What do you choose, “Love or Fear”?

Love has inspired more songs, poems and stories than any other feeling, yet it is one of the most complex emotions to understand. In fact, it’s so complex that at least once in our lives we all have asked to ourselves this question: What is Love?

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From a pure biological point of view, we could say that love is a survival mechanism of the species, in which dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin, oxytocin and many other hormones and neurotransmitters, play a role in bonding.

From a psychological point of view, it is the balance between intimacy, passion and compromise – according to the Triangular Theory of Love by Sternberg.

Our brain reacts according to its past experiences, the environmental circumstances of the moment, and its own chemistry, leading to an infinity of ways to love, however… what happens when fear takes place in our lives when we try to love and to be loved by someone?

First of all, it is necessary to clarify that no feeling is a bad feeling; fear is not a negative thing, it actually is a defense mechanism that helps us to prevent accidents, such as being burnt by a candle for example. Fear is necessary; therefore what we need to do is to control it.

The limbic system is the one in charge of regulating emotions, avoidance of pain and in general, all functions of conservation of the individual and species. It’s the one in charge of fear and love, altogether.

Being afraid is natural, fearing a little bit is ok; the problem lays when fear is constant in a relationship, altering not just our environment, but also our health since it is a direct impact to our limbic system and it affects not just our emotions or our relationship, it affects our bodies too. Fearing your husband may be having an affair because he came half an hour late, fearing your wife will ask for divorce because you don’t feel attractive enough, fearing your boyfriend may leave you after you decide to take that job is nothing but a lack of trust and it blocks you from your natural state of feeling love.

NEAT.jpg  People tend to have a utopian point of view when it comes to love thanks to the media constantly sending wrong ideas of what love truly is to our brain. These wrong ideas lead to insecurities and false idealizations that make us fear, while in reality there is nothing to be afraid of. Maybe your husband came late because there was a lot of traffic, maybe your wife likes your belly, and maybe your boyfriend will find a way to stay in touch with you no matter the distance. In the end, not every time we fear something means that there is a problem, and if there is a problem there probably is a solution; also, if there is no solution to the problem, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, it could be the beginning of a brand new adventure.

Relationships are always going to have ups and downs since no relationship is perfect and this is something we must understand. Perfection is not a synonym of happiness as well as imperfection is not a synonym of sadness.

Fear stops you from loving entirely, from enjoying your food, your favorite TV show; in fact, it stops you from enjoying life itself. Human beings are rational. To overcome your fears in the relationship it’s necessary to talk. If you feel there is a problem, if you feel insecure or if you just feel something isn’t right, talk about it with your partner in a calm manner when the two of you can talk about the issue alone.

Always keep in mind that you and your partner are an entire person each, and that you deserve to be entirely loved, that includes your flaws also; try to understand his/her concerns and insecurities, since your partner must have them too.

Don’t let fear take over your relationship or your life, be assertive and find ways to clarify things and keep alive the flame of love. Overcoming fears and problems could make your bond stronger and deeper, making you experience love in a healthier way.h_1478853182_5895853_d41d8cd98f.png

What it means to be Authentic and Live an Authentic Life

choose-authenticity-in-a-marketing-agency.jpgLife is a journey of exploration and discovery with plenty obstacles to overcome, living one’s full potential in life remains quite elusive. Yet, this is only the first step toward living an authentic life.  Living an authentic life offers an opportunity to discover your goals and objectives. This often manifests by defining a path that is true to who you are and who you are about to become.

Many people who live an inauthentic life, live a life that is incompatible if not inconsistent with their values, abilities and desires. Because of this, they have strayed-off the path to discovering their true selves and real purpose in life. This is what it is like to live life inauthentic. It is a life simply hollow, incomplete and out-of-sync with oneself.

What does it mean to live an authentic life?

According to Brian Goldman, a renowned psychologist, authenticity is the unhindered operation of one’s true self in their daily enterprise. In his understanding, Goldman asserts that authenticity hold within it two very critical aspects:

  • Self-knowledge
  • Self-awareness

Essentially speaking, authentic people accept themselves for who they are. Like everyone else, such people have strengths and weaknesses. What makes them stand out is their ability to identify their strengths and at the same time seek to better their weaknesses. Being authentic is simply about connecting with one’s values, desires and abilities. Being authentic liberates one from the pressures of trying to be someone else; trying to be perfect.

Lame Deer is a Native American philosopher well-known for his work on human psychology. According to Deer, an authentic life is devoid of self-deprecation. He suggests that most people fall-short-of living authentically merely because they can’t stand their natural animal selves. Think of how people wear perfumes and deodorants to conceal their true smell. Or come to think of how people use cosmetic products and procedures to hide their true selves. Together with the various roles we undertake in the unending cycles of production and consumption as humans we remain detached from our true self and with nature itself. That is according to Lame Deer.

Authenticity in life is summarized by these two simple yet critical ingredients. In fact, self-knowledge and self-awareness defines who we are as humans. Understanding these two is just about all you need to live authentically.

Self-knowledge and self-awareness

At its very outset, authenticity begins when we commit our intentions to genuineness. A willingness to act genuine even when it feels most vulnerable. It comes with an ease of decision making in life; freedom to pick and choose on aspects that one relates very well with in as far as values and desires in life are concerned. This is in fact what it means to make unpopular decisions and choices in life. This is what it means to come to terms with some aspects that often people choose to hide away from, but which are integral parts of us. Self-knowledge and self-awareness are the building blocks of an authentic life. They make us live more honest if not engaged lives.

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Definitive characteristics of authentic persons

Living an authentic life never comes easy. In fact, research surveys suggest that most humans across civilizations live inauthentic lives. Of course there are more than enough reasons for the same. That aside, the following are some aspects that may help you single out individuals who are actually living authentic:

  • Resilience: living authentic life comes with an inherent ability to rise up to the challenge whenever one falls.
  • Purposefulness: being authentic implies having an intended purpose in life. In other words having set objectives in life.
  • Being goal-oriented: authentic people have some set goals to accomplish. They have targets in life and strive hard to realize them. In so doing, they remain steadfast and focused throughout their endeavors.

How to live authentic

Living authentic come with sacrifices as well as compromises. It calls for a complete overhaul of the past in favor of a fresh and new perspective to life. The following hints will get you started:

  • Open mindedness
  • Redefinition of values
  • trust your intuition

Open mindedness

Being open minded is the cornerstone of authenticity. Be open to ideas and be sure to experience a whole new perspective of everything this life has to offer. Authenticity never flourishes in closed and rigid minds. In fact, it fades into insignificance. Such minds never hatch brilliant ideas and such people are fated to remain average for life. Well, this is less about an opinion than a fact of life.

Redefinition of values

This is about getting clear on what you dare to care about. Holding tight on the very values we grew up with is common place in most societies. Some of these values and traditions may clash with what we in fact stand for as values. This puts authenticity in jeopardy. In brief, it is impossible to live authentically if one knows not the very values that they stand for and uphold.

Trust your intuition

Whenever one acts inauthentic, intuitively they feel out-of-sync with who they actually are and what values they stand for. Intuition is about those hunches, physical sensations and even the impressions that come alongside the actions we undertake in life. Intuition instinctively shocks us back to our senses whenever we act contrary to what we stand for in life. Intuition guards us from straying far of the true path of authenticity.

Discovering who we actually are is but a continuous process. It is more like a journey than a destination, where we keep unfolding bits and pieces of ourselves as we move along. It is the beginning of being authentic and living authentic.

How does Marijuana affect your Relationship?

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How Marijuana Can Affect Relationships

The impact marijuana can have on relationships remains to be a very controversial topic. Some hold the view that the two can never go hand in hand. Instead, they mix as well as dynamite and match; very explosive with widespread and far-reaching effects. While others believe that marijuana has no negative effects on relationships. In their view, it spices things up. This article, though not intended to hit at any side in favor of another, has captured nothing but the truth on how marijuana affects relationships from both schools of thought.

Success in any relationship calls for love, trust and compromise. In addition, it also requires the couple to be free of substance abuse and addiction in all of its forms.  In this context we are discussing marijuana ABUSE. I invite you to be open minded in this topic and not stay in the category of black and white thinking. Not everyone who smokes pot will abuse it or become addicted to it.

Pot smoking, like any substance, may seem innocent, harmless and even fun for some at the very outset. Though the habit initially kicks off as a way of establishing identity or possibly freedom of expression, it can eventually lead users down the path to ruin and destruction in any love relationship. It can set one’s life in a downward spiral that ultimately robs them of everything they value as far as love and relationship are concerned. Unfortunately, marijuana has become widely accepted and debatably legalized in many modern societies.

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How does marijuana affect your love life?

Having counseled many couples on relationship matters over the years, I hold as true the opinion that the abuse of pot can actually minimize progress and growth in relationships. Marijuana abuse can directly impact:

  • Personal life and friendship
  • Intimacy and commitments
  • family life and responsibilities
  • emotions

Personal life and friendship

If pot smoking ultimately turns habitual and addictive, the victim ceases to be himself or herself. The drug moves in and completely takes over such an unsuspecting soul. In no time, such an individual becomes consumed by social anxiety and paranoia.

At this stage, the pot addict is more likely to be introverted and neglected, even by close friends and confidants. Of course being high kind of redefines their brand of friends; they associate more with a clique of other addicts trapped in the same habit of pot smoking. These are the kind of friends that only sink them deeper in their abyss of frustrations. Essentially, the addict loses touch with reality and reason.

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Intimacy and commitments

In love life, intimacy is very critical. In fact, according to some studies, it is the glue that holds the relationship together longer. By its very nature, intimacy is about partners being able to see into each other. Precisely, intimacy guarantees a clear perception of an individual’s feelings as well as their partner’s.

Marijuana in a relationship acts contrary to this feeling. Though critics suggest it heightens intimacy, this substance is in fact insidious and dangerous in your relationship. The “sacred herb,” as some erroneously call it, is a mood-killer when abused and only detaches you from your own as well as your partner’s feelings. Besides, weed shortens memory and makes honoring commitments in a relationship quite the nightmare.

Family life and responsibilities

Whenever a recreational drug like marijuana turns addictive, cravings for the same makes one forget everything else but the pot. Abdication of duties and responsibilities in the family typically sets in at this stage. Real addicts are never worried about the welfare of their children or spouse. Not in the slightest. They live in denial, isolation and over time becomes overtly defensive of their actions. It is no surprise that such individuals resort to verbal attacks if questioned about any of their unbecoming behaviors.

The drug-free partner in a relationship that is bedeviled by marijuana suffers more psychological traumas than the addict. Such partners may at times feel betrayed, tricked or even short changed in the relationship. This often develops into self-blame; taking unnecessary responsibility for the addicted partner’s way of life. This might then degenerate into jealousy, rage and self judgement, the real ingredients of depression.

Ironically, if asked if they still love their spouse in the relationship, the addict is often quick to respond in the affirmative. Their continued use of pot is evidence to the contrary though.

Marijuana and emotions

Emotionally, pot smokers are not themselves. Research findings indicate that as one uses drugs time and again, likely the case with marijuana addicts, their emotional tone plummets lower and lower. Unless they are high, such individuals know not much happiness and pleasures in life. Such a twisted perspective ends up draining life in any relationship. In some cases the couple may call it quits and part ways, just like that. In some rare cases though, the pot-free partner may have the nerve and patience to wait and just hope for the best – a day when the love of their life will finally stop the bad habit. Success rate for such cases is often very slim because the addiction often turns chronic over time. Most of the patient pot-free partners end-up depressed and frustrated without the intervention of specialists like psychotherapists and psychologists.

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How to recover from marijuana addiction

Clearly, marijuana and relationships are immiscible. The good news however is that marijuana addiction as a condition can be reversed. Various effective recovery programs are in place for the same. These programs remake the addict anew so that they once again come into the light. With well-thought-out alternatives, these programs helps clients regain a brighter outlook on life as a whole, integrity and self-respect. This way, they can once again love and be loved back.

To the drug free partner in the relationship, patience is of the essence. Give your partner time to shed off the bad habit. If the addict remains defiant and unappreciative of your patience then consider exploring other options like:

  • seeking help from a psychotherapist
  • divorce

The second option should come last; only upon exploring all available options and all concerted efforts rendered futile. Though this therapy is known to shock drug users into reality, it is likely to impact negatively on kids, if there are any. So, settle for divorce only if your partner’s marijuana addiction condition deteriorates and becomes so much over the top or is clearly on the brink of spinning out of control.

Communication Breakdown: Why do we listen to reply and not listen to understand?

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Why We Tend to Listen to Reply and not Listen to Understand

As a skill, listening is very critical in communication. It is the best way to pass across information and, more importantly, knowledge between individuals. Even so, studies suggest that over the years, our listening ability has only deteriorated. We no longer listen to understand. Instead, we listen to reply.

Studies show that we spend close to 60 per cent of everyday listening to others, but only retain a quarter of what we hear. Part of the reason for this could be that the world around us has become louder over time. A careful scrutiny and analysis of issues reveal the real suspects in play; a delicate combination of a pair of aspects within the human brain. These aspects include:

  • The lag time concept
  • The confirmation bias aspect

The lag time concept

Charles Gross, in his study at Princeton University in 2010, discovered what he called lag time in communication. It is the time duration between what you hear and what you understand. Now, according to Gross, lag time is in the range of a few seconds up to a minute. Of course this varies among individuals.

According to Charles Gross, lag time is the reason people listen more to reply than to understand. In fact, this is where real trouble begins. During lag time we shift attention to ourselves. We stop listening to the others. Instead, we listen to ourselves, a perfect recipe for communication breakdown. During the same phase, we tend to figure out a quick response rather than let the message sink in. The whole conversation then ends up into a fierce contest.

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What causes lag time in communication?

The exact cause of lag time is still unclear, though psychotherapists and psychologists believe human emotions holds a center stage and are very critical to it. Thoughts, beliefs, values, perceptions and opinions are also other very vital ingredients of an individual’s lag time.

The confirmation bias aspect

In the words of Grand Eklund, “You are only listening to what you want to hear.” I can’t agree with Eklund more. In all most every communication setting, people tend to pick out facts and other figures they deem fit; what affirms their pre-existing perspectives, values and beliefs. In so doing, they listen with more intent to reply than to understand – a real communication disaster. That is in fact how the confirmation bias concept operates.

Healthy conversation should involve listening to every detail of what is spoken. Confirmation bias however contradicts this. It makes it quite the challenge to listen and acquire knowledge.

How does confirmation bias come about?

Psychologists hint that confirmation bias has some level of connection and link with how slow individuals speaks in comparison to how fast they listen. Studies show that the human brain has the ability to process words at an optimum rate of between 600 and 1000 words per minute. When we speak, individuals communicate roughly 175 to 200 words a minute. Clearly, we aren’t utilizing our brain’s full capacity, especially when listening. Because of this underutilization of potential, the human brain tends to drift off into other aspects that would make up for that deficit; the onset of competitive listening.

Competitive listening is best explained using George Miller’s Law. In order to understand what someone else is saying, one has to first assume that the other person’s position is true and then try to find out what is actually true in it. A negation of Miller’s concept bears what is known as competitive listening; hearing something then reacting negatively to it, in part because of a belief that the other person’s position is false. In this spirit, listening grinds to a halt and communication breaks down.

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Way forward to effective listening

Many years of exploring listening as an art points me in a common direction; that effectiveness in listening can only be achieved through awareness and concentration. Yes, simply allowing yourself to listen better without coercion.

In order to “listen to understand and not just to reply”, we need to concentrate more voluntarily. This way, we acquire more knowledge and also make our conversations more effective.

Making a Strong Support System

Having a support system when you are in recovery from addiction is so important. With a support system you are much more likely to be successful in recovery, and work towards other goals that you have set for yourself. Your support network can be made up of professionals, family members, friends, as well as mentors from places like AA or NA. A good support person is so much more than just helping you maintain a positive attitude. Listed below are some of the other qualities that a good support person should have:

 Stability. People in your support system should also be stable themselves. Your addiction may have had a serious effect on them as well, so it is important that they are seeking out the help that they need. It is also important that they are not currently abusing drugs, and are sure in their own recovery (if they are recovering from their own addiction). Part of stability is also helping you maintain a safe space to live and stay. This means that there should be no drugs and as few triggers as possible while you are working through your recovery.

 Understanding of recovery and relapse prevention. It is very difficult to be supportive of a process that they don’t understand, so it is important that the people in your support network are educated about addiction, recovery, and relapse prevention. The best person to educate them about your needs and triggers is you. It is critical that you explain what sorts of situations/things are triggering for your cravings and what they can do during difficult times in order to help get you through. It is also important that they understand their role in your relapse prevention. It is important that you communicate what you need from them and they need to be comfortable in the role that they are taking on so that they can remain an asset to you and a good support when you need it the most.

 Ability to be part of a team. Supporting someone through recovery takes much more than just one person. It is often times a team of people that are supporting and providing different types of support to the person in recovery. The people that you choose to be part of your support system need to be able to work together and be trusted to keep their personal issues out of the way. You may need everyone to come together at one time or another, which is why making sure they can get along and work together is so important. If two or more people in your chosen support system just don’t get along, you personally need to decide whether or not it is worth it having that as a part of your recovery. Needless disagreements and arguing can really take the focus off of you and your recovery, and put that attention on things that are really not worth it. 

People so often forget just how important it is to have a strong support system throughout the recovery process. The individuals that you choose to be part of this support system can make or break you during the very first stages of your recovery, and this is why it is imperative that you think long and hard about what you need and who you think would be able to provide that need to you. A good support person will always be there when you need them, and help keep you on track when you cannot do it yourself

The Power of Positivity

Positivity is something that does not always seem like a possibility in our day to day lives. However, positivity and an optimistic outlook can make a huge difference in how we carry ourselves and the directions that we choose to go in. Though at times it can be very difficult to maintain positivity, there are things that you can do to keep yourself upbeat and pushing forward.

Set attainable goals. We all have goals in life. They might be for your career, or perhaps for your personal life, or even in your relationships. It is important to make sure that these goals are realistic and attainable, while still challenging yourself. You can even break your larger goals down into smaller goals that will work towards the end point.

Let’s take an example that comes up often in recovery; maintaining sobriety. Maintaining sobriety is a very large goal, especially for someone who has just entered into recovery. However, this is completely attainable when broken down into smaller goals. Attending programs, continuing therapy, developing a relapse prevention plan, and having a stable support system are just a few of the many small goals that can be built up to the main goal of maintaining sobriety. As you can see, the main goal becomes much more realistic and manageable when broken down into smaller steps.

Reward yourself. It is important to celebrate the victories that you have. Rewarding yourself for your hard work and accomplishments, even the small ones, can do wonders for your positivity. The rewards don’t have to be large and extravagant things. It can be as simple as having a quiet evening off, or perhaps a sweet treat, whatever you would consider a reward after some hard work.

Going back to the example of maintaining sobriety, after spending time following through with your programs, continuing your therapy, and maintaining contact with your stable support system, how can you reward yourself? Perhaps a nice dinner with those who are closest to you, or a nice night in with a bath and a movie. You can choose the things that give you a sense of satisfaction that are not detrimental to your sobriety.

Have hope. Hope is a driving force in making positive change in our lives. Hope often keeps us going when we feel like we do not have much else going for us. It can build us up and help us to work harder towards what we want for ourselves, and it can keep us on track with our goals.

Maintaining your sobriety requires a certain amount of hope, more specifically hope for the future. It is quite easy to find yourself in a pit of despair when things doing seem to be progressing as you had thought that they would. It is times like this when hope is your greatest tool. Hope will help you push through. Hope will help you keep moving forward and give you a more positive outlook.

Have a positive support system. We can draw a great amount of strength from those that we surround ourselves with. A positive support system is so important in maintaining a positive outlook. When we have people supporting us through our hard times and encouraging our successes, we are much more likely to flourish and take on new challenges.

A support system is vital to a successful recovery. Without support, it can be very difficult for you to stay on track and keep your goals in mind. It is important that the people you surround yourself with during the recovery process are understanding of your needs and are capable of being supportive of your goals and choices. It is also important that you trust these people to not expose you to things that will trigger a relapse. Your support system may be made up of both professionals and friends/family members.

Positivity can be a life changing choice. By choosing positivity, you are taking control of your future and your direction in life. This is a key in the recovery process that should not be overlooked. By motivating yourself, transforming your mindset, and awakening your potential, you can be successful in your recovery.

The Power of Affirmations

beliefs-and-affirmations-IIIt can be quite difficult sometimes to think of something positive about ourselves. At times, we are our own harshest critics. It is easier to point out our own flaws, than recognize the positive things about ourselves. It is so important that we can find the positive things about ourselves, developing our self-love.

shutterstock_132820748Self-love is something that many people struggle with, finding it hard to love and accept themselves for who they are. This can be because of a lifetime of being told that they aren’t good enough, trying to live up to impossible standards, and feeling like they have let people down when they don’t. There can be a lot of shame and guilt associated with insignificant failures, and they can be carried for years beyond the memory of the failure itself. These situations can take a serious toll on your well-being, namely your self-esteem and confidence, components that are essential to self-love.

Affirmations are a great way to boost self-esteem, confidence, and help you regain a sense of self-love. They are simple, easy to remember sayings that are meant to promote positive self-talk and remind you of just how great you really are. Affirmations are an easy way to remind yourself each and every day that there are so many great things about you. Affirmations can also be used to learn acceptance and move past some of the mistakes we might have made. Below are just a few examples.

I am worthwhile and intelligent. My contributions matter.daily_affirmations_giveaway_02

I am beautiful/handsome.

I love myself.

I forgive myself for the mistakes I have made.

I trust myself.

I can see the wonderful things that others see in me.

Coming up with your own affirmations will help making them more specific to yourself. Think about what you struggle to believe about yourself, and turn it into an affirmation. There is no reason for you to feel any less amazing than you are, and by taking a moment each day to remind yourself, you are building a path to a happier and healthier you.

Affirmations help remind us just how unique, capable, and special each and every one of us is. They lead us towards developing a better sense of self-love, contributing to a higher self-esteem and confidence level. Affirmations are extremely powerful and can help you change your outlook on yourself as well as your life. Next time you are feeling sad, scared, alone, or insignificant, remember just how amazing you are.