Life is full of choices. Some choices may take months or years to decide, others are so seemingly inconsequential that we may not even notice ourselves making them. The question is, why do we make the choices that we make? What motivates us to choose this over that from one moment to the next? How can we make sure that our choices serve us, not just for right now, but over the long haul? These are essential questions to answer if we want to cultivate mastery over our lives.
The human mind can be easily deceived sometimes. In its perennial effort to accurately interpret our world, it is unfortunately prone to making some serious mistakes. This is exceedingly evident in the case of optical illusions, were the mind is tricked into believing something is true that, in fact, is false. The image below, for instance, is completely static and unmoving, made by colors and patterns fixed in space. Is this what you see?
Relationships are the stuff of life. Quite literally, nothing in the universe exists that isn't in a relationship to a whole bunch of other stuff, not to mention (indirectly) everything else in existence too. Of course, we homo sapiens, when we discuss relationships, we're usually referring to the face-to-face, human-to-human variety, which are by far the most complicated of them all. In this article, I'll explain what makes our interpersonal interactions just so mischievously difficult, and what to do about all those threesomes in which we keep unwittingly finding ourselves.
People are always changing, flowing through shifting emotional states. As we morph throughout time, one of the things that fluctuates is our desire for emotional--and physical--closeness. This phenomenon can really complicate relationships! Your partner might not want to cuddle or have sex or share a meaningful conversation at the exact moment you do, or vice versa. You might want to feel closer to someone who doesn't want closeness, or want more distance from someone who seeks greater closeness from you. An important question then arises: What's the best way to manage these ever-shifting desires for closeness and distance? Here's what I tell clients.
Conventional wisdom is great for creating ordinary relationships, but creating extraordinary relationships takes extraordinary means, means that replace conventional thinking with a less conventional, more out-of-the-box approach to connecting. In this article, I quickly debunk the top 10 relationship myths I see most often in couples counseling.
Confidence is one of the biggest predictors of future success. Those who have an abundance of self-confidence radiate conviction and strength; they carry themselves unapologetically, willingly take on new challenges, and face obstacles with determination and optimism, certain that they will triumph against any and all odds. Indeed, those with high self-esteem seem to have a much easier go of things in general, in work, in relationships, in everything. Unfortunately, some people struggle with this important trait, while others have it in spades. As such, I'd like to discuss why this disparity exists and, more importantly, what anyone can do to build their own self-esteem--and reap the rewards of doing so.
People can be real jerks. They can be rude, condescending, insulting. They can be greedy, selfish, egotistical. They can be stubborn, narrow-minded, hard-headed, and sometimes just plain mean. You probably know a few people like this, people you avoid as much as possible, those sundry unpleasant sorts you've come to regard as, well, assholes.
When we were young, we asked permission quite often. Can I watch another TV show? Can I be excused? Can I spend the night at Bobby's house? Can I borrow the car? When we had parents or caregivers lording over our choices and freedom, asking permission made perfect sense. Since childhood, you've probably been taught that asking permission was the polite, courteous and appropriate thing to do. After all, it seemed a whole lot more considerate--and ultimately less complicated--than sneaking out of the house or stealing the family car without asking.
However, if you're reading this article right now, you're likely no longer living with mom and dad, but nonetheless still haven't fully outgrown this pesky habit of asking permission. Maybe you ask your partner for permission to stay out late with your friends. Or maybe you ask your boss permission to take a day off from work. If you have kids, you may even ask them permission to wipe their face clean or put on their shoes. If so, you're bound to have suffered some of the negative consequences that come from asking permission.
Imagine that you are about to embark on a long-distance, solo motorcycle ride across the Mojave desert. The trip is bound to be grueling and, if you know anything about motorcycles, you can be certain that your vehicle is going to break down, probably multiple times, during your journey. Since you’re going on this adventure alone, not knowing how to make repairs along the way would put you in serious peril. In fact, you’d be wise to cancel the trip entirely. However, if you are skilled in the art of motorcycle maintenance, then no problem! You can fearlessly set forth without reservation. When dilemmas and challenges arise, you’ll know just what to do to get yourself back up and running.
Relationships are a lot like this. Although it might look like you are going on such an adventure with a partner, in truth you are going alone. You are still you, a separate individual setting out on a journey that, at times, may be grueling and will invariably present you with an assortment of unexpected challenges. Anticipating anything else would be like trusting that your motorcycle will flawlessly traverse the Mojave without encountering a single hitch. The odds of that? Zero.
The issue of boundaries has long been a hot topic in the field of interpersonal psychology and, over the course of the past several decades, much has been written about this important subject. Questions about how to understand and define one’s personal limitations and to communicate these effectively to others so that these are respected and honored are valuable ones to answer. As such, the idea I am going to share in this article is not intended to completely contradict or undermine notions of “healthy boundaries”, but rather to develop this concept one step farther—toward the place where even “healthy boundaries” can be replaced with something, well, even more extraordinary.