5 Tips for a Juicy, Gorgeous Life

Heather Edwards Life Coach

Heather Edwards Life CoachLet’s face it! You’re bored with the status quo. You’re an adventure-seeker-happiness-freak-self-improvement-junkie.  (No offense intended. I’m one, too!) So, put the needle on the record. Let’s pump up the volume! Here are five tips you can start today to create the life you want…

  1. Shift your routine. The same ole only maintains what you already have.  Mix it up! Stir the pot. If you’re reading this blog, you’re ready for something new. Identify one action that could change the outcome of your day. Decide to get up 30 minutes earlier. Start your day with a journal entry, meditation, or work out. Unplug at a reasonable time. Whatever you choose to enact will change your trajectory.
  2. Embrace one goal that stretches you. See it through.  What area of your life do you most want to transform? Some want to advance their career. Others focus on relationships. Even more want to lose weight. Everyone wants to find their soulmate, if they haven’t already. Identify what you desire most. Decide to do something about it. You have the power to create a revolution in your life.
  3. Heather Edwards Life CoachSwear by the best case scenario. Believe it will happen.  According to metaphysics, the  type of energy we put out, is returned to us. If you’re affecting energy in a negative way then, negativity is what you receive. If you are projecting energy in a positive way, then relish it. It will create positivity around you and help move your life forward. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” -Henry David Thoreau
  4. Silence the mind chatter. Reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.  You are your biggest doubter and own worst critic. You notice more flaws and imperfections in yourself than anyone else. Shift your thoughts to the things you love about yourself. Notice the delicious possibilities for your future. Acknowledge your heart’s desire. 
  5. Abandon comparisons. Relish the goods that are you. There is no one else in the entire universe like you. That’s special. Most people fall into the trap of comparisons. For example, a lawyer might compare herself to a chef. A chef might compare himself to an athlete. An athlete might compare herself to a musician. A musician might compare himself to a doctor. …and all can feel less than worthy. Whatever the comparison, it equals self sabotage. Instead of looking for evidence of your shortcomings, (we all have them) practice gratitude. Imagine how much you would want the things you have now, if you didn’t already have them.

In the words of Fatboy Slim, “We’ve come a long, long way together, through the hard times and the good. I have to celebrate you, baby. I have to praise you like I should.”. Check out the video below for a lil’ pick me up.  Remember to celebrate you everyday!

 

photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by stockimages

The Ripple Effect: Your Power Source

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachAmong the hundreds of people I’ve coached and counseled, there’s a striking and honorable theme. It’s one that prompts people to seek support in becoming their best self.  It’s one that guides behavior, values, and wants. It motivates their reflection, desire for improvement, and a genuine regard for having a positive impact on the greater good.

So let’s give credit where credit is due.  After all, that’s what keeps us going.

The theme I’m referring to is the ripple effect. Regardless of the particulars that bring people to coaching or counseling, clients share a common concern about the imprint they leave on society – their family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, clients.

This collective consciousness about their personal effect on what extends beyond their immediate reach impresses me.  So much so that it inspired my book.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachImagine throwing a stone into a pond.  The impact of that first splash dramatically changes the surface of the water.  The point of contact immediately erupts. The stone sinks. Then, emerging upward is a driving force that defies the laws of gravity.

At first it creates one large ripple which cascades into other smaller ripples, softening as they extend out from the source.  Eventually they subside, homeostasis is achieved, and still water resumes.

That stone effected a broader area than just its entry point.  And so do you. You are the source of a ripple effect. That’s your power.

Whether you swim in a metaphorical pond, puddle, or ocean your imprint reaches further than what you see. – click to tweet!

Take a moment to imagine the ripple effect of any conversation you’ve had recently. Maybe you felt frustrated and annoyed when talking with a coworker. Your words were short and curt. That started a ripple.

You might not have seen it, but the receiver of those words felt it.  She may have carried it home to her daughter, husband, or cat who then passed the negative ripple onto others, random activities, and so on.

On the flip side, maybe you took a moment to take a deep breath, refocus, practice gratitude and instead expressed appreciation to your son, wife, or colleague.  That started a ripple.  What kind of cascade did that create?  That’s where you have immense power to create positive change.

When people feel positive vibes, support, and love they respond in kind.  They let their guard down.  They open up to conversation. They reciprocate the positivity.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachAs an example, what happened the last time you complimented someone on the style of their hair or shoes? You probably received a, “Thank you!” and then a compliment in return.  How nice!  Now everybody feels good. When we feel good we’re more motivated to work, love, and engage.

The ripple effect translates to all areas of your life.  If you’re a boss, what happened the last time you expressed appreciation to your team for their efforts?  You probably felt a renewed sense of ownership and productivity.  You may have noticed better cooperation and teamwork on projects and an overall lift in morale.  If you’re a parent, what happens when you compliment your child?

It’s way too easy to feel bogged down and become consumed by the endless demands of our 21st century lives.  So take a moment to create a positive ripple. Look for reasons to do it.  Observe what happens. You are more powerful than you realize.

 

 

Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by digidreamgrafix, Paul Brentnall, & aopsan

4 Steps to Bump Up Your Life

Heather Edwards, Psychotherapist and CoachWhy is it so difficult, and so important, to know the difference between thoughts and feelings? Sometimes thoughts happen so fast that they go unnoticed.  

Instead, what we experience is a pit in the stomach, a racing heart and mind, or a sense of hopelessness that things will get better.

It’s true that negative emotions seem instantaneous. They’re automatic and natural consequences of events, right?

Wrong!  That’s just not the case!  

Although they can wash over us like a tidal wave, leaving us helplessly drowning in sorrow, fear, or numbnessthere is a choice you can make between stressful events and negative feelings.

Except for those real life fight or flight situations, where your safety or life is in actual danger, or in some post traumatic stress disorder symptoms, there is a thought process sandwiched in the middle. It comes before the overwhelming feelings, and can even be the cause of them!

1. Noticing that elusive thought pattern can change your life as you know it!

It requires slowing down, getting real about your feelings, and retracing the steps that got you where you are emotionally.  Here’s how…Heather Edwards, Psychotherapist and Coach

When you’re feeling angry, identify the situation or event which prompted it.  Then, the belief system attached to that event.

Since events can’t directly cause our feelings, what did you tell yourself about the event that negatively impacted you?

2. Question it.

How well is that belief or thought pattern serving you?  Is it benefiting you? Is it hurting you? Is it energizing you? Or is it inhibiting and alienating you?

When you hold onto idealist views, “should” statements, or perfectionism you keep yourself prisoner of those beliefs. They’re often the source of negative emotions like guilt, regret, and resentment.

Unlock the door to emotional freedom with a careful evaluation of your limiting beliefs.

3. Let go of ego and expectations.

Embrace flexibility, openness, and non-judgement.  Be present now, in the only moment in time you can affect. Focus on letting go of ideas that no longer serve you.  Here, you will find the wiggle room to grow, love, and live.

When I change my thought from, “He shouldn’t have done that!” to “It would be better if he did it a different way.” Or, “I can’t believe that happened, it’s horrible!” to “It’s not what I wanted but I’ll figure this out.” It reduces my emotional reaction significantly.

It reduces my physiological response, too – from a state of alarm including increased heart rate, tightening muscles, and lightheadedness to a generalized feeling of disappointment. It’s much easier to cope with. It keeps my body and mind healthy, and strengthens relationships through more flexibility and less rigidity, more openness and less judgment.

Heather Edwards, Psychotherapist and Coach4. And to boot – on the flip side of the emotional spectrum, when something rockin’ happens to you and you think, “It doesn’t really count ‘cuz I just got lucky.”, change it to “Whoa! I’m so psyched about that. How can I do it again?”.  Don’t rob yourself of positive experiences. Revel in them!

So what beliefs are you holding onto that are harming you? What would life be like without them? Open the door of possibilities and newness. Befriend your errors of judgement and let them go. Or reframe them into productive and supportive beliefs.

 

Notice. Question. Adjust. Reframe. Release. Rejoice.

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Artur84, Master isolated images, & imagerymajestic.

Kung Fu Your Energy – Get Healthy with Open Awareness

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachAs a kid, my sleeping imagination had no limits. My dreams were vibrant, colorful, moving, exciting, emotional, and physical. There were monsters, heroes, allies, and adventures. I could see, taste, touch, smell, and feel the twists and turns of events.  My unconscious mind was free to wander, explore, create, and fantasize.

The governor, censor, parental control, and filter of any sort was non-existent as far as I could tell.  In the morning, the sensations from the intensity of my dreams lingered for a moment, leaving me wondering about the truth of their reality.

Sometimes they scared me.  Sometimes they filled me with joy. Regardless of the theme, their dynamic, flowing, saturated richness left a lasting impression.

And then, KAPOW! Hello, reality. Time for school. That wild imagination was stifled. Even searching for animals and objects in the clouds seemed impossible.  What was happening??

You may have fallen prey to the same trap – even as a full grown adult.  Judgement. Expectations. Insecurity. Fear of failure. Preconceived notions. Ideas about how things should be done dominate. It was no longer about having fun with clouds, or dreaming.

Sure, having structure and frameworks help guide your actions and keep you on course. But what happens when staying the course leaves you stymied, stuck, limited, or confused?

Move with the dynamic interplay of people, circumstances, surroundings, and changing agendas, not against it. Allow room for imagination, change, flexibility, spontaneity, and dreaming. Kung Fu your energy.

Focus on movement, motion, and balance. Here is where you will find the perfect position of readiness. Practice open awareness. Observe your process without commitment to any judgement, expectations, or opinions. Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Embrace your Chi – it’s in your body.  This is the source of your energy and endurance.

The experts in Energy Psychology (the mind-body connection) state that black and white thinking, or all or nothing thinking, creates an impasse in the flowing, changing, expanding experience of the moment. It can stop the flow of emotional energy in your body making it nearly impossible to change unwanted feelings.  It can affect all ares of your life – relationships, physical and mental health, and overall well-being. Spoiler alert – it can be downright threatening to the life you want to live.

Not surprisingly, this chaotic stuck energy can be caused by trauma. But extreme reactions to unmet expectations, judgements, and perfectionism can be connected to this, too. While trauma is typically unavoidable, our opinions and ideas about things are very malleable. Be willing to examine and adjust them.  It allows the body’s flow of energy to continue, freeing our emotional growth, imagination, and coping resources.

Fluid thoughts are healthy thoughts. They are imaginative and open.  They are expansive, explorative, and expressive. There’s no right or wrong, good or bad. They just are. Stop judging your thoughts and feelings. Instead, liberate your creative and tolerant mind. Speak kindly to yourself. Create wiggle room in your psyche through awareness, acceptance, and openness.  Refocus on your breath, your life force.

Release limiting beliefs. Release old messages.  Release ego. Release the inner critic who is masterful at self sabotage. Open your palm wide and unhand negativity, prejudice, and worst case scenarios. Embrace non-judgement. Embrace open awareness.  Embrace you in your entirety…

Back to the dreams and clouds – was that a mermaid, or a unicorn? Who were those heroes and allies? Keep dreaming – this time with your eyes open.

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Stuart Miles & njaj.

3 Ways to Make the Law of Attraction Work for You

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach


Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and CoachYou got the inside scoop on The Secret.

You know that horrible dream where you’re in class and its exam day but you forgot to attend school all semester? You’re in a panic because you’re not prepared!  Well, you might feel panic now as you realize The Secret, on its own, doesn’t work. The universe isn’t manifesting your dreams without a little kick.

The Law of Attraction isn’t enough.

Hello, universe! You practice the Law of Attraction everyday – wishing, meditating, praying.  But you’re intentions haven’t manifested!  Well, it’s not surprising. What the experts didn’t tell you is that the Law of Attraction is only part of the better-life-equation.

There is power in positive thinking.

That’s been proven. It helps to restructure our brain and trigger the flow of feel-good hormones. No one can argue that! A positive mindset helps everything you do.

Neuroscience studies show that it prompts your body to function in ways that keep you healthy. Positive Psychology shows that being engaged in positive ways creates a sense of well-being and happiness. Both are necessary for success.

Awesome, right? But – where is your Corvette, book deal, or beach house??  Why isn’t  the universe delivering your intentions? You have clarity.  You called in very specific requests. But no one’s answering!

1. It takes more than belief – The Law of Attraction requires your engagement.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach

Realistic anticipation. Planning. Action. Flexibility. There will be obstacles and pitfalls. Be ready for them. Troubleshoot. Problem solve. Adapt. Consider what could go wrong. Explore those possibilities and prepare.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward.

2. Stress keeps you moving forward.

Healthy stress keeps us motivated.  When we visualize our future selves with our goals attained, it feels good but it reduces the drive we need to persevere.  It’s necessary to know the details of exactly what you want and how you’ll feel when it’s manifested – but don’t get too comfortable in your future-self-perfect-life-fantasy. Use that uncomfortable edge to keep focused and choose an action everyday to inch closer to your dream.

“A man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” Hunter S. Thompson

3. The feeling is the reward.

Instead of focusing on the desired material, focus on the desired feeling. That thing you want might not bring you the feeling you want.

If you want happiness, focus on experiences and ideas that make you feel good. If love is what you want, focus your energy on gratitude for the loving people in your life and in the world. If freedom is what you want, notice when and with whom you can let your guard down and be yourself, completely. Brainstorm ways to manifest those situations and experiences.

Heather Edwards Psychotherapist and Coach“There is no path to happiness; happiness is the path.” – Buddha

You have to believe to achieve.

The song, “When you wish upon a star” was written for Pinocchio.  Here are a few lyrics, “Makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires, Will come to you…Like a bolt out of the blue. Suddenly, it comes to you. When you wish upon a star, Your dreams come true…”

The sentiment is genuinely heart-warming.  But few can say they’ve received their heart’s desire by simply wishing.  Even Pinocchio earned his dream through acts of bravery, truth, and selflessness.

Now, back to class and the universe.  You’re not going to pass that exam, make Dean’s list, or get into grad school without preparation. That Corvette won’t manifest without realistic planning and actionable steps.  So get ready to actualize your dreams with the power of intention, persistence, and massive action. Go!

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Space by Stuart Miles, Choices by Renjith Krishnan, Countryside by Dan.

Personality Type:  Know Yourself

Personality type has its roots in a psychological theory dating back to the 1920’s. The Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (1875-1961) known for his work on the psyche, ego, personal unconscious, collective unconscious, archetypes, and dream analysis also developed the enduring theory of personality types based on psychological opposites.  Jung and  Sigmund Freud collaborated from about 1907-1909 addressing Freud’s mission of making the unconscious conscious through the practice of psychoanalysis.

Jung’s personality theory explains normal differences between healthy people.  He concluded that these differences in behavior stem from inborn tendencies to use our minds in different ways and can be influenced by culture, family, and the environment. Each of us possesses all six characteristics he defined in his personality theory, but we favor one or the other of each opposite.  His personality typology has been so enduring that it has current practical applications in career, leadership, relationships, and learning today.  So what are the six opposites that in combination define eight different personality types according to Jung?  Furthermore, what is their purpose?  Let’s start with Introversion vs. Extraversion.

Energy:

Where do we get energy?  According to Jung, one aspect of personality called the “attitudes”, are the psychological opposites Introversion and Extraversion.  In Jung’s typology, he believed that individuals gain their energy either from internal reflection and subjective experience (introversion) or from the outside world of people and the environment (extraversion).  These opposites interact with the “functions” of personality in gathering information and making decisions.  Together, they create a dynamic individualized way of experiencing and interacting with the world.

Information:human resources image

How do we gather information?  The four dichotomous “functions” of personality are Sensing vs. Intuition, and Feeling vs. Thinking.  Sensing types tend to focus their attention on concrete information obtained from using all five senses – touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell.  Intuiting types tend to focus their information gathering on the big picture inferred from the five senses.   They tend to abstract information and use imagination and concepts.

Decisions:

How do we make decisions?  Those who prefer Feeling vs. Thinking tend to be compassionate and value driven. They tend to use their energy and information in ways that promote harmony and practice empathy, considering the feelings of others in decision making.   Those who prefer Thinking tend to be analytical and objective in making decisions.  They take a step back from the situation and evaluate the facts.

“The four functions are somewhat like the four points of the compass; they are just as arbitrary and just as indispensable. Nothing prevents our shifting the cardinal points as many degrees as we like in one direction or the other, or giving them different names…but the one thing I must confess: I would not for anything dispense with this compass on my psychological voyages of discovery.”C.G. Jung, Psychological Types

Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers made Jung’s personality theory their life’s work in developing the most widely studied and used assessment of personality type.  It is called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  It is based on Jung’s eight patterns of personality type.  Briggs and Myers added another dimension to the theory to determine which of the opposites are dominant and also extraverted into the environment.  It is the Judging vs. Perceiving function.  It expanded the theory to 16 personality types, all of which explain the way we get energy, gather information, make decisions, and interact with the outside world.

Dealing with the outside world:Man shaking hand

People who prefer Judging tend to be structured, organized and plan ahead.  People who prefer Perceiving are more spontaneous, open ended, and comfortable with last minute changes. These combined with the other “functions” and “attitudes” determine which of the psychological processes is dominant, auxiliary, tertiary, and inferior – or are varying levels of consciousness and unconsciousness, and which is extraverted.  Together, they form the gestalt of the multi-faceted 16 types of personality.

ENTJ is an example of a personality type based on Jung’s theory and the MBTI assessment.  It means the “attitude” is Extraverted, the “functions” are “Intuiting” and “Thinking”, and the way one deals with the outside world is “Judging”. Jung emphasized that one type is not better or worse than another type.  It is different.  Understanding those differences benefits the user in many ways.

In plain terms, according to Isabel Briggs Myers, Introduction to Type, Sixth Edition, an ENTJ tends to be “frank, decisive, assume leadership readily.  Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems.  Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting.  Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas.”  

Knowing your type gives you the information you need to understand the way you interact with others and thus, the way others interact, too.  It sheds light on the best ways to listen, gather, share information, and accomplish your goals.  When enlightened with the knowledge of “what makes you tick”, you also gain insights into what makes others tick.  This is invaluable information across the roles you play at work, home, and in personal development.

Jung’s legacy continues on in corporate environments, marriage therapy, and life coaching – among those seeking to better understand and leverage their personality type. As a Certified MBTI Practitioner, I’ve witnessed the profound personal growth and positive change created through increased self awareness and acceptance discovered through this process.

 

 

“1st Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

“2nd Image courtesy of  David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

“3rd Image courtesy of stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Psychology Today – Got Relationship Blues?

146719-149047(Hint: Stop Criticizing)

Why endless criticism is doomed to failure.
Published on April 4, 2014 by Mark Banschick, M.D. in Psychology Today
 

Look at your relationship.

The problems seem obvious. But, what are the solutions?

Heather Edwards breaks down relationship problems into a digestible form,making it easier for you to do what’s needed to be happier.

The Good Relationship:

Sometimes the key to discovering what works best in a relationship is eliminating what we knowdoesn’t work. There are a number of scientifically proven actions that destroy relationships. John Gottman calls these the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” So let’s start there. 

Criticism:

The first is Criticism. Unless this is constructive with the intent of helping, it’s probably hurtful. In destructive criticism, couples will attack each other’s personality or character in an effort to prove who is right and who is wrong. It leaves both feeling angry and dissatisfied in the long and short run. These statements tend to start with generalizations, and include absolute words like “always” and “never.”

Contempt:

The second is Contempt. In this communication style, one partner will attack by name-calling, mockery, hostility, and negative or aggressive body language and tone of voice. Its intent is to demean and dis-empower the other person’s position and character. There are no happy endings when contempt enters the room.

Defensiveness:

The third is Defensiveness. When one partner feels like a victim, she may deny or make excuses for her behavior. Or, he may cross complain by lodging one of his own complaints in retaliation, or “Yes, but!” the original complaint in refusal of responsibility. It’s a very closed, blaming, andjudgmental way of approaching conflicts. And it doesn’t work.

Stonewalling:

The fourth is Stonewalling. When one partner stonewalls, he has shut down the conversationThe relationship store is closed for business. There is a stony silence, avoidance, and a withdrawal from communication. There may be a belief that the avoidance prevents a bigger blow up, but what it really conveys is icy distance, disconnection and smugness. It actually worsens the problem and sabotages thechance of resolution.

Learning From Happy Couples:

Happy couples have 5 positive interactions to every negative one. Gottman calls this the “Five to One Ratio.” Positive interactions are cultivated everyday in successful marriages. A few examples of easy ways to do this are giving a compliment, showing your appreciation for something big or small, reliving a fun memory, or doing something nice for the other person. The key to the most successful relationships is spending time being together and talking together. Share your ideas, experiences, and dreams with each other.

More sex = more joy. People are 55% more likely to report higher levels of happiness when they have sex two to three times per week. Having sex at least one time per week makes people 44% more likely to report happiness. The happiest couples have sex at least 2 to 3 times per month. The hormones released during sex create stronger bonds, warm fuzzy feelings, and a sense of relaxed satisfaction. What are you waiting for? Make sex a priority in your busy life.

Strong relationships have the Michelangelo Effect:

This means that one partner brings out the best in the other. It creates a sense of esteem and personal satisfaction in actualizing the ideal self. They also share new experiences, celebrate good news, and laugh together. So go for an evening walk, try a new restaurant, explore new places, relive a funny moment, and show enthusiasm for the other person’s accomplishments.

When in disagreement, their arguing style is open, considerate, and empathic. It includes active listening, humor, and affection. They even concede on certain points their partner makes. After all, one person can’t be right all the time! Plus, very few things in life occur “always” or “never”—except, of course, for sunsets and taxes.

Now you have an idea of what empowers relationships, and what destroys them. You may have recognized some of these positive and negative qualities in yours.

Remember that it’s never too late to make things better. If you and your partner are invested in enjoying a happy life together, then start employing some of the tips here—and try to change the negative oneswhen they surface.

_____________________

Everyday is Valentine’s Day

Lake TahoeValentine’s Day is the day of love notes, red roses, and heart shaped chocolates. Romance is awakened and we feel reconnected.  For centuries, it’s celebrated as a day to declare and honor our one true love.

Some love it.  Some hate it.  Some just follow the relationship protocol.  There are those who yearn for a special day of gifts, romance, and kindness. There are those who loathe the “Hallmark Holiday”, deeming it contrived and corporate.  There are those who choose not to rock the “love boat” and dutifully follow tradition.  Whether you love it, hate it, or are apathetic to it, it happens every year – and this year its happening 3 days from now.  What’s one to do?

Imagine removing the pressure of finding the perfect gift or expression of love on that one day each year.  Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a single day of celebration fraught with gift giving, spending money, and the materialization of love.  What if instead, we mindfully loved more generously and openly in our everyday lives and relationships? Everyday.   Stop wasting your time and energy searching for differences, problems, and sources of anxiety – they’re way to easy to find and obsess about!  Shift your focus to what is positive, good, and loving.

Let’s take a moment to consider the ways we celebrate and acknowledge our love and relationships on this not-so-subtle reminder called Valentines Day.  There are pretty predictable ways we conform to social expectations, but as you continue reading, imagine incorporating these ideas into each day. Yes, 365 days per year.

Acts of Kindness –

Whether you’re the gift giving type or the favor offering kind, remember the ways you reached out to your partner when your relationship was new.  What were you eager to do for that person, simply for the sake of making him/her feel good?  How did you express tenderness, infatuation, and desire?  Take time to plan a meal, give a massage, or connect through sharing ideas, dreams, and plans.

“I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame.” – W.B. Yeats

Seek Adventure –

When your relationship was new, everything you did together was adventurous simply because YOU were new to each other.  Some of those activities may have gotten lost in the shuffle of responsibility, boredom,  or routine.  Keep novelty alive!  If you are not new to each other anymore, find activities that are unique.  Get outside your comfort zone, together.  After all, getting to know each other was exciting and challenging when there was uncertainty. Recreate that excitement.

“What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame but something wild to run with.”  – Robert Brault

Greater Intimacy –

Some confuse intimacy with sex.  Although they can be mutually exclusive, they are far better when shaken and stirred together in a loving cocktail of sensuality.  Touch frequently.  Express gratitude.  Speak warm sentiments.  Be vulnerable.  Ask for what you need.  Confide your fears and exert your power (in a loving way, not threatening).  Don’t assume.  Take risks.  Share your innermost self.

“Warm me like sunlight and soothe me like rain. Burn me with passion and steal away the pain.” – Tyler Knott Gregson

If you’re lucky enough to be in a loving relationship, nurture it everyday.  Keep your feet on the ground, your head on your shoulders, and notice the life partner sharing this journey with you.  When you keep that in mind, everyday can be Valentine’s Day!

Psychology Today – Easy Tips for Keeping New Years Resolutions

140772-141776This article is published in Psychology Today by Mark Banschick and Heather Edwards.  It is entitled, “Break Bad Habits”. 

It’s countdown time!  The new year marks a fresh start for new beginnings.   Be prepared on January 1 to state your New Year Resolutions and stick to them! If your plan is to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, save money, or build your career or social network, then get started on developing a system for success that will work for you.

Resolutions without specific plans usually get pushed to the wayside by the demands of everyday life. Come April, they’re already out the window and down the street! Be prepared to keep your New Year Resolutions in 2014 using these simple tips for seeing them through to 2015.

Be specific: Define the details of your goals and make them measurable. For example, if your goal to is lose weight, how much weight do you want to lose? By when? If your goal is to spend less money and start a savings, how much money do you want to save? Set a deadline. Make your goals attainable, but not too easy. Setting goals you CAN achieve will keep you motivated.  Making them too easy isn’t really a challenge. The point is to stretch yourself to a higher level of functioning.

Make your goals personal: Stay true to your values and purpose. Do your goals come from a desire for improvement that are tied to your personal belief system? What is most important to you? The more personally meaningful they are, the more likely you are to stick to them and be successful.

Get a partner: Having a workout or healthy eating partner can help keep you motivated and on track. Design a supportive environment. For example, if you know that junk food and soda are your weakness, remove them from your home and replace them with healthy snacks and seltzer water. Remember, it’s nearly impossible to quit a behavior without replacing it with a new one. Find healthy alternatives. Start a progress chart. Record daily and weekly change. Write an accountability blog which others may be following.  Join a weight loss group or get a trainer.  IMG_6963

Believe in yourself: Your goals have to be important to you. Does it motivate you? Is it a value of yours? Is it a high priority? Do you have a sense of urgency about it? Can you imagine yourself 6 months from now, or a year from now, having succeeded in your goal? What does that look like? How did you get there? Retrace your steps to determine what you did to be successful in your future self. Do you have support?  If you believe you can do it, you will!

Put your goals in writing: Write them down in an “I Statement”. Put them in a visible place. Own them! This will serve as a reminder and motivator every time you see your personal statement. For example, if career development is your goal, “I will find a networking group in my field of interest and join it by February 1. I will seek out courses and sign up for at least one new class or conference in my field of interest by February 1.”. Stick these notes on your refrigerator or on your desk, in a high traffic area in your home or office. Set reminders in your phone. Review your goals regularly.

Replace self sabotaging thoughts with a positive mantra: Be flexible. Remember that failures are only temporary setbacks and great motivators for change. It’s never too late to get back on track. Even if you haven’t met your goal by your deadline, remember this is a process that takes time. Don’t confuse the destiny with the path. The path is meant to be savored, too. Each step you take will get you closer, even if its not exactly on schedule.  Remember, YOU CAN DO IT.

Now you’re ready to ring in the new year with a plan for a new you! Write your goals down. Be specific. Do some soul searching to determine what’s most important to you. Tell your friends. Get a partner. Set reminders. Chart your progress. Be patient. If you need more support, get a Life Coach, Counselor, or expert in the life domain you’re focused on to help you succeed. Happy New Year and New YOU!

Psychology Today – Five Secrets of Highly Successful People

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This article is published in Psychology Today by Mark Banschick and Heather Edwards.  It is entitled, “5 Tips for Success”.

Everyone has a unique life story. Family traditions, religious beliefs, and cultural norms differ and converge in a myriad of ways across people and places.  We embody our personal experiences and take them with us, wherever we go. We use our history as a road map through life. What’s familiar is comfortable and predictable.  The downside is, it can keep us stuck in old patterns that hold us back.

What if you took the road less travelled?  What if you could shed the part of your life story that is holding you back while developing those that propel you forward?  Well, you can!  Recalibrate the GPS.  Follow these five secrets to creating the life you want.

1. Large and In Charge.

You can effect neural firings and change the structure of your brain!  Daniel J. Siegel describes this neuroplasticity of the brain in his book, “Interpersonal Neurobiology”.  By choosing to focus on positive experiences, you can manage and regulate your neural firings.  The more you take in the good, the more naturally your brain will spontaneously notice it unfolding around you.  You can reap the benefits of positivity that otherwise may have been overlooked.  We’ve all heard the saying, “Smell the roses.”.  Rick Hanson also talks about this in his book, “Buddha’s Brain – The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom.”.

Notice when you feel your best, most confident, prolific self. Fully absorb the gratifying feelings that happen in these moments. Look for opportunities to experience successes and accomplishment. Spend a few minutes each day encoding positive feelings. This can gradually improve and change your brain structure over time allowing you to build momentum toward goal fulfillment.

2. Bring on the Love.

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Positive energy breeds positive energy. Laughter is contagious. The best therapy can be a hearty laugh with friends.  Notice your company when you are feeling your best. The more time you spend with positive people in a supportive environment, the better you will feel. Positive relationships are one of the essential elements of well-being in Positive Psychology, according to Martin Seligman. Well-being is proven to be more fulfilling than happiness. It’s comprised of positive emotion (pleasure, ecstasy, comfort, etc), engagement (in an activity or moment), positive relationships, meaning (belonging and serving something larger than yourself), and accomplishment. Spend time with those you love and cherish. Participate in meaningful activities in which you are industrious.

3.  Scared and Alone.

Certain circumstances and challenges seem overwhelming. They take us outside our familiar comfort zone or back to a previous stressful time.  They can create insecurity and threaten our self esteem. Being faced with a seemingly impossible task can stop us in our tracks. Here are a few ways to accept the challenge and assert your new empowered self!

– Jump right in! This is a method that typically results in finding that your worst fears didn’t come true …and were likely exaggerated from the start.

– Take “baby steps” toward your goal and celebrate your progress every step of the way. This will reduce your fear gradually over time with each new successful experience.

– Challenge  automatic negative thoughts by rating their validity on a scale of 1 – 100.  Chances are they are pretty unrealistic and invalid.  Replace them with rational thoughts.

– Mindfully notice your body and breath.  Breathe slowly.  Shift your attention between bodily sensations and the surrounding environment.  In doing so, you can regulate physical reactions that feel like panic.

– Notice the inner child holding onto fear in moments of self doubt.   Soothe him/her.  Use your wisdom to inform and calm that inner part of yourself.

4. Goodbye, Chaos!

New studies in neuroscience show that we are capable of achieving anything we want. The trick to this achievement is truly wanting it and believing you can do it!  We’re born with an amazing brain capable of learning and mastering more than we even understand. It’s not because we can’t achieve it, but because we don’t fully tap into our brain’s potential. Fears and anxieties might convince us that we can’t do math or we aren’t an artistic type. Brain studies demonstrate this to be untrue. Now more than ever, it’s evident that practice DOES make perfect! Tony Buzan talks about this in his book, “The Mind Map Book”. The more time you spend repeating the same exercise or thought pattern, the better you will perform it over time. With practice, you are strengthening the neural pathways responsible for mastering those thought and behavior patterns. So take a painting class or learn a new sport or language! If you believe you can do it, you will.

5. Hello, Dreams and Aspirations!

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”, Mae West.   Make the most of your life!  Imagine it as you want it to be. Notice what gives you energy. Get started on setting clear, achievable goals. If at first your goals seem too lofty, then break them down into smaller ones. Establish daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly targets. Remember that everything is a process. If it’s worthwhile, it probably takes a lot of hard work and a steady dose of time. Practice patience and flexibility with yourself while holding true to taking forward steps.

Begin mindfully acknowledging your extraordinary individual strengths and nurture them.   Notice your most challenging moments as opportunities for growth and empowerment and don’t shy away.  Clarify your strengths, challenges, and life goals. Overcome those old habits that stifle you.  Begin to design your best life.  It’s never too late to start creating the life you want.  In the words of John Cage, “Begin anywhere.”.

Choose the high road, the low road, or the one in the middle.  Just be mindful of what works and what doesn’t.  There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to creating the life YOU want, but through mindfulness you can choose the actions that create positive change for YOU.  Leave fear at the door.  Embrace your future self.  In the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, “Go forth and set the world on fire.”.