How you benefit from happy relationships

How you benefit from happy relationships

Relationships

Man, do I love having a strong social network and community. As someone who has never been married, is currently single, and who has never had children, I’ve never deluded myself with the perceived escape hatch of relying on that one Special Someone to turn my grey skies into blue.

As a result of being single for my entire life, I’ve always experienced the power of proactively creating a support network that reflects my top values. I love talking deeply with them about topics that matter to me … and I love knowing that they’re there for me in good times and bad times (and vice versa!).

My recent move to another state has reinforced for me how important it is to establish that network and not let good friendships fade into the sunset (which happens all too frequently).

I’ve written and talked at length about how we overall have moved more toward isolationism and how most singles unconsciously try to make up for this by heaping too much responsibility onto a romantic partnership.

But as I’ve been contemplating new programs that support what I feel is important to address for singles of this day and age, I’ve been re-inspired to help create community and combat isolation and loneliness.

So I thought it was time once again to revisit the many benefits that make forging close relationships worth it.

Here, then, are 10 reasons to find, nurture, and endure the ups and downs of relationships of all kinds:

  1. Social support in life. It’s helpful to have people in your life who can offer their expertise to help you out. This might mean being a good listener, an empathizer, being handy with fix-it stuff around the house or being an expert negotiator (which can be extremely handy when you need to buy a new car). All of these types of support improve your quality of life, according to recent psychological studies.
  2. Help in becoming the person you want to be. Another study found that a loving partner or friend who sees you more like the person you want to be will support you in a way that helps you become that person. Because your friend or partner’s response to you can help shape the person you become, they named this the Michelangelo phenomenon.
  3. An opportunity to be caring toward others. Creating truly happy and high-functioning relationships requires compassion, cooperation, love and kindness; as a result, high-functioning relationships foster altruism. Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others. You don’t need a scientific study to tell you that being altruistic can make you feel happy and view yourself in a positive light – though such studies certainly do exist to support this claim. Studies also show that altruism creates a sense of calm and reduces stress.
  4. friends vintage tiltawhirlFun and fulfillment. Doing things you enjoy is a wonderful way to spend your time – and having friends to share these experiences with can make them all the more fun and meaningful.
  5. A sense of being part of something bigger than yourself. People have an inborn need to feel a sense of belonging as well as a need to contribute. And, when people meet this need, they gain a sense of well-being. As part of a network of friends or a more formalized group, you can meet this need and feel like your life has purpose and meaning.
  6. Reduced stress. Social relationships relieve stress through the many ways in which they are a support and help people to feel good. Although feeling less stressed is positive in itself, reducing stress is also important because stress can cause problems with coronary arteries, insulin regulation, and the immune system. As a quick FYI: When researchers from University College London measured cortisol levels (one marker of chronic stress) in people 30 minutes after the subjects woke up, they found that the loneliest people had levels 21 percent higher than the most socially connected.
  7. Better health. People who have an active social network and have a cadre of people on whom they can rely have better health in the following ways:
    * Fewer Colds: A study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that after healthy people were given nasal drops containing a strain of cold virus, those with six or more types of social ties (including friends coworkers and fellow volunteers) were four times less likely to get sick than those with only one to three types of social relationships
    * Lower Blood Pressure: Researchers have found that people with hypertension who feel they can open up to friends are a third less likely to have their condition go uncontrolled. In another study that tracked people for four years, those who were the least lonely could expect their blood pressure to be 14.4 points lower than that of those who were the most isolated.
    * Good Health Habits: Not only do people’s relationships have a directly positive effect upon people’s health, they also influence people’s health behaviors. For instance, spouses and other loved ones often actively encourage exercising, eating a healthy diet, and following up with medical issues. So, not surprisingly, people with emotional support tend to recover better and be less susceptible to illness or disease than those who are more alone.
  8. Longer life. People who have strong social ties are much more likely to live longer than those who are more isolated. Holt-Lunstad, the lead author of a study (2010) that reviewed and analyzed research in this area, noted, “A lack of social relationships was equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.”
  9. Improved intelligence, reasoning and understanding. Socializing can give your mind a workout. According to one study, the more frequently people interacted with others, the higher they scored on cognitive tests. Plus, research in the American Journal of Public Health found that among older women, those who had daily contact with friends saw their risk of developing dementia reduced by 43% compared with those who had contact less than once a week. This may be because social interaction helps form new synaptic connections, staving off cognitive decline.
  10. Better sleep. In a study in Psychological Science, researchers monitored college students’ sleep patterns and found that those who reported feeling more connected to their peers fell asleep 14 minutes faster and spent 17 fewer minutes awake during the night than their more solitary counterparts did.

So are you as inspired as I am to create a wave of positive connections? Do you want to be part of a movement that helps you succeed and be happy in all areas of your life, while having fun doing so? Then consider joining my Empowered Singles nation. Sign up here. You’ll receive a free 5-session eCourse on Creating a Life You Love as well as get my monthly newsletter which is chock full of great new content. You’ll also be kept abreast of all new programs that I launch, along with special pricing discounts available ONLY to members of the community.

Join us, won’t you?

 

Photo (c) Micheal Ging

The art of the cheap date

The art of the cheap date

Abundance Creativity Dating

How not to break your bank

In the previous post, Larry asked for my thoughts on dating while unemployed (HERE). While I find it’s important to focus on finding employment and not be distracted by “why can’t I find my perfect match” obsessions, I do know you can get out there and date for fun.  (Check out how to transform sucky or overwrought dating into fun dating – HERE.)

Whether we like it or not, money troubles can rock our foundations. Being unemployed or in financial trouble causes a great deal of stress, which affects our moods, our health, our outlook on life. I get this…I’ve gone through my own experiences with not having enough money coming in and trying to create a long-term relationship with someone.

If you’re not feeling great about yourself, if you feel desperate to have a relationship, if you feel that being in a relationship will rescue you from your current woes, you will more than likely get involved in a relationship that is unsustainable (from a healthy point of view). Most relationships – unless the couple proactively seeks support from a therapist or relationship coach – do not survive ongoing financial woes and the side-effects that come with it.

In a future post, we’ll take a look at socio-economic stressors on relationships, considering that, in the U.S., the middle class is under tremendous pressure and more and more people are falling under the poverty line. But for now, let’s focus on getting you a new job and let’s explore ways you can still enjoy going out.

Look on the bright side

I know you’re probably overwhelmed with feeling miserable about yourself and your situation. But there is an upside of dating while money is tight: you’ll be able to sort through the people who may be looking for a free ride or who demand to be treated lavishly or who want to be taken care of. If you’re ultimately looking for a healthy relationship, when your financial boat is up-righted, I don’t think these kinds of people are the ones for you.

Before planning a cheap date

First, think about the things you enjoy doing with someone else (i.e. a walk on the beach or in the park) and talk about these things with your potential date. He or she may enjoy the same type of activities. Many times the things that are most enjoyable to people do not include a big price tag.

And remember to think out of the box. Most people do not engage their creativity at all when planning the first few dates and think it’s all about going out to dinner. If you’re creative in this way, you’ll definitely make a better impression AND you’ll do a much better job at screening.

Also, be clear as to your current situation and how your primary focus is on your career right now. Tell the whole truth, without apology, early and often. You don’t necessarily have to blurt out your employment situation within the first point of contact, but it’s important to set up realistic expectations early on and not give people false hope. And who knows, maybe this person can actually help in some way.  Plus, do you really want to hang out with someone who doesn’t respect your need to be financially responsible?

Remember that regardless of your financial situation, the first few dates are better spent in face to face low-cost or no-cost activities anyway. You need the face time to screen for fit. Be authentic and generous with your attention. Focus all of it on your potential partner and they’ll feel the richness of your presence. This is a far greater gift than the presence of financial richness.

Finally, do consider seeking the assistance of a certified professional coach. A coach, if examined solely from a cost-benefit analysis, will help you get you where you want to be more quickly – from feeling better about yourself to mapping out a game plan to find a new job as well as find people with whom you want to spend time. As I always say, when you love your life, you’re in a much better position to find the love of your life – and working with a coach like me can help.

Meanwhile, check out these low or no-cost date options:

couple playing poolPlan a Low-key Cocktail Excursion

Skip the pricey wine bar and grab a drink at your local low-key bar. Make sure you pick a place with a pool table or dartboard set up. Some bars I’ve been to also have chess games and checkers. You can learn a lot about people when you play some sort of game with them.

Get an Adrenaline Rush

Go to a rollerskating or iceskating rink or indoor rock climbing gym. It’s a great way to have fun with each other. If being physically active or in good health is a top value for you, this is a good way of weeding out those who do not feel the same way

Couple riding bikesTake a Bike Ride

Dust off your bikes and head to the park to take a spin on the bike trails. Bike riding is fun, relaxing and great exercise. After the ride is over, park your bikes and enjoy the great outdoors. Then at the end, celebrate with a cup of hot cocoa or combine it with a picnic so you can have another great activity to look forward to.

Plan a Themed Picnic

Everyone loves a picnic, but a themed picnic is even better. How about a detective-themed picnic? All you have to do is pack up your picnic food, grab a blanket and some Post-it notes with clues written on them. Have your date find the clues in your picnic area. The answers to the clues can be anything you packed, anything either of you is wearing, or something in the environment.

Take a Trip to the Gardens

Most large cities have botanical gardens with low admission fees. In fact, many have special times of the month when entrance is free. Take advantage of the free admissions days and visit the gardens. Take a light lunch with you and sit on a bench in the gardens and enjoy one another’s company. After lunch, take a stroll through the gardens and enjoy a wonderful conversation while admiring the beautiful plants and flowers.

Go Apple Picking

Spend the day picking apples or other seasonal fruit at a local farm. Once you’ve picked all the fruit you can carry back to the car, you can always plan for the next date to get creative in the kitchen and think up some recipes with the fruit you picked. You can then judge each other’s creations, Top Chef style.

Take a Tour of Local Wineries, Breweries – or Chocolate Makers

The easiest way of enjoying cocktails on the cheap? Take a tour of a winery or brewery. Most local wineries charge an incredibly small fee for 10 tastings (which amounts to 2 standard sized glasses of wine). Plus, if it’s a small winery, chances are you’ll be able to talk with the owners themselves, who are always glad to share their passion for what they do.

Keep Up on Entertainment Specials

Dying to see a play but can’t afford the tickets? Call around to see if you can buy tickets to the dress rehearsal instead. You’ll pay a fraction of the cost for a “behind the scenes” experience. Keep your eyes on Living Social or GroupOn for special offers and deals to local restaurants.

open mic nightExplore Local Book Signings/Poetry Readings/Live Music/Comedy Club Amateur Nights

Wherever you live, chances are there are local bands dying for an audience. Check out local music venues in your area and go to a show. Of course, bear in mind that loud, live music is not overly conducive to getting to know someone. Perhaps an author or poet you enjoy or are curious about is doing a live reading. I also know there are usually some comedy improv groups who host amateur nights at local venues, too. Or maybe you’re brave and want to explore open mic nights.

Attend a Free Cultural Event

Many cities have free or low-cost museums. Museums are great places to talk and learn about each other as well as to enjoy art, history or whatever the theme of the museum. Items in museums can serve as great conversation pieces, which helps you avoid those awkward moments of silence.

Visit Your Local Coffee Shop

You can’t go wrong with a coffee shop — even if you don’t drink coffee. Coffee shops usually have live music, poetry readings, and other events on different nights. If there is no event going on, consider bringing a board game along to play while sipping on your favorite hot or cold drink.

Take Art Classes Together

Right now there is a current fad of painting classes for those who have no artistic talent whatsoever. So if you’re not a budding Picasso, you have nothing to worry about. Plus, stretching yourself in this way can be a great opportunity to show people just how gracefully or humorously you roll.

Attend a Local Minor League Baseball Game

Tickets can be as cheap as $10 and are a fun way of enjoying baseball.

 

Honestly, as I look over these ideas, I’m thinking – why the heck not enjoy them with your friends, too. These ideas are a lot of fun … and dating is not the only way to enjoy them. Plus when you hang out with your friends, you’re strengthening your support network … and I’d bet that you could really benefit from that right now.

Have fun!

 

Featured Image (c) Liz Morrow

Ask the Coach: Is it possible to find love while unemployed?

Ask the Coach: Is it possible to find love while unemployed?

Ask the Coach

“… How do you make yourself attractive to others when money and employment status are such strong criteria for so many people…?”

Dear Coach Linda,

I want to date and find a partner so I can be happy. But I was downsized from my job about 18 months ago and my benefits have just run out. I’ve been looking for work the entire time, but haven’t had any success. I’m 45, I have two kids and share custody with my ex-wife. I’m under a lot of pressure economically and I’m really frustrated with my dating experiences.

When I meet women I want to date, I’m honest with them that I’m currently unemployed. That doesn’t lead to more dates. I think that the last person a woman wants to date is someone who is unemployed. And I know I’m certainly not the only one who’s experiencing this problem.

It’s hard enough to have stress in the financial part of your life, but it’s even harder when there’s pressure in the area of relationships. I want to move on with my life. I want to get married again and be happy.

What’s your advice for dating when you’re unemployed? What can I do? How do you make yourself attractive to others when money and employment status are such strong criteria for so many people in our society?

Larry


Dear Larry,

I’m sorry to hear you’re having employment challenges because of the economy and I want to congratulate you on being willing to reach out to request support while going through this period. Getting support is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself right now.

I truly get it that you would like date while unemployed, to get married again and move on with your life. To be loved is one of our primary driving forces as humans.

I’m also aware that, as you said, most women are somewhat reluctant to be involved with someone who doesn’t have employment or benefits, especially in a rocky economy. I have often heard women say that they don’t want to get involved with someone who is struggling. We can’t blame them.

And you’re right, there are many in the country who are in your position – both men and women. A number of people who attend my complimentary events are searching for love yet are not employed and don’t have any financial resources.

Let’s take a moment to look at a couple of things you said.

First, you say your situation is even harder when there’s pressure in the area of relationships. Who is pressuring you? Are you doing this to yourself? If so, ask yourself what’s so important right now, when things are shaky, that you find a partner. Are you afraid of being alone? Do you not have a healthy support network? What’s the rush? You have many years ahead of you to continue achieving success in your career and personal relationships. Try to remain as cognizant as you can about what’s motivating you so you can avoid getting caught in the trap of desperation and scarcity, which can only lead to relationship failure.

Remember that when we’ve gone through a loss of employment, our self-confidence and self-esteem can suffer. Unemployment is notorious for contributing to feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, uselessness, helplessness (deprived of strength or power), and meaninglessness. Put these in the blender and you’ve got someone who may be at risk of falling into the Rescue Trap. We fall into this trap when we hope someone can save us from our current reality and we fail to realize that being an Empowered Single is a path of personal responsibility. This trap results in desperation, neediness, and relationship failure when your problems multiply instead of disappear.

money loveAlso know that money issues can impact the health of a relationship. A study published in the Family Relations Journal in 2012 looked at data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households. The study found that arguing about money is the top predictor of relationship failure. If you’re constantly worried about money and paying your bills and child support, there’s a real good chance that if you found yourself in a new long-term committed partnership, you will argue about money. Being stressed about money is not the optimal way of starting a relationship.

Third, I also want to point out that you may be stuck in the “I’ll be happy when I’m in a relationship” trap. There are too many people who feel that happiness can only be achieved when in a relationship – and this is simply not true. Relationships are mirrors of our reality – they emphasize who and what we are right now. Relationships do not CAUSE happiness – rather they reflect the emotional state of the people who are in them. If you want a happy relationship, you will need to already be happy in your life.

Larry, I’m sure this is not what you wanted to hear. Don’t be discouraged though. Please know that there are things you can do to make it through this period of your life as an Empowered Single. Here’s what I recommend:

Money woesStay focused on the priority of finding some form of employment.  Looking for a job is a full-time job. And, certainly it is a stressful time. I know from experience how self-confidence and self-esteem suffer. There are many unknowns – not only about what the next job will be, but also where it will be located and how much money you will be making. I remember a time when I had been “reorganized” right out of a job and then simulatenously met a man with whom I wanted to explore a long-term committed relationship. Being between jobs, worrying about money, and having too much free time (to obsess over the relationship) all combined to create a powder keg. And boy when the time came, did it ever explode. Ugh.

Also, searching for a job will require you to be on top of your mental and emotional game. During interviews, you’ll need to exude confidence and competence – this is harder to do if you’re preoccupied about the status of your dating life… or worse, still reeling over a recent romantic rejection.

Get support. This is not the time to “go it alone” – even though so many of us prefer to tackle our problems in solitude. Are you getting support from peers and friends – both professionally as well as personally? Don’t have a good network of friends and peers? Make this your top priority.

Take time to expand your professional network as well. There are many groups that meet weekly for the sole purpose of networking in the effort of seeking employment. Find one of these in your area.

While meeting with others for networking, you might be surprised to meet someone who understands and is willing to accept you as you are. The fact that you have joined such a group illustrates your initiative and desire to regain employment.

Plus, you indicated you’ve been looking for work for over a year. Have you consulted a career coach? It would be helpful to have someone who is knowledgeable to reassure you that you’re on the right track or who may be able to advise you on how to switch rails to find employment in another sector.

To be clear though, your primary objective for meeting people should be networking for employment and support, not dating. Remember, you’re only good for someone else when you’re good for yourself. In addition, remember you have your children to think of. At this point, perhaps dating is less important in the big scheme of things.

Remember there is No Shame in Your Game. One of the most important things to remember in “showing up” for our quest for a great life is to BE AUTHENTIC no matter what. When we are completely honest about who we are and what our situation is, this mirrors to others our true selves.

Our culture typically does not honor those who are experiencing temporary setbacks with jobs and other occurrences that have us pinching pennies, so it makes it difficult to be authentic when these times arise. Nevertheless, we can continue to honor ourselves by accepting ourselves during these periods and not playing “the games” many others play.

Date for only for fun. From a relationship readiness standpoint, you have much to sort out right now. If you’re out there, meeting and connecting with new people, and wind up finding someone with whom you want to have dinner or go to a movie – great! Keeping it casual will keep the pressure off… and it just might lead to more dates. But again, don’t actively seek out a committed partner at this time. There are too many unknowns right now.

Find inexpensive ways of having fun. There are many activities that are available in any community that are either free or minimal in expense. During the times we may have less cash flow, we can choose to attend such events and enjoy these varying experiences. I believe other authentic people will truly enjoy them also and will just enjoy the time spent with another authentic person, rather than be concerned that they are not at “the hottest event happening”. Stay tuned for my next blog post where I explore The Art of a Cheap Date in more depth.

Get coaching to become an Empowered Single. Sometimes life’s toughest challenges are the gateways to truer happiness and fulfillment if we learn how to navigate them skillfully. They offer us opportunities to go deep within ourselves, to discover our truth, and to rid ourselves of all the beliefs and behaviors that keep us despairing and unhappy. This is NOT the time to be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to personal growth and development. Investing in yourself when your life is a bit messy is really the ideal time to do this kind of work and pays dividends down the road. I often hear people say things like, “Oh I’ll invest in myself when things get better.” That’s cart-before-the-horse thinking again – similar to saying “I’ll be happy when I’m in a relationship“. Remember that you are a magnet, attracting or repeling situations based on your inner game. As one of my teachers likes to say: Your Results Are Your Report Card.

This is an EXCELLENT time to enroll in one of my coaching programs so that you can make the most of this time as well as prevent yourself from spiraling into depression or despair. Perhaps it’s time for us to talk about how you can benefit from them. Again, don’t let money stand in your way of getting the support you need. There are always ways to get around our perceived limitations, including a scarcity of money. Plus you deserve to feel good about yourself. So contact me today to set up an initial consultation by emailing me HERE.

In the meantime, I will keep you and your job hunting efforts in my thoughts. The very best of luck to you.

Why dating does not suck

Why dating does not suck

Dating

But your approach probably does

The other day I gave a presentation to a group of about 20 singles over the age of 55. This was a new group and had never heard of the Empowered Singles movement.

One of the gentlemen in attendance, who was deeply struggling with his profound feelings of love and yearnings for his “soul mate” – a woman who not only did not return his feelings but told him to stay away – shared with the group his own movement, which he calls Dating Sucks.

Insert Buzzer Sound Effect Here

Insert Buzzer Sound Effect Here

Ugh. This is exactly the kind of negativity that most singles carry around with them – the kind of negativity I’m trying to get you all away from. The kind of negativity that will actually submarine your attempts to find a healthy, happy relationships.

So let’s be clear – Dating Does Not Suck.

What sucks is his attitude toward it.

What about you? Have you ever said “dating is hard”? Or “all men want is to date younger women” or said “all women want is to date a rich man”? Are you sitting there in your living room, watching TV night after night, hoping to meet the right one, while replaying all the horrible experiences you’ve had on dates in the past?

If so, then perhaps your attitude sucks too.

Listen, I get it – dating and relationships can really really really SEEM confusing to those who have not taken the time to educate themselves about their past patterns, and subconscious sabotaging beliefs.

Most singles consistently make the same mistakes over and over again without taking the time to figure out what they are doing.

The thing is, many singles don’t have any true idea how dating really “works.” They don’t have a clear idea on how to approach dating that makes the process fun. And no one seems to know how to date without adding a ton of stress and pressure. Yet when I talk to most singles, they seem so assured that they know what they’re doing. (Meanwhile 90% of my community admits to being dissatisfied with their dating experiences.)

No more excuses, people.

Here’s a quick guide to help you snap out of it:

1. REDEFINE HOW YOU VIEW DATING

The biggest trap that most singles get caught in, in the early stages, is heaping a ton of romantic overlays onto the get togethers. Most people use that very first get together as the make or break moment – that puts way too much pressure on all involved. I always caution people about throwing the baby out with the bath water. Unless it’s a hugely obvious mismatch, take your time getting to know this person. By all means, use your relationship requirements to screen the obvious out but once you found someone who passed that first litmus test, try not to cut that person off immediately. Reformulate your decision making criteria – instead of evaluating the person straight off as “relationship worthy”, instead determine if you think this person is someone with whom you’d enjoy having a conversation.

Then ascribe a new meaning to the word DATING. Let’s agree that dating is simply the best way to learn more about other people (and yourself as well). And be forthright about your new view on dating.

2. FOCUS ON THE NOW

One of the most important ways to make dating fun is to focus on the now. Stop dwelling in the past – if an old relationship didn’t work out, accept it and move on. I know it’s much easier said than done to embrace this harsh reality, but the truth is that if you don’t accept and admit to yourself that a previous relationship ended because the person just wasn’t the right one for you at the time, you’ll never be able to move forward.

Also, avoid overanalyzing everything. I know too many singles who need to scrutinize the tiniest detail and behavior of others. When you are focused on the now, are in the present moment, and are living a life you love, you’ll be far less likely to worry about what the person did or did not do.

3. SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE

I’d say that going slow is almost as important as focusing on the now. If you walk into a date knowing that you’re priority is to get to know this person as a friend, then there won’t be any added pressure of worrying about what may happen after the date. This approach will set both of your minds at ease and you’ll have more fun enjoying each other’s company!

4. DO SOMETHING SPONTANEOUS

If you’ve found someone with whom you enjoy talking, try doing something off the cuff with that person – it takes a lot of pressure off both of you by being spontaneous. Being spontaneous requires you to Be the Chooser, to take responsibility as well as take a risk. Yet the rewards can be enormous.

A guy I was dating over the past summer actually surprised me after dinner and took me to mini golf and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I also spontaneously asked him to go out bowling and it was a great time. (I realized how awesome I am at bowling when I beat him, just saying. Thank goodness he had the ability to roll with things.)

5. LET GO OF EXPECTATIONS

We’re told to let go of grudges, right? Well, let go of expectations too.

Expectations are strong beliefs that something will happen, that someone will or should achieve something. They are like unspoken pacts with other people or the universe. While having expectations can be a great boost to confidence and a predictor of success (“I expect this job interview to go well), it can also set up for disappointment.

In dating and relationships, it’s so easy for people to constantly wonder, “Is this The One?” and so we go through the motions of dating with these high expectations that every person we meet, let alone date, has to be The One. Then, when this person turns out to NOT be Prince Charming or Ms. Right, you go home defeated, dismayed, depressed.

If you create your expectation as an unspoken pact that this person has to be a romantic match, then you’re likely to feel cheated, angry and/or hurt. It leads to blaming. “Things didn’t work out the way I thought they should, so someone is to blame.”

What’s important here is not to find out why things didn’t go the way they “should” have and who is responsible for that. The real question is who decided that things should go a certain way and that any other way was unacceptable. This is the source of the disappointment that expectations are famous for. What we do with that disappointment determines how much pleasure we can have in the ensuing moments.

In a previous post on spiritual singles, I wrote a bit about mindfulness, a spiritual practice through which we develop awareness, cognizance and understanding of things, our “selves”, feelings, thoughts, other people and Reality. The practice of mindfulness is all about discovering one’s expectations of self and then letting go of them.

Through the ongoing practice of becoming present with experience “as it is,” there is a gradual increase in experiencing things as they are, without trying to change them (and a subsequent joyfulness in the experiences). In the simplicity of accepting something—including oneself—as it is, there is a release of the need to be something “better.”

Another way to deal with unmet expectations is to reframe the experience. Suppose I expected to see a movie tonight but when I got to the theater, I discovered that the movie was no longer being shown. Besides feeling disappointed or angry, I could immediately look around for another pleasure. I could take this as a gift and look to see what else is playing or what other interesting, cool things might be around.

6. BECOME AN ADVOCATE FOR FUN

fun while datingThis is really the cherry on top of this whole cake. The most important thing to do and remember is to HAVE FUN!

For years, I had put a moratorium on dating because I had made my past dating experiences so incredibly grueling — I can’t say I ever really had fun while I was dating. Which is why I decided that I needed to regroup and “do the proper preparation” (as I always advocate to my clients).

Recently though I’ve been thinking it’s time to get back out there since I know that my partner is not going to magically appear on his own.

This time, however, I knew that I needed a different approach. This time I decided that I was going to go into dating with the intention of having FUN.

So as a result, I made it clear on my profile that I want to have fun and described what fun looks like to me. (Fun is a custom experience after all.) I realize now that without fun, there really isn’t anything. In my opinion, fun is a great place for two people (who don’t know each other at all) to begin — because let’s be honest — if we’re not having fun, we’re not likely to want to see someone again.

In the past, I had a negative image of having fun while dating. I thought that if I told men I wanted to have fun that they wouldn’t take me seriously or see me as the mature and dynamic woman I am. I assumed they would see or hear the word “fun” and think I was shallow, or just looking for sex.

But what I have found is just the opposite. I am being very honest and authentic when I speak about having fun. What ends up happening is that while having fun with someone, I build a potential foundation for things moving forward.

What also has changed is that I am more willing to go out on a date or two (or three or four) with someone who I wouldn’t have normally dated.

This experiment reinforced for me what I already knew: that if I am too rigid and focus too much attention on what I am “looking” for (and what everything must look like and feel like in that process), I am missing out on allowing myself to experience something special.

couple arcadeSo ~ Be charming, be friendly, enjoy the time you’re spending with this person. If you don’t make it a priority to have fun with the person you’re with, you’re going to get overwhelmed with boring. Who wants that kind of life? I’m sure you don’t. So next time you go out on a date, remember to smile and show off your confidence and fun side and set the intention to have a great time, no matter what!

The Glass Delusion: how our illogical beliefs block love

The Glass Delusion: how our illogical beliefs block love

Attitudes

If you’ve been searching for “the one” or want to lose weight or do better in your career or reach any kind of goal, but haven’t had any luck, ask yourself this question: what’s really stopping you from success?

When you think of your dream or aspiration, are you flooded with negative thoughts? Do you not fully believe it’s achievable? Or perhaps you secretly fear that you’ll achieve your goal and then everything will be different.

If this sounds true for you, then you are suffering from limiting beliefs.

What is a Limiting Belief?

Limiting beliefs are those negative thoughts you think over and over and over again. They’re the ones that create negative manifestations in your life and prevent you from creating what you want most.

Your limiting beliefs tell you something is impossible and so it is.

Your limiting beliefs tell you that all the good men are taken, or women only want to date rich men, and so you manifest scenarios where they are!

limiting beliefs

The problem with these negative thoughts is that they usually seem so real that they act like a brick wall holding you in place. They are invisible obstacles holding you back from success, turning your life into a self-fulfilling prophecy. They limit our potential.

Are you suffering from the Glass Delusion?

I recently read a story that illustrates exactly how irrational our “beliefs” can be and the damage they can cause if we accept them lock stock and barrel.

During the late Medieval period, around the 15th to 17th centuries, according to the History of Psychiatry, a psychiatric disorder swept through Europe: The Glass Delusion. Many people believed that they were made of glass and were likely to shatter into pieces with even the slightest of contact.

Such a belief meant that people took great lengths to change their lifestyle habits, adjust their behaviors, and even avoid human contact so they wouldn’t shatter.

For example, a 1561 medical account describes a patient “who had to relieve himself standing up, fearing that if he sat down, his buttocks would shatter. This man constantly applied a small cushion to his buttocks, even when standing.” Another reported sufferere was the French king, King Charles VI, who refused to let anyone touch him, and even wore reinforced clothing to protect himself from “shattering”!

Charles VI, King of France, who suffered from the Glass Delusion.

Charles VI, King of France, who suffered from the Glass Delusion.

Now, if you’re like me, you probably find this glass belief comical since we obviously know that humans aren’t made of glass. It seems silly that people would modify their lives over such an irrational and misguided fear. However, this belief was very real to European people then and they acted in accord to their fears. (This story also illustrates how beliefs can spread like colds, which we’ll talk about in an upcoming post.)

However hilarious this story is, the Glass Delusion is not the only instance where our beliefs shape our behaviors. To this day, we are entirely capable of believing wholeheartedly in things that are not true and then, act accordingly.

The only difference between limiting and the Glass Delusion is that one centered on physical contact, while our limiting beliefs are centered on our emotions, relationships, goals and dreams.

Either way, these beliefs become so deeply embedded in us, we’re not even aware that they lurk in our subconscious.

Your limiting beliefs are no less irrational than the Medieval European’s glass belief, and they are preventing you from living your best life!

wine-glass-shatterHow to avoid the Glass Delusion

The first step to moving past these limiting viewpoints is to recognize that they are there.

So take a deep breath, and notice if any of these common beliefs sound familiar to you – especially when it comes to your beliefs about yourself as a Single and about relationships.

#1 – I’m Not Good Enough

Probably the most common belief that stops us in our tracks, both in our love lives and in other areas of life is: I’m not good enough (As in, “I’m not good enough to find love the way I am … If only I were better, I might find love.”) Variations on this theme include “I’m not young enough (As in, “How will I ever find a partner at my age?!”), I’m not attractive enough (As in, “Men only like women who look like Angelina Jolie  – or Women only want to date men who look like George Clooney”), I’m not rich enough (As in, “People only want to date someone who has money.”) or I’m not smart enough (“I need to be witty and wise on dates or I’ll never have a second date.”)… Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Basically, the belief is that “I’m not OK the way I am, and I should be different.” When you believe you’re not OK the way you are, you’ll tend to beat yourself up and feel discouraged and unhappy.

You’ll actually repel love away, because we all want to be around others who feel comfortable and content with themselves, not those who believe they’re not good enough and are constantly struggling.

#2 – I’ll Never Get What I Want

Another common limiting belief is “I can’t have what I really want, so I should just settle for what I can get.” This is a hugely common belief; many of us give up and feel resigned to our lot in life without making an effort to get what we really want.

If you buy into the belief that you can’t have your heart’s desire when it comes to love, you’ll probably accept whatever relationships show up, and stay with people who are not good matches for you. You may spend years, even decades, feeling disappointed with your love life and wishing things were different.

When you think you have to settle for what you can get, you’ll probably be afraid to take risks and try something new. When you believe you can’t have what you really want, it may feel too painful to even ask what you really do want. Without a clear vision, you’ll find it very challenging to manifest your dreams.

#3 – I’ll Only Wind Up Hurt … Again

If you’ve made it to adulthood, which obviously you have, you’ve probably experienced hurt, disappointment or rejection. If you’re like me, you’ve probably made a series of relationship decisions that resulted in multiple instances of being broken hearted. And then you convince yourself that you’ll wind up hurt, disappointed or rejected again, and that you won’t be able to handle it.

While you may be “getting out there” in the dating world, if you secretly believe relationships are dangerous and scary, you’ll avoid getting close enough to anyone to let love in. You may decide to play it safe and avoid dating and relationships all together, convincing yourself that you prefer the company of your dog and NCIS on CBS.

#4 – My Situation Isn’t My Fault

If only YOU were different, I could be happy. If YOU changed, my problems would go away. When you blame others for your problems, you keep yourself stuck in victim mode. By not taking responsibility for your part in creating the discomfort you are experiencing, you may feel that you’re “in the right” but you’re essentially handing over your power. If you’re quick to blame someone else for what’s wrong in your life, you reinforce your own helplessness. When we blame, we make the other person wrong and we make ourselves right… a surefire way to destroy intimacy and empathy in your relationships.

#5 – I’ll Be Happy When I’m in a Relationship

This is possibly the biggest lie out there and arguably the one that most of us believe. Surely if there’s someone who thinks we’re special, who wants to be with us and spend time with us, that’s a surefire recipe for bliss, right? Wrong. Somebody, anybody is not better than nobody. Don’t get me wrong, a relationship with the right person is a wonderful experience well worth the effort. But if you’re looking for someone to fill an empty spot in your heart, you’re asking for the impossible and will end up disappointed.

The truth is that no partner, no matter how perfect or charming, can make you happy all on his or her own. Happiness is individual sport. How you see yourself, the kinds of people you surround yourself with, the way you see you job and your place in society – all of these will impact your happiness in a way that no partner ever could. And this is great news. It means that you don’t have to wait for anyone, you can start working toward being happier right now.

#6 – Relationships Happen When I’m Not Really Looking

Most people hold the belief that true love should just show up when you’re least expecting it, and there’s nothing you can do to prepare for the love you want. It may seem that way to some happily married people because they never expected that the person who is now The One to be the one. That person didn’t come in to their lives with a business card saying “I’m The One — Happiness Guaranteed.” So, in retrospect, their meeting may seem on the surface serendipitous, as if it were all part of the mysterious workings of fate. But they were looking and they were open — if they weren’t, they would have never given The One a chance.

I don’t believe it’s possible to not be looking. To not look is to give up any hope of finding love.

If you have ever said I’d be open to a relationship if the right person came along, realize that statement doesn’t make any sense. How can you meet someone if you never put yourself out there (in an intelligent way, of course)? The One doesn’t magically show up on your door step, or at your office, or even in your yoga class, and decide to breakdown all the walls you’ve put up because you’re “not looking.”

If you were unemployed, would you sit around and magically hope that a job was going to fall in your lap while you were “doing something you loved,” like painting watercolors or watching Harry Potter marathons?

 

 

Now that you know how to identify limiting beliefs, you may want to take steps to eliminate them. My coaching programs offer many ways to free you from the constraints of negative thinking that block you from finding and connecting to the love you truly deserve. Don’t stay stuck with limiting beliefs that keep you unhappy, separate and disconnected from others.

Keep reading to discover the various ways you can take the next step.

Kiss Cam Fail Illustrates Relationship Doom

Kiss Cam Fail Illustrates Relationship Doom

Attitudes

The other day a friend alerted me to a video that was going viral – at a Chicago Bulls game, a couple is caught on a kiss cam arguing and a mascot comes rushing in to whisk the woman off. The video went viral as so many people thought the gaffe was hilarious. (See the end of this post for the video.)

I thought the video was pretty unfortunate for several reasons:

First: their behavior contains clear clues that this relationship is going to eventually fail. But not before they tear each other apart in the process.

Second: I can’t help but feel that most people’s reactions indicated a certain level of acceptance of their behavior. Thinking that romantic relationships naturally contain a certain amount of venom will set you up for failure.

If you’re interested in a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kind of a relationship, allow me to show you exactly what’s going on so that you do not fall into this same trap.

Relationship Doom Clues

The Gottman Institute analyzed 130 newlywed couples to identify top predictors of divorce. They came up with six key indicators of relationship doom: harsh start up, negativity (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling), flooding, body language, failed repair attempts, and bad memories.

When I look at the video through the lens of these indicators, I can see this interaction exemplifies four of the six key indicators of relationship failure. More than likely the other two are displayed behind their closed doors.

couple fighting bullhorn2Harsh Start Up:

Within the first three second of the video, we see the woman realize she’s on camera and then harshly try to get his attention physically. His response is rather attacking. This is a classic harsh startup.

According to Gottman, when a discussion leads off with criticism and/or sarcasm (a form of contempt), it has begun with a “harsh startup.” Research shows that if your discussion begins with a harsh startup, it will inevitably end on a negative note.

Negativity:

After she punches him in the arm, he turns on her rather angrily. She responds with admonishment. Their entire interaction is negative.

Certain types of negativity if allowed to run rampant, are so lethal to a relationship, according to Gottman, that they are called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These include: Criticism (attacking a person’s character); Defensiveness (self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or victimhood, in attempt to ward off a perceived attack); Contempt (statements that come from a relative position of superiority displayed through sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eyerolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor); and finally Stonewalling (when the listener withdraws from the interaction).

While we can’t hear what she is saying, you can read her body language – if I were to guess, I’d say she’s engaging in Criticism and Contempt. His body language, on the other hand, is one of defensiveness.

Flooding:

When he reacts to her prodding so angrily, it obviously was “threatening” and thus stimulated an emotional reaction in the mascot who felt compelled to not only thwack the man on the head but rescue the woman. This is an example of Flooding.

Flooding means that your partner’s negativity – whether in the guise of criticism or contempt or even defensiveness – is so overwhelming, and so sudden, that it stimulates fight or flight. Eventually, this kind of pattern over time leaves a person shell-shocked or stunned.

A marriage’s meltdown can be predicted, then, by habitual harsh startup and frequent flooding brought on by the relentless presence of the four horsemen during disagreements.

TwoSamuraiBody Language:

I don’t think we really need to dissect the obvious, do we?

 

It takes time for the four horsemen and flooding that comes in their wake to overrun a marriage. And yet, says the Gottman Institute, relationship doom can so often be predicted by listening to a single conversation.

How can this be?

The answer is that by analyzing any disagreement a couple has, you get a good sense of the pattern they tend to follow. Over time, these kinds of interactions elicit bad feelings that continue to pile up until they drown the relationship.

The ironic thing is that these interactions are entirely avoidable.

So do yourself a favor. Don’t become this couple.

Once you find a partner who you love, do your very best to nurture the relationship in a healthy way. The behavior displayed by this couple is too often regarded at the “norm” – the nagging wife, the stonewalling husband… or worse, the angry or abusive husband.

This is why I stress so heartily to my community to do proper preparation while they are single before getting into a relationship. By enrolling in my VIP coaching program, Become Successfully Single & Relationship Ready, you’ll better understand how to get your needs met in a relationship and learn how to communicate your needs calmly, positively and constructively.

You’ll also learn how to avoid entirely a potential partner with whom your needs will never be met. It takes a lot of learning, unraveling, persistence, dedication and consistency to recognize your behavioral patterns and your attitudes – especially if you didn’t have good role models throughout your life. With the right kind of support, you can do this. This is why the rewards of coaching with me return a thousand-fold.

If you’re serious about co-creating a superlative romantic partnership, you need to enroll now. Click HERE to book an appointment today so we can discuss how my programs will support you in your goals.

 

7 tips to find happiness after loss or separation

7 tips to find happiness after loss or separation

Solutions

The other day I gave a presentation to about 20 singles over the age of 50 and, coincidentally or not, a fair number of them had lost their beloveds and were now trying to move forward and create a new chapter for themselves.

It got me to think about a large majority of my Empowered Singles community since a huge percentage have suffered a relationship loss … whether through widowhood or divorce or a breakup of a long-term “common law” relationship.

It also got me to thinking about how quickly some of these people jump back into wanting to date.

Losing a significant relationship in life is never easy, especially after you and your former partner walked side by side together for a length of time. The loss of a close relationship can feel like emotional amputation. You may feel sad and alone, as if you’re missing an important part of yourself. If you were on the receiving end of a break up, you may feel angry, rejected or betrayed.

The good news is that the sadness doesn’t last forever. However, it’s important to approach the process of “getting back out there again” in an intelligent, healthy way. As I’ve said before, those who have suffered a loss may be feeling badly about themselves or may feel afraid that they’re going to wind up alone and then rush in blindly and desperately.

When we’re in the middle of so much pain, it may be hard to get clear bearings about our experiences. In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” To learn more about this process, I encourage you to visit her foundation’s web site:  HERE 

For now, however, to make the process smoother, and to give yourself the best chance of being happy, here are seven tips to healing and finding happiness again:

  1. Let Yourself Grieve

Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. It’s also a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss

When we feel pain from a loss, allowing ourselves time to grieve is one of the most important steps in the healing process. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

Find healthy outlets where you can safely express your emotions. Talk with supportive friends, write in a journal, see a counselor, or pray to your maker. Acknowledge the pain and hurt. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Those who don’t allow themselves to grieve carry repressed pain which will inevitably affect future relationships. When you let yourself grieve, you give yourself the gift of compassion.

  1. Care for Yourself

It’s easy to feel sorry for oneself after a relationship loss, and in doing so neglect one’s own wellbeing. Some people self-blame, while some blame others and view themselves as the victim. There may be an urge to mope endlessly and wallow negatively. Some punish themselves consciously or unconsciously.

The more difficult the separation, the more important it is to take good care of yourself. This is the time to face your feelings and not suppress them. By acknowledging the pain, you allow yourself to resolve the pain. Unresolved grief can lead to symptoms such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse and health problems. If you don’t relish the thought of wallowing, express your feelings in creative ways, such as writing in a journal.

Remember to be your own advocate. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel … and don’t tell yourself what you should be feeling either. Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find joy, and to let go when you’re ready.

  1. Plan Ahead for Grief “Triggers”

Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and milestones can revive memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional blow, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or life event with other people, talk with them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on ways you can honor where you are at the moment. You may be tempted to isolate yourself at these times – if you do, make sure you’re not doing so because you’re wallowing. Which leads us to…

  1. Lean on Your Healthy Support Network

The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from, accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help you heal.

Try not to think that you’re imposing on other people … and try not to feel ashamed about asking for help. No person is an island — more than likely, your loved ones would love to help yet probably aren’t sure how to. Express your needs – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

When interacting with your support system, you may be tempted to over-analyze and obsess over your loss. While processing is important and healthy, be mindful if you find yourself endlessly revisiting the past and rehashing wounds.

“Normal people have problems. The smart ones get help.”
― Daniel Amen

  1. Be Physical

There’s a saying that I really like: “motion dictates emotion.” How we use our body affects greatly how we feel. The easiest way to feel lousy about yourself is to keep your head down, slouching like a couch potato, and wallow in misery. Conversely, studies show that healthy and enjoyable physical activities can energize your body, lift your emotions, and enliven your spirit.

  1. Allow for Peaceful Alone-time

As hard as this may seem, given our supreme fear of loneliness, allow yourself time for what my teachers call serene solitude, and learn to be comfortable with your own company. Engage in enjoyable, solitary activities that let you to feel peace and strength on your own. Get to know yourself again. This is a vital step if you’re interested in forming healthy relationships in the future.

  1. Volunteer

When you’re ready, reach out and help others in greater need than you. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit an elderly home, or engage in other types of meaningful work or community service. Working with others who are in greater need than you will help put life into perspective. You’ll realize how fortunate you are. Plus you’ll be contributing to the world in a meaningful way, which will boost your self-esteem.

Whatever you do, please take your time.

heal a broken heart

If you honor these seven tips, you’ll find that soon enough you’ll be in good shape physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ll be in a much better position to get out into the world as an Empowered Single, loving your life and ready to co-create an extraordinary relationship.

If you feel that you need some support to help you navigate the waters, to become successfully single and then relationship ready, please set up an appointment with me, so we can discuss how I can best support you. Email me HERE.