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How To Identify and End A Toxic Relationship and Be Free

toxicrelatinship How To Identify and End A Toxic Relationship and Be Free

…… It’s sometimes hard to see you are in a toxic relationship when you are in it.

We get so invested and often can’t see clearly as we are clouded by our conditioning.

Some signs of a toxic relationship are more obvious, like mental, emotional, verbal or financial abuse, but some are much more subtle.

So here are a few signs of a toxic relationship:

  • You are constantly bringing out the worst parts of each other.
  • There is a lot of passive aggressive behavior rather than real communication.
  • Excessive jealousy, control and possessiveness.
  • Constantly criticizing the other.
  • You don’t feel you can be your real self out of fear of the other’s reactions.
  • Disrespecting your partner, their opinions, requests, worth.
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Mark Nepos' Weekly Reflection: I Affirm (for Joel Elkes)

moonreach I Affirm (for Joel Elkes)

Already someone is asking

who you were. And I well up.

I reach for your long life and all

you did. But it’s all you touched

that can’t be put into words. Twenty

years ago, when I was troubled and

confused, you took my hand firmly

and said, “You steward a force of

nature within you. Honor it and

trust it.” Later, you led me to the

plateau between all that is good

in us and all the harm we do. You

stood there between the eternal light

and the eternal dark and said, “Come,

look with me into the heart of things.”

But you always returned to walk the

earth, lending your strong hands to

all who came your way. I want so

much to speak about the force of

nature you were. The kind stranger

is waiting. And I can only point to

who you were, like a child pointing

to the moon. I stutter and simply

say, “He was such a good man.”



A Question to Walk With: Describe someone who can look into the heart of things with. What qualities does this friend inhabit that makes such depth between you possible?

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Where Do You Belong?

three-diverse-friends-at-kindergarten-picture-id1069720918 Where Do You Belong?

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” — Saint Teresa of Calcutta

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about the phrase “go back to where you came from.”

Those were the words our president uttered last week, and after he said them, I found myself feeling the rejection, the pain and the hurt behind them. While his words were aimed at four female elected officials, I know that many of us have also heard words like that in our personal lives.

“Get out! Go away! You are not welcome here anymore. You don’t deserve to be here. Leave!”

Sit with those words. How do they make you feel in your body, your heart and your mind? I know they make me feel pain. Why? Well, underneath those words is the implication that one doesn’t belong, and not belonging cuts to the core of what we desire and need to survive as human beings.

Belonging. I remember a quote from Mother Teresa (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta) where she said the biggest threat to us and our world was that people don’t feel as though they belong. “If we have no peace,” she said, “it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

When someone senses that they don’t belong, they don’t feel the ground underneath their feet. They don’t feel like they have a seat at the table. They don’t trust that they belong.

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Choosing the Company You Keep

negativepeople Find Freedom from these Four Types of Toxic People

Those with whom we assemble, we soon resemble!

This simple old saying hides a deep Truth that can enlighten and empower every aspect of our lives.

Who we are — our very essence — is continually being transformed by the company we keep.

Stated differently, when we keep the company of what is light and bright, our lives get lighter and brighter. And when we keep the company of what is dark and discouraging, our lives can’t help but be dragged downward.

This idea might sound a little simplistic at first, but its power soon becomes evident when we put it to use in the quest to realize our highest aspirations. The key lies in understanding that this principle is active on multiple levels at once. For instance, when referring to "the company we keep," we of course mean the people we spend time with every day — family, friends, co-workers, etc. However, on a deeper and more important level, “company” can also refer to the thoughts and feelings moving within us in any given moment.

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Trust In Love

trustinlove Trust In Love

Do you believe in love?

The Practice:
Trust in love.

Why?

Take a breath right now, and notice how abundant the air is, full of life-giving oxygen offered freely by trees and other green growing things. You can’t see air, but it’s always available for you.

Love is a lot like the air. It may be hard to see – but it’s in you and all around you.

In the press of life – dealing with hassles in personal relationships and bombarded with news of war and other conflicts – it’s easy to lose sight of love, and feel you can’t place your faith in it. But in fact, to summarize a comment from Gandhi, daily life is saturated with moments of cooperation and generosity – between complete strangers! Let alone with one’s friends and family.

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We Can’t Control Others, But Here’s How To Influence Them

little-boy-exploring-picture-id534502310 We Can’t Control Others, But Here’s How To Influence Them
Rather than trying to control others, which never works in the long run, learn how you can influence others.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Inner Bonding teaches that we have no control over others’ intent, choices, and how they feel about us. However, while we have no control, we can influence others. Our own loving or unloving behavior can have a huge influence on others.

Think back in your life to the people who most influenced you.

  • Who influenced you regarding your controlling and addictive behavior?
  • Who influenced you regarding your loving, personally powerful behavior?

The problem for many of us is that we have far too many role models of unloving behavior toward ourselves and others, and far too few role models of loving behavior. This is why it is so important to be able to turn to your guidance for what’s loving to you and to others.

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Love Your Neighbor

neighbors Love Your Neighbor

In the neighborhood?

The Practice:
Love your neighbor.

Why?

This practice might sound extreme or pushy, and I want to tell you what I mean by it.

Everyone has lots of neighbors, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Obviously the people living across the street are neighbors, but in some sense so are the people you live with. Friends, relatives, co-workers, all the people you know are neighbors. So are the people at the market or walking past on the street. Other living things are neighbors as well, such as cats and dogs, birds and bees, ants on the kitchen counter, and plants and trees.

There’s also a neighborhood inside each of us. The human body contains about 100 trillion cells – and at least as many microorganisms that are neighbors, too. Plus consider your mind. My own mind is like a village with many characters at different stages of biological and psychological evolution, chatting or arguing with each other. All the parts of your mind – the pushy internal critic, the playful child, the longing for lasting happiness, the calm voice that talks you off the ledge – are neighbors of a sort.

In the largest sense, the neighbors of your neighbors are your neighbors, which means that every living thing is your neighbor – and mine. Wow. Walt Whitman got it right when he wrote: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

What should we do with our neighbors? Ignore or hate them? Or recognize and love them?

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Proactively Choosing To Love

choosingto-love Proactively Choosing To Love

What does it REALLY mean to make choices from healthy parts of your personality? It’s not only when you observe that a fearful part of your personality is active (for example, one that is impatient), and you decide to act from a loving part of your personality instead (for example, one that is patient). This is the core dynamic of creating authentic power.

It also means proactively and consciously choosing to act from a loving part of your personality moment by moment – for example, a part that is grateful, or appreciative, or caring, or content, or in awe of the Universe as well as patient. When you do this, you will notice that you are naturally more giving, creative, and curious. You will feel your heart opening, and the joy of opening to others will fill your awareness.

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Over Many Months

Photo credit goes to Guduru Ajay bhargav Over Many Months

After ten years of swimming, I stopped when Eleanor died. She was one of several dear ones who had left the Earth. There was too much to tend, and part of my heart had stopped, unsure how to continue. Everyone called it grief, but below the name, I felt that the fire in my center was beginning to smoke. I kept my appointments and did the endless tasks, but some part of me felt hollow.

Slowly, over many months, I began to feel the presence of those I lost in simple things: in the sudden sweep of tall grasses, as if Eleanor were whispering something I couldn’t quite hear; in the light on a pigeon in Washington Square Park while someone played a saxophone, as if my father were smiling on a bench just out of view; and in the closed eyes of our new dog Zuzu while asleep, as if our dead, beloved dog Mira were slipping inside her to tell us she was near.

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The Joy of Connection

women-using-laptop-picture-id508128526 The Joy of Connection

“When the world is complicated, the simple gift of friendship is in all our hands.”  — Maria

I’m so happy May is upon us because it’s a month that feels like spring. It feels light. It feels joyful. It feels full of possibility. Everywhere you look, you can see nature unfolding, blooming and becoming.

I’m feeling joyful myself this week because I feel centered and grounded in my life. My work brings me meaning and I have a mission that feels larger than myself. My children are healthy, kind, thoughtful and hard-working. (A day doesn’t go by when I don’t thank God for them.) I’m also feeling blessed that I get to meet so many inspiring and amazing people along the way. This week was no exception.

At the beginning of this week, my travels took me to a summit in Las Vegas to talk about women’s health and Alzheimer’s (I was the first woman to ever speak there!). Then, I traveled to San Francisco for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards ceremony, which honored 21 incredible female entrepreneurs who are driving change through their development of impact-driven businesses around the world.

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See Intense Wants

confrontation-picture-id1027767690 See Intense Wants

When deeper wants are recognized one feels seen and less likely to be reactive.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what are the deepest wants of all?

The Practice:
See intense wants.

Why?

I did my Ph.D. dissertation by videotaping 20 mother-toddler pairs and analyzing what happened when the mom offered an alternative to a problematic want ("not the chainsaw, sweetie, how about this red truck"). Hundreds of bleary-eyed hours later, I found that offering alternatives reduced child negative emotion and increased cooperation with the parent.

Pretty interesting (at least to me, both as a new parent and as someone desperate to finish grad school). And there's an even deeper lesson. Kids—and adults, too—obviously want to get what they want from others. But more fundamentally, we want to know that others understand our wants—and even more fundamentally, that they want to.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: All This has Yet to Happen

friends by Helena Lopes All This has Yet to Happen

When my twentieth book was published, we had a party in our backyard. It was such a milestone. My wife, Susan, surprised me that day by having the incomparable folk singer, May Erlewine, play with her quartet. I was dumbfounded to see her in our driveway. As May played, her voice threaded through our histories and I could feel the weave of stories that have brought us all together. After her first set, I offered a reading, one piece from each of my books. I have read all over the world and, honestly, I’m never nervous, but reading in our backyard to our dearest friends, I was. As I took in all those loving faces, my heart swelled and I realized that what so touches me about May and her music, beneath all her gifts, is that when I first saw her play, she reminded me that I am alive and that the moment we are in has yet to happen. And standing before my friends, I said as much, adding, “I feel this with each of you. Every time we’re together, no matter the distance or time in between, I am reminded that I am alive and that all this has yet to happen. In this way, each of you holds up my heart. In this way, each of you opens my heart. In truth, anyone or anything that reminds us that we are alive and that this has yet to happen is a friend.” I could feel all these beautiful beings with their gifts and burdens, mirrored and softened by each other’s company. Insight often appears in the loving presence of others. It had happened again. Standing with friends on this raft of an afternoon after years of rowing downstream together, I could see that friendship is my religion, the constant practice of love in the world.

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Forget The Shoulda's

Life's stream Forget The Shoulda's

When healthy inclinations become "shouldas," then there is a big problem.

Is it really true?

The Practice: Forget the "shoulda's."

Why?

One time I watched a three-year-old at her birthday party. Her friends were there from preschool, and she received lots of presents. The cake came out, she admired the pink frosting rose at its center, and everyone sang. One of the moms cut pieces and without thinking sliced right through the rose - a disaster for this little girl. "I shoulda had the rose!" she yelled. "I shoulda shoulda SHOULDA had the rose!" Nothing could calm her down, not even pushing the two pieces of cake together to look like a whole rose. Nothing else mattered, not the friends, not the presents, not the day as a whole: she was insistent, something MUST happen. She had, just HAD to get the whole rose.

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What Is It You Plan To Do?

strangermeet What Is It You Plan To Do?

“When it’s all over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement.”  — Mary Oliver


The other day, I was talking to a friend about the people who have most impacted our lives. She shared with me a moving encounter she recently had with a stranger and remarked, “Isn’t it odd that a total stranger had that kind of impact on me?”

I said it’s almost always a stranger that ends up shifting your life. In fact, my own life has been deeply impacted by several total strangers over the years.

My friend paused and was slightly aghast. “What do you mean? How can that be?” she asked.

Before someone becomes your friend or partner, they are a stranger to you, I explained. Something about them moved you and then you delved further into conversation — deeper into connection — and got to know them better.

Sometimes it might also be the words of a total stranger in a book or a poem that move you so deeply that you shift everything you thought you knew and embark on a different course.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, who passed away this week, came into my life just like that. Her words have touched and moved me so profoundly over the course of my life. Eventually, she went from being a total stranger to a loving, loyal friend and for that, I am forever grateful.

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Improve Your Relationships! 3 Steps for Better Communication

coupledistractions Improve Your Relationships! 3 Steps for Better Communication

Does the idea of communicating with your loved one involve idle chit chat while gazing at the T.V. or glossing over your mobile device? Are you struggling with conflict and disagreements internally that show up as passive-aggressive behavior in yourself or others? What about with colleagues at work or even with whom you interact with on social media?

You’d think they are all different- that close relationship should count more, but why is that? Truly, anyone you communicate with deserves respect, kindness, and authentic dialog. No one needs to accept anything less.

Good communication is essential to having a loving, harmonious relationship. But, most of us were never really taught the art of relationship dialogue. Sure, we read magazine articles about finding the right moment to express our needs and how we need to learn how to compromise, etc. We try to keep trying to get them to hear our point of view and then get frustrated when our partner, colleague or friend doesn’t seem interested.

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Living In A Vortex Of Love

hot-air-balloons-picture-id500901404 Living In A Vortex Of Love
As I crested the top of a hill I spotted two and then three hot air balloons. They were so distant, that I could not make out the individual colors. The balloons were both beautiful and inspiring. The way they moved through the air on wind currents reminded me of someone moving gracefully through life. The vantage point they shared from high above the ground, offered a greater scope of our world and thus our connection. Both the grace and the ability to observe on a large scale, reminded me of living a conscious life. 
 
The following day my family and I were gifted the opportunity to visit a Horse and Human Sanctuary; Tierra Madre. As I opened the gate into the sanctuary we all felt the powerful healing energy. The gate protects everyone and everything in the sanctuary; only open hearts are allowed inside.
 
There was a small wild rabbit just inside, observing our entrance. Soon we were greeted by a dog. We learned the dog had been rescued from the side of the freeway. We found it easy to leave everything but love and inspiration outside. The sanctuary is a safe place for all. 
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Guided By Love

heartwitnter Guided By Love

Encourage love in all its forms to flow through you.

What's carrying you?

The Practice:
Guided by love.

Why?

Feeling both the world and myself these days, one phrase keeps calling: lived by love.

Explicitly, this means coming from love in a broad sense, from compassion, good intentions, self-control, warmth, finding what’s to like, caring, connecting, and kindness.

Implicitly, and more fundamentally, this practice means a relaxed opening into the love – in a very very broad sense – that is the actual nature of everything. Moment by moment, the world and the mind reliably carry you along. This isn’t airy-fairy, it’s real. Our physical selves are woven in the tapestry of materiality, whose particles and energies never fail. The supplies – the light and air, the furniture and flowers – that are present this instant are here, available, whatever the future may hold. So too is the caring and goodwill that others have for you, and the momentum of your own accomplishments, and the healthy workings of your body. Meanwhile, your mind goes on being, while dependably weaving this thought, this sound, this moment of consciousness.

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What Is It Like to Be You Right Now?

beingyou What Is It Like to Be You Right Now?
“The spiritual path is not a solo endeavor. In fact, the very notion of a self who is trying to free her/himself is a delusion. We are in it together and the company of spiritual friends helps us realize our interconnectedness.” — Tara Brach


Last week, as I was sitting in the back of the room at the World Dementia Council Summit in London, a woman about my age stood up to speak. She had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and wanted the world leaders to hear what it’s like to live with the condition first-hand.

“We don’t want your pity,” she told them firmly. “We also don’t want your fear. All we want is for you to ask us, ‘What it’s like to be you right now?’”

The room fell silent.

This woman’s words really struck me. I’ve been thinking a lot about them ever since.

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How To Deal With Losing or Outgrowing Friends and Family

we-no-longer-have-anything-to-talk-about-picture-id527237466 How To Deal With Losing or Outgrowing Friends and Family

It’s never an easy thing when friends or family you were close to or once loved grow out of your life.

It can be quite painful.

You might feel some guilt or false loyalty if you feel you have outgrown them.

Or you might feel abandoned, betrayed, hurt, sad, angry, grief. Or a combination of all of the above.

Understand that you initially attracted your friend into your life because:

A) You were vibrating at a similar level of consciousness and were a vibrational match at that particular time.

B) You had certain lessons to teach each other’s souls. Your friendship was an opportunity learn those lessons and serve each other’s growth.


Friendships last as long as both of your souls need, as long as your personalities think they should.

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1544 Hits

Don't Squabble

happysiblings Don't Squabble

You know you're squabbling when you find yourself getting irritated.

The Practice:
Don't squabble.

Why?

It's one thing to stick up for yourself and others. But it's a different matter to get caught up in wrangles, contentiousness, squabbles . . . in a word: quarrels.

Similarly, it's one thing to disagree with someone, even to the point of arguing—but it's a different matter to get so caught up in your position that you lose sight of the bigger picture, including your relationship with the other person. Then you're quarreling.

You know you're quarreling when you find yourself getting irritated, especially with that sticky feeling that you're just not gonna quit until you've won.

Quarrels happen both out in the open, between people, and inside the mind, like when you make a case in your head about another person or keep revisiting an argument to make your point more forcefully. We quarrel most with family and friends—imagine that! But also with people on TV, or politicians and groups we don't like. We can even quarrel with conditions in life (such as an illness or tight money) or with physical objects, like a sticky drawer slammed shut in anger.

However, they happen, quarrels are stressful, activating the ancient fight-or-flight machinery in your brain and body: a bit of this won't harm you, but a regular diet of quarreling is not good for your long-term physical and mental health.


Plus, it eats away like acid on a relationship. For example, I was in a serious relationship in my mid-twenties that was headed for marriage, but our regular quarrels finally so scorched the earth in our hearts that no love could grow there for each other.

This week, try not to quarrel with anyone or anything.

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