Each individual is unique in the expression of their own character, yet all are alike in their imperfection! It's not a healthy thing to please others and neglect myself. I need ideas about how to just be my natural self, instead of what others want me to be.
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Entrée: On Forcing Horses to Drink and Train Wrecks by Lionel Fisher
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In a recent phone conversation with a friend, I was asked, “What is co-dependency anyway?” To my surprise, despite a lifelong struggle with this “psychological condition dependent on the needs of or control by another,” in the words of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, I was hard put to come up with a simple answer, maybe because it’s far from a simple subject, particularly to co-dependents. But thinking about it later, a couple of analogies came to mind.
Paraphrasing a mildewed maxim, leading a horse to water is kindness; forcing it to drink is cruelty. Or consider two trains heading toward each other on the same track. There's no problem if they meet halfway. If one, however, insists on going more than halfway, a predictable crash occurs. Either one is co-dependent enabling, as I see it. The horse dies or the inevitable collision happens -- again and again to the point of resentment, frustration and emotional carnage wreaked on both parties. In short, co-dependency is the obsessive, compulsive taking care of someone for his own good, even if it kills him.
Recovering co-dependents become acutely aware of the wisdom of meeting someone halfway and no further, of not taking care of others beyond the point of taking care of themselves. The best thing you can say to them, regardless of how you feel about what they’ve done for you and why is “Thank you!” Period! Roger! Over and out! Gratitude, simply expressed with no caveats attached, acknowledges a deed well done. Anything else turns the act from a kindness into a compulsion. So swallow the old, familiar refrains: “You didn’t really have to do that!” “Who asked you anyway?” “What business was it of yours?” Just say “Thank you!” and then put a sock in it.
Asking a question when it’s warranted is also an act of compassion and grace. Giving people permission to talk when they desperately have something to say is an enormous kindness, because you’ve been perceptive or caring or compassionate enough to perceive and acknowledge the urgent need. A cursory question such as, “Is there something bothering you?” or “Did you really mean to say that?” or “Why did you do it?” is enough to burst open the flood gates when pressure has reached Katrina level, which co-dependents are usually at. Not asking a question because you’re afraid you’ll get an answer forces the co-dependent to tell you anyway because he or she can’t help it. And your silence is selfish and mean-spirited, regardless of what you may think of yourself. If you don’t agree, ask a co-dependent.
As you were – that would be a question, wouldn’t it?
About the author:
Lionel Fisher is a former journalist, columnist, corporate communicator and advertising creative director who lived and worked in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Miami and Portland, Oregon, before becoming a beach hermit on Southwest Washington's Long Beach Peninsula. He is the author of “Celebrating Time Alone: Stories of Splendid Solitude” (Beyond Words Publishing, 2001), "On Your Own: A Guide to Working Happily, Productively and Successfully from Home" (Prentice Hall, 1995) and "The Craft of Corporate Journalism" (Nelson-Hall, 1992). In addition, Fisher writes several self-syndicated humor/lifestyle columns, including one on the art of being alone.
Main Course: Don't Be Afraid to Let Other People See Who You Really Are! by Royane Real
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Do you know anybody that you feel is particularly engaging and lively? Take a moment to picture that person in your mind. What is it about that person that you find most attractive? He or she may have a charming voice and a great laugh, but it is also very likely that you find their face very expressive. That person is probably quick to smile and laugh and seems to always have a twinkle in their eye.
A face that never shows any emotion, and never smiles is not very appealing. No matter how attractive or how plain a person's facial features may be, a great smile can make that person look beautiful to others. When you smile at other people, they will assume that you are in a good mood and that you are happy to see them. This will make other people more likely to want to spend time with you and to know you better.
Allowing our face to show emotions is actually an advantage in developing relationships. Other people are constantly trying to read and respond to our body language and facial expressions, often on a subconscious level. They are trying to sense whether we really care about them or not, whether we are concerned with what is going on in their lives.
If you are a person who is very emotionally sensitive, this sensitivity can be an asset in forming relationships. Use your sensitivity to show empathy for other people. Don’t suppress your emotions, trying to be “cool”. Don’t waste your sensitive nature being sensitive only to yourself and your own emotions. Imagine being in the shoes of the person you are talking with, and let yourself feel the sadness, happiness, excitement or pride that is present in the story they are telling you.
If we repress all our emotions from showing on our face, people will feel frustrated trying to get a sense of who we really are. When we let our emotions show up on our face, sharing in our conversation partner's joys and sorrows, worries and frustrations, as well as their hope and excitement, both of us feel less alone. Both people will feel more connected to each other.
Sometimes we worry about our facial expressions. We may sense that our smile looks forced, or makes us look nervous. We may worry that we don’t smile enough, or that we frown too much.
One way you can check on your facial expressions is to have yourself videotaped in conversation with another person. When you review the tape, does your smile looks forced, or natural? Do you look extremely serious? Are you able to portray a feeling of fun and light-heartedness?
If you are not able to analyze the tape effectively by yourself, have someone else you trust give you some feedback.
If you think your facial expressiveness could be improved, you can practice in front of a mirror. Watch your face as you imagine yourself feeling various positive and negative emotions. Imagine yourself hearing a very funny joke. Or winning the lottery. Or receiving a nice compliment. Meeting your neighbor. Getting a present. Having a secret.
Also imagine yourself experiencing negative situations and watch your facial expressions in the mirror. Exaggerate them. Switch back to imagining positive emotions. Are you normally this expressive? Do you let other people see the real you? Or do you try to hide yourself from everyone? Do you like the person you see in the mirror?
Your smiles and other facial expressions will be more natural and more appealing when you are relaxed, rather than tense. If you get nervous when you are talking with others, you may find it helpful to practice body relaxation techniques until you can easily relax at will. Consciously tell all the muscles in your body to relax, even if you have to give instructions mentally to each part of your body, one section at a time.
When you are with other people, let your mental focus be on enjoying the situation you are in, rather than imagining what others are thinking about you, or worrying what you will say next.
About the author:
Royane Real is the author of several excellent downloadable ebooks including "How to Be Smarter" and "Your Guide to Finding Friends, Making Friends and Keeping Friends" available at her website at http://www.royanereal.com.
Second Helping: How You Feel Is What We Get by Warren Redman
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How do we know anybody else? How does anybody else really know who you are? The truth is that we can only ever know what is in our own perception, so that I may see you through my own eyes differently from how someone else might see you.
There is another, very important factor in my understanding of you, however, which is how you present yourself according to how you feel. Since so much of what you communicate is through non-verbal means, what I naturally pick up (perhaps without even knowing how or why) is the way you show your emotional self. If you are feeling down, or confident, or scared or bored or excited, that’s exactly what I will get from you. And if your words don’t match what you are feeling, I may feel confused, or uncertain about you.
So you might as well be authentic. There's a powerful thought that might change relationships!
About the author:
Warren Redman has written fifteen books, including the award-winning The 9 Steps to Emotional Fitness. A psychotherapist, coach, and trainer for thirty years, he is President of the Centre for Inner Balancing in Calgary, Canada, where he lives with his wife Nicole. He has two daughters and two grandsons in England and New Zealand. To learn more about the Centre for Inner Balancing, visit innerbalancing.com.
Soup to Nuts: From the feedback button
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This week's newsletter is something of a “welcome back” issue. It has been some time since this publication has been on the streets, and if you wish, I can offer some reasonably lame excuses. I had been quite unhappy with Angelfire's hosting of the site, owing to the fact that if I didn't want my readers to be overwhelmed with pop-up advertising, I had to pay Angelfire for the hosting. Very few other benefits came with the Angelfire package.
Recently, the N-Spire domain registration came up for renewal. I wanted to stay with the original registrar, dotEarth, and so I asked them about hosting. Good news, it only costs twice as much per month, but the additional flexibility, dependability, and ease of use makes it all worth it. So, not a new look for the site, yet... but the possibilities are exciting. Look for great things to happen right here!
To those of you who recently joined this community, welcome. To all my "experienced" subscribers, welcome back. Tell your friends about Friday's Inspiration; visit the website often and watch for some exciting changes. A discussion message board will be up and running at the Friday's Inspiration website within the next week or two. I look forward to your participation, your comments and observations about what works, and what doesn't, in your life!
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Just Desserts: Also Highly Recommended
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