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Tell Your Story & Heal Your Past

Photo by Jonathan Kos-Read
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. ~Brene Brown

I emigrated halfway across the world to escape my story. That’s how desperate I was.

It was a story of loneliness, rejection and depression. I blamed my country of origin, my family and a run of bad luck.

And instead of facing my story, I ran from it.

But our pasts always catch up to us. And so it wasn’t long before my life in a new country with a great new job resembled much of my life before the emigration.

Not on the outside, but on the inside. I had escaped my physical circumstances only to find that what I really wanted was to do was escape myself.

3 Lessons on Creating Trust

Photo by EDUARDO IZQUIERDO
Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living. It is the beginning place, the foundation upon which more can be built. Where trust is, love can flourish. ~Barbara Smith

My husband and I have been considering buying a house but knew we had some hurdles that might make it unlikely. We contacted a loan officer who worked with us and gave us a positive opinion. We were absolutely thrilled and started looking at homes.

It turned out, however, that he’d processed some incorrect information and we might not be able to get a loan this year after all.

To say we were bummed out would be an understatement. Both of us tried to see the positive side but couldn’t seem to shake our disappointment.

Neither of us wanted to talk about it, but finally I brought it up.

5 Tips for Having Hard Conversations

Photo by Shannon
Difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values. ~Douglas Stone

My friend, author and artist Christine Mason Miller, once wrote in her book Ordinary Sparkling Moments that communication between people is like a ball — you have to throw it so that the other person can catch it.

If you don’t? Someone’s going to get whacked in the face, really hard. That’s not going to promote communication.

Most people spend a lot of time just trying to work up the courage to have a difficult conversation with someone. This is a tough space, isn’t it?

No one likes to initiate a conversation in which they know that they need to communicate that there’s a conflict between them.

After you’ve checked to make sure that you’re not manipulating the work when you decide to speak your truth, here are a few guidelines to more successfully throw that ball so that someone else can catch it.

A Lesson on Being Vulnerable

Photo by Hannes Caspar
We want to know that we matter. We want to know that we were heard and that what we had to say meant something. ~Oprah Winfrey

I knew I should say something but the thought of opening my mouth to speak terrified me. I sat suffering silently to myself.

The longer I waited for him to pay attention to me, the more agitated I became. Anger, indignity and feelings of rejection spread through my body, heating every inch of me from within.

How dare he ignore me after I had come all this way to spend time with him? Did he expect me to sit here alone all night? How could he possibly not know I was angry?

When I finally mustered up enough courage to share my feelings with him he laughed, told me I was “pouting” and that he didn’t have the energy to help me deal with my “stuff.”

How to End Your Dependence on Other People

Photo by Eduardo Izquierdo
The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm. ~Swedish Proverb

A couple of months ago, I made the decision to end my financial dependence on my mother.

I had on eighty-four cents in my bank account, no place to live and the only income I had was from a part time job and a couple of freelance projects.

Though the timing may have been a bit dramatic, there was a sense of urgency in my decision. I was desperate to free myself from the cycle of repeatedly leaving home only to return with my tail between my legs and no money to speak of.

Effective Communication with Mindfulness

Photo by Lauren

Have you ever had the experience while talking to someone where the person is really not listening to you? They act like they are but it is obvious that they aren’t. The ironic part is that they probably think they are communicating with you but on some level you just feel that you weren’t heard at all.

Communication is something we all engage in on a daily basis but due to the pace of our lives, conversations become just formalities. It is like when you go to the store and the cashier asks you: “how are you?” It’s as if she was on cruise control as opposed to really being interested in how you are doing.

Living mindfully isn’t limited to meditation, but can also be applied to effective communication in our daily interactions with other people. This article takes a look at 10 effective communication tips using the principles of mindfulness.

When Couples Fight

Photo by Erik Clausen (His Blog, Flickr)
Editor’s Note

This article applies also to those not currently in a relationship.

My husband and I had a fight over the weekend – on our date night, of all nights. We rarely fight, so when emotions escalated to shouting, I knew something had to change. I had to change. There was something to be learned here.

The thing about when couples bicker is that both people feel that they are right. Both people feel that their point of view is rightfully justified. So we try to make the other person understand. When we are arguing, what we are essentially trying to do is to show the other person our side – to show them that we are right (and they are wrong).

After all was said and done, underneath the problem on the surface, what we were really fighting for was to feel appreciated and validated. We, each in our own indirect way, were trying to let the other person acknowledge us, and to value what we contribute. But sometimes, we can be so stubborn.

If you dissect all the fights we’ve had in the past with our significant others, and through observing our friends, I think the desire to feel appreciated and recognized is a common theme.

What’s interesting is that in the heat of “battle”, when we are so consumed with wanting the other person to see our side, we become blind to recognizing the other person’s point of view – which is equally valid and understandable. It’s like trying to put out fire with more fire, you will just end up with a bigger fire.

How to Take Criticism

Photo of Gala Darling by Chloe
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. ~Winston Churchill

Criticism is crucial for personal improvement. It’s the most direct way to find out what you should improve on. However, accepting criticism can be emotionally challenging. Afterall, we’re only human, who wants to hear bad stuff about ourselves?

It’s hard to not take it personally. Our instinctive reaction is to become defensive and we shut out potentially helpful and life-enhancing tips. By doing this, we miss out on what could supercharge our improvement.

So how can you take criticism without getting self-conscious and defensive?

How to Be Popular

Photo by Lucia Holm

Over the past few days, I’ve attended a few social gatherings at which my interactions with other people provided me with a few new revelations. During these interactions I started to notice a peculiar social pattern; that a significant percentage of people are not that good at being social.

After one particular dinner engagement with my partner and another couple, I went home feeling completely uninspired and insignificant. Even after having spent 2 hours with this couple, I am fairly certain they still don’t know anything about me aside from the obvious surface details; my name is Tina, I am Asian and I live in Seattle. They have no idea what I do for a living, what my expertise is, how I spend my time, or where I am from. They were either completely uninterested in me, or they just have underdeveloped social skills.

Later, when I was analyzing the dinner engagement situation, I started to realize why I avoid spending time with certain people in my life, even some friends whom I like and respect. The answer is – they focus too much on themselves, and show a lack of interest in me.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? If someone doesn’t show any interest in you, why would you want to spend any of your precious time with them? I’m sure there are countless other things you would rather be doing.

I have a friend whom, despite her many outstanding qualities, will derail a social gathering by talking about herself the entire night without directing a single question to anyone else around the table. She dominates the table’s conversation by constantly initiating topics that revolve back to the theme of how brilliant she is. It actually is true, she really is brilliant. However, this gets annoying really quickly and obviously makes the others around the table very uncomfortable. It also has the net result of her getting left off of future engagement invites.

The interesting lesson here is that by observing how the behavior of others make us feel, we can tweak and improve our own social skill set. In this way, we can ensure that people leave their interactions with us feeling great, and looking forward to the next time we connect. Just imagine if all meetings ended like this, wouldn’t they also be more enjoyable for us?

8 Keys to Instant Charisma

Photo by Bertrand

There is a simple fact of human nature that states we all want to be liked. Don’t be afraid to admit it. If we think about it, underlying many of our actions, we are really seeking ways to validate ourselves and to fulfill this desire of being liked.

Have you ever met someone and instantly took a liking towards them? You can’t explain why, but you feel a fondness and you want to do things to help them. I’m not talking about sexual attraction, but a genuine and innocent feeling of fondness towards another person.

In a job interview, you are more likely to be hired if the interviewer likes you as a person. In a business situation, you are more likely to get deals done and gain favors. In a personal situation, you are likely to gain trust and loyal friendships.

When we decide that we like someone, it is a psychological process that we cannot quite articulate. It’s not a secret that we make decisions emotionally and justify them logically. So, does this mean that we can influence an emotional decision that happens subconsciously?

I believe that decisions can be influenced. I know that the qualities of a likeable person can be cultivated and proactively developed. Do you want to know how to develop the skills to be likable?

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