Positive Ways to Negotiate with Bullies

One of the definitions for “bully” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary includes: “a browbeating person who is cruel to others.” A definition for the word “negotiate” includes: “to arrange for or bring about through conference, discussion, and compromise.” Since the very core of negotiation is compromise -- and since that is often the very last thing bullies are prepared to do, it takes some thought to maneuver through a negotiation process with one. But it can be done!

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5 Ways to Cultivate Truth

“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.” – Cervantes, Don Quixote

It isn’t all that uncommon to find yourself bending the truth. People do it all the time. Sometimes it’s to spare someone else from feeling uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s to give ourselves an escape from consequences we know we’ll encounter if we tell the truth. But guess what? The truth will eventually come out,...
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3 Suggestions for Revising Unsupportive Stories

The stories we hold about ourselves can expand or narrow our lives. One example of limiting narratives revolves around what we believe we’re good at and what we believe we’re bad at. Helen McLaughlin’s clients often create these kinds of stories, letting them dictate their decisions and days. For instance, one client might hold the story that she can’t ask her boss for a raise because she’s bad at anything resembling a confrontation. And she’s really bad at advocating for herself.

The problem? This narrative “locks her into a future in which she has little control over what she can and can’t achieve at work and in life,” said McLaughlin, a transformation coach who helps smart, motivated life-explorers to leverage their curiosity, discover what exists for them beyond their default future, and achieve their Big Thing. Plus, the client might’ve created this story based on inaccurate or outdated information—a moment from many, many years ago.
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Revising the Negative Narratives We Tell About Ourselves

All of us hold stories about ourselves. Maybe you’re unwittingly telling yourself that in order to be lovable, you must always say yes to others and avoid upsetting them. At all cost. Maybe you’re telling yourself that you’re terrible at romantic relationships.

Maybe you’re telling yourself that you can’t switch careers, or succeed with having ADHD. Maybe you’re telling yourself that you don’t deserve kindness. Maybe you’re telling yourself that you can’t tolerate painful emotions. Maybe you’re telling yourself that you’re not creative or smart or qualified. Maybe you’re telling yourself that in order to be respected you must never show weakness or make mistakes.
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Marriage Meetings: Not for Everyone?

“I’ve been married 38 years. Are you saying my husband and I need to hold a formal meeting when we’re doing fine?” a radio talk show host challenged me.

Up until this point her tone had been contentious while I focused on practicing active listening (1) and on staying composed. I couldn’t blame her for being contentious. Her job is to inform and entertain listeners. Who doesn’t enjoy hearing a little skirmish now and then along with some good sound bites?

“Are you saying there’s no room for growth in your relationship?” I asked, in a puzzled tone.
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3 Tips for Helping Your Kids Develop Empathy

Every child is already empathic. We all are (with a few exceptions). We are wired for empathy. We are wired to connect, communicate and collaborate with others.

Empathy develops in infancy. “A child first learns to tune in to his or her mother’s emotions and moods, and later on to other people’s,” write Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl in their new book The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids.

They further explain, “What the mother feels, the child will feel and mirror. This is why things such as eye contact, facial expressions, and tone of voice are so important in the beginning of life. It is the first way we feel trust and attachment and begin to learn empathy.”
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The Transpersonal Nature of Intimacy

“In Zen Buddhism, intimacy is a very important word. In the early Chinese literature of Zen ... it was used as a synonym for the ... breakthrough that’s more commonly called realization or enlightenment. When you are intimate, you are one with. When you are not intimate, you are in your head.”
- Aitken Rōshi, The Ground We Share
Most of us experience a deep longing for an intimate connection. But have you considered how this longing stems from the very same impulse that moves us toward a spiritual life?

A vital spiritual life is different than clinging to high-minded religious ideas. Spirituality is synonymous with being intimate with our world. It’s not about the ideas in our head; it’s about the love in our heart. It's about our capacity to open to something larger than ourselves. We come into direct contact with the quiet pulse of life that flows through us and between us.
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7 Questions and Answers that Reveal the Truth about Your Marriage

Do you know your marriage as well as you think?

I’m a relationship coach and normally when people learn what I do, it sparks many conversations and even more questions. A lot of the time I sense they want to know what category their own marriage falls into.

They want reassurance that all is well on the home front or that what is going on for them currently is a normal part of married life.

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Connecting to Your Core Self

We often come across the term “core self” in magazines or online. Maybe we hear it in conversation. Maybe we hear statements like it’s important to connect to your core self. It’s important to develop a deep understanding of it. Doing so is vital for building a fulfilling, meaningful life.

But what is a “core self”? What does it really mean?

According to psychotherapist Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, “core self is your true self, or most authentic self.” It is our “inner wisdom, inner nurturer, wise self, feeling self, inner voice…” It is our values and personality, she said.
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How to Stop Beating Yourself Up for Messing Up

We tend to beat ourselves up for all sorts of things—for making a bad decision 2 years ago. For making a rude remark. For not going back to school when we were younger. For getting into debt. For staying in a toxic relationship for too long. For bombing an interview for a job we so desperately wanted. For not being productive. For being too sensitive. For misspelling a word. For giving a boring presentation.

Basically, for so many of us, the list is endless.

And, of course, we beat ourselves up for days, months, years. An insult-fueled record that plays on repeat.
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When an Apology Is Not an Apology

Why is apologizing so difficult? Saying “I was wrong, I made a mistake, I’m sorry” is more painful than root canal therapy for some people.

As a psychotherapist, I’ve found that our ability to apologize is directly related to the shame we carry. Burdened with a deeply ingrained sense of being flawed or defective, we mobilize to avoid being flooded by a debilitating shame.

When we recognize that we’ve done or said something offensive or hurtful, we may notice an uncomfortable feeling inside. We realize we’ve broken trust and done some damage.
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