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The secret sauce of relationships

Do you know how to almost instantly turn around a struggling relationship? Start noticing what the person is doing right. And acknowledge it.

When we are upset at someone, it is easy to start focusing on what they are doing wrong and how they are annoying us. However, most people in our lives are doing more things that are right and wrong. It is just that the human mind tends to focus on what is wrong while ignoring or taking for granted what is right.

Your 16 year old, for example, might be driving you crazy because he just cannot clean up his room, or wakeup without being nagged. These annoyances become the focus of your relationship because this is what you notice. You take for granted that he helps out without being asked, is loving and plays with his little sister for hours.

To turn the relationship around, just start acknowledging the things that you have been taking for granted. Even small, tiny things. Once you start looking for what he is doing right, it is amazing how the...

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Are you pursuing perfection?

The pursuit of perfection is one of those concepts that can keep us stuck and feeling disheartened in many areas of our life. We aim to be the perfect parent, the perfect spouse and the perfect human being.

The dictionary definition of perfect is: without fault, faultless, flawless.

Since deep down many of us believe that human beings cannot be perfect, we are chasing a goal that is, by definition, impossible. Not very smart, is it?

When we set our goal as being perfect, we are in a sense setting ourselves up for failure. Anything less than the achievement of perfection is by definition not success.

The pursuit of perfection means that our eyes are only on the outcome, on the final result. The steps we take to get there and what we achieve on the way really do not matter until we have achieved perfection.

It is no wonder that so many of us end up feeling disheartened. What is the point? We tell ourselves, why bother to do anything if we cannot be perfect?

How about exploring a...

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What responding looks like in real life

The time it takes to respond rather than react is not long.

Pausing to choose a value based response can be as little as ten seconds. The time and energy it saves you in not having to 'clean up' afterwards is immeasurable.

Let's take a quick example:

What reaction looks like: It is one of those mornings. Your 8-year-old took long to get dressed for school and is now rushing through breakfast. He spills the whole jug of milk on the table as he tries to pour it into the cereal bowl. You get angry, yelling at him, reminding him about how he is NEVER ready on time, how you will ONE DAY leave him at home so he will miss school etc etc. Sound familiar?

So now, you have spilt milk AND an upset child. You are feeling awful about yelling and are wondering on how you will make good on your threat of leaving him at home.

What responding looks like: It is one of those mornings. Your 8-year-old took long to get dressed for school and is now rushing through breakfast. He spills the whole jug of...

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Getting in touch with your values

Did you practice pausing over the weekend? How did it go?

One of the ways that we can make the pause effective is to remind ourselves of our deepest values often.

Recently I have become aware of my temptation to become critical in conversations with certain people. This is not serving me at all. It makes me feel bad about myself as it goes against my values of supporting family and choosing kindness in all circumstances.

So whenever I am in a situation that has a pattern of triggering me, I do two things:

1) Before the interaction, I remind myself of my values related to this person or situation. Values that are much bigger and more important than the petty things that are causing me to be critical.
2) I repeat the words "be kind, be kind, choose kindness" softly to myself throughout the interaction.

I am realizing that it is SO much easier to stop myself rather than deal with the consequences of my inappropriate reactions later!

Here are the steps to doing this process for...

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