Gaslights, Light The Way

It is undeniable the damage a gaslighter can do if you get too close to their fire. Reality to me is something that is uncontested truth. I like facts, words and the concreteness of things. To some, reality is merely an illusion that is simply energy, a perisistent illusion. I think of reality as something that is real and existent as opposed to something that is imaginery, it is the totality of a system, known and unknown. Physcial objects, tangible and real things make up reality. I like to play with the “what-ifs” and the “what could be” once in a while, but I certainly am not blind to the “what-is” in my life.

But what happens when someone tries to undermine your entire perception of reality? 

Throughout my life I have met all sorts of people, from different backgrounds from my travels and even in my own city through school, work and different love relationships. The personalities that have helped solidify my own perception of myself the most where the… gaslighters. 

Gaslighters communicate in way that leave you feeling dazed, and make you question if there is something wrong with you.

Gaslighting is basically underming your reality. It is about power and control. Some basic tactics are minimizing your thoughts and feelings, deflecting and shifting blame, denying wrongdoing, using compassion as a weapon and twisting and reframing conversations. It is the behaviour not the person that I don’t tolerate. I believe that everyone can do better. I am not perfect myself and have caught myself torching others with these tactics. Awareness is key.

Gaslighters have shown me my light.

In the past I  have entertained opinions about my character and put them on to wear but they never fit. The negative realities and the perceptions that were not my own were itchy, uncomfortable and never sat well with me. I am not against constructive criticism but there is a fine line. My judgments and perceptions are my own to express no matter what the other person feels. If this is challenged to the point that I have lost my opinions and feelings and adopted the other persons perceptions this is no longer a true representation of my world. 

When my husband and I decided to change and grow and pursue a healthy life including going booze free, I thought we would receive only postive feedback. To my surprise that wasn’t the case, and not only did we receive negative feedback, but we found ourselves isolated for a while from people we thought we could trust and support us.

For a time I was confused but then I realized that I have a voice and I have the right to express it. I was able to carry my truth of my reality only when I wasn’t afraid to lose people that didn’t allow me to grow in my life and I let them go. 

Let the gaslighters carry their perception of you by themselves, you don’t need to burden yourself with other peoples opinions of you. I am glad I ditched those torches. That was not my baggage.

I think that if you make a commitment to your reality, and what you think your future should look like, this is more important than how others perceive you. I now understand that no matter how hard you try to please others, or try to explain your perspective and feelings, it is not worth losing your power and your sense of self.

You own your right to make space in the world and show up in a way that celebrates who you are. Raw, unfiltered and real. Too many times I have let my self-image, my persistence to please and my fear, take my voice away. Now I see, that even if I generate positive energy, make myself healthier or try to contribute for the good, there will always be opposition and that reality has nothing to do with me. It takes a gaslighter sometimes to show you the light, to help you solidify your own truth and give you strength to never allow anyone to dim your light again.

Hold that torch high.

Keep shining.

Keep moving. 

You Got This!

Sugar My Frenemy

Since I was a kid I loved sugar. I watched my grandma bake apple struddle pies, and as soon as they would land on her kitchen table to cool, I would pick at the pie and eat tiny forbidden pieces. The soft, delicious warm pieces, where my first real memories of the feeling and taste  of sweet sugar. As I got older, sugar has always been something that gave me a quick energy boost and feelings of warm familiar comfort. 

It isn’t easy to deny sugar. As it is in most of my kitchen items, ketchup, most sauces, honey for my tea, cereal, and so many more. But when I seek sugar, I definitely do it deliberately. Now when I think of it, after not drinking for 5 years, I have realized I rely on sugar for energy more than I think. As I get older, and have more on my life plate, my energy is dwindling and need more to sustain me throughout the week. I reach for items to put in my body that will keep me going. This is not necessarily a bad or good thing. I am aware of it happening. 

Some days my healthy diet just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, I have long work weeks or something throws me off my game and I need an energy boost. In my earlier days, getting more energy out of me was going to the bar and having a drink. The sugar alone in the drink gave me my second or third wind for the day. Now, a cookie, a piece of chocolate and even tons of honey is my elixir, some days are worse than others.

Everything in moderation I have heard over and over. But sometimes, moderation isn’t enough to get me through to the end of the day without having more than one cookie or piece of chocolate, but I don’t beat myself up about it. What I do, is keep in mind my awareness of my relationship with sugar. Just like when I reached for a second or third drink to give me a boost of energy, I am aware I am doing the same with food now. 

Habits are funny like that. If you are not careful, the same habit creeps up on you in a different way. Just like the same type of person may keep showing up in your life, until you acknowledge it. I try to acknowledge my patterns of sugar intake with how much stress I am experiencing in the week, the month or even in the day. This helps me be aware of what might come next. This awareness slows down my sugar ride by creating some distance between my thoughts and my actions. I’m not too hard on myself about my relationship with my friend sugar, I know it is here to stay and I welcome it in my life but I am also not naïve about my patterns and habits with it. I try to create an inclusive and non judgemental space for sugar in my life so that I am not so harsh on myself when it shows up in my life a little more than I would like for a small period of time. I breath, take a bite, enjoy and get on with my life. 

“You can be miserable before you have a cookie, and you can be miserable after you eat a cookie, but you can’t be miserable while you are eating a cookie.” – Ina Garten 

From Avoiding Conflict to Fighting Fair

I don’t know about you but I love a good argument. I am always down to figure out difficult solutions, accept disagreements, try to understand obtuse ideas, far out perspectives and extreme scenarios of any kind. Within reason of course.

I like to freely air out grievances, get things off my chest. I think this is very healthy for growth. 

I love to assert my ideas and defend my perspectives, guard my values and principles. But when it comes down to the hard uncomfortable real life confrontations, I seem to always do a playback of what was said. I find that the difficult conversations that we have with people bring so much more than just words. The adrenaline rush that comes with fighting, always finds its way to my throat first before reason, or kind words. Over the years I have sharpened my communication skills as opposed to my tongue, to navigate fair fights with the people in my life. 

In any scenario it is always good to have some tools in your pocket to help you get through a fight in a fair way. Strong unwanted words cannot be unsaid and the bad vibes that linger, stay until a new secure relationship takes its place post battle. Unwanted, strong harsh words and feelings are exhausting, damaging and easily avoided. 

Here are some tools for fighting fair: 

Set the Stage 

If you confront someone or if someone confronts you, either unexpectedly or planned, be prepared to set some ground rules. These could include, no swearing, no yelling, no name-calling or whatever you need to make you feel safe and calm. 

Also pick a place to fight. Ask the person to meet you in a spot that makes you feel calm and safe. If you are confronted immediately step back and ask to postpone the meeting for some other time. If this is not possible, visualize a calm safe space, this will take you out of your fight/flight mode and help you tap into your reasoning brain, which will help you communicate more effectively. 

I like to talk hard uncomfortable stuff in nature, a walk in the park or just out on my front porch. I find it calming and a very neutral space for all that hard energy to dissipate. But if that is not an option, try a space that you have been before that makes you feel good, a coffee shop, a certain room in your house or even an area in a building, like a lobby. The calmer and safer the space the better your mind will react to strong emotions. 

Express your Needs and Negotiate Solutions 

In a perfect world my fights would always end with me as the winner. I like to right fight. I would beat my chest and say, “I told you so!” for all the world to hear, periodically through the day to boost my mood and ego. Ok, STOP! That’s nonsense, because we all know that we grow from change and that change also includes having difficult conversations with people and that doesn’t include being right or winning an argument.

Some of my biggest growth spurts came from serious fights with family members, co-workers, bosses and boyfriends. The raw emotion that travels through a confrontation has a powerful way to rewire our brains, perspective and to allow us to get to the next level of maturity. In all this raw emotion though you have to find strength to  express your needs and cannot lose your sense of dignity, integrity and respect for the other person. 

Sometimes our confrontations happen organically with people not from anything we have done but simply because others are not allowing you to grow. You need to know how to express your needs and negotiate solutions during and post confrontations. You need to establish what you need for yourself as you grow and communicate this to people. Nobody can read your mind. Building healthy boundaries is key to navigating a fair fight, because then you know what your breaking point is and what your limitations are. You need to express these limitations explicitly, so that solutions can be tailored to your specific personality needs and that all parties experience a sense of fairness. 

Know When to Walk Away

All confrontations are worth exploring, even if it is just for personal growth. But some fights are not worth it. Sometimes you just need to walk  away. 

In the book Mastery by Robert Greene the chapter, Suffer fools gladly Greene illustrates how sometimes it is not worth your energy to entertain a difficult relationship with people who have foolish personalities and make cooperation impossible. He gives a description of a fool as a person that is money grabbing, obsessed with their public image, has short term thinking, ego driven, ruled by insecurities and gets little done to name a few. Greene advises, “if they are causing you trouble, you must neutralize the harm they do by keeping a steady eye on your goals and what is important, and ignoring them if you can.” – (Mastery Robert Greene) Sometimes we all act a fool, and giving people the benefit of the doubt should come first before walking away. But, when it is impossible to entice your opponent to a fair fight due to their innate difficult personality then it is worth the walk, because a dirty fight always leaves the deepest scars that take the longest to heal. 

Fight often. 

Fight Fair. 

Grow. 

Imagination is Your Magic

Dino roars are common in my living room, coming out of my toddlers little lungs, at full capacity. 

I join in, every time! 

I roar with him, and try to imagine the feelings and images he is creating, in his mind as he swirls around my kitchen, into the hallway and down to the living room. 

The more I entertain my imagination with him, the more I sink into the moment, and feel true presence.

It is in these times that I think how powerful imagination is to our health, and sense of fulfilment. Presence alone cannot satisfy the true richness that a moment brings, it’s also the simulation of new sensations out of nothing that is remarkable. From nothing your mind can create something. 

When I set up a goal for myself, I immediately imagine what it would feel like having completed that goal. I relish in the end product, in the pride of accomplishment, and the idea of what it would be like if a certain outcome came to be. 

Imagination is a great tool to envision a path or a dream come to fruition. 

But why is it so much easier for children to accept imagination as it comes, without attachment, without wanting and grasping for completion. Childrens imagination is limitless and keeps giving. At what age does this change? 

Over the years, I have come to terms that my dreams and visions are exactly what they are supposed to be. I have imagined my life up with the help of my thoughts and emotions, to create the picture of what my life is today, and it is a magical story, with rich characters and fantastical plot lines. Imagination has never left me, it has just adapted to my adult needs. Children believe in fantastic tales and create amazing stories. I don’t see why imagination should ever be rejected or forgotten about.

It is because of imagination, we have the lives we have. 

I still have many opportunities in my life where I use my childlike imagination to see the wonder in people and my life, if I choose to. I think everyone has the opportunity to slay dragons at work, battle storms at home, ride stallions across town to see friends, trap wizards in the grocery store, and run from dinosaurs in the park. The choice is ours. 

Don’t forget to dream, and create the story in which you are the hero of your life. Give yourself a moment in the day to put away the “what is” and try on “what could be”. This is important, for keeping yourself flexible, and accepting the most vulnerable part of yourself. The child that you used to be. 

Your imagination is your magic.

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you,

because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”

The Minpins by Roald Dahl 

How Do you Know the Things you Know?

Do you ever get the feeling you know something just because you feel like you know?

You think or see something and you automatically have a strong feeling of familiarity about it. It could be a person, a place, something you read or something someone has said to you.

Like you have been there before, or the thing that you heard you keep hearing it everywhere.

You tell yourself you don’t know how you know… but you know!

I always want to believe that what I am told is what someone actually means and that their intentions are aligned with their actions, but I know that isn’t always the case because people lie to themselves and also to others. So, how do you determine how you feel about someone if you can’t take their word for it? Can intuition guide you to proper knowing?

I read about intuition and have always tried tapping into it. But really I don’t know what I’m looking for or what I should be feeling. My guess of what intuition is, is that if it doesn’t feel right, to fight or flight. That is my basic understanding of intuition. As my self development journey deepened, I realized most of what I knew was because I experienced these situations/people before. I was becoming aware of my patterns and they all seemed so familiar. The familiarity made it feel like I knew things without real knowing.

I think when you think you know something it could be that you are recognizing a pattern.

But, it could also be misleading breeding ignorance planting seeds of arrogance. Even though I think I know quite a bit through learned experiences, travel and even my education, there is also so much unknown that I reject just simply because I think I know.

I recently read the book The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel. It is a parenting book that describes what happens to the brain when emotional areas and logical reasoning are disintegrated. The book presents simple techniques to help children manage big emotions and make better decisions by integrating the various parts of the brain. The book also highlights that the experiences we have wire our brain structure. One of the techniques that Dr Siegel uses is called “name it to tame it.” In this strategy the child would retell an upsetting event in his/her own words, and this takes the event from a completely emotional, experience-based memory and applies order to the experience. The child’s perspective is changed and the event is approached more logically.

I wonder how many of my knowing’s come from upsetting events that haven’t been properly processed to make logical sense, and now those feelings are driving a skewed intuition.

Along my alcohol-free journey, I started integrating my logical and emotional brain by looking at some of the narrative that I replay in my head. As I rewrite some of the stories, I’ve realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

I still have so much more to learn and so much to make sense of.

There is so much going on in our brains when we try to convince ourselves of something that we know. Bias, hunger, mood, the weather, hormones, sleep, past experiences, the conditioning of an education system, memory retention, pain and so much more contributes to our perception of knowing. Next time you think you know something without knowing why or how, ask yourself to rewind the scenario and tease out why you might feel, think that way and you might get a different answer. 

Check your story, think before you know. 

Pushing Yourself Too Hard

This morning when I woke up to a soggy wet winter day, the first thought that went through my mind was, I’m not going for a run today! That’s how the day started, and the mood was set. Negative and irritated. Cue the negative self-talk – I should go for a run, I haven’t gone for a run in a while, I should get fresh air, I’m being lazy and on and on. The “I should” statements were loud and annoying, putting me in a dark frame of mind and discouraged me from being motivated to doing anything at all. I fell down the rabbit hole. This brought up an interesting thought about motivation and the fine line between encouraging yourself to be motivated and pushing yourself too hard.

I have been told in the past, by many people that I am too hard on myself. I think this mostly stemmed from my inability to make proper life decisions and lack of values. So, I concentrated my energy on everything. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I changed my degree at University three times, had multiple long-term relationships with various boyfriends, dabbled in art, had numerous precarious jobs and was wandering from one interest to the next. I wanted to master it all. I gave myself so many tasks to complete by a certain age that I can tell you that almost none of them were completed and most of my accomplishments are only variations of what I expected I would achieve. I think this is where the pushing too hard lives. In the idea that something is “supposed to be”. The “supposed to be” lives in an imaginary concrete world and my life is not so black and white anymore. My motivation and goals are not defined by time. Motivation is something I live every day. 

As my values started to solidify my interests narrowed and it was easier for me to understand what my priorities are. I don’t have to master everything I try. I have goals, but I don’t attach too much expectation and keep an open mind regarding the process. The end product from any goal is almost always something of a variation of what you expect not the exact thing and that is ok. I was chasing an expectation and a certain outcome. Today, I am grateful for the learning process of anything I am studying or reading, any physical activity I am doing and embrace any new situation I am met with, because that is all I can control really. Relinquishing my need to control situations and dropping the rigid timeline has helped me to feel less anxious about the future and I have learned how and what motivates me.

Recently I became a new mom, and this was one of the steepest learning curves I have ever faced. I was anxious and upset that I didn’t know how to be a mom. I asked myself, why I didn’t know how to do this with ease? Simple answer, because I am a new mom. I am so quick to find short cuts to the learning process. There are no short cuts to learning something new! There are no short cuts in life! Read that last sentence again…I am still learning to be a mom.

That is the lesson about pushing too hard. Time will help you learn what you need to know. Be patient. Your values will lead you to where you need to be, the people around you will tell you who you are, and your body will tell you when you want to rest. I think our culture glorifies pushing ourselves to our limits. This in turn puts unrealistic expectations of what we can actually achieve. I’m not a super mom, or super wife or super anything. I take it in one moment at a time and learn from what the moment is trying to teach me. I reflect back in gratitude and see now that despite not checking off what I think I should have done today or ten, fifteen years ago, my experiences shaped and carved out my precious life today.

If you cannot take a moment to appreciate the hard work that is behind you, then the pushing too hard will never end. There lies a fine line between dissatisfaction/survival mode and complacency. Sometimes we need to stop, rest and appreciate where we are before pushing harder. I take pride in honouring what I have been through, how far I have come and look forward to everyday, even on the days that I forgo exercise to sit, broody, on the couch, with a warm blanket and a hot turmeric tea.

Casual Conversations about Loneliness

I have always wondered how other people experience loneliness. 

Is it painful? 

Where does it hurt? 

How long does it last? 

I have never posed this question to anyone. It is an awkward topic of conversation. I guess it might be that we don’t really want anyone to know that we are experiencing feelings of loneliness. To be social and have a lot of social connections is more popular than bringing up conversations surrounding feeling alone or isolated. I know for myself, despite having many friends, this does not guarantee feelings of belonging and understanding. Your perception of the quality of your relationships and how you feel about them has a lot to do with how you are going to interpret your feelings of being connected. If the experience of loneliness is highly subjective and is defined by a state of mind of feeling alone or isolated can someone potentially experience the opposite of loneliness if there were a space or platform to open up conversations surrounding loneliness, like in any setting, work, home, the grocery store, the library, etc? Why aren’t we casually talking about feeling lonely?

When I was partying and drinking my younger years away, my motives for partying was for connection and belonging. Of course, peer pressure played a major role in that lifestyle as well but mainly for me it was finding a place to be heard and understood. I wanted a sounding board for my life that accepted me for who I was, which was ironic because when I drank this was not a true representation of my authentic self. So here I was trying to get accepted wearing a mask. Not true acceptance at all. 

As I matured and embraced my health and my new way of life with no alcohol, I adapted to interacting with people differently, in different settings and I grew. My loneliness loosened its grip on me and it definitely doesn’t have the ferocity it used to have. Sometimes it still creeps up on me when I am not understood, accepted, rejected or feel disconnected from people. In those situations I rely on my logical mind to kick in to over analyze the situation and to neutralize my feelings of loneliness. I dropped the analyzing with time and replaced it with acceptance. I adopted the thinking “it is what it is” that’s it! I accepted people for who they showed me they were, the situations I was in, the role I played in situations, how coincidence and chance played out in my life and simply accepted that I was ok to sit by myself if that was what the situation called for. If I needed to be there for me, I was there for myself by accepting myself. If I needed help or social connection I reached out without attachment and grasping. The people pleaser in me fell off. The mask finally gone.

The solo work that I did getting myself healthy established a deep connection with myself that I bring to all my relationships today. The perception of the quality of my relationships has changed as I am aware of my own worth. The better I started treating myself, the better I treated others, this in turn fostered better, healthier relationships. Intimacy comes from knowing your own needs and responding to yourself in a way that you allow true connection. This connection, even if the feeling is just for a moment, is important to keep your emotional and mental health on track. This connection can be with nature, your religion, earth, people, yourself, your children, and the list goes on. Even when it is impossible to physically socialize with other people, loneliness doesn’t have to dominate your thoughts and feelings if you find a way to connect with someone or something that is truly important to you. I found solace in finding a way to cultivate my need for health, through running, cooking organic healthy meals and meditating. Even though these are activities that are done alone, I don’t feel lonely because I am doing them with the person that knows and appreciates me the best…with myself.

3 Ways to Make Better Decisions

My decision-making skills are levelling up as I grow. I have come a long way in making better decisions as my experiences and perspectives mature over time. When I decided to quit drinking, this was a decision that wasn’t made overnight, it was a culmination of bad experiences and mounting health issues that led me to decide. But not everything in my life was decided as so. Some of my decisions demand quicker responses, some need critical and deep assessment and some decisions are made for me without my control. 

Here are some things to consider when making decisions that have guided my own decision-making process. 

Give Yourself a Timeline

When my husband and I decided to quit drinking it was never a good time. There was always a birthday coming up, a dinner or a holiday. We simply just decided on a day and stuck to it. We gave ourselves this day so that when the day came, we were prepared to fully step into the new. It was easier to make the decision because we had each other for accountability. If you make a decision create a timeline for the action and ask someone in your life to hold you accountable to that action. 

Align the Decision with your Values

Values are very personal and unique to you. They are what drives your motivation and sets priorities and goals in your life. What are values you ask? Things like honesty, integrity, authenticity, safety, taking responsibility and the list goes on. Core values are the foundation your life stands on. If you haven’t figured out what your core values are you aren’t going to make decisions that are best suited for who you are and what you truly need out of life. Ask yourself what is important to you so that you may determine what guides your attitude and actions. Health was one of my core values that I felt like I wasn’t honoring when I was drinking. So, when the decision was made to quit alcohol, I felt amazing that I was finally living in alignment with one of my core values. The decision was easy to make and even easier to stick with because of my awareness and dedication to my values.  

Stop Second Guessing your Decision

When you second guess your decision, you don’t make a commitment to the outcome. This is a demonstration of fear and not owning your decision. Asking for feedback regarding a decision is great but it could also lead to externalizing responsibility of your decision-making process to other people and undermines your ability to understand who you are and cope with the unexpected. I know I have made some regrettable past decisions, and this sometimes leads to second guessing myself today and undermines my confidence in making good decisions. I commit to my decision by weighing the pros and cons and accepting the unexpected outcome. I can’t predict or control everything in my life, so I trust my instincts. A lot of decision making is based on guess work and guessing to the best of your ability and staying flexible is the only thing you can do. 

Happy Deciding! 

Let me know what you think.

How do you make decisions in your life? 

Living in Black and White

Perspective is one word I always incorporated in my toolbox to stay healthy. However, I have to admit that my default thinking is in black and white. This is a work in progress. I do travel down the road of all or nothing, yes or no, good or bad and I like this, or I don’t like that. A lot of this thinking comes from my need for comfort and familiarity. My safe space determines if I have decided emphatically that something is for me or against me. This has not worked for me in the past and still continues to cause me frustration today, so I remind myself to step into the gray whenever this thinking creeps into my headspace. 

Expectations of situations have a lot to do with how I think about situations as they unfold. Before I give anything, a person, a place a chance I determine if I like it, it is good, what I expect from it and the thoughts and criticisms trail on. I label it, I box it and store it away. With this type of thinking I miss the opportunity to truly accept things for what they are. I miss the point completely and don’t see clearly until many months or even years later I reach an “Aha!” moment and true perspective erupts on its own with time and experience. Although I appreciate my experiences and embrace learning over time, the slow momentum of seeing truth in situations and people started bothering me. I needed another way. 

I don’t really think that there are any easy solutions to growing your perspective to achieve a favorable or more clear view, but for me travel did help. I travelled and lived in Argentina for a while and this encouraged deep listening. I didn’t understand Spanish fluently, so I leaned on listening to body language, reading emotions from faces, and once language started sitting a little better with me, stories of different local people. The vibrant culture of Argentinians penetrated my closed mind and I was forced to take on different perspectives. When I build perspective today, I step into a different space by truly listening. Listening without necessarily responding in an instant is something I think today is underrated and a tool that is not practiced enough. Taking everything in and sitting with it for a moment is remarkable. When I listen to myself, the environment and people I drop the labels and stop categorizing putting things in a proper viewpoint.

Living in black and white is kind of like living in a maze. In the words of Margaret Atwood, “A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.” (Atwood et al. The Handmaid’s Tale) The maze is a closed mind and it doesn’t have any alternative paths or avenues for thoughts. Today, I embrace the unknown, I listen and keep an open mind no matter the landscape. I practice compassion before I take out the boxes to label and store away with judgment and finality. I try to tease out all possible standpoints and go where the situation or person leads me because after all, what I create to be my truth is not necessarily what is. I have the power to discern the truth but only when I start to paint my point of view with a little more color. 

Building Healthy Boundaries or a Wall?

I’ve always struggled with the word No!

Saying no to people and to myself doesn’t come easy. I like to be a yes person. Always stacking too much on my plate. Draining my energy. Looking for room to always say yes to something or someone, thinking I’ll miss out if I don’t agree. This changed when I started becoming more mindful of my energy and my time. When I put my health first, I also scaled back on agreeing to every request that came my way. It was just physically impossible to do it all. I tended to my body and my well being first before anything else and then noticed I was putting up a wall and not setting healthy boundaries. I didn’t know how to express my wants without coming off as rude or annoyed.

I had some really big expectations of people. My annoyance came from the position that people should know what I am feeling and anticipate my needs and wants.

Of course, why wouldn’t someone know exactly what I am feeling that day??

Oh wait, stop! Here comes my ego once again. My insistence of people knowing how I felt and my expectation of them to read my mind created distance. Instead of simply expressing my needs and wants with words, walls were built instead. As more situations grew to be worse than better from building these walls, I realized that one core element was breeding this behaviour. My lack of assertiveness and low self-esteem. This was especially true when I was younger. I was unable to simply say no without feeling guilt and dread. I didn’t have the power to take responsibility for my emotions and express what I really needed. I learned over time that taking responsibility of my emotions and expressing my needs despite the feedback I might receive, actually benefits all parties involved. Meditating helped with this notion.

Meditation sucked the first few times I sat on the cushion. I battled the process. I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t see a point to it. I felt sorry for myself, that I had to sit on a cushion in silence and do nothing for ten minutes. The victim part of me came out and threw me a ten-minute-long pity party. Slowly, over time the victim disappeared and got replaced with a more self-confident, assertive person the more I meditated. I created some distance between my negative thoughts and negative self-talk. I was able to step into a place where I was more aware of my own needs and emotions. This allowed me to make a blueprint of what I wanted out of my relationships and set some standards for the things I needed from the people in my life. This map helped me navigate healthy boundaries in relationships, so I am able to build relationships as they grow over time. For the first time I was able to achieve intimacy in relationships. Instead of attaching unhealthy expectations, attachments, and unrealistic standards on people, today I take responsibility of my own needs and wants and the rest falls into place. My relationships grow organically. Some stay and some don’t.

Building healthy boundaries takes practice and patience. Something I still struggle with today. Nowadays I do say no without guilt more often. I do speak my mind as situations arise in my life. I do find that I receive push back from people still, mostly from those that have not set healthy boundaries themselves. There really isn’t anything I can do for anyone else’s development in seeking healthy boundaries as long as I can express my boundaries to the best of my abilities my wish is that at least maybe someone can learn a new tool to use to get what they need out of life through the way I conduct myself. I will not please everyone and will probably hurt some feelings along the way and know that I cannot determine how other people feel. I don’t want to control anyone’s emotions but to support self-actualization and growth. This is key to healthy boundaries.