Your Relationship With Yourself Is The Foundation Of Everything

Your Relationship With Yourself Is The Foundation Of Everything

Susannah Conway, author of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, said it best when she wrote, “Your relationship with yourself is the foundation of everything.” But what does a healthy relationship with ourselves look like? And how can we develop a good relationship with ourselves if we are unsure of what that is or what that looks like?

A good relationship with ourselves would look the same way a good relationship with anyone looks. It entails respect, kindness, awareness, fulfillment, having needs met, friendship and creating stress-free memories.Here are some ways that we can cultivate a good relationship with ourselves that will influence the relationships we have with others.

Start With Self-Care
We need to look after our physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual needs to nourish ourselves on many level. Focusing on caring for ourselves in this most basic way establishes self-respect and healthy habits. It also sends a message of self-love to ourselves, which is the most important component of caring for oneself.

Make Time For What Is Important To You
If you feel good taking time for your first cup of coffee or browsing the bookstore to find a perfect book that uplifts or entertains you, be sure to take the time on a regular basis to give this gift to yourself and brighten your day. Whatever your favorite soothing activity is, be sure to carve out space in your schedule to allow such experiences.

Identify And Set Boundaries
The boundaries we establish for ourselves will have a great impact on the boundaries we set in our relationships. By not allowing ourselves to work too hard, play too little and spend too much, we will be looking out for ourselves as well as identifying appropriate ways to interact with others. Moderation in how we live and avoiding extremes is an ideal way to be centered and stay in that healthy zone.

Be Your Best Friend
Because a relationship with ourselves is the only relationship we can depend on having every single day of our lives, it is most important that we are our own best friends. By developing a positive, nurturing and loving relationship with the most important aspect of our lives (that is, ourselves), we build a strong foundation for all other relationships that follow.

It is often said that we continually repeat the relationship we develop with ourselves with all the other relationships we have in our lives, so it is essential that it is a caring, respectful and nourishing one.

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.

 

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Social Behavior And An Unhealthy Work Environment

social media at work

When most of us think of an unhealthy work environment we think "sick building syndrome," difficult co-workers or the classic "boss from hell."

After attending a conference that was populated by a number of staffing agency directors, I received insight into the latest unhealthy work issue that is gaining the attention of a lot of organizations. OFBTM – Obsessive Facebook and Text Messaging while on the clock. It is becoming such a concern to some employees that more and more companies are having their computer networks re-tooled to block Facebook from being accessible from the office computers.

Unbecoming Habits

How much of a problem is it that a significant number of those raised on electronic communication and networking cannot stop checking their Facebook and Text Messaging while they are being paid to do the job tasks required of them? That employers are noticing and concerned about this trend affecting their productivity and even their bottom line, says something important about immediate communication impulse and what is being called "the narcissistic tendency" we are developing as a culture.

The focus and integrity to attend to the job we are expected to perform as well as the ability or willingness not to pay attention to ourselves when we are getting paid to be working, seems to be lacking today more than ever before. Cell phones, e-mails, text messages, social networking, Facebook and other electronic forms of communication have begun to hold our attention prisoner, even when we are on the job. Not only is this unfair to the individual or organization paying our salary, but it also sends up a red flag about how we are growing more and more self-absorbed as a culture.

Social Media And Health 

Can someone be healthy when they are overly concerned about the moment to moment activities of their lives? There are (most commonly in humor columns) reported Facebook posts by individuals who literally record every minor thought and event of their day, posting them publically for all their friends and fans to read. Is it true that we are becoming a narcissistic society unable to pull ourselves away from the details of our lives? Is the problem so invasive that we no longer put in "an honest day's work"?

Health is made up of many things. Being productive, making a contribution, working hard and enjoying what you do are all pieces of a healthy lifestyle. If social networking and electronic communication is pulling you further away from a balanced and healthy work life, it may be time to unplug and unlink.

Present, Productive, and Fulfilled

Finding fulfillment and feeling commitment about what we do in our work, as well as how we do the work, is an important part of being a productive, contributory, healthy, happy individual. 

Excessive electronic communication can not only be self-centering but can also distract us from other essential aspects that are part of a balances life. It’s something to consider.

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How Love Affects Your Brain

 

HOW LOVE AFFECTS YOUR BRAIN

Love affects us in many ways. Much of this is felt more than it is seen, but did you know that love affects your brain in ways that can be observed? I recently read a fascinating article that discussed a study from Stony Brook University in New York. The study examined whether couples can still be very much in love after spending many married years together and whether they experience the same intense romantic feelings as newly formed couples. Continue reading to find out what research has discovered about how love affects your brain over a long period of time.

MRIs Show Brain Regions Stimulated By Love

The scientists took MRIs of long-term married couples who said they still felt very much in love with their spouses after an average of more than 21 years together. These images were compared to images from couples who had recently fallen in love. In this way, scientists were able to compare specific parts of the brain that function and respond to love.

The images were created while the subjects were shown photos of their beloved as well as photos of close friends and strangers. The brain activity was measured while the subject viewed the images. Then, using the same scanning methodology, the researchers compared the imaging results on men and women who reported falling in love in the past year.

Clear Similarities

The scans showed “many very clear similarities between those who were in love long-term and those who had just fallen madly in love,” says Arthur Aron, Ph.D., of Stony Brook’s department of psychology. The scientists were particularly interested in the dopamine region of the brain—the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. “The VTA showed greater response to images of a long-term partner when compared with images of a close friend or any of the other facial images,” Aron says.

Applying This Knowledge To Improve Relationships

The researchers are hoping that the study might be able to provide or demonstrate the details of how some couples can stay in love over long periods of time. This study seems to show both groups have brain activity in the regions that are wired for reward, motivation and desire.

To apply this research, Aron is looking into the possibility of using the study outcomes to assist soldiers who have returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to save their marriages. There is an unusually high level of divorce among deployed U.S. military. Perhaps this new information can help to improve the strength of their relationships during the stressful time of separation during deployment.

For a free chapter download on how to immediately improve your relationship communication skills, visit www.changingbehavior.org.

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Postpartum Adjustments Aren’t Limited To Mom

Postpartum Affects Men too, relationships

As a mother of three children, I remember thinking after the births of my children: “Why doesn’t anyone tell the truth about the stress of having a baby or caring for multiple children?” Fortunately, there were plenty of other new moms I could commiserate with about the reality, opposed to the romanticized version, of childbirth and parenting. Still, it’s worth noting that the postpartum adjustment I was struggling with doesn’t only affect women.

The Science Of The Adjustment

It took time and many personal adjustments to fit myself into the role of mom. Along the way were experiences of anxiety. I also read many parenting books, having a sense that I was “learning on the job” with no prior training or knowledge of how to do this.

The fact that moms can feel that way comes as no surprise to those of us who have children. What does surprise people is that many dads also can experience high anxiety, stress, and postnatal depression after the birth of their children.

A British population study obtained psychological questionnaires from 8,431 fathers and 11,833 mothers. Interesting data emerged, relating to postnatal depression in fathers. The study gathered data at three different intervals after the birth of the child: 8 weeks, 21 months and 3.5 years.

The outcomes demonstrated that children born to fathers who experience postnatal depression are twice as likely at the age of 3 to have behavioral problems as children born to fathers who do not experience postnatal depression. This was found to be consistent even after maternal depression was factored out.

New Relationship Focus

What parents are often not prepared for after the joyful birth of their children is the accompanying loss of their personal identity as both an autonomous individual and a romantic partner. After the birth of a baby, the child rightfully becomes the center of concern and attention. The personal and social time and activities that had been couple-centered now become baby-centered.

Spouses can feel abandoned, lonely, or isolated from their partners after the birth of even the most long-awaited and beloved child. Parenthood brings with it enormous joy and equally enormous stresses.

It is best to discuss such feelings and express the negative as well as the positive emotions of parenthood. This is healthier than feeling guilty and turning frustrations into potential depression. As always, the three important rules to sustaining a happy relationship and family are: communicate, communicate and communicate.

For a free download on relationship communication skills that can keep you well connected with your partner, visit http://www.changingbehavior.org/.

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Want To Make Your Partner Happy?

When couples are asked what it is in their relationship that makes them feel fulfilled, they inevitably answer that they feel “understood and cared about.” In contrast, bad feelings and unhappiness stem from the realization that the person we are most intimate with and care most deeply about doesn’t understand who we are and what we are feeling.

The Great Unknown

In order to feel loved, we must first experience that others understand and regard us as good and valuable human beings. If your significant other doesn’t get who you are and how you feel, you’re left with a sense of being misjudged. It can also lead to loneliness because only someone who truly knows us, rather than just thinks they know us, can love us for who we actually are.

When you are in a relationship, you do not want to continually explain yourself to another person or to justify your values, beliefs, or choices you make in your life. If, after a time, a partner cannot be really present, listening to what you have to share and sharing their own thoughts and feelings, the relationship begins to deteriorate. This is why one of the important focal points in good couples counseling is learning what is called “active listening.”

Active Listening

The main purpose of active listening is to let your partner know that you are truly listening and hearing what they say. It is demonstrating that that you are really “present," meaning your significant other has your full attention.

When you give someone your full attention, you can better understand how they feel, and you can grasp their point of view and opinions involved in the important discussions that make up all relationships.

Time To Reflect

A key component of active listening is reflection. You have to consider what your partner is trying to communicate so that you can be sure that you understand your partner’s message. Then you don’t misinterpret what your partner is saying.

When you do this, you should ask questions to clarify, such as, “Are you saying that you were upset that I did not go to your aunt’s house for dinner on Sunday, even though you said it didn’t matter if I went or not?”

Communication Is Key

Partners must work together to achieve clarification of communication, participation in active communication and active listening to allow a relationship to take on a greater depth, intimacy and fulfillment. Effective communication is always the key to any good relationship. 

For a free chapter download about changing behavior, visit changingbehavior.org.

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
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Happiness: It’s Easier Than You Think

If you ask most people what they want in their lives and what is most important, they will likely tell you that they “want to be happy.” The desire for happiness is a universal want. It transcends culture, geography, age, and social status. The topic of happiness even finds its way into the academia, an example of its pervasiveness.

The most popular course at Harvard Medical School is a course on happiness. Taught by Harvard psychology professor Tal D. Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., the course is so popular that students wait a year or longer to get in.

A Different Take

Happiness is traditioanlly defined as a state of well-being and contentment, joy, a pleasurable or satisfying experience; yet many people report that happiness is elusive or too often fleeting at best.

Modern happiness gurus like Ben-Shahar offer an altered take on what happiness is or can be. They invite us to walk around the subject and take a different look at the almost mystical feeling called happiness. They suggest not an “I’ll be happy when…” perspective, but allowing ourselves to see how happiness can be enjoyed anytime we choose to have gratitude and joy about the daily, simple blessings in our life.

Happy Right Now

The lesson is that there are things we can be happy about right now and continue to be happy about throughout the day, no matter what else has happened or is going on. These things and experiences are already built into our lives, and it is just a matter of focusing on the simple pleasures and joys these opportunities can provide.

Things That Spark Happiness:

  • The peace and tranquility of rising early in the morning.
  • Listening to birds singing.
  • Watching strangers laugh and smile.
  • Working cooperatively with others.
  • Curling up with a good book on a rainy day.
  • The pleasure of lying down on clean, soft bedding.
  • Time with your best friend.
  • Being kissed.
  • The smell of apple pie baking.
  • A moment of love shared with family.
  • A home-cooked meal.
  • A freshly cleaned bathroom.
  • A long, hot bath or shower.
  • Music that moves you.
  • Sharing stories and memories.
  • Being hugged.
  • Breathing deeply.
  • Completing a task or project.
  • Time in a garden.

Think of all the things in your day that can bring joy or happiness when you allow yourself to be in the moments of your life, and share your hours and days with others and with yourself. Happiness is all around us. It is often just a matter of allowing ourselves to embrace it.

For a free chapter download about changing behavior, visit changingbehavior.org.

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
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How Beliefs Affect Healing

Given the way the health sciences have been taught in medical and nursing schools, it is perfectly understandable for practitioners who engaged in physician or nursing training more than 25 years ago to think the placebo effect didn’t make sense. Instead, it was considered just another popular explanation for a sudden healing–a “spontaneous remission.” It is a leap for many to accept that a person could think or believe something and that this simple act of belief could heal them.

Create Your Reality

Up until the last twenty or so years, research scientists did not have a grasp on how the brain and our emotions worked to create our reality. The subject of emotions has been and still is very much “uncharted waters” in behavioral science. However, what is well documented today is how the various brain waves function. We know what part of the brain each of the various brain waves control and stimulate and, most importantly, what emotions actually are.

The “beta waves” are allow us to focus on the words on this blog and comprehend, in the moment, what is intellectually being communicated. These waves are produced in the frontal lobe, which is the seat of intellectual functioning. Thinking, analyzing, reasoning and so forth occur in this part of the brain.

The “alpha waves” are the slower brain waves which originate in the mid-brain. These allow access to our unconscious thinking or what some refer to as the soul. All thought processes, be it from the beta wave or alpha wave region of the brain, are actually chemical reactions that produce specific proteins that communicate with our immune cell membranes and other cell membranes of our body.

Hope In Action

The specific thoughts we think and the region of the brain they originate in have an identifiable chemistry that has been shown to create dramatic changes in our physical bodies. In Dr. Paul Pearsall’s ground breaking book “The Hearts Code” he tell many amazing mind/body stories. One in particular is a striking example of how powerful thoughts and images are. The is about a schizophrenic patient who demonstrated completely different disease states depending on the personality she was exhibiting. Ultra sounds, cat-scans, and lab tests all confirmed that one of her personalities had a massive cancerous tumor. Yet when she went into a different personality state, all of her previous pathology disappeared.

Our brains are the ultimate manifestors of matter. The chair you are sitting on was a thought before it became that chair. Thoughts ARE “things.”  Thoughts in action are what manifest reality. A previous blog mentioned a woman who was cured of her stiffness after the a surgery. Her mind manifested a different set of thoughts through her hopes and expectations for the outcome of the surgery. Her brain waves and proteins created positive chemistry, which communicated with her immune system through its cell membranes. The results: She became healthier and could “stride across the room.”

Positive Outlook

The idea of mind over matter is a powerful one. Nonetheless, this science, and our understanding of its amazing chemistry, is in its infancy stage. In the future we will take the possibility of healing ourselves with thought and imagery for granted just as we do with people having an organ transplant–which was thought unheard of not that long ago.

In the meantime, we can all improve our health, success, and happiness but learning to improve our “self-speak” and reinforce our bodies and minds with positive words, thoughts, and images.

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Our Pets Improve Our Health

While it may be difficult to get Americans to collectively agree on the many issues, it seems that when it comes to pets and the value we place on them, there is little disagreement. The 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association survey reported that an astounding 65% of all American households have a pet. An identified 79.7 households have dogs–over 100 million of them in all. Cat owner households total 42.9 million. Fresh water fish, birds, reptiles and horses, along with small animals such as rabbits, hamsters, and others make up another 25-27 million pets.  

Americans, it seems, have also come to view and treat their pets in human terms. No longer satisfied with relegating the family pet to its own domain, today’s pet lovers are demanding the highest quality products and services for those they love. The idea of buying a simple dog chew or catnip toy now takes a back seat to designer sweaters and jewelry for our beloved companions. The current trend of dog hotels instead of kennels, indoor animal toilets, perfume, a hugely popular service “doggie dates” and exotic animal sitting services have found their way into today’s pet economy.

For the most passionate pet lover, faux mink coats, lumberjack vests, designer jackets, matching jeweled leather collar and leash sets, Halloween costumes, and holiday outfits are becoming part of the new “pet fashion.” Safety seats for transporting pets in vehicles are also becoming popular. One of the larger pet expenditures is pet food. These days the pet food aisle looks strikingly similar to the rest of the “human food” aisles in chain grocery stores. Specialized, balanced gourmet meals are readily available in the refrigerator section as well as a plethora of animal treats, vitamins, and supplements. Special diet foods for the senior pet population offer life extension and prolonged health.

The country's household expenditures on pets for 2015-16 was in excess of 62.75 billion dollars. It is easy to imagine that this number must be a mistake as this is more money being spent on pets in the United State than the gross national product numbers for all but 64 countries around the world. This 62.75 billion dollar figure also represents almost double the approximately $35 billion dollars Americans spend on going to movies, playing video games, or for listening to recorded music.

The approximate 20% of non-pet households are for the most part made up of individuals with allergies, or who live in apartments or other environments that do not welcome pets, and those who have no time left in their over-scheduled lives to care for a pet. It seems people of all ages, ranging from infants to very elderly, enjoy and welcome the company of pets. The presence of pets is so popular today that some nursing facilities now have therapy pets at the facility on a regular basis. The one down side to this practice is that sometimes the residents start arguing and competing over who gets to keep the cat, dog, or bird with them for the day.

What fuels our passion for pets? It is really quite simple. Our pets love us unconditionally. They listen to us when we speak, provide companionship without politics or the agenda of most relationships. They accept our love and affection the way we chose to give it, without complaint, and they provide us in return with affection and loyalty. They are the ultimate loving family member, and we are now treating them as such. Can anyone blame us?

Social networking has become the way we communicate and “do” relationships. These days it is often over e-mail and texting messages that we are starting relationships or ending them, sharing major life events–even proposing marriage. The intimate contact of human connections we had even 15 years ago before the dominance of the internet and cell phones is now being replaced by our pets.

Pets are not only beloved companions, but they are also taking on the role of healers. Dogs have been long known for their service as seeing eye dogs, but the use of dogs and other pets in many areas of healing and health monitoring are becoming more widespread. Dogs who alert their companions for seizures or “sniff out” cancer or horses that assist with helping autistic children to interact with others are easily found on the news or internet.

A recent study by researcher Dr. Karen Allen at the State University of New York at Buffalo identified that individuals suffering from hypertension when adopting a dog or cat had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than their counterparts who did not have a pet companion. The National Institute of Technology Assessment Workshop, Health Benefits of Pets, identified that pets provide greater psychological stability, which us protects not only from heart disease and other stress related conditions but also reduces depression. In the same study, pets have been shown to lower the cost of health care as individuals with pets make fewer doctor visits, especially “for non-serious medical conditions.”

A Perdue University study demonstrated that when seniors face traumas or other forms of adversity, the affection received by their pets and the bond between them helps prevent depress and loneliness. As a means of enhancing our psychological and physical well-being, pets have the power to love us, heal us, and help us to live longer. If only we could get other humans to do so with the same honesty and loyalty that our pet companions provide us.

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Apologies: Men vs Women

For most of us, it does not come as a surprise that men and women think, behave, and are in many ways fundamentally different from one another. We also know that hormones play a large role in these differences. Now science is beginning to unravel the specifics of how male and female brains function, in large part because of male and female hormones that craft our brain development and orient our behaviors. These differences in brain function and hormones may be the reason why men and women approach apologizing in completely different manners.

Two new studies look at the brain function of men and women and offer some interesting observations regarding the subject. One study is from the University of California in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, led by researcher Richard Haier, a psychology professor at the University of California.

The findings of their study show that generally men have 6.5 times the amount of gray matter relating to general intelligence compared with women. Women on the other hand have nearly 10 times the amount of white matter related to intelligence compared to men. "These findings suggest that human evolution has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior," said Haier. But apparently these types of intelligent behaviors manifest differently.

Women apologize more often than men do, according to a new study led by researcher Karina Schumann, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. It appears it is not that men are reluctant to admit wrongdoing, they simply have a different perception regarding what they feel rises to the level of requiring an apology.

The research team saw no difference in the number of times men and women acted in ways that elicited apologies, but there was a distinct difference in the male and female perception of what constituted a situation that requires an apology.

"Men aren't actively resisting apologizing because they think it will make them appear weak or because they don't want to take responsibility for their actions," says Schumann. "It seems to be that when they think they've done something wrong they [men] do apologize just as frequently as when women think they've done something wrong. It's just that they think they've done fewer things wrong.”

For more information about this topic, you can access a free excerpt from my bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
888-354-4325 Take charge of your health!

Learn To Love Yourself

With such a strong emphasis on achievement, accumulation, and recognition in our society, we can easily become discouraged or disappointed with who or what we perceive ourselves to be, especially in how we stack up in the “pecking order” with those around us. That's why it is more important than ever that you learn to love yourself and recognize that the relationship you have with yourself is more important than any other.

Being happy with ourselves is a choice that each of us can make every day by taking simple and practical steps to develop habits of happiness. It starts with creating an environment to work and live in that reduces our stress and work load and brings order and ease, making our work and our living easier.

This uplifting environment can also provide us the experience of soothing tranquility rather than focusing on the disorder and chaos that often defines the working and living environments we find ourselves in.

Cleaning out desk drawers, closets, discarding excess, and re-defining what is important to keep and what feels good to get rid of is a first step to creating a peaceful and happy living or working space. Creating an environment that truly resonates with our values is like building an oasis in the desert. By eliminating the need to accumulate more and more “things” around us, we can unburden ourselves in creating a more orderly, relaxing, and peaceful space to live and work in.

This is also true with friends and acquaintances. Just like with material things, we can also accumulate unnecessary or unwanted relationships that can make demands on our time and energy and often insert negativity or sap our physical or financial resources. Clearing out the toxic or unhealthy relationships we may have can bring personal renewal and further our sense of happiness and contentment.

Take the time to appreciate family. For most of us, there are few individuals who have done more for us than our family members. This includes anyone and everyone in our family who support us, are there when we need them, and provide a “safe harbor” throughout our lives.

Losing loving family members can be devastating but no more so than when we fail to appreciate them as they are helping us along life’s bumpy road. By taking time to give back and express our gratitude to those who care and nurture us will not only bring them pleasure and a sense of being appreciated, but it will give us a reminder of how loved and cared for we are, allowing us to feel more content and happy with being who we are. This reminds you to stop and love yourself too.

 

For more information about this topic you can access a free excerpt from the bestselling book Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn Proven Communication Skills by visiting www.changingbehavior.org.

FREE Whole Health Consultations available.
888-354-4325 Take charge of your health!