What does self-love have to do with it?

Everything.

I recently made a painful and difficult decision in my life because I chose to love myself enough and to want more for myself. 

It can be easy to think that when we love ourselves, making a decision out of love is also easy. 

I want to offer that making decisions out of love for ourselves can sometimes be extremely difficult and painful. But we’re willing to make the decision because we know the current situation we’re in is not serving us or moving us forward in an aligned way. 

We might be stuck and suffering, and even though we are, it can still feel scary to make a decision to change. But we are not being loving to ourselves by choosing to stay stuck or in suffering.

We have to love ourselves enough to become aware of the cost of the situation we’re in. What is the cost to our well-being? What other options are we not considering? How much time and energy is this situation extracting from us? What else could we be creating in our lives with this time and energy if we redirected it? 

And how do we get to that place of love for ourselves where we feel strong enough to make a difficult decision? 

In small ways each day, we can become familiar with what it feels like to love ourselves even more. 

When we practice in small ways each day to care for ourselves, support ourselves, and be kind to ourselves, our lives can change. 

“When you’re at peace with yourself and love yourself, it is virtually impossible to do things to yourself that are destructive.” ― Wayne Dyer

When we love ourselves more we:

  • Make different and more affirming decisions in our life
  • Take better care of ourselves
  • Set healthy boundaries
  • Believe in what’s possible for us
  • Move from past-based beliefs into future-based beliefs
  • Know that we’re worth it and worthy
  • Commit to ourselves and what we say we’ll do
  • Advocate for ourselves
  • Trust ourselves more
  • Are more patient with ourselves and our results/outcomes/goals
  • Move into alignment with our decisions/choices

“Self-love does not come from writing a book, or from making a million dollars, or from buying a new house. Self-esteem comes from the little loving choices we make every day—the choices we make that tell us, ‘You are important. You are a good person. You deserve to take care of yourself. You matter.’” – Debbie Ford, The Right Questions

Your turn: In what small, daily ways do you want to practice caring for yourself? In what small, daily ways do you want to practice supporting yourself? In what small, daily ways do you want to practice being kind to yourself? What does it feel like to become familiar with loving yourself even more? 

Want help finding small, daily ways to express care, support, and kindness to yourself? Let’s explore.

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Transforming your relationship manuals

Your power is with you. Part 2.

Last week we looked at the manuals we have for others and why we have them. 

We create manuals, or sets of instructions, for the people in our life about how they’re supposed to behave, so we can feel good. 

We then base how we feel about others on whether they follow our manuals or not. We also make it mean they care or don’t care about us based on our manuals for them.

When we place the responsibility of feeling good on other people, we give all our power away to those people. 

In reality, each of us is responsible for meeting our own needs. When we’re in a relationship where we feel responsible for fulfilling someone else’s needs and they feel responsible for fulfilling ours, there’s constant manipulation and effort to control one another so that in the end, nobody wins. 

We can’t control another person, and there’s nothing they could possibly do that would make us as happy as we want to be. All of the power to feel happy lies within us.

So transforming our relationship manuals is about deciding who we want to be and taking all of our power back so that we can show up in the way that we like and feel good about ourselves. Then we get to decide how we want to be or act from that place, in any circumstance.

This doesn’t mean that we stay in relationships that are harmful or not serving us well. We need to do what’s necessary to protect ourselves. Although boundaries and requests are appropriate, trying to control and manipulate other people never works. Instead, it can make us feel and even act like a crazy person.

Of course, we can make all the requests we want from other people, but when we allow our

emotional happiness to depend on whether those requests are met, we’re setting ourselves up for trouble. This looks like trying to manipulate people to behave in the way we want so we can feel better.

This creates a spiral of negativity, and this can happen when we are attached to our manuals for others.

Instead, we can become familiar with and practice the following:

  1. Allow ourselves to feel all of it. This means being willing to feel all the emotions, like the emotions we’re trying to avoid by wanting someone to behave in a specific way.
  2. Decide who we want to be. When we’re trying to control someone else, we’re usually not being versions of ourselves that we’re proud of.
  3. Decide what we want the other person’s actions to mean. We don’t have to take it personally.

Here’s an example if I have the manual instruction: “My friend should always remember my birthday.” 

If my friend forgets my birthday, I can allow myself to feel sad and disappointed about that. I have the manual instruction because I want to avoid feeling sad and disappointed, since those are uncomfortable feelings, but I allow myself to feel those feelings anyway. 

Then I can decide who I want to be in the relationship. I can decide that I want to be an understanding friend and give my friend grace, even if they forgot my birthday. I can still want to be friends with them. 

Then I can decide what I want my friend’s action to mean. I can decide to not take it personally and not make it mean anything about me. My friend’s action is about them. Maybe their life is very full and they didn’t do it on purpose; they are still a good friend even if they forgot my birthday.

We get to decide what we’re going to do with our time, how we’re going to respond, and when we want to make changes in our life. We’ll want to make sure we’re thinking about those changes and what we want based on what we do have control over. Our power stays with us.

Your turn: Do you recognize why you have manual instructions for other people? What feelings are you trying to avoid feeling by having these manual instructions? What would happen if you allowed yourself to be open to feeling all the emotions? How might your relationships be different if you stopped trying to get someone to behave in a specific way so that you can feel good?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Your “manuals” for other people

Yes, you have them. Part 1.

When we have assumptions or expectations about what people are supposed to do, we have “manuals” for them. 

We want people to behave in ways that make us feel good and happy. We usually don’t tell the other people what’s in our manual for them. And we usually don’t even realize we have these manuals or see how they’re causing us pain. 

We think that the other people should just “know” what to do and how to treat us. It can seem justified to have expectations of other people, but it can be damaging to us when our emotional happiness is directly tied to them behaving a certain way.

Many of us have manuals that come from the belief that we would be happier if someone in our lives would change. This is a huge cause of suffering because we’re handing over the power of how we feel to someone else.

Other people’s behavior has no impact on us emotionally until we think about it, interpret it, and choose to make it mean something. No matter what people do, how they act, or what they say, we don’t have to give others the power to determine how we feel.

Some common manual instructions might look like this: 

• He should text me back within an hour after I text him.

• She should listen to me for as long as I listened to her.

• He should spend less time at work.

• She should remember my birthday.

• He should know what I like.

• She should invite me when she has a party.

• He shouldn’t watch so much football.

• She should write me a thank you note.

• He should buy me something special on my birthday.

• She should support me.

• He should be emotionally available.

• She should ask me to be a bridesmaid, godmother, etc.

• He should tell me he loves me.

If there’s a “should” in there, it’s likely a manual instruction. These are simple and brief examples, but most manuals are pages and pages long. They’re complicated, detailed, and intricate. 

Rather than sharing these expectations with the person they’re about, those of us with manuals generally think the other person should just inherently know. We then want to make it mean that we are really loved by this person. And if they don’t do what’s in our manuals, then what do we feel?

Does it make sense why manuals can create pain for us? So what are we supposed to do instead? More on this next week.

Your turn: If you’re open to the idea that you have manuals for other people, what are the instructions you have for them? Would you be open to sharing the instructions as requests for the other person? If not, are you willing to see how these instructions might be causing you pain? Can you become aware of when you’re experiencing manual instructions for both yourself and for others?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Telling the truth by saying “no”

So that “yes” actually means “yes.”

We’re continuing our boundary discussion. Last week we talked about some examples of boundary requests and consequences/actions. 

We are the keepers of our boundaries and we’re responsible for taking the actions to maintain them.

Many people aren’t good at saying “no.” Or when they do say “no,” they try to offer an explanation–usually a lie–in order to control what the other person thinks of them. 

We often say “yes” when we really want to say “no” because we’re afraid of what other people will think of us. This is part of people-pleasing. (Read more about people-pleasing.)

But when we aren’t able to tell the truth out of self-respect and say “no,” we end up lying and saying “yes.” This is how we set ourselves up for boundary violations.

When we do this, we create the potential for resentment to build in us.  

Think about what happens when we don’t start out by telling the truth about our boundaries–by not being able to say “no” when we want to–and end up experiencing boundary violations. We then have to do the harder work of circling back to prevent further boundary violations. 

This can look like “standing up” for ourselves because the person who is violating our boundary has been doing so for a while now and not knowing that they are. So now we’re also likely setting this boundary out of anger as well. To the other person, it’s like we’re “coming out of nowhere” with our boundary request and exploding at them for no reason.

If we’re willing to say “no” at the outset, we don’t have to stand up for ourselves. We’ll just simply tell the truth and say “no” at the beginning to avoid other potential boundary violations.

We have to get good at telling the truth and saying “no” while staying connected as a practice, so we can say “yes” to what we really want to do. 

Then our “yes’s” will also be telling the truth. 

Your turn: When do you find yourself lying by saying “yes” when you really want to say “no”? What would you need to believe in order to tell the truth by saying “no”? What are some ways you can recognize when you want to say “no,” honoring that in yourself, and practice saying “no” when it’s the truth? How can you feel empowered to be the keeper of your boundaries and be responsible for taking the actions to maintain them?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and get to show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Stop quitting on yourself

Let it be hard.

Sometimes we make decisions that are hard because we love ourselves and want more for ourselves. A healthier body, better relationships, finding our purpose, a job that will challenge us, being more present in our lives. 

So we take the leap and make a decision.

We feel motivated and inspired at first, when our thoughts about what we’re doing make it easy to start out. But then it starts getting hard.

Most of the time, people don’t stick to what they say they want because it starts to get hard

When it starts to get hard, we feel uncomfortable. Our brains want to go back to what was easy, comfortable, and familiar. Even if that ease, comfort, and familiarity wasn’t in our best interests and is why we made the decision to create changes in our life in the first place.

When it gets hard, we may think: 

“A second helping just for tonight isn’t that bad” or 

“I can skip running today since I did it yesterday” or 

“Another drink won’t really hurt” or 

“I miss him so much, I’ll just text him to see how he’s doing.” 

These urges come up because we want to go back to what is easy, comfortable, and familiar. If we keep answering these urges by returning to what’s easy, comfortable, and familiar, we won’t get to the place where we pass through the “hard” part.

We can allow the urges–and any other feelings that come up–to be there without resisting or reacting to them. We can process them through instead. 

So let it be hard. And keep doing it anyway.

Keep sticking to the plan. Keep remembering why this is important. It was a decision to want more for ourselves because we love ourselves. To align with who we want to be and are becoming.

Here are some thoughts we can think during the hard parts:

“Doing this is hard and doing this is important to me.”

“This is the part where I want to have a second helping, but I’m sticking to my plan.”

“Running every day is hard and I can let it be hard for now.”

“Not having another drink is supposed to be uncomfortable for me.”

“Missing him is hard and I don’t need to text or call him. I’m making space for something new.”

When we can let it be hard, we will pass through to the other side of it. Then it will just become a regular part of what we do in our lives, a part of who we are. 

We become a person who doesn’t need a second helping or another drink. We become a person who works out every day. We become a person who takes care of themselves no matter what. We become a person who makes space to receive and have something or someone aligned with us. We become a person who shows up in the world the way we want to.

Your turn: Are you ready to stop quitting on yourself? Are you willing to let it be hard? What would happen if you let it be hard and got to the place where it’s just part of what you do and who you are? How would your life be better or different then?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you get to show up the way you want, be fully present, and engage purposefully? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Ready to stop people-pleasing?

Then you’ll have to stop lying.

I think we’re all familiar with the concept of people-pleasing. But we seldom think of it as lying.

It’s lying–to the people you’re trying to please and to yourself. 

People-pleasing is spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about what other people think of you, so you try to get them to like you by doing what you think they want. You do this at your own expense and at the expense of what you really want. So you might feel resentful and frustrated when people don’t do the same or appreciate the sacrifices you’re making. 

You think you can control what other people’s opinions are of you. But think about that. You’re trying to control other people’s minds. 

Have you ever experienced someone who tried to control your opinion of them? What did you think of them? Maybe they came across as a little creepy or a little needy? One thing is for sure: they weren’t being who they really are because they thought they needed to be who you wanted them to be. Does this sound familiar?

The truth is, we can’t control what other people think even when we try to. They will always get to choose what they want to believe about us. And, what they believe is about them, not us. When we show up in a way that is authentic, we can see which people like us for us and not for the people-pleasing we have been doing.

This is part of why people-pleasing is lying. You’re either lying about who you are or what you want to do. You’re also trying to get approval from other people when your own self-approval is much more powerful and meaningful.   

To have our own self-approval means we have to start liking and enjoying ourselves more. 

And we have to start letting others think what they want about us. This is difficult for most of us if we have become dependent on other people to try and feel good.

The first step to enjoying ourselves and our life is basic. We have to like ourselves. This isn’t easy for most of us.

This doesn’t mean liking ourselves passively. This means actively choosing to like ourselves on purpose.

This looks like: 

  • Listening to what you want.
  • Telling the truth and saying no sometimes.
  • Knowing your dreams and desires.
  • Taking care of yourself for the long run.
  • Working on your behalf.

When we become connected to our own self-approval, we start spending less energy on seeking others’ approval.

Your turn: What if the only true way to enjoy being yourself is to actually be yourself? Not some version of yourself you think others will like. Are you willing to stop lying and start telling the truth? What can you start doing to enjoy even more who you authentically are? How can you start becoming more connected to your own self-approval?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you get to show up the way you want, be fully present, and engage purposefully? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Why are you being so mean (to yourself)?

We can be so judgy.

Do you notice the thoughts you tell yourself? Especially when things don’t go the way you want them to? In a situation with your friend, where things don’t turn out the way they wanted, you’d likely be supportive. You might say, “There’s something better out there for you,” or “You’re so great, you’ll find another opportunity in no time,” or “You learned a lot from this to take to the next experience,” or “I’m so sorry you’re disappointed. How can I support you?”

In these situations with yourself when things don’t turn out the way you want, what are the words you say to yourself? What do you make that situation mean about you?

It can be easy to beat ourselves up after a perceived failure. Instead of focusing on the facts of what happened or what we learned from the experience, we tend to make what happened mean something about ourselves. This can look like thinking to yourself, “I knew I wasn’t good enough,” or “What’s wrong with me? There’s got to be something wrong with me,” or “I’ll never get it right–I’m such a failure,” or “I shouldn’t be feeling like this. Get over it!”

The words we say to ourselves can be pretty mean. So not only have we “failed” at the thing we wanted, we then proceed to beat ourselves up for it–and feel even worse. And we’re likely the only ones telling ourselves these mean things and making ourselves feel terrible about it.

Then we start to hide, play it safe, and protect ourselves from “failing” again. So we don’t even attempt to go after what we want. But we’re only trying to avoid the words we say to ourselves, which create feelings of defeat, disappointment, hurt, and shame.

If we think we’re trying to avoid the judgment of others, in reality, we can’t control what they think about us. Even if we “succeeded” at something, there are still some people who will judge us for succeeding as much as they might judge us for failing. (And are you sure you want those people in your life?)

So if we’re not really avoiding the judgment of others, whose judgment are we trying to avoid? It could be the mean thoughts we’re used to telling ourselves.

Once we’re aware of what we say to ourselves, we have the power to change what we say and choose to be kinder to ourselves.

Your turn: What if there’s no such thing as failing, only winning or learning? How would you talk to yourself then? What thoughts about yourself could you have that are a little kinder? What if you talked to yourself and supported yourself the way you’d support a friend or even a kid-version of yourself who’s learning something new? What would you say to yourself then? And how would your relationship with yourself change?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you get to show up the way you want, be fully present, and engage purposefully? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Why you’re behaving that way

Our feelings fuel us.

Everything we do in our life is because we want to feel a certain way. Everything we want in our life is because of a feeling–the feeling that we think we’ll have in getting it or the feeling we think we’ll avoid in not getting it. This is really good to know. 

And if we know that our feelings are caused by our thoughts and that what we do in our life is in order to feel better, wouldn’t it be important to know what you’re thinking? 

We’ve already talked about circumstances, which are the facts that happen in our lives and which we usually don’t have control over. We’ve also talked about how we think about those circumstances creates our feelings. It’s not the circumstances that create our feelings.

Our feelings are also important because they drive all of our actions. Feelings are the fuel for our actions. So when someone asks me, “Why am I not taking action?” It’s because of the way they feel. Or if they’re taking an action they don’t want to be taking, it’s because of the way they feel. So our feelings are driving our actions. And then our actions are always going to create the results we get–sometimes they’re results we want or results we don’t want in our life. Our actions create our results.

But our actions stem from our feelings and our feelings come from our thoughts. So if we want different results, ultimately, we need to think different thoughts.

So sometimes the reason why we don’t take a certain action is to avoid a feeling we think will happen after taking that action. This can look like declining a big opportunity because we’re feeling doubt and thinking something along the lines of, “I might fail and I don’t want to feel the dejection of failure.” 

Other times, we feel a certain way and because we feel that way, we either take or don’t take action. This can look like feeling nervous because we’re thinking, “I don’t want to look stupid in front of everyone,” so we don’t offer our opinion in a meeting. Or we feel hurt because we’re thinking, “He should want to spend more time with me,” which causes us to disconnect from our partner, which is an action that doesn’t serve us or our relationships–it’s actually the opposite of what we want here.

When we have results in our lives that we don’t want, it’s good to be aware that it’s our actions that are creating them. And where do our actions come from? The way we’re feeling. And where does the way we’re feeling come from? The way we’re thinking about our circumstances. 

To create different results, we need to think different thoughts.

Your turn: What feelings are fueling your actions? What actions are you taking when you experience those feelings? And what results are your actions creating for you? Do you like the results you’re getting?

Subscribe to receive this content in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

Stop giving your power away

You’re in charge of how you feel

Last week we talked about how to process and allow painful emotions. It’s easy to think that external circumstances like other people, things, outcomes, and events, cause us to feel a certain way. What really causes us to feel a certain way is how we think about those external circumstances. 

Do you know why circumstances don’t cause our feelings? Because two different people could experience the exact same circumstance, but depending on how each of them thinks about the circumstance, their thoughts will create their feelings. So it’s not the circumstance. It’s the thoughts.

For example, one person gets cut off while driving. She could immediately get angry and vengeful and try to cut that other person off because she’s thinking, “This person is a jerk! How dare he do that to me. I’ll show him!” And sometimes this anger can start a spiral of negative thoughts and emotions for the rest of the day.

Another person who gets cut off while driving could feel some annoyance but then get over it easily because he’s thinking, “Yikes! I know how it feels to be in a rush like that and I’ve done that type of thing before without meaning to.” Some initial annoyance, but pretty quickly letting it go and not letting it ruin his day.

Same circumstance, but different thoughts, which create different feelings–and ultimately, different results. 

When we let other people have so much control over our feelings, we’re giving our power away to them. We’re saying, “How you’re behaving/what you’re saying/what’s happening ‘out there’ is determining how I feel, so I have no control over my feelings.”

But we do have control. That control is in our thoughts. Our thoughts are where our power lies.

Most of the time, we make other people’s words and actions mean something about us and we think we have to protect ourselves from something, protect our egos. 

For example, when a colleague offers another way of doing something than what we suggested, we might get defensive because we might think, “He doesn’t respect my opinion.” Then we may feel angry and defensive because we made it mean something about ourselves–usually something related to “I’m not good enough.” Then we proceed to act in a certain way that deteriorates our relationship with that colleague. 

What if instead we thought, “He could be offering a more efficient way to do it. Let’s see if it can work”? That thought will create a totally different feeling. We didn’t make our colleague’s words/actions mean anything about ourselves. We didn’t take it personally or need to defend ourselves. This other thought might create the feeling of “curiosity” or “openness,” which leads us to collaborate with that colleague in a cooperative way. 

Two different outcomes because of two different thoughts–but the circumstances were the same.  Starting to see a pattern? 😉

When we take responsibility for our feelings, we stop giving our power away to other people and situations. We are in charge of how we think and feel. 

When we take responsibility for our feelings, we are in emotional adulthood instead of emotional childhood.

More about emotional adulthood and childhood next week!

Your turn: What are you making someone’s words or actions mean about yourself? What if their words or actions don’t have to mean anything about you? Are you open to becoming more aware of the thoughts you’re thinking and how they’re creating your feelings? What are the three most frequent emotions you feel during a typical day? What are the thoughts creating those emotions? 

Subscribe to have this content delivered right to your inbox.

You: Empowering and Disempowering Questions 

When we ask ourselves questions, our brains love to go to work to find the answers. When we ask ourselves disempowering questions, our brain will likely find disempowering answers. When we ask ourselves more empowering, curious, open questions, our brains will likely find options that feel more empowering or productive. 

What are three disempowering questions that you find yourself asking?

What are some more empowering questions you could ask yourself?

Below are some examples of disempowering (sound familiar?) and empowering questions:

Disempowering

Why do I keep doing this?

Why did I have to make that mistake?

Why isn’t he calling me back?

Why is this so hard?

Why can’t I get it right?

What’s wrong with me?

Why am I so messed up?

Empowering

How is this working for me?

What if this was all happening perfectly?

What if it’s okay that this is hard?

What would this look like if it was easy?

What am I learning from this?

How do I want to show up in this situation?

What’s right with me?

Who do I want to be?

Let me know if you’ve been asking yourself disempowering questions and are struggling to find more empowering questions to ask instead. We’ll work it out together!

Subscribe to get this content right in your inbox every week!