The most important decision of your life, the one that will affect every other decision you make, is the commitment to love and accept yourself. It directly affects the quality of your relationships, your work, your free time, your faith, and your future.
Why, then, is this so difficult to do?
Your Family of Origin
I grew up with nine siblings. I had two older brothers, three older sisters, three younger sisters, and a younger brother.
I never fit in. My sisters were tall and thin with beautiful, long, lush hair. By eleven years old, I was short and very curvy. My hair was fine, thin, and wild.
For the most part, my siblings did as they were told. I was outspoken, out of control, and rebellious.
I wore my sister’s hand-me-down school uniforms. I rolled up the hems on the skirts and popped buttons on the blouses. My look was unkempt.
I was teased and bullied at home and at school. Yet I didn’t go quietly into the night. I fought for my place in my family. To protect myself, I developed a good punch and grew a sharp tongue.
I was twenty-seven years old and married with four children when I became desperate enough to seek out my first therapist. I felt alone, stuck, and unlovable. I was determined to change.
After six months of working through my childhood issues, old thoughts, beliefs, and events, I felt alive again. It was like stripping off several layers of paint from an antique piece of furniture. I found myself restored to my original beauty.
We’re taught by society that our worth is found in the idols of our culture—technology, status, youth, sex, power, money, attractiveness, and romantic relationships.
If you base your self worth on the external world, you’ll never be capable of self-love.
Your inner critic will flood you with thoughts of, “I’m not enough, I don’t have enough, and I don’t do enough.”
Feelings of lack are never-ending. Every time a goal is reached or you possess the next big thing, your ego will move the line.
Shift Your Self-Perception
Feeling worthy requires you to see yourself with fresh eyes of self-awareness and love. Acceptance and love must come from within.
You don’t have to be different to be worthy. Your worth is in your true nature, a core of love and inner goodness. You are a beautiful light. You are love. We can bury our magnificence, but it’s impossible to destroy.
Loving ourselves isn’t a one time event. It’s an endless, ongoing process.
It begins with you, enfolding yourself in your own affection and appreciation.
Read on for steps to discover your worth and enfold yourself in affection and appreciation.
1. Begin your day with love (not technology).
Remind yourself of your worthiness before getting out of bed. Breathe in love and breathe out love. Enfold yourself in light. Saturate your being in love.
2. Take time to meditate and journal.
Spend time focusing inward daily. Begin with five minutes of meditation and five minutes of journaling each morning. Gradually increase this time.
3. Talk yourself happy.
Use affirmations to train your mind to become more positive. Put a wrist band on your right wrist. When you’re participating in self-criticism, move the band to your left wrist.
4. Get emotionally honest.
Let go of numbing your feelings. Shopping, eating, and drinking are examples of avoiding discomfort, sadness, and pain. Mindfully breathe your way through your feelings and emotions.
5. Expand your interests.
Try something new. Learn a language. Go places you’ve never been. Do things you haven’t done before. You have a right to an awesome life.
6. Enjoy life enhancing activities.
Find exercise you like. Discover healthy foods that are good for you. Turn off technology for a day and spend time doing things that make you feel alive.
7. Become willing to surrender.
Breathe, relax, and let go. You can never see the whole picture. You don’t know what anything is for. Stop fighting against yourself by thinking and desiring people and events in your life should be different. Your plan may be different from your soul’s intentions.
8. Work on personal and spiritual development.
Be willing to surrender and grow. Life is a journey. We are here to learn and love on a deeper level. Take penguin steps and life becomes difficult. One step at a time is enough to proceed forward.
9. Own your potential.
Love yourself enough to believe in the limitless opportunities available to you. Take action and create a beautiful life for yourself.
10. Be patient with yourself.
Let go of urgency and fear. Relax and transform striving into thriving. Trust in yourself, do good work, and you will see results.
11. Live in appreciation.
Train your mind to be grateful. Appreciate your talents, beauty, and brilliance. Love your imperfectlyperfect self.
12. Be guided by your intuition.
All answers come from within. Look for signs and pay attention to your gut feelings. You’ll hear two inner voices when you need to make a decision. The quiet voice is your higher self; the loud voice is your ego. Always go with the quieter voice.
13. Do what honors and respects you.
Don’t participate in activities that bring you down. Don’t allow toxic people in your life. Love everyone, but be discerning on who you allow into your life.
14. Accept uncertainty.
Suffering comes from living in the pain of the past or the fear of the future. Put your attention on the present moment and be at peace.
15. Forgive yourself.
Learn from your mistakes and go forward. Use this affirmation, “I forgive myself for judging myself for __________ (fill in the blank i.e.: for getting sick, for acting out, for not doing your best).
16. Discover the power of fun.
Self-love requires time to relax, play, and create face-to-face interaction with others. Our fast-paced world creates a goal setting, competitive craziness that doesn’t leave room for play. Dr. Stuart Brow says, “The opposite of play isn’t work, it is depression.”
17. Be real.
Speak up and speak out. Allow yourself to be seen, known, and heard. Get comfortable with intimacy (in-to-me-see).
18. Focus on the positive.
Go to your heart and dwell on and praise yourself for what you get right in all areas.
19. Become aware of self neglect and rejection.
Become conscious of your choices. Ask yourself several times throughout the day, “Does this choice honor me?”
20. Imagine what your life would look like if you believed in your worth.
Dedicate your life to loving you. Make it your main event.
21. Seek professional help.
Self-rejection and neglect is painful. You deserve to be happy. You have a right to be accepted and loved. If necessary, seek help from a support group, counselor, or coach. It’s the best investment you can make.
Because we are all interconnected, when I love me, I also love you. Together through our love, we can heal ourselves, each other, and the world. Love is our purpose, our true calling. It begins with and withineach of us.
This post originally appeared on the site in 2011. Happy woman image via Shutterstock
Teaching kids to have compassion and empathy for their furry, feathered, and finned friends is vital for preventing cruelty to animals as well as in raising them to respect and treat those who are different from them with kindness. According to the National PTA Congress, “Children trained to extend justice, kindness, and mercy to animals become more just, kind, and considerate in their relations to each other. Character training along these lines will result in men and women of broader sympathies; more humane, more law-abiding, in every respect more valuable citizens.”
Live by and teach the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Since young children naturally identify with animals, and because animals are living beings like us, we can use our interactions with animals to teach children how to behave toward other people. Teaching our kids to respect and protect even the smallest and most despised among us is one of the most important life lessons that we can pass along to them. It helps them learn to value one another—and it prevents violence.
Empathy Training Prevents Violence
Decades of evidence show that a child’s attitude toward animals can predict future behavior. According to published reports, in every highly publicized school shooting, one warning sign appeared consistently: All the young killers abused or killed animals before turning on their classmates.
According to FBI profilers, psychiatric professionals, law-enforcement officials, and child advocacy organizations, people who hurt animals may eventually direct violence toward humans. Cruelty to animals is considered one of three symptoms that predict the development of a psychopath, and it is included as a criterion for a conduct disorder in children by the American Psychiatric Association.
People who are capable of such acts have a severely underdeveloped sense of empathy—they lack the ability to comprehend or care about the distress or agony that they are causing. Without empathy, it is easy to think of others as unfeeling machines. Teaching kindness and respect for animals is the first step in teaching children empathy.
Teach Kindness by Example
- Incorporating simple concepts of kindness and respect into kids’ daily lives is simple and fun! The easiest and most important way to teach your little ones empathy is to lead by example.
- Listen to yourself with new ears—don’t yell “shut up,” “stupid dog,” or other hurtful things.
- Never hit animals.
- Show that you value animals’ lives by being patient with them, making sure that they all wear an ID tag, spaying or neutering them to prevent unwanted litters, giving them plenty of clean water, and providing regular veterinary care.
- Include your animals in your life. Allow your dog to live inside with the family, and spend time with your animal companions daily, brushing them, playing with them, and walking them.
- Sometimes tiny creatures wander into our homes—help them find their way out nonviolently.
- Avoid statements that demean animals—even those made in jest—such as “I hate cats” or “Chickens are stupid.”
- Remember that toys influence children. Don’t buy toys that even hint at animal exploitation, such as video games that allow children to kill animals or model zoos or circus trains.
Show your kids that it’s cool to care by regularly engaging them in these and other fun empathy-building activities:
Go to your local animal shelter and volunteer with your child to help care for homeless animals.
Plant flowers and shrubbery for butterflies, bees, and other wildlife in your back yard.
During a walk at the beach, in the woods, or by a stream, pick up plastic rings, bottles, and other trash that can kill birds, turtles, dolphins, and other animals.
Watch animal-friendly movies, such as Chicken Run, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Shiloh, Free Willy, Babe, My Dog Skip, Finding Nemo, and Shark Tale.
Read your children books that show animals as feeling individuals, such as Lassie Come Home, Black Beauty, Charlotte’s Web, Frederick, Blueberries for Sal, The Forgotten Door, and Make Way for Ducklings.
Source: PETA 4 Kids http://www.petakids.com/parents/teaching-compassion/
Little things you can do to boost your happiness—and keep stress in check—all day long
C’mon, get happy
It’s not easy being upbeat when life’s little bumps—from looming work deadlines to a streak of cloudy days—can easily send your mood sinking and stress levels soaring. But what’s sweeter than that warm feeling you get from sipping a peppermint-spiced latte on a chilly morning? These 10 small, feel-good moves offer a major mood boost. Try one—or all—to feel happier and calmer in no time.
#1: Shop smart: Money may buy happiness, but only if you spend it wisely. To get more happiness for your dollar, splurge for experiences instead of stuff. Miriam Tatzel, PhD, of Empire State College surveyed 329 shoppers and found that “experiencers”—consumers who are easygoing about spending on a great meal out or a concert, for example—are happier than those who lavish their money on material goods such as clothes or jewelry. Added bonus: Experiences allow you to spend quality time with family and friends; a new pair of shoes is a solo endeavor.
#2: Do a good deed: People who volunteer are likelier to be happier than those who don’t—regardless of how much money they make or other socioeconomic factors. Researchers believe volunteering boosts happiness because it increases empathy, which makes you appreciate all the good stuff in your own life. Pitching in for a regular cause in your community is ideal (such as serving food at your church’s soup kitchen), but you can make a difference in other ways in mere minutes. Become an organ donor or sign up for a charity walk. For the person on your holiday gift list who has everything, consider donating money to a good cause in their name. Check out villagevolunteers.org for ideas: Just $20 buys a water filter to give Kenyan orphans clean drinking water, and $35 is enough to purchase 10 mosquito nets to help prevent malaria.
#3: Flip through old photos: When you’re feeling down, break out your kids’ baby albums or pics from your favorite vacation. It may actually make you feel happier than a square of Godiva chocolate would! That’s what researchers at the United Kingdom’s Open University found after they examined how much people’s moods rose after eating a chocolate snack, sipping an alcoholic drink, watching TV, listening to music, or looking at personal photos. The music and chocolate left most people’s moods unchanged; alcohol and TV gave a slight lift (1%), but the winner by a long shot was viewing pictures, which made people feel 11% better. To keep your spirits high, try hanging one of your favorite photos at eye level in an unexpected spot, such as taped to the window in front of your kitchen sink. You’ll score a quick mood boost when you’re doing something mundane, such as washing dishes.
#4: Lighten up: After just three weeks of bright-light therapy, more than 50% of the participants in a study about depression reported a better mood and sounder sleep. An hour of bright indoor light a day was as effective as antidepressants—and had no side effects. Best of all, mood continued to improve for weeks after treatment.
#5: Track the good stuff: Every night, write down three things that went well for you that day, no matter how minor. (In fact, 39% of people say catching up with family at night is the highlight of their day, according to a Coca-Cola Global Happiness Survey.) Be descriptive and note the role you played in making each happy moment happen. You’ll be increasingly mindful of how much control you have over the bright spots in your life.
#6: Go with the flow: Some joyful moments seem to call for conscious reflection and dissection. At other times, we savor experiences best when we simply immerse ourselves in the present moment, without deliberate analysis or judgment. Listen to your favorite music with headphones in a dark room. Lose yourself in a novel you just can’t put down. Set aside enough time at least once a week for your favorite hobby so you can attain a level of absorption known as the “flow” state.
#7: Get a move on: “Exercise sparks the release of feel-good endorphins, but it also satisfies something more profound: the human need to perform and excel. Exercise helps you feel like the captain of your own ship,” explains Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, the author of The How of Happiness. Although any fitness activity you enjoy is good, you’ll enhance its benefits even more by taking it outdoors. A review of 11 studies published in Environmental Science & Technology found that people who exercised outside felt more energetic and were more inclined to keep at it. This is good news, because the rewards of physical activity are cumulative: The more you exercise, the clearer your mind. So as you’re figuring out your holiday calendar, schedule an ice-skating outing or a cross-country ski day. You’ll feel more energized and ready to tackle your errands.
#8: Tap into your spiritual side: The more frequently that people attend religious services, the more content they are, according to a study in the Journal of Economic Psychology. Faith and prayer, regardless of religion, satisfy a basic need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. If prayer isn’t for you, try meditation or a restorative yoga class instead. New research shows that spiritual practices, such as regular mindfulness exercises, can actually change brain structure in a way that promotes a sense of well-being. So as a part of your day, set aside some time for prayer or meditation. It’ll lift your spirit—literally.
#9: Pucker up: Kissing is romantic, but it gives more than your sex life a lift. While male saliva contains testosterone, and a lingering lip lock turns out to be a reliable delivery system, smooching also floods the bloodstream with dopamine, which stimulates the same part of the brain as cocaine, for a natural high. And if you need yet another reason to plant one on your beloved, smooch for heart health: Research shows that regular kissing reduces cholesterol in men and women alike.
#10: Sing in the shower: The shower, with its cocoon of privacy and superlative acoustics, brings out the diva in us all. And we would be wise to let her take the steamy stage and croon away. Music therapists believe that singing boosts your mood. Bonus: singing also enhances immunity by increasing antibodies that fight sickness, according to one German study. So whether your style is Adele or Britney Spears, belt your heart out and soak in singing’s mood and health benefits.
Source: FEBRUARY 4, 2013 – Prevention Magazine
Proverbs is packed with scripture regarding the tongue. In fact, every time I read it I feel myself sinking a little bit lower in my chair. Instead of flogging myself, I try to rest in the forgiveness I have in Jesus. I know my good behavior isn’t what pleases God. But it inspires me and convicts me to think twice before letting my words fly out of my mouth.
If it’s important to guard biting words while interacting with the general public, how much more should we do this in our marriages?
Over the past twenty-five years, I’ve learned that my opinion matters to my husband. Even if I think he’s not listening, he is. Sometimes I share my feelings just for the sake of getting things off my chest, but here is the problem: my husband is a problem solver. So if I vent to him, he tries to find a solution. And if there is no solution, he feels like a failure. If he feels like a failure, he gets crabby, and if he gets crabby, I complain more. It’s the marriage version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
So, sometimes I reserve some of my venting just for God, because He isn’t going to bat an eye while I worry and fret. And most of the time, I’m not expecting a huge answer, I just need to communicate and move on.
Here are 10 ways I have learned to communicate kindly:
1. Don’t be stingy with encouraging words because they can make a tough situation easier.
2. Let the small things go. Don’t nitpick the way your spouse does household chores. Just say, “Thanks.”
3. Cheer him on. Your husband actually wants to know that you are his biggest fan.
4. Don’t die on every hill. Little arguments will come up often. Who cares who is right? Do you want to be right or happy?
5. Smile more. Lift your eyebrows while you are at it, because it’s proven to make others less defensive. (I threw that tip in for free. )
6. Say thank you. We are all working hard. It’s so nice to be thanked for our efforts. It makes me want to keep at it when my husband thanks me.
7. Complain wisely. Sometimes things need to be discussed. But not every little annoyance needs attention. Choose the most important dilemmas to hash out. Nobody wants to hear negativity all the day long.
8. Cushion criticism. Say something positive before and after the negative comment.
9. Empathize. Try to see a different perspective. It can change the whole tone of a disagreement. Imagine what your spouse is feeling and going through.
10. Pray for wisdom. We all need this in our marriages. While reading Proverbs for taming the tongue, you will also learn the value of wisdom.
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” —Proverbs 3:1-3
Come and visit my website – a safe place to share and communicate: www.leslielotton.com
How does one know if they are marring into a dysfunctional family?
- Spend time with the family unit. How does the mother and father communicate?
- Is anyone in the family addicted to alcohol or drugs?
- What is the mother or father’s past home life?
- What is the families recreational activities?
- How do the other children in family, if there are any, interact within the family? Or is your partner the only child?
- What are your potential partner’s idiosyncrasies?
When you take me into your world, know that I have opened the door to mine. Give and take is not optional, it is mandatory. Some give all and others can only give small portions, small bits and pieces at a time. The gift is in the giving, not the portions. And, if given in truth, should hold equal value and appreciation. At that time, it is all that can be given! Patience is also mandatory! As we reach for that universal emotion, LOVE, we often fail to realize that we all have a past. Now is the time for acceptance! Remember, never step on a heart that you might live in.
When the Mind Seeks and the Heart Speaks
The journey of life is awesome, so rewarding, yet heart breaking at times. You will traverse through heaven & hell, good times, hard times, and bad times. Your journey will include the good the bad and the ugly. Those who love you, use you, and some will abuse you. You will win some and lose some. All will be lessons of great value, all in its time and place. Every road, every person along the way has something to share with you . . . will win some and lose some. All will be lessons of great value, all in its time and place. Every road, every person along the way has something to share with you . . . there is a reason for these crossroads, and a season for all. As hard as some roads may be, the most difficult is the road into SELF. This is when the mind seeks and the heart speaks. Here you will find your freedom, your truth.
When two people from dysfunctional families fall in love it could partly because they feel comfortable in a situation like the ones they know. Often, they only find themselves back into a place they thought they were free from. Not knowing how this came about and they start looking for a way out, forgetting or abandoning the love they felt for each other in the beginning. Yes, that “Flight or Flee” is a normal feeling coming from this atmosphere, a circle you will repeat over and over again if you don’t do the work to break the circle.
What is this work you say? Communications! We have been taught that you don’t talk about this type of problem, keeping it to yourself, you will likely be stepping back into that role over and over again. If you can be honest with each other and try to be supportive and understanding a much brighter wonderful life could be yours.
I’m not trying to make light of the situation for it will take two considerate, concerned, patient people in love who want to recover and have a happy, fulfilling life. Love is the glue and, since most of us have not really learned to love, it will take persistence to overcome this desire to flee. It will take one able to show love possibly more than the other but in return the other begins to learn to love. With this show of love hopefully the one showing love will have a gratification that possibly they have never felt before and this could sustain their love.
Did I hear this in a song somewhere? Many songs of heartache are written about these painful situations we face. Why, because most of the song writers are like us; the ones feeling unloved, lost in a world that we can’t seem to make better. You see most who come from dysfunctional families have learned more about the world outside our doors and have the capabilities to do far more than those who have not experienced dysfunctional living. Even to write beautiful love songs. It is inside of us to love; we only need to learn how to make it work for us not against us.
This is my first time to blog, to openly write straight to the point rather than telling of my heart breaks as stories, book. Coming from a dysfunctional family has created in me abilities and perceptions that hopefully I can share with many. I want to show how to make our experiences create a new and satisfying life with confidence that we are people who know people and can use this for our benefit; to make a happier life and bring that merry-go-round to stop and let us off.