Tag Archives: relationship

Nobody Really Wants Intimacy

The other day a few colleagues of mine were discussing intimacy on a lunch break.  The one had his own therapy group that was focused on the topic of intimacy and he was expressing his distress in how often people sign up for the groups on topics like “anxiety”, “depression” and “grief” but few wanted to sign up for the intimacy group.

“People don’t want to be intimate anymore”, one of my colleagues said in response to his distress, “We’re living in a separate individualistic culture”.

“Yeah, a lot of people are just focused on their phones and technology now,” said another, “Nobody really wants intimacy”.

Up until this point in the discussion I was merely an observer, like a bird looking in through the window, but I felt an urge to say something to add my own two cents.  “Well, I think the problem is that people don’t like conflict,” I said, “and you need to be able to work through conflict in order to be more intimate”. 

Now, of course, when I say this I don’t mean that we need to have conflict in order to be intimate.  There are plenty of relationships out there that are full of conflict and the intimacy is severely lacking.  However, what I do mean is that by avoiding conflict, we are also avoiding more intimacy.

Contrary to what some may think, intimacy is far more than just sex.  Sex is just a mere expression of physical intimacy.  But there’s also intimacy on an emotional level.

When we’re emotionally intimate with someone, we are then able to share someone our true emotions.  Our sadness.  Our fears.  Our worries.  And even our anger.

By becoming emotionally intimate, we allow ourselves to slowly and gradually be more and more seen by another person. It creates more love and deepens the relationship.  The other person is better able to know us for who we truly are and we are then better able to know the other person.

This process isn’t easy. In fact, it’s terrifying because it requires us to be incredibly vulnerable.  To be intimate requires us to take down our defenses and expose ourselves with another person with the hope that this other person is going to react with acceptance and love.

And for most of us we haven’t had that reflected to us in our childhood.  We’re used to being judged and shamed.  We’re used to feeling guilty.  We’re used to not being accepted.

We’re not used to other people giving us a safe and loving space for us to express our emotions and to simply say something like, “I know that’s tough.  I’m here for you and I love you no matter what”.

I think this is where dealing with conflict makes things tough.  Because while we want to be accepted and loved by another person, conflict can feel like the exact opposite of that.

Depending on how we were raised, conflict can feel very rejecting.  We may have come to believe that conflict means separation or that fighting leads to the ending of the relationship.

However, the reality is that — and some people have grown up knowing this already — is that conflict is simply a discussion of differences and that it’s naturally a part of being in a relationship.

The reality is that through conflict, if we can communicate in a way where both people take responsibility for themselves and both are able to share their own genuine internal experience, we can actually become much more intimate.

Through conflict we have the opportunity to see another persons’s deep inner wounds, so we can better understand what makes them who they are.  We then have the opportunity to give them assurance that all is okay and that they are loved and accepted no matter what regardless.

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Click to Tweet: Through conflict we can see a persons’s deep inner wounds, which can allow love to deepen. @jenilyn8705 

So how can we better deal with conflict so that we can become more intimate?  Here’s a few tips:

#1 – Be aware of your own relationship to conflict

Are you one who avoids conflict at all cost?  Do you tend to believe that a happy relationship means no arguing?  Do you have difficulty holding the idea that a debate can be healthy and free of anger and resentment?

#2 – Track yourself

When a discussion starts to turn a bit sour, be sure to check in with yourself.  How are you feeling?  Are you angry or anxious?  Are you tense?

When we’re triggered and become angry, anxious, tense, or upset, this is when we are unable to think clearly.  We literally can’t process information the way we can otherwise because our nervous system is outside of our normal window of tolerance.  So it’s important to stop, breath and recognize that you’re triggered.

#3 – Recognize where the other person is and focus on the discussion

Does the other person appear tense and angry?  Are they saying things like “you always” or “you never”?  If so, then it’s likely that they’re triggered.

Remember how I said we can’t process information clearly when we’re outside our window of tolerance?  Well, when you can’t then the other person can’t either.  So its important to recognize that and know when to walk away and cool off. 

When both are cooled off, then a real discussion can happen.

#4 – Be mindful about language

If you want to be loved and respected then know that the other person deserves to be loved and respected as well.  So be mindful about your language by avoiding saying things like “childish” or “selfish”.  Avoid saying things that may imply trying to place all the blame on the other person because, realistically, it takes two to tango anyway.

So, do I really think people don’t want intimacy?  No, not at all.  I think deep down in our core we really truly do want intimacy it’s just that our own wounds and fear get in the way.

How do some of your wounds block you from intimacy?  What’s your relationship with conflict?  Share in the comments below!

5 Reasons Why You Need Boundaries in Your Relationships and Life

Have you been feeling drained, tired, stressed out, and exhausted?  Do you feel under appreciated, unseen, and unsupported?  If so, it may be that you need to learn how to set some boundaries in your life and relationships.

So why exactly do you need boundaries in your relationships and life?  Here are 5 reasons:

#1 – They give you a sense of self

When we don’t have boundaries in our lives it implies that we don’t have a solid sense of self.  We will tend to take on other people’s thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, and values rather than to have our own.  This is commonly referred to as enmeshment.

When we are enmeshed with another person it means that there is no distinct boundary between you and another person.  There is very little sense as to where one person ends and the other begins.  One or both people will then have difficulty identifying their own unique individual experience and how it differs from the other person.

When this is present, it implies difficulty in differentiation from a parent in early childhood.  This doesn’t mean that it is “good” or “bad”, as it is quite common for most people to have experienced it at least somewhat in their development.

Being enmeshed can be very stressful, draining, and overwhelming.  Relationships can easily get “messy” and a person can feel like they have no control over themselves or anything in their lives.  As a result, a person’s natural tendency would then be to try to control other people, which is codependent.

Learning to recognize our own internal experience and then setting boundaries in a way that honors our internal experience, helps us solidify our sense of self with the external world.  It also helps create less stress and more balance in our relationships.

#2 – You are able to decide how you want to be treated by others

When we have boundaries we are able to effectively tell a bully that we will not tolerate their behavior.  We are able to leave a relationship that isn’t serving us in what we know is in our highest good.  When we have boundaries, we are able to enter into relationships that do support us in our own personal growth and healing.

#3 – You are able to make life decisions that serve and support you

When we have boundaries, we are able to say “no” to that job that is potentially wearing us out by working overtime for little pay.  We are able to say “yes” to taking new career path without getting locked into feelings of guilt or “what other people will think”. 

#4 – You are able to make choices that are better for your health and well-being

By having boundaries, we are also able to make better choices for our own health and well-being.  We are able to say “no” to smoking that cigarette or having a glass of wine and, instead, say “yes” to having some green juice and going to the gym.  We are more aware that we’re going to feel shitty after eating that brownie, so we’re able to turn away and eat something healthier.

#5 – You feel empowered

When set boundaries in our lives, we feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives.  We are able to live for ourselves, rather than through this desire to please other people.  We are able to be in relationships that are healthy, balanced, and equal.  And we have the ability to create a life for ourselves that we’ve always dreamed of.

BoundariesConnectedControl

Click to Tweet: When set boundaries, we are able to feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

How will learning to set boundaries in your life support you in creating a miraculous life for yourself?  Share it in the comments below!

3 Keys to Manifesting a Healthy and Loving Relationship

We all want a healthy and loving relationship.  You know, a relationship filled with compassion, affection, and acceptance.  A relationship where there is respect.

Whether you are single or not, the desire, to some degree, is likely there.  Unfortunately for many of us, even if we are married or in a relationship we can find ourselves wishing that the relationship was different in some ways.  We may feel that the “spark” has gone away and we wish we could find it again. 

Fortunately, regardless of our relationship status, we can give our relationships a “tune up” when we stop to look within ourselves and consciously choose to make some inner shifts.  Here are 3 keys to manifesting a healthy and loving relationship in your life:

#1 – Have an amazing relationship with yourself

If you hate being alone and you’re self-worth is determined by how active your social life is, then you’re going to be giving off a “I need you to validate my self-worth” kind of vibe when out on a date.  If, on the other hand, you enjoy spending time with yourself and feel totally comfortable in your own shoes, then you’re going to be giving off a “I feel comfortable with myself” kind of vibe.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you do hate being alone and have a low self-worth that you’re not going to find a boyfriend.  The truth is that you probably would.  However, there would be one big problem: The guy has equally as low of a self-worth as you.  Which, would then create a relationship where both people need the other person to validate their own self-worth.

It’s a foundation built on sand — and it’s certainly not where one wants to be if they truly want a healthy and loving relationship.

So get comfortable in your own shoes.  Spend time with yourself.  Take yourself on dates.  Go to the movies, go to dinner or take a mini-vacation with yourself. 

Treat your body well by exercising and eating healthy.  Do activities that you enjoy doing.  Give yourself things that you know you need.

When we become masters of our own self-care, we are giving ourselves the love that we truly deserve.  So focus on doing amazing things for you, so you can have a great relationship with yourself.  It will help in manifesting that healthy and loving relationship you desire.

MastersSelfCareSelfLove

Click to Tweet: When we become masters of our own self-care, we are giving ourselves the love that we truly deserve. via @jenilyn8705

#2 – Believe that you deserve it

Many of us want a healthy and loving relationship, but, deep down, we don’t believe that we truly deserve it.  Or, we may even think that it’s not possible for us.  Unfortunately, this prevents us from making any kind of progress in getting that loving relationship.

So if you find yourself struggling to believe that you truly deserve it, make a commitment to reframing that mindset.

One way to do this is by saying affirmations.  Every morning or night you can spend some time standing in front of the mirror and stating out loud, “I deserve a healthy and loving relationship”.  Say this 10 times in the morning and 10 times at night for at least 30 days.  You may not notice the shifts right away, but over time you’ll notice a shift.

#3 – Ditch the checklist and, instead, connect with how you want to feel

We all hold expectations.  If you’re single and dating, it may be an expectation that the person you date has a nice car and isn’t working in retail.  If you’re in a relationship, the expectation may be that you want your guy to clean the dishes after he uses them.

When we get ourselves caught up in such expectations it’s like we are creating for ourselves an internal “checklist”.  We have a list in our minds of things that we want and “need” in order to be happy and fulfilled in the relationship.

Unfortunately, these “checklists” take us out of the experience.  It takes us out of what is happening in the moment in your relationship with this other person and, instead, focused on what the person is or isn’t doing.  It’s a way of rating or judging the moment, which blocks us from truly connecting with the other person and experiencing love.

So the key here is that rather than focus on the “checklist” or expectations, we must focus on how it is that we want to feel in the relationship.  Do you want to feel love in your relationship to this other person?  Joy?  Happiness?  A sense of calm?  A place of comfort in their presence?  How do you want to feel in being in the relationship?

When we focus on how it is that we want to feel rather than on the surface-level details, we can find that what we thought we needed, we don’t really “need” after all.  We realize that the “needs” were all arbitrary — and they weren’t helping us get what we truly wanted, which is love.  Rather, they blocked it.

So let go of your “checklist” of expectations and sit back and ask yourself: How do I want to feel?  And then connect to that feeling.  Feel it within your own being and carry it with you throughout the day.  And, eventually, your relationships will start to reflect your internal state.

Take action now!

In the comments below, share with me how you want to feel in your relationship.  Or, if you’re not in a relationship now, share with me how you desire to feel.

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members Around the Holidays

The original version of this article was published here.

Even though we often associate Christmas with a time of gathering with family and friends in a state of harmony and giving, we all know that’s not always the case.

Sure, we experience joy and love in the process of giving gifts and spending time with our loved ones, but it’s not always peaches and cream. There are challenges, conflicts, and arguments. These conflicts can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and make the holiday less enjoyable than we want it to be.

But there are things that we can do. There are 4 simple mindset shifts can help turn a potential challenging holiday into an enjoyable one. Here are four tips to remember during this holiday season to make yours a better one.

#1 – Accept others as they are.

People are going to do what they want to do when they want to do it. It’s not our responsibility to do it for them. Everyone is their own unique individual with their own personal power and responsibility for their own lives. If we try to push or control others in some way, then we are only going to cause more conflict not only for them, but also for ourselves.

So if you don’t necessarily like something that another family member is doing, then it’s okay to say so casually and calmly but then leave it at that. Let them take care of it and make their own choices for themselves.

You are also not going to change someone else’s personality or way of doing things – they have to do that for themselves when and if they want to. You can voice your preferences, but let go of the need to control or force anything because if you do you are crossing over into the other person’s personal boundaries. Everything will happen in the way it is meant to happen. Trust that.

LetGoControl

Click to Tweet: Let go and trust that others will learn and grow in their own way on their own time. via @jenilyn8705

#2 – Set your own personal boundaries.

If someone is asking you to do something that you don’t want to do, then tell them. If there is something that you would like to do, then be clear about telling them. Be clear about what you want and try to avoid falling into the whole “Oh just do whatever you want to do” response. Be assertive and clear about your own personal preferences.

That being said, also be aware of what you want to deal with and what you don’t want to deal with. For instance, if a family member brings up some topic to discuss that you don’t feel comfortable with then say so. Focus inward and take note of how you feel. Be true to that and voice that so others know.

#3 – Try to avoid the political or religious debate.

More often than not, when a political or religious discussion arises around the holiday table it ends up causing an argument or, at least, get fairly heated.  I’d recommend to try to steer clear of these types of discussions. If they come up, we can try to defuse them by changing the subject.  If other people bring up the religious or political debate, it may just be easier to go into the other room and find something else to do.

Most of the time, these discussions aren’t very proactive – meaning, it doesn’t really change or impact anything. It just ruffles people’s feathers. So try to focus discussions more on “catching up” and discussing experiences.

#4 – Take time for yourself.

Even though Christmas and New Years are very “extraverted” kind of holidays where there is a lot of giving gifts and dinner parties, this is actually a very good time to reflect over the past year and reconnect to spirit.

So get out a journal and reflect over your experiences.  Write out a list of new year’s resolutions. Sit down and read some of your favorite Christmas stories.  Watch some of your favorite Christmas movies.  Find ways to reflect and to really tap into that Christmas spirit in whatever way works for you.

Allowing yourself the time and space to look within and connect can really help turn a stressful and challenging Christmas into a truly magical one.

What are some of your biggest challenges this holiday season? What are some concepts that you feel that you really need to remember during this time? What helps you really connect and get into the Christmas spirit?

3 Lessons I’ve Learned from a Bad Breakup

It was December 26, 2011.

My bags were packed and I was ready to go.  I was sitting in my studio apartment waiting for him to text me to let me know he was here to drive me to the train station.

And I was the most nervous I had ever been in my life.

More nervous than when I got my first dorm room for college.

More nervous than taking my first 747 by myself to move halfway across the world.

More nervous than moving to a foreign country where I didn’t know any of the native language.

All because I knew that this was it.  It was officially over.

No more fights.  No more miscommunication.  No more apologies and making up over and over again.

The dust was settling and the chapter was coming to a close.

He picked me up, put my luggage in the trunk and drove me over to the train station.

As we rode over to the train station we mostly sat in silence.  What more was there to say?, I thought to myself, I had depleted my entire heart and soul trying to make this relationship work.  What could I even say at this point to make any of this better?

When we got to the train station he walked me into the station and walked with me all the way to the escalator that led to the boarding terminal.

At that point I completely broke down knowing that this was the last time I was ever going to see this person in my entire life.

I went through breakups before, but not where it completely ends with one person leaving the country.  So this situation was taking it to a whole new level for me.

We hugged and he said, “We’ll meet again someday”.

As I stood at the boarding terminal waiting for the train admiring Korea’s countryside with tears rolling down my cheeks, I knew in my head that it was over but in my heart I didn’t want to let it go.  I wanted a resolution.  I wanted to feel like there was some kind of actual “closure”.

I didn’t realize it then, but there are a few lessons that I know now that I didn’t know then…

#1 – We may never receive the closure we think we should get. 

Alright so you wrote a letter, sent a letter to him, tried to talk about it but he was totally avoidant about talking about any of his feelings, and so on but it still doesn’t feel like enough (I did all of these, by the way).

And you know why it doesn’t feel like enough?

Because deep down, secretly, we just want him to confess his love to us so then everything can work out and we can ride in the back of a carriage together into the sunset and live happily ever after.

It’s not realistic.  In fact, it’s totally insane.

Look, let’s be real here: When you were with him he showed you who he was.  He showed you his personality, his interests, and his quirks.  He was totally honest and upfront with you.  And, so, maybe he didn’t quite express his feelings to the degree that you wish he did, but there’s also another lesson you gotta remember…

#2 – We can’t force someone to change.

You can’t force a guy to express his feelings for you if he doesn’t want to.  Sure, maybe you got that sense that he has stronger feelings for you than what he’s willing to admit to (trust me, I know), but, honestly, if he’s not expressing it then he doesn’t feel comfortable doing it. 

Now that could be because he doesn’t really feel comfortable expressing his feelings to you in particular for whatever reason.  Or, it could be that he just has his own issue that he has to work on when it comes to expressing his feelings.

Either way, the bottom line is that you can’t force someone to change or do something.  In fact, men are hardwired to pull away when they are being forced to do something.  So take a deep breath and let it go, ‘cause the only person that you have the power to change is yourself.

ChangeYourself

Click to Tweet: The only person that you have the power to change is yourself. via @jenilyn8705

#3 – When we feel complete and whole within ourselves, then we can create a real and lasting relationship.

When we experience any kind of “neediness” — a need for closure, a need for him to express his feelings, and so on — it’s not because we really “need” that from the other person, but because we ourselves are not feeling whole and complete within ourselves.  Why?  Because we are not connected to spirit — the Divine, God, the Universe or whatever you want to call it.  We are lacking in our own inner connection to divine unconditional love.

Now when I say this I don’t mean that every relationship is going to work just because you’re connecting to pure divine love within yourself — but it will help you see things more clearly. 

You better know when the relationship is no longer in your highest good so it’s time to walk away.  It’s easier to forgive and let go of past wounds because you’re allowing yourself to be guided by what is in your highest good.  And you are better able to create and maintain a relationship that has more balance and is filled with the real love that you truly desire.

This is why I’ve created Ignite Love from Within: Meditations for Creating Relationships and a Life Filled with Loveto help you connect to divine love deep within yourself so that you can start creating relationships filled with love.  You can start meditating today with a free meditation from the album called Healing Blocks to Love.  Click here to get your copy!

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What is one lesson that you have learned from a breakup?  Share it in the comments below!

10 Myths About “Healthy” Relationships

As originally published on MindBodyGreen.

Each one of us carries ideas around about what a healthy relationship looks like or “should” look like. This typically comes from our upbringing, the relationships we see around us, and more. Yet these common beliefs about “healthy” relationships often create and reinforce stereotypes, many of which can do more harm than good.

While maintaining standards for what you want a “healthy relationship” to look like is a totally OK thing to do, many of these thoughts are just cultural myths that oversimplify issues most relationships inevitably face.

Identifying the relationship myths that we hold can be beneficial to the overall health and longevity of our relationships, as it frees us from making assumptions and helps us to live more in the present moment.

Here are 10 myths about so-called “healthy” relationships that many of us may have.

#1 – “Conflict means the relationship isn’t healthy.”

This is quite the opposite actually. The total absence of conflict in a relationship is more a red flag that problems are being repressed rather than discussed. By allowing conflicts to happen, both partners openly acknowledge and work through issues, which, by the way, are basically unavoidable in any relationship, romantic or not. In doing so, the relationship deepens and becomes stronger.

#2 – “We both have to have the same views on everything.”

Do we need to accommodate all of our partner’s needs 24/7 in order to be with them? Sure, but only to some degree. That is, we don’t have to agree or be on the same page about every single thing in order to have a healthy relationship.

Two people can have wildly different view points on things and still have a healthy relationship. After all, there are people in this world who have healthy relationships despite differing religious/spiritual views, cultural backgrounds, and political views. It boils down to a matter of both people accepting and respecting one another.

#3 – “A happy and fulfilling relationship requires having common interests.”

Though having some common interests can make it easier on what to do on a Saturday night date, it’s not an absolute deal breaker. What matters more is that there is a lively dynamic between you two, and one characterized by feelings of love and support.

#4 – “There is a certain criteria that all must follow in order to have a healthy relationship.”

This myth is the paramount myth: the mere idea that there is one ideal of a “healthy” relationship.

But when you think about it more carefully, doesn’t it seem obvious that there’s no “one size fits all” criteria? Everybody is different, and very complicated, so why shouldn’t our relationships be that way, too? Each of us has our own fears, desires, neuroses, needs, past experiences and more. That’s why we have to do what works for us and our particular relationship.

#5 – “As long as I really try to not do what my parents did, I will have a healthy relationship.”

The problem with heavily focusing on not doing what our parents did is this: We may end up trying so hard to not be like our parents that we end up causing other problems. So we must focus more on healing ourselves rather than to simply avoid doing what our parents did.

#6 – “There will always be romance.”

The romance may last a few years, but the truth is that it’s going to calm down at some point or another. It’s not something that is just going to always be there automatically.

#7 – “If I’m with the right person, I won’t have to really work that hard at it.”

Any one individual is incredibly complicated. So once you put two people together, everything becomes so much more so. I like to think that our relationships are assignments to help us grow and evolve. The challenges that come up during our relationships invite us to examine ourselves, and undergo some personal growth every single day.

RelationshipGrowth

Click to Tweet: The challenges that emerge in our relationships invite us to examine ourselves & undergo personal growth every day. via @jenilyn8705

#8 – “In order for this relationship to work, my partner must change.”

The reality is that we have no control over our partner or anyone else in our life. The only person that we have control over is ourselves.

#9 –  “Being in a healthy relationship means my partner is going to know my needs and meet them all the time.”

It is not anybody else’s responsibility to take care of you and your needs. Only you are responsible for that — just as your partner is responsible for their own needs as well.

#10 –  “All we need is love to make a marriage work.”

When it comes to marriage, there are a lot of things to deal with: finding a place to live, working with finances, deciding whether to have kids and, if so, deciding on how they are going to be raised.

Sure, love can be a motivator to get us to work through these things together but we can’t just say, “Oh, all we need is love” and brush the rest under the rug thinking it will just “work itself out.” All these factors need to be openly talked about and agreements need to be made.

What are some myths about healthy relationships that you can think of? Share them in the comments below!

The Key to Finding Emotional Support in Your Relationships

This article was originally published at HavingTime.com.

Throughout my teens and early 20s I often found myself drained and unfulfilled in my relationships.  I often felt like I was giving more than what I was receiving.  I often felt like I was the one searching for more connections and trying deepen and make them more, well, real.

I had a constant yearning for real intimacy, closeness, and emotional support.  I read tons of self-help books, went to therapy, and was always open to a variety of interests, hobbies, and views so I could make new friends to see if I could find anything “different”.

Despite all my efforts, I found myself feeling very frustrated and alone.  I experienced several spouts of some really unpleasant depression in the moments where I felt most emotionally unsupported.

I had absolutely no idea what I had to do or change in order to turn things around.  I had no idea what I had to do to get this emotional support that my heart had been yearning for.

That is, until a few years ago where I finally came to major (and difficult) realization that has completely changed the course of my relationships.  It is the idea that: Everyone, in this present moment, is doing the absolute best that they can do.

This can be a pretty tough pill to swallow — and it can also be a difficult concept to fully understand, so allow me to explain…

Everyone is doing the best that they can do right now given their present circumstances.  Every person’s upbringing, culture, life experiences, their health (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual), and so on is exactly what has lead them to be the person that they are today.

Yes, everyone also has personal responsibility for themselves.  Everyone has the free will to educate themselves and make better choices in their lives.  However, given their current level of consciousness (or self-awareness) everyone is, in fact, doing the best that they can do.

And so, considering that concept, is it truly fair to be holding a higher expectation of someone when they are already doing the best that they can do?  Is it fair to be wishing a friend would be more emotionally supportive of you when this friend has had no life experience to teach him or her how to even give emotional support?

This is where most of us find ourselves disappointed and unfulfilled: We hold a higher expectation of others than what they are able to actually give.  We can’t be disappointed without expectation, so it’s important to be aware of the expectations that we have for others and to be willing to let them go.

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean to have no standards at all.  I don’t mean to ignore your desire to have emotional support. It’s incredibly important to acknowledge your own feelings.  But what I’m saying is to let go of the expectation for the person in your life who you wish would do it but has shown you that they are simply unable to give it to you.

For instance, if your grandmother has never been the kind of person to give you a shoulder to cry on, then let go of the expectation that one day she will.  Let go of the hope that she will change and someday give you want you want.

Instead, acknowledge your inner need and look for it in other places.  Make new friends, move to a different area, join different groups where you hold a common interest — do whatever you can to find the people in your life that are in the place that can give you what you need rather than expecting that those who can’t will one day give it to you.

When we let go of the expectations that we hold towards others and accept them for who they truly are, we open ourselves to the opportunity to find people in our life who can provide us with the emotional support that we know we deserve.

ExpectationsOpenNew

Tweet: When we let go of expectations & accept people for who they truly are, we allow ourselves to have the relationships we desire. @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

How are others disappointing you?  What expectations are you currently holding towards the people in your life that are disappointing you?  What is it that you feel you need to let go?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

How to Deal with Aggressive People

Aggressive People.  We’ve all dealt with someone who is being pretty aggressive at some point in our lives.

You know, that person that interrupts you when you are trying to speak — or, they simply talk louder whenever you try to speak.  That person who doesn’t seem to allow your own point of view and input.  That person who you feel really crosses your boundaries and makes you feel energetically exhausted.

Dealing with people who have these tendencies can be quite draining and, without a solid balance of both assertiveness and empathy, can create a lot of tension in our relationships with them.

Here are several things to keep in mind whenever you find yourself dealing with aggressive people:

Remain calm.

The absolute most important thing to do when dealing with someone who is being aggressive to you is to be calm and grounded.  Whenever we are stressed, angry, and ready to really duke it out with them, then we’re certainly not going to make any kind of progress.

As the old saying goes, “You can’t fight fire with fire”.  So we have to be sure that we are calm and ready to openly discuss the issue.  This will not only benefit you by being able to self-control, but it will also help the other person calm down as well.

So when you find yourself in the presence of or in an interaction with someone who is being a bit aggressive, then stop and take a brief moment to take a few really deep breaths to get yourself centered.

Empathize with the other person.

When another person is being kind of aggressive, more often than not, it’s because they’re stressed.  Maybe they have a lot of work on their plate that is making them feel overwhelmed.  Maybe they are low on sleep or they haven’t eaten lunch that day.  Maybe they are still frustrated from dealing with the crazy traffic that they were just in and haven’t had a chance to “wind down” from that yet.

Whatever the case, it’s important to know and recognize that the other person is stressed.  Understanding this will help us to be more compassionate in any of our communications with them about the issue.

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Tweet: By empathizing with another, we allow ourselves to be more compassionate in our communication with them. @jenilyn8705

Express your concern.

Next, it’s important to express your concern with the other person.  As a stated earlier, often times a person is acting aggressive because they are stressed.  Therefore, it’s also important to keep in mind that, because they are stressed, it is very likely that the person is not consciously aware of what they are doing.  It is likely that they are simply just acting on autopilot and have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

Because of this, it is important that we respond in a sensitive manner.  We don’t want to aggressively say, “Stop interrupting me and listen!” in response.  Instead, you may want to try to make an empathetic statement like, “You seem really stressed” or “You’re talking very loudly”.  This will help knock them out of this place of being unaware of themselves and be more conscious over what they are doing.  As a result, it can help the person be more open to hearing whatever you say.

Next, you may want to try expressing your concern by saying something like, “I’m sorry, but I’m trying to say something and it seems like you are not letting me talk” or “Excuse me, but can I say something?”

Be honest with yourself.

Do you tend to be aggressive as well from time to time?  Even the most sensitive, quiet, and kind people can still have a tendency to be aggressive from time to time when under stress.  So be sure to ask your loved ones about how your behavior effects them as well.

Talk about it.

Depending on the kind of relationship (for instance, if this aggressive person is a romantic partner, a friend, or family member), then you may want to have a discussion about their aggressive behavior.  Maybe you can both come to an agreement about what the other person does when one of you is acting kind of aggressively.  It may be that you decide to give one of you a loving reminder by saying “You’re doing it again” or by giving them a simple tap on the shoulder or hand to let them know that they are doing it.

By talking about it and making an agreement with the other person, you allow the two of you to be more loving towards each other and you allow the relationship to deepen.

Take action now!

Think of a time when someone was being fairly aggressive towards you:  Maybe there is someone at work at tends to interrupt you or maybe your partner does.  How can you take better care of yourself in this relationship?  What can you say to them or discuss with them that will help make your relationship feel more balanced?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Ways to Stop Attracting Toxic People

A while back I found myself in a conversation with someone about the topic of being around toxic people — or, as I prefer to call it, people who exhibit toxic behaviors.  This conversation led me into a place of reflection where I thought back to what my life had been like a few years ago when I had absolutely no concept of boundaries nor any idea what toxic relationships were.

Up until a few years ago, I was so much most susceptible to people’s toxic behaviors.  I would often deal with people who were envious or jealous of me in some way, who were influencing me to feel guilty for doing something for myself, who were making judgmental or critical remarks towards me, and who were, overall, just downright negative.

Despite this being such a struggle growing up, I realized that at this point in my life I don’t experience many toxic behaviors from others.  It is as if I simply announced to the universe “I am done with toxic people!  I am no longer going to have any toxic behavior in my life!” — and so it happened.

Though simply making that announcement would be oh-so-awesome and oh-so-easy, it definitely wasn’t that simple.  There were solid action steps that I had to make along the way.  So here are the methods I used that will hopefully help you to stop attracting toxic people in your life as well:

Consistently set boundaries with anyone and everyone who exhibits a toxic behavior.

Every time the someone says something critical or negative towards you, tries to manipulate you in some way, or seems to be envious or jealous of you rather than supportive, then set a verbal boundary to let them know that you will not tolerate their behavior.

So for instance, if you’re out singing karaoke one night and your friend comes up to you and makes comment like “You were totally off key” then immediately respond by saying something like “I don’t appreciate your comment” or “Please don’t talk to me that way”.  If they continue to make negative remarks towards you despite your comment then reinstate the boundary again and tell them the consequences, such as: “Please don’t talk to me in that way.  If you continue to talk to me like this when I will leave.”

This can be incredibly challenging at first (trust me, I know!), but it has to be done in order for any change to happen.

Try to avoid feeding them any of your energy.

If a person is exhibiting toxic behavior, the person may very well not want to respect your boundary initially.  They may try to push you to a point of starting an argument or manipulate in a way so that you feel guilty enough to give in and do what they want you to do.

It is incredibly important to not give the person any of your energy when and if this happens.  Meaning, try to avoid giving their actions or words any time or attention.  This is important because, if they are continuing to try to push your buttons, it’s because they want you to crack.  They want you to lose your composure and argue with them because then they can get their way.

So when setting boundaries or making any confrontations, try to appear as calm as possible.  If you have any emotions that you need to deal with later on after the confrontation (which is very likely), then deal with it later through a relaxation method on your own or with someone who can safely support you, like a trusted friend or a therapist.

Create distance from people who tend to be toxic.

One very effective way to get toxic people out of your life is to, simply stop spending so much time around them.  Perhaps this means to minimize conversation with the person or to stop spending as much time with one another.

By creating distance from the other person, we are sending the unspoken message that their behaviors are not something that we not to be around.  Depending on your relationship with the person, this can be extremely difficult.  Keep in mind that just because you are no longer talking with the person as much as you were, it doesn’t mean that the relationship is “over”.  It simply means that the relationship is moving on to a new phase.  The two of you may become close again someday and it will be even better because of this phase — and, on the flip side, it may remain a bit distant.  We can never really fully know.

Recognize your own toxic behaviors.

This is incredibly important.  If we wish to be respected by others, then we have to be willing to be completely honest with ourselves by recognizing our own toxic behaviors and to actively change those behaviors.

For some of us, these toxic behaviors may be obvious while, for others, it may be more challenging.  If it is relatively challenging, then ask yourself: “How do I try to control other people in my life?  Do I struggle to except the decisions that others make?  Do I try to fix other people’s problems for them?  Do I, in some way, try to force them to do something that they don’t really want to do?”

Struggling with a need to control others is what many (myself included) define as codependency.  All of us struggle with this need to control others in some way to some extent throughout our lives.  It isn’t really a “I’m codependent” or “I’m not codependent”.  Rather, it is a matter of looking at it on a continuum or scale.  So for instance, if we were to look at ourselves on a scale of 1 to 50, with 50 being very codependent and 1 being very little where would you rate yourself?

Trust that things will get better.

When we’re in the midst of stress in trying to set boundaries with the people with toxic behaviors in our lives, it can be very difficult to see the “light at the end of the tunnel”.  We may find ourselves wondering why we decided to even bothered to start setting boundaries in the first place because it is causing so much extra stress in our lives.

I can assure you — it does get better!  So keep on doing it and, eventually, you will eventually find yourself in this comfortable place that is virtually free of toxic behaviors.

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Take action now!

Reflect upon you current relationships and ask yourself: Is there anyone in my life right now who tends to exhibit toxic behavior?  What can I say to them next time they make a remark to me that I don’t appreciate?  What other actions can I take in my life to cleanse my relationships of toxicity?

4 Steps to Diffuse an Argument Before it Even Starts

A few weeks ago on a Friday evening I wasn’t feeling the greatest.  I was really busy, stressed, and, to top all that off, sick with a head cold.

That evening, my boyfriend and I had gone out to get some takeout.  During the trip I began sharing some of my recent thoughts and frustrations.  One thing led to another and pretty soon I found him getting angry and us nearly getting into a full-fledged argument.

The key here is that I said nearly got into an argument.  It was weird because we didn’t really end up actually arguing.  Him getting a bit angry was as far as things went.  In fact, things diffused so quickly that by the time we got home we were hugging and exchanging “I love yous”.

How did I do it?  Well here are steps to follow to help you diffuse any argument before it actually starts:

Step 1:  Remain calm.

Whenever the conversation starts to get a bit heated and different views and opinions are conflicting, we tend to get very angry.  As a result, we can end up saying things that we didn’t really want to say or saying things that we later regret. When this happens, we are caught up in our ego (aka our fear-based mind) rather than our true love-based selves.

When in this ego-driven mode of being, we can tend to really hurt other people and, most importantly, ourselves.  So one way to get out of our fixation on our ego is to get calm.  Bring your focus back to your body and to your breath.  Take deep breaths and check-in on how your feel in your body and overall being — both physically and emotionally.

Simply making the effort to get and be calm alone can be an incredibly powerful tool, as it prevents us from saying anything that we don’t really mean or anything that we will regret later on.

Step 2: Let go of need to be “right” or heard.

The second thing that we often do when we find ourselves getting into an argument is that we experience this strong need to be heard and to be “right”.  This need to be “right” is also an ego-driven response.

Though seems completely contradictory, the reality is that when we let go of the desire to be “right”, it gives us more strength and power.

So let go of any drive or desire to be heard or right in the argument and allow things to simply be as it is.  To simply let it be, is to choose love rather than fear.

Step 3: Listen.

Whenever there is some kind of conflict or problem, many of us start feeling like we need to say something in order to make things better.  However, I must say that the older and older I get the more I realize that the opposite is true.

Let me be clear: We don’t always need to verbally talk about things to “clear the air” and make things better.  Many times, all that needs to happen is for someone to really truly listen.  When someone is really truly heard and another person really truly listens, this is where true healing can actually take place.

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But Jen, whenever I do that I feel like a doormat! Oh trust me — I totally feel you there!  That was like the story of my life for several years, but here’s the thing: We will only feel like a doormat when our underlying motivation is fear rather than love.  We will never feel like a doormat whenever we are in a place of inner strength and love.

So if you ever do feel like a “doormat” then sit back and ask yourself: Am I calm?  Have I fully let go of a need to be “right”?  If not, then take the time to do so.

It is when we truly wish to serve that we come from a place of absolute inner strength and love.  It is in those moments when we have truly disengaged from our ego and have chosen love instead.

Step 4: Wait patiently.

Once you have made the conscious decision for yourself in the previous steps to choose love over fear, now the only thing left to do is wait.  Simply allow things to be and allow the other person to process whatever they need to process.

During this time continue to hold this space of love and strength for yourself.  Also, if you did happen to say some words that you regret in anyway, then you may feel that now is a good time to apologize.

Remember to be open and receptive.  Don’t necessarily expect an apology or a reconciliation right away, as that will take you out of a place of love and back into ego.  But simply remember to be open and ready to receive so that if it does happen naturally then you are ready to receive it.

Take action now!

Think of an argument that you have been in recently.  How have these steps may have changed the outcome?  Is there any step that you feel may be more difficult for you to do rather than the others?  How will you handle your next potential argument?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!