relationships

Mindfulness and relationships

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October 24  |  Love & Relationships, Mindful communication, Mindfulness, Mindfulness and relationships, Mindfulness meditation, relationship communication, relationships, Self-Help, self-reinvention, Women and love  |   Cynthia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all love a relationship happy ending.  As time goes by, this involves mindful effort and persistence. I set out below, the most important aspects, in my opinion of mindful loving.

 Good, open, mindful communication

Mindfulness is an especially invaluable tool in the area of couple communication, where it’s so easy to hear what we think is being said, through our personal filters, and then to overreact to it – strongly. More often than not, this is down to not only poor communication – but also our deeply personal, historical “stuff”.

Achieving and maintaining good communication is ongoing work. This is where practising communication mindfulness can be so helpful. When you put it into operation, you become increasingly able to pause, “mind the gap”, and clarify what’s actually being said. Poor communication will rapidly become a mental weed, clogging up and perhaps even strangling your precious relationship.

Interdependency versus co-dependency

Kahlil Gibran advises, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”. This doesn’t mean either of you should abandon the other, but that it’s healthy for you to spend time apart as well as together, which is vastly different from cloying togetherness. Your long term relationship is actually enhanced by separate activity and even enhances it. Co-dependency sucks the very life out of your relationship. Interdependency enhances it.

Ongoing mindful renegotiation about miscellaneous boundaries

Relationships don’t remain static, because they’re a living entity with a life force of their very own. This is why you need to keep revising and renegotiating your boundaries, as time goes on.

 Mindfully respecting differences and appreciating and expanding on the similarities

Accept the things you can’t change about your partner and keep the spotlight on yourself. And when you do change, then the whole dynamic of your relationship shifts. Keep the focus and your energy on fixing yourself.

Being first and foremost friends

Your partner should be your best friend – not your only one – but the person who’s clearly one hundred percent in your corner, come what may. Best friends do argue, of course, but ultimately the bond that binds them together overcomes all the difficulties that may threaten to separate them. Treat your partner like you’d treat any best friend: with love, patience and compassion. Before you have something tricky to say, ask yourself if it really has to be said, does it have to be said now, and what’s the kindest way of saying it – and breathe, before you say it.

Being able to say sorry

Unlike what you may have seen in the film “Love Story” –love IS having to say you’re sorry – even when strictly, you’re not. The pain of discipline versus the pain that stems from the regret of not apologising is infinitely better. I’m not saying you should be a scapegoat and take the blame for everything. It’s about achieving a happy medium, and focusing on what’s good in the relationship.

Showing continuing appreciation of and gratitude for the other.

There’s magic in the ordinary, in gestures of tenderness especially under stress. Demonstrating thoughtfulness doesn’t have to involve spending money or displays of ostentation. Write a gratitude list of each other’s positive traits.  Go through pictures and mementos of your early days and also your special ones. Never forget anniversaries, birthdays and significant days. Show each other consideration. Express you appreciation to each other for what you CAN do.

 Learning to grow through adversity

Nobody is exempt from suffering. Continue to share your wishes, hopes and dreams with one another, as this will enable you to visualise better times, which will surely come, because nothing lasts forever.

 Leaving the past behind

You’re here NOW, so don’t measure yourself against your partner’s past.  They are with you now and their past belongs exactly there, not in the present.

An intimate relationship is your greatest teacher – so learn your lessons well and don’t quit! It’s always way too early in a committed relationship to throw in the towel, unless something totally unacceptable happens, such as violence or an addiction for which your partner refuses to seek help. A great relationship can heal and nurture you in a much healthier way than your birth parent did – it’s like a mirror – reflecting the good, the bad, and the ugly in both of you.

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Mindful dating v internal elephants

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February 23  |  Dating, Dating Coach, finding a relationshp, finding love, Love & Relationships, Mindful communication, Mindfulness, relationships, Self-Help, Women and love  |   Cynthia

Nail biting

Anxiety is a perfectly normal emotion to experience, when you’re in the early stages of dating a new, prospective partner.  But it needn’t be a nail biting experience, if you take a few moments to pause, reflect and go about dating in a mindful way. Below are some quick tips on how to prevent the butterflies in your tummy, from morphing into a sabotaging date-wrecking herd of elephants, rampaging around in your innards.

Be prepared

Like the scouts, being prepared for all eventualities is key. This may not sound very sexy and spontaneous, but if you were applying for a new job, if you’ve got any sense, you’d be doing research on the company you hoped to be employed by. Why should it be any different with a prospective lover?  I don’t mean for you to start stalking his bestie, drive past his pad at midnight, staring longingly at his closed bedroom curtains, or make an absolute tit of yourself, in any other way.  But undertaking a little bit of pre-assignation investigation will help quell your nerves on The Date, and won’t necessarily turn you into a latter day female Inspector Clouseau of “Pink Panther” fame.

Brainstorm potential topics of conversation.  Find out what he’s interested in and read up on it. Be aware of current affairs but stay well clear of contentious topics such as sex, politics or religion –  the first few dates aren’t the time to regale him with your salacious intimacy “previous”.  These topics are potential date-busters!

Self-care

Pamper yourself so you feel at your very best.  Don’t wear anything that will make you feel self-conscious – ie a décolleté which is so extreme, that if you’re not careful, you’ll end up tripping over your own boobs. Nor should you wear a dress which is so frigging short, your prospect can see your tonsils.  There’s a time and place for everything and this isn’t it! If you’re unsure, ask a trusted friend for input.  Safe is one hell of a lot better than sorry.

BREATHE!

Give yourself plenty of time to get there. Plan the best route beforehand, leaving room for error, such as getting lost, tube strikes, people under a bus etc.  Sit quietly before you leave, and practise some very simple, mindfulness breathing.  I realise you may be so worked-up that your head resembles a washing machine in the spin cycle – but that’s only  reason to meditate more.

Practising mindfulness during the date

Listen to your prospect more than YOU speak!  Remember to practise deep, slow breathing during the date – not so fast that you hyperventilate and you need to engage in emergency breathing into a brown paper bag. This could be somewhat embarrassing! Simple and calmly is best. By so doing, you’ll avoid speaking at the speed of a machine gun engaged in active combat.  And speaking of guns – for God’s sake keep your powder dry. I repeat – don’t tell him your deepest, darkest and dirtiest secret. That’s first date suicide. And don’t drink too much either unless you’re not bothered about potentially presenting yourself as a neurotic, desperate lush!

Trust your instincts

If you do as I suggest, you’ll be far more in tune with the other person’s vibes. Trust yourself and your inborn instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then it isn’t! If you’re super anxious, keep the first few dates short. Meet for coffee, a drink, lunch – then if all seems to be going swimmingly – you can take it to the next stage and meet for dinner. Remember – you’re not dating Prince Charming, just a regular guy who’s probably as nervous as you are.  Believe it or not – men suffer from dating nerves too.

Enjoy yourself!  That’s the whole point of the date – and remember, there are no true faux pas dating gaffes – just learning experiences. If it doesn’t go to plan, then keep breathing, don’t be hard on yourself, put it behind – and try again.

Have fun!

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Christmas comes but once a year – thankfully!

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December 5  |  Blended families, Christmas, Dating, Living with baggage, Love & Relationships, relationships  |   Cynthia

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The season of good cheer is almost upon us once more. How did that happen?  Judging by the way the shops carry on, all the ghastly festive paraphernalia starts rearing its ugly head by September. Christmas trees sprout up by October and by November – we’re in full hideous hysteria, counting the days we have left to lose those extra pounds to squeeze into that little black number (only to put them all back again – and more), racking our brains for gift ideas and engaging in full-scale war with our significant others, about how we’re going to survive spending time with the assorted hotch potch of his n’ her family and friends. Not to mention having to endure folks we can barely tolerate the other 364 days of the year.

Then – when Christmas day actually arrives, we end up eating way too much, bingeing on huge amounts of unhealthy food and booze – and then collapsing  semi-comatose thereafter in front of the box, just in time for the Queen’s speech. Is this really fun?

Why do we do it to ourselves?  Unless you’re religious – which I’m not – then it’s a really good question.  Tradition plays a part, but actually Christmas is a dreadful time of year for anybody who’s suffered personal loss, or is ill, alone or depressed.  Unspoken feelings between family members, which get stuffed down along with the turkey – ever ready to explode at the slightest provocation.  Disappointment when the gift you wanted  was a bottle of Chanel number 5 – and instead you’re presented with a Primark onesie, and your benevolent, fake smile hurts so much, your face feels like it’s about to crack.

And if you’re single – that can feel like a giant bucket of gritting salt – carelessly chucked into your gaping emotional, lonely wound. If you’re part of a blended family – with stepchildren and ex-partners thrown into the emotional melting pot, you’ve got the potential of a scenario which makes “War And Peace” seem like “Wind In The Willows“.

January looms – the most depressing month of the year. Excess pounds, depleted wallets, and low moods vie for your attention.

The Christmas message is drowned out by the ugly manifestation of rampant commercialism. Whether you believe or not – the message should be about hope and having faith in the future.  Instead, we go absolutely crazy, held hostage by the disease of more – where needs are few but wants are many. We try to patch up our inner, insatiable void with external fripperies – and it never works.

For children I can see the point – the excitement of Santa coming, the bright Christmas lights and putting out milk and carrots for Rudolf the red nose reindeer. But for we supposed grown-ups – let’s face it, Christmas has lost its sparkle.

I believe it’s time to stop, think and regroup. Life is short so why go along with all the fuss just to please others?  If Christmas is your bag – fine. But for those of us who for whatever personal reasons would rather skip from November, straight to January -there should be no guilt. We have to learn to please ourselves first and foremost – because we’re worth it.

Bah humbug!

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“A” is for asshole!

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November 24  |  Dating, finding a relationshp, finding love, professional single women, relationships, Self-Help, single women  |   Cynthia

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We all know them. They present themselves to us in every shape, form, colour, creed and size, and in every walk of life. They’re the ones who pontificate, or impose their pathetic opinions onto you uninvited , or manipulate or control you then leave you hanging high and dry – the emotional detritus lingering around your persona like a rancid smell.

This sad fact is even more poignant in the area of personal and intimate relationships. They manifest themselves, as if by black magic, string you along, mess you up and then make it feel like it’s all your fault.  Some assholes have personality disorders, or unaddressed addictions. Or they could be serial philanderers. The potential to be an asshole is endless.

But – before you think I’m going to let you off the hook and fall into victim mode, I’m here to tell you that it’s YOUR responsibility to eliminate these turds before they get the smallest foothole in your love life.  I don’t care if they spin you the oldest line in the book, such as “my wife doesn’t understand me” (oh but she does folks – only too well), or “my daddy didn’t buy me a bow wow” (go get a rescue dog from Battersea) – trust me – somewhere, deep down, in the first few meetings with Mr Asshole – you instinctively KNEW this one was going to be yet another dud – a bozo looking for a temporary repository for his miserable presence, before sallying forth to the next poor wench.

I say this as someone who has entertained the dubious company of multiple assholes in my life – and I even married two of them before wisening up and realising that My Type wasn’t my type AT ALL, and was just a toxic legacy, left over from my partially miserable childhood.  Woe is me – not! I was responsible for putting myself in a position to be hurt – and so are you!  The lesson will be repeated until it’s learned!

Why do I assert this? Simples. We all have inherent instincts and we read information about everyone we meet. It may be subconscious and buried deep, deep down in our psyche – but I’m here to tell you that we KNOW when we meet somebody. The trouble is, we can be so needy that we override those early warning signals. We can delude ourselves that with us the asshole will be different, that this time the story will end happily and we’ll waltz off into the sunset, holding hands, living happily ever after.

Bollocks. Once an asshole – ALWAYS an asshole – unless and until said asshole becomes desperate enough to do the Inner Work on themselves – nothing will change.  There are plenty of women assholes too. Being an asshole isn’t in any way sexist.

Practising mindfulness and being much more mindful in your life, is the best way to learn to listen to and trust your instincts. They tell you everything you need to know – but you have to make time to sit, let go, and have the courage of your own convictions, to put into action what your innate good sense is telling you to do ie telling Mr Asshole to bog off pronto before you’re lulled into his web.

So my Five Rules for Asshole Management are so simple you could miss them:

  1.  Avoid
  2. Avoid
  3. Avoid
  4. Avoid
  5. Avoid

Please – do yourself a massive favour and undertake The Work on your inner self.  In so doing, you’ll find that your inherent, instinctive Asshole Alert will soon flourish and hold you in very good stead so that next time an asshole looms into your orbit, promising you the moon – you immediately press the “REJECT” button.

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Stepping up to the plate – the challenges of step parenting

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November 12  |  Blended families, Living with baggage, relationships, Self-Help, Step parenting, Stepchildren, Women and love  |   Cynthia

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“And they ALL lived happily ever after”, as the fairy tale goes. Note the italics, because when you’re a step parent, even in the very best of cases – which are few and far between – it’s an impossible job.  If you think being a natural parent is tough, then try step parenting out for size.

Ok, so we all have baggage.  But when you take on a partner, it’s a case of “love me, love my dog”,  and some dogs are just plain nasty, and bite viciously, no matter how many bones you offer them. We live in a time when “blended families” are the norm, and the traditional mores have all but broken down.  Some of that baggage is weightier than others.  You and your partner bring into the current relationship, along with your own personal wounding, that of your progeny.

No matter how bad the birth parent was or is, as a stepparent you have no voice, nor any rights – legal and otherwise.  There’s no exterior body of  support, as there is for single parents.  And with the best will in the world – your partner may invite your opinions, but will probably discard them, feeling caught between a rock and a hard place. The word, “injustice” takes on a whole new meaning when you become a step.

As someone who has had almost 15 years experience of being a stepparent, in extremely difficult circumstances, I can tell you that there’s no easy answer.  The best thing you can do to preserve your relationship – and your sanity, is to distance yourself and keep your mouth shut.  You can try until you’re blue in the face, but in the vast majority of cases, your input won’t be appreciated and may well be thrown back in your face.

There comes a point where you have to decide what’s important – the health of your relationship with your nearest and dearest or the time-limited surge of power which comes from being “right” about The Baggage. Isn’t better to be happy (sort of) than right? If not, you risk stirring up a tsunami of raw emotion and end up driving yourself and your partner into that crazy-making, hideously familiar emotional cul de sac.  Then you beat your head against the wall – and repeat this all over again, illustrating Einstein’s theory perfectly – that madness is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Given the lack of external support, I firmly believe in the therapeutic powers of The Sisterhood. Regular rendezvous where you can safely vent your spleen, dissipating The Daily Frustration of “guess what they did THIS time?” The bottom line is – if you’re brutally honest – your steps don’t want you, now or ever,  and frankly you don’t need the hassle and upset of having to cope with them. They were in search of their own happy ever after – two birth parents under the same roof. Harsh – but alas, true.

I dedicate an entire chapter in my book, “From Dinner Date To Soulmate – Finding Love At Any Age”, on how to live with baggage.  It’s an ongoing struggle and process for most of us. But don’t give in!  That’s probably want they wanted in the first place – and you just need to learn to be smarter and more resilient than them. A great relationship is worth working at and fighting for. Don’t give up on a good thing.

May The Force be with you!

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