Being a Christian, I feel an indescribable amount of gratitude and peace because I was forgiven of all my sins when I gave my life to Jesus. All of them. Not just the little ones, even the big ones. Jesus found me worthy enough to die on the cross for my sins even though I am far from deserving and He asks only that I forgive others. When I think of forgiveness on such a grand scale and the price that was paid for my slate to be wiped clean, who am I to begrudge forgiveness to anyone else? Sounds pretty cut and dry, right? Pretty simple. And yet...
Let me take a moment to quickly clarify, because I'm sure you're already making a mental list of who shouldn't be forgiven... But he hurt me... But she lied to me... You don't understand, he cheated on me...
Forgiveness is not the same as condoning the act. Forgiveness is not about saying that what they did is okay or minimizing it in any way. Forgiveness, believe it or not is more for our own peace. It doesn't in any way let the other person "off-the-hook", unless you allow that, but more rather it helps you deal with the situation and move forward. In extreme cases, yes, you do still need to forgive but you do not have to remain a victim. Forgiveness is also NOT reconciliation, or tolerance.
"When you forgive, you in no way change the past, but you sure do change the future." Bernard Meltzer
Everyone has been hurt by someone else's words or actions. And you, yourself have hurt others with your words or actions. These wounds if left alone can fester as you think and rethink and rethink the offensive action. Soon, these feelings can turn to anger and bitterness and then even to vengeance.
But when you forgive, maybe not right away, but those hurt, angry feelings will soften and open the door for empathy which might turn into compassion and finally peace. Sometimes it's as easy as letting it go right after it happens and you move straight to peace. But for those other digressions, keep reading.
When you choose NOT to forgive, not only can it affect you physically, but the person that you cannot seem to forgive holds the power over your emotions. So every time someone mentions his name, you are instantly angry again. You feel it all the way down to your core. You can feel your muscles tighten when someone speaks about her. You thrust so much hate in that person's direction that you can't stop to think about your own life! You're so busy hoping, wishing, maybe even planning his demise that you can't find your own happiness. Soon, they encompass most of your thoughts and your dreams. She is keeping you trapped in your past! He is stealing time away from your present and your future!
And guess what? Your anger or bitterness or resentfulness is not affecting that person one single bit. He is moving on with his life. Either forgetting the incident or maybe enjoying the fact that you can't get past it. Or maybe she isn't even aware that she's hurt you. She goes along trying to figure out why you're suddenly so angry all the time. Forgiveness takes away that control that the other person has over your life.
Lewis B. Smedes wrote in his book Forgive and Forget, "When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself." Forgiveness is important, not always easy.
For the sake of this article, I'm going to focus on the forgiveness that needs to happen between couples to keep their relationships strong and moving forward. Forgiveness is a necessity even for the bigger wrongs, but that's a whole separate article! Anytime you open yourself up to love, you open yourself up to get hurt as well. No matter how perfect and wonderful you think your partner is, there is a guarantee of differences. And to me, forgiveness is hardest when the person that hurt you or wronged you doesn't admit or acknowledge when he/she is wrong or express any remorse over hurting you. But if you want the relationship to work, forgiveness is a must. A relationship cannot survive without it. Whether you speak of the incident again or not, it's always there. Building the wall; creating the gap. Judith Orloff, MD says, "Forgiveness is the act of compassionately releasing the desire to punish someone or yourself for an offense. It's a state of grace, nothing you can force or pretend. There are no shortcuts."
- The past is the past and cannot be undone no matter how much you dwell on it.
-When we get angry and resentful toward our partner, we tend to look for flaws instead of lifting each other up. Flaws are easy to find when you're angry.
-You have chosen to love this person, even knowing that they are not perfect.
-You are committed to this relationship.
-It will allow you to live in the present.
-You choose to live in peace and love instead of hurt, blame and pain.
-There is no love without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without love.
-"Un-forgiveness halts all progress in life. Bitter people don't get better." Christy Lawson of Element Church
-Still need another reason? Because Jesus says so!! In Matthew 18:21-22, it tells us, "How many times do I forgive? Up to Seven?" Jesus said, "Not seven times. Seventy times seven."
- And for those of us Christians that have anger management issues, I have to say I am happy that "God has my back!" I don't need to get revenge because He's gonna take care of things for me. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, "It's MINE to AVENGE; I will REPAY." says the Lord. (emphasis added.) Romans 12:19
HOW TO FORGIVE:
First let me touch on that I'm attempting to deal with two different kinds of forgiveness here. The first, forgiving something specific- something that's already happened and has been left unresolved. It could be something small like, he forgot about the dinner party so he stayed at work too long making you late. To something more serious like, she cheated on you or lied to you.
-Admit the pain. Acknowledge that it hurt and/or upset you. By denying the pain or pushing it down makes it impossible to heal; allowing resentment to build.
-The Need for Justice. When we have been hurt, our first instinct is to recoil away from the pain. And while we disappear into ourselves, we long for justice. We want the other person to hurt the way we did. Feel how we felt. At the VERY least, understand why it hurts us. If that is where you are, see if your partner will discuss things with you. Openly. Honestly. Keeping in mind that things may get worse before they get better. Be understanding and try not to yell. It's a discussion to try and convey your feelings and how the wrong has hurt you. Take turns talking and don't interrupt. This is a one time offer. When you have come to the end of your discussion, (unless you've made specific plans to touch on it again... ex: This is too much for me. I need some time to think on it. Could we talk again in a few days?), you have to agree to let it go. You can't hold a grudge. You can't bring it up again. You can't use it in your next argument next month. You have to PROMISE yourself and your partner that you won't replay it, relive it, or think on it hoping it will have a different outcome.
-Your partner is only human. That's not an excuse, it's a fact. We all make mistakes. Accept what you can't change. And if the same offense continues to happen, then there are some deeper issues to discuss.
-Reaffirm your relationship. See your partner as valuable and loveable.
-Let It Go. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8:12
Forgiveness is a slow process. Keep forgiving until the matter is settled in your heart. "Forgiveness allows the love to flourish and not be corroded by resentments and complaints." Frederic Luskin from Forgive for Love.
The second type of forgiveness is the forgiving of your partner's traits and habits that you know in advance are just going to irritate you for the rest of your lives together! (And keep in mind, you have some too!!) For example: forgetting to put the top on the toothpaste... every day! Or leaving the car on empty when you have to leave for work early the next day. The moment you become a couple and the rose colored glasses have shifted a bit, problems seem to emerge. No matter who you chose to be the other half of your couple, or how perfect he or she is, their will always be difficulties and discrepancies.
"It's the smaller annoyances or our negative responses to them that kills happiness between partners. The criticism can quickly build into resentment." Frederic Luskin in Forgive for Love.
- Stop the criticizing and complaining. When you spend your time and energy criticizing and complaining about your partner and how they don't measure up to your standards it builds a wall between you. It pushes away the unconditional and non-judgemental love that we are all searching for.
-Faults and All. Your main job as half of this couple is to love your partner no matter what. Faults and all. You love them as they are, not who you want them to be. And when or because you forgive doesn't mean you have to like everything about your mate, it just mean you accept him/her.
-Look for the good. Overlook the annoying. In the mornings before you get out of bed, forgive your partner for all the annoying things he's going to do today and then, don't let them bother you. When there is less anger and resentment, it makes it easier to look for all the good and wonderful things about your partner. So, while you're screwing on the toothpaste lid for the um-teenth time, forgive.
A few questions that were sent in:
Q: Is forgiving and forgetting really possible?
A: Forgiveness? Yes. Forgetting? Probably not. You have no control over the memories that randomly pop into your head or sometimes images appear in your dreams. But the trick is not to let them get a foot hold on your emotions. You need to continue to remind yourself that you have dealt with the memory and you forgave. Then let it go again. Keep forgiving until the memories no longer plague you. You can and will eventually heal, if you let yourself.
Q: What if I am the one who needs forgiveness?
A: A great question. I have come up with these few items that will hopefully help.
- Acknowledge to yourself, honestly, what you have done and who it has affected.
-Admit what you have done and apologize sincerely. Do not make excuses. Don't force the forgiveness. Just accept their response and allow them to hurt. They need to come to their own decision to forgive.
-Do what you can to correct the mistake. If no correction can be made, give your partner some space if they need it.
-Do not judge yourself too harshly. Forgive yourself and strive to be better.
Q: My partner has hurt me so badly. Even if I can forgive, I don't think I want to be with him any more.
A: Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation. But forgiveness will help you to move forward. You can hold on to that anger to help you create some distance, but eventually you need to forgive, and let it go from YOUR life. And while I do not encourage the thoughts of revenge... but think of it, just this once, your best revenge is to show that the incident did not slow you down or diminish your happiness. Do not give someone else the power over your emotions. We cannot change people. We can only change the way we respond to them.
"You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well." Lewis B. Smedes
I was doing some research on line, and as it always happens, my Adult ADD kicks in and I'm distracted by other shiny things.
This specific instance, I was looking for success stories of celebrities that have come from adversity or hardship, but overcame it to become what they are today. I like to add stories to my motivational sessions with the teens and pre-teens.
Will Smith kept getting in my way. Articles, movie trailers, YouTube videos... and off I went. But this time, I don't think it was a mistake. It may have been just what I was looking for.
The Power of Will-
Success Tips from actor, rapper, entrepreneur Will Smith
Will Smith was born into a middle-class family in Philadelphia. He speaks highly of his family and refers to them regularly as he explains his success in life and his career.
He has enjoyed success in the music, television and film industries and became a millionaire by the time he was 18. He had a bit of a run in with the IRS when he over spent and ended up $2.8 million in debt because of back taxes. He was close to bankruptcy when his debut television show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air put him back on top.
He has since gone on to conquer the big screen starring in major block busters such as Independence Day, Men In Black (trilogy), Hitch, Hancock, Ali, The Pursuit of Happiness and many others.
With four Grammy's, two nominations for Golden Globes, and two nominations for Academy Awards, and a basketball team, this is a man worth listening to. So here is what I came up with after watching hours and hours of videos and reading countless other articles.
1. Set Goals. "If you don't have a goal; if you don't have a purpose; if you don't have a place that you're going; something you want to accomplish; something you want to do, you can really get lost in the murk of the journey."
2. Greatness is something that exists in all of us. "I know who I am, and what I believe and that's all I need to know. It's that simple. From there, you do what you need to do."
3.Give back. Make your life have meaning by giving back to others. "You have a responsibility to make every group you come in contact with, better." "If you are not making someone else's life better, then you are wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better."
4.Believe in yourself. "If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will."
5. Believe in your ideas. "You have to believe that things CAN be different than what they are at this moment."
6. There are no shortcuts to success. 'You have to start with that first brick and you lay it as perfectly as you can. And then the next one and the next one. And eventually, you have built a wall."
7. Put your ideas out into the universe. "If we dream something; if we picture something and we commit ourselves to it, it has a physical thrust towards realization that we can put into the universe. The universe is not a thing that's going to push us around. We are going to demand that the universe become what we want it to be."
8. Don't be realistic. "Being realistic is the most common road to mediocrity." Being realistic is basically setting a cap before you've even gotten started. "It is unrealistic to be able to walk into a room and flip a switch and all the lights come on. Thank goodness Thomas Edison didn't think so!"
9. It doesn't matter where you are today. Always work toward your goals. Your past doesn't matter because you've already lived it. "Where you came from almost didn't matter because we were becoming something greater."
10. Face your fears. Fears lead to doubt and inaction and will prevent you from achieving your goals.. "Don't ever let anyone tell you you can't do something."
11. Focus. "You need to focus. You have to start and focus your energy on each step of the process." "There is no reason to have a Plan B, because it distracts from Plan A."
12. Don't give up. Don't quit. "Greatness lives on the edge of destruction. You are here and people look to you because in the face of destruction, you pounded on your chest and put your arms up and said, 'I'm still standin'! Bring it!'"
13. You need both talent and skill. Talent is something you're born with and skill is the practice of perfecting it. "There's no easy way around it. No matter how talented you are, your talent is going to fail you if you're not skilled. If you don't study, if you don't work really hard and dedicate yourself to being better every single day, you'll never be able to communicate with your artistry the way you want."
14. A little marriage advice. Will and Jada Pinkett Smith have been married for over 16 years and in addition to their "Marriage Business Plan" that spells out the direction they want their marriage and family to go, and regularly scheduled family meetings, Will also says the secret to a happy marriage is, "Do what she say."
And there you have it. Fourteen little nuggets of wisdom to take with you and use in your everyday life!
Intimacy is my personal favorite of all the components of relationships. I am discovering that all the components are necessary for a relationship to grow strong and last, but intimacy is the spark.
It's like the dessert! You have to have your meat and veggies to stay healthy but knowing that there's dessert, just makes everything better.
Intimacy is defined as a close or familiar, loving relationship with another person that comes from experience and time; deeply knowing that person.
My definition of intimacy is simply speaking without words. It's that unspoken language that only comes from opening up to your partner, being vulnerable and allowing him/her to know you. It's when you're bonded with a person so much you've developed cues and looks and touches that mean so much to just your partner and you.
For Jeanny R. it means, "Having an argument before bed time and the touch of your leg with his equals 'I'm sorry', and spooning means 'apology accepted'."
Intimacy is more complex than what you might have originally thought, so here's a breakdown of all that I have found out.
Intellectual Intimacy refers to the meeting of the minds. Sharing your thoughts and ideas; your desires and opinions all with out judgement. You don't always have to agree, but your opinion is your own and respected.
Emotional Intimacy refers to sharing your feelings. This level of intimacy brings about a sense of of security. A feeling that you will always be a part of each other's lives. This is the vulnerability and opening up, risking it all to put your feelings out on the table.
Spiritual Intimacy is the sharing of your belief system. Praying together, worshiping together, believing and submitting obediently in something larger than yourselves.
Physical Intimacy. This level is the one many people think of when they heard the word. However, intimacy is not synonymous with sex. But for those that said sex should be in the top ten of making a relationship last, this, is where it fits in. Physical intimacy is important and vital to a heathy relationship but it's not the "act" that strengthen's the bond. If you work on the other three levels of intimacy before ever getting to the physical aspects, your relationship has a better chance of surviving. Remember, intimacy is about KNOWING. It's not about sleeping together. It's more than sharing our bodies but sharing our whole selves.
When the Bible refers to the sexual act between Adam and Eve, it was written Adam KNEW Eve. It was considered sacred and intimate. But later in the Bible when David commits adultery with Bathsheba, a different word was used. David... lay with her. (2 Samuel 11:1-5) Their intercourse was lustful. He wasn't serious about a future with her. He wanted her, but didn't want to KNOW her.
In my own humble opinion, you will never find intimacy with causal sex. It's what you're looking for, but you won't find it. Some people mistake that rush of oxytocin that comes with having sex as love or intimacy, but it's not the same. Both love and intimacy come with time. The rush of oxytocin is a temporary high. And when you come down off of it, you want to hurry up and find it again. Because it's what we're built for. To seek out love, companionship... intimacy.
Intimacy is that connectedness that we all yearn for. We long for someone to KNOW us. We long to be loved for everything we are. Unconditionally. Completely. We are all looking for the dessert, that makes the entire meal... perfect.
Here are a few helpful tips that might help you increase the intimacy in your relationship. Add one or two here and there until soon it will become an automatic thing, and hopefully your partner will reciprocate.
-Facing your problems together/ Share joys. Work together as a team so neither one of you ever feel abandoned. And on the flip side, share your happy times and good news with your partner so they can join in on your happiness.
-Accept each other unconditionally. Understand that you are not going to always see eye to eye and that you can't always agree but you can still respect your differences.
-Be supportive, but not bossy. No one likes to be told that they're always doing something wrong. So encourage your partner and when they ask for advice, or tips, always offer your expertise. But also be gentle if your advice is not sought after, perhaps all they need is a hand to hold or a quick "You can do it!"
-Look into each other's eyes when speaking quietly or intimately. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Bare your soul to your partner. He/she will know that you are paying attention to only him/her and that you hold a place of importance in his/her life.
-Be present with your partner. Don't multi-task. Pay attention to what he/she is saying. Be in the moment and let him/her know they have your full attention. Don't play on your phone or answer e-mails or watch television when you are scheduled for some one on one time with your mate.
-Be emotionally available. Be empathetic. We all handle crisis in different ways, learn what your partner needs from you and be prepared to give it. Be willing to open up and become vulnerable with him/her.
-Help each other achieve their goals. When you unselfishly stand behind the person you love and can watch them complete their goals it binds you together and also makes precious memories for your future.
-Touch. Hugging, kissing, holding hands helps to keep that regular infusion of oxytocin in your system. Be sensitive to what your partner needs physically, careful not to cross boundaries, and watch your intimacy grow.
-Be appreciative. Make sure your partner knows how much you appreciate the things that they do or say, never take love for granted.
You can see why it's my favorite, right? Knowing you're the most important person to some one can make all the difference in the world. But intimacy can't be rushed. Take your time, enjoy the journey.
Intimacy is something that comes instantly with our children, we work towards it with our friends, but we yearn for it most from our partner...
This is the first entry in the series The Components of A Lasting Relationship. When I put out a survey asking you what the most important aspects of a relationship were, the answers became the topics of this series. They are the top answers that I got back. It was pretty interesting that when over 200 people responded, there were clear cut "winners". There were ten that were continually repeated with "Trust" being the number one answer. But for the sake of the series, these articles are presented in no particular order as all seem to be equally important.
And let me take a quick moment to thank all who send in their opinions and answer all of my questions to make these articles much more personal and while I'm taking a "scientific" approach to love, your viewpoints and comments make it more real and close to home. So thank you.
And without further ado, I offer the first in our series: Commitment
"One of the prerequisites of a healthy relationship is that it is usually necessary to make a commitment in order to reap benefits."
-H. Wallace Goddard, PhD, C.F.L.E.
Professor of Family Life
The dictionary explains commitment as a "pledge or promise" and some of you say that there are "levels" of commitment, but in talking with you and doing my research, the majority of those who responded,when it comes to love relationships, commitment means so much more.
JoAnn O. believes that commitment comes in many levels depending where a couple is in their relationship. "Plenty of relationships have survived without a commitment, but even in non-commital relationships, the lines have to be clear." Meaning that even though the couple may not be destined for the alter, there is a certain level of commitment. For example, "I will date other people but I will only have sex with you." "I only want to date you." These kinds of commitments are usually found in the beginnings of the dating process and as a couple grows closer the commitment intensifies. But the couple needs to be honest as to the boundaries of your relationship and what each one of you are looking for.
Once you have the faintest idea that the person you are with could be "the One" wanting a commitment is a natural process that occurs on its own. Feelings increase, possessiveness and maybe even a little "healthy jealousy" sneaks in and before you know it, you can't stand the thought of spending time with anyone else.
"To me," Laura G. says, "commitment means that you are in it until the end. You can't just leave when things get rough. You choose to stick it out no matter what."
"Commitment starts as a promise," Heather C. offered, "But it's more than words. It has to be attitude too. People can be in a committed relationship for years because they feel that they HAVE to stay in it, so I think commitment is also about wanting to stay in that relationship. It's the attitude that you don't HAVE to but you WANT to."
Some make the difference between promise and commitment by saying that a promise is an individual thing. "I promise to take you to the concert." or "I promise to stop at the grocery store after work." But a commitment is an on-going event. "I commit to the effort to quit smoking." I commit that you are the only one I want in my life." "I commit that this puppy is a part of our family for its life." Commitment is more, deeper, consistent. It's a mind set that despite the problems or trials that may come in front of you, you won't give up on what you have committed.
Commitment needs to approached by both action and emotion. Action is, of course the doing. Taking the necessary steps to always keep your commitment a priority but then there is the emotional aspect. The feeling that what you have committed to is worthwhile. That it is something, or in our case, someone that is worth all the effort and sacrifice to make your world a better place.
On that same note, if the person you're dating has a difficult time keeping minor promises, the odds are pretty high that he/she will have a tough time with commitment as well.
Jennifer L. says, "Without commitment you have a loveless (relationship). Why would you stay together? Relationships can't survive without it."
A relationship that is built on an unclear foundation where one or both partners are not honest about their level of commitment will most likely be unable to sustain for a long period of time. Our minds and hearts need that sound foundation that in turn creates trust that futures are built on. Commitment provides a safe and secure environment so that couples can grow together in confidence knowing that their partner is always going to be there.
Couples state that this kind of foundation is rarely found in "singles" relationships because the "exit" door is always within reach. Married couples are more likely to "lock" the exit door or remove it as an option all together.
"Call me old fashioned," Larry R. explains, "but I believe you have to be married to be in a committed relationship. You're committing yourself to God and spouse."
Commitment is an investment. Commitment is a learned skill that needs to be practiced daily and refined as you grow together and separately. It will change and strengthen as the relationship grows.
Commitment is a choice. It says that in spite of all the other choices, options and opportunities that may present themselves, "I choose you."
"I think commitment shouldn't seem like it takes much effort. It should be something you want to work for. If it does feel like an effort, and the other person isn't responding, they probably aren't committed." Ryan C. added.
Nurturing Commitment With Your Partner
- Make the Relationship a Priority
Find common interests and build on them together. Take time out of each and every day to greet each other physically and personally. Make eye contact and heart contact.
- Connect During Conversation
Take a few moments every day to have some kind of verbal connection. Keep it up-beat, happy, inquisitive.
-Make Decisions Together
Get into the habit of realizing that you are no longer alone. You are part of a team and any decision that would affect your team mate should be discussed with him/her. You build trust and confidence when you plan future events, purchases and learn to compromise.
-Keep the Relationship Moving Forward
Be willing to try new things together. Create new memories, sign up for classes, revive conversation, find new ways to connect.
-Stay Focused on Your Partner's Strengths
Let your partner know all the things that you love and admire about him/her!
- Safe-Guard the Relationship
Limit outside intrusions. Don't put yourself in compromising positions. Never give your partner reason to doubt.
Commitment is a decision. The couples that choose to commit to each other are more likely to find the lasting rewards of deeper intimacy, trust, and loving companionship rather than by those who invest only half-heartedly.
Invest. Choose. Decide. Commit.
As I was writing the first half of this article, it started out as just a nice piece pointing out that when I, personally, am in a relationship, I revel in its boundaries. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing what I can and cannot do to please my partner. But as I kept writing, I became convicted and the broken side of myself began making its way to the surface. I soon realized that I was writing this piece for me. And then, to make SURE I was heading in the right direction, a woman poured out her soul to me about how she has gotten so lost in her relationship with this man and she cannot figure out how it got so bad. He has convinced her to do things she was uncomfortable with and has grown to loathe herself. He gives her just enough to justify in her mind that he "might turn things around any day" but still manipulates her in every way.
And she's not the only one! So many others have fallen in love with partners that have continued to cross their boundaries and we have allowed it. It becomes a never ending cycle of seeing how much he/she can get away with and how many hits to our self-esteem we can handle. I have allowed my boundaries to be crossed and once that happens, it becomes difficult to put those fences back in place. I was raised to think better of myself and to not allow a man to treat me disrespectfully. But I fell in love with a man that didn't hold me in as high regard. I don't think most people go out to abuse a partner maliciously. It comes down to he/she pushes for a way THEY want to be treated and want to treat you, and if you don't stand your ground, they have made the decision for you. If you say it with your mouth but your actions still allow it to happen, your words become meaningless. If you condone or reward bad behavior, why should they ever stop??
Hang on, this is where I get upset...
My heart ached for that poor woman but then I got angry at her... then, I got angry at me!! For allowing things to happen!! I allowed it to happen!! I allowed this other person to make me believe that the way he was treating me was perfectly acceptable, as long as he said he loved me. Ugh!! You are your own person!! You decide what you are going to tolerate and what you are not. If your man/woman is crossing over your core boundaries. You owe it to yourself to walk out that door.
I know what you're thinking, "Elizabeth, you are always talking about trying to save the relationship. Make things work. Stick it out. Don't give up." Yes, I am. And I do believe all of those things. And if your partner is willing to come back over the boundary line and respect you, I say keep trying. But you have to be the one who holds those boundaries in place. Because if it was crossed once, they will try again. When you are in a relationship and you allow your boundaries to be torn down it destroys your self-respect.
When you have boundaries of your own AND THE COURAGE to hold up when they are being pushed against, you will feel that inner battle raging inside you but you will come out triumphant. Either by keeping your character in good standing or by showing this person to the door.
I know how you feel, I promise. "But if I do that, he'll leave me." Let me ask you this? How do you feel about your self right at this moment? How does it make you feel that he/she doesn't respect you enough to treat you well? Sure, you might be alone for a while. It might be a long while, but it is certainly not worth him/her taking chunks out of your self-esteem and dignity the longer he/she stays with you. He is obviously not the RIGHT one. God created relationships to be fulfilling, nurturing, and designed to bring you peace.
That being said, let's talk about how to turn things around. How to re-build that self-confidence. If I can do it, you can too.
The little picture at the top of the article is very true. YOU teach others how you want to be treated by what you allow. People will adjust around you.
If you are strong in your convictions, most won't even try to bump up against them. Or if they do, they quickly retreat. But if you don't hold yourself to that higher standard, why should any one else. If you keep allowing your boundaries to be crossed, regardless of what comes out of your mouth, you are telling them by your actions that you are okay with their behavior. We don't want to feel rejected, we don't want to feel alone but then, when we allow them to cross our boundaries we have no right to be upset when they don't treat us with respect! And that's exactly the cycle we put ourselves on. They treat us poorly and so we think if we love them more and give up more of ourselves that eventually they will stop treating us badly. Stepping back and looking at it... It Makes NO Sense!! There has to be consequences!! If you reward bad behavior with candy (ie:more love), why would anyone change?!
Why are you afraid of letting this person go?
- afraid of being alone?
- afraid he will become the man you've always wanted him to be but with someone else?
-afraid of him thinking or talking badly about you because you "gave up" on the relationship?
-afraid of just saying NO, I don't accept this anymore?
I have said "yes" to every one of these. And because of that, I wasted time. Valuable time. Time that I could have been happier. Time I could have spent improving myself. Time I could have poured my love on someone else. Don't do that to yourself. You are worth so much more that he/she is making you believe.
Don't waste your time trying to analyze his behavior. Don't try to make excuses for her behavior. Your gut is telling you that things are not right. You don't feel good about yourself and bottom line, that's never okay. See it for what it is. You already know, and if you were waiting on someone to tell you what to do, allow me: Let him/her go. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
You are more than this relationship. You are more than who you are around this person. Reset your boundaries and stand by them. Treat them as your signal light. Green for go, yellow for caution and red for heck no!!
Teach others how you want to be treated. Decide for yourself how you want to be treated and then become that person. Be true to yourself and others will follow your lead.
Sometimes, I wish I could be like those people that "live on the edge"; going where the wind takes them, not worrying from one day to the next where your next paycheck will come from; where you'll lay your head from night to night and loving who you might as you float along.
I find that I like boundaries. I like living within the confines of a set of rules. Not so much that I feel oppressed or creatively stifled, but just enough so that I can feel free to run about the boundaries I have set for myself or those that I agree to- so that I feel a sense of security, which in turn, gives me a sense of... freedom, of all things!
There are times that I like to test the edges of those boundaries, you know, just to make sure that they're still in place. Like, I don't know... speeding. I love to drive fast. But there are limits set as to how fast I am safely allowed to go. And yes, I test those limits and am always- ALWAYS- reassured that they are in place for a reason and I am reminded by the red and blue flashing lights, the quick drainage of my gas tank or my faithful SUV ratteling and grumbling under the strain. So, I pull back with in my boundaries, satisfied that I totally lived on the edge for a minute there, but am rewarded by an uninterrupted, longer, peaceful journey.
And such is life and relationships.
Love may know no bounds, but sometimes, you just need to reign that stuff in! I like to know my boundaries in all of my relationships, be it love relationships, friends or even as a parent. And you each test those boundaries to find out exactly where where they are especially since life and love doesn't come with a check-list! It is a testament to your character how you handle those tests and it the testament of your partner that shows respect when he/she comes near those edges.
Boundaries allows each person in the relationship to feel more secure. There is trust. There is respect. And when there is security in a relationship it can find the courage to grow. A relationship that does not have secure, respected boundaries remains stagnant. Still, until one side budges. Think of a parent and a stubborn teenager. The rules are set in place for their safety, but the teen doesn't understand that yet and so there is no cohesion. The relationship between parent and child becomes strained. Trust is tested.
The same is true with friendship and love relationships. Look at, for example, an abused wife. Her boundaries have been crossed. She shuts down. Her self-esteem is shattered. The relationship cannot grow or mend until the boundaries are set back in play and respected.
Having accountability with each other gives you an unspoken set of rules to live by so you can each stretch out with in those boundaries and feel free to love, argue, learn about and bond all while feeling perfectly secure.
Can't We Just See How It Goes? Do We Have To Have Boundaries?
Without boundaries, it can leave each person unclear as to their role in the relationship, or even the future of said relationship. Nothing feels settled. You are in a constant state of "limbo" waiting for boundaries to make themselves clear. It creates unnecessary insecurities for one or both partners.
Other reasons for boundaries:
- It shows respect for your partner and for yourself. If you don't respect yourself, then why should anyone else? Some people seem to think that if they enforce boundaries that they will be looked down on, or left out. But since when is having high moral character something to look down upon?? And take just a moment to look at the one who is looking down. Probably the one trying to cross your boundaries and disrespect you in the first place.
- Boundaries aren't just to keep others from disrespecting you. They also keep YOU from disrespecting YOU. So you don't allow yourself to be put into situations where that can happen. And you are strong in your beliefs so that when someone tries to test those boundaries, your inner alarm goes off and you protect yourself.
What Are Your Boundaries?
Boundaries are rarely talked about but more likely shown. As I mentioned, there's no check-list when it comes to dealing with people in our lives. Yes, relationships have rules that the majority of the public follows, but you also need to be aware of your own personal set. They create your boundaries and how fiercely you protect them.
Decide for yourself what you are willing to accept in a relationship and then trust your instincts. And because relationships are built of a give- and-take system, your boundaries will develop on different levels. Your Core Boundaries are the ones that are un-waiverable. The ones that if he/she tries to cross them, you show that person to the door. Others are a bit more pliable and can be moved or even sacrificed for the sake of the relationship. But again. listen to your gut. It will tell you when you are heading down the wrong path.
Boundaries FORCE you to hold yourself accountable for your own happiness and... even for your misery.
Hang on for PART TWO of Loving Your Boundaries- Learning to Say NO! Coming Soon...
Many people are discouraged on this wonderful holiday of love if they do not have their very own Valentine's Day Sweetheart. What a waste of a perfectly good holiday!! I am all about the romance and the flowers and the being in love too, but should circumstances prevail that I do not have a special someone (or worse, a special someone that doesn't participate!!), it is absolutely no reason to sit at home and be depressed about what I don't have! If you do not have a sweetheart to celebrate this holiday with, then it was not meant to be at this moment. Because you are exactly where you need to be at this moment in your life. Perhaps you were meant to show love to others to keep them from despair? When you love yourself, you are confident and prepared to go out and show love to others. Do you love yourself? Are you aware of your self worth? No? Read on, perhaps we can remedy that!
People sadly buy into the misconception that if you have someone in your life, then you must be worthwhile and of course the opposite if you do NOT have a special someone. I'm here to tell you that it is just not so. No wonder there are so many sad singles on February 14th!! You are perfectly "whole" without someone beside you. Loving yourself is the first-step. The truth is that when you love yourself- only then can you love others and others can truly love you.
When you discover your self- worth and your inner and outer beauty you begin to radiate with self-confidence, and the opinions of the masses just don't apply to you any more!
So on this day that is totally dedicated to love, we will reflect inward so we can share the love we find deep inside of ourselves. Here are five helpful hints to begin the realization process of how wonderful you really are!
"To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance." - Oscar Wilde
1. Don't Be So Hard On Yourself!!
We are our own worst critics and I am equally guilty of this myself.
Making Mistakes. Every single person makes mistakes. It's part of being human. The trick is learning what you can from them wherever you can and don't beat yourself up about it. Yes, take responsibility. Yes, fix what you can. Yes, apologize when necessary but then forgive yourself and move on!
Acknowledge your best effort. We can't always be the best, finish first, or snag every promotion. Sometimes giving our very best doesn't win us the trophy, but that is no reason to hang our head. Give yourself credit for putting in the time and the effort and again, learn ways how you could do better next time. (there's always room for improvement!) Celebrate your accomplishments even though things don't always go as successfully as you would have hoped.
2. Love and Respect The One Looking Back From the Mirror
Nope. You're not perfect. Let's get that out of the way right now. But you're not supposed to be. No one is. Can you imagine the pressure of being perfect everyday? (I love my yoga pants a little too much for that kind of responsibility! lol) So, accept that you have flaws and love yourself anyway! When you look at yourself in the mirror focus on those things that you really like about yourself. Your eyes? The shape of your lips? That wonderful curve in the small of your back? Find something and love on it. Let it bring a smile to those awesome lips!
Are you trying to lose weight? (And who isn't still so close to the New Year! haha) Be sure you are able to measure your successes in some way. Inches, pounds, pant sizes. If you don't chart your progress your just going along without purpose. Acknowledge your achievements and if your methods aren't working, analyze your situation, switch things up and try something new! (That being said, make sure you give yourself ample time for a test period. Remember, things don't work overnight.) Another benefit of loving yourself is that it automatically makes you want to take care of your body. For you. Not for the approval of any one else, but because you like the way you feel and look.
Love the things you can't change. There are just some parts of our body that we can't really do anything about. (Well, I suppose if you have enough money, you could do just about anything. But I've never had to worry about that so...) I personally, hate my feet but I also hated having to cover them up constantly for fear of what other people would say about them. Now, I'm barefoot 90% of the time and couldn't be happier. They're the feet I was given. They serve the purpose they were made for, and I'd be pretty miserable without them. (They're still ugly though...) Fix what you can, if you think you need to- love and accept what you can't.
You are unique. There is only one you. We all have different reasons for being here on this earth, at this time. Our past helps shape us, and the present lets us choose who we want to be in our future.
"My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and talents and I lay them both at His feet." - Mahatma Gandhi
3. Be Honest With Yourself
Know your true self. Your strengths, your weaknesses. There will be times in your life that you might feel the need to compromise who you are to attempt to "fit in" or to make someone "like" you. Trust me. You can only keep up with that facade for a short while. When you supress your true self for any length of time, you do more damage in the long run. What was once artificial feelings of love and acceptance, turn to emptiness and self- doubt. I'm not saying not to try new things or expand your horizon. And on the other end of extremes, I'm not suggesting you be so rigid on your likes and dislikes that you don't bend a little. Bottom line- be who you really are. You don't have to pretend to like football because he does. You don't have to go to the ballet because she loves it. You don't have to sign up for yoga just because the rest of the office takes classes.
The real you will eventually come shining through (or break through the restraints!) anyway - so, let people fall in love with the real you from the very beginning.
"The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them."
4. Nurture Your Tomorrows
Sometimes, even as much as we want it, we don't have someone else to love us and encourage us or lift us when we're down. That's why loving yourself is so important. It's nice to have someone to lean on but when that's not possible in this season of our life, we have to lean on our own strengths. So make sure you're investing in yourself.
Do something that makes you happy every. single. day. Yes, you can. It's not that hard or expensive. A sweet treat? A favorite song? Watch a favorite movie or sitcom? Dine at your favorite restaurant? Read a favorite blog? Experiment with a new eye-shadow? Go ahead. Make a list. Then work through them. It's fun, you'll thank me later. And what a happy boost you'll get!
Invest in your dreams. As you know, I'm a big advocate of chasing down and reaching your dreams. So this post would be remiss if I didn't make mention of it somewhere! Seems to fit right here! Do something, even if its something small, every day or every week to get you closer to your dream. Not sure what your dreams are? Take an afternoon to brainstorm and write them down. (I'm a big advocate of lists too! lol)
Do things, read things, listen to things that inspire you. Surround yourself with positive things. The walls of my office and bedroom are covered with inspirational quotes and pictures of family and friends and of course my goal lists! The world tries so hard to bring us down. There is already so much negativity trying to get your attention. Let that bad stuff and worry roll of you and focus on the positives! Be inspired!!
5. Being Your Best Self
By following the advice in this blog, I believe you'll realize how wonderful you are. And when that happens, you'll be amazed at the changes that come from inside you AND the world around you! Self-confidence is a beautiful thing. (disclaimer: I should mention that although I try to follow my own advice - I do fall short at times as well. There are moments that I am shy and introverted and just don't want to talk to people or be happy and positive all the time and I get discouraged too, when I don't reach my goals or gain extra weight. But it's okay. Because that's a part of who I am and I'm good with that!)
The more you love yourself the less likely you'll be able to tolerate rude behavior from others. You set the standard of how you want to be treated. I promise you, they will follow your lead as long as you believe in yourself.
And when the time comes and you meet someone you're willing to accept into your world to love, by loving yourself already will only enhance the relationship. You will know who you are and who you want to share your time with. You'll be able to devote yourself to loving him/her without fear because you've been on your own once and you can do it again if need be.
And finally, perhaps most importantly, when you reach this level of self- love, you are more willing and open to loving others. Not for what you might get in return, but for the sake of loving, And that, my friends, is a feeling I cannot even put into words. When you figure out that love is the base of all things, the world just seems a little bit brighter, despite what the news reporters might say.
"If you would be loved, love and be lovable." - Benjamin Franklin
I realize that there is a lot of information crammed into a short little blog-post, but take bites of it when you can and come back for seconds when you're ready...
You are all kinds of wonderful. Are you aware of that? Take time to get to know yourself and love will soon follow.
"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world." -Lucille Ball
I have recently been getting e-mails with people telling me all the reasons of why they can't follow their dreams. "I can't do what you said because of this..." "I can't save money because of that..." Or then there's the "But you have... and I don't have..." No. I don't. I don't have more money, more time, more support than anyone else. What I do have (on more days than not) is a drive to make a change so things in my life DO NOT stay the way they are!!! Simple as that. I am not trying to make you believe that I hold all the secrets to success or that I am so successful that I don't have to live the mundane parts of life that everyone else does too, but I have goals that I want to reach, bucket lists, dreams to fulfill and a hundred other things that I could easily be side-tracked from or talk myself out of. That being said, if I can do "it" (whatever "it" is for you) you can too.
I have a speaker friend that offers phone consultations. On his website he lists things that he could help with the most and a list that are not really his strong points. Under this second list was a notation that said, if you're not ready to change, don't waste your money or my time, because I can't help you.
At first I thought this to be a little rude. But then I thought about it some more and I believe he is doing many people a favor by saying it. If you're not serious... Yes, I am here to help you, but if you're not ready, really ready, then it doesn't matter what advice I give because no action will follow. No changes will be made. We could make out a specific step-by-step plan together to get you at least started toward your goals, but if you're not going to take that first step, then it seems pointless.
Things need to become a priority. Those are what I focused on first. No matter what your circumstances are or what dreams you are trying to reach, you can always make a step toward the changes you are seeking. Even if it's a tiny step. At least you're putting things in motion. You are creating a priority.
Success doesn't happen over night. It takes years sometimes. It takes consistency. It takes determination. It takes not giving up. But if you want something bad enough, you'll find a way. But if you're looking for an over-night success, then the odds are stacked against you, my friend.
Patience. Patience is one thing that I find a lot of people are missing and would do well to add it to their tool box. Everyone wants it NOW. It doesn't work that way, I promise you. The more effort you put into something the better you will feel about it when you finally reach your goal.
EVERYTHING can be broken down into smaller steps and those are the things you need to make your priorities. You'll notice a smoker ALWAYS finds money for cigarettes. A caffeine-addict can always scrape together that seven dollars for his Starbucks! I, for example, will only use professional hair products. So I may be living off macaroni and cheese, but I WILL have professional shampoo in my shower! I've made it a priority.
Yes, those are simple things and I mention them tongue n cheek, but they set the stage. What are the priorities in your life? Want to start exercising? Set your alarm clock a few minutes earlier. Want to buy a car? Start setting aside money for your down payment. Even if it's only a few dollars a week. Buying a house? Take the time to clean up your credit report. Need a new job? Dust off that resume, hit the pavement and talk to everyone. On a personal note, that someone special in your life- is he/she a priority? Does he/she know it?
Make it happen!! Don't give up. I realize that you lead a busy and perhaps stressful life. I know that I do. And if you are comfortable with the way things are, then I am happy for you! But if you're not... If there's something you feel you want, a dream you're chasing, go get it. One step at a time. Prioritize the things in your life. Shift things around if you have to. It may not happen today, but it can happen.
Priorities are not the only thing you need to focus on to reach all of your dreams, of course, but they should be... well, a priority!!
Unfinished projects. Unpacked boxes. Incomplete story-lines. Unpublished works. Story of my life.
The book, Captive Heart, that is currently being published has been sitting on my shelf for years. Untouched, unloved and unseen by the public.
It is really easy to hide from success if you stop just short of it ever becoming a possibility. Thus, all of my unfinished projects become a protective wall to hide behind so I never know how success could change my life for better or worse.
Why would anyone fear becoming successful? Doesn't everyone dream of a small amount of fame at some point in their life? But what happens when you get it? Will you be ready for everything that goes along with it?
Granted, success comes in many levels (not everything has to be the paparazzi kind, it could be something as simple as losing weight or, I don't know, publishing a book...). It also depends on how much value you attach to it. If you give your end goals too much weight, it can in turn, weigh you down.
If you are hoping that your success validates who you are making you feel that you are finally smart enough, thin enough, rich enough or popular enough the weight of success can become more of a burden than a reward. Not only to achieve it, but to maintain it!
If your success is just another check mark of things to do before you die, then you will be able to enjoy and relish every moment that comes from it. You will feel Success- Full.
But , more likely, it will come and go like many of our successes (promotion at work, winning the bowling championship, quitting smoking) that we don't take the time to acknowledge or celebrate therefore creating the stress that comes from a bigger success. We don't know how to handle it! We never feel Success-Full.
Add to that, all those details that come with success. The ones you don't really think about when you're picturing the accolades. Failure. New responsibilities. Time constraints. Criticisms. Being in the spotlight. Maintaining. It's no wonder we end up subconsciously sabotaging any success we might have.
I personally tend to put a lot of weight on success. I feel I have to prove something to myself and to others, that says, "I CAN finish something. I CAN turn my mistakes around. I CAN learn from my past and create a better future."
So for years, I have engaged in, what I recognize now as self- sabotaging behaviors to make sure I would never reach the levels of success that would make me have to face such challenges. It's easier to sit back and dream of the "someday I will..." than to actually go after it and possibly fail while the world looks on waiting to see the outcome.
I had become a Master Procrastinator. Cleverly thinking of ways to do anything but what will take me closer to my end goals. I would compromise my goals and tell myself things like, "I was probably going to fail anyway so why bother trying?" Have you been there? Not going to apply for that job... join that gym... open that savings account... Most of the time, this fear happens subconsciously. We don't realize exactly WHY we aren't trying harder, just that it's easier to find other distractions.
Failure, or rather, incompletion, I can deal with. Success was too terrifying to even attempt.
After all, everyone faces failure. That makes it a common denominator. And it IS true that you will learn more, gain more long lasting wisdom from failure than you will from success, but is staying in that "comfort zone" of failure enough? We all have that gene in us to WANT success, and DREAM of a better life even if it means something as simple as getting a degree, buying a new car, being debt free... But success... who teaches you how to deal with success?
You've heard the saying, If at first you don't succeed, try, try again? But what happens when you DO succeed? Where's the clever saying for that? Who teaches you how to deal with new-found resentment and labels from others? How to juggle the new responsibilities that come with the outcome of your success? And what if you don't like it?
Don't get me wrong, I consider myself Success-Full. I have learned to acknowledge and appreciate the smaller, daily successes. (It lead me to create my How to Feel Success-Full lecture series.) So it doesn't have to be an all or nothing feeling that could very well rob you of the pleasure of your accomplishment!
But the publishing of this book, my very first, is stretching me to a level of success that I have not had as yet and a whole new list of "consequences" that I'm not so sure I'm ready for!
I had subconsciously trained myself to stop short of becoming too successful for any number of the above mentioned reasons. And while my past has taught me the lessons that I now pass on to others, and I wouldn't be who I am today without it, I don't know if I'm ready for the scrutiny, the judgement that comes along with decisions I've made long ago, and just my works in general.
My friend Mary Spezia pointed out that maybe God is using me for this very thing. He wants me to face this fear, and teach others... But when I tell her that I'm not ready for that (already making excuses for avoiding success), she assures me that God will make me ready. Simple as that.
I am a born-again Christian and believe me, I fought Jesus every step of the way. But He saved me for a reason, and if my mistakes might be able to prevent others from the same, that's not so bad right?
So, here I am at the crossroads. This is where many of us sit. Regret for the past and fear for the future. I can either push forward and greet success without fear or stay on the same path, hiding behind my wall of unfinished projects... regretting it forever.
I choose to move forward. Face my fears, keep procrastination at bay and see what God has in store for me. I'm putting my book out for people to read, I've created this website to widen my audience, I've added new topics to speak on...
Then again, my book may not even sell, no one will read this website and no one will hire me to speak anymore and all this fretting will have been for nothing.
Oh well, if at first you don't succeed....
I was never really much of a "goal-oriented" person, and it shows. If you don't have goals, ultimately, someone else chooses your path for you. If you don't have a specific direction you want to go, the world will force your hand. I was a prime example of that.
Fell into this job or that job, going where the wind would take me. This relationship, that one. Blaming everyone else for the bad things that happened in my life. When I figured out that the same things kept happening to me everywhere I went... I realized that I was the common denominator. When you realize that you can be in charge of the rest or your life, its pretty empowering. But I had to make that change. Stop blaming, take responsibility. Don't just float along, choose a direction.
Once I figured out that when you have something to work towards, you have direction. And when you have direction, you can create a "road map". (Now,there's an analogy I can get behind!)
You see your end goal, you're just building in the stops along the way. Smaller goals to work toward your big goal. Your elephant.
You CAN reach your goals. You can eat the elephant! The trick really is breaking it down to smaller bite size pieces. Think about the small things you can do everyday to whittle away the giant oak. Don't let yourself make excuses like keeping your job or the lack of funds stand in your way, because, believe me, there's plenty of reasons NOT to do something. Don't let others get control of your dreams. For every moment you are not working on YOUR goals, you could be achieving someone else's.
It all starts with the decision to make A change. Choose your direction. Set a goal. I believe that we can achieve great things if we put forth the effort and take it "one bite at a time".
"It isn't sufficient just to want- You've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt