Tag Archives: mental health

How to Kick the Routine of Love Right Now

2-1/2 minutes to read

“It was my own lovely lady and she said, ‘Aw it’s you.’ Then we laughed for a moment and I said, ‘I never knew…’” ∞ Rupert Holmes

Want to fall in love in the New Year? Have your eye on someone special – like your spouse? Of all the gifts you can give your mate, children, and yourself, none tops falling and staying in love. But how do you prevent your marriage from becoming dull and routine or get it out of this state if it’s already there?

How to Kick the Routine of Love Right Now

Fitness Benefits of a Loving Marriage

Studies show married people’s physical and mental fitness exceeds that of unmarried people. They are happier, live longer, drink less, and have fewer doctors’ appointments. Loving spouses encourage positive behavior such as exercise and flossing while discouraging unhealthy ones like heavy drinking. When you’re experiencing the positive effects of love you’ll get fewer colds and wounds may heal more quickly.

Many longtime married couples pine for the heady days of new love. When the brain activity of longtime married couples was compared to couples newly in love, while both had neural activity associated with intense pleasure, the newer couples also had high levels of anxiety, tension, and obsession. The uncertainty of these relationships in part cancelled out the pleasure effect. Seasoned spouses remember the good feelings but forget the stress.

Avoiding the Routine of Love

Key, then, is maintaining that lovin’ feeling. For a long time, researchers believed eliminating conflict and tension led to enduring marriages. But more recent studies indicate that boredom is worse. Like I wrote about previously, love and hate are two sides of the same coin. Indifference destroys relationships.

That being the case, you need to invest some time and energy keeping your marriage vital. Here are three easy, fun ways:

  1. Find out something about your spouse you never knew before. No matter how long you’ve been together you don’t know everything. Periodically pretend you’re on a first date. Does she like Piña Coladas? Does he like to walk in the rain?
  2. Unexpectedly serve your spouse. Do it purely for love’s sake. Bring her breakfast in bed. Get his car washed for him.
  3. Praise your spouse. Who doesn’t like receiving a compliment? Make it pointed, sincere, and intentional.

Make sure these habits that don’t become habitual. Spontaneity is good (as long as your spouse likes surprises). They need not be elaborate. Heartfelt interactions with the desire to connect will keep dullness away. More than a feeling, as your marriage matures love is an action. Just like doing the same exercise over and over yields diminishing returns, so too do the same expressions of love.

Habits are good. But your routine of love should embrace discovery, service, and sincere connection.

How do you keep love alive in your marriage? Please comment below.

How to Conquer Negative Self-Talk

3 minutes to read

You make a mistake or cause a major foul up. What’s the audio loop that plays in your head? Does it include words like stupid or bonehead? Do you accuse yourself of always messing up or never getting it right? Given the choice between a benign spin on your actions or berating yourself do you inevitably choose to give yourself a couple of swift kicks? You’ve embraced negative self-talk.

How to Conquer Negative Self-Talk

You Cannot Control Your Thoughts

Despite all of the articles and blog posts purporting to teach you how to control your thoughts you can’t. Harvard University psychologist Daniel Wegner’s research has shown that trying very hard not to think about something almost guarantees that you will think about it. But you don’t need a Ph.D. to know this is true. Think about the last time your spouse or child criticized you. The harder you tried to forget it the more often it came to mind. Perhaps just reading this article has stirred a recollection of some regrettable blunder. Sorry about that.

Part of the problem is we talk to ourselves all day long. But most of the time we pay little attention to the dialogue going on in our heads. We focus on upcoming tasks or music. These drown out harmless daily musings.

We’ve been conditioned to reject positive self-talk. We fear that if we verbalized these thoughts, we’d be labeled conceited or narcissistic. So, like our neutral self-talk, we habitually discard the upbeat things we think about ourselves.

That leaves negative self-talk as the only inner voice we embrace. No wonder when something goes wrong you hear your inner critic loud and clear. It has an open microphone in your head and a captive audience.

Verbalize Positive Self-Talk

So if intentional thought control doesn’t work, what does?

Drown out the negative chorus chanting in your mind.

While general affirmations are fine, you’ll do better to write specific ones aimed at conquering the worst things you say about yourself. If your inner voice scolds you for lacking self-control, combat it by saying out loud and with conviction, “I am disciplined. I control myself and do not succumb to temptation.”

When recommending this to a woman who sought my counsel she felt saying such a thing would be dishonest.

So is it true you’re always the negative view of yourself? I doubt it. The best way to make positive change is to see yourself as already having accomplished it. In that light, positive self-talk is more honest.

You may feel uncomfortable or silly at first. If so find a private place where you won’t be interrupted. I’ve used the shower and my car. Just like singing, you get nice resonance in the shower.

You cannot turn off negative self-talk. But you can conquer it by replacing the impulse to self-criticism with the habit of self-understanding. Some of the skirmishes will be disappointing but it’s a war well worth winning.

How do combat negative self-talk? Please comment below.

Can You Love Enough to Let Someone Hate You?

2 minutes to read

Love is easy when you’re on vacation or going out for a nice dinner. And I’m sure your hearts merge when watching your kid win the big game or give an amazing performance on stage! But when your spouse spews vitriol you need every ounce of patience to listen without retaliating. After all, if he loved you he wouldn’t treat you this way.

Can You Love Enough to Let Someone Hate You?

Love & Hate Aren’t Opposites

People automatically think the opposite of love is hate. But as I’ve written previously, the opposite of love is indifference. Rebuilding a marriage infected with apathy is much harder than when the “pots and pans are flying.” But long before divorce becomes a consideration a lot of bitter words can be exchanged. When this happens the tendency is for one or both partners to withdraw from the relationship. The seeds of permanent disinterest have been sown.

Ideally, such arguments won’t happen. But a conflict-free marriage is very rare and may not be desirable. Even if you are naturally inclined to an even temperament, the stresses of life can take their toll. Of course, it would be better if your partner didn’t let off steam in the marriage. Nonetheless, since it’s going to happen better be prepared.

Disengage to Preserve Love

Rather than battling it out, the best way to maintain lifelong love is to withdraw when you’re attacked. You don’t have to physically leave, although that might work. Instead of thinking about your next verbal volley, intensely focus on anything other than the person. Especially if your partner’s rant has no basis, engaging will only make it worse.

The ultimate test of love is your willingness to endure someone temporarily hating you. By being indifferent during the argument, you can minimize the long-term damage. When the episode has passed you won’t be wrapped up in negativity. You’ll be better prepared to repair whatever harm has been done.

By using such planned bouts of short-term apathy, you can prevent the more permanent kind from taking root. And, you’ll keep the bond of love in your relationship alive.

How do you minimize the negative effect of arguments on your marriage? Please comment below.

You’re Responsible But It’s Not Your Fault

“Some people find fault like there is a reward for it” ∞ Zig Ziglar

Remember when you were a kid and broke your mom’s favorite vase or your dad’s golf club? Fear of discovery ate at you. When the deed was uncovered, the search for the culprit started and you had two choices: confess or lie. Usually, the second one only added to the guilt you felt and the punishment you received when the truth finally came to light. To this day I dread being told, “IT’S YOUR FAULT!” Don’t you?

You’re Responsible But It’s Not Your Fault

The Fear of Being Blamed

The shame of reproach negatively impacts children’s self-perception. And the humiliation they feel encourages them to lie or try to shift the blame to someone or something else. (How many guilt-evading children have wrongfully condemned the family dog?) The stigma remains when they get older. Often, they develop an aversion to any kind of criticism. They’re robbed of input that forms the basis for growth.

Parents have rightly stopped blaming their children for making mistakes. But many have also stopped holding their children accountable. Coupled with praising them for the most mundane acts, children grow into immature adults.

The Benefits of Being Responsible

Rather than blaming children when they make mistakes or act out, it’s better to hold them responsible for their behavior. The benefits are twofold:

  1. Being held responsible sounds a lot like being blamed. But children also can be told they’re responsible for the good things they do. In this way, they learn there is a positive side to exercising responsibility. Maturity comes in part from understanding this duality.
  2. There is no stigma to being responsible. The person responsible for good things, such as scoring a winning goal or discovering something that will benefit the world, receives acclaim. The person who accepts responsibility when things go wrong is respected for being honest. No matter how you feel about his policies, most people like the sign President Harry Truman had on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here!”
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Even Mature Adults Hate Being Blamed

Do you point your finger at your spouse? The blame game in a marriage causes permanent damage. But when spouses hold each other mutually responsible they incentivize themselves to work together to find solutions to the challenges they face.

Next time you’re tempted to find fault, consider the long-term effects. Will your children mature into responsible adults if they learn to loathe criticism and shift blame to avoid being stigmatized? Are you strengthening your bond with your spouse?

Forget finger pointing. Instead act responsibly and expect responsible behavior in return. Your family and friends will love you for it.

How do you hold your children or spouse responsible?

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How to Remake Your Past & Unlock the Future

Mistakes, missed opportunities, and disappointments: the past can be a heavy burden to bear. Common wisdom advises moving on. The past is over and done with. It can’t be changed. Opportunity lies in the future. While the latter is true, you can remake your past.

How to Remake Your Past & Unlock the Future

During the early 1990s, I came close to losing my business. Having gambled a lot of money on expansion, I lost my bet. Saddled with debt and shrinking income, my prospects for success dimmed. Yet four years later I was making more money than ever before. Given my struggle, there’s no denying 1991-1993 were terrible years, right?

Your Past Is Malleable

Indeed at the time I felt embattled. My self-respect plunged. I hated going to the office but aside from running in the morning and picking up a game of tennis now and then, had nowhere else to go.

Yet by the late 1990s, I looked back on those years quite differently. I learned a lot of practical skills and lessons. I realized the benefit of persistence and focus. All of the audio programs I’d listened to: Zig Ziglar, Roger Dawson, and Earl Nightingale, made sense.

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By reframing the struggle and hardship, I literally remade the past. No longer was it about pain and suffering. Rather it was a time of change and growth.

How to Remake Your Past

Though counterintuitive, you can only change your past. How you view events in your life creates the reality of your life experiences.

  • Did you make a terrible mistake? Distill the lessons from it and make it meaningful, even beneficial.
  • What opportunities have you missed? Use them to create objectives for the future. Change them from regrets to motivation that will propel you to a goal.
  • Were you disappointed by a family member or lost friendship? Heal yourself by reconciling with the person or avoiding a similar issue with someone else. The stronger relationships that result will transform sorrow into closeness and joy.

Write down the events in your past that fester in your mind. Find what is positive in them or something you can do to change their meaning. Talk to your spouse or a trusted friend to get ideas, someone who sees life positively. Be sure to record this new perspective.

The Future is Static

By its nature, the future is one-dimensional. We tend to look at the future as having limitless opportunity. While this is true, since it hasn’t happened yet we have no basis for interpreting it. The future is fixed in the realm of potential. Only when they are past can you attach true meaning to events.

Given how pliable the past is, vow you won’t just move on, with all the potential this holds for repeating life’s mistakes. The best way to create greater potential for the future is to remake your past. Start today.

How will you remake your past?

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