Thursday, September 10, 2015

Relationships Are Supposed to Be Challenging


Love may be "easy", but relationships were never meant to be that way.

Ideally, relationships are based on love. You commit to a person because you love them. Love is supposed to be easy. Love is supposed to flow with ease and permeate every fiber of your being. Love is supposed to show you the way and be your foundation and guide your decisions.

 It sounds pretty simple, and it could be. But we are human beings and human beings are known for being perfectly flawed and riddled with complexes, insecurities, illusions, entitlements, and bad habits. We're all capable of radiating love towards ourselves and our partners, but as humans, we are also equipped with obstacles that get in the way.

And this is why relationships can hurt so much sometimes. When we let our inner obstacles get in the way of love, we withdraw love. We can withdraw love from ourselves, from our partners, or altogether. When we withdraw our love, we create a space for pain to fill. We fill that space with our frustrations, failures, anger, anxieties, sadness, negativity, jealousy, possessiveness, and anything else that blurs the entire point of being in a relationship.

We get into relationships because we crave intimacy with our partner. We love being around them. And as humans, the more we find ourselves around the same person, the more that person serves as a mirror for us. When we engage in deep, long term relationships, our partners reflect back to us  many of the unprocessed, unexamined aspects of our selves. Partners unlock doors we never knew we had to show us rooms full of forgotten and misplaced pieces of our selves.

What matters is what we do with those forgotten and misplace pieces of our selves. When our partner makes us upset, we have the choice of getting mad at them for opening up that room and forcing all of this unwanted mess to come spilling out. We also have the choice of going into that room, looking at the contents, and throwing out what no longer serves us. We can examine and organize the rest of the contents and make that room hospitable for our partner. We allow our partner to know us deeper that way.

Looking at the contents of that room is not easy. Getting that door opened up can sting. But it is natural and it is necessary.

Fights in relationships are always going to happen.

 As evolving individuals, partners are going to evolve differently with life and all that life brings. New desires, new ways of fulfilling needs, new interests, new mindsets and beliefs, and new philosophies will constantly propel a change in the individual and a change in the relationship. This is good- people are always evolving and trying to stop that evolution only results in more pain and un-fulfillment.

The transformations individuals undergo will not always blend so easily with their partners' at first. Opposing viewpoints, decisions, and reactions are always going to occur between partners. This will stir some things up and open doors. Maybe entire rooms will need to be broken down to better fit the individual and the relationship. What matters is that two partners remember that they are trying to grow closer together while respecting each other's individuality.

If one partner always rearranged their stuff because the other partner got upset over certain issues, then inequality is formed. One partner is evolving for the relationship, while the other partner refuses to evolve at all. Love is withdrawn, pain occurs, and unhealthy distance is created.

That distance is not the same as space. When partners create healthy space, they do it out of awareness and love for each other's needs and desires. Distance is not created out of love. It is created out of the absence of love.

Since fights are always going to happen, the best that two partners can do is to fight in a healthy and constructive way. Low blows should be avoided at all costs. Temperaments needs to be considered- if one partner is a complete hot head, they probably need time to cool off before expressing their frustrations and addressing important problems in the relationship.

Fights can turn into opportunities for expression. Don't be scared of expressing anger and frustration- its going to happen. Don't take it too personally. We get annoyed and react. Emotions and tension arise. We shouldn't suppress our emotions. We need to let all that pent up energy be expressed.

What is important is how that energy is expressed. When we are angry in fights, we can say "I am so frustrated because I feel and think this way." By doing so, we can get things off our chest without unnecessarily wounding our partner. If we take the blame game route by saying something like, "You are so stupid, why are you doing this?!" we only feed our pain and we wound our partners. Taking this approach also gives away our personal power- we make our partner completely responsible for our reactions and feelings. Whenever we give away our personal power, we fail.

Sometimes, those latter comments may spill out and we should apologize. But if partners agree to be more conscientious and productive during their fights, the quicker the energy may be released. When we release those negative energies, we remove the obstacles that lead us to withdraw love. Love can flow and bring partners even closer together.

Fights are going to happen. Challenges are going to arise. Tension will be created. It is a given because change is a given, and no two people will change in completely identical ways.

What is crucial to a loving, successful relationship is that the value of love and intimacy is upheld no matter what. You may be yelling at each other and crying, but if you remember that you love each other and want to get those negative feelings out ASAP so you can cuddle and look into each other's eyes with total adoration, then fighting will bring you closer.

Conflict is a natural part of life, so is confrontation. Don't be scared of them. Embrace it. Own it. Growing pains may hurt, but it means that you're growing.

You're not perfect. Your partner is not perfect and no partner ever will be. Don't climb onto a high horse thinking that you are above conflict and constructive fighting. If you believe that you will be happy with someone for a long time without ever fighting, then you are falling for a terrible illusion.

Relationships are engaged in for growth. The more we learn in relationships, and the more challenges we conquer, the stronger we become. We gain so much awareness, insight, depth, and improve our capacity to love. We become better at remembering what really matters. Our communication skills are refined. We become more open minded, considerate, compassionate, empathetic, and patient.

This doesn't mean that constant fighting is good. If you're with someone who drives you crazy all the time, then you're in the wrong relationship. If you practice healthy fighting, then you should feel energized from being brought closer together. If you just feel drained all the time, or if your partner doesn't want to have more constructive confrontations, stop seeing this person. 

No one will be able to tell you who is right for you for certain, but life is about gaining more wisdom to be able the discern those things for yourself. If your relationship results in you constantly withdrawing love from yourself and/or your partner, then you should really take an honest look at the relationship and why you're in it. Are you both growing or willing to grow? Do you love each other or do you just love the idea of each other? Are you together because you love that person or are you together to fill a void? Do you recognize lessons your partner can teach you through your different personalities or are you just together because it is convenient and easy?

There are lots of questions and life is about constantly asking them and letting the evolving answers come to the surface. Practice balance in all aspects of your life and relationship. Be more aware and intentional. Know where you need to move towards.

Amazing, passionate relationships are not for the faint of heart. Sure, you could be with someone you're not really crazy about because your relationship is easy. But if you want to feel more, then let yourself be challenged. Don't let yourself resent the qualities in your partner you loved so much in the beginning. Don't let yourself be complacent.

Recognize the teacher in your partner.  Recognize the student in them, as well. Honor that. Honor the teacher and student in yourself. Honor intimacy and love. Don't be scared. Don't shrivel away just because things get hard and life calls on you to own up to your shit and put your foot down. Fear WILL kill your relationship. Weakness of character WILL kill your relationship.

Relationships are meant to refine you. Learn and adapt and love.





 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Can't Trust Anyone? Does Everyone Let You Down? Do You Hate People? How Limiting Beliefs Hurt Your Social Life



One of the most limiting beliefs that people may invest in is the belief that others are trying to bring them down and limit them. While this realization is necessary and helpful in recognizing an abusive relationship, this belief is otherwise useless and needs to be dropped. It is time to move on.

Everyone is on different stages of the healing path. The path can't be rushed or forced, but it can be encouraged. I am here to encourage you to get out of a certain rut on the path that dictates that you will come across more and more interactions/relationships that continue to disappoint you.

If you have the belief that other people can't handle you or that other people are just trying to bring you down/ dim your light, then you're going to be proved right. If you're tired of being proven right, then stop the belief.

Why You Formed The Belief
It couldn't hurt to wonder why you formed and adopted the belief in the first place.

Did you just get out of a slew of bad relationships where the other party fed on you like a parasite? Were you taken advantage of or betrayed? Were you sorely disappointed with your unequal friendship?

If you've had those experiences, that means you didn't set boundaries with people and you didn't execute the necessary judgment crucial to investing in the type of relationships you want. Maybe you never really thought about what kind of relationship you wanted so you just took what you could because it seemed easy or right.

Now you know better. Now you know that you need to really sit down and think about what type of relationship you want. What do you want to get out of a relationship? What do you want to share and receive? What needs do you have and how does the relationship you want contribute to those needs?

You also have to drop limiting beliefs. If you believe that people are just out to get you, that nobody can be trusted, and that everyone sucks, then you're only going to get those people in your life. Your beliefs dictate your outlook on your life, and your outlook on life dictates the filter through which you see life. If your beliefs and outlooks on relationships are negative and centered around disappointment, your filter will most strongly recognize the negative and the disappointing. Get to the root of your problems and nip it at the bud.

You then have to replace those limiting beliefs with beliefs that help you grow and expand. Try a few on for size- you can't expect yourself to go from "People suck" to "I love everyone and genuinely see the love and blessings within each person." That is WAY too big of a jump and trying to clear that distance will only cause you to create more resistance and doubt. Resistance and doubt will only feed your negativity and bring you back to hating the world.

Baby steps, okay? You have to take baby steps. Maybe you can go from "People Suck" to "Okay, there are some tolerable people in my life who I enjoy being around sometimes." Maybe you can go from "Everyone is out to get me" to "Wow, that lady didn't have to help me but she went out of her way to do it anyway and it didn't make her life better but she still insisted."

Be honest and unashamed of your steps- learning to trust the world and other people is a journey. If you've been burned, it can be hard to open up and believe again. So don't expect yourself to magically love the world when you've spent the last few months giving everyone the internal eye roll. Don't expect yourself to fall madly into a safe and nurturing love when you've been nursing a broken heart caused by someone who didn't prioritize your feelings after all. You're healing, but as long as you are open to healing and open to reaching for something that feels better and reaching for openness and love, as long as you are growing towards the good then it doesn't matter how slowly you're doing it.

Learn to recognize your negative thoughts that contribute to your negative beliefs. Stop them in their tracks. That doesn't mean you have to force yourself to feel better. Let yourself recognize and accept that you feel negative, but reach for something that feels a little better. Replace a 1/10 thought with a 2/10 thought (on the negativity/positivity spectrum). Take 0.1 steps towards that big 10/10 if you have to. But be honest on where you are on that scale in those moments of negativity and assure yourself that you're going to reach for something better and that you WILL grab it and pull yourself towards it.

Be patient. If you've recently ended friendships, it can take a while until you've got another flourishing social group. That's okay, you can't rush intimacy and familiarity. Be okay with meeting people and giving them a try. Meet people based on mutual interests- sometimes the space you have for someone is a space of companionship rather than a deep, intimate bond. Make it about enjoying someone's company in the moment.

Be okay with small talk and silence. Be okay with having to initiate. Be okay with being turned down and don't take it personally. Don't be afraid of turning invitations down because you don't want to offend someone- just do it politely. Be honest with yourself when making choices- if you hate parties, ask yourself why you hate parties. Maybe you hate parties because you hate awkwardly making small talk with a bunch of strangers you have nothing in common with. Recognize that this is a limiting belief- there ARE people out there that go to parties that have interests similar to yours. Invest in that belief and get out of your shell.

But don't force it. If you know that you're going to hang out in a group and someone in that group has a vibe you really don't like, then don't go. You'll probably just act really negatively. Save that interaction for a time when you feel more open and positive. Ask yourself why you don't like their vibe and explore your beliefs from there. Our judgments are a useful way of exploring our own belief system and our preferences. Just keep the judgments constructive- don't spend precious time and energy hating on someone but do invest time and energy into evaluating whether or not you want to invest time WITH that person and explore the reasoning behind it. See if that reasoning is linked to helpful or harmful beliefs.

Let yourself be discerning but let yourself be open minded and open hearted. Sometimes you can only genuinely connect with some people in certain ways- maybe one person is suited to be your gym buddy, but interactions outside of the gym feel forced and disappointing. Maybe one person shares amazing conversation with you one to one, but when you go out, it just sucks for a few reasons. Maybe someone is your soul mate and you love them from the depths of your soul.

Open yourself to the diversity that is the ever changing human existence, and maybe (TOTALLY) find a pet to love and adore. A loving dog or cat is there for you to express that total softie in you that you probably haven't felt safe enough or driven enough to express with another human being. But that softie is extremely important and letting him/her shine is crucial to true happiness. So let yourself heal, take baby steps, and cuddle with your animal soul mate, or two or three, on the couch and binge watch Netflix and feel happy and be in love with how your life is at that moment. It will do you way more good than forced interaction, but be courageous from time to time and see the good in others. Your inner loving softie will find other inner loving softies in others and in no time you'll have another person or two in your life that you can love and adore. And do some volunteering or visit your family or help clean the earth. Connection is the feeling you are after so engage in it in a way that helps you firmly set your ground higher and higher up on that positivity scale.

Maybe its a cat. Maybe its a dog. Maybe its an author. Maybe its a volunteering group. But do things that help restore your faith and love in other humans and in the world and you will be happier and you will find your limiting beliefs dissolving. Also be kind to yourself and really care for yourself. It is hard to be positive and it is hard to make progress on cultivating more constructive beliefs if you feel sick and stressed and exhausted. Love yourself too.





 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to Stop Being So Offended By Everything



Taking everything personally sucks.

You get frustrated, angry, and offended by opinions that usually weren't expressed for the purpose of an attack or threat. This tendency leads you to feel alienated, oversensitive, and alone.

I'm sure you don't want to feel alienated, oversensitive, and alone.

Its fine to be offended. If someone says or does something that you find genuinely harmful/ignorant/wrong, you have every right to speak up, challenge their opinion and defend your own.

The problem lies in entitlement. If you think people should cater to your beliefs/opinions and tiptoe around you to indulge your reactiveness/oversensitivity, then you will be disappointed time and time again. You will turn into an emotional wreck and no one of strong character will want to be around you because you will irritate them with your neediness and entitlement.

It can suck to hear, but no one wants to be around a  judgmental crybaby.

It's great to be sensitive, and it's great to be in touch with your emotions. It's great to nurture your emotions and it's great to surround yourself with people who are gentle with your emotions. Despite all of the positivity that comes from emotional sensitivity, it is not to be confused with emotional fragility and entitlement.

Emotionally fragile and entitled people expect others to cater to their reactiveness. They see themselves as delicate flowers in a cruel world. Instead of working on their own sense of self and strengthening their ability to respond to situations, they indulge their tendency to react and expect the world to honor that reactiveness.

We all do it, but life is really going to suck for you if you do it all the time.

Allowing yourself to indulge your emotional fragility without any attempt at emotional maturity is to rob yourself of personal growth. To choose to be totally engulfed in how you feel and to allow yourself to get wrapped up in your reactions is to blind yourself from seeing the bigger picture and remove yourself from the responsibility of trying out new perspectives and point of views. Doing this dismisses other people's opinions and reduces them to attacks on yourself/ total wrongness/ evil. Sure, sometimes people can say things that are an attack on you, totally wrong, and evil, but the emotional fragile are too blind to really differentiate between genuine personal attacks and genuine self expression.

The first step in becoming more emotionally mature and responsive (rather than reactive) is to admit to yourself that you can be really reactive and forgive yourself for it. Decide that you are going to try to be more open minded and less self centered and truly set that intention. Remind yourself of that intention and be patient with yourself.

The next step is to figure out what triggers your reactiveness. What are you projecting onto others? What expectations are you upholding that do not make sense to uphold? Examine your belief system and pay attention to what has and continues to make you upset.

Sensitive about your weight and body image? Stop expecting the outside world to validate your body. Stop expecting the outside world to see the beauty in your body. Stop expecting the outside world to cater to and indulge your diet, your exercise level, and your size. If you're sensitive about your body, try to figure out why. Own up to that reason and truly examine if that reason is based on a belief that is good for you or bad for you. Before reacting to comments about weight, which might not even be directed at you, stop and ask yourself why you are reacting. If it hurts, why does it hurt? Either do the work of looking inside and examining yourself or accept  the reality of becoming miserable and overbearing.

Sensitive about your religious/political views? Not everyone does or should believe in what you believe in. Accept that. Focus more on being a loving, considerate person. Don't generalize.

Offended by others' behavior/word choice? Think about it first, then respond. Don't like someone's behavior, tell them you don't and really listen to their explanation. Don't like a word someone used? Ask them why they use it and tell them why it bothers you. If they don't agree with you, then agree to disagree. If it's that hurtful, then communicate that hurt.

Getting offended and upset is a cop out. It doesn't do anything. You can cry and complain all you want, but that doesn't do anything towards building the life you want and sharing the values you uphold. It's lazy. It's ineffective. It's an energy drain. It's choosing to be a self absorbed drama queen. It's choosing to nitpick little details and it's being okay with your inability to judge whether something is worth getting super upset about or not.

We all can do this. The important part is recognizing that we do this and setting the intention to stop. This can be way harder with people you love because you (usually subconsciously) expect them to cater to your emotional needs. It can be hard to differentiate emotional needs from emotional insecurities. Sometimes fights snowball and you become over reactive, but that is 1. different from being overly offended all the time and 2. another occasion to heed this advice and respond rather than react.

Try to communicate your concerns. Ask the other person to explain their belief/statement, and really listen. Stop projecting the worst onto them. It's okay if you feel resistance and emotion bubbling up and lingering, but hold the intention to understand and get over it and establish something more productive over the intention to indulge yourself and play victim.

Stop looking for things to get offended by. Stop with the self important view that everything is about you. See the bigger picture. Put yourself into their shoes. If the bigger picture really sucks, say something. If the bigger picture is that your insecurities are being triggered, then make an intention to work on your insecurities and stop expecting people to indulge them. Stop expecting everyone to agree with you. Stop expecting others to behave according to some rule book in your head about what's proper and what's improper without question. Stop being a control freak who doesn't control their own emotions.

Be a better person. Be a stronger person. Be open minded. Be a more thoughtful and understanding person. It's a journey, and everyone sucks at it sometimes. But don't accept it. Have a sense of humor and learn how to laugh it off, stick your tongue out and give your friend the middle finger, get over it, and focus on love.

-Wynona










 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What True Love Is Like For An Alpha Woman


 

 

Dear fellow women who have been called intimidating, strong, and free-spirited, do not fall for the lies that massage your ego. Fellow ladies who identify with being fearless, a leader, a force to reckoned with, do not cheat yourself by prescribing to a set of limiting beliefs that only reinforce a tainted lens that robs you of seeing the full beauty in your truly delicate, vulnerable life. Alpha women, do not settle for a lifestyle that operates from a place of dismissal and arrogance in life and in love.

Strong, independent ladies- do not fuck yourself over by accepting your current crowd. Your current crowd is what drives you to differentiate yourself. Your current environment is what drives you to profess your superiority to the pettiness and mindlessness that surrounds you. Do not cheat yourself by thinking this is where your throne resides. Do not cheat yourself by believing that this is the kingdom over which you reign supreme- you as the alpha female in the land of the stupid, foolish, and lost.

Your work isn’t done.

A true alpha woman does not allow herself to be surrounded by that which does not humble her, amaze her, and inspire her to deepen and soften into her connections. She always strives to fill her life with more opportunities to love and see others as whole, and in doing so, she attracts more people into her life that have done equal work on themselves. And she no longer has to differentiate herself. An entitled girl needs to separate herself, make herself special, and make herself different like a premiere product to be coveted and sold. The alpha woman refuses to do so- she opts for choices that resonate with what she truly loves and expresses her interest in the world instead of an interest in status. She does not need to prove herself nor does she expect others to prove themselves to her. Through positivity and love, she finds her tribe. 

So do not proudly stomp your foot down as you claim that you aren’t ready to settle down and deem yourself more powerful and self realized for it. Do not arrogantly throw your head back as you roll your eyes at the men who don’t seem to have the balls to approach you, or the men who don’t have the power to keep you. Do not sit there on your shaky high horse and complain that no man is good enough for you.

For if you do this, you are not a true alpha woman- you are just an entitled little girl who gets too comfortable differentiating herself in an environment she feels she is too god for. And regardless of the potential for growth, intimacy, connection, and compassion offered to her, the entitled little girl will miss her chance because such opportunities are only seen and grasped by the humble.

And above all else, the true alpha woman is humble.

The true alpha woman is humble. She knows that everyone is growing and everyone has got their battles, pasts, pains, scars, patterns, and idiosyncrasies, including herself. She doesn’t expect perfection and she revels in the fact that, yes, building a satisfying relationship with someone requires "dirty" work. She can do this with a certainty that she knows her personal boundaries well enough to guarantee she never engage in abusive relations nor engage in a relationship she has to force. It requires both partners to spill out their guts and hurts and remain open and vulnerable to each other’s learned and innate qualities that can cause scathing friction. But they have the strength to see the bigger picture, to come back at it and communicate with an open heart and with acceptance. An alpha woman exercises the sole responsibility for her reactions, and expects the same from her partner. They stop making assumptions and they discuss their expectations. An entitled little girl will expect all her expectations to be fulfilled because he should just know and he made me feel this way. A true strong woman understands that he doesn’t just know, and she takes full responsibility of the power she has in communicating her needs, wants, hard rules, responses, and areas of flexibility. The alpha woman is comfortable enough in herself to let go of societal conditioning dictating relationship roles. An entitled girl expects the man to do all of the pursuing, the apologizing, and the leading. An alpha woman co-creates.

The true alpha woman doesn’t project her lack of self-realization and self-fulfillment onto an unattainable, unsustainable gypsy lifestyle. She is not too good for the small things in life, for the daily rituals, the everyday maintenance and necessities. She creates time and space and as budget to pursue passions and interests that she does not attach her self-identity onto. And so she doesn’t expect her partner to offer her all the spontaneities of the world. She appreciates the small things, she is grateful for what she can share with her partner, and she initiates these activities because she does not subscribe to a limiting belief that states that she should be the captivated once receiving a high from her partner. Nor does she expect her partner to be captivated by her passions. She is thankful to share her interests with her partner in mutually fulfilling ways. She does not need to be seem as a rare jewel.

The true alpha woman respects her partner’s needs and her own so much that she operates from a place of equal compassion and self-authenticity. She expects the same from her partner. If her partner needs her to explore and expand more of the facets of her being that express patience or intimacy or sympathy, she will dig deep and happily pour it out to a degree that is authentic to her. She lets herself play the mother, the  nurse, the best friend, the assistant, and the princess because she is honest enough to know when she or her partner needs to be coddled, challenged, encouraged, motivated, or shown some tough love. And she does this and expects this knowing that a true lover wears many hats, and not all of it is glamorous, and not all of it is sexy or passionate or high-inducing. She understands that true friendship and compassion is humbling, and she has a healthy enough sense of purpose to put pride away and freely give and receive what is needed. She knows she can be out of it sometimes and maybe act too abrasive, needy, or anxious. She allows her partner the same freedom. She loves knowing that she can ask for extra love and support so that she doesn't have to act out, and if she does act out, that's okay. Her and her partner make mistakes.

The alpha woman in true love knows that she needs it. She knows that the only relationship worth staying in for the long term is a truly fulfilling bond that more than satisfies her mind, heart, body, and soul. She knows that true love elevates her life to a state that nothing else can. She finds a sweet haven in her true love and she knows such happiness that she would be a fool to state that she does not truly need her partner. Her union lifts her so much that she does NEED it. She also knows that her partner does have a great deal of power in her life and her being, and she loves it. She loves knowing that, despite her self awareness and responsibility for her feelings, she is so entwined with her partner that he has a great influence over her emotions- both good and bad. She knows that this is part of a growth oriented relationship- she knows that when her partner brings up negative emotions in her, it is a chance for her to do some self exploration and involve herself in conscious self growth.  She is not too proud to say she doesn’t need her partner. She loves needing her partner. She loves knowing that her partner lights up her world to such a degree that she understands true happiness and union and that without her partner, such a high level of happiness could not exist. She loves knowing that she is equally needed and that her love and presence is crucial to her partner’s utmost wellbeing.

Because the alpha woman knows that once you experience true love, nothing else compares.

Nothing else compares to the look in her partner’s eyes that can cause her to burst into tears because she recognizes a depth of love and compassion that speaks to her heart in a way that penetrates every fiber of her being and resonates in every echo of her pulse. Nothing compares to how perfect and comforting and fulfilling a simple hug from her partner is. Nothing compares to being so familiar with her lover’s distinct warmth. Nothing compares to the way she can laugh after a fight because she is so sure that they love each other and are on each other’s team that their lapse in emotional reasoning is funny because it isn’t the truth of their bond. Nothing compares to the safety she feels in expressing every dark and light aspect of her being to her partner who will love her no matter what she says or feels. Nothing compares to being so in sync that she can feel her partner's emotions as vividly as she feels her own.  Nothing compares to the trust she has in knowing her partner loves her and only her because she sees it every day in the way her lover looks at her, at the truths her lover reveals, and at the bigger picture that her lover paints in strokes harmonious to her own.

 The true alpha woman knows that she can have true love. She knows she doesn’t need to become CEO first, travel to 22 different countries to find herself, nor does she look for a lover she feels she can or should save.

For a true alpha woman already knows what she values. She doesn’t need to search the world to find out what is important to her in terms of a relationship. She already knows that humans need humans, and she is open to true love at any time. She does not chase a job over-zealously because it makes her feel powerful- she finds power in being able to balance her life to fulfill goals, enjoy down time, and nurture herself. She does not pursue meaningless flings because she loves believing that she is so powerful that men fall at her feet and wrap themselves around her finger. She doesn’t need to complain about the lack of “real men” because she understands that every human is dynamic- she looks beneath the surface and from there uses her compassion to choose which relationships to pursue. She knows the transformative power of relationships and thoroughly enjoys the life-long adventure.

She knows that she always has, does, and will always need love.

So if you haven’t found it yet, it’s coming. Be soft and open, listen to your heart. Adhere to your values and stay humble. In everyone resides the energy of the true alpha woman- a nurturing, loving, transformative force to welcome into any area of your life.

 

*Disclaimer: alpha female is a term I chose partly to attract readers who subscribe to the term, and partly because I see it as a term that described a refined woman. Treat it as a state of being rather than another identity. I do not personally feel a desire or need to use the term to describe myself, but for practical reasons, I chose it to get my points across.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

How to Stop Fighting With Your Partner

In any relationship, fights and emotional arguments are inevitable. Fights have a generally bad reputation- problems arise, offense is taken, words become sharp, passion is ignited, and the issue is often only resolved after both parties calm down and think rationally about the situation. These arguments usually arise from tiny annoyances, quickly escalating into a slew of passive aggressive recollections of unresolved hurts, petty speeches of defense, and a growing inability to switch perspective. We get so attached to being right, to being the one hurt, to being the one who is asked too much of, that what we don't even want what we need- resolution and relief.

I believe that fights are inevitable. Two people growing more intimately with one another are bound to run into personal differences that are met with great resistance from the other. This resistance can really hurt. We're annoyed that they refuse to be more considerate, compassionate, logical, emotional, etc. We have a need and we want that need fulfilled. That is perfectly alright. What isn't, though, is projecting that need onto our partners and giving them the full responsibility of fulfilling something we can resolve ourselves. Fights get bad because we lose track of the boundaries between our power and our partner's power.

So if we can resolve our own issues and reclaim our own power, does that mean fights won't happen?

No. Fights will still happen, conflict will arise, it is our human nature. But just like a spark does not guarantee a flame, a little conflict does not mean that a giant fight is imminent.

Conflict isn't necessarily bad. The presence of conflict just means that you two hold two incompatible, or seemingly incompatible, ideas about your relationship. There will always be disagreements between you and your partner- without this contrast, you would just be dating yourself. Damage happens when those disagreements are amplified by our ego, our lack of clarity, and our lack of perspective. A good rule of thumb is to nip these things at the bud- one partner starts this chain by allowing the other to voice their disapproval and dissatisfaction before calmly and lovingly giving accounts of their perspective on the matter and their perspective as they step into their partner's shoes. Still, we can forget to do this. All hope is not lost.

 Another important factor to fighting is emotion and passion. Emotion and passion can be ignited relatively rationally- but can grow exponentially towards the illogical and over-dramatic. Emotions are meant to be cues as to how we feel about a situation. They are a reflection of our inner reality. When we fight, we feel angry because we want to be understood, sad because our partner's love is being withheld, annoyed because they won't listen, and negative because, in the heat of the moment, that's all there seems to be. A very quick and effective way to prevent these negative emotions from escalating is to remember that you two are on the same side. You are fighting because something is hurting your relationship-your union. The quicker you realize this, the easier it is to see your emotions for what they are. Instead of feeding your emotions- i.e. saying things you don't mean because you're angry, just read your emotions. This is kind of like differentiating between the root of a problem and the effects of it. Reacting to your negative emotions just feeds them. Reading your negative emotions helps you gain perspective on the situation so that you can get out of that all encompassing cloud of conflict, calm down, and work things out lovingly.

Despite that being said, emotions don't just turn off immediately. Emotions are a force, and a force has to go somewhere. You may have stopped feeding your negative emotion, but its momentum is still there and you have to be okay with that. Sometimes, its very easy for us to just stop it- our sheer realization of the situation absorbs the negativity's impact. Still, knowing how to productively let the momentum die down is a pretty useful skill.

It may sound weird, but you need to talk to your partner, and if you're both aware enough in the moment, remind each other that you have chosen to stop feeding your negativity, but you need to cool off and let the negativity's momentum die down. This sets up a kind of safety zone- all things said from now, all hints of annoyance and aggression in your tone, all eye rolls and interruption, should just be dismissed as momentum dying down. No getting mad at how they inflected that one word with despicable attitude, no flying off the handle because they gave off a sigh. Let both of you get it out, walk it out, maybe take a breather. This part isn't personal.


So, now, both of you can go do something totally different. There may be a little resistance first from the dying off of momentum, but just bear with it. Hug each other, give each other a massage, do something sweet and considerate to remind the both of you that you are on the same side. And when you have romanced yourselves back into a nice state of calm and love, you can calmly take turns discussing your issues in non-accusatory tones.


Fights are going to happen, just learn to nip them at the bud or get a hold of yourself at any point and choose to come back down.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How to Live a Meaningful Life: What is Meaningfulness?

Image from: http://www.progressfocusedapproach.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Happiness-Meaningfulness.jpg


What is meaningfulness?

A meaningful life with a meaningful job, meaningful relationships, and meaningful passions is often prescribed as the means to a fulfilling life. Yet the idea of meaningfulness is a vague one- what gives an experience meaning? In order to really find what is meaningful, the concept just be consciously defined in order to align intentions and actions in the right direction.

What does meaningfulness do?
Meaningfulness leads to fulfillment. A meaningless encounter is unfulfilling. Why do certain experiences fulfill us?

I think that fulfillment is the satisfaction of our deeper needs. Deeper needs differ with the individual, but common deeper needs such as trust, connection, and a sense of belonging seem to be among the more universal requirements.

Fulfilling Encounters
For example, Person A feels unfulfilled with her relationship with Person B because their interactions do not meet her deeper needs. Their frequent outings to restaurants, conversations about a show they are mutually interested in, and random texts fulfill her more "shallow" needs of amusement, novelty, and casual chatting, but they fail to provide her with a sense of intimacy and belonging, so she feels the urge to keep looking for something better.

Yet Person B could find that same relationship to be fulfilling. He regards their frequent texting as something constant, which he sees as a sign of caring. If someone is constantly there for me to interact with, I can count on them and therefore I can trust them to continue to keep the line of communication open, albeit it being a relatively superficial one at the moment. He feels a sense of connection with her as they bond and discuss the same show, and he feels a sense of belonging with her as they try new places together. Person B can extract fulfillment from the same interactions that Person A cannot.

Person B is not more foolish than Person A. Person A is not more honest than Person B. Their fulfillment statuses are both valid. The difference is due to a conscious alignment with a set of deeper needs. I argue that Person B is more consciously aware of his deeper needs, and this allows him to become more sensitive to all opportunities to fulfill them. I argue that Person A has not consciously explored, defined, and aligned her view of the world and her intentions with her deeper needs, so she fails to see the opportunities and reverberations of her deeper needs being fulfilled.

Yet this does not mean that any encounter can fulfill deeper needs. Fulfilment exists on a spectrum. Person B feels fulfilled, but his level of fulfilment is not maximized with Person A. For maximal fulfillment to occur between two parties, both must find themselves in a similar range of satisfaction. Knowing that someone feels fulfilled with you tends to increase your sense of fulfillment. Knowing that someone appreciates you tends to make it easier for you to appreciate them.

This knowledge isn't always available, nor is it always needed. This occurs frequently with meaningful encounters that provide no sense of constancy or promise in the future, yet they still provide so much fulfillment.

For example, Person C spends a few hours volunteering at an elderly home to talk to a patient while taking her out for a stroll through a garden. Person C will never see this patient again. The patients tells Person C about her days, provides a few golden gems of wisdoms and a few bittersweet anecdotes, and Person C listens completely and allows her words to really soak in. Person C genuinely enjoyed this experience even though it was an instance of unequal sharing with no prospects of development.

Person C extracted wisdom from this experience. Person C also exercised nonresistance and total allowing within their interaction, which gave him a sense of non-attached harmonic connection with the patient. For Person C, the experience of harmony and surrendering into an interaction fulfills his deeper needs. He felt similar to what he experiences when he sits alone with the ocean to gently watch the changing tide and listen to the wind skimming past the waves. These encounters are fulfilling and meaningful to him because he can feel at one with someone and something outside of himself.

What are meaningful rituals?
I find that my morning ritual of waking up an hour before anyone else rises in the house and sitting along with my coffee is necessary for me to be satisfied with my morning. I need this ritual to feel fulfilled with my morning on an emotional and mental level, therefore I consider this ritual meaningful. I extract value and fulfillment from this experience, and this experience fulfills my deeper needs for reflection and solitude which I feel more deeply in the early morning hours.

Deeper needs wane as well throughout the day, and throughout life. Deeper needs also develop and change throughout someone's existence, regardless of the temporal scale. The difference between deep and shallow needs is the sense of fulfillment that they offer. I believe that this fulfillment is marked by a sense of tranquility. Shallow needs like amusement and novelty do not provide the steady tranquility and inner peace that deeper needs do.

An act can fulfill both shallow and deep needs. One's job is to also be able to articulate and distinguish the different levels of fulfillment of the different needs within the same act. To recognize and become aware of those patterns is to harness the power to direct further actions towards more fulfillment. A decline in one's fulfillment will lead to unhappiness, therefore one must continue to direct their awareness and actions towards fulfillment to be satisfied and happy with life.

Meaningfulness Vs. Value Vs. Meaning

"But did it mean anything to you?"

One might raise this question regarding an act, a person, or an experience. It translates into the clearer question: "But what does it signify to you?"

What does a hug mean? What does a particular hug under the specific circumstances in which one experienced it mean?

The question is a tool that allows us to gauge the value we can extract from an experience.

For example, if I am not particularly romantically interested in Person D but I give them a hug after a pleasant lunch together, but Person D is very romantically interested in me and enjoyed the lunch more than I did and is under the assumption that romance is a mutual interest, then the hug would mean 2 different things to us.

For me, the hug would signify that I am comfortable and satisfied with being platonically affectionate with a friend and that I like to extend my feels of friendship with appropriate physical contact. For Person D, this hug signifies that he felt comfortable with this mode of affection and was not confident enough to try a kiss goodbye and this failure to do so leaves him feeling regret.

I extract value through and from this hug because it fulfills my need for friendship. He extracts regret and failure through this hug, but he still finds it meaningfulness because it is a mutually pleasant physical engagement with someone he really likes.

Although interchangeable, value and meaningfulness are not the same. I could extract value from a lecture because it gives me knowledge, but that lecture can be meaningless to me because it does not fulfill my deeper needs. An experience can provide value without providing fulfillment.

This is kind of like the difference between being grateful and being appreciative. Often in the face of adversity do we claim that we are grateful for a misfortune because it gave us a new perspective or developed our strength. For example, I could say that even though I found a particular job stressful and annoying, I'm grateful for it because it helped develop my patience and humbled me. The gratefulness is a retrospective quality, but in the moment, I did not enjoy the experience and it did not fulfill nor satisfy me. I could say that appreciate the challenge of a yoga sequence, it really helps me push my abilities and it is ultimately fun and enjoyable and I feel fulfilled by it in the moment and in retrospect.

One can often find value in retrospect, by looking at an experience through the lens of gratefulness. Meaningfulnes can also be found in retrospect, but it often means that one felt fulfilled in the moment. There are definitely exceptions, and one of the most important factors is perspective.

Perspective and Meaningfulness

Often, our insecurities, personal hang ups, and patterns of negativity form a blurry lens that prevents us from recognizing the meaningfulness within our interactions with other.

For example, a teenager may not recognize the meaningfulness in his interactions with his grandparent. The teenager thinks that going out for ice cream or walking in the park with his grandparent is meaningless- the teenager thinks ice cream is materialistic and that walks in the park are useless and there are better forms of exercise. When this teenager matures, he finally recognizes the meaningfulness behind those small, simple outings. His grandparent wanted to bond with him over something simple and peaceful to enjoy each other's presence and appreciate how much the little baby they once held has grown into a young adult. There was much connection, tranquility, and sharing to be felt in those moments.

Life is teeming with the little meaningful gestures that we often overlook due to our hurried, tense lifestyles, fear of missing out, and the desire for more that has desensitized us to the more subtle and nuanced forms of love and compassion.

Perspective is easier to obtain if we slow down and really allow the meaningfulness in our lives to reveal itself, and by taking the time to really appreciate those meaningful experiences, we can fully savor them which allows us to feel very fulfilled.

Meaningfulness is found through recognizing the outer reverberations of our internal deep needs and values. Fulfillment is found through appreciating those reverberations. So take the time to ponder what you love and take even more time to enjoy it.

Letting Go of Meaning

Balance in life is essential. One can not go forth trying to fill life with strictly meaningful experiences- this is forceful and unsustainable. The meaningless is also enjoyable, and also fulfilling.

I could spend an entire afternoon drinking tea on my gazebo. This is arguably meaningful because it fulfills my deep need for peace, isolation, and tranquility, but it is also just an instance of me wanting to relax, escape the world, and not do much. I don't need to find meaning in this, but it is indeed of value.

A pleasant, fulfilling life is made of meaningful and valuable experiences. A moment unsavored is a moment wasted. Overthinking gets in the way of truly savoring life. Do what you will with my ideas and thoughts on the matter, but do so in a relaxed and open way.

Have a pleasant week.



 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why You Shouldn't Care if You're an Introvert or Extrovert


The introverts vs. extroverts war needs to stop. As the Introvert Movement is gaining momentum, a plethora of articles glorifying introverts and attacking their more outward-focused counterparts has been suffocating the internet. Propagation of stereotypes, muddled definitions, and faulty cross-referencing spread like a virus infecting those in need of identity.

The theory of introversion and extroversion is just that- a theory. Originally popularized, and badly muddled since, by the psychologist Carl Jung, introversion and extroversion were defined as behaviors. Introversion is defined as an "attitude-type characterized by orientation in life through subjective psychic contents" (focus on one's inner psychic activity); and extraversion is defined  as "an attitude type characterized by concentration of interest on the external object" (the outside world). Behavior, not identity, is the basis behind the introversion-extroversion continuum.

To think in terms of being an introvert or an extrovert is highly limiting. To think in terms of introversion and extroversion in terms of behaviors is highly useful. Introversion and extroversion are forces that need to be balanced and harmonized in order to lead a fulfilling life. They are tools that can deepen and expand one's understanding of their dynamic self and they are essential lenses that broaden one's understanding and perspective about other people. 

The internet trend of glorifying introverts has had a definite impact on the character development of people I know. They cling to the idea of an introvert, aligning themselves more strictly to the standards of introversion and becoming close minded in the process. To overgeneralize, the culture of Netflix binges, losing one's self in a world of novels, and proudly refusing social gatherings that involve an actual crowd has slowly developed into a quiet cult. Diagnostic articles such as "10 Signs You're An Introvert", "Why It's So Hard to Be an Introvert", "Why Introverts Make Better Partners", only reinforce the herd mentality of this movement.To proudly tout the Introvert Badge is to reject a plethora of opportunities to expand one's self and step out of their comfort zone.

 To victimize one's self because the world is supposedly run by extroverts is a giant step towards unnecessary drama and any believer demonstrates failure in critical thinking. This idea that the world is built for extroverts is flawed anyways: when one thinks of the world, one thinks of the coherent interactions that allow interpersonal connections and transactions to occur. This is obviously an idea that is seen through the lens of extroversion- to interact with the world is to behave in an extroverted manner. To burden the "rest of the world" with the responsibilities of tending to one's inner world is to misunderstand the introversion-extroversion continuum. Introverted needs require one to turn inwards. 

What would a world built towards introverts look like? The world can not be thought of in terms of introverted needs being fulfilled because introversion emphasizes the self and the self's inner world. There is no way to build schools and businesses in a way that fulfills "a true introvert" because education and business require interaction with the outer world. 

It is 2015 and most people complaining about the extrovert world live in the first world. No one is forcing us to engage in a supposed popular culture that favors the extrovert. The illusory "they" can not be blamed for our discomfort and agitation. 


Assessing one's natural inclinations is definitely important, but one must constantly observe and question the instances of fulfilling those natural inclinations and the reasons those inclinations exist. If, for example, I considered myself introverted thus considering myself highly sensitive to social interactions, and I attended a social gathering and spoke to many people and felt highly drained, then I would most likely blame the draining feeling on extroverted activity. First of all, this mindset sucks. Why would I go to a party in such a debilitating mindset? Secondly, I should consider the quality of my interactions- were they awkward because we felt shy and didn't know what to say? Were they draining because someone was trying to use my ears as a scratching post to vent or pump their own ego? Were they a "waste of my time" because I judged the person before getting to know them and immediately shut off all empathy and openness and only looked for evidence to support my hypothesis? 

After asking these questions honestly and deliberately, one usually sees that it's the type of people expressing a type of behavior that drains someone. Extroverts don't drain introverts. People who suck at conversing drain the people involved. This isn't a matter of introversion or extroversion- it's a matter of social skill and mindset.Obviously, one should still consider the compatibility of personality and behavior types when making decisions to interact. If person A is highly energetic and is in a very active mood and Person B is more calm and is in a very mellow, relaxed mood, then Person A and Person B shouldn't choose to hang out at this time unless they are willing to shift their mood and objectives. 

Everyone needs social interaction. Everyone needs alone time. These needs shift, let them shift organically and without the constraints of false identity. Let them shift without subscribing to the idea that you are an introvert or extrovert. 

People who identify strongly with extroversion and probably engage in predominantly extroverted activities and behaviors should take care to tend to their inner world. They need to tune inwards to observe and question their emotional and mental patterns in order to find more alignment with their goals and values. People who identify strongly with introversion should also do the same thing. 

One needs to engage in introverted and extroverted activity in order to lead a balanced life. Some people require more introversion or extroversion than others- but this need should always be questioned. Has this need been established by honest and open-minded means or has this need been established by the desire to fulfill an identity. Has this need shifted? Has this need been tested, challenged, and questioned?

Don't let introversion and extroversion limit your expansion. Introversion and extroversion are qualities and tools to be utilized in order to find balance while growing. They are opposing muscles that can recruited more deeply and with more control and precision as one engages in more and more challenging movements in life with ease and grace.

Obviously, one's natural inclinations and strong suits should be considered when making decisions. If, at this point in time, one does not feel good when interacting with many people, then that person should not work in a field that requires good customer service. Still, this needs to be examined. Maybe one should work on social skills and personal boundaries- shortcomings in these 2 fields is usually to blame for feeling drained. Life is about attitude and commitment to a preferred state. There is no way to completely avoid the types of social interactions that one would rather not engage in, so why not resolve to find a way to enjoy those interactions within reasonable means. Contribute something you enjoy to those interactions instead of blaming the interaction without making any effort to improve it. Don't quit and shut off before you openly engage.

Tempting as it is, do not strongly subscribe to any results you receive from personality tests. Don't try so hard to embody those results- there is no true Scotsman.Personality quizzes are just a beginning step towards self exploration.

Remember, attachment to a mode of identity is highly limiting. Detach yourself from the need to establish an identity- focus on cultivating values that you think improve your experience of life and the world around you, as big or small as that sphere is. Stay open. A permanently closed fist is only good for clinging and punching. I hope you never have to cling and punch.  

 Have a good week. 








Thursday, January 1, 2015

How to Apply the Fuck Yes or No Rule to Your Awesomesauce Life


I'm a fan of Mark Manson's "Fuck Yes or No" rule. This rule states that if you don't say "Fuck Yes!" to a proposition, then it is a no. This means that if you aren't totally enthusiastic about someone or something, then don't go for it.

If you meet someone and you don't feel that "fuck yes" positivity towards being their friend/date/business partner, then don't go for it. Of course, this requires an open mind and a quiet ego and a developed intuition to really work. An open mind, quiet ego, and developed intuition are essential to a good life, regardless of whether one adopts the Fuck Yes or No rule, so definitely work on those aspects first before trying to make the rule work and having it fail because all the mental/emotional/ego clutter gets in the way.

The Fuck Yes or No rule begs for further examination and alignment. To really apply this rule to all aspects of your life, you really need to take it to the next level: expectations.

If you don't say Fuck Yes to someone/something, but your expectations and emotional reactions align more with a fuck yes, you have a problem. You can't say NO to something and still have the FUCK YES expectations. For example, if you say no to being someone's partner but you say fuck yes to being their friend, then you can't hold the expectations of a fuck yes partnership. Test this out- think of them dating someone else, does it make you angry? Think of them failing to do anything romantic, does it bother you? If so, then you are in a grey area and you need to make some inner shifts.

If you say no to being someone's partner because they don't have the whole package/special qualities/natural je ne sais quoi that would make you say fuck yes, then you have to let go of any expectations of a romantic partnership. You have to be very clear about your intentions with any social interactions with this person. If you say fuck yes to friendship, then align your expectations and responses towards friendship. Don't put yourself in a cycle of grey areas.

An example of a cycle of grey areas would be: 1. feeling fulfilled because of something romantic you two shared 2. feeling annoyed/confused/claustrophobic when someone tries to establish a committed relationship/anything close to or towards a committed relationship 3. pull back/close off/shut down 4. miss them 5. do friendship things that make you remember you really like them 6. dip your toes in the romantic waters again 7. repeat.

This happens a lot because lots of the time, people aren't clear on what they want. You can only test the waters so much before indecision leads to illusion. This is how you lead people on/get lead on, even if it isn't intentional. This is a huge time/energy waster. The only way that you can enjoy the grey areas between romance and friendship is by being black and white clear that you don't want to be purely platonic and that you don't want to be purely romantic. So it can be a fuck yes to special friends, but that's still a fuck yes and still requires alignment of expectations and intention with that fuck yes.

This works for any hobby/diet/exercise regime. It is the new year, people try to get healthier. Many people overbook themselves by saying fuck yes to one diet and one plan and holding expectations and attitudes that align with a "no." People also have conflicting fuck yes answer. Conflicting fuck yes answers can't co-exist. If you say fuck yes to a rock climbing regime that requires lots of body weight strength and is enhanced by a lighter, leaner physique but that the same time you say fuck yes to an Olympic weight training regime because you want to look like the hulk and squat 450, then you have conflicting fuck yes answers. Choose one for now, the only way you can really enjoy the expansion of a fuck yes choice is through focused commitment.

Conflicting fuck yes answers also apply to relationships as well, so be aware. If you say fuck yes to welcoming a relationship that involves superior compatibility in communication styles but you keep saying fuck yes to someone who you have to constantly explain yourself to, then you have conflicting fuck yes answers. Make a decision. Practice conviction.

Another important factor in the successful application of the Fuck Yes or No rule is the realization that life is sequential and ever changing. The tides are constantly shifting and you need to embrace that. Apply the Fuck Yes or No rule in as little bites as necessary- let it guide your decisions that influence the development of a relationship/project/goal. Maybe someone or something isn't a fuck yes now, under these circumstances, so take the fuck yes action that applies. Just don't fall under the trap of thinking that if something is a fuck yes now, it will always be a fuck yes. If something is a no now, that doesn't mean it will always be a no. The beauty lies in embracing that uncertainty while still gearing your actions/intentions towards what you know you certainly want.

For example, if someone is a fuck yes for romance for you, but they only behave in a way that says you're a fuck yes for friendship and a no for romance to them, then don't fight it. Don't try to convince them that you're a fuck yes. Just do fuck yes things with them, since you obviously share a mutual like for each other, albeit the difference in extent. Maybe its a fuck yes you want to watch a movie with them. Maybe its a fuck yes you want to share a beer. Don't shut people out of your life because you're not a fuck yes dating partner- everyone needs friends. Let the fuck yes dating feelings you have lose momentum and just enjoy your fuck-yes-enjoying-the-presence-of-someone-I-really-mesh-with feelings/actions. It may seem like a grey area, but grey areas are only grey areas if you're intentions and expectations remain unexamined.

Set the intention to make 2015 a fuck yes year. No wishy washy actions. If you want to fool around, say fuck yes to a time and a place and a way to fool around. Make sure your resources and expectations align with that decision. Practice conviction, practice honesty, practice streamlined logic, and practice intuition. Be aware, be vigilant, be thoughtful, be reflective. Feel the balance.

Follow the fuck yes.