Relationships with other human beings are just about the trickiest things we have to navigate during our time here on earth! Those relationships can be our greatest sources of joy and happiness, and at times, pain and suffering. It seems that all of us have at least one relationship (or two, or three…) that could use some healing. Just have a conversation with any one of your friends, family members or work colleagues. It seems as if someone is always complaining about someone or something someone did. I have definitely fallen into that category a few times too many these days. There just always seems to be someone, even people I totally love, who are bugging the heck out of me!
It is basic human nature to have gripes with the other people in our lives, but the whole concept of gripes and stressed relationships seems to be on steroids right now as we experience the ups and downs and uncertainty brought to us compliments of COVID-19. All our hopes and dreams for 2020 were pretty much dashed before the end of the first quarter! Everything has changed. The way we live. The way we work. The way we travel. The way we move about our communities and experience life. The way our children are educated. How could all of that not impact the quality of our relationships?
I have seen some of my closest friends at odds over politics, the handling of COVID-19 by our government, arguments over COVID-19 statistics and when our communities should re-open, and of course, the recent presidential election. More impact on our relationships!
And while we may be able to conceptually agree that it has been nice to be at home with our families so much more in 2020, I have also witnessed some familial breaking points, visa vi yelling and tears, stemming from a little too much togetherness.
How do we continue to love our friends and family when they are driving us crazy simply because they are around a little more than usual, and how to we continue to love them despite the fact that our political views are diametrically opposed?
The answer is really simple, and really difficult at the same time — Try a Little Unconditional Love.
Love is one of the best emotions we ever get to feel. So why not try to love our loved ones without condition? Meaning just love them, all the time, completely, with no strings attached. No matter what they say. No matter what they do. No matter what they fail to do. What could feel better than to just lay down your sharp and pointy weapons and simply love someone you already love?
When I was doing my coaching certification with the Life Coach School, there was a whole chapter in our certification materials on Unconditional Love. There are lots and lots of reasons people hire a coach, and seeking out a coach as a mechanism to improve relationships is pretty common.
Below are a few of the key concepts I learned that might help you in your efforts to love unconditionally:
We all have a preconceived idea in our heads, based on our experiences and beliefs, about how the other people in our lives should behave. Guess what? Those people might have a completely different idea about how they should behave and to add another layer of complication, they probably have a preconceived idea about how you should behave also. Fertile ground for problems? You bet it is. But a simple understanding that the people you love might be operating from a different set of expectations and beliefs can be powerful in understanding the other person and the reasons they fail to behave as you might like.
You have a choice in how you feel about the other people in your life (actually anything in your life). We pretend as if we have no choice in the matter when we are let down or hurt or aggravated by another person, but we always have a choice. It all starts with our thoughts. What you choose to think about another person will impact your feelings about them, and ultimately the quality of the relationship. Watch those thoughts!
This next part comes right from my Life Coach School materials. They highlight some very good questions useful to explore when experiencing suffering in a relationship:
How do you want to feel about this person?
How do you want to feel right now?
Would it feel better to like this person, or dislike this person? (Be in a good place with this person, or be at odds with this person?)
Do you know you have the option to love this person unconditionally, regardless of what they do or don’t do?
What is stopping you from unconditionally loving for your own sake?
These are powerful questions to ask yourself when it becomes difficult to unconditionally love our loved ones! Try it out when you’re struggling.
Cheers to Unconditional Love and the world it would create for all of us!
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Brace yourself because you might find this one a little bit of a bummer!
To date, my blogs have been all about life balance, conquering weight loss, and managing stress.
However, I am writing about something different today for a very important reason.
I recently posted a video declaring to the world (well, the world of Facebook, anyhow) my intention to transform the lives of women. Here’s the video if you have 7 minutes to spare and don’t mind some woman going on and on about her dreams!
I mentioned in the video how my interest in becoming a life coach and retreat leader was borne out of the tragedy of my brother’s death.
I received several messages from women who saw the video and are struggling with the loss of a family member.
One woman in particular moved me to write this blog.
I don’t know if this blog will help in anyway, but I sure hope so.
I thought of my mission to help women transform their lives in terms of setting and mastering certain high levels goals, such as overcoming fear to start a business or tackling a persistent weight loss struggle.
But how could I not be paying attention to the very thing that lead me to life coaching to begin with?
Women who are struggling with the death of a loved one, especially a child, are in need of more transformation than absolutely anyone!
This blog is specifically for each of those beautiful, loving women who continue to suffer and not live life to the fullest because they have not yet moved past grief.
I am with you one hundred percent.
I am here for you.
I am here to serve you.
I understand what you’re going through.
I once felt the pain you feel.
And today, I am a woman who can speak of my brother and his unexpected death from a complete place of neutrality.
Wait, did I just lose you?
Yes, I said I can speak of my brother’s death from a complete place of neutrality.
That doesn’t mean I don’t love him.
It doesn’t mean I don’t miss him, and wouldn’t give anything to have him back.
It simply means that my life today is about the present moment, the here and now, which is absolutely the only thing any of us ever have.
This moment only, because no future moments are ever promised.
The loved ones we lost are perfect examples of the fact that no future moments are ever promised.
For what seemed like forever, I couldn’t speak about my brother without crying.
There was life “before” his death, and life “after” his death.And the “after” part just sucked.
I would relive the morning we found him dead in the water next to his houseboat, in vivid detail, all the time, torturing myself over and over again.
What I learned is that grief is definitely a process, but we get to decide how long we dwell there.
It’s work, and we will have our ups and downs, but it is all within our control.
I had two turning points in my journey of processing and accepting my brother’s death that I wanted to share.
First, I attended a retreat for the purpose of helping move myself beyond my grief.
I put this in the “I got help” category.
The retreat I attended was one year after his death, when I found myself feeling worse instead of better.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I started to move beyond my grief at that point because I became excited about my own future again.
I started dreaming of becoming a life coach and retreat leader, and how powerful and impactful that could be.
My focus was shifting away from the tragedy and to my own future, and the excitement and enthusiasm that was building as a result of that shift was so very healing.
If the mind is always focused on the past and pain from the past, the present moment is not enjoyed.
And the future.Forget about it.No one is thinking about the future when they are in grief.They are 100% in the past.
As I said, the present moment is all we ever really have.
If you are not focused on the present, you miss out on enjoying all those wonderful people in your life who are still here.
I was headed in the right direction after the retreat, but I still continued to suffer a bit about my brother’s death.
Healing is a journey, and it has “fits and starts” until you reach the final destination.
The second turning point in my journey was during my training to be a life coach with the Life Coach School.
I had the honor of being coached directly by Brooke Castillo, the founder of the Life Coach School.
She’s a total rock star in every possible way, and an inspiration to me and example of what is possible as I attempt to become even half the life coach and entrepreneur she is.
She asked me what I wanted to be coached on, and I said my brother’s death and moving completely past my grief.
She asked me to tell her about it.
What I conveyed were a stream of my “thoughts,” which at the time I thought for sure were “facts.”
I had been thinking those thoughts with such regularity that they had become my beliefs.
He should still be here.
Life will never be the same without him.
His death was the worst thing that ever happened to our family.
I feel guilty about enjoying my life since he didn’t have his anymore.
I felt guilty about all the things in retrospect I felt I should have done differently in our relationship.
I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of being the only child of two aging parents.
Of course, all of that was just in my mind.
And my thoughts were delivering exactly the quality of life you would expect. It sucked!
For anyone reading this blog who is grieving the loss of loved one, I invite you to look at your life with the death of your loved one as a dividing line:
There was life before the death of your loved one.
And now there is life after the death of your loved one.
But there’s more, I don’t mean that in the way I initially mentioned. The part where life sucks in the “after” part.
New perspective, and I don’t mean this to sound cold in the slightest, but the past only exists in our minds.
Life before the death of your loved one is the past and it only exists in your mind.
The circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one are also in the past.
And everything we think about their death gives us a feeling, which drives our actions, and the results and quality of life we get naturally follows.
The past should only serve as information and guidance for the present.
Information and guidance (and maybe some fond memories) are the only value we can ever really get from the past. So why would we spend too much time there? Because our mind (our ego) tells us we have to for one reason or another.
Wouldn’t we be a bad mother or sister if we stopped thinking about it?
Wouldn’t we be an uncaring person?
Would other people judge us?
So instead, use those “I wish I could have’s” to treat the people in your life now with unconditional love.
Don’t tell yourself you’ll never be happy again! Because guess what? You absolutely won’t be happy again if that’s what you’re thinking.
And who says he should still be here?
Whoa. But yes, that’s what Brooke Castillo said to me.
No one is guaranteed anything in terms of time, and people die all the time before we think they should.
The past is the past, and our beloved loved ones are now a part of our past.
To the extent the tragedy surrounding someone’s death remains alive, it is only done so in our minds.
Yes, I said those things twice because they are THAT important.
How can you elevate beyond your grief?
I invite you to explore whether it would be ok for you to start thinking of your life “in the now” and prospectively with an eye to the future now that your loved one is gone.
Which is more likely to lead to a happy life for you?Continuing to dwell on the circumstances of your loved one’s death and your unthinkable loss, or developing an exciting plan for the next chapter of your life? You know the answer.
Do you want to be happy?I hope so.
Would your loved one think it was simply awesome for you to find happiness?I’m sure of it.
I know my brother would.
I know without a doubt he is loving absolutely everything I am doing with my life right now, and totally supporting me from afar.
There are stages of grief, and they are completely normal and part of the process of healing, but please be sure you are moving through them.
Give yourself a break when you’re feeling lousy.It’s exactly what happens and I’d probably be more worried about you if you didn’t feel lousy at times. But don’t feel lousy all the darn time. Don’t make loss and feeling lousy your identity.Don’t make it your way of life.Make it part of the process that you are moving through, and will get through.
Seek counseling or join a bereavement group if necessary, and a life coach, especially one trained and certified by the Life Coach School, can be a great ally in grief process by showing you where your mind and thoughts are holding you back from working your way through the process. When you get to the point when you are really ready to start looking forward to the next chapter of your life with excitement and enthusiasm, working with a life coach is an excellent way to get started on that dream building in a supportive setting.
For now, I urge you to give yourself the gift to start thinking (dreaming even) about what the next chapter of your life can be like.I don’t even know you, but I’m telling you it can be wonderful, even though you lost someone you love. And you deserve incredible things to come your way after everything you have been through.
You won’t ever have your loved one back in flesh and bone form, but you can honor them with everything you do going forward.
My heart is with every single person who has lost someone they love and are still grieving.
Make that loss the inspiration to pivot your life to even better things!That’s what I am doing. I still miss my brother, but I am ten times happier right now than I ever was during his lifetime.
I hope the same for you.
To learn more about Hanley Coaching and our retreat and coaching offerings, please visit our website at https://hanleycoaching.com, or sign up for a complimentary mini-session by clicking on the calendar button below.