Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘trust’

Giving Relationships a Fighting Chance

How Does a Successful Relationship Begin?

Created with CanvaWhen I was in my 20’s there was a belief many of us shared that said living together before marriage was the best way to determine whether you could survive the perils and pitfalls of life with someone else sharing your space. Like any other belief, it worked for some people and not for others. I’ve seen as many relationships fail after a period of living together (including my own) as I have when there wasn’t. The long and short of it is, there aren’t any guarantees, no matter how you approach merging your life with someone else’s.

Today, I have friends who’ve been married more than 30 years, as well as some who’ve been married multiple times. Some of us pretty much gave up after 1 failure, and others have opted for a committed relationship without the piece of paper. Looking around, I’ve noticed a few things.

  • Commitment is a mindset
  • Making a relationship work takes effort from both parties
  • Desperation does not yield the best of choices
  • Sometimes, alone is better
  • “Want” and “need” are two very different animals
  • Compromise doesn’t mean giving in all the time
  • Without self-love, you can’t have a healthy, long-lasting relationship

People Pleasing Doesn’t Build Self-Esteem

Contrary to popular belief, people who allow themselves to be doormats are Created with Canvaseldom happy. I have several friends who turned themselves inside out to please someone and keep a relationship going, only to see it fall apart anyway. Today, they’re stronger for it, and unwilling to repeat past mistakes. They realize how unhappy and unfulfilled they were while trying to be what they thought someone else wanted them to be. In her song “Miss Me More”, Kelsea Ballerini sings “I thought I’d miss you, but I miss me more”. I think this epitomizes the concept of being true to yourself as well as anything I’ve seen or heard.

Living together could help uncover some potential problems a couple might encounter, but unless the masks come off, all aspects of the living situation are shared, and decisions are made jointly, I’m not convinced it will guarantee success. In some ways, you’d remain in “honeymoon status” because one or both of you are trying to keep the other happy. In truth, neither of you will be happy in the long run because, quite frankly, maintaining that blissful, carefree state is exhausting.

Life gets in the way. Trying to be perpetually cheerful, happy, and willing to please your partner eventually becomes a chore. You want and need “me” time, or to be the one who’s pampered and catered to. Even in a relationship where there’s a lot of give and take, there will be times when one or the other is used up emotionally by job, finances, family, and a host of other issues, and has nothing left to give. Those moments and how you manage them together will only show up if you’re honest and open.

Easy In = Easy Out

Sometimes they are the show-stoppers in a living together arrangement. Since you’ve made no real commitment, it’s easier to decide you’re unwilling to make the effort and walk away. Or to use another old saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” though in this case, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sure, marriages end too, but I’d like to think most people who’ve made a commitment to each other give breaking the commitment a lot more thought than those who, to use the vernacular, are just “shacking up”.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against living together, or even being in a relationship and maintaining separate homes. I’ve seen that work well too. My point is you have to avoid falling into “honeymoon mode” if you make such a choice. Successful long-term relationships can begin in a multitude of ways, but only last when they’re based on honesty, mutual respect, and a healthy balance of give and take. One person can’t put all their time and energy into trying to make the other happy.

Face it. The only person you can make happy is yourself. If someone isn’t committed to their own happiness, no amount of love and attention from outside is going to bring them happiness. It’s truly an inside job.

Throwing Trust Into the Mix

In my own life, the single factor which has caused every single unsuccessful https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvrelationship to fail, be it employer-employee, co-workers, friends, or lovers has been lack of trust. It took me a long time to recognize the red flags, but after many painful situations and outright failures, I’ve learned to run when I see the signs:

  • Requiring me to prove myself in order to “earn” their trust
  • A tendency to talk more and listen less
  • Disrespect in any form
  • Mention of prior relationships in which their trust was abused
  • Failure to answer direct questions honestly. This may include diversion, humor, or flat out refusal.
  • Narcissism
  • Inattention such as taking a call in the middle of an interview, flirting with the waitress during a date, or any other behavior which implies I’m an afterthought

https://www.flickr.com/photos/svensson/4829867389/in/photolist-6XCAQH-WgXmBb-byu3Nn-6XCCec-F2ovRt-Gn7Ut6-7xLAFR-6XCBk8-8mNkiF-6XGAK9-p3qjVr-24BFZCb-24BG1Vb-poheFW-p8PQeo-F2orHZ-66bJw1-667u2F-F2okjr-GxKsrU-5kBreE-4tZPNF-66bL5y-667tVr-pqhycN-F2owK2-8mRw1h-24E9hKg-23jj36V-f7TE62-24BFXBY-5NnPFa-24BG3po-22t2Y6M-F2ojVR-4pHCNQ-F2osaR-23jj3vH-66bL2U-66bHY9-23AG54S-5dGrPJ-64i5Dg-4zorW-24BFZ1u-4MCNfE-6i2AXJ-5kBpHY-3rLwcC-3rFJXKNeedless to say, I’ve been burned by every one of these, and quite a few more as well. I suspect I’m not alone either. Everyone has a horror story or two to tell about a job, a friendship gone wrong, or a relationship that tanked. Each of us also has perfect hindsight. You know why it went wrong…now. But you allowed it to unfold for longer than it should have even with all your alarm bells clanging and red flags waving.

Knowing How to Lay a Firm Foundation

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyWhen all is said and done, I don’t think how you begin a relationship, be it personal, work, or anything else determines success or failure. It’s about whether the parties to the arrangement are willing to put the effort into making it work. It’s about mindset and owning responsibility for your own happiness. Most of all, you have to decide from the onset whether it’s a passing fling or something you want to last a lifetime.

There are no guarantees. Things happen. People change. Lives end. The world interferes. But you can’t weather the storms if you’re not willing to get soaked now and then.

Gratitude: The Strongest Brick in Your Structure

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned by failing.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who’ve taught me what I deserve, and the ones who’ve taught me what I don’t.
  3. I’m grateful for peaceful afternoons spent creating. I truly am living the life of my dreams in a lot of ways.
  4. I’m grateful for flexibility; schedules, tasks, friendships. Life throws us curveballs and being able to step out of the way rather than face them all head on means a more peaceful, stress-free life.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, laughter, love, friendship, creativity, inspiration, motivation, opportunities, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

 

Relationship’s End for Empaths

Breaking Up for An Empath Isn’t Simple

Created with CanvaA friend’s recent break-up got me thinking about the rare (maybe 2) occasions I’ve had to end a relationship instead of someone ending it for me. With the notable exception of my marriage which was long overdue by the time I ended it, I still remember suffering emotionally when I had to tell someone what we had wasn’t working for me any more.

Even when it’s been a clean break, no further communication, both going our own way, it still seemed like a laceration to my heart. I’m not saying a lot of people don’t suffer when they end a relationship. What I am saying is Empaths get a double whammy. We hurt for ourselves and for the person we left. Physical distance means nothing when faced with emotional pain from someone we care about.

Sure, some endings come because we stopped caring (like my marriage), or because we’ve been betrayed. Though easier to get over since we effectively block the other person’s emotions, an Empath feels levels of pain others probably won’t understand. It comes back to bite us just like any other kind of grief. We re-live good times and bad, second-guess ourselves, and even entertain the notion that the relationship could be fixed if we just tried harder.

Holding On Too Long

Following that train of thought leads me to wonder if Empaths stick out relationships longer than they should, unconsciously trying to spare ourselves pain. Do we go beyond the last straw to save a relationship that isn’t really worth saving? Even more, do we ignore signs that our partner is no longer committed to the relationship and may even be cheating on us, simply to avoid being the one to end things?

For myself, years after I’d divorced my husband, people told me they knew he was cheating on me. Perhaps the signs were obvious and I chose to ignore them rather than having to end things. I knew when we were no longer connected in any way, yet chose to distance myself emotionally while pretending to maintain the relationship. I even treated him horribly, which I regretted later, hoping he’d be the one to decide to leave.

Early Lessons in Narcissism

In the end, I had to pull the plug, and he behaved as most narcissists do, though at the time, I https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqhadn’t made the connection. He was cruel, nasty, and abusive. Only distancing myself physically alleviated some of the effects of his vitriol. Surprisingly, his signature on the piece of paper ending our marriage legally was the most cathartic act of all for me. It’s as if the energy in his signature drained off whatever hold he still had on my emotional and energetic self. I felt drained but relieved, and finally able to move forward with my own life.

It still took a long time to rebuild myself after the damage he’d wrought, but I was already broken when we got together. Part of the rebuilding process involved creating an entirely new foundation containing components with which I was unfamiliar. Having been raised to contain my emotions and to believe taunting and teasing were symbols of love, I had to learn and forge a new path before I could rebuild on a foundation which would bear the weight of the years to come.

Creating Our Own Paths

I’ve experienced a lot of trial and error in the last 20 years or so. In some ways, it’s been a lot like rock climbing. You reach for the next handhold, testing its ability to hold your weight before using it to reach for the next rock or outcropping. Sometimes I fell back a few paces. Others, I lost a lot of ground and a great deal of skin as well. Those were painful but necessary lessons in who and what I could trust. It’s when I started learning how to recognize a narcissist and avoid being used to fuel their insatiable need for adoration and getting their own way. It’s also when I started seeing how many times I’d been bled dry in a fruitless effort to please one.

These days, I’m still on the fence. I’m mentally ready to find someone and commit, but emotionally, there’s still a lot of trepidation. I don’t entirely trust myself to see the signs of a narcissist and run the other way. I’ve seen my savvier Empath friends fall victim, which causes me to distrust my own instincts too.

Trusting Ourselves and the Lessons We’ve Learned

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101561334@N08/10197031243/in/photolist-gx5s8v-jFvehZ-ceYKvY-gx4Gcf-Qv32MQ-gx58Ji-aavAwk-k15Tk9-gcokN-jYnA9p-pts3CH-KErQUu-fMFuKi-5gvfXp-gx5zqD-594W8Y-gx5GPp-gx4EMG-S7Jpw1-P5f7sP-VMMRHL-oiRYiu-7pPH6E-2bXKRhj-2cLerFQ-oxWTqS-psDwB2-ceXTFN-amxUkM-2bsd6t6-N7Lj5T-cbSXFd-YtbGJE-bNJ5H-RNvZP3-kiboPh-WmzxPu-7UzoSM-24eKtUM-cjgru7-n3pBeq-7PK4bp-ajX4J8-nk5bJN-88HFFJ-W18WBb-jBnrh2-ciDDMd-TzUwZm-8wqYSTYet I know I already have a healthy array of red flags at my disposal. Despite the wiliness of the average narcissist, they’re bound to trigger one of those red flags before I get in too deep. And probability-wise, I don’t have a lot more decades in this meat suit, so I might as well give myself a chance to live what’s left fully and completely, even if it means having to go through the painfully unpleasant process of admitting I made a mistake, and ending things once more.

We all make choices, but rarely do we choose pain. Instead, we choose to take chances on things we know have the potential to end painfully just as they have the potentially to bring us great joy. Do we avoid the opportunity for great joy so we insure we don’t get hurt? Or do we risk potential consequences to reap equally probable rewards?

I’ve taken the safe route for a very long time as I clutch memories of the painful times close. But there comes a time when we all realize the painful stuff can only hurt us if we allow it, and it’s time to take away its power. If there’s pain to be had, we have it within ourselves to minimize the pain and decrease the longevity based on what we’ve learned from previous experiences.

What it comes down to is trusting ourselves.

Do you trust yourself, or are you still wrapping yourself in cotton wool to save you from making more painful mistakes? How’s that working for you?

 

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, even if they were painful for a long time.
  2. I’m grateful for choices. I can be what, where, and who I want as long as I’m willing to accept some risk, and some unknowns.
  3. I’m grateful for love. In its many forms, it truly does heal all wounds. Especially self-love.
  4. I’m grateful for opportunities and ideas which come to me when I learn to let go.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, light, ideas, support, collaboration, joy, compassion, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

 

How Much Serendipity Do We Need for Self-Trust?

Why Do We Trust Others More Than Ourselves?

A few years ago, I took a class in healing. One of the things we had to learn was to trust the feelings, images, sounds, or whatever messages we received. This has always been difficult for me. I’m all too quick to discount what I’m feeling as simply my overactive imagination.

Time and time again during the course of the class, my feelings were corroborated, often with some surprise on the part of the person I was working with. Yet, to this day, I still struggle to just trust myself.

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly aware of repeating numbers. I’ll see 11:11, 3:33 and other combinations fairly frequently, but for a long time attributed it to the new car syndrome. You know how when you buy a new car (or anything else for that matter) you suddenly start seeing others like it everywhere. It isn’t that there are more of them. You’ve just become more aware.

Pay Attention to the Signs

Many see these repeating numbers as confirmation that you’re on the right track, or as angel messages. Either way, they are considered a sign that you need to pay attention to something. Call me a crackpot if you must, but I’m one who started out just noticing the frequent occurrence and seeing it as things that make you go hmmmm. As other things begin occurring which corroborate the messages in the numbers, I’m starting to believe it’s the Universe, getting my attention in a kinder, gentler way than its usual rather painful head slaps.

Whether it’s all green lights on a stretch of road I know is timed to stop drivers every few blocks, or finding the perfect parking spot in a crowded lot, or even forcing me to walk a mile and a half each way because the closer froyo shop is now only selling Dole Whips. I feel like I’m being pushed a little further on my path, but more, being reminded to trust in myself and where I’m going.

Leave the Comfort Zone, Follow the Heart

A few weeks ago, I took a gigantic leap outside my comfort zone and introduced myself to Carolyn Maul, a life coach and personal trainer. Although I’m not in a place right now to hire her, she gave me a couple of pieces of advice which have made significant changes in my life. Though they were things I already knew about, I wasn’t doing them, and her suggestions came at exactly the right time. You might notice there has been a marked increase in blog posts in the last few weeks, and I attribute that to following Carolyn’s advice concerning my health. When I started treating my body better, my brain engaged. Who’d have thought?

A few weeks into a routine which involved tracking what I eat and going to the gym 3 times a week, I’m getting out more, writing more, and finding inspiration in interesting places. But I’m also finding that what I’m inspired to write about shows up a day or two later on someone else’s blog or Facebook page, corroborating my own perceptions.

And there it is again. I recognize something, but think it’s only me. Not long afterwards, my feelings are confirmed by others. If the Universe was into neon, I’m sure I’d be seeing flashing red signs saying Are you going to start trusting yourself or what?

Recognizing Good News as Well as Bad

We all recognize the warning signs which tell us we’re heading into they abyss; the sick feeling in the pit of our stomach, the reluctance to step further into a situation. Sometimes we heed them and are glad we did. Other times, we ignore them and pay the price later. But how often do we recognize the signs which tell us we’re heading in the right direction; following our true path?

Those signs are more subtle (most of the time) but they are still there. I’ve found they become especially strong when our courage is waning or when we’re about to give up because we’re not seeing results and the future looks grim for one reason or another. Maybe that’s why I’m noticing them now.

My dream of being a writer and somehow being able to support myself with it has seen a limited amount of success in the 3 years or so I’ve been pursuing it. Some of it is me as I have long dry spells when few words hit the page…any page. Then I get really inspired and write thousands of words in several places in a matter of days. The floodgates open and I’m like a waterfall after a heavy rain. I can barely type fast enough to keep up. My desk is littered with notes about what I’ll write next. I’m typing madly into my phone instead of dancing because an idea has to be captured before it flits away along with the million and three other thoughts rushing through my brain.

In the last few weeks, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more often and more dramatically than I have since I made the gigantic leap of faith which left me without a steady source of income or even a regular routine. One of the biggest things I’ve accomplished is setting a routine, not only health-wise, but work-wise too.

Changing From the Inside Out

I guess you’re wondering what’s changed. Here’s a brief recap:

  • Tracking all meals on MyFitnessPal
  • Resuming the fat release progress I started last year
  • Setting 3 regular days to work out (in the past I just said I’d work out 3 days, but didn’t specify which ones, so the routine died on the vine in short order)
  • Writing at least 3 blog posts a week
  • Adding chapters to Forgotten Victims every week
  • Responding to job postings (with limited success at the moment, but I have confidence the tide will turn)
  • Developing a plan for the type of websites I will pitch
  • Expanding my own skill-set for VA work
  • Learning to trust the feelings and ideas I get without question

I’m not seeing huge successes in any of these areas…yet. I am, however, giving myself credit for each and every one instead of beating myself up when one or another doesn’t give me immediate results. I’ve discovered it isn’t how fast you get results, but how consistent you are in sticking to the plan. The rest will come together in time.

The biggest change, however, is my attitude. My confidence has returned on many levels. I know I can make my ideas work. I know I can get published. I know I can be a knock-out VA. And because of all this, I’m more willing to go out on a limb, nearly any limb (I draw the line at bungee jumping or jumping out of perfectly good airplanes). I’m leaping out of bed every morning having finally recovered from Daylight Savings Time, earlier and earlier. I’m excited about what the day will bring, even if it’s just another batch of something or other for my freezer which will save me from having to cook for awhile. (That has to stop after today, though. I’m almost out of space and today’s batch of stuffed cabbage will require all my Tetris skills to get everything in in an organized fashion. I rather like being able to choose what I want from the appropriate pile rather than just reaching in, grabbing a container, and hoping for the best.

What Signs Are YOU Ignoring?

Now I’m going to throw this over to you. What changes have you made or could you make which will get you going in the right direction? What signs have you been getting which tell you either that your on the right path or it’s time to change direction? How often do you take these signs seriously? If seldom, isn’t it time to start trusting your gut, so to speak? Above all, can you identify at least one small success which resulted from trusting your intuition?

I look forward to hearing YOUR story!

Reinforcing the Changes With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for signs.
  2. I am grateful I’m finally learning to trust in myself and know everything is working out exactly as it’s supposed to.
  3. I am grateful for the love and support of friends and family who aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m going in the right direction despite appearances, but who are also not afraid to tell me I need to get my act together.
  4. I am grateful for all of the amazing changes which have come from a single encounter with an amazing woman.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; courage, drive, productivity, imagination, dreams, hopes, love, friendship, surprises, confidence, hope, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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