The Art of Decision Making: Tips on Making Decisions You Can Live With

Path Through the Trees








The Art of Decision Making: Tips on Making Decisions You Can Live With

Making decisions in our lives–whether it’s what to eat for lunch or where to find your next job– can seem overwhelming. Each decision carries with it a result and a chain of events that may dictate the course of our lives.

For those of us who consider every decision as life or death, day-to-day decisionscan seem impossible!

To help you discover the finer points of decision-making, here are some valuable tips on how you can make decisions that you can live with every day:

  1. Map out your decision. Start by evaluating the decision to be made. What are the details? By mapping out exactly what your decision will entail as far as consequencesand results, you’ll be on your way to making an informed decision that you can live with.
  1. Weigh pros and cons. This process is tried and true. Make a list and evaluate the pros in one column against the cons in another. Include short and long term consequences as well as positives and negatives.

Seeing the pros and cons before you on paper will make the matter at hand seem all the more evident as far as how you should make your decision. In your evaluation, give more weight to the pros and cons that carry more weight in your life.

  • The quantity of pros or cons does not equal the quality.

For example, if one of your main priorities in life is to make more money, listing “make more money” on your pros column should count for more than one of the cons in the other column.

  1. Become informed. Find out all of the related information you need to make your decision. Being better informed through research or talking to others will help you make a decision you can live with.
  1. Consider your motives. While evaluating your list of pros and cons, consider what motives may be contributing to the points you added in both columns. Revise or weigh accordingly. For example, can the con on your list be attributed to your lifelong fear or is it merely situational?
  • In the case offears, perhaps facing your fears should be part of the decision.Facing the fear may be a pro as opposed to the fear being a con.
  1. Give yourself a deadline.When faced with an important decision, we tend to delay making the ultimate choice. By giving yourself a deadline, you will have no other choice than to decide one way or another.
  1. Look at the decision as part of the bigger picture. Is this a small or large decision in the course of your life? Decide which and evaluate accordingly. If it’s small, perhaps you’re spending too much time and consideration on it. If it’s larger, how will it fit in with the rest of your life goals?
  • By examining the decision for what it is in the short and long-term, youwill better understand how the decision affects the bigger picture.
  1. Recognize the relativity. Many tough decisions can carry with them irrevocable consequences, but more often than not, there is always more time and more opportunity to make the decision again. Worrying needlessly about one decision is futile.
  • Most decisions only determine your short-term circumstances in the relative present. In most cases your decision can be altered in the future when circumstances are different or you’re in a different stage of your life.

Following these tips can transform decision-making from a stressful process into a process that gives you more confidence and control in your life.

Embrace decisions as the good thing that it is, and the result will be a happier, more confident you!

Eight Ways to Give Your Self-Confidence a Boost

Heart Stone








Eight Ways to Give Your Self-Confidence a Boost

Are you suffering from low self-esteem? Do you feel powerless to change yourself into the confident person you deserve to be?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, the good news is that strengthening your self-confidence is atask you really can accomplish with a little know-how and some easy strategies to show you the way. As you’ll soon find out, some of these strategies are even fun!

Although your metamorphosis may not happen overnight, if you apply these strategies consistently, you’ll be able to build up your self-confidence a little more each day. Make it a point to implement at least one confidence-boosting techniqueevery day.

Soon, these techniques will become habits, and your spirits will soar as your self-confidence rises to new heights.

Use these effective strategies to give your self-confidence a boost:

  1. Have realistic expectations. Even though it’s important to aim high in life, if your expectations are totally unrealistic, you’ll never know what it feels like to reach your goals. However, when you routinely succeed with realistic goals, it brings you great confidence.
  • Tweak your expectations until you find a sweet spot where you’re still pushing yourself, but you’re also able to achieve. Once you know what it feels like to accomplish your goals, you’ll feel more confident that you can achieve whatever you set out to do.
  1. Surround yourself with positive people. They have a contagious, positive energy that lifts you up and encourages you, while negative people tend to bring you down and destroy your confidence. Build up your confidence by hanging around with positive people who make you feel good!
  1. Develop your skills and talents. Perhaps your self-confidence suffers because you feel unsure about your abilities. Everyone, including you, has certain skills and talents that showcase the things they do well. Keep developing these talents and you’ll find that your self-confidence will grow as you excel in these areas.
  1. Stick up for yourself. When others speak out against you, remember that those words are simply their opinion. Your opinion is just as important. When you do what you know is right for you, feel confident that you’ve made the right decision, regardless of how others may feel.
  1. Exercise or engage in physical games. Physical activities and exercise can calm you down and provide many benefits to your mind and body. When you engage in regular exercise, you feel more upbeat, which in turn makes you feel better about yourself as well.
  1. Reward yourself when you achieve. When you’ve accomplished something in your life, whether big or small, it’s important to pause and reward yourself. If you go out of your way to make yourself happy, you’ll feed your drive to persevere and succeed.
  1. Use positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are a great way to boost self-confidence. They allow you to communicate with your subconscious mind, strengthening your confidence one thought at a time. Check out your local bookstore or online for some effective confidence-building affirmations.
  1. Avoid dwelling on the past. If you keep your past self-confidence issues in mind, it will be more difficult for you to get over them. Your past certainly doesn’t have to be your future. Focus on the present moment, with pleasant thoughts about your future. Picture everything going well.

You’ll soon find that there are endless ways to boost your self-confidence. And remember: If there’s something you want to pursue in life, go after it with all your heart and feel confident that success will be yours!

Keeping Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

Stone in Sand








Keeping Healthy Boundaries in Relationships

It’s important to implement and maintain healthy boundaries in your relationships. Think of boundaries as invisible lines you draw around your feelings, wants, and needs in a relationship. Those limits delineate where your feelings and emotions end and your friend’s or partner’s feelings begin.

Healthy boundaries ensure that each of you are equally entitled to experience and express your own feelings in the relationship. When good boundaries exist, there’s no fear of reprisal in openly and honestly expressing genuine feelings to the other. Regardless of the nature of the relationship-friendship or love-keeping healthy boundaries can only deepen the connection between people.

Case Scenario: An Illustration of How Boundaries Develop in a New Relationship

Tina is newly single and had a date last week with Chris. She enjoyed his company. Chris said he’d call Tina in a week. The week went by with no call.

A few days later, there’s a knock at Tina’s door. It’s Chris. He wants to come in. Tina detects a light odor of alcohol, which only multiplies the discomfort she feels about his surprise visit.

Tina doesn’t know Chrisvery well and would prefer he not come in. What does Tina do? What would you do?

A. She lets him in.

B. She hesitates at first, but he convinces her to let him come in.

C. Tina tells him a “story” about how herparents are expecting her any minute and she has to leave now. Therefore, he can’t come in, so he leaves abruptly.

D. She informs him that she’s uncomfortable with his unannounced visit and isn’t going to let him in. Tina uses a non-threatening tone and tells him she hopes he understands. He’s disappointed but agrees to leave and says he’ll call Tina tomorrow.

Choice Discussion

Choice A doesn’t demonstrate healthy boundaries. Why? Because Tina felt uncomfortable and her preference was that Chris not come in. However, Tina ignored her feelings and accepted what Chris wanted instead.

Choice B alsoillustrates less-than-healthy boundaries. With B, Tina’s in about the same situation as A. In essence, Tinanoticedher own feelings (represented by her brief hesitance). Ultimately, she didn’t make her decision based on them. Instead, she allowed another person – Chris- to “step on” her boundary and convince her to behave as he wanted.

Choosing C showsTina was at least able to respect her own feelings of not wanting Chris to enter her home. Tina’s boundaries could be stronger but at least, she ultimately didn’t let him in.

Choice D demonstrates firm and healthy boundaries.Tina was open and honest about how she felt and confident about her feelings and decision not to invite Chris inside.

Case Analysis

This example illustrates what can happen at the beginning of a relationship if poor boundaries exist. Choices A or B early on set an unclear boundary and thus adversely affect the life of the relationship if not addressed. In essence, how you demonstrate (or don’t demonstrate) your emotional boundaries will determine if and how a relationship progresses.

On the other hand, responding with Choices C or D shows healthier boundaries. Those choices show you acknowledge and act on your own feelings, even though doing so could make the other person a little uncomfortable or even angry. When you validate your own feelings and the other’s as well, you can experience an honest, respectful relationship.

Examine Boundaries in Your Relationships

Take a moment to think about boundaries you have in your relationships. Do you tend to ignore your own feelings and go along with whatever the other person wants? Can you speak up about your feelings? Do you appropriately state when something will not “work” for you? Do you ask for what you need in a relationship and obey your own internal limits?

Keeping healthy boundaries in relationships is a positive step toward discovering the fulfilling relationships you want.Focus on making choices in relationships based on your genuine feelings. Doing so will bring you the passionate, sharing and caring relationships you seek.

What is Co-Dependence and How Can It Stifle You?

Footprints in the Sand









Everyone has likely heard the term co-dependence. But what does it really mean? When you get into a relationship, chances are you depend on your partner for certain things. This is to be expected and it’s part of the trust you build. However, you don’t want to lose your independence completely.

What Is Co-Dependence?

Co-dependency is a learned behavior that’s usually passed down from other family members. It is often described as losing yourself in your relationship. If you’re co-dependent you’d likely cover up the actions of others for relief in the short term, even if it’s a bad move in the long term.

Co-dependent people often don’t listen to their true selves and end up covering up negative emotions with destructive actions. They are more likely to develop problems with alcohol, drugs, food, sex, and more.

Are You Co-Dependent?

You might wonder if you just have a co-dependent tendency every once in awhile, or if you’re completely co-dependent all the time. In order to figure out whether you’re co-dependent or not, it might help to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you find it hard to adapt to change?
  • Are you worried about the opinions of others including close family members?
  • Do you tend to avoid an argument at all costs?
  • Do you make excuses for loved ones?
  • Do you feel lonely or ignored when your loved ones spend time with others?
  • Do you find it hard to express yourself?
  • Do you have trouble telling others “no”?
  • Do you often feel ashamed about your inner feelings?

While your answer can be yes to one or a few of these questions without being co-dependent, you should now have a better idea about how a co-dependent person feels. Deep down you likely know whether or not you have a true problem with co-dependence. If you do, it’s in your best interest to seek out professional help. There are counselors available that are specially trained in the area of co-dependency.

How Co-Dependence Affects Your Life

Co-dependence can affect your life greatly and affect your partner and others around you. Of course the affects will be of varying degrees.

Let’s say your partner battles a common, yet debilitating problem such as alcoholism. When they have a slip up, your co-dependent nature may wish to just cover up the slip up and just hope it’s a one-time deal. You’d make decisions like lying to others about whether or not it happened, helping your partner sober up quickly, or calling into work for your partner and claiming that they’re just sick.

You can now see how this decision just makes things “better” in the short run. It’s the easy way out and your partner won’t have to face anything difficult. They’ll be happier in the moment because you’re not causing them any immediate stress.

However, in the long run the problem is just going to continue and snowball. While it may not be the popular decision, you’ll need to learn how to stand up to your partner and strive for what you believe is right deep down.

Become More Independent

There are ways you can learn to be more independent. In the above example, you’ll know that you need to have the difficult conversations with your partner. You need to help them decide that they need to get over their problem once and for all.

You then need to decide that you’re going to concentrate on yourself. You need to know that your relationship with your partner is not all about them and their own problems. It’s about you, too.

Take the time to think about your long-term goals and what makes you happy.Remember that you must be able to stand on your own two-feet without shame, guilt, fear, or worry!

How to Banish Negative Thoughts

Who doesn’t have negative thoughts now and then? But what if you had a negative thought which was pervasive and constant? Would you know how to get rid of it? Fortunately, there are many methods available to get rid of incessant negative chatter in our heads.

Here is an effective step-by-step process that will work if you use it regularly. As our ongoing example in this process, we’ll use the negative thought, “I’m too dumb to do anything right.”

  1. Turn the thought into a mental image. Imagine looking and acting completely silly. Create the most exaggerated image of yourself you can. Start by envisioning yourself in ridiculous clothes that don’t match.
  • Maybe you’re also banging your head against the wall or doing other foolish things. You could also be shouting silly phrases that don’t make any sense. The image should be clearly visible on your mental screen. Include sounds, smells, and physical sensations as well. Keep at this until the original thought brings up this new image.
  1. Choose an alternative thought. For our example, a good replacement thought would be, “I’m so intelligent I can do anything.” Choose something that is the opposite of the original negative thought. Select a phrase that feels right to you, through your whole body.
  1. Turn the new, positive thought into a mental image. You might imagine yourself dressed like Albert Einstein, shouting, “I’m brilliant. I can do anything.” Again, make the image outrageous. Keep at it until the positive thought automatically brings up that image.
  1. Link the two images together. Now, imagine a way to get from your negative image to your positive image. This is almost like you’re the director of a movie; you want to find a way to connect the opening and the closing scenes.
  • Perhaps in the first scene, you could imagine the image of the “dumb” version of yourself being struck by lightning and catching on fire. Then the new, Albert Einstein version of you rises from the ashes and goes into his “I’m brilliant. I can do anything” routine.
  • Keep practicing until you run the entire scene in your mind quickly, with no hitches. This should take fewer than 2 seconds from start to finish.
  1. Test out your new mental connections. When you think the original negative thought, the entire scene should flash through your mind. Your mental process should end with the moment where you’re thinking, “I’m so brilliant. I can do anything.” If you’re not there yet, repeat Step 4 until you are. Although this may seem silly to you, this is a common mnemonic technique. The imagery must be outrageous. This makes your memory’s work much easier.

Also, play around with the perspective. Most people find it helpful to view everything in the third person, as if they were spectators watching themselves in a movie. But you may prefer imagining things from a first-person perspective, in which everything happens to you, as it would in everyday life. Try both perspectives to determine which works better for you.

If you systematically deal with all your negative thoughts, you’ll eventually find that you have very few left. Imagine how your life could change! What might you do that you’ve always been too afraid to try? Now you’ll have the courage to do just that. Powered by TCPDF (

Texting and Relationships: Good, Bad, or In Between?

Even in our closest relationships, we’re often likely to talk by text rather than face to face these days. A recent study of these short messages shows their impact on how we communicate with the people we care about most. Researchers at Brigham Young University surveyed couples in committed relationships. They discovered that some things are better off being discussed in person.

The major findings included men reporting less relationship satisfaction due to excessive texting. For women, dissatisfaction arose when text was used to apologize or manage complex relationship issues and differences.

The good news is that everyone liked sharing endearments by text. If you want your texts to reduce stress and bring you closer together with your loved ones, try these mobile communication tips.

Steps to Take with Your Loved Ones:

  1. Be gentle. It can be tempting to say things by text that you would soften if you were talking to someone in the same room. Imagine how you would feel if you were on the receiving end.
  1. Address conflicts directly. Using text to avoid an argument tends to backfire. Discussing sensitive issues works better when you can see each other and respond accordingly. If your partner already looks remorseful about forgetting your anniversary, you’ll know it’s time to drop the subject.
  1. Apologize in person. Asking for forgiveness becomes more meaningful when you make a personal appearance. You’ll also be in a better position to prevent any further misunderstandings.
  1. Listen to each other. Give each other your full attention. Watch for facial expressions, body language and other non-verbal cues.
  1. Put your phone away. Except for emergencies, set your phone aside when you have company. Focus on the people around you.
  1. Ask for a recess. It’s easy for a conversation to escalate when you’re texting back and forth. If things are getting too heated, suggest tabling the subject until you can get together later.

Steps to Take Yourself:

  1. Count your texts. Other studies suggest that frequent texting causes stress. Try to limit yourself to 50 texts or fewer each day.
  1. Set a curfew. Late night texting can interfere with your rest and peace of mind. Plus, the lighted screen makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
  1. Slow down. Many people feel pressured to reply immediately to every message. Give yourself time to think before writing back. Schedule a few times a day to check messages instead of constantly having one eye on your phone.
  1. Clarify your language. Text is better suited to simple updates like what time to meet up for lunch. If you need to talk about something more complex, read it over to check for any wording that could cause confusion.
  1. Express your love. Everyone is a winner when you share your affection. The BYU study found that the people sending loving messages reported being even happier than the partner who received them.
  1. Send a letter. When you have something special to say, an old fashioned letter may spread more joy than any text. Surprise your parents with a greeting card or slip a love note into your spouse’s pocket.
  1. Hit delete. Holding onto electronic messages from your insurance company may come in handy in a dispute. When you’re texting with your loved ones, it’s better to let go of resentments than to archive them.

Overall, texting is great when you want to say something nice to each other. On the other hand, wait until you’re face to face to talk about the serious stuff. Look at texting as a supplement to talking rather than a replacement.

How to Become More Compassionate

Compassion brings both short and long-term happiness. Showing compassion not only
allows you to feel better, but it helps those around you to feel better, too. Since we all
want to be happy, showing compassion can be a common goal for everyone.
Cultivating compassion is a worthwhile goal. It’s a significant part of being human
and can make you more grateful for the many good things you already have in your

How can we be more compassionate?

1. Have good intentions. Each day, simply have the intention of being
compassionate and showing compassion to everyone you encounter. Make it a
part of your morning ritual to remind yourself to be compassionate.

Before you go to sleep at night, reflect on how you were compassionate or
failed to show compassion that day. Remind yourself again to be
compassionate the next day.

2. Focus on the similarities you share with others. Human brains are great at
spotting differences. However, we have to make a conscious effort to spot the

When you find yourself feeling less than happy with someone, try to list as
many things as you can that you share in common.

Remember that all humans are similar in the ways that matter. For
example, we all need love, attention, happiness, affection, food, and

3. Be empathetic. With everything happening in our lives, it’s easy to focus on
ourselves and ignore the plight of others. Consider the similarities that others
share with your loved ones. Now imagine your loved one is suffering.

If you can see another person as being similar to your loved one, it will
become easy to be sensitive to their suffering.

Keep in mind that another person is someone else’s loved one.
How would you want your loved one to be treated during a challenging

4. Be compassionate with yourself. You might have noticed that the least
compassionate people are those that are the hardest on themselves. If you
won’t give yourself a break when you need it, you’re less likely to do it for
someone else.

Appreciate yourself and the challenges that you’ve experienced in your
own life. You’ll become more capable of doing the same for others, too.
Recognize that time you spend on yourself is time well spent. Refrain from
viewing it as an act of selfishness. You’re just as important as anyone else.
Let go of needing to be perfect. Nobody’s perfect, so it’s a game that can’t
be won. If you’ll stop demanding perfection of yourself, you’ll stop requiring
others to be perfect, too.

5. Be fully present with others. The ultimate kindness is to be 100% present with
someone. It’s also a great time to practice being mindful. Be supportive and a
good listener without thinking any stray thoughts.

It’s not always easy to stay in the moment when someone is hurting, but
you’ll be a better person for it.

6. Remember the times that others have been kind to you. Perhaps you can do
the same favor for someone else.

7. Remember the times that others have been unkind to you. Perhaps you can
spare someone else from feeling the same pain.

Being compassionate is really a gift you give to yourself. When you’re kinder to others,
you learn to be kinder to yourself. You also encourage others to take an interest in
your life and to direct compassion back in your direction.

How To Ask For What You Want…And Get It…

If you are like many of the clients I work with in my 1:1 coaching sessions, asking for what you want is a challenge and often right up there on your list with going to the dentist.  In other words, you know you really need to…you just don’t WANT to. 
Well, here are seven sure fire action steps you can take that will make it easier to ask for what you want AND get it.
A quick way to remember these skills is by using the acronym DEAR MAN. 
It stands for:
 Mindful (stay mindful)
 Appear Confident
To make this more clear, let’s go through each skill one-by-one.
Describe the current situation (if necessary).  It’s important to stick to facts, of course, but you need to tell the person exactly what you need and what you’re reacting to.
Express ‘your FEELINGS and OPINIONS about the situation.  It’s important you don’t assume that your feelings and opinions are already clear.  Use phrases such as “I want” or “I don’t want” instead of phrases like “I need” or “you should” or “I can’t.”
Assert yourself by ASKING for what you want or SAYING NO clearly.  It’s crucial that you don’t assume people can read your mind.  Assume that others will not figure it out unless you clearly ask.  And, don’t expect others to know how hard it is for you to ask directly for what you want.
Reinforce or reward the person ahead of time by explaining CONSEQUENCES.  Tell the person the positive effects of getting what you want or need. Tell him or her (if necessary) the negative effects of your not getting it. Help the person feel good ahead of time for doing or accepting what you want. Reward him or her afterwards.
Mindful (stay mindful)
Keep your focus ON YOUR OBJECTIVES. 
Maintain your position and don’t be distracted.
You may have to employ the “broken record” concept of repeatedly asking, saying no, or expressing your opinion over and over. 
You may also have to ignore the other person if they attack, threaten you, or attempt to change the subject, ignore facts, or try to divert you.  Ignore distractions and just keep making your point.
Appear Confident
Appear effective and competent.  Use a confident voice tone and physical manner.  Make good eye contact. Don’t stammer, whisper, stare at the floor, retreat, or say things like “I’m not sure;’ etc.
Be willing to “GIVE TO GET.” 
This can take many forms, and books have been written on this topic alone. 
However, here are some concepts and strategies you can employ.

  • You can offer or ask for alternate solutions to the problem.
  • You can reduce your request.
  • You can maintain a position of “no” but offer to do something else or solve the problem another way.
  • You can turn the tables by turning the problem over to the other person.  For example, try phrases like “what do you think we should do?” or “I’m not able to say yes, and you seem to really want me to, so what can we do here” or “how can we solve this problem?”

So, in conclusion, if you keep the acronym “DEAR MAN” in mind, you will be more likely to get what you want when you ask for it. 

To help you remember this technique, we created a freebie.  Simply enter your name and email to the right.

5 Tips To Help You Create a More Loving and Happier Family Life

What does it take to have a more loving family dynamic?

  1. 140207-family-group2Focus more on what everyone does right. Instead of focusing on what displeases you, focus more on what you love. Your spouse and children love praise more than they love criticism. So, start looking for all the things that make you happy and focus on the positive. You might even get more of it.
  2. Practice forgiveness. We all argue and have disagreements. We all have bad days and can irritate each other. The key is to ask for forgiveness and easily forgive our family members when they hurt our feelings. Holding grudges will steal your joy and happiness. Conflict is a part of life and we learn to forgive quickly if we practice forgiveness.
  3. Hug several times a day. Make hugging a big part of your family routine. Hug when you wake up, before you leave the house, when you come home and before you go to bed. Hugging is shown to reduce stress and actually make you happier. So, make hugging a big part of your daily routine even if you have teenagers.
  4. Connect and schedule quality time. Most of us are very busy and have a lot of responsibilities. It’s not always the amount of time we spend with our loved ones, but it’s the quality. Most of us are physically with our family, but we are not ‘really’ with our family. The key is to give your undivided attention to your family when you are with them. This makes them feel important and that is what most of us want to feel…IMPORTANT.
  5. Find ways to LAUGH together. The family that laughs together stays together. Find ways to loosen up and have fun. Each day find ways to connect and laugh over funny stories from the day, a joke, a little goofy or silly time or even watching a funny comedy together. Laughter is still the best medicine and can do wonders for creating a loving and happier family.
Today life can feel so overwhelming and sometimes we just have to take a step back and remember what is most important.

Your Weekly Meditation: Emotions Are Friendly Messengers

Emotions are friendly messengers.

In the same way that you might feel overwhelmed by the sight of a tidal wave coming toward you, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the experience of your own intense emotions welling up within you – or the strong emotions of others headed in your direction. Emotions are not the enemy. They also do not necessarily belong to you. Sometimes you may be tuning in to the elevated emotions of peers, supervisors, or loved ones. Other times the emotions may belong to you, but their intensity may relate not just to one specific situation, but to one or more unresolved experiences you have had over time. In any case, emotions are not your enemy. They are friendly messengers letting you know that your own attention is needed.

This week I resolve to: Welcome whatever emotions may come – and become willing to examine each in their turn, accepting and processing the ones that belong to me, and returning the ones that don’t, back to their rightful owners.