acceptance · letting go · relationships · self

Learning To Accept Rather Than Expect

I hate when someone hurts my feelings, but I hate it even more when I let them.

Usually, I have a positive attitude toward people. I look for the good. I believe they mean well. I embrace differences and imperfections. And above all, I try not to judge.

But sometimes, I admit that I am overly sensitive.

Recently someone invited a group of friends to a gathering, and I was not included. No big deal, right? Probably a simple oversight. But in my heart, I knew I was intentionally excluded. For reasons I will not go into here, it was obvious this person chose everyone else but me.

At first I thought I was reading into things too much. I tried to ignore it, forget it. But then, I became upset and angry. And the more upset and angry I became, the more frustrated I became that I even cared.

You see, I make an effort to not allow others to influence my emotions and thoughts about myself. Yet, I am human. My interactions with people lead to the creation of deeper connections and bonds. And with those connections and bonds, I form attachments and feelings toward them. I want to like others and be liked in return.

In reality, I was not upset or angry or frustrated … I was hurt. Hurt that someone did not include me. Hurt that I tried to befriend them, and they did not want me in their circle. Hurt that I was not cool enough to be considered friend material.

So why do I even care about this? Because when someone rejects who I am, I begin to believe there is something wrong with me. I wonder why I am not good enough. I question my worth.

The exclusion itself does not bother me … allowing someone else to control my perception of myself does.

And so, I allowed the hurt to happen and then I allowed it to leave.

Others do not validate who I am as a person. Only I can do that. I do not need people in my life who do not value what I have to offer. There are plenty of family and cherished friends who appreciate me. I refuse to surround myself with someone who (intentionally or not) makes me feel like I am less than. I am more than enough.

Everyone does not have to like me. In truth, I do not like everyone I meet. That is why some people are drawn to each other and some are not. I will, however, continue to be kind and friendly toward this person because that is my nature. I will smile and chat and enjoy our time together because I do like them.

But in those moments I will remember: liking myself more is what matters. And I will not surrender that power to anyone.

The takeaway? Too often we expect people to treat us as we would treat them. Expectations in relationships are not necessarily a bad thing. It is good to establish boundaries and set standards. The trouble comes when we invest in a desired result. If an interaction does not meet our idea of what should happen, it is easy to become disillusioned. We turn the failure of a preferred outcome back onto ourselves, as if we are somehow the problem or to blame.

We have no control. There is no surefire way to know how anyone will behave or what will happen. So the best solution may be this: stop trying.

Stop trying to predict what others will say or do.
Stop trying to guess what someone else is thinking.
Stop trying to examine every word spoken or move made.
Stop trying to micro-manage relationships.
Stop trying to do the impossible.

WHEN WE LEARN TO ACCEPT RATHER THAN EXPECT,
WE WILL HAVE FEWER DISAPPOINTMENTS.
~ unknown


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

gratitude · happiness · relationships

Find Your Person

I have been thinking a lot about comfort.

Even in the most routine of days there is enough to overwhelm, stress, push limits, or create unease. As a result, it is only natural to seek a balance, surround ourselves with whatever soothes, calms, and pampers. We have become wired (and encouraged) to search for things that make us feel good or reward our efforts. And we do this in a variety of ways – home, food, drink, shopping, entertainment, vacations, hobbies.

But have you ever thought about the people who bring comfort to your life?

Over a lifetime, there are countless people who fill an open or needful space in our hearts, providing solace and healing on a personal level. They appear in the form of spouses, children, family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, parishioners, teachers, and more.

It might be one individual. It might be many. But the important thing is to realize who is there for you.

Have you found your person? The…

LINK who connects you to others and maintains the bonds.
ADVENTURER who pushes you to do things you would never do on your own.
EMBRACER who lets you be yourself – never asks, expects, or wants you to change.
HAVEN who makes you feel secure and eases your fears.
ACCEPTER who will never judge, point out mistakes, or say told you so.
PARTNER who shares everything with you, knows everything about you, and loves you for it.
BELIEVER who has faith in you and your dreams even when you do not.
JOKER who makes you constantly laugh and smile.
COMPANION who is simply by your side, just because, whenever and wherever.
LIFER who has known you forever – witnessed your childhood, your past, your everything.
SOOTHER who calms you when the craziness of life becomes too much.
CHEERLEADER who supports and encourages you to take chances.
LIGHT who brightens your day – when the path seems dark, they shine the way.
REALIST who puts things in perspective and helps you see clearly.
GUIDE who gives great advice and whose opinion you value and trust.
LISTENER who really hears what you say and the meaning behind it.
SOCIALIZER who convinces you to go out, have fun, and let loose.
ROCK who stays strong when you are at your weakest – you fall down, they lift you up.
HELPER who always has a plan and if you have a problem, they seek to fix it.
CONSTANT who you rely on – when they give their word, you can depend on it.

It is important to note these are individuals who should bring positivity, inspiration, and joy to our lives. Leave no room for negativity or toxic, dysfunctional interactions.

Too often we overlook one of the most powerful healers – a caring and giving person – because for some, it is such a mainstay in life. Those who are fortunate enough to have fulfilling relationships tend to take them for granted or fail to acknowledge their value. We prefer to believe the people we depend on will always be there, that we will have ample time to express our love and appreciation.

If you have someone special in your life, take a moment. Think about how much comfort they give you.

Tell them. Thank them. Love them. And when the time comes, be their person.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

daily life · relationships · self

The Legacy We Leave

A few years ago, I posted a book promotion for a complete stranger on my author blog. (You can read the original post but be warned, formatting or links may be off). She was an indie author and warrior who lost her battle with cancer and as a tribute, fellow bloggers were promoting the book on her behalf.

My reason to participate was simple: her story was my story. She was young (like me). A mother (like me). A writer (like me). A woman touched by cancer (like me). It did not matter if her book was good or not (in truth, I didn’t even think of it until now). All I knew was that she deserved a chance to share her story, to shine as a writer.

The only way I could help was to preserve her legacy.

Legacy is the reason I wrote and published my first novella in 2010. The entire purpose was for my son. I wanted him to have a book written by me, something tangible that I created. And as someone who has always been writing or thinking about writing, a book was a no-brainer. It is a clear representation and distinct memory of me. It is another layer of who I am that I wanted to share and preserve for him.

I chose a book but it is important to know there are countless ways to establish a legacy and leave something of us behind. And the best part? it does not need to be a grand gesture or require a lot of effort. Nor does it need to be done to impress or please someone else.

In fact, I can guarantee you have probably created a lasting memory and not even realized it.

HAVE YOU EVER?

loved unconditionally
shown compassion
volunteered time
lent a helping hand
lifted someone up
granted patience
caused a smile
said I love you just because
hugged and refused to let go
offered forgiveness
supported a decision
cheered the loudest
listened, really listened
opened your heart
donated to those in need
provided friendship
cared for another

If you have done any of these things, you have left a legacy, an indelible imprint on the life of another person.

Your time, attention, support, affection – these are the easiest gifts to give. Share them freely and often with those who deserve and appreciate them.

Be with the ones you love. Be present. 

By making the moments – the now – matter, you are providing a lasting impression of your time here on earth. The little things you do and say carry great power.

Leave a legacy.

Impact the lives of others and change the world simply by being here and in doing good things. You do not need a viral post or headline or something tangible to reflect your importance. You live it every day.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

health · relationships · renewal

How To Help Someone Heal (When You Don’t Know How To Help)

Although we wish it would never happen, there will come a time when major illness / surgery / medical care affects someone dear to us.

As a cancer survivor who has battled multiple surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, and more, I have often been asked how to help someone in a similar situation. The most recent came last week and prompted this post.

The following list is a small sampling of ways to reach out. It is not just for illness but for anyone suffering through a difficult life event and is only limited by your own creativity.

Whatever gesture, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can have an incredible impact on how another person heals.

WHAT BROUGHT LIGHT TO MY DARK DAYS

 -Meal Service: Organize a network of dinners via Meal Train or Sign Up Genius. Meals are catered to allergies and tastes, and menus can be as complicated or simple as you like. During my chemo weeks, friends provided delicious home cooked and carry out meals for my husband and son.

-Dinner Gift Cards: A gift card for meal delivery or carry out on those nights when they are too tired to cook will be appreciated.

-Meal Alternatives: If they are unable to eat due to intensive treatment or recovery, consider doctor-recommended Ensure. There were many days when I could not stomach food and textures made me nauseous. A friend included a pack with her donated meal, and it worked to provide vital nutrients when I could not eat.

-Seasonal Arrangement: This one is obvious. I am not a flower person, but the sentiment certainly did brighten my days.

-Group Gift Basket: If your friend is part of a group or club, have the members contribute an item to a collective gift basket as a way to cheer them up.

-Media: A friend of mine gifted the season one DVD of a popular television show. I became hooked enough to catch up on the entire series while I was sick. Books and crosswords are also wonderful ideas to help pass recovery time. If you order from Amazon, you can gift almost any item (digitally or via mail) to another person.

-Drop A Note: I still have (and cherish) all of the handwritten greeting cards, notes, and kid drawings that came through the mail or were given to me. One friend sent a funny card every week to let me know I was not forgotten.

-Social Media: I received countless wall posts and private messages of support. A second of your time can make a world of difference to someone who is feeling down, isolated, or alone.

-Child Care: Offers to babysit, host play dates, pick up from school, or run a child to/from activities can be a lifesaver on those days when it is difficult to even get out of bed.

-Provide Transportation: If they are unable to drive, offer to take them to appointments, the store, etc.

-Run Errands: Save them a trip. Ask if they need groceries, a run to the post office, or a stop at the discount store.

-Home Care: Offer to do light chores. If you use a cleaning service, see if they provide free services for medical patients. Cleaning For A Reason offers free maid service and the opportunity to gift to someone battling cancer.

-Be Social: Friends invited me for coffee, movies, and more on a regular basis. Though I was not always up to it, I did go on many occasions. It felt wonderful to be included and escape the diagnosis for a while.

-Check In: Let them know you are thinking of them, just because and with no expectations. One morning my neighbor and her children brought me a bouquet of wildflowers after their morning walk. The visit took less than five minutes but made the day.

-Join The Fight: More than once, I was shown public support via fundraising, sponsorship, or recognition on my behalf.

-Prayer Chains: Regardless of your religious affiliation, it is heartening to know someone is praying for you. My hometown church included me on a weekly prayer list and a complete stranger who knew of my fight sent a lovely card.

These are just a few ideas and as you can see, I still remember them almost five years later! Each person is different and every situation unique, but there are some basic things to remember:

DO
  • Respect their privacy: ask permission before sharing with anyone
  • Ask questions and then listen to the answers
  • Allow them to choose topics of conversation
  • Avoid negative stories about whatever it is they battle
  • Help them feel normal whenever possible
  • Let them know you are willing to help if needed
  • Reach out!
DO NOT
  • Post on social media or make it public if they do not want it
  • Offer advice unless they ask for it
  • Judge: everyone fights in their own way
  • Hover: allow them the freedom to heal on their own terms
  • Minimize their pain or emotions
  • Call or visit if they are not ready
  • Avoid them just because you do not know what to say or do!
WHEN…

they seek companionship, be there.

they ask for space, leave.

they want to talk, let them.

they need silence, give it.

Honor the struggle. The greatest gift you can give someone who is healing is your patience and understanding.


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discovery · learning · relationships · self

How To Rise Above The Noise

Too often we hear but do not listen. When someone…

  • opposes our opinion, we seek those who agree.
  • loves us, we wonder why.
  • hurts us, we hurt them back.
  • insults us, we believe them.
  • offers praise, we want more.
  • criticizes us, we try to change who we are.
  • rejects us, we think we are the problem.
  • gives judgment, we retreat.
  • compliments us, we don’t believe them.
  • ignores us, we crave their attention.
  • says something we do not like, we try to ignore it.
  • offers to help, we pretend there is no need.

People do become lost in their own pain and often try to heal the wounds by hurting those around them. In an effort to control the uncontrollable, they speak harsh words and spread negativity without realizing the depth of damage left in the wake.

Others, however, are well aware of their actions and say things with a purposeful intent to cause harm. They try to lift themselves up while knocking someone else down.

And what about those times when we are offered a genuine helping hand or positive reinforcement? We question the motive behind the gift or convince ourselves they do not mean what is said.

Words carry power, but our heart holds more.

Allowing others to steer our emotions and reactions in a direction we do not want or deserve can prove toxic. Over time, it corrodes, removing layers of trust, confidence, and self-esteem until there is nothing left but an empty shell. And although we may not be able to stop the dialogue from others, we can change the conversation in our minds.

If someone…

  • opposes your opinion, open your mind.
  • loves you, love them back.
  • hurts you, seek to understand why.
  • insults you, realize your own worth.
  • offers praise, be proud of your accomplishment.
  • criticizes you, view it as opportunity.
  • rejects you, know you matter and are loved.
  • gives judgment, show yourself compassion.
  • compliments you, say thank you.
  • ignores you, give yourself what they will not.
  • says something you do not like, look for the message.
  • offers to help, accept it.

Navigating through this life can be difficult. The paths are bumpy, the signs hard to read. Sometimes it is about others, sometimes it is about us. Decoding the meaning behind everything is not only exhausting but futile.

Rise above the noise. Stop relying on what others tell you. Learn to listen to your heart.


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daily life · letting go · relationships · self

Avoid The Pitfalls Of Comparison

At one time we were subjected to the minute details of people’s lives via blurry snapshots, scratchy home movies, handwritten letters, one-on-one conversations, or the ultimate memento of my youth: the brag book. Do you remember the brag book? It was a small notebook / album where a person could highlight accomplishments. Children would scribble and draw in theirs. Parents and grandparents would showcase photos.

Regardless of the method used, sharing info was simplified, sporadic, and personal.

We all still want to feel special and acknowledged – that has not changed. But now, social media allows us to make every intimate detail public and widespread. It puts each individual in the spotlight or at least it gives them that impression. Over the years, studies have been conducted on the allure and impact of social media. It serves not only as a connection with friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, it has become an extension of who we are…and who we wish to be.

The reasons behind a status update vary as much as the personalities of the people posting content. But much like brag books of the past, the ultimate purpose is the same: we want to share a part of our life with others. We seek validation. We desire inclusion. And with the advent of technology, we are no longer happy with an ooh or ah from the onlooker. We crave notifications. The adoration is closely monitored and success is tabulated by the number of likes, comments, and shares.

There are countless types of posts. Some seek to:

  • brag or be humble
  • self-deprecate or show pride
  • educate or learn
  • share sadness or joy
  • grieve or celebrate
  • rebel or conform
  • criticize or praise
  • alienate or connect
  • be vain or selfless
  • spread hate or love
  • be oblivious or aware
  • complain or be grateful

Whatever the emotion or intent, online communities provide a vital opportunity for self-expression. And when those photos and links and status updates appear in a newsfeed, we devour the content. We click an emoticon and type a response. And then, too often, we compare. Are we keeping up? Are we on the same level? Are we ahead? Are we good enough? Are we interesting? Are we worthy? Are we popular? Do we matter?

Something to remember is this: we see almost every good thing and only some of the bad. Life is edited online. More people share good news than bad. And when they do, we capture a glimpse but not the entire picture. Perhaps even worse, comparison leads to dependence. We become needful of others – their actions, their thoughts, their ideals – to define our success or failure. When we link our worth to another person, we lose control, freedom, and a core part of ourselves.

Social media should be social. It should be interactive and for the most part, enjoyable. If you find yourself stressed and struggling with constant comparison, it may be time to re-evaluate your online activity.

1) DETOX: Train yourself to step back. Log off and stay off if that is what it takes. A break – ranging from days to weeks to months – can renew your appreciation and adjust your perception.

2) ACCEPT: Take whatever is posted in its most basic form. Photos of a luxurious vacation or beautiful family portraits are simply one seemingly perfect part of an otherwise imperfect life.

3) SIMPLIFY: Do not be afraid to monitor or block the posts of people and sites that spread negativity. Online relationships should foster a positive feeling and connect rather than divide.

4) UNDERSTAND: Some days you will shine bright. Other days it will be someone else’s turn. No one is perpetually on top of the world. We all fall and with help from others, rise again. Enjoy your moment in the sun. And when the time comes to be in the shadows, allow another to bask in the warm glow.

5) PRIORITIZE: Popularity and personal success are not based upon shares, likes, or comments. Your contributions to this world are not measured online. More importantly, they do not always need to be shared in an open format in order to be recognized by those who truly matter.

The smile on your child’s face. A loving partner. The joy in your work. A comfortable home. Good health. Family fun. Friendships. Faith. Independence. Facing challenges and overcoming adversity. Bravery. Confidence. Appreciation. Gratitude. Whether we do it in public or private, these are the true markers of living well.

LIFE is not a competition. Everybody wins.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

acceptance · fears · relationships · self

What To Do When You Feel Ignored

ignored

There will come a time in life when your needs are not met. A spouse / partner brushes off affections or diminishes your concerns. A family member misses your birthday or other special event. A friend forgets to invite you to a gathering. An employer sidesteps your complaint or idea.  A stranger looks past you and onto another.

We are human. We exist. We are flesh and bone. Real. Tangible. And yet when someone neglects or dismisses us, we feel invisible. Not every time, but when we need the attention to fill a void? It hurts. Bad.

Sometimes we require higher levels of understanding to get us through a rough patch. We often need extra support to help us deal with problems. But most of the time, we simply like to be acknowledged. We seek to be sought after. We hope to be understood. We want to be included, needed, remembered, and missed. 

We want to be seen.

I have been dissed. I have been excluded. I have been forgotten. I have been ignored. We all have. And when that happens, there are a few ways to counteract the blistering effect of rejection:

1) DO NOT ALLOW IT TO GROW – Most of the time we can brush it off, but if you sense a simmering anger over what happened, address it head-on and immediately. If possible, discuss it with the person who hurt you. Be honest but also aware of the damage it might do. Choose words carefully. Remember you are trying to mend the relationship rather than ruin it. If you are unable to discuss it openly, seek to better understand the reason for your reaction and work to move past it.

2) DO NOT INTERNALIZE IT – Realize it is not always about you. Work to find out the Why before worrying about the Why Me. Maybe the other person is dealing with their own troubles. We all battle personal demons at various times and too often we get caught in the steely claws and direct our frustration at someone else. Perhaps they need you more than you need them right now. Being forgotten is not always a sign that you mean less to someone nor is it a measure of your worth.

3) DO NOT JUDGE – The goal is to foster healthy interactions that better you and your life. Criticizing another for a slight slip-up serves no one. If you find yourself putting someone else down in your mind because they did not fit some perfect expectation you have, stop it now. More importantly, be wary of ignoring the person on purpose or making them feel left out as some twisted means of revenge. Chances are they will not even know your intent and it will only leave you bitter. This is not a competition to prove who is the better person.

4) DO NOT MAKE EXCUSES – If the other person hurts you on a consistent basis and with intention, it may be time to leave. People say things and do things to hurt the ones they love, but it should not be a regular occurrence. Blaming yourself or excusing their behavior because of [insert reason here] may be a sign that the relationship is toxic. Whether it be spouse, family, co-worker, or friend, if they purposely make you feel like less, love yourself enough to create distance and let go.

5) DO NOT FORGET TO FORGIVE – We all make mistakes. Whatever happened to make you feel ignored may have been a simple misunderstanding or unintended oversight. Not everything directed at us is tinged with malice or meant to be personal. If the other person has never shown you any reason to distrust or question them, find forgiveness. Allow yourself to feel the emotion but also allow room for some error.

From my experience, I will admit these are not always easy things to do. In the midst of our hurt, it becomes easier to make up stories in our head and focus our anger on others. Placing all of the blame on those who truly care, however, will not erase the pain but only create more – in strained relationships, internal stress, and useless mind games.

In the end, it does not really matter who sees you as long as you make the effort to truly see yourself.

smile


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