A Guide to Finding an Emotionally Available Partner

emotionally available

I thought it was my bad luck that I kept running into emotionally unavailable people.

The women I met seemed to be closed off from their emotions, wanted to hide them or didn’t want to share them.

This felt odd until I realized that the patterns and behavior I was seeing in women were the exact behaviors and patterns I had seen in myself.

I had a “slam-my-head-on-the-steering-wheel” moment. Oh…it wasn’t the other cars that were the problem. I had to look within my own.

You may also be looking for a partner but this time around you want someone who is emotionally available and willing to commit to you.

Finding an emotionally available partner is more difficult than finding vegetarian food on long stretches of a freeway littered with McDonald’s and Taco Bells.

It’s more difficult than finding a presidential candidate who aligns with your values.

More difficult than finding a yoga teacher who treats yoga like a spiritual practice, not a power exercise.

If you’ve had enough of partners who show up with great fanfare and attention but then disappear within days, here’s what to do.

Instead of asking yourself, “Why can’t I find an emotionally available guy,” approach your search differently.

I’m sharing these insights with you as a guy who was emotionally unavailable (extremely unavailable) and who made efforts to change as well as someone who is looking for an emotionally available woman.

6 ways to find an emotionally available partner.

1) Get comfortable with feelings and welcome in emotions.

You often get caught up with the idea that the right person isn’t out there for you or you simply can’t find the right person.
I’m convinced more than ever that it has nothing to do with the person you’re searching for. You have limited control over that but you do have the ability to make changes within.

One key to finding emotionally available people is to become emotionally available yourself.

Don’t run. Welcome in your feelings. Don’t hide from your emotions. Allow feelings and emotions to come into your life and sit with them. Speak to them, write about them, explore them. Get to know your feelings: the soul-stirring and soul-crushing ones.

If the feelings are overwhelming, talk to a therapist or other professional.

2) Be willing to share how you’re feeling with others.

Share your emotions with others. Share your feelings with people you trust instead of keeping them bottled up.

Share feelings and emotions to reduce the heaviness of both.

If the waves of feelings and emotions are uncontrollable, speak to a professional about them. Otherwise, make space for them to sit and breathe into them.

Know that sharing your feelings with others can be an emotional and spiritual release. It will help you become more vulnerable, encouraging you to get into the habit of speaking your truth and fully accepting yourself.

3) Work on your own emotional wounds and healing.

When you get real and welcome in your emotions, you’re bound to find those things that push your buttons. Your former partners may have pushed your buttons a lot but you never realized they were there to teach you and show you that the wounds were there.

Becoming aware of the wounds is the first step toward healing them. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.

Get curious about your emotional wounds. Go to the origination point. Where did it develop? How did it grow? What triggers this wound today?

Become a detective of your emotional state.

Once you identify and understand your wounds, you can breathe love into them. You can flood them with light. You can shed them with healing thoughts and beliefs. You can tend to them and care for them.

You can find meaning in these wounds, messages for your life and ways to improve your life. You can tell a new story about these wounds. You can fill the wounds with light and share your light with others who are suffering.

4) Get attentive on how your partner handles emotionally charged conversations.

Once you work on your own issues with emotional strength and openness, notice how your potential partner handles his emotions.
Take notes and observe how your partner responds, reacts and manages his emotional well-being.

Either accept your partner for where he is or don’t accept him. You have that choice but don’t deny or resist the place he’s at.

He’s not necessarily going to change, improve or become the person you want emotionally. And likely, it’s not going to happen overnight.

Become observant. Accept him for where he is and decide if this is going to work for you. Or not work for you.

5) Let your partner know what you’re looking for.

If it’s not working for you, let your partner know what you need from him.

Communicate instead of hiding your emotional needs.
Instruct him, if necessary. Show him what you need from him. Make a request as to what you need from your partner.

Do not bottle up your emotional needs or believe your partner will understand what you want without your saying it.

Speak out your emotional needs. Your partner cannot predict, guess or use telepathy to understand what your needs are.

6) Be willing to let go of relationships that don’t serve you emotionally.

Often we are so terrified of being alone that we would rather put up with anything than break off an unhealthy relationship.

You have a choice: be miserable, unhappy and unloved. Or take your emotional well-being into your own hands.

Find someone who is going to be there for you emotionally.

Let go of being imprisoned by someone else’s emotionally unavailable chains.
By letting go of an unemotionally available person, you give him the opportunity to start working on his emotional needs and opening up.

You also clear room in your life to invite in more emotionally available partners.

* “You can’t be with the right partner when you’re with the wrong one” *

How Do You Become a Better Lover?

lovers

No one teaches us about marriage or relationships.

No one shows us what good communication looks like or gives us the recipe for successful couples.

We stumble down this path of relationships in the dark.

I found myself without role models and with a dysfunctional past. People showed me love in hurtful ways and I did not know what a healthy relationship looks like.

On the way up the graduate school and professional ladders, we don’t learn the skills we need for the most important things in our lives. No one teaches us how to speak, listen, request, forgive or let go.

How do you become a good doctor? You go to school for it.

How do you become a good cyclist? You ride a lot.

How do you become a better lover in relationship?s Trial and error. Lots of experiences in the name of failure. Breakups. Divorce.

What a way to learn, huh !?!

To improve our relationships, we first have to realize that we don’t know anything about them. IF you grew up in dysfunctional ones, you have to admit that you know only what a dysfunctional relationship looks like.

There is no shame in learning. We learn in every other area of our lives, so why not sit down and study relationships? Why not figure out how to communicate and love another person?

There is a better way to communicate than through complaints, put-downs and negativity.

In this excellent book, The New Rules of Marriage, author Terrence Real outlines 5 ways to improve your communication. I wrote about this book last week and here’s part 2 of what I learned from this book.

Here are 5 winning strategies to become a better lover.

1. Shift from complaint to request.

Complaining rarely or never gets you what you want. Don’t criticize your partner for something they did in the past; instead, ask them for what you want in the future. It takes more courage, and we’re not used to asking for what we want in relationships because complaining is easier and asking poses the threat of rejection. Yet Real tells us that asking is a more empowered way of being. For women particularly, “self-assertion can trigger feelings of shame and guilt. They must learn that pleasure and honest connection are gifts and birthrights.” Real writes that asking for what you want is the only way your partner will be able to meet your needs.

2. Speaking out with love and savvy.

Always remember that the underlying goal of communication is to speak and be effective with the person you love. The goal is to strengthen your bond and relationship. “He is someone you love. Someone you’ve pledged your life to. At the very least, recall that he’s the person you have to live with.” Keep this goal in mind and ask yourself what your communication will do. Think about what you’re going to say – will it bring you closer together or take you further apart? Help your partner feel empowered, not helpless. Talk about what happened during a particular event, then talk about what you have decided about it, how you feel about it and what you would like to happen in the future. Speak to solve the problem and avoid it in the future, not to hurt and embarrass your partner.

3. Respond with generosity.

Before responding, you have to master the art of listening to your partner and understanding where they are coming from. Don’t argue or go for being right – go for harmony and repairing the conflict you’re both experiencing. After listening, you have to understand where your partner is coming from. The rule that Real describes is “understanding builds empathy, empathy builds compassion, and compassion ends combat.” Once you hear your partner out and understand what they are saying, acknowledge what they are saying as much as you can and show accountability. The final part of responding is to respond generously to as many of your partner’s requests. Find something to give to your partner and agree on sincere actions you will take in the future.

4. Empowering each other.

How can I help you give me what I want? Treat your partner as your teammate. “Repair demands that both partners ask: What can we do to work as a team? How can we face challenges life throws at us and the challenges we present to each other in a practical way?” How can you help each other? How are you going to help each other feel loved and fulfilled? Work together on a plan to help each other get what you want.

5. Cherishing.

Cherishing is what you do after you’ve agreed on what you’re going to do to resolve the conflicts between both of you. You have to cultivate your capacity to appreciate and enjoy the pleasure of your relationship. To cherish, you have to acknowledge your partner’s progress and demonstrate, through your actions, a desire to return the favor and be pleasing to them. Let them know that you appreciate them, encourage them for improvements and thank them for doing those things you asked for.

Ready to become a better lover? Or to learn the new rules of marriage so you can transform your relationship? Pick up The New Rules of Marriage today.

5 Harmful Behaviors That Ruin Marriage

marriage1“We are drawn to people whose issues fit perfectly with our own in a way that guarantees a reenactment of the old, familiar struggle we grew up with.” Terrence Real, The New Rules of Marriage.

As someone who was married for nearly a decade, I went through the ups and downs of marriage.

The downs were really down and took me through these 5 terrible behaviors that people commonly engage in during a marriage.

I felt terrible when I read about these behaviors in the book,  The New Rules of Marriage.

What the heck was I thinking?

How could I have committed all 5 of these harmful behaviors when I was married? I started getting angry with myself all over again for having been so lost, blind and hostile.

I would never treat anyone else I know like this, so why my ex?

The New Rules of Marriage hit me in the gut and awakened thoughts of unpleasant behaviors from my past. I didn’t realize they were common and showed up in all troubled relationships.

If you’re still married, I’m bringing this up to remind you that these are unhealthy behaviors that you don’t have to engage in.

If you’re divorced, you’ll remember these behaviors as a wake-up call for your next relationship.

I’ve tried to get over the shame and to stop beating myself up for these negative behaviors. I’m reminding myself that I did the best I could and now self-awareness will help going forward.

5 harmful behaviors to avoid in your marriage.

1. Needing to be right.

If you’re married, you know this one all too well. You want to be right and you refuse to see it another way, for both the small and big things. You may be factually right but being right isn’t the point. You could win the battle but make your spouse feel lousy about themselves and therefore lose the war.

Solution: “The only sensible answer to the question ‘Who’s right and who’s wrong?’ is ‘Who cares?’” Real tells us in his book. We can be right or we can be married – which matters to you more? “I want you to do this: Understand that the need to be right eats away at intimacy, no matter what the provocation. You can make a commitment to stop self-righteous indignation, no matter what the provocation.”

2. Controlling your partner.

We try to get our partners to do what we want them to do. Some do this by force and others by manipulation, but both essentially try to get their partners to behave in a certain way. Real tells us that we naturally feel attraction to people who have a way of pricking our deepest wounds and childhood pains. He tells us that we marry our unfished business. Even the best relationships bring up every hurt and anger you carry inside.

Solution: You don’t have to avoid the raw parts of yourself in a relationship. You can handle and heal the raw parts of yourself, but not in the way you imagined. Your instinct might be to change your partner and get them to behave. “Our understable, naïve and utterly dysfunctional dream is that our partners will give to us whatever we most missed in our childhoods, that we most yearn for now as adults.” Control is an illusion. You can heal and change only yourself, not your partner.

3. Criticism and negativity – giving your partner a piece of your mind.

“Hey, let me tell you in precise, lurid detail just exactly how miserable you made me by your shortcomings. I need to vent!” is the idea that Real describes with what he calls “unbridled self-expression”. It’s telling your partner in brutal honesty what you think of them. If you somehow don’t put it all out there, you feel like you’re suppressing and hiding your true feelings.

Solution: Real says that, “you will not die if you don’t express yourself whenever a thought pops into your mind. Furthermore, venting is not an inalienable right. You can vent or you can move toward a solution.” Find a more thoughtful and careful way to express what you want to say. Try constructive, not critical, self-expression. Realize that telling your partner how horrible you think his/her behavior is or what a horrible person he/she is will not help you get closer or solve any problems.

4. Retaliation.

Who doesn’t love to get even or push your partner’s buttons after you’ve been injured? It’s the idea of thinking of yourself as the victim and hitting your partner harder emotionally than he/she pushed you. Often retaliation comes across as verbal abuse: “humiliating, ridiculing, telling your partner what he should or should not do – these are all aspects of verbal abuse, and they have no place whatsoever in a healthy relationship.”

Solution: Either of you should call a “time out where the arguing comes to an immediate stop. You disrupt the interaction and one of you leave[s] it so there is no further harm done. Check in within twenty minutes or a couple hours or even half a day and see if you each need more time or if you can have a conversation in a more civil manner. “Make a commitment to take retaliation – physical and verbal, direct and indirect – off the table. If you’re mad, say so, but don’t act it out,” advises Real.

5. Withdrawal.

You can withdraw from a conversation or even completely from the marriage. Withdrawal is a passive-aggressive form of retaliation. You withdraw from certain or all aspects of the relationship – intellectual, emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual. You withdraw to avoid conflict, when you’ve given up or when you find it pointless to engage any further in the relationship.

Solution: This is the most blatant strategy that results in your not getting what you want because you’ve stopped trying. You can’t get what you want from a relationship by withdrawing from it. Instead of a unilateral, provocative drawing away, you can opt for responsible distance taking. Provide an explanation for why you don’t want to engage in the conversation now and promise to return to it later, providing a specific time to address the concerns.

You need your space while still remaining accountable and responsible in the relationship. You don’t want to sever ties with your partner. You want to find a way to work it out, have your needs met and be fulfilled.

There are new rules of marriage in the modern age. To deal with all of the marriage-breakers above, pick up The New Rules of Marriage, by Terrence Real, for tips and strategies for articulating your needs and wants, listening well, standing up for yourself and knowing how to seek outside help. You can pick up the book on Amazon here.

Divorce: A Path to Your Inner Transformation

divorce

It’s been close to 3 years since I separated and later on, divorced from my husband.

We were only officially married for 1 year and half but unofficially together for 7 years. He was my best friend. I looked up to him and secretly felt I could not keep up to his ability to be successful.

Three years ago, l lost sight of everything meaningful in my life, and spiraled into self- sabotage and rebellion. When we broke up, I took it upon myself to change as a person, because I thought that was partly the reason my marriage had deteriorated. What I came to realize is it was the marriage with myself that I never allowed to heal properly. Before we can love someone wholeheartedly, we need to love and accept ourselves first.

  • Year one taught me survival through various avenues of meditations, traveling, one-on-one coaching, researching topics of interest (self-help), and continuous self-introspective writing.
  • Year two opened the doors towards discovering who I am, my true self and layers of my mind that contributed to my years of “unconscious” living (along with the help of therapy.)
  • Year three helped me accept that I am already in the place I need to be and learning to accept myself as I am as well as being more compassionate with myself. It is also more of a “free” year, where I am living day by day and just being with myself not doing anything in particular as previous years – I am actively watching myself “just being me.” (As weird as that sounds!)

I am very clear about the mistakes I made back then.

Marriage is when two imperfect souls can accept each other just as they are and grow as persons and as a unit simultaneously. Marriage is compromise, love, empathy, understanding, strength, vulnerability and maturity amongst the obstacles and difficulties thrown at us by the universe.

Divorce is just another new beginning to look at yourself and reflect on what went wrong.

It’s an opportunity to learn about yourself and to appreciate your previous partner as another teacher in your life (once you move past the anger phase, because you do experience it – and it’s totally normal!)

I learned more about me, then I did after any other difficult time period of my life.

It was hard for me in the first few months, as I am a sensitive individual. Time went so slow, my loved ones spent hours calling me, inviting me over for dinner, and sharing countless words of wisdom. I felt I was experiencing an outer body experience.

Surprisingly, work became more interesting because I drowned myself to avoid feeling pain. I often woke up earlier and fell asleep earlier than usual. I started experiencing anxiety attacks and I started praying frequently again. This only reaffirmed my desire to create change for myself. I am eternally grateful for the spiritual coach who guided me during this time and opened up doorways for my self-improvement (my healing).

Here are my tips to work on healing from your heartache while improving yourself and loving yourself:

1. Don’t lock yourself up indoors.

When we feel down, we feel lifeless, we are walking zombies and we do not want to get out of bed. My godfather told me, “When you feel sad: get up, grab your purse, open the door, and hear it slam. Then, come straight over to our house. No matter how many times. Get up and get out.” You have no idea, how much I have listened to this. Once you are out, you won’t suddenly feel thrilled but after 2hours of engaging with others, laughing or in-depth conversations of moral support, you will feel better.

2. Set intentions and be compassionate with yourself.

If you have no other options, because we tend to close up, then set an intention to be compassionate with yourself. For example, I have very few intimate friends, so I did often stay at home, in bed with the lights off. But, I knew I couldn’t stay there forever. I set a realistic intention to give myself a minimum of 3 days at home. Day 3 came and I would get up to go out or do an activity such as writing, visiting loved ones, going for a walk or seeing a movie.

3. Allow yourself to feel.

Do not avoid it. If you need to talk to someone (you trust) for hours to get things off your chest, do so. We are creatures of service; another person will listen to you and help you feel relaxed. If you don’t have someone, I recommend writing down every thought going through your mind. If you suddenly feel the need to cry or laugh, don’t hold it back. Feel it, watch it, and release it – whatever feeling it is, will go away on its own. Don’t avoid thinking or feeling by working overtime or going out every chance you get as an escape. In the long run, this will bring more harm because pain gets buried and will resurface when a new relationship or situation comes around.

4. Get help from a professional outsider: a coach or therapist.

I met a wonderful life coach through a mutual friend. She guided me in every session, hearing me out, giving exercises, written homework assignments and insight. Sometimes we need another’s eye and expertise to comprehend what we are going through and provide you tools to move forward. There were so many topics and tools I would have never thought of without her. She opened my mind to study myself and be understanding that this new life experience would allow me to reach my goals of healing, true love and self-acceptance.

5. Take a seminar or a class.

When you find yourself as a student again engaging in adding skills to yourself professionally and/or as a hobby – you are left with an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, giddiness and success. It will make you feel so much better and you will begin to notice you forget about your sadness because you are doing something loving such as an exercise dance class, meet up group, meditation or yoga seminar.

6. Don’t do rebound relationships.

I have done these in the past, though I didn’t do it after my divorce from my last partner. I have found that you are still in a tender phase and you need to work on those feelings of hurt, discomfort and loss. Sometimes, we think we are ready and what we really need is to meet new people and be friends first. If the right partner comes along, you will know it. Don’t rush, take your time.

7. Don’t stay in contact with your ex/exes.

My last ex found it annoying I stayed friends with previous exes. He use to say, “Exes can’t be friends.” I use to debate this all the time. I found it brought me more harm than good, even affecting my marriage. Growing up as an only child with little or no family, we tend to make our friends our family. I couldn’t let go of certain relationships because I was scared to be alone. In past relationships, I had keep my exes as friends but by doing so I only kept it as “yellow” light just in case the flame would revive. In order to move on, we need to keep a distance. Otherwise, we are prolonging pain or in some cases, engaging in relationships with no ties – where there is always one person that gets attached and gets hurt.  No matter how much we love or loved that person, we need to let go and accept the one relationship worth keeping is the one with ourselves.

8. Do pray or meditate.

Religion and spirituality continue to be the most contributing part of this healing and self-transformation equation. If you belong to a particular religion, prayer is universal – give it to God. If you are not part of any religion, being spiritual is another tool. Spirituality isn’t all about a religion. It is also about belief in yourself, your inner center, the universe and the stars. I went to free meditation seminars on Sundays during year one and even pulled up some good mediattions and mantras from YouTube. Meditation frees you to – give it to the universe. For me, giving myself to God and the universe through prayer and meditation allowed me to feel peace again, especially in those sad or anxious moments during and after my divorce.

Taizha Diaz, also known as Spiritual Dahlia, writes on her blog here. You can also keep up  her work on Facebook.

How Do You Choose Love?

I am happy to be able to share this interview with you, by my friend, A.G. Billig. Watch this video to find out how to find the love your’re looking for in your life. Learn now to choose love each and every day. A.G. offers some practical tips to see and feel love.

A.G. Billing is an author and self-love coach. You can learn more about her work here at www.agbillig.com. To pick up her book, I Choose Love, visit her Amazon page here.

Looking Past Appearances and Differences

 

At the end of the day, we all the same on the inside.  If you get past our physical appearances, race, skin color, we are all  the same yet we spend so much of our time focusing on our differences.

This is the powerful message that Rohit shares in the video above. I found it both catchy and empowering so I’m sharing it with you.

Listen. Share. Take the message to heart.

To keep up with Rohit’s music, visit his Youtube account or follow him on Instagram here.

5 Steps to Manifesting a Partner

Do you feel like you’re not able to welcome and receive new relationships into your life? My friend, Priyanka, is back on the blog this week with practical advice you can use to overcome your relationship blocks and open your heart to love. Watch this 4-minute video on how to get clear in your life and manifest a relationship your heart desires.

My friend, Priyanka Yadvendu, is an author and women’s workshop facilitator. She helps women remove the blocks in their lives and welcome in love and abundance.  To follow her blog and keep up with her work, visit www.priyankayadvendu.com. To pick up her latest novel, Enchanted Silence, click here.

How to Cure Your Love Deficit

selflove1

I wish I could tell you a story about that one dramatic event that changed my life forever. You know the type – the divorce, the physical abuse, an accident, or even a near death experience. It’s not because I have some morbid desire to experience these painful things.

It’s just that sometimes I think maybe (just maybe) one of those pivotal events would have been the impetus I needed to see what was wrong in my life, and to take action to heal.

But then again, maybe not. When I look back on my 20’s, and on the long and painful list of struggles I experienced, you’d think that at least one of them would have led to my light-bulb conversion story. Unfortunately, they just kept piling up, like a car wreck on the highway.

Relationships

The first pile up came in the form of relationships. I often let my values and beliefs slip to the wayside, especially when it came to romance. I wanted “love” so badly, that any guy became better than no guy at all.

One relationship was so destructive that I developed not only depression, but also anorexia nervosa from all of the stress and anxiety that it caused me. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by then.

But I didn’t, and I settled for less time and time again. And not just in romance! I always seemed to attach myself to dominating and controlling people, rather than respectful and loving friends.

Career

I also never believed that I was worthy of a good career, and so, I always settled for jobs that never challenged me, or helped me grow. Even though I hated each one, I never believed that I was capable and worthy of something better.

During my 20’s, I used to say to myself, “I’m such a waste of time.”

It was such a bleak outlook, but that’s how I saw those years of my life. Those years that should have been full of fun, exploration, growth, and all the happy photos you see on Facebook and Instagram.

Instead, there I was, and I wasn’t proud of my life. In fact, I was fed up, and wanted to end it all. I never had the courage to commit suicide, but I wanted to, because I knew life could be better. I just didn’t know how to rise above my long history of settling and censoring, of caving in and giving up.

So, I tried to fix things: I exercised, I prayed, I questioned my beliefs, I changed beliefs, I read self-help books, I tried to stand up for myself, and I broke off many relationships. In short, I tried to address my issues as if they were isolated and disparate parts.

But the problems never really went away because there was a much deeper problem.

And it’s true – depression, self-esteem and body image issues, social anxiety, and eating disorders are all real problems that countless people deal with. But these issues were actually the symptoms of a much bigger problem for me.

I had the chronic illness of not loving myself.

I never saw this illness sneaking in, and like so many others, I never thought this could be the underlying issue, because on the outside, so many things seemed okay.

Can you relate? Do you see any of the following scenarios playing out in your own life, too?

Does no one see that your own heart is a bit broken inside?

Maybe you’re very responsible and self-sufficient? My parents used to be so proud of me and say, “You always paid your own way and held down a job.” Well, yes I did. But I basically cried on the way to most jobs; I worked myself up with to so much stress that my body stopped tolerating most foods. How many times have we endured too much for too long? All because we don’t respect ourselves enough to say no and stop?

Maybe you’re a great student, and a favorite in the classroom. But instead of celebrating your good grades and academic accomplishments, you constantly compare them to everyone else’s and criticize yourself for not being good enough.

The thing is, we look at these scenarios, and say things like, “Oh, she’s just too hard on herself.” But what we should be saying instead is: “She doesn’t love herself!” I never thought that I didn’t love myself. I just figured that my life was hard. But how many women go through the same troubles, and don’t understand why?

How many women are self-sufficient, have romantic relationships, do well academically, but deep down, don’t love themselves one bit?

This lack of self-love is insidious, much like a deadly cancer. On the outside, everything seems good, even good enough, but you know it’s not. You know you could be better, healthier and happier. Unfortunately, few of us realize that our common struggles result from our love deficit. I’m so glad I realized this, and started loving myself again.

It’s been some of the most difficult work I’ve ever done, because it’s meant changing my mindset and the long-held beliefs I had about myself. We all know that nothing good comes easily, and if you ask me, loving yourself is some of the best work you can ever do. So, it goes without saying that this work has been anything but easy.

But since it’s the most important job we have, we have to start loving ourselves again. The question is, how?

Here’s how to start loving yourself again.

First, admit that you’re not loving yourself enough or at all. Admit that you want to fix it. Tell yourself that you want to change and be happy, and that you want to give up pain and replace it with love. It sounds easy, but it takes a lot of strength. But don’t worry – you have this strength within you.

Next, actively surround yourself with as much love and support as you can find, whether that be with friends or family. Don’t just wait until the next birthday party. Actively schedule time with supportive and loving people. Listen to positive coaches or podcasts, and start to cultivate better thoughts.

This also goes for professional support! It’s important to admit that you might need professional help. Maybe it’s a counselor. Maybe it’s alternative medicines to help clear negativity. Whatever it is, allow yourself to be helped. We all need this from time to time!

Then, we have to start identifying what our hidden acts of non-love look like, and replace them with loving actions instead. I gave a couple scenarios above, but there are also many others. The problem is, so many of them have become commonplace, and we all know that once something becomes normal, it loses the power to impress us.

So, here are some other red flags to look out for: Dating or sleeping with men just to be with “someone”; changing who you are in order to be accepted and have “friends”; putting up with any form of abuse. Harming yourself in any way; accepting a life you’re not happy with and avoiding or refusing help; ignoring your health by avoiding medical attention, a good diet, exercise, grooming, dressing well; settling with jobs and commitments you’re not happy with, because you rather please others than be happy yourself.

Once you’ve acknowledged these actions, take time to forgive yourself. It’s not the time to beat yourself up anymore. Instead, it’s time to see that you’re worthy of your own love, compassion and forgiveness.

Remember to be patient on this journey. It will take lots of determination and gumption, but never give up on yourself!

Exercises to cultivate love for yourself.

  1. Dress yourself like you have something special planned that day. You’re worth it! I started something called “The Bloom Challenge”, where I challenge myself to dress up for 13 days straight. It’s a big, fashionable, “I love you”, and it’s so much fun. It reminds me that I’m worth looking and feeling great.
  2. Other ways you can show love to yourself is to prepare and enjoy a good meal. Half the time, we throw down a red carpet for everyone else, but we’ll stand at the kitchen counter when it’s time to feed ourselves.
  3. You can also be your best friend, by thinking of all the things you’d do for your closest friend, and doing them for yourself. Things like enjoying a latte at your favorite café, walking in the park, buying your favorite flowers or lighting a candle, going on a nice outing, or even just letting yourself relax and enjoy small pleasures. You’re worthy of all these things, too.

As you can see, none of these suggestions are super complicated, and that’s because loving yourself is actually very simple work. The problem is that we usually have no idea how little we love ourselves, or we truly believe that we’re not worthy of our own love.

This is the main theme of my book, The Heiress Project: Every Girl’s Guide to Reclaiming Your Worth & Creating a Life You Actually Love. So, if this is an area you struggle with in your own life, come check it out!

The bottom line is this: You are absolutely and 100% worthy of your own love, and I bet that if you begin to love yourself again, you’ll slowly begin to heal all the other areas of your life, too.

marieMarie Therese Batt is a writer and blogger at www.marietheresebatt.com. Her work focuses on empowering women to love who they are, and to change the way they view themselves. Her own struggles with anorexia and depression are the catalyst and inspiration for her writing, which has given many women the encouragement needed to change their lives. Check out her new book here.

The Day I Chose to Make this Simple Change in my Life was the Day I Started Living

mindfulness

Once upon a time, my daily life was filled with mind-numbing tasks that I completed like a zombie.

I’d wake up to go to the office and barely have the energy to get out of the door. When my day was going well, one thing after another would happen: I’d bang my knee getting dressed and my car wouldn’t start. The stress added up and weighed me down every day.

Hours would pass before I could sleep, and then I’d wake up with a racing mind. Even when I tried to slow down or take a daycation, the stress would creep its way back into my life. The day I started to practice mindfulness, my entire life shifted—what really mattered in my life was given my full attention, and my worries began to dissipate as I dealt with them from a more aware perspective.

What Mindfulness Is Not

Mindfulness isn’t a reset button as much as I wished I could hit that button. The snooze button worked for a little while, but everyone wanted something from me when I wanted to be left alone.

No matter how hard I worked, I always worried about my success on projects. I despised faking smiles and telling lies when people asked how I was doing. All this stress does is distract you from being aware of what’s going on within yourself right now.

Mindfulness isn’t some watered down version of meditation where you chant mantras and take a certain number of breaths. It’s about taking notice and being here, in the now.

What Mindfulness Really Means

I’d heard all about how I needed to “be in the now,” and it does sound like a pitch to sign up for twenty classes of yoga on a special deal. Go ahead and take a second to roll your eyes, and I’ll tell you what mindfulness is really about for me.

Mindfulness is about waking up refreshed and open. Instead of mentally checking over my to-do list, I feel how comfortable my bed is and how energized my body feels after actually getting a decent night’s sleep. I listen to my heart, my breathing and even the sounds of construction outside my bedroom—the sounds of a new day starting. I frown at the banging of a hammer and stretch with a smile, open to receiving each moment to follow from a clear-headed space.

Instead of feeling behind, my sense of ease continues with me into the rest of the day. Mindfulness allows me to be responsive and observant of a moment as it happens, rather than making a stressful idea into a reality. Being mindful is a way of living.

How Being Mindful Affects My Everyday Life

Being mindful doesn’t take this huge effort, and it won’t take up your time. You don’t force yourself to think positively and criticize yourself when you don’t. You will worry, but as mindfulness becomes a part of your daily life, you’ll find that old stresses affect you less.

Most of the time, I don’t even notice when I am being mindful. I started bringing mindfulness into my daily rituals used to unwind and connect to myself. I began with Wednesdays, that “Yay! I’m halfway through!” day.

I’d go to a coffee shop with a big window and look out to the street.

Being somewhere else and allowing myself get lost was helpful, but stress would still find me.

That’s because I wasn’t experiencing the flow of what I was feeling in the moment.

I decided to sit down with my coffee, and for five minutes, focus on the birds outside eating the bread crumbs that a man was dropping.

The birds fought over the crumbs, but each bird had a piece before he left.

I found myself laughing and almost crying, because that felt like the day I had.

That day at work, I was so worried over having certain needs met and meeting the needs of others, that I scurried when everything was going to turn out okay, anyway.

Those silly birds, that fought over bread crumbs, flocked together no matter what.

From there on, I decided to choose one thing to observe within that weekly coffee break: from the people in cars driving home to my breathing.

Mindfulness was brought intentionally into other daily rituals. For example, when getting dressed in the morning, I take in everything possible: the cool air on my wet skin after a shower or the feel of fabric soft on my skin.

Mindfulness sneaked its way into my morning drive to work and in evenings when I walk the dog. Instead of cursing at stopped traffic, I notice my breathing, and calmly call in late if that’s going to be the case.

Instead of rushing the dog along on his walk, we take in the evening air.

I’ve noticed the seasons changing in more detail. I have let go of stress and recognize what is outside of my control.

Stress can be addictive. Maybe you work in a stressful environment like I did and want to shift your perspective by being more mindful. Maybe life feels too mundane or routine. All of that was true for me, but bringing mindfulness into my daily life became the day I started living.

Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective.  Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. She writes an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. You can also find her on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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