How to Get Through a Breakup

5 Tips to Help Your Heart Heal Faster

“A day will come when you don’t hurt anymore. You won’t even remember what it was like to love him.”

That is what my then mother-in-law told me one day as I sat on her couch sobbing over her son.

I denied the possibility. With all of my heart, I protested her years of wisdom.

“You’ll see.” She smiled at me with intense kindness and acknowledgement that her son was abusing a good thing. I knew she meant well, but I was convinced that she had no idea what was going on in my heart.

But what do ya know?

One morning I woke up and realized she was right.

It seemed so sudden. I wasn’t sad about him. I didn’t hope to hear from him that day. I almost felt bad thinking that if he called, I might hurt his feelings when I honestly admitted I didn’t want him anymore.

Why did I reject what someone much wiser and experienced told me about the healing process?

Because I didn’t know that getting there was a process.

For many months, I had to suffer so I could wake up feeling like I suddenly had a new, healthy view on an old, toxic relationship.

And maybe her comment to me would have made more sense if I had known there were 5 major things I could have done sooner to help my heart heal faster.

1) You have to let go with your hands first. Your heart will follow.

You cannot follow him around, check up on him on Facebook, or listen people tell you what is going on in his life.

We live in a very connected world now, unlike any other time before. The temptation to see what he’s posting, what type of contact he’s keeping with other people close to you, and where he’s “checking-in” online will feel more like breaking a bad addiction than breaking off a relationship.

Your heart wants to hang on, so it’s going to try to tell your hands what to do. But this is one of the few times listening to your heart is a bad idea.

Put your mind in control of your emotions (and more importantly, your actions) so your heart can heal.

2) Surround yourself with a strong support system (if you have one).

More often than not, other people who love you will have insight when heartbreak is tempting you to act irrationally.

If you have someone who has always cared about what is best for you, consider what they have to say. People who love you want to see you happy, not hurting. You might be tempted to think they are just being nosy or jealous, and that might be true from time to time. But if they have been with you through other lows in your life, this time will likely be no exception.

Some people don’t have a strong social support system. If that’s the case for you, you will be ok. Remember that while friends can provide support, they are not your foundation. You can build a foundation with or without others to help.

If you don’t have a lot of friends, or even one friend, to help you through this, try finding comfort in novels, uplifting films, music, art, or anything else that brings you joy.

And what if your support system is also his support system? What if you share mutual friends?

Keep reading…

3) Any “friend” who serves as your reporter about what is going on in his life has got to go – at least for now.

Friends accept your boundaries. Friends will not tell you things that upset you. If you have a friend who always disrespects your limits or who intentionally upsets you, that is a different issue that requires different attention. But in a situation where your friend is otherwise good to you, and is now suddenly serving as an informant about his life, there is no room for compromise.

Either the friend accepts that you will hear none of it or you will have to part ways until you can get over your breakup.

Sometimes a friend will mean well. She’ll either tell you things about your ex because you’re asking and she doesn’t want tell you “no,” or she will want to see you back with the person – especially if she is a friend to both you and your ex.

Or maybe she just doesn’t want to see you hurting. Maybe she believes the best way to feel better is to go back to him.

Tell her, very firmly:

“I know you want to see me happy. But I have to get through this to be happy again. It will take me longer to recover if I keep hearing about him. I want our friendship to be about me and you, not about him. If you mention him again, I’ll have stay away until hearing about him doesn’t hurt anymore”

You and those around need to do things and say things that set you free of the things that cause you pain.

The people around you need to encourage you to endure the pain in a healthy way so you can heal, no matter how long it takes.

Which (guess what?) brings me to #4:

4) Feel the pain and accept that this is part of the healing process. But don’t embrace it.

Emotional health requires us to feel appropriate feelings at appropriate times.

Don’t assume, as I did, that you will always feel as bad as you do today.

Take time to grieve. The feeling of loss is real. You’re going to know that person is out there living a life without you. You might feel jealousy, anger, and heartache. And that is all ok and perfectly normal!

Acknowledge how you feel and say to yourself, “Soon, this will all be behind me.”

Write in a journal. Use the journal to say positive things to yourself. When you write in your journal, write to yourself that it is ok and that things will get better. At the end of every entry, remind yourself that your pain is temporary.

When you feel like you’re going through hell, keep going. Eventually you’ll get through to the other side.

 

 

Remember: If you feel like you’re not healing or that the pain is too much to bear, seek help from a trained professional. There is no shame in needing help!

5) Remember: A bad relationship is a lot like sour milk. Each time you go back for more, it is more rotten than the time before.

If you think the next time will be better, be careful.

Each time you get back together with your ex, there will be more baggage than the last time. There will be one more split with more hurt to forgive.

Just like the rotten milk, every time you put it back on the shelf, it becomes more and more rotten. Each drink you take will taste worse than the last. And the more rotten the drink, the longer it will take to get rid of the aftertaste.

Each time you go back and split again, it will feel like a setback. You will feel like all of the progress you made during the time apart is lost and wasted. Just when you’re about to make a breakthrough, you revert, and lose all of the progress it took to get to this point. When you deal with the next split, you’ll need to start the mourning process all over again. You will know that all of the progress, all of the time it took to get that bad taste out of your mouth, all of the hurt you suffered and almost overcame, is lost.

You will be left feeling more helpless. And sometimes more embarrassed when you tell everyone, “We broke up” and they say, “Again?”

So keep all of this in mind. Read it. And read it again. And again. Because…

“A day will come when you don’t hurt anymore.”

There will not be some point in time when your life suddenly divides into B.H. and A.H. (Before Him and After Him).

There will be some vague, gray area in the middle that you may never quite be able to define. But it is always a very vulnerable time where you must guard yourself and decide you love yourself more than anyone else. You must stay on guard in that gray time so you do not slip into the delusion that “this time will be different.”

When you finally decide to let go once and for all, it’s going to hurt.

But every day that passes, even though you don’t realize it at the time, wisdom and knowledge are replacing pain. Each passing day, you’re developing an understanding of yourself that you can never find as long as you are occupying your energies with the stress that comes with trying to fix another broken person.

And one morning, when the pain subsides, “you won’t even remember what it was like to love him.”

Have you been through a breakup and know this advice to be true? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Or do you know someone going through a breakup who could use some help with a broken heart? Share this with them.  

Or just share it with everyone! You never know who might need help with a healing heart.

Why You Must Always Forgive Your Parents — No Matter What

All parents make mistakes, but is there some line they can cross into the unforgivable? Or should we always forgive them no matter what merely because they are our parents?

After I wrote about my son and a major mistake I made with him, I thought about my parents and the mistakes they made with me.

I like to think I turned out pretty well to have come from the parents I had. When people hear me say that, they often say they feel the same way about themselves, even though they seem to have what I consider “normal” parents.

(I know, I know. No such thing.)

For years, I blamed my parents for the mistakes I made in my life. I blamed them for my low self-esteem in my young life and for the poor decisions I made because of it. I couldn’t find any forgiveness in my heart for either of them.

But as time went on, and I started making mistakes with my own children, I realized I couldn’t keep blaming my parents for all the things wrong with my life. To do so was to remain a victim and to continue to live a life of defeat.

The choice to live better was mine.

So was the choice to forgive.

I made the decision to forgive and to keep in touch with my one living parent. I chose this, because I believe both of my parents did the best they could with what they knew.

I have someone close to me who feels his mother hurt him intentionally, so he has decided to end that relationship.

Do I think my decision was the morally superior one? No.

Each of us has to do what we believed was best. Wounds caused by a parent can be some of the hardest to endure, because children look to their parents for protection.

But whether we continue to have a relationship with our parents is not the only issue. The most important question is whether we can be at peace with it.

I once read that harboring hatred and resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Think about that for a moment.

What good does it do for you to harbor hatred? It did no good for me. In fact, it hurt me worse than my parents ever did, because the hatred kept me feeling victimized.

I think too often we hold onto our hate as a defense mechanism. We might think that if we maintain a certain level of hatred, we will remember to keep a safe emotional distance from the person who hurt us. This distance, we believe, protects us from the one who caused the pain.

But distance alone will not help us feel better if we can’t let go.  The thought of the pain will linger and the distance may make the memories even harder to bear.

What we must do, for our own sakes, is learn to face the situation and make a choice about the best way to move forward.

If you choose to walk away, do so because you’re putting the hurt in the past and have decided this is the best way to move forward.

If you choose to keep in contact, put the past in the past, and make a choice to be unaffected by whatever they might do or say from now on.

Whatever you do, forgive them.

Not because they are parents who deserve forgiveness, but because you are a daughter (or son) who deserves peace.

Why You Should Value Every Minute with Your Mom

My mother died when I was a teenager. For the last 8 years of her life, it was just me and her. She did everything for me, and I adored her. But I still remember times when I thought I hated her.

I know she did some things wrong. And she could be vindictive, even with me, the one I always figured was her favorite child. There were times when I knew she was petty, and I remember thinking she was being silly over the time she wanted me to devote to her. She was very sensitive about the things I said to her, and she would often cry about or seem to be hurt by some things I said to her. She was a professional giver of the silent treatment.

But even though I remember her being that way, and I remember feeling irritated with her, I can’t remember what the irritation actually felt like. Because since she died, I can’t imagine why I would have ever felt that way about a woman I loved so much. And because I’ve never loved another woman like I loved her, I have never been able to be irritated by any other woman in the same way. As time passed, the irritation lessened and the memories of those feelings grew vaguer.

See, when your mother is gone (and sadly, I know some of you reading will already know this is true), you might not even remember how bad it was. You’ll remember she did bad things, but as time goes on, you tend to shut out the bad stuff and remember the good things. The bad things seem not so bad and maybe even a little silly.

I wish I had a minute with her again, even if it was one of those minutes that she was irritating me for accidentally hitting her and accusing me of doing it on purpose. I wish I could hear her voice again, even if it was the nagging one that told me I didn’t clean the house well enough.

I have a friend whose abusive mother died about 5 years ago. While I would sometimes get annoyed with my mom, I can truly say that she never abused me. But what is most interesting to me is that even though my friend was abused, she defends her mother, brags about her, and tells everyone what a great mother she was.

At times, I think she’s being delusional. But today, Mother’s Day, I realize she really does remember her mom that way. Because once our mothers are gone, no matter what they might have been, we often remember them in the way that makes us feel good about them.

Of course, I don’t think every person who has abusive parents should keep submitting themselves to abuse. But maybe if our moms are just slightly annoying, we can learn to overlook those things and cherish every minute we have with them.

Thinking back on the time with my mom, I realize how different our world was. I always wonder what she’d think about all of these things we have now. How people are telling their moms Happy Mother’s Day on Facebook now for the whole world to see.

She’d probably scoff and say those were private matters that should be handled in person. She’s probably say that if you love someone you don’t have to broadcast it. I remember her being a little naggy about people and the things they did. Even though she did it in the softest, sweetest voice.

And even though I know that if she was still alive, I’d probably be thinking, “Oh, Mom. Hush,” I still wish I had her back to be annoyed with her again. I don’t like knowing I have forgotten some of those feelings I had for her, even if it was a negative emotion. Knowing I don’t remember the feelings means I’ve forgotten some things about our relationship.

So, I’ll do that thing that would’ve made her mad. I’ll tell her publicly how much I miss her, how she was a great mother, and that I love her.

I love you, Momma. I miss you. You were great. Happy Mother’s Day.

I wish she was here to read that. So she could fuss at me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers today.

And if you still have your mom, take a minute to tell her what you want to her to know. Even if she annoys you. You’ll probably forget her naggings someday. But you’ll never forget the times you didn’t tell her you love her.

Why I Question Every Part of Who I Am

I received this email from “Sheela.” She writes:

Dear Natasha,

Thank you for your efforts.

My problem is that, most of the time, I agree to disagree with the person I am in conversation with. This is especially true in my close relationships. Within the social circle, I have a name as a person who gets along well, and I am considered a balanced, mature person. But whenever I am with my husband, children, and friends, I sort of always tend to see things from the opposite perspective of what they say. I doubt this is to get a balanced viewpoint or to show my superiority.

I also realize that in most of the cases, I don’t have a specific view point or clear side.

My opinion is too open. So, I feel that I am sort of confused and lack clarity on who I am and what I am.

And mind you, I am a middle-aged married, mother of two grown-up boys, who was working until very recently, and I am well-read. Please help me to understand myself.

-Sheela

Dear Sheela,

Thank you for taking time to email.

Right away, I  noticed that you and I have a lot in common. For many years, and even sometimes now, I tell my family that I feel like a stranger in this world. I feel as though I think much differently than those around me, even when people agree with my ideas.  Sometimes it seems as though everyone gets something that I just don’t get.

I often feel like I am having trouble explaining myself or that people think they understand me when they actually only see the surface of who I am and what I think. In the past, I have found myself very frustrated by all of this, even to the point of mild depression.

I question every part of who I am. And I feel frustrated when I see others seem so confident with their identities.

I always wondered, “Why do I always question everything? No one else seems to!” And then I would start to question myself, and why I seemed so burden by my curiosities about life and relationships when so many others simply went with whatever came their way without a thought.

Another interesting thing you said is that you are a middle-aged woman. I am always encouraged to hear that women in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond are still questioning things around them. What this says to me is that you have not settled for an explanation of who you are, and you have not given up on learning about yourself.

I think there are more women in this world like this than we often realize, but like you, we think we are alone because the women who feel this way don’t talk about it. We are often afraid to speak up about our questions, afraid to contest the standards of those around us. So, we just keep our mouths closed, believing that if people really knew us, they would reject us. It can be a very lonely feeling.

You seem to be saying that, because you don’t think like everyone else around you and because other people can’t understand you, you don’t understand who you are. Please, never confuse an open mind with a lack of understanding of yourself. Instead, your open mind is part of you.

Your analysis of things around you is part of what defines the woman you are.

I always remind myself that those who think they have the answers are the furthest from the truth. The more we think we know, the less we actually do, because we have closed ourselves off to possibilities and have settled for limited knowledge.

There is a lot to be said for a person who is surrounded by like-minded family and friends yet still disagrees with them. I have been accused of arguing for argument’s sake. People have often told me that it would not matter what they say, I would disagree with them or that I merely want people to think like me.

But that certainly isn’t true.

I think that I, like you, simply don’t want to settle for the status quo, the “common sense” explanation for things, or the popular opinions. All I want (and I would bet you feel the same way) is for people to question why they feel the way they do about things. I often find that the best conversations I have with friends or family aren’t with those who agree with me. Instead, the best interactions are with those who evaluate why we disagree.

 

 

Take pride, Sheela, in the fact that you ask questions and have difficulty choosing a side. You are a critical thinker, and the best changes in life can arise from our questions we ask about ourselves, our lives, our relationships, and the world around us.

Don’t let your question about the norm or about your differences of opinion be a source of stress for you. Ease your mind by remembering that your differences of opinion are indicators of your ability to think for yourself.

Thank you again, Sheela. Thank you for saying the things that so many of us are afraid to admit. And I admire you for challenging the norm.

Keep seeking. Those who don’t seek truth are guaranteed to never find it.

Please comment and share your experience. Share with others who share Sheela’s dilemma. Let others who question themselves know they are not alone.

Pulling Yourself Over the Wall of Frustration

brickwallGet up! You want jets? Then, get up. You’re going over that wall!

Oh, that scene from An Officer and A Gentleman from 1982 gives me chills every time.

What can a great scene from an old movie say to you today?

(If you haven’t seen it, read this article anyway. Then, rent the movie, and come back and read again.)

In that scene, you see a male character who has only ever thought of himself beginning to care about the success of other people. But most importantly, you see a woman feeling defeated and succumbing to self-pity.

Am I saying humans aren’t allowed to make mistakes? Not allowed to let the world get to them from time to time? That if we allow frustrations to hinder us, we are weak? After all, aren’t we “only human?”

Frustration is part of the human experience. It is part of our growth, and through the frustration, we can learn a lot about ourselves — if we choose to learn from it.

When we make mistakes or experience frustration, the term “human” is a compliment. It says we are capable of self-awareness and analysis of situations that are beyond the abilities of many other animals.

But “only human” is an excuse. It is a distraction from the fact that, because we are human, we can be triumphant in the face of frustration.

Think back to our female character. Had she sat there, conquered, what would have been the benefit to her? The fact is, whatever you are and whatever you aren’t is because of your choices.

This is not only true of today. Yes, the past and those choices we have made affected what we are (or aren’t) at the moment.

But this is also true of the future. The choices we make today will affect what we are (or aren’t) tomorrow. And next week. And next year.

The frustrations seem overwhelming right now. We live in difficult times.

If we let our frustrations stop us from learning something new, working hard today to accomplish a lifelong dream, or getting out of the unhealthy friendship or abusive relationship, we will surely regret it.

But in a few years, when you have accomplished your goal, the frustration will be only a memory to you and evidence that you were (and still are!) capable of more than you ever imagined.

Let your frustrations get the best of you and live to regret it.

Or, keep your eyes on the goal, knowing that the pain is only temporary.

Three steps. Right. Left. Right. Hand over hand. Walk the wall.

I’m always incredibly moved with each little phrase he shouts, because it does not matter if the message came from 1982 or 1882, we all need to hear what he’s really saying.

Stop looking for someone to blame. Stop making excuses. And stop expecting to arrive at a destination without taking the trip.

Walk it.

Don’t you let go! You walk that wall. Pull over.

Pull yourself over!

Because  I love you,

T.L.

(“brick wall” Image Courtesy of Stephen Yip)

It Is Not Too Late to Make Today Productive

Many times, procrastination has kept me from making the most of every minute of the day. For example, yesterday my husband and I worked on a project for our business. It took longer than I expected, running well into the late afternoon. After we had supper, I looked at the clock.

5:00

I said to my husband, “It’s too late in the day to write.”

But a few minutes later, my son came to me to tell me he had only read one chapter of one of his summer reading books today. He’s going for a large number of points within a few months in hopes of earning a trophy at the end of the program.

I caught myself saying to him, “Don’t worry. It’s only 5:15. You still have plenty of time left today! It’s not too late to make today productive.”

Busted!

(Though no one noticed I was busted by me – the one who should have noticed.)

Many of us have this mode of thinking that we need time off. We are told we deserve it or we earned it. But what does too much time off do for us?

If we are unhappy with our circumstances or simply have goals we’d like to achieve, too much time off can be detrimental to our success and to our goals.

Our 40-hour work week has brainwashed us into believing we should work for our 8 hours a day and then we should stop and throw away the rest of the day.

But when our 40-hour work week is the only productive time we have in our lives, what happens to our happiness and our sense of self? When our only productive time is the work week, we become our day jobs. Some people are fine with that. I am not.

I enjoy writing far too much to give myself a 5 hour break from it. Sometimes, that 5 hours between the end of our workday (which can often be every day of the week) is the only time I have to really work on the things I love the most.

So, what is “too late”?

Is it a certain time of the day? A certain time of the week or year? A certain time of our life?

None of these is realistic, because we define “too late.”

Many times, I have wasted several hours per day after our day job thinking, “Well, I did enough. I worked hard. I deserve some time off tonight.”

But I don’t deserve time off if I am unhappy with my circumstances or situation or if I have a goal I want to accomplish, whether that goal is to spend valuable time with my family or spend more time writing.

What I deserve (not because of something spiritual or supernatural, but because I am important to myself and to my family) is to work hard and be happy with my achievements, both personal and professional.

I deserve peace and happiness that comes from knowing I used every minute of every day wisely. And that I didn’t punch my proverbial timecard at 5 PM to spend the rest of the day deserving time off — time off that I will likely regret later.

We all know the handouts are few and far between. And even if we have the money for the things that aren’t free, some things can’t be bought. Valuable time with our families, peace that comes from meditation, a healthy body that comes from exercise, or the freedom of owning our own business. All of these come from effective, thoughtful allocation of our time.

I woke up this morning to a tweet about “taking a break for YOU.”  Monday morning and someone is already telling us we’ve working hard enough. What ever happened to “working hard for YOU”?

I’m not opposed to taking breaks to recollect ourselves, but I believe the “me time” mentality is spoiling us and simultaneously robbing us of our ambition. “Me time” is a money maker, but not for “me.” And if you aren’t sure of that, take a look at some of the commercials on television. How much money is our “me time” making for other people?

I try to remember that when I’m not working toward my goals, someone else out there is working toward theirs — and it could be the same as mine. If I haven’t used every minute I can to achieve mine, I’ll be in no place to feel jealousy or animosity toward those who did all they could with every minute they had. But how many of us are guilty of that?

We all see so many people complaining about their circumstances, but we all have the ability to make some of those circumstances better. Some of us are fortunate enough to have the ability to make all of our circumstances better.

Oh, I’m sure this won’t be the most popular piece I have ever written. As I said, there is a lot of money to be made from telling us how important it is to waste time. Those who have a lot to earn from it have spent a lot of money convincing us all that we “deserve that break.” It’s ingrained within us now, and the truth is sometimes hard for us to swallow. Hard for me to swallow. I’m writing to myself as much as I am to anyone else right now.

I challenge each person who reads this (and the writer) to use every minute of the day as efficiently (yet peacefully) as possible.

Is it 9 PM? Do you have a few minutes before bed? Take those few minutes to seek the information you need to achieve your goals and work toward them.

Remember, each day is made up of minutes. 1,440 to be exact. But that’s only one minute at a time.

How much closer to your goal (personal or professional) can that one minute take you if you use it wisely?

Today can be productive if we choose to make it so.

If you found value in this article, please share it with your family and friends.

And tell me in the comments section below how you plan to make today productive.

People Pushing You Around? Here’s Why & How to Stop Them

Let’s be real. There are some bossy folks out there. And bossy people are often drawn to people who are kindhearted, loving, and extremely accepting.

Why? Because people who like to push others around don’t like people who resist the orders they give.

Have you recently noticed (or maybe always known) that you have a lot of problems with people pushing you around?

In a healthy relationship, each person should usually feel better after each interaction with the other. Healthy relationships are uplifting and encouraging.

In a healthy relationship, both people learn from each other and know the other person has something to teach.

If after an interaction with someone in your life, you feel bad about yourself, like you never do anything right, or if you keep doing what you’re told rather than what you want to do, there is an imbalance in your relationship.

Bossy people see you as an inferior, as an underling, as someone in need of correction. They consider themselves superior, wiser, and believe they have some understanding about life that you simply don’t have.

They have all the answers, and you can’t teach them anything. Or so they like to believe.

They are drawn to you like a north pole of a magnet to the south pole of another, because that’s exactly what you are – polar opposites.

You are gentle, kind, and just want to feel validated, accepted, and appreciated. 

They are often aggressive, insecure, and self-validate their own beliefs.

They recognize a person with wonderful qualities they can exploit.

But we can’t blame them. Nope. Because to blame them leaves us feeling as though this is “just the way it is” and there is no changing it.

As difficult as it may be to accept, people who push us around aren’t the ones we need to try to change. Why? Because we can’t change anyone. We can only change ourselves. In turn, this leads to changes in how people treat us. We set the standards for what we will accept from others.

At some point in time, we began to believe that our desires, wants, dreams, goals, and ways of life were unacceptable. Somewhere back there, we accepted the belief that others’ opinions and ideals for life were validated and ours were not.

Once we accepted that – whether it started with parents, friends, or coworkers – we, the pushovers, gave the bossy, overbearing personality types permission to treat us however they wanted.

Because we pushovers are kind, loving, and soft-hearted, and sometimes even feel bad for bossy people when we stand up to them, we often open ourselves up so much that we let others “in” too much.

Pushy people, who tend to be quite selfish and self-centered, are naturally attracted to us. We validate their opinions. We do what they tell us. We allow them to talk down to us and drain our time and energy. We allow them to put their needs ahead of our own.

The characteristics of a pushover can be wonderful traits if we can learn to manage them in a healthy way. If you fit the description, know that there is nothing wrong with being a good person.

We just can’t allow people to abuse our goodness.

The true fault actually lies with the person who abuses a kind, loving, caring heart. And even though your goodness is admirable, we still have to balance it with a life that satisfies us more than it satisfies the people in our lives.

How to Stop Getting Pushed Around

You have to stop and ask yourself:

How long have I been allowing this type of behavior from the people around me?

What have I said (or maybe not said) to these people to make them think I need to be told what to do all of the time?

It’s time to recognize that you are just as valuable as them.

The things you want, love, believe – they are all just as valid as the wants, loves, and beliefs of the people telling you your way is wrong and that their way is better for you.

So, now you know why you’re getting pushed around. What do you do about it?

Acknowledge this:

Through your actions and words, you teach people how to treat you. And if you want people to treat you with respect, you first have to believe you are worthy of it. Then, act like it.

You start, as with all long term lifestyle changes, slowly.

It would be impossible to expect a person like me or you to suddenly rebel against everything a bossy person says.

For one thing, we’d feel terrible about it! We’d feel like the big bullies we’re trying to avoid. No soft-hearted person can suddenly dive right into assertiveness without feeling like a jerk. We care too much about the feelings of others. (If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have found ourselves in this position.)

So, start with someone you do not hold in the highest regard, someone who seems less important in the grand scheme of your life. And preferably with someone you have known for a shorter period of time.

Practice saying, “No.” Not out of spite, but only when you really don’t want to do the thing they want you to do.

 

 

Read and remember this little anecdote:

I recently met a man who held a job in a position of high authority. That’s not so unusual, but his appearance for the job was. He had a very long gray beard and hairstyle, like a young hippy who had just stepped out of the 1960’s but still aged at a normal speed.

After a while, his appearance made its way into our conversation.

He told me he went to many interviews before he landed his current job nearly 20 years earlier. He said he suspected he was rejected from many jobs for his appearance. But there was one interview where he was sure it was the reason.

The interviewer there blatantly said to him, “You will have to cut your hair and trim your beard.”

He said, “I stood up calmly, reached out to shake his hand and gently said, ‘I am no longer interested in working for your company.’” With the interviewer shocked and speechless, they shook hands and he walked out of the office.

You see, that person had no authority over him. He did not hold the interviewer’s opinion in high regard. He recognized that if he started bowing to their every demand right away, he would work as an inferior employee as long as he tolerated it.

He knew they wanted to fill the position with a pushover, rather than an individual with unique qualities.

He said, “I knew that I would eventually find people who accepted me for what I had to offer. A few weeks later I did, and I’ve had this job for 20 years now.”

If you can start there, in simple interactions with people whose opinions matter less to you, who, if you don’t put your foot down right away will believe they can always be in charge of everything you do, you’ll be taking the first step toward relationships built on mutual respect.

A word of warning:

Some people will not like this change. After all, some of them were drawn to you because you never said, “No.”

When you start to say no to people who only want to hear “yes,” they will feel out of control. They might exhibit anger toward you. Their pushiness might intensify. Just like a school bully, they might taunt you:

“Oooh, look at you, trying to stand up for yourself.”

This might intimidate you at first. But once you break through that intimidation, they won’t know how to handle you and one of three things will happen:

Either:

1. They will change the way they treat you because they love you enough to want to stay in your life. This is ideal, of course, but it is also beyond your control.

-Or-

2. They will begin to distance themselves from you, maybe even with a sudden outburst or confrontation. This could be uncomfortable for you, but it won’t last long. Endure it and let them move on to someone else they can push around. Consider this a compliment to your new-found individuality.

-Or-

3. You’ll become confident enough to acknowledge you don’t need that pushy negativity in your life anymore, and you’ll be the one to confidently walk away from them.

Becoming more assertive might feel difficult at times. You might lose some people you’ve had in your life for a long time. But as time goes on and you become more confident and assertive, you’ll see those open relationship positions begin to fill with people who appreciate and respect individuality.

Remember: The ultimate goal is always to achieve healthy relationships where each person learns and grows in positive ways because they interact. Healthy relationships always begin with confidence.

Who is pushing you around? How long has it been going on? Tell us your story in the comments and what you think you can do to stop it.

And share this article with someone in your life who needs relationships built on mutual respect.

How to Stop Caring What People Think About You – Instead of Just Saying You Don’t

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of caring about what people think about me.

So, why can’t we just stop caring? We can, but this is why it might seem hard.

It’s in our DNA. And it has a purpose!

We care what people think about us, because we have a survival instinct. And part of our survival depends on being part of a group. Or at least it used to.

Think about it like this…

There is strength in numbers. Earlier humans lived in tribes, because they knew it was a way to stay safe. And for the group to keep you, you had to be liked and accepted or – “Out!”

Next thing that poor girl knew, she was some big animal’s dinner.

The others who didn’t get outcast and eaten learned the benefits of being part of the “ingroup,” the “cool girls,” the “sorority sisters.”

They passed that need for acceptance all the way down to us.

Now here we are. Living in the modern world. Still thinking that being an outcast puts out out there alone as lion prey. You know, not exactly. But it causes a similar anxiety and it is the origin of the need for acceptance.

So, to cover for the fact that we care and don’t know how to stop caring, too many of us are running around shouting from the rooftops that we don’t care – when, in fact, we do.

If you’re telling everyone the entire story about how someone wronged you and how much you don’t care, you care.

Maybe we think that if we say it enough, other people will believe it and stop criticizing us. But they don’t.

As a matter of fact, they tend to criticize us worse to try to get the best of us.

Or maybe we think that if we say it enough, it will hide the fact that people are getting the best of us. But it doesn’t.

I mean, at least if people think we don’t care, we’ll look stronger, right? Nope.

Just for a little anecdote:

I have a certain person in my life who loves (loves!) to go around bragging about how she doesn’t care what people say about her. She takes a lot of pride in “speaking her mind.” And she loves boasting about how she does not care what people think about her opinions.

But I see right through it.

She’s just trying to convince herself she doesn’t care. And she’s trying to put up a strong front to make people believe they aren’t hurting her.

 

So, what does it take to stop caring (for real)?

First, you have to remember that some people are going to like you no matter what. Some people are going to hate you no matter what.

When it feels like the whole world is against you, realizing this one simple fact will help:

The world is bigger than what we can imagine and it is full of people we never have encountered.

There is so much out there in the world and there are so many people who probably think and feel a lot like any one of us. To put emphasis on 1 person – or even a group of 100 people – just because that’s all we see for the moment – is nothing short of silly.

When we’re feeling down on ourselves because other people are being down on us, it can feel like there is no one else out there to like us or help us.

So, when in doubt, say this to yourself, even if it feels hard to believe at the time:

If this group doesn’t like me, I’ll go find one that does. Being outcast doesn’t mean what it used to.

Being outcast is not a death sentence, no matter how it feels.

Keep this in mind when you’re online, too! Especially online!

I can’t be the only one who has felt like everyone online was piling on me at once.

You say one “wrong” thing, one bully starts calling you names, and then all of the other people who never got their brains out of middle school see it as their chance to feel like one of the cool girls!

A lot of them probably wouldn’t even have cared if you had said that thing in a one-on-one, face-to-face conversation. They just want their shot at being in the ingroup.

So, it simply isn’t true that no one agrees with you or that no one likes you.

It just seems that way because you’re being outcast for the moment by a select group of people. There are people out there who do agree with you. Just not that group at that moment in time!

Even if you haven’t found them, they’re out there. So, really, (logically, not instinctually) why should you care what these people you are around right now think?

If a certain group doesn’t accept me or rejects me because I have done or am something they can’t accept – or even if they reject me based on lies – that is perfectly fine!

No love lost. It will be fine. And I will be fine.

There’s no lion waiting for me if that group (or another, or another) doesn’t want me.

When you really know, in your heart that some people will love you and some people will hate you no matter what you do, say, or believe, and that there is no real threat to you when some of them reject you (and some will!), you will be fearless.

And when you become fearless, you will become unstoppable.

Live your life to the best of your ability and with confidence.

You’ll know you’re confident when you can stop telling everyone how confident you are. And you’ll know you don’t care what people say when you can confidently ignore them.

Have you felt rejected lately? Are you feeling like everyone is piling up on you at once? Leave a comment and get some support from others who feel like you.

If you know someone feeling rejected, share this article with her. You never know what might lead her to a life of confidence.

How the Words We Use Affect Our Success

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I tried, but it just didn’t work out”?

Let’s get one thing straight before we go on.

“It” has no say.

“It” is not a person with choices.

“It” has no consciousness or awareness.

“It” cannot alter any circumstances.

Yes, from time to time, there may be some conditions, diseases, or situations that involve other people – people we can never and never should want to control – that may not resolve the way we would prefer no matter what we do.

But when “it” is some personal goal – a weight loss plan, success in a particular career, kicking a bad habit – each of us is capable, with enough work to make “it” respond to us rather than pretending “it” has a say in the outcome of our lives.

“It” is subject to the conditions you and I place upon it.

Our perception of an outcome is defined by the language we use to describe it.

How the Words We Use Affect Our Success:

There are two types of language we use when we describe an outcome.

Passive language – language that personifies our circumstances and passes blame on to our situations – says:

It just didn’t work out. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Things didn’t line up.

Responsible language – language that says you are in control of your life – says:

I didn’t want it badly enough. I didn’t feel it was worth the effort. I chose to let it go.

Sometimes walking away is the best thing. Many times we need to carefully analyze our options and decide if the damage to us is greater than the reward of sticking with it.

But if you decide not to continue with something you start, it is ok to say, “It wasn’t important enough for me to keep working for it. So, I quit.”

“Quit” – that isn’t a bad word.

But when we think things either work out or they don’t, we are committing ourselves to luck. We hear stories about people who achieved their goals with great obstacles, sometimes greater than our own. And we think, “I’m glad it worked out for them.”

To say that diminished and downplays all of the hard work it took for the successful person to achieve her goal.

Your statement has no effect on her. She did the work and achieved her goal. But it does have an effect on you and what you believe you can achieve or accomplish.

You’ll be left believing if you don’t get the same opportunities, if the stars don’t align in the same way for you as they did for her, you’ll never have the things you want in life.

Never want to quit anything out of anxiety or fear of the unknown. But if you’ve weighed your options and make a sound decision, by all means walk away confidently.

But acknowledge that you have a choice. Refuse to use passive language that leaves chance, luck, or fate accountable for the outcome of your life.

Our refusal to use responsible language can leave us feeling hopeless and helpless.

But when you think you are ready to quit something, ask yourself:

“Would I be ok admitting to myself that it just wasn’t important enough to me, so I quit?”

If something is not important to you, that’s ok! Every successful person has quit other things that  mattered less to them than the one thing they stuck with.

If something isn’t important to you and you don’t feel like the work is worth it, that’s ok! You define what is important in your life, and no one can tell you if what you find important is right or wrong. If you’ve made up your mind, you can be assertive when people question you that you simply decided you wanted something different for your life. It’s your life, not theirs.

 

 

And most importantly:
You define your success. If you don’t use the right words about your life, you’ll believe the wrong ones you hear from the failures around you.

Just remember, more often than not, you control “it” – the result, the outcome, and the circumstances in your life that affect your goals.

But if you really want it – whatever it is – have the final say. Choose responsible language that puts you in control. Decide whether the work is worth the result. If it is, see it through!

Always remember, there is never too much work for something you want.

Do you have some goal you want to achieve that will be a lot of work? How do you plan to talk to use your language to affect the outcome of your goal?

Comment below and let us know how you encourage yourself with what you say to yourself when the work feels overwhelming!

If you want something, make it work

How I’m Learning to Love the Storms (And You Can, Too!)

Learning to Love the StormsRecently, a line of severe storms rolled through the middle of the United States. They caused severe damage in several states. But by the time they reached our area, our forecast was mainly rain with some thunderstorms.

(You thought this was going to be about the metaphorical storms, didn’t you? Well, it is.)

The city of Nashville Facebook page posted a picture of a mostly green line that was about to cross the Mississippi River. There was also a little yellow in the radar. People in our area were leaving worried comments.

When we saw the radar, we knew it wasn’t going to be nearly as bad as it had been for the people west of the river.

Lucky for us, we were able to open the window and enjoy the warm, moist wind.

I’m learning to love those nights.

I can’t say I slept perfectly. I had a hint of alertness all night. Because the yellow flashing said “slight risk.”

But when I woke up the next morning, I was surprised by how many people in our area said they “didn’t sleep at all.” One of my friends (who lives in California but has family in the area) was saying even she couldn’t sleep for worrying.

I read through my feed and thought how silly they had been – until I thought back on how I used to be the same way.

The first hint of wind had me hiding in the bathtub with the kids wrapped in my arms and covered in pillows.

In fact, in a lot of ways that was how I lived most of my life. Scared. Worrying. And teaching my children to worry at the first hint of danger.

Sometimes we still have to do that. When the storm is bad enough.

We stay up all night and worry, when the storm is bad enough.

I can’t tell you how much sleep I lost or how much stress I endured worrying about storms that were predicted to be mild. Worrying about storms that caused no damage.

Sure, some nights we sit close to the television and barely sleep. Some nights we still sit in the bathtub all night.

But we do that when we know there is something to be concerned about.

Other nights when the radar shows a lot of yellow with a bit of red heading our way, I sometimes crack the the window and listen for the tornado sirens, keep the weather radio on in case of an emergency, and sleep lightly.

But when it’s mainly green with a splash of yellow, I don’t feel like there’s much to worry about. So I relax and let myself rest.

Couldn’t we do this with everything in our lives?

When the red warnings are flashing, we know we can’t rest until the storm passes.

But when it’s green with a little yellow, we can know the chances of something very bad happening are slim. So, we can rest and save our energy for the occasional (yet almost guaranteed) rough times.

Friends who live away (and who have never had to stare into the red radar at 4 AM) ask us how we can stand living here.

We often talk about moving out of state. But I really do love it here. It’s a beautiful state, especially in the spring, which is also when the storms are the worst. That’s when the trees are the most striking. All of that spring rain makes the area lush and green.

Sometimes, to get some of those beautiful benefits in life, we have to endure some risk.

And I keep in mind that yes, sometimes the bad storms hit. But for the most part, the chances of that are slim.

As I tell my friends, most of the time, I don’t live in fear of a major storm. Because even though it can happen, the major stuff is rare.

And sure, sometimes the nights can seem long. Sometimes the tornado season can too. But if we put it into perspective, it is a very small fraction of our year and of our lives.

Of course, there is always the chance of major damage and loss of life. There is always a risk.

But we can take comfort in knowing that the storms are sometimes the source of many beautiful things in our lives.

We can’t lose sleep every time the risk is small. It takes a toll on us, mentally and physically.

While a few of my friends were self-proclaimed zombies that day because they stayed up all night worrying over a little yellow warning sign on the radar, I was a little sleepy. But I was functional.

Even though for a minute I thought they were being silly, I understand the fear. I was the same way for a long time.

It’s human.

The threat is real, and I don’t scoff at that. We’ve seen it take a toll on people around us and sometimes ourselves.

Hurt and loss from the past teaches us to stay alert for the same pain again. And to avoid it.

But we can’t mistake every minor threat for a serious threat. It keeps us on edge, negatively effects our health, and makes us less effective in the face of real threats.

For a long time, I stressed myself about the weather here, year after year, spring after spring. Now, I try to remind myself that a little yellow is telling me to keep an eye out but that everything is probably going to be fine. I am learning not to worry about it, but to see at as break from the Tennessee heat and a source of all the beautiful green landscapes.

So when I say I’m learning to love the storms, I’m not exaggerating. When the radar is yellow, we open the window and enjoy the warm, moist breeze.

And I think about how stunningly green everything will be after the storm has passed.

Let’s sleep when we can. Keep calm in the mild stuff. And save our energy for the few storms every year that are worth losing sleep over.

Because I love all of us,

T.L.

(Photo: Courtesy of Jay Jay)