Posts

mental-2197585_1920

Neurobiology and the Mind: What Is it really?

Neurobiology is a complex subject, but it s not impossible to understand. If we break it down into basic principles and key factors, it becomes easy to learn. But why learn about neurobiology? Because neurobiology plays an important role in our emotions, thought processes and even intimacy with our partners. To start on the path to understanding neurobiology, we will first visit the topic of the mind.

What Is the Mind?
At its basic form, the mind is what we use to relate to our experiences. The mind is also what regulates our energy and information within our bodies, as well as our relationships. The mind plays a vital role in how we think and memorize things, in our emotions, our awareness and our overall experiences.

The Mind during Every day Processes
If you think about it, our minds are full of personal experiences regarding our thoughts, memories and feelings. The mind also contains the activities that drive our behaviors and actions, including how we interact with our partners.

What Does the Mind Do for Our Daily Lives?
The mind is highly rational. It is influenced greatly by our social interactions and our relationships. Our daily experiences influence how our minds react to, think about and interpret our experiences. It is thought that the mind is self-organizing and that it shapes the flow of energy and information through the body over time. The fact that mental life itself is a self-organizing process that focuses on a relational flow of information and energy shows that our minds are not separate from our bodies or intimate relationships. Instead, the mind learns from them and starts to regulate them accordingly.

Improving Your Mind, Improving Your Intimacy
Once you learn how to control what your mind takes in and how it is organized at a stable rate, you will see a drastic improvement in your body, your thought processes and even your relationships. Things will feel more clear, detailed and in-depth. This improves your mind and health and a healthy mind is stronger for intimacy and stable relationships.

One of the best ways to improve your mind is to think of your brain and body as one singular tool. Promoting integrative communications within your relationships and honoring the differences that each individual brings into your life can help you promote compassion and overall communication with your partner. As a result, you will have more fulfilling, rewarding relationships that integrate kindness and intimacy.

You may not be able to monitor and explore your mind in front of you, but by understanding it from the inside you will find that you have more rewarding relationships and experiences in your daily life than you have ever had before.

ID-100365606

Relationship Advice 101: Things the Happy Couples Do

You’ve seen them – those couples who can’t get enough of one another and they have been together for decades. What do they know that you don’t? One of the biggest relationship advice requests among couple is how to be more like those couples. Believe it or not, it’s not top secret. In fact, most of the practices of these happy couples you can easily start now – if you can make the effort.

Keep the Dating Life Alive

This doesn’t mean go out and date other people. It means keep the lifestyle of you both dating one another alive. Stay spontaneous, keep up the revealing conversations and share intimate details just like you would when you were dating your partner.

Spend More Time Trying on Each Other’s Shoes

Your spouse has his own point of view and so do you. If you expect for you both to agree 100 percent of the time, you’ll be severely disappointed. When you have a disagreement, still be yourself and make your point. But, take the time to reflect back on that moment and relive it in your partner’s shoes. While some couples try this bit of relationship advice and apply it during the fight, you’ll find better results reflecting back later – not trying to be the other person during your argument.

Read more

shutterstock_130585646

Top Ways to Make a Relationship Work

When you’re in a long-term relationship, there are going to be fights and issues you both have to face. Before you call it off, consider some of these tips for making a relationship work – even when things seem like they don’t.

Put Yourself in the Running
Too many individuals lose their individuality when they enter into long-term relationships. They put their partner first and stop working on themselves. This can lead to disastrous results – especially if you sit stagnant for too long. Instead of ignoring yourself, improve yourself. Consider taking up cooking lessons, reading or just learning a new language to keep yourself on the path for improvement.

Enjoy Quickies
Too many couples assume that spontaneous, quick love making sessions are for when you’re young and first dating. A fast sex session might not have the same bang or romance as a long one, but it helps trigger the chemicals in the brain that give you that “love” feeling. The more you engage these chemicals, the happier and more romantic you’ll be overall.

Never Go to Bed Angry
You have most likely heard this one before and it’s true. Couples should never go to bed angry with one another. Going to bed angry can make you not only have a bad night, but a bad day – only making that fight or problem linger on longer than it needs to.

Relax
If you never have time to relax, you’ll notice your relationship is strained. Couples that relax after work or unwind after a long day have less bickering and pointless fights than couples who don’t take a little time to calm down at the end of the day. Consider setting a “wind down” time each day where you both can relax with one another.

Split Up the Chores
More married women get stuck with the chores around the house than married men. This adds a lot of strain on the relationship when you’re constantly taking on additional chores and your partner isn’t. Considering splitting up the work to make things around the house more even. If your partner doesn’t like it, then cut back on the spending and hire a third party to do the cleaning for you.

Prenuptial Agreements are Back
You may be insulted if someone asks you to sign a prenuptial agreement, but studies show that this relieves a lot of tension in the marriage. When couples know that their partner isn’t with them for any assets or settlements, it ensures everyone is happy emotionally and secure financially.

Get Help
If you notice you and your partner are fighting a lot, consider couples therapy. It isn’t taboo to get a non-bias third party in the mix to help you both sort out your issues. A counselor can help identify any underlying problems that both of you are ignoring and help you get past them s that you can move on to a healthier, happier relationship.

Save

nuclear-2123685_1920

Are Your Friends Toxic for Your Relationship?

We all have them – drama queens, exploiters and pessimist pals. Some are friends you have had since you were a child, others are those you have just encountered but can’t seem to break free from. While some of your friends are beneficial to your life and your relationship, others can be toxic. You know those friends, the ones who are anti-relationships, negative and basically do what they can to make you feel as though being in a relationship is the wrong choice. Naturally you want your friends to approve of your significant other, but if they get in the way of your ability to establish a long-term, healthy relationship, you may want to consider detoxing from these harmful friends.

Valuable Friends versus Toxic Friends

When you’re looking for the answer to what makes relationships work, you may have noticed that happy couples still have their own non-relationship friends – meaning friends that weren’t acquired as part of the relationship. You and your significant other should maintain your old connections and even make new ones. This helps boost your personal identity and is healthy. But, there is a big difference between a valuable friendship and a toxic one. So how do you decide?

  • Do you look forward to seeing your friend?
  • Do you hit the “ignore” button every time they call or jump to answer?
  • Is your friend happy to see you?
  • Every time you get together, does your friend only seem interested in you when they need something from you?
  • Is your friend there for you as much as you are there for him or her?

The bottom line, if you don’t look forward to meeting with your friend or it seems your friend is only interested in you when they need something, it’s likely you have a toxic relationship. Toxic relationships don’t just hinder your own personal life, they can also impact your relationship.

Toxic Friends and Relationships

A toxic friend to a relationship is one that is negative about your relationship or even just relationships in general. This friend doesn’t respect your relationship or the boundaries that come with it. For example, you go out for a night on the town only to find your friend encouraging you to meet up with other men or betray your relationship in some way. If you confide in your friend about any negative issues in your relationship, your toxic friend may automatically dismiss the relationship or consider it a failure. While there are times a friend’s relationship advice is needed and perhaps can shine light on aspects of the relationship that are toxic to you, there are also friends that purposely poison your relationship out of jealousy or simply because they don’t believe in relationships.

You and your partner should re-evaluate your friends at least once a year. Consider a detox of the friends that don’t contribute or even those that are detrimental to your relationship. Of course, make time for those friends that do bring value to your personal and relationship life.

boxing-2627740_1920

Are the Same Old Fights Impacting Your Relationship?

When you and your partner are at odds, do you notice the same old fights come up? You’re upset about the kids, he wants more free time, you feel he doesn’t share his load of the housework and it all boils down to the same old script – just a different day. If you and your spouse are constantly rehashing the same fights, you have one blaring issue: you’re not resolving the problems. Fight topics keep coming up when they aren’t resolved and this can impact your relationship a lot more than you might think. Sex and emotions are tied together as one. The more animosity you both have, the less likely intimacy is at the forefront of your relationship. The good news is you can get past your rehashing and move on to a more healthy and satisfying relationship.

Housework

One of the more common fights among couples is about housework. One may feel they’re doing more than enough while the other feels nothing is being shared. By creating a fair division of the housework you and your spouse can move past this. There is no formula or definition of what is “fair” – it is all about what you and your spouse find to be fair. For example, you want help with the laundry, but he is in charge of all of the yard work. Consider splitting up the task by him helping put laundry away and you start managing the weeding or gardening to help even out the workload.

Money

Let’s face it; money and relationships don’t always mix. Most relationships are based on opposites – you’re attracted to someone opposite of you. Therefore your money management skills and styles may differ. Perhaps you’re the spender, but your partner is the ultimate saver. Rather than try to conform or make your partner become more like you, sit down and look at each other’s point of view. Ask yourself why your partner saves money, but you don’t mind spending it. Perhaps your partner feels your money situation isn’t as secure as you do, but sitting down and discussing these feelings may help you both see eye-to-eye on household finances. Also, consider doing the bills together either bi-weekly or monthly. Make a budget that works for both of you, but doesn’t upset the other.

Intimacy

Sexuality between a couple can often just boil down to your desire versus your partner’s desire. Whether it is you that wants more or him, negative feelings can arise when one partner feels rejected or neglected by the other. Consider sitting down and discussing what you both need out of your relationship. Find out where you are mismatching and if there is a compromise you both can live with. By understanding what each person is feeling, you can work to a viable solution.

Whether your fights are about low sexual desire, money or who does what around the house, rehashing the same fights will get your relationship nowhere. Instead, look out for the common fights and ask yourself why they keep coming up. You might be surprised at how unresolved these simple issues are and how easy they are to solve.

sport-1013999_1920

Creating Work-Life Balance

This is an image that comes to mind for many when balance is mentioned – being on a tight rope with so many things to keep aligned so that you or nothing else falls.  In this post, we will discuss steps to take to view balance as a desirable state that produces a feeling of well-being.

Clarify Your Values – Many decisions are based on what we believe as being important to us.  Determine what you value, both in work and your personal life, by giving it worth, merit or importance.

Set Your Goals – Goals are based on your values and what we hold as important.  Goals should help give you focus.  A goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Make your goal specific and as detailed as possible by answering the six “W” questions – Who? What? Where? When? Which? Why?

Prioritize – By listing your goals on a to-do list in order of importance, you will be able to address the issues that need the most attention.  Consider time constraints, requests from others, and any consequences.  Know that you can always come back to this list to re-prioritize.

Be Flexible – Being flexible is important as priorities can often shift and change due to environment, circumstances or demands from our job, partner, children or friends.  Remaining flexible allows you to more easily reevaluate your values and/or goals.

Take Time For Yourself – Making time for yourself is extremely important because your health and sense of well being will have an effect on you reaching your goals and balancing your work and life.  Gift yourself the time to meditate, exercise, rest, and/or pamper yourself.  Your mind, body, and spirit will thank you for it.

Signs Of Burnout – Burnout can take place when you are under a lot of stress – emotional exhaustion, physical exhaustion, feelings of being overwhelmed, lose of interest or motivation, lack of productivity.  Learn to listen to yourself to really understand when you may be close to burning out and needing to take a break.  The earlier you recognize any of the signs, the better you can prevent and work on the issue.

Ask For Help – Do not be afraid to ask others for help!  Seek advice from your partner, friends, and other family members.

Remember that work life balance is always an on-going process, never a permanent state.  We are constantly making choices and those choices help determine whether or not your life is in balance.  If yours are aligned with what you hold most important and valuable, you will likely feel a sense of balance.

 

couple-168191_1920

Self-Compassion In Relationships

Our relationships with our partners, family and friends often take some effort to maintain as neglecting any aspect of one of our relationships can result in miscommunication, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and resentment.  Many factors go into making a relationship work, including what you do to take care of yourself during high stress moments.  In this article, we are discussing self-compassion and the things that can make a significant difference to you and your partner.

What is self-compassion?

“Compassion is sensitivity to the suffering of self and others and a commitment to do something about it.” – Paul Gilbert

Self-compassion is a state of warm-hearted, connected presence during difficult moments in our lives.  It provides emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to admit our shortcomings, forgive ourselves, motivate ourselves with encouragement, and care for others. Self-compassion is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone.

It is having mindfulness, common humanity and kindness towards oneself.  Mindfulness is holding your own thoughts and feelings rather than suppressing or being carried away by them.  Common humanity is the understanding that your feelings and experiences are not completely unique. No matter how hard we try to avoid or hide them, all of us have our ups and downs, and sometimes the downs include pain, frustration and disappointment.  Being kind to yourself is not only providing comfort in the moment; it is also committing, whenever possible, to reducing future instances of such suffering.

How To Bring Self-Compassion Into Your Relationships  

1. Remind yourself to slow down.  Take notice of when you become irritable or angry when you are with your partner.  Taking notice is the first step to making a change.  Meeting yourself where you are, rather where you think you should be, will help to you to accept the situation, calm yourself, and slow down.

2. Ask yourself how can you and your partner be happy right now.  Enjoy what you want for the fact that you like it or the activity of it.  This will help bring more awareness about yourself and what makes you happy.

3. When you make a mistake, it becomes a great opportunity to express compassion.  Remember that we are all human and we probably will hurt someone, in this case, our partner, or ourselves – it is part of the human experience.  Taking responsibility for the mistake is a great example of using compassion towards yourself along with situation or person that was hurt.

4.  Learn to generate a kind voice in your own head.  Think of something that you do not like about yourself – as if you have a critic.  What is the critic saying and what emotions are rising as you hear them?   Invite and acknowledge all of these feelings and emotions, whatever they are – anger, sadness, fear, resentment, envy.  Try not to judge any of it as they are simply just thoughts and feelings moving through you. It is neither bad nor good, just awareness.  The compassionate self must be built – this is a great awareness exercise for building it up.

As you practice self-compassion, you will likely discover the awareness of being present.  You will feel more freedom to show up as you are and a greater sense of well-being, for yourself and your relationships.  Another wonderful outcome of practicing self-compassion is once you’ve experienced it for yourself, you will have it to share with others and it will flow automatically and effortlessly.

 

Save

quiz-2191229_1280

Relationship Communication Quiz

Here is a true or false relationship communication quiz.  There are no rights or wrongs in the number of true or false answers to this quiz.  Simply look over your responses to get a feel for where communication problems or perceptions exist.  Encourage your partner to take the quiz as well, either together or separately, either way will suffice. Once you both have a tally on where the communication in the relationship stands, refer back to the article on communication in relationships to review some basic communication principles for a healthy dialog between partners.

1. I often cannot seem to find the right words to express what I want to say.
True or False

2. I do not speak up because it tends to only make things worse.
True or False

3. I tend to worry that exposing myself to my partner will result in rejection.
True or False

4. I often do not speak up because I am afraid my opinion is wrong.
True or False

5. I talk too much and do not give my partner a chance to speak.
True or False

6. I do not look forward to my partner speaking.
True or False

7. My speech can often be defensive.
True or False

8. I frequently bring up my partners past failures.
True or False

9. My words do not match my actions.
True or False

10. Once I get started in an argument, I have trouble stopping.
True or False

11. I do not honestly listen.
True or False

12. I try to repay anger with anger or insult with insult.
True or False

13. I tease my partner too much.
True or False

14. I do not spend enough time speaking of really important things.
True or False

15. I often lie by omission.
True or False

16. It irritates me when my partner brings up a problem.
True or False

17. I think that it is important to lay out to my partner all of the complaints I have about them.
True or False

18. I tend to say, “you always” or “you never,” when discussing my complaints with my partner.
True or False

19. I rarely state my complains to keep from hurting my partner.
True or False

20. I state my complaints often in a heated manner.
True or False

21. I do not like to argue because I feel arguing reflects poorly on the relationship.
True or False

22. I do not like to discuss our negative feelings because it only makes us feel worse.
True or False

23. I do not feel I should have to bring up what is bothering me because my partner should already know.
True or False

Again, there are no rights or wrongs in the number of true or false answers to this quiz.  This is just to simple gage where you are currently in your communication process of your relationship.  As with all things, knowing is the first step forward.

digital-art-398342_1920

Enduring Intimacy

When you find that special someone, you feel as though the intimacy could last a lifetime. It is the perfect relationship. You are able to talk effortlessly, you can share your deepest, darkest secrets and you cannot get enough of one another. Once the long haul sets in, that deep connection stays strong, but you may not have the same closeness you did when you first started out.

As with anything in life, a relationship and the intimacy that comes with it takes a lot of work. You have to maintain it, perform annual maintenance and develop intimacy that lasts a lifetime.

Be There, when You are There

There are a lot of distractions in life – cellphones, iPads, computers, games, etc. When you are with your partner, how often are you actually with them? Do you sit and converse or are you multitasking your attention with other things around the house? Take some time out of your day and spend a little of it with your partner. It does not matter how busy you both are, a few minutes a day will make a difference.

Keep Eye Contact

When you stare into the eyes of your partner, you are being intimate. Eye contact is a way to socialize and connect with a person. Keep the eye contact alive during conversations and don not be afraid to make yourself a little vulnerable from time to time.

Show Affection, Physically

When you use physical affection toward one another, you will not only feel great, but you will notice your oxytocin levels increase. This is the feel-good hormone that gives you the “love” effect. It can help increase intimacy and, of course, boost your sex drive.

Listen

If you want to be more intimate with your partner, you need to actually listen and pay attention to what he or she is saying. While this sounds rather easy, a lot of couples seem to forget this over time. You need to block everything out – such as your laundry waiting for you in the dryer or the to-do’s you have at the office. Just tune out your own needs every once in a while and pay attention to your partner. Actively listen to what they’re saying and be attentive.

Be Available

If you are emotionally shut off from the rest of the world, you are holding out on your partner. Your partner needs to know the intimate details. By being available, you are reminding your partner what is special about you, what made him or her fall in love with you and appreciate you. Try to make it a priority to sit down and share the day-to-day activities of your lives together. Consider talking about what is going on at work, what you are hoping to do next weekend and even talk about your dreams and aspirations.

Be Unconditional

Too many couples have conditions to their love. If you expect your partner to change, you will be disappointed when they cannot. Love your partner for who they are – including any downfalls you have found. Your partner needs to know they are accepted for who they are – not what you wish they were.

Save

board-2433978_1920

Taking Care Of Yourself First

Taking care of ourselves before others often sounds selfish, as if we are not as vested in our relationships, rather only in ourselves. However, taking care of yourself first is a crucial step in actually being more vested in your relationships.  When we tend to our own needs, we are able to be more focused on helping others and tending to what they need help with.  Just like the airplane safety videos, demonstrating that applying your own oxygen mask before helping your child or neighbor is important, life is much like this.  If you cannot breathe properly, there is no way that you will be able to successfully help someone else breathe.  If we do not take care of ourselves first, we are likely to be little help to others or our relationships.

We have so many things to tend to daily – from our demanding work schedules, our partner’s schedule and needs, and our children’s school and activities – it’s a miracle we get anything done!  Tending to yourself first benefits all of your relationships and your daily tasks.  Taking good care of yourself provides the foundation upon which everything else builds.

Taking care of our needs prior to others relates to self-compassion.  Self-compassion is when you are aware and honest, with a willingness to be non-judgemental, towards yourself. Tending to your own needs first is a great way to practice self-compassion.  Just like having compassion for yourself helps you to bring compassion to others and your relationships, taking care of yourself prior to others also helps bring care and attentiveness to your partner, children and other relationships.

Self-care is about replenishing ourselves so that we can have enough energy, creativity, love, and joy to spread to others.  By taking care of ourselves first, it allows for us to be the best we can be for our partners, children, friends, co-workers, and community.

Ways To Take Care Of Yourself

Nourishment – Your body works best when it is strong.  When life presents challenges, keeping yourself in physical and emotional well-being is of utmost importance.  This means eating plenty of fresh whole foods, staying hydrated, being physically active, and getting adequate rest.

Relaxation – Often times we view spa visits as a luxury and not necessary.  However, carving out the time to treat yourself to a dedicated method of relaxation – whether it is a massage, facial or even a quick visit to a sauna or a swim – is a great way to take care of yourself and replenish your energy so that you can carry on with your tasks and helping your loved ones.

Meditation –  An effective way to nourish your well-being, meditation helps to reduce the stress in your life and gives you the ability to handle the day with a calm, refreshed attitude. While increasing your energy levels, meditation essentially helps you to connect with your authentic self.  Meditation is simple minded practice, meaning you do not have to do much to participate in it, yet the benefits can affect your entire life in amazing ways, including making it easier for you to be there for others.

After taking time to explore the ways that work best for you to tend to yourself first, you will likely see that you are able to tend to your partner and children’s needs more effectively.