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HELP! Have I stopped growing as a person?

4 Min Read
Lifestyle

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HELP! I Hate Kissing My Fiance!

Dear Armchair Psychologist
I'm engaged to a super-smart, funny guy. Our relationship started off a bit rocky, but we're in a great place now — engaged and living together. The problem I have is that I hate kissing him! His mouth doesn't look hygienic enough, his teeth are yellow and not in order. I've told him how I feel, and he refuses to do anything about it. Instead, he takes it as an affront and gets offended at any suggestions of teeth whitening, etc. I love him and want to be his wife, but can this relationship survive without kisses?
- Yuck

Dear Yuck,

I'm sorry to that hear you're repulsed by your fiance's kisses. My opinion is that intimacy, affection, and sexual compatibility are a must for a happy relationship. No one should endure an intimate relationship sans kissing unless one partner is ill of course. I'd advise using a gentler, compassionate tone (in a relaxed environment that isn't so charged) and purchasing some white strips- use them yourself and offer them to him. If this doesn't work, I'd advise you to seek a relationship counselor that can help the two of you work through these differences. It may be wise to hold off on walking down the aisle until you can agree on locking lips!

- The Armchair Psychologist

HELP! Have I stopped growing as a person?

Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I was recently stuck in a rut of indecisiveness about my life and relationships. I am coming to the conclusion that this is because my personal growth and evolution have stopped. I'm often feeling mostly empty inside. What are the signs that my personal growth has stopped, is this common, and what to do about it?
- Anxious

Dear Anxious,

I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling stuck in rut. It must be frustrating to feel indecisive about the future of your life and your relationships. You say you feel mostly empty inside and that you might not personally be growing or evolving. You also say you have a hard time making decisions which could be a byproduct of the weight of feeling empty inside. Feeling stuck and avoiding responsibilities are good indicators that your personal growth has halted. Perhaps you're suffering from 1) depression and/or 2) an existential crisis. I recommend you see a qualified therapist to explore and treat either. The human condition is a very uncertain and often unbearable thing to ponder and give meaning to, this struggle commonly gives rise to feelings of despair and anxiety. It is extremely common to go through this phenomena in any of life's various stages and especially if you have experienced trauma or a recent major life transition such as being diagnosed with an illness, having children, going through a divorce or separation, a significant job change, etc.

Existentialism means that we as humans have the freedom to make choices in life, but also that the awareness and responsibility of these freedoms lead us to have despair and anxiety because we are certain to die. "Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?" philosopher and author Leo Tolstoy famously asked.

Like many philosophers and famous writers, Tolstoy documented his own struggle with personal growth and the evolution of self. He struggled with depression due to existential anxiety to such extent he sought to kill himself, but not until he had turned all of the major sciences on their heads to find an answer. He finally arrived at the conclusion that life can only be meaningful if there is something worth doing that will make a permanent difference in the world, and that this something can only be accomplished if one has an immortal, spiritual self.

Another philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, (whom I'm currently taking this wonderful Coursera class on), emphasized that life is not something we solve, but a journey we experience, and that this journey requires assigning meaning to one's own life by taking action and responsibility. He acknowledged a fear that prevents us from accomplishing this in defining many levels of despair or "sickness," which he described as a universal problem (whether or not one is aware of one's own despair, is another matter). In the book, The Sickness Unto Death, he writes "Despair is not just an emotion, in a deeper sense it is the loss of self."

Similarly, Paul Sarte, in Transcendence of the Ego along with many eastern belief systems, speaks of authenticity and creating a new consciousness by casting aside the "ego" and focusing on a deeper awareness in order to evolve. There are, of course, countless ideologies and methods on how to evolve and grow as a human being, meditation being an effective one.

Most importantly, what all of these philosophies have in common is that in order to make one's life meaningful, there has to be change and that only personal action can lead to change. In other words, you must somehow move past fear and indecisiveness to change your life for the better and create a meaningful life that can evolve over time. The old saying, "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves" comes to mind. Here is a useful step by step by Dr. Jim Taylor, a former top skier turned Psychologist, to overcome some of these challenges. I hope you make at least one decision right now, the decision to act!

- The Armchair Psychologist

Need more armchair psychologist in your life? Check out the last installment or email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get some advice of your own!

5 Min Read
Career

How Fitness Saved My Life and Became My Career

Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da

If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.

In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.

These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.

After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.

About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.

I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.

When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.

Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.

Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.

Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.

This article was originally published September 12, 2019.