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!

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!

How to Get Someone Out of Your Head

Left to my own devices, I’m an obsessor. A chronic over-thinker. The type of person who plays out a scenario over and over again as though that would somehow give me clarity or insight into someone else’s behavior. But, as you may have guessed, all it does is piss me off even more.

Aside from abuse or situations that need professional help, many of us struggle with a day-to-day obsession with other people’s craziness. We play out what happened, what we should have said, what their reaction might have been and other thoughts that get us nowhere. These thoughts keep us in a victim mentality. And much like a cheap carnival ride, as much as you want to get off, it never seems to end. This is called cyclical thinking and it straight-up sucks.

Here’s how to stop letting it ruin your life:

  1. Tolerate the discomfort of not having a next move. I started with the hardest tip first. You don’t need to know what your move is or what the other person’s is. Give yourself permission to wait and see without needing an answer. This is a key trait of emotional resilience.
  2. Quit the blame game. Whether you’re blaming yourself or someone else, it isn’t making you feel any better and it certainly isn’t productive. Besides, chances are, it’s both of your faults. Blame stagnates growth. It’s that simple.

  3. Deal with yourself first. The issue isn’t what that person did, it’s how it makes you feel. For example, if someone breaks up with you via text message (true story!), the issue isn’t how things should have played out, it’s the anger you feel. Focus on the feeling before the issue itself. How? Attack the emotion with self-care (exercise, meditation, journaling.) From that evolved space, you’re more likely to deal with the situation or person in a healthy and productive way.

  4. Don’t believe everything you think. Your feelings are not facts. They are real, but they are not always true. Anger, sadness, and anxiety are the ego’s way of creating false beliefs. For example, if you are upset, you may internalize it, believing that you are not good enough. So while you should honor and process your feelings, know that the assumptions you make based on those feelings, are not true.

  5. Choose to grow. We often believe that a painful event leads to suffering. However, the truth is that the equation looks more like event + reaction = suffering. If you focus on your reaction, you’re more likely to gain insight, and, as a result, grow from the experience.

  6. Take a time out. It takes 90 seconds to move out of an emotion. Use that time to create a pattern interrupt that will get you out of your headspace. Try meditation, a walk, or mindful breathing.

  7. Send love and forgive. When I ended a 9 year relationship, I was pissy and in pain. I focused on how things should have been different. I soon realized that forgiveness was the only way I’d ever feel better. But how could I forgive the f*cker? I concentrated on sending him love, bridging the energetic gap between us. And when I focused on the love instead of the anger, it began to melt away. It sounds hokey, but lovingkindness meditations actually work as evidenced by the fact that he’s still alive (and one of my closest friends!)

Cyclical thoughts aren’t about the situation or what happened, it’s about us, our reaction, and our ability to choose a different state. Try these 7 tips and reclaim your thoughts, energy, and time. What do you have to lose?

Need to reclaim your headspace? Share your story in the Comments Section below!