The dangers of procrastination and passive behavior

procrastination

I often hear people talk about their intentions, all the good things they would like to do, the services they would like to offer others, the amazing things they would like to build in their lives, etc. But… how often do they take concrete actions that reflect those intentions…?

I find that many people get stuck in the “intention phase” and never get pass that… Especially people who are passive or tend to procrastinate, they will fill their heads with all the great intentions they have and they would even manage to convince others around them, but… never follow through with them.

Unfortunately all your good intentions are totally worthless unless you take actions that reflect them.

There is no mystery, if you want to live your life fully, you cannot procrastinate on it, you cannot wait for things to happen to you, you cannot take a passive stand on your existence.

You have the chance to live by “design” as opposed to by “default,”  but it is ultimately up to you to take that chance, sadly, a lot of people decide not to.

If you want to live by design, to be the architect of your own life, to co-create with the Universe and all the other forces that are greater than you, you need to take action!

There is always a better time and space for an action, and sometimes it is wise to wait for the right time, but you cannot spend your life waiting, in fact, it is best to take action even if you fail, than to have never tried.

A total lack of action could be considered an act in and of itself, because there are clear consequences from it, but when you choose not to act, you are simply waiting for things to happen to you, and if you don’t like those things, you will always feel like a victim and blame others for what happens to you.

When you decide to act, you are creating momentum, you are moving forward, you are taking responsibility, so even if you fail in the action, you will not feel like a victim, you will not blame others; you will know that you tried and that knowledge will give you peace and strength to continue to move forward, to learn from your mistakes, and to try something else.

Sometimes, a lack of action is nothing but an inability to face one’s fears: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of change, etc.

Some people when faced with a problem for instance, decide to ignore it because they are scared of it, they don’t think they can solve it, so they simply pretend the problem isn’t there, or wait and hope for it to go away.

People manage to ignore problems by staying constantly distracted, taking their mind to a different place and numbing their feelings out, they use distractions such as: overworking, partying all the time, overeating, using and abusing alcohol, sex, and TV, etc.

But the truth is, they are only fooling themselves, by ignoring a problem it only grows bigger.

But, let alone problems and fears, some people still manage to procrastinate and not act even if fear isn’t involved, they somehow take the conscious or subconscious decision to sit and wait around. Some people fill their mouths with good intentions but when the opportunity to act on them comes along, they shy away from it.

In order to live fully, it is important to make decisions, no matter how hard they are, it is important to take risks, no matter if you fail, it is important to face your fears, even if it hurts, it is important to embrace the opportunities even if they are the wrong ones. It is important to act.

If you have the tendency to procrastinate or take a passive stand in life, think twice… this may be robbing you from having richer experiences and richer relationships.

And, if you have good intentions, especially towards others, make sure you act accordingly, make sure that your intentions become actions, make sure that when the opportunity to act comes along, you take it!

 

 

How to Communicate Hard Feelings Effectively

Our choice of words matter, and when it comes to close relationships, like our partners, our children, our parents, etc. it really truly matters a LOT!

communication

Today I would like to focus on the way we sometimes express our frustration, anger or disappointment to a loved one. First of all, it is totally normal to feel frustrated, angry or disappointed with the people we love, however, the way we express those feelings can be detrimental to our relationships or,  it can be constructive…

After many years of therapy, self-reflection, and serious work on becoming more conscious and mindful, I have found that there are ways to make our communication positively impact our relationships, but it takes some practice and awareness, for sure!

But, first things first, when we are hurt or angry, it is hard so see clearly and act mindfully, so the first thing to do is to take a little distance from our feelings and become more objective and more conscious.
Now, how exactly do we do that…. well, unless you have a well-established mindfulness or meditation practice, this doesn’t come very naturally for most people, so it is important to have some tools that can help us take that distance from our emotions (sometimes on the spot! before we jump at our loved ones with all our complaints and rage!)

I work with kids, and as a mom as well as a yoga teacher, I have found some techniques that are very helpful to calm down negative emotions, here are some tools that any adult can use and/or share with children in their lives:

1. Take 3 deep breaths before you react to whatever is making you angry
2. Go outside and take a brisk walk, run or kick a ball
3. Punch a pillow
4. Listen to music that you like or sing a song
5. Close your eyes and think of a calm place or pleasant thought or something funny
6. Draw a picture
7. Write down your feelings, or a letter to the person you are mad at (you don’t need to send it)
8. Talk to someone about your feelings (not the person you are mad at!)
9. Ask for a hug, make sure it lasts a few breaths! (Again, not to the person you are mad at!)

The first one is the fastest and most accessible one, for adults and children alike. As simple as it may seem, taking deep breaths is incredibly powerful, simply because when we breathe slowly we are counter-acting the “fight or flight” response that kicks in automatically when we feel threatened (in this case angry,) the brain gets the message to slow down and lower its guards, so we can see the situation for what it is and not for what our blurry vision – affected by our feelings – will make us see.

There is a difference between the reality and what you see as “the reality,” when emotions are involved. Knowing this, and accepting it, is the first step to becoming more conscious.

So, let’s say that you can efficiently distance yourself from the emotion (whether it is anger, frustration, sadness, etc.) so you are able to calm down on the spot, which doesn’t mean you don’t feel the emotion anymore, it simply means you are able to acknowledge it for what it is and take responsibility for it. This doesn’t mean you just ignore what the other person did or said, or the fact that you feel angry, but it is important to take responsibility for your feelings!

Nobody has the power to MAKE YOU feel this way or that, YOU are the only one with that power, in other words, what you feel is your responsibility alone, which in turn, does not mean that the other person has NO responsibility in the matter, they are responsible for their actions just as much as you are for your reactions… do you follow?

So, it is crucial that if you want the relationship to stay healthy and grow, you need to handle communication effectively. So now we come down to the choice of words.

See, once we have taken responsibility for our feelings, we don’t need to blame the other person, but we can, and should, point out the facts, and express our feelings in a way that does not trigger the other person’s defensiveness or other negative feelings.

If we communicate in a healthy way, it will be clear enough for the other person how we are feeling, and they will have the opportunity to take responsibility for their part, without becoming defensive.

Here is a simple everyday situation as an example of how communication can go wrong, or right depending on the words we use:

Case Study:

Husband and Wife are getting ready to leave the house for an invitation and they are running late, they only have one key to their car and they can’t find it! (The last person who drove the car was the husband). The wife is starting to feel angry at a familiar scenario, and she hates to be late!

Scenario #1:

Wife: “You have lost the key again! You always do this, why don’t you leave it in the key holder by the door, it isn’t hard, that is why there is a key holder there!!! Now we are going to be late!” (in an annoyed tone)

Notice the direct accusation and blaming: YOU have lost the key, YOU always do it!

Husband: “Stop blaming me! you are the one who was taking for ever to get ready, if you could skip your hour long sessions of hair brushing we could be ready much earlier and then deal with this with less stress, plus I told you ages ago to make another copy of the key!” (in an angry tone)

Notice how the husband, feeling accused and blamed, goes immediately into “defensive mode” and tries to retaliate by taking his turn on accusing his wife of the first thing he can think of.

So, in this scenario the angry and negative feelings keep escalating, and there is a full blown fight, which is not about the lost key anymore but about the couple’s feelings overtaking them and completely shutting off communication.

Scenario #2:

Wife: “You have lost the key again! You always do this, why don’t you leave it in the key holder by the door, it isn’t hard, that is why there is a key holder there!!! Now we are going to be late!” -Same as scenario #1

The husband feels accused, but takes a few deep breaths and realizes that his wife is really worried because she hates to be late and it is her frustration talking at him, he also realizes that she may have a point about him being a bit disorganized, in fact he was already feeling a bit guilty for the loss of the key… so here is his response:

Husband: “Honey, I understand you are mad because you hate to be late, and I am sorry we cannot find the key, you are right, I often put it in different places which makes it harder to find it, I apologize but let’s try to find it together and make a note to make a copy so we have a backup key in the future, and I will be more careful to leave it in the key holder”

To this, the wife’s anger immediately deflates and she replies:

“I am sorry honey, I didn’t mean to blame you, we don’t really know what happened, it is just that I really dislike being late, but never mind, we just have to keep looking and yes, we need to make a copy, sorry I have not gotten to do that as I offered. Let’s keep looking and hopefully will find it soon. I will call our friends to tell them we will be late.”

Scenario #3:

The wife is feeling really annoyed at her husband, but before she says anything, she takes a deep breath and notices that he is frantically looking for the key and probably feeling bad already about not finding it, so she says:

“Honey, I feel really frustrated because we are going to be late, I know these things can happen, but it is a good idea to leave the key always in the key holder to avoid this happening in the future” (In a loving tone, not an accusatory one!)

Husband “I know, I am sorry, I will find it and will be more careful in the future to leave it in the holder when I use it, why don’t you call our friends to tell them we will be a bit late and let’s make a note to make a key copy as soon as possible”

In scenarios number 2 and 3 one of the partners averted a fight by being mindful, but at the same time expressing their feelings and the facts in a very effective manner.

You can see how the example above can be applied in many other cases and with different relationships. The specific situation or facts don’t matter as much as the way we react to them, and how we choose to communicate.

So, here is how we can avert fights and grow our relationships:

1. Taking a step back, before our feelings take over our actions and reactions

2. Choosing the right words to express ourselves, here are some ideas:

State the FACTS instead of accusing the other:
We will be late, as we can’t find the key (fact) vs
We will be late because YOU lost the key (accusation)

Take RESPONSIBILITY for your feelings instead of blaming them on others
I feel frustrated when we are late, it makes me feel embarrassed (taking responsibility for one’s feelings) vs
You make me look bad, because of you we will be late, and it is embarrassing! (blaming the other for our feelings)

DON’T ASSUME the other person is guilty, even if it seems obvious!
I wonder where the keys can be. Do you remember what happened after you parked the car last night? (Unassuming) vs
You lost the key again! (Assuming the person is guilty)

If you take these simple steps and practice them over and over, I assure you that your relationships will grow stronger and healthier and that you will feel a lot better with yourself and others!

Thanks for reading!

Understanding Love Communication

Did you know that we all communicate love in very different ways?

love

As Valentines Day fast approaches, I thought it would be good to reflect on how we are communicating our love and why sometimes we feel frustrated because we don’t feel loved or appreciated, and/or those we love get frustrated with us for the same reason.

The best way to celebrate Valentines is to understand love and improving our relationships through effective communication, whether it is with your partner, your children, your friends or your parents.

Some time ago, I read a great book called: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. If you are not familiar with it, this book talks about 5 different ways in which each of us feel loved and express our love to others.

We all have a primary love language (the way in which we most feel loved and cared about) and our natural tendency is to show love in the way we most feel loved.

Because we have our own way of loving (or showing love), we unconsciously expect our partners to “love us back” in the same “way”, and this can create HUGE misunderstandings and frustrations!

In his book, Chapman describes the 5 love languages as follows:

  • Words of Affirmation

Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

  •  Quality Time

In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.

  •  Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

  •  Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most wants to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

  • Physical Touch

This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Once you know your primary language, you and your partner can discuss it and try to use each other languages more often. If you are not quite clear about which is your primary language, you can take this Assessment offered at the official 5 Love Languages Website.

Below is a great exemple of miscommunication.

Taken from the article: Six Ways to Keep Your Relationship Healthy By Dr. Ben Kim He writes:

“Margaret’s primary love language is quality time, while mine is acts of service. So while she appreciates various acts of service I might perform with her in mind, they don’t end up meaning as much to her as, say, spending an evening together just talking about this and that after the boys have gone to sleep.

I don’t know how many times I’ve forgotten this and spent one too many hours at the office, thinking that she would appreciate how hard I was working for our family, only to become devastated and angry in discovering that she was angry with me for neglecting her. The perfect example of two people looking at the same event with completely different perspectives and all the heartache that can be caused by not knowing and acting on your partner’s primary love language.

Know what your partner’s primary love language is. Act on it. Repeat as often as possible.”

Understanding that we all communicate love differently was a HUGE eye opener for me, it helped me feel more loved and love more effectively. And this is helpful not only in couple-relationships, but also with parents and children, and with all the people you care most in your life!

So, what is your primary language of love?

Have a wonderful week!

The True Meaning of Friendship

It is not often that I am disappointed by a friend, or rather “allow a friend’s action to get me down” but sometimes it does happen, and I find it important to reflect on it, delve a little deeper into it…What is the true meaning of friendship?

bpf

When it comes to friendship, my dad is someone that has really lived by example and has been a great model for me.

He knows how to be a true friend and because of it, he has a good number of loyal friends that would give their life for him. He often says 2 things about friendship that I find very profound and true, and I want to share them with you today.

When a friend has asked my dad a favor or something that he might not be too keen on doing, he has done it anyway, and when I asked him why, he has simply said: honey, these are the requirements of friendship, that is to say, in order to have true friends, you need to make certain efforts on your part.

Another great thing my dad has always said is that in friendship (as in any other close relationship for that matter) the most important thing is not to “give” the other something, but rather to “give oneself” to the other. This means that giving your friend a present or letting them use your car when you don’t need it, is good but not as important as BEING there for them, knowing how to truly listen to them, giving your time to them (even when they are not an enjoyable company,) giving something to them that may require an extra effort for you.  Being a friend is not always supposed to be easy and enjoyable!

Being there for a friend or giving them something when it inconveniences you is much more meaningful that hanging out with them for fun or doing them a favor that doesn’t inconvenience you in any way…

Of course, those friends that like to hang out with you when you are having fun, are cool! but those who are by your side even when you are no fun, those who stick by you in your darkest moments (when you most need them,) those are real friends. As the saying goes:

“Hard Times will Always Reveal True Friends”

Let’s be honest, probably most of us only have a few friends we can call our real friends, the rest of them are more like acquaintances, and it is nice to have both, but it is important to know the difference, so you are not disappointed when you realize that someone you thought was a real friend, isn’t really more than an acquaintance and therefore will not go the extra mile for you.

It is true that we are not always able to help our friends in the way they may need, but having an honest willingness to help and doing ALL we can is good enough. There are certain times you may not be able to do do what they need, even if you try, and if they are your true friends, they will understand that!

But don’t be confused, there are things that you certainly CAN do, but are not willing to… or are too lazy to… NOW that is different, that means you are NOT willing to go the extra mile, and therefore you are not being a true friend.

Now, how exactly do we build and nourish our friendships? What determines the meaning we give to friendship?

Different cultures attach different meanings to friendship, I know for instance that in the latin culture, friends may seem a lot more intrusive and demanding than in other cultures, which can be good or bad. There are cultures in europe where it is incredibly hard to make new friends, but when you make a friend, they are with you for life, because they see friendship as a very solid commitment and take it very seriously, and there are cultures like the US where you can make friends everywhere you go, and you call everyone your friend, but only a tiny percentage of all those “so-called friends” are true friends and are really committed to you.

Your family of origin also influences to a great extent the way in which you build your closest relationships and how deep they are, and that includes friendships of course.

Deep down, the only way to have real friends is to be one yourself, so you need to be aware of your limits and willingness when it comes to be there for a friend…ask yourself how far are you willing to go for them? how much are you willing to give yourself? your time? your effort? How committed you are to the friendship?

To me a friend means a lot more than someone I hang out with every now and then and do something fun with. A true friend means someone you can count on for anything and anytime, someone you deeply trust, someone you can call in the middle of the night if you need to, someone you feel free to be vulnerable with, someone who knows your dark side as well as the bright.

I do believe that life is made of relationships, after all humans are social creatures, so it is important to relate to others wherever we go and to have all sorts of people in our lives, but it is equally important to be clearly aware of who your true friends are. Maybe those times when you are not sure about a friend, the only way to find out is by giving them a chance to step up, and if they don’t, then you know they are in a different category, which doesn’t mean you need to take them off your life all together! it just gives you more clarity.

However, if you are very often disappointed by your friends, or find that you don’t have any true friends, maybe you should look inside and find out what kind of a friend you are? what does friendship really mean to YOU?

Have a Great Week!


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PDA, what…?

Back in the days, before I became a mom, I used to travel a lot, that was (and still is) one of my passions…I remember often sitting at the airports and watching people come and go. One of my favorite things was to watch the smiles, kisses, hugs and even tears of joy when people were reunited.

pda

So, one day, I was at an airport in the US, waiting for family members to arrive when I saw a young couple run into each other’s arms and kiss passionately, they were clearly happy to see each other, I felt their joy was contagious! and then, I heard the lady next to me (who had also witnessed the encounter) say with a dismissive tone and a grimace on her face, P-D-A!

At the time I was new to the US, and my knowledge of English did not encompass all the many acronyms that people love to use here! so I had NO idea what she meant, but I knew she was referring to that couple. I was puzzled, wondering what could have possibly triggered that lady’s negative reaction.

So, a few days later I asked a friend what this “P-D-A” meant, she told me it was short for: Public Display of Affection!

I had to ask her twice, I could not believe it! I was in TOTAL shock!…

How could that couple’s tender embrace, and that moment of pure human joy be seen as a bad thing? and coldly labeled as P-D-A! I just could not make sense of it… maybe that lady at the airport was just very bitter and lonely, so her reaction was out of anger and frustration at her own life… I wondered.

However, I came to realize over the years, that a lot of people in this country frown upon “PDA” and I still have a hard time with that. I come from a culture where public displays of affection are commonplace, not only among couples but between friends, family members, co-workers, etc. We easily hug and kiss our friends in the middle of the sidewalk if we feel like it, and everybody else does…

OH how I miss that!!!

Is affection between human beings something we should be ashamed of? is there something wrong with it? what is it that makes Americans frown upon it…?

This is still a mystery to me (and probably will always remain a mystery), I just can’t get into that mindset, even though for as long as I have lived in this country I have had to adjust to the culture and therefore limit my “PDA” to the minimum, which is really hard for me!

In recent years, however, I realized that I could not hold back my own nature, at least not all the time, so I decided to show my affection more freely to people (especially those who seem open to it) at the risk of been misunderstood or frown upon.

I truly believe that affection, kindness, compassion, love, etc. should be applauded, should be part of our every day exchanges, and it should be modeled for everyone to see, especially our children! When we are sharing a special time with friends, family or partners, wherever that is, why not show them our love and connection through our bodies? It is one of the most natural and powerful ways to connect after all.

Should there be a limit…? Sure! I certainly do not advocate having sex in public, or being sexually explicit in front of everybody, but other than that: hugs, kisses, winks, holding hands, kind caresses, etc. are all beautiful signs of affection that can be contagious and very beneficial for people. If we could offer these loving expressions freely, I am sure it would have a positive effect on people’s mood, health, and level of happiness all around!

I am a 42-year-old woman, and I am not ashamed to say that when I walk on the street with my dad side to side, we are likely to hold hands or have our arms around each other, same with my mom; just as much as I would give my partner a long kiss in the middle of the street if I feel like it, but this is natural for me, as I grew up in South America, there is nothing weird about it. If you think of it, what is wrong with that? If you do find something wrong with that, please write to me! I am interested in hearing your thoughts and start a conversation!

Today, I encourage you to go public with your displays of affection, my guess is you will feel liberated and the people who receive your affection will be happier!

Anyway, that is just a thought from the mind and heart of the outsider that I am!

Have a Great Week! (hopefully with lots of hugs and kisses!)


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Book Review of the Month – New!

Many of my posts are often inspired by the books I read, and although I do briefly mention those books in my articles, I though it would be nice to ad a monthly “Book Review” to my website. I truly believe books can change lives, the new concepts, facts, and ideas they present can often encourage deep reflection on our part, and can open us up to new ways of seeing life. Most of the books I read are related to personal growth, relationships, happiness, and so on, which are the topics that inspire my own writings anyway, so I hope you enjoy this new feature and maybe discover a book gem for your library and for your life!

When the student is ready… the teacher will appear

And sometimes… that teacher comes in the form of a book, this has certainly been true for me! But it also means, we may not always be ready for a particular book, or it may not speak to us the way it speaks to others.

I remember reading a book by Deepak Chopra a few years back, I really struggled through it, it did not make much sense to me at the time. However, years later it fell into my lap again and I decided to read it again, to my surprise, the second time around every word made total sense to me, I was amazed.

Especially when it comes to personal growth or spiritual books, we need to somehow be “aligned” to a certain book in order to get its full benefit, so as we change and grow, books will have a different impact in our lives.

This month I will present to you a BRILLIANT book that fell into my lap by total chance, I had never heard of it, never heard of its author, and what’s more: it was written for men by a man, but I still decided to give it a try and I wasn’t disappointed!. I gained new insights into men (the male energy and the masculine nature), and was amazed by the profound way in which the author understands female energy and feminine nature as well. So I definitely recommend this book to men, but also to women!

The Way of the Superior Man

“The Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida

Listed under the categories of Relationships, Spirituality and Sex.

The people who will most benefit from this book are man and women that are in a spiritual path or search, that believe relationships are key to their growth, that want to improve their current relationship in ways that it can best serve themselves and their partners, that want to fully embrace and enjoy their sexuality with no guilt nor hang-ups, that want to better understand the dynamics of feminine and masculine energy.

This can be particularly helpful for men who really truly want to understand women and communicate better with them.

The book’s premise: there is a “Way of the Superior Man” that both includes and transcends the “tough” concept of masculinity of our ancestors, and the “sensitive man” concept of more recent years, a way that frees a man to be both powerful and purposeful, and also feel spiritually alive.

Deida takes the reader on a powerful journey into the heart of the contemporary masculine experience, and explores the most challenging and important issues in men’s lives. He writes with sharp honesty, so the reader needs to be open to certain truths that might infuriate some, but will certainly profoundly benefit those who are open and ready for these teachings.

Here below are a few excerpts from the book, which will help you get a sense of its contents:

“Every man knows that his highest purpose in life cannot be reduced to any particular relationship. If a man prioritizes his relationship over his highest purpose, he weakens himself, disserves the universe, and cheats his woman of an authentic man who can offer her full, undivided presence”

“It is so easy to give her love; it’s what both of you really want anyway. But as a man you are more likely to try to fix her. That is exactly not what she wants, and exactly what will make the situation worse, most of the time”

“The priority of the masculine core is mission, purpose, or direction in life. The priority of the feminine core is the flow of love and intimacy”

“When a man sees a beautiful woman it is natural for him to feel energy in his body, which he usually interprets as sexual desire. Rather than dispersing this energy in mental fantasy, a man should learn to circulate this heightened energy throughout his body”

Click on the book image to go to Amazon and learn more about it. If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and take from it all that can benefit your life and your relationship.

Happy Reading!

 


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The importance of expressing negative emotions/feelings

The topic for this week has been inspired by a great book I am reading at the moment, it is called: “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Faber and Mazlish. As a mother of 6-year-old twins, I have to deal with my kids’ fighting and bickering and sometimes it drives me off the wall (I am sure many parents can relate). Being a single child I had no experience with having a sibling, so I really wanted to understand my kids and especially find ways to help them improve their relationship in every possible way.

siblings

As it turns out, I am learning many fascinating things about the dynamics of having a sibling, and how the relationship with a sibling can affect the rest of our life, for good or bad. Our parents, as well as our siblings become our first and closest teachers, so the way we interact with them will deeply shape the way we relate with other people and situations later in life.

So, I wanted to delve a little deeper into one of the main messages in this book: The importance of expressing negative emotions! It is quite simple but really profound.

I have always been a strong believer in expressing our emotions, all of them, even the negative ones. However, most people, when they are growing up, are taught to keep those emotions under control by simply repressing them, they are made to feel ashamed of them, to feel something is wrong with them and therefore, on top of having to suppress those emotions (hard enough for a child), they add more negative emotions to the mix: shame, guilt, inadequacy, etc.

Apparently, siblings are the first trigger of negative emotions during childhood because of the inevitable rivalry that arises between them. Experts in the field agree that at the root of siblings rivalry is each child’s deep desire for the exclusive love of his parents, simply because parents are the source of all security for a child (food, shelter, warmth, affection, a sense of identity, a sense of worth, etc.) So, the sole presence of another child threatens that security.

So, those feelings are NORMAL and to a certain extent healthy (from a preservation point of view if you wish). Now, the way children learn to deal with those feelings is extremely important for their future, and parents can help a great deal in this learning process. The very first thing to do is validate the child’s negative emotion, and that can be very hard for parents.

If a small child says he hates his baby sister, he does not mean it of course, but he is expressing a deep frustration. A very young child may not even have the words to actually say what he is feeling, so he may just push or hit his little sister for no “apparent” reason. In these two scenarios, most parents are likely to respond as follows:

1.- If child says he hates his baby sister:

What a parent may say What the child actually hears and feels
Do not say that! I can’t say what I feel (feels repressed)
That is not nice! I am not a nice person (feels guilty, ashamed)
Of course you don’t hate her My feelings are not real (feels he cannot trust his feelings)

2.-If child hits his sister:

What a parent may say What the child actually hears
Don’t be mean! or You are a bad boy! I am a bad person (feels guilty and ashamed)
What is wrong with you! Something is really wrong with me (feels inadequacy and fear)
You can’t do that! I can’t express what I feel (his feelings are wrong)

So, as a child grows up, he learns to keep his emotions under control by suppressing them, and he internalizes all those messages of guilt, inadequacy, not been good enough, not trusting his feelings, and so on.

Instead, parents could help the child find creative ways to channel his emotions, by first allowing them to be, validating them and letting them know that they understand what he is feeling, without judgment nor criticism. It is very important to make a distinction between allowing feelings and allowing actions. Parents can permit children to express their feelings, but they can’t permit them to hurt each other. Parents can help children express their negative feelings without doing damage, and there are many effective ways to do so.

Many of the frustrations and repressed feelings we have as adults came from these childhood moments where we learned that we could not expressed what we felt, whether it was anger, sadness, etc.

Another typical example that causes so much damage (especially in men) is the urge to have boys hold their tears, to learn to suppress them with comments such as:

  • Boys don’t cry
  • Don’t be a girl (this one is even worse, as it carries within it, a message of great disrespect to girls and therefore to women)
  • You are a big boy now, it is NOT ok to cry (suddenly they are not allowed to feel sad anymore, just like that!)

Ignoring a child when they cry is also very negative, because it gives them the message that their feelings (in this case their sadness) is not important, it’s not worthy of attention. Even though as adults we may feel that their crying is over something unimportant, from a child’s perspective that something may be truly important.

It is all about simply acknowledging and respecting their feelings, regardless of where they came from.

As adults we will still feel sadness, anger, frustrations, etc. many many times, so we need to first be ok with our feelings, acknowledge them, respect them (self acceptance) and, then know how to channel them in a non-damaging way (self control). These two simple things will give us enormous peace and control over our lives! Remember that Control is not the same as repression.

Also, as adults, if we are not in touch with our feelings (if they are so badly repressed that we don’t even feel them anymore), we will not be able to truly relate to other people’s emotions, so we will be less capable to establish deep, intimate relationships, and be emotionally present for others.

So, if you want to learn more about the ways you can help your kids and give them some vital tools, or if you wish to better understand the hurts of your own past, I really recommend this book. Click here
to see it in Amazon.

And last but not least, it is very important to realize that we are NOT our emotions, we cannot be defined by them, but we ARE entitled to feel them, and we CAN channel them positively!

Have a great week!


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