Tag Archives: boundaries

10 Self-Care Methods for Highly Sensitive People

Do you tend to feel overwhelmed by other people’s energy?  Do large crowds feel like too much to you?  Then you may be a highly sensitive person.

As a highly sensitive person, it’s incredibly important to learn how to set boundaries, protect your energy, and become a master of your own self-care.  Here are 10 self-care methods for highly sensitive people:

#1 – Set boundaries

In a relationship where the give-and-take never seems to be equal?  Are you around someone who consistently seems to try to get you wrapped up in their drama?  Is there someone in your life that makes critical remarks towards you?  Then set a boundary.

The boundary may be set by making a verbal statement or it may be by limiting or distancing yourself from the person.  Regardless of how you do it exactly, remember that its an important component in protecting your own energy.

#2 – Meditate daily

Meditation is an excellent tool to help increase emotional stability, happiness, and mental clarity.  You can meditate to a mantra, do visualizations or even a movement meditation.  Grab a free copy of my guided visualization meditation Healing Blocks to Love to learn more about my album Ignite Love from Within, which includes all these forms of meditations.

#3 – Do yoga

Do yoga at least twice a week in whatever form you prefer.  That could be hatha, vinyasa, kundalini, restoratives, yin, or whatever.  Regardless of the type of yoga, it is all going to help you release the energy or emotions that you’re holding onto in your muscles.

#4 – Spend time in nature

In our modern world of technology and sitting in an office most of the day, it’s not surprising to see why many of us can feel stressed, overwhelmed, or just down in the dumps — it’s not our natural way of living.

So get outside.  Go for a walk.  Walk in the grass barefoot.  Get some sunlight.  Smell the flowers.

#5 – Take a salt bath

Soaking in a bath of epsom salts for about 10 to 20 minutes will help you relax your muscles and restore your entire being.

#6 – Get massage, acupuncture, or Reiki

Schedule regular appointments for a body-work of your choosing.  It could be massage, reflexology, acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, or whatever. 

My only stipulation is that I encourage you to be mindful about who you work with.  You don’t want to work with somebody who drinks, does drugs, and doesn’t take their work seriously.  A careless practitioner can do a lot of damage — especially for a highly sensitive — so be sure that you get treatments from those who do their work well.

#7 – Eat clean

What I mean by this is eliminate (or at least minimize) processed foods and eat organic as much as you can to reduce consuming any pesticide residues.  I also encourage you to experiment to see what kind of diet works best for you and your body.  Maybe you feel best going vegan or vegetarian.  Or maybe you feel best going gluten free.  Or maybe you feel at your best cutting out grains all together with a paleo diet. 

No “one size fits all” for everyone all the time.  So experiment and try things out to see what gives you the most energy.

#8 – Journal at the end of the day

The reason many of us can feel so stressed out and overwhelmed with things is because we never really give ourselves time to process.  We never really let it all out in some way.

While talk therapy is beneficial, it is not the only way to do this.  Another way to help process all the stuff that’s going on in your life is to journal.  The simple act of just getting it all out on paper can be extremely therapeutic. 

A great practice to do put away some time in the eventing to just journal about your day.  If you’re not one to write, another option could be to draw or paint whatever you are feeling.

#9 – Breathe!

Did somebody just cut you off driving down the highway?  Breathe!  Someone come into the office all angry and stressed?  Breathe!  Can’t find your car keys?  Breathe!

When we bring it back to the breath, we are able to let it all go.

BreatheLetItGo

Click to Tweet: When we bring it back to the breath, we are able to let it all go. via @jenilyn8705

#10 – Spend time at the beach

If you’re remotely near a coast, take advantage of going to the beach.  The sand exfoliates your feet and gives you a little foot massage, the air is infused with uber-healthy ions and the sound of the ways is soothes the soul.  It’s the perfect combination to fully relax and recharge.

Take action now!

Out of the list above, which of the self-care methods are you going to plan on doing this week?  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?

How to Deal When Your Partner Isn’t as Spiritual As You

I have a confession to make.

Somewhere around 4 to 5 months into my most recent relationship I seriously considered breaking it off.  The whole dynamic of me being the “spiritual one” and him not being spiritual — well, at all — just wasn’t quite working for me.  How could we make it work when we couldn’t see eye to eye?

So I wanted to breakup.  End it.  Be done with it.

This decision of potentially ending this relationship made me quite distressed so I started discussing it with various coaches and counselors.

“Well, that really depends…”

“Yeah, I think you’re ready for this relationship to end… “

“It sounds like you’re stuck in this place and you’re ready for a change…”

… I would hear them say.

Though this advice resonated with me on some level, it still didn’t feel quite “right” to me.  So I decided to do nothing and continued on with the relationship, despite continuing to feel troubled by this whole “I’m spiritual and he’s not” thing.

Then one day I was listening to a mentor of mine giving a talk about relationships and someone had told her, “I’m so frustrated.  My boyfriend isn’t nearly as spiritual as me”.  With those words I perked up and leaned in closer, giving this exchange my full attention.  “How do I deal when my boyfriend isn’t as spiritual as me?” she asked.

My mentor looked at her with her piercing brown eyes and said…

“You gotta worry about your own side of the street, honey”.

“You’re only in control of yourself”, she continued, “and he is on his own spiritual path.  All you can do is to do the spiritual work yourself, be the light and he will gradually come to his own understanding in his own way and on his own time”. 

I was immediately skeptical.  How on earth is that going to work?, I thought to myself.  This guy wants to get into religious and spiritual debates with me.  He isn’t out to understand and accept — he’s only out to “win” his point. 

But despite these thoughts, there was a sense, a voice deep down in the core of my being that said, “Just do it and you’ll see”. 

And so I did just that. 

I stopped worry about him and started working on myself.  I started meditating daily.  I began reading more spiritual texts.  I started to really implement the work into my life.

I never once preached my beliefs  to him or share with him anything that he didn’t already express some interest or curiosity in.  And if he wanted to debate religion and spirituality I simply set a boundary stating that I didn’t want to talk about it.

I just focused on myself and did my own thing.

And over time, something amazing happened…

We started meditating together.

We started going to yoga classes together.

He started asking me about some of the books I was reading.

Somehow, miraculously, he became more open and accepting.

And you know what else?

Gradually the arguments became fewer and fewer.  And we became closer and closer.

Our love deepened and we somehow became more comfortable with each other and more in love than we were before.

Our relationship progressed to a whole new level.  A level that neither one of us have ever experienced with another person before.

All because I decided to completely focus on working on myself and not him.

So how did I do it and how can you do it if you’re in this situation as well?  Here’s a few tips:

1.  Recognize that the whole “I’m right and you’re wrong” mentality is nothing but your ego. 

So when you catch yourself getting into that frame of thinking, just recognize it and let it go.

2.  Set boundaries.

If you see your partner getting into the whole “you’re right I’m wrong” mentality, then set a boundary with them.  Say something like, “Honey I love you, but because I love you I don’t think we should be talking about this right now” and walk away or go in the other room. 

3.  Be the light. 

Like Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.  Do the spiritual work that you need to do for yourself and, over time, maybe your partner will start to wonder, Hey!  What is she doing for herself?  Cause it seems to work.  I better check this out. 

BeTheChangeYouWant

Click to Tweet: “Be the change you want to see in the world” ~ Gandhi via @jenilyn8705

And if they don’t, so what?  It doesn’t matter because all that matters at the end of the day is that you are being a channel for your own inner transformation — and that makes all the difference.

In the comments below, share with me one thing that you are going to commit to doing on a regular basis so that you can be “the change you wish to see”.

How to Deal with Aggressive People

Aggressive People.  We’ve all dealt with someone who is being pretty aggressive at some point in our lives.

You know, that person that interrupts you when you are trying to speak — or, they simply talk louder whenever you try to speak.  That person who doesn’t seem to allow your own point of view and input.  That person who you feel really crosses your boundaries and makes you feel energetically exhausted.

Dealing with people who have these tendencies can be quite draining and, without a solid balance of both assertiveness and empathy, can create a lot of tension in our relationships with them.

Here are several things to keep in mind whenever you find yourself dealing with aggressive people:

Remain calm.

The absolute most important thing to do when dealing with someone who is being aggressive to you is to be calm and grounded.  Whenever we are stressed, angry, and ready to really duke it out with them, then we’re certainly not going to make any kind of progress.

As the old saying goes, “You can’t fight fire with fire”.  So we have to be sure that we are calm and ready to openly discuss the issue.  This will not only benefit you by being able to self-control, but it will also help the other person calm down as well.

So when you find yourself in the presence of or in an interaction with someone who is being a bit aggressive, then stop and take a brief moment to take a few really deep breaths to get yourself centered.

Empathize with the other person.

When another person is being kind of aggressive, more often than not, it’s because they’re stressed.  Maybe they have a lot of work on their plate that is making them feel overwhelmed.  Maybe they are low on sleep or they haven’t eaten lunch that day.  Maybe they are still frustrated from dealing with the crazy traffic that they were just in and haven’t had a chance to “wind down” from that yet.

Whatever the case, it’s important to know and recognize that the other person is stressed.  Understanding this will help us to be more compassionate in any of our communications with them about the issue.

CompassionInCommunication

Tweet: By empathizing with another, we allow ourselves to be more compassionate in our communication with them. @jenilyn8705

Express your concern.

Next, it’s important to express your concern with the other person.  As a stated earlier, often times a person is acting aggressive because they are stressed.  Therefore, it’s also important to keep in mind that, because they are stressed, it is very likely that the person is not consciously aware of what they are doing.  It is likely that they are simply just acting on autopilot and have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

Because of this, it is important that we respond in a sensitive manner.  We don’t want to aggressively say, “Stop interrupting me and listen!” in response.  Instead, you may want to try to make an empathetic statement like, “You seem really stressed” or “You’re talking very loudly”.  This will help knock them out of this place of being unaware of themselves and be more conscious over what they are doing.  As a result, it can help the person be more open to hearing whatever you say.

Next, you may want to try expressing your concern by saying something like, “I’m sorry, but I’m trying to say something and it seems like you are not letting me talk” or “Excuse me, but can I say something?”

Be honest with yourself.

Do you tend to be aggressive as well from time to time?  Even the most sensitive, quiet, and kind people can still have a tendency to be aggressive from time to time when under stress.  So be sure to ask your loved ones about how your behavior effects them as well.

Talk about it.

Depending on the kind of relationship (for instance, if this aggressive person is a romantic partner, a friend, or family member), then you may want to have a discussion about their aggressive behavior.  Maybe you can both come to an agreement about what the other person does when one of you is acting kind of aggressively.  It may be that you decide to give one of you a loving reminder by saying “You’re doing it again” or by giving them a simple tap on the shoulder or hand to let them know that they are doing it.

By talking about it and making an agreement with the other person, you allow the two of you to be more loving towards each other and you allow the relationship to deepen.

Take action now!

Think of a time when someone was being fairly aggressive towards you:  Maybe there is someone at work at tends to interrupt you or maybe your partner does.  How can you take better care of yourself in this relationship?  What can you say to them or discuss with them that will help make your relationship feel more balanced?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Ways to Stop Attracting Toxic People

A while back I found myself in a conversation with someone about the topic of being around toxic people — or, as I prefer to call it, people who exhibit toxic behaviors.  This conversation led me into a place of reflection where I thought back to what my life had been like a few years ago when I had absolutely no concept of boundaries nor any idea what toxic relationships were.

Up until a few years ago, I was so much most susceptible to people’s toxic behaviors.  I would often deal with people who were envious or jealous of me in some way, who were influencing me to feel guilty for doing something for myself, who were making judgmental or critical remarks towards me, and who were, overall, just downright negative.

Despite this being such a struggle growing up, I realized that at this point in my life I don’t experience many toxic behaviors from others.  It is as if I simply announced to the universe “I am done with toxic people!  I am no longer going to have any toxic behavior in my life!” — and so it happened.

Though simply making that announcement would be oh-so-awesome and oh-so-easy, it definitely wasn’t that simple.  There were solid action steps that I had to make along the way.  So here are the methods I used that will hopefully help you to stop attracting toxic people in your life as well:

Consistently set boundaries with anyone and everyone who exhibits a toxic behavior.

Every time the someone says something critical or negative towards you, tries to manipulate you in some way, or seems to be envious or jealous of you rather than supportive, then set a verbal boundary to let them know that you will not tolerate their behavior.

So for instance, if you’re out singing karaoke one night and your friend comes up to you and makes comment like “You were totally off key” then immediately respond by saying something like “I don’t appreciate your comment” or “Please don’t talk to me that way”.  If they continue to make negative remarks towards you despite your comment then reinstate the boundary again and tell them the consequences, such as: “Please don’t talk to me in that way.  If you continue to talk to me like this when I will leave.”

This can be incredibly challenging at first (trust me, I know!), but it has to be done in order for any change to happen.

Try to avoid feeding them any of your energy.

If a person is exhibiting toxic behavior, the person may very well not want to respect your boundary initially.  They may try to push you to a point of starting an argument or manipulate in a way so that you feel guilty enough to give in and do what they want you to do.

It is incredibly important to not give the person any of your energy when and if this happens.  Meaning, try to avoid giving their actions or words any time or attention.  This is important because, if they are continuing to try to push your buttons, it’s because they want you to crack.  They want you to lose your composure and argue with them because then they can get their way.

So when setting boundaries or making any confrontations, try to appear as calm as possible.  If you have any emotions that you need to deal with later on after the confrontation (which is very likely), then deal with it later through a relaxation method on your own or with someone who can safely support you, like a trusted friend or a therapist.

Create distance from people who tend to be toxic.

One very effective way to get toxic people out of your life is to, simply stop spending so much time around them.  Perhaps this means to minimize conversation with the person or to stop spending as much time with one another.

By creating distance from the other person, we are sending the unspoken message that their behaviors are not something that we not to be around.  Depending on your relationship with the person, this can be extremely difficult.  Keep in mind that just because you are no longer talking with the person as much as you were, it doesn’t mean that the relationship is “over”.  It simply means that the relationship is moving on to a new phase.  The two of you may become close again someday and it will be even better because of this phase — and, on the flip side, it may remain a bit distant.  We can never really fully know.

Recognize your own toxic behaviors.

This is incredibly important.  If we wish to be respected by others, then we have to be willing to be completely honest with ourselves by recognizing our own toxic behaviors and to actively change those behaviors.

For some of us, these toxic behaviors may be obvious while, for others, it may be more challenging.  If it is relatively challenging, then ask yourself: “How do I try to control other people in my life?  Do I struggle to except the decisions that others make?  Do I try to fix other people’s problems for them?  Do I, in some way, try to force them to do something that they don’t really want to do?”

Struggling with a need to control others is what many (myself included) define as codependency.  All of us struggle with this need to control others in some way to some extent throughout our lives.  It isn’t really a “I’m codependent” or “I’m not codependent”.  Rather, it is a matter of looking at it on a continuum or scale.  So for instance, if we were to look at ourselves on a scale of 1 to 50, with 50 being very codependent and 1 being very little where would you rate yourself?

Trust that things will get better.

When we’re in the midst of stress in trying to set boundaries with the people with toxic behaviors in our lives, it can be very difficult to see the “light at the end of the tunnel”.  We may find ourselves wondering why we decided to even bothered to start setting boundaries in the first place because it is causing so much extra stress in our lives.

I can assure you — it does get better!  So keep on doing it and, eventually, you will eventually find yourself in this comfortable place that is virtually free of toxic behaviors.

ToxicPeople

Take action now!

Reflect upon you current relationships and ask yourself: Is there anyone in my life right now who tends to exhibit toxic behavior?  What can I say to them next time they make a remark to me that I don’t appreciate?  What other actions can I take in my life to cleanse my relationships of toxicity?

3 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself to Be a Healthy Caretaker

In several of my posts, I have discussed learning how to set boundaries in order to break our habits of being a people pleaser, caretaker, codependent, and “giver giver giver”.

Though establishing boundaries are essential in order to avoid feeling drained or overwhelmed by others, many of us caretakers (especially when we are first learning how to set boundaries) is to go overboard.  We often set too strict of boundaries, which, unfortunately, cuts ourselves off from truly expressing our real gifts in order to truly help others and the world.

The key, as I have stated previously, is balance.  We want to be mindful over taking care of ourselves while also being open and receptive to helping others in their time of needed.

However, this can be very tricky — especially when we are just starting out with this whole boundaries thing and we’re not too confident over what is okay and what it not.  We tend to fear falling into our old unhealthy caretaker patterns.

And so, this week I have included a video blog (or v-log) to share with you 3 essential questions that you need to be asking yourself in order to be a health caretaker.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the video!  Just in order to recap, here’s the 3 questions to remember:

1.  Do I feel like this person is expecting it from me?

Do I feel like there is a “pull” coming from them?  Is there a feeling as if they need you there in order to “survive”?  If so, it’s a sure sign to give a little as needed but set a boundary and take care of yourself!

2.  Am I feeling a need to control this other person or their situation?

In other words, am I not allowing them to process their grief or sadness by crying?  Am I trying to be a Ms. “Fix-it” for their situation?  Is there any feelings as if I am “proud of myself” for helping this person?  If so, then we may be crossing into the other person’s boundary space a bit and it’s time to back away, focus on our own self care, and trust and have faith that the other person will be okay.

3.  How am I feeling?

This is the ultimate question to remember!  If answering this is difficult, you may want to ask: How does my body feeling?  Am I depleted or tired?  Do I feel like I’m pushing or trying too hard?  If so, then it’s time to back away and focus on ourselves.

Or — do I feel genuinely fulfilled?  Often if we are giving from a place of true genuine love we will notice an opening up in our heart space.  We may feel some flutters and movement in our heart area.  We may feel more expanded or as if we are “shining” in a way.  This may not happen every time, but if we do feel it then it’s an absolute guarantee that we are actually giving from a true genuinely healthy and loving place!

Start giving more from a loving space!

Reflect on the last time that you really “gave” to someone.  It may have been something that someone asked you to do or something you willingly did.  How did it feel?  Did you feel fulfilled?  Did you feel an opening in your heart space?  Or did you feel like you were “pushing”?  Or did you feel like the other person was “pulling” on you?  As if they were depending on you?

Share your experience and/or realizations below!

The Simple Shift in Communication That Will Transform Your Relationships

Relationships are complex. In fact, I’d actually go so far as to say that they are probably one of the most complex things in this world. There’s a lot of different aspects and dynamics to take into consideration when trying to improve relationships.

Yet, despite the intense complexity, there are some super simple shifts in communication that we can make in order to transform the dynamics of our relationships.

The one that I am going to address today is probably one of the most important. It has nothing to do with changing your communication in order to accommodate to the other person. In fact, it has little do do with others at all. Rather, it all boils down to you being able to really focus on you.

The simple shift in communication? To speak in a way that uses the word “I” or “me” in order to clearly state how you feel to others.

For those of us that are people pleasers, this simple little change in communication can be very difficult because we are so familiar and comfortable with focusing on other people rather than ourselves. It is also likely that we are surrounded by friends and family members who focus predominantly on others as well, so it is harder for us to make the change. However, when conscious effort is made it can make a huge difference in clearly establishing where another person ends and you begin.

Many of us are walking around talking about or complaining about other people and things. We spend all of our energy saying thinks like “Jack didn’t do X, Y, Z” or “Sally has Z going on in her life now” but we never actually say what is going on with ourselves. Rarely do we ever simply talk about us.

Not only that, but in the moments when we are attempting to refer to our own experience we talk in general terms like “Dealing with X was so frustrating”. Other times we state our frustrations but focus completely on the other person by saying something like “Jake is such a pain. He never gets his work done in time”.

Other times, we may even do the thing that’s even worse: We refer to the other person when we really mean to be talking about ourselves (I used to be terrible at this). We may do this by saying something like “You know, dealing with Maggie is very stressful” or “You know how hard it is.”

When we express our frustrations and emotions like this we are actually detaching ourselves from our own personal experience. In other words, our way of communication basically telling the world, “I’m not owning my own experience. I’m not acknowledging how I’m feeling. I’m not taking personal responsibility for my own experience.” Rather, we focus on the experience of the other person when what we should really be doing is identifying how we feel and what is difficult for us.

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So what does this shift in communication look like in context? Here are some examples:

“My mom keeps ticking me off. She keeps complaining about X, Y, Z and doing…” can instead be “I feel so stressed and upset because my mom does…”

“My ex-boyfriend had so many problems that I didn’t even know how to deal with it…” can turn into “Dating my ex-boyfriend was really hard for me, because…”

“There’s so much work I have to do for school. Why do they have to give us so much work?” can turn into “I feel overwhelmed with all of the schoolwork I have to do right now.”

Ultimately, it’s not very proactive to continuously talk about other people and how they are impacting us. It’s more proactive to simply state how we feel and express our own experience by expressing it using “I” or “me” in our sentences and to state how we feel.

By doing this, we actually open the door to allow ourselves to receive the very thing that we desire deep down: Emotional support and understanding.

Upon making these types of statements to clearly stating how this experience impacts us, we can then take the next step and (if others are open to it) say what we need right now. That can simply be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or advice.

Being clear, open, and honest about how you feel through your communication with others can really help transform an imbalanced relationship into a balanced and supportive one.

Today, I challenge you…

… to start focusing more on how you feel and to begin to share your experiences by using the words “I” and “me” and to state how you feel.

Get out a pen and paper or journal. Write down a stressful or difficult event or experience from this past week that you have had that you shared with someone.

How did you tell this person the story about your experience? Did you mostly talk about other people involved? Did you say things like “you know”?

Now imagine as if you went back in time to the moment that you shared your story with this person. How could you have told this story differently? How did you feel during this initial event? Stressed? Sad? Upset? Angry? Frustrated? Anxious? Irritated? Write down three sentences that you could have said instead using the words “I” and “me” to describe your initial feelings.

Next time you find yourself in conversation with someone sharing stories try to be conscious of your words when you speak. Try using the words “I” or “me” more often.

*Note: Be easy on yourself when doing this. It will be easier around some people and more difficult in others. That’s okay. It’s a journey and takes a lot of practice. There will likely be times where you reflect back and catch yourself not saying things the way you wanted to say it – that’s okay! The effort is what counts.

Share your thoughts, comments, questions, and realizations below!

How to Deal with Difficult Family Members Around the Holidays

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 some 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.

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

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.

Try to avoid the political or religious debate.

Does anybody have a political or religious discussion that’s does not cause an argument or get really heated during the holidays? I know I have yet to hear of one. Therefore, I’d recommend to try to steer clear of these types of discussions. If they come up, we can try to diffuse them by changing the subject but if other people bring them up 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. Try to focus discussions more on “catching up” and discussing experiences.

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 (I’ve recently found a Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas Magic book that I’m diving into). Watch some of your favorite childhood Christmas movies. Read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke. 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?

What To Do When Someone Gives You Unsolicited Advice

Unsolicited Advice: We’ve all received it at some point in our lives and we’ve all given it as well. In some few cases, if we didn’t know enough about the circumstance to ask for advice then we are appreciative if someone tells us – but those moments are few and far between.

The majority of the time we feel that the other person is trying to take our own power away. We feel as if they belief that we are not capable of taking care of ourselves and knowing what we need. The advice gives us a feel that we have some of our own freedom and autonomy taken away. As a result, we get angry, we get frustrated, we think thoughts like “What gives this person the right to tell me what to do? They don’t even know what’s REALLY going on!”

Though these thoughts and emotions are very much so real and should be acknowledged, its not like we want explode all of those raw feelings out to the other person. The trick is in making our feelings known through a boundary, while also doing it in a respectful manner so the other person doesn’t immediately feel attacked.

The way we respond can vary greatly depending on the context: who the person is, what they are giving advice on, the nature of your relationship with them, and so on. However, there are some statements that can work pretty universally. Here are some examples

– I appreciate your concern, but I don’t need your advice.

– Sorry, but I don’t need advice with this right now.

– I know that you care, but all I need right now is a listening ear – not advice.

– I know you are concerned about me in this situation, but I do not feel that your advice is helpful right now. I’d really appreciate it if you would just listen

– I know you’re trying to help, but I don’t feel that I need advice right now. I’d appreciate it if you’d just accept it and let me learn on my own. I will ask you for advice when and if I feel that I need it.

Though you can use these exact statements, you can also create your own based on the guidelines of the statements I’ve listed above. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Acknowledge the other person’s feelings.

By acknowledging the other person’s point of view, it helps to “cushion” things a bit so that they are more willing and open to hear what you have to say. If we don’t do this, the other person is much more likely to get defensive and not hear you.

State your feelings.

Please make a special note with this that I said your feelings rather than thoughts. I feel that this is key. If we say things like “I don’t like your advice” then that’s a thought that we have. If we shift it around and say “I feel that I don’t need advice right now” it becomes much less attacking. In some rare cases of more intimate relationships, we may be able to go so far as to say something like “Your advice makes me feel like I’m not competent in taking care of myself”. This is MUCH more vulnerable (both for you and the relationship in general), so I wouldn’t encourage to jump into that right away. However, I do feel that it is something worth striving for relationships – especially the ones that are more intimate by nature, like with a partner or family member.

Say what you want instead.

This can be optional, but in doing so it helps to lighten the load quite a bit. If a person is giving you advice, then obviously its because on some level they really care and want you to be okay and do well. If you tell them what you would like for them to do INSTEAD, it gives them the opportunity to still be helpful. It also helps to clear out any confusion that they might have.  Stating what you want instead also HELPS YOU because it encourages you to stand in your own personal empowerment. Doing so encourages you to really fully take charge by knowing and saying exactly what you want.

Overall, when it comes to figuring out how to set a boundary and make you feelings known with someone who has given you unsolicited advice, ask yourself: “How would I feel if someone said this to me?”

This method isn’t “bullet proof” because we are all very different in our preferences. We can also be skewed in our honest opinion of how we would react if someone told that to us because we are more focus on our own aggravated feelings right now. Yet, sometimes doing the whole “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” can help us figure out the best way to word things because it encourages us to step out of ourselves and look at it from an outside perspective.

Finally, pick your battles. If you feel that some unsolicited advice has really aggravated you, then say something. ESPECIALLY if the relationships is very important to you. The reason I say this is because if we don’t say it it becomes repressed and those angry feelings may come out in some other way in the relationship down the road. By sharing what you genuinely feel and want, it helps to “clear the slate”.

Unsolicited Advice

Click to Tweet: It’s better to let your thoughts and feelings be out in the open rather than to hold on to them and have a “blow up” later. @jenilyn8705.

If the relationship is not necessarily a close one, then really check in on how you feel. It may actually be EASIER or a good way to “practice” if it is someone you don’t know very well. Yet, if you know the person may have some toxic behavior patterns and doing so may cause you too much stress, then you may want to hold off. Ultimately, it’s up to you and how you feel. Just remember to be mindful.

Set your boundaries today!

Think of a time when someone has given you unsolicited advice.  Imagine the situation replaying in your head.   FULLY imagine it — make it as real as possible.  Now imagine what you could have done differently that would’ve worked.  What could you have said or how could you have responded to make this person understand how you feel and what you’d like from this person instead without hurting them.  It may take a few tries to fully get an idea.

What did you come up with?  What could you have said differently?  Share below!

How to Deal with Critical People

We’ve all dealt with one at some point or another. That person that seems to always see the bad in everything. The person that is CONSTANTLY complaining. The person who attempts to emotionally manipulate you to get what they want. The person who you feel like “nothing is ever good enough” for them.

Depending on who it is and where you are in your own development, it can be very easy to get sucked in to their negativity. You may start to feel overwhelmed and feel as if they are dragging you down.

Well, the good news is that there ARE very effective way to deal with these types of people that will take you from feeling like a doormat to a strong and empowered individual!

First things first, the most important thing to do is to realize and understand where this person is coming from. Meaning, why are they acting the way they are? I always like to think of it as when a person is being very negative its their unfulfilled inner child coming out and screaming for attention. This shift in perception is not only very real (after all, in psychology nearly EVERYTHING ties back to what we didn’t receive as children) but it also helps those of us trying to deal with them.

So when you are trying to come up with ways to deal with this person, as yourself “If this person were a little kid, how would I act? What would I want them to learn and know?” put yourself in the shoes of a parent, guardian, or, simply, just an adult. (Please note: I’m not saying this to sound or influence you to look at them in a condescending way but rather to recognize the reality that their inner child is wounded… just as we all are).

One of the main things that you need to do is learn and know how to set boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. If you are a parent, guardian, or teacher then you should know that this is crucial to creating proper discipline and having a healthy parent-child, guardian-child, or teacher-student relationship.

So how can you set a boundary in these situations? You can do this by simply making the person aware what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. You can do this either through your words, your actions or a mixture of both.

For instance, if someone is being rather negative and directing it at you in some way with a non-constructive critical comment or simply just some pessimistic attitude you can say something like “I don’t appreciate your comment”, “Can you please not talk to me like that, it makes me feel _____?”, or “I don’t feel like your comment is helpful to me right now, can you please stop?”

You can word it in whatever way you feel is appropriate at the time, but the main point is to make it known that you don’t really accept someone talking to you in this way. You may need or want to pair this with an action. Like distancing yourself from the person or not acknowledging them when they do talk. As you normally would with a child, you may want to say “Please don’t talk to me like that, if you continue then…” and state what you will do and follow through with it if they break that boundary that you set.

If you naturally feel guilty for doing this, then know that THIS IS ONLY NATURAL if you grew up in an environment where there was a lot of shame and guilt-tripping from a negative person in your family. Be easy on yourself and remind yourself that you are setting these boundaries in order to take care of YOU. Remind yourself that you do not deserve to be treated this way and set the standards for how you know you deserve to be treated. Make the person aware of that.

Yes, it can feel selfish and feel like you’re really giving some “tough love” but it is necessary to break the trend and make them clearly aware as to how little control they have over you. If you give, then you teach the person that it works and they should keep acting that way because then they know they can feel a sense of power over you.

Learning to do this with very difficult people who don’t have any sense of boundaries can feel very draining. Especially if they are very used to getting their way with you (the longer your relationship has been with this person, the tougher it is… unfortunately).  You may also feel like they just don’t “get it” and will never “get it”. This is NORMAL and perfectly okay. Know that it is NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to teach them. They have to learn this for themselves.  All you can do is set the example and hope they will eventually catch on.

Over time, they WILL gradually recognize that they do not have any power over you and they will attempt to manipulate you and be critical of you less and less. It is likely that it may never be gone 100%, – they will probably still be very negative about life in general but to know that you’ve stopped them from attempting to manipulate you is a fantastic accomplishment!

If this is a person who is extremely negative to the point that it is easily overwhelming, then I encourage you to create a distance as much as you can. Doing this will probably be difficult, because you may feel guilty for not associating with this person very much. However, remember that you need to do what is BEST FOR YOU! You cannot create the life of your dreams if you don’t focus on doing things for yourself first! By creating distance from the negative people in your life and surrounding yourself with more positive and like-minded people then you allow yourself to grow and receive the love and support that you truly need. If you continue to hold on to this negative and non-serving relationships then you will continue to hold yourself back.

DoWhatIsBestForYOU

To do this, it may involve taking some serious risks – like taking a new job, moving away, even when you have no money or reaching out to new people you don’t know. It is risky and can feel very scary but I can assure you that if you feel and know deep down in your heart that it is what you need then you will never regret it.

Above all, focus on doing things for YOU and your needs. It is the only first step that we can take to truly feel reconnected to ourselves and create the life of our dreams.

Take control of your life when dealing with critical people today!

How as someone been very critical or negative towards you?  What did they say?  How and why was it difficult for  you to handle?

Now, imagine yourself reliving this situation.  What could you have said differently?  What could you have said or done to set a boundary with this person?  How could you have better taken care of yourself?

Share your stories or ideas below!