December 18, 2013

How Do You Trust After Abuse?

Hi all, in this final piece today Susan shares with us her journey to self-trust, which ultimately leads to self-love. If you've enjoyed Susan's series be sure to let her know or visit her website to learn more!



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The trust process begins when a child is born, for some, even before they are born. There is an unspoken trust, a bond that they are safe with their mother/caretaker. Trust builds as the newborn grows. Ideally, trust is nurtured and it supports the child as s/he matures.
It is rare that any of us go through life without experiencing some kind of trauma or incident that compromises our ability to trust. For the adult survivor of child abuse, trust becomes something to be rebuilt, but it can be a hard road sometimes.
The impact of  betrayal is felt in all aspects of the survivor's life. For me, rebuilding trust is a daily test. Three areas in my life where I can see rewards of my work are:
  • Trusting people. It took years before I could trust my therapist and even then I challenged it frequently. I learned to base my reactions to her from our relationship and how she showed up in it, not to resort back to experiences that I brought into our discussions. The truth is those past experiences had nothing to do with our relationship. Taking this lesson into my daily life is an ongoing exploration.
  • Trusting God. While I was growing up, I remember how it was a given that the family, extended and immediate, were Christians. We went to church, I even taught Sunday school when I was 18 (a little known fact about me). There was little discussion about what it meant to be a Christian in our home.  My relationship with God was definitely on automatic. As I grew into my adult years, before my first flashback, I found myself becoming angrier with Him. Really angry. Not until I had many examinations of trust with my therapist, did I realize I didn’t trust God. Now, 15 years later I am confident with my relationship with Him. I trust God. I also see how patient He was, waiting for me to process my (healthy) anger and make the decision for myself.
  • Trusting myself. Over time I learned that trust is not about trusting the other person. It comes down to trusting yourself to make the choice that supports you now. I have learned to trust myself even if it means I am making a decision that is going away from the ‘norm’. Maybe I’m wrong in going out on my own, but maybe I am not. Maybe down the road that one decision to trust myself will have a significant, positive impact on my life.

My message to another survivor of child abuse is that self-trust can be learned. It is a choice and the truth is that some days the choice may be harder to make than others. Making the decision to trust is a lesson in self- trust: trusting that you are making the best decision for yourself with the information you have at the time.
Honoring your feelings the same way you would honor yourself when you have the flu or a cold is part of the process in nurturing your self-trust. Feelings are an easy excuse for not accomplishing a task. One can use feelings to support non-productive choices, just as one can use physical ailments to avoid responsibilities.
As I practice self-trust, I notice how it is connected to self love. Self-trust is part of having compassion for yourself. Trust is a human right. Yes, the abuser(s) stole your right. However, with practice and beginning to use your trust "muscle", you will learn to strengthen it.

Thank you Rachel, for the opportunity to share my insights on compassion, isolation and trust. I will admit that sometimes it is exhausting to reclaim your life. Along the healing path, a sense of self-pride starts to grow. You begin to realize how much you have accomplished, despite your abuser’s attempt to silence you. Talking about survivors' experiences is the lifeline to those who are suffering alone. So much is stolen from the adult survivors of child abuse. Rebuilding takes commitment. It is a choice. A sense of self-pride and joy from your accomplishments gives you the energy and passion to move onto the next experience. You will gain confidence in knowing you are capable in reclaiming your life from child abuse. Don’t forget that it took years for the survival patterns to become habits and a way of life. Honor those patterns. They got you to this place in your life. It will take time to restructure your choices. Be gentle with yourself.


Visit my website for updates on Conversations That Heal, a blogtalk radio show dedicated to having conversations that empower us and help us recover  from childhood trauma. I invite you to sign-up for my free e-book, 100 Tools to Happiness and the bi-monthly e-zine (newsletter), Healing Hearts: A path to loving every part of you.

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Susan Jacobi is a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual child abuse, who advocates for all survivors of child abuse. Susan is a coach, author, speaker and host of Conversations That Heal, a weekly blogtalk radio show. You can learn more about Susan and her mission to support adult survivors of child abuse at http://conversationsthatheal.com

Join her facebook page, Healing Hearts from Child Abuse for daily encouragement on your healing journey. Her book, How to Love Yourself: The Hope After Child Abuse, is available on amazon


To contact Susan you can reach her at susan@healingheartsfromchildabuse.com.

December 11, 2013

How to Break the Cycle of Isolation

Hi all, today Susan Jacobi continues her series. This week Susan shares some strategies for breaking out of our "ruts" and ending isolation.



We all isolate ourselves at some time in our lives. In a busy, stressful world isolation is often necessary for regrouping, getting our work done, or just to nurture ourselves.  But for the survivor of child abuse, isolation is not always a positive, useful thing.  The child abuser often uses isolation as a tool to control his victim. As adults, we are very familiar with the feeling of isolation, while dealing with depression, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorders, and we may even compound these conditions with substance abuse. Isolation becomes a comfort but it is still controlling us.

Our brain is made up of neural pathways.  When a pattern is repeated for years or decades, the neural pathways become ingrained and produce predictable responses.  Just as a truck that gets stuck in the mud goes back and forth, creating deep ruts, our old habits and defenses keep us from getting out of the rut.  The great news is that we really can reprogram our neural pathways, form new habits and free ourselves.  

I work every day to reprogram my brain. When a thought comes to mind, I remind myself that I have choices and I can do something different.  Do I want to go to a coffee shop to meet a friend? Sometimes I do, but sometimes I think about hiding under a blanket, waiting for the day to end.  I find that when I force myself out of isolation and go, I am rewarded by feeling better, nurtured, more confident and accepted!  Making new choices creates new neural pathways.  I have learned how important it is to "make" myself interact with people.  Over time the ruts fill in and my actions, as well as my habits become healthy ones.

We are all human beings and while our stories, like our hair, eyes and skin color may be different, our emotions are universally felt: love, joy, happiness, hope, pain, anger and sadness, to suggest a few.  An abuser will do or say anything to convince his/her victims that he/she is alone within her horrible circumstances.  Take baby steps to reprogram that lie.  Start by telling yourself that that was a lie.  It was a lie told to you so your abuser could take what he wanted.  

Try this for a few days and you will begin to notice how your thinking is changing.  Write down your experience so you will be able to reflect on the new power you hold.  Writing down examples of your experiences will show you that the isolation rut was planted in your brain by your abuser and was an attempt to control you.  

Whether or not you believe that the Bible is the word of God, it is a book filled with lessons of love toward others and yourself. Bible verses bring me comfort. They give me a connection with something bigger than me and my abusers. I use the verses as my private back-up, reminding me that my abusers were wrong--that I AM worthy of companionship. One verse that helps me when I am feeling isolated is from I Corinthians 12:14 (Chapter 12, verse 14): For the body does not consist of one member but of many.


I believe we all have the power to reclaim our lives.  I know how hard it can be; how defeating and even hopeless the journey can sometimes feel.  But I also know how rewarding it is to take back your life, your thoughts.  I want this for all of us.


Next week, my final post will address Trust. To rebuild broken trust can take a lifetime... It amazes me how easily it can break and how hard it can be to reestablish in our lives. Throughout my healing journey, I have learned that it all comes down to self-trust and self-love.  


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Susan Jacobi is a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual child abuse, who advocates for all survivors of child abuse. Susan is a coach, author, speaker and host of Conversations That Heal, a weekly blogtalk radio show. You can learn more about Susan and her mission to support adult survivors of child abuse at http://conversationsthatheal.com

Join her facebook page, Healing Hearts from Child Abuse for daily encouragement on your healing journey. Her book, How to Love Yourself: The Hope After Child Abuse, is available on amazon


To contact Susan you can reach her at susan@healingheartsfromchildabuse.com.

December 4, 2013

Compassion for the Adult Survivor of Child Abuse

Hi all, today we begin a series by Susan Jacobi, survivor, coach, author and amazing woman! In this series, Susan will be sharing with us about her organization, Healing Hearts from Child Abuse and her personal journey of healing from abuse. In this post, Susan shares some statistics about abuse and, importantly, how we can have compassion for ourselves as we heal. I know you will be moved by Susan's story, and I am so thankful to be able to bring her to you! 

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I am grateful to Rachel for inviting me to introduce myself and share my passion and mission with you.  I am the founder of Healing Hearts from Child Abuse. Healing Heart’s mission is to support adult survivors of child abuse in reclaiming their life from their emotional, physical and/or sexually child abuse history. The struggle affects personal relationships, employment, social interactions and virtually every aspect of daily life. We focus on women from 35 to 65 specifically, which allows us to serve this group efficiently and maintain clarity on programs. 


In this age group, it is common for women to experience their first memory of child abuse that they may have repressed until now. There are two reasons women have this experience: the first is that memories are commonly triggered while giving birth and secondly, memories come back when a woman's child reaches the same age the victim was when the abuse began. 


Whether a survivor embraces her past or not, it is almost certain that her trauma will be reflected in her choices and actions. Historically, adult victims of child abuse turn, at some time, to alcohol, drugs, food (eating disorders), acting out with overspending, gambling, self-injury and many more addictive behaviors. The memory is stored in the brain. Yet making the choice to voice it, feel it, and heal it is where the decision to reclaim one's life begins. 


One in three girls and one in six boys is sexually abused by the time s/he turns 18. I am one of those girls. While my abuse history put me in the top 5 to 10% of child abuse severity, the reactions and consequences are universal to all survivors. My first memory is from the age of 4, my last 18. My abusers were my father and his mother. They were involved with a sadistic, ritual cult. Again, statistically the odds my father was not a victim of the same rituals that I was used for would be so low it would be hard to believe that he wasn’t. Maybe my paternal grandmother was used for a victim in her early childhood, as well. I will never know. The fact remains whether they were or were not survivors of the same horrors that I was subjected to does not excuse them for their choices in continuing the cycle. 


According to childhelp.org, 30% of victims will become perpetrators. Men and women are equally equipped to continue this staggering cycle, although men tend to dominate the cycle. It has always amazed me how two victims from the same family can make drastically different choices as adults. One can become an abuser and continue the cycle while the other can turn his/her pain from the trauma into love and learn how to nurture themselves and their children (or other children). 


Knowing the patterns of physical and sexual abuse helps to bring an element of compassion into the adult's life. As a survivor reclaiming my life, it was so difficult to believe and understand that I was not at fault. It was easy to say, to hear, to know intellectually but feeling it in my heart and releasing myself from the pain is a whole other ball game. There is a mountain of painful feelings--guilt, anger, shame, betrayal, abandonment--that must be climbed before accepting the simple phase ‘it wasn’t your fault.’ And yet, that is exactly where compassion towards yourself begins. No matter if your story consists of one violation or 18 years worth, compassion is a lesson that can be self-taught. It will replace the lies the abuser left on your soul. Like a baby learning to walk, it takes one small step at a time. Allow yourself to fall, see what you can learn from that fall like the baby falling after a few steps. You cannot, will not, be able to instantly believe in your soul that ‘It wasn’t my fault’ until you embrace the truth and embrace the compassion and gifts you have to offer your loved ones, friends and all who cross your path. 


Jack Kornfield offers a mediation I find comforting. At first, I noticed how very foreign these words seemed to me. Over time, I learned how much the words bring comfort to me. I want to share his mediation with you: 


May I be filled with loving kindness. 

May I be well. 
May I be peaceful and at ease. 
May I be happy. 

In my book, How to Love Yourself: The Hope After Child Abuse, I write about common struggles we face. Knowing how similar we all are gives us permission to have compassion for our story. If you can’t have compassion for yourself, then have compassion for the child who is being abused as you read this. Have compassion for the 20 year old woman struggling with her anger, right now. We are all that child, that 20 year old. Along the way you will find your compassion for your child self, your 20 year old self, and your adult self. 


Take care of yourself especially in this holiday season. Putting yourself first is an example of self compassion. You are not being selfish, you are practicing self care and nurturing your soul. 



Rachel has invited me to return next week. I will introduce the topic of isolation and how it is used by the abuser to keep control over his victim. While child abuse is more widely talked about now than ever before in human history, victims carry the isolation with them into adulthood. 



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Susan Jacobi is a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual child abuse, who advocates for all survivors of child abuse. Susan is a coach, author, speaker and host of Conversations That Heal, a weekly blogtalk radio show. Join her facebook page, Healing Hearts from Child Abuse for daily encouragement on your healing journey. Her book, How to Love Yourself: The Hope After Child Abuse, is available on amazon




To contact Susan you can reach her at susan@healingheartsfromchildabuse.com.

November 27, 2013

What is the Hidden Problem Behind Obesity?

As a final thought in this series on how abuse impacts our body image, weight, and health, I want to share with you this Ted talk by surgeon, Peter Attia who was moved to question his own judgments and assumptions about obesity and came  to a whole new understanding of how the precursors to a disease, in this case diabetes, cause obesity, and not the other way around.






Have you ever judge someone for having a disease or being overweight and later discovered there was much more to the story? That is wasn't just a "lazy" thing?

November 12, 2013

Does Child Abuse Make You Sick?

I want to share with you today this interview with Dr. Vincent Felitti by Safe Space Radio host Dr. Anne. She speaks with Dr. Felitti

"...about his groundbreaking research to show that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s, like abuse, neglect and severe family dysfunction) are correlated not only with mental illness and addiction, but also with physical illnesses like heart disease, lung disease and even auto-immune diseases.  He reports that just asking patients about the presence of such painful experiences results in fewer medical emergencies and need for extra doctors visits.   Over 17,000 patients were part of a study, showing that the prevalence of ACE’s is terribly high (28% of children experience harsh physical abuse like beatings, and 22% suffer sexual abuse, 16% of boys, and 28% of girls).  He reports that despite these findings about the frequency of child abuse, and the relationship to adult health, many doctors are still very reluctant to ask about it, or to include it in how they think about their patients.  This is especially sad given that the simple act of asking one follow up question about how the abuse is affecting them now, reduces the need for medical care (not to mention the cost!) even further…"

You may have heard much talk recently about how childhood abuse "changes your DNA" -- well, that's not exactly right.

In fact, Dr. Felitti is one of the key researchers and contributors to the the studies that are being referenced when people make these statements, and I had the great pleasure of speaking with Dr. Felitti as well recently.

He explained that the situation is more nuanced than one might think. Child abuse, like any other trauma, can cause an already encoded DNA strand to "present or turn on." The actual structure and material of your DNA doesn't change. It's more like whether the switch is turned on or not.

I think this distinction is important in understanding the overall impact of abuse and certainly for thinking about what our options for recovery are.

Listen now to this interview to learn more!

November 5, 2013

Does Child Abuse Make You Fat?

More and more my clients are bringing to their sessions frustrations and concerns about their weight and body image. More and more, we are understanding the key links between child abuse and obesity.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Anne Cuthbert, a professional counselor and expert in the field of food and weight obsession. You can check out that interview here.

I also want to share with you this interview with Dr. Vincent Felitti by Safe Space Radio host Dr. Anne:

"An interview with Dr. Vincent Felitti about his groundbreaking work discovering the high prevalence of child sexual abuse among those who are obese.  In his clinic 55% of patients coming in for treatment of obesity had histories of child abuse.  When the patients were asked, it turned out that obesity was a form of solution to the problem of unwanted sexual advances.  The eating was a form of comforting for painful feelings, but being large made people (men and women) feel safer in the world.  He reports that obesity treatment programs that do not address the underlying problems of early childhood painful experiences will not be able to address the heart of the problem."

Listen now!

If you are struggling with your weight as a result of childhood abuse, please know that this can be overcome. Many of my clients have been able to successfully release the past and pain of abuse and this has created the space for them to move forward in their lives in both health and happiness.

http://www.builtlean.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/weight-loss-plateau.jpg

October 29, 2013

Letting Go: And Owning Our Choices...

Okay readers, today is the final installment from the amazing Tina Nies. I hope you have enjoyed this series, and leave a note for Tina if you've been changed because of her!!

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Sending a big thank you and hug to Rachel Grant for inviting me to share with you this month. I appreciate her support and each of yours as I shared some ideas and tools that have helped me live a happier, more loving life. I hope you have read something that supports you as you heal and grow.

As I wrap up this series on Letting Go, it’s interesting to share with you that even as I have been practicing happiness, self-love, letting go for a long time… I still practice. I still let go of stuff as it comes up. Sometimes I find things lingering around that I hadn’t noticed, but as I move to new levels of awareness, of living, those things are uncovered and I can let them go. Often they are things I hadn’t noticed, because I was too busy or was focused on other things in my life.

As we practice loving ourselves, forgiving ourselves, and letting go, it’s natural that some of those old habits or feelings might pop up. Why? Because we have created a safe space, a loving space, a gentle space to allow them to surface, so we can begin to let them go.

It’s important to let things come up, to let our feelings come to us and honor those feelings, honor those old habits, recognize them, sometimes thank them for serving us in the past, but then let those things go. Let that old habit know we don’t need it anymore, and we can begin a practice of letting it go.

Why is this important?

Because as we do this, as more stuff comes up and we keep letting it go, we begin to really OWN our choices, own our intentions, own our feelings and reactions.
Remember when we talked about things beyond our control?  Remember when we might have had a “whatever” attitude when it came to making choices?

Well, when we are consciously practicing loving ourselves and letting things go… what we are really doing is choosing.

We are practicing “choosing” to acknowledge ourselves, choosing to acknowledge others, even choosing to acknowledge things beyond our control.

When we practice making those simple choices, we get better at making the bigger choices.

So, what about those things beyond our control? How much do they really impact us?

How much impact do our own choices really have in our life and our happiness?

This is an excerpt from one of my e-books “7 Steps to Make Confident Choices Now” (which you can download free at http://www.40daylovefest.com/gift3.html)

“Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at UC-Riverside and author of "The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want," analyzed studies on identical twins and other psychological research. She found that happiness is 50% genetic, 40% intentional and 10% circumstantial.
Consciously making choices from your heart is powerful, it’s 40%!! The choices you make create much of the quality of your life. Mastering the art of choice can help you live your dreams, succeed in business, reach your goals, have better quality relationships with friends and family, and create anything you desire. 
To be fully conscious of that power, we need to take responsibility for that 40% and use that to overcome some of the obstacles that we can’t directly control. We can move to a better, happier place through our choices, regardless of where we are right now. Remember what Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.””
Circumstances are only 10%?

You might be thinking, “What the heck? Not sure I believe that one.” 

Genetics is 50%?

Whoa – okay, so according to that study, 60% of “stuff” is beyond our control to some extent at this point, but science is trying to change that. Haha

Anyway…

Intention is 40%!!!!

Yep, your choice, your intention is critical to living a happier life. I really hope that I’ve been able to help you use your choice, your intentions to let go of the stuff you might be holding onto, stuff that may be limiting your happiness.

If nothing else, I encourage to use the 2 minutes a day 40 Day LoveFest practice. It’s powerful and is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to start your journey of letting go.

Why is it so powerful?

It’s simple, you can do this practice anywhere, anytime and when you make this a practice, you begin to own your choices. In owning your choices, you affect that 40%.

Here is the practice again, in case you don’t remember. There are 3 steps to the LoveFest practice:

Step 1 – In the morning (or anytime) take 1 minute to identify three things you are grateful for. Day 1 might be easy, probably even on our worst days, we are grateful for something. So, as you do this every day, try not to repeat the exact same things. Instead, dig a little deeper in your gratitude. For example if today you are grateful for your child, tomorrow think of why you are grateful for that child, maybe they have a cute sneeze, or they make the best funny face, or that you are grateful for your reading time together. If you are grateful for the sun, why, what about it do you enjoy? When you practice this daily, you begin to look for more good in your life and your hold on the negative stuff lessens.

Step 2 – Throughout the day, most of us look into a mirror many times, when we wash our hands brush our hair, get dressed, etc. At least once during the day, when you are already looking into a mirror (so this takes no extra time), say something nice to yourself. If you can, tell yourself, “I like you” or “I love you” or “Nice sweater.”  It doesn’t have to be deep and soulful, it can be simple, but say something positive. If you really have a tough time with this, try telling yourself “You have possibilities” or just remind yourself of something nice you’ve done for someone like “That was nice of you to hold the door for the woman struggling with her bags at the mall.”  After practicing this once a day, you’ll begin to look for nice things to say multiple times a day!

Step 3 – In the evening (or anytime), take 1 minute to acknowledge yourself for three things you accomplished that day, big or small. I like to call them my Daily Triumphs, because even the little things we do lead us to our bigger goals. For example, a student celebrates graduation, we have a party, and it’s a big triumph, right? But each day, that student might study, write a paper, study for a test, get tutoring, do research, meet with a study group, etc. Each of those things is important to acknowledge.

It’s the practice of the above three steps that makes them powerful. Doing them one time might feel good in the moment, but doesn’t really help us let go of anything. By practicing focusing on the good for just those 2 minutes a day, we’re practicing letting go of the focus on the stuff we can’t control.

What choices will you own today?

Thank you again for letting me share with you. If I can support you on your journey of letting go, let me know. Visit 40DayLoveFest.com or email me: info@behappiertoday.com.  

Love & hugs,

Tina 

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Tina Nies is a Certified Life Coach and Vision Board Coach.  Her passion is building and strengthening an individual’s self-love as a foundation for success. Tina empowers individuals with a foundation to develop their vision and create action strategies for success as they grow and explore their happiness.

In her simple practice self-love, Tina also focuses on raising awareness of the power of our choices. In each moment, the choices we make impact our success and determine whether or not we reach our goals in business or personal life. “Encouraging people to say yes to choices that lead them to their deepest desires and true happiness and no to choices that do not serve their best interests is extremely powerful”


Join Tina in her 40 Day LoveFest: Letting Go, a daily BlogTalkRadio show now through Nov 1 www.BlogTalkRadio.com/behappiertoday.

October 22, 2013

Letting Go: Of Control...

Okay readers, I hope you have been enjoying this series on Letting Go by Tina Nies. This week, Tina helps us identify ways of letting go of control. And be sure to check out her special gift for you at the end!

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For the last 3 weeks, I’ve shared mainly about tools you can use as a practice in your own life to learn to let go of things you may be holding onto including anger, hurt, shame and more especially regarding experiences in our past. Have you picked one or two to practice in your own life?

Now, how about letting go even beyond those specific things, letting go of guilt, responsibility, and worry about things that are totally beyond our control. How can we begin to make individual choices that keep us from holding onto other stuff that isn’t even ours?

Of course many of the tools I’ve shared can be used with all of the above, but when it comes to things that seem to be completely beyond our control, it can be really tough to even think about how to let it go or how to have it not dominate our thoughts and feelings.

Think about what little control we have over so many things in our life, things outside of ourselves, but things that also sometimes have a big impact on our lives.

Sometimes our lack of control comes from choices we’ve made and the consequences of those choices, good and bad. For example, our time, we don’t know how much time we’ll have on earth or with a loved one or on a job. Practicing using our time in ways that help us feel good is obviously a good idea.  But when we are feeling down or stressed, it’s easy to “waste” time, to have a “whatever” attitude about how we use our time, because we may feel like it just doesn’t matter. 

Sometimes it may seem that we don’t have much control over anything, but what we do have control over (if we can learn how) is how we react and how we feel in general. How do we do that? Practice the tools we’ve shared over the last few weeks (smile).

So, why am I motivated to write about this now?

I mentioned in part two of my letting go series that I volunteer at a local juvenile detention center and hang out with these kids each week. Most of the time, I learn very little about the specific reasons they are there. In fact, sometimes they don’t even share their name.

Since it’s an option for the youth to participate with me, it’s always different; some weeks everyone in the wing hangs with me, sometimes just two or three. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to spend more time with a couple of girls and learned a little more about them. While it didn’t surprise me since I know it’s how the “system” works, I was reminded how sometimes we truly have no control at all and just how important it is for us to build foundations within ourselves in order to feel better and make better choices where we can.

On a recent visit, I could feel it was a kind of a down day in general at the facility. Only those two girls chose to chat with me (they had pretty low energy and a bit of sadness), so I was able to talk with them about in more detail about their own situations

As they shared some details, I could really see that they have very little control over their lives, not just in the detention center, but even at their homes.  It also raised my awareness of what it means to be a teenager on probation.

These two girls I had known in earlier months, both had gone home, but were now back. Both were ordered back to the center for minor “violations” of their probation… violations that technically they did not even do, they were victims (I can’t think of a better word to use here) of situations that truly were beyond their control!

Because these girls are already labeled as “bad kids or troubled kids, they don’t even get the opportunity for resolution. Instead, they get “nope, we’re not even gonna talk about it, “you’re on the street after curfew, you violated probation.”  The “whatever” attitude can be on both sides, the police because they have to deal with another “juvie kid,” and the teen now distrusts the system even more and thinks “whatever, I’m already in trouble, what does it matter what I do next?”

Can you relate to the “whatever” attitude? Not a fun place to be, but until we begin practicing loving and letting go, we often spend a lot of time with that attitude.

So, back to the story… one young lady was on the street after the town’s teen curfew, but she was waiting for a ride from a family member who hadn’t shown up. She told the police she had been waiting a while, but it was after curfew, with no luck contacting the ride, the girl was on probation and a tether, so the police took her to the station. Still no one came to pick up this young lady, so the police called her probation officer and she was driven back to juvie on curfew violation and now waits several days for a court date to decide what to do next or hear her story.

How does that help anything? How does that help her feel better about herself so she can make better choices? 

There are so many things beyond our control and this just reminded me even more just how important it is to share ideas about self-love and letting go, because sometimes we are in situations not only beyond our control, but seemly out of control in general!

The other young lady comes from a home full of trouble, two brothers were caught stealing, her youngest brother was recently kicked in the head by their drunk step-dad and she hasn’t been doing well in school, which is a condition of probation (to have all work turned in and passing classes)… so violate that because it’s nearly impossible to study or get help at home, and she is back in juvie.

It’s beyond my control to fix all these issues, I know that and I’ve let it go. I can be motivated to do more and share more love, but I don’t hold on to it. I can’t. If I did, I’d be sad and mad about it, I might get a “whatever” attitude that why do anything since I don’t have control to fix it all.

Instead, I can feel the emotion and then let it go and choose what will make me feel better about me 
and about making a difference… so I share this story and my passion about simple practices.

When we build and have a foundation of self-love, we are less vulnerable to those types of situations that just seem crazy. We become less vulnerable to the “whatever” attitude, less vulnerable to further victimization, less vulnerable to making self-destructive choices.

These stories also remind me how important it is that these simple ideas and tools about practicing self-love, letting go, and forgiveness be available to everyone, everywhere!  Yeah, that would be a big job for just me.

So I focus most of my work on training people in fields such as counselors, mentors, teachers, etc. to incorporate these practices into their work to help their students and clients build a strong foundation. But I also want every environment, business, organization, prison, church, detention center, school, etc. to be filled with love!

Yes, I know this is beyond my control, but it’s a great dream and if each day, I share with just one person or organization, then I’ve got one more triumph to record in my daily LoveFest practice.

What a great vision:  for even police stations and court rooms to be filled with love. Sure, there are rules and when people break the rules, there are consequences. BUT what if we added in love, what if we say “Okay, the rules were broken, we love you anyway. Here is your consequence and here’s how we’ll help you not make this same choice next time." 

Or in the case of the young lady picked up after curfew, what if everyone was filled with love and the probation officer asked the police to drive the girl home instead of back to juvie? What if then on their next home visit, they acknowledge the young lady for doing her best, which was sitting and waiting for a ride in a safe place instead of walking a long distance in the dark. Then asking the family how to help them make sure that doesn’t happen again?

If they are never given or taught the love they need to build something different, how do we expect things to be different?

Maybe you’ve never been in trouble with the law, but can you think of a similar situation in your own life where you just did the best you could in circumstances totally beyond your control, yet, it just didn’t seem to matter?

Have you ever spent time in that “whatever” mentality?

I have. It wasn’t fun.

So what do we do about it?

Practice.

Practice.

Keep practicing… letting go, forgiving, loving… ourselves and others… and then sharing the practice.
Maybe you’re reading this article because you want to let something go and feel more love for yourself or let go of idea of having control or maybe you’re reading because you are doing similar work – either way I invite you to join and let me know how I can help you in your goals around loving and letting go.

I also have a gift for you, available through October 31.  It’s a hug you can wear, an “I love me” bracelet. It’s FREE (free s&h too)! Just visit www.40DayLoveFest.com and complete a simple form!


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Tina Nies is a Certified Life Coach and Vision Board Coach.  Her passion is building and strengthening an individual’s self-love as a foundation for success. Tina empowers individuals with a foundation to develop their vision and create action strategies for success as they grow and explore their happiness.

In her simple practice self-love, Tina also focuses on raising awareness of the power of our choices. In each moment, the choices we make impact our success and determine whether or not we reach our goals in business or personal life. “Encouraging people to say yes to choices that lead them to their deepest desires and true happiness and no to choices that do not serve their best interests is extremely powerful”


Join Tina in her 40 Day LoveFest: Letting Go, a daily BlogTalkRadio show now through Nov 1 www.BlogTalkRadio.com/behappiertoday.

October 15, 2013

Letting Go: From Cluttered to Clear

Okay readers, I hope you have been enjoying this series on Letting go by Tina Nies. Definitely check in or leave a comment below if what Tina has shared has been helpful to you!

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“There is no condition so severe that you cannot reverse it by choosing different thoAughts. However, choosing different thoughts requires focus and practice. If you continue to focus as you have been, to think as you have been, and to believe as you have been, then nothing in your experience will change.”      ~Abraham-Hicks

I hope you’ve enjoyed and maybe even tried out some of the tools I’ve shared over the last couple of weeks. And before I delve into this week’s topic of how to keep letting go, I want to add a little to last week’s forgiveness tool. I introduced a simple form for a letter that can be used to practice forgiving you as well others. You never even have to share it with anyone as this practice is for you, but you could choose to share it, if appropriate and safe for you to do so. The form of the letter forgiving others is the same, just change who it’s addressed to if you’re forgiving another person!

BUT, maybe you’ve been thinking, “I can’t forgive myself for some things” or “I’m not ready” or “I can’t ever forgive them.”  And it’s okay to feel that way, it really is. We don’t have to feel bad about not forgiving. You can still begin the practice of forgiveness (as a gift to yourself in the letting go process), with a format like this…

Dear Tina,

I forgive you for not being able to forgive yourself (or ____) for _____. I’ll be okay anyway or I like you anyway. I’ll practice forgiving until I can (or something that fits for you).

Hugs,
Tina

Easy?

Maybe - maybe not, but it is simple, and it can be used as a practice in just a minute or two a day. That is the goal of all my work – simplicity and practice. It’s the goal of my life, simplicity. Okay, so I also want love and happiness, but for me I know that simplicity is the foundation for my happiness. I don’t want to worry, obsess, be sad or mad, let depression or anxiety take over my life… so I choose simple practices that keep me in the practice of forgiveness, of letting go, of loving myself and happiness comes easily now.

Do I ever get mad or sad?

Absolutely! But, when it comes, I feel it, even embrace it, look for the good in it or what I can learn, then I let it go.

How do I do it?

Practice.

I practice the tools I’ve already shared and I’m sharing more today. I practice looking for good in myself and those around me. I practice love. I practice looking for more options and opportunities. I practice letting one hand off the ropes that I might grab onto for a moment, I practice until I let it go completely.

While practicing, I also like to keep more positive things in my life than negative (it’s part of that whole letting go thing). So, I read articles, blogs, books with stories and ideas about things I love or things I want more of (love, happiness, etc.). I listen to positive messages and choose positive shows or movies to occasionally watch. I spend more time with positive and optimistic people than negative and pessimistic people. I don’t allow drama to be part of my life, especially other people’s drama. This can be tough when we want to help family and friends, but for my own well-being, I must limit drama. I might lend a hand as needed, but I never let both hands get on their rope. Remember, I keep practicing letting go of my own ropes, why would I want to add theirs?

I invite you to try any of the tools I’m sharing or that you learn from others. REPEAT the ones that help you! Don’t give up if the first tool you practice doesn’t feel right to you, try again or try another that feels better for you and whatever it is that you are attempting to let go of.

Another practice that works for me is taking some quiet time for myself, even if just a moment or two. Meditation is a great tool for quieting my mind and tuning in to my own inner guidance. We often know the answers to the questions we ask if we take time to listen.

I enjoy both guided meditations (which are easy to find free online) and just doing my own with some meditative music playing. I even host a Monday Meditation at 7am PT/10am ET on PLV-Radio.com Sometimes I lead the meditations, sometimes they are led by some of my awesome friends (who are more experienced meditators). I like to use mantras such as “I am love”, “I am allowing well-being”, “I am forgiving myself”, “I am letting go” etc. You can create a mantra that fits your needs and use it for even just one minute. Close your eyes in a quiet space, breathe deeply from your abdomen, and repeat the mantra silently. When distracting thoughts come, instead of pushing them out, gently repeat the mantra… hmm, sounds like a practice ;-) Yep, even a one minute meditation practice each day creates space for letting go.

Another way I continue to let go is by clearing my physical space often. I practice letting go of physical stuff I no longer need. Look around your immediate space (within a few feet) around exactly where you are right now, whether at home, coffee shop, or work. Of course, if you’re in a coffee shop, you may not have many personal things around you, but look at your backpack, purse, or briefcase.

What do you see?

Take a quick inventory.  Look at your desk, bed, table, couch, wherever you happen to be. Is your bag a mess and you don’t even know what might be in the bottom? Is there a pile of clothes on the floor near you? Are papers stacked 2 feet high on your desk? Are there odds and ends and broken electronics in your drawer? Is your closet full of clothes you never wear?

Sometimes the physical stuff we hold onto represents something more personal, something that you are unable to let go of. For example, if papers are piled high, why? Is it that you say you will get to them soon, but soon never comes? Do you miss bill payment dates because of it? Is it a way you might subconsciously be sabotaging yourself, punishing yourself? If your closet is full of clothes you never wear, is it because they don’t fit? Do you have a memory connected to all the stuff that you know you’ll never wear again, but just can’t throw it out? Are you longing to re-live that time in your life where you felt happier than you do today? If you hold onto everything, even when it’s broken is it because you don’t want to waste it, maybe it’s fixable? Is it just laziness?

If you find you have a lot of clutter, make a quick list. Then circle the top 2-3 things on that list that you feel are significant to you in a way that you sometimes think you “should” do something about it.
Next, pick one of the top three and write that at the top of a sheet of paper. Set a timer for five minutes or less (let’s keep it simple). Think about what that thing represents and why you may hold onto it. Jot down any thoughts, feelings, or memories that come into your head about that item. Write everything – good and bad!

When the timer goes off, stop. Now consider what would be the worst case if it weren’t there anymore (especially if it’s something you feel is important). Imagine if suddenly all that stuff was gone, maybe a goat came in and ate every paper… what would be the worst case about it being gone?

OFTEN, the worst case is no big deal at all. Sometimes we think, “Well, that would solve that problem and I wouldn’t have to face it” or sometimes the worst case is we would feel devastated. Jot those thoughts down.

NOW, let’s figure how to let it go or clear it or use it in another way, something so we can diffuse the negative energy of holding onto that clutter.

Maybe it’s as simple as scheduling a day to sort through and handle the paperwork that is stacked. Maybe you decide to hold onto your memories, but donate those old bridesmaid dresses taking up space to a charity that provides homecoming and prom dresses to help create new memories for someone else. Maybe all the cool knick-knacks your nieces and nephews love, but are collecting dust on your bookshelf could be great birthday gifts to those you love and love you. The knick-knacks will be cherished and you’ll free up space for new pictures of your next adventure or books on something you’ve wanted to learn.

It might be easy for you to decide what to do, but maybe it’s not clear yet. There are some great books about clearing clutter and organizing to maximize your productivity, etc. If this is an area you think can help you let go, do a quick internet search for more information and suggestions about how to effectively clear your clutter. I especially like the books, “Clearing the Clutter For Good Feng Shui” and “Clearing the Clutter with Feng Shui.”  I like incorporating Feng Shui principles into my space clearing and honestly, I have noticed dramatic improvements when I do! Whether it’s just me believing it or if I really am clearing that space and energy to allow new things, it doesn’t matter, because it works for me.

The more you can create the physical space of letting go and continue to practice the letting go and forgiving and loving yourself, you will move forward in amazing ways! Add in these simple practices to the other work you may be doing to recover from whatever experiences you may have had.

Keep doing things that make you feel good and keep trying new things. I have a new Verilux Happy Light on my desk! It’s fall here in Michigan and I love, love, love the sunshine, it energizes me. We’ll be having less sunny days moving through fall into winter, so I’m trying this out. It’s a small thing, but maybe it’ll help me with potential energy lulls when the clouds get me down a little. We’ll see if it helps, but it couldn’t hurt, right?

When you begin to fill yourself with more positive activities, thoughts, people, etc., you naturally let the other stuff go. The stuff that has seemed to be a rope around your neck (or a monkey on your back) that you’ve been trying to escape for so long, that rope begins to loosen and in return you loosen your grip on it too. It’s a natural progression, it may be slow, it may be fast, but it’s a progression, it’s a journey to let go, to forgive, to love.

There is no right or wrong way to let go, to move forward, to go up the steps of life. Some of us put one foot up, then the other foot joins on the same step before we move up to the next. Some of us just put one foot on each step as we walk up at a steady pace. And some of us take two steps at a time! Each option is fine and may vary on our journey. Just keep your head up and your eye on the top of the steps, that landing place you might be longing for, that place where you have let go of the baggage and are ready to take the next set of steps at a faster pace.

That’s the thing about letting go, we just keep practicing, sometimes trying new tools, to find the ones that work best for us.


I’m happy to answer questions or make more personal suggestions as you practice loving and letting go. Ask in the comments below or feel free to email me tina@behappiertoday.com. I’d also love to hear how you are practicing letting go in your own life!

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Tina Nies is a Certified Life Coach and Vision Board Coach.  Her passion is building and strengthening an individual’s self-love as a foundation for success. Tina empowers individuals with a foundation to develop their vision and create action strategies for success as they grow and explore their happiness.

In her simple practice self-love, Tina also focuses on raising awareness of the power of our choices. In each moment, the choices we make impact our success and determine whether or not we reach our goals in business or personal life. “Encouraging people to say yes to choices that lead them to their deepest desires and true happiness and no to choices that do not serve their best interests is extremely powerful”


Join Tina in her 40 Day LoveFest: Letting Go, a daily BlogTalkRadio show now through Nov 1 www.BlogTalkRadio.com/behappiertoday.

October 8, 2013

Letting Go: Some Tools to Help

Okay readers, we are in for a real treat this month. Tina Nies, Life and Vision Board Coach, will be sharing with us insights and tips about letting go and letting love, particularly self-love, in.

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I’m grateful for the feedback on last week’s post: LettingGo: What Does It Mean to You? Maybe you tried out the idea that when you are in the moment of a stressful situation, you look for the good, just for a moment. Maybe in that moment, an idea came to you about how you could lessen the stress or resolve the situation.

This week, I’d like to share three tools or practices that I’ve used to lessen my grip on my ropes and release some of them altogether. These three tools have helped me become someone that people constantly ask how I stay happy all the time. Well, I’m not happy all the time. I get sad. I get mad. I mess up. But I do always look for the good in even those sad and mad times; I do keep my positive outlook even when I mess up.

I practice the following tools because they make me feel good overall and feeling good helps me let go of not only old stuff, but helps me not collect new stuff!

That may sound funny, but how many of us go through life holding on to the old hurts, habits, fears, etc. AND collect some new ones along the way. For example, if we’ve never let go of a hurt that was done to us, then we might keep feeling hurt by new people over and over and over… even when hurting us was never the intention of the accused “new doer of the hurting.”  We simply received it in a hurting way because we’re still holding onto an old experience, belief, and maybe habit. OR maybe we continue to attract those same situations into our life, because even if we are not happy, we know what to expect in that situation. Maybe it’s all we really know, so we are uncomfortably, unhappily, “comfortable” with it.
It might sound weird, right? Why would anyone do that?

BUT, it’s not really weird. I believe we each do the best we can with what we’ve got, with what we believe, with what we’ve learned from our experiences and what we may learn from well-meaning friends, family, therapists, spiritual counselors and more. Sometimes though, it just doesn’t seem to work or it doesn’t seem to make sense. Sometimes it feels really hard to let go of any of it.

One practice that I use every day is something that takes just two minutes a day!

Yes, just two minutes – it’s a combination of tools put into a simple daily practice. It can be done anywhere, anytime. It’s my 40 Day LoveFest practice of self-love and reflection. I’ve written a couple of books on this practice and it’s the foundation of all the work I do through coaching, workshops, even training of others to share this practice of self-love.

There are 3 steps to the LoveFest practice:

Step 1

In the morning (or anytime) take one minute to identify three things you are grateful for. Day 1 might be easy, probably even on our worst days, we are grateful for something. So, as you do this every day, try not to repeat the exact same things. Instead, dig a little deeper in your gratitude. For example if today you are grateful for your child, tomorrow think of why you are grateful for that child, maybe they have a cute sneeze, or they make the best funny face, or you are grateful for your reading time together. If you are grateful for the sun, why, what about it do you enjoy? When you practice this daily, you begin to look for more good in your life and your hold on the negative stuff lessens.

Step 2 

Throughout the day, most of us look into a mirror many times, when we wash our hands, brush our hair, get dressed, etc. At least once during the day, when you are already looking into a mirror (so this takes no extra time), say something nice to yourself. If you can, tell yourself, “I like you” or “I love you” or “Nice sweater.”  It doesn’t have to be deep and soulful, it can be simple, but say something positive. If you really have a tough time with this, try telling yourself “you have possibilities” or just remind yourself of something nice you’ve done for someone like “that was nice of you to hold the door for the woman struggling with her bags at the mall.”  After practicing this once a day, you’ll begin to look for nice things to say multiple times a day!

Step 3

In the evening (or anytime), take one minute to acknowledge yourself for three things you accomplished that day, big or small. I like to call them my Daily Triumphs, because even the little things we do lead us to our bigger goals. For example, a student celebrates graduation, we have a party, and it’s a big triumph, right? But each day, that student might study, write a paper, study for a test, get tutoring, do research, meet with a study group, etc. Each of those things is important to acknowledge.

It’s the practice of the above three steps that makes them powerful. Doing them one time might feel good in the moment, but doesn’t really help us let go of anything. By focusing on the good for just those two minutes a day, we’re practicing letting go of the focus on the not so good.

For example, let’s say you hate your job and you drudge through it every day, feeling bad that you can’t quit because you rely on the income. What if every day on the way to work, you thought about one thing you’re grateful for about the job, even if only the paycheck. Maybe tomorrow, you remember that you’re grateful for friends you’ve made, then the next day, you remember that you have a favorite client at that job and pretty soon you’re not dreading going to work and maybe you even begin to like the job a little… in part because you’re letting go of that rope that you held onto so tightly – the belief that you hated your job.

Now, what if you also on the way home thought about one thing you accomplished at work that day, maybe making a customer smile, or finishing a report on time or making a sale. You can end your work day on a positive note and go home to enjoy your evening… you could even think about one thing your grateful for is that the workday is ended!

You might still want to look for a new job, or learn a new skill to get promoted, but while you’re doing that, at least you’ll feel better. When you feel better, you’ll see more possibilities for solutions.

The next tool I want to share is a practice of forgiveness.

For many of us, forgiveness is very important in letting go or beginning to love ourselves. This practice is something you can use as a step to forgive yourself or others, but let’s just start with forgiving yourself today.  I invite you to think about just one thing you want to forgive yourself for – what in the first thing that pops into your mind?

It could be something from 10 min ago or 10 years ago. For this you’ll need a notecard or small piece of paper, like a Post-It™ and a pen. It’s important to have something small because we want to keep this very simple and short.

In this practice of forgiveness, we don’t want to get bogged down with how it happened or why or will it happen again. In this exercise, we simply want to forgive. Of course it’s good to be conscious of how it happened and not wanting it to happen again and there are all kinds of exercises, therapy, coaching, etc. that you can do around that. But in just the act of forgiveness, in just this one special piece, the details aren’t important. This is true when we’re forgiving ourselves AND when we forgive others. It’s this simplicity that allows us to forgive and begin to let go.

Using the following format and choosing or creating the wording that best fits for you, write your note of forgiveness to you!

Dear Tina,
I forgive you for ________________________. (keep this simple – just the act, no long details). You’re okay anyway OR I like you anyway OR I love you anyway OR I’m going to practice forgiving you until I like you OR something that feels right for you.
Hugs, sincerely, love, warmly, OR whatever feels right to you,
Tina

If we don’t take the extra step of saying something like, “you’re okay anyway” (regardless of what we did), then sometimes we still want to beat ourselves up. Even if we say the words I forgive you or someone else forgives us, we still punish ourselves. The idea that we can like ourselves anyway, that we’re okay anyway takes us in the direction of letting go of the need to hold onto that guilt, shame, and negativity around it.

It’s a simple letter and if you don’t want anyone to ever see, tear it up or burn it! If this is something that you’ve been holding onto tightly or for a while, this one time of writing the note is just the beginning. You may want to repeat this, every day if you need to, until you begin to really feel that you’re forgiving yourself and meaning it.

If you do keep the note, don’t just read it every day, but write it again. The physical act of writing it over and over will help it go deeper, so that you believe it and it’s not just words, not just another exercise you do. It also only takes 30 seconds after you’ve done it the first day, so it’s simple, takes very little time and no soul-searching work because you are just repeating the same words you wrote the day before.

Lastly, this third tool is something that we can do to help us feel better about ourselves in the process of forgiveness, loving and letting go.

Sometimes when we forgive ourselves, we still feel like it’s not enough. So, IF it makes you feel better, find something you can do to help someone else through a similar situation, share your story, volunteer somewhere, or give to a charity that makes you feel good.

And even though you might be giving to others, it’s a forgiveness gift to you.  I use this practice! Sunday mornings, I spend an hour at my local juvenile detention center. I simply hang out with them sharing love. We do activities, I give them 40 Day LoveFest journals, I share with them everything I share with clients, but I do so as a volunteer. I’d like to see every detention center have someone like me come in and share love, and that may be a new goal in my future. But for now, I simply go and share my story and teach them tools about loving and letting go.  

What could you do to make yourself feel better in this process?

This isn’t about paying back, retribution, penance, etc.; it’s about taking action to feel better. It’s not a requirement to forgive, but because we often feel guilt and shame, this can help you feel better so you can practice loving and letting go.


These are just a few simple, but extremely powerful tools you can use in your journey of letting go. I’d love to hear back if you have tried some of these things in the past or if you are going to try them now! What I suggest if you do give one a try, go into it with the intention of making it a practice, not something you do once because you read this article. The first time might not seem like much, but with practice, you’ll feel your grip on your rope loosen and maybe even fall away. 


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Tina Nies is a Certified Life Coach and Vision Board Coach.  Her passion is building and strengthening an individual’s self-love as a foundation for success. Tina empowers individuals with a foundation to develop their vision and create action strategies for success as they grow and explore their happiness.

In her simple practice self-love, Tina also focuses on raising awareness of the power of our choices. In each moment, the choices we make impact our success and determine whether or not we reach our goals in business or personal life. “Encouraging people to say yes to choices that lead them to their deepest desires and true happiness and no to choices that do not serve their best interests is extremely powerful”


Join Tina in her 40 Day LoveFest: Letting Go, a daily BlogTalkRadio show now through Nov 1 www.BlogTalkRadio.com/behappiertoday.

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