A quick scan of books on the ins-and-outs of “relationships” reveals four primary problem areas: money, time, communication and sex. While your romantic relationships may not suffer at all of these points, they most certainly will be challenged by one of them.
Even great relationships have their share of challenges. Often times these challenges are not an indicator of something unresolvable. Rather, they’re a sign that we need to do something to change our perspective on the challenge.
I’m going to cover 4 common relationship challenges and offer ways to reframe them. When we take the time to shift our perspective on what has seemed so difficult in our relationships, we can grow with our significant other and create a stronger partnership.
Challenge #1: Disagreements That Linger
Challenge #2: Different Sex Drives
Challenge #3: Getting the Chores Done
Challenge #4: Lack of Time Together
Whether you’re separated due to work or other reasons, it’s wonderful to have some time to focus on your own needs and not your partner’s needs. The time apart from your mate could be time that you dedicate to friends, family or studying something that interests you. Regardless of how you use it, take the time and give it to yourself!
Every challenge we face in a relationship is a portal of opportunity. Sometimes it just takes looking at it from another perspective to see how we can make it work for us rather than against us.
Change is the only constant in life. Whether you want to change your life, or it happens on its own, change is inevitable. We often shy away from change because we fear the negative outcomes it sometimes brings, or we shy away from the adjustment that comes even with positive outcomes of change. Whatever the nature of our resistance, we’re often unsure of how to work with change – or if we even want to.
It is natural to crave constancy in life. It seems like it would make things easier. The truth is that when we stop changing, we stop growing. And when we cease to grow we lose our mojo. We feel flat and wonder what the meaning of life is, anyway.
To live life to its fullest, we need to learn how to work WITH change – to adapt, flex, and even roll with the punches life throws our way. When we embrace change we get more of what we want from each and every moment.
This week’s article is about how you can work WITH change and not AGAINST it.
Over two years ago, I left my marriage and with it the home I lovingly restored and the consistency I had developed in my relationship and in the rest of my life.
At first, I struggled. But then a curious thing happened. After I got through all the challenging emotions that come with a situation like that, my life opened up before me.
There’s a saying: “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” While this is true, I’d like to put a positive spin on this idea.
Because, in truth, my life opened up before me not simply because things changed, but because I WELCOMED the change.
Of course, there was some part of me that wanted to hold onto how things were “supposed to be.” I’d come to view my life and my future in a particular way and I didn’t want to let go of that vision. There was a part of me that wanted to assign a meaning to my divorce so that I could protect myself from future heartache and loss. Another part of me wanted to play the victim. I can tell you that none of these inclinations were helpful.
Acceptance Really is Your Greatest Ally
We come up with notions about what our life is supposed to be like. I call this the proverbial “white picket fence” syndrome. With “white picket fence” syndrome, we attach our ideas about what will make us happy to a particular thing, person or scenario. For me, this meant being in my relationship for the rest of my life and all that came along with it.
Yet, the more that we cling to this image of what our life should be like, the more we suffer. The fact of the matter is that right now, your life looks exactly as it’s supposed to look. The uncertainty and doubt, the joy and passion, the tedium and boredom – these are all necessary sensations that make up the life you have in front of you. These feelings are, in a sense, information. And you can make a lot of decisions about what you want to do next with the information you have at hand.
When we look at the life we have before us – and not the one we trick ourselves into thinking we have – we’re able to see what truly serves us. This perspective allows us to increase our happiness in infinite ways.
Change Calls for Brave Hearts
Unfortunately, most of us are entranced with the false idea that we’re destined to “have what we want”. We’ve mistakenly come to think of “having what we want” as a guarantee for enduring happiness. Sadly, this is not how things work. “Having what we want” is the net result of an ongoing and evolving effort through which we bring into our lives what works for us and strip away what no longer serves us.
There are times when life throws us a curve ball and we lose something we want or value. It’s easy to clench up in these moments. It’s understandable that we’ll do just about anything to prevent uncomfortable feelings such as loss or grief. When unexpected change or loss occurs, we tend say to things to ourselves like I made a bad choice, I’m never going to do that again, or – worse yet – I’m not meant to have this thing I really want.
But what if you grew your tolerance for difficult emotions? What if you actively built your ability to shift into positive emotions? How might you respond differently to change with these skills at hand?
It’s likely that you’ve noticed that even in the most painful moments of your life you’ve seen glimmers of potential happiness.
When we embrace change we also embrace the trust that we’ll be able to withstand the pains that can come with change. The only constant in life is change. And yes, some of that change will be painful. But if we put courage in our heart, we can move confidently into change with the faith that even the worst of it can be traversed.
Freedom’s Just Another Word for the Ability to Choose
Blame is many people’s favorite way to deal with the loss of what they want. People who blame others feel that if they hold someone else accountable they will somehow retain their sense of power.
However, this is not power, but rather a false sense of control. True power is the ability we have within ourselves to take charge of our own life and our own emotions.
This is the opposite of blame. This is accountability.
A wonderful thing happens when we know that we have the ability to make choices in our life. When we don’t like something – whether it’s momentary or more chronic – we can change it. When we know on a deep level that we have the ability to make a new choice, and change our situation, we feel empowered.
This is why I get so excited about teaching personal development work. Because once people have a sense of their own power and gain the skills to navigate life, their life never looks the same to them again.
Change can feel overwhelming at times and there will be moments that challenge us like we never believed possible. But we can learn to embrace the changes that come our way. When we do this, our hearts, minds, and bodies feel lighter as each day passes. I help people achieve this lightness and empowered state every day through my Personal Breakthrough Intensive. Ready to transform your life? Click here to learn more.
Making a positive impact in the world starts with our everyday actions and with a deep sense of caring for our own lives. Here are 10 simple and profound steps you can take today.
1. Be kind and generous: In every moment of every day it is possible to change someone’s life. Sometimes, it is as simple as just being kind. Whenever you have an opportunity to go the extra mile for someone – take it.
2. Be clear about what does and does not work for you: People cannot work with you if they do not know what you are all about. If you are always compromising yourself, you will not be as effective. Be honest and direct about what you are willing to take part in.
3. Be your full self: Holding back because you think that is what others want is not helpful to anyone. You would not be who you are if it was not needed. Expressing yourself authentically may cause waves at first, but in the end it will surround you with the people and circumstances that truly reflect your inner experience.
4. Let others be their full selves: The same goes for anyone else. If you think others need to be different, you are wrong. Let people be who they really are. If you don’t like it, figure out how to work with it. One of the most generous and healthy things we can do is just let others be themselves.
5. Say thank you: People love to be appreciated. Let them know when you are grateful. When you do, you are more likely to keep receiving these positive things.
6. Look for ways to give back: Don’t lose track of making a contribution. No matter where you find yourself in your life, you can give back in a way that helps others.
7. Tip well and tip often: If you have money — and some might argue that this is true even if you don’t have money — make sure to support the people who Support the things you believe in: Purchase what you want to support. Spend your time doing what you want to support. Talk about the things you want to support. You get the picture?
8. Care for your health: It is hard to be our best selves when we are under the weather or treating our bodies badly. When we are not taking care of our physical self it spills over to the rest of our life and then to the others around us. Conversely, when you care for your body you not only are inspiring example to others, you will have more energy to give back.
9. Really listen: Most people are not listened to enough. Pay attention to them and let them know they are important. When you really listen to others you increase your connection and consequently your appreciation of others.
10. Focus: Know what you want to create and how you can help others. Then do it. Most everything else is a waste of time.
Want more ways to make your life and the world around you change for the better? Write me directly at email@example.com and we can set up a time to talk about what next steps are right for you!
Wow, I am really having a really busy time right now! I am writing this newsletter standing up at my kitchen counter scarfing down tangerines because I haven’t had time for a real meal. I know that I am often talking about balance but sometimes regardless of what you do you still need to sprint at full speed and this is one of those times.
Not only is it the holidays but I am working on a finishing up an new image for my business, making my national network TV debut , and starting my own radio show. In case you have to ask, that is a lot of work! 2014 is going out with a BANG or maybe that is better said with a ZOOM.
What I am really grateful at when I am this busy is how well I am supported. Not just by others but also by myself. It has taken time to put my life together so that I can persist and thrive even when I am in such a busy time!
I know Thanksgiving was two weeks ago but there is never a time where gratitude is unimportant. Today I want to talk about gratitude for support.
This last Thursday I was at the Massachusetts Conference for Women. There were literally thousands of women in attendance and the message I kept hearing as I connected with people is “It is so good to be here because I feel so much support.”. I think most of us were on a high to see so many women stepping up for themselves and for the world and to feel that we are doing it together, each in our own way.
If you have every found yourself thinking that you did something all by yourself, whether you felt proud or lonely, you were wrong. While it is so important to acknowledge our own efforts, the bottom line is that we never succeed without the help of others. NEVER! As a matter of fact, there is really no aspect of our life that is untouched by another person.
That being said it might be helpful to take a moment and think about who is in our corner. Maybe it is time to let them know how grateful you are for their support. Take a few moments this week to go out of your way to notice the support you get from others and acknowledge them for their efforts.
I would like to lead by example:
First, a deep debt of gratitude goes out to my sister and right hand woman. Not only has she helped me advance my business but she is also a continual inspiration to me. I am certain I would not be the person I am today if she were not a part of my life –and I also forget many less appointments which simply cannot be overrated!
My second debt of gratitude is for my friends. It is a blessing to have the phone ring and hear a voice that has been a part of my life for years or even decades. Nothing beats laughing with someone who has seen you through both the good and the bad times.
Clearly that is just barely the beginning of a long list of people who have made my life what it is, made ME possible. As I said things are crazy busy and I am still standing here still writing this, finishing my tangerines. But now I am smiling. I may be busy and at moments stressed but I know I have the ability to face any challenge that comes my way because of my awesome support.
Last week, my husband and I went to an Aimee Mann show. We’ve seen her perform before, and she was as wonderful as ever.
During that show, I had an epiphany about myself, my sacred work, and my business that I wanted to share with you because the questions it raised and answered are truly VITAL to any business owner out there.
If you aren’t familiar with Aimee Mann, she is a musician who has been around for over 20 years now with a successful and long-term career. Her music is deep and soulful and really full of rich content, melodies, and ideas. She has had a few “bigger” hits, but for the most part her work has received a ton of critical acclaim and a consistent following of loyal fans, without making it to the Top 10 on the charts.
At the show, for whatever reason, I started comparing it to what I imagine a Lady Gaga show would be like:
Aimee wasn’t playing in an arena with thousands of seats. Instead, the theatre held about 500 filled seats and I know she sells out to crowds of about 500 every night of her tour. There weren’t flashy light shows, but instead gorgeous stained-glass windows that were lit up in the theatre. Aimee didn’t have back-up singers or dancers or change outfits 10 times throughout the show. She spoke directly to her audience and told pertinent stories about her life. She joked around with her audience. She put on no pretenses and even came out on stage to play a few songs with her opening act before her set, not worrying that this was some kind of showman’s faux pas.
And then I paused. And I looked around the theatre at the fans that were in a trance with the beauty and power of the show. And I realized something so obvious, yet so important:
Aimee Mann isn’t Lady Gaga, and probably doesn’t want to be.
Meaning: her music simply wouldn’t make sense in a huge arena. It would get lost in there. In this more intimate setting, it was much more powerful. And, it didn’t seem Aimee needed to be in front of more folks or having thousands upon thousands of audience members present. It appeared that everyone at that show was there because they absolutely loved her – they were loyal, devoted fans, not passing audience members momentarily getting sucked into big name hits. It was clear she was delivering so much value in that evening, and she loved doing it.
And that realization brought me to an even deeper one: When it comes to my own business, I have a choice about what I want. My choice is to be more like Aimee Mann than Lady Gaga.
My work is deep and powerful and intimate, and right now it fits better in a “theatre” than in a “stadium”. I’m not interested in droves of strangers unfamiliar with me and my work being in the room. I prefer a loyal following of engaged women who really want to do the work and really resonate with my message. I’m interested in long-term relationships with my clients instead of temporary fans, and I am committed to being myself and showing up authentically, without any pretenses, no matter what.
I admit, it’s sometimes easy to get lured into the image of being a larger-than-life superstar, to think I want a flashy business with a million followers. But when I really connect in to my heart and soul and what I want for myself, my work and my personal life, it’s so clear to me that being a “larger-than-life” super-coach guru isn’t my calling. At least not for right now. ☺
That doesn’t mean that I don’t strive to create more or more visibility. Of course I do. But I do it knowing where I fit best, how I serve best, and being in control of how I want my business & life to look instead of an empty longing for a stardom that doesn’t really suit me.
Now, I’m not saying that Aimee Mann is better than Lady Gaga. Not by a long shot.
What I’m saying is that it is so valuable to get clear on who you are and who you want to be, and live by that. If you reach into your heart and find that you truly are a Lady Gaga, then YAY! Strive for that and go for it.
But if you reach into your heart and find that you’re an Aimee Mann or a Madeleine Peyroux or a street performer or anything else – EMBRACE it. Love it. Take joy and pleasure in knowing that you know who you are and set goals that reflect it. Don’t blindly yearn or strive for the biggest or grandest business ever just because you’ve been told that’s what’s best.
Know yourself. Be yourself. Appreciate all the diversity and paths that are available. And take pleasure in who you are.
Joanna Lindenbaum is the founder of Soulful Coaching for busy women. She believes with every fiber in my being that women have the power to transform the world. Because of this, she coaches busy women who are looking to nourish their creativity and take their lives to the next level.
“Relationships are mysterious. We doubt the positive qualities in others, seldom the negative. You will say to your partner: do you really love me? Are you sure you love me? You will ask this a dozen times and drive the person nuts. But you never ask: are you really mad at me? Are you sure you’re angry? When someone is angry, you don’t doubt it for a moment. Yet the reverse should be true. We should doubt the negative in life, and have faith in the positive.” ― Christopher Pike, Remember Me
The holiday season brings up feelings of stress and lack for many of us. I personally find myself thinking about the gifts I cannot afford to buy, the tensions in my family relationships and the things that did not happen in a year drawing to a close.
I came across the above quote today and it spoke to me very strongly and inspired me to try to reframe all that is to come in the next weeks. I am personally committing to being more positive, during this time and end my year the way I hope to begin my new one – with compassion, patience and joy – and I invite you to take the challenge with me.
Lets commit to taking time to pause, to reflect and to focus on the good that we do have, not our places of lack. To focus on what is good and right about our lives and especially our relationships instead of the places where they are painful. To celebrate the end of the year by celebrating the areas of our life where there is abundance, where there has been growth and where we are proud and joyful.
One of the ways I am staying focused on the positive is by taking 10 minutes to write about what I am grateful for from now until the last day of the year. Join me in this exercise and lets end this year on a positive note no matter WHAT comes our way.
Blessings to you in this very special, potent and beautiful time of year!
In the past few years of blogging I’ve written plenty about break ups, the upheaval and uncertainty that can follow in their wake, and I’ve optimistically chimed over and over again, “Things change. Something will happen.” Those phrases are meant to settle some fears and angst about the flux of life, the unexpected, perhaps even the undesirable, and make it at least more acceptable, more manageable, more palatable. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is my sense that, yes, things change and something will happen.
In response to such changes, I’ve previously referred to the Taoist notion of wu-wei, or effortless action. Simply put, when life is likened to a river with all of its rapids, eddies, and currents, I’ve strongly accepted the wisdom in “going with the flow,” and I’ve applied this insight to my life, especially my relationships. However, thanks to a handful of conversations with a handful of people in the past week, I’ve decided to nuance my appreciation of going with the flow, perhaps in multiple arenas of life, but especially in relationships. Because sometimes, and in some situations, going with the flow is just too easy.
As beings who grow, change, and can even voluntarily grow and change, going with the flow is too easy when it simply involves falling back into old habits, relying on old patterns, and reanimating old ways of doing things. If one is not careful, one can interpret “go with the flow” to mean that one not challenge, push, or try at all. In other words, not trying can also be considered as that which comes most naturally, the most effortless action.
If you were born an exemplar of good human behavior and that good behavior comes very easily to you, you’re amazing, go on with that flow, but this post is not for you. If, on the other hand, you are like almost every other person and have gone through any number of difficult, harsh, or even hurtful experiences throughout your life, then there’s a solid chance that you’ve developed defensive habits, patterns, and ways of doing things that were responses to such pain and hurt, stress and struggle. Such defensive mechanisms are often crucially important at various points in our lives and work to protect us when times get tough. Eventually, like the ol’ fight or flight response, we may not even have to think about such knee-jerk responses because they move us so “naturally.”
Unfortunately, when doing what comes most naturally to us amounts to employing these built up defensive mechanisms in situations that don’t pose imminent threats to our survival and well-being, such are the very habits and patterns that can actually hinder our ability to grow in healthier, happier ways. That is to say, when the river gets a bit turbulent, we already know how to fight or take flight; those things come easily to us.
What we might need to do then, perhaps without actually knowing yet how to do it, is resist the tendency to do what comes most naturally, to not go with the flow.
Here’s an example from the abovementioned conversations: Imagine that one encounters a fork in the relationship river where one can either continue working on the relationship or end it. If one repeats after me, “Well, things always change. Something will happen,” then there might be little incentive to work, to stay, to put in effort to continue with what one has right now. In fact, one might be so astute to know that, even in light of such a big change as the end of a relationship, he or she will ultimately be okay and something else will happen. Of course this is true. If you are alive right now and well enough to tell, then you’ve made it through the changes. What a happy thing to do deduce.
But then again, if one is apt to float away, move on, and go with the flow in that sense – if ending a relationship and leaving to go to the next thing is what comes very easily – then maybe this shouldn’t be the preferred option if what one seeks is growth.
To carry on with the river metaphor, maybe there are times when it is appropriate to paddle, to tread, perhaps even to the point of building up new muscles (which always requires some degree of pain and effort but eventually, as one gets stronger, using those muscles gets easier), to fight the current of our defenses. Maybe there are times when it is better for us, and for those with whom we frequently interact, to not go with the flow of what comes most naturally to us. Because some times, some times, if we’re not careful, we can too easily be hurtful, careless jerks to one another.
Learn more about Cori Wong here