The Art Of Intimacy
Featured Article from a Previous Newsletter
The value of the personal relationship to all things is that it creates intimacy
and intimacy creates understanding and understanding creates love.
- Anais Nin
Have a Change Your Perspective New Year (from December 2006)
Have you ever had the experience of sitting in a room you have sat in many times, but changing your seat- and suddenly having a whole different sense of that environment? Perhaps you have taken a different way to a familiar destination and realized that you had never noticed some of the interesting architecture, landmarks or other unique sights that had always been there.
Doing the same old thing differently can give you a new perspective- which can have a subtle, yet profound impact on not only what you see, but how you feel. Take the winter holidays, for instance. By these, I mean everything you observe from November through New years. So much emphasis is placed on rituals and tradition, which can be lovely and help to ground us. However as the years go by and everything else in your life changes, these can become a rut- that is worn deeper with each passing season.
For many singles who are not in relationships, the holidays can be like a minefield, that they must carefully negotiate before they can finally exhale on the second of January. Plans are often made by rote, year after year, which reinforces that often heard lament, "Nothing ever changes." It seems that even considering breaking out of an old pattern would be too radical and could possibly lead to a greater sense of alienation.
If you have been living in a rut for too long, I'd like to challenge you to begin making small changes TODAY that could result in a whole new outlook and greater personal fulfillment and success in the coming year.
In order to help you get started, I am offering the following "change your perspective tips." Use them as a guideline and keep in mind that baby steps are what lead to successive levels of readiness, confidence and healthy risk taking – and these are at the foundation of all growth.
Take a brief inventory of the major stressors in your life. This should include finances, work, activities of daily living and personal relationships. Next, pick the top three things for each that is creating the greatest emotional burden. Lastly, list three ways that you can simplify or modify each one, or let something go that is adding unnecessary weight to your load.
For instance, if you are spending a great deal of time worrying about your finances, yet feel unable to do anything to change them- consider starting from scratch with a simple budget. Write down your critical monthly expenses and then make a separate list of all your "extras." Now consider what can you cut back on or slash completely? Perhaps you are wasting money on something that brings you little in return, yet you haven't stepped back enough to see the big picture. With a little creativity, anything from your clothing allowance to take out food or those frequent trips to Starbucks could be modified- and leave you with not only the same level of satisfaction, but more money in the bank for that trip or home purchase you would like to make this year. Who knows, you could also end up with a slimmer and healthier physique and greater energy to pursue new leisure and other personal interests.
Pick one small goal that you have had for a long time and make a list of anything and everything that comes to mind that could positively impact your achieving this one goal.
Let's say you want to establish a regular workout routine, but have never had real success with this. What small changes could help you achieve this? Perhaps you need to alter your work schedule in order to carve out the best time of day for YOU to work out. Your biorhythms may have interfered with your past goal of an early morning work out- so why not do it at lunchtime or right after work? Perhaps you have been unable to motivate yourself to go for that daily walk or do a home routine, even though you have the necessary equipment at hand. Consider asking a friend to work out with you or hiring a personal trainer for even a few sessions to get you started by coming up with something that is tailored to your specific needs and strengths.
Spend at least a week cleaning out your personal space at home. For instance, how long has it been since you went through your clothes closet? If you can't even remember or have been living with things strewn around the room or stuffed into every corner- now is a great time to get started. Make four piles as you sort. These will be the things you wear that are in great shape, the things you love but haven't worn because they need cleaning and/or repair, the clothes that have gone out of style, don't fit or just aren't anything you ever will wear and those things that are beyond hope and need to be thrown out. Once you have emptied and sorted, you can make those trips to the dry cleaners, tailor and Salvation Army. Consider investing in some new hangers, shelving or anything that will help you to improve this space and not only help keep your clothes organized and accessible- but also give them a greater life. Give yourself plenty of time by taking a lazy day (New Years?) when you don't have any other obligations pulling at you. Do it in your pajamas, accompanied by a few cups of coffee or tea and then consider treating yourself to a nice dinner or time out with a friend in the early evening. Just think about all the angst and extra time looking for something to wear that you can bank for leisure or handling other things.
You can use this same approach in every room in the house. Who knows, once you are done you may end up with some energy and time to tackle that redecorating you have never been able to get to.
Consider how you can simplify your chores, errands and any tasks related to daily living.
Who says you have to clean your whole house all at once, once a week? Why does Saturday have to be taken up with errands, trips to the grocery store and other thins you could fit into before and after work hours?
Consider cleaning your home one closet, corner or room at a time. Only have a half hour? Consider cleaning the bathroom. The bedroom can wait till tomorrow. Do you have a dry cleaner, drugstore and grocery store on the way to and from work? Why not drop your dry cleaning off in the morning or get your grocery shopping done on the way home from work, happy hour or the gym? Have you list ready and use the time when things are close and convenient. Then you can have a lazy day on Saturday or take that cooking class, tennis lessons or pursue any of the many things you feel you just don't have time for.
Reflect on your friendships and your overall satisfaction with your social network and social supports.
Do you have a "friend" who weighs you down with a negative attitude, frequently making, then breaking commitments or perhaps unloading all his or her problems on you while making light of yours as they interrupt your need to be heard from time to time? Perhaps you have a number of old friends who have moved into a different lifestyle with marriage and children or you have lost touch with people over the years, resulting in a very small or nonexistent social life. If any of these apply, come up with one thing you could do to make a new friend or join a new social network. Perhaps you could get involved in a civic activity or neighborhood group. Maybe there is a group for singles at a local church or synagogue. Or consider signing up for that adult sports league you have been eyeing but have not been able to find time for. There are worlds within worlds all around you. Look deeper or differently- and you may experience something like Alice did when she went through the looking glass.
Choose at least two times each day that you can take a "mental health" break. There is nothing like quiet and stillness to center us and help us to see what we can't when we are running through life, focused only on getting to some end point.
When we are centered, life takes on clarity and many things that seem complicated and irresolvable can suddenly appear very different. Find a quiet spot, and with a cup of something warm and soothing -sit and visualize some of your dreams. If music speaks to your soul, put on a favorite CD, close your eyes and let your mind play in a world of imagination where dreams can come true.
Resolutions are great things to set and strive for. However, unless you want to continue in a cycle of making, but never achieving them- begin by changing your view and seeing the world anew.
Want to read other articles on this subject?
Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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