Month: April 2015

Love is a verb, not a noun

Although all relationships start with a “honeymoon” phase where love feels like butterflies, happiness, joy, laughter- that doesn’t last forever. So when does it change? The moment both partners become so comfortable in the relationship, that they stop trying to make the relationship better, to be the best partner they can be, and to understand the other partner’s needs. We get stuck in the endless day to day activities and stop putting energy into our relationship. Each partner has their own needs, desires, morals, values, belief systems, experiences- no wonder relationships are so difficult- it’s like joining two different worlds together. And when we work to get our needs met in relationships, we often form damaging and toxic patterns- leading to continual breakdowns in communication- leaving each partner feeling more hurt, alone, and disconnected.

We all long for a sense of love, acceptance and belonging. So how do we start to renew our relationship, and regain the trust and love that may have been lost a long time ago?

  • Take the time to understand– Each partner has their own needs, sensitivities, triggers, pain, ways to show and receive love and often we communicate from this part of us, but our partner may not understand the why behind what we’re communicating. We aren’t listening to each other! For example, let’s say Jill grew up with an emotionally unavailable father who never said I love you and would distance himself from the family by watching TV all the time. Jill is likely to be sensitive to anything in her current relationship that may remind her of this painful experience. However, when she requests that her partner limit his time watching TV and say I love you daily- he may perceive it as nagging and get defensive and argue about it. If her partner could understand Jill’s past and understand the truth behind her requests, he could have empathy for her and it would no longer be perceived as nagging and it is much more likely Jill will get her needs met in a more loving way- where both partners feel heard.
  • LOVE is a verb, not a noun– This means it’s active- something you work for, not just something that is there. Spend time together- Intentionally! Plan a date night (even if it’s a stay at home night), whatever you decide- find time together. Often, life gets so busy- it’s easy to just go through the motions and become roommates/business partners/co-parents with your partner- rather than actually connecting with one another. It may not be about quantity, but QUALITY time. This means get off your cell phone, turn off the TV and do something fun, something the brings you together where you can increase your connection- remember being in a partnership is choosing to do life together- it can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding if the love is fostered and nurtured, not lost in the daily routine of activities.

How can I love myself more?

We live in an age where we get so caught up in our day to day routine and what’s expected of us, that our own needs take a back seat to everyone else’s. In turn, we are left feeling exhausted and worn out-trying so hard to be happy and be what others want us to be- we become further disconnected from ourselves and don’t live life according to what matters to us. When you look back on your life on your 80th birthday- what do you want to see? Is it possible to slow down enough to even acknowledge what’s important to you and how you want to live your life? Do you give yourself permission to?

In our culture, it has become “selfish” to take care of ourselves and put our needs before others. So, in turn, we find ourselves trying to be everything to everyone in our world and ignore the most vital person- you. As we do this, we begin to treat ourselves as the enemy- worrying so much about taking care of everyone else, we become our own harshest critic. Would you tell someone you love and care about some of the things that you tell yourself?

We set unrealistic expectations of what we think we should be and constantly compare ourselves to others. We believe that if we criticize ourselves enough, we will continue to be “motivated”, to work “harder”, to be “better”- only then will we will deserve to be loved.

As long as we continue to run this race, we will always lose. How can you stop?

1. Recognize your inner critic: Recognizing and separating yourself from the inner critic (the voice in your head that tells you all the ways that you are not good enough) is key. There is a difference between facts and beliefs/interpretations- just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true.
2. Create meaning and joy: Start acknowledging and aligning with what really matters to you, to your deeper purpose. If tomorrow was your last day, how would you want to be remembered? Now make a conscious choice to live like that TODAY.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others: only compare yourself to the former you. Any day we can let go of our old story and adapt a new one.

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