How to Find Yourself When You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Way

HOW TO FIND YOURSELF WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’VE LOST YOUR WAY

Brett Larabie

You don’t need to be middle-aged to have a life crisis anymore. If you feel lost, read on if you need to know how to find yourself again.

If we’re honest, I’m only 23. I’ve had far more life crises than I should have at this point. It seems like on an almost daily basis, something goes wrong that makes me question everything. So, I know what it means to figure out how to find yourself again.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve changed my mind about my career. In high school, I said I was going to be a teacher. Then in my final year, college applications started to go out and I completely changed directions. I didn’t even apply to teacher’s college. I actually applied to an Environmental Science course.

Little secret? I’m graduating from Public Relations in a couple of months. That’s a bit of a jump, I suppose. I went down one path in life, and thought it was for me. Then, a year after graduation, I realized I needed to return to school because things just didn’t make sense anymore.

I was lost. I needed to find myself. Maybe you feel the same way now? We all have our moments in life when things just stop making sense. You need to find yourself, and you may need to find yourself several times in your lifetime. Find relief in the fact that this experience will happen to you again and again, but you’ll always find yourself again in the process.

How to know when you need to find yourself

Learning how to find yourself is one of the most challenging parts of life, but one of the more challenging parts is recognizing when it is necessary.

Feeling “stuck” is a sign you need a change of pace. Usually this means you strayed from who you truly are. You need to begin the task of finding yourself.

This could happen after the death of a loved one or a failed career move, or maybe after a physical move to a new city. Whatever it is, a big change in our lives often leads us to feeling lost and insecure.

The feeling is different for all of us. Once you tune into yourself and recognize that feeling, you never need to worry about it again. You immediately notice when you start to stray off your path and begin the journey to find yourself once more.

How to find yourself when you feel lost

Trust in the fact that your true self is still inside of you somewhere. They aren’t gone forever. It takes some work to find your roots, but rest assured that you will get there.

Repeat this process to find yourself time and time again but knowing who you are is something very valuable. Nobody can ever take that away from you. Never fear the process. Each time you find yourself again, you find new and exciting parts that you didn’t know existed before.

Life is all about rediscovering who you are as part of this big, wide world.

#1 Reconnect with your roots. Go back to square one, where it all began. That means something different for everybody. For me, it’s my family. Specifically, my mom. Who or what makes you feel like your truest form of yourself? This is usually where your values stem from, which, for a lot of people, means their families as well.

But for others, it could mean God, nature, an old friend, or in their childhood home. Whatever it is for you, reconnect with that piece of you.

#2 Reflect on who you are today. Would six-year-old you be proud? I know we hear this question a lot, but if you really sit down and reflect on this question, you may be surprised at the answers. Life is ever-evolving, and so are we. You will change, and that’s okay, but your roots should stay the same.

Think about who you used to be, in the purest state of your life as a child. Were you loud and confident, but now ashamed and afraid of expressing yourself? Did you use to be conservative and quiet, and now feel like you need to be obnoxious to be heard? Always revert back to six-year-old you when finding yourself.

#3 Do you enjoy spending time with yourself? You spend a lot of time with yourself in your lifetime. In fact, you are who you will spend the most time with. You should really consider this fact when you say and do things.

At the end of the day, can you sit alone in a room with yourself and enjoy the present company? If the answer is no, it’s time to find yourself, because you’ve lost your way somewhere along the line. The goal is to enjoy the quiet spaces between the busyness of life.

#4 Meditate. This is a rather eccentric idea to some, when it comes to knowing how to find yourself but it works. I’ve really seen the benefits of meditation, and it really is an excellent tool in the journey to finding your true self. If you can’t enjoy time spent with yourself, then nobody else can either.

Learn to appreciate your own thoughts and find direction through meditation. This is a great way to make life’s hardest decision seem like a walk in the park. Through meditation, you clear up the foggiest paths in your life at the present moment.

#5 Invest time in yourself. You can spend the rest of your life investing in high-profile businesses, but if you don’t invest in yourself, you will be the poorest person on earth. Again, you’re stuck with you, so you really need to make it mean something.

Take 30 minutes at the end of each day and devote it to yourself. Read a book, write in a journal, shut off your phone, drink tea, whatever you need to feel like yourself. Allow yourself to be selfish for 30 minutes each day, because we all know that the rest of the day is spent taking care of everyone around you. Maybe that’s exactly why you lost yourself in the first place—you didn’t cherish the person looking at you in the mirror.

#6 Get outside and enjoy nature. Some say that they are at their purest form when they are surrounded by nature. Leave the phone at home for one day and hit the trails. Bring your dog or a friend with you. Go for a hike, and bring a picnic with you. Go alone, or with friends, but regardless, get outside and breathe in the fresh air. It won’t do you any harm, I promise.

#7 Read self-improvement books. I know this is super 90’s, and seems like a cry for help, but there are countless books that are genuinely helpful for those who have lost their way.

There is an entire section at most book stores devoted to understanding how to find yourself. Clearly, people are buying these books! Don’t be ashamed to buy or read these books, because they could change your life.

#8 Write it out. Every counselor on the face of the planet tells you to “write about your feelings.” You probably put on a half-hearted grin and say “okay.” We both know you will write on the first page of a journal then leave it on your bedside table untouched for weeks. It’s not a popular tactic, because talking about our problems isn’t something we like to do.

If you want to truly understand how to find yourself, dig deeper. Figure out why you are lost in the first place, and writing is genuinely a wonderful way to do this. Yes, it’s hard, I’m not going to lie to you. But all things in life worth doing, aren’t easy things to do.

#9 Unplug. Technology has been a huge obstacle in our lives, let’s just be honest. Social media is crowded with negative interactions that literally drain you of your energy. It’s so easy to get lost in the online world, because we only show the world the parts of us that we genuinely like.

We lose the parts of ourselves that nobody claps for, but those are still part of us. Each and every part of us, makes us who we are. We can’t just throw away the parts we don’t like. Unplug from social media and technology in general for a little while, and completely immerse yourself in real-life conversations with people who appreciate every part of you.

#10 Make a change. I know I said that drastic life changes lead to us feeling lost, but sometimes change is what we need to pull us out of that state. If you feel like you just go through the motions then chances are you aren’t living up to your full potential. Change is a good thing, embrace it. Change might be exactly what you need to find yourself again.

#11 Call your “person.” Maybe it’s just me, but when I have a mini life crisis, I call my mom. My mom knows me best, and that’s great. Also, my mom isn’t afraid to tell me when I’m being a lunatic.

Sometimes, we freak out for nothing. We think our lives are falling apart before our eyes, when really things are falling into place. We all have that person that tells us like it is. Whoever that person is for you, call them and tell them what’s going on.

Before long, they remind you that you are a strong person who is freaking out over nothing, and everything is going to be okay. Sometimes we just need to hear that things are going to be okay.

It’s normal if you feel lost sometimes, but just remember that it is always possible to learn how to find yourself and get back to who you really are.

What Is a Toxic Relationship? 16 Signs to Recognize It and Get Out

WHAT IS A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP? 16 SIGNS TO RECOGNIZE IT AND GET OUT

Natasha Ivanovic

The person you thought would be your partner is slowly becoming your worst nightmare. It is time to stop wondering what a toxic relationship is and get out.

I would love to say that I’ve no personal experience to answer the ‘what is a toxic relationship’ question and that all my previous dating experiences have been a walk in the park. Of course, that would be lying. In reality, I come from a long history of failed relationships—most of them toxic.

Either the guy was using me, manipulating or degrading me, or my self-esteem was so low that I chose to stick around. Those were definitely dark times.

In those moments, it’s hard to think about what you deserve and how to get it. If anything, you assume this is the best you’re going to get. That’s really the saddest part. You settle.

16 answers to the question: What is a toxic relationship?

In my first serious relationship, I dated someone who you would call a verbally abusive alcoholic. In the beginning, it was fun, but there were clear warning signs I ignored. And trust me, there are always signs. The only difference is whether you’re paying attention to them or not. And this just gets worse if you’re not sure what a toxic relationship is in the first place.

No matter how much you love your partner, keep your eyes open for the signs. If not, you run the risk of losing yourself. Coming back to your normal self isn’t easy. If you’re not sure what is a toxic relationship or what it looks like, well, here are the signs to help you figure it out.

Not all relationships are healthy ones.

#1 Passive aggressive. I think we’re all guilty of being passive-aggressive at times. It’s not easy talking openly about your feelings and emotions. But if passive-aggression is their middle name, it’s time to take a second look at your relationship. Not talking about your feelings is a sign of immaturity, and can lead down a dangerous road.

#2 Jealousy. A little bit of jealousy isn’t necessarily bad. Unfortunately, the line is very thin, and people assume excessive jealousy as a positive trait. If you can’t leave the house without them becoming jealous, or if they’re searching your phone for an incriminating text or picture, you’re in trouble.

#3 The blame game. I’m all too familiar with the blame game. My ex would give me percentages of how much I’m to blame versus him. Can you believe it? Natasha, in this fight, you’re 80% to blame; I’m 20%. If your partner never takes responsibility for their actions and blames everything on you, that’s toxicity at its best.

#4 Avoidance. You basically tolerate each other’s presence, which is pretty messed up considering you’re in a relationship. What will happen if you get married? You won’t spend time with your spouse? Avoidance is the first sign that the relationship has run its course.

#5 You don’t feel like yourself. You can’t make the jokes you’d normally make or watch TV without feeling like you’re doing something wrong. And you’re not doing anything wrong; you’re yourself. But if your partner doesn’t appreciate who you are, they’ll try to change you. And this is what’s happening.

#6 Arguing. It’s normal for couples to argue. Don’t think because you argue you’re in a toxic relationship. But there’s a difference between arguing and communicating and straight-up yelling without any resolution. If they’re just yelling at you, it’s not going to get anywhere.

#7 Negative vibes. People underestimate the power of energy. Every animal on this earth is made up of energy. If you’re constantly feeling uncomfortable or anxious around your partner, there’s a reason why. You’re reacting to the energy they’re giving out. Negative energy emotionally drains you and breaks you down.

#8 You only make them happy. When you’re with your partner, they don’t care about your happiness. Instead, you spend most of your time trying to please them. You eat what they want, do what they want; you’re basically their personal slave. They don’t ask you how your day was or what you’d like to do.

#9 You can’t grow. When someone grows in a relationship, that’s a positive thing. You want your partner to grow and develop, and you want to do the same. If you want more, but your partner likes things the way they are, well, that’s not good. They’re holding you back from achieving your life goals because they don’t want to develop.

#10 You don’t feel like fighting for the relationship. When two people love each other, they’ll go above and beyond to make things work. They will fight as hard as they can for the relationship. But with you, you stopped caring a long time ago and so did your partner. You feel like there’s no point; the relationship isn’t going anywhere.

#11 You’re not happy. When was the last time you laughed with your partner? When was the last time you felt really happy by their side? You’ll know when you’re in a toxic relationship because you won’t be happy anymore. Something inside of you is telling you to move on for a reason.

#12 The drama never ends. But really, it never ends. Every day there’s something wrong in their life, and it’s usually around something you did wrong, even if you did nothing! They live for the drama because it distracts them from their own failures.

#13 You never do anything right. At least in their eyes. Everything you do comes with criticism and loads of it. At the end of the day, you feel like a complete failure and unworthy of their love. But that’s not true. They’re not worthy of your love and affection since they don’t appreciate it.

#14 You feel like the worst version of you. When you’re with someone you love, they usually bring out the best in you. And that’s when you know you’re with the right person. But if you’re becoming someone you don’t recognize, you need to think hard about your relationship. Is this really someone you want to be with?

#15 Your friends and family don’t like them. Listen, I know you don’t want people to dislike someone you chose to be with, but sometimes your friends and family are right. If they tell you that you’ve changed and your partner is toxic, listen. Your friends and family love you and want the best for you.

#16 They’re stuck in the past. Instead of thinking about their future with you, they constantly remind you about the past. “The good times you had,” runs out of their mouth often, and it makes you wonder if they’re enjoying the relationship now. But they’re not; they’re stuck in the past.

After reading the signs, what do you think? Can you answer what is a toxic relationship? If you feel that you are in one, it’s time for you to make a change.

7 Assumptions We Need to Stop Making About Other People

7 ASSUMPTIONS WE NEED TO STOP MAKING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE

Marc Chernoff

Never underestimate a person’s challenges. Everyone is struggling. Some are just better at hiding it than others.

Too often we judge people too quickly, or too subjectively. We tell ourselves stories about them without thinking it through—our perceptions and biases get the best of us. I was reminded of this today when I received the following in an email (I’m sharing this with permission):

“…I learned the hard way that a smile can hide so much—that when you look at a person you never know what their story is or what’s truly going on in their life. This harsh reality became evident to me this morning when I found out one of my top students—always straight A’s, a positive attitude, and a smile on her face—died by suicide last night. Why? Nobody seems to know. And it’s killing me inside.”

Talk about a reality check, right?

What we tell ourselves about others—what we think we know—is often far from the truth.

And with that in mind, I’m sitting here reflecting on all the little things we have to stop assuming about other people, for their sake and ours…

  1. We need to stop assuming that the happiest people are simply the ones who smile the most. – Behind the polite smiles and greetings people give you, some are hurting and lonely. Don’t just come and go. See them. Care. Share. Listen. Love. We can’t always see people’s pain, but they can always feel our kindness. So be kinder than necessary.
  2. We need to stop assuming that the people we love and respect won’t disappoint us. – When we expect perfection we tend to overlook goodness. And the truth is, no one is perfect. At times, the confident lose confidence, the patient misplace their patience, the generous act selfish, and the informed second-guess what they know. It happens to all of us too. We make mistakes, we lose our tempers, and we get caught off guard. We stumble, we slip, and we fall sometimes. But that’s the worst of it… we have our moments. Most of the time we’re pretty darn good, despite our flaws. So treat the people you love accordingly—give them the space to be human.
  3. We need to stop assuming that the people who are doing things differently are doing things wrong. – We all take different roads seeking fulfillment, joy, and success. Just because someone isn’t on your road, doesn’t mean they are lost.
  4. We need to stop assuming that the people we disagree with don’t deserve our compassion and kindness. – The exact opposite is true. The way we treat people we strongly disagree with is a report card on what we’ve learned about love, compassion, kindness and humility. 
  5. We need to stop assuming that we can’t trust people we don’t know. – Some people build too many walls in their lives and not enough bridges. Don’t be one of them. Open yourself up. Take small chances on people. Let them prove your doubts wrong, gradually, over time.
  6. We need to stop assuming that the rude people of the world are personally targeting us. – We can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of us. They do things because of them. And there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to us when we detach from other people’s behaviors. So just remember, the way others treat you is their problem, how you react is yours.
  7. We need to stop assuming that other people are our reason for being unhappy, unsuccessful, etc. – We may not be able control all the things people say and do to us, but we can decide not to be reduced by them. We can choose to forgive, or we can choose to forget. We can choose to stay, or we can choose to go. We can choose whatever helps us grow. There’s always a positive choice to make. Thus, the only real, lasting conflict you will ever have in your life won’t be with others, but with yourself… and how you choose to respond… and the daily rituals you choose to follow. 

Dealing with People Who Deeply Offend Us

Some of the points above (like numbers 4 and 6 for example) potentially require a willingness to cordially deal with people who yell at us, interrupt us, cut us off in traffic, talk about terribly distasteful things, and so forth.

These people violate the way we think people should behave. And sometimes their behavior deeply offends us.

But if we let these people get to us, again and again, we will be upset and offended far too often.

So what can we do?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but here are two strategies Angel and I often recommend:

  • Be bigger, think bigger. – Imagine a two-year-old who doesn’t get what she wants at this moment. She throws a temper tantrum! This small, momentary problem is enormous in her little mind because she lacks perspective on the situation. But as adults, we know better. We realize that there are dozens of other things that 2-year-old could do to be happy. Sure, that’s easy for us to say—we have a bigger perspective, right? But when someone offends us, we suddenly have a little perspective again—this small, momentary offense seems enormous, and it makes us want to scream. We throw the equivalent of a two-year-old’s temper tantrum. However, if we think bigger, we can see that this small thing matters very little in the grand scheme of things. It’s not worth our energy. So always remind yourself to be bigger, think bigger, and broaden your perspective.
  • Mentally hug them and wish them better days. – This little trick can positively change the way we see people who offend us. Let’s say someone has just said something unpleasant to us. How dare they! Who do they think they are? They have no consideration for our feelings! But of course, with a heated reaction like this, we’re not having any consideration for their feelings either—they may be suffering inside in unimaginable ways. By remembering this, we can try to show them empathy, and realize that their behavior is likely driven by some kind of inner pain. They are being unpleasant as a coping mechanism for their pain. And so, mentally, we can give them a hug. We can have compassion for this broken person, because we all have been broken and in pain at some point too. We’re the same in many ways. Sometimes we need a hug, some extra compassion, and a little unexpected love.

Try one of these strategies the next time someone offends you. And then smile and breathe, armed with the comforting knowledge that there’s no reason to let someone else’s behavior turn you into someone you aren’t.

Your turn…

How have your judgments and expectations of others affected your life and relationships?

10 Tips to Help You Open Up About Your Kinky Side

10 TIPS TO HELP YOU OPEN UP ABOUT YOUR KINKY SIDE

Team Lovepanky

Telling your partner about an unusual thing that turns you on may be disconcerting. But it doesn’t have to be, when you’ve got these tips on hand!

Before you start spinning all those negative thoughts in your head, take a deep breath. A kink isn’t the end of the world – far from it. In fact, it may even bring you closer together. When you’ve got trust in your relationship, you can be pretty sure that your partner won’t just pack up and leave once he or she knows about your particular kink. On the contrary, opening up about something that you find difficult to talk about may even strengthen your relationship!

How to open up about your kinky side

When you’re at your wit’s end when it comes to telling your partner about what turns you on, these 10 tips will help you out!

#1 Change your frame of mind. Try to focus on the positive aspects of telling your partner about your kink. Don’t think about a kinky confession as something that is going to tear you two apart. Instead, think about it as something fun and exciting that you two could explore together. Imagine if you heard a really good band – you’d want to share that experience with your partner, wouldn’t you?

If you approach your kink as something that you’re ashamed of, it will be cast in a negative light. Your partner may even wonder why you seem so negative about it… does it go deeper than they think? But by showing it in a positive, friendly light, you reinforce the fact that it really isn’t a big deal. It’s just something that happens to be a part of your personality… the personality of the person that they like and love.

#2 Practice what you’re going to say. Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse your words. Obviously, you aren’t going to be declaring your kink in front of an audience, but practice helps. Not only will it relax you, but it will also show you that really, in the scope of things, this isn’t that big of a deal. A lot of times we work ourselves up for nothing.

Try to think of the questions that they might ask – however outlandish. Doing this will reduce the amount of fear and uncertainty you feel, because you’ll feel as though you’re prepared for anything that they throw at you.

#3 Set aside some time in a private location. Atmosphere matters. Don’t spring your kink on your beloved in the middle of a crowded dining room or before he or she runs off to work. Instead, a cozy, romantic evening at home can be the perfect time to explore your sexuality and explain what really makes you tick. A good, full discussion of your sexual future may take up to two or three hours. It’s better to schedule more time than to be cut short and let your partner leave with unfinished thoughts weighing upon their mind.

#4 Be as specific as you can be. Once you let the floodgates loose, you may start tripping over your words or trying to rush through things. You may take a quick “affirmative” from your partner, and end the conversation prematurely. You may take a quick “negative” from your partner and then try to play it all off as a joke. Don’t do this!

Here’s the thing. You’ve spent a lot of time thinking about your kink, right? Well, your kink is going to be as much of your partner’s sex life as it is a part of yours, and they’ve had absolutely no time to think about it. Their mind is going to be racing. Don’t let their mind race off on a journey alone. You have to be very specific about what you do or don’t need.

Make sure that you discuss the difference between a kink and a fetish. Kinks are just things that, to put it delicately, rev up your engine. They don’t always need to be involved in your sex life – it’s just more fulfilling if they are sometimes. A fetish is something that has to be involved in your sex life all the time – and that’s usually considered unhealthy. Many inexperienced partners, when confronted with a kink, may worry that it’s a fetish! Make sure that you specify!

#5 Don’t get too defensive. Some people have preconceived notions about kinks. Society places a lot of ideas in a person’s head about the “proper” ways to have sex. Don’t be discouraged if your partner initially laughs or thinks it’s funny. They may not realize just how you feel. Getting defensive will only make the situation worse!

But by the same token, don’t be afraid to defend yourself if your value as a person is questioned. “That sounds weird!” is a somewhat understandable comment for someone inexperienced to make. “You are weird!” is not. Don’t let anyone shame you regarding your kink. As long as it isn’t hurting anyone, there’s nothing to be ashamed of!

#6 Give them room to ask questions. A one-sided conversation isn’t a conversation at all… it’s just a speech. Ask your partner to ask any questions that they have and don’t treat any question as stupid or silly. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, and what may seem perfectly ordinary to you may be something that they simply haven’t experienced before.

#7 Test the waters a step at a time. Remember that you can’t just throw someone into a kink that you’ve had your whole life and expect them to swim in the deep end. Test out the waters slowly at first, and always let your partner know exactly what you’re doing – no one wants something unexpected sprung on them in the heat of the moment, even if it may seem more passionate that way!

Introduce it to them in small stages, and discuss it with them beforehand. “Maybe next time we could…” is a good way to start this conversation. And be open to them saying that they need some time or if they have any suggestions to make them feel more comfortable.

#8 Make your partner feel comfortable. After you have tested out your kink, you need to discuss it with your partner. Don’t just assume that because you’re on the path that you wanted to be on, that everything is OK – there could be a lot going on in the undercurrents.

Find out if there was anything that made them uncomfortable or anything that intrigued them. Let them know how much you appreciate them by being on board with you, and that you know how lucky you are to have a loving partner.

Everyone deserves a healthy sex life, but that doesn’t mean that a partner owes it to you to do these things – they do it because they love you. This is especially true if your kink is something that your partner just isn’t into at all.

#9 Don’t forget to reciprocate. Usually, opening up a discussion about kinks will also lead to your partner opening up about their own sexual needs! If it doesn’t, make sure that you’ve made it clear to your partner that you want to know what will make them happy, too.

But don’t be surprised or confused if your partner doesn’t have a kink. It can be easy for people with kinks to assume that everyone has one and that they are just hiding them. Some people really don’t have any kinks and that’s fine, too.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that they don’t have a preference. A person without a kink likely prefers “vanilla” sexual experiences – so those shouldn’t be neglected in the bedroom either.

#10 Know when to let it go. Some partners can’t deal with some kinks. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s your partner’s prerogative to decide what they find fulfilling in their sex life. You can’t change how a person is or what makes them uncomfortable.

Of course, if your partner demeans or belittles you regarding your kink, you would know that they aren’t the right person for you after all. You’ve just dodged a bullet, and it’s good that you did it as early as possible. But if your partner and you simply can’t see eye to eye regarding your sexual needs, then it may just not have been meant to be.

Revealing your kink to your partner can be scary – but hiding it is even worse. The last thing you want to do is create a strong relationship built on a lie, however slight that lie may be. Sex is an important part of any healthy relationship, and dishonesty about what interests and excites you in bed will only make it harder for both, you and your partner, in the long term. 

Time With Our Children

TIME WITH OUR CHILDREN

A primary school teacher asked her pupils to write an essay on ‘A wish you want from God?’ At the end of the day, the teacher collected all the essays written by her pupils. She took them to her house, sat down and started marking.

While marking the essays, she sees a strange essay written by one of her pupils. That essay made her very emotional. Her husband came and sat beside her and saw her crying.

The husband asked her, “What happened? What’s making you cry?”

She answered, “Read this. It is an essay written by one of my pupils.”

The pupil had written: “Oh God, make me a television. I want to live like the TV in my house. In my house, the TV is very valuable. All of my family members sit around it. They are very interested in it. When the TV is talking, my parents listen to it very happily. They don’t shout at the TV. They don’t quarrel with the TV. They don’t slap the TV. So I want to become a TV. The TV is the center of attraction in my house. I want to receive the same special care that the TV receives from my parents.

“Even when it is not working, the TV has a lot of value. When my dad and mom come home, they immediately sit in front of the TV, switch it on and spend hours watching it. The TV is stealing the time of my dad and my mom. If I become a TV, then they will spend their time with me.

“While watching the TV, my parents laugh a lot and they smile many times. But I want my parents to laugh and smile with me also. So please God make me a TV.

“And last but not the least, if I become a TV, surely I can make my parents happy and entertain them. Lord I won’t ask you for anything more. I just want to live like a TV. Please turn me to a TV.”

The husband completed reading the essay and said, “My God, poor kid. He feels lonely. He does not receive enough love and care from his parents. His parents are horrible!”

The eyes of the primary school teacher filled with tears. She looked at her husband and said, “Our son wrote that essay!”

What do you think of this boy’s essay?

Nothing I Do is Good Enough for My Partner

NOTHING I DO IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR MY PARTNER

Patricia Cochran

Relationships often start with plenty of demonstrations of affection and appreciation for one another. There is a sense of “this person gets me and accepts me for who I am”. The infatuation makes you want to attend to even the silliest requests from your partner. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, your partners request feels like demands that can’t be met. You feel confused and hurt that no matter what you do it’s never good enough to please them.

At first you chalk it up to some stress that has been going on in your lives. Soon you realize that your partner is constantly criticizing and blaming you. And things like this happen:

5 Things a Hard to Please Person Does

There is always an “if you just…then I would…” bargaining/ blaming statement happening. The bargaining portion serves the purpose of pretending you have a choice in behavior – you can do this or have the consequences. The blaming serves to keep you responsible for their behavior and entitlement. Their frustration that something isn’t to their liking is usually your fault for not following “the correct steps”. It is a trap that you constantly fall into because you want to “get it right”.

Their expectation can’t ever be achieved. Even when you do what they want the response is that you didn’t do exactly how they wanted, you took too long or you have to do more now. The standards are constantly changing. They might take over the task without letting you try, which causes insecurity and resentment for you.

You feel invalidated in your feelings and needs. If you express disagreement or disappointment you are met with “I didn’t mean it that way, so you shouldn’t feel that way.”

Every argument ends with you giving up and letting them have their way as if it was a game they need to win.

They compare the relationship and/or you to their ideal model. This idealization might come from someone in their lives (parents, former partner) or from beliefs about relationships. In any case you always lose since you’ll never be as good as their vision.

Now that you can safely identify that your partner can’t be pleased you are left with a question: Why? You have been blamed for their dissatisfaction for so long that it is hard to imagine other reasons for such mind games and control. Before you lose all hope of happiness it can be helpful to understand why.

The possible reasons:

High anxiety: Your partner could have a high level of anxiety that is alleviated through taking control of situations and people – especially you. Notice that you are not the only target of their criticism. There is a constant hyper-vigilance about what is going on around them and how they need to make it right. People with high anxiety are very critical of themselves as well as others. The dissatisfaction is due to a high standard that basically no one can achieve for being so idealized. There is a belief that anything and everything can always be better than it is.

“Your partner could have a high level of anxiety that is alleviated through taking control of situations and people – especially you.”

The world is unsafe: Critical people might have learned that the world is unsafe and you must be always on the offense and defense to not get hurt. The critical and controlling behaviors are to keep them with the upper hand in life. In this case you will notice a “winning behavior” – a need to be always right and “win” arguments no matter what.

Resentment: Something might have happened in the relationship that triggered the dissatisfaction. Your partner has resentments towards you that they neither express nor let go. This is a passive-aggressive (though it feels very aggressive to you) way of dealing with conflict that has to be addressed.

Role models:  Dysfunctional role models of what a relationship looks like can cause your spouse to not know how else to interact with you. Experiencing negative role models also has a side-effect of leading him or her to try and maintain control of the relationship so they are not hurt like their parents.

Finally, we get to the part that concerns you: What can you do about it? Resolving conflict always takes both partners engaging in the work. You also have responsibility to change the situation.

What you can do about it:

Accept that you have responsibility: You have been reinforcing this behavior by trying to please your spouse at any cost. Every time you give in and do what they want you are sending the message that it is OK to hurt you that way. However, responsibility doesn’t mean blame. It is not your fault that your partner became critical and possibly abusive. Accept that you have been enabling the behavior and use the knowledge to change interactions.

Set reasonable boundaries: It is OK for partners to make requests, but not demands. Set a boundary of what you are willing to work with your partner and how you expect to be asked to attend to their needs. Don’t allow name calling, shaming or invalidation of your feelings. If needed take time out to cool off and re-engage in discussion later.

How to Fight if Your Marriage Matters

HOW TO FIGHT IF YOUR MARRIAGE MATTERS

Kyle Benson

Tough marriage conflicts can turn into a perfect storm.

They can flood the streets of love with the sewage of personal attacks. From what I’ve learned, beating up a loved one is never a fair fight. You know their deepest vulnerabilities, their most important values. This gives you the power to structure what you say in a way that cuts them down with a machete of words.

Have you ever wondered why we do this? Why we intentionally hurt the one we love? Have you ever wondered why we shut down and become “emotionally unavailable” to our partners when they confront us on something that could improve our marriage?

The problem with intense conversations is that they confront the beliefs we hold about our relationship, ourselves, and our partners.

So when something threatens to contradict the beliefs we hold about how things are, our bodies flood with chemicals that increase our heart rate. Our bodies prime to run away or fight and defend our point.

This Happens in Three Stages

Stage 1: We feel shocked by our partner’s comments, actions, or lack thereof. Maybe they are blaming us or accusing us of doing something we didn’t. Either way, our bodies become tense as we experience something we didn’t expect.

Stage 2: We can’t calm down. As our insides flood, we become anxious. We feel as if our life is at stake. The more flooded we feel, the more likely we turn into a reptile. Emotionally flooded people and reptiles have two characteristics: they lack a sense of humor, and they eat each other.

Our heart rate skyrockets and our automatic instinctive reactive emotions take control of our thoughts and actions. The notion of “choosing” is erroneous because the section of our brain that chooses, our neocortex, is no longer in control. The idea of fighting fair is abandoned because reptiles never fight fair.

As we are emotionally hijacked, we become deaf to any positive things our partner may be saying. The narrator of our minds may take on a negative story of us. We blame our partners for the problem. We find flaws in everything they say or do.

And we tell them so.

Stage 3: Emotional Shutdown
If we continue to become flooded without resolve, we eventually become numb to our hurt. It becomes so overwhelming that we block it out completely. According to John Gottman’s research, men tend to become emotionally hijacked easier and stay flooded longer. Since we struggle to soothe ourselves and calm down, we withdraw and go ice-cold to protect ourselves.

From my own experiences, doing so has brought a sense of relief in the heat of a fight. The only problem is that shutting down only makes my partner’s heart rate increase, causing them to flood more. This only escalates the conflict.

Emotional flooding is a major reason why humans suck at tough relationship conversations. In fact, John Gottman’s research indicates that repeated flooding in marriages is a predictor of divorce. Flooding again and again, changes The Story of Us causing us to start to see our partners in a negative light. That light guides us towards the path of betrayal or singlehood.

So how can we not lose it during relationship conflicts? Here are the six steps I use and teach my clients:

The Marriage Conflicts Peace Treaty

Step 1: Awareness. I become aware that I feel like I am under attack by my partner. Sometimes I use the Instant Heart Rate Iphone App to notice how elevated my heart rate is. During emotional flooding, our heart rate can jump up to 20 or 30 beats per minute. My average heart rate is 65 BPM,1 so if my heart rate jumps to the 80’s while I am sitting down and having a conversation, I know my body feels like it is in a war zone.

You can also feel this in your body. You’ll feel overwhelmed. Anxious. You might desire to attack your partner. Be aware of how your body feels.

Step 2: Assert my Flooding. Once I have the awareness I am flooded, I tell my partner that we have to stop talking because I feel like I am going to start attacking her. This isn’t easy to do, but it prevents me from eating her vulnerabilities alive. You can say things like, “I’m losing it.” “I’m flooded and want to attack you.” “I’m getting upset.”

Step 3: Schedule a time to continue the conversation. This is vital if my partner brought up the argument. When I first learned to assert my flooding, I would get the space I need, but I would avoid the conversation next time I saw my partner. Over the following weeks, she would stew over her unresolved problem and tension between us would increase until we fought about it again.

Committing to your partner to continue the conversation allows them to calm down and realize that you can’t control your emotions in the present moment. But they know when you can, you want to solve the problem at hand.

Step 4: Non-negotiated distance. It’s your responsibility to calm yourself down and take care of your flooded state. This is non-negotiable with your partner. You need your space, otherwise your words and actions are going to nuke the love right out of the relationship. John Gottman’s research states that we should take a 20 minute break and emotionally distance ourselves from the conflict.

I go on a 25-minute walk while listening to my favorite songs. Other people play video games or find challenging tasks that consumes their cognitive awareness.

During this time, it’s vital that you think good thoughts about your partner. It’s very easy to stay in your defensive state and stew over feeling righteous, replaying wounding words your partner said, or allow yourself to feel like a victim. The problem is this only escalates flooding. Instead, ask yourself what is good and true about your significant other. Focusing on the good will not only soothe your emotions, you’ll also realize that they are not out to eat you alive!

Step 5: Note triggers. Ask yourself what caused yourself to turn into a reptile. Was it a word your partner said? A way your partner moved? By noting the triggers that cause your flooding, you can help them learn how to discuss uncomfortable topics without drowning you in your own emotions.

FYI – If you know your partner’s triggers, it’s your responsibility to not be a dick. Don’t push those buttons.

Step 6: Soothe each other. Before you bring up the topic of discussion, talk with your partner about what caused you to flood. Thank them for allowing you to take space to keep the relationship intact.

“I’m thankful you let me stop before I said things I regretted.”
“I felt triggered when you mentioned that you needed more space. I think I fear being abandoned by you.”

Battling and becoming aware of our instinctual reactions that cause a perfect storm in love is not easy, but the more times you practice the six steps above, the easier it will become. The healthier and happier your relationship will become. Remember, when emotions become tense, love becomes nonsense. If you want your marriage to last, give it the space it needs to breathe when the fire gets too hot.

  1. For reference. The average 30 year old man’s heart rate is 76. It’s 82 for women of the same age. 

1 More Way to Quiet the Negative Voices Inside You

1 MORE WAY TO QUIET THE NEGATIVE VOICES INSIDE YOU

Angel Chernoff

It’s Sunday, and I want to remind you of another effective method for quieting that negative inner voice of yours. But first, let’s examine a super-common mistake negative people make…

Negative people are often proud to describe themselves as “realists.” Of course, anyone who holds a strong belief thinks they are being “realistic” by holding it, whether it involves UFO encounters or perfectly truthful politicians.

The “being more realistic” declaration is a favorite of cynics everywhere. And in a way they are correct. But only because negative thinking causes us not to try – or if we do try, to do it half-heartedly and give up sooner – so the negativity itself influences our outcomes. Self-fulfilling predictions like this really do happen. Research has even found that in some cases what we believe about our health can have more bearing on how long we live than our actual health.

What makes all of this so scary is the fact that it means negative thoughts can plague us even when things seem to be going relatively well. For instance, the thought “It’s too good to last!” quickly wrecks havoc on a positive situation. Thus, my tip today has to do with how negative thinking can distort your perception…

Stop yourself from over-generalizing the negative (and minimizing the positive).

Ask yourself: “If something negative unexpectedly happens, do I over-generalize it? Do I view it as applying to everything and being permanent rather than compartmentalizing it to one place and time?”

For example, if someone turns you down for a date, do you spread the negativity beyond that person, time, and place by telling yourself: “Relationships never work out for me, ever”? If you fail an exam do you say to yourself, “Well, I failed that exam; I’m not happy about it, but I’ll study harder next time”? Or do you over-generalize it by telling yourself you’re “not smart enough” or “incapable of learning”?

Remember, negative thinking stops us from seeing and experiencing positive outcomes, even when they happen often. It’s as if there’s a special mental block filtering out all the positives and only letting in data that confirms the ‘negative bias.’ So, do your best to catch yourself today.

Being able to distinguish between the negativity you imagine and what is actually happening in your life is an important step towards living a happier life.

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.

6 Things to Remember When Your Heart is Breaking

6 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN YOUR HEART IS BREAKING

Angel Chernoff

It’s a dull, subdued sensation when your heart is breaking, like the muffled sound of a distant gunshot. It doesn’t physically pierce your skin or tear you to pieces, but the sensation is physically present – the paralyzing discomfort of realizing that something you took for granted is leaving for good.

Although it’s hard to accept at first, this is actually a good sign, having a broken heart. It means you have loved something, you have tried for something, and you have let life teach you.

Life will attempt to break you down sometimes; nothing and no one can completely protect you from this reality. Remaining alone and hiding from the world won’t either, for endless, stagnant solitude will also break you with unhealthy nostalgia and yearning.

You have to stand back up and put yourself out there again. Your heart is stronger than you realize. I’ve been there and I’ve seen heartbreak through to the other side. It takes time, effort and patience.

Deep heartbreak is kind of like being lost in the woods – every direction leads to nowhere at first. When you are standing in a forest of darkness, you cannot see any light that could ever lead you home. But if you wait for the sun to rise again, and listen when someone assures you that they themselves have stood in that same dark place, and have since moved forward with their life, oftentimes this will bring the hope that’s needed.

It’s so hard to give you advice when you’ve got a broken heart, but some words can heal, and this is my attempt to give you hope. You are stronger than you know!

Please remember…

1. The person you liked or loved in the past, who treated you like dirt repeatedly, has nothing intellectually or spiritually to offer you in the present moment, but more headaches and heartache.

2. When you don’t get what you want, sometimes it’s necessary preparation, and other times it’s necessary protection. But the time is never wasted. It’s a step on your journey. Someday you’re going look back on this time in your life as such an important time of grieving and growing. You will see that you were in mourning and your heart was breaking, but your life was changing.

3. Some chapters in our lives have to close without closure. There’s no point in losing yourself by trying to hold on to what’s not meant to stay. Remember this, and always keep two simple questions in mind: What opportunities do I have right now? What’s one small, positive step forward I can take today?

4. One of the hardest lessons to learn: You cannot change other people. Every interaction, rejection and heartbreaking lesson is an opportunity to change yourself only. And there is great freedom and piece of mind to be found in this awareness.

5. It’s always better to be alone than to be in bad company. And when you do decide to give someone a chance, do so because you’re truly better off with this person. Don’t do it just for the sake of not being alone.

6. Be determined to be positive. Understand that the greater part of your misery or unhappiness from this point forward is determined not by your circumstances, but by your attitude.

And of course, if you’re struggling with any of this, know that you are not alone. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and get our lives back on track.

5 Signs You’ve Been Doing Too Much for Too Long

5 SIGNS YOU’VE BEEN DOING TOO MUCH FOR TOO LONG

Marc Chernoff

When things aren’t adding up in your life, begin subtracting.

Busyness is an illness.

Think about your own life and the lives of those close to you. Most of us have a tendency to do as much as we possibly can—cramming every waking minute with events, extravagances, tasks and obligations.

We think doing more will get us more satisfaction, success, etc. When oftentimes the exact opposite is true.

Less can be far more rewarding in the long run. But we’re so set in our ways that we can’t see this.

And so…

  • When we work, we shift from one task to the next quickly and continuously, or we multi-task—juggling five things at once until the end of the day… and yet we still feel like we haven’t done enough of the right stuff.
  • When we finally break away for some healthy exercise, we tend to push ourselves as hard as we possibly can… until we’re exhausted and sore, and less likely to want to exercise tomorrow.
  • When we go to a nice restaurant, we want to try all the appetizers, drinks and entrees, indulging in as much deliciousness as we possibly can… and we leave feeling bloated, sometimes uncomfortably so, and then our waistlines stretch.
  • When we travel to a new city, we want to see it all—every landmark and every photo op—so we do as much as physically possible… and we return home from our trip utterly exhausted.

How can we tame our urge to do too much?

Simply focus more on doing less every step of the way.

Be mindful of the urge to over-do it.

It’s taken me awhile to get the hang of it, but I’m getting there…

  • When I’m working, I do just one thing at a time with full focus. And when I catch myself multi-tasking or feeling overwhelmed, I’ll clear everything off my plate and make a list of just one to three key tasks I absolutely need to complete by the end of the day. And yes, sometimes this list is just one thing long, because it helps me focus on what’s truly important and not feel overwhelmed.
  • When I went to the gym two days ago, I had the urge to push myself to my max. I noticed this and instead decided to let that urge go. I did a solid 45-minute workout, but left some fuel in my tank. Yesterday, I went back to the gym and I put in another 45 minutes at a similar pace. This morning, I would have been happy to do the same, but I decided to take a light jog instead. My exercise regimen is sustainable, and that’s why I rarely injure myself or miss a day.
  • When I sit down at a nice restaurant, I don’t try to taste and eat as much as possible. Instead, I leave the table satisfied, but not bloated. I eat less than I used to. This is something I still struggle with at times, because it isn’t easy. It takes practice. The result, however, is that I feel significantly better after each meal and my waistline thanks me.
  • When I travel to a new city, I don’t try to do it all. I choose a few things to do, and I take my time. I then leave the city knowing that there’s plenty to see on my next visit—I leave myself wanting more of a wonderful thing.

Anyway, I hope you will join me on this journey.

Let’s do a little less… and make the less we do count for even more.

Here are five signs now is the right time to do just that:

  1. You feel overwhelmed by all there is to do. – Remember, overcommitting is the single biggest mistake most people make that makes life stressful and overwhelming. It’s tempting to fill in every waking moment of the day with to-do list tasks, events, obligations and distractions. Don’t do this to yourself. You CANNOT do it all. You have to let some things GO!
  2. You’re actually trying (consciously or subconsciously) to do it all. – Another major issue that keeps so many of us stuck in a debilitating cycle of busyness is the fantasy in our minds that we can be everything to everyone, everywhere at once, and a hero on all fronts. But, of course, that’s not reality. The reality is we’re not Superman or Wonder Woman—we’re human, and we have limits. We have to let go of this idea of doing everything and pleasing everyone and being everywhere at once. You’re either going to do a few things well, or do everything poorly. That’s the truth. 
  3. You have no time to appreciate the space in your day. – Your life isn’t just about the things you do—it’s also about the open space between the things. That means the space itself is something to be appreciated as well. So, for example, if you spend your morning meditating and reading, the morning isn’t just valuable because of the meditation and reading—the space around those two activities is also incredible. The time spent walking over to your meditation mat, or finding your book, or turning the pages, or pouring a cup of tea, or sitting and watching the sunrise… these little open spaces are just as important as anything else. Pace yourself so you’re not hurrying from one thing to the next, but instead noticing and appreciating the spaces in between, too.
  4. You have lost track of your priorities. – Priorities don’t get done automatically. You have to make time for what’s important to you—time with your significant other, time with your kids, time for creating, time for learning, time for exercise, etc. Push everything else aside to make time. By saying no to more things that sound really exciting, you get to say yes to more of what’s truly important. 
  5. Your physical space is a cluttered mess. – If you don’t have enough time to keep your physical space organized, you’re doing too many of the wrong things. Period. And there’s a good chance you’re buying too many of the wrong things too. Decluttering your physical space can lead to a less cluttered mental space—needless clutter pulls on us and distracts us in more ways than we often realize. So remember, the question of what you want present in your physical space with you is essentially the question of how you want to live your life.

Afterthoughts

I want to leave you with two quotes from our friend Joshua Becker’s book, The More of Less, because I just re-read it and absolutely love how his sentiment coincidentally compliments this blog post:

  • “Our excessive possessions (and obligations) are not making us happy. Even worse, they are taking us away from the things that do. Once we let go of the things that don’t matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.”
  • “Sometimes, minimizing possessions (and obligations) means a dream must die. But this is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it takes giving up the person we wanted to be in order to fully appreciate the person we can actually become.”

Cheers to making life simple again! 🙂

Your turn…

In what way do you need to start doing less? Leave a comment and share your thoughts and stories with us.