The Honest Path to Finding a Lifelong Partner with Rachel Russo

THE HONEST PATH TO FINDING A LIFELONG PARTNER WITH RACHEL RUSSO

Kyle Benson

I’ll be honest, dating can be difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with the number of possible ways to find a life partner, with deciding whether to go on a second date or cancel and eat Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy, or with knowing when to commit to someone. It can feel like a game you just don’t want to play.

That’s why I sat down with Rachel Russo, New York City matchmaker and dating coach, to discuss how you can find someone to create a lifelong partnership with.

In our interview, Rachel and I tackled:

  • The most common troubles people have when dating and how to solve them
  • Handling rejection and how to honestly reject others in a mature way
  • How to take advantage of current dating spaces, both real-world and online

Common Dating Troubles

Years ago I wrote about my frustrations with being a first dateprenuer. I felt lost in a maze called dating, only to find myself running into dead-ends because my dates weren’t “perfectly compatible.”

And that’s a problem.

As soon as I would finish a first date, even on my way back to my car I’d already be back to swiping on dating apps and seeing who else was out there. With the appearance that everyone and their grandmother were available, I believed I had millions of choices.

I fantasized about all the amazing women I could possibly get along with. In essence, I was always looking for something better.

The problem is that this way of dating plays right into what is called the Paradox of Choice. It’s when you have so many options, you actually choose NOT to choose.

This is a perfect example of one of the struggles with dating. You go on a date, you connect with someone, but then you’re worried about missing out on someone even better. Even if the person you’re on a date with is amazing, you’re worried about not connecting with Janice or Jacob who might be, in your mind, a potentially better fit.

In the interview, Rachel points out that if you can get 80% of what you want in a partner, you should stop looking and start committing. Research on long-term committed relationships support this by highlighting that 69% of relationship problems never go away. Ironically, this doesn’t prevent your relationship from thriving.

“[W]hen choosing a long-term partner.. [you are also choosing] a particular set of irresolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty, or even fifty years.” – Daniel Wile, After The Honeymoon

To learn more about the more common troubles of dating, watch the interview here.

The Upside of Healthy Rejection

Connection, Lifelong

Have you ever thought about the language of rejection in romantic relationships?

“She broke my heart” or “He hurt my feelings” or “Her cheating was like a stab in the back.”

“When human beings experience threats or damage to their social bonds, the brain responds in much the same way it responds to physical pain.” Matthew Liberman – Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

Our attachment system, a primal survival system, is designed to keep you close to others for your safety. After all, your ancestors who stayed closer to the tribe tended to survive long so they could procreate. Essentially, we are hardwired for connection.

This is why rejection is so painful.

But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or unhealthy. Just because something doesn’t feel good doesn’t mean it’s not good for you.

People who build muscle in a gym tend to undergo difficult workouts and associate a positive meaning to the unpleasant sensations involved, which makes it easier to tolerate.

“This is the skill that’s perilously missing today: the ability to de-couple meaning from feeling, to decide that just because you feel something, it doesn’t mean life is that something.” – Mark Manson, F*ck Your Feelings

You cannot change how icky rejection feels if you do it to someone else or how hurt you might feel if you get rejected by someone you like. What you can change is the meaning. Which paradoxically makes your feelings easier to tolerate. This is classic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Let’s look at this as an example:

Let’s say that Alex is interested in taking Lucy on a date. Alex saw her in a coffee shop, and he thought she was beautiful. He walks up to her and says, “Hey there… [slightly awkward small talk]… I was wondering if I could take you out on a date?”

Lucy is not interested in dating someone since she just got out of a 3-year relationship and wants time to focus on herself and her career.

Would it be better for Lucy to agree to go to on the date, even though she is not interested, or would it be better for Lucy to be honest with Alex and tell him that she’s flattered, but isn’t in a space to date at this point in time?

If you think the latter is better, Rachel and I would agree.

Agreeing to go on a date in order to not hurt someone’s feelings will, in the end, hurt their feelings more than it would have if you had been honest and kind and tactfully rejected them in the first place.

As Rachel says, it is far worse to string someone along and waste their time than it is to just be honest about what you may or may not be looking for. This also means NO GHOSTING or benching.

Being rejected shows you who is and isn’t for you. Rejection can enable you to find someone who will meet your needs and someone whose needs will be met by you.

Find out more by watching our interview.

Dating Niches Have the Riches

With the plethora of online dating options, you may choose one of the more prevalent apps such as Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, or Match.

While these apps are great, they also put you in a large dating pool with people who have a wide range of interests, which makes it harder to sort through who will be a good fit for you. This means more effort on your end.

Luckily, there are websites that help filter for certain values such as fitness and physical health, mindfulness, and more.

It’s also helpful to think about demographics and dating.

“If you are like most [people], the most important decisions you make about [dating] won’t feel like [a dating] decision at all. Where you decide to live, study, work and hang out are not just random, superficial lifestyle choices…The fact is, you can’t meet the right [partner] if you’re in the wrong place. This means that your city, your college campus, your workplace, your gym, and your favorite coffee shop are not just physical locations. They’re what scientist call ‘mating markets.’” – Tucker Max and Dr. Geoffrey Miller – Mate: Become the Man Women Want

Essentially, the best dating advice is to make dating an extension of your personal life because your local dating zone comprises all of the potential partners whose dating zones overlap with yours. 1

And when you’re having fun doing things you love, you’re probably way more attractive than if you are doing things you don’t enjoy.

Every city, every local store reflects a culture with specific values. Finding a culture that shares your core values is going to make it easier to find a partner who shares those values.

In summary, the best strategy to authentically finding a life partner is to understand yourself and use that information to do social activities that lead to connections with other people who have similar values as you do.

Watch the interview above for more.

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.

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.

20 Lifestyle Changes to Make in Your 20s for a Better Life

20 LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO MAKE IN YOUR 20S FOR A BETTER LIFE

Tiffany Grace Reyes

Your 20s: the perfect balance between being young and energetic, and being practical and worldly wise. It’s the perfect time to make a change!

Your 20s can make you or break you. It contains some of the most exciting years of your life. You are just starting out your career, and you’re either building debt or building an empire. And although this decade can feel like you’re independent and consequence-free, how you spend your life in your 20s will have a huge impact on your life. What you do in this decade matters and may just determine your best shot at success and happiness.

In your 20s, you can experiment with so many things, party all night, go out on dates, travel the globe, and basically be a free bird. And although it’s not bad to enjoy being at the prime of your youth or working for your retirement, there are actually many things that you can do to make the most of your 20s.

Smart lifestyle changes you should be making in your 20s

Below are 20 of the top smart moves you need to make in your 20s that will pay off for the rest of your life.

#1 Travel. Invest in memories and experiences. This is the ideal time because you are young, able, and you have no family obligations. Use your time to meet different people and immerse yourself in different cultures.

#2 Don’t obsess over money. It is understandable to want to live comfortably later on in life, but don’t make your 20s so much about money that the decade passes you by. If you want to take risks or go after things that you are passionate about, then this is the best time. Think of money as a result of your hard work and not as your goal, and you can breathe easy enough to go out there and live a little.

#3 Think of one golden rule: save. Although you should not let money be your sole motivator, this doesn’t mean you should throw financial sensibility out the window. You can party, travel, and shop if you want, but be sure to set aside some extra cash *at least 10% of your income* for your rainy day fund.

#4 Be active. Despite your busy lifestyle, it helps to be active because of two things: you have something else to do other than race after work deadlines, and you are preventing your body from developing heart problems, obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. By squeezing some exercise into your schedule, you have a reason to wake up early and say “no” to that late night party invite every once in a while.

#5 Take care of your teeth. You may not notice it, but reality is, you’re stuck with the same teeth for the rest of your life. It’s not a house that you can skip maintenance on because you can move out anytime—your teeth are yours, and they’re not going anywhere. So even if it costs a lot of money and you think you don’t need it, take care of your teeth now while you can before repairing years of neglect becomes more expensive.

#6 Protect your skin. So your face is supple, you have no wrinkles, and you still have that healthy glow of youth. But you can’t seriously believe it will stay that way forever. Unless the fountain of youth has been discovered, you have to protect your skin. Don’t sleep with makeup on, and more importantly, wear sunscreen.

#7 Develop healthy eating habits. Make conscious beverage decisions that will lessen the negative effects alcoholic drinks bring to your body. Alcohol is, after all, a toxin. So drink wisely and in moderation, and always rehydrate to avoid a raging hangover. As for food, you know that junk food will only bring even more toxins into your body. Tone down your processed food intake, and try to include healthier, more natural food options into your diet.

#8 Lessen your tech ties. Twenty-somethings are known to be highly dependent on their gadgets. If you’re one of those people, learn to put your phone down and make real people-to-people connections.

#9 Set your standards. When you’re young, flirty, and carefree, it can be easy to fall victim to the charms of partners who end up doing nothing for you. Learn from the dating mistakes of your past, and never settle for partners who will only hold you back from living a full life.

#10 Forgive yourself and others. You will make mistakes, and you may learn this the hard way. Accept the fact that there are things you can’t control, such as rejection or heartbreak. Don’t let this embitter you, and instead, learn from this and grow.

#11 Don’t waste your time on drama. You’re all grown up, and you know what you want, so you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you think you deserve. Cut off people and situations that drain you of your energy. Your time and energy are better off spent on productivity and growth than drama and misery.

#12 Build courage and face your fears. You are young, and you are in the best shape that you can be. The world is your oyster. So if you are ever going to try something daring, now is the best time.

#13 Be less busy and more productive. In other words, learn to manage your time before you run around like a headless chicken. Don’t spread yourself too thin over things that are unnecessary, but instead, keep your laser focus on being effective and get more done in half the time.

#14 Set goals and learn to prioritize. You’re just starting out in your career, so you may think that your responsibilities are still ahead of you. Nope. You should set your goals as early as now, and from here on, take small steps in achieving them.

#15 Learn and learn and learn. Whether it’s baking classes or management lessons, take some time to learn new skills. Before you even think about starting a family and having your hands full, start a hobby or try something new.

#16 Invest in self-awareness and self-knowledge. This is the best time to find yourself and to know what you want and what makes you happy. Learn new things about yourself every day and seize every opportunity to grow.

#17 Stop comparing yourself to others. Who cares if your friend has bought a new house or your colleague already got a promotion? You can’t measure yourself against others, or else you’re never going to appreciate yourself and what you have. Be proud of who you are, and create your own story.

#18 Know what is right from wrong. You’re not a child anymore, so put away childish habits. While it’s okay to make mistakes, take responsibility for your actions. Learn to apologize for what you have done, and learn how you can make amends for actions that have caused others pain, and that includes the environment!

#19 Appreciate true friends. Through the course of your life, you will come across different kinds of people. Some will be genuine, while some will try to use you. Don’t waste time on people who will bring you down in the end. Appreciate the people who are there for you, and value their friendship.

#20 Slow down. You may be busy juggling your career, getting started living your independent life, sorting out your messy dating life, and simply enjoying being a twenty-something—but don’t forget to just stop, take a deep breath, and slow down. Success and happiness aren’t races to be won. You have to live your life at your own pace.

Your 20s can be the most exciting decade of your life. During this time, you’ll meet new people, learn new things about yourself, and really open your eyes to the wonders *and pitfalls* of the adult world. You only have 10 years to be a carefree, energetic twenty-something, so shouldn’t you make these 10 eye-opening years count?

While these lifestyle changes may be helpful and insightful, the best way to go through your 20s is to be kind to yourself and to others, make time for what you love, appreciate what you have, and be prepared for the future.

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.

18 Ways to Have High Self-Esteem and Start Winning at Life

18 WAYS TO HAVE HIGH SELF-ESTEEM AND START WINNING AT LIFE

Tiffany Grace Reyes

It’s normal to feel down once in a while, but constant negativity isn’t healthy. Use these tips to have high self-esteem and feel better about yourself.

Having low self-esteem can have a significant impact on virtually every aspect of your life, including your job, relationships, and your mental and physical health. However, the secret to have high self-esteem is not so hard to figure out.

High self-esteem comes from developing a positive self-worth and outlook. This is something you have to proactively build within yourself. There are many ways you can build your own self-esteem little by little. What’s important is that you stay consistent, but not beat yourself up for failing once in a while.

Tips to have high self-esteem

If you suffer from low self-esteem, try to make it a priority in your life to foster positive feelings about yourself. Starting with some of these tips for high self-esteem can be helpful.

#1 Have a vision. Form an image of yourself as the confident, self-assured person you want to be. Often, it all just starts with your mindset. If you believe you can be a confident person with high self-esteem, that’s exactly how you will begin to come off to others as well.

#2 Set realistic goals. It’s not enough that you have dreams and aspirations. You have to set realistic goals that you know you can achieve within a specified timeframe. Practice writing down clear and actionable goals for the day, and don’t forget to set long-term goals, too. This gives you a target to hit, and boy does it feel good when you can actually cross those items off of your list!

#3 Have a plan and follow through. Now that you have goals, the next step is to draw yourself a roadmap for how you will achieve those goals. Planning helps you keep your eye on the prize, so to speak. Otherwise, you may wander off, become sidetracked, or lose your motivation.

#4 Think about yourself in a positive light. Be positive about yourself and the world around you. Don’t dwell on the bad things that are happening or worry about the unpleasant things that could happen. Focus on the here and now and appreciate what you have instead of focusing on what you lack.

#5 Appreciate yourself. If you want to have high self-esteem, make it a habit to give yourself that figurative pat on the back on a regular basis. Even spending just a few moments every day to appreciate yourself can make a huge difference to your mood and to your self-esteem. Think about the people you’ve helped that day, what you’ve accomplished, and the other things that you can thank yourself for.

#6 Silence your inner critic. That voice inside your head that says you’re not good enough can be loud and persistent at times, especially for those who have low self-esteem. Guess what—you don’t need that in your life. Stop putting yourself down, and if there’s one inner voice you should listen to, it’s that one that says, “You’re great and you can do great things!”

#7 Say no to comparisons. Avoid comparing yourself to others. You will always find someone who is better or worse than you, but it’s not a healthy habit for your self-esteem to constantly compare. Celebrate what makes you unique and just look straight ahead with your goals in mind.

#8 Perfection is a myth. Doing things well is highly commendable. However, try to avoid striving for perfection. It is an impossible goal to accomplish. Instead, if you want to have high self-esteem, focus on giving your best in every situation and every task. Also, celebrate your imperfections, as those are what make you unique.

#9 Exercise and be active. Exercise can do wonders to your body, mind, and self-esteem. It releases feel-good endorphins to your brain. Furthermore, it keeps you fit so you feel good about yourself inside and out.

#10 Everyone makes mistakes. Even with the best of intentions, people still make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up whenever you commit them. Just learn from it and move on. If an apology is in order, be genuine, but don’t let anyone beat you up over mistakes that you take responsibility for.

#11 Focus on what you can change. Stop stressing over the things that you can’t control. Instead, focus on what you can change. Do your best to make your situation better, and believe in yourself and your capabilities.

#12 Make peace with what you can’t change. Now, as for the things that are beyond your control, it is best to make peace with them. There’s no use worrying about these things. Don’t waste your time and energy obsessing over anything that’s clearly beyond your control. Instead, focus your energy on making a positive impact in your life and the lives of others.

#13 Do things that you enjoy doing. Those who do the things that they love and enjoy are happier than those who just go through their days doing something they dislike. So if you’re given the choice, spend your time doing what you love to do.

#14 Do something you’re good at. It’s not enough that you’re doing what you love. You should also do something that you know you’re good at so you have a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. This reinforces your strengths and abilities because you can see for yourself that you are highly productive, your efforts are going somewhere, and you can see the results.

#15 Celebrate your triumphs, however small. All great things start from small beginnings and taking baby steps. So don’t be afraid if your triumphs don’t seem to make much of an impact. You are working your way towards your goal, and those little things can add up in no time.

#16 Help others. It’s always fulfilling to be of service to others. Being there for others, even just to brighten up their day with a sincere smile, is enough to put you in a good mood and make you stand a little taller. If nothing good is happening in your life, then be the good thing to happen to others.

#17 Be around supportive people. Birds of the same feather flock together. So if you want to keep your self-esteem up, be around those who have high self-esteem, too. Furthermore, be in the constant company of people who give you constructive criticism and support.

#18 Avoid those who put you down. Avoid negative people like the plague if you want to have high self-esteem. They are energy vampires who will also try to bring you down. Even the people with the highest, healthiest self-esteem can find themselves drained when around negative people.Self-esteem comes from self-determination and self-discipline. Mind your thoughts and interactions with others and the world around you. The more power you have over yourself to think the right thoughts and take the right steps, the more self-esteem you’ll have. And the higher self-esteem you have, the better the quality of life you will live.

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.

Conquering Fear

CONQUERING FEAR

Richard Innes

Ann Landers, the former well-known newspaper counselor, received an average of 10,000 letters a month. Almost all of them are from people burdened with life’s problems. She was asked if there was one problem that people seemed to struggle with more than any other. Her reply? Fear!

Yes, fear is a common problem from which none of us is immune. According to a well-known doctor, 90 percent of the chronic patients who see today’s physicians have one common symptom—fear.

A recent issue of The Christian Businessman reported the results of a survey that revealed the following major concerns of small business owners; a fear of poverty, a fear of criticism, a fear of illness, a fear of rejection, a fear of growing old, a fear of being separated from loved ones, and a fear of death.

These fears are by no means confined to business people. They are common to us all to some degree, along with many other fears, such as a fear of failure, fear of losing one’s job, and a fear of feeling inadequate—one of the most common fears of all.

Then there are innumerable phobias such as a fear of the dark, fear of high places, fear of closed-in places, fear of insects, and so on.

Fear is very much a part of life. It is a God-given emotion. We rightly fear driving through a red light or riding with a reckless or intoxicated driver. In right amounts, fear is a strong motivator, a self-protective survival factor.

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Ninety percent of the things
we fear never happen.

Fear becomes a problem when it is irrational or when we have too many fears. Fears can be listed under one of several categories such as the following: fears that are normal and healthy; fears that are imagined, fears that are projected or displaced, fears that are learned, and fears that are caused by a threat to our security—either physical or emotional.

Fears that are imagined. As somebody else has said, 90 percent of the things we fear never happen. A further 9 percent we often make happen ourselves. For instance, a person who has a deep fear of failure (conscious or unconscious) may get himself so anxious about failing, he will make himself fail.

Imaginary fears need to be recognized for what they are—which may not be easy at first—and then, with practice, refused to be believed.

Fears that are projected or displaced. These fears have their roots in the past. One lady I know was badly burned in an accident some years ago. She now has an “unreasonable” fear of fire. Just the smell of smoke will trigger her unresolved memories and inner terror.

Or take a man who, when he was growing up, felt totally smothered by an over-controlling mother. Unless he faces and resolves his old fears, chances are he will now project them on to his wife and have an unreasonable fear of being controlled by her.

In fact, whenever we overreact, we can be almost certain that we are projecting or displacing an unresolved fear from the past onto a present situation.

Fears that are learned or conditioned. As a child I used to have an unreasonable fear of grasshoppers. No grasshopper ever harmed me so from whom did I learn this fear? You’re right. It was my mother. She had a terror of them, so I learned to be afraid of them too, along with a fear of the dark, the bogeyman, etc. Fortunately, learned or conditioned feelings of fear can be reconditioned. I still don’t care for big grasshoppers, but the way I overcame my irrational fear of them was to realize that they were harmless and to practice picking some up.

I wouldn’t suggest the same process for overcoming a fear of snakes, but very often to do the thing we fear is an effective way to overcome learned or conditioned fears.

Fears that are real. Fears, such as the fear of losing one’s job and income, of living alone when elderly or bereaved, or losing one’s health, etc., etc. can be very real to those going through these experiences.

The question is, how do we overcome our fears?

First. Learn to admit them. This is the first step for resolving any problem. As Jesus, the Master Teacher, once said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NIV)

Second. Verbalize your fears. This gets them out in the open where they can be dealt with.

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You can control your actions
regardless of your feelings.

Third. Don’t allow your fears to control you. It’s okay and normal to be scared out of your socks at times. However, it’s immature to allow your feelings to control your actions. You can control your actions regardless of your feelings. It’s not always easy but it is a choice we all have!

Fourth. If your fears are imaginary, acknowledge this and refuse to believe them. Get facts before jumping to conclusions. Remember, what the mind dwells on, it will eventually believe and act on. Refuse to dwell on fearful thoughts.

Fifth. If a fear is an ongoing anxiety that has no apparent cause, realize that it is most likely a symptom of some hidden fear. If so, it may be wise to see a trained counselor to help you find and resolve the cause.

Sixth. If the fear is real, accept your situation but take whatever steps you can to change the circumstances that cause your fear. If you fear a layoff, upgrade your training to suit the needs of the changing work environment. If you fear being alone, reach out to others and help meet some of their needs. In so doing, you will meet some of your own. Realize, too that most adverse situations don’t last forever.

Seventh. Above all, learn to trust in God. There is no greater way to overcome fear. And this is a choice we all can make. The Bible says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25, NIV)

Trusting God is not a copout or an excuse for avoiding personal responsibility for our well-being. Trusting God is knowing that no matter what happens, God will bring good out of it if we do what we need to do and trust the rest to him. The Bible also says, “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

When I’m afraid, I say to myself, “What would I do if I weren’t feeling scared?” I then act accordingly.

I also commit and trust my life and circumstances to God every day. And, whenever faced with a fearful or challenging situation, I always pray, “God I choose to trust myself and this particular situation to you.” I keep doing this and, in time, my feelings catch up with my choice. It may take a while but it always works out for the best when I trust it to God.

He will do the same for you if you do your part and daily trust your life and circumstances to him.

Don’t Let Bitterness Ruin your Marriage

DON’T LET BITTERNESS RUIN YOUR MARRIAGE

Sheqoz


Marriages break because of bitterness

Marriage is Work in Progress:

Marital problems are real and the bitterness usually justified. If you’ve been hurt by your partner,  it is advisable to confront the problem calmly. Do not harbor the pain inward or compare yourself with other married couples because each marriage is unique in its own way.

I once spoke to a lady who wished to be in her neighbor’s position because they seemed to be in a happy marriage. The fact is, people don’t announce their issues to the outside world. They keep their domestic problems behind closed doors. Smiles and public hands-holding can hide much.

No relationship is a complete smooth sail because nobody is perfect. Surprisingly the reason most marriages don’t heal is not only the problem at hand but also the prideful bitterness the wronged partner guards in their heart. Almost all breakups and divorces happen because of the hurting partner.

Bitterness Cuts the Host:

Bitterness is a blade meant to hurt someone else but it eventually cuts the hand that conceals it. When it finds a place in a relationship, it destroys the foundation one step at a time. It stores itself in the soul, slowly poisoning the one who carries it.

When you harbor resentment, love becomes numb and hardens the heart. Unfortunately, at this point most people walk out. I have learned from talking to married couples that it is common for a wife or husband to say or do something disapproved by the other.

These things are bound to happen. But in some cases, a spouse forms a repetitive pattern regardless of being confronted. To the wronged partner, each hurtful action takes residence in the heart. It reaches a point when there’s no more room left – the beginning of bitterness manifestation and damage beyond repair.

Communicate your Feelings:

If you are in such a position, the truth is, bitterness doesn’t give your spouse a chance to seek forgiveness or even change. As a matter of fact, they may not even know to what level they’ve offended you. Your bitterness comes from the hurts you suppressed without communicating.

Women are especially guilty here, I used to do it and know many women who still do. We tend to hold things inside expecting our husbands to read between the lines. Imagine taking a bottle and filling it up with pressure. It will eventually explode. Right?

In the same way, the outburst in your heart can result in a broken marriage. Your husband on the other hand may have no idea what’s going on. He may not even see it coming. I think women need to open up a little bit more. Communicate your feelings, don’t show them; your husband cannot read your mind.

We all know that men love to fix things. Your husband will do what’s necessary to make things work. I will write a different article about us women and how we push our husbands away.


Bitterness spreads like wild-fire

Bitterness Spreads Fast:

Perhaps your spouse is aware of your unhappiness but continues in the same patterns. It happens especially if he/she is trying to stir something up. The situation here is totally different and it calls for stronger measures like counseling. There are great online courses that you can use if you’re willing to save your marriage. You can sign up for one here

However, this does not negate your responsibility to remove bitterness from your heart. You still need to at least be kind enough to set yourself free from stress-related health issues. Bitterness will give your future health a bitter struggle. Nothing is worth your own health. Take care of yourself, things can get better if dealt with correctly.

I like to compare bitterness with wildfire. Deadly wildfires like the one we had ranging in California can begin with something as simple as a flat tire or tossed cigarette butt. That spark, combined with tinder-dry forests and howling winds, can be all that’s needed for a catastrophic wildfire to start.

Bitterness grows in the same way. One little bit of bitterness can spread throughout your heart and finally take over your whole body. It  starts to manifest itself in your attitude, demeanor, and finally your health.

In addition, the spread will affect your children and family. Your criticism will make everyone critical. When you reach this point, it is not possible for you to make any sound decisions. There are too many voices. The only way to start working towards reconciliation is to let go of all bitterness.

A Positive Attitude is Attractive:

Find some undistracted time to discuss the issue with your spouse. If you find it hard to talk to him/her alone, find a close friend mentor. We all have one. Remember to speak in love, rationally and gently. Talk about all your hurts without being critical.

Finally, when all is said and done, work on yourself, not your spouse. He/she is the only one who can change themselves. You do not have the power to do so. The only part you can play, if you want to see some permanent changes, is to pray. The greatest inspiration that can trigger change with your spouse is your attitude. You might end up in the best marriage ever.

I’ve seen damaged relationships fully restored and the couple’s live happily thereafter. Most problems occur due to lack of knowledge. It is okay to seek help especially if you are stuck in a hurtful cycle of marital problems.

Please take time and sign up for free relationship help here

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