Anger

How to Fight Like an Adult

I just got back to NYC after an amazing 2 week vacation with my boyfriend and the best part of our trip wasn’t swimming with sea turtles, sunsets, or sex. It was fighting with him. Nothing tells me more about a relationship than how we handle conflict. And you can be sure that 2 weeks with me is bound to create conflict, whether it be my incessant need to both drive and navigate or my hanger when I’m not promptly fed. In the past, I wavered between needing to be right about everything or shoving my feelings down and agreeing with people like a passive-aggressive martyr. It was enough to give you whiplash. But after enough failed attempts, I’ve finally learned how to respect my boundaries and handle conflict in a loving way. So how did we use conflict to bring us closer and not break us? 

We followed these 5 simple rules:

1. Keep the goal in mind. I often ask myself, “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?” This isn’t to quell my insatiable thirst to win, it simply reminds me that the goal of conflict is not to win, it’s to find a resolution. 

2. Avoid grandiose statements.  I’ve been known to lack an edit function when I speak. And on most occasions, that’s still true. Except when there’s a conflict. If I’m consciously using Tip #1, I have the ability to reflect on how I’d feel if I heard the crap coming out of my mouth. Statements like “You always...” or “You never...” immediately tell the person that shit is about to hit the fan. One instance of doing something that you don’t like doesn’t define your partner or his behavior throughout the relationship. Sure, it’s easy to lump things into patterns. And in an effort to keep ourselves safe, it’s our immediate instinct. But, you’re more likely to find a resolution if you treat the event as an isolated incident.

3. Replace your conjunctions. Similar to #2, sometimes the little words make all the difference. Replacing “but” with “and” shifts the conflict from a struggle to a solution, “I know you think we should go on a hike, and I’m hungry, so what can we do about that?” That’s very different than “I know you want to go on a hike, but I’m hungry. Feed me now!!!”

4. Confirm your understanding. Most conflicts are heightened because we don’t hear what the other person is saying. Left to my own devices, I am either planning my retort or unconsciously assigning meaning to things. A simple, “Can you help me to understand why you feel that way?” or “what I’m hearing you say is that…” not only brings me to the present situation, but gives the other person an opportunity to clarify his meaning. 

5. Say what you want instead of what you don’t want. There’s a difference between a complaint and a constructive comment. Instead of “I can’t stand when you leave the toilet seat up,” it’s more effective to say “I’d really like it if you’d put the toilet seat down after you use it.” A positive approach puts people at ease rather than signaling them to prepare for battle. 

And there you have it. 15 years of unnecessary conflict consolidated into 5 tips. Use them and watch your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers transform!

How To Stay Hopeful About the Future (even when you're convinced it will suck)

We all go through times where we’re hyper-focused on the negative rather than the positive. I was chatting with a friend recently who said that as soon as he doesn’t hear back from a potential client, his mind begins to cycle to all the possible outcomes. Needless to say, all these hypotheticals result in him going bankrupt, staying single, and sharing canned beans with his dog as he lives under a bridge. Of course, 24 hours pass, he hears back, and bridge crossers need not fear the toll-demanding troll.

But all this got me thinking about optimism and faith. How do we stay hopeful about the future when our minds spin faster than a hamster on a wheel? Here’s how to remain optimistic (even when you’re convinced everything sucks):

1. Imagine how you’d like your future to look.

Most of us have no idea what we want, but we have a nagging feeling that we don’t have it. But since it’s “too hard” to figure out what we actually want, we keep spinning our wheels. Does that make any sense at all? Not really, but we keep doing it anyway. Having a clear sense of what you want evokes excitement and motivates you to get shit done. Vision gives you a reason to push through discomfort and energize you with positive thoughts for tomorrow, regardless of what today looks like.

2. Move through fear.

The unknown is a lot like my parents’ basement. It’s dark, has a lot of crap, and has a faint smell of mold (I think we need to look into that!) I avoid their basement because I think something’s lurking down there. Is that rational? Not really. Do I bring my 10 lb dog with me to protect me anyway? Hell yeah! The point is that when we approach the unknown or future with our natural desire to feel safe and in control, we hold ourselves back. We can’t control the future, but we can control our mind-set. Letting go of past experiences is like a spiritual reset button. It might not change what happened, but it removes the event’s power from hurting you in the future. Until you make peace with your past, it will continue to shape your future.

3. Stop brainwashing yourself.

Our thoughts are powerful incantations that direct our worldview. Talking to yourself and others about what you can’t do becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you’re hyper-focused on fails, it’s virtually impossible to create a win, let alone be hopeful. So the next time you want to complain about how you’ll never get a raise, remember that you’re the one casting the spell.

4. Stay Present.

Quit future-tripping. When we feel overwhelmed, we assume that tomorrow will be more of today. We tend to live in the future when there’s something we’re avoiding in the moment. Stay present! Is there an action you can be taking to create your happy ending? (No, not that kind!)

5. Reach out.

When I see myself speeding into crazy town, I engage in some sort of pattern interrupt. That refers to anything that gets me out of my own head. For some it’s exercise, for others it’s simply calling a friend. My personal favorite way to remain hopeful is to be of service. It can be anything from helping a friend to volunteering to writing a thank you note. Helping others empowers you to focus on the good, engage with others in a positive way, and be an all-around awesome person.

 

Like Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” And since I take all my life advice from fictitious characters, I’m confident that everything will work out better than planned.

How do you remain hopeful? Share your tips in the Comments section below!

Why Toxic People Are a Blessing

We all have people in our life that have no business being there. It’s a sad fact that we put up with shit that doesn’t make us happy. Whether that be bitchy friends, jealous coworkers, or lovers with erectile dysfunction, we accept people and then scratch our heads when they act exactly as they have been all along. And while we may have put up with something for days, months, or even years, there comes a point when we hit a limit. And suddenly, something we once tolerated feels like nails on a chalkboard.

If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering “what changed?”  You did! You got healthier and happier. And just like alcohol, sobering up from toxic people leaves you with more energy, better skin, and a low tolerance for bullshit. But before you cut people out of your life and switch to Shirley Temples, let’s explore why you should be thankful these people showed up in your life.

Normally, I can’t stand cliché “spiritual” sayings like “everything happens for a reason” or “every cloud has a silver lining,” but there is one I’m particularly fond of:

“Relationships are our greatest spiritual assignments.”

So, WTF does that mean?

Let’s look at an example:

When I was younger, I attracted men who triggered (and confirmed) the area where I needed to grow the most. I was a codependent, constantly searching for external validation that I was lovable, valuable, and worthy. More often than not, it meant that I chose men who reflected my reality back to me. They treated me how I treated myself. And to be honest, it was pretty shitty.

What I didn’t realize is that we accept the love we think we deserve. And I thought I deserved crap. While I loved blaming them (who doesn’t), there came a time when I had to look at the common denominator: me. I had beliefs about who I was that weren’t serving me, enabling me to tolerate less than I deserved. Here’s where the whole “spiritual assignment” comes in:

We bring in people who mirror exactly where we are in our journey. They trigger the exact lessons we need to learn in order to grow. The lesson I was stuck on was learning to love from the inside-out rather than the outside-in.

When it comes to these spiritual assignments, what if we addressed our shit before involving others?

What if we looked at the lessons we need to learn in order to evolve?

Sure, letting go of toxic people can be hard. It can be challenging to renegotiate boundaries that have existed for so long. But we aren’t selfish for wanting to feel free. We don’t owe it to others to remain unhappy. We weren’t meant to live as victims, martyrs, or punching bags.

We are meant to look at the situations we align with and release self-judgment and limiting beliefs. It’s our job to give up what we were in order to align with our higher self, the person we are meant to be.

So what’s the ultimate spiritual assignment? To be the one you’ve been waiting for. To fill yourself with self-love and have that mirrored back to you, releasing all that doesn’t serve you along the way.

What's one lesson you've learned about yourself from maintaining a toxic relationship? Share your story below!