Tag Archives: relationships

When to Know if Conflict Is Toxic

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By Doug Noll

Unless you are living in an isolated cave, social conflict is inevitable. Our needs, interests, and desires collide with each other, getting in the way of our happiness. Conflict is not inherently bad, however. We need conflict to teach us, entertain us, and help us grow. We can probably do without Jerry Springer’s craziness, but a certain amount of conflict is healthy. On the other hand, we have also experience unhealthy conflict. When the conflict becomes chronic and repetitive, it is toxic.

Worse, emerging research shows that toxic conflict kills just as surely as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Recent studies reveal that frequent arguments with partners, relatives, friends or neighbors are associated with a doubling to tripling in the risk of death from any cause. We are social beings and toxic conflict apparently creates stressors that shorten our lives.

Knowing the difference between healthy, good conflict and unhealthy, toxic conflict is important information.

Here are some signs that indicate toxic conflict: Continue reading

Put Yourself First

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Why putting yourself first is the best choice for everyone.

We all experience moments when we feel torn between doing what we desire, and doing what we think is in the best interest of another. Sometimes we forget that those that love us also want what is best for us, and the best thing we can do is set the tone by making self-care a priority. Here’s what I mean…

I found myself in an interesting position this morning. I planned on taking a yoga class this morning, which I love and feel is an important component of my self-care on all levels. But last night my boyfriend and I got into an intense discussion, which left me feeling worried for him, wanting to care for him and make it all better. When I woke-up I found myself torn between my desire to go to class, and a thought that I should stay in bed and make sure he felt cared for.

It’s not as though an extra-long cuddle was in any way unappealing to me, yet I projected my mind a couple hours ahead, and could feel a nagging sense of disappointment that I didn’t stick to my plan to go to class. And not because I wanted to adhere to the plan, but because I could feel how badly my body wanted a led yoga session. Yet I still felt torn…and guilty. Continue reading

Salmon Dating: Stop Swimming Upstream And Find Your True Mate

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A mature female salmon’s purpose is to make it to her natal river to lay her eggs and get them fertilized by a male before she dies.  Kind of macabre, but having a clear purpose and goal is what’s important here.  The female salmon’s journey starts in the salt-water ocean.

When she is ready to spawn, she swims thousands of miles to fresh water rivers and streams.  On her journey she is met with poachers, sport fishermen who catch and release, fishermen who catch for profit, bears, birds of prey, wolves, and other voraciously hungry mammals. 

Part of her journey also includes jumping upstream through a strong waterfall to get up to her natal river or stream.  Against all odds, many females make it to their natal river to spawn. Continue reading

The Secret to Creating Loving Close Ties

By Linda Newlin

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Most of us need and want more connection and closeness with those in our lives.  However, we have many things that keep us separate and distant from them.

What creates closeness and loving connections with those we love?

There are many theories and methods people have touted as keys to creating loving and close relationships, but I am reminded today by my own 10 year old wise one about what is the #1 thing that creates closeness for him.  Continue reading

Dear James: Living With My Boyfriend

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DearJames,

I’ve been living with my boyfriend for the last 4 years. He keeps saying that he wants to get married, but he also keeps looking at singles sites and he won’t actually propose and make it what we’ve talked about. He also isn’t working and he’s not looking for a job. I’m not sure what I should do? Please help. Continue reading

From Intent.com: You Are Not Alone

“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”
― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

The thing they don’t tell you about getting older is how hard it is to maintain relationship. As a grade-school child, you’re in a room with 25 other kids your same age from your neighborhood and for roughly eight months, you have built in best friends. That’s how it goes for 13 years or so and then you slowly add more and more people until you realize, unless you’re intentional, you might not know anyone.

I can’t name one person I met in college. Seriously.

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As an adult, I’ve learned that if I want to have more than surface-level friendships, I’m going to have to put in the extra effort. I don’t know that I’ll ever find the consistency I had in grade school. I work from home. I’m a single adult. If I want friendships, I have to make them a priority. Here are some best practices I’ve collected over the past years:

1. Don’t expect your friends to be psychic. I’m not even sure the people advertising themselves to be psychics are psychics, but we expect our friends to know when we’re sad or sick or feeling left out. While you don’t want to end up in a one-sided relationship, involvement with another person is always going to require putting yourself out there in some form. If you’re feeling blue, invite a friend to dinner. Decide you aren’t going to let it ruin your night if they aren’t available. Maybe think of 3 or 4 people to ask just in case. The point is just to get some quality time!

2. Know what you love. It can be really frustrating hanging out with people who love football to watch football if you don’t love football. Who’s fault is it really? If they know they love football, they are only being authentic to what they love. What do YOU love? If it’s not football, that’s totally fine! Is it hiking? Is it crafting? Is it going to concerts? The more you know about what you love, the easier it is to find your tribe or to invite people into experiences with you versus always feeling like you’re tagging along with someone else. It’s no one else’s job to find out what you love so take the time to really think about it and then share it!

3. Reconnect. There has to be some advantage to all the social media we’re glued to these days. Maybe it’s an opportunity to reach out to family or friends you lost touch with long ago. Upon moving to LA last year, I reconnected with one of those grade school friends I mentioned after I noticed on Facebook that she’d also moved to Los Angeles after graduating from college in Texas. We sent a couple of emails back and forth and scheduled lunch. It was a little nerve-wracking walking up to the restaurant. Would it be weird? Would we even have anything in common anymore? But, from the moment we sat down at the table, it was as if we had never missed a day!

 

It’s hard to be vulnerable. It’s hard to say “I feel alone” because it means you want people around and so much of society these days says you’re weak if you need people. To that I say the world isn’t big enough for everyone to have their own islands, so community has to happen. I also think that some of our best refining comes in the context of community.

It is where we learn to be selfless and also to stand up for ourselves.
It is where we learn to love ourselves and also to put others first.
It is where we learn what hills we want to die on.
It is where we learn the value of “thank you” and “I’m sorry”.
Those seem like worthy lessons.

So, don’t forget.
You are not alone.
You’re here and I’m here and so we can go ahead and put the notion that you’re alone to sleep.
You are not hopeless.
You are not unworthy of love.
I can say that with full confidence because your heart is beating.
So get out there!
A lonely someone is waiting on your friendship.

Reaching Out For Compassion

Rabindranath Tagore embarrassment of compassion fills your eyes rain on we lucky spaces between potential and the real take my hand and walk togetherAt a weekend workshop I led, one of the participants, Marian, shared her story about the shame and guilt that had tortured her. Marian’s daughter Christy, in recovery for alcoholism, had asked her mother to join her in therapy. As their sessions unfolded, Christy revealed that she’d been sexually abused throughout her teen years by her stepfather, Marian’s second husband.

The words and revelations Marian heard that day pierced her heart. “You just slept through my whole adolescence!” her daughter had shouted. “I was being violated and had nowhere to turn! No one was there to take care of me!” Christy’s face was red; her hands clenched tight. “I was afraid to tell you then, and now I know why. You can’t handle the truth. You can’t handle me. You never could. I hate you!”

As she watched her daughter dissolve into heaving sobs, Marian knew that what she’d heard was true. She hadn’t been able to handle her daughter’s involvement with drugs, her clashes with teachers, or her truancy and suspensions from school, because she couldn’t handle anything about her own life.

At this point, compassion for herself was not only impossible, Marian was convinced it would have been wrong: the horror that Christy endured was her fault; she deserved to suffer.

We’ve all harmed others and felt as if we were bad because of our actions. When we, like Marian, face the truth that we’ve hurt others, sometimes severely, the feelings of guilt and shame can tear us apart. Even when the damage isn’t so great, some of us still feel undeserving of compassion or redemption.

At times like these, the only way to find compassion for ourselves is by reaching out to something larger than the self that feels so small and miserable. We might for instance take refuge by calling on the Buddha, Divine Mother, God, Jesus, Great Spirit, Shiva, or Allah – reaching towards a loving awareness that is great enough to offer comfort and safety to our broken being.

As a Catholic, Marian had found moments of deep peace and communion with a loving God. But, in her despair, she now felt alone in the universe. Sure, God existed, but she felt too sinful and wretched to reach out to him.

Fearing she might harm herself, Marian sought counsel from an elderly Jesuit priest she had known in college. After she’d wept and told him her story, he gently took one of her hands and began drawing a circle in the center of her palm. “This,” he said, “is where you are living. It’s painful—a place of kicking and screaming and deep, deep hurt. This place cannot be avoided, let it be.”

Then he covered her whole hand with his. “But, if you can, try also to remember this: there is a greatness, a wholeness that is the kingdom of God, and in this merciful space, your immediate life can unfold. This pain is held always in God’s love. As you know both the pain and the love, your wounds will heal.

Marian felt as if a great wave of compassion was pouring through the hands of the priest and gently bathing her, inviting her to surrender into its caring embrace. As she gave her desperation to it, she knew she was giving herself to the mercy of God. The more she let go, the more she felt held. Yes, she’d been blind and ignorant; she’d caused irreparable damage, but she wasn’t worthless, she wasn’t evil. Being held in the infinite compassion of God, she could find her way to her own heart.

Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance. The priest wasn’t advising Marian to ignore the pain or to deny that she’d failed her daughter, but to open her heart to the love that could begin the healing.

Now, rather than being locked inside her tormenting thoughts, Marian could remember the possibility of compassion. When remorse or self-hatred would arise, she would mentally say, “Please hold this pain.” When she felt her anguish as being held by God, she could face it without being ripped apart or wanting to destroy herself.

Two weeks later, when she and her daughter met again in therapy, Marian admitted to Christy – still acting cold – that she knew she’d failed her terribly. Then, gently and carefully taking her daughter’s hand, Marian drew a soft circle in the center of her palm, and whispered the same words the priest had whispered to her.

Upon hearing these words, Christy allowed herself be held, wept, and surrendered into the unexpected strength and sureness of her mother’s love. There was no way either of them could bypass the raw pain of yet unhealed wounds, but now they could heal together. By reaching out and feeling held in God’s mercy, Marian had discovered the compassion that could hold them both.

Whenever we feel held by a caring presence, by something larger than our small frightened self, we too can begin to find room in our own heart for the fragments of our life, and for the lives of others. The suffering that might have seemed “too much” can now awaken us to the sweetness of compassion.

© Tara Brach

Enjoy this talk on Cultivating Compassion 

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photo by: Wonderlane

Better Than Before: The Highs and Lows of Cholesterol

cholesterol“I’ll have the steak,” my husband with the three coronary artery stents announced to the waiter. “A fillet mignon, medium rare,” he added, with a look of self-satisfaction on his face. He was obviously proud of himself because he didn’t order what he really wanted—the marbled prime rib.

“While you’re at it, dear, why don’t you have cheesecake for dessert,” I suggested, “just in case you have any arteries left unclogged.”

I should say, however, that The Lawyer — dietary deviations aside — is in very good shape for a man his age and is extremely aware of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. But that doesn’t always mean he makes the wisest menu choices when it comes to his heart. Indeed, out of my sight and left to his own devices he may just grab a hamburger — or horrors! — that deadly croissant-doughnut hybrid known as “cronut!”

He, of course, swears that a genetic predisposition—and my constant nagging—are the primary culprits for his coronary clogs. Therefore, I must remind him (always, of course, in calm, constructive tones), that while genetics may load the gun, lifestyle still pulls the trigger.

The reason I worry about what he eats, is cholesterol, a big component of all those unhealthy foods he likes to eat, and a known factor in heart disease. And while my husband’s cholesterol isn’t particularly high, every journal article I read seems to say that it should be lower!  It seems, too, as if practically everyone I know, the Lawyer included, is on a statin of some sort or another – 25% of all Americans over age 45, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. But do statins lower all cholesterol? How do you keep the HDL (high density lipoproteins — think “happy” ones) level high while lowering the LDL (low density, think “lousy”).  So my intent for this column is to help readers have a cholesterol ratio that is Better Than Before.

To advise, I turn to an expert, Ed Dannemiller, a specialist pharmacist, in the Cardiovascular Therapeutic Resource Center at Express Scripts and a recent guest on my new show for Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Talk.  I started by asking just how bad is bad cholesterol.

Turns out it is very bad. “High cholesterol levels are the major controllable risk factors that contribute to hardening and narrowing of the arteries,” he says. “This is known as Atherosclerosis and it is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. And as blood cholesterol levels rise, so does the risk of coronary heart disease, which is the Number one killer in America. “

But not all cholesterol is bad, and Dannemiller adds, it is important to understand the differences between the two types. High levels of HDL’s actually protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels increase their risk. Too much of the “lousy” one circulating in the blood form thick hard deposits called plaque that narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible. Plaque that suddenly ruptures forms clots can result in and heart attacks and strokes because of the arterial blockage.

I have always been a firm believer in lifestyle modifications and Dannemiller agrees that for most people, those can help attain a healthy cholesterol balance.“LDL cholesterol is especially affected by diet,” he stresses. “Eat a heart healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and low in salt, fat, and cholesterol.”

He points to a Florida State University research study that found that eating an apple a day can reduce LDL cholesterol an average of 23%. “Apples are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that blocks cholesterol absorption and prevents the body from storing it. Other LDL-lowering foods include oats, barley, beans, unsalted nuts and seeds, eggplant, okra, and fatty fish such as wild salmon.”

The main culprits for high cholesterol, he says, are fat. Hmm. What do you suppose they fry Cronuts in to  make them so tasty?  The Lawyer would obviously like to think it’s first-press, extra virgin olive oil! “Avoid saturated fat,” Danemiller cautions. “This includes fats from red, processed and organ meats, dairy products, and some plant products like coconut and palm oils.”

Processing liquid vegetable oil to make a solid fat creates the dreaded trans fats found in stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and some cookies, crackers, cakes, fried foods, breads and snack foods like chips, candy, and microwave popcorn, he explains. “Read your labels closely: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are the ‘good ones!”

Danemiller has a few other tips:

• Trim all visible fat from meat before cooking

• Broil rather than pan fry meats

• Prepare stews and soups a day ahead of time and refrigerate. Skim off the hardened fat from the top.

• Choose white meat chicken, lower cholesterol organic eggs and low-fat cheeses, milk, and yogurts.

• Lose some weight. As little as 5 to 10% of body weight can significantly reduce LDL levels.

And here’s the one The Lawyer particularly dreads — exercise. “Exercising is essential,” Dannemiller insists. “Just thirty minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, five days a week, or 25 minutes of the more vigorous jogging or running three times a week, can help your body to produce more HDL’s.”

Sometimes, though, lifestyle modifications just aren’t enough, and genetics may have a lot to do with it. “Cholesterol comes from two sources,” Damemiller continues. “The body itself makes about 75% of blood cholesterol, and the rest comes from food ingested. That means that some people are more prone to high cholesterol levels based on genetics. For them, medication treatment can be essential. Drugs like niacin are effective in raising HDL levels, but the workhorses in the medication class are the statin drugs which can decrease cholesterol by 30% to 40% or more, decreasing heart attack and stroke risk by 45% to 60%.”

Statins have some side-effects, including muscle pain. But Danemiller contends that statin drugs are so effective that it is worth working through these issues. “A lower dose of the same medication, a switch to another drug in the class, or changing the frequency of administration can help. If the statin drug is stopped, the muscle pains should subside within two weeks. If it persists after that, it may be caused by unrelated activities like other medical conditions such as arthritis, or possibly even low vitamin D levels or too much exercise.”

But didn’t I read somewhere that statins have been linked to memory loss?

“Studies found no evidence of this. In fact, long-term statin use can have a protective effect on memory and cognition.” Dannemiller says.

Also in the news last year, were reports that statin drugs increased the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, I challenged.

“While data suggests some statins may increase the risk of diabetes this risk is outweighed by the cardiovascular benefits for most patients.”

Lifestyle modifications and statin medication, if needed, are important elements to achieve optimal cholesterol levels. Just watch out for those Prime Rib and Cheesecake combos.

 

10 Quotes For the Food Loving Soul in All of Us

Ahh, food. How do we love thee, let us count the ways. Food is the fuel of our existence, the centerpiece of our social behavior and can even be our best friend in times of trouble or need. We have a complicated relationship. Some of us are wary of you and some of us over indulge in the delight. We definitely have our hills and valleys, but at the end of the day food is a vital part of the human experience. Actually, it’s a vital part of the living experience in general. So we’re toasting to the good eats in this week’s quote post. We rounded up a few of our favorites – some of them inspiring, some of them make us laugh, all of them are the truth. So grab a fork, dig in, and share if you too are a foodie.

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Let Your Actions Say ‘I Love You!’

i love youWho doesn’t want to be loved? It doesn’t matter if you’re educated, uneducated, young, old, rich or poor, every being on this planet loves to be loved. Although it’s great to say ‘I love you’ often to your loved ones, how many of us really mean it? How often does it come from your soul? The most precious things in life are said in silence. I am going to mention some of those below and let you say ‘I love you’ without uttering a word. Some of these suggestions may apply to your romantic loved ones while some for even the stranger on road. Apply these suggestions wisely and you may just fill your (and others’) heart chakra with a lot of inspiring energy!
Compliments: Genuine compliments are hard to come by. We don’t hear or see them very much! What if you start a practice of complimenting someone everyday? Keep in mind that some people may block your compliments and give you a cold shoulder. This has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them. Don’t take it personally. Try with them again after a few days. Most people love receiving a genuine compliment and the ones who don’t are the ones who need it most.  So let your intention be to compliment those who seem to reject it. You may end up creating more trust and love in their lives and, ultimately, in our planet.
Hugs: Hugs come with therapeutic power. A hug with right intention allows a sacred exchange of healing. I just saw a post on my Facebook newsfeed that said a longer hug brings about feelings of joy and bliss. The post further mentioned that a sincere hug produces a hormone called “oxytocin” which makes us feel safe, relaxed and calm. It is recommended to hug for a duration of 20 seconds. Start with those who already feel safe with you or who need and  expect love from you. Once you are comfortable enough to spread this 20 second love, you are free to spread it all over.
Kiss: A small peck on cheek or a long, passionate kiss in the rain, both can speak volumes. A kiss says that you are loved, admired and cherished. Let kissing and being kissed become a new addition to your love menu. I am not asking you to jump on anyone that you feel like kissing (I know there may be a few or many!). But at least let your loved ones feel that you said ‘I love you’ with such a gentle gesture.
No tweets: Actions speak louder than your tweets. Instead of writing fancy love posts on your Twitter or Facebook, try to just give your undivided attention to your loved ones when you are around them. This means no Facebook or Twitter or Instagram use while they are with you. If they see you doing it, they may also follow your example, which leads to comfortable distance between people. Be need more genuine connection, more heart-felt interaction, more intense presence with our loved ones.  Don’t Instagram the special dinner before acknowledging the actual presence of everyone sitting at the table. Give social media a rest and arrive in the now, with love.
Gratitude: Express gratitude as often as possible. Your ‘Thank you’ is more touching than ‘I love you,’ at times. Pick small moments in the day that you can use to express gratitude. Don’t limit your gratitude either.  Acknowledge each and every person who helps you in some way.  The cleaning lady in your office, or the building security manager, or the stranger in supermarket who helped you. There are so many people who are deserving of your gratitude. Open your awareness to all the souls around you!
Since I don’t have any way of showing my love to you right now, I will use my words to express love to all who took time to read this post. My intention is to help you spread the silent love all over the globe!
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