Changing relationship patterns is not easy.
Whether they be codependency, addiction to toxic love/people, or being love avoidant, these patterns are all ingrained in our psyche.
We have been carving out this pathway in our brain throughout our life experiences thus far.
Unresolved issues wreak havoc on our soul, our psyche, our decision-making, and ultimately, every relationship we have—intimate or not.
We so badly want to experience deep, healthy love; we want to fall so deep into love that we get lost in the feeling as we sink deeper and deeper.
We fantasize endlessly about this love and how magical it will feel. We search for this "perfect person" who will bring us this magical well of deep love.
We search and search until we find them (or what we believe to be them), and then we panic because now, it's real-life—not a fantasy.
Because relationships are not magical, they are not meant to fix us or heal us; they are not an endless supply of validation.
The people who choose to be in our lives are not obligated to give us anything more than what they can.
We have watched too many Hallmark movies and romantic comedies, seen too many E-harmony commercials, and read too many love stories that our minds are skewed.
We have an unhealthy vision of what a relationship should be like—what love is.
Love is two completely different souls coming together but still needing to be individuals—not losing themselves in each other.
Love is balance.
Love understands that each of you is a separate person and weren't brought to Earth to make the other happy. However, you were brought to each other to add to each individual's happiness.
I am sure you have heard that happiness doesn't come from anything external a million times over; it is an internal source.
We have always been taught that you need to get married, have babies, make money, buy things, go on vacation, blah blah, and all these magical things will make you happy.
Some of the happiest people have nothing, and the unhappiest people have everything.
Ironic, right? Not surprising, though.
Did you ever want something so badly that it consumes you? And then, when you finally get it, a week, month, or a year later, it has lost its luster. You realize that you are no happier having it than not having it.
Again, love and happiness do not come from other people, "things," or external sources. It comes from within.
It is self-love, self-care, self-admiration, self-soothing, self-healing, and self-confidence.
These patterns are so difficult to change because they are ingrained in us from all the experiences in our lifetime.
We learned we are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, and we don't deserve to be loved entirely to the core.
We will continue to chase a love that isn't available or run from a love that is until we learn to love ourselves—become whole.
We have to realize that we are worthy of deep love. And it'll be from someone who isn't there to change our world magically but to just love us for exactly who we are: perfectly imperfect.
Self-love is the key to changing those patterns and gives us the power to receive a healthy love in return.
By Lori Gottlieb
How can you tell the difference between SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and depression?
SAD generally occurs during the winter months, when people don’t get enough sunlight exposure. We need sunlight because it provides vitamin D, and that absorption helps regulate our moods. Rates of SAD often depend on where people live. In California there might not be as many cases as there are in Seattle. There are those who experience SAD year-round.
Clinical depression is not affected by the seasons. SAD can trigger clinical depression, but people who suffer from clinical depression can have that any time of the year. In the winter a lot of people experience clinical depression, but there are many people with clinical depression who experience it year-round.
Many people end up with low vitamin D levels in the winter because they aren’t getting as much sunlight. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, people aren’t even getting that little bit of outdoor time they might have when traveling from home to work. It’s important to check in with your doctor. You might want to get your vitamin D levels checked and ask your doctor what vitamin D dosage will be best for you.
What are the signs that you should look for in yourself to know if you should seek help either for SAD or for clinical depression?
If you’re feeling tired more of the time, you have less energy, or if you’re not getting pleasure in the things that you normally love, whether it’s spending time with your family, or doing a hobby. Other signs of potential depression include trouble focusing or concentrating or feeling “foggy”. Disturbances in sleep – sleeping too much, or not enough, waking up in the middle of the night etc. are signs of depression. Changes in appetite – eating too much or no appetite and not being hungry at all are another sign of depression.
If you’re feeling any of these things, talk to your doctor. Often, people feel like they need to hit a certain threshold before they make that call. What I want people to know is that if something feels off to you, no matter how much or how little, now’s the time to make the call. You don’t have to wait until things feel really bad.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are being discouraged from doing thins that might help combat SAD, like walking to work, or spending time with friends. How would you suggest people cope with SAD when we now don’t have these tools at our disposal?
It’s really important for people to get creative when it comes to self-care. If you can take a few minutes and walk outside and get some fresh air during the day, that’s great, but even sitting by a window will help a lot. I know that sounds simple, but it is very effective.
Sit by an open window during the day whenever there’s daylight. With so many people working from home or staying indoors, it’s easy to forget when it’s light out or dark out or when it’s a weekday or the weekend. It’s really important to make those distinctions. Make sure that you structure a schedule for yourself. Try to go to bed around the same time every night so that you have good sleep hygiene. Try to wake up around the same time every day and open the shades when you wake up. Put new clothes on in the morning, even if it’s sweatpants. It’s important to get out of what you slept in. If you can work in a different room than you sleep in, that can be very helpful. And then at night, when you get in bed, there’s this neurological understanding that now it’s bedtime, and my body’s going to be tired, and I’m going to go to sleep.
In terms of the connection piece, make a virtual walking date with a friend. Go take a walk during the lightest time of the day and ask your friend to go take a walk wherever he or she is, and talk on the phone. You’re outdoors, you’ve changed your environment, and even it it’s cloudy or cold, you’re still getting outside. You’re moving your body, which is really good for endorphins, you’re getting a little bit of sunlight, ad you’re connecting with someone, so you’re checking off three things at once.
With so much uncertainty in the world right now, many of us wake up in the morning already feeling depressed or anxious. Do you have any tips on how to start out your day on the right foot?
Make your bed in the morning. I know it sounds kind of silly, because who cares right? But by making your bed, you’re making that distinction that you are up for the day. Having a nice physical environment can really lift your mood.
After waking up the first thing that many of us do is look at our phones. If you can take five minutes before you look at your phone and write down one thing that you are grateful for, that can make a world of difference in your day. It can be the smallest thing: “I’m grateful I can have orange juice for breakfast.” Or “I’m really grateful for my son’s smile.” Even if it’s something minor, if you think of your mood like a scale, it just sets you in the “plus zone” for the day.
Most people wake up immediately they go to negative five, because they look at the news, or see how many emails they have. Instead, try to start your day in positive territory, by letting yourself focus on gratitude. Then as things happen during the day, like work piles up, or family issues arise, your mood might go down a little bit, but hopefully you won’t go below zero.
Though it’s February and relationships are on people’s minds, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to consider ways to strengthen your relationship with your partner. Consider these six tips to help keep the spark going all year.
1. Find and make time to spend one-on-one with your partner. Put distractions (i.e. cell phones) aside, and enjoy the time conversing with each other. Go on your favorite dates, and mix in activities that can help you explore new interests.
2. Share acts of love and kindness. Leave notes under the pillow or in a lunch box. Drop by each other’s work with a treat. Come home with a fun surprise, or take your partner on a quick, unplanned outing for a drink or ice cream.
3. Think before you speak. When it comes to arguments and differences of opinions, take a step back and reflect on how important the point of argument is. Is it really worth putting your foot down? Is there room for compromise?
4. When discussing matters, be a good listener. Don’t interrupt — wait for your turn to speak. When speaking, repeat what you heard to summarize what you think you heard. Then use “I” statements by saying “I feel [what feeling?] when [this happens] because [why you feel that way]. Even better is when you can follow up with a request. For example, “I feel frustrated when you leave for the gym before you help clean the kitchen, because I am left to do all the work on my own and it takes the rest of my evening. Next time can you please help me quickly after we are done eating?”
5. Make each other smile. Laughter is the best medicine. Capitalize on inside jokes to make special moments of connection. Replay the inside jokes occasionally during conversations, or in texts or emails. This can help keep you both smiling.
6. Keep traditions alive, and consider creating new ones. Remember anniversaries and special events with a date, gift or note. Consider re-creating your favorite activities each year.
adapted from an article by Madisyn Taylor
We understand that we want to be better but have no clear definition of what better means and that is part of the process.
At some point in our lives, many of us find ourselves overcome with the desire to become better people. While we are all uniquely capable of navigating this world, we may nonetheless feel driven to grow, expand, and change. This innate need for personal expansion can lead us down many paths as we develop within the context of our individual lives. Yet the initial steps that can put us on the road to evolution are not always clear. We understand that we want to be better but have no clear definition of "better." Begin by taking small steps. Identify what your idea of growth looks like and adhere to that ideal on your journey. Accept that change won't happen overnight--we may not recognize the transformations taking place within us at first.
Becoming a better person in your own eyes is a whole-life project. Focus your step-by-step efforts on multiple areas of your existence. Since you likely know innately which qualities you consider good, growing as an individual is simply a matter of making an effort to do good whenever possible. Respect should be a key element of your efforts. When you acknowledge that all people are deserving of compassion, consideration, and dignity, you are naturally more apt to treat them in the manner you yourself wish to be treated. You will intuitively become a more active listener, universally helpful, and truthful. Going the extra mile in all you do can also facilitate your growth. Approaching your everyday duties with an upbeat attitude and positive expectations can help you make the world a brighter, more cheerful place. Finally, coming to terms with your values and then abiding by them will enable you to introduce a new degree of integrity and dignity into your life.
As you endeavor to develop yourself further, you can take pride not only in your successes, but also in the fact that you are cultivating consciousness within yourself through your choices, actions, and behaviors. While you may never feel you have reached the pinnacles of awareness you hope to achieve, you can make the most of this creative process of transformation. Becoming a better person is your choice and is a natural progression in your journey of self-awareness.
You are far from alone in feeling alone. Here are some ideas to help.
adapted from an article By Julie Halpert·
Shelter-in-place orders have hit those who live alone particularly hard.
When the coronavirus hit it brought feelings of isolation into sharp focus, especially for those of us who live alone.
The moments that are most difficult are when I think about not knowing when I’ll be able to touch another human being again. I had a new granddaughter born at the end of March, and even though she is only 20 minutes away, it feels like she is on the other side of the world. As someone with no partner, I sometimes feel profoundly lonely. I wonder if I fell, how long would it take for someone to find me?
Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University who has studied loneliness extensively, says social connection is something we biologically crave. “We’re social beings and our bodies respond when we lack the proximity to others,” she said. So, the new normal prompted by Covid-19 “is a difficult kind of situation where we need to try to still remain socially connected while being physically distant,” she said.
Dr. Holt-Lunstad has found that loneliness can lead to serious consequences. One of her studies found that lacking any social connection may be comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day as a risk factor for mortality. Another study found that loneliness increases the risk of an earlier death by 26 percent. She also found that social isolation, loneliness and living alone exceed the risks of death associated with obesity, physical activity and air pollution.
Susan Pinker, a psychologist and author of “The Village Effect,” said that loneliness is a subjective feeling of being alone against your will. She said that you can be alone and not be lonely or you can be lonely even if you’re surrounded by people. It’s “a feeling of being excluded and of existential angst,” she said.
The situation is particularly serious, given that many Americans had been lonely even before the coronavirus pandemic hit.
According to a January 2020 survey of 10,000 Americans ages 18 and over conducted by Cigna, 61 percent of adults — three in five — reported they are lonely. That number is up seven percentage points from 2018. With Americans more physically isolated now because of coronavirus stay-at-home orders, the sense of loneliness is even greater, said Dr. Doug Nemecek, Cigna’s chief medical officer for behavioral health. Cigna’s study indicated that major factors corresponding with loneliness were a lack of social support and too few meaningful social interactions; it also found those who telecommute are more lonely than those who work in an office.
“Because of Covid-19, this is impacting many more of us. We are socially distanced. We can’t interact with friends or neighbors. We can’t visit elderly parents who are in nursing homes,” he said. “All of this has the potential of impacting how we feel from social connection and loneliness.”
The Cigna study indicated that 79 percent of those aged 18 to 22 considered themselves lonely. Among this group, heavy social media users were more likely to say they’re feeling lonely, Dr. Nemecek said, “so leveraging social media in the right way to make and maintain meaningful connections with someone else is very important.” For example, he said it’s likely to be more beneficial to have a video chat instead of just reading the news on social media or scrolling through Twitter posts.
There can be a greater risk of depression among those who have no social contact or social support, said Lisa Cox, a licensed clinical social worker and professor of social work and gerontology at Stockton University. But she says if those individuals exercise self-care, they can fare well. This includes participating in online support groups, yoga and stretching, keeping a gratitude journal, practicing mindfulness and immersing yourself in creative endeavors like drawing and listening to music.
Dr. Cox acknowledged that it can be difficult to exert the energy to try new things when you’re lonely, but said it’s worth giving it a try. Dr. Pinker said video chats are the next best thing to being there — anything that mimics the reciprocity of real interactions, or where you’re all “paying attention to the same thing at the same time.”
It’s an ideal time to pick up the phone and check in with friends and family with whom you’ve lost contact, she said. And just getting out and taking a walk around the block can help replicate the routine of your day as you once headed to work or a coffee shop, creating the opportunity to “see people in a casual way,” Dr. Pinker said. Both she and Dr. Cox say apps like Houseparty, which allows you to participate virtually in activities like games with friends or Netflix Party, where you can watch movies with friends who aren’t with you, can provide a means of social connection.
This time can be particularly challenging for older adults. A 2020 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that nearly half of adults ages 60 and older report feeling lonely. Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation, cites AARP findings that over 42 million Americans — a third of the population age 45 and older — were lonely before coronavirus hit and says those numbers are on the rise in the current situation. She suggests that older adults prepare a “Friendventory,” a list that begins with an inner circle of friends and neighbors and expands to include former work colleagues and classmates. “It’s hard for people to take the first step, but it’s important to reach out,” she said.
She also suggests that everyone else call at least one older adult each day who may be at risk for loneliness to ask how they’re doing and listen to their response. Perhaps you can also help by offering to talk them through setting up virtual chats with their friends and family.
All these years later, it’s the absurdity of the normal routine that I remember most about the morning of 9/11. I was getting my kids ready for school when my sister-in-law called to tell me to turn on the television.
I was standing in our sun-speckled kitchen, cleaning up breakfast dishes when the planes struck the World Trade Center. At first I thought it was a movie clip, it couldn’t be real. The look of disbelief and bewilderment on my kid’s faces matched my own. Little did they realize the world would be forever changed. Like millions of Americans, I watched the towers collapse in real time. What happened after that was a collective nightmare.
A few years ago, I had to face the uncertainty of cancer. I live alone and the fear of being a burden on my children loomed large. I was lucky enough to be amongst those who are “cured” with surgery, but the fear of relapse is always in the back of my mind.
Here we are again — facing an entirely different, yet terrible threat that has already claimed more American lives than the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Government leaders and health care workers liken the COVID-19 pandemic to war. So far, my family has been spared. Still, I worry because testing continues to be elusive and everyday thousands of people appear to be spreading a virus they don’t even know they have. The stories of sickness, death, and people losing businesses and jobs, my kids being some of those people without employment, and worrying about which bills they must pay, make me weep. It hardly matters if we turn away from the news and our social media feeds. The silent screams of this pandemic are deafening.
Is it any wonder everyone’s feeling unmoored in the face of such massive fear and uncertainty? As someone who focuses on helping others cultivate resilience, I’m having to remind myself of what it means to grapple with the kind of looming unknowns that terrorist acts, cancer, and now, COVID-19 present. Don’t count on me to sugar coat these events. Life is full of random, unfair hardships. But I know from hard experience that we are often far more resilient than we realize.
What does it meant to be resilient? We recognize that we have choices. We accept the circumstances while doing all we can to push forward in our lives. We know ourselves — know what triggers us, calms, us, inspires us, motivates us. And we learn strategies to move us in the direction we want to go. The goal is never to get someplace quick. Resilience requires thoughtful intention. Resilient people understand that no matter how dire the situation, we are never truly stuck — ever. We allow ourselves to wrestle with fear, sadness, frustration and pain, and then we work to reimagine new possibilities. Forget about a lifetime of misery! Because we are resilient, we recognize where we are and where we want to be, and we allow ourselves to feel cautiously optimistic about the future.
Here are 7 ways to live with greater resilience in a COVID-19 world. See which ones work best for you.
1. Express yourself.
Write it out. Talk it out. Do what you must to unburden your fears. There’s a trove of research about how writing to better understand and learn from our emotions, strengthens our immune systems and minds.
2. Release stress through laughter.
Watch comedy reruns or Saturday Night Live. I try to look at a silly cartoon or graphic about the absurdity of our situation every day. I send silly jokes to my grandkids and know that their parents are laughing too. It’s not only okay to laugh, it’s healing. Take a look at The Mayo Clinic’s prescription for laughter here.
3. Stretch yourself.
This is probably not the time to tackle a huge, long-term goal. How about organizing the medicine cabinet or planting your favorite herbs in a pot?
4. Give your mind a break.
Wiggle your toes. Take a walk and smell the fragrant spring air. Listen to music. Meditate. Your fears won’t necessarily go away but your grip on them might.
5. Show empathy.
Worry and fear can keep us trapped in our own egos and mental silos. It’s not necessary to be heroic. How about making a simple phone call to a friend or sending a “thinking of you” letter? “Empathy is the game-changer. It is the trait that will ultimately save the world,” -Judith Orloff M.D.
6. Think of a time you triumphed over a challenge before.
It doesn’t matter how small. What matters is that you transitioned to a different place.
7. Have faith
Your presence in the universe matters. It’s just as astronomer Carl Sagan said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Cautious optimism. Believe.
I’m rooting for all of us.
Growing up, the unspoken message I received over and over again was that I shouldn't love myself.
Society told me my body wasn't good enough, not skinny enough, not smooth enough, some parts were too big, and others were too small. My conservative church upbringing unwittingly told me that I would always be secondary to the men in my life.
Women are continually given messages that we should underestimate ourselves and abilities. So often, I feel like we're told as women to ignore our own intuition and our sensibilities of right and wrong.
But what I hear God saying is that women can lead and should be believed, you're loved as you are.
And as I have started taking those messages to heart, I've realized what revolutionary act it is to love yourself: to practice self-care, to look in the mirror and feel beautiful, to say no, to believe in yourself.
Self-love is helping me love others better and taking care of myself helps me continue to do the work.
So today I'm asking only one thing of you, love yourself.
This pandemic is hard and scary and you're doing great.
The more out of tune you are with your emotions, as well as the emotions of your partner, the more likely you will experience conflict and misunderstandings within the relationship.
This applies both with deeply connected relationships as well as dead-end relationships.
When it comes to Emotional IQ, it makes you more aware of changes in the relationship—those shifts in the relationship dynamic that require either an effort to change something or the need to bail.
It allows you to recognize what is working and not working in the relationship.
Using Emotional IQ to Strengthen Your RelationshipHere are some ways in which emotional intelligence can strengthen the relationship between you and your partner:
1. Assertive Communication
Knowing how you feel, and giving yourself time to properly react to it, means that you can assertively communicate your wants and needs in a relationship. You can also more easily recognize your boundaries and lay them out directly to your partner.
Being able to assertively communicate also helps prevent you from bottling up issues—you are being open and honest about your feelings. You don’t hold things back and allow resentment to build.
I know I’ve been in situations of conflict, with others, where all my past transgressions against this person were thrown into my face.
I never understood why they hung on to these issues and never approached me about them when they happened. It hurt, and it certainly changed how I felt about my relationship with them.
When you directly communicate with your partner, you are dealing with problems as they arise and resolving them in a fair and straightforward manner.
2. Respond Instead of Reacting
I mentioned this before but being able to pause and take a moment to stop and think before acting or speaking is a huge part of emotional intelligence and a crucial part of a healthy relationship.
Imagine that you found out your partner lied to you.
Your initial inclination may be to react emotionally and shell out all your anger on your partner. All this does is creates a conflict and a tense and negative atmosphere.
I’m not saying you should ignore the issue, but when you respond instead of react you are giving yourself time to approach the situation with a clear head.
You may find out a deeper reason as to why your partner lied and begin to work on building trust again. Or you may decide that this crosses one of your personal boundaries.
Either way, decisions are better made in any situation when you pause and respond instead of impulsively reacting.
3. Practice Empathy
In order to empathize with someone, especially a romantic partner, you need to be able to connect with their emotions.
The more you are in tune with your own feelings, the more you can recognize and understand the feelings of others.
However, empathy does not require that you completely understand your partner’s feelings—it means accepting and valuing how they feel and who they are.
Whether or not you agree with how they feel, it’s important to respect their emotions and what caused them.
Don’t mistake respect with responsibility. You are not responsible for the feelings your partner displays. They can make the same choice as you to respond instead of react—even if you are the cause of the feelings that lead to this choice.
4. Active Listening
Emotional intelligence is not simply a matter of recognizing and paying attention to your emotions, but the emotions of others as well.
Apart from being empathetic, you can easily tune in to your partner’s feelings by actively listening to them.
Active listening is not just waiting for your turn to speak—it’s engaging with what’s being said and trying to understand your partner’s point-of-view.
When you find yourself having a hard time focusing on what’s being said, ask your partner for clarification. Or you can repeat back what they said to ensure you heard them correctly.
5. Create a Positive Environment
When you are open with your emotions, and respectful of the emotions of your partner, there is a potential for your relationship to get bogged down by feelings.
Remember to keep your relationship’s environment positive.
Practice gratitude by expressing to your partner why you are thankful for them. Don’t forget to have fun, provide support, and express the positive emotions, too.
Love is a Two-Way StreetI talk a lot about what you can do to increase your emotional intelligence in a relationship—but love works both ways.
The onus to make the relationship work falls on your partner as well. It’s not up to you to bear the burden of a one-sided relationship that isn’t working.
As much as you want to use emotional intelligence to connect with your partner, remember that it can also provide clarity and insight into a relationship that is not thriving.
I used to believe that arguing was a sign of a healthy relationship.
That, somehow, relationships without conflict are simply “fairy tales” and too good to be true.
However, after a three decades long marriage with a lot of conflict, I knew my idea was flawed. I began to learn about emotional intelligence, and I realized that a relationship full of conflict is not healthy.
Other people, including our romantic partners, can say or do anything to us—but it is up to us how we respond or react to it.
We can choose to work out an issue or walk away. Having emotional intelligence gives us the ability to make that choice with clarity. It also allows us to connect deeply with other people by recognizing and respecting their emotions and developing empathy for them.
Understanding the importance of emotional intelligence in your relationship is a crucial aspect of experiencing a successful relationship.
What is Emotional IQ?
Emotional IQ, or emotional intelligence, is the ability to recognize your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. When you possess emotional intelligence, you are able to label your feelings and recognize the difference between different feelings.
For instance, you may be able to recognize that you are frustrated or disappointed instead of angry over a situation.
Developing your emotional IQ will help guide you through your thoughts and behaviors as well. This relates to the concept of “self-awareness,” which involves being mindful of your thoughts and feelings and being able to control whether you react emotionally to a situation or respond logically to it.
Emotional intelligence also ties in directly with empathy, which is the ability to connect with other people’s personal experiences and feelings.
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Having emotional intelligence will lead you on a path to a happy and fulfilled life. Being in touch with your emotions means you can deal with negative feelings and embrace the positive ones.
It also affects the overall quality of your life and influences your behavior and your relationships.
This is because developing emotional intelligence awards you with emotional regulation. Having emotional regulation means you can control strong emotions and avoid impulsive actions caused by those feelings.
In other words, it allows you to take the time to process those negative emotions, look at the situation, and make better decisions about how to act.
You can imagine how effective that is in interpersonal relationships—especially romantic relationships.
Self care isn't just drinking water and going to sleep early. Self care is taking a break when things become overwhelming, saying no to things that you do not want to do, allowing yourself to cry, asking for help from those around you, doing things that make you happy.