Self Improvement

Can You Love Someone and Still Criticize Them?

If you are in a romantic relationship in particular, you might wonder if it is possible or acceptable to criticize your partner. Some people have a vision of their loved one as perfect – but of course, no one is perfect. Others have a long list of expectations and see their partner as the person who needs to meet them all. When they don’t, they start to show their disappointment in various ways, including criticizing the other person.


What Does “to Criticize” Mean?


To understand the damage that can be inflicted on a loving relationship, let’s first look at a definition of the word criticize. According to Merriam-Webster’s definition for learners, to criticize means:


  1. To express disapproval of (someone or something)
  2. To talk about the problems or faults of (someone or something)
  3. To look at and make judgments about (something)


We can see from all three of these definitions why criticizing your loved ones is not a good idea. No one likes to feel as though others they care about disapprove of them. They certainly don’t like to have their faults brought up. And no one ever likes to feel as though they are being judged.


When you criticize, the other person can easily feel as if they are falling short of the mark and disappointing you in some way. That may or may not be your intention if they have failed to live up to your expectations.


But here’s the thing.


They are YOUR expectations.

They might be spoken or unspoken expectations.

If you demand your expectations be met, or else you will withhold your love, that is not true love – it is conditional love.


Unconditional Love


Unconditional love, by contrast, says you love and accept the person no matter what. You don’t hold them up to an impossible standard of perfection. You see their flaws, and don’t consider them to be a “deal breaker” that would be worth ending the relationship over.


Your love isn’t just based on what that person can give you, but on what you can offer them. Your relationship is not one of suffocation through expectation, but rather, a mutually supportive environment in which both parties are able to grow and thrive in a way that allows them to be their best self and live their best life.


Does This Mean You Accept Everything without a Word?


Many people think that loving unconditionally means tolerating anything, swallowing disappointments over and over again, and suffering in silence. This is NOT the case. You CAN give feedback when it is warranted, in a particular context, and in a particular way that builds the person up, not tears them down and undermines them.


For example, imagine your partner is a very messy housekeeper. They drop their clothes everywhere and leave dishes in the sink for a “later” that never comes. There are several approaches you can take. One is to show them the dirty clothes hamper and explain your sorting system, white, dark, colors. You can point out how it is better to do the dishes right away than for the food to get stuck on, or even worse, attract bugs and mice.


You could also try positive reinforcement, such as, “Thanks so much for helping sort the laundry. It makes doing the wash so much easier every week.” In terms of the dishes, you could say, “I really appreciate you washing the dishes. You know how important it is to keep the bugs away from the kids and pets.”


Positive reinforcement creates an air of appreciation in the relationship, and this goodwill can help you get over the tough times, for a successful and loving relationship.


Can criticizing your partner lead to a more loving relationship, or is there a better way to handle issues between you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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6 Tips for Building Resilience to Stress

Stress is all around us in the modern world, and can really wear us down if we are not careful, leading to all sorts of personal and health issues. Building up your resilience to stress is one of the best ways of coping with it, so that you bounce back more quickly from tough times rather than get swamped by them. Here are several ways you can build resilience to stress so you don’t burn out.


  1. Put together a powerful support network


Studies have shown that those with the best support networks are often the most resilient. They know their friends and family will help them in stressful times and are not afraid to ask for assistance for fear of seeming weak. They say what they need and will return the favor whenever the other person needs it.


  1. Practice good self-care


Stress can have an extremely negative effect on both physical and mental health. Eating right, exercising, getting seven or eight hours of sleep a night, and avoiding negative coping behaviors (such as smoking tobacco, using illicit drugs, or drinking alcohol) can all help them avoid burnout.


  1. Learn from past experiences


Dealing with stress successfully often means dealing with stressful situations and learning from them, so the next time something similar happens you will be prepared. It sounds terrible to say it, but it is only through the illness and death of a loved one that a person will really learn how to cope with these types of situations.


Through getting support and overcoming these issues, you set a pattern for success. You don’t feel powerless – you are able to take action and produce the results you wish for.


  1. Be flexible


A lot of stress comes from an “Oh, no!” attitude that makes you tense and unable to deal with the situation in a calm manner. Being flexible – that is, rolling with the changes through understanding that change is a natural part of life, can lower your stress response and make it easier to deal with issues in a calm, practical way. Stuff happens. Deal with it. Then move on to the next challenge.


  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff


If you stress over every little thing, you will always be stressed. That being the case, learn to let go and not stress over things that in the long run will really make very little difference. If you get upset, think, “Will I remember this issue a week from now? A year from now?” If the answer is no, deal with it as best you can and move on.


  1. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude


When we are under stress, it’s easy to focus on the negative and the present struggle we are facing. But if we take a moment to think about all we are grateful for, it can add a whole new appreciation for life. Thinking about the best things in your life you are grateful for can change your perspective and mood completely.


Stress is an inescapable part of life, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Work on building your resistance to stress and see what a difference it can make in your life.


Writing this post really hit home for me. What are your ideas on building resilience to stress?


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How Self-Awareness Can Improve Your Career

When most people think about self-awareness they imagine better personal skills as they relate to happiness and relationships. And it’s true that when you are more self-aware, you are in a better position to make decisions and take actions that improve your happiness and relationships. However, it doesn’t end there. A good sense of self-awareness can help in every aspect of your life, including your career and professional path.


  1. Making the Right Career Choices


Self-awareness can help you choose the right career path for yourself. Whether you’re just getting started in the professional world or you’re looking for a change, knowing yourself can help you identify a career that you find both satisfying and rewarding. When you know yourself you know:


* What you want from life

* Your strengths and weaknesses

* The things you find motivating

* How you relate to others

* How you see yourself fitting in

* Your work style

* How you learn


And much more. There are many different ways to determine your best career path. You can take a personality test or career aptitude test. You can also conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats assessment, aka a SWOT assessment. You can talk to people that you trust and get their insight about your strengths, weaknesses and personality style as well.


  1. Working Well on the Job


When you’re self-aware you are able to listen to feedback with an open mind. You’re able to receive feedback without getting defensive, shifting blame, or feeling like you’re being attacked. You can take responsibility for your work and take steps to both enjoy the praise and positively respond to the criticism. You’re also able to focus on your strengths and seek ways to minimize or eliminate your weaknesses. You can ask for help when you need it and work well on a team with others because you know who you are and what you’re good at.


  1. Listening to Your Inner Voice


Finally, when you are self-aware you’re able to listen to your inner voice. You know when something is right for you and when it isn’t. You’re able to make decisions that support you, and to avoid career choices that don’t fit your strengths and interests. And many people who are self-aware are able to push their limits and test their boundaries. They are able to achieve more because they’re willing to take risks and they’re not afraid of failure.


If you are in a career rut or you are looking for a career path that fits your goals, needs, strengths and personality then it’s time to look inside. Take steps to learn more about who you are and become more self-aware. You can perform self-awareness exercises, work with a coach, and tap into your inner knowledge about who you are and what you want.


Do you have ideas or people who are good to work with? Let’s talk about it in the comments…

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I Am Changing

This song from “Dreamgirls” is my favorite!


It makes me think about all the changes I’ve made through the years.  The thought of coming from a low place and making the choice to be better than yesterday makes me get goose bumps…


I guess this song means so much because I think back to how afraid of love I used to be.  I would push people away at the slightest little thing or I would fall HARD and start the process over again of pushing people away.  I’m not going to say that I’m 100% better but I’m definitely better than yesterday!  With each second, each minute, each day and so on, I’m leaving my past behind me…


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How to Manage Deadlines Effectively

Deadlines are an inherent part of professional life. Most people will have anywhere between one and half a dozen active deadlines in their work at any given time. Deadlines can be a very useful tool for managing work and coordinating projects with other people, but when used poorly can be a huge source of stress.


Using deadlines well will allow you to work more efficiently with less stress. So what does good deadline management look like?  The same list can be used with some tweaks.)


==> Learn to Say No


The most important skill you could develop with deadline management is the skill of saying “no.” Or better yet, master the art of saying no while giving an alternative. This is one I’m having to work on daily…


For example, let’s say your boss asks you: “Can you get XYZ done by Friday?” A good answer might be, “No, because I have ABC on my plate. I can have it done Monday, or we can push ABC back and I can have XYZ done by Friday.”


A bad answer would be to take on the task anyway, even though you’d be overloaded.


Learn to say no to tasks that you can’t handle.


==> Schedule Your Work and Deadlines


What goes hand in hand with saying “no” is knowing your schedule. If you don’t know exactly how much work you have to do each day, there’s no way for you to know whether or not you can take on more work. In order to know whether to say yes or no to a task, you need to be able to accurately gauge your current workload.


Take all your current tasks and deadlines and predict how much work you’ll need to put into them. Then schedule this work out on a day to day basis. You now know how packed or open your schedule is.


Next time someone wants to give you a new deadline, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.


==> Keep Tabs on Resources and Personnel


Often times your ability to fulfill on a deadline will depend on outside resources and other people.


If your deadline is to have a magazine cover design finished, you might need headlines from other people, you might need photo touch-ups from other people, and you might need printer resources to get proofs done.


Make sure you know the availability of the people your projects depend on. Make sure you know the availability of other resources that you’ll need to complete your project (equipment, money, software, etc.). Again, this will help you make informed decisions about whether or not to take on new projects and what deadlines you can agree to.


These deadline management techniques will help you avoid taking on more than you can handle. They’ll also help prevent late projects due to unrealistic deadlines. All around they’ll help you and your team get more done, communicate better and reduce workplace stress.

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The Advantages of Being Disliked

Most of us are taught to be people pleasers from a very young age, so the idea that there are any advantages at all in being disliked is probably a new one for many of us. The biggest advantage is that it frees us to be our authentic self, shaking off the shackles of society expectations as we forge our own destinies.


There are actually many advantages to being disliked and unpopular. Here are just a few:


Being True to Yourself


You may wish to be popular and the life of the party at work or school, but popularity is not as enduring as being true to yourself. Being true to yourself means making smart choices that allow you to look in the mirror each day and be proud of what you see.


Not Bowing to Peer or Parental Pressure


The idea of being ourselves can be almost unthinkable when we are children, as we bow to our parents’ wishes so they will praise us. We are also prone to give in to peer pressure, even when we know it is wrong, because ‘everyone is doing it.’ For example, millions of people all over the world use heroin, but that does not make it a valid lifestyle choice any sane person would wish to make. Yet countless numbers of people experiment and get hooked on drugs because of peer pressure, from the nicotine in cigarettes to the alcohol in beer and spirits.


Setting Your Own Goals


By listening to all the naysayers who might have written you off as useless, you are free to set your own goals. In fact, being told you can never do something is often the inspiration to achieve exactly what they say you will never be able to do. It’s fun to defy expectations. And on the way to your goals, you will find positive people who will support you.


Achieving Your Dreams


A lot of people talk big about what they are going to do or be. If you’ve ever been to a high school reunion, you have probably been surprised to find that the people who were so popular and seemed to have the most potential have achieved little or nothing in their lives. By contrast, there are those who were disliked or even bullied, but used those negative experiences to spur them on to success. As the phrase goes, “Living well is the best revenge.” Achieve your dreams, and never stop dreaming.


Being Freed from Time Wasters and Meaningless Distractions


If you are unpopular and disliked, you will save a lot of time and energy by not having to jump through all the hoops everyone expects you to. You can say no and mean it without worrying what other people think or getting saddled with all the terrible jobs that no one else wants to do. You can focus on your own career instead of having to save the butt yet again of your lazy colleague in the next cubicle who is actually earning more than you.


I’m not talking about being mean or spiteful, but of living your life with honesty and integrity. By doing this, you will set an example for others and attract other sincere people to you. You will often become the person whose opinion everyone respects because you are such a good example of a person in tune with their feelings and successful in all areas of his/her life.


Now that you have discovered the main advantages of being disliked, go on – live a little. See how many false friends you can weed out of your life by just being your authentic self. Chances are you will never even miss them as you move forward to achieve all your goals and dreams.


Share your thoughts…

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