“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” -Unknown
For many years I maintained a relationship that I was not happy with. I’m sure a lot of people have been there, or are there right now. I didn’t feel there was equality in the relationship; I always seemed to be the one giving, yet I consistently felt I was getting nothing out of it.
A close friend of mine asked me why I tolerated the behavior of the person in question.
As usual, a few excuses passed through my mind: the other person was …
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” ~Paul Boese
In a previous post about forgiveness, I mentioned that I spent years holding onto anger toward someone who hurt me repeatedly years ago.
I eventually realized that forgiving this person was the only way to set myself free. The resentment, bitterness, and sometimes pure rage were slowly killing me. They manifested in emotional and physical illness, constricting my life so that I was little more than the sum of my grievances and pains.
At many points I strongly believed my emotions would consume me, bit …
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” ~Ralph Nichols
Did you know that one in ten U.S adults suffer from depression? (This is according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.) How do I know? I was one of them. Starting in 2008, I suffered from depression for more than a year.
Many factors contributed to my depression. Of course loneliness and lack of social support were the obvious factors, but the major contributor was that I didn’t feel understood. …
“To have a friend and be a friend is what makes life worthwhile.” ~Unknown
I lost my beloved husband from complications following a routine surgery. His sudden death changed every facet of my life and rocked me to my knees. Now, more than a year after his passing, I am openly speaking of my grief experience with others and sharing how I’ve coped being a young widow.
I was asked recently what was one of the great lessons I learned from losing my husband, and I knew what my answer was without hesitation: the importance of having a diversified life.…
“No feeling is final.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke
I met him the last semester of college and was instantly attracted to him. I was definitely attracted to him physically, but it was the way he sat in class with such quiet confidence and mystery that made me long to know him.
I practically drooled all over my desk whenever he spoke, but couldn’t even bring myself to say, “Hello.” One night out, I saw him standing by the bar. I told my friend that I had a crush on him and she promptly gave me two choices: Go speak to him …
“You change for two reasons: Either you learn enough that you want to, or you’ve been hurt enough that you have to.” ~Unknown
I learned about boundary work when I was teaching in the NYC jails with male prisoners.
After driving onto a maximum security island of electric, clanging gates, I encountered metal detectors, hallways filled with yelling, chaotic inmates, and tension and anxiety in the air that was almost tangible.
I started my workday tensed up and ended it drained, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
In other areas of my life, the same thing was happening. In my personal relationships, I …
“At the end of life, our questions are very simple: Did I live fully? Did I love well?” ~Jack Kornfield
We all grow up with some healthy stories about love and some unhealthy ones. I learned some beautiful, life-giving ideas about love, ideas like these:
- Loving people means believing in their potential.
- Love means treating people with kindness and gentleness.
- Loving the people in your life means celebrating their successes and cheering them on.
But I also grew up with some stories about love that I came to see weren’t so helpful. Those ideas about love bred problems in my …
“Always be mindful of the kindness and not the faults of others” ~Buddha
In these hectic and often chaotic times, for most people (controllers included), the need for intimate, close bonds with friends and family is more important than ever for their overall well-being.
Yet, most controllers are unaware of how much their controlling actions prevent intimacy.
Losing Intimacy with My Son
Twenty years ago I was a massive, obsessive controller. I firmly believed that the best way to satisfy my needs and achieve what I wanted in life was by controlling everything and everyone. At home, Father truly knew …
“We need not think alike to love alike.” ~Ferenc David
Our commonalities were small, insignificant perhaps, but being in high school, we were both uninterested in comparing notes on religious beliefs or political affiliation. I appreciated his humor and he my smile, and that was the end of that—until we became bona fide adults, that is.
After a year of bliss and a few declarations of, “no, we don’t fight at all!” we began to notice the things that set us apart and the experiences that shaped us in vastly different ways.
He came from a broken family while mine …
“Strangers are friends you have yet to meet.” ~Unknown
We are living in times of massive change.
Looking at some of the problems we are facing—the crumbling economy, environmental pollution, wars over scarce resources—sometimes the idea of moving far away to a remote mountain top seems very attractive. Or hiding in that small space behind the computer screen. Anything that helps us avoid real life and all its challenges.
But of course, if everybody thought that way, who would actually get up and do something about our situation? And is it enough to receive words of comfort through an email? …
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.” -~Sam Keen
Before I married my wonderful husband, I dated a lot of men. For most of my 20s (and even my early 30s) I had a perfect fairy-ideal of what romantic love was, probably because I was an actress and loved drama back then.
It took years for me to realize a relationship is not a romance movie.
At some point in our lives, we may believe that love should be like the kind of romance we see portrayed in …
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~Henry David Thoreau
A friend of mine likes to joke that dying will be a relief because it will put an end to the “heavy burden of judging,” as she calls it. She envisions herself lying in a hospital bed and, moments before death, noticing the ceiling and thinking, “What a hideous green.”
Here’s a modest proposal: Vow that for the rest of the day, you won’t judge your friends and you won’t judge any strangers you happen to see. This would include a friend who’s a non-stop …
“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha
I was always someone who craved love and attention. This is not to say that I accepted love willingly—quite the opposite, in fact.
If someone decided to like or even love me they would have to pass through a path of obstacles, being pushed, pulled, and tested at every corner. Only then, upon arrival at the finish line, would they gain my acceptance.
As you can imagine, this eliminated a number of potential friends and partners, and I often found myself lonely and disappointed.…
“We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.” ~Pema Chodron
Recently I got into a hypothetical conversation with someone who very quickly turned hostile and accusatory. Let’s call her Jane. My first instinct was to get defensive, but then I realized this subject was quite raw for Jane, and there was likely something going on below the surface.
Usually when people are combative seemingly without cause, there’s some underlying pain fueling it.
As we got to the root of things, I learned that Jane was holding onto anger …
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato
I used to have a horrible boss.
I worked as a trainer in a big corporation. I can remember him coming into one of my training sessions and telling me off about something in front of my whole group.
He talked to me as if I was five years old and I’d done something terrible. When someone talks to you like that it’s difficult not to start feeling you are five years old and you’ve done something terrible. I wanted to sink into the ground.
He treated other …
“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” ~Brene Brown
Vulnerability has never been my strong suit. It’s no wonder. In order to be vulnerable, you have to be okay with all of you. That’s the thing about vulnerability that no one tells you about.
Being vulnerable is not just about showing the parts of you that are shiny and pretty and fun. It’s about revealing what you deny or keep hidden from other people. We all do this to some extent. I bet you’ve never said to a friend, “Oh my god, I just love that I’m insecure.”
“To have a friend and be a friend is what makes life worthwhile.” ~Unknown
Extreme Makeover: Friendship Edition! That would be the best phrase to describe a year in the life of a cross-cultural friendship with my best friend Marisa.
This is the first deep and meaningful relationship I’ve ever had with someone who doesn’t speak a word in my own language.
My relationship with her has exposed and challenged many of my cultural beliefs and ideas about friendship.
There is nothing wrong with being influenced by culture. We all are.
But it’s good to recognize where some of our …
“Treat your friends like you do your best pictures; place them in the best light.” ~Unknown
I recently had a disagreement with a close friend.
There was a good deal of uncontrolled emotion on my side. I wasn’t expressing myself well and I knew it. I became more and more frustrated and less effective at explaining my feelings.
I found myself laying unwarranted blame on my friend rather than admitting openly that something was hurting me and I was feeling vulnerable.
Ultimately, he said the words I was having trouble finding for me, and that resolved the situation.
I was …
“Always be mindful of the kindness and not the faults of others.” ~Buddha
Would you like to have more friends? I mean true friends—people who laugh and cry with you.
My close friends mean the world to me. They are there for me when I need them. When they’re on a high, I celebrate with them; when they fall, I help them up again. My life is so much richer because of my friends.
But it hasn’t all been an easy ride. For example, one of my best friends is my ex-husband. It took years of work to move through …