Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Getting Over A Break-Up

Having recently gone through my own very painful break-up I'm still sometimes winded so deeply within my solar plexus that I have to stop, breathe and remind myself life goes on. What I've realised over these past few months, is that it's never easy when a significant relationship ends. Whatever the reason for the split, it can turn your whole world upside down and trigger painful and unsettling feelings. Are there things that can be done to get through this difficult time and grow into a stronger, wiser person? I think so...

Why do breakups hurt so much, even when the relationship is no longer good? A split is painful because it represents the loss, not just of the relationship, but also of shared dreams and commitments. Romantic relationships begin on a high note of excitement and hope for the future. When these relationships fail, we experience profound disappointment, stress, and grief.

A split launches us into uncharted territory. Everything is disrupted: routine and responsibilities, home, relationships with extended family and friends, and even your identity. A breakup brings uncertainty about the future. What will life be like without your partner? Will you find someone else? Will you end up alone? These unknowns often seem worse than an unhappy relationship. Recovering from a breakup is difficult. However, it’s important to know (and to keep reminding yourself) that you can and will move on. But healing takes time, so be patient with yourself.

Coping With A Break-Up
  • Recognise that it's OK to have different feelings. It's normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated and confused - and these feelings can be intense. Accept that feelings of anxiety about the future and venturing into the unknown are frightening  but are normal and will lessen over time.  
  • Give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to feel and to function at a less than optimal level for a period of time. You may not be able to be quite as productive on the job or care for others in exactly the way you're accustomed to for a little while. It's important to give yourself time to heal, regroup and re-energise.
  • Don't go through it alone. Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. I believe the more you cry now, the less you will cry later. Let it all out, you'll feel better for it.

Give Yourself Time to Grieve 

Grief is a natural reaction to loss, and the breakup of a love relationship involves multiple losses:
  • Loss of companionship and shared experiences (which may or may not have been consistently pleasurable).
  • Loss of support, be it financial, intellectual, social or emotional.
  • Loss of hopes, plans and dreams (can be even more painful than practical losses).
Allowing yourself to feel the pain of these losses may be scary. You may fear that your emotions will be too intense to bear, or that you’ll be stuck in a dark place forever. Just remember that grieving is essential to the healing process. The pain of grief is precisely what helps you let go of the old relationship and move on. And no matter how strong your grief, it won’t last forever. To coin a phrase "feel the fear and do it anyway". You will be amazed at just how strong you will feel when you look the fear, grief and pain right in the eyes and wake up to a new day.
Tips For Grieving After A Break-Up:
  • Don’t fight your feelings – It’s normal to have lots of ups and downs, and feel many conflicting emotions, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear, and confusion. It’s important to identify and acknowledge these feelings. While these emotions will often be painful, trying to suppress or ignore them will only prolong the grieving process.

  • Talk about how you’re feeling – Even if it is difficult for you to talk about your feelings with other people, it is very important to find a way to do so when you are grieving. Knowing that others are aware of your feelings will make you feel less alone with your pain and will help you heal. Writing can also be a helpful outlet for your feelings.

  • Remember that moving on is the end goal – Expressing your feelings will liberate you in a way, but it is important not to dwell on the negative feelings or to over-analyse the situation. Getting stuck in hurtful feelings like blame, anger, and resentment will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from healing and moving forward.

  • Remind yourself that you still have a future – When you commit to another person, you create many hopes and dreams. It’s hard to let these dreams go. As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will eventually replace your old ones.

  • Know the difference between a normal reaction to a breakup and depression - Grief can be paralysing after a breakup, but after a while, the sadness begins to lift. Day by day, and little by little, you start moving on. However, if you don’t feel any forward momentum, you may be suffering from depression.
Reach out to others for support through the grieving process: Support from others is critical to healing after a breakup or divorce. You might feel like being alone, but isolating yourself will only make this time more difficult. Don’t try to get through this on your own.
Reach out to trusted friends and family members. People who have been through painful breakups or divorces can be especially helpful. They know what it is like and they can assure you that there is hope for healing and new relationships.
  • Spend time with people who support, value, and energise you. As you consider who to reach out to, choose wisely. Surround yourself with people who are positive and who truly listen to you. It’s important that you feel free to be honest about what you’re going through, without worrying about being judged, criticised or told what to do.
  • Get outside help if you need it. Recognise that it's OK to seek professional help if you feel that talking to friends and family is not working for you. A counsellor or therapist will always be a someone who will allow you express how you feel without any judgement and may be able to help you find some answers.
  • Cultivate new friendships. If you feel like you have lost your social network along with the breakup, make an effort to meet new people. Join a networking group or special interest club (Yoga is ALWAYS a winner in these circumstances!), take a class, get involved in community activities, or volunteer at a school, place of worship, or other community organisation.  
Taking care of yourself after a divorce or relationship breakup: A break-up is a highly stressful, life-changing event. When you’re going through the emotional wringer and dealing with major life changes, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The strain and upset of a major break-up can leave you psychologically and physically vulnerable. Treat yourself like you’re getting over the flu. Get plenty of rest, minimise other sources of stress in your life, and reduce your workload if possible. Learning to take care of yourself can be one of the most valuable lessons you learn following a break-up. As you feel the emotions of your loss and begin learning from your experience, you can resolve to take better care of yourself and make positive choices going forward.

Self Care Tips:
  • Make time each day to nurture yourself. Help yourself heal by scheduling daily time for activities you find calming and soothing. Go for a walk in nature, listen to music, enjoy a hot bath, get a massage, read a favorite book, take a Yoga class, or savour a warm cup of tea.
  • Pay attention to what you need in any given moment and speak up to express your needs. Honour what you believe to be right and best for you even though it may be different from what your ex or others want. Say "no" without guilt or angst as a way of honoring what is right for you.
  • Stick to a routine. A break-up can disrupt almost every area of your life, amplifying feelings of stress, uncertainty, and chaos. Getting back to a regular routine can provide a comforting sense of structure and normalcy.
  • Take a time out. Try not to make any major decisions in the first few months after a separation or divorce, like starting a new job or moving to a new city. If you can, wait until you’re feeling less emotional so that you can make better decisions.
  • Avoid using "props" (alcohol, drugs, or food) to cope,as much as possible. When you’re in the middle of a break-up, you may be tempted to do anything to relieve your feelings of pain and loneliness. But using "props" as an escape is unhealthy and destructive in the long run. It’s essential to find healthier ways of coping with painful feelings.
  • Explore new interests. A break-up is a beginning as well as an end. Take the opportunity to explore new interests and activities. Pursuing fun, new activities gives you a chance to enjoy life in the present and an opportunity to look forward, rather than dwelling on the past.
Making Healthy Choices: Eat Well, Sleep Well and Exercise: When you're going through the stress of a break-up, healthy habits easily fall by the wayside. You might find yourself not eating at all or overeating your favourite junk foods. Exercise might be harder to fit in because of the added pressures at home and sleep might be elusive. But all of the work you are doing to move forward in a positive way will be pointless if you don't make long-term healthy lifestyle choices. 

Learning Important Lessons From A Break-Up 

In times of emotional crisis, there is an opportunity to grow and learn. Just because you are feeling emptiness in your life right now, doesn’t mean that nothing is happening or that things will never change. Consider this period a time-out, a time for sowing the seeds for new growth. You can emerge from this experience knowing yourself better and feeling stronger.
In order to fully accept a breakup and move on, you need to understand what happened and acknowledging the part you played. It’s important to understand how the choices you made affected the relationship. Learning from your mistakes is the key to not repeating them.

Some Questions To Ask:
  • Step back and look at the big picture. How did you contribute to the problems of the relationship?
  • Do you tend to repeat the same mistakes or choose the wrong person in relationship after relationship?
  • Think about how you react stress and deal with conflict and insecurities. Could you act in a more constructive way
  • Consider whether or not you accept other people the way they are, not the way they could or should be.
  • Examine your negative feelings as a starting point for change. Are you in control of your feelings, or are they in control of you?
It's important to be honest with yourself during this part of the healing process, no matter how painful or difficult. Try not to dwell on who is to blame or beat yourself up over your mistakes. As you look back on the relationship, you have an opportunity to learn more about yourself, how you relate to others, and the problems you need to work on. If you are able to objectively examine your own choices and behavior, including the reasons why you chose your former partner, you’ll be able to see where you went wrong and make better choices next time.

There was a time, only a few months ago, when I felt truly wretched and could not imagine how or when I was going to find my way out. But then, slowly, day by day, things started to get better. Of course, there is still those feelings of sadness and anger that come and go, but the intensity has dissipated and I'm left feeling positive and happier than I have for some time...

Friday, 13 April 2012

Go With The Flow

When we are going with the flow we feel inspired and carry an extra sense of purpose and clarity; there is a feeling of being in the right place at the right time, doing what we are supposed to do.

Getting in the Flow - Exercise

Think of a time when you felt like this. Perhaps you were it was the day everything felt perfect; you had a great day at work; or you rocked out in your yoga practice.

Describe the situation. Remember your feelings of excitement and enthusiasm; a wonderful energetic "can do" feeling motivated you, didn't it?

Now close your eyes and "see" yourself in this positive mode. Notice how you looked, your body language, your smile!

Get right into the part again and recreate your go-getting mode. Make your visions as bright as you can, the bigger and more vivid your visualisation the more powerful its effect.

Now remember how you felt, get right into the skin of those upbeat and inspiring emotions. See and feel yourself reaching for and achieving your best.

Repeat this exercise whenever you need reminding of how good it can be for you. The more you can imagine yourself being in the flow, the easier it becomes to draw this reality into your life. Your energy attracts your circumstances, so get into the positive and inspirational flow of your own energy and the rest will just fall into place.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Here's to a Grateful and Joyful Life...

Everyone wants to live a joyful life. But how can we achieve it? How can we live a joyful life despite the not-so-good things that occasionally happen in our lives?
An important key, I believe, is being a grateful person. If you are grateful, you will see the world differently. You will see that there are always good things behind everything that happen. You will realise that your life is wonderful, and you will be joyful.
To help you be a grateful person, here are some simple tips you can do:
  1. Realise what a healthy and prosperous life you have. Life expectancy in most of the human history is only 20-35 years. And most of those years were spent in diseases, poverty, and misery. Only in the last century had human life expectancy increased significantly to the current average of 67 years. 

  2. Realise what a blessing it is to live in peace. No matter how healthy you are, life will be full of fear and misery in the time of war. Can you imagine being in the midst of a city bombarded with bombs? Can you imagine being in the Rwandan holocaust? A nightmare we can only contemplate. Living in peace is a great blessing which by itself deserves your sincerest gratitude.

  3. Open your eyes to see the good things in your life. We tend to see the bad things that happen in our life but overlook the good things. What a pity. Open your eyes and be observant of those good things. Even small things matter. If someone calls you a friend, that’s something you should be grateful for. If a child smiles to you, that should remind you that hope is always here in this world.

  4. Maintain a “good things” journal. Take one step further and write the good things that happen in your life in a journal, especially those which impress you. When life looks dark and it’s difficult for you to be grateful, open and read your journal. You will soon realise the wonderful life you have and you will get new strength to overcome your problems.

  5. Understand that there are positive things behind all the bad things that happen. This might be difficult for some people, but I firmly believe it. At the very least, bad things give you valuable lessons you should be grateful for. When you have this mindset, it’s not difficult to see the good things you could get out of something bad. This way you will always have reasons to be grateful.

  6. Have a special session of gratitude. Understanding that you should be grateful won’t help much if you don’t put it into practice. Allocate special time for your “session of gratitude” even if it’s only 5-10 minutes a day. Think about the good things that happen in your days and express your gratitude (I use yoga to channel mine).

  7. Meet positive people. You will be like the people you gather with. It’s hard for you to be grateful if the people you meet all the days are negative people. Surround yourself with positive people who themselves are grateful people, and it will be much easier and natural for you to be a grateful person.

  8. Focus on giving. You will be grateful if your mind focuses on what you have rather than what you don’t have. By giving, your mind will focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have (you can’t give something you don’t have, can you?). Most people focus on receiving which makes their mind focus on what they don’t have. No wonder it’s difficult for them to be grateful.

  9. Decide to be a grateful person. The above tips can help you become a grateful person, but eventually it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to be one. If you decide to be a grateful person, then be it. The same thing happens otherwise. No matter what happens to you, it is still you who decide how you will respond. So make the decision to be a grateful person.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Make A Positive Impression

Cast your mind back to the last time you were faced with a group of strangers, perhaps at a party, a work-training event or a job interview.

Faced with the unknown our adrenaline starts rushing and our behaviour can become erratic. The person who can survive the pressure is the one who has high self-esteem and feels free to be themselves.

The truth is that everyone feels intimidated sometimes in their lives but the person who survives such feelings is the one who has an open mind and can see the lighter side of life: the pessimist will look for problems and find them and the optimist will act spontaneously and creatively. We all know which of these two types we would want on our team. Look at the following checklist. What are your own positive and negative traits?

1) Fear of rejection (negative)
2) Good sense of humour; can laugh at self (positive)
3) Worried about not being liked (negative)
4) Genuinely likes people and shows interest in them (positive)
5) Has to have the last word, must be right (negative)
6) Can say sorry when necessary (positive)
7) Self-centred (negative)
8) Good listener (positive)
9) Low self-esteem (negative)
10) Doesn't take things personally (positive)

To eliminate the negative just accentuate the positive and you will make a fabulous impression!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Attract A Positive Love Relationship

You will only have great relationships when you are ready to take responsibility for yourself. Once you accept that the qualities of your thoughts and beliefs help to create the quality of your life then you are well on your way to going for and achieving whatever it is you want.

A positive approach keeps you motivated and enthusiastic and this energy always attracts fresh possibilities and new relationships; yes there really are many fish in the sea, you just have to get out there with your rod!

The negative view will create self-doubt and insecurity and an inability to take assertive action, so if a likely love interest does swim by it might be just too scary to bait your line and reel them in.

Whether your thoughts and beliefs are positive or negative will obviously have a great impact on the type of people you attract and the sort of relationship choices you make. An optimistic outlook always brings a feeling of hopefulness and confidence to any situation and this automatically open the door to new prospects in life (and love). It's so simple: negativity attracts negativity and positivity attracts positivity. So radiate whatever it is you want to attract. When you demonstrate enthusiasm and motivation you uplift the energy of those around you and draw similarly positive people into your orbit.

The type of relationships you attract depends entirely upon the type of energy you project.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Busy With Life and Kids? This Might Help!

“Babies are always more trouble than you thought – and more wonderful.” - Charles Osgood
Anyone who has kids knows that any life with kids is going to be complicated, at least to some degree. From extra laundry to bathing and cooking and shopping and driving and school and chores and dance and toys and tantrums, there is no shortage of complications. You won’t get to ultra-simple if your life includes children…but you can find ways to simplify, no matter how many kids you have.

Take my life, for example: I have a two kids, and somehow amongst the chaos, I have managed to find peace and happiness. How is this magic trick accomplished? Nothing magical, just little things that have simplified my life through trial and error. The main magic trick, however: making my family my top priority, and choosing only a small number of priorities in my life. If you have too many things you want to do, or need to do, your life will become complicated. But if you choose just a few things that are important to you, you can eliminate the rest, and simplify your life greatly.

What follows is a list that might seem complicated to some but trust me, I could easily double this list, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Instead of trying to tackle everything on this list at once, choose a few things that appeal to you, and give them a try. They might inspire new ideas of your own!
  1. Self-sufficiency. This one tip could simplify your life greatly, over time. However, it will make things more complicated in the short term. The idea is to teach your kids to do things for themselves as they get older and more capable. Teaching them to do something themselves instead of just doing it yourself takes time and can be a little frustrating at first, but it will pay off for years to come. Scarlet, for example, can get herself dressed, brush her teeth, and generally get herself ready in the morning with only minimal prompting from us. She feeds the cat (most of the time) and can tidy up her toys, make her bed and put her clothes away, when give a little push. This type of self-sufficiency will not only save time and trouble over the years, but it's also great for kids self esteem. They build on their responsibilities over time and with their new skills comes a new level of their place in the world. 
  2. One diary. If you have more than one kid, you might have a lot of activities going on that you need to track, from school events such as Christmas performances and parent-teacher meetings to extracurricular activities such as dance classes or swimming lessons. Organise your life with a simple diary and enter all activities and appointments on this one calendar, from kids’ stuff to your own goings on. When they hand you papers from school, or you make your hair appointment, immediately enter everything onto the diary. Then a quick glance each day will help you plan your day.
  3. Regular cleanups. If you’re like me, you don’t like a huge mess. Teach your kids to clean up after themselves — let them make a mess, but every now and then, tell them it’s time to clean up. Be sure to tell them to clean up before moving on to something else, such as lunchtime or bedtime. It’s good to have regular times during the day when they do cleanups, such as before lunch or before bed, so that the house is always clean at night and during the day.
  4. Quiet bedtime routines. Kids thrive on routine, and no routine is better than the one before they go to sleep. Have a regular routine before bed — it might consist of cleaning up, bathing, brushing their teeth, getting into their pajamas, and reading a book. Reading aloud to them just before bedtime is a great idea, because it quiets them down after a day of activity, it gives you quality bonding time together, and it gets them into the habit of reading. Plus, it’s just something that everyone can enjoy.
  5. Prep the night before. (This is a crucial one for our house, in fact it should probably be a little further up the list.) Mornings can be a hectic time for parents and kids alike, but they don’t have to be. Instead, prep as much as possible the night before, and have your mornings be a little more relaxed. I like to get everything ready for breakfast (set the table, get the coffee ready), get the kids clothes ready (and mine as well), polish their shoes and have them bathed and school bags ready. Then the morning is simply eating breakfast, a little grooming, getting dressed, and gathering everything together before you head out the door. It’s a great way to start your day. 
  6. Don’t schedule too much. Sometimes we schedule things back-to-back-to-back, so that every minute of every day is planned out. That leads to stress and problems. Instead, schedule as little as possible each day, and leave space between events, appointments or activities, so that your day moves along at a more leisurely pace. Start getting ready earlier than necessary, so there’s no rush, and leave yourself time to transition from one thing to another. A more spaced-out schedule is much more relaxing than a cramped one.
  7. Have dedicated family times. Try to find regular times in your schedule when you do nothing else but spend time together as a family. For some people, dinner time works well — everyone sits down to dinner together as a family, and no other activities are planned at that time. For others, weekends, or maybe just one day of the weekend, work better. We pretty much reserve Sundays as our Family Day, and try our best not to schedule anything else on that day (sometimes it's hard with Chris's job, but we do try!). It’s something we look forward to. 
  8. Always prep early. I try to make it a point to look at the schedule in advance (usually the day before) to see what’s coming up. That allows me to prepare for those events or activities early, so that we aren’t in a rush when we’re getting ready. For example, on swimming days, I make sure that all their swimming gear, plus snacks and whatnot, are all ready to go beforehand. Prepping early makes things a lot easier later on.
  9. Always bring snacks. Kids always get hungry. So be ready — if you’re going on the road, pack some snacks in bags. Crackers, cheese, fruit, carrot sticks, mini sandwiches, crackers, raisins all make good portable snacks. Also, always bring plenty of water, as kids are always thirsty. 
  10. Baby wipes and emergency kit. There will always be messes. Be ready. Baby wipes, even after they are past using nappies, are indispensable for all kinds of messes. Pack them in a little “emergency kit” that might include reading material, activities, and extra clothes — anything you can think of that might prepare you for anything that regularly arises.
  11. Pack spare clothes. Something we learnt from what seemed at the time, a traveling nightmare(!)...always have a little carry-on luggage that’s packed with a couple of changes of clothes for each kid — good clothes (for a party or something), regular clothes, underwear, socks. This way you're always ready, if there’s an accident, or should they want to spend the night with grandparents or a friend while you're out at a party or something. It will be indispensable.
  12. Create weekly routines. Aside from regular family times (mentioned above), it’s good to have a weekly routine that might include regular practice times, house cleaning day, washing the car, errands day, recurring appointments, etc. This makes the schedule more predictable for everyone, and eliminates a lot of surprises.
  13. Communicate as a family. Regular communication between family members solves a lot of problems. Have regular times when the family can talk about family issues. Dinnertime is a good time for that. 
  14. Create alone time for your spouse. It’s easy to become so busy with your kids that you forget about your significant other. Don’t let this happen — it’s a sure way to drift apart and lose that bond that led you to having a family together. Keep the relationship alive by getting a babysitter (maybe once a week) and doing something together, just the two of you.
  15. Let things go sometimes. I’m not always good at this, but it’s something I work on constantly: don’t always be so strict. Let things go. They’re kids — let them live. I have a tendency to be very strict about things, but I remind myself constantly that it’s not worth all the hassle to get on their cases about things. Instead, let things go, and just relax. They’ll turn out just fine in the end, as long as you love and support them.
  16. Make decluttering a family event. Every few months we go through all the stuff in our rooms and declutter. We do it together, and it can be a bonding time. We end up with bags and boxes full of junk, boxes full of stuff to donate or give to friends, and in the end, much simpler rooms. It’s very satisfying.
  17. Spend quiet time at home. Often we get so busy that we’re on the road all the time, going to one thing or another. And when we have family time, that’s often spent on road too — going to the cinema or restaurants or other fun events (you wouldn't believe the social diary of a four year old!). But that can be exhausting, and expensive. Instead, try to spend time at home as often as you can. You can watch a DVD instead of going to the cinea, and make some popcorn. You can play board games or go outside and play a sport. You can read to each other, or by yourselves, or tell stories. There are dozens of things you can do at home that cost nothing, and that are relaxing and fun.
  18. Create traditions. Kids love traditions, from holiday traditions to family traditions. We read "The Night Before Christmas" to the kids on Christmas Eve and although they are only now starting to stay still long enough to kind of listen, in a year or so they will love it. If you make it a regular thing, and give it special importance, it will be a tradition, and it will be something your kids remember into adulthood.
  19. Reduce commitments. This tip applies to both your commitments and your kids’ commitments. If you have too many, your life will be complicated. If you reduce your commitments, your life will be simplified. It’s that simple. Which ones give you the most joy and benefit? And which ones just drain your time and energy without giving you much back in return? Keep the essential commitments — yours and your kids — and eliminate as many of the rest as possible.
  20. Get active. These days, kids can become very inactive (and unhealthy) with all the TV, Internet and video games they consume. Get them active by going outside with them and taking walks, going for swims, playing sports. We love to take the kids to the various parks in our area and let them loose in the playgrounds there. Just keeping an eye on them keeps us active! How does this simplify your life? It gets them healthy in an inexpensive way.
  21. Focus on doing, not on spending. Too often we send messages to our kids about how to live life, based on what we do: we like to go shopping, and eat out, and go to the movies, and so our kids learn that having fun means spending money. We focus on material things, and therefore so do they. Instead, teach them (by talking but also by your actions) that what’s important is doing stuff, not buying stuff. Go for walks in the park, play outdoors, play games, read, tell stories, build stuff. Spend quality time together, doing stuff that doesn’t cost money.
“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” - Franklin P. Jones