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More Than Just the Facts

Things happen. Our lives are filled with interactions and occurrences, both big and small. How we interpret all those happenings has a huge impact on how we experience our lives. Our understanding of what happened is an interpretation. We are meaning seeking creatures. When something happens, our minds want to know what it means about us, about the other person, and about the world around us. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but, especially for those of us who tend to try to assess whether other people are pleased with us, it’s important to remember that the meaning we assign to a given interaction or situation is not the objective reality.…

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How to Say No in a Way That is Firm But Kind

Sometimes no is the right answer for us to give, but how do we actually say no? The word itself is so simple—only two letters—but it can be a difficult one to say. We’ve looked at three reasons to say no when that is our honest answer. Now, let’s the words we actually want to say. I know that when I’m nervous about giving someone a no I tend to go to an extreme.…

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4 Useful Questions to Answer Before Daring to Ask

It can be hard for us to let people see what matters to us. We may try to pretend to ourselves and to others that we don’t have needs. What if they think what I want is silly or selfish? Requesting something from someone else can feel very vulnerable. What if they say no? What if they misunderstand what I’m asking? What if it doesn’t matter to them what I need?…

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How Does Pleasing Others Really Feel?

There are many reasons we choose to do things that will please others. Those choices can be rooted in love or in fear. They can spring from generosity or obligation. We can do things for others with joy or resentment. Recognizing the difference is a key piece in shifting from depending on external validation to trusting ourselves more. Those of us who can get caught up in people-pleasing tend to focus a lot of energy on our thoughts.…

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Do You Know the Secret to Meaningful Relationships?

Have you ever done the group activity where each person writes something they like about you and all the slips of paper are collected so you have an envelope of warm fuzzies to cheer you up when you’re having a bad day? At its best, it’s a valuable exercise. It makes us think about what we value in each other and share things sometimes left unsaid. All of us need to be reminded of the good qualities others see in us on the days we just can’t see them in ourselves.…

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Two Ways to Feel More Connected in Your Relationships

What are you looking for in your relationships? I think most of us want to be seen and loved for who we really are. We want assurance that we don’t have to change ourselves in order to belong. Why is this so hard to find? Is it because we know the wrong people? Is it because there is something wrong with us? Is it something else? It often seems like people, even my friends, don’t really know who I am.…

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What Words Do You Need to Hear Today?

You probably know how much I value journaling. I started journaling consistently about five and a half years ago. Since then I have filled a lot of notebooks. I don’t often look back at past journal entries, even though I know that retrospecting can be a powerful tool. As my stack of filled journals grows, the thought of looking back feels even more daunting. Recently, however, I was thinking about where I was back when I first started journaling seriously—that was a pivotal year for me—and felt curious enough to dig out my old journals.…

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Where Are You Holding Yourself to a Different Standard?

There’s often a disconnect between the way we see ourselves and the way we see others. We say things to ourselves that we would be horrified to say to another human being. We demand perfection from ourselves that we would never expect from anyone else. I very much want to have relationships and be part of a community where we don’t have to hide pieces of who we are. I want us to celebrate together—the big victories and the tiny joys.…

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Holy Curiosity: Questions for Paintings, Questions for People

A number of my college classes took field trips to the Art Institute of Chicago. After completing my assignments and touring the collections, I always made my way to The Old Guitarist by Picasso where I’d sit for a hours in an out-of-the-way corner. A steady stream of people visited the painting, many seeming to almost miss the guitarist himself as they searched for the ghostly face peering over the back of his neck, evidence of an earlier painting on the same canvas.…

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Six Words We Must Be Able to Say to Love or to Lead

Last week I was traveling with my husband’s family. It was a lot of fun and we made some great memories. It was also completely exhausting. I have to admit, I didn’t do a very good job of keeping up with my non-negotiables. Now that I’m home again, it seems like I should be able to get right back to work. The truth is…I’m still tired. Part of me wants to pretend I never get tired or cranky.…

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