Relationships


RelationshipI have been married for 34 years.  That is a long time and I often wonder how my wife has put up with me for so long.  One of the things that I have learned as a life coach is that most things in life can be narrowed down into a single category: Relationships.  Think about it for a second.   Most of your interactions in life fall into one of these categories: Relationship with yourself, Relationship with loved ones, Relationship with others including coworkers and Relationship with a higher power.  So how you deal with relationships will inform your life in many ways.  Over the next several days I want to explore this idea of relationships and how to do them better.  But let’s start with the basics.  I wanted to give you a list of what I think makes a healthy relationships work. This list can apply to any type of relationship including romantic, friendships, work and family. The list is general but you will see that it will work for all of the above.

 Trust – Every relationship is built on trust. To be in a successful relationship you need to trust the other person on many different levels. As you share your lives and the relationship deepens, trust becomes one of the linchpins of it. Relationships can be irrevocably broken when there is no longer trust.

joy 6Friendship – You would think this one is a given, but it isn’t. There are many people who are in relationships who do not have a friendship. I have seen many married couples who have nothing in common and at times seem to be anything but friends. Liking a person for who they are and enjoying spending time together is an important part of any relationship.

 Laughter – I often think that humor is one of the things that tie people together. When you can laugh with a person about some of the things around you a bond is created. Think of some of the best times hanging with people and I can bet you probably laughed together.

 Affection – Whether it is a spouse or family member or a friend. To have a healthy relationship there should be some affection for the other person. It may not be all out love, but there should be a general likability that creates a special bond.

Dictionary Series - Marketing: communication Communication – Any relationship should be built around good communication. When I speak to couples about issues they are having, the most common problem is their inability to communicate. Many people do a lot of talking AT each other, but being able to communicate WITH each other can make a relationship strong and be helpful when things get tough.

 Common Interests – One of the things that Facebook has taught me is that many times relationships are built on common interests. You may have experienced this too. A long lost person in your life friend requests you on Facebook. You are excited and you soon have a great online conversation about your lives and your past. Several weeks later the communication has slowed and it eventually stops. You soon realize that what bound you together as friends was a specific time and place, but now that you no longer have that commonality you have very little to talk about. Common interests binds our relationships.

 Honesty – This goes hand in hand with trust. It is important to be able to be honest with your relationships so that they can continue to grow. Conversely, it is important that people are able to be honest with you. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be in a relationship with someone who is honest with me then someone who tells me lies or hedges the truth.

relationshipRespect – This should probably be higher on the list, but when you are in a relationship with someone you should have mutual respect for each other.

There may be other things that you would like to add to this list. Feel free to comment about the list and we can discuss it further. As you can see, to be able to be in a healthy relationship you should be able to have most, in not all, of these attributes. As you go through your day and you encounter the various relationships you are in, do a quick rundown of this list and see how many of them are a hallmark of the relationship. I look forward to talking more about relationships as the week progresses. And don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

If you need someone to talk to about your relationships, I am here to help.   You can email me at StephenLifeCoach@gmail.com

93 Days of Discovery – Sabbath: The Least of These

I have been watching the ongoing story of children and young people crossing into the United States illegally. It is a difficult situation and I don’t really have any answers on what to do to make it better.
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I have spent several years of my life working with children, teens and families in some of the poorest areas of Central America. The organizations that I have worked with have provided food, health care, education and clothes to help make a better life for many children. As I have travelled throughout Central America I have been amazed and moved by the resilience of people who live with so little and who have had to adjust to the shifting politics in their countries that have made their lives more difficult. Over the past couple of years I have heard from friends that those areas that I love are no longer safe. Some organizations have scaled back their work because they can no longer keep their staff and volunteers safe. A friend recently told me that one of the neighborhoods that I used to walk around freely and visit with the friends is no longer safe to do so. He told me my life would be in danger. Another friend says a growing business is private security in which families are paying armed guards to stand outside their homes to keep their families safe. Unfortunately, this seems to be true in many areas of Central America and in response people are sending their children here to escape the deteriorating situations in their own countries.
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Again, I don’t know what the answer is. But the question I keep asking myself is: Where is the Church in all this? What should be the response by people of faith? I look at the politics that surround this and I wonder how people who run on Christian values can then turn around and vote to send these children back home without a hearing. I ask myself what can the Church do both here and in those countries to help alleviate the burden and help keep children safe? And I wonder if the people of faith stood up in love, could we make a difference in this situation. As I read the Gospels I hear Jesus say:
…43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44″Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45″Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’… Matthew 25:43-45

And:

16 But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17″Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Luke 18:16 & 17
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So as we spend our Sabbath today, take some time and ask what should we, as people of faith, do to help those in need? Your thoughts? Have a blessed Sabbath and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

93 Days of Discovery – 2 Approaches to Life

I was talking to a gentlemen the other day who was sharing his life story with me. It was a very interesting tale of a man who had worked hard and had made a lot of money, had travelled the world and had done a lot of things. It was also the story of a guy who made a terrible mistake that ended with some time in jail. He is now working a job that is paying him about $10 an hour, his friends have all disappeared and he is one very unhappy man. The majority of the conversation was laced with his telling me how terrible his life was and how unhappy he is.
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The next day I was talking to a woman who had gone through a messy divorce from a man who had emotionally abused her. She told me about a rather lavish lifestyle that gave her a lot of things but she also shared how hard it had been to stay married to a husband who took many opportunities to tell her what a terrible person she was. She is also working a job that pays around $10 an hour but approached each day with a smile and genuine joy. She gives everyone she comes into contact with a big smile and a great big hello. She is one of the happiest people I know and she is quick to tell you what a great life she has.

Life is all a matter of approach isn’t it? Each of these people has gone through difficult times in their lives but each one has a different approach on how to move forward. I am often struck when I speak to people how the main thing that holds them back is the hardest thing to overcome…ourselves. We are all too often our own worst enemies. We can get either get bogged down in the negativity or we can make the most out of the situation we are in. So which approach to life are you going to take when things get tough? Here are a few thoughts:
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1) When life hands you lemons, make lemonade – I know that it seems like a silly cliché, but clichés often come from reality. Whether the problems in your life come from decisions you have made or because of things outside your control, you need to make the best from it. I love the visual idea of the lemons. Holding onto the lemons and doing nothing means you’re holding onto the sour in your life. And eventually the lemons will rot. Feelings can also be like that. Don’t hold onto the sourness but try to make something sweet from it. I find that by doing that you are able to take the first steps towards a better approach to life.

2) I love the Serenity Prayer –
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
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Whether you are a person of faith or not, the idea of the Serenity Prayer is very true and can help you in deciding which approach to life you want to take. There are some things in our lives that we either cannot change, or believe we cannot change. By accepting that you are where you are at any given moment and living in that place to the fullest is a great start to changing your approach to life.

3) Make a plan – If you have followed my blog for any length of time you have heard me say this over and over. If you are unhappy with your situation, change it. Having a plan is the best way to move forward and find a place of peace in your life. I think the easiest place to start is by grabbing a piece of paper and at the top writing down where you currently are. At the bottom of the page you write where you want to get to with a realistic time frame. In between these two, write down every step you would need to take to get there. You may have to adjust some things along the way but a plan can be a frame work into making changes in your life. Your life may be tough at the moment, but your choice is either to stay there and hope for the best or you can take control of your life and make a plan to get to where you want to.
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I guess my final question to you is…which approach to life are you going to take today? Do you want to be that negative person who dwells on the past and allows it to darken your present situation? Or would you rather be a person who enjoys every moment that you are in? The choice is yours! Live each day to fullest. Find joy in everything you do. The greatest changes have to start from within you. It is all a matter of approach. Have a great day and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

93 Days of Discovery – Sabbath: Serving Others

By now you know that every week I take my Sunday posting and talk about Sabbath. I have talked about the importance of taking a Sabbath and I have shared some Sabbath moments from my own life. Whether you are a person of faith or not many religions and cultures have understood the importance of Sabbath, both as a day off and a holy day. No matter how you spend your Sabbath, it is important that you take one. Your body, mind and spirit need a time of rest. Sabbath is also about helping others.
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I am standing at the door of the airplane and looking out at the landscape of Honduras. Just two weeks earlier Hurricane Mitch had hit the country and had left a path of devastation in its wake. When we first got off the plane we climbed down the stairs outside the terminal while our luggage was lined up on the tarmac. We picked up our luggage and headed to a little area just inside a corner door of the terminal to go through customs. It turns out that the interior of the terminal was unusable because of flooding from the hurricane. I could see various water lines on the walls. Lines that indicated how high the water had been at the height of the storm and some lower lines from the water receding. Everything inside the terminal was covered with mud.
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When we leave the airport and travel down the main highway of the area, there are tents and makeshift buildings on both sides of the road and the median. The tents are mostly tarps that are covering boxes piled up top of each other and the buildings are mostly made from pallets. Our driver tells us that after the storm this was some of the driest ground and people who had lost everything started to campout here while trying to figure out what was next. We drive further down the road and make a turn onto a dirt road. The driver tells me that the road was once a busy street and the dirt is a remnant from the storm. We cross over small bridges along the way with fast moving currents. He warns that they are still finding people who lost their lives in the rivers when the mountain sides were washed away taking whole towns with it. We finally stop and the driver tells us that this is as far as he can safely drive. We soon find out why.
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Before I get out of the truck I put on my rubber boots. I step out into the road and I am already standing in mud. A half mile down the road the mud will be ankle deep and walking is difficult. It is made more difficult by the fact that we are carrying cases of water and baby formula. When we reach our destination we are met by a friend who tells me that he has a place for us to set up at. We drop off our first load and make the trip a couple of more times. Each time we go back more and more men and children help up. Finally we are ready. People line up to pick up some water and mothers pick up formula and juice. There are tears in many of their eyes. This is the first clean water they have had in several days and the formula will provide much needed food for the babies. When we are finished I am invited into a couple of the houses to visit. Everything is covered with mud, it is everywhere. There is also the smell of must. As I visit I am hearing stories of the terrible storm, of loved ones who were lost and the need to rebuild. The other thing I hear is hope and gratefulness. Everyone talks about how they will go on and how grateful that they survived the storm. Their stories are so moving that it is hard to not get emotional. Everywhere I go I get hugs from woman and children and handshakes that turn into hugs from the men. I am soon goaded into a game of soccer by some of the children. They run circles around me and their aim with the ball is amazing, while mine is just embarrassing. Soon we are off for the day. We will be there for the week and we will make similar stops several times each day while we are there. At each stop I promise I will be back.
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Over the next several years I do go back, sometimes several times during the year. I watch as these communities rebuild their homes and their lives. The first couple of years it is about rebuilding and after that it is about how to meet the needs of some of the communities. We build wells with filtration systems so that people can have clean water. We begin to build schools where young people can learn a trade. We bring teams of teens and adults who come to work and play with the people in the communities. My soccer does not improve over time. Every time I leave people thank me for everything I have done. They are no longer strangers. They are my friends. Each time I am thanked I feel like a phony. Because what they don’t know is that they have given me so much more then I gave them. And that is where I see God. Have a great Sabbath and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!
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93 Days of Discovery – Questions: God and Faith

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This week I have been asking a lot of questions and I have appreciated everyone’s input. Today I wanted to ask some questions about God and religion. Please feel free to share on my webpage and I will share some of your thoughts on Sunday during my Sabbath post. Thanks for sharing!
god questions
1) How do you know there is a God?
2) In what ways has your relationship with God change your life?
3) What is the difference between God and religion?
4) Do people of faith REALLY live out their faith? How?
5) Do you think people of faith are understood in today’s society?
questions for God
There is a place to leave comments at the bottom of the post or you can leave comments in our forum here: http://www.stephenlifecoach.com/?topic=god-questions

Thanks again for sharing. Have a great day and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

93 Days of Discovery – Questions: About You!

questions
This week I am giving everyone the opportunity to share some thoughts on various questions. Today I want to ask about what is going on in your life at the moment. Below you will find some questions to help focus the discussion. Take a moment to read thru them and then take some time to share what is going on in your life. Everything is confidential. In a couple of days I will share some of your thoughts and then add some of mine.
man questions
1) What is the hardest thing you are currently facing?
2) How do you see your future?
3) What is your biggest challenge with moving forward in your life?
4) Do you feel loved and supported?
5) What do you do to take care of yourself?
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Please feel free to share with me your feelings on these questions. I want to hear where you are at the moment. Again, everything will be confidential. Have a great day and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!

93 Days of Discovery – Facebook: Your Thoughts and Mine

On Monday I posed some questions about Facebook. Specifically I was curious about people’s feelings about the changes that they have seen in the use of Facebook as well as the good, bad and the ugly. I wanted to share some of your thoughts and conclude with some of mine.
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One person wrote to say that they no longer used Facebook. They felt that Facebook allowed people to gossip and be rude without much consequence because they never had to face the person.

Another person told me how much the enjoyed connecting with friends and seeing people’s updates. They felt closer to their friends because of the news steams.

One of my favorite comments was just three words: Complete. Communication. Platform.
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In general, the comments I received were fairly favorable about Facebook as a communication tool. Someone shared that they recently read that younger people were leaving Facebook in large numbers which has caused some concern in the offices of Facebook. Someone else suggested that the coolness factor is no longer there for young people who are moving on to the next big thing. I wanted to thank those of you who responded to my questions. It was great to hear from you all.

My thoughts…Like most things in life Facebook can be a great thing in moderation. I love the communication aspects of Facebook. I can keep in touch with friends and family and know what is going on in their lives no matter where they are in the world. Most important for me is the ability to stay connected to my daughter, son in law and grandson who live a thousand miles away. I have reconnected with long lost friends and I have been able to share some of my thoughts about life on my Life Coaching pages. It has been a great tool.
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Coolness factor aside, Facebook has some downsides to it. I am sometimes surprised at the number of game invitations I receive, the number of “Which (fill in the blank) character are you most like?” quizzes and overall the number of things that started out fun but the sheer number of which today can be overwhelming. I am sometimes shocked at the level of personal stuff that I am privy too when people decide to use Facebook as a private journal or when someone has a beef with someone else. The ease of sitting down and writing out your deepest feelings sometimes clouds the fact that Facebook is a public forum that many people can see and once out there is hard to take back. For some, I think it would be a healthy thing to turn off all social media occasionally and just connect with people.
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At one time it was exciting to receive an invitation to an event or to “like” someone’s page but there are times that those invitations get lost with the other 15 invitations I received this week which requires me to pay close attention so that I do not miss important events in friends lives. One of the questions I ask myself is: Has Facebook lost its effectiveness as a communication tool just because everyone is using it and so much gets lost in the sheer volume of information. What once was unique is now oversaturated.

Most importantly I think the downside to Facebook is that it has dehumanized the human experience. I think there are a lot of people who believe that sitting and posting and reading other peoples posts means that you are connecting. To me that is just a passive way to live life. But the reality is life is not passive but active. To really communicate with people you have to do more than just sit and type. You have to pick up the phone or grab coffee or just sit face to face with someone. To be involved in someone’s life you have to be there in person. You have to get involved. You have to get dirty. Being in community requires being involved with people thru their joys and sorrows. Facebook in some ways has created faux community and I am not sure that is the best thing.
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Facebook is a wonderful way to stay connected with people. It can be a great way to get information out and can also teach us many wonderful things. But I also think it is important to step back once in a while and make sure that life isn’t lived via a computer screen but by connecting with people in person. Take some time today and ask yourself about the amount of time you spend sitting in front of your computer. There is a whole world out there. Don’t miss it.
I once again want to thank everyone who responded. Your input was wonderful. Tomorrow I will post another question. Until then, have a great day and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!