"Mirror, Mirror, on the wall..."

Are You Unknowingly Inspiring Others?

You may not know it but you are impacting someone in your life; either from a distance or directly. You are currently giving someone permission to be more than they have allowed themselves to be – and you don’t even realize it.

close up photography of person s eye

Think about that for a moment. Let it sink in; soak it up.  Don’t just read the words like you would a random post.  Hold on to it for a moment.  Believe it, don’t believe – that’s up to you. But, give the time necessary to really understand the message.  Once you have done that, take a breath and then absorb this:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

There is nothing scarier than the person in the mirror and yet it is that single person who is supposed to be your biggest fan, not your mortal enemy. That person in the mirror is an intimate heart you are supposed to trust and embrace, not fight and doubt. That person in the mirror is supposed to love you first because it might seem as though no one else does….and that is quite alright.

We live in a society that tells us we should place a higher value on the opinion others have of us over our own opinion. With that in mind, is it any wonder we are a country with the highest depression rate? We have a limited sense of self-appreciation and an overwhelming curiosity of “What do YOU think of ME?” (Remember Bette Midler in “Beaches”?)

We have it bass-ack-wards.

man old depressed headache

Marianne Williamson has it figured out and yet what her quote fails to mention is that while you are building yourself up you could be doing it alone. However, there are silent rewards and they are incredible: “…you give other people permission to do the same.”

Not too long ago a co-worker of mine left her job to pursue her own business venture. During her departure tour of the office, she stopped by my desk to wish me a good day. During our conversation, she told me how inspiring she thought I was. I had a puzzled looked on my face. She told me that when she first met me, when I started at the company, she saw that I was tall, just like her and yet I wore heels and held myself up high. She saw my confidence and that made her feel comfortable. She thought, “Hey, if she can do it, so can I.”

I unknowingly gave her permission to enjoy something about her that she had tried to hide and for six months I had no idea. I was clueless that by being me, unapologetically, I had given her the validation she was looking for to enjoy something others found “unusual” about her.

My former co-worker had tried to shrink herself because she was one of the few tall women in the office. She didn’t dislike her height but she did try to minimize it because she was in a class of few.  She gained confidence in herself because of my confidence. Someone showed her it was okay, even good, to enjoy who and what you are even if it doesn’t fit the average mold.

closeup photo of woman with brown coat and gray top

What’s the point of my story? I’ll tell you. You may not know it but you’re impacting someone in your life; either from a distance or directly. You are currently giving someone permission to be more than they have allowed themselves to be – and you don’t even realize it. As you struggle and hurt, as you fall down repeatedly and rise up again, and again, you give someone the space to better herself because she is looking from the outside in on your world. She is watching you and learning from you. YOU are making a difference, whether you believe you or not.

Remember, you may not be impressed by you but someone is inspired by you. Just because you don’t get to hear it doesn’t mean it’s not happening…hell, it surprised me.

You’re doing it and you don’t even know it!

Love - We're All Doing It Wrong

3 Rules To Remind You Relationships Are Tougher Than They Appear On TV

Relationships are a part of our identity.  It could be the relationship with our friends or family, our children, our significant other or any other relationship you can point out in your life. Relationships are important in developing who we are and how we interact with others on various levels.

We learn about relationships immediately in our lives starting with those that provide our care and fulfill our needs starting with infancy.  The first lesson in life is that we have needs that must be met in order to survive.  As our needs change, based on growth and development, the relationships multiply and may become complex.  Ideally, the needs between those within a relationship develop into a two-way street.  One side of the street gives while the other takes and theoretically each party takes turns on either side of the road.  This is how relationships become mutual agreements.

Think of relationships as an investment…and a return.

Healthy relationships require two people to balance the giving and taking. There is really no other way about it and it does not matter the relationship. Platonic. Romantic. Familial. Friendship. You name it they all require traffic to flow in two directions. The type of relationship will determine the role each person will fulfill – or in other words the needs that need to be met.

I would not venture to say that any single relationship is necessarily easier than another or that one is of lesser value. That is for you to decide as it makes sense in your life.  The relationship centered on romantic love is likely the one that makes the most impact on your life and therefore can easily be seen as the most challenging of all relationships.  But, it is fair to keep in mind sometimes we make things more difficult than they are due to where we position our focus.  (Let the sink in…)

The problem with romantic love is the vision we all have of what it is supposed to be. Growing up we get this fantastical vision of what love is going to be based on what we see on the television or in the movies:  “True love”.  “Love of a lifetime”.  “Soulmate”. “Happily ever after”.  “Extreme acts of love”.  There is this repetitive idea that love is riddled with exciting emotional climaxes completed with “happy ever after endings” and anything less is not considered “love.”

In the no-nonsense words of Sherman T. Potter from the sitcom M*A*S*H…

”HORSE HOCKEY!!!”

horse laughing laughing horse

While no one really likes rules here are 3 pieces of insight to remind you why relationships are tougher than they appear on the boob-tube or the silver screen:

First rule of relationships: Don’t compare your life to what you see on television (or anyone else, really).

By using comparisons you will remain forever single or accumulate wasteful relationships due to unrealistic expectations of others.  Besides, that one relationship in your life that you get to choose and is meant to last a lifetime is not going to be comparable to what you see on tv. It should be better because it will be real.  It will be yours. It will be incredibly joyous. It will be incredibly painful.  It will be based on the choices you and your partner make rather than a room of writers trying to score a paycheck or franchise opportunity.

Second rule of relationships: If you don’t know who you are don’t be surprised if you find someone that tells you who you are.

This is the making of an unhealthy relationship, one of abusive co-dependency. Knowing who you are, being able to identify yourself will help in keeping the bad ones away and attract the good ones. If you don’t know who you are you won’t know what you can offer another.  Rest assured that there are PLENTY out there who are thrilled to tell you who you are; its called control and can create a cycle of abuse that is difficult to break free from.

Third rule of relationships: Don’t confuse being alone with loneliness.

One is a status and the other is a feeling. Being alone doesn’t mean anything other than you are single. You aren’t a loser nor are you aren’t incomplete. You are just flying solo and that is a good thing until you find the person that aligns with you, not defines you.  Loneliness, on the other hand, is a side effect of a breakup.  At some point, that lonely feeling hits you and it is uncomfortable.  It is that uncomfy feeling that can be a driving force influencing decisions that are not in your best interests. This is the reason so many tell you to WAIT between relationships allowing you to avoid doing yourself a romantic disservice.

blonde haired woman in orange knitted long sleeved top

Relationships, specifically the romantic ones, are tough. They are tougher if you are not ready to embrace you for you and therefore have it embraced by others.   Because of what we have seen over and over again, there is this misconception that our love life should be based on being “saved” by that fictional “white knight in shining armor”.  Relationships are not about being saved by another.  They are not about completing each other. They are about alignment between two people and how that works to compliment one another.   It is not a matter of forcing it or learning how to do it. It is a matter of when you are ready to do it.

You can do it.

Love - We're All Doing It Wrong

Love Signs You Don’t Typically Look For

Whitney Houston once sang, “How Will I Know If He Really Loves Me?” And its a pretty legit question.  How DO you know if he really loves you?

Some might tell you that you feel butterflies or a sense of excitement when he walks into the room. Others tell you he isn’t afraid to brag about you, while others may believe that subtle gestures such as kissing you on the forehead or a caressing touch are signs of love.

All could be true of love but not necessarily that of a healthy romantic love.

Any woman who has lived with a narcissist or a manipulative man will tell you that these things are not necessarily the things that make up a loving relationship.  Love is more than just a kiss here or a loving caress there.  Love is a genuine appreciation for an individual.

So, how do you know you’re in a healthy relationship?

woman wearing blue jacket
Photo by João Jesus on Pexels.com

Glad you asked!  It took me a long time to figure this one out.  I had to have several intentionally sought after relationships that wound up unhealthy before I fell into the healthy one and figured out the major differences.  It is easy to fall into a sequence of foul relationships because they become what you know.  It is the unknown of the healthy relationship that can catch you off guard!  The healthy relationship is uncomfy at first but it does grow on you once you realize that you being you is vital to the relationship, not you being who Mr. Unhealthy wants you to be!   So, what should you keep your eyes peeled for?

He encourages you to be you.

Anyone who has actual love and admiration for you will not try to change you to meet their narrative.  When you are with the right person, the person who aligns with you, they are not worried about changing you, rather they are interested in the person you will continually evolve into. They want to be a part of that and they know they are not the only influence when it comes to you being you. There are friends, family, and other people that have a hand in your development and the right guy values that.

 He listens to you when you speak. 

Any guy that is consistent about interrupting you, talking over you or cutting you off versus listening to you is not interested in you. Those types of guys are more likely threatened by you and look to exert their false sense of superiority over you. Even if you are a “chatty-Kathy” there is no need to shut you down because he is bored. If he can handle your rambling then he is worth your investment; just try to ramble to a point.

 He cares about your interests. 

The guy who loves you will show support for your interest and passion. He will offer you praise when you get involved and make a difference in the lives of others because he understands your interests are factors in who you are. He also gets that your interests will change and he is fine with that. If it gives you a reason to be happy he will support it. Don’t be fooled, though!  Just because your loving man supports you doesn’t mean he follows you, watches you or is even your biggest fan. The man with a genuine love for you will be perfectly okay not leading the parade in your honor though will be your biggest supporter and he will find a way to show you that support.

 He gives you space.

We all need space whether in a relationship or not.  If space is not something you are familiar with or you don’t recognize it as being part of a healthy loving relationship you might reconsider your readiness for commitment. Spending every moment of every day with the same person day in and day out is asking for a “blah” kind of relationship and is a key component to stalling your sense of self. Personal space is necessary to be alone with our thoughts and reflect on how our lives are proceeding. We need to be able to have those moments to get in touch with our inner selves.  The same is true for time with friends, family and anyone else that brings out the genuine pure side of our individuality.   If he consistently impedes upon that space he likely has motives that don’t include you being you.

 He provides for you.

He is a gentleman and understands what it means to take care of a lady without insinuating you are incapable. He won’t ask to order your dinner without your permission. He will extend an arm to open the door or pull out a chair. He will offer to drop you off and walk you to your door. He will offer to get you a cup of coffee, pour you a glass of wine or even make you dinner and he does so with the right attitude. It is not about controlling you and making decisions for you. It is about asking you what you would like and delivering to you because this is how he pampers you, particularly if you are the independent or self-sufficient type.  He also understands that when you reject those chivalry-esque gestures you are exerting your independence and he won’t take it personally.

 He doesn’t rush things.

The man who loves you and understands healthy love, will not rush you into any decision, pressure you into his desires or steam roll you to get his way. He will show patience for you and your timeline even if it is an inconvenience to him. In his mind, you are worth it and he honestly believes you would do it for him, though its unlikely he would ask you.

LOVE is more than just an emotion. It is a healthy attachment to someone who is eager to provide you with an opportunity to be you. They embrace you both physically and emotionally. Love is about boundaries.  Love is about respect for those boundaries. Love is about tolerance when things get annoying or ugly.  Love is about patience when tolerance is necessary.  Love is more than simply telling someone you love them or hearing it from another. It is a connection that is natural and peaceful.

It is easy to believe those butterflies are indicative that you’ve hit the love jackpot but what happens to those butterflies when the “honeymoon phase” ends? Are you at peace or do you feel lost and need to know what happened?  Does the person you met initially stand before you or are they someone else entirely?

photo of woman looking at the mirrorThe biggest key to a healthy relationship is to know you deserve to be loved for you and that love should start with you first.  If you don’t love you for you finding a healthy relationship will be that much more difficult.  It is also important to understand that you deserve the kind of person that will give you the healthy love and attention that encourages you to be you.

What are your experiences with healthy and unhealthy love?