Most of us want to be liked by other people. It feels great to know that others think good of us. However, when we believe that being liked depends on how much stuff we do for other people and how helpful we are, that’s when the problems arise. People-pleasers know this issue too well – the inability to say no.
Helping others can be really fulfilling, but if you do it at the expense of yourself, out of fear or anxiety, it becomes an unhealthy pattern of behaviour that can suck all your energy and negatively impact your relationships. You spend so much time on what you think you need to do that there is almost zero time left for what you actually want to do. In the end, you feel exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, and even resentful.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Learning how to say no and not feel awful after is absolutely possible. In fact, knowing how to set boundaries is one of the most important things in sustaining healthy relationships with others and yourself.
Why Saying NO Is So Difficult?
In general, as children, we learn that saying no is inappropriate and rude. If you said no to your parents’, cousins’, or teachers’ requests, you’ve probably been told off for it. Over time, you associated saying yes to requests with getting approval and saying no with criticism. On top of that, early relationships maybe additionally influenced your “people-pleasing” patterns of behaviour.
You may have been raised to be a sweetheart who always took care of other children, especially if you were the oldest child in the family. An influence like this can lead to the formation of beliefs such as: “I am only lovable if I’m accommodating and helpful”. Or maybe you come from a family where providing emotional support was conditional and inconsistent. Thus, in the attempt to secure love from important adults, it’s possible you developed the underlying belief: “If I don’t do everything to make others happy, they might leave or stop caring for me”. Inability to say no can also stem from early experiences with highly-critical parents who severely punished their children, even for small mistakes. Such experiences can lead to beliefs such as: “If I don’t do everything right, I will disappoint others or be punished”.
Whatever the case is, your self-worth may have come to depend on things you do for others. This is a tricky thing because it forms a vicious circle with no satisfying solution. On the one hand, being unable to say NO can make you stressed, exhausted, and resentful toward others. On the other hand, saying NO might be a threat for your self-image and result in you questioning your decision, feeling bad about yourself, or worrying others will get hurt, angry, or disappointed at you. Either way, with this kind of pattern, you can’t win.
But there is a way to actually win, and that is – change the pattern. Here are some steps you can take to help you say no effectively and create space for a more intentional yes.
Step 1: Get To Know Your Priorities
If you don’t know what you want, it’s a high chance you don’t know what you don’t want. Identify what is important to you, and acknowledge what is not. We all have limited energy and time; decide where you want to direct those, and where you definitely don’t. Before you say no, you have to be clear that you want to say no.
There are, of course, things that need to be done, even if we don’t like it, like finishing that important but boring report at work. But there are also things that you are not obliged to do, like spending another two hours at work helping your colleague finish their task while you really wanted to spend that time at the movies with your significant one.
You can’t be all things to all people. Choose what and who the priority is, and invest your limited time and energy there. The rest gets your resources only in case you really decide it’s worth it.
Step 2: Know What Saying NO Is And Is Not
- Saying NO means you’re rejecting a request, not the person. Make clear to yourself (and to the other person) that you’re not rejecting them as a whole person; you’re just turning down their invitation. People will usually understand that it is your right to say no, just as it is their right to ask for the favor, and that your no doesn’t mean “I don’t like you” but simply: “Sorry, my plate is full/my priorities are elsewhere”.
- Saying NO doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Just because you say no to sacrificing your time and comfort to accommodate others doesn’t mean you’re unlikable, rude, or selfish. It means you’re thinking long term and saying no is a preventative act against self-loathing and resentment in the future.
- Saying NO is not a missed opportunity but a trade-off. Some people hate to say no because they feel like they’re missing out the opportunity. However, saying yes to something unimportant often means saying no to something important. So, instead of looking at NO as a missed opportunity, you can see it as a trade-off. You’re choosing the opportunity to do something you value more than the request. It seems like a fair deal.
- Your NO might be much less threatening than it seems to you. Research from Columbia University found that, very often, people whom others see as appropriately assertive mistakenly thought others judged them as being over-assertive. This effect is called the line crossing illusion. So, if you feel you might be confrontational, there is a high chance the other party doesn’t see you that way.
- Saying NO is a form of self-care and self-respect. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first if you want to have the energy to help others.
Step 3: Learn To Tolerate The Reactions Of Others
The reality is, with some people, setting boundaries will unleash some unpleasant emotions and reactions. There is a possibility they get angry or disappointed, especially if they’re used to you being always available and accommodating. Some might even try to cross your boundaries and continue to push to change your NO into YES. However, when you know this, you can be prepared to work to firmly maintain the boundaries that you have set.
Remember that you’re an individual to yourself and that everyone is responsible for their own reactions. Sometimes, deep down, negative response and unpleasant emotions of others are simply not about you. But even if they are, don’t overgeneralize and jump to conclusions too fast. If someone is disappointed or angry, it doesn’t automatically mean they will ditch you out of their life or think you’re an awful person. It means they are disappointed or angry in that particular situation.
If someone keeps crossing your boundaries even when you communicate them clearly and gets upset because you’re not ready to sacrifice your happiness for their comfort, it may be a good idea to ask yourself is it the kind of relationship you want to nurture in the long run. In the end, you want to surround yourself with people who respect you for who you are, not only for what you do for them.
Step 4: Learn Some Practical Skills For Saying NO
Here are some tangible tips for practicing saying a polite but effective no.
✔️ Express your appreciation. More often than not, when people make a request, it’s because they trust your capabilities or they like your presence. Thus, even though you’ll refuse the invitation/request, thank them for approaching you.
✔️ Be kind but firm. Being polite doesn’t need to lead to a YES. Simply expressing your NO with a kind tone can help the other person (and you) feel better about the situation. However, some people don’t give up easily and will test your persistence. In this case, it’s important to know that nobody can “make” you change your answer with their repeated requests; the decision is completely yours. It’s your job to set boundaries. You can be as decisive as they are pushy. This is a good opportunity to practice your assertiveness.
✔️ Give some reason if you want but don’t over-apologize. Some people find it easier to say no if they give a reason for it, and that is okay. If you feel more comfortable saying: “I’m sorry, I have something else in my schedule already” instead of: “Sorry, I can’t”, that is completely fine. Just don’t lie about it and don’t make up excuses, because that will make you feel even guiltier and possibly complicate your life further. It’s important to know that you don’t need the good excuse to say no – having your priorities elsewhere is enough. Remember, you’re not asking for anyone’s permission to say no – you already have the right to it.
✔️ You can take time to think about it. Sometimes we just babble out YES and commit to something we don’t want to because we feel pressured to give the answer right away. It’s okay to take some time to think about it. That way, we give ourselves the opportunity to answer from the logical and realistic point of view instead out of anxiety and desire to please. If you’re really not sure about the request, tell the other person you’ll get back to them when you think about it. Just make sure you actually do it in a timely manner.
Saying no is a new thing for many of us, and therefore takes practice and courage. But with time, it becomes easier and brings amazing benefits. You are unique, important, and valuable even when you say no to being everything to everyone and take time for yourself. Don’t be afraid to practice it.
What are your experiences with saying no? Share it with us in the comments below! And also, share this post on social media; some people-pleasers you know might be thankful ?
Smith, M. J. (1975). When I say no, I feel guilty: how to cope–using the skills of systematic assertive therapy. Bantam.
“Successful relationships master the art of apology”
– The Gottman Institute
There is no such thing as a perfect partnership. However strong and stable your relationship may be, it inevitably stumbles from time to time. Disagreements happen, careless words might be said, anger might be expressed inappropriately, insensitivity manifested, or trust broken. Whatever it is, harm has been done and feelings got hurt.
Making mistakes is what makes us humans. But when you’ve hurt your partner, knowing the right way to apologize makes all the difference. True apologizes strengthen, not diminish your relationship.
Obviously, some mistakes are bigger than others, and sometimes saying sorry is not enough. Knowing you’ve hurt the one you love feels awful. You might become frustrated when it seems like whatever you do makes things worse. It is easy to feel hopeless when you simply don’t know what to do to fix things.
Apologizing to your partner and healing your relationship involves more than just saying “I’m sorry”. Let’s see what you can do to effectively start reconnecting again after you’ve hurt your partner.
Offer Sincere Apology
Okay, this sounds like an obvious one, but it’s important to highlight what an honest apology really is.
Genuine apology is directed toward your partner’s hurt and possibly healing the damage your actions have caused, not necessarily on getting forgiveness. If your main reason for saying sorry is to get things back to normal as soon as possible and enjoy the beauty of your relationship again, your apology is not sincere and might even make things worse. Chances are high that your partner will recognize your apology as manipulative, you will get frustrated pretty quickly and things will escalate again, damaging your relationship even further.
So, before you apologize, get honest with yourself about why you want to apologize. What are you genuinely sorry for? Try to see things from your partner’s perspective.
Acknowledge Their Hurt And Don’t Get Defensive
When you finally decide to go to your partner and apologize, prepare to get uncomfortable. Your partner might interrupt your apology by describing how much you’ve hurt them and what they are going through after your actions. In this case, it’s crucial to let them speak and not interrupt them with your view of the situation.
“Don’t listen to respond, listen to understand”
Apologizing can seem scary for some people because it puts them in a vulnerable position. Naturally, following the need to protect themselves from guilt, they get defensive. However, for the offended party, defending your behavior and giving explanations is seen as trying to get excused from the situation and avoiding to take responsibility for your actions.
“Never ruin an apology with an excuse”
When someone is hurt, the most important thing for them is to feel understood. You need to show your partner that you are aware of the pain that you have caused and address it in your apology. Take responsibility for hurtful things that you said or did. This means that you won’t blame your partner for how you behaved and that you will resist the temptation to get defensive. Don’t minimize their feelings or question their logic. Remember, your job here is not to be right, but to help your partner feel listened and cared for.
Express Willingness To Do Whatever It Takes
Tell your partner what have you learned from the incident and list the things that you will do or change to avoid repeating the same mistake again. It’s important, however, to really believe in this and to make it realistic. False promises will only damage your relationship even more.
We are all different people with a unique set of traits and different needs. Thus, what you think is helpful might not be what your partner actually wants so to feel better. Instead, find out what your partner needs from you in order to find a resolution. It shows to your partner that you respect them and that their feelings are important to you.
Sometimes, even the one that is hurt doesn’t know what exactly would make things better. That’s okay. As long as you show them that you are there for them, that you might don’t know how to make things better but you are willing to learn, it’s already healing.
Be Patient And Don’t Push For Forgiveness
It’s understandable that you want your relationship to get back on track as soon as possible. But, remember that your main objective was not to get forgiveness and be comfortable again quickly, but to make things easier for your partner and start building trust and connection again. Therefore, give your partner some space and time to process all those unpleasant emotions of anger, frustration, hurt, disappointment etc. Don’t rush them through this process or blame them for taking “too long” to forgive you.
After the apology, it’s important not to act like everything is back to normal and nothing happened. Forgiveness is a process, not an event. Even if things in your relationship seem ok shortly after the apology, wounds are probably still fresh and you need to be patient and gentle with your partner. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your commitment. Actively show through your actions that you are willing to invest your time and energy to make things better for your partner.
Knowing how to apologize properly and meaningfully is one of the keys to successful relationships. However, it’s important to know that apologizing is not about accepting the blame for something. It’s about acknowledging and responding to your partner’s emotional pain that your actions provoked. You can, and should be accountable, but everyone is responsible for their emotional reactions too. It is not acceptable for an upset partner to be abusive, physically or verbally.
It takes an active part from both partners to repair a situation.
“I’m done with dating. No, really! I don’t see the point of it anymore”
Is this something you have thought of or said aloud recently? You’re not the only one. Dating isn’t always as fun as it’s made to sound. It’s a lot of time and effort put together. You spend hours of your precious time and energy on finding someone you’re interested in. It is followed by working hard on making yourself presentable and then taking the time to get to know that person. Most of the time, if not all, it turns out to be a dead-end and with that emerges dating burnout. We sometimes get to a point in our dating lives where our mentality is all over the place and we no longer know what to do. When this happens, we might need top level advice to help us get through our slump. Rick Reynolds, founder of Reignite The Fire, aims to help people change their dating mindset and improve their luck in the dating scene. It might be a good idea to take a look at Rick’s website if you feel that you’re suffering from dating burnout.
Signs of dating burnout
1) It isn’t fun anymore. What started off as fun initially is not so anymore. The dressing up, the conversation to get to know the other or the texting that comes after the date has lost its appeal for you.
2) You have had one bad date after another in a series. Your date was obsessed with his/ her phone, had weird habits, was drunk or could not get the conversation going, whatever the reason; it just hasn’t worked out in the last few dates.
3) You have been complaining about it for a long time. Your friends, family and even your dog are tired of listening to you complain about the horrible dates you have been on. You’ve gone overboard and maybe a friend has not-so-politely cut you off letting you know you’ve been talking about hating the dating scene for a tad too long now.
4) You get sarcastic and even rude on dates. Some people love sarcasm, I get that. But do you think you are getting more defensive, sarcastic and even hostile on your dates lately?
5) Dating = exhaustion. The mere mention of dating puts you off and you feel terribly exhausted thinking about going down that road again.
If you fit the bill and are experiencing dating burnout, what should you do to get yourself back on track?
1) Take a break
This is the first thing you need to do once you realize you are experiencing dating burnout. You need to leave the scene and mix things up a bit before bouncing back. Taking a break would ensure you take the pressure off yourself. Take the time to be around people you like and enroll in that hobby class you have been thinking about. Getting off the dating cycle leaves you with plenty of time to indulge in yourself. Take advantage and have a life again. Dating comes with a lot of pressure. It’s often when the pressure is off and you’re going about your life that you find someone you’ve been looking for. Once you’ve had your break then it’s best to come back into the dating scene by trying something new. This gives new excitement to it so try something like speed dating ( get more info here) or get yourself set up on a blind date.
2) Assess what’s going wrong
Once you have taken a break from dating and are feeling good about yourself, revisit the past. Look at where you’re coming from and how it’s affecting your present. Do you harbour unresolved issues from your past relationships? Are you really ready to move on? Are you trying to find your ex in all your dates? If you think your ex may be holding you back, it’s important to close that chapter of your life before moving on.
How do your expectations from your date look like? Are you going overboard in wanting someone who’s good-looking, rich, sensitive, charming and funny all in one? Well, that might be a bit unrealistic, don’t you think? Chart it out. List down your priorities in order. Think of the bigger picture and what is it that you want at the end of the day? Too many expectations and running after an elusive perfection may spell doom for your dating life.
Do you find yourself in difficult relationships which have a common theme? Are your partners all unavailable, committed, need to be taken care of, or take undue advantage of you? If you seem to be choosing a wrong partner all the time, you need to assess what is going wrong in the dating phase itself and set it right.
How do you feel about yourself? Do you take hours getting ready for a date? Do you feel you don’t look good enough? How you feel about yourself reflects in how you present yourself and that may be a reason for dating being unsatisfying for you. You need to be confident and feel secure about yourself. When you are content being who you are, you will start attracting the right people.
3) Laugh it off
Humor helps in almost all situations. Do you think these bad dates would matter a year from now? Five years from now? I bet you’ll be sitting with the love of your life telling him/her about these misfortunate dates from your past and having a good laugh over it. Tuck it in for a funny memory down the line. Laugh it off.
4) Don’t take it out on yourself
Your last four dates didn’t work out. Big deal! Don’t fall into the trap and feel like the biggest loser on earth. You aren’t. There is nothing wrong with you and no, you aren’t doomed to be single for the rest of your life. Haven’t you heard that slow and steady wins the race? Or how about, patience is the best virtue? You’ll get there. Don’t put yourself down.
5) Don’t lose hope
Dating burnout leads to the feeling that there’s no one out there for you. Believe me, when I say, nothing could be further from the truth. Set your sights right. Get back from the dating break. The love of your life is out there and you will find him/her. Are you just looking for a bit of fun or are you looking for love?
Who knows, maybe your perfect match is just a click away?
‘He is a narcissist. He can only think about himself all the time.’
Narcissism has grown into becoming a commonly thrown across word these days. But what does it mean and who is a narcissist? The word took its origin in Greek mythology where a character named Narcissus fell in love with his own image that he saw reflected in a sea. Thereon, it has come to signify self-love, selfishness, and arrogance. However, narcissism has many shades from an extra healthy ego to a pathological grandiosity.
Who is a Narcissist?
The unhealthy end of the narcissistic spectrum can be characterized by-
- A grandiose sense of self-importance
- Preoccupations with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
- A belief that he/she is special and unique and only other special or high-status people or associations can understand them
- Requires excessive admiration
- Has a sense of entitlement
- Is interpersonally exploitative
- Lacks empathy
- If often envious of others or believes others are envious of him/her
- Shows arrogant behaviors or attitudes
How to identify a narcissist in your life?
- He/she would be the one basking in the center of attention. Narcissists dominate conversations. They love to talk about themselves and exaggerate their accomplishments. They embellish their stories in order to impress their audience.
- Narcissists offer unsolicited advice all the time. They seize opportunities to demonstrate their superior knowledge.
- He/she can’t wait in line and hates it when someone doesn’t pick up their phone. They believe they deserve special treatment and want their needs to be fulfilled immediately. They live life with a sense of entitlement and expect the world to revolve around them.
- Narcissists have high ambitions. However, instead of working hard to get there, they believe they are destined for greatness. Narcissists believe they are naturally special and deserve only the best. They obsess over status symbols and belittle others who don’t quite fit in.
- These persons are charming till the time you keep the praise and appreciation flowing. But as soon as you criticize them, the relationship is over.
- Narcissists are competitive. They need to win everywhere, be it in a video game, office or a lottery. Turning out superior to everybody else is important to them. Consequently, they can never celebrate anyone’s success because it would mean someone else won this time.
- They are pros at keeping grudges since they take every criticism and disapproval very personally. If you insult them or criticize them, they will never forget it or get over it either. Most likely, they will take revenge either now or in the future.
- They never own up to their faults. Blaming others is a defense mechanism they use almost immediately.
- They lack empathy and take advantage of people by manipulating or bullying them.
What to do when there is a narcissist in your life?
Unfortunately, narcissism cannot be treated with a drug; there is no medication for it. However, being a personality trait or disorder, it can be treated with intensive specialized psychotherapy. But if he/she refuses to believe there is a problem and resists treatment, the most you can do is talk to a therapist about how you can make things work without him/her seeking therapy.
People who have narcissistic traits or personality are difficult to deal with and more so, to stay with. It is imperative that once you realize these symptoms in your loved ones, you sit down with them and show them some of the things that are happening in their lives and the reason behind it. If they acknowledge it, prepare them to see a therapist. If they don’t, you seek a therapist yourself to work out things at your end.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Do you find yourself sleeping earlier than your partner to put off having sex with him/ her? Are situations where you fake a headache or fatigue when he/she brings up sex often? Do you use kids as a medium to tell him/her you can’t have sex tonight because your child is sick/ needs you? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, no matter what excuse you tell yourself, you are experiencing loss of interest in sex in a relationship. Yes, that’s right. I am not blaming or accusing you, just saying it for what it is.
Sexual appetite or libido is variable. There are times when it is shadowed by other important events in life, while at other times; it takes on an overriding importance. Hence, losing interest in sex might just be a temporary phase rather than a permanent problem. However, regardless, if your partner is up for sex when you aren’t, it could spell trouble in paradise.
What happens with your partner when you lose interest in sex?
Your partner wonders if…
- he/she did something to bring this on
- you are experiencing a sexual dysfunction
- there is something wrong with his/her sexual performance
What leads to a loss of desire for sex?
Let’s get this thing out of the way first. Lack of sexual desire with your partner does not always indicate a sexual dysfunction. Men and women differ in how they respond to cues. Men are more easily aroused by visual stimulus while women require emotional or environmental stimulation.
There could be a myriad number of reasons for loss of interest in sex. Here are just a few of them-
- Stress – With the stressful lives we lead, it is not uncommon to lose interest in sex. When we are worried or tired, it’s difficult to find interest in sex.
- Physical illness – Running a temperature or battling a common cold also puts one off the mood for sex. Being in pain or feeling tired reduces the enthusiasm for sex. Thyroid problems are one of the most common physical illnesses known to dull sexual desire.
- Depression – Libido or sex drive plummets with depression as a result of an imbalance in brain neurochemistry. Not only that, but certain antidepressant drugs also reduce sexual drive.
- Relationship issues – Lack of communication and individual differences might lead to a reduction in interest for sex.
- Having an infant – Reduces sexual drive in women. This results from a lack of energy and time as well as hormonal changes and breastfeeding related body changes.
- Pain during intercourse – This is another reason for shying away from sex.
- Performance anxiety – Often makes men nervous and unwilling to have sex for fear of being unable to perform.
- Drinking alcohol – heavily also reduces sex drive.
- Hormonal imbalances – Can lead to reduced libido.
- Low-life satisfaction – The boredom of real life sometimes puts people off from sex.
How to renew interest in sex as a partner?
The first step requires you to figure out the reason behind the loss of desire.
Determine if it’s a physical or an emotional issue.
Further, see if your partner is undergoing depression, on any new medications, or drinking too much. Is there any physical reason for the same? Is he/she disturbed about other aspects of the relationship?
The second step involves:
- Talk to him/ her. Stay away from the bed while approaching the topic as it might make your partner uncomfortable and pressured. Ask a few basic questions to make your partner at ease. It’s important he/she doesn’t feel targeted or overwhelmed.
- Dig out the concerns. Ask him/her if there are any stressors that might be preventing him/her from experiencing pleasure in bed. Is there a problem with the emotional connection between you two? Are there any stressful issues?
- Give your all. Are you focusing more on your needs than your partners’? Does your partner feel heard? Is the way you are having sex enjoyable for your partner? Encourage your partner to tell you what feels good to him/her. Does he/she want to try out something and is embarrassed to say it out loud? Is a particular sexual act making him/ her uncomfortable? Be open and accepting of his/ her reactions and feedback. It might also be a good idea to do some research together into what you both like, this could rekindle some passion in your sex dynamic.
- Relaxation is the key. Sometimes sex is painful for a partner or they are too tensed to enjoy it. In such situations, it’s important to help them calm down. Prepare a warm bath for him/ her. Use lubricants or try different positions to reduce pain. Use candles and fragrances to make your partner use all of his/her senses.
- Give a compliment. For a partner who might be sensitive about his/her body, a compliment will go a long way. Tell him/ her how desirable you find him/ her. Praising him/her even outside the bedroom is helpful.
- Help your partner. If your partner seems under pressure or is doing too much, extend a helping hand. Wash those dishes, be patient enough to listen and support, walk the dog etc.
How to renew interest in sex as a couple?
- Connect on an emotional level. Sit down with each other, hold hands, and talk your heart out. Touch each other often.
- Let romance lead the way. Call each other from work, go for a weekend vacation, surprise each other with gifts, and compliment more often. Go for date nights!
- Foreplay. Women need this more than men. Touch her sensually, look at her, and admire her. She will be in the mood for more once you have started it on the right note.
- Follow your orgasmic journey. It takes more for women to orgasm than men do. Explore each other’s orgasmic potentials.
- Make it fun. After a while of routine, boredom sets in. Be more playful and adventurous. Try different positions, places, and set the mood going.
- Role-play it out. Change the routine sex into something playful.
Ling, J., & Kasket, E. (2016). Let’s talk about sex: a critical narrative analysis of heterosexual couples’ accounts of low sexual desire. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 1-19.
Wincze, J. P., & Weisberg, R. B. (2015). Sexual dysfunction: A guide for assessment and treatment. New York: Guilford Publications.
Do you experience stress on a daily basis? Do you often forget important tasks or where you kept things? Are you experiencing stress in your relationships? Do you experience difficulties in regulating your emotions? Are you having trouble losing weight despite having tried all diet and exercise versions? Are you striving to know the real you?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, this article is for you.
In the rush of things today, we often find ourselves multi-tasking. You may be talking to your kids while reading the newspaper, folding your laundry with an eye on the television, or calculating the monthly expenses while talking to your mother on the phone. Amidst all this rush to get everything completed on time, you may be losing out on your connection with the present.
Are you actually aware of what you are doing and how you are feeling? Or do you just go through each day without awareness of what is happening? Did you notice that little puppy wagging its tail at you during your morning walk or the fact that you woke up feeling a bit lightheaded? Or did you rush out of bed owing to the alarm’s buzzer and then went off on your daily routine without a pause to think or feel?
If this is how each of your days looks like, it’s time to turn to mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of consciously focusing your attention on the present and accepting it without being judgmental. Mindfulness nudges you to let go of the past and the future and be aware of only the present moment.
Often enough, we find ourselves lamenting on the past and wishing things could have been different or dreaming about the future. But in doing so, we let go of the present. Mindfulness helps us by slowing down the pace of our thoughts, letting us focus on each thought, in turn; giving us a clear head and helping us relax.
That is all good, you say, but why should I practice mindfulness? What does it have in store for me?
Well, here are 6 basic reasons why integrating mindfulness into your life is helpful.
1. Reduces stress
Know that thing which makes your heart rate rise, makes you sweat profusely, and unable to focus on anything with that unsettling feeling inside of you? Yes, that’s right.
The everyday stress and worry that hounds you all day can be gone with a poof with mindfulness.
Have I got your attention now?
Researchers now prove that mindfulness is associated with a decreased level of the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, mindfulness has been seen to increase positive affect and decrease negative affect, as well as anxiety. The research findings suggest that mindfulness brings about a shift in people’s ability to use emotion regulation strategies resulting in their experiencing emotions selectively and processing them differently. Another manner in which mindfulness reduces stress is by helping people with accepting their experiences, including negative emotions, rather than reacting to them in unhealthy ways like avoidance or aversion.
2. Boosts memory
Do you often forget where you kept your car keys or why did you open the refrigerator? Or forget about important deadlines or miss scheduled meetings? This is another problem mindfulness can help you with. We have endless deadlines these days and even with multiple to-do lists, it is difficult to keep track of everything.
Research has found that those who underwent an eight-week mindfulness training had a stable working memory unlike those who did not undergo the training. The memory capacity was also seen to increase with the practice of mindfulness.
3. Improves relationships
If you’re looking to work on your relationship with your spouse, family, or friends, mindfulness can help you do so. Mindfulness equips you with the ability to respond well to relationship stress, enhances your skills in communicating your emotions and protects you against the emotionally stressful effects of relationship conflicts. Research findings support that mindfulness is seen to predict relationship satisfaction.
4. Helps you regulate your emotions
Many clients these days come to me with complaints of being hypersensitive. They say they get emotional easily, and they would like to be stronger and not get upset so quickly. Mindfulness acts as a wonderful antidote to this. It begins by helping you recognize your patterns, like when you ponder on why your ex cheated on you two years ago, or when you find yourself thinking about how you are not climbing the career ladder as fast as your contemporaries. Mindfulness helps you recognize this repetition in your thoughts.
Then it helps you label this thought or emotion. You begin to recognize that you are having the thought about not climbing the career ladder as fast as your contemporaries. This helps you recognize your thoughts and feelings for what they actually are.
The third step then involves accepting these thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness helps you accept them without being judgmental while at the same time not resigning yourself to negative thoughts and emotions. You pay attention to them and experience them without responding to them. The last step involves acting not out of emotion or an impulsive thought but on your values, the place of long-term conviction that you hold. This is important because your emotions are ever-changing while your values are stable.
5. Helps you achieve your weight-loss goals
Have you changed your diet, started an exercise regime and still aren’t losing any weight? Mindfulness might help. A survey by the American Psychological Association involving 1328 licensed psychologists revealed that they find mindfulness training to be a good approach to losing weight. They reported emotional factors are important not only in causing weight problems but they also pose as a major barrier in overcoming them. Mindfulness training helps in training people to allow negative thoughts and emotions to come and go without dwelling on them. It focuses on enjoying the present moment. Doing so helps with weight reduction when teamed up with a proper diet and exercise regime.
6. Helps you know the true you
Mindfulness helps you go beyond those black or rose-tinted glasses and see the real you. It helps you analyze yourself objectively and also conquer blind spots which amplify or diminish your own flaws in your eyes. Mindfulness lets you observe without being judgmental and increases your capacity to attend to stimuli. It lets you get to really know yourself without feeling any negative emotions towards yourself.
How do I start practicing mindfulness?
Well, it’s not that hard. For starters, try to stay present and to pay attention to your physical senses and your surroundings. Here’s a basic mindfulness meditation procedure to give you a little push.
- Sit in an upright posture in a relatively quiet space.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your natural breathing or a word (for example, ‘Om’).
- Repeat it silently.
- Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment.
- Return your focus to your breath or the word.
Why don’t you begin practicing mindfulness and let me know the benefits that you experienced?
It’s so easy for us to stay connected with people, whether it’s someone we met on vacation or a friend who’s moved away to another part of the country; it’s no wonder there’s an increase in long distance relationships. When I talk about a long distance relationship I’m referring to any romantic relationship where there is a great deal of geographical distance between you and your significant other.
Here are my 5 tips for those of you who are in a long distance relationship now or pondering whether or not to keep one going.
Lesson 1: See It as an Opportunity
How your mindset is as you enter into a long distance relationship will play into how you either keep the relationship strong or drive it apart. If you see the chance as an opportunity to keep in touch with someone who means a lot to you, then you’ll do what you can to keep the relationship blooming. Use the opportunity as a way to learn more about each other and build a solid foundation for the rest of your relationship. Dr’s Julie and John Gottman from the Gottman Institute talk about building a Sound Relationship House in your relationship. And the platform for success is having a solid foundation – this means having a solid marital friendship, the common courtesy, and affection that is the basis for all subsequent interaction.
Lesson 2: Set Some Ground Rules to Manage Expectations
Usually, when conflicts happen it was because of either: a miscommunication on an issue, or the assumption that your partner was doing something and you thought otherwise. Taking some time and communicating face to face (if possible – can also be done through Skype) about how you both see and envision the relationship will avoid some heart and headache later on. Asking assertively questions like: Are you two exclusive? Is it alright for the other person to go on dates? What is your commitment level? It’s better to be open with each other about all these things.
Lesson 3: Don’t Over-Talk, But Connect Meaningfully
Usually, when there’s a great amount of distance between you and your partner, someone in the relationship wants to talk more frequently. Have you ever done the 5 Love Languages quiz? As you complete it you’ll discover that you may, or may not communicate love differently. Do you prefer to express your words? Does spending quality time mean more to you? Once you know your needs more clearly you’ll be able to make your communication time more meaningful because you can express what you need and try to address what your partner needs more clearly.
Lesson 4: Flirt!
Flirt with each other! When there’s distance between you no doubt the sexual tension arises, but that doesn’t mean your sexual relationship has to completely die. Although you’re not able to touch each other physically, have some fun playing with each other by either some dirty talk or by the occasional provocative picture (be aware of where those photos go! Or if that’s something that could spice it up even more, you could both have a look at amateur sites like https://www.nu-bay.com/). Not only is sex a biological need, it is an emotional one as well. Keep the flames hot and burning!
Lesson 5: Have A Goal
Ask yourselves some of these questions: “What do we want to achieve at the end of the day?” , “How long are we going to be apart?”, “What about the future?” These are the questions you two need to ask yourselves. I’ve often seen long distance relationships go on for longer than they were meant to, where one partner was comfortable with the lack of “real” relationship, but the other wanted something more meaningful. The truth is, no couple can be in a long distance relationship forever. Eventually, you may want to settle down. If you struggle coping with the long distance, consider attending relationship counseling to find ways of dealing with this.
If you can make a plan with each other, give it a try. Consider doing a timeline, making goals with end dates will help ensure everyone follows through on what they said they were going to do… which is coming together.
Long distance relationships aren’t easy. They take a lot of trust and communication. But, sometimes long distance love is worth it.
I was browsing through my Instagram feed tonight when I came across the profile of one of my colleagues in Atlanta, Georgia. One of his blog posts about self-love caught my eye, because many of the clients I’ve worked with have had similar issues.
Rather than trying to rephrase his posting, I’ll quote it for you. He says it best.
Chasing the Cheat’a
May 23, 2015
Solomon E. Stretch
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now and I just hadn’t been inspired, until one of my beautiful friends posted this quote to her Instagram feed. “Don’t let the mixed signals fool you. Indecision is a decision”.
Why do we play the fool? Apparently, everybody does it.
Why do we choose to waste our time on people who don’t choose us?
Now that’s a question for you! Seriously?! I bet it’s a pride thing, something that Freud would say stems back to our dismissive caregivers. I’m sure there was something lacking that our parents OR our first love (boyfriend, girlfriend, crush, or someone we casually stalked and never caught a charge for) didn’t give us. But us being prideful humans are determined to make that void whole- even if it kills us.
3 C’s of Your Addiction:
Control: Trying to make someone love you
Compulsion: Having the need to do all the things you said you weren’t going to do. Yup, you compromised who you are
Consequence: hurt feelings, wasted time, and you just might look like an ass
Self-love is so important. Clearly understanding your values, what’s important to you, and being confident with your own boundaries will help you create healthy relationships in your life. Be patient with yourself. If you don’t have all these yet, slowly work towards improvement little by little. Surround yourself with a supportive and empowering circle of people. If you don’t have many of those around, consider professional help.
Give yourself some love. It’s one of the most important things you will do in your life.
Never assume exclusivity.
Assumptions are one of those thought processes that can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication in dating and relationships. We are in the era of choices and, unless you ask, you may find that your date is also dating other people.
But how to ask such thing? Here are 3 useful tips for handling the touchy subject of “exclusivity”:
1. Know What You Want
A confident, assertive woman is feminine, and assure of what she wants in her personal life as well as her professional life. If you’ve checked off all the “green flags” you want in your date, and you think he is worth getting to know better, then that will lead you to tip number 2.
2. Bring up the conversation of exclusivity
Express to him how you feel about him, and explore with open-ended questions how he feels about you. If you are finding that he’s closed off and avoids the conversation, then that may be a hint he’s not ready to commit to only you.
3. Make a Decision
After you’ve talked about exclusivity, shared your desires, and listened to his responses, it’s time for your conclusions about it. Make your own calculated decision about whether this guy is worth seeing more of. Don’t hang around if you aren’t aligned, and pay attention to those “signs” you feel on the inside. A women’s intuition is strong and, usually, right. Trust yourself! The right time to bring up the subject is when you, the confident, assertive woman, knows he’s worth keeping around. If you are feeling good about the way he treats you, and the way you treat him, then go for it!
It’s too late when you assume you’re exclusive and find out he’s also dating other people. Feelings of betrayal hurt, but can be avoided with open communication!
Yesterday I was waiting for the bus to take me downtown for a meeting. As I was waiting at the bus stop, a lady walked up to another woman and asked her if she could use a free pass. The lady being asked, looked a bit surprised, as if she was shocked to have somebody offer her something like this. Those little acts of kindness can have a huge impact on people on the long run, especially in relationships.
Random acts of kindness go a long way.
According to research by Dr. John and Julie Gottman, the positive perspective keeps the ship afloat. In romantic relationships, they say that it takes 5 positive interactions to weigh 1 negative interaction. In other words, if the ratio of positive to negative interaction during the conflict was greater than or equal to 5:1 then couples were more or less stable and happy.
If you want to learn more about the 5:1, you can watch Dr. Gottman’s video here:
Have you noticed the 5:1 in your life? How do you feel after a conflict? Do you notice it takes time to heal the wounds?
Why not embrace the positive and share acts of kindness today!