Category Archives for Relationships

How To Be A Good Friend And Form Stronger Friendships

Not all friendships are built the same; there are perfectly compatible best friends, constantly clashing frenemies, and every variation in between. Part of what determines the kind of friendships you have is what kind of friend you are. To form strong, lasting friendships, being a good friend is key. With a little effort, you can learn to be the kind of friend that people want to have.

But being a good friend isn’t the only thing that decides the state of your friendship; the kind of people you’re friends with is important too. After all, not every person is compatible with every other person. We’re all different. Having friends that are similar to you makes it easier to build meaningful friendships. It’s not mandatory, but we tend to mesh better with people who have the same views, interests, and personality traits as us. People who aren’t very similar to you but who are generally positive and supportive are also good candidates for building strong friendships with. People who are negative and regularly treat you in ways that bring you down aren’t ones you want to put a lot of energy into. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to have valuable relationships with them and spending more time on them could be detrimental to your wellbeing, so let them go and focus on the people who bring joy into your life.

In order to build a friendship, it’s important to be yourself. It’s good life advice in general and so important in any kind of relationship. If you aren’t being yourself, you form a barrier between you and your friend instead of letting them in so you can really bond. We can often tell when someone is being fake; sometimes they give off an insincere vibe or just seem generally awkward in the persona they’re trying to present. It’s hard to make friends with that kind of person. So be yourself. Be open about what you like and what you think and you’re bound to find people who feel the same way and would make great friends.

Once you’ve got a person in your life that you see potentially having a great friendship with, it’s time to put in the effort needed to build up that relationship. Start behaving like a good friend and you’re likely to find that that person will be a good friend to you too. A good place to begin is being attentive in conversations since, chances are, conversation is going to be a big part of forming that initial bond between you. And if you’ve been friends for a while, it’s still important to do if you want to strengthen and maintain your friendship. Pay attention to what your friend is saying and absorb the information before responding. Ask questions that help clarify their perspective and then summarize what they’ve said when you’re giving your thoughts on the topic. They’ll recognize that you’ve cared enough to really hear them. When they feel appreciated, they’ll appreciate you back and your friendship will deepen.

As you’re chatting, you’ll probably feel like sharing your view. That’s great and part of what keeps a conversation going. However, when it comes to giving advice, keep it to a minimum. If your friend asks you for advice, it’s a perfect time to make suggestions on how to deal with their problem or what decision to make; but if they’re talking about a problem and haven’t asked you what you think they should do, they probably just want to vent. Stepping in to offer advice too often makes you come off as a know-it-all or overly opinionated about their life. Simply listening to your friend and offering your support can mean the world to them and help them to see you as someone they can rely on. They come to feel accepted by you and will value you deeply as their friend.

On that note, accept your friends for who they are. When they open up to you, don’t judge them; when you give them advice, don’t be trying to change them. Despite how much you may have in common, you’ll probably disagree on at least a couple subjects and have some differences between you. That’s natural—we’re all individuals and are all different. But to have a strong, long-lasting friendship, you have to be willing to accept those differences and respect your friend for who they are and how they feel. If the disagreement is something big, something that is really significant to you and bothers you, it’s okay to let the friendship dissolve and to move on. It’s not okay to try to change the other person to fit your preferences. Solid relationships require respect and acceptance. Without them, there will always be a gap between you.

If you choose to stay friends, it’s surely because you like a lot of things about them—so compliment them! Not constantly, since that can become a bit overwhelming and border on creepy, but occasional compliments can make your friend feel really good about themselves and feel appreciated by you. If your friend looks particularly nice one day, if they’ve done some good work, or if there’s something about them that you admire, pay them a compliment. Be the kind of friend who is uplifting, helps build their confidence, and makes them smile and they’ll enjoy being around you and appreciate the positivity you offer to them. It’s the kind of behaviour that adds to the strength of your friendship and makes it more likely to last.

Making time for your friends is another way to show that you appreciate them. Spending time together is obviously enjoyable, and when you can talk and laugh together it builds your bond. But when you move out of high school and into adulthood, into separate colleges or jobs, it can be a lot harder to find time to see each other. When your lives become busy, deliberately scheduling time to get together is not only a chance to catch up with each other but shows that you’re committed to the friendship. You’ve shifted your schedule or found a couple of free hours between meetings and proven that your friend is a priority in your life. This makes them feel important, and that’s something we all like to feel. If you move far apart or are in a period that is just too hectic to meet up, try sending a quick text to let them know you miss them or squeeze in a short Skype call. Putting in the effort can make the difference between a lasting friendship and one that fizzles out.

When you do get together it’s always nice to indulge in activities you both enjoy, but trying new things together is a great way to strengthen your bond even more. Doing something for the first time tends to form a memory that stands out more than doing something you’ve done dozens of times before. Including your friend in the new activity makes them part of that significant memory, part of something that sticks out in your mind. Doing something thrilling for the first time, like going on amusement park rides or skydiving, not only has this benefit, but also offers a situation where you bond through supporting one another. Take going on a new rollercoaster for example: while you’re waiting for it to start moving, you’re sitting there together, laughing about how excited and scared you are, but ready to do it because your friend is there to experience it with you, which gives your mind the impression that they’re a good support. Meanwhile, the thrill of this new experience is beginning to store in your brain as a memory—and your friend is a key part of it. Being a part of each other’s memories solidifies your friendship in your mind.

Though most of your friendship should be enjoyable, it’s not uncommon for friends to butt heads and wind up in an argument now and then. If it happens, apologize. No one wins by holding a grudge—you hurt your friendship and you probably feel miserable. If you know you’ve said something or acted in a way that was inappropriate or hurtful, swallow your pride and apologize. It shows that you appreciate your friend enough to admit that you were wrong and that you’re sorry for what happened. Even if you feel you were right and your friend was wrong, stepping up and apologizing can be the break in the tension that leads them to apologize too. If you want to mend your friendship and have it last for years to come, saying you’re sorry when you’ve messed up is an important, if difficult, thing to do.

Ultimately, being a good friend is about being positive, supportive, and accepting. Be the kind of friend you want to have because it’s probably what your friend is looking for too. And when you offer that kind of friendship, it’s likely to be returned to you. Being a good friend goes a long way toward maintaining the relationship, and being willing to put in the work to stay connected will do the rest. It can take some effort to get them, but having great friendships can make life more fun and a little easier.

How to Resolve an Argument with Your Partner

It’s very common to have arguments with your other half. Things can’t be just peachy all of the time. Life’s not perfect, which means love certainly isn’t perfect either. So, you’re here because you’ve had a big bust up. It’s likely you’ve overreacted, you’ve both lost your temper and you’ve ended up shouting at each other. You may have even called each other some choice words. It happens. But, how do you get your relationship back on track before it’s too late? Here’s how to resolve an argument with your partner.

 

Don’t let it escalate any further.

When we become angry as human beings, we become irrational. We can’t always control what we say or what we do, as it feels like the devil is on our shoulder, whispering in our ear. Before you get so angry that you start to say or do unkind things, try and stop yourself. Cut communication with your partner and tell them you’ll talk to them later when you’re both feeling much calmer. It’s so tempting to send them a dig in a Whatsapp message, or post to the world on Facebook how you’ve never felt this angry before, but this will only make things worse.

 

Take some time to cool down.

Having some personal breathing space is important after a big argument with your partner. If you’re living in the same house, go to your parents’ or friend’s house for a time out. If you’re physically apart, ban yourself from messaging them or phoning them for half a day. You need time to reflect on what was said, not just on their part, but on yours too. If the argument was rather monumental, then it’s likely that you will be angry at each other for a significant period of time. You need to get back to your cool, calm and collected self before you can even think about contacting them or being near them again.

 

Arrange a time to talk when you’re both ready.

As soon as you’ve calmed down properly, and you can think rationally again, contact them to let them know that you’re prepared to talk. Whether you choose to see them face-to-face, talk on the phone or just Whatsapp them, do it at your own pace. Bear in mind that you might be ready for communication before they are and, in this case, you’ll have to accept that they need more space and let them come to you when they’re ready.

 

Write down what you want to say before you talk.

This isn’t imperative, although it might help you organise your thoughts. If you write down everything you want to cover when you next talk beforehand, you are unlikely to miss anything out. You’ll be as prepared as you can be, in the sense that you’ve thought everything through. You can also keep referring to the piece of paper if you need to, which will prevent you from forgetting any key points.

 

Talk it all out.

When it comes down to having ‘the talk’, make sure you cover all bases. Calmly explain your point of view, including how they made you feel and how their behaviour provoked you to act the way you did. If you made a mistake, own up to it. Apologise. A lot of people find admitting they were wrong difficult, but your partner will really appreciate your courage and honesty. If you’re desperately craving an apology for a mistake they made, then make it clear to them that it’s going to take an apology to enable you both move forward. You need to come to some kind agreement of how you can both learn and grow from the experience, to prevent similar arguments happening again in future, and to help your relationship evolve.

 

We are all human beings, we have different minds and we disagree sometimes. It’s inevitable, especially in relationships when you’re so totally obsessed with the other person, therefore you overreact and delve deeper into what they say and do. However, it’s all about how we handle these arguments when they happen. And it’s about how we put them right. The want and willingness to make things work has to come from both sides, and if you’ve each got that desire, then you and your relationship will be just fine.

 

Couple Embracing

Woman on Laptop facebook

How Facebook Can Have a Negative Effect on Your Relationship

Facebook: it’s the cultural phenomenon of our era. If you’re a fellow Millennial, you probably can’t go one day without either going on the mobile app, or checking out the site on your laptop. We love it as a communicative tool, a way of spying on people from our past and a way of keeping in touch with present friends and family. However, when it comes to relationships, Facebook can be a bit like marmite. Some days you love it, as you can share your relationship news with your loved ones, photos pop up of your partner that make you smile and you can tag them in memes to let them know you’re thinking of them. However, some days you hate it. Anyone who’s had a relationship in the last decade which – let’s face it – is most of us, knows that Facebook can be the source of some rather colossal arguments. Here’s how Facebook can have a negative effect on your relationship – and how to not let it!

 

You can see when your partner is online.

 

It’s great to be able to see when your other half is on Facebook – but not when they haven’t answered your last three text messages. Perhaps you’ve asked if they want to do something later and you need to know before you make other plans, or maybe they’ve been on a night out with their friends and you want to know if they’re safe. Cue the age old question: why are they on social media when they know I’m waiting for a text back? Apparently the ‘Active Now’ feature on Facebook is not entirely accurate, so try not to take this as the law! It refers to when they are on their phone, but not necessarily when they are on Facebook, so try to be patient, give them the benefit of the doubt and wait for them to contact you before you send them another text fuelled by sheer anger.

 

You can see who they’re friends with.

 

Being able to see who they’re friends with on Facebook is all well and good, but what if you spot someone you don’t want to find on their friends list? For example: an ex. One of the most popular relationship debates of our day and age is whether you should be friends with your ex on Facebook or not. If your past relationship was a long time ago, and it ended amicably, then it might be acceptable. However, if your past relationship is raw, and you have got into a new relationship relatively soon afterwards – then there’s a good chance you won’t be over that ex. The same rules apply to your partner. If you question them, and they have simply forgotten to delete their ex and proceed to do it with haste, then you can let it slide. However, if they not only have their ex on Facebook but refuse to delete them, or are even in contact with them, then this is a cause for concern. Arguably, the best way to avoid any Facebook drama with ex’s is for both partners to delete them out of respect for the other person. However, if you are good friends with an ex and don’t want to lose that friendship, then communicate this to your partner and try to come to some sort of agreement whereby both of you are happy.

 

You can see inappropriate photos that they’ve been tagged in.

 

We’ve all been there. We’ve had a heavy night out on the town with friends, not realised that embarrassing photographic evidence was being taken, and woken up the next morning to find said photos plastered all over Facebook for all our friends list to see – and laugh at. Cue 30 minutes of frantic de-tagging. If you’re in a relationship, there’s a good chance you might spot something going on in those photos of your partner that you don’t want to see! For instance, the classic one is: “um excuse me, but who is that my boyfriend has his arm draped around? She certainly isn’t me! Perhaps that’s why he wasn’t answering his phone all night!” Then, before you know it, you’ve had a screaming match with your partner down the phone – regardless of whether their behaviour was innocent or not. As it turns out, a lot of the time, their behaviour will be innocent – but it won’t seem that way thanks to your Facebook news feed. In this case, it’s best to ask your partner calmly about the photos before you jump to other conclusions. Sure, it looks bad – but there might be a perfectly reasonable explanation – and you can avoid having a big blow-up by simply communicating with your other half.

 

Some may say that the best way to avoid potential arguments, such as these, is to not have your partner on Facebook – or to not be active on Facebook yourself – but this could be a little extreme! It’s so easy to study and over-analyse your partner’s behaviour through social media, and this often results in overthinking and making incorrect assumptions. The important thing is to trust your partner, let your insecurities go, and everything else will fall into place.

 

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How to date after college

How to Date After You Graduate College

 

Dating is always tricky but when you graduate college, it becomes a whole new ballgame. You are no longer surrounded by thousands of eligible, age appropriate partners. In college you were constantly put into close proximity situations with dozens of young adults. Dating was a breeze– you just had to choose one of the many suitors available. However, when you left school and entered the workforce, the dating pool surrounding you became infinitely small. Don’t worry, this is normal. It is just time for you to adjust, re-calibrate and try a new approach.

How to date after college

  1. Pursue Activities

Remember all the things you used to put off because you were too busy with classes and work? Now is the time to push all your excuses aside and pursue anything that interests you. This can be anything from going to the gym regularly to joining a weekly book club. This way you will be enriching your life and putting yourself in situations where you could meet people who have the same interests as you.

  1. Download an App

It is time to download the apps you have probably always hated. This is the way the new dating world works. The first app of its kind, Tinder, is a classic. Once two people match with each one another, either of them can send a message to the other. Fair warning– this app has become more of a hookup app than dating. An app that is more geared towards dating is Bumble. Only females can message males first and they have to do so in the first 24 hours of matching. Acclaimed comedian and actress Amy Schumer met her boyfriend of one year on Bumble.

  1. Make the move.

 

Throw all gender roles out the window. At this point you cannot afford to beat around the bush. You don’t know if you’ll see that cute guy at the bar ever again. You don’t know if you’ll see that pretty girl in the coffee shop again. Unlike in college, it is not likely you will see each other again. Go talk to them! The worst thing that can happen is they won’t feel the same way. But, chances are you will never see them again so who cares?

  1. Let people set you up.

Most people in college don’t want to go on blind dates because they feel they have other options. This is understandable for when you’re surrounded by thousands of eligible singles. But I am telling you now, once you join the real world, it is okay to be set up by your mother, aunt, friends, coworkers and anyone else who knows you. The advantage of getting set up by someone rather than meeting a stranger yourself is that the mutual party will be able to tell you things about the other person. It is also a safer way to date as both parties know someone else knows they were going on a date.

  1. Try solo activities.

 

Stop looking. This may seem like it contradicts everything above but it is in fact the key to finding a significant other. Take this newfound freedom from your college workload and work on yourself. You are never going to be happy in a relationship with someone else if you can’t be happy with yourself. No one in a new relationship wants to become the center of the other person’s life.

 

Long Distance Relationship

How to Deal with Being in a Long Distance Relationship

You may have recently found yourself in a long distance relationship without quite knowing how it happened, or perhaps it’s always been this way and you have both had to accept it from the start. Either way, it’s no secret that long distance relationships are tough! Whether you are 300 or 3000 miles away from each other, here are some tips on how to tackle the physical distance head on.

Long Distance Relationship

Here’s how to deal with being in a long distance relationship:

Communicate, communicate, communicate!

Talking is instrumental as it’s all you have got when you’re not seeing your partner for days, weeks, or maybe even months! You should set some time every day to talk, whether that’s on the phone or over text messaging. You could argue that communication is all you have right now, so it’s important that it’s on top form! If you’re on different continents, this might mean you need to stay up late, or get up really early, because of potential time differences. Either way, talk as much as you can, laugh, and share everyday events with your partner to keep the emotional connection strong.

Communication in relationships

Make use of the latest technology.

The various avenues of technology that allow you to see your partner – such as Facetime and Skype – are incredibly useful when you’re in a long distance relationship. Just seeing their face through a phone can truly make your day, and make you feel physically close to them even though the reality is very different. As mentioned previously, communication is imperative; however, ensure that it is quality communication. One text here and there is probably not going to cut it!

Always have a date planned for the next meet up.

Even though you’re both busy and the date might be weeks into the future, it really does help to have one pencilled in the calendar. As soon as it’s set in stone and travel arrangements are made, you can count down the days together. It gives you something to look forward to if you’re going through a bad patch as a couple or desperately missing them.

Have long distance date nights.

Just because you’re in a long distance relationship, doesn’t mean you should neglect the romance. You can still spend time with your partner, even though it’s not physically in the same room! Why not watch a film together, or make a date to have dinner together, over Skype? If dinner doesn’t work because of time differences, then it could be drinks – or even coffee. Also, surprise your partner. A random text or Snapchat letting them know you’re thinking of them here and there will mean a lot to them and it keeps the spark alight.

Have the end goal in mind.

Long Distance Relationship Locks

Obviously long distance relationships can’t last forever. There has to be a set end date in mind where one of you will move to the other, or both of you will move to a new city together. If it’s impossible to work out an exact timeframe at the moment, then at least have a plan of action that you’ve discussed extensively and agreed upon. You have to be able to see a future together, physically together, otherwise there’s no point proceeding with the relationship.

No one ever said that long distance relationships are easy or straightforward – in fact, they are anything but! However, if you can survive your long distance period the, as a couple, you can survive anything. If you persevere, work through the different challenges and make it to the other side together, then your relationship will be stronger as a result. Good luck!

How to Flirt with Girls – Tips and Tricks

Being able to flirt effectively goes a long way when you’re trying to get a girl you’re interested in to feel the same way about you. Some people are naturally good at flirting and others not so good, but luckily it’s something that can be learned by just about anyone. With knowledge of what girls like and some practice, you can become an effective flirter and make yourself more appealing.

Some of the suggestions that we’ll cover have been proven effective in psychological studies and experiments, but usually only in heterosexual interactions. However, most women tend to like the same kinds of traits and behaviour regardless of orientation, so many of these recommendations are suitable for same-sex flirtation too.

               The first impression is significant and your body language is a big part of it. Before you even have a chance to say anything, the way you carry yourself will give the girl you’re approaching an idea of what you’re like. Ideally, you want to come off as casual and confident as these traits make you more attractive. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed. If you’re standing, make sure your feet point forward or slightly outward. These aspects of your posture will help you appear more outgoing and friendly.

Once you’ve settled in, add in some displays of social dominance. Women typically like men who have alpha characteristics so expressing strength though your pose can make you more attractive on an unconscious level. Try some “space maximization techniques”. Men who are of higher social standing often feel comfortable taking up more space, so drape your arm over the chair next to you or sit with your legs spread to imply you are of high standing. Only do this if there is enough space, though; if you’re taking up space in a way that imposes on other people around you, it can come off as rude instead. But if there’s extra room around you, go for it. If your friends are nearby, you can also show dominance by playfully elbowing or shoving them. You don’t want to come off as overly rough, but some light roughhousing can be masculine in a way that is appealing to women—assuming they are attracted to masculine qualities. Combine these actions with a friendly demeanor and a smile and it’s likely to pique her interest.

While smiling is a great way to show you’re enjoying your time with a girl, it can sometimes be better to smirk than to have a full, toothy smile on your face. It’s perfectly natural to smile while laughing, and women love to see that you’re enjoying yourself; but, research has found that grinning widely too much can make you appear desperate or over-eager. Instead, try smirking. While you’re listening to her, switch out the big smile for a gentle smirk. It’s more relaxed but still shows that you’re interested in what she’s saying. Women don’t like men who seem desperate to win them over—smirking will give the impression of a laid-back demeanor which is much more appealing.

Eye contact makes a significant difference in any social interaction, and when flirting with girls, it’s extremely important. Girls are more likely to like guys who show that interest in them. Making eye contact with a girl from across the room signals to her that you’re interested, and holding it in conversation shows her that that she’s the focus of your attention. This makes her feel special which makes the flirtation more enjoyable for her. Additionally, eye contact is useful for forming a connection. Research has shown that making eye contact for as little as two minutes can spark feelings of attraction and affection. If staring into her eyes romantically stirs up those kinds of feelings, she’ll be more receptive to other flirtatious behaviour, like smiling and light touches.

If your body language and making eye contact are both important in flirting, using them together for greater effect makes sense, right? More specifically, making sudden movements while holding eye contact is particularly impactful. A study from Radboud University and Rutgers University found that the combination makes you—and what you say—easier to remember. So, while you’re talking to her and making eye contact, try adding in the occasional sudden motion like moving your hand across the table or turning your head to the side for a quick glance across the room. It’ll help make an impression on the girl you’re flirting with and she’s likely to remember more of your interaction.

Of course, physicality isn’t all there is to flirting. It can help when you’re approaching a girl you’re interested in and enhance the overall experience, but what you say is also a huge part of winning her over. One thing that can get her interested in talking with you is a little banter. It’s especially useful when starting a conversation since it’s immediately intriguing if done right and will draw her in. Be careful though; banter should be witty and have an element of teasing, but should not be crude or mean. That will probably push her away. So don’t take it too far, just keep it light and playful.

“Playful” is really a key word when it comes to flirtation. It should be fun for you and for her, and adding humour into your conversation will help a lot. Everyone has heard it before—girls like guys who can make them laugh. Researchers have conducted studies to prove it and, sure enough, men who make more successful attempts at humour are the ones that women are more likely to be attracted to. When you make a girl laugh, she tends to enjoy the interaction more and sees you as someone who is fun to be around. This in turn makes her want to spend more time with you. And it’s even better when you get to laugh together; it causes unconscious recognition that you’re sharing perspective, which makes the connection between you stronger since people tend to like people they have things in common with. Throw in a bit of self-deprecating humour while you’re at it; not so much that you come off as being insecure, since that isn’t attractive to most girls, but enough that it gives the impression that you don’t take yourself too seriously. If it makes her laugh, you’re doing well.

Complimenting her is another way to let her know that you like her and will make her feel good. It seems like an obvious thing to do, but there are ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s when it comes to complimenting a girl. Try to avoid clichés like telling her that she has beautiful eyes or a nice smile. It may be true, but it’s unoriginal and so general that it can come off as insincere. Instead, take the time to notice details about her and really listen to what she’s saying before rushing into a compliment so you can mention something more specific. Tell her that the way her nose crinkles when she laughs is cute, or that you like how passionate she sounds about the topic she’s been talking about. Straying from the typical and making the compliment unique to her makes it clear that you’re paying attention to her, and that’s incredible important. Keep in mind that some girls can be a little uncomfortable about accepting compliments, though. If that’s the case, don’t push it and try to convince her it’s true; just leave it and move on.

Last, but definitely not least, be yourself and be genuine. It’s flirting advice that has been repeated so often that it shouldn’t have to be mentioned, but it does. So many people become intimidated by the girl they like and are so focused on impressing her that they forget themselves and decide to be what they think the girl will like. They’ll see through it; when you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, the girl you’re talking to will either sense it right away or, if you start dating, she’ll find out down the road. It’s best to just be you. And let her see different parts of your personality; if you’re funny, passionate, ambitious, intellectual, athletic, creative… let it show. When you talk about yourself, vary the topics. Women like a range of different qualities in a partner, so don’t hesitate to let her see that you’re complex. The more she sees, the more there is for her to potentially like.

Not every girl likes the same things while flirting; everyone is unique and has their own preferences. But in general, the suggestions outlined here will help you to be more successful in approaching girls you’re interested in and showing them that you’re a good potential date. Pay attention to how she responds and make tweaks to your behaviour accordingly. Make her smile, make her laugh, let her know that you’re interested in her and what she has to say through your body language, compliments, and conversation. Make a good impression and do it while being yourself. At that point, you’ve done all you can—the rest is up to her.

How to Tell if you’re in a Psychologically Abusive Relationship

Let’s begin by defining ABUSE.  If I ask you to tell me which are the first thoughts that come to your mind when thinking about abuse, images related to explicit violence will probably be the first ones to emerge. Well, that wouldn’t be wrong but here we’re talking about something much more complex.

To help us understand, this is a definition of abuse that I put together to make it as simple and short as possible:

WHAT IS ABUSE? an ongoing behavior from one person to subjugate another person by using aggressive strategies. What did I just said?

I’ll explain a little further.

Think for a moment of any strategy game you like: Age of Empires, Warcraft, Monopoly (I know, that depends on your age, right?)

In these games, everything is about HOW!  How you plan to conquer your goal, how you put that into practice, how soon, how often, for how long.

Well, that is what a strategy is about.  And when talking about relationships, and specifically about abusive relationships, what makes them different is how they develop.

The abuser has a specific goal: to take away a partners FREEDOM and LIBERTY.  Without those, she or he has total power and control over the partner’s life.

NO FREEDOM AND NO LIBERTY FOR YOU.  MORE CONTROL AND MORE POWER FOR HIM/HER.

In other words, DO WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO AND DO IN THE WAY I WANT YOU TO DO IT!

Now, I think that the best wat to introduce you to this topic is through several questions. So, here is my list of FAQs.

Is physical abuse the same that psychological abuse?

The answer is NO.  First of all, let me point this out: physical abuse always includes psychological abuse as a side effect but not the other way around.  A man or a woman person subjected to domestic violence will certainly have his body integrity affected as well as emotional traumas. But, someone who is being psychologically abused might have or have not visible mark.  The difference, then, is in the nature of the action.

So, you can be in a psychological abusive relationship (I’ll call it P.A.R. from now on) without any sign of physical mistreatment.  No body pain, no injuries, no pushes, no bruises at all.

Does it make it less serious than the other?

NO!  Both of them are painful, unhealthy and they can leave long time residual effects and traumas on the victim. Mental and emotional abuse is as harmful and noxious as physical violence and, sometimes, it can even be worse.

How do I know if I’m in a psychological abusive relationship?

It’s usually easier to recognize a situation when you’re an observer.  Imagine for one moment that you are locked in a cage.  You don’t feel good nor comfortable.  You feel sad and you want to escape but you don’t know how.  So, you begin to look carefully at your cage.  You try to find flaws and imperfections.  You think of a way out.  You turn around many times to see if there is a new alternative that you didn’t see before.  You can spend 5 hours and thinking and forcing the cage and you’ll probably get the same ideas that in the first 5 minutes and you’ll be more tired and stressed.   So, it will get harder to have new ideas or make a good decision by that time.

But, if you’re outside the box and it’s a friend of yours who is locked, you’ll will have a completely different point of sight.  You’ll be capable of contemplate the whole picture: the measures of the cage, the inclination, the materials outside, all the possible obstacles when trying to escape, your friends height and weight and you can even help with any tool you find nearby.  Apart from that, you won’t be as worried and nervous as your friend inside.  So, you will be able to think clearly.

Get the general idea?  You can recognize you’re in a P.A.R. as soon as it begins or you can realize about it long after that.  Or…you can have the feeling that something is wrong but not be sure about exactly what is wrong until someone tells you’re in a P.A.R.

It’s usually the people outside the P.A.R. that is capable of realizing the gravity of the situation and they’ll probably help you to find some ways out and the amount of potential and value that you have.

The more involved and the longer you’re in a P.A.R., the more confusing and the hardest it will be for you to find a way out.  But not impossible at all!  Ever!!

Can this kind of abuse happen to anyone?

YES.  Psychological abuse is not a question of intelligence, education or economical socioeconomic status.  It can happen to anyone but, the key point here is: TOLERANCE AND TIME.

Want me to explain a little bit more?

You’re going out with a girl and everything seems to be going on wheels.  A few days later after you first date, she texts you and aggressive message asking why are you online and who are you chatting with?   You talk to her, say that you don’t like that kind of reactions and everything seems to be alright and understood.  A week after that, you’re out having some dinner and she suddenly gets furious and claims that a girl next table is staring at you.  So, it’s obvious to her that you were provoking that woman sitting over there.  Dinner is spoiled and your whole night too.  Maybe you forget about that night and agree to give another try.  Now, this time, the situation has a twist.  She’s not jealous.  But, when you’re sharing a tender moment, she begins talking about her ex-boyfriend and how strong and intelligent and handsome he was.    Romantic environment is gone in the blink of an eye.

And that means: GAME OVER!  Enough for you.

Now try to think the exactly same situation but, this time, when the romantic environment is gone, you feel frustrated, you both have a fight, she asks you to forgive her and you finally do so.  Time goes by and similar conflictive situations happen over and over again.  You wait, you forgive, you expect her to be different, you put up with it.

So, which is the main difference among those examples?  HOW LONG AND HOW MUCH YOU TOLERATE. That is what differentiate a healthy or unhealthy way of dealing with a toxic relationship.

Am I susceptible of being involved in a P.A.R.?

As I mentioned before, anyone can meet and start dating an abusive partner.  If you are capable of quickly detecting warning alarms and set limits, you’ll be fine and out of trouble soon enough.

But that depends a lot on several aspects of your personality:  VULNERABILITY, DEPENDENCE, GUILT LEVEL, FRUSTRATION TOLERANCE and so on.  To sum up: LOW SELF-ESTEEM men and women are more vulnerable to get involved and maintain this kind of relationships.

Can I recognize an abusive person at first sight?

PROBABLY NOT.   Abusive persons are not always evidently aggressive or show themselves in public the same way they do when being with their partners. They are usually far from being crazy or violent and they can even have a charming personality that makes everyone around fall in love with them.  When meeting someone like that, you’ll feel the same way.  However, they are not perfect and little signs of alarm start appearing very soon.

IMPORTANT! Usually, abusive relationships begin with small things, with time and confidence, they escalate and turn into bigger ones.  So, basically, abuse can also be extremely subtle.

How should I feel if I’m involved in a P.A.R.?

When you’re in a healthy relationship, happiness is the prevailing feeling.  Maybe not all the time, but most of it.

When you’re in a P.A.R, the prevailing emotions are CONFUSSION, ANGUISH, SADNESS, FEAR, ANXIETY, NERVOUSNESS.  You can have still experience some good moments but they will be much less than the negatives ones.  The relationship can affects other aspects of your daily life and you can even get depressed and don’t be able to find any sense in waking up or living.

Are there any usual behaviors or statements to recognize a P.A.R.?

YES. Here are just some (not all!) of the most frequent habits and statements used by an abuser.

  • MANIPULATION

There are so many ways to manipulate but, in an abusive relationship, they will all have one purpose: to make you feel insecure and, therefore, to make you do what she/he wants you to do.

  • Your partner constantly tells you about the horde of people who are attracted to her/him.
  • Another typical situation is that he tells you he’s going to call you today at 6 pm. It’s 6 pm, 6.30, 7, 8, 9 and know nothing about her/him.  You send a text but there’s no answer back.  When you finally get to talk, she/he plays mysterious.

What do you think happened?  She / He did that on purpose to have you thinking about that all the time and to make you imagine all the possibilities why she/he is not calling you.

  • Verbal manipulation has a central role in this kind of relationships. As we all know, the meaning of a sentence is given not only by the words used, but also by the tone of voice, the emphasis and the gestures that come with it.

Listen to the difference in this sentence:

“I can’t concentrate at work because of you” (I’m thinking about you, I’m in love with you?

““I can’t concentrate at work because of you” (you’re driving me mad, you’re responsible if I make a mistake in my job)

Do you see?  The words are exactly the same but the meaning of the sentence is totally different.  The first one intends to make you happy and the second one tries to make you feel guilty and sad.  The last one is manipulative.

The problem with all of this is that, over time, confusion arises and you can begin doubting about yourself and have trouble at differentiating if what he/she tells you is right or wrong.

  • INTIMIDATION

This is the best to create dependency because intimidation causes fear.  And fear causes submission.  So, if you begin feeling threatened by your couple, you should be careful because that means the relationship is coming to another new (and dangerous) level.

Some usual statements:

  • We do what I say we do
  • You don’t know what can happen to you if you do that…
  • I’ll kill myself if you leave me
  • You can’t leave me alone
  • I’m doing this for your own good
  • You’re misunderstanding everything!

 

  • JEALOUSY

The lack of trust in you and the possibility of you being unfaithful are always there, even if it’s her/him who behaves suspiciously or lies.

Some usual statements:

  • Why is that girl/guy looking at you?
  • What have you done to provoke her/him?
  • You’re dressed like a whore
  • Stop seducing everyone
  • You should wear less provocative clothes

 

  • HUMILIATION AND DEPRECIATION

This is one of the worst things about abusive relationships because it points straightly to your self-esteem.  If the person who is supposed to love you more keeps telling you how little you’re worth, you’ll probably end up believing that sooner or later.  And, once you have such a low concept of yourself, you’ll feel too weak and fragile to stand strong and defend your beliefs:

Some examples of daily life humiliation are:

  • She / He calls you names and say hurtful things
  • Your partner constantly criticizes what you do, emphasizes your “mistakes”, and makes you feel useless and worthless
  • She / He depreciate you in front of other

Some usual statements:

  • You’re so stupid!
  • You’re nothing without me
  • You can’t’ think by yourself
  • You embarrass me
  • Shut up. What do you know about that?!
  • You’re such a disappointment
  • What makes you think you know?
  • Don’t pay attention to him/her
  • He / She’s kind of slow/ too dramatic / too sensitive
  • At least I have a serious job

This can lead you to become too confuse to distinguish what is right or wrong.  You’ll probably be mistaken anyway according to your partner’s point of view!

  • CONTROL 24/7

Your partner tries to be in control of your whole life.  This is probably happening in a progressive way, beginning with small and apparently inoffensive questions until you’re supposed to ask for permission or have his/her approval before doing anything.

Remember that control can even get private things like managing your finances, telling what to do with your money or how to spend it.

Some usual sentences:

  • Where have you been all this long?
  • Has anyone called you?
  • Why didn’t you ask me before taking that decision?
  • You should ask me first
  • Send me a photo of where you are
  • Why did you buy that?
  • You should ask me before spending your money

You’re the guilty one!

You become responsible for all of your partners failures, mistakes and, basically, anything that goes wrong, whether you’re there or not.  You are accused of things that are out of your control and you’ll be guilty for his changes of mood of everyday problems.

  • You made me do it
  • You make me angry
  • I didn’t get the promotion because of you

You’re better alone!

Family, friends and, of course, a therapist become new enemies to your pal.  People that surrounds you will listen to you, give you advice and they’ll certainly try to protect you and make you feel strong enough to leave your partner. He or she may try to cut you off from social supports, accusing the people who act as your support network of “causing trouble” in the relationship.

The lonelier you’re, the more you will need her/him.

FRIENDS + FAMILY = MENACE

ISOLATION = MORE POWER FOR THE ABUSER

So, these are only a few examples of what are common behaviors in an abuser but the list is longer and there can be many other different ways of mistreating you.

How to be Funny: 10 Tips to Improve your Sense of Humor


Learning how to be funny and improving your sense of humor can make your entire life much more enjoyable. Life can be fun and entertaining if you know how to let it become such. To become truly happy you must have a sense of humor. For some of us this comes naturally and for others, we might have to work a little to unlock it.

It’s a great tool to turn something bad into something good and people love to be surrounded by someone who can make them laugh. Being funny is something which can help you in every aspect of your life.

From making connections with your peers to getting your crush to like you, having a good sense of humor will always add to your arsenal when socially interacting with someone. We don't all start by being the class clown or the joker, but if you want some tips to improve your sense of humor, try these out:

1. Watch More Stand Up & Comedies

This is as simple as it gets. To increase your sense of humor watch more comedies. You learn more effectively when you immerse yourself in a subject (such as a language). Similarly, you can refine your sense of humor by immersing yourself in humor. Watch standup comedians. Listen to podcasts that amuse you. Read humorous books.

There's a lot of funny out there! If you don’t know where to start, look for something to your taste or start with something popular. Watching stand up and following the jokes can have your rolling out of your seat in no time. The law of attraction will help you increase your sense of humor by filtering out jokes, pickup lines and other metaphors that make people laugh.

You won’t find everything funny because everyone has a different taste. Take the time to experiment.

Once you find something of your liking you will see that the comedians are just talking about ordinary things from our daily life and you can do it too, which leads to our second point.

2. Try To See The Funny Side To Almost Everything

If you really want to develop your humor, then try to take something ordinary and make a joke out of it. There is a hidden joke behind every little event and situation you come across. Looking at situations with a different perspective is a very valuable life skill and will come in handy when learning to be a jokester.

If I get to stressed out about a situation I eventually just burst out into laughter and start making fun of it. I know, I know... it seems a little weird. This causes my mood to do an instant 180 and influences others around me to do the same. 

Go ahead and try it. Try to analyze those simple objects around you. You will start to find out that almost everything you see in daily life has a funny side to it.

3. Learn Some Very Simple Jokes

In the beginning, you don't have to be creative. Just go out and do some research! The internet is full of great resources for jokes, humor, puns, funny pictures, stand-up, etc. Try searching for stuff that you like and add funny, joke, or comedy to the end of your search. You will find millions of things to make your laugh.

You can learn these jokes and try them out in your life whenever they fit. the trick is if the people in front of whom you are using the joke if they have not heard the joke then you are funny to them and if they have heard it then it is a reference to that, either way, it is going to make them laugh. ​

Everybody likes to stay around people who makes them laugh because it feels good.

4. Hang Out & Observe Other Funny People

We have all got some friends that we find funny. Go ahead and spend some time with them and learn what they are doing to be funny and how they do it. Hanging out with other funny people will surely rub off on you.

What better way to grow your sense of humor then surround yourself with funny people. Pay close attention and don’t be afraid to contribute. Every little laugh counts. In fact, just a couple genuine laughs a day can help you live longer, enhance your life quality and improve your perspective.

5. If Someone Doesn’t Laugh, Don’t Give Up

All comics will face criticism on a regular basis. The thing about jokes and your sense of humor you have to understand is that everyone won’t always get it. In fact, there will probably be a moment where you finish a joke and hear crickets chirp.

Don't give up at these moments and just know everyone faces these moments. Sometimes you might have to sneak away from the group or party and take a breather for a couple seconds. On the flip side of humour is embarrassment, and if you're the butt of a joke, eventually it'l be difficult to laugh it off.

Even Chandler (from Friends) had moments when he would crack a joke and everyone would stare at him like 'Dude, that's not funny!!' But does he give up? No, and neither should you. Keep trying and coming up with better material to make your audience laugh whether it is on a stage or just among friends.

Be clear when someone hurts your feelings with a joke and then forgive them to completely move on. Developing a sense of humor is much easier when you can forgive people.

6. Don’t Overdo It & Be Careful Not To Offend Others

Knowing your audience is a key point to making them laugh. You can go overboard with your humor and end up offending or upsetting an audience that doesn’t want to hear it.

Try to read and judge how others are reacting to your humor. If you have people falling out of their seats it’s probably a safe bet that you can continue telling jokes.

On the other hand, if they have been quite for a long time or seems offended it is probably better to switch to a different topic, one which you think will relate better to them.

7. Be Witty, Not Silly

Silly humor can be a solid starting point for some audiences, but it can get old quickly. It also might make you look immature (which can be bad at work and in the eyes of some people).

Being witty on the other hand never gets old. If you're looking to get wittier on the fly your goal is to combine spontaneous creativity with ideas that delight. Sarcasm and stale jokes do have a certain funny appeal, but being witty goes beyond that.

The challenge of wit is in its spontaneity. You can hone your wit by regularly quipping with other people. If you know someone who takes being witty as seriously as you do, it might help to enlist them as a type of "witty" sparring partner.

If you're comfortable with it, you can also try your hand at wit in the real world (e.g., dinner parties, the office, the coffee shop, in the elevator, family reunions). Part of this real world exposure is in exposing yourself to the spontaneity that wit requires. If you're new to it, or nervous or reserved about it, you might have trouble speaking up quickly enough to time it properly. But once you get the hang of it, it will take your sense of humor to a whole new level.

8. Stay Positive & Laugh More

This may be the single most important tip on my list. Who laughs at a joke from someone frowning? Not many. If you are letting off unhappy vibes nobody will laugh at your jokes. You won’t even think they’re funny. To really develop a sense of humor you need to laugh more.

Watching a comedy and being around others is great, but if you don’t follow the humor how can you really know what’s funny? If you are happy and laughing you will see that humor will flow naturally through you. You can feel jokes coming up in your gut and then boom you express them. Being nervous and hesitant will kill a good sense of humor.

9. Know the difference between funny and mean

Making fun of someone for things they can't change can come off as really mean. And even though these jokes might make other people laugh, the person who is the target of the joke can grow really self-conscious and in turn their mood off. You don't want to do that.

You can make jokes without being mean. Make jokes about something they can easily change about themselves or you can also make self-deprecating jokes to a certain point and there will always be jokes which have no victims.

Being sarcastic and witty can help you a long way to making people laugh but... always know your audience and when to stop.

10. Practice

My last little bit of advice is practice. Comedy is something where it all comes down to Delivery and Timing. If your delivery and timing are not correct even the most hilarious jokes can fall flat. So how do you improve your delivery and timing? By practice. Keep practicing. Keep telling those jokes. Practice is something you need to enhance any skill.There is a saying in Karate which goes as:

"I am not afraid of the 1000 moves you have practiced once, I am afraid of the 1 move you have practiced 1000 times.

So go ahead and practice those jokes. Find out the optimal delivery and timing which makes laugh and you would be good to go.

Most of the time you can experiment with friends one on one to see how funny you are. You can also try to make yourself laugh by doing things and stopping to analyze what you just did. The more you practice the more comfortable you will become.

Psychology of Long Distance Relationships

The Psychology of Long Distance Relationships

The idea of long distance relationships opens a debate between those who believe it is possible to pull off and those who think it’s just a matter of time until one partner bails out. Looking from a psychological perspective, the possibility of success and the chances of failure are fairly balanced out. Depending on various factors, long distance relationships can function just as well as those in which partners live close to each other. In fact, recent studies have shown that between people with strong emotional connection, the longer the distance is, the better the relationship functions.

However, this depends on how much both sides are dedicated to the common goal of keeping the relationship alive. A few aspects such as commitment, trust and loyalty have a great psychological impact on the success of a relationship. While all three aspects are relevant for geographically close relationships as well, when speaking of long distance relationships things need to be taken to a further level.

The psychological effects of a long distance relationship

The number one reason everyone assumes LDRs will fail is lack of trust in terms of being sure the person will stay loyal to you. This is a common, natural reaction because the first thing that comes to mind when being apart from someone is being replaced. Our thoughts are influenced by high levels of anxiety we feel when we realize that someone else could easily be taking our place. In attempts to protect us from being hurt, our brain tends to highlight all the negative aspects to prepare us for the worst.

This is an inevitable process but that doesn’t mean it cannot be controlled. In nearly every case, one person will at some point feel insecure and unsure of the long distance relationship. This depends on how strong are the foundations of the relationship itself. Couples who have created strong bonds over longer periods of time are less likely to experience these issues than couples who hadn’t been together for that long.

The way around this issue is constant reassurance. It is necessary for both sides to show their interest in maintaining the relationship. The key to building trust in a long distance relationship is keeping your partner up to date with everything that is going on in your life. They themselves are a part of your life which is reason enough to include them in everything else.

Simply letting your partner know about your plans and openly talking to them about your whereabouts will strengthen the trust between you. The way to build intimacy over a long distance is showing your partner bits and pieces of your day by taking photos or short videos. Sharing this will make them feel included in your daily life which will significantly improve the relationship as well as communication. Luckily, today’s technology has made this way too easy for couples all around the world with numbers of communication options such as video chat and voice messages.

No matter how much two people trust each other, when stepping into a long distance relationship, trust becomes a thin ice. If one person is caught in even the smallest, most irrelevant lie, it triggers a series of thoughts and insecurity which will lead to the other person questioning the whole relationship. That is, again, our brain’s self defense system which is a natural reaction that cannot be shut off. No matter how insignificant the lie is, it can shake the whole foundation and cause serious damage to the whole relationship. It is crucial to avoid causing insecurity in any way. In contrary, the key to a successful long distance relationship is confidence. Being confident that you will and you want to spend your life with that person will make them feel confident as well and that alone will solve most of the insecurities caused by the distance.

Studies have shown that staying positive and avoiding negative thoughts almost always leads to positive results. This goes for every aspect of life, not just relationships. So instead of counting the days you’ve been apart, count down how many days are left until you reunite with your partner. Look at things from the bright side, instead of taking each day as one more day without them, think of it as one day closer to seeing them. A positive mindset will leave you stress-free and allow you to enjoy your relationship as well as perform better in other areas of life such as work or college.

A study by Katherine Maguire back in 2007 shows that couples who stay positive and take their long distance as temporary, knowing they will reunite soon in the future, are much happier and less distressed in general. To keep a long distance relationship healthy and satisfying, it is important to constantly show your partner you care and wish to keep them in your life, no matter how difficult the circumstances are.  Surprising them with old school love letters or even a visit here and then will highly improve the quality of the relationship. Understanding the psychology of trust issues will help you stay in a long distance relationship much, much longer.

In many terms, long distance relationships tend to be stronger than geographically close ones. According to a 2013 study by researches from Cornell University and the City University of Hong Kong, people who are apart from their partners tend to idealize them a lot more than those who are constantly surrounded by their presence. Reason being, the distance makes us miss the person we are close with to the point where we often daydream about them.

When daydreaming, our brain wanders around imagining that person just how we want them to be. This often involves lots of exaggeration but studies have confirmed that it has a great impact on the quality of the relationship. Another reason why long distance relationship can be stronger than geographically close ones is better communication. If both people are willing to put in the effort of maintaining the relationship, they will find ways to communicate more effectively and avoid arguing as much as possible.

When reuniting, long distance couples focus on making every second count so they do their best not to waste time arguing. This is something other couples overlook because they have enough time with each other but what they don’t realize is that they are still negatively affecting their relationship.

As much as LDRs can be tiring and mentally draining, they can positively affect our mindset and life in general. As long as the right amount of trust and commitment is present in the relationship from both sides equally, chances of success are highly increased. What will most positively affect the relationship, in the psychological aspect, is knowing that both partners are equally committed and loyal to one another. Staying positive about the distance and knowing it is not forever will help you deal with the situation more easily.

Trying to take your mind off of the fact that you are physically apart from your significant other is very important. You can do this by finding a hobby or a TV show which you both enjoy. Sharing these little things with them will make you feel closer and forget about the distance even for a little bit.

In a 2012 study by University of Denver, researchers followed 870 people in the U.S. who were in long distance relationships. Most of them stated with certainty that they will be dating that person next year as well and that they will eventually marry them. However, after they received a follow-up questionnaire about five months later, one fifth of them had broken up. That shows how confidently people get into long distance relationships without realizing the amount of patience and understanding it requires.

In fact, the hardest thing is maintaining that confidence throughout the relationship. After months of not seeing your partner, chances are you might grow apart. However, those who are committed and ready to do what it takes to keep the relationship working will surely succeed. When in love, people wont allow themselves to see perfection in anyone else other than their chosen one. This mindset is the one that is surely going to make it through the long distance relationship.

To sum up our analysis of the psychological aspects of long distance relationships, it is important to point out three main issues. The issue of trust, the issue of commitment and the issue of the mindset. The issue of trust is an inevitable part of any long distance relationship, especially if the couple hadn’t been together for long. It is important to remember that it takes time to build up trust and only two seconds to destroy it. The issue of commitment is a matter of how much effort you’re willing to put into the relationship. If you wont give it your all, it is not worth it. Last but not least, the issue of the mindset. The mindset is proven to influence your relationship as well your performance at work. These are aspects of life which are a reflection of your thoughts. Positive thoughts will cause positive outcomes and less stress which is the key to a happy life.

How to get rid of toxic people in your life

How to Get Rid of Toxic People in your Life while still loving them

So you are trying to evolve? Carve out your own path? Start a painstaking journey that everybody just won’t understand? At some point in our lives, we all start to wake up to the many good and not so good influences on our decision making and sometimes these are coming from those we love most. Without saying, we love them no matter what, but sometimes we just need some space to figure our S out on our own and make mistakes if we have to. I know for sure that I would not be the woman I am today if I didn’t go against the grain and make some really awesome, yet terrible decisions. The most important step to making a solid decision is knowing for whatever reason, it feels right in your heart.

Some of us are more foggy upstairs than others when it comes to knowing what we want. Maybe we know what we want, but it’s a little more complicated than following a set path to success or finding the right mate. Maybe we need to be okay with the “I’m going through a phase right now” feeling. You know, we’ve all felt the wincing stares. Sometimes you just need to show up to Christmas dinner with a lip ring or hand over your entire paycheck to REI without ever going camping before. It’s these times when you might not get any closer to knowing what you want, but you definitely get closer to knowing what you don’t want and sometimes that’s just as important. The more we practice listening to our own thoughts and feelings, the more we will be able to explore who we are in this very moment, leading us to our better selves.

The first step to being in tune with your own thoughts and feelings is to practice being able to lower the “external chatter.” When I describe external chatter, I am defining it as the positive and negative reinforcements coming from outside ourselves, which in turn help define who we are and what we do. This can be in the form of direct conversations with friends and mentors who help us grow, and it can also be the passive aggressive glance at the dinner table from your boyfriend’s mother when you tell her what you want to do with your life. This external chatter can have an incredible amount of weight on us. I am here to help you navigate through all of this chatter and channel it into productivity, which you can use to your advantage. Let’s go a little deeper and start with learning how to deal with purely negative external chatter. This sounds super easy but it can get a little complicated if it’s coming from someone we love and look up to. So first thing’s first… We’ve accepted that we can’t live to please someone else. Yes? Okay good. And we’ve accepted that we can’t simply lie to whomever we are trying to please and fabricate a life that isn’t true, because holy hell, that’s just too much work. Yes? Great. Oh, and we’ve acknowledged that the life we are trying to live is not hurting anyone? Okay let’s move on, as I’m pretty sure that as long as we aren’t hurting anyone and are acting in good faith as an upstanding citizen, then anyone going against the grain in your life can in fact be put into the category of negative external chatter… just making sure!

So we’ve established that this negative external chatter is coming from someone or someone(s) who has been in a heavy influence in your life and for some reason, they just aren’t accepting your new ways. The first step we need to practice lowering their influence on us is to build your “Aura Shield.” Ah! I am getting the look! If you aren’t cool with the new-agey-hippie-dippy talk, this is fine, we can call it a Negative Energy Shield. The very first moment when we start to talk about what feels right in our heart and we are met with opposing forces, we must first learn to recognize that it is happening. I want you to label this exact feeling with a mental code word. Seriously! I use a word I made up, “zingbo” because this is clearly not a word I use for anything else. I start to mentally repeat this word in my mind, and envision a beautiful glowing forcefield around my body. It slowly gets brighter and stronger as the negative influencer is talking at me until all I feel is happiness and safety. It’s kind of a funny feeling because you are in fact experiencing an inside joke with yourself and no one else knows. If you are thinking I’m nuts, try it yourself. It works in almost any negative situation. Our minds are so powerful and when we are children, we are taught to use our imagination to help us when we are frightened. Why not use our imagination to help build us a positive shield against negative influences?

Warning: this gets tricky when the other person is expecting you to contribute back to the conversation, as this exercise is mentally challenging and quite distracting if you are doing it properly. (It is obviously meant to be distracting!) Am I not being sincere here? What’s the purpose in listening to negativity at all? It is scientifically proven to wear down our immune system and every successful person will tell you that they’ve used this skill in order to achieve their goals. There is no productivity that can come from absorbing negative energy so we must learn to treat it as such. Even if it’s coming from someone we love; we have to learn to recognize that we may have outgrown the need for their advise and their influences may not be coming from a loving and accepting place and that’s okay. We can still love them for who they are, but under no circumstances do we need to listen and be influenced by them. Try this exercise and learn to how to create a shield against someone’s energy when it is draining you. You will be amazed at how much stronger your love for them can be, when you are free from the weight of their influence.

Now that we have learned how to protect ourselves against purely negative external chatter, we have to learn how to identify those who are positive influences. To do this, we can use what I call the “Try-Anything” experiment. I encourage you to spend time with friends and family and tell them that you’ve been thinking about going in a new direction… make something up. If the “something you made up” actually holds significant value to you, see how they react. Who is encouraging you in your self exploration? Who gives you unconditional thumbs up and who is holding you back? If so, what is the reason? Ask yourself if they have your best interest at heart or if they may be hiding behind their own fear in some way. Take some time to figure out how people who love you really feel about you trying something new.

But hang on there, there is a part-two to this exercise; we’ve identified fear. Let me give you an example. One of my favorite television comedies, New Girl on FOX, did a very funny bit about how one of the main characters is in fact a police officer but in order to protect the worries and anxieties of his overprotective mother, he told her that he is a sports radio announcer instead. He dramatized this situation by fabricating an entire radio show just for her. Now, generally this is not a case of negative external chatter, because his own decision making was clearly not influenced by her fear. He wanted to become a cop and he did; we can assume that this was his destiny and he is a fantastic cop, and happily ever after, yada yada, The End. However, imagine if his mother’s love and influence was overpowering him and she was involved in his daily life and helping him make this decision. She would have obviously discouraged his decision to become what he really wanted, and the reason is significantly different here. She of course wanted what was best for him, which in her opinion, was to keep her child safe from harm; but that’s just it. She thought she knew what was best for him. It turned out that because he became a police officer, he met the love of his life and is engaged to be married to her (remember we are talking about a fictional character here but it could happen to us, why not?) This clearly would not have happened if he allowed her fears and anxieties to influence him, even if they were purely out of love. Although he didn’t choose the healthiest way to deal with this situation, he was able to carve his own path and his mother eventually learned to the truth and had to accept his decision.

So the big part-two to the “Try-Anything” exercise is learning to identify the complicated negative influences: fear out of pure love for you, and learning how to confront this directly and authentically with the person involved. It is important to nurture the tension that may be hiding underneath this relationship and although you must treat this as you would treat all other negative external chatter, you must do so without directly dismissing it. This negative influence can be released if understood by both parties involved and is truly, a very flattering form of affection not to be forgotten. The next step here is to understand and appreciate how wonderful it feels to have someone worry about you, yet rise above the chatter and make your own decisions based on what’s best for YOU. If the decision you’ve made feels right in your heart, own it, and your newfound confidence will resonate with those who love you, even if it takes a little time. They will learn to trust your decisions and in the end, respect you more for it. This is an extremely hard thing to do and requires bravery. You may surprise yourself in learning what you are able to accomplish when you are able to stand up for what you feel is right.

Okay, so we are on our way to eliminating negative influences and identifying the positive, uplifting influences in our life. This next bit here is for those who unfortunately do not currently have a lot of positive influences in their life already. This is no good! It takes a village to raise a child, and I believe it also takes a village to raise ourselves. We never stop evolving, and we can always do better; be better. For someone that lives a very isolated life, it is going to be harder to find validation for the wonderful things you are doing. Who is there to tell you that you’ve done a great job on your last quarter? Who is there to tell you you’ve been acting unlike yourself? Who is there to tell you to wake-the-hell-up and realize that guy you’ve been seeing is just no good for you? If you can’t think of anyone who will tell you how it is, purely out of unconditional love for you, it’s time to find some new relationships. Let’s try the exercise I call “Surrounding Yourself With Like Minded Individuals by Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone and Introducing Yourself To New People”!! Chances are, if you enjoy working out, there are many other people at your gym that would love your encouraging company. If you are having a tough time at work, chances are, others are too. Meeting new people is never easy and takes courage, confidence, and a lot of time. If you are young enough to have a roommate, do it, even if you hate the idea; you never know who the universe will bring into your life. If you play a little guitar, there’s no better time to start a band. If you are retired, there are many activity centers in your community that will be able to offer support and friendship. If it’s been like…10 years since high school, but you know that chick you’ve always looked up to recently moved back to your hometown, just call her up. Do it. Stepping outside of your comfort zone often times requires baby steps. Regularly challenge yourself to say hello to someone new and start up a conversation. I’ve personally gone to bars by myself when I moved to a new town, no matter how weird I felt at first. I met some great friends that are no longer a part of my life today, but during that time were sincerely positive influences on my life and provided me with exactly what I needed when my loved ones weren’t able to be there for me. It’s important to realize that everyone, no matter who you are, needs others. Barbra Streisand says it best herself, “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” It’s time to go out there and surround yourself with positively encouraging people and you will be on your way to your best self.