The Magic of Margin

Are you constantly on the run? Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and don’t have time to do the things that truly matter to you? Do you find yourself spending less and less time with friends and family and more time at the job or doing other activities? Breaking commitments and feeling bad afterwords? If so, you’re not alone. A recent experience with a long-time high school friend demonstrated the need for a solution to this dilemma.

Some weeks can be particularly stressful and this had been one of them. I was so looking forward to getting together with a girlfriend. We had made plans about a month ago to get together to hear one of our favorite country bands at a nearby shopping mall. The week before I had an idea.

“Hey, girlfriend. Would you like to get together for dinner on Friday before the concert?”

“Hmmmm. Not sure if I will be able to make dinner. I’m driving some friends to Pennsylvania that day and it could be a long day. Ok if I let you know by 2 or 2:30 when I see how things are going?”

“Sure,” I said, knowing full well there was no way she was going to make dinner if she was going on an all day trip to PA. I felt a twinge of disappointment as we both enjoy this pizza place and we hadn’t been for quite a while, but I brushed it off and decided to look forward to the concert.

Long story short, my friend never made it to the concert. She was, understandably so, too exhausted from the day’s trip.

Now please understand, I am writing from experience. I, too, have tried to do too much in the past until I learned about this one concept that fixed the problem once and for all. It’s called Margin.

If you invest in the stock market or remember writing essays back in school, you know what I’m talking about, but in case you don’t here’s a basic explanation. Margin means ‘leaving space’. It’s a simple concept but it has huge implications.

Just as it is important to leave space on the written page, and space for the price of a stock to fall before you decide to buy it, it is even more important to leave space in our schedules between activities.  Things always take more time and more energy than we usually anticipate, especially since none of us is getting any younger. But how exactly does one build margin into one’s life?

Two keys I’ve learned: 

1) practice saying that two-letter word “NO”
2) prioritize your activities, friendships, and commitments

We cannot say “Yes” to everything and everybody. Time is a gift to be treasured, not squandered. Scripture exhorts us to “let your yes be yes and your no be no”, (Matthew 5:37). When we are clear on what we want to say “yes” to, it will be easier to say “no” to things that matter less. Stephen Covey has a whole series on this topic entitled “First Things First” if you want to read more about it.

Until next time, practice building margin into your days. Then write and share with me how it has helped you feel more relaxed, more at peace, and more fulfilled than ever before and remember – keep looking up!

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3 Steps to a Deeper Relationship with God

Do you sometimes feel disconnected from others? Unloved? Alone? If so, you’re not alone. We all struggle with these same feelings and doubts. We go through periods of time when we feel like everyone has deserted us and we are left paddling the streams of life all by ourselves. It is in these times that it is even more important to turn inward and to turn to God. Sometimes God allows these dry periods so we can come into a more intimate relationship with Him. We may not know exactly how to go about it so today I am going to share three steps to developing a closer relationship with God. An interesting question over the weekend precipitated this post.

I was at a good friend’s wedding having dinner, when a gentleman shared that he had read my book, “The Power of Faith”. He said he wished he had the same type of faith to get through the trials in his life and asked me if I thought if it was possible for anyone to develop a strong faith.

“Absolutely”, I replied without a moment’s hesitation.

In fact, God promises us this: “You will seek and find me when you search for me with all your heart,” (Jer. 29:13). Just as healthy earthly parents want a good relationship with their kids, so our heavenly Father wants a close relationship with us. In the same way, if we want an intimate close relationship with another person we must be intentional about it.

“Well, how do you do that?” my typically shy and reserved friend inquired.

Now I know, many of us are stuck in this sensory world we live in. If we can’t see, feel, hear, touch, or smell it, we don’t believe it exists. God does exist only in another reality – the spiritual realm and we just have to get comfortable operating in this realm as well. The good news is the same steps we take when we are serious about getting to know someone are the same steps we can use in developing a relationship with God.

1. Have an open heart and an open mind.

In other words, we have to believe in our heart that it is possible to have a deeper relationship with God, that He does love you, and wants to have a relationship with you. God wants to connect with us, just as much as the spiritual part of us wants to connect with Him. Once we let this truth permeate our minds, we open the doors for an amazing adventure.

2. Spend more time together.

Getting to know God is much the same as getting to know another person. When we make it a priority to spend time with someone, we get to know them at a deeper level. We come to know who they are, their likes and dislikes, their values, how they think. We each have our own way of spending time with God. Some of us like to take a walk, a hike, or a bike ride in nature. Others
prefer to listen to comforting music or work in the garden. Still others find God in a communal approach such as a church setting or a meditation group. Whatever puts you in a calm and receptive state of mind is conducive to meeting with God.

3. Learn how God feels and thinks about things.

God is not some secretive, illusive being. He wants to make himself known to us, to speak to us, and to guide us – personally. These days, when we want to find out information about someone, we do a Google search and look them up on the Internet. We can do the same thing with God, believe it or not. We go to a reliable source and seek information. In fact, God has put much information about himself, his ways, his thoughts, and his ways of operating in in one collection of books known as the Bible. Now I know many people have a problem with the Bible, saying it’s old and antiquated but not much has changed in the way of relationships since it was written. Did you know that the way experts determine the validity of a manuscript is by how many copies there are of it? Did you know that the Bible is one of, if the not the most copied manuscript in history?

When we make time to read Scripture, we learn who God is, what He thinks, and what is important to him. We also open up the channel of communication for Him to speak to us. You will be amazed when you start reading the Word, how some passage will jump right out at you and you will know that it is meant for you. Try it and see!

“One more thing,” I said to my friend. “Just ask God to reveal Himself to you, and He will.” My friend smiled and nodded.

So there you have it, friends: three steps to developing a deeper relationship with God. Do post a comment, and click the +1 Google icon to let me know you liked this post. If you’d like to receive my free guide entitled “7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path”, enter your email address in the box above. Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

4 Stages of Attraction: What Makes a Man Attractive to a Woman

Frustrated with the dating scene? Tired of not being able to connect with someone? The problem is the same for both sexes so a bit of education might be helpful. Last week, we talked about the four stages of attraction for men. This week I’m going to share the four stages of attraction that women go through when they meet a man. They are indeed very different from the order in which men are attracted to women so let’s go ahead and find out what they are.

Level #1:Romantic and Emotional Level

Whereas men are first attracted visually to a woman, women are usually attracted to some aspect of who a man is or something about his demeanor. It could be his smile, the way he says her name, the level of success he has achieved. Just as physical chemistry is the first and lowest level of attraction for men, romantic/emotional chemistry is the first and lowest level for a woman. This is why men often go the cards and flowers route early on in the relationship. They know women are emotional beings, but speaking from personal experience, these gestures however lovely and romantic they may be, often disguise a less than desirable character and low-self-esteem. Many times women mistake romance for true chemistry when in fact, this is only the first level.

Level #2: Mental Attraction

Yes, women are attracted to a man’s mind, his intelligence and his intellect. The more intelligent and intellectual a woman is, if a man is not on the same level as she, this will not be a good match in the long run. What kinds of subjects does he like to talk about? Education comes into play here. A highly-educated woman will not be happy with a man with a high school education. They will be unable to communicate on the same level and it will be frustrating for both. They will also not be able to resolve conflicts and misunderstandings easily.

Level #3: Physical Attraction

Some women are attracted at the physical level first. These are usually the younger women, those on the rebound, and those who have not matured emotionally. Strong physical attraction is actually a red flag. This can blind a woman to a man’s real character and she can wind up being very hurt. The wise woman will enjoy the romantic gestures and the physical attraction but will not be swept up by it. She will guard her heart until she gets to know a man’s personality and character. A woman who keeps herself in shape usually is attracted to men who are in good physical shape as well, but there are exceptions sometimes.

Level #4:Soul Attraction

When a woman feels attraction and chemistry at the three previous levels, she is then ready to fall in love and move into soul attraction. When she likes who a man is, can interact with him at the same level, and finds him physically attractive, she is then open to falling in love with this man. If she accepts him as he is and can love him unconditionally, she will feel that this is the man she is meant to be with. There will be a deep connection at the soul level.

Everyone I’ve asked agrees there must be chemistry for a relationship to work. It’s either there or it’s not. Don’t try to make it happen. What about the concept of a soul mate? Do you believe there is such a thing and if so, do you believe there is only one person right for you? If so, how do you know? Love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please post a comment and click the Google icon. Also, if you’d like to receive these posts, please enter your email in the box to the right.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Six Signs You May Need a Spiritual Path

Everyone is on a spiritual path, whether they know it or not. What’s more, everyone needs a spiritual path, not just those who have been abused, addicted, or abandoned. We all have been wounded in some way. How can I say this? Because after years of thinking dysfunction happens only in “broken” or “alcoholic” homes, I’ve seen enough people from seemingly “normal” families have the same kinds of issues. I’d scratch my head and ask “How did that happen? Her parents weren’t divorced/alcoholic/addicts or whatever.” Until one day, it dawned on me – we are all wounded. Each of us is in need of healing of some sort. It could be physical, emotional, spiritual or all three. Author Wayne Dyer says that “there is a spiritual solution to every problem,” and if we look deep enough, we will find it.

The problem is that many of us are not aware that we are on a spiritual journey, so we fail to look for spiritual solutions. We look to medications, drinking, food, activities, and relationships to console us but sooner or later we realize, we have to go deeper. Hence, the popularity of such groups as Alcoholics Anonymous, meditation groups, and yoga classes. Participants realize there is a spiritual struggle going on underneath the covers of the suffering they are experiencing. We are three part entity: body, mind, and spirit. An injury to any one part affects the other parts. The Chinese have known this for centuries.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has long correlated physical ailments with emotions. For example, a few years ago, I went to an acupuncturist for treatment of an asthma condition I suddenly developed. I had never had asthma in my life so I knew something was going on. “Asthma affects the lungs,” the specialist explained. Then he asked this probing question: “Have you experienced any grief lately?” At that, I burst into tears. Grief! I wanted to scream. Yes, I have experienced grief in several very close relationships all in the same year. The light bulb went on. Once I gained the awareness of the grief I was experiencing, the asthma symptoms completely went away. When we bring light to the darkness of the pain in our spirits, we can process the emotions, which then allow us to heal at the physical level as well. So how does one know if one is in need of healing?

There are probably many more signs, but the ones I am aware of I am listing below. See if any of these resonate with you.

1) physical symptoms and pain – such diseases as fibromyalgia, arthritis, high blood pressure, back pain may all have emotional and spiritual roots

2) incessant chatter – are your conversations self-absorbed (all about you)? do you focus on the negative circumstances in your life?

3) fear of the future – does anxiety about what may happen steal your joy? do you feel a need to keep up with every negative news story, gossip, or Hollywood drama?

4) overdependence on company of others – do you always have to be around people? Are you uncomfortable being by yourself?

5) preoccupation with any one area of life – are you a workaholic? exercise fanatic? Is there any area others would say you put too much time into?

6) inability to overcome addictions – such as overeating, alcohol, drugs, gambling, porn, or codependency?

If any of these hit home, I am offering a free mini e-book entitled “7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path“. I’m not talking about religion here, so please don’t confuse the two. Spirituality is very different from “organized religion” although we may find our path in church for a time and that is quite alright. When you enter your email in the box to the right of this post, I’ll get it right out to you.

Stay tuned for more practical and spiritual advice on how you, too, can find healing, wholeness, and harmony and live the life of your dreams.
Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Back to School: One Habit That Should Stick With You Forever

A new school season started this week. Families and teachers have been busy getting ready for the year ahead. Perhaps you, too, are shopping for clothes, shoes, and school supplies. It is a busy yet exciting time. We learn many habits in school and one of them, in particular, is a key to lifelong progress. Are you still dealing with the same issues you were 5, 10 years ago? Wonder why you’re not making progress? Ready to throw in the towel on your aspirations and dreams? Don’t! It is never too late to move forward so today I am going to share with you the one powerful habit you can use to make definite progress towards your goals.

Before you moan and groan, let me reassure you, this is not something new you have to learn. In fact, you probably already do this at least once a day. Some use electronic gadgets, others use whiteboards, and others, like yours truly, use a good old pencil and paper. But first, let’s take a trip down memory lane, back to our school days. What was your favorite school supply? Mine was the notebook. I loved choosing from among all the colorful covers. Teachers back then were very particular about what kind of notebook to have and how to divide it up by subject or topic. Then they came out with the 5-subject notebook which I loved because it saved me running back and forth to my locker to switch notebooks for different classes. The purpose of notebooks was – to take notes, of course!

Whenever someone was out sick, they would come to me for the notes, because even back then, I took good notes. And what is the purpose of taking good notes? To be able to remember what is important! Good note taking is simply this: jot down the important facts you want to recall at a later time. With everything on our schedules these days, sometimes the most important ideas can be forgotten if we don’t write them down.

Experts say only 10% of what is read is remembered. This skill comes in handy in daily life as well. I bet many of you make grocery lists, create goals on the job, and have daily to-do lists, yes? Billionaire entrepreneur, Richard Branson, even recommends this habit .

If we want to make progress in any area of life, we need to get in the habit of taking notes. This one simple habit we learned in school can help us stay on top of things in all these important areas of life:

1) our finances
2) our fitness and health goals
3) our diets
4) our personal growth
5) our spiritual growth

So while we’re on the topic let’s talk about spiritual growth for just a minute. How many times do you go to church or your favorite spiritual place, and forget the message before the day is over?
We get distracted. We barely pay attention. We fall asleep. As soon as we leave, we start thinking about where to have lunch or what we event we are headed to next. Taking notes is not only a good way to stay focused and attentive, it also helps us remember and apply what we’ve heard so that we can move forward. Where would the world be if such people as Aristotle, Confucious, Augustine, and Camus did not write down their thoughts and ideas?

What one area of life do YOU want to make progress in? If it’s diet, start taking notes about what you eat every day. If it’s finances, start tracking what you spend every day. Get the idea? Nothing is impossible and this one school habit can make the difference! Where else do you use note-taking? How has it helped you?

Until next time, do leave a comment. Love to hear your feedback. Keep the faith and keep looking up!

Ariel

Change Your Words, Change Your Life

“I have a dream” Martin Luther King.
 “Never, never give up!” Winston Churchill
 “Four score and seven years ago,” Abraham Lincoln.

These famous words so eloquently delivered, influenced nations in a powerful way and will live forever in our memories. Three men were motivated by their passion, conviction, determination, and courage. These were  also men of great faith who believed in the principle of freedom.

Words  have a magnificent and awesome power to effect change. The words you and I use have great power as well. Words can heal or harm, build up or destroy, uplift or tear down. All of us can remember words spoken by parents, siblings, and classmates, that affected us strongly in some way.

The effects of our words have much more impact than we realize, because they carry energy which is either positive or negative. In his book, “Awaken the Giant Within”, motivational speaker Tony Robbins talks about the power of words. He suggests we maximize positive words to increase pleasure and minimize negative words to decrease pain. For example, instead of angry say disenchanted. Instead of confused, say curious. Say unstoppable rather than confident. Robbins encourages us to use “transformational vocabulary” with the goal being to minimize our negative feelings.

In my opinion, the greatest motivational speaker of all time was Jesus Christ. Think about his words and the impact they had on people he encountered:
“You are forgiven.”
“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
“Your faith has made you well.”

His words healed the sick and the blind, the down-trodden and the outcasts of society. The Bible refers to Jesus as “The Word” (John 1:1) which relates back to ancient Greek philosophy and refers to divine wisdom, reason, and creative power.

What kinds of words are you speaking out? To your kids, your friends and coworkers and more importantly, to yourself? And to God?

If you want to transform your life, I encourage you to start changing the way you speak. Instead of saying “This —- is going to kill me” say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  Instead of saying “I feel fat, ugly, old” say “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is true. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). 

Write and share what one phrase you are going to stop using this week. Let’s all speak words of life and faith and watch our lives be transformed.

Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Ariel

Mindfulness: How it Can Help You Stay Connected to What’s Really Important

There’s been quite the hubbub lately about mindfulness. You know something is catching on when there’s an article about it in the Costco magazine. Mindfulness has made its way out of the yogic realm and into mainstream society. Our culture has us moving faster and faster with the plethora of electronic gadgets and social media. Many feel pressured to “keep up” with the pace of the world and every Facebook post, Tweet, or news event. Perhaps like me, you wonder if all this is such a good thing. In the midst of this information overload, are we losing sight of what is truly important and failing to enjoy the precious moments in our every day lives? Maybe the ancients were on to something, so this week’s post is devoted to answering this question:
What is mindfulness exactly and how can it help us in our daily lives?

When some hear the term “mindfulness” they conjure up visions of cross-legged yogis with eyes-closed chanting. Perhaps a more realistic and comprehensible word for mindfulness is “awareness” or “being present”. Being present & fully engaged is the best gift we can bestow upon our spouse, our child, our friends and ourselves. Mindfulness is a form of meditation one does to learn to clear one’s mind and to be aware of one’s thoughts as they pass by. An untrained mind is mindless. Our thoughts jump from one thing to another, like a monkey on tree. We are easily distracted, forgetful, sucked in to emotional reactions, and not fully present or aware.

One way to judge this is to notice the rate of speech we use. When we are talking a mile a minute, our minds are racing. My mother always used to tell me “You think too fast,” and now I realize she was right. I thought too fast and I talked too fast so that is one reason I have taken up the study of mindfulness. Nowadays, I am often bewildered by someone’s conversation when they seemingly go off on an unrelated tangent. I ask myself “How is this related to what we were discussing?”. What happens is in their mind there was some connection to another event. Their mind monkey-jumped to this other thought thread and they started following it without realizing it was not related to the discussion at hand. As we age, this happens more and more because the circuitry of our brains has been wired for years. However, it is possible to stay focused and connected, even as we age, by learning this ancient practice.

Relationships:
Nothing is more upsetting to a wife than to come home to her hubby all excited about sharing something about her day and he tunes her out by reading the newspaper or being fixated on the boob tube, computer, or video game. I remember when I was married and I used to teach aerobics one night a week. I would come home from class all excited to share how the class went and my then husband would look at me briefly and then go right back to reading the newspaper. Is it little wonder then we ended up in divorce court? These days people substitute their cellphone, the television, the internet or a video game. It’s all the same problem – lack of mindfulness. Otherwise known as not paying attention.

Your kids:
When you are with them, make the effort to be truly with them. Don’t be doing dishes, talking on the phone, grading papers or whatever else needs to be done. Stay in the present moment and really be with your child. These things can be done after the kids are in bed. If you’re a working mom, like I was, you only have a few hours to develop a relationship with your children. Those hours are precious. I made sure eating dinner together was a priority. I’d ask them about their day and get them to talking. Some nights we’d have a bible study session where we would take turns reading the Bible. Now it doesn’t have to be the Bible. I wanted to make it a two-fer and use the connecting time as a teaching time as well. Then at bedtime, I’d often read them a bed time story. In other words, I made sure the hours I had with my kids, I was present.

Personal life:
How often do you forget where you put your keys, your wallet, the grocery list? You start one task and find yourself doing something else two minutes later. No, it’s not ADD or ADHD. Most likely it is the normal state of mindlessness. Not being aware of what you are currently doing. I think if we taught our kids mindfulness at an early age, far few kids would be on prescription meds. When we learn to slow down enough to pay attention to the present moment, we actively engage in the here and now. You know how you get so involved in your gardening, or playing tennis, or dancing and then wonder where the time went? That’s because you were mindfully present. You were actively aware in what you were doing. You were being mindful.

Inner world:
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of mindfulness is being more connected to our thoughts and feelings. When we slow down and pay attention to our thoughts, we are more aware of what is going on in our internal world. We are able to feel our feelings before they cause us to react in an unhealthy or unproductive way or keep us up at night thinking about things. Even though we are asleep, our mind is still trying to process the events of the day. This is why we wake up in the middle of the night ruminating. When we learn to be mindful during the day, we will process our thoughts and emotions real-time, so our minds don’t have to work overtime at night to do it. Just yesterday, I caught myself having negative feelings towards an old friend. Rather than ignore them or stuff them, I allowed myself to sit with them. I realized why I was feeling upset, which led to an understanding of what I need to change about myself in this situation.

Mindfulness is a practice, like most things worthwhile in this life. When we make the time to train our minds, we will have better control over our thoughts and our actions. Our relationships with others will be more intimate and more connected and we will be more focused and directed in our daily lives and accomplish more of what we want to do. There are several ways to practice mindfulness and I have attached a link here with more information.

Love to hear your thoughts on this relevant and timely topic. Please leave a comment below or on Facebook.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

6 Simple Strategies to Guarantee Weight Loss – Part 1

Fighting the battle of the bulge? Did you know more than one third of U.S. adults are obese? Our fast-paced gotta-get-more-done-now lifestyle has led to a deprioritization of mealtimes. We eat on the run, grab a coffee for breakfast, snack on a donut at break, and then take the kids to a fast-food joint for dinner because of jam-packed schedules.

As we age, excess weight can keep us from doing things we love. It also affects the pocketbook. Did you know medical expenses for obese people are $1429 more per year than for a normal weight person? As a gal who has lost a total of 35 pounds over my lifetime, and kept it off, this week I am sharing six simple tips I use to help maintain a healthy weight. But first, here’s what prompted me to write this post.

Last weekend, I was out with a new girlfriend who is about my age, perhaps a few years younger. If I had to guess, she’s probably about thirty pounds or more overweight which puts her into the obese category. I parked the car in the garage and we headed to the main entrance for a night of salsa dancing. As we’re walking, she says “Dinner time,” and pulls something wrapped in foil out of her purse and begins to chow down. I made a mental note that this behavior is conducive to weight gain but didn’t say a word. Yeah, Ariel!

So here we go with my six tips to help you lose that unhealthy baggage, have more energy, and feel better about yourself.

Tip #1: Eat smaller portions

Everything these days seems to be super-sized, from burgers to televisions. Unless we want our bodies to be super-sized we need to go against the tide and realize bigger is not always better, particularly when it comes to portion sizes. A serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be about the size of our palm, which is about 4 ounces. We want to feel full but not stuffed when we finish our meal.

Tip #2: Be more active

Physical activity is even more important as we age. Have done with the excuse about not liking to exercise. There are so many ways to exercise and have fun. One of the easiest and cheapest forms is to take a walk. Put on a pair of supportive shoes and head outside. A brisk 1 – 2 mile walk everyday will do wonders for you. At lunch time, get away from the desk, clear your head, and get some fresh air. If you want more, pick up the pace to a jog. If your joints can take it, jogging is a great cardiovascular exercise that gets the happy hormones, known as endorphins, circulating. You will burn more calories, stoke your metabolism, and strengthen your heart. Do something to get moving every day. Your heart will thank you, too!

Tip #3: Cut back on fats and sugars.

As an ex-aerobics instructor, I learned about nutrition, diet, and calories. Did you know a gram of fat has more than double the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrate? Quick nutrition lesson here. Fats are found mostly in animal products such as meat, dairy, and cheese. They also are in oils, nuts, and seeds. To limit fats, avoid fried foods, fast-food, ice cream, pre-made packaged or frozen products, and creamy salad dressings and sauces such as alfredo. Check the labels and notice the number of fat grams per serving. If you’re not used to doing this, you will be in for a rude awakening. Some fats are good for you, though, so don’t eliminate them entirely. The brain is made up of 60% fat, so it needs it to stay healthy. Olive oil, coconut oil, sardines, salmon, all contain heart-healthy oils but use them sparingly. Now let’s talk about sugar.

Sugar wears many disguises so it is important to be aware of where these simple carbohydrates lurk. I overheard a woman at the pool the other day comparing lettuce and watermelon. She, too, is overweight. She was talking about how much she loves watermelon. True, lettuce and watermelon are both mostly water, however, watermelon is very high in sugar, rating 72 out of 100 on the glycemic index. So if you’re downing it in large quantities, remember the body still needs to produce insulin to digest fruit sugars the same as the sugar in cakes and cookies. Some other sources of sugar you might not be aware of are alcohol, dried fruit, dates, and some energy drinks.

Which one of these tips will you apply this week? Write and let me know how it goes for you. Stay tuned for part two of my six simple weight-loss tips next week.

Until then, keep looking up!

Ariel

Believe in What You See – How to Spot the Red Flags

Single? Lonely? Looking for Mr. Wonderful? Holding on to Mr. Right Now? Too many times when we meet someone we see them through rose-colored glasses, and ignore the red flags. Why? Because we are lonely, bored, tired of waiting, and isolated. Or we are in a relationship, and we know in our head this person is not right for us, but we stay in it anyway, because we are emotionally involved.

Recently, I spoke with two single gals who are in a predicament, shall we say. They are stuck in unhealthy relationships hoping things will change. The years are going by and nothing has changed and both these gals are making excuses to stay. Now I totally understand because I’ve done this very thing and listening to their stories reminded me of how difficult it is to extricate oneself from emotional ties.

Today’s post is dedicated to helping you:
a) spot the red flags early on so
b) you don’t get emotionally entangled with the wrong guy.

Several years ago, I met a guy online on a supposedly Christian dating site. When I read this guy’s profile, my heart was aflutter. He sounded like my perfect match – on paper that is. All the externals I was looking for seemed to be in place – good job, owned his own home, attends church, willing to learn how to dance etc etc. Well. After two years of a conflicted spirit, late night “disagreements” and much heartache, the light bulb finally went on and I put all the pieces together. The guy was lying to me about who he really was. The signs of jealousy, immaturity, and insecurity had been there all along, I simply chose to minimize them. I made excuses and rationalized his behavior. All because I was approaching a milestone birthday and I had set my mind of being engaged by that time.

Lesson #1: my timetable is not always God’s timetable.

Lesson #2: Listen to my spirit.

Anyway, fast forward several years. I was still single so decided to give online dating another try. Another guy contacts me wanting to get together for dinner.

“Here we go again. They think wining and dining me is going to do the trick.” This time I was determined to keep my eyes open and my heart protected.

Don’t ask me what I was thinking. The guy had posted photos of his red Porsche, his motorcycle, his flowers, and his dog. Nothing against any of these, but I kind of felt like there were conflicting messages being sent. Now I always give people the benefit of the doubt, so I went out with the guy. The Porsche and the motorcycle were signs that screamed one word – FAST! He wanted to move quickly in more ways than one. By the grace of God, it only took me 3 dates to figure out the truth and am so glad I did not let myself get emotionally or physically involved with the guy. I chalk the whole experience up to a re-test and I think I passed with at least a “B”. Maybe a B+.

Bottom line of these stories is this. When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Don’t allow the wining and dining, the flowers, the jewelry or the romance to blind you or override your good sense. If you’re not sure what to do, get counseling or talk to some wise friends who are courageous enough to give you an objective perspective. If we want to avoid unnecessary hurt and pain and stay out of wrong relationships, it would do us well to face the reality of who people are before getting physically and emotionally connected to them. Take your time evaluating the person. Three dates seems like a reasonable amount of time.

If any of my story resonates with you or if you have helpful tips you’d like to share, please leave a comment below or on Facebook. Love to hear back from you.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

The Dangerous Pull of Strong Emotions

Emotions are powerful. Think of how you feel when someone cuts you off in traffic, you watch a baby being born, or your favorite team wins the game. These emotions can be very strong at times, almost overwhelming. Emotions can be our friends or our enemies. They can motivate us to climb mountains and they can drag us into the pit of despair. Emotions can motivate us to pursue relationships or leave them. What I want to talk about today is how important it is to learn to pause and reflect before acting out of emotion so we can make conscious choices.

I’ve read that when we get emotional, a different part of our brain (the right hemisphere known as the limbic system) takes over and the more logical left hemisphere stops working. Logic and emotion are two opposing forces. We’ve all heard the old adage about the head and the heart, right? Which of these do we allow to influence us in our decision-making?

A recent example of out-of-control emotions is the Baltimore riots. People expressed their long-pent-up frustrations and anger in violent and destructive ways. Emotions are contagious, especially negative emotions such as anger and hostility. Another factor is how deeply we experience our emotions.

Some people feel their emotions more strongly than others. I know, because I am one of them. I feel deeply which can be both a good and a bad thing. I have learned, however, that my emotions are something I have control over. I don’t have to allow – say allow – them to control my actions. I can take a step back and think. I had a situation recently where I had the opportunity to practice what I’m preaching here.

As you may know, I am a single lady looking for my soul mate. I recently went on a few dates with a new guy we’ll call C. We met online and corresponded a few times, then talked on the phone. I decided to give him a chance. Well, he kept trying to kiss me telling me how attracted he was to me, ya da ya da ya da. Now I appreciate the attention, but as they say, flattery will get you nowhere. So I explained to him gently that I prefer to get to know someone better before I go the physical route. I know how physical men are and that’s fine, but women are like ovens. They take a while longer to heat up. Anyway, the point of the story was, being the analytical ex-IT person I am, I was evaluating the different aspects of this person. I have to admit I was tempted to kiss the guy, but I held back. Kissing can form an intimate connection when someone feels as deeply as I do so I don’t jump into it lightly these days. After three dates, I became aware of several aspects of this gentleman that I did not think would make for a long-term match and ended the relationship. Point being, I did not allow my emotions to override my logical thinking and was able to make a conscious choice regarding whether to pursue a relationship with this person.

When we allow our strong feelings to control us, we often make decisions and choices we later regret. Emotions can cloud our judgment and cause us to make poor decisions. This applies to business situations as well as personal relationships. Our emotions can control us or we can learn to control them. The key is to recognize what is going on and stop the train before it derails. Sometimes emotions can rise up in us that have nothing to do with the situation at hand. Have you ever exploded at your kids when you got home from a frustrating day at the office? There you go.

Emotional intelligence is understanding both the source and the impact of our emotions.

1. Ask myself “What am I feeling?”
2. What is causing me to feel this way?
3. Is this what I really want to do?

The next time you feel overcome with strong emotion, take a step back. Ask yourself the above questions before taking action. What do you think of the thoughts presented here today? Love to hear your feedback so please leave a comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter @ArielPaz08.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel