Mindset Matters: Stop making excuses, get your stress under control and start living your happy, peaceful life

Mindset Matters: Stop making excuses, get your stress under control and start living your happy, peaceful life

It’s a very rainy Monday here in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.  And honestly, having an upbeat mindset can be a challenge for me on these gray days!  Being from San Diego, California I am definitely a sunshine person.  Yet, I have learned to make a peaceful living day even if it’s gray.  I’m cuddled up in my bed, the fireplace is on, I have my fuzzy socks on and my kitty is dozing at my feet.  So I say, “let it rain because I feel warm and snuggy & peaceful!”

 

But, what about those days that are emotionally gray?  Are you rushing through life feeling like you are in a gray haze sometimes?  Can you find a way to feel peace and joy on those emotionally gray days? I know, sometimes that gray haze of stress just weighs us down.  Some days it’s all we can do to make it through each day.  I’ve been there! I know what it’s like to spend most of my moments wishing that each part of my day would just hurry up and happen so that I can get home and into bed.

 

THE GOOD NEWS

 

The good news is, you do not have to live that way!  You can get your stress under control and start living each moment as if you don’t want that moment to pass because you are enjoying it so much!

 

You CAN live a happy, peaceful life!

 

Again, I know because I have been there.  Here is the formula I use:

HAPPY DAYS = I embrace them with gratitude!

GRAY DAYS = I stay in each moment and detach from the overall feeling of the day.

And you can do this too!

You can live a peaceful, joy-filled life, in spite of the gray days!

 

BUT, YOU HAVE TO STOP MAKING EXCUSES!

 

Here are some of the top excuses I hear:

 

  • My job is so stressful that I can’t do anything about my stress.
  • My spouse/ partner makes me so unhappy I can’t do anything about my stress.
  • My kids’ schedule is so busy that I can’t do anything about my stress.
  • I am so busy that I can’t do anything about my stress.
  • I have health problems, and I don’t feel good, so I can’t do anything about my stress.

 

Here is what one of my favorite authors, Jack Canfield, has to say about those types of excuses:

  • You are 100% responsible for your life!
  • You can decide to make an excuse and live with your stress and unhappiness.
  • Or, you can adjust your response to life’s events and take responsibility for a different outcome.
  • Event + Response = OUTCOME

 

You are 100% responsible for your life! ~ Jack Canfield

 

On first read, this can sound very harsh. But, I promise you it’s not.  I’m not saying that very hard, challenging things don’t have an effect on us as human beings. I’m not saying that your job isn’t stressful, that your relationship isn’t hurting or that your kids’ schedules are not overwhelming. What I am saying is that through taking responsibility for yourself – how you think, how you care for yourself, what choices you make, HOW YOU RESPOND to life’s challenging events – you absolutely can have a peaceful, joy-filled life, irrespective of your circumstances!

At this point you may be asking: But, how do I do that Jen?

You need to figure that out for yourself, or even better, with a coach, friend or therapist!  It’s about YOU taking responsibility for YOU!  But, here are a few examples to go along with the “excuses” I mentioned above:

Excuse 1: “My job is so stressful…”

  • First, make a list of the things you like about your job.
    • Write out and say why you are grateful for these things.
  • Second, make a list of the things that are stressful about your job.
    • Problem-solve to find ways to alleviate the stress. Bring in a trusted friend, family member, coach or therapist to help you with this if you need.
  • If you just cannot find a way to solve the problems look for another job or way of making money – i.e. entrepreneurship, an online business, even driving for Uber.

 

Excuse 2: “My spouse/ partner makes me so unhappy…”

  • First, realize that you cannot control another person. You can only control yourself.
  • Second, work on yourself and your own happiness. You may be pleasantly surprised that when you change your way of being, your spouse starts to change as well.
  • Third, seek counseling!
  • Fourth, figure out what each of you needs in the relationship and then start filling those needs for your partner. Again, you may be surprised at how your partner will respond by filling your needs.
  • And while doing all of these things, communicate mindfully! Mindful communication makes all the difference.

 

Excuse 3: “My kids’ schedule is so busy…”

  • This one is easy! Give both yourself and your kids a break and unscheduled them!
    • Only allow them one sport or activity at a time.
    • If the travel team is eating your time, have your kids play club sports instead. They will survive!
  • If you are one of those parents who just won’t lessen your kids’ sports and activities, then at the very least, find a carpool.

 

Excuse 4: “I am so busy…”

 

Excuse 5: “I have health problems…”

  • This is definitely one of the more difficult situations. Poor health and chronic pain are very hard to live with. But, it can be done.
  • Know that you will need to live differently than you have in the past.
  • Take exceptionally good care of yourself, both physically and emotionally.
  • Ask for and be open to receiving help.
  • Be mindfully accepting of your new normal.
  • Find gratitude in the little things

 

THE BAD NEWS

The bad news is that if you don’t get your stress under control you are at risk of many stress-related diseases: heart disease; stroke; diabetes ; certain cancers;  thyroid conditions ; the list goes on and on!

BACK TO THE GOOD NEWS

You can take small steps to lower the level of chronic stress in your life.

You do not have to live with chronic stress or the dis-ease it brings.

Changing your mindset and giving up your excuses is the first step!

Stick with me! I have lots of tips, techniques, motivation, inspiration & encouragement for you!

Would you like some of that?

Love & Light Y’all!

Jen

MINDSET MATTERS: Breaking Busy ~ The Art of Stress Management Through Slowing Down

MINDSET MATTERS: Breaking Busy ~ The Art of Stress Management Through Slowing Down

 

I don’t care how busy I am I will always make time for what’s important to me.

~ Kevin Hart

 

My Dear Friends,

I am writing this blog as a letter to you ~ a love letter, if you will allow me to say that ~ because I want you to read it as if I am speaking to you as someone who cares deeply about you.  Because I do! Even if we’ve never met. Because you are a human being, I care deeply about you!  I am worried that you are so busy you are not enjoying life!

I am increasingly having the feeling that society is suffering from an epidemic of being busy!

Now, don’t get me wrong, in general I don’t have a problem with people being busy. But, I’m seeing that Americans in particular are taking the idea of busy to new levels.  As an American, I would like to proudly say that we are a high-achieving people. The problem is that our high-achieving nature is making us ill!

Okay – I know I lost some of you there… but, stick with me.  I’m NOT saying that having high standards of achievement is making us ill. What I AM saying is that breakneck pace at which we go after those high standards of achievement is making us ill.

Additionally, many of my friends and neighbors are achieving high standards of being busy just for the sake of being busy. On this score I want to share three crucial points of wisdom:

  • BUSY is not necessarily PRODUCTIVE!
  • Taking time for SELF-CARE is NOT lazy!
  • Being too busy = STRESS = ILLNESS

I chose the Kevin Hart quote at the top of this post because in it he talks about making time for what is important.  My question for you, my dear, sweet friend, is:

“Are you important?”

 Are you important enough to yourself that you will take time out of your busy schedule for self-nurture???

 

WHO COMES FIRST?

          I wrote an earlier blog for moms Want To Be a Supermom? Take Good Care of Yourself! about how to use the airline analogy of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. The airlines want you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first (in case of emergency) so that you don’t pass out before you can put the oxygen on your children and others who need help. Likewise, if a mom allows herself some self-care, it helps her to be a better mom because she’s not exhausted and stressed-out.

Honestly, this analogy is important for anyone who has a care-taking role for others. Whether you are a teacher, a nurse, a manager, a parent, an adult child who  cares for an elderly parent, etc. etc. you NEED to take care of yourself first!

That does not mean that you are going to the spa or the golf-course every weekend in lieu of taking your kids to baseball or gymnastics.  It means that you CAN take an amount of time that you specify (and perhaps work out with your spouse or partner if need be) for self-care on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis.

Give yourself a little care first and you will be able to give others a lot of care on a regular basis!

 Here’s an exercise for you to try out. Make a list of things you can do for your self-care:

I’ll get you started with ideas

  • Go to yoga and/ or take a walk or leisurely bike ride 1x to 3x per week.
  • Play golf or tennis or engage in another activity with friends 1x per week.
  • Have a “date night” with your spouse 1x week.
  • Have a night out with friends 1x to 2x per month.
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • ___________________________________________________________

Keep the list going!

 

TAKE A DAILY TIME INVENTORY

Another good way to figure out how to break busy is to take a look at how you spend your time. One of the very first sessions I do with my Peaceful Living Wellness coaching clients is to have them write out a detailed list of what they do with their time. I have them complete one list for weekdays and one for weekends.  It helps us figure out how they are spending their time AND if the way they are spending their time is serving them.

Here are some things that I found when I did this exercise myself:

  • I was spending so much time volunteering for my kids’ schools and organizations that it was almost a full-time job! Volunteering is a wonderful thing & it absolutely feeds my soul to help others in that way. But, volunteering so much that I was not taking care of myself or my business was causing a problem!
  • I was spending a lot of time vegging out in front of the television in the morning and in the evening. Vegging out in front of the TV is something that can actually be good for you in small doses. 30 minutes to an hour to give your brain a break is really okay. But, how I was watching the morning news and starting my day with negativity and noise was not a good choice. And for those of you who veg out for several hours in front of the TV every night, it’s really not serving you as well as reading or listening to something enriching, meditating, doing yoga, cuddling with &/ or reading to your kiddos, etc. will.
  • I was allowing myself to fall down the rabbit hole of SOCIAL MEDIA for too many hours. Even though my social media use was often sporadic ~ 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there ~ when I completed my detailed inventory it ended up being a lot of hours over the course of the day and the week! Again, social media is something that can serve us well. For business-owners it’s a must. For others, the social connection is very uplifting. But, when your time spent on social media adds up, when it gives you FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), when it makes you feel bad about yourself because you are comparing your life to the lives of others, or when it is exposing you to the negativity of others, it is NOT serving you well.

What I found for myself, and what my clients find, after doing this exercise, is that there is a lot of time we all waste on things that are not helping to make us happier healthier people!

Use this exercise to help you figure out what you are doing that is NOT contributing to your feeling relaxed and happy.

 

TRY TO DO THIS! NOT THAT!

  • Spend 10 – 15 minutes meditating by cutting 10 – 15 minutes off your social media time.
  • Spend an hour-and-half weekly going to yoga by carpooling for your kids’ soccer, gymnastics, etc. etc.
  • Spend an hour reading (or listening to a good book) by cutting out an hour of TV time.
  • Spend an hour taking a warm, relaxing bath at night by asking your partner to do the dishes and/ or put the kids to bed. Trade off nights with this if need be.

You get the picture! Fill in your own ideas. Once you get going I bet you will find that there are a ton of DO THIS ideas on your list!

 

Go to it Peaceful Living Warriors! Find your inner peace and healthy life by BREAKING BUSY!  I know you can do it! And if you need support in your quest to Break Busy, reach out to me! We can schedule a breakthrough coaching session in which I can support and motivate you! I’m here for you friend.

Love & Light,

Jen

Want more easy, helpful tips on how to break busy? Check out my blog “Are You Addicted to Being Busy?”

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Are you Addicted to being busy?

Are you Addicted to being busy?

Are you Addicted to being busy?

Last week I started talking about how to stay in your peaceful living frame-of-mind when it seems like your world is full of stress and negativity.  Last week’s blog, the first in Finding Cherries series discussed how to use boundaries and mindful communication to bring more peace to any friendship you have with people who are negative. This week, I am talking about how to use boundaries and prioritization to bring more peace into your busy life.

That Stressful Life

Life gets so hectic sometimes – The joy in life can be severely dampened by an overwhelming sense of being busy: too many things to get done, too many people making demands, too much traffic on the road, etc.  I know from experience that there are some strategies that help.

Here are a few to try:

1. Take a moment to step back and look at your to-do list.

Decide if the things on the list really need to get done right now or if they even need to be done at all. Some of this will be prioritizing based upon your values. For example, I have contact with more friends now than ever before – thank you Facebook!

Let’s take holiday cards for example. I get fewer holiday cards than I did in the past. And truthfully, I just don’t send them out either. I stay in touch on a more regular basis AND I just don’t have time to get cards out around the holidays because there are other things I have to do, like the Winter Spectacular at my kids’ school and two Brownie Christmas parties, etc.

2. Prioritize your to-do list and only actually do those things that you must.

Go to work, feed the kids, take care of yourself!… or that have true meaning to you. If you hate to shop, shop online and do grocery pick-up. If you love going out with your friends, go to one or more outings each month.

Everything else, say goodbye to it. You don’t need to do it all! And don’t forget, your kids will be just fine if you miss a game or a dance practice once-a-month to spend time with your friends! And so will your husband! 🙂

3. Stay in the moment.

As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “happiness can be found in every moment.” With this in mind, if you can stay focused on exactly what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, you find that the stress of “everything else” falls away.

So while you’re at the Cub Scout campout, be there and enjoy the fun the kids are having. Don’t worry about what you’re going to serve for your family for dinner for the next week.

4. Plan Ahead

One thing I’ve found that helps me to stay in the moment is to plan ahead. I use a “success schedule” to keep myself aware not only of what I need to do, but also when I need to do it.  

A weekly plan with blocked periods of time truly helps me make sure that I get where I need to get when I need to get there, that I work on the things I need to work on when it’s time to work on them, that I have time with my family and that I have time for myself. The “success schedule” allows me to savor each moment as I’m in it.

5. Find the blessings in the little things.

I was talking to my friend and client one day about Christmas and how her kids don’t act very grateful during the holiday season. But then she told me a story about how one of her sons is required by his school to write in a journal to his parents every week. At one point he wrote to his mom about how he does really understand that the season is not just about getting presents. He talked about how he loves Christmas because he gets to be with family and that he understands the religious parts of the holiday as well. What really touched me was that he wrote this journal entry as a letter to his mom so that she can understand how he is feeling inside. She said that he would never have said those things out loud to her.

What a true blessing that journal entry was! Find the little things that make life special. Try to catch people doing the right thing! And, pay special attention to it when they do.

Do you need to slow down and enjoy life a little more?

What do you need to cut out that is not serving your peaceful living?

Stay tuned for next week’s installment in the Finding Cherries series: How To Stay Peaceful in Our Crazy Mixed-Up World.

Love & Light!

Jen

 

Finding Cherries in a World That Can Seem Like the Pits 1: Those Stressful Friends

Finding Cherries in a World That Can Seem Like the Pits 1: Those Stressful Friends

Finding Cherries in a World That Can Seem Like the Pits 1: Those Stressful Friends

Something that’s really striking my consciousness lately is the question of how to sort the good from the bad. As a stress-management coach people come to me for advice on these things, so it’s sort of natural that these types of questions would cross my path. But what has come to my attention lately are the number of different ways this same theme comes up. Here are some examples:

~ “What do I do about this friend who is always negative? I really like her, but I just don’t want to spend much time with her.”

~ Life is so stressful, I just can’t seem to find time for anything anymore. I used to take long baths and go for walks. Now it’s all a hassle and there’s never enough time to get it all done. How do I learn to enjoy life again?”

~ There is so much horrible stuff going on in the news. I want to stay aware of current events, but I just don’t feel like I can pay attention to the news anymore. How do I remain informed without getting depressed?”

While these questions are all different in that they are talking about very differing phenomena, they are all very similar in their overall context: separating the good from the bad. This really is an age-old question. I’ve heard it brought up in religious and spiritual contexts. I’ve heard it brought up in my graduate political science seminars. I’ve heard it brought up in conversations with friends. And truthfully, in my opinion, there is no one “best practice” answer that can apply to all of the contexts.

There are some strategies that can be tried on for size which can help a person figure out what works best for them. Let’s start our conversation about how to embrace the positive in our lives by talking about friends.

Last month’s blog series covered the importance of making friends and building your tribe. One thing we will find along the way of building our tribe is that sometimes there are people who we really like in a lot of ways, but who also drag us down.  This weeks blog is going to focus on how to mindfully find peace in those friendships.

THOSE TAXING FRIENDS

Most of us have at least one friend who is lovely in many ways, but who is also a Debbie or Douglas Downer. This is the person who always seems to have a proverbial fly in her chardonnay. He sees the glass as half-empty instead of half-full. Of course, this friend is not “all negative” or we wouldn’t be friends with the person. We just wish they would look on the bright side of things more often. So what do we do?

Here are some strategies to try:

~ Lead by example. When things are negative in your own life, set an example by breathing through them to bring yourself inner peace. What you don’t want to do is point out to your friend that you are doing this. Let her just watch you. Don’t give her “helpful” advice about how you are proceeding so well through your difficult time.

~ Set time limits. Let’s just be honest here, no one can be around Negative Ned or Nellie for that long. The problem is that if we set too many time limits the person is going to feel like they are being blown-off. Then you’ll have the problem on your hands that your friend will probably confront you on this. For some, being in a negative space – e.g. negative confrontation – is comfortable, so she will have no problem bringing this up to you. The time limited friends need to be treated with special consideration. Make sure the time you do spend with them is high-quality time. That way your friend won’t feel slighted about the lack of time.

~ Conversely, instead of spending focused one-on-one time with this friend, spread the work around. Try only spending time with her in groups. This then lightens the negativity burden on any one person. If you make sure she’s invited to a lot of things, she won’t feel like she hardly ever gets to see you. Unless this is already your pattern though, don’t shirk spending at least some one-on-one time with her. She’ll figure out what’s going on if she’s used to seeing you alone, but then suddenly only sees you in groups. Also, make sure she still feels good about being with you even if you are in a group. Make sure you pay some special attention to her and treat her like she’s important.

~ Have a mindful conversation with your friend. While this might be the most intimidating of the suggestions, it’s also most likely to be the most fruitful. Mindful conversations proceed with empathy and compassion. Try asking your friend if there is an underlying cause for her outward negativity. If there is, maybe you can help. Or, maybe you can support her in finding the help she needs. Make sure he knows that you are asking because you care and you want to be supportive. Remember, mindful conversations do not criticize in words or tone. Try to use “I” statements. The more empathy you can have the more likely you are to have a fruitful conversation.

Someone recently said to me, “if you can’t complain to your friends, who can you complain to?” My answer to this is, “a coach or therapist.”  That’s not to say that friends cannot, or should not, be there for each other in times of emotional need. It’s just that it’s important to draw boundaries if your friend is overtaxing your friendship. It is perfectly okay to say to your friend, “I love spending time with you, and I am so sorry that you are going through such a hard time, but I feel like you would really benefit from some professional guidance from a coach or therapist.”  If your friend acts offended you can simply explain that you have seen her suffering for quite a while now and want her to feel better. If she’s still offended, and decides not to be your friend anymore, that my just be what needed to happen to give you some peace of mind.

I welcome your questions, comments and stories about your friendships! Feel free to comment away J

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of “Finding Cherries in a World that Seems Like the Pits.” I will be talking about some tips and techniques for finding peace-of-mind in a busy life.

Love & Light,

Jen

The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Dr. Gary Chapman

February is the month of love and romance. I am going to broaden that theme to relationships in general for most of the month. And I cannot point to any one source of advice for happy romantic relationships as helpful as Dr. Gary Chapman’s classic book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (2010).

Dr. Chapman’s book is based on thirty years of counseling couples. From his experience, he developed a practical rubric for understanding the love needs of most individuals who make-up a couple. Instead of looking at the couple as the focal point, he looks at each of the two people as individuals with their own needs. The key to finding what he calls, “love that lasts,” is for each individual to not only understand his or her own self needs, but to also understand the needs of the other person. Dr. Chapman boils these needs down to what he calls, “The Five Love Languages.”

He believes that individuals within a love relationship have five primary love languages that each person needs to have met by his or her partner. More importantly, each individual has one or two love languages that stand out among the five that are particularly important. The key to a long-lasting love is to know the primary love language (or languages) of your partner and to make sure that you are meeting those needs. It is also important to know your own love languages and to ask that your partner meet your needs.  That may sound a little confusing, but it is really just four easy steps:

1. Know your partner’s love language/ languages.
2. Do what you can to fulfill your partner’s love language needs.
3. Know your own love language/ languages.
4. Communicate to your partner what it is/ they are. ~ Remember to use mindful
communication to do this.

See? It’s simple. Yes, it does require mindful, respectful communication, but because there are only five love languages it does not require hours of processing. In fact, once you have had the initial communication about the love languages themselves, it really is more about actions than words.

Dr. Chapman explains this process as, “keeping the love tank full.”  He uses the metaphor of a tank – like a tank of gasoline for a car – to explain how the love languages work within a relationship.  He says that we each have a love tank that needs to be filled in order for us to feel fulfilled in our relationship. But, we do not all take the same kind of fuel in our tanks. The love languages represent the different types of fuel that can fill individuals’ tanks. That is why it is important to fill your partner’s tank with the correct fuel aka love language.  You don’t want to put diesel fuel into a car that takes unleaded. Just like you don’t want to expend energy trying to fill your partners tank with the wrong love language.

The Five Love Languages
What are these Five Love Languages? Let me get right to it:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch

Words of Affirmation
Words of Affirmation come in many forms. But, ALL of the forms are positive.

Compliments, of course, are words of affirmation:
“I am so impressed by how well you handled Joey’s temper tantrum today! Great parenting!”

Gratitude comes in the form of words of affirmation.
“Thank you so much honey for stopping by the store on your way home from work. That
was one less thing for me to do and it really helped me out.”
“I” statements that affirm that your partner gives you positive feelings are words of affirmation:
“I feel so protected when you hug me.”

Words of affirmation, because they are positive in tone, not only help your partner feel good AND appreciated, but they help you feel good too!

Be careful of the backhanded compliment though! These are negatives disguised as positives. Here is an examples:
“I am so grateful that you took out the trash! Now, if only you could remember to do that
every week!”
Notice that while the first sentence is positive, the second sentence is a criticism. If you follow your words of affirmation with a criticism of any kind you have undone your good work.


Quality Time
This one is especially big for couples with children and/or busy careers. We live in a world of busy, busy and lots of technology.  It is very easy to get distracted and not spend quality time with your loved ones.  As a working mom, I also am very aware of how hard it is to find quality time to spend with my husband AND my kids! But, it is very important to carve out a regular time to spend together. And it is important to remember that quality time requires undivided attention – e.g. without electronics!

Quality time requires good communication skills where both parties are talking and listening.  However, it is not a time to vent or argue. The communication that happens during quality time is sharing about your life, thoughts and feelings. It is also about listening with attention and care to your partner’s tales from his or her daily life, thoughts and feelings. Quality time requires being compassionate, caring, attentive and open.

It also requires sharing and compromising when it comes to choosing what you do during your quality time. Most couples do not agree on everything they might have an interest in doing during their quality time. One person may like to spend time outdoors. The other person might prefer going out to a meal. This is where compromise needs to come into play. Perhaps a hike followed by lunch at a nice bistro will meet both needs.  Or, one weekend can be spent kayaking and the next you can go out to a nice dinner. If quality time is not your love language, but it is your partner’s, perhaps go with what he or she wants to do a little more often than what you want to do.

Receiving Gifts
I appreciate how Dr. Chapman describes gifts as, “visual symbols of love.” And the most important point he makes about gifts is that in order to be a visual symbol of love they need to be thoughtful – in other words, they need to be given by taking into consideration the other person’s likes, dislikes, interests and feelings.  

I remember my mother telling a story about a friend of hers who would complain every birthday when her husband sent her a dozen red roses.  I was a teenager at the time and said to my mom, “geeze, a dozen red roses seems pretty nice to me.”  My mom explained that her friend’s husband had his secretary send the roses. Her friend said that the husband rarely remembered her birthday and would forget to say, “happy birthday.” I hear this type of thing a lot now that I’m a coach – people are giving and receiving gifts, but the gifts are not very thoughtful so they don’t hold a lot of meaning for the receiver.

Dr. Chapman also talks about “the gift of self.” He differentiates this from Quality Time in that it is not necessarily just about spending time together. It is about giving your time to your loved one when it matters. He tells a story about a woman who believed her husband loved softball more than he loved her. The husband played softball on the day that she was in labor with their daughter. He showed up for the birth, but then left her alone with the baby to go play softball again. He did not give her the gift of self by being there to share in everything surrounding the birth of their daughter. He also gives the example of couples who spend so much time working they do not engage with their love partners on a regular basis. They may in fact feel like they are working hard to provide for their partner, and the family, but they are not giving the gift of self on a regular basis.

Acts of Service
Acts of Service are the actions you can take to support your partner in helping your life run.  In our house I do the cooking and my husband does the dishes. These are acts of service we do for each other and in support of our family. We worked this out a long time ago because he does not know how to cook and I really dislike doing the dishes.

It takes a lot of work to just get things done in life! The house needs to be cleaned, the cars need to be kept in good repair, and well, the children need to be cleaned and kept in good repair too!   All of the little things that are on the “to do” list of life can add up to a big mountain of stuff to get done. If your partner’s love language is Acts of Service it is very important that you lend a helping hand with the “to do” list. Acts of Service will help calm your partner’s anxiety and overwhelm about the list and will allow him or her to feel secure and loved.

One of the most important points Dr. Chapman makes in this chapter is to remind people to put a boundary up if they feel like the Acts of Service they are performing for their partner are turning them into a doormat. If Acts of Service are not reciprocated with your own love tank being filled you will end-up doing them with resentment instead of love.

On the other side of this coin is if your love language is Acts of Service, do not use guilt or coercion to communicate that you need acts of service to help you feel loved. In other words, do not say things like, “if you loved me you would help out around the house more!” Likewise, do not say, “if you do not help out around the house more, I am leaving!”  Love languages are communicated mindfully. You can try something like, “I feel so loved and supported when you help out with house and kids. Acts of Service is one of my love languages. So thank you for showing your love to me through your help.”  

Physical Touch
Physical touch is one of the strongest, and yet most complicated, of the five love languages.  Because physical touch can be so very negative as well as so very positive in nature it important to be very careful with how you communicate with touch. Dr. Chapman notes how, “a slap in the face is detrimental to any child, but it is devastating to a child whose love language is touch (p. 110).” Likewise, he explains how a, “tender hug shouts love,” to a person whose love language is touch.

The complications of touch deepen when we consider what kind of touch is comfortable to your loved one vs. what kind is not.  If you touch your partner in a way that he or she is not comfortable, that touch will not bring pleasure. In fact, that touch could be emotionally damaging.  Just as is the case with the love languages in general, just because you like a certain kind of touch (just because you have a certain love language) it does not mean that your partner likes that same kind of touch. It is important to communicate with your partner about the type of touch that he or she enjoys and that speaks love.

A Note About Religion
Dr. Chapman is a Baptist pastor and holds a Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Thus, his 5 Love Language book has some Biblical and Christian references in it.  If you are a Christian, then great! Enjoy! If you are not a Christian, and don’t have a desire to read the Christian parts, just skim over them.  I personally am openly spiritual and ecumenical in my theological beliefs. I find some Christian theology to be lovely and very helpful in my life. I find other Christian theology to be harmful and dark. Thus, I take what I like and leave the rest. That is what I suggest for those of you who are not interested in the Christianity within this book.   There is so much quality to this book outside of the Christian elements that I do not recommend skipping the book altogether just because you don’t like that particular element.

Why Read the Book if I Read This Blog?
Okay, I know that might be something I could have left unsaid. You obviously know that there is much more depth in a book than in a blog that is reviewing the book.  But, here are some particular reasons why you should read the entire thing:
There are many real-life examples given in the book that you may be able to apply to your own relationship.
There are, of course, many more details…
I find the exercises at the end of each chapter helpful in applying the details to my own life.
Dr. Chapman provides helpful profiling scales to aid in determining what you love language is/ languages are.
I hope you end your February with some love! The love of a partner ~ the love of good friends ~ the love of family ~ or, most importantly, the love of yourself!

The 5 Love Languages is an imprint of Northfield Publishing, Inc.  Chicago, Ill. 2010

ISBN# 978-0-8024-7315-8


Have you read any of The 5 Love Languages books? What did you think?
Do you have an idea of what your love language is?  What about the love languages of the people in your life?
Your comments and shares are greatly appreciated!

With Love & Light!
Jen

Friendship Blog Part 2: Where to Find Your Support Tribe

Friendship Blog Part 2: Where to Find Your Support Tribe

In my first blog on friendship I talked about how having friends is important for stress-management but for some people the idea of making new friends can be stressful. For some, meeting new people may be easy, but forging long-lasting friendships may be confusing. For others, overcoming social anxiety can be their biggest challenge.

I gave a quick overview of these things in my “How to Create Your Support Tribe” blog last week. This week I am deepening the conversation to give more details about where to find new friends to add to your support tribe!

WHERE TO FIND FRIENDS

This can be a truly perplexing topic for adults. Most of us are no longer in school where we were forced together with a finite group of people to choose from. Some people forge friendships in the work place but in many jobs, more than casual relationships can be problematic. Stay at home parents and those who work from home can have a particularly challenging time meeting people because they are often alone.

Be a Joiner!

Finding a group of people with whom you have something in common is a really good way to make friends. Joining groups also gives you something to do while you are getting to know new people. This is something that introverts find particularly helpful. If you have a book to discuss, it gives you something to say.  If you are hiking or kayaking it gives you something to do while talking. Here are some different ways to find groups to join:

  • Meetup.com: This website has groups with every interest under the sun! And, if you don’t find a group already in your area, you can start one up! If you build it, they will come.

 

  • Book Groups: Go to your local book store and inquire about groups. This is something you can also find on Meetup.com. Start one for kids through the PTA/PTO at your children’s schools if there isn’t one already. Join it with your kids if there is one. Goodreads.com also has online book groups specified for different genres. Pick one or more and create an online community for yourself.

 

  • Politics: Join the political club in your area that matches your political affiliation. Again, these will most likely be like-minded people

 

  • Find a Church, Synagogue or Spiritual Center: This is most challenging of course for those who are not religious. So I will focus on them. There are “fellowships” even for Atheists and Humanists. I personally attend a Unitarian Universalist Fellowships where a rather large part of the congregation is Atheist or Humanist. And while I personally am very spiritual and follow multiple religious teachings, I fit in quite well there. You can also try Unity Churches, Buddhist Sanghas, or Hindu Satsangs. But, if this is just complete anathema to you, then ignore this one.

 

  • Classes & Activities: Classes are another place to meet people who have similar interests to you. Check through your local Community College, Community Parks & Recreation Division, or Adult Education program: they are chock full of classes in everything from advanced physics to dance to photography. If you are into art, see if the local galleries have classes. If you are into music, go to the local music store, I’ve never seen one that doesn’t offer classes.

 

  • Join a Sports Team or Activity Group: Ok, I am not an athlete. I’m a yogini. So for me, going to a local yoga studio is a good way to meet people. I do know a lot of people who join sports teams and make great friends – everything from adult softball to basketball to bowling. I even have some friends in Denver who are in a kickball league! That sounds like so much fun!!! But gyms & yoga/ Pilates studios can also be good places to meet people.

One thing to remember about gyms and yoga/ pilates classes is that individuals can truly stay in their own worlds in both environments. People wear headphones at the gym and silence is encouraged at many yoga studios. So I recommend chatting when you can (maybe the locker room) or going to community gatherings hosted by the gym or studio. Many yoga studios have Kirtan concerts and other community events where talking and even dancing are encouraged.

AN EXTROVERT WITH NO FRIENDS?

Even as an extrovert I have twice found myself in situations where finding friends was extremely challenging. And now that I’m moving from the west coast to the east coast, to a city where I know absolutely no-one, I may be encountering that situation again. That can give even a super extrovert such as myself a bit of anxiety! ACK!

A  School Without Friends:

The first time I found myself friend-challenged, shall we say, was in graduate school. I know, I talk a lot about the stress of graduate school. But that’s because it was sucky!!! And not having friends was a part of why it was so stressful. In many school situations an extrovert can find at least a few friends. But in my graduate program it took me a couple of years to find some people I could truly connect with. My program was highly competitive and the students in my cohort took that competitive nature to heart. I was also feeling very insecure and thus was probably repelling people just with my insecure energy.

Additionally, while I tried to keep in contact with my friends from my home-town. It proved to be really tough to do so. My work schedule, between being a student and a teaching and research assistant, was overwhelming and beyond time-consuming. I also got into a huge fight via email with one of my best friends in my hometown and stopped going home on a regular basis.

A Mom, A Job & A Town With No Friends:

The second situation occurred not much later in life – I call the entire period of my life from 25 to 35 “The Dark Ages!”.Just when I had finally forged some nice friendships in my graduate program and the surrounding community, I got married and we moved several hours away (as did many of my grad-school friends).  I was in my first faculty position teaching at a major university, but I was an adjunct lecturer, as opposed to a tenure-track professor. Thus I was caught in a no-man’s land of sorts; I was part of a department, but most of my colleagues did not see me as such. I wasn’t invited to faculty meetings. I rarely crossed paths with other lecturers. AND, I lived over an hour from campus. So as soon as I was done teaching I would head home in order to beat the Southern California traffic.

Soon after starting my new teaching job I also got pregnant. Now one would think that having a baby would be a great way to make friends. This is true to a certain extent, especially for an extrovert. I met a nice couple in my water aerobics class at the gym and my husband and I met a nice couple in our child birth class (but they lived 40 minutes from us). Yet the area of Southern California in which we lived was a little challenging for us. We found that we didn’t have a lot in common with the people in our community: religious, educational and political differences (and of course, those are the things you don’t want to talk about in polite company, right?). So when I tried joining a couple of mommy groups it was definitely challenging. That said, I did make a couple of friends in those groups, one of whom I’m still very close with today.

Having the baby also furthered my alienation with my colleagues at the university. Most of the women faculty members in the department did not have children. Moreover, children or not, tenure-track faculty members were so dedicated to their jobs that socializing and swapping kid stories was just not on their agenda. Coincidentally, there were women in the mommy groups that had a really hard time understanding why I would work. Being a stay-at-home mom was the only way to be a good mother in their eyes – and yes, they did say this to me!

What to do? Become a joiner!

There I was stuck in-between two worlds: career woman & mommy. And I had very few friends. It was really lonely! So I started to join things. First, because the area in which we were living was a very church-centered community I started church shopping. As a person who supports same-sex marriage, is pro-choice and practices yoga, this can be a challenge! But with the help of my mother I finally found a small Lutheran church with a pastor who is my age and a growing group of young families in the congregation. It was at this church I forged what have become life-long friendships. 

The other thing I did was I started a National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter in my area. This was a lot of work, but it was also fun. I met some amazing young women from the local university. And I forged another life-long friendship with one of the women who worked for the state chapter. Thank goodness for Facebook! I get to keep in touch with all of these wonderful women even though we live miles & miles apart!

Moving Again…

At this point in my life, online groups were just starting to appear, so I didn’t join any Meetups or Yahoo groups. But now, because these online resources are so prevalent, I have used Meetup on several occasions to make new friends. When we moved to San Diego I was all over Meetup! I’ve also learned how to reach out to other women and tell them I think it would be fun to hang out – moms from the school, baseball moms, women I meet through my business, women from church, etc..

Here are a few things I like to say to extend new friendships beyond the “group” setting

  •         I like you! We should have coffee or lunch sometime!
  •         Let’s get the kids together for a play date. Do you guys have time in the next couple of weeks?
  •         We should talk about working together. Let’s have lunch.
  •         Wow, your business is really cool (or what you do is really interesting). Would you like to have coffee or lunch sometime? I’d love to hear more about it!

 

Finally: Be “the starter”:

In my experience, I have found that many people just do not make overtures like the ones mentioned above. Well, maybe in business they do. But not so often in personal life. This may be a regional thing. Southern Californians, in my opinion, are really nice when you get to know them, but they’re not necessarily overtly friendly. If you find yourself in a place where you have a lot of acquaintances, but few friends, you may need to be “the conversation starter.” Use the phrases above, or your own, and reach out to people who you like! The best way to make friends is to be one!

Please leave comments! I would love to hear what you have to say about friendship!

What friendship challenges do you have?

What friendship challenges have you had in the past?

How did you overcome them?

What are your favorite friendship-making conversation starters?

Thanks for reading & commenting!

 

Love, Light & Namaste!

Jen

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