The Self-Development Tips Series 1: The Art of Loving Yourself

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I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships this week. In fact, I am always thinking about relationships in some way, as I do believe they are one of the most important things in life. So very important.

Yet, when you think of relationships, what is your first thought?

Is it of yourself, or someone else? Most people will say someone else. Why? Because, I think, we are in many ways programmed to think externally first.

However, it is always, and will forever be, the ways in which we look internally first that we will then be able to turn our gaze outward.

Meaning that how we think about and treat ourselves is exactly how we will think about and treat other people. What to do?

We must learn to take care of ourselves, love ourselves, be good to ourselves, and find ways to make time for ourselves.

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It is very common, however, to think that by taking care of others we are, in effect, taking care of ourselves. Not so. When we “take care” of others at the expense of our own self-care, or at the expense of their own development, we help no one; and, no one grows.

What can we do?

We can begin to develop a healthy relationship with ourselves now. Today.

It is through developing a relationship with ourselves that we can begin to love ourselves for the human beings that we are. And, guess what? As we develop a loving relationship with ourselves, our external relationships will become more stable, and loving.

It is then that everyone in our sphere, starting with ourselves, has the ability to grow and develop. Does this mean that our relationships will be easy? No. It might mean that some of them will be more difficult.

Especially if we have created relationships with people that have superseded our own relationship with ourselves.

However, once we begin to look inward, and make choices about what’s best for ourselves, we can begin to move ourselves forward.

And, create that loving relationship with ourselves that is absolutely necessary and needed in order to have healthy relationships with anyone.

Alright, so how and where do we begin? And, what strategies can you use to get in touch with yourself, and begin to create, develop, and maintain the most important relationship in your life?

Let’s take a look at a few that I use daily.

Quiet Time

Until about three years ago, I was always on the go. Always. I didn’t ever really stop until it was time for bed. And then, I would not sleep well. When I started to incorporate quiet time into my day, I immediately noticed the health benefits.

If quiet time was so beneficial, why didn’t you incorporate it into your life earlier?

Because I didn’t know how. When you live one way, that is what you know. Sounds silly. It is, however, very true. Unless someone else shows you another way, you will continue to do things that are not beneficial for you.

All the while, there is another way, you just don’t have access to it yet.

If you are always running, I suggest building in quiet time into your day. How? Any way you can. Know that when I write quiet time, I mean any time you can get away from technology and other people.

As much as I love people, and all of my relationships, as I’m sure you also do, we all need a break from the constant stimulation. Needed.

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Journaling and Writing

Journaling and writing are also helpful. As I’ve written in other posts, I’ve been writing for some time, however, I only began to write introspectively these past couple of years.

Writing about how you are feeling, what your hopes and dreams are, and how you intend to achieve them is a totally different type of writing.

When we write as a way to understand ourselves better, we open up the possibility of actually getting to know ourselves better. And, to have a quality relationship with ourselves, and everyone else, we must know who we are. Very important.

When we get to know ourselves, really know ourselves, diving deep into why we feel as we do, and getting clearer on the things that have happened in our past, which we are still holding onto, we can begin to heal.

And, it is inside of this healing where our deepest and most profound transformation can occur. Learning to love the person we were, are, and will be. Special.

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Meditation

I’ve written about my meditation practice in several posts now, and, indeed, on this topic it is no different. The health benefits I’ve experienced from learning how to mediate, and to incorporate meditation into my daily routine have been, and are, profound. Why?

Because it is your time. Just for you. A time for introspection, to learn about yourself. What makes you, you, and how your humanness works. When you sit, you get to know more about how your mind and body work, and how they work together.

And, inside of a learning like this, you have more access to understand yourself and all of humanity in a whole new way.

In the article, Creating a Meditation Practice: 3 Steps in 4 Minutes, I write about some simple steps you can take to create a meditation practice. It takes time, dedication, and creating the habit. If you are a beginner, it is also helpful to have someone coach you along the way.

What is most important? Taking the time you need to begin a meditation practice if it is something you’ve been interested in. Why wait?

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Dietary Needs

For the longest time I didn’t focus on my diet. In fact, it was one of those things that bothered me terribly, as I was very overweight, yet, I continued to eat poorly.

Not loving myself for a long time.

It is important to eat well. What we put into our body has direct implications for how our mind and body functions. Really. When I began to focus on my diet, which started slowly, I would take one thing out of my diet at a time that was unhealthy for me. Then, I would take something else out. Takes time.

The amount of clarity you gain by removing foods loaded with artificial ingredients and high levels of sugar is profound. Not something I ever really understood or knew about. It is loving yourself to create a diet that is rich in nutrients.

A high-quality diet will fuel your mind, body, and soul. Believe me.

There are plenty of articles out there about creating a healthy diet, and you can also work on your diet with your doctor. What do I know? That eating more naturally produced foods, vegetables, beans, fruits, and nuts has been very beneficial for me.

My diet has been totally plant-based for almost a year now, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, except, the change that comes from continuing to learn about new ways to purchase and prepare new foods.

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Exercise

I’ve always believed in exercise, and through most of my life have enjoyed walking. However, I never really developed a healthy exercise habit until about 2 years ago. Exercise is important. We all need it.

Further, exercise also gives you time for yourself. Time to explore your own needs when it comes to being with your body. You can develop a healthy exercise habit or routine by simply creating the space in your day to do so.

I know. It sounds easy, and yet it can be difficult. Understood. Many people ask or wonder about how to develop the motivation to keep up a regular exercise routine. In the article, Motivation: Is it an inside or outside job?, I write about the fact that motivation comes from within.

Motivation comes from the doing of that which you want to do regularly. Simple. People often say they aren’t motivated, so they can’t get to the gym, or that they are too busy, so there is not time to go for a walk. Normal.

However, the only way to become motivated is to actually go to the gym, or make the space in your day for a walk. That’s it. And, after you’ve done so, and continue to do so, in time, you will find your motivation.

You will also have developed another healthy habit, and routine. Loving yourself.

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Sleep Well

Sleep is so important, yet in the United States in particular, we often disregard our sleep in favor of other activities. Though I sleep better than ever before, I still struggle in this area.

It’s like that though. You develop yourself, loving yourself, a little at a time. You learn, you create new habits, some old habits hang around longer than others, then they also eventually go away. All the while I am inviting you to persist.

Persist in loving yourself, and allowing yourself the time needed to recuperate from your day. So very important. When we do not give ourselves that time, we will not be our best the next day. It’s just not possible to be your best when you are tired.

Believe me, I know. I spent many years sleeping poorly. Staying up very late, drinking too much, and sleeping, well, like you would imagine. Not well.

And, like the rest of this article, it takes creating the healthy habit of loving yourself enough to ensure that you get the rest you need.

When you are fully rested, you have the opportunity to be your best the next day. For yourself, first, and then for all of those around you.

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Alright, there we have it. There are 6 different tips that when worked on, over time, can bring you more time, energy, rest, peace, and overall well being.

And, inside of increasing our overall well being, we are practicing the art of loving ourselves.

For, it is inside of the love that we show to ourselves first, that we can really begin to love other people. When we don’t show ourselves the love we deserve, by taking care of ourselves, we cannot really love other people. Not really.

Loving starts with the love you show yourself. Show yourself love today, then, by taking up a healthy habit you’ve been avoiding or putting off.

It takes creating the time, and taking action. Remember, developing your new healthy habit will take time. Yet, I am inviting you to persist in your quest to develop your healthy habit. Why?

Because you are worth it. Learning to love yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. And, it is also one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other, and all of humanity.

#exercise, #healthy-diet, #healthy-habits, #journaling, #loving-yourself, #meditation, #motivation, #personal-development, #quiet-time, #relationships, #self-development-2, #sleep, #well-being-2, #writing

7 Keys to Highly Effective Relationships

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This week I’ve been thinking more about relationships in general, and also more about the ones in my life. Relationships are so important. I’ve written several posts about relationships, and the importance of all of our relationships. Even the ones we don’t typically consider, or think about often.

Well, let’s consider them all; and, what makes up a highly-effective relationship. Do you know?

I think deep down we all know, yet, we often get confused in our relationships. Swayed by commitment, personal ties, expectations, memories we have, and emotions we feel.

Sometimes, then, we stay in relationships, against our best interest. Yep. Most of you reading this know about that, as do I. Happens to us all.

Let’s then consider some of the keys to highly-effective relationships. A guide of sorts. Now, there are many keys to highly-effective relationships. Dependent on your standpoint, some of these may resonate with you more than others. Yet, I’m sure you will see yourself, or someone you know in some of these.

7 Keys to Highly Effective Relationships

Reciprocity

Being in a relationship that is mutually reciprocal is important. Why? Because too often there are balance-issues in relationships. Meaning that one person is adding more value in the relationship than the other. What happens then?

When this happens, people can become resentful. This is especially true if the people in the relationship believe they must stay in the relationship at all costs. For some of you this might sound odd. Yet, believe me, people stay in relationships all the time that are not healthy, that are even toxic. Not helpful. Rather destructive.

Boundaries

The most effective relationships are those where there are clear distinctions between the two I’s that make up the relationship. In effect, in every relationship, there are three relationships. The one’s each individual has with themselves, and then the one they have together. 3 relationships.

And, all 3 of these relationships are important. When the relationship someone has with themselves is sacrificed for the partnered relationship, there is likely to be resentment, anger, and frustration. Again, not helpful.

Development

When in a relationship we should support our partners growth and development. Too often, however, relationships are founded on a set of principles, ideas, and expectations, that prohibit, or at least mitigate growth and development.

When this happens, it means that the people in the relationship are, in effect, limiting themselves, and each other without knowing it. And, when one of the individuals in the relationship embarks on a developmental trajectory that upsets this previously created foundation, there can be pain and discomfort. Difficult.

Integrity

Integrity is important in any highly-effective relationship. Integrity simply means doing what you say. Being your word. And, if you are out of integrity, to say so. You actively create a context, and conversation to let the people you are in relationship with know that you are out of integrity. That’s it.

It is important because humans are often out of integrity. Happens to us all. Think about a time you committed to be at a meeting, and you were late; or, committed to be at a restaurant at a certain time, yet were late. Two simple examples. And, they happen to us all.

Being out of integrity does not automatically mean that there is a problem or an issue; what it means is that there is a need to communicate about a change to the commitment that was made. Think of the two aforementioned examples, to continue to be “in integrity” a call about being late is all that is needed. Pretty simple, really.

Inspiration

How does it feel when you are inspired? Pretty good, right? Yep. Well, as I’ve written about in other posts, inspiration comes from within. It is our job to create inspiration; and, being in relationship with someone that lives an inspired life can create more inspiration.

If someone you are in relationship with is not living this way, it can lead to confusion, conflict, and possible resentment. Better to be clear about this from the outset.

Further, it doesn’t mean that you will both find the same things inspirational; maybe, yet not necessarily. Being with someone that leads an inspired life, is less about being mutually inspired by the same things, though that is possible. It is more about understanding what living an inspired life is about. Looking for ways to grow individually and together. Fun.

Communication

How important is communication in your life? Yep, pretty important. In fact, it is one of the most important keys to a highly-effective relationship. Why? Because when we are communicating, we are in a relationship; and, when we are not communicating, we are not in a relationship. Simple.

And, when I write communication, I am not talking about saying good morning, and good night. Or, even, how was your day. That’s not it. Communication means you are talking about your hopes and dreams, and having hard and difficult conversations about how to move them forward.

These conversations can be very difficult; yet, being in relationship with someone is not supposed to be easy. If your relationships are easy, chances are you are simply living each day as you did the previous one; and, this is not a judgement. I lived this way for most of my life, which is why I know the difference.

Being in relationship with someone, means being in communication with them. A must.

Authenticity

It is also important to be who you are. When we are in a relationship where we have to be someone other than who we are, think of performance, there will be a tendency for disagreement, unhealthy conflict, and resentment.

We all change over time, even if we are not interested in change. Change is a part of being human. When we are interested in change, we may change even more. Regardless, being in a relationship where you can be who you are, at whatever stage of development you are is important.

Being who you are doesn’t mean that you are always in agreement in your relationship. In fact, there may be disagreement often. It does, however, mean that you are supported, and advocated for. Important.

In Closing

Know that there are many important aspects to highly-effective relationships. Yep, some of the ones you are thinking about did not make the list. Maybe they’ll make a future list. Don’t know.

What is more important is to know that the 7 in this post are important; and, if you’ve never considered one or more of them as important, you can now do so, if you choose. Your choice.

Now, how to put them into action? A few examples.

Putting the 7 Keys into Action in Your Life

  • Reciprocity
    • Notice when your relationship is not reciprocal. When it is out of balance, ask why, first of yourself, and then of your partner. What can be done to create more balance? Again, first of yourself, and then of your partner. Asking these questions will create a context for open communication.
  • Boundaries
    • Create them, and talk about them. We all need our own time, away from all things and everyone. When you’ve created a boundary, you must talk about it, or else your partner will not know about it. And, when it is transgressed, by you, or your partner, get back on track and put the boundry back in place.
  • Development
    • Openly communicate about the support you need. As often as needed. And, if you are not getting the support you need. First question yourself. Are you supporting yourself and your partners development? If you are, ask for that same support. If you are not, start there.
  • Integrity
    • When you are out of integrity, talk about it. Openly communicate when things change, or get in the way. Don’t hide from it. And, if you do, make sure to talk about it at some point. Better to be open and openly communicate than hold something that is causing confusion or a possible misunderstanding.
  • Inspiration
    • Create inspiration for yourself, first, and always. Ask questions of your partner – what inspires them? How do they find their inspiration? And, what do they do with that inspiration? And, share your inspiration. Once known, inspiration can become something that is talked about often.
  • Communication
    • Create contexts for open communication often. Especially when a difficult conversation is needed. Hiding from a difficult conversation will only make it more difficult for everyone. Communicate openly and often.
  • Authenticity
    • Be who you are, in whatever iteration you are in. Remember, being in a relationship is a choice. A choice for you, and your partner. Sometimes, it will be best to leave the relationship than sacrifice your true self.

As you think about your relationships, always remember that we are in many relationships in our personal and professional lives. Some of these keys may resonate more with you from a professional perspective, and some more from a personal one.

Either way, if you feel stagnated in your relationship, try one of these keys. If not these, then try something new. For, it is in the trying and doing of something new that we can create the change we feel we need, yet are often unsure of how to achieve.

Try, do, be, and live well.

#authenticity, #boundaries, #communication, #development, #highly-effective-relationships, #inspiration, #integrity, #reciprocity, #relationships, #taking-action

Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 3: Understanding Our Emotions and Strengthening Our Relationships by Slowing Down

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What do our emotions have to do with our relationships? Do they really matter that much? And, how much of our emotional selves do we share with those that are closest to us? Not sure, well, this is one area that I’ve been exploring a lot the past two years, so, let’s take a look.

Here is how it worked for me prior to 2 years ago. Something would happen, and I would react to my emotion. Didn’t really matter what the situation was, the event happened, and I would react. Sometimes the reactive emotion would be sadness, sometimes frustration, and sometimes anger.

Not helpful. Why?

Because when we react to our emotions without the time to process that emotion, we are in effect causing a possible chain reaction, especially if your partner is like you. Think about it. How many times have you gotten angry about something, and then you lashed out, unintentionally, and then your partner, or friend, lashed out right back at you? Happens all the time.

Action, reaction; or, reaction, action; or reaction, reaction. A vicious circle, and cycle.

What can we do?

One thing we can do, which I’ve written about in other posts, is slow down our reaction time. How? One way is by adding reflection, and meditation time, into our daily lives. Having the space and time to consider all of our options when confronted with any situation is needed, and necessary.

Though most people don’t prioritize reflection and meditation, there are many benefits, which suggest that doing so is beneficial for our daily lives, and for our long-term health.

What happens when we add time for reflection and meditation into our lives?

When we choose to intentionally slow down, and create more time and space for ourselves to be quiet and to think more thoughtfully about our lives, we actually become less reactive to ourselves. And, when we are less reactive to our own emotions, and thoughts, we are less reactive to other people and their emotions. We create more time, space, reflective possibilities, and actually choice, instead of reaction.

What other benefits are there to making time to reflect and practice mediation?

There are many benefits of making the time to reflect on our lives, and to practice meditation.

Here are a few

  • We are less reactive to ourselves, and all of those around us.
  • We have more time to fully consider all of our options
  • We better understand our own thoughts and emotions
  • We create the space to become more resilient

When we are less reactive, have more time, understand ourselves better, and become more resilient, we are able to hold more and handle more. We are also able to do more, to create more possibilities for ourselves and those around us.

Does this mean that I will never again react?

No. Reaction is needed and necessary when there is danger, or when something urgent is occurring, and a choice is needed right away. However, what I’ve come to realize is that time for reflection can be added into most situations that arise.

As you practice meditation and make time for reflection, you are able to make choices with more clarity. You, in fact, have more clarity. Why? Because you know yourself better, both your mind and your body. You are in touch with yourself on a deeper level, which, in and of itself, creates more time.

What does all of this have to do with my relationships?

When you understand yourself on a deeper level, you also understand those around you better. Why? Because we are all human. We all have the same set of emotions, and thinking mechanism, our mind.

Knowing yourself well, is one of the most important parts of having a healthy relationship. Which does not mean, however, that all of your relationships will be easy. In fact, it may mean that some of your relationships will be harder. Why?

Because as you understand yourself better, you may find that you are less compatible with someone you’ve always been compatible with. It can be hard. However, overall, I think you will realize that understanding yourself better creates the opportunity to have the strongest relationships possible.

And, that is the case, because you have created a stronger relationship with yourself first.

#emotional-development, #emotional-intelligence, #meditation, #reactivity, #reflection, #reflection-and-meditation, #relationships

Fear of the Unknown: Take A Stand and Take Action Anyway

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Posting during a weekday, a different experience for me. Yet it is important. Yesterday, I wrote the post Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 2: Standing for Each Other and our Shared Humanity. In that post we discussed how important all of our relationships are, as is taking a stand for ourselves, and all those we are in relationship with.

When we take a stand for ourselves, and for others, we are in what I termed a valuable relationship. I believe valuable relationships are disruptive and cause transformation – they cause transformation within us, and without.

Here is an example.

Today, I’m sitting at my desk and am working, not thinking about last nights post at all. Yet, in my inbox comes this post, On Racism, Oppression, and The Need to Do Something About It, by Cristian Mihai.

Now, as some of you may know, I started blogging about 7 weeks ago, and Cristian was the first individual to like a post, and follow my blog. Of course, likewise, then, I went to look at what Cristian was up to, and found the site The Art of Blogging. Fun.

Fast forward 7 weeks or so to this morning’s context, and the aforementioned blog by Cristian dropping into my email. Well, in that email, there were 4 or 5 different ways to contribute, to take action. And, I did so.

The reason I have paused my workday to write this post is that the story above is exactly what I was writing about in my post last night. Exactly. We believe that it is only in the relationships with those that are closest to us where we have the opportunity for, as I’ve defined in this post, a valuable relationship. Not so.

I don’t know Cristian at all, yet I would consider this a disruptive and transformational relationship, thus valuable. The action, from which, continues as I write this post.

In order to be involved in these kinds of relationships, you must be willing to let go of the fear you have about acting. Let go of the unknown about what will happen if you act. Release yourself from that.

It is not about the result of the relationship, it is about the actions taken inside the relationship that matter. And, that the relationship fosters taking a stand and creating action. These actions are disruptive, are transformational, and are valuable.

My invitation to you

First, remember, that you do make a difference. You make a difference every time you take action. If you’ve been held back by fear of the unknown, let it go, and get in action. For, you can also make a difference in someone else’s life by taking action, by taking a stand for yourself, and for them.

#blogging, #cristian-mihai, #disruption, #fear, #fear-of-the-unknown, #relationships, #take-action, #transformation

Creating and Maintaining Relationships Part 2: Standing for Each Other and our Shared Humanity

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In the post, Creating and Maintaining Relationships: What else is there?, we discussed how connected we all are; and, how the relationships in our lives are not just with those that are the closest to us. Rather, that every person we interact with on a daily basis, we, in fact, depend upon more that we realize. These relationships are also very important in our lives.

The importance we place on our relationships and how we think about them, is a product of our social environment. How we are raised to value relationships, all of them, will drive our thinking, and then our corresponding behaviour in our relationships.

If we think that relationships are inconsequential, we will live a life where we believe that we are acting alone, and others are merely watching. Not interdependent then. Conversely, if we believe that relationships are the basis for everything that we do, we will value the interdependence of the relationships in our lives, and will behave accordingly.

Valuable relationships are also transformational, and they create change. The people in these relationships do not simply recreate the same context, thus relationship, every day. They create new contexts each day, and new possibilities for the relationship, and for the individuals in these relationships.

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Transformational relationships are also disruptive. They are disruptive because the people in these relationships stand for each other. When one human being stands for another, they are, in effect, saying that they are committed to that person living the best life possible.

Living the best life possible, however, does not mean the easiest life possible. Disruptive relationships are amazing, and they are also difficult. They are difficult because change is difficult. Yet, it is inside of the change we all face, whether that change is self-induced or otherwise, that transformation takes place.

When people are committed to transforming themselves, and then those they are in relationships with, they are also interested in transforming society. As we discussed in the previous post, relationships start with the relationship we have with ourselves, and they go out from there; to our friends, family, work teams, organizations, and community.

When you are interested in, and actively work at transforming yourself and your relationships, you are also actively contributing to change and transformation within the greater community, and also the world. Do not think for a moment that the actions you take with yourself, and in your relationships cannot create larger scale change – they can and do. It starts with you; one action at a time, one relationship at a time.

As I reflect upon the very sad, disappointing, and unacceptable incident that happened in Minneapolis last week, it reminds me that taking a stand for a fellow human being is one of the most important, and vulnerable actions a human can take.

When we take a stand, we are out at the edge of what is known. We don’t know what we will get back. We do know, however, that by taking a stand we are committing ourselves to something much greater than ourselves. We are taking a stand for humanity – our shared humanity. For each other, and everyone else on this planet.

As you proceed in your week, honor the actions you’ve taken to create transformation within yourself. And, as an invitation, if you’ve not taken a stand for a fellow human being this week, whether that be with someone close to you or someone you don’t know as well, take a stand for them. For when we stand for and with our fellow human beings, we are standing for ourselves, and everyone else on this planet; and, we are creating transformation, within, and without.

#creating-change, #relationships, #self-development, #societal-change, #transformation, #transformational-relationships

Creating and Maintaining Relationships: What else is there?

Is there anything else in life besides creating and maintaining relationships? Not sure? Well, let’s take a look.

We know that humans are social animals. Regardless of whether you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert matters less than the ultimate knowing that humans need and depend on other humans. That is a fact.

If right now you are saying to yourself, no, that’s not true, I am independent, and self-reliant, always have been, always will be. Okay. Yet, think about your day. How many times did you interact with someone today? Did you go to the grocery store? Did you get gas, or stop by a coffee shop?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you have been dependent on another human being today. Factually, we make it through very few days where we don’t depend on another human being for something.

Take my week. Though we are in the midst of a massive health pandemic, and I only got in my car two or three times, I’ve been in constant communication with the team I work with, went to the grocery store twice, and got gas once. Not to mention all of the walks I’ve been on this week, and the random people I’ve said hello to, and interacted with.

We are drawn to each other, and need each other.

Understanding that humans are social animals, and are drawn to each other, creates the realization that developing new relationships, and maintaining the ones we have, are two of the most important things we do on a daily basis. Not only are we drawn to, and dependent on each other, we also grow through each other.

These relationships, such as acquaintances, friendships, peers, colleagues, familial, romantic, all of them, are one of the ways we grow. Growth starts with the individual, yet quickly moves out in a concentric circle to include the aforementioned.

Fostering these relationships then becomes very important. Often, however, I feel like we take them for granted.

The need to honor the relationships in our lives is of utmost importance. As is, acknowledging those around us that help us grow, even when the relationship is difficult. Maybe, especially when it is difficult. As I have written elsewhere, it is in the most uncomfortable situations that we find the most growth. And, building relationships is no exception to this rule.

As you embark on this weekend, remember that relationships are all around us. We need not limit our thinking about our relationships to only those people that are close to us, for the relationship you have with the person that serves you your coffee, or fills your tank is also an important relationship in your life.

#creativity, #freinds, #human-development, #psychology, #relationships, #sociology