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Great guest blog on human trafficking. check out the link below:

http://sharedhope.org/2012/03/14/660/

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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!


I was supposed to blog on Wednesday, but ended up being way to busy to get to my blog 😦

So today, before i write today’s blog on taking the initiative – developing assertiveness, I am simply updating you that I will not be blogging next Wednesday or Friday, as my husband and I will be away on a MUCH needed vacation! The goal is simply to take a break from all the busyness of life and just simply avoid technology and work as much as possible! I firmly believe that our bodies need rest to recover from the busyness of today’s lifestyles!

I know what prolonged periods of stress can do on our bodies, to wear us out from over-exerting ourselves, trying to do more than is humanly possible on any given day! I believe in balance. A healthy balance of healthy living. I admit, when I’m on the go too much, I cave under time constraints and end up eating a lot less healthy than my body requires! This only contributes to the problem more! My goal is to get back in balance with getting enough rest, finding time for the gym, and eating healthier, taking breaks, enjoying my life, spending time with friends and family, and develop a healthy work life balance! This is one of the things I hope getting away on vacation will help me with… To reorient myself and get back into a healthy groove! (Not to mention the amazing Holiday we have planned!!!)

So our vacation plan is to head south to Montego Bay Jamaica!!! My hubby and I leave next Wednesday and will be back the following Wednesday! Sooo looking forward to this!!

This means that I will not be blogging while I am away.

But I hope to blog about my vacation once I’m back and fill you in on our trips & post some pics for you!

Stay tuned! My next blog, today’s blog on assertiveness, is coming shortly!

Have a great weekend!

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!

Choosing to Love your Body


Women’s News: Can You Choose to Love Your Body? Margaret Cho Did.

September 20, 2012 By 3 Comments

Michelle Konstantinovsky

Freelance Writer

In my few talks with comedian Margaret Cho, she’s said things that have resonated so deeply, I hang up the phone feeling ridiculously inspired.

During our chat last week for an article on eating disorders, she eloquently expressed something I’d been feeling but hadn’t been brave enough to articulate. “I think now I’m at the point where I’m just sick of feeling negative and feeling this way about my body,” she said. “So I’ve just shifted my thinking to, ‘this becomes boring to always want to be thin.’”

I’d been feeling pretty bored with habitual body bashing myself, but I didn’t see a way out of it. Wasn’t self-deprecation just one of those unavoidable pitfalls of being a female human, like cramps or mascara-induced eye injuries?

“I was just immediately programmed to think the way my mother did and her family did. Now I have a choice,” Margaret continued. “I have a total choice now whether I want to buy into something that never worked for them and never worked for me or just forget it and move on to other things.”

And with that simple statement, Margaret Cho went a long way toward deprogramming my automatic tendency toward self-deprecation. She showed me that the anti-me autopilot switch could be flipped.

I was an absurdly overconfident child. That is, according to my mom’s recollection and to faded photos of a self-assured, sequin-sporting child of the early nineties. I’m well aware of the age-inappropriate Madonna lip synching routines I insistently performed for party guests. And I don’t remember modesty ever being an issue while unabashedly bragging to strangers about my straight-A-laden report cards. But my mom’s absolute favorite mortifying memory is of a chubby-cheeked, unfortunately self-styled four-year-old arrogantly admiring her reflection and definitively declaring to the mirror, “I’m so cute!”

While the dignified adult I pretend to be wishes she’d have kept that revelation under wraps, I can’t help but call upon that pre-adolescent version of myself to ask a couple of really pressing questions: When do we turn against ourselves? And when we do learn to engage in chronic, negative self-talk, are those really our voices we’re using to spew hateful, critical words? Or are someone else’s messages overpowering what we actually think, see, and believe?

Like most adolescents, I immediately buried any discernable shred of self-assurance deep beneath an armor of teen angst and awkwardness. Seemingly overnight I morphed from a cocky kid on the playground to a sullen, self-loathing pubescent nightmare.

But surrendering to what I believe to be a tragic trend in female self-esteem, I carried those adolescent anxieties about appearance and achievement into adulthood. It was completely natural to criticize every perceived flaw and automatically negate any incoming compliments. Every day was an exercise in ruthless comparison to friends and strangers, and every night a reflection on how and why I’d never measure up.

And then suddenly, that smug four-year-old refused to stay silent. I started to catch myself questioning every self-sabotaging thought. All those mechanical reactions toward my reflection of disgust and disdain suddenly seemed exhausting and, well, boring. Most importantly, those formerly instinctual, involuntary responses didn’t feel authentic or accurate. I realized it wasn’t my voice or my judgment at play in those moments of cruel criticism. I’d just become so accustomed to engaging in self-flagellation, it never occurred to me to question whether I believed I deserved it.

HuffPost Women shared a picture on Facebook the other day of a great t-shirt that reads, “YOUR BODY IS NOT WRONG / SOCIETY IS.” Sure, it’s a sweeping generalization about “society,” but it’s a novel idea, isn’t it? Imagine if we all got fed up, took a note from women like Margaret, and realized once and for all that we have a choice about how to feel in our bodies. I think I might choose to stop being bored and start feeling okay.

Read More: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-konstantinovsky/love-your-body-image-margaret-cho_b_1892274.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women

 
 
 
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On Mondays, I now plan on hosting guest blogs here on my website! I will host two today that have been submitted to me. One is on Domestic Violence submitted to me via http://myblogguest.com on the subject of domestic violence. The other is by a fellow blogger on choosing to love your body. I think they are both great posts and look forward to hosting them on my blog today, and am looking for others who are interested in both being a guest blogger on my site, as well as those interested in hosting my blogs on their site! Please feel free to contact me at Katie@freedomlifelove if you interested in either of the above!

If you would like to have your blog posted here, please submit your query article to the above mentioned email address, or join http://myblogguest.com and submit a request there. If you know of other sites that offer blog guest sharing, please leave comments here so I can get involved! I am looking for blogs related to human interest, human trafficking, or modern day slavery of any kind, as my business supports the A-21 Campaign for helping free young girls and boys from the sex trafficking industry. I am also looking for any coaching related articles on self esteem, relationships, self compassion, health and exercise, as well as specifically women’s health and fitness. I am also looking for any psychological or spiritual well being pieces as well to consider! I will also help advance pieces of writing from authors or authors to be who are trying to promote your work.

Feel free to check out my blog for what I am about, and usually blog about, and don’t hesitate to contact me re: host blogging your article even if you aren’t sure if your blog post fits the criteria I am looking for! If I find it fascinating or interesting, I will post it!! Please contact me with your suggestions!

As I mentioned earlier I am also interested in sharing some of my blogs as a guest blogger on your site, if you would be willing to host some of my blogs! Please contact me if you are interested in an exchange!

Stay tuned! I will post the above mentioned articles shortly!


Each one of us has within us weak parts of our character, defined by psychologists as an Achilles heel based on the Greek myth of Achilles and his mother Thetis. According to legend, when he was born, his mother, in an effort to make him immortal, took Achilles to the Styx river and dropped him. She held him by one heel. The area she held him on his heel remained dry and was not touched by the water in the river. It was the one vulnerable place on Achilles. Years later, Achilles was the hero of many great battles during the Trojan War. Legend suggests Paris, Prince of Troy, shot an arrow in his heal in the spot untouched by the waters to make him immortal. Since that spot remained untouched by the waters of immortality, the arrow struck him there and he died.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In modern day psychology, they loosely take this concept to define that there is usually at least one dominant negative attitude or defensive and possibly destructive pattern of thinking, feeling or acting. We all have at least one lifelong chief character flaw or personality defect.

Now how, you may ask, is this going to help me with my sense of worth? Bear with me, as I unpack this a little further and we learn together how to appreciate our strengths, but also to have compassion for our weaknesses.

According to psychologists, our chief feature (dominant negative attitude) is our primary ego defense as well as our main stumbling block in life.

The seven chief features they suggest are:

Self-Depreciation
(belittling/diminishing/undervaluing oneself)

Self-Destructiom
(sabotaging/punishing/harming oneself)

Martyrdom
(reacting as if persecuted/victimized/oppressed)

Stubbornness
(resisting change in one’s life)

Greed
(selfish over-indulgence, over consumption)

Arrogance
(inflating/exalting/overvaluing oneself)

Impatience
(reacting as though being sabotaged/obstructed)

I bring this up for a very important reason. Those of us who identify with one or more (or maybe all, and that’s ok… Have compassion for yourself! 🙂 from the above list , will understand why this has much to do with your feelings about yourself.

For those of us who wrestle with self-depravation will identify with feelings of inadequacy, or perhaps you identify with the feeling of loss of control that accompanies self-destructive tendencies. The Martyrs among us may feel worthless about themselves. Stubbornness may cause the fear of change or new situations. Psychologists associate greed with fearing lack or not having enough. Those who wrestle with arrogance fear their vulnerability, and the impatient may fear missed or lost opportunities.

We can all relate to feeling either unlovable, worthless, rejected, and a host of other core issues that seem to plague us for a lifetime without the appropriate tools to overcome the self-defeating beliefs we cling to.

Today I simply want to remind you that your core worth does NOT diminish because of any of your weaknesses. Nor does it increase because of your personal strengths or external accomplishments. You may ‘feel better’ about yourself for a time when you succeed, but if your worth comes from something extrinsic (an outside source – such as performance, or people’s approval), your level of a perceived sense of worth will rise and fall like the tides in the sea. In out, up, down, swayed by a negative comment about your weight or performance at work, or a personal expectation you set for yourself that you failed to meet.

But IF your worth is intrinsic, your motivation is not determined by external factors, but rather it occurs because we ate driven to do something because we want to learn, change, grow or be healthy, or just because it’s fun and interesting to us, or because, most importantly, we recognize that our worth is innate and God – given, we will not do the things we do for fear of punishment or to gain a reward or approval. Rather, our motivation will come from loving ourselves compassionately and loving others.

If we care about ourselves in a healthy way and not excessive self-love (arrogance/pride/narcissism) we will do what we need to do to learn, grow and change unhealthy patterns of behavior or unhealthy eating patterns.

Self compassion for our weaknesses involves caring about ourselves in a deep way in order to heal these dysfunctions, rather than allow them to perpetuate as we sabotage ourselves by keeping the unhealthy habits around. Change is hard, it takes work and it takes time! Have a little patience for yourself!

“Self acceptance does not breed complacence. On the contrary, kindness, respect, encouragement, support, firm but caring discipline… These are the soil and climate for development.” – Author Unknown

Keep in mind, “Self criticism asks ‘am I good enough? Self compassion asks ‘what’s good for me?'”

Try asking yourself the following if you wrestle with any of the above – ESPECIALLY WHEN you are wrestling with judgment or self criticism or self sabotaging thoughts… Or even if you’ve just been pushing yourself too hard and know your body needs a break:

“what would be the most healthy and most self-compassionate thing for me to do right now?”

Try to listen to your body, and to your heart, to it’s core needs, and find ways to nurture your inner self, not your self sabotaging needs like eating the WHOLE chocolate cake!!!

In closing today, I will leave you with some core thoughts of self esteem that you can try telling yourself as well! And remember to monitor your judgments -of other’s AND yourself and replace those judgments with these types of thoughts:

1. I think well of myself. This is a good thing.
2. I accept myself because I am more than my mistakes, or any externals.
3. I can criticize my own behavior without questioning my worth as a human being.
4. The work I do is worthwhile and good quality, and I expect I will do many worthwhile things in the future.
5. I am aware of my strengths and I respect them.
6. I am aware of my weaknesses and show myself compassion for them. I trust I can change & improve.
7. I consider myself a worthwhile person.
8. I like myself without comparison to others.
9. I feel stable and secure inside because I regard that I have intrinsic core worth.
10. I expect others to like and respect me. If they don’t, that’s ok. My worth does not come from other people.

One more time… Just so it starts to stick: your worth does not come from anything external. It is intrinsic and God given and does not depend on anything external, it is unconditional, just as the love of God is unconditional.

You are worth it!

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. Fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect by love.” I John 4:18

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