Honest, fulfilling love is what we all want, but it’s sometimes so hard to find. I hear many of my clients struggle with the difficulties of finding the right partner for them. They’re feeling lonely or unattractive, hopeless or like outcasts. Counseling can really help you get out of that rut of negative thoughts. But there is also another innovative method to help you find, grow and maintain a happy long-term relationship.
Dr. Epstein’s Love Counselling
Dr. Epstein is helping to create a new proactive kind of counseling—Love Counseling—that will help people build solid, lasting love relationships supported by the Four Pillars. He has also created an innovative, comprehensive new test of Love Skills—the seven essential skill-sets we need to be successful in long-term love relationships. The test, the Epstein Love Competencies Inventory (or ELCI, pronounced like the name “Elsie”) is a result of thorough scientific research on what makes long-term relationships successful. It has been empirically validated with a sample of more than 11,000 people in the U.S. and fifty other countries. You can take the test free of charge by clicking here or by visiting MyLoveSkills.com. ”
Dr. Epstein also created the test that will tell you if your partner and you are a good match. The test is called “Are We Good Together”, and shows how compatible your and your partner’s relationship needs are. The test is based on a premise that if two people meet each other’s basic relationship needs, and if they also feel mutually attracted, they have a good chance of being able to create a happy, long-term, loving relationship. It is also free of charge and you can take it here: AreWeGoodTogether.com.
If you’re having trouble finding the right one, maybe you should check out our article: “Throw Away the Checklist“. It might help you reorganize priorities and get a new perspective on dating.
Do you see a cup half full or half empty? This question can seem trivial, but it actually can tell a lot about the way you see circumstances in life and, possibly, the way you feel most of the time. Research shows that people who see a cup as half full, a.k.a optimists, tend to have higher levels of happiness, perseverance, achievement, and health (Peterson, 2000, p. 47) compared to pessimists. Additionally, there is evidence that optimistic people are more likely to take proactive steps when it comes to their health, while pessimism is somewhat related to health-damaging behaviors. Accordingly, positive attitude is related to higher levels of physical and mental health, increased life expectancy, success at the workplace and better coping strategies.
Although pessimists would say that optimism is the same as denial and oversimplification, and having a positive attitude is dangerous because these individuals will end up disappointed and hurt. However, research has strong evidence against those statements. As a matter of fact, the behavioral patterns of optimists appear to provide models of living for others to learn from. After all, increased life expectancy and health, as well as being successful and happy and making people around us feel the same way is what really matters in the end.
So, if having a positive attitude is so beneficial for happiness, can we somehow incorporate it into our lives? The answer is YES, you definitely can.
Learning Positive Attitude
Becoming optimistic and training yourself to look at the bright side takes work and discipline. If you tend to see things negatively, it will take some time to make optimism a thinking habit. But once you do, you’ll definitely notice the change in the way you feel and act. So, what should you do?
Notice Your Negative Thinking Patterns
Listen to your words and your thoughts. The longer you listen, the more you’ll recognize negative assumptions and conclusions. Catch yourself doing that and try to challenge those negative thoughts. Do you have enough evidence to support those statements? Where you drew that pessimistic conclusion from? Try replacing these negative beliefs with positive, or at least neutral ones.
Give Yourself and Others a Positive Feedback
Give compliments. For some, it’s easier to blame others than to support them, but give it a try. Even if someone has done something poorly, recognize the effort and find something they’ve done well. This applies to you as well. When you accomplish something, maybe you have a tendency to tell yourself something like “oh, that’s nothing special” or “I was just lucky” or “everyone could do it”. This usually happens because you’re afraid that, if you take responsibility for your strengths and good actions, you’ll disappoint others the next time you fail. But this is false; taking a positive feedback is not dangerous, nor is rejecting it the warranty of protection of disappointment. Recognize your irrational beliefs and work on overcoming them.
Give thanks for small things in your life. It’s easy to get swallowed by difficulties of everyday life and forget about everything that make out life easier. But remembering to be grateful will eventually make you happy with what you have instead of being unhappy for what you don’t. Keeping a gratitude journal can be really beneficial, especially in the beginning of your practice.
Becoming optimistic can be really difficult and even feel fake in the beginning, but as time passes by, you’ll get better and better at this. If you’re persistent, you’ll just catch yourself one day naturally implementing positive attitude in your thinking pattern. So hang in there.
Research on what makes a marriage work shows that people in a good marriage have completed these psychological “tasks”:
1. Emotional Independence from Primary Family
Separated emotionally from the family you grew up in; not to the point of estrangement, but enough so that your identity is separate from that of your parents and siblings.
2. “Together” Space and “Me” Space
Build togetherness based on a shared intimacy and identity, while at the same time set boundaries to protect each partner’s autonomy.
Establish a rich and pleasurable sexual relationship. Work together to protect it from the intrusions of the workplace and family obligations.
4. Staying a Happy Couple With Children
For couples with children, embrace your roles as parents and absorb the impact of a baby’s entrance into the marriage. Learn to continue the work of protecting the privacy of you and your spouse as a couple.
5. Together Through the Good and Through the Bad
Confront and master the inevitable crises of life together. Learn to cooperate when times are hard instead of blaming each other.
6. Your Marriage is Your Safe Place
Maintain the strength of the marital bond in the face of adversity. The marriage should be a safe haven in which partners are able to express their differences, anger, and conflict.
Use humor and laughter to keep things in perspective and to avoid boredom and isolation.
Nurture and comfort each other, satisfying each partner’s needs for dependency and offering continuing encouragement and support.
9. Keep the Spark
Keep alive the early romantic, idealized images of falling in love, while facing the sober realities of the changes wrought by time.
Why Him? Why Her?
I like being around people who are in love. They have a contagious energy.
Helen Fisher wrote a nice article about how our personality influences our choices when it comes to romantic relationships. Among other interesting things, she says that “our primary personality type steers us toward specific romantic partners. That is to say, our biological nature whispers constantly within us to influence who we love”.
Here are some interesting parts of the article that explain different personality types in romantic relationships, and which personality types they gravitate to.
Personality Types in Romantic Relationships
- Explorers: it seems like traits of these individuals are associated with specific genes in the dopamine system – the propensity to seek novelty; the willingness to take risks; spontaneity; heightened energy; curiosity; creativity; optimism; enthusiasm; mental flexibility.
- Builders: individuals who inherited particular genes in the serotonin system tend to be calm, social, cautious but not fearful, persistent, loyal, fond of rules and facts and orderly. They are conventional, the guardians of tradition. Further, these men and women have fantastic skills in building social networks and managing people in family, business and social situations.
- Directors: although testosterone is often associated with males, both men and women are capable of expressing particularly strong activity in this neural system. Moreover, those who inherit this chemistry tend to be direct, decisive, focused, analytical, logical, tough-minded, exacting, emotionally contained and good at strategic thinking. They get to the point; many are bold and competitive. They excel at figuring out machines, mathematical formulas or other rule-based systems. Additionally, many are good at understanding the structure of music, too.
- Negotiators: traits linked with estrogen. Women and men with a great deal of estrogen activity tend to see the big picture. In other words, they think contextually and holistically, expressing what I call “web thinking”. These people are imaginative. They display superior verbal skills and excel at reading postures, gestures, facial expressions, and tones of voice. Also, their social skills are on top of the game. Lastly, they’re intuitive, sympathetic, nurturing, mentally flexible, agreeable, idealistic, altruistic and emotionally expressive.
Who’s Attracted to Whom?
- Explorers are attracted to other Explorers—people with many similar traits of temperament.
- Builders also gravitate to people like themselves, other Builders.
- Directors, however, gravitate to Negotiators. And Negotiators are drawn to Directors. These two personality types gravitate toward individuals with a complementary temperament. Moreover, these patterns occur whether one is a male or female. No wonder so many scientists and laypeople think that “opposites attract” while so many others believe “birds of a feather flock together.” Both patterns occur—depending on your primary personality type. I felt as if I had sneaked into Mother Nature’s kitchen and stumbled on her recipes for who we love.
Read the whole article here: https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/magazine/article/481/why-him-why-her
If you’re in a search for the romantic partner that will be right for you, our article “Finding the Person for You” can help you on that journey. Check it out.
Habits are a powerful thing. They shape our days and, eventually, out lives. Because of that, the right habits are incredibly important for achieving our goals and getting the life we want. However, habits are difficult to change. If you have some unhealthy or unhelpful ones, it is necessary to change them in order to change your everyday life.
Why Changing Habits is So Hard and How to Do It Anyways?
Shahram Heshmat Ph.D. shared a great article about changing your habits. It points the light to the nature of habits, which explains why they are so difficult to eliminate. Based on this knowledge, he also gives some great advice on how to make this process less difficult and to successfully implement some healthy habits in your life. You can read the whole article here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201602/why-old-habits-die-hard. Here are the most interesting parts of it.
- Habitual thinking and behavior are a result of powerful neural pathways in our brains, and memories that are automatically and unconsciously accessed; we get brain chemistry rewards every time we access those memories.
- Unconscious thought processes can predetermine, without an individual’s awareness, decision-making bias and actual decision-making.
- Emotions are the key driver to decision-making, not logical, analytical thought. Our logical processes are often only rational justifications for emotional decisions.
- Your brain will put up defensive mechanisms that will try to protect you from change.
- Because the brain operates in a quantum environment, our perceptions and self-talk alter the connections and pathways in our brains. Whatever we focus our “attention” on changes or creates new brain connections.
- Individuals should focus on desired new patterns of thinking and behavior to help employees change, not analyzing and trying to fix the old patterns because the latter will only reinforce the problems.
Do you feel overwhelmed with work? Are you constantly tired and under stress? Your boss is calling you to ask just one more question about the meeting, you’re checking your e-mails on the evenings and you can’t seem to get that huge workload out of your head? Well, you’re not alone. Many young people feel exactly like this in the 21st century. As a matter of fact, a new study shows that Canadians are feeling lower levels of satisfaction with their work-life balance in comparison with eight years ago. This is the same period in which smartphones and internet became inevitable parts of our everyday lives. Coincidence? Didn’t think so.
But let me ask you one uncomfortable question: until when are you planning to go on like this? Can you imagine yourself in 5 years feeling the same? If your answer is “Oh, hell no!”, then it’s time to reevaluate priorities and make some changes.
What Is a Work-Life Balance and How to Maintain It
Greenhaus (2002) defines work-life balance as “satisfaction and good functioning at work and at home with a minimum of role conflict”. However, expansion of technology brought a pressure for us to be available in any moment of the day. This makes your roles in the workplace and at home hard to strictly separate, creating the conflict between them. In other words, technology is making it difficult for us to unplug and separate work from home. Further, our private life is suffering, and we’re feeling stressed and unhappy. Eventually, it takes a toll on your physical and mental health.
So, how to make the balance? Is there a way to be successful and maintain a fulfilling career while having enough quality time for friends, family, partner, hobbies and yourself? Yes, there is. Forbes published 6 tips for successfully creating the work-life balance that’s right for you:
1.Let go of perfectionism – perfectionism was useful when we were kids, because it helped us stay on top of our obligations and get good grades. However, as you grow up, life becomes much more complicated, and in these circumstances, making everything perfect is often impossible. It’s the habit that works against you; the soon you learn to let it go, the better. This, of course, doesn’t mean to get sloppy and to stop caring about the way you do your job; it just means that you should strive for greatness, but not for perfection.
2. Unplug – Turn off your devices! Every time you jump to respond to that e-mail or the phone call from work while you’re at home, you’re sending the message to your brain that what’s happening at work while you’re not there is extremely important and that something catastrophic can happen if you don’t answer. But that’s irrational belief; if you stop for a second to think about it, you’ll realize it. But every time you decide to turn off your smartphone and make yourself unavailable for the next few hours, you’re sending yourself the message that your well-being and maintaining your relationships are valuable. Eventually, you’ll feel more in control of your time and your life.
3. Exercise and Meditate – Working out and sitting in silence are two incredibly powerful methods of taking control over your thoughts. If your mind is constantly shifting towards your work, practicing mindful meditation can do wonders for training yourself to stay in the moment and enjoy it. Further, exercise is proven to boost your mood; it’s an instant fix against feeling stressed or overwhelmed. If exercise and meditation don’t give you the desired effects that you were after, then don’t hesitate in trying an alternative method. People who are suffering from stress may decide to turn to different types of CBD products from a company such as The Cbdepot Shop (www.thecbdepotshop.com) to help reduce and control their stress.
4. Limit Time-Wasting Activities and People – How many times have you caught yourself endlessly scrolling through social media, and feeling miserable after that? Or you said ‘yes’ to hanging out with people who are drowning your energy? Identify the bad habits you have that are swallowing your quality time and try to eliminate them. Next, make a list of priorities – what are the things you enjoy the most? Then devote your quality time to high-priority people and activities on your list.
5. Change the structure of your life – If there’s something that cuts your precious time, try to reorganize things a little. You don’t have to do everything by yourself; this is the perfect opportunity to soften the grip around the need to control everything and delegate part of your obligations to someone else. This way, you’ll make room for your higher priorities.
6. Start Small. Build From There. – Don’t put too high expectations in front of yourself. Start one thing at a time; and reward yourself for every small step you make toward your goal. Why don’t you start with this list? Trying to accomplish everything at once and create a work-life balance in a short period of time would be impossible, and you would soon end up frustrated and disappointed. So, one step at a time. Moving slowly is completely alright.
Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing great. Take care.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become a character. Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.”
As we’re rolling to the new year, I have one very important advice for you: Don’t do new years resolutions!
Goal setting is a daily, weekly, monthly habit, not just for the 1st of January.
Have a spectacular 2010!!
Feeling stress during the Holiday season? Think about these questions from The Work by Bryon Katie.
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
- Then turn it around (the concept you are questioning), and don’t forget to find three genuine, specific examples of each turnaround.
I’m eager to share a link by Brendon Burchard, who is one of the leading speakers and experts in personal development and motivation. In his video, titled “How To Improve Your Relationship”, he discusses a few great points, which I’ll outline below.
One of the first key points he makes is that it’s easy for people to fall in love, but very quickly, they lose the intention of working together in the same pure way which drove the couple together in the first place.
To help us, he identifies 3 intentions we can make on a regular basis:
We are social creatures! Life is so full of distractions. We have conditioned ourselves to habitually disregard those around us. We are engaged with our phones, iPads, and everything else around us that so few of us have real connections.
One of the most heartfelt ways of giving attention is to be fully present. Give that person you’re with your full attention. Lock your phone away and Make eye contact.
As he says, take a few hours and learn to be human again!
“You have to have the intention to give extraordinary amounts of attention.”
2) Give more appreciation
Learn to make your partner feel appreciated. Giving compliments and practicing gratitude are great habits for relationships. Appreciating the things they do, as well as the things they don’t do. Unconditionally appreciating the person you’re with rather than showing appreciation with gifts.
“The magical part of a relationship is having someone you can pitch and catch with.”
Show more attention and appreciation to that person you’re with. It’s a give-and-take. As you both start to turn towards each other (phrased from Dr. Gottman), you’ll work together as a team, and feel more magic in your relationship.
As a bonus, here is an awesome video about how to improve your relationship: