In his book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman talks about how we all need to know how we give – and want to receive – love. Listen to Vanessa Van Edwards explain further in this video.
If you’ve never heard of the Myers-Briggs Personality test, this video will help you understand who you are and why.
“If only he would pick up on my hints so I don’t have to spell it out!”
“If only he would talk to me about his feelings!”
“If only she would let me give her advice and not just want me to listen to her problems!”
Do these thoughts ever go through your mind? I’m sure they have. We have all had frustrations with the opposite sex at one point or another. It can lead to conflict, divorce, and pain if we don’t try to understand each other more. But no one ever teaches us about gender differences, unless you happen to come across a class like mine when you are in college.
I have been teaching gender communication for about 15 years, and it’s my favorite class. Why? Because my students become mesmerized. They have so many “Ah Ha!” moments. I love that!
Here are eight research-proven facts about gender that could be helpful to you:
1. People start “gender-izing” before a baby is even born.
I know people who decorate their baby boy’s room with images of footballs, basketballs and anything else sports-related. And they decorate girls’ rooms with pink colors, flowers, and frilly things. And don’t forget the flower headbands on the girl babies! The point here is that we are all so obsessed with labeling our children that we automatically set forth these unspoken expectations even before they are born.
2. Gender ideals are culturally bound (and time-bound).
American women shave their legs and arm pits. But in some other areas of the world, this isn’t so. And back several hundred years ago, the gender ideal for a woman was to be overweight and have very white skin (because it meant they were rich enough to eat well and not work in the fields). Now it’s the opposite. So gender ideals are very relative — even within families. Some families expect traditional gender roles from their children, while others welcome challenging those boundaries.
3. We tend to model our same-sex parent’s behavior.
The Social Learning Theory suggests that we model the behavior that we see on a regular basis. Therefore, if your mom wore make-up, did all the household chores, and was a stay-at-home mom, then you are more likely to follow in her footsteps. However, if your dad stayed at home with the kids while your mom was CEO of a company, you are more likely to follow their behavior. This theory makes gender behavior a little more individualistic and relative to families.
4. Males and females learn differently and are not treated the same in the classroom.
I’m sure you’ve heard that boys tend to be better at math, science and spatial subjects. And girls are better at reading and language. But did you know that teachers also treat them differently? From pre-school to graduate school, teachers tend to focus more time and attention on male students. The reasons for this vary, but it is true.
5. Men and women tend to have different leadership styles.
Traditionally, men have dominated the public sphere (business world and everything outside the home), whereas women have dominated the private sphere. Because of that, there are different skills required to be successful in these different arenas. One of those differing skills is their leadership styles. While there is a lot of research on the topic, men tend to be more autocratic leaders — they “tell people what to do.” On the contrary, women tend to be more democratic leaders — they ask input from their subordinates and give them more of a voice. Of course, not every male or female leader falls into these categories, but those are the tendencies.
6. Many women use “powerless” language.
Females tend to use language that undercuts their power and authority, and it is also excessively polite. They often say things like, “This might be a stupid idea, but …” or “I’m so sorry, am I bothering you? I can come back later…” or “You’ll be home soon, won’t you?” These types of ways of speaking gives up the power to the other person to say, “Yes, that’s a stupid idea” or “Yes, you’re bothering me — go away” or “No, I won’t be home soon.” Women are socialized to speak like this because they are supposed to be nice and polite to other people, but it undermines their self-confidence as well.
7. Women listen to connect with another person, and men listen to solve a problem.
When listening to a woman, men often think, “Oh my gosh, can she just GET TO THE POINT?” And women are thinking, “Why can’t he just listen to me without giving me advice and trying to fix my problem?” This is normal. Women view listening as something that bonds people. Men, however, are very goal-oriented. They don’t really see the point of just listening to someone vent if they can’t help them. Neither style is bad, they are just different!
8. The media simultaneously creates and perpetuates gender stereotypes.
As I discussed in point number two, gender ideals change and are culture-specific. And a huge area where we get messages about how we should be as a male or female is from the media. For example, women are socialized to want to have extravagant weddings. And men are socialized to want their independence. It’s not true for ALL men and ALL women, but generally speaking, it’s true.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I teach an entire semester-long class about the topic of gender differences, so there is no way that I could fit it all into one little article. But hopefully I gave you some information that will help you be more tolerant and forgiving of the opposite sex!
It’s difficult enough to meet someone who seems like a good love match. But then, over time, things happen between you and your partner that make you wonder: “Is this the right person for me?”
It seems as though it should be such an easy question to answer. But once you fall in love, your head and heart can conspire to make you minimize your unhappiness. As the saying goes, love really can make you blind.
Research about marriage reveals that even great relationships go through rough patches that can last months or even years. Another surprising finding is that these mutally happy couples also live with important unresolved issues.
What keeps these couples happy together is that they sustain the building blocks of long lasting, mutually satisfying relationships: commitment, passion, friendship, respect, complementary styles and abilities, good communication and problem-solving skills, and shared interests and values.
Every couple is different. All you have to do to know that love has its wild cards is to look at all the combinations of couples that make you think: “What an odd pair.”
I can’t possibly know if your partner is the one for you, but I’m offering you this guide to help you assess whether you are in a bad relationship. This list is based on findings from my five-year research with thousands of women for my book. It consists of statements that these women used to get a more honest picture of their relationships.
It’s possible that only one thing on the list below, such as domestic violence, is sufficient for you to know to get help or get out. Use this list to educate you and to activate your newly informed intuition to help you understand your situation and make smart decisions.
Read each statement and think if it applies to your partner. There is no magic number that means you should leave. As you can imagine, I strongly recommend you see a licensed mental health counselor for guidance. Don’t let doubts linger or get swept under your radar.
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Respect is earned. It is a vital part of healthy love Are you proud of your partner?.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Loving partners do not air dirty laundry in public They do not abuse in private.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Research shows that a sarcastic and criticizing style erodes love.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Your partner should want the best for you. Jealousy taints your joy.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Mature partners are able to give up having to be right.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Healthy couples get solution-focused, and they don’t replay the past.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Inability or reluctance to say I’m sorry means someone does not take responsibility. Healthy relationships thrive on mutual self-responsibility.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Sex should never be demeaning or insensitive to your needs.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Happy couples tell the partner what is bothering them.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Affairs are real threats to love. About a third of couples survives and thrives after an affair.)
Almost all the time Most of the time Sometimes Rarely
(Stealing and lying about money is a real breach of trust and respect.)
What have you learned about your relationship? Don’t act in haste. Get professional help. If you feel your life and safety are in danger, seek counseling to develop a safety plan first before you pack your bags. But even if it’s something as simple as you want to buy some contemporary wall art, but he gets angry with you for that, then it’s time to reconsider your whole relationship.
I hope these tips help. My mission is to help you grow your emotional bravery and intuitive power in life, love, work, happiness, and success! You can be part of my next book about intuition! Your story can help others! Go to my website www.lovevictory.com and sign up on the right column to receive gifts and information.
We all grew up watching Disney movies. While they are fun to watch, have you ever thought about what kinds of messages they give us?
I am a communication professor, and one of the classes I teach is about gender. This doesn’t just include how men and women communicate differently, but also the cultural expectations that we get from our society.
But let’s talk about the Disney movies. First, you have Cinderella. She was the “underdog.” She was poor, unwanted, and bullied by her Wicked Stepmother and her stepsisters. Her life is going nowhere, and she’s sad and miserable. Until one day, her fairy godmother appears and says that she gets to go to a ball. She meets her Prince Charming, and loses her glass slipper. Since Prince Charming has already fallen in love with her, he searches high and low for the girl who fits into the glass slipper. And of course, he finds her and they live happily ever after.
Then we have Snow White. The Wicked Queen was jealous of Snow White’s beauty, and so she orders her innocent stepdaughter to be murdered. Later, she discovers that Snow White is still alive and hiding in a cottage with seven friendly little miners – the dwarves. So she disguises herself as a hag and brings a poisoned apple to Snow White, who falls into a death-like sleep that can only be broken only by a kiss from the prince.
Do you see a theme here? The demure, beautiful, submissive female is hated by an older, uglier woman who tries to either punish or kill her. Then, the only way that she is saved is by having a handsome prince rescue her.
And then they live happily ever after.
When you break it down like that and make it a bit more literal, it doesn’t sound so romantic – or realistic – does it? Of course we know that Disney movies aren’t realistic.
Or do we?
Do we secretly hope that our lives will turn out like Cinderella or Snow White? Most of us would just chuckle at the thought and think “that’s ridiculous!”
But the subconscious mind is powerful. Many times, our beliefs and desires aren’t even part of our conscious awareness.
For example, how many women reading this played “bride” or “getting married” when they were young girls? It’s not that uncommon. Even if you didn’t do that, you probably dreamed of your perfect husband and fantasized about your wedding day. So you might not have verbalized your expectations and desires, but they were definitely there.
And how about the perfect proposal? I have a cousin who had her proposal planned out to the tiniest detail. She even told me, “When I meet the man I’m going to marry, you have to tell him this is the kind of proposal that I want, okay?” It consisted of a trail of clues and love notes…and a fancy dress in a hotel waiting for her…and then a limo taking her to some secret romantic location. And it all left her wondering what was happening. But all the while she really knew that it was her prince who was creating this elaborate proposal. And of course, they would live happily ever after.
The funny thing is that this cousin just recently got engaged. And did it happen like she wanted?
Of course not.
Maybe that’s my fault for not cluing the guy in. Whoops. Sorry, Michelle. But I’m still going to get you an extra special wedding gift.
But you get my point.
Our cultures talks about the prince and the proposal. It talks about riding off into the sunset and living happily ever after.
But it never talks about how to make that happen.
Once the honeymoon period wears off, then what? By then, you might be highly irritated that he never does the laundry. Or that he always watches sports. Or any other list of complaints that eventually emerge in a marriage.
Our schools don’t teach us how to deal with relationship problems. They teach us science, math, English, and even physical education, but not how to have a good relationship. Or how to repair one that needs it.
Sometimes our culture just sets us up for disappointment. I know what you’re thinking, “Gosh, she’s really bitter and unhappy!” Actually nothing could be further from the truth.
Did I have unrealistic expectations of romance and marriage? Absolutely. Did I know that I did? No. Well, maybe a little, but not enough. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, I am divorced. But I did really try to make it work.
But actually, I’m quite happy being single.
The point I’m trying to make in this article is that the expectations that our culture gives us about “happily ever after” are not accurate. Sure, the lucky few end up like Noah and Allie in The Notebook. But I don’t know a whole lot of them. I hope you do. But I don’t.
So instead of focusing so much on a fantasy, or the perfect wedding day, I think it’s more important that we focus on how to have a happy marriage. How to get along. How to love each other unconditionally regardless of our differences – and our expectations.
Real life is not a Disney movie. Even though we all know that, I think at some level, we all hope that we will be one of the lucky few who ends up being the exception to that rule.
If you got nothing else from this article, I hope that you will teach your children (or grandchildren) how to have healthy relationships. And realistic expectations.
Believe it or not, I think that we all can have our own version of happily ever after. But in order to do that, we need the knowledge, tools, and desire to keep putting effort into our relationship for the rest of our lives.
It can be done. I have faith that it can.
What about you?
Have you ever had relationship problems (like all of us), and wondered what really makes love last? These older couples give us their secrets to everlasting love. Check it out!
The age-old question: is there life after death? Watch this video to learn the fascinating results of a study that includes 2,000 cases.
If you are an online dater or know someone who is, this video will give you solid tips for finding your true love!
We live in a world that rewards beauty and punishes mediocrity or being average. In this TED talk, supermodel Cameron Russell explains why looks aren’t everything.
By Anisha Joshi
For many years of my life so far, I was a tom boy. The reason was obvious. I grew up in a patriarchal society where I was supposed to reach home by 8 p.m., but the boys of my age went out at that time. Moreover, all the news and media coverage about the atrocities against women, shook me. I used to hate men because I felt they can do almost anything anytime.
Gradually, things started changing. I moved out of my native place. I met people. My perceptions changed. I changed. I started taking charge of my life. I started learning the art of keeping my emotions under my control. I started loving myself a bit more because I am a woman. I realized what an amazing thing it is to be feminine and yet strong at the same time. I started supporting feminist thoughts.
I still remember, on a random train journey, I met a guy who was excited about organizing a Pink Panther race for women. Women being the CEOs, being the pilots, operating huge machines, writing award-winning novels, raising voices against them, while being the mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, and much more. So, I have my own reasons for being super happy and super proud that I am a woman.
On this International Women’s Day, I want to write a few lines for every beautiful lady out there:
Being a woman,
You are strong
You are able
You are beautiful
You are eternally pure
You are glory
You are grace
You are elegance
You are natural
You are untouched
You are pure
You are the power
You are the smile
You are love
You are life
You create history
You add colors
You add mind-blowing mysteries
You add the walks and talks
You are perfect
You are complete
Just as strong and pious as Mother Mary
Just as perfect as Goddess Durga
You are complete within yourself.
You don’t need anyone to complete your existence.
But, someone needs you to complete his existence.
I personally adore the way Hindu Mythology has depicted Goddess Durga – open hair, wearing sari, jewelry – the feminine aspects, alongside the strength and ability to stand and rectify the wrong – holding a head of demon with dropping blood. This is the real woman – the one who is strong enough to face anything. The one who is independent, the one who has the confidence in herself and lives her life the way she wants. Yet she cares for her family, she loves her near and dear ones. The beauty of being a woman is this essence of being complete.
Happy Woman’s Day!!
Let’s cherish the existence of women, not just today but every day.
Let’s begin a new beginning, where women are seen with respect and complete perfection each day.
Cheers to all the women.
Cheers to all the men who read this.
By Dan Munro
Do you feel overwhelmed by your emotions? Do you wish you could control them so they don’t control you? In this wise video, life coach Dan Munro discusses how you can handle your emotions more effectively.
Dr. BJ Miller almost died in college after having 11,000 volts of electricity shot through his body. In his TED talk, he speaks about what matters most when people are at the end of their lives.
Have you ever wondered why your emotions get the best of your sometimes? Dr. Sean Sullivan, the creator of BeYourPurpose.com, teaches you how to identify the triggers that are holding you back from having more in life!
By Dick Sutphen
There is a metaphysical axiom that says, “Man always follows the highest path for which he is really certain.” Most likely, you are following the highest path of which you are really certain … and the result is your current life, just the way it is. If your life isn’t the way you want it to be, suspend your beliefs for a few minutes and explore with an open mind:
THE SEVEN KARMIC PATHS
1. NO PATH: This path is best expressed in poet William Blake’s words: “The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” Those on this path eventually, through experience and pain, will perceive what has value and what doesn’t. Those on this path judge everything from a perspective of self, and often they have difficulty judging what action will result in harmony as opposed to disharmony. The No Path people appear to have little sense of balance and are usually unwilling to accept responsibility for their own lives.
2. BEGINNING PATH: These people are more responsible, but they enjoy having things “handed” to them. They want everything done “their way” and are materialistic and pleasure oriented. Chances are, those on the Beginning Path will be unlikely to have much interest in anything they can’t eat, touch or enjoy.
3. INTERMEDIATE PATH: Those on this path are beginning to realize that there is an alternate reality. They might become interested in spiritual matters, but tend to be drawn to dogmatic thinking. While they are less “self” oriented, they usually remain very materialistic and pleasure centered.
4. BALANCED PATH: Those on this path have an awareness of karma and carefully consider their actions because they are aware of the ramifications. They are beginning to comprehend unconditional love and seek to detach from the standard illusions about reality. They begin to recognize that llife can be experienced as a hostile separateness or a tranquil oneness. Those on the Balanced Path don’t repress their natural urges but refrain from excess.
5. HARMONIOUS PATH: These people require their outer life to be in harmony with their inner beliefs. They “live” their spiritual and self-actualized philosophy. They are beginning to incorporate unconditional love/acceptance into their lives and have risen above blame and judgment. They accept “what is” and are well on the road to developing “detached mind.” Most of those on this path practice meditation in some form.
6. FORCE-OF-WILL PATH: This path incorporates extreme discipline. It is the path of those in Zen monasteries, Yoga devotees and some priests … plus many others who center their lives around their spiritual faith. For many, this means extreme dietary practices and celibacy. The argument for following this path is that it is a rapid way to advance spiritually. The primary argument against this path is that it is undesirable to “drop out” of the “real” world and to repress your natural urges and desires, for in doing so, they will increase in intensity. Even if you manifest the self-discipline to deal with them in this life, you may generate a “karmic charge” that will have to be dealt with in a future life.
7. BODHISATTVA PATH: Those on this path are beyond seeking. They are truly “in the world, but not of it.” Only those who are highly evolved are capable of walking this path. They are living examples of “detached mind” and are dedicated to assisting others to find their way out of the darkness and into the spiritual light.
In Turin, Italy, an anonymous citizen wrote the tax office enclosing 10,000 Lira in the envelope and explained he had cheated on his income tax. He said it caused him to lose his appetite. Then he added, “If my appetite doesn’t improve I’ll send the rest.”
It sounds like an easy weight loss program, but I don’t think it could work for me. Guilt doesn’t keep me from eating. It has kept me awake more than once, however.
William Wirt Winchester’s widow Sarah built a bizarre mansion in San Jose, California, to assuage her feelings of remorse. It is a house built over a 38-year period at a cost of over five million dollars. The 160 room house has stairways that lead to blank walls, corridors that lead to un-openable doors, 13 bathrooms, 13 stair steps, 13 lights to a chandelier, 13 windows to a room…strange.
Her husband was the son of Oliver Fisher Winchester, manufacturer of the famous Winchester repeating rifle. The house is referred to as the “guilt house,” and was conceived as a never-ending building project to provide a home for spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles. Instead of addressing her grief and remorse in more therapeutic ways, Sarah’s project occupied the rest of her life.
The late Erma Bombeck called guilt “the gift that keeps on giving.” (She also said she came from a family of pioneers – said her mother invented guilt in 1936.) And it CAN be a gift that keeps on giving when it isn’t laid to rest. It can keep on giving problems to everyone it touches – emotional, physical and spiritual. It seems that if we don’t find a way to deal with it, guilt may deal with us in some frightening ways.
Do you have unresolved guilt? I’m not talking about “good” guilt, the feelings of shame or remorse that keep us from doing something incredibly stupid or hurtful. I mean unnecessary guilt. Over-anxiety and self-loathing about that which can no longer be changed.
If so, it may help to remember that:
● In one day you can recognize where your feelings of guilt come from.
● In one day you can decide to make necessary amends to those you may have hurt.
● In one day you can decide to ask for forgiveness from others.
● In one day you can exercise your spiritual power and choose to be at one with God and the universe.
● In one day you can decide to be gentler with yourself and allow yourself to experience the healing balm of acceptance.
● In one day you can resolve to learn from the past and not repeat your behavior.
● In one day you can choose to do something constructive with that guilt, and then continue every day until it is only a memory.
And best of all, that one day can be today.
Do you want to think right, feel good and become a better you? We have the perfect way for you to start the new year healthier, happier, and experiencing a Belize vacation you’re most likely in need of.
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“We love to pamper our guests,” says co-founder Natalie Jenkins, “and having the opportunity to be their personal concierge for this retreat is amazing. It’s just another way to provide our guests with an exceptional experience.”
The retreat is all inclusive and highlights the best of Belize while focusing on the best of its guests. Reset Retreat helps you release yourself from bad habits, toxic relationships, needy friends, family and unappreciative coworkers by giving you the time and space to heal, reset and grow. The luxury private villa, Villa Verano, is a perfect setting to combine personal growth with exceptional experiences. Enjoy daily yoga, life coaching sessions, cultural explorations, tropical adventures and relaxation and make a resolution to allow yourself to become the priority.
In this short video, Dr. Sean Sullivan discusses how and why meditation can change your life! To learn more from Dr. Sean, join his online community here: BeYourPurpose.com.
By Dick Sutphen
When you live with expectations and desires, it follows you want to control outcomes. You want things to unfold in your favor. But you can’t control outcomes in life. The best you can hope to do is increase the odds through wisdom.
If you’re desiring a particular outcome, step back and ask yourself, “What’s the fear associated with the outcome?”
Explore the fear, including the worst that might happen if things did not turn out in your favor. If you’re committed to an outcome, the fear will be related to loss: The loss of love, loss of control, loss of finances, or the loss of self-esteem. Which applies to your situation?
Then ask yourself, “What if I could take the fear out of my desire?”
If there were no fear, the outcome would not matter. Logical.
So we’re back to resolving fear, a subject I write about a lot, because I’m working on it all the time.
As New Agers, we believe we can create our own reality, and I know this to be true, when we’re talking about finding happiness and fulfillment and living an abundant life. Reality is created by the way we view and accept what is. But don’t confuse this with controlling outcomes that in any way effect other people.
In other words, if you want if you want Leigh to fall in love with you, that is not within your power to control, no matter how many mind-programming CDs you use. The same is true with winning the pageant, getting your book accepted by a major publisher, or desiring a beautiful sunset.
Expectations and the desire to control do not work. Both are fear-based emotions, which we incarnated to rise above.
Many New Agers believe in controlling their thoughts. But it can’t be done. You can catch yourself when you’re thinking negative. You can use thought-stopping techniques which condition you, over time, to reduce fearful thinking. But out-and-out control of your thoughts isn’t an option.
What you can control is your behavior–your actions.
Mystics have always said a wise seeker learns to live without desire. Easier said than done. Probably not going to happen in this lifetime, but finding a self-actualized balance seems to me a worthy goal.
By Kelli Kooken
I was hoping that my anger had subsided, I was wrong. I looked through my phone and saw this text exchange and rage seemed to form inside of me. Why? Why? Why? One year ago at this exact moment my world was complete … Sky was home “pooping in private” (and no doubt laying on the couch, renting a movie and eating mac n’ cheese). I hadn’t yet had to answer that fateful 4:30 a.m. call and knock at the door. I had yet to be haunted by images, by reality, and by death. I was warned that these days leading up to the anniversary would be difficult, but I didn’t quite believe it. I mean in reality how could anything get any harder regarding all of this?
There has been a lot of reflecting these last several days and I’m in shock that a year has already nearly passed without the 3 of them here with all of us. My home went from a revolving door of friends and family to a very quiet home. Sky’s room sits empty too many days and it breaks my heart to walk by and see no activity, no disturbance of her things. I find myself getting angry … angry that others get to move forward. I get angry when I hear so many people complaining about insignificant things in life. I could only pray and beg that we had little things to sweat. I’d give anything, anything at all to have something else to complain about.
The tragic and sudden death of a child will put everything quickly into perspective. And I mean everything.
I wish I could write an inspiring and uplifting blog today. But the truth is I’m feeling so down, so angry, so lost, so sad, so broken, so damaged, and so overwhelmed with grief without Skylar. I wanted to write something today so that she is on everyone’s mind – that’s the greatest comfort I can find these days.
These next several days are going to be hell for all of us … as if we weren’t already living out our hell on earth. I know for me I will be sitting with my baby at 12:40am Monday morning knowing that one year ago at that moment she left us for her forever home. I know that at 4:30 a.m. on Monday I will be reliving that tragic morning, I know at 8 a.m. I will relive when it hit the media and the calls started rushing in. I know that the days following I will remember the numbness of meeting with our amazing funeral director, and the moment that I had to pick out Skylar’s very last outfit. I will be remembering the last moment I shared with her alone in the basement of the funeral home – smelling my angel’s hair and tracing the bruises on her beautiful face. I’ll be remembering the moment I walked into the church for her and Sophie’s dual viewing and seeing the 2 of them up on the stage like the angels that they are, hundreds of flowers surrounding them both. I will remember the 8 hours I stood on that stage next to her — not one time ever leaving her side in all of those hours. I will remember all of the tears shed and the hundreds and hundreds of people who wept at her side. I will remember all of the items placed in her casket with her from so many that loved her. I will remember leaving the church that evening and knowing that I would only get to see her one more time before her earthly body is taken from me forever. I will remember the beautiful service the next day and spending my last few moments alone with her before they closed her casket for good. Having to be pulled away … not wanting anyone else to share in that moment with me. I wanted to touch her hair forever and not let go of her hand. I will remember watching my brothers and Sky’s uncles carry her body out of that church and load her into the back of the limousine. I will remember that drive to the cemetery and seeing her and Sophie side by side and Jules just a few feet away.
I will remember when my world went silent …
But I assure you I will also remember every moment that I shared with Sky. I will let my mind, body, and soul relive this last year as part of my healing and then I will pray to my God to comfort me, wrap me in peace, and help me focus on all that I shared with her. And I pray that for all who loved Sky, Soph, and Jules. I pray that we focus on all of our memories and live the rest of our days in honor of them.
Thank you for your continued prayers and kind words, they never go unnoticed.
I love you more Skylar, Sophie &, Julianna …
***To purchase Kelli Kooken’s book about her journey through grief, click here to buy***
By Dan Munro
Before we talk about the 7 deadly sins of value-breaching, let’s first discuss what it means to live by your values. This concept is core to all of my work, and I believe it to be the foundation of self-confidence. It is the cure to neuroticism, helplessness, and lack of purpose.
Living by values is about knowing the difference between the Real Self (who you are being right now), the Ought Self (who you’ve been conditioned into believing you ‘should’ be), and the Ideal Self (the person you wish you were, living by your values consistently). Quite often we are confused about the difference between our core values and the expectations of others. If you’re not sure, I suggest you read this
When you live by your values you won’t feel any need to explain your behaviour to yourself (e.g. “I didn’t say hi to that girl because she’s on the phone”), because you’ll feel deeply satisfied with your actions. You’ll know deep down you did the right thing for you. Explaining it to others will seem pointless, because you’ll feel that it has nothing to do with them.
Conversely, whenever you have to justify, rationalise or otherwise explain your own behaviour to yourself or others, there’s a good chance you’ve breached your values and are trying to rid yourself of the guilt associated with this.
With valued-living you are following a code, but it’s about motives, not rules. You are not bound to what you do, instead you focus on WHY you do it. It’s all about reason and purpose. Values may look different in actions from one day to the next, but the reasons for those actions are consistent, e.g. to be honest, or courageous.
This style of living is all about action – thinking and talking about your values is not the same as living by them. Stop telling people you are [insert value here, e.g. honest], and show them you are instead.
HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE ARE NOT LIVING BY OUR VALUES?
Learn to recognise the feeling I call The Authenticity Gap – a shameful sensation of conflict between your Real Self and your Ideal Self (after filtering out the distraction of the Ought Self). This guilt usually arrives some time after the action is taken, and often is most recognisable as regret for missed opportunities. Any time you think “I should have done X”, you are probably experiencing The Authenticity Gap.
This guilt about past actions, based on how they let you down, is related to your beliefs about what is ‘right’. In an emotional moment, such as feeling afraid, it’s easy to forget what we believe is right. Later on, upon reflection, we realise we did not live by our values. Valued-living, when done right, will never leave you feeling guilty.
The Authenticity Gap is caused by your normal human desire to stay in your comfort zone. It’s all about safety. We are most likely to sacrifice our values for the perception of safety, such as a secure relationship, career, or finances. To engage in valued-living, we must be willing to risk all of these things and more.
Values require you to accept that you have nothing to lose.
Generally the question becomes “Would I rather be safe or have integrity?” – you will rarely be able to guarantee both at the same time. Think about this: people can stop loving you at any time, redundancy is always a marketplace-shift away, and money is easily lost; so there’s no such thing as safety! You may as well aim for values; at least you have control over those.
THE 7 DEADLY SINS – HOW ARE YOU BREACHING YOUR VALUES?
So let’s have some fun with this and look at how people breach their values. For the sake of context I thought it would be interesting to use the 7 deadly sins as a basis for this. After each I’ve listed some values you could focus on to rid yourself of the sin. Here we go…
WRATH – Trying to get retribution because you feel something has been taken from you. This often follows irrational blaming of external sources for your internal pain, such as thinking that society is at fault for you having low self-worth. Wrath builds from feeling that life is somehow “unfair” and that you are entitled to ‘pay-back’. At its worst, wrath involves wanting others to suffer to appease your own suffering.
Examples: not allowing someone into your lane when you’re mad about traffic; talking crap about someone when you feel they have betrayed you; hitting someone when you’re upset.
Values breached: abundance, acceptance, giving, love.
GREED – Neediness through seeking of external validation, often demonstrated by attachment to possessions. You’ll find yourself allowing others to be harmed in order to externally benefit yourself, such as sleeping with someone on false pretences. Greed stems from being unable to find internal satisfaction without external rewards. Like all of these sins, it is based on core insecurity (ironically, this is exactly what valued-living cures).
Examples: selling something you know is low quality; hiding something from others that you would feel forced to share if they knew; keeping secrets; hoarding possessions and money.
Values breached: presence, compassion, empathy, abundance, acceptance.
SLOTH – Most often demonstrated as procrastination and avoidance of doing what is right for you. Laziness is a common way of describing it. The short-term focus on being comfortable right now, rather than creating a long term rewarding life, leads to constant instant-gratification decision-making, which is the cause of most peoples’ long-term suffering.
Examples: putting of what is important; sleeping too much; bingeing on television and other unproductive time-wasters.
Values breached: courage, determination, decisiveness, leadership.
PRIDE – An unhealthy and insecure attachment to an externally-validated identity. Proud people often take credit for good luck instead of being grateful for their privileges. Pride creates a belief that you are better or worse than other people, as an entire person, and facilitates a constant comparison with others. You’ll find you are not able to enjoy situations unless you ‘win’, and you’ve lost joy in the process of living in the moment. Life for proud people tends to only exist briefly, when achievements occur, and the rest of your time is spent just worrying about the next win.
Examples: feeling attached to identity (e.g. “I am the Nice Guy”); avoiding things you feel you won’t be good at; getting upset when someone challenges your beliefs.
Values breached: gratitude, honesty, presence, patience.
ENVY – The toxic and cowardly state caused primarily by being attached to external measures of self-worth. Envy is the process of attributing excuses to your failure to live by values, by claiming others have advantages over you, so that you can relieve the guilt of not taking courageous action yourself. Through feeling entitled to rewards without requiring effort or having to endure discomfort, you’ll blame others for taking away opportunities you believe are yours by right.
Examples: blaming others for your negative mood; coming up with reasons why you can’t succeed the others do (e.g. “They are naturally charismatic, I can’t do that”); disliking people because they are successful.
Values breached: honesty, responsibility, courage, passion.
LUST – Simply put, lust is about wanting to GET; having an unhealthy attachment to external rewards. If you feel entitled to receive external pleasures without having to earn them, and you are focused on instant gratification, this is probably an apt translation of lust. The entitlement leads to a lack of restraint and patience – you’ll start bulldozing your way to gratification rather than enjoying the process of getting there. Then you’ll feel resentment when rewards are withheld.
Examples: lying to get what you want; manipulating others into doing things for you; forcing someone to give something to you by guilt-tripping them.
Values breached: giving, respect, gratitude, presence.
GLUTTONY – Through an excess of external comfort sources, wasting resources, and an imbalanced use of fuel, you become a glutton. Your neediness drives a desire to consume as much as possible, most likely to relieve pangs of perceived scarcity. By deriving comfort from consumption you become locked into a cycle of bingeing and avoidance of pain.
Examples: pigging out on high-sugar foods; hoarding; watching the entire Game of Thrones series without break (actually, I’m OK with this one).
Values breached: respect, presence, discipline, abundance.
You can always go back to living by your values, there is no ‘failure’. When you commit one of the value sins, it means that you simply went off track. Your values are patiently waiting for you to re-join them. No matter how long you’ve been off track, all you have to do is live by your values in a single moment and everything is OK again!
I once worked with a gang member who had consistently harmed people for over 20 years. Then one day he started being honest, caring and productive. As soon as he started doing that he felt an immediate boost in self-worth. The past no longer mattered to his measurement of self. Valued-living is what you are doing RIGHT NOW, and to quote Metallica; nothing else matters.
The key to redeeming yourself after sinning is to take action. Rather than trying to ‘not do’ something, identify which value has been breached and create an action to live by it. Trying to not sin gives you no direction and nothing to work with. Aim to eliminate the sin through positive action instead, e.g. ask yourself “What could I do to be more honest today?” and follow through on the answer.
You’re human, which means that you will always have times where you breach your values. So forget about being perfect. It’s about getting back on the horse and reducing the amount of time you wallow in sin. You can’t undo your past errors but you can make up for them. Rather than wishing for a different past, create a rewarding or reparative present action.
Self-honesty and acceptance are the key elements to managing value-breaches. First admit you did it, then accept it happened – only then will you be able to do something to get back on track.
Vulnerability is _________?
Did you fill in the blank with a positive or negative word? Statistically most of you chose a negative word. Why? Why is being vulnerable considered negative? A weakness to be shamed and feared?
If you’re like me, even mentioning the word makes you shudder and scowl.
Vulnerable: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded, open to attack or damage, assailable
Ah! No wonder we are shivering in our stilettos! What a terrible and scary definition. Well, I’ve had enough of that… let’s take “vulnerable” back!
The way I see it, being vulnerable is amazing. It is necessary to live a joyous, spectacular and full life. Every day I try to become more vulnerable.
As written in Daring Greatly, “love is an intense form of vulnerability.” So how can we be open to love if we are not capable of being vulnerable?
We are not the only ones talking about vulnerability. A TED Talk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability” had over 17 million views. 17 million!!! Brene Brown has amassed a wealth of knowledge and research on the subject, and I encourage you to reflect on her words of wisdom.
Explore being vulnerable and remember to:
Ways to practice being vulnerable:
By Dick Sutphen
“There is no vitality to the past except the life our minds give to it. The only thing the past is good for is to keep us stuck in the old patterns from which we’re trying to liberate ourselves. Our personal histories are the parts of our lives which hold us where we are,” says Swami Chetanananda in “Choose To Be Happy.”
If we cannot expand our awareness beyond our past — beyond our limitations — how can we possibly hope to grow? And do not compare the present to a past that is over and done, or you are courting real unhappiness.
People will tell you to learn from the past. Good advice. But learning what you “don’t want” will not support you for long. “Don’t want” doesn’t work. What do you want?
“Mind lives in the past because it lives in knowledge,” says Osho in “Guida Spirituale.” “Knowledge means that which you have known, understood, learned. And existence is now and mind is then; existence is here and mind is always there. Mind looks backwards; it is like a rear-view mirror. If you are backing your car the rear-view mirror is okay, but if you are going forward then it is dangerous to go on looking in the rear-view mirror. And if you become fixated on the rear-view mirror you are bound for an accident. You are in great danger, you are being suicidal. Life always moves forwards; it has no possibility of going backwards.”
Some counselors would have you searching your past for understanding to help you heal your stresses and dramas. But according to Swami Chetanananda. “All you’ll find in tension is more tension. Believe me, if you insist on standing in and sifting through garbage, the only thing you’re going to become is dirty at best and ill at worst. Reliving stress does not relieve stress; obsession with trauma can only traumatize.”
As a final thought, consider that your “ego” is a result of the past. So to give up ego means to give up your history. Your whole history. All that you have been up until this moment in time. But if you would drop your ego, you would be free of the past. This is not something you do one time and have it handled. Releasing the past has to be done regularly, otherwise it will accumulate. Every moment, the present turns into the past, so if you continue to collect, a new ego will arise.
Do not live in the past. Do not live for the future. Live in the timeless NOW. Easier said than done, but certainly a worthy goal.
In honor of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s recent passing, here is a clip about “quantum moments” from his movie, The Shift.
For closeness: travel. No, I don’t mean to go to take a road trip or to fly away to some exotic place. But there are ways to go deeper into a relationship –- like traveling. And there are things we can do to help a relationship really go somewhere. Let me explain.
Inmate Mitchell King had a visitor — his wife. King was serving a six-year jail term in Auckland, New Zealand for armed robbery. But his wife didn’t want to be away from him for that long. So they held hands. She wanted them to always stick together – through it all. Hand in hand, forever joined. And they did stick together. She had rubbed her palms with Super Glue.
Their new-found closeness was short-lived. And their separation painful. (I suggest we put the Super Glue idea on a short list of “THINGS NOT TO DO” when we want to grow closer.)
But if you want a deeper connection with someone you care about, if you want relationships that are more intimate, more meaningful and longer-lasting, then try this simple technique. Just remember the word “TRAVEL.”
T is for TRUST. If we’re seeking a glue to cement us to another, then trust is that bond. A relationship will go nowhere without it.
R is for RESPECT. Some people talk about how much they have always respected their cherished friends and family at a funeral. But why wait? People want to know that we hold them in high regard. It’s about valuing others and letting them know you respect them.
A is for AFFECTION. Sometimes affection means love. Sometimes it means a touch. Or a hug. Always it means kindness.
V is for VULNERABILITY. Though we may feel afraid to let another too close, no relationship will go anywhere without taking a risk. Like entrepreneur Jim Rohn says, “The walls we build around us to keep out the sadness also keep out the joy.” And the love.
E is for EMOTIONAL INTIMACY. It about learning to be open. Learning to communicate freely. The quality of relationships we make are largely determined by how openly we communicate.
L is for LAUGHTER. Victor Borge got it right when he said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” It’s also the most enjoyable.
So for a relationship that can really go somewhere, just remember the word “TRAVEL.” Then enjoy the trip.
Of course, there are more than ten tips about parenting! But an idea came to me that perhaps I could re-fashion the Bible’s Ten Commandments to apply to parents. As a disclaimer–I am not endorsing one religion or religious beliefs or texts over any other religions, texts, beliefs or behavior. I do hope, though, that you find these tips helpful.
1. Thou shalt not express favor or compare other people’s children to your own. (Don’t make your child feel rejected or unlovable.)
2. Thou shalt not take or display more images or speak more favorably of one of your children’s accomplishments over the others. (Love and accept each child for who he or she is—and isn’t.)
3. Thou shalt not swear or say cruel words or do hurtful acts to your children. (Do not use violence, sarcasm, picking or criticism. Words can—and do—hurt. These forms of communication are love-killers.)
4. Remember the importance of family fun. (Children of all ages thrive on the rituals of fun family time—as well as fun time with friends or alone. All work and no play can squash creativity and independence, and it can create resentment and loneliness.)
5. Honor, foster, and support each child’s interests and abilities—especially if they do not “fit” into the family style of history. (Celebrate each child—and do not expect your child to be your chance to please YOUR parents.)
6. Thou shalt not kill your child’s childhood or development by making your child your best buddy or your comrade against your ex or by not allowing them to learn from mistakes. (Recruiting children emotionally is a person-killer. Keep boundaries between your love life and your parenting role. Learn the balance between protecting your children and allowing them to learn from their mistakes.)
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Affairs can lead to the breakup or erosion of a loving family life. Seek professional help immediately when you are unhappy in your relationship.)
8. Thou shalt not steal from your child’s development by becoming a workaholic. (Balancing working and being physically and emotionally available is needed to establish and maintain “family flow” of sharing time with each parent and participating in family responsibilities for age-appropriate chores.)
9. Thou shalt not accuse, blame, ignore or criticize your children without knowing the facts. (Intuitive parents learn to communicate by both asking “What’s wrong/What happened?” and telling “What’s concerning you about them.” The Ask and Tell approach works well with partners/spouses, too!)
10. Thou shalt not covet other people’s life styles because it fills the house with shame, resentment, and excuse-making. (Aiming to improve and set goals is good, but complaining creates a victim identity and robs children of the spirit of contribution to the community and world.)
We get to set our own goals in life. How beautiful is that? There is great power in realizing our own ability to challenge ourselves and set our GPS toward our loves and talents. And, even more beautiful still is that when we meet our goals, we get to re-calibrate them, and raise the bar to an even more exciting level.
In addition to goal-setting is establishing a personal set point. A set point is that place where you’d like to maintain, stabilize, and stay, as it relates to key areas in your life. Set points are important because they provide structure—something to aim for and stay committed to for future success. Consider your set point a personally satisfying, quantifiable objective you wish to maintain.
Set points help you step up to your next level, aim for and reach your life dreams and goals, uphold your “happiness level” for life. They are your sustainable happy place. Your set point may (will) change and evolve as chapters in your life change. But that’s the beauty of being able to set, reach, and recalibrate your own goals.
Establish a set point for these four areas:
• Weight: Know at what weight (range) you feel good, healthy, and fit. Work with a physician, and as necessary, explore working with a dietitian, a fitness expert, and/or use your FitBit or My Fitness Pal app to stay consistent. Consistency, habit, and discipline are key core competencies here.
• Work/Career: Know what measurable objectives you need to reach to be successful, to get the promotion, to seal the deal, to perform at peak levels, to get high marks on your evaluations, to set yourself up for future success. Drive, desire, and organization will help you with this set point.
• Financial: Know where you’d like to be financially to live the lifestyle that makes you feel happy, comfortable, fulfilled. Be diligent about paying off debt, staying debt free going forward, and building a savings for your dreams. Discipline, perseverance, and patience will be critical core competencies to help you here.
• Personal: Know who you’d like to impact, what your future self looks/acts like, what organization you can assist to make this world a better place, what actions will build a fit, healthy, fun life. That is living the Total Package Lifestyle! Introspection, desire, and passion will be key here.
Once you know your set points in these four areas, write action steps for each, to keep you steady and on track every day. Keep your set points your reality by staying focused on them, and working diligently towards maintaining these core goals. Notice the personal bliss you begin to feel as you achieve your set points. Now that’s a beautiful thing! #TotalPackageLifestyle
By Talya Flowers
Our values often shape who we are, how we view life, and our expectations and standards that we have of ourselves and others. I love and enjoy people because we both can learn something from one another. I value an amazing sale because material items come and go. I’m not one who pinches pennies, but I do like to save. So, finding an item that I really like that’s marked down makes me feel like I am being wise with my money, especially when it frees me up financially to be a blessing to others. Others may value love, success, trust, family, and/or careers. Either way, what we value speaks highly of how committed we are to a particular thing or person.
In the past, I valued other people above myself and would go above and beyond to make sure someone else was comfortable and happy because I believed the unconscious lie that humility was a true mark of beauty. When I denied myself, I subconsciously told myself that others’ needs were more important. And that their opinions thoughts and desires were more valuable than mine. I was sending myself the message that I should go above and beyond for other people but not for myself because that would be considered stingy and selfish.
I watched “What are your values?” by motivational speaker Kenny Graham and I was shocked when he asked “What do you value about yourself?” I have really never asked myself that question. I was so caught up in valuing other people that I forgot that I, too, am valuable. I am more than enough. I deserve the best. I am the best. I am a jade emerald. And that’s not in a conceited or arrogant way; it is a certainty, a fact that cannot be compromised.
When I know my value, I stop running toward things that hinder my success or my self-respect. I stop allowing people to hurt, use, or abuse me. I become more selective of the people that I allow into my inner sanctum. I watch and study their life principles. I compare them to mine and then I either promote or demote. I no longer have time to be telling people what they should be doing because I value myself. I am no longer going to pour water into an empty bucket.
Graham asks the question “what do you value about yourself?” in his video. I am going to take his question further and ask “do you “know” your value?” Not by the worlds standards, but by Gods standards. What does it mean to know? It means to be certain, to be firm, to be steady, to be assured, to be secured, and to be anchored. What does it mean to “value?” It means to protect, to cherish, to embrace, to accept, to admire, to love, to respect, and to invest.
Do you know your value? That’s the key to winning in life. Realize that you are a priceless, precious treasure that the maker has created in his image. Despite what anyone says or does to you in the present, the maker loves you and considers you valuable. Despite what may have happened in your past, the maker is the anchor which makes all things new and gives us assurance that we can begin again. Know who you are in Christ and give from a place of love. And that my friend can never be taken by anyone. Here are my suggestions for knowing your value:
He is the orchestrator of your value and he never changes. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. Allow his stability to become yours.
When you and I exercise, we have more energy to get all of our tasks completed. More energy means that we annihilate our to-do list, which makes us feel much more confident and valuable.
Exercising and eating healthy are two of the most important aspects of our life. Eating healthy gives us more fuel for our day. Instead of feeling tired and fatigued, we feel energized and ready to take on the world which increases your value in yourself.
Think and say: “I am valuable, I am love, I am loved, I am more than enough, I am special.” How can anyone know your value, if you don’t believe it for yourself?
If you could see me writing this, I am shouting “LOVE YOURSELF.” You have to love you first before loving anyone else. You have to show yourself that you love all of you. And then tell yourself as well.
We love over committing our schedules and helping everyone else but ourselves. Value yourself enough to keep the commitments that you’ve made to yourself.
By Anisha Joshi
Confidence – a personality trait that each one of us aspires to have, but very few people actually possess. Most of the people develop their confidence with the passing time because they need to be confident in every task they do and thought they have. You want to buy/sell the shares of a particular company; you want to propose someone; you want to give the perfect presentation – it all requires the confidence. Wearing branded clothes or driving a fancy car can’t make you feel confident. Confidence is the attitude; it’s all about how you feel about yourself. People will criticize you for various reasons, and not everyone will support you. But you need to know that you have the power within you to boost your confidence with these 11 ways:
Your first impression is the last impression. Hence, your clothes say a lot about you – even before you open your mouth to speak. It is important to wear clean & comfortable clothes. This will allow you to take away your attention from your own appearance – which can be a major distraction. As a result, you will be able to focus on your discussions and will appear confident. When you are totally involved in doing something, low self-esteem vanishes and your confidence is boosted.
Take a look at the videos of all successful public speakers. Notice them and their gestures. They all are comfortable while speaking and show an outstanding confidence. Their gestures, facial expressions, straight posture, and everything else depicts their confidence. Start with sitting/standing with your spine erect. Gradually, work on your gestures and facial expressions. You, too, can do it.
Be yourself. Because each of us is unique. You look the best when you are “you.” It is wrong to compare yourself because “you can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.” Being yourself, you will realize you are special and unique. When you realize you are special, you automatically become confident. Love yourself for who you are
Your passion is a creative action that you love doing. When you are spending time on your passion you “feel complete.” This feeling makes you confident. You enjoy your own company, you appreciate your existence, and you do have a reason to be confident.
The reason why most people don’t feel confident is because of their physical appearance and ailments. Everybody wants a beautiful and healthy body, and it is a major factor in boosting your confidence. Hang a photo of the super star, like whom you aspire to be. Seeing her/him everyday will motivate you to wake up a bit earlier and work upon your body. Take care!!
The thoughts and affirmations in which you tell yourself hold the highest importance. So, instead of saying “I can’t do it,” say ” I will give my 100% and I will do my best.” Instead of feeling “Life is of no use,” say “Life can be made amazing , I too can be happy, because there are many people who are happy living an amazing life. I need to discover my dream and paint my own life.” There is so much to say about being positive, but the whole crux is: Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.
You become like the people around you. Surrounding yourself with confident people makes you feel that attitude for being confident. You don’t need an specific amount of bank balance, or a certain quality of education, or a branded outfit to boost your confidence. You just need to feel it. Watch people who are confident and learn from them: you will get your piece of inspiration from that group of people around you.
Confidence is all about believing yourself. There are times when all concepts of self-motivation fail, but when someone else counts our “qualities” to us, we feel better. So there must be a few people in life who love us and believe in us. Have such people and treasure them.
We are born. We learn the ways of life. We learn to walk while being toddlers. We learn to eat by ourselves when we are in play group. We learn to read and write in 1st grade. And life keeps on moving – each year we have something to applaud about our own live. But with all the hustle & bustle, and glistening shadows of life, we forget our own achievements. It may be school grades, appreciation certificates, appraisals at office, or we may have helped someone while crossing the road, or be the reason for someone’s smile. There are so many things that can be counted under the list of achievements – materialistic, physical, spiritual, emotional or social level.
A smile is a sure sign of a confident personality. Smile a while. Let it spread a mile. Let it be the reason for another smiles. Very soon it will become your own nature.
Call him God, Angels, Prophet, Energy or anything as per your religious customs. But there is a higher power, which always protects you and has always taken care of you and will continue doing the same. Believe in this higher power is like a backbone to confidence. Anything can fail but a strong faith that someone is there to help you out will always boost your confidence.
Are you confused by yourself sometimes? Do you not understand why you do what you do? In this short video, Dr. Carol Morgan teaches you the concept of “sub-personalities” and how they affect you, your relationships, and your life.
By Talya Flowers
We are all seeking and searching for something.
For some, it is fame, fortune, happiness, a rewarding career, or if your path is similar to mine, a deeper relationship with Christ. Whatever it is, I would argue that above all else, we are searching for love. Once we receive the fame, fortune, happiness, or a rewarding career, then what else? We begin to seek someone with whom we can share our lives with. We want someone who accepts and approves of the life that we have built or are building for ourselves. With that knowledge in mind, consider the following:
Imagine my hypothetical relationship as it unfolds: I become more and more critical of my significant other. By my actions and by my words, I tell him that I don’t like the way he dresses, I don’t like who he hangs out with, I don’t like his family members, I don’t like the way he thinks, I don’t like the career he has chosen, I don’t like the way he cooks, I don’t like the fact that his spiritual life is not on the same level as mine. Would my relationship go very far? Am I fostering an environment for intimacy? Am I displaying Christ?
If I constantly did that to my significant other, I am killing the very core of who he is. I have taken it upon myself to change who he is by demanding that he become more like me. When the problem is not him, it’s me. The scripture tells us candidly that we are made in the image of God. We are not made in the image of one another. I cannot tell someone to change (this is not for abusive relationships. If someone is being abusive, they will have to change to stay in a relationship with you or they will have to move on without you). Giving more of yourself does not eradicate the abuse, tolerance worsens the abuse. I cannot demand, manipulate or control someone to change because abuse is a heart problem, and Christ is the only one with the ability to transform hearts.
So, in the process of lording over someone, I’ve damaged the one person who I’ve claimed to love. Why, when I chose him? I have a choice in the matter. You have a choice in the matter.
Here are my five suggestions for ways to be more accepting:
1. Stop criticizing
Constant criticism coming from someone who claims to love you becomes emotionally draining over time. There is one thing to offer constructive criticism but another to just be criticizing for the sake of criticizing. If someone is making an effort to learn, don’t criticize his or her efforts. If anything, praise them. In your praise, they will be willing go above and beyond for you.
2. Stop judging
Judging is damaging. I’ll say it again, judging someone is damaging. Judging someone for who they are and the choices that they’ve made is detrimental to the relationship. Why destroy something that you are trying to build by judging another person, unless you know, of course, that you won’t be sticking around to heal their emotional wounds.
3. Allow growth
Acceptance/growing together is a process because it does not happen overnight. I once had an acquaintance tell me that his mom and dad could read each other thoughts. He was expecting/demanding that in his present relationship. Slow your role; couples do no wake up and start reading each other’s minds. That requires time, effort and vulnerability—none of which he was giving in his relationship.
4. Be realistic
Everything in life is a choice, choose wisely. The more you are able to understand someone for who they were in the past and who they are in the present; you’ll be able to learn and to understand their behaviors and attitudes. Time is your friend. Be patient, be gentle and most of all take your time.
5. Be open
Communication is the glue that keeps couples together. Intimacy is formed by communication. Being verbally demanding, manipulative or controlling stifles all forms of security. Do not get in a relationship if you are going to use your words, on your spouse, as a punching bag. Do not get into a relationship where the person treats people poorly but worships the ground you walk on. Everyone, from the janitor to the president, deserves respect and to be treated kindly.
Acceptance forms the foundation for love, for without it, all relationships will fail. Christ accepts and loves us just as we are. Then he begins to shape and mold us into his image after we begin to see the beauty of giving our lives to him. Do the same for your significant other. Allow them to fly and to grow into who God called them to be before you start berating and belittling them for who they can never be. Luckily, we can change by making a choice. It just depends on the path chosen. if you are searching to find love: look within. If you’re already in a relationship, instead of criticizing and condemning the person you chose to be in a relationship with why not take the time to grow together?
Always remember that no matter what, you are more than enough not because of who you are but because of whose you are.