Look at Your Partner Through Rose-Colored Glasses (Seriously)

LOOK AT YOUR PARTNER THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES (SERIOUSLY)

Sanaa Hyder

When you started dating your partner, you probably had glowing things to say about them. You noticed every gesture (flowers for no reason!) and every sweet compliment. Fast forward a few years, you both may have collected hurtful emotional bumps and bruises along the way, making it hard to focus on the good things. It’s easy to fall into a rut and imagine that your partner doesn’t care, even if they still do. Does this negative perspective hurt a relationship? Let’s take a look at what the research says.

Dr. Gottman defines the negative perspective as an overriding sense of negative regard, where even neutral or positive actions from your partner are skewed in your mind to be perceived as negative. This often manifests itself in feelings of loneliness, powerlessness, and eventually one or both partners distancing themselves from each other. When your feelings are predominantly negative, every action, bid for attention, joke, or mistake can be interpreted through this new negative lense – whether or not it deserves to be seen that way.

If you find yourself constantly questioning your partner’s intentions, not giving them the benefit of the doubt, you may be experiencing the result of weeks or months of being in the negative perspective.

Dr. Gottman suggests that it’s never too late to reinvigorate your relationship with positive feelings for one another. This requires a deliberate effort to think about your partner in a more favorable light. Successful couples create a culture of goodwill in their relationship and purposefully strive to see each other through rose-colored glasses.

But what does positivity in a relationship actually look like? Here are some ideas for how to start thinking the best of your partner.

“I love it when…”
Try starting your sentences (even complaints) with “I love it when.” For instance, instead of “Why haven’t we gone on a date recently?” try this: “I love it when we go out together. Remember when we went to that restaurant that night? I had so much fun. Let’s do that again!”

Write down your appreciations
Try making a list of all the small things you notice your partner do or say. Dr. Gottman encourages couples to catch their partner doing something right. Start in the morning and continue through the evening as if you’re tracking their good habits. For instance: made coffee, poured my cereal, called me in the afternoon, paid the bill after I forgot.

An awareness of these small moments builds a habit of mind of seeing your partner in a positive way. When it is time to voice your appreciation, it will be easier to recall one moment out of many. Of course, they may also be negative moments, but try to actively engage your mind in remembering the good ones.

Build up your partner
Find moments to tell your partner about how amazing, brave, and sexy a certain behavior has been. Here are some examples.

Did they collect old clothing for donation? “Babe, you’re so thoughtful and giving  – not just to this family!” or, “Thanks for coming out shopping with me on Wednesday, even though it was boring for you, I’m glad you came.”

Your attitude is your responsibility. You have the opportunity to adjust the narrative you want to tell yourself about the relationship. This narrative is important because it affects the intensity of your arguments, and ultimately your long term-success as a couple.

Now, after doing these exercises, it becomes easier to state your complaint or positive need, because you have a perspective of your partner which may be more akin to the perspective they hold of themselves.

For instance, when you are in the positive perspective, you are more inclined to recall that you are asking someone for whom you’ve built up regard and love. Within the context of appreciating your partner’s efforts all day, it feels easier to to approach your best friend with your needs from a place of warmth and affection.

If you were not paying attention to your partner’s actions all day, your request might gloss over their good behavior. Your partner may think you haven’t noticed their efforts at being caring and attentive. Unknowingly, you create a culture of negativity. So, paying attention matters. Sound like a lot to keep in mind? Maybe at first, but remember that the Gottman motto is “small things often”  -  this includes noticing the small things and appreciating them.

To build a culture of good feelings in your home and in your relationship, you have to start taking responsibility for your mindset. Where the mind goes, words and actions will follow.

How to Apologize and Say Sorry to a Lover

HOW TO APOLOGIZE AND SAY SORRY TO A LOVER

Team Lovepanky

Saying you’re sorry is easy, but learning to apologize the right way with these 8 essentials and 3 ways can save your love and bring both of you closer!

Flowers and cards can say, “I’m sorry” but alone, they just don’t cut it when you are trying to give a sincere apology to the person you love.

When we honestly apologize to someone, it is because we want forgiveness.

We want to be let off the hook for whatever wrongdoing we’ve done, or hurt we’ve caused.

And you can’t always receive the forgiveness you seek when you simply flop down a bouquet with a generic thank-you card.

Apologies take effort, and you should take the time to formulate a genuine apology with the following eight steps.

The 8 essential steps of apologizing to a lover

#1 Find out what exactly happened. Don’t guess what the issue is, ask your boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse to clearly tell you what you said or did to hurt them.

#2 If you are at fault in the situation, then you should take responsibility for your actions.

Placing the blame elsewhere is immature and will set you back further, possibly risking your relationship.

#3 You should prepare your apology, taking into account what you want to say and how you want to say it. Also, you should keep the delivery of your apology, such as the time and place, in mind.

#4 Say sorry sincerely. If you’re not genuine, the apology will definitely fail and you will be back to square one.

#5 Be grateful and thank the person for listening to you. Depending on what you’ve done, that could be more difficult than you understand.

#6 Don’t assume you will be excused, and instead ask for forgiveness.

#7 Remember to be patient. Sometimes, accepting an apology can take time, and your partner needs space to think about what comes next.

#8 Follow through on your word. If, in your apology, you agree to do something, or stop doing something, make sure you honor those promises.

Now, while these are the fundamental steps to creating a meaningful apology, you also need to take into consideration the differing degrees of an apology.

While a modest sorry might be acceptable if you forgot to call, that won’t fly if you’ve done something severely untrustworthy like break an important vow.

Depending on the amount of hurt you’ve caused, and the nature of the situation, you can apply the eight essential steps of apologizing to one of these three different degrees of apologies.

The 3 differing degrees of apologies

#1 The Simple Apology

The first degree of apology is for those small things that we could just let pass by without any apology at all.

But, if you truly love your partner, you will want to acknowledge even the smallest wrongdoing, and give a short but sweet apology to let them know you care. Your partner will be thankful that you are concerned with all of their wants and needs, and have taken the time to address why they are upset.

For example, my boyfriend’s work involves being contracted out to many different fundraising, and promotion events, that often run late into the night. I attend many of these events, but when I don’t, I simply ask him to send me a quick message so I know approximately what time he will be home.

If I don’t get a text, I wake up well into the night freaked out, worrying that something bad has happened. My anxiety is probably the result of losing too many people to road accidents, but it is still something I need his help with soothing, when he is going to be working late.

One night he forgot to text me, and I sat up until 3:30 am trying to contact him. His phone died, and he didn’t think to send a message from a friend’s phone. I was upset, all I needed was a quick update so I didn’t need to worry.

When he got home and I confronted him about the situation. He was defensive at first, and didn’t seem to think he had done anything wrong. After I explained where my anxiety came from, he offered the perfect simple apology.

He kissed my forehead, hugged me and said, “I’m sorry that I worried you. Next time if my battery dies I will borrow someone’s phone and let you know.”

Short and simple, and yet effective. If he had chosen to shrug it off instead of apologizing, I most likely would have harbored secret resentment over that. It was something little, yes, but it still mattered to me.

#2 The Nice Gesture Apology

No one is perfect, and sometimes, even the most organized person can forget an important date, event, or responsibility.

I’m not a freak over birthdays but a nice good morning birthday kiss, and tea in bed would be nice. But this year, my boyfriend forgot, and all I got was a rushed goodbye kiss, and no mention to expect anything fun later that day.

Thanks to social media, my boyfriend realized his blunder mid-day and called me, and he promised to make it up to me. He organized a nice gesture apology in the form of a dozen heart balloons *I’m not really one for roses*, and a delicious birthday cake.

A good gesture apology doesn’t need to be too big, but it can’t be too small either. It should be just enough to let your partner know you are truly sorry.

#3 The Wholehearted Apology

The third degree of apology is for those of us that have really messed something up big time. This apology isn’t for forgetting to call, or mixing up a birthday. It is in response to something that could cause serious relationship turmoil.

The wholehearted apology is somewhat less concerned with what you do, or what gifts you bear, and more about what you say, and how you follow up.

Imagine you have done something you cannot take back, and many consider a deal breaker – you’ve cheated on your partner.

No amounts of flowers or chocolates are going to offer your partner the apology they need if monogamy was something you promised each other in your relationship.

The wholehearted apology thus should begin with some deep reflection on why you are in this situation in the first place, and where to go next. Even if you’ve done something so big that it might mean the end of your relationship, you still need to offer a well thought-out, wholehearted apology.

You need to think of exactly what it is that you want to say, and how you want to say it. You need to be honest, and insightful. Don’t say things that are typical, and what your partner is expecting. Say the truth, even if it sucks.

Wholehearted apologies are the hardest, because sometimes, you won’t be forgiven. The best that you can do is to offer your sincere regret, uphold the promises you made after the apology, and try to learn from your mistakes.

Apologizing in love

While these essential steps, and different degrees of “I’m sorry” can help you out if you’ve made a mistake in love and need to apologize, they are not fail-proof.

Not all things can be forgiven. If you’ve done something truly menacing or cruel that could likely have a lasting impact on a relationship, regardless if an apology is given or not, forgiveness might be hard to come by.

It’s best to steer clear of such a situation from the beginning, and instead be honest and trustworthy throughout your relationship. Then you won’t need to do so much apologizing.So the next time you’ve fumbled in love and want to apologize and say sorry, in a small or big way, keep these 8 essential steps and 3 different kinds of apologies in mind. And for your relationship’s sake, do the right thing!

The Art of Letting Go (to Heal a Broken Heart)

THE ART OF LETTING GO (TO HEAL A BROKEN HEART)

Angel Chernoff

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”
― Dorothy Allison

I loved him like a brother, and he treated me as such. He told me I was a genius and that the world needed to hear my music. He was a ball of passion, and when he spoke it always felt like a battle cry to fight for a better life. I was working as a teacher, spending my summers with struggling artists who gave me that energy and community I craved. When I met him in Toronto, I felt like I found new family in my own hometown.

His family wasn’t so abundant—his parents struggled with addiction and were trying to take the earnings he made producing music. It was killing his spirit, and I could sense it. So without consulting my parents, I invited him to live with me. He was the brother I never had.

We got matching tattoos and promised each other that there would always be two of everything. We hustled the music, threw shoes, networked, and talked about what we could do artistically and for the scene in the city. The summer had ended and now I was back to grinding the 8-5 shift. It was killing my soul to be working knowing there was so much to create. Then he came to me with an opportunity that changed my life forever.

It was a songwriting deal, worth $120,000, to write 10 songs for an unknown artist who apparently had major connections. We’d get paid to write the songs, and with that money we could be full-time artists. Without much thought, due diligence or reflection, I took a leave of absence from work, and we moved into a rental property that I purchased as a responsible adult. Then we got straight to creating.

They Never Did

He explained the money would come soon, but weeks went by with no word. Weeks turned to months, and with no income, I was quickly accumulating debt by swiping credit cards, and negotiating a bigger line of credit. I wasn’t worried, when the money came in, it would wipe the debt clean, and we’d have plenty to play with.

He told me about all the friends that owed him money, and how we could start collecting to cover the bills, but he wasn’t finding much luck. As the months went on, I began to ask him more questions, and he became more and more defensive. One day he went out of town to collect some money from a family member. A mutual friend disclosed to me that he had been asking people to lend him money, and that in fact, no one owed him anything. I called him to clarify this, and he immediately hung up, and I never heard from him again.

He literally left his belongings in the apartment and never came back for anything. Clothes, a computer, keepsakes, it was as if he fell off the face of the earth. I was confused, devastated, and heartbroken. I had never had my heart broken by a friend before; it was a foreign kind of betrayal I couldn’t wrap my head around. Beyond the betrayal was the slow sinking reality that I was in deep trouble with my finances. I had accumulated over $80,000 in debt and had no way to pay it off. It turns out the songwriting deal was never real—he had forged documents, changed names, and was planning on borrowing money from others to cover it. When that didn’t work, he ran out of options and ran away.

That was seven years ago. The years that  followed were the hardest years of my life. I fell into deep despair and turned to NyQuil and muscle relaxers to numb the pain. I blamed the world and everyone around me for not warning me of his sleazy ways. I stayed in bed for weeks, and ate very little, hoping the cavalry would come to save the day.

They never did.

A Challenging Time

During the worst moments, I thought the worst thoughts about him. How dare he do this to me, after I let him in my home, and allowed him to live with me for a year rent-free. I was nothing but amazing to him! I treated him like a brother! And this is what I got in return?

But I learned to let it go, gradually.

Of course, I didn’t let it go because I thought what he did was OK. I let it go because I could not afford to carry such a heavy burden of resentment and regret with me. If I was ever going to get myself out of the mess I was in, I needed less baggage…

I needed a different mindset.

He wasn’t evil, he was scared. He bit off more than he could chew, and instead of facing the consequences of his actions, he ran away. All of that was out of my control. And for me to maintain my sanity I had to focus on what was in my control.

What was always in my control was my thinking and expectations. I expected him to be honest with me, because I was honest with him. But that’s not how things work. As I write this story, I am at a friend’s house in Austin, TX. I can hear the neighbour’s dog barking really loud. If I went over and stuck my hand through the fence, that dog would probably bite me. I can’t assume or expect him not to, just because I don’t plan to bite him. Dogs do what dogs do. Scared people do what scared people do.

So I forgave him, little by little, and began taking more responsibility for what happened. It was hard work. But doing so helped me let go of the resentment and regrets that were holding me back

Truth be told, it’s easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves, and cast ourselves as the victims in life. And it’s not only easy, it’s quick and convenient too. It gives us an immediate opportunity to feel connected and significant. We connect with ourselves because we feel like no one else understands what we are going through (as if I was the first guy to ever be betrayed by a friend). It also gives us a subtle high of significance, because we start to convince ourselves that life is conspiring only against us, as we question what we did to deserve its wrath.

This quick fix doesn’t last though, and what accompanies it is a long and drawn out feeling of powerlessness. We have no power because we’ve blamed everyone and everything except ourselves. Thus, for me to find power in my situation, I had to take some of the responsibility, because only in those areas would I find the power to improve my circumstances.

Again, it took plenty of practice, but I gradually became more mindful of my expectations, and instead of kicking myself (with my 20/20 hindsight) for all the danger signs that were right in front of me, I decided to extract the wisdom from my past experience. I promised myself I would use that wisdom until I was glad I went through such a challenging time.

I Am Cavalry

Over time, my broken heart healed, I got stronger, I got back on my feet and spent the next four years getting myself out of the hole. Through selling my possessions, finding odd gigs here and there, touring, and writing my book Unlearn, I finally got to a $0 bank account—no debt.

And gradually, I began to feel sincere gratitude for the journey I was on, and what I went through to get to where I was.

Figuring out how to go from $80,000 in the hole to $0 also helped me grow from $0 to a bank account with decent savings. My struggling days taught me the value of minimalism. I became a dramatically better judge of character, and looking back I realized how resilient I really was.

I no longer hope for a cavalry, I am the cavalry. I am no longer afraid to lose because with loss comes learning. I don’t question whether I need to trust others, because I know I can trust myself. Challenges and resistance make us stronger, so either we make ourselves uncomfortable so we can grow, or life does it for us.

We Can Choose

Although I’ve now completely forgiven my old friend, and even thanked him for the lessons I’ve learned, it all happened internally. I never made any proclamation or tried to contact him. After the passing of a mutual friend, he tried to reach out, but I didn’t need that energy in my life. I had already let it go, and there was no need to re-introduce it back into my life.

We need to let things go and forgive others, not for their sake, but for ours. We need to rid ourselves of the weight we carry around holding grudges, regrets, and the other burdens that try to pile up. We also need to let go so we can create a space where self-love exists, because most likely we’ll need that space to forgive ourselves, too.

I have indeed forgiven. And I am truly grateful.

Had I not gone through such a heartbreaking experience, I would have never dug deep into myself to write Unlearn. I would have never crossed paths with the amazing Marc & Angel, or read their books. And, most importantly, I would not have grown into the person I am today.

We can’t see into the future, but we can choose how much of our past we deliberately carry with us into today.

We can choose to let go and move forward, one day at a time.

Now, it’s YOUR turn…

I would love to hear from YOU in the comments section.

What do you need to let go of (or forgive), to move forward with your life?

Anything else to share?

Please leave me a comment.

Pursue Your Partner at Every Stage of Marriage

PURSUE YOUR PARTNER AT EVERY STAGE OF MARRIAGE

Hannah Eaton

We met Marcy and Jack during our first group dance lesson. Unlike many of the dating or engaged couples we’d danced with, Marcy and Jack had been at this marriage thing for quite some time. Forty years to be exact. They first started dancing in preparation for their daughter’s wedding.

The wedding came and went, but Marcy and Jack kept returning for dance lessons week after week. With practice, they continued to hone and improve their dance skills as a couple.

And yet, they tapped into something far greater than dance. They began to experience and integrate an idea central to healthy relationships—continual, purposeful dating and practice is not only helpful, but is central to cultivating and maintaining meaningful attunement, connection, and intimacy in romantic relationships. 

While healthy marriages require us to put in this intentional effort, and to pursue one another on a continual basis, many dominant paradigms in our culture tell us otherwise.

Myth: Marriage is a destination

“And they lived happily ever after.” Disney’s multi-billion dollar industry thrives on this idea. The message is spoon fed to us as children, and reverberated throughout our culture. It’s confusing when our own romantic experiences fail to live up to this standard, which they almost always do. 

So we either destroy this idea, feeling disappointed that it’s not our story, or we hold onto it tightly with the hope and dream that we can harness it if we just find the right person. However, the reality is such that even if we find the “right person,” we soon realize that everything is not simply sunshine and roses. Marriage is not a destination. 

Marcy and Jack know this. They know that marriage, like dance, is a continually unfolding journey in which they are active participants, shaping and molding their shared reality. They know that if they take a few months off from dance, and neglect their practice, it will be apparent in the quality of their dance and interactions. 

Maintaining regular practice not only helps keep them connected and attuned as they dance, but it also allows them to reach new heights and depths with one another. Every time we see Jack and Marcy in our group lessons, we are continually impressed by their new moves, gracefulness, and attunement with one another. 

Whether you’re a newlywed, or have been married for forty years like Marcy and Jack, there is immense value in creating and continuing practices that support the ongoing health and connection of your relationship. As John and Julie Gottman explain in their book, Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, “Happily ever after is not by chance. It’s by choice.” It takes work.

Myth: Love should always feel organic in marriage

One of the most common narratives we see in Hollywood movies and TV shows is the journey of a couple meeting, with perhaps some turmoil or conflict early on, and then a quick resolution, finished off with a hopeful closure. 

Perhaps this is because the full picture of marriage is not depicted as being as sexy or exciting as the hot pursuit earlier on, or perhaps it’s assumed that the public doesn’t want to see the reality of married life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Either way, it’s doing our culture a disservice.

A second paradigm is ripping through our culture like wildfire—if you don’t feel the love anymore, then why stick around? As a therapist, I hear it all the time: “We just fell out of love.” While love (the noun) may initially bring two people together, it is love (the verb) that makes it last. 

Love is a choice that you make every morning when you wake up. It’s the decision to choose to cherish your partner, especially when you don’t feel like it. It’s in these times, in particular, that your partner likely needs your love the most. In truly healthy marriages, each partner wakes up in the morning, and makes the decision to purposefully practice and cultivate more love for their spouse. 

Marcy and Jack understand this principle. Forty years into their marriage, they are still intentionally “practicing” and choosing one another to keep that connection alive. Like all couples, there have been ample times when they may not have felt the connection or attunement, but nevertheless chose to be there for one another. 

They are proud of their growth and major improvements as a couple on and off the dance floor, and yet they realize that their “work” is never done. They have signed up for a lifetime commitment of pursuing and practicing the art of loving one another, and one way they do this is by their weekly dance lessons.

Myth: Courtship is only for the early years

A third faulty paradigm I see is the notion that courtship and dating is only for the early years. We date, we flirt, we woo, in effort to court one another. And then we’re all set. We know one another, we’ve tied the knot, and suddenly it’s no longer important to date one another as we did early on. 

It’s become so normal for couples to indicate they have grown apart and fallen out of love. Life got busy and suddenly they’re just living with a roommate. It’s understandable how this can easily happen, and yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Find ways to court and pursue your partner daily. We all want to feel loved and desired, regardless of what stage we are at in our relationship. Of course, the ways in which we like to be pursued may evolve over the years, which is why it’s all the more important to continue to update your Love Maps

Take time to remember how your partner likes to feel loved—surprise them with flowers, or bring them coffee in bed in the morning. Take time to experiment and explore new ways you can flirt with them. It’s in these small moments of connection that our relationships flourish.

At 62 and 65, Marcy and Jack are still intentional about planning and having regular date nights together. They’ve established a ritual of carving out sacred time for one another, and dance together on a weekly basis.

They recognize that dancing and date nights aren’t just for the youth—they’re for couples at all stages of their relationship. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been married. It always feels good to have your partner pursue you. 

In what ways can you pursue your partner on a daily basis? 

In what ways can you choose your partner every morning when you wake up?

In what ways can you date your partner so that, 40 years into marriage, you’re still dancing like Marcy and Jack?


This is part four of a four-part series on relationships and dance. Here are parts onetwo, and three.

Reasons Some Men Mistreat Women

REASONS SOME MEN MISTREAT WOMEN

Sheqoz


He hurts your feelings because he doesn’t care for you

1. You Fell in Love too Fast:

Hi there beautiful, so you’re now having sleepless nights because of the way your boyfriend treated you at the restaurant in front of everybody? You need to wipe off those tears and put a smile on your face. He just doesn’t know your worth because he cannot see it. He probably wanted to spend just one night with you but it turned out to be an ongoing thing because you became too attached.

Women tend to fall in love too quick which is very unfortunate. When a man first asks you on a date, he’s probably thinking of the cookie and nothing more. Once and if he wins the game, he’s on to the next plan. While the woman becomes hooked immediately and starts seeing a future husband. This results to the woman noticing lack of interest which she then define as cold.

2. He’s Seeing Someone else:

Girls love attention and to be cuddled every once in a while. It is something learnt from childhood. The habits we develop as babies stay with us for a lifetime. We just don’t bring them out all the time. I believe there’s a little girl in every grown woman and a little boy inside every man. For this reason, a woman notices very slight shift in the attention she’s used to getting. Unless your boyfriend is going through some emotional issues, the way he treats you should not change suddenly.

You see, men call themselves players but they don’t play it very well. They don’t know how to balance their game. If your boyfriend has someone else, he will treat one of you lowly.

3. He Wants Out:

Yeah sweetie, this one is harsh but it is what it is. I’ve had friends go through this and finally the big shock. Men are known to create cold atmosphere or treat women ill just to find a loop out. If your boyfriend is treating you like trash, baby girl just pack up and leave while you still have your dignity. It can turn ugly and leave bad scars on your little delicate heart. You know he’s not gonna be man enough to tell you straight up.

4. He has no Respect for Women:

I know of men who verbalize their disrespect for all women in general. They do not respect even their own mother for reasons best known to them. The problem is, they still date women. These are the beauties who become victims of violence at the hands of the man they claim to love. It is so awkward that l lack words to describe them. When you’re in a relationship with this type of men, they find ways to make a slave out of you. Sadly, they still physically abuse you whenever they feel like.

5. He’s not all that into you:

I know this is a bitter pill to swallow, but truth will set you free. Have you ever heard women complaining of how badly their men treat them regardless of all the nice things they do for them? If a man is not into you, not even money can buy his love.

Using money to trap a man will only keep him around while he’s filling up his belly with your money. In today’s world especially, there are men out there who stay with a woman for the gain. Once they get everything they want they dash for the door very fast.

Thought for the Soul:

“Others cannot mistreat us, if we deny them the power to do so.”

5 Ways Volunteer Work Can Help Heal Depression

5 WAYS VOLUNTEER WORK CAN HELP HEAL DEPRESSION

Team Lovepanky

Getting through depression is one of the toughest things a person can live through. But there is hope! Find out how doing volunteer work can help!

Depression, like most mental health issues, is surrounded by a stigma that makes it nearly impossible for those who suffer from it to discuss the problem openly and get the help they need, when they need it.

In our culture, admitting you have a mood disorder is more or less like acknowledging you are too weak, frail and lazy to handle what life throws at you. Seeking help kind of makes it worse, because now it is as if you’ve added an “incapable of solving own problems” stamp on your forehead.

But that’s not the whole truth, is it?

If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, you know there is so much more to it.

You’ve seen firsthand the holes this self-feeding fire can burn through a person’s life. You’ve witnessed the person that once was slip through the cracks of what used to be a complete human being and into a puddle of self-loathing and isolation.

How do people battle depression?

Sadly, therapy is not always an option. Medication can fail as well, as it often doesn’t perform as expected, or has side effects that are unbearable.

So how is one supposed to get better? In a society incapable of recognizing the signs of a person who needs help, how can someone find their way to recovery? And it’s also equally important to ask how one can handle it without being judged, being told to suck it up and get a grip, without being shamed into hiding?

How can volunteering be beneficial to those suffering from depression?

An avenue not thoroughly explored, yet one absolutely worthy of the attention is volunteering. Its nature is humble and unassuming, yet combines multiple factors that promise to bring improvement and stability to the mind.

#1 The thrill of the unknown trumps the feeling of worthlessness. Mastering new skills or dusting off old ones does not necessarily cause a revolution the first time around, but it does leave a mark. It marks a place and time of accomplishment- the moment your hands and mind gave birth to something good, something meaningful.

Once this happens, there is no going back. It would be like trying to undo the sunrise. Little by little, or hopefully with full jet power, the feeling of being useful and needed can help keep the depression at bay.

You will recognize your ability to make a difference and that as your efforts grow, so do the results. The value of such a realization is invaluable, as it is one of the first milestones on the road to a depression-free life.

#2 Passion, purpose and direction will stop looking like words from motivational posters. If we lose our way, whether on an actual trip or while going through life, we tend to resolve to these options – going back to a point where we knew where we were, taking chance turns in the hope they will bring us to where we want to be, or reaching out for help. The reality is that these don’t always work out and then we lose ourselves completely.

It’s this feeling of being stuck, this time we spend being stranded, that cripples us mentally and emotionally. We doom ourselves to repeat the same numbing routine until we finally give up and accept it is all there is for us, or worse – it’s all that we deserve.

Breaking the cycle seems pointless, because if you were good for anything else, you would have found out by now and started doing it, right? Wrong. Depression lies. Remember this. Depression lies.

Who knows, maybe you’ll turn out to be an amazing cook, great with animals, really handy and capable of fixing and building things, a researcher with a keen eye for details, an influential public speaker or an organizer able to set up a massive event in the blink of an eye. You really never know until you try, and once you do know – there will be no stopping you.

You will make life fall in line with what you want it to be and continue on a road paved with hard work and fulfillment.

#3 Finding your happiness in the joy of others. Does this sound too cheesy? Too much like a Sunday sermon? Even so, it doesn’t make it any less true.

Humans are hardwired to mimic other humans’ smiles. This, in turn makes our brain send out feel-good signals all over our body, especially the face, which results in, you guessed it, more smiles. Think of it as an eternal loop of positive emotion injections.

You’d be surprised how much smiling goes on while charity happens. And even if you choose a field that does not suggest a lot or any actual human contact, like animal shelters or online databases, this doesn’t mean there won’t be grins involved. Gratitude, appreciation and respect can clearly be detected, despite the method of communication being body language or electronic.

Alleviated stress and reduced anxiety are self-generated doorways to higher confidence and life satisfaction.

In other words, volunteering provides a natural, healthy boost to your mental health, and it has the potential to rekindle your zest for life and help you like who you see in the mirror. The benefits it produces when fighting depression could be compared to those of a long standing meditation habit.

#4 Volunteering builds a solid support group around you. We’ve all heard stories about the bonds formed by soldiers fighting side by side, police officers patrolling in the same car, even wild animals brought together by unusual circumstances.

These bonds are formed from the simple yet concrete-strong foundation of going through the same experience, with the same goal, as part of the same team. Show up and do what you are there to do – this is pretty much all it takes.

Volunteering brings together people from all walks of life, and although these combinations seem random, even chaotic, they work out. The idea that unites them usually tops whatever it is that divides them. This translates to those people being there for each other much more than you’d expect.

#5 It’s the right kind of selfish. It’s commonly accepted that charity work is an act of selflessness, an island of altruism in our otherwise hectic and competitive lives. But reality is never this one-sided.

Don’t get us wrong, all the positive statements people make about it are undeniably true. Dedicating time and efforts to a cause, without expecting any financial or material gain, is as noble as it sounds.

Yet you do gain something, don’t you? Or at least find something you thought you’d lost along the way.

For instance, it gives you a reason to get out there, something constructive to take your mind off whatever it is that is torturing you, self-respect, a feeling of identity, of acceptance and belonging, of being connected, a spark of creativity and thirst for life like you never knew them before.

Bottom line is that volunteering is about rewarding yourself just as much as it is about serving others. Probably even more, because once you start seeing yourself in this new, better light, you will have shrugged off some of the burden depression has you carrying. And this, right there, is what can help you heal.

Volunteering is a two-way street where both, those helping and those being helped, exchange mutually positive feelings. Though you extending your help will be much more obvious, the act of volunteering allows you to receive positive vibes and emotions from those who reward your charity with their gratitude.

Achieving Self-Acceptance: 10 Little Steps for One Big Change

ACHIEVING SELF-ACCEPTANCE: 10 LITTLE STEPS FOR ONE BIG CHANGE

Bella Pope

Accepting yourself for who you are isn’t easy. If you’re struggling to be okay with you, here are the steps you can take to make self-acceptance a reality.

The one thing humans struggle with more than anything else is accepting ourselves for who we are. With the media so focused on who is “perfect” and what qualities make someone “the best,” we tend to pick ourselves apart in deciding if we have those qualities, too, thus shattering our ability to accept ourselves.

I am probably a poster child for needing self-acceptance. When I was younger, I was always told I needed to be better—to be the best. I became self-critical and had SO many insecurity issues *in part, due to a few boyfriends*, despite being a pretty well-rounded person.

Self-acceptance vs self-esteem

A lot of people might think self-acceptance and self-esteem are one in the same, but they’re very different. Although improving your self-acceptance usually increases your self-esteem, they’re not interchangeable. Self-esteem relates more to the qualities other people see in us. Whereas, self-acceptance includes ALL aspects of who we are.

This means someone could be happy with how they’re perceived by other people, but still be miserable on the inside because they don’t accept themselves.

How to be happy with who you are

I got good grades, always worked hard at anything I did, yet I still felt like I wasn’t good enough. I was never happy with who I was. I looked in the mirror daily and picked out my own problems and what I needed to do to fix them.

Little did I know all I needed to fix was how I viewed myself. It won’t be an overnight fix, but if you’re having trouble being happy with who you are and achieving self-acceptance, here are the different steps you can take to get there.

#1 Be positive all the time. You would be thoroughly surprised how changing your overall outlook on the world changes the way you also see yourself. According to Psychology Today, it’s actually possible to rewire your brain to be a more positive person.

Every time you have a negative thought, stop yourself and find something good about the situation. It doesn’t have to even be related to you—just in general.

For example, if you’re stuck in traffic after a long day and get angry because you just want to get home and relax, just think to yourself that you get to sit and do almost nothing while listening to great music on the radio. That sounds pretty relaxing to me!

#2 Whenever you’re being critical of yourself, STOP and say three good things instead. Whenever I mess up on a project, there’s always something negative that comes to mind. I didn’t pay enough attention. I could’ve worked harder. I’m not cut out for this type of work. But there are so many better things to be said, too.

When you start being critical of yourself, stop the negative train of thought and replace it with good things instead. Cutting off that negative criticism of yourself retrains your brain to think positive thoughts about you instead, and it’ll make self-acceptance that much easier.

#3 Determine if there are outside factors. The truth is, a lot of outside influences affect our ability to accept ourselves. A rough upbringing with unsupportive parents, the cruel media expectations, and even an old teacher who told you, you weren’t good enough could all be a factor in your non self-acceptance.

If there is something like that in your life, identify it so you can acknowledge it, forgive whatever it is, and then move on. Realizing that there could be a different reason you are that way will make accepting yourself so much easier.

#4 Make a plan. Honestly, if you’re someone who’s had a problem accepting yourself for a long time, it’s going to be more difficult and take longer for you to start now. Make a plan and stick to it. Make a pact with yourself to wake up every day and be happy with yourself.

This not only gives you a reason to get up and try to accept yourself every day, but it forms in you the habit of doing good things for yourself.

#5 Write down every time you do something great. Either keep a notebook handy or make a section in your notes for all the positive things you do daily. Each time you do something that earns a compliment from someone else or even if you just think, “Wow, I did a good job,” write it down somewhere. Then look at those things every night before bed.

#6 Find support. Chances are, if you don’t accept who you are then you probably don’t have a great support system helping you out. Open up to a few friends and family members and let them know how you’ve been feeling about yourself.

You’ll be surprised how fast they jump on your ship and help you out in any way they can. It’s easier to accept yourself when you know how many other’s around you already accept you.

#7 Get rid of critical people in your life. Negativity and self-criticism are contagious. There are probably people in your life that are critical of others and also critical of themselves—all of which transfers onto you.

If there are people like that in your life, you just need to ditch them. They are in no way adding anything good to your life if they’re inhibiting your ability to accept who you are.

#8 Allow yourself to mess up—then forgive yourself for it. Nobody is perfect. But just because you mess up from time to time doesn’t mean you can’t accept yourself. You won’t be successful with everything you do and that’s okay.

As long as you forgive yourself and move on from the event, self-acceptance will be so much easier. The hardest part of this for someone who has always been self-critical is to actually forgive and forget. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

#9 Stop comparing yourself. You can’t expect to be just like someone else. You are your own person and don’t have the exact same qualities as someone else. Stop comparing who you are to who someone else is, because that only makes it more difficult to accept yourself.

Nobody has all the qualities you possess and you don’t have all the qualities someone else possesses. Even identical twins–who share DNA–aren’t going to be the same on all levels. You have to only compare yourself to YOU.

#10 Seek professional help. If your inability to accept yourself takes over your life to a point where you are becoming depressed or having trouble functioning during the day, you may need help. Sometimes there are underlying reasons to your dislike of yourself, and you need a professional to uncover those reasons before you can begin healing.Self-acceptance is something we all have to strive for every day of our lives. It can be a challenge at times, but it’s the most rewarding feeling of all.

Why Couples Stop Having Sex: The Paradox Of Yes In Saying No

WHY COUPLES STOP HAVING SEX: THE PARADOX OF YES IN SAYING NO

Kyle Benson

Sexual desire is leaving the American bedroom faster than a Kansas tornado will rip apart a house.

Long-term relationships, far too often, experience a dwindling sex life. “Experts” often blame the coals of passion on women; their vanishing libido post-marriage. Their keen focus on raising the little ones while ignoring the man next to them.

The lack of female desire is a profitable industry. Thousands of books, full of “theories” on why women lose desire, fill bookstores. Meanwhile drug companies with pills like Addyi are “closing the gap” with a Viagra like pill for women.

But can a pill really put women in the mood?

I don’t think so.

Whispering desires of sex

The problem is that women (and men) need to feel safe to explore their sexuality. The last thing they need is to feel criticized for saying, “not tonight.” Being human is complex, especially with waves of emotions and desires crashing into our bodies. Being in a relationship is even more complicated; it requires two people to work with each other’s shifting emotional realities, both together and individually.

Far too often, I see a resentful woman with little sexual desire for her partner, married to a resentful man for her lack of desire. For a couple to have sex often, neither partner should meet the other’s “no” with rejection, anger or withdrawal.

Neglecting your partner your love, an emotional connection, or physical contact for saying “no” to sex will make saying “no” easier the next time. Ironically, the partner who was rejected by their partner must offer a positive response back to their partner. This is the paradox of sex in committed relationships.

Let’s Play This Out In Two Scenarios

Meet Chris. Chris loves Lacey. Chris understands that he needs to accept Lacey refusing to have sex tonight, but in his mind that doesn’t make it okay.

A ring does not guarantee sex

He believes the wedding band on her finger means her body is his right. He believes that her refusal denies him the thing he feels entitled to. So Chris tries to convince Lacey again and again, hoping his next attempt will “push her over the edge.”

Unfortunately, the sexual edge he is pushing her over is not a healthy edge. If she has sex with him, it’s because he couldn’t accept her “no.” This leaves her to resent him. While their genitals may be fornicating, the love and connection in both of them is numb.

If Chris can’t convince her to change her mind, he starts to act like a sad puppy. He sulks, whines, and may even bite her with criticism. He might even ignore her altogether.

Whatever happens, his negative response to her “no” is punishing Lacey. The subcontext of his actions are sending the following message: “It’s not okay for you to say no. It’s not okay for you to be your own person with a desire that doesn’t match mine.”

Obviously, none of this is going to put Lacey in the mood.

In fact, it will do the exact opposite. It will escalate the tension and resentment between them. It will reduce her desire to have sex the next time he asks.

Over time, Lacey turns into a sexually dormant women. She is emotionally blocking her erotic nature by the wall of her resentment.

Let’s Explore an Alternative Reality

As Lacey turns down Chris for sex, Chris accepts it. Just like that. He doesn’t hold a grudge or make up a theory that she is cheating on him. He doesn’t view sex as a right or an expectation he deserves when he wants it. Sex, for both partners, is a choice made every single day. It is not a mandatory obligation.

For example:

Lacey: “Not tonight. I feel sick from dinner.”
Chris. “I’m sorry, babe. I hate that feeling. It makes me not want to do anything either. I love you.”
Chris’s caring response is a far cry from the traditional “you always feel sick” complaint.

This caring response is far more effective. Receiving a positive response from Chris for turning down sex does not cause Lacey to say “no” more often in the future. His actions reinforce that he loves Lacey despite not getting what he wants.

His words remind her at her core that their sex life is about making love, not increasing the frequency just so Chris can release his sexual tension. To her, saying “no” lead to Chris making her feel loved.

Sex becomes more frequent in a relationship of loving responses. It cultivates trust and togetherness, leading to more erotic and passionate lovemaking.

Whether we realize it or not, we constantly rate our relationships. We value our partner’s responses in every single exchange we have. We are constantly reinforcing or amending the “story of us.”

According to John Gottman’s research, it has to be okay, even rewarding, for either partner to refuse sex.

Paradoxically, this leads to more sex. Many people find this confusing. I know I did. But relationships are complicated. That’s what makes them beautiful. They require understanding and working together.

For couples who are coping with a decline in a desire, how could your relationship change if you allowed each other to be as you are?

If you make it more than okay for either of you to say, “not tonight,” there will be many more nights when both of you will say “YES.” Female Viagra isn’t needed to fix low desire; just the pill of understanding and empathy.

Three Steps to Help the Rejected Not Feel Rejected

  1. Don’t take the “no” personally. Realize that a lack of a sexual desire for you isn’t all about you. Stresses from work, health issues, and general exhaustion drain us from having the energy to get it on. For most couples, I recommend using an arousal scale. It allows partners to realize that desire can be different among partners at the same time, but doesn’t mean that the relationship is any less passionate. It just means you’re not getting it on tonight.
  2. The Curiosity of Rejection. If you become angry, frustrated, or resent your partner, become curious as to why. Why is being told no to sex once such a big deal to you? Sex and love are full of private meanings. In my early twenties, sexual rejection meant I was inadequate and unworthy of love. Sex was validation for my self-worth, not a mutual act of appreciation and love.
  3. The Mirror of Reflection. If this rejection bothers you, ask yourself how this reflects on you. On your relationship. Recall the happy moments in your relationship to help cope with the feeling of rejection. Realize that your partner doesn’t want to hurt you and is merely telling you how they feel. Their behavior has little to do with you and more to do with them; just as your behavior and feelings have more to do with you than your partner. Reflect, ponder, and get to know yourself better.

Sex requires communication, understanding, and appreciation, even when things are not the way we want. Love is about loving your partner unconditionally, with or without your genitals touching.

Reasons for Failed Relationships

REASONS FOR FAILED RELATIONSHIPS

Sheqoz


Small things grow into bigger problems if left unsolved

If you are in a relationship, you obviously have good and bad days. That’s normal in all relationships. The up’s and down’s are not enough reasons to push a relationship off the cliff. Those are moments meant to strengthen you. I like to think of a palm tree when the downtime comes. You must have watched either live or on the news when there are bad storms in countries with many palm trees.

They don’t seem to be very steady when the winds begin to blow but if you pay close attention, those palms bend to an extent of breaking but they never lose their ground. In this same way, some of the things relationships face are meant to make things more solid. The biggest problems come from little issues left unresolved. These problems don’t go just because they were left unaddressed. Let’s take a close look at 6 reasons why relationships fail.

1. Ignorance About Petty Issues:


Partners should never ignore each other

Many relationships become victims of their own weaknesses. Small problems become an  ignored enemy which gives it the power to win. You cannot underestimate an enemy and expect to come out victorious. Those small issues you notice but fail to fix could become the biggest threat. To stop them from destroying what you’ve worked hard to build, you will need to identify them. A problem well identified is half way solved. Once you do this, write them down and find some stress-free time to discuss and solve them.

2. Lack of Emotional Discipline:

Many relationships suffer emotional abuse. Normally one partner plays the role of the abuser knowingly or unknowingly. When we allow our emotions to run wild, we fail to recognize the red flags and thus do not make conscious efforts to apply the much needed breaks when necessary. When this happens, a crash becomes imminent.

Take control over your emotions, don’t allow them to control you. We all have feelings but they must be guided. If you want to protect your heart and relationship from unwanted abuse, control your emotions. Don’t feel entitled to get whatever you want when you want it from your partner.

Do you know that the number one reason people find themselves in wrong relationships is emotional indiscipline? They let how they feel control their actions and reactions!

3. Lack of Appreciation:


Always appreciate each other’s initiative to resolve conflicts

Never take people’s goodwill for granted or think they are kind due to weakness. When you abuse a privilege acting like you’re entitled to it, you put yourself on a dark spot. You may lose everything this way. Get into the habit of appreciating what others do for you and be respectful while at it. This goes a long way and pushes others to want to do even more for you.

4. Unthoughtfulness:

Lack of communication falls under this category. You see, when you have someone you care about and make no effort to reach out to them, they may interpret your silence as disinterest. A short text or phone call matters a lot. If you have been quiet on someone you love or care for, don’t wait for them to break that silence. Take the initiative to reach out. Don’t miss out on a good thing because of pride.

Thought for the Soul:

“To have good relationships with people at any level of life, good personality must be present. You must be in a position to concede and compromise some things. Have an understanding heart so that you can forgive.”


Happy relationships are built over time. Each day brings a new understanding.

Find out how you can make your marriage shift from worst to great again.

How to Understand and Save your Marriage

HOW TO UNDERSTAND AND SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE

Sheqoz


Marriage is a ground for building long term true love

Love Bonds Two as One:

The need to be loved is a primary emotional need for all mankind. A trigger for an invitation to share love on long-term basis. This desire is a phenomenon that follows us from childhood. If you remember your child hood memories, nothing made you happier than your parents love.

As an adult, when you found someone to reciprocate this feeling, it fulfilled your desire to be loved. Marriage presents the opportunity to share love on a deeper level for a long time. Love is free and it does not come with conditions or stipulations, it radiates independently like the sun.

Yearning for Love in Marriage:


It is important to acknowledge each other in marriage

The need to feel loved by your spouse is at the heart of marital desires. Married couples should understand this. In today’s society, we often find ourselves neglecting each other’s feelings in search of material possession which are no replacement for human emotional love.

If you think of a two-sided weighing scale; both weight must be equal for it to balance. Marriage is the same, it takes both spouses to balance things out. There must be consistent deposits into the love account by both partners.

The Beginning of Marital Problems:

The distraction from daily hassles has wrecked many marriages as it Creates emotional distancing. For example; a husband who spends all his time chasing material possession has no time to connect with his wife. In return, she feels ignored and starts drifting away emotionally, which leads to a lonely wife syndrome.

When and if her husband desires her, she turns him down because she feels ignored until desired. She has valid reasons but since they’re unspoken, her husband too turns into a victim of undesired. A contributing factor for most infidelities. Both couples are more than likely to seek emotional fulfillment outside of their marriage.

Attention Seeking in Marriage is Normal:


Marriage is a give and take

When marital problems begin to surface. Couples might start feeling burdened by each other. For this reason, they may start giving each other the cold treatment. I have friends confess to not having spoken to their husbands for weeks. You see, nature cries out to be loved by another; which makes isolation devastating to the human psyche.

The very reason solitary confinement is one of the cruelest punishment. Everyone desires to be intimate and to be loved by someone and marriage is ground to fulfill these purpose. It is not meant to be an isolation chamber. Therefore it is ok for a woman to seek her husband’s attention and vice versa. Couples who acknowledge each other stay together.

Understanding your Commitment:

When you got married, you entered into an intimate union. Living any differently can make love elusive. Something that changes both your feelings from how they were in the beginning of things. This is why you often hear people complaining that their spouse changed.

Married couples should avoid cold treatment at all costs. Emotional separation triggers arguments, disrespectful words and even hate. This doesn’t mean that there was no love in the first place, it simply means the inner person became emotionally empty. How does this happen?

Let’s think of an automobile, when gas tank is full, you can drive longer distances. If the tank is empty, the engine won’t run as intended. The same is true with love, you must refill your partner’s emotional desires constantly.

When emotional feelings are left unattended because of the busy life schedules. They sadly dry up, as a result; husbands complain that their wives don’t love them anymore and vice versa. Remember the fire you both had in the beginning? It cannot continue burning if there’s nothing to fuel it.


Marriage is ground for lifetime love and happiness

The Grass is Never Greener on the Other Side.

Marriage is like a silver trophy award which you received for maintaining the flames. You earned it through consistency. Unfortunately most couples get too comfortable and place the trophy on the shelves. Once the silver gets tarnished, they toss it into the garbage for a replacement.

The very reason for three, four and even five failed marriages. They don’t realize the same old mistake will tarnish the new trophy as well. What I’m l trying to say? Taking old habits into a new relationship will end things in the same direction as the previous one.

One must have clear understanding of marriage fundamentals and patience to build stability. I also strongly believe in God’s intentions for marriage. A man was declared the head of a home and so shall it be. Wise women build their homes while wise men put strong foundations.

It is easier to work on a familiar situation than walk into the unknown. If you have been considering separation, pull your tarnished silver from the shelves and give it a good polish. Separation should be a last option. Things don’t just get rocky in marriage. Couples get too comfortable and neglect their roles.

Unless you are in a violent relationship, get to the bottom of the problem and start working on each other with great respect and kindness towards one another. If there’s violence involved, please walk out before it’s too late and seek professional help. Good luck in your relationship.

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