Tag Archives: healthy relationships

Surround Yourself With The Right People

by Kelvin Belfon

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“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

The people in our lives matter. They either help us reach our destiny or hinder our growth.

I was reminded of this truth in a recent conversation with my wife Camilla. She’s currently working on a PhD degree in Religious Studies. With an 8-year old, 5-year old, 2-year olds twins, me and a house to care for, how she accomplishes all she does is a mystery to me.

Camilla’s academic workload includes attending classes, writing multiple papers, and sometimes grading and delivering lectures as a teacher assistant. What she’s got going on is more than two full-time jobs. She oftentimes turns nights into days; and even that is sometimes not enough.

I have no doubts in my wife’s abilities. She’s smart and industrious. But as she’s stated along the way, the big key to progressing through this PhD is that she surrounds herself with a supportive network.

An even bigger key for her is that she is mindful of “trimming the fat.” What I mean is that she often de-clutters relationships that are bad news for her so as to maintain a minimalist community based on mutual respect and faithfulness. Camilla has assembled a diverse team of professors, colleagues and friends to serve as confidants as she pursues her academic goals.

The doctoral attrition rate is 50% (or even higher in some cases) according to the Ph.D. Completion Project. Besides lack of financial aid, students sighted the most critical factors to success in a PhD program is the lack of an encouraging “program environment.” In other words, feelings of being isolated and abandoned are overriding causes for at least 50% of PhD candidates dropping out.

What this suggests to me is that education, skills, economic force and family history are all good essential determinators in a person’s ability to flourish. But even more essential is getting the right people orbiting your sphere. So, if you want to be successful, you must take this age-old advice seriously– choose your friends wisely.

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The people on your power team will serve distinct roles. Some will inspire, motivate and highlight your best. Some make great conversation partners for mutual exchanges of strategies, insights and challenges.

Others will not be so easily impressed with where you are. They’ll push you and provide constructive criticism that won’t always feel comfortable. You’ll have to develop a thick skin and not take yourself so seriously around these folks. You’ll have to resist taking offense and judging them when they’re being honest. There’s a difference between a committed mentor and a toxic relationship.

The right people in your life may only surface during a season of crisis. They may be available infrequently, as a quick lifeline. But because of who they are, you may err if you approach them as your best bud. Keeping a respectful distance and not taking up too much of their time communicates maturity and understanding to these kinds of partners.

They might be older, younger, or reside in another zip code. They may not even be a specialist in your field of interest. What makes them golden is that they have a vital perspective because of their emotional distance from your pursuits.

Analyze your social environment. The people in your world are important. Ask the tough questions, “Is this individual interested in my well-being?” “Does she love me genuinely, without strings attached?” “Is he a liability because of the chaos that seems to be a pattern in his life?”

Troubled and drama prone people are everywhere. They encourage underachievement complacency, imbalance, and unhealthy habits. Some can add unnecessary burden to your already busy life, which can end up hijacking your goals and jeopardizes your personal wholeness.

We need people in our lives. They help us achieve more.

But remember…

Surround yourself with smart and encouraging people. Spend time with people who believe in your dreams. Find people who celebrate your accomplishments but are also honest to lovingly push you to your greatest potential.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Going Uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

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Signs of Toxic Relationships

by Kelvin Belfon

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Taking inventory of one’s possessions and minimizing excess is no small task. Yet, when it comes to managing relationships, this area of life can be a bit more unwieldy. People can require a pretty significant amount of emotional and time commitment. And while people relationships can be complicated, they are also potentially our most valuable possession. So let’s admit from the start–letting people go is never an easy task.

Still we need to be intentional with the people we allow in our personal circle. Our relationships can either make us or break us. And our quality of life is dependent on it. Positive relationships add value; but toxic relationships can be harmful to our health.

We’ve all come across these sorts of people within our family, among friends or in the workplace. Toxic relationships don’t only involve physical abuse, either. Some of the most life debilitating forms come in very discreet packaging, through both verbal and nonverbal interactions.

These interactions are nevertheless toxic because they bring on feelings of guilt, unhappiness, condemnation, and unworthiness. They can leave us emotionally drained. Toxic people cause unnecessary stress, anxiety, depression and serious medical problems such as high blood pressure and even heart issues.

In my experience with toxic people, they’ve left me feeling trapped and controlled on account of me suppressing my true feelings over time. I’ve even blamed myself in the past for issues that arise as a result of their boundary crossing.  Like most of us, I knew something was wrong in the relationship; but I didn’t know how to read the signs of toxic relationships. I ignored my own intuition and allowed the dysfunction to continue for too long.

Learning the Signs of Toxic Relationships

Learning from the lived trials and pain caused by these types of people, I’ve become much better over the years at identifying the signs that tell when a relationship has reached its expiration. Here are a few:

You are not allowed to grow. Toxic people love to bring up your past and enjoy talking about your mistakes and failures. They are often judgmental and will make feeble attempts at fixing you. You can’t do anything right around them. And even when you take steps to improve yourself, toxic individuals get uncomfortable with the new you. They may even laugh at the thought of your positive intentions.

Your physical appearance is belittled. These unhealthy individuals will make you self-conscious about your looks. Physical features such as your weight, height, skin color, or even certain cultural distinctions are a constant subject of conversation. Toxic people will even banter about your physical disabilities, such as in the way you walk or speak. After being around them, you may leave feeling small, deflated, lonely or unsatisfied with yourself.

You’ll hear more trigger words. I’m sure you’ve heard them, “If you love me, then you’ll…” “Forgive me, I’ll do better next time…” “I didn’t mean those words…” Toxic people are liars and deceptive. They may even use tears for an emotional pity party. But there is no change. The truth is, there will never be. They break promises to continue their manipulative abusive behavior.

You are abused by their position. We are taught as children to honor and respect authority; and we should. But toxic people don’t play fair. They use their roles and titles to control and often get away with it. Because of their status, they are able to cowardly hide their shortcomings and make themselves unaccountable. And they play that game very well. They also tend to demand recognition and dependency on them.

Serving their agenda is priority. Toxic people are narcissistic and tend to use others for their aggrandizement. They use people’s emotions, time, skills and financial resources for their gain. Their agenda must be your goal. There is no mutual positive exchange in this relationship. Only the toxic partner benefits while your feelings and opinions are ignored.

You lack energy instead of feeling motivated. Toxic people are needy, weak individuals. They drain your energy with their constant complaints, frustrations, ongoing drama, and need for attention. So you retreat, become non-communicative and even hesitate to spend time with this person. The relationship grows to be superficial and you only meet out of obligation.

You feel isolated from other relationships. This is the “divide and conquer” strategy where toxic people try to alienate you from others important people in your life. Over time, you become suspicious of them. Later you find yourself fighting or disagreeing with these friends or loved ones for no apparent reason. This is because your manipulator has craftily succeeded in sowing his/her seed of distrust in you already.

You defend your abuser. This follows the previous point. The toxic individual demands loyalty and you willingly play that role. Yet they may betray your trust to others without any feeling of remorse. And because you are so emotionally attached to this person, you justify their unhealthy behaviors. When outsiders point out any abuse or inconsistency in this relationship, the toxic individual expects that you, the victim, will fully defend their cause. This is one of the most sinister strategies, sometimes called Stockholm Syndrome.

Toxic relationships are NOT normal or healthy. They demand too much energy and deplete from your sense of well-being. Life is too short to allow others to control you. Learn to read the signs or take a profile test to determine the health of your relationships. If you are in a toxic relationship, seek help and get out now.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to going uncomplicated, comment below or join me on Facebook.

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6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

by Kelvin Belfon

6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

I recently took a trip to our local Goodwill store. It was after my wife de-cluttered our kid’s bedroom, again. This has become the most challenging room thus far. I tackled a much easier project, the basement. The back car seats and trunk were filled with boxes, all containing clothes, toys, books, backpacks, and electronics. The pay off is that we’ve now reclaimed a good amount of space in both locations.

Since the whole family has been on board from the beginning, downsizing our living space and being more particular about the things we accumulate has been a collective effort. Our trips to the store have been reduced significantly. We are constantly learning how to live without excess.

But I’ve been asking myself what is the essence of a simplicity lifestyle. We tend to associate this simple living movement with ideas like, less is more, reducing, emotional detachment from things and recycling? Yet, I believe the simple lifestyle requires a more comprehensive description.

It’s also about embracing habits that promote wholeness, health, and fulfillment. It’s about adding the things that enrich our lives and make us better individuals. So, instead of focusing exclusively on eliminating or removing things, consider adding a few things.

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6 Simple Things to Add to Your Life

1. Me Time – This sounds narcissistic but we need more time to ourselves. We need time to think, meditate, decompress, and dream. Extra time is needed for the body to rest, heal and rejuvenate from the busyness of life. In some cases, our bodies need to catch up on much needed sleep. I’m often refreshed, empowered, and creative after my times of solitude.

2. Relationships – People are our most prized possession. Spending more time with our loved ones: spouses, children, family members, and friends is important. This is never automatic; it’s something we prioritize. My wife recently told me about the death of an old high school friend’s husband. The whole thing was so sad. The husband lost the battle to cancer. Events like these remind me of the brevity of life on this earth.  Let’s value the time spent with loved ones.

3. Memorable Experiences – Let’s be honest. We remember the memorable experiences shared with people far more than we do most purchasing events. The “good feeling” we get from buying things is really a temporary high. And it doesn’t take that long for consumables to become annoying clutter in our homes. Experiences, on the other hand, build stronger and longer lasting relationships. Instead of things, give people the gift of experiences. Spend some quality time spent with your children this weekend. Go hiking with a good friend. These are very simple ways of showing the people in your life that you value them with little to no money involved.

4. Financial Freedom – We need money but obsessing over it can lead to enslavement, frustration and regrets. Financial freedom is living unencumbered by debt. It’s having options, the power to choose. Financial freedom is knowing what’s enough and avoiding our culture’s need to accumulate. It’s no wonder that some the benefits of financial freedom are restful sleep patterns, low stress, and all around healthy mindset.

5. Healthier Diet and Exercise – Eating healthy and maintaining a regular exercise regimen can add longevity to our lives. Increasing our consumption of fresh, green vegetables and fruits in our diet is a better choice than opting for the processed, refined foods. The American Heart Associate says an extra 30 minutes of exercise per day can boost mental wellness, build immunity, reduce risk factors and prolong optimal health.

6. Spontaneity – This was much easier earlier in my married life. My wife and I took numerous unplanned, last minute, and exploratory trips. We are now a family of 6 with routines and schedules to keep us sane. Yet adding spontaneity to our lives is freeing. It gives us a sense of adventure and provides an opportunity to relax, smile, laugh, and create the memorable experiences mentioned above. So we have to be creative in this area. For example, take an unplanned trip to the mountains or go on a date with that special someone.

How about you, what would you add to your life?

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