Journey to an Open Heart

Life has taken me on a wild ride with many ups and downs, and the last four years, I would say that one of the destinations on this journey has been to live with a whole open heart. I have always been considered a very caring person, but I can say now that I was not living with an open heart, I had put a protective barrier around my heart that did not allow me to feel as deeply as I was capable of. I say this with no self-judgment as I know this was/is part of my life lessons.

This protective barrier (as I realized in meditation) was like a clay shell around my heart that blocked or at very least filtered the amount of love I could receive or the amount of love I was capable of giving. I made a decision after Woody (my husband) passed that I did not want to restrict my life anymore … no regrets! Specifically, the choice to open my heart naturally evolved during the work I had been doing on myself since that decision.

In this process, I realized I was not fully living, with a closed heart, and I wanted to change that! So I started to follow the signs from the Universe and started this journey to open my heart. Through meditation and doing personal growth work, it became evident that in order to have the life I wanted, I needed to be vulnerable, I needed to open my heart, despite the fear. And that is what I did!

Journey to an Open Heart

 

It was a long process that I won’t go through here but what I will say is that it took a lot of trust in myself and the Universe, and definitely perseverance… at times it still does! It’s not easy being vulnerable, and at times it still feels scary to be this open, but having lived with a protected heart, the alternative is no longer an option (for me)!

My personal growth work thus far required me to do A LOT of healing the past. I did this with the support of my coaches, my friends and family, and to be honest, it was not nearly as difficult as I had anticipated and built up in my head (isn’t that always the way it is). That’s the thing fear had kept me from opening my heart, but not living with an open heart doesn’t save us from heartache; it only limits us from fully experiencing love. To me, losing out on that experience is way worse than any heartbreak could cause.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I was led through my journey with signs from the Universe. To me, these signs appear as repeat messages or things that pop up in life that would draw my attention to what needed to be healed, what habits need to be changed, and what thinking needed to be reset. I followed the breadcrumbs, did the work all the while trying to be patient with the process (not one of my strengths)! One day, in meditation, it came clear to me that this protective clay shell had crumbled away, well at least 90% of it had. I felt at this time that I needed to have patience, and I was not overly concerned about the remaining 10%, I felt that would come when it was ready … I had already come so far.

Then one night as I sat working on my computer my phone buzzed beside me with a ring tone, I was not familiar with, I looked down and instantly had a violent physical reaction. My body started shaking, and I was in a full-on anxiety attack. I took a deep breath and looked again at the FB notification. It was a friend request from an ex-boyfriend. Not just any ex but one that was extremely emotionally abusive, the depths of which I am sure I can’t even recall now! My physical reaction was enough for me to realize I needed to do some work here. The Universe was sending me a message!  It was inviting me to look at this past relationship.

At this point, I wasn’t clear that this was related to my work in opening my heart, but what happened next made that crystal clear. After collecting myself, reassuring myself I was safe and speaking to my supports; I knew I needed to look at this past relationship.

I recognized I either needed to do the healing work myself, or I was being invited to heal that part of me with him (as I am much stronger now than I have ever been) and felt that maybe this was an invitation to have a conversation with him. I decided to sleep on it.

Journey to an Open Heart

 

When I went to bed that night, I did a meditation to balance my chakras and in that meditation, it became clear that this was more work on clearing my heart chakra and opening my heart. It was so cool! I literally could see the remaining protected 10% of my heart closed off, it appeared black, to this day I can even point out exactly where it was, it was so vivid!

Through the meditation, I asked my heart to release and open and did some self-compassion work to create that safe place for me to heal. When I did this, the black part crumbled away and for the first time in as long as I can remember, my heart was open! Genuinely open to give and receive love.

I determined at this point the friend invite was all I needed, it served as a reminder to something I had long ago suppressed. I did the healing on my own, I did not feel a need to speak to him. The next day I deleted the friend request with thoughts of peace and compassion for him on his journey and happiness and gratitude for this experience.

Journey to an Open Heart

 

Since then, I feel my heart is open, fully open and that is amazing! It still feels vulnerable (and scary at times), but I would rather feel vulnerable than not fully experience my life. Having an open heart means, I feel at a deeper level all the beautiful feelings of gratitude, love, and happiness and that is worth the moments of fear that come along with being vulnerable and open.

I wrote this blog as I hope it will help some of you out there who, like me, are not living with an open heart who are limiting their experiences for fear of being broken hearted. I think there are a lot of us who have numbed our hearts and let me tell you I get it, but having experienced the other side, it really is worth taking that risk! My advice having been on this journey … take that chance!

 

Journey to an Open Heart

 

Winter of the Soul

It has been a while since I have written, not for lack of trying. What I have found for me is if I force it then I am out of flow and nothing comes together and that definitely does not bring me joy. Therefore, I write when I feel I have something to say. Lately, I have been trying to come up with something and nothing is coming, which is rare as either myself or my clients are always in a state of growth and learning and the Universe is always there with new lessons. But lately, as I said, nothing has been coming together for me to write about and then it struck me last week, maybe that is the lesson (and the blog)!

Winter of the Soul

Sometimes we just need to pause, turn inward and reflect.  Although things seem slow and unchanging on the outside, I am sure there is a lot going on under the surface.

This is like winter.

In winter, Mother Nature goes into hibernation mode. I take that hibernation as a time to turn inward, to slow things down and really get ourselves in a healthy state for the upcoming Spring season. Previously, I have struggled with these times on my journey. They feel stagnant! Probably because in our society we focus so much on keeping our eye on the prize, basing our success and failure on observable measures of movement. We are taught that if we stop, take in the moment, take the time to turn inward that we are not moving forward… we are stagnant. But what is wrong with that! We need this time just as much as we do the blossoming of spring. They are both important!

In this space of turning inward, the Universe has presented me with opportunities to heal past hurts, move through blocked emotions and look at new challenges. All of which are supporting me in becoming the best version of myself. Now that doesn’t sound like being stagnant, does it?

My big realization is, we need to embrace the quiet times, we need to trust in the process. We need to understand that in life there will be times of quiet solitude where our souls recharge. I am positive in these times that things are going on quietly in the background, preparing us for the next chapter. And this work although not observable is just as important!

 

 

 

As I am sure I am not the only one who struggles in these times, I thought I would share some tips to help:

  • Stop judging yourself by other’s or societies standards
  • Be patient
  • Trust in the process
  • Use this time to really recharge your soul

So, the next time you come to one of these winters for your soul, honour it, enjoy it! Spring is just around the corner.

10 Irish Proverbs to Live By

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In honour of St. Patrick’s Day I have compiled a few of my favourite Irish Proverbs. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 

Your feet will bring you where your heart is.

10 Irish Proverbs to Live By

Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as if it were your last. 

10 Irish Proverbs to Live By

Count your joys instead of your woes. Count your friends instead of your foes.

10 best Irish proverbs

A good friend is like a four-leaf clover. Hard to find but lucky to have!

10 Irish Proverbs to Live By

You’ve got to do your own growing,

no matter how tall your father was.

10 best Irish proverbs

A good laugh and long sleep are the two best cures.

10 Irish Proverbs to Live By

You must take the little potato with the big potato.

10 best Irish proverbs

You will never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.

10 Irish Proverbs to Live By

I complained that I had no shoes. Until I met a man who had no feet.

10 Irish Proverbs to Live By

Life is like a cup of tea, it’s all in how you make it.

10 best Irish proverbs 

Always end your day with a positive thought. No matter how bad things are, tomorrow is another chance to make things better.

10 Irish Proverbs to Live By

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I’ll leave you this week with an Irish blessing:

May the dreams you hold dearest be those which come true.          

And the kindness you spread keep returning to you.

A Lesson in Gratitude

I had an interesting experience the other day, and for me, it was a great reminder of why gratitude is such a life changer!

This is how my morning started…

I was getting a cold, so was feeling not the greatest. I woke up to a colder than expected morning and was getting ready for work. I went to take my dog for her walk, and a thought popped into my mind ‘you should probably start your car before your walk’ (usually I do it after). So I did, and it didn’t start. It’s 430 in the morning, so there is not a whole lot of people awake to ask for a boost not to mention it is freezing outside. This had completely upset my morning routine!

A lesson in Gratitude

My parents live just around the corner from me, so I decided I would go and pick up their car (as they are out of town) and take it to work and deal with my car later. I walked my dog who I have to say loves the cold, so she wanted to stop and smell, I wanted to hurry up, I was freezing not to mention a bit grouchy about my car! I picked up my parents’ car as I walked past my parents’ house. The car was in the garage… nice it was warm, but to get it out I had to find their keys and the garage opener, nothing that significant just a few minutes and a little frustration added to the already frustrating morning. I drove home feeling a bit frazzled.

I went to prepare my breakfast and spilt my almond milk and started thinking ‘oh it’s going to be one of those days!’. When I left for work, I was a couple minutes behind schedule. I got a few blocks from my house and realized I had left my keys at home (as I didn’t have my car) which meant I did not have my work keys, so I cursed, turned around and returned home. Now I was rushing! Of course, on my way to work, I hit all the red lights… this never happens as I am the only car on the road this early. I grumbled at the lights and started to curse this day. It seemed the morning, well the last 45 minutes had been a series of unfortunate events. I realize nothing major, but it was enough at this point, to get me grumbling, grunting my frustration and complaining about the day already!

It was at this point it hit me… ‘Really?!? Tara what do you have to complain about’.

A Lesson in Gratitude

 

That’s when my perspective shifted. I had so much to be grateful for…

I had woken up in a warm home, I had tried to start my car before my walk, I had access to a car that was all ready to go, I had completed my morning routine with only a couple of minutes lost. REALLY what was the big deal?

This thought reminded me too often we focus on life’s frustrations. I started out my drive to work focusing on the fact that my car wouldn’t start and by the time I got to work the reality of the situation sunk in. Really… it was a great day! Things could have gone so much worse. I could have had to take a cab to work, which would have resulted in me being late, I could not have had time to make my breakfast, I could have gotten all the way to work then realized I didn’t have the keys, and there are so many worse complications that could have happened!

By the time I got to work my mood had shifted, and I was ready for the day. In fact, I didn’t even think about my car again until I went to leave work and realized I had my Dad’s car.

A Lesson in Gratitude

Now I know that for most of us when we have these kinds of days, we focus on it, we repeat the days’ frustrating events to coworkers, family and friends. We grumble all day about how our day is going, but the truth is if you took a minute refocused and looked at it… really you conquered those little trials, you persevered, and they ended up being minor frustrations rather than big catastrophes!

Therefore, I challenge you the next time you are having ‘one of those days’ take a minute to refocus look for the opportunities to be grateful for and I guarantee you, it will change your mood for the day!

Beyond the Scale – The Missing Piece

I have been struggling with weight loss for most of my life, well that is what I thought. What I realize now it was not about the weight at all, it was all about getting my mind healthy. As I write this it feels incredibly vulnerable, but I know I am not the only one who struggles with this, so my hope is this blog will find those of you who need it and those of you who are ready for a new perspective on themselves.

The thing is that I have always eaten healthy and got an average amount of exercise, but my weight never really changed much. Of course, I would do the up and down like most of us do, but no real drastic changes. The more I tried, the more I would judge and criticize myself, and the more my self-talk would focus on my weight and not being good enough. I constantly would think (and judge myself) about what I was eating, what I was doing and question WHY? I couldn’t lose weight. Having been a long-time believer in the mind-body connection, I even tried losing weight from that angle.

Looking back now it consumed a lot of mind space and utilized a lot of energy. In my mind, I could turn everything into a weight issue. Reflecting back, this is a pattern of thinking I had been playing out since childhood, so it was well ingrained and definitely repeated.

I know I am not alone observing this, our society has always had a strict view of beauty and for most of us an absolutely, unattainable one! (Although thankfully I do see this slowly changing).  I was fed these messages, and I ate them up! I felt I did not measure up!

This all changed after my husband passed away. Overall in my life, I took his passing as a sign from the Universe that I needed to make some changes. One of these changes was I took my Whole Person Coaching course to fulfill my career aspirations. But what it did for me was completely unexpected! In the course, I was coached numerous times and these common patterns, themes and beliefs started to come out. This began my journey to become my authentic self and loving that person no matter the size! And that is when I started looking at weight loss from a whole new perspective.

What I learned from my experience is that I was withholding love from myself, I was looking at my weight as a roadblock to my worthiness, as an excuse for anything that went wrong and I created thousands (probably millions) of stories in my head that perpetuated this belief… Unless you weigh less you are not enough, you are not worthy… subtitle… something is wrong with you unless you lose weight. This is pretty harsh messaging, and most of us would never say that to anyone out loud, but most of us, in some version or another, say it to ourselves on a regular basis.

 

It’s not easy to recall what the first step was in my transformation as the life lessons were coming to me hard a fast at that time. During those few years, the Universe was providing me with lesson after lesson which continually furthered my growth and pushed me further along my path to authenticity in all directions! What is clear though, is the changes that took place to my body!

Once I started really looking at myself and truly embracing and loving all of me, the weight just started coming off. The more personal work I did, the more I lost. I stopped judging myself and started loving the reflection in the mirror. I stopped the stories (in my head) that validated how I was ‘not enough’ because of my weight and started focusing on my being enough and being worthy and simply loving myself! The more I continued to move through things the healthier I felt, the more I wanted to take care of myself. Makes logical sense right, the more we love something, the more we take care of it.

I can honestly say now, that I am writing this blog from a place of worthiness, from a place of loving myself for ALL of me, a place of strength – mind, body, spirit. My body has responded amazingly to all of these internal changes – because I love it and appreciate it. It works hard with me, and the weight seems to be coming off but more important than that is, it doesn’t really matter to me anymore about the weight. Because before everything else, I know that my body is the perfect representation of who I am at this moment. I am sure though the more I work through my life lessons, the more my body will change. I see it happen all the time the more lessons I learn, the more my reflection changes and the deeper my relationship with myself gets. Don’t get me wrong even with all the work I have done there are still times when these old beliefs and patterns show up (they have been in place for years) but the difference is now they are more like little blips on the radar, and I have the tools to calm them before they get out of control.

I understand for a lot of people reading this it may seem a little different, it is definitely not the norm. We are taught if we eat healthy and exercise, we will lose weight but the critical component, in my mind, is that we also need to get our minds in order, let go of our stories, beliefs, and patterns that continually hold us back and love who we are right now! And if you take it outside of yourself (child rearing, plants, pets, relationships etc.) and really think about it, in order for anything to thrive, we need to feed it positivity and love! If all we are feeding it is negative, loathing messages (aka garbage) then it at most will just survive.

 

So why not make 2019 YOUR year to just LOVE yourself for who you are right now! And watch how you too start to thrive!

If you want to take it a step further and are interested in learning tools to help you live a healthier, happier life, join me for a 7-week transformational course starting January 14, 2019. For more information on the Healthy You! Mind, Body, Soul program fill in the information below.

 

5 Life-Changing Resolutions for 2019

The new year is a time when so many of us start taking stock of our lives in efforts to evaluate where we want to make some changes. Most of the time we focus on external changes that we feel will bring us happiness, but what most of us fail to realize is that happiness comes from within.

These 5 resolutions when practiced regularly are life changing! The simplicity of implementing in no way minimizes the positive effect they can have on your life.

 

Prioritize Self-Care

Too many of us, put ourselves last. We give to our family, our friends, work and even strangers, but when it comes to caring and giving back to ourselves, we simply don’t.

Sometimes it’s because we feel we are being greedy if we take time for ourselves, sometimes we feel we don’t deserve it, and sometimes we feel we just simply don’t have the time. Whatever the excuse, it’s this simple. If you continue to give to others and don’t care for yourself, you will eventually burn out!

It may come in the form of withdrawing from life, physical illness or feelings of resentment. However it manifests one thing is for sure if you neglect yourself, it definitely will!

5 Life Changing Resolutions for 2019

 

 

This year vow to yourself to take care of you! You deserve it! Schedule time for self-care … and the important part … actually, enjoy that time. Do things that recharge your soul and bring you joy! If you don’t care for yourself who will?

 

 

Take Time to Pause (Practice Mindfulness)

We all lead busy lives and I understand that you may think “I don’t have time”. The thing is, if you don’t pause, life passes you by. Pausing means taking a minute to be mindful, to be in the moment, to really be present to the current experience. This is a simple thing that you can do at any point in your day. Take the time to just be, it’s like a daily recess for your mind, body and spirit.
Vow to yourself that every day, at least once a day you will pause and be in the moment. Who knows, you may like it so much that you practice it more often.

Practice Gratitude

I have written numerous times on the importance of practicing gratitude. It is something that all of us can do and its effects are life-changing. Gratitude shifts our mind from a feeling of lack and negativity to one of positive abundance. Who doesn’t want that?

5 Life Changing Resolutions for 2019

 

Every day, take time to list at least 5 things that you are grateful for. Some days they may come quick, some days it may be a struggle. But stick with it and you will start to notice that it becomes automatic. All of a sudden you will start to notice you are not practicing gratitude, but living a grateful life and that is powerful!

 

 

Befriend your Inner Critic

 

 

We are our own worst critics! We are harder on ourselves than anyone else would ever be, and yes, there are protective aspects to our inner critic. (read more about your inner critic here). But we do not have to take the negative messages that we say to ourselves as the absolute truth. We have a choice!

 

 

When you recognize that you are being critical try having a conversation with yourself. Recognize the message then choose to not believe it, let it go if it is not helpful! Don’t let your inner critic hold you back this year, move past the negative messages. They are not the truth. Most of the time they are just fear!

 

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This almost goes hand in hand with the inner critic. When we compare ourselves to others, we usually are either doing it in a way that minimizes us or degrades others, neither of which is helpful! Instead of comparing yourself, recognize that we are all different and we all have our unique journeys. The one thing we do all have in common is that we are all doing our best with what we have at any given moment.

 

5 Life Changing Resolutions for 2019

Instead of comparing yourself try having compassion for both yourself and others. Know that you are doing your best and so are they! Don’t assume that you or others are doing things purposely to screw up or hurt you. I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning excited, at the prospect of failing at life, we all try, but we all have our different ways. We all make our way through life the best we can.

 

This year, if you find that you are comparing yourself to someone else, stop and recognize that you are the best version of you and no one else in the world could do a better job of being you!

 

 

 

These are 5 simple things that you can implement today, but the effects are life-changing. When you are able to master these skills, suddenly you may notice that your other resolutions are either now irrelevant or seem easily achievable.

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever 2019 brings I wish you all the best for the New Year. My hope is that you are all able to live a life YOU love!

Dear 2018…

As we approach the New Year I am looking forward to new adventures and new growth. I am also finding myself thinking of the past year and what I have accomplished, and I am reminded that it is important to celebrate our accomplishments and successes. Too often we just gloss over all that we have done, and we rarely celebrate it. Usually, when we accomplish something we just look towards the next challenge. I encourage you to take the next couple of days to reflect back on the past year and recognize all that you have accomplished, these questions will help guide you, to celebrate you!

 

 

What was my biggest challenge this year?

Reflect back on what was the biggest challenge you had this year? How did you handle it? Even if it did not turn out as you wanted, or things were not perfect, what did you do at this time to get yourself through? Celebrate the fact that you made it through and perhaps even learned something along the way. Pat yourself on the back. That you coped and survived, that is awesome.

What strengths did I realize?

Think back on your year, what new strengths can you identify? Is there something that you never thought you could do or something that you said previously “oh that’s not me!” but you did it anyhow? All too often we are quick to judge ourselves and minimize our strengths take this time to recognize your strengths, make a list of at least 30 strengths that you possess. These don’t necessarily have to be new strengths but maybe ones that you have minimized in the past. Congratulate yourself on your strengths, focus on the positive.

Look Back before Moving Forward

What have I accomplished?

Look back on the year and recognize all that you have accomplished. Again, this does not mean that everything had to go right or perfect, but chances are there are still some accomplishments, maybe even smaller, ones that you can celebrate. For example, you wanted a new career and haven’t found that yet, but you have updated your resume, taken courses that will help you get your dream job, or maybe you have stepped out of your comfort zone and applied for jobs that you feared. Whatever it is, the accomplishment doesn’t have to a big huge thing it could be the little hard steps you took towards your big goal.

 

What am I most proud of this year?

Ask yourself what you are most proud of doing this year. For me, I am proud of how much I have grown in the area of self-love and how I have really embraced all the aspects of myself that have shown up this year (the good and the (perceived ‘bad’. I have continued to put myself out there both with my business and socially and have grown tremendously in this area. I have really stayed true and followed my path at times it has not been easy, but I persevered because I know it is the best thing for me.

Be kind to yourself and recognize what you have done this year that you are proud of.

 

These are just a few questions that can help you celebrate 2018 and how you have shown up throughout the year. When you go through the questions, write it down, it is easy when we just do it in our heads to counteract the positive but when it is in black and white it is a lot harder to discount it!

For some of you, this may be difficult (as it is at times for me). We are so quick to judge and criticize ourselves and we feel if we celebrate ourselves that we are bragging or being egotistical, this could not be further from the truth!  If we are shouting from the rooftops how great we are and that we are better than everyone else, then, that is ego. If we are saying “wow, I am proud of myself because I have accomplished this, or handled this, or have these strengths”, that is showing ourselves love and giving ourselves a pat on the back, not bragging!

Bonus

If you do take this time to celebrate 2018 and how you showed up, your outlook for 2019 will be a more positive and it may change your perspective for your New Years resolution from “I need to fix this part of me because it is broken” to a much kinder more compassionate “I want to grow more in this area because I am worth it”.

Wishing you all the best in 2019 and I hope you have a wonderful New Year! Check in next week for tips on New Year’s Resolutions!

 

Grieving Through the Holidays

I have always heard that the holidays are a hard time to be missing someone. Up to this point, they have been difficult, but this year has been the hardest. This is now my fourth Christmas without my husband and I am finding it to be one of the most difficult!

I am not sure why this is. At first, I tried to figure it out. Why is this holiday so hard? After all, it’s not new for me. I almost felt a little angry at myself for feeling this way, but then I paused and thought it’s not about the “why” or about beating myself up about it. It is what it is, and it is part of the process! I reaffirmed my vow to own the grieving process in all its ups and downs.

Grieving Through the Holidays

Be in the Present

I have noticed in my own grieving that when I forecast the future or dwell in the past, the grieving becomes worse. When I am present in the moment, it seems much more manageable. What this means is, when I catch myself thinking about all that I am now missing or how the future will look, it takes me into stories that put me in a worse, more emotional place. Don’t get me wrong I do think about previous holidays we had together and reminisce about the good times, I don’t live in the past though. I smile at the memories that I have and then return to the present.

The same happens when I start to question whether I will be single at future holidays, or if I will ever have a significant other to share the holidays with again. I continue questioning if the holidays will ever look the same. Again, I take myself into a place of fear about the future and what that will look like. Both of these situations cause me unneeded sorrow.

When I find myself getting stuck in the past or forecasting the future, I gently bring myself back to the present moment by taking a couple of deep breaths and grounding myself in the present moment. The thing is, I will always have the memories and I have no idea what the future holds, so I choose to not let these bring on more grief than I need.

Grieving Through the Holidays

Honour Yourself

I have practiced this one since my husband first passed. I honour where I am at. I feel into the feelings I am having at that moment so that they don’t build up and take over me. If I am having a sad day, then it is a sad day!

I honour my feelings and I recognize that they too will pass. How I do this is different depending on how strong the feelings are sometimes, it just takes acknowledging them and letting it pass. Sometimes it takes a mindful practice of recognizing the feeling, having self-compassion, and acknowledging myself and what I am going through. Whatever it takes, I stay with the feeling until it naturally passes. And that’s just it, it does pass, and another one comes rolling in like a wave, sometimes it’s a positive one and sometimes it’s a difficult one. Whatever it may be, because I am choosing to let them pass and honouring them when they are present, they do not become overwhelming.

If you are struggling with your emotions try honouring your feelings, let them happen and don’t try to push them aside or stuff them down – it only makes things worse. You can do this by saying “I am sad today and that is ok”, or “I am grieving today and that is ok”. This gives you permission to have the feeling and acknowledges what you are going through.

Reach Out

One of my most profound lessons from the grieving process is that there is healing in reaching out to others. I have some pretty amazing supports in my life who are there for me. The people that I choose to share with are specific people who do not try to fix me or do not offer unsolicited advice, rather they are people whom I trust and know are there for me. They do not try and make things better, they just offer their presence and a shoulder when it is needed. They support me in the way I need to be and that is priceless.

Grieving Through the Holidays

Previously, I had always felt I needed to be strong and that I was burdening others when I asked for support. It is through the grieving that I realized I have so many wonderful people in my life who are there for me, I just need to reach out. Realizing this has made such a difference! As I said, the people I share with are very special people who I know can offer me the support I need. If you are struggling this holiday, I encourage you to share the weight of your grief with people who can support you. If they are true supports, it won’t drag them down, and it certainly will take some of the load off of you.

To find these supports, be clear on what you need and ask for it. So many times, others feel they need to fix us and they try to offer unsolicited advice or try to show us that it’s really not that bad, or they try to change the focus back to them. I believe that most do this because they feel it will help, but, for me, this makes things worse. Set your boundaries on what support you need and ask for it! If you just need someone to listen, then ask for that. If you need someone to help you in completing your holiday to-do-list, then ask for that. If you need someone to reminisce with, then ask for that. Be clear on what you need and ask for it from the people you trust. I have found there are so many people who are willing, we just need to reach out.

Grieving Through the Holidays

These are three of the things that I am practicing this holiday and it seems to be lightening the grieving and helping me through the holidays. Grieving is difficult anytime, but the holidays have this expectation of being joyful and bright and, sometimes, they just are not…and that is ok! Love yourself through this difficult time!

Sending you much love and hope this holiday season!

The Spirit of the Season

I have been working with people for a long time and, for most of my career, I have worked with people who were living in poverty. I started to notice very early that, despite budgeting with them and setting limits on spending for the holidays, my clients would go overboard and purchase things that were way out of their limits buying gifts for family and friends. It wasn’t long until I realized that there was a lot more behind purchasing gifts than just the gifts themselves. For the most part, these clients were motivated not just by the Christmas spirit, but they had a deeper drive pushing them. This pattern of behaviour is not limited to my previous clients. I see this type of behaviour in all people from all walks of life. I have even noticed it in myself!

When our spirit of the season is not about the feelings of the season and rather is motivated by some underlying energy, it can take our holidays from something fun and enjoyable to stressful, chaotic and even self-loathing. There are three motivating factors that I have noticed in myself and others that can wreak havoc on your holidays.

Any of these sound familiar?

Guilt

I think this one can be especially true for parents. Guilt is evident when we

  • Exhaustedly scouring stores for hours
  • Fight with shoppers because we NEED that item
  • Go overboard and have a million presents under the tree.
  • Or by putting ourselves in debt to make sure you have everything on the list.

In these cases, the energy behind the action is not just wanting a good Christmas, there is something more It feels more like a ‘need’, like you have to, or the holiday will be ruined.

I think the guilt comes from personal perceptions of short fallings as a parent, wife, friend etc. Like my clients, they felt guilty about their kids living in poverty, so they compensated by overspending. For others, I think that the driving force is guilt around not being a ‘good enough’ parent, friend, or partner. They perceive that they have fallen short in some area such as too much work, too little family time, too strict, too preoccupied, generally not being a good enough parent, friend, or partner. This guilt fuels the insanity that is Christmas shopping for many of us. We are motivated not by the spirit of giving or the joy of the season, but rather feeling like we ‘need to’ compensate because we don’t measure up in other ways.

Perfection

Another driving force that I have observed is the need to make the holiday ‘perfect’. Some people NEED the holidays to be perfect, for whatever reason, and they won’t settle for anything less. The results are the same they may put themselves in debt, drive themselves crazy trying to find that perfect gift, run themselves ragged trying to make everything perfect. The thing is, the harder we try to make things perfect, the more we notice that it’s not perfect! Therefore we can either surrender or keep pushing and driving ourselves nuts.

I have observed this perfectionism playing out at family dinners. People spend hours to set the table so it looks just right, spending the whole day prepping and cooking, fixing and adjusting, then collapse at the end of the night from exhaustion. Meanwhile, they missed out on the joy and fun of the day! If we are in this mindset, then I hate to tell you, but there is no such thing as perfect and all the energy you use to make it perfect could be spent enjoying the holiday instead! (Sound like you? Learn more about the problems with perfectionism, here.)

The Spirit of the Season

Compensation

This one is similar to guilt and can go hand in hand, but the energy behind it is a little different. From this perspective, gift giving is viewed as a time to compensate. For example, getting the right gift so that your children, family, spouse, etc. know that you love them because throughout the year you avoid sharing your feelings and yourself with them. This can be either a perceived shortcoming or actually not giving them all of you because your energy is focused elsewhere. Whichever it is, you take Christmas as a time to share all the things you haven’t said, how much you care, how grateful you are for them, how much you love them, how important they are to you. And again, you drive yourself crazy trying to find the perfect thing to express all those locked up emotions. The pressure on getting the gift is immense because it is no longer a gift, but the way to communicate your feelings because you haven’t or feel you can’t do it throughout the year.  That is a lot of pressure on a purchase!

What we are really doing

The ironic thing is if the energy behind our holidays is any of the above, what we are actually doing is spending the holiday doing exactly what we are trying to avoid. Our spirit of the season is not about love, and connection rather it is guilt-ridden, chaotic and stressful! Needless to say less than enjoyable.

Now what?

There is nothing wrong with wanting a good holiday or to find your loved ones gifts that bring them joy, but if you are finding you are killing yourself and stressing yourself out over it, then you need to ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’.

Then really check into the motivating energy behind your actions. If it is guilt, compensation or the need for perfection, then you need to ask yourself if this is really what you want from your holiday. If it’s not, change it!

How to Protect Yourself from Negative People

Have you ever spent time with people who live the glass is half empty lifestyle? No matter what is happening, they ALWAYS have something to complain about! I have to admit I struggle with people like that. I am definitely the glass is half full personality. Through my years working with people, I have come across this personality trait many times. It is still one of the hardest ones for me to deal with.

 

 

 

I find when you are around a negative person it just feels draining, it’s like they are sucking the energy right out of you. Or is that just me? With the holidays around the corner, we are all bound to run into some negative people – angry shoppers, annoyed drivers, stressed out coworkers – all of which can dampen our holiday spirits, but only if we let it! Here are a few ways to protect yourself from the negativity and help you have a happy holiday season.

 

It’s Not About You

I think this is one of the hardest things to come to terms with. I think a lot of the time we tell ourselves that it is maybe something we did or said that put this person into a negative mood. We think if we would have been nicer, smiled more or were friendlier, then they wouldn’t act this way. This couldn’t be further from the truth! When someone is in a negative place they are choosing that. Maybe not consciously, but it is their choice and you are not responsible! You are only responsible for yourself. No matter what you did, or did not do, you can NOT make anyone feel anyway. The reverse is also true they can NOT make you feel anyway either. So, when you encounter one of these negative people, remind yourself “It is not about me”. If you do feel that you have offended someone, then apologize but don’t take the responsibility of their crappy mood, they have a choice!

Not Your Responsibility to Lift their Mood

I felt for years it was my job to “fix” peoples moods (there is still a little voice inside me at times). I felt it was my responsibility to make them feel better. To help them become more positive. I used to try and point out the silver lining, or try to show them the positive side. This is a skill that works well in my own life, but when someone is being negative they often find ways to rain on anything you may point out, which can be frustrating and draining. What I realize now is it is not my responsibility to “fix” other peoples’ moods. It is not even my business how they are choosing to feel. This may sound harsh but unless I am given the invitation, I try to leave people to it. This revelation has mainly come about from the fact that I realize now we all have to face our feelings and that we if we choose to, we can learn from every situation. Therefore, by me trying to fix their mood, I am robbing them of the opportunity to learn and grow.

 

Try Compassion

Despite being able to see how much pain and suffering negative people are in (knowing it is not my responsibility to “fix” them), I still want to help. Having been in a negative frame of mind from time to time, I understand that this is an uncomfortable, unpleasant place to be. Therefore, I understand, that on some level this person is suffering. I choose to use compassion. Either out loud or in my mind, I send the negative person compassion for their suffering. This is as simple as stating “May you find peace”. This simple statement can sometimes switch their mood. Even if it doesn’t, it feels good to hold a space of hope and compassion for them, even if for just a minute.

 

 

Remove Yourself from the Person

 

You have a choice when faced with negativity: You can choose to remove yourself from the situation, by simply excusing yourself or, if that is not possible and you are forced to be in the situation, you can choose to not allow their energy to affect you. This can be done by simply making a conscious effort to not let their energy cloud over you. Say in your mind “I choose not to let this energy affect me.” Or “I block all negativity from affecting me”. By saying this, you are setting the intention to protect yourself. It’s almost like you are putting up an energetic barrier to protect you.

Set Your Boundaries

If you don’t like it, set your boundaries. Tell the person the truth. If you don’t like the behaviour, tell them; if you want them to be a part of their life but don’t appreciate the negativity, tell them that too. You deserve to have boundaries and they deserve to know the truth! Be kind but firmly state what you want. Maybe it’s saying something like “I enjoy our friendship, but when you are being so negative, I struggle to be around you. I would appreciate if you kept your negativity to yourself when we are together” or “I find it difficult to hear you always complaining, I like spending time with you, how can we make this work?”. Trust yourself, you will find the right words. If you really want this person in your life but are having difficulties with the negativity, tell the truth! Check this out, for more tips on setting boundaries.

 

These 5 steps can help you protect yourself from the negativity around you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be positive and reduce the negativity in your life. You deserve a happy, positive life! Try these tips over the holidays because there surely will be people you will run into who are in a negative frame of mind!