived in prior to her home experience. She didn’t want to move but the owner of the home made it quite unbearable for her to remain his tenant.

Everyone was telling her that the move was a good thing, and a fresh start. Though it is true that it was good to remove herself from the home rental situation; it didn’t take away the frustration she felt in having to leave a place that she had grown accustomed to.

She was disheartened that her landlord wasn’t as comfortable and appealing, as the home itself had been. She felt she was really getting somewhere when she found this wonderful house and its cozy surroundings; only to end up in the same apartment she had started with.

In talking with her further, it became clear that her feelings were not just about the house. There was a lot of sadness surrounding her, as a friend had recently lost a family member and she had recently ended the relationship with her boyfriend.

At the same time, she is dealing with some physical issues, and struggling to acquire the energy needed to keep her business running smoothly.

All things considered, she felt she hadn’t come very far in life as a whole, to be dealing with all the difficulties she was now experiencing.

I reminded her that though her physical location has changed to something less desirable, her internal growth has greatly improved.

She is definitely getting somewhere by the fact that she is choosing to move away from situations that are unhealthy for her, and moving toward being true to herself!

As a result, she is able take the leap of faith, and trust that all these healthy choices will lead to better circumstances and relationships in the future, which is definitely a bright spot behind the clouds around her.

Though the process of making changes doesn’t always feel comfortable in the moment; the gifts that wait on the other side can flood our lives with greater joy and contentment than we can imagine.

What valuable lessons have you learned from the storms in your life?

Actions Step:

Look at any dark clouds looming in your present circumstances, and see what bright spots lie behind them.