Author Archives: admin

Do You Idealize Love?

Dogs in LoveMany of you might be thinking that no you don’t idealize love. Heck I’ve probably said that to myself many times but unknowingly was idealizing love. Here are some signs that you probably idealize love. Please note that sometimes we fall into a trap of idealizing love in different ways. Perhaps the way you idealized love when you were a teenage is largely different now that you are in your forties.

  1. Have you or are you currently trying to make a relationship work with someone who doesn’t love, respect and / or treat you well? Having any of these qualities in your relationship shows that there is a problem and you may be idealizing the love you have. I once fell hard for a guy who did not love me. Worse, he didn’t even care to try to get to know me. He had no interest in learning about my life, my interests, nothing. Most of his interest in me was just because he was physically attracted to me and seemed to enjoy the attention I gave him. For some reason I believed because of this profound love I felt for him, that the universe had to work in my favor, that he would come to love me on his own, would one day have this desire to suddenly get to know me, and whatever reasons I came up with to keep feeding my fantasy. How did this end? Well we could never even become close to being friends and ultimately we both moved on with our lives. With my first serious boyfriend there was mutual love and we both treated each other well enough, but the respect went down the drain after the first year together. Fights would happen frequently, we would ignore each other and make ups were great, but we never communicated or discussed our problems. For some reason it was simply easier to ignore the problems rather than work through them together. It just felt like the love we had for each other would magically make things okay. 
  1. Are you and your partner or past partners compatible? By compatibility, I mean do you both have similar values on long-term goals, can you be open and honest with each other, do you both genuinely enjoy spending time together? I once dated this guy for close to 5 months. There was physical chemistry, a spark, I enjoyed talking to him and just felt a general pull to him. However, after 5 months I felt we barely knew anything about each other. We did not seem like we even had a friendship. Talking about long-term goals was something I wanted to avoid. Traveling is important to me and I knew he wasn’t the type to leave the state, let alone the country. His political and religious views were largely different to mine and it was easy to toss that aside and focus on the chemistry and spark between us. My friends and family would comment how we didn’t seem to suit each other but I ignored it, feeling like they weren’t present during all the good times to truly know how the relationship was. When you are in love it is very easy to justify and lessen the importance of the obvious incompatibilities you have with someone. If you find yourself focusing too much on the chemistry, spark, physical connection and ultimately the way you feel about someone, yet ignoring things such as compatibility, values, aligned morals, how you handle arguments, how much genuine fun you have together, then you are probably idealizing love.
  1. Do you believe if you find love that everything will be great? Let’s get more specific. Do you avoid traveling because you would rather do it with a significant other? There’s no reason to do a cross country road trip through Europe unless it’s in the arms of a lover. Do you tend to let go of friendships and passions while in a relationship? With your significant other you suddenly don’t feel a need or want to do all the things that used to make you happy or to make a solid effort to keep in touch with your friends. Does your life feel empty just because you haven’t found love? You have great friends, a good career, a good relationship with your family, an adorable pet, a cool hobby and whatever else but none of it means anything because you just haven’t found that special someone. Does your life seem meaningless without a partner? Does the idea of being alone and without love scare you to the point where you consider that life may simply not be worth living? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions than are placing a much higher value on love than you should be.
  1. Do you tend to lose yourself in relationships? To clarify, what I mean is do you tend to sacrifice yourself to the degree where you lose your own self-respect and give up things that are important to you. Many people find themselves losing who they are in a relationship. Suddenly you can’t remember the last time you played guitar, even though you loved playing the guitar when you met your partner. Your friends who have always been there for you are suddenly harder to get a hold of now that you have settled into your relationship. The goals you had for yourself have been put on the back burner. Do you find yourself trying to please your partner constantly? Perhaps your partner has to talk to you for two hours every night before you go to sleep therefore you aren’t focusing as much on school or work, and find yourself constantly stressed before you go to sleep. Maybe your partner frequently threatens to leave you or has cheated and lied to you which leaves you on edge, feeling insecure about yourself and always trying to find new ways to get your partner to not stray from you and to ultimately love you. Are you tolerating disrespectful behavior from your partner so that you can earn their love? Do you feel like you need to constantly work to make yourself seem valuable and lovable to your partner? Is being you just not enough to maintain the relationship or your partner’s interest?
  1. Do you tend to believe relationships should always be easy? There are people who believe that any type of arguing or fighting in a relationship is unhealthy. Arguing does not fit their view of what a relationship entails. Any sign of conflict shows that a relationship is not worth being in because it does not match your views. If two people love each other, things just magically work. These people tend to quickly leave relationships once issues arise or start looking for someone better when they realize their partner has flaws and is nowhere close to perfection. Some people feel the desire to leave a relationship or cheat once the initial excitement of a new relationship wears off. If you have similar feelings then you may be idealizing love and associating it with the exciting feelings of infatuation.
  1. Do you believe that someone must love all of you, including your addictions and poor habits? Although it is true that we should desire a partner who accepts our flaws and appreciates our quirks, this does not mean that a partner should encourage us to have damaging behaviors or that because someone loves us, that means that this person doesn’t want us to change and improve ourselves. I once dated a guy who I had no idea was doing drugs. I was absolutely shocked when he told me that he did drugs and even more shocked that he expected me to be okay with it. He felt that if I truly cared about him I would tolerate that he does drugs occasionally. He wanted me to be a partner that would simultaneously actively support and encourage him to stop doing drugs while being understanding and forgiving that he will continue to do drugs. His reasoning was illogical and he truly believed that if someone loved him, they would be fine with him doing hardcore drugs. That relationship ended shortly upon realizing this. A good friend of mine was in a relationship with a woman who suffered from severe depression, was unable to find a job and absolutely refused to go to therapy and seek help. My friend was so in love with her that the idea of breaking up with her seemed impossible and she felt he should love her just the way she is. Again, she took no action to seek help and was constantly miserable. Ultimately he did find the courage to end that relationship. Believing that your partner should accept or ignore habits and addictions that are destructive is idealizing the power of love. Alternatively, believing you must love and be with someone even if their actions become dangerous and abusive to themselves and others means that you are idealizing love.

Okay so maybe after reading this you have begun to realize that perhaps you do idealize love. Perhaps you even realized that you have a cycle of picking poor partners based on feelings of love or struggle with the idea of being single. So how do you stop the process of idealizing love?

1. Focus on yourself more. Prioritizing yourself is especially important if you are single or in an unbalanced relationship where you love, respect or value the other partner than they do to you. Learn to take of yourself. Nourish your friendships, get back into that hobby you used to love, find new passions that you can enjoy by yourself and do something nice just for you. One of the many reasons for prioritizing yourself is to realize that you can love life without having to depend on a partner and to allow yourself to see your situation more objectively. If your life is constantly revolving around your partner it is a difficult task to figure out what is actually best for you.  

2. Evaluate the compatibility you have with your partner. Be completely honest with yourself. Is this a person you can envision a very long-term relationship with? Do your values align? Is this person truly your best friend, the person who gets you, understands and supports you? Do you both want to live in the same area? Can you be yourself completely with this person or do you feel like you have a guard up around them? Does your partner appreciate and support you? Are you friends as well as lovers? How successfully do you resolve conflicts? 

3. Let go. Start the process of letting go of fantasies and people. If you are in a relationship that is full of toxicity, be honest with yourself about whether you are fantasizing that things will suddenly change. Many people often rush into marriage or children hoping that somehow a major event will change the relationship and their partner. Others believe that if they only give it a few more months or years their partner will go back to that person they once were in the beginning of the relationship. This is a fantasy. What you have with this person now is very likely what you will always get. Let go of the fantasy and accept the reality. If you are in love with someone who does not love you, either a partner who cannot commit to you or a friend who does not share your feelings, be honest about your unrequited love. Feelings can change but there is no guarantee. Waiting around for someone to develop feelings for you will often result in failure. The best thing to do is accept the reality and let that person go so you can find reciprocal and true love.

4. Learn to love yourself. Many times we accept poor relationships because we do not love ourselves enough to believe we deserve better. If you are unhappy with the relationship and feel you are not being valued, appreciated or respected then be honest about that. Be honest with why you are accepting poor treatment from a partner that you would never accept from a platonic friend. Learning to love yourself requires patience and a tremendous amount of effort. Surround yourself with people who genuinely love and support you. Start to establish boundaries for yourself so that you can identify how people should treat you. Be prepared to walk away when someone repeatedly disrespects your boundaries. Be kind and loving to yourself. Try to remember all the strengths and beautiful things about yourself. If you have flaws or things you don’t like about yourself then there is no better time than now to begin working on yourself. Create a life that you are happy with all on your own. When you are truly happy with yourself, you will attract people who are also happy with their own lives and will better complement you. Creating a happier life for yourself will also help you realize that you can be happy all on your own and that sometimes the best kind of love is the love you grant yourself.

5. Realize that you have control. It is easy to believe that love is out of our control. However, the opposite is true. Love is in your control. You can make the choice on how you go about entering relationships. If you typically fall into whirlwind relationships that end terribly, accept that you do have control over this pattern and can take steps to approach relationships more slowly. Your views of love can change and evolve. Do not fall into a victim mentality, believing that you have poor luck, attract terrible partners, that love isn’t real, that nobody will ever love you, that you are destined to be alone and other self-deprecating thoughts. You do have a great deal of control when choosing partners. Often times we purposely ignore red flags. A common mistake people make is coming up with justifications and excuses for someone disrespecting us. Some of these justifications may sound similar to you. “She lies to me but she suffers from severe depression so it’s okay. She’s going through so much right now.” “I didn’t hear from him for a month, but it’s okay because he just texted me saying he’s been busy with work.” “We fight a lot and her family hates me, but it’s okay because I love her and the chemistry is just off the charts.” “ A large majority of us enter and stay in terrible relationships because we ignore the red flags and will come up with many reasons to stay with our partner. This is in our control and has nothing to do with chance. Accept that you do have a large degree of control over your love life. Take responsibility.

6. Adjust your expectations. Evaluate your personal standards for relationships. They may need to increase or decrease. I have a friend who tends to go for guys who fit a certain mold. Her standards are extremely high and as a result she tends to attract men who are emotionally unavailable, have many options in the dating world and who ultimately will not commit to her. She meets great, kind, attractive and loving men all the time, who adore her, but she seems to not see them because they do not fit her high standards. This goes the other way as well. I know people who have low self-esteem and tend to choose partners also suffering with low self-esteem, which leads to a relationship filled with drama, anxiety and insecurities. Be honest with yourself about what you deserve in a partner and in a relationship. Manage your expectations about what a relationship will look like. Relationships will never be perfect and you’ll never find the perfect partner. Sometimes the right person for you has been right in front of you all along, but because you are chasing something out of reach, you never notice them.

 

Love is wonderful, unique and one of the best things about life. However, love is only all of those wonderful things if you are choosing partners who genuinely care for you, are compatible to you and where there is mutual respect, trust and love.

Experiences and Lessons in Sydney

It’s been about 8 weeks since I moved to Sydney, Australia. I’ve failed a bit at providing most people with an adequate update and I figured writing a list about Sydney from my perspective (at least after the first 2 months) would be a quick and easy start. :) I also wanted to combine this with lessons that I’ve learned and re-learned in the last couple of months.

First of all, moving here has been intense. Not only is this a new country for me, but it’s my first time living in a city. I still can’t believe it’s been about 8 weeks. It’s been such a short time but every week has been different and emotional. I’ve been lucky on many accounts. Finding a flat (apartment) was quite easy. Actually the one I ended up choosing was the first flat I looked at during my housing search. My flatmate (roommate) is very lovely and we got along pretty instantly. As many of you know, my job at Research Now, relocated me to the Sydney office. My job role is almost 100% different but the work culture at my company is the same. Everyone in the office is very friendly and in the past couple of weeks I’ve been going out with them more for drinks, board game nights, comedy and exploring the city. Every week I get another opportunity to connect with a coworker and ultimately learn more about someone else and make a new friend.

Meeting people has been surprisingly easy. Overall people are friendly and approachable. I’ve met really awesome people in unexpected and odd ways. I was also lucky to have met a Sydneysider here pretty immediately. He showed me around cool areas of the city, how to use the transportation, answered some questions about the culture, helped me feel welcome and encouraged me to get out more. This jump started me into not feeling as overwhelmed and fearful about being here.

The real challenge is making real friends but that comes with time and patience. I’ve made a handful of friends, people I can talk to about semi-personal things, plan stuff with, and who I really enjoy being around which is far more than I envisioned after 8 weeks. My experience here hasn’t been all positive. There are times where I’ve felt homesick, scared, hurt, cried and felt upset about some things and so on, but it’s all part of the adventure. I very much miss friends and family back home and the lack of that support system has become more apparent as the weeks go by. But regardless of that, I’m thrilled to be in Sydney and feel quite happy in this wonderful city.

Here are a list of observations and Sydney and some lessons I’ve learned from this experience so far:

1. The culture is laid-back.Work is nowhere near as stressful as it was back in Dallas. I do work very hard and I’m always busy at work, but the lack of constant overtime is wonderful. I feel like I have more time to enjoy other hobbies, focus on my own personal development and have fun outside of work.

2. The city is gorgeous. It reminds me quite a bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Sydney is very clean and well maintained. It’s also not very crowded. There are people everywhere, of course, but the city does not have the “crowded” feel that I typically get in large cities.

3. Aussies love to shorten things! Many people call me Mel. In the States, I can only think of maybe one person who ever called me Mel. Here, everyone calls me that. I still strongly prefer being called Melissa though. :)

4. People are very friendly here but you need to approach them and make that initial effort. I’ve met many people mainly because I approach them and strike up a conversation. Usually people don’t really approach you or go out of their way unless they are fellow expats and also actively looking to make new friends.

Lesson: Step out of your comfort zone. I’m pretty social normally but interacting with people who don’t know me, almost all the time, has taken up much of my energy. It’s exhausting to say the least but the moment when you click, connect or have something in common with someone is well worth it. The moment when someone invites you to lunch, an event, messages you for your number/email and texts you asking how you are randomly, shows you might be doing something right in this “making friends” department. I’ve never made this much of an effort at forming a social group and as uncomfortable as it is, it has paid off significantly. Everyone has different requirements socially but if you are looking to meet people and make friends, you have to be willing to say “yes” far more than “no” and be a bit patient with the whole process.

5. Everything is expensive, ridiculously expensive. I never thought of the States as having cheap clothing until I came here. I’m now kicking myself for leaving a few of my favorite clothes in the dryer at home. On a positive note, I am more aware of how much I spend on purchases and have saved more money here in Sydney than in the States.

6. There are so many opportunities to learn something new and develop hobbies in Sydney and it’s all relatively inexpensive (yes, I realize this conflicts with the prior point). Courses here can be from $100-400, at least at the local community college. I’ve started attending a Creative Nonfiction Writing course which has been a pure joy. It’s a great way to spend a few hours during the week, allows me to keep doing something I have a passion for and isn’t much of a monetary or time commitment. Sydney has other amazing courses too, and I’m planning to taken an improv course sometime in the next couple of months as well. I also live in the city so many of these classes are about a 10-30 minute walk away which isn’t bad at all!

7. Many of my favorite things to eat don’t exist in Aus. Many of you who know me understand that I love Morningstar products and I mostly have a vegetarian diet. I was practically raised on that stuff and there’s not too many options similar to those products in terms of taste and quality. There are other wonderful food products that I miss here but honestly, I often forget about them unless I’m craving them. I’ve found some new Aussie brands that I am starting to enjoy quite a bit (i.e., Tim Tams!).

Lesson: Letting go can apply to smaller things such as food. It’s okay to miss something but the benefits to letting go is allowing yourself to adjust to something different, new and maybe something better. I may miss some of my favorite food products but I’ve honestly been much healthier here in Sydney in terms of the foods I eat. The lack of my favorite foods has also forced me to step out of my comfort zone a bit and try things I may have otherwise ignored.

8. There are many areas in the city where dogs don’t have to be on leashes. It’s adorable and wonderful to see dogs without a leash and quite well trained. They don’t seem to run out in the streets or anything.

9. Asian food is amazing! I LOVE the Asian food here. It’s wonderful all around. I also love the Turkish and Lebanese food I’ve had here. However, it’s been tough finding other kinds of good food such as Mexican or vegetarian options. I’m very sure it exists here but it’s not as easy to find as I would be used to in the States.

Lesson: There are so many wonderful and unique things to try everywhere. It’s okay to train your gustatory palette to enjoy new favorite foods and it’s also okay to miss foods that aren’t readily available to you. A part of life is trying new things and better appreciating the things we often take for granted.

10. People drive on the opposite side of the road. At first this didn’t seem that unusual, especially since I was planning not to drive, but I forgot that this makes crossing the street a bit more difficult than anticipated. After spending a month here I’ve finally worked out the system (I think?) and can comfortably cross the street without panicking. I can also finally get in a car the right way and not freak out when someone is driving. I’m hoping after a bit more time I’ll be able to tackle driving a car here.

11. Aussies like Americans… honestly I’ve even heard from various folks that they love Americans. I have been genuinely surprised at the amount of interesting questions I get about the States and how people love to discuss the cultural differences. It’s quite fun and welcoming actually. I sort of imagined that Aussies might have a dislike of the States but overall, it’s been quite positive. Talking to Aussies about the States has actually made me notice and appreciate some wonderful things about my homeland. I’m feeling more proud to be an American now that I’m living in Australia. Who would have thought haha? Also, the kinship I feel when I meet fellow Americans is also quite surprising. 

12. The humor here is different. Actually a week ago, this lovely girl explained it to me fully and it finally clicked for me. The sarcasm here is deadpan but what really surprised me is that people build upon the sarcasm and enjoy it. In the States people typically say a sarcastic statement and we might say one sarcastic statement in return or simply ignore it. Here in Aus, people just build and build upon it. Once this girl pointed it out to me and explained how it was fun, the differences finally clicked for me.

Lesson: I truly believe that humor can be shared, learned and embraced. We all are funny in our own ways. Share your humor with the world and don’t be afraid to try to learn a different type of humor even if it’s difficult and takes time. Laughter is one of the forces that joins people together. Don’t allow yourself to miss out on this gift because you don’t quite understand something or know how to participate. Now that I’m embracing it and hanging out with more people who have different styles of humor, it’s much easier picking up on the humor and trying to play along. Remember that this takes time and also requires you to be around the right people who encourage you to laugh and can be forgiving if you don’t get something right away.

13. The college experience here is loads different than in the States. Most students at university tend to live at home and don’t travel too far from home for college. Many people are still close friends with people they know from high school! I imagine the college experience in Australia is not very free and wild like it can be in the States. Aussies do tend to travel more internationally but it’s not uncommon to hear that an Aussie has not really explored their own country too much. 

14. The Winter has been quite warm. And by warm, I mean California warm. Sydney Winters are nowhere near similar to what is experienced in much of the US. It’s quite amusing to see Sydneysiders complain about the “cold” weather, that in my opinion feels amazing. But I’m sure I’ll assimilate over the next couple of years and start feeling cold in 60 degree weather too.

15. Speaking of 60 degrees… Australians use celsius instead of farenheit. Also explaining how I lost about 2 kilos vs. 1 pound has been amusing. I do prefer writing the dates the way Aussies do it… which would be 25/5/2014 vs the US 5/25/2014. There’s some things I prefer and other things I don’t prefer but it’s all just subjective. Regardless I’ll need to get used to the Aussie standard for the next couple of years or so.

16. Public transportation is easy and relatively inexpensive.At first I was a bit hesitant about taking it but it’s pretty simple to figure out. I still prefer walking but long train rides are pretty awesome too.

Lesson: One of the most underrated but fun parts of exploring is the actual process of traveling whether it’s by car, train or walking. I’ve seen many areas of Sydney by using all sorts of transportation. By walking I’ve been able to discover some rare and hidden alleyways, delicious and hidden restaurants and some interesting stores. Trains are great for reflection, reading or just people-watching while enjoying lovely music. I get to see a bit of the scenery and learn more about the suburbs of the city. 

17. There are megabats here! Yes, very large bats (over a foot long) and they are EVERYWHERE. It’s breathtaking to look out at the sky and to see them filling up the skies and to hear them screeching in the trees.

Lesson: There is beauty everywhere and often it’s unexpected or unusual. Looking out at the darkening skies of Sydney and seeing those massive wings in the sky just reminds me of that strange beauty.

18. People can come off as a bit impolite in the city. As a disclaimer, I’m not sure how much of this is a “city” thing or an “Aussie” thing. When navigating through the city, people tend to not say hello, good morning and tend to avoid looking at you. Even worse, is people tend to keep walking in their direction without stepping out of that way. I suppose I’m used to getting out of someone’s way if I’m walking and about to collide into someone, but people here just keep walking and somehow it works itself out in some odd manner.

Lesson: Continue to treat people how you wish you were treated. At first, I was a bit shy about saying hello, good morning or smiling to someone who didn’t seem to return it but now I just do it, and the lovely thing is, over time (especially when you encounter the same people walking to work or at the store) people start saying it back, smiling in return and just treating you more kindly. Suddenly a grouchy store owner who didn’t like talking to me the first couple of times, suddenly is smiling and super nice to me whenever I walk into the store or I receive a kind smile from someone who always passes me on my way to work. Spread the kindness when you can and however you can, because you never know how positively it’s impacting someone’s day.

19. The birds are gorgeous. I remember during my first week here and it was raining there were lovely birds everywhere. I saw gorgeous cockatoos lining the buildings and parakeets in the trees.

20. Some words that have very normal and appropriate meanings in the States, can be inappropriate or offensive elsewhere. Root is one of those words. After telling a coworker that I am rooting for their team, she had to explain to me that this is not an appropriate word to use in the office. Feel free to google what “root” means in Australia.

21. There are bugs everywhere! My company office had maggots crawling through the walls. I saw a cockroach on my desk at work. This fancy hotel I stayed in for the first couple of weeks had a mini-cockroach and my flat had 2 huge cockroaches that my lovely flatmate had to kill. Restaurants, even really nice ones, have bugs in them. In the States, hotels and restaurants could get their image negatively ruined if that occurred but here in Aus it seems to be more acceptable.

22. Dating customs are a bit different here. For the record, this is not from my personal experiences dating here but stuff that a few Aussie women and men explained to me in various ways over the last month or so and will obviously not apply to everyone. Some people have explained to me that things are more equal here in terms of paying for meals and such (in the States, men may have more pressure to pay for things for a longer period of time) and that girlfriends get a lower priority over family, friends and work. I’ve heard such odd things about dating from various people such as how women need to be a bit forward to find a decent guy in Sydney and how the dating pool is rather poor in Sydney, but again, this is not from my experience but interesting things I’ve heard.

Lesson: Dating can be a pain and finding the right person for you is going to be tough but that can happen anywhere in the world. Try to be open-minded about the kind of people you will encounter and stay true to what you are looking for in a relationship and hopefully you’ll find someone who treats you right and enjoys you for you. All the other dating differences hardly matter outside of that.

23. I am drinking far more here than I ever have before. Many of you reading this know I don’t drink alcohol that much and never get drunk. Well I’ve gotten smashed probably 3 times this week alone. I’m not sure if this is a good thing just yet, but it is reflective of the culture and for some reason I love the alcohol here far more than in the States. In the future, I’ll just work on moderating how much I drink and understanding my own personal limits

24. Aussies don’t tend to walk you home or make sure you get home safe. On a few occasions it has happened and someone has offered to take me home, but in general you tend to go home alone or someone helps you get a cab.

25. People in Aus are very humble. I’ve noticed that when I give a genuine compliment, people tend to respond with modesty and try to downplay the compliment. I’m used to people in the States just saying “thank you” and accepting the compliment.

Lesson: Being modest and humble is a good thing. Being proud of your achievements and individual strengths is also a good thing. I strive to find a balance between those two things and I know being in Aus will really help with me being a bit more modest and humble in my life.

26. If I do something loud, obnoxious or rude, it’s somehow an American thing to do lol. I don’t mind the comments but it is funny how people take one statement and call it “American.”

Lesson: Be aware of how your culture strongly influences you to be who you are. Also, enjoy the differences even if there are sometimes negative connotations. It’s all about perspective. And it’s much easier to laugh about it, than take offense. :)

27. Diversity in Australia has multiple meanings. Everyone here says Aus is very multicultural. This is true because there are many cultures represented in Australia but mainly from a Caucasian and Asian background. Coming from the States, diversity involves Latinos, Blacks, Caucasians, Asians and so much more. However, the States tends to have a melting pot of ethnicities who are all typically American. In Australia you meet so many people from different nationalities and countries. Some of you are aware that I’m a blend of African-American, Latina, Caucasian and Native American. In the States, people can usually guess my blend fairly accurately. In Aus, due to the lack of African-Americans and Latinos, people tend to guess that my ethnicity is something completely different. At a game today, I asked a group of people what they thought I was. Most of them guessed Filipino, Maori, Indian, Sri Lankan, etc.

28. Speaking of diversity I haven’t met many Americans here. Actually after being here for almost 2 months, I’ve gotten used to the Aussie accents to the point where when I hear an American accent it’s quite obvious. Haha I even forget that I have an American accent until someone points it out. Anyway, Aussie accents are quite lovely. Even the way they say certain things is so unusual but adorable such as how they use “proper” in their phrases. For instance earlier today this girl said to me, “he is my first proper boyfriend. You know, my first proper relationship.” Adorable!

Lesson: Everyone has a beautiful and special trait reflective of their personality and looks. This also extends to the voice too. I’ve found the accents that some people have to be particularly gorgeous. When I share this with that person, their response tends to be a bit baffled or surprised at the compliment even though it is 100% true, at least from my perspective.

 

So here are a list of my favorite places which I’m sure will keep expanding.

My favorite things so far…

Hyde Park. This is my absolute favorite park in Sydney. It’s small but beautiful. I’ve found myself sitting near the fountains in this park and adore people-watching, admiring the beautiful church nearby and the contrast between the lovely scenery and the city. I’ve been here on rainy and sunny days and it’s always wonderful.

 

Rivareno Gelato – I love the gelato here, I absolutely love it. Need I say more? The gelato is mindblowing and it’s my comfort food whenever I feel like I need a day brightener.

 

Taking the train. I love whenever people invite me to their places so that I can take a nice train ride. The whole experience is really relaxing and a fun way to explore the city.

 

Meeting new people. I have had a blast meeting people here in Sydney. Everyone has been very friendly and nice and it’s fun meeting someone with similar interests. I have a friend I enjoy going to lunch with, another who loves board games, a coworker who loves to randomly explore Sydney with me and a flatmate who I enjoy having deep and personal discussions with.

 

Walking to different areas of the city. I always see something new and unusual. And it’s pure joy to have accomplished something small such as being able to get home without using my GPS or being able to figure out a meeting point somewhere at Bathurst and George St. without having to look at a map.

 

10 Steps To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Many of us are guilty of comparing our lives to others. This comparison can happen with any area in our life and the negative feelings associated with this can occur at any time. During 2013 I really struggled with this problem. It was rather frustrating because I genuinely like my life, am happy with my accomplishments but the comparisons made it feel like it was not enough, that somehow I was not doing as well as I should be as my peers. For instance, over a year ago, a terrible relationship with my ex ended. I’d find myself comparing my situation with another. I suddenly felt it was unfair or that I was just a failure. Yes, an occasional self-pity party occasionally happened. In reality, I should have been happy to be out of relationship filled with abuse, cheating and lies, and finally moving on from that toxicity. And being single is wonderful and that time alone allowed me to process the breakup, become a stronger person, redefine what I want in a partner, reassess the kind of person I want to be in a relationship, solidify friendships, travel and enjoy just being by myself. Yet, seeing or hearing someone have a completely different and more positive experience than myself, would somehow make me feel inadequate. I’m sure some of you can relate to this. It can happen with relationships, wanting to have children, being unemployed or feeling like you are at a place in life where you don’t have a strong social network. Maybe you feel content with your current situation or are a little unhappy about it, but somehow hearing or seeing something makes you not only feel inadequate but like a failure.

Accept that life has its highs and lows. Yes, your life is in many ways more blessed than others. And yes, your life may have its share of problems. The truth is, everyone’s life has a combination of blessings and problems and it’s all very subjective. In the writing world, I’d hear some struggling writers who have not yet published a book feel guilt and resentment towards a fellow colleague who has had a successful writing career. Yet, I’d know this “successful” writer and know that she was unhappy with her social life and had some family issues, secretly envious of these struggling writers who seem to have a more supportive social network. And that’s just life. Right now, I’m thoroughly happy with my career, but a couple of years ago I was not. Your life will never consistently be perfect by your own standards. In some ways your life will be going great, and in other ways it will not. What you view as disappointments, another might view more positively or be envious of.

Stop focusing on the lows. With my ex, I had spent so much time focusing on the many betrayals that had occurred. In comparing my life, I felt stupid (how did I allow myself to get in such a bad situation?), I felt helpless and I began to wonder how my life had come to this point. I was so focused on this one low, that I almost defined the current state of my life by it. It took a wonderful group of people to remind me of all the wonderful things in my life that I currently have. And once I placed more focus on the good parts of my life, it helped me place less importance on the low points.

Focus on your assets and skills. You have something that you offer to someone. Maybe you are the social butterfly of the group, always making people feel comfortable. Maybe you’ve always been a hard worker who is reliable, timely and efficient. Maybe you are the person people come to for love and support. You have many positive assets that you offer to others. Remember those so you can always remind yourself of how special, unique and wonderful you are.

Remember how your life has changed in positive ways. Remind yourself of the wonderful highlights of your life over the past few years. What have you achieved? How have you improved? What new skills do you have? How have you surprised yourself? Which negative behaviors have you dropped? If it’s hard coming up with a list, ask a close friend or family member who you think might be able to help.

Try to view it in a different perspective. One thing I learned from my experience is that where I saw weakness, others saw strength. Many of my friends thought I was incredibly strong for how I handled things in my life even though I felt helpless and weak. A similar feeling happened when my friend was deeply upset about her job. She felt like a loser for working where she was at. However, when I look at her, I see someone who is a Mother, with 2 children, trying to support her family, who is still in college and making ends meet. Where she saw weakness and failure, I saw a strong woman doing what she can for her family.

You are a different package than someone else. You can’t compare yourself to someone who has different thoughts, actions, needs, desires and behaviors than you. For instance, I like to go out several times a week but also enjoy my own space and privacy. Comparing my life to someone who is more social than myself or someone less social does not make much sense. Trying to be more social than I want, just to fit a standard I think I should have would only make me feel less happy.

It’s normal to feel dissatisfied with certain areas of your life. I’m all about self improvement and that can only happen if you know that your life has room to grow and develop. Life is unpredictable. It’s okay to feel upset about a job loss, divorce, a sudden death or another tragic event. It’s okay to feel disappointment about certain areas of your life not going in the direction you had hoped. However, it’s important to know that there’s a line between feeling dissatisfied about an area of your life and making that dissatisfaction the focus and definition of your entire life.

Limit interactions with things that make you feel more inadequate. Try to think of things that trigger feelings of inadequacy. For instance, social media can sometimes trigger those feelings. If it does, maybe take a break from it just to detach. Find better ways to cope with feelings of envy. Try to distract yourself by doing something you enjoy and adds joy to your life.

This is YOUR life. Nobody else can experience your life but you. It’s your own story with its own beautiful highlights, lows and highs. Imagine how dissatisfying and boring life would be if people went through the same experiences and had the same successes. Learn to love who you are and to continually grow and develop into the person you want to be. Keep the focus on you and only you.

Be patient. All of these feelings are normal and everyone deals with feelings of inadequacy at some point. The battle of getting through it takes time and patience. I just moved to Sydney, Australia recently. It’s been tough going from an environment where I had an active social life and moving to a country where I only know a very small amount of people, have basically no friends, and have a difficult time calling and talking to friends back home with the time difference. I have to continually remind myself to feel patient with the process of making new friends and adjusting to a different lifestyle than what I’m used to and that’s totally okay.

How to Accept Change

Picture of Winter HikingChange happens whether or not we want it to. Sometimes change has to happen. Change is a natural progression of life. It’s natural and happens to all of us at some point. Change can sometimes be easy or difficult. Everyone handles change differently. Sometimes change is unexpected (death of a family member or divorce), you know it will happen (graduating or your job has informed you that your contract will end in several months) or you don’t even realize change is already happening in your life (maturity, changing values and opinions). Regardless, change is normal and a mandatory part of life. We are often unable to reach our personal goals or evolve if we are not willing to change. So how do we accept change? How do we allow ourselves to be happy with change and embrace it?

  1. Nothing is permanent. Change happens to everyone at any time. I can almost guarantee that you will never meet someone who has not had to go through a significant change. It’s a mandatory component of life, but once you accept that nothing is permanent, it will be easier to accept change when it happens.
  2. Become a self-observer. Try to become more aware of your own feelings and thoughts. Many of us try to ignore our own feelings, especially the negative ones. It’s easy to brush off the frustration of your current job when you really want to focus on how much you need the money. Perhaps you have been feeling disappointed with investing years in your current degree but want to just brush those feelings aside and not accept that it may be time to change. Make it habit to become more aware of how you are feeling. Make a note of when you feel upset, and try to pinpoint what exactly is making you upset. Eventually you will likely see a pattern over time. Understanding your own feelings will help you better realize how change may be necessary to become a happier person.
  3. Evaluate what makes you happy. When change is occurring, it often disrupts our focus. For instance dealing with a messy divorce may make you focus too much on the divorce and your ex rather than on things that make you happy. Losing a job might make you focus too much on the fact that you are unemployed than your own happiness. Take a step back and be honest with yourself about what actually makes you happy. The purpose of this task is to put the focus back on what makes you happy. For instance if being with friends or family makes you happy, spend a more time doing things that make you happy with the people who are likely a constant in your life. This will help you better cope and accept change.
  4. Reassess your standards. Now that you have identified what makes you happy, reevaluate what you need to have that happiness. Many of us get so wrapped up with the one way that your life has been going, that we forget that change can be different but still give us a similar outcome. For instance, you may be forced to accept a lower-paying job but at least you can still provide for your family, pay rent, and do some of the things that you still enjoyed. Or perhaps you need to take a leave of absence from college for a couple of years. It’s just a couple of years and you’ll still be able to focus on interests that make you happy and work, which will still enhance your goals for a career. Instead of giving yourself the same standards constantly throughout your life, adjust those standards for where you are at now. Eventually you’ll see that your goals may not be influenced as significantly as you thought they would be and this will help eliminate some negative emotions about this process of change.
  5. Relax. Change can cause quite a bit of anxiety and stress. During these periods it’s normal to sometimes feel anxiety, fear and even panic. You might find yourself becoming angry and frustrated with loved ones or even strangers. Now is the time to take a step back and to take care of you. Breathe, relax and find ways to just stay calm. Learn proper breathing techniques, exercise, spend more time doing a hobby that relaxes you; receive a massage or facial, etc.
  6. Accept that you cannot control everything. This is one of the main reasons that change can be very scary. We can’t control the future, how things will turn out, whom and what will be impacted. Change is risky but in actuality, there are many things outside of your control. Take time to truly accept this so that you can release that frustration.
  7. Let go. Change often requires us to let go of old attachments to be happy. This could include friendships, material items, loved ones, businesses, etc. I’m making a move to Australia sometime in the next few weeks. As a result, I have to let go of my car, my dog (will be with my family), say goodbye to close friends and family. It’s difficult but necessary for change. Having these attachments can create an unhealthy dependence on someone or something. It’s time to take a step back and finally let go. The process may not be easy but it is necessary for accepting change.
  8. Accept that you can’t control others. Change can be tough not only on us, but the people around us. People will have their own feelings and opinions about things and may not say or act in a way that we wish. For instance, your Mom might not be happy with your recent job loss and may be giving you unnecessary advice. Your spouse may not be as supportive about a life changing event as you wish. Your friends may not be there for you in the way you wish they would be after realizing that your ex-partner has committed an infidelity. You may get frustrated, disappointed and angry with people who are not acting the way you want them to, especially during this time of change. Learn to accept that you can’t control others. You can control your actions and behaviors and not theirs. This acceptance will put the focus back on your life and not placing too much dependence on what others say or do.
  9. Change is necessary for survival. Now that you have realized that we cannot control the world or other people, it’s essential to understand that change is necessary. You cannot control how a business will perform long-term and it’s essential for your survival to adapt to changes that may involve you needing to leave your job or finding another part-time job. You cannot control your spouse and whether she will want to go to counseling, work through the marriage, make sacrifices for you or even WANT the marriage to work, therefore it’s important to learn that at some point you may need to let that marriage go if you are the only person who is willing to make things work.
  10. Change helps our lives. Life may be chaotic, unpredictable and may have it’s ups and downs but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Change pushes us to grow in ways that we cannot possibly imagine. My life would be completely different and probably not as fulfilling if I had not accepted change, even the changes that were heartbreaking and painful. Sometimes the universe pushes us to have a life that is fulfilling and peaceful but that pushing often comes in the form of change.
  11. Give change a chance. Now that the change has already occurred, it’s time to give it a chance. I used to really dislike my current job. The first few months were tough. I didn’t feel like I completely got along with all my coworkers, it was different from what I got my graduate degree in and I worked a weekend shift which created problems in my social life. After 6 months of working there, I actually began to like it. Created really great friendships with my coworkers, adjusted my social life to the weekend shift and made peace with a lot of things. I now have many amazing opportunities because I gave this change a chance. Just like everything in life, change and new situations are unpredictable so there is no reason to try and predict an unhappy outcome from the beginning. Give change a chance. You never know how life will surprise you.

How to Nurture Your Soul

Sunset in San FranciscoA few months ago I had this realization that I may not be nurturing my soul enough. In other words, I haven’t been prioritizing my own happiness in the ways that I need to. Many of you may be able to relate to this feeling. Work, children and other responsibilities tend to take precedence over our own happiness. Having time to ourselves can often result in feelings of guilt.  We tend to be thinking about the next task that we need to do or just catching up on sleep. Over time this cycle wears at our being to the point that we neglect ourselves and find ourselves desperately needing to be nurtured but unable to figure out how to do it. Others may have neglected themselves so much that giving themselves any attention may seem selfish or undeserving. How do we get out of this cycle?

Here are some tips to help nourish your soul. Try applying at least one of these tips to your life every week.

  • Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend who was going through a similar experience. Sometimes it’s easy to assume that you are a failure. This thought leads to you not supporting yourself in the way you need to. It’s an easy trap to fall into. I’ve been through this myself. Sometimes what gets me out of this trap is imagining if a close friend was going through the exact situation. What would I tell them? Would I view them as a failure? Would I see them as someone who is undeserving of something or a person who has made mistakes? Would I support my friend or cast blind judgment upon them? Viewing yourself through this lens will help you realize that we are human, make mistakes, have flaws and deserve to take time out for ourselves.
  • Indulge your appetite with something you have been craving. Being healthy and staying in shape is very important. However, many researchers have shown that it’s possible and recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle and still eat the foods that you want. Devote a day or a meal to eating whatever you want in appropriate portions.
  • Find time to exercise. Try to exercise as a way to relax and not view it as something you need to do to burn calories or meet a workout goal. The best exercise for me is one where I feel good while doing it and after I do it. Avoid workouts that you hate. If you hate jogging then don’t do it. Find time to exercise or combine it with other activities that you find relaxing such as walking the dog, taking your baby out on a stroll or going on a scenic hike.
  • Make peace with people you have an issue with. Regardless of how recent or long ago the incident was, do what you can to make peace with that person. If you find yourself hurting others unintentionally or not, then apologize, be kind, be loving and know when it is time to step away and give that person space for healing. Depending on the extent of the pain caused, the person hurt or the both of you may need time apart to let go of past pain and learn to forgive. If the person is incredibly toxic to your life and is only causing harm to your life, then find the strength to leave them alone and accept that sometimes finding peace is walking away and moving on. Cutting people off is an incredibly difficult thing to do and I’ve rarely been successful at it, but if someone is hurting you with painful actions such as manipulation, lack of remorse and abuse then it’s time to cut the cord.
  • Find time to meditate or to think. This can be one of my biggest challenges. I don’t set aside time to really think about what I want and need in life. As a result, I am setting myself up for neglecting myself because I don’t even give myself adequate time and energy to identify those needs. Please note that identifying your needs will take time, possibly months or more. It requires a great deal of honesty and self-reflection that may begin with small needs to larger needs. Needs also change over time. Try to be patient with yourself during this process. The most important thing to do is to find a place away from distractions where you can think about your life.
  • Share kindness with people in your life. My own personal motto is to never fail to be kind to others. Doing this allows you to become more attentive to the needs of others. You also begin to appreciate certain aspects of your life more. An added bonus is that you begin to value and appreciate loved ones in your life. The more compassion I show to others only makes me appreciate the ways people have shown compassion to me. It feels great to be kind and I do believe that you attract positive karma when you strive to be a genuine and compassionate person.
  • Find time for rest. Rest does not just include sleeping either. Sleep is wonderful and is a good start if you find yourself lacking adequate sleep. However, rest can involve taking time to just do activities that relax you. These activities could include listening to music for hours, taking warm baths, walking in nature, napping or watching a movie. Think of an activity that genuinely relaxes you and helps you rest. Try to utilize these activities into your life regularly.
  • Accept the unfavorable things in your life. A part of life is dealing with situations, people and things that may bring out negative characteristics within us or cause annoyance. Our first thought may be to avoid these things or to become hostile when faced with them. However, these tactics do not nurture your soul. Again, if something is truly toxic to your life then walk away. However, if you are dealing with something that is unfavorable or you have to work with someone that you don’t like, learn to accept it for now. Acceptance will help you find peace. I recently had a conversation with someone where they were describing a friend she has had for over a decade. Her interactions with this person have been largely unfavorable to her life (not toxic) but she learned to accept her friend, strengths and weaknesses. As a result their friendship has been better overall. She appreciates her friend for who she is and understands her limits with that person, ultimately creating a safer environment for negative interactions to not occur.
  • Don’t neglect the things that give you joy. Work, family and other responsibilities of life can often give us excuses to neglect the things that give us personal joy, whatever that may be. No matter how busy you are, make time to do something you enjoy doing even if it’s just for a few hours every week. If you find yourself making excuses to not do something that genuinely brings you peace and joy, then that is a clear sign that you may be neglecting things that give you happiness.

There are plenty of other ways to help nurture your soul. It is up to you to find those things on your own. Hopefully these few changes you can make in your life will help you better nurture yourself. Again, every person is different, but taking these general steps should help you ultimately find what YOU NEED to better create a space where you can nurture your soul and learn to be happy with yourself.

12 Simple Steps For Living A More Peaceful Life

 Girls at Boarding SchoolI am certain that many of you have been in situations where your life seemed far from peaceful. Sometimes life can become so crazy that attaining peace seems near impossible. Everyone has their own meanings about what peace is, and this article is not meant to give you a strict definition of what peace will mean in your own life. You should search inside yourself to find what peace means to you. Furthermore, you should find specific ways that you can integrate peace into your own life. The following twelve suggestions are meant to help guide you on living a life that is peaceful.

  1. Become more tolerant. Learn to stop being so hung up on the things people choose to do in their own lives. At the end of the day, you live your own life and people can live their lives however they please. I remember a few years ago, I used to be more intolerant of the way people did things. It was annoying to see people doing things that I found to be inefficient, a waste of time or money, and that just seemed wrong. Ultimately, I ended up making myself feel and probably some of the people around me less happy. Learning to be tolerant of the way people live their lives, different beliefs and other perspectives has only helped me to become more open-minded and increased the general positivity in my own life.

  2. Encourage and support others. Live a life that is focused on encouraging others to be happy. Take more time to really give someone a compliment and actually mean it. Learn to look at the people in your life and truly appreciate them for who they are. Instead of spending time pointing out the mistakes someone is making or viewing their actions as stupid or annoying, take time to talk about the great qualities that make them who they are. Learning to see the good in people will help you feel more at peace.

  3. Appreciate the joy and beauty around you. Take time to really stop and smell the roses. Some of the things that really bring peace into my life is just walking around in a park and taking in the scenery. Spend more time noticing the beauty in the world. Instead of paying attention to negativity, learn to seek joy and beauty in the people and environment around you.

  4. Learn to forgive. Peace does not come by taking revenge on others and living a life full of anger and resentment. Currently, I am going through a tough spot where I need to learn to forgive someone for doing something bad to me. This is not easy, but I feel so much better trying to forgive, rather than mulling over what happened and planning revenge tactics. Forgiveness will truly help you to become a more peaceful person. Choosing to not forgive will cause you more pain and feelings of turmoil.

  5. Truly believe that you deserve peace. Some of us cannot attain peace because you hold on to the belief that you do not deserve peace. I remember reading a story about a woman who cheated on her husband. Things ended terribly and as a result, she ended up being physically abused and now has extreme feelings of low self-worth. She truly believed that she deserved to be unhappy because of her mistake to cheat on someone she loved. Although she did a bad thing, it does not mean she deserves to live a life of unhappiness. No matter what you have done, you need to accept that you deserve peace. There is no rule book saying who deserves peace and who does not. Everyone, ultimately, deserves peace.

  6. Find peace within your own life. Try to avoid getting caught up with the things that you don’t have. Always wanting more and more will keep you in a state of always desiring something and never being satisfied with what you currently have. Learn to appreciate what you do have and to count your blessings. Learn to be at peace with yourself. Reflect on the qualities that about yourself that you are happy with, and try to not spend so much time thinking about mistakes or regrets.

  7. Do things that make you happy. Start cultivating peace in your life by continuing to do the things that really add value to your life. Pay attention to the things that you do that bring true joy and love into your life. If writing brings you happiness, then make time to write. If spending time with your friends makes you feel happy, then try to not neglect your friendships. If you used to love playing sports when you were younger, then find ways to be more involved with sports now by possibly coaching a sports team or joining a team in your community.

  8. Avoid things and people that cause extreme amounts of stress in your life. When thinking about how to approach a situation, learn to do it in a manner that will avoid things that stress you out. For instance, if you have a really toxic person in your life, then try to find ways to minimize your interactions with that person. If you dread dealing with traffic everyday then find alternative ways to get to work such as leaving earlier in the day, driving an alternative route, or other options such as public transportation or carpooling.

  9. Practice listening. Some of us get into this habit where we become so consumed with our own lives that we spend more time talking about our own issues or giving advice to others. Although talking about your problems is healthy, and giving advice is a good thing, it is important to take time to listen to others. Listening will allow you to better understand a person, and be able to see things from their point of view.

  10. Be compassionate and kind to others. Learn to show kindness, even to people you may view as your enemy. You will find peace by not reacting with hostility to others. When approaching a tough situation, always try to make kindness your priority. If you find being kind to be difficult, then you may want to avoid the situation or limit your interactions with those people in the meantime.

  11. Be willing to make positive changes in your life. It is very likely that there are things you might be unhappy about right now. Perhaps you need to lose weight. Maybe you need to work on being less stubborn. Maybe you have a problem with lying that you need to work out. Whatever the issue is, try to begin making positive changes in your life and becoming a better person. Being able to make positive changes in your own life will better show how you can make positive changes in the lives of others and in the world.

  12. Share your peaceful knowledge with others. Start to preach what you are practicing. Help your friends try to live peacefully. Be willing to learn more techniques about how to live a peaceful life. As you learn, continue to share and spread this knowledge to others. Being able to share peace with others, will help you feel more at peace with your own life.

Steps for Recovering From Betrayal

 Wolf HowlingEach of our lives is full of different people, and one can never tell who will be a great friend in our lives and who may end up being a negative influence. Betrayal can happen to anyone at any time. It can be something that is unexpected or a situation where we received all the warning signs, but chose to ignore those warning signs. Betrayal can happen in so many situations and in a variety of ways. A close friend can divulge a secret about yourself to others. A colleague or coworker can make promises of acknowledging your work in a project, and then simply not do it. A close family member can suddenly stop speaking to you or even walk out of your life entirely. A spouse can cheat on you and leave you for someone else. You can be lied to by someone you trust and the list can go on and on. There are many ways that someone can betray you, and sadly it’s an experience that many will encounter to some degree.

As a result of betrayal you may end up feeling a wide range of emotions, many of which are hard to process at a given time. You might feel angry one day, depressed the next, have low self-confidence, torture yourself with questions about why this had to happen, feel shocked, disappointed, and dealing with not quite accepting that the betrayal has actually happened.

So now you are faced with the question of what to do? I’ve been dealing with my own situation involving betrayal, so here are my thoughts.

Accept your emotions. Remember that it is completely normal to feel hurt and nobody should ever tell you that your feelings aren’t normal. Take some time to write about how you feel and include all your thoughts. Speak to a trusted friend about what you are going through. Consider seeking professional counseling if you are experiencing very negative emotions about a situation. Professional counseling is pertinent if you are suffering from suicidal thoughts or intense feelings of low self-confidence.

Confront the issue. After you take a couple of days to relax, now is the time to explore what exactly happened. This process must be done respectfully. A part of accepting and moving on from the betrayal, is being able to really understand what happened. Try to think about all the events that led up to the betrayal. It’s important to think about all the events that actually did happen. During this time it can be easy to misinterpret what happened. You may forget that one thing happened, and over-focus on something else that did happen. This can cause you to incorrectly assess the situation and result in you feeling even more confused.

Communicate your feelings to the person who betrayed you. Be honest with that person about how he or she made you feel. Let them know you are upset, hurt or sad. Make it clear to them that you feel betrayed and how you feel unable to trust them anymore. Communicate with that person in whichever method you feel most comfortable. You can arrange to meet with them in person, speak on the phone or exchange a letter or email.

Take it easy on yourself. During this time you may have people telling you to not cry over him or her. You also might start blaming yourself for how things turned out. You must relax and give yourself a break. Cry as much as you need to. Don’t feel bad about turning down invitations from friends if you need some time and space to yourself. Certainly do not consume yourself with thoughts about how this happened because of you or the mistakes that you think you made. You did not choose to be betrayed. That was a choice someone else made and not something you asked for.

Work on your self-confidence. After being betrayed, it’s likely you may experience low self-confidence. It is important for you to take care of yourself and not let this situation change you negatively or make you feel bad about yourself. You are still a wonderful person, and it’s important you try and remember that. To build your self-confidence, work on surrounding yourself with positive friends or continue doing things that you really enjoy and add meaning to your life. Try to continue improving yourself physically and emotionally so you can visibly see the positive changes you are making in your own life.

Control your anger. Whatever happens, try to not respond with insults, unreasonable anger and with hateful words. I realize this can be difficult especially when the betrayal was unexpected or caused much pain. Either way, you do not want to look back at this situation and be ashamed of your actions. Again, it’s okay to be upset and angry but try to not take it out on others. It’s important to talk about the situation but be careful about who you divulge this information to and the method you go about doing it. If a colleague screwed you over, then it might be best to exercise some caution when discussing this with other colleagues or an employer, to avoid saying something you might regret. The same restraint should be shown with the one who betrayed you. The situation is already bad, and you saying unreasonably hurtful things may cause the situation to just get worse. Do not try taking revenge on someone either. You will only make yourself look immature and may possibly regret it later.

Try to foster positive emotions in yourself. Some mistakes people make after being betrayed may include listening to sad music, watching depressing movies, or reading books that may make you feel worse and have more doubts. Avoid all of that stuff. Watch positive shows or movies. Spend more time hanging out with people who are positive in your life. When thinking about how to spend your spare time, try to pick something that will make you feel positive. If possible, avoid doing things that might remind you of the person that betrayed you.

Learn to forgive. This is one of the hardest things for someone to do if they have been betrayed. The only way to really move on and let go of that pain is by learning to forgive. Holding a grudge over what happened will only make you feel worse and you will keep feeling stuck in the past. You will only be causing yourself pain by learning to not forgive.

Avoid being mistrustful of everyone. A common feeling after being betrayed is the fear that someone may cause you this pain again. This emotion can be very strong if you have been betrayed multiple times in your life. Regardless of how often you have been betrayed or the type of betrayal, you have to remember that although there are quite a few people in this world who will betray and hurt you, there are many people who are worthy of your trust. It’s okay to approach future interactions with caution and to take things slow when opening up to someone again, but it is not okay to assume that everyone is not worthy of your trust.

Make a decision about the relationship with the one who betrayed you. You will have to make your own decision about how to approach this relationship. You can get a divorce, continue the friendship, change jobs or cut the family member out of your life entirely. If you do decide to continue the relationship then there are two things that need to happen. You first have to be willing to forgive and trust that person again. Any type of relationship cannot survive when still mulling over past mistakes. I remember a situation where two sisters decided to be close again, and years later they stopped talking because the other person was still angry about an event that had happened years ago. There is absolutely no way to continue an interaction if you cannot forgive and trust the other person. Secondly, the person who betrayed your trust needs to prove that they are trustworthy. This person needs to show you that he or she understands your feelings and is willing to do what is necessary to earn your trust. Furthermore, the person needs to change harmful behaviors. A friend who abandoned you would need to show that they are trustworthy again by demonstrating that that he will always be supportive, there for you, and is reliable. A girlfriend who cheated on you will need to demonstrate that she can change some behaviors that led to her cheating and can be more open and honest with you.

Be positive about the future. Whatever happens, you have to learn to be optimistic about the future. You cannot spend a significant amount of time worrying about what’s happened and being fearful of what is to come. Many of you may have already been through situations that seemed scary and uncertain, but you were able to pull through it. Be excited about what might happen in the future and let yourself not be consumed with thoughts of negativity. You will be surrounded by trustworthy and loving friends. You will meet someone who will not betray nor hurt you. You will be in a situation where you get the respect you deserve.

Focus on building a life that makes you happy. Learn from the betrayal and focus on working to build a happier lifestyle. The future can be unknown when betrayed by someone important to you, but now is the time to start taking risks and doing things that make you happy. Do not attempt to get back into a relationship or friendship that makes you unhappy. Remember, that you can find happiness without that person and now is the time for you to focus on those goals.

Be patient. Betrayal is a terrible thing that many of us would like to never experience. It’s normal to be tired of feeling hurt and to want all the negative emotions to simply go away. The reality is that these feelings take some time to get over. You will need some time to get to a place where you can be completely positive and ready for some changes in your life. This process takes time and it’s extremely important that you continue to be patient about the process and have confidence that things will get better.

Stop Being a Spectator: How Action Changes Your Feelings

 Pandas Taking ActionMany of us can agree that taking action helps us achieve goals and make changes in our lives and relationships, right? However, even with this knowledge, many of us feel this incapability to take action, when action is necessary. I have been in plenty of moments where I felt depressed, sad, lonely or some other negative emotion and kept justifying my inability to take action. I had goals I wanted to achieve and knew what to do but kept trying to convince myself that I needed more time before taking action. There was a period of my life where months went by before I felt it was necessary to take action. I’m not exactly sure why either. Maybe I felt that there would be some sign that would help me take action or perhaps I was wishing for something unlikely to happen, such as things just improving on their own. Regardless the reason, I was not taking action which led me to feeling unhappy and staying at the same place I was at for a really long time.

Ask yourself if you ever felt like you were incapable of trying something new because you don’t feel ready or you feel too nervous? Are you unable to work on things in your relationship because you want to feel happier first? Do you not feel ready to pursue a relationship because you need time to lose more weight and feel better about your physical appearance? Are you in the same job because you need to feel more skilled in your field? If you have asked similar questions to these then it might be worth trying to understand why action creates change.

You feel better when you make changes. Many of us develop this poor belief that you need to feel better to make changes. We are constantly blaming our inactivity on having negative feelings. Fortunately, feeling better usually requires making changes. Imagine you want to lose weight but are feeling unhappy and poorly about your self image. Sitting around and having the same poor dietary habits and lack of exercise will only feed your negative feelings. Once you take action, and start changing your diet and making more efforts to exercise, you will start to feel better and feel more motivated to keep making changes. Or take another scenario where you are unhappy with your job. You constantly think you lack the experience to find another job and that you just need to wait until you feel more skilled to apply elsewhere. Instead what you can do, is start applying for jobs and doing interviews. You might be surprised at the compliments you receive or how people are impressed with the experience you do possess. Taking action does make you feel better, while doing nothing will probably make you feel the same or worse.

Actions are easy to change. Let’s be honest here. When is it ever easy to change your emotions? I have felt plenty sad about some things and wished to not feel sad, and guess what happened? I kept feeling sad! Wanting to not feel sad and trying to make myself feel happy by simply wishing and hoping was not doing anything. Actions, however, are easy to change. The last time I felt really sad, I started out by sitting around and just thinking and being sad. I realized what was happening and decided to take a long walk. Taking the walk helped improve my mood quite a bit. If I had just sat around, feeling upset, then nothing would have changed, but doing something simple like taking a walk, lifted my mood and helped me relax.

Actions help you grow. Everyone has a desire to keep growing and improving. It’s rare to find someone who is completely satisfied with every aspect of their life. Many of us want to continue developing. When you sit around and don’t take action, you are doing the same thing and not developing. No matter how much you think about doing something, until you do it, nothing will change. I had a friend who spent almost 2 years hating his job, resenting the fact that he didn’t finish college, upset that he didn’t have a girlfriend, didn’t have other hobbies to kill his time, and he felt depressed because he was overweight. Throughout those couple of years, he did absolutely nothing. He worked and made a decent salary, but past that, he was not making any changes and seemed to have excuses left and right about how he couldn’t make any of these changes until he felt better. This friend was dead set that one day he just might suddenly feel better, and things would change. One day he just suddenly quit his job and moved in with his brother, who lived about 800 miles away. It was the beginning of a more positive person. He found a better job, lived in a new environment, became closer to his brother, made new friends, and got a new girlfriend. More importantly, he realized that all he had to do to grow, was to take some more actions. After that experience, he was able to make another move, switch jobs and find new friends all on his own. You cannot learn new things until you take action.

Taking action helps avoid excuses and disappointments. Not being proactive in your life, inadvertently creates an environment more prone to excuses. I’m sure many of you have had the following happen. You tell someone close to you that you will do something in a couple weeks. You end up not doing it and using the same exact excuse. A friend of mine delayed learning to drive due to this exact reason. He kept making excuses. He would tell me that he was too scared or nervous to learn how to drive. Every time he had the opportunity to learn, he would use the same exact excuse. This lasted for years. Eventually when one asked him why he hasn’t learned to drive, he just gave a load of excuses. If he had taken action, he may not have used the same excuse so much and probably would have learned to drive.

Taking action helps you control the outcome of your life. When you take action, you are usually striving for an outcome that may or may not happen. If you want to lose weight then taking action with dieting and exercise will most likely help you actually lose weight. If you want to improve your relationship with a loved one then taking action by developing better communication and going to counseling, will most likely help improve your relationship. Taking action gives you the perfect opportunity to better control how you want your life to go. Simply standing by and seeing things unfold will likely lead you to feeling unhappy and you will feel a lack of control over your life. Taking action allows you to realize that much of your life is controlled by you.

Action helps build self confidence. As you perform actions, you are giving yourself challenges and giving yourself the opportunity to be a stronger person. You will feel increasingly proud of yourself for just taking these actions, even if you don’t reach the optimal result. A close friend of mine was finally taking action to resolve an issue he had for many years. Although he did not reach the optimal result, and is still working on these issues, he feels more confident for working on his problems. He has seen some noticeable improvements and feels proud of that. Taking action will build your self confidence and make you more aware of your strength.

Action will help give you a better foundation for coping with your emotions. The more you take action, when you are feeling negatively, the more likely you will develop a healthier pattern for controlling your emotions. Let’s take a situation where your life is relatively unstable and you have a history of feeling depressed or sad often. Taking action whenever you feel negative emotions, will allow you to better cope with these emotions and not be controlled by them. By taking action, you might learn that you need to exercise, write in a journal, go out with friends, or spend time doing your favorite hobby whenever you feel sad. Action allows you to better understand what you can do, to feel better. You start to feel less controlled by your emotions and have an easier time understanding how to cope with the emotions you feel.

Taking action will surprise you. To be surprised you need to be active in your life. You will never know what lies just around the corner, until you take action. Much of the blessings I have are because I decided to take action when times were rough. Ending a really dependent and abusive relationship allowed me to pursue more positive friendships and relationships, allowed me to focus more on my own goals, and helped build my self-confidence. Taking time to eat healthier and focus more on exercise helped me develop a healthy method for staying in shape. Taking appropriate actions to educate myself and polishing up my resume allowed me to apply and obtain better jobs. So many more blessings in my life occurred from me just taking action in my life. The same applies to you. Staying in the same situation and not doing anything will rarely get you anywhere. Take more action in your life, and be surprised at where the action can take you.

Remember, with action there is change. Change cannot happen while you sit around dwelling through thoughts or wondering what things might be like if change happens. With action, you can change things now.

The Downsides to Distrust

Some of us are able to trust people naturally while many of us battle with issues that revolve around being able to trust others. Unfortunately, it’s likely that someone will eventually take advantage of you or compromise your trust. Your trust can be compromised multiple ways. Someone might be by stealing your money either through scams or fraud, or someone might be lying to you, or you might find out that what you are buying is truly not what is being promised to you.

Angry BunnyI will be honest and admit that I am a person that is not very trusting at times. I’m sure my lack of trust has saved me from some scams but it can also hurt my relationships or make me not have as much faith in people. My lack of trust is partially from getting hurt in the past. There were quite a few important people in my life who hurt me in the most awful ways, and mainly because I gave them so much of my trust or placed myself in a position where I could get taken advantage of. It’s been a long battle to have more trust in others and to not be so afraid of getting hurt.

So whatever position you are in, I want to clarify that trusting others is important. It’s okay if you are battling trust issues, but it’s not okay to live a life not trusting others. You will never be able to have strong and meaningful relationships or friendships without learning to trust. You may miss out on wonderful opportunities by not having more faith in things or people. It’s important to let go of the people who are clearly distrustful but just as important to give others a fair chance of having your trust. I doubt anyone wants to live a life full of distrust and suspicion, right?

The following questions will hopefully make you understand the importance of placing trust in another, and why it’s a better choice to not always be overly suspicious of others.

  1. How do you react when others don’t trust you? It doesn’t feel nice to play the part of the person who doesn’t trust easily, but often times we forget how hard it is for another to deal with our distrust. Imagine a loved one didn’t trust you. How would that make you feel? I know that I would feel more insecure about that friendship, might be offended, and be suspicious of the other person. Overall it would have a pretty negative impact on me. Have you considered that your distrust of another might be hurting someone else? You are not the only one impacted by your lack of trust. It may seem alright to distrust someone, but keep in mind that it may hurt another person and could dramatically decrease the quality of that relationship.

  2. How do you react when others trust you? So you meet someone new and see that they trust you. Whenever this happens to me, I have an easier time liking this person and wanting to be close to them. Seeing that they trust me makes me feel good and helps build my confidence that this could be a positive relationship, whether it’s a friendship, romantic interest, or a salesperson. I have higher respect for this person, and it makes it easier for me to be more open with that person. So keep this in mind when dealing with issues of distrust. You are more likable when others get the sense that you trust them. People you care about will genuinely appreciate the amount of trust you place in them.

  3. Is there a correlation between trust and the quality of my relationships? Think about all the people that bring joy into your life. Who are your best friends? Who are the people you think are reliable? Are there any stores or companies that you are loyal to? Do you trust all these people? You tend to have the best relationships with the people you trust. Having trust is necessary for a very positive and meaningful relationship.

  4. Do I give off an attitude of trust? When you first meet someone, how do you usually act? A long time ago, I used to be the type who was very closed. This was due to my lack of trust in other people. I had a tough time opening up to others and I think it was fairly obvious to people I met. As a result, I ended up not making many friends. I realized this and decided to be more open and welcoming to people. This does not mean that I divulged every intimate detail about my life, but I certainly learned to give everyone I met the benefit of the doubt. I divulged some information, and gave that person a chance with my trust.

  5. Do you give a person the chance to be trustworthy? It’s easy to be distrusting when you don’t give someone a chance to earn your trust. Trust involves risk and many times you will be pleasantly surprised when taking that risk. Be honest with yourself about if you are actually giving people a chance. It’s easy to view people and companies as distrustful when you don’t open the door for someone to win your trust. Look at your own actions and try and understand if you approach people automatically assuming that he or she is trying to scam you, take advantage of you, or is someone distrustful. Being aware of the amount of times you show someone distrust, will help you to become more knowledgeable about being more open with others.

  6. Are you actually having a good balance between being overly suspicious and blindly trusting? I want to clarify that this article is not trying to encourage you to not exercise discretion when interacting with others or to simply blindly trust someone. The point of the article is to make you realize that you need a healthy balance. You cannot enter a relationship assuming someone is distrustful and constantly reliving past mistakes or acts of distrust. You cannot be waiting for someone to prove that they are unworthy of trust. When entering some form of a relationship, you have to give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume that they are people who you cannot trust. Definitely use caution when meeting new people, but be optimistic and hope for the best. Striking this balance is integral for being able to trust another in a healthy manner. 

Small Acts of Kindness

Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Small Acts of Loving Service Zechariah 4:10

Personally, I love this bible verse. This verse provides a message that I forget more often than I would like to admit. I’m sure many of you also struggle with this problem as well. You may be feeling that the small acts that you do, are not all that significant.

Sunset in KenyaI mentioned in a prior article, that I would be intertwining my experiences with Kenya and some general words of wisdom over the next few posts. Personally, I find it an excellent way to let others know about my experiences and a great way for me to really analyze my feelings about some aspects of the trip.

While volunteering in Kitengela, I met many volunteers who could only devote a small chunk of their time. There were a few volunteers who were devoting at least 3 months of their time to a project, but most people could only devote about a month or less of their time. Many people had the tough realization that they could only accomplish a small bit during their time. Some of these volunteers felt really upset by the limited amount of time he or she could devote. As a result, this volunteer felt that their time was not significant or that they could not really give much. These thoughts are very far from the truth.

If you ever decide to show kindness in any scenario, you may have these negative feelings. It does not matter if you are volunteering in your community, offering help to a friend or family member, or simply just trying to be a nice to others on a daily basis. Many of you will encounter these negative feelings or thoughts, which can inhibit you from doing something kind for another.

Not finding your actions to be significant can be a real problem and may manifest in various ways. You might believe that your actions are insignificant compared to the works of others. This situation, reminds me of a scenario of a son who wanted to accomplish much in his career. He compared himself to his parents, who did monumental things in their fields. He felt that everything he was doing, was nothing compared to what they did. Another common example is the one where someone feels like their help is not needed or appreciated. Maybe they could only invest a small amount to a cause, or did not have much time to devote. Due to these limitations this person feels like whatever efforts he or she makes is unnecessary and unimportant.

Here are some things to remember to keep you going.

  1. Small things lead to greater things. It’s very rare for a person to just jump into a project and make a large impact. Many people work hard to make a difference. Ask the people you admire about how they made such an impact. Many of them will discuss the many years of patience, disappoints and hard work that was required to reach that point. You might be starting small right now, but with additional time and responsibility, you might be surprised at what you will be capable of doing with time, perseverance and faith.

  2. Small efforts can make a difference in the larger scale. Perhaps you are in the situation where you cannot donate much of your time or money. Your efforts still make a difference. Let’s say you could only donate $10 to help a child get treatment for cancer. Although that may not seem like much, you helped that family get one step closer to giving their child the treatment she deserves. Without the help of you and many others, that child may not have ever received the treatment she needed for getting better.

  3. Remember, that sometimes a small effort can raise a lot of awareness. I was only in Kenya for a few weeks, but many people became aware of what I was doing and some people wanted to help. The increased awareness helped make my small act of kindness, worth it. You can create a big impact by just raising awareness about a problem and describing the small ways that you have helped. Through your experiences, others may want to contribute and make an impact as well.

  4. Your small acts of kindness can give people hope. You have no idea what lives will be touched by seeing you do something kind for others. I’ve personally seen people find faith and hope by seeing the kind actions of others. Your small acts of kindness are inspiring. People will see this kindness and that will provide them with hope and encouragement.

  5. Small acts of kindness can help improve and show off your talents. Many people do not attempt to do kind things for others because they do not have faith in their talents. A loved one of mine has an exceptional talent, but he feels that it’s useless because it mainly involves writing. He did not realize that this skill can help to uplift others and he could share this skill with other people. Try to have faith in your talents. Use what you have to help change the world, and have faith in your abilities. Not only will you have a greater appreciation of your skills, but you will have a broader perspective on how to utilize those skills to help others.

Hopefully you have a more accurate image on how important it is to still be kind, even if those actions seem small. Doing small acts of kindness should be a source of joy, and not something to feel bad about.