Acceptance – are you taking it too far?



My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. Michael J. Fox


The other day I saw a quote on Facebook I want to share with you:

What do you think?

I lost it!

This was this exact thought process that encouraged a dangerous level of “acceptance” towards a narcissist I was entangled with, who was abusing me – and it made me angry that they were actively encouraging it.

I used to tell myself: “It will get better, he’s not like this all the time, he loves me most of the time, he cheated – but he came back so he obviously loves me, those flowers are gorgeous – he is really sorry, he won’t do it again…” The excuses and rationalizing were endless. At my lowest point I went to the doctors to try to get medication to toughen my skin “so I wouldn’t bruise so easily”. When I tell people that, they look at me stunned. How can you get to that point? How can you stay? Meanwhile the excuses went on as I “accepted” this ‘man’ and his treatment of me. What I was actually doing was masking the abuse: I wasn’t admitting it to anyone – least of all myself. (By the way: that medication to toughen the skin so it won’t bruise so easily? Doesn’t exist. And since I left that relationship, my “bruising problem” has resolved itself, in fact, I haven’t had one bruise. Magic.)

Now, let’s get real: what was dangerous wasn’t the above quote (though I still don’t believe it’s a healthy way of thinking) – but the risk was that I had mistaken my thought processes for acceptance, when really I had reached a state of “cognitive dissonance” in order to remain in the relationship. While I think my experience was quite extreme, it’s not unusual in domestic violence partnerships or particularly where there is narcissistic abuse for these behaviours and excuses to evolve.

This week Happiness Weekly looks at acceptance – are you taking it too far?


What is acceptance?
According to a quick Google search, acceptance is “the process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable”.

We decide what is acceptable and unacceptable to us at a very young age. Each of us has a little voice inside, which tells us if a situation is acceptable or not – generally we can be guided by our intuition. As adults, we have the power to override this inner voice and choose selectively what we want to accept and what we don’t. Unfortunately we can choose this to our detriment – as in my case – and it’s when we choose to accept something against the guidance of our inner voice that we generally start going down a bad path.

When we go through a toxic or abusive relationship, and perhaps even choose to stay in it, we also stop trusting ourselves. Instead of dealing with it we go into denial, we “accept” it for what is, we look for small flickers of love from the abuser and respond with great gratitude in order to hold on.

Hold on to what?!

If this sounds like you and you have in this moment made the decision to get out of what you’re in, please check out All about toxic relationships and how to let go. If your intuition is telling you to get out of your relationship, I urge you to take the steps needed to follow through.

Setting personal boundaries is essential in any relationship but particularly healthy ones. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship you’ll find your boundaries are spongy or just continually fall by the wayside, but your intuition still lets you know if something is happening that you don’t want. Part of setting boundaries is knowing what is acceptable to you and what isn’t and your boundaries are generally put in place according to this. Seems straight forward.

At any time we are able to adjust our beliefs and change what is acceptable to us and what isn’t – it is up to us if we make these adjustments in a positive or negative direction. When you continue overriding this inner voice and your personal boundaries drop off because you’re choosing to accept something deep down you know you shouldn’t, it’s extremely detrimental to your trust in yourself, and believe me when I say it makes the journey to recovery a lot longer and harder than it needs to be. No matter how experienced or inexperienced you are with life or relationships – your intuition knows best – not your partner, not your friends, not your family, not your therapist: you! You know best.

I also wanted to share this – there seems to be a cycle for everything these days (a control cycle, an abuse cycle etc) there is also an acceptance cycle, which is very similar to the stages of grief. Every time we accept something, this is what we go through (and in looking at this we can also see how easy it is to fall into the trap of cognitive dissonance):



What is cognitive dissonance?
According to Victims and Survivors of Psychopaths “cognitive dissonance is a powerful self-preservation mechanism which can completely distort and override the truth, with the victim developing a tolerance for the abuse and ‘normalizing’ the abusers behaviour, despite evidence to the contrary”. Some people break it down to doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or vice versa. In my experience I continued to tell myself that if I just ignored the bad and focused on the good, everything would be alright – right? And he was abusing me, so as long as I stayed I could possibly change him back to being the person I had known at the start (common in narcissistic abuse), then I was the better person – right? NO! WRONG! NOT ALRIGHT!

How did I get confused?

Acceptance seems to be the answer to all our questions, everywhere we look. The message we’re given is if we just accept things and people exactly as they are, we will be happier and magically live a stress-free life. The fact is, extreme amounts of acceptance lowers our expectations, and in the process makes us forget what is acceptable to us and what is not – this can then lead us directly into cognitive dissonance.


Why can’t you just leave an abusive relationship?
The reason it’s hard to leave an abusive relationship once we reach this state of cognitive dissonance is the way it closely links to trauma bonding. According to Victims and Survivors of Psychopaths “traumatic bonding is strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other. (Dutton & Painter, 1981)”. Generally there is a power imbalance, the abuse is sporadic, and the victim engages in denial for emotional self-protection and one form of this is dissociation – where the victim distances themselves from the abuse as though it’s not happening to them.

“Since the victim feels powerless to change the situation, they rely on emotional strategies to try to make it less dissonant, to try to somehow make it fit. To cope with the contradicting behaviors of the abuser, and to survive the abuse, the person literally has to change how they perceive reality,” Victims and Survivors of Psychopaths said.

Many people will accept abuse by rationalising it away to themselves, staying in denial, or simply because they feel like the better person for staying. It sounds silly – but the thought process is often because the victim is not the one abusing, it makes them feel better about themselves and their situation. This leads into another example of where begins cognitive dissonance in an abusive or toxic relationship.

“Trauma bonding makes it easier for a victim to survive within the relationship, but it severely undermines the victims self-structures, undermining their ability to accurately evaluate danger, and impairs their ability to perceive of alternatives to the situation,” Victims and Survivors of Psychopaths said.

“Once a trauma bond is established it becomes extremely difficult for the victim to break free of the relationship.  The way humans respond to trauma is thought to have a biological basis… Many victims feel the compulsion to tell and retell the events of the trauma in an attempt to come to terms with what happened to them and to try to integrate it, reaching out to others for contact, safety, and stability.  Other victims react in an opposite manner, withdrawing into a shell of self-imposed isolation.  The trauma bond can persist even after the victim leaves the relationship, with it sometimes taking months, or even years, for them to completely break the bond,” the site said.

For more information about cognitive dissonance click here or check out Victims and Survivors of Psychopaths page.


Deciding when things are unacceptable
There comes a point when someone is hurting us that we need to WAKE UP and see the situation for what it is. Accepting a scenario that doesn’t align with us, as it plays out over and over again, is really unhealthy and there needs to be a point where we stop accepting a situation as it is and start taking action for our own self-preservation.

Often people in domestic violence situations are under a lot of control and feel their options are limited, it’s not that they don’t want to get out – it’s that they don’t know what steps to take in order to do it safely. If you feel trapped in this sort of situation, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) if you’re in Australia (it’s 24 hours), or contact White Ribbon for assistance (they’re very active and helpful on their Facebook), or refer to How to escape a controlling person in a domestic violence situation.


The turning point: how to stop accepting the wrong things
Over the years I have become guilty of being a serial-accepter as I found it easier to accept and say “yes” than to reject: “no”. The more I found myself going along with things, despite my intuition and better judgement, the more I lost sight of what I felt was acceptable and unacceptable. What we need to realise is there does come a time when it’s ok to get angry, take a stand and walk away – as long as you keep going.

It was only recently that I realised we spend so much of our lives being told to show gratitude for every little thing and to accept things for what they are, that we stop expecting the big things to happen. The consequence is our expectations drop dramatically and the wrong people appear in our lives. To find out how you can make yourself happy and avoid this trap you can refer to last week’s blog How to make yourself happy.

In the process of losing our expectations, we forget what behaviour towards us is acceptable – the little signs of kindness feel so much more important than what they actually are, and we clutch to them through adversity, making it easier to draw attachment to another person. This is where we often open the door to the wrong people.

Instead, what we should be doing during times of adversity, trauma and grief is re-learning to depend on ourselves, focusing on how we can make ourselves feel special and empowered – and how we can move ourselves forward. This lifts our expectations, and the higher our expectations are, the more you’ll find the right people are drawn in because they need to work harder to be with us. So, despite what we’ve been taught in recent times, happiness doesn’t come from acceptance and gratitude, it comes from within. Self-belief. Self-love. Self-nurturing. Seeing the pattern here? The turning point all starts and ends with self!


Acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude in their place
Many of us would agree with the Michael J Fox quote I selected to accompany today’s blog post.

However, when we choose to accept everything in an attempt to be happy, the irony is that the things we have accepted against our better judgement and intuition, won’t actually make us happy at all. In the short-term we get to go “Yay! I got this!” and maybe we have something to show for it, but longer-term it won’t impact our happiness and if anything, it will more likely make us unhappy because of the way we have acquired it. Anything acquired in a negative way will often be toxic to us. Also, despite cognitive dissonance as a real condition, long-term we can’t fool ourselves into believing something makes us happy when it doesn’t. We can’t lie to ourselves. We can’t hide from what we believe is right or wrong. This is why it’s important to always be authentic when choosing to be accepting, forgiving or put energy into showing gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong: acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude certainly assist us with living a fulfilling life, but as with everything, they have their place. We shouldn’t depend on these for our happiness or use them as a way of gaining short-term happiness. What do I mean? Acceptance, forgiveness and gratitude can often be used as tools for our short-term happiness because it’s more comfortable or easier for us to choose those rather than really soul-searching and knowing what authentically aligns with us: our values, boundaries and generally what we find acceptable.


A lesson for the abused
“When a simpleton abused him, Lord Buddha listened to him in silence, but when the man had finished, the Buddha asked him, ‘Son, if a man declined to accept a present offered to him, to whom would it belong?’ The man answered ‘To him who offered it.’ ‘My son’, Buddha said, ‘I decline to accept your abuse. Keep it for yourself.’” The Buddha (as told by Will Durant).


Challenge: Find your authentic self
This week I challenge you not be accepting, forgiving or spend energy showing gratitude unless it’s absolutely genuine. The theory is in doing this we will stop inviting lower-expectations into our lives and suffer the consequences.

So dig deep and find your authentic self. Have you been accepting people and behaviours simply because it’s easier for you? Be honest.

This week be selective about what you accept, who you forgive and when you show your gratitude to people because there are people out there who will take advantage of it.

Note how you feel as a result.


Moving forward by relying on yourself
The way forward from being overly accepting of things or surrendering yourself to cognitive dissonance is looking to yourself for validation. Instead of looking to others for signs of love and kindness, know what makes you feel special and validated. This varies for everyone, but start with dating yourself – inspiration provided by Ashley here, learning what you like and dislike and offer yourself ongoing unconditional self-love.

If you are going through something traumatic caused by another person (particularly a partner, spouse or lover), you may go in search of someone else because instead of dealing with something uncomfortable and traumatic, we try attach ourselves to someone as a way of coping. It can almost be instinctive because we’re looking for a knight in shining armor to save us and make us feel better during this horrible time. I urge you to resist this temptation because looking outward for happiness during troubled times in our relationships is simply a way of trying to comfort yourself and it is also how love addiction can start which will see you jumping from partner to partner. Also, your new relationship won’t last, and remember what I said about acquiring something negatively, it may also never make you happy.

Challenge yourself to stand on your own two feet. Wait until your emotions subside and you resolve the situation before you decide to take any steps with the person you’re feeling drawn to because sometimes you’re in such bad condition from the troubled relationship you have that what you’re accepting in your life is also less than you deserve. Stay true to yourself and always remember what is meant to be will be. Have faith that what you want exists and it will come to you in perfect time.

Meanwhile, if you feel that you are taking acceptance too far or even suffering from cognitive dissonance in an attempt to comprehend and/or remain in an abusive relationship, please seek professional help with a psychologist, counsellor or life coach (such as Melanie Tonia Evans) to help you through your healing journey.

How to make yourself happy


Happiness depends upon ourselves. Aristotle

Knowing how to make yourself happy is one of the most empowering things we can do. Life is constantly changing and everything is unpredictable, which means the only person we can fully depend on is ourselves. If we’re going to spend a lot of time by ourselves, it’s a good idea to know how to make ourselves happy!

I caught up with a colleague the other day and we spoke about the little things people had been doing lately that made us feel special. We could literally narrow it down to: receiving an email first thing in the morning, tapping on the glass to say hello as someone walked by, a guy calling me “mate” when he said hello and getting a thumbs-up signal.

We stopped and looked at each other in horrified realisation:

“How in the hell did such small things come to make us feel so special?”

There are various reasons for this and I’ll touch on it more in my blog next week about acceptance but this week, the goal is to get ourselves to the point where we truly know ourselves, trust ourselves and are full of so much self-respect that no one can shake us from our path. Get set to get completely independent – and in the process learn two things: what makes us feel special and what makes us happy. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can make yourself happy.

So let’s get this mission started!

Everyone is going to be different in finding their path to a happier and more fulfilling life because everyone’s journey is different. We all have different values and beliefs. Thought Catalog has some great ideas about little things you can do to make yourself happier instantly – but here are some ideas for how to make yourself happier longer-term and live your best life in a more fulfilling way:


1. Date yourself

Yes – that is exactly as it sounds. Take yourself to the movies. Go to that new coffee shop you want to check out. Walk along the beach alone. Go to a concert. Visit the zoo. Head to a festival. Literally learn how to be on your own and comfortable with yourself in public situations. Once you’ve learned how to date yourself, set up a date with yourself one weekend each month to catch up with yourself regularly and help stay on top of everything. This will ensure you remember what you like and don’t like and that you are leading a fulfilling life.


2. Appreciate nature

Be conscious of the natural things surrounding you that make you happy. Things that have nothing to do with any other being. Some hints: watching the waves at the beach, the sunrise each morning, the sunset each evening, the rolling hills in the distance, admiring the flowers in a garden on the way to work, the smell after rain falls, the way the shadows fall as the sun passes by each day etc.


3. Choose friends wisely

Select your friends wisely. Surround yourself with positive, successful people and leave the losers for someone else. It sounds harsh, but that’s how it needs to be. Only spend your time with people who are on your level or who can lift you up – if they can’t, really question why you want that person in your life and if you need them there. Make sure your expectations of yourself are realistic – you don’t want to think you’re so good, no one is good enough and at the same time you don’t want to think so little of yourself that the losers get to stay. Your friends should share your belief system.


4. Trust yourself

Learning to trust yourself is essential in finding your happiness long-term. If you can’t trust yourself, you’re never going to stay on the path you want to be on and others will more easily be able to knock you off balance. Once you trust yourself you can start trusting each and every decision you make to lead you to where you want to go. Part of learning to trust yourself could stem from being fair to yourself and to demonstrate what I mean here, I want to refer you to Paul Hudson from Elite Daily’s article: 20 Things you need to stop doing to yourself.


5. Ditch anything toxic

Anything that makes you doubt or question yourself, anything that makes you feel less than what you are, anything that hurts you is toxic – let it go. Be as cold as you need to be when breaking away from everything toxic in your life. Nothing toxic will ever serve you – unless it hurts you enough to teach you a massive lesson.


6. Believe you’re good enough

Self-belief is essential in making yourself happy long term. If you don’t believe in yourself, how is anyone else meant to? Concentrate on tapping into what you think of yourself and if it’s not a positive image, challenge it – why aren’t you as good if not better than anyone else? You may need to work with a psychologist if you find you’re having difficulty with your self-perception.


7. Learn your values

Stop looking externally for approval, look to yourself – ask yourself what you think, ask yourself for advice, find out what your values are. Write down what your values are and the things that you value above everything else. Then say why you value it. If you’re not on the list, ask yourself why not – add yourself to the list and consider why it’s important you should be there.


8. Make plans for the future

Stop waiting for other people to make plans, make your own plans for the future and get started – but make sure you select things you can do all on your own. If you want to go overseas, book that holiday. If you want to start a course, there’s no better time. If you want to learn a musical instrument or take up a sport – go for it! Challenge yourself and start today – nothing is too big or too small when it comes to planning your future.


9. Try to accomplish something you think is impossible

We may feel like a tiny spec in the grand scheme of things but you never know when your idea or your action can make a difference not just to one or two lives but a greater impact on many lives. Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Attempt to achieve the impossible – you might surprise yourself and if you don’t make it, you may start a whole new revolution or learn a whole lot of new and exciting things along the way!

If you still feel alone in this quest for making yourself happy, I recommend two books that helped me in changing and shaping my journey: God on a Harley by Joan Brady and Marry Yourself First by Ken Donaldson and The End – a blog post written by Coco J Ginger.






With a little help from our friends


A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities. William Arthur Ward

Whenever there’s a catastrophe in your life, who do you turn to?

Generally during times of adversity, we turn to our family and friends for support as we know and trust they have our best interests at heart while we rebuild ourselves. Despite all the hard times I have come up against in my time, I am so fortunate for the friendships I have made and the family I have. I never have to look far for someone to talk to; my social calendar is always full; human contact is never far away – I always have the phone glued to my ear or I’m texting. I can honestly step back and say my life right at this point in time, without doubt, is the best it has been in several years because of the people I currently have in it.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing and my friends can testify to that. I’ve had to weed the odd person out, and some of them were so deeply implanted that getting them out of my life was almost impossible. There were even times I actually believed poison ivy could grow into a rose bush – and when I was disappointed, my friends gave me that extra strength to dig that ivy out. What I learned? Some people genuinely want you to be unhappy. I can’t tell you how much trouble I had accepting such a simple fact: psychopaths exist. They walk among us, just like normal people. On several occasions it has taken me a while to snap out of the denial, stop trying to help the ivy in hope of roses and accept: it is what it is. Unfortunately I got hurt in the process.

Oscar Wilde said it best “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go”.

So despite the immense pain I felt, I weeded my garden and in the process I started to accept that sometimes there are people who simply can’t be helped. So, although it was difficult to get rid of some of the weeds, it proved worth it because once the weeds were gone, there was so much space in the garden for more roses, daisies and sunflowers. This week Happiness Weekly looks at friendship and how it can inspire happiness – whether you’re sad or already happy – having friends to share your life with is essential to a happy existence.

Often I harp on about the best things in life being free and it would appear this philosophy is supported by the Daily Mail with their article Money DOESN’T buy happiness: how friends and family – not flashy possessions – bring true contentment. The article talks about the happiness that lies in gratifying relationships, and says research has shown a close circle of friends and family is most important for happiness and that material possessions such as iPhones, computers, wealth and owning a sports car do not provide the same level of contentment.

This Emotional Life said close, loving relationships are crucial to our wellbeing and happiness because they create a psychological space that makes us feel safe to explore and learn and it’s in that environment that we can build resources for times of stress and adversity. It’s like a squirrel stockpiling their acorns for the winter, because winter is sure to come, just as with times of adversity.

The Connection and Happiness article by This Emotional Life says belonging to something such as a group or community gives us a sense of identity. Plus, people with strong social connections have been found to have less stress-related health problems, are lower risk of mental illness and recover faster from trauma or illness.

Both introverts and extraverts are happier in the company of others than on their own. It makes us more pleasant, helpful and sociable. “So being around people makes us feel happier, and when we are happier we are more fun to be around, creating an “upward spiral” of happiness,” This Emotional Life concluded.

Happiness is contagious according to Psychologist James H Fowler, who found that it benefits other people through three degrees of connection and the effects can last for a year. “We found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness,” James said.

Some people, such as Alex Roberts, believe having fewer friends is most important to your happiness because they are real friends. It’s our close relationships that gives us greater meaning and support. This supports that quality not quantity is most important when it comes to our friendships, which is why we must weed our gardens and have an overall clear out from time to time.

Others, such as this article found on the Huffington Post believe a larger circle of friends is the key to happiness. It’s been discovered that broad social networks contribute to our happiness by making us feel more connected and increasing our sense of belonging and self-esteem. Whatever it may be, it’s undisputed that with a little help from our friends, our overall happiness and wellbeing is improved.

But why?

Action for Happiness says research shows people who have strong relationships with a partner, family or close friends are happier, healthier and live longer than those who don’t. According to 32 Keys interacting amiably with friends and family is good for your health because it reduces stress. When we’re healthy we’re able to be happier because our worries and anxieties are reduced.

The Pursuit of Happiness talks about happiness according to Aristotle. According to the article, Aristotle recognised friendship as one of the most important virtues in achieving happiness – but not just any friendship, it was a particular type of friendship we needed to seek. The type of friendship he encouraged us to have is one “based on a person wishing the best for their friends regardless of utility of pleasure”. This type of friendship is long-lasting yet tough to obtain because it takes a lot of work to have complete and honourable friendships. It’s worth it though, as it brings us the most enjoyment by combining pleasure and integrity which brings our emotions and intellect the most fulfilment of any other friendship. For this reason, Aristotle would conclude we couldn’t have many friendships because of the amount of time and care that a virtuous friendship requires.

In more recent times Drake Baer has spoken about why our friendships shape our happiness, creativity and career saying the people we know “affect us in subtly major ways”. His reasons touch on the fact that our friendships broaden our perspective which encourages us to take new avenues and they continually shape our behaviour and ideas.

Whatever the size of your friendship circle, ensure your friends know you are grateful they are in your life. This post is dedicated to all my friends and family for their constant support, love and help with weeding the garden. I love you!

In what ways do your friendships evoke happiness in you?


How to stop questioning yourself

Stop questioning yourself

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. Albert Einstein

When we live through a traumatic event we generally find ourselves coming out with a million questions that whir around our brains like a broken record. The same questions come up over and over again – depending on the trauma and the scale of how bad it was, you could literally feel as though you’re driving yourself crazy. This constant questioning that can become like an obsession is a form of hyper self-analysis.

By questioning ourselves after a traumatic event we are looking at ways we can take responsibility for our situation. We question ourselves, making ourselves accountable as a way to avoid blaming anyone else and keeping us in control. This is healthy. But when the questioning become obsessive and continuous, and starts adding to our anxiety, this is where it becomes a problem. It’s important to know when to stop.

The types of questions we ask ourselves following a traumatic event can be narrowed down to: What is wrong with me? What else could I have done? What is going to happen? How will I get out of this? This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can stop questioning yourself so you can start living a more fulfilling life that enables you to let go of the past.

Realise there is nothing wrong with you
Let’s get something straight right now – there is nothing wrong with you. In fact, most of the time when we are questioning ourselves on things, there is nothing wrong with us, instead our constant questioning of ourselves can be a direct result of someone deliberately hurting us and our self-esteem. Be confident that there is nothing wrong with you – it’s the first step in moving forward.

Understand that continually questioning yourself feeds anxiety
Stop and ask yourself what the benefits are in continuing to question yourself and going over what has already happened. It’s likely you’ll quickly decide there are no benefits to the questions and if anything, they may more likely just lead you to have more questions. So drop it! Make a conscious effort to stop yourself from going over it because it’s only adding to your torture.

Accept the past – it is what it is
There’s nothing we can do about the past. It’s done. No matter how traumatic the event that has happened to us, there is nothing we can do to go back and change it – no matter how much we wish we could. This is why it’s so important to live in the moment and never to hurt someone you love – because you can never go back. Just like memories – nothing from the past can’t be altered. Make peace with it and leave it where it belongs.

Know that you did your best
Take comfort in knowing that you acted the best way you could, with the knowledge and skills you had at that time. Perhaps the traumatic event has given you a steep learning curve and you’re asking why you didn’t know before. Take the lesson, surround yourself with positive people who have your best interests at heart and continue to move forward with your new knowledge.

Watch your self-talk
The best advice I’ve been given for those moments where we constantly question ourselves over things is to watch your self-talk over the situation. We are constantly talking to ourselves, and it’s important to be mindful that we are also always listening. One tactic in being mindful of your questions is to talk to yourself (in your mind or out loud) as though you’re talking to your best friend or a child. By taking this approach you will quickly discover your attacking questions become more empathetic and your anxiety begins to ease.

Spend time growing your inner confidence
Instead of spending your time questioning yourself over and over about the past, spend your time looking for ways that you can grow your inner confidence so the situation doesn’t repeat itself. I have found some great clips on YouTube that assist with this including this one that I shared through my social media channels the other day where Justine Musk helps us find our deep yes.

Focus on self-love and self-nurturing
Focus on self-love and self-nurturing activities – you can find some tips in my previous blog: Discovering your self-love. Recognise all the things you have learned in your time, not just from this one event, and the strengths you have built on. Practice mindfulness and distract yourself from the questions by listing all the things you know you’re good at and how you make a positive difference to others. Concentrate on being in the present as much as possible to stop you from looking back.

Respect the answers you receive, accept the answers you don’t
As I mentioned, if you continue questioning yourself and seeking answers you will lead yourself to directly ask more questions and the answers seem to leave you more and more unfulfilled. Sometimes when you step back and wait long enough for things to play out, all your questions will be answered loud and clear. They may not be the answers you wanted, but at least you didn’t need to look for them. In the case that an answer never comes, that is something we need to accept – sometimes questions have no answers.

Avoid any self-criticism
Generally while we’re questioning ourselves we are also criticising ourselves for not behaving differently during an event or situation. Another way to look at this is to put doubt in the doubt or to simply question any self-criticism that comes up. Consider what message you are giving yourself behind the questions you are asking and whether that message is helpful or not. If you decide the question or thought isn’t helpful, don’t forget to thank it for coming – it’s only trying to protect us – and send it on its way. You may want to spend some time reading as opposed to asking questions.

Give yourself permission to put yourself first
Following a traumatic event the best thing we can do for ourselves is to quickly learn how to put yourself first and as you heal you’ll really start to do only the things you want to do. Give yourself permission to put yourself first. Stop worrying about the traumatic event or what others think. A great book that helped take the sting out of my situation, and was recommended to me, is called God on a Harley by Joan Brady – it’s a spiritual book about finding yourself. What you learn in this process is that all that matters in order to lead your best life is what you think and feel. You can find more Tips for your inner confidence by Christine Arylo.

Find the funniest way you can to express yourself
Relax. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It sounds clichéd but to every negative, there is a positive and, not to continue with the clichés but what doesn’t kill you definitely makes you stronger! When things are fresh and the traumatic event is serious it can be hard to see the positives let alone laugh. But when you reach the point that you’re ready to let go, learn from the situation and set yourself free – through laughter! Laugh at the situation. Laugh at the person who hurt you. Laugh at your actions. Laugh at whatever you can. Remember, if you can’t find a way to laugh at yourself, find someone else who can, or join a laughter therapy group in your area. It only takes one person to start laughing before you find yourself joining in and when you can laugh at a situation – you win!

We’ve all done it at one stage or other – how did you stop questioning yourself?




Happy International Happiness Day!

Today is International Happiness Day. Look within to find your happiness. Enjoy your day as Happiness Weekly shares what Google says happiness is:

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Live it! Thank you to all my readers x

The importance of time


Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. Rick Warren

As I tell my friends – your time is the most valuable gift you can give someone. It’s something you can never get back. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can best use your time.

There are three very basic yet important things you should do to maintain good time management:

-          Use a calendar so you always know what’s on and schedule appointment reminders to give yourself enough time to get wherever you’re going – and try to always be ten minutes early

- Prioritise and delegate activities to assist in getting tasks done on time

- Learn to say “no” – if you can’t make an appointment, don’t waste people’s time trying. Moral: Don’t try to do too much because when you fail, you’ll let other people down.

OK, now that’s out of the way, you should have more time. The question is – what are you going to do with it?

Finding what to do with free time can be challenging and frustrating until you find exactly what it is that you enjoy doing. Many people forget that while time is the most important gift you can give away – it’s also the most important gift you can give to yourself. When we don’t give ourselves time out from our usual daily grind we risk getting burn out.

Here are a few ideas for how you can give yourself time as a gift:

- Review your goals, see how you’re tracking – it’s motivating!

- Get reading, learn something new by reading an online article or just snuggle in and read something fiction – whatever takes your fancy

- Exercise! Keeping fit and healthy is great for managing your stress levels

- Check in with yourself. Keep a diary, meditate, talk to your inner child about their day

- Make yourself a playlist. Select songs that YOU like and that make YOU feel good (no judgement!)

- Speak to your inner child about the day’s events. Like your parents or guardian would talk to you as a child, talk to yourself – explain things as though you’re talking to a child when you start to feel yourself grumble about something

- Make yourself a scrapbook of your favourite things

- Practise some mindfulness techniques. Sit by water (beach, lake, bay) and list all the things you can see in your mind. Then list all the things you can hear in your mind.

Need more ideas? Fifty ways to have fun by yourself on the cheap by the frugal introvert.

I also wanted to share a few ideas for how you can give someone else time as a gift

- Write a handwritten letter to someone telling them how important they are to you

- Help someone to do something they can’t do on their own

- Do something nice for someone who least expects it

- Write a blog or create a YouTube clip about something you’ve learned to teach others your lessons

- Listen to someone when they need you

- Buy someone a gift you know they’ll like, just because

For more ideas check out How you can pay it forward or Happiness Weekly’s best tips for helping others.

Personal boundaries: why we need them and how to set them


Good fences make good neighbours. Robert Frost

Every healthy relationship needs boundaries, which is difficult for many of us to accept particularly when we care so much for the happiness and wellbeing of others. It’s easy to let boundaries lapse when we like someone, but it’s important to respect yourself and the other person enough that you don’t because boundaries are essential to healthy relationships.

If you have a hard time standing up for yourself, or agree to do things you don’t want to do, tolerate rude comments or pushy people … this blog is for you! This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can set boundaries to attract healthier, more positive relationships into your life.

What are personal boundaries?
According to Darlene Lancer from PsychCentral boundaries are rules and principles you live by when you say what you will or won’t do or allow. There are various types of boundaries including material, physical, mental, emotional, sexual and spiritual. Setting a boundary is all about self-preservation.

According to Wikipedia, personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what is reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how they will respond when someone steps outside those limits. They are built on a mix of beliefs, opinions, attitudes, past experiences and social learning.

Happiness through Humanism says a boundary is a definite place where your responsibility ends and another person’s begins. It stops you from doing things for others that they should do for themselves. It also prevents you from rescuing someone from the consequences of their destructive behaviour that they need to experience in order to grow.

Knowing your boundaries
Knowing your boundaries is really about self-awareness. You need to be able to define your likes and dislikes and set distances to allow others to approach. Consider what you can tolerate and accept, and what makes you feel uncomfortable and stressed – based on your beliefs, emotions, intuitions, self-esteem and social learnings – within the physical, mental, psychological and spiritual realms.

While working out your boundaries, pay particular attention to any situations where you lose energy, feel a knot in your stomach, want to cry or feel panic or frustration. If you start feeling discomfort or resentment in a situation, it’s generally because someone is encroaching on your boundaries – this blog post is designed to help you stop ignoring your needs and start respecting yourself.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Reinhold Niebuhr


How to set healthy boundaries

1. Change your perspective about what a boundary is
If you’re new to setting boundaries, don’t think of it as something you are doing that will cause you to lose friends or respect from others – because it will actually do the opposite. When we have boundaries in place, we start to filter out the bad and enable only the good, positive energies into our lives.

2. Be direct in what your boundaries are
If someone is crossing a boundary, which generally your intuition will say there’s something not right with the situation, use it as your opportunity to clearly tell them what your boundaries are. Be assertive and in the most respectful way, tell them what is particularly bothersome to you and how you can work together to address it. The clearer you are with someone about your boundaries, the more they will respect them.

3. Be honest with yourself
Being honest with yourself about your boundaries and not making excuses for your feelings of fear, guilt and self-doubt is very important because when we start questioning our feelings we impact the power we have behind the boundary. Boundaries not only impact relationships in a healthy way, they are also a sign of self-respect so it’s really important that we preserve them as best we can.

4. What do your values say
Consider the way you were raised and your values and beliefs when setting solid boundaries. This is where you put learning from previous mistakes into practise. Use this as an opportunity to really get to know yourself and what you like and dislike. Are the relationships in your life healthy and reciprocal is there give and take? Really look at your values when setting your boundaries and make sure they align.

5. Put time and effort into self-care
Have you been self-nurturing lately? This is important because it gives you permission to put yourself first. Self-care gives you perspective and enables you to be more present with others and be there for them.

6. Get a boundary buddy
If you’re having difficulty setting boundaries, get yourself a boundary buddy – someone who is either really good at setting boundaries, who you admire or someone who also needs assistance with their boundary-setting and you can lean on each other for support.

7. Monitor your boundaries
Step back and continually monitor your boundaries. See how they are serving you and others. Are they too rigid or too flexible? Ensure you are getting something out of them and the people around you are respecting them. It’s important to be flexible enough that you can change them, but not so flexible that they get overlooked and feel insignificant.

8. Clearly communicate your boundaries
Once you’ve set your boundaries, it’s really important that you clearly communicate them to people, particularly if they are impinging on them. It may be a difficult and uncomfortable conversation to have but don’t be a doormat because the consequences are much greater than five minutes of awkward conversation. Say “When you …” “I feel…” “Can you please do … instead.” For example “When you yell at me, I feel intimidated, could you please talk calmly with me instead?”

9. Reward your friends
If you have friends who are supporting you and respecting your personal boundaries, make sure you reward them and acknowledge them. Acknowledgement can be by telling them that you appreciate their support and friendship, or it could be taking them out for a drink – it’s entirely up to you.

10. Let go
Learn to let go of anything that no longer serves you. According to the Sanctuary for the Abused, toxic people will use guilt to keep you enslaved and bludgeon you back into place if you begin to detach or upset their status quo. Resist this by learning to recognise the guilt trip and letting go of the people trying to control you and hold you back.


Before dropping a boundary
If you are tempted to drop a boundary, you are looking directly at a red flag. Ask yourself what has changed for you in order to drop the boundary. Consider what you or the other person are doing in order to make you want to forget this boundary. Focus on what the situation is really about at the current time and also what implications dropping this boundary may have on you. Consider some other alternatives to what you can do about the situation and how you can maintain your control and preserve your boundary – don’t forget, they’re there for a reason and self-preservation is essential to our happiness and wellbeing.

In protecting the boundary it is again up to you to clearly communicate what you want with the person. You could do this by following this format: “If you …” “I will…” “And if it continues…” For example, “If you continue to yell at me, I will switch off from you completely, and if that continues you won’t be able to communicate with me any further at all”.

Not sure where you stand with boundaries?
Take this quick online test provided by Psychologies Magazine – it reveals the hard truths behind where you’re up to with setting boundaries and gives some tips on the next steps to take from here.

Recommended reading:
- 7 ways to protect your energy and enforce healthy boundaries by Dr Susan Biali, M.D.

- Characteristics of healthy boundaries by Charles Whitfield, M.D.

- How to set healthy boundaries by Britt Bolnick

- Begin to set Personal Boundaries by Oprah

- Setting personal boundaries – protecting yourself by Robert Burney

- Setting boundaries with difficult people by

- Setting and enforcing healthy boundaries by Terri Cole

- Want to boost self-esteem? 10 ways to establish personal boundaries by Barrie Davenport

- Why most boundaries don’t hold up by Melanie Tonia Evans

- Setting emotional boundaries: stop taking on other people’s feelings by Alana Mbanza



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