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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How to Fill Your Home with Happiness

Happiness at home doesn’t come from pretty pictures, a comfortable recliner, and a big screen TV, but happiness comes from within the mind, body, and spirit. How does one find joy in a home filled with challenges, anger, and resentment? If you have asked this question, then it is you that will be responsible for starting the process of creating contentment in your own home, here’s how.

Encourage and inspire those in your home starting with the person who is the most challenging. Some ways to do this include: unexpectedly bringing food from a favorite restaurant home while letting everyone know you were thinking of them, leaving a Thinking of You card in the bathroom for a partner, arranging some separate time for each of your children, or rewarding the family when they help with chores.

Whether you are spiritual, religious or otherwise, take some quiet time for yourself either when you first wake up or just before you go to bed to talk about the things that ail you about the most challenging person in your family. Sincerely ask God for guidance then be still for awhile until some thoughts come to mind on how to deal with him or her. You may not have any idea at that moment, but later something may come to mind.

Be prepared for negativity when it comes. The human spirit is powerful and it will seem as if this person or the people you are praying for will know you are doing something behind the scenes to promote change. They may act worse, but hold on because this is your sign that change is not that far away, so keep on praying.

Watch how you talk to the people in your family, life is too short! Ask rather than command. Speak softly more than raising your voice. Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Be slow to place blame or find fault.

If money won’t allow for you to keep up with the others, then stop trying. You won’t be able to get everything for everyone so eliminate some of your worries and stick to the priorities. List all your family's wants on a bulletin board. You may include photos or newspaper and magazine clippings. If the family really wants them, then they will make the effort to make them happen from selling or giving some things away to recycling plastic to save money.

Stop thinking about what could have been. The past is the past. Be in the present and take control over the things you can control like your own happiness. The only way you can do that is if you start by looking outside yourself and appreciating those around you.

Don’t try to be something you’re not. Hypocrites are unhappy people. They are too busy rushing to become something that they are not equipped to be. Start every project, every to do list, every self-help task, and every opportunity to forgive one step at a time. People don’t suddenly have a close relationship with God, lose weight, become a great mom, get a job, win a sweepstakes, or do anything and receive the fame and fortune. It all takes a lot of time and dedication! So ignore the critics and do what you can today!

Monday, May 30, 2011

10 Ways to Show Your Family & Friends More Love

1. Listen to them when they come to you with their problems.

2. Advice them, without being critical or judgmental, when they ask you for your opinion.

3. Keep their conversation private.

4. Surprise them once in awhile with an unexpected gift, offer to take them out, or babysit their children.

5. Send “Thinking of You” or “Just Because” notes and cards sometimes when it isn’t their birthday or some other holiday.

6. Offer to help them out with a task or problem without waiting for them to ask you.

7. Forgive them when they have wronged you.

8. Avoid talking about past issues that you know will make them feel bad.

9. Fight the temptation to be jealous when something good happens to them; instead, be happy for them.

10. Show respectful affection.

How to Get Rid of a House Guest: Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Relatives & Friends

Whether it is your new boyfriend who doesn’t know when to go home or your friend with roommate problems, this person is invading your space! What can you do to rid yourself of a house guest you no longer want?

First, if you haven’t already gave them some warning signs that they either haven’t picked up on or simply ignored now would be a good time to give them an advance notice that they have overstayed their welcome. Depending on your relationship with this person, you will have to make a decision on how forward you want to be. If it is a boyfriend that you are really in love with, you will want to say something like, “I love your company, but I’m not ready for you to move in yet.” He or she may be offended but remind them that at no point did you both discuss that you would start living together. Then again, they may not be upset ad will say that they aren’t interested in moving together either. This will be a good way of telling them about how you have been feeling lately about their staying over your home so much. Expect them to read more into what you are saying such as “Oh this means we are breaking up or he is seeing someone else.” Although you aren’t doing any of these things he or she will think what they want, so be sure to prepare a rebuttal that will put them at ease such as “In no way am I breaking up with you, I love you. I just want you to know that I have worked very hard to live alone at this time in my life and it’s just my preference.” You don’t have to give them any more information about your reason if they care about your needs they will accept it. However, if you don’t make them feel secure in the relationship then they will blow everything out of proportion.

Next, for other houseguests like relatives and friends, you will need to talk about the expenses you are paying by yourself. No one likes to talk about money, and it turns people off. This is what you want to do, so that they understand that you are expecting a contribution at least until they find a job or their own place. Even if they can’t afford money to help, you will still have to make it clear to them that they will have to go somewhere else and you do accept I.O.U.S. Don’t worry about their argument of “where do I go?” Someone will take them in even though they will tell you they have nowhere else to go, depending on how long they have been living with you they most likely have been in contact with someone who would pity them enough to let him or her stay with them.

Another way to drive your point home is to pack their stuff in a nice luggage bag, box or something else. You will let them know in advance that is what you will be doing within a certain timeframe if they haven’t made an attempt to move out. When you do this, always remember to change the locks and let those who know that he or she was living with you that you have put them out, so that they will not share a key or be let in by the doorman, etc.

You will also want to try and reason with them such as offering to help them find a place if they do something for you. Let’s say he or she is able to help with your apartment decorating, babysit your children, or do some other favor for you, you can utilize their help while researching for a job or place for them to stay. Be sure that you both have agreed on a set date when they are to move out.

Houseguests are staying in your home because you have made it comfortable for them to stay. You may buy things like groceries, cigarettes for them, beer, favorite snacks, etc. You may also have cable television, a gaming system, a comfy bed, or some other amenities that they enjoy. You will need to start cutting things off for awhile until they are gone. Even if it means that you have to take the television and store it somewhere out of the home. Whatever it takes to make their stay uncomfortable do it!

Consider having someone to help you move them out. Sometimes houseguests don’t move because the host isn’t forceful enough. This would be a good time to call on that family member or friend who doesn’t care about his or her feelings to intercede on your behalf. He or she will be more than happy to assist and you can always put some of the blame on them if you want to take some of the heat off of you. “Well you know how my sister can be about me…my brother always looks out for me so to him he felt you were taking advantage of me.”

Now some houseguests may not respond to hints, direct statements, or threats, when they continue to come over unannounced, you can change your schedule so that you aren’t there to let them in your home. You can suddenly create a social life that keeps you busy. The local coffee shop can be a new hang out for you, library, walk the stores before you come home, work late, etc. When you are out more, they may take the hint that you are busier these days. When you aren’t around to keep them company they may decide to stop coming around. If you want your boyfriend or girlfriend to get the message you still love them you just don’t want them living with you then, make an effort to go out of your way to see them at their home or call them when you are free and arrange your dates away from your home. This way you are sending a message that moving in together is not what you want at this time. You can also put your clothes on after lovemaking and escort them to the door with a kiss or pick them up, bring them to your home, and then after the date drive them home. This way you are in full control.

Lastly, so that you don’t run into this problem again in the future, you will definitely have to remember not to make a habit of bringing your guests home. Your houseguest became well acquainted with your place because you allowed them “to make themselves at home” and that’s just what they did. Instead of having your intimate moments with them at your place, go to theirs as mentioned before or go to a hotel once or twice a month. Rather than watching movies at home, go to the movies or watch them together with friends at someone else’s home. The reason why many relationships grow stale quickly is because couples don’t know how to balance their time. They spend so much of it at one another’s homes that they never consider at some point they will want to have some time at home by themselves. The reason why relatives and friends overstay their welcome is because you didn’t know how to turn off your hospitality. There’s nothing wrong with telling someone, “I am ready to go to bed, thanks for stopping by” and then show them to the door.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why the Advisers You Choose Can Hinder Your Relationship Success

We have forgotten why we ask people to be witnesses to our marriages. Their role is so much more important than watching us repeat vows, kiss our mates, buy us gifts, and help us clean up after the wedding. They are also responsible for being the voices of wisdom for us during those times when we want to act like fools during our marriages. Without selecting the right type of witnesses, we are making a terrible error. Witnesses are suppose to help us maintain a solid foundation in our marriage, not help us tear it down.

Everyone has their own set of advisers whether it is the manager who confides in certain supervisors and employees to make tough decisions, the bishop who consults with his or her board members, or you asking for advice from your closest relatives. Someone is influencing you when you are attempting to solve problems in your personal or professional life. So why aren’t people more careful when choosing who they will go to when trying to rectify a broken relationship?

We could reason that some people feel obligated to befriend those who may have financially helped them and don’t want to appear as if they are only having a relationship solely for personal gain. Others may just call anyone who will listen without giving it a second thought, their friends’ relationships maybe just as bad if not worse. Then there are those people who just have too few wise people in their lives or just don’t care who they talk to about their problems. Therefore, they go to these poor advisers hoping they will provide them with a tidbit of wisdom that they may have been better off getting if they only took the time to meditate (those who are spiritual find some time to be alone, and look to God’s word for an answer while praying about their issues. Philippians 4:6-7)

Once the person who seeks counsel realizes the advice they received from their trusted friend doesn’t help matters, they become angry with self and then place blame on his or her counsel. “Why did I ask her what she thought? She can’t keep a man anyway, I would have never got into an argument with him had I not done what she said.”

Meanwhile, their mate is wondering where the questions, accusations, concerns, and ideas came from since his or her mood has now changed 180 degrees in less than five minutes. If he or she had kept their big mouth closed, they may have been able to solve their own problem. He or she could have given his or herself more time to think about why they feel the way they do about the relationship BEFORE they had placed the call or met with his or her adviser. One could have put his or herself in their mate’s shoes, and then found the time to discuss what was on his or her mind FIRST.

It makes you wonder how many divorces could have been prevented if couples had supportive family and friends around them that encouraged them to stay together rather than break up. When one decides to break off his or her relationship with their mate, it may not really be their decision to do it after all. Rather, it could have been the influence of a jealous family member who found fault with the mate because he or she was taking up too much time with them. As much as we love our family and friends, when you first told them about your new love, if you didn’t bother to pay close attention to those who were sincerely happy for you, from those who weren’t, then you may have missed the snake amongst your circle that you didn’t know you had and unfortunately you could be consulting with him or her and not even know it! If you have ever read the Bible, then you know of the story of Jesus who had his own circle of disciples and one was a traitor. Now if that could happen to a prophet, what do you think could be happening to you right now except you aren’t aware of it or maybe never bothered to think about it?

I personally saw my own relationships in the past decline not only because we may not have got along, but also because I allowed what people told me about my friends to influence the way I behaved toward them. If someone in the family didn’t like them, my happy spirit would diminish concerning my friend. I just wasn’t excited about them as much as I had been. Of course, the newness of all relationships begins to fade in time, but when seeking counsel from the wrong people, it fades much faster! You will find yourself second-guessing the relationship, finding fault with your new friend, making unnecessary accusations and assumptions, comparing them to the last person you were with because one of your advisers said, “He reminds me of…or remember your last girlfriend…”

Some advisers may be wise, but are controlling or lack self control. They may be so use to telling you what to do and you confiding in them that they put themselves in the driver seat of your relationship, because you allowed it. Other advisers feel so comfortable with your relationship with them that they feel like they can say anything, never giving a single thought of how it may make you feel. There is just too much analyzing what they say and exercising caution what you say to the point of exhaustion when speaking with these types. I put mothers and grandmothers in this category since they tend to be the most influential advisers of all. When you feel like your energy is being drained when talking to them, this should be a sign not to talk so much to them about your personal feelings about your relationship. Instead, you should be talking to your mate about what ails you. Yes, you will make mistakes when trying to communicate to your mate about your problems, but if you can’t make a mistake with them, then your relationship will never grow. The best, most successful relationships in life became that way because the couple allowed one another to fall, dust themselves off, and try again. With each attempt at addressing a concern or problem, they got better.

The most important lesson to be learned when choosing advisers and communicating with them is to remember to have your own set of boundaries of what you will or will not discuss. They are human just like you and they have made their share of mistakes, but if you allow them to put you on the judgment seat, you are giving them power that they should never have. A great adviser is one who will listen and challenge you to come up with your own solution to a problem. Like the game of basketball, they will put the ball back in your court and make you take it to the hoop. A bad adviser is a ball hog. They don’t pass the ball, they dribble it all over the place and drive it straight to the hoop even when they don’t and can’t make a good shot. This is a player you don’t need on your team.

Problems will occur in anyone’s relationship, but thanks to the Internet you can seek advice by reading and writing about your concern without anyone ever having to know it is you!

By Nicholl McGuire

When Your Family Doesn't Like You

They may love us, but they don’t like us. They have proven that by the way they react to us during times when they should be supportive; instead, they are distant. They roll their eyes when we speak. They quickly get off the phone with us when we tell a story. They talk about us behind our backs. They don’t bother to give us any words of encouragement when we are down, they withhold affection and praise. They spread gossip about us and then lie about saying anything to our faces. They find excuses not to buy things for us or our families. They will not go out of their way to do anything for us.

My story isn’t one I am proud of but I think for purposes of this article, it is one that may help someone who feels like they are the black sheep in their family and no one seems to care about them. Years ago I hadn’t noticed any signs that certain family members just didn’t like me, until I talked to other family who told me so. I asked these family members, who brought me a bone and most likely would carry one back, why? Why wouldn’t they like me? A few attributed it to jealousy and others said that they just didn’t like the choices I made in life. It wasn’t that I had done anything that would cause them to resent or even hate me, I guess I was one of those family members who got along with everyone regardless and some didn’t feel that I should.

When I began to look closer at the way they treated me, it became obvious, they didn’t like me. I reasoned that it was because I didn’t always take their advice, that I didn’t consistently acknowledge birthdays and other holidays, because at times I chose boyfriends and jobs over spending time with them. At first I was hurt by the reality that my family was treating me like a black sheep, why? How could they use the excuse of having no money not to visit me when I needed them most? ( I live 3000 miles away and have been back to see my family several times since my move and no one bothers to come out and see me.) I have made up so many excuses these past four years for them when people asked me about their coming out to see me to the point that I can’t keep track of all of them. How could they acknowledge other relatives with children by giving them their money and time and overlook my children more often than remember them? How could they be judgmental of my lifestyle when they were no angels? It wasn’t like I was a drinker, smoker, or gambler. It wasn’t like I chose someone of the opposite race or the same gender. Maybe if I had done these things, it would be easier to understand why they didn’t act like they liked me very much since those choices went against their views. I thought maybe I gave them too much ammunition to use against me by sharing too many details about my personal life for them to judge me; therefore they wouldn’t want to see me. I became increasingly angry trying to reason why some family members just didn’t seem to want me around. They smiled in my face and talked behind my back. They told one another not to tell me what gifts they bought for other relatives, because they didn’t have enough money to buy my children and me gifts. They created fantastic lies when I approached them about the “he say she say” stories that were retold by other family members. They claimed they didn’t know what I was talking about, they denied ever saying anything, and they acted as if I was the one at fault. I tried different things to make me feel comfortable with the truth. I chose not to talk to them as much if I could help it. I tried to distance myself and contact them only if absolutely necessary, but somehow I would get drawn into a conversation with a family member(s) who I know didn’t like me. I wanted so bad to believe that what I told them would be appreciated, not repeated to others, or used against me. But if I didn’t find out within days, I found out within months that the family member whom I confided in just couldn’t keep anything to themselves and not only repeated what I said but rearranged it so that I looked bad. So I tell my story, so that you will find some relief in knowing that there are other black sheep out there just like you. Why do we bother with them? If we had a friend that didn’t like us, would we continue to befriend them? Most of us wouldn’t. But family they carry strong titles. We grew up with them and they were there at times in life when no one else would bother with us.

Don’t get me wrong when I tell my story, I don’t hate those who don’t like me. Instead, I pray for them and wish them the best. I also pray that any plans that they intend to use against me be stopped before they reach me and I also limit my time conversing and socializing with them. I don’t accept every invitation that they throw my way either. I noticed that when I interact with them one-on-one rather than in groups, they are all smiles and willing to talk to me about anything. But when they are with other family members, they act as if they are all-powerful and will say things to me that they have no business saying. I am not the kind of personality that takes what people say lightly and will state how I feel. So I don’t mind a confrontation, a debate, an argument or if it comes down to it a physical fight, I’m not anyone’s punching bag. But I am aware that the best solution to all matters is to exercise self-control and remain peaceful within despite how much you may be getting on another’s nerves just by your mere presence.

I know my situation looks sad, but I also know that I’m not the only black sheep in cyberspace. I think that the worst family situations are for those black sheep who wear rose-colored glasses. The disliked family member is used and misused for years and doesn’t even know it until one day someone in the family tells them, “Well you know your brother never did like you. Your mother didn’t like you either, but they just dealt with you because you were family.” What a devastating blow to someone who really did go all out for family and demonstrated nothing but love to all? How does one overcome that bitter truth? I remember a boyfriend told me that he noticed how some of my family members behaved toward me and immediately recognized who they favored; I didn’t want to admit he was right, so I argued with him. Who wants to face the reality that family is acting different towards you to an outsider? For years, I thought that if I bought gifts for them, performed well in school, college and the workplace, that I could earn their respect and that they would look at me with favor. But as the years went by and I got knocked down by various life circumstances, I had to face the hard truth that no matter what I did I would always be that person that some family members would not like.

So you may be like me, the black sheep of the family, the one that some will never like. If so, feel free to comment. I learned ever so slowly to move on, to be more concerned with the life that surrounds me now and less concerned with the life I lived as a child. I evolved in my life and am no longer the bratty toddler, rebellious teen, or irresponsible twenty-something young person that they knew when, but some family just can’t or will not accept change. They want to keep reminding you of your past. I also don’t feel that I have to prove that I have changed to anyone, they will either accept the new me or continue to see the old me, that’s their issue not mine. The following are seven other things I do when family say or do things that are meant to belittle me, and make them look all-powerful. They may help you too:

I choose my battles carefully. When I feel the need to talk to someone in the family about something that was untrue or meant to damage my reputation or someone else’s, I confront them about it. But I don’t pick battles that are meant to make me react uncontrollably so that the family member who doesn’t like me has some gossip to spread.

I don’t accept every piece of advice they want to give me. Controlling individuals will use every opportunity they can to tell you what you need to do with your life even when you haven’t asked for their 2 cents worth! You had an illness; they will share with you how they overcame it. You had an issue at work; they will tell you how to best solve it. You have a problem with your children; they will boldly tell you what you are doing wrong and what they did to parent their children. On the surface it looks good and their counsel seems innocent enough, until you hear how critical they were about your actions behind your back. “I couldn’t believe she would give her child that medicine. I knew she wouldn’t last on her job. He was never any good with communicating with people.” Meanwhile, they act as if they have never said anything about you to anyone and encourage you to confide in them.

I don’t bother to call them when they have insulted me. There is a way to let someone know that what they said was rude or inappropriate, just don’t call them. Some will get the message, while others may not, but you act in such a way that lets them know that they are not welcome to say certain things to you anymore. Silence is the best weapon you got!

I don’t bother with family members who negatively impact my life. (Life is simply too short to deal with emotionally draining individuals.) These family members who don’t like you may have been the ones who were the bad influence on you in the past. But as you grew older, you changed! When they see that you are doing well in life, while they are doing bad they will grow jealous and find fault with you.

I avoid staying on the phone or socializing with in-laws who have boldly acted in ways that say, “They don’t approve of me.” I don’t take on the responsibility of winning their support, but I don’t act in ways that would make them say I was disrespectful, impolite or childish either. My relationship with them is similar to a boss and employee work relationship.

I don’t share any information about myself or other family members that I am not comfortable with sharing. Some will want to win your trust by sharing parts of their life, hoping that you will do the same. Since you know they don’t like you, why would you? A personal exchange of information rarely makes someone who doesn’t like you suddenly like you. It takes a whole lot more to build trust such as tragedies, common interests, a heartfelt discussion, resolving past issues, and attending counseling together.

I avoid the temptation to buy or do things to try to win their favor. If I am not being sincere, I just don’t bother doing it. I think too many people associate buying gifts with buying love, I unfortunately learned from these same people. I thought that if I could do something nice for someone that would win them over, but I learned all too often that my efforts only put me in the position to serve them.

Although these points are how I deal with my own family issues, I encourage you to set up your own boundaries as well. When you do, you are protecting your heart and your family. You don’t ever want to put yourself in a position that you are being misused, abused, manipulated, or controlled by a family member, or anyone for that matter, who doesn’t like you!

By Nicholl McGuire


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