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Monday, March 25, 2013

Personal Disasters Can Distort Self Image

I love to sing. Growing up I sang solos and duets in my church. I also sang in my school choir. My Junior High music teacher decided to weed out some of the students who sang off pitch. About forty kids went through a rigid test singing alone. At the end of the song the teacher hit the last note of the song on the piano. If the singer didn't match that note he or she would be out.

I was first. Terrified and shaking as I reached the last note, I was flat. The teacher looked shocked, but he had to follow through. Because everyone had to sing the same song, most of the others memorized the last note and easily passed the test.

That experience, besides being very embarrassing, distorted my perception about my ability to sing. I avoided singing in choirs until we attended a small chapel in Germany. The choir leaders sang professionally in a nearby Opera House. They taught voice lessons during the first fifteen minutes of weekly choir practice. I learned how to breathe and sing from my lungs. Imagine my surprise when one week the choir director asked me to sing the solo part for the Sunday service.

I began to realize that my interpretation of my singing ability based on my early experience had been disastrous and crippling. I sang with my first graders when I taught school and I loved singing to my own children. Singing filled my life with joy.

What distorted perceptions of yourself are you hanging on to? Are they crippling you in your relationships? You can correct those faulty interpretations of your abilities and free yourself of perceived weaknesses. Your relationships will be much easier because you will be free to focus on other people's strengths and not on your own weaknesses.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Do You Feel Loved?

To Love You Must Feel Loved

In his book "Escape from Phoniness", Aaron J. Ungersma stresses the importance of understanding your feelings. "For millions, the inner nature--the self--remains unexplored territory, full of unknown dangers, hostile forces, fearful possibilities. Anxiety, guilt, dread, surge to the surface in modern man. He is unsure of himself and marked by a restlessness, uneasiness, and loneliness unequaled in all of his previous history. Instead of being shut up within ourselves, is it possible to be locked up outside ourselves--to be out of touch with our inner selves?"

If There is No You, There is No One to Relate From

Are you one of the millions Ungersma describes in his book? Think about it. If you cannot give anything of yourself to others, you probably struggle with feeling loved. Identifying and owning your own perceptions and feelings can be frightening and painful, but it is necessary to genuine interpersonal relationship. If there is no self, there is no one to relate from.

That is why the second chapter in my book, "Becoming Soul Mates" is "Begin with You". The first question to ask, "How can I stay connected to you and still be who I am?"

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Learn to Negotiate

Unresolved Conflict Can Damage Relationship

What happens when you and your partner cannot resolve a conflict? Cold silences? Frustration? Long periods of unresolved issues? Blame and defense? Feeling of always being the one who gives in? Resolution to conflict is possible if you both are willing to negotiate.

How to Negotiate

First, clearly define the conflict. Then each of you makes a list of your needs. Brainstorm ways each of you will get some of those needs met. Neither of you will get all of your needs met. Decide on something to try. Follow through. After four to six weeks evaluate. If it is not working, try some thing else until you can find a solution both of you can live with.

Here is a simple example. We have three children and at the time of this incident a foreign exchange student living with us. The six of us went to the mountains to cut a Christmas tree. We all liked different trees. We finally chose a tree none of us hated. Sometimes that is a solution. Ongoing conflict can damage relationship. There is no such thing as winners and losers. If one loses, you both lose.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sharing Dreams Promotes Intimacy

Where Do Dreams Come From

Dreams have fascinated people from the beginning of time. Some experts insist they come from buried unconscious issues. Others see them as prophetic warnings. Psychiatrists explain them as psychotic ramblings produced by a sleeping brain. Whatever your perspective, most people find dreams fascinating. Sharing dreams with your special person opens new doors to intimacy and closeness. My husband and I have lots of fun trying to figure out what caused our dreams.

Sharing Dreams

Here is one of my dreams. Everett and I fell off a cliff on to a remote snow covered mountain peak with precarious footing. We were terrified we were going to die. Sure enough! The snow broke off again and we hurtled through the air. We yelled good-by to each other. This is it! Then we both landed softly in the snow surprised to be alive. Slowly we worked our way down the mountain. As we rounded a bend, we met a man, dressed in a forest ranger's uniform, and two companions climbing the mountain. They were nonchalant about us and clearly did not believe our story. Our fears melted. If they could climb up the mountain, we could get down the rest of the way.

Sharing my dream with Everett gave us an opportunity to explore and process fears and hopes we might share. It also made us start the day with laughter which is a great way to start any day.