Archive | December 2013

Inspiration for the New Year

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Happy New Year to all my friends and followers. 2014 is going to be amazing! x

How to create your personal development plan for 2014 and beyond

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Know who you are, and be it. Know what you want, and go out and get it! Carroll Bryant

One of my most important goals in life was to lose weight and get mentally fit. I set out and lost 20kg and soon realised mental fitness is just like regular fitness, you need to work on it as often as possible to stay in shape. The good news is, I’ve kept the weight off. The reality for the mental fitness is that there’s been highs and lows.

I learned a lot about myself during that time and particularly about self-discipline and commitment to my goals and promises to self. My happiness, self-esteem and overall health and fitness has become very important to me since beginning this journey back in 2009.

Honesty and integrity are very important values and I live by both. No matter what – if I say I’ll do something, I will do it – even if I change my mind about wanting to do it… And the main thing that has kept me on track has been working towards goals. And the best time for setting goals? New Years Eve!

So forgetting New Years Resolutions, we’re going to strive for something a little longer term. Today Happiness Weekly looks at how you can create your own personal development plan for 2014 and succeed!

 

What is a personal development plan?

Everyone has something they want to change about themselves or that they wish could be different. A personal development plan focuses on what you can do to make these changes happen and help you live the life you want to lead. Only you can improve your life circumstances. So if you’re one of those people currently looking for others to boost you up, then this blog is for you.

Your personal development plan will help you learn two things about yourself – what you really want from life, and how what you can do to achieve it. It also enables you to clearly see any obstacles that may trip you up along the way, which will ultimately help you to avoid them and it offers resilient growth and improvement – as opposed to New Years resolutions – because you can refer back to it.

 

Steps to creating your personal development plan

Step one – work out what you want
a. Make a list of all the things you want in life. This can include career, relationships, home life, health, fitness, emotional wellbeing etc. If it’s something really important to you such as learning a new hobby, then give it its own category. This is your plan so there are no real hard or fast rules here!

b. Once everything is listed, priorities the top four or five key areas. Just enough to challenge you but not enough to overwhelm you.

c. Now rate how satisfied you feel in each of the areas (1 to 10 – 1 being not satisfied at all, 10 being extremely satisfied). Concentrate on your feelings so you’re not distracted by how good you are or how successful you are.

d. Analyse your results – anything you rated a 7 or less could use improvement. Now decide which area you’d like to work to improve first. We will use this as an example from here on in, and repeat the process for the others to finalise your personal development plan.

e. Now ask yourself in an ideal world how you would like that situation to be. Think long-term and imagine it in as much detail as you possibly can. Use your senses – if that’s how you were living, how would it feel to wake up in the morning, what would you do during the day, what kinds of people would you meet, how would you talk to yourself?

f. Get specific. Don’t worry about how you’re going to achieve your goal but focus on eliminating vagueness by concentrating on when it will be achieved and how you know it will be achieved.

Step 2 – find the gap between reality and your goal

a. Consider how your current situation and get set to compare it to the ideal scenario.

What do you spend your time doing during the typical week? (List them and the amount of

time spent on each)

Are you happy with how you spend your time?

How, specifically, will you know that you have achieved your ideal situation?

Where are you now in terms of your goal?

What needs to happen or change in order for you to achieve your goal?

b. Consider what resources you currently have that you can use to achieve your goal.

What skills do you have that could help move you towards your ideal situation?

What relevant knowledge do you have that would be useful?

Who do you know that could help you? (Networking is key!)

What tangible resources do you have that could come in handy?

What skill/knowledge do you need to gain to achieve your goal?

Step 3 – create options to achieve permanent change

a. Brainstorm as many actions you could take that will help you move towards your ideal goal as possible. Try to include taking action you may never have considered before. Start with making a creative, long list – do not narrow it down.

Some things to consider in this step is:

Who could you network with to move in the direction of your goals?

Who will support your quest to move into this chosen area you wish to improve?

What phrases could you search for online to get more ideas?

What would you do if you were completely invincible?

What if money wasn’t an issue?

b. Make a mind map (put your central theme in the middle and draw branching lines off this). Now focus on practical actions. Stay focused until you drill down to specific actionable steps. When you read them, you shouldn’t need to do any more thinking. This literally gives the stepping stones to be where you want to go.

Step 4 – set some goals

a. Pick actions you want to take – this will stop you from procrastinating. Don’t choose too many at once instead pick three – one you can do in the next 24 hours, one for the next 48 hours and one for the next week. Set a deadline a week from now, down to the minute, in which you would have accomplished all these actions/goals.

b. Increase your chances of achieving your goals by considering how great it will be when you succeed verses failing this step, make yourself accountable by making your goals public (you don’t need to go into fine details – just stating the overall plan may be enough), get a buddy who is also looking to make positive changes, keep written goals in a prominent place and take first action immediately – make this a habit to get the momentum going.

Congratulations on making your very own personal development plan for 2014 and all the best for achieving your goals, not only for this coming year but in the future!

Thank you to the following blogs that provided great inspiration:

12 things the best employees do before noon

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Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission. Anne M. Mulcahy

Self-professed “morning people” have reported feeling happier and healthier than those who stay up late, which researchers believe could be because society caters to a morning person’s schedule. Ultimately those who like rising with the sun have been found to be the most high-functioning, productive and conscious employees in the office!

This week Happiness Weekly discovers what the best employees check off their to-do list before lunch.

1. Make a to-do list before you leave the office at the end of the day. Many swear by having a written to-do list, but not everyone agrees on when you need to compose it. According to Andrew Jensen, a business efficiency consultant, the opportune time to plan a day’s tasks is the night before. “Some people like to write the to-do schedule in the morning, but then they might have already lost office time writing it out,” he says. Therefore it is more productive compiling your to-do list the night before … and it helps you to sleep better!

2. Get a full night’s rest. Speaking of sleeping better … lack of sleep affects your concentration level, and therefore, your productivity. Whatever your gold standard is for a “good night’s rest,” strive to meet it every work night. Most health experts advise getting a minimum eight hours sleep each night.

3. Don’t hit snooze. “Anyone can make morning their most productive time. It could be that for the entire week, you set your alarm clock a little bit earlier, and you get out of bed on the first alarm. It may be a pain at first, but eventually you’ll get to the point where you’re getting your seven to eight hours of sleep at night, you’re waking up with all your energy, and accomplishing the things around the house you need to before going to the office,” Jensen says.

4. Exercise every day. Schedule your Pilates class for the a.m. instead of after work. “Exercise improves mood and energy levels,” Jensen says. “There have also been studies on employees who exercised before work or during the work day. Those employees have been found to have better time-management skills, and an improved mental sharpness.” The same studies found these employees are also more patient with their peers.

5. Practice a morning ritual. Jensen recommends instituting a morning routine such as meditating, reading the newspaper, surfing the internet or just enjoying a coffee alone and enjoying some quiet time by yourself.

6. Eat breakfast. Food provides the fuel you’ll need to concentrate, and breakfast is particularly important since it recharges you after you’ve fasted all night. Try munching on something light and healthy in the morning, and avoid processed carbs that could zap your energy.

7. Arrive at the office on time. If you’re not a new employee, then you’ve already figured out the length of your average commute. Allot a safe amount of time to make it to work on schedule – there’s no excuse to be late!

8. Check in with your manager and/or employees. Good workers set priorities that align with their company’s goals, and they’re transparent about their progress.

9. Tackle the big projects first. Since you made your to-do list the night before, you can dive right into work upon arriving in the office. If you’re a morning person and your mind is most productive early in the day, jump straight into the harder tasks while you’re at your mental peak and do the meaningless tasks towards the end of the day.

10. Avoid morning meetings. If you have any influence over the time a meeting is scheduled, arrange for it to be in the afternoon. “You should use your prime skills during the prime time of the day and mornings are the most productive time,” Jensen says, also noting that an employer who schedules morning meetings could rob his or her employees of their peak performance at a cost to the company. The exception to this, is if your meeting is the most important task of the day. “Sometimes you have to schedule a crucial meeting, in which case you’d want to plan for a time when employees are at their peak.”

11. Reserve time to follow up on messages. Discern between mindless email/voicemail checking and conducting important business. Instead of checking your emails regularly, set a schedule to check and respond to your emails in increments – if you set it for the beginning of each hour, it will ensure clients and colleagues receive a prompt response.

12. Take a mid-morning break. Get up and stretch your legs or stay seated and indulge in a little Internet surfing. “You should take 10-minute breaks occasionally,” he says. “Companies that ban any kind of social media, texting, or personal calls can find it will ultimately be detrimental to them. Those small practices increase employee satisfaction.” Just be sure not to abuse the privilege. “The best employees respect their employer’s time, and the worst-performing employees will find a way to waste time even if the company forbids personal Internet use,” Jensen explains.

Which of these simple tips are you going to adopt to become a better employee?

How to make a positive difference – easily!

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I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do. Helen Keller

Over the years the biggest changes that have sent positive ripples throughout Sydney have come from my darkest days. Right when I feel that I am only one, and what difference can one make? I’m overcome with motivation to show exactly what one can do. How? Generally when we are down, we are searching for something and sometimes we can’t find it. That’s when we encourage you to create whatever it is you’re looking for. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can make a positive difference.

1. Find the niche

When you’re feeling down and you’re looking for whatever it is you can’t find – there is absolutely nothing stopping you from starting it up yourself. Be the change you want to see in the world! Think of it this way – you’re probably not the only person in your situation, in the world, with your circumstances who is looking helplessly for this same thing which may or may not exist. If it does exist, put your own spin on it. You don’t need to become a millionaire entrepreneur, but it could be what you need to focus on to move you forward and make a positive difference – not only to your life but the lives of others.

2. Take a chance

It takes great courage to take a step forward and take a chance, particularly if you’re going through a rough patch and all stakes feel against you. Let me tell you something – Happiness Weekly – was born from one of my darkest days. When I thought life had walked out on me, I walked right back in on life and said “Wait up! Let me show you what I can do!” It’s now a really successful, motivational blog and soon-to-be eBook!

3. Do it for the greater good

If you’re doing something for the greater good and something that will impact others, then you will find yourself more likely to succeed. More people will want to help you on your mission. Whereas, if you’re starting something selfishly, it’s a lot harder to sell to others and therefore succeed. Whatever you choose to do, make it your aim to send positive ripple effects well beyond your backyard – aim to impact as many people as possible, and then you’ll get a greater sense of accomplishment and reap better rewards.

4. Ignore the inner critic

Self doubt plagues all of us – during good days and bad. It’s important when you’re starting out on a new venture that you ignore any self doubt and concentrate on the greater good. “I’m not doing this blog for me – I’m doing it for everyone else who is out there just like me and in similar circumstances or needs the best guidance on the toughest situations…” Self motivation is absolutely essential in pushing you through the beginning stages to make a positive difference.

5. Share your lessons

If you really want to make a positive difference to the world – share your lessons. It’s as simple as that. Don’t tell the world what to do. Don’t tell the world you can do things better than them. Simply share your experiences as objectively as you can to assist other people in avoiding your mistakes and ending up in any painful circumstances that perhaps you are experiencing.

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10 ways to live for a happier tomorrow

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Do what makes you happy, be with who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breathe, and love as long as you live. Rachel Ann Nunes

Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul
Democritus

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to do more of what makes us happy and avoid the things that cause us distress or upset. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at what you can do today to encourage a happier tomorrow.

  1. Uncomplicate your life. Anything that feels too hard or is making you work too hard – including people – find a way to release them from your life to ease the burden. In order to let the good things in life come to you, you need to make as much space for it as possible!
  2. Let go of negative people – accept some people can’t be helped or don’t want it. This can be extremely challenging but if you keep catching up with someone and feel drained of energy from their negativity each time you leave, it’s time to cut them loose. Choose to spend your time with positive, uplifting people. Try to quickly recognise when someone isn’t good for you.
  3. Exercise every single day. Even if you usually power walk but decide to slowly walk your usual circuit – as long as you do something every single day. It will help release happy endorphins and reduce stress.
  4. Maintain a good sleeping pattern. Aim to get eight hours of sleep each night. This helps your functioning and will assist in elevating your moods and giving you energy to burn on positivity and work performance.
  5. Move closer to the office – a shorter commute avoids the misery caused by traffic congestion and also gives you more time to spend on the things you enjoy the most!
  6. Time is the best gift you can give someone, so make sure you always spend as much time with your friends and loved ones as you can. Daniel Gilber, Harvard happiness expert said: “We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends.”
  7. Get back to nature and spend some time outdoors when you can. Spending up to 20 minutes outside in good weather boosts positive mood, broadens thinking and improves memory.
  8. Smile often – especially when you’re feeling a lot of pain. A study at Michigan State University showed that people who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts improve their mood and withdraw less. It not only makes us feel good and reduces the distress caused by an upsetting situation, but it also increases our ability to think holistically.
  9. Plan a trip – even just planning a break from work can improve happiness. A study published in Applied Research in Quality of Life showed that the highest spike in happiness came during the planning stage of a vacation as employees enjoyed the participation.
  10. Live each day as a fresh start. See new opportunities as they come your way. Know what you want and head in that direction. Don’t allow anything from the past to hold you back – even if there are people trying to drag you down, keep looking to the brighter future. Learn from your mistakes, see the lesson in everything and be self-motivated.

Motivational song to go with this week’s blog:

If today was your last day

Nickelback

My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day’s a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
If today was your last day

Against the grain should be a way of life
What’s worth the prize is always worth the fight
Every second counts ’cause there’s no second try
So live like you’ll never live it twice
Don’t take the free ride in your own life

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you’re dreamin’ of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it’s never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes
‘Cause you can’t rewind a moment in this life
Let nothin’ stand in your way
Cause the hands of time are never on your side

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?

Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you’re dreamin’ of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

Breaking free of love addiction

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Some abuse is not physical. Abuse does not have to be physical. There’s emotional abuse, psychological abuse and spiritual abuse. Iyanla Vanzant

Last week we looked at the different types of love addicts, this week Happiness Weekly is looking at how you can break free of the love addiction cycle. This blog includes information about:
– What is a love addict/love avoidant?
– Why do they attract each other?
– Signs you’re a love addict/love avoidant
– The cycle of love addiction with a love avoidant
– How to escape the cycle
– Quick tips on overcoming addictive relationships
– How you can tell someone is addicted to love and needs help

First we’re going to define two types of addicts who we will be referring to I this blog.

What is a love addict?

Love addiction is when people become addicted to the feeling of being in love. They generally have unfulfilled emotional needs that they seek to satisfy with romance or relationships. Unfortunately they tend to form relationships with individuals who are love avoidant.

What is a love avoidant?

Love avoidance is the systematic putting up of walls in a relationship to prevent feeling emotionally overwhelmed by another person. Consequently, it prevents true intimacy. It can be described as a form of emotional anorexia. The love avoidant perceives love as being an obligation or duty, so relationships are experienced as an emotional drain. The love avoidant tends to become involved with love addicts, and puts up walls to decrease the intensity within the relationship. However, the more the avoidant distances, the more the love addict pursues. The avoidant often responds by a pattern of deprivation within the primary relationship, while acting in ways that create intensity outside of that relationship (e.g., work, pursuing other relationships or sexual encounters, addictions, etc.).

They’re opposite problems so why do they attract each other?

A love avoidant is a person who gains a sense of control in a relationship by avoiding intimacy and withholding love. Together they engage in a dysfunctional relationship pattern called the ‘distancer-pursuer’ relationship – the love addict’s primary emotional fear is of abandonment, she or he is typically the pursuer in an established relationship, while the love avoidant, whose primary fear is of intimacy, responds by distancing. Because both of these partners suffer from a form of attachment disorder, a healthy relationship is going to be difficult to maintain without concentrated awareness and effort.

In this addictively toxic relationship both parties are getting some of their needs met which is why it can be more difficult to leave. Co-dependents trying to help a wounded person feel good about themselves and they get a false sense of self-esteem because their sacrificing. Unfortunately co-dependency is about giving more than you get, so it’s an unhealthy need that is being met.

 

Signs you’re a love addict

These signs will be similar to what drug addicts, alcoholics, gamblers and other addicts struggle with. It’s very similar with love addicts.

The “fix” – Addictive relationships always start out wonderfully. If they were not as magical as described, they wouldn’t work as a fix. That’s right – just like the fix a drug addict gets. Addictions, be they to drugs, alcohol, gambling or people, are transformative. This mean they are a fix for negative feelings such as anxiety, depression, grief, self-doubt, rage, despair, fear of abandonment etc. The only problem is that, like with drugs, the fix doesn’t last.

Dependency – The dependency on another person as the fix is reflected in the obsession that goes into maintaining the connection, approval or fantasised attachment to the other person. The ability to trust is absent in addictive relating. Anxiety is shaded by jealousy and paranoid fears. Endless texts, phone calls and messages are sent to lower anxiety and ensure that the other has not turned from loving to unloving.

Loss of control – The constant and inconsistent demands for reassurance ultimately incite rejection, rage and threatened disconnect in the partner. This invites efforts to repair, repent and a willingness to tolerate anything to re-connect again. There is often co-dependency with a partner who on some level needs the adoration and control being offered even at the cost of their own emotional freedom.

Loss of self – Addictive relating results in an increasingly devalued view of self and an idealised version of the other person which makes the need to depend greater and the stakes are higher.

Loss of connections – The obsession and dramatic cycles that underscore addictive relating jeopardise the connection with family and friends. Family and friends often feel pushed aside as activities are given up and responsibilities neglected in pursuit of the fix.

Loss of functioning – Despite all negative consequences, the pattern of addictive relating involves more and more dependence with less and less fulfilment. The cost can affect all spheres of a person’s life.

Love addiction expert Pia Mellody came up with this checklist to help you discover if you are a love addict.

  • Your partner seemed too good or perfect to be true when you first met.
  • He or she seemed like the person you had always dreamed of.
  • Your partner seemed unusually charming and thoughtful when you first met, almost as if he or she could read your mind.
  • Within days of meeting your partner you felt like the two of you had been spiritually connected for years.
  • You were convinced you and your new partner were ‘soul mates.’?
  • Your partner’s interests and hobbies seem more important to him or her than you are.
  • You’ve started cutting activities and people out of your life because you don’t want to make your partner jealous.
  • You have been so obsessed with another person before that you gave up everything (e.g., job, friends, family, etc.) to be with that person.
  • You have put your partner on a pedestal before.
  • Your partner went from being romantic to cold and distant.
  • You have said to friends before, ‘He/She was so charming and thoughtful in the beginning; I don’t understand why he/she changed’?
  • You have tried unsuccessfully to be romantic and make things like they were in the beginning.
  • Your partner seems to spend less and less time with you.
  • You have been with a partner who was verbally or physically abusive.
  • You have blamed yourself or made excuses for your partner’s abuse.
  • -After long periods of unhappiness and progressively worse abuse, you still hang onto the belief that one day things will change.
  • You believe if you just hang in there long enough, you can love your partner into being who he or she really is.
  • You have been asked by a family member or close friend why you stay.
  • You feel abandoned when a relationship breaks up, even if you were the one who ended the relationship.
  • You have been in so much pain after an unhappy, troubled relationship has ended that you go back when your partner promises to change.
  • After a relationship has ended, your feelings of abandonment, pain, and fear seem so severe that you think you might die.
  • When you were a child, you often felt as though you were invisible.
  • A parent or major caregiver died, moved away or got divorced when you were a child.
  • As a child, you thought your parents or major caregivers didn’t really know what was happening to you or what was going on inside of you.
  • You feel like your father neglected and/or abandoned you during your childhood.
  • You feel like your mother neglected and/or abandoned you during your childhood.

 

Signs you’re a love avoidant

Pia Mellody also put together this checklist to help you discover if you are a love avoidant.

  • You think taking care of your partner is sufficient proof that you love him or her.
  • You find yourself often critical of your partner.
  • You believe it is your duty to take care of your partner.
  • You have a secret life away from your partner.
  • You keep important information about your thoughts or feelings from your partner.
  • You withhold information about yourself (at work or play) so that your partner will not get upset.
  • You find yourself needing to manage and be in control of the relationship.
  • You have frequently done things for your partner and then later had the sense that no matter what you did it was never enough for your partner.
  • You feel frustrated because your partner doesn’t understand that you’ve spent time with him or her and now you need time for yourself.
  • You feel smothered by your partner when he or she wants to have you around so much.
  • Your partner complains that he or she doesn’t really know you.
  • You find yourself overly critical of your partner.
  • You withhold praise or appreciation from your partner.
  • You feel resentful of your partner’s neediness.
  • You have had one or more relationships in which you felt smothered and needed to escape.
  • You find yourself needing to control your partner because you know better what should and shouldn’t be done.
  • You control your primary relationship by silence and anger.
  • When you’re with your partner you feel like you’re not getting your needs met.
  • You feel your partner doesn’t appreciate all that you do for him or her.
  • You frequently feel the need to escape the relationship.
  • You often feel the need to go some place where you can get attention without always having to assure the other person that you love them.
  • You are spending more time at work in order to be away from you partner.
  • You stay so busy that you have little to no relational time for your partner.
  • You feel a sense of relief when you leave the house.
  • Your drinking, drug use, or other addictive behaviors increase while you are in a primary relationship.
  • You’ve had an affair or one-night-stand in order to get away from your relationship, have some fun, and get some attention.
  • You use porn to escape from the pressure in your relationship.
  • You withhold sex from your partner.
  • You have become involved in relationships because you couldn’t say “no” or you didn’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings.
  • You have stayed in relationships longer than you wanted because you would have felt guilty if you ended it.
  • Your relationships have often begun with you rescuing your partner from another bad relationship, poor health, financial difficulties, emotional distress, legal problems or some other difficulty.
  • It is important to you that your partner thinks of you as her ‘Knight in Shining Armor’ or his ‘Wonder Woman.’
  • As a child, you sometimes thought you were taking care of mom or dad more than they were parenting you.
  • As a child, you felt like mom or dad was smothering.

 

The cycle of love addiction with a love avoidant

Understanding the cycle love addicts go through, to help you recognise certain patterns and behaviours you may have, is key in the recovery process.

Phase 1 – Obsession

During this phase, the love addict is consumed by thoughts of romantic intrigue to the point of shattered concentration and impaired judgement. It feels like an instant and overwhelming attraction to another person. The relationally dependent person becomes “hooked” on a romantic interest usually resulting from the slightest bit of attention from the other person they are attracted to.

Thoughts will include “This is the only man who ever understood me” or “This is the kind of woman I have dreamed of being with my whole life”.

Their obsessive thinking can be triggered by anything: meeting someone attractive, passing someone on the street, seeing a picture on a billboard, experiencing an emotional low point of self-pity and depression, or even just passing through a location where the obsession was previously triggered.

In this phase the love avoidant feels compelled to take care of needy people and the love addict appears particularly vulnerable.

In the beginning people who are addicted to love and avoidance are attracted – the love addicted is attracted to what appears to be a devoted and powerful person, while the love avoidant is attracted to the neediness the love addict displays. They need to feel needed because getting attention is one of the most ideal forms of love for an avoidant.

Characteristics of this phase include:

  • An instant attraction to romantic interest, usually occurring within the first few minutes of meeting
  • An immediate urge to rush into a relationship – regardless of compatibility
  • Becoming “hooked” on the look of another, focusing on the person’s physical characteristics while ignoring personality differences
  • Unrealistic fantasies about a relationship with a love interest assigning “magical” qualities to an object of affection
  • The beginnings of obsessive, controlling behaviours begin to manifest.

 

Phase 2 – The Hunt

The person is driven to follow through with the obsessive thoughts, inevitably seeking out someone who will satisfy that craving. The stronger the obsession the more diligent the hunt.

At this point interference with normal life becomes noticeable, often resulting in time away from work or home responsibilities. Only one of two things will stop the hunt – finding the object sought or being caught looking.

The avoidant begins to slowly put up walls in this phase, to keep the love addict from getting to close. At the same time, to satisfy the love addict, the avoidant acts seductive and adoring hiding behind a wall of romance and seduction to satisfy the needs of the partner while avoiding being vulnerable or feeling controlled. This behaviour triggers a fanciful mirage of the future for the love addict and serves as a “high” while they are falling in love with an image because the avoidant will not let the love addict get to know who they really are.

Phase 3 – Recruitment

Romance addicts become remarkably skilful at enlisting other people to play the necessary role to complete their romantic fantasy, which can be a non-sexual seduction.

The adrenalin rush that accompanies the danger of being caught or found out further propels the addictive cycle.

Phase 4 – Gratification

When the addict succeeds at realising their romantic fantasy, by whatever means, they get a great sense of gratification.

It is when – at this point – things start to build into a relationship that the mirages start to crack and crumble. The love addict hides behind denial, excuses and justifications to help them hold onto their fantasy of being rescued and living happily ever after with the avoidant soul mate. Meanwhile the avoidant, who fears intimacy and simultaneously abandonment, begins to feel resentful of the love addict. They feel like the love addict’s attempts to be intimate are suspicious and being to view intimacy as a chore or duty. Ultimately the avoidant’s resentment turns to anger – expressed in a passive-aggressive way or with over the top outbursts – which is then used to control the love addict, who fears that if their partner is angry and unhappy, they will leave them. The love addict rationalises that they need to change to stop the avoidant being so angry and so they will stick around and rescue them. The love avoidant continues to communicate anger in either a passive-aggressive or overtly aggressive way and will generally use this anger to justify a break from relationship duties.

 

Phase 5 – Return to normal

The immediate effect of gratification is a break in the obsessive thinking – and from the pain that fuelled it. This means there’s a return to what feels normal for a while. However, the pressures of life build up again and sometimes trigger a new cycle to begin.

Phase 6 – Justification

Having “resolved” these problems by resorting to romantic fantasy or acting out frequently brings its own feelings of guilt and remorse. The addict then begins to justify their behaviour. They convince themselves that what they did wasn’t so bad, everyone does it and it’s normal or at least understandable for someone with similar unique circumstances and special needs.

The addict rationalises gratification even if it involved someone else, depersonalising the episode. In their mind the other person wasn’t real or a person at all, it was just a component in the staging of a complex romantic drama.

In time the avoidant rationalises cheating, using pornography, drugs, alcohol etc. on their “burdensome” partner. However it’s their fear of abandonment that makes them feel trapped. They see themselves as a victim of relationship partner and rationalise seeking intensity outside of a primary relationship, for example overworking, drugs, alcohol, compulsive eating, sexually acting out, taking financial risks, thrill seeking etc.

Phase 7 – Anxiety

Known as the “anxious phase” because it’s a relational turning point when both parties have committed. Sometimes the relationally dependant person will enter into this phase without the presence of a commitment which happens when the afflicted person creates the illusion of intimacy regardless of the other person’s true feelings.

It includes:

  • Unfounded thoughts of infidelity on the part of a partner and demanding accountability for normal daily activities
  • An overwhelming fear of abandonment, including baseless thought of a partner walking out on the relationship in favour of another person
  • The need to constantly be in contact with a love interest via the phone, email or in person
  • Strong feelings of mistrust begin to emerge causing depression, resentment and relational tension.
  • The continuation and escalation of obsessive, controlling behaviours.

Phase 7 – Blame

Most addicts cannot successfully rationalise their behaviour without blaming someone for it. The addict will blame their parents, spouse, someone from the past who let them down, and lay their underlying pain at their feet. Fundamentally, they refuse to take responsibility for their situation but blame others for driving the decisions they made.

The love addict’s bubble is popped at this point and reality comes crashing in. They experience emotional abandonment by the avoidant. At this point it may not appear that the avoidant is addicted to the relationship at all as they do everything in their power to push it away, but if the love addict leaves, the avoidant will do everything in their power to win them back. The avoidant’s addiction is truly is a case of “can’t live with them, can’t live without them”.

At this point the love addict may use any number of strategies to try to win back the avoidant. Denial and self-medication are the only things they are likely to gain. Some love addicts even lash out with revenge, for example starting their own affair. Their attempts to win back the avoidant are only seen as controlling nuisances by the avoidant.

The avoidant begins to feel like a prisoner in the relationship, regardless of whether the partner is actually manipulating them or not. This feeling prompts them to spend more time away from home or avoiding the love addict, for example working more hours, seeing friends or just not being home.

Some characteristics that may also be associated with this phase include:

  • The onset of “tunnel vision” meaning the relationally dependent person cannot stop thinking about a love interest and required his or her constant attention
  • Neurotic, compulsive behaviours, including rapid telephone calls to love interst’s place of residence or work
  • Unfounded accusations of “cheating” due to extreme anxiety
  • “Drive-bys” around a love interest’s home or play of employment, with the goal of assuring that the person is at where he or she is supposed to be
  • Physical or electronic monitoring activities, following a love interest’s whereabouts throughout the course of a day to discover daily activities
  • Extreme control tactics, including questioning a love interest’s commitment to the relationship (such as guilt trips) with the goal of manipulating a love interest into providing more attention.

Phase 8 – Shame

Invariably the love addict carries a residual awareness of what they have done and what their actions say about the kind of person they must be. Generally they feel a lot of guilt, even when it’s not showing on the surface.

Phase 9 – Despair

The experience of careening from high excitement at the outset of the cycle to shames and guilt at its conclusions, and the awareness that the cycle is unstoppable, produces hopelessness. Those agonies get worse with every trip through the cycle, which is why it’s important to break it early.

Phase 10 – Promises

Because the pain is so great, the addict will always swear they will never do it again. They know it’s only a matter of time because the obsessive thoughts start to crowd in again and they will be cause in the addictive cycle again.

The avoidant will either return to the relationship out of guilt or fear of abandonment at this point. If they don’t, they will find a replacement relationship and the cycle will continue that way.

When the relationship comes to an end, the couple is separated, typically one of two things happen: they return to each other and start the cycle over again, or they seek other love addicted partners and the cycle starts again.

With each progression through the cycle, the problems become more and more magnified unless one of them seeks help and starts to get healthy. The problems intensify with each pass of a cycle because the feeling of abandonment after each break up grows. AS the number of abandonments increase, so does the desperation to kill the pain left in their wake with a new opiate.

Some of the characteristics found in this destructive phase include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of depression (or feeling “empty” inside)
  • A sudden loss of self-esteem, due to the collapse of the relationship
  • Extreme feelings of self-blame and at times, self-hatred
  • Anger, rage and a desire to seek revenge against a love interest for breaking off the relationship
  • Denial that the relationship has ended and attempting to win a loved one back by making promises to change
  • The use of drugs, alcohol, food or sex to “medicate” the emotional pain.

 

How to escape the cycle

By the time this couple decides to get help, both people are usually exhausted – tired and worn out from the cycle. They need to be prepared to make some changes which sometimes means the relationship gets into counselling and both partners change and grow and their relationship is saved, but it can sometimes mean ending the relationship, cutting your losses and starting from scratch with someone who’s relationship material. Generally if a therapist recommends a love addict or love avoidant leave the relationship, they will never see the person again because they want information to fix them but they don’t want to change the way their think or their values around their relationship. Unfortunately there is no quick fix, the reality is, recovery from love addiction takes a long time – sometimes years!

To find long lasting recovery, you first need to understand the core issues of shame/self-esteem, boundary impairment, unrealistic relational expectations, rescuing and placating, and fear of abandonment and intimacy.

Recovery begins with the end of denial and the recognition of the addiction. This may also mean the end of the relationship but it is for the best. If you do want to keep your relationship both parties need to be involved in the recovery and the couple needs a join wish to change and seek help together or individually. Recovery for a couple can start with the courage of one partner who STOPS the pattern and seeks support. The addictive cycle cannot go without a “fix”.

It involves the wish to change, even when that wish comes from hitting the wall of loss and a lot of pain. It’s about reclaiming self – not another person – which is why it is recommended you don’t date for six months to a year while recovering.

Often professional help is required as a way to connect with self by dealing the regulation of feelings, acceptance of self, improved self-esteem, healing from wounds, dependency issues, self-love, self-forgiveness etc.

Some patterns of love addiction include falling in love too quickly into relationships, ignoring unhealthy behaviours of one’s partner, trying to control our partner’s behaviour so that we feel comfortable, allowing our partner’s mood to bring us down, having unrealistic expectations that a romantic relationship will fill “all” your needs and wants, trying to ‘fix’ whatever problem arises in our partner’s life instead of allowing them to fix it themselves. When we succumb to these inappropriate and harmful behaviours and choices, we lose the connection to ourselves by handing our power over to another. In a love addicted situation, these toxic behavioural patterns become he foundation of a relationship and develop into comfortable, yet unhealthy patterns.

Feeling weak? Concentrate on building on your emotional maturity. Emotional maturity allows us to think before we act and take responsibility for our lives and actions, and respect others independence. Self-identity is also important as it teaches us to be independent or mutually dependant. Two whole individuals support each other and share their life together in a way that allows each to truly, and independently, shine.

Developing healthy boundaries is critical to intimacy, self-esteem development, and what kind of people we allow in our lives. These boundaries allow us to protect and take care of ourselves. It is our responsibility to recognise when we are being disrespected, then communicate clearly that our boundaries are being infringed upon. Everyone has a right to protect and defend themselves and are obliged to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us. With healthy boundaries, we will not allow another’s dysfunctions and insecurities rule our actions and behaviours. We can learn to recognise where and how we can help in way that will empower ourselves and those around us.

Love addicts and love avoidants need to change their belief system about love. They have to change their behaviour and accept that it’s not appropriate when you meet someone to call them ten times a night or every day, or to drive by their house when you’re broken up and take the license plate of any care in their driveway. Any obsessive behaviours like this are irrational and need resolving quickly with professional help.

It’s important if a love addict or love avoidant admits they require help that you do not discourage them because in some cases the combination can have devastating consequences and sometimes even be fatal.

Quick tips on overcoming addictive relationships

1. Stop what you are doing and observe your behaviour

2. Accept it is not love but a person addiction

3. Take an inventory of your dysfunctional pattern in your current and past relationships. Write it down. Be honest without blaming anyone else for your choices

4. Make your recovery your first priority – commit to it

5. Unless you are in a committed relationship, do not engage in any potentially romantic interactions for at least 6 months. That includes no texting, emailing, online dating sites, hook ups, introductions by well-intentioned friends and family

6. Have courage to face your own problems and shortcomings

7. Ask yourself how life would be if you took responsibility for your own happiness, successes and failures and loved yourself the way you want to be loved.

8. Identify your needs especially those gaps that make you feel undeserving or bad about yourself

9. Look for the common themes in your relationship inventory and understand what is really happening in your relationship. Does there appear to be a similarity between your childhood experiences and your choices as an adult?

10. Focus on your needs instead of controlling others. Once your needs get attention your feelings will change and you’ll discover you no long need others to make you feel good or secure

11. Find out what brings you peace and serenity then practice that task. You can practice meditating or some exercises that will connect you to your core and the greater universe

12. If you are not in a relationship right now, consider getting professional help with your self evaluation before you begin your search again. If you are in a relationship, unless you are being abused, don’t make any decisions or demands until you look at yourself honestly.

13. Live your life with consciousness. Be aware of relationship games and traps that can get you “hooked” like trying to “rescue” (helper) someone even when they are capable of handling their problems, prosecutor (blamer) who says someone’s a bad person or is a cheater etc. and “victim” who acts helpless even when they can find ways to address their problem

14. Make a plan and follow through on a daily basis. You will be lonely, sad and frustrated at times but in the end you will have the most valuable gift of all. You will know and love yourself. Only then can you choose well and have the real, albeit imperfect relationship you deserve.

15. Seek support from friends/family who understand what you are trying to change

16. Share this knowledge and what you have experienced and learned from reading this blog with others

17. Consider getting professional help.

18. As an act of love that will last a life time, accept yourself and the one you love AS IS. It may not come with a big red bow but it is one thing you can be sure everyone wants.

How can you tell someone is addicted and needs help

It would be a useful skill if people surrounding a love addict or love avoidant could recognise the symptoms well enough that they could suggest they receive help for their problem or offer them support. This is a list of common characteristics found in people who suffer from addiction put together by Steve Arterburn.

- Early deprivation – relationship addicts were often rejected or abandoned in childhood and may well have been the victims of physical or psychological abuse

- Feeling unloved or rejected by the world – viewing life through the lens of their own painful experience, addicts assume dysfunction is normal

- Insecure – addicts are full of dear and doubt, overwhelmed by the stresses of daily living, the only way they see to survive is to attach themselves to someone else

- Attempt to earn love – relationship addictions become perfectionists toward themselves, setting standards they can never hope to attain. They believe they have to be “good enough” to be loved by another

- Attempt to fix others – relationship addicts try to repeatedly fix others, usually people who do not want to be fixed but the drive to save someone causes the addict to hang onto a relationship long after others would have left

- Attracted to very needy people – anyone with an obvious need or deficiency becomes a magnet: the needier they are, the less likely they will be to walk away and the more likely they need fixing

- Attracted to abusive or emotionally distant people – addicts are often attracted to people cut from the same mold as their own parents, often in an attempt to symbolically win the parent’s favour and love. By the same token, addicts are often uncomfortable around healthy people who might be strong enough to live without them.

- Move quickly from attraction to attachment – addicts “latch on” to someone with remarkable speed, in hopes of cementing a relationship

-  The main goal of the relationship is to keep it going. It may be a disastrous and destructive relationship, but it seems better to addicts than no relationship at all. As long as it is still alive, there remains hope that it may improve.

-  A striking absence of whole, healthy people in their lives. The roster of past relationships and acquaintances is filled almost exclusively with damaged and needy people, in contrast to whom the addict can appear healthy and normal.

-  Walking on eggshells. Relationship addicts are afraid of rocking the boat. They are excruciatingly cautious about everything they do, in an effort to avoid the wrath of others.

-  Appear to be meeting others’ needs first. But in fact, everything addicts do, even the things that look the most sacrificial, are done to meet their own need to be loved and needed. They appear unselfish, but are in fact willing to let another person spend a lifetime in distress if it guarantees their role as “fixer.”

-  Failure to recognize their own needs. Relationship addicts are unable to see the selfishness of their own motives. They may believe they need to be more assertive, when in fact what they need is to resolve their own selfish need to be needed.

-  Outbursts of rage. Relationship addicts try to keep their anger bottled up. But they cannot do so forever. Sooner or later their pent-up anger explodes. Such outbursts are followed by periods of deep remorse and attempts to make things right again – to forestall the dreaded abandonment.

-  Never ask for help. Rather than seek help, addicts prefer to battle their problems alone. They cannot risk being found out – allowing someone else to discern the true nature and extent of their problems.

-  Discomfort at having others do things for them. This only causes the addict more guilt, and greater fear of not “measuring up.”

-  No hope of ever finding a truly loving relationship. Early childhood experience has convinced them that it will never happen.

-  Inordinate patience. Addicts astonish their friends by their ability to “hang in” for years without the faintest glimmer of hope for change in their destructive relationship.

-  Euphoria at the start of any new relationship. Relationship addicts constantly assure themselves and others that this time is going to be different. Overblown hopes and expectations are attached to each new prospect.

-  Feeling responsible for all problems. Addicts assess everything that happens in terms of their own efforts. If anything goes wrong, it must have been their fault.

-  Defensive about everything. Addicts place so much performance pressure on themselves that they are resentful of perceived attempts to add more.

-  Feelings of inadequacy. Relationship addicts never look right, weigh the right amount, or say the right things. They find it impossible to live up to their own expectations.

-  Alienated from others. Addicts feel like outcasts – as if everyone else but them has been given the manual on how to make human life work.

-  Starved for affirmation. Addicts draw what little self-esteem they have from the sense that they are trying hard and doing a good job. They feast on others’ comments about how loyal and patient they are.

-  Sex is despised. Sex is only a means to an end, not a source of joy and pleasure in its own right. It is to be endured, never enjoyed, if that is the price to maintain the relationship.

-  Control is a virtue. Addicts will seek out needy people whom they are able to manipulate and dominate. They may appear to be subservient to a domineering spouse. In reality, however, it is they who have the upper hand.

-  Never-ending search for happiness. Relationship addicts are martyrs. They so accustom themselves to the apparently hopeless pursuit of happiness that they actually resist finding it.

-  Masters of manipulation. Addicts will invest extraordinary amounts of time and energy determining what patterns of behaviour will produce the desired effects in other people. They learn how to elicit attention, how to elicit affection, even how to elicit anger.

-  Frequently depressed. Because of their past rejection and abandonment, relationship addicts have few emotional resources to draw on in times of stress. Instead, they simply shut down.

-  Multiple compulsive behaviours. The emotional turmoil that accompanies relationship addiction cannot lie dormant. Frequently it finds expression in other problems, such as compulsive overeating, spending, or gambling. These compulsive behaviour patterns become increasingly intertwined.

-  Self-doubt. Relationship addicts are plagued by insecurity and are never sure of themselves. They constantly vacillate in even the most routine decisions.

-  See themselves and others as victims. If their partner is a sex addict, it is because others have deviously seduced him. If he is an alcoholic, it is because of the stress others have placed him under.

-  Life is an act of compensation. Relationship addicts try to compensate for what they did not have as a child by manipulating others to get what they want. They compensate for weakness by acting strong. They compensate for selfishness by creating the appearance of selflessness.

-  Mind-reading. Since the way to find acceptance is to please others and meet their expectations, addicts engage in a never-ending mind game: What does someone else really want? To come right out and ask would be to tip their hand.

-  Anger over unmet needs. Addicts never express their own needs. Indeed, they may be largely unaware of them. But they go through life with a vague sense of being “ripped off.”

This research comes from multiple sources including:

http://www.growthtrac.com/relationship-addict/#.UprpmSf4Igo

http://www.cbn.com/family/datingsingles/newlife_loveaddiction.aspx

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/healthy-connections/201012/how-break-the-pattern-love-addiction

http://edition.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/personal/10/09/end.relationship/

http://drjanicecaudill.com/love-addiction.html

http://applyingatonement.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/more-on-love-avoidance.html

The Lovely Addict posted an 0utstanding post that you can actually find here to help you on the way to a speedy recovery from love addiction. It will be hard, but it will also be worth it. Follow the blog written by The Lovely Addict for more information about love addiction and recovery.

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