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Posted by on Jan 4, 2014 in Featured | 0 comments

Focus on Your Body and Heart Strength this Year! 2013 has ended our economic down dip. Bring on 2014 – Less Stress, More Love

What Are Your Strengths Body, Mind, and Spirit?

Whether we are talking about physical or emotional workouts, no pain no gain. With the economic downturn of the past three years, we have all had to focus, tune up and tune in to get through it. Fortunately 2014 has arrived and with it more optimism as the trends move in more positive directions.

There is no doubt that when stresses (including economic stresses) go up, loving connections can go down. There are correlations in an increase in relationship stress, break-ups and breakdowns as our capacity for caring follows economic trend lines. And it can be a time that brings you closer connections with those you love and deeper attachments as you get through the challenges. I went to an exercise class this morning at a local gym, the Bar Method studio– known for it’s small movements and great gains. It truly gives new meaning to “Lets hit the Bar today”. There is no alcohol involved, just a lot of perspiration as we navigate the challenges of our instructor. As I was watching my legs shake convulsively in the squatted plies we were led in, I thought to myself “I am loving this…aren’t I?”

In a painful kind of way, there is a beautiful Zen experience in muscle exertion…and I know this shaking muscle exhaustion is going to pay off with a stronger, healthier body a few weeks from now. At least that is what they tell me at the Bar Method. My motivation is in the results I see—a room full of svelte hard bodies around me gripping the bar and effortlessly going through their own dips. Comparison can be motivating to some extent as a way to get through pain and find that gain that Jane Fonda used to chant.

I think it was Jane Fonda who came up with the original statement when she produced her exercise videos: “no pain, no gain” and “feel the burn”. Her 1982 workout wisdom applies to resiliency and your heart today.

If 2013 was a tough year for you because of a relationship challenge or career shift, you may be thinking enough pain and growth already! Certainly with the dip in the economy over the last three years, you are not alone. Whenever stress goes up in our lives, the brain’s capacity to function in a creative, loving way goes down.

Whenever economic stresses go up, the incidence of relationship discord and sadly, dissolutions can go on the rise. Ideally in the right relationship, an attachment will strengthen through adversity. There are things you can do to make sure you keep strengthening your relationship. Some basics are:

1. Write a list of things you love about your partner and keep that list in your wallet or somewhere you will see it every day. It’s a benchmark for where you are at rather than the peccadillo caused by your partner in the moment.
2. Take time out to share your feelings and needs.
3. Make sure you are truly hearing your partner’s feelings too!
4. Share time in mutual play. The shared endorphin state is a great way to strengthen your positive connection.
5. Map out your year ahead together. Having mutual goals will focus your attention to bigger picture ideas. This helps you feel more resourced so you will both ride through the confusion or misunderstandings with more optimism.

If you have recently gone through a break-up, you may be feeling overwhelmed, feeling miserable and saying to yourself right about now, “I’m so sad, so lonely, and so frustrated… When am I going to feel joy again?” Remember you are going through an experience that everyone goes through at some time in his or her life. Change doesn’t come without its pain. But keep in mind that statistics are witness to the fact that after a break-up you will likely be in a new committed relationship within three years. So relax, sit back and enjoy some time loving you for a while. The same five tips apply if you are newly on your own.

1. Write out a list of your own best strengths. Typically we spend way too much time trying to fix our deficits rather than exploit our strengths. (Check out Strengths Finder 4.0)
2. Don’t isolate yourself. Connect with your friends who give you the support, care and context to share your feelings and needs with.
3. Make sure you are partnering with your self: Journal your thoughts.
4. Participate in some type of playful activity, preferably something that has a 20-minute cardio boost to get your endorphins flowing.
5. Map out your year ahead including new hobbies you might try out or new groups you might join.

When you think of things you feel are your contributions in your life, you will recall they have come from an experience of personal pain. Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that even the lotus grows from mud. I am with you in this. I know pain. Whether this pain comes from giving birth to babies (painful and exhilarating), getting a Master’s Degree in Psychology (challenging and fascinating), running two full and two half marathons (exhausting and exhilarating), I wouldn’t trade my pain away for anything. And that thought is what keeps me going back to the Bar!
What have been your greatest endeavors, challenges, and life contributions?

How did you get from pain to gain?

The answers to those questions are insights into your own resources that will strengthen you today and tomorrow.

Find out more in my book “Break-up Breakthrough and Learning to Love Again”.

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