Today – Saturday, 8 March 2014 – we celebrate International’s Women’s Day!
This year’s theme – Inspiring Change – is directly aligned with the work we do at Happiness Weekly and so we are writing a special blog to celebrate. The theme “calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change,” the website says.
Our next challenge was figuring out what to blog to link Inspiring Change to International Women’s Day. We could talk about celebrity women – such as Oprah – who inspire change, or discuss how women in politics and positions of power have inspired changed, point out some great female ambassadors who are doing great things…
After long thought we decided instead to create a song list to help empower women to make the changes they seek. Groupies and love song dedications aside, below is Happiness Weekly’s empowering song-list to celebrate women:
Independent Woman – Destiny’s Child
So Beautiful – Superchick
Sisters are doing it for themselves – Eurythmics
I refuse to be lonely – Phyllis Hyman
Beautiful – Christina Aguilera
Woman’s World – Cher
Girl On Fire – Alicia Keys
I am woman – Helen Reddy
Man I feel like a woman – Shania Twain
I’m every woman – Whitney Houston
Run the world (Girls) – Beyonce
I Am Woman – Jordin Sparks
This One’s For The Girls – Martina McBride
Born This Way- Lady Gaga
Just a girl – No Doubt
You Gotta Be – Des’ree
Women of Intention – Deap Vally
A Woman’s Worth – Alicia Keys
I am beautiful – Candice Glover
Some girls – Madonna
Mrs Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel
Go Girl – Ciara
Lady Marmalade – Christina Aguilera
I’m a woman – Peggy Lee
Who says – Selena Gomez
Womanizer – Britney Spears
If I were your woman – Gladys Knight & the Pips
Only girl in the world – Rihanna
Your woman – White Town
My girl – Temptations
Brave – Sara Bareillies
The greatest love of all – Whitney Houston
Girls just want to have fun – Cindy Lauper
Foxy Lady – Jimi Hendrix
Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Video – Indie Arie
Big girls don’t cry – Fergie
Feeling Good – Jennifer Hudson
Survivor – Destiny’s Child
Proud – Heather Small
I intend to live forever. So far, so good. Steven Wright
In April last year we wrote Practical ways to live longer (Part I) which gave a series of suggestions for how we can proactively work now towards a longer, healthier life. Today Happiness Weekly is releasing the second part of this blog – for no other reason other than life is beautiful and we want to be here to enjoy it for as long as we possibly can!
Don’t define yourself by numbers
Ditch the scales, stop looking at your bank account, realise that only you care about your dress size. Fortunately for us, these numbers do not create our worth – so don’t use them as a guide because it will create unnecessary stress.
Studies have shown that strength training twice a week for 30 minutes can actually make your body 15 to 20 years younger in terms of restoring the muscle mass and regaining bone density. Remember there’s no need to turn yourself into the incredible hulk with all the protein shakes though – these may not be so good for prolonging life!
Keep an even mood
Research by US psychologist Dr Howard Friedman and Dr Leslie Martin found children that are cheerful are less likely to live to an old age. It is thought that relentlessly happy people may be prone to underestimate risks to their health and thereby fail to take precautions or follow medical advice.
Don’t fake it – smile authentically
The more authentic your smile and the broader you smile, the longer you will live. Smiling triggers the release of chemicals that can make you feel happier, even if you’re faking it. Better still, laughing boosts levels of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells. A good laugh can improve blood flow by more than 20% and possibly reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Instead of avoiding stress, find a job that challenges you – hard work and accomplishment is a strong predictor of long life. Studies have shown that those with the most career success are the least likely to die young. Also wait five more years to retire – Greek researchers have discovered it decreases mortality rate during that period by 10%!
People who stop lying after instructed have been found to have significant health improvements in just ten weeks, with fewer mental health complaints – such as tension and fewer physical complaints – such as migraines and headaches. Lying triggers stress hormones that increase heart rate and breathing, slow digestion and cause tension and hypersensitivity in muscles and nerve fibres.
Enjoy a glass of red wine each night
A glass of red wine could reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and the slow progression of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease due to the flavonoids and resveratrol compounds it contains. Be cautious though, just two glasses more could put you at increased risk of developing mouth, throat, oesophagus, breast and bowel cancer.
Don’t eat peanuts
If you’re looking to keep your weight down: avoid eating peanuts! Just 100g of peanuts is 622 calories which will take an hour of swimming to burn off! If you’re looking for a healthy snack, you’re safer eating a few almonds or better still celery, carrots and capsicum.
Work on your relationship with your parents
Studies have shown those who aren’t particularly close to their parents end up developing high blood pressure, alcoholism or heart disease by mid-life. A closer relationship will promote survival by putting you at less risk of developing these conditions.
Fight it out
Arguing may not be much fun, but suppressed anger can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, heart problems and increased risk of cancer. Studies show that people who suppress their anger are 25% more likely to die early.
People who play golf live an average of five years longer than non-golfers which may be because they’re outside for four to five hours at a time and they walk six to seven kilometres. Yoga is also recommended as when it’s combined with moderate aerobic exercise and diet control it can reduce cholesterol and reverse hardening of the arteries by up to 20%!
Chew your food
Chewing your food carefully will assist with weight loss but it may also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by half – which could be because chewing your food helps to break it down, making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients.
Have a family
Men who are unable to conceive are twice as likely to die early from circulatory disease, cancers and accidents, while women without children are four times more at risk. Adoption may also reduce the risk – so the family doesn’t necessarily need to be by blood.
Don’t watch television
Every hour of television you watch after you turn 25 could shave 22 minutes off your lifespan according to scientists at the US National Cancer Institute. Instead of watching television, get out and go for a walk or take up a sport or other activity – muscles that aren’t used properly will raise the risk of illness and premature death.
Learn a language
The ability to speak two or more languages significantly slows the onset of Dementia and Alzheimer’s by creating a greater brain reserve.
Whether you are religious or spiritual, the gods you believe in want to keep you here longer than your atheist friends. Studies have shown a positive correlation between religious belief and good health. Whether this is due to the better levels of social support provided within religious communities or divine intervention is still not known.
Do you have any strategies that could help you live longer that weren’t mentioned in part I or part II of this blog? Please leave your comment below.
The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself. Steve Maraboli
Loving yourself is the key to successful relationships and fulfilling happiness. Drew Coster from Psych Central believes self-love has more to do with perception than actions:
“Doing things for others doesn’t make you happy. How you perceive yourself for doing things for others means you feel happy. There is a difference. Most depressed people I’ve worked with are conscientious, thoughtful, and like to help others, which is great. But they often do it to feel good about themselves because they have limited ability to feel good about themselves without others’ feedback. They are using the positive feedback from others to bolster their sense of being ‘good enough.’
“If people had more self-love and self-acceptance, that feedback wouldn’t be so important. They would be able to do things freely for other people and not be so concerned with receiving positive affirmation. They would be more emotionally balanced because they have a healthier sense of what it means to be accepting of themselves – the good, bad and everything in between. If a person can only feel good about him or herself by doing things for others, he or she is at the mercy of others’ feedback, and that person’s sense of worth can go up and down like a yo-yo.”
In order to learn to love yourself, you need to know who you are. This Valentines Day, Happiness Weekly looks at practical and proactive ways to find out who you are and discover your self-love.
1. Define what it means to love yourself
A lot of us have it drilled into us from a young age that loving yourself means you’re arrogant or conceited. That’s not true. Be really clear about what loving yourself means and what goals posts you need to look for, how you’ll behave etc., when you do love yourself.
2. Make a list of things you like
This often comes up in my blogs, but it’s important to put together a list of the things you like – why? Because you need to know how to make yourself feel special. Treat yourself – self-care is an essential part of self-love. Take yourself on a date each week until you really fall in love.
3. Spend time on your own
As I mentioned, part of loving yourself is getting to know yourself and the only way you can truly do this is to spend some time on your own. This means completely alone. Stop chatting. Get off the dating site. No Facebook. No Twitter. No email. No phone. Disconnect from the world completely. Go on a walk, meditate, explore a new place on your own. Do something you really want to do. Go to an art show, see a movie, eat lunch somewhere nice, go to a festival … whatever it is, do it by yourself. This time is essential for building up your own sense of self and you will grow to love it. Schedule these “me” days regularly.
4. Forgive yourself for the past
From this moment stop going over any past mistakes in your mind. Learn the lesson and move on. Forgive yourself for hurting people you have hurt, apologise if you can and mean it. Then make a big effort to change from that person were, or you’ll continue being that person and therefore not liking yourself.
5. Move forward from past hurts
This can be a challenging one, but you need to accept the apology you were never given. If you don’t, you’ll never be able to move forward. If you keep going over it, it’s like you’re holding onto that hot coal and only burning yourself. Learn to let go – it’s one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself.
6. Listen to your thoughts
If you have a negative thought, thank it for coming – then send it on its way. What you tell yourself is like a cycle, it affects everything – the way you act, feel and continue to think. Only you have the power to control your thoughts.
7. Be honest with yourself
Although we all have our own realities, there is truth in every story and at the end of the day, you can’t hide from yourself. You know your truth. You were there. If you don’t like the truth in the stories in your life, particularly if they surface regularly, then perhaps it’s time to start having a hard look at your realities and changing them where you can.
8. Follow your passion
Quit with the excuses – what gets you really excited? If you like something – do it! If you want something – get it! You are completely in control of your life and how you spend your time – embrace it! Spend each moment positively, focus on the things that make you happiest and doing the things you enjoy doing. Nothing should hold you back from your passion.
9. Acknowledge yourself
When you do a job well done, acknowledge yourself – toot your own horn! Admit you did an amazing job and really celebrate your achievements. No one else will! So when you achieve something, note it. Even if you keep an “I love you” jar, and keep putting in your achievements and positive affirmations and all the reasons you love yourself in there to look back at on a down day, when you’re not loving yourself as much as you should.
10. Believe in yourself
Listen to your gut instincts and go with them – stop ignoring what your intuition is telling you. Learn to trust yourself above anyone else. Stop going to other people for their opinions and advice and start asking yourself what you think and feel about the situation. That matters more than what others think and feel about it – it’s time to validate yourself more.
11. Live with gratitude
It’s time to wake up each morning and be thankful that you’re here and for the things you have. Appreciating the things you have makes it easier to stand back and go “Wow, I’m really fortunate to be me!” Only allow people and things into your life that you’re grateful for or that will add value to you and inspire you, and in the same token, make a big effort not to lose contact with the things you are grateful for from your life. If you meet someone who’s impacted you positively, openly tell them you’d love to keep in contact and offer them your details.
12. Hand write a letter to yourself
Tell yourself what you like about yourself and how you’re starting to feel after having some time on your own. Talk about your favourite affirmations you have come up with to promote your self-love. Include the things you have learned about yourself, things that you have discovered you like or enjoy doing.
13. Go on a positivity diet
That means everything you consume is now positive. Positive viewing, positive reading, positive speaking, positive hearing, positive affirmations … positive everything. Every single moment of your time should be spent positively. Your diet should only include foods that will nourish your body, eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables – particularly greens. Be mindful of the music you listen to, who you communicate with (online and offline), the conversations you have, how you feel about your job, the people you associate with – particularly the ones you call friends, the art you look at. Consider if each little fragment of your life is leading you to a better place. If it’s not, change it. Cut ties with anything bad or toxic and only allow good, positive things that you love in your life.
14. Stand up for what you believe in
There’s a saying that if you don’t stand up for what you believe in, you will fall for anything. Feel comfortable having your own self-interests and don’t apologise or defend them when questioned. You are who you are, your interest is what it is. Let no one keep you from your passion and standing up for what you believe is right.
15. Seize the day
To be honest, I avoid late nights so I can simply raise early and seize the day. Not everyone is like this, but something you can do is start each day with exercise – it’s the most positive start you can have! Have a plan to do a few activities each weekend. Even if you don’t end up doing them all, you’ll at least be getting out there. Every now and then, be spontaneous, even step outside of your comfort zone – give yourself permission to be happy and do something completely different that you didn’t anticipate. Accept an invitation you didn’t see coming. And if you really want to feel alive, treat yourself to an experience – jet boating, a theme park, an adventure world, buy a ticket to a VIP party or event… get out there and realise what it is to live again!
16. Get an early night at least once in a while
Change your room around if this makes it more enticing – buy yourself some new sheets, light a candle in your bedroom, spray a scent around the room, take an early bath to relax, slip on an eye mask and have an early night – I guarantee the next morning you’ll feel completely revitalised!
17. Be your own best friend
Start treating yourself the way you would your best friend. How would you respond to your best friend if they made a mistake, broke something, or did the wrong thing? Be gentle with yourself. We can be our own worst critics, it’s time to ditch this mentality and start looking after ourselves. This is a great way to become more aware of our habits and automatic responses – you have the choice in whether you want to make yourself feel better or not.
18. Accept yourself completely
Accept that being loved begins and ends with you. It’s often said that if you don’t love yourself, no one else will love you and this has an element of truth to it. Tell yourself you will make the effort to be more loving towards yourself starting today – mean it – and prove it! Respond to people with self-love. Accept compliments openly, look for the good qualities in yourself and pay attention to the beautiful person you are as you let negative comments go by.
19. Give yourself the affection you seek
Studies show the more hugs you get the stronger your wellbeing. Touch is therapeutic for your emotion health and there is nothing from stopping you from cuddling or holding yourself or even touching yourself gently and reassuring yourself, saying it’ll be ok. When we’re desperate for affection we will generally seek it from unhealthy sources – so it’s important to feel comfortable in giving yourself affection.
20. Set boundaries
Stop trying to please everyone and live each day to please yourself by setting clear boundaries. You can still be friendly, caring, considerate, respectful, courteous and helpful and have all the lovely values you want – but learning to say no when you’re feeling overwhelmed is also very important. This is your opportunity to redefine what being nice to people means and making it work for you. Set clear boundaries and expectations so people don’t walk all over you.
21. De-clutter your life
Cleaning a room is a good start, but then getting rid of anything that is generally cluttering your life and soul is also extremely healing. Deep down we’re all hoarders to an extent – start getting rid of anything you don’t need or use. Get rid of everything toxic from your life – physically, materially (e.g. that reminds you of negative things) and emotionally – and make room for all the good. This process also makes you feel more in control which improves your self-esteem.
22. Value yourself
Seriously, it’s time to figure out your self-worth and learn to truly value yourself. Every time you are kind to yourself and treat yourself with love and respect, you reinforce being worthy. The best thing about self-love is the more you have, the more you believe you deserve. Now is the time to break bad habits, get paid properly for your skills, speak up for what you’re worth – the more you value yourself, the more other people will value you too and your confidence will build. Once you make a decision, never look back. If someone lies to you, never go back. Act with your best interests in mind. Believe in yourself – because if you don’t, no one else will.
23. Stop living to tick boxes
Stop stressing yourself out by living to society’s expectations and trying to tick boxes. You don’t need to get married. You don’t need to have children. You don’t need the big house with the white picket fence. You don’t need a lot of material things. Figure out what defines you and what you think success is and strive towards that. Consider your role models – what do they have that you don’t? How can you imitate them? Ticking boxes doesn’t lead to happiness. You lead yourself to happiness!
24. Quit being scared
Fear is the greatest obstacle to change and most of it is manifested in our own minds. Real change requires a fearless look in the mirror. See who you are, know your fears and limitations and quit letting them hold you back. Muster up your courage to live your best life. Reward yourself for being brave. Figure out your blocks and remove them. If you’re struggling with this one try reading the book: Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers.
25. Keep working on it
Your relationship with yourself, just like a relationship with anyone else, needs work every single day. Put the effort into it – you won’t regret it. Check out the affirmation below and the recommended blogs for more information on how to get your self-love on track.
“I am Me. In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me. Everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, because I alone chose it — I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself. I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears. I own my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes.
Because I own all of me, I can become intimately acquainted with me. By so doing, I can love me and be friendly with all my parts. I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know — but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously and hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and ways to find out more about me.
However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me. If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought, and felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded. I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me.
I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me, and I am Okay.”
Denis2005 Virginia Satir quotes (American Psychologist and Educator, 1916-1988)
If you have a moment, please have a look at this poem Live my life for me by BusyMindThinking – it will change your perspective!
Other recommended blogs to check out:
Coco J. Ginger Says – The End
Self-love is not a crime: learning to love yourself by Drew Coster
The ABCs of loving you
Greet yourself with love
Love Love Love who you are now
31 Days of Self-Love
How to love yourself in 17 ways
14 Ways to learn to love yourself
47+ Ways to love yourself better
“Your mind knows only some things.
Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything.
If you listen to what you know instinctively,
it will always lead you down the right path.”
The trouble with most of us is that we’d rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Norman Vincent Peale
One of the greatest signs of success is when people try to stop you from doing what you’re good at by trying to bring you down. Actually, Habeeb Akande said it best:
Whoever is trying to bring you down is already beneath you.
In my experience, from many years ago when I had my own business promoting unsigned bands, it is these negative comments that can actually stop you going further. In fact, you’ll never know how close you were to success if you give up somewhere in the middle. And it only takes one or two people to get inside your head and plant that seed of doubt, that could cause you to turn your back on everything you’ve worked for.
Let me tell you, the biggest mistake you can make is to quit what you are doing based on a couple of complaints. Remember, the glass is half full, don’t forget who you’re there for and remember all your other followers and supporters before giving up. Sure, if you’re only making a difference to two people and one makes a malicious complaint, then perhaps it’s worth reconsidering if you should continue or not. But if you’re getting hundreds of clicks a day, and regular comments and it’s one person who complains … stick with it!
What inspired this blog today? A couple of things.
I follow a gorgeous Facebook page called “Dreams that come true” by Jolita Kelias, who recently posted this:
“Now that the number of my followers have increased immensely in the past couple of weeks due to the work that I do and the message I share, I started receiving plenty of promotional emails which I delete without reading and Hate messages from some of you. I guess some of you are having issues with another person’s happiness and goodness. So here is my message to you:
You have a problem with something, deal with it. Some of you write to me demanding to delete some posts you don’t like. So my answer is – You don’t like it, don’t look at it. No one is holding you here. The exit is in front of your nose – turn that way.
And to the ones who harbour beautiful feelings I say – Thank you for journeying together with me. Hugging you all. Jolita Kelias”
Today I went onto YouTube to look up trailers for some upcoming movies and instead came across these. This is how celebrities respond to mean Tweets directed at them (I found some of them hilarious!):
When I consider the whole scenario of these people going out of their way to be deliberately mean to others, all I could think was this…
The fact that all these negative people that are being referred to – all the trolls, all the complainers, all the “haters”, whatever you want to call them – they’re all old enough to write. Most of them can even spell. They’re all intelligent enough to access and use social media. Using that to deliver such hurtful, hateful messages in a bid to bring someone down who is working to pull everyone up is beyond me. Clearly something is going wrong with the values we are now teaching or maybe we’re overlooking values all together with much faster-paced lifestyles.
And not just the celebrities, but just people and their ignorance in general. Bullying is not ok. Anyone who follows my blog knows Happiness Weekly’s stance on that.
Trying to tear someone down when they’re on their way to success is not ok.
Interfering in anyone’s life in a negative way is not ok.
Pulling someone down when you see them succeeding is not ok.
In fact using words for anything negative is simply not ok.
We all have a right to freedom!
The intention of Happiness Weekly is to make a positive difference to many, many lives. This blog is dedicated to helping people, loving each other and building others up so we can work together as one big team to create a very positive and harmonious future for everyone to live in. If you wish to unsubscribe from something you’re following, and you’re not sure how, Google it! That’s what it’s there for.
If you’re not here to do that, and you’re on my page, or their page or any page that you just want to rip down, then I ask that you please don’t be there because these people are making a positive difference to many other people. And it’s not about you. In fact, I ask anyone with any negative thing to say about someone to first look beyond themselves. Why? Because a blogger can shut a page down and it won’t make a huge difference to their lives – if anything it could enhance it by giving them more time for themselves and to do other things they enjoy without the focus on others. But it’s not about them. It’s about the people who they are selflessly helping, who they are making a difference to, who will be hindered by the blog or Facebook page or other medium closing down because of your negative comment. Same goes for celebrities. What if these celebrities stopped entertaining because of the mean things people said to them? So that’s why I ask, anyone with anything negative to say, to think beyond themselves first.
And on that note, I wish to share this with you, it’s an absolutely incredible YouTube video by motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez. It’s a little lengthy, but please watch it the whole way through if you have time:
I want you all to remember this: negativity can inspire rather than hinder. It can make people stronger. Everyone has a choice about how negativity will affect them. If you’re a blogger, or getting bullied, or have had hurtful things said about you that have knocked you down – which we all have at some stage – then look for the positive and keep going.
Don’t give up.
Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. Carl Bard
Starting again can become almost habitual for some people and they are now experts in their own routine, but for others it can be a real challenge. Being a new year, many people hit the refresh button on certain areas of their lives – some, on all areas of their life.
The other day I was asked how you can guarantee that when you start again, each move you make is leading you to a better outcome from where you were before. Good question! This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can start again and guarantee yourself better results than before.
Step one – make a plan
If you have a plan with goals you want to reach and targets to achieve, you will always be moving forward. But if you move forward blindly, you will find it hard to know if you’re on the right track or reverting back to old ways.
Step two – out with the old, in with the new
Surround yourself with as many positive people, quotes and mementos as you can while you’re going through your change. This will ensure you stay on a positive path and are lead towards more good people and friends. If you have anything residual from your previous experience that has lead you to make this change – I recommend getting rid of it and not giving it another thought.
Step three – allow yourself to feel your emotions
Allow yourself some time and space to really feel the emotions as you go through this change and start again. New beginnings can sometimes be disguised as painful endings, so you may be grappling with various emotions and a lot of them may be negative and holding you back as you’re trying to move forward. There’s no right or wrong here, but the fastest way to moving forward is to enable yourself to process these emotions completely, as painful as it may be. The ideal is to spend 20% of your time on what’s wrong and 80% of your time on what’s right – so I recommend setting aside 30 minutes each day to release any negative emotions before spending the following hour reminding yourself of all the positives surrounding your new life as a result of this new start. Keep doing this until your emotions have fully processed.
Step five – watch your actions
With positive action comes positive thought. Watch the actions you are taking in moving forward. This will reveal if you are truly making a fresh start for the better, or if you’re just running away with intention to return to the past later. If you’re doing something that is aligned to your old routine, start a new routine. If your actions are negative, replace them with something more positive and healthy. Feel free to change your routine completely. For example, I used to be a morning person who loved watching the sunrise – now I sleep in and look forward to watching the sunset. A change in perspective can also sometimes be enough to change your actions.
Step six – squash negative thoughts
If you have a negative thought, or if someone says something negative to you about your changes, make sure you nip it in the bud. Negativity tends to draw us back and drain us of energy. If you are surrounded with a positive energy, you will attract more like-minded people and you’ll have more energy to make more positive changes or to move faster towards your next goal, leading you further away from yesterday.
Step seven – take it one day at a time
There’s no race to the finish line when you’re starting again. Take each day as it comes and really sit back and enjoy the journey. Spend time reading positive quotes. Talk to positive people about their ideas and goals. It’ll open your mind and could lead you to meeting some truly wonderful people who will be welcome on the journey.
Step eight – don’t be jaded
Sometimes we’re forced to start again, rather than choosing it. It could be that we’ve been made redundant from our job or we have discovered we have a health condition that doesn’t allow us to keep our usual routine – don’t be jaded about the changes you have to make. Being jaded or bitter about the changes will drain your energy better spent on looking at how you can make positive changes for yourself. Do some research online for your individual situation and see if you can take some other creative steps to help make your journey more exciting.
Step nine – make yourself proud
If you’re starting again – at the end of the day this is a decision you have made to take positive steps for yourself. Make yourself proud. Live each day for you. While you’re settling into your new start, make sure you do something for yourself every day. Give yourself two months that includes one positive act every day.
Step ten – be mindful
Take time to review the steps you’re taking and the outcomes you are achieving. In order to reach a better outcome than last time, you need to be mindful that your decisions and actions are getting positive results. Being mindful about these things may draw you back to some things that appear like small incidences but these things will build up, so it’s important to regularly take stock along the way. Meditation may also be recommended to assist you in being mindful of your journey and it will also decrease any stress you may have.
Keep your determination – starting again is just the beginning!
I am one of many women that has found themselves stuck in a domestic violence situation where I was controlled like a puppet by someone that was always playing the victim. My friends and colleagues could see the situation for what it was, but there was nothing anyone could say or do to save me. I escaped with a few scars but some people, like Lisa Harnum (pictured), aren’t so lucky.
This week, Happiness Weekly gives you the tell-tale signs that someone is controlling you and some tips on how you can escape safely.
Are you being controlled?
This may sound strange if you haven’t experienced it, but it can be difficult to know if you are being controlled by someone – it’s important that you see the signs as early as possible. Some people who we trust can be extremely manipulative and although we love them and would never hurt them, they don’t have that same care and empathy for us. In fact, if we try to stop them from controlling us, they would almost do the opposite and deliberately affect our lives in a negative way – and that’s where domestic violence situations get out of hand and even become fatal.
Here’s a story of how it may come about, an account shared by Beth Cofone:
“At first, he gives in to what you want from time to time. When a conflict erupts because he refuses to do something you ask him to do, and he becomes angry because you complain about it, his anger passes quickly. He may even apologize to you for being “selfish”. This is just a ploy to get you hooked into the relationship and to slowly make you give in to him. As time goes on, there is less give and more take, until his control over you increases to the point of it being unbearable.”
General characteristics you’ll feel include:
- You need to “report in” to the person – they have the final say on what you do
- They rarely do anything you want to do i.e. if there’s nothing in it for them, they won’t do it
- It’s all about the other person – they don’t share your interests or acknowledge them
- If it’s a controlling man, they generally have a huge sense of entitlement for how women should treat them
- A controlling person is more likely to come across as the victim so you’ll do everything for them, rather than demanding you around. Playing the victim relieves them of any responsibility from the relationship.
- Over time you will be unable to live your life the way you want, because when you do, they make you feel guilt or misery. This means you’ll start excluding friends, cease using social media as you used to, stop enjoying the things you used to etc.
According to Beth, controlling people tend to live by these core beliefs:
1) You are to do as I say, not as I do.
2) You must be subservient to me physically, mentally, and emotionally.
3) All you do must benefit me or else you are a selfish person.
4) Whatever you want or desire is to be denied, ignored, disagreed with or disliked by me.
5) You deserve no personal space or personal time.
6) Whatever you possess must be of use to me or I won’t buy it for you or like it if you buy it for yourself.
7) My ideas and opinions are right, your ideas and opinions are wrong and I will never accept them or agree with them.
8) You must always ask my permission to do anything that is your idea.
9) You are here in my life to do everything I ask you to do for me. But I never have to do anything you ask me to do for you.
10) I must approve how all the money is to be spent in the relationship and you are to obey my decision.
11) Your body is my possession.
12) I am superior to you and you better never talk to me or act in any way that makes me feel I’m not. You can never criticize me about anything.
But be careful of the consequences. According to Beth:
“Be forewarned: If you do not accept the lie/pretense/excuse he is giving you to accept how he wants things to be, you will pay the price. What is the price? He will withdraw his love, attack your character, and throw in some hostile anger or a day of silence just to finish you off. In other words: play by his rules and you won’t be subjected to his abusive anger.”
The control cycle
Every victim of domestic violence should be aware of this chart (below) – known as the “control cycle”. I only found this the other day and in my experience every single fragment on this chart was ticked.
What you can do if you’re being controlled
Anyone can find themselves in a domestic violence situation – it doesn’t matter how attractive you are, how intelligent you are, how happy you are, how friendly you are, what gender you are or what sexuality you are – it can happen to anyone! And it’s humiliating. Absolutely humiliating. Part of the control in a domestic violence situation includes continued lies and manipulation. And people go back for more, even when they know it isn’t right – look at supermodel Tyra Banks who has spoken publicly about her battle to get out of her hellish experience! She feels your pain if you’ve made this mistake! So here’s what you can do to stop being controlled and get out of your situation:
1. Don’t make them angry
As much as you’re angry from all the abuse and you’re ready to let go, DO NOT go out of your way to upset them more in any way. This includes jealousy tactics, irritating them, poking fun at them etc. You need to remember, as much as you want it to be different – and you’ll still be in a lot of denial – this person isn’t wired the same way you are and they know it better than you do. They’re the person in control and they want to control you – you need to accept that and prepare yourself to move on.
2. Seek advice quietly
If you seek advice from authorities, go quietly. DO NOT ask them to contact the person who has been abusing you because it will fuel the controlling person to use it against you. It doesn’t matter what you have in written threats, notes, conversations, photos of stuff they’re doing to you etc, if they end up seeking action against you none of this stands up if they can spin a more believable story – even if yours is the truth. I was given various options in my situation but decided against taking action against the controlling person because the situation would certainly have escalated regardless of what I did. And it did! But at the end of the day, what’s more important: your pride and a piece of paper? Or your life?
3. Plan what you’ll say and do
It’s ok to let them know that you’ve changed your mind about the relationship, but plan how you’ll approach it and be prepared not to go back on it. “This isn’t working for me,” and explain briefly why – but make it about you. They will use every method of control that they possibly can against you to try to get you back in. Without having you to control, they feel worthless and will go in search of someone else – or go back to a previous partner they know they can control. Be tough – remember if you’re openly emotional they will see this as vulnerability and they will manipulate you. Also plan your next steps to get as far away from that person as you can for as long as you can.
4. DO NOT believe a word they say
If they suspect they’re losing control over you, this person will be going out of their way to run you into the ground at any cost. They know how to control and manipulate you and believe me they will use that. They will have you crying, begging, pleading – the amount of guilt they will have you feel will be overwhelming. Don’t play into it. Walk away. Don’t listen to lies, don’t try to rationalise with them – there’s no need for you to respond. Do not try to contact them.
5. Block the person
This is hard, but you need to block this person from your life completely before things get worse. If you have an iPhone you have the ability to block their number and stop them from contacting you. Cut out your mutual friends. Delete people off Facebook if you need to. Even if they approach you – do not acknowledge them. Avoid all contact with this person. Filter your email messages so they go straight to the trash. Don’t leave yourself open to let them back in. Have faith that when you get rid of a bad person from your life – the universe will reward you with a good person.
6. Be prepared to lose your pride
Get set to lose some friends and cut your losses. You can’t control what people think, hear, say or do. The people you lose from your life are ignorant, you never needed them. Save yourself the emotional drain. Hold your head high and get set to welcome the new and far more awesome people into your world. You’ll also have more time to see and speak to the people you have been previously forced to cut out of your life. Enjoy that time and look at it as your only consequence to freedom. Worth it, huh?
7. Leave your life behind
Once you’ve told them it’s over avoid any pathetic attempts they make to try to get control of you again and … VANISH! I mean move out, change your number, change your email, change jobs if you have to. The aim is to make sure this person never finds you again. Gain your control back in any way you can. If you have free time, look into ways you can gain more freedom and more control as you continue to step away from your experience.
8. If they seek action against you
You’ve moved on, they’ve seen it and now they’re really out for blood – they will now say or do whatever it takes to destroy you, your future and your reputation. Don’t forget how great they are at playing the victim. So let’s say they have you served with a restraining order (don’t be surprised, according to legal advice, this is actually common in domestic violence situations as a last ditch bid in controlling you) – what do you do? Consider the control cycle and if it’s worth more humiliation and manipulation. If they manipulated you and authorities into taking action, it’s likely they’ll be able to manipulate others… Consider if you want to see them again when you don’t necessarily need to. If the consequences won’t affect your life, it’s not a criminal charge, then you can settle it by consenting without admissions. What can they do now? That’s the last time they will see you – and for whatever period it is agreed to, that is the only period they will have left to control you. It’s important to note: this is not an admission of guilt, it is about protecting yourself with minimal expense. Try to find out your rights and how it could affect you before consenting, this will be important. Also, brace yourself that this may not be the last you hear from this person. You can find more information about defending yourself against a false AVO published by Sydney Criminal Lawyers here.
9. Distance yourself
If you have been in a domestic violence situation with a controlling person who plays the victim, you will be shit scared. You will know within yourself that this is far from the end of it and only a matter of time before they contact you again, or worse, come looking for you. Take control where ever you can. If they persist, seek your own action, you have the same rights as them – but go fourth with caution. It may be better to consider a move overseas for a while than stick around and continue the fight. Consider your health and wellbeing before stepping in any direction.
Finally, leaving a controlling relationship is hard, but I can promise you – with Tyra Banks as my witness – it is worth it! You’ll be happier without them in your life, no matter what the initial consequences feel like. And remember, to stay with the person or to go back to them, is to risk your health and your life.
My advice: get out, whatever it takes.