Monthly Archives: January 2015

Just Asking… (Has your relationship grown stale?)

Relationships are interesting. No two are alike, and they require different things to survive. Even though they can be like night and day, there’s one commonality in all healthy relationships. In order for them to flourish, the individuals involved must invest time in them. If each partner fails to invest “adequate” time in the relationship, it will soon grow stale. It would be nice if one could place a relationship on autopilot and make it function properly, but that’s not the case. And even though different relationships may require different actions to make them work, investing time (in whatever form that works for you) is an essential ingredient.

 

What does it reveal when you invest time in your relationship? It shows that you care. Time is a valuable commodity, and it has been said that you can tell what a person values by how he spends his time. A person can say that he loves someone, but if he fails to carve out time for that person, his love is probably shallow. After a while it becomes hard to believe a person’s words if he invests time in everything else besides the relationship.

 

There’s no predetermined amount of time that’s perfect. The importance is not on the amount, but on the quality. And remember, it’s important not to compare your relationship with other relationships, you must examine your relationship and decide how to best invest your time.

 

One thing holds true. If you fail to invest time in your relationship, you will see the results. Neglecting your relationship makes it easy for the love and affection that you once had to slowly disappear and fade away to nothing. It depletes the freshness and causes it to become stale.

 

If you’ve fallen into a rut in your relationship, consider investing time in it. Find the things that you and your mate enjoy and get busy doing them. And don’t go by your feelings, they aren’t important. Invest the time, and if you’re sincere and committed, the feelings could follow.

Books by Levon

Just Asking… (Are you investing in yourself?)

You are the most valuable asset in your life. That may sound strange, but it’s true. Ultimately, you are responsible for investing in you. The routes you take and when you take them make all the difference. Yet the desired goal remains the same: to become a better you.

 

You may have a different starting point in life from others, but the grand thing about this is you don’t have to remain on the starting line once you’ve discovered there’s a finish line. Your finish line may be different from the next person’s finish line, but it doesn’t matter, your focal point gives you direction for your life. You don’t even have to know how to get to your finish line in the beginning, you just have to know there is one, and all you have to do is figure out how to take the next step. What’s so amazing about the race is once you take the first step, you’ve moved from where you were, making it possible to take the next step. However, if you refuse to take a step, the next step will never be possible.

 

It’s interesting that people take different approaches in the race of life. Some remain at the starting point, making excuses of why they can’t take steps forward. Some start the race easily but allow distractions to move them off course. Some run the race steadily but get tired along the way. They move to the side to rest, but after moving to the side, never get back on track. Some start later than others, but when they capture the vision, they move with all diligence to the end. Then others move forth continuously, never forgetting what they started out to do.

 

That being said, it’s wise to invest in yourself continuously. Do you need more education to get where you’re going? Then get it. Don’t use the excuse that it will take too much of your time. Time will pass whether you do anything productive or not. Do you need to learn more about your trade? Then research it through the resources that are available. Etch out time consistently to get informed.

 

Whatever you need to do to invest in yourself, do it. Remember, time waits for no one. And if you can’t see the value in yourself, how can you expect someone else to see it?

 

Once you start investing in yourself, you will begin to see the returns. Initially, they may be slow or fluctuate, but if you continue to invest, you will reap the benefits. And refuse to worry about where you are or what you see right now. Just get excited about investing, and prove your excitement by doing something to invest in yourself today!

Books by Levon

Just Asking… (Are you listening to the wrong voices?)

I remember the process of looking to purchase my first house. As an eager and gung ho property virgin, I went to the bank to speak to one of the bank’s representatives. When I told her what I wanted, she scanned the contents in my portfolio. After her brief perusal, she told me there was no way I could get what I was asking for. I thanked her for her advice, packed my things and headed out the door. Even though she was blunt and spoke with conviction, something within me wouldn’t absorb her words. I recognized she looked at my situation and came to her conclusion, but within me, I knew what I wanted was available to me.

 

For months afterwards, I continued my house search. Everything I wanted was out of my price range, and because I knew I needed to use wisdom, I refused to get in over my head in debt. After much searching coupled with periods of frustration, I finally found the house I wanted. By the time I took some friends to see it, it was already “under contract.” At that moment, the voice of the bank representative rang in my mind. It mocked my efforts, and I retreated in disappointment.

 

However, as fate would have it, I reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen in some time. She showed me the plans she had for a house she wanted to build. She spoke with such conviction that it prompted me to restart my house search.

 

To my amazement, I found a house shortly after I resumed my quest. And guess what? It had everything I asked for and more (and it was well within my price range). I immediately made an offer on the property and shortly thereafter moved in, defying the very words that tried to dissuade me.

 

Why did I provide this illustration? I wanted you to know that just because somebody says you can’t doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t. Just because somebody tells you something you want to do is impossible doesn’t necessarily mean it’s impossible. Just because someone tells you it’ll never happen doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t happen.

 

Many people have risen to great success after they were told no. They refused to allow that word to stop them. They continued on their paths even if they had to travel them alone.

 

What is something you gave up on because somebody told you that you couldn’t obtain it? I’m not talking about overriding someone’s will, but I’m talking about a goal you’ve made for yourself. Whatever it is, shake off that disappointment and resume your journey. Make a decision to defy those words that made you quit. If you do, you may also find yourself living in that thing someone said was out of your reach.

Books by Levon

Just Asking… (Do you realize love doesn’t hurt like that?)

When an advisor talks to someone about his or her relationship, he is treading on thin ice. A person may say he wants counsel, but when the advisor points out truths that are uncomfortable, the advisee may become defensive and turn on the advisor. Not because he doesn’t know the person is speaking truth, but because the truth is too painful to accept. Instead of admitting his hurt, he lashes out at the person pointing out behaviors because it’s an easier option than facing his reality.

 

It’s very difficult to watch someone defend an abuser’s actions. That person believes that the abuser’s love for him is strong. He makes all kinds of excuses for the abuser’s behaviors. Excuses such as Sarah came from an abusive family, at least Johnny pays the bills, you don’t know Ralph like I do or that’s just Mary’s way are some of the excuses that make the list.

 

However, when someone berates you or calls you names, that isn’t love. When someone beats you unmercifully, that isn’t love. When someone threatens your life, that isn’t love. When someone belittles your every effort, that isn’t love. Regardless of what the person says, if he is engaging in these or similar behaviors, he is not demonstrating love.

 

Covering up an abuser’s deeds will never work. Making excuses about his behaviors will never motivate change. Continually accepting the abuse will make matters worse, not only for him, but also for you.

 

I know this is a touchy subject, but if you are in an abusive relationship, seek help. Know that you are more valuable than a punching bag or a target for emotional insults. It may be scary to make changes, but with the help of others, you can do it. Just remember, the first step is usually the hardest to take. But you are not alone. Help is out there if you are willing to ask for it.

Books by Levon

Just Asking… (Are you stunting the growth of your adult children?)

Most parents want the best for their children. Many of them nurture their children to the best of their abilities and watch them grow through stages. If things go as planned, their children learn life lessons along the way and carry those lessons into adulthood. Their children may make mistakes, but because of their foundations, they learn from their mistakes and move forward.

 

Because of the investment many parents make in their children, some of them don’t know how or refuse to let their children grow up. During the first sign of struggle, they jump to the rescue. They continuously bail their children out of trouble, never allowing their children to stretch and grow. Instead of watching their caterpillars struggle to break out of the cocoons, parents break open the cocoons for them, thereby forfeiting their children’s chances of ever becoming butterflies.

 

Interestingly, parents who interfere in their children’s growing process think they are helping. They say they can’t bear to see their children experience discomfort so they do whatever they can to smooth things over. They are so focused on their children that they forget about themselves.

 

It may seem admirable for a parent to be so invested in his adult children’s lives, but if a parent operates on this premise, he will soon discover that instead of helping his adult child, he has stunted his growth. It takes wisdom to know when to offer help and when to back away and allow an adult child to find solutions to his own problems. It takes strength to watch an adult child struggle, knowing that struggle is not always bad. And it takes resolve to step aside when everything in a parent wants to make things better.

 

Take an honest look at your actions with your adult children. Ask yourself whether your “interference” is hindering them or helping them to move towards maturity. If they are making the same mistakes repeatedly and you keep bailing them out, your “help” just may be a hindrance. If this is the case, love them enough to step aside. Remember, it may be difficult to watch that caterpillar struggle, but if you refuse to open the cocoon during the struggle, that caterpillar could turn into a beautiful butterfly.

Books by Levon

Just Asking… (Do dating singles or married couples interact more with their mates?)

Years ago, a friend and I went to a restaurant in order to conduct a non-scientific experiment. Our goal was to observe couples and try to determine by their behaviors whether they were married or dating singles. We assumed they were married (to each other) if they had rings on their fingers.

 

We agreed to watch the couples from the time they got out of the car until they finished their meals. Our theory was that married couples interacted and communicated less than those who were dating.

 

We looked for several things in our unsuspecting subjects:

 

Did the man open the door for the woman?

Did one walk in front of the other, or did they walk side by side?

Did they hold hands during the outing?

During the meal, did they make eye contact?

Did either one of them touch the other?

Did they talk during the meal, or did they eat in silence?

Did they smile at each other?

 

As we suspected, those without rings fulfilled more of these actions than those with rings. As a result of this flimsy data, I developed a hypothesis that dating people communicated and interacted more than married people.

 

However, as I matured and entered the ranks of the married, I realized that couples who have been together for a long time have ways of communicating with each other beyond the mere use of words. They can sit in each other’s presence and communicate volumes. Where dating couples may have to express everything verbally, some long-time married couples can express things with looks or gestures. Situations can arise, and they automatically know what his or her mate wants or needs. Longevity has the potential of inspiring an unspoken language, a language that is deeper than what others may see.

 

After coming to this conclusion, I destroyed my initial hypothesis. I realized that one group may interact with their mates differently, but it doesn’t mean one way is superior. It only means they communicate and interact with each other based on what works for them.

Books by Levon

 

 

Just Asking… (Do you know temptation is shrewd?)

You’ve been thinking about it for some time. You’ve done your research, and you’ve prepared yourself to the best of your ability. It’s now time to make your purchase, to buy that vehicle you’ve always wanted. You head to the dealership with a price in mind, and you vowed before entering the lot, that you would not allow the salesperson to sway you to go over your budget. You walk around the lot, looking at the makes and models that fall within your price range, fortifying your resolve to stick to your guns.

 

Then it happens. The salesperson approaches you with the widest and friendliest smile you’ve ever seen. Captured by such a friendly presence, you exchange greetings. In order not to be swayed, you immediately let him know what you are looking for. He smiles and takes you to vehicles that you’ve described. However, during his presentation, he mentions a vehicle that’s out of your range, but tells you he only mentioned it to inform you of how far technology has advanced. Instead of stopping the conversation, you listen intently, telling yourself that you’ll hear him out. You’re in no hurry to go home, so you agree to take a look at the updated model. As you peep through the window, he sees a smile appear on your face. He scratches his head as if he’s thinking, then he tells you he wants to do you a favor. He whispers he wouldn’t do it for just anyone, only for “special” people. He agrees to talk to his supervisor and try to persuade him to work out a special deal for you. He pats you on the shoulder and heads to his office, leaving you alone to think about his proposition. When he returns, his current smile is broader than his initial one. Before you know what happened, you’ve signed a contract for a seven-year instead of a five-year car loan. Yes, the monthly payments are within reach, but you’ve overridden your boundaries and spent more than you intended.

 

How many times in life have you found yourself in a similar situation? You’ve set firm boundaries for yourself, but a pretty face, deep voice, one drink, tasty dish, offer of money, proposed opportunity or some other thing made you reconsider. Instead of rejecting the initial suggestions to move off track, you briefly entertained them. Instead of moving away from the temptation, you lingered, vowing that you could handle the pressure. The more you exposed yourself to the hype, the weaker your resolve became. Before long, you’ve expanded your boundary lines and allowed things you previously refused to enter to walk in freely.

 

That’s how temptation works. It doesn’t try to get you off course all at once. It wants to move you away from your convictions an inch at a time. Once you’ve moved an inch, it sits back and waits. It knows in time, that inch will become a mile, and that mile will lead you away from your destiny.

 

I admonish you not to be like those easily swayed, guard your boundaries with diligence. Once you open yourself up to temptation and its trappings, you are in for a ride of your life (a ride you may live to regret).

Books by Levon