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Boundaries and Why We Need Them

Posted By Krissy Mulpeter, Friday, November 30, 2018
Updated: Monday, December 3, 2018

I’m sure you’ve heard someone utter the phrase “boundary setting” at one point or another. This self-help buzzword is all over the place and can be misunderstood as purely conversational, or, even worse, ultimatum-based. I think, though, that boundaries are the small choices, actions, and deliberations that gradually help us become a truer, deeper version of ourselves. As a mental health therapist, when I see a client experiencing symptoms like anxiety or depression, I try to always consider the client’s relationship to boundary-setting and I think it is useful for everyone to consider.

Boundaries are the small choices, actions, and deliberations that gradually help us become a truer, deeper version of ourselves.

 Is it challenging for you to you to say no to others, to dissent the majority opinion, or declare your own uniqueness? On the flip side, are you more comfortable stating where you stand, what your limits are, and what you need without creating space for hearing those of the people around you? 

If you tend toward the former, you could find yourself yielding to those around you. When it comes to things like where to eat lunch, what show to watch, or how to spend your day off, these compromises might not seem very consequential. Over time, though, these conceded decisions compromise who we are and what we desire. When we don’t have a firm grip of where our boundaries lie, we can start to lose ourselves.

If you tend toward the latter, you may have rigidity around your boundaries. You may find most comfort and safety in stating your boundaries without thoroughly considering those of others which, to you, might run the risk of renegotiating yours, or even defending them. Maybe there was a time in your life when someone else’s rigidity trampled your boundaries, which showed you the way you know how to stay strong in your sense of self. 

All relationships demand establishing similarities and differences over and over. It is the bumping into one another’s boundaries that teaches, not only, those around us who we are, but also teaches ourselves who we are. Declaring our boundaries can be challenging in a culture that prescribes for us what those boundaries should be and how we should go about setting them, depending on things like gender, race, or social class. Declaring our boundaries can also be challenging when you grew up in a family where you either learn to yield unconditionally in order to accommodate those around you, or where you were rarely shown how to consider alternate paths or to collaborate. In addition to these challenges, breaking out of our boundary habits can be scary, sending a rush of uncertainty into our body, and causing our hearts to race or faces to flush. The result though, is almost always the same: becoming more you. How can that not feel good? With balance in boundaries, we can find ourselves in relationships that are more authentic, fulfilling, and, ultimately, have a more fulfilling relationship to the world.

Communicating boundaries starts small in minute-by-minute choices and daily conversations. It is the first step on a path to re-establishing yourself in the world, to gain a clearer sense of self, more fulfilling relationships, and a life that is truly yours.

Krissy MulpeterKrissy Mulpeter is an individual, couples & family therapist, self-care enthusiast, and seeker of stories. She writes to explore topics in wellness, whole-hearted living, and healthy relationships to self and the ones we love. When she is not doing therapy or writing, Krissy enjoys caring for her plants, cooking, getting exercise in the most fun ways possible, and traveling.

Tags:  Boundaries  Self Care  self-Help 

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New Times Need a New Approach to Smoking in the Workplace

Posted By Michael Hook, Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2018

There has been a shift in perspective in many workplaces regarding assisting smoking employees to quit the habit. The emphasis has swung away from the traditional health concerns accompanying smoking and very firmly towards a concern about the loss of productivity caused by the regular smoke breaks that smokers take.

The days of finger-pointing are over, and the forward-looking organization is being more creative about smoking cessation.

Part of the reason for this is employers are finally doing the math, which reveals those four or five ten-minute breaks daily add up to a loss of close to two full working days a month. This alarming calculation has led to the caring employer examining more carefully the various options available when initiating a new smoking at work strategy. Out of this are emerging some really creative solutions to offer to smokers to make the prospect of quitting more attractive.  (We must bear in mind that the average smoker is absolutely terrified at the prospect of separation from not only the nicotine but perhaps more importantly, the patterns and triggers smokers have perfected via consistent practice, often up to 20 times a day).


So, which of these approaches are having the desired effect?

A Japanese company routinely awards the non-smokers an extra 6 leave days a year. I like this initiative because the reward spans both general non-smokers as well as the newly liberated smokers. So 6 days off work is actually a great deal for the employer as in actual fact smokers generally waste up to 2 full work days each month, the net benefit being an extra 18 days each year of productivity. The employer noted a marked interest in quitting and a much-improved success rate for those attempting to slay the nicotine dragon. 

An American study by the University of Pennsylvania, using a base of 2500 CVS Caremark employees took the “skin in the game” approach by asking potential quitters to bet $150 of their own money, which they would recoup with a handsome bonus when achieving success. A second model grouped quitters and rewarded this group financially upon success.

Both approaches were declared successful, the former especially in recruiting program attendees, but each model had a much higher success rate than unrewarded programs of a similar nature.

Incentives need not be of high monetary value, and the prestige and recognition for successfully quitting often works very well. A very simple approach I recommended to a banking group was to give successful quitters a free cappuccino voucher each day, partly as a reward and partly to keep the quitting momentum. Quitters used this as an opportunity to gather and support each other, and in ways this seemed to replace the connection previously enjoyed when smokers met up a few times a day. Cost to company was minimal but rewardees felt special and appreciated.

I’ve consulted to an organization who tried discouraging smoking by moving the smoking area further and further from the front entrance, but the result was the breaks just consumed more time as smokers had to walk farther. My recommendation was to have a smoking area much closer and in plain view of the open plan offices. Smokers were very aware they were being observed by co-workers and management and we also asked that smokers be urged to join a quitting program sponsored by the employer. This not as a finger pointing exercise, rather offered as a caring and concerned effort to improve the lives and health of valued employees. The results have been encouraging.

The days of finger-pointing are over, and the forward-looking organization is being more creative about smoking cessation. While the long-term health hazards of smoking have long been understood,  when we do the sums on lost employee productivity, such company support for employee smoking cessation is a no-brainer.

Michael HookMichael Hook is a herbal and natural medicine manufacturer, transformation and personal development facilitator, and the father of the Beyond Nicotine quit smoking program. Hook trains practitioners to present the Workshop Experience worldwide. 

Tags:  Quitting Smoking  Smoking  Smoking cessation  Workplace 

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Your Body is Speaking, Are You Listening? Reclaim Your Sacred Vessel for Sustainable Wellbeing

Posted By Lisa Medley, Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2018

We live in a time where we feast on information, yet starve for connection. When it comes to our wellbeing, although we have access to a wealth of knowledge, resources, and research about what to DO, the culture’s state of health indicates a lack in how well we really BE.

happy family lying in the grassWhat is missing? I believe that part of the equation is how we perceive what our body is. How we view, relate, and care for our body, or not, reflects our quality of wellbeing. Our thoughts and feelings dictate our actions and therefore, our results. If we want behavior change, it is critical that we include the point of view of how the body is defined and experienced. There is a plethora of negative body myths that have been programmed into the culture for a very, very, very long time.

Once upon a time, in ancient times, there was a perspective that honored the body as sacred. The rhythms of nature, including the body, were respected and integrated into daily life. This was thousands of years ago.

Then, qualities of domination and control over the natural world rose up and the value of the body went down. As time went on, with suppression of the body and its wisdom well underway, there were attempts to understand how the world really worked. Although well intended, René Descartes (“I think, therefore I am”), developed a conviction that the natural world could be understood in mechanical terms. After all, his take on the body was that it was like a clock. It could be taken apart, studied like pieces of machinery, and then put back together with the assumption that it would work again just fine. Sound familiar?

When the Industrial Revolution began a few hundred years ago, the experience of our body was transformed from a human being to a human doing. The assembly line way of life and push to produce become the status quo. Although this era contributed to the progression of culture, this pace of life caused an increased regression from our natural state of ease and grace. Life got more linear, repetitive, and static; the experience of the body did too. There was a continued loss of connection to our fluid, expansive, and dynamic nature.

We are now in the age of technology, and then some. We are constantly overloaded with information, the onslaught of data is relentless, and try as we might to keep up with it all, we can’t. Why? Because we are not designed to live up to the myth that the body is a machine. Or many of the other myths that have been injected to keep us distanced from our true nature.

Woman looking at an image of a beautiful female face.One of these myths is body as object. This is a whole other discussion. For now, I’ll share a story of a recent observation by my 10-year old son. We were in a store where I was looking at nail polish colors. My son saw a poster ad of a woman selling make up. He wondered why it looked like she wasn’t wearing any clothes. It was a headshot from the shoulders up with no evidence of an undergarment or a shirt. He was confused. I was awestruck. I asked him why he thought they show ads like this. He said he didn’t know, that they should have clothes on, and just focus on the products they are selling. I gave him a hug.

Other body myths include getting caught up in metrics madness. Measuring the status of our body based on the size of our dress, the shape of a body part, or our blood pressure, BMI, and number on a scale. Or our age. Or our fitness level.

There is another body myth that has also been around since ancient times; bypass. Even though this perspective is coming from a place to connect to something greater, there also can be enormous judgement of our physical existence and denial of our incarnation.

Sometimes this bypass is employed when life gets too much and we numb. We want to feel better, so we make choices to not feel. I get it. My perspective on numbing is that there is a time and place for it. We do the best we can and can only do so much when we have run out of tools or support or both. However, this way of life is not really living, and at some point, we have to come back to Earth.

The presence of these body myths, especially when unconscious, can contribute to the degree of behavior change success. If the body is perceived as a machine, an object, or measured only by numbers, then, although some positive change can occur, it may not be as long-lasting, integrated, or well, easy.

The remedy to expand beyond the ancient presence of warped, limiting beliefs about the body is to remember what it really is: a natural living process.

The body is alive, full of life. The degree of vitality reflects how the inner environment is adapting to the external world. If dis-ease is occurring, the body shape-shifts, evolves, and does its very best to back into balance, center, homeostasis. The body WANTS to feel good, or at least better. It functions optimally when effective communication between the systems takes place. It roots for cooperation. It depends on our listening skills and the positive ways we respond to its needs. It can self-heal (!) when given the opportunity. It thrives when we bring its voice to the table of our life. It celebrates when we go with its flow!

Our body is a sacred vessel, guiding us to choose from the feel-good and live in alignment with our best self. When we reclaim this truth, we raise our body consciousness. This awareness, coupled with positive lifestyle choices that prevent a majority of dis-ease, increases a state of wellbeing that is sustainable. Your body is speaking; it is time to listen. Your life depends on it.

Lisa MedleyLisa Medley, MA serves as a Wellbeing and Body Intelligence Expert. She supports her clients to cultivate positive relationships with their body for sustainable inside-out wellbeing. Lisa believes in reintegrating the body and its wisdom to support the evolution of our divine human potential. Learn more at

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How Meditation Increases Emotional Intelligence

Posted By Trevor McDonald, Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Emotional intelligence can be a sign of emotional strength, and it’s a trait that many people strive to achieve. But while most of us strive to become emotionally intelligent, some are confused about what that really means.

emotional intelligence illustration

What is emotional intelligence?

It’s common to confuse emotional intelligence with empathy, but the two are mutually exclusive. You can have empathy and not emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence comes into play when you have enough self-awareness to be able to manage your empathy.

Emotional intelligence is comprised of the following:

  1. Self-awareness — a conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, and desires.
  2. Social awareness — an understanding of other people’s feelings and motivations (this includes empathy).
  3. Self-management — the ability to maintain self-control, remain adaptable and have a positive outlook.
  4. Relationship management — the ability to work within a team, resolve conflicts and inspire leadership.

How to Achieve Emotional Intelligence

Think about emotional intelligence in terms of a workout. If you wanted to run a marathon or enter a bodybuilding competition, you’d have to train. You can set goals, but if you’re like most people, you’re always going to strive to be better.

In that way, emotional intelligence is like fitness. But instead of working out your body, you’re working out your mind.

Meditation is one of the best ways to exercise your mind, but you can also start with self-awareness. Step back and take a mental note of how you handle your own emotions. Are you quick to react without thinking things through? If so, you have some room for improvement.

Meditation is such a good mental practice that it’s commonly incorporated into addiction recovery treatment and other counseling methods. But you don’t need to be in recovery to strengthen your mind.

How Meditation Increases Emotional Intelligence

rocks stacked in a zen sand garden

Did you know that meditation can actually change the physical structure of your brain? A Harvard research team came to this conclusion after studying the effects of meditation. When you start to meditate, the changes you’re likely to see can help support your emotional IQ.

  • Self-awareness — Improved self-awareness is a major goal of meditation. When you meditate, you’re training your mind to focus in the present moment. Through meditation and mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts and physical presence.
  • Social awarenessMeditation strengthens connections between two areas of the brain that can help improve a person’s sense of empathy: The dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the insula. The dorsomedial prefrontal cortex manages your personal perspective while the insula is involved with inferring someone else’s state of mind. As you become more aware of other people’s feelings and motives, you will become more socially aware.
  • Self-management — Meditation can help weaken neural connections in the amygdala and strengthen connections in the prefrontal cortex. Fear and anger are triggered in the amygdala while the prefrontal cortex is responsible for rational thought and logic. The combination of reducing fear and boosting logic can help you improve levels of self-control and self-management.
  • Relationship management — Meditation can help you become more aware and in-control over your own emotions. It can also help you become more aware of other people's emotions. Through increased empathy and understanding, you can improve things like teamwork, conflict management, and empathy. As you let go of personal bias, you'll find that you're able to have more effective discussions and better relationships.

How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

If you’ve been avoiding meditation because you think it’s difficult or the thought seems overwhelming, you may be in for a treat. While meditation may be difficult to master, it is simple to practice. You don't need any special tools or expensive equipment. All you need is the willingness and a quiet space to practice.

Sit in a quiet room, preferably facing a blank wall. This will help eliminate any distractions. Next, set a timer for 5 minutes. Your goal within these 5 minutes is to focus on the present moment. Start by noticing your breath. Feel the air as it flows through your nostrils. Don’t try to control your breaths, but just notice them. If you start thinking about anything, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Simply try not to follow the thought. For example, if you remember you have to get milk, try to let it end there. Don’t follow the thought down the path of what else you might need or what you’re going to use the milk for. When the timer buzzes, you have completed your session. As you feel more confident in your practice, you may increase time by 5-minute increments until you reach 30 minutes.

Note: The mindfulness meditation described here is a different practice than transcendental meditation. Both practices are very beneficial. For an article about the difference between these two practices, click here. To download our tool for Transcendental Meditation, click here.

Emotional intelligence is a trait that some of the world’s greatest leaders have in spades, and you can have it too. Strengthen your mind through meditation, and you should notice a difference in your emotional IQ.

Trevor McDonaldTrevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who's been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

Tags:  addiction recovery  emotional intelligence  meditation  mindfulness  wellness 

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Health Consciousness and Resilience Training is More Than "Check the Box"

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 2, 2018

The Roles of Resilience and Empowered Health Consciousness

Resilience is operable in a window of time; it is the “bounce back” from adversity. Health consciousness is an ongoing process. It comes before resilience, is at play during resilience, and continues after the resilience. If you are not conscious of what’s happening during the stress-inducing event, you are not going to be resilient. Being present and aware during an adverse experience enables you to learn from the difficulty, promoting a resilient response.

Resilience and health consciousness work together to create a culture of awareness and learning in which people respond more positively to adversity.

Resilience vs. Empowered Health Consciousness

A course in resilience and stress management will not help your staff if they return to a toxic work environment. Empowered Health Consciousness is a route to addressing resiliency work in a conscious, mindful way to stimulate growth and health in the work culture, the work climate, and the work environment. Health consciousness and resilience work together.

The National Wellness Institute offers two facilitator certificate courses in partnership with Organizational Wellness and Learning Systems (OWLS):

Resilience & Thriving: The Secret Power of Stress
Empowered Health Consciousness

Individuals who earn a Facilitator Certificate through NWI will be able to use the tools, resources, and techniques provided in the certificate course to train students, employees, and clients in various settings in the topic presented.

Tags:  Emotional intelligence  empowered health consciousness  resilience  thriving 

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