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Category Archives: Love + Relationships

Nobody Really Wants Intimacy

The other day a few colleagues of mine were discussing intimacy on a lunch break.  The one had his own therapy group that was focused on the topic of intimacy and he was expressing his distress in how often people sign up for the groups on topics like “anxiety”, “depression” and “grief” but few wanted to sign up for the intimacy group.

“People don’t want to be intimate anymore”, one of my colleagues said in response to his distress, “We’re living in a separate individualistic culture”.

“Yeah, a lot of people are just focused on their phones and technology now,” said another, “Nobody really wants intimacy”.

Up until this point in the discussion I was merely an observer, like a bird looking in through the window, but I felt an urge to say something to add my own two cents.  “Well, I think the problem is that people don’t like conflict,” I said, “and you need to be able to work through conflict in order to be more intimate”. 

Now, of course, when I say this I don’t mean that we need to have conflict in order to be intimate.  There are plenty of relationships out there that are full of conflict and the intimacy is severely lacking.  However, what I do mean is that by avoiding conflict, we are also avoiding more intimacy.

Contrary to what some may think, intimacy is far more than just sex.  Sex is just a mere expression of physical intimacy.  But there’s also intimacy on an emotional level.

When we’re emotionally intimate with someone, we are then able to share someone our true emotions.  Our sadness.  Our fears.  Our worries.  And even our anger.

By becoming emotionally intimate, we allow ourselves to slowly and gradually be more and more seen by another person. It creates more love and deepens the relationship.  The other person is better able to know us for who we truly are and we are then better able to know the other person.

This process isn’t easy. In fact, it’s terrifying because it requires us to be incredibly vulnerable.  To be intimate requires us to take down our defenses and expose ourselves with another person with the hope that this other person is going to react with acceptance and love.

And for most of us we haven’t had that reflected to us in our childhood.  We’re used to being judged and shamed.  We’re used to feeling guilty.  We’re used to not being accepted.

We’re not used to other people giving us a safe and loving space for us to express our emotions and to simply say something like, “I know that’s tough.  I’m here for you and I love you no matter what”.

I think this is where dealing with conflict makes things tough.  Because while we want to be accepted and loved by another person, conflict can feel like the exact opposite of that.

Depending on how we were raised, conflict can feel very rejecting.  We may have come to believe that conflict means separation or that fighting leads to the ending of the relationship.

However, the reality is that — and some people have grown up knowing this already — is that conflict is simply a discussion of differences and that it’s naturally a part of being in a relationship.

The reality is that through conflict, if we can communicate in a way where both people take responsibility for themselves and both are able to share their own genuine internal experience, we can actually become much more intimate.

Through conflict we have the opportunity to see another persons’s deep inner wounds, so we can better understand what makes them who they are.  We then have the opportunity to give them assurance that all is okay and that they are loved and accepted no matter what regardless.

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Click to Tweet: Through conflict we can see a persons’s deep inner wounds, which can allow love to deepen. @jenilyn8705 

So how can we better deal with conflict so that we can become more intimate?  Here’s a few tips:

#1 – Be aware of your own relationship to conflict

Are you one who avoids conflict at all cost?  Do you tend to believe that a happy relationship means no arguing?  Do you have difficulty holding the idea that a debate can be healthy and free of anger and resentment?

#2 – Track yourself

When a discussion starts to turn a bit sour, be sure to check in with yourself.  How are you feeling?  Are you angry or anxious?  Are you tense?

When we’re triggered and become angry, anxious, tense, or upset, this is when we are unable to think clearly.  We literally can’t process information the way we can otherwise because our nervous system is outside of our normal window of tolerance.  So it’s important to stop, breath and recognize that you’re triggered.

#3 – Recognize where the other person is and focus on the discussion

Does the other person appear tense and angry?  Are they saying things like “you always” or “you never”?  If so, then it’s likely that they’re triggered.

Remember how I said we can’t process information clearly when we’re outside our window of tolerance?  Well, when you can’t then the other person can’t either.  So its important to recognize that and know when to walk away and cool off. 

When both are cooled off, then a real discussion can happen.

#4 – Be mindful about language

If you want to be loved and respected then know that the other person deserves to be loved and respected as well.  So be mindful about your language by avoiding saying things like “childish” or “selfish”.  Avoid saying things that may imply trying to place all the blame on the other person because, realistically, it takes two to tango anyway.

So, do I really think people don’t want intimacy?  No, not at all.  I think deep down in our core we really truly do want intimacy it’s just that our own wounds and fear get in the way.

How do some of your wounds block you from intimacy?  What’s your relationship with conflict?  Share in the comments below!

I’m an Introvert. Here’s How I Learned to Be in My Power

I always used to be the quiet kid.  You know, the one that hardly ever said anything in class and was often referred to as “shy”.

Rarely would I ever raise my hand to participate.  It often produced too much anxiety to do so — and, I’ll admit, at 29 years old it still can from time to time.

I didn’t have many friends and I would often get teased by other kids for being so quiet and shy.

In grade school, I often saw it as if something was wrong with me.  Why was I not a social butterfly?  Why didn’t I like drawing attention to myself?  Why did I not have many friends?

After all, that’s how we are “supposed” to be in this society in order to be considered “normal”… so why couldn’t I just be that?

Despite getting older and going to college, feeling this pressure to be more social and extroverted didn’t go away.  In fact, it some ways, it got worse.

I got a roommate who was very extraverted and couldn’t understand why I’d want to sit in my room and read or write quietly for hours.  I’d get friends who would get mad over the fact that I would use text rather than call them.  I even got a supervisor from an internship who would hound me for not being “social” enough.

Rather than to accept my own personality traits and harness them, I found myself wanting to somehow prove people wrong.  In order to “show them” that I was capable of being outgoing and social, I found myself agreeing to do sales jobs when they came available.  I’d push myself to be more talkative and try to maintain many friendships.  I figured that, by doing so, I’d receive more acceptance and support from others.

But, at the end of the day… I only felt more distressed and unsupported. I often felt overwhelmed and drained because I was trying to please other people rather than myself.

After a few months of living overseas in South Korea a few years ago, things started to change.  Living as an expat forced me to really look inward and focus on myself.  It was at that point in my life where I realized that the only person who has the power to make me happy is myself.

Click to Tweet: The only person who has the power to make us happy is ourselves. @jenilyn8705

So I became unapologetic about texting rather than calling.

I became unapologetic about not being super-talkative in my work environments.

I became unapologetic about sitting at home reading rather than going to some social event with a lot of people.

And I let go of my desire to please others.  I stopped caring what other people thought or expected of me and I allowed myself to be who I truly was.

As a result, I started to develop an amazing relationship with myself.

By improving my relationship with myself I’ve managed to…

… improve my health.

… reduce stress.

… feel really truly happy.

And by developing an awesome relationship with myself, I started to find myself in work environments where people supported and accepted my introversion.  I found myself in relationships, both personal and professional, with people who accepted my introversion rather than to push me to be something different.

Because I started to accept and love myself exactly as I am on the inside, others started to reflect that on the outside.

AcceptLoveOurselvesOthers

Click to Tweet: When we love and accept ourselves, we give others permission to love and accept us as well. @jenilyn8705

Through loving and accepted myself exactly as I am, I’ve been able to finally feel stand in my own power and be in-tune with my true self.

Which, I suppose, someone who knew me as a kid would never expect.  How on earth can the shy and quiet girl ever stand in her power?

Well, ironically, she can… and it didn’t come from being super talkative, extroverted and outgoing as so many people have thought I “need” to be.  Rather, it’s been by fully loving and accepting myself the way I truly am and allowing my truth to be expressed, whether that pleases people or not.

What do you need to let go of so you can truly step into your power?  Share in the comments below!

The cart is still open for my 5-week course, Your Power: How to Harness Your Energy So You Can Truly Shine!  Click here to learn more.

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I Was Homeless for Two Weeks. This is What I Realized

It was summer 2010 and the end of my lease was quickly approaching for the college apartment I had been living in for a year.  We had to be completely moved out by Friday, but I had to be in the next state over, in Iowa, for a conference as a part of an internship by the Wednesday prior.

Despite my many attempts to find a new apartment to live in for the next chapter of my life, I wasn’t able to find one that was available at the right time.  I managed to get a new apartment lined up, but the problem was that it wouldn’t be available for move-in until another two weeks.

This meant I had two weeks of, essentially, no place to live. 

The weekend before my lease was up, family came by and took some of my bigger essentials for the time being — my recliner, bed, dressers, and so on to put into storage for a while.  However, I still had many other essentials that I needed for another few days before it was time for me to head out, which included many kitchen belongings to cook and eat, along with bath stuff .  You know, the “little stuff”.

So on the day before I had to be completely moved out of my apartment I started picking up all the “little stuff” into my car.  Clothes.  Towels.  Kitchenware.  Soaps.  Extra food and drinks.  All piled into my car to the maximum capacity that my car could hold.

And once I had it all packed up, I started driving to Iowa for the conference for a few days.  The next two weeks involved driving around the Midwest and meeting with friends old and new.

You’d think that maybe I’d feel stressed or overwhelmed knowing I didn’t have a place to live, but, instead, I felt liberated, powerful, and free.  In that moment I had let go of the need to have “security” in my life and, instead decided to live in the moment.  I felt like the world was at my fingertips and I could go wherever I wanted to and be whoever I wanted to be.

It was that experience that allowed me to realize that the world is not in control of my life — I am in control of my life.  Not apartment leases.  Not university requirements.  Not the boyfriend, family or whoever.  Just me. 

At that time in my life it was time for me to be looking for jobs and to start settling down, but during my two weeks of being homeless I realized that it wasn’t the right time for me.  It was not time for me to get a regular 40-hour a week salary job with benefits.  It was not time for me to get married, buy a house, or have 2.5 kids.

I was meant to do more than that.  

In fact, we are all mean to do more than just simply that.

It can be easy to get caught up in what society expects of us: the job, the relationship, the house.  We check the boxes off the list thinking that maybe if we do all these things that we’re expected to do, then it’s going to make us happy.  It’s going to give us security and, therefore, make us joyful by keeping society and others happy.

But the problem is that it doesn’t work that way.  We can’t just plan on pleasing everyone else and expect to be happy, fulfilled, energized, and joyful.

Why?  Because it’s not realistic. 

When we’re so focused on pleasing others in hopes to avoid being criticized or rejected, that’s when we ignore ourselves — and the most important relationship that we have in this world is the one that we have with ourselves.

By ignoring and repressing our feelings, intuition, and inner guidance, we become drained.  That’s when we get stressed out and overwhelmed.  We can then feel disconnected and as if we’ve “lost” ourselves.

But the fortunate thing is that we don’t have to live this way.

We can change.  We can become better.  We can step into our power and fully and completely shine we just have to be willing to do the work.

This is where I am so incredibly excited to introduce to you my brand new 5-week course, Your Power: How to Harness Your Energy So You Can Fully Shine.  The course will help you transform you from the inside out so that you can create a solid foundation for you to fully step into your true power.

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This course is great for you if you’re ready to…

… step up

… restructure your lifestyle

… live a miraculous life

This course isn’t for you if…

… you don’t like to make commitments

… you’re not really sure what you want

… you’re not into personal growth, self-help, or spirituality

Upon taking the Your Power 5-week course you will:

  • Feel lighter, calmer, and more balanced
  • Learn how to focus your energy on things that truly serve you!
  • Experience a zest and love for life again!
  • Feel more in control and empowered in your life
  • Develop a solid foundation so that you can you can shine your light in the world

Learn more!

In the Your Power 5-week course, we will cover:

Week 1: How to Shift Your Mindset for Love and Miracles

  • How our internal focus can impact how we experience the world
  • What mindsets hinder our energy and which can manifest miracles

Week 2:  How to Restructure Your Lifestyle So You Can Thrive

  • How our lifestyle habits can be either draining or energizing
  • A lifestyle audit over 5 main areas of our lives

Week 3: How to Let Go of What’s Not Serving You

  • Letting go of habits that are not supporting us in our power
  • Shifting mindsets to improve our relationships

Week 4: How to Lovingly Care For Your Body

  • How what we eat effects our energy
  • Ways to find a diet that truly supports you

Week 5: How to Allow Yourself to Truly Shine

  • Tools for getting out of a "funk"
  • Key tools to fully step into our power and truly shine

In addition, you will receive two bonuses:

  • How to Let Gossip Out & Let Light In, featuring the founder of Lightworker Nation, Vicky auf der Maur
  • Two Kundalini Meditations to help you get out of a "funk" and find inner peace

With the Your Power 5-week course, you will receive:

  • 5 Video modules + 2 bonus videos totalling over 3 hours of material
  • 3 Guided meditations to help you harness your energy and truly shine
  • Worksheets to help you process the material and set practical intentions for yourself
  • 2 Group coaching calls
  • Access to my private members-only blog posts
  • Lifetime access!

This complete 5-week course is valued at $900

However, because I really want you to learn how to be in your power at an affordable price, I'm offering the complete Your Power, 5-week course for a Early-Bird discount of $20 off. So from now through Friday you can get the Your Power, 5-week course for only $227 .

Are you ready to harness your power?  Click below to purchase and get started!

Your Power, 5-week course

One Payment of $247

Early Bird Discount: Only $227!

get early bird access

** Early-bird discount valid until 11:59 PDT Friday, April 15th **


“Jennifer’s insightful, thought-provoking articles never fail to inspire. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to share her writing on Tiny Buddha, as I know it’s been helpful to readers!”

– Lori Deschene, Founder of TinyBuddha.com

“Jennifer is smart, intuitive and has a sharp ability to cut straight to what shifts needs to take place to live a more authentic and spirit-centered life.”

– Jackie Johansen, Writing Coach, California

11 Signs of a Truly Authentic Person

In the last week or two, the topic of authenticity has been coming up in my life.  The discussion of authenticity came up a couple times in a class and then it came up again during a therapy session.  This led me to sit back and ask myself: What actually constitutes a truly authentic person?

Upon deeper introspection, I came to the conclusion that becoming authentic is a lifetime — and beyond —  process.  It’s like peeling an onion and over time as we grow, heal, and love ourselves more and more, we become more of who we truly are.

There can be moments when we are truly expressing our authentic selves and then there are moments that trigger our inner wounds.   We then find ourselves acting in a way that’s out of alignment with our own inner truth and, instead, acting as a reaction to our wounds being reactivated.

So as I said before, it’s a lifelong process, but this doesn’t mean that it’s something we shouldn’t aspire to.  Just because it may take time and practice to do a headstand in a yoga class, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bother doing the work so you can eventually do it with ease.

So here are the 11 signs of a truly authentic person:

#1 – They recognize the emptiness in material things

They’re not out buying Gucci with the hope that it will make them happy.  While they may enjoy material things, they don’t see it as “If I just have this one item, then I’ll be happy”.  They also don’t rate other people based on the material items that they have or don’t have because they know it doesn’t hold much meaning.

#2 – They recognize that experiences make their lives richer

They’re aware of how life experiences create more meaning and richness in our lives.  They are open to explore and learn, both externally and internally.

#3 – They truly listen to others

They don’t listen in order to respond.  Nor do they listen to others while being distracted by their phone, the TV or whatever else may be a distraction.  They’re able to be fully present with another person.  They’re able to listen to others with a genuine interest and care for the other person.

#4 – They express their true thoughts, feelings and views unapologetically

They don’t say things that they don’t truly mean.  They don’t do things that they don’t really want to do.  They are able to share their own unique thoughts, feelings and views without fear of other’s opinions.

#5 – They’re not out to please people

They know that by living their lives to please others all the time disconnects them from their own inner experience.  The know the importance of being aware, acknowledging, and expressing their own unique thoughts, feelings and views to the world.  They know that by expressing their true internal experience, they are able to share their gifts with the world.

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Click to Tweet: Authentic people know that expressing their true internal experience, they are able to share their gifts with the world. via @jenilyn8705

#6 – They see value in giving love to others

They see value in giving love and kindness indiscriminately.  They understand that we are all connected and are willing to give others a helping hand.  They know that by helping others, they are helping themselves.  They allow and encourage others to express their own truth with love and acceptance as well.

#7 – They love themselves

They see themselves as a person of value who deserves love, kindness and support.  They provide themselves with adequate care to support their own health and well-being.

#8 – They are willing to see and acknowledge their own faults

They are aware they we are all wounded and may have various prejudices.  They don’t judge others for their own prejudices, but rather see it as a part of the person’s own inner wounding that has yet to be healed.  They know that there are aspects of themselves that they don’t like either, and they’re willing to swallow their ego and acknowledge those parts regardless. 

#9 – They understand that we are all unique — and that’s okay!

They know that not everyone is going to agree on everything all the time.  They are accepting of differing views and opinions.  They don’t label themselves as “right” and another person as “wrong” or visa versa.

#10 – They take responsibility for their lives

They don’t blame other people for what happens to them in their lives.  They take personal responsibility for how they’re actions created a certain outcome.  They are willing to look at how they influenced each and every situation and act accordingly.

#11 – They’re connected to their own inner guide

They’ve been able to clear their minds of the constant mind chatter in order to hear an inner voice that is greater than them.  They are able to act in accordance to their inner guidance with trust and faith, despite not having external validation.

Take action now!

Out of the list above, are any of these 11 signs of authenticity harder for you to do than others?  Do some come a little more “natural” to you?  How do you struggle to be authentic in your relationships and life?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Reasons Why You Need Boundaries in Your Relationships and Life

Have you been feeling drained, tired, stressed out, and exhausted?  Do you feel under appreciated, unseen, and unsupported?  If so, it may be that you need to learn how to set some boundaries in your life and relationships.

So why exactly do you need boundaries in your relationships and life?  Here are 5 reasons:

#1 – They give you a sense of self

When we don’t have boundaries in our lives it implies that we don’t have a solid sense of self.  We will tend to take on other people’s thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, and values rather than to have our own.  This is commonly referred to as enmeshment.

When we are enmeshed with another person it means that there is no distinct boundary between you and another person.  There is very little sense as to where one person ends and the other begins.  One or both people will then have difficulty identifying their own unique individual experience and how it differs from the other person.

When this is present, it implies difficulty in differentiation from a parent in early childhood.  This doesn’t mean that it is “good” or “bad”, as it is quite common for most people to have experienced it at least somewhat in their development.

Being enmeshed can be very stressful, draining, and overwhelming.  Relationships can easily get “messy” and a person can feel like they have no control over themselves or anything in their lives.  As a result, a person’s natural tendency would then be to try to control other people, which is codependent.

Learning to recognize our own internal experience and then setting boundaries in a way that honors our internal experience, helps us solidify our sense of self with the external world.  It also helps create less stress and more balance in our relationships.

#2 – You are able to decide how you want to be treated by others

When we have boundaries we are able to effectively tell a bully that we will not tolerate their behavior.  We are able to leave a relationship that isn’t serving us in what we know is in our highest good.  When we have boundaries, we are able to enter into relationships that do support us in our own personal growth and healing.

#3 – You are able to make life decisions that serve and support you

When we have boundaries, we are able to say “no” to that job that is potentially wearing us out by working overtime for little pay.  We are able to say “yes” to taking new career path without getting locked into feelings of guilt or “what other people will think”. 

#4 – You are able to make choices that are better for your health and well-being

By having boundaries, we are also able to make better choices for our own health and well-being.  We are able to say “no” to smoking that cigarette or having a glass of wine and, instead, say “yes” to having some green juice and going to the gym.  We are more aware that we’re going to feel shitty after eating that brownie, so we’re able to turn away and eat something healthier.

#5 – You feel empowered

When set boundaries in our lives, we feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives.  We are able to live for ourselves, rather than through this desire to please other people.  We are able to be in relationships that are healthy, balanced, and equal.  And we have the ability to create a life for ourselves that we’ve always dreamed of.

BoundariesConnectedControl

Click to Tweet: When set boundaries, we are able to feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

How will learning to set boundaries in your life support you in creating a miraculous life for yourself?  Share it in the comments below!

3 Keys to Manifesting a Healthy and Loving Relationship

We all want a healthy and loving relationship.  You know, a relationship filled with compassion, affection, and acceptance.  A relationship where there is respect.

Whether you are single or not, the desire, to some degree, is likely there.  Unfortunately for many of us, even if we are married or in a relationship we can find ourselves wishing that the relationship was different in some ways.  We may feel that the “spark” has gone away and we wish we could find it again. 

Fortunately, regardless of our relationship status, we can give our relationships a “tune up” when we stop to look within ourselves and consciously choose to make some inner shifts.  Here are 3 keys to manifesting a healthy and loving relationship in your life:

#1 – Have an amazing relationship with yourself

If you hate being alone and you’re self-worth is determined by how active your social life is, then you’re going to be giving off a “I need you to validate my self-worth” kind of vibe when out on a date.  If, on the other hand, you enjoy spending time with yourself and feel totally comfortable in your own shoes, then you’re going to be giving off a “I feel comfortable with myself” kind of vibe.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you do hate being alone and have a low self-worth that you’re not going to find a boyfriend.  The truth is that you probably would.  However, there would be one big problem: The guy has equally as low of a self-worth as you.  Which, would then create a relationship where both people need the other person to validate their own self-worth.

It’s a foundation built on sand — and it’s certainly not where one wants to be if they truly want a healthy and loving relationship.

So get comfortable in your own shoes.  Spend time with yourself.  Take yourself on dates.  Go to the movies, go to dinner or take a mini-vacation with yourself. 

Treat your body well by exercising and eating healthy.  Do activities that you enjoy doing.  Give yourself things that you know you need.

When we become masters of our own self-care, we are giving ourselves the love that we truly deserve.  So focus on doing amazing things for you, so you can have a great relationship with yourself.  It will help in manifesting that healthy and loving relationship you desire.

MastersSelfCareSelfLove

Click to Tweet: When we become masters of our own self-care, we are giving ourselves the love that we truly deserve. via @jenilyn8705

#2 – Believe that you deserve it

Many of us want a healthy and loving relationship, but, deep down, we don’t believe that we truly deserve it.  Or, we may even think that it’s not possible for us.  Unfortunately, this prevents us from making any kind of progress in getting that loving relationship.

So if you find yourself struggling to believe that you truly deserve it, make a commitment to reframing that mindset.

One way to do this is by saying affirmations.  Every morning or night you can spend some time standing in front of the mirror and stating out loud, “I deserve a healthy and loving relationship”.  Say this 10 times in the morning and 10 times at night for at least 30 days.  You may not notice the shifts right away, but over time you’ll notice a shift.

#3 – Ditch the checklist and, instead, connect with how you want to feel

We all hold expectations.  If you’re single and dating, it may be an expectation that the person you date has a nice car and isn’t working in retail.  If you’re in a relationship, the expectation may be that you want your guy to clean the dishes after he uses them.

When we get ourselves caught up in such expectations it’s like we are creating for ourselves an internal “checklist”.  We have a list in our minds of things that we want and “need” in order to be happy and fulfilled in the relationship.

Unfortunately, these “checklists” take us out of the experience.  It takes us out of what is happening in the moment in your relationship with this other person and, instead, focused on what the person is or isn’t doing.  It’s a way of rating or judging the moment, which blocks us from truly connecting with the other person and experiencing love.

So the key here is that rather than focus on the “checklist” or expectations, we must focus on how it is that we want to feel in the relationship.  Do you want to feel love in your relationship to this other person?  Joy?  Happiness?  A sense of calm?  A place of comfort in their presence?  How do you want to feel in being in the relationship?

When we focus on how it is that we want to feel rather than on the surface-level details, we can find that what we thought we needed, we don’t really “need” after all.  We realize that the “needs” were all arbitrary — and they weren’t helping us get what we truly wanted, which is love.  Rather, they blocked it.

So let go of your “checklist” of expectations and sit back and ask yourself: How do I want to feel?  And then connect to that feeling.  Feel it within your own being and carry it with you throughout the day.  And, eventually, your relationships will start to reflect your internal state.

Take action now!

In the comments below, share with me how you want to feel in your relationship.  Or, if you’re not in a relationship now, share with me how you desire to feel.

11 Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Has anyone ever told you that you’re sensitive or shy?  Do you have busy days and, by the end of the day, find yourself totally wiped out to the point that all you want to do is rest?

I know I totally relate.  And, fortunately, I’ve managed to learn how to care for myself a lot better all because I learned more about how to care for myself as a highly sensitive person (HSP).

Being a highly sensitive person is a totally normal trait.  In fact, somewhere between 15-20% of the population are highly sensitive.  Which, with those statistics, makes being a highly sensitive person totally normal, however, it’s still a small portion of the population.  As a result, many HSPs can feel alone and as if there are few people that can relate to their sensitivity.

Are you curious to see if you are a highly sensitive person? Here are 11 signs that you may be one:

#1 – You effortlessly pick up on other people’s emotions

Someone walks into a room and you get the sense that their stress, happy, upset, angry, worried, or whatever before you even talk to them.

#2 – You’re conscientious

You’re very in-tune with other people’s feelings and inner experiences so you want to act in a way that you perceive to be right for the environment.

#3 – You’re easily overwhelmed by sensory input

Loud noises, sirens, bright lights, strong flavors, coarse fabrics, strong smells, and chemicals bother you more than other people.

#4 – You avoid watching violent movies or TV shows

You avoid watching violent action or horror films or TV shows because can be too overwhelming for you.

#5 – You have a complex and rich inner life

You may not necessarily consider yourself to be an introvert, but you do have a complex and rich inner life.

#6 – When you were a child, others saw you as sensitive or shy

You were commonly labeled as “shy” or “sensitive” by parents, teachers, and peers.

#7 – You have a lower tolerance for pain than most people

While others may have a headache or feel sick and still be able to go to work, for you the pain is so much that you feel you have no choice but to stay home and rest.

#8 – You notice subtle change in your environment

For instance, you may a smell or sound that nobody else notices.  You may also notice that the food at a restaurant is not very fresh, while others may not notice at all.  You may also be able to sense when a person is on the verge of crying even though you’re not even looking at them or see them crying.

#9 – On busy days, you need your time to withdraw

Being constantly on the go doesn’t work well for you.  When you’re busy you need your time to withdraw from the world so you can recharge.

#10 – You get overwhelmed by other people’s emotions

Being around people who are stressed, anxious, angry, or upset can be overwhelming for you.

#11 – You’re bothered by harsh criticism more so than most people

You’re more easily hurt when someone is critical of you than most people are.

Take action now!

Do you relate to any of the traits listed above?  If so, share which traits you relate to in the comments below!

These 2 Steps in Forgiveness Will Help You Heal and Let Go For Good

Months back I was spending time with an old friend of mine.  We were hanging out with each other, catching up and just having an overall good time.

In the midst of spending time together, however, my friend had eventually said something that had really hurt me.  The words she said, the way she said it and the way she acted for the remainder of our time spent together left me offended, angry and sad.

In addition, as the night went on I had found that my old friend was following lifestyle choices that made me deeply concerned for her own well-being.

I had no idea what to say, how to say it, or even if I should say something.  And so, I kept my thoughts and feelings to myself for the duration of the time we spent together.

Days later when I was spending time with my boyfriend I told him everything.  What she said, what she was doing, and my own thoughts and feelings about the whole thing.

In response, he said, “Oh I’m sorry babe — that sucks”.

But some validation for my pain wasn’t enough for me to heal and let it go.  The pain still lingered.

I knew I needed to forgive, so I looked into my spiritual toolbox and pulled out prayer and meditation.  I started meditating and praying about it in asking for spirit to help me forgive.

I would do it for a few days and the second I felt some kind of “release” I thought I was “healed” so then I’d stop… only to find that a few days later those hurt feelings would arise again.

This cycle continued for weeks.  And since my hurt feelings were still there I’d talk to my boyfriend about it.  Words of “I can’t believe she said that” were on repeat.

And then one day in the midst of my boyfriend patiently listening to all of this, he eventually said, “Well, you can’t control her”.

I stopped and finally realized the cycle that I was really caught in:  I was caught up in a codependent cycle.

A very basic definition of codependency is when one tries to control another person in some way.  It can be seen through boundary violation either externally or internally.

This can come up externally in the wife of an alcoholic who wants her husband to stop drinking so badly that she tries to throw out all the alcohol in the house.  On the flip side, this can come up internally in a husband who doesn’t like his wife’s spending habits so he complains about her behavior all the time.  The first is a clear codependent behavior because there was an external action.  The second is not as obvious because it is internal, but the energy and feelings of wanting to control is still very present — and can still be felt by others.

Fortunately for me in this case, I wasn’t violating any boundaries externally, but the internal desire to control was certainly there — which was, truly, the reason for my deep struggle to let go and forgive.  I wasn’t fully recognizing the faults in my own behavior, so the prayer and meditation just wasn’t quite cutting it.

So how can we follow to forgive, heal, and let go for good?  Here are the two main steps:

#1 – You gotta recognize your own control patterns

Often when we’re struggling to forgive someone it’s because we wish that the other person would change in some way.  Maybe we want them to apologize to us, maybe we want them to reach out, or maybe we want them to change their lifestyle in some way so the relationship can “heal” and things can be back the way they used to be.

It doesn’t work like that.  People are not going to change on your terms.  They are going to change on their own terms.  And though it may be painful to watch sometimes, the most loving thing to do is to let go and allow the person to live, grow, and learn on their own.

PeopleChange

Click to Tweet: People are not going to change on your terms.  They are going to change on their own terms. via @jenilyn8705

#2 – Release it to spirit

Once we’ve been able to recognize our own control patterns, its effective to do some kind of prayer or meditation with the intention to forgive.  Maybe it’s a visualization meditation like my forgiveness meditation in my album Ignite Love from Within.  Or maybe it’s a simple prayer in saying something like:

Spirit of the highest truth and compassion, I’m struggling to forgive [Name] because of [situation].  I have recognized my wrongs in this.  I can see my desire to control and I know that it is no longer serving me or the relationship.  I surrender my control and my desire to forgive to you.  Heal [Name].  Heal me.  Thank you very much.  Amen.

You can tweek the words so that it most resonates with you, but doing some kind of act to surrender and release to spirit/the Universe in some way on a daily basis is what is going to help you truly heal and release your pain and resentments.

Take action now!

If you’re struggling to forgive someone right now, ask yourself: What is my control pattern in this situation?  How am I wanting to control the other person?  How am I controlling?  Share it in the comments below!

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members Around the Holidays

The original version of this article was published here.

Even though we often associate Christmas with a time of gathering with family and friends in a state of harmony and giving, we all know that’s not always the case.

Sure, we experience joy and love in the process of giving gifts and spending time with our loved ones, but it’s not always peaches and cream. There are challenges, conflicts, and arguments. These conflicts can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and make the holiday less enjoyable than we want it to be.

But there are things that we can do. There are 4 simple mindset shifts can help turn a potential challenging holiday into an enjoyable one. Here are four tips to remember during this holiday season to make yours a better one.

#1 – Accept others as they are.

People are going to do what they want to do when they want to do it. It’s not our responsibility to do it for them. Everyone is their own unique individual with their own personal power and responsibility for their own lives. If we try to push or control others in some way, then we are only going to cause more conflict not only for them, but also for ourselves.

So if you don’t necessarily like something that another family member is doing, then it’s okay to say so casually and calmly but then leave it at that. Let them take care of it and make their own choices for themselves.

You are also not going to change someone else’s personality or way of doing things – they have to do that for themselves when and if they want to. You can voice your preferences, but let go of the need to control or force anything because if you do you are crossing over into the other person’s personal boundaries. Everything will happen in the way it is meant to happen. Trust that.

LetGoControl

Click to Tweet: Let go and trust that others will learn and grow in their own way on their own time. via @jenilyn8705

#2 – Set your own personal boundaries.

If someone is asking you to do something that you don’t want to do, then tell them. If there is something that you would like to do, then be clear about telling them. Be clear about what you want and try to avoid falling into the whole “Oh just do whatever you want to do” response. Be assertive and clear about your own personal preferences.

That being said, also be aware of what you want to deal with and what you don’t want to deal with. For instance, if a family member brings up some topic to discuss that you don’t feel comfortable with then say so. Focus inward and take note of how you feel. Be true to that and voice that so others know.

#3 – Try to avoid the political or religious debate.

More often than not, when a political or religious discussion arises around the holiday table it ends up causing an argument or, at least, get fairly heated.  I’d recommend to try to steer clear of these types of discussions. If they come up, we can try to defuse them by changing the subject.  If other people bring up the religious or political debate, it may just be easier to go into the other room and find something else to do.

Most of the time, these discussions aren’t very proactive – meaning, it doesn’t really change or impact anything. It just ruffles people’s feathers. So try to focus discussions more on “catching up” and discussing experiences.

#4 – Take time for yourself.

Even though Christmas and New Years are very “extraverted” kind of holidays where there is a lot of giving gifts and dinner parties, this is actually a very good time to reflect over the past year and reconnect to spirit.

So get out a journal and reflect over your experiences.  Write out a list of new year’s resolutions. Sit down and read some of your favorite Christmas stories.  Watch some of your favorite Christmas movies.  Find ways to reflect and to really tap into that Christmas spirit in whatever way works for you.

Allowing yourself the time and space to look within and connect can really help turn a stressful and challenging Christmas into a truly magical one.

What are some of your biggest challenges this holiday season? What are some concepts that you feel that you really need to remember during this time? What helps you really connect and get into the Christmas spirit?

10 Signs You’re Ready for a Truly Loving Relationship

So you want a loving, stable and committed relationship… but are you actually ready for one?  

Many of us fall into the habit thinking that just because we want to be in a relationship with someone, then we’re ready.  But that’s not necessarily true.

When we don’t take inventory of ourselves either before entering a new relationship or taking a relationship to the next level, that’s when things can fall apart.  So it’s important to check in with yourself and ask: Am I really ready for this right now?  Here’s 10 signs that you are:

#1 – You know and understand that relationships take work

Being in a relationship with someone is kind of like taking care of a plant.  You have to give it enough time, attention and some love and care to be sure it survives and thrives.  If we neglect it and not give it the attention it needs and deserves, it dies.

If you think you can be in a relationship and not really “do” any work on yourself and the relationship, you’re gonna be sorely disappointed.

#2 – You’re willing to put someone else’s interests before your own

Being in a relationship with someone means that we sometimes have to make personal sacrifices for the other person.  Sometimes that means going to a movie that you know you’ll absolutely hate because you know you’re partner will love it.  Sometimes that may even mean making a career change because it will make life easier for your partner or improve the relationship in some way.

When you’re in a relationship with someone else, you yourself are not the only person you have to be concerned about, because now there’s someone else in your life who is equally as important as you.

#3 – You’re willing to work through the challenges

You realize that when conflicts and challenges come up in the relationship that it’s not a sign to leave.  Rather, you realize it’s a sign to work through them, both within yourself and in the relationship.

ConflictsNotToLeave

Click to Tweet: You know you’re ready for a truly loving relationship when you see conflicts as a sign to go deeper rather than leave. via @jenilyn8705

#4 – You’re not looking for someone else to complete you

You realize that you are whole and complete within yourself.  You see dating someone as a “bonus” rather than something you desperately need.

#5 – You’re happy and content being single

You’re able to be happy and enjoy life by yourself and you’re ready to invite someone else in to your life not in hopes to satisfy something that is “missing” within you, but to learn, grow and become more emotionally intimate with another.

#6 – You’re willing to accept another person as they truly are

You’re ready and willing to accept another person’s quirks, annoying habits, and interests that you may not care so much about.  You know and understand that the two of you are not going to always have the same views and opinions as well and you’re ready to agree to disagree.

#7 – You know that communication is important

You’re aware that communication is detrimental to relationship success.  You’re willing to openly communicate your own needs, wants, desires, thoughts and feelings with a partner and you’re open to hearing your partner’s as well.  You’re willing to talk through problems rather than ignore them.

#8 – You know that there will be some problems that will never be resolved

You know and have accepted the fact that the conflict of him being much less clean in the kitchen may be something that will never be resolved.  You also understand that he may never be quite as romantic as you wish he were.

#9 – You’ve tossed your “ideal mate” list

You’ve tossed your checklist that he must to be tall, dark, handsome, be making over $70,000+ a year, and be perfectly stable in his career.  You know that when we make checklists of our ideal mate like this, it may very well be preventing us from getting into our next deeply meaningful and loving relationship.

#10 – You’re ready to share the real you with someone else

You’re ready to share the real you with another person, rather than to try to be some “ideal” that you think the other person will like more.  You’re ready to be vulnerable and you’ve worked through any fears you may have of being rejected.

Out of the list above, what concepts are you still needing to work on?  What do you already know and understand?  Share it in the comments below!