Tag Archives: Boundaries

Top Ten Tuesday: Helpful Nonfiction Books About Relationships

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

 

Rose petals being shot through the air in the shape of a few different hearts. This is happening in a desert area. Happy early Valentine’s Day to everyone to celebrates it!

I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I do have a short list of helpful nonfiction books about creating better relationships, whether they’re with friends, romantic partners, family members, or other people you know.

Yes, some of the information in some of them is specifically written for certain types of relationships like a romance or dealing with a pushy mother-in-law, but the principles in them can be applied to many other situations as well.

Some of these books were written for specific groups like Christians or people who are polyamorous. I encourage you to check them all out even if those specific labels don’t apply to you. Just like with the different types of relationships, there are far more similarities between these groups than you might originally think. We’re all human, after all!

I mean, every relationship should include things like clear communication, setting boundaries, compromising, kindly handling conflict, and giving/receiving emotional support no matter who you are, how you identify, or whether the person you’d like to get along with better is your spouse, best friend, mother-in-law, or coworker.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman book cover. Image on cover shows a couple embracing on a beach as the sun sets behind them.

1. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman

What I Like About It: Not everyone values the same methods of showing affection. I think there’s something to be said for figuring out what makes people feel appreciated and doing those things as much as you can.

 

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud book cover. Image on cover shows a red pencil drawing a line on a plain white sheet of paper.

2. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud

What I Like About It: Setting boundaries can be tricky for me sometimes, but it’s important for every type of relationship. This book is filled with examples of how to figure out what you can offer someone and how to say no to the rest. It was also cool to see what specific phrases they recommended for people who have trouble saying no.

 

The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention, and Survival by Kathy Labriola, Dossie Easton book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of a gold leaf on a blue plant.

3. The Polyamory Breakup Book: Causes, Prevention, and Survival by Kathy Labriola, Dossie Easton

What I Like About It: I believe that we should all be methodical about who we invite into our inner circles and move slowly when dating, making new friends, or even deciding where we’d like to work (if possible).  This book goes beyond picking out red flags for more obvious things like abuse and encourages the audience to figure out exactly what we want out of all of our relationships and who we are (and aren’t) compatible with.

You can prevent a lot of heartache if you move slowly in the beginning of any sort of relationship and pay close attention to how you are (or aren’t) matching up with your potential romantic parter or friend.

I also loved what it had to say about gracefully ending relationships that aren’t working for whatever reason. There’s no need to demonize anyone if you find that you’re not actually compatible with them. Some relationships simply weren’t meant to last, and that’s okay.

 

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine book cover. Image on cover shows two magnets being drawn to each other.

4. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine

What I Like About It: While attachment styles can be changed with time and hard work, they are part of figuring out compatibility for many different types of relationships and learning how to communicate better.

For example, I tend to have a bit of an anxious attachment style, so I know that people with avoidant attachment styles are not a good fit for me at all. (Although I do wish them the best!)

 

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman book cover. There is no image on this cover. It’s just blue and red background.

 

5. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

What I Like About It: Emotional intelligence matters in every sort of relationship we have as human beings. There are ways to approach difficult subjects that can make it much easier to discuss and hopefully resolve. A harsh phrasing of the same sentiment might lead to nothing but an argument that goes nowhere.

Which books would all of you add to this list?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Worst Advice I’ve Ever Received

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

I have a relative who isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box and who often speaks before they think. They have known about my milk allergy for 17 years, and yet we’ve had versions of this conversation over and over again.

“This is delicious. You should try this <food that is overflowing with milk ingredients>, Lydia!”

“No, thanks. You know I’m allergic to milk, Relative, and that food is filled with it.”

“Oh, a little bite won’t hurt you. You should take a break.”

“Yeah, that’s not how allergies work.”

“But it’s just one bite!”

Photo of a person's face half-covered in shadow. Their eyes are visible. The words "what part of no don't you understand" is written on the bottom half of their face.Needless to say, pressuring someone to eat something you know will make them ill is awful advice.

In case anyone is concerned, I stopped eating or drinking anything this relative offered to me many years ago unless I’ve personally removed it from it’s factory-sealed package and can double-check the ingredients to make sure that a little bite is, indeed, safe for me.

And, yes, they have had allergies explained to them in many different ways at multiple times by a wide variety of folks, This isn’t a case of an otherwise reasonable person accidentally mistaking allergies for a mild food intolerance or simply disliking a certain ingredient. I’m understanding of genuine errors like that.

My relative has been given all of the medical facts about how allergies work and why repeated exposures can lead to life-threatening emergencies with no advance warning even if all of your previous reactions were mild enough to be treated at home.

Their illogical refusal to listen is one of many reasons why this person and I are rarely in the same vicinity and why I always keep my guard up and my allergy meds close by when I must be around them.

On a positive note, it does make for a funny story now that I have some emotional distance from those experiences and that person. Can you imagine how much easier life would be if we could all just “take a break” from any medical conditions we may have whenever it’s inconvenient or we feel like it? If only!

Why You Should Commit to Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution Today

top view of person holding a red and white striped umbrella and walking on a thick layer of snow. Only their footprints and shadow are visible, not the person themselves.I find it interesting how we are all encouraged to over-indulge during multiple holidays from October to December only to be bombarded with weight loss and fitness ads come January 1.

To me, it makes so much more sense to continue on with the same healthy habits I follow the other nine months of the year and to build new ones than to throw everything out of the window between Canadian Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

I still have treats, and there are days when all of my exercise comes in the form of long – or even not so long – walks. With that being said, I do my best to stick to my regular habits as much as possible no matter what the date on the calendar says and to start my New Year’s Resolution a few weeks ahead of time for the following reasons.

Building Habits Takes Time

scrabble bricks that spell out the word "resolutions." Any lifestyle change takes time not only to turn into a habit but to preserve as a normal part of one’s routines.

Starting (or continuing) now will give you a head start on everyone making similar resolutions in a few weeks.

I don’t know about all of you, but I find it easier to stick to small changes in my daily habits if I begin them a few weeks before everyone starts talking about what they want to change about themselves or their lives in the new year.

Fitness isn’t a competition, but there’s something motivating about starting early to me. I like the feeling of already settling into the rhythm of a new habit before it becomes a common topic of conversation in my social circles. It’s not about winning. It’s about having the self-discipline to think about these things in advance and seeing what I can accomplish early on.

Many Different Types of Exercise to Try

black and white photo of woman dancingWill you be dancing? Lifting weights? Walking in a winter wonderland? Riding a stationary bike? Jogging? Playing sports? Something else?

What equipment will you need to purchase or borrow, if any?

What special workout clothing will you need to purchase or borrow, if any?

Which part of your home, yard, or neighbourhood will you be exercising in? If it’s property you own, does anything need to be spruced up or organized beforehand?

I prefer to keep things as simple as possible, especially when I’m trying something new out and have no idea if I’ll stick with that form of exercise in the longterm.

Whether you have a long list of things to accomplish before your first workout or you’re like me and prefer to wing it, these are considerations to start thinking about now.

It’s Great Stress Relief

woman sitting in lotus pose on a yoga mat at home

The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for many of us no matter what we’re celebrating.

One of the things I enjoy the most about sticking to a workout plan as much as possible and trying new forms of exercise when I can is the sense of relief I feel from these activities.

Working out is a chance to turn my brain off and live in the moment. Nothing else matter except that next dance move, yoga pose, kilometre walked, or set completed.

My goal is to get at least thirty minutes of exercise a day, but sometimes I extend a session or go out for another walk simply for the chance to focus on the way my body feels in those moments.

It’s often exhilarating.

If you make fitness-based New Year’s Resolutions, what goals will you be setting for this winter?

How to Encourage Quiet People to Speak Up

A grey and white rabbit covering its eyes with its paws. Google analytics keeps showing me visitors who found this blog by searching for phrases like “how to get quiet people to speak up.” It seems like a good discussion topic, so let’s jump into it!

As a quiet person, I’ve been on the receiving end of many helpful and not-so-helpful attempts to get me to be more talkative.

I choose to believe this happens because some people are fascinated by us quiet folks and wish they knew more about how our minds work and what we’re thinking about.

Occasionally, I meet someone who is even quieter than I am, and that is exactly how I respond to them. So it only makes sense that others would have that same reaction.

While I obviously can’t guarantee that every quiet person on Earth will respond positively to all of these techniques, I can say they work on me and that I’ve had success when trying them with quiet friends and acquaintances as well.

Give Them Time to Warm Up

White man peering at bald statue that looks a lot like him.
Only time will tell if this works for statues, too. 😉

Disclaimer: not every quiet person is shy, and not every shy person is quiet.

As someone who is both, however, I find that I become much more talkative once I’ve gotten to know someone better.

One, it means that I’ll already have some idea of what we have in common. Two, it also means that I’ll have a good indication of which topics, if any, others prefer not to discuss.

No, I’m not talking about anything controversial or widely known to be a sensitive topic here. It’s more an issue of knowing that friend X loves to talk about photography but has zero interest in anything related to team sports (or vice versa).

Leave Space in the Conversation

A snapshot of the legs and feet of someone wearing jeans and red sneakers. They're standing next to a "welcome on board" mat on what appears to be a wooden pier. Some people excel at filling every potential moment of silence in a conversation with words.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having this temperament, but it can make it  harder for quiet people get a word in edgewise.

If you give me ten seconds to process my thoughts, I’m much more likely to speak up. Anyone who is comfortable leaving small amounts of space in multiples portions of a conversation will be rewarded by all sorts of interesting replies from me as I come up with them.

This is by far one of the biggest things that make me feel welcome to chime in.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

two birds sitting on the rim of a water bowl. One is chirping at the other. There’s something wonderful about open-ended questions that do their best to avoid assumptions.

By that I mean, folks who assume that me being a woman means I must love fashion and makeup aren’t going to get very far with me on those particular topics because I know almost nothing about them!

If they ask what I enjoy doing in my free time instead, we could have a long, fruitful conversation about the best books to read when you’re in any number of unusual circumstances, interesting things I’ve seen on nature walks, and why astronomy is such a fascinating branch of science.

Keep the Group Small

If possible, choose a smaller group of people to talk to instead of a larger one. I find it much easier to chime in when a few other folks are taking turns talking than when a dozen or more people have joined the conversation.

Relevant story time! Both of my parents grew up in large families. Mom’s side of the family was especially big if you stepped back a generation or two and invited the hundreds of relatives to the massive annual reunions the oldest family members used to organize.

I cared about all of them, but, wow, was it overwhelming to step into a banquet hall and hear dozens of animated conversations happening simultaneously no matter where you walked.

There were a few talkative relatives who would invite me to chat with them and a handful of other people. They were the folks who got to hear about parts of my life that I probably wouldn’t have shared in the larger conversation circles.

If you’re a fellow quiet person, what else would you recommend?

Mindfulness and Difficult People

Five yellow, smiley faces are hanging down from little chains. A fifth red face with an angry expression is swinging down to hit them.
This is a topic I thought would make a great introduction to the beginning of December and the holiday season that looms before us, but the information in it is timeless.

I’m using the phrase difficult people as a shorthand term for anyone you find challenging to socialize with because of their behaviour.

Labels are useful but can’t possibly explain every nuance in a relationship. Your relationship with a friend will probably have features that aren’t present with a coworker, romantic partner, in-law, neighbour, or acquaintance. It was my intention to cast a wide, friendly net for this post and try to offer advice that can be used for as many different scenarios as possible.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s talk about how mindfulness can help before, during, and after the moments when you’re spending time with someone who you are not sure how to relate to.

Beforehand

A tree surrounded by perfectly still water at sunset. I’ll admit to being the sort of person who sometimes plays conversations out in my head before they happen.

The problem with this is that no one can predict the future.

That conversation might not ever actually happen. If it does happen, there’s no way to know in advance when it will pop up or if it will end the way you expect.

Spending as much time in the present moment as possible is a great way to avoid borrowing trouble.

One of the biggest benefits of mindfulness I’ve discovered for days like these is that it helps me to prepare for them without making assumptions about how they will go.

All you know for sure is that a certain event is on the horizon and that specific people are probably going to be there. Start with that.

During

Slow Down

There is something beautiful about intentionally moving slowly through these sorts of interactions.

Not every question or remark deserves an answer. If it does need to be answered, that could happen five minutes, or a week, or a month from now after you’ve had time to think it over.

Observe

I like looking at designs on silverware or counting lightbulbs in a room. There is always something to pay attention to that you might have otherwise ignored.

Reading body language is also a fascinating thing to do. You can learn so much about someone by quietly watching their posture, facial expressions, and gestures.

Breathe Deeply 

The beautiful thing about breathing deeply is how it encourages your mind to remain in the moment and what a calming influence it can be.

Focus on every breath as it enters and exits your body. Sometimes I’ll even count them silently in my mind.

Choose Your Words Carefully

It can be so relaxing to sit there and make small talk about the weather or some other innocuous subject when a tricky topic comes up.

There’s also the option of saying nothing at all. Silence is truly golden sometimes. As I mentioned earlier, not everything requires a response now or ever.

A well-placed dose of silence can give you a moment to think of how you want your words to come out before you say them.

This is a technique I’ve found especially helpful for people who have the urge to swoop in and fix the lives of those around them regardless of whether or not you actually wanted those things to be fixed. If they don’t know you adopted a new dog from the local animal shelter, chances are very good they’ll never tell you all of the things you’re doing wrong with that pet or why the breed you chose is the worst one ever.

Afterwards

Be honest with yourself. 

How did it go? What parts of this gathering did you enjoy? Which ones were not so helpful?

Release

I know it’s tempting, but mentally going over what anyone said or did at tricky events like these probably won’t be helpful.

As Elsa sang, let it go. Find something to take your mind off of what just happened. Taking a long, brisk walk through the park is a nice distraction for me when the weather is nice. Sometimes I even use that  trick on stormy days! It’s hard to ruminate when you’re also trying to avoid slipping on a patch of ice or stepping into a large puddle.

Think Longterm. 

The strategies I mentioned today have been helpful for me in the short term, but it’s also important to think about what you want your life to look like months, years, or decades from now in my opinion.

I believe in meeting people where they’re at and being understanding, compassionate, and supportive when they’re going through a difficult time.

Smartie Painted to look like a smilie faceBut I also believe in natural consequences and in putting emotional energy into relationships that are healthy and reciprocal. The only person I can control is myself, so there have been times in my life when I’ve reduced or  eliminated the time I spent with someone based on their behaviours and current level of introspection.

There’s a huge difference between using mindfulness to get through a difficult conversation that must happen and repeatedly agreeing to spend time with someone who chooses to be unkind… or worse.

It’s not my place to tell anyone how to arrange their lives, but I think there’s something to be said for finding both short-term and long-term strategies for dealing with these things.

How Science Fiction Can Keep You Out of Trouble

I’ve been thinking about Star Trek a lot lately, especiallyThe Original Series. The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine were the parts of this universe I grew up watching. It wasn’t I was an adult that I actually sat down and checked out the series that started the Star Trek franchise back in the 1960s. If you’ve never… Read More