Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Seven Steps to Finding True Love

There is probably no topic which has captivated people throughout the centuries and from most every culture than the topic of love. We put a man on the moon, broke the speed of sound, and mapped the human genome, but love remains a complete mystery. Science has not been able to explain it. Mathematics cannot predict it. Poets still wrestle with adequate words to describe it. 

It may have been more than two centuries ago, but Plato’s words have never sounded more true, “Every heart sings a song, incomplete.” We are all looking for love. At any given moment, we may be far from it but we never stop hoping the next opportunity is just over on the horizon. We are all looking for true love.
One of our frustrations with love is our complete inability to keep it. Like sand slipping between our fingers, the harder we grasp the faster it seems to fall through. It would be nice if love was as simple as baking a batch of cookies or building a bird house for the backyard; a simple set of ingredients, a logical list of steps to take. But we all know the truth; love cannot be manufactured. It cannot be bought or traded. It cannot be forced. It cannot be controlled. It cannot be plotted on a map or broken down into a checklist of to do’s.
But, it is possible to find true love; even unconditional love! Here are seven steps to finding true love.

1. Love Requires You to Reveal Your True Self to Another

The famous author, C. S. Lewis, puts it best, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one.” Lewis is right. What makes love so hard, and sometimes painful, is the vulnerability that always seems to accompany it.

To love at all is to be vulnerable.

We use the word love to describe a lot of things. We love food. We love music. We love a good joke and we love having a good time. Using love to describe such simple things makes the word seem a little safer. It is safe because we are not exposed. A great cup of coffee cannot reject us. A song from our favorite band does not leave us feeling useless. But when we choose to share our life with another person, we inevitably make a choice to become vulnerable. Unfortunately, vulnerability leaves our defenses down and often we get hurt.
We all know the feeling: rejection, humiliation, desperation. Opening our heart to another person, only to be rejected, is one of the most painful experiences in life. It hurts the most because in love we are most vulnerable. It’s worse than physical pain because it shakes us at the core of our identity, our hopes, and our dreams. Love rushes us to the mountain-top, and when lost, sends us careening back to the valley below. We cannot help but feel empty. We cannot help but feel worthless. We cannot help but feel hopeless.

2. Finding True Love Can Be Difficult

The Bible has a remarkable story about a woman named Leah who discovered that finding true love was difficult. Leah was the daughter of a wealthy and manipulative man named Laban. Leah also had a sister named Rachel, one of the most beautiful women in the whole region. Leah, was described as, “weak in the eyes.” We do not know exactly what that phrase means, but it is not hard to guess. Even without the side-by-side comparison to her beautiful sister, Leah was not drawing much attention.
One day, Rachel was herding the sheep when a young man named Jacob came to the well. His journey's purpose was to find a wife, so it did not take him long to notice beautiful Rachel approaching. He rolled away the stone over the well, and watered the sheep for her. Learning he was her father's nephew, she ran home to tell Laban the news. Already head-over-heels in love, or call it love-at-first-sight if you wish, Jacob stayed on with Laban. When asked what his wages should be, he immediately asked to marry Rachel. Laban made Jacob an offer. “Work for me, seven years without pay, then I will give you my daughter.”
It is starting to sound like a romantic story for the ages! Jacob was so madly in love that he did not hesitate. Seven years he worked, everyday focused on his prize. One day he would finally be able to marry the woman of his dreams, Rachel. The Bible records the event with all of the poetry we would expect from a great love story. “Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.”
After seven years of labor, the wedding day finally arrived. The party must have been massive. When night came, Jacob and his new bride, probably wearing her wedding veil, went into their tent.
The next morning Jacob awoke, the Bible says, “and behold it was Leah!” Jacob had been tricked. Laban had switched his daughters on the wedding night and tricked Jacob into marrying his oldest, Leah. Why? Laban wanted another seven years of free labor before he would allow Jacob to actually marry Rachel. Still madly in love with Rachel, Jacob agrees and works another seven years to marry this younger daughter.
We like the image of Jacob! He was willing to submit himself to over a decade of manual labor as an act of love for Rachel whom he considered to be his soulmate. Like a great Shakespearian tragedy, we want desperately to find that kind of love, too. We want to know that someone would make such a sacrifice for us. This expression of love is the deepest craving of our heart. But allowing ourselves to be quickly carried off in the ecstasy of the moment misses the real heart of the story for Leah.
Leah had never been able to draw much attention. She had always been the hopeless romantic. But now things were much worse. Leah was married to a man who never for a moment loved her, and manipulated by a father as payment for help around the farm. Leah was not loved by her husband, nor even her father. She was used and discarded. When she was most vulnerable she was rejected.
What happened next is subtle, but important for us to understand our own struggle with love and rejection. In Leah’s first century world, women cared deeply about building a family, especially having sons, to which they could pass on their family name. A father’s proudest moment was the birth of his first son. Soon after being married, Jacob wanted a son. Leah saw an opportunity! If she could be the first to give Jacob a son, surely then he would love and appreciate her. Leah must have been excited to find out she was pregnant, and even more excited when she gave birth to the family’s first son, Reuben.

Now surely her husband would love her.

Leah believed in her heart that God had blessed her with this son so that now her husband would finally love her. But nothing changed. Leah gave birth to a second son, she named him Simeon.
Again she believed God had seen her rejection. Now, surely her husband would love her. But nothing changed. Leah had a third son, who she named Levi. She honestly hoped that now her husband would care for her and love her. But again, nothing changed.
Leah’s story teaches us that finding true love is difficult. True love goes beyond the passion of romance and even finding a partner for the sake of being married. While romance and having our needs met for provision and security are important, there is more that we must discover.

3. Your Need for True Love Reveals Your Need to Be Loved Unconditionally

Leah’s life was controlled by the hope that she could somehow make herself lovable. She was desperate to find a way to earn her husband’s attention. Her broken heart and desperation to be loved teaches us a deeply personal truth about our own search for true love. We inevitably all feel the crushing weight of trying to earn it.
Marketers sell us the idea that if we were just a little bit more attractive, a little thinner, and a little better dressed, then someone would finally take notice and we would feel loved. But we do not. Culture pressures us to set aside our prudish reluctance and instead give-away our bodies; it promises us intimacy leads to love. But it does not.
The harder we try, the more desperate we become to find the magic potion. We believe that with the poison-tipped arrow of Cupid in our hand, we need only hit our target and watch as love and intimacy explodes into a vibrant life of confidence, fulfillment, and passion. But, that is not real life. So, we end up settling for watching it play out in movies and dreaming about it in novels. Our own experience feels more like crawling our way through the dunes of the Sahara Desert, desperate to find an oasis with water. Just when we think we have finally found true love, we are crushed with the reality that it was just a mirage and we have nothing to show for it.
Leah helps us realize that most of what we call love and our search for it, is really a desperate expedition for evidence that we are valuable enough to be loved in the first place. We want to feel like our life is worth something to someone. We are desperate to be known, not just as a body, but as a soul. We want to be vulnerable and in that vulnerability to be accepted. We want to be loved unconditionally.

To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.

This is where we find the great struggle of looking for true love. As one author puts it, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.” Each of us wants to find a way to open up our hearts and lives and know that in that moment of honesty we will be accepted and not rejected.
We all know the risks, so we tend toward pretending. Too nervous to share the truth, we morph into whatever seems most desirable. But that is empty. We know it and we just do not know what else to do. We feel like we have to keep the show going. After all, what is the alternative? If we open up with the whole truth, we face the risk of being ridiculed, rejected and thrown away.
Honestly, true love has never really been about romance or passion at all. It is about truth and value. It is about vulnerability and acceptance. It is about wholeness and finding peace. It is about discovering a foundation on which we can build our lives and on which we can place our hope and confidence. It is about feeling like we are worth something. It is about sharing vulnerability and in the midst of it, feeling loved unconditionally.

4. True Love is Complicated by Our Self-Interest

Let me tell you a secret that you probably know already but are not willing to admit. Unconditional love, the kind that pours meaning and significance into your life, is hard to find in another human being because we are all too self-interested and too self-motivated. Our hearts are bent toward protecting and promoting ourselves. It is not hard to see! We live in a culture that constantly measures every relationship by what we get out of it. We stay married only as long as it is benefiting us. We commit to a relationship only until something better comes along. The success of our relationships is measured by our need for love being met, instead of seeking to meet the need for true love in others.
The Bible speaks clearly to this fact. It calls our bent toward self-interest sin, and it was neither the way humanity, nor the world was created originally. Adam and Eve were the first to experience love and it was much deeper than what we call love today. Adam and Eve’s relationship was perfectly woven together with one another, with God, and with the enjoyment of creation around them. There was no self-interest. Instead, their whole lives were shaped by caring for each other, caring for the world around them, and thanking God for the experience. Neither Adam nor Eve ever felt a moment of fear, rejection, or failure.
If you are familiar with the Bible’s story of the first sin, you will remember it involved a simple proposition. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from one tree in the Garden of Eden. As Eve passed by, a serpent whispered a temptation. “Eve, if you eat of this fruit you will be like God.” It is strange that the serpent did not tempt Eve with how delicious the fruit looked. The real temptation had nothing to do with appearance. Instead, the Serpent did something more subversive. He offered Eve a thought about herself. Eve asked herself a question she had never wondered before, “What’s in it for me?”
This moment of self-discovery came with massive consequences. Eve ate the fruit and passed it on to her husband who ate it as well. This act of disobeying God led Adam and Eve to the startling realization they had been naked this whole time. It is as if they had been so enjoying one another, and the world around them so much, that they never thought to look down at themselves. For the first time they felt vulnerable and ashamed. They made clothes to cover and protect themselves.
God discussed their disobedience with them, because He knew that all of their relationships were falling apart as a result of their self-interest. Eve blamed the serpent for tempting her. Adam blamed Eve for giving him the fruit and then even went so far as to blame God for giving him Eve in the first place! Neither one wanted to take the blame but was concerned only for their self-interest. It is starting to look more like the world with which we are familiar!
The consequences for disobeying God were the loss of relationships. Adam and Eve would never be allowed back into the perfect garden world. They lost everything. We know their new world of self-interest and self-protection, because we carry with us the same sin-bent reality. We long for real love, because we were created to love and be loved unconditionally. This is probably the most important point in this entire article. You will never find or experience the true love you are looking for in this world alone. Each of us and the world around us is too soaked in sin. The great news is that there is One who is the very definition of Love and you can be in relationship with Him!

5. There is Only One Source of True Love

Let us return to Leah’s story for a moment. Leah was caught up in the struggle to earn her husband’s love. Three sons later, she was still clinging to the hope that one day he would wake up and start to appreciate her. She kept waiting and waiting. Eventually, Leah gave birth to another son, her fourth. Leah named him Judah and announced, “Now I will praise God.” Judah’s name means something special. It means to praise, or be thankful to God. But, how could she praise God when her outward circumstances had not changed? Jacob did not rush home with a bouquet of roses and an apology card. Leah was no more loved now than she had ever been. But somehow, she was now worshiping and thanking God.
With the birth of her fourth son, Leah had a life altering realization. She realized that while her husband refused to love her, God was present in her life! God had noticed every pain, every sorrow, every moment of rejection she had ever experienced and he was pouring blessing into her life. God loved her unconditionally!
You need to realize something important, as well. You may feel completely neglected and empty, but God is paying attention to you. You would not be reading this if that was not true. Right now, the God of the whole universe is trying to show you, there is a greater love and acceptance being offered to you, than you ever thought existed. That love is God’s love. He loves you unconditionally.
Leah did not realize it at the time, but Leah, and her son Judah, were ancestors of a man named Jesus. This is the Jesus, whom Christians worship and who the entire Bible anticipated. It is a fitting end to the story, because no one would ever offer greater hope and love than Jesus. He would offer exactly what Leah was trying desperately to find.
The Bible tells that Jesus was not merely a man, but the son of God Himself, who came to earth.
He did so because God was not content to leave us in hopeless despair and rejection, stumbling our way through life trying to manufacture the love that had been lost all the way back in the Garden of Eden. Even though our own selfish hearts had blinded us from God’s love, God was determined to lead us back to it.
Jesus knew all too well this pain of rejection. He was rejected at times by His best friends, His own family, and in the end, by the world around him. Jesus lived a perfect life, never out of self-interest but always doing the will of the God the Father, and offering Himself to serve and help those around Him. But no one recognized what He was doing.
They saw it as weakness and sentenced Jesus to death, and crucified Him. Jesus satisfied God's justice, but was not rejected by God–or there would have been no resurrection!

God is paying attention to you.

Our rebellion and self-preference is disobedience to God, and that keeps us for a relationship with Him. We are not interested in His plan, we want our dreams to come true. So we reject Him and chart our own course. We ignore His instructions and believe whatever feels right to us. We turn down His love and try to replace it with romance and passion because it makes us feel good temporarily. This is the most remarkable part of the Gospel. God did not wait for us to call out to Him for help or love.
He blessed Leah even when she was caught up in trying to earn love for herself. God does not wait for you either. He chose to act on your behalf while you were still lost in your sinful and selfish ambitions. God took all of the punishment, that your disinterest and rebellion deserved, and He poured it out on Jesus, His only son. Jesus stepped into your place and accepted the punishment, because He loves you.
The real struggle for love, is our desire to be fully known, and yet fully accepted. When you hear the phase, “Jesus loves you,” this is not a Christian cliché, but rather the truth of unconditional love. Jesus knows better than anyone who you are; the good and the bad. He knows every secret, every pain, every sin, and every wrong. He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows, because He took your place. He has already paid the price for your sins, and He did it before you ever paid a moment of attention to Him.
Do you realize what that means? In Jesus, you are fully known and still fully accepted. Jesus is under no allusions. He knows exactly who you are. His love is not something you earned or deserved, yet here He is offering it to you. No one knows you better, and no one could possibly love you more. He gave his life for you. And now, He is willing to take the journey with you, from where you are, to where you need to be in Him; so that you can experience true love.

6. Accepting Jesus’ Love Opens the Door to a New Life

The good news of what Jesus has done for you is not just salvation from a coming apocalyptic destruction but accepting Jesus’ love, will begin to transform and fill your life with purpose, strength, and value. Like Leah, you will be amazed at the realization that you have discovered true love! You can thrive in the amazing joy of worshipping Him with a thankful and pure heart regardless of what is going on around you.
Your value and your identity is secured for all eternity with Jesus, who loves you so passionately that He gave His own life. When you understand that truth, it transforms the way you think about love. No longer is love solely a romantic relationship that meets your desperate need to find significance and value. You are able to approach every new relationship, already possessing a full grasp of your significance. Living in God’s love and following Him places you in a position of strength for you know, to whom you belong and who you are. You do not need love to prove your self-worth or value. God is yours and you are His.
Understanding God’s love fills you with the stability and confidence to face any rejection or loss, and to know, no matter how much it hurts, your identity and value can never be shaken. You are secure in God! Without the need to use another’s love, to salvage your self-worth, you can finally start to enjoy and appreciate all of the people and experiences that surround you every day. You can enjoy your life and your relationships the way God that intended.
Learning to live and grow in the love of God can be a process, as you throw off the old nature and ways of thinking, and put on God’s love and right way of living. The world around us is constantly trying to challenge you, and to pull you back. But, every single day, Jesus continues to express His love as an alternative. All that is left is for you to make a choice.
Are you ready to make a life-changing decision to follow true love and to be loved unconditionally? God is the source of our value and our hope. Nothing you face in this life will shake loose the love of God.
With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? . . . Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture. . . . None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Romans 8:31-32, 35, 37-39, The Message)

7. Your Search for True Love Begins with This Simple Prayer

Your journey for true love and to be loved unconditionally begins with a simple prayer. Would you read and believe this prayer with me?
"God, right now I’m experiencing deep hurt and rejection. I realize that I have spent much of my life trying to find love and value in the wrong places. I don’t want to go on living like this. Forgive me for trying to find my own way. Forgive me for neglecting You. I thank you that even before I was aware of it, You were demonstrating Your love for me in Jesus’ death. I thank You that His death offers me a way to know You and to experience Your love. God, fill my heart with a sense of your love. Help me to realize that you are the source of my worth and value. I trust you with my life and my broken heart. Heal it. Help me to turn to you, and worship you. Amen."

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Joseph Montes

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Friday, February 3, 2017

The Power of Love

Love is the best antidepressant—but many of our ideas about it are wrong. The less love you have, the more depressed you are likely to feel.

Love is as critical for your mind and body as oxygen. It's not
negotiable. The more connected you are, the healthier you will be both
physically and emotionally. The less connected you are, the more you are
at risk.
It is also true that the less love you have, the more depression
you are likely to experience in your life. Love is probably the best
antidepressant there is because one of the most common sources of
depression is feeling unloved. Most depressed people don't love
themselves and they do not feel loved by others. They also are very
self-focused, making them less attractive to others and depriving them of
opportunities to learn the skills of love.
There is a mythology in our culture that love just happens. As a
result, the depressed often sit around passively waiting for someone to
love them. But love doesn't work that way. To get love and keep love you
have to go out and be active and learn a variety of specific
Most of us get our ideas of love from popular culture. We come to
believe that love is something that sweeps us off our feet. But the
pop-culture ideal of love consists of unrealistic images created for
entertainment, which is one reason so many of us are set up to be
depressed. It's part of our national vulnerability, like eating junk
food, constantly stimulated by images of instant gratification. We think
it is love when it's simply distraction and infatuation.
One consequence is that when we hit real love we become upset and
disappointed because there are many things that do not fit the cultural
ideal. Some of us get demanding and controlling, wanting someone else to
do what we think our ideal of romance should be, without realizing our
ideal is misplaced.
It is not only possible but necessary to change one's approach to
love to ward off depression. Follow these action strategies to get more
of what you want out of life—to love and be loved.
  • Recognize the difference between limerance and love. Limerance is
    the psychological state of deep infatuation. It feels good but rarely
    lasts. Limerance is that first stage of mad attraction whereby all the
    hormones are flowing and things feel so right. Limerance lasts, on
    average, six months. It can progress to love. Love mostly starts
    out as limerance, but limerance doesn't always evolve into love.
  • Know that love is a learned skill, not something that comes from
    hormones or emotion particularly. Erich Fromm called it "an act of will."
    If you don't learn the skills of love you virtually guarantee that you
    will be depressed, not only because you will not be connected enough but
    because you will have many failure experiences.
  • Learn good communication skills. They are a means by which you
    develop trust and intensify connection. The more you can communicate the
    less depressed you will be because you will feel known and
There are always core differences between two people, no matter how
good or close you are, and if the relationship is going right those
differences surface. The issue then is to identify the differences and
negotiate them so that they don't distance you or kill the
You do that by understanding where the other person is coming from,
who that person is, and by being able to represent yourself. When the
differences are known you must be able to negotiate and compromise on
them until you find a common ground that works for both.
  • Focus on the other person. Rather than focus on what you are
    getting and how you are being treated, read your partner's need. What
    does this person really need for his/her own well-being? This is a very
    tough skill for people to learn in our narcissistic culture. Of course,
    you don't lose yourself in the process; you make sure you're also doing
    enough self-care.
  • Help someone else. Depression keeps people so focused on
    themselves they don't get outside themselves enough to be able to learn
    to love. The more you can focus on others and learn to respond and meet
    their needs, the better you are going to do in love.
  • Develop the ability to accommodate simultaneous reality. The
    loved one's reality is as important as your own, and you need to be as
    aware of it as of your own. What are they really saying, what are they
    really needing? Depressed people think the only reality is their own
    depressed reality.
  • Actively dispute your internal messages of inadequacy.
    Sensitivity to rejection is a cardinal feature of depression. As a
    consequence of low self-esteem, every relationship blip is interpreted
    far too personally as evidence of inadequacy. Quick to feel rejected by a
    partner, you then believe it is the treatment you fundamentally deserve.
    But the rejection really originates in you, and the feelings of
    inadequacy are the depression speaking.
Recognize that the internal voice is strong but it's not real. Talk
back to it. "I'm not really being rejected, this isn't really evidence of
inadequacy. I made a mistake." Or "this isn't about me, this is something
I just didn't know how to do and now I'll learn." When you reframe the
situation to something more adequate, you can act again in an effective
way and you can find and keep the love that you need.

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Joseph Montes

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Reasons Alone Time Is Really Good For You

Spending time alone is not just for introverts!
We’ve all heard a lot lately about how introverts and extroverts differ. One big difference is the greater need for introverts to have alone time to recharge.
That doesn’t mean that extroverts don’t need alone time too. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, work from home or at an office, or have a family or not, we all benefit from having some time to ourselves.
Why is alone time such a big deal?
In our culture, we really value the hyperactive, high energy person, the one who has too much to do and not enough time. We even call people who spend a lot of time alone ‘weird’. It’s somehow not acceptable.
With the constancy of devices that give us all kinds of ways to be distracted from ourselves, silence has even become feared. Some of us really don’t want to be alone. Ever.
The thing is, having some alone time is incredibly valuable. For you, your well-being, and your development as a person. It’s valuable for your work in the world. Your alone time is even valuable to your loved ones.

Here are 13 reasons why alone time is really good for you:

1. You’re more productive.
Let’s start with what might be the most surprising one. We are busy all the time because we think that working a lot means we’re getting a lot done. Nope.
Look at the most productive people on the planet, and you’ll see that they regularly spend time doing everything but working. They take time off. They pause during the day to rejuvenate.
That’s because alone time actually increases your productivity. When you’re surrounded by people, it’s easy to get distracted. When you’re alone, you can focus more effectively and concentrate fully. You actually get more done!
2. You have more clarity.
Filtering out all the things that come your way during the average day can be tiring. It takes energy.
When you’re alone, you can more readily decide what you want to have coming into your awareness. You can hear yourself think and sort through conflicting information.
That level of clarity is hard for most people to get when they’re in the presence of others. Finding some alone time is a quick solution to information overwhelm. You can then notice what’s most important to you.
3. Your memory is better.
According to a Harvard study, people form more enduring and accurate memories if they believe they’re experiencing something alone.
If you’re relying on your memory to do your work, absorbing the needed information alone has its perks.
4. You can do what you want to do.
If you work with people all day, or you have a family (or both!), doing your own thing is not easy. Sometimes, you even lose sight of what it is that you want to do.
Taking some alone time helps you tune in and listen to what is in you, where your wants and desires are leading you. You can even take action on it!
That freedom helps you feel lighter and more balanced. It’s nurturing.
5. You become a better problem-solver.
Albert Einstein once famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
We can get stuck in thinking about a problem in a certain way, and can’t see the way out.
When you step away and spend some time alone, you break your pattern of thinking. Your perception and perspective shift, which often lead you to think about the problem in a new way. A solution may pop up, or you start on a new way of thinking that leads to a solution.
6. You’re more creative.
When it comes to fresh perspectives, alone time is crucial. When we are alone, we can more readily enter into meta-cognition, the process of thinking critically and reflectively about our own thoughts. Stale ideas become new and fresh.
Being alone means you stop absorbing other people’s ideas for a time. We often don’t realize how much other people influence us and our opinions.
As you step away from others, it gives you a chance to recognize how we are each special and unique. It allows you to give your own distinctive ideas more credence and weight.
7. You have more energy.
When you’re alone, you can truly relax and rest. You’re not being pulled in multiple directions by what’s going on around you. That resting time means rejuvenation, recharging your energy.
We often think of rejuvenating time as being big blocks of time like vacation or a night at home alone.
While those are certainly valuable, there’s benefit in mini-breaks throughout the day. If you work or live in a busy environment, even taking 5 or 10 minutes away from the hubbub to be alone is helpful.
8. You get to know yourself better.
When there’s a lot coming in from outside of you, it’s hard to listen to your own inner voice.
To get clear on what really makes you happy in small and big ways, spend some time alone. Then when you’re with people, you can really be you, not some version of you that’s just reacting to others.
One of the ways people can become unhappy is when they lose touch with themselves. Alone time is a great opportunity to really connect with who you are. We want the authentic you!
9. You can skip the need to impress others.
Whew, we can spend a lot of time trying to impress other people!
Wanting to be well thought of can cause us to hide our weaknesses and only share our strengths. That lopsided view of ourselves keeps us from connecting with people with vulnerability and sincerity. Not an easy thing to master.
Being alone gives you a break from trying to impress someone else. After getting in touch with how awesome you are, it’s a little easier go out into the world as the more rounded and real you.
10. You become more self-reliant.
When you spend a lot of time with other people, it’s easy to start acting by consensus. When you know other people’s preferences, it’s hard not to be influenced by them.
For women in particular, this can be challenging. Most of us have been brought up with the community as our focus, and to at least consider other people.
When you spend time alone, you can’t slip into seeking approval. And it keeps you away from the comparison game! You only have yourself to measure your behavior against.
11. You value the people close to you more.
After you take a break from relating, you can often return to relationships refreshed. People get the best social you!
Absence really can make the heart grow fonder, as you miss your loved ones’ company. You enjoy the time together more.
Plus, time spent on your own increases your empathy, studies have shown. You can put that to great use in the relationships that matter to you most.
12. You benefit from self-reflection.
You can choose to spend your time alone reflecting on what you value. What you value influences everything you do, whether you’re conscious about them or not.
If you become conscious about your values, you can then choose to act on them in a positive way, a way that really reflects what’s most important to you.
Self-reflection also lets you make meaning out of your experiences. Meaning making is important to your development and learning as a person.
13. You connect with your own inner wisdom.
I believe that we all have an inner wisdom, a deep knowing about what is best for us.
It is so hard to tap into that when you’re always engaging with others. Instead, taking time alone allows you to really go deep and connect with your intuition, your inner voice. Connecting with that voice is not only grounding. It’s also your best advisor.

Alone time is really valuable. Make time for it. Get up early. Close the door. Disconnect from your devices. Use your lunch time. Whatever it takes.
Many busy people even schedule alone time, because they recognize how important it is.
Now that you know the value of alone time, spend a few minutes and decide how you can build more of it into your life. It’s good for you!

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Joseph Montes

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Getting Over A Breakup

Life is not easy, especially when dealing with relationship problems and situations. It can be downright miserable and heartbreaking.  It seems like everyone gets their heart broken at least once, or at least torn up a few times, when the people you care about the most end up letting you down. Or, maybe for one reason or another, your relationship just didn’t work out.
Suddenly you find yourself in that confusing, cold, dark and lonely place when your relationship ends and you have no clue what to do next.
In the long run, it doesn’t really matter what the reasons are that a relationship ends, as much as what you decide to do next. Unfortunately many relationships tend to break apart during the winter months, which can be depressing anyway- because of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), so it’s like a double dose of sadness when that happens. 
We have all been there and suffered from the horrible disappointment and pain that hits us when a relationship is over. The hardship and pain that follows can vary quite a bit from one person to the next, but the recovery process afterward can be much easier if you do a few simple things.

Here are 8 Ways to overcome emotional heartache and move on:

Take good care of yourself
This may sound too easy, but most people who have a broken heart just suffer for awhile and don’t take care of themselves.  Staying up late, drinking too much, not getting out, or eating too much fast food and too many sweets can make you feel even worse. Even if you feel like a complete failure when a relationship breaks up, you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. Try being your own best friend instead. Go in the opposite direction. Start exercising more and eating healthier and you will quickly feel better.
Journal about it
One of the most effective ways of analyzing a problem is to write everything down. Many psychologists recommend doing that, especially if your situation involved trauma or abuse.  Keep a journal about everything that happened and how you felt about it. When you read it at a later date, you will have a better understanding of why things happened and what they mean to you. This is part of a healthy recovery from anything. You are the only one who really knows what you have been through. If the relationship was torn apart by alcohol or drug addiction, journaling will help you see it more clearly as something that has happened in the past. It is also a good way of making the choice to close the book and move on.
Reach out for help
This can be hard, but you need to reach out for help if you are suffering. There are people close to you who can help you see the whole situation from another perspective. When you talk about what happened with your close friends, or family, or even a professional counselor, you will gain a deeper understanding and be able to see the whole picture, not just your ideas about it. Other people can help you in ways that you don’t expect, so try to be open to what they have to say. Think of all the times you have helped someone else and reach out for those people that you can count on for advice or even just someone to listen. This is a step in the right direction and is never a mistake.
Change your space
One thing that definitely helps a broken heart is change. If you live somewhere that you shared with the other person, move out. If you can’t move out of your apartment or house, change it.  Rearrange the furniture, take down the decor. Do what you need to do to make it different. It is very healthy to change the space you live in following an emotional breakup. This is one way of feeling better fast. Embrace change as a good thing, and there is no use crying over something you can’t change.
Remember what you have gained
Looking back at where you have been with the other person is not an easy thing to do. Maybe you spent years together and so it is hard to imagine your life without them. If your partner has died, it can even be harder to deal with your grief afterward. A broken relationship is a situation very much like losing someone you love who dies.  It will take time for you to process your grief and look back at how far you came together. As time goes by, and only when you are ready, you should look at all the photos you took together, and make them into something you can keep, such as a print for your wall, or a photo book. This will help you find a healthy way to treasure the time you had with the other person.
Reward yourself
I know that rewarding yourself sounds like a ridiculous thing to do, when your heart aches, but believe me, it helps. If you have been wanting to take a trip somewhere for a long time, this might be a good time to travel. Remember, it’s common sense advice to avoid traveling alone. Find other ways to be good to yourself because that is the key. Go shopping and buy yourself something that makes you happy. This is not frivolous or crazy. Rewarding yourself actually works because anything you surround yourself with or place you go that makes you feel better is a good thing.
Do what you enjoy
We all have things that we are good at.  Think of them as your gifts. It is something you like to do and are naturally good at. This can be anything at all, from the simple to the serious.  Maybe you have a favorite hobby that you like to work at. If you like to play the piano, or violin, ride horses, run, go hiking, swimming, or canoeing, you should go.  Do what makes your heart sing. Do the kind of things that made you happy before all the heartache set in, and you will be surprised at the effect it has on your everyday life.
Focus on the positive
More than anything else, you should surround yourself with positive thoughts and people you feel good around. Collect a bunch of affirmations you like and pin them all over your walls. Find quotes that inspire you about your life.  Change your outlook. Change your thoughts. Change as much as you can from the way it was in your relationship. Be adventurous. Try something new that you have never done before.  If you want to do something extreme like bungee jump or hang glide or snowboard down a mountain, just do it. Whatever you do, just try to have fun and you will be amazed at how quickly your sadness fades away.

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See You At The Top,
Joseph Montes

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