Trouble Sleeping

Having trouble sleeping? Nothing can be more frustrating than being tired and wanting to sleep, but instead being wide awake, aware that the hours are ticking away.
Sometimes sleep is difficult because of health conditions, a noisy or restless partner, or a fussing baby. These things are beyond your control, and you have to make the best accommodations that you can in your situation. Perhaps even more frustrating is the absence of external distractions, but instead an internal chatter that we just cannot seem to control.
You tell yourself to just relax and get some sleep. You empty your mind, prepared to slip into dreamland. Then it starts. Your mind starts working on problems or creating new ones. It is like a twenty-four hour movie is playing in your head. You slip out of the theater of your mind once in a while to look at the clock, becoming increasingly anxious as the available hours for sleep dwindle away.
Why does this happen? There are many reasons, including genuine worries or ongoing life difficulties, or too much coffee during the day. Most often though, it is because we do not know how to slow down our minds.
Imagine that you have just run a mile or two uphill. Your heart rate will rise, and it will take some time for it to return to its normal resting rate. If, throughout the day, your mind is running a mile a minute, it is highly stimulated and is not going to settle down just because you lie down. Some people “unwind” in front of the television. While that may be relaxing for the body, even the most mindless program is stimulating brain cells, though not necessarily the thinking ones. The number of changing images, colors and sounds in a one hour program is a lot of sensory input.
What is helpful is to take some time for real relaxation before going to bed. This might be a nice warm bath, listening to soft music, or just sitting in quiet contemplation or even watching the stars. What is essential is that you do not think about the things you were thinking about all day, or what will be happening the next day. It can also be helpful to cultivate a quiet mind throughout the day. Take five minutes of every hour and sit still, clear your mind, and breathe deeply.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit http://www.gwen.ca

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When We Are Upset

Gwen Randall-Young

We have all had the experience of being so upset with a partner or child that regardless of how much love we have for the person, at that moment it is hard to like them. It can be an almost frightening feeling to wonder if you even like your spouse or your child. You do not want to feel that way, but it can be hard to shift the energy.

What is happening here is that our attention has become focused on a characteristic or behavior in that person that we do not like. The more we think about it, the more magnified that undesirable part becomes. Further, it may remind us of someone in our past, or even more disturbing, of some part of ourselves we do not like (although the latter may be unconscious). The result is that we begin to distance from the person, and perhaps even become angry because they are not fitting with the image of who we want them to be.

At this time, however, we are not seeing who they really are. Instead, we are viewing a negative characteristic (or one we dislike) under the magnifying glass of our own emotional reactions, and projecting that onto them as though is the totality of their being. No wonder we become stressed and unhappy! We can shift our perceptions, and when we do, our feelings will shift accordingly.

Take the example of a child with whom you have been completely exasperated Finally you get the child to bed, and have a little time to yourself, to relax and calm down. Later on you peek in on the sleeping child, who now looks like a complete angel, and you forget the frustrations of the day as your heart overflows with love. It is the same child, but we are seeing the innocence as opposed to the frustrating behavior.

A similar strategy can be used to move back into a place of love even in the midst of conflict or struggle. Instead of playing over and over in our minds a litany of complaints about the one who is irritating us, we can remind ourselves of that individual’s good points. We may even have to take a time out, forcing ourselves to sit down and write at least ten things that we love and appreciate about the person. We may still be angry, but at least our thinking will be a little more balanced.

If we feel we have to work through our concerns with that individual, it can be very powerful to first share those positives with him or her. It can be devastating for anyone to think they are being defined in strictly negative terms. If we are upset with another, they too may forget that there are things we appreciate about them. Counting to ten slows down our reaction time, but may not change the reaction. Counting ten good things may transform not only the situation, but the relationship as well.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit http://www.gwen.ca

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist.  For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit http://www.gwen.ca

 

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Trying to Change a Partner

Most of us, unless we are staunchly independent, want to have a loving relationship with a partner. While relationships start out that way, sometimes things change over time, and the loving part gets lost amidst the demands of everyday living. As life becomes more complicated, and reality sets in, we may see aspects of our partner which are different from what we first imagined.

Further, as is the way of relationships, issues get triggered in both partners. One may take the lead, in order to get things done, and the other may interpret this as control, reminiscent of a domineering parent. Or one may become quite independent, triggering in the other memories of a parent who had no time for the children. Struggles may ensue, with each person trying to change the other into a closer representation of the perfect partner, or at least one who could fulfill his or her emotional needs.

With struggle comes pain, and an even deeper, perhaps desperate need to change the other person. It never works. When we try to change someone, they resist. The more we try, the more they resist, and the more the differences become entrenched.

So what is the solution? The solution is love. When we love and appreciate our partners, they relax into a more positive mode. We are all much more motivated to really listen to and accommodate someone who truly cares about and respects us. Real love is about continuing to be affectionate and supportive even in the face of differences.

Tearing down another person will begin to tear down the relationship. It is an uphill climb to rebuild trust after cruel, judgmental words are spoken. The natural response to such negativity is to pull back, and put less of oneself into the relationship. Love, acceptance and understanding, on the other hand, result in a heart opening, and a willingness to share and work together.

So it’s not surprising then, that the way to a more loving relationship is to be more loving ourselves.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist.  For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit http://www.gwen.ca

 

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Celebrating “I Love to Write (Marketing Stuff) Day”

As a marketing professional, I have to write constantly.  And, the type of writing that I do usually consists of email message creation.  Emails to current customers, emails to sales prospects, emails to friends of the company…emails, emails, emails.  And, all of those messages involve a degree of selling.  Only occasionally do I have the opportunity to step outside the world of business writing and when I do, it is uncomfortable.

I found “I Love to Write Day” while researching some blog topic ideas for this month.  Since the inception of “ILTWD” in 2002, nine states have officially recognized the day and 22,000 schools celebrate it.

The 9th annual celebration, according to “I Love to Write Day” founder John Riddle, “is to have people of all ages spend time writing. They can write a poem, a love letter, a greeting card, an essay, a short story, start a novel, finish a novel…the  possibilities are endless. But I want people to take the time to put their thoughts down on paper. When people become stronger writers, they become better communicators.”

As the daughter of a veteran newspaperman, I was taught the need for brevity, simplicity, and incorporating the basics of the “inverted pyramid” in story structure.  My father writes poems, song lyrics, plays, movie scripts, and short stories.  A more interesting writer than I, his rare email messages to me are brief, barely denting my inbox.

And, ILTWD made me realize the opportunities that we have to write more than email marketing messages about our products and services, to extend our capabilities beyond the mundane.  Today’s celebration of writing started me thinking about creating an email (yup, that’s what I am going to do!) in verse – something that would be a bit different than the norm.  And, it would help me to flex those creative brain cells.  I’m hoping that my dad will be proud of my effort.

Marketing Takeaways:

1. Consider doing something a little outside the norm for your standard business writing.

2. Find some content that appeals to your creativity (or your funnybone) and try to use it in your marketing messaging.

3. Encourage feedback from your message recipients with a contest or survey.

What are you going to do for “I Love to Write Day”?

P.S. If you don’t feel like writing, today is also “National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day”.

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Success

So often, when we hear that someone is very successful, the first thought that comes to mind is that they have done well financially. This says something about our culture: those with a lot of money, regardless of how they acquired it are considered successful, while those with little, regardless of how much talent or integrity they possess, are considered less successful.Something is wrong with this picture, and it may reflect a kind of immaturity in the Western psyche. Think of a small child who is asked which of two containers holds the most water. Although the amount in both containers is identical, the child will pick the container that is the tallest. Higher must mean more, is how the reasoning goes. As the child matures and learns a little more about volume, his judgements are more sophisticated.

Our culture may be at a more childlike stage, still believing more is better. This creates internal conflict as well as struggle in families, because what satisfies, nurtures and delights us are qualities unrelated to financial status. Feeling loved and loving, supported/supporting, respected/respectful, and united in a common purpose warms the heart and inspires the soul. These bring meaning to our lives. However, because we live in a culture that continues to honor material wealth, the majority of the population is continually trying to balance material success with mental/emotional/spiritual success. Lists are made of the wealthiest people in the world, but I have never heard of a list of the wisest people, the most compassionate people, or the most helpful.

My definition of success would be something like this: to have found out truly who you are, to be living a life in alignment with who you are, to have loving relationships with friends and family, to be doing something to make the world a better place, and to have peace of mind. With this kind of success, there would be no regrets at the end of life. Unfortunately, all too often this aspect of success is pushed into the background to be developed after fulfillment of material desires.

Ironically, if we did it the other way around, fulfilling our authentic selves first, we would see how elusive is the search for happiness when based on the material. Then we would have even more time to savor the deep, meaningful, human success, to which we all have equal access. Our lives would slow down, and instead of striving to get somewhere, we would realize that it is all right here, right now, just waiting to be enjoyed.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist.  For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit http://www.gwen.ca

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