Latest Entries »


effective communication1Faithfulness is an important value in a marriage. After all, you pledged your vows of faithfulness and commitment ‘until death do us part’ on your wedding day, hoping to guarantee the faithfulness and commitment that allows you to confidently rely on the steadfastedness of the relationship. But we know all too well, that almost 50% of all marriages fall apart and end in divorce. There is also a high percentage of infidelity that occurs in relationships as well, some ending in divorce, others building from ground up to restore broken trust and revive the marriage with renewed vows of faithfulness.

Defining Faithfulness

Before we go any further, let’s take a few moments to think of some of the following words that have to do with the concept of faithfulness:

  • Trust
  • Confidence
  • Assuredness
  • Conviction
  • Fidelity
  • Truth
  • Certainty
  • Permanence
  • Rest
  • Commitment

Now I invite you to think about whether these are the words that come to mind when you think about faithfulness. Is this what faithfulness means to you?

I believe that true commitment and faithfulness means to be trusted in all areas, not just the sexual department concerning matters of fidelity. Being faithful means that you are trusted with the matters of each other’s hearts. Being faithful means that you can be depended upon to follow through with your promises. It means that your partner should have a confident expectation (or faith in you) that you will follow through and deliver on not only your promises but your wedding vows as well. This kind of confidence helps to eliminate fear or worry in a relationship.

If there is too little trust, little sense of safety, and little certainty about your relationship, this is a huge cause for concern and something to invest immediate attention to, for the sake of your relationships health. Intimacy comes from knowing the other person at a deep level. When this is not happening, there is always room for doubt and suspicion of where you stand with the other person, as well as questions being raised about how honest and open the other person is being. Openly and honestly sharing our thoughts, dreams, values, plans, decisions, and most importantly matters of the heart is an essential foundation for building that sense of security within a relationship.

Guardedness

Sometimes we put up masks or guards in a relationship about our areas of weakness for fear of being judged or rejected. But the more you share inside the relationship, taking risks of vulnerability, the safer your relationship becomes. If one member of the relationship cannot share his/her fears of abandonment, fear of closeness, or rejection, or fears of being controlled, or being seen as ‘all bad’ causing feelings of failure, and believing they are not loveable as they are, or have fears of sharing their own desires, needs or feelings in a relationship, this can become a major problem. Those sorts of things will seep out elsewhere if they are unable to be revealed within your committed relationship. This opens the door for infidelity, whether emotional or physical, where secrets now drive a wedge between you and the love of your life that you pledged your vow of faithfulness to. If you now share these secrets with a person outside the relationship, you may be at risk for some type of affair, and a ‘cooling’ of the committed relationship you are in. I encourage you, if you are afraid to share your deepest fears and needs with your spouse and you want to have a committed long term marriage with this person, face your fears. Bring your needs, desires, weaknesses and fears to your spouse and not to someone else, even if it feels risky. This is a great way to guard your marriage from outside intruders that may come in between the two of you and breakdown your marriage.

I also encourage anyone considering marriage, to take a look at the words above that outline what faithfulness is really about. If you do not believe you can do that, or do not have the same value of faithfulness, DO NOT COMMIT to marriage until you hold faithfulness in such a high regard. It is the only sure guarantee that you will have a successful marriage, if you REALLY do value commitment and faithfulness.

When the going gets tough, not when a relationship is in it’s infancy with all the feelings of infatuation… this is the time when your real values begin to show up. The test of time and hardship will help you determine the ‘stuff’ not only that you are made of, or that of your spouse, but it will also reveal how strong your relationship is. It will show you both what your ‘staying’ power is and willingness to stick with the process of being truly known and fully knowing, accepting and appreciating your spouse. This stage unfortunately is usually where the relationship begins to fall apart. But it is also an important crossroads for the relationship as you both begin to see your own moral failures, as well as your true values, and can be the beginning of the most confident, secure and wonderful committed relationship as you realize as a couple that you have made it through the most trying times and have come out stronger because of it.

Loyalty and Commitment

Here are some ways to increase a sense of loyalty and commitment, thereby ensuring faithfulness to each other:

  • Speak highly of your spouse in front of others. He will feel respected, she will feel loved.
  • Be involved in the things that are important to your spouse.
  • Help make decisions together, as a team, especially ones concerning finances (for him) and regarding the kids (for her) as well as other decisions that need to be made together for each person to feel considered, valued, and part of a team working together toward your family goals, values and dreams.
  • Don’t correct of be overly critical of each other in public, in front of the kids. Resolve these issues privately, and try to do so with as much love and respect as possible.
  • Don’t say anything that will tarnish your spouse’s reputation.
  • Don’t look lustfully at others outside of your marriage.
  • Make each other and your marriage a priority.
  • Defend each other.
  • Keep your commitments.
  • Speak positively of each other.
  • Work through your own issues of fear that affect your commitment and faithfulness.
  • Strive to be more faithful, loyal and committed.

Remember also that love ALWAYS protects, always hopes and always perseveres.

Stay tuned for value #5 on how to ensure that you are protecting your marriage from intruders. I will give some more key information on how to have the appropriate boundaries in your marriage to help keep your relationship safe from infidelity or other things that come into a relationship and eventually can break down the marriage bond.

————-

Looking to improve your relationship?

Check out my online Relationship Coaching Program and get started today!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach


lies truth

Trust is a BIG DEAL in relationships!

It is important to be open and honest with each other. It is important to understand how to identify and find safe people in which to connect with and build an open, and caring relationship built on trust. Keep in mind, trust takes time to develop. Trust must not be immediately assumed, or given. Trust must be earned. Trust must be built first by being able to observe another person from a safe emotional distance to look for characteristics of integrity. It must involve being able to trust first with small things, and as evidence occurs that your confidence in the other person is safe, you can begin trusting with greater things as the relationship progresses. Openness and an ability to share more and more intimate details as a relationship deepens must equally be observed, and both parties willing to take small risks until the certainty of trustworthiness is observed.

TrustHonestyRespectA sense of security is one of a woman’s most basic needs in relationship.

Trust, openness, honesty and transparency are absolutely essential for a woman in order to produce the level of emotional intimacy that will meet the needs of her soul. Nothing should be hidden within a marriage relationship, even the secrets of insecurity should be able to be entrusted to each other in order to foster a deep abiding bond of satisfying connection. Your spouse should know you better than anyone else. The reality, based on a survey done in the USA, Men tend to be the big secret keepers in relationships. Whereas a woman tends to want to share everything in a relationship, based on her deep need for security, men tend to keep secrets about everything from finances, feelings, his male relationships, spirituality, sexuality, and his relationships with women. All of which, if kept hidden and become found out by the woman he is with, will begin to tear apart at the seams the level of trust she has in the relationship, which then causes her to question the level of her safety in the relationship. On the other hand, honesty meets such an emotional need for a woman that women tend to fall deeper in love with a person who’s radically honest with them. Golden rule: Honesty is the best policy for everyone involved.

broken trust

Effects of Broken Trust

Trust is not only a big deal for women, it affects both spouses equally when something goes wrong, or when there has been a trust breach in your current or even past relationships. Yes, the baggage from the past often skews our perspective on present relationships. When you think about broken trust, often the first thing that comes to mind is infidelity in a relationship. But the reality is that there are many types of major betrayals that can affect a relationship. A major betrayal by definition is “When someone does something that breaks a fundamental promise or violates a fundamental expectation and does so in a way that significantly hurts your peace of mind. Everything from hitting your spouse, going behind someone’s back, loaning big chunks of your savings to a relative who is irresponsible, excessive spending to the detriment of your financial security, an alcohol addiction, etc. all can be major issues of a breach of trust in a relationship. If something is a big deal to you, if it changes the way you see the other person, if it makes you feel unsafe, if the quality of your life suddenly goes downhill, then it’s a major betrayal and breach of trust. So what is trust? Trust is a feeling based on a fact. Most of the time it’s not even a feeling we are aware of except when we’ve been hurt. Then the very sense of safety we used to take for granted is now something we deeply need to restore equilibrium.

Qualities of a Trustworthy Person

What ARE the qualities of someone who is trustworthy and safe then? Look for the following qualities, as well as look to become the following things to the people in your life that you wish to develop a deeper level of trust with:

  • People who act differently than those who have hurt you before.
  • People with the ability to accept your imperfections and love you anyway.
  • People who are no stranger to pain, yet are recovering.
  • People who are aware of their own deficits.
  • People who speak the truth to you lovingly.
  • People who draw us closer to God
  • People who draw us closer to others.
  • People who help you become the person you were created to be, and celebrate with you.
  • People who accept you just as you are.
  • People whose influence develops your ability to love and be more responsible.
  • Someone who gives you an opportunity to grow.
  • Someone who increases love within you.
  • Someone you can be yourself around.
  • Someone who always allows you to be on the outside what you are on the inside – valuing authenticity.
  • Someone who helps you become the person you want to be and were created to be.
  • Someone who helps you to love others more.

Finding our way to Total Honesty

I believe in total honesty in your most intimate relationship with your spouse. I believe how much you reveal to others depends on the depth of the connection. Obviously we do not need to reveal all things to everyone, and though this topic is geared mostly to intimate relationships, I believe that the more authentic, upfront, and honest we are in our most intimate relationships, the more forthcoming we will become in other areas of our lives, in regard to living with integrity.

The following are some areas most couples find difficult to be honest about:

  • Feelings
  • Disappointments
  • Desires, likes and dislikes,
  • Hurts
  • Anger and hatred,
  • Sex
  • Failures
  • Sins
  • Needs and vulnerabilities

Being honest, however, must go along with other important values to hold in a relationship because honesty without love and commitment can destroy a relationship. Honesty without compassion and forgiveness can do the same.

Intimacy comes from knowing the other person at a deep level. If there are barriers to honesty, this kind of knowing is taken over by false fronts, masks that we put on, little white lies, secrecy, and hardening of the heart happens over time until there is a rift between a couple and isolation occurs.

trustworthy qualitiesI can’t stress enough the importance of being able to share with each other your deepest feelings, needs, hurts, desires, failures, successes, whatever is in your soul. If you and your spouse can feel safe enough to be totally vulnerable, you are on your way to an incredible marriage.

The Effects of Deception

Sometimes though, deception can take over for ‘defensive’ reasons. In other words, dishonesty occurs not for evil reasons, but to protect oneself. This does not excuse lying, but it does complicate matters when you want to be totally honest in a relationship but experience some of the following common fears:

  • Fear of real closeness and being known
  • Fear of abandonment and loss of love if they are known
  • Fear of being controlled and possessed if they are known
  • Fear of being seen as ‘bad’ or not good enough if some part of them is known.
  • Fear of their own desires, needs and feelings.

affectionate coupleTherefore it is always important to not only value honesty, but make it a practice in your relationship, as well as ‘doing unto others as you would have them do to you’ by cultivating honesty in your life and making it not only a relational value, but a personal value as well, as one who regards honesty as an incredibly high characteristic of integrity. The truth is, if you model it, you might just reap what you sow in return. But in this pursuit of being an honest person yourself, make it a goal to value wisdom as well, so that you will seek out safe, supportive relationships able to discern that the relationship you choose to engage in, also values honesty in his/her life.

————-

Looking to improve your relationship?

Check out my online Relationship Coaching Program and get started today!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach


couple huggingAt first glance, looking at the concept of unconditional love, the task itself seems forever daunting, if not completely impossible! How can we love our spouse so completely and unconditionally? No wonder so many of us give up on the thought of happily ever after and “until death do us part”. Love is complicated enough when we are NOT expected to love so perfectly. But perhaps unconditional love is not as daunting as we first suppose.

Perhaps it is our expectations of what marriage is and should be that we take a look at first. If we enter a relationship with the expectation that the other person is supposed to take the role in our lives of ‘completing’ us, or bringing us fulfillment, and the ideal perfect idea of happily ever after involving no conflicts and agreeing on everything (let’s be honest, when we say that, we really mean that the other person agrees with you) and couple all of that with the expectation that the other person is not a ‘broken’ person dealing with their own issues, and growing from them, what we really have is a search for a fairy tale, and not reality. It is also a picture of self-centered or self-focused love. We are looking for someone else to love us unconditionally, with no understanding of what unconditional love is really about. What I have just described is not only a recipe for disaster, but it is not what a ‘real’ relationship ought to consist of.

First let’s take a look at what unconditional love really is. The definition goes something like this: The one who loves does not do necessarily what the one being loved wants, but what is deemed best by the one who loves. It also has to do with the concept of preferring one another… not merely looking out for your own interests and needs but also to those of the other. This means that we are looking out for each other, to find and cherish the best in each other, and encourage growth in each others weak areas, so that they might become stronger and well balanced in all areas of life, rather than a marriage of convenience seeking what someone else can complete in you. It requires being other focused. It requires greater emphasis on building together something that will not only last, but grow and flourish and bring the best of the both of you through friendship and team work.

This concept of love does not fit so well with your typical Hollywood romantic movie. A perfect example comes to mind is the upcoming movie, “About Time” with Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, about  a guy who finds out from his dad that the men in his family have always been able to travel through time. The character Tim in the movie (played by Domhnall Gleeson) can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life. As the movie trailer indicates, Tim goes back to the same moments in time several times to edit what he presents of himself to the girl whom he is falling in love with, so as to present a more ‘polished’ or ideal presentation of himself. Click below to watch the trailer for this movie:

Sadly, this is not what real life or real love is about. It is most often the opposite. The person with whom you are the most intimate gets to observe you in ways that outsiders do not see. The day to day habits, character issues, un-edited versions of each other. I will admit, in the early stages of a relationship, yes it is true that people most often show the best parts of themselves at first, but eventually the flaws show. Eventually disillusionment enters the relationship, especially when you are seeking the ideal mate.

couple arguing in bed

While it is quite disappointing when people first see the flaws in their spouse, it is a perfect opportunity for something real to develop and the perfect place for unconditional love to be tested. This is the part of the relationship where your real values surface. When you first see the flaws – the temper, the blameshifting, the hidden secrets surfaced, the addictions or bad habits show up… what do you do? Do you see this as the perfect opportunity to run away and leave the relationship? Do you withdraw emotionally and disconnect? Do you fight and bicker and stick it out? Most of these responses come from something deep within us that longs for the ideal, coming out in language like “I need to find someone better than this.”

If you have followed my blogs for a while, you may recall a series I did a long while back on boundary development. To refresh, boundary development happens in the first few years of growth, going through the following stages of development: First we need to attach and connect, then we need to separate and individuate and begin to notice that mommy and me are not the same. This is also where boundary development begins. Knowing what you want, or don’t, determining your likes and dislikes, and differences between you and others first takes place. The next stage involves knowing that you are loved unconditionally; that both your good and not so good parts are loved. Finally, there is the stage of adulthood and authority. These are the stages we walk through while growing up in our first family. I mention this because, as many of us know, we all carry baggage with us into every relationship we enter. Everything that is unfinished business in our growth and development needs a safe place in which we can continue and complete that growth, that missing element. This is a perfect example of what the intention of marriage is for.

Marriage is meant to be a safe place to finish growing and be cheered on by our mate to continue to grow and develop throughout the remainder of our lives. Without continued development, we grow stale and become stagnant. Where there is no vision, the people perish. We are meant to continually live with purpose for the remainder of our lives. The same man who was quoted to say that without vision we perish, is the same man who tested the measures of life, as you can read in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible. Solomon was claimed to be the wisest man of his age, and after an experiment of experiencing all sorts of pleasure, and riches, work, even wisdom itself, came to the conclusion that everything in life is meaningless without purpose. His conclusion was that God gave purpose to life, and that without purpose, there was really no point, because everything comes to an end. You can’t take your riches with you. Pleasure alone without purpose leads to depression, and loneliness. He realized that life was not meant to be live self-centeredly.

So too, marriage is not meant to be lived for the convenience of others making me happy, but rather to work as a team together building each other up, and being a help to each other spurring each other on toward more and more growth, and personal or professional or spiritual growth, as well as coming to deeper levels of maturity within the relationship. Sharing not only the joys and successes of life together, but also walking together through the painful seasons of life along with all of the trials, and through each others weaknesses, openly communicating and sharing with each other brings a deep and rich fullness to your lives together, and ultimately leads to a life where there is never a dull moment, or distance between you, but rather a rich sense of ‘wholeness’ as you draw closer together, always preferring one another.

This is what unconditional love is meant to be.

————-

Looking to improve your relationship?  Check out my online Relationship Coaching Program and get started today!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

 


This morning I was inspired by a blog I read on igniting more passion in your marriage, and since I’ve just begun a new blog series on marriage, I decided I would host blog this touching article, and link to a video that has recently gone viral, entitled “Sweet Lorraine” about a 96 year old man whose wife recently passed away and the love song he wrote to her after 75 years of marriage. It was such a touching story, it brought me to tears, and I would like to share it with you!

Please follow the link below to the article and the you tube video, “Sweet Lorraine.”

http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2013/09/passion-in-marriage/


These are the 7 values that are important safeguards for your relationship.

happy romantic couple

1. Unconditional love

Unconditional love is the most important value in a relationship. It is committed love. It is defined by doing what is best for the other as deemed by the one loving. It involves compassion, preferring each other above yourself, protecting, and commitment to love even in conflict – when the ‘ feelings’ aren’t there. Make a promise to love in good times and bad, in sickness and health, in plenty or in want. Love is patient, kind, rejoices with truth and does not fail. See 1 Cor. 13:4-8.

2. Honesty

It’s critical to having a ‘real’ and authentic, trustworthy relationship. Dishonesty is one of the primary ways to break down both communication and the foundation of the entire relationship. Suspicion, lack of trust and safety form without honesty, and can single handedly destroy the marriage. Intimacy is always blocked when truth is absent. Honesty brings what is hidden to the light.

3. Faithfulness

Safety and trust are fostered within the relationship, paving the way for a deep, abiding and trusting relationship. It brings assurance that this relationship is committed. It guards against fear. It holds each other in high esteem and treasures each other. It always protects, and preserves the bond between the couple.

4. Forgiveness

Remember basic goodwill toward each other when in conflict. Try to empathize with your spouse and listen and understand their point of view. Evaluate what is beneath your anger to work on the root issues, rather than simply using anger as a protective barrier against your partner. If you are looking out for the best interests of each other, it diminishes areas of conflict and there is less to forgive.

5. Protect Against Intruders

Set limits on how close you become with outsiders to the relationship. Boundaries guard against infidelity and deep emotional connections that tear away at the intimacy between the couple. This is where honesty, faithfulness and love come in to undergird and protect the relationship. Guard against flattery from others. In order to keep your marriage safe from intruders you need to come up with a strong plan of action to ensure the security of your relationship!

couple talking in cafe6. Good communication

If you clearly, honestly and openly articulate your needs, desires, expectations, assumptions, beliefs, concerns, fears, etc. then you are well on your way toward making your relationship great! Communication is important. Connect heart to heart and share your real self with each other -this is the glue that holds it together.

7. Conflict Resolution

Finally, make it a point to work together to resolve conflicts and problem areas to foster growth and a mature, deep and committed relationship that will endure. If you are both invested in making it work, you both have work to do. Working together is incredibly important!

These values promote healthy, thriving and vibrant relationships! Over the next few weeks, stay tuned as I delve deeper into each of the above mentioned relationship values! Enjoy your long weekend!

————-

Looking to improve your relationship?

Check out my online Relationship Coaching Program and get started today!

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach


“I love you but I don’t trust you”. Does that sound familiar to you at all? If so, you’ve come to the right place to find some answers to resolving the issue of trust in your relationship. Can a relationship survive without trust? Do you want it to? Do you feel conflicted about whether you should stay or should you go?

I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point in our lives… whether it is as severe as a gambling problem that has depleted your financial stability, or as nasty as an affair can cripple a marriage, a severe addiction that your loved one is involved in that is affecting you as a by-product, abuse, or a betrayal by a friend… there are many ways in which trust is broken, and different levels of severity to be sure… but the types of broken trust I hope to address today are the ones that cause you to ask difficult questions about whether the relationship is salvageable, or better yet, hope for total restoration!

I read a book by the title of my opening statement: “I love you, but I don’t trust you”, written by Mira Kirshenbaum, who has some great advice and much wisdom on the subject. I would highly recommend this book as it is a great read for anyone wrestling with complicated trust issues. Today, I hope to briefly review some of her recommendations that I believe are full of wisdom!

From the back cover of the book, it grips the reader with compelling questions such as:

Is my relationship worth saving?
Will the trust ever come back?
How can things ever be good between us again?

As a quick overview, some of the most important messages I pulled out of her book where most often questions that left you thinking… but help to pull you out of the vicious trust cycle of “should I stay or should I go.”

Asking the following questions should help you not only sort out the answer to that question, but help to answer the question of “Can trust be restored once it is broken?”, once you’ve made up your mind to stay.

Try asking yourselves these questions:

1. Would you want this relationship if trust could be restored?
“Guideline #1: If you didn’t think this was a good relationship before the betrayal… then why would you want to stay in it now? But if the relationship was a good one, why wouldn’t you want to try to salvage it?

2. Does the fact that this betrayal happened ruin everything for you?
“Guideline #2: If the betrayal has changed who the other person is for you so thoroughly that you can’t imagine wanting to be with him – not even after your anger has died down, not even if you knew for sure he’d never betray you again – then trust isn’t the issue and you’ll be better off ending the relationship.”

3. Can I imagine the possibility of forgiveness?
“Guideline #3: If you can see your lack of forgiveness as a self-destructive act, if you can see forgiving as a life-affirming act, and if you can sense the realistic possibility that one day you might be able to forgive, it makes sense to work at healing this relationship. Otherwise, not.”

4. Does the person you mistrust care about how you feel?
“Guideline #4: If the other person doesn’t care about how you feel in the sense that he consistently hasn’t gone out of his way to do things to show his caring, then he will not be able to work with you during the trust-restoring process, and so it’s not likely to happen. Why bother trying?”

I need to insert something I have personally observed in this stage of restoring trust: It is far easier to fixate on the problem (broken trust) than to actually notice and take into account the other person’s caring actions. Be careful in this stage to pay attention to the internal messages you are taking in. Is everything coming through the broken trust filter, or are you able to cognitively reason instead of looking through an all-or-nothing point of view? Can you intentionally give credit to the other person when they ‘go out of their way to show they care?’ If they are unwilling to rebuild trust… you will know it.

5. Can the other person work on your relationship with you?
“Guideline #5: A good way to tell if the other person is willing to work on the relationship is this. What happens if you attack less and listen more? If that makes the other person more willing to work on things with you, then you’re in good shape. If it doesn’t make a difference, or if you can’t bring yourself to attack less and listen more, then you may not be able to go through the process of rebuilding trust.”

Broken trust CAN heal. We were hardwired to trust. It’s in our DNA. “We want to trust. We need to trust. We’re designed by nature to be trusting creatures.” As Mira says in her book.

The reality is, as I mentioned in my previous blog on trust, when we stop trusting, we lock our hearts up in a cave, impenetrable. We become hardened, and isolated, and we lack ability to sustain caring and attached relationships because something inside of us has been altered by broken trust. Our sense of safety has been dismantled… our belief that there is good in the world turns into suspicion of every person we meet…

“Our thinking goes something like this: If HE could hurt me the way he did, than ANYTHING could go wrong, EVERYTHING has the potential to blow up in my face. I can’t even trust myself.”

I know. I’ve been there too. It’s like you no longer csn trust yourself to make good judgments. But again, if we turn it into an all-or nothing belief, we will completely discredit ourselves because we did something perfectly normal, perfectly human: we chose to trust someone with our heart and they disappointed our hope.

In closing, I will share this great quote from another favorite author of mine, that really helped me to understand why just because you trust, it doesn’t necessarily equal that someone else will be trustworthy in response:

“If you are a responsible and loving person, you might assume other people are like you – responsible and loving… You do the right thing by taking responsibility for yourself, for your mistakes, for your work, and care about other people and how your actions affect those people. You have concern about how what you do affects others. Doesn’t it make sense that everyone else would be like you and really care?”

Unfortunately, if you were to read further, you would realize that this simply isn’t the case. But just because it is not the case, does not mean that we automatically suspect everyone as a person who is self centered and out to get you.

Eventually, we must come to a point where we reach out and risk again, despite how unsafe it feels. Check out my blog on “Safe People” for tips on learning what qualities need to be in place for you to believe it is worth taking the leap of faith and trusting again!

And don’t be too hard on yourself. It is a process, and as they say, time heals all wounds…


Why ‘Love Your Body’ Campaigns Aren’t Working

Posted: 07/18/2013 10:38 am                                                                                      
 
Body Image, Eating Disorders, Lena Dunham, Dieting, Eating Disorder, Ideal Body Weight, Love Your Body Campaigns, Self-Acceptance, Self-Love, Women And Self-Confidence, Women And Self-Esteem,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Women News                                

                    

Real Beauty

 

Like an unfortunately large percentage of women in the U.S., I grew up criticizing my body and dieting regularly from a young age. I spent years of my life terrified I would never get “there,” the place where my weight and all perceived rewards of thinness would finally fall into place. Getting thin was the only answer I could think of to most of my problems, and conversely, “being fat” or gaining weight, meant “losing–” it meant never achieving, never being loved, never “having it all.”

I remember seeing body-positive campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty or Victoria Secret’s Love Your Body — campaigns that encourage women to “love the skin they’re in” — and thinking “that’s nice, but I still wish I was thinner.”

I would see images of “real women” and think to myself, I don’t want to be one. I wanted to get ahead, stand out, be special, and I didn’t see how accepting my body the way it was would get me “there” — the place where my life would begin. I believed my dreams were 20 lbs. away from me, and what seemed like a forced, new ideal of beauty on a billboard didn’t seem to change that.

Eventually my relationship with my body did start to change… when I finally realized I can get the guy, the job, the cute clothes in the window right now, regardless of my weight. Women with “non-traditional body types” are not disabled from creating what they want in the world, we’re just taught that they are.

I learned by working with countless women around body image that helping women “unlearn” the rewards and punishments they experienced around weight as children or were made to fear by the mainstream media (which, by the way, doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon) is more powerful than simply telling someone “your body is beautiful the way it is.” While changing the figures and images in the media is an important and wonderful first step (particularly for building new beliefs in younger generations), it may fall on deaf ears amongst those who have already been brainwashed that “thin” is where life happens.

One could argue that’s why Lena Dunham is so successful — she’s not just saying “beauty at any size;” she’s saying “you can have it all at any size.” After all, our insecurity is not just about our bodies at its core — it’s about creating and feeling deserving of the life we want to live.

If we don’t actively dismantle the myths that have been embedded into women’s psyche around weight historically, those myths will linger, regardless of how many plus-sized models they see on billboards (again, important first step, but not necessarily the “answer” for women suffering from body hatred now).

In reality, women want to experience, they want to feel, they want to be… far more than they want to look. Unfortunately, we’ve been taught that looking a certain way is a prerequisite for “achieving” throughout the rest of our lives. If body-positive messages were effectively combating that myth, women’s beliefs systems about weight would be shaken at its roots, rather than its petals.

In other words, instead of simply shifting the global paradigm of beauty, we need to start exploring why those paradigms are meaningful to begin with, and challenge the validity of those beliefs.

What are YOU making “fat” mean?

Are you making fat mean that you’ll never find a suitable partner?

That you’re unworthy of the respect of your peers?

That you’ll never “make it” professionally?

That no one will take you seriously?

CHALLENGE THAT.

If we don’t address those underlying fears, few women will gain the confidence needed to say “F YOU” to a body paradigm that doesn’t serve them. Women need to believe that their body shape does not dictate their success in relationships, their success in the workplace, their social mobility, etc.

When our belief systems around weight change — that is, when we challenge the “meaning” we give to weight or body shape — our bodies naturally become our allies in achievement, rather than an obstacle to overcome.

For more information on overcoming negative body image or emotional behaviors around food, visit www.isabelfoxenduke.com and download “How To Not Eat Chocolate Cake… Really Fast, Standing Up, When Nobody’s Looking.”


broken trust

Nothing seems more difficult to recover from then when someone whom you have trusted suddenly, and without warning, does something you did not expect that is life altering or affects the safety of your relationship with that person. The shock of the betrayal of trust from someone whom you expect to be trustworthy, whether it be your parents, a friend, a lover, an abusive encounter, whatever the case may be, when trust is broken, something deep inside of us is altered. And at the time, it feels like permanent damage to our souls.
 
We are internally wired to trust, to believe, to hope for goodness from other human beings with whom we are in relationship with. There is something almost naïve in all of us that assumes that other people will treat us with common courtesy and goodness, loyalty and essentially be trustworthy people in our lives. We were hard wired to trust. Now you may be questioning the truth of these statements as with almost complete certainty, you have at least one, if not two or more stories coming into your mind right now that has proved otherwise that people are genuinely trustworthy. If this is the case, then you have learned the hard lesson through a betrayal that has happened in your life that caused you to challenge this inherent sense of need to trust. The reason for this, is simply this: broken trust has altered you.
 
Before we experience a trauma of any kind, we expect things to be generally good. After a trauma, our sense of personal safety is now the major focus of our life.
 
A simple personal example I will share of something I experienced as a natural phenomenon,  occurred a few months after the major quake in Haiti a few years back. My husband and I were vacationing in the Dominican Republic, and while we were there, we experienced an aftershock earthquake where the ground was literally moving beneath our feet. Now for those of you who live in areas of the world where earthquakes happen more on a regular basis, you would have adapted to the experience and even the expectation of it. But for those of us who do not live in earthquake zones, it can be a little upsetting and shakes your confidence in the earth’s structural integrity. You grow up expecting the earth beneath you to be solid and stable and give little thought to earthquakes in general. So after experiencing an earthquake… suddenly, what once seemed so safe and predictable, has now been called into question. Going through a major experience of an earthquake is enough to alter your expectations. You start looking for it, fearing it, wondering when the next one will happen…. are you safe? This is what I am referring to when I say that we become ‘altered’ by experiences where something we once trusted in completely, has changed, thereby changing our expectations. We begin to believe everyone around us is untrustworthy, and our constant focus becomes protecting ourselves and asking the ever present question: Am I safe? Is this safe? What is safe? We begin to project our expectations of a lack of feeling safe onto everyone in our lives. We expect once trust has been broken that everyone else will be exactly the same as the one who broke our trust. Our confidence in safety has been shaken. Our focus now revolves around the issue of safety. However true or untrue this view of reality is, it becomes the focus of our life post-trauma. We become pre-occupied with the concept of safety, something we barely gave our attention to before we experienced a trust injury. This altered state becomes our new reality, becoming suspicious of everyone and everything, incapable of attaching and making new deep connections with others, because OBVIOUSLY, we are no longer safe with anyone. EVERYONE is no longer trustworthy because of one experience that caused damage to our souls and even self esteem. We begin to doubt  and question whether we are even able to judge or discern who is trustworthy and a seed of self doubt is formed in our psyche. This is just a portion of the damage that broken trust does in our lives.
 
So now that we know that the hardwiring in our brain has been altered as a result of broken trust, the bigger question remains: Can I ever trust again? And what happens if I can’t? broken heart stitched up>
 
In the words of C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, and colleague and good friends with the author of the well known movie trilogy series “The Lord of The Rings,” has this to say on the subject of life without trust:
 
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable..”
 
In other words, our hearts become hardened, our lives locked up in isolation, intimacy always held at bay. The problem with living in this state is that we lose the ability to feel anything warm at all. We become distant, removed, disconnected. Safe from harm, yes, maybe… but at great personal cost to our souls.
 If you are currently in this state of isolation, depending how long you’ve been there will exhibit different symptoms. If you have been disconnected for a long time, you may no longer even feel any desire to attach and bond to other people, but you likely feel disconnected and alone. You may feel that you don’t even care, but if you were to be really honest, you feel trapped. Part of you wants to no longer be so alone and disconnected, the other part afraid of being hurt again.
 
I would bet that most of you who are reading this article from a search engine are searching for answers because you are in a different state than the completely walled off person mentioned above. You are likely feeling like you hate how disconnected you feel and want to connect or trust again, but the fear is overwhelming…. the desire to risk and trust again wavering back and forth between a yes to trusting again and a “No! it’s not safe” happening in your heart. You are likely looking for information to know how to take baby steps toward trusting again. What you want to know is: Is it possible to trust again after there has been a major trust violation in your life. You may even be thinking, “how can I trust your blog…. experiencing a minor earthquake is nothing like the major betrayal of someone close to you in your life… what do you know about it?” Actually, that is precisely why I’m writing this blog. I’m exactly where you are. I have endured major betrayals on more than one occasion in my life, and lived to tell about it. I wish I didn’t have so much experience in this area. The purpose of this blog for me is to offer to you, the same information I was looking for, in order to heal, to repair, and stop living in the fear of the unknown, of being rejected, abandoned, betrayed, broken hearted all over again.
 
My goal is to share some useful information to pass onto you about whether it is possible to ever trust again. And the answer is a resounding YES!
 
How to heal after a major betrayal
 
If you’ve been betrayed in a major way by someone you have trusted that has seriously called into question whether you can ever trust them again, I’m sure you are asking the following questions whether you are consciously aware of it or not.
  1. How will I ever cope with this?
  2. Does the other person really care about me?
  3. Can the other person really see me and understand how his/her betrayal hurt me?
  4. Can our relationship survive?
  5. Can we make things safer and better between us?
  6. Can I FORGIVE him or her?
 
The answers to these questions are the beginning process to knowing whether trust can be restored with the person who broke trust with you.
 
Think about these questions for the next few days, and then tune in to my next blog which will be a part 2 to this blog, and also doubling as a book review for a book I read that really helped me. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a more intensive look at the concept of broken trust and how to heal from it. The book is called “I love you but I don’t trust you” by Mira Kirshenbaum. I would also recommend checking out my trauma program on my life coaching website at http://www.freedomlifelove.com which is a six month program to walk you through the stages that occur when a major betrayal or breach of trust has occurred and has broken down a relationship that was important to you. It helps you anticipate what to expect, how to cope, with or without the person who was involved in the trauma you currently are facing.
self esteem hierarchy of needs
 
For today, I merely want to pass on some hope: YES, IT CAN HEAL. YES! YOU CAN TRUST AGAIN… Perhaps you can even learn to trust again the person who caused the trust injury. That will all depend of course, on how much responsibility they are willing to take for their actions and whether they are willing to do what it takes to make amends by becoming a safer person in your life. If they are willing to walk through the long process of becoming more trustworthy and are willing to earn your trust again, there is hope for reconciliation and restoration. Without these ingredients, there is little hope for trust to be restored in that relationship. I encourage you to take a look at an article I wrote last year on finding safe people and the characteristics they possess. Even an untrustworthy person now, over time, can make changes and become a safer, more trustworthy person.
 
 

Beautiful Is…


I was really struck and impacted by this blog I just read this morning on the subject of beauty. Isn’t beauty something that all women wrestle with at some point in life, whether it is an ongoing insecurity we battle with for all of our lives, or merely a result of something profoundly impactful that happens in life that distorts our understanding of beauty, or simply popular culture which dictates that beauty is skin deep… and what about aging? What do we do and how do we measure our beauty if we only look in the mirror and see the outward appearance? Must we be trapped by the image pop culture says about the subject? Or can we begin a new image for beauty… perhaps something far deeper and healthier for our self esteem than criticizing every feature we see when we look in our mirrors and walk away depressed that the image before us isn’t the perfect reflection we wish to see.

I encourage you to check out this link below to an article on beauty that weighs beauty by standards far deeper than the current trends coming out of Hollywood! Isn’t it time we value ourselves by something far deeper than our outward appearance?

http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=d4f148ccc93c8db5fe8d151b0&id=9c229dfe9f&e=8309c2b43d


baby trusting mommyWhat is trust? Let’s face it, we all are born not knowing how to trust. We learn trust over time from our early caregivers, through mom’s nurturing, gentle loving bond of attachment with us. It is from this state of bondedness that we begin to build trust muscles and the ability to ascertain what is safe and what is not. We learn through trial and error about experiences that are high risk or unsafe. In fact, we never even question or concern ourselves too much with the concept of safety until we have experienced something unsafe. Or for that matter, question what is trustworthy until we have experienced a breach of trust. it’s like we have an automatic cue within us that formats our whole life to confidently expect to trust, and that people are genuinely safe, trustworthy and good… until that fateful day when your beautiful sense of naivety and innocence come crashing around your feet as if your whole world, and your belief system crashed in front of you as you experienced a harsh dose of reality: Not everyone or everything is trustworthy. And yet, we are created with this innate need to trust. it comes naturally to want to trust.

You know it’s true, especially when something has malfunctioned for you in the area of trust. You become aware that something is ‘off’ or not quite right when you experience symptoms such as these:

  • Fear
  • Anger
  • More conscious of feeling unsafe than the ability to trust
  • Cannot trust easily
  • Panic attacks and anxiety
  • More withdrawn than usual
  • Isolated from caring and nurturing relationships
  • Desire to be alone and not have friends or other trustworthy relationships
  • Depression
  • Distraction – doing everything you can not to feel the aloneness you are experiencing in your soul.
  • Hardness of heart. You no longer feel the need for caring, supportive attachments in your life. You feel it is better just to rely on yourself and not let anyone get too close.
  • Self-sufficiency.
  • Irritability with people. Quick to want to run away from or ex-communicate someone from your life when things don’t go the way you want them too.
  • A general sense that something isn’t functioning right within you, which you attribute to why you can’t trust.
  • Avoidance of the issue… close cousins with distraction!
  • The inability to trust or want to. Tied very strongly to a deeply rooted sense of fear of opening up, being known or being vulnerable.

All these and more can be symptoms that you may have a trust issue.broken trust

You may still be stuck at my first paragraph, asking the question, “well how can I trust if I never got that seed of trust planted in my by my early caegivers. I was adopted and rejected by my real parents, or my dad was never there… or my mom was too drunk all the time to nurture me. In fact, I had to take care of her…”

These are all valid points to be sure. For some, it happens later in life… you had the caring parents, but your best friend betrayed you or your spouse is irresponsible with the budget and has racked up a lot of debt with a gambling or shopping addiction, or your wife had an affair…

how can you trust again after these kinds of major betrayals? Stay tuned for my next blog next Friday, as I tackle broken trust more in depth. For today, we will start out with an introduction on what trust is, and how to develop the courage to trust. For further help in the meantime on how to identify what characteristics safe and trustworthy people have, go back and check out my article from several months back on safe people, entitled “Identifying safe people.” or you can also check out my blog on “learning how to attach and bond”. Both deal with how you can repair attachment injuries from early childhood and throughout life that prevent us from entering trusting relationships, as well as giving you some quick identifying tools on how to find safe people and the qualities to look for, when you are ready to take the careful risk of learning to put yourself out there again attempting to build safe and trustworthy relationships.

Trust, in a basic definition, is a skill that can be learned and it always involves choice, and risk. Trust is fragile and can be broken easily through someone not being completely honest, rejection, betrayals, intended to harm, as well as unintentionally.

Trusting requires wisdom and information on how to identify not only what is safe, but the awareness that no one is perfect, and will fail us in small, medium or big ways from time to time throughout the course of our lives. We really need to be aware of not only how much grace others require from us when they fail us, but we also need to see that we are imperfect beings as well, capable of hurting and disappointing others as well. What we need wisdom for is to know the difference between intentional, or major breaches of trust, vs. minor, or unintentional injuries we have incurred.fear vs. courage

Trusting takes great courage and risk, especially if you are still reeling from broken trust, and are still very much in the stage of considering how safe you really are. It takes courage to trust because when you take your guard down, expecting to be met by a compassionate, empathetic understanding of what you have chosen to share that is vulnerable for you, you face the risk of being at least, misunderstood, or at the most, rejected or insulted or yelled at… or even abusive speech or actions.

If your caregivers were able to give you a firm internal sense of safety, dealing with trust issues may not be as devastating as to those who have experienced the loss of love, betrayal or other forms of broken trust. Any traumatic event in your life makes it that much harder to have a sense of trust in others or even yourself. Many people who have experienced broken trust, tend to stop trusting themselves, believing that they are not credible sources of reliability when it comes to identifying who and what is safe. They perceive their ‘radar’ for detecting safety and trust is broken or malfunctioning. This is not necessarily a true fact. It is however, indicative that something has happened that was traumatic enough to disrupt your internal equilibrium, and is evidence that you may need further work on learning to trust yourself again, before you make attempts to trust others. As I mentioned before, information and wisdom are great tools to help you sort out the lies you are now believing about yourself, abilities or discernment as a result of trauma.

What I would suggest is taking some first steps to rebuilding your trust muscle.

First I would recommend to get honest with yourself about the feelings you have, where you feel they originated from, whether or not it is fair of you to place the same expectations of being betrayed onto other people who have not yet betrayed you, as well as considering the facts of the situation… Was it in fact a deliberate betrayal? Perhaps it was merely a momentary carelessness of someone while they are distracted, or self absorbed themselves, which is not a usual characteristic of this person. Was it unintentional? Asking these sorts of questions can help give you a greater sense of clarity of how major the affront was to you. Also, if you are brave enough, you may want to ask the person directly, alone, or bringing someone with you whom you feel safe with, so that you do not receive and dwell on perceived information rather than truth.

It may also help if you can muster up some faith in a positive outcome in the situation you are currently facing. Focusing on your future ability to enter into trusting relationships again, can also take away from the fear of dwelling on past fears of broken trust.

Prepare yourself to face your fears of rejection… and always weigh out what is more important to you in this moment… your need to feel safe, or your need to connect and attach, and determine the risk factors involved with each person you are considering trusting. Do not assume they are all like the person who broke your trust. Watch them from a distance over time to observe their character, and trust with small amounts of information  before you risk giving your all to another person, especially if you have only just  met. Watch your assumptions and judgments. These can lead to a lot of confusion and mixed messages. Always ask clarifying questions so that you are sure that you are not believing false information that you have perceived.

I commend you for reading this article on trust, as it indicates to me, that you are already starting the process of gathering information on how to trust again, which means you have come back to the awareness that no man is an island, and that we are all designed to trust, and in fact, NEED to trust, and have safe and supportive people in our lives. I encourage you to check out my other blogs which give further tips on how to communicate effectively and what the characteristics of healthy relationships look like, as well as the ones I mentioned above. I also invite you to check out my website at http://www.freedomlifelove.com and the link should also be at the top of my blog page as well! Good luck on your journey of trusting again, mustering up that courage and faith to believe that there are in fact trustworthy people out there, and even that those who have been untrustworthy in the past can in fact make changes in their lives and once again become someone with whom you can trust. I must warn you however, that this is not always the case… sometimes those relationships need to end, if there is no repentance or ability to admit their wrong against you and make no attempt of rebuilding trust with you. Trust is built, and earned after a breach of trust. It is never to be given without changes that you can observe in them to see that indeed, they have become trustworthy again. See my blog: Identifying Safe People for the characteristics you will need to see in the person who has broken your trust.

Good luck and please feel free to contact me via my website for any further coaching you may need on finding safe people and working through the trauma of broken trust!

http://www.freedomlifelove.com/Pages/TraumaRecoveryProgram.aspx

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 716 other followers

%d bloggers like this: