Tag Archives: boundaries

Intent of the Day: Feet Firmly Planted

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If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.
We’ve all heard some variation of that adage, right? Much like a misstep in the waves will send us tumbling down into the water, uncertainty in our beliefs can leave us feeling tossed about throughout our day. While staying pliable and open is also a positive attribute, we want to have a solid starting point. We want the confidence of standing for things that are tested and tried in our own lives, knowing that we can still be receptive to differing opinions and change. We intend to keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.

You too? Here are 3 things to help you do the same: Continue reading

When No is a Complete Sentence

NOWe all have a right to say no.  Most of us are used to hearing this phrase in terms of drug use or consent (“Just say no!” and “No means no!”).  Many of us feel as though we are obligated to do things, or that if we commit to something, we cannot change our minds and back out.  This is false.  We have the ability to make our own decisions, and to say no whenever we feel we need to.

Saying no can be hard!  There are people that we want to impress, and a lot of the time, we truly don’t mind doing something for a person here or there.  There are some of us however that feel overwhelmed with how much we have agreed to do, and we find ourselves unable to say no.  Perhaps we want to seem like we are always willing to help, or we want to give a good impression of ourselves.  Maybe, we don’t even realize that our problem is saying yes to everything.  The good news is that there is always room to grow. Continue reading

5 Tips to Deepen Intimacy in Your Relationships

innersexyDeep connections, quality relationships – the experience of feeling seen, heard and understood brings us the greatest joy in life. Here are 5 tips to deepen intimacy in any relationship – a friendship, family or love relationship.

1. Ask for Help (sooner than you want)

Our attachments and intimacy with others are bred through our vulnerabilities.

The meeting of our vulnerabilities is the sweet spot. This is where we have the ability to truly see one another. The experience of being seen and seeing is called mirroring. Psychologically, it is the bridge of intimacy and forges a strong bond (attachment) – knowing someone else will accept and be there for you, even (especially) in your weakest moments.

Take a risk of to be vulnerable and open yourself up to share from the heart. What is happening under the surface of your life and the veneer of your persona? Tell your partner if you’re sad, afraid, hurt or emotional. Practice staying authentic and articulate about your emotional state and ask for understanding, tenderness or help.

2. Let Your Partner Take the Lead

In relationships we tend focus on ourselves and assume that our needs are more important than our partners.

Flip it. Just for this month, practice allowing your partner’s needs to take priority. What if their needs are just as (or more) important than your own?

Self-abandonment is not what I am suggesting. Assuming you have healthy boundaries, attune to what your partner wants or needs. Ask them. Let your partner take the lead. Where do they want to go to dinner? Where do they want to go on vacation? What do they want to do this weekend?

This is a Buddhist/yogic concept of expanding the definition of who you are to include the ‘other’. Widening our perception of Self to include another breeds understanding and union. Instead of using a relationship or looking at our partners as a means to meet our needs – we elevate into a selfless, giving, generous approach. Much like building a successful business or any join venture, ask:

  • “How can I help you?” 
  • “How can I give more?” 
  • “What do you need and how can I serve?”

3. Set a Daily Check in with Your Partner

Set aside 10-20 min. a day to tune in to each other in full presence (no cell phones or TV, please). A great time to do this is at night. Take 10 minutes each to reflect on the day. Listen athletically to each other and offer support or feedback. When you can manage, try to go to bed at the same time, cuddle and reflect out loud – What went well? What was disappointing or frustrating? What do you intend to create for the next day?

Practice gratitude together. Get in the habit of reflecting the positive and holding each other in positive regard so you mirror back to your partner their positive attributes. Encouragement and support changes our biochemistry. Consistency in authentic connection is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Commit to a daily check in.

4. Show Up with Fresh Eyes

See your partner anew. We evolve and change constantly. Our hopes, dreams and skills shift. When we’re in relationship, it’s tempting to view our partner through an old, outdated perspective – who they were, how they acted or what they wanted before. Give your man (or woman) the space, just like a child, to shape shift, change, learn and grow. Tune into them – ask them “Where are you at today?”  “What are you feeling/wanting/dreaming of?”

Try silently observing and allowing them to show you who they are. Open your eyes and your mind. This creates more spaciousness to feel held and supported in who we are authentically – today. Let yourself be surprised. Seek to learn something NEW about your partner everyday.

5. Breed Affection

Bring more affection into your relationship. After years of listening to couples in therapy, I can tell you – it’s often (if not, usually) the smallest things that end up fracturing and eroding a relationship. Know the little things that your partner needs, wants or delights in.

  • How can you show random acts of kindness?
  • How can you be more affectionate?
  • How can you sweetly surprise them and bring a smile to their face?

Gentle touches, thinking what they might want from the grocery store or reaching out sending them a text or a note at work in support go a long way in building a foundation and reservoir of love.

Leave a comment and share – how do you deepen intimacy in relationships with those around you?

Be Like the Trees: 3 Steps in the Art of Mindfulness

Learning to Listen
Learning how to listen to your body and trust in the information coming to you through sensations is so important. Over the last few weeks I’ve taken a little unplanned and unexpected break from my yoga practice. I rarely miss a day, so to wake up in the morning and feel like I didn’t want to go wasn’t an easy feeling to have, mentally speaking.

It started with just two or three days where I didn’t go to the studio. I felt that my body was exhausted and needed a break. Then I wasn’t exhausted anymore, but I didn’t want to go. It didn’t feel like an issue of discipline or laziness, I just felt in my body that I did not want to go. I wanted to write and sleep and do other things.

I decided to listen to my body and over the last twenty one days I’ve only practiced about six times. On the days when I haven’t gone to class, I tend to feel a sense of guilt or hear a critical voice telling me that I “should” go, but by staying mindful and returning to breath I’ve been able to remind myself that it’s okay not to practice somedays.

Identification Issues
Why was this even an issue? Well, it hit me in class today that I have been deriving a large part of my identity with the fact that I usually practice yoga daily. It also became clear to me that when we identify strongly with something that is external to who we are at the core of our being, whether it be a practice of some sort, our career, friendships, a hobby or talent — we can become susceptible to relying on it too much.

This new awareness is another reminder of why it’s good to take time to sit in silence and *feel* who we are. We are not our yoga practice, our job, our children, our guitar playing, our baking.. we’re not any of that.

I think my little break from yoga was my inner wisdom’s way of reminding me to not look externally for validation about how worthy I am as a person. I am valuable and incredible simply because I exist.
Period.

I don’t need to do anything else besides breathe and stand tall to let my light shine and contribute positively to the collective consciousness.

The Trees

About two weeks into my yoga break, while driving down into a valley on the 2 freeway, it seemed that the morning light was communicating in an act of reciprocity with the incredible array of trees that dot the hills of Eagle Rock.

It hit me so hard at that moment that I should strive to be like the trees. They stand still in confidence for the entirety of their life. The only practice they attend to is one of mindfulness.

They breathe in, and breathe out. They stand bare and naked in the world, bold in their beauty, while focusing solely on their purpose — to absorb the carbon dioxide and return life-giving oxygen to the universe.

They grow where they are born — on rocks, in fields, near freeways, on flatlands, the beach… they do not complain about their lot in life. They do not run away and relocate to escape hardships. Instead, they make do with the nutrients provided to them in the soil they were conceived in. They embrace challenges and remain rooted firmly into their place in life.

Trees are so simple, yet they’re each unique. They don’t need to perform or achieve or move to get your attention. We can all see that each tree is individually unique. They all look different and make us feel different things. Just simply by existing they are valuable and important to us.

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all be a little more like the trees?

5 Ways to Relax When the Temporary Guest Stays for Months Rather Than Days

relaxingguiltBy Ken Myers 

Sometimes it’s nice to have guest over and spend a few days with you, especially if you haven’t seen them in years. What if your home became the only one they had? What if your temporary guest begins to take up roots in your home making the situation semi-permanent? It can quickly wear on your nerves. In the event of family members, you don’t want to throw them out on the street because you love them. So, how do you keep relaxed in your own home when you feel claustrophobic?

 
1. You Time – One of the most important things you need to consider is finding time for yourself. This is true even if you don’t have guests and merely have a large family. There needs to be something that you can do or somewhere you can go that is only for you alone. It’s not being selfish, but it can do wonders to keep your mindset clear of the debris caused from over stressing about a full house. It’s important to have time for yourself regardless of what it is. Even if you can get away for a couple hours every week and hit the golf course by yourself, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

2. Setting Boundaries – No one likes their personal bubble being invaded. However, not everyone will tell the invading party that they are doing so. As time progresses, this buildup of stress can release itself explosively causing more drama in your life. Set ground rules and boundaries for your guest. If they know how far they can go, then they will be less likely to compromise your personal space.

3. Immerse Yourself – For many people, finding solace in the online world of gaming can help keep their sanity. Others can find this same solace immersing themselves within an enjoyable hobby. If it can take your mind off of current events, it can do great things for your perspective. The more attention the activity can draw, the better off you’ll be. Some people will find extremely difficult tasks that require a great deal of concentration in order to remove themselves from the trappings of the home.

4. A Second Job – If you dread going home, you might as well make the best of the situation. Getting a second job can give you an activity that separates you from that which is driving you crazy. This job doesn’t have to be anything too grueling since you are simply using it to keep yourself occupied. Not only will it give you more time away from the home, but it could provide a few extra dollars for yourself as well.

5. Volunteer Work – If you don’t want to find a second job, there are many organizations that can use volunteers. Eat up your time by helping others. You may find that you enjoy volunteering and it could turn into a habit for you. It gets you out of the house while providing help to those who are in need.

Having a house guest for longer than you anticipated can become quite stressful on yourself. Without a way to relax or vent this frustration, you could cause a great deal of problems mentally and physically to yourself. Find ways that can divert your attention and save yourself from unwanted levels of stress.

***

Ken Myers is an expert advisor on in-home care & related family safety issues to many websites and groups. He is a regular contributor to www.gonannies.com. You can get in touch with him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com. 

How to Set Boundaries for Healthy Relationships

originalAre you depleted, irritable or overwhelmed? It may be time to reset your boundaries.

Setting healthy boundaries is the foundation for having positive, fulfilling and uplifting relationships.

Many years ago, I “broke-up” with my best friend. I was devastated, sad and depressed. Like any other gut-wrenching heartbreak – it took me months to garner the courage to break up and years to finally surrender and let go. She was a dynamic, charismatic, gorgeous, charming artist. We fell in love at first sight. Best friends. Soul sisters.

But…she was a flake. A huge flake. Inevitably, our dates were cancelled with lame excuses. I put up with this because she was such a delight. First, I felt slighted, then irritable, then downright angry. Finally, it just wasn’t ok anymore.

I needed new boundaries. I communicated my needs, but she simply wasn’t capable of following through on our commitments. I had to break up. Maybe, (hopefully) we’ll reconnect someday…but I needed to grow strong, respect my needs and find friends who could consistently show up.

HEALTHY EGO = HEALTHY BOUNDARIES

Establishing and gracefully maintaining healthy boundaries is a direct result of having a “healthy ego” – nothing to prove and nothing to hide. This is a function of the 3rd Chakra (Manipura) – the core or “power center” of the body-mind. The 3rd Chakra governs our sense of Self. When we have a strong sense of Self, we feel positive, empowered and confident and naturally create boundaries that honor our needs as well as the needs of others.

Healthy boundaries are permeable, yet firm.

When we have low self esteem (deficient 3rd Chakra), we tend to seek love and validation from others. We may overextend ourselves or allow someone to take advantage of us. If you consistently feel depleted, irritable or inundated – it may be an indication that it’s time to deepen and structure your boundaries more solidly.

An excessive 3rd Chakra (defended and “trying to prove something”) results in rigid boundaries and aggressively forcing, manipulating or pushing our agenda on someone else. These are defense tactics of a “High Ego”.

Seek middle ground.

One of my favorite definitions of intimacy in a relationship is from Harriet Lerner’s book The Dance of Intimacy.

An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices or betrays the Self. Instead, each party expresses strength, vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way.

3 TIPS TO SET CLEAR  BOUNDARIES THAT EMPOWER YOU + THE OTHER PERSON

1. HOW ARE YOU GIVING TOO MUCH? ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED.

Are you abandoning your truth?

At work:

In a relationship: 

  • Are you allowing someone to treat you in a way that is disrespectful?
  • Are they not honoring your needs, even though your needs are valid?

To begin setting boundaries, you first need to communicate in a healthy, positive way. Avoid the shame – blame game. Get clear and grounded in what you want and need. Consider writing out exactly what you want in bullet points.

Approach the conversation from your most empowered space. Do a quick meditation before you approach the other person. Sit quietly. Get centered with a few deep breaths. Feel the energy rising up and down your spine. Call in your Highest Good and the Highest Good or Spirit of the other person. Visualize the conversation going smoothly and peacefully. Pray for clear communication, understanding and that both of your deepest Truths be served. Ask Spirit to speak through you.

Then, approach the other person confidently and humbly. Ask specifically for what you need. Expect that your needs are going to be met and that the other person will hear and honor you.

Finally, ask them what they need. How can you show up with more integrity, generosity and thoughtfulness? Think WIN–WIN.

2. DO CORE WORK (aka Mirror Work)

A good way to build your inner strength is through mirror work. Sit in front of a mirror, preferably first thing in the morning when you’re at  your most human and humble. Look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself:

  • I love you.
  • I want you. 
  • You are special to me. 
  • You don’t have to be afraid anymore.
  • I am here for you.

These are what we call the “Good Parent Messages”, which build self love from the inside out. We begin to mother or father ourselves and become the “inner parent” who provides love, support, understanding and resilience from inside. When you feel the source of love inside, you naturally stand up for yourself in the outer world, just as a parent would advocate for their child.

3. FRIEND  + FAMILY BREAK-UPS

Sometimes we have to shift relationships because someone is not changing and we need to create safety for ourselves.  See the first paragraph above. This is especially true if you are dealing with a narcissist or an addict. If you ask repeatedly for what you need and do everything in your power to uphold your boundaries with little response – you may need to eliminate or minimize contact with someone.

Ask for help, get support, find a friend or mentor you can confide in or reach out for professional help if you need it. Hold yourself accountable and responsible for creating empowered relationships that enhance your life – in work, romance, family and friends. As soon as you strengthen your core, you will attract those people into your life who want to joyfully meet your needs.

What relationship is the most challenging for you to hold your boundaries? Leave a comment and share how you uphold your boundaries.

Elephant in the Room: I Hate My Brother’s Girlfriend – Help!

«That's for you!!!»Dear Cora,

My family has always been a bit dysfunctional, but we’re still really close. While we didn’t get along when we were younger, as an adult I’ve developed a really strong relationship with my brother in particular. He is five years older than me but we both make sure to look out for each other and I often feel very protective of him. He had a rough time in his 20s figuring out what he wanted to do with his life but now he has a degree, is starting a great career and has found a sense of confidence in himself that makes all of us really proud of him.

 As excited as I am for this new chapter of his life, I am also worried because he has been dating a woman for a while that no one in my family can deal with. It’s not just a personality clash, but we feel she is devious and takes advantage of my brother. There have been a few situations where it’s evident she can be a destructive force in his life but whenever we try to talk to him about it he shuts us down. None of us want to put him in a situation where he has to choose between his girlfriend and his family but it is increasingly difficult to be around them without letting her drama affect our lives as well. How does the rest of my family and I continue to have a relationship with my brother while keeping peace with his girlfriend?

 Sincerely,

The Sister

~

Dear Sister,

Oh, siblings. They are some of the most complicated relationships within the family unit because half the time you can’t decide if you want to strangle or hug them. I’m glad to hear that you and your brother have managed to create a strong bond, because despite all the headaches, a good sibling relationship is one that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Whenever people ask me about problems that involve a relationship triangle (even if it’s not romantic) my first piece of advice is try to look at the situation through the eyes of the person in the middle. They are the person in the most difficult position and the only way to come up with an amiable solution is to find the one that best fits their needs. They’re in the middle because there are two opposing sides that care deeply for them, so the most logical thing to conclude is that both sides would want – or at least be more willing to consider – the solution that best benefits the person you care about.

In your case that’s your brother. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, it sounds as if his girlfriend had something to do with this change he’s made in his life. Ultimately, he was the one who figured things out and got his life on track but she was there for the journey (or at least part of it depending on how long they’ve been dating). That shouldn’t go without credit. If your brother feels that she encourages him to be a better version of himself then it could explain why he wants to stay with her despite the negative things your family has noticed.

I’m glad I don’t have to explain that trying to make him choose between his girlfriend and your family is a bad idea. When you push someone to choose, even when you’re convinced it’s the right thing for them, all they do is end up resenting you for forcing the choice and most likely pick the opposite side. He does not want to choose as much as you don’t want to make him, remember that as you try to navigate the situation.

My first suggestion is to try and have an honest, all-out discussion with your family, your brother and his girlfriend to see if there is a way to find some middle ground. Sometimes things you have conceived as devious or malicious can be a misunderstanding and having an open conversation can help clear up those feelings. If that is not an option though, move on to stage two.

The best strategy when trying to handle family disputes is to establish boundaries. While you can’t alienate his girlfriend from your life completely without risking the relationship you have with your brother, you can create safe spaces. If being around her causes you to lose your temper or get aggravated then I suggest start with your home. That is your space and you are allowed to block out any influences you don’t want there. Note: if you make it a rule that his girlfriend is physically not allowed in your house that means mentally she isn’t allowed over either. So if your brother comes to visit without her that is not a time for you to try and bad-mouth her and convince him to leave her. If he has to keep her out of the house, so do you.

You are going to have to share space with her at some points though. There will be commonplace celebrations, birthdays, holidays etc. where you cannot exclude her. For these, practice being civil. Get yourself a peace mantra (my favorite is Gabrielle Bernstein’s “Peace begins with you”) that you can mutter under your breath to help stay calm if you feel your temper rising or when you feel the urge to say something antagonistic. You mentioned “a few situations” in your letter – make a rule that at these all-together gatherings that those situations are not to be discussed. If she’s spending time with your family, who she knows don’t have positive feelings about her, it’ll be easy for her to feel attacked and lash out so it’s your job to avoid topics that create extra friction between your two sides.

These are essentially coping methods for a situation that doesn’t have a pleasant answer. The only way to truly heal is to have that honest conversation, and for both sides to agree to do the work they need to do for the benefit of the person in the middle. I hope you all manage to get there.

Best wishes,

Cora

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avatar-NO-BKCGRNDSubmit your questions, troubles, and predicaments to Cora via editor [at] intent [dot] com or in the comments section below. The Elephant in the Room advice column will be published every Friday – a blend of humor, compassion, and wisdom specially tailored for our Intent audience.

Elephant in the Room: How to Get More Respect from Family

22/365 - Doing the DishesDear Cora,

I am from India and am wondering what shall I do when my family people keep on nagging me to do something? For example, if I am cooking, my mother may ask me to go to a relative’s house. If I explain that they are not close to me or I will go at some other time she will never stop and keeps on insisting. Most of the times I try to avoid the conversation and focus on my work, but she will follow me wherever I go and she won’t stop until I obey her. I face this kind of behavior from most of my family people. I don’t know how to handle them and keep my life cordial and happy. Please help.

Thanks,
Family Girl

~

Dear Family Girl,

Thank you so much for your question. Family troubles are trickier than most because there is no escape option – you have to deal with it head on and you have to face the consequences that are sometimes long and arduous. However, that also works in your favor because for the most part it means your family is still going to be there no matter what you do.

I grew up with a very strict former-military father. My older brother and I were the only children in the house, and because I was the girl I got the most strenuous attention. He used to watch me cross the street until I was 15 to make sure I got to the other side all right. I got my driver’s license three years after the rest of my friends because his rules about when I could drive, how I could drive and who I could drive with were so ridiculous it just wasn’t worth it. “It’s just because he loves you so much,” my mother would say to try and comfort me, but it didn’t feel like love – it felt like strangulation.

It continued into college. For my 21st birthday I wanted to go out with my friends at midnight to have my first legal drink at a bar. He invited himself to go along and said I could hang out with them by myself the next day. This was the final straw in a very large pile of straws. As intimidating as my father was/is I sat him down and told him plainly that the “midnight drink” was a rite of passage – one that parents are not included to partake in and he needed to let me do it by myself. You would have thought I had run over his childhood puppy, and I felt horrible, but it needed to be done. I went out with my friends and had a good time, he joined us the next day and it was great.

From what I’ve learned about Indian culture, family is often very important, and part of honoring that means respecting your elders. However, I think that your family pesters you to do all of these things because they know they can get you to do them. That’s not to say it’s your fault, but it is only you who can make them stop. And the answer is simple – you literally tell them to stop.

There is a respectful way to do it. You don’t have to raise your voice or get angry, but you have every right to use the word “No.” Don’t give them an excuse or promise to do it later, tell them no and stick to it. It will be shocking at first, and you may have to have the conversation several times (just last month I had to remind my father that as a fully-grown adult I can travel to visit whomever I want without him flying out to inspect my car before I did it). This is an exercise in empowering yourself. Be prepared for hurt feelings and for them to say things that will make you feel guilty – don’t cave. This is also an exercise for them in learning to respect you and your personal time more and you are going to lead by example.

No matter how uncomfortable it is at first, if you stick to your guns the end result will be your own peace of mind and a family that knows they can’t take advantage of your kind nature and willingness to be helpful. They’ll have to get used to it and in the long run I think you’ll feel much better.

Best wishes,
Cora

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avatar-NO-BKCGRNDSubmit your questions, troubles, and predicaments to Cora via editor [at] intent [dot] com or in the comments section below. The Elephant in the Room advice column will be published every Friday – a blend of humor, compassion, and wisdom specially tailored for our Intent audience.

Joan and Melissa Rivers Demonstrate How to Live with Difficult People

What would you do if your mother moved in with you? What if your mother were… oh… say… Joan Rivers? Melissa vented some of her feelings here on HuffPost. She called me to get coaching on how to navigate the wild waters of living under the same roof with her Mom. Fireworks ensued when I worked with them on "Joan Knows Best."

If you have challenging folks anywhere in your vicinity here are some tips, research and tools:

It’s Not About You, Baby.

"The best way to have a great mother daughter relationship is to… have a gay son." — Joan Rivers.

Ouch. A lot of what Joan says about Melissa is easy to interpret as, "You don’t appreciate me. You’re not a great daughter." If you have a parent, that might ring true for you. It does for me sometimes.

Here’s What I Told Melissa:
When someone is tired, upset or stressed (translation: human) they direct their own negative emotions at other people. Usually, they take aim at those they love. Why? Strangers wouldn’t put up with it. Those negative outbursts have nothing to do with you. It is easier to dump than to deal — particularly when you are in a hurry. (The Rivers’s life is a blur of busy. When time is crunched nerves are more tender.) I bet you can relate; I sure can.

For All of Us:
It takes great courage and time to reflect to unravel the knot of the buried deeper issue. Those negative outbursts have nothing to do with you. You don’t need to fan the flames by defending yourself. If you can have the perspective that everyone is doing their best (Translation: They have a good reason for what they are doing regardless of how cruddy it looks to you), you can rise to a powerful vantage point: compassion.

The Research:
Davis & Oathout, researched the positive effects of compassion on long-term relationship satisfaction. Numerous studies show that relationships thrive since compassion and forgiveness allow each person to drop negative issues and look at things from the other person’s perspective.

Turnaround Technique:
Take some deep breaths. Stand up. Walk around. This will help you shake off your reaction. Say the word funky five times to vent, and fabulous five times. (Sure, it sounds crazy, but this NLP pattern interrupt will help you keep your equilibrium.) Use this strategy you disconnect from your reaction and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. As I saw with Joan and Melissa, the person that behaved badly will often apologize later.

If You See… It You Be It:

"Everyone has boundaries…I just choose to ignore yours." — Joan Rivers.

What a breeze life would be if all the issues had nothing to do with us. Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy? Darn. I wish it were that easy myself. Since we human beings are complex, there’s a flipside to Number One. Here’s how it works. When someone irritates you your feelings are motivated by your own insecurities.

Here’s What I Told Joan:
Joan loves structure. You don’t get to be 78 with a rip roaring career without a great deal of rigorous discipline. Joan complained that Melissa did not run a "tight ship." (My experience with Melissa and her team was that every detail was handled with the precision of the Swiss rail system.) Even though Joan said she wanted order — she was the person creating the chaos. Joan’s behavior was making it impossible to run a "tight ship." I reminded Joan that she gleefully tested boundaries… like cursing in front of her grandchild or giving some of Melissa’s furniture away and redecorating the living room without Melissa’s knowledge. If she really did want a better relationship with her daughter, she needed new behaviors. Initially, Joan claimed that "I’m 78 this is the way I am!" It took some doing, but I convinced Joan to use this situation to learn some new tricks.

For All of Us:
A difficult person can help you see and grow parts that you can’t see on your own. So, guess what? Challenges are an invitation to grow new capabilities. Using the situation to grow is key.

The Research:
Carol Dweck, Ph.D. at Stanford documented that people are reluctant to take on challenges if they believe the results were based on innate abilities. In her book, "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success," she saw that people with a mindset focused on growth believe that they can learn, change and develop new skills. Her studies show that people who use experiences to learn are better equipped to handle challenges and accomplish their goals.

Turnaround Technique:
If you are irritated by another person, tough as it is, remember that they are doing you a favor. They are giving you a road map to show you where your insecurities are hiding. You can use that as a guide to what skill to build. Here is your GPS: Every word of complaining about them is you critiquing yourself. It’s easier to give everyone more leeway when you remember, "If you see it…You be it."

The Secret Game Changer:

"You are my Cesar Milan." — Joan Rivers

When we slap up next to someone that is, as my Mom terms "an irritant" — we want to run, hide or fight. It is our natural fight or flight response. How do you take a quantum leap — and not react? Is there a trick to get our brain to find a new pathway to handle a tough situation differently?

Surprise!:
You have a natural building block of learning, and developing new behaviors. It is highly likely that like the rest of us you have poo pooed it. Brain researchers, like Neil Greenberg, Ph.D., suggest that problem solving requires rich neurological connections between different areas of the brain. When does the brain naturally create those pathways? When we are at play. Yep. Play.

What I Told Joan and Melissa:
When the going gets tough… the smart start… playing. When you actively engage your strengths (play) to build new habits, you can jump into a new skill set faster. Both she and Melissa are very savvy business women. Joan loves money, so it has her attention. I had them play my game "Pay Yourself To Pay Attention" to become aware of and then change their criticism of one another. One jar was negative. One jar was positive. Joan and Melissa physically put money in one of the jars for every negative or positive comment they made.
It was so effective that they used the game to lower the use of expletives around the house and created a Swear Jar.

For All of Us:
Instead of reacting, use the power of play to create a new response. The faster you can spot a negative reaction the easier time you have not letting it affect your equilibrium. By harnessing the state of play your brain goes into a natural state of problem solving, creativity and even emotional bonding.

Research:
In my book, "Funky to Fabulous," I explored the connection between playfulness and how it makes the brain more pliable and open to new information. Dr. Paul McLean, through his work at Yale Medical School and the National Institute of Mental Health, found that play was one of the nicest things evolution did for us.

Turnaround Technique:
Pay Yourself To Pay Attention. Give yourself a point every time you have a negative thought or positive thought. (You can use post-its if you want to write it down.) Watch how fast you are able to have a new way of relating.

Who is the most difficult person in your life? What are some of the ways that you deal with difficult people? What advice do you have to help others with an "irritant"?

You can receive notice of my blogs by checking Become a Fan at the top. Ask Eli a question at info@elidavidson.com or go to www.elidavidson.com today.

Eli Davidson is a nationally recognized motivational speaker and executive coach. Her book, "Funky to Fabulous: Surefire Success Stories for the Savvy, Sassy and Swamped," (Oak Grove Publishing) has won three national book awards. Check out her blog at http://funkytofabulous.blogspot.com/

Originally posted on Huffington Post Living

Queen of the Castle – Gaining respect from your children

I’ve heard many moms say, “He just doesn’t listen!” Or “How many times do I need to tell her before she’ll do as she’s asked?” This issue is mainly for toddlers and preschool children on up. Toddlers are finding their own will but do not yet respond to the complexity and order of language the way older children do. Toddlers simply follow their impulses and it is up to us to redirect them if necessary. However, all children regardless of age are able to feel/sense whether we are confident and clear and they respond to that by acting out or not. Children are sensitive to our inner states and respond by challenging us to be present, loving and clear when we are not. (There are also situations where they are responding to more than our inner states. This can be seen with physical issues like food allergies, candida overgrowth, rashes, and other childhood disease or genetic issues.)

This is where holding a mantel of authority comes in. When we are feeling strong, clear and expressing ourselves from a state of empowerment, our children either listen or we take the opportunity to teach them in simple and loving terms about what is expected. Life just flows. Likewise, when we are “off” and feeling distracted, disconnected from our children or tired, this is usually when our children will test our limits the most. Children have needs to be met. It is our job to meet them. We meet them, not by being a slave to our children, but by knowing what to give.

One of childrens’ greatest needs is for structure and boundaries. If we are unclear about the best way to handle their behavior, they will continue challenging us with it until we step into our authority and clarify the limits. When we are certain of what is acceptable, they will trust us and listen. They need us to be the authority, guide, teacher and empowered mama so that they can relax and be a child. Their anxiety will dissolve if they are aware of what is expected of them and what the consequences are if they do not listen. They rely on us for this. If we are not providing this in some way, they will let us know.

The most effective way to develop a clear mind, strong boundaries, flexibility in communication, fun and easy interactions and respect from our children is to embody self-respect. To feel like the queen of the household whom expects to be treated as such. The more we believe we are worthy of respect, the more we will receive it. Likewise the more we believe negative thoughts about ourselves, the more we identify with them and draw in poor treatment from our children and other family members.

The meditation "Queen of the Castle" is designed to create an inner shift in our ability to hold a mantel of respect and authority while strengthening love and connection with our children and ourselves.

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