Category: Life Coaching



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.

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

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

 

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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!

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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…


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.
 
 

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


Dealing with emotional trauma can be very distressing, and in some instances, very severe. When one has experienced a major traumatic life event – from surviving an abusive relationship, to losing friends or family members to a drunk driver or a hit and run, suicide, to combat, or a terrible break-up, deception, manipulation or mind control, discovering that one’s partner has been unfaithful, or being conned and taken advantage of, hearing painful news of an illness that is debilitating or life-threatening – Anything that leaves a person feeling like the floor has been taken out from under them, and are experiencing a loss of personal power, like their whole world has just spiraled out of control… These people know what trauma is.

My intention is to do a series not so much on the trauma itself and identifying it, but rather to offer some self care tips, advice on grief and grieving, forgiveness, re-establishing safety after one has experienced a betrayal of trust, or how to face the places and things that you avoid that serve as triggers for anxiety and out of control feelings due to a traumatic life event – how to face those situations and re-build safety slowly. When it comes to relationship trauma, it is important to have tools to rebuild trust and I will touch on that as well.

Today I just want to give you a sense of normalcy if you are experiencing the residual effects of a traumatic situation. I personally find that sometimes it helps to know what to expect as you go through the stages of healing to help yourself feel like what you are experiencing is normal for the situation you are going through. I find it helps bring a small measure of stability to an otherwise overwhelming sense of powerlessness over the situation, and the loss of control that causes you to feel like your foundation has been ripped from underneath you. Having a roadmap of what to expect is sort of the first step to laying a new foundation.

It may sound kind of silly at first, but identifying the trauma is a good first step – now some of you may think it is quite obvious to pinpoint, the reality is, sometimes it’s not. For instance, part of experiencing something traumatic often involves some of the same stages of grief, so denial is a normal process, not wanting to, or being unable to accept what is happening is actually normal. Sometimes the shock of what the body, mind or emotions are experiencing that a person simply goes numb and cannot comprehend the reality of the situation immediately. I think this stage of being anesthetized from the initial blow is a little of God’s kindness to shield us from taking in too much all at once. Another good example of why identifying trauma can be difficult is working through your own childhood trauma. Children cannot identify trauma as readily as an adult can. But even as adults who endured trauma as a child, you may not see your childhood as traumatic. If you were constantly exposed to abuse, you may have taken in cues that this is ‘normal’ behavior because it is all you were exposed to. So, identifying what the trauma is, is actually a pretty significant feat for some!

Once you have identified your traumatic injury, or experience, it is important to talk about it with someone you can trust – a supportive friend, a therapist, a support group, because part of the healing process is being able to share our deepest feelings to give them a voice. Sometimes it is helpful just to talk as it allows yourself the opportunity to problem solve, bring awareness to the situation, bring understanding, bring the roots of the problem out into the light to help promote self-awareness or a sense of understanding. It helps you get in touch with the emotions surrounding the trauma.

Some people also find it helpful to write about it to help sort through their thoughts and emotions about the experience. Some people organize their thoughts better through writing than verbally. The most important thing is that you are processing it in order to feel it, rather than avoid. Avoidance is normal too, but studies suggest that avoidance can increase rather than decrease the stress and anxiety, fear and anger surrounding the situation, which can lead to further emotional injury down the road, or even lead to physical health problems.

Taking inventory of what happened and how it affected you is very important, but perhaps been more important than that is moving to the next stage of repair, involving FEELING the pain, sadness, anger, hurt etc that has come up as a result of the trauma. It is common to experience shock, anxiety and depression as well – also stages in the grief cycle. The feelings will take their time to pass, each person is different, but embracing them rather than repressing them will eventually lead to subside the intensity of the emotions. Note of caution: For those experiencing intense anger, this is not code for unleash all your fury, but rather to acknowledge it and try to determine what is beneath the anger, as anger is a powerful protective emotion usually covering over something far deeper -like sadness, pain or grief. If you have trouble knowing how to effectively deal with your anger in healthy ways, you should seek out an anger management group or see a counselor for additional help.

To move forward from the initial process of identifying and feeling the effects of trauma, the stage of acceptance inevitably comes. We must at some point accept what happened. This does not mean agreeing with what happened and somehow ‘making it ok’, rather it involves a willingness to live with the outcome, recognizing that what’s done is done and we cannot change the past, and choosing to go forward acknowledging what has happened. This is a HARD step. But it is essential to begin feeling better.

Forgiveness is almost always necessary for experiencing trauma of some kind. If you lost your son to war, you may need to forgive the man who killed your son, or the political regimes that brought on the war, or perhaps your own son for willingly joining the army.

If you were in a serious car accident that was not your fault and have to live with serious physical consequences as a result, you may need to forgive the person who hit your car.

If your child was abducted or kidnapped, raped or murdered, forgiveness may seem damn near impossible! Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. And forgiveness does not mean you have to have a relationship with the person who injured you or someone you love, but it does mean that at some point you let go of your hatred and anger and bitterness.

I have heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking a poison you want someone else to drink. Un-forgiveness does us more damage to us than the person who hurt us. They have already caused damage. We cause ourselves further damage by holding onto hatred and bitterness that just fills our souls and consumes us, sending us spiraling down a deep, dark hole of despair, self pity, anger, vengeance, etc. anything and everything that robs us of the opportunity to live life free, full of life and love and hope for the future. But forgiveness takes time. And that’s ok.

Sometimes it is important to confront the situation in order to deal with our anger or to release someone through forgiveness. Sometimes it is ok to address the person face to face or write a letter. At other times, especially when processing your more hostile feelings of anger, it may prove more beneficial to write a letter you don’t send, or deal with those feelings in therapy, until you can face the person without being volatile, being able to say what you need to say constructively. Some people may feel they never have to face the person directly, and walk through that process on their own or with a support group or counselor.

Letting go…. Is just as hard as acceptance, and forgiveness. But letting go of the burden and walking away and moving on are the final stages in the process of healing from trauma. They have identified the truth about the trauma and faced it head on, worked through it through talking, writing about it, finding healthy and effective ways of dealing with anger and confrontation, accepted what cannot be changed, forgiven those involved, and now they must find the courage to move on toward the next phase of life. They must learn to live in the present and let the past stay in the past.

Healing will be easier if you are able to look on the bright side. If you are able to accept the bad, but not only see the bad but look for the good as well. Most people or situations are not “all bad”. If you can find a way to merge the good and the bad, so as not to over-amplify the negative reality, you will begin to see things in a more balanced perspective. You can begin to see alternate ways of looking at the negative experience as well – not to minimize what was done, but to bring balance to your own perspective. If you cannot see anything good other than the trauma, begin to loom for what you have learned from the experience, what wisdom or coping skills you have developed to endure painful and trying times in your future.

Walking through these stages will help minimize your tendency to Medicare or turn to addictive substances to avoid or anesthetize your experience, and help you come out stronger!


My blog is coming out a day late as I was stranded in Jamaica for an extra two days because our flight home from vacation was grounded due to Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully, we were safe and far enough away from the direct impact of the hurricane, and were forced to enjoy two extra days of vacation! Lol! So we got home yesterday and the whole day was consumed by unpacking, grocery shopping, and cleaning, etc.

But I didn’t want to simply leave out the blog I was supposed to publish yesterday on taking initiative. It seems like an important issue to me, as many people out there wrestle with drive, determination, and taking initiative.

Some people seem naturally ‘gifted’ at having incredible drive and determination to make their life successful in all areas of life, while others seem to wrestle with the basic will to live. Most of you are somewhere in between. Those of you somewhere in the middle to low category of having personal or professional initiative may feel as though initiative itself is in fact a ‘gift’ that you don’t have. Let me quickly debunk that theory. While it may be true that initiative and determination may come to others seemingly more natural than it comes to you, it is not unattainable for you. There are those who believe common sense cannot be learned by someone who just doesn’t have it, the same is NOT true for initiative. It is a skill that can be crafted and developed and nurtured throughout the remainder of your life! It is NOT unattainable! It is within your reach!

If you are not naturally a ‘doer’ in life, you can learn the skills of motivation to determine a vision for yourself, life or business that is attainable and realistic, define your goals and communicate your objectives in a way that drives you to accomplish them.

What you may not know, is that drive, determination, willpower and learning to take initiative has a lot to do with learning your personal power. The more autonomy you have learned to develop in your life, and the more purpose you feel you have in life, the more you will master the skills at accomplishing your vision for your life. For more on autonomy, read my blog series on boundaries from several months back. Autonomy has to do with personal power. A sense of oneself and who he or she is apart from other’s and their opinions. I lay claim to the concept that the more a person was treated as someone who could not achieve or was taught to be an underachiever, or was taught that they weren’t pod enough or smart enough in their formative years, will wrestle with self worth and initiative, in part, due to a lack of autonomy that was modeled for them. The good news is… It’s never too late! Learning how to develop a good sense of self worth, and how to develop healthy boundaries will set you up for learning how to feel good enough about yourself and responsible enough for yourself to equip you to develop the skills of assertiveness and initiative – the drive to dream, and reach for the goals you set for yourself! It IS attainable!

Are you aware that accepting and taking responsibility for your actions is not only part of the process of learning how to take initiative, but is part of developing self esteem, and having proper boundaries in your life? Once we know what we are responsible for in life, it empowers us to take responsibility for our life which becomes the driving force to develop true initiative. The better we think, believe and behave in the ways which empower us to achieve our goals, the more self confident we become, we are that much closer to achieving our goals, personal or professional, one action step at a time.

Aristotle once said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Habits are another key then to learning how to take initiative. Eg. If we repeatedly are lazy, we will continue to be lazy because it has become a habit. Habits can either make us or break us. We can develop good habits or bad habits. All stem from our own personal power of choice. Many of us think of habits as ‘bad’ and can list a number of the habits they have that they don’t like about themselves quite readily… But there are good habits too. You can decide to eat a healthy diet as easily as you choose to eat an unhealthy diet. You can choose to exercise regularly. It is within your personal power to choose. If you feel you are powerless over a situation, you may have an addiction. But even addictions can be broken by the power of habit. All habits (good or bad) are formed in our brains involving cue, routine and reward. We can change our bad habits over time by repeatedly doing something different until that becomes a new habit. We can replace bad habits with healthy, positive ones, giving us the power to take control over the ‘out of control’ areas of our lives.

Changing our habits is another way to take initiative. It helps us determine who or what we want to be – fit, healthy, successful, whatever the goal is, knowing is half the battle. Knowing you have power over your decisions and can take action to reach your goals and dreams, empowers you to take the first steps toward lasting change.

If you struggle with low self worth or feel you need additional help in developing more personal motivation or initiative in your life, you might want to consider my boundaries or personal development coaching program offered at http://www.freedomlifelove.com

Remember: You have the power to choose the life you want. Go out and get it! Most of our blockages are stubborn belief systems in our minds that cause us to believe we can’t, or we are not good enough, talented enough or smart enough. When we change the internal negative messages into positive ones that invoke hope and strength and willpower, we equip ourselves with the strength to break old unhelpful habits and take responsibility for our lives by loving and nurturing and caring for ourselves enough to break out of routines that keep us back from reaching our goals, we have just started the process of taking initiative, and are closer to getting the results we want. Remember to keep your goals realistic and attainable so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with your very first goal, concluding that it doesn’t work. What is an attainable goal for you right now? What action steps can you take right now toward reaching that goal?

Good luck on your journey to getting the results you want. Where there is no vision, people perish. Find your vision. It’s a good place to start!


This month, I have been doing a series on taking initiative and developing assertiveness, and I was thinking it might be a great start to today’s article, if I simply start out with some definitions of initiative and assertiveness, so we have a proper working knowledge of what I will be referring to in today’s blog!

First of all, initiative involves taking an introductory act or step, a leading action; for example: he took the initiative in making friends. Initiative also involves a readiness and ability in initiating action. It is one’s personal, responsible decision: to act on own’s own initiative.

Perhaps you feel you have little or no initiative or you have been told this by people in your life. Does reading the above simple definition change your thinking on that definition, even if only slightly? Perhaps you are told you are not assertive enough and wonder if either taking initiative or developing assertiveness skills are ever possible for you. Let me first shine the light of truth on that negative distorted belief. EVERYONE can develop the skill of assertiveness and learn to take more initiative in their life. It involves work, and one small baby step forward after another, if that is all you feel you can muster the strength for, but it can be done. Before I get WAY ahead of myself, let me give you a definition of assertiveness:

Assertiveness is a style of communication. It is about being confident and self assured, positive. Assertiveness is NOT a strategy to get your own way, instead it recognizes that you are only in control of your own behavior and actions and realizes that other people are responsible for their behavior. It respects the wishes of others as equally as you respect your own.

Assertiveness is one of many styles in which we communicate with each other. Some others include reacting and responding to other people in an aggressive manner, or a passive style that tends to give in to the unreasonable demands of others. We all have heard of the passive-aggressive style, which is a combination of both passive and aggressive behavior which can include manipulation, or cannot clearly express their anger, but take it out on others in more subtle ways, like being late for work always because you are angry at your co-worker or boss, or addressing your displeasure with a result by speaking to the person you are angry with in the third person format, for example: “some people NEVER take out the trash and clean up after themselves” with a slightly aggressive tone, when they are obviously referring to you as you see the dishes you left in the sink, and know you hadn’t gotten around to taking the garbage out. This is a form of veiled communication. Often, if we are raised with one passive parent and one aggressive parent, we may use a combination of both skill sets we were taught by our families. Another style of communicating, apart from assertiveness, is the alternator…. Someone who sometimes is passive, holding things in, until one day all the bitterness and resentments burst to the surface like a volcanic eruption with a burst of aggression. Once the person has spewed out their building tension inside, they may return to a passive state of taking resentments in until the next eruption occurs.

The reality is we all have probably used one or more, if not all of these methods of communication at varying times in our lives! I know I have!

When it comes to communication, and developing effective skills to communicate well, as with all things it takes time and effort to make the changes in ourselves to do so! And the issues lying beneath the surface are the best place to start. What we believe often dictates how we respond in a situation. If we believe no one likes us, we will begin to act like no one likes us. If we believe we have to take responsibility for other people’s actions, behavior, moods or emotions, guess what? We will take responsibility for those things, despite the fact that we are only responsible for our own choices, actions, behavior, moods and emotions.

If you believe you are a loser, a failure, ugly, stupid, fat etc. you will act in such a way as to diminish your human dignity and incredible value as you continue to tell yourself what a horrible person you must be. I do not have enough time to dig into the root issues that lead to a diminished sense of a lack of confidence in oneself in this blog, or why your initiative may be low as well as your assertiveness skills perhaps under-developed, but I do offer a personal development program on my coaching website at http://www.freedomlifelove.com if you are looking for additional help in this area of your life. You may even want to look back through last months blog series where I discussed self worth and self esteem.

But my focus for today is to define initiative and assertiveness and our communication styles to open our eyes to see where we currently find ourselves in this area of our lives. And I want to give you some hope along with some practical help to develop some assertiveness skills today!

Let’s start here. This is what it means to be assertive:

“Assertive self-expression is direct, firm, positive – and when necessary persistent – action intended to promote equality in person-to-person relationships. Assertiveness enables us to act in our own best interests, to stand up for ourselves without undue anxiety, to exercise personal rights without denying the rights of others, and to express our feelings honestly and comfortably (eg. affection, love, friendship, disappointment, annoyance, anger, regret, sorrow)” – Your Perfect Right by Robert Albert, Ph.D and Michael Emmons, Ph.D.

Joseph Wolfe would define assertiveness in our interpersonal relationships as

“The individual places himself first, but takes others into account.”

While I don’t entirely agree with his perspective, as I take the viewpoint of considering others above myself in a respectful manner, in the form of honoring and preferring others, I do believe that to love others we must first be able to love ourselves. The bible suggests that we:

“Love others as you would love yourself”

I believe we must treat others as we would want to be treated, thereby having a balanced perspective on equality. We do not see others as less or more important than ourselves, but rather cherish our own humanity and others. To see ourselves in a positive light with grace for our weaknesses and compassion and love for ourselves as we see others in that same positive light, showing compassion and love for their mistakes, treating each other fairly, respectfully, and with loving kindness. When we can see other people like this, as well as ourselves, we are on the verge of discovering unconditional love.

On becoming more assertive, there are certainly things that we can do to get there. Setting reasonable goals for ourselves is a good place to start about the things we want to improve, work on, confront or address. It can involve learning effective communication skills. In fact I think I did a blog series on that a while back! It involves learning how to “say what you need to say” as I unintentionally quote lyrics from John Meyer’s song, while learning how to say it effectively in an assertive, yet respectful manner. It involves learning to change what we are choosing to think, to become more aware of our thoughts, and challenging the negative ones, and speaking positive confessions about ourselves, learning to love and care for, rather than sabotaging ourselves! Just simply choosing to believe it is a skill you can learn can make a world of difference. It is a big step in the turn-around! If we believe it is attainable, we have already begun taking initiative to develop assertiveness skills!

Last but not least, take it one step at a time! Find what you feel you are able to start with, even if it feels like a small step to others or yourself, and see what comes of it! Don’t despair! Don’t give up! You can make changes! You are not helpless! I believe you can! One small step at a time!

Taking Initiative


The dictionary defines taking initiative as “to do something; to activate oneself to do something even if one has not been asked to do it.

In the workplace, these following criteria mark a person having high initiative:

-Begin new tasks before you are told
-Look for work to fill spare time
-Making oneself available for extra work or overtime
-Keeping communication with superiors open
-making suggestions
-Trying to correct problems or mistakes
-working without supervision
-Taking on extra tasks
-volunteer for committee work
-demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning.

Some common causes of a lack of initiative and motivation include:

-Lack of faith or confidence in your abilities
-Low self esteem
-Lack of enough interest in what you are directing your attention toward
– fear of what others might say
-procrastination habits
-time constraints
-being too stressed or anxious
-absence of stimulus or incentives

My first piece of advice is, if this is you, try to determine WHAT you are passionate about. Where there is no vision, the people perish! We don’t pursue what we are not passionate about… At least not long term. If we are doing something we have no zeal for, we will eventually be depleted in our energy resources to complete the task at hand. We may even begin to suffer the signs of burnout from putting all our energy into something that depletes not only our energy, but possibly our self-esteem.

I believe in takes motivation to take initiative. I also believe that assertiveness is linked to taking initiative as well. So my second question to you is this: “What motivates you?” and “what are you motivated to do?”‘

So let’s take a look at the fear factor that causes us to second guess our actions and keeps us from taking initiative.

Some of us are wrestling with being people pleasers, obsessed with fear of confrontation, of being reprimanded, or rejected in areas they risk taking the initiative in some area of their life.

Often people with low self worth feel it harder to take initiative than those who grew up very self sufficient & independent . These people have their own set issues as a result too, as we all learn by our environment and it’s surroundings, and by the people we do life with.

I propose a plan of action that just might help! It’s called ‘assertiveness’.

“Assertiveness is not a strategy for getting your own way. Instead it recognizes that you are in charge of your behaviour and that YOU decide what you will or will not do…it recognizes that other people are in charge of their own behaviour and does not attempt to take that control from them. When we behave assertively, we are able to acknowledge our thoughts and wishes honestly, withiut the expectation that others will give to us. We express respect for the feelings and opinions of other’s without necessarily adopting’ their opinions or doing what they expect or demand.”

This does not mean we become inconsiderate of the wishes of other’s either of course.

What we need come away with, thinking about, is: what is at the ore? What is the root reason why I wrestle with taking initiative? Is it lack of self worth? A developmental boundary injury, fear of confrontation, self hatred or self punishment? What keeps us from stepping up to the plate? Is it a learned behaviour or a medical diagnosis of depression, or anemia or low adrenals or insomnia that keep us tired all the time that affects our motivation level? Could it be we are putting our energy into something that is depleting us, rather than something that brings us joy? Who do you surround yourself with? Who are your friends and co-workers? What is the environment like around these people? Are they positive or negative influences? Are you being sucked into people pleasing? What rings most true for you?

Let’s leave it there for this week and we will pick it up next Friday when we talk more about motivation. For now, my challenge to you is this: try and determine where you lack initiative e and why?

Cheers!

Katie Meilleur
http://www.freedomlifelove.com


I realize as I embark on today’s mission of blogging about things like body image, and appreciating our positive qualities and learning to like ourselves, that this subject alone should be a three part series! I am attempting to do the impossible in one blog! I will do my best to summarize without losing a great deal of content!

While in general, for a person who wrestles with their body image when they look in the mirror, it may be easy to see all the flaws, wrinkles, bulges, grey hair, and within seconds of asking the question of what you like least about your body, you could easily rattle off about 50 things you hate about the way you look.

Let’s begin with a simple exercise in non-judgment. Instead of looking at ourselves in comparison with what society and media says the average man or woman should look like, let us rather appreciate the beauty in others and in ourselves, and try not to make comparisons or judgments. It’s an effort in changing the way we think about ourselves, as well as what is important.

The reality is, outward beauty will always fade away eventually, and if this is what we live for, we are missing a deeper, more authentic and internal beauty of strength and character. I am not saying “Don’t be fit”, “Eat junk food all day long” and just let yourself go. By no means! I am suggesting that we care for our bodies, spirit, soul and body. We all know eating healthy, and staying fit is good for our bodies in a multitude of ways… Exercising regularly and eating well not only help mental acuity and promote healthy a heart, and make our brains happier, but it also does so much for helping with emotional issues such as depression and anxiety! I believe we need to learn to care about our whole self, simply because we are worth it.

Our worth is intrinsic and God given. What we need to determine is WHY we do what we do. If we are at the gym 5 days a week out of pressure to look good according to society, bearing ourselves up for not losing enough weight, or eating too much at the last family holiday dinner, these motives can actually be harmful to us, and do not promote healthy self care. If, however, we are learning to have compassion for ourselves and learning to like who we are, and are doing these things to be healthy and to care for ourselves, not only will your success and results come sooner, but you will also notice you are beginning to feel much better about yourself as a person. What you see in the mirror will be someone you care for and treat with respect and honor and love.

So how do we get there? Paying attention to the negative messages we are telling ourselves and believing is a good start. Noticing them enough to reframe the message to something positive or to simply say ‘stop’ to ourselves when we begin to judge ourselves harshly, and practice non-judgment of ourselves is a good start.

I’m going to propose a few steps further.

First, I’m going to ask you to write a list of ten positive things about yourself that are true and realistic. For instance, you might recognize that you are a loyal friend, or that you are very organized, a good listener, or compassionate and empathetic. You might like the fact that you take charge of a situation when it is needed, or are an advocate for those who need one. You might believe that you are responsible or successful. Make a list of these qualities. They can be internal character traits or external, such as you might like your eyes even though you aren’t happy with your current weight. You might like that tattoo you have that expresses who you are or that you are talented and athletic.

Are you, or have you been recently,

Kind to anyone?
Clean?
Helpful or handy?
Humorous in a way that helped another person?
Trustworthy or loyal?
Gentle?
Determined?
Strong or resilient?
Do you see the best in others?
Are you patient?
Disciplined?
Imaginative or creative?
Persuasive?
Intelligent?
Co-operative?
Open-minded?
Accepting?
Expressive?
Energetic?
Affectionate?
A leader?
A good story teller?
Adventurous?
A thinker?

You should have a pretty good list by now to get the juices flowing! Are you already starting to feel less negative about yourself if you find yourself identifying with anything on the above list?

Once you have your list, try repeating it to yourself daily for a while. It helps to re-wire your mind and train your Brian how to think using new neural pathways that are more positive toward yourself. If you have just done this exercise, you have just been kind to yourself and loving! Way to go!

If you struggle with negative physical body image, focus on six areas of yourself physically that you DO like, and repeat that to yourself daily! Often we see ourselves externally in a way that we allow to affect how we view our core worth. Our core worth does not come from anything external. We simply have worth. But for the purpose of this exercise, to help you get to that understanding, look at yourself in the mirror several times a day and look for things that are ‘right’ about your body and physical appearance and find what you feel is attractive about yourself. This too, is caring about yourself, despite what others think, say or do, increasing your own sense of intrinsic worth which is not dependent on such externals like other’s opinions or popular media ideals.

Next, let’s take a look at the deeper part of the self. Your character. Your moral values and strengths you possess in these areas. As they say, beauty is only skin deep. If all you have is the outward looks, but are empty inside, you will become a shell of a person. The charisma of a person comes from what is on the inside and flows outward. Let’s look at the inward beauty you possess, which miraculously, automatically makes you more beautiful outwardly!

Which qualities from the list below do you identify with and feel are attributes you possess? Mental note, do not look at this list from a place of judgment of yourself for each quality you don’t identify with. Without counting a score, or getting down on yourself for what you don’t relate with, simply take a few moments to enjoy the qualities YOU possess! We are all unique and have our own gifts, skills and talents. None of us were meant to all possess all qualities. Variety is the spice of life!

Do you feel like you have:

Integrity?
Love?
Empathy?
Knowledge?
Affection?
Compassion?
Patience?
Respect for others? Yourself?
Willing to admit your faults?
Honesty?
Helpfulness?
Thoughtfulness?
Supportive?
Tolerance or appreciation for diversity?
Trustworthy?
Forgiveness?
Hope?
Selflessness?
Friendliness?
Courtesy?
Appreciation?
Gentleness?

Your challenge today is to combat your negative self judgments with anything positive from the lists above that you identified with, and repeat them to yourself and remind yourself to have compassion toward yourself and self care by being loving toward yourself!

Good luck!

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