For a better life

5 steps to combat this epidemic of loneliness

In my church community I often hear women say that they don’t feel like they fit in. Younger women, older women, those who never married, career women, those who long for children and stay-at-home moms. Age or status doesn’t seem to affect this epidemic of loneliness. The crafty women say they don’t fit in because they aren’t “hip” or “cool.” The career women don’t feel like they fit in because they aren’t available during the day for play dates and meet ups. The moms feel isolated from everyone because they are tethered to home, reliant upon nap times and feeding schedules. The single women are different because they were never able to find a spouse. Everyone feels lonely and nobody seems to want to take the first step to overcome it!

In this age of “social” media, we are more lonely than ever. Online tools are great for facilitating social activities, but showing up in person is still required if you want to meet new people or continue your current friendships, at least at a minimum level.

So what do we do about this epidemic of loneliness? Depression and anxiety are sky-high. The pressures of our western culture are driving us apart– and toward mental illness!

Just like everything else I teach, it has to be up to the individual. You only have control of you. You can’t wait for someone else to invite you over– that might never happen. Not because there aren’t people out there that want to get to know you, but because they don’t know who you are! You have to overcome your fear and put yourself out there. Define who you are so that your tribe will know!

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I have lived most of my life feeling separate and different from everybody else. I would always complain to my husband late at night before we each drifted off to sleep, about how the other moms didn’t like me. Nobody seemed to reciprocate my invitations. I talked too much and was too outspoken. Eventually I got to a place where I thought I didn’t need any friends, per se, because I had long-distance friendships and it was okay that I only had a few girlfriends. I tried to cover my feelings of loneliness with an “I don’t need them anyway” attitude. But deep down, I still craved more friendship and face-to-face interaction. I wanted people to want to be around me. Essentially, I wanted to know that I mattered to someone other than my husband and my kids.

Then I realized that I wasn’t the kind of person I would want to hang out with! I was showing up in my life in a way that didn’t invite others in. When I had thoughts about how others didn’t like me, or how I said the wrong thing, it would make me feel insecure and shy. When I felt insecure and shy, I tended to clamp my mouth shut and stay in the safety of the corner at a gathering. I probably gave off that “Don’t talk to me” vibe.

Well of course few people befriended me! My actions were probably scaring them away– and these actions stemmed from those thoughts about other people not liking me. And the kicker? Most likely my thoughts were pure fiction.

I’d like to offer 5 steps that you can implement into your life to combat the loneliness you feel:

  1. Watch your thoughts. Are you making up fiction in your mind? What is fact and what is just a thought in your mind?
  2. Put yourself out there. People who love you just the way you are, wait patiently for you to reveal yourself to them. Make the first invitation. Host the party. Tell others your passions and desires.
  3. Be the kind of person you would want to spend time with. When you do this you will be a magnet for the exact people you seek.
  4. Brave rejection. It’s probably going to happen. But it doesn’t mean you don’t matter. Don’t make everything mean something about you; maybe that other person is just having a bad day, or even a bad year!
  5. If someone doesn’t like you, don’t take it personally. You are like a peach. A perfectly ripe and juicy peach. Anyone who doesn’t want to eat that would be crazy! But you know what? There might be people out there who just don’t like peaches. And that’s ok.

When we each start creating positive stories about ourselves (and others) in our minds, we will find the community and belonging we crave. How will you change your story?

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For a better life, parenthood

Happy Mother’s Day

I truly hope Mother’s Day brings you joy today. Whatever your previous feelings about this designated day, may you feel the way you would like today!

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I myself have conflicted feelings since my own mother has been gone for 17 years. And often my expectations are a set up for disappointment. Today I have chosen to just allow whatever happens to happen and to feel grateful for another day on this earth, to feel grateful for the opportunity I have to be a mom to my children– who are amazing people! I am grateful for a husband who has partnered faithfully with me on this parenthood journey. And I am deeply indebted to the many mother figures I have had in my life, both before and after my own mother passed away. Each of you has made me into the person I am today, and for that, I am indeed grateful.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, literal and figurative.

For a better life, Inspiration, parenthood

Mother’s Day drama

For us conservative Christians, Mother’s Day can dredge up a range of emotions. For those who are not yet able to be mothers or who have strained relationships with their own mothers, it can be a painful reminder. For those who are mothers but feel like they are not measuring up to the steep calling, a feeling of inadequacy can dominate the day. For some, unfulfilled expectations dash hopes of what the day was meant to be. And for others, Mother’s Day is a wistful reminiscing of happier days gone by.

As you can see, many feelings abound.

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Mother’s Day means something different to each person. Is it for the children of mothers to show their love? Is it for the mothers who need a rest and a little spoiling for all their hard work? What about grandmothers and aunts and cousins and those who didn’t literally bare their own children but are nonetheless mothers to so many around them? Who is this day for, exactly? Is it possible that is it for all of the above and none of the above?

My point is that each person has their own ideas of what Mother’s Day “should” be. What is your expectation? Is it possible to eliminate our expectations of Mother’s Day so that we won’t be disappointed? Can we allow Mother’s Day to simply unfold however it may, and love it for what it is?

What story do you tell yourself about Mother’s Day? I challenge you to step outside of your story and be an interested observer in order to dial down the Mother’s Day drama. Please let me know how it went.

Inspiration

Happiness Hack #4

This morning on our regular radio station, the DJs were discussing the reason why people buy their 16 year old new driver child a brand new car. There were a lot of people that chimed in with their opinions, but I couldn’t help but view this situation through the lens of life coaching.

There could be a variety of different reasons why someone might buy their teenager a brand new car (could they buy me one too?), but ultimately it all ties back to their feelings.

Everything we do, or avoid doing, is because of a feeling we are trying to get to or trying to avoid.

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In my opinion, a parent with the financial capabilities and who would buy their child a brand new car, probably is tying their own feelings to what their child is feeling. So many parents do this! When your child feels good, then you feel good too. When your child is upset, then you feel upset as well.

Buying that shiny new car will make the kid squeal with delight, and then the parent gets to feel good also. The problem is that the novelty of the car will wear off. And then what? The kid doesn’t feel good so neither does the parent.

I’ve learned through personal experience that it is far better to feel good, despite what our kids are feeling. This could relate to anyone in your life, really. Don’t tie your feelings to someone else’s feelings.

Can you think of times when you have done this in your parenting?

For a better life, Inspiration

Future You

This little exercise has been very helpful to me as I try to become a better person through these life coaching ideas. Here it is:

Imagine the Future You. What does she look like? How does she dress? More importantly, how does she think, particularly in the area of improvement? What does she NOT worry about?

For example: I want to become a life coach. Sometimes, though, the thought scares me and I wonder how I will ever make it. But then I think of me in the future. I imagine myself as a life coach and see how I think, feel and act.

Slowly, I am becoming her.

What does your Future You look like? Can you envision yourself in a new way?

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For a better life

A Look at Resentment

What is resentment? Why do we have it? How can we overcome it?

Resentment is difficult to define, and my search for a concise definition proved unfruitful. To me, resentment is a feeling of anger mixed with unfairness or unjustness. So from the beginning a feeling of resentment pre-supposes a judgment on our part, either about a person or a situation. Often the “unfairness” of the situation is a subtle thought that creeps into our mind without us even realizing it.

Wikipedia said that resentment is “the foundation of hatred.” Whoa.

I have resented my husband and my children so much in my life. But I don’t ever want to admit to hating them!

I have often resented my husband when he was off on business trips, eating fancy food and seeing new places, up late having fun with co-workers while I was “stuck” at home taking care of sick kids, the same old drudgery of stay-at-home-mom life.

I resent my kids when I am left to clean up after them– yet again! When will they learn? Why do I even allow that?

Feelings like these, when left unchecked, can poison our inner selves. We need to examine our thoughts and feelings surrounding resentment to figure out why we are feeling that way. Once we know why, we can move forward in overcoming it.

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Case in point: As kids are prone to do, mine often don’t do their chores. Everyone has chores because everyone in the family helps make the messes, so everyone helps clean the messes. When I am left to clean up after someone who shirked their responsibility, I often feel resentful. I feel like it is unfair that I have to do their job.

“I have to do their job.” That is just a thought, a story I am telling myself. Is it true? Not always. In fact, rarely. I could leave the milk out and allow it to spoil. I could forgo running the dishwasher and then we will run out of forks. And then what? Someone will have to wash a fork by hand. Oh my.

But I want it done. It’s important to me, and I want it to be just as important to them. But they are kids! What kid makes their weekly chore an important matter?

Once I see that I don’t “have to” do their chores, it becomes my choice. And when it becomes a choice, I take ownership over it. There is no longer an unjustness about the situation. The resentment is released.

I also don’t “have to” stay home and take care of the kids while my husband is away. I could hire a babysitter or nanny. Ultimately being with them, taking care of them, is my choice. It’s not unfair, because that’s what I have chosen to do and nobody is forcing me. When I tell that story, I no longer feel resentful.

I hope this helps you identify and overcome the resentment in your. Resentment doesn’t feel good, and I want you to feel good about your life!

For a better life, Inspiration

Another thing about judgement

I earlier posted about ways to deal with other people’s judgements of you. I realized one important thing to think about regarding judgement that I left out of that other post. It is this: allow other people to judge you.

I know, it’s not life-shattering. Other people WILL judge you. It’s the human thing to do. And you can take it as feedback or you can let it go. Not all judgements mean something about you, in fact that is rarely the case. Usually other people judging you means everything about them.

It’s okay if people judge you. You don’t have to make it mean something about you.

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I think we often get into this with parenting our children. I know my kids often want or don’t want something because of what they think their friends will think about them. I often tell them, “I don’t care what your friends think/have/do. I only care about you.”

I think we can apply that principle to ourselves too. Especially once we have strengthened our own confidence, we can care only about our judgements of ourselves.

Sometimes when we just allow the other person to have their judgement, that’s the most loving thing we can do for them.

For a better life, Inspiration

How to quit people-pleasing

Last time I left off with two questions: How do you quit people pleasing and What’s the difference between people-pleasing and just being kind?

Let’s take them in reverse order.

What’s the difference between being kind and people-pleasing?

People-pleasing is doing something for someone because you want a specific reaction from them. Being kind is doing something for someone else, motivated by love. People-pleasing is often motivated by fear. Do you see the difference?

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So how do you stop people-pleasing?

Firstly, you decide to quit.

Secondly, examine your own feelings and motivations. Why are you doing things for other people? What do you actually WANT to do?

Setting boundaries to protect yourself and your own feelings can be very helpful at this point. When you decide to make changes to the way you carry yourself, those who have been relying on you may…. backlash a bit. I will talk more about boundaries another time.

Quitting people-pleasing will boost your confidence, but increasing your confidence will also help you to stop the people-pleasing facade. When you believe in yourself, you won’t need to please others in order to feel good. Never forget that this is a process and won’t happen overnight. Two steps forward, one step back, but eventually we will get there.

Do things for others because you want to, not because you feel like you need to.

For a better life, Inspiration

Are you a people-pleaser?

People pleasing is something that many of us struggle with. And so many of us don’t even realize that it is a bad thing.

People pleasers want everyone to be happy. They often think that if they can make other people happy, then others will like them. They bend over backward to do what everyone else wants them to do (or really what they think everyone else wants them to do), even if it means sacrificing their own desires.

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So what is wrong with this?

  1. You can’t make everyone happy. It just isn’t possible 99.9999 percent of the time.
  2. You are often lying to please everyone else. What do I mean? When you agree to do something that you don’t actually want to do just to make someone else happy, you are essentially lying to them. “I’d love to make cupcakes for the class party!” And then later you are resentful and angry because you “have to make cupcakes.”
  3. Other people can’t tell what you want unless you speak your truth. They will continue to take advantage of you because that’s what you are teaching them to do with your willingness to do what they want. In the meantime you might be a seething, resentful, passive-aggressive person toward them.
  4. The praise you get when you have pleased someone else boosts your self-esteem. Essentially you are giving other people the power to make you feel good. Which also means you give them the power to make you feel bad if they don’t respond in the way you hope. Who wants to give someone else that much power over their feelings?
  5. You are never happy. You are so busy making everyone else happy that you lose sight of what truly makes YOU happy. It often comes to a screeching halt when you’ve had enough, but then there is only yourself to blame for allowing it to go too far.

So…. are you a people pleaser? And how do you quit? What’s the difference between people-pleasing and just being kind? I’ll talk about people pleasing more next time. Stay tuned!

For a better life, Inspiration

Happiness Hack #3

Do what you love to do.

Even if you feel like you have no time or money, find a way to include what you enjoy into your days.

Sometimes you may have seasons of more busyness. And sometimes your season will include more margin. Regardless, find a way– even some tiny thing– to do something you love every day.

What you love to do is often what you were meant to do. What is better than spending your time doing what you were meant to do?

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After blogging every day for a month, I went on hiatus for a week. It wasn’t on purpose, but I was out of town, visiting and helping a friend with some projects. We had friend time, we got a lot accomplished and we worked from morning until night. I thought I would have time to blog, but I didn’t. But I loved it. I loved being of service and I loved visiting with my friend. It fueled my soul so I can keep going with the big goals I have.

I encourage you to do the same. Life is so much better doing what you love.