It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Choose To Love

Choose Love - Rick Hanson PhD

What does your heart say?

The Practice:
Choose to Love

Why?

Many years ago, I was in a significant relationship in which the other person started doing things that surprised and hurt me. I’ll preserve the privacy here so I won’t be concrete, but it was pretty intense. After going through the first wave of reactions – What?! How could you? Are you kidding me?! – I settled down a bit. I had a choice.

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Your Brain’s Most Important Relationship Is Not With You.

deepak1.3.22 Deepak Chopra, M.D., Brian J. Fertig, M.D. and Jack A. Tuszynski, Ph.D., D.Sc.

You can’t have a thought, feeling, sensation, or mental image without calling upon your brain, and this close relationship makes us human. Since 100 billion brain cells are constantly generating your mental life, no relationship seems more important, and everyone has a fear in the back of their mind about what might happen in old age if Alzheimer’s strikes, in essence destroying the mind-brain connection.

But as precious as this relationship is, your brain has a more important relationship that was hidden until about twenty years ago. This precious relationship is with bacteria, and even when you are asleep or thinking about nothing at all, the communication never ceases between the brain and bacteria, specifically the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract (the gut microbiota).

Between them the brain and your GI tract have created a real-life matrix, just like the one in science-fiction. You are alive and relate to your brain inside this tight structure of biochemicals that carry thousands of messages per second between microbiota and brain. At first sight this seems unbelievable, because few life forms have genetics as rudimentary as a bacterium, and no life form has a brain as complex as the human brain. An old proverb says that even a cat can look at a king. Biologically speaking, the lowly bacterium (along with viruses and microscopic fungi) does a lot more than look at your brain, more even than eavesdropping on it.

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Creating And Sticking To Intentions To End A Toxic Relationship In The New Year

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A toxic relationship is destructive on so many levels. Not only is there the loss of self and self-worth, but there is also the loss of enjoyment in life, the ability to be with a loving, positive partner, and the loss of your own sense of joy and purpose,  

This New Year, creating the intention to walk away from a toxic relationship is the best possible gift to give yourself. Like any type of change it is not always easy. There will be times when you may be tempted to give the partner another chance, to make those old excuses, or finding yourself being pulled back into the relationship throughout their manipulation and lies.

Creating a way to stick to your intentions to get out of the unhealthy relationship allows you to develop a plan to address these feelings as they arise. Building on your strengths and learning how to thrive in your own independence starts with accepting help and support from others.  This  is the best way to make the changes you want to see in your life.

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The Enlightened Rebel: OPEN AT THE TOP

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The best and most supportive relationship you can ever have with yourself is to allow yourself to live in the flow.


Living in the flow does not eliminate the ability to be a person of commitment. There is always a sense of freedom when you listen to your inner nature and make sure you are honoring yourself. It is important as an Enlightened Rebel to choose relationships in your life which also allow you such freedom. Were you ever expecting a visitor for several days and somehow had a feeling that it wasn’t going to happen?

Or, have you had a sense that the trip you were planning to take just wasn’t meant to be?
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Post Traumatic Growth And Resiliency After Toxic Relationships

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A toxic relationship is highly destructive. It creates a loss of sense of self through verbal and emotional abuse that tears down the person at a very basic level. Toxic relationships are often hard to see for the individual, as the toxicity or the negativity and abuse builds slowly. Even when there is no physical abuse, the constant degrading comments, the control over every aspect of your life, the gaslighting and blame associated with these types of relationships causes damage that is hard to see but highly devastating to experience.

The good news is that people can leave toxic relationships. Taking the time to work with a therapist or a counselor or joining a supportive community like my Inner Circle helps to identify the key signs of a toxic relationship and to rebuild your sense of self-worth, self-compassion, and self-love.
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202 Hits

Ambivalence, Relationships and Love Addiction

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We want love, but we are afraid of it. We seek out a relationship and then sabotage it the first chance we get. We want space and when we get it we are lonely. We can’t live without a relationship and we can’t live with it. What is going on here? It is simple. We are ambivalent.

Ambivalence is the number one problem in relationships today. We are no longer bound by a social order that dictates we marry and have children. We are no longer bound by a division of labor where the man has his duties [bread winner] and we have ours [domestic bliss]. We have choices and now we are confused.

I sometimes think that this is the lost generation and that in many respects my generation had it easy. I was told to stroke a man’s ego. I was told to let him make all the decisions. I was told that I should have children. Unfortunately, I was not meant to be a housewife and mother. I was born to write which is what I am doing now. So everyone around me suffered, especially my children, as I tried to find myself. I have thus concluded that even if this generation is confused and unhappy, so was mine.

I recently wrote an article about knowing yourself and it took me a long time to discover my true identify. So my heart goes out to young people today who have so many choices they don’t know what to choose. The media tells they can have it all and they believe this. So they run themselves ragged trying to take all that life has to offer. Then they reach middle age and are unhappy with life and the choices they made. They dream about starting over again and they can’t. They take control the situation, which has always served them in the past, and try to fix everything right now.

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Myths That Keep Us Feeling Sorry For Narcissists

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Narcissists are chameleons with the ability to appear to be just what you want and need, at least for the initial whirlwind part of the relationship. However, once they have established the relationship, the dynamics change rapidly, with the narcissist utilizing a variety of tactics and manipulations to keep you close. The relationship stops being about creating a partnership and becomes a focus on keeping them happy and their needs fulfilled.

The tactics that narcissists use in this process are easily recognized by those outside the relationship. They may also be evident to the partner, but the myths around narcissism can make it extremely difficult to leave.

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217 Hits

An Unconditional Relationship with Yourself

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As human beings, we have a compartmentalized hierarchical relationship with ourselves. That means that certain aspects of ourselves are okay and other aspects of us are not. 

In the context of evolution, by virtue that you are a human being, you are here to be all of it. You can’t make the choice to be human and then fundamentally disregard fifty percent of the human equation. It defeats the purpose of why you came in the first place. It would be like going to Disney World and hating Mickey Mouse!!

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Why Some People Attract Dysfunctional Relationships

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Most of us tend to pick partners who reflect the vision we have of ourselves and our world. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Compatibility and a sense of ease in a relationship come from having similar preferences, ideas, and values about things like money, religion, monogamy, parenting, and even what makes for good sex. The Legacy Project at Cornell University even did a study on this. They interviewed hundreds of people who had been married 40 or 50 years, and even longer. Most agreed that shared values are at the core of a healthy, long-lasting marriage.

But we don’t pick the people we’re with based on values alone.

We also choose people who have similar ideas about what relationships look like and how they should play out. This sounds good but it can also backfire.

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Learning To Trust After A Toxic Relationship

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A toxic relationship is an unhealthy relationship. These relationships typically include feelings of being unloved, unwanted, misunderstood, unsupported, belittled, or even attacked. While most people consider a toxic relationship emotional and psychological abuse, there can also be issues with physical abuse and domestic violence.

It is possible to find yourself in a toxic relationship and not really understanding how things got to that point. Often the toxic person is very good at hiding their abusive behavior at the beginning of the relationship. If the person is a narcissist, it can be difficult to understand the constant swings from overwhelming and grandiose acts of passion and love to absolute disdain and anger. The result is that you are constantly kept guessing what will happen next and doing everything you can to avoid the hostility and toxicity.

Signs of a Toxic Relationship

A few of the signs you are in a toxic relationship include:

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Setting The Trap: Dating Strategies Used By Narcissists

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There are many myths and misunderstandings around being in relationships with narcissists. One of the most common myths is that somehow people should be able to recognize a narcissist by simply checking off a few boxes on a handy dating checklist.

In reality, the behavior of a narcissist during the initial stages of a dating relationship is a carefully crafted façade. He or she does not use abusive language or ghost you on the first, second, or even the twentieth date. They do not try to manipulate in overt ways, but they do use subtle and often seemingly innocent behaviors to test the waters to determine the flexibility or the presence of boundaries.

Unfortunately, potential dating partners who have a history of emotional or physical abuse, abandonment, or dysfunctional families often lack boundaries. They fall into the trap of allowing the narcissist to begin to get his way, even over small things, which eventually lead to highly toxic behaviors that will become more significant as the relationship unfolds.

To help understand the trap the narcissist sets during the initial dating phase, let’s take a closer look at the strategies the narcissist employs. Based on your response, you may see more than one strategy in play, or the strategies may change over time.

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301 Hits

Don't Be Your Partner's Therapist!

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One of the important things I learned in my own marriage and in my work with clients is that a committed relationship is NOT supposed to be a therapeutic relationship. We can help each other to learn, grow and heal, but this is very different than a therapeutic relationship. In a marriage, or close committed relationship or friendship, we can help each other, but in a therapeutic relationship, one person is helping the other. This doesn't work well in a partnership.

Caretakers often enter relationships to 'fix' their partner.

Caretakers often see themselves as healthier or more evolved than their partner, and they go about trying to change their partner – 'for their own good.' This puts the caretaker in a one-up position, which may make the other person feel one-down. I often hear from a client whose partner is trying to fix them, or who sees themselves as the ‘healthy one’, "My partner is much healthier and more evolved than I am."

Since we come together at our common level of health or woundedness, I know that this statement isn't true - that it's indicative of an imbalance in the relationship and is what is causing some of the problems.

Sometimes one person expects the other person to listen the way a therapist would. A client in this position asked me,

"What should I do when he vents on me and expects me to listen to him like a therapist might listen to a client?"

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276 Hits

The Law Of Attraction And Relationship Issues

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Being addicted to love is not the same as being a sex addict, a drug addict or an alcoholic. Love addicts are drawn to people that initially cause them to feel part of a whole rather than as an isolated individual.

For a love addict being single and alone is a crisis. These are people that rely on others for their sense of identity, where the relationship becomes the focus of their lives. Needless to say, love addicts smother the partner, which only causes the partner to pull away while the love addict clings on and compounds the problem.

The other type of partner that is drawn to a love addict is a person who is completely self-centered. They may have narcissistic tendencies or have another type of personality disorder. These are often the “bad boys” of the world, seeming to do nothing but take in a relationship. Finding a partner that wants nothing to do but to give creates the perfect destructive relationship for both.

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Is Your Early Trauma Picking Your Partners?

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Most people have had at least one bad relationship in their life. For most individuals, this bad relationship was a blip on the radar, with the experience chalked up to a lesson learned.

However, there are also people who find themselves in the same toxic relationship over and over again. The partner may look different on the surface. Still, his behaviors, abusive ways, or emotional unavailability are exactly the same as the partners before.
Why do some people bounce back after a toxic relationship and move on to a healthy relationship while others are destined to repeat the same negative relationship cycle? The surprising answer is that this behavior may be directly related to early trauma in your childhood years.

The Legacy of Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma is more common than most people assume. For example, in a 2017 study by Grant Sara and Julia Lappin published in The Lancet Public Health Journal, one in four adults reported they were physically abused as kids, and one in eight reported sexual abuse.  As stated in my book, Love Smacked: How to Stop the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to Find Everlasting Love . “When we hold on to unresolved pain from childhood, especially trauma and abandonment, these wounds reemerge in adult relationships as toxic shame.”
Other types of childhood trauma can include:

•  Loss of a parent – the death of a close family member or a significant person in a child’s life can create trauma if the child is not allowed to grieve or does not receive the care and attention required to work through the grief.

• Multiple homes – children that are moved from home to home either within a family or through the foster care system are often traumatized as they have no place of comfort or belonging.

• Bullying and fear – this can be bullying from siblings, parents, or even within a community. This can be a single significant event or chronic types of fearful situations without the parental support and care needed for the child.

• Abandonment – children that are abandoned with friends, relatives, strangers, or even the other parent can be traumatized very early in life.
   
• Addicted parents – children that live in homes where they must take care of siblings and even their parents are often traumatized as they feel overwhelmed and helpless.

Attachment Styles and Choosing Partners 

Children that experience trauma early in life develop an anxious attachment style, which is sometimes called an anxious-preoccupied attachment style. These people are extremely fearful of being on their own as they obtain their validation and reason in life from being with someone else. Although they believe they need their partner for their identity, they often feel the partner does not care enough.

Signs of an anxious or anxious preoccupied attachment style include:
   
•  Extreme desire to please – these individuals will do anything to win the approval of their emotionally distant partners. This may include staying in physical abuse and toxic relationships.
      
• Clingy – the need to be physically close to the partner. This can initially seem attractive to some partners, but it quickly becomes overwhelming and smothering.
     
• Constant communication – in today’s always plugged-in world, this can include constant calling, texting, posting on social media, and even electronically tracking their partner.
       
• Constant reassurances – there is a constant need for reassurance the relationship is fine. This can become a constant in the relationship.

• Jumping into relationships – anxious attachment styles have short dating periods and then immediately into a serious and significant relationship.

These types of individuals attract people who need attention. The narcissist is the prime example of an individual who seeks out a person with an anxious attachment style as they crave the need for attention.

Tips Identifying Toxic Relationships 

It can be difficult to identify the signs of a toxic relationship if your childhood trauma has made it difficult to see the red flags in the relationship. Here are some tips you can use to determine if you are in a relationship with a toxic partner:

• Constant arguments – despite all you do to try to please the other person, it is never enough. You are always blamed for any difficulties or negativity.
   
• Jealousy – despite ignoring you or being emotionally distant, your partner may be very jealous of your relationships with others.
   
• Emotionally exhausted – taking responsibility for the happiness of another person while ignoring your own wellbeing is emotionally draining.

• Inability to end the relationship – if you believe you have to be in the relationship for your own happiness, despite being unhappy, and cannot break off the relationship, you may be in a toxic situation.

Working with a therapist or counselor with experience in healing from childhood trauma is perhaps the best way to identify the problem and begin the healing process.  You can also consider joining my online group coaching program Wake Up Recovery where you will receive support from me, as well as those like minded souls who have been where you have been.

298 Hits

How To Overcome Perfectionism

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When you can really accept there is no such thing as perfection, it frees you up to be perfect in your imperfections.”

Are you in a constant pursuit of being perfect in your life? Worried you’re going to make a mistake? Over analyzing everything? In today's episode, I dive deep into this thing called perfectionism where I will explore how this can limit your life in so many ways and the keys to moving through this kind of thinking to more freedom, more joy and more acceptance in life. Listen to this short, powerful episode where I share key steps to overcoming the need, the addiction to being perfect. Life is short. Have no regrets. Embrace it all. 

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What is your relationship with perfectionism?
  • How does someone become a perfectionist?
  • What are the keys to moving through perfectionism?
  • Is there such a thing as perfect art?
  • What are the gifts you see in your imperfections?

In This Episode You Will Learn:

  • The signs to look for that lead to perfectionism.
  • Key action steps you can immediately apply to help you move through perfectionism.
  • The key underlying intention of our drive to be perfect.
  • How to shift your relationship with your so-called imperfections.
  • The game-changing element to make peace with to resolve your relationship with perfection.
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The Sacred Practice Of Forgiveness: THE FOURTH ENERGY!

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It’s through our relationships with those close to us that we get to work out our spiritual growth — and I am no exception! 

My relationship with my mother was a container in which I received some of my deepest hurts and also have experienced the redemptive power of forgiveness, which is our Fourth Energy, Love. 

From my earliest days, I had such a love-hate relationship with my mom. She was a very complicated, confusing woman. She was absolutely riddled with contradictions. Like, if someone rang the doorbell and we weren’t expecting company, we had to immediately get away from the windows so no one could see us. But at the same time, she loved to show us off and have us look a certain way, dressed up like little dolls with curled hair and perfect clothing. 

She wanted to control everything — and me being me, I wanted to rebel, so we’d butt heads constantly. I was supposed to behave according to her rules. But at the same time, she’d be totally lenient in other ways. 

I remember wanting to skip school because I hadn’t studied for a test. She made up an illness for me and let me stay home. She was both my friend and tormentor — the definition of “frenemy.” 

When our family finances fell apart, the whole family fell apart. We were all a mess, emotionally and financially and spiritually. I was deep in my addiction to drugs and alcohol, and nearly lost my life to my addiction. I was out of control and out of balance in so many ways, including in respect to my fourth energy center, where love, compassion, and forgiveness reside. 

Creating a Balance of Love and Compassion

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483 Hits

Five Fantasies That Keep Us Apart

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When a society is deeply divided, a paradox is in force. On the one hand, people cry out for unity, while on the other hand, they keep on doing the very things that incite division. We are seeing this paradox grow stronger year by year in politics, but at bottom what we’re facing is a broken relationship. Society is a huge bundle of relationships, nothing more.

To stop being trapped in a paradox, you need a little practical psychology. The first step when a relationship falters, if you consider the situation psychologically, is to stop doing more of what didn’t work in the first place. The same holds true in a divided society.

As long as both sides engage in futile behavior, ending the divide between them isn’t going to happen. At a certain point a futile tactic turns into a fantasy. Here I’d define fantasy as a belief that runs contrary to reality. If you confront the realities of a situation but continue to ignore them, you are indulging in a fantasy.

Here are five fantasies that surround us right now. I’ll couch them in terms of a broken relationship.

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Confronting an Abusive Parent

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A woman wrote, asking:

“I am trying to connect with my family of origin. I’ve been working on my recovery for a bit over a year (ACA & Coda steps). I’d like to have a healthy relationship, with boundaries, of course, with my untreated family. But I can’t seem to have a relationship with my mother yet as I’m still processing my feelings from her abuse. I also feel that I need to confront her (when ready) to let her know my truth instead of ‘pretending’ that things are fine between us. This has been a DIFFICULT journey for me that affected my life. Though I know my mother can’t give me what I would like, I wonder if confronting her eventually would help ME with my relationship with her. I know some people don’t agree with confronting. I’m torn about this. I want to eventually have forgiveness for my mother, but I’m not there yet.”

 

The question you need to ask yourself is, “What do I hope to gain by confronting my a abusive mother or father?”

Here are some possible answers:

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Learning to Trust in Relationships

In a Time of Social Distancing and Social Media, Trust Remains Key In a Time of Social Distancing and Social Media, Trust Remains Key

The pandemic has created new rules for dating, with more people relying on technology to start relationships. When it comes to finding love and maintaining strong bonds, however, one thing has not changed: the need to establish trust.

Whether it’s romantic, friendly, professional, or familial, trust is essential in any relationship. Yet it can be difficult to establish and maintain trust. Many people carry emotional baggage from painful experiences in the past that prevent them from trusting others. Signs of lack of trust may include:

  • You aren’t sure you matter to the other person.
  • You have nagging doubts that your spouse or partner really loves you.
  • When they seem distant, you imagine it must be because of you (even though it may have nothing to do with you).
  • You fear you’ll be dumped at any time.
  • You find yourself fixating on these feelings.


If you have a persistent fear of being left or dumped, this may undermine the foundations of any type of relationship. If you feel lack of trust is a big problem for you that requires counseling, please seek it out. But if you’re simply looking to strengthen a relationship and increase your ability to love and trust, here are some things you can try:

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Realize the Real Purpose of Relationship

Realize the Real Purpose of Relationship Realize the Real Purpose of Relationship

How many men or women do you know that when a fight has begun – or even in the middle of one – they suddenly see and agree that to blame the other person for the state that they are in is a lie? How long would a fight go on between any two human beings if one of those individuals awakened sufficiently enough to see that the pattern of fighting with another person to prove that I’m right is in fact the proof that I’m in the wrong?  

Our experience has shown us that the fighting continues because we are not learning from the relationship. Instead we are burning over what someone or other has implied that we are or that we are not doing and therefore we are at fault. We are never at fault in our relationships until at last the fighting becomes so egregious that we can’t hide the truth from ourselves anymore. And by the time we reach that point with other human beings, we have most often ruined whatever little love had brought us together in the first place.  

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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