Friday, January 9, 2015

Warning: Showing Appreciation to Your Husband May Cause Surprising Creativity

A couple of years ago, my husband started making the bed in the morning. It think this came shortly after he learned one of my primary love languages is acts of service.

He was really funny about it in the beginning -- he wouldn't admit that he had done it. To show my appreciation, I would send him a text message to say thank you. He would respond with something like, "I don't know what you are talking about. Must have been the elves."

I thought it was pretty interesting that he would do something so nice for me, but not directly own up to it.

The story doesn't end there, though. Apparently, Paul has gotten bored of making the bed in the normal fashion, so he has started arranging the pillows in different patterns every day. Still blames the elves.

As a woman with a first-born, Type-A personality, do I care that the pillows are arranged in a different order every day? Surprisingly, not at all! It's fun! I look forward to seeing what he has done each morning, plus it's been a great conversation piece.

Why am I sharing this silly story with you? Of course, because it has a lesson! It demonstrates a vital and serious component of marriage -- appreciation.

In her book, For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn said, "Very few things are as powerful to a man as feeling that he has tried something, accomplished it, done it well, and someone noticed."

She continues to explain that hearing, "Thank you," "You did a great job" or "You are such a great dad" is far more emotionally powerful to a man than hearing "I love you."

So, when my husband did something nice for me, I showed him my love and appreciation by expressing sincere gratitude. Apparently I did that very well, because it encouraged him to take the task to a whole new level with surprising creativity!

But I've got a a little secret ... just between you and me. Sometimes I would like to "adjust" the bedspread a little after he makes the bed. You know, to make it perfect! As hard as it is, though, I usually do not touch it, because I don't want to tell him his job is not good enough.

When we thank our man, but tell him how he could have done it better, we dilute our "thank you" with criticism and make him feel like nothing he does is good enough. It's like saying, "You tried...and failed."

Simple appreciation is powerful! Just say, "Thank you!"

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How to Nurture Yourself -- Mind, Body & Spirit

Many of us women do not do a good job of nurturing ourselves. We act from our hearts and give so much time and attention to those around us, but inadvertently neglect ourselves.

Part of getting over this hurdle is first becoming aware that it is important to nurture yourself. Nurturing yourself is good for your mind, body and spirit. You will feel happier, more peaceful and more spiritually connected.

I find it is sometimes difficult for my clients to connect with the idea of nurturing themselves, so I have them tell me what they would do for their child if their child were sick.
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / RossHelen

Usually I get answers like:
  • Snuggle with them
  • Make them some soup
  • Bring them something to drink
  • Make sure they are comfortable
  • Take care of them so they can relax 
Now, imagine taking care of yourself this way every day. Maybe you need some time snuggling with your loved ones. Maybe you need some time relaxing with a good book. Maybe you might find it lovely to make a nice bowl of soup and have a candle lit dinner.

I advise my clients to first make a list of actions that would feel nurturing, then pick one idea to implement on a daily basis.

Here are a few suggestions in addition to the ones above to get you thinking:
  • Buy yourself something nice
  • Light a candle
  • Call or meet up with a friend
  • Spend time alone with God
  • Journal your feelings out on paper to release them
  • Do some yoga or any other exercise you enjoy
  • Spend a few minutes in meditation
  • Get a massage
  • Paint, write, sing or dance
I can not stress the importance of this enough. The more you do for yourself, the better you will be for yourself and for those around you! You have my permission -- nurture away!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Your #1 Enemy -- How You Talk to Yourself

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / katielittle25
In life, we often think our troubles come from the words or actions of others, but in truth, we can be our own worst enemy by how we talk to ourselves.

Do you beat yourself up for little mistakes? Are you constantly putting yourself down? Thinking you're not good enough? Smart enough? Strong enough? Would you talk to your best friend like that? Likely, not!

This trash talk is killing you. It's dragging you down. It's draining your energy. It's poisoning you with negativity.

Though it won't be easy, cleaning up this trash talk IS simple. The solution is to follow up any negative thought by loving that thought. Sound crazy? Sound backwards? It's not.

Here's how it works. Let's say you get angry and yell at your kids. Now you're mad at yourself for yelling. You calm down, apologize to the kids, and send them off to play. In the minds of your children, the situation is over, but not in your mind. You are feeling guilty and telling yourself you're not a good mother. "Good moms don't yell at their kids." "What is the matter with me?" "I'll never get this right!"

Usually, this toxic cycle goes on and on in our minds for hours or days after a negative event. But now you know better than to allow it.

Once you are aware that you are beating yourself up with negative thoughts, STOP, and say to the thoughts, "I love you. Thank you."

This step is a true miracle in action, because it surrounds a negative thought with love. And that is how we change for the better. Here is a secret: we don't change our imperfections by denying or hating them. We change them by loving them. Try it and notice the peace it brings you.

This is a spiritual practice. Does God try to change you by hating you and sending you negativity? No, he surrounds you with love at all times. But, it's up to you to take it from there and fill yourself up with love.

This is a big topic, and there is so much more to say, but for today, I'll leave you with this small bit to start practicing. Contact me if you need more assistance.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The 10 Minute Attitude Turnaround

Feeling crabby? Stressed? Rushed? Just plain unhappy? No worries, I've got a little life coaching tool to help turn your attitude around in under 10 minutes.
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / PixelsAway

First write out a list of everything that is making you feel stressed or unhappy.

Some examples might be:
1. I have to be in 3 places at once today
2. I still need to plan my dinner menu for next week and go grocery shopping
3. I haven't had time to work out all week
4. I am behind on my work
5. I overspent at Christmas
6. I have no time for myself
7. The kids are driving me crazy

Next, write one thing you are grateful for that relates to every stressor you wrote down. Let's take the sample list above and bring in some real gratitude.

1. My husband can help drive the kids! ... or ... I can ask my girlfriend to carpool!
2. I found that really great menu planning tool online!
3. Christmas break is almost over, and I will very soon be back to my regular workout schedule! ... or ... I can go for a 10 minute walk later today! ... or ... I can do some yoga at home right now!
4. At least I have a job! I know it will get done, it always does! ... or ... I can ask a co-worker for help!
5. Now that Christmas is over, I can get back to my regular budget and work with the overspending! ... or ... I'll get a refund from my taxes that will more than take care of the problem and I can start fresh!
6. I realize I need time alone. That's the first step! Kids are going back to school soon, and I will have more time to myself! ... or ... Maybe I can ask my husband or a girlfriend to hang with the kids for a while so I can have some me time.
7. The kids are going back to school soon! And P.S. I am so grateful they are happy and healthy!

I almost always find this tool turns my attitude around! There is something amazing about digging deep for gratitude when you just don't feel like it. You suddenly see that things are not that bad.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Starting the New Year Out on a Good Note with Love Letters to our Family

It was so sweet. About a week before Christmas my daughter announced she would like our family to go to reconciliation to "prepare our hearts for Jesus." To be totally honest, we are not regular reconciliation goers, so this thought made me a bit uncomfortable.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / SSilver
But, knowing she was right, we honored her request, and I am so glad we did! It was a great bonding experience for us as a family, plus, we had lots of laughs talking about it afterward!

The real gift came through Paul and I individually serving our penance.  We were each told to write a letter to our family affirming each person for their gifts and expressing our gratitude for them. We were asked to complete our letters by the start of the new year, because it would be a positive way to start the new year off.

For me, writing the letters was a wonderful way to slow down and appreciate my children and husband.

Sharing the letters was priceless. On New Year's Eve, we all gathered together to read our letters out loud. It felt joyful to see the reactions of everyone as wonderful things were being said about them. I'm thinking this should be an annual tradition -- only next year I will have the children writing, as well!

Happy New Year!