Practicing Discernment for Guiding our Lives Well.

With all of the decisions we all face daily, learning the principle of discernment is a must. Well.. That is if we seek to live in a way that both challenges us and harmonizes with our own personal moralities.

Lets look a little deeper into the principle of discernment to see why it is so important. As well as to seek ways to better our lives with it.

A Life Without Discernment.

A life without discernment is a life without any sort of personal guidance system. It is a life of having whatever bodily impulse that comes to the surface to find it’s way into reality. The Buddha said that “the root of all suffering is ignorance of the causes of suffering.” This suffering that a lack of discernment can bring is no small thing.

I believe that the philosopher Plato would very much agree with Buddha’s quote above. Since he penned his teacher Socrates to say that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” A life that is not well thought out is guided by our own ignorance, and trailed by the regret of wasted time, energy and unnecessary suffering.

I do believe there is some attractiveness in not having to think deeply about the decisions we make. Maybe a sense of freedom arises from dreaming of a life where our decisions are magically made for us. But that sense of freedom is a fantasy. Granted, we should allow ourselves some freedom to quit thinking about the next decisions we have to make. We generally aren’t made for obsessively examining every detail of the next situation that life brings us. We need breaks, relaxation and possible vacations. But refusal or unawareness of the need to practice discernment for too long can push us into undesired situations.

Discernment Person

What is Discernment.

A Oxford dictionary definition for discernment is ” the ability to judge well.”

Now when I think of the word discernment, I think of decision making. More precisely, I think of being able to judge whether one decision is better than another. And on that note, which decision it is best for us as individuals to act on at the moment. There is a difference between discernment and decision making itself. Discernment is a principle that guides our bodily impulses down a life path that best fits us as individuals. The quality of a decision is based on the level of discernment we use. Our abilities to discern, are based on the level of our expertise.

The principle of discernment is a beautiful thing, though it is not necessarily an easy principle to develop. The principle is developed through learned experience. Through experience, important faculties develop for building our ability to discern well. First of all as we go through life taking risks, whether we fail or succeed, we learn. We learn the ins and outs of the specific areas in which we are taking the risk, developing expertise. Secondly, we learn more about what we are interested in in the first place. We come to learn more about ourselves, our tastes, our passions, and the areas that are most worth our time and energy. By taking risks, experimenting with our creative impulses intelligently and learning from these experiences we can become experts in living our own lives.

Becoming Discerning Individuals for Guiding Our Lives Well.

Above is stated that “our abilities to discern, are based on the level of our expertise.” This happens to apply to any area of life in which we choose to spend our lives developing. For example, your level of expertise in race car driving will guide the decisions you can make on the race track. Now if you don’t know much about race car driving you might not know how to discern what a good decision is on the race track. The same goes with any area of life.

A race car drivers expertise helps them discern better decisions on the track, no doubt. Under the same logic, the more bits of information we understand about ourselves, the better guides we can be for the direction of our own lives. Allowing us to take more intelligent risks, and more intelligently use all resources at our disposal.

Here are some tips for developing discernment, so we can effectively be positive guides for the direction of our own lives.

Doing Self Due-Diligence.

Due-Diligence is about doing our own research. We should be doing our own research on any activity that we care to succeed with. Without studying the information available and giving it sufficient thought, discerning the best decision ends up being a shot in the dark. Maybe get lucky, maybe just waste time. On the same note, if we don’t do our due-diligence in studying ourselves we won’t know ourselves well enough. We won’t know where to best focus our thoughts and actions, so our ability to discern the best decisions for ourselves will be blunted.  Studying and thinking deeply about our beliefs, interests, abilities and the areas of life these will be best applied is critical for living lives of which we can be proud. The idea of becoming experts in our own lives rings loudly here.

Nobody knows more about ourselves than we do, we know us at our cores, even if not consciously. There is a great deal of information I don’t consciously have about myself. I have to continue mining the depths of myself to connect with all of it.

There isn’t a single person that can be a closer expert in our lives, than ourselves. But other people around us have incredibly useful information about us that we may not see. Having healthy people we trust to help us gain knowledge about ourselves and our capabilities is very beneficial. This could be from a mentor of some sort, family members, self help books, or even a person we don’t know that says the right thing to us at the right time. Only we can make our own decisions, but the discernment of others can often help ourselves discern more effectively.

Discernment Self

Living on Purpose.

Purpose acts as a boundary and guide for the type of lives we want to live. You have probably heard the phrase “if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.” Falling for anything is not a healthy proposition. Having purpose means deciding what we are living for, which implies what we are not going to fall for. So my purpose to live a life that will create benefits for my loved ones, but not at the peril of others, keeps me from acting maliciously toward others for our gain. My purpose of respecting myself keeps me from acting in ways that will disrespect myself. Disregarding thoughts, activities, and people that could lead to reducing respect for myself, and focusing on those that will enhance it.

Our purposes and what we believe guide our impulses into the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, what we deem important, what to learn, and how to learn them. Purpose guides us into the areas in which we will gain our knowledge, the areas in which we will be discerning. Finding purposes that align with our healthy desires allows are ability to discern to be guided in a healthy way.

Discernment

Well, that is all we have for today, and thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth. We wish you growth on your path of practicing the principle of discernment in your life. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
  1. If you would like to help support this website by offsetting some of the costs of running it. There is a PayPal button below or in the right sidebar, depending on if you are viewing with mobile or by computer.
  2. Join our email list below, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
  3. Share this article on your social media.
  4. Follow our Facebook page.

 

My Life Experiment

Welcome! We are Travis and Casey Hagen, the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.

To Support My Life Experiment.
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Putting our Trust into Ourselves.

Putting our Trust into Ourselves.

Learning to be trust other people in this world is a critical skill to learn for building healthy relationships. As well as for managing mental health.

But even more important is to learn to be trusting of ourselves. Let’s talk more about self trust to find the difficulties and tips for a healthy path to doing so.

Trust and Vulnerability.

I found an interesting definition of trust which is to “give credit to a customer.” This definition is speaking of a transaction that of course would generally be for money, goods, or services. But this definition leads us to an interesting question. What are we giving away when we give our own trust in the non business relationship sense, or even in that sense? The best answer that comes to mind is that to give our trust is to be vulnerable, it is to give of ourselves.

To trust someone or something takes a decision to. So, essentially a decision to be vulnerable by offering up ourselves or property to the needs of the moment. This decision could be the very thing that allows someone to save us from great pain or death one day. Now being vulnerable is not a popular concept for most individuals, it is an even more unpopular feeling. But to have healthy relationships with the people around us, as well as ourselves it is something we must risk. Our lives and our livelihoods do actually depend on it.

Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is in a sense to surrender ourselves to the unknown. We have a need to be filled and so we rely on others to take care of what we cannot. For us to trust we are allowing something or someone we cannot control, to take care of their personal part of that unknown. The risk in this is of course being betrayed. Having an individual whom we have given our trust to, take advantage of our vulnerability.

There can be great risk in trusting, this is for sure. But in learning to trust ourselves we can find a better monitoring system for putting our trust in more trustworthy places.

More to Ourselves than We can Control.

We must learn to trust others, yes. The people around us may recognize certain problem areas that we may not see on our own. Though being able to give ourselves some of that very same trust is an absolute must. It is a must if we desire not just to live out a life, but to live our a life we can truly call our own.

It is an interesting thing to say we need to trust ourselves. Because the description seems to cut our selves, into multiple pieces. There is now the self the we should be trusting, and there is now the self that gives the trust. It makes sense though, there are a incredible amount of physical processes going on in each of our bodies at this very moment, that we don’t really have control over. We generally don’t have to think about our breathing, our hearts beating, or the blood rushing through our bodies.

Much like those processes “we” are also doing all sorts of other things behind our own backs. Such as the formulating and retrieving of knowledge and wisdom in our brains and the rest of our bodies. In fact, I have come to find many of my best ideas without even attempting to think about them. Many times ideas and moments of insight come completely out of the blue.

But in order to enlist the fullness of information of our own bodies, it needs our vulnerability. We need to ask the unknown in ourselves to help guide us.

To Trust the Unknown in Ourselves.

To trust ourselves, is to be vulnerable to the unknown within ourselves to take care of ourselves. It is to trust our own internal processes, our intelligences, our ability to surprise ourselves.

The relationship that we develop with ourselves is the most important relationship we have. Nobody knows us better than ourselves. Or at least the information is here within ourselves, we just need to be open and willing to find it. Here are some ideas for allowing this process of coaxing out and trust the wisdom that is within us.

1. Trust in Healthy Relationships.

I feel that with the topic of learning to trust ourselves, we must not overlook the importance of having sufficient healthy relationships. Without these relationships, trusting ourselves too much may not be the best idea. The love from our relationships is a life energy that should not be lived without. It is these connections with others that helps to ignite our own creative natures.

Now although having healthy relationships helps to fuel our own creativity, these relationships are no way more important than the one we have with ourselves. It is important to trust the information of our healthy relationships. But if the guidance of these relationships goes against our own healthy desires, we may have to blaze our own trails.

group trust

2. Surrendering to Ourselves.

In order to allow the pieces of ourselves we cannot control to work in our favor, we need to give them a entrance into our conscious awareness. Constantly stuffing our senses with information will make it difficult for the wisdom of our bodies to get through to us. A healthy relationship doesn’t happen with ourselves when obsessing about this thing and the next. The space needs to be created for new impulses from our bodies to speak to us.

We need to slow down, take breaks, and practice relaxation in some manner. Surrendering can be a difficult thing to do since some impulses may fight to maintain our attention. But trusting that the process of our bodies will work better by practicing surrender makes it easier. We may get the fear of missing out on something which makes it difficult to let go. But what is coming next in our lives will be much more enjoyable and fruitful with the healthy relationship we develop with ourselves.

3. Regularly Communicate with Self.

Communication is at the core of any healthy relationship. The relationship we have with our own bodies is no different.

To communicate with ourselves means both talking and listening. If there are impulses that we don’t understand asking for our awareness, we can ask what they are seeking. That isn’t to say these impulses will give us an immediate and definitive answer. But over time our openness and willingness to listen will foster a healthy relationship with them. They begin to learn that we are a safe place to become known.

We can communicate with that which we cannot control in ourselves to gain understanding and guidance for living life as well. Asking ourselves questions can help coax our subconscious minds to seek the answers to our questions. Even after we have forgotten that we have asked them. Often times making these requests for help comes in times of distress. A willingness to trust and be vulnerable might be easier in desperate times. But we need not wait until times of great stress to have the support of this relationship. Regular respectful and sincere communication with ourselves, ensures that a trusting relationship will develop over time.

In this relationship we develop with ourselves, we can find ourselves, as well as the most important guidance we may ever know.

Trust Self

Well, that is all we have for today, and thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth. We wish you growth on your path of learning to trust yourselves more deeply. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
  1. If you would like to help support this website by offsetting some of the costs of running it. There is a PayPal button below or in the right sidebar, depending on if you are viewing with mobile or by computer.
  2. Join our email list below, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
  3. Share this article on your social media.
  4. Follow our Facebook page.

 

 

My Life Experiment

Welcome! We are Travis and Casey Hagen, the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.

To Support My Life Experiment.
Negotiation with Our Bodies Impulses.

Negotiation with Our Bodies Impulses.

Living a healthy and respectable life is all about negotiation. It is about getting our needs met. And not meeting the needs of our bodily impulses that will harm us.

Lets look more in depth in the topic of learning healthy negotiation skills with our emotional impulses. Learning how to see when these impulses point at our bodily needs that need fulfillment, or past energies that may need some closure.

Negotiation With our Impulses?

To negotiate is to communicate with the purpose of reaching agreements. I generally hear the word in the realm of business and hostage retrieval. But we all negotiate terms many times a day with ourselves. Of course with other people but here we are talking about our relationship with the constant flow of impulses that are coming from within our bodies. In fact, the first negotiation I usually make in my day is whether or not I will hit my snooze button or simply wake up when the alarm goes off the first time. I generally do wake up right away because I enjoy money and making it to work on time. My desire for more sleep expresses itself, but at least most of the time I cannot accept its terms.

Then throughout the day I am nudged by many impulses to act. Many of the requests are clearly acceptable so I agree to them. Like putting my jacket on because it’s cold outside, or grabbing a bite to eat because of hunger. Others can be pretty absurd and so I cannot. As in, sorry anger impulse it wouldn’t be appropriate to curse your client out at this moment. Some requests are in the middle and require a little extra thought for me to make a decision. We are pretty much constantly negotiating with ourselves.

This concept of continuous negotiation with ourselves may not be something that we think about often, or maybe ever. But it is happening all the time and getting the most out of it requires that we wake up to the process.

Waking up to the Negotiation.

To be awake to this process takes effort. It takes reminding ourselves that a healthy life is a process of allowing these impulses to find fulfillment in acceptable ways or even closure. Staying awake to responsibly negotiate requires us to get to know ourselves on much more than a surface level. It requires us to be pay attention to our bodies requests, and be the compassionate but stern gatekeepers for how those requests are met.  Sometimes these impulses should not be given the time of day, and sometimes we better meet their needs, or else.

As addicts in recovery we at My Life Experiment have had to learn a great deal about negotiating successfully with our bodily impulses. Here are some ideas that we have developed over the years.

1. Regularly step away from the negotiation.

Our bodies are constantly sending us impulses to take of all sorts of things. Some sane, others not so much. It is easy to become overwhelmed with all of their requests, and with their stronger demands. At times it is easy to keep up with all these impulses. Other times there is a sort of paralyzed feeling, unaware of how to proceed with this backlog of energy.

Stepping away from the negotiating is extremely important to do regularly. It is intensely beneficial to our minds and bodies to just sit, take deep breathes, and feel these impulses. In this time we should not think about how we should take care of our next impulse, just feel it. Forget about dinner prep, work tomorrow, how the kids are doing, how the bills will get paid, etc… After sitting with these energies non-judgmentally you can go right back to all those thoughts, possibly with more clarity on how to handle them.

Negotiation Meditation
2. Goals are important.

It is important to have goals for our futures. We can use these goals to help guide us to the ways we should get our needs met. Take the need for food for example. If I have the goal of losing 10 pounds this month, I should probably get that need taken care of with food that will help that goal happen.

Without goals for the future it can be extremely difficult to negotiate healthy outcomes for our impulses. And much easier to take the “easy way out.” Seeking quick fixes, and not thinking enough about what we deeply desire for the direction of our lives. If you want to learn more about setting these goals here is a nice WikiHow page on the subject of goal setting.

3. Learn to Differentiate an impulse that Needs Fulfillment or Needs Closure.

It is very true that not all of the impulses that come from our bodies are needs. We have plenty of wants that seek our attention as well. Some of these wants reasonable, others not so much.

Meeting or needs and reasonable wants in healthy ways is very important. I would say that our lives depend on this. But those other impulses that are all wrapped up in energy from unmet needs long in the past need something different. What these impulses need is closure. They need to be felt. Not acted upon since they are no longer connected to the realities that we are currently coping with.

Learning to differentiate a need and reasonable want from these no longer viable impulses requires us to get to know ourselves. When we get that feeling of confusion about where an impulse is coming from, there are some things that can be done. Such as doing some therapeutic writing, chatting with a trusted friend, or seeking some professional help. Through these processes we can get to know whether we should go ahead and act on the impulse, or let it fade away into the background.

4. Do not Negotiate with but Love Impulse Terrorists.

There have been times in my recovery where I have had to navigate intense emotions that desired to act on in ways that would have had negative consequences for me. When not acting on them, there is a feeling of an “internal temper tantrum.’ I get the feeling of a little child laying on the floor pounding and kicking away, when the impulse does not get its way. In a way, the impulse is trying to terrorize us into getting what it wants.

When dealing with energies like this I find it important to not give in to them. To not negotiate with them, but that doesn’t mean neglect them either. This impulse needs closure, it is hurting, it needs some love, and possibly to be grieved. If I am not feeling that I can give it the loving attention it needs. Then I need to go to outside sources, such as trusted friends, or possibly for professional support.

Negotiation Needs

5. Track Progress of Pesky Impulses.

When struggling with acting on impulses in ways that benefit the healthy self we desire to be, tracking our progress can be beneficial. When noticing an impulse that we habitually meet in unhealthy ways, mark it down in a notebook. Name the habit, talk about what that impulse feels like, thoughts that go with it, etc.. Then check back in with the notebook to report progress weekly or monthly, depending on how pesky the impulse is and how quickly change is desired.

That is all we have for today, and thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth. We wish you growth on your path of learning healthy negotiation with your bodily impulses. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
  1. If you would like to help support this website by offsetting some of the costs of running it. There is a PayPal button below or in the right sidebar, depending on if you are viewing with mobile or by computer.
  2. Join our email list below, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
  3. Share this article on your social media.
  4. Follow our Facebook page!

My Life Experiment

Welcome! We are Travis and Casey Hagen, the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.

To Support My Life Experiment.
Showing Compassion Responsibly.

Showing Compassion Responsibly.

When building solid personal relationships we must not be only interested in our own best interests. We must look out for the interests of others, we must show compassion.

Let’s look a little deeper into what compassion is, why it may be tough to practice, and some ideas for becoming more compassionate people.

What is Compassion.

So what is compassion? Here is what Webster has to say about it. Compassion is a “suffering with another; painful sympathy; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another.” Compassion arises out of a state of empathy, a state that allows us to connect with the emotional status of other individuals.

The feeling of compassion elicits a motivational driving force. A force that naturally seeks to alleviate the suffering of the individuals we are in contact with. Through empathy we are brought to meet another where they are at. With compassion we are brought to emotion to effect change on their lives for the better. It is a deeply human emotion that can alleviate suffering for those helped, as well as the helper.

Without a healthy dose of compassion healthy relationships are not possible. This emotion has a way of taking us out of our own mental and emotional worlds, giving a break from our own struggles. Doing this so that we can produce beneficial change for someone else. Maybe that individual is someone we have deep emotional bonds with, or maybe somebody that we have never met.

Compassion Hanging

Our Own Needs and the Difficulty of Showing Compassion.

We all have needs, I do, you do, we do. And compassion for others is about helping to take care of needs they have that are causing them suffering. There are times where this is easy while other times it is like pulling teeth. What makes showing it for others difficult can be that our own needs feel that they require more urgent attention.

Maybe we haven’t been sleeping or eating well, or are feeling some sort of sickness. We could also be grieving in some way, be busy with tasks, or having a rough patch to go through. Whatever the reason, the needs of others simply may not feel like any of our own responsibility. When feeling too needy myself the pain of other people can seem to be too much to handle.

But the problem is that too much pushing away of other people’s pain can become a habit. A habit that does lead away from showing our humanness to those that may need it. Research has showed that “feeling compassion our heart rates slow, we release oxytocin, and even areas registering pleasure in our brains light up.” Closing ourselves off from being compassionate people means that we will not get to experience its physiological benefits. Letting this feeling happen and showing it to others is one of our many needs.

Needs of ours that we don’t take care of, find ways to affect our lives negatively. What we need is to find a balance between taking care of enough of our others needs, as well as our need to be there for others.

How to Responsibly Show Compassion for Others.

Showing compassion is a human need. But it is only one of our many needs. For me, it feels good to help others with their difficulties. This good feeling only goes so far though. When doing too much for others while neglecting other needs that are not compassion related, trouble is being asked for. Responsibly showing compassion for others can be a difficult balancing act, but can be found.

Compassion Help

1.Compassion for Self.

This feeling is not just for other people. Putting ourselves out there too much for others while not taking care of ourselves, means we are not being compassionate with ourselves. There are many ways that we can show compassion for ourselves. One of those ways happens to be showing enough of it for others. But that is not enough.

I always have enjoyed the airplane oxygen mask analogy for self-care. Which means that we are supposed to make sure our own masks are on first before helping the person next us. Because if we cannot breathe we are not going to be much good to anyone else. No, that way I essentially turn myself into a liability. It can be difficult to let the world take care of itself, while we get our heads straight. While we get a nice workout in, meditate, nap or do some therapeutic writing. But we need to connect with our own neediness in these ways so that we are even more available to be there for others when the time comes.

2.Check in with Our Motives for Helping.

Our motivations for why we do what we do is a difficult thing to figure out. But I personally believe that us human beings do what we believe is in our own interests. Also, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that. It just so happens that helping others can also be in our own interests. We get rewarded from helping others. Maybe the reward happens to be external, like money or praise. The reward may be are own ability to light up our brains with very human feel good chemicals like oxytocin.

We need to check into the reason we feel the need to help. Not be overly critical or judgmental about these motives, but just to see what they might be. The reason this is important is because if our goal is to be compassionate to both ourselves and the other individuals, we will want to make sure we are coming from a place of compassion. Sometimes the motivations can be rooted in drastic codependence. Trying to do too much for others that can already do for themselves. Possibly coddling others in an unconscious grab for the feeling of control. If through investigation you come to realize relational codependence is a problem. Don’t judge it too harshly. But please do make an effort to change if that is what is desired.

3. Learn When to Say Yes and When to Say No.

There are times that we should be saying yes to being helpful. And there are times that we probably should be saying no. Each of our levels of empathy and compassion are different, as well as our levels of energy to show them. So I can’t tell any of you what is yours to handle and what is not. But for me if the help I am giving doesn’t overly interfere with the health of my family, and I know the individuals involved cannot take care of it themselves, then I can responsibly help. Otherwise I must surrender their needs to care of others.

There are countless areas to connect with the suffering of others. Look on the news, it is everywhere I look. I don’t have the time or emotional availability to handle all emotional pulls to alleviate this suffering. But I do what I can where I can. Where I can’t and where I shouldn’t get a no from me these days. That no isn’t always easy, but is necessary for being a stable support in the relationships (including myself) that I currently take responsibility for.

What is written here has come from struggle and growth. I wish you growth on your path of learning how to be more responsibly compassionate person. And thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
  1. Share this article on your social media.
  2. Follow our Facebook page!
  3. If you would like to help support this website by offsetting some of the costs of running it. There is a PayPal button below or in the right sidebar, depending on if you are viewing with mobile or by computer. 
  4. Join our email list below, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.

Thank you so much!

 

My Life Experiment

Welcome! We are Travis and Casey Hagen, the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.

To Support My Life Experiment.
Maintaining Healthy Communication Through Differences.

Maintaining Healthy Communication Through Differences.

Good communication in any relationship is essential for continued growth. As well as keeping problems from growing into something that could tear them apart.

I bet it isn’t a surprise for any of you to hear that communication is important for relationship health. Then why is that somewhere around 65% of divorcees site that communication problems were their biggest issue in bringing those marriages to an end?

My guess is that we all know that it is important, but either forget that in the heat of the relationship or never developed the proper skills to communicate healthily in the first place.

Lets talk about why healthy communication is important to the health of relationships, why it can be difficult, and some ideas for smoothing out the process. Not just for the romantic type of relationships like marriages, but for relationships of all sorts.

Communication Differences

Communication Through a Sea of Differences.

Communication can be extremely difficult because we are all so different. We have different beliefs, values, communication styles, expectations, trust issues, past traumas, and the list goes on and on. With so many differences to navigate, it is a surprise that us human beings can hold any relationship together. To create healthy relationships we need to learn to bridge the gap between all the differences we have. Now that gap is easier to bridge with some individuals more than others. Though I do believe that most individuals can find a way to close that gap and build healthy relationship with all those others that are also able.

The sea of differences between us breeds unpredictability. And I don’t know about you, but my brain loves being able to predict what is coming next. I like to know what the people around me are thinking, feeling and planning. But I also know that my brain likes shortcuts. So instead of starting a conversation with an individual, I may just come up with an idea in my own head and treat it as reality. Making the assumption that I know what this person is up to no good, when really they are just fine.

This doesn’t mean that some individuals are not dangerous and shouldn’t be trusted. But to know for sure we will need some direct evidence from outside of our own skulls. That is where learning how to communicate in a healthy way comes into play.

What is Healthy Communication?

Healthy communication is a balanced method for communicating. It is assertive, meaning that is neither too aggressive or passive. It is the sweet spot of connecting with the core energies of anyone we come across.

There is no relationship that will grow in a healthy way without consistent communication in this style. It binds our relationships together in a way that is informative, mainly enjoyable, and respects the personal boundaries of all involved. Allowing our relationships to live and let live, without letting them walk all over our dreams. It helps mesh our collective dreams, enhancing and not snuffing out the life long desires of others.

Communicating in a healthy way, often enough allows for a relationship to be strong, flexible, and unified. It keeps all parties on the same page, leaving less uncertainty to obsess about. Do this enough and it will be a formidable force to navigate through the world of differences that are both inside and outside the relationship.

Methods for Communicating Through Differences.

We will not be able to get rid of all the differences and unpredictability in our relationships. But relationships need equal life energy from all parties involved to be there best. What we need are methods to get by the barriers in ourselves and the others in our relationships to healthy communication happen. Here are some methods to ponder.

1. Get to Know and Respect The Others Beliefs.

We all have different beliefs. Many of our beliefs whether religious, ethical, or political conflict heavily with the beliefs of others. Learning about these beliefs and how to respect them is of great importance to building a relationship with them. To respect their beliefs is not to tip toe our own beliefs around them. No, in the process we also need to respect our own beliefs. Respecting their beliefs also doesn’t mean believing them, but we do not need to be rude or putting them down for having them.

I have had many respectful conversations about many controversial topics with those that deeply believe the opposite of me. What I have learned is that just because someone believes the opposite of me, doesn’t mean they are insane. They have something to teach me and I have something to teach them.

2. Respect Others Communication Styles.

There are many different communication styles. Some are very expressive, emotionally putting themselves out there openly unapologetically. Others, much like myself are more reserved unable and not wanting to express themselves in that same way. For communication to be balanced and healthy the different styles need to meet in the middle somehow to be equals. The more aggressive style may need to slow down for the passive to get a word in edgewise. And the more passive may need to speak up more so that the more aggressive doesn’t dominate the conversations.

To respect the styles of the others, we need to test the waters and make adjustments. These adjustments may be difficult to make since our communication styles are well established. But as painful and frustrating it may be, to get the most out of our relationships with these various styles the adjustments must be made.

3. Have a Growth Mindset when Learning to Communicate.

Developing Healthy Relationships has been one of the most difficult things for me to learn. I have put my foot in my mouth over and over again, disrespected people, been too aggressive, been too avoidant, assumed too much and listened too little. I believe the only way to develop healthy communication skills is to practice, make a fool of ourselves and learn.

I do believe that the art of communication is about getting to the place in which we are equals. Where we are not trapped in a game of superiority or inferiority. With all the issues we have, getting to equality with others can be feel like an impossible destination. It is possible though. With a lot of hard work and practice it is possible. With a mindset that is focused on learning from mistakes and growing from them over time the skills develop. This is what I have come to learn through my own experience.

I wish you well on your path of learning how to communicate in healthier ways. And thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.
  1. Please like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Follow our Facebook page!
  4. Join our email list below, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.

 

My Life Experiment

Welcome! We are Travis and Casey Hagen, the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.

To Support My Life Experiment.
The Struggle is Real?

The Struggle is Real?

They say that “The Struggle is Real.”

Urban Dictionary defines the statement as “The hardness and difficulties of every day life being unbearable and apparent.”

It is usually used to describe fairly simple problems that the average “first world” human being goes through. Like having a tire get a flat, only getting a half nights sleep, or the countless times where expectations are not met. Which are fairly simple problems compared to the amount of people that are suffering greatly all over the world.

Hearing the statement lately I came to think of the statement at another angle. How much time do we spend struggling with problems that don’t really exist.

Homeless struggleOf Course the Struggle is Real.

Yes there is struggle in the world, there is pain and there is suffering. I would imagine that is something we can all agree on.

Honestly I cannot imagine the horror that many “first world” citizens go through, as well as a much higher percentage that are found in the “third world.”

I live in Fargo, North Dakota. Compared to probably over 90% of the world’s population I exist in the spoiled zone. No I don’t have loads of money, or a flashy car. But I have a growing family in a nice house, running water, and a decent job. Considering that roughly 60% of the world doesn’t even have running water, I would say that I am in pretty damn good shape.

Though of course I do struggle, have pain, and yes the occasional suffering. It may not be as much as others struggle. Though even though I may not struggle as much as others, does not make mine less important. The obstacles that enter my path, whether big or small, must be negotiated none the less. I say the same goes for everyone of you if there is struggle, it needs to be dealt with in some manner or another.

Real Struggles with Fantasized Problems?

There are real problems and of course many issues to find ourselves struggling with. But how much of the struggle is stemming from problems that aren’t really problems at all?

Let me ask you a few questions. Have you ever worked yourself up, worrying over a problem you were sure was going to harm you or others? Planning and plotting to respond, so sure that a messy situation that required swift action was going to take place? One more question. Have you ever had the time come when this problem was going to erupt and you realize nothing is happening? The problem that was expected, didn’t show up after all.

How much of our struggles do we bring onto ourselves by fantasizing problems that never show up? Or over-dramatizing something that could be a little struggle into a big one? Of course I cannot answer this question for you. It is hard enough to answer this question for myself.

Process to Lessen the Amount that We Struggle.

Life of course brings about great amounts of pain. For example, we can’t control that loved ones pass away. We also can’t control all sorts of other curveballs the world throws at us. Many problems are ones that cannot be ignored, and if we do they will haunt our consciousness until we deal with them. I repeat. The real problems that we don’t deal with will haunt us until we deal with them. And inevitably will only bring more struggle than would have taken place had we dealt with them in the first place.

With all of the real problems life inevitably brings do you really want to waste all sorts of time and energy on those that aren’t even real? I know I don’t.

The trick to limiting the amount of fantasized problems, and taking care of the real is not a simple one.  It takes hard work and vigilance to keep ourselves in reality in this way. Though the years I have spent in recovery with this brain that is prone to worry and fantasy have learned a great deal. Here are some essential tips that I have come to live by.

1. Staying Emotionally Balanced.

Staying on our emotional A-game is so important to keeping our problems and our struggles in reality. Past emotions have a way of creeping into the present. Leading us to believe that history is going to repeat itself. Thus projecting a fantasy of our own creation onto our future selves.

To keep problems and struggles in reality our emotions need to be in reality. Checking in to settle down our emotions in times of struggle can save a lot of suffering. For me I generally do this through meditation, therapeutic writing, or chatting with healthy people I trust.

Struggle Friend2. Being Connected to Healthy People.

Being connected to these people that will not allow me to complain but will respect my emotions has been so important. Without the support of all the people around me from friends, family and colleagues I would spend an absurd amount of time with unnecessary struggles. The Philosopher Aristotle said that we “are by nature social animals.” I couldn’t agree more, we are not meant to do this life thing on our own.

When running our troubles by our trusted people we may be surprised or even pissed off when told we are wasting our time and energy. They can point out real problem that we are not seeing, or emotion that is clouding our judgment. They could point out that we are obsessing about a situation that doesn’t exist. Hell sometimes they even let us know that we aren’t crazy and they actually agree! Their insights are invaluable.

3. Deal with Real Problems as Soon as Possible.

As much as we might like them to go away, there is no amount of denying the real problems in our lives that will make them fantasies. If we feel we need to take care of a problem and the stakes don’t feel risky, then I am generally safe to go ahead and do it. But if the stakes seem a little risky and we are confused in anyway about what we should be taking care of. Then I take some time out to go back to Steps 1 and 2.

As soon as I find out to the best of my and my trusted peoples abilities that my problem needs dealing with, I do it. Taking prompt actions with our real problems keep our struggles from growing unnecessarily. I also find that I find myself creating problems out of thin air, while I am procrastinating something else that actually needs my care

4. Let Fantasized Problems Fade Away

The more strongly convinced we are that our fantasized problems are real, the more difficult it is to let them go. But to quit wasting our time with them and get busy living in the real, we need to let them go. Or else we will just spend our time struggling with these problems in a fruitless attempt to make them reality.

There is a grieving process that goes along with letting our fantasized problems fade away. Letting our belief in a fake problem go can actually be painful. We may think that we are putting ourselves in a dangerous situation. Dealing with the emotions that come out of this process has to happen to let them go. That emotion that may stem from who knows when can now get some much needed attention. And we can move forward with a little less struggle in our lives and more energy on creative ways to bring success into our lives.

I wish you well on your path of struggling less on problems that don’t exist. And thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment today. If you enjoyed what you read then I would love for you to do a couple things for us.

  1. Please like and leave a comment below.
  2. Share this article on your social media.
  3. Join our email list, which will get you a copy of our Therapeutic Writing Guide, and have our new articles sent directly to your email.
  4. Follow our Facebook page!

My Life Experiment

Welcome! We are Travis and Casey Hagen, the writer's and owner's of My Life Experiment. As recovering Individuals, we are no strangers to leaving behind dysfunctional ways of living. Over the years we have become adept at managing our intense mental and emotional worlds. Finding healing from the past, peace in the present and new ways to bring about success for our futures. We promote Healthy Life Experimentation Principles for connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and finding healthier ways of bringing about success in our lives. Stick around and pick up what we have learned. You will not be disappointed.

To Support My Life Experiment.
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