Morgaine

Posts Tagged ‘14 steps’

14 steps towards a better you: improve your communication skills

In Too lazy to assign a category on August 8, 2008 at 7:44 pm

In order to build good relationships and reach goals, social skills are crucially important. When thinking about social skills, many people think about the ability to smooth talk. Socially skilled people are indeed capable of communicating their feelings and thoughts. They're capable of effectively communicating their ideas. People who aren't as proficient, often think they've got lousy social skills. However, there's more to having social skills than talking. Being able to say what you want, without hurting others, being able to actively listen, being able to read and use body language, … those things are just as important.

Say what you mean

In order to keep a conversation going, stand up for your needs, criticise or react to criticism, give or accept a compliment, you have to open your mouth. Many people find it difficult to tell other people what's bothering them. Often people rub other people the wrong way, and this gives way to fights. The other person feels attacked and gets defensive: "That's not true!", "Look who's talking!". Before you know it, you end up fighting.

In order to put what's bothering you on the table, you might try the XYZ formula. This is a way to phrase things. In situation (X), when you do (Y), I feel (Z). This way it's not as much criticism, as it's a complaint. For example: "When we are driving (X), and you change the radio station without asking (Y), I feel like I don't matter to you." This sounds very different from "Who made you king of the radio?"

Sometimes it's explained a little differently: name the behaviour (X) that's bothering you (don't play the man, play the ball), name the situation (Y) in which this behaviour occurred, and tell which feelings (Z) this behaviour caused. For example: "You being an hour late (X) for our appointment (Y), makes me feel you think our appointment isn't important, and that makes me sad (Z). This sounds very different from "You're always late!"

Once you've said what's bothering you, say how you'd like things to be. Don't demand anything, don't pose ultimatums, don't make threats. Just describe your wishes. For example: "I would like you to be on time next time. That we we can spend some time catching up before dinner."

It's best to be brief. No monologues. People usually can concentrate just 30 seconds at a time during a conversation. Keep your message short. Give the other person time to react. Phrase your message in a positive way. If you use too many negations and negative formulations, it seems like you're nagging and whining, and people don't like to listen to that.

Active listening

Listening is just as important as talking. Even if someone communicates their feelings very well, if the other person isn't listening, the message won't get across. Listening is important in order to have a pleasant conversation. It's very annoying if you get interrupted or someone can't wait to air their viewpoint. If you really get listened to, it's a pleasant experience. Listening to the other person not only means you're hearing what they're saying, but also trying to understand what they're trying to say. This is called active listening.

LEAPS

LEAPS stands for Listen, Empathise, Ask, Paraphrase, Summarise. When you listen, have an open mind, hear the words, interpret the meaning and act upon the words. Empathise, and don't confuse empathy with sympathy. Empathy is seeing through the eyes of the other person. Then ask, for clarification, in order to find facts, to seek opinion. Next paraphrase, express the message in different (your own) words, and finally summarise. Condense all that's been said and put it in a simple statement. Be brief and concise.  

A different version of LEAPS is Listen, Empathise, Apologise, Positive attitude, Solve. There are similar systems, like LEAP (Listen, Empathise, Agree, Partner), basically meaning listening for what the person finds motivating, empathising with them, finding common ground you can agree on, and partnering with them to address common goals. There's also a different version of LEAP (Listen, Empathise, Apologise, Problem-solve), or yet another (Listen, Empathise, Ask, Produce results). They all more or less boil down to the same thing.

Use body language

The use of body language is another social skill. With a smile, eye contact, an interested posture and enthusiastic charisma you'll get more done than with an uninspired attitude. The importance of body language often is underestimated. Research shows that 80 % of communication consists of body language. Try taking that into account.

If you are the one listening, don't cross your legs and arms, mirror your conversation partner. This way you show openness and enthusiasm, and you enlarge the chance people want to tell you their story. If you are the speaker, make sure your body language is in line with what you're saying. If you are communicating your anger, make sure your voice is powerful, and stand up straight, both feet on the ground. That way your message will come across a whole lot better than when you're speaking in a soft voice, avoiding eye contact, looking at the floor.

An audience is captivated by speakers using gestures to accentuate their message. Also make eye contact, whether you're listening or talking. Don't stare though. Don't look more than 4.5 seconds at the other person, or it becomes staring. If you're listening watch the speaker about 75% of the time, if you're speaking, watch the listener about 40% of the time.

Role play

Ask a friend, partner or family member to do the following exercise with you. Think of a topic you don't agree on, for example the question whether chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla ice cream, the question for whom to vote if today there were elections, or the statement a day-nursery is bad for children.

Put an egg-timer or stopwatch on one minute. During this one minute, you get  to say what you think about this topic, and why. The other person has to listen actively, and isn't allowed to interrupt. After this one minute, ask yourself the following questions:

  • what was it like having someone listen actively?
  • what did the other person do to give you the impression they were really listening to you?
  • what body language did you use?
  • did you use body language to emphasise your words?
  • how much eye contact did you have with each other?

Now reverse the roles. Listen actively to the other person during one minute. Afterwards, ask yourself the following questions:

  • how hard was it not to interrupt the other person?
  • did you use body language to encourage the other person?
  • how much eye contact did you have with each other?

Prevent a fight from happening

Next time you're in an argument that risks turning out into a fight, try to use the XYZ formula, and to stick to the LEAP(S) rules. Even though the other person might not do the same, your attitude might very well change the other person's reaction.

Afterwards, evaluate how you influenced the argument by using the XYZ formula, and sticking to the LEAP(S) rules.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you: promote yourself

In Too lazy to assign a category on July 20, 2008 at 9:39 am

Many people find it hard to say what they're good at. They prefer to be modest. Presenting your qualities in a confident way often is seen as being arrogant. Nevertheless it's important when you want to get things done, or when you want to create opportunities for yourself. When you have e.g. a job interview, it's important you know how to promote your qualities. Otherwise the job might very well go to someone else.

In your private life as well, it's important. When negotiating tasks, in the household, the volunteer board or anywhere else, it's important. If you're too modest, the most fun and challenging tasks will probably get assigned to someone else, and you might get stuck with the boring tasks. This is also annoying for others. It's highly likely your talents will also be appreciated by others. If the task assigned to you is too easy, you might get bored and unmotivated, and it's possible someone else gets assigned a task that's too difficult for them.

Arrogant or confident?

We live in a negative culture. It's easy to tell others what they're doing wrong. And we treat ourselves pretty much the same way: we mostly pay attention to the things we're not good at, or the things that need improvement. Giving ourselves a compliment is not done, especially not out loud. We think this is arrogant. However, this isn't justified. There's a clear divide between being arrogant and being confident.

Arrogant people don't take criticism too well. They've got trouble accepting other viewpoints, and always think they are right, and their qualities are the best. On the other hand, if you're confident, you feel secure and at the same time you're open to other viewpoints. You don't feel threatened by criticism. You pay attention to it, and use it to your advantage.

Arrogance often serves to hide a lack of confidence. Bragging often is a way to hide a feeling of insecurity.

A fear of failure influences presenting strengths. Because if you say you're good at something, you might have to proof it. It's important not to overestimate yourself and it's also important not to promise too much, in order to avoid disappointment. It's important to have a realistic idea of your strengths and weaknesses. When you're really confident, you don't feel shame in admitting you're not up to something. People that try to hide their insecurities, often promise too much.

Use your Inner Coach

I've already mentioned our inner critic, that inner voice that just loves to tear you down, and make you feel miserable. Often you're not even aware of that inner critic. The voice has become all too obvious. It seems ingrained in your entire being. It undermines your confidence.

It seems your inner voice is a bad thing. That's not entirely true though. You are your inner voice. The challenge lies in using this inner voice to your advantage. You can change your inner critic into a coach, encouraging you and cheering you up.

3 against 1

Using your inner voice as a coach, doesn't mean you'll never have negative thoughts again. It's perfectly okay to have negative thoughts about yourself once in a while. Doing stupid things, messing things up, it's all part of life. It's important though not to let these negative thoughts put you down unnecessarily, and to have positive thoughts as well.

Research shows that if you want to feel good about yourself, and bring out the best in you, against every negative thought there have to be at least three positive thoughts. If you often think negatively about yourself, it's difficult to change this behaviour. Don't condemn yourself if you're having negative thoughts. Try to see these thoughts as clouds, just passing by.

20 000 moments

In the beginning thinking positively about yourself might seem artificial. If you do this on a regular basis though, it will become an automatism. You'll become your own coach. The advantages are enormous. According to Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman people experience 20 000 individual moments a day. These moments only last a few seconds. During such a moment you read something, look back on something, or say something to yourself. Imagine using just 1 % of these individual moments to say something nice about yourself, and you'll have 200 encouragements a day !

Exercise

Make a list of 5 qualities you'd like to use more in your professional or private life. Start each sentence with "I am good at …" or "One of my qualities is …".

Write down 3 encouraging sentences you can use if things don't go as planned. Examples are: "Everyone makes mistakes", "It's not a shame to fail" or "I'll do better next time".

Read these lists out loud at least twice a day.

Now think about how you can communicate the qualities you wrote down to others. Practise in front of a mirror. Watch your body language, and speak in a clear eloquent voice. You can use sentences like "I'm very good at …", "One of my qualities is that …", "The reason I should get this job / task is …", "An important reason why I should get this task is …", or variations on this theme.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you: develop your talents

In Too lazy to assign a category on July 4, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Everyone has talents and passions. You can have a talent for writing, painting, cooking, listening, driving, acting and the like. Unfortunately in our society talents and passions that make money are valued most. This is a shame, because many talents that don't make you money, can be valuable, not just for yourself, but also for the people around you. When you write poetry, read someone a book, or make music, you can make someone feel better.

Never too old …

A lot of people stop developing themselves at an early age. They think the brain is at its top around the age of 25. Yes, memorising a list takes more effort at 40 than at 20. However, it's wrong to think it isn't possible to learn new things. The brain changes constantly. Reacting to the things you do, think and feel, the brain adapts all the time, and new brain cells are developed, new connections between brain cells are being made. By acting in a certain way, you can influence this process.

Practise every day memorising numbers, and you'll see it gets easier. There will be more brain activity in the hippocampus, a part of the forebrain, that belongs to the limbic system and plays major roles in short term memory and spatial navigation. The brain cells will be stimulated and new connections will be made. Memorising numbers will get easier. Compare this to rebuilding a sandy road to a highway. The latter will allow you to drive much faster, and it's more comfortable.

The same is true for playing the violin, learning a new language, or dealing with emotions: you're never too old to learn.

Develop your talents

In order to develop yourself, you will have to know what it is you'd like to learn. Some talents are obvious, yet not always. Someone with a talent for drawing, might not recognise their talent if they were told art isn't important. How can you know you've got a talent for playing the piano, if you've never ever played?

Perhaps your school grades have put you on the wrong track. Many people confuse good grades with talents. Perhaps the bad grades you got, gave you the idea you can't learn something new. It's a pity bad grades risk discouraging you.

Often there's an underlying problem. People differ in the way they learn things. It is commonly believed that most people favour some particular method of interacting with, taking in, and processing stimuli or information. The way we learn things in general and the particular approach we adopt when dealing with problems is said to depend on a somewhat mysterious link between personality and cognition; this link is referred to as cognitive style. When cognitive styles are related to an educational context, they are generally referred to as learning styles, cognitive, affective, and physiological traits that are relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment. Over 80 learning style models have been proposed, each consisting of at least two different styles. Right now, let's stick to a two style model.

Field independence and field dependence

Field independence

This person finds it relatively easy to detach an experienced (perceived) item from its given background.

The item is extractable because it is perceived as having a rudimentary meaning on its own; thus it can be moved out of its presented surroundings and into a comprehensive category system—for understanding (and "filing" in memory).

Tendency to show traits of introversion (the person’s mental processing can be strongly activated by low-intensity stimulus; hence dislikes excessive input).

Tendency to be "reflective" and cautious in thinking task.

Any creativity or unconventionality would derive from individual’s development of criteria on a rational basis.

Performs best on analytical language tasks (e.g. understanding and using correct syntactical structures; semantically ordered comprehension of words; phonetic articulation).

Favours material tending toward the abstract and impersonal; factual or analytical; useful; ideas.

Has affinity for methods which are: focused; systematic; sequential; cumulative.

Likely to set own learning goals and direct own learning; (but may well choose or prefer to use—for own purpose—an authoritative text or passive lecture situation.

"Left hemisphere strengths"

Greater tendency to experience self as a separate entity; with, also a great deal of internal differentiation and complexity.

Personal identity and social role to a large extent self-defined.

More tendency to be occupied with own thoughts and responses; relatively unaware of the subtle emotional content in interpersonal interactions.

Relatively less need to be with people.

Self-esteem not ultimately dependent upon the opinion of others.

Field dependence

This person experiences item as fused with its context; what is interesting is the impression of the whole.

Item is experienced and comprehended as part of an overall associational unity with concrete and personal interconnections; (item’s storage in, and retrieval from, memory is via these often affectively-charged associations).

Tendency to show traits of extraversion (person’s mental processing is activated by relatively higher-intensity stimulus; therefore likes rich, varied input.

Tendency to be "impulsive" in thinking tasks; "plays hunches".

Any creativity or unconventionality would derive from individual’s imaginativeness or "lateral thinking".

Performs best on tasks calling for intuitive "feel" for language (e.g. expression; richness of lexical connotation; discourse; rhythm and intonation).

Prefers material which has a human, social content; or which has fantasy or humour; personal; musical, artistic.

Has affinity for methods in which various features are managed simultaneously; realistically; in significant context.

Less likely to direct own learning; may function well in quasi-autonomy (e.g. "guided discovery"); (but may well express preference for a formal, teacher dominated learning arrangement, as a compensation for own perceived deficiency in ability to structure.

"Right hemisphere strengths".

Tendency to experience and relate not as a completely differentiated "self but rather as—to a degree— fused with group and with environment.

Greater tendency to defer to social group for identity and role-definition.

More other-oriented (e.g. looking at and scrutinizing other "faces; usually very aware of other" feelings in an interaction; sensitive to "cues".

Greater desire to be with people.

Learning performance much improved if group or authority figure give praise.

Back to talents

Many women have a field dependent learning style. This style isn't better nor worse than an independent learning style. The problem is that in many schools, an emphasis on the independent learning style is dominant. More abstract topics, like mathematics or chemistry, become even more difficult when they are taught  to people with a dependent learning style as if everyone has an independent learning style.

If those topics were taught in a different way, people with a dependent learning style would perform better.

Don't go by school grades too much. Don't let grades discourage you and put you off. Let yourself be led by your heart, by things you enjoy. On the other hand, don't make things too difficult for yourself. Develop your talents, not the things you think you ought to be good at.

Once you've found something you're good at, or something that's challenging to you, you'll experience a happy feeling. It's possible you'll get into a situation called flow. Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields. In retrospect people often describe this feeling as "everything fell into place" or "I experienced bliss".

Discovering your talents

Following tips can help you to discover and develop your talents.

Find an activity you really like. Ask yourself what you liked in the past. What did you like as a child? Perhaps you can keep a diary in which you write down the moments you felt happy. What were you doing at that moment? If you really don't know what you'd like, you might consider getting tested. Tests might show you your strengths and weaknesses, and which profession or activity might suit you best. Also ask family and friends what they think suits you, and what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Set goals. Developing your talents means you've got to set goals. You want to get better at something. Make your goal realistic and specific. Imagine what you're going to do, and when. Don't say "I am going to learn Spanish" but say "I am going to follow a Spanish language course in September at the Open University".

Challenge yourself. It's most motivating setting a goal that is just above the level you're sure you'll reach. If you go out running, make it your goal to run a couple of hundred metres (but not too many metres) more than yesterday. If you're writing a report, write a report about a topic you've never written about before, but not a totally unfamiliar topic. This way you'll expand your limits, but in a realistic way.

Follow a course. Perhaps it's necessary to follow a course in order to develop your talents. Try finding a course that fits your learning style.

Find partners. Partners who have the same goals, can help you overcome obstacles, motivate you and inspire you. It's nice to develop your talents in the company of others (working together, playing sports together, studying together, … ).

Believe in yourself. It is easier to develop your talents if you feel confident about yourself and your skills. You won't have a fear of failure and it's easier to concentrate.

What do you want to achieve?

Research shows that if people write down their goals (I want to start my own company within the next two years, I want to learn to play the piano better within a year, …), their success rate is higher. When you write down your goal, you connect yourself with this goal, and you'll be more motivated.

Write down which talents you want to develop and which goals you want to achieve. Don't forget to set a time period.

Then look at the obstacles, such as money, time, health problems, lack of energy, negative thoughts about yourself, lack of support or help, … What is the biggest obstacle, and what can you do about it? Talk to people with the same goals, and learn from them.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you: promiss less, do more

In Too lazy to assign a category on June 9, 2008 at 10:27 am

A successful live means you've got realistic expectations of yourself. You don't have to be the perfect partner / friend / colleague / parent. People that are unreasonably demanding, put themselves under pressure and might become stressed or burned out. It can also influence others. If for example your boss asks you to write a report by tomorrow and you say yes, it's possible you can't honour your promise, and others might be disappointed or get the feeling they can't count on you. It is important you put realistic demands upon yourself.

Being too demanding might stem from a negative sense of self-worth. You don't think you're good enough, and think you'll only be loved if you excel. It's also possible you don't know your limits, or you overestimate yourself. This can also happen if you've got a healthy sense of self-worth. If you've got a positive image of yourself, it's possible you always tend to think it's no problem writing that report by tomorrow (to stick with the example above). People too demanding of themselves, want too much.

Perfect!

Being demanding is related to being perfectionist: you want to do things as good as possible. Being perfectionist isn't wrong in itself. On the contrary, there are advantages. It helps to bring out the best of you. Perfectionism is quite alright, as long as it stays healthy.

This means you like to excel and it's a challenge to do something without mistakes. It becomes unhealthy once you demand you do everything in a perfect way. By putting that much pressure on yourself, you become stressed and afraid of failure. Because nobody's perfect, you'll always be disappointed too. You'll always fall short and can never feel proud about yourself.

Be realistic

If you don't want to become overwrought or disappoint others, be realistic. Following tips can be helpful.

Work on your sense of self-worth

The best way to steer away from unhealthy perfectionism, is to work on your self esteem. When you think positively about yourself, and accept yourself, you won't feel the urge to be perfect and promise heaven on earth.

Want versus have to

Perfectionism becomes unhealthy if you have to be perfect. Notice there are so many things you have to, deliberately replace the words have to by want to or can. "I want to get an A on this exam", feels more relaxed than "I have to get an A on this exam" or "I can' make mistakes". That way it's also possible to discover what you want and don't want. Perhaps you'll notice there aren't so many things you have to do. Perhaps you'll find out someone else should do some of the things you saddle yourself with.

Be honest

In order to become realistic, you'll have to be honest, first and foremost with yourself. When someone asks you something, don't answer automatically in an affirmative way, but ask respite. Say for example: "I'm not sure if that's possible, I'll let you know as soon as possible" or "I have so see whether this fits my schedule". Verify how much time and energy it will consume. Is it realistic? Do you want to answer the request? Can you? When you've made up the balance, it's time to be honest with the other person. If in doubt, hold back a little. Say for example: "I will do my best, but I'm not sure it will work". Also ask for what you need. Think time, money, materials or help.

If you're honest with yourself and others, you take away the pressure. It also prevents you from disappointing others. If, perhaps against all odds, you manage to succeed anyway, you and others will be pleasantly surprised.

Exercises

The following exercises can help you to be more realistic and honest.

Realistic promises

Think about a recent situation in which you made a promise or commitment that wasn't entirely realistic. Answer following questions: whom did you make this promise to, and about what? To what extent were you fooling yourself? To what degree did you have to convince yourself to keep this promise? If you knew the promise wasn't realistic, why did you make it anyway? Was there something you were afraid of? Did you want to avoid something, like a fight? In retrospect, what would you have done or said instead?

Future requests

Imagine a request you can expect to be made in the upcoming month by your boss, colleague, partner or family. Imagine how much time and energy it's going to ask from you. What's the situation? To what extent to you have the time or energy to answer this request? What can you say in order to make a realistic promise or commitment?

Test: how much of a perfectionist are you?

Answer the following questions with yes, sometimes or no.

   1. I feel guilty if I don't get it 100% right
   2. I'm afraid others might not like me as much if I fail
   3. When I start something, I'm afraid of failing
   4. No matter how well I do, I'm never satisfied with my achievements
   5. I worry about mistakes
   6. I am proud if I get it 100% right
   7. I like to give the best of me
   8. My successes stimulate me
   9. It's a challenge to be the best I can
  10. I like to be better than others

For each time you've answered yes, you get 2 points. For each time you've answered sometimes you get 1 point. Add up the points for questions 1 to 5. This is your score for unhealthy perfectionism. Add up the points for questions 6 to 10. This is your score for healthy perfectionism.

Unhealthy perfectionism

8 points or more: you suffer from unhealthy perfectionism and put too much stress on yourself. It's important to work on your self esteem.
4 – 7 points: to an extent you suffer from unhealthy perfectionism. You'll feel much better if you are realistic, and throw guilt overboard.
0 – 3 points: you don't suffer much from unhealthy perfectionism. Mistakes and shortcomings don't get under your skin. You know you're only human.

Healthy perfectionism

8 points or more: you're a perfectionist in a good way. You like to excel because it makes you feel good. Beware though. Don't mix up the things you want and the things you have to.
4 – 7 points: you're a perfectionist to a certain extent. You like to do things as good a possible, but you don't strive for perfection all the time.
0 – 3 points: you're not at all a perfectionist. That's fine, but if you want to improve your achievements, a healthy dose of perfectionism might help you.

Healthy and unhealthy perfectionism can coexist. It's possible you like to achieve but at the same time you think you have to.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you – influence others in a positive way

In Too lazy to assign a category on May 26, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Living together and working together is easier if you know how to motivate and inspire others. Whether it's your children, partner, friends or colleagues, there are many advantages to approaching others in a positive way. They'll appreciate your company more, will often be more prepared to help you, and will value your opinion more.

The power of a compliment

An important and fun way to inspire someone is to give them a compliment. One of the most important needs people have is the need for recognition and appreciation. A compliment can meet those needs. By giving a compliment you give others a good feeling about what they're doing, as well as the feeling that what they're doing is appreciated. Still, people are very sparse when it comes to giving compliments. They think other people will lean back whenever they get a compliment. If you for example tell your daughter a C+ is good, she might think she doesn't need to study. That's the reason most people are rather harsh. They whine and threaten others in the hope the other person will do what they want them to do. Most of the time this doesn't work though. The other person feels they've failed and is discouraged. A compliment, on the other hand, does work. Praising your daughter (it's good you still got a C+ for that difficult topic) increases the chance she'll work hard at school. The compliment encourages her to work hard. Complimenting someone doesn't guarantee positive behaviour, but chances are better. Compliments also augment people's self-worth. Children especially need to hear something positive once in a while. They need even more affirmation than adults.

To the point and sincere

In order to have the desired effect, compliments should meet certain requirements.

Rule 1: be sincere

Only give compliments you really mean. People will know if you don't mean it. At times it's difficult to come up with something positive and if you really can't come up with something you could tell the other person how you'd like something to be done, and how you'd appreciate it. You could for example say (to stick with the daughter at school example): "It would mean a lot to me if you'd work harder at school".

Rule 2: say why

Most people only say what they appreciate, and forget about the why. If a friend just got a hair cut and you only say: "Your hair looks nice", it might seem you only want to be polite. You're also complimenting the hair dresser, instead of your friend. Say for example: "You chose a nice hair cut, it really fits your style".

Rule 3: start with their first name

By mentioning someone's first name, the compliment gets really personal. You show them the compliment is really meant for them. People also pay more attention to sentences in which their name is mentioned. To a colleague you could for instance say: "Paul, you did really well on that report".

Don't get all wound up

Influencing others in a positive way isn't only done by giving people compliments, but also by not reacting in a negative way to others, even if they're trying to provoke you. Whenever someone makes an unreasonable or critical remark, most people automatically get all defensive. Not because they're looking for a fight, but because they want to protect their sense of self-worth. Unfortunately there's a risk of escalation, because the reactions back and forth might get more damaging and hurtful. Try not to react immediately. Stay calm and friendly. Ask for clarification or say you didn't know there was a problem. If you stay calm, friendly and positive, there's a chance of "emotional contamination". Emotional contamination is the phenomenon that people, unintentionally, mimic other people's facial expressions, body language and emotions. Research shows emotional contamination works best with positive things. People are more likely to mimic a smile than a frown.

Cool down

It's not easy to remain friendly and positive when for example your partner is in an awful mood. It requires self control and empathy. Following tips can help you to remain calm and in a good mood.

Tip 1: take a time-out

If, during a conversation, you get very upset, angry or stressed, a time-out is a sensible thing to take. Go to the bathroom, or go for a walk. Tell your partner you're going to do something else for a bit, because you're too upset or angry or stressed. You can e.g. agree to continue the conversation in an hour, or the next day.

Tip 2: display opposite behaviour

If you're angry or stressed, it might help to show some opposite behaviour. Relax and try to look friendly. Tell the other person you care for them, or slowly drink a glass of water. Because your senses get a different kind of input, your brain thinks you're no longer angry.

Tip 3: reflect

Ask yourself why someone is reacting in an angry or unreasonable way. Try to see their side. Wonder whether they're tense or tired. Perhaps something happened at work or school.

Showing involvement

In order to stimulate people, it also helps if you show involvement in what they're doing. In order to stimulate your daughter to do her homework, you could show an interest in the topics she is studying at school. Remarks like "I will think of you when you're taking your exam" or "You can call me any time whenever you need help" are helpful too. Research shows people will perform better that way.

People might also feel stimulated if you involve them in what's important for you. Ask a colleague their opinion about a project you're leading, or ask your partner to help you sort the holiday pictures for example. Even though you can do those things yourself, perhaps even better, you give people the idea their contribution is appreciated.

Exercise

Think about someone you'd like to compliment, for example your child, partner, neighbour or colleague. Resolve to compliment them next time you see them. Already write down what you could say.

Think about someone close who has to do something difficult soon, or who has an appointment they're not looking forward to, like an exam, a doctor's appointment or a boring meeting. Resolve to say something supportive. Already think about what you could say and write it down. Next time you'll see this person, follow through. Intent on saying something supportive at least once a day.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you – make contact

In Too lazy to assign a category on January 25, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Reach out

If you know how to socialise, you’ll be more successful in life. Not just with people you already know, but with strangers as well. If you know how to make contact, it will be a lot easier to build a social environment from which to get inspiration and support. By talking to other people, you expand your horizon, and learn new insights and experiences. No less than 90% of people have a hard time socialising and making small talk with strangers. At a reception where you know no one, at the pub while your friend is talking to someone else, at a meeting where you have to network: you might feel awkward and inhabited.

Insecurity – what will people think of me? – and the fear of rejection make you want to hide in a corner instead of talking to other people. That way you only socialise with a small group of friends and family, while you might like to talk to someone else or make new friends. You play safe, while new contacts can open an entire new world.

It’s possible the other person doesn’t want to talk to you, or there’s no click. This tends to diminish confidence: apparently you’re not interesting enough and the other person doesn’t want to get to know you. Therefore many people are reserved, even though they’d like to be different.

That’s a shame really, because it’s highly likely other people at e.g. that reception feel the same way. They probably think you don’t want to talk to them, and are afraid to start a conversation. In reality, most people are glad to be spoken to. That way they’ve got someone to talk to, and don’t have to mingle, searching for someone to talk to themselves.

Shy people in particular find it very hard to start a conversation. This is because they’ve got a negative self image. They think they’re not good enough, and they’re very demanding of themselves socially. They think they’ve got to get along with everyone, be popular and have oodles of friends. Because of the pressure they put on themselves, they lack spontaneity and become shy. For these kinds of people, it’s very important to work on step 2: self esteem.

Starting a conversation: tips and tricks

Whether you’re shy or not, it becomes easier making contact with these tips and tricks.

Tip 1

Watch your body language. Making contact doesn’t start with words, it starts with body language. It’s best to be open and inviting: hold your arms next to your body. Straighten your back and smile. That way you’ll come across a lot friendlier than with your arms crossed and an unhappy face. The same is true for the person you’d like to talk to. How does this person come across? Does he or she seem susceptible? If you see someone you like, make eye contact. You’ll know instantly whether the other person is in the mood for conversation: does he or she look back in a friendly way or does he or she look away?

Tip 2

Keep it simple. People worry too much about the content of that first conversation. They want to make a good impression, and don’t want to look stupid or boring. People think they need to talk about ‘important’ matters, like politics, art or philosophy. This idea puts them under a lot of pressure, and might lead to fear of failure. Try to look for inspiration in your environment. If you’re at an exhibition, look around. What do you see (beautiful paintings), smell (the smell of coffee) or hear (music by Bach)? Other people are probably experiencing the same, and it provides for a subject of conversation. “Don’t you agree it’s hot / cold / crowded / beautiful?” or “How do you like this painting?” are some opening sentences you could use.

Tip 3

Encourage yourself. If you don’t know what to say, it’s difficult to approach someone. Try to think: that seems like a nice person, I’ll just try and talk to them. Or: if it doesn’t work out, I’ll talk to someone else later on.

Tip 4

Once you’ve started the conversation, use open questions. Ask: “How do you like that painting?” instead of: “It’s a nice painting, don’t you agree?” Closed questions only require a short yes / no answer, and tend to shorten the conversation. Open questions on the other hand stimulate a more elaborate answer, and keep the conversation going.

Tip 5

Listen. Some people seem to think they’ve got to talk in order to avoid silences. Other people might get bored having to listen all the time though. It’s equally important to listen. Other people like being listened to, and they like being asked questions. If someone pays attention to you, you also appreciate this gesture of showing interest.

Exercise 1

Think back of two situations in which you felt awkward because you didn’t have someone to talk to. Why was it so difficult for you to make contact? What did you say to yourself that made you back off? What should you have said to yourself? Looking back, how could you have talked to someone in that situation?

Exercise 2

Take the lead. Think of two situations you might encounter in the near feature, like a birthday party, a reception at work or some other party. Intend to start a conversation with someone you don’t know. Don’t wait for others to start conversation, but take the initiative. Already think about what you could use for an opening sentence.

Possible opening sentences

At a birthday party: How do you know X?
In a museum: What do you think of this painting?
Arriving somewhere: That was quite the thunder storm, eh?
At a public space: Have you been here before?
At a work meeting: What are you working on?
In a crowded space: It’s rather crowded here, eh?
At a concert: How do you like the music?
At the gym: Do you know how this works?
Waiting for food: Are you hungry as well?

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you – become assertive

In Too lazy to assign a category on January 23, 2008 at 9:17 pm

Become Assertive

In order to be yourself and lead the life that suits you, you have to be assertive. Being assertive means you communicate your rights, boundaries and values and at the same time respect other people’s rights, boundaries and values. Being assertive doesn’t equal being aggressive. Aggressive people don’t respect others, they merely (try to) dominate. Assertive behaviour is about equality in relationships with others. You’re assertive when you say ‘No’ to a request you don’t like, when you stand up for your opinion, when you tell what’s bothering you or when you tell how you feel. If you don’t stand up for yourself, you let others or your obligations determine your life.

Not determining your own life will cause a lot of stress. Some people even suffer from all kinds of physical stress symptoms such as insomnia, hyperventilation or even burn-out. Being assertive isn’t just advantageous for your own wellbeing. Others will also gain. If you say ‘No’ or make understood what it is you want, the other will know where he stands.

Besides, others can only be considerate if they know your boundaries. A lot of misunderstandings are caused by people not saying what they really want. Afterwards others often say: Then why didn’t you say so?

Assertive or aggressive?

Babies are very assertive. They cry when they’re hungry or thirsty and they protest if they don’t agree with something. Somewhere during childhood the idea one has to be humble and polite creeps in. Saying ‘No’, getting angry, speaking up when you don’t agree with something, telling others what it is you want, goes against the idea of friendliness and modesty.

A lot of people are afraid that, if they say what they think or what they want, they’ll get judged negatively or are considered unfriendly or inconsiderate. They think they’ll hurt the other person or they think they’re impolite or rude when they speak up for themselves. What people seem to forget is that they don’t have the power to hurt someone. It all depends on what this other person does with these remarks. Suppose you call someone an idiot in a fit of rage. This person might be insulted or might think you have a point, without feeling hurt by that remark.

Instead of being too humble, some people get too aggressive. Aggressive people aren’t assertive either. They aren’t considerate. Aggressive people think they’ll get attacked and seem to think the best defence is a good offence. Aggressive people often were hurt during their childhood. A lot of people just don’t know how to be assertive either. Their parents never set the example, and they’re not aware things can be done differently.

Often women are considered less assertive than men, yet this isn’t true. Women might be assertive in another way. Women often are less direct but they get at least as much done as men. They just communicate their criticism, demands and boundaries in a more indirect way.

Stand up for yourself

If you find it difficult to stand up for yourself, you shouldn’t worry. Assertiveness can be learnt. Assertiveness is based on a healthy amount of self esteem. Only when you trust you’re worth it, you will be able to demand attention for yourself and your needs.

For this reason it’s important to appreciate yourself. Nevertheless it can be difficult to say ‘No’. You might feel guilty, you might want to help out, even though you’re incapable of helping out, or you might feel you’re failing. The following tips will help you to say ‘No’ when someone asks you something you don’t want.

Tip 1

Realise you’re saying ‘No’ to the request, not to the person making the request.

Tip 2

When someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do, give yourself some time. Say for example you’re going to get a drink. This will give you time to think about what you’d like to say, for example: I would like to think about this, I’ll let you know tomorrow. The next day you could e.g. say: About yesterday, I’ve thought about it, and I’ve decided not to do it. It doesn’t fit me.

Tip 3

If you want to say ‘No’, don’t feel obligated to give an extensive explanation. That way it seems you are apologising, while you’ve got every right to say ‘No’. Just say: I won’t do that, as I don’t have the time. Or perhaps: I won’t do that, as I really dislike it.

Tip 4

If you’ve given in, realise you’ve got the right to change your mind. ‘It doesn’t feel right’ often is good enough an argument.

Tip 5

If people don’t accept your answer, and do they start nagging, or are they trying to flatter you into agreeing, say something like: I already clearly said no, and I would like you to respect that. This way you’ve very clearly communicated your boundaries.

Tip 6

Eighty per cent of a message is non verbal. Use assertive body language. You can practise this in front of a mirror. Stand on both legs, straighten your back and look at yourself in the mirror, whilst saying for example: I want to be left alone now. How does this look? Aggressive, assertive or shy? Practise until you’ve found the right body language. Ask your partner or a friend how you come across.

Rights

In each social situation you’ve got the following rights:

  1. The right to judge your own behaviour.
  2. The right not to give an explanation for your behaviour.
  3. The right to change your opinion.
  4. The right to make mistakes.
  5. The right to say: I don’t know.
  6. The right to be illogical whilst taking decisions.
  7. The right to say: I don’t understand.
  8. The right to say: I don’t care.
  9. The right to decide for yourself whether you’ll look for a solution to other people’s problems.

No means no

Think about two situations from the past, where someone asked you something and you said ‘yes’ while you didn’t want to. Why did you say ‘yes’ after all? Think about what you could have said instead. Also think about a sentence you could use next time you don’t want something.

Some assertive sentences

I want you to help me.
This is your problem.
I’d rather you don’t interfere.
Try it yourself.
I’m out.
No, I can’t. I am entitled to this.
I expect more from you.
I think it’s none of your business.
You are right.
I would appreciate it if you’d consider my wishes.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you – needs

In Too lazy to assign a category on December 30, 2007 at 2:11 am

Needs

To be happy, it’s necessary to give yourself what you need. To be able to do that, you first have to know what it is you need. Needs are different from personal values. Personal values refer to areas of life, areas that interest you, areas you’re passionate about. Things you need in order to feel good about yourself, to be yourself, are your needs. Those things can be both small and large. Possibly you need attention, love, flexible work hours, more time with your partner, a ham and cheese sandwich or a hot bath.

Sometimes it’s perfectly clear what you need, and it’s quite simple to give yourself what you need. When you are hungry, you make a sandwich or something else. It’s possible you feel lonely because you don’t have a partner. In that case you’ll have to find yourself a new love. Sometimes it’s not so clear what you need. You feel unfulfilled but you don’t know why. You’ve got everything you ever dreamt about 20 years ago: a beautiful house, a family, enough money … and yet still you feel restless and unsatisfied.

Unfulfilled needs

The theory by psychologist Abraham Maslow, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, can help you discover what it is you need. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the four lower levels are grouped together as deficiency needs associated with physiological needs, while the top level is termed growth needs associated with psychological needs. Deficiency needs must be met first. Once these are met, seeking to satisfy growth needs drives personal growth. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are satisfied.

The bottom of the pyramid consists of physiological basic needs, like shelter, food, and warmth. You don’t feel anything when these needs are met, but if they aren’t, you’ll feel anxious. If you are hungry or thirsty or your body is chemically unbalanced, all of your energies turn toward remedying these deficiencies, and other needs remain inactive. When you are really hungry and terribly cold, you won’t enjoy listening to music, or looking at art. Instead you first want to eat and put on some extra clothes. If some needs are not fulfilled, a human's physiological needs take the highest priority. Physiological needs can control thoughts and behaviours, and can cause people to feel sickness, pain, and discomfort.

Safety needs are one step higher up the pyramid. After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third layer of human needs is social. Humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. They need to love and be loved. All humans have a need to be respected, to have self-esteem, self-respect, and to respect others (fourth layer).

They upper three layers are growth needs, enduring motivations or drivers of behaviour. These are cognitive needs, aesthetic needs and the need for self-actualisation. In Maslow's scheme, the final stage of psychological development comes when the individual feels assured that his physiological, security, affiliation and affection, self-respect, and recognition needs have been satisfied. As these become dormant, he becomes filled with a desire to realise all of his potential for being an effective, creative, mature human being.

Maslow's need hierarchy is set forth as a general proposition and does not imply that everyone's needs follow the same rigid pattern. However, his theory is highly informative. It can help you trace unfulfilled needs. If you encounter the same problems in love, over and over again, it’s possible you haven’t met the underlying need of safety. You may have an alarm system in check, but perhaps you don’t feel safe emotionally. Perhaps you feel others can’t be trusted, and you can’t leave your guard down. This feeling of unsafety makes it hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable in a relationship, and can lead to a fear of abandonment. In order to get what you need out of a relationship, you will first have to (re)find a feeling of safety.

The same is true for other layers of needs. If you notice it’s impossible to be successful or get recognition in your field of expertise, perhaps you didn’t fulfil some underlying need. Perhaps you don’t have a sense of belonging, and you feel lonely. Perhaps you don’t seem to be able to connect with colleagues at work, and don’t use your full networking potential.

Recognise your needs

If you aren’t in touch with yourself, it’s possible you don’t recognise your needs. It happens to everyone to some extent. When you e.g. are highly concentrated, you might not notice you need to go to the bathroom, or might ignore the feeling, until it’s (almost) too late.

Some people ignore other needs, especially needs they think aren’t socially acceptable. If you were told that crying is a sign of weakness, you possibly push away your tears, swallow your tears. If you were told sex is dirty, it’s difficult to recognise you need sex.

Pushing aside your needs is unhealthy. It makes you feel frustrated and unfulfilled. Many needs can’t be pushed aside for long either. They’ll find a way out, and can manifest themselves in annoying ways. It’s even possible you’ll get depressed and develop all kinds of psychosomatic symptoms.

An example is the burn-out. People that are experiencing a burn-out have worked hard, but were at the same time ignoring other needs, the need for rest, relaxation, healthy food, … At a certain point body and mind can’t continue to work until those needs are met. Unfortunately the situation by then has gotten real bad; people have crossed their boundaries so far, that it takes a very long time before they can feel healthy and happy again.

Determine and write down your needs

Determining your needs requires you to have an honest and accepting look at yourself, without judging your needs. What is it you really need? What’s stopping you from satisfying your needs?
Is there a voice in your head telling you it’s wrong, or are you afraid of what other people might think? How can you give yourself what you really need? Write down the three most unfulfilled needs. What do you long for that you haven’t got?

Not all needs are equally realistic and not all needs can be totally met. If you e.g. need comfort and luxury, but you don’t make a lot of money, it’s not a very realistic need. There’s no use to dwell upon this, as it will only frustrate you. Do you have everything you’ve always wanted, the house, car, family, career … then perhaps it’s important to learn to appreciate the small things in life.

Instead of constantly wishing for a better life, take up the challenge to enjoy what is, the here and now. How to do that will be explained later on.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you – self esteem

In Too lazy to assign a category on August 17, 2007 at 7:15 pm

Appreciate yourself

People with high self esteem think positively about themselves, and accept themselves. They think: "I'm a good person". People with low self esteem on the other hand are too critical. They don't think they're attractive, smart, spontaneous or slim, and they always feel they're never good enough.

Self esteem is one of the most important building blocks for a succesful life. People with a healthy self esteem think positively about themselves, and feel strong and in control of their lives. People with low self esteem let others or circumstances determine their lives. Not because they're lazy, but because they think it doesn't matter what they think or do.

They deprive themselves of an important opportunity to be happy. Of course one can't control every aspect of life, but many aspects can be influenced.

Your inner critic

It's not always easy to accept oneself, and to think positively about oneself. It's rarely good enough. Many people grew up thinking they have to be modest. That's why they focus on the things they don't like about themselves. Things that are positive, are not good enough, or there's always someone else who's better.

Accepting yourself starts in your youth and is encouraged by loving people in your environment. It's a mirror like effect: a child sees and appreciates itself the way it's seen and appreciated by others. If a child grows up in a loving environment, and absorps all those positive reactions by others, like a sponge, it automatically learns how to appreciate itself.

On the other hand, if a child has very overcritical, meddlesome or rejective parents, it develops an inner voice that does nothing but criticise. The voice says: "See? You're utterly worthless" or "You're too fat", or "Nobody likes you". This voice is called the pathological critic.

The pathological critic is a term coined by psychologist Eugene Sagen to describe the negative inner voice that attacks and judges you. Almost everyone has a critical inner voice but people with low self esteem tend to have a more vicious and vocal pathological critic.

The critic blames you for things that go wrong. The critic compares you to others, to their achievements and abilities and finds you wanting. The critic sets impossible standards of perfection and then beats you up for the smallest mistake. The critic keeps an album of your failures but never once reminds you of your strengths or accomplishments. The critic has a script describing how you ought to live and screams that you are wrong and bad if your needs drive you to violate his rules. The critic tells you to be the best and if you aren't the best you are nothing. He calls you stupid, incompetent, ugly, selfish, weak, and makes you believe all of them are true. The critic reads your friends’ minds and convinces you that they may be bored, turned off, disappointed or disgusted by you. The critic exaggerates your weaknesses by insisting that you "always say stupid things" or "always screw up a relationship or a job" or "never finish anything on time".

The pathological critic is busy undermining your self-worth every day of your life. Yet his voice is so insidious, woven into the fabric of your thoughts that you never notice the devastating effects. The self attacks always seem reasonable and justified. The carping, judging inner voice seems natural, a familiar part of you but in truth, the critic is a kind of psychological jackal who with every attack weakens and breaks down any good feelings that you have about yourself.

Although we refer to the critic as "he" for convenience, your voice may sound female. It could sound like your mother, your father, or your own speaking voice, and is extremely detrimental to your phychological health, more than almost any trauma or loss. That’s because grief and pain wash a way with time. But the critic is always with you, and has many weapons, among the most effective the values and rules of living you grew up with.

Building self worth

Although the critic seems to have a will of his own, his independence is really an illusion. The truth is that you are used to listening to him, so used to believing him, that you have not learned to turn him off. With practice, however, you can learn to analyse and refute what the critic says. You can turn him off before he has a chance to poison your feelings of self worth.

You don't necessarily need love and appreciation from others in order to accept yourself. You can learn how to accept yourself, and be your own mirror.

Building self esteem doesn't mean you're not allowed to have negative thoughts about yourself. That wouldn't be realistic. The more you try to suppress negative thoughts, the stronger they'll return. You don't have to force yourself to think positively, but you can do exercises to build self esteem. Here's one:

Know your qualities

Everyone has many positive qualities. Perhaps you're used to only see the negatives, but you also have many positive qualities. It helps to write them down. Write down 10 positive statements about yourself, starting each statement with "I … ". Example: I am a good listener, or I am nice to my partner.

Now read those statements out loud, twice a day.

For those of us that are courageous, it's also a nice exercise to write down 100 (!) good things about yourself. For an example, see Holly Jahangiri's post.

A third exercise is to look at your negative characteristics in a different way. Try to see them as good characteristics gone wild. Let me give you an example: disorder can be seen as an extreme form of flexibility. Intrusiveness can be seen as an extreme form of empathy. Write down 5 negative characteristics and name them in a positive way.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

14 steps to a better you – know yourself

In Too lazy to assign a category on August 8, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Know yourself

In order to create a life that suits you, it's important to know what's really important to you. Find out what your passions, interests and preferences are. These are called 'personal values'. Friendship can be very important, but also children, money, power or justice.

There are hundreds of personal values, and thousands of things one can find important. Some personal values are like a silken red thread throughout life. The importance of certain values can change over time. Young people value having fun a lot, young parents consider family life to be most important, and perhaps spirituality becomes more important when getting older.

Most people know more or less what they consider to be important in life, but they find it hard to put this to words. It's worthwile trying though, since you need to know exactly what your personal values are, in order to arrange your life in the most optimal way.

What do you want?

Some people know exactly what they find important. But this isn't the case for everyone. Perhaps the things you once thought were important, are no longer fitting. People that still pursue the things they wanted when they were twenty, often get stuck at fourty. There also are a lot of people that think they know what they want, while actually it doesn't make them happy.

Do you think you like to help others? Ask yourself whether you're actually helping others because it really interests you. Many people are afraid of being rejected, if they're not helping others. Let me give you another example: does your career really satisfy you, or do you think negatively about yourself, and do you want to prove yourself?

People that let their fears and frustrations lead them, are constantly trying to close a hole in their hearts. It's like carrying water to the sea: it's useless, it's never enough and it continues forever. It doesn't make you happy, at the most it prevents you from being unhappy.

Fears and frustrations, like fog, can cover your real personal values. They mask what really interests you and makes you happy. Choose authentic values. Authentic values give energy and a genuine feeling of happiness and satisfaction.

No fear

To be happy, you need to discover your authentic personal values. What do you find attractive, fascinating and important in your heart? You'll have to recognise and accept possible fears and frustrations. Some of those stem from one's youth. Many parents couldn't satisfy their child's need for attention, emotional security, love, comfort or help. Didn't you get what you emotionally needed in your youth? Take a good look at yourself, and accept this.

You won't be feeling any better by pursueing a career, or always helping others. Only when you recognise and accept this, you can to what is most fitting for you, and become truly happy.

Almost everyone has certain fears and limitations. Some are afraid they won't be able to deal with something, some think they lack determination, others have health concerns, are low on energy and always feel tired. Because of these kind of things, perhaps you don't see clearly what you'd like to do most of all, and do you limit yourself to things that don't really matter.

Physical or mental limitations are of course annoying, but many people give up too easily, they think they won't succeed anyway. The consequence is they don't take up the challenge, held back by fears that aren't real. Try to determine how real your fears really are. Aren't you exaggerating? What is the worst that could happen. Does the world fall apart, or isn't it as bad after all? Think about what you could do if things do go wrong. This way, your fears will diminish, and you'll dare to do what your really want.

Discover your personal values

In the past as well as in the future there are clues to your personal values.

Think about the moments in your life when everything felt just right. Try to picture these moments. Where were you, with whom, what were you doing?

Do these moments have something in common? Do they share certain values? These might very well be your personal values, the silver red thread throughout your life.

Imagine yourself at your eightiest birthday. Family members or friend have organised a party for you, to show you how much they love you. Each person is telling something about your life.

What would you like them to tell? How would you have people look at you? How do you want to be remembered? Would you like to be able to say you've seen a lot of the world? Would you like to have written a book? Would you like to be remembered for your help of handicapped people?

Make a top 5 of your personal values, the most important one at the top.

Examples of personal values

variation, helping others, balance, satisfaction, creativity, expertise, honesty, recognition, equality, money, ease of mind, health, harmony, intellectual challenge, knowledge, art, love, power, environment, music, independance, prestige, relationships, beauty, spirituality, sport, status, challenge, peace, friendship, liberty, security, self expression, self realisation, …

Read and post comments | Send to a friend