Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Does Our Relationship Need A Patch?

What do we do when we hit a rough patch in our relationship? How do we make it through to the other side?

All long term committed relationships find they hit difficult times at some point. Partners suffer disappointments in their lives and these effect the relationship. Health issues can cause much stress and strain during times of illness, whether it's a member of the partnership or an extended family member. Body changes that occur during menopause and andropause may cause challenging times within a relationship. There may be times when one or both of the partners suffers the loss of a loved one. All these situations have the capacity to temporarily derail the partnership.

How do we get back on track? What can we do to minimize the damage? How do we support our partner, or garner support when we need it?

The key to getting out relationship back on track is regaining our balance. Life is not always easy or fair. This is a truism that each of us comes to accept in our own time. Wonderful people get horrible diseases and die young. Cruel people may benefit via the destruction of others throughout their lifetimes. The hardest thing about life is accepting reality when we don't like it. This is what each of us will face at some point in our lives.

We regain our balance by practicing acceptance and gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for in our daily lives. We try our best to focus on those things. We practice empathy and compassion for our partner as they struggle with their issues or losses. Change and the ensuing adjustment to those changes is difficult and painful. We do the best that we can to offer comfort and compassion to our partner as they face reality. This does not mean that we become another's doormat. We continue to practice self care, recognizing that healthy boundaries are an integral part of our healthy relationship. We may decide to overlook some unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to be compassionate, so long as they do not affect our self esteem.

When we are the one facing difficult times we try to be as calm as possible. We explain our situation in as much detail as we can to our partner, so as to provide them with the necessary information to cope with our difficulty. We try to be specific in our request for support letting our needs be known and not assuming that our partner will know what to do to help us. When we need to vent or be heard we explain that we don't actually need our partner to do anything but listen and be empathetic. In this way we free our partner from feeling impotent in the situation. We take time each day to practice self care, especially paying attention to our stress levels and using our tools (meditation, breathing, guided imagery, pampering) to manage them within acceptable limits.

When the challenges have passed the key to regaining intimacy and balance is gratefulness. We make sure we share with our partner how important their support has been throughout the ordeal, noting specific instances where their efforts have produced positive results for us. This type of validation and appreciation brings closure to the event and gives the supporting partner the proverbial shot in the arm they deserve for standing by us throughout the ordeal.

Compassion and empathy displayed often yields compassion and empathy returned. We attract what we are... not what we want. As long as we remember this ultimate truth we will be clear about how we are to behave in our relationships.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Having Trust Issues?

Trust issues are common after the ending of a long term relationship. Our self esteem has been battered and our ego has been badly bruised. How do we overcome our lack of trust and enjoy intimacy once again?

When we begin trying to connect with a new person we wait for the other shoe to drop, because in the past it did. Dealing with trust issues takes guts. We have to look at ourselves and figure out what part of the failure of our relationship was our responsibility... we all have some, even if it's just 1%.

Once we face ourselves naked, so to speak, we will know who we are when no one is looking. At that point we will understand that the trust issues aren't really about anyone but ourselves. We no longer trust ourselves to discern when someone is deceiving us. We need to begin to trust ourselves again, slowly, to learn to trust our gut once again.

We will learn that the body never lies. We will get that feeling in the pit of our stomach when someone is bs'ing us and we will learn to pay attention to it rather than thinking we are just reacting inappropriately. We will learn discernment, who to trust and when and where that trust is appropriately given. We will learn not to reveal too much about ourselves too soon in a new relationship before we have gotten to know our new partner well enough. We don't want to load the gun that may be pointed at our preverbial head somewhere down the road. We will learn that we do have the capacity to tell when someone is behaving in ways that are not in our best interest. That we can tell when we are being deceived. That we are capable of protecting ourselves from being hurt, and still be open enough to enjoy intimacy with a responsible accountable partner.

It's a process that takes some time, but we will get there. We will use our tools, practice self care in our daily lives and embrace the changes that will come with recovery.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Want To Feel More Loving?

What happened to all the good feelings I used to have toward my partner? Why do I feel so irritated and upset toward my partner when we quarrel? How can I get back to feeling more loving?

During the course of a committed relationship we may find themselves becoming insensitive toward our partner. We forget just how special it is to be loved by someone who is not a blood relative of ours. We may forget that it takes a great deal of understanding and empathy to live with another human being. We forget that we have as many flaws (or more) as we see in our partner.

It is easy to point our finger at our partner and complain about some irritation that we have encountered. It is much harder to stop, think about whether or not this irritation is truly important, and decide whether or not to let it pass unspoken. How many times has our partner not complained about our missteps? A good measure of whether or not something is worth pursuing might be, "Will this matter in five years?" If the answer is no, maybe it doesn't matter today either.

There are more than enough serious issues that occupy partners in their everyday lives. We need to learn to let the trivial remain as such as keep alive the gratefulness we should feel, to be sharing our lives with someone we believe is special.

As we practice gratefulness in our daily lives we will give our partner what each of us truly yearns for... acceptance. More than any other area of our lives our primary relationship is the one in which we long to be accepted for who we really are. We wish to not need to wear masks with our partner, to be able to be ourselves and be loved as such. When we receive that gift within our relationship we feel valued, loved and special. We can then share that loving feeling with our partner and others in our life.

So the answer to the question... How can I get back to feeling more loving? Is to give unconditional love to our partner expecting nothing in return. In the process of giving freely of ourselves we open the door for real compassion and love to return to us. We attract not what we want, but who we are. If we remember this in all our endeavors we will be able to walk the path that leads to fulfillment by becoming the person within.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Whats Love About Anyway?

These are excerpts from an excellent piece in Psychology Today entitiled: Why breaking up is often harsh to do, by Jeremy Sherman, PhD. After reading over the material I had the distinct feeling that he had hit on something that rang true. I post it here to get your input.

Why Breaking Up is Often Harsh To Do

I once broke up with the same person twice. The first time she left disgusted with me and boy, did I miss her. The second time she left honoring me and I hardly missed her. This informal somewhat-controlled experiment exposed how much my love was about how I felt about myself by means of relationship. If she pockets my self-esteem on her way out the door, I join the lonely people. If she leaves blessing me, I'm OK.

How my relationships have ended often had carry-over effects that drove me to get into the next. If it ends with me feeling like a failure, I'm eager for a shot at redemption and get into the next too soon. And getting in too soon means the angst from the last relationship persisted well into the next. I suspect many of us experience this revolving door effect. It's a reason to either stay with one partner for better or for worse, to put yourself in enforced "quarantine" while you heal between relationships, or to cultivate the art of breaking up generously so the toxic reside doesn't last long.

Breaking up generously: Most people would sign on to that in principle. In practice though an enormous amount of us dis our partners as we exit. That's a problem with all platitudes like "be generous." We hold them as absolute principles but can make exceptions pretty much any time it's time to apply them. So rather than just pledging to be generous on the way out, it's better to try to understand why so often we are at least tempted not to be.

Friendship is a kind of mutual endorsement by means of cooperation. In any friendship, a habit of throwing down peace signs is established. But as the friendship starts to break down, the temptation to compete and the risks of cooperating increase for both parties. Knowing this makes the temptation even greater. After all, if the other party is about to defect on you, you'd better beat him or her to it. It becomes like two-person hot potato. Neither party wants to be left cooperating at close range with someone competitive. That's why you start backing out. You don't want to be at close range. It's also why you start dissing. If someone has to be stuck with the hot potato, you want it to be your soon-to-be ex-friend, not you.

As high stakes as the game is in friendships, in romantic partnerships the stakes get much higher. If friends offer endorsement, romantic partners offer uber-endorsement. At its aspired-to ideal it's not just "You're a good person among good people," it's "You're magic. You have exclusive powers to move me."

In the high-stakes game of romance, the temptation to cooperate at the beginning is very strong. That's what makes new lovers surge toward each other. Every inch toward greater intimacy is an inch toward greater endorsement. Trouble is, once you've surged all the way in there's no place to go but out, and every inch backing out can feels like an uber-disendorsement. Once the backing out begins, it's eat or be eaten. That's a key to why couples breaking up are often so critical.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cyberspace: Danger Ahead

There have been many questions posed regarding cyber sex, infidelity, online safety and appropriate limits to these relationships as regards our primary partnership.

There are two types of affairs that occur in committed relationships. There is the betrayal that occurs when one partner has a physical relationship outside the partnership. That type of betrayal may or may not involve emotional attachment.

There is also the emotional affair. Emotional affairs are particularly dangerous because the parties involved are building intimacy with a person who is not a part of their primary relationship.

When intimacy is built outside of the primary relationship walls tend to go up between partners. There is an instinctive reaction to back away, to retreat from the openness and trust that existed before one partner began to need to hide their feelings and actions from the other.

Neither of these affairs is positive or beneficial for the long term health of the relationship. Any time one partner must behave covertly, the line between acceptable interaction and unacceptable interaction has been crossed.

In cyberspace, where honesty and deception can easily become interwoven during texting and chatting, the specter of anonymity allows people to entertain ideas that they might not in live interactions. For this reason care must be taken when online to be wary of predators and abusers. The inability to read body language, tone of voice and gestures makes it easy for those who would deceive.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites can be great places to share tidbits of everyday life with family and friends or conduct business. Finding classmates from the past can be fun, but chatting with former beaus may carry the risk of opening up old feelings that may not belong in the present.

As long as partners don't password protect their computers from one another and allow each other free access (whether it's used or not) to each others web pages, there should be no reason for concern. Use common sense, when it feels like it's going in the wrong direction and you wonder if you should continue, you probably shouldn't.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Parents, Step Parents and Children's Needs

Children need two parents in their lives, whether they are married to one another or not. They also need stability and routine to help them feel grounded, keep their world orderly and allow them to feel safe. There is much psychological evidence to support those facts. Some parents may forget at times that our children are developing and have different needs than we do as adults.

Step parents often have a difficult time adjusting to the fact that their role is limited. They may want to impress their new partner with their ability to handle the kids, or make a new home, or make their new partner feel like they are a family. None of this is relevant because none of it is actually about what is best for the kids.

Step parents do have a role, which is best described as making a safe place for kids to live or visit (whichever is appropriate), and being a support to the rules set down by the biological parents. If the step parent and the biological parents can work out at way to effectively cooperate this is actually the best situation for the kids. In that case there is little friction and the kids needs are put first. Many times, however, this does not happen and parents must choose how to manage their personal lives and their children's lives effectively.

Children's lives need routine, stability, safety and certainty. They need to know that both Mom and Dad still love them and will make time with them a priority. They need to see their biological parent alone some of the time to feel valued and important. Parents also need time to be adults and bond with their new partner. It may not be appropriate for parents to share time with their new partner when the kids are present soon after a split.

Studies have shown that kids should be given time to grieve the loss of the family unit without being expected to form any new bonds. This can take time - each child is different, but up to two years or more can be needed for some children. Even then, the introduction of a new partner for a parent is wrenching for a child because it underlines the fact that Mom and Dad aren't getting back together - the dream for which the child secretly hopes.

Parents are not expected to put their adult lives on hold for their children indefinitely, however, it is reasonable for parents to keep their adult lives separate from the lives they lead with their children for as long as possible to give their children a chance to heal. Remember, children have no say in divorce, they cannot get what they really want... Mom and Dad back together again in a happy family. Since they can't get what they want, is it really so hard for us adults to give them the time to heal from their grief by giving them what they need? Security, safety, stability, boundaries, love, attention and the feeling of being valued as a person.

Children will make relationships with their step parents in their own time and in their own way. They only have one set of biological parents in their lives, but they have the opportunity to be loved by many more people as time passes. No one will ever be Mom or Dad but Mom and Dad in a child's heart... period. But that doesn't mean that step parents can't be loved and valued for their ability to be a trusted friend or companion.

Making roles an issue over which to fight is a waste of time. No one will take the place of Mom or Dad in any child's heart. How many times have counselors watched an adult in their 60's sob as they talk about the love the wished they could have received from a deceased parent...

Let us have faith in ourselves and our relationship with our children. They need us and want us in their lives. They love us with all their hearts. Let us be there for them. Let us give them the love we were denied as a child. Let us give them what we were never able to receive. Let us be the one to break the chain of pain.

We are all well loved. Let's share that gift with our kids.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We Attract Who We Are

What happens when we have no choice but to leave our relationship? Why do we feel so upset? When we have been treated with disrespect, betrayed or abused why do we feel remorse?

We have taken a first step that is very difficult, but one that we apparently feel is necessary. We have left our relationship. Feeling remorse, guilt, anger, confusion is all very normal during this time. We are doing something that we never wanted to do, leaving our partner.

Regardless of who may be at fault, there is a great deal of pain involved in lettting go of the hopes and dreams that we all have regarding our future when we end a relationship. It is never easy. The feelings of failure we experience may be related to the fact that we may have believed we were the one to be the provider, the protector, the one to shield our family from the evils of the world. Or we may have felt we were the nurturer, the one who kept our loved ones safe from harm, who made our house a home, who created a place of renewal and hope for our family.

We may now feel we can no longer accomplish those goals. Although we may have stumbled on our path we can still believe in ourselves. We may yet still be able to accomplish our goals with a new partner at some point in the future. Our current partner will have to protect themself from the harsh realities of life on their own... those are the consequences for the choices that have been made.

Remember... within there lies a heart of gold. Someone out there will be the luckiest person alive to someday have us as their partner. Meanwhile we take the time to heal, practice our tools, learn about ourselves and our blind spots and become the person we want to be. We attract not what we want, but who we are.

Hang in there. Time truly does heal.

Monday, September 21, 2009


After reading this blog on Psychology Today I thought I would post it here. So many of us have been badly burned in relationships and are unsure what a healthy relationship might look like. Here's an apt description.

10 Tools for Positive Attachment by Barton Goldsmith, Phd

Consider what the word "attachment" spells out.

It's never too late to have a close relationship with someone you love. If you had a connection before, you can have it again. If you need a model for building a good relationship, consider what the word "attachment" spells out:

A: Attachment is about creating a bond with those you love. It requires that you accept life's imperfections and get okay with things being "good enough." When you have a good attachment with the ones you love almost any obstacle can be overcome.

T: Touch is a very important part of being attached. If you're not getting enough, talk with your mate about it. Physical connection is a necessary part of creating a healthy attachment. If you don't want or need to be touched, that's okay, but if your partner isn't on the same page, it will chip away at your foundation.

T: Thoughtfulness means that, even in times of strife, you somehow always manage to consider your partner first. You need to want your partner to be happy, and thinking about him or her should make you happy.

A: Affirming verbally how you feel is very important for many people. To never hear "I love you" from your mate can leave you feeling as though you are not truly wanted. Many men and women need to hear they are valued. This is a case where actions do not speak louder than words.

C: Connecting with your partner by looking into his or her eyes, holding hands, and just saying "thank you for being in my life" or holding each other tightly for several minutes are both powerful tools. Give them a shot.

H: Hoping for a better tomorrow is critical for relationships that are in healing mode. If you both honestly commit to working on your relationship together, you will have the best chance of getting through a rough patch.

M: Memories of happier times will help you find the strength you need to get things back on track if you have lost your feelings of attachment. Knowing that you were once in love can give you the motivation you need to find it again.

E: Emotional availability and support are the cornerstones of a loving intimate relationship. Your partner needs to know that you're going to be there for him or her.

N: Needing another person is not a sign of weakness. Yes, people can be too needy, and insecure behavior can make it difficult for a couple to bond appropriately. But everyone needs to feel valued and that his or her feelings won't be dismissed.

T: Trusting that you are loved is essential. If you have any doubts, it's best to sit down and talk about them. Communicating, verbally and nonverbally, is the best tool for creating what you want.

After a little time, what you may find is that your partner isn't perfect and neither are you. Of course, that means that your relationship isn't perfect either. It is, however, good enough.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Am I Growing?

How do we know when we are growing? How can we tell if we have changed? We see ourselves everyday, what can we use as a yardstick?

When we enter into the process of recovery we place ourselves on a path of growth that is often three steps forward and two steps back. As we grow and change it may not be apparent to us that we have made strides in our efforts to become healthier. This may cause us concern or allow us to feel as though we are not accomplishing our goals.

We can take steps to avert this type of second guessing. We can use our tools to create a snapshot of ourselves at various points along our journey.

One of our most successful tools is journaling. We take bit of time on a regular basis and write out our thoughts and feelings. We may want to include small bits of current events to remind ourselves of the drama and chaos that surrounded us when we entered into the path of recovery. As time progresses we will be able to read our prior posts and realize how far we have come along our chosen path.

Another tool we can use to help us see our own growth is a gratitude journal. We write down five reasons we are grateful each night before we drift off to sleep. They can be anything, from our kids to our pet. We can be grateful for the simplest things, like food on our table, or the most complex, such as being able to understand physics. Initially the exercise may feel awkward and we may be unable to think of five new things to write down each day. But over time we will see how our world has enlarged as we grow and change.

Sometimes we complete our exercises and use our tools grudgingly, just going through the motions. But over time as we see the growth in ourselves and the changes we engender in those we love we will become more enthusiastic in our efforts and understand that we can only change the world one person at a time... that person starts with us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Snooty Dippin Dunkin

We all need a little stress-reliever! This takes only a moment. Sometimes when you have a stressful day or week, you need some silliness to break up the day. If we are honest, we have a lot more stressful days than not. Here is our dose of humor... Follow the instructions to find your new name. Then post it!! Enjoy!!

The following is excerpted from a children's book, Captain Underpants And the Perilous Plot Professor Poopypants, by Dave Pilkey, in which the evil Professor forces everyone to assume new names...

1. Use the third letter of your first name to determine your New first name:

a = snickle
b = doombah
c = goober
d = cheesy
e = crusty
f = greasy
g = dumbo
h = farcus
i = dorky
j = doofus
k = funky
l = boobie
m = sleezy
n = sloopy
o = fluffy
p = stinky
q = slimy
r = dorfus
s = snooty
t = tootsie
u = dipsy
v = sneezy
w = liver
x = skippy
y = dinky
z = zippy

2. Use the second letter of your last name to determine the first half of your new last name:

a = dippin
b = feather
c = batty
d = burger
e = chicken
f = barffy
g = lizard
h = waffle
i = farkle
j = monkey
k = flippin
l = fricken
m = bubble
n = rhino
o = potty
p = hamster
q = buckle
r = gizzard
s = lickin
t = snickle
u = chuckle
v = pickle
w = hubble
x = dingle
y = gorilla
z = girdle

3. Use the third letter of your last name to determine the second half of your new last name:
a = butt
b = boob
c = face
d = nose
e = hump
f = breath
g = pants
h = shorts
i = lips
j = honker
k = head
l = tush
m = chunks
n = dunkin
o = brains
p = biscuits
q = toes
r = doodle
s = fanny
t = sniffer
u = sprinkles
v = frack
w = squirt
x = humperdinck
y = hiney
z = juice

Thus for example: Barack Obama's new name is: Dorfus Featherbutt.

And remember that children laugh an average of 146 times a day; adults laugh an average of 4 times a day. Put more laughter in your day!!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Four Small Additions Bring Joyful Relationships

A recent survey of 4000 couples married for at least sixteen years, prompted author Pamela Regan, PhD to write on the four key areas in relationships that seemed to make a significant difference with regard to how happy folks felt within their partnerships. These are the four points that seemed to make all the difference:

Physical touch: The group of partners in the study wanted to be hugged, cuddled or just touched about four times daily. They enjoyed the physical connection expressed in affectionate terms and liked small consistent doses throughout their day. A hug in the morning before leaving for work, a kiss or hug upon returning from the day, a quick touch on the arm when passing one another in the home, sitting close on the couch watching TV or reading in the evenings, these small actions all added to the feeling of closeness within the relationship.

Gestures of courtship: When partners first meet there are many displays of courtship within the relationship. Over time as the partnership moves on to one of long term intimacy and commitment, these small but important gestures often get lost in the day to day activities of life. Partners in this study were appreciative of efforts made about once in ten days to be mindful of courtship and make efforts in this direction. It doesn't have to be complex. Simple gestures are often the best. Running a bath for a partner tired and sore from a days work, turning down the bed at the end of the day, lighting candles at the dinner table, bringing home a bunch of daisies, offering a light back rub, these simple but thoughtful gestures go a long way to making partners feel special and loved.

Supportive action: Lending a helping hand without being asked can be one of the most effective ways of showing the love we have for our partner. The study group enjoyed these supportive actions on average three times a month. Cleaning up after a meal, helping out with the the laundry, raking the leaves, grooming a pet, making coffee in the morning, all these small gestures are non verbal ways to show the feelings we have for our partner as well as making their responsibilities in the home lighter.

Couple time: The partners in this study enjoyed an average of two dinner dates out and seven cozy nights in each month. Nights out are a special gift to a partnership. These times allow partners to reconnect with one another in an intimate way without the distractions of family and home. Cozy nights in work well to reinforce intimacy. Spending time talking and sharing the events of the day over a glass of wine or a cup of tea without the background noise of the television or radio allows partners to reconnect frequently and catch up on each others lives, a vital part of maintaining closeness between those in a relationship.

As we strive to improve the quality of our relationships and the joy we give and receive in interacting with our partner we may choose to add these four small changes to our daily lives. In addition to the self care we practice within our daily routine, we can enhance the quality of our partnership and our own lives by practicing compassion and consideration in our daily interactions. In this way we give ourselves the gift of intimacy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting Upset With Your Partner?

Principal fissures and lobes of the cerebrum v...Image via Wikipedia

Why do I feel upset when my partner is upset, when I have determined that it has nothing to do with me? Why do I get irritable when my partner is irritable?

We cannot underestimate the intensity of the relationship between partners. Sharing lives involves sharing emotional response and feelings. As partners we seem to pick up the emotions of the other. Why does this occur?

We may have been feeling peaceful and calm when our partner arrived irritable and anxious from a day at the office. Soon we are feeling tense and cranky and unable to determine the cause. We have suddenly changed mood and we are confused. What happened to us?

Within our nervous system exist mirror neurons. These mirror neurons relay a complex grouping of information to our brains including spoken words, tone of voice, body language and minute meta-messages that we are likely unaware we are sending and receiving. This information received by our mirror neurons causes us to release neurotransmitters in our brain creating a copy cat emotional response within us akin to what our partner is experiencing.

How do we determine what feelings belong to us and what feelings are being created within us by our relationship to our partner? Each of us is empathic within close relationships to some degree. We can tell a great deal about how our partner is feeling from tell tale signals they send within their voice and body language. We know when they are upset or angry.

We learn to differentiate when we practice our tools. We learn to respond rather than react when we are confronted with strong emotions. We take a moment to think about how we felt prior to being in the presence of our partner. This brief pause for reflection may give us insight into the origin of the feelings we are attempting to discern. We can then decide to respond rather than react. We may diffuse a potential disagreement by showing compassion for our partners foul mood and allowing them the space to soothe themselves back into balance. This allows our partner to practice self care and keeps us at arms length from the fray.

When partners become aware of how they may be mirroring each others behavior and attitudes they can choose compassion over reaction. Over time through learning to respond rather than react partners may overcome their natural tendency to mirror one another and improve the quality of their relationship.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


How do we cope when we are betrayed? What do we do to take care of ourselves? How can we heal our hurts?

When our partner betrays us, whether it be via an adulterous relationship or through another breach, we are injured at our core. This is someone we have allowed into our lives in a very deep and meaningful way. We have become intimate with our partner in a variety of areas which we do not share with any other persons. As a result we feel crushed, sometimes lost. We experience our loss in the most personal of ways. This type of betrayal carries with it the added pain of personal rejection. Our partner is someone who knows us inside and out and has rejected us for our inner selves in a very painful and personal way.

At first we are shocked, infuriated and hurt. We may react with anger and fury. As time passes and the reality of our situation sinks in we may become hostile and cold toward our partner. If we have been betrayed we may wish to end the relationship. Or, we may wish to continue the relationship, but may not know how to get past the hurt and resentment. We have lost the trust shared in our relationship.

It is imperative that we not make life altering decisions during this initial time. We are still very raw and may be unable to rationally approach the situation. We may be too angry to think long term and may be incapable of thinking clearly.

Our first path should be to find ourselves a counselor with whom we feel comfortable where we can sort out our feelings and decide how to move forward. This may take some time. We must be patient. As we work through our feelings of hostility and pain we may discover that we have some portion of responsibility for the failure in our relationship. We have many difficult decisions ahead and we should not make them alone.

With the help of our counselor we begin to rebuild our shattered self esteem. Slowly, one step at a time we trudge back from the brink toward a healthier place. At first we have many days when we feel sad or angry. As time passes and we experience healing we have a few better days. Eventually we have many days when we feel at peace with ourselves and our situation. This healing process happens slowly, three steps forward and two steps back.

We practice self care, allowing ourselves to feel all our feelings fully, process what has happened to us and move forward. When we feel overwhelmed we take steps to soothe ourselves back into balance. We may call a friend, take a walk, enjoy a hot bath, read a book, watch a favorite movie or just take a nap. As we learn to care for ourselves we increase our self esteem giving ourselves the gift of a healthier, more joy filled future.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again


That may sound like something dreadful, but in fact looking forward to work is a blessing. How many of us come back from a wonderful, relaxing vacation looking forward to getting back in the saddle? Not so many, I think. Listening to all the folks out there screeching their complaints, vehemently issuing their opinions, positing their views, I think many of us are brimming with hostility. We glare at one another on the train conserving our bit of personal space. We sit alone in our cubicle or office sipping coffee waiting for the day to end. We endure our daily commute. Is this what we thought working would be like? Did we envision this when we went to school?

I used to be one of those people. For fifteen years I worked in the insurance industry reviewing and handling medical malpractice claims. I saw the worst of the worst... doctors who didn't have the skills to heal their patients, and patients who were so busy blaming everyone else for their medical problems that they took no responsibility for themselves and their health. One day I woke up and realized that I hated what I was doing for a living. It was like coming out of a long coma. On that day I made a decision that I would never again work in a job I didn't like or that gave me no personal fulfillment.

I went back to school and created a new career path for myself. One which fulfilled me as a person. Sure it was a lot less money. But if there is one thing I have learned in my life it's that money can make you miserable long before it even begins to make you happy. When I made lots of money... and I did make LOTS of money... I was a slave to the $$$. I couldn't leave my career because I had created a life style that demanded I continue to earn that level of income. What I realized was that I was far happier with less and capable of having a career that I love making less $$$ and loving my life.

These lessons weren't free. They cost me a good portion of my adult life, but I offer them to you freely in the hopes that you won't get trapped by the lure of $$$... keeping up with the Jones' and living your life shackled to your job. We spend fully one third of our life sleeping and one third working and commuting... that leaves only one third for relaxation. We might as well enjoy that third we spend working. Over the course of a lifetime, say thirty employed years, we expend about eighty thousand hours working. Let's make it something that fulfills us, that gives us joy, that allows us to give back to society.

Anyone can make money, be it large amounts or small. That's no accomplishment. Let's learn to make a life!! When you are on your death bed will you be wishing you spent more time at the office?