4 Keys To Surrounding Yourself With People Who Inspire You to Grow

How to Create Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling Relationships

Sometimes the people you love the most can also hurt you the most. Why? Because you love them!  We want to trust the people closest to us with our most vulnerable aspects of self.  Friends, lovers, siblings, relatives, and even parents or your own children. We can’t imagine being rejected by them, or worse! – Us rejecting them.

But if you find that someone in your inner circle continues to say things that put you down, or you feel bad more often than you feel good around them, that the happiness is being sucked out of you in their presence, it’s time to consider what’s best for you. 

•  Know you have a choice.  The great thing with friends is that you can choose them.  If your friends put you down more often than lift you up, it will make you miserable.  You can change this by letting them know.  They may not realize that the things they are doing are making you feel so bad.  If they stop, great!  If not, then you have a choice to make.  I hope you choose to surround yourself with people who inspire you to grow.  

•  Speak up.  It’s a bit harder with family, probably because of cultural rules around family loyalty.  Allow yourself to put these rules aside for a while, and dream into what you would do with ______ if he or she were an acquaintance.  You can love from a distance, choosing to spend less time and energy on the plight of that loved one.  Again, I hope you would choose to surround yourself with people who inspire you to grow.  

If you dread being around someone you’re close to in your family because of the hurtful things they say, try talking to them and telling them how you feel.  If the response isn’t what you were hoping and they aren’t willing to change, then accept this and keep your distance. It doesn’t mean you never speak to them again, it just means you have to put yourself first. You need to choose to surround yourself with people who inspire you to grow.  Instead of seeing them so regularly just because they’re family, you can choose to see them as much as you can manage. It’s ok to do this.

My father was such a relative. Whenever I was around him, he would inevitably blow up at me, tell me off, and leave me devastated.  I stopped visiting him; I made sure that we were never alone together (He was nicer around strangers);  yet, when he was dying, I could still show compassion.

•  Let go of the fear.  Fear will come up when making these changes. You care for these people so worrying what they will think or if you will hurt them is natural. There will be uncomfortable feelings in the beginning, but it’ll pass. The person will eventually accept your choice. Remind yourself that you are doing what’s best for you and that you have a right to choose to surround yourself with people who inspire you to grow.  Take small steps.

•  Be open to new relationships.  We worry that we won’t find fulfilling relationships, so we stay stuck in unhealthy ones. I was one of these people.  As I gained the strength to change –  I chose to surround myself with people who inspired me to grow.  I learned that healthy relationships do exist. You have a choice. This is your precious life. Don’t waste it with who people who bring you down. You deserve the best.  Take a small step today by spending more time with the people who believe in you and appreciate you. Keep taking small steps and eventually you’ll be surrounded with great people who make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Taking care of yourself

Taking care of yourself

Article Sources –


Why We Gossip

Why We Gossip

Author: jinterwas-onFlickr

According to Evolutionary Psychologists, almost two thirds of our conversation time is devoted to gossip. That’s right – 2/3!  That’s just absurd! Everyone is taught that gossiping is an ugly, low-minded pastime occupation.
“So how?” you may ask, can it be that we do it more than half the time????

First the positive:

Gossip isn’t always slandering someone.

1. Gossip Helps Us Bond With Others.

The act of gossiping – talking, listening, sharing secrets and stories – bonds us together. Let’s say you go to a party.  You haven’t seen some of the people for eons. When you are fairly alone with one, they might ask if you’ve seen so-and-so?, and if so, how were they? If that goes well, you may exchange other stories.

  • When we share emotions – feel the same about something/someone – we create a bond.

Last week I was hiking with an old high school friend who I hadn’t spoken to for years. We shared old memories, and then talked about the misfortunes of a friend we both knew and cared about. I can attest – that compassion-filled conversation made us both feel much closer.

  • When we express shared values, we create a bond.

If I say I am a staunch vegan (I am not, for the record!), and you are too, we “get” each other in a way non-vegans can’t. In a way, we confirm that we are better people because of our shared values and commitments.

2. Gossip can serve to gather and share useful and helpful information about others – Without direct and embarrassing inquiry.

Gossip is a way of comparing notes, and its rarely meant to be with malicious intent amongst friends and more of a way getting the full picture. When we air our grievances about a third person, it serves two purposes that I can think of. First, we want to know our view is valid: “So that would upset you, too? Well that’s a relief – I was afraid I was feeling crazy”. Secondly, it can serve as a rehearsal for speaking directly to the person we are upset with.

If two people share concerns and intimate knowledge about someone they mutually care about, it creates a bond. In my family, for instance, we’d talk about our sense of hopelessness regarding another relative we loved. It was our year in and year out ritual. I even remember how awkward conversations became after that relative got better (what do we talk about now???)! Such gossip works because it seems better to learn so-and-so got divorced, is in the hospital, or died, sooner than later. On a similar note, being the “knowledge-sharer” of these things creates an advanced position in one’s social group.

3. Gossip teaches us the “rules” of social groups.

It keeps us in line. Most of us relate better to stories than to raw data, and gossip is a form of storytelling, an interpersonal folklore. “Did you hear about so-and-so?” By hearing and sharing these stories, we learn about the social norms and conventions of the people around us. We learn how to act – and how not to act – in certain situations. For example “THAT teacher is a bully – when Jimmy talked out in class, the teacher ….”;  or “Can you believe I heard Emily swearing like a pirate? Parents shouldn’t put up with that!”

The Negative Side of Gossip

Gossip can actually be a kind of deterrent or a punishment against those who deviate from the values of a group. It’s tough to be the one being negatively gossiped about or the one excluded because of a nasty rumor, so the social pressure keeps us from veering too far away from the groups prescribed way of behaving.

According to one writer, the following are some ways it’s used in a group.

• For control or power – One negative use of gossip is to use it as a way of reducing the status of another. This can be very vicious, and unlike bonding-gossip described above, it’s meant to damage another. Look to politics for examples.

• Out of boredom – Many gossip studies say this was the #1 reason why young people say they spread rumors. Sometimes when everyone is happy and getting along, it seems kind of dull. Spreading juicy rumors shakes things up a bit, gets two people to start a fight, and that adds a little excitement to the group. All those tabloid newspapers and TV shows full of celebrity gossip are pure proof that rumors are a popular form of entertainment. All reality shows script this in. (heavy sigh)

•  Out of jealousy or to feel superior – When people are feeling bad about themselves, they may unconsciously think they’ll feel better if there were someone worse off than they are. This can be random neighborhood gossip, but also look at cyberbullying.

• To feel like part of the group – If everybody else is gossiping or spreading rumors, you might feel you have to do the same thing in order to fit in. When you’re “in on the secret,” you’re in the group. Unfortunately, you could be the person who the gossip or rumor is about next time.

What To Do if You Are The Target Of Gossip, and why “no comment” is the wrong answer

In a gossipy world, what we do matters less than what people think we do, so we’d better be able to frame our actions in a positive light. As social creatures, hearing rumors, especially repeatedly, tends to increase our belief in them. Not commenting on a rumor tends to raise the question, or cause suspicion that the rumors might be true.

• Confront the person. If the gossiper is causing damage to your reputation, and if you don’t expect him to stop soon, then you need to speak with the person. Even though the accusations may be unfair and untrue, the situation is real. You need to get ahead of the rumor in order to deal with it in the here and now.

Say something a bit aggressive, like “I am aware of what you are doing and only those who are scared to face one another gossip.” Look the person in the eye, and you tell your side of the story. Most people will apologize and remember your talk the next time they decide to gossip about you.

• Teach People How to Treat You. If you walk into your social situation avoiding eye contact, and with your head hung down, your body language says “guilty as charged”, even though what you are really thinking is “I can’t stand to know what they are thinking of me!” You have to be your own best friend, and you have to decide who you are at the core of your being. With that in mind, carry yourself as such.

But here’s the thing…

Gossip is a low-minded pastime occupation. Because we have evolved, we can choose not to participate. We can discuss, directly, our grievances, our worries, our concerns. We can communicate honestly and with integrity. We can investigate our judgements, and learn about ourselvesWe can grow our compassionate hearts by understanding our judgements.

Article sources

Sydney University’s Associate Professor of gender and cultural studies, Catherine Driscoll.


Relationship Success

… boils down to 2 qualities –

Kindness & Generosity

couple-1190902_1920A team of researchers hooked couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship: how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. As they spoke, electrodes measured the subject’s blood flow, heart rates, and how much they sweat. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them 6 years later to see if they were still together.

From the data they gathered,  John Gottman (and team) separated the couples into two major groups: the Masters and the Disasters. The masters were still happily together after 6 years. The disasters had either broken up or were unhappy in their marriages.

One fact they found interesting: The more physiologically active the couples were in the experimental lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time. Now we’re not talking “aroused”  as in “sexually attracted”. We’re talking about being in fight-or-flight mode. Having a conversation, sitting next to their partner was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger! They didn’t feel safe with each other. Conversely, the masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy. They were more emotionally comfortable.

How did the masters create a culture of love and intimacy?

All people make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” The Other could respond by either turning toward” or “turning away.

Though the connection-bid might seem minor and silly to One partner, the Other partner apparently thought it was important enough to share, and the question is whether the partner recognizes and respects that.

Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow-up had “turn-toward bids”  of only 33% – Only 3 of 10  bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87% of the time. That means 9 out of 10. They were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.
By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples — straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not — will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later.
Much of it comes down to the ‘spirit’ couples bring to the relationship – personality characteristics. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?
Gottman concludes, “there’s a habit of mind that the Masters have. They are scanning the social environment for things about their partner they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building a culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.  On the other hand, the Disasters are scanning the social environment for their partners’ mistakes.”

Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.

People who give their partner the cold shoulder — deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally — damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they are not there, and certainly, not valued. Being mean is the death bell of relationships.

Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from Gottman has shown that kindness, along with emotional stability, are the most important predictors of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated.

There’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to love and generosity in a relationship. Please note: this means that one partner can bring out goodness in the other – by way of example.

Gottman gives an example: “Disasters will say things differently in a fight. Disasters will say ‘You’re late. What’s wrong with you? You’re just like your mom.’ Masters will say ‘I feel bad for picking on you about being late, and I know it’s not your fault, but it’s really annoying that you’re late again.’”

Masters appear to take the time to choose their words. They don’t ignore their feelings like some Disasters do (only to blow up later). They own their perceptions and approach the partner with a desire to share and solve the problem. Disasters will often approach as though they are an expert on the other and there is no invitation for a discussion.

Couples can learn to communicate with respect. They can learn about connection-bids. But they have to be motivated.

Excerpts from: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/happily-ever-after/372573/#ixzz3InrNj0bN

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Being Who You Are


I stopped trying to be something different than who I am. It was exhausting. Confidence soon followed.

And guess what – others accepted the real me, too.

7 Tips for Dealing with TOXic People

Worth reading from off the web – WRITTEN BY: MARC CHERNOFF

7 Smart Ways to Deal with Toxic People

Don’t let toxic people rent space in your head.
Raise the rent and get them out of there.

Surviving the ups, downs, and lightning storms of other people’s moodiness can be quite a challenge.  It’s important, though, to remember that some moody, negative people may be going through a difficult stage in their lives.  They may be ill, chronically worried, or lacking what they need in terms of love and emotional support.  Such people need to be listened to, supported, and cared for. But whatever the cause of their moodiness and negativity, you may still need to protect yourself from their behavior at times.

And there’s another type of moody, negative behavior: that of the toxic bully, who will use his or her mood swings to intimidate and manipulate.  It’s this aspect of moodiness that inflicts enduring abuse and misery.  If you observe these people closely, you will notice that their attitude is overly self-referential.  Their relationships are prioritized according to how each one can be used to meet their selfish needs.  This is the kind of toxic behavior I want to look at in this post.

I’m a firm believer that toxic mood swings should not be inflicted on one person by another, under any circumstances.

So how can you best manage the fallout from other people’s relentless toxicity?

1.  Move on without them.

If you know someone who insists on destructively dictating the emotional atmosphere, then be clear: they are toxic.  If you are suffering because of their attitude, and your compassion, patience, advice, and general attentiveness doesn’t seem to help them, and they don’t seem to care one bit, then ask yourself, “Do I need this person in my life?”

When you delete toxic people from your environment it becomes a lot easier to breathe.  If the circumstances warrant it, leave these people behind and move on when you must.  Seriously, be strong and know when enough is enough!

Taking care of yourself

Taking care of yourself

Letting go of toxic people doesn’t mean you hate them, or that you wish them harm; it simply means you care about your own well-being.

A healthy relationship is reciprocal; it should be give and take, but not in the sense that you’re always giving and they’re always taking.  If you must keep a truly toxic person in your life for whatever reason, then consider the remaining points…

2.  Stop pretending their toxic behavior is OK.

If you’re not careful, toxic people can use their moody behavior to get preferential treatment, because… well… it just seems easier to quiet them down than to listen to their grouchy rhetoric.  Don’t be fooled.  Short-term ease equals long-term pain for you in a situation like this.  Toxic people don’t change if they are being rewarded for not changing.  Decide this minute not to be influenced by their behavior.  Stop tiptoeing around them or making special pardons for their continued belligerence.

Constant drama and negativity is never worth putting up with.  If someone over the age 21 can’t be a reasonable, reliable adult on a regular basis, it’s time to…

3.  Speak up!

Stand up for yourself.  Some people will do anything for their own personal gain at the expense of others – cut in line, take money and property, bully and belittle, pass guilt, etc.  Do not accept this behavior.  Most of these people know they’re doing the wrong thing and will back down surprisingly quickly when confronted.  In most social settings people tend to keep quiet until one person speaks up, so SPEAK UP.

Some toxic people may use anger as a way of influencing you, or they may not respond to you when you’re trying to communicate, or interrupt you and suddenly start speaking negatively about something dear to you.  If ever you dare to speak up and respond adversely to their moody behavior, they may be surprised, or even outraged, that you’ve trespassed onto their behavioral territory.  But you must speak up anyway.

Not mentioning someone’s toxic behavior can become the principal reason for being sucked into their mind games.  Challenging this kind of behavior upfront, on the other hand, will sometimes get them to realize the negative impact of their behavior For instance, you might say:

  • “I’ve noticed you seem angry.  Is something upsetting you?”
  • “I think you look bored.  Do you think what I’m saying is unimportant?”
  • “Your attitude is upsetting me right now.  Is this what you want?”

Direct statements like these can be disarming if someone truly does use their moody attitude as a means of social manipulation, and these statements can also open a door of opportunity for you to try to help them if they are genuinely facing a serious problem.

Even if they say: “What do you mean?” and deny it, at least you’ve made them aware that their attitude has become a known issue to someone else, rather than just a personal tool they can use to manipulate others whenever they want.  (Read Emotional Blackmail.)

And if they persist in denial, it might be time to…

4.  Put your foot down.

Your dignity may be attacked, ravaged and disgracefully mocked, but it can never be taken away unless you willingly surrender it.  It’s all about finding the strength to defend your boundaries.

Demonstrate that you won’t be insulted or belittled.  To be honest, I’ve never had much luck trying to call truly toxic people (the worst of the worst) out when they’ve continuously insulted me.  The best response I’ve received is a snarky, “I’m sorry you took what I said so personally.”  Much more effective has been ending conversations with sickening sweetness or just plain abruptness.  The message is clear:  There is no reward for subtle digs and no games will be played at your end.

Truly toxic people will pollute everyone around them, including you if you allow them.  If you’ve tried reasoning with them and they aren’t budging, don’t hesitate to vacate their space and ignore them until they do.

5.  Don’t take their toxic behavior personally.

It’s them, not you.  KNOW this.

Toxic people will likely try to imply that somehow you’ve done something wrong.  And because the “feeling guilty” button is quite large on many of us, even the implication that we might have done something wrong can hurt our confidence and unsettle our resolve.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Remember, there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.  Most toxic people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with.  Even when the situation seems personal – even if you feel directly insulted – it usually has nothing to do with you.  What they say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

6.  Practice practical compassion.

Sometimes it makes sense to be sympathetic with toxic people whom you know are going through a difficult time, or those who are suffering from an illness.  There’s no question about it, some toxic people are genuinely distressed, depressed, or even mentally and physically ill, but you still need to separate their legitimate issues from how they behave toward you.  If you let people get away with anything because they are distressed, facing a medical condition, or depressed, even, then you are making it too tempting for them to start unconsciously using their unfortunate circumstance as a means to an end.

Several years ago, I volunteered at a psychiatric hospital for children.  I mentored a boy there named Dennis, a diagnosed Bipolar disorder patient.  Dennis was a handful sometimes, and would often shout obscenities at others when he experienced one of his episodes.  But no one ever challenged his outbursts, and neither had I up to this point.  After all, he’s clinically “crazy” and can’t help it, right?

One day I took Dennis to a local park to play catch.  An hour into our little field trip, Dennis entered one of his episodes and began calling me profane names.  But instead of ignoring his remarks, I said, “Stop bullying me and calling me names.  I know you’re a nice person, and much better than that.”  His jaw literally dropped.  Dennis looked stunned, and then, in a matter of seconds, he collected himself and replied, “I’m sorry I was mean.”

The lesson here is that you can’t “help” someone by making unwarranted pardons for everything they do simply because they have problems.  There are plenty of people who are going through extreme hardships who are not toxic to everyone around them.  We can only act with genuine compassion when we set boundaries.  Making too many pardons and allowances is not healthy or practical for anyone in the long-term.  (Read Who’s Pulling Your Strings?)

7.  Take time for yourself.

If you are forced to live or work with a toxic person, then make sure you get enough alone time to relax, rest, and recuperate.  Having to play the role of a “focused, rational adult” in the face of toxic moodiness can be exhausting, and if you’re not careful, the toxicity can infect you.  Again, understand that even people with legitimate problems and clinical illnesses can still comprehend that you have needs as well, which means you can politely excuse yourself when you need to.

Off the web, from: http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/12/08/7-smart-ways-to-deal-with-toxic-people/

Being Real


Right? ;)

What does “being who you are” mean? 

It starts with monitoring less, being less anxious about making mistakes, and less apologetic about other people’s opinions of you.

Being Real means allowing yourself to evolve and change.

It requires being responsible for your own philosophies, opinions, and decisions, and accepting the myriad of contradictions that are part of life… Part of you.

When Everything Is Going Wrong

Positive Outlooks Blog

Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again. Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best.  — Unknown

to get back up

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