Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Your Spouse’s Dreams

“That’s it, this is the last week of lazy Nelly….starting on Sunday it’s a five mile run a day, minimum, for me.”

“I’m tired of this job, seriously, this is the last day, tomorrow I am actually, seriously going to quit; enough is enough.”

“I am going to do it, seriously this time. I’m going to write that book by the end of the year, no, the end of the month.”

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m done eating like shit, today is it….diet starts tomorrow.”

And what do we say to all of this?

“Good for you!” 

“I’m so proud of you!”

“You go knock their socks off!”

“You’re amazing!”

Stop this. 

Do not encourage the incorrigible. 

Do not exclaim with sheer excitement every time your partner tells you about one of their new or continually recurring dreams masked as goals.

These are not goals. 

These are dreams. 

Dreams are thoughts or ideas which can sometimes be sensational. 

Goals on the other hand…goals are directed, clear and structured. 

Goals have an endpoint. 

Dreams have the potential to live on forever, with you forever having to listen to them (again and again).

The next time your partner starts to spout off one of their ‘dreams,’ why not actually do something supportive? Rather than listening to them and being their cheerleader, with no real direction other than smiles and cheers, sit down and figure out how to support them.

Make a plan.

Draft out what they can do to be accountable to their goal.

Determine how you can support them in achieving their goal.

It might be as simple as helping them more around the house so that they can start taking night classes towards their master’s program.

Or it might be as daunting as rousing with them an hour earlier each day for a five mile run around the neighbourhood.

Whatever it is, make it real, make it doable and make it a relationship-building opportunity. 

If you are tired of hearing your spouse complaining about how they are unhappy with aspects of their life and how they wish or dream things could be different, do not placate them, sit down with them, listen to their goal, find the barrier, provide support and actually help them achieve it. 

Why Am I Always Last to Know?

My sister is getting married, she called me the other day to tell me that she booked a venue, that the wedding is in six months and she would love for me to attend. I did not know she was dating someone seriously, let alone engaged and was shocked to find out that she had already set a date. I feel so betrayed, which I know is not fair, but how could she not think to call me a bit earlier? I feel like I am the last one to know anything that is going on in her life and it is so frustrating and do not know what to do about it. 

There are many reasons why someone may not confide in you, but anytime this happens, and it catches you off guard or hurts your feelings, it is a great opportunity for self-reflection.

If someone you love dearly does not call or inform you of a major life change, good or bad,  you might want to reevaluate your relationship to said person. I am not questioning their love for you, I am sure they care deeply for you, but there is something going on which is preventing them from being forthright with you.

People confide in individuals they trust. 

Are you a trustworthy person? Or are you perhaps a bit loose-lipped? Your loved one might not have told you about proposing to their long-term girlfriend because they did not want you to accidentally let it slip out before the big day. 

Reflect on your past experiences with being responsible for another person’s information.  How did you handle it? Did you respect their privacy? Did you not respect the fact that their information was not yours to share with others?

If you are someone who tends to share other’s information inappropriately, this may be the reason people have stopped telling you about things in their life. It does not come from a place of harm, but rather, they have simply established a boundary because of your past precedent. 

Work on respecting other people’s lives more from now on. If a friend tells you about an upcoming job interview that they are super nervous about, realize that this information, even though it may seem harmless to you, might actually be a big secret they are sharing with you. It is not information you should turn around and tell others because you do not know if it is public knowledge and should act as though it is not, until you know better. Even then, if it is public knowledge, it still is not really your information to share, so why are you sharing it.

People confide in individuals whose advice they value.

Maybe your suggestions are not the priceless commodities you believe them to be and perhaps others do not see you as the all-knowing wonder of the universe you see yourself as. I believe individuals who are regularly doling out unsolicited advice deserve a special place in hell, where they have to cohabitate with others who are also always giving out unsolicited advice. 

If someone values your insight, input and advice, they are going to seek it out themselves. If they are not seeking it out, but you are always giving it away freely, they might begin to spend less time with you or divulge less information about their life because the relationship has become grating. 

Individuals who are always telling me what is best for me, regardless of whether or not I have asked them for said information are very difficult for me to deal with. I find it extremely insulting and presumptuous of a person to assume that they know what is best for me and my life. I also start to lose respect for this person if the unsolicited advice does not cease after my attempts at ignoring it, not responding to it or actively letting them know it is not appreciated.

If you are not sure if you are always giving answers to unasked questions, shut up. Simply wait for someone to clearly ask you for your advice before giving it out from now on. It can be very hard to it, especially if you have a strong habit formulated to speak unnecessarily, but I assure you that it will strengthen your relationships if you learn to break said habit.

My friend got a huge promotion awhile ago and had a big celebration this weekend. She invited me the day before the party and quickly told me about the promotion as well, but I felt so out of the loop that I was not comfortable enough to go to the party. I feel like I am not even important to her at all, like, how could I not be one of the first people she called when she got offered the job? I feel like I am not even part of her inner circle anymore and do not know what I have done wrong.

People confide in individuals who do not mock their dreams, goals and plans.

Are you always scoffing at other’s plans for the future? Are you the negative Nelly always pointing out the flaws in your loved one’s plans? Are you the person who is always letting your friends know why their plan will not work and why they are wrong?

If this is the case, why the hell is anyone friends with you, to begin with? No one wants to be mocked, ridiculed or belittled about something that is very significant to them and their future. No one wants to be told that they cannot do something or that they lack the capacity to achieve whatever it is they are trying to achieve.

If you are always seeing the world from the murky waters of a glass half full, then you might not be everyone’s go-to person for exciting announcements. 

For example, no one wants to announce the adoption of a dog to their loved one only to be told how difficult having a dog can be and how much time they will steal from your day.  Your friend who just bought a dog wants you to be just as excited as they are about this new addition to their family. They want you to come over with zeal to meet the new four-legged friend and simply be ecstatic. Also, it is pretty arrogant of you to assume that your friend has not rationally weighed out the pros and cons of such a big decision; give people the respect you would expect from them. 

My son and his wife are moving to another city and I just found the other day. They did not even tell me directly, they told my husband, who then told me. They are leaving in less than two months and feel completely blind-sighted; I am so angry at them for not even allowing me to be a part of such a big decision in their lives. I feel as though I am always the last one to know everything in their lives and it is so cold of them. Don’t they know that I want to be there for them to support them in their lives?

People confide in individuals who are not self-centred.

Are you that person? Are you the person who makes everything and anything about themselves? For example, your friend tells you that they met someone really great and things are progressing really well, but your first thought is that you are losing your friend and that they will be too busy to spend time with you anymore? Do you actually say these things to your friend? 

Are you always able to figure out how another person’s decision is negatively impacting your life and letting them know? If so, you might not be getting informed of major life changes from loved ones anymore. Honestly, the world does not revolve around you and when you are constantly trying to make everything about you, you exhaust those around you.

People make decisions that will impact your life, sure, but that is not reason enough to bogard the good news or major life change. If your good friend just got pregnant and your first comment is, ‘Well there goes my favourite drinking buddy,’ do not be surprised if they start spending less and less time with you. We have to be able to remove our own feelings from a person’s moment of joy. 

A person’s special moment is their moment and has nothing to do with you. Sure, we are all allowed our feelings about big changes, but make sure to determine the right time, place and audience for your feelings because they might be completely selfish and best kept to yourself. 

A few years ago one of my best friends was moving to another country and they were moving very quickly, within a matter of weeks. It was a shocking revelation for me and as sad as I was and as upset as I was, I knew that this decision had nothing to do with me and I had to just support my friend through this big life change. I cried for days after she left and even to this day, there are moments where I miss so much and wish she could be experiencing the changes in my life from a closer proximity. 

Life is not perfect. Life is not all about you. Life is about making relationships work regardless of the distance, difficulties or developments afoot.

You cannot sit and cry, ‘Woe is me,’ everytime something happens to a loved one which is not ideal for your relationship with them. You cannot steal your loved one’s thunder by announcing their pregnancy before they get a chance to. You cannot laugh at your colleague’s big promotion news, telling them that the job is not worth the measly pay increase and then expect to be invited to the celebration party. 

People want to be lifted up and cheered on, not dragged down and emotionally dismembered. 

If you have a lot of free time on your hands, or if you find yourself alone and lonely more than you would like, think about your relationship with others. Think about how you handle change and if you (honestly) are a positive, uplifting person. Challenge your own assumptions about yourself and ask others what they truly think about you. Work on working on yourself. Work on working on your relationships. 

Learn to mind your business and mind your mouth and you will see your relationships blossom, better and become more bountiful. 

How to Deal with Unsolicited Advice

I absolutely despise receiving unsolicited advice. I think it is the most arrogant, narcissistic, and rude thing someone can fling your way. I keep trying to remind myself that when someone is doling out unsolicited advice that it says much more about them than me, but it can be so damn hard in the moment to remember that and not get defensive.

It can be very difficult to remain silent and not tell this person off, but we all know that it will not improve anything. I struggle to remain silent when someone is spouting (un)sage advice my way, but I am getting better at dealing with these uncomfortable situations and preventing them from being repeated. 

Firstly you have to understand why people who dole out advice behave the way they do.

People who give unsolicited advice think that everything is their way or the highway (or at least should be). 

They are very rigid in their life views and typically struggle to see situations from vantage points other than their own. They also, obviously, believe that they know best in just about any situation they hear about. Giving out advice makes them feel valued and reinforces that they know best, which is why they continue to preach the way they do.

People who give unsolicited advice are control freaks. 

They genuinely believe that if they could simply control all the decisions everyone was making the world would be a better place. They believe that they are wiser, smarter and simply more superior than other individuals and that is why they pull at your ear so. 

They also might not genuinely feel this, but giving unsolicited advice helps propel this false narrative in their mind. They genuinely want to be seen as strong and insightful, so they continue to push their own agenda to those around them. 

People who give unsolicited advice are in dire need to feel powerful. 

They want to feel like everyone’s personal Yoda. Giving advice to others makes them feel useful, powerful and valuable. It makes these people feel like they have a sense of purpose in life and that their life’s purpose is to help other individuals guide their seemingly hot mess of a life. These people typically are trying to fill some hole in themselves, which they are struggling with, but are going about it in the wrong way entirely.

So, the real question is, how to deal with unsolicited advice when it comes your way?

Like anything in your life which is causing you grief, you need to ensure that you are asserting strong boundaries with others in your life. 

Take a pause, if in the moment you can feel your anger rising, and walk away from the situation. 

Once you have cooled off let the person know that you hear their advice and are not trying to disregard them, but let them know, if from now on, you can ask for their advice when you need it. 

Try saying something like, “I really appreciate you giving me advice in the past and I know that you are coming from a place of support when you are telling me what to do, but I was hoping that moving forward I could let you know when I am looking for advice, is that okay?”

Let the person know that advice is not what you were looking for.

Tell the individual something along the lines of, “Thank you for the advice, but I was actually looking to be heard, rather than directed.” Sure, this can be tough to do, but if the person receiving said information has any empathy, they will take the clear redirection seriously.

Sometimes silence is the most powerful answer of all.

This one is really difficult for me to do, but I find it the most effective of all. Let the person preach their heart out. Let them talk and talk and talk, and simply sit there. It can be amazing how powerful silence can be when a person is looking for verification of their rightness. It can be amazing to let the silence envelope the room, allowing them to slowly realize that perhaps they misspoke, perhaps they are out of bounds, perhaps they should learn to practice silence more often as well. 

You also need to take accountability for how you might be exasperating the situation. 

Are you always complaining about your life to this person? If so, this might be why their unsolicited advice is so apparent in your relationship. Be careful of how you frame your situations in life to others and you might realize that you are venting about your life far more than you should be and perhaps also to the wrong people. 

Receiving or giving unsolicited advice is not healthy in any situation and can force people to pull away from people giving said advice. It can be very tough to receive unsolicited advice because it can make you feel less than, or that this person thinks that you are not capable of handling the course of your own life. Remember that this person is not thinking about how you are receiving this information. They are dealing with their own problems and try to keep that thought in the forefront of your mind. At the end of the day, if all else fails, you have to start distancing yourself from this person, for your own well-being and life.

Are You Addicted to Your Life Being a Mess?

Is it an almost daily or weekly event for you to have an issue you must rant about to your friends and family about? 

Is your life filled to the brim with drama and you just do not know why?

Are you always in a stressful situation, whether it be in your relationship, work-life or personal life? 

Have you ever noticed that the common denominator to your drama is you?

When your life seems to not be going your way the only thing you can change is how you react to life’s events. 

Sometimes, when we are stressed out or making everything about us, we can see other’s actions as much more personal than the person intended for them to be. 

For example, your boss comes into the office and strides right past your desk without even acknowledging you. You decide that they are mad at you about something and spend the better part of an hour texting your friend trying to figure out why they could possibly be mad at you. Have you ever considered that maybe they were preoccupied with something that happened at home, or are late for a meeting and simply did not have the time to say hello?

Sometimes we can make mountains out of molehills because we are bored, lonely or to make our lives seem a bit more important than they actually are. Not everything is about you and if you really are worried about if your boss is unhappy with your performance, ask them. Ask them, maturely at your next one-on-one, rather than texting your friend for an hour hypothesizing over what you could potentially be doing wrong. 

You are keeping shitty people in your life and complaining about them nonstop.

Sometimes we keep negative influences in our lives because it allows us to receive sympathy from others. It adds something to talk, complain or vent about and allows you to be centerstage with drinks with friends or get-togethers because you are dealing with a big, complicated mess.

For example, your boyfriend cheats on you regularly and treats you like crap, but you continue to stay with him. He has made no promises of changing his ways or improving himself, so you are in a subpar relationship, with no potential hope of improvement. Whenever you see your friends, you spend all of your time complaining about this terrible partner you have and how you hate them or cannot wait to break up with them, but you never do. The months drag on and you stay in this substandard situation because maybe you feel you cannot find someone better, it is too complicated to break up with them or, perhaps, you enjoy the attention you receive by staying. 

Sometimes the attention we receive from being in a bad situation can be very addictive and we might actually enjoy the attention we are receiving. Believe me, the sympathy you are receiving will dry up eventually; no one wants to spend their social time with a complainer forever…everyone reaches their breaking point and gets tired of hearing your bullshit on repeat.

If you are not honest and straightforward with those around you, your life will constantly be filled with drama. Whitelies, avoiding difficult conversations and deflating major issues is extremely problematic and will keep stress as a daily presence in your life.

For example, you keep avoiding your parents when they ask you about repayment of the money they lent you years ago. You start fights with them and tell them that the economy sucks and you simply cannot repay them this year, but you also still seem to find money to take yourself out for dinner once a week and you never skip out on wine Wednesdays with the girls. When you are discounting other people’s needs and stresses for your own wants your life will be stressful. 

When you act selfishly and put your needs ahead of others you will never be living the life you dream of. If someone helped you or is helping you and you made commitments to repay them in some manner, make sure when it is time to hold up your end of the bargain you do it. Nothing is worse than a person who leaves a debt unpaid and then acts rudely to the person who helped them out during their lowest point.

You keep stepping in the same pile of shit and you cannot understand why.

Your problems are not necessarily multiplying if this is the case, but rather they are consistent. When you are in this type of drama it simply shows you that you are not addressing a fundamental problem in your life and it is consistently creeping up in your day-to-day reality. 

For example, you never manage your life properly, so you are perpetually late for everything. You forget important events and it causes problems in your social and professional life. You are constantly living to just get through the day and you never feel like you are on top of your shit. 

For example, you got overlooked for a promotion at work which you really think you deserved, but your boss told you that your continual tardiness is an issue that cannot be overlooked. 

She has told you that if you are able to get to work on time that she will have more confidence in recommending you for leadership opportunities. You manage to get to work on time for a week, maybe even two, but start to slip after that. 

A new opportunity for advancement arrives a month or so later and yet again you are overlooked, but this time you blame your boss and say that she has it out for you, and will never promote you. Instead of fixing the problem, you blame the person who gave you sound advice to fix the problem. 

If you want to minimize the bad in your life you have to actively work at improving your life every day. You cannot stay in substandard relationships. You cannot stay at your dead-end job. You cannot keep avoiding the gym or eating healthy. You cannot keep ignoring your financial situation and debt. 

You also have to be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Which traits of yours simply suck? Are you a bad listener? Are you never on time? Are you forgetful? Do you make every conversation about yourself? Are you lazy? Do you only work hard if the reward is imminent? 

Self-improvement is the biggest catalyst for daily life improvement. You will be amazed at how much better your life is if you simply change your daily habits, mindset and focus. Make sure you are not simply focusing on all of your external problems, but also your internal areas of improvement. If you think that all of your problems are stemmed from the outside world and are largely other people, you are probably your own worst enemy and just do not know it yet (or ready to admit to it). 

If you continue to ignore the problems in your life you are the source of the drama in your everyday. 

If you start admitting that in order to change your life, for the better, you have to start making improvements in yourself you will start to see small, but substantial changes. 

Quit living life day-to-day, minute-to-minute, one volatile situation to the next, but rather more holistically. Start realizing that you have much more control over your life than you realized. Your whole life is basically your reaction to external events, so if you can control your reaction, you can control the drama and therefore minimize or exterminate it completely.

What Are Your Self-Limiting Beliefs?

I do not have the time to exercise.

I am simply too old

I am too busy to go back to school.

I do not have time for a relationship right now.

I am simply too poor.

I do not have enough money to start my own business.

I am simply not good enough.

I was not meant to be a leader.

Self-limiting beliefs are assumptions or ideas you have transformed into facts about your capabilities for success.

How we were raised can have a lot to do with how far we go in life. A lot of who you are comes from how you were raised and whether or not you were given positive or negative forms of affirmation. 

The self-limiting beliefs taught or emulated to us in childhood become very much engrained into us and it can be very difficult, even with clear proof that they are false, to discount. Self-limiting beliefs are so powerful that you can live your whole life finding examples or situations which validate and concretize your self-limiting beliefs. When you come across a situation or experience which challenges your self-limiting beliefs you will tend to take it as a fluke or a one-off, which is meant to be ignored. 

For example, if you were raised to believe that you are overweight and will always have weight issues because everyone in your family has weight issues, you may believe that being overweight is your destiny. You may choose to not workout or eat healthy because what is the point? You are going to be overweight regardless. 

This type of self-limiting belief is easy to see in people. I have a friend who is overweight and it negatively impacts their life in many ways. When their doctor recommended that they try losing twenty pounds, to help relieve some of their joint pain issues, they made this comment to me: “Doesn’t the doctor bloody well know that if I knew how to lose twenty pounds, I would have lost it by now? If I could lose the weight I would have, but I simply can’t; I am a fat person and that’s that. God, these doctors do not understand anything, I cannot lose weight and I need surgery.”

This friend of mine is in a toxic loop. They are overweight and believe that they can never be at a normal weight because of what they were told in childhood. They are in chronic pain and their doctor will not authorize their hip surgery until they lose the required twenty pounds for safety reasons. They believe they cannot lose the twenty pounds because if they could have they would have done so by now.

Pay attention to the roadblocks your siblings and parents have put up in their life and see if you happen to have the same blocks built up around your life–you may be surprised at what you find. 

How we perceive ourselves is very crucial to the levels of success we will reach in our life. It is very difficult to change a self-limiting belief because they feel so real. A friend of mine, who is an amazing yogi once told me that their lifelong dream was to become a yoga instructor. 

When they told me this I was really confused and asked them what the hell could be possibly stopping them from that goal? I was shocked at the seemingly endless list they bestowed on me as to why they could not become a yoga instructor, “Oh my god Aman, you would not understand. I cannot become a yoga instructor because it is simply too expensive. I just do not have the money for the certification course.” 

I countered their excuse by saying, “I’m really good with budgeting and am amazing at budgeting. Let’s sit down and make a plan to save for the course, over the next six months, so that it does not seem daunting to you Cal.”

“It is not just the money,” Cal challenged me right back, “how would I find the time for the course? I still have to pay my mortgage, it isn’t like I could just quit my job and focus on my certification.” 

“Oh, you absolutely do not have to!” I replied back, trying to show them the optimism of the situation, “there are courses you can take right here in town, during evenings and weekends that are built for working professionals, you will be fine.”

“Even if I did all that, who would even hire me?” Cal continued, “it would be such a waste of time and money, so why even bother? I know for a fact that no one would take me seriously as a yoga instructor. I’m just not a natural leader and I know that.”

Do you see how damaging self-limiting beliefs can be? No matter what solution an external person puts in front of you, you will find another blockade to put up between yourself and your dream. 

People who do this are not doing it on purpose either. They are not trying to waste your time with their dreams, to simply squash any suggestions which could lead them closer to said dream. When you are being controlled by a self-limiting belief you simply, truly and whole-heartedly believe that you could not succeed at attaining your dream in any form of reality. You truly believe, with all of your heart, that you could not attain the dream in any situation, with any level of support or with even the most extreme levels of guidance. 

Speaking with a mental health professional is the best place to start when it comes to countering self-limiting beliefs. It can be really easy to discount the positive things or solutions your family and friends say, but it is not so easy to discount cold, hard facts from someone who is able to assess how you think and why. 

A therapist I use to see regularly once asked me to do this technique, which was really eye-opening for me. She asked me to pretend that I was sitting in the empty chair beside myself and to describe who I was as a person, as if it was someone else, not me. 

As I sat there, I looked at this empty chair and envisioned myself sitting there, “Well,” I started off slowly, “Aman is a massive procrastinator, she is lazy, selfish and not a very good friend or relative.” 

“Why do you see her like that?” asked my therapist, “Let’s unpack this procrastination issue, why do you see her as a procrastinator?” 

The fascinating thing my therapist did was that she kept forcing me to see this person as a separate entity, not me talking about myself and kept redirecting me when I spoke about myself. As I started doing the technique, I had to keep walking back a lot of the things I was saying, “Well, she really is not a procrastinator, she gets a lot accomplished in her life, but maybe her major problem is that if she doesn’t complete everything on her list of things-to-do each day, it makes her get really frustrated with herself. Maybe she is just too hard on herself?”

“So what do you think Aman could do, to help alleviate this daily frustration and sadness she is inflicting on herself on an almost daily basis?” asked my therapist. 

“Well, maybe she should expect a more realistic amount of things from herself, rather than a list that is daunting and always really difficult to finalize each day realistically,” I said back. It was an eye-opening experience for me. 

It probably took about ten or fifteen minutes for me to warm up to the technique, but once I started seeing myself as a separate person, I started to see myself in a much more loving way. I started seeing my virtues, recognizing my vices and why I was focusing on my failures more than my successes on a regular basis. Since that therapy session, I never write down more than three tasks for each day to complete. I can also tell when I am under pressure, stressed or anxious because I start creating these cumbersome lists of things to do each day and have to forcefully stop myself. 

When you start assessing where you are unhappy with yourself and your life, you might realize that self-limiting beliefs have a much larger stranglehold on you than were acutely aware of. It is not an overnight fix, but more of a lifelong daily task at redirecting yourself. If you take on this task diligently and make it a daily practice you will make your life much more enjoyable and you may be shocked to realize that you are a happier person because of it. 

When you stop being swayed or stunted by your self-limiting beliefs or when you can at least you can start correcting yourself when you can hear that type of talk appearing, you will find you are happier in your daily existence.