Category: Relationships

Recognizing Our Patterns and Learning How to Change Them

Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Maria Cristina McDonald

“What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher.” ~Chuck Palahniuk

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons. When there is something you need to learn, something that you need to work on, the same situation will continue to repeat itself until you either learn your lesson or find a healthy way of dealing with that particular issue.

Think of the movie Groundhog Day. It was one of my favorites. Once Bill Murray realized that he was living the same day over and over again, he came up with ways to fix the things that went wrong before.

He learned how to fix the relationship with the object of his affection. He even learned to deal better with the annoying insurance salesman who approached him every morning.

It wasn’t until he learned to accept his fate that the cycle of reliving each day ended. He also became more compassionate and more sympathetic—an overall better version of himself.

I hear people say: Why do I keep going through the same things in relationships? I’m with different people, but things always end up being the same, or they act just like someone who I used to know.

Some of these people give up, some get stuck in a vicious cycle of their own making, and others don’t even realize that they are basically chasing their tail, repeating the same situation over and over.

Recently, I found myself in a pattern of attraction. It took some time for me to understand it. I had a hard time coming to terms with my divorce, and for years I wanted a second chance in that area of my life. A new start. A new marriage.

Only problem was that when I did come across someone I liked, he was unavailable—already in a relationship or emotionally unavailable to me, and therefore, unwilling to participate in a relationship with me.

I went through a period of time when the only guys who asked me out were either married or in a relationship of some type, live-in or on-and-off with a current girlfriend.

Instead of pursuing those situations (for obvious reasons) I would instead go for the single, yet emotionally unavailable guy. And I would try to win him over, to no avail, trying to prove that I was “good enough.”

It wasn’t until recently that I had an “a ha” moment, in which I realized that the critic I was trying to “prove myself” to was not someone else. It was me—the inner critic who still had not come to terms with the dissolution of my marriage and considered it a complete failure.

My thought process was: If I could turn this person around or make this person change his mind and love me, then I would be worthy of love.

It was an erroneous way of thinking. Had I not done the emotional self reflection I would probably still be in a pattern of trying to win someone’s love, or what I like to call chasing my own tail and going around in circles.

A good question to ask is: Am I reliving the same scene, over and over again? What’s my part in that?

It might not be in relationships, but in different situations, like at work for example, when the same issue comes up disguised. If you work with the public it could be the same issue with different customers, until you find a way to deal with it or until you learn the lesson.

While working with the public, I have noticed times when every single person I come across is upset, angry, or annoyed, and at first I would react in a similar way. We are all mirrors of ourselves.

After a number of people with the same, or similar issue, came up to me, I started to try to find different ways to resolve the problems—for example, not taking things personally and showing empathy to the person I was helping.

Around that time in my life a pattern, or lesson, I was in could be described as: How to stop taking things personally and how to view problems as opportunities.

Had I not experienced the same problems with customers and made the necessary changes, I would possibly still be in the process of learning that lesson.

I’m still working on this; some lessons take longer than others. Instead of reacting to situations, when something comes up and seems familiar, I try to stand back—if even for a second—to think.

For a while it will seem like coincidences playing out, but over time the pattern of your lesson will come up. This is the lesson you need to learn at this time.

It could be a lesson in humility, or a lesson in gratitude, or maybe you may need to learn empathy to see things from the other person’s point of view.

Instead of reacting all the time, every time something challenging comes up it could be an opportunity to learn.

One lesson I’ve needed to learn recently can be summarized with a Shakespeare quote:

“To thine own self be true.”

I’m realizing that, no matter what other people say, do, or think about us, it is our opinions of ourselves that really matter. And, when making decisions, sometimes it is good to question our own intentions. Think: What am I doing here? Or what am I up to?

Ultimately the question I’ve needed to ask myself is: Am I being completely honest with myself? What is the particular reason why I’m scared of change?

There are times when opportunities have come up for me to change my residence, or my place of employment, or even my car, and I haven’t seized those possibilities. I’ve stayed in place. Why?

One particular opportunity entailed moving out of my city to live closer to my family. My family members have offered to help with an out-of-state move, including offering me a place to stay with my children. But still, I haven’t.

I’m still here.

When I started being honest with myself, I realized that this fear of change was a big issue for me. I needed to handle it because, if I did not, situations would continue to come up where I was forced by circumstances to make a decision involving a change.

I learned that not making a decision is in itself a decision—and that my fear of change was actually a fear of failure. That was when I noticed the pattern of things breaking, or circumstances changing, forcing me to deal with my inability to make decisions.

Find your pattern. Find your lesson.

A good way of recognizing patterns in your life is by listening to your feelings, your intuition. I’ve found that when I am involved in a pattern, my emotions run a bit stronger, kind of like a warning from my subconscious mind to pay attention to what’s happening.

More often than not, I recognize the pattern when the situation has ended, or changed. Hindsight is 20/20 in this way. It can be difficult to recognize a pattern while it’s playing out. So, usually we realize what happened afterward. And that is okay.

In turn, life will continue to send us ways to overcome our patterns and learn our individual lessons.

The key is to be alert. When you’re open to recognizing a pattern, you can change it by learning the lesson, and in doing so, change your life

I find this post to be most insightful and interesting. I believe we all have something to learn from one another as well as within outselves. If you have a question or would like to submit a topic please email me at


5 Steps to Let Go of Anger for a Happier Life

Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Alden Tan

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” ~Albert Einstein

Hi. My name is Alden, and I’m an angry guy. I’m 26 years old.

Anger has always been an issue for me. I hate the feeling of being angry, especially for no particular reason.

It feels like it’s eating me up from the inside out.

It can get so bad sometimes that I can get pissed off while I’m alone in my room, just blogging or surfing the net, whenever a negative thought passes through my head.

Anger makes me feel upset with myself. I wonder why that I, a grown adult, still have to deal with issues that have been around since my high school days.

Am I still as immature as I was then? Why is it so hard to let go?

Some Angry Milestones

These are some of the events that made me angry with life:

My dad passed away when I was 20—from an incurable disease. Someone I grew up with was taken away suddenly. I still feel pissed with the world.

An ex-girlfriend cheated on me—with a guy with a bad reputation. It felt like an insult to me.

A friend who I was very close with betrayed me. He accused me of something he messed up himself. Years of friendship went down the drain. I never felt such disgust for a single person before.

I got punched in the eye once—by this guy in a club. I won’t go into it, but I didn’t think I did anything wrong.

These are only the major events of my life. I also get angry with other things in life, like a late bus or rude people.

Anger has been always one of my greatest challenges. Sometimes it feels like I need to get it all out, once and for all, but I don’t want to end up like some people who act rashly, by getting into fights, for example.

If you’re reading this, you might be like me. You’re very aware of a problem you have and you want a way out of it.

I’m sharing this now because I’ve worked on it for a long time and I hope it can help you do the same.

I can’t say I have it all under perfect control, but I’ve learned a few ways to tame that angry monster inside:

1. Replace a negative thought with an awesome one.

More often than not, it’s a negative thought derived from a bad memory that makes me upset, instantly.

As stated, this is where you should replace the bad thought with an awesome thought.

Don’t even approach the bad thought.

Don’t try to rationalize it.

Don’t even think about it.

The way I see it, any of the above is a passive reaction to the negative thought, hence making you feel the negative feelings that follow, which isn’t helping you at all.

So, replace the negative thought on the spot.

Just think of something you like. It could be a fond memory in the past or something you really want in the future.

I personally like to go crazy with my imagination and come up with amazing scenarios, like when I’m listening to a song I like, I imagine myself singing it in my own music video.

Sometimes distraction is a good approach, if it’s something you’ve already dealt with but keep rehashing in your head. Watch TV, listen to music, read something, or just go out. It helps.

2. Let it all out in cliché manners.

You know something?

The clichés work.

Every tip you can find in blogs, magazines, or the newspaper work.

You just have to apply yourself and try it out.

Screaming onto your pillow actually makes you feel like you released a ton of emotions that are trying to get out.

Writing an angry letter to the person you bear a grudge against allows you to clearly articulate your feelings. Just make sure you don’t send it.

Exercising really helps with anger too. Sweating it out and letting the adrenaline take over your body can clear just about anything.

I know how it is when you feel angry and then listen to advice that you doubt will help your situation. It feels like nobody out there can fully empathize with how you feel, so who are they to talk, right?

I can empathize, and I promise that if you give it a shot, you’ll be surprised with the results.

3. Surround yourself with positive people.

Anger is a personal issue for everyone.

But unfortunately, some people around you cannot fully understand what you go through.

I find that most people feel angry because of their surroundings.

You hang out with supposed friends who make condescending remarks at you, but you don’t think you should do anything about because you don’t want to come across as petty.

You have a really dysfunctional office environment, filled with shady colleagues and a controlling boss.

Do these things sound familiar to you?

The problem is, people think they are “stuck” or they absolutely “must” be with such people because of their circumstances.

I say otherwise.

Make the conscious effort to surround yourself with people you can look up to and talk to. It won’t always be easy—if you need to look for a new job, for example—but it’s worth the time and effort.

Our surroundings influence our mood in a major way. So instead of focusing solely on addressing your inner anger, also address the external factors that trigger it.

4. Make caring for yourself a priority.

I used to be a lot angrier before my dad’s passing.

Sounds contradictory? Continue reading.

You see, as I grew up, I always did the “right thing.”

I never talked back to people who insulted me to my face. I walked away from fights. I held back a lot of my emotions.

But as a result of doing all the “right” things, I went home feeling angry with myself.

When my father died, it just hit me there and then, “I did so much for people around me, and yet this still happened.”

My biggest takeaway from my father’s death was that you have to live life to the fullest, and sometimes, if not all the time, it’s okay to take care of yourself more than anything in this world.

I’ve fallen out with friends who kept insulting me.

I now actively make the choices that suit me, even if others disagree. (For example, I may not even go to a gathering when I know someone I dislike is there.)

I even quit my job to be a full-time blogger, much to the surprise of my friends.

Caring for myself more has allowed me to truly express myself and not hold back any longer. The anger has subsided a lot as I don’t have to look back and ask, “What if?”

Your life is your own. And life is short.

If you feel anger taking control, let it go by caring for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It is by being yourself that you can fully realize the life you’re meant to live, and anger has no part in that.

5. Decide you don’t want to add to the hate in this world.

When I feel angry sometimes I have crazy ideas of seeking justice, of finding my wrongdoers and letting them have it once and for all.

But I don’t act on it because I don’t want to add on to the crap in this world.

Let it go, not just for a better future, but also because you’re a good person. And a good person isn’t angry most of the time. Instead, he sees beauty in the world and strives for a positive life, in which others around him can be inspired too.

Choose to let go of your anger so you can be that person.

There are many other positive emotions you can enjoy when you make the effort to let go of your anger.

My mom asked me if I thought it was normal to find another companion at her age, or if she should just settle. She been alone since she was 30 so she’s used to it, and I didn’t really know what to tell her.


Love has no age limit, nor boundaries. If she is ready and willing to be patient it will be worth her 20 years of waiting 🙂 Be supportive and tell her that she deserves to be loved just like everyone else.

*If you have a question or would like to submit a topic please email me at


4 Tips to Feel Less Stressed About the Uncertain


Editor’s Note: This is a contribution by Dr. Amy Johnson

“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” ~Tony Robbins

“Uncertainty” may be one of the least popular places to hang out.

I hear this all the time from my clients, friends, and truth be told, from the voice inside my own head. Certainty is almost always preferable to uncertainty. Humans like to know.

I wanted to know when our house was on the market last year. Would it sell? When would it sell? How much would we get? Should we start packing up closets now, or wait until the offers start rolling in?

I found it difficult to be in the moment with all of that uncertainty swirling around. It felt so difficult, in fact, that I found myself creating action steps that were not yet necessary—such as packing up closets—in an attempt to distract myself from the uncertainty-induced anxiety I didn’t want to feel.

Similarly, I really wanted to know when I was forming my business a few years ago.

Rather than revel in the excitement of the unknown, I wanted certainty. I wanted to know what it would look like in one year and in ten years. Where would my clients come from? What would my days feel like? I wanted to know exactly how everything would fall into place.

Mostly, I wanted a guarantee that it would “work” the way I hoped it would. Faith wasn’t going to cut it. The thrill of anticipation? No, thank you.

I had no interest in fuzzy details or that wide open place where you’re not sure what’s happening but anything is possible. I would have taken certainty any day of the week.

Wide open views and unlimited possibilities aren’t all they are cracked up to be.

Most of us, it seems, want to know. We want to know where we’ll live, what our next career will look like, and how it will all go down.

It almost doesn’t matter if what we know is accurate, beneficial, or true.

We aren’t searching for truth or clarity or insight as much as we’re simply searching for something reliable to grab ahold of.

But the more I’ve worked to foster inner peace and the more I’ve tested the… read more here

Should I stay or should I go? I’ve been with my girlfriend for 2 years and I do love her. She married a dude when she was only 17 and stayed in a marriage from hell with the guy for 19 years before she filed for a divorce. She’s was single for 4 years before we got together. For 2 whole years I have had to deal with trust issues and insecurity issues from her,I am not doing anything to call for this, I have been the perfect man but her issues due to her past is making it very difficult for me, and I have never had to or been faced with anything like this in any relationship I have had before. She sometimes doesn’t express her anger without including rude comments that often upset me as well, but we always end up talking and ironing out whatever the problem is. She does work,cook,clean and take care of home,yes we live together. At this point IDK what I should do we’ve been living together for 2 years as a couple and she always promises to get some kind of therapy but hasn’t done it yet, I do feel like I want to help her get better as a person because I love her,but sometimes I think that maybe this is too much for me to be trying to take on. What do you think?

Sometimes we are matched up with people to help us learn and both grow. I would ask her to chat with you about this. It’s a serious concern and it’s obvious that she has been putting it off. We never want to deal with our problems head on unless we have no choice in the matter. I would let her know that you love and care for her however that it’s not fair to you nor the future and health of your relationship to continue down this path and that something has to change. You need to set a timeline for yourself and her, I’m not saying this has to change overnight but something that you feel is reasonable for things to really change. We all have baggage and history but it’s what we decide to do with it that makes the difference. She can hold on to it and carry it around and keep everyone at a distance and lose you. Or she can own up that it’s her own insecurity and that she can keep the lesson but not hold on to all the pain and mistrust. Sometimes we have to make a choice for ourselves that ultimately is a choice for the relationship. If she is ready she will do it, if not then she won’t you just need to decide if this is something you want to live with the rest of your life? And given this inquiry my guess is you’re getting a little fed up with it. So set a timeline to yourself for it to resolve or at least for it to resolve to a certain degree. We all have our moments but it’s different when it infringes on those that we care about most. Good luck!

❤ IT!


Don’t Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out:
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not…

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I do not wish to create a political debate but at the same time I do believe it best to state my opinions just as much as everyone else does. When I was very young my mother always taught me to follow the golden rule. It’s simple, it’s basic, yet it’s powerful and can be applied to all things. And of course in this case it is no different. I respect that other people may practice their religions or their view points. I have no problem with this and if this is your truth whatever it may be then that is what is right for you. Because we are all individuals, we all crave two things at the end of the day regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and that is love and acceptance. True love and acceptance is a rarity because we all at some point have become jaded to some degree with the poisons of those who do not understand or are fearful of the unknown. We do not understand what we are not willing to know or be open to. I respect Todd’s opinion and know that acceptance is a two way street. However at the same time I do not think it fair to say that “gay marriage” is “wrong”. This is from an excerpt that he includes and he does later mention  ‘ Nietszche said “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” ‘ And I believe that Nietszche was on to something that many of us forget. No one is ever truly right…but at the same token I believe that we must strive for what is right for us as individuals and accept that we will not always agree. And also realize that we all have our own path and our own pace in life.  For most of my life I have been great friends with people who just happen to be “homosexual”. But it’s funny to me because I never called them nor thought of them as specifically being “that”. I just think of them are wonderful and fun people that happen to prefer the same sex. And who knows you could even take it a step further and think of it as they have the capacity to love all regardless of sex.  And to me, why and how would that affect my life… It doesn’t, never has, and never will. I prefer to surround myself with honest, loving, and good hearted people. And if that is what you are then we will get along. That’s it, plain and simple.  I’ll take it a step further, what if I am liberal and don’t want to be friends with democrats nor republicians? Well…then I’ve just cut myself off from people who might be smart, witty, fun, interesting, or that might make the perfect friend. It’s the same for people whom fear homosexuality, political affliation, race, etc. By allowing ourselves to either ignore these “types” of people or by singling them out we are projecting our own fears onto others. And fear comes from a lack of understanding and a degree of ignorance. Todd I believe that you should attend your brother-in-laws reception because you love him despite the fact that he may love someone else that is of the same sex. And because you feel the way you do about the event who’s to say that he did not invite you both to the wedding out of respect to your view point but wanted you to be included so instead he opted for the reception only?  This shouldn’t be about supporting just your wife, it’s about supporting someone you love regardless if you don’t always agree. And who knows you might get to know his partner and find out why he’s so smitten.  🙂 We all, myself included, need to learn that we are all human we all live, learn, and love in whatever ways work best for us, and we all have the capacity to love, accept, and respect one another, but the choice to do so is ours alone.


Bright, shiny objects!

This is a tough issue for me brought on by an upcoming event in our family. My gay brother-in-law is getting joined in a civil union — sorry, but I can’t quite bring myself to use the word ‘married’ yet — and we have been invited to the reception, not the ceremony. I have mixed feelings about this event;  I don’t know if I can really ‘celebrate’ it but I’m thinking about going to support my wife. In the past, I would have refused to attend on principle but as a recovering conservative Christianliving in the gray‘ I am considering input from all sides. Recently, John Piper posted this Christian conservative perspective on relating to gay family members…

Is there hope for a relationship with a family member who is not a believer and is in a same-sex relationship, and who knows your Christian position?


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The quickest and surest way to get fired as an FBI agent is to lie. Proven lack of candor is automatic dismissal—truth is a precious commodity in an organization whose primary purpose is peeling back layers of deceit to expose cold, hard facts.

A Woman Writing Notes in Her Journal - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #3584474

Many of us have a love/hate relationship with truth. We tell ourselves we want to know the truth, but we’re very selective about the kind of truth we seek. About others, yes—and usually about world events and situations that impact us directly, but we are less receptive to revelations about ourselves.


In fact, self-knowledge is a two-edged sword because we might find out something about ourselves that we would rather not know. We’ve carefully packaged ourselves to look and act in a manner that ensures success in the world. Our ego has dressed us up for so long that many of us don’t even know how to begin to peel back the layers of illusion to expose cold, hard facts about ourselves.

Read more here…

I have to say is an excellent source of knowledge on personal growth and grounding energy. This was WAY to good not to share! If half of the population took these into account just imagine what a world of difference this could make!


20 Ways to Show You Care w/out Expecting Something in Return

1. Give money you can spare to someone who needs it and then pretend you never had it.

2. Let someone tell a story without feeling the need to one-up them or tell your own.

3. Let someone vent, even if you can’t offer a solution, just to be an ear—without considering how well they listened to you last week.

4. Help someone who is struggling with difficult feelings by admitting you’ve felt the same thing—without considering whether they’d be as open with you.

5. Ask, “What can I do to help you today?” Then let it go after following through.

6. Tell someone how you feel about them, even if it makes you feel vulnerable, just to let them know they’re loved and not alone.

7. Apologize when you’ve acted selfishly, even if you don’t like feeling wrong, because it will remind the other person they deserve to be treated with respect.

8. Let someone else educate you, even if you’re tempted to stay closed minded, because you value their knowledge and appreciate their willingness to share it.

9. Forgive someone who wronged you because you have compassion for them, not because you know they’ll owe you.

10. Hold someone’s hand when they feel vulnerable to let them know you haven’t judged them.

11. Give your full attention to the person in front of you when you’re tempted to let your thoughts wander just to show them their words are valuable.

12. Assume the best when you’re tempted to suspect someone for no valid reason—even if they haven’t always given you the benefit of the doubt.

13. Accompany someone to an appointment or drive them to an interview when they need support just to help them feel strong.

14. Change your plans for someone you love if yours weren’t too important without questioning whether they’d do the same for you.

15. Teach someone how to do something without taking a superior position because they’ve likely taught you many things, whether they were obvious or not.

16. Leave a thoughtful comment on someone’s blog, not to build your readership but rather to show them how they affected you.

17. Tell someone you believe in their potential, even if they haven’t always shown you the same support.

18. Say no when it would make you feel good to say yes, because sometimes being kind means pushing someone to step up and try harder.

19. Tell someone you know they meant well instead of using their mistake as an opportunity to manipulate their guilt.

20. I’ve left this one open for you to write. How do you give just to show you care?

Read more here

*If you have a question or would like to submit a topic please email me at