Archive | August 2012

How to take responsibility for your life

Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility. Albert Einstein

One thing that really upsets me is when someone lashes out or acts up and then says “I’m sorry … I’ve been really depressed lately.” To me, this is manipulation and it’s insincere which makes it harder for me to forgive the person.

Take some responsibility! You’re in charge of how you treat others! Depression is NO excuse. If you are depressed, start focusing on how you are affecting others around you and act to not disturb others in a negatively geared way. Just because you are feeling crumby, doesn’t mean those around you have to.

Great. So now you feel crumby, you’re frustrated with yourself, you can’t get out of bed AND now you can’t socialise just in case you affect someone else? Well … might as well just dig a hole and lie in it – right? WRONG! Here are some tips on where to go from here.

Cut out the bad guys
If you’re not feeling right and acting up, you will typically find that there are toxic people in your life bringing you down. Maybe one of your friends is a Negative Nancy. Perhaps it’s your lover? These are the people you need to decide that you will do better without. It may be difficult, but the short term pain of evicting these people from your life is well worth the long-term gain. Your current circumstances have evolved from decisions you have made – you decide who is in your life and who isn’t – start here when you start again.

Apologise to the people you have hurt
Now you know who you want in your life – and should have good reason for each of them, apologise openly to anyone in this group of people who you have hurt. Express that it wasn’t your intention to cause them pain, and perhaps you weren’t being yourself at the time (DO NOT blame being depressed!). Once you have sincerely apologised, ask if they can help you make it up to them. If the person makes a reasonable request, then try to act on it.

Take responsibility
Start making changes to alter your actions and change the end result for next time. Learn from your mistakes and take the lesson in life with you. According to Joan Didion, “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs”. Starting again is challenging, but concentrate on re-building your self-esteem and self-respect. Learn to trust yourself again so you don’t continue to let yourself down. Look at your life and really consider if things are in line with your values and beliefs. If not, it’s time to cut them loose and make some changes.

It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself and no one else has made it. Sophocles

How to take responsibility for your actions

Stop reacting
When our actions cause pain to others, it is generally because we have reacted to something which has caused us pain. We are superimposing our circumstances onto other people’s lives as a means of taking control – this is not only unhealthy, but it’s a fast way of losing all the good and positive people from your life.

Reflect what changing your actions will mean to you
Ask yourself what accepting responsibility for your actions/thoughts will mean to you. How frequently do you blame others for your circumstances? Why do you feel like a victim? Once you’ve thought about all of these things, talk to yourself and start accepting that your actions have lead you to this circumstance, but if you change that going forward – your outcome may be much brighter for the future.

Do not give up!
Giving up and staying depressed is such a cop out. Quit using lazy excuses and start living proactively! It takes effort to keep going through tough circumstances, it takes effort to continually evaluate things and strive for the best, and continue to better yourself, and it takes effort to make up for any hurt you have caused, and effort to take responsibility for yourself. If you have got yourself into a rut, there is one thing that is for sure, you will be the best person to get yourself back out of the rut. While you can lean on some people around you for help and to offload – you also need to take responsibility, lean on yourself, trust yourself to make the right choices going forward.

Forgive yourself
The hardest part, but most important, in taking responsibility for your actions is to forgive yourself for what you have done to lead to your current (undesirable) circumstances. If you can step back from everything, acknowledge that you have made a mistake, and promise yourself that you will do better or try harder the next time around, then really, half your battle is fought.

Take responsibility for your emotions
Don’t blame others for your unhappiness. Take responsibility for the way you feel and act. According to Denis Waitley, “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realisation that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make”.

So to summarise – how do you take responsibility for your life? Easy: make the right decisions. And then for the good news according to Hal Elrod: “The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life, is the moment you can change anything in your life”.

How to choose a great housemate

House hunting is easy. It’s the catching it part that’s difficult. Susan Gale.

House hunting is something everyone has to go through at one stage or another. A good friend of mine once told me that making a rash decision and choosing a bad housemate would be the worst decision I make. I didn’t trust that advice until I made the mistake.

Generally when you’re house hunting you’re focusing on the house, the location, the bills, the features … and on top of your massive list of ideals, you get to meet a complete stranger, for five minutes, to chat about what they like to do and their favourite breakfast cereal. By the time you’ve found your common ground (most likely Coco Pops for dinner), you’re excited about the place and ready to make your decision … but before you hit the green light – follow these tips to ensure you’re connecting yourself with the right housemate for you.

Know what you want in a housemate
Make a mental list of everything you’re looking for in a housemate. This will generally include someone that respects your space and privacy, someone considerate and caring, and someone that you can talk to. You may even have a preference in the age and gender that you want to live with. Remember, this person is your living companion, not your friend. You can spend some time together, but you don’t want to overcrowd each other. When making your mental list, consider your values – smoking, drugs, drinking, social gatherings … what will you tolerate? What won’t you tolerate?

Ask lots of questions
Leave no stone unturned! This is your chance to talk about your pet-hates, your expectations (fridge space sharing, dryer usages, shoes on or off, rental adjustments, length of stay etc.). Get everything out in the open so there are no surprises later on. Find out if they have pets, if they want your name on the lease, how much bond do you need to pay, when is rent due, come to an agreement about partners staying over (so you don’t end up unexpectedly living with a couple!), ask where they work or what they’re studying – but whatever you do, go in casually, it’s not a Spanish inquisition! It’s ideal to make a list of questions so you don’t feel as though you’re put on the spot and you cover everything.

Meet your potential housemate
Ideally, try to take a friend with you to meet your potential housemate so you have a second opinion. The same friend that told me to avoid getting a bad housemate, also offered to come house hunting with me – but I chose to do it on my own. Now I always ensure someone – a good judge of character who I trust – can come with me to all my inspections. A true friend will stop you from making any rash decisions and will give you their honest opinion.

Walk away
After you’ve inspected the property and met your potential housemate, give yourself time to think about it and get back to them. Avoid deciding on the spot. Weigh up your options, think things through, even search other property listings to compare.

Warning signs
- Casual worker or long-term unemployment
– Awkward conversation – I’m a believer if it starts awkward, it may end awkwardly
– Pay attention to how the person makes you FEEL! If you feel light, happy and vibrant after meeting them – this may be a great person. If you’re feeling low in energy and tired, perhaps this isn’t the right person
– Bitching. If they’re bitching a lot about their ex-housemate, they could be a winger. People are trying to put their best foot forward at the initial meeting, so be wary of these types
– Excessive rules. If you’re living in a share house, you need to agree on the rules. Just because they live there first, doesn’t mean it’s their way or the highway, feel free to stand your ground
– Anyone too eager. If they say they want you to sign on the dotted line straight away and move in tomorrow and won’t give any time to think, clearly they’re desperate and there will be a reason for this. Consider this before you sign anything! If you are very keen, try to find out the reason for their eagerness and see if you are comfortable with their response.

Tips to being an awesome housemate
* Be polite and considerate at all times. Remember all those tips your grandmother would give you when growing up? Best apply them now!
* Don’t use your phone loudly after 9.30pm. Be considerate! If you want to talk on the phone, go into your room and use it quietly
* Let them sleep. If you know they’re sleeping or it’s an unreasonable hour and you are awake, find a quiet activity to keep you occupied – such as reading
* Don’t touch their things without asking first. That means: don’t eat their food because it’s there and it looks good, don’t take their phone charger without permission and don’t steal their toilet paper because you’ve run out – take some responsibility! In emergency cases where you do use their things, let them know immediately after and replace it as soon as you can
* Invite them to parties or events you hold at the house. Don’t wait until they come home from work and there you are at the dinner table with five friends having a laugh. After a long day, that’s not nice to come home to!
* Make friendly conversation – don’t be a hermit, try to be social. Talk about things your passionate about, your family, friends, interests etc.
* Use your common sense: If you make a mess, clean it up. If you break something of theirs, apologise and offer to replace it. Keep common areas clean. Limit the number of people you have over and the number of nights they’re over. Don’t go through their things – whether they’re home or not.

Looking for some more information in Australia about renting or sharing? Click here!

How to catch up with yourself

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To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. E. E. Cummings.

No one knows what tomorrow brings, and with life throwing up various obstacles at us, things can change in a moment. Never get too comfortable with what you have, because you never know when you may lose it. So while many of us are so busy with our day-to-day lives with as much routine as possible, such as working full time to earn money to survive, going to the gym, shopping for groceries etc., it can be difficult to catch up with yourself which will often leave you feeling forgotten, empty, or even depressed. Even if you bypass these feelings, you may display a lack of confidence, appear anxious or moody, and generally not be you usual self. It is your responsibility to look after yourself – it is one of those things that no one can do for you.

Schedule time for yourself EVERY DAY
Spend some time doing affirmations or another self-soothing activity (it could be painting your nails, reading a book, cooking a nice dinner – as long as you enjoy it) every single day. Don’t wait until you’ve lost yourself or you’re burnt out to realise you haven’t been being good to yourself.

Use the time to assess your current life
Ensure that you are on path with your own personal values and goals. Ask yourself how your day went. How could you improve tomorrow? Write down what you have learnt from the day. If you had a great day – consider what made it a good day for you and how you could repeat it every day.

Consider what you want for tomorrow
Every now and then you will need to look at the direction you are travelling. Sometimes we need to alter our path to stay on track, other times we may realise we need to make more time for ourselves and make adjustments to our current schedule that way.

Spoil yourself
Plan a day once a month, fortnight, or week, when you spoil yourself. Take yourself on a date you have always wanted to go on, see that movie no one has time to see with you, buy yourself the bunch of flowers you love or the perfume that’s slightly too expensive.

Look after yourself
Get plenty of sleep, eat properly, exercise regularly… if you’re not looking after yourself you happiness will deplete and you will not function as well. Ensure you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, and sunshine!

Setting time aside for yourself is as important as setting time aside to catch up with any of your friends. Make sure you find a balance in your daily life and remember to put yourself first. By putting yourself first you will start gaining a lot of self-respect which gives you confidence to go forward.

Relationship Advice: How to fight fair

An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.
Mahatma Gandhi

Name calling, threats of breaking up, yelling – we’ve all done it. Relationships are not always smooth sailing and conflicts can be hurtful, even when they are quickly resolved. Learning to fight fair is essential for the future of any healthy, loving relationship.

While experts say conflict is healthy – there is little material available teaching us how to fight fairly when we are upset or hurt, and it’s this information that could save our relationships and avoid any further hurt being caused. So, how can we fight fair without hurting our relationship or the partner we love?

Listen to your partner
If your partner is picking a fight with you – it may be out of character. Perhaps acknowledging that they are not in a good mood and asking what you could do to help, may be enough to prevent the argument from escalating. This is particularly useful if it is clear that your partner has already had a difficult day at work – or if it is you that has had a challenging day, be open about it rather than picking a fight.

Keep the conversation relevant
Bringing up past conflicts or other agendas that have upset you in the past, and trying to talk about them while dealing with the problem at hand, will only lead to confusion in the communication. By the end of the conflict, you both may have put all kinds of bad things together and have forgotten how the dispute started but have no resolution and be both upset and hurt. Stick to the issue at hand, identify the problem and search for a single solution, rather than likening it to other issues you may have had.

Avoid talking about the future
Now is certainly not the time to talk about the future. If you’re arguing, you’ll both be hurting and this is where one or other of you can say something you regret. Cutting off something that may or may not happen in the future because of something that is happening now is not ideal. For example, your partner leaves dirty dishes in the sink – and you’re already fighting about your in-laws – so you add: “That’s it! I’m not moving in with you while you leave your dishes in the sink!” Comments like this are unnecessary, and will only exasperate the situation and intensify your partner’s upset and anger towards you. When and if it came time to moving in with each other – both parties habits will naturally change over time as you adjust to living together. Trust that this will happen and avoid adding anything else unnecessarily.

Don’t make any decisions
Never end a relationship while you’re having a fight. Wait until things calm down, and then you can make your decision. This will save you from having any regrets about your decision and prevent your relationship from appearing on-again and off-again to those around you. Avoid making threats or saying “always” or “never” – you may regret it later.

Ensure both parties are ready before you fight
Don’t fight after one of you has already had a hard day, you’re just adding to the burden and hurting the person. If both parties are ready for a heated debate, then neither party should “win” – which ultimately damages the relationship. Know when the argument is over and let it go. Always give your partner an out to maintain their dignity. If either party are not ready to fight – don’t fight at that time, to be fair, put it on an agenda for another time. Bed time is time out – never go to sleep on an argument.

Don’t say hurtful things intentionally
Avoid the temptation of temporarily feeling empowered in an argument by using your confidential knowledge of your partner’s weaknesses and sensitive to “win” an argument. Remember, when you’re fighting fairly, there is only compromise – there are no winners.

Show that you’re listening: seek feedback and clarification
Without it feeling as though you’re entering couples therapy, open up your communication as much as possible, to find the information your partner is upset about so you can seek to correct it. “Sweety, what I hear you’re saying is that you think I share too many of our personal details with my girlfriends, is that right?” That gives your partner a chance to correct you or not. You can even ask your partner how they would prefer you to communicate and behave in future so they are happy and satisfied. Nobody intentionally wants to see their partner upset.

Be open to change and learning
Don’t waste a good fight by not learning from it. Be open to change and permit growth as you extract insight and information from each argument you have in your relationship. Implement specific and realistic changes immediately – for example, it could be agreed that if your partner appears tense, you are able to encourage them to talk about it, rather than remaining silent as has been done in the past.

Be real
If you are serious about fighting fairly and having positive outcomes from a dispute, deal with the issue at hand, not with a symptom of the problem. Be honest about what’s really bothering you, or you will walk away from the exchange even more frustrated.

Focus on the solution, not the problem
Once you finish your initial vent and release some anger, focus on finding the solution. Attack the problem, not your partner. Search for the win-win compromise. At the end of the day remember you are on the same team – you’re working towards a common goal: you both want to be loved and appreciated, and remain in a happy relationship.

Come back to it
If you start to feel exhausted or warn down from the fight, explain that you don’t think you’re going to reach a decision on it at the moment and you may need to come back to it at a later date. Give each other the ability to withdraw or change their mind.

Things to avoid
– Referring to past mistakes or incidences – it won’t help anything: it will only cause more pain and frustration to both parties
– Blaming your partner – take mutual responsibility where you can
– Comparing to others, situations or stereotypes
– Playing games – now is not the time: be straight about your feelings and direct about what you want or need in a situation
– Involving other people – the fight is between two people only
– Interrupting – maintain your respect for your partner. Also avoid negative non-verbal expressions such as rolling your eyes, smirking, yawning, finger pointing, crossing your arms, appearing bored etc
– Separation talk. Talking this way will quickly erode your partner’s confidence in your commitment to the relationship. Trust is not easily restored once it is broken in this way
– Assuming. Always be open to your partners side, don’t try to read their mind or expect them to read yours. Find out what went wrong and how you can improve for next time
– Using defensive behaviour. Don’t defend or justify or you lock yourself into a position of right and wrong – which is like blaming. It perpetuates rather than resolves conflict
– Stonewalling. NO stonewalling when you are trying to resolve conflict. Shutting down, withdrawing, or refusing to engage is generally perceived to mean that you just don’t care about the issue at hand, or worse yet, the person to whom you are speaking. It comes across as insulting and demeaning. Communicate if you need a break, let the person know you need a break and you will resume the conversation again shortly. And keep your word!

Remember: Just because you have a disagreement, doesn’t mean your partner no longer loves you. If you are on the same team and you truly love each other, you will work it out. If the love is lost, let it go, there’s no point holding onto a hot coal or fixing something on your own. Part of being in a partnership means it will take two to work through things, every time.

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